Cherry Red 1984. MRED60
This post is a request for information as much as anything else. I heard it on Peel and bought it – the usual story. I listened to it quite a lot and bought their second album too. I had an idea in my head that they were a kind of semi-legendary proto-rap group, pre-dating its popularity and as a result not really sounding like anyone else. However my efforts to find out more about them have failed – I can’t find anything at all. Clearly they can’t have been as groundbreaking and influential as I thought.
So, since I was wrong about them, can anyone fill me in?
The album is full of the sort of gritty social commentary I like and a mysticism I’m less keen on. The rapping is much more poetic than is usual and very effective. However it’s a 30 year old rap record so the backing is pretty primitive.
I can’t imagine why I’m writing this blog tonight. The house movers are coming in the morning and I’m surrounded by boxes and exhausted. An escape from the tedium of moving house maybe.
Butterfly 1995. BFLT30
System 7 is a most unlikely outfit. It’s somewhat fluid, but is based around Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy. Hillage especially has a very long history in music, starting with the crazed drug addled psychedelia of Gong in the late 60s and early 70s. Hillage looked particularly ridiculous in those days but don’t be fooled either by that or insantity of what they produced – it was innovative and adventurous music. Check out Camembert Electrique for what I think is their best. He then went on to become a somewhat legendary guitarist – Rainbow Dome Musick is especially good. Giraudy was less prolific but was involved in Gong.
Fast forward quite a few years and Hillage and Giraudy have become very much part of the rave scene and are producing well reviewed electronica. Now in their 60s, they’re still doing it. The technology might be unexpected, but in a way it’s continuing from where their earlier outings left off, tapping in to the party/festival/druggy end of music, and for my money doing it pretty well.
I usually play what I’m writing about while I’m writing it, but the Neu! sample in the Voodoo mix distracted me and I ended up having a bit of a Krautrock fest instead.
I’m afraid postings here have been a bit sparse lately. That’s because I’m emigrating which is a bit of a nightmare and doesn’t leave much time for this sort of thing. To make matters worse my beloved turntable is dismantled and boxed up for the journey. It’ll be great when I get there (South-West France) but right now I’m really hacked off with the whole thing. When I’m settled in and have an internet connection, normal service will be resumed.
Cherry Red 1983. MRED53
My liking for Edward Barton sets me apart from most people on this planet, but with his abrasive delivery removed, the beauty of his songs is more obvious to everyone else. This mini album deals with that by having his (then) girlfriend, Jane Lancaster do most of the vocals. The best known track, It’s A Fine Day appeared here a long time ago, and the rest of the album is similarly haunting.
Cake 1987. 12 PIECE 5
HansPeterExtra wanted a re-up of the Pigbros album I posted a while back. I’m reluctant to do it because it sounds awful and needs re-doing with my fancy new cartridge – for some reason it’s particularly good at salvaging something listenable from poorly pressed LPs. The problem is that about 2/3 of my vinyl is in storage because I’m about to emigrate – and that includes the Pigbros LP, so it’ll have to wait till I’m installed in my new abode.
However, this rather fine single is still on my shelves, so maybe it’ll tide him over till then. I think it was their last – it’s certainly a step up from their earlier work in terms of polish, and the sound quality is decent for once. The two tracks are excellent – both with really funky bass lines and Fuzz Townsend’s exciting drumming. I could live without two versions of each, but it reminds me of why I used to go see them so often back then.
I’ve moaned in the past about the non-availability of live Pigbros material – well I found some the other day. There’s a Mermaid gig (which I was at) here, and their Peel sessions here. Both are horrible MP3s, but as far as I’m aware, they’re not available anywhere else.
Enemy Records 1988. EMY106
OK, so let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Band name is crap, album title is crap, and this must be the worst cover I’ve posted so far. What this unpromising artifact is though is one of Bill Laswell’s innumerable projects. In fact I can’t believe that almost a year into writing this blog, this is the first Laswell post I’ve done.
As is usual with Laswell, this is a collaboration, in this case a group of traditional Korean drummers whose thunderous rhythms fit surprisingly well with Laswell’s dubbed out funk. This is a live recording, and sounds improvised to me, although my guess is they set up some of the motifs in advance and did a spot of rehearsal.
Bill Laswell is irritating because he has no quality control at all. He records incessantly and everything gets released, garbage or gem. This, rest assured is a gem.
American Recordings 1995. 74321 25986 1
MC 900ft Jesus isn’t like other rappers. There’s none of the usual dull subject matter, nor is there anything approaching the delivery you’d expect; he’s mellow and understated. He sounds more like a narrator telling a story, although there’s usually the sense that he’s not being entirely serious. The 4 mixes here are a bit unnecessary, but it’s much better than having none.
If you want more, his wonderful first album (with DJ Zero) Hell With The Lid Off isn’t hard to find, and you can download a 1992 live set from his facebook page.
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.
On-U Sound 1982. On-U LP 17
It’s been too long since I posted any On-U material, so to remedy that here’s an early release from Bim Sherman. For me his voice is so beautiful that I’m happy to listen to pretty much anything he recorded, but even without that, this is a strong dub album as you’d expect from the label. It’s not as experimental as the material they became best known for – sometimes it’s straight up reggae, sometimes pleasing but predictable dub, but this is a solid effort from guys who really know what they’re doing.
My copy looks absolutely mint, but unfortunately crackles in places. Somehow the crackles remind me of the handful of Jamaican pressed singles I have so it’s not as annoying as it might be.
Cake 1988. 12 PIECE 6
I came across this the other day as I was packing up my vinyl for my impending emigration. I don’t remember buying it and I know nothing about the band. There’s nothing on line either, except according to Discogs they did an album.
It’s on Birmingham based Cake records, so I assume, like everyone else they had on their roster, the band were from Birmingham. I must have bought this because it was cheap and on Cake, or maybe I picked it up at a gig. I went to so many gigs back then, I struggle to remember many of them.
So is it worth a listen? Well I quite like it. Nicely funky, and unlike the far superior Pigbros (also on Cake), reasonably well recorded. The remixed version is a very odd affair with lots of middle eastern percussion. The singer unfortunately is pretty awful, but even that fits with the late 80s indie thing.
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.