12 inch JMB-231
I can know almost nothing about where this record came from, and I find that to be part of its allure. I'll tell you what I do know.
I was living in Southport in the mid 80s and knew an effervescent scouser called Steve The Busker. He, like me, was a keen jumble sale and charity shop trawler with a particular penchant for records. He was the only person apart from me and my brother who loved disco at the time. More than that, we were the only people who saw disco as a form of soul music. Everyone else saw it as pathetic cheesy nonsense. A big part of that is because it belonged to a time that had become unfashionable, a time of flares and wide lapels.
The 80s was a time when individuality was breaking out. Sure, part of it was the selfish Thatcherite vision, but a positive part of it was the shedding of uniformity. Before the 80s there was a compulsory element to trends. To wear flares in the early 80s was to be a laughable buffoon. Flares were, in and of themselves, seen as comical. In the mid 70s, the same was true about drainpipe trousers.
But the 80s made great strides (couldn't resist the pun, sorry) for the freedom to carve out your own style and path and not be seen as just stupid and square. There are deeper implications of this in the freedom it granted to be different in other ways, to shed other kinds of conformity without being utterly ostracised.
This shift, which has continued apace to this day, obviously has many causes. But I reckon a key one is the ageing population. In the 60s and 70s we were overrun with under-20s so consequently there was a great cult of youth, things that were old were thought to be bad simply for being old. As the young are less of the population, so their vision holds less popular sway.
Also, as the last two or three generations have enjoyed a similar lifestyle they can relate to each other well and so appreciate each other's styles and creative expression. But in the mid-late 20th century, two or three generations back had been the World Wars, the Great Depression and suchlike; no wonder they couldn't really communicate with kids in the 70s and there were inevitable canyonesque generation gaps.
Anyway, so, there we were in the 80s, me and Steve The Busker listening to disco. He'd put me on to numerous records I'd never have found otherwise. Natural High by Bloodstone, which is quite simply the most beautiful record ever made. A gorgeous soft 70s soul slowie, listening to it is like sliding into a warm bath of chocolate duvets.
Actually, that's quite an unsavoury image if you think about it too long, but you get where I'm coming from. Like the Delfonics only much more so. These days you can find Natural High on the Jackie Brown soundtrack.
And Steve The Busker also put me on to some fucking weird shit. Top of that list would be Holland Tunnel Dive. A relentless cold electronic beat, a sharding tannoy vocal listing things that have died or run out or ceased in some other way... no bridges to burn, nothing to learn, no soul, no love, no dinner tonight, no woman, no cry, no respect, no equal rights, no garden to hoe, no seeds to sow, no food in the fridge, no TV shows, no emotion, no devotion, no trips to the ocean...
And then ending each verse - if you can call the segments that - with 'leaving for the other side, going to take a Holland Tunnel Dive' and a noise that literally sounds like a hoover kicking in, overpowering all other sound on the record. This was even weirder before I knew what Holland Tunnel was.
And on it goes. Until, once you've thoroughly entranced by the bleak metronomic quality punctuated by turbo vacuum cleaner, straight out of left field comes an absurdly chirpy bright bouncy sax break.
This was a favourite record to listen when I was first into smoking dope, it really stretches your head and makes you get your money's worth out of your drugs. One time the sax break caused a caned friend to have his mental scales tip and he ran out of the room with his hands on his ears shouting 'no trumpets! no trumpets!'.
Music reflects its environment. Runrig are the most tedious band on earth if you listen to them in London, like Big Country on mogadon. But trust me, if you're living on a Scottish island, Runrig sound fuckin great.
In the same way, Holland Tunnel Dive is a very NYC record, from the only place that could give you John Zorn, Sonic Youth and other things that sound like filing cabinets full of powertools being dropped down stairwells.
So who were impLOG? I've no idea. The label, In-Fidelity, is one I've never heard of before, its address is just a box number at Grand Central Station. I love that, it makes it feel a lot more exotic.
[MP3 deleted to make way for newer ones. Sorry!]