Monday, 28 December 2015

Do Easy - The Sixth Metal Tape (1983) C60

This one wasn't excessively amazing either, so please keep that in mind when downloading it. This means you, Ian. Even I'm baffled by some of this shit and why I ever thought it was a good idea.

Anyway, Santa furnished me with a polyphonic organ during Christmas, 1982. I'd been nagging my parents for a Wasp synth. They had a go on one in a shop in Stratford-on-Avon and decided I'd be better off with a Yamaha PS-2 on the grounds that it sounded nicer, had an inbuilt rhythm section, and you could play more than one note at a time. With hindsight, it was probably a reasonable choice given that I wouldn't have done anything interesting with a Wasp either, but it took me a couple of days to work out how to get something which didn't sound like pure cheese out of the PS-2, or at least that didn't sound like pure cheese to me at the time - bed-wettingly self-conscious Gary Numan impersonations being something other than pure cheese, so I believed. I was an awkward kid with no clue as to quite how or where I was supposed to fit in, and so I tried hard to view myself as worldly, sophisticated and above the concerns of the common herd so as to explain why no-one wanted to shag me. I was above such things, hence:

Dancing, drinking, acting the fool,
I'd better keep quiet until I learn to keep my cool.

Take that, Bowie, you amateur.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I was at least aware of how easy it would be to just fill this, the fourth Do Easy album, with dinky little keyboard numbers, and surprisingly I managed to avoid the temptation - partially due to an uncomfortable suspicion that my efforts might one day sound less amazing than they seemed at the time. Thus I continued to experiment, to muck about with tape loops, and to name tracks after Futurist paintings, and I ended up with this. It's tempting to regard The Sixth Metal Tape as being some sort of comment on the media - tracks six and nine being inspired by newspaper articles, the title of five being some random bit of a headline, and my granny wondering if I could buy her a copy of the Daily Star - but I'm pretty sure the theme is coincidental.

It's still better than fucking Radiohead, mind.

1 - The City Rises
2 - New Vision

3 - The Worried Expression
4 - If You Could Get Me a Star
5 - Career is Finished
6 - Demonic Sisters
7 - Therapy
8 - The Dream Itself
9 - Contact Sections
10 - Zero Gravity
11 - Special Hospital
12 - Surveillance

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Friday, 25 December 2015

William Scanlan Murphy - Spreading the Cream Cheese Gospel (1990) C15

I don't know much about this or its author and presenter, but I taped it from the radio back in 1990, specifically from BBC Radio 4. According to stuff on the internet it was first broadcast on the 7th of May in that year, then repeated on the 13th of November. It's a fifteen minute documentary about a cult which took over a small German town in the 1930s. The cult was based upon the notion of cheese as having supernatural healing powers, and if I still need to sell you on the idea, then you probably have something wrong with your brain. Just listen to the thing, okay? You won't regret it.

This is doubtless copyrighted material, and I am obviously not the owner of that copyright; but really I just want to spread the goodness, this being more or less the greatest thing which has ever been broadcast on Radio 4, and no-one has yet put it on a CD or whatever so far as I am aware. Anyway, there's no point in suing me because I live in Texas and I don't have any money.

By the way, the tape was terrible quality so I had to clean it up on the computer, which worked but has left it with a sort of mildly autotuned sound, but at least you can now hear the thing without it sounding like you live next door to the Grey Wolves.

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Monday, 21 December 2015

Andrew Cox - Methods (1980) C46

Andrew Cox was my friend and he's now dead. I wrote about him at some length on my other blog here, so there's not much point my writing it all out again. Methods was one of my favourite home-produced cassettes even before I met the guy, and here it is in full. It's not that it does anything exactly unique, any noise never before originated by some bloke with a synth and a few tape recorders, but what it does, it does exceptionally well, in fact better than most other works I've heard of this kind. Andrew was a genuine talent and I still miss him. Anyone interested should note that further material by both Andrew and MFH, the group of which he was one half, is available from the good people of Forced Nostalgia.

Whilst we're here, Andrew was also on Nurse With Wound's Sylvie & Babs album in some capacity in case that makes you more likely to bother.

