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Thursday 30 May 2024

Imaginary Albums

Over at The Vinyl Villain you can find a long running series of Imaginary Compilation Albums where JC and various readers have put together compilations for a range of artists and musicians from The Smiths (ICA 001) to Steve Albini (the most recent, ICA 366). This is not a post or series to tread on those toes- this is imaginary albums that should have happened but didn't or that only exist in the mind, music that should have/ could have been made but which remains unwritten, unrecorded and inexistent. 

I've spoken to Mark from Rude Audio/ The Flightpath Estate previously about the imaginary album we wanted to happen. In 1991 Jah Wobble and The Invaders Of The Heart recorded Rising Over Bedlam, an album taking Wobble's huge love for dub and fusing it with what was then called World Music. Sinead O'Connor and Natacha Atlas both appeared on vocals and on Bomba and Visions Of You Wobble produced some of his best solo songs. In 1992 a 12" of Visions Of You appeared. The A Side was the version from the album. The flipside, The AW Side, had three remixes by Andrew Weatherall, remixes that ran into each other, adding up to nearly thirty minutes of music- Andrew took the song and looped it, twisted it, dubbed it, reshaped it, the bass and FX bubbling on forever, Sinead's voice dropping in and out. The AW remixes,  Pick 'n' Mix 1, Pick 'n Mix 2 and The Secret Love Child Of Hank And Johnny Mix, are a brilliant piece of work in their own right, the remix as an artform. 

Weatherall's remixes of Visions Of You were also the first time that what would become The Sabres Of Paradise would work together. Andrew had met Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns in a club and said they should work together. Jagz and Gary nodded and smiled and said, 'of course, of course', not expecting it to happen. Andrew phoned them shortly after and the three of them went to work on Visions Of You. 

Visions of You (The Secret Love Child Of Hank And Johnny Mix)

In the imaginary album of my mind the remixes led to talks about an album, and in the aftermath of the albums Andrew produced for Primal Scream and One Dove, he, Jagz and Gary went into a studio somewhere in London (Orinoco was popular at the time) with Jah Wobble and Sinead O'Connor and they went onto write, record and produce a full length album- Andrew Weatherall's production, Jah Wobble's bass and Sinead O'Connor's voice all fleshed out over four sides of vinyl, a widescreen, post- acid house, 1992/ 1993 dub and electronics masterpiece to go with Morning Dove White. 

I have a second imaginary Andrew Weatherall album that coulda/ shoulda happened. In December 1993, in the bumper end of year Christmas edition of the NME, Mark E Smith was one person given a series of questions, including being asked to nominate their Jerk Of The Year. MES gave the response 'Andy Weatherall' (he also replied to Woman of the Year with 'lead singer from James' and said what he wanted from 1994 was 'death to all French people' so curmudgeonly Mark was definitely having one of those days). But to nominate Andrew Weatherall, out of everyone who could have annoyed MES, as Jerk Of The Year seemed odd. 

It turns out Andrew had been lined up to produce a Fall album. Like all right minded folk, Andrew was a huge fan of Prestwich's finest post- punk group and in 1993 had accepted the challenge. Mark and the then line up had been playing with dance music rhythms and the album that ended up being '93's The Infotainment Scam included The Fall covering Lost In Music among the customary swaggering Fall brilliance and mayhem. If Andrew had stayed on the job, he would have been the producer of The Infotainment Scam. The thought of a 1993 Andrew Weatherall produced Fall album is mind boggling- by '93 Sabres were off the ground and the techno sound of Andrew's Sabres Of Paradise club and label had shifted him away from the Balearic remixes of the previous years and the genre bending sounds of Screamadelica.  

In reality Andrew arrived at the studio, took a look at the amount of boozing that was going on (as Brix Smith has said in an interview) and walked away. Other Weatherall insiders have said similar. We can only imagine what a Weatherall produced Fall album would have sounded like but the thought of some of the Sabresonic- era sounds and rhythms with Mark E. Smith's voice plus those ramshackle, distorted Craig Scanlon guitars cut up and looped is mouthwatering. 

A Past Gone Mad

The experience may have led Mark to call Andrew Jerk Of The Year. It clearly didn't put Andrew off The Fall- they appeared in mixes and sets thereafter, not least on Sci- Fi- Lo- Fi, a 2007 compilation Andrew put together for Soma which had Big New Prinz on it (From 1988's I Am Kurious Oranj). In 1988 The Fall played the song on Tony Wilson's The Other Side Of Midnight- a proper glam racket. 

There may be more imaginary albums to follow, some may even be non- Andrew Weatherall related. Although there is the story of the Sabres Of Paradise album with guest vocalists that never happened that I'll probably come back to. 


George said...

I was laughing out loud at the responses in the MESmith questionnaire

Echo and Rauschen said...

very nice idea, imagination, albums as we would like them to be, or as they should have been. Things get really crazy and exciting when it becomes clear which collaborations were planned and never came to fruition (the Fall - A.Weatherall!?). Unfortunately, many will never find out about all these collapse...

keepingitpeel said...

At last a Wetherall mention.

Swiss Adam said...

You just had to be patient and wait KiP