Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums & BBC Sessions Collection 4CD Box Set

 Alien Sex Fiend - Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection 4CD Box Set is released by Cherry Red Records
Alien Sex Fiend - Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection

In the early 1980s the New Romantics scene had dissipated. The underground hipsters had moved on.  The fasion had hit the High Streets and the likes of Spandau Ballet and Visage were appearing on Top Of The Pops. What took its place in the underground clubs was a gothic punk scene. The likes of Sex Gang Children, The Specimen and Alien Sex Fiend were making a scene; and the place to be seen was the famous Batcave Club in London, where Nik Wade (AKA Nik Fiend) happened to worked.

Alien Sex Fiend were formed by Nik Wade (Nik Fiend), Christine Wade (Mrs. Fiend), David James (Yaxi Highrizer) and Johnny Freshwater (Johnny Ha-Ha) in 1982 at The Batcave.

The band soon became known in the emerging gothic rock scene for its dark, electronic industrial-leaning sound, heavy samples and loops. They stood out from other bands in that goth punk scene and were ahead of their time in their use of synthesizers, loops and their fusing of industrial sounds with electro beats. They quickly built a loyal fan base from their exciting live performances.

In 1983 they released a cassette (The Lewd, the Mad, the Ugly and Old Nick) produced by Youth (Killing Joke). In the same year, they released the track “R.I.P.” on the Batcave Club compilation, The Batcave: Young Limbs and Numb Hymns. That year they signed to the Cherry Red subsidiary label Anagram, and released their first single, “Ignore the Machine” and the critically acclaimed debut album, Who’s Been Sleeping in My Brain.

The following year, they recorded two John Peel Sessions for the BBC. They managed to outstay the gothic scene and watched their contemporaries fall away before them. But by 1987 they were reduced to a duo as Mr & Mrs Fiend continued to record under the name, even though by now, their most popular days were behind them.

Alien Sex Fiend – New Christian Music
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOKVTJnOj_c

No less than 12 studio albums later, the latest being Death Trip (2010), Nik Wade (Nik Fiend) & Christine Wade (Mrs. Fiend) continue to record and perform live as Alien Sex Fiend.

In February 2015 Cherry Red Records released a 4 CD box set entitled Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection containing the first 4 albums – Who’s Been Sleeping In my Brain, Acid Bath, Maximum Security and It. The box set also includes single mixes, b-sides, rarities and six previously unreleased John Peel session recordings.

Alien Sex Fiend – I Am A Product
Recorded at the Brixton Fridge in September 1984
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtFSeS0hsc

Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection Box Set tracklisting:
DISC ONE
WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BRAIN?

1. WISH I WOZ A DOG
2. WILD WOMEN
3. I’M NOT MAD
4. NEW CHRISTIAN MUSIC
5. WIGWAM WIPE OUT
6. I’M HER FRANKENSTEIN
7. I AM A PRODUCT
8. IGNORE THE MACHINE
9. LIPS CAN’T GO
10. BLACK RABBIT

BONUS TRACKS
11. UNDER THE THUNDER (IGNORE THE DUB)
12. 30 SECOND COMA
13. RIP (BLUE CRUMB TRUCK)
14. NEW CHRISTIAN MUSIC (SINGLE VERSION)

DISC TWO
ACID BATH

1. IN GOD WE TRUST (IN CARS YOU
2. RUST?)
3. DEAD AND RE-BURIED
4. SHE’S A KILLER
5. HEE-HAW (HERE COME THE BONE
6. PEOPLE)
7. SMOKE MY BONES
8. BREAKDOWN AND CRY (LAY DOWN &
DIE)
9. E.S.T. (TRIP TO THE MOON)
10. ATTACK!!!!!! #2

BONUS TRACKS
10. DEAD AND BURIED
11. ATTACK!!!!!
12. BONESHAKER BABY
13. I AM A PRODUCT (LIVE)

DISC THREE
MAXIMUM SECURITY

1. I’M DOING TIME IN A MAXIMUM SECURITY TWILIGHT HOME
2. MINE’S FULL OF MAGGOTS
3. DO YOU SLEEP
4. IN AND OUT OF MY MIND
5. SPIES
6. FLY IN THE OINTMENT
7. SECONDS TO NOWHERE
8. THE BEAVER DESTROYS FORESTS
9. DO YOU SLEEP (VERSION)
10. DEPRAVITY LANE (THINK I’LL TAKE A TRIP…)

BONUS TRACKS
11. IGNORE THE MACHINE (ELECTRODE MIX)
12. ATTACK!!!!! (LIVE AT THE BBC)
13. DEAD AND BURIED (LIVE AT THE BBC)
14. HEE-HAW (LIVE AT THE BBC)
15. IGNORE THE MACHINE (LIVE AT THE BBC)

DISC FOUR
“IT” THE ALBUM

1. SMELLS LIKE…
2. MANIC DEPRESSION
3. BELIEVE IT OR NOT
4. APRIL SHOWERS / WOP-BOP
5. GET INTO IT
6. LESSON ONE
7. DO IT RIGHT
8. TO BE CONTINUED…

BONUS TRACKS
9. BUGGIN’ ME
10. I WALK THE LINE
11. HERE SHE COMES
12. CAN’T STOP SMOKING
13. IN GOD WE TRUST (LIVE AT THE BBC)
14. E.S.T. (LIVE AT THE BBC)

Alien Sex Fiend – I Walk The Line
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nA7KZF94wk

Alien Sex Fiend – Classic Albums and BBC Sessions Collection 4CD Box Set is released by Cherry Red Records.

The Pop Group set to release a new studio album

The Pop Group set to release a new studio album in 2015
The Pop Group set to release a new studio album in 2015

The Pop Group were formed in Bristol in 1978 with Mark Stewart (vocals), John Waddington (guitar), Gareth Sager (guitar), Simon Underwood (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums, percussion).

In the open-hearted times of post-punk post-modern late 1970s Britain, The Pop Group fused punk agitpop revolution with a chaotic cacophony of white noise-fuelled garage dub & funk music like none of their contemporaries, that had Nick Cave & The Birthday Party relocating to London in search of a scene, and John Peel inviting the boys in for a session as early as 1978.  Similar to PiL’s Second Edition, it was like nothing else I had ever heard before and left no trace of where it had originated from.

The Pop Group released just two studio albums and a clutch of singles before disbanding in 1981. Band members  went on to join Pigbag, Maximum Joy, Head, The Slits and Rip Rig + Panic.  While Mark Stewart forged a solo career while working closely with Adrian Sherwood & the On-U Sound posse.

The debut album,’ Y’ was released in 1979 and followed shortly thereafter by the provocatively titled ‘For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder’ (1980).  The former was adorned with a photo of a tribe of pygmies with Frank Sidebottom-like mud heads; and the latter came with a morbid poster of a dead body on an old metal-framed bed. The poster took pride of place on my bedroom wall, much to the bemusement of my father.

Singles including ‘She’s Beyond Good & Evil’ and ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ cemented their place in my hallowed record collection; and as time passed, I never thought:

a) The Pop Group would get back together

b) Sound great live if they did

c) Release a third studio album

I was wrong on all three accounts.  The Pop Group blew my socks off last month @ the Islington Assembly Hall and if this new track is anything to go by, so will the new album.

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14 Iced Bears – Hold On Inside: Complete Recordings 1991-1986

14 Iced Bears - Hold On Inside: Complete Recordings 1991 - 1986
14 Iced Bears - Hold On Inside: Complete Recordings 1991 - 1986

In 1986, amongst the explosion of exciting lo-fi indie pop sounds that would become known as the ‘C86 sound’, a debut single was released by a Brighton band with a peculiar name. 14 Iced Bears had signed to the local fledgling Frank Records label and released, what I thought on first hearing was a classic pop song. ‘Inside’ starts with a rough, jagged, twee yet angst-ridden guitar, before pounding tribal drums precede an ear-bleeding barrage of treble-heavy distorted guitar noise that fills the room and my head, simultaneously.  The cacophony of noise has me slightly wincing with ear-aching pain and pleasure.  The assault is lessened only by the fact that it was predated by The Jesus & Mary Chain and Meat Whiplash debut singles on Creation Records – ‘Upside Down’ and ‘Don’t Slip Up’, respectively.

‘Inside’ delivers a short, sharp shock of intense indie pop music noise as singer/songwriter Rob Sekula delivers a gentle, naked vocal that collides beautifully with the energy & rush of music.  The song comes and goes far too quickly. No time for a middle-eight.  No room for a self-indulgent guitar solo.  The 14 Iced Bears were one of hundreds of lo-fi exponents that had sprung up in opposition to over-produced commercial twaddle, and the dry ice and pomposity of Goth music.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY4KYT4eqCs

As with any period in music history, where there’s a sea-change music journalists will tag a name to it.  By 1986 the UK was certainly awash with new groups, small record labels and clubs that across the country appeared to have rekindled the ‘do-it-yourself’ punk ethic and in the process formed an uprising from…. somewhere.

The 14 Iced Bears were lumped in with the indie pop ‘scene’. In many ways they were a perfect fit.  Their sound, both live and recorded was heavily influenced by twee, jangly treble-heavy guitars and a sense of lo-fi amateurishness.  But 14 Iced Bears also had a psychedelic edge; and by the time of their debut album, they had erred further towards psychedelia and with hindsight, clearer to see they were forerunners of what became known as the ‘shoegazer’ scene.

But before the debut album, they released the exceptional ‘The Importance of Being Frank’ 12” EP & the equally absorbing ‘Come Get Me’ 7” single. The 12” included no fillers just four brilliant tracks – ‘Balloon Song’, ‘Train Song’, ‘Like a Dolphin’ & ‘Lie to Choose’.  For me, this cemented 14 Iced Bears as one of my favourite bands of the moment. They already had more great pop songs than most of their contemporaries.  ‘Come Get Me’ was released on the much coveted Bristol-based Sarah record label.  But because of the labels ‘no albums’ policy they were forced to release their eponymously titled debut album in 1988 on a third label, Thunderball Records.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBtnAskYKr8

By now the C86 ‘thing’ had passed and the UK indie music scene had dissipated.  Some groups signed for major labels in search for commercial success and other copycats & hangers-on simply fell away or changed their colours (The Soup Dragons!). But with the release of their debut album, the 14 Iced Bears sound had simply evolved and taken on new brighter, more elaborate colours.

“I genuinely think 14 Iced Bears’ eponymous debut album is a bit of a lost psych classic.” – Alexis Petridis, The Guardian

Over the course of their career, 14 Iced Bears had a pretty fluid line-up.  But always at its centre was singer/songwriter Rob Sekula. The original noise pop and C86 twee had been superseded by a heavily-influenced 1960s psych pop sound that was always present but sometimes hidden amongst the noise, pop and distortion. The album is indeed a lost and by many, forgotten classic.  ‘Take It’, ‘Spangle’ and reworked versions of ‘Train Song’ & ‘Cut’ were quite possibly overlooked as nothing more than a release out of time with shifting tastes and trends.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_YypomT76I

The influence of West Coast psychedelia continued to influence the band’s music as 14 Iced Bears continued to err closer towards psychedelic ‘shoegazer’ space releasing a further two EPs in 1989 and a second album, Wonder in 1991.

Hitherto, I was unfamiliar with the second album and listening to it afresh in 2014, it includes some great songs that still hold an essence of what I first fell in love with, coupled with a clear evolution that is clearly demonstrated when listening to this whole compilation. Through this later period they enjoyed more success on the college circuit in the US than they received in the UK.  However, the band split in 1992 and lay dormant until 2010 when Sekula resurrected the band for some live dates following a resurgence of interest.

There have been a couple of noteworthy 14 Iced Bears compilations over the past 20 years, the best of which is Hold On Inside – Complete Recordings 1991 – 1986 on Cherry Red Records. In reverse order it contains both albums and all the singles, starting with ‘Hold On’, the last track on the second album and closing with their debut single ‘Inside’.  Hence the title!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvV0fZ82cVg

Listening to this album brings back good memories.  How I met Rob and arranged a gig in Chatham. How the band came back to mine for dinner; and most of all how good the songs were and still sound so good all these years later.  As I listen to this double album I wonder why the 14 Iced Bears didn’t leave more of a mark and bigger impression on more people than they did.

Postcards from the edge #1 Jazzateers – Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy: Unreleased Recordings 1981-82

Jazzateers - Don't Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy: Unreleased Recordings 1981-82
Jazzateers - Don't Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy: Unreleased Recordings 1981-82

Of all the bands to move on to Top Of The Pops – Orange Juice, Aztec Camera & The Bluebells – or cult status – Josef K & The Fire Engines, there is one Postcard Records band that were set for great heights, but hardly get a retrospective mention when someone harps on about ‘the sound of young Scotland’ of the late 1970s & early 1980s.

In most cases, Jazzateers are simply forgotten or overlooked. Even though at their best Ian Burgoyne & Keith Band could compete with the songmeister talents of Edwyn Collins & Roddy Frame.  But Jazzateers were a fragile bunch who appeared to be in the right place at the wrong time.  Postcard Records pulled the plug before they managed to release a debut single, Wasted (produced by Edwyn Collins).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOVVaE4vOuU

Jazzateers were formed in 1980 when everything seemed Scottish, Gretsch & floppy-fringed. But they were the last to be signed by Postcard Records, for whom they recorded an album’s worth of original songs and covers in 1982. Alison Gourlay was the original singer.  Her fragile voice suited the equally fragile sounding songs.  There was a purity and honesty about early Jazateers that I don’t think was ever recaptured with subsequent lead vocalists.  Grahame Skinner replaced Gourlay before leaving for Hipsway.  Other singers included Paul Quinn and Louise & Deidre Rutkowski whose beautiful harmonies bring the country element out of the Jazateers, but were a little to commercial sweet and perfect for my ears.

Wasted and Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy are my favourite tracks in this collection of previously unreleased early recordings for Alan Horne’s Postcard Records.  Wasted is a cover version of a Giorgio Moroder Donna Summers song; while Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy is a perfect jangly twee pop homage to the country rock of the Velvet Underground, with Ian Burgoyne’s mononymous vocal delivery reminding me of Felt’s Lawrence. Unfortunately the Jazateers never lived up to the promise of commercial success. They went on to release a debut album for Rough Trade in 1983 before imploding, just as it seemed their time had come.  With a UK-wide TV appearance booked on Channel 4’s The Switch, Ian Burgoyne, Keith Band & lead singer Paul Quinn performed two songs, not as Jazzateers but as Bourgie Bourgie.

The Jazzateers reformed in 2013 comprising of Ian Burgoyne, Keith Band, Grahame Skinner, Colin Auld, and Douglas MacIntyre.

Much of the band’s unreleased Postcard-era recordings is collected here.
Jazzateers – Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy: Unreleased Recordings 1981-82 is due for release on 25th August 2014 by Cherry Red Records.

Killing Joke In Dub – Now That’s What I Call The Best In Dub Record In The World

Killing Joke In Dub
Killing Joke In Dub

In the mid-1970s reggae and its darker incarnations had an influence on white kids, especially in inner city, multi-cultural neighbourhoods.  Sounds and cultures clashed at parties, while police and youths clashed in the streets.  Nowhere better to find the cause and effect of how young white punks and black youths of West Indian family origins bonded as disaffected youths against the police and oppression of inner city decay than in West London.  From the mid-1970s the angst & spitting aggression of punk rock music and the chilled, laid-back vibe of dub reggae were polar opposite.  But they effected a generation of musicians who found perfect solace in both white rock noise and the heavy bottom-end bass vibrations and echo chamber space of dub reggae. The Ruts, Slits and The Clash flirted with fusing these forces with varying degrees of success.  But no other group in the late 1970s created a more powerful, mesmorising and powerful music, equal in its white punk angst and deep understanding of dub reggae culture sound than Killing Joke.

Though not originally from Notting Hill, the founding members of Killing Joke met there in 1978. Jeremy  ‘Jaz’ Coleman and drummer Paul Ferguson were joined by the two members that helped forge the unique and original post-punk groundbreaking sound of Killing Joke.  Kevin ‘Geordie’ Walker stroked his gold Guild guitar effortlessly to make a wailing wall of sound.  Whilst Martin ‘Youth’ Glover took bass inspiration, emotion and depth from dub reggae.

In 1979 I bought the first Killing Joke release, Turn To Red 12” EP, by way of an introduction from the legendary, John Peel.  It made an immediate and lasting impact on me.  The classic self-titled debut album followed the following year and included a slow version of the second single ‘War Dance’ along with timeless songs ‘Requiem’, ‘Change’ and ‘Tomorrow’s World’. Both still remain regular favourites played over 30 years later in my home, in my car, at work and on my MP3 player.

After recording a second album, What’s THIS For…! (1981), Youth left Killing Joke, only to return some 27 years later in 2008 after meeting the other original members at a funeral, following the untimely death of replacement bass player, Paul Raven.

Along the way, Youth has produced and remixed a plethora of artists and has become one of the most sort after British record producers.  On his travels he also found time to continually produce some amazing dub re-workings of Killing Joke songs; and for the first time ever, Killing Joke are officially releasing a dub album.

Killing Joke In Dub is a 3-CD release scoping Killing Joke’s 35 year back catalogue and on hearing the news of its forthcoming release, was probably the most excited I’ve  ever been for such a collection of ‘re-workings’ in my entire life. But anticipation is not always a good thing.  It can ultimately lead to disappointment.  Nostalgia can be burst with hindsight as time warps our over-inflated memories.

My own interest in Killing Joke waned shortly after the third album, Revelations (1982).  So I am unfamiliar with the original recordings of most of the songs collected here; and the only track I had previously heard was ‘a floating leaf always reaches the sea’ remix of Requiem, originally released in 1992 along with the Spiral Tribe mix of ‘Change’ (also included).

Please note: To witness the full force of this album and the quality of these dub plates, the following tracks and indeed the whole album should be heard at full volume through, if possible, the biggest baddest subwoofing motherfucker you can lay your ears on!

Killing Joke – Requiem (A Floating Leaf Always Finds The Sea mix)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgxG7Rgg5wg

CD1 kicks off with the deepest, darkest trance dub of Youth’s ‘This World Hell (Alive & Kicking Dub Remix)’.  The drums are clean and crisp in the mix, while the sub-bass throbs like a demented bulldozer, slow and effortless, shaking everything to the ground that dares to cross its path .  In my attempt to receive the full impact of what I was about to receive, I turned my stereo volume to max and turned the bass all the way down.  Dub reverb filled the room, quickly followed by  the first sub-bass warbling of the lowest end that literally blew my cat clean off her paws! Fucking awesome – there’s no other words that will more succinctly describe the shiver that started in the nape of my neck and fizzed the length of my spine.

Killing Joke – This World Hell (Alive & Kicking Dub Remix)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_uZy0hBtsE

With compilation albums such as this, I normally hear two or three gems and the rest of the album is littered with re-workings that were originally used as 12” fillers at best or standard remixes with formularized lazy beats and drops. But this is Killing Joke and these tracks were produced by Youth!

Two tracks that particularly work for me, are ‘Money Is Not Our God (Babylon Dub)’ (CD1 #2) and ‘This World Hell (Cult Of Youth Ambient Samsara Dub Mix)’ (CD2 #2).  Both are very, very heavy.

Killing Joke – Money Is Not Our God (Babylon Dub)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNbsMPalEc4

Much of the album is deep and dirty, evidence of Killing Joke’s industrial rock and Youth’s own travels into trance circles are clearly visible even in the more experimental moments.  But ‘The Raven King (Never Grow Old, Forever Now Dub)’ offers some lighter relief in an upbeat tribute to the late Paul Raven which errs towards Dreadzone in its more uplifting, commercial sounding summer-hazed dub celebration.

Killing Joke – The Raven King (Never Grow Old, Forever Now Dub)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZPeRt3hDMA

Killing Joke In Dub is 28 versions, reworking and plain dub mixes by Youth across 3 CDs titled (CD1) Apocalypse Dancehall, (CD2) Rockers Retroactive and the unimaginatively titled (CD3 Bonus Tracks). After countless hours, mainly via good quality headphones I have only encountered two, possibly three tracks I don’t care for.  My CD experience is otherwise skip-free, and to be honest, I’m currently finding every else somewhat too light and fluffy, in comparison.

Killing Joke – Tomorrow’s World (Urban Primitive Dub)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkSSaHyk77U

Killing Joke In Dub is released on 5th May and is currently occupying #1 in my ‘Best Albums of 2014’ chart.