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.

Flying

I last posted this song three years ago in January 2016 and it’s fair to say a lot has happened since then. Theresa May stumbles on, unable to act, held hostage by her own red lines, her own party and the wingnuts and closet racists of the right wing, and her deal with the DUP. A government that can’t deliver whatever it was the 52% imagined they were voting for. The vox pop sections of TV news and the papers are currently full of people saying they want it over, they want out and they’re happy with a hard Brexit so ‘we’ can get back to being ‘great’ again (never mind the fact that almost everyone who uses that phrase seems to think that the word Great in Great Britain means amazing or powerful and isn’t actually just a geographical term to describe a landmass containing England, Scotland and Wales). Many of these people seem to have an unlived, deluded nostalgia for a England of the early 1950s, a post-Dunkirk and World War II but pre-Suez Crisis country, with an Empire overseas, where the milkman came every morning whistling as he left glass bottles on doorsteps, the birds chirruped in the trees and you could get an appointment at the doctor’s the same day (and there weren’t any people with darker skins or eastern European accents living down the road). I fear we are heading for a No Deal Brexit and that there are plenty of people happily welcoming this, all of whom are also suddenly experts on WTO rules and tariffs. How leaving the E.U. is going to achieve this is unclear to me. From where I’m sitting, it looks like a total disaster, for all of us. People that want to live in the past usually get stuck there. Does any other nation other than the English have such an obsession with its past, a past that never really existed? The only faint glimmer of hope is that the Tory Party will have to own this fuck up forever (and if this whole debacle led to the break up of the United Kingdom, that would be an even sweeter irony).

Back to the song and a total change of mood. St Etienne’s third single was Nothing Can Stop Us, an uptempo slice of indie/dance/northern based around a Dusty Springfield sample and the then new vocalist Sarah Cracknell. The single was a double A-side, the flip being Speedwell, a chunkier, deeper, house influenced tune. The 12″ single was followed up by second 12″, released a week later, with two remixes of Speedwell and an instrumental version of Nothing Can Stop Us. The remixes of Speedwell were by Dean Thatcher and Jagz Kooner, as The Aloof, and are superb. Totally 91.

Speedwell (Flying Mix)

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

Speedwell

Speedwell was the b-side to St Etienne’s Nothing Can Stop Us 12″. A second 12″ single was released with this remix by Dean Thatcher and Jagz Kooner of The Aloof, one of those deep, dub-house remixes from 1991 that are rather popular round here. For that moment just after the sun has gone down (probably best in a summer context that, given that it goes dark at around 4pm currently).

Speedwell (The Flying Mix)

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