Tag: Electronic

A Beginner’s Guide To NEW ORDER Collaborations + Projects

Photo by Glenn A Baker

Like PET SHOP BOYS, NEW ORDER collaborated with other artists from quite an early stage in their career, as well as later working on their own various projects during the band’s recurring hiatuses.

Even in the JOY DIVISION era, Ian Curtis, together with manager Rob Gretton produced ‘Knew Noise’ by SECTION 25 in 1979. Following the passing of the charismatic front man, NEW ORDER underwent a well-documented transformation, aided by the advancements in technology. While NEW ORDER began with electronic instruments such as the Doctor Rhythm DR-55 drum machine, ARP Quadra and Sequential Pro-One, their synth armoury would expand to a Moog Source, Emulator, several Prophet 5s and an Oberheim DMX.

Bernard Sumner in particular relished the opportunity to further his craft by recording with other artists. Although more naturally inclined to the live environment, Peter Hook did bring his experience into the studio as well, while Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert primarily found an outlet for their knowhow within television. The compilation boxed set ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ released on Factory Benelux gathered many of these works.

Photo by Donald Christie

But there are still a significant number of tracks which featured the artistic input and involvement of a NEW ORDER member that are worthy of discovery and recognition.

So here are 20 tracks which encapsulate the spirit of NEW ORDER through the medium of collaboration and joint working, restricted to one track per project and presented in chronological order.


MARTHA Light Years From Love (1983)

Martha Ladly was already part of the NEW ORDER family having produced the paintings for the Peter Saville Associates artwork of ‘Temptation’ and the ‘1981-1982’ EP. Formally of MARTHA & THE MUFFINS, she teamed up with fellow Canadian Brett Wickens on this charming pop tune that echoed THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Open Your Heart’. Peter Hook provided his distinctive melodic six-string bass and dynamic production came from Steve Nye. The promo video was directed by Midge Ure and Chris Cross of ULTRAVOX.

Originally released as a single on Island Records, currently unavailable

http://samemistakesmusic.blogspot.com/2009/01/charmed-life-of-martha-ladly_22.html


52ND STREET Cool As Ice (1983)

While the trailblazing electro of ‘Cool As Ice’ was solely produced by Donald Johnson, Bernard Sumner contributed the synth basslines which were from a Moog Source run from a Powertran 1024 sequencer; it was to become the trademark feature on many of the NEW ORDER front man’s productions. The hybrid of authentic Manchester soul courtesy of Beverley McDonald’s vocals and New York urban influences was unsurprisingly a cult success across the Atlantic.

Available on the compilation boxed set ‘‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

https://www.discogs.com/artist/11896-52nd-Street


MARCEL KING Reach For Love (1984)

One of Bernard Sumner’s productions for Factory with Donald Johnson, ‘Reach For Love’ featured the late Marcel King who was a member of SWEET SENSATION, a vocal group who won ‘New Faces’ and had a No1 with ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’. With its distinctive Moog bassline programming, this was a vibrant electro disco tune that couldn’t have been more different. Shaun Ryder of HAPPY MONDAYS remarked that if this had been released on a label other than Factory Records, it would have been a hit!

Available on the compilation boxed set ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

https://www.discogs.com/artist/36617-Marcel-King


NYAM NYAM Fate/Hate (1984)

Despite Peter Hook’s more rock inclined sympathies and productions for acts like STOCKHOLM MONSTERS and THE STONE ROSES, he showed that he knew his way around the dancefloor as well with this Moroder-esque offering by Hull combo NYAM NYAM which he produced. Featuring a Roland TR808 plus NEW ORDER’s Emulator and Prophet 5 amongst its instrumentation, ‘Fate/Hate’ certainly today deserves to be as lauded as SECTION 25’s ‘Looking From A Hilltop’.

Available on the compilation album ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/nyam_nyam.html


SECTION 25 Looking From A Hilltop – Restructure (1984)

In a change of direction where founder member Larry Cassidy stated “you can’t be a punk all your life”, Factory Records stalwarts SECTION 25 recruited vocalist Jenny Ross and keyboardist Angela Cassidy to go electro. Produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson, the clattering drum machine accompanied by ominous synth lines and hypnotic sequenced modulations dominated what was to become a much revered cult club classic.

Available on the SECTION 25 album ‘From The Hip’ via Factory Benelux

http://www.section25.com


PAUL HAIG The Only Truth (1984)

Possibly the best NEW ORDER song that NEW ORDER never recorded, although ex-JOSEF K front man Paul Haig demoed the song to an almost complete standard, when as Haig told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson started adding more to it like extra guitar, bass and percussion. We spent a long time on the sound of the percussion”. ‘The Only Truth’ was like a brilliant cross between ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Temptation’, and the 12 inch version was almost as long!

Available on the PAUL HAIG album ‘At Twilight’ via Les Disques Du Crepuscule

http://www.rolinc.co.uk


SHARK VEGAS You Hurt Me (1986)

Mark Reeder moved from Manchester to Berlin in 1978 having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city and was for a time Factory Records’ representative in Germany. Reeder often sent records to Bernard Sumner from the emerging electronic club scenes around the world. His own Deutsche musical journey started with DIE UNBEKANNTEN, who mutated into SHARK VEGAS; the sequencer heavy ‘You Hurt Me’ was produced by Sumner at Conny Plank’s studios near Cologne.

Available on the MARK REEDER album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux

https://www.facebook.com/markreedermusic/


REVENGE Jesus I Love You (1989)

The aptly named REVENGE was Peter Hook’s response to Bernard Sumner’s ELECTRONIC. Comprising of Hook, Dave Hicks and Chris Jones, the  single ‘Seven Reasons’ backed with the edgy gothique of ‘Jesus I Love You’ got in the shops a few weeks before ‘Getting Away With It’. Coming over like early SISTERS OF MERCY with some extra raw power, it was a promising calling card. However, as things progressed, the output of REVENGE was not particularly well-received by the music press.

Available on REVENGE album ‘One True Passion V2.0’ via LTM Recordings

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/revenge.html


THE BEAT CLUB Security – Remix (1990)

Miami duo THE BEAT CLUB were the husband and wife team of producer Ony Rodriguez and singer Mireya Valls. The Bernard Sumner remix of ‘Security’ was the first ever release on Rob’s Records, the imprint of Rob Gretton. Sumner’s creative additions saw an overhaul of the original version with the crucial addition of his own vocal contribution, giving it an unsurprisingly NEW ORDER-like feel along the lines of a more fully realised ‘State Of The Nation’.

Available on the compilation boxed set ‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/the_beat_club.html


808 STATE Spanish Heart featuring BERNARD SUMNER (1991)

Having been largely instrumental and sample based on their debut ‘90’, the Manchester dance collective used guest vocalists on their more melodic second long player ‘Ex:El’; while Björk contributed to ‘Ooops’, Bernard Sumner added his voice to the dreamy Balearic of ‘Spanish Heart. A less frantic cousin of ‘Mr Disco’ from ‘Technique’ with its holiday romance subject matter, ‘Spanish Heart’ had a blissful feel not too distantly related to ELECTRONIC’s ‘Some Distant Memory’.

Available on the 808 STATE album ‘Ex:El’ via ZTT Records

https://www.808state.com


ELECTRONIC Some Distant Memory (1991)

Frustrated with the conflicts and confines within NEW ORDER, Bernard Sumner had planned a solo album. But on bumping into Johnny Marr who had just departed THE SMITHS, it was turned into a collaborative project with the occasional guests including Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe and later Karl Bartos. It was ELECTRONIC not just in name but also in nature. The beautiful closing section of ‘Some Distant Memory’ featuring the oboe of Helen Powell enhanced the string synth melancholy.

Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Electronic’ via EMI Records

http://www.electronicband.com/


THE OTHER TWO Tasty Fish (1991)

Having done the music for the BBC shows including ‘Making Out’ and ‘Reportage’, Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris began turning their stockpile of unused material into songs when NEW ORDER went into hiatus. The original singer slated as the vehicle for these tunes was Kim Wilde, but when this fell through, Gilbert took over on lead vocals. Amusingly titled after a fish and chip shop near Stockport, ‘Tasty Fish’ was a catchy electropop single that should have been a big hit.

Available on THE OTHER TWO album ‘And You’ via LTM Recordings

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/the_other_two.html


A CERTAIN RATIO Shack Up – Radio Edit (1994)

Smoother, tighter, speedier and dancier plus more ELECTRONIC in both name and nature, A CERTAIN RATIO reconfigured and re-recorded their 1980 signature cover with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr at the production controls, all as part of a 1994 updates retrospective for Creation Records. Originally a rare groove track by BANBARRA from 1975, this new version was popular with those who had not previously enjoyed the Mancunian band’s earlier industrial funk exploits.

Available on the A CERTAIN RATIO album ‘Looking For…’ via Creation Records

https://acrmcr.com


MONACO What Do You Want From Me? (1996)

With the demise of REVENGE and seemingly NEW ORDER, Peter Hook regrouped with guitarist David Potts to form MONACO, a combo very much in the mould of the latter. Proudly embracing his signature melodic bass sound, the first single ‘What Do You Want From Me?’ sounded like it could have come off ‘Technique’, with Hook’s Curtis-like baritone and Potts’ Sumner-esque refrain enabling a prompt audience acceptance for the duo.

