May 14, 2013

Stupefied: The Steve Harvey Playlist

Medium Medium, 1981, by Eugene Merinov
This week's edition of the Stupefied playlist comes from longtime friend, Medium Medium's drummer, Steve Harvey. Best known for the neo-funk post punk of "So Hungry, So Angry," Steve and the guys have been fairly active over the years, and have never stopped making music of some sort - whether with Medium Medium, or in other projects.

Following several reunion shows over the last few years, here's what Steve had to say about current events: As for promotion, we recently compiled some tracks for a cassette-only release due soon on My Dance The Skull in London. It’s a compilation of demo and radio session recordings from the very beginning of the band to early 1981, featuring the original lineup of the band (not me – I joined in summer 1981). Most of it is previously unreleased, and would only have been heard if you saw the band live at that time. One track was so obscure that no one could even remember the title! It also includes the original punk version of “Guru Maharaji.”

We currently also have the two vinyl split-LP releases on Der Sch̦ne-Hjuler-Memorial-Fund of live tracks from 2008 and 2009 recorded at Echoplex in Los Angeles. I think copies can still be found online, and we have some Рcontact us directly. They feature original artwork, numbered and signed; every one is unique. (See part one here, and part two here.)

We hear that a couple of other small labels might be interested in live and obscure tracks from our back catalog. We’re also working on some new studio tracks. We work very slowly, but they might see the light of day this year, if we can find an outlet for them. They include previously unreleased material plus two covers: The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”

And let us not forget Steve's kitschy jazztopian-elevator-ukelele-punk-with-a-mellotron cover band, Sartre's Lobster. In his spare time, he writes for Pro Sound News, amongst other outlets.

BIG thanks to Steve for the great sure to check out his notes about each track below!

(Continued after the jump)

Medium Medium, 1981 and 2008: John Rees Lewis, Graham Spink, Alan Turton, Andy Ryder, Steve Harvey. Graham is not in the second shot.

1. The Teardrop Explodes – Reward
Joyous. I must have played this twice a day for months. I worked for a production sound company, SSE Hire, between MM tours and had the great pleasure of seeing the Teardrops multiple times while babysitting the PA rig when they did a weeklong residency at Liverpool’s Pyramid Club, Christmas 1981. Bless my cotton socks…

2. Comsat Angels – Independence Day
In 1977 or ’78 I saw a band called Radio Earth at a pub in Nottingham and booked them for a Sunday night gig at my college. I think we paid them £35. Mik Glaisher’s drumming was an inspiration. The following year they changed their name to Comsat Angels and in 1981 released this, which rarely left my turntable for the following year.

3. David Bowie – Stay
Hard to pick just one track from such a constantly evolving artist, but “Station to Station” is a favorite album. What great players he had during this period: Dennis Davis, George Murray, Carlos Alomar, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Earl Slick (MVP on this track).

4. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound
The Banshees’ concert in Nottingham in 1981 still stands out in my memory. The light show was one of the most inventive I can remember seeing, and guitarist John McGeoch was a revelation. Budgie was definitely an influence on my playing at the time, pre-MM.

5. Talking Heads – The Great Curve
“Remain in Light” is one of my top 5 all-time favorite albums. In 1982 we learned that we had a good shot at opening for Talking Heads at a big venue in Holland, along with the Tom Tom Club and U2. The Alarm’s record label apparently promised “tour support” and got them the opening slot instead. I only recently discovered that The Alarm never showed up for the gig.

6. Ministry – Work For Love
“With Sympathy” is up there with the great synth-pop albums of the era. Ministry opened for us on our March 1982 U.S. tour, before they were signed. The van bringing our backline equipment from New York was totaled on the way to meet us at O’Hare Airport so we ended up using Ministry’s gear. The Gun Club opened for both bands in Minneapolis.

7. Brian Eno – St. Elmo’s Fire
From “Another Green World” – Best. Album. Ever. I first heard Roxy Music on John Peel’s radio show, and got to see them in 1972 and ’73 while Eno was still with the band. His first four solo albums, especially, are classics.

8. Roxy Music – The Bogus Man
Roxy Music was a life-changing experience for many people of my age, especially musicians, I think. They might as well have arrived from a different dimension. Plus, they completely bypassed that period in every other band’s existence where you had to run around in a Transit van playing every toilet in England, making them the envy of us all. They were probably the first rock artists to put as much emphasis on fashion (through Anthony Price) as music (as did Bowie, too; Grace Jones and Madonna would follow suit – pun intended – later).

