le moulin blanc records | download | 11/03/2011
Sometimes iTunes has a wonderful way of completely justifying its existence and its impact on the music industry. The relative efficiency with which bands / artists without a record label can just get music out there for people to buy with a few clicks is part of its universal appeal, especially where releasing rare or hard to find material that would be costly to press up for a relatively small audience remains the preserve of the short-run musical underground – The Wire is filled with small-run releases on tiny labels, mostly on CD-R or cassette. iTunes therefore is perfectly suited to efficiently releasing out-of-print items, especially where they are heavily bootlegged.
Still, even with iTunes’ utilitarian dimension, I never expected to be able to download five tracks from Dinger, the duo of Andy Bell and Pierre Cope that existed before Bell’s fateful audition with Vince Clarke that led to the formation of Erasure; the duo’s moniker came from Bell’s nickname, presumably a play on his surname. Previously I’d only managed to download ‘I Love To Love’ and ‘Air Of Mystery’ from some dodgy Erasure fansites, and presumed that the two tracks (which I seem to recall formed the only official 7″ release by the band) were the only songs they recorded. So three additional tracks is a bit of a bonus.
The principal curiosity value of this EP is being able to hear a young Andy Bell making his first foray into the world of pop music, ahead of that audition, audio evidence of which has also come available thanks to the Erasure Information Service. It was often said, by Bell and others, that it took pretty much the whole of Wonderland before Andy found his ‘own’ voice, claiming that the voice he adopted as his ‘own’ was modelled on Alison Moyet‘s. On the strength of the tracks compiled on Sunsets Pink, I’m not so sure. It is different, certainly, but not unrecognisably so. If anything, Bell sounds like a cross between David Bowie, David Sylvian and the guy from Our Daughter’s Wedding that sang that ‘Lawn Chairs’ track, very melodramatic and engaging, especially on the slinky and dangerous ‘Air Of Mystery’. It’s very of it’s time, unlike the voice that brought Vince’s songs to life on Wonderland.
The point about sounding of its time is most enforced by the sound of Cope’s backing; the whole thing has a very 1984 / 85 vibe, particularly in the use of funky slap bass, a sound that hasn’t aged well. When used in a controlled manner it sounds sublime – ‘I Love To Love’ still sounds to me like an early, shimmering OMD cut, though the middle eight – with a slap bass solo – is a bit much. Erasure could have easily recorded this for Wonderland – the one note synth melodies are right up Vince’s street and I swear he has actually co-opted that descending hook since. ‘The China Song’ (about, er, going to China) sounds like an attempt to distill the sound of the (Expanded) Talking Heads of Remain In Light, and has that cute sense of awe that the early Eighties had for all things foreign and ‘exotic’ (and that presumably explains the palm trees and holiday sunset on the sleeve image). That same funk vibe propels ‘Kettle Of Fish’ whilst also referencing the stuttered S’Express beat that Bell’s future collaborator Pascal Gabriel would develop for ‘Theme From S’Express’.
‘Dance’ is a seedy number with a Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret feel, Bell imploring us to ‘dance, dance, dance‘ while far-off chatter and voices mutter away in the background. It’s the least straightforward pop song here, the most uncompromising, and probably my personal favourite, even if I did wish the low end of the beat was more prominent.
A single track download of ‘I Love To Love’ was released on iTunes on 4 March 2011.
‘Air Of Mystery’ and ‘I Love To Love’ were originally issued as a 7″ single by SRT / Face Value Records in 1985. a quick glance at Discogs suggests that getting your mits on an original of the single will set you back around GBP55.
1. Kettle Of Fish
3. Air Of Mystery
4. I Love To Love
5. The China Song
Originally posted 2011; edited 2015
(c) 2015 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence