Colors Out Of Time – Rock Section

Colors Out Of Time – Rock Section // Mambos Girl Mambo, Dancing With Joy (Monster In Orbit Records) 1981. The first song on this 7inch is great snarly new wave post-punk from Manchester, UK that none other than Julian Cope considers “a classic song” that “deserves more attention than it got back in 1981.” Unfortunately, Julian knows very little about the band and if Julian Cope knows very little about a band then you can certainly expect Joe Stumble to know even less. Even though I know nothing about the origins or background of Colors Out Of Time, I do agree with Cope’s assessment of the music. This is primo shit. Maybe a tad late in the “style section” since by 1981, UK post-punk sounded a lot less like this and a lot more like Haircut 100, but the fickle nature of trends become obscured over time and the musical cream rises to the top. This is why nobody is rocking Phil Collins anymore. So from the 20/20 perspective, Colors Out Of Time sounds precisely in the moment. Rock Section does (as Mr Cope points out) sound like early Comsat Angels. But I think it is even punchier and more raw than the Angels. Maybe I should re-visit the early Comsat Angels. Mambo Girls Mambo is my least favourite and the most dark-wave. But it is still pretty impressive and reminds me a bit of Pop Group. The only song on the B-Side is entitled Dancing With Joy. The title is ironic. It sounds like The Stranglers, The Mekons and Wah! at their most downbeat. My theory is that this band must have gotten lost in the shuffle in Manchester due to the fact that at this time, Manchester was on fire with great music. Cos I’ve seen 24 Hour Party People. So I know what I am talking about. Right?

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21 Responses to Colors Out Of Time – Rock Section

  1. Mark says:

    An obscure tidbit, “Rock Section” was a live staple for late Opal and early Mazzy Star. Thanks for the post.

  2. oldskool says:

    Thanks a lot for this one. Well, with all respect to you and to Mr Cope: Rock Section has very little to do with the early Comsat Angels. The rhythm guitar comes a little close in the beginning maybe. At 2:54 it all of a sudden (and without a musical reason) sounds much more like the Chameleons. The lead guitar plays in a way hardly heard in any new wave/post punk track; to me this is quite old-fashioned, more 70s rock like. The singer sounds much more like Tom Verlaine than like Stephen Fellows. The song is by far not as dark as the Comsat Angels’ early stuff. It is by far more a repetitive “rocker” than what I would call a composition. The overall feeling is completely different. To me, the first Comsat Angels is pure genius compared to this average track. — This is not to attack you or else, but to express my astonishment in what you and Mr Cope hear in this track. Also I would like to hear from others what they think.

  3. Joe Stumble says:

    No offense taken! I would be interested to hear if other people hear a resemblance. However, I wonder how many of us there are that actually know at this point what we are even talking about!

  4. Brian C. says:

    Oi! Good choice for a post mate. I don’t know about “oldskool” and his sophmorik opinions – sounds like a thirteen year old boy. (He wants to hear what others thing, well, as we sez in West Portland: WANKER! “Tom Verlaine” my arse! “Rocker” in quote, what a geek! Chameleons? You a college radio DJ or somethin’? Sounds like you worship Comsat Angels, found this site by googling their name, and are OUTRAGED anyone would compare this band of “nobodies” to your male idols. And when you mention the first Comsat Angels, do you mean “Red Planet” or “Waiting for a Miracle”? BE CLEAR! Mssrs. Stumble or Cope are too polite to take you to school, but I’m not, cuz its wankers like you who tend to find jobs as music biz stringers and since the next generation of them grew up on the internet with no understanding of CONTEXT and HISTORY it’ll be even worse. So in the words of the Fits, “Listen to me! I’ve got something to say!”

    “Rock Section” is a rowdier bash than what the Comsats used to do but it’s got a real similar drum style, tribal/industrial. But atop this the rest of the band was calling for the Fun House (rather than aimin to be the poor man’s/pretentious man’s Cure, which is what the Comsats devolved into.) Notice the labels of the Monsters in Orbit records use TVEYE as their catalog prefix.

