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chrisdamien

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Posts: 96
 #31 
Will have to do today's tracks and the 2 catch-ups another day, but thought I'd swing by to state how much I LOVE this version of It's My Planet! It's a rough demo and not very SSS sounding, being all organic, but it's simply brilliant! Not sure what it is, but it seems like this song didn't reach it's full potential on the First Generation version. Maybe it's the extraordinary vocal performance on this version, maybe it's X's bonus solo, maybe it's the great basslines... maybe all of it and more. 
Just the feel of this track is brilliant!

I'd also like to point out that Outrageous has grown on me a lot since I reviewed it.

So, there you have it!:-)

sssandt

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Posts: 30
 #32 
T. Rex INDEED !!!! "Miss Universe", "Be My Universe" "King Of Planet Love" !!! I like to believe Marc is boogie-ing today to the newest "Bomb" and taking full credit !!!

Why did i suspect today's entry would be "Miss U" - interesting !!!
Unregistered
 #33 
FUNKY VIOLENCE
Wow! I always thought this song sounded more like it belonged on Pirate Space rather than Ultra Real and that's probably never been more true than now. 
What an insane version! The huge breakbeat drumsample and the cool guitarpart in the background. I am not a huge techno-fan though and always thought this was the weakest track on Ultra Real. The insane drumming on this version doesn't really help too much, BUT what I do love about this version, which I wish they'd kept (or kept more audiable) for Ultra Real, is the chord change on the chorus...which is very rock'n'roll. The Ultra Real version has a more groovy bassriff, but because of that the chord changes are also lost. Here you hear perfectly that the verse is in G and then a chorus of F - C - G - G which lifts the song so great. I wonder why they left that out/buried it later? Another cool thing with this version is that the music goes VERY well with the title. That crazy and chaotic drumloops just SCREAM Funky Violence all the way:-) Even if it's not my favourite song on Ultra Real I urge all of you to go back and listen to that version and compare it to this one. Violence Is Funky, as it turned out, is a very accomplished song with lots of different parts and details that come at you once you start dissecting it with your ears.
 
 
SPACED SEX
This is a very unusual song for SSS. A very unusual song for anyone, really. The chord combination on the verse is basically just half-notes down the neck of the guitar (C - B - A# - A - G# - C - G# - G). It takes til the 6th note (C) until they do a change that isn't a halfnote down, then it goes back to the G# and damn if the very last chord change (G) isn't another half step down:-) Sorry to bore you with chords, but this is what makes the mood of this so different. 
I don't really get a Sex feeling from this (even with the moan in the background), but I do get a very Spaced Out or Space Oddity feeling from it. 
It sounds like someone is all alone in space and it's kinda cold, lonely and melancholic all at the same time. 
I find this song very intriguing. It's not a 192bpm spacebass rocker that will be on my iPod constantly, but it's still a very intriguing song with a lot of different parts and I wonder what a finished version would have sounded like. Half note changes aren't that in your face with the guitar just hinting at the bassnotes, but with a real synth bass, X's rhythm guitar out and a lot of other synths and sound fx the half notes would show a lot more. 
Not really sure what to make of the song though... The first time I heard it I didn't think very much of it, to be honest, but as I sit here now trying to imagine what a finished version could be, I like the song a lot more. ... still throwing my money at Say I Love You 1000 Times though:-)
 
 
MISS UNIVERSE
SSS in big shuffle-beat! A fun rock'n'roll song in the vein of Bolan, with X's jumpy riff and a cool fun vocal melody that's perfect for the track.
This is one of the more finished demos we have gotten this far. All the parts are there...even a middle 8th. I wonder when this was written and why it wasn't released anywhere. It would have been perfect on DFE. 
 
 
WHORE OF BABYLON
And here we GOOOOOOOOO! This is without a doubt my absolute favorite of this 4-track round-up! I've had this one on a casette for ages and it's always been one of the best unreleased SSS tracks. Brilliant! This is quite possibly X's best Chuck Berry riff EVER (and he has A LOT of great ones).
The drums and spacebass are classic SSS! 2-chord verse in D and G and then another part of E - F# - G - A and it all goes perfectly with that guitar riff. 
The verse part is classic 2 chord SSS material (21st century boy style), the other part, with the half note step, makes it a little more poppy, but damn would this be brilliant with the right vocal melody....... and it's really all there as the bass and the guitarriff guides the way for the vocals perfectly. It just needs that threatening action painting of 200 color TVs at once and a great title.  
So, this is where I hear the song going:
1. I hear the 2 chord part used for both the verse and the chorus. The vocal melody on the 4 chord part will naturally be more poppy, so by using that as a pre chorus you can put a lot of melody in there without taking away the rock'n'roll feel of the song (which could happen if it was the chorus).
2. Distinguish between verse and chorus in classic SSS style... mainly having the guitarriff playing on top of the chorus, but not on the verse.
3. Maybe have some kinda stop after the chorus part that leads it into the verse again, but might not be nessicary when the guitar riff stops playing. 
4. Use the guitarriff on the pre chorus as well, but not on all of them.
5. I also think it would be great to have the guitarriff start before the bass at the intro, to get the full effect of the bass changing between 2 chords. F.i. start with a movie sample, then drums on top of the sample, then the guitarriff on top of all that and then the bass comes in..... or maybe save the drums til the bass comes in to make sure it's a wall of sound when it really starts. 
6. Make the chorus just the title of the song, a short title, and sing it 4 times with the last cyllable of the title hitting the 1 on the chorus. This to avoid having a too melodic chorus on top of that very melodic guitarriff.  
 
I absolutely LOVE this track and I can't even begin to say how many times I've listened to it, and will keep listening to it. 
Even if it doesn't have vocals, it's just that good. 
I really hope SSS finishes this one day.
And already from the DemoBomb we know they have enough great ideas lying around to make one of the best albums of their career!
chrisdamien

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Posts: 96
 #34 
Very cool blog this week! After a while of the blogs being snapshots and short stories from events, it's cool to read a more conceptual blog again. 
Something that gives more insight into the concept, or rules, of SSS. I guess anyone who has ever been in a band will smile recognizingly when Tony writes about his books of ideas, the importance of titles and all the different places ideas come from. I know I do:-)
And of course the highly conceptual SSS would have a lot of this, but to read it in Tony's own words is still very good and gives a great insight. 
I love that he posted a picture of his book as well! 
 
