Made for a drive to work the other day.
I always rather liked Japan, and it is odd now to look back and remember the TV News reports asking, in the same way as for Boy George, whether David Sylvian was a man or a woman. This is a live album that was recorded on their last tour, 1982, and released in 1983 after the group hand split up. It is sort of semi-live as I think a lot of the parts were re-recorded afterwards and mixed in. Live albums are usually a best of, this one contains three new tracks though, “Oil on Canvas”, “Voices Raised in Welcome, Hands Held in Prayer” and “Temple of Dawn”, all of which are instrumentals and weren’t live at all. My copy is a double in a gate fold sleeve and the proper track listing is below.
- “Oil on Canvas” (instrumental studio recording) – 1:25
- “Sons of Pioneers” (Karn/Sylvian) – 4:59
- “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” – 6:41
- “Swing” – 5:36
- “Cantonese Boy” – 3:45
- “Visions of China” (Jansen/Sylvian) – 3:34
- “Ghosts” – 6:23
- “Voices Raised in Welcome, Hands Held in Prayer” (instrumental studio recording) (Jansen/Sylvian) – 3:30
- “Nightporter” – 6:47
- “Still Life in Mobile Homes” – 5:37
- “Methods of Dance” – 6:07
- “Quiet Life” – 4:34
- “The Art of Parties” – 5:28
- “Canton” (Jansen/Sylvian) – 5:43
- “Temple of Dawn” (instrumental studio recording) (Barbieri) – 1:45
There is only one good UB40 album and this is it. All the soppy covers that followed this come nowhere near, not by a black country mile. I first heard this album at a girlfriends house and it was way outside the sort of thing I was listening to at the time (think long haired teenager, very early eighties, knew all the lyrics to ‘Suppers Ready’ by Genesis). To me it feels like they had one good album in them, the debut, the one all bands take a lifetime to write before it is committed to vinyl, from Tyler to Signing off it emits quality and reeks of authenticity (there’s the accompanying 12″ as well with ‘Madam Medusa’, ‘Strange Fruit’ and ‘Reefer Madness’).
I wouldn’t say that this album converted me in any major way, but it was part of a collection of different albums that opened my mind and ears to different types of music and made my listening much more eclectic.
Sometime in the 80’s (I think it was 1987) I saw Bob Dylan at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a little odd as the support act, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, did a long set that lasted about an hour and a half and then Dylan came on with the Heartbreakers as his backing band and did about an hour. At the time I was a bit disappointed, but I have subsequently managed to get a bootleg recording of the gig and it is a much better gig than I remember it being. I think that one of the reasons is that I was listening to ‘Desire’ a lot at the time and they didn’t play a single track from it, so it was my own expectations that were at fault more than anything.
‘Desire’ is one of my favourite Dylan albums, and I have a copy on CD, but £4 for a decent vinyl copy was a must really.
It’s 1977, and I know absolutely nothing about this album or about who the band where. It wasn’t until 1979 (I was approaching 12 years old) when ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ appeared and I loved it immediately, and still do. It initially came as a massive disappointment to me that it wasn’t on this album, and it isn’t on any album (unless you look at later collections or expanded editions, but back in the day, we didn’t have those) but the tracks here are fabulous, including what is probably the most well known, ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock And Roll’, which is, after all, all a brain and body needs.
I went to see Ian Dury and the Music Students at the Oxford Apollo sometime in 1984 I think it was, but I never saw the Blockheads, which was a shame as the tracks from ‘4,000 weeks Holiday’, the only album Dury made with the Music Students, were pretty good but not as good as with the Blockheads. On a side note, I happen to think both the front and back cover images are brilliant.
Clearly I’m a bit bored, however, ideas born from boredom are not necessarily a bad thing, although this one might very well be. I have a Head tote bag, it cost me £1 and it’s just right for vinyl, so, here is a new thing called, “What’s in the bag?” Here is the bag in question:
And inside the bag today is……………………………………………………….
That’s right, The Stranglers IV, which it wasn’t, it was their first album and it was called ‘Rattus Norvegicus’, ornery buggers The Stranglers are, but this is a brilliant début, released in April 1977. I have a copy already but it is completely knackered so I bought another for £3.50 on Saturday.
Yes it’s sexist, misogynistic perhaps and a bit nasty here and there, well, starting the album with the lyric “Someday I’m gonna smack your face”, to a girlfriend does set the tone a bit, but if you can get past that the songs have a drive about them, a griminess, they are, as they were later to write, nice and sleazy. Give it a listen if you never have, or listen again if it’s been a while:
Back at the tail end of 2011 I went to see Gary Numan at The Assembly in Leamington Spa. It wasn’t until over half way through that it was announced that two of the band hadn’t turned up, I hadn’t really noticed the absence, so they’d done a pretty good job. There’s a video below from that gig that somebody took and below that is the set list for that night.