Archive for the ‘Design crazy’ Category

Gang Of Four – ‘Yellow’ US 12″ EP (Warner Brothers Records, MINI 3494, 1980)

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

Back in the early ‘80s and my nascent record buying bug began to flourish with a regular wage packet from a Saturday morning job, there were many a tempting release to be found in the record racks of local shops such as 1-Up, The Other Record Shop, Bruce Millers, Easy Rider and the like. The exotic, foreign pressed 12” EPs or mini-album that scooped up tracks from individual 7” single releases and brought them together in a new sleeve design were especially eye-catching. With its bright yellow cover design and stark type arrangement, this positively shouted from the racks. However, it would be some time later before I would come across a copy – before then would be a copy of ‘Solid Gold’ swapped from a school friend and the wonderful ‘Another Day, Another Dollar’ mini-album, found in the second-hand racks of 1-Up, which I have written about before. And far from the expected compilation of tracks from the singles, on close listening there is far more going on, as we’ll see…

Gang Of Four US 1980 'Yellow' 12" EP front cover

^ Gang Of Four US 1980 ‘Yellow’ 12″ EP front cover

In the UK (and various other territories) the Gang Of Four were signed to the  establishment machinery that was EMI Records – however, in the US, they were signed to Warner Brothers Records instead – since the US EMI equivalent, Capitol Records, had passed on the chance to sign the band (a facsimile of the rejection letter having most recently been one of the items of ephemera in the 2021 ‘77-81’ boxed set). So, there was inevitably some leeway for Warner Brothers and their take on how the band’s releases should work – this EP (which isn’t actually called ‘Yellow’, though that has become its unofficially official title these days, not least on CD re-issues). Additionally, when it comes to the music, this EP is not quite as straightforward as its cover credits might indicate. (more…)

Button Badge Goodness: The Police (Part 1)

Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Over a few posts, here are a few button badges from back in the day – these are all of 1979/80/81 vintage as collected by my younger brother at the time, who was quite The Police fan, also tracking down a good many tasty foreign picture sleeve variations and coloured vinyls – what band they were for that!

The Police - button badge selection A

^ The Police – button badge selection A

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Side by side: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Electricity (FAC 6)

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

The impossibly stylish sleeve design to the debut single by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, ‘Electricity’, was an opening statement of intent by Factory Records, one so unusual to produce that it set the production presses on fire, with the result that the intended press run was left incomplete, apparently. It’s thermographed print was at one time de rigueur for stylish business cards – though black-on-black print as found here was perhaps a little more unusual. Whatever, this release in its original form has been a much sought after item and one you wouldn’t have imagined seeing again in its original form. However, 2019 saw the release of a boxed set of facsimile recreations of the first ten Factory Records artefacts to commemorate 40 years of the label, ‘Use Hearing Protection – Factory Records 1978-1979’ by Rhino Records. Let’s look at the original and recreation side by side…


The 1979 original

The beautifully minimal original cover – it has survived 42 years in good shape now. My copy of the vinyl is OK, hardly blemish free – also, it is a mis-press as it has the side A label on the B side too. Ooops! As for the music… famously, despite having re-recorded both songs at Cargo Studios with Martin ‘Zero’ Hannett as producer, the band insisted that their original somewhat low-fi and wonky version (recorded on the Winston 4-track recorder and produced by the band and then manager Paul Collister (aka Chester Valentino) in the latter’s garage, christened ‘Henry’s’),  was used for the A side. But Tony Wilson insisted that the lush re-recording of ‘Almost’ was used on the B side.

This original ‘Electricity’ as released on Factory FAC 6 can be found on CD in the unlikely source of the ‘Peel Sessions 1979-1983’ CD released back in 2000. Meanwhile, ‘Almost (Hannett/Cargo Studios Version)’ can be found on the 2003 CD re-issue of the band’s debut album.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Electricity (FAC 6) 1979 original - front cover

^ Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Electricity (FAC 6) 1979 original – front cover

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Year by Year: The Durutti Column – 1979

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

The first post in a long-running arc that will look in some depth across one of my long-standing, enduring favourites, The Durutti Column. A fascinating discography to dig into – as well as the prime album releases there is a rich variety of quality work that first saw light of day on obscure compilations, one-off releases with a variety of friendly labels and the like. Unlike the Cocteau Twins, I wasn’t there from the off and it wasn’t until 1982 that I started to buy Durutti Column records – but been collecting from then forward, on and off. So, I am no expert – along the way I’ll likely learn much, so if the band is one you’ve never quite known, but you are curious, this may be a good beginners guide – I’m sure I’ll learn a lot of new things too as I delve back into researching some more of the weird and wonderful releases.

I expect to dip in and out and feature whichever versions of the release I may have – over the years, along the way, some of my original copies have parted company, including a lovely copy of the original sandpaper cover debut album pressing, when it could still be had for a decent price second-hand… (sighs)… But The Durutti Column have been a well loved musical obsession and there have been many re-issue programmes over the years which have brought previously difficult to find works back to the light.

An assemblage of Durutti Column releases from over the years

^ An assemblage of Durutti Column releases from over the years

Lets start then with where it began, a release that in its original format is near impossible to find in mint quality and, even if you did find it, the price would doubtless be eye-watering… (more…)

Year by Year: Cocteau Twins – 1984

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

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 herethe 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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