Photograph: I think that was where Andrew grew up, and where this tape was recorded.

1 - The Bridge at Evening
2 - Méduse

3 - Rachael's Favourite Song

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Monday, 14 December 2015

My Catholic Enemy (1996) C90+

It was Jim MacDougall's idea. Every other week he came over to stay on my sofa for the weekend. He was good company and very funny. He was also mad, and mad not in the sense of wearing keraaaazy t-shirts and opening up a cafe selling kid's breakfast cereal in fucking Hoxton, but mad meaning he'd made a lifetime commitment to a course of prescription drugs on the grounds that when he didn't take them, he thought he could fly and would head for the nearest tower block, usually ending up sectioned under the mental health act. We both liked noisy, offensive music, and someone had offered Jim a slot at a Mad Pride related live event to be held at Chat's Palace in Hackney, so we formed a band. I programmed all of my boxes and worked out something which could be performed live and not sound too pitiful, Jim would sing, and Smike of Earth Creature - a friend of Jim - would turn up to augment our sound with his weird abrasive guitar stylings. Jim had been recording stuff at the CORE Arts Studio - possibly something to do with Homerton Hospital - and he'd been recording using the name Aural Guerilla. I guessed he decided our thing was to be something separate, and he told me we were to be known as My Catholic Enemy. I had no strong objection. It was Jim's deal, and he was the vocalist. I recorded a live instrumental run-through of what I had, everything plugged into my stereo, then made a copy of the tape for Jim so he could work out some lyrics, or at least vocal material. Then we had another run-through in my living room with Jim doing his thing for what it was worth, some of which certain listeners will find offensive, which was presumably Jim's intention. The day of the gig came - Friday the 3rd of May, 1996 - and so I went along to the venue and met Smike who told me that Jim had been sectioned only that morning. We performed an instrumental set, just Smike and myself. It seemed to go down fairly well from what I can recall, and I'm sure I taped it, although I have no idea where the tape is.

...and that was that. We never discussed it again. There didn't seem much point.

This cassette features two versions of the same proposed live set, one instrumental, the other featuring Jim making shocking and offensive observations; plus some Casiotone crap filling up the tape, just me screwing about. Jihad was originally a song - and a great song - by All Flags Burn, here reduced to something you might hear over the closing credits of an episode of Crackerjack. Additionally, I've found a second take of the instrumental set on another tape, one using a compression pedal to beef up the TR606 a bit. It sounds better to me so I've included it here, hence the plus in the title, because it wasn't on the original cassette and this is one long-ass download. Just delete the one you enjoy less.

1 - MCE No. 1 instrumental demo
2 - MCE No. 1 vocal

3 - Jihad
4 - Noise
5 - MCE No. 1 inst. compression

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Monday, 7 December 2015

The Dovers - Rehearsals 1 & 2.1 (1987) C60

The Dovers were Carl and myself, which you will know if you've been following this blog. If you don't know, I refer you to the search function somewhere near the top of the screen, or the links to previous tapes on the left. Have a look around. It's not that difficult. This cassette is, as you may deduce, simply a tape of our first rehearsal, and some of our second - the rest of that one being on a different cassette. Sadly it doesn't really have a cover which is worth the effort of my bothering to scan the fucker, just the usual inlay card with song titles, so this week's vaguely related visual is a photograph of myself in sunglasses and Carl with dyed red hair accompanied by our friend Martin at some party or other. Martin and Carl were previously in a band called To The Max, and Martin was in the original line-up of the Cravats.

This tape was never released in any form, as is probably obvious, and will doubtless be of extremely limited interest to anyone who wasn't in the above photograph (except Martin), and if that's a problem, screw you - nobody's forcing you to download this stuff. It's my blog and I'll post what I want to post.

