I Love You Because You’re Different!

I was going to give the Marvel thing a rest but I’ve got several great frames still to use and it’s given the writing of posts a new lease of life for me and I don’t ignore those kind of things when it comes to trying to find something to say every day.

Barry Adamson, a man who has played bass with both Magazine and The Bad Seeds, had several first rate solo albums and a bunch of soundtracks (including The Beach, Lost Highway and Natural Born Killers), has a new e.p. out next month- remixes of his Love Sick Dick 6 track e.p. Love Sick Dick was a kind of modern, urban blues for 2017. One of the remixes out next month is by A Certain Ratio.

Martin Moscrop, ACR’s guitarist and trumpeter, describes the remix as more of a collaboration. ACR built up a new track, with drums, 303, guitar, keyboards and trumpet, dropping in Barry’s vocals, chopped up, and the backing vox. The remix is tagged ACR:MCR Rework and the reference to their 1990 masterpiece is spot on. This sounds like a continuation of the sound of that record, lovely uptempo grooves with Barry’s vocals on top and an extended funky end section. Very good indeed.

ACR have recently signed a deal with Mute and a series of reissues has started, with Good Together and ACR:MCR due next year.

Advertisements

ACR Too

A couple of weeks ago Echorich wrote an A Certain Ratio imaginary compilation album for The Vinyl Villain, a ten song ACR primer. I was going to do it but was slower off the mark than Echorich. Then I thought about just sending in an ep’s worth as an extra, a Sextet maybe, but when I thought about it, it was easy to find another ten songs from ACR’s rich and varied back catalogue. So my ACR:ICA was posted at The Vinyl Villain yesterday. You can find it here. One of the things mine and Echorich’s versions show collectively and was commented on by JTFL is how far ‘the band morphed over time but still sounded like themselves’. They remain very underrated and outside certain circles a very unknown group but they are much loved- and were/are musically significant too.

Your Blue Eyes was a 1989 single and opened the major label album Good Together. It is classy Mancunian pop. This vinyl rip has a couple of seconds of wonderful crackle before the song starts. As we all know, life has surface noise.

Your Blue Eyes

Right Back

Jez Kerr, frontman and bass player for A Certain Ratio, has had an on-off solo thing going on for a few years. ACR have signed a deal with Mute and are planning a series of re-releases plus a new album so the solo thing is probably off for the moment but I revisited some of his solo tracks from 2012 recently and there are a couple you might like and may not have heard.

Reason I Feel Like An Alien has a dreamlike melody and an ACR-like vocal but this is more meditative and lost than ACR are. There’s another version which is even spacier but I can’t find a link to it right now. The video is pretty hypnotic too.

Rip You Right Back rides in on noises and a mechanical rhythm and stays right there, with Jez’s monotone vocals sinking over the top. In different ways I can hear the influence of Brian Eno in both songs. The pair are off an album called Numb Mouth Eat Waste which you can still pick up in the usual places.

The Runner

The Runner by A Certain Ratio is the best, least known song from their mid 80s phase, post-Factory and pre-house. It sort of manages to sound like its caught in between the two as well with a driving rhythm, some discordant brass and some bleeps behind Jez Kerr’s dry vocal. It came out on a 12″ called Greetings Four on an Italian label, Materiali Soneri, after their appearance at a gig in Italy (and although the single had pictures from the Italian gig on the sleeve the songs were recorded in the less latin surroundings of Rochdale). The single had versions of songs released on Force (Inside, Bootsy and Fever 103), and maybe they’re superior versions to the Force versions too, but the real treat is The Runner. The dark, strange funk sound of ACR.

The Runner

And here, in glorious wobbly VHS form, are ACR live on the telly in 1985 doing Wild Party and Inside (swapping instruments just for fun). On keyboards is Andy Connell who went on to form Swing Out Sister.

Nice Outfit

I can’t decide if it’s heartening or disappointing that a group as critically adored as A Certain Ratio can pull about two hundred people to a small venue underneath King George’s Hall in Blackburn on a cold night in November. Heartening I suppose that a band who have sold so few records have a devoted fanbase, many of whom travelled some distance to see them but disappointing that it was only two hundred. On the plus side there was plenty of room to have a shuffle and no barrier in front of the low stage so we were within touching distance of the group. Not that I did touch them- that would be a bit weird. One audience member did spend part of the final song on stage with them, stepping up onto the stage and being given a cowbell to bang.
As ACR took the stage Jez Kerr opened with ‘Evening Burnley’, a nod to the not very friendly rivalry that exists between the two Lancashire mill towns. Then it was straight into the punk-funk. The group were all dressed in monochrome, fitting the austere sound of their early 80s work. Martin Moscrops guitar playing bringing the wiry sound, Jez’s bass the funk, Donald Johnson more on it than a drum machine and Tony Quigley’s clarinet brings a discordant edge. Do The Du is spectacularly northern, stepped chord changes and muscular rhythms. ‘We’ll get you dancing later’ Jez quips after Flight has filled the room. Half way through Liam Mullen’s keyboards start to bring us from the early 80s to the late 80s and we’re into the house influenced tunes, a wonderful 27 Forever with Denise’s vocals now to the fore and then into career high points Won’t Stop Loving You and Good Together. ACR were always in New Order’s shadow but these songs show there wasn’t much between them in terms of making dance-pop. The samples kick in (‘Nice outfit’) and we’re into full on Hacienda territory with Be What You Wanna Be. Then a wonderful, fully fleshed out Shack Up and after a brief pause we’re at the encore with the samba sounds of Si Firmi O Grido, band members swapping instruments, congas, shakers, whistles, bongos, everything you can bang, tap or shake.
Everyone seemed to have a good time, the middle aged Factory heads, the former ravers, the Mums and Dads on a night out, a smattering of younger people. For a group who are no longer a full time job for any of the members, who only do one offs or sporadic bursts of gigs (they played Lille and Paris two weeks ago), they are fantastically tight, able to to turn on a sixpence and shift the rhythms around telepathically. They’ve just signed a deal with Mute so expanded re-issues of their 80s and 90s albums are on the cards plus something new. You can’t say these nearly men and women of Manchester’s music scene don’t deserve it.

Winter Hill

Winter Hill sits north of Manchester on Rivington Moor, near Chorley and Bolton with Blackburn and Darwen further north. On top of it is an enormousTV mast which can be seen for miles around. I pass it on the way to work. Next Saturday a few of us are going to Blackburn to see A Certain Ratio play at St George’s Hall. Given its part in the story of the north west’s musical history- Blackburn’s warehouse parties in the late 80s, the Sett End in Shadsworth etc- you’d imagine that ACR might pull a decent sized crowd. When we got our tickets a few days ago they came in the post number 47, 48. 49 and 50. At least we should be able to get a good view and place down at the front.

In 1981 ACR released Winter Hill on their To Each… album. Produced by Martin Hannett, Winter Hill is a twelve minute long journey in sound, with some urgent drumming and whistles and an alternating two note drone. Stick with it as the tension builds and then fades away.

Samba

Brazil, Olympics, Paralympics, A Certain Ratio, Samba 123, Fila Brazillia remix, Rob’s Records, Steve Cobby.

If you type the word Samba into a Google image search this is one of the few nipple and buttock free pictures. Try it. See? Thought I better keep it respectable- this is a family blog after all.