• The story of David Bowie’s early years told in new BBC film

    By | October 9, 2018

    With archival footage of the audition where he was rejected.

    A new film called David Bowie: The First Five Years is being released in 2019.

    Read more: 10 essential David Bowie records

    David Bowie: The First Five Years marks the third film in a trilogy directed and produced by Francis Whateley, following David Bowie: Five Years and David Bowie: The Last Five Years.

    The 90-minute documentary will feature rare archival and performance footage alongside exclusive interviews with Bowie’s family, former bandmates, collaborators and friends.

    It also includes a report from the BBC’s Archives from an audition in November 1965 under the band name David Bowie and the Lower Third. According to the BBC’s ‘Talent Section Group’ Bowie had “quite a different sound”, but “no personality”, “not particularly exciting” and “will not improve with practise.”

    Thankfully for us, Bowie didn’t listen to the ill-advised opinions of the BBC ‘Talent Section Group’.

    “I spent all my formative years adopting guises and changing roles, just learning to be somebody,” shares Bowie in an archival clip from the film.

    “I wanted to be accepted as David Bowie – a person that you will always watch to see what kind of thing he is doing.”

    David Bowie’s 2000 Glastonbury set will also be aired this October on BBC Four.

    Head here for more info, and watch a young Bowie (then known as Davey Jones) in his first television appearance in 1964 – as part of the Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Longhaired Men – below.

  • David Bowie’s 2000 Glastonbury headline set released on vinyl for the first time

    By | October 3, 2018

    A triple LP featuring his tour diary.

    David Bowie’s Glastonbury headline set from 2000 will be released on vinyl for the first time, this November via Warner Music.

    Read next: 10 essential David Bowie records

    The 21-song triple vinyl release features Bowie’s diary, which he wrote for Time Out ahead of his performance.

    “As of 1990 I got through the rest of the 20th century without having to do a big hits show,” he shared. “Yes, yes, I know I did four or five hits on the later shows but I held out pretty well I thought… big, well known songs will litter the field at Glastonbury this year. Well, with a couple of quirks of course.”

    Glastonbury 2000 also includes cover artwork by Jonathan Barnbrook – who collaborated with Bowie on the sleeves for Heathen, The Next Day and , as well as photographs of Bowie from the show.

    Pre-order a copy of Glastonbury 2000 here ahead of its 30th November release, watch 37 minutes of Bowie’s set and check out the track list below.

    Tracklist

    Side 1

    1. Introduction (Greensleeves)
    2. Wild Is The Wind
    3. China Girl
    4. Changes

    Side 2

    1. Stay
    2. Life On Mars?
    3. Absolute Beginners

    Side 3

    1. Ashes To Ashes
    2. Rebel Rebel
    3. Little Wonder
    4. Golden Years

    Side 4

    1. Fame
    2. All The Young Dudes
    3. The Man Who Sold The World
    4. Station To Station

    Side 5

    1. Starman
    2. Hallo Spaceboy
    3. Under Pressure
    4. Ziggy Stardust

    Side 6

    1. Heroes
    2. Let’s Dance
    3. I’m Afraid Of Americans

  • David Bowie’s first known recording sold for nearly £40,000

    By | September 11, 2018

    The tape was discovered inside of a bread basket.

    A demo that David Bowie recorded in 1963 – at sixteen years old with his then-band The Konrads – has been sold at auction for £39,360 reports The Guardian.

    Read more: An introduction to David Bowie in 10 records

    Konrads drummer David Hadfield discovered the tape stashed in a bread basket along with letters, bills, booking forms, photographs and promo sketches of their band.

    “We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. I chose ‘I Never Dreamed’ as it was the strongest, the other two were a bit weak!” shared Hadfield.

    “I also decided that David was the best person to sing it and give the right interpretation. So this became the very first recording of David Jones (Bowie) singing 55 years ago!”

    According to Omega Auctions, a “bidding frenzy” resulted in the tape selling for nearly four times the expected amount.

    In case you don’t have a cool 40K lying around – fear not. You can listen to the ‘I Never Dreamed’ recording below.

  • The genius of Conny Plank through his son’s eyes

    By | August 21, 2018

    Conny Plank: The Potential of Noise is a new documentary that explores the career of the visionary German electronic music producer by talking to the musicians with whom he worked – from Can’s Holger Czukay and Kraftwerk’s Michael Rother to Whodini’s Jalil Hutchins. Chris May meets Conny Plank’s son, Stephan Plank, the instigator and co-director of the film.

    Conny Plank’s career as a producer was short, lasting from 1969 until his death in 1987 aged just 47, but its impact was immense. Among his contemporaries, only ECM’s Manfred Eicher comes anywhere close to matching Plank’s influence, pioneering the concept and use of the studio as instrument in a European context.

    As a key participant in the spectrum of styles that were given the umbrella-description krautrock in the 1970s, Plank worked with practically every artist of importance in the genre, and with them influenced emergent ambient, new wave, synth-pop, hip-hop and electronic dance music.

    In his film, Stephan Plank interviews the musicians with whom his father collaborated, their recollections and tributes creating a luminous new insight into Plank’s life and work.

    Stephan met all these musicians as a child, while they were recording at Conny’s residential studio and family home in a converted farmhouse outside Cologne. This shared history unlocked many doors and memory banks during the making of the film, whether recording with Duke Ellington or shopping for breakfast cereal with David Bowie.


    What prompted you to make The Potential Of Noise?

    I was just 13 years old when my father died, and as a child you don’t talk to your father much about his work. So my main reason to do the film was to understand how Conny’s work happened. I thought the best way to learn this was to interview the artists whose music he produced.

