It’s great to see some B-52s lovin’ going on at DM just now. As Richard has mentioned they’re a uniquely American band, and a serious gateway to trashy American kitsch-and-camp like John Waters and Russ Meyers. They’ve been known to inspire some extreme reactions in their fans too. Just take a look at this guy:
So buzzed was I by the reaction to my first Disco Argento mix (downloads maxed out on Soundcloud* - thanks guys!) that I decided to go digging through the vault of horror/disco cash-in records yet again to put together a follow-up. And so I give you… Disco Argento 2: The Sequel! As with most sequels, it feeds heavily off the original’s success while boldly pushing the concept into uncharted waters (the 1980s). I feel as if this time I got to truly express my vision, though it could be argued that I am over-indulging myself (twelve minutes of Pat Hodges?!).
I’m pretty chuffed to be able to put a few real gems on this mix - tracks like Stelvio Cipriani’s theme for Tentacles (actually called “Too Risky A Day For A Regatta”), Riz Ortolani’s energetic jazz-funk workout “Drinking Coco” from Cannibal Holocaust and the simply divine “New York One More Day” by Franisco DiMasi from the score for Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper (possibly the only passable excuse for that super sleazy film to exist). What is with these Italians and their fabulous soundtracks? It’s also the second appearance of the day for DM pal Matt Berry, heard here in his Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace guise as Todd Rivers, with an electrifying remix of his ode to thwarted passion “One Track Lover”. Here’s the tracklist in full:
FABIO FRIZZI Zombi 2 (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters)
FRANCISCO DI MASI New York One More Day (Disco Beard edit)
ROBERT RODRIGUEZ Police Station Assault
RIZ ORTOLANI Il Corpo Di Linda
TODD RIVERS One Track Lover (Synthia Remix)
FAT BOYS Are You Ready For Freddy?
FRANCIS HAINES The Trioxin Theme (aka Return Of The Living Dead Theme)
JOHN CARPENTER & ALAN HOWARTH The Duke Arrives/Barricade/Snake dialog
PAT HODGES Fly By Night (Midnight Mix)
RIZ ORTOLANI Drinking Coco
STELVIO CIPRIANI Tentacoli (aka Tentacles)
THE CHAMP’S BOYS ORCHESTRA Tubular Bells (Cosmic Mix)
‘Tis the season, and all that jazz. Halloween is my favourite time of year, so to help people get into an undead festive mood here’s the first of a couple of spookalicious mixes I will be sharing over the next few days. First up it’s my Disco Argento mix, a compilation of late 70s and early 80s horror movie-inspired discomania put together for Glasgow’s Menergy club. It features dancefloor versions of the themes from Phantasm, Friday the 13th, Dawn Of The Dead, Amittyville and Demons, some score tracks and a few soul horror cash-ins. It also comes with a rather snazzy (and exclusive) Thriller-inspired sleeve by top comic artist Frank Quitely too. Here’s the full tracklist:
Halloween II - John Carpenter
Cannibal Ferox - Fabio Frizzi
Zombi - Goblin
Amityville Frenzy - Lalo Schiffrin
Prom Night Theme - Zaza & Zitter
Phantasm - Captain Zorro
Phantasmagoria / Silver Sphere Disco - Fred Myrow & Malcolm Seagrave
NYC Theme - Budy-Maglione
Demons (Disco Beard Edit) - Claudio Simonetti
Friday The 13th Part III - Manfredini & Zager
Lust - Rinder & Lewis
Doin’ It In A Haunted House - Yvonne Cage
Disco Blood - The Vamps
Soul Dracula - Hot Blood
From the beginning “rave” was supposed to be a faceless musical form rebelling against the cock-and-coke excesses of 80s hair metal, and the drab “woe is me” insularity of indie rock. The emphasis was to be taken off the performer, and turned back onto the all-important audience who, in this new era of dancing and drug taking, were the true stars. For the most part this anonymity was the norm, to the point where acts became almost interchangeable, and the distinct whiff of novelty began to creep in. The name of the act with the rave version of “Hong Kong Phooey” may be lost to history now, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Despite face masks and aversion to Smash Hits interviews, there were a few acts of the rave era who managed to become recognisable brands in their own right. 808 State were arguably the first and definitely one of the best, building up a devoted fan base through relentless touring and a series of great albums and singles released at the tail end of the 80s and throughout the Nineties. You might not recognise any of these guys if they passed you in the street, but their music has become iconic in its own right.
