Thursday, 10 November 2016

Happy Birthdays

Happy 35th Birthday this week to two seminal early 1980s albums:

Architecture & Morality 
by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark


Tin Drum by Japan 

also a Happy 30th Birthday to

Brotherhood - New Order 


Electric Café - Kraftwerk

Compilation albums which were also released in early November 1986:

Kate Bush - The Whole Story 
The Police - Every Breath You Take

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Bottoms on sleeves no. 8

UFO - Force It

Not so much bottom but for of thigh and leg on this one although these is a hint of a pair of buttocks on this most unusual and controversial of Hipgnosis sleeves.

What we have here is a kind of surreal bathroom setting where a half naked (bottom down) young lady is taking advantage of an almost half naked (bottom up) young man (the plumber?), forcing him against the wall in the bath/shower. Oh and the title is a pun on the word 'fawcett', ie. a tap (hence bathroom setting, geddit?).

I know nothing about the record, or indeed about the band, other than it was published in 1975 and was their fourth studio album. It didn't chart and neither did it spawn any hit singles although according to allmusic, songwriters Schenker and Moff were finally finding 'their groove' on this one and "the group launches itself wholeheartedly toward the hard rock direction that would make them stars". Fair enough.

Anyway we're more concerned with the cover here and to that end there are one or two interesting points. Firstly, wiki would have us believe that the bathroom twosome on the cover are couple Genesis P. Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti, a pair of scamps indeed who got up to all kinds of controversial tricks in the 70s (and beyond) with their COUM Transmissions "performance art" project. We haven't found evidence or confirmation that it is actually them although given that they got up to much bawdier tricks than just posing half naked in a bath back then, one wouldn't put it past them. Orridge and Tutti also formed their own band Throbbing Gristle with Chris Carter in 1975.

Second point of note is that those prudish USA people had to publish their own version of the album cover in which the couple are basically invisible, a nice piece of early photoshopping, which probably took about a month to do in those days. Plenty of 'force-its' still on display though.

Force It was remastered and re-issued in 2007 - you can listen to it here.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Bottoms on sleeves n. 7

Yes - Going For the One

Haven't had a bottom for a bit, and what better place to look for one than the Hipgnosis back catalogue, as they seem to have been quite partial to the odd bottom.

Released in 1977, Going for the One is the eighth studio album by the UK prog super group Yes. The album marks the return of their original keyboard wizard, Rick Wakeman who had left last time because he couldn't get on with the others.
After many successive and famous album covers with Roger Dean, Yes contacted Storm Thorgerson’s and Aubrey Powell’s design group Hipgnosis to create artwork for their new album. As well as a very handsome male bottom, the album cover features the facades of the Century Plaza Towers in Los Angeles, also known as the Twin Towers - not be confused with New York's Twin Towers which aren't there anymore.

Going for the One is one of Yes' best known albums, not least as it contained a couple of their few hit singles, namely Wonderous Stories and the album title track. European (but not prudish UK) releases also used the bottom for the single sleeves.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Spotted on Spotify: The Man Who Fell To Earth Soundtrack

Exactly the kind of thing Spotify is good for, and worth paying a monthly subscription for! ie. something you're interested in hearing but don't really want to shell out the cash for .. and it's Bowie related.. It's the soundtrack to The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1976 film starring Bowie although the music is not by him at all. It's by - quote: "John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas fame (who composed specifically for the film), and Stomu Yamash’ta" unquote.

Not sure if it's any good, and to be honest I've always struggled a bit with the film itself, so let's see if the music stands up by itself. You can buy the 2xCD now andin November there will be a deluxe 2CD/2LP  but in the meantime, listen here!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Spotted on Spotify: It’s Immaterial - 'Life’s Hard and Then You Die' #newmusicfriday

Not really new music as this album originally dates back to 1986, but it's one I've been pretty attached to over the years even though it never really seems to figure in my true favourites of the eighties and otherwise. Some may remember the truly original single 'Driving Away From Home', which made It's Immaterial into a kind of one hit wonder, even though I am still baffled as to why the truly brilliant Ed's Funky Diner wasn't a hit too - that is one of my most favourite (eighties) 12" records ever.

Anyway their cheerfully titled album Life’s Hard and Then You Die has now undergone a long overdue makeover and has been fleshed out with all manner of goodies to form a deluxe edition. This definitely needs investigating as a timeless work of pop by the Liverpool duo which never really adhered to any particular genre so remains undated and may even sound like it has just been recorded. For the uninitiated think China Crisis with a bit more edge.

The new Deluxe is available from usual outlets and also thankfully on Spotify, which is how we are enjoying it for now, even though sadly the John Peel Session versions are not available in said streamage. We'll just have to wait for the real thing to plonk on our desks. Life's hard....

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Sound of the Crowd at 35

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Human League's seminal single The Sound of the Crowd, here's a Spotify playlist.

