Dif Juz – ‘Who Says So?’ UK Mini-Album (Red Flame, RFM 24, 1983)

Dif Juz are one of these acts who I have a few works by, but never really got to know too much about. Being on 4AD and hailing from the early ‘80s, they pretty much had my name written on it in their appeal, but for whatever reason they never quite got the recognition they were deserving of and that lack of profile tended to hamper my following of their work. I saw them live once, in support of the Cocteau Twins, late 1984 and they were quite something on the night. Although aware of their two earlier 4AD EP releases, the one that is the subject of this post had passed me by, so despite being a 1983 release, it was the start of 1985 before I came across it.

Dif Juz - 'Who Says So?' mini-album front cover design
^ Dif Juz – ‘Who Says So?’ mini-album front cover design

Without boring you too much with the details, circumstances were such that I thought I had lost this copy of the album for many years, only to become re-united with it earlier this year, some 12 years or so since I last heard it – the following notes are my impressions having re-listened after this gap…

An eight track mini-album, it has the distinctive identifying sound of their other works, but I find this one playful in parts. Side one gets off to a fairly muscular yet precise start in ‘Roy’s Tray’ – listening to it again, I was struck by similarities in sound with some A Certain Ratio, which had completely passed my by at the time – perhaps the chorused bass propelling the piece and deft percussion and sax weaving around, along with the customary echo-rich guitar work. Whatever, it’s a strong start off. ‘So Shy’ is a more humorous piece – it’s light on drums, if it had them. I was struck by how much the guitars reminded me of the classic ‘Shaking All Over’ – and as for the vocals (well, voice) – the cor, blimey nature make it sound like someone complaining of some malodorous rehearsal room/confined space emissions! Third track in, ‘Song With No Name’ is back on more recognisable Dif Juz territory, though the playfulness remains with the guitar referencing Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ midway through proceedings. Side one ends with ‘Tabla Piece’ – largely tabla, percussion and flute to start off, it sounds like a fairly minimal piece, before it comes to life with a fairly hefty piece of bass guitar – a false ending to boot, it comes back to life for a while, though it’s certainly one of the more minimal pieces on offer.

Dif Juz - 'Who Says So?' mini-album back cover design
^ Dif Juz – ‘Who Says So?’ mini-album back cover design

Side two revisits ‘Song With No Name’ in the forms of ‘SWNN Part 2’ a minimal piece, not long over a minute in length – reacquainting with the bass heavy propulsion awhile before turning the tape back to front midway through. ‘Pass It On Charlie’ gets proceedings off to a start with some beautifully intricate guitar and bass work over some kind of percussion-heavy waltz time workout, with saxophone taking the lead. The last two tracks are both hewn from similar materials, heavily leaning on the dub reggae influence. Looking backwards, ‘Channel’ could mostly easily be compared to PiL’s ‘Poptones’ in it’s bass-led wanderings, but that would be rather mean – it’s opening guitar arpeggios are all it’s own – midway through the drums visit a similar sonic dub territory that that something like The Orb’s ‘Slug Dub’ from 1995’s ‘Orbus Terrarum’ would set the controls to the heart of many years later, to greater fanfare…

Dif Juz - 'Who Says So?' mini-album label design side A
^ Dif Juz – ‘Who Says So?’ mini-album label design side A

Sadly, this remains an album that has never seen a digital release, though copies do come up often enough on eBay and the like. This pressing is wonderful quality though, one of the best pieces of vinyl I have, I’d say, so I’m not too fussed about its lack of CD release, it’s a pleasure to listen to this disc.

Dif Juz - 'Who Says So?' mini-album label design side B
^ Dif Juz – ‘Who Says So?’ mini-album label design side B

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