Not a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure. So many of my best musical memories from the early 90s are in the realm of “faceless dance music”, and I think this has to be one of the most likeable choons (not necessarily tunes, but choons) of the era. The biggest hit by Matthew Nelson and John Fernandez, alias Slipmatt and Lime, alias SL2, it leans heavily on a scatted vocal refrain sampled from Jah Screechy‘s 1986 dancehall track “Walk And Skank”.
One a great number of ace floorfillers released by XL Recordings back in the day. And to think that these days people just know XL for Adele…
Link: SL2 – On A Ragga Tip (password: salad)
1. On A Ragga Tip (edit)
3. Changing Trax
4. On A Ragga Tip (full length)
Courtesy of a belated 1992 release on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs‘ Caff label, here are some early (1985) recordings by artypopmeisters World Of Twist, or an early version of World of Twist anyway, with future lead singer Tony Ogden on drums, Gordon King on guitar and a bunch of other people who didn’t stick around to the better-known line-up.
“The Sausage” is a retro instrumental, like the weird extended version of a 1970s sitcom theme, and “Skidding Into Love” is, slightly surprisingly, a very of-its-time catchy guitar pop song. Only “Space Rockit” really hints at the glammed-up sound World Of Twist would be touting during their early-90s flirtation with microfame, but all three songs are worth hearing.
Incidentally, if you look at the (admittedly rubbish) sleeve on the right, you’ll notice the credit “engineered by jive bunny”… which amazingly is true! Well, it wasn’t engineered by a cartoon rabbit, but it was done by the guys who went on to mastermind that project.
Link: World Of Twist – The Sausage (password: salad)
1. The Sausage
2. Skidding Into Love
3. Space Rockit
I may be (cough) slightly over 21 now, but I’m still quite keen on records having the quality that there’s no chance my parents would ever understand them. Such as this pioneering progressive house instrumental. I loved this in 1992 and I love it now, and I remain thrilled that it is completely incomprehensible.
It’s been remixed quite a lot since – officially and otherwise – but none of the mixes have come close to the original pairing here: Simon Slater’s original “Naked mix” is the definitive classic, and Darren Emerson’s remix (his debut!) spins it out to 14 minutes. There is a radio edit of Emerson’s mix here too, but it’s a bit useless, since the long slow gradual changes are the whole point.
It’s just struck me that since a bunch of the blogs listed over on the right do a “Monday Long Song”, you can consider the D.Emerson mix my contribution to that, if you want. It wasn’t intentional.
Link: Gat Decor – Passion (password: salad)
1. Passion (Naked Mix edit)
2. Passion (D.Emerson Mix edit)
3. Passion (Naked Mix)
4. Passion (D.Emerson Mix)
I’ve mentioned Ruth’s Refrigerator before in connection with Ruth Miller’s other band Po!, and here’s a full LP. A supergroup made up of various luminaries from the Leicester art-rock scene, they issued two albums, of which this from 1992 is the second. In a way, they actually released three albums, since the vinyl and CD editions of A Lizard Is A Submarine On Grass are almost completely different recordings. This is the vinyl version, which also has an exclusive song, a cover of Wire‘s “Outdoor Miner”. Everybody was covering that song in the 1990s.
This is lo-fi indiepop, quite twee with often nonsensical lyrics. In the case of “Examine The Insects And Hit Them”, the song had featured on their first album Suddenly A Disfigured Head Parachuted as an instrumental, with flippant non-appearing, unmetrical, lyrics on the inlay, and then they re-recorded it for this album using those lyrics. The other songs, I have no explanation for.
Link: Ruth’s Refrigerator – A Lizard Is A Submarine On Grass (vinyl version) (password: salad)
1. Moulted Fur From A Labrador
3. Gosh, What A Lot Of Umbrellas
4. Duck Pond
5. What We Waited for And Where It Was At
6. Ducklings #1
8. Examine The Insects And Hit Them
9. Ducklings #2
10. Accordian Music
11. Mr Misery
12. Outdoor Miner
13. My Head’s On Fire
14. Barry Baked Bean Is Back
15. And One More Thing
16. A Science Bar
It’s the series where I post three songs on a common theme. Today’s theme is finding out your childhood sweetheart who you’ve lost touch with has become famous when you see their picture in a magazine. Yeah, it’s a bit mundane but I guess it had to come up sometime.
