Monday, 30 May 2016

Post-War Busconductors - Come c/w Jimmy Savile on 45 (1982) C10

In the fairly unlikely event of anyone having paid close enough attention to wonder, aside from digitising the stuff already available on this blog, I've also been digitising millions of cassettes of material by even earlier bands with which I've been involved, namely the Pre-War Busconductors and others. There hasn't been much of this stuff posted here for free download on the grounds that 1) one former Pre-War Busconductor is terrified of people hearing that which he recorded as a kid and subsequently realising that he wasn't always as cool as he is now - which only works if you have half a fucking clue who he is and accordingly regard him as having been cool at some point, which you almost certainly won't if you know him, so the two kind of cancel each other out. This isn't what he actually said, but it's how I interpret his slightly pushy email describing nebulous fears about how once you put something online it's there forever and people will use it against you.; and 2) it's mostly fairly shit and occasionally massively embarrassing.

So it's always nice when I come across something which doesn't feature the aforementioned former terrified Pre-War Busconductor, and to which I can listen without wincing too loudly; and here's one.

The Post-War Busconductors was my solo work, although Eggy of the Pre-War Busconductors is responsible for the cymbal and coke can effect on Come, whatever that was. The personal computer revolution had not yet quite filled local branches of WHSmiths with those natty little C15 cassettes, but I'd started opening up cassette shells and making my own tape loops and cassettes of unorthodox lengths. Cassette singles had been a thing since Bow Wow Wow did one back in July 1980, so this was an experiment both in terms of format, and as one of the first things I recorded on the twin tape deck of our newly acquired home stereo, which seemed like Abbey Road compared to previous efforts recorded on mono portables.

Come could have been named Come to the Bean Shop but I'd just read about a band called Whitehouse in Flowmotion fanzine so I was experimenting with ambiguous titles. The bean shop thing references running jokes of the time, mostly sourced from Jason Roberts at school whose sense of humour was mostly fried breakfast based. Typically he would insert weirdly incongruous references to toast, fried eggs, or baked beans into his essays, yielding belly laughs all round as they were graded with ticks and well done from teachers who had quite clearly ceased to give a shit about our education. Part of what made fried breakfast based humour so entertaining was that no-one else found it funny, or even realised it was supposed to be; which is as good an explanation of what this song is about as I can manage. Just pretend it's Nurse With Wound or Faust or something.

Jimmy Savile on 45 references the Stars on 45 phenomenon, crappy replayed medleys of hits set to a disco beat, so my version lifted the words of Jimmy Savile from broadcasts of his Old Time Record Club on Sunday afternoons, setting them to an attempted disco beat played on cardboard boxes. We all found Jimmy Savile weird, slightly creepy, and hence funny, which seemed as good a reason as any to record this track. Given recent revelations regarding the man, you could probably regard this piece as sharing the general spirit of all those Whitehouse tributes to assorted bad lads, should you feel so inclined.

Return to Index

Monday, 23 May 2016

Family of Noise - New Golden Age (1992) C90

Family of Noise was what I did after Illyana Rasputin - same kind of deal but with a slightly different approach to composition. This time if I fucked up, I recorded it again, and kept on doing so until it sounded all right - as opposed to just deciding that'll do and leaving in the mistakes because I'd read somewhere that mistakes were interesting. Having been recording my own stuff for about a decade by this point, I was getting a bit pissed off at the continued failure of my work to translate into cocaine and blow jobs, so Family of Noise - name taken from a shared love of both Luigi Russolo and Dirk Wears White Sox - was a sort of year zero thing, going back to the start and trying to not fuck it up this time. Most of this cassette was recorded in a single week of May 1992, as noted in an audio letter to Tim Griffiths dated to Saturday the 9th of May, 1992:

It's about a quarter past ten and I've had an absolutely brilliant day. I'm on holiday this week, and instead of going away as I was going to do - I was going to go to Glenn's place in Norfolk - I'm going to stay at home. I've borrowed a mountain of stuff - instruments and recording equipment  - from Carl and Andrew. I've been going at the music like nobody's business today. I haven't felt this good in years. I've recorded three unfinished pieces, unfinished because they still require vocals. It's been good stuff. I've been very pleased with it.

