Monday, 31 August 2015

The Dovers - The World of the Dovers (1991) C60


I probably already wrote as much as you really need to know about the Dovers here, but if you can't be arsed to read all that for whatever reason, the Dovers were myself and my good friend Carl Glover, although I actually still think of us as the Dovers even now for what it's worth. I played guitar, Carl programmed the drum machine and sang, and we played live quite a lot. Needless to say, we sounded kind of basic, although I personally prefer the term primal, but were fun to watch according to at least a few of the people who saw us and then bothered to turn up at a second gig. I sort of enjoyed the gigs, but I always worried that we might sound a bit like Carter the Unlistenable Sex Machine or one of those baseball-cap-festival-and-references-to-Blockbusters bands of whom there were far too many at the time. We started recording on portastudio around 1990 or so, and took the opportunity to produce something a bit more layered than what we had been doing live, something with room for nuance 'n' shit. We recorded a lot of material but somehow never quite got around to doing anything with the tapes. The World of the Dovers was vaguely intended to be our first album, at least by me, and would have been released through my Runciter Corporation tape label had I got around to it, but for some reason I never did.

I remember this stuff sounding decent, but I'm surprised at how good it sounds now, at least to me - thankfully more reminiscent of Wire or maybe bits of Mark Perry's Alternative TV with an Iggy influence than Carter or Pop Will Regard Itself With Studied Irony or any of that auld shite. I'm also surprised at how good that drum machine sounded, pissing over most of those tedious work / obey marching bands. Actually, listening to this stuff, I really don't understand how we failed to be fucking famous.


Oh well.


Tracks:
1 - Chief
2 - The End

3 - Screaming the Blues
4 - So Many Fools
5 - West Midlands
6 - Sentimental Fool
7 - Wide Open to You
8 - When the Power Falls
9 - Call It What You Want
10 - Be My Valentine
11 - You Were Better When You Were Crap
12 - Jimmy Stewart
13 - Fly in the Ointment

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Monday, 24 August 2015

Do Easy - The Metal Tape (1982) C60


If you coped with The Nightmare Begins... posted a coupled of weeks ago, then you can probably handle this. Do Easy was what I did next, having concluded that Post-War Busconductors seemed a little cumbersome as a name; and also I fancied a fresh start, an artistic break from the imaginary band responsible for Jimmy Savile on 45 and endless songs about different kinds of poo. Old man Burton had splashed out on a fancy Sharp music center at Christmas, one with a double cassette deck by which I could bounce tracks from one tape to another and back again, and I was thus suddenly able to achieve something resembling sound quality, at least in comparison to the coal fired mono portables I'd been using up to that point. Of course, there was still the problem that I lacked instrumentation, equipment, and any coherent idea of what I actually wanted to do. I was keen to produce my own version of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, and yet at least knew to avoid being too screamingly obvious about it - so Manson references are fairly thin on the ground. Ultimately I opted for free experimentation and avoiding anything which would too obviously expose my weaknesses, which is why there isn't much singing on this cassette, and what there is was recorded fairly quietly.

This cassette was recorded from February to April 1982 using what instruments I had to hand, home made tape loops, found sounds, the piano at school and so on. I have a vague memory of starting it earlier in the year then wiping the first four tracks I had produced having concluded they were too shit even for me, which may possibly have been the first flowering of my critical faculties, for whatever that may be worth. Listening back to this thing, I'm surprised at how much I like it. It's nothing startling for sure, and much of it could have been done better, or even raises the occasional question as to why I bothered, but fuck it - I've heard worse. Of course at the time I felt I had produced either a work of genius or something which would one day be revisited and pored over as the first fascinating steps of a musical and artistic tour de force; and so I wrote to Fetish Records because they had just put out a Throbbing Gristle boxed set and Seven Songs by 23 Skidoo, and I felt fairly sure they would want to sign me, or however it worked. Because I was still a school kid living on pocket money and what I brought home from a paper round, I wrote explaining to the nice man at Fetish Records that he would need to send me some money for a blank tape if he wished to hear my masterpiece. Amazingly I got this reply dated Thursday 13th May 1982 from Rod Pearce:



Lawrence - great letter! Here's a ₤1.00 - you deserve it. We're not signing anything new until autumn but send the tape. Perhaps it's the undiscovered secret we need. Hope you catch Skidoo if they're anywhere near you on their tour. They're the first band we've ever had on tour. We're so professional...