So here we have three songs telling very much the same story, but each one taking their creators’ signature approach. So Kraftwerk are disapassionately robotic about it…
Link: Kraftwerk – The Model
While The J. Geils Band give it the bombastic American rock treatment…
And Thomas Dolby makes it into something about the cold war because… y’know, it’s Thomas Dolby…
And all of these songs became popular in 1981-2. Kraftwerk’s is older (it’s from their 1978 album The Man-Machine) but became a hit in 1981 after it was used as the throwaway B side to “Computer Love”, only to be picked up by Wonderful Radio One and become much better known. Although interestingly, when BBC Four did a documentary about Kraftwerk a couple of years ago, it didn’t mention “The Model” at all… yet we got “Talk” by Coldplay pretty much in full because it copied the riff from “Computer Love”. Interesting editorial decisions there…
Airhead consisted of Michael Wallis (songwriting, vocals, guitar), Steven Marshall (keyboards), Ben Kesteven (bass) and Sam Kesteven (drums). They launched onto the scene with a couple of baggy-influenced singles, “Congratulations” and “Scrap Happy” under the name Jefferson Airhead, but had to shorten the moniker after it prompted a stiffly worded letter from Jefferson Airplane‘s legal bods, complaining that the group were mocking their trademark (which in all fairness, they clearly were).
The album includes both those singles plus additional 45s “Funny How”, “Counting Sheep” and “Right Now”. This is actually the second issue of the album, which adds an extra song, “Easy”, and a second version of “Funny How”. In retrospect I’d say it hasn’t stood up that well, but it’s a nice time capsule from before this kind of indiepop came to feel a bit generic.
Link: Airhead – Boing! (password: salad)
- Scrap Happy
- I Might Fall
- Right Now
- Funny How (single version)
- Counting Sheep
- I Don’t Mind
- Wish You Were Here
- Isn’t It Rich
- Everybody Needs
- Funny How (original version)
First released 1992, but the single I’m sharing here is the reissue from 1993.
I don’t need to tell you much about the lead track, considering it’s one of their best-known singles, but in brief: non-album single released for christmas 1981; a cover of Labi Siffre‘s equally charming 1971 original; made #4 in the UK and snuck into the US top 40 on the coat-tails of “Our House”.
On this issue it’s supported by three excellent B-sides: “Bed And Breakfast Man”, the single-that-never-was from the One Step Beyond album; “Never Ask Twice” from the “Shut Up” 12″ single, here re-titled “Airplane”; and “Don’t Quote Me On That” from the “Nightboat To Cairo”-led Work Rest and Play EP, wherein Chas Smash responds to the idiot journos who accused the group of being supporters of the National Front, while the band get into the ska-funk groove thang behind him. I think the last two songs might have been making their CD debut.
Sunny for two days in a row… incredible.
Here’s a delightfully twee seaside-themed EP from 1992 by Confetti, which is Mark Randall of Fat Tulips and someone called Virginia Aeroplane, which I’d like to think is her real name, but probably isn’t. The EP had the overall title Sea AnemonE.P. and they followed it with PresentlE.P. (covering three songs by The Wedding Present) and eventually put out their collected works as a CD titled RetrospectivelE.P. Though it seems most people didn’t get the pun on that last one, given that every online reference I can find, leaves out the “l” and just calls it Retrospective EP. They should have used a serif font so it didn’t look like a vertical dividing line instead. On such tiny details do throwaway gags live or die.
When I first heard Confetti, I thought their minimal style was rather unusual and striking. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Young Marble Giants…
Well, it looks like summer’s back for a bit, so let’s break out this one from 1992. A load of other acts have done dance versions of this song since, but this was the one they’re all copying. Indeed, Opus III vocalist Kirsty Hawkshaw has done at least two separate remakes herself, each with several trillion remixes, but back in 1992 Opus III were actually surprisingly restrained, offering just three mixes and a B-side for this one…
Opus III “It’s A Fine Day” (PWL CD single, 1992)
Link: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day (edit)
Link: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day (full length)
Link: Opus III – Evolution Rush
Link: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day (acappella)
The song is of course a cover version, the original being this fully acappella rendering credited simply to Jane on its original release (though at various times also to Jane and Barton or Barton and Jane, in recognition of songwriter and general mastermind of the project Ed Barton), issued on Cherry Red in 1983: