Friday, October 31, 2014

the wonderful and frightening world of the fall

The Fall sought the lay of the land and found a balance of fear and wonder in the conventional experiments and populist oppression of this debased dream. The addition of Mark E. Smith's wife Brix to the mix for their album 'Perverted By Language' had brought a new pop sensibility to their edgy post punk sound.  Brix would consider:  "Everyone was watching me very critically to start with. After I proved myself, there was a spark that stimulated the band, a new way of looking at things. Even with the old songs, I think I add some shadow and light to them. At first, I was going to be a solo artist with Mark producing me. Then we decided that I could be a good contrast in the band. I give it a lot of drive, as well as adding some 'glamour' to it all...Most Americans have a particular view of The Fall. I didn't see it as punk rock or r'n'r, but unique in itself. 'Slates'was the first thing I heard from the band, when I was living in America. The words really infuriated me because I didn't understand them at all. In fact, the first thing I ever said to Mark was, 'That gig was the best I've ever seen, but those words ... they infuriate me so much!!...I'm almost frightened by this one, it's that good. Although I know that we can still get better, we're so close now. The first side is the frightening side and the second the wonderful side of The Fall. We've come close to what it should really be like. It shows our diversity and our different moods. You can listen to it over and over and still not grasp it. There's always new things you can see in it and new revelations you can come to about it. As you change, the music changes too. It's chock full of things. Mark's lyrics have this extraordinary freshness; it's called life. If you see his words on paper, they take on a whole new life of their own. Like sometimes, I think the words should be written down - 'cos people need to be punched in the face with words like that."

'The Wonderful and Frightening World Of The Fall' was recorded with producer John Leckie and features Mark E. Smith on vocals and tapes;   Brix Smith on lead and rhythm guitar and vocals;   Craig Scanlon on rhythm and lead guitar;   Steve Hanley on bass guitar and acoustic guitar;   Paul Hanley on drums, keyboards; and grand piano;   and Karl Burns on drums, percussion, and lead bass guitar;  with "friendly visitor" Gavin Friday providing vocals on "Copped It", "Clear Off!" and "Stephen Song".   The band had left Rought Trade Records and signed with Beggar's Banquet.  

Mark admited:  "It was a lot simpler this time because we don't worry about the sound anymore. This is what I've always wanted to do in the past so I'm doing it now. We did more takes of one song on the early LPs, sometimes three or four times before we got it right. With this one, most of them are first takes. The best songs we do are the ones we get right first time. One of my problems is that I think too hard about songs. I'd rather just knock it out in one go. It all seems very 'together' on this one...I've destroyed loads of audiences. I hate the likes of Echo And The Bunnymen who panderto bedsit kids who are going through their nineteen year-old crises. I don't wanna know about that. That's why The Fall were formed. We've always picked up all the people who are fed up being treated like dicks...I can't work out what my role is in relation to British pop music.  I don't know what the fuck's going on. People ask me why The Fall keep going. Well, it's about striving. I'm never satisfied."

'The Wonderful and Frightening World Of The Fall' peaked at number sixty-two on the British album chart.  As with 'Perverted By Language', the album cover was done by Danish artist Claus Castenskiold.  

Mark:  "I'm so proud of that song. I didn't see it as pure pop because it hasn't been accepted like that. It's got good words in it and that throws people off - their brains are so degenerate now, that if they hear something they don't understand ... they just drop it. I always thought it would appeal to children and it does. A lot of very young kids (seven or eight) seem to like it. I never thought, though, that the creep was the guy who smelt bad at school; it was always the most popular guy in the class, 'cos you knew damn well he wouldn't do well in life, the sort who'd cry when the exam results came out."
Brix:   "Everyone always thinks that Fall songs are about themselves and that was especially so with 'Creep'. Some people thought it was about Morrisey which it wasn't. Marc Riley, our old guitarist, thought it was about him, which it wasn't. It's about every creep in the world."

