Friday, October 27, 2006

Manicured Noise

manicured noiseManchester, England's Manicured Noise formed in 1978, but the very early days of the band remain a mystery. Given their name by prime Manchester scenester Linder, the group peddled a form of spiky and angular jazz/punk. Jeff Noon, acclaimed sci-fi, cyberpunk writer ("Vurt", "Nymphomation") was an early member of the group, adding to the group's retro-futurist edge. Inspired by Television, Talking Heads, August Darnell's Machine, French Soundtracks and Disco Chic along with a nod to Northern Soul and Moroder, the band cut a singular groove. Early hours inspiration from 70’s cop and Kung-Fu soundtracks were incorporated, a good 10 years or more before Massive Attack and Portishead did the same. In doing so, Manicured Noise created a sound that’s still difficult to pin down.

Guitarist and later period frontman Steven Walsh was an ex member of the Flowers of Romance, pre-Pistols vehicle for Sid Vicious, and various members of the Slits and Banshees. Steven brought an experimental and funky ethos to the band.

"Faith" (Pre/Charisma, 1980) was acclaimed on release, its Northern backbeat acknowledging the Manchester debt. A BBC session followed. Then, nothing. As Steven Walsh suggests: “Had we stayed together that little bit longer, who knows what might have been?"

"Northern Stories 1978/80", a Manicured Noise retrospective, will be released October 30th on Caroline True Records. The album collects for the first time almost all of their recordings including their two singles for Pre/Charisma Records, a BBC session and unreleased material.

Manicured Noise was:
Steve Walsh - Vocals and Guitar
Stephanie Nuttall - Drums
Jodie Taylor - Bass
Peter Bannister - Clarinet/Sax
Owen Gavin - Vocalist
Jeff Noon - Guitar

Visit Manicured Noise at MySpace

Go to the download page to get Manicured Noise - "Faith"

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Smirks

[Editor's Note: The following post was contributed by Ian. Contributions are welcome and appreciated. Thanks Ian! - E.A.]

smirksThe Smirks played their first concerts in Manchester in late 1977, but by January 1978 they were spotted at the Stiff Records talent show. The band quickly picked up a management deal, and recorded a session for the John Peel programme in April 1978.

By then, they had signed up to Beserkley Records, and before long released their first single, "OK - UK". Whether a US West Coast record label appreciated a single with the words "California holiday gets on my wick" would later become apparent. The boys continued an extensive touring schedule round the country, playing gigs with famous names like Devo and John Otway.

In the summer of 1978, they played at two festivals in the Netherlands, their only concerts outside England. Simon and the band campaigned for the continuation of live music against the onslaught of disco and the closure of many pubs where live music was played. Although there was serious intent to the campaign, the name "Smirks against Travolta" was also a gentle parody of "Rock against Racism", which the group also supported. The publicity stunt at the London premiere of "Grease" resulted in the arrest of their guitarist, but the case against him collapsed in court.

After the release of their second single "Rosemary", they went into the studio to record their first album, but it was never released as their relationship with their record company, itself struggling, deteriorated. This left the band out of pocket and with no product and no contract. Accordingly, they went out on the road again, promoting a self-recorded EP called "American Patriots" on their own label. The band's sense of humour continued in the face of disaster as they named the tour "Seek Employment".

More touring and more dancing took the band through the rest of 1979 and the first half of 1980, but as it became apparent that success would elude them, the band broke up. Mike went on to some success with The Freshies while Simon now fronts a jazz band. Their bassist now presents an indie music show on a Manchester community radio station.

The Smirks were:
Simon Milner - lead vocal and guitar.
Neil Fitzpatrick - lead guitar and vocals.
Ian Morris - bass and backing vocals.
Mike Doherty - drums.

Visit a fan site containing pictures, press cuttings and numerous downloads here.

Go to the download page to get The Smirks - "American Patriots"

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Slow Children

slow childrenOriginally from Los Angeles, CA the duo of Slow Children, were made up of Pal Shazar (vocals) and Andrew Chinich (vocals/guitar). They released just two albums, the self titled debut "Slow Children" (Ensign/RCA, 1981) and "Mad About Town" (Ensign/RCA, 1982) The albums featured guitar driven pop laced with intellectual lyrics. The albums were mostly produced by Jules Shear and Stephen Hague. Eventually Andrew and Pal ended up living in two different countries, but continued writing songs. Material for a third record was written but not able to make it to vinyl. RCA suggested releasing an EP which Pal and Andrew found offensive. Eventually they grew up and away from one another. Pal began to write songs on her own, eventually married Jules Shear and relocated to Woodstock. NY.

Pal contines to record. Find her latest recording here and visit her website.

Go to the download page to get Slow Children "President Am I" [extended mix]and "Spring In Fialta"[extended mix]