The Wolfgang Press

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The Wolfgang Press
The Wolfgang Press.jpg
1992 4AD/Warner US promotional photo for Queer: Mick Allen, Mark Cox, Andrew Gray.
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Post-punk, post-industrial
Years active 1983–1995
Labels 4AD, Warner Bros. (US)
Associated acts Rema-Rema, Mass, In Camera
Website The Wolfgang Press at 4AD.com
Past members Michael Allen
Mark Cox
Andrew Gray

The Wolfgang Press was an English post-punk band, active from 1983 until 1995, recording for the 4AD label. The core of the band was Michael Allen (vocals, bass), Mark Cox (keyboards), and Andrew Gray (guitar), with many guest musicians.

The group is best known for its 1992 international hit single "A Girl Like You (Born To Be Kissed)".

Style and influences[edit]

The official 4AD band profile describes them as "post-punk", transforming to "avant-dance groovers" with Queer.[1] The band was frequently labeled "goth", though they denied the charge.[2]

Allen's list of "important records" as of 1995 included De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, Massive Attack's Blue Lines and "anything from Nick Cave and The Fall." He recalled that the record that "maybe started it all" for him was Public Image Ltd's Metal Box.[2]

History[edit]

Rema-Rema, Mass (1978–81)[edit]

Allen started in The Models in 1977. Allen and Cox had both been members of Rema-Rema and Mass, while Gray had been a member of In Camera. All of these bands had also recorded for 4AD.[1]

Rema-Rema was formed in 1978[3] by schoolmates[4] Allen and Gary Asquith, with Cox, Marco Pirroni (also a school friend of Allen's[5] and a fellow member of The Models[6]) and Max Prior (who later recorded as Dorothy with Psychic TV[7]). 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell said that hearing Rema-Rema's demo tape "was the first point I knew that we were actually doing something serious [with 4AD]."[8] Their sole recording was the Wheel in the Roses 12"EP (4AD BAD-5, 1 Apr 1980).[9] The band split when Pirroni left to join Adam and the Ants[4] (although Pirroni says he had already left[10]), and reformed as Mass.

Mass consisted of Allen and Cox with Asquith and Danny Briottet. Mass recorded a single, "You And I"/"Cabbage" (4AD AD-14, Oct 1980),[11] and an album, Labour Of Love (4AD CAD-107, May 1981).[12] Mass split in 1981.[3] Asquith and Briottet later (1986) formed Renegade Soundwave. (Asquith remained a friend and contributed to Queer.)

The Burden Of Mules (1983)[edit]

After Mass split, Allen and Cox stayed together. The influence of Metal Box was apparent in their live shows of the time[13] and in their first recording as the Wolfgang Press, the 1983 album The Burden Of Mules. Trouser Press describes it as "dark and cacophonous, an angry, intense slab of post-punk gloom that is best left to its own (de)vices";[14] the AllMusic Guide to Electronica describes some tracks as "so morose and vehement as to verge on self-parody."[15] ZigZag was more positive, regarding the album as an artistic success and an "emphatic statement."[3] The band's career retrospective compilation, Everything Is Beautiful, contains no tracks from the album.

Guest musicians included Richard Thomas (Dif Juz), David Steiner (In Camera) and guitarist and percussionist Andrew Gray, who soon joined the band.[1]

Early EPs[edit]

The EPs Scarecrow, Water and Sweatbox followed, produced by Robin Guthrie. These were later compiled (with some remixed versions) as The Legendary Wolfgang Press And Other Tall Stories. The AllMusic Guide to Electronica describes Scarecrow as "a lighter, more streamlined affair", Water as spotlighting "ominously sparse torch songs", and Sweatbox as "deconstructionist pop".[15]

Standing Up Straight (1986)[edit]

The 4AD band profile describes Standing Up Straight as "an intense blend of industrial and classical tropes".[1] Trouser Press describes it as "as challenging and inventive as the band's other work, adding industrial and classical instrumentation to the creative arsenal", "dark and thoroughly uncompromising" and "not for the easily intimidated."[14] The AllMusic Guide to Electronica describes it as "a challenging, even punishing album, but a rewarding one as well."[15]

