Here’s another one of those bands who were talked up as the height of cool in the music press (I’m so old, I actually remember the music press) but never quite broke through and ended up splitting before they could achieve their full potential. One Dove were compared to other female-fronted alt-dance bands like Saint Etienne and Dubstar, though they were slightly more dubby and dancefloor-oriented, which may be why they didn’t pick up quite the same following. Nevertheless, their one proper album Morning Dove White (1993) is a cracker, and a more-or-less completed but never-issued second album can be found on certain other blogs.
What I’m sharing today is their last proper single, which was aimed at the christmas market. Think “last dance at the office party”. A rather quiet little number which attracted very little attention, though it did come with a couple of proper B-sides.
Link: One Dove – Why Don’t You Take Me (password: salad)
1. Why Don’t You Take Me (Andrew Weatherall album version)
4. Why Don’t You Take Me (Rank Outsiders mix)
5. Why Don’t You Take Me (Stephen Hague mix)
Is it just me, or did Cocteau Twins always have a bit of a wintery vibe about them? In any case, in 1993 they put this pair of cover versions out as a very limited edition. Limited because they didn’t want to accidentally have a big hit with it and for this to be the single that everybody would know them for, forevermore. Probably wise.
In 1993, Sub Pop, then probably the coolest record label on the planet, sent their mailing list a Christmas card with a CD inside. I’m guessing that had this CD contained material by one of Sub Pop’s alt-rock signings, most obviously Nirvana, but Sebadoh or Afghan Whigs would do at a pinch, this CD would probably change hands nowadays for a lot more money than it actually does. As it is, less than ten dollars will secure you a copy, probably with the card itself attached too. It seems lounge revivalists Combustible Edison just aren’t that collectible…
Anyway, here are the two tracks featured on that CD. Well, they were given away for free in the first place, after all. Apparently, “Christmas Time Is Here” is a seasonal standard in the USA, but I’d never heard of it, and until I looked into the story of Combustible Edison last year, I’d assumed it was an original song. How wrong I was… Wikipedia lists a whole heap of other versions, noticeably all by North Americans. We just don’t have that song in the UK. I think the Charlie Brown christmas special which introduced it in 1965, may have been shown here at nine in the morning once in 1991.
Anyway, “Christmas Time Is Here” is the less interesting of the two tracks. Much better is their inventive arrangement of “Sleigh Ride”. We in the UK do know “Sleigh Ride”, mainly through the Ronettes version, but Combustible Edison’s version is a pleasing contrast to Phil Spector‘s wall of sound. A surprisingly minimal arrangement (no strings or brass in this version) and seemingly delivered with a determination not to maintain the same combination of instruments for more than eight bars in a row, it fairly breezes along and even survives the uncharacteristic cheesiness of the brief vocal interjections (“Giddy up!”). Delightful.
This is the “Jamscraper” mix of “Mmm… Skyscraper I Love You” by Underworld, with the snappily-titled “Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (After Sky Id6 1551 2)” (basically, a demo version of the coda from the standard single/LP mix) edited onto the end for 14 minutes of… stuff.
First released 1992, but the single I’m sharing here is the reissue from 1993.
Sharing thirteen versions of this song, is definitely overkill. I had planned to share a three-track single and then got carried away and started gathering all the versions I have. I will highlight my favourites as we go along…
The song in question is “Tokyo Wa Yoru No Shichiji” (literally “7pm in Tokyo”, but known in English as “The Night Is Still Young”), a 1993 single which was the first major release by Japanese alt-dance oddments Pizzicato Five after they’d slimmed down to a duo of Maki Nomiya and Yasuharu Konishi. It’s one of their straighter club dance tracks, rather than one of their quirky “modern retro” things like “Twiggy Twiggy” or “Baby Love Child”. At this stage they were still unknown in the West but the single would eventually appear on Matador’s second P5 compilation, The Sound Of Music, where I first heard it. The original version is still a favourite…
Link: Pizzicato Five – The Night Is Still Young (single version) – recommended pick!
