Thursday, 8 August 2013
A few years ago, my wife and I decided to change our cable subscription because the music channels that had once been so good were, basically, not that good anymore. Remember the genius that was the UK MTV2? It was gone. So we ended up with two channels that now only show music videos when we are out at work.
It wasn’t always like this. When I first got Satellite TV circa 1993, we used to be able to pick up several unscrambled foreign channels, I seem to recall it was channels like RTL who showed old Beat Clubs and Rockpalast gigs, which from a bootleggers view, was like manna from heaven. As time went on, the quality of these channels started to dip, basically because they were nothing more than freebies that you didn’t “officially” get with your subscription package, but they still survived until the start of the noughties.
What I remember was how some of these channels had really good music shows - the now defunct “Viva Zwei” had an indie show called “Fast Forward“ I do recall, and I discovered The Hives in early 2001, after stumbling across some high energy live performances on one such show. And on another edition I discovered Goldfrapp. They showed some live clips, and I was rather taken by the stern looking, Marlene Dietrich apeing lead singer, Alison Goldfrapp. I immediately fell in love with her. The sound and look of the band was such that, like The Hives, they seemed as though they should be a European band, but they weren’t. They were a London/Bristol duo hybrid, and it was simply that the likes of “Viva Zwei” were championing them when very few people in the UK were. Alison looked like an absolute sex bomb, with the most incredible voice, whilst the music itself was what can only be described as ‘cinematic’...bold and brash one minute, genteel and soothing the next. When I saw them soon after at the Union Chapel, basically a North London church, the sheer surreal-ness of the group seemed to suit the setting perfectly.
Alison had worked mostly as a backup singer during the second half of the nineties, but came into contact with classically trained multi instrumentalist Will Gregory in the late 90‘s. He asked her to collaborate with him on a song for a movie soundtrack he was putting together, and although this particular song didn’t get completed, the pair decided to form a band, named after her surname.
In May 2000, their debut single, “Lovely Head” appeared. It typified the sound of the forthcoming LP, a lush, orchestral, partially electronic piece of pop that sounded unlike anything else around at the time, Goldfrapp’s deep, expressive vocals and the “whistling solo” giving it an air of mystery. It was housed in what I can only describe as a Swiss mountain farm scene (imagery later incorporated into the live version of the band), with a deer on a hilltop, and a sheep (I think). It was to be the only Goldfrapp record not to use their now standard logo, which was instead introduced on follow up single, “Utopia”. On this 45, the electronica element was more to the fore, whilst Goldfrapp indulged in some quite astonishing operatic wailing at the song’s climax.
“Felt Mountain”, the debut LP, surfaced in late 2000, and followed the general cinematic/electronic vibe of the two singles. It sold steadily, with sales being boosted by a later nomination for the Mercury Music Prize, and an autumn 2001 double disc reissue, with a second CD of selected B-sides and remixes tagged on, plus a CD-Rom section containing a short film previously shown on Channel 4 in the middle of the night, “A Trip To Felt Mountain”. Critics adored the album, praising it as “elegant and graceful”, and “stylishly decadent music that should appeal to all fans of film noir”. As the band headed out on tour, Gregory began to decline from appearing on stage, and the multitude of musicians on stage were, in effect, backing a solo Alison Goldfrapp.
After “Human”, issued in early 2001, helped raise the band’s profile, an attempt at getting “Utopia” into the charts was successfully conducted, as a remixed version of the song charted in June 2001. When the next and final single from the LP was issued, “Pilots”, it appeared as a double A with “Lovely Head”, meaning that - in one form of another - all five singles from the record dented the top 100.
There was much multi formatting of the singles for the LP, pretty much everything appearing on three formats, with something exclusive on each. My “triple disc” editions of “Black Cherry” and the reissued “Strict Machine” are housed in cardboard slipcases, the singles were sold individually, but if you were on the Goldfrapp mailing list, you would get one of these boxes sent to you to put your CD and DVD editions inside.
2005 saw the release of “Supernature”, which again saw some change in terms of image design for the singles, although musically, it did retain the electronic stylings of it’s predecessor. The difference this time, was that Goldfrapp were getting more and more popular in the UK, with the LP going to number 2, and eventually selling roughly twice as much as “Black Cherry” had. The lead single, the slightly T.Rex-esque “Ooh La La” became the band’s first top 10 hit. Initial copies of the CD version of the album came with a free DVD, and the band headed out on tour again, (which by now had ex-Lightning Seeds keyboardist Angie Pollack on board). A series of limited edition live albums from all of the band’s UK shows from the fall of 2005 were then released online, each housed in - from the front - identical “Live 2005” sleeves, but with slightly different track listings between some of the shows. Suffice to say, these are not cheap things to come by anymore as they were pressed just once in small numbers. They were then followed by the US only remix set, “We Are Glitter”, designed to showcase remixes that had not appeared on single releases in the States thus far.
