Sniffin Rock 1989. SR006A7
This is another magazine freebie 7″, but since this one (despite what it says on the label) plays at 45 and doesn’t have too much music crammed onto it, it sounds OK.
The music is great too. There’s an exuberant run-through of Guest Informant by The Fall recorded live in Vienna (Get the original on The Frenz Experiment which has recently been re-issued as part of a very good value 5 CD box). There’s an insane amount of Fall live material available now, most of which isn’t worth hearing, but this is an exception; it’s sharp and well recorded. Then there’s the excellent Shamen track, Christopher Mayhew Says which is the true story of a plummy sounding MP taking LSD as an experiment, complete with hilarious samples of the man himself. I don’t have the regular release of this, so I don’t know whether this version is different. I know nothing about Silver Chapter, but this is a great organ driven Rock N Roll track – perhaps I should have taken more of an interest in them.
DJ International 1986. LON LP 22
House music was pretty exciting when it first appeared. The problem though was buying it – there were few “names” to follow and the record shops which stocked it were very intimidating for a geeky indie kid trailing around record shops in a cheap suit in his lunch hour. I did brave those shops from time to time asking for something I’d heard on the radio, but most of the time it was compilations like this one which made the genre accessible. This is a very early example and it includes most of the important early movers. It sounds primitive and not all the tracks work so well nearly 30 years after the event, but the best of them are superb. Steve “Silk” Hurley’s monumental Jack Your Body charted as I recall, but it’s the thumping bass line which really makes it work. Mr Fingers has appeared here before. As as for the rest, Marshall Jefferson’s contribution is a monster and more-or-less defines the genre, while JM Silk and Farley Jackmaster Funk aren’t too shabby either.
NME 1985. GIV1
Back in the 80s, British music papers sometimes gave away 7″ singles. They often included exclusive tracks by interesting artists and at a time when music was expensive to buy and I was broke, I was pleased to have them. The downside was that they always played at 33, had way too much music crammed onto them and so sounded terrible. However, for dull technical reasons, my vinyl rig is particularly good at extracting what little sound quality there is on these discs, so I’ve been ripping some of them over the last few days.
This one is of particular interest because it includes an exclusive Smiths track from a show they did in Oxford. Most of that gig has appeared in various places in decent sound quality, but this track only ever appeared on this single. The whole gig is crying out to be issued as an official live album, but there’s no sign of that happening, so right now, this is as good as you’ll get. There’s also a nice Cocteau Twins track – a re-recording of Ivo, a Bronski Beat track which I rather like, and finally U2 which is not my thing at all.
The sound quality isn’t great and it crackles a bit, but it’s listenable and worth it for the rarity of the material on it.
Imaginary Records 1988. ILLUSION 002
Covering Beefheart tracks is rarely a good idea; they really are best left to the man himself. However I was young back then and knew no better, I was tempted by the strong line-up and the novelty (then) of the concept.
The album is of course quite a mixed bag. There are tracks which grate (The Dog Faced Hermans for example) and some which are close copies of the original (XTC – impressive but why bother?). It works when the material is taken somewhere new – I like The King Of Luxembourg for being bonkers and the Screaming Dizbusters just play some great noisy rock n roll.
Really though, if you haven’t already done so, get some Beefheart rather than listen to this stuff. Trout Mask Replica for his weird masterpiece, Safe As Milk for early blues based stuff, and Clear Spot for, well, my favourite.
Vindaloo Records 1986. YUS 8
This is a sampler for Vindaloo, the Brum label run by Robert Lloyd. It’s best known for discovering We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It, represented here several times. In their early days they were probably the most incompetent band I’ve ever seen, but they were charming, fun, and wrote some decent material. I also thought they did a good job during their chart phase, although that was never really my thing.
However, for me Vindaloo’s main achievement was Ted Chippington, the otherworldly non-comedian I first saw supporting The Fall. You may well hate him – most do, but his belligerant refusal to obey even the most basic rules of comedy made him utterly unique as a performer. There’s none of his stand-up here, just some musical “numbers”, which are hilarious if you get it; the worst karaoke you’ve ever heard if not. She Loves You got some daytime radio play (Steve Wright liked it as I recall) and was a minor hit. Yes, it’s a joke, but I think he performs it with real pathos.
Normally I like the Nightingales, but here they were in a weird Country and Western phase which I thought was terrible.
Rē Records 1984. Rē 1984
My mid teens were dominated by a scarcity of music. I couldn’t afford to buy much and hadn’t discovered Peel, so my subscription to Birmingham Record Library was pretty important. The trouble was they had a buying policy dominated by snobbery. There were huge quantities of dry classical music which didn’t appeal, some jazz which I mostly didn’t understand, vast quantities of what was called “Easy Listening” back then – the likes of Bert Kampfaert. They thought that the people who liked pop music would damage the records, so there was precious little of that. The diminutive Rock section though occasionally had some gems. I hadn’t heard of most of it, so I used to borrow records based mainly on whether I thought the cover looked interesting. It led to some pretty awful music, but also some discoveries which have stayed with me since. One day I borrowed a Soft Machine retrospective, Triple Echo and was completely mesmerised by everything on which Robert Wyatt appeared, an obsession which has never left me. There’s been none of it here so far because most of what he recorded is still available, but this is an exception.
