Monday, 28 March 2011
Thee Psychick Month Ov March
March has been very much thee month ov Psychic TV here at Hartop Towers. It began at the start of the month with an E Mail from a very good friend with a picture of an early Psychic TV button badge and the "I found this and thought of you" comment. I was touched. It was a badge I wore years ago, but has since been lost (as badges do get)... I still have a Psychic TV "cross" pin and a "Force The Hand Of Chance" button badge, but the skull motif is no more - so if you're reading this Steve....stick in the post please!
Then through the post came the excellent "deluxe" 4LP set from Vinyl-On-Demand. Two double albums in gatefold sleeves encased in a cloth box with PTV Skull in glorious blood red on the cover. The recordings made by Genesis P-Orridge and White Stains take up the first three sides of vinyl. I am slightly confused here having never heard these 1990 recordings before but it does sound a lot like the Thee Majesty CD "At Stockholm" which is reworks and remixes from those sessions. I am not concerned as it is beautiful stuff. Spoken word over soft synthetic muzak. Side 4 is two tracks from the "Themes 2" period, soundtracks inspired by and for the work of Derek Jarman. "Pirates" has a great Burroughs sample rolling over the music. Sides 5 and 6 is an unedited recording of Psychic TV live at the Danceteria in New York, 1983. Previously released as "N.Y.Scum" on Temple Records, this LP is probably the best of the PTV live documents, and here it is crystal clear and sounding as urgent and fresh as ever. It has the track "Fear" which is not in the "N.Y.Scum" LP. Side 7 is three versions of "Unclean", and side 8 has three unreleased studio recordings, including the beautiful "We Kiss" in Demo format. I am simply cock-a-hoop with this release, as Vinyl-On-Demand release the goods yet again. Downside....slim on information. V.O.D. box releases usually come with booklets or pamphlets to devour whilst listening. Not with this one though.
Shortly after came the "collector's box" CD Set "Themes" released by Cold Spring Records. This one was to be released last December (the 23rd), but due to snow the pressing plant shut its' doors throughout December, re-opened in January and the backlog had grown. A re-release date of "Early March" was given. The box set comprises of 2 CD albums, two double CD albums, a very readable booklet and a postcard and because I pre-ordered in November I got a limited CD of Psychic TV "Live In Basildon" 1986.
"Themes One" sounds really good on CD, the sound of Psychic TV (from this era) has not dated at all. "Themes 2" comes as a double CD. First CD has the album "Themes 2" followed by the "Unclean" 12" and the previously unreleased "Unclean Monks", which is a track of Genesis chanting "Jesus"...I like. When I find a space with great echo / reverb acoustics I force the hand of habit and start singing "Unclean". Corridors and stairwells of Torbay Hospital are the best!
The second CD here is "Themes 2 A Prayer For Derek Jarman" which to me sounds like a remix of "Themes 2". No new stuff here and a tad disappointing. "Themes 3" double CD is of two live recordings from USA. The "Themes 3" CD is from Chicago 1984, it is OK but was always the weakest of the "Themes" series back in the 1980's. The other CD is "Themes 3" live in Boston (Massachusetts not Lincolnshire) 1984. Superior to the other CD, mainly as it doesn't have Monte Cazazza drawling over the sound....
I have a problem with "Themes 4", "Themes 4 Lady Jaye" in full title. This album has nothing to do with the "Themes" series, it is (quite simply) a Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge album, and it is extremely poor. Unlistenably poor. Start with "Themes 1" and end a few hours later with "Themes 4"as I did and it is a disappointing aural journey. "Live In Basildon" is a poor recording of an open-air gig back in 1986 when Psychic T.V. had turned into a "rock group" using session musicians. I gave this CD about 10 minutes before assuming it would never improve.
As a collector of Psychic T.V. 1982 - 1987 this release is essential..but a little disappointing. If Cold Spring Records had just released the remastered versions of "Themes 1, 2 & 3" and kept the lovely booklet and postcard, the release would be all the better. If considering buying / getting either or I would certainly say - get the Vinyl-On-Demand release.
One thing I've noticed with these two releases is the complete absence of credit for Paula P-Orridge on the Live in New York or "Themes 2" recordings. I have tried to find out some explanation via the internet, but can't find owt. Wikipedia has Paula as a member of 23 Skidoo back in the 1970's...that's not true is it? But why has she been wiped from PTV credits? Can anyone help?
I can listen to Psychic T.V. from their inceptual recordings to (roughly) 1985, I think that was the year I saw them live at Manchester Royal Northern College Of Music (with The Impossible Dreamers as support), but that could have been 1986? That wasn't a bad gig, it was an excellent gig for which we'd all taken unsurpassable amounts of mushrooms topped off with hot knives, chillums and lager, ( another story, as the evening also includes being thrown out of the venue at one point for trying to roll a joint at the back of an "audience with Ivor Cutler") but by this time in my life my interest in "music" was thinning and by the time I saw Psychic TV live in Nottingham 1987 I had all but "given up" on their sound. Listen to "Roman P." on Sordide Sentimentale Records then on "Live In Basildon" and you'll understand.
1: Psychic TV Badge.
2: Psychic TV Vinyl-On-Demand Box
3: Psychic TV Cold Spring Postcard
4: Psychic TV "Themes" Box Set CD's
5: Psychic TV "Live In Basildon" CD Cover
6: Genesis P-Orridge Live @ The Mardi Gras, Nottingham. 1987. (photo by me).