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Test Pressing

Weekend / The `81 Demos / Blackest Ever Black

Test Pressing, Reviews, Dr Rob, Weekend, The `81 Demos, Blackest Ever Black, Alison Statton, Simon Booth, Spike Williams, Young Marble Giants, Working Week, Rough Trade

I didn`t really know about Weekend. I knew about this:

A British Jazz dance classic as played by Paul Murphy at the Electric Ballroom that I assumed was part of the Kalima / Swamp Children, Colin Curtis / Berlin Jazz Aficionado Pre-Hacienda Factory world. Uncharacteristically for me when I bought the record I didn`t check the sleeve or label for details. If I had, for a start I would have discovered that it was produced by the Simon Jeffes of the Penguin Café Orchestra. Then I would have also seen the names Alison Statton, Spike Williams and Simon Booth.

Booth would have been the only one I recognized, since he went on to form the much-maligned Working Week, whose debut was a truly brilliant single, spun by Murphy at the Electric Ballroom, and also David Mancuso at his NYC Loft (the 7” mix might be used to define the term “Militant Balearic”).

While Leo Mas would drop the band`s “Apocalypse” warming up at Amnesia, and Daniele Baldelli would flash the break from their cover of “Inner City Blues” on his Cosmic tapes, Working Week seemed to get generally coated for being neither as hip or flat out crazy as Blue Rondo A La Turk. They couldn`t dance like Chris Sullivan, and then there was their involvement in “Absolute Beginners”, which shot the scene in the foot, getting it woefully wrong and putting it overground.

Prior to Weekend, Alison Statton had been in the seminal under-recorded Rough Trade band, Young Marble Giants, who for some reason (the name?) I`d always thought were something like The Swans. I couldn`t have been more wrong:

The other YMGs, Phillip & Stuart Moxham, continued as The Gist who did this (which has become a favourite in some circles):

Booth had been in Punk and Post-Punk bands, but while working in the mail order department at Mole Jazz in London`s Kings Cross he developed an interest in Brazilian music. Aware of YMG, he likened their minimalism to Eno and could hear Astrud Gilberto in Alison. With `60s Bossa Nova in his head he sent some solo sketches to Statton, and Weekend, named after the Jean-Luc Goddard film, started looking for gigs.

I picked up the vinyl re-issue of the “The `81 Demos” (the final versions of these songs appeared on the Rough Trade LP “La Variete” in 1982, while the demos were initially unearthed by Vinyl Japan in 1995) on Blackest Ever Black for two reasons:

1. It`s packaged like an old Peter Saville Factory Record

2. I was curious as to what an `80s indie Jazz band were doing on BEB.

“Nostalgia” is bedroom melancholy of the highest order, in Dub. The Durutti Column in a rented room on Whalley Range. Drum machines and drones.

The drawn out of Raga of “Red Planes” has Spike`s mournful medieval violin execute a slow fouetté en tournant around the Boss DR55 and Alison`s bassline, performed, the sleeve notes reveal, in homage to John Cale, The Velvet Underground and Nico.

Jazz? Kinda Cold Wave beatnik, filed next to those Factory 12s, but also sharing a squat with one of BEB`s previous re-issues, the This Heat-related “Flaming Tunes”.

Note to self: Buy new camera

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