4AD 1980

Some years back, I read the excellent Facing the Other Way book by Martin Aston. It’s about the British independent record company 4AD, which I used to be an er somewhat obsessive fan up in my teens, which resulted in absurdities like this.

I decided to listen to everything 4AD had released, chronologically, while reading the book because you know. I found it a kinda interesting experience. I’d been listening to some of the artists excessively, but not really in context.

The other week I started wondering whether anybody had done something similar as a Spotify playlist, and yes, at least one person has created a playlist that’s supposed to be all 4AD tracks in sequence… but it’s missing tracks here and there! The outrage!

So I started puttering around and looking at whether it’s possible to do a complete 4AD listening experience on Spotify, and it looks promising. 4AD has always been wonderful at making their music available (for instance, in the 80s when CDs became a thing, they scrupulously included rare early singles with the albums they re-released), and they’re still at it on Spotify: I couldn’t find single track, no matter how obscure, that’s missing when putting together the 1980 playlist.

So here’s the Spotify playlist link, and below is a list of the releases and tracks included in the playlist.

I’ll be aiming for a new year (and a new playlist) once a week.

1980… It’s not the most memorable year in 4AD’s history. The label was started by Ivo Watts-Russell with a couple of partners, and they didn’t really have that much of a vision musically (or artistically) as 4AD would get a few years later. The first four singles, released under the Axis name (Ivo changed the name, fortunately) were already in the pipeline, but Ivo took over the release.

And there’s things like Hunk Of A Punk included on the Presage(s) compilation that Ivo didn’t want there at all, but… it’s kinda fun? Right? RIGHT!?!?

Of note are future major successes Bauhaus, The Birthday Party and Modern English. The first two with their sound already pretty much developed, while Modern English sounds nothing like what they would when they got their hit(s) later.

Oh, and The The, with a very early single.

What’s striking with these later successes were that they left 4AD, some of them very soon indeed (Bauhaus and The The) and some after getting at least some sales going. It can’t have been fun seeing them wander off to other pastures.

And then there’s Rema-Rema: In a way 4AD’s longest association… well, until the mid-90s. They merged with In Camera, sort of, and turned into Mass, and then finally into The Wolfgang Press and got pretty good after a few years.

1980

 AXIS1
The Fast Set — Junction One

Junction One, Children Of The Revolution

 AXIS2
Bearz — She’s My Girl

She’s My Girl, Girls Will Do

 AXIS3
Bauhaus — Dark Entries

Dark Entries, Untitled

 AXIS4
Shox — No Turning Back

No Turning Back, Lying Here

 BAD5
Rema-Rema — Wheel In The Roses

Feedback Song, Rema Rema, Instrumental, Fond Affections

 AD6
Modern English — Swans On Glass

Swans On Glass, Incident

 AD7
Bauhaus — Terror Couple Kill Colonel

Terror Couple Kill Colonel, Scopes, Terror Couple Kill Colonel

 AD8
In Camera — Final Achievement

Die Laughing, Final Achievement

 BAD9
Cupol — Like This For Ages

Like This For Ages, Kluba Cupol

 AD10
The The — Black And White

Controversial Subject, Black And White

 BAD11
Various — Presage(s)

Sargaso Sea, Let’s Have A Party, Security Idiots, Home, Malignant Love, Hit The Dead, Hunk Of A Punk

 AD12
The Birthday Party — The Friend Catcher

The Friend Catcher, Waving My Arms, Catman

 CAD13
Bauhaus — In The Flat Field

Double Dare, In The Flat Field, God In An Alcove, Dive, Spy In The Car, Small Talk Stinks, St. Vitus Dance, Stigmata Martyr, Nerves

 AD14
Mass — You And I

You And I, Cabbage

 AD15
Modern English — Gathering Dust

Gathering Dust, Tranquility Of A Summer Movement (Vice Versa)

 CAD16
B. C. Gilbert / G. Lewis — 3R4

Barge Calm, 3, 4…, Barge Calm, R

 AD17
Bauhaus — Telegram Sam

Telegram Sam, Crowds, Rosegarden Funeral Of Sores

 AD18
Dance Chapter — Anonymity

Anonymity, New Dance

 BAD19
In Camera — IV Songs

The Conversation, The Attic, Fragments of Fear, Legion

December 1943: Ghost Ship














“Why, a captain has more law than the King of Siam! A captain can marry you!”

“Well, I’m already married.”

This is an extremely odd film about a crew on a ship ships that’s possibly haunted. Excuse me while I do some googling.

It was produced by Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures as part of a series of low-budget horror films.

So it’s a B movie, I guess? Which explains the short length and the really weird cast. And the DVD I have has been sourced from a 2005-era torrent, judging by the quality of the compression artefacts.