Bird Wood Cage (1988)[edit]

The AllMusic Guide to Electronica notes this album as "one of the most pivotal records in the Wolfgang Press catalog; here, the trio begins to incorporate the dance and funk elements which would ultimately emerge as the dominant facet of their work."[15] Trouser Press describes Bird Wood Cage as "inserting fascinating bits of business into superficially forbidding songs", including female backing vocals, funky wah-wah guitar and elements of dub reggae.[14]

The album was preceded by the EP Big Sex, which presages its musical themes. "King Of Soul", "Kansas" and "Raintime"/"Bottom Drawer" were singles from the album.

Allen later said that Bird Wood Cage was the Wolfgang Press album he was most proud of.[16]

Queer (1991), A Girl Like You (1992)[edit]

The genesis of the 1991 album Queer was listening to De La Soul's 1989 debut album 3 Feet High and Rising. As Allen put it, this was when they "rediscovered that music could indeed be fun."[2] "It seemed such a joyous record. There was a freshness and ease about the way it was made that inspired us to reassess our working process."[17]

The album sound includes many samples and funkier, poppier beats than previous albums.[18] The AllMusic Guide to Electronica describes it as "alien funk, a collection of idiosyncratic rhythms, dark textures, and ominous grooves."[15] The band members each perform multiple instrumental tasks, making the sound fuller than previously.[14] Bassist Leslie Langston of Throwing Muses guests on most tracks.

The singles from the album were "Time" (the album version being titled "Question Of Time"), an original with a sample from "Time" from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon,[19] followed by a cover of "Mama Told Me Not to Come" by Randy Newman.

The single "A Girl Like You" was released in May 1992[20] and became an international hit, scoring No. 2 on the Billboard US Modern Rock (Alternative Songs) chart on August 15, 1992.[21] The song was covered by Tom Jones, who then got the band to write "Show Me (Some Devotion)" for him, both recordings appearing on The Lead and How to Swing It (1994). Jones also joined them on-stage for All Virgos Are Mad, a 4AD anniversary show in Los Angeles in January 1995.[2][22]

Due to sample clearance issues, the 1992 US release of Queer (which includes "A Girl Like You") needed considerable rerecording and remixing.[18]

Funky Little Demons (1995)[edit]

After "A Girl Like You", the band bought their own studio. This removed time pressure, leading to the band spending two years polishing the material.[2]

Trouser Press describes Funky Little Demons as "straight-ahead dance music with the correct materials", though "no longer enigmatic risk-takers, the Wolfgang Press have become just another white post-new wave soul band."[14]

The single was "Going South", which reached No. 117 on the UK singles chart and No. 33 on the US alternative chart.[23] A promotional CD of "Christianity" was also distributed in the US[24] and a video released, directed by Mark Neale,[25] but the band was dropped by 4AD before the single could be released.

The album spent one week in the UK Albums Chart at No. 75 in February 1995.[26]

Cox left the band in February 1995, shortly before the release of the album. Allen and Gray aimed to continue,[27] and toured the US without Cox to promote the album,[28] but later conceded the band had run its course.[16]

Post-Wolfgang Press[edit]

A compilation album, Everything Is Beautiful (A Retrospective 1983–1995), was released in 2001. (Despite the name, it contains nothing from before 1984.)

Allen records and plays live periodically with his band Geniuser with Giuseppe De Bellis, whom Allen regards as the driving force.[16] Geniuser released the album Mud Black on the Phisteria label in 2005 and an EP called Press/Delete in 2010 on the same label.[18] Gray played on the album. Allen also played with Gary Asquith's Lavender Pill Mob.[4]

Gray recorded under the name Limehouse Outlaw,[17] and released an album Homegrown on his own label on May 27, 2002,[29] with some songs co-written by Allen. Gray also recorded with the Lavender Pill Mob.[4]

Cox has contributed writing and production to a project entitled U:guru.

Name[edit]

Spin said the band claimed to have named themselves after a device that Mozart tried (unsuccessfully) to invent to type out his music.[30] No such device is known. Allen has stated elsewhere that the name was chosen to be "meaningless and open to interpretation."[16]

Discography[edit]

All releases UK except as noted.[31]

Albums[edit]

  • The Burden of Mules (4AD CAD-308. Aug 1983)
    • Lisa (The Passion) (3:01) / Prostitute I (3:01) / The Burden Of Mules (3:43) / Complete And Utter (3:40) / Prostitute II (3:26) / Slow As A Child (6:36) // Journalists (3:32) / Give It Back (6:04) / On The Hill (10:59)
  • Standing Up Straight (4AD CAD-606, Aug 1986)
    • Dig A Hole (4:34) / My Life (4:01) / Hammer The Halo (5:10) / Bless My Brother (1:22) / Fire-Fly (4:17) // Ghost (4:22) / Rotten Fodder (6:12) / Forty Days, Thirty Nights (3:24) / I Am The Crime (6:03)
  • Bird Wood Cage (4AD CAD-810, 7 Nov 1988)
    • King Of Soul (4:02) / Raintime (4:39) / Bottom Drawer (4:42) / Kansas (3:53) / Swing Like A Baby (4:06) // See My Wife (3:55) / The Holey Man (4:16) / Hang On Me (For Papa) (5:08) / Shut That Door (5:40)
    • 1988 CD includes Big Sex EP
  • Queer (4AD CAD-1011, 5 Aug 1991)
    • Birmingham (3:56) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (3:12) / Heavens Gate (2:28) / Riders On The Heart (3:18) / Question Of Time (3:43) // Louis XIV (4:11) / Fakes & Liars (3:01) / Honey Tree (2:52) / Birdie Song (1:20) / Dreams & Light (2:51) / Sucker (3:37) / Mother Valentine (4:27)
    • Yellow sleeve with photo of Gray
    • Initial vinyl copies included 12"EP Sucker (TWP-3) of remixes by Martyn Young of Colourbox: Sucker (Martyn Young Remix) (6:03) / Sucker (Reprise) (2:08) // Mama (Martyn Young Remix) (7:26)
  • Queer (4AD/Warner US 9 26908-2, 1992)
    • A Girl Like You (3:34) / Birmingham (3:56) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (3:12) / Heavens Gate (2:31) / Riders On The Heart (3:14) / Question Of Time (3:39) / Louis XIV (4:11) / Fakes & Liars (3:00) / Honey Tree (2:48) / Birdie Song (1:21) / Dreams & Light (2:30) / Sucker (3:37) / Mother Valentine (4:27) / Angel (3:37) / Sucker M.F. (6:08)
    • Green sleeve with photo of Allen
  • Funky Little Demons (4AD CAD-4016, 23 Jan 1995)
    • Going South (4:19) / 11 Years (4:01) / Blood Satisfaction (3:41) / Chains (4:58) / Christianity (4:33) / Derek The Confessor (4:04) // So Long Dead (4:16) / Executioner (3:11) / She's So Soft (4:29) / New Glass (2:00) / Fallen Not Broken (4:01) / People Say (4:10)
    • Initial CD copies with four-track remix bonus disc (CADD-4016-CD): Executioner (Adamson Mix) (7:10) / Christianity (Sherwood Mix) (8:33) / Going South (Adrenalin Mix) (4:18) / 11 Years (Sabres Main Mix 1) (6:07)

EPs and singles[edit]

