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.

Tristessa

On Saturday night while The Chemical Brothers were block rocking the Other Stage at Glastonbury talk on Twitter turned to the then Dust Brothers 1994 Xmas Dust Up, a cassette given away free with the NME in December 1994. The tape was mixed by Ed and Tom, a window rattling, volume- all-the-way-up, seven song mixtape.

Side 1
The Dust Brothers- Leave Home
Bonus Beats Orchestra- Bonus Beats
The Prodigy- Voodoo People (Dust Brothers Remix)
Depth Charge- Shaolin Buddha Finger

Side 2
Renegade Soundwave- Renegade Soundwave (Leftfield remix)
Strange Brew- One Summer (‘Lektrik Dawn Dub)
Manic Street Preachers- La Tristessa Durera

Image result for dust brothers xmas dust up

Just looking at the sleeve and reading the tracklist transports me back to this cassette causing difficulties for the speakers in a red Nissan Micra back in 94/95- it used to get played a lot for a while.

Bonus Beats Orchestra was Tom and Ed Dust/Chemical under another name. Depth Charge were ace, the 9 Deadly Venoms album was trip hop and big beat before either really got going, and chock full of samples from martial arts films and horror movies. I’ve posted Renegade Soundwave before and the Leftfield remix is particularly good. Strange Brew were a duo from Manchester, one half of whom, Jake Purdy, lived down our street when we were kids. We’d long lost touch by the mid 90s but used to knock around in a gang all the time in the mid 80s. Funny to have a little childhood, local connection with a free NME cassette. Helpfully someone has transferred their copy of the tape digitally and uploaded it to Youtube. The beats sound quite timelocked but as a whole this still sounds fairly fresh I think.

The Dust Brothers would become The Chemical Brothers not long afterwards. Their remix of La Tristessa Durera was done while still Dust and isn’t subtle-  squealing noises from the start, various samples from Ed and Tom’s pile of odds and ends, lots of sirens and James’ vocal. La Tristessa Durera- the sadness endures forever- was written by Richie taking the point of view of a war veteran wheeled out once a year on Poppy Day as a ‘cenotaph souvenir’, poverty causing him to sell his medal. It is one of the best early Manics songs, showing behind the eyeliner, shock quotes and bluster there was some genuine talent.

La Tristessa Durera (From A Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical [Dust] Brothers Remix)

Renegade Soundwave

I was reminded of this at the weekend, a lengthy techno workout from 1994, Leftfield remixing Renegade Soundwave. Moody, thumpy, acidic and very, very good indeed. Sounds like part of a soundtrack to a journey by train at dusk.

Renegade Soundwave (Leftfield Remix)

Fanfare Of Life

Looking back at my posts over the last week shows a fair amount of dub influenced music. Today’s song is in that vein too, a magnificent piece of 90s dub-house from Neil Barnes and Paul Daley.

Song Of Life was a 1992 single and also on Leftfield’s 1995 album Leftism, a rousing enough piece of progressive house in itself but for my money the Fanfare Of Life version from the 12″ release was the one (later on it appeared on the first volume of the Cafe del Mar series, an essential 90s compilation, one I played through from start to end last weekend when the sun shone). Fanfare Of Life takes a dubbier approach, a slower build, synths that give goosebumps and the looped vocal sample of Bulgarian singer Yanka Rupkina). The introduction of the drums at 1.36 is a moment but the breakdown not long afterwards into the dub bassline is tremendous too.

Fanfare Of Life

Various Artists

I’ll try to delve a little further than early 90s dance music compilations at some point but it is the various artists groove I am currently in for this series. Cafe del Mar, a series of albums named after the famous bar in San Antonio, Ibiza, gave birth to that most derided of genres, chill out. The compilation album series runs all the way up to Volume Twenty (released in 2014) but chill had eaten itself long before then.

The first album is a genuinely great compilation, on double vinyl, a round up of songs to listen to as the sun sinks into the Med and as the drugs begin to kick in, compiled by the legendary Jose Padilla himself. The tracklist for Volumen Uno has several tunes I’d take anywhere, among them Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Music For A Found Harmonium, William Orbit’s The Story Of Light, Underworld’s long builder Second Hand, A Man Called Adam’s wonderfully up Estelle and the skyscraping Beatless Mix of Smokebelch II by Sabres Of Paradise. Plus these two, first up a dubby version of Song Of Life…

Fanfare Of Life

And this one, the closer by Tabula Rasa. Not so much a song, more a feeling.

Sunset At The Cafe Del Mar

I have never watched the sunset at the Cafe del Mar. One day it’ll happen…

Release The Horns

Rummaging through a box of records at the second hand record shop the other, a box labelled House/Dance/Ambient I found a pristine copy of Leftfield’s Song Of Life (Remixes) ep for only £2. So I bought it. Two of the three tracks are the Underworld remixes of Song Of Life which are excellent. The third is Leftfield’s own remix of Release the Pressure, premium grade skanking dub techno.

Release The Horns

Leftfield

Final Lydon post this morning- it would be silly to move on without mentioning Open Up, his collaboration with Leftfield from 1993, a high octane, pummeling piece of progressive house with a paint stripping vocal from John complaining about Hollywood’s refusal to cast him in its films. Brilliantly, as the song was released Los Angeles was on fire.

Leftfield’s Neil Barnes had known Lydon from North London and they approached him tentatively about vocals. Lydon leapt at it. The single came with a handful of remixes including the Sabres Of Paradise I Hate Pink Floyd Mix and a Dust (Chemical) Brothers remix.

At a later date (some royal anniversary or other) Leftfield returned the favour and remixed God Save The Queen. Not strictly necessary but I once heard this in a club and it sounded immense.