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Friday, 9 June 2023

Weatherall Remix Friday Three

Week three of my spotlight on some of Andrew Weatherall's lesser known or more outlying remixes. The definition of that may be quibbled with- for some Weatherall heads, none of these will be overlooked or less well known. 

In the rush of his early remixes, the period from 1989 to 1992, Andrew redefined what a remix could do and be- this wasn't just tinkering, extending the intro or adding disco drums, this was new music made from the source material and Andrew's record collection, spun into new shapes and pushed way beyond where the original song started in many cases. Along with Hugo Nicolson, the list of remixes from this era contains wall to wall brilliance, genre smashing, dancefloor filling mayhem, a new psychedelia splicing acid house and dub with indie/ leftfield guitar bands and the music from the margins of the previous twenty years. Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, The Grid, James, Saint Etienne, My Bloody Valentine, Jah Wobble, That Petrol Emotion, The Orb, S'Express and A Man Called Adam were among the music paper friendly names that gained the words Andy, Weatherall and Remix in brackets after their song titles. Lesser known acts- Meat Beat Manifesto, The Impossibles, Airstream, Finitribe, Love Corporation, The Moody Boys, West India Company and Word Of Mouth- all saw their music remixed to glorious effect too. 

As 1992 ticked on things changed a little, with Andrew's remix of Yello and Future Sound Of London pushed things more techno and less Balearic/ indie dance. Caught somewhere on the cusp of the technicoloured first flush of remixes were three remixes of Galliano's Skunk Funk. Galliano's spoken word/ beat poetry/ acid jazz was good fun if not to everyone's taste. Their albums In Pursuit Of The 13th Note and A Joyful Noise Unto The Creator (1991 and '92 respectively) had Blue Note typography and sleeve design, Rob Gallagher's semi- stoned rhymes and insights, Mick Talbot on keys, a Beatnik Bez with a staff called Snaith and reggae, skull caps and ponchos, soul, funk and rap stirred into a smoky pot. I saw them play at the Hacienda, the venue nowhere near full and loved them. Skunk Funk was one of A Joyful Noise's standout moments and Andrew's remixes were released as a standalone 12" single. The lead remix was the Cabin Fever mix, a nine minute and forty second lesson in how to remix. Opened with Valerie Etienne's backing vocals, 'a woah woah woah woah woah woah woaaaah' rising and falling and some scratchy FX. A rhythm begins to start up a minute in, the whole thing smothered in a fug of smoke. Bells ring, bubbles pop, timpani tumble and percussion rattles. A didgeridoo smatters about. The entry at two minutes of the drums and bass lifts us suddenly onto the floor, the groove now everything. The drums pause now and then leaving the bassline at the fore, a massive, isolated, woody bass loop. There's a clipped guitar riff , more clattering drums, more didgeridoo, then a guitar solo, the bass in and out, instruments being thrown in and out of the mix and in the final minute some vocals finally break through. Massive fun and a sense of controlled mayhem. 

Skunk Funk (Cabin Fever)

The Cabin Fever Dub kicks off with Jean Binta Breeze, the dub poetess whose album Tracks from 1991 also provided Andrew with the vocal samples for his remix of Saint Etienne's Only Love Can Break Your Heart. 'And when the music plays, we hollah!' Jeans says and the bass kicks in. The Dub mix is shorter, only five minutes long, a distilled version of the Cabin Fever mix, with the vocals and elements re- arranged again, the rubber bassline right at the front and snatches of voices and vocals.

Skunk Funk (Cabin Fever Dub)

There is a third remix, the Soldier's Mix, which was the version I played at Blossom Street Social when we DJed there back in April but I don't have an mp3 of it (or if I do, can't find it) and it doesn't seem to be on Youtube either. 