  • Scarecrow 12"EP (4AD BAD-409, recorded July 1984, released Aug 1984)
    • Ecstasy (6:48) // Deserve (7:11) / Respect (4:19)
  • Water 12"EP (4AD BAD-502, recorded Jan 1985, released Mar 1985)
    • Tremble (My Girl Doesn't) (4:00) / My Way (4:26) // The Deep Briny (3:07) / Fire-eater (5:58)
  • Sweatbox 12"EP (4AD BAD-506, recorded Apr 1985, released Jul 1985)
    • Heart Of Stone (4:33) / I'm Coming Home (Mama) (5:23) // Sweatbox (5:00) / Muted (3:54)
  • Big Sex 12"EP (4AD BAD-702, recorded Dec 1986, released Apr 1987)
    • The Wedding (3:51) / The Great Leveller (4:31) // That Heat (4:23) / God's Number (4:39)
  • "King Of Soul" 12" (4AD BAD-804, 22 Aug 1988)
    • King Of Soul (Crowned Mix) (6:10) // De-Throned Mix (K.O.S) (4:16) / K.O.S (7 Inch Mix) (3:25)
    • despite the name of the third track, no 7" version is known to exist
  • "Kansas" 12" (4AD BAD-902, 30 Jan 1989)
    • Assassination K./Kanserous (7:39) // Kansas (4:51) / Scratch (5:10) / Twister (4:52)
  • "Raintime/Bottom Drawer"
    • 12" (4AD BAD-907, 2 May 1989): Raintime (Remix) (4:12) // Bottom Drawer (Remix) (5:37) / Slowtime (4:53)
    • CD (4AD BAD-907-CD, 2 May 1989): Longtime (6:01) / Bottom Drawer (Remix) (5:37) / Assassination K./Kanserous (7:39) / Slowtime (4:53)
  • "Time" 12" (4AD BAD-1003, 02 Apr 1991), CD (4AD BAD-1003-CD, 02 Apr 1991)
    • Time (7:22) / Time Less (3:59) / Dark Time (6:32)
  • "Mama Told Me Not To Come"
    • 7" (4AD AD-1007, 13 May 1991): Mama Told Me Not To Come (3:17) / Summer Time (4:53)
    • 12" (4AD BAD-1007, 13 May 1991): Mama Told Me Not To Come (Bad Boy Mix) (6:34) // Mama Told Me Not To Come (Inside Out Mix) (7:22) / Summer Time (4:53)
    • CD (4AD BAD-1007-CD, 13 May 1991): Mama Told Me Not To Come (3:17) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (Bad Boy Mix) (6:33) / Summer Time (4:53)
    • US 12" (4AD/Warner 9 40674-0, 1992): Mama Told Me Not To Come (Go Back) (6:56) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (7 Inch) (3:16) // Mama Told Me Not To Come (Up All Night) (4:24) / Birmingham To Jerusalem (8:24)
    • US CD (4AD/Warner 9 40674-2, 1992): Mama Told Me Not To Come (7 Inch) (3:19) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (Go Back) (6:59) / Birmingham (7 Inch) (3:34) / Birmingham To Jerusalem (8:27) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (Up All Night) (4:26)
  • "A Girl Like You"
    • 7" (4AD AD-2006, 13 May 1992): A Girl Like You (7" Mix) (3:39) / Angel (4:34)
    • 12" (4AD BAD-2006, 13 May 1992): A Girl Like You (7" Mix) (3:38) / A Girl Like You (1000 Times) (5:41) // Angel (4:33) / A Girl Like You (Born To Be Kissed) (8:16)
    • CD (4AD BAD-2006-CD, 18 May 1992): A Girl Like You (7" Mix) (3:38) / Angel (4:33) / A Girl Like You (1000 Times) (5:41) / A Girl Like You (Born To Be Kissed) (8:16)
    • US CD (4AD/Warner 9 40547-2, 1992): A Girl Like You (7" Mix) (3:39) / A Girl Like You (1000 Times) (5:40) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (7" Mix) (3:16) / A Girl Like You (Born To Be Kissed) (8:17) / Louis XIV (Napoleon & Josephine) (5:52) / A Girl Like You (Album Version) 3:33
  • "Going South"
    • 7" (4AD AD-5001, 10 Jan 1995): Going South (7" Version) (3:42) / Going South (Country Style) (4:36)
    • 12" (4AD BAD-5001, 10 Jan 1995): Going South (@ 440 Mix) (8:18) // 11 Years (Sabres Main Mix 2) (7:26) / Christianity (Sherwood Mix) (8:33)
    • CD (4AD BAD-5001-CD, 10 Jan 1995): Going South (7" Version) (3:42) / Going South (@ 440 Mix) (8:18) / Chains (Wobble Mix) (6:15) / Going South (Country Style) (4:36)
    • US 7" (4AD/Warner 7-17914, 1994): Going South (Single Version) (3:38) / She's So Soft (Album Version) (4:28)
    • US CD (4AD/Warner 9 41883-2, 1994): Going South (7" Version) (3:39) / Going South (@ 440 Mix) (8:17) / Chains (Wobble Mix) (6:15) / Going South (Country Style) (4:36) / 11 Years (Sabres Main Mix 2) (7:28)