Available on the MONACO album ‘Music For Pleasure’ via Polydor Records

http://peterhook.get-ctrl.com/#/


THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS featuring BERNARD SUMNER Out Of Control (1999)

‘Out Of Control’ was THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ sonic template actually fulfilling its potential within a song based format with Bernard Sumner as the willing conspirator. With echoes of NEW ORDER’s 12 inch only excursions like ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Confusion’ and ‘Thieves like Us’, ‘Out Of Control’ had everything from a bombastic backbeat, cerebral sequences and bizarre lyrics, especially when Sumner resigned to the fact that “Maybe my moustache is too much…”

Available on THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS album ‘Singles 93-03’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thechemicalbrothers.com/


BLANK & JONES featuring BERNARD SUMNER Miracle Cure (2008)

Having worked with Robert Smith of THE CURE, German trance duo Piet Blank and Jaspa Jones had Bernard Sumner high on their list of singers for their album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’, which also featured Claudia Brücken. The track managed to fill the electronic dance gap that had opened up with NEW ORDER’s more rock focused albums ‘Get Ready’ and ‘Waiting For The Siren’s Call’, while the single release came with excellent remixes  from Mark Reeder and Paul Humphreys from OMD.

Available on the BLANK & JONES album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’ via Soundcolours

http://www.blankandjones.com/


FACTORY FLOOR A Wooden Box – STEPHEN MORRIS remix (2010)

Some say the music of FACTORY FLOOR is genius, others a load of repetitive bleeping to an incessant four-to-the-floor beat. Stephen Morris was a fan, hearing kindred spirits in their use of sequencers next to live drums and guitars, sometimes on the brink of post-industrial noise chaos. With his remix of ‘Wooden Box’, Morris brought out its more tuneful elements and added some vocoder processing. He continued to work with the band as the producer of 2011’s ‘(Real Love)’.

Available on the FACTORY FLOOR single ‘A Wooden Box’ via Blast First Petite ‎

https://www.facebook.com/factoryfloor/


WESTBAM featuring BERNARD SUMNER She Wants (2013)

Techno DJ WESTBAM celebrated 30 years in the music business with an intriguing mature collection of songs under the title of ‘Götterstrasse’ which featured Iggy Pop, Brian Molko and Hugh Cornwall as guest vocalists. ‘She Wants’ saw the return of Bernard Sumner on a new electronic recording. With the guitar driven BAD LIEUTENANT having been his main vehicle over the intervening years, it was great to hear him on something approaching the classic sound of synth-centred NEW ORDER again.

Available on the WESTBAM album ‘Götterstrasse’ via Vertigo Germany

http://www.westbam.de/dt/en/


NEW ORDER featuring BRANDON FLOWERS Superheated (2015)

Brandon Flowers named THE KILLERS after a fictional band in the ‘Crystal’ video while his own combo covered the JOY DIVISION standard ‘Shadowplay’ for the ‘Control’ film. So a collaboration was not totally unexpected in this union of the sorcerer and the apprentice. A Stuart Price production featuring Flowers on the chorus, ‘Superheated’ was a slice of supreme pop which despite the frantic drum ‘n’ bass elements, sounded more like THE KILLERS than it did NEW ORDER.

Available on the NEW ORDER album ‘Music Complete’ via Mute Artists

http://www.neworder.com


KOISHII & HUSH featuring GILLIAN GILBERT Lifetime – FM ATTACK Remix (2016)

Simon Langford and Alex Sowyrda are the British-Canadian duo KOISHII & HUSH whose tracks have featured unusual vocalists ranging from DURAN DURAN’s John Taylor to actress Joanne Whalley. Gillian Gilbert lent her voice to ‘Lifetime’, sounding not unlike Sarah Blackwood who incidentally sang on their 2015 offering ‘Rules & Lies’. The remix from FM ATTACK aka Canadian synthwave exponent Shawn Ward added a serene crystalline quality to proceedings.

Available on the KOISHII & HUSH single ‘Lifetime’ via Grammaton Recordings

http://www.koishiiandhush.com


RUSTY EGAN featuring PETER HOOK The Other Side (2017)

With the opening salvo ‘The Otherside’ featuring Peter Hook on Rusty Egan’s debut solo album, sonic comparisons with NEW ORDER were inevitable and the song’s melodic basslines showed how much his sound was a vital part of the band. The Bass Viking’s vocals also exuded a vulnerability that listeners could empathise with. But with Hooky touring the JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER back catalogue, new material from him has been rare.

Available on the RUSTY EGAN album ‘Welcome To The Dance Floor’ via Black Mosaic

http://rustyegan.net


FREEBASS You Don’t Know This About Me – Remix Instrumental (2017)

A Mancunian supergroup of three bassists Hooky, Mani and Andy Rourke that spent five years in gestation before imploding. Producer Derek Miller aka OUTERNATIONALE was a fan and told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “Really liked this song despite Hooky’s project falling apart on him! As you know, I’ve started and thought it deserved a proper release, albeit belatedly! So, I’ve been back in the studio with it and totally overhauled it sonically. There’s also a surprisingly punchy instrumental mix now”

Available on the FREEBASS single ‘You Don’t Know This About Me’ via 5 Pin Din Recordings

http://www.5pindinrecordings.co.uk


Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th March 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to PET SHOP BOYS Collaborations + Remixes

Photo by Cindy Palmano

Bridging the gap between Synth Britannia and Acid House, PET SHOP BOYS first found international success with ‘West End Girls’ in 1986.

With their Gilbert & George inspired persona, they cleverly satirised Thatcherism on ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)’ and used board game symbolism in their observation of the AIDS crisis on ‘Domino Dancing’. They also combined cool aloofness with pop stardom and achieved 4 UK No1 singles; they were only denied a fifth with their 1993 cover of Village People’s ‘Go West’ by Will Smith as ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’!

Preferring to “dance to disco” because they “don’t like rock”, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe managed to change the whole concept of concert presentation in 1991 by removing from the stage, that one consistent element in the history of rock ‘n’ roll… the live musician!

The success in 1987 of ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’, a duet with iconic starlet Dusty Springfield showed PET SHOP BOYS’ willingness to collaborate, while Tennant’s involvement in ELECTRONIC with Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr illustrated that work away from the nest was not out of bounds either.

Since their imperial phase, they have shown their versatility in projects ranging from producing or remixing other artists and running their own Spaghetti Records label to assorted theatre, film and ballet commissions. As well as Dusty Springfield, Liza Minnelli and DAVID BOWIE, the PET SHOP BOYS portfolio has also included Tina Turner, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue.

Becoming the esteemed funny uncles of the British music scene, they have managed to acquire the sort of public recognition that has been denied to DEPECHE MODE. Although both can count a Brit Award for Best Single on their mantelpieces, it would appear publicly in the UK at least that PET SHOP BOYS are held in greater affection.

With an Outstanding Contribution to Music BRIT Award in 2009 and an appearance in the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony alongside Ray Davies, PET SHOP BOYS can now be regarded as quintessentially English as much as THE KINKS.

So presented in chronological order with a limit of one track per artist project, here are 20 tracks by PET SHOP BOYS… collaboratively!


EIGHTH WONDER I’m Not Scared (1988)

‘I’m Not Scared’ for Patsy Kensit’s EIGHTH WONDER was the duo’s first production outside of their own work; dubbed a “Princess Stephanie record” by Tennant, influenced by the likes of moody Gallic disco tunes like ‘Voyage Voyage’, Kensit’s gorgeous purr en Français of “Débarrasse-moi de ces chiens – Avant qu’ils mordent…” was the icing on the cake. PET SHOP BOYS released their own recording of the song for ‘Introspective’, but it lacked the panache of Kensit’s version.

Available on the album ‘Fearless’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.facebook.com/PatsyKensitOfficial/


LIZA MINNELLI Twist In My Sobriety (1989)

The combination of “Liza with a Z” and her strident theatrics with PET SHOP BOYS’ orchestrated electronic pop was somewhere over the rainbow and the ‘Results’ project was a combination of Tennant / Lowe originals and cover versions; one of those covers was an outlandish hip-hop inspired take on Tanita Tikaram’s ‘Twist in My Sobriety’, featuring a rap by A CERTAIN RATIO’s Donald Johnson. Whereas the original was organic and droll, this was a welcome stab in the face!

Available on the LIZA MINNELLI album ‘Results’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.instagram.com/officiallizaminnelli/


DUSTY SPRINGFIELD In Private (1990)

The snappy electropop of ‘In Private’ was Springfield’s third hit single in a row helmed by PET SHOP BOYS and had originally been written for the film ‘Scandal’; considered too contemporary by the film’s producers, the song was temporarily shelved and the moodier ‘Nothing Has Been Proved’ was used instead. As with ‘I’m Not Scared’, when PET SHOP BOYS recorded their own version as a duet with Elton John for the B-side to ‘Minimal’ in 2006, it was less accomplished.

Available on the DUSTY SPRINGFIELD album ‘Reputation’ via Cherry Red Records

http://www.dustyspringfieldofficial.com


CICERO Love Is Everywhere (1992)

David Cicero was a Scottish musician who after attending a PET SHOP BOYS concert in Glasgow, passed a demo tape to the duo’s personal assistant Peter Andreas. Impressed, they signed him to Spaghetti Records and co-produced his second single ‘Love is Everywhere’. Like NEW ORDER crossed with OMD and RUNRIG, complete with bagpipes, it actually reached No19 in the UK singles chart. Despite a tour supporting TAKE THAT, Cicero’s career was unable to gain further mainstream momentum.

