Music

The best five Madonna remixes…

madonna

Another personal top five following last weeks’ INXS one. The only criteria I used is enjoyability, so the technical aspects of each remix (ie, how, where or by whom it was remixed, what instruments or digital effects were or weren’t added / removed, etc are not relevant)…it’s all down to how much I enjoy each track.

5.EVERYBODY (Rusty Egan UK 12” Mix) .Not on everyone’s list, especially not Madonna herself, as she didn’t particularly like what Rusty Egan did with her first single. His remix (and his dub mix on the flip side) isn’t a radical departure from the original, but differ enough to warrant more than the odd listen. His great mixes (along with the 7” edits) have still only ever been released in a small quantity in the UK and they are unlikely ever to get a CD release. The 7” Rusty Egan edit mixes are actually harder to track down that the 12”, and if you have a 7” pressing that has a Rusty Egan credit on it then you have the rarest pressing of all.

MADONNA Everybody Rusty Egan UK 12″ mix

4. BORDERLINE (U.S mix / New Mix). Jellybean extended his own mix for this 1984 release without taking away any of the beauty of one of Madonna’s best–loved tracks from her debut album. Surprisingly hard to track down if you’re wanting a CD copy of this, it was entitled ‘New Mix’ in the States, but renamed ‘U.S. Mix’ for its’ European releases. The mix on the ‘B’ side of the 12” has been called ‘instrumental’ and ‘dub’ mix in different territories and at different times.

MADONNA Borderline 12″ mix

3. OPEN YOUR HEART (Extended version) Steve Thompson pulls it off yet again. Everything Thompson touched in the mid 80s seemed to turn to gold, and here is an example from 1986 of a fairly decent single / album track being extended in conjunction with Michael Barbiero in all directions into an exciting, danceable extended version that lasts almost eleven minutes.

MADONNA Open Your Heart (extended version)

2. DRESS YOU UP (12” Formal mix) Another Jellybean mix that makes a decent 7” into a more exciting, danceable mix. The engineer on this mix, Michael Hutchinson, worked on several of his own remixes by acts such as INXS, Swing Out Sister & Jody Watley. If only we had some really good deluxe-issues of Madonna’s early albums we would be able to hear mixes such as this more often. Sadly there is little chance of these ever materialising.

MADONNA Dress You Up 12″ Formal mix

1.CAUSING A COMMOTION (Silver Screen Mix). Released in 1987 as the second single from the ‘Who’s That Girl’ album,, Causing a Commotion wouldn’t even make my top 10 individual Madonna tracks. However legendary remixers Shep Pettiboneand Junior Vasquez manage to make this otherwise forgettable hit into a freestyle (‘Miami disco’ if you live in the UK) classic. Much stronger than the other mixes released on 12”, this mix is also available on what was Madonna’s first cassette single to be released in the UK.

MADONNA Causing A Commotion Silver Screen 12″ mix

Also worth listening to, if you get chance, are the three ‘dub’ mixes of ‘Like A Prayer’ that only ever appeared on a U.S. promo 12”: Shep Pettibone’s ‘Instra-dub’ and ‘Bass-dub’ and Bill Bottrell’s ‘Dub beats’. Also, if you’re a Madonna collector in the UK then www.madonna-decade.co.uk/ is the most complete site you’ll ever need (along with discogs.com of course)

THE BEST FIVE REMIXES… INXS

INXS

5.NEVER TEAR US APART (VIDEO SOUNDTRACK) There was a multitude of different formats you could choose from in the UK when INXS put out the umpteenth single from their mega-selling album ‘Kick’ in 1987: 7”, 7” picture disc, 12”, 12” gatefold, 10”, CD single & CD video- all of them containing the regular three minute album version. The video soundtrack however contains an extended instrumental introduction to complement the scenery in and around Prague where the clip was shot. This introduction entirely enhances the track and could easily have been added as an ‘extended version’ to any of the formats. To date, it still hasn’t seen the light of day on any of the subsequent single releases or expanded reissues of ‘Kick’. Come to think of it, there has been a truly complete ‘Kick’ ‘deluxe’ edition that contains ALL the mixes and remixes from that era (the two Nile Rodgers mixes of ‘Calling All Nations’ are still there in the vaults, somewhere)

NEVER TEAR US APART

  1. BURN FOR YOU (EXTENDED VERSION)

Burn For You was never released as a single in the UK, but did receive a release in many other territories around the world, reaching number 3 on the Austrialian singles chart. Nick Launay, who worked on several INXS tracks in the mid ‘80s worked his magic on what was already a fine album track from ‘The Swing’, without ever deviating from the original.

BURN FOR YOU

  1. NEED YOU TONIGHT (MENDELSOHN MIX)

After the single bombed first time round in the UK, the re-issued single included a fine seven minute extended remix by Julian Mendelsohn. This mix has since been overshadowed by another subsequent remix by Ben Liebrand, which is also a great mix, turning the three minute track into a dance-floor classic. Mendelsohn’s mix, however, retains the moody, sultry groove and is undoubtedly the best mix of any INXs song from the ‘Kick’ era. Interestingly, UK chart rules at the time limited single formats to 20 minutes in length in order to qualify for chart returns, so the CD single format contained a truncated 5 minute version of the Mendelsohn mix in order to fit two bonus tracks onto the CD. There is also a further shortened Mendelsohn 7” edit that first appeared on UK 7” promos.

