One November Monday

Back in the winter of 2009, on a bleak, windy Monday, I died and went to heaven.

two-tribes-poster.jpgActually, I tell a lie, it was Slough.
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When I think of Slough I see the opening credits to the UK comedy The Office which was supposedly based there. It’s all industrial buildings, dull office blocks and council estates, absolutely nothing to write home about (sorry any Slough dwellers reading this). I’d been invited by my friend Ian Peel to visit him at an address owned by the record label ZTT – home of Trevor Horn, his associated productions as well as the back catalogue of Stiff records, which they acquired in the mid 80’s. Arriving at the address revealed a nondescript ‘premises’ – it wasn’t a house or office in the conventional sense and – while searching for an entrance round the back – Ian popped his head out and beckoned me inside.

I’ve known Ian for a few years now, initially through a shared love for the Zang Tuum Tumb (ZTT) label and it’s golden period in the 80’s, but also for our fondness of the music of that decade. He regularly writes for the Guardian, Record Collector and the like as well as co-ordinating reissues and releases for ZTT, Stiff and occasionally his own label Karvavena. On occasion he picks my brains for something and disappears back into the ether although this time I’d provided him with much more than a soundbite for a magazine feature. An email arrived one day from Philip Marshall who was helping Ian with the reissue of a deluxe 2 CD edition of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s Welcome To The Pleasuredome album for ZTT. Could I help with sourcing images for the release?

For those unaware, (probably most of you) Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and more importantly the whole aesthetic of the ZTT label in the 80’s, had a huge effect on me in my formative years. Most people have one or two bands that they ‘grew up’ with, moments where a bands rise to fame and the mania that surrounded them dovetailed with your own musical tastes and that group becomes forever linked with your memories of the period. For most of ’84 and ’85 I bought little else than the bands on the ZTT roster, Frankie, Art of Noise, Propaganda, Grace Jones‘ incredible Slave To The Rhythm LP, even venturing into contemporary classical waters with Andrew Poppy, and of course, the Frankie Say… T-shirts.

bang-poster.jpg4th-no-1-poster.jpg

Jumping 20 years forward in time I was perusing a ZTT fan forum when I chanced upon someone selling the original artwork for the ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ album. To cut another digression short, I ended up buying the paintings of the front, inner gatefold and back from the original artist Lo Cole and they now hang proudly in my studio. Another jump, 5 years to the present, and Ian is trying to source unique images for the 28 page booklet that will accompany the reissue. The ZTT archive is incomplete, a lot of it having either been binned over time or destroyed in a fire at an Island records warehouse over a decade ago and this was where I fitted in.

Being a fan, over the years I’ve been trawling eBay and used magazine shops for copies of the music press from the 80’s and collecting the ads for all the releases – mini graphic masterpieces in themselves that had influenced my design tastes greatly. Ian had seen this collection and asked if I had any more including the scans of the Pleasuredome preliminary sketches and paintings Lo had sent me when I’d been discussing the purchase of his work. I did and photographed various promo and fly posters too big to include in the folders as well as details from the cover paintings. Then he dropped the bombshell. He was spending a couple of days a week in a property owned by ZTT, sorting out all the master tapes from their archive – the fabled ‘ZTT cupboard’ as it’s known to collectors. Because the artwork required from my collection was so valuable, we agreed I should should drop it off in person to Ian whilst he was working there.
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original-pleasuredome-painting.jpg original-pleasuredome-inner-painting-detail.jpg original-pleasuredome-back-painting.jpg

The thought that I would be in a room with boxes of master tapes all connected directly to the label and music I loved was thrilling but nothing prepared me for the sight I saw upon stepping into the room. It was the whole downstairs floor of the building, the size of a small office or a very large living room. Boxes covered nearly every inch of floor space and were piled up to chest height, Ian had started to sort them into stacks relating to each artist and there was a small warren of footpaths between the piles. Half of the room was barely touched and the sheer volume of boxes was overwhelming.

GJ Slave master 2GJ Slave diskette GJ Slave master

I looked down and saw a stack marked ‘Grace Jones’, in it were various master tapes for the ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ LP and single, duplicates for different territories but no session tapes, yet. Several boxes of Art of Noise reels revealed 24 track tapes of various ‘Moments In Love’ versions, the ‘Beatbox’ and ‘Into Battle’ 12″s, an early, unreleased version of their first album entitled ‘Worship’, already split into an A and B side for the cutting house. Fairlight discs and studio session sheets where inside the boxes too, containing info on what was recorded when, by whom and, no doubt, the original samples used on the tracks. One had the words “I never want to hear this ever again – A. Dudley” on it, another “Anne in tears” written on the metal reel itself.

AON Beatbox 12" master AON Beatbox diskette AON box 1 AON box 2 AON early tape AON Moments master AON Worship 1 AON Worship 2

“Here’s the Frankie pile”, offered Ian, pointing to about 50 boxes, each stuffed with reels of master tape, cans of film used for videos, VHS, Hi-8, DAT and cassettes. There were session tapes for the ‘Liverpool’ album, I think I saw at least 50+ reels, mixes upon mixes, vocal sessions from actors like Joanna Lumley, Pamela Stephenson and Jeff Palmer. A version of ‘Two Tribes’ finished on my birthday in 1984 marked ‘mix 115’. The reels of an unreleased 7 & 12 inch remix by Paul Morley of their last single, ‘Watching The Wildlife’, ready for the cutting house to master. A ‘Welcome To the Pleasuredome’ ‘continuous wacky jam’ between Trevor Horn Steve Lipson and JJ Jeczalik entitled ‘the shit mix’. This was like entering one of those lost temples in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the ultimate digging in the crates session with the added appeal of teenage nostalgia.

FGTH Pleasedome shit mix FGTH Pleasuredome Palmer vox FGTH Rage Hard Lumley vox FGTH Rage Hard Stephenson vox FGTH Relax 7" master FGTH Relax Sex mix master FGTH Two Tribes mix 115 FGTH Two Tribes Video destructo master FGTH Wildlife Morley 7 & 12" mixes FGTH Wildlife Orchestra mix FGTH Wildlife:Waves 12" mixes

After four hours my hands were black and I had to get back to London but I felt I’d barely scratched the surface. A couple of boxes were filled between the two of us, full of interesting or important tapes that needed to be baked and transferred to DAT for future compilations. Pleasuredomes indeed as an old Paul Morley-penned sleeve note read.

The deluxe reissue of Frankie’s ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ is out April 12th from ZTT / Salvo / Union Square Music. It comes with a second CD of unheard works in progress, rare alternate 12″ and cassette only cuts including a completely unheard extended version of ‘Ballad of 32’ from the original album. Included is a 28 page booklet featuring text by Ian, design and layout in the style of the original releases from Philip and many picture contributions from myself. Ian even let me have a hand in the track selection and order on the bonus CD, running it past me and taking on board suggestions for inclusions and omissions. Last but not least, I get a nice credit inside :)

Buy it here

More design, visuals and tape shots in the gallery below, click to enlarge. I’ve been writing and researching a long piece entitled ‘Who’s Afraid of the Art of ZTT?’ for about 5 years now, it’s nearly finished and will make an appearance someday…

Posted in Design, Event, Music, Records. | 25 Comments |

RIP Talcy Malcy

A sad loss, one of a kind for sure, the Sex Pistols – whatever. For me it was all about the Duck Rock LP. I wrote this for Wax Poetics #19 back in 2006 for my top ten all time greatest cut and paste records:

Malcolm McLaren “Duck Rock” (Charisma) 1983

More a collage of cultures than literal cut and paste—this is generally considered to be the record that brought hip-hop to the U.K. The rulebook was still being written and McLaren stuck his head in the door, staged a smash and grab and headed off to Africa via Cuba, Columbia and Tennessee with the words “Zulu Nation” ringing in his ears. He got pretty lucky with his big steal too—breaking by the Rock Steady Crew, art by Keith Haring and Dondi White, vocals by the Ebonettes, all dressed up back in London by Vivienne Westwood. Luckiest of all he got Trevor Horn to put it all together before he rocketed to super producer status with Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Grace Jones. After liberally sampling everything, McLaren left it to Horn and his team to work out which way up the map went before returning to take all the credit.

This is McLaren’s strength, he’s a great A&R man and he was in several right places at the same time. He’s not an artist (Horn described working with him as like “knitting with fog”) he’s an ideas man and a publicist, this time with himself as the star. It always seemed a little weird to me at the time to see McLaren fronting this lot with his ginger curls and pasty complexion, he couldn’t have been further removed from the players and performers surrounding him. The whole thing had the air of someone’s dad trying to be ‘down with the kids’ because everyone knew of his past dealings in the Punk and New Romantic scenes. Even back then people were asking what bandwagon Malcolm was jumping on this time.

This is a record much like “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”, one that exists in it’s own bubble; white, middle class Brits trying to adapt black traditional and homemade culture into pop music, of sorts, just don’t call it ‘World Music’. What they came up with is a gigantic, mutant version of the reality they sampled, rearing it’s head up into the charts, that could only exist for a very short while before all it’s constituent parts crashed to the ground and scuttled off in their own directions. This is more than a super group combining their talents, more like a super nation all finding themselves at the same party and staying just long enough to make something unique and never to be repeated.