But it’s so bizarre. A plot element is a heavy hook that’s not been tied down because er uhm the captain is insane? Or… an Objectivist? Is A A?

Bizarre.

There’s a plot twist that made me laugh out loud (inside of me), though. And after that, it’s pretty exciting.

But still… bizarre… It’s so weird it could almost be brilliant. But it isn’t.

Ghost Ship. Mark Robson. 1943.

Popular movies in December 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
4671 7.7 The Song of Bernadette
6364 7.6 Jane Eyre
341 7.3 Lost Angel
274 7.3 The Phantom
1931 7.2 Madame Curie
3682 7.2 Destination Tokyo
1679 7.0 A Guy Named Joe
381 6.9 Whistling in Brooklyn
1144 6.9 The Gang’s All Here
1680 6.9 Tarzan’s Desert Mystery

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

November 1943: Old Acquaintance

















It’s Bette Davis! Again! Geez, the person who bought these movies had a one track mind…

Anyway! It’s a comedy! A romantic comedy! I didn’t think Davis did those, but this is the second one in this blog series…

Oh, it’s not a comedy after all. That makes more sense. It’s about an insufferably grating woman who’s very successful and that makes her husband all insecure and stuff, so Bette’s totally justified in having an affair with him. I mean, how dare she write successful books! How dare she!

But the mystery is really why either her husband or Bette hangs out with her at all. It’s even brought up in the script, but they don’t really have much of an answer.

So by making it easy for themselves (by making her so awful) they also ruin some of the tension, because there’s no doubt who we’re rooting for.

But I’m really kind of quibbling. The scenes with Davis and her arch-frenemy played by Miriam Hopkins are really kind of electrifying.

Old Acquaintance. Vincent Sherman. 1943.

Popular movies in November 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
2167 7.6 Old Acquaintance
611 7.5 The Battle of Russia
326 7.1 His Butler’s Sister
672 6.9 Cry ‘Havoc’
1175 6.9 Girl Crazy

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

October 1943: Guadalcanal Diary























This DVD has a very artifactey transfer — it’s probably mastered off of a torrent site.

This is not the first movie in this blog series that’s been told from the point of view of the troops, but this one keeps the focus there throughout the movie. And while it’s a propaganda movie (the opening scenes with horseplay on the decks of the ships (complete with puppy) under a tropical sun are very… er… appealing), it gets tense pretty quickly.

But always amusing.

Does it work as a recruitment tool? I think so…

The final scenes, where they rout the dirty Japs (oops spoilers) is pretty amazing. And the dog survives (oops spoilers).

Guadalcanal Diary. Lewis Seiler. 1943.

Popular movies in October 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
275 8.0 Mr. Muggs Steps Out
273 7.5 My Learned Friend
410 7.3 L’éternel retour
4005 7.2 Lassie Come Home
810 6.9 Princess O’Rourke
1744 6.8 Guadalcanal Diary
202 6.5 Sweet Rosie O’Grady
267 6.4 Yellow Canary
3249 6.2 Son of Dracula
230 6.0 The Dark Tower

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

September 1943: Le Corbeau














What’s this then? A French movie? Made during the occupation? That had to be controversial.

Ah. Some wikipedia editor says:

The film caused serious problems for its director after World War II as it had been produced by Continental Films, a German production company established near the beginning of the Occupation of France, and because the film had been perceived by the underground and the Communist press as vilifying the French people. Because of this, Clouzot was initially banned for life from directing in France, but after protests only until 1947. The film was suppressed until 1969.

It was shown in cinematheques during the war, and then banned in France afterwards.

I… don’t quite understand the acting style, but it might just be that I’m not familiar with the pre-Nouvelle Vague French acting style. It’s nothing like American, British or Swedish acting of the era (which I’m more familiar with). It’s… kind of stylised, but not… really?

Perhaps it’s just bad acting? I don’t really believe in any of the portrayals?

Probably not. It’s a pretty exciting movie, and nobody’s very pretty or noble, so I can understand that some people accused Henri-Georges Clouzot of being anti-patriotic by making this.

The bluray restoration looks great.

Le Corbeau. Henri-Georges Clouzot. 1943.

Popular movies in September 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
224 7.8 Doña Bárbara

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

CCCB: Larque on the Wing

Like everybody, I’ve got a bookcase of unread books, but perhaps weirdly, mine is organised along a simple principle: Older books sink towards the bottom. That is, as I read books, I compact the rest and move them towards the bottom left.

It’s a sedimental journey.

The last couple of years I’ve read very few books, and have instead been reading comics and comics and comics, and I’m totally burned out on that. So what better way to get back into reading books again than to take a whack at those books that I’ve been avoiding reading most of my life?

