Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tooting Andy Diagram's Horn

As many of you regulars know, I have a thing for the trumpet in my indie pop. After that post on the Pale Fountains last week, I started thinking about how many times Paleys' blower Andy Diagram has shown up in my record collection. He was in James for a while in the late '80s and early '90s, but I think I know his work more from his time in Manchester band Dislocation Dance.

In the early days of the Pale Fountains, the band played with Dislocation Dance on a bill, and Michael Head got on with Diagram so well that he asked him to join the Paleys immediately. So he played with both of them. Dislocation Dance started out with a bit more of a post-punk sound when they formed in 1980 and recorded on cult label New Hormones. By the time Dislocation Dance signed with Rough Trade in late '82 or early '83, as many others seemed to do at that time, the band went decidedly sophisti-pop. Diagram wasn't just rounding out their sound either. There are songs on 1984 album 'Midnight Shift' for instance, such as "Bottle of Red Wine" and the title track, where the trumpet is in the forefront like a classic jazz recording. Diagram is using all kinds of effects and technical wizardry on this album, and I never heard a trumpet sound like this!

There were quite a few straight-up pop songs in the discography too, and to these ears, they sounded like they should have been hits, like "Violette," "Rosemary" and this single from 1983. It's a nice bit of jangle with some keyboard and trumpet from the aforementioned Mr. Diagram. Of it's time, sure, but still a pretty sound to these ears. Speaking of pretty, perhaps Kathryn Way might have had a little something to do with me liking Dislocation Dance. I hope we are still allowed to say such things.

Show Me
Show Me (12")

4 comments:

drew said...

Had never heard of this lot before Brian, thanks. It is very 1983, it would be a lot better without that horrible synth sound.

Echorich said...

Life if full of coincidences...I decided to play Michael Head & Red Elastic Band's brilliant Artorius Revisited Mini-LP/EP from 2013 as I pulled up my blog feed to get up to date. As the opening strum of Newby Street blossomed with Andy Diagram's horns, I clicked on your latest post! Serendipitous really....
Diagram has always been on my radar and it started with the Pale Fountains and Dislocation dance, but I also remember his contributions to work from Howard Devoto as well as Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas - as David Thomas and Two Pale Boys - the track Lantern is like something from a drug induced visit to a Southern Swamp Honky Tonk...
I love DD's Show Me... Midnight Shift is my favorite from the though. Andy's masterful, subtle approach can't be rivaled.

friend of rachel worth said...

Back with James as a perm band member for the last few lps

Brian said...

Nice comments, fellas. Dislocation Dance has had a recent comeback too. It's possible he's playing for James, Dislocation Dance and Michel Head these days. Good for him! Drew, you might like DD's earlier releases better. I'll play something else by them soon.