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Audio-CD, Box-Set, 1. Juni 2012
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Today, in the wake of of the whole techno, trip-hop and electronica revolution, it's almost standard for bands to comprise a pair of faceless technocrats, making the sort of sounds whose breadth and colour exceeds the imagination of most traditional guitar bands. Back in the early Eighties, however, such outfits were thin on the ground.
Colourbox emerged from the diverse mix of musical cultures that formed the post-punk era, inevitably incorporating synthpop, indie, reggae, dub, soul and funk. They were dance pioneers in the pre-sampling era, where effects were painstakingly assembled in the studio, and from 1982 to 1986 they created an eclectic body of work incorporating their influences but imploded after the collaboration as M/A/R/R/S, on Pump Up The Volume, went to No.1 - making them the only number one-hit wonders that never bothered to release a follow-up recording.
To celebrate their 30th anniversary, 4AD release the ultimate Colourbox compilation, a 4 CD box set of all their officially released studio recordings and mixes, which has been sequenced by Martyn Young.
CD1 is the 1985 album, Colourbox, and includes all the tracks from the free album that was included with the original 10,000 LPs. The second disc is the 7" singles and the third is the 12" mixes. The final disc has the 4 track mini-album, Colourbox, an unreleased early mix of Arena and eight tracks recorded in session for the BBC.
BREAKDOWN, die erste Maxi Anfang der 80er, stand sofort in meiner Sammlung. Danach folgten alle weiteren Veröffentlichungen im 12"inch Format inklusive der Alben. Die 7"inches gab es leider nicht im Plattenladen meines Vertrauens.
Aber jetzt, in dieser Box, endlich, in feinster digitaler Qualität. Alles was die Jungs jemals auf Vinyl veröffentlichten ist in der Box enthalten und noch ein bisschen mehr.
CD-1 ist das '85er Debut Album plus das "free-Album" welches damals in der 10.000er Vinyl Erstauflage als Gratis LP beilag.
CD-2 sind die seltenen 7"inch Single Versionen plus B-Seiten, erstmals in digitaler Qualität auf CD.
CD-3 sind die vollständigen 12"inch Maxi-Single Versionen, ebenfalls erstmals auf CD.
CD-4 ist das Mini-Album plus unveröffentlichte 12"inch Mixe plus 8 BBC-Radio Session Tracks.
Für 4AD Fans ist diese Box ein "MUSS" aber auch für DJ's die gerne 80er auflegen. Zum tanzen gibt es reichlich STOFF !!!
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If you're already a fan, you'll want to pick up a copy. Only 2,000 were made and this set is pretty much the only way to get every single, album, and EP track Colourbox released. There's also a nice helping of live BBC sessions (be sure to check out the hilarious cover of Low Rider). As well, 4AD/Beggars Archive did a nice job on the remastering and graphic design of the box.
New fans might be happier starting off with the compilation Best Of Colourbox 82/87. Not only does it include "Pump Up the Volume" (even though it's technically a collaboration under the M/A/R/R/S moniker), it's a better entry point than this gloriously obsessive box set.
Bottom line: a great acquisition for committed fans and completists but probably overkill for others.
As the years went by and the original vinyl releases became hard to find, 4AD reissued the band's entire discography and then some with this 2012 box set consisting of four CDs. It contains the band's singles and EPs, their sole full-length (and self-titled) LP, two BBC Radio sessions and a previously unreleased mix of "Arena". It's 58 tracks in total. There are alternate versions of a number of tracks, not just because Colourbox released singles in both the 7" and 12" formats, but also because they enjoyed reworking their own tracks. For the most part, this wealth of material is worth one's time exploring, Colourbox manages to say something new with each version.
It has sometimes been claimed that the brothers Young were less interested in music as such than fiddling with knobs. In the tracks "Just Give 'Em Whisky", "Hot Doggie", "Edit the Dragon", and "Fast Dump" the music -- guitar rifts and drum machines -- essentially exists to be a backdrop to sampled dialogue from their favourite films or other found sounds. It's a similar soundworld to DJ Shadow, but put down a decade earlier. The instrumental "The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme" anticipates John Tesh's NBA theme; I'm not sure if this is something to be proud of, but it is another example of how forward-looking Colourbox were.
Colourbox could produce conventional songs, however. There are dark, heart-on-sleeve tracks, such as "Sleepwalker" and "Tarantula", where Colourbox were closest in aesthetic to the other "goth/ethereal/moody" bands signed to 4AD in the early 1980s, like Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins. No wonder what "Tarantula" was covered by the 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil on its debut album It'll End in Tears.
However, most of Colourbox's music is fairly standard 1980s pop, synth and drum machine-heavy. Think Prince or David Bowie. It is eclectic, however. Tracks like "Insider Informer", "The Moon is Blue", "Say You" and "Sex Gun" are deeply embued with music of the African diaspora such as soul and reggae, not only in the instrumental textures but also through the vocals of Lorita Graeme. Not all of these are strong tracks, and the band's cover of the classic tune "You Keep Me Hanging On" is especially misguided. However, I find myself singing along to several tracks here (especially "Arena" and "Tarantula").
Sure, 58 tracks may be overkill for those without prior acquaintance with the band. However, as this boxset was released as a limited edition, I suspect that many fans of 4AD bands are going to be acquiring these recordings through, uh, other channels than purchasing this pricey bit of memorabilia. So, give it a try, you might find Colourbox to be an enduring act.
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