Posts Tagged ‘Spacemen 3’

Spacemen 3 threebie 3 orbit020lp 5023693102016

Spacemen 3 were an English alternative rock band, formed in Rugby, Warwickshire by Peter Kember and Jason Pierce, known respectively under their pseudonyms Sonic Boom and J Spaceman.Their music is known for its brand of “minimalistic psychedelia”.Spacemen 3 had their first independent chart hits in 1987, gaining a cult following, and going on to have greater success towards the end of the decade.However, they disbanded shortly afterwards, releasing their final studio album post-split in 1991 after an acrimonious parting of ways.

They gained a reputation as a ‘drug band’ due to the members’ drug-taking habits and Kember’s candid interviews and outspoken opinions on recreational drug use. Kember and Pierce were the only members common to all line-ups of the band. Both founding members have enjoyed considerable success with their respective subsequent projects: Sonic Boom/Spectrum and Spiritualized.’

Threebie 3′ is a live Spacemen 3 recording featuring performances from a 1988 gig at Melkweg in Amsterdam which were excluded from the live ‘Performance’ album. It was originally released in a strictly limited edition of 1,000 numbered copies which were only available via a mail order offer that came with the seminal and critically acclaimed Spacemen 3 ‘Playing with Fire’ studio album released in 1989 which went to number 1 on the indie charts.

Out of print for more than 30 years and now re-mastered by John Rivers at Woodbine Street Studio especially for vinyl release for Record Store Day 2020.

Yellow coloured heavyweight 180 gram audiophile vinyl LPPreviously only released on limited edition black vinyl in 1989

recordstore day

Spectrum forever alien orbit066lp 5023693106618

Previously released on vinyl in 1997 British space rock band Spectrum is a project led by Peter Kember under the pseudonym Sonic Boom; an English singer and record producer.He was a founding member, bassist, vocalist and guitarist of alternative rock band Spacemen 3, lasting from 1982 until the band’s dissolution in 1991.

He provided the production on MGMT’s sophomore album Congratulations, Panda Bear’s albums Tomboy and Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, and Beach House’s seventh album, eponymously titled ‘7’. As a solo artist, Kember has recorded as Spectrum and E.A.R.(Experimental Audio Research), parallel musical projects with recordings under both names occasionally only featuring Kember.

He has occasionally performed live under both monikers, most recently as Spectrum, touring as a band in America and Europe. Kember has also played and collaborated with a number of artists, including Stereolab and Yo La Tengo.

‘Forever Alien’ is the third studio album by Spectrum.It was originally released in August 1997 by Space Age Recordings and has long been out of print on vinyl. After the band’s preceding EP ‘Songs for Owsley’ moved away from guitar-oriented music and towards electronic music, ‘Forever Alien’ furthered this approach considerably, as Kember aimed to create a predominately electronic album that sounded organic and analogue in style. The record is dominated by vintage analogue synthesizers, including the EMS VCS 3 and EMS Synthi AKS. Kember had become fascinated by the synths as he felt they presented him with more musical possibilities than guitars. The resulting album fuses psychedelic music with influences from the 1960s electronic music of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The track ‘Feels Like I’m Slipping Away’ from the album was released as a single and ‘Forever Alien’ had modest radio success in the US and also received acclaim from critics. Musicians such as Helena Hauff and Ekoplekz have since cited it among their favourite albums. Will Carruthers (ex-Spacemen 3) joined Spectrum on their 1997 tour in support of the album. Now re-mastered by John Rivers at Woodbine Street Studio especially for vinyl release for Record Store Day 2020.

Orange coloured heavyweight 180 gram audiophile double vinyl LP

“Thirty years? Fuck! Thirty years!” Jason Pierce, one half of the creative duo at the heart of Spacemen 3, is struggling to take in the fact that “Playing With Fire” is celebrating over thirty years since it’s release. And, it seems, he’s also struggling to remember events from 1989.

Pierce chuckles in response, “Playing With Fire” is that kind of an album.  But that’s to damn the record with faint and superficial praise for in truth, it’s so much more than that: Playing With Fire is an extraordinary album and its ramifications and reverberations are still being felt to this very day. Not only was it the moment that Spacemen 3 found themselves reaching a wider audience after years of indifference, but it was also one that saw them create a contemporary form of psychedelia that was ripe for the time and beyond. And in fairness to Pierce, three decades is a considerable period of time, so a re-acquaintance with Spacemen 3’s third album and the times in which it was made is called for.

Looking back after three decades is to be reminded of a time characterised by huge social, political and cultural upheavals. The year leading up to the album’s release had been marred by shocking levels of violence in and around Northern Ireland. Margaret Thatcher became the 20th century’s longest-serving Prime Minister at the turn of the year. The Local Government Act – featuring the notorious Section 28 preventing local authorities from “promoting homosexuality” – became law. And in a grotesque full stop to the year, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie when a terrorist bomb went off on board, killing a total of 270 people.

Cultural changes were afoot. The first rumblings from the Pacific Northwest were beginning to make themselves felt, hip hop had taken bold steps forward thanks to ground breaking records by Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim and EPMD among others, while the likes of Sonic Youth, Pixies and R.E.M. were reaching far and wide. If you want to track the seed of the best of the 90s and what followed, this is when it was planted.

And it was against this backdrop that Spacemen 3 unshackled psychedelic rock from its origins in the 60s to give it an updated and modern vernacular.

Driven by the partnership of Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember and Jason Pierce, Spacemen 3 had been ploughing their own unique and unfashionable furrow since their formation in 1982. From the fuzzed-up ramalama of their Stooges-indebted 1986 debut album, Sound Of Confusion, through to its follow-up a year later with the laid-back and medicated washes of The Perfect Prescription, Spacemen 3’s gradual reduction and minimalising of their sound would result in Playing With Fire. Opening a fresh chapter in the band’s evolution in the shape of new bassist Will Carruthers, the circumstances around the album’s creation helped precipitate the increasingly fractious relationship between Pete Kember and Jason Pierce.

From his Berlin home, Carruthers muses: “People always ask, ‘Why did the band split up?’ The more interesting question is, ‘Why did they stay together?’”

Carruthers has a point and the answer lies in the grooves contained within Playing With Fire. This is an album that’s defined as much by what’s not there as is there. The monolithic and overdriven onslaught of their debut is largely gone, and when it does re-appear on the hypno-monotony of the repetitive call-to-arms that is ‘Revolution’, the sound is more streamlined, focussed and attacking. Boiled down to a single E chord, its audacity is matched by its mesmeric qualities as it layers one guitar on top of another, before reducing the sound down again to the bare minimum of guitars and single, open strings.

Similarly, ‘Suicide’ strips away structures to just an isolated chord, and instead applies washes of tremolo, delay, echo and wah-wah on a circular guitar riff for dynamic effect. Its tempo is anchored by the beat of a single, programmed bass drum and a bass guitar that locks in on the groove. The end result is a relentless wall of sound that simultaneously disorientates yet welcomes the listener to an experience where time, space and structure become meaningless concepts.

Yet for all that, Spacemen 3 were creating even more space on the album. Opening with the beatific ‘Honey’, the band’s intentions become manifestly clear. This is to be a trip fuelled less by power and more by stealth, pace and room to roam. The sparseness at the heart of ‘How Does It Feel?’ – an eight-minute exercise in minimalism – is matched by the haunting yet oddly lachrymose ‘Let Me Down Gently’.

And among these stark excursions are songs of stunning beauty. ‘Come Down Softly To My Soul’ dances and shimmers, while ‘So Hot (Wash Away All Of My Tears)’ is a tender search for redemption and inner peace that’s underlined by the neo-gospel yearn of ‘Lord Can You Hear Me?’.

In short, Spacemen 3 were making the best music of their career. And in doing so, they were also laying down the groundwork for what was to come next as they gradually fell apart first into factions, and then two separate groups in the shape of Spectrum and Spiritualized. But how much of it was evolution or revolution?

“I don’t think there was ever a wilful decision that said we’re going to do something different than we had before, but there was always an assumption that it was going to be like that,” states Jason Pierce. “But what seems to be a giant leap for the listener isn’t such a big step for the musician. To my ears it doesn’t seem like a huge step. We were moving relatively fast anyway, and we had a huge amount of influences already involved ahead, even, of the first album.”

It’s a viewpoint shared by Pete Kember: “I would venture that Sound Of Confusion through to The Perfect Prescription was a night and day switch as well. My thing has always been that I’m not that interested in making the same record twice. I think most musicians feel like that and it’s an unfulfilling thing to repeat yourself. Most of the bands that I like, they like to keep themselves walking.”

He continues: “Speaking for myself, I’d call myself an untrained musician and we were very much experimenting with what we could do and how we could encapsulate what we were trying to present in sound, really. The Perfect Prescription was definitely an awakening for us. Initially we thought that there would be severe limitations to having these one and two-chord, very minimal song structures that would burn themselves out quickly, but they never did. I think we kept finding other ways that we could have these other avenues and branches where we could take music that were still part of the same tree. Playing With Fire was a slightly different direction.”

“There was also a certain musical inability that helped our sound,” elaborates Pierce. “We couldn’t do certain chord changes so we minimalised the whole thing through necessity. With Spacemen 3, it’s almost like you’re listening to people learning their instruments as they go along; there might be guitar bends here and there, but they’re not learned guitar bends. And you’ve also got the inherent stupidity of rock & roll, but that’s not to undermine anyone’s talent. The simplicity of language and notes makes things so exciting.”

“Well, the greatest effects came from the least effort. That’s one of my driving motivations!” laughs Kember. “I’ve always been in awe of people like Kraftwerk, who wouldn’t have more than three or four elements in their tracks; they would all own and occupy their own space, sonically. They’d keep clear of each other but would be awesome around each other. I think there was some influence from that.”

Work began on Playing With Fire in June 1988 when Kember and Pierce were persuaded to record at ARK Studios in Cornwall instead of VHF Studios near Rugby where they’d previously recorded.

“We got offered a cheap deal at a studio that didn’t turn out what it was meant to be,” recalls Kember. “We did, in fact, complete about half of the album back in Rugby at VHF. We had to re-record parts as stuff got wiped in Cornwall.”

Will Carruthers, who had never actually played with Spacemen 3 until he arrived for the sessions, is less flattering in his recollections of the Cornish studios. “We’re not talking about fucking Abbey Road,” he chuckles at the memory. “It was the corner of the living room in a hippy house. It was a really crusty, anarchist punk household.” “We liked the idea of not being on an industrial estate in Rugby in a closed box for another summer,” adds Kember. “The best summers of my youth were spent in a box with no windows! In Cornwall, we could actually set up outside and play there.” Indeed. While the inside of the studio may not have lived up to the band’s expectations, its surrounding areas had a more positive effect.

“It was very exciting making a record and being in a studio and playing those songs and working with Pete and Jason,” says Carruthers. “I remember sitting in the garden, playing music and smoking hash and being pretty much focussed on making that record. That was all that really mattered.” Carruthers had arrived in Cornwall to find the recording sessions in their infancy.

“There wasn’t very much down at that point,” he says. “Maybe the backing track for [the cover of Suicide’s] ‘Che’, a few little drones for ‘Let Me Down Gently’, and a lot of it was written as it went. But what there was sounded great.” An oddly compelling aspect to Playing With Fire is that for a largely beatless album, it’s driven by a palpable groove. Was this by accident or design?

“The drums went down in some kind of form in Cornwall, but not particularly well executed,” says Jason Pierce. “This French guy was drafted in to have a go but didn’t really nail it,” explains Carruthers. “They had to programme the drums but no one was really labouring over that for weeks to get it done.”

He continues: “But it was hard to play those Spacemen 3 songs with a drummer. They’re deceptively simple, but if you weren’t bang on when you played them, they sounded gash.”

“Well, the thing with Spacemen 3 were the very minimal or underplayed drums,” adds Kember. “I love rhythm and groove but I’m not particularly great at creating it. I tend towards the minimal and simplistic. I’m bound by limitations and Spacemen 3 were band whose limitations helped us become the band we were. We were trying to make something out of nothing and sometimes, when you do that, you get really good things out of it.”

The distance between Cornwall and Rugby gave the principal players time to soak up further influences. For Kember and Carruthers, who’d drive back to their hometown at the weekends, it was bootleg cassettes of The Beach Boys’ Smile sessions as well as illicit recordings of New York’s electronic pioneers Suicide, while Pierce, remaining in Cornwall, would immerse himself in live bootlegs of The MC5 in action. But inspiration was coming from other areas, too.

Jason got into gospel around the time of Playing With Fire,” says Will Carruthers. “‘Lord Can You Hear Me?’ is a classic gospel soul tune. We listened to a lot of that stuff.” “I think gospel has always been there, even in the early days,” says Pierce. “And American soul. It’s there on ‘Lord Can You Hear Me’ but it’s evident on some of the others tracks, if you listen carefully enough.”

“That song is so good that it should be a gospel standard,” opines Kember.

“But I don’t think those influences are that disparate,” continues Pierce. “I didn’t think it was that odd to be listening to The MC5 and Kraftwerk and Otis Redding. Now, it’s not such a big deal because it’s all easily available and has some kind of reference point. It all seems to make more sense now because the world is a little smaller.” He adds: “It was very natural. As soon as we put those sounds together on the earliest recordings, it didn’t sound like anyone else. Of course, it was coming from our small world of music and it became bigger as we heard more music. But it wasn’t trying to copy those sounds. It was this thing that worked.”

“We were certainly a magpie band,” admits Kember. “We would delve into the past but we ended up with this weird mix. But all of those songs are from the same place, in a weird way. It’s just people meaning what they say and owning it when they say it. We were definitely listening to Kraftwerk and Laurie Anderson, plus there were the records that we found in the studio in Cornwall that we didn’t have. Penguin Café Orchestra were an influence around that time and elements of all of them found their way into “Playing With Fire.”

While Jason Pierce and Will Carruthers deny that the emerging popularity in MDMA had any direct impact on the music Spacemen 3 were making, Pete Kember remembers things a little differently. “‘Ecstasy Symphony’ from The Perfect Prescription from ’87 is entirely referencing the ecstasy scene. We were lucky to play some of the pre-rave ecstasy shows in Hackney. They were called ‘The X Parties’ and we played two of those that I remember. There were large amounts of people there taking ecstasy and other psychedelic drugs. The days of The Grateful Dead and all that nonsense were long gone.”

Pondering the cultural impact of ecstasy, Kember continues: “Ecstasy really changed British culture. If you were a kid then and into Spacemen 3 and you went out into your town or city on a Friday or Saturday night, then you’d better watch your back. “It was one of the more interesting cultural steps; maybe even the last truly interesting cultural movement to have happened.”

Less harmonious was what was to come. A perfect storm of Jason Pierce’s romance with future Spiritualized keyboard player Kate Radley, a new management contract with local businessman Gerald Palmer and Kember’s perception of an imbalance in songwriting duties was beginning to take its toll on the band’s two song writers.

“We were badly advised and badly managed,” sighs Kember. “We were kids learning and trying to figure shit out.” A tone of remorse enters his voice.

“If I had the chance to change things, there are many things that I would’ve done differently,” he admits. “You know, at that point we separated our song writing and there was a period when Jason stopped writing songs and we’d always split the credit. I was like, ‘Dude, you can’t just leave me floating here. Come on – you come up with totally different stuff and our stuff works really well together. I’m not going to split the credit with you, dude, if you’re not going to write anything’ and I regret that.”

He continues: “It was only a small and temporary period that Jason wasn’t writing, and I think I reacted badly to it. I wish we had worked closer together and many of the tracks on the record were done in isolation: ‘Lord Can You Hear Me’, that’s Jason and I don’t play on that track. ‘Honey’, that’s me but Jason doesn’t play on that track. It wasn’t a critically destructive thing but it wasn’t good vibes.

“I just wish that maybe we could have done it differently. But on the other hand, I feel that, as with the bands whose music I really love, that dysfunction can produce great music. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes.”

In some respects, Playing With Fire is an album that’s curated as much as it’s composed. This far down the line it’s easy to spot the ingredients that went into its making but this is to miss the point. The analogue world of 1988 – 89 didn’t offer the same off-the-peg musical choices that it does now. Influences, records, and their histories and significance had to be physically hunted down. Time, effort and money were spent to seek these materials, to make sense of them and to refine and streamline them into something new. Consequently, Playing With Fire not only comes at the listener from different directions, it also sends the curious on a journey that joins a lot of dots. But crucially, it holds it all together to create a satisfying journey from beginning to end – and one that has continued to do so over the last 30 years as it inspires subsequent generations of space cadets.

Says Will Carruthers: “It’s a peculiar album, especially when you think about the diversity – from ‘Suicide’ to ‘Let Me Down Gently’, ‘Lord Can You Hear Me’ to ‘How Does It Feel?’ and I don’t know how it works as an album. On paper, it shouldn’t fucking work. You’ve got Jason’s classic, poppy and gospel tunes. It’s interesting how it hangs together, given the peculiarity of the elements within it.”

As one of the album’s two chief architects, Pete Kember has a clearer idea of how those different elements coalesce into a coherent statement.

“It’s one of those weird things where sometimes you have a collection of songs that don’t appear to go together and then you find that actually, you find a way to thread them together, and so make them all stronger,” he explains. “You know, ‘Suicide’ next to ‘Revolution’? That’s not such a great mix, but when you put ‘Suicide’ next to ‘Honey’, then it makes both of the tracks more extreme. I really like that kind of journey.”

“It’s funny, there are a lot of people now who sound like Spacemen 3 but when we were kids, we didn’t want to make psychedelic music that sounded like psychedelic music,” adds Jason Pierce. “I don’t think we’d have been able even if we wanted to. There were bands at the time wearing paisley and playing music that was copied from West Coast psychedelia, but the music we played didn’t come from that. We weren’t constrained by style or form; we went for what sounded right.” Pete Kember agrees and it’s with no little pride that he states: “I’ve never wanted to make a lot of records, but I’ve always wanted to feel happy about the ones I have made.

“I could go a decade without listening to Spacemen 3, but when I hear that stuff I’m always psyched and I think to myself, Yeah, we fucking nailed it.”

Playing with Fire is the third studio album by, released in February 1989. The original CD version included two live bonus tracks recorded in the Netherlands, and an ensuing release included two more b-sides from the “Revolution” single. A reissued version from 2001 has an entire extra disc of demos and rarities. The album was featured in Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”.

In a similar musical borrowing to those on the band’s prior albums, the song “Revolution” bears more than a passing resemblance to “Black to Comm” by the “MC5”.

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Spacemen 3 were an English alternative rock band, formed in 1982 in Rugby, Warwickshire, by Peter Kember and Jason Pierce, known respectively later under their pseudonyms Sonic Boom and J Spaceman. Their music is known for its brand of “minimalistic psychedelia”. The creative and song-writing force throughout Spacemen 3’s history were Peter Kember and Jason Pierce. They met at the (now defunct) Rugby Art College on Clifton Road, Rugby,  in Autumn 1982, both aged 16, and became close friends. Pierce was in a band called Indian Scalp, but he left them near the end of 1982 in order to collaborate with Kember. The two guitarists recruited drummer Tim Morris, who played with a couple of other bands and had a rehearsal space at his parental home which they used. Shortly afterwards they were joined by an acquaintance, Pete Bain, on bass. Morris and Bain had previously played together in a band called Noise on Independent Street. Pierce handled lead vocal duties. Now a 4-piece, the band originally adopted the name The Spacemen. Sonically, Spacemen 3’s music was characterised by fuzzy and distorted electric guitars, stuttering tremolo effects and wah-wah, the employment of ‘power chords’ and simple riffs, harmonic overtones and drones, softly sung/spoken vocals, and sparse or monolithic drumming.

Their earlier record releases were guitar ‘heavy’, sounding Stooges-esque and “a bit like a punked-up garage rock band” whilst their later work was mostly sparser and softer with more textural techniques and augmented by organs, resulting in “their signature trance-like neo-psychedelia”. Kember was a keen record collector from the early age of 11 or 12; some of the first records he purchased included albums by The Velvet Underground. Pierce: “When I was 14, I bought The Stooges’ Raw Power and I listened to nothing but that for a year”. Spacemen 3’s early gig posters would often make explicit references to their sound being inspired by The Stooges, The Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones.In 1988, Kember said, “Groups like Suicide or the MC5 are like my favourite stuff in the world” Pierce said, “Early on, we were listening to The Stooges, then came Suicide,

Their first live performances occurred around winter 1982/83, playing at a party and then at a couple of gigs they managed to get at a local bar; at the latter their set included a 20-minute version of the one-chord song “O.D. Catastrophe”

This prompted Bain and Morris to leave and join a new local band, The Push, being formed by Gavin Wissen. Kember and Pierce recruited a replacement drummer, Nicholas “Natty” Brooker. They continued without a bassist and Pierce would regularly return to Rugby for rehearsals. In early 1984, they only performed at a few local, low key venues. Still a trio, they changed their name to Spacemen 3.

Kember explained:The “3” came about completely by mistake. We did a poster which was just for The Spacemen, which we were for a while. But it was “The” Spacemen and I hated that, it sounded like a 50s rock ‘n’ roll group – that’s all very well, but we didn’t want to be imagined as…one of those surf bands. So we stuck the 3 on afterwards – that came about from a poster we did which had “Are Your Dreams At Night 3 Sizes Too Big?” with a very big 3 on it and it really worked as a logo, it just fell into place. It’s really for the third eye.

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Despite having played fewer than ten gigs, Spacemen 3 decided to produce a demo tape. In 1984 they made their first studio recordings at the home studio of Dave Sheriff in Rugby. This material – which included early iterations of the songs “Walkin’ with Jesus”, “Come Down Easy” and “Thing’ll Never be the Same” – was used for a short demo tape entitled “For All The Fucked Up Children Of The World We Give You Spacemen 3”. They got a few hundred cassette copies made and produced their own artwork and booklet to accompany it, selling the tapes for £1 at a local record shop. Spacemen 3’s music at this stage had a loose, swampy Blues feel; some songs included harmonica and slide guitar, and their style sounded akin to The Cramps These early demo recordings, which Kember later recalled as being “really dreadful”, would later be released unofficially in 1995 on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label, thus providing an insight into the band’s embryonic sound.

Around 1984 and 1985, Spacemen 3 were doing gigs every two or three months on the local Rugby/Northampton/Coventry circuit, and had a regular spot at The Black Lion public house in Northampton. Their gigs had an ‘anti performance’ element: Kember and Pierce would play their guitars sitting down and would barely acknowledge the audience. They would illuminate the stage with some cheap, old optokinetic disco light-show equipment which they had acquired, providing a psychedelic backdrop. At one of their gigs at The Black Lion in 1985, they came to the attention of Pat Fish, the leader of the recording band The Jazz Butcher; he felt Spacemen 3 were “extraordinary” and “like nothing else”. By this time they had reconfigured and honed their musical style, and their repertoire consisted of newer songs and re-worked older ones. “The band’s sound had crystallised into the intense, hypnotic, overloaded psychedelia which characterised their early [record] output, and which would serve as a template for their live act throughout their existence” . Spacemen 3 signed a three-year, two-album recording contract with Glass Records in early 1986.

Kember and Pierce opted to upgrade their guitar equipment ahead of recording the new demos. Kember purchased a Burns Jazz electric guitar and 1960s Vox Conqueror amplifier; whilst Pierce bought a Fender Telecaster and a 1970s HH amplifier. Both of their new amplifiers included distortion/fuzz and tremolo; these two effects were key components of Spacemen 3’s signature sound.
Spacemen 3 had their first independent chart hits in 1987, gaining a cult following, and going on to have greater success towards the end of the decade. However, they disbanded shortly afterwards, releasing their final studio album post-split in 1991 after an acrimonious parting of ways.