All the blogs have been great, but I have to admit that I love stuff like this and "the bass sound" and the other blogs that are more like that the most.
Still hoping for that book!... and a new vintage T-shirt soon. The Yana shirt was released on the 30th of January. Where's my Next World War? Star Whores? TV Messiah? etc...
 
 
GHOST HOUSE
Is a rather strange song for SSS. It has a really heavy southern rock kinda guitarriff, which could have been used by any of those groups, or even Led Zepplin. The natural beat of the riff is very slow and screams for a heavy John Bonham rhythm, which wouldn't have been very SSS at all. The riff is in G with the 2 other chords being F and C. SSS reels it in by using the Suicide style 16th note bassdrum instead of a more Zep-like rhythm.  It works like a charm, but it's still far removed from anything we've ever heard from them before... or since. 
 
The vocal melody also goes perfectly with that southern rock feel. Traditionally I am not the biggest fan of the wet techno type synths SSS sometimes use, but for this it works well as it sounds kinda like a mouth-harp which further adds to the sounthern rock feeling. I am left wondering what this tune would have sounded like with a more traditional Spacebass, but I don't think it would work.  The song has a floaty feeling and a hard hitting rockabilly bass would go totally against that and most likely not add anything to the song. I haven't made up my mind about this to be honest. It's a good song (I like a lot of that stuff), with a good lyrical theme and a good melody.... and against all odds, they have kinda made it sounds a little bit Sputnik, but it is still very far removed from my favorite SSS stuff and I can't really see this fitting in on any of their albums. Still cool to hear though!
 
 
ROCKITHEAD
Now this, on the other hand, has real Sputnik potential! Tony writes that they were retreading old ideas with this one and when listening to it, I can hear what he's saying. It doesn't sound like they are very excited about it, but that doesn't mean that the potential for greatness isn't there!:-)
 
Someone posted on the SSS Yahoo board about the bass sound and I have to agree. Tony also wrote about that somewhere on the new site. How easy it was to get just the right sound and feel when using the old drum machine, space eccho and spacebass synth when they were doing those very first First Generation demos. The sound they had on that was fantastic. Hard hitting drums, a solid straight in your face SpaceBass and the analouge effects coming in and out. With the addition of new studio programs and new soft synths for drums and bass some of the punch got lost. And the use of floating acid trancewave filters on the bass is NOT helping. I'm guessing this might have been written around the same time of Blak Elvis and my guess is because they were really into that Suicide drum beat, which is used again here, on that album. BUT, back to the potential of this one! 
 
The first part of the spacebass riff is the same as Buy EMI and this is hard to get passed on the first couple of listens, but once you're passed that you'll notice that this is a very good riff in it's own right. 2 times Buy EMI and then hammering on the A chord, then G - G# and then back to Buy EMI A - D - C riff. It's a very cool riff. The First Generation Spacebass sound would have showcased this riff in all it's glory, which is sadly lost here in the techno sound. The song could also have been bettered by that First Generation drum machine sound, which was so hard and so in your face.  The spacebass riff screams for a drum riff to follow it. Double hits on the snaredrum the 2 first times, a single hit the 3rd time and variation between double and single on the last time. That would accent the D and C in the Buy EMI part with a snaredrum hitting both those chords every time, it would leave a bit of space with the single hit when the bass is playing the longer A and it would sometimes accent the G and G#... like before the start of a new part. 
 
The vocals need a lot more attitude, enthusiasm and agression... like that of Be Bop Electro and of course the same sharp space eccho that was used on that song. There's no guitar on this demo, but again this is one where it would have been easy to add a few great Chuck Berry licks. With a lot of Space Eccho I'm not sure if it would need movie samples, but that always adds something to SSS tracks, so they should probably put some in there.
 
Apart from that the song sounds pretty much done. It has a lot of different parts that are very well glued together and very rock'n'roll and it has a ton of potential.
The Chorus is G - F# - A - A  with the end being a long E chord. That's a little unusal for SSS with the halfnote change between the 2 first chords. 
It's used in a very rock'n'roll way and it works, but I think it would have worked even better without the F# and just slammed on the G a little longer. Since the chorus has the tail with the E chord, there are enough chords there already.
 
The song also has several short break parts. The first is the Beach Boys style harmony part "I'm In Love With The Future Baby" after the second chorus while the bass slams on E. Imagine what that part would have been like with tons of Space eccho... MAGIC!
There's a longer middle eight after the third chorus and that one I REALLY like as it just has different parts that glide into eachother and fit so well together. 
It starts with repeating the last line, and last chords, of the chorus 2 times before it goes to a D.... a note that hasn't been used as a root note in this song yet and breaks it up very nicely. 2 bars on D and 2 bars on A with a cool rock'n'roll vocal melody and then it glides perfectly into the I'm In Love With... break from after the 2nd chorus. The last chorus also ends perfectly with the last line repeated several times in true rock'n'roll style. 
 
All in all this is a very good demo and has great potential! Can it be as good as 21st Century Boy? Probably not, but it can still be a great song. I know the feeling of retreading old ground can sometimes take away the magic of a song while writing it, and if you're not excited about what you've just been writing, nothing's gonna happen with it..... at that point...... but sometimes when revisiting demos of songs like that, you realize you were onto something great. One of my old bands most popular later songs was like that and I can only say that I am VERY happy that I revisited the demo and heard the potential... we can only hope SSS feels the same about this.
 
Unregistered
 #35 
gotta say just how good neal x guitar work is stun guitar is superb on every track ive heard on the demosmr x you rock love to see you and toney get out there live and do some gigs rememberhow good the trill would be to get on stage with jenny and show the fanshow you rock it live in 2013.
chrisdamien

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Posts: 96
 #36 
X is a very inventive guitarplayer indeed. He has more brilliant variations on the Chbuck Berry riff, than Chuck Berry would ever be able to dream up.