    You’d think Cope would be all over that, but checking the byline of the review, its by one of his cronies. If Cope DID write about them I’m sure he’d have more to say, because Monsters in Orbit was a LIVERPOOL label. Colours themselves moved to Manchester, which isn’t far from Liverpool though their music scenes were very different. Liverpool was friendlier to psychedelia, pop-art, and humor in general, and “Rock Section”s blotter-head psych fit better there than in Manchester, which after the death of Ian Curtis, the breakup of the Buzzcocks, and the exile of the Fall was in the beginning of its’ long decent into dancefloor decadence.

    Colours out of Time was the most active live band of the Monsters in Orbit micro-scene and the b-sides are a like a tale of two cities. “Mambo Girls Mambo” is sort of a Dislocation Dance/Cramps Frankenstein, which takes a couple to spins to prove that it works. “Dancing with Joy” is more what you’d expect from Manchester, or Sheffield’s Angels. “Dancing with Joy” is perhaps the ultimate C-list Factory song title Crispy Ambulance never came up with. The groove is solid but the vocals are bad. Still it the rises above in the instrumental passages. Including something as “old fashioned” as a guitar solo in ’81 ensured they be written off as “provincials” or “students” by the entire Manchester scene. After Ian Curtis died it seemed like everyone at the Hacienda forgot the irony of “Dance to the Radio”. (Same syndrome took over their sister disco, the Mudd Club in NYC). Every hipster has two Achilles heels: body shame and money/mainstream popularity shame. Jaded hipsters are embarrassed of the uncouth behavior of their rockin’ days, and take to disco dancing to remain “sexy”. They also get bitter about being big fish in tiny ponds, especially in a time and place like ’81-’82 Manchester. Everything that made it England’s 2nd city musically was dead or dying or gone. Ian Curtis dead, Buzzcocks split, Magazine split, Slaughter and the Dogs gone metal, Distractions destroyed by major label, The Fall in self-imposed exile, Rabid, TJM, and Object labels dissolved, New Hormones on its last legs, unable to promote their great band, Ludus, past obscurity and local hostility. Diagram Brothers, same story; New Hormone’s other big hope Dislocation Dance slicked up impressively, but split for Rough Trade. Their friends the Mudhutters tried to meet the demon disco halfway and instead squandered their album’s potential. The Passage, once as atmospheric as Joy Division and confrontational as the Fall, burnt out after their 2nd album and tried to go disco; unfortunately they had a horrible hit call “XXYO” which spoiled the awesome memory of their earlier work. A Certain Ratio, the party most responsible for the whole Manchester dance craze, slicked up like rivals DD, but missed the point that dancing is not improved by depression, and lost the churning noise that made them once so compelling. By ’82 Factory was the only significant indie in Manchester to have survived. Looking back their catalog seems weak in comparison to New Hormones; both were centered around the success of one band (Buzzcocks vs. Joy Division) but NH’s stable was wide-ranging and inspired; they were short on funds but allowed their bands to develop over multiple releases. Factory however was reliant on Joy Division and then totally reliant on New Order. They signed some other great bands early on (OMD, Distractions) but lost them to majors after a single. Factory became more famous for its producer, and seemed to think promoting themselves as a musical “assembly line” would be hip. Instead it made them reliant on 3rd rate postpunk bands (Crispy Ambulance anyone?) and minimal, repetitive, drum-machine driven stuff that Hannett could tinker with. By the time they finally had another act with a media profile (the Happy Mondays, as much a joke as Crispy but at least an admitted one) Hannett was so insane they had to hire John Cale to produce. The hippie-disco Madchester scene now looks about as dated as a Cosby Show sweater. But it proved the same blokes could sell you fake-happy as well as fake-sad. If there was any irony in the label’s name seems they forgot the irony in Ian’s prophetic “dance to the radio” lyric.

