was to become Marc Almond’s Fantastic
Star CD was one of the most disappointing
results of my whole commercial record production
career, which it concluded. Its particular
story seems to reflect the whole self-destructive
malaise of the non-creative side of the business...
Anderson: Strange Angels
I first saw Laurie perform, at the Ritz (which
is now Webster Hall) on 11th Street
in New York in perhaps 1982, I thought I
had seen the future of rock+roll. I
even used the phrase in polite conversation. Here
was this person who could create a compelling
and singular musical/theatrical event by
dont remember much about their music,
except that it was delivered on the tiny stage
by three raucous women singers supported by
a drummer and a guitarist. One was a statuesquely
tall bass player, one had the quickest stage
wit Id heard in years, and the other,
also voluble, played various things including
timbales which fell
off the stage at.....
millennium is approaching. Dont just
stand there, do something, dammit. BETTY
had already started the process by writing Millennium
Man, a song not about the new year dawning
but about a slightly suspect character who
would be around next year. It had started,
as many do, as a jam, a couplet (Here
he come, Millennium Man) then
completed by a.....
Jungle Jane Remixes
US MP3 remixes
downloadable MP3 is the new single. Since
the Stereo Society is both studio and online
record company (among other things), we can
create a piece of music and make it available
the day it is finished. The deadline is not
as final as when you have to master and manufacture.
So, we decided
to do two club mixes ourselves.....
Beat: Age of Consent
the flying start of Bronski Beats recording
with Smalltown Boy in England, the studio
action had shifted to New York for the majority
of Why? before finishing in a Julian
Mendelsohn mixing room at the Town House studios
in London. Why? had been exhausting,
ultimately taking over two days to mix, but such
are the pressures of .....
Beat: Smalltown Boy
is cool. Thus declared Londons Time
Out magazine without a trace of irony after
Jimmy Somerville, Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek
as Bronski Beat had delivered the most unlikely
British hit of 1984. The media was struggling
to catch up with and assimilate these confusingly
affable gay activists.
has a novel in them. And everyone has a song.
So they say. They who say so may have noticed
something more. In record-making, its
an old cliché. You spend the first many
years of your life getting ready for your first,
and it contains all your good ideas from that
period from the
year dot to your present age.
Beat: Hundreds and Thousands
collection of tracks which eventually coalesced
into the CD of Hundred And Thousands started
off as a couple of interim singles to be released
before the eventual second album which was
not to happen. The recordings started with
Jimmy on board, continued after his departure,
and concluded with a virtual reappearance thanks
to fresh new.....
Cale: Honi Soit
Cale has one of the most ferocious presences
of recent pop music. Casually demolishing
the popular myth that out-there intensity
is incompatible with musical technique and
proficiency, he has delivered over 30 years'
worth of albums which manage to
Carmel, who called it quits (for the first time) in 1997, was a vibrant,
pioneering trio, the heart of what was usually a much larger performing
ensemble. The eponymous singer, Carmel McCourt, has an extraordinary voice,
whose pure R&B sound........
The Drum Is Everything
The tension was
far too good to last. With Bad Day,
Carmel the group and I had delivered an unlikely
hit single and were now required to proceed
to the next stage of the standard business
model. Success begets success, they say, but
you do have to work at it. Carmel’s recording
for London Records had already started as a
project which tested the rules of process.
We couldn’t continue with a basic Bad
Day method? Far
It's All In The Game
Records and the
music they convey should always be personal.
That’s an ideal, and we know that most
efforts don’t even think of subscribing,
commercial entertainment now having its eye
more on the bottom line than driven by passion.
But recordings and performances should always
be a window into the soul of the artist, a
view of someone’s naked feelings opened
as widely as possible. Some records are more
connected to events........
mid-eighties was a nasty, bitter time in the UK. Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher and the unions were going toe-to-toe over
her insistence on dismantling the workers collective
right to a summary strike. Each side was shouting past the
other, and the collision between the governments autocratic attitude
and the union leaders.....
