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This Weekend I’ll Be Mostly Listening to… Billie Ray Martin February 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Techno, dance, electro-pop, ambient, avant-garde. Billie Ray Martin, English/German singer/songwriter/composer/musician has done all of these in a career that now stretches back into the 1980s. Born in Hamburg, living in London and Berlin she eventually wound up in…er… Birmingham (and not the one with Alabama in parenthesis).

I first heard her when listening to one of the excellent Trance Europe Express compilations in the mid-1990s. Her voice was this strange presence on a track she and techno/IDM outfit Spooky released together, a cover of Throbbing Gristle’s “Persuasion”, a most interesting track with lyrics well worth having a look at.

But what I didn’t realise at the time was that Martin had been in Electribe 101, late 1980s, early 1990s, house/techno/dance outfit, who saw some measure of pop success and in their own way created the template for a thousand tracks after. Listen to Inside Out (a cover of 1970s outfit Odyssey), which I think is a bit of a classic, not least for the nicely restrained keyboards during the verses, for a characteristic sample of their output.

A solo career followed soon after, there’s a sense she’s been dismissive of the Electribe 101 days, which is a pity because they did have some great moments. Deadline For My Memories, her first solo album, is a great document, but where Electribe 101 was all lush electronic instrumentation, here she pared away the sound, infusing it with more of an soul influence.

It’s been said by others that she manages to combine in one/many careers avant-garde experimentation and mainstream(ish) pop success. For example there’s her EP based on Warhol, or her revisits of Cabaret Voltaire tracks and as well frequent appearances in the dance charts. Quite a feat.

You’re Walking – Electribe 101

Inside Out – Electribe 101 (not the album track, unnecessary added percussion)

Persuasion (with Spooky)

Deadline For My Memories

Your Loving Arms

Planet of the Blue (from 4 ambient tales)

18 Carat Garbage (with Ann Peebles)

Systems of Silence

No Brakes on My Rollerskates (2003)

Sweet Suburban Disco (2011)

The Crackdown (2010)

Five Takes (A Song About Andy) 2012


1. CL - February 23, 2014

69 years ago today a platoon of U.S. Marines charged up Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima in the Pacific. and raised high the Stars and Stripes.
A photo of that flag-raising has become an iconic image of WW2 and continues to evoke patriotism among Americans.
Here’s Johnny Cash’s tribute to one of those heroes who raised Old Glory on that battlefield long ago.


2. JamesBrady - February 24, 2014

The name didn’t ring a bell until I recognised ‘Your Loving Arms’. Not too familiar with her but listening to some of her stuff now. Title track to Deadline is brilliant, Iv ordered the album. That’ll keep me occupied now for a while, thanks worldbystorm


WorldbyStorm - February 24, 2014

She’s great isn’t she? I’m delighted someone else is into her work. Nice one, thanks JB.


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