'Disney's Dream Debased'
Brix:   "Mark got off this ride with tears in his eyes he was so frightened. This ride is a mountain, 100 ft in the air, a replica of The Matterhorn; you ride at sixty miles an hour. Ten minutes after we get off, a woman fails out of her sleigh, gets trapped and decapitated by the oncoming one. They couldn't get her out, there was fire-engines everywhere coming out of the bushes, and all these Micky Mouse characters rushing out to distract people. It took them seven hours to get the body off. Everyone was pretending nothing had happened, they were all going 'Disneyland is wonderful land'. Mark was saying, 'Whaaat??? There's a woman up there with no head on', but Micky Mouse was just laughing away. Mark thought it was like a bad trip."

"No Bulbs"

'The Wonderful and Frightening World Of The Fall' 
full album:

"Lay of the Land" 0:00  (Mark E. Smith, Brix Smith)
"2 × 4" 5:45  (M. Smith, B. Smith)
"Copped It" 9:23  (M. Smith, Karl Burns) 
"Elves" 13:39   (M. Smith, B. Smith)
"Oh! Brother" 18:27    (M. Smith, Burns, Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon) 
"Draygo's Guilt" 22:28  (M. Smith, Scanlon)
"God Box" 26:58   (M. Smith, B. Smith)
"Clear Off!" 30:16  (M. Smith, Scanlon)
"C.R.E.E.P." 34:56   (M. Smith, Paul Hanley, S. Hanley, Scanlon. B. Smith)
"Pat-Trip Dispenser" 38:04  (M. Smith, B. Smith)
"Slang King" 42:04  (M. Smith, P. Hanley, B. Smith)
"Bug Day" 47:25  (M. Smith, Burns, P. Hanley, S. Hanley, Scanlon, B. Smith) 
"Stephen Song" 52:23  (M. Smith, P. Hanley, S. Hanley) 
"Craigness" 55:29   (M. Smith, Scanlon) 
"Disney's Dream Debased" 58:32   (M. Smith, S. Hanley, B. Smith)

omibus edition:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

arthur (or the decline and fall of the british empire)

The Kinks got angry and edgy for this satirical conceptual soundtrack to a television play that never happened.  With a string of critically acclaimed but (mostly) commercially unsuccessful albums ('Face To Face', 'Something Else', and 'The Village Green Preservation Society') to their credit, the band was approached in January of 1969 by Granada Television to create a musical with writer Julian Mitchell.  As the project developed, the band was distracted by the final departure of founding bassist Pete Quaife, who was once again replaced by John Dalton.  

Ray Davies went to Los Angeles, California to produce The Turtles' album 'Turtle Soup' with engineer Chuck Britz.   While there, he was able to get the ban lifted that had kept the band from being able to perform in the US for nearly four years.  Back in in the UK, the band began rehearsing at Ray's house in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.  They were simultaneously working on the material for the TV play and for a solo album for Dave Davies.  Recording took place during May of 1969  at Pye Studios in London with Mick Avory on drums and percussion;   John Dalton on bass guitar and background vocals;   Dave Davies on lead guitar, co-lead vocal on "Australia" and "Arthur", lead vocals on his own tracks, and background vocals;   and Ray Davies on lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards (harpsichord and piano), and production.    Lew Warburton did the horn and string arrangements.   

As the album(s) were being mixed, Davies and Mitchell continued writing for the play; while filming continued to be postponed.  This delayed the release of The Kinks album, titled 'Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)'while Dave Davies solo album ('A Hole in the Shoe of...' or 'The Album That Never Was') never saw release.  Dave would later reflect:  "We recorded it very quickly in an eight-track studio in London.   The reason why I didn't want to put it out is because I'd just come off a hit single in England - 'Death of a Clown' - and, while recording the songs, I suddenly realized that I felt I was being rushed throughout all of those songs. I wasn't really that happy, so I just stopped."

'Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)' was finally released in October of 1969 and a tour was scheduled for the album, while the filming for the TV play was finally cancelled in December ostensibly over lack of funds.  The titular Arthur was based on Ray and Dave's brother-in-law Arthur Anning, who had moved with their sister Rose to Australia.  Ray revealed at the time:   "The opera is about the rise and fall of the British Empire, which people tend to associate with me (laughter). You could sum up the British Empire in one song. I haven't written it, but it could be done, a little fifteen minute thing (laughter). But about the opera: I decided to make it about one person, someone who didn't really count, that's all, and mixed it with a few people I knew, put them into one. I told Julian Mitchell, who wrote the script, a story about someone I knew. He liked it and worked on it and it came from there. He was easy to work with...I played "Shangri-La" to somebody - an old friend of mine, and I knew, halfway through it he was embarrassed by it because it was about him, and he realized it, and I can never sort of talk to him again. I wanted him to hear it, and then I realized: there he is.   I'm not laughing at those people in the song at all. They're brainwashed into that, they brainwash themselves. She says, "that's it. I don't want a new dress", not because she really doesn't want one, but because she can't afford it. Their minds are like that: they're happy, really. It becomes a religion to them. The glory of being boring. It's a glory. He shows you his stamp collection. It's a sense of greatness he's got around him that you can't penetrate because you feel you might upset him, he's that aura of stuff.   The chorus of "Shangri-La" is a bit of a chant - like "See My Friends". It's a religious thing. You accept it as your religion because you can't have anything else, whatever you've got anyway is what you accept yourself. You let yourself believe it. No, perhaps not. If you lived here (Kenwood) and you accepted this, and this was as far as you could go, you'd be a lot happier. Well, no, perhaps not. See, I tried living in a big house and I can't. I'm going back to a little house. I don't thing people really want to live in a posh house, as much as a rich person doesn't want to live in a slum. I don't like to say what I've got and be happy with it. I'd wear hobnail boots by my fire rather than slippers. I can't stand slippers because they symbolize giving up to me. But at the same time, I love the people who are like that. But I hate what's handed down when people get into the state where that's all they want. And that can be anybody - toffs; toffs are the world's worst offenders. Top hats and walking sticks. Cary Grant's a toff. David Niven.   It's like the song "Princess Marina". My brother Dave said, "I don't know whether you like these people or you hate them." You don't really hate anybody, do you? You only hate people for an instance. They can't help it. "Princess Marina" starts pretty sad, maybe, then it goes into the bit about - "I haven't got any money or anything", they're having a hard time. And then they sing in the way they did in the music hall, because that's the way they used to express it: "Don't Have Any More, Mrs. Moore." There was a song about poverty. People think I'm taking it out on the ordinary persons. But it's about all people. In fact it's more about nobs and toffs, executives - "Yes sir, no sir. Three bags full, sir." ... Grayness is beauty in boredom. I could have given Arthur a limp, I suppose, made him buy funny books, have a secret life. Then, that isn't the important thing - he'd have had control over his secret life, and he hasn't control over what's happening to him. But he thinks he does....when we play the opera in America, I hope people will accept the opera as a musical thing. There's jamming - we do a lot of that, but people don't think we do, since we don't do it on record. As far as the next thing I'm doing, I'm leaving what I've done. That's why I didn't want pictures taken of me reminiscing. I'm not like that, really. I'm going to try something else next.....someone will get me if I talk about it...Everything has been thrown at me, paperboats float past me, but something more direct might hit me and leave its mark. I think the things I write about are the things I can't fight off. There are a lot of things I say that are really common-place. I can't get rid of them. I go into something one minute, then look at it, then go back into it."


"Some Mother's Son"




"Mr. Churchill Says"

"Young and Innocent Days"

"Nothing to Say"


'Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)'
full album:

All songs written by Ray Davies, except when noted.

Side one
1. "Victoria"   3:40
2. "Yes Sir, No Sir"   3:46
3. "Some Mother's Son"   3:25
4. "Drivin'"   3:21
5. "Brainwashed"   2:34
6. "Australia"   6:46
Side two
1. "Shangri-La"   5:20
2. "Mr. Churchill Says"   4:42
3. "She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina"   3:07
4. "Young and Innocent Days"   3:21
5. "Nothing to Say"   3:08
6. "Arthur"   5:27

bonus tracks:  

"Plastic Man" - 3:04
"This Man He Weeps Tonight" - 2:43
"Mindless Child of Motherhood" (Dave Davies) - 3:09
"Creeping Jean" (Dave Davies) - 3:19
"Lincoln County" (Dave Davies) - 3:13
"Hold My Hand" (Dave Davies) - 3:21

