artist: Dave Ball
title: In Strict Tempo
label: Some Bizarre
personnel: Gini Hewes (violin, viola), Ann Stephenson (violin), Gregg Parker (guitar), Bill Clarke (slide guitar), Gary Barnacle (saxophone), John Darling (trombone), Genesis P. Orridge (vocals), Viginia Astley (flute), Gavin Friday (vocals), Dave Ball (all other instruments)
tracklisting: mirrors, sincerity, passion of a primitive, strict tempo, man in the man, only time, life of love, rednecks, american stories
the early eighties were of course littered with synthpop duos, few as revered as Soft Cell. but whilst Marc Almond went on to wider, if not greater, success, the remarkable talents of Dave Ball remain relatively forgotten.
with an all star cast that includes Genesis P. Orridge and The Virgin Prunes' Gavin Friday, it's obvious that Ball's only solo album is moulded in much the same sleazy vein as Soft Cell, albeit a more layered, loungy and avant garde incarnation. take away the gorgeous strings and you'll find that 'Mirrors' is quietly reminiscent (and every bit as evocative) as Bowie's 'Warszawa'. elsewhere, P. Orridge gives a typically disinterested perfomance on the potential pop of 'Sincerity' and 'Man in the Man', although far superior is Friday's turn on 'Strict Tempo'. accompanied by a twee military drum machine beat and ominous synth stabs, Friday's sinister snarl sounds undeniably awesome. even Ball himself can be heard singing on side two. of paticluar interest is the hillbilly synthpop of 'Rednecks', which is in equal parts charming and utterly bizarre (anoraks will note that Ball scored a huge hit with a track called 'Swamp Thing' a decade later as part of The Grid). and continuing the trans-Atlantic theme, the cool electro-funk symphonics of 'American Stories' finishes things with another twist on an already twisted album.
strictly Ball-room indeed.
erik - www.cultwithnoname.com