So here’s the second Cud record I’ve written about on here thus far: I think they’re the first band to achieve this dubious honour. It’s not particularly a surprise, as I have a lot of Cud records. I’m sure that more will be mentioned here. In fact, I even have two formats of this release – the twelve-inch you see above as well as the seven-inch release. True fandom, is that not?
As with the previously-mentioned Cud record, this one is from the time when A&M were liberally showering them with money to wrap their releases in all kinds of gimmickry. As such this one is on clear vinyl, it’s numbered (a ‘limited edition’ of something like 10,000 copies…) and it comes along with a push-out-the-pieces Cud mobile, lovingly illustrated by Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl – and later Gorillaz – fame. My push-out-the-pieces mobile has its pieces firmly un-pushed, by the way.
Related story: as a spirited teenager doing an A-Level art class, I was asked to produce a poster to ‘advertise a product’. Naturally I put together an A2 poster promoting Cud’s then-recent song ‘Eau Water’, lovingly hand-rendered with a beatifully-illustrated tap and flowing water, created using an actual paint-and-compressed-air airbrush. Yes, these were the days before Photoshop ran the world. Proper, this-takes-hours-longer-than-it-really-should, art!
Another release on the always-beautiful Great Pop Supplement label: this one looks particularly fine, with its tracing paper wraparound sleeve, hand-finished with a stamp and a comic strip cut from what looks to be an old Dandy or Beano. This is one of GPS’ earlier releases, back when every one came as a limited run of just 111 copies. Mine is hand-numbered 60, and also contains a tracing paper insert. Tracing paper a-go-go. Tracing paper is often favoured by the hand-production indie pop/post rock crowd, and with good reason. It virtually never fails to look cool and special.
I really like the style of the cartoon that’s affixed on this sleeve – that classic British comic strip style with faked halftone textures painstakingly finished by the illustrator, and the addition of sound effect-type words like the ‘SPELL‘ in the third panel here. It’s such a classic and particular style, and it always seems so effortless and sketchy – whilst being in fact completely consistent in characterisation and pseudo-realism. Love it.
Wow: this two-album compilation is a line drawn in the sands of self-belief. You won’t find many bands that a mere five years after their inception merit a collection of such perceived importance and value as this one. Gatefold sleeve; numbered (“The Free Story is released in a limited edition”, state the huffy liner notes); printed inner sleeves that themselves contain further record-protecting bags; and a stapled-in four page booklet that talks through, in more detail than most people would like to know about, the history of the phenomenon known as Free. And you thought that they were just that band that did ‘All Right Now’? Hell, no. If you’re taken in by the majesty of this tribute, you’d be justified in thinking that they’re the greatest musical event of the past fifty years.
There’s a whole ton of long-haired, flare-trousered, coke-fuelled 1960s-fallout self-confidence on display here. It’s hard not to be seduced. Bands these days just don’t seem to mean it quite so desperately or convincingly as those that emerged blinking from the excesses of the ’60s into the mysterious 1970s. I want every band to mark their fifth anniversary with this kind of double-album tribute to their Story So Far. It’s like the music industry equivalent of a celebrity kiss’n’tell (ghost-written) biography.
It doesn’t get much more DIY indie pop than this… hand-finished, sprayed, brilliant wraparound sleeve, hand numbered in pencil (number 130 out of just 400 copies), a couple of inserts included. I love it. How could anybody ever prefer a slimline jewel-cased CD over the artistry so obviously inherent in this record’s packaging? (Not that I have evidence that anybody would prefer that, you understand – I’m just attempting to make a point).
Thinking about it, when I state ‘just 400 copies’ up there, I should consider more carefully what I’m saying. Four hundred copies of this record exist. That might not sound like much, but as I’ve found out myself (at the expense of both finances and storage space), it’s a tough job to shift even a hundred copies of a record by hand, let alone four hundred. Just try keeping four hundred copies of a record under the bed – your nose will touch the ceiling, almost.
