Quick jump to issues

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records


ISSUE 1 (November 2023) The Specials Ghost Town (1981) selected by Alan Dunn

EDITOR'S NOTE - we've noticed that the Gakken Toy Record Maker is gaining a mind of its own (the mind of a toy). Despite changing the cutting stylus, types of blank discs, input cables and equalizer settings, it's increasingly pressing its own weird pulses, scratches and distortions. As such, it's getting increasingly hard to predict what the Gakken will do with the artists' sounds ...

Issue 1 GHOST TOWN has been developed by Alan Dunn around The Specials' Ghost Town from 1981. The issue explores the significance of the inspiration behind the song, the roles of Easterhouse and Coventry, the links to No Parlez and community art. And so we reach the end of TOP TEN and a huge thanks to all the artists who contributed and to those who bought copies. We hope to exhibit all ten issues somewhere, sometime ... watch this space.

Alan: "The sounds on this record are me and my dog Lulu breathing into the Tascam somewhere in the Liverpool City Region, trying to recreate the opening to and beat of Ghost Town recorded over scratches made in Easterhouse in Glasgow and the Coventry Music Museum.

In 1974 my parents were struggling to pay their rates so my mum learned to drive and started teaching arts and crafts around Easterhouse, primarily Wellhouse Community Centre. I was 7 and remember sitting in these after-schools classes as local kids stuck stuff together. My mum remembers having to tie the scissors together to stop them being stolen and one evening (I don’t recall), they locked the outside gates, trapping her in the car park but the caretaker got her out.

In Summer 1981 we’re on a family holiday down south with a day or two in London, amidst the uprisings, my dad takes a photo of me, in the Scotland kit, about to cross Oxford Street to buy my copy of newly released Ghost Town. It’s Friday 24th July and I’m about to turn 14.

In early 1988 my Gran Dunn, while paying her rent at the Housing Office in Easterhouse, asks the man behind the counter to give me a job as he’s on the board of the Easterhouse Arts Project, based on Aberdalgie Road. Simple. For the next three years or so, I do a huge amount of workshops, demonstrations, murals, spray-painting and festivals across the whole of Easterhouse, just as the yellow eggs are arriving. My Glasgow School of Art tutor David Harding encourages me to wet my feet there and as I grew up near Easterhouse, albeit on the other side of Edinburgh Road, I have just enough shared background, work ethic, diplomacy and sense of humour to survive. One of our murals is wrongly used in the Glasgow Herald to illustrate deprivation, so the 21-year-old me fires off this letter.

In 2023, I’m visiting my mum and we cruise past the Barras and Paddy’s Market and the junction of Aberdalgie Road and Easterhouse Road – now home to a dreadful Andy Scott public sculpture phoenix (2000) – and I carefully rub one side of this record against the rock. A few weeks later I visit the Coventry Music Museum and scratch the other side of the records on the wall before seeing the original Ghost Town organ and master tapes and sitting in the car used in the video.

Dammers says: “You travelled from town to town and what was happening was terrible. In Liverpool, all the shops were shuttered up, everything was closing down ... We could actually see it by touring around. You could see that frustration and anger in the audience. In Glasgow, there were these little old ladies on the streets selling all their household goods, their cups and saucers. It was unbelievable. It was clear that something was very, very wrong."

The records you hold have been physically imbued with these cities, those that in some way forged Ghost Town into the psyche of this most powerful and empathic of bands, right at the very moment they couldn’t really be civil with each other any more. Other bits and pieces: Two-Tone square made from strap of small adidas sports bag and fragments from a cut-up No Parlez sleeve."

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records


ISSUE 2 (October 2023) The Etchingham Steam Band Hard Times of Old England (1974) selected by Tenley Martin

EDITOR'S NOTE - we've noticed that the Gakken Toy Record Maker is gaining a mind of its own (the mind of a toy). Despite changing the cutting stylus, types of blank discs, input cables and equalizer settings, it's increasingly pressing its own weird pulses, scratches and distortions. As such, it's getting increasingly hard to predict what the Gakken will do with the artists' sounds ...

Issue 2 HARD TIMES has been developed by Tenley Martin around the Etchingham Steam Band's version of Hard Times of Old England from 1974. The issue explores the correlation between the early 1970s power cuts in the UK and current conditions, via folk's ability to capture current - but also repeated - social problems. The issue comprises digitally-printed sleeves, insert Etchingham card, newsprint text and a new 1'30" track cut into hand-numbered lime green 5" vinyl, etched with the last three lines of the song, JOLLY GOOD TIMES. With thanks to Tom Rodgers, cover photograph by Nikos Stavropoulos.

