mercoledì 30 dicembre 2009

The headhunters & the angels

Like most followers of the band, the first Comsat's track I heard was Independence Day. The song hit me immediately - I loved the tension in the arrangement - and I've always been a sucker for harmonics in a song. The bands first album Waiting For A Miracle was a critical, if not commercial, success. It would always be like this. Instead of dancing on the city streets, the great British public stayed at home. Their loss, I guess. 1981 heralded the release of the second Comsat Angels album, Sleep No More - a much darker release. The band toured with Siouxsie & The Banshees and, at the end of the year, they took part in a co-headlining tour with U2. Much has been said about Steve Fellows guitar style influencing U2's The Edge - one is now a multi-millionaire and one isn't. Ain't that always the way. Later came other albums, sometimes great ones, sometimes mediocre.But I will always have a place in my heart for them. A lot of bands stick to what they perceive to be their winning formula - and if they do move on, they often take two steps back and attempt to recapture what made them tick in the first place. The Comsat Angels remained true to their spirit to the bitter end. Enjoy some of their rarest demos and taste once again the essence of the post punk.

lunedì 28 dicembre 2009

A baby with a rope

Baciamibartali cames into existence in june 1981 with Tarcisio Lancioni (voice), Francesco Guidobaldi (bass), Ido Borsini (guitar) and Carlo Iura (drums). In April 1982 they recorded their first LP (Baciamibartali / Winter Light) for their own label Sequence Records. Robert Clark replaced Ido on guitar and produced the record. In 1984 with Stefano Mengascini on keyboards they recorded a three songs 12" EP for Contempo Records (The Mournful Gloom). In 1992 Carlo and Francesco Pirro, with the help of Robert Clark on guitar and production, realized a 12 songs CD (Grey Sunset) for PH Records (NOT) distribuited by Contempo International. In 1993 the mexican label Opcion Sonica included a Grey Sunset song (Mother Rust) in the compilation Contemporock93. In the beginning of 1995 the band was dissolved. On Christmas 1997 Carlo put together outtakes, demos and live material for the very last Baciamibartali record (Postuma). Please listen those old vinyl versions plus some demos and go fast as you can in your favourite cd point and get the unmissable remastered versions of Baciamibartali’s “The Mournful Gloom” 12” vinyl and the “Baciamibartali / Winter Light” split 12” vinyl originally released between 1982 and 1984.

domenica 27 dicembre 2009

They walked into the wind

Every decade seems to have a written and imagined sense of itself: the BBC’s recent Your ’80s survey corralled people’s memories of the decade, the quotes said it all. Like this one: “The ’80s was full of colour and everything was big, the music was more ‘electric’ sounding – every band based their sound on numerous keyboards and all the boy bands had floppy fringes. Men carried huge fat diaries which resembled a handbag. There was Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Human League, Wham!, Frankie, Stock, Aitken and Waterman... big hair, puffball skirts, shoulder pads, Dallas, Dynasty, The A-Team and the Falklands. Around 1985 the country seemed to turn a corner almost overnight; twentysomethings in Porsches wearing flash suits; money everywhere…”
But there was none of that for The Loft, or any other band lurking in the shadows of the zeitgeist; of Thatcher, the City, the mobiles like bricks, etc. The party was taking place on the other side of town, not in Lewisham but in the City, the mythical Square Mile, where we would read and hear about characters like those that would eventually people. Look at the picture of these guys as they peer out of their cold kitchen with the hollow eyes and longing that always belong to the marginalised, the outsiders. The bar fires, the cracked glass windows, the skip furniture, amps and guitars, records piled against the walls are all there in one of the many drafty rooms out of shot. These people are underneath the times; building a myth of their present, one that went largely unnoticed by the decade that spawned them. In the words my demi-god Janice Long, ... it was 1984 and I had moved to London to do my own show on Radio One and it had its perks. I had been used to searching out music via word of mouth and music press and gigs but all of a sudden records were being sent to me. There was a lot of crap but worth going through for the gem, the one I couldn't wait to get in to the studio and play. "Why Does The Rain" is one of the best tracks I have ever checked out and still include it in my top ten tracks of all time. God,I must have driven everyone mad. I played it to death on the radio and inmy flat. I was asked to pick my 'bands who are going to be big' for the BBC's Oxford Road Show, 80s TV show with scaffolding and dodgy presenters. I chose The Loft and we spent an afternoon on Primrose Hill filming "Up The Hill And Down The Slope". Yes... up Primrose Hill and down the Primrose Slope. And then the bastards split up... This was the brief & essential story of one of the best bands coming out from the eighties.

sabato 26 dicembre 2009


This a kind of xmas gift, a rare old boot by the wonderful Alessandria's boys Viridanse. They played a lot in 1984 and maybe that was their best year. Giovanni Pastrone and the band recorded only two albums, both great and forgotten, "Benvenuto Cellini" (1984) & "Mediterranea" (1985) on Contempo Records. Their style is well described in the fundamental & now apparently dead "Il golpe e l'uva" blog: ...their guitar-based darkwave style owes much to Joy Division, though it turns down the band's trademark funeral feeling into a more voluptuous sound delving on Meditterranean influences and melodic arabesques. The singer's emphatic vocals, very typical of Italian darkwave, and the wannabe cerebral lyrics may sound quite disturbing, but the mood of the album is original and peculiar, slightly resembling to a Mediterranean version of Japan's "Tin Drum". Apart from the forced comparisons, Viridanse's convoluted basslines were much probably influenced by Mick Karn's legendary style. Most tracks are dominated by the fine and sharp-sounding intrications of the two guitars and all of them are pervaded by a hedonistic, decadent mood which is, as a matter of fact, the album's most accomplished element...Anyway, it seems to me that they sounded more poppier in the studio recordings than alive on stage. So I've decided to let you hear these tracks from an old show in their hometown... welcome back again Viridanse!

