Side by side: René Halkett and David Jay – ‘Nothing’ / ‘Armour’ 7″ (1981) and 20th Anniversary re-issue CD (2001)

April 28th, 2021

1982 into 1983 was when I first really got the Bauhaus bug. Summer of 1983 into Autumn of that year in particular it reached fever-pitch, with having been able to see Bauhaus live and with the release of the band’s final album and various solo project releases from Tones On Tail and David J. This would continue for some time as I delved back into the band’s previous releases and other solo project releases.

Amongst them was the release in focus here. It sounded intriguing, from what little I knew about it. René Halkett, original member of The Bauhaus (or Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar’ to be more formal) makes contact with bass player of Bauhaus and a friendship emerges that leads to a collaborative single. Bauhaus were regular pilloried in the music press for their assumed pretentiousness and… oh my…this surely came with a capital P in their eyes!

Rene Halkett and David Jay - 'Nothing' / 'Armour' 7" front cover

^ René Halkett and David Jay – ‘Nothing’ / ‘Armour’ 7″ front cover


Original 7″, 1981

Nothing (2:22)
Armour (2:50)

My copy came from writing off to 4AD records. Good old fashioned pen, paper, envelopes and stamps post… asking if they still had any copies left? They did indeed, and swifty a Postal Order to the amount for this single and the ‘Natures Mortes’ Japanese 4AD compilation LP (they still had some of those too) was sent off. Incredible now to think of that, in the era of the ultra limited pressing, sold out near instantly, where keeping a stock of back catalogue is almost seen as a crime.

Back to the record. The single comes in a picture cover and with an lyric/info insert, which gave a bit more background to the recordings and individuals. The words were Halkett’s (as was the drawing that graces the front cover) and were recorded on a portable cassette recorder on his cottage in Camelford, Cornwall on the 28th of July 1980, on the occasion of the Bauhaus bass player’s (first?) visit. David Jay (as he was still named then) recorded the music at Beck Studio in Wellingborough, a familiar Bauhaus and related haunt, on the 18th of April 1981. ‘Nothing’ is slower, quieter, more minimal piece of the pair. Its main instrumentation is a familiar David J octaving bass guitar line and a keyboard melody, punctuated by harsh Synare or the like electronic percussions strikes. The keyboard line is interesting in that it was produced by a Casio musical pocket calculator. (This actually predates the release, though not recording of, Kraftwerk’s ‘Pocket Calculator’ – though not by much…) And of course it is all topped with René Halkett’s poetry readings, wonderfully surrealistic in its imagery and intonation.

Rene Halkett and David Jay - 'Nothing' / 'Armour' 7" rear cover

^ René Halkett and David Jay – ‘Nothing’ / ‘Armour’ 7″ rear cover

‘Armour’ is by contrast up-tempo – propelled by primitive rhythm box, again Jay’s bass guitar present and correct but this time reinforced with paired piano lines – also in the mix some Wasp synthesizer atmospherics and occasional guitar chops. The fit of Halkett’s reading into the music works especially well on this track, Jay made a good job of contrasting its various highs and lows with the musical variations. And, comparing it to the original sans-music spoken word only reading of Halkett from the later anniversary CD edition, hats off to Jay for fashioning such a musical accompaniment without recourse to latter day sampling and splicing edits.

Both songs have cropped up from time to time on various compilation albums and both together were most recently to be found on CD format as extra tracks on the 2013 Cherry Red CD re-issue of David J’s ‘Etiquette of Violence’ album.

While no longer available on vinyl, the release remains documented at least on the current 4AD website, noting its original release date as 10th August 1981.

Rene Halkett and David Jay - 'Nothing' / 'Armour' 7" label side 1

^ René Halkett and David Jay – ‘Nothing’ / ‘Armour’ 7″ label side 1

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The Human League – ‘Travelogue’ Canadian LP (Virgin/Polygram VL 2202, 1980)

April 21st, 2021

The Human League’s fine second album, presented here in the altered version released in Canada alone that saw a different sleeve design and altered tracklisting. All in all, added up to an appealling import temptation from the racks of HMV. Whether it was to the band’s liking, I don’t know – can’t be  very satisfying to spend all that time and effort sequencing a running order and sleeve design only to have a record label change it – even retitling one of the tracks!

The Human League - 'Travelogue' Canadian LP front cover

^ The Human League – ‘Travelogue’ Canadian LP front cover

First off, the altered sleeve design… ditching the more familiar design used for the front in most other territories, this version chose to re-use the cover photo used for the ‘Holiday ’80’ EP, tweaking the title graphics to keep the regular ‘Travelogue’ titling. Meanwhile, the back cover kept the layout, though with an alterations to the colourway to tone in with the front cover, I presume, with block blue background instead of a golden yellow. Read the rest of this entry »

Button badge goodness – Echo and the Bunnymen Summer 1983 UK tour badges

April 14th, 2021

The one and only time I have seen Echo and the Bunnymen play live was on one of the the Scottish dates of their short ‘Ley Lines’ tour of Summer 1983. The band were in fine form at this time, and for me 1983 was a great year of exciting gig going, this gig one of a few memorable occasions that summer. Naturally, mementoes were required so these badges and a t-shirt were purchased from the merch stall. The print quality of the button badges is not the sharpest – it’s not the photos – the enamel badge is a beauty though and it’s still in decent nick despite having seen active service on my safari (the Jobson influence, natch) / combat jacket lapels a fair bit!

Button badge goodness - Echo and the Bunnymen Summer 1983 UK tour badges

^ Button badge goodness – Echo and the Bunnymen Summer 1983 UK tour badges

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A.C.Marias – ‘One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)’ Japanese CD (Mute ALCB-5, 1989)

April 7th, 2021

It was still in the era of vinyl-only for me when I first bought this album – it would not be until Wire’s ‘Manscape’ album the following year that the lure of CD would prove too much, since a good chunk of that album was missing from the vinyl copy. ‘One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)’ was the one and only album release by A.C. Marias and the Wire connection comes via Bruce Gilbert primarily, though it stretched back to 1980 and the ‘Dome’ album by Gilbert and Lewis (with vocals on the cool and strange ‘Cruel When Complete’) then 1981 and first actual A.C. Marias named release on the Gilbert/Lewis ‘Dome’ label, with single ‘Drop’/‘So’.

I’m focusing here on the Japanese CD release which I came across many years later when I realised it benefitted for extra tracks that the UK CD did not include.

A.C.Marias - 'One Of Our Girls' Japanese CD - front cover design

^ A.C.Marias – ‘One Of Our Girls’ Japanese CD – front cover design

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Side by side: Wire – ‘Our Swimmer’ and ‘Second Length’ versions, versions

March 28th, 2021

 


Our Swimmer

‘Our Swimmer’ dates from a late 1979 recording session* at Magritte Studios which also witnessed the recording of ‘Go Ahead’ (which would be released on the B side of the ‘Map Ref. 41N 93W’ 7″ single) and ‘Midnight Bahnhoff Cafe’ (which would be released on the B side of the ‘Our Swimmer’ 7″ single). It was after the recording sessions that produced the ‘154’ album and the first time without the involvement of long-term producer, Mike Thorne – self-produced by the band. It was proposed as a single release while the band were still signed to EMI records, but rejected by the company.

* The 2014 re-issue of ‘Document and Eyewitness’ states ‘recorded at Magritte Studio, Harmondsworth Dec 1979’ – but I question that date if indeed it was the same session that also produced ‘Go Ahead’, since it was already released long before December. The ‘Nine Sevens’ singles box set also gets it wrong by stating 1980 as the recording year.

Wire - 'Our Swimmer' and 'Second Length' singles

^ Wire – ‘Our Swimmer’ and ‘Second Length’ singles

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