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 Savoy Records
Savoy Wars

Britton / Butterworth Productions


1994

Savoy Records

Savoy 1CD

CD

Savoy Wars

  1 Blue Monday—Lord Horror
6.25 (Be-Music/Springsteen)

2 Sign O The Times—PJ Proby
6.49 (Prince)

3 Garbageman—Lord Horror
5.57 (Rorschach/Interior)

4 In The Air Tonight—PJ Proby
6.06 (Collins)

5 Shoot Yer Load—Meng & Ecker
4.50 (Meng/Ecker)

6 Raw Power—Lord Horror
11.53 (Pop/Williamson)

7 I'm On Fire—PJ Proby
5.21 (Springsteen)

8 The Old Fenian Gun—PJ Proby
2.31 (Traditional)

9 Reverbstorm—Jessie Matthews
4.00 (Temple)

10 Hardcore: M97002—PJ Proby
16.01 (Smith/Temple/Holland)

Total time: 69.59

Recorded and mixed in the UK

24pp booklet


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Britton & Butterworth - Savoy Wars

 
Savoy Wars disc
Anarchy seldom comes more cerebral than on the recordings on Savoy Wars. This is not ham-fisted punk rhetoric or the divvy heavy metal fuck-off. This is a subversion of the musical tastes of an entire generation:

Blue Monday is given a sound kicking over the most monstrous beat imaginable; its vocals could part a Fuck from his socks any day of the week!

Sign 0 the Times out-minces Princes to the 100th degree.

In the Air Tonight puts hair on Phil Collins.

Raw Power Iggs the Mighty Pop's anthem up into a smell stronger than the Tory Party—Mondo rock!

Shoot Yer Load—Erection Rock, foul-mouthed party time from the queens of Scream Mondays, lip-smacking lasciviousness!

Garbageman—you thought Trevor Horn's productions were big. This murderously full orchestrated version of The Cramps' classic is six minutes of intense fury and barking-at-the-moon madness!

I'm On Fire—Springsteen's paean to illicit lust given a subtle rhumba percussion, magic strings, Elvis vocals and powerful arrangement by Stephen Boyce Buckley, the engineer for 808 State.

Reverbstorm—Valkyrian motherfucking Northern Soul thunder, the type of tune that Hitler would have danced to! All this and literate lyrics. Worth the price of the CD on its own!

And finally, fifteen minutes of blistering bad taste and gross-out, last, best and forever—Hardcore: M97002, the record that truly killed Rock'n'Roll. The 1990's finest hour!


 

Reviews

"A classic oddity that documents Manchester's most anarchic label during the '80s. A great re-run of Springsteen's I'm On Fire, delivered à la Elvis, by PJ Proby, is worth the price of the CD alone. Elsewhere there's a completely off-the-padded-wall version of New Order's Blue Monday, plus various other deconstructions that have, along the way, upset the likes of Madonna, Prince Charles, the entire Manchester police force and, probably, Phil Collins."

FRED DELLAR, Vox

 

"Savoy keep kicking against all the odds at the doors of political correctness (read 'conservatism'), suicidally reckless at times, and have made some classic dance sounds in the process. The opener, an amalgamation of Blue Monday and Cadillac Ranch is brilliant, their version of Prince's Sign O The Times was the nearest thing they had to a hit (i.e., it missed by a long way) and, weirdest of the lot, their version of Phil Collin's In The Air Tonight is almost a straight cover. Renegade rocker PJ Proby sings on several tracks. If you can find a shop which doesn't consider this label too hot to handle, buy."

MARTIN LACEY, SAM (Sheffield Alternative Magazine)

 

"Manchester's Savoy Records is a label with a mission: to get under your skin. In their time they've done their job well, with scandal in the tabloids and disgust in the 'good taste' broadsheets. This compilation brings together 10 of their releases between 1986-1990, many of which feature the legendary '60s symbol, PJ Proby, described in 1969 as 'the great doomed romantic showman of our time' in Nik Cohn's classic book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom.

Many of the songs here are covers—like Proby's version of New Order's Blue Monday, Prince's Sign O The Times and Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight. But these are no ordinary covers. The original lyrics to Blue Monday are dropped in favour of Springsteen's Cadillac Ranch, with Proby providing a deep Southern American drawl, as he does on the other tracks. Musically, there's some amazingly seedy and muscular dance arrangements, which add a whole new spin to the songs. In particular In The Air Tonight, which actually sounds dangerously deranged and eminently listenable. Unlike the original.

