On this Saturday morning in October, for no reason other than it came to mind last night, I present to you…. the greatest techno record ever made.

This is the unreleased mix of String Of Life, as available on the superb Retro Techno/Detroit Definitive: Emotions Electric lp, one of dance music’s essential texts. This is not techno with banging repetitive beats (not that there’s anything wrong with that, in the right time and place), nor a slightly dated late 80s club anthem. This is electronic music as food for the soul, machine music for a future that never quite materialised. As the subtitle of the album said ‘Emotions Electric’- and without vocals too.

Derrick May’s borrowed piano loop, some wood block percussion, some twinkly bits, some synth string stabs. The sum of the parts…

Strings Of Life (Unreleased Mix)

My Favourite Way Of Getting Kicks

There’s a grebo reunion package tour about to do the rounds- Jesus Jones, The Wonderstuff and Pop Will Eat Itself. Steady, don’t rush off to Ticketmaster all at once. If Jesus Jones were playing in our back garden I’d pull the blinds down and turn up the TV, and The Wonderstuff would probably turn the bar into a giant magnet but I’d quite enjoy PWEI. I saw them in my first term as a student at Liverpool University and they were dead good fun. I’m sure I’m not the only one who didn’t know Beaver Patrol was a cover until much later as well (Shadows Of Knight, 60s nugget band). Beaver Patrol is of course infantile, purile and sexist. At the gig, autumn ’88, I was talking to a grebo girl I quite fancied. I was wearing a bandanna (around my head) and a white shirt with a waistcoat. Thought I was cutting quite a dash. I only realised later that several times I’d referred to PWEI’s Clint as Clive. Although maybe it was the bandanna that damaged my chances more.

Beaver Patrol

Shake A Tail Feather Baby

When we were kids, and I mean under ten years old kids, we had a Dansette record player in the bedroom I shared with my brother. We also had a fairly random selection of records. These included Buggles’ Video Killed The Radio Star, several flexidiscs that came free with magazines (including a ‘comedy’ one done by Levis about black denim), Snap! by The Jam, some Barron Knights 7″ singles, The Floral Dance, a Love Me Do 7″, an album of the hits of 1969 re-done by session musicians, a bunch of Madness singles and whatever cowboy/C & W records my Mum thought we might like. I’m a little hazy on the chronology- all these records may not have existed in the bedroom at the same time but it’s how I remember it. In fact thinking about it, Snap! didn’t come out until ’83 so that’s much later. The Hits of 1969 album is in some ways my earliest musical memory- Galveston, Get Back and Harlem Shuffle standout in my mind, all played note perfect but probably perfunctorily by a bunch of men getting a flat rate for a day in a London recording studio.

Harlem Shuffle was a top 40 hit for Bob and Earl in the US in 1963 but went top ten in the UK on it’s re-release in 1969. It’s got those opening horns (nicked by House Of Pain in 1992 and causing confusion ever since- ooh, the Harlem Shuffle horns; do I stay on the dancefloor? Nope, it’s House Of Pain). Then the grinding rhythm and Bob and Earl working their way lyrically through the full gamut of early 60s dancecrazes.  Apparently it was also Barry White’s first production job.

Harlem Shuffle


I thought I’d posted a link to this but it appears not- Daniel Avery and Justin Robertson’s Deadstock 33s on a track called Magnetic. Minimal, spacey, going a bit krautrock via a dash of New Order. Stream at Soundcloud.

Spirit Of Brooks

Reader Echorich recommends listening to Talk Talk’s Spirit Of Eden while looking at pictures of 20s It Girl Louise Brooks.

Here’s Talk Talk (video only I’m afraid, I’m using a lot of bandwidth at Boxnet this month posting stuff which people actually want)…

And here are some pictures of Louise Brooks…

It’s one way of passing the time.

Advent Post Number One

If we carefully tear and peel open the little door on the Bagging Area advent calendar we can find a festive treat- not some small piece of cheap chocolate but former X Ray Spex singer, the late Poly Styrene and a wonderfully unfestive song. Also 1920s actress and bob pioneer Louise Brooks looking decidedly un-full of festive cheer.

Black Christmas