Les Disques du Crépuscule \ Some of the interesting things you'll see on a long distance flight [LTMCD 2467]
Deluxe CD and download souvenir (TWI 082) of Crépuscule's ambitious Dialogue North-South package tour in February 1982, featuring exclusive live tracks by Antena, The Durutti Column, Paul Haig and Rhythm of Life, Richard Jobson, The Names and absurdist emcee Wally Van Middendorp of Minny Pops. 76 minutes of music.
1. WALLY VAN MIDDENDORP raving lunatic #1
2. RICHARD JOBSON etiquette
3. RICHARD JOBSON pavillion pole
4. RICHARD JOBSON india song
5. THE DURUTTI COLUMN danny
6. THE DURUTTI COLUMN madness
7. THE DURUTTI COLUMN for friends in belgium
8. WALLY VAN MIDDENDORP raving lunatic #2
9. PAUL HAIG + RoL chance
10. PAUL HAIG + RoL stories
11. PAUL HAIG + RoL glory
12. PAUL HAIG + RoL justice
13. ANTENA the boy from ipanema
14. ANTENA silly things
15. WALLY VAN MIDDENDORP raving lunatic #3
16. THE NAMES close to me
17. THE NAMES in other rooms
18. THE NAMES a few hundreds
19. THE NAMES anything (with passion)
20. THE NAMES spectators of life
21. WALLY VAN MIDDENDORP raving lunatic #4
Deluxe booklet with liner notes, archive images and facsimile tour programme.
"The tour boasted a colourful array of artists, viciously at odds with the pastel-coloured trousers of British pop at that time, which only serves to increase interest here. The 21 performances from the refreshingly non-competitive roster are best swallowed whole, and the effect is heightened by excellent sleeve notes from James Nice and the late, great journalist Johnny Waller" (Record Collector, 09/2006)
"Something of a slice of musical history, a snapshot of time, and it's nice to go back - read the tour programme, listen to the sounds (all exclusive tracks) and hear how it was done back then. Recommended" (Boomkat, 01/2007)
Dialogue North-South 1982
Dialogue North-South was the first of two ambitious multi-media package tours offered up to audiences in 1982 by Les Disques du Crépuscule, the chic Brussels-based independent label. Most of the organization was undertaken by Crépuscule fixer Katalin Kolosy, then also managing Tuxedomoon.
The tour ran to fourteen dates across Holland, Belgium and France in February 1982 and centered around a flexible core of The Durutti Column, Richard Jobson, The Names and Paul Haig. Also playing at various dates were Antena, Marine, Isolation Ward, and Tuxedomoon regulars Blaine Reininger, Steven Brown and Winston Tong. Minny Pops vocalist Wally Van Middendorp also compered the shows with a bizarre mix of blank verse and confrontational dialogue.
A delightful programme was also produced (and is reproduced in full in the CD booklet), as well as a number of handsome posters and handbills. Some of the costs of the tour were underwritten by the cities visited. Initially the concept for the tour was a novel one: as well as a rotating running order, with no headliners, artists were directed to eschew hit singles in favour of left-field sets devised exclusively for the tour. It was even suggested that artists should perform sitting down. In the event only The Names and the Jobson/Tuxedomoon grouping took the idea to heart, the former usually performing only the slower 'night' side of their forthcoming Swimming album, while the latter improvised music behind Richard's poetry, and also performed a short play.
Paul Haig, fresh from the recently-disbanded Josef K, gave his new band Rhythm of Life equal billing and debuted his earliest solo material, using the then-radical device of a Roland drum machine as the backbone of his set. The late Johnny Waller, writing for the British rock weekly Sounds, attended the opening shows in Brussels and Amsterdam. Although his main brief was to cover Paul Haig - then very much a Great White Hope for the British music press - much of his on-the-spot report still makes for fascinating reading:
"The chances of even seeing Rhythm Of Life in this country again soon are quite slim (Haig detests the whole rock 'n' roll pretence of touring and plans to strictly limit live appearances), which makes it all the more ironic that I should interview Paul Haig in Amsterdam before playing the second show of what would appear to be a nine-date European tour.
