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Colin Newman is best known as singer and chief songwriter with the ground breaking post-punk band WIRE. From their internationally influential 1977 debut ‘Pink Flag’ right up to 2016’s critical acclaimed ‘Nocturnal Koreans’, Newman and Wire have always been at music’s cutting edge.

Throughout 1980-82, Newman released a series of solo work. From sound-tracking The Silence of the Lambs to being covered by This Mortal Coil, this solo work sought a place in history in it’s own right and has been unavailable for many years.

Today we announce the reissue of three of Colin Newman’s classic solo records, to be made available in on October 28th via his own new imprint Sentient Sonics (originally released via Beggars Banquet/ 4AD):

  • A-Z’ (1980)
  • Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish’  (1981)
  • Not To’ (1982)

Taken from ‘A-Z’‘Order for Order (Riverside Demos)’ is a fine example of what to expect from the reissues.

The ‘A-Z/ Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish/Not To’ vinyl release will consist of the 3 re-mastered original albums, released as three single albums. The ‘A-Z/ Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish/Not To’ CD release will consist of the 3 re-mastered original albums, each accompanied by a companion CD of extra tracks, B-sides & demos – many of which have never been released before, which will be released as 3 double-CDs.

Pre-order here

colin-newmann-a-zCOLIN NEWMAN – ‘A-Z
Single Vinyl (SS01 LP) // Double CD (SS01/02 CD)
In 1980, Newman released his debut solo album ‘A-Z’, which, as the title suggests, offers up a wide spectrum of musical approaches and sees multiple envelopes being pushed. Now, for the first time, the album has been completely re-mastered, and is augmented with an additional disc of bonus tracks, including out-takes, alternate versions, B-sides, demos and home recordings.

‘A-Z’ picks up exactly where Wire’s classic first three albums left off. In fact, Newman’s debut is one of post-punk’s great lost masterpieces, mixing slanted lyrics, fizzing analogue synths and Newman’s trademark angular guitar work. Highlights include the bass propelled stomp of album opener ‘I’ve Waited Ages’, which features heavily distorted guitar loops and some seriously bizarre lyrics which could give Spike Milligan a run for his money. Whilst the Syd Barrett on steroids mania of ’S-S-S-Star Eyes’ sees Newman constructing a strangely catchy song from just one note, around which are woven numerous counter melodies.

Elsewhere, the melancholic and brooding ‘Alone’ (which has text by Wire’s Graham Lewis) propels itself into view with such majestic menace that it would later earn a well deserved place on the ‘Silence of the Lambs’soundtrack. Despite the unforced experimentation, tracks such as ‘Inventory’, with its brisk guitar and synth stylings, prove that Newman never lost touch with his ‘pop side’. As the NME review of the time so accurately observed, ‘A-Z’ is “An album in which experiment and accessibility co-exist”.

The CD only ‘A-Z’ bonus disc includes an additional 17 tracks – only 4 of which have previously been released. The demos recorded at Riverside Studios, are a revelation. Without the more obvious studio interventions of their final incarnations, tracks such as ‘But No’ and ‘The Classic Remains’ offer startlingly different takes on the material. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the demo of ‘Life on Deck’. Whilst the album version is heavy with absurdist punk abrasion, the original comes over as a piece of hook laden guitar pop. Other treats include the poignant ‘Alone on Piano’ which does exactly what it says in the title, and one of Newman’s great lost songs‘Not Me’ – later covered by This Mortal Coil on their epochal album ‘It’ll End in Tears’. Meanwhile, Newman’s original lo-fi home demos present the songs in more stark, experimental form.

