Section 25 : Knew Noise *
Section 25 : Untitled *
Section 25 : Charnel Ground *
Section 25 : Dirty Disco *
Section 25 : Untitled *
Section 25 : Girls Don't Count *
Section 25 : Knew Noise **
Section 25 : Untitled **
Section 25 : Friendly Fires **
Section 25 : Girls Don't Count **
Section 25 : Dirty Disco **
Section 25 : Charnel Ground **
Section 25 : New Horizon **
Section 25 : Haunted **
This, the first LTM audio release, was neither a proper compilation nor a dedicated Section 25 release. Kunstgerecht were an Edinburgh band which featured Ewan Burke, who had helped out on some issues of CSBT, and later cut a bizarre concept album for Third Mind as Harry Fabvre. Der Broederrn Grimm was simply me fooling about with a drum machine and a flanger, although at least one lunatic in Sweden claimed it to be the best thing he had ever heard...
The tape came in two versions, with alternate covers and a different Section 25 gig on the second side. The first edition (*) comprised The Lyceum from June 15 1980, and the second (**) Rotterdam Hal 4 on October 30 1980. Each copy (about 50 in total) of New Horizons was copied on domestic duplicating equipment, and sold via mail order and through the Rough Trade shop in Talbot Road, London. As far as I know this somewhat confused project was never reviewed.
3 Minutes From the Frontline
From the Cradle to the Grave
Drug User/Drug Pusher
Rain Without Clouds
The Blue and Yellow of the Yacht Club had previously been duplicated and sold by Crispy Ambulance themselves at gigs and by mail order. I first contacted Alan Hempsall early in 1983 for a piece in CSBT fanzine, and from him learned that a substantial amount of Crispy Ambulance material remained unreleased following the split in November 1982. I then offered to make Blue and Yellow available again on LTM, together with a second C60 compilation of later material, Open Gates of Fire.
Blue and Yellow comprises demos, out-takes, interview and live material recorded between 1978 and 1981. Released by LTM with the C60 compilation in November 1983, the pair gained a glowing five star review from Dave McCullough in Sounds (26.11.83), who praised their 'authoritative' nature. Like New Horizons, all were copied on domestic duplicating equipment, and sold via mail order and the Rough Trade shop.
Green Light/White Shirt (aka Deaf)
The Plateau Phase
Nightfall Ends the Ceasefire
Open, Gates of Fire was compiled by Alan Hempsall and comprised material recorded live in England and Europe in 1981 and 1982, together with two rehearsal tracks. The tape contained roughly two-thirds unheard material, the velocity and sheer violence of which -on Brutal and The Plateau Phase in particular- came as no small surprise to those more familiar with the group's more restrained studio output.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was a strangely straight cover of United, Throbbing Gristle's paean to transcontinental postal correspondence recorded at The Circus, Soho in December 1981. Open Gates of Fire was released together with Blue and Yellow, the pair seldom being split. For general comments see Blue and Yellow above. Many of these tracks would later re-appear on Fin.
I elected to kick-start LTM as a proper record label with two singles, one by a name band (Minny Pops) and one unknown (A Primary Industry). I had written about Minny Pops in CSBT, and greatly admired their Factory Benelux album Sparks in a Dark Room. A mordant out-take, Een Kus ('a kiss') had previously appeared as a Factory Benelux flexi disc (FACBN 13) issued free with Dutch magazine Vinyl in November 1981. The splenetic Son was taken from a Plurex compilation.
I thought their value to collectors would assist sales, and for this reason decided not to use a superb demo version of Time in place of Son.
Wally van Middendorp was happy to sanction a third UK single following their earlier Factory releases, and 1000 copies were released in April 1984. The sleeve calligraphy was supplied by Klive Humberstone of In the Nursery.
Of the major rock weeklies only Sounds ran a review, praising an 'inventive, churning record from the band whose name reminds me of a paedophilia magazine'. This touched (sort of) on a raw nerve, since Channel 4 television had previously broadcast a show called Mini Pops, on which small children dressed as adult stars and performed occasionally inappropriate material. An album also appeared, and although I doubt that anyone confused Een Kus with the telly-tots it did little for our credibility.
Despite this hiccup the single eventually sold out, although not before initial distributor Fast Product ceased trading. Oddly I did not actually meet Wally until three years later, after I had relocated to Brussels.
I like to think that the essence of the project was accurately summed up by the following review from Abstract magazine: 'The Minny Pops were never widely received, but were appreciated to the extent that someone troubled to search out and release these two tracks. It's good to know that there are still people that do things purely for the love of music.'
The first and last time LTM invested time and money in a new and unsigned artist. I first read about API in Blam! fanzine (Issue 7), and was favourably impressed by a live set taped in Colchester supporting (of all people) the Meteors. At this stage the band were very much 'junior ACR' and even covered Shack Up in their set, together with My Spine is the Bassline. I was also impressed by the fact that the eldest members were then about the same age as me (18), and also hailed from north-east Essex.
API financed the recording themselves, which took place at F2 studio in London in April 1983. They also devised the sleeve, and approached noted photographer Nick Knight (The Face, iD etc) for permission to use the 'chained torso' image. The sleeves were designed and printed for free by a firm owned by the father of bassist Paul Hammond's then-girlfriend. Although it was stated that the songs were published by Aural Assault, there was no connection with Crispy Ambulance at all.
It had been intended to have a live track on the b-side, an instrumental titled Scorch recorded at the Meteors gig. However the band subsequently decided that it sounded a little too Pigbag and opted instead for a (per)version of At Gunpoint. I still regret giving in on this, but had little choice in view of the fact that the project was very much a co-production.
1000 copies were pressed, and although sales were initially slow the single quickly opened doors for the band. NME journalist Neil Taylor began to champion API's own particular brand of 'industrial funk', and after Abstract magazine included Perversion on their Life at the Top compilation (a co- production with Third Mind), the band signed to Sweatbox. I felt vindicated. Two albums and six years later API mutated into Ultramarine, who recorded for Crepuscule and Blanco y Negro, and found considerable success. Paul Hammond remains a great friend, and in its infancy provided LTM with much invaluable assistance, as well as a London base.
March in Turin
Two of a Kind
I first became aware of The Happy Family by virtue of the Edinburgh/Josef K connection, and between 1984 and 1987 became something of a Nick Currie acolyte as he developed the persona of Momus.
This Business of Living gathered together their original pre-4AD demo (tracks 8-10) and seven demos for the 4AD album The Man on Your Street. The tape was packaged in a plastic wallet with a 16 page booklet, which assembled various band interviews and press cuttings together with excerpts from Nick Currie's diaries. It made for a very entertaining whole, although like the records on 4AD it failed to sell. In fact I doubt the cassette shifted more than 50 copies, again all via mail order and the Rough Trade shop in London.
A day late and a dollar short, the NME printed an enthusiastic review by Jim Shelley (3.11.84), who praised an 'alluring glance back at the brief, underplayed, almost unnoticed history' of the group packaged by LTM 'with the essentials of style'.
Although Ivo Watts-Russell at 4AD kindly sanctioned the release of This Business of Living, I think he suspected the project had been rather more successful than it actually was, and that royalties were due. Nevertheless, he did allow March in Turin to be included on the Heures Sans Soleil compilation album the following year. A very nice man.
Both were cassette-only projects contemplated at the close of 1984, and in a fit of enthusiasm even announced in The Catalogue. Neither appeared, largely because following the singles by Minny Pops and API I decided to concentrate on records instead.
Nightfall Ends the Ceasefire
At the Sounding of the Klaxon
I Talking/You Talking
In 1985 I decided to release the core of the cassette-only collection Open Gates of Fire as a bona fide live album, Fin. It was the first long player released by LTM, and at the time seemed quite a considerable financial risk, despite the fact that the master tape cost just £ 55 to prepare.
Again drawing principally on material recorded by Jon Hurst during the winter of 1981/82, Fin reflected the fact that from late 1981 through 1982 the vision and creativity of Crispy Ambulance had advanced with astonishing speed, and one which often dwarfed previous studio recordings. Had the band set down a second album in 1982 it might now stand as a classic. As it was, this collection of rough live takes served as a worthy substitute.
Factory made it quite clear that they did not want to be associated with the record. Having moved on from Sounds, Dave McCullough was unable to provide another five star review. The same paper did however print Fin's solitary notice, courtesy of electronica specialist David Elliot:
Here's a posthumous live assault containing ten twisted tunes from the winter of 81/82... Sound quality isn't exactly marvellous but in this case that's largely irrelevant. What does come across is a powerful, doomy sound which is remembered with some affection by this reviewer.
900 copies were released in July 1985, and sold out within a year. Although Alan
Hempsall had compiled Open Gates of Fire personally, I sequenced
Fin and included several 'hits' such as Deaf and Bardo
Plane. Alan wanted to include far stranger unheard material, such as
Frozen Blood (The Venue, 6.5.82), which I thought too weird for the
market in 1985. On balance we were probably both right. And Fin remains
most likely my favourite release on LTM.
In April 1990 the set was reissued on compact disc, with a new catalogue number (LTM 2302), sleevenotes, and a host of extra tracks. As well as two extra live cuts, the running order was extended to include both sides of the debut single on Aural Assault, and the flipside of FBN 18. This time around the set earned good press.
