Recently, I offered up the two songs I have by Preston School of Industry. Today’s it’s the two songs I have, currently, by Cha Cha Cohen.
Here’s wiki to kick things off:-
“Cha Cha Cohen was a band formed in 1994 by three members of The Wedding Present — Keith Gregory, Paul Dorrington and Simon Smith. After recruiting singer Jacqui Cohen (AKA Jaqi Dulany) from The Dustdevils they released a single, “Sparky’s Note”, on Hemiola Records.”
In 1996 they released their first record on Chemikal Underground Records and in 1998 released a self-titled album when keyboard player Alan Thomas joining the group.
Here’s Chem Underground to take things forward:-
“There was a certain starstruck element to our signing Cha Cha Cohen, largely for two reasons:
1. We had bought the first Cha Cha Cohen single, released through a Leeds label named Hemiola, and thought it was tremendous.
2. We knew there was a Wedding Present contingent in the band, namely Keith Gregory, and we all loved The Wedding Present.
As luck would have it, The Delgados were asked to tour with The Wedding Present and, while we were on the road with them, discovered that their drummer Simon Smith also played in Cha Cha Cohen. Discussions were had, Simon phoned Stewart at his house one day (another surreal experience for the still relatively young, doe-eyed Weddoes fan) and Cha Cha Cohen signed to Chemikal, so early on, that their 538 EP bagged the catalogue number CHEM005, meaning they were the third band after The Delgados and bis to release on the label.”
538 EP came out in July 1996. As things turned out, the fact that Jacqui lived in Texas while the others lived in Leeds, meant that things progressed really slowly with just two more singles in May 1997 and October 1998, before the self-titled debut album came out in January 1999,after which Paul Dorrington left to be replaced by Tanya Mellott.
Work got underway in 2001 on the follow-up album, All Artists Are Criminals, but for a whole host of reasons, it wasn’t released until September 2002. Here’s what you can find about that album vis the record label:-
“By the time All Artists Are Criminals was released, the band had fractured somewhat: Jaqui and Keith (now recently married) had moved to Australia with the other band members retiring to concentrate on individual projects. As a result, press activity around the album release was going to be limited so it was decided that the press release should have a tone all of its own. As it turned out we went for a Hunter S Thompson feel and drafted a fairly nihilistic press release that effectively signed off on the band’s career: reproduced in full for your delectation…
All Artists Are Criminals.
*Every fucking one of them: plagiarists, extortionists, narcissists, thieves, rapists and pimps – whoring a minimum of talent for maximum profit. Vanity and avarice are laudable attributes if not requisite virtues in an industry that fucks people for a living and charges for the privilege; plundering the pockets of vapid, hormonal teenagers taking precedence over any artistic message whatsoever.
Same treadmill, same questions, same fucking bullshit. Cha Cha Cohen will not be promoting this release.”
This decision not to promote the album didn’t prevent a four-start review in The Guardian:-
Behind the scenes, the world of Cha Cha Cohen is sweetly romantic: in the three years since they released their self-titled debut album, singer Jacqui Delany has married bassist Keith Gregory. Perhaps as a reaction to that, their music has become even more urgent, propulsive and fierce. Mrs Gregory doesn’t sing so much as angrily declaim: “Heavyweight,” she barks on Kodiak, “same as all the other weights.” Behind her, Mr Gregory’s elastic bassline nudges seductively at Simon Smith’s louche drums. You would never guess the two men were once members of the Wedding Present: if their propulsive, spacey rhythms are reminiscent of anyone it is the Fall, an impression consolidated by Tanya Mellotte’s jerking, electrifying, unexpectedly melodic guitar and the disjointed lyrics (“The big God quaker, the pearly white shaker, the Timbuktu retainer”). From the frantic, police-chase funk of Century Life to the sultry To the Letter, this is a relentlessly paced, thrilling album.
The Fall are also mentioned in the final para of the band bio on the Chem Underground website:-
Cha Cha Cohen’s material was fantastic too: a mash-up of Blondie and The Fall if we were to try and sum it up in a few lazy comparisons. Both their albums remain personal favourites of everyone at the label and we continue to wish all their ex-members well: Keith and Jacqui are in Australia now and Simon Smith tour-manages (amongst others) a relatively unknown band called Moogway, Mugwump, Mogwai or something…
So, after all that, how about some music?
Both tracks come courtesy of inclusion on a couple of Chem Underground compilations. As it turns out, both can be found on All Artists Are Criminals….a copy of which, along with the various other CDs still in stock at Chem have been ordered. I could have picked things up cheaper via the second hand markets, but it’s important to support the music industry, even if it is through releases which date from such a long time ago.