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Tales From Noise (Part 2: Vicious Circle)

17 Jul

In our job as “creative consultants” at Noise Records we sometimes got detailed instructions for the record covers from the musicians themselves – usually when a mini-LP was planned. Here’s an example of the creative input from the band. This colourful drawing landed on our desk in September 1984:

It came with an “explanation”: “Lightning strikes into the devil’s horn. The devil glows. Lightning is diverted through the devil’s tail and discharges into an explosion. The band logo has to look metallic, like steel, you know…”

As we were too lazy to make a flashy airbrush painting (and Karl “you guys will be my ruin someday” the label boss wouldn’t pay for it) we proposed a comic-style drawing – it was the time of magazines like “Metal Hurlant” and “Heavy Metal”, after all. And we had a few entertaining days digging out some old Jack Kirby comic books.

So this is what hit the shops in fall that year – in a glorious, glossy 12-inch sleeve:

Another NITS SET?

21 Feb

In a letter from E. Nitsfans were asked to compile a set of their favorite Nits tracks – 3 discs with 60 minutes each. Here’s mine:

NitsPix 1


  1. Yes Or No (Single Version) | “Nits” era 1977
  2. Looking For A Friend | “Nits” era 1978
  3. Some Other Night | “Tent” era 1979
  4. Hook Of Holland | “Tent” album 1979
  5. Office At Night | “New Flat” album 1980
  6. A Statue | “New Flat” album 1980
  7. Red Tape | “Work” album 1981
  8. Empty Room | “Work” album 1981
  9. Spirits Awake | “Omsk” album 1983
  10. A Touch Of Henry Moore | “Omsk” album 1983
  11. Nescio (Alternative Mix) | “Omsk” era 1983
  12. Sketches Of Spain | “Kilo” mini-album 1983
  13. Dapper Street | “Kilo” mini-album 1983
  14. Woman Cactus | “Adieu Sweet Bahnhof” album 1984
  15. Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof | “Adieu Sweet Bahnhof” album 1984
  16. Close Up The Honky Tonks | “Adieu Sweet Bahnhof” era 1984

NitsPix 2

BOY | From HENK to dAdAdA:

  1. Under A Canoe | “Henk” album 1986
  2. Home Before Dark | “Henk” album 1986
  3. Cabins | “Henk” album 1986
  4. House On House | “In The Dutch Mountains” era 1987
  5. Two Skaters | “In The Dutch Mountains” album 1987
  6. In The Dutch Mountains | “In The Dutch Mountains” album 1987
  7. The Train | “Hat” mini-album 1988
  8. Boy In A Tree | “Giant Normal Dwarf” album 1990
  9. Around The Fish | “Giant Normal Dwarf” album 1990
  10. Giant Normal Dwarf | “Giant Normal Dwarf” album 1990
  11. Fire In My Head | “Ting” album 1992
  12. Moved By Her | “Ting” era 1992
  13. Yellow Boat | “Ting” album 1992
  14. Sometime In Winter (Version) | “dAdAdA” era 1994
  15. Fishes | “dAdAdA” era 1994
  16. Dreams | “dAdAdA” album 1994

NitsPix 3


  1. Alankomaat | “Alankomaat” era 1998
  2. Three Sisters | “Alankomaat” album 1998
  3. Soul Man | “Alankomaat” album 1998
  4. The Strawberry Girl | “Wool” era 2000
  5. 26A (Clouds In The Sky) (Remix) | “Wool” era 2001
  6. Welcome Back | “1974” album 2003
  7. Chain Of Ifs | “1974” album 2003
  8. The Rising Sun | “Les Nuits” album 2005
  9. The Milkman | “Les Nuits” album 2005
  10. Five & Dime | “Doing The Dishes” album 2008
  11. In Dutch Fields | “Doing The Dishes” album 2008
  12. Departure | “Strawberry Wood” album 2009
  13. Jisp | “Strawberry Wood” album 2009
  14. Return | “Strawberry Wood” album 2009
  15. Schwebebahn | “Malpensa” album 2012
  16. Bad Government And Its Effects On Town And Country (Perquisite Mix) | “Malpensa” era 2012


11 Jan

Cover1977 mini

It’s here!

11 Oct

The big “Black Europe” box finally arrived at our office!

Black Europe

Black Diorama 1Black Diorama 2

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Black Europe Poster

13 Jul

Black Europe Poster

Announcing Black Europe

Skiffle Goes Techno!

6 Feb

Well, not really, but while putting together the “History Of Skiffle” book for a new Bear Family box set (out next week!) we came across these pictures of a Meccano “Skiffle Group”. A reprint of the full 2-page construction guide is included in the book.