They gained a reputation as a ‘drug band’ due to the members’ drug-taking habits and Kember’s candid interviews and outspoken opinions on recreational drug use.Kember and Pierce were the only members common to all line-ups of the band. Both founding members have enjoyed considerable success with their respective later other subsequent projects: Sonic Boom/Spectrum and Spiritualized.

Spacemen 3 sound of confusion

Sound of Confusion (1986)

Spacemen 3’s debut album “Sound Of Confusion” released in 1986, was a blistering affair – establishing their love of the two-chord song and also expressing their admiration for the likes of MC5, The 13th Floor Elevators and The Stooges. Spacemen 3 were sent to record their first album, Sound of Confusion, at the studios of Bob Lamb in the King’s Heath area of Birmingham. By this time, they had already started to write some ‘softer’ songs, but they decided that the album should consist entirely of ‘heavier’, older material. With a recording budget of less than £1,000, they completed the album in five days, with the last two days dedicated to mixing. Attempts at recording the title song “Walkin’ with Jesus (Sound of Confusion)” were unsuccessful and abandoned. Both Kember and Pierce were unhappy with the final production on the album, feeling it suffered from Lamb’s unsympathetic production;Sound of Confusion was 7 tracks of overdriven assault, with a strange bleakness and despair creeping through the hypnotic sprawl. R Hunter Gibson would later say: “It boosts the value of unlit rooms, unpaid debts and unfeigned terror and it would rather tackle the gradients than settle for level best.

The seven-track Sound of Confusion album had a heavy psychedelic style with a strong Stooges influence. It was “a full on, fuzzed up drone of relentless guitar pounding” with a “rough garage energy ” and “minimal, bluntly entrancing riffs” (Ned Raggett, AllMusic/NME review of the 1990 re-release recalled of the album: “It’s a lo-fi, mostly low-key affair, the sound of the band finding their feet… It doesn’t quite attain the critical mass to transcend its basis in the most rudimentary garage punk of the Sixties… Side Two is pretty much one long tribute to The Stooges..Sound of Confusion probably felt like a revelation, to the few who heard it at the time.

To follow up their album, Spacemen 3 made their first single: “Walkin’ with Jesus”. This was recorded at Carlo Marocco’s studio outside Northampton. For the title track they re-mixed the version they had previously recorded for their demo tape. For the B-side, they recorded “Feel So Good”, a newer composition, and re-recorded a 17-minute “Rollercoaster” (a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators). This single was the first Spacemen 3 record that Peter Kember and Jason Pierce produced; the duo handled all future production. The “Walkin’ with Jesus” single was released in November 1986. It received decent reviews from NME and Sounds.

Guitarist Peter Kember started to use his long-term alias ‘Sonic Boom’. He had earlier employed the aliases ‘Mainliner’ and ‘Peter Gunn’. Bassist Pete Bain also adopted his alias: ‘Bassman’ or ‘Pete Bassman’

Spacemen 3 perfect prescription

The Perfect Prescription (1987)

Spacemen 3’s second album is a remarkable departure from the band’s 1986 debut, Sound of Confusion Reduced to a trio (guitarists / keyboardists Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember, Jason ‘Spaceman’ Pierce, and bassist Pete Bassman) following the departure of the first album’s drummer, Spacemen 3 makes an asset out of the newfound lack of percussion, giving the album a considerably less rock-oriented sound with much more open space in its varied, subtle arrangements.

Spacemen 3 commenced work on their second album, The Perfect Prescription. This was recorded at Paul Atkins’ VHF Studios, near Rugby. VHF had been recommended to the band by in-house sound engineer Graham Walker with whom they had worked previously when recording their first demo tape. The first set of demo recordings they made at VHF Studios relating to the new album were dubbed the ‘Out Of It Sessions’. Procurable only as bootleg, this work shows the transition in Spacemen 3’s musical style that was occurring around winter 1986/87

Spacemen 3 would spend over eight months at VHF Studios. Importantly, this allowed them generous time to experiment, and develop and refine their sound and material in a studio setting, assisted by Graham Walker. In the album liner notes of Forged Prescriptions, a re-release of The Perfect Prescription, Kember recalled: this is Spacemen 3 in bloom, midsummer before the seeds were scattered, right at the point where we worked together well and in compliment to each other. I still have strong memories of days where we would crash out listening to nothing but one song over and over… Mattresses were installed into the studio’s lounging space and our kaleidoscopic light show stayed on throughout the session… We spent several months…recording and re-working these pieces until we felt they were ready, slowly learning more about the studio and its techniques as we went.

Whilst working on the album, “Transparent Radiation” — a cover of a song by the Red Crayola — was recorded, and released as a single in July 1987. “Transparent Radiation” was awarded ‘Single of the Week’ by Sounds, and matched the previous single in reaching no. 29 on the independent chart. The B-side included “Ecstasy Symphony”, a new experimental piece using an organ drone multi-tracked and fed through various effects (this would presage some of Peter Kember’s later work and his interest in analogue synthesisers).

The Perfect Prescription “marked a serious artistic development, drawing deeper from gospel, ambient, and spiritual music, granting a serenity and depth to their spaced-out garage psychedelia” (Stephen Erlewine, AllMusic). Although retaining the same minimalist approach, Spacemen 3’s sound was now sparser and mellower. Extra textures and complexity were evident, provided by overdubs and additional instrumentation, with the organ sound of the VHF Studio’s Farfisa being a significant introduction. The instrumental palette was also extended with acoustic guitar, violin (from local musician Owen John), saxophone and trumpet (from members of The Jazz Butcher) being used on some songs. Much of the album did not feature drums. This was the first album on which Kember contributed lead vocals.

Relations between Peter Kember and Jason Pierce were beginning to suffer as a result of Pierce’s romantic relationship with Kate Radley, whom he had been dating since Summer 1987. Kember resented the amount of time his song-writing partner was spending with her at his expense and the fruition of the band.

In July 1988, Spacemen 3’s third single, “Take Me to the Other Side”, was released, from The Perfect Prescription album

Spacemen 3 were keen to be freed from their recording contract with Glass Records who were in financial difficulty and owed them royalties. Although they had produced the requisite two albums, there was still a year remaining on their contract. A deal was reached whereby, in return for providing a live album, their contractual obligations would be deemed to have been met and they would be allowed to leave. Accordingly, Performance was released in July 1988. This seven-track live album was a recording of their gig at the Melkweg venue Amsterdam, on 6th February 1988.

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Playing with Fire (1988–89)

Peter Kember had purchased an unusual electric guitar near the end of 1987: a Vox Starstream made in the late 1960s. This guitar incorporated several in-built effects, including fuzz and Repeat Percussion (or Repeater) The latter was a unique tremolo type, almost delay-like effect, and Kember would use it heavily on Spacemen 3’s future output. One of his first compositions featuring this effect was the eponymous “Repeater” (a.k.a. “How Does It Feel?”). “Repeater” and two other new songs also composed by Kember – “Revolution” and “Suicide”. 

Recording for Spacemen 3’s third studio album, Playing With Fire, started in June 1988.

New bassist Will Carruthers made his first live appearance with Spacemen 3 at London Dingwalls on 20th June, where they were supported by My Bloody Valentine. It was after this gig that a confrontation occurred between Kember and Pierce and his girlfriend, Kate Radley. Tired of Radley’s persistent presence around the band of late – at recording sessions, touring and backstage at gigs – Kember enforced an agreed ‘no girls on the bands bus policy and barred Radley from boarding the tour van, leaving Pierce and Radley to make their own way home.

Peter Kember and Jason Pierce were formulating new song ideas entirely separate from one another. Both their personal and working relationships were beginning to disintegrate. Pierce’s romance with Kate Radley was impacting on his time with the band and his contributions. Of the eventual tracks on Playing With Fire, six were Kember’s compositions, whilst only three were Pierce’s. The recording process for this album was different: individual parts were recorded separately, which meant band members did not have to be present at the same time, After initial plans to use drummers from The Weather Prophets and Thee Hypnotics for the recording of Playing With Fire, a permanent drummer was recruited in late August: Jonny Mattock. Despite this he does not appear on Playing With Fire – a drum machine was used on all of the songs and no drummer is credited on the album.

Mattock had been playing in a Northampton band called ‘The Apple Creation’. He was recommended by future Spacemen 3 guitarist Mark Refoy. Mattock made his live debut on 24th August at a gig at the Riverside in Hammersmith, London, and contributed to the new album. The new rhythm section of Carruthers and Mattock would remain constant for the rest of Spacemen 3’s existence

Spacemen 3 managed to obtain a two-album deal with independent label, Fire Records. Kember and Pierce argued over the choice of song for their first single with Fire. Agreement was eventually reached on “Revolution”. At a gig 15th November 1988, advertised as ‘Sonic Boom and Jason of Spacemen 3’, only Kember and Carruthers performed; Pierce spent the whole time at the bar with Kate Radley, whom he was now living with. The single “Revolution” was released in November 1988. The title track was a powerful, anthemic “mind-melting crunch”.

Spacemen 3’s eagerly awaited Playing With Fire album was finally released in late February 1989. The album’s front cover sleeve bore the slogan, “Purity, Love, Suicide, Accuracy, Revolution”. Playing With Fire was Spacemen 3’s first record to chart and one of the breakthrough indie albums of the year. Within weeks of its release, it was No. 1 in both the NME and Melody Maker.

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Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To (1990)

Spacemen 3 “became the indie phenomenon of late 1988”. They were receiving more media attention and got their first cover story, in Melody Maker‘s November 1988 issue. Peter Kember effectively become the sole spokesperson for Spacemen 3, giving numerous interviews. These provided for controversy and journalistic focus due to Kember’s candid openness about his drug taking habits and his forthright views on recreational drug use.

Spacemen 3 at their most raw and powerful, the album being almost exclusively demos from the mid-80s and other alternative versions of songs produced along the way. The lack of glossy production which eventually met some of Spacemen 3’s later material really brings out the in your face garage style of play they were pushing for here. Both Jason Pierce and Sonic Boom reckon they are better then the ‘proper’ versions!!.

The album was re-issued  as a (2LP – Berry) coloured heavyweight 180 gram vinyl double LP in a gatefold sleeve with new artwork layout. Remastered by John Rivers at Woodbine Studios especially for vinyl release.

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Performance (1990)

Recorded in Amsterdam in 1988, the live ‘Performance’ documents a set from the Perfect Prescription tour; the emphasis here is on the group’s loud, noisy origins – only the closing ‘Feel So Good’ hints at the more subdued atmospheres and textures which emerged as Spacemen 3’s primary focus as they approached ‘Playing With Fire’. Among the highlights: ‘Take Me to the Other Side,’ ‘Walkin’ With Jesus’ and ‘Come Together.’

At the beginning of 1989 Spacemen 3 had been one of the “hottest indie bands in England. The personal and working relationship between Peter Kember and Jason Pierce, still the principal members of the band, would completely disintegrate, leading Spacemen 3 to eventually disband. Spacemen 3 used the short break between the UK and European tours in Spring 1989 as an opportunity to record a new single. Two songs were recorded, at VHF Studios: “Hypnotized”, a new song by Pierce, who had recently acquired his own 4-track recorder; and “Just To See You Smile”, by Kember. The songwriters spent a day’s session on each other’s song, although Kember’s contribution to “Hypnotized” was not ultimately used on the released version.

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Dreamweapon (1990)

On the August 19th, 1988, Spacemen 3 traveled down from their homes in Rugby—a manufacturing town 80 miles northwest of London—to play a show at the Watermans Arts Centre in the West London suburb of Brentford. It wasn’t even a show, really: The group was to play in the venue’s lobby, while patrons lined up to get into that evening’s screening of art-house auteur Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire. Only 15 or so fans actually watched them play.

