Archive for the ‘Gary Crowley’ Category

My Bloody Valentine

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Listen: Soon / My Bloody Valentine

Alan McGee had invited me down to an early My Bloody Valentine show at London’s ULU during February ’89, just after he’d signed the band to Creation. Seemed like every time I’d get back from the UK, there’d be a good reason to return straight away. New groups literally materialized overnight. It was a dream come true for an A&R rep with a frequent flyer miles addiction.

I timed this visit to take in the latest media invented genre, shoegazing, with My Bloody Valentine being crowned the apparent rulers. I do wish I could recall who else was on the bill that night. I want to say Silverfish and Spiritualized. Regardless, the whole thing was dead boring. Not a flipping song in sight the entire evening. Then and there, I never saw the point of this appropriately described genre. Dreadful stuff.

But fast forward a full year and a half. ‘Soon’ is the band’s new single, one of those records you hadn’t heard of when you left New York, but was everywhere upon arrival in pre-internet July ’90. Gary Crowley played me it that first afternoon. It was even on the car radio when we left his apartment. Just about every office at Island seemed to be blasting it the next day, each attempting to out hip the other. ‘Soon’ was most definitely my soundtrack to that visit.

The following winter, the band played the new Ritz in New York. By then, the club had moved uptown to 54th Street. Although most of the magic the original place had was now gone, there were still plenty of great shows. Both Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers peaked their club band periods on that stage, Primal Scream did SCREAMADELICA, the return of the original Damned and Buzzcocks happened there, The Charlatans made their US premier, Ministry playing behind a chain linked fence, daring audience members dove into the mosh pit below from the second floor balcony during The Ramones’ two nights in February ’90 and a jungle red latex clad Lux Interior drank wine from a stray hightop sneaker shot onto the stage during The Cramps LOOK MOM NO HEAD show.

So the opportunity was set for My Bloody Valentine to prove their worth, become royalty, leave a most historical stamp on the moment, the way ‘Soon’ had and has. With intense crowd angst, the band came on to a visual storm of dry ice, saturated red and purple pulsing strobes and seriously tore into ‘Soon’. For a minute or so, the shrill and volume felt painfully positive, but the intensity of high end squeals and attempted white noise was unbearable. Ears were covered, the crowd physically gasping, it was relentless, horrible, unlistenable. Confused and tortured, many, and I do mean many, hit the exits. We tried, we wanted it to be as powerful as ‘Soon’ but we were defeated too, avoiding the surge for refunds at the box office window on the way out. This wasn’t art, it was insult.

Great single though.

The Orb

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Listen: Toxygene (7″ Edit) / The Orb
Toxygene (7

Even though I’d left Island during ’92, I still had loads of friends there, and would visit the UK office in St. Peters Square a lot. The company was always putting out tons of great stuff, and I needed all those promo only pressings in a bad way.

On one such visit, a new scout had just signed The Orb off of Big Life, and cornered us insisting we hear ‘Toxygene’, their forthcoming single. It was the end of a fun Friday. Gary Crowley was driving, so we passed through to collect Julian Palmer for drinks. Turns out the Island canteen was hopping as the staff would always hang late when the energy swirled into one of those fun nights.

Lord knows I wish I could recall who this A&R fellow was, I think he moved on to Universal Publishing. I thank him to this day.

We flipped for ‘Toxygene’. In our then current state, and played really, really loudly on that initial unveiling, the car and train sound effects embodied real live paranoia. Against band, management and company policy, he burned us a copy, making Gary promise not to play it on his Radio London slot that weekend.

Promises unbroken, Gary kept in under wraps, and quite frankly, the cdr didn’t leave my sight for weeks. ‘Toxygene’ eventually became a well deserved #4 smash in the UK.

On a 7″ pressing, it’s almost as hard to find as it would be to recreate the fantastic memory of that Friday.

Propellerheads / Les Rythmes Digitales

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Listen: Take California / Propellerheads
Take California / Propellerheads

In ’96, Wall Of Sound released Propellerheads ‘Take California’. The label had been set up by Mark Jones and Marc Lessner not long before, and had quickly become dependable.

‘Take California’ was one of many singles Gary Crowley played me at his Maida Vale apartment on that London trip. His place was a favorite stop as he gave the best crash course when it came to anything new and worthwhile.

Located literally across the street from the studios used by the BBC to record their live sessions ever since the 50′s, I’d stand in his front bay windows and in my head flip through the almost endless list of acts that walked through those very doorways ahead, as he’d spin his favorite recent releases, always a bit mesmerized by both.

Mind you, it was a pretty good time for dance and electronic music 1996. Much like punk in it’s heyday, there were loads of fun singles coming out weekly. On that visit, Gary played me ‘Take California’ really loud, and it was a jolt. Bless him, I hardly finished asking, before he promptly rang and set me up. Seriously, about an hour later, I was in a cab making my way toward South London to meet Mark Jones at Wall Of Sound’s Farm Lane office. The next night, Gary and I were at Ministry Of Sound to meet Marc Lessner, and see the Propellerheads live. It all happened that fast.

Jonesy, as he likes to be called and we all like to call him, hoisted a stack of records my way, talked for a good two hours and made plans to try working Wall Of Sound into a deal through Columbia for America. I couldn’t wait to take “Take California’ back home and play it for everyone, including Donnie Ienner, our chairman.

His response: “There’s no vocal.”

“Well, that’s the point.” But in fairness, Donnie wanted to explore the idea of representing the label in the US, and we proceeded to try.

Never did succeed, and Jonesy never did find a US partner.