Available on the CICERO album ‘Future Boy’ via Cherry Red Records

http://www.davecicero.com


ELECTRONIC Disappointed (1992)

Having appeared on ‘Gettting Away With It’ and ‘The Patience Of A Saint’, Tennant sang lead vocals on his third and final contribution to Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr’s ELECTRONIC. A Europop number inspired by the French dance hit ‘Désenchantée’ by Mylène Farmer, producer Stephen Hague’s pop sensibilities came to the fore on the lush single mix; ‘Disappointed’ became a fully functioning hit that many understandably mistook for being PET SHOP BOYS.

Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Get The Message: The Best Of’ via EMI Records

http://www.electronicband.com


BOY GEORGE The Crying Game (1992)

Commissioned to produce the soundtrack of the Neil Jordan film ‘The Crying Game’, Tennant and Lowe covered the 1964 hit for Dave Berry with Boy George as the song for the closing credits; he laid down what the duo thought was a guide vocal, expecting him to return to the studio the next day to finish it. But he didn’t and they were left to salvage the track using the CULTURE CLUB singer’s slightly wayward performance. Not that it mattered, as it gave the finished recording a marvellously vulnerable quality.

Available on the CULTURE CLUB album ‘Greatest Moments’ via EMI Records

https://twitter.com/BoyGeorge


BLUR Girls & Boys – PSB Radio Edit (1994)

Already aping BLONDIE’s ‘Atomic’ and DURAN DURAN with its discofied template, ‘Girls & Boys’ was BLUR’s breakthrough hit. Beginning a spate of remix commissions, bassist Alex James remarked that having a PET SHOP BOYS remix was like having your dog being taken for a walk, but when it came back, it was a different dog! That different dog was performed live by Tennant and Lowe themselves on their ‘Discovery’ tour later in the year.

Available on the single ‘Girls & Boys’ via EMI Records

http://www.blur.co.uk


DAVID BOWIE Hallo Spaceboy – PSB Remix (1996)

If ‘Girls & Boys’ came back as a different dog, then ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ was virtually hijacked, with PET SHOP BOYS certainly re-producing this Bowie / Eno composition from ‘1.Outside’ into a much more commercial proposition. But in the true artful spirit of Bowie, Tennant even utilised the cut-up technique made famous by William S Burroughs to decide which words from the song he would duet with. It became Bowie’s biggest UK hit single since ‘Jump They Say’ in 1990.

Available on the DAVID BOWIE album ‘Nothing Has Changed’ via EMI Music

http://www.davidbowie.com/


PETER RAUHOFER + PET SHOP BOYS = THE COLLABORATION Break 4 Love – UK Radio Mix (2002)

A renowned remixer with DEPECHE MODE and Madonna among his credits, the late Peter Rauhofer’s project THE COLLABORATION united him with Tennant and Lowe to produce a cover of RAZE’s cult house classic ‘Break 4 Love’. While the ‘Classic Radio Mix’ straightforwardly borrowed the arrangement of the sparse original, the ‘UK Radio Mix’ was more frantic and busy, the energetic antithesis of the more understated ‘Release’ album that was out at the time.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS single ‘Home & Dry’ via EMI Records

https://www.facebook.com/djpeterrauhofer


YOKO ONO Walking On Thin Ice – PSB Electro Mix (2003)

The original recording of ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ was notable for being the very last song that John Lennon ever worked on. Yoko Ono’s haunting lyrics for the disco inflected tune reflected on the unpredictability of life, death and of “throwing the dice in the air” before poignantly adding that “when our hearts return to ashes, it will be just a story….”. The PET SHOP BOYS remix, with its hypnotic octave shift mantra and metronomic backbone, gave it a respectful futuristic sheen.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Disco 4’ via EMI Records

https://twitter.com/yokoono


PETE BURNS Jack & Jill Party (2004)

Sounding not unlike the backing track to PET SHOP BOYS’ remix of ‘Walking On Thin Ice’, ‘Jack & Jill Party’ was a long awaited recording with the late Pete Burns that exuded a wonderful Electroclash tension that suited the snarly DEAD OR ALIVE singer down to the ground. Mixed by Bob Kraushaar and released on Tennant and Lowe’s Olde English imprint, it actually reached No75 in the UK singles chart but this was to be a collaborative one-off.

Available on the PETE BURNS single ‘Jack & Jill Party’ via Olde English

https://www.discogs.com/artist/46720-Dead-Or-Alive


RAMMSTEIN Mein Teil – PSB You Are What You Eat Remix (2004)

When German industrial metallers RAMMSTEIN released ‘Mein Teil’, it attracted controversy as its lyrics were inspired by the disturbing Armin Meiwes cannibalism case. Vocalist Till Lindemann said “It is so sick that it becomes fascinating and there just has to be a song about it”. Appropriately, PET SHOP BOYS offered up the ‘You Are What You Eat Remix’ which retained the guitars and the aggression, thus maintaining some gothic fervour for the dancefloor.

Available on the RAMMSTEIN single ‘Mein Teil’ via Universal Music

https://www.rammstein.de/en/


THE KILLERS Read My Mind – PSB Stars Are Blazing Mix (2005)

Singer Brandon Flowers referred to the underwhelming ‘Sam’s Town’ as “the album that keeps rock & roll afloat”, but Neil Tennant had joked that he knew THE KILLERS’ second long player would not be as good as the debut ‘Hot Fuss’ because Flowers had grown a beard! After the synth indie hybrid of ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Mr Brightside’, it was extremely disappointing but Tennant and Lowe put some pulsing electronics into ‘Read My Mind’ to alert audiences as to what could have been.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Disco 4’ via EMI Records

http://www.thekillersmusic.com


TENNANT, LOWE & DRESDENER SINFONIKER Nyet (2005)

‘Battleship Potemkin’ was a 1925 Soviet silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein about a 1905 naval mutiny. Using their surnames like classical composers on this updated soundtrack commission, the pair were accompanied by Dresdener Sinfoniker, conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer. Arranger Torsten Rasch had released ‘Mein Herz Brennt’, a song-cycle based on the music of RAMMSTEIN. Despite being uptempo, the mix of strings and electronics on ‘Nyet’ reflected the grim tension of the story.

Available on the TENNANT, LOWE album ‘Battleship Potemkin’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


ROBBIE WILLIAMS She’s Madonna (2006)

The former TAKE THAT star had covered ‘I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing’ so was a proven fan. With PET SHOP BOYS in charge of production, ‘She’s Madonna’ was inspired by a conversation Williams had with his ex Tania Strecker on the excuse her former boyfriend Guy Ritchie gave for leaving her for Madonna. It was an interesting artistic twist, as Tennant and Lowe had remixed ‘Sorry’ for Madge in 2005.

Available on the ROBBIE WILLIAMS album ‘Rudebox’ via EMI Records

https://www.robbiewilliams.com


SAM TAYLOR-WOOD I’m In Love With German Film Star (2008)

Visual artist and director Sam Taylor-Wood became friends with PET SHOP BOYS when she provided film projections for their shows at London’s Savoy Theatre in 1997. She later recorded covers of ‘Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus’ and ‘Love To Love You Baby’ both produced by Tennant and Lowe, but it was her moody electro version of ‘I’m In Love With A German Film Star’, originally recorded by THE PASSIONS, that was the first to actually be released under her own name.

Available on the SAM TAYLOR-WOOD single ‘I’m in Love With A German Film Star’ via Kompakt Pop

http://samtaylorjohnson.com


LADY GAGA Eh Eh – PSB Radio Remix (2009)

When Tennant and Lowe received their Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at the BRITs, they were joined on a ‘Hits Medley’ by THE KILLERS’ Brandon Flowers and Lady Gaga who did her turn on ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’. Originally a lame cod calypso excursion from the latter’s debut album ’The Fame’, PET SHOP BOYS managed to rework ‘Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)’ into an electro-disco stomper despite its break-up subject matter.

Available on the LADY GAGA album ‘The Remix’ via Interscope Records

https://www.ladygaga.com


PET SHOP BOYS featuring PHILIP OAKEY This Used To Be The Future (2009)

‘This Used To Be The Future’ was a dream trioet that featured both PET SHOP BOYS and Philip Oakey of THE HUMAN LEAGUE, recorded as a bonus song for ‘Yes etc’. With Lowe actually singing albeit autotuned, as opposed to just speaking, this celebration of yesterday’s tomorrow saw Oakey deadpan that his utopian dream didn’t quite turn out how Raymond Baxter predicted on ‘Tomorrow’s World’! Disappointed, he conclusively grunts “AMEN!”

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Yes: Further Listening 2008-2010’ via EMI Records

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


STOP MODERNISTS feat CHRIS LOWE Subculture (2011)

A cover of the lost NEW ORDER single from 1985, Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen remembered: “The idea was to take what me and STOP MODERNISTS partner Alex Nieminen felt was an underrated song, make a late 80s deep house interpretation and bring some extra twist with having Chris on the vocals. It’s very hard – impossible, actually – to explain how important this record is to me. PET SHOP BOYS have been the most important musical influence for me”.

Available on the STOP MODERNISTS single ‘Subculture’ via Keys Of Life

https://www.facebook.com/JoriHulkkonen/


JEAN MICHEL JARRE & PET SHOP BOYS Brick England (2016)

Jean-Michel Jarre’s ambitious ‘Electronica’ project was a worldwide collaborative adventure where the handsome French Maestro “had this idea of merging DNA with musicians and artists of different generations”; ‘Brick England’ with PET SHOP BOYS was a slice of classic mid-tempo Euro disco, with Tennant and Lowe not breaking with tradition, although Jarre’s ribbon controlled lead synth sounded like it was going to break into EUROPE’s ‘The Final Countdown’!

