Recently I spoke to Michael James Pollard about being discovered for his music 40 years on. It’s worth a look, Michael’s fun to read.
As a precis, Michael received a call out of the blue one day from someone who had found a cassette in a charity shop. It had Michael James Pollard on it, and when he read the song titles to him, he got excited, because he produced the music in 1982 and only sent two tapes out—one to John Peel and one to Kid Jensen.
Music From 1982
That’s what’s on this EP, called Two One One. The music here is from that time and it’s not surprising Mr Kid received one of those tapes, this is a lovely Pop feeling—after all, Michael told me that he once bought Faust and T-Rex albums on the same day.
A laid back drum machine and tight guitar with thin drum fills introduce you to ‘Bizarre Life (Two)’, the male and female voices of Michael and Stephanie Danziger never lulling, more declamatory as if something needs to be said, whilst the bleeping synth in the background keeps it moving on.
It has a woozy Talking Heads ‘Burning Down The House’ synth, the one heard on Stop Making Sense, but years before they did it.
Then ‘Reason’ boasts a lovely Pop and Haircut 100 busy guitar, with the atonal vocal ranged against that sweetness. The song mines one seam but that when it segues into a slight Gang Of Four feel, all is very well in Michael James Pollard’s world
‘Julia’ is a bit of a curveball, the synth floating like Gitane smoke in a ’60s French cafe as the female vocal lilts and a Michael tells us ‘we have no choice’ insistently; that it has a bit of a clapping knees up in the middle is perfectly understandable.
And it ends with ‘Bizarre Life (One)’? You scamp, Mr P!
The guitars here have a bit of a Be Bop Deluxe sharpness, the bass drives a little more as the vocal loses its female part; the whole thing sounds a lot more chart of the early ’80s and there’s that Nelson and his Be Bop Deluxe guitar histrionics, a solo of sorts!
That drum sound? Let Michael tell you himself: ‘I’d recently bought a Casio VL-Tone VL-1, which was both a calculator and monophonic synth with a sequencer, and a Simmons analogue Clap Trap to augment my drum kit’.
This is not music that was thought about for years, geophysically appraised and rehearsed to within a gnat’s quaver, Two One One is music that responds to the equipment available and the surroundings.
Listen to some of the lovely, odd instrumentation here.
‘I also had an old plastic Magnus chord organ that my parents had bought from Woolworths as a Christmas present many years before (I still have these ‘vintage’ bits of kit!) I had to borrow the band’s guitars and bass to play all the other parts.’
As he lived the band and they recorded in the cellar, it was easy to do.
Michael released an album recently which is so well worth a listen I have to stress it. It’s called Revolution and is from music a few years later. It sounds different too, to this frenetic rush of energy.
So It’s Good, Is It?
Oh yes. Two One One has a bare-bones groove. It makes you move, it’s busy but thin and nervy, like cheap sulphate and poppers but with a real immediacy that wouldn’t be a problem in the charts of the time either. That’s a rare combination.
The EP is from German Shepherd Records and your money will go to help prolong the life of Stephanie Danziger’s son Joel—you can see more on Twitter at #helpjoellivelonger.
It’s worthwhile. It’s a good story. But it’s also very good music.