HAPPY BIRTHDAY @comedyminusone !
Count Floyd - “Reggae Christmas Eve In Transylvania” from the Count Floyd EP (1982)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY @comedyminusone !
Count Floyd - “Reggae Christmas Eve In Transylvania” from the Count Floyd EP (1982)
The B-52’s “Cake (Original David Byrne Mix)” from the Greek 1982 release of the Mesopotamia EP.
You can’t tell from the front cover, but the difference between the US Mesopotamia EP from 1982 and its initial European counterpart released slightly earlier is quite huge. The tracks on the first-pressing European versions have really long, sparse, dubbed out versions of “Loveland”, “Cake”, and “Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can”, which make up half the EP.
Reportedly, the B-52’s were disappointed with the results from the initial release, so some editing and remixing was done before it got released in the US in 1982. Almost a decade later, Mesopotamia was remixed for a CD reissue (alongside Party Mix!) in 1991 that, yet again, drastically changed the EP tracks — this time in the mix itself, making the songs approximate the classic B-52’s rock sound of their early days.
The 1991 re-release of Mesopotamia has the best mix of all, but the initial European release of the EP is clearly the most interesting, and nearly the best. The extended versions of half of the EP is why.
I’m not interested in knowing if or when there was drama between the B-52’s and David Byrne, the producer of the EP. This is the music business, so drama and disagreements are par for the course if or when they happen. I’m interested in knowing what happened during the journey of making and releasing Mesopotamia that ended up with this drastic juxtaposition between the 1982 releases.
The common theme I hear is “running out of time” — which certainly would explain a lot. While the songs on the EP are a nice if bizarre change from the previous material, the 1982 mixes do sound a bit murky.
Also, I’m wondering if Byrne was trying to Party-Mix!-ize the EP his own way just before the European release and only got half done? Keep in mind that Byrne had just been on a musical journey with Brian Eno, most recently with their collaborative release My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, and before that, Eno producing Talking Heads' Fear Of Music (1979) and Remain In Light (1980) — Byrne of course being a member of Talking Heads.
In brief, David Byrne in 1982 had a brain filled with extra amounts of avant-garde suggestions. The B-52’s certainly were borne out of avant-garde ideas themselves. (Listen to early Yoko Ono, and compare that to the first B-52’s album, notably “Dance This Mess Around” and “Hero Worship.”) I’m not sure Byrne’s avant style was the best match for the B-52’s avant style, in retrospect.
I chose “Cake” from the three tracks exclusive to the initial European Mesopotamia because it’s the most fulfilling of the three tracks — no pun intended — and the song is an eerie precursor to 2000’s dance groups !!! and Out Hud, among others.
Listen and enjoy!
Fine Young Cannibals - “Blue (Version)” from 1985’s “Blue” UK 12” single.
Why the recent Edsel reissues skipped over this older Fine Young Cannibals gem is beyond me. “Blue (Version)” is the definitive version of “Blue” to me, compared to the album version from the self titled album.
While I understand that the album version had to be consistent with the slightly more synth-based production throughout the album, the backing instrumentation on “Blue (Version)” is clearly superior. The Northern Soul style suites Roland Gift’s vocals far better than the sparser album version.
This is ripped from the “Blue” 12” directly, then slightly EQ’d and remastered. If you listen carefully, you can hear the vinyl crackle & pops, especially in the fade out. But I hadn’t encountered even a decent digital recording of this song, so I did this one myself.
The Most Important Record Of My Life
(This entry is a repost from a blogpost entry I did in 2009. The record has come back into my life again, thankfully, hence the repost.)
The Harmony Of The World was the first record I ever bought. I was only 8 years old, and the 25 cents my grandfather gave me to buy this record from a neighborhood garage sale in Pacific Palisades, CA circa 1980 wasn’t technically “my” money. However, I had a choice of records, and my pick was made. And I was holding the money to acquire it. The only other hobby that interested me more than music and computers at that age was astronomy. At that moment, there was nothing cooler in life than space and astronomy.
I had zero interest in Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back (having just been released that year.) Those were just movies. Neither was about real space. Having read several books mainly concentrating on the nine planets and all their discovered satellites at the time, and having my interest in music grow and grow each year, a record about astrononomy was a major score.
I wasted no time putting on this record the moment I got home. I didn’t know what to expect… and what I heard was nothing I would expect.
An 8-year-old doesn’t care how accessible or difficult a song or album is. It’s either cool or it is not cool. Since this was an astronomy record, it was automatically cool. This meant that if I didn’t “get” what I was listening, I was going to force myself to understand why this record was cool, no matter how long it took.
I had no clue what to make of The Harmony Of The World. There’s no singing. There are no voices at all. There are no melodies, and there are no rhythms (to an 8-year-old, that is.) There was a lot of scary humming sounds that went on for a long time. The only fun I could get out of the record was to play around with the speed of playback.
The giant 70’s wooden monstrosity that was my grandparents’ stereo system had a built-in turntable with four record speeds: 16, 33, 45, and 78. I would often just play around with these four speeds whenever I gave The Harmony Of The World my daily listen.