    And this was precisely the moment the Liverpool aesthetic, building all the while in Manchester’s shadow and centered around the Zoo label, explodes worldwide. The Teardrop Explodes quickly did as their name suggests, but Cope as a solo artist even managed to break America. Like Superman, Zoo transformed into Korova, and armed with Echo and the Bunnymen and the Sound built a new guitar band aesthetic for the entire U.K. (their success prepped an industry ready to hand the future to the disco computers to get behind U2 and the Smiths, the last semi-credible band from Manchester. I guess the scenerio I’ve described explains why they wanted to “hang the D.J.”

    Anyway that’s the tale of two cities and the (I think) interesting context that gives significance to this record and this label. I’ve got four Monsters in Orbit singles (“Rock Section” and their janglier followup; a sort of Scritti Politti thing called Bee Vamp; 10,000 Electric Guitars who sound like a bedroom version of the Cure circa “Charlotte Sometimes”). I know of a fifth and it looks very promising: Doctor Filth “Horse” b/w “Slaughter House”. I’m imagining a cross between Sam Gopal and early Foetus, or something.

  5. Joe says:

    Jaysus! Great comments Brian!

  6. gef the talking mongoose says:

    Been a big fan of this one ever since coming across it in the singles bin on the front desk at the old Roads to Moscow in Phoenix (as opposed to the somewhat longer-lived Roads to Moscows in Tempe & Tucson …) circa late ’81. As soon as I’ve become alert enough to read through Brian C’s comments I might have something to add … or maybe not.

    I do have at least 2 of the Monsters in Orbit 7″s he mentions, though — Colors out of Time’s “She Spins” (which I only looked for for about 20 years, after seeing it cited as forthcoming in an old Masterbag; for the longest time I suspected the record never actually came out) & the 10,000 Electric Guitars 45. The Doctor Filth single has been on my want list for some years now, as well.

  7. Brian C. says:

    Thanks Joe. Ever since you posted the Sleepers’ EP this has been my favorite blog, cuz it’s guided by taste not genre.

    Definitely check out the God’s Gift CD Chuck Warner just put out (if you haven’t already). Besides other unreleased stuff, there’s a track called “Jaqueline’s Admission” that sounds like John Cale reading the case history of a schizophrenic over a 1979 Fall track. SO INTENSE. Another band people miss is The Passage. The 2 EPs and LP they did for Object and their 2nd album and attendant singles are militant intellectual progressive synth-punk for the 21st century.

    I could send you all or any Object stuff, or the Dining Out stuff (one of the best DIY labels for sure) if you don’t have it. PS: do you have that record Squirrel Bait did before they were Squirrel Bait? Its on the Kugelberg list . . . the Happy Cadavers. Since your a midwest boy I thought you might have it. If so, I do request.

  8. gef the talking mongoose says:

    I still need to the that God’s Gift CD a good playing. Bought it purely because the used “Discipline” 7″ I picked up back in the early ’80s was so beat up that I’d never heard it without at least a couple of skips early on … Great, great song.

    While I’m at it, I also need to go delving into my vinyl to see what Passage stuff I do (at least 3 LPs, I’m pretty sure, including the apparently not-that-easy-to-find For All & None LP … the oddest things used to show up used at the music place across the graveyard from my old house in North Little Rock) & don’t have, & add an LTM CD reissue or two accordingly.

  9. oldskool says:

    Brian, I do not know your personal problems, but you must have a lot. Just a few facts: I am 48, I do not worship the Comsat Angels nor anyone else, I follow this blog via RSS. So you just uttered loads of shit. Maybe part of the problem is that I am German and do not speak English perfectly. But of course having another opinion does not give anyone a reason to offend others in such a primitive way. So go to hell asap. Joe, if you let one commenter attack another in such a way, I must say that is not good blogging. Bye.