Thursday, 8 June 2023

Cloud Walkin

A few weeks ago I wrote a post/ raved about Dirt Bogarde's Heavy Blotter, huge sounding, emotive Balearic acid beauty. Dirt's back with more new music, this time with a track called Cloud Walkin, seven minutes thirty seconds of chuggy, cosmic, sunset sounds, at first sounding quite chilled but becoming insistent and intense in the second half. Buy it at Bandcamp

Just over a year ago Dirt released another walking track, this time Windwalker, a dark, thumping groove with rattling snares, echoic bass squiggles and a massive, speaker- testing bassline. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Let It Burn

I've been watching the three part BBC series The Gallows Pole, a Shane Meadows version of the novel by Ben Myers, based on the true story of a group of poverty stricken workers in 18th century West Yorkshire running a coin counterfeiting scam. Shane Meadows version is huge fun, with some familiar Shane Meadows tropes- an ensemble cast of actors with regional accents, many scenes that appear improvised, copious swearing (and I mean copious fucking swearing on an industrial fucking scale) and some very strong female characters. Shane Meadows approaches period drama as if people were the same then as they are now, just in different clothing and it's a very refreshing take on the past- in one of the scenes the unemployed weavers and farm workers discusses the behaviour of the royal family, concluding 'fuck the king'. 

The lead character and coin clipper David Hartley appears at the start of each episode in dreamlike visions with stagmen (all of whom have thick northern accents). At the start of episode one he stumbles around the moors in the mist, a stab wound in his side, the stagmen appearing out of the gloom. The soundtrack is equally striking, a mixture of weird, old English folk, traditional ballads and broadsides, early 70s rock from the likes of The Groundhogs and blistering modern psyche- rock. The opening titles are a blend of 18th century unemployment and 60s psychedelia, men with stag's heads, trippy swirls and distorted guitars. 

Each of the three episodes finishes with this song from 2018 by mystic Swedish psyche rockers Goat, a riot of super fuzzed guitar, a drummer running round the kit, spindly lead lines, wailing vox, a flute solo and some hair raising distorted wah wah. 

Let It Burn

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Acid Bangles

You didn't know you wanted, no, needed, an acid house reworking of Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles did you? You'd never listened to the song in all its Los Angeles 1986 glory and thought you needed it redone in huge acid chug style but, as they say, here we are- and you do. Thank Rich Lane who produced just such an artefact for a DJ gig he had a couple of weeks ago at The Evil Acid Barons Weekender in Devon. You can find it here- it was available for a limited time as a download but I think Rich may have switched that off due to potentially problematic copywrite issues. 

I think this is the ideal opportunity to post this snippet of video heaven- the Susanna Hoffs side eye. 

Written by Liam Sternberg the song was first offered to Toni Basil, then Lene Lovich (who recorded a version but didn't release it) before The Bangles got to record it. In September 1986 they played it while appearing on Whistle Test. The decision by producer David Kahne to have drummer Debbie replaced by a drum machine for the song caused ructions within the group and they didn't work with him again. It may have Rich's job a little easier though. 

Monday, 5 June 2023

Monday's Long Songs

Last Friday saw the release of Rude Audio and Dan Wainwright's new album Psychedelic Science. Mark and Dan recorded it holed up in North Wales and brought into being an album which marries dub with 60s psychedelia and the voices of American guru Ram Dass and Ken Kesey's bus driver Ken Babbs'. Not only do they manage to pull those seemingly disparate ingredients together into a cohesive whole but Psychedelic Science is already sounding like one of the albums of the summer. 

The album opens with Be Love, a slo- mo, blissed out dub groove with the voice of Ram Dass setting the scene for what follows over the next eight songs, an eight minute excursion that sounds like waking up after you've had exactly the right amount of sleep to find the sun shining and the day ahead looking good.

Over the course of the next six songs Mark and Dan take their chunky, cosmic dub to new places- from the bassline led, sci fi cover of The Grateful Dead's Fire On The Mountain to the chuggy bounce of The Fever and the off kilter, bass rumble of El Qasr. They cover Bowie's Heroes, a spoken word dub cover no less, with Ken Babbs from the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test on vocals. 

