Apollo 440‘s Liquid Cool may be a slightly unusual concept for a piece of music (some versions use the subtitle “Theme for Cryogenic Suspension”), but there’s something rather uplifting about the epic track, with its enormous choral backing and reverberating guitar solos.
I chose to start this Vinyl Moment with Side B of the 1993 Rumble EP, which also sounds particularly fantastic on vinyl. Disappointingly though, this version of Liquid Cool only clocks in at ten and a half minutes, rather than the album’s twelve, so I flipped the disc over for the non-album Hydraglide, a tribal piece which plods on sedately for six minutes or so.
If vinyl has become something for the hipster generation, then listening to a 1990s dance band from before they were famous is probably a slightly unusual way to express oneself. Fortunately, even a relatively dull track like Hydraglide sounds amazing. Why did we ever switch to CDs in the first place?
From the beautiful 12″ picture disc of Astral America, I chose the first track, Spirit of America. Watching a foot-sized round American flag spinning round on your record player is particularly satisfying, and actually the sound quality isn’t nearly as bad as I remember it being (like many picture discs, I’m fairly sure this one does suffer a bit in places, but apparently not on Side A).
If I were choosing my vinyl collection right now, Apollo 440‘s second album Electro Glide in Blue probably would be one of my choices, but as it turns out I just have the three singles – the original Rumble EP, the promo for Astral America, and a regular release of Krupa from the second album. So, as the needle makes its way towards the centre of the flag, the next track has to be Krupa, and with a large selection of unmemorable remixes to pick from, I decided to go for the original version.
That was the intention, anyway – it didn’t sound much like the original, so I flipped it over to the other side, thinking I’d picked the wrong side, and found myself listening to the edited Alcatraz within the Joint vs. @440 version that kicks off Side B, remixed by Alcatraz. This version takes the bouncy original, and makes it a bit more dance-orientated, and actually turns out rather well after all, although the fade at the end is a bit unexpected.
But there’s one release left over, in fact from last week’s Vinyl Moment which was dedicated to Jean-Michel Jarre. In 1998, he collaborated with Apollo 440 on a new version of his 1986 single Fourth Rendez-Vous. Now titled Rendez-Vous 98, it became an enormous, contemporary dance version, and actually did a lot better on the charts than the original.
Sadly, Rendez-Vous 98 didn’t see an official 12″ release in the UK, but somehow I seem to have ended up with the single-sided promo version, which just features Apollo 440‘s main remix as featured on the Odyssey Through O2 remix album. It’s a shame that none of the bonus tracks made it onto here, but it’s an exceptional piece of dance music nonetheless, and a great way to conclude this Vinyl Moment.
By the late 1990s, vinyl was close to hitting its nadir, but for dance music it was still the format of choice, and as far as I can see from these four singles, it served Apollo 440 well. In the next Vinyl Moment, we’ll cross into another decade, and take a spin through an assortment of Röyksopp singles.