RADIO, LIVE TRANSMISSION #01

TRANSMISSION #01
  • FELT – “The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Stories” (Cherry Red) 1984
  • LONG RYDERS – “I Had A Dream” (Zippo) 1985
  • EYES OF MIND – “Tales Of The Turquoise Umbrella” (Closer Records) 1984
  • LIME SPIDERS – “Slave Girl” (Citadel) 1984
  • JOSEF K – “Radio Drill Time” (Postcard) 1980
  • ORANGE JUICE – “Simply Thrilled Honey” (Postcard) 1980

Radio, Live Transmission – I bought this copy of “The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories” sometime in 1984, possibly 1985. Inside the cover is a £2.50 price tag, marked in pen. I recognise the writing from a Sunderland record shop called Pet Sounds. I bought a ton of records there back in the day, some from their Newcastle shop.

But during 1984/85 I rarely ventured outside Sunderland so I probably bought my Felt album there. Maurice Deebank’s guitar sound is mesmerising throughout. It’s the first time I’ve played this for many years and straight away my attention is captured completely, I’m almost in a transfixed state of mind. It’s so ethereal and jangly.

Lawrence adds his strange vocals to some of the numbers. He sounds like a drawling Lou Reed sometimes or is it just me thinking that because I’m so spellbound by the guitar sound? He’s not the greatest singer you’ll ever hear and Lawrence may even put a host of people off, but that uniqueness adds to the beauty of the music contained within.

My copy came with a small insert of lyrics, tiny writing on a piece of thin paper. These days, with my eyes, I’d need the Hubble Space telescope to read them.

The countryfied Long Ryders I can live without, in fact I never ventured beyond “Native Sons” and the two cuts on this single are both from that album. This is a massive Byrds cum Flamin’ Groovies inspired rocker from 1985, and since I last looked on YouTube someone has uploaded the promo video. “I Had A Dream” last night that it was the mid 80s.

How spooky is that? The other side, the contemplative psychedelic tinged rocker, “Too Close To The Light”, is credited as the ‘Buckskin Mix’ but it just sounds the same as the version on the LP. Or am I missing something?

Zippo were releasing some very important, mostly American, discs in the mid eighties and I thank them for that. It allowed my ears to sample some beautiful sounds. American bands sounded much different to ours that’s for sure.

Cover photo by Henry Diltz.

Next up on my imaginary “Transmission” is an album by the Eyes Of Mind. They hailed from Los Angeles and were tentatively linked with the so-called ‘Paisley Underground’ scene. I suppose that was inevitable coming from where they did and playing a brand of new psychedelia.

If I was to compare their sound with their contemporaries it would be sort of like the Three O’ Clock injected with a tiny piece of Rain Parade.

The album is laden with delicate rhythms and accomplished vocal harmonies, all on the right side of alternative but definitely pushing through the boundaries of modern day pop commercialism.

“She’s Got Stars” is probably the strongest number of the collection, fast paced with swirling keyboards and certainly psychedelic, “it’s so deceiving”

They had some heavy guns helping them out too. Most of the album tracks were produced by ’60s wizz-kid Marc Wirtz, a sprinkling of cuts made way for Brett Guerwitz’s control, who went onto acclaim by producing Bad Religion and developing Epitaph Records.

The cover art is a collage of flowers, skulls, spooky Adams Family style houses, flashy vintage cars, clocks, umbrellas and there’s a snake in there too. I remember spending many minutes looking at the art and wondering what it all meant?

Recorded at Pacifica studios, Los Angeles and Silvery Moon studios, Hollywood, CA – August 1984.

I don’t rave too much over Australian group the Lime Spiders, most of their recordings sound way too metal for me. The drums especially have that synthetic, over-load of noise. Probably gated to some extent and I fucking detest gated drums.

“Slave Girl” is perhaps their most famous garage rock tune. It powers along on a very basic knuckle draggin’ riff or in this instance, a bonehead slave girl draggin’ riff. The lead shouter could do with a bucketful of throat lozenges or Koala blood to lubricate his sore pharynx.

A decent stab at ‘Neanderthal Rock’ which is actually enjoyable and deserves its place on my turntable today. They tread the same prehistoric footpaths as the Avengers who gave their stone-age followers the magnificent ‘beat a woman about the head and keep her in line’ chaos of “Be A Cave Man” in 1965.

These Aussie Homo-Troglodytes were probably prowling the out-back at dusk hoping to knock-out some kangaroos with femur bones. Their record label, Citadel, may have even paid them a crate of tinnies for each kangaroo thrown on the Barbie.

The other side “Beyond The Fringe” is a fast moving punk charmer with a terror man scream kickin’ things off over a brisk and heavy opening riff and sounds at least five years out of time. Don’t know if there was a punk revival going on in Australia in 1984 but not much sounded like this in England anymore.

I’m unschooled in Josef K but I’m learning fast. “Radio Drill Time” from the start of 1980 is notable for jagged guitar strum, almost casually played drums and spacious production, very much lo-fi and heralds the new independent sound of young Scotland. What is that electro synth noise occasionally interrupting the bass heavy din?

The song was inspired by the sleeve notes of Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music.”

The other side “Crazy To Exist” was seemingly recorded live in someone’s living room! The fast opening chords of the spiky guitar made me think I was playing the disc at the wrong speed but then I thought, hold on, I’m playing this at 45rpm.

There will be more Josef K records under the spotlight in future “Transmissions” because I’m very intrigued by their artistic approach.

“Simply Thrilled Honey” by Orange Juice has a great opening and builds strongly, quaint jangling guitar, economical drum beats and Edwyn Collins’ unique vocal style all combine to make this record a winner. Probably sold in decent amounts too.

According to an interview printed in ‘Sounds’ at the time of release, which was June 1980, the song is about a girl who tried to seduce Edwyn but he didn’t want to go to bed with her.

“Breakfast” on the B-Side was provisionally chosen as a future single in its own right but to be honest, this one is just too progressive and uncommercial. It may have delighted a few of the John Peel Radio show worshippers but it failed to satisfy my expectations.

The opening is quite exciting and I was ready for take off but then it turned into a morass of unfulfilled ideas and rhythms, then ended.

I’m not sure when Edwyn Collins sings the repeated line “How I wish I was young again.” refers to him? I’ve checked and he would have been twenty years old when the record came out. Oh to be twenty years old again!

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