Lost & Found: Graham Duff

The next top of the fascinating compositions from different times and folks created by our agent of influence mr. Graham Duff.

Thrash house, techno, old skool hip hop, funk, blues, prog rock, bizarre pop, imaginary soundtrack, dubstep, punk and more…

BOS-HOG Christina Martinez (Boss Hog)


VELVET UNDERGROUND – ‘Sunday Morning’ (1967)

Pure beauty in an impure world.

TANZ DER YOUTH – ‘Delay’ (1978)

There’s an early Roxy Music style rush to this track. Especially Tony Hustings-Moore’s spiralling synth solo at 01:34. After The Damned split up, guitarist and songwriter Brian James formed Tanz der Youth, who also included former Hawkwind drummer Alan Powell in their ranks. This is the B-side of their one and only single. The A-side ‘I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry’ is almost as good.

BOSS HOG – ‘Get It While You Wait’ (2000)

Big pop thrills and a killer chorus. Boss Hog are centred around vocalist Christina Martinez and her guitarist husband Jon Spencer (of Pussy Galore and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion). Although Mickey Finn’s keyboards are also a big part of the appeal on this single.

“Defiant, not silent.
No matter,
No one’s listening.
Your instinct, unspoken,
Must get past this conditioning.”

THE JAM – ‘Pop Art Poem’ (1981)

An atypical outing from The Jam. This is Weller and co. at their most psychedelic and experimental. If you haven’t heard it, it may well surprise you. Recorded during the ‘Sound Affects’ sessions, this was originally given away on a bright yellow flexi-disc with Flexi-pop Magazine.

“And all day long,
I was thinking,
I was thinking this,
that and the other
So am I.”

BERNTHOLER – ‘My Suitor’ (1983)

Belgian band Berntholer had a brief career, but with this beautiful song, they earned their place in the history books. The musical arrangement is decidedly spare, with a wandering cello line and simple piano figure creating a world of wistful romance. The lyrics are in English, with an occasional word in French, whilst vocalist Drita Kotaji’s delivery is natural and unforced.

STEVE TREATMENT – ‘Change of Plan’ (1978)

Treatment’s sound was clearly influenced by his good friend Marc Bolan. Yet despite his obvious talent, fate was not on Treatment’s side and his work didn’t enjoy the attention it deserved. His debut ‘5 A-Sided 45’ includes this track, which concerns the cultural upheavals resulting from the punk explosion.

AND THE NATIVE HIPSTERS – ‘Larry’s Coming Back’ (1983)

Best known for their very strange debut single ‘There Goes Concorde Again’, And The Native Hipsters were an unusual group to say the least. This is their third single and it’s another bizarre outing. Vocalist Nanette Greenblatt has a style which either excites or irritates, whilst musical main man William Wilding would later go on to perform as stand up comedy act Woody Bop Muddy.

GEORGE AURIC – ‘The Mindbenders’ (1963)

The creepy and oracular opening and closing title music for a film about a man experimenting with a sensory deprivation tank. French composer Auric was a child prodigy, who is said to have given a recital at the Société Musicale Indépendante at the age of 2! He worked with Erik Satie and was a close associate of Jean Cocteau, for whom he would score the ballet ‘Les Mariés de la tour Eiffel’ and the feature films ‘Orpheé’ and ‘Beauty & The Beast’. Auric’s many other film credits include ‘Dead of Night’, ‘Rififi’ and ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’.

IN THE NURSERY – ‘Precious’ (1997)

In the late 1980s, with their LP ‘Stormhorse’, In The Nursery were amongst a handful of artists who began to release so-called ‘imaginary soundtrack albums’. This is one of my favourite of their pieces. ‘Precious’ is taken from their soundtrack for the silent 1929 German film ‘Asphalt’. And, with its sustained chords and rolling rhythm, it summons up a sense of careworn beauty.


The opening percussive passage has been sampled to death. But this is so much more than a nifty break. Composed as the theme to the BBC thriller ‘Quiller’ starring Michael Jayston, this is a very funky instrumental with a smart brass arrangement. Although the piano figure which enters the fray at 00:31 and 02:33 may be the track’s defining element. Denton and Cook also composed and recorded the themes to TV shows such as ‘Tomorrows World’, ‘The Great Egg Race’ and ‘Hong Kong Beat’.

MIGHTY FORCE – ‘Thrashing A Dead House’ (1990)

A shining example of that micro-micro-genre Thrash House. Mighty Force’s dance floor programming includes samples from, amongst others, Napalm Death, to create a sound which is both funky and awkward.

KAOS – ‘Crank It Up (The Bass)’ (1988)

Stripped back old skool hip hop which shows how few elements are required to create a powerful piece of music. There are so many great lines in the rap. Including…

“The bass is heavy handed,
like I commanded.”
“The formulas simple,
it’s not intricate,
Turn down the bass?
Don’t even think of it.”

JERRY HARRISON – ‘Worlds In Collision’ (1981)

A feisty and funky track from ‘The Black and The Red’, the debut solo album by Talking Head and Modern Lover Jerry Harrison. Featuring many of the same musicians and influences as Talking Head’s ‘Remain in Light’, the album clearly proves that David Byrne didn’t have a monopoly on all the good ideas. Great guitar work from Adrian Belew and some memorable turns of phrase:

“So go beyond your old obsessions,
We are definitely expecting rain.
The mystery comes closer,
To those who can maintain.”