NEED YOU TONIGHT

  1. TO LOOK AT YOU (EXTENDED VERSION)

Remixed by Andrew and John Farriss themselves, one of the stand-out tracks from 1982s ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ was extended into an even finer moody, synth-laden beast. The extended version was one of four tracks on the North American ‘Dekadance’ EP alongside The One Thing and Black & White extended versions and a ‘new version’ of Here Comes II (which itself was a ‘new’ version of Here Comes).

TO LOOK AT YOU

  1. TASTE IT (YOUTH 12” MIX)

In an era when the ‘remix’ suddenly started to became all about some aspiring DJ turning a song into something that sounded nothing like the original (check out the dreadful ‘G-Force & Seijii remix’ of the Elegantly Wasted single. In my younger brothers’ words  ‘What’s that all about?’), Taste It was a breath of fresh air. Remixed by Youth (ex-Killing Joke, Brilliant), what was a fairly decent album track was transmogrified into a glorious thumping dance track that conversely never strays too far from the original mix. The UK 12” promo also contains a pretty decent dubby Youth ‘clubbed-twice’ mix that isn’t found elsewhere.

TASTE IT

‘IS THAT THE 12″ REMIX’ postings

WELCOME TO THE DANCEFLOOR – RUSTY EGAN – 29th April 2017 – Facebook

The fanastic Rusty Egan, DJ & former member of Visage & The Rich Kids, has a whole page to himself in ‘Is That The 12″ Remix’. Less well known is the fact that he remixed Madonna’s first single ‘Everybody’ for its’ UK release (a massively sought after remix these days). CD copies of his album ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ are now available – featuring the likes of Peter Hook, Tony Hadley & Midge Ure and I can’t recommend it highly enough…it’s currently being played very loudly for the umpteenth time up here on top of the hills in rural Yorkshire. Available here 🙂 http://www.pledgemusic.com/…/rusty-egan-welcome-to-the-danc… (there’s a vinyl edition tooooo)

 

TOP 12″ SINGLES OF ALL TIME – THE LISTS – 22nd April 2017 – Facebook

For the new edition we were lucky to have CLASSIC POP founder & editor-at-large Ian Peel on hand to pen the afterword. Not only that, the magazine’s TOP 25 12″ SINGLES OF ALL TIME was able to be used alongside the fantastic existing lists from the likes of Rob Windle of Electronically Yours https://www.facebook.com/electronicallyyoursuk/ and Chi at The Electricity Club (full article here) http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/tecs-25-favourite-classic…/

 

THE MOOD – 20th April 2017 – Facebook

One band who are featured in ‘Is That The 12″ Remix’ are ’80s band The Mood (thanks to founder member Mark Fordyce). Their 12″ singles were awesome, as is their ‘Singles Collection’ CD that Cherry Pop put out a few years go. All the 12″ mixes are on there as well as the 7″ mixes & ‘b’ sides. Their UK vinyl collection – as well their North American mini-album – is in the photo below (courtesy of The Mood vinyl collector Rob Grillo 🙂 🙂 )
For more info about a long lost 80s synthpop band see http://www.themood.info/TheMood/Welcome.html
AND there’s an exclusive interview with Mark Fordyce at The Electricity Club too http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/missing-in-action-the-mood/

mood

TIME TO RECHARGE…

levine thomaslevine brownIt’s been nice to have been part of the team working on the recent releases / re-issues from Demon Music/ Harmless Records in the utterly fantastic ‘DISCO RECHARGE’ series. The brainchild of Mr.Pinks, and compiled by DJ Simon White, the series has turned to the releases of the 70s & 80s by legendary producer Ian Levine. I featured Levine, and in particular Record Shack records in ‘Is That The 12” Mix’ so I was most excited about these as soon as I got wind of their possible release.

Here’s the lowdown:

In the spring of 1984, Evelyn Thomas burst back onto the scene with her massive top five single ‘High Energy’, a soundtrack to the gay-orientated HI-NRG that signalled disco’s re-emergence following a few years in the wilderness.

The man behind the track, Ian Levine, was also on the comeback. After a successful stint as DJ and producer in the late 70s Northern Soul scene, he’d got the recording bug back and had teamed up with Soho’s Record Shack Records which had just started its own label after having been a leading exporter of dance music from the states.
The partnership proved massively successful in the clubs, and on occasions in pop charts across the world. Miquel Brown’s anthemic ‘So Many Men, So Little Time’ sold two million copies around the world, while Thomas herself hit the charts across Europe as well as the Billboard Hot 100 singles.

Both Miquel Brown (best known for being Sinitta’s mum) and Evelyn Thomas recorded two albums for Record Shack, and have seen them reissued as special 2CD expanded, and remastered, sets in the ever popular Disco Recharge series.

MIQUEL BROWN (source unknown)

MIQUEL BROWN
(source unknown)

With many of the tracks having seen the light of day on CD before a decision was made to make available some of the lesser known or ‘alternative’ mixes, sometimes at the expense of the better known originals. That’s not a bad thing either, with John Rocca’s ‘Hot mix’ of Evelyn Thomas’ ‘Cold Shoulder’ and the rare ‘extended dance mix’ of Brown’s ‘Love Reputation’ making welcome additions to the set-lists.