McLaren 650

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RIP Talcy Malcy

A sad loss, one of a kind for sure, the Sex Pistols – whatever. For me it was all about the Duck Rock LP. I wrote this for Wax Poetics #19 back in 2006 for my top ten all time greatest cut and paste records:

Malcolm McLaren “Duck Rock” (Charisma) 1983

More a collage of cultures than literal cut and paste—this is generally considered to be the record that brought hip-hop to the U.K. The rulebook was still being written and McLaren stuck his head in the door, staged a smash and grab and headed off to Africa via Cuba, Columbia and Tennessee with the words “Zulu Nation” ringing in his ears. He got pretty lucky with his big steal too—breaking by the Rock Steady Crew, art by Keith Haring and Dondi White, vocals by the Ebonettes, all dressed up back in London by Vivienne Westwood. Luckiest of all he got Trevor Horn to put it all together before he rocketed to super producer status with Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Grace Jones. After liberally sampling everything, McLaren left it to Horn and his team to work out which way up the map went before returning to take all the credit.

This is McLaren’s strength, he’s a great A&R man and he was in several right places at the same time. He’s not an artist (Horn described working with him as like “knitting with fog”) he’s an ideas man and a publicist, this time with himself as the star. It always seemed a little weird to me at the time to see McLaren fronting this lot with his ginger curls and pasty complexion, he couldn’t have been further removed from the players and performers surrounding him. The whole thing had the air of someone’s dad trying to be ‘down with the kids’ because everyone knew of his past dealings in the Punk and New Romantic scenes. Even back then people were asking what bandwagon Malcolm was jumping on this time.

This is a record much like “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”, one that exists in it’s own bubble; white, middle class Brits trying to adapt black traditional and homemade culture into pop music, of sorts, just don’t call it ‘World Music’. What they came up with is a gigantic, mutant version of the reality they sampled, rearing it’s head up into the charts, that could only exist for a very short while before all it’s constituent parts crashed to the ground and scuttled off in their own directions. This is more than a super group combining their talents, more like a super nation all finding themselves at the same party and staying just long enough to make something unique and never to be repeated.

McLaren 650

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Warp 20 (London)

Warp 20

Had great fun last night at the Coronet for Warp’s 20th birthday bash. Nice to see lots of old faces (and T shirts) and be part of the label’s celebrations considering I’m not actually signed to them. The Blech 20 set seemed to go down well even though I’d had little time to prepare anything but I’ll be doing a proper recording this week which will pop up somewhere in time for Xmas.

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Happy Halloween

pumpkinzI know it’s a bit late but I wanted to share these two pumpkins I carved for the kids’ party.

Got back from Bristol Solid Steel where DK and I played with Hexstatic, King Cannibal, DJ Cheeba and Moneyshot as well as D.O.P. of course. The others all rocked it but we fell foul of some technical problems and just plain sloppy mixing in the middle of the set. We’d spent a week making up quite a complex video piece that we’d never tried before and it was a seat of our pants execution.

Saturday night was the Big Chill House alongside Cheebs again (who rocked it amazingly both nights) and Altern8 who sounded excellent up until I left. The city was full of freaks and ghouls, zombies being the big favourite it seems.

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More King Cannibal downloads

Adding to the post below and, on the eve of Dylan ‘King Cannibal’ Richards‘ first full length release:

Both Dylan and I were pretty gutted when Ninja said they weren’t going to do a last 12″ single from the album (not a physical one anyway) as we wouldn’t see the cover image any bigger than CD sized. All that effort and work, lost on a format little bigger than a coaster! I’ve taken the step to have them available as a series of desktops and a high quality jpeg of the cover, twice the size of an LP sleeve, at a resolution that you could make a poster from on the Downloads page.

Let The Night Roar is out now on Ninja Tune

[singlepic id=2015 w=636 h=636 float=left]

Votel vs Vannier

Got sent these the other day by Sean Vinylement who also works for Finder’s Keepers Records. On the left is a rather fine mix of Jean-Claude Vannier compositions by Andy Votel – limited to 69 copies apparently. Alongside it is Sean’s new album ‘Symbiosis’ by his alter ego Demdike Stare, a very deep electronic record that reminds me of Basic Channel and Murcof simultaneously but with something far darker lurking under the surface.

stare

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New record, new website and new radio show

dj-food-weirdworld-ep-12cover-72-dpi
It’s here, you wait for ages and then three come along at once. Yes I finally got round to releasing another record and it’s out today, a 30 minute EP on Ninja Tune called ‘One Man’s Weird Is Another Man’s World’. It features the vocal talents of Natural Self (yes, I said vocal) on lead track ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ and the nifty drums of Dr. Rubberfunk alongside the sampled vocals of Ken Nordine and The Dragons on ‘All Covered In Darkness’. Bundy K Brown is behind the board for ‘A Trick of the Ear’ and an old collaboration with PC makes it’s first appearance in the form of ‘extract from Stolen Moments’. 2000ad artist Henry Flint graciously provided drawings for the cover art to make it something worth having and holding when it folds out to an A2 sized poster. It’s available in the form of a 5 track 12″ with poster cover and download code or a 6 track mp3 bundle.

