John Foxx compilations across the years Part 6

Three years on from the previous compilation release, ‘Metatronic’, 2013’s ‘Metadelic’ was very much a companion piece that chose to focus on the ‘warmer’ periods of John’s solo material, seemingly psychedelic infused as opposed to the more influential, cold and dystopian works his solo work started off with (and would revisit later), and managed to include some previously unreleased exclusives, as well as bring some video materials back into circulation. Or as Foxx describes it in the sleevenotes; The cyber-punk they called John Foxx’ has dissolved a little and defrosted. He has become healthy and splendored, drifting free.

John Foxx 'Metadelic' CD front case design
^ John Foxx ‘Metadelic’ CD front case design

During that three year period between these two compilations there had been the rapid-fire releases of John Foxx and The Maths material and accompanying live work that had very much kept the energy going. ‘Metadelic’ landed bang in the middle of a busy period of live work, with John Foxx and The Maths having already undertaken a tour supporting Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark during April and May 2013 (for their tour promoting their newly released ‘English Electric’ album), plus two shows scheduled shortly after the release of ‘Metadelic’ – a stand-alone headline show in Brighton (supported by the ever wonderful Vile Electrodes) and a show at London’s Brixton Academy as part of the The Playground Festival, also featuring Gary Numan, Wolfgang Flur and Derrick May – however, this show never went ahead, with the cancellation of the festival.

‘Metadelic’ UK compilation 2 x CD + DVD (Edsel Records, EDSG8024, 2013)

An email from the Metamatic website of 21 May 2013 was packed with lots of news and, more specifically, the following about ‘Metadelic’:

‘Metadelic’ is a brand new three disc compilation album (two CDs and a DVD) intended as a companion to 2010’s ‘Metatronic’. This album includes an entire disc’s worth of material (fourteen tracks) which has never been on CD before – including a previously unreleased version of ‘Endlessly’ – the ‘Sparkle Mix’. The accompanying DVD features all of the promotional videos from between 1981 through to 1985 – including the ‘Top Of The Pops’ performance of ‘Europe After The Rain’ which has never been previously released officially in any format.

So, the set basically comprises disc one of previously released material from John Foxx solo (nine tracks), John Foxx and Louis Gordon (four tracks), one track by Jori Hulkkonen with John Foxx and two tracks by John Foxx and The Maths. Disc two contains previously unreleased versions – or previously unreleased on CD format – including seven tracks from BBC Radio 1 sessions, seven tracks of 12” mixes and one completely new and never released mix. Disc three is a DVD with five promo videos that had been issued previously on the 1989 John Foxx compilation video plus a BBC1 ‘Top Of The Pops’ appearance.

John Foxx 'Metadelic' CD rear case design
^ John Foxx ‘Metadelic’ CD rear case design


Disc One:

  1. Swimmer II (5’15”)
  2. Miles Away (3’19”)
  3. Europe After The Rain (4’01”)
  4. Dancing Like A Gun (4’13”)
  5. Endlessly (1982 single version) (3’51”)
  6. Twilight’s Last Gleaming (4’25”)
  7. Annexe (3’10”)
  8. Sitting At The Edge Of The World (Alternative Version) (3’58”)
  9. Ghosts On Water (3’14”)
  10. An Ocean We Can Breathe (6’20”) ‡
  11. Through My Sleeping (5’03”) ‡
  12. Shifting City (3’39”) ‡
  13. Underwater (5’02”) ‡
  14. Never Been Here Before (Radio Edit) (4’02”) † 
  15. Invisible Ray (2’48”) *
  16. Vapour Trails (4’35”) *

Disc Two:

BBC Session Versions:

  1. Hiroshima Mon Amour (December 1983) (4’29”)
  2. Twilight’s Last Gleaming (December 1983) (5’12”)
  3. In Mysterious Ways (June 1985) (3’10”)
  4. Stars On Fire (June 1985) (5’07”)
  5. Lose All Sense Of Time (June 1985) (4’16”)
  6. Hanging In The Air (September 1985) (2’33”)
  7. In Mysterious Ways (September 1985) (3’24”)

12 Inch Versions:

  1. Endlessly (7’44”)
  2. Like A Miracle (8’12”)
  3. A Kind Of Wave (5’02”)
  4. Stars On Fire (7’10”)
  5. Enter The Angel (5’55”)
  6. What Kind Of Girl (4’58”)
  7. Endlessly (Sparkle Mix) (6’29”)

Disc Three [DVD]:

  1. Miles Away
  2. Europe After The Rain (Top Of The Pops)
  3. Dancing Like A Gun
  4. Endlessly
  5. Stars On Fire
  6. Lose All Sense Of Time