A brief history of the Dovers is to be found here, in the event that you couldn't be arsed to look for it during the first paragraph. The material on this tape is essentially Carl and myself seeing what we could come up with between us, having given up on the idea of recruiting new members following the Spinning Pygmies thing. Some of these songs were Total Big numbers. Others we came up with more or less on the spot. Both rehearsals were at Hollytree House in the village of Otham, Kent during the summer of 1987, and between the first and second session (which was specifically on Saturday the 22nd of August) Carl bought a Roland DR220E drum machine, so that isn't a live drummer you can hear on the final six tracks of the tape. It's minimal and pretty rough, being spawned by just the two of us with a fuzzbox and a crap tape recorder, but it still sounds good to me, particularly Counting Song - which is a work of genius by my reckoning and I have no idea why we never took it further.

Listen to me - I can count to ten!
Listen to me - I can count to ten!
If you don't believe me...


1 - Callin' My Boots Dave
2 - Wanna Buy Me Some Boots

3 - Are You My Mother?
4 - Counting Song
5 - The South Bank Show
6 - Lessons in Glam
7 - Keep Your Dreams A'Burning
8 - He Believes
9 - Batman
10 - Do the Frug
11 - Here He Comes Again
12 - Baby Bankrupt
13 - Beat Me Black & Blue
14 - Do the Frug
15 - He Writes the Songs
16 - B.L.A.C.Clowns

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Monday, 30 November 2015

Apricot Brigade - Practice September 1985 + Demos (1986) C60

Apricot Brigade were Paul Mercer (guitar and vocals), Rajun Amin (guitar), Andrew Weatherall (bass), and Alun Jones on drums. They played live in and around the Medway towns and had a reasonable following. Alun Jones went on to play drums for the Dentists, to be replaced by me pressing the start button on a drum machine as the band changed its name to Envy, which is another story. I'm not sure quite what the creative dynamic was in Apricot Brigade, although a few of the songs were written by Paul, and as such exist somewhere in earlier form as the work of whichever name he was using for his solo material at the time - Killing Them, for example, was essentially a reworking of his own Tin Men. Paul gave me this tape either prior to my joining the band when they turned into Envy, or because I had asked for a copy of their demo or whatever. The rest of the tape was filled with material relating to his own solo work as No Fun KXK, three tracks recorded live at the Good Intent, and some instrumentals recorded as backing tracks for a live performance - also a truncated studio version of Tin Men.

So it's a cassette of odds and sods with Paul Mercer as the element common to all of the tracks. Personally I always thought he was an immense talent - although his greatest work (in my view) was probably the solo studio tape for which you have some of the backing tracks here - Not This Time and others - but I don't actually have that tape with me, so here's this one. In sticking this tape up for download I've broken my own personal code of at least asking people before I hand their shit out to strangers for free in so much as I've made no attempt to get in touch with Paul Mercer and ask him if this is okay, because he'd probably tell me to piss off on principal, so bollocks then. We fell out. I don't even know why. Apparently I think I'm cool, but I'm not, or something. Whatever.

Anyway, even with this in mind, this tape still sounds fucking amazing to me, and Jesus this line-up of Apricot Brigade were good!

Apricot Brigade

1 - Killing Them
2 - Trust

3 - Pale Orchid
4 - All Our Tomorrows
5 - Howling Moon
6 - Dawn in the Hollow
7 - Parry
8 - Martha
9 - Pale Orchid

No Fun KXK
10 - Tin Men
11 - Heart Like Glass
12 - Camilla
13 - The Black Bridge
14 - Not This Time
15 - No Sound
16 - Tin Men
17 - Tabbs
18 - Memorium

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Monday, 23 November 2015

F*** F****** - Stupid (1988) C15

There were a number of factors contributing to the formation of the F*** F***ers, in so much as it is possible to form a band with oneself. These factors were as follows:

1) Kall-Kwik on Chatham High Street (or Prontaprint or whatever the place was called) offering a high quality and relatively cheap colour photocopying service which made me wish I was still shoving out crappy tapes of my music, because it would be great to do one with a colour cover.

2) Carl of the Dovers introducing me to his friend Alan, an enthusiastic Scotsman whose enthusiasm was at that point seemingly focused on his collection of thrash records, or at least that's the impression I got. I'm fairly certain he used the term thrash in reference to music of a specific type, generally American in origin, about five-hundred times during the course of our first meeting, which amused me because I had no idea what or who he was talking about, and to this day I'm still not sure. It was during this encounter that I first heard Big Black because Alan had their album, although I'm not sure if that's relevant.

