Thursday, March 03, 2005

An '80s Obscurity

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Leisure Process were a duo comprised of sax player Gary Barnacle and singer Ross Middleton. If you own any eighties albums that have sax on them, it's most likely Gary Barnacle playing - Visage, Pet Shop Boys, The Ruts, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and PIL are among the many bands he tootled for. He was also an official member of jazz funkers Level 42 for a while. Ross Middleton came out of the Scottish indie pop act Positive Noise. They recorded a couple of singles, but I don't think they ever made an album - I never saw one, and googling gave me zilch. The singles were produced Martin Rushent, who over the years had become "the man" in British music, having produced Altered Images, the Stranglers, Buzzcocks and the Human League among others. Leisure Process' sound was typically Rushent - tight, synthetic funk tracks with Ross' vocals delivered in a manic, new wave style. I dug the singles alot, and thought they had chart potential but of course they were largely ignored. I especially dig this 12" version of A Way You'll Never Be - it has such enormously pounding drums and some super poppin' bass, courtesy of Level 42's Phil Gould and Mark King. You may not like what these guys did in their own band, but there's no denying their musical skills. The tune also features a cool James Bond like xylophone riff that gets me every time, and since Gary is in the band it has a big sax solo. You can definitely hear a bit of the Human League's synth action going on too, and that makes it doubly tasty to me. Nothing classic, but a fun little '80s obscurity nonetheless.

8 comments:

Lenka said...

Cool track - I've heard many of the bands and tracks Gary Barnacle sessioned for, but never Leisure Process. Quintessentially '80's!

msanthropic said...

Have you heard "Love Cascade" by LP? It's a little less notably dated sounding -- one of my favorites!

Michael said...

@ msanthropic...

Love Cacade is on the other side of the 12" single! I actually heard it first and bought the record because of it - love it too!

Jeremy said...

I used to spin Love Cascade when i was DJing back in the early 80s. Still have the vinyl somewhere. It's a killer track!

Anonymous said...

Great pick...one of my favorites from the 80s. There is also a 12" called Cashflow by Leisure Process.

Mark said...

They had another 12" single-Cashflow also produced by Martin Rushent. (Actually, my favorite Rushent production was the Dub mix of Radio by The Members--very rarely seen/heard of these days.)

The Robman said...

"Positive Noise" (Ross Middleton's previous band) released 3 albums on the Statik record label between 1980 and 1985. The first album, 'Heart of Darkness', featured Ross on lead vocals, then the next two, 'Change of Heart' and "Distant Fires' featured Russell Blackstock (the band's guitarist) on lead vocals.

Two of Ross' brothers, Fraser and Graham, where also in the band.

cdgnfg said...
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