Liner Notes:

Arthur? Oh, of course--England and knights and round tables, Excalibur, Camelot, "So all day long the noise of battle roll'd among the mountains by the winter sea." Sorry, no. This is Arthur Morgan, who lives in a London suburb in a house called Shangri-La, with a garden and a car and a wife called Rose and a son called Derek who's married to Liz, and they have these two very nice kids, Terry and Manlyn. Derek and Liz and Terry and Marilyn are emigrating to Australia. Arthur did have another son, called Eddie. He was named for Arthurs brother, who was killed in the battle of the Somme. Arthur's Eddie was killed, too--in Korea. His son, Ronnie, is a student and he thinks the world's got to change one hell of a lot before it's going to be good enough for him. Derek thinks it's changed a bloody sight too much--he can't stick England any more, all these bloody bureaucrats everywhere, bloody hell, he's getting out. Ronnie and Derek don't exactly get on.

Arthur wasn't named for Arthur of Camelot and all that; he was called after Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, 1st Duke of Connaught and Stratheam and Earl of Sussex, because Arthurs parents knew their place, and children ought to be named in honour of Queen Victona's children, and Prince Arthur, you know, he was her third and married...

Arthur has spent most of his life on his knees, laying carpets. Oh, he had his plans; he was thinking very seriously indeed about setting up on his own, only he hadn't much in the way of savings and there was this Hitler and... it all seemed a bit risky. There were the children to think of, weren't there? Arthur doesn't like risks, never has. He bought a car instead, and took the kids out on Sundays. Things aren't exactly easy now he's retired, but he owns his own house, and most of his car. You've got to be careful. But you don't want to worry too much about the worid, the way Ronnie does, or complain all the tlme like Derek; you're not going to get anywhere like that, you know. You want to take things as they come.

Things have been coming at Arthur all his life.

Arthur's life (and the lives of millions of English people like him) is shown through the songs Ray Davies has written. The Granada TV story in which they're set all takes place on Derek and Liz's last day in England. Nothing happens very much--everyone has Sunday dinner together, then Ronnie turns up and the men go to the pub where Ronnie gets all worked up about The System, while Liz and Rose talk about the past, and then Arthur takes them all to the boat, and they have a picnic on the way, and all the time Arthur's remembering his life and... It's a sad day for Arthur, seeing them off. People haven't been nearly as nice to Arthur as he's been to them, and... what's it all about, then? Is this what he's lived for? He's got the house, hasn't he? And the car? It's been a good life, hasn't it? Well, hasn't it?


welcome to the pleasuredome

Frankie Goes to Hollywood took the world by storm and lived life like a diamond ring with banned bravado and bawdy balderdash of this stately pop pleasure.  The group had formed in Liverpool from bands like Big in Japan, Sons of Egypt, and The Spitfire Boys.  After appearing on John Peel Session for BBC Radio 1 and the Channel 4 show The Tube at the Liverpool State Ballroom, Trevor Horn signed the group to his new ZTT Records label.  

'Welcome to the Pleasuredome' was produced by Horn  at Manor Studios, Oxford and Sarm Studios in London and features Holly Johnson on lead vocals;  Brian Nash on guitar;  Peter Gill on drums;  Mark O'Toole on bass; and Paul Rutherford on vocals.   Many session musicians were utilized as well:  J. J. Jeczalik on keyboards, programming, and software;  Andrew Richards on keyboards;  Louis Jardim on percussion;  Anne Dudley on keyboards and string arrangement for "The Power of Love";  Steven Lipson on guitar;  Steve Howe on acoustic guitar (for "Welcome to the Pleasuredome");  Trevor Rabin on guitar and keyboards;  and Trevor Horn on backing vocals and bass. 

Johnson considers:   "I always preferred the versions of those songs that were on the actual 45 7" singles, by Julian Mendelsohn. They're the ones that sold in their multi-millions and there's something about them that's really powerful and special. The mixes on the album are not quite as iconic...It's interesting, the whole idea of controversy in pop music... It is a pop art form but it's just entertainment...There have been artists who saw the controversial nature of 'Relax' as a blueprint. I think Madonna really wasn't very controversial on her first album particularly. We shared a management company in America and she definitely plucked the power of sexual controversy...It became a sort of blueprint really for modern pop and dance music in a way. Time and time again people have tried the same trick. I don't think anything has really had a high-profile ban since 'Relax' really. I think even the BBC realized that you were highlighting a record rather than burying it into obscurity by banning it...I always make the joke that I personally stopped the Cold War by writing 'Two Tribes'... I think all you can do is highlight issues in pop, occasionally without perhaps banging on about them too much, because banging as any politician knows is a big turn-off...I think cultural attitudes shift incrementally. I think being openly gay, or talking about the threat of nuclear war, all they do is highlight it in people's consciousness. It needs to happen to further the argument, to get people talking about that...But things happen slowly in the world in actual fact. There's not an immediate effect, but there's a slow, gradual one. I think with the record industry now people tend to veer away from serious issues rather than embrace them. That's all about the bottom line, isn't it really?...I'm sure record companies, or the remaining three major record companies - aren't really huge on acts that have a political agenda. The want pop fluff in a bikini - or a sort of worthy singer-songwriter... Who knows what the future holds, but politics seems to be off the pop music agenda at the moment."

Rutherford recalls:  "Everything good just seemed to converge. Every utter ingredient was right; we couldn’t understand why people weren’t signing us at first because we were amazing. Labels were saying we love you, but we can’t sign you because you’re gay and you’re too racy. We got burdened with that kind of shit. But we had amazing people that wanted to produce us. There was Brian Eno, Kate Bush or Trevor Horn. We chose Trevor Horn. I wonder what would have happened if we had gone with Kate Bush. She was mad. We would have been at the bottom of the charts... It all made sense to us, even that. We had this kind of bravado and just sailed through it. We just thought, “Whatever, it’s not going to fucking stop us,” and it didn’t. It gave us wings. It was like the punk thing which by then had died on its arse. It got pretty dirty. No one was wearing make-up. It just felt dirty again and more real...There was no time at all to take stock of what had happened. We would wake up to do thirty interviews, and then we would need to be on a plane to get to Paris tomorrow to collect some award or whatever. It became this thing that was an absolute constant. It did not stop. It was quite mad… it was genius really. But then it did end and it still felt great, like, wow it’s all over but what we did, how brilliant was that and then a year later it was like… Oh fuck, what have we done? It dawned on me that we had just abused probably the greatest gift that you could ever get. "

'Welcome to the Pleasuredome' went to number thirty-three in the US, nine in Canada, eight in Norway, seven in France and Sweden, five in Switzerland, four in Germany, three in Australia, two in the Netherlands, and number one in New Zealand and the UK.  In England, the album made its debut at number one with over a million advance orders.  Their first three singles went to the top of the charts in the UK, repeating the feat of Garry and the Pacemakers (whose song 'Ferry' was featured on the album) two decades before.  Frankie Goes to Hollywood won the Brit Award for Best British Newcomer and were nominated for Grammy and MTV Video Music Awards for Best New Artist.

Side 1: "F - Pray Frankie Pray"
1. "Well..."   Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Andy Richards 0:55
2. "The World Is My Oyster"     1:02
3. "Snatch of Fury (Stay)"   Gerry Marsden 0:36
4. "Welcome to the Pleasuredome"     12:58

Side 2: "G - Say Frankie Say"
5. "Relax (Come Fighting)"     3:56



6. "War (...and Hide)"

7. "Two Tribes (For the Victims of Ravishment)"  

Side 3: "T - Stay Frankie Stay"
9. "Ferry (Go)"  1:49

10. "Born to Run"  

11. "San Jose (The Way)"  

15. "Black Night White Light"  

16. "The Only Star in Heaven"    
"On my way to Hollywood; and this is how to get there!"

17. "The Power of Love"     5:28
"I'll protect you from the hooded claw; keep the vampires from your door."