3) My increased frustration at how difficult it had become to record music since my stereo blew up when our house was struck by lightning, and because I was no longer a student at Maidstone College of Art and was thus without access to their sound studio. I had been doing some things with John Jasper on his portastudio, but John was fairly unreliable; thus did I get to the point where I just wanted to record something quickly, and to enjoy recording it without giving too much of a shit about whether the end result resembled a Jim Steinman production.

In addition to the above I was horrendously depressed, living in a shitty bedsit, and listening to a lot of Foetus records; and I had a burning need to record something similarly vile, which unfortunately explains the rapey tone of the first track. I suppose it might have turned out less shite were it better produced, but that probably depends on whether you regard G.G. Allin as something to aspire to. I don't, and never really did, but as I say I simply felt like producing something vile and indefensible. I had a guitar, microphone, fuzz pedal, a couple of basic drum machines from which I could generate preset rhythms, and John Jasper had lent me a karaoke machine with two tape decks and a limited echo effect, allowing me to multi-track by bouncing sound from one hissy cassette to another. I Don't Wanna Have to Hurt You, Baby turned out sounding somewhat ludicrous to my ears, and so having decided to keep going, it seemed wise to play to my strengths rather than continually fail to emulate Jim Thirlwell in a twenty-four track studio. So I started to have fun with it, improvising lyrics live onto tape, mostly inspired by a combination of Sexton Ming, the Born Bad albums which Carl had been lending me, and a ton of comic books - both mainstream X-Men type things and the undergrounds of Crumb, Skip Williamson and others.

The name came from the song F.F. America by the Leather Nun, as it is discreetly listed on the compilation album upon which I first heard it. The track made me laugh without obliging me to give much thought to the possibility of it referring to a practice with which some people might actually engage themselves; and so that became the name, because it's both disgusting and funny. A person of my former acquaintance suggested I change it to the Fist Funkers because then people would hear the name and look at each other and pull that face Terry Scott pulls when he thinks he's heard June Whitfield say bollocks in front of the vicar, and she actually said bollards, a quite different word. That way, the person suggested, I would be able to get a record contract and have my songs played on Steve Wright in the Afternoon, because that's always been an ambition of mine. Everyone would be able to join in the fun, he proposed. I've censored the name here so as to avoid casually outraging delicate facebook relatives and Google searches undertaken by perverts.

I did these six tracks as a C15 in a run of ten, or possibly a couple of runs of the ten, and just gave them to friends as something short and stupid with a fancy cover, something you weren't obliged to take too seriously

1 - I Don't Wanna Have to Hurt You, Baby
2 - Beat You Up

3 - Stupid
4 - Terminator
5 - Rockin' Amoeba
6 - Violence

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I still maintain that this is one of the best songs I've ever written, and am amazed that it was improvised. Feel free to humiliate yourself by singing along.


There's one thing you must do in life,
For you to get along,
In order for you to get it right,
You got to get it wrong,
It ain't a lot of money,
Ain't no arrow from Cupid,
In order to get along,
Well - you got to be stupid.


I used to be intelligent,
I used to be able to read and write,
Then I learned the truth,
And I finally got it right.
I threw away my spelling books.
I changed my looks.
I wore flared trousers.
All of a sudden I was stupid.

Ooh ooh!
Ooh ooh!

[shit guitar solo combining Bod theme music with Ants Invasion by Adam & the Ants]

Thank you, Jimi!

Ooh Ug!

I never knew a thing,
But then I learned to sing,
And now I'm very stupid,
A fact that no-one can deny.

Ohh ooh!
Well, what's that word just there say?
I understand.
It says dog.
That's one of those things with a tail, isn't it?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Do Easy - The Fourth Metal Tape (1982) C90

Amazingly I was still single.

