Fast Radio – Under My Thumb

Artist: Fast Radio
Single: Under My Thumb
Release: 1983
Genre: Italo

Buying records for a clubnight instead of general listening can be difficult at the best of times. Trying to predict the reception of a track by an ethereal audience, far off in the future, is especially tough when you are buying records you have never heard. Thank goodness for YouTube.
Picking through a Discogs seller list, this one really stuck out: Fast Radio’s “Under My Thumb”.

It’s one of those tracks that isn’t terrible. It isn’t great either. I would go so far as to say that the song doesn’t even exist somewhere in the middle: It is just plain terrifying.
A cover of the Rolling Stones song, it is a disco-pop track that is an abrasive and relentless journey through how to take all emotion and meaning from a classic melody. Think the sounds of Bananarama, if Banarama were replaced by blow-addicted cyborgs belting out karaoke.
Once in a great while I take pleasure in subjecting other listeners to this single. It is easier to suffer together, than alone.

Rating: 7/10
Reviewer: DJ Pasta (original review published in Vanitas #001)

Madame Bovary – Be My Friend (In Spite Of All)

Artist: Madame Bovary
Single: Be My Friend (In Spite Of All)
Release: Unknown (1990?)
Genre: New Wave, minimal

This is a lovely rarity to discover, and one of the first tracks I heard to convince me that Danse Macabre needed more New Wave representation.
Madame Bovary are a French trio, brothers Jean-Philippe and Pascal Alzieu, and Christophe Boulet, who released this single and two albums. Other than that the Alzieu brothers later released a handful of impossible-to-find acid house singles, there is very little information about their work.

Their albums have a much more electronic and polished feel, but this single is raw new wave, through and through. Both sides have a similar sound: familiar minimal drums, scruffy pad-sound keyboards, and broken English lyrics that straddle the boundary between disaffected and disheartened.
Don’t expect to find a copy of it any time soon, though. Most copies online, if they ever surface, go for at least £40!

Rating: 9/10
Reviewer: DJ Catnip (original review published in Vanitas #001)

Ajello – Do The Job (Vol. 2)

Artist: Ajello
Album: Do The Job (Vol. 2)
Release: March 2010
Genre: Disco, italo, electro

Way-back-not-so-way-back-when, I purchased this EP of serious boogie beats wrapped in serious disco re-edits.
I am especially fond of track B2, “Bronze Planet”, an edit of a track called “Silver Planet”. Sounding like Marc Cerrone playing drums over Paul Parker and Patrick Cowley’s “Right On Target”, “Bronze Planet” takes a marching journey through a now classic disco theme.
On the other side of the record: track A1 – Tito’s “Mirage”, is a cracked-out and spacey electro tune. Italian disco is weird, but this the track is downright terrifyingly electronic. I am not familiar with the original track, but Mirage sound like they were influenced by Kraftwerk and four months paid holiday a year.

Rating: 8/10
Reviewer: DJ Pasta (original review published in Vanitas #001)

The Rose Of Avalanche – Always There

Artist: The Rose of Avalanche
Album: Always There
Release: 1986
Genre: Goth, psychedelic, rock

The Rose Of Avalanche deserved to be big. They existed in some eerie zone of psychedelic hard rock with slow-burning goth beats, but to call them just “a goth band” would be to do them a major disservice. Their sound owes more to the Yardbirds than the Mission.

One of the many factors that got in their way was labels completely mismanaging the band, releasing compilations and unfinished material without any input from the group themselves.
This compilation is one of those such records, containing various tracks from the preceding few singles. Disregarding these circumstances, however, “Always There” has barely been off my turntable since I got it.

Three a-sides in particular stand out as gothic highlights: “Always There”, “Velveteen” and their debut “L.A. Rain”, beloved of John Peel.
But delve deeper and you’ll find fuzzbox-fuelled rock-and-roll rhythms, including their own take on The Doors’ “Waiting For The Sun”, and the “L.A. Rain” b-side “Rise To The Groove”, in which as Phil Morris spits out rhetoric about how “Little Richard’s crawlin’, knockin’ at the door!” over a serpentine guitar part.

In short: This is an excellent set of tracks from the start of The Rose Of Avalanche’s career, and if you’re into your glam-tinged dark rock, you should definitely check them out.

Rating: 9/10
Recommended Tracks: Always There, L.A. Rain, Too Many Castles In The Sky
Reviewer: DJ Catnip (original review published in Vanitas #001)