  10. Joe says:

    Hey Old Skool. Brian’s comments to you in paragraph one were outta line. i got caught up in all the historical info he dropped (which was impressive) and assumed you would address him (as you did). Dont abandon last days! We appreciate your comments!

  11. oldskool says:

    Joe, I will keep on following your blog. Just could not let that dirt leave unreplied. And I am convinced there is this one case when you should interfere, and that is one reader attacks the other, even in a less disgusting way. Just my opinion.

    Too bad there is no replies from people that *listen* and speak about their feelings and associations instead of telling what they happen to *know* and uttering age-old cliches and prejudices (“poor man’s Cure” etc.).

    Keep on the good work!

  12. Brian C. says:

    Oldskool,

    I’m really, honestly sorry and embarrassed. First, I’m damn stupid for assuming you were the mythological stock character of the internet – the 13 year old boy – when you’re a German who probably remembers “Painter Man” on TV and was probably buying Zick Zack singles while I was in my baby bonnet. Now I’m just another ugly American who uses the greatest tech advance of our day as a whoopie cushion. While posting I thought it’d be clear I was just jokin’ round but sometimes nothing is more annoying than an insulting joke delivered in apparent smugness and though you’ll have to take my word for it I FEEL LIKE SHIT and it’s well and good that I do.

    I post on a lot of blogs where flaming each other is the order of the day so it’s become second nature. Call it the internet syndrome. I’m 32 so we’re all old enough to remember what’d happen I mouthed off like that in real life. I was just reading some old Search and Destroys and compared to typical internet manners the punks were idealistic and even sorta sweet. Not even Lee Ving was as much of a knee-jerk asshole as I am when I boot up the internet during the two or three days a week I’m in an argumentative mood.

    I DO like a good argument, and harshness usually doesn’t bother me, but re-reading that post there was nothing constructive about it. Even my “Factory sucks; New Hormones rules” makes me sound like a crank rather than a music fan. As you guessed, I HAVE had personal problems and while I’m healthier now but always playing catch-up and am therefore alienated (permanently?) so I compulsively take the underdog’s spot and defend it with cheap brinksmenship I probably thought was “funny” at the time. Arguing a minor league band like Colours out of Time – while their micro-scene is one of the dozens I obsess over – versus say the first two Comsats albums is not worth the sandbags. Ironically, or rather hypocritically, “Home is the Range” was a frequent opener back before my heroin addiction drove all my bandmates away (yeah I’m quit but that shit stunted my maturity something fierce). The “Poor Man’s Cure” line I DO think is relevant starting with the Fiction LP (which was of course the Cure’s label) but one could use that line on a lot of bands (and the way I really feel is the Cure is the rich man’s Comsat Angels, even 7 Day Weekend has its moments). Anyway the autistic encyclopedia I call a brain would like very much for you and Joe to accept my apologies and make this sinking feeling go away. Oldskool, if you read this and you want to discuss this further, leave a note and I’ll give you my email or something. And by all means if you or Joe want rips from the large collection I mostly bought with dirty money (not bragging here, I’ve done time and now I’m on SSD so I don’t wanna come off as a smooth criminal) . . . I’ve got everything on the Heartwork label for example (except three singles) and I’d happily send you that if it’ll make up for it. Otherwise next time you’re in Portland, Oregon you can kick me in the face.

    Sincerely
    Brian C.

  13. oldskool says:

    Glad I looked at this post again today as I cannot follow the particular comments of one entry and do not want to get a steady RSS feed of all comments on your blog. Or do I miss some possibility, Joe?

    Brian,

    I am glad you wrote this. I can see how you came to writing the first comment. It’s so funny and stupid in the end to have arguments like this with people you never saw and do not know anything about. But there is this special psychologic situation – similar to driving a car – that wants to make you do it. (When I just re-read your comment I saw you said the same thing in different words.) I had some ugly arguments on the internet myself and feel as embarrassed about them as you do about ours.

