Friday, 21 July 2017

mixtape : wanda is not here
mixtape : wanda is not here
limited edition cassette
wanda 001
ono/wanda (2016)

You'll gather from below that I'm a bit of a Wanda fan so when I learned about this tape I just had to get one. It was released on the Ono Wanda label in 2016 and features a host of artists most of whom I'd never heard or heard of before apart from Shreikback and Brigitte Fontaine. Made up of 100 minutes of outsider electronic-ambient, music with a mostly cinematic atmosphere. This mixtape is really good and a great addition to my tape collection.
Comes with a 4-panel, homemade J-card which has the tracklisting; plus a short explication on the film's opening shots as well as the author's ideas on what the film is a about and the message it conveys on one side, but is blank
on the other.
Also included is a J-card sized print of a still from the film of Wanda (Barbara Loden); eyes closed as if in concentration, with a set of haircurlers on her head. Includes a redeem card and code for anyone who wants to download
an MP3 version. Cassette shellcase is black on side and white on the other. Tracks are interspersed by snatches of dialogue from the film.

Wanda Is Not Here : Bandcamp link

• • • • • • • • • • •

Wanda is an independent 1970 film directed by Barbara Loden who also stars in the title role.

Loden was a Broadway Tony award-winning American stage and film actress, model, and stage/film director. She was the first woman to write, direct and star in her own feature film which won the International Critics Award at the 1970 Venice Film Festival. Loden appeared in a minor role in Elia Kazan's film Wild River as Montgomery Clift’s secretary but she was perhaps better known for her role in Splendor in the Grass (1961), in which she played Warren Beatty's sister. In 1968 she married Kazan with whom she remained till her premature death in 1980. Wanda is her only film as a director.

• • • • •

Wanda tells the story of an unhappy housewife living in a shitty Pennsylvanian coal-mining town who divorces her husband and relinquishes her rights to her children. Unable to find work, Wanda leaves the town and after a couple of misfortunate events -including one where she's robbed of the meagre amount of money she has. She eventually falls in with low-life, bank robber, Norman. A man she becomes infatuated with. Despite learning about his lifestyle, that he's on the run and his abusive way towards her, Wanda decides to stay with him.

From there on it's all downhill with Norman ending up dead after a failed bank-robbery. Wanda manages to escape only to be sexually assaulted by another man with whom she hitched a ride.The film ends with Wanda at a bar, where strangers supply her with food, alcohol, and cigarettes.

Though not exactly your average feel-good movie in any way Wanda is a film that I really like. One that I recommend to anyone who is the least bit interested in contemporary American independent cinema.

In 2012, French author Nathalie Léger published Supplément à la vie de Barbara Loden (Suite for Barbara Loden being the English title) a novel about Barbara Loden and the film Wanda. If you like the film you'll enjoy this book as well.

I first saw the film at some ciné-club in the 80s but managed to catch it again when it was re-released in the early 2000s in France. I have a DVD copy which has quite a fair amount of extras including an excerpt from a television show where Loden, John Lennon and Yoko Ono are the guests. I also managed to pick up a small french-movie poster of the film and a small booklet-sized press kit (see above) that accompanied the 2003 re-release.
The 12-page booklet  includes the synopsis, cast and tech crew credits, an interview on the film with french actress, Isabelle Huppert, and Barbara Loden's filmography.

Monday, 17 July 2017

david bowie : ziggy stardust
david bowie
the rise and fall of ziggy stardust and the spiders from mars
rca international
INTK 5063

Ziggy Stardust was released in 1972. At that time I acquired, first of all, a long since lost cassette tape copy. I bought it where I usually bought tapes at that period from a small shop in Glasgow called Casa Cassettes; which I think was in Jamaica Street near Glasgow Bridge. It would be around that time or maybe a wee bit earlier that the first Virgin Records record shop opened: a scummy, hippy hangout near Central Station. Anyhow, I did eventually get a vinyl copy. This tape version in the pic above dates from 1980. I imagine that I picked it up at some car boot sale a few years ago. Though the j-card is a tiny bit soiled the tape still plays perfectly well.


Ziggy Stardust was my first real introduction to David Bowie as I wasn't really aware of his recordings apart from the Space Oddity single which my mother had bought when it was released. Of course, what really initiated my interest in Bowie had been the Starman single as well as his outrageous appearance with his band on the Top of the Pops BBC TV show in July, 1972. As far as music goes that Summer was a great one. First we had Bowie's Starman, then Mott The Hoople's All The Young Dudes (a Bowie song) followed in August by Roxy Music's debut, the utterly stunning Virginia Plain single, and Lou Reed's Transformer album the same month. All stone cold classics and defining moments in my interest in music. Mott the Hoople apart, all three others became the foundation of my record collection for a long time and indeed still are today.