The band formed in mid-80s Manchester around a nucleus of Factory stalwart Graham Massey, Eastern Bloc-owner Martin Price and Gerald Simpson, who would later leave to peruse his own successful career under the name A Guy Called Gerald. 808 State were one of the first acts to take rave out of the clubs and fields and into the British charts, and by extension the nation’s living rooms, with influential hits like “Pacific State” (a chill out classic and the birth of ambient house) and “Cubik” (whose riff is to dance music what “Louie Louie” is to rock’n'roll). Back in school in the early Nineties, a few of us would pass round a cassette of the 808 State album ex:el, its rock hard beats and swooshing synths fuelling our imaginations to what raving might actually be like, long before we ever could. Twenty years later and I know that we weren’t the only kids listening.
Now the Manchester pioneers have released a sort of-best of compilation that pulls together some of their career’s highlights alongside a bunch of unreleased bit-and-pieces, remixes and previously unreleased out-takes. 808 State were a huge influence on the second wave of UK dance pioneers from the mid-Nineties, like Autechre, Orbital, Future Sound Of London and Aphex Twin and even a quick scan through their list of non-dance collaborators proves the kind of respect the band command. Blueprint kicks off with a remix of 1988 “Flow Coma” by Aphex Twin, it features liner notes by Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll and elsewhere on the album you’ll find spots from Brain Eno, Bjork, Trevor Horn, Ian McCulloch, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Manic Street Preacher’s James Dean Bradfield.
Blueprint is a good album, and one recommended for long term fans and newcomers alike, though I’m still waiting for a straight-up greatest hits comp with the original extended 12” mixes of these classic tracks. Alternatively, I might just go and pick up the remastered, double CD packages of four of their original albums (90, ex:el, Gorgeous and Don Solaris), which have all been re-issued with bonus material and are available from the official 808 State website. The band are also currently giving away a free “21st Anniversary” remix of “Cubik”, which you can get right here:
808 State’s music still sounds great after all these years, whether you simply want to travel back to a different, more innocent, era or even if you want pumping-up, ready for action in the right now. The intro to “In Yer Face” (an all-time, hands down dance classic) is still chillingly prescient to this very day, a reminder that maybe the past wasn’t so innocent after all, that we’re still facing some of the very same problems today:
There are new forces in the world
A conflict between the generations
A powerful feeling that the American system
is failing to deal with the real threats to life…
Sweeeet - In preparation for his upcoming US tour, king of the boogie Dam Funk has made his forthcoming InnaFocusedDaze EP available as a free download. The 10” vinyl of InnaFocusedDaze will be released through Scion A/V in October, when Dam goes out on the road with his band Master Blazter - tour dates and more info on the EP can be found on the Stone’s Throw website. You can download the EP here, and just in case you need to be reminded of just how cool this cat is (he really IS king of the boogie) here’s a video for the EP’s lead track “Forever”:
I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with the Michael Alig/club kids story by now, but let’s face it, no matter how many times it is told it never fails to shock and entertain. Limelight is a new documentary which recounts the story yet again, but as opposed to Party Monster, Shockumentary or James St James’ excellent Disco Bloodbath book, the focus this time in on the Limelight club itself and its owner, the nightclub impresario Peter Gatien.
Gatien owned a string of venues in New York, Atlanta and London during the 80s and 90s, including the very successful Tunnel and Club USA in Times Square. The Limelight was perhaps the most notorious (due in no small part to the club kids’ involvement), and became the focus of Mayor Giuliani’s crackdown on the city’s night life and drug culture. Gatien made a fortune from his venues, but was found guilty of tax evasion in the late Nineties and deported to his native Canada. Gatien is interviewed in Limelight, along with a prison-bound Michael Alig and everyone’s favorite vegan porn-hound Moby (who describes the Limelight as being like “pagan Rome on acid”). The documentary is released on Friday, here’s the trailer:
More early 80s synthpunk madness, this time from South Florida’s Futurisk. These guys are pretty obscure and information on them is limited, but according to their website they formed in 1979 when teenager Jeremy Kolosine won some time in a recording studio, and their music was usually:
recorded by Richard Hess and the band in the rooms of Ron K’s house. The drum sound, gotten in a bathroom, rocks, even today. Reportedly, Futurisk may have been the 1st synth-punk band in the American South…or something, and 1981’s track ‘Push Me Pull You (pt. 2)’ was an early pre-‘Rockit’ excursion into electro-funk.