By the time it came to recording my third Do Easy album, as I definitely considered The Fourth Metal Tape to be, I had apparently taken to a specific methodology. Usually the discovery of some new means of generating or treating sound would warrant an entire track built around the same, or even a number of tracks. By September 1982 I'd worked out how to open up the shell of a cassette tape and respool the innards so as to produce backwards sound effects, and so a fair old chunk of side one was based around a copy of The Second Metal Tape played backwards; and as with The Second Metal Tape, this one features further doomed attempts to recreate some of that Throbbing Gristle magic, here by vaguely emulating the crap bass style of Zyklon B Zombie and others whilst keeping those embarrassing industrial vocals low in the mix so as to make it all mysterious 'n' shit. I'd like to think Good Old Rock 'n' Roll represents a ground breaking foray into industrial whistling, but it was actually just me trying out different things, exercising poor judgement, and listening to Aladdin Sane far too much. The similarly puzzling final track results from my having a listen to my mum's Leonard Cohen album, then having a go myself (and just think, I recorded this track back when Death In June probably still sounded like Skrewdriver!). If nothing else, I suppose I at least take comfort from these tracks showing that I can't have been quite that desperate to resemble Cabaret Voltaire - aside from a couple of predictable experiments with cut-up text.

I don't know. Some of this still sounds okay to me, once you get past how minimal it was. Pisses all over Psychic TV anyway, and they were grown-ups.

In the unlikely event of anyone wondering what happened to The Third Metal Tape, it was actually called Backing Tracks and Alternative Versions and was a C90 of the same, outtakes and, you know - the really rare Do Easy stuff which hadn't spent a million weeks at the top of the fucking hit parade. Don't you just love it when cassette artists no fucker has ever heard of describe something they've done as a rare recording? Anyway, being fairly sure I would soon be famous (and ignoring the fear that it would be for the wrong reasons and I would be viewed as the industrial Gary Numan), I compiled several volumes of Backing Tracks and Alternative Versions mainly for the benefit of the hardcore fans. This also explains the recording of the historic occasion of my phone call to Fetish Records who had by this point gone unusually quiet on the subject of my impending record contract, the fuckers.

1 - Fetish
2 - Shipston at Night

3 - Heavy Metal
4 - Track IV
5 - Television
6 - Burn
7 - Good Old Rock 'n' Roll
8 - Haemoglobin
9 - Destruction is Required
10 - ReDestruction
11 - Not Me At All
12 - Do Easy I
13 - Do Easy II
14 - Their Ugly Urges
15 - Org-Ser
16 - Untitled I
17 - The Power
18 - Desolate Accountants
19 - Untitled II
20 - 6:52
21 - Am I Who You Know?

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Monday, 9 November 2015

v/a - Untitled (1984) C60

I don't really know much about this one. At some point when Glenn Wallis was living in Meadowbank Road in Chatham, I popped around to see him (circumstances suggesting that it was probably about 1987) and he gave me a Sainsbury's carrier bag full of cassettes, things which people had sent him in the mail and so on. Some of the tapes were shite, but some were pretty good, and this was one of the more interesting things - a C60 compilation from Norway, and artists I'd never heard of aside from Glenn himself and Martin Howard Naylor, whom I seem to recall having made a fairly decent showing on some other cassette compilation. The cassette has a page on Discogs, although it's not wildly illuminating. The same label also put out tapes by Attrition and Paul Kelday, so I generally take that as a sign of their having been a good thing.

Anyway, this is one of the tapes I'm glad I kept (although to be fair there are very few tapes I ever slung) as it still sounds good now, and serves as a reminder of how exciting the tape scene once was, specifically that whole aspect of having no idea what you're going to hear when you press play (as distinct from being fairly sure you're going to hear something noisy with a man screaming about how he's going to steal women's knickers from your washing line, and you're going to be glad about it, for some reason).

Not sure about the Konstruktivists track. I've a feeling it may be from a gig at the King Charles Ballroom in Gillingham, but I could be wrong.

