Sunday, November 29, 2009

getting ready: New Order Get Ready sessions

In August 1993 (at the Reading Festival) New Order played their final gig of the Republic tour, and disappeared. With Bernard saying to Hooky that if they never see each other again it would be a good day, nobody expected the band to work together ever again. Each had their own side projects, some more successful than others (though one wished The Other Two saw the same sort of success Hooky had with Monaco, and Bernard with Electronic), and each member was moving on with their lives.

Then the offers to reform for the UK festival circuit became too big to ignore. With late, loved manager Rob Gretton convening the members in January 1998, they finally agreed to give it another go after realizing the differences they had with each other had faded as the years had passed. With no firm committment other than a series of gigs and a "let's see how it goes" attitude, it was of great interest to learn in 1999 that the band was writing and recording a comeback album.

The first fruit of this renewed partnership was the lone track "Brutal", released in 2000 on the soundtrack to the Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle The Beach. Part of these sessions were devoted to other new material, though, with at least (what became) "60 MPH" and "Turn My Way" seeing primitive airings.

Then they joined up with producer Steve Osborne and recorded what would become the LP Get Ready, and some B-sides to go with it. Periodically, tracks from these sessions would wind their way to the record company, with some (watermarked) listening copies making their way out of the studio into the public. The LP eventually saw release in fall 2001, however, pre-mastering copies did exist in the wild and the differences - not only in the mastering, but some of the recordings themselves - are striking.

Featured today is the earliest-known leak of the Get Ready sessions. Dating from at least early 2001 (if not earlier), these tracks are all pre-mastering and in virtually all cases longer than the final released variants. It's almost as if Warners/London went to producer Osborne after these and said "OK Steve, tighten them up and then let's talk!". While nothing would be considered "shocking" per-se, at the very least the tracks are different enough (different recordings, different synth lines, different vocals, etc) to be very interesting in their own right, and IMHO the album - as featured in the configuration presented here, which was the same configuration on the Warners/London CD leak - would have been even better than what eventually was released. You know, no "Rock The Shack" here, etc. The final LP was pretty good - if this, however, was instead released as the resulting LP, it'd have really been spectacular.

So enjoy! These are presented basically warts-and-all, pre-mastering. It's not undergone any mastering compression as the final LP did, and it's not been EQ'ed properly. Maybe if you're all nice enough I'll put out there my own release-ready mastering of these tracks, which I've done for myself, as it shits all over the version presented today. For posterity's sake however I've chosen to initially present these as they were given to (or leaked from) the label.

The tracks are mostly working titles and I've titled them as best can be determined from the various pre-release and leak tracklistings that do exist on the Internets.

As a special bonus, I've also included tracks for a companion CD that I've accumulated over the years, tracks - for the most part unreleased - which mark various 1998-2001 recording ideas and, most curiously, the theme from Mission Impossible which they recorded in 1999 for the Tom Cruise movie. Alas it was never used and most people don't even know the band had attempted it! Also in the companion set is a pre-Billy Corgan version of "Turn My Way" for all the haters who disliked the album version because of Billy's presence on it... (which I don't understand, because IMHO "Turn My Way" is the best track on the LP!)

All presented as lossless FLAC - for most of this material, the first time ever anywhere, at least non-MP3!

Unmastered and not final EQ

01 60 MPH (mix 2)
02 Runwild (mix 3) [Primitive Notion]
03 Dream On (original mix) [Close Range]
04 Crystal
05 Freefall (mix 2) [Someone Like You]
06 Slow Jam
07 Shipwreck (mix 2) [Turn My Way]
08 Vicious Streak (mix 3)
09 Field (mix 1 vox up) [Player In The League]
10 Run This River Dry (recall from submix) [Sabotage]
11 Full Circle (mix 2) [Run Wild]

