Balearic Mike`s Musical Diets / Week 6: 21/02/2021

Words & selections by Balearic Mike.

This week I Have been mostly outing myself …

The light that burns twice as brightly burns half as long … or something.

Propaganda – A Secret Wish – ZTT Records 1985
Propaganda only managed to record one LP with their original line up, before disintegrating, but for me this album, along with Big Audio Dynamite’s E = MC² and Paul Hardcastle’s 19 – which frankly, you just couldn’t escape – is the sound of the summer of 1985. It was originally destined to be produced by Trevor Horn – the production is so good that many presume it is – but he was too busy with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, so Stephen Lipson did the job instead, and a rather good one at that. A Secret Wish includes the 3 singles: Dr Mabuse, p:Machinery, and for me one of the finest singles of 1985, Duel, which is a soaring synth pop masterpiece – as is the whole LP, actually. It has a similar sound to the stuff touched by Trevor Horn – it’s all shiny, and sparkly and huge and epic sounding, with a wonderfully grand, overblown, international air of glamour and mystery to it. It’s FABULOUS.

Sadly, aside from a million remixes, and even an excellent remix LP – Wishful Thinking – that was it for the classic line-up. The band made a record without vocalist Claudia Brucken, and she made some excellent music with Thomas Leer on ZTT as Act, and they have reformed on and off over the subsequent years, releasing a great single in 2005. But this was it.

“The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding, I start screaming…”

I have two copies of this next LP, and Balearic Wife is wondering why.

Parliament – Osmium – Invictus 1970 / Sequel Records 1999
Well, aside from the fact it’s an astonishing album, there are some very good reasons- but let’s start with the fact that it`s astonishing. I’m a huge P-Funk fan, and have every Parliament & Funkadelic LP, as well as all of those by their extended family – Bootsy’s Rubber Band, The Brides of Funkenstein, Parlet, Fuzzy Haskins, Horny Horns, and George Clinton`s solo records. Minimalism doesn’t come into my collecting of this musical milieu.

Osmium is the first Parliament LP, as George and co. threw away the mohair suits and original ‘The Parliaments’ moniker and began dividing their efforts between Parliament and Funkadelic. It’s an LP full of incredible, ambitious ideas, covering, in just 10 tracks, raw funk, psychedelic rock, country and western, medieval lute music, psychedelic soul, and on the final track of the LP – on the original pressing – an unbelievably, brilliant track called The Silent Boatman which features – and I shit you not! – fucking BAGPIPES! I’m a proud Scotsman, and I have to say I hate bagpipes, but this incredible slice of soul music has bagpipes in it, and it’s wonderful. You almost start to laugh when they first come in, but then you stop, and are just swept up in one of the most gorgeous songs in the Parliament-Funkadelic catalogue.

When reissued on Sequel / Castle in 1999 some clever sausage had the brilliant idea of tacking the equally wonderful track, Come In Out Of The Rain, onto the end, which previously had only ever been available on a 45. It’s an absolute gold-plated psychedelic soul masterpiece. The cheapest 7” on Discogs right now will set you back £127.46, so it’s worth having the reissue…but I’m not likely to get rid of an original US pressing now am I? Especially with the nice shiny insert. Hence the 2 copies.

“The President’s talkin’ ’bout change,
But nobody’s got sense enough to come in out of the rain.”

OK, I’m outing myself here: I am a secret Sting fan!

Sting – Bring On The Night – A&M Records 1986
I know it’s in no way something that you should admit in cool, record collector / DJ type circles, but it’s true – I am a secret Sting fan. I would add the caveat that I’m not some uber collector or anything, but I do own every Police LP, and 4 of Mr. Sumner`s solo LPs, which is quite a lot. I Have some singles too. I should probably seek counseling. Anyway, the solo efforts are The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, Nothing Like The Sun, Ten Summoners Tales, and this live LP, Bring On The Night, which was released between the first two solo albums. Why have I chosen to share my shame with you publicly at this time you ask? Well, I included the opening track; a truly wonderful medley of the 2 Police tracks – Bring On The Night / When The World Is Running Down – on a mix we broadcast this week as Down To the Sea & Back, on H.U.G.S. Radio, so the cat is somewhat out of the bag already – but also, I do really bloody love this LP. It’s a great mix of tracks from The Dream Of The Blue Turtles, plus lots of Police material, played by this incredible band he’s put together of amazingly talented jazz musicians – Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland – from Dizzy Gillespie’s band, Omar Hakim – from Weather Report, Darryl Jones – from Miles Davis’ band, and backing singers Dolette McDonald & Janice Pendarvis. I also love the cover art. Around the same time, 1986 / 1987, the same artists – Donna Muir & Su Huntley – did a series of posters for the London Underground, pushing London’s nightlife, and this album cover and those posters were hugely influential on me when I started painting at art college in September 1987.

My shame is now public. I’m not alone though, of that I’m pretty sure.
Balearic uber-fact: Moonboots has a cat called Sting. Make of that what you will. 

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