on 30 January 2003
Can you think of a band you like enough to buy their “live album”? A few, possibly. How about a box set? Well, it would have to be a band you really liked and even then you may only listen a few times. Indeed skip a few repeated songs. Then sell on Amazon. Can you think of a band, could there be one, who would be able to release their entire live output as a box set?
Throbbing Gristle have just reissued their legendary 1980 “Twenty Four hours of Throbbing Gristle” (then in cassette format) this time on 24 hour long CDs, making a full day’s worth of pulsating rhythms, mechanical groans, crushing horror, sinister undertones, pained screams... even Jack Bauer would find this difficult to see through.
My guess is you either already have this release or are checking to see if it is real or not. There is no middle ground with TG.
Why did they do it? TG were possibly the most upfront, honest band there ever was. Nothing was kept from the public, however nasty, as a journalistic protocol. So it makes sense for their public “broadcasts” to be made available to the public. All of it.
This release represents the lion’s share of the band’s live output, up to about a year before the eventual split. it is a fascinating record of a band’s musical development: while all of it instantly recognisable as TG (and there are those who would say “uniformly horrific”) one can chart a real development of approach, from the freeform bass rumble of Air Gallery through the emergence of Chris Carter’s hypnotic, even upbeat, rhythms to an eventual “greatest hits” style package of later concerts. There are barely two alike... a month or two usually passes between each disk, enough time for the band to have mutated again. There are disks here that rightly deserve reappraisal, featuring incredible, knock-you-down passages that would never be repeated. Originally, maybe a hundred people would have been watching... a handful understood to clap in whatever silences there were.
Many of the discs here leave you feeling you have woken up from a horrific, yet exhilirating super-real nightmare that seem to have always been happening, rather than just an hour of your life. The world feels different, as though it has has its skin removed. It would be a mistake to play more than 2 or three of these disks in a row. Certainly not the whole thing.
Music aside, there are extras here: badges, embroidered patches, bumper sticker, postcards... that anywhere else would seem trite, yet were fundamental to the TG ethos. An update of the Industrial news Bulletin with interviews and statements, a signed certificate of authenticity etc.
Anything missing? Well, there’s the Scala gig which is now apparently impossible to remaster, there’s the rather integral pop music which used to precede the gig (White Christmas) or immediately follow on from the Wall of Sound (Down Town, theme from Corrie) which for copyright reasons has been edited out and is missed. Also gone, inexplicably, are the few track listings that used to accompany the original tapes. You are thus pushed straight in at the deep end of TG. No index points mean you don’t know when you will surface. One solution would to be to listen with Simon Ford’s excellent TG guide: “Wreckers of Civilisation”.
Thus: either an essential purchase or a senseless waste of £. It depends on you and your life... whether or not you like it with no lumps of fat or gristle... guarunteed.
on 20 January 2003
If you are reading this review then this is what you've been waiting for. The Holy Grail of the industrial music pioneers. Since I was 16, I had heard about the TG 24 hours cassette suitcase. No chance of completing that collection ever. I had found a few copies of the individual cassettes at Wax N Fax in Atlanta while still a teen, but at that pre-internet time that was all that could be found. Now, at last , I have them all.
Here is TG24, a CD collection of that long lost, much rumored and longed for collection!!
The box itself is a modest (mute!) grey. About the size of a pistol case. "TG 24" is stamped in black on the top. When you open your box breathlessly as I did, the first thing you'll notice is the envelope that falls out. In it, you'll find a letter from Chris Carter (!) explaining that you've just purchased "TG24 plus 1" cause you get a free CD that was discovered after the box was put together! Read the letter to find out more. Realise that you've been given a free disc, faint, and then continue. Then you will notice a manilla envelope sealed with a red wax stamp bearing the TG flash. Inside are:
2 patches, 3 stickers, 4 TG pics, 4 photo collage prints made for this release by each band member, 3 button badges, a certificate of authenticity, and a lengthy newsletter ( I got two copies ?)
The CDs themselves are wonderful. Each is in a "record sleeve" with the gig location printed on the front and the cassette picture printed on the back!! The sound is great, every detail is clear as Carter went over every master to bring us the best sound possible. The live sound is now of the same quality as the TG studio CDs you've been listening to for years. No more muddy cassette rituals to sit through! A real labor of love on the part of Chris Carter who mastered it all. The live Throbbing Gristle sound can only be described by me as cosmic drama, horror, alien drones, modulations and passages into damp cellar graves, dayglow submarine empires where slow-motion life reverses and then implodes with cyber-punk hyper-space awareness. Of course TG can be enjoyed as a live gigging band, as individuals exploring their fetishes thru music and performance, and as a soundtrack to your favourite scenes of conquest, lust, devastation, and self discovery.
At this point I'll just say that every CD gives more credit to the claim that LIVE was where TG thrived. I've been thrilled with each CD! Now, when do we get DVDs of every TG video? Hello? Chris? Gen? ......hello? Thanks and I hope to hear from you and all TG fans old and new!