Saturday, September 23, 2006

Clever Trevor

I'm in shock. No, not Zandra Rhodes' appearance on The Archers. The sad news that reached me today: Output Recordings is throwing in the towel. Why do my favourite record labels keep crapping out on me? Just as Mike D did with Grand Royal at the end of the 20th century, its owner (Trevor "Action" Jackson) has pulled the plug on Output after many years of setting the musical agenda, and when it was seemingly on the brink of attaining mainstream success. What will happen to artists like Colder, Five Mic Cluster and Mu remains to be seen.

Though it was loved by Hoxton fashionistas, and seemingly soundtracked every style bar in EC2 and N1, Output's appeal was international in scope, taking in artists such as the aforementioned Colder (from France), Dead Combo (Finland), and Von Spar (Germany). It was equally adept at digging out forgotten artists (Yello, Pankow) and re-releasing their more obscure recordings as it was at foregrounding new talent like Circlesquare and Tall Blonde.

The reasons for its demise aren't totally clear, though Trevor hints at squabbles with artists, money problems and disillusionment with the industry in a statement released to Pitchfork. One silver lining to this particular cloud is that Jackson will release the final tracks recorded for Output as free MP3s at the label's webpage for one month from Oct 1st.

Like Factory (whom Trevor acknowledged many times), Crepuscule, and Blue Note, the packaging of Output's, ahem, output usually matched the quality of the music it contained. In fact, graphic design was Jackson's bread and butter; he reportedly never made a penny from Output, relying instead on money made from design work for BMW, Mambo and sundry record labels, as well as from his DJing and production work (check out Trevor's personal page below, and click on the "portfolio" link).

So what of the music, then? While mainly trading in whip-smart electro and dirty funk, Jackson had an eclectic enough ear not to simply sign up dance music's usual supects. The Playgroup album that Output released is a good example of this. Though few eyebrows will be raised at the inclusion of Peaches as one of the album's special guests, purists might well baulk at the appearance of Roddy Frame, Edwyn Collins, Happy Mondays' Rowetta, Blurt's Ted Milton, Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, Shinehead, Davy DMX, Dennis Bovell and KC Flightt, all of whom contributed to the disc, though sadly not all on the same track. The album's samples, too, came from unusual sources, including Paul Haig, possibly a first for Paul.

A couple of tasters of the label's musical policy appear below. Gramme's post-punk funk appeared in 1999, pre-dating Simon Reynolds et al by a good four years, Ruede Hagelstein's Sweaty Balls deserves a mention for the title alone, Rekindle's Ice Skating Girl seemingly samples New Order's Temptation, and Playgroup's Too Much is sonic alchemy using two parts Songs To Remember to one part Duck Rock.

Download Gramme Like You

Download Ruede Hagelstein Sweaty Balls

Download Rekindle Ice Skating Girl (Linus Loves mix)

Download Playgroup Too Much

Download Playgroup Number One (Black Strobe mix) (sorry--all deleted Feb 2007!)

Buy Output's remaining stock at half price here

Hugs From The Honeys Output tribute

TAPE's blog on Output

Trevor Jackson personal page


pher said...


thanks for the link as well.

irkthepurists said...

No problemo...