At that time, Spacemen 3 were so peripheral to British independent music that they were barely a curio. Without the support of the weekly music papers, the band was purely the preserve of psychedelic heads. No one had it in mind that they might one day rival the Smiths as one of the most profoundly influential British bands of their era.

The performance at Watermans Arts Centre was billed as “An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music,” despite the complete absence of sitars. It consisted of Peter Kember (aka Sonic Boom) playing a single E chord, while guitarists Jason Pierce and Steve Evans picked notes around him, and Will Carruthers anchored everything on bass. That was the plan, at least; in practice, Carruthers forgot to turn on his amp. As he put it in his terrific memoir, Playing the Bass With Three Left Hands: “A monkey could have done what I had just done. A non-existent monkey could have done it.”

The 45-minute performance was recorded and served as the main attraction of Spacemen 3’s 1990 album, Dreamweapon. Superior Viaduct’s new edition, augmented by three more drone pieces, is testimony to the live document’s continued allure, despite its oddly comical nature (around the 16-minute mark, you hear a voice in the background over a PA: “Ladies and gentlemen, the cinema is now open and you can take your seats for this evening’s showing of Wings of Desire.

“An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music” is one of the most extreme pieces of music to find a fairly large audience. It’s not that it is confrontational, or difficult. It is just so completely unyielding. It offers no concessions to listeners, demanding they embrace the drone, or leave. Despite the lo-fidelity and the background noise— along with the PA announcements, there is clattering tableware, chatter, and a crying baby—it is beautiful, in the same way, that watching clouds rolling across the sky is beautiful. It offers no navigation points, no waystations. It is absolutely captivating because it refuses to expand. “An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music” would have the same impact at 10 minutes, or 20, or 30. It lasts 45 minutes only because that’s how long Spacemen 3 had been hired to play.

The three other pieces on this new Dreamweapon reissue are variations on a theme: “Ecstasy Live Intro Theme” takes a single synth bass note, with a high, piercing, dentist’s drill tone sliding around the scale at the top end of the keyboard. Does it build and subside in volume? It’s genuinely hard to tell, yet there are places when, for no apparent reason, it suddenly feels startlingly more intense, anxious, and claustrophobic. It is, at times, verging on terrifying in its physicality. “Ecstasy in Slow Motion” is more of the same, but less intense. (Both are close cousins of “Ecstasy Symphony” from the band’s 1987 album The Perfect Prescription. The concluding “Spacemen Jam” is the filler here: 15 minutes of guitar doodles that are precisely as interesting as you would expect from a couple of young men messing about on their guitars with a tape recorder running.

Had the voiceless drone been the sole interest of Spacemen 3, then it’s likely that Dreamweapon would never have seen the light of day. But in November 1988, Spacemen 3 released the more traditional psych-rock explosion of “Revolution” the song that changed everything for them. “Revolution” became UK indie’s ubiquitous theme of autumn 1988, hailed by the critics, and featured on television. The album “Playing With Fire”, released in February 1989, confirmed their new status. Suddenly all the mythology Spacemen 3 had built up for themselves—typified by their slogan, “Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to”—stopped being the self-aggrandizement of unknown provincials and became mission statements of a major band. They spent most of 1989 slowly unravelling, finally officially disbanding in 1991 after the release of Recurring, their fourth and final studio album. Their whirlwind trajectory only contributed to the mystique, prompting an array of live albums and unofficial and semi-official releases that started in 1990.

More than any of their contemporaries, Spacemen 3’s legacy depends on that elusiveness, the sense of them as voyagers through a psychedelic netherworld. They were a band who promised to open doors, and who did so for scores of bands who followed John Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees and the whole of the San Francisco psych scene, The-warlocks, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Black Angels, through to the War on Drugs and pretty much anyone else with a taste for hallucinogens and the drone. What Dreamweapon reveals is how quotidian the origins of that mythology were: four blokes earning a few quid playing for people who weren’t even listening. As the silent bassist Carruthers wrote of the performance: “To this day, I’m not sure if it was art or not.”

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Recurring (1991)

Recording for Spacemen 3’s fourth studio album, Recurring, had commenced at the beginning of August 1989, again at VHF Studios. According to Mark Refoy, Kember and Pierce rarely appeared at the studio at the same time and there was “quite a tense atmosphere” between them. When work recommenced after the Reading Festival, Kember and Pierce were recording separately from one another. Pierce contributed guitar parts to Kember’s songs, but Kember did not play on any of Pierce’s songs. When Kember heard Pierce’s demos, he again renewed his claim that he was copying his sounds and effects, and accused Pierce’s “Billy Whizz” of being a composition he had written several years prior. The two were now estranged and working completely separately. They agreed to have separate sides of the album for their own songs, all of which they had written and composed individually. Pierce’s side of the album is effectively his next project ‘Spiritualized’, and Kember’s side of effectively his next project ‘Spectrum’ with Richard Formby Kember’s partner in Spectrum playing guitar on his side. The other three band members – Carruthers, Mattock and Refoy – who all went onto join Spiritualized, were called in to contribute sessions when required.

The recording of “When Tomorrow Hits” was the last occasion Kember and Pierce would work together. A disconsolate Will Carruthers left the band at this point, fed up with the discord and lack of remuneration

In January 1991, the Spacemen 3 single “Big City”/”Drive” was released. Both songs from the double A-side single were from the soon-to-released Recurring. Kember and Pierce had been due to be at the studio for the mastering of the single, however Pierce did not attend. At that point the two had hardly spoken face to face in over six months. Kember decided to fade out several minutes of Pierce’s song from the single, “Drive”.

The last Spacemen 3 album, Recurring, was finally released in February 1991. Although the band had not officially disbanded, for all intents and purposes it was a posthumous release. The two sides of the album – one by Kember (A-side), the other by Pierce (B-side) – reflected the split between the band’s two main personnel.

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Spacemen 3 recorded and performed numerous covers and re-workings of other bands’ songs, particularly earlier on in their history, and this was indicative of their influences. Examples include songs by the following bands and artists: The Stooges, MC5, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Roky Erikson, The Red Krayola, Glenn Campbell (of The Misunderstood), The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Suicide, Bo Diddley, The Rolling Stones, The Troggs, The Yardbirds, and The Sonics. The song “Hey Man” (a.k.a. “Amen”) is based on a Gospel traditional. The song “Come Down Easy” is derivative of a Blues traditional. Spacemen 3 performed an instrumental song live with a pronounced Bo Diddley style rhythm, dubbed “Bo Diddley Jam”.The Spacemen 3 song “Suicide” was a clear acknowledgement of one of their influences: when performed live it was usually introduced as “this song is dedicated to Martin Rev and Alan Vega – Suicide”.

“Spacemen 3” were one of the most revolutionary UK guitar bands” , They produced “some of the most visceral and psychedelic music of all time…and set a sonic template that influenced a generation, inspiring countless bands”

I’m sure I’m not the only person subscribing to this page who yearns for a contemporary band with a similiar Spacemen 3 sound. Personally, I have to admit I’ve gone through phases of obsessively searching for an adequate Spacemen 3 listening replacement. Plenty of artists attempt it, very few succeed. Sure to appeal to fans of Spacemen 3. If it’s genuinely good music with a sound that I think Sonic and Jason would be proud of.

From Swansea in Wales, the mighty White Noise Sound. Released in 2010, the self titled debut album is a ripper, with Pete Kember contributing to production during the recording process. I highly recommend the whole album, with this being the standout track: ‘Sunset’.
May I suggest you dim the lights, set this to full screen mode, get your device playing through either your best speakers or headphones, crank the volume, and enjoy.

check out some of the following for further listening pleasure:

Forged Prescriptions

To say that this is my favourite Spacemen 3  other album would be stretching it a bit, but this gets a spin just as frequently as any of their major releases. The demo version of ‘Come Down Easy’ really is sublime, and everything I could ever want it to be. By far the best version of this song in my opinion.
I see that Gerald ‘Cunt-guts’ Palmer re-released this in 2018 in a digipack with nice new artwork. Thanks, Uncle Gerald!. So plenty of copies knocking around for anyone who is yet to invest! If you are a fan of this band, and this compilation is absent from your collection, then your collection is incomplete. Trust me. buy it. It’s fantastic listen. Spacemen 3 – ‘Forged Prescriptions’.

 

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The big records releases from Kurt Vile, John Grant, St Vincent and at last The Lucid Dream plus loads of fantastic reissues from Mute and Dark Entries (that Eric Random is amazing) and the next David Bowie box set. Among new artists with records you should be listening too goes to Anna St. Louis, I have to say that I hadn’t heard her before but when I saw the press release compare her to Loretta Lynn, Townes Van Zandt and John Fahey I had to give it a spin. It is sooooooo good. Easily eyeing up a top spot in our albums of the year list. Its one of those records that everyone asks who it is when you hear a song, each track gets better as it goes along until when the album finishes you have just got to stick it straight back on.
I love records that are a surprise and I think you will love it too.

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St. Vincent – Masseducation

A year on (to the week) from the release of the critically acclaimed Masseduction album, St. Vincent releases re-imagined piano versions of the album. Performed with Thomas Bartlett over two days in a studio in Midtown Manhattan, August 2017.

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Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

Kurt Vile is back with his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around America over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips.

Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.

Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music— not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on Hysteria, how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of Mutinies, how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to Come Again.

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John Grant  –  Love Is Magic

With his fourth solo album, Love Is Magic, Grant has continued evolving, creating his most electronic record yet.

In collaboration with Benge (Ben Edwards), analogue synth expert / collector and a member of electronic trio Wrangler, Grant’s collaborators earlier this year under the collective name of Creep Show on the album Mr Dynamite. Anyone familiar with Grant’s story will recognise his battles – with addiction and health, with trusting love and relationships. From this turbulence he’s forged another riveting collection of often brutal diatribes and confessionals, where humour, fear, anxiety and anger overlap as Grant, with trademark candour, figuratively exposes the machinations of his saturated brain. It’s epitomised by the album’s brilliant opener Metamorphosis, almost as if his warring psyches are facing up to one another, as impervious synth-pop and brain-on-fire imagery (“Tiki bar, rat soufflé, Buik regal, Marvin Gaye”) melts into dream-ballad introspection (“Questions left unanswered, spiritual extortion”) and back to synth-backed mania. The magic of love pervades in two gorgeous, magisterial ballads toward the end of the album,Is He Strange and The Common Snipe – referring to the wader bird that makes a unique ‘bleating’ sound by rubbing its tailfeathers together.

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David Bowie  –  Loving the Alien (1983 – 1988)

The box contains newly remastered versions of David’s most commercially successful period Let’s Dance, Tonight, Never Let Me Down (Original and 2018 Versions), the live album Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87)’, the previously unreleasedSerious Moonlight live album, a collection of original remixes entitled Dance and the non-album / alternate version / b-sides and soundtrack music compilation Re:Call 4. The highlight of this latest box is the brand new production of the 1987 album Never Let Me Down by Bowie producer / engineer Mario McNulty with new instrumentation by Bowie collaborators Reeves Gabrels (guitar), David Torn (guitar), Sterling Campbell (drums), Tim Lefebvre (bass) as well as string quartet with arrangements by Nico Muhly and a guest cameo by Laurie Anderson on Shining Star (Makin’ My Love). The seeds of this new reimagining of the albums were first sown in 2008 when David asked Mario McNulty to remix the track Time Will Crawl and record new drums by longtime Bowie drummer, Sterling Campbell along with strings. The track was issued on the iSelect compilation to much acclaim, and in the notes, for that record, David remarked ‘Oh, to redo the rest of that album’. The new re-workings have revealed Never Let Me Down as a very strong collection of songs with a dark thematic thread running through them. Fans listening to Never Let Me Down (2018)would be forgiven for thinking that they were listening to a brand new ‘lost’ Bowie record. Also in each box is the never before released Serious Moonlight live album recorded in Montreal in 1983. Originally mixed at the time by Bob Clearmountain, the double album captures Bowie on what at that time was his most successful tour. The artwork features shots taken by photographer Denis O’Regan. Exclusive to each box is Re:Call 4 and Dance. The former a new compilation featuring remastered contemporary single versions, non-album singles, album edits, b-sides and songs featured on soundtracks such as Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners and When The Wind Blows. Dance features 12 contemporaneous remixes some of which are appearing on CD and vinyl for the first time and is named after an unreleased Bowie remix album that was originally slated for release in November 1985. The box set’s accompanying 128 page book features rarely seen and previously unpublished photos by photographers including Denis O’Regan, Greg Gorman, Herb Ritts and many others as well as historical press reviews and technical notes about the albums from producers / engineers Nile Rodgers, Hugh Padgham, Mario McNulty and Justin Shirley-Smith.