CICCONE YOUTH – ‘Macbeth’ (1987)

It’s not a popular opinion, but I’ve always thought Sonic Youth’s ‘Whitey Album’ – released under the name Ciccone Youth – was actually their best album. Wide ranging, experimental and fun, it folds elements of hip hop and electronics into their distinctive art rock mix. A track like ‘Macbeth’ sounds about ten years ahead of its time.

VICE VERSA – ‘Riot Squad’ (1979)

Brief, ultra minimal synth piece from the group who would evolve into 80s pop titans ABC. Mark White’s neutral vocal and clipped lyrics conjure up a world of bleak signifiers. From a moment in time when Sheffield boasted a clutch of bands who pointed the way to the future.
“My riot shield shatters.”

DUSTDEVILS – ‘Hip Priest’ (1990)

It’s a brave band who decide to cover The Fall. And this song in particular is a real challenge. Yet Dustdevils pull it off with style. Bassist Mark Ibold would later join Pavement, but it’s Michael Duane’s guitar scree which makes this.

WHERE EVERYTHING FALLS OUT – ‘The Dirt Inside’ (2008)

Now here’s a thing. An unusual piece of music which is hard to pigeon hole. The arrangement is rich yet skeletal, with electronics coming courtesy of Graham Lewis and Kenneth Cosimo. Ana Dinextra’s vocal is smoky, louche but controlled, with lyrics which obsess and obsess. Especially recommended for fans of Coil.

“Layers of dust,
the dirt building up.
Oh you missed a bit:
the dirt inside…”

LATE – ‘Sine, Saw, Square’ (2009)

A great tune from an era when dubstep was evolving in a number of different directions. Late (aka L. Ampuja) creates music which is detailed and very cinematic. Released on the delightfully named Disfigured Dubz label.

HOWLIN’ WOLF – ‘Smokestack Lightning’ (Live 1964)

Blues legend Howlin’ Wolf (aka Chester Arthur Burnett) had been performing ‘Smokestack Lightning’ since the 1930’s. Originally the song had been called ‘Crying at Daybreak’, but the Wolf would finally commit it to vinyl in the form we know in 1956. The song is simplicity itself, one chord and a rhythm which prefigures the motorik groove of the 1970s.

POPAL VUH – ‘Venus Principle’ (1978)

Here, Florian Fricke’s krautrock assembly are heard augmented by Alois Gromer on sitar and Ted de Jong on tamboura. ‘Venus Principle’ is a romantic and deeply opiated piece, taken from the album ‘On The Way To A Little Way’ (Soundtracks From “Nosferatu”). Although only a few fragments from this album appear in Werner Herzog’s film of the same name.

CAMBERWELL NOW – ‘Know How’ (1987)

Camberwell Now rose from the ashes of This Heat and featured former TH members Charles Hayward and Trefor Goronwy, as well as Maria Lamburn. Their music was frequently frenetic and experimental. However this track finds them in a more reflective mood. With its limpid chords and gentle vocal line, ‘Know How’ recalls the feel of mid-period Robert Wyatt.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND – ‘Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles’ (1972)

A beautiful song of love and longing. A world away from the spiky and angular abstractions of the rightly lauded ‘Trout Mask Replica’, the ‘Clear Spot’ album, from which this comes, sees Beefheart and the Magic Band creating a less challenging, yet still utterly compelling refraction of rock and blues.

“I look at her,
And she looks at me,
And in her eyes,
I see the sea,
I can’t see what she sees,
In a man like me.”

SUGAR BEAR – ‘Don’t Scandalize Mine’ (1988)

With brazen samples from Talking Head’s ‘Once In A Lifetime’, Sugar Bear’s one and only release is a real diamond. The B-side – ‘Ready to Penetrate’ – is also well worth a spin. The arresting titles and smart rap show Sugar Bear had a way with words which was all his own.

“We’re riding on excitement,
The parties in the basement,
When you step to me,
All you see is improvement,
Wasting my membrane?
You must be insane.
My whole address,
Is simple and plain.”

SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES – ‘Sea of Light’ (1991)

This is one very beautiful piece of music. My favourite Banshees song? Quite possibly. A band so blessed with talent, they could tuck this away as a B-side! The arrangement is subtle and hazy, with Siouxsie’s vocal conjuring up a sense of respectful awe. Steven Severin‘s lyrics seem to describe the out of body experience of being able to look down and witness your own death, whilst simultaneously experiencing the passing from the corporeal world into what lies beyond mortality.

“The miracle skin,
From the rainbow’s edge,
Let it rain down,
Let it descend,
Riding on a river of stars
The heavens open,
At the tunnel’s end.”

CARTER TUTTI – ‘Woven Clouds’ (2007)

A beautiful and gentle composition, which is so much more than the sum of its parts. Chris Carter’s electronics have never sounded more perfectly poised, whilst Cosey Fanni Tutti’s voice is open and intimate. The lyrics are, as ever, open to interpretation. But as a meditation on human vulnerability and strength I find this deeply moving.
“Beat softly,
My calming heart,
This heart of power,
In an endless time,
No endings or beginnings,
Like a woven cloud.
Like a woven cloud.
Folly falls,
At the feet of chance.”

MODULAR EXPANSION UNIT ONE – ‘Eliminator’ (1990)

Belgian New Beat artist Frank De Wulf embraces the techno dawn. I can remember when my good friend Malcolm Boyle introduced me to this, and laughing out loud at the title Modular Expansion Unit One and thinking how gloriously ridiculous it was. Although ‘Cubes’ – the better known lead track from this EP – hasn’t aged so well, ‘Eliminator’ still sounds taut, dark and futuristic.

October 21, 2016

keywords: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,