Available on the JEAN MICHEL JARRE album ‘Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise’ via Sony Music

https://jeanmicheljarre.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th December 2017

A Beginner’s Guide To FACTORY RECORDS

With an identifiable post-modern aesthetic and idealistic ethos, Factory Records was one of the most iconic record labels that emerged post-punk.

Founded in 1978 by Granada TV presenter Tony Wilson and actor Alan Erasmus, noted record producer Martin Hannett and graphic designer Peter Saville were also part of the original directorship, along with JOY DIVISION manager Rob Gretton.

A respected television journalist, Wilson became more widely known for his TV series ‘So It Goes’ which featured acts such as IGGY POP, THE SEX PISTOLS and BUZZCOCKS, so was seen as a champion of new music.

The Factory name was first used for a club venture which showcased bands like THE DURUTTI COLUMN, CABARET VOLTAIRE and JOY DIVISION. All three featured on the label’s debut double EP release ‘A Factory Sample’. The combined run-out groove messages read: “EVERYTHING – IS REPAIRABLE – EVERYTHING – IS BROKEN”. The release was given the catalogue number FAC2, as FAC1 had been allocated to a poster designed by Peter Saville for the club.

FAC1 was famously not printed in time for the opening event but despite his reputation for not meeting deadlines, Saville’s style was to become a highly coveted and he was head-hunted in early 1980 to work for boutique Virgin subsidiary Dindisc Records who had signed OMD following their debut on Factory.

Factory Records was initially based in Alan Erasmus’ flat at 86 Palatine Road in Didsbury, Manchester. It was very much a home-based operation, with members of JOY DIVISION once being roped in to glue together the striking sandpaper sleeves for ‘The Return of the Durutti Column’… inspired by Situationist Guy Debord’s book ‘Mémoires’, the album was intended to destroy the records next to it but as Factory used wallpaper paste rather than glue, the sleeves later themselves fell apart!

Factory were known for their extravagant packaging, off-the-wall promotional gimmicks and in-jokes like the Menstrual Abacus (FAC8), Martin Hannett’s legal settlement (FAC61) and Rob Gretton’s dental work (FAC99). Pop magazine Smash Hits even joked that they would be doing a NEW ORDER poster magazine, but it would be baked inside a cake and made available only in the Channel Islands.

Factory’s first LP ‘Unknown Pleasures’ by JOY DIVISION was released in June 1979 to wide acclaim. But the success was later clouded by tragedy when their charismatic singer Ian Curtis took his own life in May 1980 prior to the release of the single ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and second album ‘Closer’. With the future uncertain for Factory, hopes rested on A CERTAIN RATIO. Together with Alan Erasmus, Tony Wilson managed the doomy post-punk funk merchants, but the band polarised audiences.

JOY DIVISION’s remaining members Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris recruited Gillian Gilbert to become NEW ORDER. Although their sombre 1981 debut album ‘Movement’ was generally panned, the quartet reinvigorated themselves by taking an interest in the New York club scene. This led to Factory and NEW ORDER’s decision to open a nightclub in Manchester. Legend has it that Rob Gretton (himself a former DJ) wanted to have a place where he could “ogle women”.

The move infuriated Martin Hannett, who had wanted to purchase a recording studio with a Fairlight CMI, and threatened to wind-up the company. With the Factory catalogue number of FAC51, The Haçienda opened in May 1982 and was a loss making enterprise for the next five years.

Even when the advent of acid house in 1987 filled the club every weekend thereafter, the crowds’ preference for illegal Ecstasy and therefore water, rather than the licensed and more profitable alcohol meant that Factory’s cashflow was tenuous to say the least. Problems with the Inland Revenue, Police and local gangsters meant the writing was on the wall. However, Factory still went ahead with a move out of Palatine Road into the rather expensive FAC251 building on Charles Street in September 1990.

But a major UK property slump occurred soon after and was set to cripple the label even further. By the beginning of 1992, both HAPPY MONDAYS and NEW ORDER were over budget and late in delivering their respective new albums ‘Yes Please’ and ‘Republic’.

London Records entered negotiations to take over Factory, but the deal fell through when it was discovered the label did not actually own many of its master recordings. So Factory was left to collapse in November 1992, while NEW ORDER signed a separate deal with London. When asked by Q Magazine what he was getting with London that was different from Factory, Sumner sheepishly replied “PAID!” But Factory had never been a conventional A&R led company.

It had let OMD and JAMES leave for major deals, and passed on THE SMITHS, THE STONE ROSES and BLACK BOX. It was not very business minded either, with the elaborate die-cut packaging for NEW ORDER’s ‘Blue Monday’ initially costing more than the per unit net profit.

The label’s idealistic ethos meant commercially unviable acts like MINNY POPS and STOCKHOLM MONSTERS had a platform to release records, but it also meant there was seldom enough capital coming in, other than monies from sales of JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER. However, much of that was being syphoned off to keep The Haçienda afloat which had its own troubles relating to drug dealing, police clampdowns and rival factions of gun-toting gangsters.

In ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s view, while JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER undoubtedly had a huge influence on music, Factory perhaps did not have a wider back catalogue that was as strong as Virgin or Mute.

Smash Hits’ independent scene columnist Red Starr once said Factory’s artwork was often better than the records they contained. But Factory’s visual presentation has made its presence felt in popular culture from Next to Givenchy, while other observers relished Tony Wilson’s cool credentials (to quote HAPPY MONDAYS’ Bez) as “a Red on the quiet” and his undoubted ability to give a good quote. Sadly today, many of Factory’s major players like Wilson, Rob Gretton and Martin Hannett are no longer with us.

So via its great and not so good, using a restriction of one song per artist moniker, presented here is ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s take on Factory Records’ arty, but chaotic adventure…


OMD Electricity (1979)

FAC6 was the first single to be released on Factory. Tony Wilson has often been credited with discovering OMD, but it has also been said that he was largely oblivious to their charms. The instigation to release ‘Electricity’ on Factory came from his then-wife Lindsay. According to her memoir ‘Mr Manchester and the Factory Girl’, the former Mrs Wilson reckoned that the decision to allow OMD to sign to Dindisc was a tit-for-tat response by her husband, to spite her in their fractious marriage.

Available on the OMD album ‘Peel Sessions 1979-1983’ via Virgin Records

http://www.omd.uk.com


JOY DIVISION Decades (1980)

‘Atmosphere’ was possibly JOY DIVISION’s greatest song, but was originally released on Sordide Sentimental rather than Factory as part of the ‘Licht Und Blindheit’ package. Next in line though, ‘Decades’ was the sonic cathedral that Martin Hannett had been striving for in the studio. With layers of ARP Omni processed through a Marshall Time Modulator and percussion enhanced through an AMS Digital Delay, it provided a solemn but beautiful Gothic backdrop for Ian Curtis’ elaborate musical suicide note.

Available on the JOY DIVISION album ‘Closer’ via London Records

http://joydivisionofficial.com/


A CERTAIN RATIO Shack Up (1980)

Originally issued in July 1980 on Factory’s Benelux arm which acted as an outlet for spare recordings by Factory bands, ‘Shack Up’ was a cover of a cult club favourite originally recorded by BANBARRA and showcased A CERTAIN RATIO’s new funkier direction. Other subsequent exclusive releases via Factory Benelux included NEW ORDER’s superior 12 inch remix of ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ and the instrumental ‘Murder’. ‘Shack Up’ was given a more accessible ELECTRONIC makeover in 1994.

Available on the A CERTAIN RATIO album ‘Early: A Definitive Anthology Of ACR Recordings From 1978-85’ via Soul Jazz Records

https://www.acrmcr.com/


THE NAMES Night Shift (1981)

Led by Michel Sordinia, Belgian band THE NAMES were archetypical of the post-punk miserablism that Factory was signing in the wake of JOY DIVISION. Better than most of their contemporaries with the icy synth embellishing the cacophonic Martin Hannett produced soundtrack, ‘Nightshift’ was a promising release, although unlikely to crossover beyond alternative circles. Their debut album ‘Swimming’ came out on Les Disques du Crepuscule in 1982.

Available on THE NAMES album ‘Swimming’ via Factory Benelux

http://www.thenames.be/


NEW ORDER Your Silent Face (1983)

‘Your Silent Face’ was dubbed the “KRAFTWERK one”, the ultimate homage to the romantic ‘Trans-Europe Express’ era of the Düsseldorf quartett. With the replication of the pulsating Synthanorma sequence and Vako Orchestron strings from ‘Franz Schubert’ using a SCI Polysequencer and Emulator, this was the stand-out song from NEW ORDER’s second album. Incidentally, the original artwork package featuring a cryptic colour alphabet code saw Peter Saville spell the title incorrectly as ‘Power, Corrruption & Lies’!

Available on the NEW ORDER album ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ via London Records

http://www.neworder.com


CABARET VOLTAIRE Yashar (1983)

Returning to the Factory fold for a one-off interim release before moving on to their much lauded Some Bizzare / Virgin phase, ‘Yashar’ launched the more club friendly direction of CABARET VOLTAIRE. The single went down particularly well on the New York club scene. A track originally from their 1982 album ‘2X45’, it was extended and remixed to nearly eight minutes by John Robie who had worked with Arthur Baker on AFRIKA BAMBAATAA’s ‘Planet Rock’.

Available on the compilation album ‘Of Factory New York’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

https://www.facebook.com/CabaretVoltaireOfficial


SECTION 25 Looking From A Hilltop (1984)

In a change of direction where founder member Larry Cassidy stated “you can’t be a punk all your life”, Factory Records stalwarts SECTION 25 recruited vocalist Jenny Ross and keyboardist Angela Cassidy to go electro. Produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson, the clattering drum machine, accompanied by ominous synth lines and hypnotic sequenced modulations, dominated the mix of FAC108 to provide what was to become a much revered cult club classic.