11CD – The CD box set includes faithfully reproduced mini-vinyl versions of the original albums, and the CDs are gold coloured rather than the usual silver. Includes 128 Page hardback book. Let’s Dance (remastered) (1CD) Serious Moonlight (Live ’83) (previously unreleased) (2CD) Tonight (remastered) (1CD) Never Let Me Down (remastered) (1CD) Never Let Me Down 2018(previously unreleased) (1CD)* Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) (2CD) Dance (1CD)* Re:Call 4(non-album singles, edits, single versions, b-sides and soundtrack music) (remastered) (2CD)*

* Exclusive to Loving The Alien (1983-1988)

15LP – LP Box Set includes a 88 Page hardback book. Let’s Dance (remastered) (1LP) Serious Moonlight (Live ’83) (previously unreleased) (2LP)* Tonight(remastered) (1LP) Never Let Me Down (remastered) (1LP) Never Let Me Down (2018) (previously unreleased) (2LP – side 4 is etched)* Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) (previously unreleased on vinyl) (3LP)* Dance(2LP)* Re:Call 4 (non-album singles, edits, single versions, b-sides and soundtrack music) (remastered) (3LP)*

* Exclusive to Loving The Alien (1983-1988) LP box.

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Primal Scream  –  Give Out But Don’t Give Up – The Original Memphis Recordings

In 1993 Primal Scream went to Memphis to make an album with Tom Dowd and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, that album never saw the light of day, until now. Following the recent discovery of these tracks in a box lurking in Andrew Innes’ basement, Primal Scream release the original studio recordings from Memphis of the tracks that eventually became their 1994 album Give Out But Don’t Give Up. Teaming up with legendary producer Tom Dowd and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section of David Hood (bass) and Roger Hawkins (drums) at Ardent Studios in Memphis, the resulting recordings from those classic sessions showcase the more country soul, rock’n’roll side to a band who continue to surprise. It’s Primal Scream as you’ve never heard them before. Dowd’s deft production, coupled with the merging of this sublime rhythm section and one of the UK’s best ever bands, led to the creation of nine glorious tracks that run the gamut between blues, gospel and brilliant songwriting, available for the first time.

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Elvis Costello and The Imposters  –  Look Now

Costello returns with his first new collection of songs since his Wise Up Ghost collaboration with The Roots in 2013. It features The Imposters (bassist Davey Faragher along with original Attractions members, drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve). The album was co produced by Costello with Latin Grammys winner Sebastian Krys. Two standout tracks are Under Lime and Unwanted Number. The former is a spry, heavily textured pop rocker with Beatles-esque harmonies and horn arrangements on which Costello sings, “It’s a long way down from that high horse you’re on.” The latter is more low-key and boasts a soul groove and lush backup vocals, which allows Costello to belt lyrics about enduring a sour relationship. “I knew if we could make an album with the scope of Imperial Bedroom and some of the beauty and emotion of Painted From Memory, we would really have something,” Costello said in a statement, referring to the 1982 album he recently revisited on the road and his collaboration with songwriter Burt Bacharach. Bacharach co-wrote a few songs on Look Now, and sat in on piano with the Imposters on two of them, Don’t Look Now and Photographs Can Lie. Costello wrote another Look Now song, Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter, with Carole King.

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Arc Iris – Icon of Ego

Arc Iris releases Icon Of Ego, its third groundbreaking album, as a trio that packs the heft of a far bigger band with fully realized sonic and visual intensity. On this latest album, vocalist / guitarist Jocie Adams, keyboardist / sample artist Zach Tenorio-Miller and drummer Ray Belli have crafted a vividly expressionistic new album that reflects both the group’s protean talents as well as its journey of survival. After its self-named 2014 debut on the nti- label, Arc Iris achieved critical acclaim, along with tours with St. Vincent and Jeff Tweedy and festivals like Bonnaroo followed. Within two years, the band self-released Moon Saloon in the US while Bella Union released the album in Europe. Tours supporting Kimbra, Gene Ween, and a complete re-imagination of Joni
Mitchell’s Blue performed at Washington’s Kennedy Center followed, which added to a growing, international fan base that has remained dedicated throughout.Icon of Ego finds a stronger, more experienced band. Recording at Providence’s Columbus Theater, home to silent movies and vaudeville during the ’20s, the band has evolved into a concentrated pop-prog explosion, mixing styles with disparate elements that captivate and surprise. With heavy synthesizer work by Tenorio and Adams, and seemingly impossible transitions executed effortlessly by Belli, the songs here carry a thick, analog electronic sound that harks back to the ’70s. Presiding over these are Adams’ powerful vocals that house the energy under pop forms.

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The Lucid Dream – Actualisation

The Lucid Dream return with the release of their 4th album, Actualisation. Driven by fans raising £10,000 to help replace all equipment robbed after a Paris show in early 2017, a new album became the instant focus in the summer of 2017 for a rejuvenated The Lucid Dream. Actualisation is soaked in the influence of acid house, amalgamated with dub and kosmische. The album was penned over the summer of 2017 by Mark Emmerson (vocals/guitar/synths), using only the classic Roland 303/808 synths, bass and vocals as tools for writing. Inspiration for the writing was formed via continuous listening to the Chicago to UK acid house works of 1986-1992, the focus predominantly on the groove. Several months on from those writing sessions and The Lucid Dream have completed their 4th album in 5 years. A record made for the dancefloor. Recorded at Whitewood Studios, Liverpool, with Rob Whiteley, the album is produced alongside long-time collaborator Ross Halden (Ghost Town Studios, Leeds), with mastering via Dean Honer (All Seeing I/I Monster/The Moonlandingz). The confrontational techno-punk of Alone In Fear opens the album, a 9-minute attack fuelled by the frustration and anger spawned by Brexit, government and a realisation of what 2018 Britain currently is. Recent single SX1000 (the first work from the album, unveiled via 12′ vinyl in April this year) is the band’s first move into pure acid house. The acid house fusion runs throughout the record, represented furthermore by Ardency, a track already praised by live critics when aired live for the first time earlier this year as ‘even on first hearing, would’ve raised the roof of The Hacienda’. The 2-part opus of Zenith follows, commencing with a space-dub / house instrumental groove before building into a track that will go for your head as much as your hips. Only Breakdown harks back to sounds of old for the band, a little reminder of the skull-crushing impact they can make when stripped to the bare bones. No Sunlight Dub closes the album, a dark-dub that invites the classic acid-house tool (Roland 808) into the dub. The track makes a stop-off into drum ‘n’ bass / jungle along the way before rounding up in a manner suited to Lee Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo and other Jamaican greats.

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Anna St Louis  –  If Only There Was a River

If Only There Was A River is the first full-length studio album from Anna St. Louis. The songwriter, who originally hails from Kansas City, began writing songs after moving to Los Angeles five years ago and has previously released a cassette of recordings on Woodsist / Mare Records, appropriately titled First Songs. On her proper debut, St. Louis spreads her wings and expands on the promise hinted at on First Songs. To achieve that end, she enlisted Kyle Thomas (King Tuff) and Kevin Morby to produce the album, which was engineered by Thomas in his home in Mount Washington, LA. The collection of eleven songs also features Justin Sullivan (Night Shop) on drums and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Hill (Pavo Pavo). While hints of influences like Loretta Lynn, John Fahey and Townes Van Zandt peek out of the corners of the songs, this album is not a nostalgic affair. Rather it marks the emergence of an artist fully coming into their own.

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The KVB  –  Only Now Forever

The KVB release their sixth album, entitled Only Now Forever via Invada Records. Whilst holding evident inspiration from previous times, the sound this London-founded duo present is progressive and distinctly new in every sense. Idyllic at times; gritty in others, each bar is as enchanting as the last, leaving you in a melancholic trance. Offering poignant lyricism that explores modern anxieties that plague many, the duo manage to imbue feelings of empowerment, fighting such struggles with a deceivingly sanguine sound. This seamless juxtaposition is perhaps their best trait. Will appeal to fans of Depeche Mode, The Soft Moon, New Order, Nine Inch Nails and My Bloody Valentine.

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The KVB  –  Of Desire

The fifth album from UK darkwave duo The KVB is released on Invada Records. Of Desire is Kat Day and Nicholas Wood’s second release on Portishead member Geoff Barrow’s Bristol-based label. It follows a string of releases for operations like Downwards, Minimal Wave sublabel Cititrax and Ukraine’s ~taqueOT, most of which explored a moody shoegaze aesthetic. The recording of In Deep saw the The KVB raid Portishead and BEAK> man Geoff Barrow’s synth collection, as well as roping in Sonic Boom to master it. Their most fully formed record and considered in terms of dynamics, arrangements and instrumentation, taking in influences such as Death In Vegas, Scott Walker and Roxy Music, The KVB have managed to create something that is at once familiar and yet inventive and original.

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Cocteau Twins – Treasure Hiding: The Fontana Years

There was perhaps a sense, after a while, that the world was taking The Cocteau Twins for granted. Late Eighties reviews had routinely described them as The Voice of God, yet 4AD, concerned that we’d get tired of appreciating the rarefied genius which shimmered in front of our noses, would keep reminding us that they were truly special. The irony was that The Cocteaus were themselves evolving, morphing, reconstituting and taking on new shapes. This wasn’t widely registered at the time. It can be now, as The Fontana Years demonstrates a musical marvel which still makes your ears feel like they’re sucking citrus fruits after years of licking ashtrays, while the rings of Saturn crash-land in your front room. This 4-CD set brings together the two albums the band recorded for Fontana along with B-Sides, EP’s, Radio One sessions and the odd rarity. The set was mastered at Abbey Road from the original tapes and approved by Robin Guthrie. Housed in a study box designed by James Issacs – the booklet contains photos a discography from the era as well as a sleeve note by noted author Chris Roberts.

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Beta Band  –  The Three Eps (20th Anniversary Remaster)

Arguably one of the most acclaimed and loved bands of the past 20 years, by both fans and their musical peers alike, The Beta Band formed in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1996. Innovative and singular, their unique musical and aesthetic approach to everything they did set them far apart from their musical contemporaries. Together for a relatively short period of time, the three albums and three EPs they released between 1996 and 2004 would nonetheless help define them as one of the most exciting and cherished bands of their generation. After acquiring the Beta Band’s catalogue last year, Because Music reissue their releases, with a double vinyl edition featuring the EPs Champion Versions, The Patty Patty Soundand Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos with remastered tracks and coloured vinyls, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1998 compilation.

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Tokyo Police Club  – TPC

If the universe had tilted the tiniest bit, there would be no TPC – the not-quite self-titled fourth (and best) Tokyo Police Club album. By 2016, singer-bassist and chief songwriter Dave Monks had settled into life in New York City; he made a solo record and did some co-writing. Drummer Greg Alsop was living and working in L.A. Keyboard player Graham Wright and guitarist Josh Hook remained in the band’s native Canada. Tokyo Police Club created songs via e-mail, thinking they had enough natural chemistry and experience to make that setup work. But eventually, the lack of friction meant there was less musical spark, and it dawned on everybody that the end was near. There was resignation, not anger, when Wright, Alsop, and Hook told Monks they were done with the band. After putting aside the idea of splitting up and back-burnering their commercial expectations, there was just one thing left to do: go to church. Specifically a church in rural Ontario, where the foursome could recapture the energy of their early years by playing in a room together. Songs that Monks had written were abandoned when they didn’t feel right for this new energy, and TPC started to take shape, built on camaraderie and esprit de corps.

