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

This album is a good bit different from that first single – somewhat more technology driven by this stage. As well as Angela Conway herself, credits are minimal – near non-existent in truth, and seem to miss off some that had already been detailed on the singles – but they namecheck Mute/Blackwing Studios stalwarts Gareth Jones, Paul Kendall and John Fryer, as well as Wire’s Bruce Gilbert, while writing credits are mostly Conway and Gilbert, other than the two cover versions and a co-write with Jones on ‘To Sleep’.

A couple of singles preceded this 1989 album. ‘Just Talk’ from 1986 was a minimal, guitar-scaffolded slice of slow-unfolding hypnotic beauty with a hint of quiet menace growing in parallel. 1988’s cover of Canned Heat’s ‘Time Was’ (which also credit Barry Adamson and Rowland S Howard on the sleeve) was not included on the vinyl album, but does appear on all CD versions. ‘Just Talk’ benefits from two memorable visual documents – the promo video itself (YouTube link) lo-fi unusually pub-based choreography and all – and a later ‘live’ recorded performance on the Tony Wilson hosted ‘Other Side of Midnight’ (YouTube link) in 1988, just Gilbert on hypnotic acoustic guitar and Conway singing.

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

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

The album, when it arrived, was a good deal more synth and drum machine based than those singles had given an impression of. Those soft, mysterious words and vocals still present and correct though. Tracks such as ‘There’s A Scent Of Rain In The Air’, ‘Give Me’, ‘Looks Like’ and ‘To Sleep’ conjure up a dreamier feel – a dream where you’d want to keep one eye open though, cat-like, due to an air that is difficult to put a finger on – ominous, perhaps? Those ‘barely there’ vocals that could as easily flip into something else altogether on a hair-trigger. More identifiably Gilbert guitar stylings to the music are to be found elsewhere, not least on the high-water mark of the driving, relentless title track – stunning stuff – it would be edited down and released as a single in early 1990 (once again with a highly memorable promo video (YouTube link)) and would mark the last release as A.C. Marias.

A.C.Marias - 'One Of Our Girls' Japanese CD - disc label design

^ A.C.Marias – ‘One Of Our Girls’ Japanese CD – disc label design

The bonus tracks found here are welcome and round up the B sides from the album’s three singles, taking in ‘Just Talk’ (Version), which on the single release is titled ‘Just Talk (No Talk)’ to denote its instrumental nature; ‘Something’ is the same track as ‘Some Time’ on the album but in a notably different version; and Lou Reed cover version, ‘Vicious’, would appear on the ‘One Of Our Girls’ single release – no credit here for the musicians, Mute Drivers, though.

A.C.Marias - 'One Of Our Girls' Japanese CD - rear case design

^ A.C.Marias – ‘One Of Our Girls’ Japanese CD – rear case design

Missing from this CD are the single edit of the title track and the 7” edit of ‘Just Talk’. Were it to have included those, it would have collected together all of the Mute-era releases. Probably stretching it a bit far to also include ‘Drop’ and ‘So’ though, but for completeness that would certainly dot the i’s and cross the t’s… It is possible to find ‘Drop’ on the curated compilation album ‘Fame (Jon Savage’s Secret History Of Post-Punk 78-81)’, though do note that it is a needle-drop – the LP commands hefty prices now, but it is available digitally via Qobuz and iTunes, for example. Read the rest of this entry »

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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A Tourist’s Guide to ‘Life In Tokyo’ – Part 4

March 21st, 2021

So, now that the long anticipated super deluxe re-issue of ‘Quiet Life’ and its accompanying supplementary extra ‘Life In Tokyo’ CD EP, has finally been released, time for a final instalment in this series and take stock of what’s new and what’s what.

Japan 'Life In Tokyo' CD EP 2021 front cover

^ Japan ‘Life In Tokyo’ CD EP 2021 front cover

Even more version craziness!

In a maddening example of baffling record company thinking, putting together a whole CD EP that was (seemingly) intended to gather up all official mixes of ‘Life In Tokyo’ into one place manages to come undone from the off by the inclusion only on the ‘A Quieter Life’ CD of the super deluxe box set edition of a newly unearthed version – and leave it off of the CD EP! Read the rest of this entry »

Button badge goodness: Ultravox [Part 3]

March 14th, 2021

A further selection of Ultravox badges – this time from 2009’s ‘Return To Eden’ tour merchandise offer. I was able to make a couple of shows on this tour and one from the following year’s ‘Return To Eden II’ tour and across these there was no shortage of goodies on offer from the merch stall to choose from. This time out a selection of the badges and a key ring… I’m not ruling out the mugs and programmes in future posts! Some of these look a bit fizzy – its not the photos, the print quality on the actual badges just isn’t all that sharp to begin with.

Ultravox 2009 'Return To Eden' key ring merchandise item

^ Ultravox 2009 ‘Return To Eden’ key ring merchandise item

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Gang Of Four – ‘What We All Want’ UK 7″ and 12″ (EMI, EMI 5416 and 12EMI 5416, 1981)

March 7th, 2021

The road to the Gang Of Four’s second album, ‘Solid Gold’, was something of a tentative, stop-start affair, looking back. Although the album itself in its final form was recorded in January 1981 with Jimmy Douglass sharing the producer role along with the band themselves, no fewer than five of its tracks had been released before the album on singles or compilation album appearances*.

‘What We All Want’ would be the track lifted from the album as a single immediately prior to the album’s eventual release however, ramping up the funk side of the band’s muscular rhythm section in particular into a hard-hitting battering ram of a single that stands up well forty years on from its original release.

7″ single

For the single’s A side, ‘What We All Want’ was edited down to 3’23” – losing its scratchy vibrato style opening guitar-only rhythm that the LP/12″ version features), so it jumps right on in.

Gang Of Four – 'What We All Want' UK 7″ front cover

^ Gang Of Four – ‘What We All Want’ UK 7″ front cover

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