Robert Wyatt has always been profoundly political so it was no surprise to see him on this benefit EP for the Miners’ Strike. It’s short, but is an absolute gem. The project was put together by Chris Cutler who wheeled in a bunch of mates, including Wyatt to perform the two jazz based tracks on side 1. They’re beautiful songs sung wonderfully as alway by Wyatt. Side 2 includes two spoken word pieces by poet Adrian Mitchell. I don’t normally go for that sort of thing, but these two work well. The first is a bit of a rant about how horrible school is, performed as a kind of spoken blues. The second is a post apocalyptic tale. Sandwiched between them is a remix of an old track from Henry Cow – a band Wyatt has worked with and who were consistently interesting.
State Injustice 1989. SIJ 1
This is a very rare, but sadly not valuable benefit album released as a fund raiser for Martin Foran who was one of many victims of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, now thankfully disbanded. Foran finally had his conviction overturned earlier this year, which seemed too little too late.
It’s a rather odd mix of tracks – from the thrashy indiepop of the Mega City Four through two obscure Welsh language punk bands, an early Shamen exclusive and the majestic Dub Syndicate, here appearing with the silky voiced Bim Sherman. There’s even some poetry from the ever reliable Brummy Benjamin Zephaniah. As you might imagine, it’s not the most coherent of albums. I guess inclusion relied more on support for the cause than anything else. Despite that, much of the material here is worthwhile, and as far as I can tell, unique to this release.
Food 1986. BITE4
I am, in theory, sunning myself in the south of France, but it’s actually cold and wet. There is no justice.
Anyway, I uploaded a few bits and pieces before I left, and here’s one of them. I know nothing at all about this series of compilations, and this is the only one I have. It doesn’t hang together very well, but there are some gems among the more forgettable stuff. As I recall I bought this for the Bogshed track, which as far as I can tell is exclusive to this release and is, predictably, fabulous. It’s odd to see Pulp on such a lowly compilation, but if you’re not familiar with their history, they languished in obscurity for years before they got their breakthrough Manon is a rather obscure B side. McCarthy have appeared before here, and the Brilliant Corners are always worth a listen.
Special mention goes to Easterhouse. If you were in a Karaoke bar, you’d be awestruck by this performance, but given the existence of The Doors version, you really have to wonder what on earth they were thinking when they recorded this. Maybe it was aimed at da kids who’d never heard the song before. And yes, I know Howlin’ Wolf recorded it first.
Other than that, this is just random Indie stuff from the time, which may or may not float your boat.
Anagram 1984. GRAM17
This is a fun compilation of what I guess you’d call psychobilly – an amalgam of rockabilly and punk which continues from where The Cramps left off, and shares their love of B-Movie horror.
The three best tracks are back-to-back at the end of side 1 – The Milkshakes, The Vibes and The Meteors – it’s pretty hard to sit still when they come on. The Very Things have featured here before, and put in a decent showing on Side 2.
Def Jam Recordings 1987. KIKIT1
I ripped this for the first track, The Beastie Boys’ Rock Hard. It was an early single which sampled AC/DC’s Back In Black, but unfortunately the Aussie oafs took offence and it was swiftly withdrawn. As you might imagine I’m not much of an AC/DC fan, although even I have to admit that Back In Black is a bit of a classic. I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through the album though – it gets mighty repetitive. This track however improves vastly on the original – somehow it has a lot more punch and it really rocks. Maybe that’s why AC/DC were offended. Whatever, it’s a difficult track to find these days and has never had a digital release of any sort.
There are a few other decent tracks here. The best of course is Public Enemy, which is an interesting early track from their first album – before they got political. The subject matter is really dull (their car), but it’s a hugely entertaining track. It’s on their first album, Yo! Bum Rush The Show if you want more. LL Cool J contributes the hilarious I’m Bad which is a bizarre ego driven fantasy about what a bad boy he is. Like PE, the material might be preposterous, but he delivers it with aplomb.
Much of the rest hasn’t aged too well, but I rather like the simplicity of The Junkyard Band and Original Concept. Their track, Can You Feel It isn’t the same as the Fingers Inc version I posted earlier, but it gets its name from the same sample from a Jacksons live album.
I’ve re-upped a load of stuff to Mega. It’s mainly big files, especially the Virgin Ambient compilations. I’ve never got on very well with Mega – downloads don’t seem to work a lot of the time, and when they do the file gets squireled away somewhere I can’t find it. Let me know if it works for you – I don’t want to waste any more time uploading old posts if no-one can access them.