AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #134: GENE LOVES JEZEBEL

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT

I haven’t seen anything about Welsh twins Jay & Michael Ashton here at TVV, it’s almost like it might be very uncool to like Gene Loves Jezebel. But hey, I do, there is a theatrical, almost opera-ish, touch to their music, especially the first few years, that triggers my liking. They were not the average radio band, hardly even the average indie band. I guess either you like the over the top vocals, or you detest them.

They were very productive around these 4 first albums, I own 4 LP’s (5 with the Glad To Be Alive freebe) and 14 12” singles/EP’s – so squeezing all this into a single 10 track ICA just was impossible. Hence a first ICA with album tracks, followed at a later time (as determined by JC) a second ICA with tracks lifted off their EP’s, and not featured on any of their first 4 albums (well, sort of…). Here we go!

Glad To Be… Gene Loves Jezebel – the album tracks ICA.

Side A covers the 2 albums released on Situation Two, the less accessible records maybe – but their debut album Promise hit me so hard it took a couple of more albums to shake them off. I’ve ordered the tracks chronologically to make evident the progress and evolution of their sound.

1 Influenza (1983 Promise, SITU 7)

This track is significant for me. I was, and still am, a lyrics kind of guy. Before house music came into my life instrumental music just didn’t do it, it was movie score music that underlined a feeling to a movie scene, nothing I would listen to at home. Influenza changed all that, I loved it from the first listen, and was totally overthrown by how intriguing and beautiful I found it – even without lyrics.

2 Bruises (1983 Promise, SITU 7)

A song that has shown up in many disguises as 12” b-sides, trademark GLJ rock – a fast thumping beat, guitars and the theatrical vocal delivery. A great bouncer track.

3 Pop Tarantula (1983 Promise, SITU 7)

I could basically have chosen just the full first album to do this album track ICA, but forced myself to choose tracks from all four albums I regard as ”true” GLJ records. Pop Tarantula has the dynamics, all the operatic beauty of GLJ. I’ll probably regret this choice though.

4 Worth Waiting For (1985 Immigrant, SITU 14)

Could in my eyes definitely been a single, very catchy indeed.

5 Stephen (1985 Immigrant, SITU 14)

This is typical (early) GLJ, taking an old b-side, re-record and furnish up a bit. The very theatrical Stephen first surfaced on the Influenza (relapse) 12”. Here a slightly more polished version, worthy finishing side A off.

Side B covers the move to the mother company Beggars, more money, bigger marketing resources – and higher expectations. Sound becomes more accessible, aimed at a wider audience. Still didn’t really work out quite as well as the exec’s had hoped (my guess!).

6 Desire (1986 Discover, BEGA 73)

Their biggest hit on the UK indie chart, peaking at #4, even if it never made into the regular chart. Was the start of a more dance oriented interest from GLJ with a club remix, and a special US remix as well. And above all, a great song.

7 Maid Of Sker (1986 Discover, BEGA 73)

More old school GLJ drama. ”It could be poison, it could be sheer gold – I don’t know, not at all”. Operatic grandeur.

8 Wait And See (1986 Discover, BEGA 73)

Plain pop music, and actually another great album track.

9 Gorgeous (1987 The House Of Dolls, BEGA 87)

This is pretty straight forward pop music, just not being for the charts or mainstream radio since the vocal delivery is still very much GLJ. Lyrically close to the Prefab Sprout song Cars and Girls. Is not a re-use of the old Gorgeous b-side from the Shame 12”, even if the chorus goes the same way.

10 The Motion Of Love (1987 The House Of Dolls, BEGA 87)

As close as a hit they ever got, peaking at a modest #56 in the UK charts and later at #87 in the US. Effectively produced by Jimmy Iovine to please the US audience like of arena rock, but they never really got out of the KROQ-FM league (in the US).

The rest is a messy story of re-unions and lawsuites, just as theatrical as GLJ started out…

Bonus track: The original Stephen, from the Influenza 12” single.

It took me ages to listen through all my GLJ records and choosing the tracks for this and the subsequent ICA’s, but I had a great time doing so. I hope you enjoy both show too!

MARTIN

JC writes…………….Martin did fire this over to me some time ago, but it likely got caught up in some sort of filter and didn’t get through….it was only a while later when he checked in again with me were we able to sort it all out.

It’s just to say that I’ll never turn down any submitted ICAs, unless the politics being promoted are of a horrendously right-wing nature, so if you happened to have sent something in before but never heard back from me at all, then please feel free to follow it up. Same goes for anyone who in the future fires in an ICA or other guest submission….you’ll always get an acknowledgement that it’s come in with an indication of when it might get loaded up.

This particular effort, plus the follow-up, is an absolute epic, so huge thanks to Martin.

4 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #134: GENE LOVES JEZEBEL

  1. Excellent. I love when the ICA illuminates a bad that “had it and lost it.” I think “Stephen” is one of the great songs of the new wave. Nice to see these special early works given their due. Well done.

  2. It’s uncool to like Gene Loves Jezebel because the Ashton Brothers exude what I’d call extreme punchability. Imagine a U2 formed just to “score chicks” with not one, but two braying Bono-clones! That is the essence of GLJ to these ears.

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