    About the joke: No, I did not get that part. So much for people who understand English to a certain extent but are not native speakers. (End of educational section :) )

    About the music: When I listened to the title song for the second time (still not liking it too much) I could hardly hear a Verlaine-like voice myself. But the rest I said is still true for me.

    About the poor man’s Cure: I know many bands that tried to sound like the Cure. For example Echo & The Bunnymen, especially on their second album. The Comsat Angels, as opposed, sound completely different to me. Much more *honestly* dark and depressive than the Cure, if there is a comparison at all. Btw, I am not too fond of the Red Planet EP, only like their first three albums. My favourite song by far has always been Ju Ju Money in its original version on Bouquet Of Steel which I was proud to own in pretty blue vinyl …

    For me, there is no need to further discuss this thing. I appreciate your offer but have everything I want (and much more).

    So stop feeling bad as it doesn’t help anyone, o.k.? I am not good at kicking into faces, so what about buying me a coffee next time I’m in Portland, Oregon?

    Best,
    oldskool

  14. Joe says:

    Last Days of Man on Earth brings people together!

  15. Steve says:

    GTA put out a great CD compilation a few years ago:

    http://coloursoutoftime.blogspot.com/2004/12/colours-out-of-time.html

  16. Jungle Face Jake says:

    I was actually a member of the Colours during ’81 and ’82 so just thought I’d add a few things for the record. Firstly it’s great that people are still listening to the band now. There was a compilation album released in 2003 titled ‘Stroll Upon The Wall Of Sound’ on Grand Theft Audio – I think it might still be available on mail order from Bomp records? This album featured all of the studio recordings from 1980 t0 1982 including the two Monsters In Orbit singles, the John Peel session from 1981 and other unreleased studio sessions.

    The band originated from Crewe, Cheshire and started life as TV Eye in the late 70′s before evolving into The Colours Out Of Time in 1980. Despite critical acclaim the band never broke into the mainstream post-punk scene, largely due to lack of management and an uncompromising attitude which meant we were always considered to be outsiders on the Manchester/Liverpool post-punk axis. Also musically we were a lot more retro than our contemporaries such as the Teardrop Explodes, Bunnymen, Joy Division etc. and wore our influences (Stooges, Byrds, Love, Television, The Doors etc.) on our sleeves.

    The band broke up in late 1982. To mark the occassion three of us went on a magic mushroom trip in the grounds of Keele University. It was a full moon that night and as folklore had it that both Moby Grape and Television broke up on a full moon we thought it was fitting that we did too. Ironically our second Mosters In Orbit single ‘She Spins/The Ocean’ was finally released after the band had split and immediately got rave reviews in the British music press, but it was too late to save the band from extinction.

    Monsters In Orbit was an indie label based in Manchester which also released material by One Million Fuzztone Guitars, Dr Filth and if I remember rightly the first single by Carmel.

  17. DC says:

    I have that CD from GTA and it is fantastic, I’d think of Joy division sound with Swell maps’ DIY and vocals alot but that just crossed my mind just now…

  18. B.C. Miller says:

    There’s a CD? OH MY GOD I NEED IT RIGHT NOW INSIDE ME!

  19. jon says:

    I saw the Colours at Crewe and Alsager college in the early 80s and they were really, really excellent live. I’ve been carrying a silent sad post-punk flag for Dancing with Joy (in particular) ever since, though on record I always found Mambo Girls and Rock Section a little too, well, rockist… what a great soing this is…

  20. What a fantastic find, if ever there was a great lost post-punk psych band (yes it’s a genre in my house) it’s these. They were a fantastic band. Thanks for posting.

  21. long time no speak, Joe and Last Days. I missed this post and it’s extremely entertaining and informative comment section first time around. However, I just spend the weekend with Happy Refugees (latest release on Acute Records, as you probably know by now), and they spent a good amount of time talking about Colors Out of Time, as they were involved in some similar Alsager scenes and Rock Section was a big classic for them.

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