Another radical change came in 2008, with the “Seventh Tree” LP. It had a far more laid back, folky (“Folktronica“ on Wikipedia, in case you thought I was lying), acoustic style approach, and Goldfrapp again adopted a new “look” for the album and single artwork, pastoral photos of her dressed in clown gear wandering around the countryside. Although it’s very much claimed that critics fell over themselves to praise this one, I seem to recall it’s about-turn of style caught some reviewers on the hop, and I am convinced some critics were less than enthusiastic about it. But there’s no denying the beautiful bouncy pop of “Happiness”, or the utterly gorgeously euphoric “Caravan Girl”. Goldfrapp was now appearing onstage barefoot in flowery dresses, the days of posing with naked female wolves now long gone.
The original album was issued as a deluxe CD+DVD edition, in a nice fancy box, with the bonus DVD coming housed in it’s own sleeve, along with a poster, postcards, and a lyric book. The album was reissued in late 2008, in a new slipcase sleeve, as a revamped double disc affair, with the bonus DVD this time around including parts of a live gig and the videos from the LP.
2010’s “Head First” has turned out to be the least loved of all the Goldfrapp LP’s, which even though it went top 10, confused critics with it’s desire to ape the loathed 80’s synthpop sound. It’s the poorest selling of all the five studio records, but it’s not a total disaster. In keeping with the synthpop vibe, it was later reissued on Cassette for a Record Store Day event - so expect to pay an arm and a leg for one on eBay as only 500 copies were made.
Having previously multi formatted themselves to death, the long slow drawn out murdering of the physical single saw each of the 45’s taken from the record released on one format only, with “Alive” appearing as a square shaped picture disc, the first UK Goldfrapp single to only be issued on vinyl since the obscure “Satin Chic” 7” picture disc from 2006. In 2012, a rather selective “The Singles” set was released, including two new songs, and only including, from “Felt Mountain”, the two singles that had flopped first time around, “Utopia” and “Lovely Head”! Why the label couldn’t have just issued a set that simply included ALL the singles from all the albums, I really don’t know.
Next month sees the release of “Tales Of Us”. A super deluxe version is appearing in November, as is now so often the norm for new albums. It is a “dreamy acoustic” album apparently, with the first 500 copies of the box set also signed by the duo. I understand the DVD included in the box is a DVD-Audio only disc, so you are basically paying out four times as much for the “bonus material” on the CD. Still, it’s nice to have them back, it’s just a shame that the chances of them having the same impact on the charts that they did circa “Supernature” are probably over. And yes, I am still in love with Alison.
I have listed, where they exist, the special editions of the band’s albums, and just the standard edition of any where no notable release or re-release was conducted, so far. As for the 45’s, well, virtually all are shown, but singles containing “less than nothing exclusive” are omitted for clarity’s sake. There’s still a lot to find, if you are just starting out, mind you!