    One thing that’s abundantly clear in the film is that the people you interview seem to have genuinely loved and respected Conny. The praise they heap on him isn’t standard music-business hyperbole. There is a different dynamic going on. Why do you think that was?

    I felt that too. I think there are two reasons. The first is because when Conny started producing bands, he usually took them on at a very early stage in their careers. They were not the great stars they had become by the time I interviewed them, and so Conny was a kind of father figure to them. The other reason was that they remembered me as a child hanging around the studio, having meals, and maybe playing games with them. They embraced Conny as a father figure, and perhaps also looked on me as a sort of younger sibling. In the film, they felt they were telling their stories to someone who was close to Conny, and in a way, close to them too.

    Did anyone say no to being interviewed?

    One person.

    Can you say who that was?

    I think you can guess.

    [In 1986, Plank famously turned down an approach to produce U2’s The Joshua Tree. After meeting the band, he was quoted as saying, “I don’t think I can work with this singer.”]

    As well as Bono, did you also try to speak to David Bowie?

    We were in the process of negotiating an appointment to interview him when he unfortunately left the planet. I had met David in 1978. He was involved in the Devo production and came along. He enjoyed going grocery shopping with my mum. I was only a little boy, but I remember going with them. At the time, the supermarkets in Germany had ashtrays in all the aisles, and I remember walking up and down the aisles with David, who was smoking all the time. He was also looking at the breakfast cereals. He was really into cereals, and at that age so was I, so I felt a bond with him. Apparently he enjoyed these shopping trips, because in our little town no-one recognised him and he could just be himself.

    Your interview with Whodini is particularly moving.

    The Whodini interview was a real gift. When you talk to the German guys, they are very controlled in their language, they are very precise in how they tell their stories. The Whodini guys were a treat because they just opened up their hearts and it all poured out. Jalil explained how when he started the session with Conny he couldn’t get comfortable with the headphones. Conny sensed something was wrong and said “Why are you behaving like this? What’s the problem?” And Jalil said, “Well, I prefer it when I’m performing live and there are speakers behind me and I don’t have headphones and I feel free.” So Conny constructed a PA behind him, and balanced it with the mic, so Jalil could record without wearing headphones. This was very moving for Jalil, because nobody had ever taken time like that for him before. It was always rush, rush, rush in the studio, do what you are told. Conny always gave the musicians all the time they needed, he never let them feel pressured.

    The artists Conny produced also spanned an unusually wide range of styles and genres…

    His range of interests extended far beyond krautrock. And it was not like he was into krautrock for a few years and then decided to leave it and go elsewhere – he did it all together, all mixed up. All these strands continued alongside each other. He was looking for innovation first and foremost and it didn’t matter in what style of music he found that innovation. And he did not try to impose his own rules on the artists, he just wanted to help them express themselves.

    I imagine artists would just come to him with projects.

    That was the way it worked. He never went out pitching to artists. I remember sitting at the kitchen table in the morning and Conny would have a big crate of demo tapes. He would take one out at random, listen to it and ask, “Can he sing or does he have to sing?” Just being able to sing was not a criteria that would make Conny think it was interesting. But if somebody had to sing, that was interesting, and he would work with them.

    Is it true that Conny worked with Stockhausen in the 1970s and that you are preparing the tapes for release?

    There was a collaboration between Conny and a Stockhausen, but it was not Karlheinz Stockhausen, it was one of his sons. He did meet Karlheinz when he was a sound engineer at the radio station in Cologne during the late 1960s, and he met Holger Czukay and the Can guys through him. But that was all.

    That’s a shame. A Conny/Karlheinz album would likely be amazing.

    Indeed. But one thing that happens when someone like Conny dies is that the stories get embellished. Mind you, I found one that I thought was a tall tale, but it turned out to be true. Conny worked with Duke Ellington in 1970 and Ellington was supposed to have said to him, “Young man, you are doing a good job.” So I searched through the archive and I found a session tape and Ellington had indeed written those words on the box. Ellington was doing a tour of Germany and he needed a rehearsal space in Cologne. Conny arranged for the studio he worked in [Plank did not have his own studio in 1970] to give it to him for free because Conny was a big Ellington fan. Duke did the rehearsal and Conny asked, “Can we do a recording?” And Duke said, “Let’s do one now.” Maybe I’m putting too much onto it, but to me it sounds rather kraut-y. [The session was released in 2015 and it does indeed sound like Plank nudged Ellington out of his comfort zone. Quite an achievement for a young producer working with a veteran genius].

    What’s your take on the rumour that Conny recorded a big band session with Marlene Dietrich at the end of the 1960s?

    It might have happened, but I haven’t found any corroborating witnesses, or anything to prove it – yet. When I first heard the story I felt it was a myth, but since I found out that the Ellington story was true, I am open minded. I have learnt that when it comes to music and Conny, almost anything might be true.


    Conny Plank: The Potential Of Noise will be screened at the DocHouse in London on 27th August, followed by a Q&A with Stephan Plank. Click here for more info.

  • The percussive innovations of unsung electronic music pioneer Klaus Krüger

    From building his own drums, to having tea with David Bowie, Klaus Krüger lived through West Berlin’s creative heyday, recorded with Tangerine Dream and Iggy Pop, and cut his own tape loops by hand.

    Such was the fertility of West Berlin’s creative underground in the ’70s and early ’80s, that many of the era’s trailblazing musicians still manage to sneak under the radar. As political engagement, radical lifestyles and technological advancements coalesced in the squats and studios between the Landwehr Canal and the Berlin Wall, a generation of young musicians and artists found freedom to experiment in ways that would lay the foundations for electronic music.

    Among them, living in a Kreuzberg loft and making his own drums by hand, was a graphic design student called Klaus Krüger. Over the course of just a few years, he would cut two albums with Tangerine Dream (Cyclone and Force Majeure), record and tour with Iggy Pop, befriend Bowie, and pioneer his own brand of percussive tape sampling.

