Monday, 25 September 2017

Opera for Infantry - Hopscotch (1984) C60

Opera for Industry were the first band to write to me and ask if I'd like to release their tape. I think they got my address from Colin of Family Patrol Group. The tape was called Hopscotch, and it was a bit rough, but nevertheless a fair bit more convincing than any of my own efforts in the same noisy direction, so naturally I said yes. Then they changed their name to Opera for Infantry as acknowledgement of their residence in Amesbury, Wiltshire, a town full of squaddies and camouflaged types; and then they started their own label and released a million tapes, including one of mine; and then they eventually became the Grey Wolves.

Just for the record, and seeing as this one has come up a few times, and I feel I'm in some sort of position to address it having known these people on and off for the last three decades, albeit at a distance - I always understood the whole point of the Grey Wolves to be protest mounted by means of a sort of sensory overload, bombarding the audience with horror upon horror to the point at which there is no choice but to react - which is more or less directly stated in their Cultural Terrorist Manifesto; and this is why they've been accused of extremist right-wing sympathies from time to time, because they've made use of imagery suggesting the same but, I would argue, towards entirely different ends to those from which such imagery has been appropriated. In other words, the point is to inspire a positive reaction against the authoritarian status quo not by educating you, as Crass might do, but by scaring the living shit out of you. Whether or not such tactics work or are at best badly misjudged is another thing entirely, but that's how I've always seen it.

Anyway, Hopscotch was their first album, so far as I'm aware and is fairly revealing as to where the lads were coming from. Confrontational electronics was kind of a new thing at the time, and those dabbling were still very much experimenting rather than just forming Whitehouse tribute bands, which came a bit later. To me, Hopscotch always sounded like it owed at least as much to Reality Asylum and the other, noisier works of Crass as it did to Gristle and the like, particularly Winds of Mauthausen.

Hopscotch is a racket, and a primitive racket amounting to two blokes with a Jen SX1000 and a ghetto blaster making a noise in a scout hut, the hard electronics equivalent of Link Wray or something, I suppose; but I'm surprised at how powerful it still sounds, all things considered.

I've cleaned it up as best as I can, editing out all the clicks and pops of turning the tape on and off with what sounds like a cheap Woolworths cassette in the deck. Also, three different inlay cards are included, a homemade version forged from swinging mags in which the initial cassette was presented to me for my consideration, a photocopied one which came with the master tape they sent once I said I'd like to release it, and the overly fussy fold out Do Easy tape cover.

1 - Hopscotch
2 - Winds of Mauthausen
3 - Repetition
4 - Hopscotch Revisited
5 - Playing with Fire
6 - Propaganda
7 - Black Christmas

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Monday, 18 September 2017

v/a - A Sudden Surge of Power (1983) C90

You may have noticed how I'm in the habit of apologising for the stuff I post here, occasionally even writing something amounting to I wouldn't bother if I were you; well, not today. A Sudden Surge of Power gets my vote for the greatest compilation tape of all time, and it's probably no exaggeration to say this thing changed my life when I first heard it. This collection tipped me off to a lot of stuff without which my life would have been significantly poorer, and of the eighteen individual contributing artists, there remain just eight whose work I never subsequently hunted down on vinyl or on other tapes. Fuck - I even ended up knowing a few of these people as friends. Third Mind's Red Sand is the one which always seems to get the publicity, and which is fondly remembered by industrial music historians who weren't actually fucking there; and Red Sand is great, and yes, I would never have bothered checking out DDAA were it not for that tape, but Sudden Surge was the one you actually listened to for pleasure because it was such a fantastic and varied assemblage of the weird and wonderful with a good few of those Wild Planet big names we were all gagging to hear.

Some trivia:

  • Laugh by Mandible Rumpus may actually be the greatest song ever to appear on a compilation tape. Their 7" single wasn't as good though. Shame.
  • These two Mex tracks come from the lad's Happy Life 7" which, at the risk of hyperbole, is probably one of the greatest 7" singles of all time, alongside Gambit of Shame's wonderful 18 out of 20, in which Mex also had a hand. Complete your Mex collection here.
  • Cult of the Supreme Being were Mex and the late and greatly missed Robert Dellar, in case anyone was wondering.
  • These are still my two all-time favourite Attrition tracks. I've heard a million versions of Monkey in a Bin but this one remains the most powerful for me.
  • John Balance had something to do with Cultural Amnesia, but I'm not sure what - unless he just supplied the artwork for them or summink.
  • Behold - even Chris & Cosey's track sounds great!
  • Dave Henderson's favourite track was apparently Strangeways (because that's what he told me, so it isn't really apparently at all), and wouldn't it have been fucking wonderful if 400 Blows had lived up to their initial promise at least long enough to make a decent album?

