1992/1993 sealed 4AD’s fate: They had two major hits in the US college market with Belly’s Feed the Tree and The Breeders’ Cannonball; both going into heavy rotation on MTV (back when that meant something). Major label Warner Bros came sniffing seeking grunge acts, and Ivo Watts-Russell signed a distribution deal with them that, to me, seems totally ridiculous and set any band on 4AD up to fail: Warner would start furnishing the advances to the bands 4AD signed, and for every album a band released, the advance would be doubled.
This, of course, meant that any reasonable band that kept releasing stuff would soon be completely unprofitable for the labels, so they would have to be let go, right? We’ll come back to that in a few years. I mean weeks.
But other than those blockbuster hits (both singles and albums from Belly and The Breeders), there was a pretty nice album by His Name is Alive; two good albums from Red House Painters; a really good album by Heidi Berry; Dead Can Dance’s probably best album; and the brilliant album by Insides (on Guernica).
And the Spoonfed Hybrid album which I think is very spiffy. And there’s a story behind why it’s on Guernica:
CT: I never knew until I read Martin Aston’s Facing The Other Way a couple of years ago that Ivo had refused to release Spoonfed Hybrid on 4AD proper because he didn’t like my singing on A Pocketful Of Dust. I don’t like it much either, to be honest, it was much better on the demo. So it goes.
IM: Ivo said he didn’t like Chris’ voice, but I don’t think there was ever a “Lose Chris’s voice and I’ll release it on 4AD” conversation.
A certain lack of communication, I guess.
But, hey, not a bad year at all: Most of the albums 4AD released in 1993 are albums I like a lot, but there’s one that’s pretty bad. (It rhymes with “Rank Black”.)
There was the Thirteen Year Itch week-long music festival in London! Which I attended! It was fabulous! There was a nice showcase of 4AD artwork (mostly focusing on the CD designs) and a cinema that showed the videos you can see above (I made a playlist; it’s missing the Ultra Vivid Scene video which isn’t at Youtube). And, of course, the venue, which was… pretty intimate, as I recall?
Strangely enough, the concert that made the greatest impression on me was Brendan Perry’s solo show. He premiered all the songs that would end up on his sole solo album, and I loved them to bits. Even more strangely, when the album was finally released, I was totally underwhelmed…
I couldn’t find the That Dog. album on Spotify, so I guess whoever owns the rights (I think 4AD just licensed the album for the UK?) hasn’t made it available.
Belly — Feed The Tree
Feed The Tree, Dream On Me, Trust In Me, Star
Belly — Star
Someone To Die For, Angel, Dusted (rerecorded), Every Word, Gepetto, Witch, Slow Dog (rerecorded), Low Red Moon (rerecorded), Feed The Tree, Full Moon, Empty Heart, White Belly, Untogether, Star (rerecorded), Sad Dress, Stay
Ultra Vivid Scene — Blood and Thunder
Blood and Thunder (radio edit), Don’t Look Now (Now!), Candida (theme from Red Pressure Mounting), Winter Song
Frank Black — Frank Black
Los Angeles, I Heard Ramona Sing, Hang on to Your Ego, Fu Manchu, Places Named After Numbers, Czar, Old Black Dawning, Ten Percenter, Brackish Boy, Two Spaces, Tossed (Instumental version), Parry the Wind High, Low, Adda Lee, Every Time I Go Around Here, Don’t Ya Rile Them
Frank Black — Hang On To Your Ego
Hang On To Your Ego, The Ballad Of Johnny Horton, Surf Epic
| cd box set45135|
This Mortal Coil — 1983-1991
All the other This Mortal Coil albums, and: Another Day (Roy Harper), Mr. Somewhere (The Apartments), With Tomorrow (Gene Clark), Holocaust (Big Star), Kangaroo (Big Star), Carolyn’s Song (Rain Parade), I Want To Live (Gary Ogan & Bill Lamb), Alone (Colin Newman), Drugs (Talking Heads), Help Me Lift You Up (Mary Margaret O’Hara), Song To The Siren (Tim Buckley), Morning Glory (Tim Buckley), I Must Have Been Blind (Tim Buckley), Several Times I, The Jeweller (Pearls Before Swine), I Come And Stand At Every Door (The Byrds), I Am The Cosmos (Chris Bell), You And Your Sister (Chris Bell), ‘Til I Gain Control Again (Emmylou Harris), Nature’s Way (Spirit), Strength Of Strings (Gene Clark)
His Name Is Alive — Mouth by Mouth
Baby Fish Mouth, Lip, Cornfield, In Every Ford, Lord, Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace, Drink, Dress and Ink, Where Knock Is Open Wide, Can’t Go Wrong Without You, Jack Rabbits, Sort Of, Sick, Blue Moon, Ear, Lemon Ocean, The Torso, The Dirt Eaters (mbm), The Homsick Waltz
Unrest — Isabel Bishop e.p.
