I’ve had to slow down with my music purchases, as otherwise I’ll need to buy a bigger house soon. Couldn’t resist ‘one or two’ items of interest though.
Firstly, Blancmange. Yes, the very same lot who graced us in the 80s with classic albums like Mange Tout and Happy Families. Neil and Stephen have provided us with Happy Families too (subtitled ‘the story so far’) , which, as you might guess is a complete re-recording of their debut album.
This is actually the second time I’ve bought Happy Families too. The first, was at their gig last November in Clitheroe (not that far from where Neil Arthur hails), when I eagerly parted with cash for a copy of what was then a limited edition release, only available at their concerts.
As it’s rather good, with some excellent new versions of classics such as ‘Living On The Ceiling’ and Gods Kitchen’, then it was only fair that the rest of the world should be able to sample this album, so in stepped Cherry Red records (who specialise in re-issues and the like) to issue an ‘expanded’ version of Happy families too, which includes a brand new track, ‘Running Thin’, which is certainly not out of place among more familiar tracks, and four remixes of their re-recorded tracks. Of those, the Greg Wilson and Derek Kaye mix of ‘Feel Me’ extends the track brilliantly into eight and half minutes of 80s style nostalgia that again isn’t out of place in today’s market. In addition, Vince Clarke’s remix of ‘Living On The Ceiling’ is just that, vintage Vince Clarke.
The original ten track CD remains a rarity, and I’m pleased that the rest of you have the opportunity to listen to one of the finest bands to come out of Darwen (well, one half of the duo anyway). So don’t be daft, feel free to purchase…
Blancmange are also rather good live, despite the fact that Stephen Luscombe is too ill to perform. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who has such good rapport with his audience as Neil Arthur. I’m just waiting for Cherry Pop to re-issue his solo album now…
Incidently, you can also buy the original Happy Families, from 1982, in expanded form, with original 12” versions and b sides and all that.
And how about a bit of Grace Jones? ‘Nightclubbing’ has always been regarded as a classic dance music album, but now that this, too, is out again on CD in expanded format (and download) then it’s only fair that it too found it’s way through the old letter-box. There’s not only the regular album mix of the brilliant ‘Pull Up to The Bumper’ to get through, but also the ‘long version’, the ‘remixed version’, a ‘party version’ and the ‘1985 remix’, none of which outstay their welcome. There are a host of other remixes (some previously unreleased) and B sides too.
Finally, German production duo Blank & Jones have got their hands on the ZTT archive and have, as part of their ‘So 80s’ series, reconstructed (as opposed to remixed) some of the more fabulous tracks from the label’s archive…or rather Frankie Goes To Hollywood, with a couple from Propaganda and one from The Art of Noise to add to the equation.
All of the FGTH hits are there, along with a couple of other surprise tracks, alongside the brilliant ‘Dr.Mabuse, and ‘Duel’ from their German stablemates, and ‘Moments in Love’ from the ZTT house band. A good thing about Blank & Jones mixes is that they don’t destroy the originals, neither now nor with previous releases, of which there have been many, and do stick close to originals. Here they have redesigned the mixes in the style that they would have been re-mixed in the 80s, and extended many of them to boot. The 2CD set is fantastic, with the sound quality stunning. At times they do sound far more ‘polished’ than the 80s originals did, but their strength remains the fact that they still sound like mixes ZTT would have put out. All in all excellent ‘alternative’ mixes to the original 12” versions, although it would be impossible to better the originals (Two Tribes ‘annihiliation’ mix anyone?)
You can get all these issues at your local record store or online at places such as aamzon.
And finally, most gracious thanks to The Electricity Club’s Chi, who kindly sent me issue one of Classic Pop magazine recently