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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic album from 1981..., 6 Mar 2006
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Red Mecca (Audio CD)
"The whole Afghanistan situation was kicking off.Iran had the American hostages...We were taking notice. It kind of culminated with 'Red Mecca'. It's not called that by coincidence. We weren't referencing the ****ing Mecca ballroom in Nottingham!", richard h. kirk re-quoted in 'Rip It Up & Start Again' (Faber, 2005)
Cabaret Voltaire had been round several years already, building on their blend of electronica, dub & avant rock they had already released several classics - 'Nag Nag Nag', 'Baader Meinhof', 'The Set Up', 'This is Entertainment', 'No Escape', 'Do the Mussolini', & their distinctive cover of the Velvets' 'Here She Comes Now.' The 'Living Legends' & 'Original Sound of Sheffield' compilations sum up these formative years well. By 1979, the Sheffield three-piece were moving onto another theme, the world zeitgeist centred on the Middle East (Afghanistan,the Iranian revolution, assassinations in Egypt, the Iran hostage crisis, the US backed invasion of Iran by Iraq) were feeding into things (see the documentary 'The Power of Nightmares') and the Cabs' found themselves enamoured with the dark rise of Reagan and the Christian right in America - single 'Sluggin' for Jesus' pre-empting the preacher-samples of 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' by a year and the theme of the Shamen's 'Jesus Loves Amerika' by nine years! The album 'The Voice of America' (1979) and mini-album 'Three Mantras' (1980) continued this direction - 'Red Mecca' (1981) was the culmination of this approach/theme by the three-piece Cabs (the band would leave Rough Trade soon after, for a brief tenure on Factory, prior to shedding a member & making conform-deform pop for Some Bizarre).
christopher watson's distinctive use of vox continental here demonstrates that they are the missing link between Suicide and Spacemen 3 - its use gives the album part of its uncanny quality. Opening & closing with a version of the theme to necrophiliac-noir 'Touch of Evil' the album embraces the fractal and industrial. Like the imploded Throbbing Gristle and cult act Fad Gadget, the Cabs here certainly weren't about pop. stephen malinder's vocals are nowhere near the singing he started to do from 'Crackdown'-onwards but more of the shouting thing (imagine Mark E Smith lost in a Ballardian industrial estate that never ends...) - perhaps this could be seen as proto-rapping?
'Red Mecca' makes a lot more sense after listening to 'Voice of America' and 'Three Mantras' - the tracks seem part of a flux here, a hypnotic album that pulsates along at an avant rate. 'red mask' has some fantastic percussion (from nik allday) and I generally have to say I'm a fan of mallinder's bass-playing here, which gives it a quality somewhere between dub & industrial. Relative 'black mask' continues the style of sampling apparent on 'Sluggin' for Jesus' and has some funky Herbie Hancock-meets-Joy Division bassplaying. The two highlights that standout here are 'split second feeling', which uses a stunning guitar riff from Kirk amid a babble of voices, vox-drones & a 'Suicide'-style minimalism (the 1st and not 2nd LP from Rev/Vega) and the sinister 'spread the virus' which feels like an update of 'Nag Nag Nag'...
'Red Mecca' is not an easy listen, it might appear quite lo-fi in the electronic sense now and some might reason that it's more influential than vital. I'd say persist, as the album reveals itself more and more with each listen and the Cabs-material from 1979-1982 was a series of related recordings. This album fits the current zeitgeist and is the kind of thing that should be flowing from our mp3 players as we travel on trains that may explode due to US foreign policy and extremist religion...Certainly the next step that included the stunning 'Yashar' makes more sense after hearing this stunning album - which remains a milestone in electronica and industrial, setting the tone for albums like 'As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade' & Renegade Soundwave's 'In Dub.' I also think it's not far from Matt Johnson's 4AD debut 'Burning Blue Soul'- which I think was the same year?
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5.0 out of 5 stars My eye for your eye, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Red Mecca (Audio CD)
Exploring those inner alien tonalities this details a band with its fingers tapping into the pulse of an era to watch the aorta flow whose reverberations have flowed forward into the 21st Century. Wars fought in Islamic lands have rippled their pulses into hypnotic beats dancing within the eyes of the Moral Majority. Two fundamental ideas have clashed in a sullen ideology, whilst agreeing in both form and structure.

Boiled down to its essence both (no) fun- da-mental religions share more connections than differences. Both agree with death penalties, retribution, the rightness of the moral cause, erosion of women's rights, ideologies stuck in some medieval mindset and beyond back to the olden days of thought slavery trudging along to an all seeing and omnipotent God.

But as the Cabs detail the God is dead and lies only within belief.

Standing back to back to depict the unravelling of the progressive mind set in an era where progression was very much marked within the aberrant culture, the world is caught in snaps. Now with the added impetus of a drummer Kirk, Malllinder and Watson blast out the angst ridden observations of a world in spiritual torture writhing in contortions in 1980. Synthetic impetus pushes the alienation into other streams and even from the vantage of the 21st Century and the shift in the power of synthetic sounds, this still has a bite to it. It is more commercial than the early output but only in micro millimetres.

So to explore how the present has been shaped by the past, this lies underneath a substrata of their own output, still shining. Red Mask sees the dancefloor shifting whilst "split second feeling" connects back to the electric spark of the first recordings. Black Mask sees the funk bass pushed outwards to play the rhythm and melody whilst the band retreat to a cavern
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Cab's records., 20 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Red Mecca (Audio CD)
A fine piece of music. Red Mecca is on the edge of Cabaret Voltaire inflexion, just getting out of the experimental-shadow-gray period of the latest 70's, and still had not yet submitt themselves to the proeminent beat that will dominate their sound after 2x45 and CrackDown. Perhaps this is the only record where they have superated the Industrial (whatever this can be) estigma that cross most of their work. Refined, subtle, yet maintaining the mistery-atraction of the strange-obscure times, while capturing the sense of elegance from some contemporary musicians of the XX century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great LP, does sound dated now but was a ..., 7 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Red Mecca (Audio CD)
Great LP ,does sound dated now but was a classic of its time .One of Cabs best .
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Red Mecca
Red Mecca by Cabaret Voltaire (Audio CD - 1990)
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