The Passions – ‘Sanctuary’ US CD (Rubellan Remasters, RUBY08CD, 2019)

November 28th, 2019

The wonderful ongoing series of releases from Rubellan Remasters continues in fine style  with a long hoped for first time to CD edition of the third and final album from The Passions, ‘Sanctuary’. Truth be told, I had long given up hope of this extremely fine album by the band ever seeing light of day again – so, I was well please when I heard the news it was to be released at long last. And being a Rubellan Remaster, quality is a given, from the audio remastering by Scott Davies, through to the selection of tracks the release includes.

The Passions - Sanctuary CD front cover design

^ The Passions – Sanctuary CD front cover design

The Passions are of course known primarily for their one major hit single of early 1981, ‘I’m In Love With a German Film Star’. However, their sound that was to be found on that single and subsequent releases was a world away from how it all sounded on their very first single, ‘Needles and Pills’/’Body and Soul’. It is near unrecognisable, ‘Needles and Pills’ in particular, most prominently through the vocals of one Mitch Barker and no sign at all of the wonderful, Echoplex guitar tones that would become Clive Timperley’s trademark. However, other than Mitch Barker, who would only appear on this single, the rest of the line-up is there that would go on to make the band’s debut LP, ‘Michael and Miranda’. It’s an LP where the monochrome cover matches the edgy, fidgety music within. Their unique sound was there though even if somewhat sullen in parts and sometime afterwards, the band set their sights on a fuller, more colourful palette starting with the single ‘The Swimmer’ in late 1980, before the full-on mysterious, dreamlike lush panorama that ‘I’m In Love With a German Film Star’ would present. Both of these songs would eventually appear on the full colour production that comprised their second album, ‘Thirty Thousand Feet Over China’ in late 1981.

The Passions - Sanctuary CD insert rear cover designfeaturing the alternative 'Cars Driven Fast' design.

^ The Passions – Sanctuary CD insert rear cover design featuring the alternative ‘Cars Driven Fast’ design.

Half of the tracks from ‘Sanctuary’ had been included on the compilation album ‘Passion Plays (I’m In Love With a German Film Star and Other Short Stories)’, first released on vinyl back in 1985. The equivalent CD version appeared a whole decade later, bringing at least half of the album to CD format. Who knew how long it would be for the remaining tracks to join them on the small silver disc format… As well as accurately restoring the original album, this CD is a very comprehensive gathering together of the recordings of the period courtesy of B sides and non-album single of the period (‘Africa Mine’).

The Passions - Sanctuary CD insert middle spread.

^ The Passions – Sanctuary CD insert middle spread.

A nice four part write-up of the album and its bonus tracks can be found on Post Punk Monk excellent blog, so I shall direct you there to read a thorough exploration of the album’s tracks.

The Passions - Sanctuary CD label design.

^ The Passions – Sanctuary CD label design.

At the time of its release, the record had had a different title, ‘Cars Driven Fast’, and some territories released it this way. The CD re-issue has a nice touch of replicating the (very different) front cover design of that version, so you can take your pick if you fancy slotting that version into the jewel case for a different feel.

The Passions - Sanctuary CD rear case design.

^ The Passions – Sanctuary CD rear case design.

The Passions - Sanctuary CD tray design.

^ The Passions – Sanctuary CD tray design.

No mention of The Passions can go by without also referring to the wonderful Rock Family Tree of October 1982 that I first read in Sounds magazine. I reproduce it here, albeit rough quality – dig in and read the fascinating history…

Scan of the Rock Family Tree for The Passions, creates October 1982 by Pete Frame.

^ Scan of the Rock Family Tree for The Passions, creates October 1982 by Pete Frame.

New Order – ‘Confusion’ UK Promo 7″ (Factory FAC93, 1983)

November 14th, 2019

A unique 4’08” edit of ‘Confusion’, released as a promo-only 7″ contemporary with the original release of the single, which commercially was only available on 12″, released August 1983. This 4’08” ‘re-structure’ is to be found on both sides of the single, same labels each flip too and it all comes housed in a plain black sleeve. Somewhat plain in comparison to the now somewhat iconic 12” sleeve design.

New Order - Confusion UK promo 7" single

^ New Order – Confusion UK promo 7″ single

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Joy Division – ‘Unknown Pleasures’ UK CD (Factory FACD10, 1986)

October 28th, 2019

Sometimes it is enough just to celebrate something for what it is without needing to explore any obscure variations. With this post, I focus on the first time Joy Division’s wonderful ‘Unknown Pleasures’ made an appearance on CD and where Factory attempted to overcome the tyranny of the ’80s CD jewel case and somehow tap into the spirit of the original sleeve design.

For starters, the ‘car carry case’ – a miniaturised revision of the original sleeve design. Shorn of any need to include the tracklisting on the reverse, it kept things minimal. The tracklisting was provided only on one of the jewel case inserts. Yes, in addition to the carry case, the CD jewel case comes with not one but two inserts. Both of which come printed on similar ‘textured’ card stock to that used on the original album sleeve and the car carry case this time round. I hope that the photos help to capture the textured card stock so you can see for yourself.

One odd thing about it though – at some point in the design process, it looks like the photograph from one side of the inner sleeve has gone awol from this redesign – the originally uncredited photo, ‘Hand Through a Doorway‘ by Ralph Gibson.

Joy Division 'Unknown Pleasures' original UK CD car carry case - front.

^ Joy Division ‘Unknown Pleasures’ original UK CD car carry case – front.

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Heaven 17 – ‘Penthouse and Pavement’ Canadian LP (Virgin VL 2225, 1981)

October 14th, 2019

It was initially a surprise to me when the ‘Penthouse and Pavement’ LP was released that ‘I’m Your Money’ was overlooked for inclusion, whereas ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’ was all present and correct. I was quite partial to ‘I’m Your Money’, its sequenced rhythm had a touch of the ‘Trans-Europe Express’ to it and it’s multi-lingual speech inserts also hinted at that Kraftwerk-like ambition to cross borders. But it was left off and that was that, until I came across this pressing that is…

Heaven 17 - Penthouse and Pavement - Canadian LP front cover design

^ Heaven 17 – Penthouse and Pavement – Canadian LP front cover design

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Skids – ‘Fields’ UK 7″ and 12″ (Virgin VS401 and VS401-12, 1981)

September 28th, 2019

When first released in the summer of 1981, ‘Fields’ was quite a challenging release for Skids fans to get used to and it never really gained the success the new vision that the remaining band members, Richard Jobson and Russell Webb, had in mind for the band. The departure of Stewart Adamson was obvious, his familiar sonic hallmark missing from the A side, replaced by a somewhat more twangy guitar and a more pastoral scene fashioned from acoustic guitar, flute, traditional drums and layered, choral vocals. In retrospect it is not nearly the radical departure it was made out to be, though much of the subsequent ‘Joy’ album certainly would be.

Skids - 'Fields' 7" - Richard Jobson sleeve design, front

^ Skids – ‘Fields’ 7″ variation 1 – Richard Jobson sleeve design, front

Skids - 'Fields' 7" - Richard Jobson sleeve design, rear

^ Skids – ‘Fields’ 7″ variation 1, rear

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