The tape came with a highly informative 24-page A5 booklet with contributions from everyone involved, which I've scanned and included in the download along with cover, flyer, and a CFC tapes catalogue of the time.

1 - Mandible Rumpus - On the Floor
2 - Mandible Rumpus - Laugh
3 - Mex - Happy Life
4 - Mex - Veins
5 - Gambit of Shame - Gambit of Shame
6 - Section 10 - Mr. Parker
7 - Cult of the Supreme Being - Chlorine Fills My Lungs
8 - Cult of the Supreme Being - God is Thicker than Water
9 - Attrition - Hang Me
10 - Attrition - Monkey in a Bin
11 - Test Dept - Shockwerk
12 - The Cause for Concern - Disturbing Visions
13 - Martin Howard Naylor - Modulation 4/5
14 - Cultural Amnesia - Colourblind
15 - Cultural Amnesia - The Pigs Are Coming
16 - Paul Kelday - Angel Hair
17 - New 7th Music - Apocalypse
18 - Chris & Cosey - Light Fantastic
19 - We Be Echo - Survivalist I
20 - We Be Echo - Sex Slave
21 - Ramshackle Ammunition Band - Space Song
22 - 400 Blows - Strangeways
23 - Twelve Cubic Feet - Fred's Song
24 - Red Herring - UAB Advert
25 - Red Herring- Crispy Wrap

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Monday, 11 September 2017


I had a good one all lined up for this week, but have had to postpone my posting it at last minute. It's a tape by someone whose work I've posted before and with his blessing, but this is material from a group he was in with some other guy, and he decided it might be an idea to check with the other guy regarding my sharing this material; and as I still haven't heard anything else, I've yet to get full permission to share the thing, so I'm erring on the side of caution and sitting on it for however long it takes.

This left me with nothing much to post, so as it's been a Death Magazine 52 kind of month - what with the Family Patrol Group material I posted a few weeks ago, and Mike Grant of the same commenting, and my getting hold of a copy of their excellent retrospective double album released by Harbinger a couple of years ago - I figured I may as well digitise my tape of the Death Magazine 52 performance from when they appeared on the same bill as Whitehouse and Family Patrol Group at the Mermaid in Birmingham back in 1983. I don't recall D.Mag 52 / SHC being particularly amazing that night, certainly not compared to Family Patrol Group, but it seemed like the tape should be of interest to someone. So I digitised it and immediately realised why they had seemed so underwhelming: they played for about six minutes and knocked it on the head, so it's really just a track rather than a live gig. The evening is described in more detail in the Family Patrol Group post, and I therefore gather that whichever two - or maybe it was three - of the Death Magazine 52 collective had turned up to play that night must have felt as though it had been a mistake and pulled their own plug or something. It's a shame really. There's a tantalising burst of rhythm about half way through the track (which I don't remember at all from the event itself), hinting at the kind of material I've heard more recently on the Harbinger album, but I guess it just wasn't happening for them. Anyway, if you're interested, this was Death Magazine 52 briefly live at the Mermaid, Birmingham on the 27th of August, 1983.

While we're here, somebody asked me if there was any chance of FLAC files of the Academy 23 and Apostles material I've digitised a couple of weeks ago. I posted some before, but only kept them up for a month or so due to the space they took up on my PC. Anyway, I have a different PC now as the other one blew up, and space is no longer such a concern, so here are those FLAC files again, for whoever it was. I'll leave them be this time seeing as there appears to be some demand and I expect I may be asked again. The artwork can be found with the downloads of MP3 versions of the same tapes which you should be able to get to from the index.

I'll definitely post a proper tape next week.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Do Easy - Don't Talk (1987) C60

I should have taken my own advice and kept my mouth shut for the duration, but never mind. This was almost the last tape I recorded as Do Easy, mostly recorded in the college sound studio on a four-track TEAC, and thirty or so years later, I'd say it sounds mostly decent providing you don't pay too much attention to the words. I was young. I wasn't very happy. I hadn't had sexual intercourse in well over a year. I looked funny and people kept calling me names as a result. Musically speaking, this was mostly me, although Information through to Animation of Life, and also Down in the Echo were collaborations with Garreth Roberts, so that's mostly him singing or speaking on those; Steve McGarrigle also contributed in some way to In One Day and the remix of This Can't Go On Forever; and the sonic dog's dinner which was Sound Levels in Arabia additionally features Paul Fallon (who was also in the Spinning Pygmies with Garreth and myself for about forty seconds) and some bloke called Matt, about whom I don't remember very much at all.

Let me see...

