Wednesday, 25 May 2011
This time (oh let's make it a bit more original this time) they've also chucked in a few Joy Division tracks too just to get back to their roots...yeah. Total takes us from the very wonderful Transmission to 2005's Krafty in 17 easy moves and then (note subtle marketing ploy) tags a previously unreleased track Hellbent on at the end. Crafty.
All the better known tracks are included of course: Love Will Tear Us Apart, Blue Monday, True Faith, etc. etc., although of course punters will miss out on finer JD/NO moments such as Shadowplay, Your Silent Face and Everything's Gone Green. Tough.
Best thing about it would seem to be the Peter Saville sleeve design which makes good use of the letter 'O' (as in jOy and Order) making ghood use of primary colours which seem to be very fashionable these days. Total is available from June 6th - the kind of thing you might like to get your 17 year old nephew as a present, just to show hime how ace music used to be.
Here's the new track anyway:
New Order - Hellbent (Previously Unreleased) by Rhino UK
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Two birds with one Stein here as Kraftwerk's new single and album were published at more or less the same time in May, 1981. Although neither failed to make a massive impact in terms of (initial) sales, their impact would be much farther reaching both in terms of the minimal electronic sound and their 'computer world'. prophecy. Back then, Pocket Calculator barely scraped into the charts at no. 39 despite it being the group's comeback single, after being so heavily cited by many of pop's new artists - see Duran Duran, Human League, Ultravox, OMD et al - as such a huge influence.
Be that as it may, the pop charts were obviously still not ready for the minimal electronic sound, and the single was taken more as a Sparky's Magic Piano type novelty song rather than a pioneering musical form. Smash Hits scathingly called it a "silly song" stating that Kraftwerk had been "surpassed by technology". Mmmm, obviously missing the point there, Mr Silverton.
The parent album Computer World was similarly dimissed in the same issue as "a bunch of non-songs..as irritatingly gimmicky as "'Tomorrow's World'". Non-songs? Maybe..... Duesseldorf boys Kraftwerk were never ones for the 3-minute verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus to fade numbers, save for, say, The Model, which would in fact become a number one single within a few months. That said, Pocket Calculator did try so hard to be a proper song, without betraying the Kraftwerk ethic.
But tomorrow's world indeed it was: Kraftwerk brought us into a world where computers would control everything from entertainment to money and from business to travel. Data greedily collected by police forces and banks alike. Ring any bells?
Kraftwerk's prophecy would take some time yet to materialise, yet sure enough tracks such as Home Computer weren't far wrong.
Sorry Smash Hits, but sonically it was way ahead of it's time (as Autobahn and Showroom Dummies had been in the 70s). The short 'non-song' Numbers was a key track in shaping dance music in the eighties and beyond. Planet Rock would build on it's rapid tickety-tick rhythym, mix it with Trans Europe Express and, Bob's yer Onkel... hip-hop was born. True, Computer World may have seemed weak at the time, as pure electronic music to be presented in a pop form was still fairly primitive, drum sounds for example were still a problem, but just witness the 'Werk's innovative electronic percusssion to see how far ahead they were. This is 1981, folks, where 'computer science' was something that was studied only by A level maths geeks with big clunky machines spewing huge 'print-outs' of gobbledy-gook computer "language", and electronic music was still by and large that stuff made by the likes of Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream.
When technology finally did catch up, much of the album would a decade or so later be heavily upgraded to fit in with the new electronica dance 'scene'. 1991's The Mix relies heavily on Computer World tracks - It's More Fun.. and Home Computer mixed into a single 'unit', Pocket Calculator united with its Japanese counterpart Dentaku, and Computer Love 'sexed up' into something new. Perhaps not surprisingly Numbers would become a live favourite, again hugely enhanced compared to its original form.
Computer World: prophecy of an imminent future or sci-fi geekiness translated into music? However you took it in 1981, Kraftwerk's compu-conceptual opus remains an icon and at just over half an hour long it's an economical excercise in a minimalist art-form which would shape the future as much as forseeing it. Fact!
