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Archive for the ‘ABC’ Category

Cherry Pop Laces Up Dancing Shoes with Compilation of Rare ’80s, Motown Mixes

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Cherry Pop Records has a major treat next week for British club junkies of the ’80s: a double-disc set of rare and unreleased remixes by noted engineer Phil Harding.

If you’re a British pop junkie who came of age in the ’80s, you’re doubtlessly familiar with three names: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman. The trio of producers hit it big with Hi-NRG pop, all clean beats and shimmering synths, from Bananarama’s “Venus” to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” All told, the trio racked up over 100 Top 40 hits in their native country – an impressive number in any year.

But one lesser-known name is arguably just as essential to the team and their famed PWL Studios: Phil Harding. A mixing engineer who’d worked with everyone from The Clash to Matt Bianco by 1984, the importance of Harding’s engineering skills was obvious from his work on the first major SAW hit, Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”

Harding, who’d later work with Depeche Mode, Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys, wrote his own account of his work in the record industry, PWL – From the Factory Floor, in 2009, releasing it in a limited run through Cherry Red’s book arm. Now, as a greatly expanded edition of that book arrives in U.K. shops, Cherry Pop has produced a double-disc set of some of Harding’s rarest mixes for U.K. acts and legacy groups.

There’s no shortage of hits on Phil Harding Club Mixes of the ’80s, including remixes of “You Spin Me Round,” ABC’s “When Smokey Sings” and cuts by Five Star, Holly Johnson and Godley & Creme. But the nectar for collectors is multitudinous: four unreleased tracks and mixes by Rick Astley, including an unused 12″ mix of “Never Gonna Give You Up,” are included. Jimmy Ruffin, elder brother of Temptations member David and solo artist in his own right (“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”), has two latter-day tracks on here, only one of which has ever been released, and never on CD until this set.

Most humorously for Motown fans is the inclusion of three of Harding’s then-contemporary remixes of classic Motown singles, including The Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” (While the breakbeat-heavy mixes can’t hold much of a candle to the originals, their quirky charm and collectibility doubtlessly appeal themselves to someone out there!)

The set and the expanded book (both of which can be ordered together through Cherry Pop) are out Monday, November 14 in U.K. shops. Hit the jump for a full track breakdown!

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 10, 2011 at 17:38

Back Into Battle with The Art of Noise

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It’s with great pleasure to find out that The Art of Noise’s debut effort, Into Battle with The Art of Noise (1983), will be reissued as part of ZTT/Salvo’s ongoing Element Series in April. And hardcore Art of Noise fans have a lot to be excited about this new release.

The Art of Noise. Those four words signify a bizarre advent in ’80s pop music – perhaps the ultimate marriage of music and technology (a staple of almost all popular art released that decade), a template upon which much of modern dance music would base itself. It also gave birth to one of the most consciously weird record labels in all of England: Zang Tuum Tumb, a trendsetter in the field of futuristic dance-pop thanks to acts like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Propaganda, 808 State and Seal.

The original Art of Noise – producer Gary Langan, programmer J.J. Jeczalik, arranger Anne Dudley, producer Trevor Horn and writer Paul Morley – came together not long after making massive strides with production work on ABC’s The Lexicon of Love (with the smash single “The Look of Love“) and the newly-reinvigorated prog band Yes, whose Horn-produced “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was a major hit. Working from scraps of material conceived for Yes’ 90125 and others, many programmed into the then-new Fairlight CMI sampling synthesizer, the quintet developed a nine-track EP, Into Battle with The Art of Noise, which became a critical hit on both sides of the Atlantic (in the U.S., the emerging breakdance scene embraced the jittery, percussive nature of the music; lead single “Beat Box” topped Billboard‘s dance charts).

Horn and Morley would ultimately leave the band after their first full-length album, Who’s Afraid of The Art of Noise? (1984), but those sessions yielded a major hit single in “Close (To the Edit),” a U.K. Top 10 hit and, to quote ZTT’s own release, “a hit record that would take them from behind the locked doors of their studio to the Top of the Pops studio, around the world, and make them a sonic reference point for a generation,” all of which is true. But what few know is Who’s Afraid began as an entirely different record, a more progressive, experimental effort called Worship. For the Element Edition of Into Battle, the Worship sessions are finally freed from the vaults, adding no less than 18 unreleased tracks to this new reissue. While some of the track titles are familiar (namely “Close (To the Edit)”), these tracks are a landmark for Art of Noise fanatics.

The set will be released in the U.K. on April 4. Pre-order it from Amazon here and check out the track list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 17, 2011 at 10:01

Odd Budget Comps Coming Your Way from Universal

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Two unusual listings have appeared from Universal’s U.K. arm: budget-priced, double-disc compilations for ABC and Tears for Fears.

They’re certainly appealing to the collector of either band, but they sure are strange; the sets don’t have any cohesive order about them. They’re all singles, album cuts and some B-sides just sort of mixed up. Odd.

In any case, they might be fun if you haven’t purchased any deluxe editions or other sets with these tracks. So have a look after the jump for track lists and order links!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 19, 2010 at 15:07