    After collaborating with BBE on Sun Palace’s ‘Raw Movements / Rude Movements’ reissue, platform and label Halfway Ritmo has joined forces with Italy’s Early Sound Recordings to release a collection of tapes made by Klaus Krüger in the ’80s, under the title Advanced Dance.

    Recorded between 1982 and 1989, the tracks showcase Krüger’s ability to balance complex polyrhythms, classic drum patterns and electronic sequencing, giving birth to an unconventional and avant-garde form of music that could easily be defined as a precursor of techno.

    To mark the release, Halfway Ritmo’s Massimo Di Lena (part of Nu Guinea with Lucio Aquilina) and Flavia Lamprecht (editor of Kodizes Magazine) spoke to Krüger about his experience of living and working in West Berlin, sharing a studio with Tangerine Dream, and developing his own unique percussive sound.


    You studied at Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin. How did the atmosphere there help you grow creatively?

    My time at Hochschule für Bildende Künste opened up many possibilities for me. I started my studies in 1971 and was part of the department of Grafik und Gestaltung [Graphic design]. I liked it there because they gave me the chance to look into other creative fields like painting, printing, photography and design, but my first creative activity was playing drums. I wanted to build my own drums.

    How did the idea come about?

    It all arose out of the thought that even if I rehearsed 24 hours-a-day, I would still somehow sound like everyone else with normal drums. It was about looking for my own sound by changing the material of the instrument. I had the idea of building the drum shells out of polyester. I built seven drums in standard sizes and it took me a year to build them. At that time I was living with six people in a loft in Kreuzberg. The apartment was on top of a factory building, and one room was shaped like a trapezoid. The acoustics in there were very particular and I was in heaven! I played the drums in that room every day for almost a year.

    Did you record any of your drum sessions?

    Yes, in 1975 I also started to record my drums to tape. I bought a pair of condenser mics and a Revox tape recorder. I cabled everything together and just played the shit out of my drums. The idea of recording onto a tape recorder was great because I suddenly owned a production tool.

    What did you do with the tapes once you’d recorded them?

    I started to cut tapes and structured pieces of music using a collage technique. I saw this technique used mainly at radio stations, and I used studio tape which has a thicker backside, making it more efficient to handle. I used a pencil and made a mark on the back of the tape where the cut was supposed to be, and cut the tape at a 45 degree angle so I could put different pieces of drum recordings together and experiment with it. If you’re good at it, you don’t hear any cut. It was just the beginning of a lifetime interest in the more electronic parts of music.

    Tell us a little about how this evolved?

    I got asked to go into the studio with Edgar Froese for the first time in 1976. He produced a demo tape for the British singer-songwriter Nick Whiffen in Berlin. This was actually my first professional studio job as a drummer and I used my custom-built polyester drums. A year later in 1977, Edgar invited me to play drums on his solo album Ages. This was the beginning of our musical working relationship, which led to a new Tangerine Dream formation later that year. I played my polyester drums on two of their albums and accompanied them on a big European tour in 1978.

    Was there something you particularly remember about Tangerine Dream’s creative process?

    I can still clearly remember one precise thing from when we worked on Force Majeure that still makes me admire Christoph Franke’s avant garde musical thinking today.

    Instead of a clock (usually an LFO) triggering the Moog sequencer, Christopher placed a contact microphone on my hi-hat cymbal (usually playing 1/8 notes) and processed that signal to get a useful trigger signal. You can hear this experiment on the album’s ‘Cloudburst Flight’ between 5.30 and 7.20 minutes.

    Most of Christopher’s analogue synthesizer equipment was a modular Moog system (modules like clocks, oscillators, filters, mixers and sequencers) which was connected with cables. The basic impulse for running a sequencer was a voltage-controlled trigger signal from a low frequency oscillator which also controlled the tempo. So the idea was that I would play the role of the “LFO” and trigger the sequencer, which was a lot of fun. In general this method was not often used in pop music production, because most producers favoured the consistency of a mechanical clock.

    During that time you also started working as drummer on a few of Iggy Pop’s albums. How did that come about?

    In December 1978, I was invited to record with Edgar Froese, and at that time Iggy Pop was living in Berlin. I met him at the studio where we recorded. Iggy Pop and David Bowie were in the room where I was playing the drums. It was a coincidence that they were there, they just drove around town and stopped by, because Edgar knew David already. I didn’t even notice them while I was playing. I don’t know why, but they asked for my telephone number. So I was like, “Yeah, there you go – have my number and let me get back to playing!” They were probably looking for someone who didn’t treat them with any kind of special admiration. A few weeks later Iggy Pop called me. We met up and started to hang out a little bit, went to nightclubs and so on.

    What do you think attracted them to come to Berlin?

    At that time Berlin allowed you to be who you were, the way you wanted to be, but without the pretentious touch you felt in other big cities. For me it was normal, as this was the world I grew up in, but for others who came from one of those hectic places and saw Berlin, it was an idyll and a retreat. There wasn’t much going on and it helped you to decelerate, and concentrate on what you were doing.

    What other kind of encounters did you have with the two of them?

    David Bowie invited me to his apartment in Schöneberg and showed me around. The whole apartment had a sand-coloured carpet and five big rooms. Some of them were completely empty, and in other rooms there was just one item, like an Arp synthesizer or a stereo. The kitchen was full of stuff though. We sat down in the kitchen and chatted. David even made a cup of tea for me. Iggy Pop was living just around the corner in the back building. I met him from time to time while he was writing music. There was something cute about the way he worked with demos and cassettes. He had a mountain of cassette tapes in his living room and played me several of them. At that time, I still didn’t know that he wanted me to play drums on his next album.

    And when did you find out?

    David Bowie asked me later if I was interested in playing drums on Iggy’s next album. The deal was fixed pretty quickly. Iggy only had a pretty vague idea about the drum parts. Honestly, he never told me what to play. Later in the studio in Los Angeles, I worked mainly with the two other musicians – Jackie Clark and Scott Thurston – on the basic tracks. This was in December 1978.

    How did this way of working differ from Tangerine Dream?

    With Tangerine Dream it was more like everybody had their own place and studio, and worked by themselves, except when we rehearsed and played concerts. With Iggy Pop there was more travelling and live playing, which I really liked at the time. We toured Europe, and at that time, I was living together with Martin Kippenberger in Kreuzberg. He and some friends opened up a club called S036. On that tour we also played in Berlin, and after the concert we all went together to S036.

    Having moved on from Iggy Pop and Tangerine Dream, how did you make your solo projects a reality?

    Even though I stopped working with Tangerine Dream, Christoph Franke remained a good friend. Christoph gave me the opportunity to use his studio, which was located in Spandau. The studio had high walls as it was previously a cinema. Christoph’s idea was to have the recording room and a control room together in one space. As Christoph was travelled to the US regularly, I used his studio for many weeks by myself. His studio became the room in which I could record my music. I was the producer, engineer and musician. I wasn’t really thinking of my career, but rather my own enjoyment. My intention wasn’t to record rock songs, but just to come up with something different, where I could put all my experiences together. I can definitely say that this was a very creative phase in my life.

    Together with friends from the studio community “Fabrikneu”, we had an idea to publish a single by ourselves and sell some of the 100 copies to smaller record shops in Berlin. I can still remember having to hand-glue hundreds of covers, because the records only arrived from the pressing plant in white envelopes. I went from playing the drum beats to bagging the individual records with genuine handicraft!

    In 1981 and 1983, you released two albums on German label Innovative Communications, One on One and Zwischenmischung. Your music was ahead of its time and was characterised by complex polyrhythms.

    By that point I had really got into using analogue sequencers. I ordered different pieces to build my own percussion synthesizer with which I could realise more complex, rhythmic tracks.

    You’re now releasing Advanced Dance, which is a collection of unreleased music that you composed between 1982 and 1989. Tell us a little about that.

    All the tracks on the album were basically created, played and recorded in the ’80s, from my perspective on the change from analogue to digital, which revolutionised almost every detail in music production. My working relationship with Edgar Froese und Christopher Franke led me to have access to musical production equipment for my own experiments (to call them “compositions” would probably be a slight exaggeration.) So all this represented my foundation when the ’80s came along, with digital sequencers, the first computers and all these MIDI sound machines. I used all this stuff with a lot of pleasure. This was a time in my life where I could be very creative, and I am thankful for that.

  • The first demo David Bowie recorded at 16 is up for sale

    By | July 23, 2018

    The tape was discovered stashed away in a bread basket.

    A 1963 demo tape that David Bowie recorded when he was sixteen-years-old, with then band The Konrads, is going on sale, reports The Guardian.

    Read next: An introduction to David Bowie in 10 records

    The Konrads’ drummer David Hadfield discovered the tape stashed in a bread basket along with letters, bills, booking forms, photographs and promo sketches of their band.

    “Our agent, Eric Easton, who also managed The Rolling Stones, asked us to do a demo so he could try and get us an auction at Decca. So in early 1963 I booked into R.G.Jones small studio in Morden. In preparation for the demo David and our guitarist Neville Wills wrote 2/3 songs,” shares Hadfield.

    “We had decided that we would do a couple of guitar instrumentals and one original song. I chose ‘I Never Dreamed’ as it was the strongest, the other two were a bit weak! I also decided that David was the best person to sing it and give the right interpretation. So this became the very first recording of David Jones (Bowie) singing 55 years ago!”

    The discovery follows news that a 15xLP box set called David Bowie: Loving The Alien (1983-1988) will be released later this year.

    Head here for more info ahead of the September sale at Omega Auctions in Newton-le-Willows, and listen to the demo below.

  • Eight David Bowie albums collected in new 15xLP box set

    By | July 19, 2018

    Including a new production of 1987 album Never Let Me Down.

    Parlophone has announced the fourth in a series of career-spanning David Bowie box sets, David Bowie: Loving The Alien.

    Read next: 10 essential David Bowie records

    Set to be released on 12th October, it will chart Bowie’s output between 1983 and 1988, and includes a new Mario McNulty production of Bowie’s 1987 album Never Let Me Down. It features new instrumentation by Bowie collaborators Reeves Gabrels, David Torn, Sterling Campbell, and Tim Lefebvre, a string quartet with arrangements by Nico Muhly, and an appearance from Laurie Anderson on ‘Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)’.

    The rest of the set includes newly remastered versions of Let’s Dance, Tonight, the original Never Let Me Down, live album Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87), previously unreleased live album Serious Moonlight recorded in Vancouver in 1983, a collection of original extended remixes entitled Dance, and the non-album/alternate version/b-sides and soundtrack music compilation RE:CALL 4.

    Collected as a 15xLP vinyl box set, Loving The Alien also includes an 84-page book of rarely seen and previously unpublished photos, historical press reviews and technical notes about the albums from producers/engineers Nile Rodgers, Hugh Padgham, Mario McNulty and Justin Shirley-Smith.

    David Bowie: Loving The Alien (1983-1988) is out on 12th October. Click here for more information and album tracklists.

  • David Bowie soundtrack for 1982 TV play Baal reissued on limited 10″ for the first time

    By | May 18, 2018

    With the Star Man in its title role.

    The soundtrack that David Bowie created for a 1982 BBC television adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s first play, Baal, is being reissued on vinyl, this June via Parlophone.

