Wednesday, 21 September 2016

All the Madmen - Tape Recordings 1980-1983 (2016)


I ordered the Kevin Harrison album from Vinyl on Demand - who specialise in lovingly produced reissues of this sort of thing - but got this one instead due to a bit of a cock-up on the catering front.

All the Madmen were Neale James Potts, Michael William Richardson, Christopher Paul Bailey and Richard Roger Weston-Smith from Stoke-on-Trent, UK. They called themselves minimal synthesizer-punks. All the Madmen started in 1980 as an anti-rock group, believing that the way that music was played and produced should change forever. One track called Superior Life made it onto the LP Cry Havoc.

That's about as much information as I can squeeze out of my internet, although I notice with interest that the Cry Havoc compilation - which is another one I'd never heard of - came from the same label as Human Trapped Rhythms. So that's interesting.

Tape Recordings 1980-1983 and Kevin Harrison's Tape Recordings 1975-1985 are just two of an eight album box set called British Cassette Culture: Recordings 1975-1985 which I can't actually afford, so I figured I'd just bag Kevin's album seeing as Vinyl on Demand started selling a few of them separately. I was kind of pissed off when the wrong one turned up in the post, but the error was soon corrected, and it transpires that this is a cracker. I probably would have bought it anyway, had I heard of them.

Given that what little All the Madmen recorded as listed on Discogs includes a mere four tracks which failed to make it onto this single vinyl album, and four of these fourteen tracks are doubled up as different versions, I gather All the Madmen were either a fairly casual confluence of people or simply weren't around for very long. They seem to have occupied a point roughly equidistant between Vice Versa and the Human League, and specifically the Human League which covered Mick Ronson's Only After Dark. Science-fiction themes abound, but coming from a rockier, more populist angle than you might expect, unless of course you'd already noticed where the name All the Madmen was pinched from. A primitive drum machine pops and slaps as synths growl out something which might almost have been scored for guitar, and was scored for guitar in the case of a highly satisfying cover of Alice Cooper's School's Out. No-one is pretending to be a robot, although there are some great lyrics about the rat race and general sense of alienation of the time. This really was a punk band with synths.

This is almost certainly the best record I've ever been sent instead of something else by accident, and it really makes me wish we could have had All the Madmen instead of Howard Jones and half of those other synth-pop horrors of the eighties.

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