WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO…
ZANG TUUM TUMB
A picture book without the pictures for all the friends and enemies of ZTT Records.
ACTION Yes, thankyou.
INCIDENT From Art of Noise to a walking stick.
CERTAINTY At all time
The questions that are often asked ZTT by correspondents concern the number of records released by the label. Officially, or at least apparently, ZTT have released just five records in the UK — three on it’s original Action Series and two on it’s Derivative Incidental Series.
The famous ‘Relax’ was Action Series Number One, and still is. The definitive record her is the 7" single. Other product to do with the famous ‘Relax’, apart from duff T-shirts and duffer DJ’s , has emerged: a boring 7" picture disc is collectable, as well as a sperm soaked and more entertaining 12" picture disc. The 12", which at all times has featured Gerry Marsden’s ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’ as the first track on side two, originally featured an experimental ‘Sexmix’, which was replaced by a compelling some could say compact ‘US Mix’ on later pressings. (It was at this stage that it was decided that no more 12" records on ZTT would be called a “mix” of any sort whatsoever.) A white label 7", originally and erroneously entitled ‘The Warp Mix’ and then more correctly ‘The Last 7"‘ also appeared. Finally, (up until this day) — oh! what a bloody circus — there is a cassette celebration that is completely believable if slightly irrelevant, containing twenty one minutes of the usual drama and dialogue — including extra words from ‘One September Monday’ interview that featured on the B-side of all 7" releases.
It must be stressed that under no circumstances, including being bored to death by persistent requests, can Zang Tuum Tumb comment on the availability of any of the product, nor confirm or pretend to know in which sleeves the records appear, nor advise on how to distinguish between different mixes which seem to have the same catalogue number, nor explain what prefix numbers are scratched into the run off grove that may or may not help the collector.
ZTT’s business is The Puzzle, not the explanation. This may be more to do with laziness than obstinacy: who knows?
It must also be stressed that ZTT themselves do not own a complete set of The Famous ‘Relax’ records.
The magnificent ‘Dr Mabuse’ was Action Series Number Two, and will always be so.
Action Series Number Three makes to keep the peace. ‘Two Tribes’ spent longer at number one than ‘Relax’, and during this time the group went to the Top of the Pops studios’ four times to perform it. Apart form the maddening T-shirts and other inevitabilities, ‘Two Tribes’ is believable in a number of ways. The definitive record here is the Carnage 12". ‘Annihalation’ and ‘War Hidden’ — the last collectable as a not too terrible picture disc — are 12" revisions not too easily ignored. The 7", black or picture, never quite worked, although the different version available on the ‘Now Volume 3' compilation is successful. The cassette celebration of ‘Two Tribes’ includes extra dialogue from the ‘One February Friday’ interview.
All of the Action Series has made it onto Virgin/EMI’s ‘Now!’ series, which is one kind of achievement. Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Propaganda are spending the latter part of the summer recording their LP’s ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome’ and ‘The Devils Advocate’. In the true spirit of the Action Series, both are discovering unknown worlds, and putting nothing off. No live shows, though, you know. By the end of ZTT Part Three, 31 December 1984, there will be three more signings to the Action Series, and also the introduction of a third series, The Certain Series.
Do you believe any of this?
The Incidental Series is something like a law unto itself. Records released here are more than noble — ‘Into Battle’ and ‘Diversions One and Two’ in the UK and ‘Who’s Afraid of the Art of Noise’ in America soon to be released here along with the American single ‘Close (To the Edit)’ — but as some of you may have guessed records alone don’t make up the Incidental Series. All cassettes are part of the Incidental Series. The videos directed by Anton Corbijn, Bernard Rose and Godley and Creme are are on the Incidental Series. The best ZTT T-shirts are all under one number on the series. The day that ‘Relax’ was banned has a catalogue number. Holly Johnson’s walking stick has a catalogue number. The Series, as well as releasing some of the most advanced danced or experimented music of the next day also intends to communicate some of the accident, adventure and atmosphere that makes up the known parts of Zang Tuumb Tuuuuummm, so that those who are interested can sort of work out what has happened to the label and those who don’t give a crying damn will have plenty to moan about.
An Incidental Calalogue will be available on November 5th.
“To try to belong to one’s own time is already to be out of date.”
Until the next time…