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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