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Sunday 22 October 2023

Forty Five Minutes Of Leftfield

I was listening to Leftism recently, Leftfield's 1995 debut album, an album that takes in sublime ambient house (Melt, Song Of Life), bass heavy dub techno pounders (Release The Pressure, Afro- Left) and eye catching guest vocalists (John Lydon on Open Up, Toni Halliday on Original). It was this Top of The Pops repeat that had me digging Leftism out, a 1995 appearance with a blonde Toni moonlighting from Curve and looking every inch the goth- dance star...

The back to back pairing of Melt and Song Of Life, tracks three and four, were the two that struck me the most this time around, a gorgeous way to spend ten minutes. The closing 21st Century Poem also had me appreciating it anew. I began a Sunday forty minute Leftfield mix and immediately had the problem of too many songs, many that are eight, nine or ten minutes long plus a load of remixes. In the end I've gone mainly for mid- 90s Leftfield, Neil Barnes and Paul Daley's glory years, tracks from subsequent albums/ versions of the group left for another time. 

Forty Five Minutes Of Leftfield

  • Fanfare Of Life
  • Release The Pressure (Adrian Sherwood Mix)
  • Renegade Soundwave (The Leftfield Remix)
  • Nothing (Extended Version)
  • Melt
  • Release The Pressure (The Rough Dub)
  • Original
  • Open Up (I Hate Pink Floyd Mix)

Fanfare of Life is a version of Song Of Life, Leftfield's fourth single, out in 1992, a masterful piece of optimistic ambient house. The Fanfare version also showed up on Cafe Del Mar Volumen Uno, a definitive mid- 90s compilation. There are a pair of Underworld remixes either of which probably could and should have featured on this mix. 

Release The Pressure appears twice, once in its 2019 re- released Adrian Sherwood remix version. You can never have too much Sherwood. The Rough Dub came out on 12" in 1992, Neil and Paul with Earl Sixteen on vox, a dark and deep, epic thumper.  

Renegade Soundwave were a London three piece, much underrated and unappreciated in some ways. Their singles  Women Respond To Bass, The Phantom, Positive ID, Probably A Robbery, Renegade Soundwave and Brixton are all worth spending time with as are their albums, the 1990 In Dub especially. This Leftfield remix of their title track came out in 1994.

Sandals were a beat poetry/ progressive house group who I thought were great, briefly. Several singles and an album with Paul Daley and Neil Barnes producing, mixing and remixing. Nothing was a 1992 single, with the whispered line 'Old man, what have you done?' just as pertinent now as it was then. There are old men all round the globe making the world a worse place aren't there?

'The film starts/ the film ends', Toni Halliday says as Leftfield's heavy bass and beats stomp on around her on Original. Toni was the vocalist in Curve, a duo with Dean Garcia who made a run of electronic rock/ goth dance singles- they've been featured recently over at The Vinyl Villain. While the dance music guest vocalist thing quickly became standard Leftfield's collaborations with Toni and John Lydon were attention grabbing in the mid- 90s. They put John Lydon back on the cover of the music press, somewhere he hadn't been for some time. Lydon's vocal on Open Up is the stuff of legend, a reborn, angry and exhilarating vocal from the former PiL/ Pistol, stridently taking down Hollywood and the film industry. The I Hate Pink Floyd Mix is by Sabres Of Paradise slowing the song down to an industrial dub grind, a PiL influenced remix by Weatherall, Kooner and Burns. 


Rickyotter said...
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Rickyotter said...

Loved this mix Adam. I still dig Leftism out once or twice a year and marvel at how good it still sounds. That run of Black Flute into Space Shanty, then onto Inspection (Check One) covers so many styles and boundaries, and never fails to thrill. That Renegade Soundwave remix is one of my all time favourites too

jesseblack said...

I'm with Ricky - but I'd say the thrill ride peaks with Storm 3000. I really enjoyed the stadium house bands' dabbles with jungle, this and Orbital's Are We Here? mainly, I guess.

And as far as "Renegade Soundwave" goes ... I mean, "This Leftfield remix of their title track came out in 1994," is one way to say it. The other might be "probably the most exciting electronic club track of all time." I think purely in terms of dynamics, the excitement you can create just with arrangement and volume, it's never been equalled. There is almost nothing happening in this song -- and yet it is hairs-on-end thrilling from start to finish.

Khayem said...

I loved this from start to finish, great work, Adam! Funnily enough, Leftfield have also been back on my radar (their Love It Dub of Back To Front by Adamski, as it happens).

Seems bizarre now, but record label shenanigans meant that they couldn’t release their own material for a couple of years and remixes became their calling card. I agree with Jesse about the magnificence of RSW but the dubs they created of David Bowie, If?, Stereo MCs and Ultra Nate were also spectacular.

When Open Up and then Leftosm appeared, it was just monumental. A perfect single and album for me.

And thanks for putting Sandals back in the spotlight. I thought they were brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Astonishingly mix. Thanks so much. Swc.