For the record, I am a HUGE fan of Propaganda - they were one of the key groups of the 80s and their sole album (in the classic incarnation of Claudia Brucken, Suzanne Freytag, Ralf Dorper & Michael Mertens) "A Secret Wish" is one of the best albums ever in my opinion, not just in the synthpop genre. Seeing the core of the band reunited at Claudia's Scala gig last year (preserved on the excellent DVD/CD package "This Happened") was a massive thrill.
This collection of oddments & rareties, many on CD for the first time, is welcome. Someone commented on this review soon after I posted it and asked how different the tracks are from whats been released previously - I've added a track by track postcript to the review therefore. However, if someone new to Propaganda REALLY wanted to get to know the group, to understand why "A Secret Wish" is so highly regarded, I would point them directly to the double CD 25th remaster of that album, which costs as much to buy on Amazon (with supersaver delivery) as a digital download of this collection. For a start, you will get the original vinyl edition version of the masterly Dream Within A Dream on that CD (always my favourite version with that howling guitar break in the middle), as well as the longer original CD release version which is included here on "Noise and Girls..". And you'll discover other wonders such as "The Murder of Love" and their cover of Josef K's Sorry for Laughing.
What we get on "Noise and Girls.." is material distilled essentially from Propaganda's three singles, Dr Mabuse, Duel (and it's dark twin Jewel), and P:machinery. Lots of good things for the enthusiast, as the first reviewer of this album has pointed out. Video mixes of Dr Mabuse and P:machinery are welcome for a start, plus a TOTP-edited version of Duel (thirds). Jewel (rough cut) is the original 7" single version (as opposed to the extended "rough cut" version from the Duel/Jewel 12". Lied was one of the extra tracks from the 2time(s) seven double 7" release of Duel and it's a pity they didn't include its flipside, The Lesson, on this compilation: you can find both of these though on the "Outside World" compliation released in 2002 (and out there as mp3s, of course). You'll also find a longer version of P:machinery (Beta) on OW - the one here is the version originally released on the ZTT label sampler entitled "ZTT sampled", with added guitar from the late John McGeogh of Magazine and PiL fame.
Wonder is included here too, originally a short segment within the 20 minute Do Well assemblage that formed the cassette single release of Duel (and Do Well is present in it's full form on the second disc of the 25th anniversary "A Secret Wish"). Very pretty it is too. It's also nice to have, on CD for the first time, one of the original B-sides of Dr Mabuse, (the ninth life of...), plus an instrumental version of Femme Fatale. However, another reviewer alludes to a 12" version of Femme Fatale(i.e. extended?) which I am ignorant of - if it exists, it would have been nice to have had it here. Also, why not the original 7" b-side of Dr Mabuse, Dr Mabuse der Spieler? (Though you can find this on the ZTT collection "The Art of the 12" volume 2").
I like the version of Frozen Faces (A Secret Sense of Sin) presented here. It sounds unpolished like a demo (Claudia's vocal is clearly a bit off in places) and the spoken intro from Suzanne lacks effects, but all in all I find it much preferable to the Echo of Frozen Faces mix of the song that was spoilt (for me) by some unneccesary squarking saxophone. I'm not too keen either on the alpha mix of P:machinery included here - they nailed it, in my opinion, with the version on "A Secret Wish". This version sounds a bit of mistake, rather like the muddy re-recording (for those with a very long memory!) of BeBop Deluxe's Between the Worlds for a single release. Finally, Strength to Dream (as Testament Seven) is really just the last third of the extended Das Testaments des Dr Mabuse, which we had two tracks earlier. A great tune, but by now the sound of the barrel being scraped? The booklet liner notes ends cryptically with "Propaganda will appear next on Zambient One". I hope Salvo aren't intending to do a Tupac.
So, an essential (and cheap) purchase for me, despite the fact I've recently digitized half these mixes from my vinyl. The booklet also contains separate shots of the band members, culled from the session that produced the cover, and does point out that "Noise and Girls" accompanies the album A Secret Wish. But I would still steer the curious straight to the 25th anniversary version of that classic album.