Information was recorded as the soundtrack to a video piece, as us artists call them. The video comprised stills of drawings by Dennis Nilsen, and Garreth is reading out poems written by the same on the soundtrack, as you can hear. The point was that the material is only identified as having been the work of Nilsen at the end of the video, so everybody goes ooh! and agrees how playful and subversive it all is blah blah blah audience expectations blah blah blah. The drum machine pattern on Sound Levels in Arabia was originally written for the only song I wrote for Envy, which mercifully we never recorded because it was shite. Caroline A was me deciding I wanted to be the Jesus & Mary Chain and to record a proper pop song with a video of an actual band playing it, and I was going to give copies of this demo to my loyal recruits so they could learn how to perform my masterpiece, but luckily I lost interest and never got around to it. HSC was recorded after hanging around with TD and is pretty much an inferior rip-off of a track he recorded as Frenzied Encounters, which I've yet to digitise.

...and no, I never got around to a formal release of this one either, so no fancy cover I'm afraid.

Don't worry. I'll post a proper tape next week.

1 - Paper Tiger
2 - HCS
3 - In One Day
4 - Information
5 - Complicated Animal
6 - Sound Levels in Arabia
7 - Animation of Life
8 - This Can't Go On Forever (remix)
9 - Don't Talk
10 - Caroline A (demo)
11 - I Want You
12 - Down in the Echo

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Monday, 28 August 2017

v/a - Political Piggies (1984) C60

This was the first compilation put out by Trev Ward and Dave Padbury, then collectively known as Opera for Infantry. Opera for Infantry eventually morphed into the Grey Wolves and had a string of hits, as you'll probably remember, whilst simultaneously stirring up controversy of a general thrust implying they might actually subscribe to some of the extreme Fascist beliefs blasted forth in their music. Having met them a couple of times and spent at least a few years writing to Trev, I'm confident of this being complete bollocks, and clues as to why I might hold with such a conviction can be found here, a tape firmly rooted in the short-lived but fertile period of cross fertilisation occurring between weirdy electronics and the anarchopunk scene; and yes, I'm well aware of all that post-left green anarchist shite having been plopped out of the same arse, but that's something else entirely...

I think this was also the first compilation to which I was asked to contribute, so apologies for my tracks. Marginally less crackly versions can be found elsewhere on this blog if you're stupid enough to look for them. Anyway, it was massively exciting finding myself sharing ferric oxide with Nocturnal Emissions, Nurse With Wound and the Apostles, and I still say this was a fantastic genre-busting tape. You'll probably recognise a few of the names here, and I'm pretty sure the Nocturnal Emissions and Nurse With Wound tracks resurfaced elsewhere, although The Strange Life of August Strindberg was almost certainly an exclusive at the time. Steve Stapleton was known for his generosity when it came to tape labels no-one had heard of asking him for tracks. There's more by Anarchist Angels and Family Patrol Group elsewhere on this blog, if you want to check the index. There's more about Epidemic on the excellent Punky Gibbon site, and Alternative and the Destructors were pretty big names at one point so you should be able to find something about them if you look. Alternative released stuff on Crass, for example.

I suspect they may have been experiencing some technical difficulties at Anal Probe Tapes world headquarters when they were running off my copy of this tape, unless the fuck ups were on the master copy. The tracks varied in recording volume quite a bit so I've tried to bring the quieter ones up to the same level. Also there were a couple of instances of what sounds like a lead cutting out - first during Living a Lie, after which the track comes back much louder. I did some fucking about, raised the volume of the first verse, and copied the missing riff from later in the track so as to effect a repair, which is hopefully better than listening to the track with a few seconds silence just as the chorus kicks off. There was also a gap in the middle of Seen through Tear Stained Eyes, occurring during a sung passage ruling out the possibility of making a repair by copying anything from elsewhere in the song, so I've er... just copied and reversed a bit to at least make the screw up sound deliberate, which will probably make more sense if you listen to the thing.

1 - Nocturnal Emissions - Rabbits Don't Cry
2 -
Anarchist Angels - I Cry with Despair
3 - Destructors V - Urban Terrorist
4 - Do Easy - Waterside at 12
5 - Epidemic - Living a Lie
6 - White Elephants Over Jamaica - Adverts
7 - Alternative - Seen through Tear Stained Eyes
8 - Do Easy - Kick the Dwarf
9 - Epidemic - No Identity
10 - Family Patrol Group - Cronus
11 - Opera for Infantry - Resettlement
12 - Destructors V - Khmer Rouge Boogie
13 - The Cause for Concern - The Occasional Me and You
14 - Alternative - Caroline's Carnival
15 - Nurse With Wound - The Strange Life of August Strindberg
16 - The Apostles - The Phoenix

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Friday, 11 August 2017

Regular - Regulation Issue (1988) C60

Regular was the work of John Jasper, the man behind the Joneses and with whom I worked on the Illyana Rasputin tape. I already wrote plenty about him on the blog entries for those two, so please feel free to have a quick look at them so as to avoid my having to repeat myself. I can wait.