Control has a lovely snaking melody, chopped up vocals and wandering bass. On the spaced out Talking To The Sun Dan sings, his voice cut through the glorious fug. Finally, they reach some of kind of conclusion with the closing track, the twenty minute Patience Dub (A Prog Odyssey), the kind of thing that in lesser hands would be too much. Mark and Dan make a twenty minute track seem, if anything, too short. Music to be enveloped by and to drift away to. Buy Psychedelic Science digitally or on CD at Bandcamp

Sunday, 4 June 2023

Forty Minutes Of Depeche Mode

I recently watched 101, D.A. Pennebaker's documentary film from 1989 that showed the group preparing to play the 101st gig and final leg of their world tour the year before. It was good fun, a time capsule peak into the world of 1988, with a van of radio competition winners travelling to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to see DM with live snippets of the group interspersed. 

It's fair to say that I'm a fan of some of Depeche Mode's songs rather than an outright fan of the band. Their story is interesting, electro- pop boys from Basildon who survive the departure of their songwriter becoming a pop sensation and then a stadium size electronic rock group. The death of Andy Fletcher last year showed a fairly unique aspect of the group too- Fletcher was the man who made the group work but whose contributions weren't predominantly musical. For the mix below I've concentrated on the late 80s/ early 90s era of the group, mainly singles with some remixes. I seem to have omitted Personal Jesus which is an error on my part. 

Forty Minutes Of Depeche Mode

  • Happiest Girl (Orbital Mix)
  • Never Let Me Down Again (Tsangarides Mix)
  • I Feel You (7" version)
  • Enjoy The Silence (Rich Lane A&E Cotton Dub)
  • Blasphemous Rumours
  • Barrel Of A Gun (Underworld Soft Mix)

From 1990 The Orb's remix of Happiest Girl confusingly titled as the Orbital Mix (how both The Orb and Orbital mist have wished the other had chosen a different name). The remix is typically Orb- like, downtempo ambient house with Dave Gahan's words on top. As well as a 12" single in 1990, it came out on The Orb's compilation of their own remixes in 1996, alongside a welter of other remixes- Pop Will Eat Itself, Erasure, Killing Joke, Primal Scream, Yello, Innersphere and Wir all feature. 

Never Let Me Down is a throbbing, growling, druggy electro- rock single from 1987 and from their Music For The Masses album. The Tsangarides mix is from the 12", a remix by Chris Tsangarides. My favourite DM song, one that has worked its way into my musical world in recent years. 

I Feel You was a 1993 single, screeching tyres, glitter stomp and blues guitar riff. 

Enjoy The Silence was a 1990 single and from their massive 1991 album Violator. Synths, monochrome gloom, a lush darkness made for those sunset moments in stadia round the world- along with Personal Jesus it's the 90s Mode in excelsis. The version here is a re- edit by Stoke- on - Trent's Rich Lane, a man who knows his way round a re- edit better than most. 

Blasphemous Rumours came out in 1984, a song about suicide, survival and religion that baited the religious, including those in the band. The crunchy synth sound and industrial drums show the way ahead. 

Barrel Of A Gun was a single in 1997, the lead song for their Ultra album. Underworld's remixes, three of them, showed the two sides of late 90s Underworld- the Hard Mix is nine minutes of thumping, hard and fast drums that don't let up. The Soft mix (included here) is Underworld in dreamy, floaty mode and proof that Underworld were still capable of great remixes and of creating some lovely, low key, intimate moments.