Monks’ friends could once again help shape his songs into TPC songs, and the batch that ended up on the record aren’t quite like anything they’d done before. Album opener New Blues signals that Tokyo Police Club doesn’t need a racing tempo to introduce themselves; Pigs takes a sneering look at record-business politics; Simple Dude is unabashedly horny. Not giving a fuck—or, more accurately, only giving a fuck about those things closest to your heart—paid off. It’s the channeling of energy, which flows into every song on TPC, that makes the record their best. They’re through being cool, through doubting themselves, and through wasting time on ancillary things. TPC is self-titled, almost, because it’s Tokyo Police Club circa 2018—scarred but smarter, fully re-energized.

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Peter Holsapple vs Alex Chilton – The Death Of Rock

Newly discovered recordings of early solo Peter Holsapple and Like Flies On Sherbert–era Alex Chilton. Liner notes by Peter Holsapple and author / filmmaker, Robert Gordon. Previously unseen photos from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer. It’s 1978 at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, TN. Peter Holsapple had rolled into town chasing the essence of Big Star. He hooked up with musician / engineer / friend-of-Big-Star, Richard Rosebrough after approaching, and being turned down by, Chris Bell who Holsapple had hoped might be interested in producing him. Together Richard and Peter started laying down tracks during the off hours at the studio. Chilton meanwhile, was knee deep in the making ofLike Flies On Sherbert, also being tracked at Phillips. He told Peter, “I heard some of that stuff you’re working on with Richard . . . and it really sucks.” Alex promised to come by and show Peter “how it’s done.” The results? Alex’s tracks definitely line up with the chaos found on Flies, while several of Peter’s songs found homes on The dB’s albums (Bad Reputationand We Were Happy There) and on an album by The Troggs (The Death Of Rock retooled as I’m In Control), so not a loss at all. What we have in these newly discovered tapes, is a fascinating pivot point with both artists moving past each other headed in distinctly different directions. Chilton moved toward punk/psychobilly as he began playing with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and produced The Cramps debut, Songs The Lord Taught Us, within a few months of these recordings. Holsapple was off to New York to audition for The dB’s and enter the world of “sweet pop.” Liner notes by Peter Holsapple tell the story of these recordings firsthand and author / filmmaker / Memphian, Robert Gordon, helps pull the time and place into focus. Previously unseen photos included in the package are drawn from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer. Produced by Cheryl Pawelski with mastering by Mike Graves at Osiris Studio and Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl / Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, who brings it all right back to where it started.

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John Hiatt  –  The Eclipse Sessions

The Eclipse Sessions, John Hiatt’s newest album, offers up his strongest set of songs in years. Long celebrated as a skilled storyteller and keen observer of life’s twists and turns, Hiatt can get at the heart of a knotty emotion or a moment in time with just a sharp, incisive lyric or witty turn of phrase. The 11 tracks presented in The Eclipse Sessions, from the breezy opener Cry To Meto the stark Nothing In My Heart, the lost-love lamentation Aces Up Your Sleeve to the rollicking Poor Imitation Of God, demonstrate that the singer-songwriter, now 66, is only getting better with age, his guitar playing more rugged and rootsy, his words wiser and more wry. Hiatt goes all in with The Eclipse Sessions. There’s a grit to these songs – a craggy, perfectly-imperfect quality that colours every aspect of the performances, right down to Hiatt’s vocals, which are quite possibly his most raw and expressive to date. “They ain’t pretty, that’s for sure,” he says about the creaks and cracks that punctuate his phrases in songs like Poor Imitation Of God and One Stiff Breeze. “But I don’t mind a bit. All the catches and the glitches and the gruffness, that sounds right to me. That sounds like who I am.” The Eclipse Sessions is the sound of an artist not only living in but also capturing the moment.

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Spacemen 3 – Forged Prescriptions

Forged Prescriptions is a double album by Spacemen 3, containing alternative takes and demo versions of songs from their album The Perfect Prescription, plus some previously unreleased tracks. In his liner notes

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Jeff Buckley –  Live In Pilton UK, June 24, 1995

Recorded in Pilton, Somerset, England at the legendary Glastonbury Festival – running nearly 50 years now, since 1970 – on June 24, 1995, this is one of Jeff Buckley’s most famous live recordings. Raw, heavy, heartfelt, and deeply emotional, the set is comprised almost entirely of Buckley originals, mostly off of 1994’s Grace as well as one unreleased track and an unexpected cover of the MC5. Required live listening for any fan of this great 90s artist gone way too soon, who left only a small but nearly perfect legacy of recorded music.

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The Rolling Stones – The BBC Sessions 1963-1965

Amazing early live BBC recordings from The Rolling Stones, even including recordings made before the release of their first record. Essential stuff for any fan of the greatest rock and roll group of all-time, including a ton of their great early R&B and blues cover versions! Including early Stones classic covers like Memphis, TN, It’s All Over Now, and Hi-Heel Sneakers, this is a party on wax. Nothing beats early Stones with Mick and Keith wailing and the band as amped up as they ever were! Classic.

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Small Faces – The BBC Sessions 1965-1966

Collecting some of their earliest BBC sessions onto one disc this is Steve Marriott and his Small Faces at their absolute rocking R&B rave up best. Featuring classic originals like Watcha Gonna Do About It, E Too D, and Understanding, as well as killer covers of Motown and Otis Redding, this set is guaranteed to get you go-go’ing on the dancefloor. The greatest UK blue eyed R&B group of all-time at their live best.

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The Kinks – The BBC Sessions 1964-1967

Spanning tracks from the classic 1964 self-titled debut to their 1967 masterpiece Something Else by the Kinks, this collection features nearly two dozen Kinks klassics, recorded live on the BBC. With stunning sound quality and a near perfect group of songs, hear the Davies Bros and Co. at their live, raw best. From the psych-pop brilliance of David Watts to the foot-pounding R&B of All Day And All Of The Night this collection runs the full spectrum of The Kinks’ sound. Essential live cuts from one of the top British Invasion and psychedelic era groups!

This Weeks Releases —-
Anna St. Louis – If Only There Was A River – Woodist
Daniel Brandt – Channels – Erased Tapes (Indie Exclusive)
John Grant – Love Is Magic – Bella Union (Deluxe)
Kurt Vile – Bottle It In – Matador (Indie Exclusive)
Yves Tumor – Safe In The Hands Of Love – Warp
Factory Floor – A Soundtrack For A Film – Heart Of Data (Indie Exclusive)
A Certain Ratio – The Graveyard & The Ballroom – Muts (Indie Exclusive)
Silicon Teens – Music For Parties – Mute
William Basinski & Lawrence English – Selva Oscura – Temporary Residence (Indie Exclusive)
Goatman – Rhythms – Rocket Recordings (Indie Exclusive)
Groundhogs – Blues Obituary – Fire Records (Indie Exclusive)
The Fall – I Am Kurious Orange – Beggars Banquet
Eric Random – A Boy Alone – Dark Entries
Talking Drums – Courage – Dark Entries
Cyrnai – To Subtle Drive – Dark Entries
Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe – Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe – A Recordings
Holger Czukay – Rome Remains Rome – Gronland
Holger Czukay – Der Osten Ist Rot – Gronland
Haley – Pleasureland – Memphis Industries (Indie Exclusive)
Exek – A Casual Assembly – Superior Viaduct

 

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Fucked Up Inside is the first live album ever issued by Spiritualized, it was originally released as a limited edition (1,000) mail order only LP in 1993. Recorded on tour in 1992 while supporting Spritualized’s debut release Lazer Guided Melodies this is the first album to document the power of the band live and has long been an out of print collector’s item since it’s initial release. Includes three songs from Lazer Guided Melodies, two from the future Spiritualized album Pure Phase, plus the Spacemen 3 favourite Walking With Jesus. The live recordings come from the Crest Theatre in San Diego and the Hollywood Palladium in L.A. on the nights of 19th and 21st November 1992 on the North American Rollercoaster tour with the Jesus and Mary Chain and Curve.

Yeah! Re-mastered by John Rivers at Woodbine Studios especially for vinyl release. This is a milky clear coloured heavyweight 180 gram vinyl LP in an embossed and hot foil finished sleeve. Spacemen 3 heads should also check out the ‘Taking Drugs To Make Music..’ coloured vinyl and the Spectrum Record Store Day other releases..

Spiritualized – 06 – Shine A Light (Clear Light/Clear Rush) [live]. From the 1993 live and now out of print album Fucked Up Inside. It was originally available only via mail order, now reissued for Record Store Day 2018.

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Huge release List this week and the big reissue of the week is  St. Jude by Manchester darlings, The Courteeners, plus grab a listen to the beautifully accomplished LP and CD version of the acoustic reworks of the very same album. It’s a testament to their flexibility that the instruments can be stripped back and still be every bit as anthemic . Daniel Avery, whilst not necessarily rocking the spring vibes, has kept his sound concise and melodic, with a few surprises thrown in there for good measure on his latest, ‘Song For Alpha’. Goat Girl have blown all of us away with their rocking but finely balanced blend of punk rock, garage and indie rock and/or roll. It’s a superb debut album, and one that will be played for a long time to come catch them on tour this week.

There’s the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra album too, it is everything you’d expect. Riffs, brilliantly athletic vox and grooves throughout, all bolstered by their singular instrumental style. Another stormer in this week is the new one from Hinds, pitting their snarling three-part vocal onslaught against the clashing, fuzzed-out guitars and snappy, insistent drums, much like in their previous iteration, but injected with the experience of dealing with and touring their hit debut album.

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Goat Girl  –  Goat Girl

Across 19 tracks in just 40 minutes, Goat Girl’s self-titled debut creates a half-fantasy world out of a very dirty, ugly city reality.

Goat Girl belong to a burgeoning, close-knit south London scene, born in venues like The Windmill in Brixton and including bands like Shame, Bat-Bike, Madonnatron, Horsey, Sorry, and many more. “We help each other – I put you on, you put me on – because we genuinely like each other’s music. We’d played gigs all over before but never really settled in a comfortable environment, which is what The Windmill is. It’s an important place for us, it was the first space that our music made sense to exist within. It’s a safe space where music is genuinely listened to and appreciated, and where laws and licensing haven’t reached over to ruin the venue.”

This live freedom enabled the band to think without constraints when it came to recording. Goat Girl enlisted producer Dan Carey (The Kills, Bat For Lashes, Franz Ferdinand) to help them capture their vision, set a goal to write and record a piece of music in a day in effort to capture that raw first-creation moment, and chose to record to tape.

It’s a very English album — sharp-eyed observations like The Kinks, louche rage like The Slits — but it’s also full of swampy, swaggering guitars and singer Lottie’s filthy drawl. Each member brings a diverse range of influences and contributions, ranging from krautrock to bossa nova, jazz to blues. They resist being boxed in to an indie, guitar-based genre, and focused intensely on the layers and textures of each song as well as the different contexts they could sit within.

The result, Goat Girl, succeeds in conjuring a complete world all unto itself, and is arranged in segments — divided by improvised interludes — that offer glimpses of an even stranger parallel universe. With each song acting as its own story of sorts that features different settings and characters, listeners are transported therewithin. It’s dark yet cheeky, varied yet cohesive, and striking in its vision; this world is populated by creeps and liars, lovers, dreamers, and wonderful lunatics. Lead single “Cracker Drool” is at once jaunty and sinister, a foreboding tale full of swirling guitar, echoing vocals and synthetic drum hits that stumbles and gurgles straight into “Slowly Reclines,” an equally menacing and considerably heavier track. “Creep” is, predictably and grimly enough, inspired by actual events: Creep on the train / I really want to smash your head in.