As with previous albums, Kraftwerk continued to produce lyrics in English and in German (Computerwelt was the Teutonic twin album issue) and Calculator was also done in French and Japanese. Here's a rare treat however: the Italian version which has only ever been done live or on Ital-telly. So here are the 'Werk with 'Mini-Calcolatore' which also nicely showcases their minimalist, robotic live performance style of the time, to a no doubt bemused studio audience. It's more fun to compute!
Monday, 23 May 2011
Frenchy synth-maestro and guru Jean Michel Jarre has a new compilation out next week called Essentials and Rarities, ie. a disc of 'essentials' (better known stuff) and - more interestingly - a second disc of rare never-heard-before-pre-Oxygène stuff. Tracklist as follows:
from cool Jarre-blog - here's some stuff and mastering and that ....
cool n'est-ce pas?
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
The two day festival will feature a major concert each night. Friday 14th October will include the world premiere of Heaven 17's 1983 album The Luxury Gap performed live for the first time, while Saturday 15th October will be the first ever live show by B.E.F. featuring collaborative tracks from the two Music of Quality and Distinction albums, and featuring guest vocals from Elly Jackson (LaRoux), Green Gartside (Scritti Politti), Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes), Boy George (Culture Club), Midge Ure (Ultravox), Andy Bell (Erasure), Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), Sandie Shaw, Polly Scattergood and Kim Wilde...
Tickets & info here. Thanks to 80s Empire for the tip-off
The celebration does in fact come slightly ahead of the anniversary of the first volume of Music of Quality and Distinction which was released for the first time in 1982. The fairly unusual format of various poular singers covering classic songs didn't really fare too well at the time although Tina Turner's version of Ball of Confusion did revive her career as an 80's star-lette leading to her enjoy hit singles such as Let's Stay Together, also produced by BEF's Martyn Ware. Yes, that's who we've got to thank for that.
That aside, better MoQ&D tracks including the late Billy Mackenzie singing Bowie's The Secret Life of Arabia, Glenn Gregory doing Wichita Lineman and Sandie Shaw with Anyone Who Had a Heart. The album was also released a a special 5 x 7" collectors box set fact fans (although LiM distinctly remembers seeing the single singles in many a bargain bin..ehem)
MoQ&D came back for a second volume in 1991, again without much success.
As far as we know the BEF will sadly not be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Hot Gossip's Geisha Boys & Temple Girls album. Now, that might have been a laugh.
Monday, 9 May 2011
Nighthawks is out on June 27th next, although to get it on CD you'll have to cop a remastered version of Foxx 'n' Budd's Transluscence/Drift Music, first issued in August 2003, as well.
The 3 CD set can be pre-ordered for now at Townsend, with instant download of the track 'Now That I've Forgotten You'.
Although we are familiar with the Foxx/Budd output, Ruben Garcia will a newcomer to these ears. Our ignorance is hardly to be forgiven however as, according to Close Tolerance Music, he is "self-taught pianist, engineer, and producer, with six CDs to his credit"..and what's more "Garcia creates simple instrumental music that is poised on the razor's edge between ambient and new age styles. His compositions possess a superior sense of spaciousness and dream-like soundscapes of delight."
Sounds like the right man for the job then.
Here's a picture of Harold Budd, cos we couldn't find one of the right Ruben Garcia and you know what John Foxx looks like.
Friday, 6 May 2011
Arising from the ashes of Joy Division after lead singer had Ian Curtis topped himself, New Order released their debut single Ceremony in March 1981. Written when they were still JD with a Curtis half-finished lyric and a full on guitar sound (not a keyboard or drum machine in sight), it remains one of their best and most striking songs and fitting tribute to the late lead singer.
True to form, the title is not featured at all in the lyrics and the Peter Saville's bronze embossed sleeve was a stylish affair further fuelling the Factory-band enigma with more than a touch of class. There were of course no proper band photos or any such conformist nonsense and even the lyrics published in Smash Hits were 'unofficial' as the bandstaed they were open to interpretation. A cracking single which Joy Division fans religiously purchased, and were not disappointed.
