Side by side: Xmal Deutschland ‘Sickle Moon’ UK singles (Xile/Phonogram XMAL2 / XMAL212, 1987)

Another post of mine that holds a torch for Xmal Deutschland, who I was seriously into in the 1980s and was fortunate to see play live a few times. This time around, the final single release by the five-piece version of the band, ‘Sickle Moon’, the second single from the ‘Viva’ album of 1987.

Xmal Deutschland - Sickle Moon UK 7" single front cover design
^ Xmal Deutschland – Sickle Moon UK 7″ single front cover design

Released in 7″ and 12″ formats in the UK, it managed to contain two versions of the A side, ‘Sickle’ Moon’, and two versions of the shared B-side, ‘Illusion’, as well as 12″-only track, ‘In Onyx’. Continue reading “Side by side: Xmal Deutschland ‘Sickle Moon’ UK singles (Xile/Phonogram XMAL2 / XMAL212, 1987)”

David Sylvian compilations across the years – Part 3

The fourth, and to date last, of the main David Sylvian related compilations featured in this series – two versions, side-by-side, of the ‘Sleepwalkers’ CD, which compiles collaborations with other artists from the early 2000s onwards.

Side-by-side David Sylvian 'Sleepwalkers' CDs - original (left) and re-issue (right) - front cover designs
^ Side-by-side David Sylvian ‘Sleepwalkers’ CDs – 2010 original (left) and 2022 re-issue (right) – front cover designs

First released in 2010, there was a re-mastered version in 2022 and on this occasion a micro-site to promote the 2022 release (an updated variant of the page for the original September 2010 release) presents some very useful detail spanning both versions. The notes from the site nicely encapsulates the spirit behind the compilation with the following summary;

in the 00s, DAVID SYLVIAN produced two of his strongest and most solitary statements, BLEMISH and MANAFON. but those records don’t tell the whole story. during that the same period, SYLVIAN created an alternate body of work: a series of collaborations and side projects with leading talents of pop and improv, electronic and contemporary classical music. the best of these recordings are gathered here on SLEEPWALKERS, meticulously sequenced and remixed: the fruits of one-off meetings and lifelong partnerships, they jump from bliss to intrigue, romance to sensuality, as arch experiments lead into the lushest pop.

The compilation isn’t a be all and end all – David Sylvian has collaborated on many other occasions not compiled here and in some cases the tracks selected provides a taster of further work that can be sought out (e.g. the Nine Horses and Tweaker works).

Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the compilation to hand and the variants between the two editions. Continue reading “David Sylvian compilations across the years – Part 3”

Year by Year: Cocteau Twins – 1987

Cocteau Twins stepped off of the production line in 1987 and their only release of the year was one previously unissued track which was included on a 4AD label compilation LP, ‘Lonely Is An Eyesore’, released in June 1987. The track in question was ‘Crushed’. The band were far from idle however, just that their efforts were in other directions, not least in the direction of creating their first permanent recording base from which to work, based in Acton, where they enlisted the aid of members of 4AD label-mates Colourbox and Dif Juz in the fit-out and construction of the space.

Deluxe Edition LP: ‘Lonely Is An Eyesore’ (4AD CAD D 703)

‘Lonely Is An Eyesore’ was very much a project of the label founder, Ivo – and consequently, it was lavished with some degree of effort in its presentation and formatting. The ultimate edition is a wooden box-cased version which gathers together all formats of the release (4AD, CADX 703), but that is up there in the stratospheric level of 4AD collectables due to the extremely limited numbers it was produced in (apparently 100, most of which were allocated to members of the acts involved. More on that below…

Next on the list however is this Deluxe Edition of the LP format…

'Lonely Is An Eyesore' UK deluxe LP pack front cover design
^ ‘Lonely Is An Eyesore’ UK deluxe LP pack front cover design

According to what looks to be an informed source via a comment of the entry for this release, this Deluxe Edition appears to have been pressed up in an edition of 10,000 copies. Lavish it certainly is compared to the standard vinyl LP (4AD, CAD 703), since it comes packaged in an outer slipcase which houses a three-way fold-out insert/sleeve as well as  an inner sleeve for the record plus a large size (12”x12”) 24 page booklet. Continue reading “Year by Year: Cocteau Twins – 1987”

Side by side: Bill Nelson ‘Eros Arriving’ UK 7″ and double-pack 7″ (Mercury WILL 4 / WILL 44, 1982)

One of my all time favourite singles/EPs, this release just has so much going for it on many, levels. First off, the A side is a great song – and this somewhat meatier and beatier ‘rock’ arrangement is significantly different from the rhythm-machine-driven more minimal album version, by comparison. Secondly, the three extra tracks spread across the double-pack single are all top drawer Bill Nelson work and could equally have deserved a place on the contemporary ‘The Love That Whirls’ album, no question about it. Thirdly, that sleeve design – elegantly minimal, the early ’80s aesthetics that Bill exhibited were highly influential and this simple yet stylish choice of colourways was a winner.

Bill Nelson - 'Eros Arriving' UK 7" and double-pack 7" side-by-side front cover colourways
^ Bill Nelson – ‘Eros Arriving’ UK 7″ and double-pack 7″ side-by-side front cover colourways

Poring over the credits for both this single and the ‘The Love That Whirls’ album give some details away. On the single, the A side version of ‘Eros Arriving’ is credited as being produced by Chris Hughes and Bill Nelson and all instruments played by Bill Nelson with the exception of drums, played by Merrick. For the uninitiated, Chris Hughes and Merrick are on and the same person – Merrick the nom de plume of Chris Hughes as of one of the Adam and the Ants drummers of 1980-1981. And Chris Hughes more famously associated as producer and band member of Tears For Fears. Another name cropping up in those credits is Dave Bates, long-time A&R man at the Phonogram label and again a major crossover with Tears For Fears, having discovered and been long involved behind the scenes with them. Bates I believe was the A&R connection that go Bill Nelson on Mercury in 1981 and rescued ‘Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam’ from its fate as the EMI-scrapped second Red Noise album. The Adam and the Ants connection doesn’t just stop with Chris Hughes/Merrick though – ‘Haunting In My Head’ features Bogdan Wiczling on drums, originally with the sadly neglected Fingerprintz, he would go on to join as drummer with Adam Ant in 1982 through 1985. Continue reading “Side by side: Bill Nelson ‘Eros Arriving’ UK 7″ and double-pack 7″ (Mercury WILL 4 / WILL 44, 1982)”

Side by side: The Sun And The Moon ‘Alive Not Dead’ French/UK EP (Midnight Music DONG 44 / DONG 44CD, 1989)

The last release by the short-lived The Sun And The Moon while they remained a working entity, ‘Alive: Not Dead’ is a wonderful four track EP that pointed in a positive direction for the quality of the band’s future work, only for that future to fail.

The Sun And The Moon - 'Alive: Not Dead' 12" EP and CD front cover designs
^ The Sun And The Moon – ‘Alive: Not Dead’ 12″ EP and CD front cover designs

By this stage of the band’s arc they had left the Geffen label and found a home for this EP on the indie label Midnight Music, licensed from Glass Pyramid. Released in 12” and CD single formats, four quality tracks, one of which is the band’s spirited take on Alice Cooper’s ‘Elected’, complete with short dialogue snippet from an episode of ‘The Prisoner’ television series. Continue reading “Side by side: The Sun And The Moon ‘Alive Not Dead’ French/UK EP (Midnight Music DONG 44 / DONG 44CD, 1989)”