Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pete Shelley- XL1 (1983) / Heaven & the Sea (1986) MP3 & FLAC -For Andie James-

"You and I will never change. Though we're different, we'll remain the same. 
Love's devoid of reason anyway."

On his unexpected solo debut, Homosapien, Pete Shelley largely abandoned any trace of the guitar-heavy punk-pop of his previous band, the Buzzcocks, instead building the album's sound out of a unique combination of electronic instruments and acoustic 12-string guitar. While this stemmed partly from his desire to break all ties with his former band, it was also a re-visitation of his original interest in Electronic music. However, on his second LP, XL1, Shelley decided to re-introduce electric guitar into the mix, and the result is a wonderfully edgy and claustrophobic electronic-rock hybrid that manages to build on the strengths of its predecessor while moving into even darker emotional territory. From the beginning of his career as a songwriter, Shelley had nurtured a lyrical preoccupation with the idea of unbridgeable emotional isolation, such as his classic Buzzcocks composition, "Ever Fallen in Love": "You spurn my natural emotions / You make me feel like dirt / And I'm hurt / And if I start a commotion / I run the risk of losing you / And that's worse." While there is still a glimmer of faith (albeit a masochistic one) in the possibility of love in the preceding lyrics, on XL1, the emotional climate is one of cold pessimism. For example, on the infectiously dark "Telephone Operator," perhaps the pinnacle of Shelley's solo career, Shelley introduces heavily distorted guitar bursts into an arrangement that borrows heavily from Kraut-Rockers such as Kraftwerk; lyrically, the song sets the stage for the entire album, as it establishes the theme of isolation on several levels in the form of a lonely drunk trying to seduce a disembodied (and emotionally disconnected) voice on the phone. Shelley also explores the sense of isolation within relationships as on "You Know Better Than This," which contrasts his ironic, almost tongue-in-cheek vocals and faceless synth-dominated arrangement with lyrics alternating between professions of devotion and bitter musings about the inevitability of emotional stagnation. It would be three years before Shelley would issue his third (and final) solo album, Heaven & the Sea, which dials down the dance rhythms significantly and suffers greatly for it. It seems Shelley is going for something more reflective on this album, and while songs such as "On Your Own" and "Life Without Reason" have their charms, overall, the album ends up sounding a little too glossy (thanks to Stephen Hague's production). As a result, Heaven & the Sea has not aged nearly as well as Shelley's earlier solo albums.

XL1 (2005 Remastered and Expanded Edition)

 1. Telephone Operator  (3:18)
 2. If You Ask Me I (Won't Say No)  (4:23)
 3. What Was Heaven?  (5:07)
 4. You Know Better Than I Know  (4:58)
 5. Twilight  (3:15)
 6. (Millions of People) No One Like You  (4:07)
 7. Many a Time  (6:44)
 8. I Just Wanna Touch  (3:04)
 9. You and I  (3:02)
10. XL1  (3:29)
11. Telephone Operator/Many a Time (Dub)  (5:46)
12. If You Ask Me/No One Like You (Dub)  (13:13)

Heaven & the Sea

 1. Waiting for Love  (3:42)
 2. On Your Own  (3:51)
 3. They're Coming for You  (4:14)
 4. I Surrender  (4:10)
 5. Life Without Reason  (4:35)
 6. Need a Minit  (2:55)
 7. Never Again  (3:42)
 8. My Dreams  (4:30)
 9. Blue Eyes  (4:26)
10. You Can't Take That Away  (4:26)
11. No Moon...  (5:13)


  1. Wow, these are great! Thanks for more Pete Shelley. I can't wait to hear them. Kurt

  2. Kurt, my pleasure. "XL1" is especially good

  3. I can't decide which one I like more. Thanks for both. Saludos.

  4. El Isabelino, you're very welcome :) Personally, I like "XL1" but I guess that's obvious in the review. Good to hear from you

  5. Thanks I used to have these when they originally came out, that dates me unfortunately...

  6. sradams777, well, don't feel bad because I had "XL1" when it first came out, so I'm a bit dated too ;)

  7. Heaven and Sea is a super album; great choice

  8. My other observation is I know your occupation but why aren't you writing reviews for

  9. Let's Find H-Man A Wife, thank you. For some reason, that one is hard to find. I believe it's out of print

  10. sradams777, that's a good question. I think I could improve on some of those reviews. Actually, I've been thinking about looking around for some paid review work. I wonder if Pitchfork is hiring :)

  11. Yeah Pitchfork would be good as well

  12. All smiles here in Blighty!! I also had XL1 on cassette which had a computer program you could load, if you had a computer ;-)

    Along with sradams777 Bauhaus postings I'm gonna have a busy evening!!

    Oh...VU works fine here too :))

  13. AndieJames, I saw that computer program mentioned a few places. Evidently it generated visual effects to the music. Yes, I think the VU series will be an interesting journey

  14. I used to have XL1 on cassette. It came with a program for a Sinclair Spectrum computer which, when synched-up with the audio, displayed graphics and lyrics for each track on the cassette. Super cool for 1983!

  15. Anon., very interesting. Way ahead of its time in a way. Thanks for the link; it even has screenshots!

  16. Wow, Pete Shelley Homosapien and XL1 in FLAC, awesome. I have been looking for a quality post of these two for a long time. I remember scoring these two when they first came out on vinyl, those were good times. Thanks for the share!

  17. GaragePunk66, I fondly remember those days too. "Telephone Operator" very nearly teleports me back to 1983 (high-school insecurities and all!). Definitely a simpler time (at least for me). Great to hear from you!

  18. Thank you for keeping these ('XL1', particularly) alive.

    When I wasn't listening to 'Murmur', I could usually be found listening to 'XL1'.

    How lucky I was to have been a certain age at a certain time...

  19. This site is fantastic! Could you possibly re-up the flac for Xl1? I've been looking everywhere for the dub version of "Many a time"! Thanks!

  20. Any chance of xl1 being re-upped?
    Would be very appreciated.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.