That said, New Order were still struggling to find their own musical identity, trying to shake off Curtis' legacy while at the same time keeping their indie-miserablist appeal. Ceremony's gloom-laden B side "In A Lonely Place" was their own homage to Curtis, visiting his grave, lamenting his passing and still wishing "you were here with me now". You can almost feel the driving rain dripping down the collars of their trench coats.
The band would go in to re-record Ceremony later in the year having taken on board drummer Stephen Morris's girlfriend Gillian Gilbert on guitar. The ensuing album Movement was still a pretty miserable affair, although an interest by band members in electronic instruments and new computer technology - albeit still rather cumbersome - meant that they would go on to develop their cross-over sound in future single releases. A couple of years later, Blue Monday was invented, the indie-dance divide finally broken down, no mercy shown...
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Lennon built the studio around 1970 after his departure from The Beatles and went on to record his Plastic Ono Band and Imagine albums there, before sodding off to NYC.
The gear is to be auctioned off by recording equipment specialist seller MJQ Ltd who are also putting an Abbey Road mixing desk up for grabs. Lennon's microphones alone are expected to fetch around 5,000 quid each.
Don't all shout at once.
Bizarrely a coffee percolator owned by Starr who later acquired Lennon's home is also being sold. Sadly the Tittenhurst toilet (aka Lennon Loo) was already sold off last year for £9,500.
the Lennon Loo - 40 years in a builder's shed.
The 12" Album / Action Replay 2011 Remasters set contains reworkings of classic Howard tunes such as New Song, Dream Into Action, What Is Love etc. which were first available on the 12" albums back in 1984 and 85. Despite his chunky latter-day synth-pop going out of fashion almost as quickly as his hairstyle and shoulderpads, Howie has been surprisingly prolific over the years, most notably adapting his songs to the 'unplugged' piano only style fashionable in the 90s on Live Acoustic America to great effect. Subsequent albums have fared moderately in the noughties although with electro back on the map it's once more, it's high profile time for Howard.
Check out tumblr blog (inclusing remix comp.), facebook page and soundcloud thing to catch with his latest developments Jones-side.
Meantime, here's Howie in his hey-day with his debut New Song on TOTP, accompanied by,er, mate Jed. LiM recommend debut long-player 'Human's Lib' which contaiing New Song and a couple of other gems. Loads of 'best of' albums also available from good record shops and howardjones.com
Monday, 2 May 2011
Smash Hits called it the sound of revivalist groups in the year 2000 trying to reconstruct the genuine sound of the synthesiser "by banging a hammer on a corrugated roof in time to an assortment of fog-horns, humming kettles and finely tuned cake tins". Not a bad description as it really was like nothing you'd ever heard before.
Phil Oakey's Human League Mark II had already made an attempt to achieve pop success earlier in the year, although thankfully in the meantime he and partner Adrian Wright with local boy and tour musician Ian Burden had met up with producer Martin Rushent and together they came up with what was to be their first real milestone to success, "The Sound of the Crowd".
The ad campaign stated "Hear dance and add your voice" which was the new Human League manifesto in an electro-nutshell. Futuristic sounds which you could actually dance and sing along to this time aided somewhat by the new romantic frilly blouses and men's make-up chic, albeit an ilk to which Sheffield's finest never really belonged.
Backing singers and stylish dancerettes Susanne and Joanne finally did get to add their voice to a Human League recording, and were famously called away from sixth-form classrooms as they had to "do" Top of the Pops at the end of April, 1981.You can imagine TOTP producers' and cameramen's dismay when confronted with a set-up with no guitars, no drummer, but just some reel to reel tape-recorders, two keyboards and some pretty weird looking Northerners to capture on video. It was a draw dropping moment for many and the beginning of Oakey and co.'s much longed for chart success. The 1981 Human adventure was just beginning..... Get in line now!
..with continued thanks to Brian McCloskey for Smash Hits updates..