1 - System Lilliputt - Gatelangs
2 - Konstruktivists - Beirut (live)

3 - Martin Howard Naylor - Mod 4/5
4 - The Haters - Torn Apart
5 - FâLX çèrêbRi - Klimax
6 - Vous - May Pay
7 - Famlende Forsøk - Herren
8 - Dan McKinney - One to Five
9 - Ny Gate - Aldersgrense (live)
10 - Termisk Sammenbrudd - One Minute Digital Disco
11 - De Pravity - Data Kikk I-IV

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Monday, 2 November 2015

Total Big - Rehearsals 1 & 2 (1985) C90

Total Big was the first band I was in which played live to any great extent. I wrote about us at considerable length here, and I can't be arsed to write it all out again. This is a tape of our first two rehearsals, as recorded and edited by Chris. The first (tracks 1 to 12) happened in Chris's garage in Kemsley, Kent on Sunday the 17th of November, 1985. Chris played drums. I played guitar. Carl sang and occasionally mucked about with Chris's small but impressive Casio synth. We'd never played together before, so we just fucked about, and then listened back to the tape picking out things which sounded like songs, then elaborated on those. The second rehearsal (tracks 13 to 27) was at Hollytree House in Otham, where I was living at the time, on Saturday the 23rd of November, 1985 - which is probably why it all sounds a lot like Psychic TV, it being the 23rd and all. I was at art college in Maidstone, and there was some event coming up at which we were going to be playing in front of an audience, so this rehearsal was focused on what songs we had, if you could call them songs, which we did. So there you go.

Keep in mind that this is a tape of rehearsal material, so if you're expecting it to resemble high quality Emerson, Lake & Palmer outtakes, you may experience some disappointment; and keep in mind that no-one is forcing you to download it.

1 - It's So Cold
2 - He Writes the Songs

3 - Wack Attack
4 - Science Fiction
5 - Call It What You Want
6 - She Luvs Ya
7 - Experimental Indians
8 - Total Big
9 - Robot Fun
10 - Running Bottom
11 - Contemplating My Pants
12 - Bystander
13 - Give Me a Monkey
14 - Wack Attack
15 - Art
16 - Ouch!!!
17 - He Writes the Songs
18 - Rock Sandwich
19 - Ouch!!!
20 - He Writes the Songs
21 - Rock Sandwich
22 - Ouch!!!
23 - He Writes the Songs
24 - Rock Sandwich
25 - Ouch!!!
26 - He Writes the Songs
27 - Rock Sandwich

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Monday, 26 October 2015

Dada X (1992) C90

I drew my first Dada X cartoon strip in 1988, inspired in equal parts by Alfred Jarry, Zippy the Pinhead, punk rock, and how I imagined the first Nurse With Wound album probably would have sounded had I bought it. Dada X - whose name should properly be rendered with the X as a mathematical exponent - was a nonsense character in a horned wooden mask which allowed me the liberty to produce strips without giving two shits about whether or not they made sense. Four years later, Carl Glover and myself, having been playing and recording as the Dovers for a while, took to a sudden and dramatic change of direction for reasons I can't quite remember, but possibly just for fun. We'd recorded a shitload of thrashy rock songs, that being our default setting, and now undertook an instrumental work of quite different complexion.

Dada X seemed an appropriate name. It would be a C90 with a single track taking up each side, a slowly evolving sound collage. We would refrain from using conventional or programmed instruments aside from, I suppose, the human voice, and all sounds would be derived from either non-musical sources, or compact discs, records, or tapes supplied by our friends, all of which would be heavily treated with effects. The end result features tape loops, samples, a food mixer, bath sponges as percussion instruments, and one hell of a lot of ourselves farting into the microphone over and over until someone had to open a window.

The idea was to regard this as composed by Carl and myself with everyone who had given us a tape of noise we could use listed as a member of the orchestra. Some tapes were supplied on request by those concerned, others we just had laying around and we used them anyway. Unfortunately neither of us bothered to write down just who was in the orchestra, so the following list is from memory, and what can still be recognised:

Source material provided by Glenn Wallis (Konstruktivists), Andrew Cox (Pump, MFH), Timothy Griffiths, John Powell, Shaun Robert (factor X), Paul Condon, Martin Woodall, Martin de Sey (Cravats), and there were probably others but it was a long time ago.

A particularly noisy passage occurring roughly twenty-five minutes into part one was given the title Chocolate Disco and appeared in isolation on the Power to Destroy compilation tape released by Trev Ward's Lebensborn back in 1993. There was a page of artwork supplied, although I don't think he ever used it, and so it is reproduced here for the sake of giving you something to look at, simply because this cassette never got so far as having a cover.