The other good news this week is that I got a letter from Paul Mex. He's given me the go-ahead to do a cassette of the very best of Mex, the early years, taken from the cassettes he did in the early eighties which I always thought were brilliant. Earlier today I recorded a cover version of one of his songs as it happens, although it's instrumental only. I won't be able to record vocals on any of this stuff until the end of the week at the earliest when I've mixed all the music down to two channels.

Anyway it's about half past ten now - time for a cup of tea and a fag, read a few comics and then go to bed. Tomorrow I'll be up about six, go for a walk, go to the bottle bank, walk over to Greenwich park, get some inspiration, come back and have breakfast, and then I'll get down to some more recording.

Then in an audio letter to John Powell dated Thursday the 4th of June, 1992, I report:

I was on holiday recently for a week and I was going to go and stay at Glenn's place but I just couldn't get my act together to save up some money for it, so I stayed here and borrowed loads and loads of equipment from Andrew and Carl and spent an entire week recording music. It was a really good week. I really enjoyed it. I'd get up at half past six every day or something ludicrous, then just get out, go for a walk; I've got my bus pass so I would go somewhere I had never been before, then walk around and think about it. It was nice weather that week as well. I'd get a bit of inspiration, come back, have an enormous fried breakfast, and get down to recording at about ten, sometimes working solidly right through until eight at night. I got most of the music for the Family of Noise tape recorded then, including also a version of Have I the Right? by the Honeycombs for the Joe Meek themed compilation that Chainsaw Cassettes are doing. It's probably the worst bit of music I've ever done in my life, but I'm quite proud of it in a funny sort of way. It sounds like a cross between the Bonzo Dog Band and something off the first Psychic TV album.

Back to the Family of Noise tape, I did quite a few cover versions. I had a system of working which was to do a cover version - something I insisted on doing such as Song of the Snake; then an updated version of an old Do Easy track such as Knife in My Side or Kick the Dwarf; then do a new bit, which is just something I'd have roughly worked out like Charlotte or New Face in SE13. I recorded about three tracks a day, and when I'd done that I'd go over to Carl's place and mix them all onto chrome tape, and because Carl's portastudio runs at ordinary tape speed I could then take that tape and add a couple of vocal tracks on what would ordinarily have been the second side. Some of it worked out okay, but I only have a very rough mix at the moment. The vocals on Rain are appalling. The mix will be different on the final thing, as well as the running order because the last two tracks, Theme and Interlude were really just an afterthought and to make up the time on the cassette, because it was the end of the week and I didn't have time to record anything else.

As you will have noticed I did a version of your own Psychosis, which I'm very pleased with actually. I borrowed Andrew's sampler and managed to lift some of the original sounds from your tape. I've been listening to your tapes and have only just realised you did a vocal version, because what I did was lift phrases from your letters and use those, to do nothing is to do everything which was something you said of Sid Watches Telly, that sort of thing.

Some of the stuff could be better, I mean in the case of tracks like Knife in My Side and Within These Walls. They're both quite old and I could have changed the lyrics because they're not quite appropriate to me in 1992, but I couldn't be bothered, so they're more or less the same as they were first time around.

That's probably more information than you really need. To condense it further, Knife in My Side, Kick the Dwarf, Within These Walls, and Mеня Зовут Яд are revised versions of old Do Easy tracks, the latter having originally been titled Image Control; Into the Valley covers a classic by Mex rather than the Skids, and Rain was originally written and recorded by Exhibit A and appeared on The Thing from the Crypt compilation on Mex's Dead Hedgehog label (still available here); the Virgin Prunes-esque Song of the Snake was my cover of the superior Thomas Frenzi original, and was apparently about Porridge based on some unfortunate personal experience; Psychosis and Tin Men were similarly covers of songs by people whose fame was about equivalent to my own, tape-wise, respectively John Powell of Hoax! zine with his musical hat on, and Paul Mercer of Envy - who appear elsewhere on this blog.

