What does it sound like?:
ACR have now joined their old Factory label mates New Order and signed to Mute Records for a series of reissues and archival releases.
They are not in chronological order, and the next one out of the tombola is ‘I’d Like to See You Again’ from 1982.
I actually really love this album, It was never far from my walkman in the late 80s and got a bit obsessed with it. It still sounds utterly brilliant and probably their most underrated Factory release.
This was the follow up to ‘Sextet’ which the critical consensus seems to agree is their best album – and it was released the same year in October 1982. It’s cut from a similar cloth, in that it sounds like some lads from Hulme and Wythenshawe who used to be Post Punk trying to recreate late 70s/early 80s American funk records infused with Jazz and Latin influences and getting it a bit wrong and a bit wonky. Lead singer Simon Topping has stepped further away from the mic and retreated behind the Timbales only adding occasional backing on the 3 vocal tracks (Drummer Donald takes the lead), and occasional treated vocoder sounds. This would be his last album with ACR and guitarist Peter Terrell would also depart soon after. They’re trying for a more commercial, club friendly sound (the band are pictured on the front relaxing in the bar of the Hacienda) but making a delightful hash of it and creating something uniquely atmospheric and of their own creation. This is best exemplified by ‘Hot Knights’ which sounds like Kid Creole and some very broken down Coconuts. It descends into Jazz Funk noodling at times but there’s nothing cheesy or naff about it, it retains it’s weirdness throughout and there’s lots of the signature latin percussion workouts which are such a key feature of their live sets. ‘Saturn’ would be entirely at home on Sextet with it’s slightly woozy trumpets – Shakatak on Mushrooms. Side two gets really weird with the the vocoder-led title track and ‘Showcase’, the sound of a band overreaching itself and getting lost in a bizarre, dense jungle of psychedelic funk which is quite something considering this record was recorded in Cheadle.
Next up on the reissue randomizer is the long lost ‘ACR:MCR’ which hasn’t been readily available since 1990. This was their second and final album for A&M records and followed their ill-timed foray into commercial blue eyed soul with ‘Good Together’ just as the rest of Madchester was getting into Acid house and bands like Happy Mondays, very much inspired by the early ACR records, were becoming hugely successful. This isn’t a proper album but compiles EP tracks and some club remixes of tracks from ‘Good Together’ almost in time to reclaim their position as pioneers of Indie dance. It includes the Bernard Sumner remix of ‘Won’t Stop Loving You’ (aka The Big E) their almost hit which is a bit of a Balearic dance anthem for a lot of people although I can’t get past the fact that this basically sets the template for what would become the terrible M People – I like Bernard’s strangely offbeat drum pattern though which rescues this from pure slush. Some if it hasn’t aged too well, and a lot of it was largely produced from samples and loops rather than the band playing live in the studio so it’s a bit dry and clinical in places. ‘Spirit Dance’ is their first foray into pure electronica but sounds a little thin next to the likes of Orbital or LFO. Much better is ‘Be What You Wanna Be’ which knocks a lot of so-called Acid Jazz into a cocked hat and wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Screamadelica’ (ACR shared their vocalist Denise Johnson with Primal Scream of course) – the extended version of Good Together with Shaun Ryder and Bernard Sumner is another hit that never was. Best of the set is ‘Tribeca’ where the bongos and trumpets are brought down from the loft and ACR go full cowbell for a 6 minute samba workout that joins the dots nicely with their earlier work on Factory.
What does it all *mean*?
The CDs are no-frills issues in digipack sleeves with no extra tracks. There is no info on whether these have been remastered. ACR MC is on double clear vinyl and the other is Yellow Transparent vinyl. ACR are touring soon – don’t miss, they’re brilliant live. http://mute.com/mute/new-reissues-live-dates-announced
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…
New Order, early 80s Britfunk, Acid House, Electro, Happy Mondays, Jazz, Fusion, Jazz Fusion, House, Funk, 80s boogie, Primal Scream