Balearic Mike’s Musical Diets / Week 55: 05/10/2022

Words & selections by Balearic Mike.

Happy Bus-Pass-Day to Salvatore Principato

Fist Of Facts – Fugitive Vesco / First Strike / Meltdown – Helvete Underground Records 1988

Balearic Mike Fist Of Facts

I was lucky enough to meet Sal Principato once, on a trip to New York in 2007. We`d been to NYC, San Francisco, and then back to the Big Apple for a few days, where, at the invitation of Dennis “Citizen” Kane, I was due to DJ at a place called APT. The evening before the gig Dennis invited Jan Hammered and I out to meet him for a few beers as his friend, Sal, was putting on a party with some bands. Dennis hadn’t mentioned that this was the Sal from Liquid Liquid. As he introduced us, Sal said to me: 

“Hey, Balearic Mike – he knew my name!!! – nice to meet you, cool T-shirt!”

I was wearing a Funkadelic T that I`d just bought in San Francisco. Balearic Wife hates this shirt, but I can never throw it away, as it was anointed as ‘cool’ by Sal. He was a very jovial and lovely chap, making us feel incredibly welcome, and with an infectious enthusiasm and love for music. The night he was hosting had the most varied line-up of acts, from Gil Scott-Heron inspired beat-poetry to an Asian power-pop-punk band.

This meeting meant that the following year, when Paul “Mudd” Murphy asked Moonboots and I to kick off his Originals series on Claremont 56, it was pretty easy to license Sal’s track First Strike, from this Fist Of Facts E.P. It also led to Paul issuing an E.P. of unreleased Fist Of Facts material as well.

I hadn’t been aware of this post Liquid Liquid project until the appearance of their Fugitive Vesco on the excellent Moton Records Inc. LP, which came out in 1999. It was a few years later before I tracked down an original copy. I’ve got no idea why it was only released in Switzerland, but handily mine has a big sticker on saying “ex Liquid Liquid’, just in case you weren’t sure! I was happy to finally have Fugitive Vesco, but even more delighted when I flipped it over to discover First Strike  -which to my ears is even better.

Happy birthday Sal, and enjoy the free bus rides.

It’s a lovely sunny Autumn day and I’ve just been down to the sea and back. Cue the seasonal equivalent musical cliché of digging out Roy Ayers “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” for the arrival of summer… part 1…

Coldcut – Autumn Leaves (Irresistible Force Mix) – Ahead Of Our Time / Arista 1993

Balearic Mike Coldcut

Now rightly considered an ambient / electronic masterpiece, this was quite a hard piece of music to get initially – not being included on the first full release of Coldcut’s Autumn Leaves single in January ‘93, and then, later, being consigned to a limited – 2000 copies – 12” pressing. For some context, in those days record companies would regularly make a least 500-1000 promo copies of a new release just to hype the record, such was the scale of vinyl sales back then. They didn’t even include this mix on the f@@king CD!!!! 

This meant that I had quite a long sulk, until some genius at the record company went “Hey, loads of people want this f@@king brilliant Mixmaster Morris remix, that we didn’t even bother to release properly. Maybe we should, you know, make it widely available this time?” Resulting in them plonking it on the b-side of next single, Feeling Strong, although even then they managed to balls it up a bit. I was lucky enough to get this promo double pack later that year from a journalist who’d been sent it to review, hence the press sheet and promo photo. When the Irresistible Force mix  eventually saw the -official- light of day in January ’94, they split the mix into 2 halves on the commercially available versions. Maddening isn’t it!!!

Anyway, I’m alright jack, so in your face losers! No, sorry, I mean, thankfully it has subsequently appeared on quite a few ‘Back To Mine’ and “Ibiza Chilled’ type compilations for all you nice people who weren’t as lucky as me and had proper jobs rather than working in a record shop.

It’s utterly gorgeous, from its opening sound effect of waves crashing against the shore, combining those tell-tale electronic twitters and gurgles with large portions of the original dramatic strings, and one haunting vocal refrain echoing throughout: an instant sunset classic.

Autumnal seasonal musical cliché, part 2…

Sven Weisemann – Falling Leaves – Fauxpas music 2014

Balearic Mike Sven Weissman

Released on this limited edition 180gram vinyl 12” for Record Store Day 2014, this is a really, really, beautiful record. It should probably be filed under “modern classical”, but its combination of minimal piano chords – which form the subtle melody line – slightly jazz-inflected rhythm track – consisting mostly of brushwork and synth-blips – gorgeous muted trumpet, and haunting strings – which build throughout – all combine to make this a track perfect for sunset at the Café Del Mar.

The Gigi Masin Remix on the flip is a bit of a let-down after the insane loveliness of the A-side, but it’s well worth tracking down (Gigi was just messing with everyone’s “ambient genius” preconceptions – Rob). Although it was a limited RSD release, its cheap as chips on the ‘cogs.

Memories of Matthew & Jolyon blowing the roof of ‘Nado, nearly 15 years ago…

Cube – Somebody Told Me – Casablanca Records / Phonogram 1982

Balearic Mike CUBE

As Public Enemy once rapped, on the flip of their 1989 single, Black Steel in the Hour Of Chaos, “B-Side Wins Again”. That’s certainly the case here. While Fist OF Facts` First Strike featured on mine and Moonboots` opening entry in Claremont 56`s Originals compilation series, Cube’s Somebody Told Me, was chosen by Matthew and Jolyon for their own Originals a year or so later. I first heard the song one Sunday night, in October 2007, when the dashing duo were the guest DJs at Manchester Balearic institution Aficionado. 

The ‘Nado had returned – in a way – to the site of one of its earlier incarnations, a bar which had previously gone by the name Zumbar, but which was now refurbished and a lot more upscale, and calling itself Odder? – being owned and run by the same people who ran the successful Odd Bar in the Northern Quarter. Upstairs at this venue became host to some of the finest ‘Nado parties, if getting leathered and ending up dancing on some furniture on a Sunday night is your thing. Matthew & Jolyon both arrived looking a little like they’d been extras on Dawn Of The Dead, or some other zombie flick, as the previous night had seen them fulfill their duties as Lowlife resident DJs. They were, understandably, completely knackered after playing / partying all night, and then having to travel up from London. This might have led us all to believe that we were in for a pleasant, if rather subdued evening of listening to lovely music and chatting to friends. 

That was part of the magic of ‘Nado: you never really knew whether it was going to be a mellow Sunday evening spent socialising and listening, or whether you’d end up being dragged-off some sofa / chair / ornamental pillar that you were dancing on, and told to behave by one of the bouncers – while thanking your lucky stars that you’d booked the Monday off work! This evening turned out to be the latter.

After a few shandies’ M&J seemed to perk up quite nicely, and then proceeded to play one of the finest sets I heard at all the Aficionado parties over the years. It was tune after tune of absolute killer records, many of which had us all scratching our heads and wondering, “What the f@@k is this?” Quite a few of them can be found on their excellent – although not as excellent as mine and Moonboots` – Originals Volume 4  – including, from memory, Escape From New York’s Fire In My Heart, Hypertension’s One Night Woman, He Said’s Pump, and this absolute gem of a track.

Cube were a trio, consisting of 2 Italians and one Englishman, and based in Bologna, you have to get past the A-side, but what lies in wait is a killer slice of slo-mo, electronic, synth-pop meets Italo-Disco goodness, of the most Balearic variety. File alongside Gaznevada’s Special Agent Man, and essentials of that ilk….And you know what! This wasn’t even the highlight of their set. For me, that came a little later when one of them – I think It was Jolyon – made the incredibly brave move of dropping Prefab Sprout’s Bonny to an already rocking dancefloor. I, and many others who were there got a little over excited at that point in the proceedings, and the rest of the night is a bit of a blur. This was the first time I – and from the reaction, anyone there – had heard that song played in that context, and it sounded like a master stroke. This was a couple of years before Leo Zero’s wonderful re-edit of the track, by which time it became quite ubiquitous on dancefloors.

There’s a recording of the night, or at least most of it. I was in the habit of taking along my mini-disc recorder, so at least 4 hours of music is saved for posterity. Somewhere. At lot of those old ‘Nado recordings used to be online, but perhaps they’re now lost to memory… (we can happily fix that – Rob). It was a great night. I can’t believe that it was 15 years ago, although actually, it also seems like a lifetime ago.

*Footnote #1: For some reason the Cube track is mis-labelled as being by someone else on the “Originals Volume 4” CD. I have no idea why? It’s been corrected on the Discogs listing. 

**Footnote #2: The photo that lines the CD tray in all the Originals CDs – of a shelf full of records – is a photo of my record collection, taken in my old record room at Baia Degli Alphonsus in Old Trafford by Jan Hammered on the day he took the pictures of me and Moon for our comp. I was really pleased that it got used in all of them, although it’s not a particularly interesting bit of my record collection – just some compilation LPs.

I was very sad to hear of the passing of Joyce Sims at the age of only 63. As a singer, Joyce, for a couple of years in the mid-80s, totally defined the sound of UK clubland…

Joyce Sims – (You Are My) All And All – Sleeping Bag Records 1986

Balearic Mike Joyce Sims

I dug this record out back in the summer, as I was intending to write about it on the 35th anniversary of Joyce’s wonderful performance at The Hacienda – as part of the Sleeping Bag Records / Fresh Records Review Party on 23rd June 1987 – but didn’t get around to it. The night also featured T-La Rock, who’s track, Breaking Bells, was also a huge Hacienda favourite, Just Ice, and Hanson & Davis, although I think of the 3 acts produced by Mantronix  – Joyce, T-La Rock & Just Ice – Just Ice didn’t show up. 

Suffice to say, that this, All And All, was a total club anthem from the moment of its release early in 1986, and still being played years later, in no small part due to a simply peerless run of Mantronix- produced club classics, and a stunning debut LP, which crowned 2 years of not only clubland domination, but huge chart success as well.

Its massive club impact on import in early ’86 led to a UK deal with London Records, and upon its UK release, All And All, went to #16 in the UK chart. This was the first of 4 top 40 hits, with the third single, and title track from her debut LP, Come Into My Life, reaching #7 in the UK pop charts.

I still have all 4 of the singles, and the LP in my collection – at no point in time ever considering selling them on. I think that I picked this original US import up some years after the fact though, as I originally had the UK issue. These records totally define that era in dance music, as the electro-disco and electro-funk of the previous years were splitting into electro and hip hop, and house was just emerging. These tracks seem to bridge the gap between electro and house, and as such remained club classics for years.

Thanks for the music, Joyce. So glad your music came into my life.

Released 40 years ago yesterday – 15/10/1982 – this is one of my favourite pop records and a total Balearic classic…

Blancmange – Living On The Ceiling – London Records 1982

Balearic Mike Blancmange

It was third time lucky for Neil Arthur & Stephen Luscombe. After 2 rather excellent singles, which failed to bother the top 40, they finally struck gold with what would turn out to be their largest hit – Living On The Ceiling spending 3 weeks at #7 in November and December that year. The also excellent, Don’t Tell Me, would get to #8 in 1984.

This record is just outrageously brilliant in every single aspect. From the totally mad vocals to the incredible backing track, which mixes synths and drum machines with sitars and tablas – played by long term collaborators Deepak Khazauchiand Pandit Dinesh. One of the best lyrics ever to appear in pop –  “Up the bloody tree” – had to be replaced for Radio 1 airplay and their Top Of The Pops appearances. It managed to be a massively catchy pop song without even bothering to have anything resembling a chorus, with the incredibly hooky sitar part instead standing in for one.

Living On The Ceiling pre-dates that wonderful mix of electronic dancefloor friendly beats and Eastern-influenced instrumentation found in those incredible new-beat records coming out of Belgium, like Code 61’s Drop The Deal and Takis` Paris Istanbul, by a good 5 or 6 years. This is why, as well as a pop classic, it’s also now rightly considered a Balearic classic.

I have an original UK 12”, of which there are obviously millions, but I also picked up a nice Canadian copy in San Francisco just over a decade ago, out of the $ bins in Amoeba Records on Haight Ashbury. It’s a lovely pressing, and it also includes the vocal and instrumental versions of previous single, Feel Me, which is another total banger.

Julian Cope seems to have an irrational hatred of Blancmange, and I often think that his constant carping on about them is why I failed to enjoy his second autobiography, Repossessed, after having completely loved his first, the superb, Head-On. Oh well, we can’t all like the same things, can we.

For more from Balearic Mike you can find him on both Facebook and Instagram – @balearicmike. 

Mike has a Mixcloud page packed with magnificent, magical, music, and you can catch him live on 1BTN, from 12 noon until 2 (UK time) every 1st and 3rd Friday.

Balearic Mike 1BTN

You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print – personally I think they’d make damn fine record sleeves / disco bags.

As an extra special added bonus you can also read Mike’s brilliant piece on Donna Summer’s State Of Independence in the latest issue of Disco Pogo. 

disco pogo daniel avery edit

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