Friday, 15 April 2016

New releases: April 2016

01.04 Pet Shop Boys - Super
- new album out lready and certainly their best for a long time. Now on heavy rotation at LiM - plenty of electro-dance stuff with a few slower numbers chucked in. Fave tracks atm: Groovy, The Pop Kids, The Dictator Decides

08.04 All Saints - Red Flag
Bit of a throwback to the nineties rather than the usual eighties, although these lovely ladies have always produced quality pop music so their new comeback album has been worth a listen.  Fave tracks atm: One Strike, Red Flag.

08.04 The Very Best of Associates
- while waiting for re-issued remasters of their first three albums (including Sulk on vinyl) here's something to tide you over. 2 CD collection including a lot of previously unreleased material.

15.04 Phil Collins - No Jacket Required
Phil Collins continues his re-mastered deluxe re-issue schedule (inclusing updated cover artwork) with his  third album origianlly released in 1984. Includes hits such as Sussudio and One More Night, with the by now customary live performances and demos on the extra disc.

15.04.2014 Duran Duran - Girls On Film 1979 demo

Out in both CD or clear 7" vinyl format, this is the official release of tracks which have going round on bootleg for some time now. The recordings pre-date Simon Le Bon as vocalist and, obviously, their first hit singles and album in 1981, so definitely for curiosity's sake only.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Spotted on Spotify: Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls (1984)

Pet Shop Boys are very much in vogue again at the moment what with a new album and no less than 30 years of pop music making under their collective belts. Radio 2 dedicated a special documentary series to them in fact.

On a warm spring day in 1984 I remember, as a student, going into a record shop in Morecambe Lancs., and fishing out a 12" single from the bargain bin. It was the first release by Pet Shop Boys entitled West End Girls - an extended mix by Bobby Orlando on the A side and another song, appropriately called Pet Shop Boys, on the flip. I'd heard of them via Smash Hits - Neil Tennant was famously a former journalist on the fortnightly mag - so I bought it, took it home and listened to it quite a lot. That record, together with Shannon's Let the Music Play and Depeche Mode's People Are people were on heavy rotation during those warm early summer days indoors.

It wasn't until a few months later that pet Shop boys had a hit with the song West End Girls, although it was in a radically remixed form with beefier drums, trumpet and a female backing vocal, which gave it a bit of extra oomph and indeed got them to number one.

I've jealously kept hold of my original West End Girls 12" over the years especially as I'd noticed that it had never been re-released on CD or in digital formats.

Until now. I just noticed that there are two versions of their somewhat obscure and half-forgotten debut (though still not the one I've got!) on Spotify, where PSB are extremely well represented both with albums and singles. Enjoy the original West End Girls and an early version of  One More Chance here on Spotify - also available on digital download platforms.

Spotted on Spotify (an occasional series)

Over the next few weeks we'll be posting a number of reasons why we think Spotify is a totally wonderful thing and is not killing music at all, in fact it's making it more widely available for a reasonable amount of money, and artists are getting paid anyway so they should stop moaning.

Stay tuned, stay Spotified.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

"I'll drink to that..."

Depeche Mode's album Black Celebration was released 30 years ago today (17/03/86).

Time heals all wounds, as someone once said, and I think it's definitely the case for me and my initially very difficult relationship with Black Celebration. On first hearing (I bought the cassette a few days after its release) I was rather disappointed and didn't like the overall sound of it, or the quality of the songs.

That was for two reasons in particular. Firstly, their previous album Some Great Reward released in late 1984 had been a fantastic album for me. I loved every song, every note, every lyric. I saw them perform live that winter too and it was also when I met my first and only love. We've been together ever since. Secondly Depeche Mode had produced a couple of fine singles since that: Shake the Disease, (bypassing the 'Greatest Hits' pusher It's Called a Heart) and more recently, as a taster to the new album, Stripped, with its truly magnificent Highland Mix.

But any hatchets that arose between myself and Depeche Mode in the Spring of 1986 have now been firmly buried and I can appreciate Black Celebration for the great album that it is. 

Black Celebration can be heard on Spotify here.

Read The Quietus' re-visitation of Black Celebration here (originally published for its 25th anniversary in 2011)

Thursday, 10 March 2016

West End Girl

I've been keeping my eye on British actress Jane Horrocks ever since she did a cover version of JD's Isolation a while back .. 

Now she's gone for the full blown West End show featuring music by some of my fave artists: Joy Divison, The Human League (Mk. 1), Soft CEll, New Order.....oh and the Smiths.

The show, called If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me will be at the Young Vic from tonight until 16 April. A soundtrack album has also been promised.

source and pics: BBC News 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

2016 > 1976

Looking back on a year in music that happened 40 years ago.

Monday, 11 January 2016

David Bowie - 1947 - 2016

My Top 10 Bowie, off the top of my head, but in more or less chronological order

1. Space Oddity

2. Life on Mars?

3. Sound and Vision

4. Boys Keep Swinging

5. Ashes to Ashes

6. Let's Dance

7. Loving the Alien

8. Sunday

9. Sue

10. Blackstar

He will live on. Forever.