Orange Juice – Rip It Up (Long Version)

Upon it’s release in 1982, Roland initially marketed their TB-303 bassline synthesiser as a tool to provide looped accompaniment for guitarists to practise alone.

The 303 was later repurposed by Chicago DJs and musicians in the emerging house scene, when its distinctive sound would drive its own sub-genre – acid house.

Whilst Phuture’s ‘Acid Trax’ (1987) is recognised as the first acid house record, the definitive TB-303 track came much later, in 1995, in the form of Josh Wink’s ‘Higher State of Consciousness’.

Given this context, it’s a little surprising to that the first chart hit to feature a TB-303 was this mid-tempo single from the Scottish post-punk band Orange Juice.

At the time of its release, the band had actually been in existence for 8 years, initially as the Nu-Sonics, then following line-up changes, under their new name Orange Juice in 1979.

Their debut album, ‘You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever’ reached number 21 in the UK in 1982, but ‘Rip It Up’ was the only one of their 14 singles to break the top 40 (it reached number 8).

‘Rip It Up’ was the second single from the album of the same name, and featured a different sound to the band’s 9 previous singles – more synthesiser-led and with a groove that was quite likely inspired by Nile Rodgers and Chic.

The track itself was written by singer Edwyn Collins, who over a decade later had an even bigger hit as a solo artist with ‘A Girl Like You’.

In another curiosity, ‘Rip It Up’ features a segment of a Buzzcocks guitar riff, from their track ‘Boredom’, which we hear as Collins sings the lyric “my favourite song’s entitled Boredom”.

As for this 12” version, we’re treated to a longer and slightly meatier sounding version on the a-side, and an extended version of the b-side, ‘A Sad Lament’ on the reverse.

The TB-303 bassline, so prominent in the 7″ version is largely absent in the Long Version.

The artwork, drawn by Collins himself, shows a fighter plane with cartoon teeth and eyes, partially submerged in the sea.

‘Rip It Up’ is a record that sounded fresh on its release in 1983, and like many classics, still sounds contemporary today, more than three decades after it was recorded.

Label: Polydor
Cat No: POSPX 547
Year: 1983

Depeche Mode – Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts)

Mute Records was formed in the UK in 1978 by the electronic solo artist Daniel Miller, in order to release one of his own singles through the Rough Trade chain of record stores.

The success of his first single, ’T.V.O.D./Warm Leatherette’ (the latter was later covered by both Grace Jones and Chicks on Speed) meant the label continued, and was soon on a mission to build up its roster.

Miller had watched Depeche Mode perform in London in 1980 when he invited them to record a single for his fledgling label. They agreed, releasing ‘Dreaming of Me’ in early 1981, which didn’t make the top 40.

But Daniel and Mute would very quickly help the band establish themselves as a major act.

Within two years ‘New Life’, ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, ‘See You’, ‘The Meaning of Love’, ‘Leave in Silence’ and ‘Get The Balance Right’ had all made the top 20 in the UK, along with two top 10 albums, ‘Speak & Spell’ and ‘A Broken Flame’.

Despite this prolific spell for both band and label, this release arrived with each experiencing a degree of flux. Depeche Mode keyboard player Vince Clarke had by now left to form Yazoo with Alison Moyet, and the label was rapidly expanding itself in order to be able to continue supporting the band rather than pass duties over to a major label.

Maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising then then that ‘Everything Counts’, the lead single from their forthcoming ‘Construction Time Again’ album, had a markedly different sound to the band’s previous more pure synth-pop singles.

The first notable change was that whilst lead vocalist Dave Gahan sang the verses, songwriter Martin Gore sang the choruses – the first time this clear sharing of vocal duties had occurred.

The track’s subject matter was also new territory for the band, referencing the corporate greed of the era that was also documented in Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’ amongst others.

And finally the use of found and industrial sounds moved the band towards a much harder and grittier sound than the precision electronics Vince Clarke had now migrated across to Yazoo.

A degree of risk in the approach then, but apparently well calculated given that ‘Everything Counts’ became the band’s best charting single worldwide, and provided them with a style that translated very well to lucrative stadium and arena environments.

Indeed, ‘Everything Counts’ very quickly became a crowd favourite both as a show opener and closer on different tours, and a live version, complete with crowd singalong, was released to promote the spectacular live album, film, and photography project ‘101’ six years later.

The band would go from strength to strength after this release of course, with a succession of hugely successful albums and more than 20 more top 20 hits in the UK, and around the world.

Even at the time of writing, more than three decades later, Depeche Mode still regularly sell out stadiums around the world.

As for this 12”, it features a tidily mixed extended version on the A-side. The remix brings to the fore some of the subtler elements of the 7″ mix, and separates vocals in a clearer and more polarised fashion across the stereo spectrum.

The reverse also features just one track, an extended version of the 7” B-side ‘Work Hard’.

Like so many extended mixes from this era, the extended version helps the listener unravel the components of the track and understand a little more about the 7″ arrangement and decisions taken within it. The emergence of these mixes in the early 1980s lifted the slightly on the DNA of the shorter single and album versions, which is in part what makes them such rewarding listens.

We benefit here from the absence of the 7” version or other extra tracks, which means the grooves on both sides are spread across the full width of the available vinyl for just a single track, resulting in a loud and high quality listening experience.

This combined with the sparse hand drawn artwork on a textured matt card sleeve leaves us with a release which is arguably as good as any in representing a truly pivotal time for a band and label that would both go on to become institutions of British electronic music in the 80s, 90s and beyond.

Label: Mute Records
Cat No: 12BONG3
Year: 1983

Happy Mondays – Lazyitis (One Armed Boxer Mix)

This blog is dedicated in the main to 12” singles that feature extended or remixed versions of the original tracks.

And for this single release, Happy Mondays did record a new version of this track, which had originally appeared on their 1988 Bummed album.

But the new “One Armed Boxer” mix appeared on both the 7” and 12” versions of the track, so the benefit of the 12” became the better sound quality resulting from the thicker vinyl and wider grooves, rather than a longer mix.

But the true pleasure in this track is in trying to unravel how it might have come about – and the more you listen, the less clear it becomes.

Most obviously, it lifts vocal melodies from the Beatles’ Ticket To Ride.

But listen more closely and you’ll notice that some of the lyrics in the opening verse are inspired by Sly & The Family Stone’s Family Affair.

Then you have lyrics drawn from the children’s nursery rhyme This Little Piggy Went To Market, and finally, more borrowed lyrics, this time from David Essex’s Gonna Make You A Star.

As if that weren’t enough, for this new version, the band drafted in Scottish singer Karl Denver to duet with the Mondays’ own frontman Shaun Ryder.

But rather than take alternate lines or verses, they sing the track simultaneously, in entirely different styles and with different lyrics.

The resulting mix has no right to be anything other than a total shambles, but instead feels effortlessly beautiful, and has its own unique character.

It’s a piece of music that surely came about by accident rather than design, and you have to feel that producer Martin Hannett’s experience played a huge part in pulling the whole thing together.

Happy Mondays put out some fantastic 12″ singles – it’s likely others will feature in this series as it unfolds – but do any sum up the band’s chaotic charm better than this one?

I’m not sure they do – and what’s more, this feels like one of the tracks that just sounds better on a big thick slab of heavy black vinyl than anywhere else.

Label: Factory
Cat No: FAC222
Year: 1989

Duran Duran – Girls On Film (Night Version)

Duran Duran took the 12” format in a different and unique direction by creating what they referred to as “Night Versions” of each of their early singles.

Like their contemporaries they created reworked extended versions, designed for the dance floor.

But Duran Duran invested a little more in their remixes, by heading back into the studio to record additional parts to include in their new nightclub-friendly versions.

The end result was that rather than simply creating extended versions, Duran Duran’s 12” singles actually had a different feel and a different sound to their 7” equivalents.

“Night Versions” were produced for most of the group’s early singles including Planet Earth, Girls On Film, My Own Way and Hungry Like The Wolf.

The example here is the Night Version of Girls On Film, from 1981, of which two slightly different versions exist, one timed at 5:45, and this one which clocks in at 5:27.

A version of the controversial Girls On Film video was also edited to accompany this remix, the idea being it would be shown in nightclubs with video screens.

With MTV just around the corner, Duran Duran were one of many bands experimenting with the music video format. MTV was actually launched just 3 weeks after the release of Girls On Film.

As for the Night Versions format, Duran Duran moved towards more common re-editing techniques within a couple of years, possibly because rapid advances in technology made remixing so much easier.

But the idea and the name were resurrected by Soulwax in 2005 for their “Nite Versions” album which contained re-recorded dancefloor-friendly versions of tracks from their “Any Minute Now” album, paying homage to Duran Duran’s early 12” singles in both name and format.

And one final piece of trivia regards the track Girls On Film, which was actually written by the band’s previous singer Andy Wickett, who left and was replaced by Simon Le Bon in 1980.

Upon his departure the band paid Wickett £600 to waive his rights to the track, before their new version became Duran Duran’s breakthrough single in 1981, reaching number 5 in the UK chart and become a live favourite for decades to come.

Label: EMI
Cat No: 12EMI5206
Year: 1981

Sunsonic – Driveaway (Masseymix)

High school homework for me meant evenings spent recording acid house, dance and chart tracks off the radio, building libraries of cassettes for more in depth study on my walkman during my twice daily paper rounds.

Midweek was the Evening Session on Radio 1 (1FM as it was known then), and the weekends would be Stu Allan on Key 103 (Manchester) or No Sell Out Live, with Phil Bowker and Davy T on Radio City 96.7 (Liverpool).

I’d have an at least weekly visit to the record shops in the town centre to see what new releases and imports were in stock, and the beauty of being into acid house and dance was much of it didn’t chart, so the genre’s 12” singles would often be in the 99p racks in HMV and Our Price.

Driveaway by Sunsonic featured on one of my most listened to tapes (I still have it) along with a number of other classics of the era, but I never bought this track, and never learned anything about Sunsonic at the time.

They’ve been a mysterious “one hit wonder” band to me for more than 20 years.

The miracle of the internet means I can now learn about them, and purchase the 12” vinyl so for the first time I can hear the full track start to finish.

Back in the day, I was a huge 808 State fan and collector, and the first thing I learn from the sleeve is that the version of Driveaway I loved as a teenager is the “Masseymix” – by Graham Massey of 808 State of course.

Little wonder it connected with me.

Turns out Sunsonic were previously called The Flowerpot Men, and subsequently called Juno Reactor, and the original version of this track was taken from their Melting Down On Motor Angel album.

Juno Reactor signed to Mute Records in the UK before supporting The Orb on tour and have since produced 7 albums and scored music for several hollywood films including The Matrix and Lost In Space.

Not quite the “one hit wonder” I perceived them as then, but either way, this collaboration with Massey is as solid a 12” single as there was from the era and the genre, and whatever may have come afterwards for all involved, this extended reworking is worthy of celebration in its own right.

Label: Polydor
Cat No: PZ103
Year: 1990