Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Tones On Tail – ‘Tones On Tail’ EP (4AD, BAD203, 1982)

Monday, January 14th, 2019

The first 12″ EP release by Tones On Tail, at the time very much the prime focus was shining on Daniel Ash as a solo project from the day job with Bauhaus. The record itself has an interesting history in that respect, with ‘Copper’ having its roots in Bauhaus, but the mix of input from both Ash and fellow Tones collaborator, Glenn Campling, who was famously at this point involved in Bauhaus in the capacity of their road crew, brings a richer variety to it all. Campling’s basslines are somewhat unique on ‘A Bigger Splash’ and ‘Means of Escape’, while the record also showcases some lower end of the market rhythm boxes, long before the arrival of Kevin Haskins to the drum stool in Tones On Tail. The record also established two elements that would become definitive Tones On Tail, the moody and mysterious cover painting and the use of Caslon Antique for the band logo.

Tones on Tail EP front cover design

^ Tones on Tail EP front cover design

A Bigger Splash

The opening track on side one, ‘A Bigger Splash’, is an Ash/Campling co-creation – underpinned by a busy, echo-enhanced beat, the Tensai (possibly an RCR-332 model?) rhythm box – a weird critter of a thing that was basically a radio/tape deck boombox with built-in preset rhythm machine – sitting atop of this, Daniel Ash (presumably, since he was oft seen to do this on Bauhaus tracks such as In Fear of Fear) adds oral percussion explosions and oddness too. Adding to the foundations is Glenn Campling’s wonderful FX  heavy bassline – once it starts it is pretty well off for the duration, almost machine-like itself. Over all of this, there is Ash’s vocals and then some fairly minimal extra instrumentation, wailing backwards guitar drifting in and out from time to time.

Tones on Tail EP rear cover design

^ Tones on Tail EP rear cover design


Side one’s second track, ‘Copper’ has an interesting history to it. The sleeve credits note that all instruments are down to Daniel Ash, though with the combined voices of he and Campling, all somewhat manic and cackling.

The long departed ‘APOLLOX’ Love and Rockets/Bauhaus-related fanzine is the source of the following nugget of information, courtesy of an interview conducted with Glenn Campling…

‘A SHORT TALE OF TONES…. Where Truth Begins and Fiction Ends…’
© Apollox Feb / March 2006 with thanks to Glenn Campling
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Andrew J. Brooksbank MySpace – archived 24/11/2009

(On ‘Copper’) …this track, or rather the guitar element, was played during one of the four improvisations the band (Bauhaus) would jam with during the European leg of the ‘Mask’ Tour, the month following the Reading show you speak of…’The Colours’ were basically four instrumental (largely) improvisational pieces, where each member would take the lead, i.e. one of them was a drum driven track (in the vein of ‘Satori’), a second one was bass driven etc and ‘Copper’ was played during the “guitar” colour. I am only aware of one show where all four of these “Colours” were actually played during the same performance. Often they would play one or two of them but rarely all four, like all improvisations once the act or music is performed / played more than once they begin to evolve and take on life of their own, thus becoming fully fledged and losing their spontaneous edge I guess that’s maybe why this idea didn’t last beyond a handful of dates…

It’s all flooding back to me now! I personally regard ‘Colours’ as a failed Bauhaus project. It started as a kind of live jam on that tour in the hope it would develop into a masterpiece. When I wrote the set lists for the night, the whole crew would say ‘Oh no, not that again’. The trouble was the band would mostly play it in the middle of the set, and it felt like a gaping hole was about to appear. They would argue that the audiences mixed feelings was the response they wanted, irrelevant of the eerie silence followed by timid applause when it was all over. As far as I know it was never recorded, but Dan must have like his part (obviously influenced by the Beatles, ‘Daytripper’ which Tones recorded later)…

It is also noted on the sleeve with dual 45/331/3 speed for this one track, presumably inviting the listener to try either. (It’s a wonder one of the countless CD compilation re-issues has not in fact tried this trick to date!)

