Erasure “It Doesn’t Have To Be Like That” 1987

Here’s my audio and visual reinterpretation of Erasure’s “why can’t we all just get along” opus. For this clip I have mangled the song’s original rather excellent video, with hopes that my liberties will be excused by those involved.

The remix was done almost exactly 30 years ago at the dawn of 1987, around the same time as Daniel Miller’s legendary lost Laibach mix, which would account for the presence of his EMS Vocoder 2000 in the studio.

The edit of this mix is unusual in that there is no edit at all for the first couple of minutes. Having looped a few bars of backing vocal over the rhythm section I enjoyed the resulting chord inversions so much I just let it run, even though the results were a tad dissonant for an Erasure track. In fact I got a phone call from Flood after delivering the mix, to warn me that this one “might not fly”, as he could imagine Vince Clarke gagging somewhat on the jazzy chord shapes. But it did fly, Vince didn’t gag…and here it is, pop pickers!

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Swans “Real Love” 1987

I’m back, mission accomplished: Arnold Turboust’s new album is in the can, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever worked on.

I flew out of Charles De Gaulle airport on November 12th, happy and satisfied. As we all know, 24 hours later a horrible atrocity was committed in Paris.

This one hits home particularly hard, partly because of my personal love for France and my friends there, and not least because many who lost their lives were enjoying a performance by a band of Southern California local heroes.

I have quite a few readers in France; if any of your family or friends were caught up in this tragedy, please accept my deepest condolences.

I’m posting this song again as a tribute to all those affected by this terrible event.

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.

The Bambi Slam “Happy Birthday (Yet Another)” 1987

This is from the end of ’87, one of the last sessions I did at the Guerilla Studio in Maida Vale. The band mainly seemed to comprise a Canadian chap named Roy, and was signed to Product Inc, the Mute subsidiary that also released the Swans output.

It isn’t a great song, probably not his best song, but listen to the way the overdriven guitar comes in. I was certainly to recall it a couple of years later when the new sound started to come out of Seattle.

Test Dept. “Terra Firma” 1987

A nice surprise: the lads called me up out of the blue, flew me to Belgium, got me ratarsed on that lethal cloudy brew they have over there, then threw me in the studio to record them for a couple of days. Flew Me and Threw Me…sounds like a Robin Thicke song. Somebody get Pharrell on the phone. Lawyers on standby.

I would say this is an unusual album on the “industrial” scale of things; not as overtly political as their previous output, it delves more into the politics of personal life, the power of tradition, the power of the feminine, the incontrovertible power of bagpipes. I like it a lot.

The song Current Affairs features your loyal servant banging away on the studio grand, while the crew man the drums in laid back mode. Somewhere somebody is watching Panorama…or is it Un Homme Et Une Femme

Renegade Soundwave “Cocaine Sex” 1987

Mute Records launched a new subsidiary called Rhythm King, a label that was to make a lot of noise over the next couple of years. Their message was loud and clear: DJs are making hit records now and they’re here to stay. As a longtime Jeremy Healy collaborator I was of course down with that.

The first signing was this trio of post punk refugees, three of the funniest and most talented characters I ever worked with: Gary Asquith, Danny Briottet and Carl Bonnie. Their song Cocaine Sex really blew the cobwebs out when I first heard it and I couldn’t wait to work on it. It had already been masterfully recorded by Paul Kendall but a bass sound courtesy of the Roland Juno 106 pulled things into focus.

Jah Wobble “Tradewinds” 1986

I found another great track Wobble did at Guerilla, which gives me a good excuse to write some more about him. For I was thinking about Wobble (as you do) and I had a far distant memory of the first time I saw him, when I was but a lad of 18.

The occasion was a Sex Pistols gig at the 100 Club in May 1976, attended by me and Jo Forty, with whom I had already launched a musical project later to be called The Lines. Like about half the audience at that concert, we were checking out the new gang in town. The other half was mostly the “Bromley Contingent” resplendent in their nascent punk fashions. One man stood out though as being more stylish than the rest, he may have been just a lad himself but it was almost as if Bryan Ferry had decided to join a church youth club. I also noticed that this was the one person in the room to whom John Lydon made a point of paying respect.

I found out who he was when Public Image put out their amazing first two albums, and 10 years later here I was working on this rather excellent track, again with Ollie Marland and Harry Beckett. I suppose I’m the one who should take the blame for the jack hammer snare sound, but that’s just how we rolled in the mid 80s.