Artist of the Week – William Orbit

Time now for another of our archive Artist of the Week features, dating back to early 2005. Some of these do contain errors, and probably contain some plagiarism too. Apologies in advance…

This week’s Artist of the Week was born William Wainwright, and would ultimately go on to become one of the most important musicians in the world of electronic ambient and dance music.

He began his musical career in the early 1980s in the new wave group Torch Song, and while recording with the band started to learn studio techniques, and by the end of the eighties was making a name for himself by remixing and producing the likes of Kraftwerk, The Human League, Erasure, and Madonna.

His first solo album Orbit was released in 1987, but it was with the Strange Cargo project that he started to make a name for himself. The first part of the four-album epic also came out in 1987, and was followed by parts two and three at three-year intervals. It was with these that he kick-started the career of folk singer Beth Orton, who first featured on 1993’s minor hit single Water from a Vine Leaf. The fourth album in the set, Strange Cargo Hinterland, followed in 1995, and features some of his best material to date.

It was at this time he first recorded his legendary Pieces in a Modern Style album, featuring inventive new interpretations of classical pieces, but it initially attracted very strong protests from some of the composers involved, so he re-entered the world of production, apparently never to be seen again.

However, it was with his production work that he truly made a name for himself, being responsible for some of All Saints‘ later material, as well as Ray of Light, one of Madonna‘s best albums to date, and also Blur‘s acclaimed album 13. On the back of this, he returned to the studio to re-record Pieces in a Modern Style, which swiftly made its name as a modern classic thanks to remixes by Ferry Corsten and ATB.

As rumours of a new album continue, he continues to work with the likes of Pink and Eagle-Eye Cherry on production work, and we await his return with baited breath.

Greatest Hits – Vol. 9

Every so often when things are quiet, I like to take a bit of a breather and highlight some of the reviews you might have missed in recent times. Here’s another selection:

  • The Avalanches – Since I Left You
  • Camouflage – Spice Crackers
  • Enigma – MCMXC a.D.
  • Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain
  • Gotan Project – Lunático
  • Kraftwerk – Autobahn
  • Pet Shop Boys – Please
  • Sparks – Hello Young Lovers
  • Yello – Baby
  • Various Artists – Metropolis

Read and enjoy!

Artist of the Week – Kraftwerk

I always find myself apologising for the hyperbole in these archive pieces, and honestly there are plenty this week too, but it’s not undeserved. Unusually, due to their lack of new releases, except for the last line, this one is still current too!

Kraftwerk are one of the most influential and important bands that have ever existed, without a doubt. Although they never made any particular impact on the charts, with the exception of The Model, they have come to be renowned for inventing practically every form of electronic music in existence, and they are now guaranteed sell-out tours and sizable hits the world over.

It all began way back in the late 1960s when Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben, then music students in Düsseldorf, joined with two others to form The Organisation. The debut album Tone Float was released in Germany in 1969.

Following this, Ralf and Florian went off to form Kraftwerk, which translates into English as “power station”. The first three albums, now known as Kraftwerk 12, and Ralf and Florian are little known but have come to be widely referenced in the field of experimental music, being commonly cited as influences by the likes of David Bowie and Orbital.

Their fourth album as Kraftwerk introduced two new members: Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür, and became a worldwide hit and instant classic. 1975’s Autobahn has been universally praised as one of the most important albums ever recorded.

Over the next ten years, they would go on to record classic after classic, with Radio-Activity in 1976, Trans-Europe Express in 1977, the classic The Man-Machine in 1978, and Computer World  in 1981. It was at the start of the 1980s that they reached their chart pinnacle with The Model hitting number one in the UK.

In 1983, they recorded the cycling anthem Tour de France, but it was shortly after this that Hütter suffered a serious cycling accident, putting the recording of their next album way behind schedule. Eventually released in 1986, Electric Café just about scraped into the bottom end of the UK Charts.

In 1991, they returned, remixing many of their classic albums for the fantastic The Mix, and then they spend most of the 1990s locked away in their studio, occasionally resurfacing with rumours of reissues or a new album, and towards the end of the 1990s, a couple of tours as well.

Eventually, they reappeared last year [2003] with Tour de France Soundtracks. Widely criticised for being “more of the same”, it still managed a respectable UK chart placing, and is a good album nonetheless.

Finally, rumours still abound of a series of reissues of the original albums. Promos are now available, but there is still no news when they will appear in the shops.