The original single also featured an instrumental version (which I don’t have) and this mellower remix by Yukihiro Fukutomi:
Then in 1994, they revisited it in two very different versions. On the EP “A Television’s Workshop”, they did it in a more disco arrangement with rhythm guitar and strings. Nice! I suspect that if P5 themselves had to choose a definitive version, this might be the one. Probably the most immediately likeable version as well.
Link: Pizzicato Five – The Night Is Still Young (MFSB Readymade Mix) – recommended pick!
The other 1994 version was this remix (by Fukutomi again) which appeared on their album Overdose:
In 1995, during a promotional tour for The Sound Of Music, the duo did this live acoustic version for KCRW Los Angeles.
Link: Pizzicato Five – The Night Is Still Young (KCRW acoustic session) – recommended pick!
And when P5 finally split in 2001, their farewell compilation Pizzicato Five RIP (on their Japanese label Nippon Columbia, not Matador) featured yet another remix.
Since the split, both halves of the duo have revisited the song solo. Yasuharu was first, producing this 2006 version for his protege Karia Nomoto, aka Karly. “The First Cut” is the album version (the album being Dance Music, which I will share at some point), and is somewhere between the original and the Readymade MFSB arrangements:
Maki Nomiya waited a bit longer, and then put versions of “The Night Is Still Young” on four consecutive albums! The deluge started in 2012 when she marked 30 years in the business we call show by recording an album of “self covers”, including this:
I’m not sure that really adds anything to the previous versions. However, Nomiya’s more recent takes on the song, actually do something different with it. First is the swing arrangement on her 2014 live album Miss Maki Nomiya Sings Shibuya-kei Standards:
Link: Maki Nomiya – The Night Is Still Young (live) – recommended pick!
…which she also did a studio recording of for her 2015 album What The World Needs Now Is Love.
And her most recent re-invention of the song is this distinctively Japanese “bon odori” version, tacked on as a bonus track to her 2016 album Un Homme Et Une Femme. It’s a little bit cheesy, but an interesting twist all the same.
Another bit of 90s dance dedicated to my jogging pals, this time from D:Ream, which though other people flitted around the sidelines, was essentially the nom-de-disque of one Peter Cunnah. Despite poppy numbers like “Shoot Me With Your Love” and the number one smash “Things Can Only Get Better”, he was just about able to cling onto some shred of club credibility thanks to some harder-edged remixes, such as those provided here by Leftfield (yes, them again).
D:ream’s debut album D:Ream On, Vol. 1 (clever wording, cheers) had a ridiculous number of singles lifted from it, partly because at the end of its initial singles campaign, a last-ditch reissue of “Things Can Only Get Better” became a massive hit, leading to the album being reissued in a new cover, and the launch of what was effectively a whole new promotional cycle. “Unforgiven” was one of the singles from the original campaign, achieving a readily-neglected no.29 chart placing.
While Cunnah tended to use the “D:reamix” name for his own remixes, it wasn’t until the second album and its lead single “Shoot Me With Your Love” that he hit upon the idea of flipping it around and having a “Re:Deamix”… too late, Pete, too late…
D:Ream – Unforgiven (1993 CD single)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (7″ D:Reamix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (Sine 7″ Edit)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (12″ D:reamix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (Leftfield Hands Mix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (EMF 7″ Mix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (Leftfield Hard Mix)
Time for some whimsical semi-acoustic Aussie indiepop from Frente!. No surprise that someone who loves The Cardigans as much as I do, would also have a soft spot for this lot – especially their early EPs. This seven-tracker from 1993 was a kind of introduction to Frente! for the international audience and draws on songs already released in Australia, some of them, including the title track, being remade for this release.
The Melbourne band never really made much impact here in the UK (their second album “Shape” seemed to be in every bargain bin for about a decade) but they had a decent run in their homeland and also dented the US charts with their version of New Order‘s “Bizarre Love Triangle”, which is included here. Also here is their version of “Not Given Lightly”, originally recorded solo by Chris Knox of New Zealand oddmeisters Tall Dwarfs.
Frente!: Labour of Love EP
Link: Frente! – Labour of Love
Link: Frente! – Testimony
Link: Frente! – Not Given Lightly
Link: Frente! – Risk
Link: Frente! – Paper, Bullets, Walls
Link: Frente! – Bizarre Love Triangle
Link: Frente! – Oh Brilliance