21 April 2009

One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing) by A.C. Marias

I name this moment eternity
And wait for it to pass.

Three Rooms

There's no-one in the first room. A light shines in through the far side window, splintered by the vertical blinds into parallel courses, channels that guide dust from the ceiling to the floor and back again. The couch is red and comes to life under the play of filtered sunlight. "Dappled" is the word people use when they want to be poetic. A student of dance lives here; you can tell from the magazines on the coffee table. But she's not at home.

In the next apartment, several people have gathered for cigarettes and tea. The blinds are drawn. No faces can be seen in the shade and circling smoke. Eyes are closed in the pregnant twilight. Everyone concentrates, hands held in a circle. Above the couch (brown this time) a volunteer floats gently, swaying from side to side. It's as though he was suspended by an invisible string, an anchor extended from the ceiling to his heart.

Down the street a sign swings in the wind... tick... tock... tick... tock. It marks the corner pub where people gather at the end of their workday. Or maybe a little bit before the end. It's alright to be early; it's a friendly place. You can chew the fat and discuss how hot it was at noon, or who is most likely to win the big game this weekend. In the middle of the room a woman in red dances, solo. But she's not on her own; she's with everyone else in the bar. And everyone is with her.

Women share secrets. A man starts his own private dance, carefree. Another strums a guitar repetitively. Sunlight streams in the windows, bleaching the colour from the scene. It could be anytime. It could be the nineteen-thirties.

Later that evening, back in the first flat, the dancer is sitting on the couch, reading a book on aviation. From the radio comes a message. "We must be on you, but cannot see you -- but gas is running low. Have been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet."

The dancer thinks about cataloguing the gestures of all the men she saw in the bar. She picks up a sketchbook and a medium-hard pencil and begins to draw. An hour passes in almost silence. If you were on an island in the Pacific ocean the time would be 8:43am. The island being small, you'd be able to hear the gentle surf no matter where you sat.

There is a burst of static from the radio. "We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait."

She looks up at the radio in anticipation. Nothing happens. Outside there is the sound of passing traffic, a sudden squeel of brakes.

"We are running on line north and south." The line crackles back to silence, one last time.

One of our girls has gone missing.

Angela Conway : dancer : choreographer : video director : musician
collaborated with Gilbert and Lewis from Wire in Dome and P’o
recorded as A.C. Marias:
"Drop" single, 1981
"The Whispered Year" on Touch cassette Meridians 1, 1983
"Just Talk" single, 1986
"Time Was" single, 1988
One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing) LP, 1989


One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)
01 Trilby's Couch
02 Just Talk
03 There's A Scent Of Rain In The Air
04 Our Dust
05 So Soon
06 Give Me
07 To Sleep
08 Looks Like
09 Sometime
10 One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing
11 Time Was
UK LP Mute [STUMM 68]
UK CD Mute [CD STUMM 68]
released 29 August 1989
track 11 is on the CD version only

"The Real Atrocity" by Joy Division

See that we're the real atrocities
Author, Imagist, Visionary, J.G. Ballard is dead. In the course of his long career, from the surrealist science fiction of The Crystal World, through his explorations of the psycho-sexual geography of the city (Concrete Island, High Rise, Crash), and his later autobiographical forays into his own past (Empire Of The Sun), Ballard's work defined a generation with its apocalyptic imagery of drained swimming pools, car crashes, and bodily mutilation. His was the poetry of Auschwitz, the Kennedy assassinations, and the unspeakable violence at the intersection of two walls. Condensed, compressed, and ruthlessly logical, it constituted nothing less than a new mythology by which we might experience the twentieth century.

Ballard's influence in post-punk music is wide and deep. Simon Reynold's encyclopedic history of the period, Rip It Up And Start Again, includes no fewer than twenty references to his novels, and even those barely scratch the surface. Ultravox, John Foxx, Gary Numan and The Normal all borrowed heavily from Ballard, and not simply as a resource for song titles, lyrics, and themes. Ballard gave them something more, a kind of musical grammar that paired a cool, clinical detachment with an unflinching emotional honesty, a combination which was perhaps most deeply realized in the work of the late Ian Curtis.

Here, as our tribute to Ballard, is an exclusive mix of Joy Division's "Atrocity Exhibition," the song Curtis named after a Ballard short story. This version is previously unreleased in any form.


The Real Atrocity

01 Atrocity Exhibition [Real Atrocity Version] (4:14)

19 April 2009

Three Singles by The Psychedelic Furs

One of the real pleasures of The Same Mistakes is being able to collaborate on the writing and design with The Second Chameleon, extending an obsessive dialogue that he and I have been carrying on with regards to the music of the Post Punk era since the time when we were, well, Post Punks. It's not only a conversation that I enjoy, but one from which I always learn something new about the music that I thought I already knew through and through.

Last week's post on The Psychedelic Furs' Radio One Sessions was no exception. No sooner had I clicked on "Publish," I had an email telling me that there were four cracking good tracks from the early days of the band that had not managed to make their way on to one of the various album re-issues or best of collections for the band: "****" from the "Sister Europe" 7"; "Dash" from the flip of "Dumb Waiters;" and "Danger (Remix)" and "I Don't Want to Be Your Shadow (Extended Version)" from the "Danger" 12". As these are all very much worth having, I've ripped the singles in their entirety to preserve their original context, and zipped 'em up here for your pleasure.

Feel free to join the conversation--add a comment below!

-- Crash The Driver


Sister Europe 7"

01 Sister Europe
02 ****

UK 7" CBS [S CBS 8179] 1980

Dumb Waiters 7"

03 Dumb Waiters
04 Dash

UK 7" CBS [CBS A1166] 1981

Danger 12"

05 Danger (Remix)
06 Don't Want To Be Your Shadow (Extended Version)
07 Goodbye (Dance Version)

UK 12" CBS [CBS A13 2865] 1982

14 April 2009

Radio One Sessions by The Psychedelic Furs

Not all music is driving music. And not all driving music is for all cars. In fact there is some music that is only driving music for very specific cars, perhaps even very specific model years. My case in point: The Psychedelic Furs.

Formed in England in 1977 by Richard Butler (vocals), and his brother Tim Butler (bass), together with saxophone player Duncan Kilburn, the band went through various line up changes until they found John Ashton (guitar) and Vince Ely (drummer). A well-received Peel session in 1979 led to a deal with CBS records. "Sister Europe," their first single for the label, was a funereal affair, a sluggish, mid-tempo bass and drum pulse against which Richard Butler, already fully in command of his rasping, world weary voice, mused idly about a sister who had returned home. If the saxophone reminded one of Roxy Music, the flanged guitars and air of profound resignation were pure Low-era Bowie, spliced with Joy Division (perhaps not surprisingly as Martin Hannett produced both bands). An audacious and compelling debut, perfectly suited for the time. But driving music? Not exactly.

The eponymous album that followed showed that the P Furs were, in fact, capable of rising above the merely morose, with some storming tracks like "Fall"and the comparatively jubilant "We Love You," but somehow the band never really got in my bones. They seemed too obvious. too derivative, or sometimes just trying too hard. Echo and the Bunnymen and PIL did this kind of thing so much better. That was until I plugged a tape with the first album and its follow up, Talk, Talk, Talk into the cassette deck of my 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger.

The car had been left to me by a reclusive uncle, a man who had lost his job building jet fighters following the Avro Arrow debacle of the 1950s, and seemed to have rarely left the house until his death in 1980. I visited him once. Wet towels hung from doorways as make-shift humidifiers, and stacks of newspapers in every corner of every room. I never quite knew why he wanted me to have the car. Perhaps I said something right that day. But man was I pleased to learn of my inheritance. The car was practically new. In fact, it looked like it had just come out of the show room; its slant six engine, reputed by some to be the finest achievement of the American auto industry, positively gleamed under the hood. And there was enough room in that trunk to fit the gear for an entire band.

Driving late at night, through the glittering, rain-soaked streets of Toronto, the street car wires humming over head and the cassette player cranked all the way up, The Psychedelic Furs suddenly made sense. Not just sense. They spoke a kind of truth. I was in love with the nuclear bomb. I was in love with Sophia Loren. With Brigitte Bardot. The people dead in cars. I saw them. It all made sense. But only here, in this car, listening to this tape. I got it at last. Got it in my bones.

Collected here are the various sessions that the P Furs did for various BBC Radio programs, between 1979 and 1990. Tracks 1-4 are from that first session for John Peel (7/25/79). Tracks 5-7 are from the band's second Peel session (2/18/80) and tracks 8-10 for their third (2/2/8). Tracks 11-12 were recorded 9/4/81 for Richard Skinner, and tracks 13-16 were recorded 2/7/90 in session for John Campbell.

And that tape that sounded so good in my 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger? Still got it--thanks Second Chameleon!

-- Crash The Driver


Psychedelic Furs - Radio One Sessions

01 Imitation Of Christ
02 Fall
03 Sister Europe
04 We Love You
05 Soap Commercial
06 Susan's Strange
07 Mac The Knife
08 Into You Like A Train
09 On And Again
10 All Of This And Nothing
11 She Is Mine
12 Dumb Waiters
13 Entertain Me
14 Book Of Days
15 Torch
16 Pretty In Pink

UK CD Strange Fruit [SFRSCD003] 1997

07 April 2009

"Kansas" And "Raintime" By The Wolfgang Press

Somebody here is older
Macbeth times two
A lazy suit
And bloody hands

The history of the English 4AD label has been well documented. My personal understanding of their musical output is represented by four stages: dark & forboding English men; trilling & swooping angels; drum machine pop; gnashing & strumming Americans. Several of these occurred simultaneously and even in the same band, but think of some typical acts and see if it doesn't mostly fit: Bauhaus & Modern English; Cocteau Twins & Dead Can Dance; Colourbox & Frazier Chorus; Pixies & Red House Painters. (4AD continued after that, of course, but my interest waned.)

Somewhere in that history was The Wolfgang Press, who were birthed in the strange fires of Rema Rema and Mass before releasing their own inchoate first album The Burden of Mules. No sense or pattern was to be found in these dark entries. But in 1984 this deviant energy was wedded to the slick programming of Martyn & Steven Young, the expert engineering of John Fryer and Robin Guthrie's dreamscape production. With Scarecrow -- two long songs and an insane cover of "Respect" -- the band gelled.

This isn't to say one could make much sense of tracks like "Ecstacy," which opens with crows cawing over some sort of nightmare soundtrack before dissolving into a swirl of Spanish (?) trumpets and vocal exultations. The difference is that now it sounds as though Mark Cox, Andrew Gray and Michael Allen actually mean to make the sounds they are making. We can no longer assume they are the mistakes of a band new to their instruments and studio recording.

After that I watched attentively for each further release. The EPs Water and Sweatbox appeared in 1985, followed by the album The Legendary Wolfgang Press And Other Tall Stories, which compiled the three EPs (two tracks shortened and two others remixed). The "proper" album Standing Up Straight, released in 1986, showed that TWP were a mature band with their own idiosyncratic direction. If anything 1987's Big Sex EP (with its outstanding cover image of insect parts) was even better. Here were four songs of great power and presence, like some sort of deadlier Talking Heads. Bird Wood Cage was the last astounding album from the group -- not their last album, but the last worth mentioning.

Two singles followed, and it is these we have up on offer today, since they are virtually unavailable. This is astounding to me, since "Kansas" (video link in our last post) shows the band at their pinnacle. As in all their best songs, one can hear funk straining at its limits, draped in buzz-saw guitar, grimy soundtracks and the apparent ravings of a street-corner preacher.

The a-side is an extended workout (produced by Flood) entitled "Assasination K./Kanserous", which starts with hillbilly banjo that turns the song inside out. The version of "Kansas" on the flip side is not the same as the album version or the Flood Mix (as used in the video) found on the compilation Everything Is Beautiful. Then we are gifted two tracks unique to this single, "Scratch" and "Twister", both wonderful. The former seems to concern itself with interior decorating, certain sly insinuations excepted.

that chair's a fake
that chair's out of place
bad choice in kitchenware
bad choice of plates

who reads these books?
and who bought these tapes?
you've got things walking around
that should be put away

get up! get up!
get up! get up!


that chair's a fake
that chair's out of date
the sofa looks like football boots
these shelves aren't straight

and that's a funny tie
that's a funny shape
this wardrobe's wearing thin
it's getting in the way

Yes, it's true; Mick can sing about absolutely anything and I will listen attentively!

The second EP, "Raintime", contains two remixes of the title tune and one of "Bottom Drawer". These are worthwhile additions to the album takes, the latter having a bass sound that absolutely slays! These tracks were issued on CD with "Assasination K./Kanserous". (On that disc "Longtime" is simply an extended version of "Raintime (Remix)" from the 12").

This CD abandoned the b-sides from the previous EP to the vinyl dustbin of history.

Until now!


A01 Assasination K./Kanserous (8:48/7:39)
B01 Kansas [version] (3:29)
B02 Scratch (3:46)
B03 Twister (3:29)
UK EP 4AD [BAD 902] 30 January 1989
US EP Rough Trade [ROUGH US062] 1989

C01 Raintime (Remix) (4:06)
D01 Bottom Drawer (Remix) (5:37)
D02 Slowtime (4:53)
UK EP 4AD [BAD 907] 02 May 1989

E01 Longtime (6:01)
   Bottom Drawer (Remix) (5:37)
   Assasination K./Kanserous (7:39)
   Slowtime (4:53)
UK CD 4AD [BAD 907 CD] 02 May 1989

Produced by Flood and The Wolfgang Press.
A01 and B01 engineered by Hugo Nicolson.
B02 and B03 engineered by Lincoln Fong and Nigel K. Hine.
C01, D01, D02 engineered by Hugo Nicolson and Lincoln Fong.
A01 and B01 backing vocals by Ruby James.
A01 banjo by Martin Pleass.

We've included all the tracks from the two vinyl 12" singles, plus the extended version off the CD. If anyone has the longer version of "Assasination K./Kanserous", please contact us!

