Janice Long, 1955-2021

Sad news for Christmas Day this year, learning of the death of Janice Long. I grew up listening and finding out about so many great acts from BBC Radio 1’s evening and weekend shows and Janice Long was one of the key DJs that made a big difference. She had great taste and brought a genuine enthusiasm and warm-hearted humour to proceedings that was a welcome relief from many others. It comes as no surprise to learn of so many wonderful tributes from many of the well-known acts she met along the way. If you are unfamiliar with her, I recommend a 33 minute primer courtesy of the Radio 1 Vintage series that was produced in 2018 and featured a Janice Long compilation.

BBC Radio 1 Vintage - Janice Long compilation
^ BBC Radio 1 Vintage – Janice Long compilation

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Year by Year: Cocteau Twins – 1984

1984 was the year that Cocteau Twins popularity would rise enough to make the top 30 of the UK singles chart and to skirt the edges of the mainstream, first with the release of the ‘Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops’ single and amplified by year’s end with ‘Treasure’, a third album from the band that contains many a fan favourite to this day and arguably the emerging dreampop sound. They were also filling concert venues the size and likes of The Royal Festival Hall in London and The Usher Hall in Edinburgh – a mere two years on from their debut album. Along the way, the independent spirit was retained with exclusive tracks on some more obscure cassette compilations. Starting with…

Cassette compilation: ‘State Of Affairs’ (Pleasantly Surprised, 003)

A various artists compilation from a period where sturm und drang was very much in fashion and is reflected in many of the tracks found here, the Cocteau Twins connection here is an exclusive remix of ‘In Our Angelhood’ that has never been reissued anywhere else. It appears that there were plans to issue this track as a single from the ‘Head Over Heels’ album, but it never came to pass. The intended single release is mentioned on the text in the booklet that accompanies this cassette, but I don’t know for sure if this remix was the planned single mix or not. Its a good bit different from the album mix for sure, though the sound quality here is not the best, it must be said. The arrangement on the version recorded for the October 1983 BBC Radio 1 David ‘Kid’ Jensen session is quite similar.

Various artists - 'State Of Affairs' compilation cassette front cover and cassette side one
^ Various artists – ‘State Of Affairs’ compilation cassette front cover and cassette side one

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Year by Year: Cocteau Twins – 1983

7″ Flexidisc: ‘Vinyl’ Magazine (‘Speak No Evil’)

‘Speak No Evil’ was intended to be one of the tracks on a planned debut 7″ single for 4AD by the band. That ended up being dropped when the recording of ‘Garlands’ was judged to be a stronger opening release on its own, so ‘Speak No Evil’ was instead given away as a flexidisc with the Dutch music magazine ‘Vinyl’. Obviously somewhat crackly in this flexidisc form, it was a welcome addition as a bonus track on the 1986 CD release of ‘Garlands’, but was removed on subsequent re-releases which opted to feature only the original eight track album running order. It has however recently been included on the four disc various artists compilation, ‘Make More Noise! Women In Independent UK Music 1977 – 1987’ released on Cherry Red in 2020. It has a downbeat, proto-‘Garlands’ type sound – the nearest comparison on ‘Garlands’ would likely be ‘Shallow Then Halo’, I feel. The flip side features the wonderful Thomas Leer with ‘Who’s Foolin’ Who’ – stylistically a good way away from the Cocteau Twins sound, originally also exclusive to this flexidisc, in recent years it found a home on his ‘1982’ compilation.

'Vinyl' Magazine flexidisc - Cocteau Twins 'Speak No Evil' label side
^ ‘Vinyl’ Magazine flexidisc – Cocteau Twins ‘Speak No Evil’ label side

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Heaven 17 – ‘Endless’ UK Boxed Cassette (Virgin, TCVB 2383, 1986)

The first compilation/remix album by Heaven 17 (though by no means the last), ‘Endless’ is quite a curio on cassette format for a number of reasons. First off, this limited edition boxed version – packaged up in an elegant, black linen box with gold print, not a million miles away from the format that Factory Records had adopted for their cassette releases of their mid-eighties period (and which now prove very collectable indeed).

Heaven 17 'Endless' boxed edition cassette - front
^ Heaven 17 ‘Endless’ boxed edition cassette – front

Secondly, of course, some good old version craziness in the music to be found on the cassette. Apart from the ‘endless’ segue concept that is responsible for many changes to be found in the music, headline news is that the cassette edition came with four extra tracks compared to the CD version and amongst these is a 5’05” mix of ‘Play To Win’ that I had never come across anywhere else. (It has since finally been released on the ‘Play To Win (The Virgin Years)’ boxed set, I believe, though I don’t have this set.) It resembles the longer ‘BEF Disco Mix’ from the original 12″ single release, but edited down a good deal. (I tried out a digital recreation of it, hence why I know how much editing down it has had – no simple early fade out or the like, oh no – someone went to town with some enthusiasm all the way through the track!) Continue reading “Heaven 17 – ‘Endless’ UK Boxed Cassette (Virgin, TCVB 2383, 1986)”

Year by Year: Cocteau Twins – 1982

An opening post in a long-running series that will be appear periodically, the aim is to document one of my long-standing, enduring favourites – Cocteau Twins. This is a band where I bought their records from the very first release, ‘Garlands’, shortly after its release, and onwards. Much like another of my favourites, Durutti Column, the Cocteau Twins have an interesting discography to examine since they were very much an act where you found fine quality work not only on albums but on 12″ EPs (a Cocteau Twins speciality) as well as gifted to obscure compilations (more often than not exclusive tracks or versions).

Cocteau Twins assemblage of releases
^ An assemblage of Cocteau Twins releases from over the years

Year by year, the plan is to document when a primary release first made an appearance and to highlight the obscurities that can be found here and there on compilations and the like. Like other post-punk acts of the era, there have been re-issues over the year, in some cases where bonus tracks have ended up removed so as to restore original album running orders to match the original vinyl releases. (Wire also spring to mind here…)

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