- -

mastered by

01 Beach Demo #1 ["Brutal" instrumental]
02 Beach Demo #2 ["60 MPH" original version]
03 Beach Demo #3 ["Mission Impossible" theme]
04 Brutal (Rollo EQ'ed as Master 1 but vox down)
05 Brutal (Rollo EQ'ed as Master 2)
06 Brutal (Rollo EQ'ed as Master 1)
07 Brutal (monitor mix 9/29/1999)
08 Brutal (monitor mix Rollo restructure 9/30/1999)
09 60 MPH (monitor mix Rollo demo mix)
10 Shipwreck Of A Broken Man ["Turn My Way", no Billy Corgan]
11 Temptation '98 (Albert Square Manc 8/21/1998 louder vocal mix)
12 60 MPH (Kahne v2 edit)
13 60 MPH (Osborne monitor mix)
14 Crystal (Osborne monitor mix, very different!)

9 chunks of RAR'ed FLAC goodness, you have to download each part - a pain, I know, but what a payoff!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
"Slow Jam" and "60 MPH Rollo monitor mix" here in case you were unable to extract from the main fileset.
And if you still get errors on Slow Jam, get it here by itself.

Getting fed up with mediafire so I will have to seek out alternative hosting solutions. Any of my readers care to share storage space?

Monday, November 23, 2009

a blog without qualities III: New Fast Automatic Daffodils III

To date the PoIT has featured the New Fast Automatic Daffodils twice: here and here. Must be an amazing band to get three featured entries, right? Absolutely.

Today we feature the collected (mostly) output surrounding (and including) this mostly-unclassifiable band's second LP Body Exit Mind, released in 1992. This time the New FADs retreated to Brussels and recorded with producer Craig Leon, and emerged with a much more involved, dense, abstract and energetic collection of songs than the debut record.

Featuring perhaps the catchiest New FADs track known to mankind in "Stockholm" ("where our travels take us further north, where there's fish in the sea and food on the shelves"), this LP bristles with oddly-scathing social commentary and ruminations on the state of society (how's that for indie rock lyrical analysis?).

Whatever. I just love lyrics that ask the listener to consider the plight of the Stasi and their ilk, the secret police forces suddenly finding themselves without work after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe - and how the allure of the almighty dollar rides roughshod over the basic needs of society. Take the track "American Money":
He was sick and tired of always being the odd one out,
in a place where the mean street cars were littered with fallout
of the American Money, coupled with native misgivings,
of the future of cities, where he was inclined to agree with.

Millions of unemployed policemen, all over the eastern world
will lose their powers of persuasion, and it seems such a waste,
and no amount of retraining in the socially-useful will make up
for that killer instinct new nations value so greatly.

And I want to thank you, I want to thank you, for letting me be yourself again.
There's few things you can't buy without American Money here.
Just give me one good reason, please give me one good reason, why I shouldn't be myself again.
There's some things you can't buy without American Money here.
It shits on your dreams daily, barely makes up for the handouts.

So there you go. At least this LP won't shit on your dreams - rather, while I've owned this since release in 1992, it's only recently I've discovered the allure of this record and it's among my all-time favorites. Nevermind the brief between-song pastiches (though I'm particularly enamored of the pseudo-shoegaze "What Kind Of Hell Is This?", I wish they'd actually developed it into a full-on song!), the tracks themselves are flawless.

Tacked onto the end of the LP proper are the various B-sides (and, in "Stockholm"'s case, the single remix) released in association with this record's singles and EPs. From the Bong EP we have "Head On" and "Beautiful", and from the "Stockholm" CD single the aformentioned "Stockholm" remix and the B-side "Cannes" I would have loved to have included the tracks from the limited-edition "Stockholm" 10" vinyl single, demo versions of "Stockholm" / "It's Not What You Know" and the B-side "Hexagon Spring", but the version I've been able to source on the internets is too heavily noise-reduced and not good enough-sounding for my persnickety ears. So dear readers, if you have this 10" or can locate a nice, clean, unadulterated transfer, please let me know!