Savoy Wars is all the more fascinating by virtue of the people who crop-up on the various tracks: Melanie Williams (Sub Sub and now with her own solo deal), Rowetta (Happy Mondays), Denise Johnson (Primal Scream, Electronica, ACR and now also with a solo deal),Yvonne Shelton (Secret Society, Evolution, and another solo artist), Inner Sense Percussion, '60s rock'n'roll vocalist Bobby Thompson and, of course, Proby.

And regardless of Savoy's joy of upsetting, shocking and generally winding people up (like the over-the-top lewdness of Meng & Ecker's Shoot Yer Load, with a chorus of 'motherfucker, cock sucker, shoot yer load, let it go'), the label has produced some genuinely exciting, innovative and powerful pop songs. 'Prime cuts of musical perversity' is how Savoy describe it. A definition which is difficult to dispute."

CHRIS SHARRAT, City Life (Manchester)

 

"Blue Monday, Sign O The Times, Raw Power, I'm On Fire and In The Air Tonight all get the Savoy treatment—disjointed drum beats, subtle pop piss-takes and full orchestras are just some of the things you'll hear here. Original Savoy pieces are also included: Shoot Yer Load, Reverbstorm and the classic Hardcore: M97002 which is a 16-minute barrage of rap-style drums with PJ Proby ranting and a Madonna impersonator on backing vocals. I missed the vinyl versions when released—most of you probably did. This is like nothing you're ever likely to hear again—grab it while you've still got the chance."

MARK CRUMBY, Impulse

 

"Savoy Wars follows a series of audacious 12" singles often unfairly dismissed as either stunts or plain Northern weirdness, and it finally places their project into perspective.

The closest analogy you're likely to get is KLF's cunning mismatch of style and artist. Because here Blue Monday motorvates all the way from Crawfish to A Guy Called Gerald's Voodoo Ray with Peter Hook himself donating the bass-lines. Their Sign O The Times has PJ Proby versus Prince patenting a cure for the big disease with a little name. Garbageman is a cut-and-slash rerun of The Cramps' original with D'nise Johnson (occasional Primal Scream vox) and Melanie (Sub-Sub) Williams coming in on an S'Express transmutation. Shoot Yer Load blends a tasty LaVern Baker sample around Rowetta of Happy Mondays. Best of all is Reverbstorm—Spector and Tamla Manchester supernaturally reanimated with Wagnerian Northern Soul."

ANDREW DARLINGTON, Hot Press

 

"Savoy are no ordinary record label. The company is, to all intents and purposes, David Britton and Michael Butterworth, who for the last decade have been carrying on a satirical war with the bastions of the British establishment. Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles, James Anderton and, of course, PJ Proby have found themselves embroiled in Savoy's anarchic, amoral forays into the worlds of art and sacrilege.

For Savoy, in fact, there are no sacred cows; every icon is a balloon to be punctured. They've been accused of anti-Semitism, racism, blasphemy, every crime imaginable against the standards of civilised society. They've fought the law, and sometimes the law has won. They've been shunned by the indie music-biz establishment as much as by the mainstream; if a Savoy record arrives by post, it's sure to have been blacklisted by every distribution chain known to mankind.

Savoy is a subject for another day; they've issued a dozen or so ludicrously rare and savagely compelling records over the last decade.

Meanwhile, Savoy Wars is a compilation CD—no catalogue number, just the label's address. Rest assured you won't find it in your local megastore. It has 10 tracks, half of them by Jim Proby; it includes a representative sample of Savoy artwork and reviews, guaranteed to offend those of conservative tastes; and it sounds at one minute like a doomed romantic folly, at another like the coming of the apocalypse.

To begin at the end: Hardcore: M97002 was a PJ Proby 12", satirically credited on the original sleeve as a duet with Madonna. Ms Ciccone threatened to sue. Proby's there, sure enough, duetting (if that's the word) with an unidentified female singer. Over 15 minutes, a thunderous techno rhythm builds and builds, the structure decays, and Proby delves into areas of sexual vice that are not suitable for discussion in a family magazine. It's a shocking, staggering record.

Want some more? How about The Savoy Hitler Youth Band (yes, irony is alive and well and living in Manchester) coupling New Order's Blue Monday and Springsteen's Cadillac Ranch in a copyright lawyer's nightmare? Ex-Kingsize Taylor & The Dominoes' singer Bobby Thompson reeling through 12 minutes of Iggy's Raw Power ? Or Proby stepping throat-first into the Northern Ireland divide by covering The Old Fenian Gun ? As the sleeve-notes admit, 'this is not a world without consequences'.

Agents provocateurs or anarchists? Moralists or morons? Criminals or social critics? Satirical jokers or dispassionate chroniclers of society's steady slide towards the edge? It's the classic cop-out, but you'll have to decide for yourself."

PETER DOGGETT, Record Collector

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