Saturday, June 10, 2006

Jukebox Juicebox #18

Baby Ford “BFORD9” (1992)
Looking back, I’m really not sure what tempted me to hesitate at, pick up, then buy this at a record shop in Yate. Yate, if you're interested, was voted 45th most crap town in the UK (The Idler, 2004 –
see link). Whilst I’d only question Yate's rather low placing at No. 45, it's saving grace was Kay’s Record Store, which secreted a rewardingly eclectic selection amongst the likes of Take That, Bon Jovi and Simply Red. Actually, I would initially – and wrongly - have lumped Baby Ford (aka Peter Ford) in with them, on the strength of his annoyingly poppy “Chikki Chikki Ahh Ahh” and cover of T-Rex’s “Children Of The Revolution” in the late 1980s. However, something about "BFORD9"'s minimalist sleeve and intriguing track titles made me think that this might be something different. It probably didn’t do any harm that I was listening to The Shamen’s seminal “En-Tact” album a hell of a lot at the time, leading me to buy "BFORD9" on spec, in the hope that it would be a similar revelation. “RU486”, named after the controversial abortion drug, is a relentless, repetitive acid house opener, with the sole vocal line urging you to “stick it out”. Follow-up “Fetish” provides, if anything, an even more relentlessly aggressive dancefloor sound but remains accessible and compelling. Just as you begin to wonder how much further Ford can push this, he confounds expectations with “Move-On”, a downtempo number with ‘proper’ lyrics. In the fact, "BFORD9" never revisits the nosebleed threatening intensity of it’s introductory tracks, only the funky “Disconoddy”, which samples The Rolling Stones and (I think) Dead Or Alive to great effect, upping the tempo significantly midway through. Aside from this, the album increasingly develops a minimalist, post-club soundscape. This is perfectly realised on a version of previous club hit “Change” and the alternate takes on “Move-On” and “Fetish”. It was another five years before the next Baby Ford album, 1997’s “Headphoneasy Rider”, which took minimalism to a logical, but (for me) rather unengaging next step. Baby Ford’s minimal techno sound is still prominent, with two 12” single collaborations last month alone. "BFORD9" proves that Peter Ford was pushing the envelope way back, with a strong collection of songs that has dated surprisingly well in the past decade and a half and dispels the myth that all acid house and techno artists were one-trick ponies.

1. RU486 / 2. Fetish / 3. Move-On / 4. In Your Blood / 5. Blow Back / 6. Sashay Around The Fuzzbox / 7. Intro (20, Park Drive) / 8. 20, Park Drive / 9. Disconoddy / 10. Change (konrad cadet mix 1) / 11. Move-On (alt) / 12. Fetish (9ax) / 13. Noddy / 14. 20, Park Drive (instrumental)

Baby Ford / Peter Ford site
here .

The Future Sound of London “ISDN” (1995)
“ISDN”’s Spinal Tap-esque ‘none-more-black’ cardboard sleeve masks a colourful visual and aural interior. Ostensibly a collection of ‘live’ tracks, broadcast via ISDN at various periods in 1994, “ISDN” was initially released as a limited edition in December of that year. Sounds are merged into a seamless, often unsettling, whole that renders track titles largely redundant with it's numerous changes in pace and style. One sample asks, “You know the way everybody’s into weirdness right now?”. FSOL clearly do and exploit it to the full on this album. Opening with a live gig sample, an irritated musician demands “Could you leave the lights alone please? Stop flashing your fucking lights!”, before a slow, looped beat kicks in for “Just A Fuckin Idiot”. “The Far Out Son Of Lung And the Ramblings Of A Madman” ups the tempo, with additional treated bass and trumpet plus samples from “Alien”, and is perhaps "ISDN"'s most accessible track. The similarly jazz-flavoured “Smokin Japanese Babe” is a close second and incredibly infectious. It’s perhaps no surprise that the latter two tracks made a subsequent single release, being a darker reflection of the trip hop / Bristol sound typified by Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky at the time. The gloriously titled “Eyes Pop – Skin Explodes – Everybody Dead” is a surprisingly light faux-piano piece, which would fit in well with their current releases as Amorphous Androgynous, and “Egypt” could easily be mistaken for an Andrew Weatherall / Two Lone Swordsmen track. “Are They Fightin Us” in some respects reprises “Smokin Japanese Babe”, whilst “Hot Knives” marks a brief return to electro / bpms. “ISDN” has an underlying sense of menace throughout, which may not appeal to those who have discovered FSOL through “The Isness” or “Alice In Ultraland”. However, if you’re a fan of earlier albums, particularly “Lifeforms” and “Dead Cities”, then you’ll enjoy this. A re-release of “ISDN”, which replaces tracks 12, 13 and 15 with the equally strong “Kai”, “Amoeba” and “Snake Hips”, is more readily available but seek out the original version if you can.

1. Just A Fuckin Idiot / 2. The Far Out Son Of Lung And the Ramblings Of A Madman / 3. Appendage / 4. Slider / 5. Smokin Japanese Babe / 6. You’re Creeping Me Out / 7. Eyes Pop – Skin Explodes – Everybody Dead / 8. It’s My Mind That Works / 9. Dirty Shadows / 10. Tired / 11. Egypt / 12. Are They Fightin Us / 13. Hot Knives / 14. A Study Of Six Guitars / 15. An End Of Sorts

Official FSOL website
here .
There’s also a very good fan site
here .

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Blogger Atom Boy said...

Hi Bro'

Yate, top 5, surely... ;-)

To be honest, I think the only Baby Ford stuff I've ever heard are tracks that you've put on compilations for me in the past!

Stakker Humanoid was probably the track that first got me into dance music, and I've loved pretty much everything that the FSOL boys have done since.

I think you'll find that your version of ISDN (with the black cover) was actually a limited pressing. The main release in 1995 (with white cover) also changed those three tracks, and the vinyl double included the three newer tracks plus Are They Fightin' Us.

You know what FSOL are like. They always seem to release different versions of everything, depending upon the label/country. The Isness, for example, was released under both their FSOL and Amorphous monikers had had completely different tracklistings. Caused me immense confusion at the time!

2:17 am  
Blogger Khayem said...

Yep, I did find that my copy of ISDN was the limited edition... as mentioned in my opening paragraph! :-)

I know what you mean about FSOL's penchant for multiple identities/releases, though. I've been trying to get a copy of the early 1990s Earthbeat compilation, featuring Metropolis, Semi Real, Yage, and many more... all of which are aliases of Dougans and Cobain!

6:59 am  
Blogger Atom Boy said...

Sorry, I didn't word that very well, I was in a rush! What I meant to say was that it wasn't the (more recent) re-release that altered the tracklisting, but rather the main release at the time.

I noticed I'd made a pig's ear of my comment after I'd already hit the publish comment button! Sorry about that!

11:24 am  
Blogger Khayem said...

My bad as well: should have used 'standard' or 'non-limited' release, rather than 're-release'. I was probably half asleep when adding my review, if that's any excuse!

6:25 pm  

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