I'm not sure I dare to hope for a reunion anymore. When the new Sputnikworld was first launched I had a feeling it was all part of some build up to a big reunion, but now I'm not so sure anymore. 
Still hoping though, but if they do a reunion I hope it's a full band reunion. 
The drum machine reunion of the millennium was cool and a first chance for many of us to see the band "live," but if they reunite again it HAS to be with real drums and preferably a big production.
chrisdamien

Registered:
Posts: 96
 #37 
This week's blog is all about Yana YaYa and what a cool read it is!
Nice to hear Yana get some credit and read about how it all came about with her in the group. 
Would be fun to hear her comment on the blog too. 
 
The way SSS was a 5-piece band with a 6th member on stage was genious. Not being the singer, Yana would of course never be like all the female singers who always seem to be the only "interessting" member of a group, but it would still somehow ruin a bit of the sci-fi street gang feel of the band with a girl member.
Somehow it all becomes a bit more nice, a bit more hippie, a bit less sexy and a bit more introspective with mixed sexes in bands.
Mamas & The Papas, Kelly Family, Abba etc... Some of them might have good songs, but the in your face element is a little lost and one can't help wondering which members are banging. The groups become more like a closed circuit and less like a bomb.
 
So there you had Yana, looking brilliant and fitting in perfectly, obviously the 6th member, but she was running the sound effects and not part of the band.
In reality this also added to the mystique of SSS. Now you see her, now you don't.
 
 
RUBBERHEAD (Bass + Electro)
We get more vintage SSS this week. 2 versions, one pre spacebass and one with spacebass. 
With this track it's very easy to hear the Alan Vega influence. It sounds almost like it could have been a track from his first album.
 
The SSS sound is developing. The song has the SSS drum beat, a spacebassriff, Chuck Berry guitar and crazy dub effects that work really well. 
The element it lacks, is the 50's rock'n'roll chord structure and tune. 
The bass version just has that one bassriff in A the whole song through, while they Electro version changes to a D towards the end, without the vocals or guitar really doing anything with the chord change. Rubberhead is a good title and the lyrics seem to have several cool snippets in there. 
Kudos should also be given  for doing so much with the vocal melody. You don't get anything for "free" with the vocals when there are no chord changes. 
 
SSS made me check out both Suicide and some of Alan Vega's solo stuff. I have grown quite fond of some of it and, like I started with, this song would have fit perfectly on Alan Vega's first solo album, but I am really happy SSS worked more and landed on the sound we all know and love, cause that blows it all away. Listen to Jayne Mansfield, Sex Bomb Boogie or M.A.D. and hear everything they managed to get out of 2 chords with those songs. 
Cool rock'n'roll vocals and the hypnotic groove that just goes on and on... and on...  and then the intense release when there is a chord change. 
Still very cool to hear this early stuff though and I am quite surprised at how good this demo sounds. All the elements sound great and the dub effects are bat shite crazy. 
 
Can't wait til next Monday and hope there will soon be a new vintage t-shirt released as well. 
chrisdamien

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Posts: 96
 #38 
We're getting close to the end of the DemoBomb, unfortunately. 5 weeks and 9 tracks left to go... unless Tony finds something more.
I hope he does, as there are a lot more than 9 songtitles out there of supposedly SSS songs I have never heard. 
Crossing fingers!
 
5 weeks means we're down to the last 5 blogs as well. All of them have been great so far and plenty of info in both the history and discography sections of the new site, but what are you hoping he'll write about in the last 5 blogs? I know I'd just like more of all of it, really, and that's why Tony needs to do that book.
 
One thing I'd love to hear more about is the sound effects from movies and also the voicesamples they recorded themselves. 
We know where it came from, we know the idea, but since SSS used so much of it on their records it would be cool to hear everything from how they found them to how they physically synched them with the recordings in those days. Did they watch movies with notebooks and a timer, to get the best lines? How was the synching done, or didn't they care too much about that? I am old enough to have recorded a few things before Cubase and computers were standard in all studios and I remember on the first 7" my old band Trashcan Darlings ever did, I Just Wanna Die (On A Chemical High), I, inspired by SSS, managed to talk the boys into putting a "Real horrorshow, initiative come to those who wait" sample from Clockwork Orange on there and boy did I have fun trying to get that exactly right. Nowadays you'd just digitalize it (as in record it to your studio program), cut it so that only the piece you want is there and move the sequence on the computer to fit the beat..... Back then, the mid 90's for me... We had a VHS player hooked up to one of the tracks on the mixing console. I had my Clockwork Orange VHS stuck in the machine, forwarded to the right point using the timer on the VHS player, the studio tech would play back our song and I would have to press play at the exact right moment to record the sound... of course the blasted old VHS player had a delay from when you pressed play, til it actually started, so I had to work that into the equation as well.... and all the drugs definitely didn't help, but after a few goes we nailed it, listened back to it, it sounded great and that's what is on that recording. Luckily I managed to start the player at the start of the line, which meant we didn't have to cut anything at the beginning of the sample, which was hard with those tape machines as you stood the risk of cutting the part you wanted as well. We just cut a bit at the end.
Now this was the mid 90's..... Granted SSS were in an expensive studio doing Flaunt It, but that was the mid 80's. I wonder if they went through the same stuff for every little thing they put on there and I hope Tony adresses it, as it's such an important part of the SSS sound. 
 
I also hope he gives a little insight into the voices they used that weren't from movies. We all know the deep movie trailer voice was from Tony's friend who did all the trailers for those kinda movies in the UK RIP, but what about the other voices? What about those extremely dreamlit voices on the album version of Dancerama f.i.? Did he/they just happen to know all the right people and invited them to the studio, was he recording everything everywhere and if so... how many tapes of stuff did he have in the end?...... or had he worked out what lines he wanted for certain songs and went around looking for people to speak those lines?  Tony has been kind enough to share some info about this with me in the past, but it would be cool to know more and read it in a blog. 
 