Don't tell anyone I sent you a free record (i.e. hopeful musicians etc.). They might get the idea it's a liggers' paradise here.

The free record was a copy of Z'ev's Wipe Out 7". What a nice man, I thought. I sent him a copy of my tape, but never heard back, which probably isn't that surprising, not least when I recall the gushing overenthused most-likely ten page letter I sent with it and which almost certainly revealed me to be way out of my depth. Still, the interest, fleeting though it was, gave me a massive ego-boost and convinced me that I had at least some potential beyond shoving crap through letter boxes in the pissing rain for a living.

So here it is - The Metal Tape because the master copy was recorded on a Sony metal tape in pursuit of finest possible quality, and I was generally sticking to blandly utilitarian titles for fear of saddling myself with anything which sounded too obviously like I was trying to be Throbbing Gristle, even though I sort of was, or at least Nurse With Wound. Do Easy - both the name under which I was recording and the DIY tape label came from The Discipline of DE, the original name under which I recorded this material, itself taken from William Burroughs' Exterminator! For some reason I don't seem to have the original cover artwork for any of my Do Easy tapes at present, although it's sure to turn up eventually. Most of it was fairly bland, just scribbly lines of writing requiring a magnifying glass to render them legible, so for the present the cover included in the download is that of the master copy. If the original covers turn up, as I'm fairly sure they will at some point, I'll post them here on this blog.


Tracks:
1 - The Metal Tape
2 - On Higher Ground

3 - More Than...
4 - 592
5 - Clouds Over Mountains
6 - Aluminium
7 - Actors I
8 - Really Dried Out
9 - Tape Strangled
10 - Auditory
11 - Random
12 - Actors II
13 - Repeat Another?
14 - Are You Still Going to Paint the Library Wall?
15 - Brass Section

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Monday, 17 August 2015

Manslaüghter - Sofa, So Good... So What? (1992) C15



I'm not absolutely sure quite how this masterpiece came into my possession. I've a feeling that the band originally sent this copy to some fanzine bloke or other, someone who didn't like it and figured it was the sort of preposterous shite I would probably appreciate, which I did. In fact I appreciated it so much that I wrote to them and got a copy of their follow up, South of Hebburn which features the terrifying Sofa Bed of Doom and which will be appearing on this blog at some point in the near future, once you've had time to digest the RAW AWESOME of Sofa, So Good... So What?

Manslaüghter were from Kenton Bar, Newcastle upon Tyne and they looked like this:



This photograph came with the tape, along with a letter of introduction which reads as follows:

The Manslaüghter story continues to get bigger, better and faster by the minute. Here, at last, is the long awaited Sofa, So Good... So What? demo by the world's number one Furniture Metal outfit.
The current line-up of the band is as follows:
Mr. Speed - guitars and vocals.
Leigh O'Slayer - vocals and guitars.
Wort Stockholme - drums.
Samurai Spatula - bass.
The band was formed in the new year of 1990 when three bored flatmates decided to buy instruments and learn to play. The name Manslaüghter was chosen, and they decided to play thrash metal as it was easy. Their primary influences included Slayer, Metallica. Megadeath, Tankard, and The Antiques Road Show. Out of this melting pot came the concept of Furniture Metal.
Early hits included the songs Tea Break and Can't Be Arsed which involved tuning up and then going down the pub. To the original trio of Wort, Speed, and Slug Troll on bass, a second guitarist Y. Axl Cyderblent was added. Slug Troll was soon dropped from the line-up however, as (unlike the rest of the band) he was tone deaf and lacked any coordination. Y. Axl moved to bass and Leigh O'Slayer was recruited from the Strapponz to sing and play guitar. Y. Axl soon left to pursue a singularly unsuccessful solo career playing Kiss covers on the cello. The new bassist was the legendary rock 'n' roll veteran Samurai Spatula. The present set contains a range of hard hitting tunes from the power thrashings of Manslaüghter and Sideboards of Destruction to the fast uncompromising rock of Broken Strings, and the raging speed of Oh! Such Hatred. Also included is some of the already classic material from the band's early days.

 

So there you go - a bit like speed metal or death metal, but make no mistake - this be Furniture Metal. I don't think there's anything more I can tell you, because the music speaks for itself.

People eaten in their homes,
Their corpses strewn like garden gnomes,
Ripped to shreds by evil sideboards,

Fight them off with knives and swords...


Tracks:
1 - Manslaüghter
2 - Sideboards of Destruction

3 - Oh! Such Hatred
4 - Watch Out, Granddad
5 - Can't Be Arsed
6 - Tea Break
7 - Twilight Zone

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Monday, 10 August 2015

The Post-War Busconductors - The Nightmare Begins... (1981) C60



I joined my first band in September 1980 at the age of fourteen. We were called the Pre-War Busconductors. Pooling our resources we had an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, a borrowed semi-acoustic bass, and an Action Man radio which came with a microphone and could be used as an amplifier. We made drum kits up from cardboard boxes and recorded scurrilous tapes of improvised toilet humour songs about people we didn't like at school. After about a year of churning this stuff out in various bedrooms, garages, and even the bogs in the Telegraph Street car park on one occasion, I decided it might be nice to see if I could produce something more serious, or at least something less obviously stupid. I was already recording solo tapes as the Post-War Busconductors, and so that's where this came from. The Nightmare Begins... was never my first album, but it was the first one without bum jokes.

I had heard a little bit of Throbbing Gristle, some Residents, and quite a lot of Public Image Limited, and I wanted to produce something comprising pieces of music rather than songs as such, principally because I couldn't really sing. Whilst I wrote a mean lyric - or so I believed - once beyond subjects such as which kid at school was rumoured to have shagged a chicken, I was less confident and thus elected to allow atmosphere alone to communicate whatever it was I had to say. So I had an acoustic guitar, a cheap electric guitar and amplifier, a knackered toy ukelele found in a charity shop, a recorder, harmonica, two mono portable tape recorders, and that was more or less it, aside - I suppose - from a sort of percussive activity center I had made out of Meccano. I had no means of creating sophisticated effects, and no means of multi-tracking beyond a hissy tape played on the second tape recorder positioned next to the first. My theory was that, creatively speaking, what I did was of greater importance than the technological sophistication of the means by which it was done, and mostly it was a question of judgement - knowing what to do and when to stop, and recording within the limits set by my musical ability, which has never been great.

Aside from girls and their non-availability, I've no idea what any of this was about, although my whistling the march from Carmen would have been a reference to my then recently departed granddad who used to whistle it all the time. Certain musical quotations - notably theme tunes from some BBC motoring show and Noah's Castle - were used probably just because I knew how to play them. Lacking the literary credentials which would have given this work the philosophical weight I felt it needed, I fell back on Doctor Who references (which will be obvious to those who look out for such things), one being the name of the tape. Accordingly, the tune appearing at the end of The March (Nestene) was originally an earworm which came to me years before as I lay ill in bed reading Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks. I would have been about eight, and I still have no idea whether this tune was something I picked up from television, or whether it may even have been an original composition on my part.

So, to summarise, this be some creaky-ass shit, poor quality, kind of repetitive, and with an unusually low point arriving at the end of what was originally side one when I start singing - comically obtuse lyrics in a voice which can't decide whether it wants to be Bowie or Numan, but not so loud as to draw the attention of my mum who was probably in the kitchen making my fish fingers at the time - but now that I've listened to it again, after a break of about thirty years, I think fuck it. It may be piss-poor shite, but it's my piss-poor shite, and is as such still superior to the entire careers of In The Nursery, Porridge, Skinny Puppy, whoever is on the cover of The Wire this month, that bloke from Ministry, and his mate - that drummer, the one who has been in every single industrial rock band ever at one point or another. Even though The Nightmare Begins... failed, I was only a sodding kid for Christ's sake, and at least I tried; and I'm still pleasantly surprised by how the last track actually sounds okay, like it happened on purpose, so screw you!!!


Tracks:
1 - India
2 - Drown

3 - Three Viewpoints of a War
4 - Jazz Undertow 1 (10/12/81)
5 - Jazz Undertow 2
6 - The March (Nestene)
7 - The Contest of Wills
8 - Remembrance Day
9 - Precambrian
10 - The Sad but Expected Death of Aluminium

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Monday, 3 August 2015

The Apostles - 2nd Dark Age Demo (1982) C60


One of the first tape labels I ever wrote to was Cause for Concern, run by one Larry Peterson. I'd been hammering Flowmotion for their reissued Throbbing Gristle live cassettes for a couple of months, and now my curiosity had been drawn by Larry's Sudden Surge of Power compilation featuring some fairly big names such as Test Dept, Chris & Cosey, Cultural Amnesia, and others. It was actually a pretty good tape, so I sent for a few of the other things Larry had on offer, one of these being a demo by some band called the Apostles, not so much out of curiosity as to shut Larry up. The tape came, and it looked kind of punky, but I immediately understood why he had been raving about them. I had taken the Apostles for some fringe anarchopunk outfit, the sort which would eventually put out a yappy 7" on Crass Records and then dutifully vanish into obscurity; but the Apostles, as I discovered, didn't really sound like anyone in particular, and didn't quite fit in anywhere. The songs were political, but quite personal too, and a long way from the anticipated slogans about Thatcher and vegetarianism; and they were incredibly tuneful, atmospheric, even haunting - one minute sounding like the angriest thing ever committed to a Woolworths C60, next having you crying your eyes out. 2nd Dark Age Demo remains more or less my favourite indie tape cassette of all time. The songs sound rudimentary in places, just blokes stood in front of a cheap tape recorder for an hour or so hoping it doesn't sound too shite, but Christ - the atmosphere of the thing, the passion, and the uncompromising refusal to perpetuate bullshit or to repeat audience-pleasing slogans; in terms of emotion it still makes James Brown sound like Kraftwerk to me. As chance had it, I ended up writing to the Apostles, then buying everything I could get my hands on, and then about ten years after first hearing 2nd Dark Age I ended up in the band once it transformed into first Academy 23 and then the first version of UNIT. Having now worked with Andy Martin of the Apostles and known him for many years, it's interesting that he should be one of the few people whose real life persona has not spoiled the pleasure I've taken in listening to his early stuff. It's generally true that you should never meet your heroes, but Andy it seems was an exception to that rule. He's his own worst enemy - as he will himself admit on occasion - and the world's most aggravating fucker, but he's also one of the very few people I've ever met whom I still regard as a genius, or as having the potential for genius, despite knowing him. Naturally he now regards 2nd Dark Age as utter rubbish, his exact words being:


The 2nd Dark Age was so long ago and we've released such a wealth of decent quality material since then (well, since the mid 1990s anyway) I no longer care what you release! How you can enjoy that abysmal crap is a major mystery but I'm really glad you do because it means our effort wasn't a complete waste of time.

Anyway, here it is - thirteen songs about racism, homophobia, disability, alienation, self-loathing, and generally failing to function in a society broken beyond hope of repair - track titles based on a composite of the Cause for Concern version, and the one on Discogs - neither of which are actually accurate.

Seeing as we're here, Andy has been putting together some sort of CD retrospective of Apostles releases, at least the vinyl, so you might want to watch this space if interested; and I suppose I should also plug his writings, self-published as breeze block-sized tomes of tiny, tiny print which could be used to stun cattle, or even to mount a rousing defence against an intrusive bayliff and which are available from Lulu Publishing. Andy Nunn reckons Faded Fragments is well worth a look, for what it may be worth.



Tracks:
1 - The Sures of Time
2 - Thalidomide

3 - King's Cross Etc.
4 - The End
5 - After the Fact
6 - LBW
7 - Red Vote Pole
8 - Hello Mark
9 - The Wicket
10 - Eric's Detachables
11 - The Innocent Bystander
12 - Alien Asian
13 - New Face in N16


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