Various Artists ‘Cheap Tricks In A Box – Dining Out Records 79-82’ – album review

Various Artists ”ËœCheap Tricks In A Box’ (Dining Out/Cherry Red)
CD/DL
Released 18th June 2012

“It had to be part of ”Ëœthe plan’ (a scatter gun list on the back of a Corn Flakes box pinned to the wall)”

Between 1979 and 1982 Dining Out Records was formed, they released some classic singles, they even stormed the indie charts, then despite the injection of some business acumen and more importantly some cash they ultimately collapsed. Dining Out left behind a string of 7” singles, and it’s this legacy that has been lovingly gathered and packaged on this CD compilation.

The tale of Dining Out applied to so many similar era labels, formed on a whim following the sudden rush of punk, the notion that “I can do that” ”“ the environment was different; crucially, people actually bought records, people were excited about hearing new music, people were energised by the independent music scene, we thought we could beat the system ”“ this was when independent wasn’t just a particular music style. As such some independent labels gained sales of 10,000 and upwards for each release, transfer those sales to 2012 and Dining Out would have been scoring Top 10 hits on a regular basis.

With extensive sleeve notes written by Dining Out founder Dave Henderson who had his own band Disco Zombies ”“ the Zombies didn’t have a hope in hell of getting a record out via the established route so Henderson planned to self release, a chance meeting with The Adicts and we are now some 32 years later provided with an insight into how Dining Out were able to release such classics as ”ËœLunch With The Adicts’ EP ”“ though bizarrely we only get two ”ËœEasy Way Out/Organized Confusion’ from the four original tracks ”“ Henderson recounts how after Rough Trade took 250 copies various members of Disco Zombies and 23 Skidoo were to be found hand finishing sleeves to satisfy the orders…the plan had been formed.

Various Artists ‘Cheap Tricks In A Box – Dining Out Records 79-82’ – album review

Following this the releases came out fast and furious; Insex ”ËœFractured Vision’ was followed by The Occult Chemistry self titled ”ËœEP’ and then the money ran out ”“ people just didn’t realise that distributors did not pay up front for your product, so your single may have been played on John Peel, may have shifted 1000’s but the bank balance showed a big fat zero. In a stroke of genius Dining Out concocted “another plan” ”“ they flipped the unsold copies of a Andy Steppes single had coloured the labels, battered a Xerox machine and retiled it The Fifty Fantastic’s and were moving again. After investment from a friend of the Yellow Magic Orchestra ”“ who used Christine Keeler as a bank reference releases from Normil Hawaiians and The Sinatra’s followed.

The labels was eclectic in its tastes, what we get are captured moments at the start of the post punk era, musicians keen to break out of the rigid structure that punk had descended into; these are documents of experimentation, how else do you explain Behaviour Red’s ”ËœKe Ke Ke Ke Ya’ ”“ this was actually Bertie Marshall AKA Berlin from the legendary ‘Bromley Contingent’. The album is brimming with new wave artiness from primal electronic melodies to unsettling angular pop, dishevelled funk riffs, cheap drum-machines and of the time analogue synths, and should be celebrated for it.

Henderson also cough’s that having recorded, he then rejected The Adicts follow up, I wonder what ever happened to them??

Various Artists ‘Cheap Tricks In A Box – Dining Out Records 79-82’ – album review

Eventually Henderson’s efforts were rewarded (sort of) his own Disco Zombies put out their ”ËœHere Come The Buts’ single. Dining Out secured a decent distribution deal, but that removed the DIY element so enjoyed by the label, add to this the mounting debt and shortly after the plug was pulled.

The sleeve notes tell us that The Adicts EP sells on eBay for £300, 23 Skidoo went onto major label success, The Mysterons are now Hit By A Rock who only last month released an album (LTW review), and as Henderson himself ponders “What did I learn from all this manic activity? Music is best, for sure”

This compilation is a wonderful way to get hold of some of these ridiculously obscure releases, and is a fascinating insight into an era of music and the buzz that surrounded it, that I doubt will be repeated.

Track List:

1. Easy Way Out – The Adicts
2. Organised Confusion – The Adicts
3. Here Come The Buts – Disco Zombies
4. Fractured Vision – The Insex
5. Water – Occult Chemistry
6. Fire – Occult Chemistry
7. God’s Got Religion – The 50 Fantastics
8. Happy Feeling – The Sinatras
9. Business Sense – The Mysterons
10. Performance – Club Tango
11. Brighton Rock – Twilight Zoners
12. New Scars – Disco Zombies
13. The Beat Goes On – Normil Hawaiians
14. Jane Fonda – New Age
15. Get The Picture – Club Tango
16. That Shape – The Sinatras
17. Changing Trains – Kan Kan
18. Living For Now – New Age
19. Susie’s Party – Farm Life
20. Disco Laurels – The Swinging Laurels
21. Death Laurels – The Swinging Laurels
22. Ke Ke Ke Ke Ya – Behaviour Red
23. I Can’t Remember – Spit Like Paint

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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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