Bowie's Ziggy Stardust set me off on a quest for his other releases. His earlier albums aren't as good but, in my opinion, Hunky Dory is far superior and remains probably my favourite Bowie album to this day. Needless to say, up until his untimely death in january 2016 and the release of Blackstar, the seventies were Bowie's best years.

In that decade, a whole spate of his best recordings were released: Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Heroes, Low, Station To Station, The Lodger, Diamond Dogs. A decade of quality releases that Bowie never quite succeeded in reproducing over the next 36 years of his career. That is until his swansong; the brilliant Blackstar released only a couple of days before his passing.
On his death I recall endlessly hearing the Let's Dance single on radio and TV as if it had been the only thing that he'd ever recorded. The same-titled LP might well have been Bowie's biggest-selling album but I imagine that any die-hard Bowie fan would agree with me that it certainly wasn't his best.

Still, even the lowpoints in his career stand above most of the dross that made up the mainstream charts over the years. On the other hand though, I always liked Lou Reed; whom I'd discovered through Bowie, more
than I ever did The Thin White Duke. But that's another story.

Album artwork : Terry Pastor
Album photography : Brian Ward

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

björk : post

björk : post
one little indian (1995)

This is another tape that i got at a car boot sale some time ago. Picked it up the same day as an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 'Best of OMD' cassette. Got both from a woman for the princely sum of 1€ if i recall correctly. Both tapes are in near-mint condition. If they had been wrapped in the cellophane they have when they're factory produced they would have looked brand new. 

Anyhow, I don't really care at all for Björk. I've always, apart from two or three early Sugurcubes singles as well as a tape version of their first album, thought of her as sounding absolutely dreadful. In fact, I go along with what trangressive cult film director John Waters says: "Björk is the new Yoko Ono - only worse!" Might be missing out, but frankly I can't see myself one day going through her whole back catalogue.

I have this unsavoury feeling that her whole act is so contrived and calculated that it puts me right off her. Must admit though that I quite liked her song 'Big Time Sensuality'* and it's accompanying video clip of Björk on the back of a flat bed truck going through Manhattan. As for this tape, the only thing that I'm consciously aware of having heard on it is the appallingly bad 'It's Oh So Quiet' track. A song which, much to my misfortune, seemed to be on the radio 24/7 at one time. I've never played the tape.

Mind you, to finish on a more positive note; the artwork's very nice indeed - the J-card is an 8-panel fold out which includes the lyrics to all of the songs. Excellent design by Me Company and great photography by Stephan Sednaoui.
The latter being the chap that shot the video mentionned above.


*I'll correct that: I quite like 'Human Behaviour' as well. So not all negative.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

talking heads : remain in light
talking heads
remain in light
sire records (1980)
srk 6095 npc

This is a tape produced for the Spanish market which I bought at a car boot sale 5 or 6 years ago. Although the J-card and the tape itself have seen better days it's still in fine condition and plays perfectly well. Remain In Light has always been my favourite Talking Heads album and I still have my original vinyl copy. Released in October 1980 during a period of high unemployment in the UK; the Thatcher era had seen the recession got worse and the introduction of cash limits on public spending, and reduced expenditure on social services such as education and housing were the order of the day. The usual Tory policies still used today by the utterly dreadful Theresa May and her ilk who are doing their utmost to destroy the NHS as well. That year too the Yorkshire Ripper (Peter Sutcliffe) still hadn't been caught, Ronald Reagan was about to become president of the USA; Ian Curtis (Joy Division) had hanged himself in May of the same year, and, only a couple of months after the album's release, John Lennon would be gunned down as he left the Dakota building in Mahattan . Not exactly a fun year but I imagine that, if you look back, every year has ups and downs. 1980 was after all the year that the Rubik's Cube first appeared.

When punk first started I was never really into any of the bands that started a whole new musical movement in '76 & '77. Having been a fan of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Neil Young, Patti Smith and even Pink Floyd (whom I still like) during the 70s I never really bought into the whole amateurish shambles that a lot of the bands were trying to flog. I was looking for decent bands with good music; something less abrasive than what most of punk had to offer. Most of it passed over my head apart from bands like The Buzzcocks, The Clash, and, of course, The Sex Pistols. Post-punk was a much better period music-wise. A lot of bands that had started in the short punk era or even before had so much more to offer. Bands like Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division, Magazine, Gang of Four, PIL, This Heat, The Pop Group among others whose recordings have stood the test of time and are just as good today as they were then.