Meccano Skiffle2 Meccano Skiffle1



The Bear Family box includes 6 CDs with more than 170 songs – all the hits, the greatest performances, and lots of forgotten gems (including the complete legendary album by the Eden Skiffle Group which was only issued as a set of flexi-discs).


Sun Records

29 Nov

Here’s Hank Davis, one of the three Sun Records experts who are producing Bear Family’s trio of box sets (coming next year). Hank is checking proofs of his own Bear Family platter, ‘One Way Track’ – available now at the record shack round the corner from you.

To give you some idea of the efforts that went into these projects, here’s the story how they tracked down Hannah Fay. During the research for a previous Bear Family project, a tape box with two songs turned up at the Sun Records vaults. Over to Hank:

“Now we were faced with identifying and finding the singer. Surprisingly, her sides had escaped the Sun reissue boom and her name appears in no Sun discography.

Who was Hannah Fay? The best clue we had was an obvious connection to Biloxi, Mississippi. One of her songs (The Miracle Of You) was known to us. It was composed by Biloxi songwriter/producer Pewee Maddux. Ernie Chaffin, also from the Biloxi/Gulfport area had recorded a version of Miracle for Sun in June, 1958, which was released on Sun 320 the following year.  Also, two records by Hannah Fay (or Hanna Faye, as she had been billed) appeared on the Fine label in 1956 (Fine 1008 – It Pays To Be True / Easy To Remember; Fine 1012 – Oh Why / Searching For Someone Like You). Fine Records was owned by three Biloxi residents: Yankee Barhonovich, Marion ‘Prof’ Carpenter, and Pee Wee Maddux. Unfortunately, all three principals are deceased so I turned to their living relatives for information. Winona Carpenter, Prof’s widow who still administers Singing River Music, remembered Hannah Fay as a “very attractive, slim brunette.” That was it. Encouraging, but no last name, and no forwarding address. Sid Maddux, Pewee’s brother, thought he recalled a singer named Hannah Fay, although several phone calls and interviews later it was clear that Maddux had ‘Ann Raye’ in mind. It was an understandable mistake. Ann Raye? Hannah Fay? Two women singers, approximately the same age, both with a Biloxi connection, and both of whom had recorded for Fine records. (Ann Raye had also recorded for Starday and Decca). And, it turns out, Ann Raye was label-owner Yankee Barhonovich’s daughter. Ann Raye, who still lives and works in Biloxi, could not initially recall anything about Hannah Fay. About a week later she recalled a young singer whom her dad was very excited about. “In 1957, I married and gave up my career. The book was closed on me so they were picking up on someone else. I remember a girl. It was probably Hannah Fay. Daddy said she had a great voice and was going to go places.”

At this point in the search, I enlisted the aid of a local reporter from Mississippi’s ‘The Sun Herald.’ Kat Bergeron was a seasoned newspaper journalist who knew the area and, in her words, “loved a history mystery.” She had found one. Then we got our first break. Pee Wee’s daughter told us (through her uncle Sid) that she recalled Hannah Fay. Ms. Maddux confirmed that Hannah was indeed attractive, slim and brunette, and then – for the first time – she provided us with a last name: Harger. This began a series of phone calls to Hargers in Mississippi. There are a lot of them. Some of them had kin in Florida and Indiana. They had to be called as well. All to no avail. We learned that a woman named Hannah Harger invented the screen door in 1887. After that, the trail ran cold. Finally, with less than a week to go before deadline, we played our trump card. Kat Bergeron wrote a special column for the Sunday paper. ‘Hannah Fay, Where Are You?’ it cried out to the residents of six southern Mississippi counties. We figured if we didn’t have a reply within 24 hours, the search was – for all intents and purposes – over.

On Sunday night, the telephone rang. A cousin of Hannah Fay’s who had never met her saw the piece in the paper. He could hardly believe it. He dug out Hannah’s telephone number in Baton Rouge where she had spent the past 42 years living quietly as a housewife, and called to give her the news. Then the dam broke, with phone calls flying almost non-stop between Canada, Mississippi and Louisiana. Finally, Hannah Fay got to tell her story. “I was just a kid. I started singing when I was about 11 with my brother Buddy’s band. He played steel guitar. I remember when I was quite young we all made a trip to Nashville and appeared at the Corral, a western apparel store that was owned by Hank Williams and his wife. I still have an old newspaper clipping about that. I made my records when I was no more than 16. By 1960, that chapter of my life was over. I got married and I stopped singing. My whole life changed. I put Hannah Fay away somewhere in an album. That was the end of it. I became a housewife and a mother. I have two sons and seven grandchildren. When anybody refers to me as Hannah Fay, I know they knew me from before 1960.”

Read more in the book accompanying ‘The Sun Rock Box’!