Available on the album ‘From The Hip’ via Factory Benelux

http://www.section25.com


AD INFINITUM Telstar (1984)

This cover of Joe Meek’s ‘Telstar’ for FAC93 was rumoured to be NEW ORDER in disguise. This curio certainly had a number of distinct elements like the Hooky bass and the drum programming style which recalled ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’. Peter Hook was indeed involved, as was Andy Connell who went on to form SWING OUT SISTER. Fronted by Lindsay Reade, her intended new original lyrics for ‘Telstar’ were vetoed by The Joe Meek Estate, so a version with more abstract vocals was released instead.

Available on the compilation album ‘Fac Dance 02’ (V/A) via Strut Records

http://www.strut-records.com/Fac-Dance-2/


THE WAKE Talk About The Past (1984)

THE WAKE were probably what NEW ORDER would have continued to sound like had they not discovered the joys of the dancefloor. A dour Scottish four-piece who also had a female keyboard player Carolyn Allen in their ranks, their music could be claustrophobic. ‘Talk About the Past’ however showed a brighter side with scratchy rhythm guitar, shiny synths, melodica flourishes and barely audible vocals. Featuring Vini Reilly of THE DURUTTI COLUMN on piano, FAC88 was probably their career highlight.

Available on THE WAKE album ‘Here Comes Everybody’ via Factory Benelux

http://factorybenelux.com/the_wake.html


MARCEL KING Reach For Love – New York Remix (1985)

Another Bernard Sumner’s production with Donald Johnson, ‘Reach For Love’ featured the late MARCEL KING who was a member of SWEET SENSATION, a vocal group who won ‘New Faces’ and had a No1 with ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’. A vibrant electro disco tune, HAPPY MONDAYS’ Shaun Ryder remarked that if this had been released on a label other than Factory, it would have been a hit! The beefier New York Remix was issued on a second version of the 12 inch.

Available on the compilation album ‘Of Factory New York’ (V/A) via Factory Benelux

http://factorybenelux.com/of_factory_new_york_fbn55.html


SHARK VEGAS You Hurt Me (1986)

Mark Reeder was Factory Records representative in Germany between 1978 to 1982. Reeder often sent records to Bernard Sumner from the emerging electronic club scenes around the world. His own Deutsche musical journey started with DIE UNBEKANNTEN, who mutated into SHARK VEGAS and delivered this 1986 Factory release. ‘You Hurt Me’ was produced by Sumner and characterised by the New York disco sequence programming that made NEW ORDER famous.

Available on the MARK REEDER album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux

http://www.5point1.org/


THE RAILWAY CHILDREN Brighter (1987)

Led by Gary Newby, THE RAILWAY CHILDREN showed promise by taking the more guitar driven aspects of NEW ORDER to the next level. Produced by ’Low-life’ engineer Michael Johnson, their second single ‘Brighter’ took a marimba sample and sequenced it as the backbone to a marvellous melodic number that could compete with THE SMITHS and LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS. However, despite releasing a full-length album on Factory, THE RAILWAY CHILDREN departed to Virgin Records.

Available on THE RAILWAY CHILDREN album ‘Reunion Wilderness’ via Ether

http://www.railwaychildren.co.uk/


THE DURUTTI COLUMN Otis (1988)

Having shown his atmospheric and melodic credentials with the beautiful ‘For Belgian Friends’ in 1980, the latest technology was perfect foil for the most Factory of the label’s artists Vini Reilly aka THE DURUTTI COLUMN. Finally convinced to stop singing, the instrumental ‘Vini Reilly’ album opened the musician’s texture palette with the dreamy ‘Otis’ being the pivotal track. Over a hypnotic sequence, samples of the late iconic soul singer were flown in as Reilly improvised along on his six-string.

Available on THE DURUTTI COLUMN album ‘Vini Reilly’ via Kookydisc

http://www.thedurutticolumn.com


HAPPY MONDAYS WFL – Vince Clarke remix (1988)

With a name inspired by NEW ORDER’s best selling 12 inch single, HAPPY MONDAYS would emerge as Factory’s other best-selling act. It was a steady start for the band who began as something much more ordinary. But when they merged acid house with indie guitar rock, Shaun Ryder, Bez and Co would be hailed as flagbearers for the Ecstasy fuelled mini-movement known as ‘Baggy’ along with THE STONE ROSES. The Vince Clarke electronic remix of ‘Wrote For Luck’ from ‘Bummed’ aided the crossover process.

Available on the HAPPY MONDAYS album ‘Bummed’ via Rhino UK

http://www.happymondaysonline.com


ELECTRONIC Getting Away With It (1989)

Frustrated with the conflicts and confines within NEW ORDER, Bernard Sumner had planned a solo album. But on bumping into Johnny Marr who had just departed THE SMITHS, it was turned into a collaborative project with the occasional guests. ELECTRONIC not just in name but also in nature, the first offering was the very PET SHOP BOYS-like ‘Getting Away With It’ featuring additional vocals by Neil Tennant and a beautiful string arrangement by Anne Dudley.

Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Electronic’ via EMI Records

http://www.electronicband.com/


REVENGE Slave (1990)

The appropriately named REVENGE was Peter Hook’s response to ELECTRONIC. However, it was not particularly well-received by the music press. A slightly messy track in its original album incarnation, the superior New York disco oriented single remix by Daddy-O also featured a surprise rap. It enhanced the song’s lyrical slant which with the well-documented joyless division between himself and Sumner, appears now to be a veiled attack on his bandmate. Hook’s project later morphed into MONACO.

Available on the REVENGE album ‘One True Passion V2.0’ via LTM Records

http://www.peterhook.co.uk


THE OTHER TWO Tasty Fish (1991)

the other twoNot to be left out of the NEW ORDER side project game, Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris formed the ironically named THE OTHER TWO. Amusingly titled after a Fish and Chip shop near Stockport, ‘Tasty Fish’ was a catchy electropop single with a confident vocal from Gilbert that should have been a hit. Factory was beginning to enter a state of turmoil by this point and the CD version of the ‘Tasty Fish’ single never made it into the shops until it started its descent from its UK chart high of No41.

Available on THE OTHER TWO album ‘And You’ via LTM Records

http://theothertwo.co.uk/


CATH CARROLL Moves Like You (1991)

Previously a member of MIAOW, CATH CARROLL was treated like a future star by Factory. Mixed by Martyn Phillips who had also worked with THE BELOVED, ‘Moves Like You’ was a fine example of the blissful house influenced pop of the period. As with ‘Reach For Love’, it probably would have been a major hit had it been released on a label other than Factory. With expensive studio and photo sessions lavished on her, she is often held up as a symbol of why Factory eventually collapsed.

Available on the CATH CARROLL album ‘England Made Me’ via LTM Records

http://www.ltmrecordings.com/cath_carroll.html


Dedicated to the memories of Larry Cassidy, Ian Curtis, Rob Gretton, Martin Hannett, Marcel King, Jenny Ross and Tony Wilson

Special thanks to James Nice at Factory Benelux

A varied selection of the Factory catalogue can be found on the 4CD box set ‘Factory Records: Communications 1978-92’ via Rhino Records

The DVD ‘Shadowplayers: Factory Records 1978-81’ directed by James Nice is released by LTM

http://factorybenelux.com/

http://www.factoryrecords.net/

http://factoryrecords.org/factory-records.php

http://cerysmaticfactory.info/index.php


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st September 2015, updated 9th May 2020

25 FAVOURITE ARTIST COLLABORATIONS

Artist collaborations can be seen in several ways.

They are either a chance to take the best elements of great bands to form an even greater supergroup, or as has happened in many cases, there is a watering down of prime concepts which results in a fragmented mess of little interest to anyone.

So here are 25 artist collaborations that actually worked; the list is restricted to one song per main act, defined as being the one who released the parent album.

That means PET SHOP BOYS, who have been among the most ubiquitous and willing of conspirators, get to appear as themselves and as guests of ELECTRONIC and DAVID BOWIE while NEW ORDER’s Bernard Sumner appears as part ELECTRONIC as well as also moonlighting for THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS and Philip Oakey of THE HUMAN LEAGUE gets in there twice as a guest.

Over more recent years, there appears to have much more freedom for artists to collaborate, notably with SPARKS recently unveiled collaboration with Glasgow based art rockers FRANZ FERDINAND, named rather straightforwardly FFS. And this is reflected by this list here which has a bias towards new millennium recordings, although ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is pleased to say, this is a CALVIN HARRIS free zone 😉


SYLVIAN SAKAMOTO Bamboo Houses (1982)

Both David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto were beginning to make their artistic presence felt outside of JAPAN and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, and having collaborated on ‘Taking Islands in Africa’, another project was always on the cards. ‘Bamboo Houses’ expanded on the electro-acoustic textures of ‘Tin Drum’ over a catchy percussive framework courtesy of Steve Jansen. Sylvian delivered his usual mournful vocal but Sakamoto’s monologue and marimba gave the track that extra ethnic authenticity.

Available on the DAVID SYLVIAN compilation ‘A Victim of Stars 1982-2012’ via Virgin Records

http://www.davidsylvian.com/

http://sitesakamoto.com/


MIDGE URE & MICK KARN After A Fashion (1983)

‘After A Fashion’ was a blistering sonic salvo that crossed the best of JAPAN’s rhythmical art muzak with ULTRAVOX’s ‘The Thin Wall’. However, it stalled at No39 in the UK singles charts and sadly, there was to be no album. But Karn later played on Ure’s ‘Remembrance Day’ in 1988 and Ure briefly joined JBK, the band formally known as JAPAN sans David Sylvian for an aborted project in 1992 that resulted in two songs ‘Cry’ and ‘Get A Life’. Sadly Karn passed away in 2011 after losing his battle against cancer.

