Archive for February, 2014

The Sensational Creed- Nocturnal Operations 7”

Posted in 1980s, 1981, 1985, 39 lyon street, 7'', billy mackenzie, christine beveridge, jih, minimal, minimal synth, orbidöig, steve reid, synth, synthpop, the associates, the sensational creed on February 26, 2014 by Frankie Teardrop

I spent the majority of last year re-ripping a lot of my 7” collection and delicately cleaning up the sound (you can find more evidence of this here), so to tide you over until I finish putting the finishing touches on a new VA compilation, I figured I’d post a few of these here and there.  I’ll have that VA comp up in the next week or two, so stay tuned!

This has always been one of my favorite semi-obscure 7”s, clocking tons of plays and spins over the years.  This single was originally released on Situation Two in 1981 under the name Orbidöig, and this particular version was released in 1985 on Beggars Banquet with an identical track listing (though Down Periscopes has become Down Pericomoscopes for whatever reason. though likely a misprint).  I’m not sure why the band changed their name in general, but Sensational Creed is certainly a little easier to type…  There’s a third Orbidöig/Sensational Creed song on the 12” version of this reissue, a killer instrumental track that clocks in at 10 minutes, but I don’t own a physical copy of the 12”, so I won’t include it here for the time being.

Otherwise, this single has strong Associates connections, with Billy Mackenzie often calling Orbidöig his favorite band, despite their relative obscurity at the time.  The a-side features heavenly vocals from Christine Beveridge, who sang backup on several tracks (and Big Country’s breakthrough!) and also wiggled another “side project” out of the affair under the name 39 Lyon Street, created by Mackensie and Alan Rankine to release a single outside of their contract, with Ms. Beveridge on lead vocals and a properly credited Associates cut on the flip.  Steve Reid was also the second guitarist of the Associates, playing on 1985’s Perhaps after Rankine and Michael Dempsey’s departure three years prior.  It was likely this lineup change that dug this single out of obscurity and prompted a re-release.  Reid also played synths in Nu Shooz and bass on two tracks for Jih.  As if that wasn’t enough, Mackenzie also played tubular bells on the a-side here (though he is incorrectly credited as doing so on the b-side on the sleeve), while he and Mike Hedges (The Cure/Fiction Records) manned the mixing board with Reid.   The result is a killer single that while very Associates-esque in execution, stands on its own as a classic.

There’s another Orbidöig single, released in 1982 under the name Mackenzie sings Orbidöig, which features Billy on vocals and Reid on instruments.   I believe this one is considered an Associates release, taking the lineup changes and timing into consideration, and the track appears on a recent Associates singles collection.

sensational creed

Sensational Creed- Nocturnal Operations 7”
1. Nocturnal Operations
2. Down Pericomoscopes

*download it here*

Karen Marks- Cold Café 7”

Posted in 1980s, 1981, ash wednesday, australia, australian, karen marks, karen marx, minimal, minimal synth, modern jazz, new wave, the metronomes, thealonian music on February 10, 2014 by Frankie Teardrop

Winter is continuing to beat me down here in New York, so here’s something as frigid as the weather has been lately. We’ll just ignore the fact that this cold, minimal gem comes from down under, where the temperatures are as warm as the reefs are deadly. I’m also drinking a cup of cold coffee as I drink this, so seems like an apt time to post. Thanks especially to Bruce for ripping his copy of this incredibly scarce single, which I’m told recently sold for over 500 Australian dollars! That’s one expensive cup of coffee…

This particular Australian gem was released in 1981.  The central character here, with a beautifully sad voice is Karen Marks, with The Metronomes/Modern Jazz/Thealonian Music’s Ash Wednesday appearing as a musical partner. He is credited as producer, but also co-wrote the b-side. As for Karen, there’s no information to be found about her, though she did sing backup on Ash’s equally scarce and equally cold but slightly more aggressive Love By Numbers 7” (occasionally credited as Karen Marx). Despite keeping a low profile, she still appears to be in league with Ash, appearing live in 2012 to perform “Love By Numbers” at the Crystal Bowlroom in St. Kilda. Check that out after the download link.

While “Won’t Wear It Too Long” features a more full arrangement and feels like more of an a-side, I go especially nuts for the title track, a melancholy love letter ripe with restrained desperation. That said, both song seem to tell a similar tale of lost love by the television, with a cup of coffee being the central metaphor. No matter which side you prefer, both tracks have that certain je ne sais quoi that makes these kind of singles so cherished, despite how off-the-grid they are.

As far as I understand, this single was issued without a picture sleeve, so all we have is a nondescript center label…

karen marks

Karen Marks- Cold Café 7”
1. Cold Café
2. Won’t Wear It For Long

*download it here*

As promised, here’s a live performance of Ash Wednesday’s “Love By Numbers” from 2012, with Karen performing her trademark backing vocals: