All hail Rob Deacon! Volume magazine was a game-changer for me. While it was well advertised in the music press, my first awareness was seeing a sales assistant at HMV Grafton Street putting it on the racks. As far as I recall it was pricey – £15.99 (that’s Irish pounds) – but the 200 page booklet coupled with the impressive line-up (New Order, Throwing Muses, Shamen, The Orb) sucked me in. We got a real substantial package that consisted entirely of new music – be it a remix, an unreleased track or even a demo. Contributors for the first issue were Adrian Goldberg, Sam King, Graham Linehan, Arthur Mathews, Paul Mathur, Mick Mercer, Ronnie Relevant, Simon Reynolds, John Robb, Dave Simpson, Tommy Udo, Cathi Unsworth. That’s a seriously impressive roster. To design – bear in mind the fish theme – was by Batfish (Royal Charlotte Shoal). And most wonderful are the new release adverts that are so evocative of the era. There’s one for Creation’s “forthcoming long players” including not one but two albums by Teenage Fanclub.
There’s an industrial feel to the opening instalment as we begin with a span new Meat Beat Manifesto track recorded specially for Volume. Love Mad is swirling, breathless and chugs along on a gorgeous “when you leave, take me with you” sample. Fitting like a glove, Papa Sprain’s euphoric remix of Flying To Vegas and Nitzer Ebb’s mutant disco that is Come Alive. Getting back to the writing – John Robb has a hilarious feature on Dance Record complete with glossary. Next, a nice indie diversion as Kitchens Of Distinction re-record Prize B-side Innocent now named Innocence. It’s followed by a great interview with the Throwing Muses (complete with A to Z) who drop a killer version of Red Shoes from their best album, The Real Ramona. A Lower Rathmines Road bedsit jam. D is for Dreams: “On tour Tanya used to sit bolt upright in bed at night and shout, fuck you, fuck you.” We also get a brief career summary of their LPs along with a lovely 4AD advert showcasing their ’91 releases. A sprawling live version of The Darkside’s Guitar Voodoo completes the run.
After a hilarious Band Facts feature we’re treated to an edited version of Dr Phibes’ Sugerblast, now regarded as a key shoegazing work. Elsewhere Glinner gives a decent Popguns interview with good background info on the band’s Midnight Music output. Going Under is a searing slice of heady jangle. Next come The Orb with the delightful Reefer Spin In The Galaxy, a superb and floaty remix of Supernova At The End Of The Universe. The written word gives us 10 Things You Might Not Know About The Orb, 10 Very Ambient Things To Do and 10 Essential Orb-Related Releases. Meanwhile New Order’s Confusion was remixed for Dance Music Club (DMC) and was previously available to members of DMC on September 90 – Mixes 2. The accompanying text spans 25 pages, an exhaustive look back at their career complete with all single and album sleeves. In the wake, another remix of The Shamen’s Hyperreal, by Rico Conning – along with a most interesting Q&A with Will Sinnott, completed just two weeks before his untimely death.
Fortran 5’s XX21 and the Thrill Kill Kult’s Leather Sex work perfectly as a pair, frantic and hedonistic. You can then read about some of The Hacienda’s great club nights before Consolidated’s highly-charged Sexual Politics Of Meat. Friendly Fascism was a great listen back in 1991; the poor-sounding vinyl version trumped by the CD with key extra tracks. Nowadays it come across as hugely angry. Next The Wolfgang Press with the pummeling Sucker. They talk about their favourite albums – a great list for all three. In more reading goodness, Keith Cameron gives us a handy guide of what else is out there – 12 pages of recommendations. On the final lap, Daisy Chainsaw’s self-referencing Upmanship Down, a debut recording. We end with an genuine obscurity – L. Kage’s plaintive Another Story From Raintown, a heartfelt strum reminiscent of the Grove Park midnight walk home.
The Orb – Reefer Spin In The Galaxy
Kitchens Of Distinction – Innocence
Lest we forget
L. Kage – Another Story From Raintown