As noted above, I never actually finished this tape in that this was never intended to be the final mix. I think I just began to feel a bit self-conscious about having borrowed Carl's portastudio for probably a year or more, so when I gave it back and failed to buy one of my own, New Golden Age was pretty much forgotten. I suppose it's a shame, maybe. I still quite like some of this, or at least the ideas were decent, if not the execution. You can probably tell I was listening to the Severed Heads quite a bit.

As for what any of it's about: mostly about it having been a great many years since I'd previously had sex with a naked lady and my frustration with this sorry state of affairs, about what total knob's certain people were (my friend Rajun's girlfriend and her SWP pals in the case of Charlotte, then a fanzine editor and and some guy from a band I was in - but not Glenn or Carl, obviously) in the case of Life's Mistake; and about attempting to remain optimistic despite reasons as to why this might seem foolish in the case of the title track.

1 - Theme
2 - Into the Valley
3 - Sometimes I...
4 - Knife in My Side
5 - Song of the Snake
6 - New Face in SE13
7 - Kick the Dwarf
8 - Psychosis
9 - New Golden Age
10 - Interlude
11 - Mеня Зовут Яд
12 - Rain
13 - Mean Streets
14 - Within These Walls
15 - Tin Men
16 - Charlotte
17 - Life's Mistake

Return to Index

Monday, 16 May 2016

Manslaüghter - South of Hebburn (1993) C30

Those regularly suckling at the teat of musical adequacy which is this blog will already know the name of Manslaüghter. If not, it's all here and I don't see why I should have to repeat myself.

South of Hebburn builds upon the solid foundations laid out on the first cassette, taking the genre of furniture metal into new, unexplored, and immeasurably faster and more terrifying realms, as you will hear on classic tracks such as Sofa Bed of Doom and The Fitted Kitchen Related Cattle Mutilation Mystery. They seemed a bit more at home in the studio on this one, and had become pretty tight live as well, if the last four tracks here are any indication - all recorded at the Old Mill, Ferryhill, Co. Durham on Saturday 5th of December, 1992, it says here.

God - what I would have given to have heard this lot on vinyl.

1 - Empty Wardrobe
2 - The Fitted Kitchen Related Cattle Mutilation Mystery
3 - The Vinyl Frontier
4 - Sofa Bed of Doom
5 - Doorway of Entry
6 - Broken Strings
7 - Gene Simmons Codpiece
8 - Manslaüghter

Return to Index

Monday, 9 May 2016

Dovers - Rehearsals 4.2 & 5+ (1987) C60

There are already about a million free Dovers tapes on this blog so they shouldn't really require further introduction or explanation; and this is another one of those tapes which might be of interest if you were actually in the group, but there's otherwise no real reason for you to care about it. That said, I was in the group, and even I haven't listened to this one since probably 1987.

Actually, that's possibly not entirely true. You might conceivably experience a few seconds of curiosity if you were one of the people interviewed on the first track, which seems to just about justify this thing as a free download; not that I really need such justification. In the spring of 1987 I was coming to the end of my three year degree at Maidstone College of Art and had somehow managed to remain effectively unemployable, which made the prospect of life out in the real world terrifying. I therefore put myself up for nomination for president of the student union on the grounds that it would warrant some form of extension to my grant and mean I could spend another year bumming around college hoping to eventually achieve sexual intercourse. It had worked for Carl - the singing Dover - who had been president of the student union during my first year, and he'd spent most of the time beating them off with a shitty stick. Unfortunately I was up against Nick Shaddick who had a much better idea of what the job entailed and of what he was talking about, so he won, which was probably for the best. My research - or at least my equivalent of Hillary Clinton kissing babies and opening new branches of Taco Bell - had been to shove a tape recorder under the noses of friends and acquaintances and ask them what it would take to secure their vote, and the first track comprises their answers. In order of appearance, those you can hear were: Martin de Sey, Garreth Roberts, Ian Elliott, Neil McLeod (who we auditioned as drummer at one stage, but he didn't seem to like our music very much) with the golden tonsils of Nicola Percy at work in the background, Niki Medlik, Trisha (some friend of Niki, can't remember her second name), Gill Ewington, Andy someone-or-other-from-the-sculpture-department, Karl Foster, a couple of blokes from the painting department - one of whom might have been called Pete, Kirsten van Schreven, and Lynne Blackburn.