Compilations[edit]

  • The Legendary Wolfgang Press and Other Tall Stories (4AD CAD-514, Nov 1985)
    • Tremble (My Girl Doesn't) (4:01) / Heart Of Stone (4:33) / Respect (Edit) (2:13) / My Way (4:28) / I'm Coming Home (Mama) (5:23) // Deserve (Edit) (4:28) / Sweatbox (Remix) (5:10) / Fire Eater (Remix) (6:05) / Ecstasy (6:56)
    • compilation of EPs Scarecrow, Water and Sweatbox with some different versions
    • CD (CAD-514-CD) includes two bonus tracks: The Deep Briny (3:07), Muted (3:54)
  • Everything Is Beautiful (A Retrospective 1983-1995) (4AD GAD-2104-CD, 1 Oct 2001)
    • Birdie Song (1:21) / Dreams And Light (2:51) / Going South (7" Version) (3:37) / Sweatbox (Remix) (5:11) / Chains (4:56) / Heavens Gate (2:29) / Kansas (Flood Mix) (4:02) / Honey Tree (2:51) / Sucker (Young Mix) (6:04) / Executioner (Adamson Mix) (6:31) / Slowtime (4:51) / A Girl Like You (7" Mix) (3:37) / Respect (2:17) / Mama Told Me Not To Come (3:12) / Shut That Door (5:20) / I Am The Crime (6:03) / People Say (Live) (4:32)

Various Artists compilation appearances[edit]

