Island Earth Is A Happening Place

In the early 90s Sandals, a four piece from South London, signed to Acid Jazz and put out a series of 12″ singles and an album called Rite To Silence. They came up in conversation in a social media post a few days ago and I thought it was time to put some of their music back up here (the last time they featured was back in 2012).

Sandals came together from the club scene and various record stalls and clothes shops, eventually rehearsing in the storage room of a book/record/clothing shop they ran in London’s Trocadero. They mashed together a heady stew of beatnik spoken word poetry, soul, funk and jazz, lots of percussion and bongos, some heavy grooves and early 90s clubland sounds.

Debut single Nothing, from 1992, was produced by Leftfield and predates the trip hop sound by a year or two. Samples of voices, boom- boom- bap drums and whispered/stoned street poetry.

Nothing (Extended Version)

In the same year they put out a second 12″ single, produced this time by Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner of Sabres Of Paradise, with a more progressive house sound. It was remixed by DSS (David Holmes and Ashley Beedle). It opens with Country Joe’s Woodstock crowd participation exercise, ‘Give me an F! Give me a U! Give me a C! Give me a K! What’s that spell? What;s that spell?’ The techno drums come in and Derek Delves begins singing/chanting about the mess we’re in, war, the environment, general madness and bad times. It couldn’t be more relevant today, the best part of three decades later, if it tried. This being a 1992 progressive house remix it goes on for twelve minutes, never really letting up. Exhilarating stuff.

We Wanna Live (DSS Remix)

Also from 1992 was this one, A Profound Gas, which I played loads at the time and still sounds great today. Flutes, guitars, pan pipes, chunky drums, production from Leftfield and more beatnik poetry with some memorable lines and imagery.

A Profound Gas (Vocal Mix)

The group disbanded in 1996 having had a second album rejected by London Records. It was eventually released in 2009 in Japan. A copy came my way recently and when I’ve fully had a chance to listen to it, more Sandals will be coming this way.

Transient Truth

Dot Allison was here yesterday, providing the vocals on a King Of Woolworths song. That song was posted as part of a long discussion at a One Dove forum/Facebook group about the Sabres Of Paradise mixes of their 1992 dub- house masterpiece Transient Truth (with group member and founding member of One Dove Ian Carmichael chipping in). The 12″ release came with two remixes, the Old Toys Mix and the Old Toys Dub, both credited to Andrew Weatherall, Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner (collectively Sabres Of Paradise). The first keeps some of Dot’s vocal and picks up the pace halfway though, the second more abstract and dubbier. Both are pretty high tempo and fairly full on reworkings.

Transient Truth (Old Toys Mix)

Transient Truth (Old Toys Dub)

There was a second vinyl release, a promo 12″ in a plain sleeve, collecting four further remixes. I hope I’ve got all these labelled correctly- all the mixes are here but I apologise in advance if any are wrongly titled or the links are mixed up. Inevitably there’s a lot of repetition and parts that appear and re-appear (the synth part, various drum and percussion sounds, Dot’s vocals, the bassline)- but they’re all worthy of release and it’s clear to see why Weatherall wanted the four on the promo out as well as the Old Toys versions. The other four mixes are the Paradise Mix, the Sabres Fuzz Dub, the Squelch Mix and the Death Of A disco Dancer Mix.

The Paradise Mix starts slow, then builds with that Sabres timbale sound, fragments of Dot whispering ‘listen’, lots of percussion and some melodica as a top line. At ten minutes plus it’s the longest of the remixes.

Transient Truth (Paradise Mix)

The Fuzz Dub is thumpier and sparser with an intermittent buzzy, fuzz line, giving it its name.

Transient Truth (Sabres Fuzz Dub)

The Squelch mix is pretty far gone, noises flipping between the speakers, a bit of Dot, reverb heavy timbale, a long, slower trip, more melodica- dubbed out dub- house, a dub of a dub.

Transient Truth (Squelch Mix)

The final one starts with a kick drum and clatters away with the familiar synth riff fading in and out and the descending bass part to the fore. I don’t know why it’s called Death Of A Disco Dancer Mix- I can’t find any obvious reference to The Smiths song of the same name.

Transient Truth (Death Of A Disco Dancer Mix)

Stick all of them on a cd or a playlist and lose yourself in a slice of 1992. After a while, listening to them one after the other, a zen-like calm kicks in, time and space slip away , transience becomes the natural state. Or something. Even if a One Dove/Sabres inspired transcendence is not achieved, it’s a nice way to spend forty-five minutes.

Conquistador

Through the magic of social media I spent twelve minutes last night listening to this unexpectedly. It popped up in my timeline and now I’m passing it on again.

Conquistador (Sabres of Paradise Mix 3)

This is a big file and the file host will probably say there was a problem playing it as a result but it should be fine to download.

The bit at seven minutes with the wire stretching noises followed by the increased tempo sounded particularly good. As was often the way in 1993 Weatherall, Burns and Kooner turned in three remixes of Conquistador for the 12″. I’ve posted Mix 1 before back in 2012 so here’s the other one.

Conquistador (Sabres of Paradise Mix 2)

Shorter, chunky progressive house and with squiggly bits but liable to get you going if you like this kind of thing.