Felt Mountain (2000, 2xCD reissue from 2001, Mute LCDSTUMM 188)
Black Cherry (2003, CD, Mute CDSTUMM 196)
Supernature (2005, CD+DVD, Mute LCDSTUMM 250, some housed in slipcase using alternate cover)
Live 2005: 3rd October Brighton Dome (2005, 2xCD, Mute/Live Here Now, no catalogue number)
Live 2005: 5th October Norwich UEA (2005, 2xCD, Mute/Live Here Now, no catalogue number)
Live 2005: 6th October London Brixton Academy (2005, 2xCD, Mute/Live Here Now, no catalogue number)
Live 2005: 8th October Manchester Academy (2005, 2xCD, Mute/Live Here Now, no catalogue number)
Live 2005: 9th October Nottingham Rock City (2005, 2xCD, Mute/Live Here Now, no catalogue number)
Live 2005: 11th October Leeds The Refectory (2005, 2xCD, Mute/Live Here Now, no catalogue number)
We Are Glitter (2006, US CD, Mute 9335-2)
Seventh Tree (2008, CD+DVD in boxset, Mute LCDSTUMM 280)
Seventh Tree (2008, reissue, CD+DVD in new slipcase p/s, Mute TCDSTUMM 280)
Head First (2010, CD, Mute CDSTUMM 320)
Live 2010: 9th November Bristol O2 Academy (2010, 2xCD, Mute/Live Here Now, CDLHN 79)
The Singles (2012, CD, Mute 5099 930 116726)
Lovely Head (Album Version)/(Stare Mesto Mix)/(Miss World Mix) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 247, also on 12” in different colour p/s)
Utopia (Original Mix)/(New Ears Mix)/(Sunroof Mix) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 253, also on 12”)
Human (Single Version)/(Calexico Instrumental)/(Massey’s Neanderthal Mix) (12”, Mute 12MUTE 259)
Human (Single Version)/(Calexico Vocal)/(Massey’s Cro-Magnon Mix) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 259)
Utopia (Genetically Enriched)/UK Girls (Physical)/Human (Live, Brussels Ancienne Belgique) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 264)
Utopia (Jori Hulkkonen Remix)/(Tom Middleton Cosmos Vocal)/(Tim Wright Remix) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 264, unique p/s with insert)
Utopia (Tom Middleton Cosmos Acid Vocal)/(Jori Hulkkonen Remix)/(Tim Wright Remix) (12”, Mute 12MUTE 264)
Pilots (On A Star)/Lovely Head/Horse Tears (Live, Brussels Ancienne Belgique) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 267)
Pilots (On A Star)/Lovely Head (Stare Mesto Mix)/Utopia (Tom Middleton Cosmos Acid Dub)/Pilots (On A Star) (Video) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 267, different p/s)
Train (LP Version)/(Village Hall Mix)/Big Black Cloud, Little White Lie/Train (Video) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 291)
El Train (T.Raumschmiere Remix)/(Ewan Pearson 6/8 Vocal)/(Ewan Pearson 4/4 Instrumental) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 291, different p/s)
Strict Machine (Single Mix)/White Soft Rope/Hairy Trees (Live London ULU 6.3.2003) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 295)
Strict Machine (Ewan Pearson Instrumental Remix)/(Rowan’s Remix)/Train (Ewan Pearson Dub) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 295, different p/s)
Strict Machine (Ewan’s Stripped Machine Remix)/Deep Honey (Live London ULU 6.3.2003)/Lovely Head (Live London Shepherds Bush Empire 4.12.2001 - Video) (DVD, Mute DVDMUTE 295, unique p/s)
Strict Machine (Calderone & Suryanto Mix)/(Ewan’s Stripped Machine Remix)/(Peter Rauhofer UK Mix)/(Peter Rauhofer NYC Mix)/(Single Mix)/(Benny Benassi Sfaction Extended Mix)/(Ewan Pearson Extended Vocal) (2x12”, Mute 12MUTE 295)
Twist (Single Mix)/Yes Sir/Deer Stop (Live London Somerset House 13.7.2003) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 311)
Twist (Jacques Lu Cont’s Conversion Perversion Mix)/Forever (Mountaineers Remix)/Twist (Dimitri Tikovoi Remix) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 311, red p/s)
Twist (Alternative Video)/Train (Live London Somerset House 13.7.2003)/Strict Machine (Live London Somerset House 13.7.2003) (DVD, Mute DVDMUTE 311, unique p/s)
Black Cherry (Single Mix)/Gone To Earth (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 320)
Black Cherry (M83 Remix)/Twist (Kurtis Mantronik’s Twist And Vac Mix)/Black Cherry (Live London Somerset House 13.7.2003 - Video)/Twist (Video) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 320, different p/s)
Black Cherry (Lawrence Remix)/Strict Machine (Video)/Utopia (Live London Shepherds Bush Empire 4.12.2001 - Video)/(Tom Middleton Cosmos Acid Dub Edit) (DVD, Mute DVDMUTE 320, unique p/s)
Strict Machine (Single Mix)/(Benny Benassi Sfaction Edit) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 335)