The revival of interest in the band was sparked when James Murphy included one of their tracks on a DFA mix for the French boutique Colette in 2003. Last year the Minimal Wave label released a retrospective of the band’s work called Player Piano, and earlier this year the band put out a remix 12” of the track “Lonely Streets”, one of whose remixes came from the mighty Chris Carter. Here’s a couple of videos of Futurisk in action:
Futurisk - “Meteoright”
After the jump the original video for the classic “Army Now”, and more Futurisk…
The Units were one of the first “rock” bands in America to ditch guitars completely and focus their set-up on drums, vocals and synthesisers. Leaders of San Francisco’s post-punk synth-led music scene (a lot of which is now resurfacing with the current interest in “Minimal Wave”) the comparisons with Devo are clear, but still don’t detract from The Units’ cracking tunes and tangible influence on the new wave generation. Tracks like “High Pressure Days” and “I-Night” are still sought after by record collectors and forward thinking DJs alike, mainly because they still rock.
During live shows, The Units would perform to a video accompaniment of re-edited instructional shorts and found footage called the “Units Training Films”. Some of these films have been recreated and uploaded to Vimeo by founder member Scott Ryser. While still being very much of their time, they are excellent and definitely rank alongside similar efforts by the likes of Church of The Subgenius. Ryser has this to say about them:
The “Unit Training Film #1”, produced by Scott Ryser and Rachel Webber in 1980, was compiled from films that the band projected during their live performances. The films were satirical, instructional films critical of conformity and consumerism, compiled from found footage, home movies, and obsolete instructional shorts. In 1979 and 1980, Rick Prelinger was a frequent contributor and occasional projectionist at the bands live performances in San Francisco. The film was also shown sans band in movie theaters around the San Francisco Bay Area including the Roxie Cinema, Cinematheque, Intersection Theater and the Mill Valley Film Festival .
There was never a set length or definitive “finished version” of the original Unit Training Film. Just the current version. The film varied in length from about 10 to 45 minutes, depending on how long the Units set was on any particular night. Clips were constantly being added and others were deleted and discarded once their condition became too poor to project any longer. The film was constantly breaking, and the projectionists always kept a roll of Scotch Tape nearby for timely repairs.
This 5 minute version, compiled by Scott Ryser, includes some clips of the band playing along with a brief interview by a very young Fred Willard during the period 1980 - 1982.
Who’d have thought Fred Willard was a fan?!
Here is “Unit Training Film 1: Warm Moving Bodies”
After the jump, “Units Training FIlm 2: Cannibals” plus some more classics by The Units…
Starring Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk, Billy Boyd and Carlo Rota, it’s based on Welsh’s novella, “The Undefeated”, taken from his book Ecstasy - Three Tales of Chemical Romance.
It’s 15 years since the film version of Trainspotting kicked in the doors and launched the careers of a young and new generation of talent, and while negotiations continue for its follow-up Porno, it’s hoped Ecstasy will be as good, if not better. Here’s hoping.
Here’s the most recent teaser for the Ecstasy, plus 2 others. For more information check here.
Alternative trailers for Irvine Welsh’s ‘Ecstasy’, after the jump…
As if it wasn’t weird enough that Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” got to number 2 on the British charts in 1981, here’s a really strange dance routine by Zoo from Top Of The Pops to accompany the vocodered, beatless wonder. YouTube uploader Sambda says:
“A spectacularly bad dance routine. An extreme example of “Top Of The Pops” choreographer Flick Colby’s habit of taking all lyrics (including obvious allegories) at face value. So we have to have a judge, a mom-and-dad etc. I suspect the only reason Superman himself didn’t appear was down to a rights issue.”
I think he may be onto something. It’s also worth watching for Peter Powell’s bizarre chain-mail sweater at the start:
Laurie Anderson - “O Superman” Top Of The Pops 1981