Available on the MIDGE URE album ‘No Regrets’ via Music Club Deluxe

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/

http://mickkarn.net/


SHARPE & NUMAN Change Your Mind (1985)

Very much seen as the odd couple, the duo’s promotional photos captured the curly haired jazz funk aficionado with The Iceman! Bill Sharpe was pianist with jazz fusion group SHAKATAK. Together with their drummer Roger Odell, they had written a piece of computerised electrofunk that needed a vocal. Engineered by Nick Smith who had also been working with GARY NUMAN, he suggested that the former Mr Webb would be ideally suited to the futuristic backing. ‘Change Your Mind’ reached No17 in the UK.

Available on the SHARPE & NUMAN album ‘Automatic’ via Cherry Pop

http://www.numan.co.uk

http://www.billsharpe.com


LES RITA MITSOUKO & SPARKS Singing In The Shower (1990)

In France, LES RITA MITSOUKO became unlikely pop stars thanks to danceable hit singles such as ‘Marcia Baïla’ and ‘C’est Comme Ça’. Vivacious singer Catherine Ringer and oddball instrumentalist Fred Chichin were influenced by the eccentric overtures of SPARKS and with a moniker in a similar vein to the Mael Brothers’ breakthrough LP ‘Kimono My House’, an artistic union was inevitable. With the two duos “feeling dirty and feeling clean”, the catchy ‘Singing In The Shower’ was a hit in Europe.

Available on the LES RITA MITSOUKO album ‘Marc & Robert’ via Virgin France

http://www.catherineringer.com/

http://allsparks.com/


ELECTRONIC featuring PET SHOP BOYS The Patience Of A Saint (1991)

‘The Patience Of A Saint’ from ELECTRONIC’s debut was undoubtedly the highlight of that album. Featuring the involvement of both PET SHOP BOYS, the witty exchange between Bernard Sumner and Neil Tennant was accompanied by a gorgeous backing track of drum machine, swimmy string synth and minimal guitar. Incidentally, the song was premiered in front of 60,000 people when ELECTRONIC, with Tennant and Lowe in tow, supported DEPECHE MODE at Dodger Stadium in August 1990.

Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Electronic’ via Warner Music

http://www.feeleverybeat.co.uk/

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


808 STATE featuring IAN McCULLOCH Moses (1993)

Following the departure of founder member Martin Price, ‘Gorgeous’ was 808 STATE’s first album as a three piece. Featuring early mash-up experiments based around UB40, THE JAM and JOY DIVISION, one of the wholly original compositions though was ‘Moses’, a rare electronically backed outing by ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN’s Ian McCulloch. Sounding like NEW ORDER with a Scouse snarl, the unusual but enjoyable partnership was the highlight of the album.

Available on the 808 STATE album ‘Gorgeous’ via ZTT Records

http://www.808state.com/

http://www.bunnymen.com/


ELEKTRIC MUSIC featuring ANDY McCLUSKEY Kissing The Machine (1993)

Recorded for his ELEKTRIC MUSIC project after leaving KRAFTWERK, Karl Bartos’ collaboration with OMD’s Andy McCluskey featured one of his best melodies synth melodies. Bartos told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “He suggested we do something together and I was up for it… We picked some cassettes and finally I found the opening notes of ‘Kissing The Machine’. A month later he sent me a demo”. With fabulously surreal lyrics about a love affair with a sexy robot, it became a cult favourite. OMD resurrected the song in 2013.

Available on the ELEKTRIC MUSIC album ‘Esperanto’ via SPV Records

http://www.karlbartos.com/

http://www.omd.uk.com/


LEFTFIELD LYDON Open Up (1993)

John Lydon had shown himself to be open to collaboration following 1984’s ‘World Destruction’ as TIME ZONE with electro rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. But ‘Open Up’ with the then relatively unknown dance duo LEFTFIELD came as something of a surprise. Lydon was suitably angry as he reflected on the tensions of his adopted home with a screaming “Burn Hollywood, burn!” over an intense electronic soundtrack. LEFTFILELD would later work with Afrika Bambaataa themselves on ‘Afrika Shox’ in 1999.

Available on the LEFTFIELD album ‘A Final Hit’ via Sony Music

http://www.leftfieldmusic.com/

http://www.johnlydon.com/


DAVID BOWIE featuring PET SHOP BOYS Hallo Spaceboy (1996)

BLUR’s Alex James once remarked that having a PET SHOP BOYS remix was like having your dog being taken for a walk, but then, when it came back, it was a different dog! PET SHOP BOYS certainly re-produced this Bowie/Eno composition from ‘1.Outside’ into a much more commercial proposition, even utilising the cut-up technique to decide which words Neil Tennant would sing. Reaching No12, ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ became Da Dame’s biggest UK hit since ‘Jump They Say’ in 1990!

Available on the DAVID BOWIE album ‘Nothing Has Changed’ via EMI Music

http://www.davidbowie.com/

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS featuring BERNARD SUMNER Out Of Control (1999)

‘Out Of Control’ was THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ sonic template actually fulfilling its potential within a song based format with Bernard Sumner as the willing conspirator. ‘Out Of Control’ had everything from a bombastic backbeat and cerebral sequences to bizarre lyrics, especially when Sumner resigned that “maybe my moustache is too much…”. The association with Sumner continued when they produced NEW ORDER’s terrific ‘Here To Stay’ for Factory Records biopic ’24 Hour Party People’.

Available on THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS album ‘Singles 93-03’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thechemicalbrothers.com/

http://www.neworder.com


SYSTEM F featuring MARC ALMOND Soul On Soul (2001)

Ferry Corsten had a huge international hit in 1999 with ‘Out Of The Blue’ under his SYSTEM F moniker. It highlighted the spiritual connection between synthpop and trance so to substantiate the link further, the Rotterdam based producer recruited MARC ALMOND to guest on the blinding ‘Soul On Soul’ for a spirited, club friendly workout. This all tied in nicely with SOFT CELL’s comeback album ‘Cruelty Without Beauty’ which finally arrived in Autumn 2002.

Available on the album ‘Out Of The Blue’ via Tsunami Records

http://www.ferrycorsten.com/

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


X-PRESS2 featuring DAVID BYRNE Lazy (2002)

The Dumbarton born TALKING HEADS frontman was back in the mainstream limelight for the first time since the band disbanded in 1991 with this superb online collaboration with British DJ duo X-PRESS2. David Byrne gave his best afflicted ‘Psycho Killer’ meets ‘Once In A Lifetime’ warble for what became a No2 UK chart hit. He later reworked ‘Lazy’ with orchestral embellishments for his 2004 solo long player ‘Grown Backwards’.

Available on the X-PRESS2 album ‘Muzikizum’ via Skint Records

http://www.skintentertainment.com/artists/skint/x-press-2

http://davidbyrne.com/


JUNKIE XL featuring DAVE GAHAN Reload (2003)

‘Reload’ was a welcome relief after DEPECHE MODE’s paradoxically titled ‘Exciter’. The brief sojourn with Dutch producer Tom Holkenborg aka JUNKIE XL proved once and for all how well Dave Gahan’s voice worked on uptempo electronic dance tracks. He may be more interested in  MUMFORD & SONS these days, but frankly, over a lively synth laden backbone is where he sounds best. The ‘Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin’ album also featured guest vocals from GARY NUMAN!

Available on the JUNKIE XL album ‘Radio JXL: A Broadcast From the Computer Hell Cabin’ via EMI Music

http://www.junkiexl.com/

http://www.davegahan.com


ERASURE featuring CYNDI LAUPER (2007)

Ms Lauper was heading towards a career renaissance with her excellent ‘Bring Ya To The Brink’ album in 2008 so her collaboration with ERASURE in 2007 was quite timely. A soulful slice of Trans-Atlantic synthpop, ‘Early Bird’ was an enjoyable duet between her and Andy Bell that turned out to be the one of the more memorable tracks that emerged from ERASURE’s rather lukewarm ‘Light At The End Of The World’ sessions.

Available on the ERASURE EP ‘Storm Chaser’ via Mute Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com/

http://www.cyndilauper.com


LITTLE BOOTS featuring PHILIP OAKEY Symmetry (2009)

At the time ‘Symmetry’ was unveiled, THE HUMAN LEAGUE had not released any new material since 2001. With a fabulous chorus, this was the nearest thing to a new HUMAN LEAGUE track with Victoria Hesketh doing her best Susanne Sulley impression. So when it was Phil talking, it was magic. “Tell me your dreams and I’ll tell you all my fears” he announced, as they complimented each other in a way that had not really even been heard on a League record before.

Available on the LITTLE BOOTS album ‘Hands’ via 679 Recordings

http://www.littlebootsmusic.co.uk

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


MY ROBOT FRIEND featuring ALISON MOYET Waiting (2009)

MY ROBOT FRIEND aka Howard Rigberg famously created the song ‘We’re The Pet Shop Boys’ in honour of Messrs Tennant and Lowe, who subsequently covered it by way of a reverse compliment. Rigberg went recruited ALISON MOYET for her first purely electronic adventure since the YAZOO days on ‘Waiting’. This welcome union with its off-kilter synth sounds alongside her voice no doubt helped ignite her interest in working within the genre again, the result of which was 2013’s ‘the minutes’.

