Danielle Dax ‘Dark Adapted Eye’ – album review

Danielle dax ‘Dark Adapted Eye’ (30th Anniversary Edition) (Rubellan Remasters)
CD (Import) | DL
Available now

Long overdue reissue of a compilation album initially aimed at North American & Canadian audiences, thankfully copies of this 30th Anniversary Edition are now available in the UK.

Danielle Dax came to the public’s attention alongside Karl Blake as a member of the Lemon Kittens, best described as an experimental outfit who released their debut album back in 1980, the mysteriously titled “We Buy A Hammer For Daddy” via the legendary United Dairies label, the album being described as “one of the milestones of experimental rock music” via the AllMusic website.

Dax released her first solo material in 1983, the album ‘Pop-Eyes’ – Dax wrote all the material, she played all the instruments and sang all the lyrics, as well as producing the album, she also created an album sleeve that portrayed a face constructed from a collage of medical images. The sleeve turned a few stomachs and sadly resulted in a number of record shops refusing to stock it. The album was later housed in a sleeve created by long term Dax collaborator Holly Warburton who would go one to frame many of Dax’s subsequent releases.

‘Jesus Egg That Wept followed in 1984, a wonderfully strange record that lyrically attacked white supremacy, slavery and introduced (as then) off beat themes such as ecology, all bubbling along to a very loose gothic beat, though this like Dax herself could never be neatly pigeonholed as goth.

Despite the poetic nature of Dax’s lyrics, her wildly inventive compositions and the plaudits of the underground music press, Dax was unable to break through to a larger audience, regardless she ploughed on and with the 1987 follow up ‘Inky Bloaters’ she revealed a new pop sensibility; but this was a darkly twisted pop that gained her a BBC Radio 1 session courtesy of Janice Long; that said Danielle only chose to play just one track from the album ignoring the more radio friendly ‘Cat House’, and ‘White Knuckle Ride’ for instance.

Clearly someone was paying attention though “Dark Adapted Eye” was released by US major Sire Records back in 1988, a compilation that was basically an expanded edition of the ‘Inky Bloaters’ album.

‘Dark Adapted Eye’ was aimed at the US/Canadian market, and presented Dax’s more commercial material, material that I seem to recall later brought her to the attention of Madonna at one point who had made noises about signing her to her own boutique Maverick Records label.

The album was released on all formats, and subsequently gained multiple European releases, and neatly showcased Dax’s knack for constructing a fine pop tune, albeit one with a dark twist, she was also not afraid to demonstrate her influences, drawing on the fuzzy hooks previously mastered by Marc Bolan.

This remastered edition comes via US based Rubellan Remasters, you get the original album alongside seven bonus tracks including 12″ versions, remixes etc

Opening with ‘Cat House’ a huge underground UK club favourite, a stomp all over your face belter that literally dripped with sexual tension, I guess the lyric “I’m gonna polish up your chrome and shine your treasure”, and “got my pistons pumping, my engine throbbing and pistons jumping” prevented the expected crossover to mainstream channels. Included here is the ‘Overnight Mix’ which was only ever released in the USA on a 12” Maxi Single, its clearly aimed at club DJ’s and allows the track to be effortlessly mixed into a chosen playlist.

‘White Knuckle Ride’ was released as a single in the UK and rightly topped the Indie Charts, Dax sang the Manson inspired lyrics in a salacious manner which doubt had the playlist compilers turn blue with indignation and prevented the track ever gaining a wider audience, similarly with ‘White Knuckle Ride’ which more than adequately lives up to its title.

What is evident is Dax’s ability to straddle both camps, she has not abandoned her experimental roots, yet is able to bring her independent sensibility to a much more commercial field, what is equally evident is just how far ahead Dax’s musical outlook was, tracks like ‘Whistling For His Love’ despite being 30 odd years old sound vibrant, there is a freshness to them, they bristle with energy.

Equally tracks like ‘Whistling For His Love’ which incorporates a semi Eastern/Oriental vibe due to subtle sitar flourishes alongside one of Dax’s more accessible vocal performances, a vocal style then abandoned during the psyche ho-down that is ‘Inky Bloaters’ complete with banjo’s and burnt corn cobs, though this is only a warm up for the hell fire barn raiser of ‘Bad Miss M’ as Dax turns her bile towards the then UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher joyfully phrasing “We’ll all have a party when you are gone, desecrate your grave and sing this song” over of some of the weirdest country you are yet to hear.

This reissue has been delicately remastered, carefully bringing forth hidden sounds and nuances from the original recordings; the sound is vivid and dynamic and will please even those familiar with Dax’s early work.

The track listing differs from the original Sire release; ‘House Cat’, ‘Bed Caves’, and ‘Pariah’ are omitted, to be replaced by bonus tracks which have not been available on CD previously, there is a brief overview of Dax’s career, sadly the original lyric sheet has not been included; that said what you have is an attractive package that has now become readily available in the UK (via Amazon).

Hopefully interest from this release will see the remainder of Dax’s back catalogue become subject to a full reissue campaign.

Track List:

1. Cat-House
2. Big Hollow Man
3. White Knuckle Ride
4. When I Was Young
5. Yummer Yummer Man
6. Fizzing Human Bomb
7. Whistling For His Love
8. Flashback
9. Inky Bloaters
10. Brimstone In A Barren Land
11. Bad Miss ‘M’
12. Touch Piggy’s Eyes

Bonus Tracks:
13. Sleep Has No Property
14. Where The Flies Are
15. Funtime
16. Cold Sweat
17. Cat-House (Overnight Mix)
18. White Knuckle Ride (Remix)
19. Whistling For His Love (12″ Remix)

Danielle Dax online:


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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


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