"In reality, it's a series of multi-media shows that for once actually come close to fulfilling their on-paper potential, so that the action onstage is varied yet complementary. Organised by Les Disques du Crépuscule, it features not only Rhythm Of Life but also Durutti Column, The Names and Marine, plus surprise (and sometimes surprising) appearances by members of Tuxedomoon and Richard Jobson and elements of Dutch band Minny Pops, whose vocalist Wally Van Middendorp (one of the truly big names in music) acts as Master of Ceremonies. Crépuscule's ingenuity and adventure looks like paying off, but press person Katalin Kolosy is too worried over travel arrangements for the next show to bask in reflected praise. Nor is she convinced thepckage would bepsitively received in the UK, though when I jokingly tease her about the 'travelling music and drama cabaret revue' she laughs and says my description is perfect. Except that she says 'perfect' in a sensual manner unique to French-speaking pepes.
"Sweeping aside those fans who still mourn the passing of Josef K, Paul Haig swept onstage at the Melkweg (Milky Way), and although Crépuscule are anxious to stress the all-round aspect of the shows, it's Rhythm Of Life who effortlessly cruise into the audience's hearts. The band have no need to snap and snarl like rabid dogs; they have fury and energy to spare, and glide with the grace of ice dancers, reducing even the most complex of tasks to the aural equivalent of a piece of cake. Why, RoL even smile - not for them the scowling intensity of Dexys (that looks too much like hard work), rather the carefree simplicity of Haircut One Hundred. Like a new promotion campaign, I must tell you that the key word is flexibility (this is what Paul told me). And sharpness. Flexibility and sharpness. Switching from bass to trumpet, keyboards to drums, from rhythm to melody, the whole group sways with the mood, never staying static, always shaping a new atmosphere rather than forcing an old one.
"Let me tell you about the songs so that you'll realise just how great Rhythm of Life are. Apart from the lucious version of 'Heaven Sent' (with its guitar jerks reminding one of 'Fame') there are no Josef K compositions, so be prepared for a radically different approach to that attack. Can you believe 'Stories'... a love song, a torch song, crooned by a young performer who has his heart where most others have ham (or their wallet). Or 'In The World', which realises so many of the past hopes and hypes that surround minor singing talents foisted as rising stars. This is a sensual bass, gyrating rhythm and a velvet melody. Vic Godard backed by Kraftwerk! But you must hear 'Justice' - as commercial a pop song as you'd ever want to hear on the radio, as pulsing a track as you' ever want to dance to in a club, and as complete a performance as you'll ever see onstage. Oozing, flowing, the inviting vocals melt into a warm luxurious trumpet call that sounds the clarion for a new charge. Onward!
"Not that there's no opposition provided by the other acts, and indeed a strangely wonderful selection of words, movements and music are paraded to various degrees of entertainment, provocation and enjoyment. Less contrived than Cabaret Futura, yet more cosmopolitan than the desperate jamborees at the Lyceum, this Crépuscule promotion succeeds in providing a genuine alternative to the stale archaic 'rock gig'.
"A lot of the credit must go to Richard Jobson, for so long regarded in Britain as a meddling dilettante, the world's oldest teenager, legless man-about-town (or at least Heaven), and one time punk singer. Such a reputation - capped by the Skids horrendous 'Joy' album - has virtually precluded British audiences from taking old Jobbers seriously, though the Continentals suffer no such bigotry and it serves them well in enjoying his latest ventures.
"To say that Jobson tells poems is to suggest Magnus Pyke has a twitch; rather he performs drama, reliving stirring monologues and projecting passion and power. Sometimes he overreaches, and for a moment can appear hopelessly ham-fisted, but when his talent matches his intention - as on a stunning adaptation of Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy' which incorporated flashbacks from Richard's own childhood, all related in his growling, rolling dialect - he simply commands attention and respect. Unfortunately, much of his rich, evocative language is lost on the audiences in Brussels and Amsterdam, partly due to his thick brogue, but also because of a totally inappropriate artificial echo that robbed the verse of much of its sharpness and humour, atteping to imply grand melodrama where none existed.
"Maybe he lacks a sense of poise, of grace, and certainly he still needs a greater degree of economy to prevent the words from tumbling over each other. Which is what happens backstage, as he gabbles enthusiastically about fresh challenges ahead; a new Ian McEwan play in October, an invitation to lecture on thepet W.H. Auden, a one-man tour of clubs in Britain (including the Paul Raymond Revue Bar), two books he's working on - one an essay titled 16 Years of Alcohol and the other a novel called Company, PLUS he's been sharing a correpndence with actor/novelist Dirk Bogarde.