I'd also like to know more about the clothes and style of the band. I know that would probably be better coming from Yana and Martin, those being the designers and having the look before the band, but would still be cool to hear Tony write about it. I have found pre-SSS pictures, and even early SSS pics of Martin and he's definitely got his own style there as well, but it seems something happened when he finally emerged with the orange and black mohawk, the fishnet mask and the chopped up leopard coat. The slight new romantic thing was all gone and Mad Max 2 was in. How did that all evolve and come together?
 
Also I'd like to hear about the songwriting. We have gotten insight into this hearing the demos and reading some of the blogs, but it would be good to hear more. 
How did the dynamics of the contributors change over time? Who worked on what? Etc... To me that stuff is always the most interessting with any group as the songs are the main reason I like something in the first place. Everything else is just icing on the space-cake. From what I have been able to string together out of Tony's blogs and other info, it seems like in the beginning Tony had rough scetches of concepts and titles and was way busy trying to get the business part of the band running, while songwriting was left to Neal and Martin. They had the sound of the Terminator drums, the spacebass and Neal would play Chuck Berry licks with no chords over 2 and 3 chord rockabilly combinations. And if I remember correctly Martin was the one that usually came up with the tune... not sure what that means.... if it's the vocal melody or also the chord changes? Let's say the 2 of them did the chord changes together, Martin came up with the vocal melody, Neal came up with all the guitarriffs, Martin and Tony would sometimes write the lyrics together... sometimes just one of them and Tony would be heavily involved in the samples, as would Neal. As time went on they started more jamming out songs from chord sequences all 3 of them together and Tony also got more invloved in it? ... I might be way off on all of this last part here. I'm just thinking out loud and that's why I wanna hear more about it. 
 
Tony hasn't been taking any requests about his blogs and for all I know they might all be written already and he might not be reading my thread anyway, but if he does.... what would YOU like to hear more about in the last 5 blogs to come?
 
This week's blog is all about design and again it's one of those blogs where I wish he would have had the time to go through the whole backcataloge and talk about all the ideas for all the covers, where stuff came from and all that... Book writing? ;-)
But what we do get is absolutely brilliant! The Love Missile cover is one of the most iconic covers SSS ever and I bet there are more than a few of us out there who have tried/are still trying to buy all the different versions:-) The SSS star logo is such an eye catcher and the printed on and wrapped around OBI strips are a fantastic idea. Sputnik were so ahead of the game with this. You make different versions of a release because you want your fans to buy more than one copy and hence sell more. This was already quite common in the 80's with 12" singles, 7" singles, picture discs and sometimes shaped picture discs, but no one took it to complete overkill that SSS did... At least not until CD sales started to plummit around '00 and bands would do the same with their albums. There is, however a Q-point to this, because there is a limit to how many versions a fan will buy. If you are a completist a band can push your envelope a little bit and you might buy 1 or 2 versions more than you normally would to get them all, but if the market is saturated with different versions, it'll be too expensive to get them all and you might just buy one or none at all... since you can't get all of them anyway, there's no use trying, right?
Sputnik pushed that through the roof, but you have to respect the band for doing it too. I'm not sure if there is an official guinnes record anywhere, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Love Missile 12" would be in there for most different versions of the same single. I'm hoping Tony some day will list all the different versions, but somehow I don't think even he has a complete list.
 
The 21st Century Boy cover I am not that keen on. It looks great too, but somehow it falls a bit behind the other 3 single covers from that album.
Maybe it's because the TV screens come across as a little small on there?
I don't know, but I prefer the remix versions where the background is black... and since I never buy white t-shirts I am happy so many of their remix singles had black background. 
 
My all time favorite SSS cover is the first edition of First Generation. I think that really captures the essence of SSS. 
It looks like an actionscene from a great sci-fi movie and I love that they used a picture of themselves on there. 
A band looking as great as SSS should allow themselves to be on a few covers too!:-)
 
Also fun to read how Tony did the logo. That sets me, and I am sure a lot of you, back to the time when we'd get bowls from the kitchen to make logos just like that. I could never draw as well as Tony did with that logo, so I always had to have other people do it, but luckily by the time I started most of my scetches could easily be set up by someone with knowledge of Photoshop, indesign, Illustrator and all those other programs people use. 
Still I remember, and still do, delivering handdrawn scetches to designers with notes when we do a cover or a T-shirt, so there's "knowingly" smiles all around when reading about Tony's exploits.
 
I never knew who Saatchi was until a few blogs ago and that is something that has sparked an interest as a fan.
Also if anyone has, and can scan, the Design Week article Tony is writing about, that would be very cool to read.
 
SEX BOMB BOOGIE (SPUTSTYLE)
As stated on Sputnikworld, Neal X went to LA a week early to work with Moroder on the programming of the backingtracks for Flaunt It.
That would be drums and spacebass. Once that was done they recorded guitars and vocals and put the space eccho where it was supposed to go and there you had the rough recording of the track. Then Moroder, undoubtely with supervision from the boys, would put moviesamples, precussion, sound effects and other stuff on there until the rough "Sputnik live" recordings, became the Flaunt It versions. Sometimes that worked out brilliantly, sometimes he tried too hard to make a song sound different from the others and lost what the band liked about it. Sex Bomb Boogie is one of the tracks were the finished albumversion is almost identical to the first programmed version. I tried to synch the 2 recordings to hear if I could spot any major differences, but since this is a tapetransffer, the synch goes off ever so often and it's hard, but the only difference I really hear is that the end of this version is longer... meaning that the same part is repeated more times. Apart from that it seems all the vocals, guitars and effects for those are exactly the same on both versions. Sex Bomb Boogie is also one of the songs where Moroder stayed true to the original, so the spacebass and drum programming is intact without any precussive elements in there either. It's also one of the songs on Flaunt It where, at least the album version, is free from movie samples or other voices. 
So there's really not a lot of difference from Sputstyle to Moroder-style here. Still fun to hear though and another thing that was fun to hear was the Moroder show on BBC2 radio earlier this week. Of course the piece on SSS was way too short, but from what he said you really got the feeling that he had fun working with them and fond memories of it. Tony spoke a few times on the show as well and it was avery good listen. Should be mandatory for all SSS fans. 
 
