Sting “Set Them Free” (Torch Song version) 1985

Torch Song and Sting did a few sessions together around 84-85, until he decided to ship out to the Caribbean and make his album there. This is the one track that was almost completed, although it lacks the middle eight added to the final version.

It was decided to include this version on the 12″, and I got to do the mix, my first major mix to be released. I can’t take too much credit for it though as William Orbit had practically mixed it onto the multitrack tape.

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Laibach “Steel Trust” 1990

Sometime late in ’89 Laibach asked me to join them in Paris, where they were working on new material with French songsmith Bertrand Burgalat. This was too intriguing to pass up and I hopped over La Manche without further ado.

What I heard there was a most interesting hybrid of the Laibach vibe and French chanson. That may sound like a complete contradiction, but I happened to know about this propensity of theirs from a francophile mix tape they had given me a few years earlier while preparing the Opus Dei album. For their new work, to be titled Kapital, they wanted this French influence to help underline the album’s theme of the seductive language of capitalism.

Unfortunately the proximity and intensity of their work in Paris caused some tensions to arise between Bertrand and the lads from Ljubljana, and by the time we convened at Mute headquarters to mix the album they were having severe problems working together. Although I thought the mixes were sounding good, these tensions worsened to the point that the work was abandoned. I was gutted, although after my earlier experience with their rejection of the fabulous The Normal remix of Life is Life it wasn’t the biggest surprise.

I thought all of the work lost forever. The CD of Kapital I eventually heard didn’t include any of it; I recently discovered that this one song was included on the vinyl version, which makes that edition something of an industrial Smiley Smile in my book.

After that I stopped paying any attention to Laibach until earlier this year when I began this blog, and I found a heartening and inspiring performance they did just a few months ago in Sweden. Just like me, maybe their “silver fox” years will be their best!

Dominique Dalcan “Comment Faut-Il Faire?” 1990

What the heck, I’m going to mess with the timeline again, this time to jump forward, because I rediscovered this song and I think it’s pretty damn great.

There is more to write about 1989, including sessions with Dusty Springfield, as you shall hear. But around this time I am tiring of my subterranean existence and beginning to take fewer studio assignments. Tony Visconti certainly saw the writing on the wall when he closed down his large studio. By the end of the 80s anybody with a cheap computer, a sampler and a synth could make a good enough track in the comfort of their living room, and many were abandoning the studios to do just that.

This blog will similarly slow down some, as I have an Arnold Turboust album to finish. Bear with me though dear reader, for there is still much to tell.

So let’s jump off the Time Tunnel in late 1990, when I was in Belgium to do some mixes for the excellent Dominique Dalcan, who played and sang everything on this song. It was released on the Crammed Discs label run by Marc Hollander; this is a label that has given me a lot of pleasure over the years, not least with its very first release Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine back in the late 70s.

Also major props to Mr Henry Rollins, who played a track from Onze Danses on his KCRW radio show recently, making a Sunday evening drive to the supermarket an unusually magical experience.

Pankow “Germany Is Burning” 1989

You might not expect a hard-hitting electronic band like Pankow to emerge from the historic city of Florence, Italy. As I discovered though, there are two sides to Florence. The incredible old town is practically unchanged from the days of Leonardo, but sprawling off down the valley is an industrial new town.

This genial and dedicated collective had done a lot of good work with the estimable Adrian Sherwood, and it was an honour to do some mixes for them. The enchanting environs and friendly company made this project memorably pleasant.

Renegade Soundwave “The Phantom (It’s In There)” 1988

The Renegades left Rhythm King and were beamed up to the Mute mother ship, fitted with Flood, set for stardom. I still got to do the odd session with them though, and one of the first in the new Mute Studio on Harrow Road was this fab floor filler, which did the rounds as a white label for a while before its official release on the B side of Space Gladiator. A Rico personal fave.

Three Wize Men “Cruising For A Bruising” 1987

An earlier Rhythm King session from the end of ’87, this featured the late great Matthew Ashman of Bow Wow Wow on guitar*. An interesting mashup of influences, perhaps not altogether successful but I think you’ll agree that an entertaining video came out of it. And who can forget the immortal couplet :

It is the sound of the inner city…it ain’t The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

*The linked Bow Wow Wow clip is, in my opinion, the best music video of all time.

Bomb The Bass “Megablast Rap” 1988

When I got back to London, after the long stint in France and Belgium in the first months of 1988, it was a different place.

To begin with, after 6 years Guerilla Studio had moved out of Maida Vale and into temporary digs in Hampstead, en route to a 10 year spell in Crouch End. More significantly though, there was a full blown revolution going on, the likes of which hadn’t been seen in over 10 years. I went down to Heaven in Charing Cross, just a few weeks previously a hangout for hipster funkateers. Now the scene was like some futuristic Satyricon, a nightly bacchanal. Most significantly, exclusivity was out, inclusivity was in, and the punters were lining up around the block.

And the music, of course, was amazing. I doubt anyone ever forgets their first blast of Acid House on a big sound system. That shit is so powerful you don’t even need the drugs.

Rhythm King Records weren’t releasing much Acid House but they had already scored a number one hit with the fabulous Theme From S’Express. When I got back to London I wasted no time renewing my acquaintance with label boss Martin Heath, and the first assignment he gave me was with whiz kid DJ Tim Simenon and rapper MC Merlin.

I can’t remember exactly what I did on this session, it may just have been an edit, but a couple of memories have stuck with me. Firstly, this was the first time I felt any kind of generational divide, me having reached the grand old age of 30 and my two clients being in their teens.

My son Tom (who some readers may know as Verb T), 7 at the time, was already a massive hip hop fan. So it was good to show him that daddy-o was hip to the scene.

My second memory is that this was the first time I ever used an Apple computer. I was impressed.