It wasn’t until too long that my mother and grandparents asked me to use headphones whenever I played “that” record. They bought me a pair of headphones just for the purpose of saving their sanity from my super cool astronomy record. “Why don’t you listen to other records? You played that one enough already.” They never realized how much they were daring me to play this record longer and longer every time they asked that. How dare they tell me to put away something they knew I loved. I was always overly obsequious to my elders. I never was when it came to The Harmony Of The World.
Two months later, I was giving up. I was growing tired of trying to figure out why The Harmony Of The World existed. Nonetheless, I refused to toss this record aside. Even though I had moved on to more conventional records by Lipps Inc., The Gap Band, Devo, and XTC, I knew I had something special, and always kept it in a special place since.
Several years later, thanks to two adventurous 80s radio stations in Los Angeles: commercial station KROQ and college radio station KXLU, my tastes in music had expanded beyond mainstream pop and dance circa 1985. I had no friends from grade 7 to 12, so the radio, the record store, and the cooler magazines at the nearby supermarkets were my only source of music discovery. My family always encouraged me to indulge in music, as it certainly was keeping me out of trouble, so I went record shopping every weekend.
The last summer before I headed out to college at UC Irvine in 1989, I came home and played my Happy Flowers record Oof. I put the needle on the track “I Said I Wanna Watch Cartoons.” Happy Flowers were a Charlottesville, VA duo known for making nauseous sounding noise rock with affected baby screaming and elementary bullying as their vocal delivery.
My grandparents and my mother ran into the living room and thought I was choking or dying! They found out it was just the record I was playing. “HOW CAN YOU CALL THIS ‘MUSIC’? YOU SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON RECORDS, AND THIS IS WHAT YOU BUY? THAT’S DISGUSTING!"
Somewhere in the middle of my whole family yelling at me, I turned my head. And for the first time in almost 10 years, my eyes landed on the corner of “that” record poking out from the little pocket inside my grandparents’ still functioning 70’s wooden stereo monolith.
I’ve kept and protected The Harmony Of The World ever since. It changed my life. During those two months of stubbornly listening to the record in all possible manners, this process rendered me immune to being turned away by how weird or odd or experimental any music could be. I also realized I wasn’t constrained to how I wanted to hear my records, thanks to playing around with the speeds on my grandparents’ turntable.
The biggest irony, however, is that I finally understood The Harmony Of The World when I played it for the first time in nearly 10 years — and I became extremely disturbed. I quickly calmed down once I realized the benefits I got from this record. Yet, The Harmony Of The World became and has remained the creepiest record I’ve ever heard.
The full title of the record is: The Harmony Of The World: A Realization for the Ear of JOHANNES KEPLER’S Astronomical Data from Harmonices Mundi 1619. It was made by two Yale professors in 1979: Willie Ruff and John Rodgers.
I was just about to post a link to my vinyl rip of this record, as I had yet to see another copy of this record in existence. However — according to Amazon — this record is currently available for purchase. So I will hold back from my original plan to share the album in light of this discovery. I just purchased the CD, and will report back if this CD’s contents differ from the album’s.
Just take this as a recommendation, in case you’re looking for bowel churning drones — and also to get a small slice of what has changed the course of my music tastes and hence my life.
(So this ended my original post. Now for some postscripts.)
PS: It turns out the version listed on Discogs and available as a CD-R on Amazon is not the version of the record I have! The general idea and sounds are the same, but the available version only has three tracks. Mine has five tracks. More on that in a future post. (FORESHADOWING)
PPS: I only discovered a few months ago that while I knew, since, that this record wasn’t super rare, I had no idea that a sample of the general sound was the intro to a B-52’s single — of all fucking things — “Is That You, Modean?” from Good Stuff. Now,I love the B-52’s (although not a fan of Good Stuff.) But I went through a brief snobbish denial that something so sacred and personal to me had actually been played & ignored several times on MTV in the early 90s and listened to by hundreds of thousands of fans of this group, even if they didn’t know what that was.
My goal is to *cause* the Grand Music Appreciation Loopback
IM LAUGHING SO FUCKING HARD
it gets better
The holy grail of Land Of The Loops rarities, at long last!
Chimera - “Catch Me (Potbelly Dub by Land Of The Loops)” (1997) from promo CD-single Catch Me - New Mixes.
One of the greatest releases by Land Of The Loops (aka Alan Sutherland) isn’t either on Slabco Records or Up Records. It was a remix on a promo-only single for the Belfast shoegaze/dream-pop band Chimera. They only had the one album, pretty much — and this. Philip Steir (from Meat Beat Manifesto, ex-Consolidated) does remixes on this single as well.
Essentially the idea for this single was: a) Have both Steir and Sutherland each do a straightforward vocal remix of the song “Catch Me”, and b) have each do an instrumental mix that gives the remixer more artistic freedom.