This version of Sex Bomb Boogie was pulled from Soundcloud due to some automatic copyright thing, so if you didn't manage to get it in the short time it was there you can try this link: http://www.sendspace.com/file/sruk0c
 
 
SHE'S MY MAN
This was not originally a part of the DemoBomb and a version that was new to Tony as well. Where Love Missile, 21st Century Boy and Sex Bomb Boogie stayed true to the originals through the Moroder process, Rockit Miss USA, Teenage Thunder and She's My Man did not. All of them have almost completely removed the spacebass and exchanged it for other things to make them sound different. Rockit Miss USA survived the process and came out as one of the album's best tracks (even if the Death Wish 4 mix with proper spacebass is better), but Teenage Thunder and She's My Man both came out worse and ended up being the 2 weakest tracks on the album. Not bad songs at all, as the standard of Flaunt It is so high, but still "lesser" songs than the rest of the album. 
The main difference on both of them is that the driving spacebass is exchanged for "funkier" basslines with a lot of space between the notes. This does somehow work on the album, maybe because we're so used to it by now (?), but the true SSS sound is that driving spacebass and there is no doubt that the songs are better with it. So this is without a doubt the real treat of this week's DemoBomb. Also worth noticing is that this mix is completely out of this world crazy. The phone ringing and beat cutting out so early in the song. I guess the only mix crazier than this is the Horses mix of 21st Century Boy, but you can hear that boarderline insanity in there with this one too. Also worth a mention is that this has the same one-note-at-a-time type of guitar riff that Sex Bomb Boogie has during the chorus, rather than the 2-notes-at-the-time Chuck Berry riffs that X usually does. Listening to this now I almost can't believe that it was never released. First off it's the tremendous bonus of the intact spacebass, which makes the song vastly different from the Flaunt It version and then it's the factor that the mix is so crazy... and it all WORKS perfectly. This would have been a very good B-side and would definitley have lifted the 12" that came with Flaunt It to new hights! Personally I must admit that I still think, even with this superior version, that She's My Man isn't as good as Love Missle, 21st Century Boy, Sex Bomb Boogie or Rockit Miss USA, but it's starting to sound as good as Massive Retaliation and Atari Baby which is cool... and, again, the whole album is great, so we are distinguishing between Gold and Diamonds here!
 
 
... I guess everyone is getting tired of me going on about this by now, but did anyone else notice that Tony mentioned the T-shirt designs again in his blog this week?;-) I don't dare to wish too hard, but I do hope it means that the next vintage shirt is on the way. It's about time, that's for sure and maybe we get more than one this time too.
 
Just a few days 'til next DemoBomb Monday! :-)
chrisdamien

Registered:
Posts: 96
 #39 
At first read this week's blog seemed a little "rushed" compared to most of the others, but after a few reads I like it. 
 
No doubt being without a manager was a major strain on Tony and the band. It's one thing when you're starting out, writing songs, doing shows and working on the vision... it's a completely different game, I can only imagine, when that major record deal is in place, money start rolling in and there are too many decicions to be made, too many phonecalls, too much of everything... and you're doing it all by yourself. 
 
Still it's easy to understand Tony's decicion. He'd been badly burnt by managers in Generation X and was probably a little too cautions about getting into that situation again. He had also been in a quite successful band that released 3 albums and must have had a heep of industry and media connections from that. Also his former singer was starting to emerge as the most successful punk of all time, which would probably rub off a little extra interesst in the other key members of the group... if they did it right. Tony obviously had both the ideas, the connections and the know-how to do it by himself and when you look at all the things SSS accomplished in such a short time... well, it's amazing really, that one of the guys in the band was the manager. 
Hats off to Tony! A brilliant job!
 
The gross money deal managers have is a "great train robbery" any way you look at it. 
Of course the manager's job is to make sure you make more money than you would without him and 80% minus expences of something is more than 100% of nothing, but still... Say you get a record deal with a huge advance and part of that is supposed to be put towards the recording of the album.... wouldn't it make more sense that the album is paid for first and everyone gets their share afterwards? Of course it would! Sure that can lead to discussions about what expenses to include in "making the album," but have those discussions, agree on something and take the 20% afterwards. 
 
Then it's the type of management you pick. If you pick the big corporate firms that Tony went to lunch with, chances are bigger that they don't care about you and sign you up for things your band shouldn't be doing, just to make fast cash. I would guess the key t5o make this work is to have your lawyer, and SSS had a great one I am lead to believe, look over and make adjustments to the deal to make it as watertight as possible for the artist. If you can make the management see you as a long-term investment and you somehow get "artistic freedom/control" in there, it might be possible to both make great money and have a long career. Afterall, these types usually have all the right connections, pull in the business and can really make things happen for you. You just have to have some way of making sure that the right things are happening. I somehow doubt SSS would be cheated if Tony and their lawyer worked hard enough on it, but once you've been burnt it's hard to go back.
 
The other option is to have a friend, or similar, as a manager. Chances are much bigger that he/she will love you and try to do what's best for the group, the members and the vision, but does he have the connections? Can he make things happen, and go away, fast enough? Does he have a reputation so people take him seriously? Is he used to negotiating the really big money? ... some are and some learn fast, but it's hit and miss with this too, and the situation you definitely don't want is where one of the band is better at all this than the manager. I have some experience with this type of manager and let me tell you... paying 20% out of money you did all the work to get to a "manager" is one of the worst things. 
 
...OH! and I am NOT saying Tony's friend, Boomtown Rats manager, is either of these type of managers. I am just outlining both sides of the scale. 
 
So, what could have been different for SSS with a manager? A lot! They could have been screwed out of everything, but let's say for a second that they got a great management, what could have been different?
 
Well, for one I think it would have given Tony a lot more time and energy to work even harder on the artistic side of SSS through the meteoric rise and be "one of the band." That's usually the first thing that happens with me, when there's too much business going on... I can't find the time to do the stuff I really should be doing...writing songs etc. I don't know if it would have made a difference, but it might be that if the songs just kept coming all through the rise, maybe DFE wouldn't have been so different to the first album... at least there would have been more songs to choose from.
 