The CD sets also show that Levine & Record Shack were than one dimensional , with a number of more subtle, and slower soul numbers that have passed the test of time.
And that brings us onto the newly remastered ‘Out of the Darkest Night’ by Barbara Pennington. Originally released in 1985, one of the 80s most under-rated soul albums has received the same treatment. Hit singles ‘On a Crowded Street’ (of which there are two separate mixes on the album) and ‘Fan the Flame’ might not have gone top five around the world but they sound as fresh and as lush as ever. There are three tracks on this one that have never seen the light of day on CD before, including the original 12” mix of her first Record Shack single ‘All American Boy’, and a remix of the title track, which was her last before she recorded later singles for Levine’s new label ‘Nightmare Records’ .
record shack

I already have all these albums on vinyl. There’s not much Record Shack output that I haven’t been able to track down over the years. Finding ‘Manpower’ in Woolworth’s Skipton branch in late 1980s meant going without my school lunch for the rest of the week, ‘Close To perfection’ bought in a closing down sale in a long lost Leeds record shop, the vinyl LP ‘High Energy’somehow turning out to be a Portugese import…these reissues bring it all flooding back. It was ambition as a teenager to visit Record Shack store in Berwick Street, Soho one day. Alas, by the time I was old enough to get there it was no more.

The two Ian Levine 2cd sets, released in the past couple of weeks, contain different tracks to the above CDs. The first showcases the best of his 70s output, the second, many of his Hi-NRG masterpieces. I gather more Levine related releases are planned, can’t wait…

Miquel Brown – Manpower / Close To Perfection
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Disco-Recharge-Manpower-Close-Perfection/dp/B00CY5Y82K/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1413729509&sr=8-6&keywords=disco+recharge
Evelyn Thomas – High Energy / Standing at the Crossroads
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Disco-Recharge-Energy-Standing-Crossroads/dp/B00CY5Y8A2/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1413729509&sr=8-7&keywords=disco+recharge
Barbara Pennington – Out of the Darkest Night
http://www.amazon.co.uk/DISCO-RECHARGE-DARKEST-NIGHT-PLUS/dp/B00JYDGIZU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1413729509&sr=8-3&keywords=disco+recharge
Ian Levine – 24 Hours a Day – the Disco Years
http://www.amazon.co.uk/DISCO-RECHARGE-HOURS-LEVINE-YEARS/dp/B00JYDGIYG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413729509&sr=8-1&keywords=disco+recharge
Ian Levine – Beating Faster – the Hi-NRG Years
http://www.amazon.co.uk/DISCO-RECHARGE-BEATING-FASTER-LEVINE/dp/B00JYDGJ0E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413729509&sr=8-2&keywords=disco+recharge

A few noticeably good CD releases…

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.

Three generations of Happy Families...the re-issued re-recording, the re-recording and the expanded original...

Three generations of Happy Families…the re-issued re=recording, the re-recording and the expanded original…


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.
grace
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.ztt

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 

RECORD MIRROR and CLASSIC POP

Thursday October 26th 1985. That was the date. I’d been in sixth form at my new posh school for just a few weeks, and had ventured into town for the first time. Only 6th formers were allowed in town, and even then we had to wear our blazers and were not permitted to roll up the sleeves under any circumstances. Which is why I had my sleeves rolled up. I did look particularly cool too.
Unfortunately the head teacher, or one of his deputies would patrol town at lunch times. And there he was, walking up Skipton High Street in my direction. I’d not yet been spotted, so I threw myself into the nearest shop. The nearest shop was a newsagent, and so to pass the time while said dementors passed by, I perused the magazine rack.

And there it was.
cult
I already knew about Smash Hits, and Melody Maker, and the NME, but here was the latest issue of one that was barely on my radar. It was the cover, adorned by The Cult’s Ian Astbury, that first attracted my attention. It wasn’t just Astbury’s imposing looks that diverted my eyes though, it was what was written at the foot of the cover: ‘Top of the Pops Chart’. Great a magazine that lists the UK singles chart. Not since the girl who saved me the old singles chart listings in Woolies a year or so earlier had I seen a complete chart rundown.
And then I took a look inside (always better to take a little longer in case the head teacher was lingering). It was love at first sight. Not only was there the complete UK top 75 singles chart, but there was ‘the next 25’ too, the UK albums chart, the American singles and albums charts, a 12” singles chart, reggae and indie singles charts, a disco chart and even a Hi-NRG chart. Utter fabulousness.