Having heard Philip Steir’s remix work before, he’s very good at remaining faithful in his remixer role while adding touches of his own. While Land Of The Loops did this on the vocal remix (with the awesome name “MX vs. BMX (which is radder?) Mix”), the opposite was true on the almost-instrumental Potbelly Dub mix. This is basically a Land Of The Loops track with echoes of the original vocal track faded in and out and echoed beyond.
Consider this a great outtake from 1996’s Bundle Of Joy or 1997’s Refried Treats at the very least, Loops/Slabco fans!
Written in the Bones. New comic, written by Christopher M. Jones & illustrated by Carey Pietsch.
I’m hoping to have printed copies of this at MOCCA, ABPCC, and TCAF this spring, and SPX in the fall! More info to come.
Me and Carey worked really hard on this comic; if you got something from it I’d love for you to reblog it, and maybe even buy a copy from Carey when she’s in town or even if she’s not. Thanks so much for reading.
Thompson Twins - “Fast Food” (1980) - B-side to the “She’s In Love With Mystery” 7” single
Thompson Twins were an interesting post-punk rock band before they were an interesting new-wave/pop band. This track would fit very well in between XTC, Buzzcocks, Soft Boys or anything in the Messthetics series of compilations. (Soft Boys bassist Matthew Seligman would leave the band to join the Thompson Twins briefly in 1982)
Volume All*Star “Final Exam (Remix by Beatnik)” from Alpo Boy EP (1998) #slabco
When I first discovered Slabco records, via the Land Of The Loops album Bundle Of Joy released via Up Records in 1996, I had no idea I would be still be enjoying the entire Slabco records roster more than 15 years later.
I was already into trip-hop, and hearing Land Of The Loops and other artists served as a candy-coated median between the grey, grey primary trip-hop artists and the whole Big Beat/Electronica era of the late 90s.
There are three reasons I still stand by Slabco: 1) Slabco releases are primarily agreeable across multiple genres. 2) Most of the music on the label is just… fun! 3) It makes great background music, which is a under-travelled road to longevity.
The world isn’t fair for letting Slabco quietly go away. I will bet a modest amount of money that there will be a noticeably public rediscovery of this label before I die. I thought it would have happened already, thanks to Chillwave. But it seems Chillwave has already puttered out of existence.
I could have chosen any track on the label. This just happens to be the track I’m playing on repeat now. Beatnik is Ron Hudson, who’s a co-producer of the Prose And Concepts album Procreations from 1994.
Rotary Connection - “If Peace Was All We Had” (Custom Remastered) (1968) from the album Peace.
This is usually considered Rotary Connection’s weakest album for understandable reasons. It is a holiday themed album, clearly from viewing the album cover. It also has a fair amount of stoner jokes within the album, making it slightly less family friendly and slightly more corny to fans.
Probably the biggest reason, and the least cited reason, why it’s the least popular is that it’s not a comfortable album to listen to. The CD version that’s available (in the US, anyway) everywhere in used bins via One Way Street has a compressed and muddled mastering. While I can’t recall if the original vinyl version sounds vastly superior, I’m guessing that’s not the case.
Here’s why… it’s Rotary Connection’s most heavily layered album.
Because of the poor sound of Peace on CD, I ripped the entire CD to WAV files, did a custom remastering of it — increasing the overall EQ but especially the highs and lows, balancing the stereo more to the left, as it was to heavy on the right-end as is, and adding a tad compression — then re-encoded to MP3s. (I make no promises that I’m a remastering expert, but I know I can do this and make it sound better to my ears, at least.)
What stood out from the result is how LOUD this album is. Charles Stepney’s Wall Of Sound production on Rotary Connection and Minnie Riperton studio work makes that of Phil Spector or Brian Wilson seem timid in comparison. Stepney always seems to maximize the angelic qualities of this subjects. And Rotary Connection and Minnie Riperton are perfect subjects. But on Peace especially, the layers and the tensions on many of the songs reach Richard Wagner levels of intensity and — probably to some — pain.
It’s important to remember that despite the goofy Christmas themed album cover, the record is called Peace. Every song — including the amazing and up-and-coming holiday standard “Christmas Love” — contains themes of being anti-war. Obviously, some anti-war songs are not meant to be pretty and light.
"If Peace Was All We Had" is probably the most Wagnerian song on the album. In the final third of the song, the orchestral layers of the song get louder in each set of bars, as the key note rises a half note at a time. This is a more recognizable feature in a raw Glenn Branca composition than it is any holiday song you may know (and I’ve heard versions of "Partridge In A Pear Tree" that were specifically made to sound like a dirge.)
So, to close this with the worst pun you’ll hear for the remainder of the year… please give Peace a chance.
My Dad Is Dead - “Babe In The Woods (#2)” from the Shine 2x7” from 1990. Later from the Shine(r) compilation from 1996.
My Dad Is Dead is such a perfect autumn band. While the original “Babe In The Woods” (from 1987’s Peace, Love & Murder) is a solid high tempo number, it’s this version that really gets to me. It definitely has a road trip quality to it.
I normally hate imposing cover ideas onto other bands, but the vocal delivery on this song sounds like something The Mountain Goats would be best suited to take on; and they’d do a kick ass job of it.