9. Aswad – Warrior Charge
Syn drum! British reggae has a sound all its own, and Aswad was one of its pioneers. They were especially notable for creating dub effects live through their playing, not just effects. MM played numerous gigs with reggae artists (this was the era of Rock Against Racism) before I joined the band, including Aswad, Prince Far I and Creation Rebel.

10. Gregory Isaacs – Night Nurse
Kids today don’t know this, but back in the day certain record labels had reputations for quality and innovation. With some labels you could almost guarantee that any release would be great. Look at Island Records: the Cool Ruler himself, of course, plus Grace Jones, Aswad, Roxy Music, Eno, King Crimson, 801, Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Fairport Convention, Ultravox, B-52s, Free, Mott the Hoople, U2, King Sunny Ade, Third World, Kid Creole, Tom Tom Club, Steel Pulse, Sly & Robbie, Shriekback. In other words, the sound of my youth.

11. Can – Vitamin C
We only recently learned that there are 3 artists that all 4 members of the current MM lineup appreciate: Can, Capt. Beefheart and King Crimson. Can’s Jaki Leibezeit and Kraftwerk/Neu drummer Klaus Dinger were among my early idols when I first started learning to play in 1973.

12. C Cat Trance – Dreams of Leaving
Rees (singer, sax) left MM at the end of 1981 to form C Cat Trance, with original MM drummer Nigel Stone. They pioneered the amalgamation of world music with indie rock, borrowing melody lines and rhythms from North Africa and the Middle East, especially Turkey. I played on one album, co-produced a single and toured with them as driver, tour manager and percussionist. I love the internal rhymes on his lyrics on this track.

13. Gang of Four – To Hell With Poverty
Jon King and Andy Gill came to see us play at a club called 1st City in Manhattan in June 1983 (I think that was the one Joey Ramone also attended). Not long after they called to ask if I would audition for Go4. They’d just completed “Hard,” using programmed drums. We were on the verge of disbanding anyway. According to my diary I auditioned at 2pm on Monday, July 25th, at Atlanta Rehearsal Studios on Chalk Farm Rd. in London. Steve Goulding (The Rumour) got the gig. Andy called to tell me I was their second choice. He probably told Dave Palmer (ABC) the same thing; still, that was nice of him.

14. Skyy – Call Me
When we toured the U.S. in the early ‘80s we listened almost exclusively to R&B radio (as it was then called) in the van, especially KISS FM and WBLS in New York. This track is just one great example: it could as easily have been Shannon (“Let The Music Play”) or Luther Vandross (“Never Too Much”) or SOS Band (“Just Be Good To Me”) or The Time (“777-9311”) or…

15. Miles Davis – E.S.P.
Oh, so many choices. I have more albums by Miles than any other artist. I grew up listening to jazz; my parents listened to a lot of Dave Brubeck and took me to the first concert I can remember, Errol Garner, when I was still very young. Over the years I’ve seen Dizzy, Blakey, Mingus, Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, and on and on…but never Miles.

16. Billy Cobham – Stratus
Already a fan of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, I discovered Cobham’s first solo album as an import at a local record store in Leicester, where I grew up, in 1973. I knew I was never going to play like him, but he’s always been inspiring. Whatever he played it was always funky. Guitarist Tommy Bolin is fantastic on this album.

17. King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues In Aspic (Part 2) (see video below Spotify playlist)
As prog as prog can be. More metal than the most metallic metal. And one of my favorite rhythm sections, growing up: John Wetton and Bill Bruford.

18. Massive Attack – Angel
Massive Attack, like King Crimson, are masters of dynamics. They’re sublime on record, and live they are a wonder to behold. I love almost everything they’ve done, and everything they stand for.

19. Underworld – Rez
I’ve been a fan since 1994’s “Dubnobasswithmyheadman.” Their “RiverRun Project” is currently in heavy rotation when I take Tilda the dog for her walks.

20. LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
We reformed in 2004 for a couple of shows, and have played a handful more since. In 2007 we contacted LCD to see if we could open for them. James Murphy’s manager very generously replied that he had a policy of not playing with his heroes and influences (Tim Sweeney had already warned us this might be his answer). In ’08 and ’09 we got to play with some of our contemporaries, including A Certain Ratio, Section 25, The Raincoats and Pylon, which was fun. We’re always open to offers…

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