Note: These are exclusive vinyl rips... and it's amazing how good these discs sound! If more CDs were mastered this way, we'd be in sonic heaven. No post-processing or noise reduction has been applied, so as not to mess with the frequencies. Only the usual amplitude normalisation and trimming, plus a little tweak here and there.

Now get out there and buy The Legendary Wolfgang Press And Other Tall Stories, Standing Up Straight and Bird Wood Cage (which includes Big Sex). Impress your friends! Scare your friends!

-- Second Chameleon

06 April 2009

The Wolfgang Press Have Something To Show You

Outside there is a beautiful lake draped in fog, flocks of birds wheeling overhead. Inside the singer makes drunken bird impressions. Outside a white horse runs free, but inside the band ride it backwards, slapping its ass. Mick's got a headache because someone is pounding his skull in slow motion; he's dizzy because someone is spinning his chair. Why won't they stop? The water drips over the light socket; something's gonna blow! The alcohol is poured over the singer's head; something's gotta give!

Ever been drunk on tequila? The Wolfgang Press have, and decided to make "Cut The Tree" to show you what it's like.

In this video the band have apparently confused two states: Kansas and Texas. But oh well, they're English. For no reason the guitarist will run around a barn. For no reason there is a toilet in the field. For no reason the singer holds a pig. For no reason... aw, heck, it's The Wolfgang Press. For no reason it will all work beautifully.

From 1983 to 1991 these oddballs explored a dark internalised funk that revelled in texture and drone. The Burden Of Mules, The Legendary Wolfgang Press And Other Tall Stories, Standing Up Straight, Bird Wood Cage and even Queer have much to offer the adventurous listener.

Who gave that man a hammer? Big mistake!

Really they should have stopped long before it came to the following, but thankfully they only released one crap album. Mark Cox doesn't want to mime and Andrew Gray would rather take off his clothes. These girls are in big trouble; they just don't know it yet.

One could argue that TWP mellowed only to get a subversive message into America. Maybe it worked, but there's still no good reason to listen to the music on Funky Little Demons more than once. Still, the thought that someone might see this video and go on to hear tracks like "Prostitute" is cause for some small celebration.

Watch these before they are taken down.

-- Second Chameleon

01 April 2009

"Lawnchairs" by Our Daughters Wedding

Electronic music can be divided into two epochs: before and after Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI. MIDI provided a way for drums machines, sequencers, and arpegiattors to all speak to one another, synchronizing each to a machine time code. We're used to it today, so much so that we expect each and every instrument to be in lock step with every other, and if it's not, well, a little digital editing takes care of that.

But before MIDI, there was always a struggle between the human players and the machines, a tension that, at its best, could yield a dynamic interplay between muscles and electrical circuits, the one obeying its own inflexible logic while the other did its best to get in step. It's this interplay that I like best about the Post Punk and New Romantic bands that incorporated synthesizers and drum machines into an otherwise traditional rock format. Such instruments offered not simply a veneer of the modern, the swell of a Moog, or the distinctive crack of Roland 303 snare. They introduced a kind of subliminal struggle, the drama of the human in an increasingly mechanical world.

It's an interplay that is fully evident in this, the first and rarely heard version of Our Daughters Wedding's hit single, "Lawnchairs." Formed in New York in 1977, ODW were a trio consisting of Layne Rico (synthesizers), Keith Silva (vocals and keyboards), and Scott Simon (bass synth and saxophone). The group took their name from a cardboard section divider they found in a display box of greeting cards. Their first release was a three-track 7" ep on their own Design label in the summer of 1980. But it was their second release, in November of the same year, that gave them a place in Synthpop history. "Lawnchairs" became the first independent single to break the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, and, when it was re-recorded and re-released on the EMI label, went on to sell over a million copies worldwide. ODW toured with other bands of the day including U2, Duran Duran, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and The Psychedelic Furs, making them one of the few American acts that could hold their own with the Anglo imports that dominated the airwaves at the time.

This version of "Lawnchairs" is much rawer, and more primitive sounding than the one most are familiar with, but it is also much more striking, with the drums laying down a remorseless metronomic beat, locked in time with the bass synth and melody parts--all played by hand. Over this steady but still human pulse, Silva sings of a world overrun by the most mundane of leisure goods, a world that is as much a figment of his own imagination as a tangible thing in its own right. Like Men Without Hats or even the early Human League, the effect teeters precariously on the absurd, but the beat never relinquishes its hold, giving the song an undeniable if still strange charm. "Lawnchairs / They're everywhere / My mind describes them to me." What could be more romantic?

-- Crash The Driver


Our Daughters Wedding - "Lawnchairs"

01 Lawnchairs
02 Airline

US 7" Design [ODW913LR (Side A) / ODW912KS (Side B)] 1980