Vinyl Moments – Electronic

Following last week’s session listening to vinyl from New Order, an obvious next step was to move onto Bernard Sumner‘s side-step with Johnny Marr, Electronic.

IMG_1468Electronic burst into most people’s consciousness in 1989, with the magnificent one-off single Getting Away with It, a collaboration with Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. Inexplicably (inexcusably) omitted from their debut album on its initial release in the UK, it made it on to the US version, and subsequently the later UK releases too. I chose to listen to the 7″ version, from the sleeveless single which I remember finding in a record shop in Surfers Paradise in Australia some time around 1996.

Side B on both the 7″ and the 12″, which I found somewhere else a lot later, is the pleasant instrumental Lucky Bag. While this may have never changed the world, it definitely has its place in history – if nothing else, as the b-side to Getting Away with It.

Following a couple of years later was Get the Message, noticeably better mastered on its 7″ single. It’s also an even better single than the first – somehow Marr’s guitar work and the electronic backing come together perfectly, and Sumner is on fine form here.

The second side of this disc brings another lovely instrumental. This one, Free Will is short and sweet, and also considerably better than Lucky Bag. Somewhat unusually, this is a particularly great 7″ single.

The third release from the album was the more subdued Feel Every Beat, the back cover of which was included on the image above (I think that’s the back cover, anyway – it’s a little difficult to tell). Side A of the 12″ single features Danny Rampling‘s 12″ mix, but that’s been released elsewhere so I jumped straight to the exclusive dub mix.

Having initially picked the wrong speed to play it at (I guessed 33rpm), I discovered that  Rampling had had a lot of fun mixing in elements from Kraftwerk‘s then-recent album The Mix. As with any good dub version – and there are plenty of bad examples – this takes interesting elements from the original and 12″ mix, and draws them off in some interesting and unusual directions. Electronic never included a lot of remixes on their UK singles, and this one is a particular treat.

There’s just one bonus track on the 12″, Lean to the Inside. I remember not being too impressed by this when I first heard it, but actually it’s pretty good. Another instrumental, not entirely dissimilar to Soviet on the album, it bobs along pleasantly with its pizzicato lead for four minutes or so before this particular journey comes to an end.

Of course, the next single, Disappointed, which sadly I don’t have on vinyl, saw Electronic collaborate again with Pet Shop Boys, which gives us a good link to next week’s vinyl moment, when we’ll be exploring their early days.

Greatest Hits – Vol. 7

As we worm our way gently into 2016, it’s time to highlight a few reviews from this blog that you might well have missed.

See also, Volume 6, Volume 5, and you can probably find the rest for yourself with a quick search…

Music for the Masses 39 – 7 May 2005

For the final run of Music for the Masses, from April to May 2005, I had secured the coveted Saturday night slot, building people up to a stomping night out in Leeds. Or alternatively helping them to revise for their exams. Or potentially neither; it was rather difficult to tell. But looking through the playlist, I can see a slightly more uptempo seam running through the show, culminating with the Electromix at the end of the show.

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Show 39: Sat 7 May 2005, from 6:00pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: The Shamen.

  • Morcheeba – World Looking In
  • Erasure – Here I Go Impossible Again
  • 1 Giant Leap feat. Robbie Williams & Maxi Jazz – My Culture
  • Mylo – In My Arms (Sharam Jey Remix)
  • The Shamen – Comin’ On (Beatmasters Mix)
  • Sylver – Make It
  • Aurora – Ordinary World
  • BT – Orbitus Terrarium
  • Kraftwerk – Aérodynamik
  • The Shamen – MK2A
  • Depeche Mode – Freelove (Live) [The Live Bit]
  • Stereo MCs – Connected
  • Technique – Sun is Shining
  • Felix – Don’t You Want Me
  • Yello feat. Stina Nordenstam – To the Sea
  • New Order – Jetstream (Arthur Baker Remix)
  • The Shamen – Indica
  • Binar – The Truth Sets Us Free
  • Talk Talk – Talk Talk
  • Mirwais feat. Craig Wedren – Miss You [Electromix]
  • Elektric Music – Lifestyle (Radio-Style) [Electromix]
  • Front Line Assembly – Everything Must Perish [Electromix]
  • Fluke – Absurd
  • Bent – The Waters Deep

The Electromix feature from this show still exists, and will be included on a future Playlist for stowaways.

Greatest Hits – Volume 6

Time for a quick breather, and a chance to catch up on some of the previous posts that you might have missed. Remember these?