Listen: Kontakte / Les Rythmes Digitales
Kontakte / Les Rythmes Digitales

One of those early Wall Of Sound acts were Les Rythmes Digitales. In essence, it was one guy, Stuart Price. Nice kid, great writer, great producer, great head of spiked out bright red dyed hair. Known professionally at the time as Jacques Lu Cont, as with Les Rythmes Digitales, both names were initially an attempt at attaching to the then current vogue for French house. Stuart went on to great success.

‘Kontakte’ traded on the darker side of dance, similar to Dr. Octagon, and the track would have probably suited 4hero’s ‘Mr. Kirk’s Nightmare’ better as it’s musical bed.

A very nicely packaged, and scarce, 7″ this.

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Listen: Mistadobalina (Radio Edit) / Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
Mistadobalina (Radio Edit) / Del Tha Funkee Hoosapien

When I started The Medicine Label in early ’92, we were distributed by Warner Brothers for the UK. My first trip to meet the London office turned out to be a collectors dream come true. First off, Gary Crowley had just joined their A&R staff. Like myself, he’d worked at Island prior and also recently migrated.

Day one, Gary takes me to lunch at Bill Wyman’s then new Sticky Fingers Cafe, only a few blocked away from the WB building in Kensington. Now this was some place for both a Rolling Stones fan and general collector alike. Every wall space literally covered with memorabilia: gold record plaques, trade ads and pictures sleeves, hand bills, posters, ticket stubs. The guy saved everything. Sticky Fingers became a favorite stop for a few years. Food was on the dodgy side for a vegetarian, but the scenery made up for it.

Back at the office, Gary walks me through to the head of radio promotion, who’s already been informed of my vinyl issues. He opens his cabinets and says, “take what you want, in fact, take the lot, we don’t get much call for 7′s.” Well, you need only ask me once. His back catalogue was deep, and so I grab one of everything (minimum). A few hundred 45′s later went into the international pouch and got shipped home.

Over the next few weeks, I’d made my way through the lot, and a few things became one-play favorites, like ‘Mistadobalina’. This record probably hasn’t aged as historically well as hoped for, which might explain it’s appeal to me. I definitely have vanilla tastes when it comes to rap.

The Future Sound Of London

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Listen: We Have Explosive (7″ Edit) / The Future Sound Of London FSOLExplosive.mp3

May ’97 in London had a few really rainy, cold days. You’d have sworn it was February. Perfect, just as England should be.

I know, I was there. I think it was a trip to hear the new Primal Scream album, maybe meet with them about releasing it through Columbia via Creation Records’ deal with us. And just by coincidence, The Cramps were playing two nights at The Astoria….just by coincidence. Working at major labels, where the entire senior staff were asleep at the wheel musically, did have it’s benefits.

‘We Have Explosive’ had peaked at #12 a few weeks earlier, and was still all over Radio 1. Can vividly remember shivering in Gary Crowley’s car, as he unsuccesfully atempted to coax heat out of the dashboad, on our way to Jakes from the Sony Building, via Marble Arch on a nasty day in nasty traffic, and this one lifting the mood 1000%.

Not only one of the best artist names ever, turns out FSOL were also tops at documenting a precise musical snapshot of that very moment in time.

Longsy D’s House Sound

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

LongsyDSka, Longsy D's House Sound, Big One Records

Listen: This Is Ska (Skacid Mix) / Longsy D’s House Sound LongsyD.mp3

I felt one of those late 80′s / early 90′s acid house moments coming on over the past weekend, so pulled out a few that were my staples in the day. No one ever mentions it, but ska had yet another revival of sorts during the E craze. Remember The Beatmasters’ ‘Ska Train’ or Rebel MC’s ‘Street Tuff’? I must post those soon.

The more or maybe most hardcore acid/ska floor filler,as the natives like to say, was definitely Longsy D’s House Sound ‘This Is Ska’. Fuck, it even charted. Yes, I recall riding around London with Crowley, Radio 1 beaming this down the airwaves and out of the dashboard, Friday, dinnertime traffic jam, Soho, looking for a place to park along Dean Street en route to Grauchos. If only we could turn back the clock.


Monday, December 21st, 2009

BassomaticPS, Bassomatic, William Orbit, Mark Ronson

Listen: Fascinating Rhythym / Bassomatic BassomaticFascinatingRhythm.mp3

William Orbit, the guy behind, or should I say, the guy who basically was Bassomatic, became the most in demand remixer/producer after ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ hit. For good reason. Despite it’s inability to live beyond the acid house goes mainstream period of 1990, when it peaked at #9 in the UK, it’s a pretty fantastic song. The accompanying SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEART OF THE BASS takes the prize as best-ever tongue in cheek album title, and quite frankly one that made me want to hear it. I did. I own the disc, but can’t remember if it was as great as the title implies. It may well be, but I didn’t give it much of a chance. Someday.

I was in London when ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ came on Radio 1. Gary Crowley was driving us along Holland Park Avenue from St. Peter’s Square during a bumper to bumper Friday rush hour in late September. We’d been to the pub and were desperate to get to Brown’s and see Jake. It was pouring but Oxford Street was hopping. And the radio was jamming with KLF, Andy Weatherall’s version of Primal Scream, Orbital, The Stone Roses and Deee-lite. Seems like all England wanted to do was dance. We got caught up. Almost didn’t want to arrive, it was like one great track after the other.

You’d return home and I learned as soon as that plane touched down at JFK, it was time to leave the great party on the radio behind. Back to the US airwaves it was.

William Orbit was then much like Mark Ronson is now. Had a few monsters so along comes all the politically correct and connected acts paying big bucks for the same magic wand to elevate them up the credibilty and financial ladder. These things always end in tears of course but some great remixes came out along that path.

Back to square one. Nothing by Bassomatic topped ‘Fascinating Ryhthm’ that I know of. And that is perfectly okay.