    Read more: An introduction to David Bowie in 10 records

    Originally aired 2nd March 1982 on BBC One and directed by Alan Clarke, the adaptation saw Bowie take on the titular role.

    It features English translations of Brecht’s lyrics, with new musical settings by Dominic Muldowney.

    Remastered for this first ever reissue on 10″ vinyl, the EP will be available in stores only.

    Bowie’s 1981 soundtrack for the German film Christiane F. Wir – Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo has also been remastered for a limited reissue on red LP.

    It features 9 tracks with songs from Station To Station, Low, Heroes, Stage and Lodger

    Head here for more info, watch Bowie performing ‘The Drowned Girl’ and check out the track list below.

    David Bowie In Bertolt Brecht’s Baal

    Tracklist

    Side A

    1. Baal’s Hymn (Der Choral Vom Großen Baal)
    2. Remembering Marie A. (Erinnerung An Die Marie A.)

    Side 2

    1. Ballad Of The Adventurers (Die Ballad Von Den Abenteurern)
    2. The Drowned Girl (Vom Ertrunkenen Mädchen)
    3. The Dirty Song

    Christiane F. – Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo

    Tracklist

    Side A

    1. V-2 Schneider
    2. TVC 15
    3. “Heroes/Helden”
    4. Boys Keep Swinging
    5. Sense Of Doubt

    Side B

    1. Station To Station
    2. Look Back In Anger
    3. Stay
    4. Warszawa

  • 25 vinyl releases actually worth getting on Record Store Day 2018

    By | April 18, 2018

    The best of this year’s exclusives.

    In recent years, response here at the office to the Record Store Day list has followed a familiar pattern: mild dread, followed by irritation, followed by a sense of emptiness.

    Piercing the black wax clouds of needless reissues and major label sewage clogging your favourite indie shop for the next few weeks are a few rays of gleaming vinyl sunshine. 25 rays to be precise.

    To help you make the most of your time in the queue, we’ve highlighted the releases to make a bee-line for and just why they might be worth getting out of bed for – focussing on new and archival releases where possible.


    António Sanches
    Buli Povo!

    (Analog Africa)

    Analog Africa deliver a long awaited reissue of Antonio Sanches’ Buli Povo, a 1983 LP which fuses the far out Funaná funk with synth, African rhythms and Portuguese instrumentals. His eerie sci-fi funk track ‘Pinta Manta’ opened the label’s fantastic Space Echo compilation back in 2016.


    Antony Gormley

    Sounds of the Studio

    (Gearbox Records)

    The kind of niche release Record Store Day was made for, London jazz label Gearbox Records gain access to UK sculptor supreme Antony Gormley’s “cathedral-like” studio to capture the sounds that emanate from the hammers, grinders, fans and welders involved in making the magic happen.


    Brian Eno with Kevin Shields

    ‘The Weight Of History’ / ‘Only Once Away My Son’Opal

    (Opal)

    Brian Eno teams up with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields for this double a-side affair, which includes new track ‘The Weight of History’ alongside their 2017 collaboration ‘Only Once Away My Son’.


    Bibio

    ‘Zen Drums’/’Dada Drums’

    (Warp)

    Bibio takes a left turn for a 12” of new material released by Warp on RSD this year, crafted from live drums and synthesizers. Produced in collaboration with calligrapher Timothy Dickinson, each of the 1,000 copies is hand-painted and utterly unique. Talk about zen.


    Cheikh Lô

    Né La Thiass

    (World Circuit)

    An essential reissue of Cheikh Lô’s 1995 cassette, produced in Senegal by Youssou N’Dour. Not a record we were previously familiar with, this one hasn’t left the turntable since, fusing Mande, Wolof and Congolese music with Lô’s passion for Cuban rhythms. Gentle, persuasive, melancholy, and deeply spiritual, this is a must for fans of Awesome Tapes, Mr Bongo and beyond.


    Cymande

    Promised Heights

    (Mr Bongo)

    Speaking of which… Mr Bongo delivers two remastered Cymande album reissues, for a double hit of of sunshine-filled soul funk. Though Second Time Around is worth a peep, the more elusive and anthemic Promised Heights is our favourite.


    David Axelrod

    Song Of Innocence

    (Now-Again)

    The first in a series of reissues of legendary producer David Axelrod’s Capital Trilogy, Song of Innocence is one of his most continually referenced works, regularly sampled and “celebrated as psychedelic, the birth of jazz-fusion, the harbinger of hip-hop.”


    David Bowie

    ‘Let’s Dance’ demo

    (PLG UK Catalog)

    As per usual, there are a bevy of Bowie releases this RSD. The highlight is a ‘Let’s Dance’ full length demo version, mixed by Nile Rogers, who also co-produced the original track with Bowie, released on vinyl for the first time. Its B-side includes a live version from a 1983 concert in Canada.


    Ed Motta presents…

    Too Slow To Disco Brazil

    (How Are You?)

    The man, nay, the legend Ed Motta takes the Too Slow To Disco series down to Rio for a journey through the country’s chugging AOR underbelly. Hell, the man has 7 copies of Steely Dan’s Aja, so who else would you trust? In his words, before listening, please acquire: “A Hawaiian shirt à la Magnum PI, loafers without socks as in Miami Vice, [and] jump in your convertible and drive under the coconut trees.”


    Jean-Jacques Perrey

    Prelude au Sommeil

    (Moochin’ About)

    Great electronic innovator and madcap experimentalist Jean-Jacques Perrey release his first record, Prelude au Sommeil in 1957, and is presented here on vinyl in its entirety for the first time. “Funeral-parlour Muzak in a mausoleum on the moon”? Sounds like the perfect post-RSD soundtrack.


