Friday, April 30, 2010

The Manic Street Preachers - Motorcycle Emptiness

Probably still their finest moment, this wonderful song was the one that convinced me that there was some substance beneath the hype. Still sounding amazing today. The chorus couplet of "Under neon loneliness/Motorcycle emptiness" is so brilliant isn't it. The whole lyric is brilliant though. It should have been number one everywhere for three months.

B side slow-burner "Bored Out Of My Mind" is great too. Also included are a couple of live tracks, "Under My Wheels" coming from a BBC session and a version of "Crucifix Kiss" recorded live at the (much missed) Astoria.

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The Durutti Colum - Lips That Would Kiss 7"

On “Lips That Would Kiss,” Reilly’s first single after "Return Of The Durutti Column", you can already hear him reaching for the kind of form he would perfect in the following years. Where some of "Return’s" compositions were a bit... stringy, here his melodies peer from a thicket of gorgeous, glinting chord constructs.

Meanwhile the quietly ticking drum machine patterns (presumably provided by producer, Martin (Zero) Hannet), perfectly complement this combination of liquid movement and harmonic sculpture. The b-side, “Madeleine,” covers similar territory.

Ripped from the original vinyl with full artwork.

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Bill Nelson - Do You Dream In Colour? 7"

From Bill Nelson's sleevenotes:

"The tracks on this record come from the Spring/Summer 1979 sessions that produced the as yet unreleased "Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam" album. Only Th 'A' side will be included on the album, the remaining tracks being unique to this single."

Do You Dream In Colour
Ideal Homes
Instantly Yours
Atom Man Lover Radium Girl

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bang Bang Machine

Peel favourites Bang Bang Machine were a bright star in the UK indie scene for fifteen minutes. Geek Love is easily found on the blogs out there, but the second EP, "Evil Circus" is much, much harder to find. Here's the Wikipedia article.

Great review from Head Heritage.

And here's the first two E.P.s ripped from CD at 320 Kbps.

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The Fixx - Stand Or Fall 7"

Marvellous new waver 7" from The Fixx.


Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sigur Ros - Sæglópur Japan Only Tour (EP)

Ladies and Gentlemen - another guest post from my friend Robjn.
This EP follows the album "Takk" and comprises of b-sides and extra tracks from the same sessions. To me, some of the songs on this EP (like Hafsól) remind me more of Krautrock more than Sigur Rós trademark 'epic crescendo' endings. This is obviously not a bad thing, as it seems to foster an atmosphere of peaceful delight, with some track variations you don't get, but often long for on their albums.

Ó friður

Only in 194 Kbps vbr, I'm afraid, but good stuff nonetheless.

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Any other submissions?

Propaganda - A Secret Wish

Jesus, this is sounding great.

Adapted from a Wikipedia article:

Propaganda were a Düsseldorf band, formed in 1982 by Ralf Dörper (a member of the German industrial band Die Krupps), part-time DJ Andreas Thein and singer Susanne Freytag. Shortly therefter they were joined by the classically trained musician and composer Michael Mertens and 19-year old vocalist Claudia Brücken. Paul Morley and Trevor Horn's newly-formed ZTT Records label signed them in 1994. The group relocated to the United Kingdom and released the single "Dr. Mabuse", named after the fictional character made famous by film maker Fritz Lang. The group appeared on various TV shows in the UK, including Channel 4's "The Tube", where as well as performing "Dr. Mabuse", they also gave one of their few performances of a cover version of Throbbing Gristle's song "Discipline". The band had included the song in their original demo and it was intended to be their first single, but Throbbing Gristle apparently objected.
The original band didn't last that long, which confirms my belief that ZTT were fucking horrible to work for. Apparently they had a TERRIBLE contract which meant that they would never make any money. Trevor Horn was busy with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, which meant that production duties for this record were handled by his chief engineer, Stephen Lipson.

I think he did a great job. This album hasn't really dated that much, although the Frankie stuff definitely has. There's also some fantastic tracks on here: "Duel", "P-Machinery" and "Dr. Mabuse" - not to mention the brilliant cover of Josef K's "Sorry For Laughing" (I wonder whose idea that was - the bands or Morley's?). Very clever choice of cover, as if there ever was a song which could benefit from a shiny pop makeover to polish the genius original, it was that one.

Ripped from the original vinyl, this is sounding amazing to me. There was also an accompanying remix record - "Wishful Thinking", which Horn had a hand in, which does sound very 80's, although still sounds undeniably great.

Ripped from the original 1985 vinyl at 320 Kbps.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

The Durutti Column - Domo Arigato Video: Fact144

Infamous video release of Domo Arigato, recorded live in Japan.

I've grabbed this off of YouTube, so the files are in MP4 format. Don't expect Hi-Fi, but fuck all that, this is amazing. Even the original Factory release was mono. Nevertheless, this is wonderful document of a wonderful band playing a wonderful gig in front of a highly respectful audience.

More about this release can be found at the ever brilliant CerysmaticFactory site, which is a must-visit for all of us Factory heads. I have a suspicion that this rip might have originated from that particular neck of the woods. Perhaps not, but massive respect to the original capper and uploader, whomsoever they may be. And even bigger respect to Vini and the boys for still rocking my world in the most sublime way, even after all these years.

Another rare Durutti Column single coming up very soon.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

The European - The Settler

Despite it's sheer brilliance, I'm not going to post this album here.

'In a Very Real Sense Now' is the debut album from The European on Stolen Recordings and is limited to 500 luxurious copies. The European is the solo project of London-based musician and electronic artist, Simon Break. Break was previously in Icebreaker, later Icebreaker International, which he formed in the late 1990s with American musician, Alexander Perls. Icebreaker / Icebreaker International recorded three albums on three different labels before disbanding in 2004, 'Distant Early Warning' (Aesthetics, 1999), 'Trein Maersk' (It records, 2000) and 'Into Forever' (Sound of a Handshake, 2003). The latter was a joint offering with Danish producer and musician with manual, while the first two albums Break has always claimed were commissioned by NATO. The European's music is at one level simplistic and melancholic, but at another Break's unusual use of instrumentation and software give it a lingering and mesmerising edge. he prefers to program his own computer materials and design his own instrumentation rather than follow more traditional or conventional paths for creating and making music.

-Rough Trade

I am loving this clever, twisted bedroom pop masterpiece so, so much. I urge you to go and buy a copy. There are only 500 vinyl albums and 100 CDs (I've bought both - so in love with it). This is a future collector's item, and no mistake. It is truly fantastic. I'm rating this as my album of the year so far. So now you know.

The European

Stolen Recordings

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dalis Car - The Judgement Is The Mirror 7"


"Dalis Car was a musical group formed in 1984 by Peter Murphy (vocalist), Mick Karn (bassist, keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist) and Paul Vincent Lawford (rhythm construction). The band was formed shortly after Murphy and Karn left their former bands (Bauhaus and Japan, respectively). They recorded one album, The Waking Hour, and released one single, "The Judgement is The Mirror." The cover of the album features a detail from Maxfield Parrish's seminal painting Daybreak.

The recording of the album took place in unusual circumstances, as neither Karn nor Murphy spent much time together in the recording studio, preferring to send tapes back and forth between each another, to work on alone.

The album, a collection of keyboard and bass-driven songs, was a commercial failure and the duo soon disbanded."

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

P.S. There doesn't seem to be an apostrophe in the band name, so I haven't used one either.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Malcolm McLaren - Madam Butterfly 7"

I'm not a massive fan of McLaren as a person, because I don't usually like exploitative, manipulative people. Anyone who ever worked with him doesn't have very nice things things to say about him as far as I can tell. Simon Reynolds' account of the whole Bow Wow Wow thing was the point of no return for me. But yet, despite all that, he has his name on some great records. I guess most of the winning strategy in this game is to choose your collaborators wisely. And he could do that alright.

This is my farewell. That's all.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Midge Ure & Mick Karn - After A Fashion 7"

This ridiculous single must have had a load of money thrown at it. The sleeve portrait is by Linda McCartney and the design is by Peter Saville. I think this was the only thing they did together and I don't remember it being such a huge hit. It's a lovely little thing though - utterly overblown and ridiculous, but somehow, massively cool.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Strawberry Switchblade - Let Her Go 7"

This brief bio from Discogs seems to tell the story rather nicely:

"From the ominous shadows of Goth suddenly appeared two young girls in polka-dot dresses, flaming red lipstick, and hair ribbons. Looking like the brides of Robert Smith, Strawberry Switchblade made a brief splash on the U.K. charts and then abruptly vanished in the mid '80s, leaving their fans with a handful of collectible singles and one LP of deceptively sweet-sounding dance pop. Rose McDowall would later appear on countless experimental and industrial releases by Psychic TV, Coil, Current 93 and Death in June, among others."

This rarely heard single isn't their best work, but the B side is taken from a Janice Long session track on Radio 1. How Eighties in THAT?!

I might have told this story before on here, but at an early Julian Cope solo gig in Lancaster, Strawberry Switchblade were supporting. I somehow managed to blag my way into the dressing rooms and suddenly, there they were, ironing their ribbons.

I fell a little bit in love, of course.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Associates - Those First Impressions 7"

Utterly wonderful 1984 Associates single produced by Martyn Ware of The Human League/Heaven 17/B.E.F.

This is from the Perhaps album which (I think I'm right in saying) was the first record Billy MacKenzie made following the departure of Alan Rankine.

B Side. "Thirteen Feelings" is from the album as well, but has a classic Associates feel about it.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Felt - Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow 12"

Released in July 1984 on Cherry Red, for me, this is the start of Felt's ascension to greatness. Brilliantly produced by John A. Rivers, who wisely stacks up the female bvox behind Lawrence's weedy voice, this is a real indie stormer. Meanwhile, Maurice Deebank works his trademark spidery guitar magic to massive effect.

01. Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow
02. Fortune
03. Sunlight Strings

Sunlight Strings is almost better than the title track and makes me feel like I want to use it as a soundtrack for something. Fortune is a re-record of the "Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty" track.

There's an imperfection on the vinyl on this copy which you can hear on both sides, but hopefully it won't spoil your enjoyment of this truly great record.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Vitalic - Second Lives 12"

Second Lives' is massive, anthemic stuff, compressing a ridiculous amount of fizzing synth circuitry into a superb electro-disco format. It's fairly telling that the remixes tend not to deviate to far from the original's melodic essence, and however big and brash it may seem, there's really no getting around how effective 'Second Lives' is.

The Mustang reinterpretation is probably the most successful remix of all, injecting a little Italo know-how into the production with subtle usage of live instrumentation. Lifelike's contribution involves a hyper-glossy, more modern approach, keeping the melody in check whilst dishing out zinging panoramic synths, while the Bloody Beetroots mix strives to sound even more inflated than the original, cranking everything up to breaking point and perhaps slightly beyond.

This is available as a DD, so I'm only keeping this up for the weekend. Awesome stuff.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Bill Nelson - Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam/Sounding The Ritual Echo

After Nelson broke up Be Bop Deluxe in 1978, following their extraordinary techno swan song "Drastic Plastic", he formed Red Noise, a New Wave five-piece that produced one album, "Sound on Sound," which would eventually function as the template for the first two or three XTC albums. "Quit Dreaming," which began life as the second Red Noise album, eventually transformed into Nelson's first full-blown post Be Bop Deluxe solo album, producing a couple of UK (very minor) hit singles ("Banal," "Do You Dream In Colour?") and climbing to number 7 on the British charts. The record sounds as current as it did 25 years ago. "Living in my Limousine" predates Flock of Seagulls (whom Nelson would later produce), "A Kind of Loving" taps into early 80s ska, "Youth of Nation on Fire" and "Life Runs out Like Sand" boast an exotic Asian air, and ""Banal" has the marks of a classic piece of postmodern new wave.

I like this album a lot better than the Red Noise outing, although it lacks the killer double whammy of "Furniture Music" and "Revolt Into Style".

As an album though, it's a much more solid affair, with a heap of great songs which reveal themselves over a couple of listens and still sound fantastically inventive today. I'm pretty much in awe of Bill Nelson and the bravery of his journey from glam guitar hero to post-kraut electronicshe frontman to new wave warrior to solo herky-jerky bedroom tunesmith to ambient pioneer. What a hero.

The initial copies of this album came with Bill's initial proto-clockwork-ambient experiments in the form of an additional album called "Sounding The Ritual Echo". It's wonderful stuff, which I have ripped as a single side one/side two, as it seemed wrong to divide these pieces up into the single tracks they have been listed as. I think that they are definitely best listened to as an entity. As vinyl intended.

Stay tuned for the follow up double album, which again was pioneering in setting the the template for a lot of early Eighties pop.

Vinyl rips at 320 Kbps.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Wreckless Eric - Whole Wide World 7"

The original Stiff Records 7" with full artwork.

If you ever manage to get hold of this, I would recommend that you do so. It's a fascinating insight, not only about the early days of Stiff, but also about growing up in Fifties/Sixties England. A fantastic book.

And who would not fall in love with this song having heard it just once? Ian Dury plays drums on the b side, and Eric goes into the whole story in the book.

This is another one I never get tired of.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Festive Fifty Number Ones: An Illustrated Memoir by Lee Thacker.

I'm so stoked that Lee has allowed me to pre-publish some extracts from his wonderful book. This is a must for everyone who visits here, surely? And Lee, I want mine autographed, please. You are amazing.

Over to Lee to explain the book:

I started drawing portraits of some of my favourite musical artists in January of this year and continued to do so until the end of February. Then I decided I wanted to make them into a book which is when the idea struck me for an Illustrated Festive Fifty. I sent emails out to as many bands as I could who'd been voted to the number one spot in the Festive Fifty, asking for quotes on their feelings about this coveted result or just on John Peel and the Festive Fifty in general. I even heard back from a few!

David Gedge (The Wedding Present/Cinerama) has agreed to write the introduction and there will be contributions from a number of artists who have appeared in John Peel's Festive 50 over the years, including Credit To The Nation, Jello Biafra, Cuban Boys, Neko Case and The Only Ones.