Body Exit Mind - and collateral material

01 Bong
02 It's Not What You Know
03 Stockholm
04 I Take You To Sleep
05 Bruises
06 How Much Longer Must We Tolerate Mass Culture?
07 Kyphos
08 Teenage Combo
09 Beatlemania
10 What Kind Of Hell Is This?
11 American Money
12 Missing Parts Of Famous People
13 Patchwork Lives
14 Music
15 Exit Body, Exit Mind

- - end LP tracklisting here - -

16 Head On
17 Beautiful
18 Stockholm (radio mix)
19 Cannes

Two RAR files for your pleasure!

Part I / Part II


***** NEWS FLASH *****

In researching this post I've come across some potentially fantastic news - it appears the New FADs may be reforming! Nothing on the mentioned Facebook page since Andy's post mentioned in the link, but hope springs eternal! After all, I could get a real job if I tried, but what's the point...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Take a gander over that way ----->

at the Recycle blog.

£50 Note and brunorepublic have done a yeoman's job in assembling the best New Order package ever - and it's all been a fan's project.

They've accomplished what the record company has abysmally failed - a comprehensive, beautiful, chronological assemblage of this terrific singles band's many fantastic singles. Tracked down elusive B-sides, 7-inch promo edits, the works. And it's all been done with the most amazing care for sound it truly puts Warners to shame (ref: the CD2 materials from the recent "Collector's Edition" New Order 2xCD packages). Twenty - 20 - CDs of pristine, amazing, groundbreaking music.

I've never heard 99.9 percent of the tracks they've assembled sound better than what they've done.

And the artwork - oh the artwork! Lovingly assembled mini-LP sleeves either meticulously scanned from mint 7"/12" sleeves, or recreated to be identical to the original, with directions (on the Recycle blog flickr account) for assembly - beautiful, beautiful stuff.

They're only missing one final Factory-era single in the batch, the last New Order release on Factory, "World in Motion" - and I can hear the world salivating at that one ;) Nevertheless it too will be included.

So in lieu of enjoying my latest offering, scoot on over there ----> and start downloading. You may not like all the material - "Sub-Culture" sounds just as vile as it did 24 years ago - but at least it's pristine-sounding vile ;)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

postpunk on the prairie: PEGBOY

This post has been a long time coming.

As the 1980s came to a close, the legendary Naked Raygun utterly dominated the Chicago punk rock scene. Their fierce blend of Buzzcockian pop sensibility, Misfitsish "oh-wey-ohhh" vocals, and the amplifier-crunching colossal guitar attack - courtesy of John Haggerty - set the stage for the postpoppunk revival of the 1990s. And for the most part, Raygun missed it.

1990 came around with John feeling burnt out on Raygun. So he quit and started over again. Teaming up with former Bhopal Stiffs Larry Damore (vocals) and Steve Saylors (bass), and joined by his brother Joe (ex-Bloodsport and Effigies) on drums, Pegboy was born.

Why should you care? Because no band, or rather no progression of bands (in this case, Naked Raygun -> Pegboy), best represents the old-skool "Chicago sound". The second (or was it third? #2 and #3 came within a week of each other) gig I ever saw was Naked Raygun in 1989, and to this day I remember that night like it was yesterday, it meant so much to me.

And in 1990, your humble blogger also attended Pegboy's debut gig at Chicago's Metro.

Paring down the sound to basics - wall-of-crunch guitars, gruff vocals, throbbing bass, and flailing drums, with songwriting to match, Pegboy was perhaps the greatest punk band to ultimately make it out of the Chicago scene. Oh many will disagree with me, and on some days I would disagree with myself as well, but Pegboy just did their job, day-in and day-out, not particularly messing with the formula.