Espiritu were Vanessa Quinones and Taplin from Frazier Chorus, signed to Heavenly (a label that continues to put out top quality music to this day). Espiritu combined house with Latin beats and put out two albums and multiple singles. It became a one woman show after a while and more recently Vanessa has formed a band called Vanessa And The Os with James Iha (x-Smashing Pumpkins) and more recently still has been making French pop as Allez Pop.

At roughly the same time this popped up in my timeline too.

This is a picture of Jagz Kooner’s Roland TR 808 which he is/was selling. In the accompanying blurb Jagz wrote that this is the actual machine that many Sabres Of Paradise songs and recordings were done using as well as some of Primal Scream’s recordings (Swastika Eyes, some of XTRMNTR, some of Evil Heat). That’s an actual piece of musical history. I considered having a whip round and getting part shares in it but couldn’t raise the funds in time (offers above £3750).

Swordplay

I’m just going to return to Sabres Of Paradise if that’s alright. The live set I posted on Monday was pretty well received and has been flying around other sites too. I pulled out some Sabres cds to play in the car this week and that included two cd singles, Theme and Wilmot, both released in 1994. I didn’t buy cds then, being an uptight vinyl purist. Cds were clearly an attempt by The Man to destroy vinyl, resell everyone their record collections, make vast profits at our expense and stomp all over our culture, our entire way of life. Something like that. Some years later I softened my approach after cds began to infiltrate my household via the front covers of music magazines- a gateway drug to a shiny, silver state of mind. I succumbed. Years after that ebay began to offer opportunities to fill in gaps caused by my vinyl purism and at rock bottom prices. Hence, at some point I bought the cd singles of Theme and Wilmot for a couple of quid. If you don’t know Theme orWilmot (and I’m sure most of you do) then please go  and listen to them.Theme is a massive, crunchy, swirling thing with hip hop drums, a horn fanfare and spiralling guitars and can make you feel like you’re in a film. Wilmot is a delicious, delirious skank. Coming hard on the heels of 1993’s Smokebelch they make up a brilliant threesome demonstrating the outer limits of Weatherall, Koons, and Burns’ imaginations. The vinyl releases had B-sides- Theme came with dubby Return Of Carter and Edge 6, both later compiled on Sabresonic II and both much loved round here. Wilmot was backed by Rumble Summons, eight minutes of a man kicking a bin. But, to get to the point, the cd singles had extra B-sides, filling in a little more of the Sabres Of Paradise story. Theme’s fourth track was Theme III, a deconstruction or version that sounded a little like a Metal Box track played really slowly. Wilmot had a Scruff remix and also Siege Refrain, an instrument or something totally distorted playing a little riff with some drums so laden with echo they sound like they’re coming from the bottom of a swimming pool.

Theme III

Siege Refrain

An Exciting Tale Of Defiance, Fury And Romance

Someone asked me if I had digital copies of these three songs. I do. So here they are. Sabres of Paradise in session for John Peel, March 13th 1993, recorded at the Sabres basecamp and not released anywhere officially. These rips came from the much missed Ripped In Glasgow website. The audio quality is much better than rips from radio to cassette to mp3 sound like you’d think they should be. The three tunes are all excellent and the recording session dates from after the Haunted Dancehall album so are pretty much the last thing the band did before Weatherall moved on to Two Lone Swordsmen.

Stanshall’s Lament

Blackfriar’s Sunday

Duke On Berwick

Wilmoth

Some of you will love this 1994 Sabres Of Paradise single, all slink and skank and lust for life. The vocals were by Wonder, who was one half of yesterday’s postees Secret Knowledge. At Cream nightclub, Liverpool, one night in 1994 a scheduled dj appearance in the backroom by Mr Weatherall failed to materialise- transport problems I think. The resident dj and co-owner Darren Hughes stepped up to the decks and played an advance copy of Wilmot. A whole room of people went from dancing to house/techno to doing the reggae dance. The video has Sabres men Weatherall, Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns, and a troupe of majorettes dancing through London at dawn. Magic.

I found out recently that this 1931 calypso song, Black But Sweet, by Wilmoth Houdini provided a good part of the inspiration. Listen to the horn line…

Wilmoth Houdini also went under the names Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks, Edgar Leon Sinclair and King Houdini. He emigrated from Trinidad to New York, was a major player on the calypso scene in the 30s and 40s and lived there until his death in 1977.

Johnny Favourite

Drew’s post on Friday of David Holmes’ My Mate Paul put me in mind of his epic debut single (Holmes’ not Drew’s), Johnny Favourite, a fifteen minute progressive house stomp (done with Sabresmen Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns).

Johnny Favourite is named after a missing singer in the 1987 film Angel Heart. In the film Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel, a private detective hired by Louis Cypher (geddit), to find the singer. In the Deep South he runs into all kinds of trouble- Robert de Niro peeling hard-boiled eggs, southern horror, the beautiful Lisa Bonet and some very messy voodoo…

I haven’t seen Angel Heart for years. I remember it as having atmosphere and tension. I’d like to see if it still stands up. Holmes’ track does.