venerdì 18 dicembre 2009

Monuments of Turin

Another great Torino band, born from the ashes of a now legendary new wave movement that started with Teknospray in the late seventies. ... MONUMENTS came into being in January 1981 when Mauro Tavella and Andrea Costa pooled their artistic experiences. From the outset they produced exclusively synthesised music, following the natural evolution in electronic music from that created in the early days using monophonic synthesisers to the latest virtual sounds generated with the aid of computers. Up until 1986, they took their music halfway round Europe, performing on stage in France, Germany, Spain and, of course, Italy, while continuing their studio work. From 1987 onwards, they focused exclusively on music for the theatre, radio and independent cinema, writing music for the opening sequences of TV programmes for some of the most important Italian TV companies as well as sound tracks for documentaries. After a creative break in which both members went off to work on their own projects, Costa and Tavella returned to the Monuments project in 2007, changing their name to “Monuments II” (a homage to Amon Dull)... but that's another story and I still prefer listening to their great 1984 album "Age"...

giovedì 17 dicembre 2009

The cinema show

In the fall of 1979, ex 'Berlin' members Simon Brighton (guitar) and Terry Welbourn (bass) got together with 'Stress' musicians, Colin Hopkirk (vocals) and Nick Green (drummer), to form the first of many Sinking Ships incarnations.In 1980, this line-up went onto record two tracks, "Third World" & "Weight Loss", for a local New Wave compilation, 'Household Shocks'. Released: Summer 1980. Label: STARK LPCO1. Soon after this release, vocalist Colin Hopkirk departed the band and Terry Welbourn took up the lead vox along with his bass duties.The now 3 piece band were building a solid reputation live with gigs supporting The Psychedelic Furs, the Modettes, Spizz Energi and other big name indies.In the Spring of 1980, the band went back into the studio to record a 7" Double 'A' side, vinyl single released as a Stark Products/Dead Good Records joint effort (November 1980. DEAD 14 / STARK 2). The two tracks recorded were 'The Cinema Clock' & 'Strangers' (published by Dead Good Tunes / Street Corner Music Ltd). Critics were quick to talk up the band including plays on John Peel's Radio 1 show and many favourable reviews;John Gill from the New Musical Express wrote in the November 29th 1980 issue:"You can laugh all you like, but I swear this lot sound like early (censored). Spindly, clanking found noises give way to finger lickin'/finger clickin' bass and steamy metronomic drums. It trundles along and goes flying over the edge, retaining stable altitude just lke those classic Liebezeit/Czukay rhythm departures of yore. Smart."The Ships had written two indie classics with journos and radio stations agreeing alike.Alarmingly, the band chose to increase their numbers from 3 to five then to six, with the addition of keyboards, synths and saxophone. Confusing their growing army of fans, this then turned out to be a 'relatively bad move'. Bar the notable live performance at 'Sleaford Rock 80' plus a well received London debut at the original 'Marquee Club' in Wardour Street, the Ships were sinking in a deluge - arguably of their own making.In late 1980 they went back into the studio to record tracks for a six-track 12" set for release in January 1981 which never saw the light of day thanks to their label joining forces with 'Stevo' to form Some Bizarre records and all things Soft Cell...etc...Tired and embittered, the band shrank back down to the 3-piece lineup and tried once again to rediscover the magic with a 7" vinyl single released on the 'Recession' label, April 1981 with the tracks, 'Dream' & 'After the Rain - Live' published by Express Songs / Leeds Music Ltd.Sadly, the 80's had moved on, electronics and New Romantics were taking over the world of music - rock n roll seemed doomed. The Sinking Ships original line-up split, with some of the members moving out of Lincoln to London with just Terry Welbourn left to pick up the flotsam.During the 80's Terry continued to play live under 'The Sinking Ships' name with numerous lineups adding guitars and drums. There have been no further record releases since 'Dream'.Now in the decade of 2000, what do we see? A resurgence in interest in the original Sinking Ships, an American metal band who also go under the Sinking Ships moniker, and yet, the band members play on in numerous seperate projects. Where are they now?

venerdì 4 dicembre 2009

Self portrait

Self Control was a 'concept' more than a group, set up in 1977 by Mancunian Dermot O'Keeffe (Dok). With a fluid line-up (and for a time, a fluid name - Total Control, Lack Of Control etc), Self Control were different almost every time they played or rehearsed. They released an eponymous, and now very rare album in 1981. The audio samples from this page are from a live performance at Islington's Hope & Anchor on 19th May 1979 where the line-up was Dok on vocals and guitar and James Dutton (now of Motion Records) on guitar, drum machine and backing vocals. They are joined on one song (on guitar) by Bernie Doyle and by someone else who's name they can't remember. [Actually we think it was Russell - Ed] This was the third week of a one month residency supporting the ill-fated Local Operator who, a month later, were supported at West Hampstead's Raiway Hotel by U2 playing their first (?) gig in the UK, the next week by the Cure playing their first (?) gig in London. At these Hope & Anchor performance Self Control would begin by playing 20 minutes of taped BBC Light Orchestra music while people came in. Then the tape would be switched off and the drum machine switched on and left to play for 10 minutes. Happy days.