Archive for the ‘Region crazy’ Category

Wire – ‘Life In The Manscape’ US CD single (Enigma/Mute, 7 75553-2 / MUTE 107, 1990)

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

‘Life In The Manscape’ turned out to be the one and only single release from Wire’s fan-testing ‘Manscape’ album, a period where the band’s insistence on devotion to process (in this case MIDI/computer-based recording and editing) dragged them well out of shape from the nominal ‘beat combo’ of the preceding Mute releases. (And even those releases had already had their fair share of playing second fiddle to the technology…) The album was viewed by Wire as their ‘1990’ album, a deliberate change in direction and methodology. I personally have a lot of time for it, but the band themselves have long since distanced themselves from it and many’s the fan who have either joined them in that view or would hope for some 21st century remix of it to sort it out.

Wire - Life in the Manscape US CD front insert design

^ Wire – Life in the Manscape US CD front insert design

‘Life In The Manscape’ itself was the kick-off track if you had ventured down the CD or cassette path of the ‘Manscape’ album. It was nowhere to be found on the vinyl LP. It is a lively number, more’s the pity it was neglected from all formats. The first track on this CD single purports to be the ‘Album Version’, but in fact it is not. Instead, it is the same remix as labelled as the ‘Radio Mix’ on the 12” promo single (Enigma/Mute EPRO-311) of this release. It is not radically different from the LP mix, the differences are subtle – there is some variation to the vocal that can be heard from about the 3’20” mark onwards – the album mix is almost over by this point – then a repeat to fade for the remainder of the sing’s duration – a good 20 secs + plus longer then.

Wire - Life in the Manscape US CD insert rear design

^ Wire – Life in the Manscape US CD insert rear design

There are two further mix variations to be found on this CD. First up is the ‘7-inch Version’ – you get the idea from the title of the intent, I suppose, though there never was a 7” single release. It is actually longer than either the album or Radio Mix, funnily enough. It sticks to the blueprint of the album mix too by and large but each chorus adds new vocal and lyric variation, so in the end it is quite noticeably different, not to mention a near half minute longer than the album mix – oh, and there is no fade-out, it comes to a dead halt.

Wire - Life in the Manscape US CD single label design

^ Wire – Life in the Manscape US CD single label design

Things go well awry on the ‘12-inch Version’, where gimmicky remix trickery grabs hold firmly by the lapels and doesn’t let go until suitably pointless havoc has been wreaked on the song’s fabric. It hasn’t dated well, this mix, starting off with some almost hesitant sequencer synth work before the familiar musical pattern of the  songs barges in on proceedings. A variety of contemporary samples (referencing South Africa in particular) are grafted atop, with no Wire vocals appearing until just before the four minute mark – and even from then on they are obscured by effects and well buried in the mix. It would be hard to recommend this mix as being a satisfying listen, I feel.

Wire - Life in the Manscape US CD rear case design

^ Wire – Life in the Manscape US CD rear case design

The CD is completed with two other tracks that never appeared anywhere else other than the Japanese 2xCD edition of the album initially, later appearing on the ‘Coatings’ compilation CD on the inspirational WMO label, while it was still a going concern.

‘Gravity Workshop’ (actually, it should be titled correctly as ‘Gravity Worship’) works better of the two for me. Graham Lewis is the sole vocalist on this piece and it’s a fair point to make that he sounds like some MIDI-enabled preacher plugged into the mains, as he spouts atop a fairly angular musical workout beneath. Panned dead centre you can hear the kind of arpeggiated notes that were quite the hallmark of the A Bell Is A Cup…/IBTABA work, rendered more sweetly here amidst the remainder of the noise. You could imagine that there may have been decisions to be reached in choosing between ‘What Do You See?’ and this track for the album, both have similar vocal intensity on display.

‘Who Has Nine’ I personally favour less. Sonically, it starts off quite Mute of the era – you could imagine it on a Depeche Mode release of the time. Again, it is Graham Lewis on lead vocal, but the song lacks the same manic performance of the previous track and never really travels far enough, outstaying it’s welcome a good  bit.

Wire - Life in the Manscape US CD insert inner spread design

^ Wire – Life in the Manscape US CD insert inner spread design

Recommended then for the ‘7 inch Version’ in particular and ‘Gravity Worship’. But what do you think?

Ultravox ‘The Voice’ Spanish 7″ single (Chrysalis, CHS-2559, 1981)

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Nothing especially exotic when it comes to the musical content of this 45, fine as it is nevertheless – very much Ultravox mark II at the high water mark of their splendidly noir pomp. The A and B sides match the UK release, the former being an edited version of the LP cut, the latter one of Ultravox’s mark II’s best ever B sides, IMHO, with Warren Cann on lead vocals. No, the chief attraction of this 45 is the cover, which broke with the tradition of most territories equivalent releases by ditching the (admittedly very good) Peter Saville (or Estudio Saville, as his nom de plume would have it on this outing) design – instead, the cover features one of photographer Brian Griffin‘s sumptuous shots from the ‘Rage In Era’ period, Ultravox in a timeless retro style in front of a vanishing point horizon. It did at least keep a similar in vein ‘brush script’ style typeface for the titles, the A side of which is also translated as ‘La Voz’ for this release. There does also seem to be another Spanish 7″ edition that features the regular picture sleeve design, it may be a promo only affair though? This is the one for me though.

Ultravox, 'The Voice' ('La Voz') Spanish 7 inch single front cover design

^ Ultravox, ‘The Voice’ (‘La Voz’) Spanish 7 inch single front cover design

Ultravox, 'The Voice' ('La Voz') Spanish 7 inch single label design side A

^ Ultravox, ‘The Voice’ (‘La Voz’) Spanish 7 inch single label design side A

Ultravox, 'The Voice' ('La Voz') Spanish 7 inch single back cover design

^ Ultravox, ‘The Voice’ (‘La Voz’) Spanish 7 inch single back cover design

Ultravox, 'The Voice' ('La Voz') Spanish 7 inch single label design side B

^ Ultravox, ‘The Voice’ (‘La Voz’) Spanish 7 inch single label design side B

Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus II’ Japanese 12″ EP (4AD/Nexus International, K15P-518, 1983)

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Some while back, I covered the original West German release of Xmal Deutschland’s second single, ‘Incubus Succubus’ – read more here. Easily one of their most vital pieces, having signed to 4AD records the band saw fit to re-record it in 1983 and release a new version, this time produced by 4AD label head Ivo along with John Fryer. Released in the UK on 7″ and 12″ pressings, the version was not radically different from the first take, but even so it somehow managed to acquire a unique number to differentiate it. Something of an archetypal Xmal gothic, lupine howl, it appealed a great deal and was my initial entry into all things Xmal in the autumn of 1983. The bass-propelled, tomtom-heavy ‘Vito’ on the flip side was equally exciting – and fighting above the jagged guitars, the gothic organ tones of the Casio MT30 keyboard – small but deadly!

Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP

^ Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP

Surprisingly though, the UK 7″ and 12″ editions were identical, from the versions of the tracks contained in the grooves to the tastefully wrapped 23 Envelope sleeve design (which in itself was something unique for that fledgling design house, featuring the band themselves pictured, albeit half hidden).

Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP - rear cover design

^ Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP - rear cover design

Featured here however is the Japanese version. Having not had the previous ‘Qual’ remix 12″ released there, this particular 12″ release saw fit to take the two tracks from the UK release and further tack on the two tracks which had been included along with ‘Qual’, in the shape of the excellent ‘Zeit’ and ‘Sehnsucht’. So, all in all, a very appealing four track 12″ EP instead.

Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP - A side label and insert

^ Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP - A side label and insert

Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP - B side label

^ Xmal Deutschland: ‘Incubus Succubus 2’ Japanese 12 inch EP - B side label