29 January 2014

THE FALL : I Am, Romeo Romantic (The Steal Record Co., 1981) (Cassette recording)

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Continuing The Fall theme, here's a Grotesque-era curiosity of dubious provenance, generously donated by the tirelessly prolific - & heroically unrepentant! - Johnny Zhivago of Die Or DIY infamy. Merci, monsieur...

I Am, Romeo Romantic purports to be a semi-legit promotional release, but it's scrappy ad-hoc construction suggests otherwise. Reputedly "produced" by longtime Fall consort Grant Showbiz, it's actually a (rather good) soundboard recording, slightly resequenced & with riotous looped applause of no-fixed-origin posthumously beamed in by the mysterious "Nick S." - very odd! Recourse to The Fall's on-line gigography suggests that most of the typewritten info is equally misleading: the performance actually dates from 11th May 1980 & took place at London's Rainbow Theatre. Finally, disregard the puzzling track titles, the set-list is as follows: New Face in Hell, English Scheme, Rebellious Jukebox, A Figure Walks, City Hobgoblins, Rowche Rumble, New Puritan, & Fiery Jack.

"Lost in our vaults until now", claim The Steal Record Co.'s disingenuous sleeve-notes. The plot thickens-uh.

13 January 2014

THE FALL : C.R.E.E.P. Show (Schlick Yarbles Revisited, 1985) (Vinyl bootleg)

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If you've ever wondered where the monstrously strung-out live version of "Neighbourhood of Infinity" that graced The Fall's Palace Of Swords Reversed compilation originated - "It was the time of giant MOTHS", etc - well, now you know. C.R.E.E.P. Show is a vinyl bootleg of dubious origin that I'd occasionally spy while thumbing though the racks of a better class of record shop back in the mid-to-late '80s. Sadly, I never owned it myself as copies never hung 'round for very long &, frankly, they were always far too expensive.

C.R.E.E.P. Show was taped at Munich's Alabamahalle on Wednesday 4th April 1984, 6 months prior to the release of The Wonderful & Frightening World Of... (still one of my all-time favourite Fall albums), with Brix on board, & a surfeit of exceptional new songs to show off. A brief synopsis: the classic "double Hanley" are line-up are on rattling fine form, Grant Showbiz invokes poltergeistian clouds of lysergic reverb via the mixing desk, & sound quality is superb as the L.P. is sourced from a public service Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcast.

Despite the reels (presumably) still sitting on a shelf in a West German radio archive somewhere, & taking into account the superabundance of sub-par semi-pirated live Fall albums that have surfaced since the '90s, C.R.E.E.P. Show has never been licensed for an official release. Worse yet, allegedly only 200 copies of the original L.P. were ever pressed. There's no accounting for taste, eh?

You don't last long on a diet of tea & toast

29 December 2013

THE FLYING LIZARDS : Money (1979) (Dutch T.V. performance)

Until it's re-appearance on Youtube earlier this year, this marvelous Dutch television performance by The Flying Lizards hadn't been seen for a startling 34 years. Originally broadcast by TopPop in November 1979, the ensemble's ever-shifting line-up was, on this occasion, Deborah Evans-Strickland (vocals), David Cunningham (drums, etc), & Steve Beresford (piano, etc). Watching it now, the budgetary differences between TopPop & our own, somewhat dilapidated Top Of The Pops are immediately apparent: shot on film, amongst attractive sets, before a seated audience, & devoid of narcissistic medallion-bedecked hosts, it makes the Beeb's Smashie & Nicey show look like a crude provincial outside broadcast by comparison.

25 December 2013

NEU! : '72 Live In Düsseldorf (Captain Trip, 1996)

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Back in the early '90s, following the publication of Julian Cope's trailblazing (& since withdrawn) Krautrocksampler overview, impossibly rare progressive rock albums of German origin began turning up in discerning record shops around the U.K. (& throughout the rest of Europe, presumably), & at just-about-affordable prices. Manufactured by the previously unknown Germanofon label, each reissued L.P. was a near-flawless replica of it's original '70s counterpart - with elaborate gatefold sleeves, enormous foldout poster inserts, & record company labels all intact. Sound quality was generally very good too, though on closer inspection it appeared that most titles had been mastered from slightly crackly vintage vinyl as opposed to the actual master tapes. Unfortunately, it quickly transpired that Germanofon was actually a very prolific & well-organised bootleg label, allegedly operating out of Luxembourg, who had somehow managed to pass off their illicit wares onto mainstream distributors with remarkable success - "no questions asked" vs. supply & demand, the same old story, I expect?

Kraftwerk's initial trio of still unavailable long-players aside, it was Neu!'s back catalogue that was most eagerly welcomed. Out-of-print since the late 1970s, due partially to a protracted loss of contact between founder duo Klaus Dinger & Michael Rother, the widespread availability of the Germanafon editions meant that many thousands of potential sales were forfeited before an official reissue programme could be launched. To make matters worse, Dinger - "in an act of despair" according to Rother - authorised the release of the below-par Neu! 4 (in actuality a rather mediocre session of October '85 vintage) & Neu! '72 Live In Düsseldorf via renown Japanese psychedelic label, Captain Trip. Rother, understandably upset at his consent not being sought, effectively delayed the official C.D. reissue of the original Neu! trilogy for a further half-decade - though when they did eventually appear, c/o Grönland / Astralwerks in 2001, I'm sure I'm not the only Neu! fan who bought the lot all over again. One condition of the licensing agreement was that both Neu! 4 & '72 Live be deleted forthwith &, though the former has since been remixed (arguably to it's detriment) by Rother following Dinger's death, the latter has remained tantilisingly out of reach.

Truthfully, '72 Live wasn't actually a live album at all. It was, instead, a mid-fi recording of an hour or so's worth of rehearsals for a handful of imminent European live dates, or as Dinger's sleeve note clarified: "From the K.D. historic tapes collection this is Neu! '72 Live! in Düsseldorf 6 May at  congregation hall of St. Maria Unter dem Kreuz (tanx) in Düsseldorf - Unterrath. As non-public test / self-audition for a series of 6/7 concerts later in '72". Heavily edited extracts from all 3 tracks were remastered & remixed by Rother for inclusion in Grönland's limited edition deluxe vinyl box-set in 2005. Though the sound thereon was a noticeable improvement on the Dictaphone-quality Captain Trip disc, the loss of so much fascinating incidental material - brutal tape splices, band discussions & disagreements, the shakily improvised performances falling apart & back together again, etc - meant that the unadulterated Dinger-advocated bootleg has since attained significant historical importance.

13 December 2013

ORANGE JUICE : Live at Glasgow College of Technology - 17th April 1980 (Cassette recording)

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I found this spiritedly shambolic live recording tucked away on an obscure Soundcloud account a few days ago - as far as I'm aware it's the earliest known documentation of an Orange Juice performance, dating from April 1980 (& thereby placing it between their trailblazing "Blueboy" & "Simply Thrilled Honey" singles). I've no idea who recorded it, who uploaded it, whether it contains the entire show or not, or whether an official release is being penciled in, so I suggest you grab it & enjoy it while it's still available.

Incidentally, Edwyn Collins' AED label are currently giving away a limited edition cassette of a 1981 show with all purchases placed c/o their website until the end of December, meaning that now's as good a time as any to pick up a copy of his current Understated l.p. if you don't already have one.

n.b. Vintage Postcard Records promotional poster designed by the prodigiously talented Robbie Kelly. You can find lots more choice ephemera of this nature at the excellent Sound of Young Scotland blog (credit where credit's due, etc).

Sorry to moan but it's what I do best