November 1983....and I'm working in Subway Records. The Jungle Man turns up in his white van (Jungle were an independent Record Distributor). It was something that all of us that worked in Subway looked forward to...(Sandra, Jeff, Viv, Roger)..always a van load of obscure and very limited delights......all of us were listening to 4AD records and following label...from Bauhaus to Cocteaus, Dead Can Dance.....anyone knowing anything about early 4AD will appreciate that whilst it was an esoteric label...there was a feel .... whether you call that Goth or not..well...you know what I mean?!?
So, amongst the van, was this strange record cover by a 4AD band I hadn't heard of. It seems that both versions of Tarantula/Breakdown had escaped my ears at the time.....so we got the Colourbox Mini LP (MAD315) on to the deck in the shop......it was a bit of a jaw dropping scenario to the more hard core 4AD fetishists within the shop. Ok, the sound system in subway wasn't that good, but my boxes were being ticked, electronics, dub, soul and the most whacked out effects that I had only yet checked out on the Martin Rushent remixes (Sherwood/Stewarts VODSTF had yet to be released at this point.....see here)...I couldn't wait to get it home to listen on a decent system.....and oh boy, perfect production and channel seperated effects and that synth bass...where the hell was this coming from???
Martyn & Steven Young, Ian Robbins and Debian Curry on vocals.....what the hell was going to come next from this amazing group?? I managed to track down the 2nd version of Breakdown/Tarantula and knew that this was a band to keep an eye on.
March 84, Robbins and Curry have gone to be replaced by Lorita Grahame on vocals...what a choice and what a track to debut on....U Roy's Say You. At this point I made a point of steering clear of Reggae as a genre......so technically, this was the first reggae single I bought....this was special, really special and still is today...the 12" version really makes use of that dub bass and all those effects, keeps that space and still works as a classic track of production perfection....and just we didn't think they'd gone all to reggae...the B Side Fast Dump was a sample fest in an upbeat fusion of all those genres found on the mini LP.
There was 12 months between Punch and the release of covers boths sides single The Moon is Blue/You Keep Me Hangin' On. A side being a ballad created to promote the power of Lorita's voice. B side keeping that electro punch feeling. Ofcourse, this was the commercial single to promote their album released 2 months later.
Colourbox The Album felt a bit of a too polished commercial entity.......it was a platformfor everything that they had created..all genres, all songs and a few new versions chucked in for good measure and a free mini album of extra tracks.......a sample fest pissing on everything else, but because it was 4AD, it wasn't noticed and the Goths weren't going to really go for this pop were they??
To say that Colourbox wore their influences on their sleeves would be an understatement.....prior to the release of their album proper.....nobody else was putting all those genres into one track (Mini LP and Punch). We had to wait another 8 months for the next single...Baby I Love you So, another glorious sample drenched dubbed out Reggae classic originally by Jacob miller stuck together with subtle Morricone and Escape From New York Samples...the B Side......Look's Like We're Shy One Horse...designed to blow subs whilst entertaining with those sublime Morricone samples....both sides...8 minutes of bliss each.
On exactly the same date of release, Colourbox also decided to release the The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme for 1986. This became a student classic, usually stuck in to get some of the drunken indie lads pogo'ing around once they got bored dancing to The Smiths or The Mighty Lemon Drops...it was an instrumental which retrospectively had that rave type hook (which wasn't a rave type hook) before rave happened...ofcourse......this was the end Colourbox....appeared once more (collaborating with AR Kane) in 87 with the iconic and before it's time Pump Up The Volume as MARRS
Martyn continues to produce. Ian died in 2014, Steven died in 2016.
Colourbox set the pace before their time without much credit.....like all innovators and geniuses.
If you can find them...check them out