Isolation Mix 15: Songs The Lord Sabre Taught Us Part Two

Two weeks ago I posted my fourteenth Isolation Mix, The Songs Lord Sabre Taught Us, an hour of music from Andrew Weatherall’s record box, as featured on his radio shows, playlists, interviews and mixes, mixed together seamlessly (vaguely). Today’s mix is a second edition, fifteen songs he played, raved about or sampled, most of them first heard via him (I was listening to Stockholm Monsters before I was a fan of Mr Weatherall, a long lost Factory band who made a bunch of good singles and a fine album called Alma Matter and also the best band to come out of Burnage). It’s a tribute to the man and his record collection that there are so many great records from his back pages to sift through and then sequence into some kind of pleasing order. Rockabilly, dub, Factory, post- punk, krautrock legends, Weller spinning out through the Kosmos…

Cowboys International: The ‘No’ Tune
Sparkle Moore: Skull And Crossbones

The Pistoleers: Bank Robber

The Johnny Burnette Trio: Honey Hush

Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze: Dubwise

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry: Disco Devil

African Head Charge: Dervish Chant

Big Youth: Hotter Fire

Colourbox: Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse

Stockholm Monsters: All At Once

Holger Czukay, Jah Wobble and Jaki Liebezeit: How Much Are They?

White Williams: Route To Palm

Paul Weller: Kosmos (Lynch Mob Bonus Beats)

A R Kane: A Love From Outer Space

Chris And Cosey: October (Love Song) ‘86

All At Once

I passed up the opportunity recently to push my thumb on on a piece of clickbait I saw on my phone entitled ‘are Oasis the best ever band from Manchester?’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous’ I thought, ‘of course they aren’t. In fact Oasis aren’t even the best band Burnage’.

The honour ‘best ever band from Burnage’ lies with Stockholm Monsters, a little known band who formed in 1980, signed to Factory and released several wonderful records before splitting up in 1987. Their debut, 1981’s Fairy Tales single, was produced by Martin Hannett. Wilson loved them for a while before the Happy Mondays replaced them in his affections. Peter Hook took them under his wing and produced their 1984 album Alma Mater. Their sound is very mid 80s indie- jagged, trebly guitars, cheap keyboards, the occasional trumpet and a non- singer on vocals (I mean this as a compliment. Non- singers on vocals are often my favourite singers).  In 1984 they put this single out (and in typical Factory/ 80s indie style the B-side called National Pastime is just as good- I posted it in January 2018).

All At Once

Later on they worked drum machines and New Order’s Emulator into their sound and in the face of press and record buying public indifference bid farewell with a single called Partyline, a song that starts off wonky and unsure of itself, sparse bassline and swells of one fingered keyboards before it explodes into melody in the chorus. This performance on Granada TV is low key but entrancing, a glimpse of band who should be far better known than they are.

Partyline was their parting shot, a 1987 single on Factory (FAC 146 fact fans). It was produced by Hooky under the Be Music guise that members of New Order used for production work. There’s plenty of reverb on the drums, too much probably heard now in 2019, and the instruments seem to be in competition with each other, overloaded and fighting for space, it’s all very busy and singer Tony France is straining at the top of his register. But I love it, it’s flawed but somehow perfect, and it’s got a spark, a spirit and a heart that you can look for in any of the Oasis albums from [insert date here] onward and won’t find.

Partyline (Partylive Mix)

Burnage, for those who don’t know, is a suburb of south Manchester, bisected by a dual carriageway called Kingsway. I grew up in Withington, its neighbouring suburb a short walk west. As well as Stockholm Monsters and the Gallaghers Burnage was/is home to loads of people I went to school with, former Manchester United captain and Busby Babe Roger Byrne (who died in the muinich air disaster in 1958), actor David Threlfall and Dave Rowbotham, a former member of Durutti Column and The Invisible Girls (sadly murdered in 1991).

National Pastime

Drew wrote a post a while ago saying that blogging often seems to be about exposing the obscure, bringing to light long forgotten songs and the ones that got missed. In the spirit of that here is an absolute lost gem, a Factory Records B-side by Stockholm Monsters, straight outta Burnage. This song was the flipside to All At Once, released in June 1984.

Opening with clattering drums and a low slung bass, then get a beautifully naive topline and a wonderful non-singer’s vocal. Produced by Peter Hook and lost by a record company who wouldn’t pay for pluggers and promotion because they believed the music would sell itself. If this was the only song they’d released, they’d still more than deserve a place in a version of mid-80s indie scene. A little slice of perfection.

National Pastime