    Marquis Hawkes

    Aus126

    (Aus Records)

    Marquis Hawkes is no stranger to harnessing the power of almighty soul voices and turning them into exultant house anthems. For this RSD release on Will Saul’s Aus label, he takes on two titans of RnB, serving up a duo of dance floor ready reworks.


    Mary Clark

    ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ / ‘You Got Your Hold On Me’

    (Soul Brother Records)

    A seminal profession of love, delivered in a disco soul package, Mary Clark’s original 45 edit of ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ gets its first official reissue, with the equally essential slow jam ‘You Got Your Hold On Me’ on the flip.

    Miles Davis

    Rubberband

    (Rhino Warner)

    A four-track teaser EP from Rubberband, the long lost 1985 album by the one and only Miles Davis, released later this year. Should this have remained lost? Perhaps… But with Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau slated on the original, this might be the closest we’ll ever come to finding out.


    Modula

    Incontro Al Club Ventuno

    (Futurible)

    More funky, ‘70s facing electro-synth workouts from Naples’ Filippo Colonna Romano aka Modula, who channels his recent VF mix of obscure Italian soundtracks into a homage to the country’s rich and kitsch history of crime b-movies. One of those “off-RSD” releases you’ll need to be extra lucky to find.


    Molly Nilsson

    These Things take Time

    (Night School Records)

    A favourite of ours at VF, Molly Nilsson’s debut was first self-released on CD-r in 2008 in true DIY style. Pressed in an edition of 500 on clear vinyl, it’s a captivating introduction to Nilsson’s otherworldly musings.


    Oliver Coates

    John Luther Adams’ Canticles of the Sky

    (RVNG Intl.)

    Mica Levi, Radiohead and Actress collaborator Oliver Coates’ interpretation of the John Luther Adams composition, stripped back to 16 cello parts, played and overdubbed entirely by Coates.


    Oumou Sangaré

    Mogoya Remixed

    (Nø Førmat)

    Six reworks from Malian legend Oumou Sangaré’s Mogoya Remixed get released on white 12″ for the first time, including edits by Sampha, St Germain, and Natureboy Flako.


    Ryuichi Sakamoto

    ff2

    (Milan)

    A two-track 12″ of ethereal and delicate new material from maestro Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose album async was one of our favourite records of 2017.


    Shiho Yabuki

    The Body Is A Message Of The Universe

    (Subliminal Sounds)

    Receiving only one small-scale release on a tiny Japanese label, and sounding like an underwater animé set on Jupiter, Shiho Yabuki’s meditative and serene Japanese ambient album from the 1980s gets its first ever reissue, on breezy translucent pink vinyl for maximum zen.


    Serge Gainsbourg

    Le Pacha

    (WEWANTSOUNDS)

    The first full release for the cult Serge Gainsbourg soundtrack from 1967, which features a short cameo from the man himself in typically louche form. Low slung, smoked-out jazz modes abound in what is a crucial addition to the Gainsbourg canon. Look out for WEWANTSOUNDS’ The Friends Of Eddie Coyle soundtrack release on the day too.


    Sigur Rós

    Route One

    (XL Recordings)

    Iceland’s post-rock immortals are overseeing four releases on Record Store Day, with Route One probably our pick of the bunch – capturing the best of the band’s 1332km drive around the island’s epic coastal path, created using generative music software and the stems of the Sigur Rós song ‘ovedur’. The other three include Liminal Remixes, featuring Paul Corley and Alex Somers remixing classic tracks, a new album from the latter, drawn from his experience scoring Captain Fantastic, Black Mirror and more, and a deleted EP from frontman Jónsi & Alex.


    Various Artists

    Studio One Dub Plate Special

    (Soul Jazz Records)

    Soul Jazz Records collects 10 rare and unreleased dub plates from legendary Jamaican label Studio One, for this special 7″ box set, featuring tracks by Alton Ellis, Cedric Brooks, Brentford All Stars and more. Look out for a brace of other box sets from the label also out on the day.


    Various Artists

    The American Dreamer OST

    (Light In The Attic)

    The soundtrack for a documentary about Dennis Hopper’s surreal film The Last Movie, reissued for the first time on red vinyl with an 18×24 film poster.


    Various Artists

    1+1=X

    (Erased Tapes)

    Taking the first decade in its stride, Erased Tapes releases a new compilation that’s crafted in the communal spirit of the label. Recording twenty exclusive songs in Berlin, expect input from big hitters like Nils Frahm, Rival Consoles, and Kiasmos. The 3LP set is housed in a bespoke white box with a photo book that documents the recording process.


    WVR BVBY

    WVR BVBY

    (Plug Seven)

    Straight out of Melbourne’s cracking contemporary jazz scene (Familiar to fans of Hiatus Kaiyote and Rhythm Section’s recent 30/70 LP), WVR BVBY’s self-titled debut blends more spiritual elements of the modern sound with hip-hop referencing in-the-pocket grooves.

  • Rare David Bowie records released for Record Store Day this year

    By | March 1, 2018

    Including a previously unreleased live set, US promo and a ‘Let’s Dance’ demo 12″.

    Parlophone is releasing three limited-edition David Bowie records this Record Store Day, 21st April 2018.

    Read more: An introduction to David Bowie in 10 records

    Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) 3xLP live set was recorded during Bowie’s ISOLAR II tour at Earls Court on the 30th June and 1st July 1978. This first ever vinyl release also features photographs by Sukita and Chris Walter.

    ‘Let’s Dance’ demo 12″ features the full-length demo of ‘Let’s Dance’ on the A-side, mixed by Nile Rogers and available on vinyl for the first time following a digital version which was released on Bowie’s birthday this year, 8th January 2018. The B-side includes a live version of ‘Let’s Dance’ recorded in 1983.

