It’s not often that we get the opportunity to write about Paul McCartney, forever fab, and Art of Noise, pioneering British synth-pop duo, in the same sentence. But Salvo Records and ZTT are giving us just that chance with this week's U.K. release of The Art of the 12-Inch, Volume Two. Okay, it’s not that much of a stretch, as Art of Noise’s Anne Dudley contributed synthesizer to McCartney’s 1984 Give My Regards to Broad Street soundtrack album, and was later enlisted to write arrangements for his 1986 Press to Play. And it was on that latter album where Dudley’s Art of Noise mates got involved. McCartney wrote the title song to John Landis’ 1986 comedy Spies Like Us and planned to include it on Press to Play. Macca's interest in synthesizers, electronic sounds and avant-pop was nothing new; he would introduce many of those sounds into his McCartney II solo album and continue to explore that realm as late as 2008’s Electric Arguments, his third collaboration as "The Fireman" with the artist known as Youth (a.k.a. Martin Glover).
Ian Peel, curator of the new Salvo set, recalled, “McCartney called in the Art of Noise to remix the track [‘Spies Like Us’] in the summer of 1985. It was a mad, cut-and-paste retake that turned the song – McCartney’s last U.S. Top Ten hit – into a left-field electronic collage.” (Peel knows of what he speaks, as author of The Unknown Paul McCartney, a 2001 account of the musician’s more outré experiments.) Paul and Linda McCartney joined Dudley, JJ Jeczalik and Gary Langan for what sounded like “a very experimental session,” in Peel’s recollection. The 12-inch vinyl mix was released in November 1985 but has so far eluded any of McCartney’s archival projects. McCartney gave his consent to the track to make its CD debut on the second volume of Salvo’s The Art of the 12-Inch, but then the plot thickened!
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McCartney supplied Salvo with the master tapes for the reissue, but Peel and his team quickly noticed that the timing was off. McCartney had provided a version timing at 5:26, whereas the original 12-inch vinyl only ran 3:58. The tape was then cross-referenced with a cassette in Anne Dudley’s possession, and Dudley’s tape confirmed the longer version . In Peel’s words, “So it seems that when the original 12-inch was pressed, the manufacturers inadvertently cut the track short, shaving off a wonderful minute-and-a-half’s worth of intro and build-up.” When “Spies Like Us” appears in its Art of Noise remix on The Art of the 12-Inch Volume Two, it will be the complete track, released for the first time ever.
Of course, that’s not all the compilation has to offer. Its twenty-seven tracks on two CDs include nine tracks new to CD, and ten previously unreleased in any format. In addition to McCartney, other notable Brit legends included on the new set include Godley and Creme (formerly of 10cc), Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark, Scritti Politti, Propaganda and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Many of the tracks are radical reinventions of the original songs, including the majestic, 15-minute Keep the Peace version of “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Graham Massey/808 States' 2-part, 10-minute take on the Art of Noise’s “Moments in Love.” Trevor Horn and the Mint Juleps' 3-part “Every Kinda People" clocks in at roughly 14 minutes. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll hear short “micromix” interludes.
The time has never been better to celebrate Trevor Horn’s ZTT label, founded with Paul Morley and Jill Sinclair in 1983. The beats contained within the grooves of the label’s eminently danceable music have influenced the way many of us hear music today, and this new set truly looks to contain the crème de la crème. But with a Volume Two, there must have been a Volume One! You might want to start with the 2011 debut of this series, subtitled "A celebration of the extended remix...from the original house of 12-inch excess!" Many of the usual Zang Tuum Tumb suspects can be found on its two discs, from the famous (Frankie, Propaganda, Art of Noise) to the overlooked (Nasty Rox Inc, Anne Pigalle, Andrew Poppy, Instinct).
Paul Morley might have said it best about Horn's work, though his statement could apply to the ZTT sound as a whole: “If in the '60s, Phil Spector created a wall of sound, by the middle of the '80s Horn had already established his sound, a whole room of sound, the walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, decorated with absolute flourish.”
Let's sing (and dance!) with Paul McCartney, "What do you do? No one else can dance like you! So what's all the fuss?" You'll find out what's all the fuss, should you click to order The Art of the 12-Inch, Volume Two from ZTT, Salvo and Union Square Music!
Various Artists, The Art of the 12-Inch, Volume Two (Salvo Music CD SALVOMDCD27, 2011)
- “you are warmly invited to come inside” – 01:38
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Two Tribes (Keep The Peace) – 15:19 (from ZTT CTIS 103, 1984)
- Paul McCartney: Spies Like Us (Art of Noise Remix) – 05:26
- Godley & Creme: Cry (Extended Remix) – 07:25 (possibly from Polydor POSPX 732, 1985)
- Instinct: Swamp Down (12” Mix) – 06:43
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Julia's Song (Extended Version) – 08:33 (from Virgin VS 685-12, 1984)
- 808 State Vs. Art of Noise: Moments in Love (Massey Mix One) – 05:39
- Thomas Leer: Heartbeat (Extended Mix) – 08:44 (from Arista LEER 122, 1985)
- “bassline interlude” – 01:00
- Act: Chance (Whammy Mix) – 07:20
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood: War (Coming Out of Hiding) – 03:16
- Propaganda: Dr Mabuse der Spieler (An International Incident) – 05:38 (from ZTT ZTAS 2, 1984)
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12: previously unreleased on CD
Tracks 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11: previously unreleased
- Scritti Politti: Absolute (Version) – 06:11 (from Virgin VS 680-12, 1984)
- Art of Noise: Close Up – 07:37 (from ZTT 12ZTPS01, 1984)
- Propaganda: Sorry For Laughing (12" Mix) – 05:30
- das Psych-oh! Rangers: he He Radical (Episode 2) – 07:05 (from ZTT 12ZTAS24, 1986)
- “piano interlude” – 01:00
- Nasty Rox Inc.: What It Is (Live Instrumental Wonder) – 04:00
- Mint Juleps: Every Kinda People (Parts I, II and III) – 14:00
- Anne Pigalle: He Stranger (Parts I, II and III) – 07:27 (from ZTT 12 CERT1, 1985)
- 808 State Vs. Art of Noise: Moments in Love (Massey Mix Three) – 05:13
- “the flash forward” – 03:21
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Relax (Man Has a Sense for the Discovery of Beauty, Part I) – 02:30
- “zang tuum interlude” – 00:30
- Art of Noise: Close Up (Hop) – 05:10 (from ZTT 12ZTPS01, 1984)
- Propaganda: Dr. Mabuse (Special Instrumental Mix) – 05:27 (from ZTT ZTAS 2, 1984)
- “cadenza” – 01:30
Tracks 3, 4, 14: previously unreleased on CD
Tracks 5, 6, 9, 11: previously unreleased