Saturday, 3 June 2023


Stockport sits six miles south of Manchester (and only a ten minute train ride from Piccadilly). It is a town that has until recently stubbornly refused attempts at regeneration and gentrification- and in some ways that has been part of its charm. Over the last few of years the market hall and Underbank area have undergone a change, with shops and bars opening, a food hall, an upturn in fortunes attracting a different, newer crowd. Opposite the railway station a new plaza area has been created with a bar, Bask, opening a year ago. Bask runs all sorts of events as well as serving food and drink among them acoustic nights, late nights at the weekend with DJs and a regular Wednesday night slot called Express Yourself. On Wednesday this week, 31st May, it had Manchester poet Mike Garry performing. There was a full line up of support, starting with Matt Jacques, a singer songwriter with acoustic guitar telling tales of bandit country (North Reddish, a short bus ride away), his intention to haunt his wife if he dies first and a cover of Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. There were three poets (and sadly I don't know their names but all were were excellent): a young woman with personal poetry about her body and autism; a young man with laugh out loud funny poems about getting the number 50 bus from East Didsbury to Salford and middle aged men who say nothing's happened in Manchester since Factory, that the old days were better and that Beetham Tower is too tall; and a male poet with poetry filled with righteous anger, about politics, givng up watching the news for reasons of self- preservation, life, near death and the NHS. There was a stand up comic whose main theme was being a worrier and the things to worry about and lastly the excellent Test Card Girl, a one woman act, keys and vocals playing synth/ folk. The event was hosted by David Scott, a Manchester radio and Twitter who has recently published an alternative history of Manchester since the 90s titled Mancunians (which I'm half way through and enjoying a lot- he is ten years or so younger than me so sees the city and its culture in a different way which is always a good thing to expose yourself to. The range of contributors to the book is varied and interesting too).

Mike Garry is Manchester's foremost wordsmith, a performance poet and librarian who always puts on a good show, who can veer skillfully from funny to hard hitting to emotive and back again. His best known works are Gorton Girls Know All The Words To Songs By Chaka Khan and (mainly) his tribute to Tony Wilson, St Anthony- An Ode To Anthony H. Wilson. Mike gives us ninety minutes tonight and in a small venue like this shows he's capable of bringing the house down. There's no need to ask people to be quiet while he's on- everyone is silent while he speaks and sings. At times, between poems, to keep the flow and the mood going Mike finishes a poem and asks/ instructs us not to clap, as he moves straight into his next work, giving a sense that it's all part of a bigger piece, a life's work. He opens by approaching the mic and singing, lines about it being a very cold sea and a very deep sea. He then segues into a poem about immigration, migrants and their children crossing the Channel and the lack of humanity that's seen in the tone of the debate about these people, undertaking huge risks. He talks about football, and his love/ hate relationship with the BBC (and the money they offered him to write something for the Beeb's coverage of today's all Manchester cup final- at first he wanted to refuse it, as a United fan unable to write about City. The money he tells us soon changed his mind- he reads a poem about the sky being blood red but then switches it so it's sky blue). He reads and performs a mixture of old poems and new ones, some so new the only place they exist is on his phone. He can fire off words at a million miles an hour and stop suddenly, delivering heavy truths and slices of life. Mike jokes with us that he's become obsessed with death and that his poems are mainly now about death- and they may be so, but really they are about life, and loss (which becomes part of life as you age), and they are celebrations of life and lives. 

When Mike kicks into St. Anthony I find myself, seated near the back, mouthing the words to myself as he says them. It's a poem that often moves me when I listen to the recorded version and it doesn't fail to do so tonight. His next poem floors me and Lou, a poem called Son, written for his son who now lives in New Zealand, with lines about him being so far away, wanting to see him and wanting to hug him. Given our situation with Isaac's death eighteen months ago almost to the day, it has a predictable effect on us both, both in tears as Mike speaks. He stretches the evening out, pushing the time limit and giving us more, the audience of a hundred or so lapping up every word. At the finale, he gathers his things from the stage- books, phone, coat- packs into his bag and puts his jacket on, all the while still reciting his lines and then with no little drama delivers the last line and walking off the stage and exiting into the toilet laving the room briefly silent and then in applause.

I've seen Mike four times in recent years, once at the old Granada Studio building for the launch of the St. Anthony single in 2015, once at a free, open air event in Altrincham a few years ago, attended by a few dozen people and most recently supporting John Cooper Clarke at the Bridgewater Hall in 2022. The performance at Bask this week outdid them all- spellbinding stuff from a master of his craft.