Quite chuffed with this one.

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Soul - Demo Tape (1986) C15

Soul comprised Karl on vocals, Martin and Terry playing guitar, Min on bass and my friend Charlie Adlard on drums. I don't remember the surnames of the first four and didn't think to ask, although in any case people can sometimes be a bit funny about the past - shameful or otherwise - turning up on a website after twenty years, as though the simple acknowledgement of once having existed in some form will immediately transform your bank account into a playground for unscrupulous Nigerian gentlemen. I remember Charlie's surname because we were friends at Maidstone College of Art, and even were this not the case, he's difficult to avoid due to having become the third most famous person in the universe (behind Donald Trump and Bob Carolgees) as artist of The Walking Dead.

Anyway, Charlie and Karl were originally in a Shrewsbury based band called the Magic Roundabout, and - oh fuck it. I may as well just quote what Charlie said:

Soul was kinda formed from the Magic Roundabout - only in the fact though that I was friends with Karl and we were in that band together in Shrewsbury on the art foundation. Then he moved to Worthing and met the other guys. I joined after those four got together. After Soul ended, it was just Karl and Terry who moved to London. The other two stayed behind, and I joined them after completing my degree. And IF was formed with new bassist Ben…

I had forgotten about IF, Charlie's later band, until he mentioned them, although probably because I never saw them live. I have a vague memory of staying at their shared flat one night somewhere in north London, having travelled down from Coventry for the UKCAC comic convention, which is probably neither here nor there.

I saw Soul a few times, and Total Big - for whom I played guitar - supported them on at least one occasion, some pub in Worthing and possibly also something or other at the art college. They were a big, wide-screen rock band, as bands involving Charlie have tended to be, and they were terrific, and somewhat wasted on an art college audience which didn't really mind what you played so long as at least one of the band had a flat top and was wearing one of those German military issue vests like people from muscular Sheffield-based funk bands. One of the first things Charlie and I turned out to have in common was a shared appreciation of Simple Minds, even the stadium-filling stuff you're probably still not allowed to like in certain circles, and Soul therefore sounded pretty damn great to me. The only thing missing from this unfortunately short demo was Raphael, which I vaguely recall as having been one of their best songs.

Whilst we're here, I should probably mention that Charlie is still very much at it, and these days occupies the drum chair - as we musicians call it - for the Cosmic Rays. Their album is available in all sorts of formats here, and is a cracker.

1 - My Fireworks
2 - The Answer to Everything

3 - All Over Your Face

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Monday, 12 October 2015

Do Easy - The Second Metal Tape (1982) C60

Once Fetish Records failed to sign me on the strength of The Metal Tape I came to a realisation - not that I would probably have to get a real job once I left school after all, but that there probably wasn't much point saving up all my amazing ideas for the twenty-four track studio, and my foreseeable musical future almost certainly lay with cassette tapes; so I continued as I had started, not quite having decided on the name Do Easy at this stage, and still with those formal, blandly descriptive titles, most likely founded upon the hunch that any more expressive title I chose would almost certainly sound ridiculous within a couple of months because left to my own devices I'd probably call the tape Genetik Sutcliffe Konstruktions like the fucking knob that I was, or at least had the potential to become.

Speaking of which, The Second Metal Tape features my earliest overt attempt to be Throbbing Gristle in the form of The Function, which was more or less Persuasion adapted to the horrors of being sixteen in a small, fairly rural town at the arse-end of a decade in which rape had generally been regarded as naughty fun, kind of like pinching a pair of knickers from a washing line or something. Being a sensitive lad I attempted to address the inherent sexism of my contemporaries in this track, but it ended up sounding extraordinarily shit, as you will hear, despite my having a second go at it.