The working title was, incidently, Unhinged. Fin (being French for 'end') was borrowed by LTM from the posthumous 12" of the same name by 4AD band In Camera. El Records subsequently borrowed the title from LTM for their posthumous live album by the Monochrome Set, released in 1986.
Dislocation Dance : St Michelle
The Happy Family : March in Turin
Section 25 : Hold Me
Crispy Ambulance : Rain Without Clouds
A Primary Industry : From This Prospect
To launch a record label with a compilation album is hardly an original idea, and Heures Sans Soleil ('hours without sun') was hardly an original record. But it was nonetheless a very good one.
The direct inspiration came from a compilation titled Hours, released in 1984 on Dutch label Plurex. Since Plurex was run by Minny Pops mainstay Wally van Middendorp, I was able to licence three tracks from Hours (Section 25, Eric Random, Dislocation Dance) with relative ease. The Tuxedomoon track had already appeared on a Touch cassette (Feature Mist), and was an outtake from their 1982 album Suite en Sous-Sol. Although billed on the sleeve as Clock DVA, The Discussion was in fact a composition by The Anti Group. Adi Newton had also supplied me with two unfinished Clock DVA instrumentals recorded for Polydor (Transition and The Final Cycle in Motion), but Rough Trade (who manufactured the album under a pressing and distribution deal) declined to become involved in any licensing arrangement with a major label.
The Little Candle End, a charming piece of Polish folk music, was lifted from an ancient 10" recorded purchased from a charity shop. Minny Pops and A Primary Industry chose to record their contributions exclusively for HSS. The Happy Family track was a 4AD demo taken from This Business of Living, and was chosen to complement the album's international flavour.
HSS took ten months to compile and was released in October 1985 as (per the press release) 'a cultural collision of styles, loosely unified by an emphasis on soundtrack/environmental/quiet music'. The album was categorically ignored by the press, and in selling just 1000 copies made a loss. Passing myself off as a French label hardly helped.
Ah Pook Is Here (Excerpt)
Towers Open Fire
The Doctor Is On the Market was easily the most successful project released by LTM between 1983 and 1989, and represented a considerable coup. I had been introduced to Burroughs' writing by Paul Hammond of API, and quickly became aware that his live readings were often highly comedic, and added a whole new dimension to his written works.
After buying a particularly good bootleg cassette from Compendium Books in London, I wrote to WS Burroughs Communications in Lawrence, Kansas, to suggest an album release. To my great surprise manager/editor James Grauerholz was interested, and a deal was struck in return for a sensible advance. The provisional running order was based on the bootleg tape, and the masters sent across the Atlantic to Edinburgh included selections from Junkie, Naked Lunch, Exterminator!, Wild Boys, Nova Express and (best of all) Cities of the Red Night. Quite simply, I had scored a lucky break.
The Doctor Is On the Market was released in October 1986, housed in a smart reverse-board sleeve. The Final Academy events had taken place as recently as 1982, and interest in Burroughs was probably at an all-time high. The album sold well, even reaching No. 17 in the Melody Maker indie chart for a single week, and was the first LTM release to warrant a second pressing. It was also the first to attract significant press coverage and good reviews, for example:
'The image that Burroughs projects of the dry and cackling sick joker dancing across the dysfunctions of modernity is powerful and compelling... Far from being past, William S Burroughs' time has only just arrived, and this is the nearest to a definitive collection that a single album can get... A golden tape recorder, then, to the hairless young men of Les Temps Modernes.' (Don Watson, NME)
'Burroughs' words approximate the language that you and I know as English, but remove spaces between words, scatter punctuation randomly from a passing train and deliver the whole in a lugubrious drawl. With this delivery, who cares if 90 per cent of what he has to say is hokum?' (Paul Mathur, Melody Maker)
'This stuff deserves to be heard. Of course, the subjects are controversial: bigotry, fascism, junk, homosexuality... but the laconic, drowsily modulated pace of Burroughs' delivery to a live audience is spellbinding. And the humour is the essence of the woven spell.' (Paul Hullah, The Cut)
Curiously, about 50 copies were mis-pressed with side one of Fin by
Crispy Ambulance in place of side one of The Doctor, due to the
similarity of the matrix numbers. About 25 escaped from the Rough Trade
warehouse before the error was spotted, although only one complaint was received
-from Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth(!), who bought his copy in New York City and
was surprised to find some 'Throbbing Gristle' included.