In 1990 the foursome asked legendary Chicago punk producer Iain Burgess to record a 4-song demo. The resulting recording was so powerful it was released as-is, as the band's debut on newly-formed Touch and Go offshoot Quarterstick Records (coincidentally, also Quarterstick's debut release as well). Three-Chord Monte opens with the anthemic "Through My Fingers", which is John Haggerty's sound to a T. Possibly the greatest Chicago punk song ever, at least in the top 5. And the other three tracks on the EP are none too shabby either.

1990 Quarterstick Records

01 Through My Fingers
02 My Youth
03 Fade Away
04 Method

- -

1991 saw the band release their debut LP, also recorded in Chicago by Iain Burgess, entitled Strong Reaction. With more of the same stellar playing and songwriting, this record just solidified the impact generated by the EP and presented the band to the world. Tracks "Strong Reaction" / "Field Of Darkness" (also released as a 7" single) / "Superstar" are the standouts, with the rest nearly as melodically strong. It's hard to locate a single bit of filler in the bunch, this record truly is one of the greatest Chicago punk sets EVER. Larry isn't the world's greatest singer, but it works here, and works wonders.

1991 Quarterstick Records

01 Strong Reaction
02 Still Uneasy
03 Not What I Want
04 What To Do
05 Locomotivelung
06 Superstar
07 Field Of Darkness
08 Time Again
09 Believe
10 Hardlight
11 (untitled)

- -

Sometime following Strong Reaction, founder bassist Steve Saylors left the band. Yet with songs to record and a name to keep out there, to build on the goodwill created by the EP and debut LP, the band returned to the studio anyway, this time with Big Black / Rapeman / legendary engineer Steve Albini on bass. Albini also engineered the recording session, and the resulting EP Fore really digs down deep into the angular crunch of the band. Perhaps the band's hardest-sounding record, nonetheless the songs are great. And the cover art just has to be seen to be believed, who'd have thought they'd see Albini in golf attire ;)

1993 Quarterstick Records

01 Never A Question
02 Witnessed
03 Minutes To Hours
04 Jesus Christ

- -

Abini on bass was obviously only a temporary solution to the needing-a-bassist problem, with Albini's new band Shellac (not to mention his busy engineering career) demanding most of his attention. So, with Naked Raygun now in indefinite hiatus, legendary bassist Pierre Kezdy suddenly was free and Pegboy wisely snapped him up.

Moving on, 1994 saw the band's second LP Earwig come down the pipe. This time the band traveled to provincial France to record in Iain Burgess's newly built residential studio, and the resulting record is stellar. More of the same classic Haggerty guitars, and a more tuneful Larry (did he get vocal coaching?), mean this record will also get stuck in your ears. "You" is one giant slagpile of melody, and with perhaps a tighter vocal melody this might have been a hit. They also pull off a reverential Mission of Burma cover ("That's When I Reach For My Revolver", here shortened to simply "Revolver"), throw Clint Conley's original vocal track on top and you'd not know you weren't listening to the Burma musicians. And as far as I know, "Over The Hills" is Haggerty's first-ever acoustic track and it's spectacular.

1994 Quarterstick Records

01 Line Up
02 Sinner Inside
03 Gordo
04 Sideshow
05 Spaghetti Western
06 Revolver (Mission of Burma)
07 You
08 Blister
09 Wages Of Sin
10 Mr. Pink
11 Over The Hills
12 Louisiana

- -

The band basically dropped from the scene for a while, then came back in 1997 with the as-of-now final LP Cha Cha Damore, recorded by a returning Steve Albini. Featuring the same Damore/Haggerty/Haggerty/Kezdy lineup as the prior LP, this time the band returns to the more focused pop/punk of their earlier efforts, a choice that benefits supremely by Albini's recording methodology. The drums here sound amazing - as good as they've ever sounded on a Pegboy record - and the songwriting remains stellar. And the surprise cover this time? Cheap Trick's "Surrender", done with love and an obvious passion for the original.