They would also have someone to sort out all the problems business/mediawise. Giving interviews and coming up with cool quotes are fun when it's all going well, but what about when radio isn't playing your record? What about when the tide is turning and media just wants to stab you in the back? What about the career planning of starting on the album quickly so it can capitalize on the success of the single...pulling all the strings and making sure things go according to plan while the artists are busy promoting themselves? What when your producer has taken it upon himself to make "each track sound different" and made versions of a few songs that the band don't like?
 
A manager with some pull and business connections could do wonders with most of this. Not only cause he would have time to do it and be paid, but also because it's so much easier to get things sorted out when you are not "in the band." When you are one of the band you have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously and people will also act differently towards you. You are "the enemy" or whatever, whereas a manager is the perfect go-between and also the one both parties can blame when something goes wrong without causing too much damage to the brand name. 
 
The other thing Tony touches upon is of to keep the bandmembers in place. A manager can make sure bad ideas don't go through. Hindsight is always 20-20 and SSS did marvellous by themselves, but just imagine if someone sat them down every once in a while and really talked through some of the ideas that weren't so good. Being the "$6mill band that can't play" is a good headline and gets you press attention, but as with the Pistols almost a decade earlier, a statement like that is gonna hurt you for the rest of your life. Tony could have sold exactly the same vision and  gotten exactly the same by talking up the songs instead. The ones who didn't get it would still write bad reviews, but they wouldn't be alienating their potential audience. A band that can't play and don't care about music... what frame of mind does that leave you in the first time you hear them? Either "Oh, this is rubbish and that's what they said it would be, cause they don't care about it..... music is just toy town, they really wanna be in real estate," or "I really like this, but the band says they don't care about it. Am I stupid for finding this exciting? Are the band laughing at me for loving them?" This is the same all over the world, but especially the American market is not gonna fall for it if you "can't play" and "don't care about music"...... and keep in mind, most people don't really hear the difference. 
They repeat what they've been told.
 
Fleece The World is another one that Tony touched upon on the site. It's good as long as you are fleecing the record company (the corporate bad guys - everyones enemy), but ultimately the record company is just putting up the advance. The product they put out is bought by the fans and let's face it....Fleece The World applies to anyone who spends money on it.
Maybe a manager would also have gotten to Martin before he "hated all women, especially fat ones," or at least sat them all down for a meeting afterwards setting the record straight? A brilliant manager could also have ironed out some of the internal troubles that were happening between the members, taken the bull by the horns and kept them friends and good workingpartners for as long as possible. 
 
Hindsight is always 20-20 and it's easy for anyone to sit all these years later and play the "what if..." game with some of the stuff that history has told us hurt Sputnik... But a manager could maybe have been that fresh set of eyes in real time. If he was the right manager. The one who'd watch the money and think longlivety while Tony and the boys spent their time being a band and coming up with crazy ideas that the manager could filter. Who knows?
 
I guess when I first read this week's blog this is some of the stuff I felt was missing. I was hoping Tony would let himself play "what if" game both ways and explained it all a bit more, but when reading the blog again and putting it in connection to the stuff he's already put in the history section and other blogs... it really is all there.
 
Another extended blog comment this week. Sorry about that! 
 
 
MAD WOMAN 
I was never a Prince fan, but seeing this title on something Sputnik years ago made me check out the song and the Prince song is actually really good. 
I can understand why SSS picked it. It has that 50's rock'n'roll chord combiabntion of C - G - F - F and good lyrics. The vocal melody is jumpy and harmonizes so well with those chords and the tail of F - G# - E - D - G leading up to the title is a little unusual, but still sounds perfect as it is. The song is a perfect DFE era SSS song just waiting to happen... originally I thought I'd heard a version like that by SSS, but couldn't find it for comparison. Anyone know if it's out there? 
 
This version I just don't get. It's like they took out nearly all the good parts and the only recognicable parts left are the lyrics, a bit of the vocal melody and the highpitched guitarrriff. The bassriff they use here sounds like it could have been from Pirate Space. It's not a bad riff, but it's not the SSS I love either...even if I do like several songs of Pirate Space. Since they don't do the chord changes on the verse, the vocal melody loses a lot and the tail chords sound almost disharmonic...especially the E, without those verse chords. It's still the team of Neal, Tony & Martin, but when bands stray this far away from their sound, you kinda wish they'd use another bandname. It does grow though, so might be I like it more next week, but the song is just screaming for a DFE rockabilly SSS version. Terminator drums, rockabilly spacebass, Neal's brilliant guitartone playing the riff that sounds like synth on the Prince version. They could have blown Prince out of the sky with this! 
 
 
PLACE YOUR MAN
This doesn't sound like classic Sputnik either, but even with the jungledrums, this version is still a lot more SSS than the other one. 
They kept the chords during the verse which makes the vocals less hesitant and much cooler, the Suicide style 8th note bassdrum is there in the background and some of the spacey techno sounds work really well both for the song and SSS in general. Sputnik was doing something fresh around the time of the reunion. Reinventing themselves, incorporating the latest technology and latest styles of music and moving away from the minimalts terminator groove of the early day. I respect them for doing it and I still listen to a few songs from Pirate Space every now and then, but I must admit to being really happy when Ultra Real came out and the spacebass was back.
Unregistered
 #40 
I'm sorry, but SSS could NEVER blow Prince out of the sky with anything. The man is God. Love SSS but lets not go over the top!!!
chrisdamien

Registered:
Posts: 96
 #41 
Whoops! I offended a Prince fan;-)

As stated above I am not a fan. He has some good songs and he's a great guitarist, but for the most part I think his music is way overrated. I Could Never... is a very good song, but to someone like me it wouldn't take much to top the original.

If SSS kept the chords, the vocal melody, the tempo and most of the songstructure, added a driving Eddie Cochran spacebass riff and terminator drums it would already be a vast improvement (you know... like the groove of Supercrook Blues with the Love Missile 12" production).