Edsel / Demon Records, EDSG 8024
Release Date: 3rd of June, 2013

All tracks by John Foxx except where noted, as follows:
‡ John Foxx and Louis Gordon
† Jori Hulkkonen with John Foxx
* John Foxx and The Maths

Of note:

  • Disc one – standard album mixes except;
    • It’s not stated on the cover, but disc one’s version of ‘Endlessly’ is the original 1982 single version.
    • Similarly not stated on the cover but the version of ‘Never Been Here Before’ is the ‘Radio Edit’ version.
  • The 12” mix of ‘Endlessly’ featured on disc two is the full length version from the 1983 12” release. The 2008 CD release of ‘The Golden Section’ had included ‘Endlessly’ (Extended Mix) – with a duration of 6’03”, that is a completely different mix with very noticeable bass guitar and drums by comparison. (So, take your pick from no less than three long versions of the song doing the rounds!)

It’s also worth noting that immediately prior to the release of ‘Metadelic’ there was a 12” single of ‘Underpass’ released, in a limited edition of 500 copies. However, despite being so close to the release of the compilation, it had no direct connection and neither of the two mixes from the 12” (the ‘_Unsubscribe_ Remake Mix’ and the ‘Oh The Gilt Mix’) were included on the ‘Metadelic’ compilation. This 12” had originally been intended to be available as part of the annual Record Store Day releases on 20 April 2013, but was delayed.

John Foxx 'Metadelic' CD 1 and insert (front) design
^ John Foxx ‘Metadelic’ CD 1 and insert (front) design

What is / was unique to this compilation?

  • ‘Endlessly’ (Sparkle Mix) has only ever been issued on this compilation.
  • All of the BBC Radio 1 session recordings on disc two have only ever been issued on this CD. Of particular note here, the song ‘Hanging In The Air’ has never been released in any other version. It hails from the BBC Radio 1 programme called ‘Saturday Live’, from 7th September 1985). An earlier live session  appearance on ‘Saturday Live’ had been made in December 1983 and two tracks from that session are included (‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ and ‘Twilight’s Last Gleaming’) – sadly, a cover version of ‘The Shadow Of Your Smile’ (also known as ‘Love Theme from The Sandpiper’, from the ’60s movie ‘The Sandpiper’, was performed on that session but it was not included on this release.

‘Additionally of interest…’

  • The 12” mixes while readily available on vinyl have only ever had CD releases on this compilation to date. It’s an odd little detail to point out, since you normally tend to expect 12” mixes to be longer than the standard versions, but the 12” version of ‘What Kind Of Girl’ is shorter than the album version – just how it is, a very different intro to both versions is the easiest giveaway to tell them apart.

Where can the exclusives be sourced now?

    • Most of disc two’s versions which were exclusive remain so, at least on CD format, though the album can be found on digital platforms.
John Foxx 'Metadelic' CD 2 and DVD
^ John Foxx ‘Metadelic’ CD 2 and DVD


For John Foxx completists this is pretty essential, since most of disc two’s versions are either exclusive or in the case of the 12” mixes, the only place to be found on CD format. The BBC session recordings are a curious mix – within the five years between 1980’s ‘Metamatic’ and 1985’s ‘In Mysterious Ways’, John Foxx had thawed from ice-cold dystopian synthesizer detachment through to guitar-driven, ‘60s-infused warmth and these session versions capture that latter state, since the majority of the session recordings are from 1985.  It’s a long way away from the stark, primitive synths, rhythm-boxes and string machines of ‘Metamatic’, largely abandoned and replaced with guitars and state of the art keyboards and electronic drums. The title track of ‘In Mysterious Ways’ found here in two separate live session versions, one close to the album version, the September session version much more stripped down and minimal, is as far away from the sound of ‘Metamatic’ as you could imagine. Contrast too ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’; it is to be found here with a very 1983 sound palette – Simmons electronic drums pounding away in comparison to the more minimal rhythm-box tick of Ultravox’s original or later John Foxx/Louis Gordon, or John Foxx and The Maths versions.

For the casual fan, or those minded more towards the colder, synthesizer-driven works, the more traditional sounds evident across much of the material – and especially the sessions  material, might be an eye-opener.

The sleeve notes are a curious mix of signature John Foxx self-portrait observations and historical narrative that join the dots of those disparate influences and experiences that go to make up what we have come to know as John Foxx, whether that be the grey-suited Ballardian automaton or the dappled sunlight romantic tasting those ‘60s happenings afresh as if they were new, not decades away at the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream.

Recommended then, this is good release to track down.

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