Daredevil is a bit of an odd one. Four girls from the year below mine at school had gotten together and written an ode to - I'm guessing - female empowerment, or maybe kid empowerment, and they roped me in to provide some music for it presumably based on having seen me stood in the music room holding a guitar at some point. I suspect they may have been coming at this thing from a sort of Bonnie Tyler or Elaine Paige angle, which was a little at odds with my own interests, but they were girls and they were talking to me (something which didn't really happen that much), and Rebecca even lent me the Heaven 17 album so obviously I wasn't going to say no - that would have been fucking crazy. I'm not sure what they made of the results - my instrumentation added to a tape recording of them singing - but have a feeling it may have exposed my conspicuous lack of musical genius. Oh well.

Excepting the mumbled poetry on Pearl of Death - clumsy horror inspired by the mortuary scene in the recently broadcast BBC version of Thérèse Raquin - I seemed to have worked out my limitations for the rest of this cassette, in so much as that from Sounds of the Eye onwards, it still sounds decent, at least to me. Perhaps there isn't much here that would have given Pierre Schaeffer cause to shit himself, then pack it all in and go back to working on the bins, but then I was sixteen; cut me some fucking slack.

1 - Induction
2 - The Function I

3 - Three Soundtracks
4 - The Function II
5 - Daredevil
6 - Sounds of the Eye
7 - Radioland
8 - Drones
9 - L/R
10 - Pearl of Death I
11 - Pearl of Death II
12 - The Tow
13 - The Best of Shirley Bassey I 
14 - The Best of Shirley Bassey II
15 - Ending

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Monday, 5 October 2015

Spinning Pygmies - Spinning Pygmies I (1987) C60

This is what the album cover would have looked like in the unlikely event of our having signed to Blue Note. Left to right is Carl, Garreth and myself (I don't have any pics of the other two).

My diaries of the time record a gig by Total Big at Maidstone College of Art on Tuesday 9th December 1986, then a Dovers performance at a party at 5, Terrace Road, Maidstone on Friday 19th June 1987, and nothing musical occurring between these two events because I was better at beer consumption than I was at keeping a diary, or playing guitar for that matter. Total Big were myself with Carl Glover on vocals and Chris New on drums, but Chris moved to Dover and we eventually slimmed to a two-piece using a drum machine named in honour of the coastal town in which our rhythm section had purchased a house. However, prior to re-emerging as the Dovers like some sort of slightly pungent butterfly with kids' drawings of dobbers on the wings, Carl and I spent some time mucking about with various friends of varying degrees of musicality in an effort to form a band which wasn't just the two of us with a drum machine. These were all people we knew from the college's Time Based Media course. Mark Smith had played saxophone at the last Total Big performance, or at least had played the saxophone in proximity to the last Total Big performance; Garreth Roberts had been involved with quite a lot of the music I'd recorded in the college sound studio as Do Easy; and Paul Fallon had time to kill before the pubs opened, I guess.

We were called the Flaps - named after a feminine anatomical feature - until Garreth came up with Spinning Pygmies, which was funnier. I'm fairly sure the material on this first tape derives from a single Saturday afternoon, early 1987, kicking off with just Carl and myself, then Garreth turning up in time for Dinosaur Man, then Mark and Paul until we're all jamming away without any real idea of what we were doing, or how any of this could ever be turned into songs. I recall these improvised sessions as a fucking racket, which is essentially what they were, but the more I replay the tape, the more it all begins to sound like a rockier version of one of those German groups from the seventies. Some of the later pieces could almost be described as grooves, particularly those with Mark's sax honking away like a lonely seal.

Ordinarily I would have chopped out all the fannying around, people asking is it recording?, me saying rude words into my Casio SK1 sampler then playing them back at different pitches whilst giggling, and so on, but it was difficult to divide this tape up into cohesive tracks, and in the end I've left it more or less as it is. Make of it what you will.

1 - Concrete Shoes
2 - Hard to Dance

3 - Burned from Behind
4 - Breasts Painted Black
5 - Dinosaur Man
6 - Going No Place
7 - Here's Fatty
8 - Free Jazz
9 - Ramoneo & Juliet
10 - General Pissing Around
11 - What Do You See?
12 - B&B
13 - Louie
14 - What's Going On In My Pants?
15 - Can't Get Enough I
16 - Can't Get Enough II
17 - Bad Disco
18 - Who Owns the Flaps?
19 - From Space

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