‘A-Z’ shows Newman at the height of his powers, fashioning music which sounded utterly unlike anything else at the time. Or indeed since.


colin-newman-fishCOLIN NEWMAN – ‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’
Single Vinyl (SS03 LP) // Double CD (SS03/04 CD)

Colin Newman’s second solo album, the perversely named ‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’, was released in 1981 and proves that Newman was more than able to work outside the traditional rock format.
A collection of imaginary soundtrack pieces in the manner of Brian Eno’s ‘Music For Films’‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’ is a diverse collection of instrumentals, encompassing the atmospheric, the abstract and the thrillingly propulsive. Now, for the first time, this album has been completely remastered and augmented with a whole disc of additional tracks, including alternate vocal versions, B-sides and demo recordings.Sounds described it as “Wonderfully cinematic”. And it’s not hard to see why. Witness the misty, ambient marshes of ‘Fish 4’, or the tripped out Morricone-esque soundscape of ‘Fish 11’. But there are moments of intensity here too. Check out the deliriously insistent krautrock of ‘Fish 7’, or ’Fish 9’, where Newman speeds up the rhythm tracks to dadaist effect. The album as a whole displays a true desire to endlessly experiment.Newman’s first self produced set, its ambition and scope show why he would go on to become producer of choice for post punk luminaries such as Minimal Compact and Virgin Prunes.The CD only bonus disc presents an additional 20 tracks, only 5 of which have previously seen the light of day. There’s a number of fascinating vocal versions of the Fish tracks, including the wide eyed ‘No Doubt’ (‘Fish 1’)and the skeletal psych of ‘You And Your Dog’ (‘Fish 11‘). Meanwhile, Newman’s home recordings from the era reveal that aside from experimenting with more abstract soundscapes, he was also simultaneously developing a set of vocal songs. Of particular note are the fuzz bass driven ‘Is It Worth Repeating?’ which features one of Newman’s most relaxed vocals and the airy Canterbury Scene stylings of ‘Crystal Clear’. In contrast, the menacingly insistent ‘Vox Pop’ sees a snarling vocal riding atop waves of pulsing distorted guitars.In the late 80s, numerous artists as diverse as Barry Adamson and In The Nursery would go on to release so called imaginary soundtracks. But with 1981’s ‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’ Newman proved that, as ever, he was well ahead of the curve.


colin-newman-not-toCOLIN NEWMAN – ‘Not To’ 
Single Vinyl (SS05 LP) // Double CD (SS05/06 CD)

Newman’s third album ‘Not To’ (1982) is probably the finest of them all. Now, for the first time, the album has been completely remastered and augmented with a whole additional disc of unreleased tracks.

‘Not To’ sees Newman developing his distinctive art-rock in a more melodic pop direction. Songs such as the gorgeous ‘Lorries‘ with its chiming Byrds-like guitars and serpentine bass line, or the reflective ‘Remove For Improvement’, contribute to an album with a strong psychedelic sensibility – complete with an unexpected Beatles cover – a deeply woozy take on George Harrison’s ‘Blue Jay Way’.

Other highlights include the beautiful, meditative title track and the minimalist stream of consciousness of‘Truculent Yet’. Where Newman’s previous albums had foregrounded studio experimentation, ‘Not To’ keeps the focus clearly on the band dynamic. For this reason, the collection of songs has a timelessness which many albums of the period lack. Contemporary reviews were unstinting in their praise. NME called it “icicle-cool pop”. Hot Press described it as “Newman’s most commercial offering to date… this man could be a major force.”Whilst Melody Maker summed it up even more neatly; “Originality and a determined lack of compromise…what more could you want?”

The additional disc presents the luminous single ‘We Means We Starts’ alongside 21 previously unreleased songs, which essentially constitute the demos for what would have been Newman’s 4th solo album. And it turns out it would have included some absolute gems. ‘But Either Way’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Wire’s ‘154’, whilst the fizzingly optimistic ‘You Must Decide’ is up there with Newman’s finest songs. Some of the demos also feature early sequencer work which point towards both Wire’s mid-80s incarnation and the ideas Newman would develop in his later solo work. Another treat is an early incarnation of the ‘Not To’ track‘1, 2, 3, Beep Beep’ . Far superior to the quirky album cut, here it comes across as much more intense, yet also far more melodic.

What shines out from both ‘Not To’ itself and these demo recordings is an abundance of ideas and approaches, showing an artist with an ever evolving creative drive.


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