- I find the synth sound on the melodyriff of the original a little cheesy and much preffer the great guitartone Neal uses for it. 
- The distortion guitar and floor-tom part ("Asked me if she wanted to dance...) is a bit out of place. I like that he adds more power there, but to me that doesn't work perfectly. SSS could have built up this in another way and made it float together more seamlessly .
- The part where the synth melody is on top of the vocals ("I said baby don't waste your time...") doesn't work for me either. I think that build up is way cheesy.
- + the break in the verse lines would be perfect for space eccho vocals!

So, as you see, I think SSS could have blown Prince out of the sky with this one;-)
chrisdamien

Registered:
Posts: 96
 #42 
This week's blog might be the best one yet! 

Somehow I can't believe Tony didn't go into detail about this before, as it's such a huge part of the SSS sound and he obviously spent so much time on it.
When I first got into SSS I didn't think much of it. The voices were just there, kinda. Then, after reading more about them, I started wondering...
There was always talk of trailers and the movies they were into and for the longest time I thought SSS did this at rehearsals. 
It's always written that they would watch movies before they rehearsed or wrote songs to set them in the mood and I imagined them all sitting there with notebooks writing down lines. But there are simply too many quotes for it to be a few movies before rehearsals. Tony was definitely fanatical about it and what great use he found for it too! 

The way this week's blog gives us insight into the evolution of Tony's interest is also brilliant. 
First just an interesst in Trailers and seeing those as the hit singles of the movies. (A GREAT metaphore! How many times did you see a brilliant trailer and just HAD to watch the movie.... only to find it was crap?... I know I did that A LOT. Not unlike a lot of albums with one great single.)
Then the Clash influence and SSS Demo Video and then the record-button addiction once he realized he could use it all in songs. 
I'm smiling to myself thinking of the internal fights Tony must have had with himself when weighing up whether he wanted to keep the soundquality, or organize the quotes yet again on other tapes for easier access:-)

I knew the part about the taperecorder after the movie samples got too much wrong attention and I can just picture that as well... don't know if it ever happened, but imagine Tony sitting in a restaurant and suddenly finding that the waiter has a good voice and then talk him into saying something from Tony's red book into the recorder. Can you imagine that? I'm sure it happened:-) ... and a lot of those voices were brilliant too "Who are yooouuu?" "I'll make your wildest dreams come true." Fantastic!

The movie voices were special and I am glad they went back to that later, when the major lable deal was done and the risk of getting a hit and sued wasn't that big anymore. The American Love Missile 12" can never hold it's own next to the UK one!

Being a fan you know that special feeling when you watch a movie and all of a sudden it's there... the SSS quote. It's almost like the movie stops for a few seconds and it's pure Sputnikworld, and if you can't remember exactly which song it's from you can bet your ass that the movie will either be paused or you'll be digging through tracks later trying to find the song it's used for. If you're watching the movie with someone, there is no chance the quote goes by without you finishing it and explaining to your girlfriend..... for the millionth time...." That's the line SSS used in this or that song."

Sigue Sigue Sputnik are the undisputed KINGS of movie-style quotes in songs. No doubt about it. Tony's vast cataloge of suitable quotes was essential, but the other essential thing was the production. All those quotes blend in so well and so not-well with the SSS songs. The mimimalist terminator grooves and the long spaces between vocal lines are perfect for it. Sometimes the sounds blend in like it's almost a background thing, but most of the time they, like a movie trailer, overpower the whole thing and almost kicks the song off beat. Some of those effects and quotes might be a bit annoying upon first listen, but usually, at least to me, they end up being my favorite parts. Like that one drum-fill, guitarlick, backing vocal emphasis on the coolest 2 words in a verse or that one magical lead vocal melody decent that you look forward to in more conventional songs... And when you play SSS to someone who's never heard 'em before, those are the parts you make sure they listen to, because you know if they "get" that, they will get everything. Of course people don't usually "get" those parts at first, but they might still be sucked in by your enthusiasm of something that is totally alien and weird to them... I'm sure every SSS fan has those moments.

As far as "lame copy of sputnik genius" I'm not sure I get what Tony is saying there. I can't come up with any other band that sounds like SSS, although myself and a lot of others have stolen bits from them over the years... Just like SSS stole the best parts of Suicide, Marc Bolan, Eddie Cochran and a lot of their other influences that Tony is speaking candidly about on the site. It's usually not about what you steal, it's about what you do with it and what other influences and original ideas you blend it with. Everything is based on, and draw influences, from something that happened before, but SSS is one of the proofs that, even with a vast amount of "stolen goods," you can still create something great if you mix enough ideas in there. A few weeks ago I started on a mental list of the things I have stolen from SSS and used for my various bands over the years. I might put it in writing and post it at some point. It's not as much as one might think and I always made sure the ideas I took were great and was never shy about citing my influences in interviews when asked. Most of the stuff is suttle, but the one that definitely isn't is "Trailer: History Is About To Begin" which is the intro for SUiCiDE BOMBERS debut album. 
Does anyone know of other bands who have taken anything from SSS, especially SFX and voices? 
Might be great bands out there I have yet to hear! 

Ultra Violence is one of the most underrated SSS tracks ever. 
When I bought the First Generation album I remember being a bit confused at it. Reading the titles and staring at the cover while listening, and the song being almost at the end, I thought a song with a title like that had to be a really hard rocker. How wrong I was. I know there are other versions of it posted in the DemoBomb, naturally since the First Generation version has been officially released, but bare with me while I go through the ultimate version of it and then I'll do this weeks DemoBomb afterwards. (you might wanna put on the record while reading)

ULTRA VIOLENCE (F1rst Generation)
The track starts off with nice ballady piano over the classic chord progression of C - G - Am - F (the chord progression that's probably been used for the most hits in music history!). The cool movietrailer voiceover sets the mood. This is Clockwork Orange 2! 
Then the lovely girl voices singing Violence (in perfect harmony and the secondtime). That hard word and those sweet voices don't fit together at all and it creates a bit of an uneasy feeling. Clockwork Orange 2!  Then the mezmerizing vocal melody starts and those lyrics!!!
Might be, as stated on the site, that SSS lost a little track of the lyrical vision around the time of the second album. The 200 color TV action paintings were sometimes a little gone, but here they are back and multiplied. The mutated Bowie rip off first line that just spins into the fantacy painting of space, cold war and all the other stuff SSS mixed so well in their lyrics without any of it ever making any sense. PERFECT!

