Record Store Day / Secondhand Sureshots (Dublab)

The thrill of the hunt, the race from shop to shop, trying to seize a copy of that limited edition release you know everyone else has been patiently waiting for. All that returned today as I ventured out for the third annual Record Store Day and, for the first time ever, had to queue to get into a record shop! Unheard of! Rough Trade East was packed with a line of about 50 people outside when I arrived. It was great to see so many people turning up to snap up the goodies and see bands and RT has the juice and coffee bar to add to the experience.

Weller AA remix Unfortunately, it was such a success that the record I went out specifically to get – the Amorphous Androgynous remixes of Paul Weller on a 500 copy 12″ – was nowhere to be found, sold out everywhere! I went from brick Lane to Soho to Ladbroke Grove – none left. This is obviously good but maybe Island could press a few more copies next time please? I’d been waiting for this since it was announced and they did a remarkable job of keeping it offline so I’ve still not heard it although the cover did get posted the other day and now they’re going on eBay for upwards of £99!.

That buggers up my first post as well as I was going to kick off a week-long series of beautiful records with that, but never mind, I have many waiting in the wings… First up is ‘Secondhand Surehots’ – the deluxe version from Dublab, containing tracks by Daedelus, J Rocc, Ras G and Nobody. In case you didn’t catch this excellent short film a month or so ago as it did the rounds on the net, please check this out for the story.

dublab presents…SECONDHAND SURESHOTS (preview) from dublab on Vimeo.

Now, that’s the trailer, the full film is more like 30 minutes and it’s included in the deluxe vinyl package on a DVD with bonus audio as well. Also within the pack you get a 12″ picture disc, 2 full colour slipmats, stickers and here’s the winner – each sleeve is a unique screen print, utilising old gatefold LP covers as the canvas. Mine was a Dan Fogelburg LP, you can still read the original credits through the ink and one of the sleeves even still has the original LP insert in it!. All in all, a great concept, well executed and lovingly put together, a must for all diggers and vinyl lovers out there.
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Posted in Art, Design, Event, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Cookbook

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It was my better half’s birthday yesterday and a friend of ours got her this lovely Heston Blumenthal cooklbook. The big difference between this and any cookbook I can think of it that it’s illustrated by Dave McKean, he of Arkum Asylum, Signal To Noise, Cages and the Sandman comic covers amongst many others. This has to be a first surely? The book is gorgeous both in content and quality and very heavy too! Check the gallery for some of the spreads, there are many more although I’m not sure how much my wife will actually be attempting to serve up.

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Starting tomorrow, because it’s Record Store Day, a week long, series of daily posts on vinyl worth buying for both the cover and content.

Posted in Art, Books, Design, Oddities. | 2 Comments |

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.

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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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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

Posted in Event, Music, Oddities. | No 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

Posted in Event, Music, Oddities. | No Comments |

The Simonsound – LP and Solid Steel mixes on the way…

I’ve been raving about this LP from the Simonsound – aka Matt Ford (DJ Format) and Simon James – for a while now, and a test pressing dropped through the door last week. It’s a fantastic mix of moog funk, radiophonic workshop atmospherics and downtempo soundtrack beats with a smattering of vocals. First Word have picked it up for release after two 7″ singles appeared on the duo’s Project Bluebook label covering Kraftwerk’s ‘Tour De France‘ and Jimmy Casto Bunch’s ‘It’s Just Begun’ to brilliant effect, backed by their own compositions.

The good news is that the LP will be out on May 10th and the even better news is that we will have an exclusive hour long mix from them on Solid Steel on the 14th. Even better news is that they have not only done a mix but have put together an hour long video podcast as well!!! We’ll be hosting both and word is that DJ Spinna and Gilles Peterson have been digging it too…

SS LP TP

Posted in Music, Records, Solid Steel. | 3 Comments |

I Love Acid Blech set

I played a special Blech set at I Love Acid on Saturday at Ginglik, under Shepherd’s Bush Green. It was an amalgam of the two mixes I did for Warp records’ 20th anniversary that you can hear on my Soundcloud page.

Photographer Martin LeSanto-Smith took some excellent photos with a promo Aphex mask I took down, one of my favourite nights out in London, even though the tube had shut down that weekend.

AFX collage

AFX Kev 650warp backAll photographs are property of and copyright to Martin LeSanto-Smith and not to be reproduced without permission.All Rights Reserved. Contact:- Tel: 07779 234104 or email:- toastyoneuk[at]o2.co.uk

Posted in DJ Food, Gigs. | No Comments |

There was an old lady…


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Bought this book for my boys yesterday (I’m a sucker for beautifully designed childrens books) Such a unique way of presenting the old tale and at the end her eyes close after she eats the horse. We also have another version by Jan Pienkowski (who did Meg & Mog and the classic Haunted House pop up book) in which she turns into a ghost on the last page!

This book though is illustrated by Jeremy Holmes and available from Chronicle Books from San Francisco, presumable available online but I got mine from Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill who have re-installed part of my Where the Wild Things Are Window display.

Posted in Books, Design, Oddities. | No Comments |

Ah yeah…

I was in the Ninja office today, sifting through boxes of press archive, found some amazing things, hilarious photos of old and some situations I don’t even remember. Lots of weird and wonderful people have passed through Ninja over the years and there are a lot of memories attached to it for me. I’m currently deep into the design and ongoing picture research for the Ninja Tune book which will be published this summer by Black Dog Publishing.

It’s a gargantuan project and one that we are not taking lightly – don’t expect the usual spread of press shots you’ve all seen before, we’re digging deep for lots of unseen material and it turns up in the most unlikely places. There’s no way it will all make it into the book but I promise to share some of the bits and pieces that don’t make it at a later date via this blog.

Also, these turned up today… :) Better res than Vimeo, I promise.
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Psychedelic Pink

A current big hit in our household are the Pink Panther cartoons from the 60’s and 70’s with variations on Henry Mancini’s excellent theme to by Walter Greene to accompany them. One of my favourite episodes is this tripped out classic from 1968, the Panther goes into a weird bookshop and strange things start to happen. The background designs by Tom O’Loughlin are sublime and show a rare glimpse of the times in a chidren’s cartoon. See the gallery above for more shots…

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Posted in Design, Film, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

Something In The Water

These two CDs landed on the doormat within a week of each other, both originating from Brighton and both featuring the sea as cover star. The contents aren’t a millions miles away from each other either, beautiful ambience and laid back electronica being the order of the day, a perfect soundtrack to the current weather and late night work sessions.

Lost Idol‘s second album – ‘Brave The Elements’, out soon on Cookshop – is perhaps the most varied of the two, featuring vocals on some tracks, a distinct nod to Boards of Canada here and there and a full tip of the hat to Kraftwerk on the excellent opener ‘Lightwerk’.

Lost Idol / Nest

Nest’s ‘Retold‘ – on the Serein label – is partly made up of the duo’s self-titled EP from 3 years ago but bolstered up into an album by five new tracks. All mine a similar vein to the Eno and Cluster school of ambience. Mostly beatless it takes in drones, piano, strings and odd percussion to create spaces filled with calm and beauty without ever resorting to the tweeness that some ambient music seems to come ingrained with. The new tracks are even stronger than the EP in my opinion, looking forward to more from these guys.

Thanks to James at Cookshop and Rob at Multilink for the CDs.

Posted in Music. | No Comments |