You can hear selections from it on my Soundcloud and buy it from  iTunesDJ Download /   Play.comSpotifywe7Ninja shop HMV Digital Bleep / Tune Tribe 7 Digital / Juno / Boomkat
There’s an interview in the new Clash Music magazine including a free mp3 and a very nice review by Mark E on Ireallylovemusic

Not only is there a new record but the near mythical DJ Food site is finally ready, choc full of stuff from my Openmind alter ego design work past and present and a full DJ Food discography stretching back nearly 20 years. If you want to know anything about the records connected to this moniker over the years then it will be there along with gig dates, blogs, playlists and more. The site is divided into 4 sections: Diary, Design, Discography and Downloads and you can subscribe to the blog without going through myspace at last. It’s still a work in progress as there is so much to present, especially on the design side of things as most entries provide stories, alternate artwork and release info. A big thanks to Dean at Safe As Milk for all his hard work on making it what it is.

And finally, it’s a Solid Steel takeover this week with an hour long mix from myself based on the EP with tracks from all the contributors, some original sample sources and various things I that inspired the making of it. The second hour is a fantastic mix from The Broken Keys – aka Natural Self and Nostalgia 77 – called ‘Engine Oil and Elbow Grease’, stuffed to the brim with old funk, rock breaks and psyche. You can listen here.

Jim Mahfood and friends – Cafe 1001


I met up with Jim Mahfood, Scott Campbell and friends Saturday night at Cafe 1001 off Brick Lane on Saturday night in the midst of a live painting session. They had covered a corner of the cafe as well as several flattened cardboard boxes and seemed to be having a great time. I had feared that their trip over would be marred by the tube strike but it seems like the show opening on Thursday was packed and they sold nearly everything already. I’ve been a fan of his work for  a while now but this was the first time we had met and we hit it off immediately, resolving to collaborate on something in the future. Food One vs DJ Food, it has to be done…

Awesome Dude!

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Incredible! – Big Numbers issue 3 sees the light of day!

I have a short mental list of things I’d like to see, hear or experience before I die, and today another one of them stepped closer to reality. This list includes things like the KLF‘s ‘Black Room’ album, Richard Williams‘The Thief and the Cobbler’ film and used to include Brian Wilson‘s ‘Smile’ LP until he miraculously finished it a few years back.

Most of these projects will never see fruition as the time has passed and the creators have moved on leaving a few tantalising snippets of material promising much but revealing little. One such entry on this list is Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz‘s ‘Big Numbers’ comic from the great comic / graphic novel boom in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This comic promised so much being as Moore was riding a creative high from Watchmen and From Hell.

Sienkiewicz had done Elektra, Daredevil and Stray Toasters and was, Dave McKean aside, one of the most daring artists working in comics at the time. The run was supposed to be twelve issues starting in black and white, and tones and colour would be gradually added over the course of the story which revolved around mathematics and chaos theory according to Moore.

Frustratingly the comic was halted after issue 2 by the company going bust and Sienkiewicz’s assistant, an unknown Al Columbia, taking over at issue 3 and then having a breakdown and refusing to release the art. The project stopped, people moved on and it was consigned to the pile of unfinished projects that were never to be.

I never thought I’d ever see this but someone has posted photocopies of the whole of issue 3 here. They are reportedly the real thing and Alan Moore has given his permission to have them made public. Also, Sienkiewicz gives and long and fascinating account of what happened to the comic here. Now, if only Moore, Sienkiewicz and Columbia could be persuaded to finish this potential masterpiece…

PS: to see the quality of these pages (2nd or 3rd generation photocopies apparently) against what could have been, 10 of the fully toned pages can be seen on the web as they were printed, sans speech bubbles, in a fanzine sometime in the 90s.

Big Numbers-03

 

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Videocrash 2

Videocrash2.1Well, the second Videocrash was on Saturday night at Koko in London with a line up of Hexstatic, Bomb The Bass, Cheeba, Octavcat and yours truly amongst others and it was a blast if a little bit of a shorter one than before. Seven acts on a bill, including two bands with drummers, is a bit much to cram into 8 hours which was cut down to 7 when the soundchecks overran.

Videocrash2.2Most sets were cut including ours and new Solid Steel member Cheeba‘s. Poor guy had travelled down from Bristol to soundcheck a full 12 hours before his set – he only had an hour and had the graveyard shift from 3 until 4am – only to get 30 minutes before closing time.

Videocrash2.3DK and I slashed nearly half of our set and added some new bits in we’d been working on the past week which worked pretty well. All photos here were taken by the inimitable Martin Le Santo (thanks again mate)

Videocrash2.4Now, back to the records…

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