Purple: Fireball air conditioning
had enjoyed the singular sound that the air
conditioning made in the string section mics
when it was turned on after a take. (Such was
the racket when it was running that sounds
smaller than Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar’s
Marshall stack were not recordable without
turning it off.) Yet it came to be that this
AC unit was perhaps the most appreciated in
Men: Walk On Gilded Splinters
are some recordings which just demand to be made.
Once you have yielded to the inevitable, youll
often find yourself in the grip of a process
that you dont quite control, but you know
that to flow on with it to the natural end is
the only chance of seeing something new. Death
and glory are the only possibilities when you immerse
yourself in such anarchy.
Ives: Universe Symphony
Many times, we all asked ourselves whether we would do it all over again. It’s hard to imagine a project on a similar scale. In the early stages, part of the terror for me was the unknown, possibly unsatisfactory entity that we would only hear clearly at the end of this radical recording, and my only comfort could be from the demonstrated consummate skill of both Charles Ives and Johnny Reinhard: four generations apart, these two. What kept me going was...
Reinhard Raven(ing remix
Johnny Reinhards Raven could
not have been delivered without acknowledging
the importance of feel: up to seven musicians
would be stuck in a tiny room, although with
no separating screens. They were in the same
space, without earnest acoustic separation.
The CD Raven stands tall, and the proposal
to remix and shoehorn it into another
style sounds suicidal......
Pistols: Anarchy In the UK
2002, its now 26 years since Londons
1976 summer of punk, a season with one of the
most severe water shortages the city has ever
experienced. The Sex Pistols were the flag-bearers
for the new punk action, which quickly woke
me up and provoked my third childhood (the
second was in the late sixties). Recently,
things dont seem to have changed so
quickly and as radically.
Pistols: Jubilee box set
I was to be a lone throwback to the house producer
when offered the job in 1977, a year in which
I would produce five albums including my first
top 20 and first gold disk. However, the previous
year was spent diligently pursuing an A&R
career with no thought to further progress.
In the process, I recorded several demonstration
tracks with the Sex Pistols just after they signed
all know about the Ramones, the Talking Heads,
Blondie, Television…..the seventies list
goes as far as you care. Later, when CBGB’s
became establishment, more and even bigger
names would grace its tiny stage (bathrooms
to the left, downstairs). But in the seventies’ Golden
Age there was another lively layer, of bands
various reasons, didn’t
make the household-name grade.
Shirts: Street Light Shine
Shirts now sounded a different band altogether.
The had developed a long way, and, better still,
they now found themselves on home ground. From
the first (effected) piano chords of Laugh
And Walk Away you hear a confident, steady
combo, a rich vocal sound from Annie in her
best range, as you now do throughout the album.
Another Dutch hit, another well-received US
release. More European acclaim. More
indifference in the US.....
and the Banshees
all records are made in heaven. This one certainly
wasn’t. It’s sometimes worth looking
at a failure to see what can go wrong. Sometimes,
Murphy’s Law is inescapable with a given
collection of characters. In retrospect, we
didn’t have a chance to connect and make
a song in this world, let alone bring one from
the edge of it, but.......
Cell: Tainted Love
song, a hit for Gloria Jones in the sixties, was clearly a strong
one in some people's minds, since she re-recorded it in 1975, on
her EMI album Vixen, co-produced with Marc Bolan just before
the late-night car accident on Barnes Common, in West London, that
killed him. By the late seventies, it had became a club staple
on the English 'northern
Cell: Non Stop Erotic Cabaret
the world going mad around and about us, it was time to record
the follow-up to Tainted Love. That first major-label
single from the group would go on be the biggest-selling single
in the UK of 1981, eventually topping charts around the world
and even making #8 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in a national
market defiantly resistant
to new sounds......