In January 1988 the album was re-issued on Interior Music (a division of Crepuscule) as IM003 after I began working for the label. A new distributor and sleeve revived interest in the set, with the result that The Doctor eventually sold a total of around 3000 copies worldwide. Sadly this greatly upset poet John Giorno, after it was discovered that the original bootleg tape on which The Doctor was based was in fact a collection of tracks pirated from official releases on Giorno Poetry Systems. As a result the LTM/IM set was deleted late in 1988, and for this reason has never been reissued on CD. A great shame indeed.
Still, I eventually got to meet Wild Bill Burroughs in Amsterdam in May 1988, where he was promoting an exhibition of his shotgun-blasted oil paintings. On being presented with a copy of The Doctor (I suspect for the first time), Burroughs signed the project off as 'good work' and was in all respects a perfect gentleman.
WS Burroughs : Abandoned Artifacts
WS Burroughs : On the Nova Lark
The Monochrome Set : Holidays (live)
Jacques Derrida : God and Suffering
Jacques Derrida : Deconstruction and Necessity
Jacques Derrida : Post Marxism and Late Capitalism
Jacques Derrida : Rationality and Irrationality
Jacques Derrida : The Shock of My New
Minutes was intended as a modern literary and 'intellectual' review combining spoken word and music, and owed a heavy debt to early Crepuscule collections such as From Brussels With Love and Fruit of the Original Sin. At the time I think I fancied that I was bringing high culture to the masses. Today I struggle to find any rationale to the project at all...
Both Richard Jobson poems were taped live in Holland with Steven Brown of Tuxedomoon guesting on piano, and in fact the musical accompaniment to Anonymous is a Tuxedomoon piece, Lowlands Tone Poem. Jobson also provided a tape of the two Jean Cocteau poems, recorded with the Dan Parrish Jazz Orchestra in 1929, which had in turn come from Bill Nelson. The Winston Tong track was culled from Like The Others (then a limited Crepuscule cassette-only release long deleted), which combined skewed versions of Euro ballad Going Out of My Head with (apparently) the Yardbird's For Your Love. A cross-channel trip to collect the mastertape at the end of 1986 marked my second visit to Brussels, and my first encounter with Michel Duval of Crepuscule. A lesser influence was the el label, whose Mike Alway proved a constant source of help, inspiration and amusement. The Louis Philippe track had already appeared as an el single, and served to add to the European flavour of the project, whereas Bid of the Monochrome Set offered a choice of three spare tracks. For some inexplicable reason I passed on a live take of The Lighter Side of Dating and an unheard demo track (Something About You) in favour of a distinctly ropey accapella track, written (if you please) by their sound engineer. Since neither Philippe nor the Set were writers I can only assume that they must have been intellectuals.
The treated Burroughs tracks had previously appeared on a Fresh Sounds flexi issued with a US magazine called Talk Talk, while the Jacques Derrida section was little more than a conceptual joke. In July 1986 the seminal modern philosopher and deconstructionist had appeared at a seminar at Glasgow Strathclyde University, the organisers of which had made a tape of an English language Q&A session. Having seen Ken McMullen's impenetrable film Ghostdance I guessed correctly that Derrida would consent to a fragment appearing on vinyl, and edited down an exchange in which an Australian academic become increasingly lost in the corridors. Derrida had no idea why I should want to include him on record, and in truth neither did I.
The sleeve was the first commissioned by LTM from a professional designer, namely Thomi Wroblewski. Thomi had a studio in Soho above John Calder Publishers, and was then working steadily both for Calder and for el. According to my diary, February 23rd 1987 saw me 'round to Thomi's studio in Brewer Street to finalise sleeve designs, me rejecting his favourites in favour of one he considered "far too obvious"'.
Disaster struck on release in April 1987. Although 1000 copies had been ordered from the pressing plant, just 500 were delivered to Rough Trade Distribution. This passed unnoticed until the first run had sold out, with the result that by the time the error was corrected (and the album re-pressed) the initial momentum had been lost.
Although Minutes failed to sell out, the presence of Derrida and Burroughs sparked considerable press interest. The NME puzzled over a 'bizarre compilation of contemporary and archive material', the overall conception of which was 'difficult to decipher', while Underground praised 'a strange collection gathered round a teetering coffee table to impress the intelligentsia' and Blitz 'one huge plane-crash of a record'. For once the reviews had been fair.
Minutes proved to be the last release on LTM for more than two years, since in June 1987 I moved to Brussels, and began working for Crepuscule two months later. Futurism and Dada Reviewed, on which I had been working for some time, was eventually licenced to Sub Rosa. Nevertheless, in 1988 the album was revamped and re-issued as Minutes to Go! on Interior Music, becoming more of a hommage to William Burroughs. Louis Philippe, Jobson and the Monochrome Set vanished, to be replaced by Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon and The Anti Group. A CD version was licenced to German label Interphon, together with the Hommage a Duras set.
James Nice, June 1997.