Monday’s Long Song

I’m waiting for the comment from keepingitpeel in the box below, if I build it he will come… here for Monday, like dub powered busses turning up in threes, is yet another new release from our friend Andrew Weatherall. This is on top of the Unknown Plunderer 12″ I posted last week, news of a monthly digital only release from Facility 4 (Weatherall and Nina Walsh), the first e.p. out on Friday (more on that later this week perhaps), the announcement of two remixes of a song by The Venetians and now this… The Moton 5.

Nearly eight minutes long, pumping bass, a nagging synth arpeggio, moody keyboards and forward motion. Soundtrack music.

2632 West Pico Boulevard

Like yesterday’s Gary Clail song, this song was inescapable in 1991 but is cut from superior cloth, a genuine contender for Best Song Of The Decade etc.

Unfinished Sympathy

Describing the constituent parts of the song doesn’t really do it justice or come anywhere near identifying what gives Unfinished Sympathy its power. The scratching at the outset, as soon as the needle hits the groove, some studio voices and the tsk tsk tsk of a hi- hat, locate the song in Massive Attack’s roots as a 1980s hip hop collective, the programmed drums roll in, and then we’re off, the strings rolling ominously, the ‘hey hey hey’ sample (John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra apparently), leading into Shara’s ‘I know that I’ve imagined love before…’. For the next few minutes the strings and Shara swell and soar, drama and emotion building, and little touches like the piano rundowns and more scratching keep the song firmly rooted. It sounded ‘classic’ the first time you heard it. It’s never really sounded dated. It can still silence a room.

The stings were added afterwards by Will Malone. Massive Attack tried synth strings but they didn’t cut it and so opted for a full orchestra, having to sell a car to pay for it ( a Mitsubishi Shogun fact fans).

Nellee Hooper’s 12″ mix is pretty smart, re-arranging it for the dance floor, opening with piano and pushing the piano and drums to the fore. Less dramatic and less deep than the album mix but when those extra vocals come in around three minutes it’s all arms in the air and spines a- tingling. Plenty of scratching, some chanted backing vox, thumpier drums- its all good.

Unfinished Sympathy Nellee Hooper 12″ Mix

The video is famous, filmed in a suburb of Los Angeles with Shara shot in one take as she struts through the streets, ignoring everyone around her. The group, 3D, Mushroom and Daddy G are all there briefly. Some of the other people in the video are extras and some real residents of the area who wouldn’t get off the streets. The main reason they went to L.A. to film the video, 3D said, was for the light, a golden light you don’t get anywhere else. It’s a brilliant video, the perfect accompaniment to the song, and much copied. This map pinpoints Shara’s walk should you find yourself chasing the golden light and in L.A. with the desire to recreate it.

Blue Lines was a stunning album, a record I don’t think they’ve come close to matching in the years that followed. That’s not really a criticism- nobody else has come close to it either. It was a genuine crossover record, growing through word of mouth, passed on from hand to hand by cassette through the spring and summer of 1991. From the opening paranoia, heavy funk of Safe From Harm to the slow- slow- quick- quick- slow rapping of 3D, Tricky and Daddy G, to the slow groove of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got, the zonked out calm of Daydreaming to the closing beauty of Hymn To The Big Wheel, whale song and liquid beats and Horace Andy’s vocals.

There’s Something Wrong With Human Nature

A record purchase made on a whim and a coincidental sequence of posts on social media have sent me down a rabbit warren of On U Sound recently. The record purchase was On U Sound’s Pay It All back Volume 7, a budget price double album of recent releases from Adrian Sherwood’s dub stable. Not long after someone posted Human Nature, the 1991 single by Gary Clail, produced by Sherwood, a massive club and chart hit in 91 and inescapable for a while.  Weirdly I do not own Human Nature in any format- vinyl, cassette, CD or mp3. I have plenty of On U Sound, several mp3s of Gary Clail tracks and Beef on 7″ but no Human Nature. Here’s the video.

 

Clail’s impassioned vocal over the dub/ indie- dance rhythm track and that keyboard riff, the piano part and Lana Pellay’s ‘let the carnival begin…’ chorus are all obvious highlights, much of the music being David Harrow’s musical handiwork (the keyboard riff, as I’m sure you all know, was used on the titles Snub TV, the much loved BBC 2 music programme). This being 1991 there were remixes and the Steve Osbourne Perfecto mix is a banger.

Originally the song included a Reverend Billy Graham vocal sample which couldn’t be cleared for release and Clail recorded the part it himself. Some promo copies of the single made it into record shops though. You can hear it here courtesy of blogging legend stx.

In 1989 Gary Clail released an album called End Of The Century Party produced by Sherwood and  featuring an all star cast- members of Tackhead, David Harrow, Bim Sherman, Jah Wobble and Keith Levene. This one is a dubby affair with Bim on vox alongside Clail and is infectious like flu.

Two Thieves And A Liar

 

Miss Lonely Hearts

I was sent a link to this earlier this week, a technicolour riot of samples, surf guitar, synths, repetitive beats and sounds from 1950 science fiction films (something of a theme this week). The source material is Miss Lonely Hearts by The Pink Diamond Revue, an electro- punk duo from Reading, guitars and drums with vocals piped in from samples and a mannequin centre stage when performing live. This remix is five minutes forty five seconds of fun from the hands of South London’s Rude Audio who have graced these pages before. Out soon on 10″ vinyl, the forgotten child of the vinyl revival.

Unknown Plunderer

At the risk of repeating myself, here’s a new from Andrew Weatherall, a fired up, slo- mo dubbed out excursion. This is one from an e.p. out on Byrd Out next month along with another track called End Times Sound and a pair of remixes. Unknown Plunderer, the latest fruit from his writing and recording partnership with Nina Walsh, has Andy Bell laying down guitar lines over the top, clipped riffs ricocheting about over cavernous bass. Tasty stuff.

The Effect

Something altogether darker and less earthbound today, a remix from a forthcoming Dan Wainwright e.p.  by John Paynter (who runs a night/site called A Space Age Freak Out). Percussive, chugging science fiction with a springy bass, theremin action and noises zooming in and out, sounds beamed in from space and bouncing around from the red planet to the Sea of Tranquillity, from Convair Aeronautics to mission control.

 

Sunburst

This fits right in with the songs that I’ve been posting here since Sunday, an offering from 2016 from the Portuguese duo called Lisbon Kid, an optimistic, electronic song, decorated with touches of acoustic guitar and strings and the gentle pull of the sun. Laid back but with far too much going on to be ambient or background chill music.

Sunburst (Alternative Version)