1997 Quarterstick Records

o1 Dangerwood
02 Can't Give
03 You Fight Like A Little Girl
04 Dangermare
05 Dog, Dog
06 Liberace Hat Trick
07 Dangerace
08 Hey, Look, I'm A Cowboy
09 In The Pantry Of The Mountain King
10 Surrender
11 Planet Porno

- -

The band functionally disbanded in 2000 yet never officially gave up the ghost - they did pop up now and then for the odd one-off gig, but then in 2007 played the Touch And Go 25th Anniversary gig, and in 2009 toured in the summer with new bassist "Skinny" Mike Thompson replacing Pierre Kezdy (who had rejoined the reactivated Naked Raygun).

So I present to you all of the above, in compendium style, as is the wont of The PoIT. I'm only missing three tracks in their entire discography - the "Field Of Darkness" / "Walk On By" 7" single (what I've been able to track down online is pretty crap sounding), a Thin Lizzy cover "Emerald" from a 1995 Thin Lizzy tribute, and the 1996 "Dangermare" split single with Kepone.

Three RAR files as usual, gotta download each one.

edit: Removed link.


Monday, November 2, 2009

math rock: Rodan

On a trip this past weekend to faraway shores (of Chicago), the question was posited: What the hell is "math rock"? And why doesn't my local record shop have a "Math Rock" section?

Rather than go on some long-winded treatise on what makes a math rock band so mathematically mathy, one can basically point a finger at Louisville, KY circa 1989-1993 and there you go. Why Louisville? Ask the legendary Slint, the main proto-math act that also happened to call Louisville their home. For some reason kids in the late 80s/early 90s took the pummeling Chicago sound of Big Black, Naked Raygun and their ilk, matched it with Sonic Youth and 1970s Prog Rock (Yes, King Crimson, etc.), and fashioned their own unique take on indie rock. With precisely mapped out songs that start and stop on a dime, switch time signatures with abandon, and have carefully-laid-out angular, interwoven guitars sitting meshed with sometimes spoken, sometimes screamed vocals, the classic math rock acts carved out their own little niche that - with the notable exception of Slint - received little attention from the rock world at large.

And it basically happened in Louisville.

Slint begat, well, just pop over to Wikipedia for the family tree.

During the mid-Slintocene age, in 1992, Rodan formed. They released a record and promptly broke up, before they reached critical mass (as some thought was just around the corner). They too begat a family tree that needs parchment scrolls to map out - each baby carving out the next ring on the math rock tree.

And so today we begin our lesson plan with Rodan's only LP, 1994's Rusty. Named after recording engineer Bob "Rusty" Weston, bassist in Shellac and legendary engineer that follows the same ethos as Steve Albini, this record is Math Rock 101. Starting with the beautiful - and I mean that in the classical sense, as in "stunning beauty" - leadoff track "Bible Silver Corner", just when you've settled in for a nice late-night listening session, a dry red wine in hand, you get pummeled with the hardcore of "Shiner". Then things fly off the deep end with the uncategorizable, epic sprawling of "The Everyday World Of Bodies" at which point you're hooked for life. "Jungle Jim" brings it back down to earth a bit, but then angular-guitars itself into Tweezland (ref: Slint's debut LP Tweez). "Gauge" is a nice summation of things to this point, with "Tooth Fairy Retribution Manifesto" closing things out on a stellar note.

On a sad note, Rodan guitarist Jason Noble is laid up recovering from a very rare form of cancer, having just had surgery. I tried looking for a link to a donations area but failed to locate one - however there is this page which has some options to donate in Jason's name (as well as an area to follow his recovery).

So, with wishes streaming to Jason for a speedy recovery, let's enjoy Rusty.

(1994, Quarterstick Records)

01 Bible Silver Corner
o2 Shiner
03 The Everyday World of Bodies
04 Jungle Jim
05 Gauge
06 Tooth Fairy Retribution Manifesto

one zip file for you to enjoy!