As for the other shit on here, tracks 2 and 3 were recorded at Carl's place in Bermondsey on the 14th November, 1987, and the rest was at my place in Chatham on the the 11th December, 1987; except for the guitar instrumentals which were just me.

So there you go; and it's still better than the entire Radiohead back catalogue. Enjoy. Don't enjoy. Whatever. Knock yourself out.

1 - Lawrence on the Campaign Trail
2 - Havin' a Laugh
3 - Do the Frug
4 - Havin' a Laugh
5 - Fatback
6 - A.I.D.X.
7 - The Insect
8 - B.L.A.C.Clowns
9 - Keep Your Dreams A'Burning
10 - Are You My Mother?
11 - Is This Recording?
12 - Fatback (guitar instrumental)
13 - Misery List (guitar instrumental)
14 - The Insect (guitar instrumental)
15 - Batman's Personal Friend (guitar instrumental)
16 - Beat Me Black & Blue (guitar instrumental)

Return to Index

Monday, 2 May 2016

War Drum - War Drum No. 2 (1998) C90

I've already made most of the apologies, excuses and disclaimers I might make for this cassette here, so read that if you haven't already done so, otherwise this one probably won't make a lot of sense. Here I was beginning to get fairly pissed off with the limitations of my equipment and tracks recorded by bouncing from tape to tape, hence the inclusion of "previously unreleased" (ho ho ho) material recorded a few years earlier as Family of Noise: two ill-advised neofolk covers and Patriotic Hymn, which was named after the painting by Giacomo Balla and shouldn't as such be taken as indication of my ever having been a raving Nazi. I've always found nationalism interesting, particularly in cases (notably that of Mexico) where it has an arguably positive influence, serving to unify an oppressed underclass in conjunction with revolutionary and hopefully socialist ideals; and the sweeping condemnation of nationalism as a principle is often as much about class (or sneering at the thickies) as it is about politics. Anyway, Patriotic Hymn was supposed to be part of some longer pseudo-classical thing which I actually began to compose as music on that special paper with the five lines and staves and shit, but never finished aside from this and Communication which was on the previous tape. As with the more misanthropic themes on this effort, and the martial aesthetic arising from my fixation with an essentially martial culture, I hopefully shouldn't have to explain that such ideas reflect my interests of the time rather than my most cherished personal beliefs.

The rest of it more or less explains itself, I would hope. The tracks from Mitochondrial Eve onwards benefit from Eddy Walsh kindly lending me a ton of equipment, including a lovely four-track portastudio, hence the dramatic improvement in sound quality for the rest of the tape. I feel there's also a dramatic improvement in War Drum as a musical entity which can be heard on this tape as the new age power electronics evolves into a sort of er... ritual ambient R&B, or summink. War Drum No. 2 probably isn't a masterpiece, but fuck it, this one still sounds pretty good to me.

Glenn Wallis of Konstruktivists provided the rhythm on Education as War by the way, if that makes it any more likely that you'll listen to the thing.

1 - Paynal II
2 - Ash Scatterer
3 - Till the Living Flesh is Burned
4 - Blood Against Gold
5 - Patriotic Hymn
6 - Your Time Will Come
7 - Mactlactli Ollin
8 - Toltec Inheritance
9 - Mitochondrial Eve
10 - Bioweapon
11 - A Marriage
12 - Drift Strain
13 - Education as War
14 - La Llora
15 - Hummingbird
16 - Topa Inca
17 - We Will Survive
18 - Overload
19 - Active Force
20 - New Species
21 - Atonement
22 - Longest Day

Return to Index