On the American front bands like The New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, without or with the Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids weren't really my cup of tea either. On the other hand there were three bands -four if you include Patti Smith whose career had taken off before punk- that were really good; Television (whom Richard Hell had left before their groundbreaking Marquee Moon album had been released), The Ramones, and Talking Heads.

The Ramones' loud, fast, up front, in your face musical style were fun but is was bands like Television and especially Talking Heads that were much more in my line.
Over a short period of time (1977 -1980), and in my mind, Talking Heads made their best recordings. Four really good albums -three of them collaborations with the mighty Brian Eno- which culminated with the release of their 4th studio album, Remain In Light. Album, which, in my opinion, is their best and one which sounds as good today as it did back then. Their art rock, funk, world music and avant-garde style makes almost every track on it is outstanding; the Once In A Lifetime track (also released as a single) is the one I like least on an album which in my books gets a 9/10 rating.

Of course, Brian Eno played a big part in its success by getting the group to "experiment with African polyrhythms, funk, and electronics." By "recording instrumental tracks as a series of sampled and looped grooves, which were an innovative technique at the time." (Source: Wikipedia)

Remain In Light would, unfortunately, be the last of the band's collaborations with Eno; who would team up with Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts which was released the following year.Their career continued with members going off on various side projects for a while before getting together again, but anything they did as a band after Remain In Light was never as good.

Friday, 7 July 2017

king crimson : red
king crimson
island records (1974)
7206 018

Unlike the other Island Records tapes of the 70s this King Crimson tape doesn't come with the usual pink background on the J-card. This one, for some reason has a white background. Also, the cover art for the album artwork is all in black & white. On the LP sleeve the album title is in -you guessed it- red.
No idea why this is unless Island were trying to do things on the cheap for cassette versions. Or that the printer had run out of red ink!

Anyhow, I picked up this cassette a couple of years back at a car boot sale. I still have the a vinyl copy of the album as well. Album which I acquired a few years after its initial release on the strength of hearing its title track; the driving, hard rock instrumental, Red while perusing the vinyl in a record shop. Sounded great on the in-store Hi-Fi and also as good when I played it on my own set up.
The opening track really is a killer one, but the rest of the album sort of pales in comparison. Still, it's a worthy album. Besides this one and the 'In the Court of the Crimson King' one by the band I haven't really had any real interest in King Crimson otherwise.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

david bowie : christiane f - wir kinder vom bahnhof zoo
david bowie
christiane f - wir kinder vom bahnhof zoo
rca records (1981)
BK 43606

This is the soundtrack to Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo; a 1981 German film directed by Uli Edel that portrays the drug scene in West Berlin in the 1970s, based on the non-fiction book of the same name written following tape recordings of teenage girl Christiane F.*

The film, to which David Bowie composed the soundtrack, actually features the musician as himself in it.

According to the book, the real Christiane F. had had her first experience with heroin at a David Bowie concert some years earlier; this is told in the film with David Bowie starring as himself.

The soundtrack is made of tracks from several Bowie albums: Heroes, Station to Station, Lodger, Stage, and Low.

The artwork on the cassette (here) varies from the vinyl release in such that David Bowie does not appear on it whereas Natja Brunckhorst, who plays Christiane F in the film, appears on both the vinyl and cassette covers.


*In real life: Christiane Vera Felscherinow.
In the early 1980s, Felscherinow's boyfriend was fellow heroin addict Alexander Hacke, from the German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten. Together they released two albums under the name Sentimentale Jugend. Felscherinow also appeared in a couple of films. In 2013 she wrote and released a new autobiographical book; Mein Zweites Leben (My Second Life) which tells the storyof her life after Christiane F as well as her continuing drug abuse.
(Source : Wikipedia)

Monday, 3 July 2017

william basinski : the disintegration loops
william basinski
the disintegration loops
temporary residence (2012)

Slight return to 'i ♥ tape hiss' after a very long hiatus. I intend to, or at least try to, update this blog more frequently. Today we have a "cassette" version of the incredible 9/11 recordings, 'The Disintegration Loops' by William Basinski. The original records were released in 2002 but this came as a promo item with the reissue of a box set by Temporary Residence Ltd. in 2012. Wonderful item and one of Basinski's best recordings ever all in MP3 format.

Memory stick, USB flash drive in cassette format.
Promo version that contains the entire box set of the Disintegration Loops I-IV plus two live concerts by Basinski at The 54th Venice Music Biennale, October 18, 2008 and at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, September 11, 2011

Courtesy of @GMAssistance