Human League – ‘Only After Dark’ West German 7″ (Virgin, 102 148-100, 1980)

June 21st, 2020

‘Only After Dark’ should have been the second single released from the ‘Travelogue’ album in the UK – and indeed copies were pressed up, complete with a long version of ‘Toyota City’ on the B side, catalogue number VS351. But it appears that it was a record company choice and so much to the displeasure of the band that they objected to its release (as told in the wonderful Blind Youth website). Instead, Virgin went with the re-press and re-release of ‘Empire State Human’ instead (and also on 12” too this time) with the same VS351 catalogue number as ‘Only After Dark’ and shrink-wrapped copies of that and ‘Only After Dark’ together as another value for money double-pack limited edition (15,000, apparently) like the ‘Holiday ‘80’ EP before it. That’s the version I bought anyway and I must admit, I never realised that officially it was ‘Empire State Human’ as the lead single – I always assumed it was ‘Only After Dark’.

Human League - 'Only After Dark' West German 7" front cover design

^ Human League – ‘Only After Dark’ West German 7″ front cover design

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Kraftwerk – ‘Computer World’ (Pathe-Marconi EMI, 2C 070 64370, 1981)

June 14th, 2020

The French edition of Kraftwerk’s wonderful ‘Computer World’ album of 1981 is unique for its inclusion of ‘Mini Calculateur’, the en française rendition of ‘Pocket Calculator’. This is one of the four language variants of the song officially released on vinyl, the others being German, English and Japanese. The band also recorded an Italian language version (‘Mini Calcolatore’) and performed it in 1981 on the RAI television show Discoring, but this language mix was not released on record. A pity, as it sounds great. (There have been additional live performance variations too, but these were the recorded ones.)

Kraftwerk - 'Computer World' Pathe-Marconi EMI French vinyl LP, 1981 - front sleeve design.

^ Kraftwerk – ‘Computer World’ Pathe-Marconi EMI French vinyl LP, 1981 – front sleeve design.

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Gary Numan ‘80/81’ Box Set – Discs 3, 4 and 5: ‘Living Ornaments 81′

June 7th, 2020

In the first part of this look at the ‘80/81’ box set, the focus was on discs one and two, which spread the ‘Telekon’ studio album across a couple of individually packaged LPs. The remainder of the box finds the 1981 Wembley ‘farwewell concerts’ documented by way of the ‘Living Ornaments 81’ album – its only appearance on vinyl to date.

Those 1981 farewell shows are a well established part of the Numan folklore of course. I was still too young to have attended any concerts back in 1981. Instead, it was all lived vicariously through the pages of the music press and the likes of the Numan-sympathetic one-off SynRock fanzine, as well as the immediately preceding ‘Living Ornaments 79 and 80’ box set, which I lavished no small amount of several weeks pocket money on. A few months later came the airing on BBC1 TV (Sunday 6th September 1981) of some highlights from the video recording of the show. Despite being condensed down to only 40 minutes in length, this was A Very Big Deal Indeed for me, in an era of only three television channels airing in the UK. Having to compete with the rest of the family and their viewing pleasures – and with no video recorder yet – was no mean feat. The complete show would be released in full form in 1982 on the oddly named ‘Micromusic’ home video cassette and from which this live recording is derived.

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 3 - 'Living Ornaments 81' sleeve front cover

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 3 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ sleeve front cover

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New Order – ‘The Perfect Kiss’ UK 7” (Factory, FAC123, 1985)

May 28th, 2020

Rounding out May’s posts is the standard UK 7” issue of New Order’s first single release of 1985, ‘The Perfect Kiss’.

On first sight, and in comparison to many other New Order singles of the ‘80s in particular, it looks quite uninspiring and bland, taking minimalism all the way by being packaged in a high gloss plain black card sleeve, with minimal silver print typography on plain black labels. In the grooves though we find two edits that are unique to only this 7” single and which have never found there way on to any later CD releases.

New Order - The Perfect Kiss UK 7" front sleeve and label design.

^ New Order – The Perfect Kiss UK 7″ front sleeve and label design.

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Side by side: Hard Corps – ‘Metal and Flesh’ album versions

May 14th, 2020

This post will look at the various releases of the Hard Corps compilation album, ‘Metal and Flesh’ and its multiple mixes and selections across a small but surprisingly varied releases. I have posted about Hard Corps before, they remain, even after all these years, a favourite. At a time when bands were increasingly content to rely on the clean gleam of the new digital instrumentation wave, Hard Corps were synthesising their own sounds from a variety of elements. In the rhythm department in particular, none of the obvious go-to sources of the era, save for a Roland  TR-808 to provide a basic chassis in early stages of a track’s development, swapped out as they progressed for their urgent, hard, insistent pure electronic beats driving the music. Whether in the more in your face and up tempo signature pieces as ‘Metal and Flesh’, ‘Dirty’ or ‘Desolation Land’, or on the slower, more melancholic works such as ‘The Bell’ or ‘Respirer’. My goodness, how well did Regine Fetete’s abstractions describe in fragments such bittersweet worlds to marry with the music produced by Hugh Ashton, Robert Doran and Clive Pierce.

Hard Corps ‘Metal and Flesh’ 1990 CD

The CD was the first version of the album to appear, I received my copy by mail order on 19th September 1990 (having ordered it from an advert for Beat Route mail order back in August). The entry gives an earlier release date of 18th June 1990 though. I don’t know the background to the album and how it came to be. Seems to gather together earlier, harder and more melancholic tracks along with later period ones where the sound has softened a little over time. I have no idea if it is really as clear cut as that, but a I wonder if there was some kind of change, perhaps related to the period where the band’s period with Polydor must have soured and led to be a barren period of activity. 1986 in particular saw, for example, little if any live activity.

Hard Corps 'Metal and Flesh' 1990 CD - front cover design

^ Hard Corps ‘Metal and Flesh’ 1990 CD – front cover design

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