Shriekback: Clink Jam ’83 (Save Your Face Edit)

This post presents a continuous, 17-minute edit made up of pieces of Shriekback’s archival release, “Clink Jam” – a recently-discovered 1983 rehearsal tape. You can buy the full release on the Shriekback store.

Specifically, this edit is made up of edits of half-a-dozen “Clink Jam” tracks, which were then segued together into one track. It was an informal jam session, with slack and finding-the-next-move moments, and I just took those out, so corners get turned as frequently as your ear wants them to be turned. I am posting the edit at the request of the band.

(b-side below the page break)

Shriekback is an active band, releasing frequent new albums lately, which feature three-fourths of the original lineup heard on “Clink Jam.” I’m a big fan. In 2018, my brother and I flew from the U.S. to Amsterdam specifically to see Shriekback mount a rare, large-band live show at the Paradiso. 

So, whether you know Shriekback or have never heard of them… what is documented on the “Clink Jam” tape?

  • Dave Allen: bass (following his departure from Gang of Four)
  • Martyn Barker: drums (Dave Allen’s new Hugo Burnham, but funkier)
  • Barry Andrews: keyboards (following his time in XTC and Fripp’s League of Gentlemen)
  • Carl Marsh: guitar (following his time in the great, obscure Out on Blue Six)

Andrews and Marsh are also the band's lyricists and singers, though that’s not really a factor on the “Clink Jam” tape. I’m reasonably sure all four of them made all sorts of sounds on the studio recordings. 

These four got together with the intent of making wild, weird, beautiful music – and they succeeded to such an extent that their amazing early works – “Tench,” “Care,” “Jamscience,” and singles such as “My Spine is the Bassline” and “Feelers” – did not win the zeitgeist war in the early 1980s. Their next album, “Oil and Gold” (1985) achieved a somewhat higher profile, just as half the original lineup departed (though not forever).

But they sure had a great thing going in the early 1980s – actually several great things. ONE of them was a classic rhythm section (Allen/Barker) that could roll out endless variations of the trademark Shriekback groove - irresistibly danceable and slightly sinister. “Clink Jam” is a brimming cup of this primordial Shriekback ooze – no doubt a document of one of many afternoons spent questing for the roots of new songs. 

Andrew’s keyboards on “Clink Jam” are an interesting mix of non-Shriekback and early-live-Shriekback styles, with occasional passages that you can imagine hearing on a studio album. On the released studio recordings from this era, he tended not to rock out, instead providing something altogether different from what the rhythm section implied. This was part of the band's secret sauce, but it's also great to hear him playing around in various funk/jazz modes on “Clink Jam,” half-soloist, half-gesturist. 

I wish there were more of Marsh’s guitar on “Clink Jam,” but my edit makes him a bigger presence. His rhythm was key to the fundamental Shriekback syncopation.

When I previously posted this edit without naming the band, the comments that came back on Save Your Face and Twitter included:

  • I've no idea when this is from but it's freakin' awesome. Funkadeadlic, baby!
  • I don't know but sure sounds like it could be Talking Heads.
  • Gotta go with A Certain Ratio. And I'll guess 1980
  • Prince?
  • That was a Jack Johnson era Miles band, wannit?
  • Real shot in the dark but-Laswell, Frantz? Sounded America Is Waiting-ish to me.
  • Is this Material?
  • Very post-punk, angular bass sounds make me think of New York vibes. A certain ratio or a Laswell production of some variety.
  • I have no guesses but it does remind me of @deerhoof a great bit
  • Mike Watt one of them?

And since every good song deserves a b-side, here's my re-EQ of a live 1982 rendition of one of my favorite early songs, from an archival live release that is available for download-purchase on the Shriekback store as "Live at Harry's Hideaway (Toronto)."