John recorded a ton of this stuff, and due to the general indeterminacy of his character, it wasn't always easy to tell when he'd run me off a copy of his new shit, or whether he'd just nicked a few bits and pieces from obscure On-U label records and failed to mention that they weren't actually by him. Anyway, the point is that he was very prolific, and this was definitely all his own work, and presumably the stuff of which he was most proud judging by the fact that he went down to that place on Rochester High Street which had a colour photocopier, ran off a load of covers, and decided it was an album. As you can probably tell, he was significantly influenced by On-U, Sherwood, Tackhead, Scientist, all of those guys, and for my money he definitely brought something new to the table.

The credits found on the insert were mostly pulled out of John's head, although let's face it, we've all been there with our own imaginary bands. I'm not credited but that's my voice you can hear on A Voice in the East, and also my cheapo Casio sampler which lived around at John's house for about a year. Glenn Wallis of Konstruktivists lived just up the road from John around this time, and I definitely remember them attempting to record something together. The voice on Naked They Go does actually sound a little like Glenn doing one of his characters, but I suspect it's something John took off the radio or another record. Janine, John's girlfriend of the time, can be clearly heard vocalising on Punjabi, but beyond that I've no idea where to draw the line between fantasy and reality. I'm not sure why Regular either - knowing John it was probably some esoteric nod to Reg Varney.

John was the most violently unreliable man on earth, but also a lovely guy and very funny, and I still sort of miss him. More than anything I wish he'd spread a few more of these tapes around, or that someone had chucked a load of money at him and forced him to put out a record; but never mind.

1 - Mission Impossible (Martial)
2 - Come into the Room
3 - Ghetto Swinger
4 - Touch (dub)
5 - Echo Bass (dub)
6 - A Voice in the East (a Memory)
7 - Naked They Come...
8 - Naked They Go
9 - Touch (Seikh Massacre)
10 - Touchdown
11 - Punjabi (Vaca-Dabi)
12 - Powder Room
13 - Bone Rattle
14 - Swing Low
15 - Likrish Tash
16 - Massacre

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Friday, 4 August 2017

Lead Shoes - Lead Up the Garden Path (1985) C46

Unlikely Records - whom I suppose might be best remembered for an early release of those Milovan Srdenovic numbers which were eventually reissued as Songs from West of the Pelvic Girdle - sent out a request for material. Put your best stuff on a C50, suggested Robert Cox - I think his name was - and if I like it we'll release it on Unlikely Records. I put together a Do Easy tape, which was rejected for obvious reasons, but I also mentioned the proposal to Steve Coots, with whom I shared a house. Like myself, Steve was on the Time Based Media course at Maidstone College of Art. To be honest, he could be fucking hard work at times, but he was often funny and I really liked the music which he recorded in the college sound studio under the name Lead Shoes.
Unfortunately, Unlikely Records didn't seem to like Lead Shoes any more than they had liked Do Easy, so I offered to put the thing out on my own label. Lead Up the Garden Path, was Steve's best of tape. There's a potted history of the band on the cover, included with the download, which I can't be arsed to type out here, but for what it's worth I recall Eat Your Peas as being fucking great, and I really wish I'd kept a copy, or that Steve had included it here, but never mind. Steve was into a lot of music which I couldn't stand and still can't - Pink Floyd and Genesis, but also Philip Glass, Michael Nyman and those guys, the influences of which you can probably hear on this collection. Neither the Cockney Rejects nor Sham 69 had established much of a presence in his record collection. I'm not even sure he owned a copy of Machine Gun Etiquette. Mental.
Lead Shoes were named after a pseudo-surrealist film by Sidney Peterson which Steve loved, although I wasn't that impressed when I saw it as part of our film course. Steve later ended up in a somewhat laboured wacky folk band with Charles Thompson called Heads on Springs. They were a sort of trying too hard hey kids, poetry isn't just for squares type operation which I prefer not to remember in detail, just as I prefer not to remember sharing a house with Steve in detail, but even with such unpleasantries in mind, it has to be said that the guy recorded some fucking great music. It also has to be said that Steve McGarrigle's wonderful trumpet playing on a few of these tracks didn't hurt.
This tape makes use of Brian Eno's old EMS synthesiser and the poorly quantified involvement of someone from And the Native Hipsters. There were two covers because the first one didn't photocopy very well, featuring a photograph of the head of a tailor's dummy called Norman. Steve had Norman placed at an upper floor window of an earlier house in which he'd lived so as to cause innocent passers by to shit themselves when they caught sight of him.

1 - Sniffing Glue
2 - My Street
3 - Baseball on Sunday
4 - Beautiful Dreamer
5 - Drowning in a Coffee Pot
6 - Submerged
7 - Blink
8 - Night Soiler
9 - Holding My Nose
10 - Four Legged Friend
11 - Waltz
12 - Happy Feet

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