'Welcome to the Pleasuredome'
full album:

All songs written and composed by Peter Gill, Holly Johnson, Brian Nash and Mark O'Toole except where noted

01. Well... - (0:00) 
02. The World Is My Oyster - (0:55) 
03. Snatch of Fury (Stay) - (1:58) 
04. Welcome To the Pleasuredome - (2:40) 
05. Relax (Come Fighting) - (15:39) 
06. War (...and Hide) -  Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield (19:35) 
07. Two Tribes (For the Victims of Ravishment) - (25:49) 
08. (Tag) - (29:11) 
09. Ferry (Go) -  Marsden  (29:45) 
10. Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen (31:34) 
11. San Jose (The Way) - Burt Bacharach, Hal David  (35:39) 
12. Wish (The Lads Were Here) - (38:48) 
13. The Ballad of 32 - (41:37) 
14. Krisco Kisses - (46:26) 
15. Black Night White Light - (49:25) 
16. The Only Star in Heaven - (53:34) 
17. The Power of Love - (57:50) 

18. Bang - (1:03:20)

25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition bonus disk

"Relax (Greatest Bits)" - 16:59
"One September Monday" - 04:49
"The Power of Love (12 inch version)" - 09:30
"Disneyland" - 03:07
"Two Tribes (Between Rulers And Ruling)" - 04:10
"War (Between Hidden And Hiding)" - 04:00
"Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Cut Rough)" - 05:40
"One February Friday" - 05:00
"The Ballad of 32 (Mix 2)" - 11:03
"Who Then Devised the Torment?" - 00:16
"Relax (Greek Disco Mix)" - 06:18
"Watusi Love Juicy" - 04:03
"The Last Voice" - 01:14

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

i can see your house from here

Camel brought disparate elements together to create the transitional neon magic of this icy remote romance.  The original lineup of the band had broken through with their third album 'The Snow Goose', inspired by the Paul Gallico short story (Gallico sued for copyright infringement) and then 'Moonmadness' before bassist Doug Ferguson would leave the group.  He was replaced for a couple of albums ('Rain Dances' and 'Breathless') by Richard Sinclair, who brought in former bandmates from Caravan (his cousin Dave Sinclair as well as Jan Schelhaas) to replace departing founding member Peter Bardens on keyboards.  After the 'Breathless' tour, Dave and Richard Sinclair would leave and be in turn replaced by Kit Watkins and Colin Bass, respectively.  All the while saxophone player Mel Collins would drift in and out of an official capacity in the group.  

'I Can See Your House from Here' was produced by Rupert Hine at Farmyard Studios in Little Chalfont, England and featured Andrew Latimer on guitars, flute, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Who We Are", "Hymn to Her" and "Neon Magic", and autoharp on "Who We Are";   Colin Bass on bass, backing vocals, and lead vocals on "Wait" and "Your Love Is Stranger Than Mine";  Kit Watkins on Hammond C3 organ, Solina synthesizer, Yamaha electric grand piano, Rhodes piano, Moog synthesizer, Minimoog, Clavinet, Prophet-5, Yamaha CS80, EMS Sequencer, and flute;   Jan Schelhaas on Yamaha CS80, Yamaha electric grand piano, grand piano, Prophet-5, Moog synthesizer, Minimoog, and EMS Sequencer;   and Andy Ward on drums and percussion;    with  Mel Collins contributing alto saxophone on "Your Love Is Stranger Than Mine";  Phil Collins on percussion;  Rupert Hine on backing vocals;   and Simon Jeffes providing orchestral arrangements on "Who We Are" and "Survival".  

The working title for the album was 'Endangered Species'.  Latimer would relate:   "Rupert was great fun to work with, he was really up and zappy. I enjoyed making that record. We did it rather quickly and it wasn't a lengthy production."

Hine opined:  "Extraordinary moment for me was Andy Latimer's improvised solo on "Ice." I hadn't realised just how passionate a player he was. As I recall the solo was just one take, not as was already typical by that time – a composite of 'best bits' of a number of different takes. This was a fine example of consciousness-flow through musical expression that only a player entirely comfortable with his instrument can achieve. Unlike so many guitarists of his era bent on illustrating how many notes could be crammed into a solo or how much overall noise could be produced from one instrument, Andy's approach seem to be born out of less is more with each note."

'I Can See Your House from Here'  reached number two hundred and eight in the US and forty-five in the UK.

'I Can See Your House from Here' 
full album: