Words & selections by Balearic Mike.
One of my favourite Andrew Weatherall remixes still remains unreleased after 30 years …
Stereo MC’s – Everything (Andrew Weatherall / Sabres Of Paradise Remixes) / Ground Level – 4th & Broadway / Gee Street / Island Records 1992/93
It’s also one of the earliest releases that mentions Sabres Of Paradise. There`d been a Sabres Of Paradise remix on One Dove’s Transient Truth single earlier in 1992, and Brothers Love Dubs` The Mighty Ming! on Stress Records. The trio of Weatherall, Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner had actually already worked their magic on Future Sound Of London’s Papua New Guinea and Flowered Up’s Weekender, so it was just a matter of time before the group became formalised. However, on here, the remix is still credited to just Andrew, and this would have been the end of 1992, as I think the promo was mailed out in January ’93. That year Weatherall would launch the band proper, and the label of the same name.
Sabres On Main St., the one that retains the vocal, is the best one for me. The track is pretty great to begin with, but “The Sabres” turn in an absolutely stunning version. Sticking close to the original, first there’s some beautiful Hammond organ pads create a haunting mood and intro, a bit like The Stones` Gimme Shelter, then there’s the addition of a great big Charlie Watts drum fill, nicked from the intro to Honky Tonk Women, and there’s some excellent Exile On Main St. style blues / rock guitar playing, just in case you hadn’t quite got the Stones influence yet.
All this sits perfectly, not just with the lead rap, but also the superb gospel-tinged female vocal parts, which are much more than backing vocals, turning this into a – dare I say it? – hip-house beast of a track. It isn’t really hip-house, but it is something between hip hop and house, and totally bloody brilliant. The only Weatherall mix which saw a commercial release was the also excellent Everything Grooves Part 1, one of two instrumental takes. I can’t understand why the Sabres On Main St. mix wasn’t released, but glad I was sent a copy all those years ago.
As Toyah Wilcox once sang a long time ago … “It’s a mystery” is this one…
Human League / Pet Shop Boys – Paninaro (Remix) / I Need Your Loving (Remix) – White Label (DFM-003) 1990?
I dearly love this record, but it’s origins, and indeed, pretty much any information about it is a complete mystery to me. I’m guessing that it was released in 1990, both by the sound of the remix of Paninaro, and the fact that I began working in Vinyl Exchange at the start of February 1991 – so unless it squeezed out in that first month of the year, it had to have been the previous one. I heard it because Adrian LuvDup had a copy, and one turned up in the shop soon after.
But that’s it! No more info. As you can tell from the title I’ve written, one side is a remix on Pet Shop Boys` Paninaro, done in a very 1990/91 house style, with Italo sounding piano riffs, and a breakbeat house backing. It’s quite good actually, and got a few plays back then, but hasn’t dated all that well. Over on the B-side is the real gem here. Taking a Human League track that was such a massive flop on its original 1986 release (2 weeks on the charts, peaking at #72!) that when we originally heard it, we weren’t sure who the song was by. You can see I’ve written “? sounds like Phil Oakey – ace Balearic Houser!” There was no YouTube to go and scan through back then, and not too many copies of the LP Crash (“Crash & Burn” anyone?) to listen to either.
The original version is a fairly bland slice of Jam & Lewis-produced electro-funk. It doesn’t work, coming across as lifeless and lacklustre. I know, I have a US 12”, and all the mixes are poo, and I’m a fan of Jam & Lewis.
This bootleg though mix pumps so much energy into the track that it totally explodes. It still has the 808-driven electro-funk rhythm, but a few little keyboard riffs, and some frenetic synth stabs, and the thing takes the roof off! If anyone knows who is behind this record, or the remixes, please, get in touch. The only comment on Discogs is me, asking this question!
Chronic middle-aged, beardy bloke, Beatles boxset cliched purchase type post …
The Beatles – Revolver (Deluxe Edition) – Parlophone 2022
As my friend Jolyon Green has already written about this boxset, I too am happy to own my middle-aged, bearded man-ness, and wholeheartedly embrace how much I love things like this. I’ve already written a post about this wonderful album, last August, on its 55th birthday, and let’s face it, plenty has been written about Revolver, a record that – quite rightly – many people think is the greatest pop LP ever made. I’m not going to repeat myself, and many others waxing lyrical about how fantastic this album is. Just go and listen to it if you haven’t already. It really is utterly marvelous.
I’m in the very lucky position that I can just about afford to buy gorgeous objects like this when they’re released. Although, if I hadn’t just been paid for my first bit of musical journalism, I might have had to resort to selling some organs on the black market. How many kidneys do you really need, eh? Actually, I probably need all I have.
So, what can you say about this beautiful thing? Well, as usual there’s an excellent new stereo mix from Giles Martin, where he once again manages to find things on the master tape that you hadn’t heard before. Although I did think that Tomorrow Never Knows didn’t seem to have quite as much punch. Maybe I just need to play it louder?
The double LP of ‘sessions’ is a complete joy, as always. Housed in a gatefold sleeve, featuring the art that was originally intended to be the Revolver cover – a stunning spiral photo collage by the photographer Robert Freeman, who shot the cover photos for The Beatles previous five albums. There isn’t as much chat as on the Let It Be sessions LP, which is a shame, but obviously they were recording in a different way. Hearing the songs evolve across the multiple versions is quite extraordinary – particularly Got To Get You Into My Life – which has a great instrumental version, really showing it’s Stax / Motown influences, and Yellow Submarine, which morphs from quite a sombre, folk style number, into the jolly, children’s sing-along we now know. Not to mention the total revelation of the original versions of Paperback Writer (as Jolyon mentioned in his Instagram post, it sounds like they’re inventing post-punk on the instrumental take, except that this is pre-punk, by a decade!) and Rain (insane at its ‘actual’ real speed, and the McCartney bassline!), both of which I’m glad are also included here on a gorgeous wee 7” with the original Mono mixes on one side, and new Stereo mixes from Martin on the other.
Then there’s the book, which you would want to buy on its own. It`s so beautiful! Loads of fantastic pictures of the fabs, some nice pieces of writing, including a piece by Questlove, a track-by-track breakdown of the recording process (nerd heaven), and a great comic strip by Klaus Voorman on the making of the cover.
I adore this, and while Balearic Wife is out, I’m playing it at a completely unreasonable volume. There’s a great couple of lines in Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity, a book that – unsurprisingly – has a huge importance in my life where he mentions The Beatles.
“They (The Beatles) belong to me, not to me and ___ … and though they’ll make me feel something, they won’t make me feel anything bad.”
Christine McVie, practically Perfect in every way …
Christine McVie – The Legendary Christine Perfect Album – Sire Records 1976
I won’t spend much time expanding on what an immense talent the world of music has lost this last week, with the sad passing of Christine McVie. As one of the driving forces, main songwriters, and singers with one of the most successful bands in pop music history, Fleetwood Mac, that’s fairly obvious. All I will say is that it’s just about perfect that her real-life maiden name was actually “Perfect”.
Christine was already a rising star of the UK’s burgeoning late `60s new blues scene, finding success with her band, Chicken Shack, before leaving them in 1969 to record this excellent solo album, which was originally released on the Blue Horizon label in 1970, and then deciding to join her husband John McVie’s band, which just so happened to be Fleetwood Mac.
The next few years would be a little but up and down, and then very, very up! At the peak of that up, in 1976, Christine’s solo LP was reissued to cash in on all that success. It’s a really lovely album. Highlights are the beautiful cover of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind, which had been a hit for Chicken Shack, and an even more stunning take on Chuck Jackson’s 1966 R&B release, And That’s Saying A Lot. The original is a great song, but Christine elevates the track to another level completely. It’s become one of the tracks which defines the folk-funk genre, appearing on several compilations, and has become a staple sample for hip hop artists, with A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Mos Def, J Dilla, Dilated Peoples, and Peanut Butter Wolf among the 66 artists listed on whosampled.com as having used its beats, compared to just 4 for Chuck’s version.
There are loads and loads of wonderful songs Christine wrote and sang on with Fleetwood Mac, I played a few on my radio show on Friday, and I might post one or two of those over the coming days, but I thought this would be a good place to start.
A ‘special’ version of a Balearic classic, which used to be a proper ‘heads’ tune …
Wally Badarou – Spider Woman (Novela Das Nove) (Canadian Extended Version) / Chief Inspector – Canadian Island Records 12” 1985
You’ll most likely all be familiar with one, or both of these wonderful tracks from the musical genius and one-time member of the Compass Point Allstars. Wally’s LP, Echoes, is one of my all-time favourite albums. The Parisian keyboard wizard was a ‘secret’ member of Level 42, and has played on records by Grace Jones, Marianne Faithful, Tom Tom Club, Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer, Black Uhuru and Herbie Hancock, as well as producing Fela Kuti, Salif Keita and others. Though the A-side of this 12”, the excellent Chief Inspector, was a big club hit on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s the flip, Spider Woman (Novela Das Nove), that I want to talk about.
Recorded for the soundtrack to the movie, Kiss Of The Spider Woman, and released as a single in its own right, this is a total Balearic classic. Its status confirmed by its appearance on the soundtrack to the now legendary “Look De Ibiza” video. I`d owned and played the UK 12” for many years prior to discovering this Canadian release. It might seem quaint and old fashioned now, but in the olden days (1990s), when DJs played records, a version that was even a slight extension was a revelation. I would drop this at Aficionado (the only place I ever got to DJ in the late `90s and early 2000s, thanks Richard Moonboots and Jason Boardman), and stand back to watch the heads turn as they noticed the extra couple of bars on the intro! To be honest, apart from Moon & Jason, and John McCready, Mr Scruff, Kelvin, Phil Mison, and a handful of others, absolutely no one really gave a shit. It`s literally an extra 10 seconds. But someone noticed! Now, with the advent of loop functions on CDJs or laptop DJing and editing software, the world is awash with DJs doing on the fly edits, or making extended versions to both play and sell, but back then my friend – boy, the struggle was real!
I remember when all this were fields …
You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print