Isabel (single), Teenage Suicide, Love To Know (originally performed by The Marine Girls.), Nation Writer, Wharton Hockey Club
Red House Painters — Red House Painters
Grace Cathedral Park, Down Through, Katy Song, Mistress, Things Mean A Lot, Fun House, Take Me Out, Rollercoaster, New Jersey, Dragon Flies, Mistress (piano version), Mother, Strawberry Hill, Brown Eyes
Heidi Berry — Heidi Berry
Mercury, Little Fox, The Moon And The Sun, One-String Violin, Darling Companion, Distant Thunder, Heart Like A Wheel, For The Rose, Follow, Ariel, Dawn
Heidi Berry — The Moon And The Sun
The Moon And The Sun, Unholy Light, Zither Song, You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie
Various — 4AD Presents The 13 Year Itch
Lush / Desire Lines (demo), Kristin Hersh / Your Ghost (demo), Mistress (itch), Underground Lovers / Your Eyes (rerecorded), The Wolfgang Press / Peace On Fire, Unrest / Where Are All Those Puerto Rican Boys?, The Breeders / Invisible Man (demo), Bettie Serveert / Totally Freaked Out, Brendan Perry|R / Happy Time, Firefly (rerecorded), Pale Saints / One Blue Hill (demo), His Name Is Alive / The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light, This Is The Way (part 2)
Various — 4AD Presents The 13 Year Itch
The Breeders / Cannonball, Isabel (single), Dig For Fire (single), Pixies / Allison (Peter Scammell), Frank Black / Los Angeles (John Flansburgh), Bettie Serveert / Tom Boy (Jesse Peretz), The Wolfgang Press / Kansas, His Name Is Alive / Are We Still Married? (The Brothers Quay), His Name Is Alive / Lip (itch), His Name Is Alive / Can’t Go Wrong Without You (The Brothers Quay), This Mortal Coil / Late Night (Alexander Spaszt), Michael Brook / Breakdown (Miles Aldridge), Heidi Berry / The Moon And The Sun (Angela Conway), Red House Painters / 24 (Mark Taylor), Throwing Muses / Counting Backwards (Katherine Beickmann), Pale Saints / Blue Flower (Peter Scammell), Swallow / Oceans And Blue Skies, Lush / Superblast (Brett Turnbull), Ultra Vivid Scene / Blood And Thunder (Miles Aldridge)
The Breeders — Cannonball
Cannonball, Cro-Aloha (rerecorded), Lord Of The Thighs, 900
Unrest — Perfect Teeth
Angel I’ll Walk You Home, Cath Carroll, So Sick, Light Command, Food & Drink Synthesizer, Soon It Is Going To Rain, Make Out Club, Breather x.o.x.o., West Coast Love Affair, Six Layer Lake, Stylized Ampersand
The Breeders — Last Splash
New Year, Cannonball, Invisible Man, No Aloha, Roi, Do You Love Me Now? (rerecorded), Flipside, I Just Wanna Get Along (rerecorded), Mad Lucas, Divine Hammer, S. O. S., Hag, Saints, Drivin’ On 9, Roi (reprise)
| BREED 2|
The Breeders — untitled
Grungé (demo), New Year (demo)
| CAD C3013|
Dead Can Dance — Into the Labyrinth
Yulunga, The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, The Carnival Is Over, Ariadne, Saldek, Toward The Within, Tell Me About The Forest, The Spider’s Strategem, Emmeleia, How Fortunate The Man With None
Unrest — Cath Carroll
Cath Carroll (10 cc mix), Vibe Out!, Goodbye, Hydro
Red House Painters — Red House Painters
Evil, Bubble, I am a Rock, Helicopter, New Jersey (remix), Uncle Joe (remix), Blindfold, Star Spangled Banner
The Breeders — Divine Hammer
Divine Hammer (remix), Hoverin’, I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You), Do You Love Me Now? (jr?)
Insides — Euphoria
Walking in Straight Lines, Bent Double, Darling Effect, Distractions, Relentless, Skin Divers, Carly Simon, Yes, Skykicking
Insides — untitled
Further Distractions*, Turning Absentmindedly*
Spoonfed Hybrid — Spoonfed Hybrid
Heaven’s Knot, Naturally Occurring Anchors, Tiny Planes, Stolen Clothes, Lynched, 1936, Getting Not to Know, Somehow Some Other Life, A Pocketful of Dust, Ecnalubma, Boys in Zinc
Spoonfed Hybrid — untitled
Bullet and Bees*, Messrs. Hyde*
That Dog. — That Dog.
Old Timer*, Jump*, Punk Rock Girl*, Zodiac*, You are Here*, She*, Angel*, Westside Angst*, She Looks at Me*, Family Functions*, Ralna*, She Looks at Me (reprise)*, Just Like Me*, Paid Programming*, This Boy*
That Dog. — untitled
Buy Me Flowers*, Untitled*
This post is part of the chronological look at all 4AD releases, year by year.
*) Missing from Spotify.