The book will have two sides (like a record!) - side A will be all about the Festive 50 Number Ones (from 1978-2004) drawing on my own personal recollections of the songs and how they've affected my life. The B side will focus on the all time Festive 50 from 2000, again including my personal memories of the songs and some analysis and information on each song. I'm keeping a blog on the progress of the book. The first part is now complete (50 pages) and I've just completed the writing for the second part (100 pages)

I have, ironically enough, fifty more pictures to draw. The plan is to release the book at the beginning of December or maybe on John Peel Day. The book will be paperback, 150+ pages, black and white with colour covers (in different coloured 'vinyl') and will be available from and should retail at around £10.

Thanks for your support!


The file contains not only the images featured here, but also a few PDFs of some pages from the book. Stamped with a huge Castles In Space seal of approval, this is testament not only to Lee's talent, but to the enduring power of music and the enduring legacy of Peel and alternative radio. This stuff changes lives.

Save BBC 6 Music.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vini Reilly - The Together Mix 12"

This wonderful record is credited to Vini Reilly rather than The Durutti Column but comes from one of my favourite periods in the Reilly catalogue. Fac 284.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Durutti Column - Tomorrow 7"

Rare 1985 Factory Benelux seven feturing two versions of the classic Durutti track "Tomorrow". The B side is a live take recorded in Japan.

More rare Durutti incoming...

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Bjork - Breezeblock

For the first time ever on Castles in Space, I present to you a guest post. Robjn is a musician and artist who runs a netlabel, Fruit Tree Records and can be contacted via Twitter.
On April 1st 1998 Bjork entertained the BBC Radio 1 audience with a mixset for The Breezeblock. For me, this DJ set is very interesting for the reason that you can see the ideas forming for her albums "Homogenic" and "Vespertine" as she takes inspiration from these other artists. I think it's fair to say that she is undoubtedly a genius but in many ways she uses the same formula as that for which Madonna is hated - she seeks out a producer with a desired 'sound' and works with them to get that sound, then moves on to the next big thing.

This is where I feel mean, I feel like I am pulling apart a work of art. Naturally (in her defence) if you can afford a producer with the sound you desire, you should be allowed to do that rather than knocking it off yourself; but as you will hear, she has subsequently "borrowed" a few ideas that appear in this mixset.

The first example is – 'Oval – Shop In Store', it's nothing more than the intro to 'Hidden Place', you would have to be insane not to hear it in there (though Marcus Pop of Oval gets no credit on the album as I'm sure it was only an inspiration). Cocoon features beats as in Sähko – Track 7. Matmos were the last moment producers of Vespentine so they too affected the album. As already stated, this is a better move than mimicry. Why not go for authenticity? It takes the ideas of micro-beats used on Homogenic and gives it to the masters of sampling this laptop music leaving them to make one of the best albums of modern times in my opinion (if only for the song Unison).

Also featured are Black Dog who remixed tracks from "Début" with such perfection and Aphex Twin who under the name DJ Smojphace opened for Bjork at her Hammersmith Apollo show, and was 'booed' off for playing non stop feedback / needle-on-the-record-player-with-no-record-on-it style music.

Needless to say of my opinions on the motivations of Bjork this is a very good mixset. It's obviously heartfelt and you would be hard pressed to hear something of similar adventurousness on BBC Radio 1 these days. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Nico - Le Petit Chevalier
Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
Nico – My Only Child
Black Dog – Chesh
Aphex Twin – Afx 6/B
Amar - Tu Hai Mera Sanam / I Will Always Love You
Oval – Shop In Store
Matmos - Three Guitar Lessons
Meredith Monk – Gotham Lullaby
Adham Shaikh – Tail
Aphex Twin – Alberto Balsalm
Oval – Do While
Track 7 – Sähko
Michael Jackson – We're Almost There
Aphex Twin – Afx 6/B
Space Age Pop – Track 11
Aphex Twin – Logan Rock Witch
Arvo Pärt – Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
Public Enemy – Don't Believe the Hype

192 Kbps.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

John Cooper Clarke - Innocents E.P.

This fantastic single was released on Rabid Records in 1977. Wonderfully produced by Martin "Zero" Hannett in typically brilliant fashion, this is one of the best JCC records that there ever was.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kbps.

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Doves - Jetstream; Lindstrøm and The Time And Space Machine Mixes 12"

Hello? Is that GOD on the line? Oh, hi, Babe. Listen, I know you do miracles and shit, but hey, why not really push the boat out. Let's go nuts! How about we get a remix 12" organised which has Lindstøm on one side and The Time And Space Machine on the other? I know! It's a brilliant idea isn't it. You don't even have to give me any credit. You will? Dude, you rock! Now how about turning some of this water into wine. It is Easter after all. Laters.

Vinyl rip at 320 Kpbs.

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