I was lucky to enter my teens during the heyday of post punk and new wave, an time when just about anything seemed possible, and new musical genre's and styles seemed to come thick and fast, year on year.
These two records seem to exemplify the 'anything goes' ethic adopted at the time and taken right through much of the 80's underground and the various scenes.
Anyhow, here are two albums which on the surface seem unrelated, but if you give them a spin, you'll see, sonically speaking, they both plough a similar furrow and are enhanced with a little studio trickery to boot.
Gary Clail's Tackhead Tape Time.
First up is a firm fav' pulled from the vinyl racks.
Gary Clail's Tackhead Tape Time was first released in the UK in 1987 and is an album that came to fruition during the birth of sampling. The record is a soundclash of harsh, almost industrial flavoured hip hop and beats onto which are projected an assortment of political samples and and Clail's sung/spoken lyrics. The Wimbush, LeBlanc, McDonald funk machine are perhaps at their sparsest here, but the On-U-Sound vibes of Adrian Sherwood gel it all together with spectacular results.
Tackhead's website has a press release from the time which gives a hint of what this records about...
"Tackhead is both a group and a sound system. Tackhead are Keith LeBlanc, Doug Wimbish, Skip McDonald and Adrian Sherwood, while the 'Sound System' is operated by deranged MC Gary Clail. Keith, Doug and Skip are responsible for some of the best funk rhythms to have come out of the U.S.A. in the last decade having played as the Sugarhill Gang rhythm section and for Tommy Boy (notably Keith's Malcolm X, Beatmaster, etc.) and for countless other producers and labels in New York and New Jersey.
Adrian Sherwood has run his own On-U Sound label for seven years, having issued records with Mark Stewart & Maffia, Prince Far I, African Head Charge, Dub Syndicate, Singers & Players, Lee Perry and many others. He has worked for Depeche Mode, Einst?rzende Neubauten, Simply Red, etc. doing select and original mixes.
Tackhead have collectively recorded and co-produced several exceptional 12" singles and one LP - a masterpiece Major Malfunction, credited to drummer Keith LeBlanc. New album by Tackhead, Friendly as a Hand Grenade is due for release in early 1988.
So, who and what you may ask is Gary Clail's Tackhead Sound System?
The Tackhead Sound System has been operating for just over two years, first appearing with its namesake Tackhead and Mark Stewart & Maffia during their awesome live shows. More than simply adding 'support', the sound system and M.C./operator Gary Clail provide a non-stop assault of unreleased tracks, re-mixes and out-takes of studio recordings made by the Tackhead crew. These tracks are twisted and dubbed live through the P.A. mixing desk while maybe three rhythms, sound effects and chants play simultaneously. During all of this Gary endevours to 'express' himself, usually on a megaphone through the microphone and all done from the P.A. desk in the middle of a club, hall or wherever the show may be.
Some people have called Gary a rapper. Gary is in fact an ex-scaffolder and second-hand Cortina salesman from Bristol, England, and sees his new role as chanter extraordinaire as his true vocation. "
If you think this may be your thang, listen Here.
Clail went on to some critical/popular acclaim and a minor chart success in 1991 with his second solo album 'The Emotional Hooligan'and single 'Beef'. It's dub inflected beats and strong social message, are as apt in today consumer driven society as it was 20 years ago, when we survived in a similar economic climate.
XTC - Explode Together - The Dub Experiments (78-80)
On the surface, you'd expect an XTC record to have nothing to do with the above Tackhead release.
Better known laterly for their Beatle-eque songwriting vibes and originally for their 'new wave' singalongs 'Making Plans For Nigel' and 'Sgt Rock' and their English 'folk' of 'Senses Working Overtime', Explode Together...' is an extraordinary release for the band. Comprising elements of Three Ep's, The first part being a freebie 12" 'GO+' given away with initial copies of the 1978 album 'Go2'. All tracks are dub-versions of tracks from Go 2, respectively: "Meccanik Dancing", "Jumping in Gomorrah", "Battery Brides", "I Am the Audience", and "The Rhythm.
The second and third parts, 'Takeaway' and 'The Lure Of The Savage' are the result of singer Andy Partridge' (Mr Partridge) 1980 solo album 'The Lure Of The Savage'. Again using studio trickery and dub elements, he crafts an interesting, if not always comfortable listen. Both sessions were apparently recorded during studio downtime during the first few XTC releases.
Have a listen Here.