  • State Of Affairs (Pleasantly Surprised cassette PS-002, 1984): Prostitute (Remixed Version)
  • Dreams and Desires (Pleasantly Surprised cassette PS-006, 1984): Ecstasy (instrumental)
  • Document: Pleasantly Surprised (82 - 85) (Pleasantly Surprised cassette PS-012, Feb 1986): Prostitute (Remixed Version)[32]
  • Abstract 5 (Sweatbox AMO-5, 1985; LP with Abstract magazine No. 5): Fire Eater (Remix)[33]
  • Lonely Is an Eyesore (4AD CAD-703, June 1987): Cut the Tree
  • Unbelievable - The Indie Dance Album (Posh Music For Kids UNB-101, 1991): Time[34]
  • Volume One (Volume CD, Sep 1991; CD with Volume magazine No. 1): Sucker (Version) (3:36)
  • Rough Trade: Music For The 90's Vol. 3 (Rough Trade Deutschland RTD-199.1215.2 CD, 1991): Louis XIV (4:10)[35]
  • NME Viva 8 - Live at the Town and Country Club 8-1-92 (NME, 1992): Dreams and Light (3:22)
  • Lilliput 1 & 2 (4AD LILLIPUT-1+2, 1992): A Girl Like You, Birmingham
  • 4AD Presents The 13 Year Itch CD (4AD SHUFFLE-1, 1993): Peace On Fire (4:02)[36][37]
  • 4AD Presents The 13 Year Itch VHS (4AD SHUFFLE-1, 1993): Kansas
  • All Virgos Are Mad (4AD/Warner 45789 CD, 1994; free CD for All Virgos Are Mad shows): One
  • All Virgos Are Mad (4AD/Warner 45789 CD, 1994; free VHS for All Virgos Are Mad shows): Kansas
  • Facing The Wrong Way (4AD FTWW-1, 1995): Christianity (Wicked Man Remix)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d 4AD band profile, p1
  2. ^ a b c d e The Wolfgang Press: Going South with Tom Jones (Yellow Peril [Sebastian Chan], Snarl, 1995)
  3. ^ a b c The Worriers (Marina Merosi, ZigZag March 1984, p12-13)
  4. ^ a b c d Riding Mikes Bikes With Gary Asquith Of The Lavender Pill Mob (Todd E. Jones, April 2006)
  5. ^ The Mud Black Geniuser Of Michael Allen (Todd C. Allen, MVRemix, February 2006, p4)
  6. ^ The Models (punk77.co.uk)
  7. ^ The Story Of "I Confess" (Kid Shirt blog, 2006-01-14)
  8. ^ Rema-Rema (4AD official profile)
  9. ^ Rema-Rema – Wheel In The Roses (discogs.com)
  10. ^ Interview with Marco Pirroni & Chris Constantinou – The Wolfmen (Terry Lane, Buzzin Music, 2010-12-15) — "Adam didn’t headhunt me — I was already out of Rema Rema when he called me."
  11. ^ Mass (4) – You And I / Cabbage (discogs.com)
  12. ^ Mass (4) – Labour Of Love (discogs.com)
  13. ^ Wolfgang Press – 4AD Records – 1983 (Kill Your Pet Puppy, 2008-09-17)
  14. ^ a b c d e Wolfgang Press (Altricia Gethers/Megan Frampton, Trouser Press)
  15. ^ a b c d e Jason Ankeny. "Wolfgang Press." AllMusic Guide to Electronica: the definitive guide to electronic music, p560. Vladimir Bogdanov, ed., 2001. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-628-9.
  16. ^ a b c d The Mud Black Geniuser Of Michael Allen (Todd C. Allen, MVRemix, February 2006, p2)
  17. ^ a b Jeremy Simmonds. "The Wolfgang Press." The Rough Guide to Rock, 3rd ed., Peter Buckley (ed.), p1182. Rough Guides Ltd, October 2003. ISBN 1-85828-457-0.
  18. ^ a b c 4AD band profile, p2
  19. ^ Wolfgang Press, The - Time (discogs.com)
  20. ^ The Wolfgang Press - "A Girl Like You / Angel" (erasure.ru)
  21. ^ The Wolfgang Press - A Girl Like You (billboard.com)
  22. ^ "He's With The Band." (Billboard, Jan 28, 1995, p12)
  23. ^ The Wolfgang Press Songs (MusicVF charts database)
  24. ^ Wolfgang Press, The – Christianity (discogs.com)
  25. ^ Production Notes: Other Cities (Billboard, May 20, 1995, p36)
  26. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 608. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  27. ^ The Wolfgang Press (Chaos Control Digizine, 1995)
  28. ^ World View News (Keyboard 21, 1995, p11)
  29. ^ Limehouse Outlaw: Homegrown
  30. ^ Press Conference: The Wolfgang Press squeezes the soul out of laid-back English pop. (Amy Talkington, Spin, October 1992, p30)
  31. ^ The Wolfgang Press (discogs.com)
  32. ^ Various – Document: Pleasantly Surprised (82 - 85) (discogs.com)
  33. ^ Various Artists - Abstract Magazine : Volume 5 (Everything Starts With An A)
  34. ^ Various – Unbelievable - The Indie Dance Album (discogs.com)
  35. ^ Various – Rough Trade - Music For The 90's • Vol. 3 (discogs.com)
  36. ^ 1993 releases (4AD)
  37. ^ 4AD Presents The 13 Year Itch (allmusic.com)

External links[edit]