No longer did I need to scribble down in basic Grillo short-hand radio 1’s chart rundown. The ‘chart book’ I had used diligently for a good couple of years was now obsolete and consigned to the bottom drawer. In its place was this glossy alternative, a sort of cross between Smash Hits and NME, that contained not only those wonderful charts but James Hamilton’s BPM disco pages, and pages of singles, albums and ‘hot dance vinyl reviews. In that seminal (for me) issue were features on Billy McKenzie and the Adventures, there was an ad for a new remix of Hazell Dean’s ‘They Say It’s Gonna Rain’ as well as Divine’s new single, Simple Minds had album of the week, Jennifer Rush and George Benson topped the UK singles and albums charts, Evelyn Thomas topped the Hi-NRG chart and Wally Badarou the Disco Chart, while Rene & Angela were at number 7 and 17 in the same Disco chart with different mixes of the same song. And Morrissey adorned the back cover….most exciting…

The love affair with Record Mirror lasted a few more years, during which time the Hi-NRG chart got dropped due to attempted rigging of the chart (scandalous) and house music and multiple remixes took over the world. James Hamilton’s column kept me busy for hours, and despite never being able afford more than a couple of 12 inch singles a week I build up and encyclopaedic (and anal) knowledge of every mix released by which house music act.

And then, in April 1991, when, due to falling sales Universal Magazines closed it down, alongside ‘Sounds’, another music magazine of the day. All of a sudden it was. Transvision Vamp adorned the final cover, and RM was consigned to history.

Since then I’ve not really collected, or bought, many music magazines. There were occasional one-off ‘80s’ specials that were worth the money, but then, in 2012 there were two interesting new titles, both focussing on the grand old 80s. They weren’t just filled with pages and pages of nostalgia filled pages either, but were much more forward looking than that, and for the first time since then I’ve started reading the music press regularly. Sadly, and despite giving away a free CD, ‘electronic’ did not survive beyond its launch issue, but does exist in a slightly altered form as an online resources (‘electronic sound’) but the fabulous bi-monthly Classic Pop, edited by Ian Peel had just seen its tenth issue published.
Classic-Pop-Cover-210x300
Now the sign of a good magazine is in the fact that it takes bloody ages to read the thing. And that’s exactly what you had with RM, and what you have now with Classic Pop. There may be no current chart run down’s (and sadly, James Hamilton passed away some time ago), but there have been countdowns: the best 12” mixes ever, the top 100 singles form the 1980’s, and even a host of reviews of the finest 80s-influenced releases by today’s bands..Goldfrapp….Marsheaux….the latter among those bands who deserve a far bigger audience for their output.

So long live Classic Pop. Record Mirror may be long gone, but there are still top notch music magazines out there.

***Incidentally, I missed the very first issue of ‘Classic Pop’ (pictured above),so if anyone has a copy they no longer need…

Shanks for that…

I saw a pair of redshank this morning. It was right at the bottom of the moor, out of the gloom. It’s years since I’ve seen those, on a trip with some sixth formers to Iceland about six or seven years ago to be precise. They were chilling out on the dam wall of a local reservoir, not doing much, but doing whatever they were doing peacefully.

I only knew it was a pair of redshank because the guy watching them told me they were. I had no reason not to believe him. They seem to have settled in the area, he told me, which was a rather uncommon thing in this neck of the woods.

It’s not just finely tuned (!?) athletes like myself who get out first thing on a Saturday morning. Rolling out of bed at six and spending a good couple of hours or so on the moor. Birdwatchers do it too . Or should I call them twitchers, because that sounds much better. They are easily spotted, given their sensibly warm attire and binoculars at hand. Finely tuned binoculars I might add, because I’ve looked through some of this ‘ere equipment and it tends to be bloody good.

There are all sorts of rare and hard-to-spot birds out here. Many are just passing through, but patience always pays off. There are ring ouzels higher up the hill, I’ve seen a pair of great grey shrike just a few hundred yards from today’s redshanks, and if you are really lucky you might spot a hen harrier, red kite or merlin. Buzzards, kestrels, peregrine and sparrowhawks are common. Some mornings I get to see a pair of short-eared owls hunting low over the moor. I always enjoy bumping into those out birdspotting, because invariably they know what they are talking about, and always happy to share sightings (unless of course it’s a really rare specimen that needs to be kept secret).
I’ve arrived up at Top Withins at the same time as the odd wheatear, or indeed ring ousel, and marvelled at the sighting. But in many of those cases I’ve not been alone up there. There have been significant numbers of others at times, not one of whom would have (1) actually noticed said bird sat on a rock quite close by, or (2) actually known what a ring ousel looks like.
ring ousel
I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing. Is it better to be the wise person who knows a little bit more than those who are not interested in knowing what you know in the first place, or do you shout it out and let the whole bloody lot know?

But anyway. It was nice to see the redshank. They make a right racket when disturbed, and the Icelandic ones i’d encountered weren’t going to let me pass until they were ready. Today’s pair had nobody to worry about, other than the twitcher, who was rightfully keeping a respectful distance, and a smelly runner who was heading in the opposite direction anyway.

Three other runners and two off-road cyclists were also encountered along today’s route. All of them spoke (this isn’t London, remember), although there could have been veloceraptors, yellow bellied sapsuckers (yes, they do exist), and Cheryl Cole in the immediate vicinity today. I wouldn’t have spotted any of them due to the heavy mist high up on those moors. It can feel a bit spooky at times, and I always take extra care to avoid any mishaps. If I need rescuing at any point, it’s going to be difficult given the low cloud and the fact that I don’t have my mobile ‘phone with me.
veloceraptor
I put my headphones on for the last twenty minutes of the run. I was already feeling good. Three better songs couldn’t have been selected at random. Mark Reeder’s epic remix of Sam Taylor Wood/ PSB’s cover of ‘I’m in Love With a German Film Star’ with its long intro that builds and builds and builds before the vocals kick in, OMD’s energetic synth-driven ‘Sister Marie Says’ and New Order’s epic ‘Perfect Kiss’, with it’s awesome four minute outro. I almost didn’t want to finish the run, but I arrived at the doorstep in a few seconds over the two hour mark and I don’t want to be running late for my lunch date…

A SELECTION OF REALLY GOOD MUSIC BOOKS

A selection of music books you really do need to go out and buy if you a lover of music (80s and disco music in particular). They are in no particular order, and even if they occasionally contain viewpoints I might not wholeheartedly agree with, or may contain the odd error, they are all essential reading, written by those in a good position from which to describe, explain or simply tell a story. Please feel free to add your own preferences in the ‘comments’ section.

yeahYEAH YEAH YEAH – THE STORY OF MODERN POP, Bob Stanley, 2013
If you want a place to start then it’s all here – every genre, every decade, and every big star featured in one huge volume of not far under 800 pages. This is one hell of a read, and perhaps requires a good prior understanding of the subject matter but is expertly written by someone who has done it all in the music industry in terms of writing about and being heavily involved with the music industry, as well as being at one time a member of a highly successful chart act.

revolutions33 REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE – A HISTORY OF PROTEST SONGS, Dorian Lynskey, 2010
The front cover of this near 850 page tome indicates that this is ‘an exhaustive history of protest music’, and it is certainly not wrong! From Billie Holiday and Woodie Guthrie, through Stevie Wonder, The Clash, to more recent songs from the likes of Public Enemy, The Manic Street Preachers and Green Day, the most significant protest songs of them all are afforded their own chapter.

pwl hardingPWL FROM THE FACTORY FLOOR (EXPANDED EDITION), Phil Harding, 2010
A really good, behind the scenes look at the ‘pop factory’ that dominated the music scene in the late 1980s and early 90s. As a huge Stock, Aitken Waterman fan this held particular interest, especially as it is written by one of the ‘team’. The inside story of their immense success with acts such as Kylie and Jason, Bananarama and Divine is coupled with details of the sound equipment used to record the biggest hits (and non-hits, of which, remarkably, there were quite a few). Towards the back of the book, there are several interesting SAW discographies, including one that features unreleased tracks and demos. This is a deceptively long book at over 600 pages.

saturday night foreverturn the beat around‘Disco sucks’ I hear you say? No it doesn’t. As a huge fan, there are two books that have been on my bookshelf for a few years. SATURDAY NIGHT FOREVER – THE STORY OF DISCO, Alan Jones & Jussi Kantonen, 1999 & TURN THE BEAT AROUND – THE SECRET HISTORY OF DISCO, Peter Shapiro, 2005. Although they cover much the same ground, each compliments the other. Disco wasn’t just about the music (and the music wasn’t just about The Village People), it was also the fashion, the drugs, and the sex (and lots of it). Unfortunately I was just a bit too young to enjoy the hedonistic pleasures offered in the 1970s, but was around to see it re-emerge as a force again in several types of genre, the following decade.

last night dj savedLAST NIGHT A DJ SAVED MY LIFE – THE HISTORY OF THE DISC JOCKEY, Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton, 2006 edition, is another large volume, at 600 pages, and covers much of the same ground as the two books above, However, this is, as the title suggests, more a study of the DJ him/herself rather than disco music itself. Definitely one of the best selections on this list.

rip it upRIP IT UP AND START AGAIN – POST PUNK 1978-1984, Simon Reynolds, 2005
Cabaret Voltaire anyone? Joy Division? Heaven 17 or The Associates? Britain’s rock/pop history has never been dull, particularly with labels such as ZTT, Rough Trade and Factory creating the headlines as much as those acts that defined the era, set in the backdrop of a tense political backdrop both in the UK and worldwide. This is a fantastic look back at those years when I was just discovering, and exploring the hidden depth and less hidden the delights of pop music.

independence daysINDEPENDENCE DAYS – THE STORY OF UK INDEPENDENT RECORD LABELS, Alex Ogg, 2009
The aforementioned labels also feature highly in Alex Ogg’s commentary. This book also featured a myriad of lesser known labels through the years, some of which were created as a backlash to the powerful, yet cumbersome and oft out-of-touch major labels, with others that were formed as a political statement, through to those set up primarily to release one man’s (or woman’s!) music. With many many interviews recorded, Ogg’s near 600 page effort deserves to be on any music lover’s bookshelf.

last shop standingLAST SHOP STANDING – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO RECORD SHOPS, Graham Jones, 2009 (new edition due out in 2014)
Exactly. What has happened to them? This book promises to be ‘A journey through an industry in turmoil’ and it certainly delivers. It is actually so much more than a look back at famous old record shops that are no longer with us though, as Jones, who has worked within the industry, and for several record companies, also delivers fascinating insights into how our music charts were compiled..or rather ‘rigged’ to suit various interest groups. Never mind the recent problems faced by HMV, remember the independent record shops and the second hand ones too. Little did most of you know that I used to buy my records – sorry, spend most of student grant – at ‘The Left Legged Pineapple’ in Loughborough. That particular town’s youth will never know the pleasures that could be had there..
sheffield
Two further books are essentially local studies. However, being as good as they are, they will have a wider audience among pop aficionados. BEATS WORKING FOR A LIVING – SHEFFIELD POPULAR MUSIC 1973-1984, Martin Lilleker, 2005, is a look at a city that is synonymous with rock and pop acts such as The Human League, Heaven 17, ABC, Pulp and Def Leppard. There have been many other fine bands emerging from the Steel city both before and since those better known days. The likes of Artery, The Comsat Angels and of course Cabaret Voltaire also deserve their places in history, and here they given just that.

bradfordAnd then there is BRADFORD’S NOISE OF THE VALLEYS volume 1 – A HISTORY OF BRADFORD ROCK AND POP 1967-1987, Gary Cavanagh with Matt Webster, 2008
This is a unique type of book concept. Not only are all of Bradford’s rock and pop acts of the era featured here, this large A4 sized publication features ‘family trees’ that detail the changing membership of local bands, and the personnel links between each of those bands. You don’t have to be from Bradford itself to appreciate the quality either.
Volume two, taking the story up to 1998 is now out, although I haven’t yet got round to buying a copy. I will do though, if it’s half a good as the first volume then it will make a great addition to any music book collection (there’s also a CD set available, containing music from many of the featured bands, as well as an ‘updated’ edition of volume 1.

grilloIS THAT THE 12” MIX?, Rob Grillo, 2010 Ok, I know, I had to include this. A light-hearted look at the obsessive music collector and the history of the 12” mix (and the 12” remix, the 12” dub mix, the 12” limited edition picture disc remix, and so on…)
Most of these books are easily available online, or orderable at your high street store (and especially at the declining number of independent bookshops that need your trade if they are to survive).

ANORAK’S BESTEST RUNNING TUNES…part two

I’m off to India at the end of the week, so I thought I’d leave you all with this, the second part of Anorak’s favourite running tunes, the ones I rather enjoy listening to while out over those wild and rugged moors. And yes, they really are all currently on my ipod.

TALK TALK ‘IT’S MY LIFE’ (US REMIX)
Possibly the best ever remix of any song ever. Originally released in 1983 this failed to make the top 40. The UK 12 inch mix wasn’t much cop, which didn’t help. Then along came Steve Thompson, who created a monster of a track, which was initially released for the American market. The song still failed to become a huge hit in the UK until EMI tried for a third time in 1990 (to promote a ‘best of’ compilation) when it finally hit the top 20. The 12” mix released on that occasion wasn’t much cop either.

DAN HARTMAN ‘I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU’ (LARRY LEVAN 12” MIX)
This is also one of the best remixes in the history of remixes. Seven years’ after his best known hit ‘Instant Replay’, this song hit number 12 in the singles chart in August 1984. There were two mixes issued on 12” single in the USA, of which this was the lesser known, the other being a rockier extended version of the original single version. The late Larry Leven, one of the most iconic DJ godfathers of them all created this more danceable, and likeable mix that was used on its own in the UK. Don’t buy any of those recently released Twelve Inch compilation CDs though, because they all opt for the rockier mix which is most annoying. The only problem with Levan’s mix is that it doesn’t last longer than 6 minutes…

PARRALOX ‘I AM HUMAN’ Parralox Parralox’s John von Ahlen shares a birthday with myself and fellow Oz singer Olivia Newton John. Just thought I’d share that. John himself is pretty prolific, being behind other acts such as ‘The Sound of the Crowd’. He is a huge Human League fan before you ask. Parralox first came to prominence with ‘Sharper Than a Knife, with Roxy, who was particularly all, on vocals. Subsequent releases saw the gorgeous Amy Jackson take lead vocals, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her when I saw them perform in the UK. More recently John has worked with a number of vocalists, but ‘I am Human’ has become my favourite., taken from the second album ‘State of Decay’. Incidently, if you ever buy a Parralox CD single (yes, some acts still release them) then it’s a bit like buying an album because you still get 70 minutes of music, along with lots of different, and often new, tracks on.

AMII STEWART ‘FRIENDS’ (UK 12” MIX)
Lush, simply lush. One of my all-time favourite tracks. Forget later remixes, the original UK 12” release can never be surpassed. Who says good music never comes out of Italy. If I was deserted on a desert island I would have this on repeat, I never tire of it and on occasions I’ve clicked on ‘back’ when it’s finished in order to hear it yet again. Most super.

MARSHEAUX ‘SUMMER’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
Greek duo Sophie and Marianthi have been producing fantastic electronic music since 2003, and that includes an awesome rendition of ‘popcorn’, which might leave you a bit dizzy if you tried running with that in your ears. Summer is a fine track with dreamy vocal, and appeared in its ‘extended version’ as a free mp3 giveaway on their now defunct forum. Therefore if you can’t track this down then the album version (from their third release ‘Lumineux Noir’ is only a little shorter. If you get chance, listen to their fantastic take on Human League’s ‘Empire State Human’ or their own ‘Dream of a Disco’.

PATRICK JUVET ‘THE GAY PARIS – FRENCH PILLOW TALK’Switzerland finest – what, I hear you say – but surely Celine Dion has that honour. No chance, this former model was the king of the dance-floors in the late 70s. This track is from his ‘Lady Night’ album and is over 11 minutes of pure disco exuberance. Get those flares and huge shirt collars at the ready, who cares if they look sily while you’re out running. I know I will get crucified for this one but it’s a fantastic tune to run to on a fine summer’s morning when you haven’t a care in the world. Juvet

NORTHERN KIND ‘ON AND ON’ (EXTENDED MIX)
Leicestershire’s finest electronic duo. Better than that even, let’s make that just plain ‘Leicestershire’s finest’ full stop. I first came across Matt and Sarah when this previously unissued track from their first album ‘Fifty Three Degrees North’ on the excellent ‘Electronically Yours’ compilation (UNDO records). Their third album, ‘Credible Sexy Unit’ is really quite apt and hasn’t been out long – well worth listening to.

GAT DECOR ‘PASSION’ (NAKED MIX)
Forget the reissued vocal versions, this, along with the epic Darren Emerson mix, is the one you need to be running along to. Labelled as ‘progressive house’ this mix builds slowly and takes you on a pleasant ride that helps you forget how knackered you are.

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD ‘TWO TRIBES’ (ANNIHILATION MIX)
Another great remix from the 1980s. Classic Pop magazine rated this as the best 12 inch mix of the 80s, and who would argue. There’s also the Carnage mix, and the Hibakusha mix, on separate 12 inch singles, and a remix of ‘War’ with the Carnage mix on the ‘B’ side, and a whole host of different 7” / picture disc mixes as well – in true ZTT style of course. I could spend an entire two hour run listening to FGTH remixes..and on occasion I’ve been known to do just that.

HAZELL DEAN ‘WHO’S LEAVING WHO’ (BOB’S TAMBOURINE MIX)
I almost chose the ‘Indian Summer Mix’ of ‘They Say it’s Gonna Rain’, but instead opted for this, her biggest hit, produced by none other than Stock Aitken Waterman. It’s not the longest extended version you’ll ever hear, but there’s energy from the first beat to the last and it’s definitely one of those that enables you to put in a fast mile just for the sheer hell of it.

MANDY SMITH ‘I JUST CAN’T WAIT’ (COOL & BREEZY JAZZ MIX)
Proof that Stock Aitken Waterman were more than one trick ponies. The original 12” mix was good, but this a laid back groove that would not be out of place in a modern wine bar. Not the type of track you’d really want to hear if running through town, best reserved for those quiter parts of the run where you can relax that bit more.

SISTER SLEDGE ‘LOST IN MUSIC’ (NILE RODGERS 1984 REMIX)
The legend Nile Rodgers had to appear somewhere in these lists. Already a hit once, Rodgers remixed the track he produced in the first place and added backing vocals from Duran Duran, another band he was working with at the time. The result, a smash hit once again. This mix is a lot beefier than the original and is taken from one of disco’s finest albums ‘We Are Family’.

PAMELA FERNANDEZ ‘KICKIN’ IN THE BEAT’ (DANCING DIVAZ MIX)
In the mid 90s, any track that featured a ‘dancing divaz mix’ was worth listening to. This in an era when many remixes sounded nothing like the original, a dancing divaz mix always stayed true to the original, but added a bit more insistency and exuberance that made it all the more easy to dance – or even run – to.

THE MARY JAMES GIRLS ‘IN MY HOUSE’ (12” MIX)
The late, great Rick James produced Mary Jane Girls are best known for ‘All Night Long’, but this is just amazing. I always seem to put in a fast, fast mile when this is on, full of energy and vigour amnd includes everything you would expect from the great man himself.

FIDELITY CASTRO ‘21ST CENTURY GIRL’ (MARK REEDER’S STRIDENT REMIX)
And this certainly is strident. Anything with Mark Reeder on the mix can be nothing but. This is a stand out track from the fantastic compilation ‘5 point 1’ which features a whole host of Reeder mixes and remixes. On ite even breathes new life into John Foxx’s ‘Underpants’.

SCISSOR SISTERS ‘I DON’T FEEL LIKE DANCIN’How can you not be entirely uplifted when you are listening to this one. The only problem I have with it is that at certain points in the song I do indeed feel like dancing like Jake Shears does in the video, and that wouldn’t be a particularly good thing to do on a fast downhill stretch on the road or off the side of a hill.

By the way, if you do like electronic music then the best site to visit is: www.electricity-club.co.uk (no, i’m not on commission)

Oh, and ‘Is That The 12″ Mix’still available from amazon if you haven’t bought it!

ANORAK’S BESTEST RUNNING TUNES…part one

At around 7.30am on a Saturday morning I’m out of the front door. A little over 60 seconds later I’m out onto open moorland. Two hours later, and having listened to some music in the last half-hour of that two hours, I’m home. Before many of you are out of your beds that is, feeling remarkably refreshed, invigorated and all the better for having seen all manner of wildlife and rare birds. This is a small selection of tracks that currently reside on my tiny mp3 player. All of them are equally as brilliant in their own way. You really should listen to them all.At least one of them is featured in that fine fine book ‘Is That The 12” Mix’.

