on 21 December 2006
Some Bizzare is the seminal label set up in 1981 by Stevo Pearce. This is an 18-track compilation, celebrating 25 years of the legendary Some Bizarre label that has given us some of the most unique and inventive dance industrial tracks of the past few decades as well as producing.some of the best selling pop music and has helped establish acts that have become million sellers.
About half of the CD is material from the early 80s such as Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The The etc but this long-overdue anthology is perhaps more geared towards the revival of Some Bizarre Records in the 21st Century....
Heading this list is the awesome "Crazy" by Dark Poets. 'The Dark Poets' are an electronic breakbeat outfit from the UK. Mixing dark, moody breakbeat with blissed out warped electronica, they are probably most well known in the public domain for their soundtrack work on Alex Chandons 'Cradle of Filth' horror movie 'Cradle of Fear' (As well as the official soundtrack album) and 'Crazy' is the first track to be released by the Dark Poets on the 'Some Bizzare' Label. The track itself can only be described as "Prodigy on acid" or "a bad trip inverse of handbag house" but either the way this is an act not to be messed with. Apparently they've got an album coming out in 2007 on Some Bizarre Records and i personally cannot wait to hear more.
Other great tracks on the CD are Soft Cell's "Memorabilia" - Monkey Farm Frankenstein's Mental Remix which brings the original bang up to date with a slamming new breakbeat mix. And also "Accelerate" by Meka is cut from similar cloth as Soft Cell. MFF - "Just another victim" is another 2006 track which sounds fantastic. More bizarrely is that some of the 80s tracks sound remarkably current - Cabaret Voltaire, Einsturzende Neubauten's and even The The all seem way ahead of their time and showcase the labels amazing diversity.
Some Bizarre has been responsible for some of the most innovative recordings of the era, this eclectic mix of songs shows how important and influential the label has been over the last 25 years. And with artists such as Dark Poets, Mainstream Distortion and Meka etc the label is set to continue to be genre defining into the future. I urge you to buy it now, if only for the awesome Dark Poets track, but the other 17 are worthy of a place in your record collection....
To coincide with the reissue of some albums by Einsturzende Neubauten and Scraping Foetus off the Wheel and an exhibition of Some Bizarre related art work in Londonium there comes this compilation of Some Bizarre artists past and present appears. Readers of Simon Reynolds' compulsive account of post punk and new pop `Rip It Up & Start Again' will note the chapter centring on Some Bizarre and hopefully be interested. Not that Stevo has come off well in the past - check the subtitle to Coil's `Horse Rotovator' ("Stevo - pay us what you owe us!"), the falling out with Marc Almond detailed in `Tainted Life', Genesis P-Orridge's recent plea for people not to buy old versions of his back-catalogue (presumably so he can reissue them?), or the scathing references made by Neubauten to their tenure on Some Bizarre. Stevo is the kind of British person who we should celebrate, and his label was very influential setting the precedent for the avant-pop Depeche Mode made millions out of and rather key in the industrial sense too. Any label that boasted Cabaret Voltaire, Coil, Einsturzende Neubauten, Foetus, Orange Juice, Psychic TV, Soft Cell, Swans, Test Dept and The The had to be doing something right!
This compilation features many of those acts, alongside a contemporary remix of Soft Cell's `Memorabilia' (why mess with the excellence of the original? I disliked the `Ectsatic'-remix) and some new artists, who I'm not completely convinced of. Hopefully Stevo will relaunch the SB-label and join the thriving alternative labels of today - Bella-Union, Domino, Matador, Rough Trade, 4AD etc.
At one point the original version of Depeche Mode's `Photographic' was a fabled thing featuring on the original Some Bizarre album (a compilation that should be made available again for historical reasons), it's here, though as many a Mode fan will tell you, it's been on the reissue of `Singles '81 to 85' since 1998. Shame more of the original album's artists aren't here (e.g. B-Movie, Blancmange), and a shame that acts like Coil and Marc & the Mambas don't feature either (I would have picked Coil's influential cover of `Tainted Love' and a lost Mambas track like `Sleaze' or `Your Aura').