Cell: Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing
had scored three consecutive top-five singles in the UK, and Tainted
Love was so in demand and so over-used that some New York
club Djs would be playing the UK 45rpm single at 33 1/3 in
a desperate attempt to find a new angle. (US extended
12” singles were generally cut at 33, UK at 45, so this
probably first happened as an enlightened
In a pleasantly
unguarded moment many years later, while working on Fantastic
Star, Marc Almond and I would agree that Torch was
the best single of the many tracks we made together in
the intense and creatively productive period that included
Soft Cell's first two albums. The dominant A side of what
was intended to be a double-A side, brings
Cell: The Art Of Falling Apart
knowing exactly when the phrase was coined, I’d guess
that the title of the double album probably wasn’t invented
until late in the recordings. But Soft Cell continued
their uncanny knack of delivering songs and sounds which mirrored
their current mental and psychological state. Unfortunately....
Machine: Alive And Well In Paris
the sixties, you had to be either for the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. A
less noted polarity was between Pink Floyd and Soft Machine, two
groups emerging from London's psychedelic jungle. Although
the balance of power between them was even as their first two albums
came out, Soft Machine went on to
Of Saxes: White Cliffs Of Dover
London Saxophone Quartet had been friends since the very early 1970s. 1976
they were the hosts and organizers of the World Saxophone Congress,
held at the Royal College of Music in London. One typical idea
that had been formulated several pints into one very pleasant London
pub evening was that they
coined the expression pop will eat itself. Punk did,
and has become just another genre. Play fast, turn up the distortion
and off you go. Adoption of an attitude has become a style in itself,
and a bad attitude something nice to wear on a Saturday night, attractive
to a particular crowd, but without the challenge
Roxy London WC2 (Jan-Apr 77)
current heat wave being suffered by New York in July 1999 is nothing
in comparative terms to that of London in 1976. The heat
traditionally drives people into losing it and doing crazy things. The
summer of punk now looks inevitable.....
||The The: Uncertain Smile
1982, UK single
There are some projects which turn out immaculately and whose recording and production feels effortless, as if the participants were just following a pre-ordained path down the mountain with the stone tablets. Free will seems suspended. Even better, some of these records gain popular recognition...
||Thorne: The Contessa's Party
In the eighties, we would go out to dance and to check out new music. Simultaneously. Over the succeeding years, I watched the originating music and the dance floor diverge. I wondered if it was possible to put them together again, to make a party record with music that changed and developed...
Tuesday: Voices Carry
has always sustained a rock+roll scene which is both creative and
intelligent. The club scene there, even now, is actively ahead
of the national average when it comes to enjoying a plain, unpretentious,
down-home good time. Posers need not apply. Til Tuesday
came as a big surprise to many when
difficult to write about a classic record. While not quite
the Sergeant Pepper of the new wave, since Pink Flag's release
in 1977 it has featured in so many personal-best lists and its contents
have been subjected to much curious analysis and speculation. The
album is Wire at the point of metamorphosing from
I Am The Fly
Flag, which shocked us all by the ferocity of the favorable
reviews, we had to make an interim single before embarking on what
was to be Chairs Missing. Suddenly, the group was
on the precarious edge of commercial viability, despite the limited
response to the first single from that.....
the release of their second album, Wire were dubbed 'the Pink Floyd
of the New Wave'. It could have been the ultimately flattering
phrase but it made everybody jumpy. Pink Floyd were establishment,
potentially dinosaurs, and Wire didn't want to be that. Even
so, the two groups have much in common: their
albums all persist.....
single was never going to Louie Louie or Born In The USA. The
music was written by Colin after Graham had given him the lyrics
relating to the domestic problem of the serpentine miner, an insect
which lives in a leaf and eats chlorophyll. In our slightly
hermetic Wire bubble, this didn't seem particularly
were fraught sessions. Perhaps we'd all been living together
too long, although the experimental mood on the album was served
by the conversational shorthand you develop over a long time, when
fewer words are necessary to explain. After a few quick demos
to test and for the five of us just to settle in again, we
went off to.....