    Bowie Now is the first commercial release of the rare 1977 US-only promo album. The white LP package also includes a newly designed inner sleeve with Bowie photograph.

    Head here for more info, watch the music video for ‘Let’s Dance’ and check out the track lists below.

    Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) 3xLP

    LP 1

    Side A

    1. Warszawa
    2. “Heroes”
    3. What In The World

    Side B

    1. Be My Wife
    2. The Jean Genie
    3. Blackout
    4. Sense Of Doubt

    LP 2

    Side A

    1. Speed Of Life
    2. Sound And Vision
    3. Breaking Glass
    4. Fame
    5. Beauty And The Beast

    Side B

    1. Five Years
    2. Soul Love
    3. Star
    4. Hang On To Yourself
    5. Ziggy Stardust
    6. Suffragette City

    LP 3

    Side A

    1. Art Decade
    2. Alabama Song
    3. Station To Station

    Side B

    1. TVC 15
    2. Stay
    3. Rebel Rebel

    ‘Let’s Dance’ (full-length demo) 12″ single

    Side A

    Let’s Dance (full-length demo)

    Side B

    Let’s Dance lLive)

    Bowie Now LP

    Side A

    1. V-2 Schneider
    2. Always Crashing In The Same Car
    3. Sons Of The Silent Age
    4. Breaking Glass
    5. Neuköln

    Side B

    1. Speed Of Life
    2. Joe The Lion
    3. What In The World
    4. Blackout
    5. Weeping Wall
    6. The Secret Life Of Arabia

    (Photo c/o RCA Records.)

  • David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane reissued on silver vinyl for 45th anniversary

    By | February 15, 2018

    “Just in time for sunrise.”

    David Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane is being released on limited silver LP, to celebrate its 45th anniversary this year.

    Read more: 10 essential David Bowie Records

    The album will only be available for purchase in “bricks and mortar” retail stores on the 20th of April, the day before Record Store Day.

    Aladdin Sane‘s limited edition features the 2013 remastered version of the album.

    Bowie’s CHANGESTWOBOWIE compilation will also be reissued, for the first time since its 1980 release, on limited black and blue vinyl as well as standard black variants.

    Head here for more info, watch Bowie perform ‘Cracked Actor’ during his Aladdin Sane tour in 1974, and check out the tracklists below.

    Aladdin Sane

    Side One

    1. Watch That Man
    2. Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)
    3. Drive-In Saturday
    4. Panic In Detroit
    5. Cracked Actor

    Side Two

    1. Time
    2. The Prettiest Star
    3. Let’s Spend The Night Together
    4. The Jean Genie
    5. Lady Grinning Soul

    CHANGESTWOBOWIE

    Side A

    1. Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)
    2. Oh! You Pretty Things
    3. Starman
    4. 1984
    5. Ashes To Ashes (single version)

    Side B

    1. Sound And Vision
    2. Fashion (single version)
    3. Wild Is The Wind
    4. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again) 1975
    5. D.J. (single version)

  • On the sleeve: The album artwork behind some of fashion’s most important movements

    By | February 7, 2018

    Record sleeves have been home to some of the most radical and important fashion statements in popular culture. Here are 11 that captured the style and changed the game in the process.

    Musicians sometimes seek to distance themselves from fashion. If music is to be sincere and meaningful then fashion can be seen as a surface preoccupation. Fashion is perceived as hyper-transitory, and styles can quickly become passé. This goes hand-in-hand with its framing as frivolous and fickle; it doesn’t last.

    But it’s this temporality which makes it such an acute register of the contemporary. Fashion is constantly being refreshed, updated, overhauled; like a richter scale of changing tastes. At its best it’s a tool both for reading the present and for destabilising norms, just like music. Take punk, perhaps the purest synthesis of fashion and music, the clothes of Vivienne Westwood’s Sex shop are as inseparable from the movement as the Sex Pistols’ music. David Bowie, Prince, Grace Jones, Madonna, Björk, Solange all had, and have, great style.

    Sleeve artwork is one of the best encapsulations of this intersection, a space where artists can signify their visual identity. What follows is a look at the ways in which fashion has expressed the political, cultural and economic zeitgeist, through movements like Afrofuturism, Buffalo and UK Garage. In some cases the sleeves are a reflection of a broader aesthetic, while in others the artists have been instrumental in creating a new movement.


    David Bowie
    The Man Who Sold the World
    (Mercury, 1970)

    Listen / Buy

    Keith McMillan shot a languid Bowie in a Mr Fish ‘man dress’ for this banned version of the album cover. It perfectly captures Bowie’s psychedelic androgyny: the willingness to challenge gender conventions that made his – and later Prince’s – style so vital and original. The ’60s and ’70s were pivotal for men’s dressing, and the ‘Peacock Revolution’ brought a renewed awareness that men could partake in fashion, with a rise in decorative clothes and the founding of menswear courses. Mr Fish’s Mayfair shop was a must for this new generation of dandys – think loud suits, floral ties, frilled shirts and, of course, dresses.


    Betty Davis
    They Say I’m Different
    (Just Sunshine Records, 1974)

    Listen / Buy

    Space Age prophet Sun Ra, draped in a shimmering yellow overlay and crowned with a gold headdress, is the defining image of Afrofuturism. But the movement inspired a whole line of radical garments and interstellar styles – from the extraterrestrial mythoi of P-Funk and Black Panther comic strips, to the canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Janelle Monáe’s Metropolis-inspired alter-ego. This Betty Davis record sleeve, designed by Ron Levine and art directed by Bill Levy, is Afrofuturist fashion at its best – the fluffy platform boots, gold arm cuffs and red and silver spacesuit present a particularly ‘70s vision of the future.