PS Here's the 19 tracks as listed on Amazon. Those appearing for the first time on CD/download are indicated as "new to CD". For radically different versions of songs from "A Secret Wish" see the remix/mash-up album called "Wishful Thinking" - you won't find any of those versions on this CD.
1) Femme Fatale intro. A longer version of Claudia's first lines, that's all. New to CD.
2) Dr Mabuse video mix. New to CD. Not greatly different from the album version, in all honesty. Has extra 10 seconds of bats squeaking at end.
3) Femme Fatale. It was previously available on the "Outside World" compilation.
4) Duel (thirds) According to another reviewer, the shortened track they mimed to on TOTP. The piano/synth breaks before the final choruses is shortened by half. New to CD.
5) SFL (testament 5). These testaments are essentially isolated elements from the dense Propaganda mixes, so this is a bit of the backing track from Sorry for Laughing. New to CD. Nicely juxtaposed to the next trackthough ...
6) .. which is the original 7" mix of Jewel (b-side of Duel). New to CD. Shorter (3:44) than the version on "A Secret Wish" or the 12" Cut Rough mix, it lacks the spoken intro and the crazy organ bits at the front and back ends of those versions that makes them so good. That steamhammer rhythm just chugs away uninterrrupted though. I like it a lot.
7) p:Machinery (beta) From the "ZTT Sampled" sampler. This version is 1:34 shorter than the version on "Outside World" and lacks some sections of the instrumental first half that precedes the vocal rendition of the song. New to CD.
8) p:Machinery (alpha). The one radically different treatment of Machinery, I think, and incomplete. New to CD.
9) Dream. The longer version, first released on the CD of ASW in 1985, present on the 25th anniversary remaster.
10) Duel - Wonder. Formerly a segment within the 20 minute Do Well cassingle assemblage. New to CD. But if you have the 25th anniversary ASW, which includes Do Well, you might well have already done as I did, and isolated Wonder in iTunes by altering when Do Well starts and finishes! No diferent from the bit within Do Well, in other words.
11) Lied. Previously part of the Duel double 7" on vinyl, and presented first on CD in 2002 on the "Outside World" compi. It's a mix of The Chase, of course, from ASW.
12) FF (secret sense of sin). New to CD. Lots of scratchy guitar plus some jazzy electronic squiggles in the first minute or so. Suzanne's vocals more upfront and less-treated.
13) New to CD. The ending of Dr Mabuse, with extended bat noise.
14) Dr M (im stahinetz). New to CD. Pretty much the percussive backing track - reminds you that these guys were involved in industrial panel-beaters Die Krupps before Propaganda. The odd bit of dubby vocal on top.
15) Das testaments de Dr Mabuse. New to CD. Probably the definitive version for most people at 10:17 and the version originally released commercially as a 12" mix. Slightly longer than the DJ promo version on "Outside World" (9:56) but thats about all to my ears. Hasnt got the added Strength to Dream thunderstorm segment at the end like the 10:41 version on the 25th anniversary release of ASW.
16)the ninth life mix of Dr M. New to CD! Great dub version of Dr M, originally on the b-side of Dr M 12" along with Femme Fatale. Starts with a slowed-down refrain of "before you start you already bleed" from femme fatale before giving way to the scratchy "Psycho" strings from the middle of Das Testaments, then Beatles-esque bit of the recording played backwards with Suzanne's opening lines sampled on top. Finally, a reprise of the end of the song proper which ends abruptly, rather than fades out.
17) testament 7. New to CD. A few seconds of isolated scratchy strings from the middle of Das Testaments, followed by the robo-pomp sequenced conclusion to Das Testaments.
18) machinery - the video mix. New to CD. Subtely different compared to the version on ASW, Claudia's vocal comes in a bit earlier, "Power Force Motion Drive" is only said once and there's no Ralf bellowing "PROPAGANDA!" Guitar more prominent behind the verses too, and play-out is twice as long as album version.
19) Femme fatale (the orchid). Instrumental version of FF. New to me and new to CD.