The Suicide bassdrum starts midway through the verse and you are almost certain that this is another Atari Baby, and a good one at that.
The first chorus builds up with a bass drum and then... the snare starts and you get an uptempo...hmmm..... not rocker, but not ballad either before the second verse. I always love it when the snare drum comes in. What a release! It's fun to pay attention to how the bassdrum all of a sudden makes perfect sense one kick - two kicks - one kick - one kick and it gets a totally different character when the snare starts. The snare doing one hit all the time except for the last time on every round when there are two hits... a great drum riff! Perfect terminator!

The song goes on, the same chord progression and the same beat, but there is still always something new to pay attention to. 
The first verse was before the beat, the first chorus with just a bassdrumbeat and the second verse is with the full beat. 
The female voices start apperaing again just before the second chorus and sing great harmony vocals with Martin on the chorus. Another arrangement build up is Neal's guitarriff that lifts the second chorus a lot and also paves the way for a wonderfully melodic guitarsolo.... still on the same chords... If you really pay close attention you will also notice a few tom tom hits on the drums just as the guitarsolo starts, but rather than to just use these as a drumfill before the solo, they are added to the beat and repeated at the end of every round (the F) from there on. The third verse is full on with Neal's guitarriff from the second chorus and the tom toms and it's time to get worried. There might not be a lot more SSS can put in there to lift the third chorus any further than the third verse already is... unless they wanna use a complete choir, so in totally off the wall fashion they decide to add a middle eight when the song has already run for nearly 4 and a half minutes and that's the first and only time the chord progression changes: 
Dm - G - C - F - 
C - F - C - F - 
G - G - G - G - 
(I'm having a bad "ear day," might be it's a D and not a minor)

Then the absolutely brilliant line of "The evolution will be televised," which was also used as a slogan for the albumcover. The middle eight would have been great with just the chord change, the break in song structure and the vocal melody, but those lyrics lift it to become a highpoint of the song. The Toms are taken away from the middle eight and only added at the end of it again. Neal plays chords under it which should be noticed as he very rarely does that.

Then the ultimate breakdown... back to the original chord progression and the chorus. Full focus on Martin and the wonderful female backing vocals. 
It seems the full drumbeat will go on for this part, but halfway through the second chord the snare cuts in the perfect place together with the hi-hat that has been going since the beginning of the song. Leaving only the vocals, bassdrum, bass and a synth before the snaredrum's triumphant return at the end of the second round. You just know we're gonna be in for the ultimate build up as well. 
These elements play the chorus for another two rounds. 
For the next two rounds the hi-hat enters again and you get a wonderful outro solo by Neal and those paying attention will notice that the Tom's are back as well. 
This continues for the last 4 rounds, while the female backing vocals sing that wonderfully melodic "Runaway Runaway.... Boy" line and Martin's vocals dissapear. Fade out on the fourth round and there you have it! Not a classic rockabilly spacebass tune, but still one of the best hidden gems in the SSS cataloge that deserves so much more attention that it got. 

IMO SSS were good at ballady type songs, but this is quite possibly the best they ever did. It's miles better than Atari Baby and most of the time I'd even rate it higher than Dancerama.

So why am I taking the time to lead you through the finished version of Ultra Violence? Because I think you should all go back and relisten if you haven't already discovered it. Remember: What you are listening to is 5:44 of the exact same chord progression over and over (except for the middle eight) and still it's just so complete. Just so brilliant in the way it's arranged!

Now let's get to the DemoBomb songs!
 
ULTRA VIOLENCE (Demo version)
The first thing that hits you when hearing this version is how much it sounds like Dancerama '86. Either this type of synth pad and the Suicide bassdrum is an SSS pre-set for demoing slower songs, or maybe Ultra Violence was written around that time? That would explain the first album style lyrics. 
During the first vocal part it sounds almost like a reggae band. The piano riff from the finished version is done with more of a pan-pipe synth sound here and enters the track later. This rough demo obviously lack a lot of the arrangement finess of the finished version, but if you really listen it's amazing to hear how much of the finished version is already here. The piano riff, the suicide bassdrum, the chord sequence and the synth pad are the obvious ones, but like the finished version this also stops before the end. It has the same Runaway Boys end (omitting the female vocals) and I'm sure there are a lot of things I have yet to notice too. 
 
ULTRA VIOLENCE (Alternate version)
The sound quality of this is not as good as on the other version, probably due to the tape transfer. All in all it's very similar to the Demo Version, but there are small additions which makes it obvious that this is a later version. The backing vocals on the chorus is one and the synth lead melody at the end is another. Overall it sounds a little tigther and a little less "jammy."
 
I love both these versions! Both have a lot of spark and it's cool to hear the genesis of this brilliant song. These rough versions have the SSS stamp all over them, but I am glad SSS worked more in it and gave us the gemm we got on First Generation. If it was written around the same time as Dancerama I can understand why they went with Dancerama for the B-side of Sex Bomb Boogie. Somehow it works better in this rough state... and even if Dancerama '86 lacks the finess of the finished version, I always preffer the way the '86 version was arranged. The way more and more elements enters the mix at exactly the right time and makes the song bigger and bigger. 
 
If SSS ever reunite Ultra Violence is one of the songs I hope they'll do. 
sputnik
 #43 
jesus chris u need to get out more.........blog blog blog.......... mate, 
chrisdamien

Registered:
Posts: 96
 #44 
Hahaha... I'm not forcing you to read it, mate
Unregistered
 #45 
Keep it up Chris.

How many tracks should we be upto by now ?
I've downloaded 39 !
Been away from the computer for a few weeks.
Got a feeling I might have missed out on one or two.

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