Pretty mind-boggling when you hear these statistics about Thriller or whatever selling, like, fifty million copies. How much space would fifty million copies of a record take up? Are there even fifty million turntables and CD players in existence?
Picture discs are weird things, aren’t they? For a start, there’s the endless confusion in my mind about the spelling involved: is it picture disc or picture disk? Does it matter? Any ideas? Beyond that, they always seem to me like a fantastic theoretical idea that never quite plays out as it should in reality. This Erase Errata record is a case in point – the imagery, as nice as a design as it is, is hampered in its visual representation by having to contend with the differing radial textures that are inherent in a seven inch record, along with the moiré patterns that can so easily be a side effect of printing onto a concentric spiral. They’re never quite as satisfying as they should be – although they’re always on heavy vinyl. Is this required by the printing process?
Aside from my pickiness over picture discs/disks, this is a nice-looking package: the record comes in a plastic sleeve and is wrapped with a vertical obi that’s hand-numbered, and thin enough not to include all of the relevant band/track information that is added here in the form of a tiny rectangular insert. It’s a pleasure to regard, and more to the point, a pleasure to listen to, as Erase Errata were a great band. I picked this record up from, as memory serves, Norman Records, soon after seeing the band play at a Ladyfest gig in Bristol, some years back. Also playing that day were a band called Kling Klang, who I remember featuring an ex-member of Elastica and now remember not being the same Kling Klang that are doing quite well for themselves at the time of writing. But, you know what? I’ve just looked up my facts on the internet and the band I saw were Klang. I added the Kling myself as part of forming that memory. So, no need to call in the band-name-copyright-protection lawyers just yet.
As a nearly final aside, I note on the obi on this record that it’s part of the ‘Lungcast Records “Music” Series’, which amuses me greatly – I wonder what other series, other than music, a record label would be releasing?
As a final aside, Erase Errata reminded and still remind me of Kleenex, aka Liliput, the outstandingly awesome Swiss punk/post-punk band of the late 70s/early 80s. This makes me happy.
Another record bought on the recommendation of Volcanic Tongue’s excited twitterings (in the traditional, non-internet sense of the word…), this is a reissue of some long-lost 1971 album that – according to VT – contains ‘vocals that taste of jugs of PCP and long, almost oppressively intense, guitar-drenched paeans to personal exorcism’. Well I never. It’s also numbered, limited edition fans: my copy is #0194 of 1000.
With no recollection whatsoever of what this actually sounds like, I’ll give it a spin right now and note my thoughts.
Side One, Track One: ‘Sanc-Divided’… cor lumme if it’s not a relatively accurate Doors rip-off. All mysterious vocals and creeping basslines.
Side One, Track Two: ‘Come Out Of Her’… more of the same, with a bit of a Country Joe & The Fish ‘Bass Strings’-like swelling of sound thang going on. This sounds more 1969 than 1971 – maybe their acid hadn’t worn off yet. The vocals are impressively rasping, this gives me a sore throat listening to it.
Side One, Track Three: ‘Eye Of The Hurricane’… aha, now we’re in ’71 and we’ve gone all Black Sabbath/Led Zep. Epic!
Side Two, Track One: ‘Sons Come To Birth’… sounds like a long-lost Steppenwolf B-side.
Side Two, Track Two: ‘This Bird (Sky High)’… ooh, right back into the deep depths of Country Joe reverb and confused wonder. This is great, proper stoned hippy journey to the centre of the third eye music. They keep forgetting the groove they just got into and the song suddenly turns into something else (most often yet another shade of the work of the Doors).
So there you go. Glib, no? I’ve just summed up a band’s hard work and dedication there in only a few brief lines. I will listen to this record more though, now I’ve dug it out again – incredibly reminiscent of other bands it may be, but as I always say, it’s better to sound exactly like a great band than it is to sound a little bit like a crap band. (Actually, I’ve never said that before). This is music to smoke reefer, wear a fringed suede cowboy jacket, grow a zapata and find yourself in the Californian desert to.