There are two Neubauten tracks here, both of which stem from the rather lovely 1980s reissues of the mighty EN - `Der Kuss' stems from 1989's underrated `Haus Der Luge', which showcased a more ambient-percussive version of the band. There's also an earlier definitive example of EN the sonic terrorists in the form of `Yu Gung (Feed My Ego)', which blended the early approach of `Strategies Against Architecture' with string sounds that recall Psycho and Stravinsky, gut-blending bass drones, the sound of a razorblade cutting amphetamines, and various metals being hammered. I think it's one of those tracks that thoroughly warrant the use of illicit substances in popular music!
Alongside the `Memorabilia'-remix there is another song by Soft Cell, `Little Rough Rhinestone' from their best album `This Last Night...in Sodom.' This is one of the poppier tracks from it, featuring session man Gary Barnacle on sax and fits with the r'n'b approach Almond described in his autobiography for the album. There are Cell-related tracks in the form of Cabaret Voltaire's `Crackdown' (Ball was a guest on this album, as he was on Psychic TV's `Godstar'), there's Ball's work with Richard Norris as The Grid, and even one of the songs from Ball's long forgotten album `In Strict Tempo' (the title track featuring Virgin Prune & Bono-associate Gavin Friday - the other guest vocalist on this unsung classic being Genesis P-Orridge). Which brings us to Psychic TV - shame this compilation didn't opt to include the great PTV/Almond collaboration `Guiltless' from the classic `Force the Hand of Chance', or any of those gorgeous songs P-Orridge and Alex Ferguson were composing at the time (like `The Orchids' or `Just Drifting'), or something more challenging like `In the Nursery' or `Terminus.' Instead there is the brief `Finale' from `Dreams Less Sweet', which showcases the album's revolutionary approach to recording, but is hardly likely to turn people onto the joys of first phase PTV.
The industrial side of the label is hugely apparent, despite the lack of Coil - beyond Neubuaten there is Test Dept, whose `Plastic' showcases their metallic-sampling sound (which heavily influenced Depeche Mode), and then there is `Water Torture' by Scraping Foetus off the Wheel. J.G. Thirwell was a key figure for Some Bizarre and this era, popping up with the Birthday Party, the Immaculate Consumptives, Orange Juice, Coil, Neubauten, The The, Marc & the Mambas, & Soft Cell (his best metal-bashing collection beyond the compiling he did on the first `Strategies' LP is `Stinkfist' by Lydia Lunch & his alter ego Clint Ruin). `Water Torture' is great fun from 1984's `Hole', a typical approach of his deranged alternative pop aesthetic - imagine a blend of Cab Calloway, Neubauten, and Toms' Jones & Waits with lyrics that are funnier than William S Burroughs and you're close!!!! You can hear the influence of Thirwell on the Matt Johnson/Roli Mossimann-penned `Twilight of a Champion' from 1986's `Infected' - a fine song, though something like `Flesh & Bones' or `Mental Healing Process' would have seemed more suitable. & why isn't the `Infected' video album on DVD???
My favourite song here is the charming `Time is Money (Bastard)' by Swans, which stemmed from their period post No Wave and before they became a folkier and more song writing based act. Michael Gira remains one of the great songwriters and vocalists of the last few decades and despite past reissue programmes, the back catalogue isn't as available as it should be. Some Bizarre released `Cop' in the mid-1980s and `Time is Money (Bastard)' fits well with Neubauten & Test Dept: a pulsing minimal beat, Jarboe's scream, the minimal guitar of Norman Westerberg, and Gira's hateful howl. It's workout music for a Gulag.
`Redefining the Prologue' is mostly a reminder of the great acts who were on the label in the 1980s - for a wider background see chapter 25 in `Rip It Up & Start Again.'