Available on the MY ROBOT FRIEND album ‘Soft-Core’ via Double Feature/Worried Rainbow

http://www.myrobotfriend.com/

http://www.alisonmoyet.com/


PET SHOP BOYS featuring PHILIP OAKEY This Used To Be The Future (2009)

‘This Used To Be The Future’ was a dream trioet, exclusive to ‘Yes etc’, that featured Neil Tennant, Philip Oakey and Chris Lowe. With Lowe actually singing as opposed to just speaking, this triumphant celebration of yesterday’s tomorrow saw Oakey deadpan in that classic disappointed tone that things didn’t quite turn out how Raymond Baxter predicted on ‘Tomorrow’s World’! In that much loved HUMAN LEAGUE style, he finally resigns himself and at grunts“AMEN!”.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Yes: Further Listening 2008-2010’ via EMI Music

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


RÖYKSOPP featuring ROBYN The Girl & The Robot (2009)

The centrepiece of RÖYKSOPP’s third album ‘The Girl & The Robot’ was perhaps the culmination of ROBYN’s steady rise as a truly independent female artist. Despite having gained success in 1997 with the R’n’B tinged ‘Show Me Love’, ROBYN’s superiors at BMG reacted negatively to her new electropop aspirations inspired by fellow Swedes THE KNIFE. Frustrated, ROBYN bought herself out of her contract and set up her own Konichiwa Records, giving her the freedom to work with whoever she wanted.

Available on the RÖYKSOPP album ‘Junior’ via Wall Of Sound / PIAS

http://royksopp.com/

http://robyn.com/


BLANK & JONES featuring CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Don’t Stop (2010)

The German dance duo had previously worked with Miss Brücken on ‘Unknown Treasure’, a most gorgeous electrobeat ballad from 2003. ‘Don’t Stop’ was a progression on that but with a wider texture pallet and more abstract electronic overtones. Despite being less song based, vocally it is classic Claudia with its spoken verse and sexy ice maiden delivery in chorus.

Available on the BLANK & JONES album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’ via Kontor Records

http://www.blankandjones.info

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


CRYSTAL CASTLES featuring ROBERT SMITH Not In Love (2010)

Re-recorded for single release, Alice Beer took a breather to allow guest Robert Smith from THE CURE to take lead vocals on ‘Not In Love’, a dark but accessible number from CRYSTAL CASTLES’ second album. Smith more than fitted in with the Canadian duo’s aggressive and occasionally chaotic electronic template on this frantic uncovering of a song originally recorded by obscure Toronto new wave combo PLATINUM BLONDE.

Available on the CRYSTAL CASTLES featuring ROBERT SMITH single ‘Not In Love’ via Last Gang/Fiction Records

http://www.crystalcastles.com/

http://www.thecure.com


MOTOR featuring MARTIN L GORE Man Made Machine (2012)

MOTOR’s electro stomper ‘Man Made Machine’ featured vocals by DEPECHE MODE’s Martin Gore in a collaboration which came over a bit like a camp IGGY POP. Gore certainly sounded a touch nervous and uneasy, luring over the duo’s brand of harder edged schaffel techno which only enhanced its appeal. Incidentally, the same titled parent album also featured guests such as GARY NUMAN, BILLIE RAY MARTIN and NITZER EBB’s Douglas J McCarthy.

Available on the MOTOR album ‘Man Made Machine’ via CLR

http://www.wearemotor.com

http://www.martingore.com


FOTONOVELA featuring MIRRORS Our Sorrow (2013)

Not content with producing MARSHEAUX and collaborating with OMD on ‘Helen Of Troy’, Greek duo FOTONOVELA released a more song based second album featuring a number of prominent international vocalists entitled ‘A Ton Of Love’. One of the numbers ‘Our Sorrow’ featured James New from the much missed MIRRORS. In the vein of classic OMD, New’s majestic vocal touching the heartstrings, the wonderful melancholy was perfect, soulful electronic pop.

Available on the FOTONOVELA album ‘A Ton of Love’ via Undo Records

http://www.facebook.com/undofotonovela

http://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors


JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN Evangeline (2013)

Foxx and Hulkkonen had worked together previously on various one-off songs like ‘Dislocated’ and ‘Never Been Here Before’ but had never before attempted a body of work with a conceptual theme. When the two finally found some collaborative time together, he result was ‘European Splendour’, an EP with a grainier downtempo template than before. The lead track ‘Evangeline’ was full of depth, coupled with an anthemic chorus and vibrant exchange of overworldly character throughout.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN EP ‘European Splendour’ via Sugarcane Records

http://www.metamatic.com/

http://www.jorihulkkonen.com


SIN COS TAN featuring CASEY SPOONER Avant Garde (2013)

SIN COS TAN’s Jori Hulkkonen first found fame as part of TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS back in 2001 at the height of the Electroclash movement. Partly recalling that era, ‘Avant Garde’ saw Casey Spooner from the scene’s flag bearers FISCHERSPOONER make a guest appearance on the duo’s second long player ‘Afterlife’. The track itself though was more like THE CURE produced by PET SHOP BOYS with Spooner providing a suitably cynical snarl to contrast Juho Paalosmaa’s impassioned lost boy cry.

Available on the SIN COS TAN album ‘Afterlife’ via Solina Records

http://sincostan.net/

http://www.fischerspooner.com


iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound (2014)

Although Wolfgang Flür ’s last full album project was as YAMO with ‘Time Pie’ back in 1997, there was this marvellous electronic number entitled ‘Activity Of Sound’, recorded in collaboration with iEUROPEAN. The project of Dublin based artist Sean Barron, the additional female monologue  was provided by Barron’s wife, Izabella. The track sees Herr Flür quoting an archive interview with the late avant garde composer John Cage to a soundtrack of hypnotic synthetic bliss.

Available on the iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR download single ‘Activity Of Sound’ via Subculture Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/iEuropean/149564838461817

http://www.musiksoldat.de


Text by Chi Ming Lai
25th May 2015, updated 15th April 2018

A Beginner’s Guide To STEPHEN HAGUE

Portland born Stephen Hague first came to musical prominence in 1984 with his production of Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Madam Butterfly’, an incongruous blend of opera, soul, hip-hop and electropop.

Although an experienced hand having already notched up a hit with the breakdancing novelty record ‘(Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew’ in 1983, the cinematic arthouse resonance of ‘Madam Butterfly’ allowed Hague to be taken more seriously musically.

As one of the first advocates of digital recording, he was seen as someone who could helm a modern polished sound to maximise the dynamics of the then new compact disc medium.

Two acts who were listening closely were OMD and PET SHOP BOYS. Hague’s first full album production was OMD’s ‘Crush’ in 1985 but it was with his re-recorded version of ‘West End Girls’ that PET SHOP BOYS hit No1 in both the UK and US in 1986.

Interestingly, the character of its distinctive bass synth was achieved by Hague coercing a reluctant Chris Lowe into hand playing the riff while the track fulfilled Neil Tennant’s concept of the duo sounding “like an English rap group”. Hague’s work on ‘West End Girls’ made him a producer-in-demand and started an imperial phase which mirrored that of PET SHOP BOYS themselves.

Although Hague was not involved in OMD’s massive American hit ‘If You Leave’ from the John Hughes teen flick ‘Pretty In Pink’, he was the music supervisor of Hughes’ next film ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ which included PROPAGANDA and FURNITURE in the soundtrack. He then went through a particularly prolific period with a variety of synth flavoured acts such as NEW ORDER, ERASURE and COMMUNARDS, while also working with artists as diverse as PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, ONE DOVE, BROTHER BEYOND and THE MODERN.

One of the main criticisms of Stephen Hague’s sound was that his wash of digital synths and smoothed over percussion lacked edge. But as Hague would argue, pop music “carries certain traditions of structure and expectation”. Thus his work made considerations to the placement of instruments and voices, while giving any new technology an organic touch that still sounded positively futuristic.

Hague later got his foot in the door occasionally during the Britpop era with productions for DUBSTAR, BLUR, JAMES and even MANIC STREET PREACHERS. But it is electronic pop that Hague is best known for and his best work has certainly pointed to an affinity with synthetic textures.

So quite why REM asked him to produce a demo, only for them to then complain that the results were too synth heavy, remains a mystery.

When ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first acquired a car, a mix tape conceived around Hague’s various productions was the first cassette created for its incumbent entertainment system. In effect, this was a various artists compilation but with a wonderfully cohesive sonic core.

So what eighteen songs would go on an imaginary compilation today as an introduction to the work of this under rated, but very gifted producer? Listed in chronological order with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are our choices…


MALCOLM McLAREN Madam Butterfly (1984)

Based on Puccini’s iconic work, ‘Madam Butterfly’ became Stephen Hague’s production showcase with DX slap bass and a reverberating drum machine sitting next to haunting synth motifs and a highly emotive aria. With the late McLaren in the role of Colonel Pinkerton, the beautifully soulful vocal of Deborah Cole as Cho-Cho San and operatic stylings from Betty-Ann White provided a refreshing sound that was in its way, quietly subversive as one of the most beautiful records from the early digital era.

Available on the album ‘Fans’ via Charisma Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/24495-Malcolm-McLaren


OMD (Forever) Live & Die (1986)

Inspired by the steadfast groove of Grace Jones’ ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, ‘(Forever) Live & Die’ had been written alone by Paul Humphreys about missing his then wife Maureen who was away working on a ballet. A hit in both the UK and US, while the song pointed more towards the Trans-Atlantic aspirations of OMD following the success of ‘If You Leave’ in America, it still possessed elements of their Kling Klang inspired roots with KRAFTWERK’s melodic sensibilities and Vako Orchestron derived choirs looming in the mix.