    Yellow Magic Orchestra
    Naughty Boys
    (Alfa, 1978)

    Listen / Buy

    Yellow Magic Orchestra are well-known for their influence on joyous techno, hip-hop and R&B, and their explorations of exoticism and Japanese stereotypes. There’s been too little attention, though, on their immaculate and enduring aesthetic, and in particular on the style of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Masayoshi Sukita, a photographer best known for working with Bowie for over 40 years and taking the cover of Heroes, shot this cover. The clean pastel hues and touches of makeup are a clear visual influence on the New Romantics of the ‘80s.


    Grace Jones
    Nightclubbing
    (Island, 1981)

    Listen / Buy

    The Studio 54 aficionada who started her career as a model and acted as muse to Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, Andy Warhol and Jean Paul Goude (who shot this cover), Grace Jones only makes iconic record sleeves. She of course understood, like David Byrne and Laurie Anderson, the importance of a statement suit. The rigidly angular profile of this Armani mens suit, at a time when Armani was casting off shoulder pads and moving towards a softer silhouette, makes this more subtly interesting than just a woman in a man’s suit.


    N.W.A.
    Straight Outta Compton
    (Ruthless, 1988)

    Listen / Buy

    Gangsta rap has become one of hip-hop’s most explosive subgenres. But there’s an uneasy line between credibility and success; is it possible to remain hood while topping the charts? Fashion plays its part in creating and maintaining authenticity, as a scan of the record sleeves and clothing lines of different hip-hop outfits testifies (special mention for Wu Wear). N.W.A., the forefathers of the scene, distilled the reality of street life in south-central LA into this breakout album cover. It’s easy to see why the photo was provocative and controversial, but gun aside, it has an un-staged quality that can only really come from inexperience. Like the music, the snapbacks, football jackets and T-shirts on show here present the group at their rawest.


    Neneh Cherry
    Raw Like Sushi
    (Virgin, 1989)

    Listen / Buy

    A movement manufactured by stylist Ray Petri, Buffalo (as in ‘Buffalo Stance’) was a collective of musicians, artists and stylists including Judy Blame, Mark Lebon and Jean-Baptiste Mondino (who shot this cover). Its members had eclectic backgrounds; Cherry’s childhood was split between London, Sweden and New York, and Petri grew up in Scotland, then Australia, and travelled in India and Africa. This resulted in a style that was strikingly inventive, combining disparate cultural influences into what Petri called ‘non-fashion’. Buffalo dressing paired kilts, feathers, military wear, and elaborate jewellery with sports- and streetwear items like Dr Martens. It filtered down to the catwalks in the collections of Jean Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto.


    Sonic Youth
    Washing Machine
    (Geffen, 1995)

    Listen / Buy

    Taken by Kim Gordon, this cover photo of two fans wearing band merchandise at a Sonic Youth gig encapsulates the key elements of ’90s alternative fashion. Above all this was a DIY movement, with a tension between being anti-mainstream and anti-fashion, while simultaneously affiliating to a scene through clothing. Gordon’s X-girl clothing line, co-designed with stylist Daisy von Furth, held a special place in downtown New York, with its own store and guerrilla fashion shows. The clothes – slip dresses, mini-skirts and T-Shirts – sat somewhere between grunge, rave and preppy, and were worn by it-girls like Chloe Sevigny and Sofia Coppola.


    Ms. Dynamite
    Di-Na-Mi-Tee
    (Polydor, 2002)

    Listen / Buy

    The best incarnations of UK garage style existed off record covers and on the dance floor. The outfits in photographer Ewen Spencer’s book and documentary Brandy & Coke are ostentatious, slick, and brilliantly label-centric. Must-have items were loudly patterned Moschino trousers, Gucci loafers, and Versace anything, and jeans were banned at certain clubs. These priorities can be read in the sheer finish of this Ms. Dynamite cover – the nails, jewellery and sunglasses, it’s a look that’s the height of polished.


    Skinny Girl Diet
    Heavy Flow
    (Fiasco, 2016)

    Listen / Buy

    Skinny Girl Diet have been critical of the tendency to conflate female musicians’ music with their image. Eschewing mainstream fashion, they’ve appeared in zines and worked with young designers like Claire Barrow, establishing a stance very seperate to tokenistic commodity feminism. This cover, which the band produced themselves, riffs on pin-up imagery and classic tropes of female trios, like the ‘different versions of the same colour’ outfits that The Supremes, Destiny’s Child and Sugababes all wore so well.


    Frank Ocean
    Blond(e)
    (Boys Don’t Cry, 2016)

    Listen / Buy

    The record cover behind the recent profusion of bleached buzz cuts was originally intended to be used in the fashion magazine Fantastic Man. A photograph typical of Wolfgang Tillmans’ style, it has a lucidness that we tend to associate with fashion editorials, but an intimacy that’s rare in magazines. Tillmans made his name documenting the early ’90s for i-D and other style magazines, but has since drifted towards making more politically-minded work. His ambivalence towards the fashion world, combined with Ocean’s enigmatic approach make this a particularly exciting collaboration – and a two way collaboration at that: Tillmans’ track ‘Device Control’ was used on the prelude to Blond(e).


    Björk
    Utopia
    (One Little Indian, 2017)

    Listen / Buy

    With a history of working with names like Alexander McQueen, Nick Knight and Tim Walker, Björk has continually woven fashion into her practice. Her embrace of the new makes her a particularly fitting fashion collaborator, and her most recent album cover brings together young rising talents Jesse Kanda and James Merry. Kanda’s work with artists like FKA Twigs is increasingly shaping the current aesthetic, while James Merry’s embroidered sportswear is a further twist on the Vetements/Gosha Rubchinskiy-led trend for reimagined sportswear.

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