Tones on Tail EP side one label design

^ Tones on Tail EP side one label design

Means of Escape

Side two opens with ‘Means of Escape’, where things get somewhat groovy. A strict, heavily reverbed snare and simple 4/4 rhythm box kick drum sets the bedrock of the track over which Glenn Campling once again starts up his bass guitar and proceeds as he means to go on. Over this, Daniel Ash gets the drum stick out and bows this over the guitar (a technique more famously heard on ‘Hollow Hills’ and always a sight to have seen live) layering a haunting wash of sound in and out of focus. The vocal takes the form of a quiet whisper, adding to the mystery of the lyric, while towards the end Ash adds atmospheric saxophone into the mix. Surprisingly perhaps, this only appears to have resurfaced on CD one one release, the mistakenly titled ‘Everything’ compilation.

Tones on Tail EP side two label design

^ Tones on Tail EP side two label design


Side two and the EP ends with ‘Instrumental’ – once more, the credits list Daniel Ash responsible for all instruments, which this time comprise 12 string acoustic guitar, SoundMaster SR-88 rhythm machine, bass guitar (somewhat more basic sounding than Campling’s heavily FX-laden style) and a string synthesizer (unidentified, but customarily beautiful in sound).

On the original vinyl, this track fades out at around the 3 minute 22 mark – you can hear that version on the ‘Night Music’ compilation and US ‘Tones On Tail’ compilation – but there are two slight variants available; the track was first re-issued in 1985 in the UK (also Canada and Greece) on the ‘Tones On Tail’ compilation LP (Situation 2, STU12), an LP that gathered up all of the main tracks from the first three 12″ singles the band released 1982-1983. Somewhere along the line however, someone must have decided to find the editing scissors and trim ‘Instrumental’ to fit on this compilation, as it clocks in at only 2 minutes and 13 seconds approx. – a good minute plus lopped off and crucially, it fades out prematurely before it has even reached its somewhat lively middle-eight section! Unsatisfying…

Perhaps to make amends though, by the time the track was dusted off again and re-issued as part of the ‘Everything’ compilation CD (and later the ‘Weird Pop’ double vinyl compilation), the original tape must have been used and instructions to fade-out before the end gone AWOL as it is unedited, so there is no fade – the instruments just die off at the end naturally.

Addendum: Soundmaster Memory Rhythm SR-88

The rhythm box that underpins both ‘Means of Escape’ and ‘Instrumental’ is the Soundmaster Memory Rhythm SR-88 – I was familiar with this before the release, this is a review from the August 1981 issue of ‘Sound Internationa;’ magazine I had been poring over.

Soundmaster Memory Rhythm SR-88 review scan

^ Soundmaster Memory Rhythm SR-88 review scan


Colin Newman, ‘Not To’ UK LP (4AD CAD201, 1982)

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Early 1982 saw Colin Newman’s third solo album ‘Not To’ revisit a good number of songs that Wire had first performed live but never recorded as studio takes, in equal turns sating a curiosity but also further underlining Wire’s extinct status. ‘Not To’ dusted off and updated ‘Lorries’, ‘We Meet Under Tables’, ‘Safe’, ‘5/10’ and ‘Remove for Improvement’, all of which had seen live Wire outings previously (and would be documented in rough, live recordings too – initially in 1981 on ‘Document and Eyewitness’, then many years later the remainder on ‘Turns and Strokes’). (There is also ‘You, Me And Happy’, though any Wire recording of this seems to be unheard of.)

Now, it was not only Colin Newman re-purposing this source material – Gilbert & Lewis and their ‘Dome’ project also made use of ‘And Then…’ on ‘Dome 1’ and ‘Ritual View’ on ‘Dome 2’, while Colin Newman himself had already revisited ‘Inventory’ for his initial solo album, 1980’s ‘A – Z’. ‘Alone’ from that same LP shares writing credits of Newman/Lewis, so a Wire connection there too perhaps.

Colin Newman 'Not To' LP front cover design

^ Colin Newman ‘Not To’ LP front cover design


Remake, remodel: Wire ‘Change Becomes Us’ and Karl Bartos ‘Off The Record’

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Arriving within a short period of one another, two releases which both delve back into the history books in order to refashion roughs into polished new shapes. Wire have taken a selection of material that previously saw release only as live versions (on 1981’s ‘Document and Eyewitness’ live set and, later, the ‘Turns and Strokes’ compilation gathering together remaining waifs and strays of the period) – so, mostly familiar to long-time Wire fans. Bartos meanwhile has looked back to private musical sketches to bring something new to the world.

Wire 'Changes Becomes Us' limited edition and and Karl Bartos 'Off The Record' CDs

^ Wire 'Changes Becomes Us' limited edition and and Karl Bartos 'Off The Record' CDs


Skids – ‘Animation’ UK 7″ single (Virgin, VS323, 1980)

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Included for no other reason than it happens to be one of my all-time favourite sleeve designs, graced with an artwork from none other than Russell Mills [], who is identified with the Eno/Sylvian end of the musical spectrum more often than not, I’d say.

Skids 'Animation' front cover design

^ Skids 'Animation' front cover design

This ended up being the third single release from ‘Days in Europa’ – I’m sticking firmly to the original 1979 release when I say this – I know that the 1980 remix/re-release also includes ‘Masquerade’, so technically you might say it is the fourth single peeled off the album – but any Skids fan who knew the original first probably finds the 1980 version difficult to swallow, even with a tacked on single from a year before. (And, my goodness, a year was a long time indeed in the late ’70s/early ’80s – in the current era where bands take years between album releases, Skids themselves managed to release two original albums in 1979 – and they were far from the only band with that kind of work ethic.)

Skids 'Animation' back cover design

^ Skids 'Animation' back cover design

Ironically though, the reason for this single release was the remixed and repackaged 1980 re-release of ‘Days in Europa’ (touched on in an earlier blog post here) – this was the single that preceded it. The version of ‘Animation’ is shorter than the original 1979 album mix, due to an earlier fade-out, though otherwise not much different. Meanwhile, the surgery that was meted out on the re-issue LP saw ‘Pros and Cons’ excised from the running order – criminally, in my opinion – to make way for ‘Masquerade’  so, ‘Pros and Cons’ ends up being the B side here.

Skids 'Animation' label side A

^ Skids 'Animation' label side A

Sadly, the magnificent ‘Animation’ stiffed as far as the charts went, stalling at number 56 on the UK hit parade, bringing to an end the run of top 40 UK singles that had seen them score hit after hit from ‘Into The Valley’ through to the preceding ‘Working For The Yankee Dollar’.

Skids 'Animation' label side B

^ Skids 'Animation' label side B

John Foxx and the Maths live in London, October 2011

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

The seemingly evergreen Mr Foxx shows no signs of slowing down his progress and work rate and was in fine form this week, in the company of the Maths, judging by the two live shows in London that I managed to catch, part of a larger UK tour. The first two live outings for the Maths featured a larger complement of members, but these shows have seen a four-piece grouping with the core Maths duo of Foxx on vocals and keyboards along with Benge on electronic percussion (a great set of shiny red Simmons drum pads) and keyboards, joined once again with Serafina Steer (keyboards, bass guitar and backing vocals) plus new member Hannah Peel providing keyboards, violin and backing vocals.

John Foxx

^ John Foxx

First up it was evident that the band themselves were clearly really enjoying the event, which always makes a difference, smiles all round at times. A very ‘live’ experience, for sure. The addition of Hannah Peel’s violin in particular has brought another dimension to old favourites such as ‘Plaza’ and ‘He’s A Liquid’. The set list itself was largely from the ‘Interplay’ album, almost all of it played, plus a track from the just released second album from the Maths (‘The Shape of Things’), ‘The Shadow Of His Former Self’. Along with this were a fair few from Metamatic and some Ultravox! numbers such as Hiroshima Mon Amour, Dislocation et al.

John Foxx

^ John Foxx

I hope that the band are able to tour again, particularly venturing overseas if they can, and I definitely encourage you to catch them if they do so, it was a great experience and I leave you with some photos from the event (with apologies to Benge, who it was difficult to catch from my vantage points).

Benge and Hannah Peel

^ Benge and Hannah Peel

Hannah Peel, Serafina Steer, John Foxx

^ Hannah Peel, Serafina Steer, John Foxx

Hannah Peel, Serafina Steer, John Foxx

^ Hannah Peel, Serafina Steer, John Foxx

John Foxx

^ John Foxx

Hannah Peel

^ Hannah Peel