On “Country Sleaze,” she sings about sex in a way that embraces visceral reality and defeats shame. “If you say you’re sexually free, as a woman, society still deems that a bad thing. But really it’s a beautiful thing to be confident in yourself – to know that you can have sex and it doesn’t have to mean anything and that doesn’t make you a bad person.” Ellie smiles: “That song is quite disgusting, in a good way. It’s not trying to be nice, it’s not a love song.” Goat Girl is altogether an album crafted with intention, and invites imaginations to run wild; it draws listeners in to its half-fantasy world from the slow fade, eerie instrumental intro “Salty Sounds,” to the gorgeous, unsettling closer “Tomorrow” — a rendition of the song featured in Bugsy Malone — which ends with dawn-chorus birds and the feeling of new possibilities after a long and messy night.

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The Shacks  –   Haze

One of the best debut albums of 2018. Fronted by 19-year-old singer / bassist Shannon Wise and 21-year-old guitarist / producer Max Shrager, The Shacks are already well on their way to becoming one of the year’s big breakouts, and their remarkable debut album, Haze, solidifies their status as a band with ability to deliver on the well-deserved buzz.

Produced together by Shrager and Big Crown co-founder Leon Michels (who’s played with Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Fields in addition to working with The Arcs, Lana Del Rey, and countless others), the album was recorded in bits and pieces between Shrager’s basement and Michels’ Diamond Mine studio, which the Observer dubbed “the Shangri La of Soul.” Haze opens with the title track, which is, appropriately enough, the first song Shrager and Wise ever wrote together. It’s a spare, smoky tune that shimmers and sparkles as it shifts in and out of focus, and it’s an ideal gateway into the immersive world of The Shacks.

The 13 songs featured on Haze plays out like the soundtrack to some long lost 16mm film, beckoning you into their grainy, saturated world of analog beauty. In the short time that they’ve been together, The Shacks have already made an impressive mark. Their hypnotic cover of Ray Davies’ This Strange Effect soundtracked a global iPhone commercial, one which actually stars Wise herself, and their self-titled EP earned the band dates with St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Chicano Batman, and their Big Crown Records label mates Lee Fields and The Expressions.

3CD – Rough Trade Exclusive Version. CD one is the album. On the second CD is The Shacks Self-Titled EP, Selections Previously Issued Only On 7″ Vinyl And Complete Instrumentals From Haze. And on CD three is the Rough Trade exclusive bonus 9 track CD – The Shacks EP Instrumentals.

LP+ – Rough Trade Exclusive. 1000 Copies only on Coke Clear Vinyl with Download (featuring just the main album) and Rough Trade Bonus CD.

LP – Black Vinyl with Download (featuring just the main album) and Rough Trade Bonus CD.

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Island  –  Feels Like Air

Following the release of their hypnotic new single Try, the London-based Island release their debut album Feels Like Air on Beatnik Creative and French Kiss Records. Mellow, not melancholy, their deep rhythms roll with light and shade that’s uplifting and makes you want to move, but no sooner will have you stood still and beguiled in their scenic musicality. It’s totally captivating, hypnotic and emotional. It mixes the intensity and stadium filling potential of U2 with delicate soundscapes and an intense, throaty vocalist.

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Son Volt  –   Search – Deluxe

Led by the songwriting and vocals of Jay Farrar, Son Volt was one of the most instrumental and influential bands in launching the alt-country movement of the 1990’s. Originally released in 2007, and out of print for the past several years, this deluxe reissue of The Search features bonus content. The Search takes Jay Farrar’s signature juxtapositions of the arcane and the modern to provocative extremes, contrasting the blue highways of a disappearing cultural landscape with a perilous world in which the center no longer holds – a world of information overload, of clueless leaders carrying out sinister agendas, of “Hurricanes in December – earthquakes in the heartland / Bad air index on a flashing warning sign,” as the artist sings ruefully on The Picture. The Search’s 14 songs locate and vividly portray the prevailing modes of the human condition in the first decade of the 21st century: cynicism (Beacon Soul), reflection (The Search), restlessness (L Train, Highways and Cigarettes), yearning (Adrenaline and Heresy), paranoia (Automatic Society), despair (Methamphetamine) and conditional hopefulness (Underground Dream, Phosphate Skin). By turns melancholy and exhilarating, the album further cements Farrar’s status as one of rock’s most eloquent chroniclers of contemporary existence.

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Haley Heynderickx’s   –  I Need to Start a Garden

Haley Heynderickx’s highly anticipated debut album. Haley has a wonderful voice and the lyrics are poetic and heartfelt. Musically it’s sometimes reminiscent of early Velvet Underground in that many of the songs quickly build into frenetic and emotive climaxes. The difference here is that these crescendos dissolve into tender moments of unabashed vulnerability, rather than fragmenting into splinters of drug-fueled confusion. It’s beautiful and heartfelt. For fans of Velvet Underground, Angel Olsen and Cat Power.

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Eels  –  The Deconstruction

After a four year wait, Eels release their highly-anticipated new album The Deconstruction via E Works. “Here are 15 new Eels tracks that may or may not inspire, rock, or not rock you. The world is going nuts. But if you look for it, there is still great beauty to be found. Sometimes you don’t even have to look for it. Other times you have to try to make it yourself. And then there are times you have to tear something apart to find something beautiful inside.” Eels singer-songwriter E (Mark Oliver Everett).

2×10″ – Double Translucent 33rpm Yellow Vinyl.

2LP – Double 45rpm Translucent Pink Vinyl Deluxe Boxset. Printed box on uncoated paper. CD Digitpack. 28 page perfect bound lyric booklet with exclusive photos. 12” artwork print. A4 digital handwritten Rusty Pipes lyrics signed by E and E Tip and Strip pen.

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King Crimson  –  Live in Vienna, December 1st 2016

Three CDs featuring the complete concert from Vienna on Dec. 1st 2016 mixed from the original multi-track tapes. CDs Presented in concert sequence with discs 1 and 2 featuring the complete first and second sets. CD 3 features Vienna encores plus the long awaited live recorded debut of Fracture by the 2016 line-up as performed in Copenhagen. CD3 also features a series of soundscapes edited into newly sequenced pieces. Drawn from the introduction music (composed / improvised afresh for each night) and featuring Robert Fripp, Mel Collins and Tony Levin, this essential component of current live King Crimson shows also receives its most complete presentation to date. Presented in a 4 fold-out digifile package with 16 pages booklet featuring tour photos and notes by David Singleton and housed in a slipcase

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Zola Jesus  –  Okovi – Additions

Limited Gray and Black Starburst Vinyl. Zola Jesus’ Okovi: Additions LP offers a new angle on her 2017 album, Okovi. The collection pairs four previously unreleased songs from the Okovi sessions with four remixes by a diverse cast of artists. Johnny Jewel turns Ash to Bone into a late-night cinematic torch song, Tri Angle Records composer Katie Gately’s Siphon is a dark choir of warping angels, black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room’s take on Exhumed makes the pounding industrial anthem even denser and heavier, and Toronto producer Joanne Pollock (formerly one half of Poemss with Venetian Snares’ Aaron Funk) makes Soak feel like an aching classical standard – until it starts warping in on itself and goes somewhere else entirely. The songs on Additions traverse a vast amount of sonic ground, but taken together, they cohere remarkably well as an album, all while serving to enrich the experience of Okovi.

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Fenne Lily  –  On Hold 

Over the last couple of years Fenne Lily has made a real name for herself as a songwriter, surpassing over 30 million streams for her five self-released singles and supporting the likes of Marlon Williams, Charlie Cunningham and many more across Europe. Despite the first song she wrote at the age of 15 proving an almost instant hit upon release, she’s not rushed into releasing her debut collection, instead taking time to perfect her songs and develop her sound while living in Bristol and continuing to perform around the continent. Deciding she wanted to get out of the city to record the album, Fenne travelled to see some musical friends on The Isle of Wight where she formed a band and recorded a number of tracks in a basement studio with upcoming producer James Thorpe. Returning to Bristol to finish the tracks with long-time collaborator Dave Dixon (Tamu Massif) and Ali Chant (Youth Lagoon, Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey) her debut album has taken shape and is now ready for release.

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Hop Along –  Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Written over the course of 2016 and 2017 and recorded in the summer of the latter year by Frances Quinlan (songwriter/vocalist/rhythm guitar), Tyler Long (bass), Joe Reinhart (guitar), and Mark Quinlan (drums), the album addresses disappointment, particularly in man’s misuse of power, and relates accounts from the periphery — one’s attempts to retreat from the lengthening shadows of tyrants, both historical and everyday. It considers what it’s like to cast off longheld and misguided perceptions, yet without the assurance of knowing what new ones will replace them. Much like on Hop Along’s first and second records, Get Disowned and Painted Shut, Quinlan seeks in real time to work through these issues.

Throughout the album, one gets the sense that Quinlan is wandering in the thicket of a forest—a state of being that will feel familiar to long time listeners—and on this outing, she hasn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs behind her. The album’s artwork, which Quinlan painted herself, invites the listener into that forest, as well. “There is a terror in getting lost,” she says, “the woods are at the same time beautiful and horrifying.” This curious wandering gives the album, both lyrically and musically, a heightened dimensionality.

Bark Your Head Off, Dog is, without question, Hop Along’s most dynamic and textured record yet. Self-produced and recorded at The Headroom in Philadelphia by Reinhart and Kyle Pulley, Bark Your Head Off, Dog features the familiar sounds that have always made the band allergic to genre: grunge, folk, punk, and power pop all appear, with inspiration from ELO to Elvis Costello to ‘70s girl group vocal arrangements. This time around, they’ve added strings, more intricate rhythms, lush harmonies (featuring Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian), along with a momentary visit with a vocoder. In more than one place, Mark Quinlan drums like he’s at a disco with Built to Spill.

Most significantly, Bark Your Head Off, Dog shows the band at its strongest and most cohesive. Hop Along (which originally began as Quinlan’s solo project under the moniker Hop Along, Queen Ansleis) has never sounded so deliberate, so balanced. “So strange to be shaped by such strange men” is a line that repeats on more than one song on the album. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot. That I just deferred to men throughout my life,” Quinlan says. “But by thinking you’re powerless, you’re really robbing yourself. I’m at a point in my life where I’m saying instead, ‘Well, what can I do?’”

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Wye Oak –  The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs

The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs – the triumphant fifth album by Wye Oak – begins with an explosion. For a few seconds, piano, drums, and a playful keyboard loop gather momentum; then, all at once, they burst, enormous bass flooding the elastic beat. “Suffering, I remember suffering,” sings Jenn Wasner, her voice stretched coolly across the tizzy. “Feeling heat and then the lack of it, but not so much what the difference is.” The moment declares the second coming of Wye Oak, a band that spent more than a decade preparing to write this record – their most gripping and powerful set of songs to date, built with melodies, movement, and emotions that transcend even the best of their catalogue. Louder is the third record that Wasner and Andy Stack, who launched Wye Oak in Baltimore, have made while living in separate cities – she in Durham, North Carolina, he in Marfa, Texas. They flew to one another for a week or so at a time, hunkering in home studios to sort through and combine their separate song sketches. These shorter stints together produced less second-guessing and hesitation in their process, yielding an unabashed and unapologetic Wye Oak. The result is the biggest, broadest, boldest music they’ve ever made. Louder pursues a litany of modern malaises, each track diligently addressing a new conflict and pinning it against walls of sound, with the song’s subject and shape inextricably and ingeniously linked.

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Mien  –  Mien

Debut album by MIEN, the exciting new four piece band comprised of The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horrors’ Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham. The seeds were sown for this collaboration as long ago as 2004, when Rishi Dhir (Elephant Stone) found himself in a chance encounter with Black Angels frontman Alex Maas whilst performing sitar with his former band on a bill at SXSW in Austin with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Not long afterwards, he would also stumble across electronics guru and producer John Mark Lapham from Anglo-American band The Earlies, via a shared love for one song – the ‘classic sitar banger’ by The Association, ‘Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’.