That’s the selection. I think the oldest ones here have been with me since the late 80s, probably… and somehow I’ve never gotten around to reading them because other books have seemed more urgent.

Oh god. One of them’s fucking Ulysses, and now I have to read it…

But to entice me to make headway here, I’m also going to teach myself how to bake cakes and cookies. One cake, one book. Cake, Cookies, Crumpets and Books: CCCB.

Let’s aim for… one per week? And I can read other books in-between while finishing off the cake.

I started with this banana mocha cream cake, which looks very scrumptious in the pictures at least…

Do I have all the ingredients? Yes!

I ate too much of the dough. I’m allowed!

Bake baby bake.

So shiny.

For the book I chose Larque on the Wing by Nancy Springer, which I’ve always pronounced in my head “Laroque” when I’ve decided not to read it, several times per month, the last 24 years.

It’s a very witty, and strangely unclassifiable book. It’s not quite a fantasy, but it’s not quite a non-genre book either. It reads more like a magic realism book? But it’s marketed as a a fantasy book.

Just read these three opening pages:

But how does it pair with the cake?

Hm, it came out dryer than on the picture on that blog… but it’s been in the fridge, so I should probably let it sit on the table a few hours to get back to room temperature.

But it’s really more like a banana bread with a chocolate covering than a cake, really, which isn’t quite what I wanted. But it’s a pretty good banana bread, anyway.

And it pairs well with the sinister whimsy of the Nancy Springer book. Which is very good, indeed. I never know where it’s going.

One thing I find upon returning to books after this hiatus is that I’ve aquired some bad reading habits, probably from spending too much time reading blogs: My eyes have started skipping past text I think I know what’s going to say. They slip into skimming mode for short periods of time. And that doesn’t work with this book at all, because just about any sentence here doesn’t go the way you think they’re going to go.

It’s published by Avon Books, and this is what they usually publish:

So it’s somewhat out of their normal remit, but I seem to remember them also publishing weirder stuff like this. It’s got a very exciting plot, with the most horrifying monster of all time as the main antagonist: A mother who can change reality by just refusing to see whatever is in front of her eyes. But it’s also a somewhat frustrating read, because for most of the book, things don’t much develop as repeat themselves, so reading it feels like we’re stuck in molasses. Which may be Springer’s point, but…

But you can’t fault the fabulously climactic confrontation at the end, wart hog and all.

Useful Consumer Review

The backlight to the monitor in the hallway half died, and the monitor was more than ten years old, so getting a replacement seemed more prudent than trying to get it fixed.

I wanted a kinda small monitor for the table. The main use cases is me scanning record sleeves and paying bills (because this is the only computer I have with a numeric keyboard), so it’s not like a need a huge one. The rest of the time it’s showing the cover of whatever album I’m playing in the stereo…

But then I happened on to the Eizo EV2730Q monitor: It’s square! I mean, as in having a 1:1 width/height factor! 1920×1920! How cromulent! Album covers are square, too, so that’d perhaps look totally cool in the hallway?

Behold!

It is, indeed, square. It kinda visually looks like it’s taller than it’s wide, but I’ve measured it, and it’s not.

So what’s it like?

Well, it’s… a monitor.

I was briefly excited when I learned that it had a USB hub built-in, because I thought I could use it to charge gadgets and get rid of an external USB hub, but it’s a fucking non-powered hub. How lame is that? If I connect my keyboard and something power-draining to the hub at the same time, my keyboard goes AWOL. So its utility is severely limited, and since I have to have an external powered hub, anyway, there’s no point in using it at all.

They could have spent a couple of dollars more and made it powered, but they didn’t, the cheapskates.

I was also briefly excited when I read the manual and saw that it had speakers built-in. Not that I’d use those to play music or anything, but it’s occasionally useful if I were to check something out on Youtube. The monitor has a 3.5mm jack input, but I thought that surely it would also have audio input over either DisplayPort or over the USB input, but nope. It doesn’t have any other audio input than that 3.5mm jack. At least no audio device pops up in Linux when I plug in the DisplayPort cable, but surely this is the Year of Linux on the Desktop, so it has to be the monitor’s fault.

I don’t want to pull another cable from the closet where the computer is over to the monitor, so I guess I won’t be using that speaker, either.

So after those brief oh-so-exciting periods were over… what’s the picture quality like?

It’s fine, but the black levels aren’t very black. I’m spoiled by having an OLED TV, where black is black, but it’s a disappointment that you can’t get things blacker than you see in the picture there. I even went into all the menus to tweak, and you can make the black levels even more grey, but you can’t make it go darker.

So I guess it’s fine? But there’s nothing exciting about it.

Except the form factor, which is pretty neat. It’s hip to be square again.