GOLDFRAPP ‘SLIDE IN’ (DFA REMIX)
One of the trippiest tunes you will ever listen to on your headphones. The first five and a half minutes, with its exquisite cowbells, is worthy enough, but then follows a most unreal experience that will make you forget where you are, how far you’ve travelled from home, and, if you are out in the moors, how the hell you’re going to get back. But you won’t care…

PET SHOP BOYS ‘PANDEMONIUM’
From the PSB’s under-rated 2009 offering ‘Yes’, comes a track that a decade earlier would have been a number one single. A feel-good tune that will lift your spirits when you are starting to feel a little jaded.

THE CULT ‘SHE SELLS SANCTUARY’ (LONG VERSION)
Beggars Banquet’s finest and a slow burner from 1985. The original 12” long version is far superior to the ‘howling mix’ and any of the subsequent remixes that were released (even though some of them were rather good).

HEAVEN 17 ‘TEMPTATION’ (BROTHERS IN RYHTHM REMIX)
The original 1983 version was brilliant…the 1992 remix is awesome. Heaven 17 knew nothing about this mix, which was originally produced as a DJ-only mix for the DMC club, until someone told them about it after having heard it in Ibiza. The rest is history, it went on to become a world-wide smash for the second time, and the unedited version has one of the best three-minute intros ever in the history of outstanding intros.

OMD ‘METROLAND’ omd
From their 2013 album ‘English Electric’, OMD take you on a journey that, if anything, proves that some bands never lose the ability to produce damn fine electronic music.

WILL DOWNING ‘A LOVE SUPREME’ (JAZZ IN THE HOUSE MIX)
From an era where house music had taken control of our dance-floors, and the airwaves, this is one of 1988’s best tunes. I tend to bounce along on my run while listening to this.

WALTER JACKSON ‘TOUCHING IN THE DARK’ (12” VERSION)
More soulful than anything I’ve heard for years, the late Walter Jackson should have had a huge global hit with this in 1984. As smooth as Luther Vandross and more authentic than anything Barry White ever did. Beautiful. Mid-run it will leave you feeling all loved-up and warm inside.

lonnie
LONNIE GORDON ‘HOW COULD HE DO THIS TO ME’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
Penned as a single not long after her huge 1990 hit ‘Happenin’ All Over Again’, this sublime and lush Stock Aitken Waterman production was pulled at the last minute, and sat in the vaults until her album was released on CD – at last – just a few years ago. Proof that SAW could produce more than just cheesy (but brilliant) pop music.

THE FOUR TOPS ‘INDESTRUCTIBLE’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
Remixed by PWL’s Pete Hammond, this wasn’t as big as ‘Loco in Acapulco’ but is one of the best 80s songs to run along to, whether you’re making your way through city streets, meandering along the river or high up in the windswept moors.

ODYSSEY ‘NATIVE NEW YORKER’ (FULL LENGTH MIX)
It’s got to be the long version with its long introduction, so forget the 7” edit, which is good, but not a patch on the unedited version it all its piano-driven glory.

PRIVATE LIVES ‘LIVING IN A WORLD (TURNED UPSIDE DOWN)’ (12’’)
Either of the two slightly different 12” mixes will do. Why this ballad wasn’t huge is beyond me. A great tune to listen to while out running…a bit more reflective than many of the danceable (or should than be runnable) tracks even though it still straight pop.

SADE ‘PARADISE’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
More of a groove than a pop song, I first heard this is a record store in Greece. It’s very chilled out and is best listened to at the most remote point of your long weekend run. Bloody great stuff.

EG DAILY ‘LOVE IN THE SHADOWS’ (SPECIALLY REMIXED VERSION)
Produced by Harold Faltermeyer (the man behind ‘Axel F’), this is another track with a long outro that you never really want to end. Elizabeth Daily was the voice behind ‘Rugrats’, and if you have the album this came off (‘Wild Child’) on CD then you’re sat on one of the most sought after 80s CD albums of them all. I nearly included her other UK dance smash, ‘Mind Over Matter’, one of the lesser known PWL / SAW tunes.

SHEENA EASTON ‘101’ (THE REMIX)
David Morales shows us why he was one of the most revered remixes of the 80s with its deep beats and moody vocals. It’s also Sheena Easton’s finest eight minutes. She looked gorgeous at the time, the music still sounds just as gorgeous all these years on.

perfect kiss NEW ORDER ‘THE PERFECT KISS’ (UNEDITED 12″ MIX)
I broke my arm while out running once. I tripped over my lace. It didn’t matter, I was listening to this. Four minutes or so of Barney Sumners unmistakeable vocals, followed by another four minute outro that just builds and builds and builds. If you have ‘Substance’ on CD you have the ‘full-length-mix-with-half-a-minute-lopped-off-the-outro version’ which is almost as good as the version without the half a minute lopped off.

INSTINCT ‘SLEEPWALKING’ (EXTENDED MIX)
Unearthed after festering, unreleased, in the ZTT vaults for nearly three decades an epic Trevor Horn production from the days when he masterminded Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s domination of the UK singles chart. This track, by ex-members of Pigbag appeared on the 2011 compilation ‘The Art of the 12”’. Exciting.