Some years later, another piece of the puzzle came into place, when Dhir was now playing bass with The Black Angels in 2012, and found the band sharing several bills with The Horrors. Thus he made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and yet another pact was made to work together. Several traversals of the globe by both plane and audio-file later, the result is an album that sees this quartet transcending their origins whilst maintaining a cohesive unity borne of a desire for outward exploration.

John Mark’s vision, as he puts it, was “imagine the Black Angels as Nico in her 80’s industrial phase mixed with George Harrison and Conny Plank.” – true to form, it’s an album that finds equal room for radiant groove-based propulsion and ambient dreamscapes alike – as comfortable with the murky hallucinogenic voyage of ‘You Dreamt’ as the powerful widescreen sweep of ‘(I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting’, yet with songwriting acumen as potent as the production values are expansive and exploratory. This may have been a record put together at a distance – yet the chemistry between these four figures is manifest amidst a kaleidoscopic series of atmospheres and excursions whereby the fertile songwriting of the golden age of ‘60s psychedelia is transmitted into a transcendental realm above and beyond the second decade of the 21st century.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra  –  Sex and Food

Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielson’s fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex and Food. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex and Food is a practical musical travelogue, with local musicians from the countries that Neilson and his band visited pitching in throughout.

Sex and Food is the most eclectic and expansive Unknown Mortal Orchestra release yet, from the light-footed R&B of Hunnybee to the stomping flange of Major League Chemicals. If You’re Going to Break Yourself and Not in Love We’re Just High chronicle the effects of drugs and addiction on personal relationships, while the lyrics Ministry of Alienation drip with modern-day paranoia like the silvery guitar tones that jewel the song’s structure. The modern world, and all the thorny complications that come with living in it, loomed large on Ruban’s mind while making Sex and Food. A statement of selflessness, to be sure-but make no mistake: Sex and Food reaffirms the vitality of Ruban’s voice in today’s musical landscape.

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The Courteeners  –  St Jude Re:Wired

Courteeners mark the 10th anniversary of their debut album with a new, fully re-recorded version of the seminal record. St Jude Re:Wired has been produced by Liam and Joe Cross. Originally released in April 2008, St Jude charted at no 4 in its first week and went on to win the inaugural Guardian First British Album award, beating albums by Duffy, Adele and Glasvegas. The record saw Courteeners present to the world outside a first set of songs that perfectly soundtracked modern life in the UK.

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Suede  –  Suede – 25th Anniversary Edition

Brett Anderson believes that Suede’s debut album, winner of the Mercury Music Prize in 1993, probably has more cultural resonance than any other of their albums, as a pre-cursor to Britpop and a supplanter of grunge. It is also home to four ground-breaking singles. This deluxe edition features the album; the b-sides; a CD of demos, monitor mixes (several previously unreleased) and the band’s first BBC radio session, arranged chronologically; plus a concert from February 1993. The DVD features six contemporary TV performances (including their first ever TV appearance), and an hour-long film of Brett and Bernard Butler discussing the writing and recording of the album, all issued for the first time. Also included is a new note by Brett about his memories of the recording of the album, along with the lyrics, hand-written lyric drafts, tape boxes, and photos from the band’s collections.

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Love  –  Forever Changes (50th Anniversary Edition)

Love’s Forever Changes is the psychedelic folk-rock pioneers’ finest achievement. Mostly overlooked when it was released in 1967, today the album is considered an indispensable masterpiece. In 2008, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and – in 2012 – the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry. Love celebrate the acclaimed album’s golden anniversary with an extensive 4CD / DVD / LP collection housed in a beautifully illustrated 12 x 12 hardbound book that features a newly written essay and track-by-track notes by music historian Ted Olsen. Recorded during the Summer of Love in Hollywood, CA, Forever Changes is the group’s most fully realized studio effort, featuring Arthur Lee (vocals, guitar), Johnny Echols (lead guitar), Bryan MacLean (rhythm guitar, vocals), Ken Forssi (bass) and Michael Stuart (drums, percussion). The original album introduced classics like Andmoreagain, Red Telephone, A House Is Not A Motel and Alone Again Or. The set features a few firsts for the album, including the CD-debut of a remastered version made by its original co-producer and engineer Bruce Botnick, as well as the first-ever release of the mono version on CD. Also included are alternate mixes of the album, as well as a selection of rare and unreleased singles and studio outtakes. Botnick’s stereo remaster of the original album makes its vinyl debut on the LP included with this set. It was cut from high resolution digital audio by celebrated audio engineer Bernie Grundman. The DVD that accompanies the anniversary collection includes a 24/96 stereo mix of the album version of the original album remastered by Botnick. Also featured is Your Mind And We Belong Together, a rare promotional video directed by Elektra producer Mark Abramson that was originally released in 1968. Forever Changes: 50th Anniversary Edition boasts more than a dozen rarities, including single versions of Alone Again Or and A House Is Not A Motel that are available now for the first time since 1967. Two other recordings on the set have never been released: the backing track for Live And Let Live and an outtake backing track for

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Spacemen 3 –  Recurring

The fourth and final Spacemen 3 studio album Recurring; the follow up to their seminal Playing with Fire album. By the time the album was recorded, relations between the band had soured to the extent that the record is essentially in two parts; the first seven tracks written and performed by Sonic Boom a.ka. Peter Kember (Spectrum / E.A.R.), and the last seven tracks written and performed by Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) punctuated by the cover version of Mudhoney’s When Tomorrow Hits the only track on which both Kember and Pierce appear together.

CD – Presented in a shrink-wrapped 6 panel fold out card wallet featuring the original vibrant cover artwork used on the original US release of this album.

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Richmond Fontaine  –  Don’t Skip Out On Me

Richmond Fontaine and Deline’s singer / songwriter, Willy Vlautin releases his fifth novel, Don’t Skip Out On Me on Feb 1 2018 (Faber and Faber). Like his previous novel Northline it will have an accompanying soundtrack included with the book on CD. While the CD will be included with the book, Décor release the album on vinyl. Don’t Skip Out on Me is magnificent. Willy Vlautin is now one of America’s great writers.’ The Don’t Skip Out on Me soundtrack was recorded early 2017 just after the band called it quits on their final European tour.

LP – 180 Gram vinyl – limited edition of 1000 copies.

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Katie Von Schleicher  –  Glad To Be Here

Glad To Be Here / Party Dawn is the first material the Brooklyn-based songwriter has shared since her critically acclaimed debut album, Shitty Hits, last year. Katie said the following about the tracks: “On a break from touring this winter I went alone to Maryland, where I am originally from, and made these two songs, taking the gear I’ve very happily accrued since making my album Shitty Hits. I built a fire, I set up my gold drum kit, I saw a ton of stars and felt smashed by silence, and it was lonely, so I made these songs. Glad to Be Here is where I find myself right now. Party Dawn is tied to Maryland, to my friend and our adolescence. Both are a bridge toward the subject matter of my next record. Back in New York, my collaborator Adam Brisbin (Sam Evian, Jolie Holland, Buck Meek) contributed guitar and bass, and Julian Fader (Ava Luna, Frankie Cosmos, Nadine, Palehound) mixed it.”

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The Lucid Dream  –  SX1000

Very limited 12’’ single in yellow disco bag, single sided. The Lucid Dream return in April with the release of new single SX1000, the first taster from the recently completed 4th album. The track is a slice of pure acid house, and will again see them acknowledged for venturing into pastures new, setting themselves apart from ‘genres’, ‘scenes’ or what any other band are currently doing. SX1000, as with the whole album, was penned over the summer by Mark Emmerson (vocals / guitar / synths), using only the classic Roland 303/808 synths, bass and vocals as tools for writing.
Inspiration for the writing was formed via continuous listening to the Chicago to UK acid house works of 1986-1992, the focus predominantly on the groove. 5 months on from those writing sessions and The Lucid Dream have competed their 4th album in 5 years, this track a perfect indicator as to what awaits. A record made for the dancefloor.

Originally released in February 1989 and after having been out of print on vinyl for nearly 20 years Space Age Recordings are pleased to announce an official limited edition vinyl release of the third and penultimate studio album “Playing with Fire” by Spacemen 3 (Sonic Boom a.ka. Peter Kember (Spectrum / E.A.R.) and Jason Pierce (Spiritualized). Featuring the single “Revolution” first released in November 1988: “one of the best records released by an independent band this year. Adjectives that come to mind are unrelenting, punishing, psychedelic. The razor-blade riffs lead you into a sonic underworld of alienation, desolation and raw power…the band are one of the most interesting around,“a powerful, anthemic “mind-melting crunch”.

Presented in a shrink-wrapped limited edition (1,000 copies only) on heavyweight (180 gram) transparent orange coloured vinyl with printed card inner sleeve exclusively released for Record Store Day 2017.

TRACKLISTING: Side 1: 1. Honey (3:01) 2. Come Down Softly to My Soul (3:46) 3. How Does It Feel? (7:58) 4. I Believe It (3:19) 5. Revolution (5:57) Side 2: 6. Let Me Down Gently (4:29)7. So Hot (Wash Away All of My Tears) (2:38) 8. Suicide (11:03) 9. Lord Can You Hear Me? (4:34)

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Space Age Recordings are pleased to announce the first official limited edition vinyl release of the album “For All The Fucked Children Of This World We Give You Spacemen 3” (Sonic Boom a.ka. Peter Kember (Spectrum / E.A.R.) and Jason Pierce (Spiritualized).“For All the Fucked Up Children” from the neo-psychedelic trio Spacemen 3 was first released as a bootleg record in 1995. The record consists of Spacemen 3’s first ever recording session from 1984.

The music itself sounds like a primitive version of what the group were to become; the dominating sound of the record is a slow, droning psychedelic blues performed with sparse instrumentation. A drum set is matched with a pair of distorted electric guitars, all of which provide a swirling foundation for Jason Pierce’s vocals. The album’s liner notes replicated here are actually an early review of the band by Gary Boldie, where he contemplates the city of Rugby and finds it an odd source for this new sound, and he declares Spacemen 3 as the “all singing, all dancing answer to the problems of a grey 1985.”

Presented in a shrinkwrapped limited edition (1,000 copies only) on heavyweight (180 gram) transparent milky white coloured vinyl with printed card inner sleeve exclusively released for Record Store Day 2017. TRACKLISTING: Side 1: 1. Things’ll Never Be The Same (4:53) 2. 2:35 (2.57) 3. Walkin’ With Jesus (4:03) 4. Fixin’To Die (8.06) Side 2: 5. T.V. Catastrophe (7.18) 6. Things’ll Never Be The Same (alternate mix)(4:40) 7. Walkin’ With Jesus (alternate mix) (4.00)

Space Age Recordings are pleased to announce an official limited edition vinyl release of the fourth and final Spacemen 3 studio album “Recurring”; the follow up to their seminal “Playing with Fire” album. By the time the album was recorded, relations between the band had soured to the extent that the record is essentially in two parts; the first five tracks on side ‘A’ written and performed by Sonic Boom a.ka. Peter Kember (Spectrum / E.A.R.), and the last five tracks on side ‘B’ written and performed by Jason Pierce (Spiritualized). The lead track from the album “Big City” recently featured on the season 27 premiere of ‘The Simpsons’ being the sound track to Homer Simpson’s wild night out on the town, mixing alcohol with prescription drugs.

Presented in a shrink-wrapped limited edition (1,000 copies only) on heavyweight (180 gram) solid red coloured vinyl with printed card inner sleeve exclusively released for Record Store Day 2017.

TRACKLISTING: Side 1: 1. Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here) (edited version) (10:50) 2. Just To See You Smile (Orchestral Mix) (3:19) 3. I Love You (5:32) 4. Set Me Free / I’ve Got the Key (5:11) 5. Set Me Free (Reprise) (1:50) Side 2: 6. Feel So Sad (Reprise) (2:46) 7. Hypnotized (5:57) 8. Sometimes (6:36) 9. Feelin’ Just Fine (Head Full of Shit) (4:33) 10. Billy Whizz / Blue 1 (edited version) (7:33)