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Wolfgang Press


Everything Is Beautiful (A Retrospective 1983-1995)




Wolfgang PressThe new Wolfgang Press retrospective does not feature a single cut from 1983's dirge masterpiece debut The Burden Of Mules (4AD). Nor does it feature several classics (Deserve, The Deep Army, etc.) from 1985's The Legendary Wolfgang Press and Other Tall Stories.

Everything Is Beautiful only has one cut from the Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) produced Standing Up Straight LP (1986), and so on, and so forth.

When I first saw the track listing, I was nearly outraged. But then I listened. While Wolfgang Press's rightful place in dirge-ridden post-punk history has yet to be neatly compiled on a CD (I'm hoping that it's on the way), their place in that piece of history was already established along the way.

What's been largely overlooked (in the states anyway) is their rightful place in intelligent-dance-pop history. And they actually deserve front row attention in that arena as well. Anyway, this release seeks to right that wrong, with a couple hints of their darker, goth-ier side thrown in for good measure.

The first hints of TWP's veering for the dance floor came early on. A single from their second LP to be exact, with the infectious classic Sweatbox, and a hilarious, yet sincere tribute to Otis Redding's Respect (featured here).

On their next release, TWP took a step back from the dance floor, indulging their more gothic dimensions with Robin Guthrie on production. The moody I am the Crime (with Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Frazer singing alongside) is featured from that LP-and it's about the only statement from that side of TWP in this collection.

While nothing is brought forth from their fantastic Big Sex ep, 1988's breakthrough Birdwood Cage is given good attention, with two of my Wolfgang favorites, Kansas - remixed by Flood (U2, etc., etc.) and Shut That Door, a song that begs high volume and very serious dancing with it's cacophonous screaming synth beauty against a persistent groove. They also include Slowtime a B-Side from the Raintime single.

With 1991's Queer LP, the Press took a giant leap towards the dance floor and away from their more challenging, experimental indulgences--but with a lot of darkness and rage intact-just put across more subtlety. As a pop group, they matured without losing their depth or edge. The album was hailed by critics and fans alike. Presented here is the irresistible, funked up cover of Randy Newman's Mama Told Me Not To Come, a Martyn Young remix of Sucker (another favorite), their near US hit A Girl Like You, and two Annie Anxiety collaborations Birdie and Dreams and Light. Heaven's Gate is also featured from that album.

Their final release, 1994's Funky Little Demons LP might have alienated a body of early TWP fans but otherwise, where Queer got the ball rolling, Funky Little Demons started to knock down some pins-just before singer Marcus Allen left the group and they closed shop. Of course.

Anyway, while they left off some great tracks from that LP it's well documented with the obvious Going South, the beautiful Chains, a great Barry Adamson remix of Executioner, and a live version of People Say to close out the collection.

A highly recommended party album that works just as well at close listening. Even better actually. Rare.

Favs: 2,3,7,8,9,10,11,13,14,15,16

Brian Cleary, September 11, 2001