"I suggest that European audiences are more open-minded towards his brand of drama and recitation, but he refutes this. "Not really - Britain's my home. Anyway, it's harder to make people laugh than to make them cry. That's easy." As a parting shot, he rationalises his recent divergent activities thus: "The whole idea is to learn different aspects of performance, then eventually gel them all together, but I'm still a million miles away and sometimes I get frightened."
"Frightened or not, Jobson lends an casual jokiness to the shows, and is ably complemented by Minny Pops' Wally, who brings a startling innovation to the role of MC that's light years away from theppular conception of a jive-talking, gag-cracking spiv. In a curious, stilted manner (heightened by the use of his native Dutch in Amsterdam - "a home crowd for me"), he summons up his wiry six-foot-plus frame and issues announcements like a British Rail timetable. Precisely, but slowly.
"Constrained by a white dinner jacket and black bow tie he acts not so much as a link between acts (although he does introduce them by name) but as a separate enigma, releasing seemingly disconnected phrases apparently at random... "Sometimes the light is so bright... sometimes you're in a dream." His delivery, though, is marvelous and full of the most dramatic, effective pauses which draw the audience in towards what has yet to be said. Wally simply explains this away as "Sometimes my mind goes blank on stage."
"Also from Minny Pops were Wim and Pieter, who played a short instrumental keyboards set under the name Smalts. When their compositions gained momentum the driving hypnotic effect was not unlike 'Autobahn' or 'Der Mussolini', but often they lapsed into a repetitive pattern of uninspiring tones and bleeps, like a faulty oscillator.
"By comparison, the much-vaunted Marine were far from uninspiring. Full of confidence and hustle, always pushing (and sometimes fumbling) for the ultimate rhythmic groove, though as each song reaches the three minute mark it seems that they mutually agree it hasn't satisfied their own fast standards of manic adventure, and cut it dead without warning. It's though they need more space than could ever exist, continually and anxiously attacking guitar riffs with fresh, untutored vocals that fall between Mark Perry and Mark E. Smith, always rushing into a gritty high-stepng disco sound that is momentarily exhilarating, but ultimately unsatisfying. Hopefully the new twelve-inch 'How To Keep Cool' will underline their best attributes and overcome their worst.
"Backstage all the performers mill about casually, alternately unwinding after being onstage of preparing for the performance ahead, a can of beer or a comb in hand, a cigarette or a nervous joke on their lips. Vini Reilly looks in a permanent daze, even as you talk to him directly. As the Durutti Column he enjoys a degree of success, but all too often his mellow guitar exercises set to tape loops become overly soporific - especially in the Melkweg, where the smell of marijuana is literally stifling. But remembering his past illnesses it's a relief to hear him say "I'm well again" (even if the physical evidence doesn't corroborate that), "so I'm playing as much as I can now."
"As I wandered off he was discussing the possibility of playing guitar accompaniment to Richard's poems, since Jobson's regular pianist, the classically-trained Cecile Bruynoghe, was unavailable. Such is the strength of this revue that theprformers seem more willing to take chances, though bitterly disappointing was the performance by members of Tuxedomoon, who seemingly left so much to chance that their (instrumental) set resembled nothing more than a shambolic rehearsal.
"Which leaves The Names, for whom everyone I spoke to had nothing but scorn: "too doomy", "just like Joy Division" and "no originality". While admitting that all these charges contain an element of truth, they're gross exaggerations and I found their depdrum resonance and driving bass enjoyably derivative, and they set up the evening spectacularly for the Rhythm of Life spectacular."
The first show at the Brussels Beursschouwburg on 3 February was notable for a one-off performance by Tuxedomoon proper, who premiered (none too smoothly) much of the ambitious material which later that year would form the basis of their celebrated Ghost Sonata project. Other notable dates included Lyon on 12 February, where Brown and Reininger performed an improvisation on equipment loaned by The Names, and by The Names themselves, always popular in the French university town and obliged to encore with their Factory label singles Nightshift and Calcutta to appease excited fans.
Jobson and Reininger also acted out a short W.H. Auden play at selected dates, with Jobson mysteriously donning a motorcycle helmet. The dates at the celebrated Paris nightspot Les Bains-Douches were still more dramatic, since Reininger, Brown and Jobson performed in a swimming pool filled with milk-white water. However, Reininger and Jobson fell out after the latter waded into the water wearing Reininger's overcoat, and soaked the pharmaceuticals hidden in the pocket. An unhappy Jobson quit the tour in Paris, and would not return to the Crépuscule fold for some time.