Strict Machine (Paris Loaded)/(We Are Glitter)/(Benny Benassi Sfaction Extended Mix)/(Benny Benassi Dub) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 335, different p/s)
Strict Machine (Calderone & Suryanto Mix Edit)/Sartorious (Live, St Malo Route Du Rock Festival 2001 - Video)/Deer Stop (Live London Shepherds Bush Empire 4.12.2001 - Video) (DVD, Mute DVDMUTE 335, unique p/s)
Strict Machine (Benny Benassi Dub)/(Victor Calderone Remix) (Remix 12”, Mute L12MUTE 335, uses CD2 p/s)
Ooh La La (Single Version)/All Night Operator (Part 1) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 342)
Ooh La La (Benny Benassi Remix Extended)/(Phones Re-Edit)/(Tiefschwarz Dub) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 342, different p/s)
Ooh La La (Original Extended Mix)/(Phones Re-Edit) (12”, Mute 12MUTE 342)
Ooh La La (Benny Benassi Remix Extended)/(Benny Benassi Dub)/(Tiefschwarz Dub) (Remix 12”, Mute L12MUTE 342, unique p/s)
Ooh La La (Video)/(Video #2)/(When Andy Bell Met Manhattan Clique Mix) (DVD, Mute DVDMUTE 342, unique p/s)
Number 1 (Single Version)/Beautiful (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 351)
Number 1 (Alan Braxe And Fred Falke Main Mix)/Ooh La La (Live @ V Festival 21.8.2005)/Number 1 (Video) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 351, different p/s)
Number 1 (Alan Braxe And Fred Falke Club Remix)/(Alan Braxe And Fred Falke Instrumental Remix) (12”, Mute 12MUTE 351, “zoomed in” p/s)
Number 1 (“Postcards From The Summer” Video)/Satin Chic (Special Performance Film)/Lovely 2 C U (T. Raumschmiere Remix) (DVD, DVDMUTE 351, unique p/s)
Ride A White Horse (Single Version)/Slide In (DFA Remix Edit) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 356)
Ride A White Horse (Serge Santiago Re-edit)/(FK-EK Vocal Version)/(FK Disco Whores Dub)/(Ewan Pearson Disco Odyssey Parts 1&2) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 356, different p/s)
Ride A White Horse (Serge Santiago Re-edit)/(FK-EK Vocal Version) (12”, Mute 12MUTE 356)
Ride A White Horse (Ewan Pearson Disco Odyssey Parts 1&2)/(FK Disco Whores Dub) (Remix 12”, Mute L12MUTE 356, unique “text“ p/s)
Ride A White Horse (Live @ London Brixton Academy 6.10.2005 - Video)/(Video #2)/Number 1 (Mum Remix) (DVD, Mute DVDMUTE 356, unique p/s)
Fly Me Away (Single Version)/(Bombay Mix) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 361)
Fly Me Away (C2 RMX 4)/(Ladytron Remix)/You Never Know (Mum Remix) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 361, “shattered“ image p/s)
Fly Me Away (C2 RMX 1)/(C2 RMX 2)/Slide In (DFA Remix) (12”, Mute 12MUTE 361)
Fly Me Away (Inflight Movies - Video)/Ride A White Horse (Video)/Time Out From The World (Fields Remix) (DVD, Mute DVDMUTE 361, unique p/s)
Satin Chic (Through The Mystic Mix, Dimension 11: Flaming Lips)/Boys Will Be Boys (Numbered 7” Picture Disc with insert, Mute MUTE 368)
A+E/Clowns (Video) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 389)
A+E (Album Mix)/(Gui Boratto Remix)/(Gui Boratto Dub)/(Hercules And Love Affair Remix) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 389, different p/s)
A+E (Album Mix)/(Maps Instrumental Remix) (7” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Mute MUTE 389)
Happiness (Single Version)/Road To Somewhere (Acoustic Version) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 392)
Happiness (Beyond The Wizards Sleeve Re-Animation)/Monster Love (Goldfrapp Vs Spiritualized)/Eat Yourself (Yeasayer Remix) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 392, different p/s)
Happiness (Single Version)/(Metronomy Remix Feat. The Teenagers) (7” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Mute MUTE 392)
Caravan Girl/Happiness (Video) (CD1, Mute CDMUTE 401)
Caravan Girl (Live Choral Version)/Monster Love (Live Acoustic Version)/Little Bird (Live @ London Union Chapel 2008 - Video) (CD2, Mute LCDMUTE 401, different p/s)
Caravan Girl (Edit)/Little Bird (Animal Collective Remix) (7” Picture Disc, Mute MUTE 401)
Rocket (LP Version)/(Tiesto Remix)/(Richard X One X Zero Remix)/(Penguin Prison Remix)/(Grum Remix) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 430)
Alive (Radio Edit)/(Joakim Remix - Edit) (Square Shaped Picture Disc, Mute MUTE 432)
Believer (Album Version)/(Joris Voorn Remix)/(Vince Clarke Remix)/(Subway Remix)/(Davide Rossi Reinterpretation) (CD, Mute CDMUTE 436)