Available on the album ‘The Pacific Age’ via Virgin Records

http://www.omd.uk.com/


PET SHOP BOYS & DUSTY SPRINGFIELD What Have I Done To Deserve This? (1987)

Originally slated for ‘Please’, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’ sounded like three songs morphed into one, but that was because it actually was. Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant did their respective pop art sections while Allie Willis who co-wrote ‘Boogie Wonderland’ came up with the rather blissful chorus. The song went into another sphere once Dusty Springfield was brought out of semi-retirement to add her voice and ad-libs. The smoothness of Hague’s production provided the perfect backing.

Available on the album ‘Actually’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


NEW ORDER True Faith (1987)

‘True Faith’ was a superb indicator of how Hague could transform a band without necessarily hindering their ethos. During recording, Hague insisted that Bernard Sumner laid down his lead vocal early on in the session so that the instrumentation could be built around his voice. The result was that there was a more subtle dynamic space in the finished track with the occasionally messy wall of sound effect that had been a characteristic of NEW ORDER’s self-produced recordings reduced.

Available on the album ‘Singles’ via WEA Records

http://newordernow.net/


CLIMIE FISHER Love Changes (1988)

If a young Rod Stewart had joined PET SHOP BOYS, what would the end result have sounded like? It might probably have been like CLIMIE FISHER. The late Rob Fisher had Stateside success in NAKED EYES while Simon Climie had proved his worth with his No1 song ‘I Knew You Were Waiting’ for Aretha Franklin and George Michael. ‘Love Changes (Everything)’ continued that latter tradition, but with slightly more synthesized backing.

Available on the album ‘Everything’ via Edsel Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/112925-Climie-Fisher


ERASURE A Little Respect (1988)

Probably Hague’s best known production worldwide, ‘A Little Respect’ was perfection from the off with its combination of Vince Clarke’s pulsing programming and strummed acoustic guitar. As the busy rhythmical engine kicked in, Andy Bell went from a tenor to a piercing falsetto to provide the dynamic highs and lows that are always omnipresent in all the great pop songs like ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ and ‘Careless Whisper’.

Available on the album ‘The Innocents’ via Mute Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


HOLLY JOHNSON Heaven’s Here (1989)

The former FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD front man’s first hit ‘Love Train’ had been mixed by Hague but the producer was fully involved in the recording of ‘Heaven’s Here’, a stand out track from the ‘Blast’ album which also later came out as a single. A lush love ballad, ‘Heaven’s Here’ took a leaf out of ERASURE’s vocal sensitivity to allow Johnson to present a less in-yer-face vocal style that perhaps he had not really visited since ‘The Power Of Love’.

Available on the album ‘Blast’ via Cherry Red Records

http://http://www.hollyjohnson.com/


JIMMY SOMERVILLE Heaven Here On Earth (1989)

Having worked on COMMUNARDS’ ‘Red’ opus which spawned a rather fabulous cover of ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, Stephen Hague was often a willing conspirator in aiding Somerville’s reputation as a falsetto Karaoke machine. However, ‘Heaven Here On Earth’ was a beautifully sumptuous layered self-composition from Somerville that was one of the best tracks on his debut solo offering ‘Read My Lips’. The staccato voice samples towards the song’s conclusion provided an enticing lift.

Available on the album ‘Read My Lips’ via Polygram Records

http://www.jimmysommerville.co.uk/


MARC ALMOND A Lover Spurned (1990)

With an epic orchestration and the ghost of Brel deep within its arrangement, ‘A Lover Spurned’ could only have been a single by Marc Almond. A forerunner to the Trevor Horn assisted second side concept of ‘Tenement Symphony’ that was to come a year later, ‘A Lover Spurned’ was Almond at his narrative best with ‘The Life & Loves Of A She-Devil’ actress Julie T Wallace giving a stern spoken cameo as the title character that added a ‘Fatal Attraction’ menace to proceedings.

Available on the album ‘Hits & Pieces’ via Universal Music

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


BANDERAS This Is Your Life (1991)

BANDERAS were vocalist Caroline Buckley and instrumentalist Sally Herbert and ‘This Is Your Life’ with its sample from Grace Jones ‘Crack Attack’ had a distinct Pet Shop Girls behavioural vibe to it. There was also the added bonus of Johnny Marr on rhythm guitar plus a terrific middle eight section featuring Bernard Sumner on backing vocals before an emotive synth solo. “There is no rehearsal, no second chance” sang Buckley and Sumner rather prophetically as there were sadly to be no more hits…

Available on the album ‘Ripe’ via London Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/31185-Banderas


SIOUXIE & THE BANSHEES Kiss Them For Me (1991)

It seemed a strange pairing but what Stephen Hague brought to The Banshees was an exotic Middle Eastern sheen driven by synthesizers that was complimented by some sparkling rhythm guitar. Long standing fans were outraged but ‘Kiss Them For Me’ possessed an accessibility that prised away some of the perceived threatening spectres of their previous work. Siouxsie Sioux may have been unhappy with the ‘Superstition’ album overall, but it yielded a huge US hit.

Available on the album ‘Superstition’ via Universal Music

http://www.siouxsieandthebanshees.co.uk/


ELECTRONIC Disappointed (1992)

The join between NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS became totally blurred with this Europop styled number inspired by the French pop hit ‘Désenchantée’ by Mylene Farmer. The nucleus of Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr were joined by occasional member Neil Tennant on lead vocals for this interim single. The effect of Stephen Hague’s input can be heard markedly on the two versions offered on the CD single; ELECTRONIC’s original mix was effectively a high quality demo. However, Hague’s pop sensibilities transformed ‘Disappointed’ into a fully functioning hit single.

Available on the album ‘Get The Message’ via EMI Records

http://www.feeleverybeat.co.uk/


THE OTHER TWO Selfish (1993)

From the side project of NEW ORDER’s Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris, ‘Selfish’ was another exquisite Stephen Hague production with its rich synthetic strings and lively but unobtrusive machine driven rhythms. Gilbert’s resigned vocal about “someone I hate” added to the inherent melancholy. Meanwhile the simulated acoustic guitar solo could easily have been represented by some Hooky bass had this number been a NEW ORDER recording, such was its melodic but understated quality.

Available on the album ‘And You’ via LTM Records

http://theothertwo.co.uk/


BLUR To The End (1994)

Imagine Marc Almond impersonating Anthony Newley with a Gallic twist? Like some obscure monochromatic Nouvelle Vague movie theme, the esoteric nature of ‘To The End’ needed a lusher orchestrated treatment than for BLUR’s usual mockney Britpop, so Hague was recruited to produce it. Given added authenticity by Laetitia Sadier from STEREOLAB’s sanguine “Jusqu’a la fin – En plein soleil” and Hague’s accordion playing, ‘To The End’ was popular with many casual listeners.

Available on the album ‘The Best Of’ via Food Records

http://www.blur.co.uk/


DUBSTAR Stars (1995)

Glorious string synths, rich bass and contemporary beats accompanied Sarah Blackwood’s girl-next-door vocal on DUBSTAR’s biggest UK hit single. The lyrical kitchen sink dramatics fitted well with the lush backing of ‘Stars’ as the trio stood on the bridge between synthpop and Cool Britannia. Hague produced a second album ‘Goodbye’ for DUBSTAR while he also continued his association with Blackwood later on when she formed CLIENT.

Available on the album ‘Disgraceful’ via Food Records

http://dubstarofficial.co/


TECHNIQUE You & Me (1999)

The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Kate Holmes, TECHNIQUE were a female interpretation of PET SHOP BOYS crossed with NEW ORDER’s post-punk edge. The usual Hague poptastic trademarks were present on ‘You & Me’ and while not a hit in the UK, it was in the Far East via a cover version by Coco Lee. TECHNIQUE were booked to support DEPECHE MODE in Europe but when singer Xan Tyler went left, DUBSTAR’s Sarah Blackwood was recruited… that duo morphed into CLIENT…

Available on the mini-album ‘Pop Philosophy’ via PopTones

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Technique


A-HA You Wanted More (2002)

A-HA were undergoing a career renaissance following ‘Minor Earth:Major Sky’. Stephen Hague produced four tracks on the follow-up ‘Lifelines’, the best of which was ‘You Wanted More’. Morten Harket had actually worked with Hague previously on a cover of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ for the ‘Coneheads’ soundtrack. So with A-HA’s lush melancholic pop drama, the artistic union with Hague was particularly apt. Harket hit his marvellous falsetto in the chorus while a gospel sample added a strange twist.

Available on the album ‘Lifelines’ via WEA Records

http://a-ha.com/


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Thank You (2011)

One of two tracks Hague co-wrote and recorded for Ms Brücken’s ‘ComBined’ retrospective collection, ‘Thank You’ was like a Bond Theme reimagined by MASSIVE ATTACK, held together by a sumptuous percussive mood. The fruitful partnership led to a full album of reinterpretations entitled ‘The Lost Are Found’ which came out in 2012. Interestingly, it saw Hague revisit two of his original productions ‘Kings Cross’ and ‘The Day I See You Again’ for PET SHOP BOYS and DUBSTAR respectively.

Available on the album ‘ComBined’ via Salvo / Union Square Music

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


A Spotify playlist compiled by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK of Stephen Hague’s productions and mixes can be heard at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/45Z8UqB0dOVcxXJbIdaAXh


Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th April 2014, updated 11th May 2022