Sections of the Paris show were broadcast live on Radio France Inter, although delays disrupted the schedule, so much so that The Names were almost relayed across the airwaves when listeners were expecting Paul Haig. Undoubtledly the tour raised the profile of the bands and artists featured, since it played in Amsterdam, two nights in Paris and three in Brussels. The third night in Paris, on 12 February, was a show by Durutti Column only, while the rest of the entourage traveled down to Bordeaux. Viewed with the benefit of hindsight, the trio of hometown dates in Brussels were perhaps the most interesting:
3 February (Beursschouwburg): Paul Haig, Richard Jobson, The Names (in Mutation), Winston Tong (Tuxedomoon on the night).
6 February (Galerie Bilinelli): Paul Haig, Richard Jobson, Durutti Column, The Names, Marine, plus Factory and Crépuscule video show
7 February (Bloomdido jazz cafe): Durutti Column, Antena, Isolation Ward
...although it seems that the bills were fluid, and other artists may have appeared at each venue, as thepsters and publicity materials indicate.
Haig remembers the tour thus. "It was hellish! Somehow we stuck it out until the end, though for the last couple of dates we were so bored we dropped the set and just improvised. It was fun for us, though probably not for the audience. Towards the end our manager Allen Campbell acquired a pink jacket and hung out with Marine all the time."
Steven Brown: "The problem in France was Richard was to be doing a poetry reading tour in English. He tried to make it work using his thespian skills but on the night in Paris it became clear it wasn't going over after a few minutes onstage and he said to me and Blaine, "OK forget it - we'll go down to that pool with water in it and I'll pantomime a boxer in slow motion while you guys accompany me." The Bains-Douches, which before being a snooty club was an actual public bathhouse, still contained some of the pools intact with a few feet of milk coloured water in them. Looked nice. So that's what we did. Me and Blaine eased ourselves into the cool white liquid. I stood at one end and played clarinet and Blaine stood at the other with his fiddle while Richard mimed a boxer, submerging his whole body at times. The Parisian public looked down from above. I think it was after this that a frustrated Richard finally upped and left, and me and Blaine continued the tour without him. I guess we played something, but I remember Blaine doing an imitation of Richard in Lyon with outrageous Scottish brogue and getting a grand reception. Some Lyonaise even thought Blaine actually was Richard."
The package finally wound up with a matinee show at the grandly-named Amphitheatre Descartes in Poitiers on 14 February, though The Names and Marine afterwards crossed to London to play at The Venue on the 16th, with Malaria! also on the bill. By all accounts only about twenty people paid to attend the Venue show, a somewhat downbeat end to an otherwise successful outing - and an odd one, given that both bands had enjoyed some success with singles (Nightshift for the Names, and Life in Reverse for Marine). Possibly the conservative Brits might have preferred the all-singing, all-dancing Continental review after all. Or possibly not.
Some fascinating Super 8 footage shot by Marc Desmare of Marine on the tour and in London can be seen on the LTM DVD collection Umbrellas in the Sun. Crépuscule released a poorly-recorded cassette souvenir in 1983, which was later pressed on vinyl in Japan. For this new CD edition certain tracks have been dropped from the original cassette release since the sound quality was strictly bootleg. For the record, the absentees are 'Light' by The Names, 'Party' by Durutti Column, 'Shining Hour" by Paul Haig and 'Same Beat' by Marine. It is hoped that the extra tracks here (those by Durutti Column, Antena and The Names have never before been released) more than make up for this minor historical rewrite.
The next Crépuscule package tour, Move Back-Bite Harder, was less ambitious in geographical scope, comprising just four dates in Belgium in October 1982. The line-up was no less ambitious, however, featuring 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon, Antena, Pale Fountains and Isolation Ward. Although the shows were recorded, the mooted souvenir compilation never appeared, although extracts from 23 Skidoo and Cabaret Voltaire / Tuxedomoon have appeared as bonus tracks on subsequent CDs.
Special thanks to Paul Haig, Richard Jobson, Vini Reilly, Bruce Mitchell, Isabelle Antena, Wally Van Middendorp and Michel Sordinia for allowing this magical archive material to re-appear. Thanks also to all at Les Disques du Crépuscule, Michel Duval, Annik Honoré, Lieve Monnens, Marc Portee and the late Johnny Waller, who in 1991 was kind enough to grant permission for his article to be repinted for the original Crépuscule release of this CD (TWI 082)