Alan: "I remember the power cuts and the next issue, the final issue of TOP TEN, also touches upon that moment in the UK when the three-day weeks forced one particular mum to go out and get extra work and as a direct result of that, you're reading this text as part of this project as part of this lifestyle. I was seven during the power cuts and as I write this, our seven-year grandson is staying with us and he's just made up his TOP TEN tracks on a CD for car journeys. Whilst it doesn't directly relate to the folk song selected by Tenley (or even what I was listening to at 7), just reading the titles seems to be significant: Escape, Just Dance, Happy, Never gonna give you up, Last Friday Night, Run Away and Friendships - do we run away from or towards each other and the inherent challenges?"

Tenley: "Hard Times of Old England is a traditional English folk song and its melody can be traced from an English patriotic ballad The Roast Beef of England used in Henry Fielding’s Grub Street Opera (1731), which was co-opted into British and America military tradition and played whenever beef was being ‘presented’ at official functions.

Our current rendition (Hard times) appeared in broadsides as early as 1820, after the Napoleonic Wards when English tradesmen, as well as soldiers and sailors returning from the wars, couldn’t find work and were faced with poverty and starvation. The song is a social commentary of this particular time period, but has resonated with English traditional singers at times throughout our history when the economic cycles have been at particularly low points. Examples of this are the Copper family, who recorded it in 1955, and then Steeleye Span’s particularly upbeat folk rock version.

My version is inspired by the Etchingham Steam Band (Shirley Collins, Ashley Hutchins, et.al), which is a lilting and haunting waltz, like a winding down fairground organ. The band was formed during the 1970s power cuts, with their name referencing their acoustic nature and the fact that those power cuts created impossible situations for any band using electronic instruments or amplification. My interpretation utilises a vibraphone without the motor running or amplification and is a nod to the cost of living, fuel issues, and inflation that echo struggles in previous eras.

During the preparation of the issue, we came across this podcast exploring the track, with contributions from Billy Bragg.

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records


ISSUE 3 (September 2023) The Stooges I wanna be your dog (1969) selected by Nick Booton

EDITOR'S NOTE - we've noticed that the Gakken Toy Record Maker is gaining a mind of its own (the mind of a toy). Despite changing the cutting stylus, types of blank discs, input cables and equalizer settings, it's increasingly pressing its own weird pulses, scratches and distortions. As such, it's getting increasingly hard to predict what the Gakken will do with the artists' sounds ...

Issue 3 BREAKTHROUGH has been developed by Nick Booton of brui studio around The Stooges' I wanna be your dog from 1969. The issue explores the rawness and extremity of that track, particluarly in relation to its singer, Iggy Pop and, as Nick explains, the issue has been compiled by putting himself in "situations that explore the balance between stress, adrenaline, breath and enlightenment under self-enforced duress" - it comprises digitally printed sleeves, unique insert cards and a new 1'30" mono track (mp3 of the original here) cut onto lime green vinyl with scanned charcoal drawing as label.

Alan: "I know precisely when I first hear this track, it's on Radio 1 in February 1986 and Jim Reid of the Jesus & Mary Chain selects it while chatting with Janice Long in his East Kilbride drawl about some of his favourite tracks. There's a recording of it here and a few years later I'm studying in Chicago and get to see Iggy at the Riviera Theatre. During I wanna be your dog he looks DIRECTLY at me with the wildest eyes I ever see, he's screaming that title line and in that tiny moment, I'm terrified."

Nick: "I was trying to figure out how I first came across The Stooges, and I think it must have been through the influence of a compilation CD my Mum got me called Skate To Hell, released in 2003, meaning I would have been 12 and finally finding a world that made sense to me in the skate films I was consumed with. Looking back, these few films and compilations became unbelievably formative. I remember one film and soundtrack in particular, Strongest of the Strange by Pontus Alv (2005) left a huge influence on me, and probably still does - there is something in the spirit of that film that feels close to what I’ve been exploring with this project now I think about it.

I chose this song at a time when my internal dialogue was the loudest it’s been in years. The atmosphere around me felt stagnant and I was being transported back to feelings I had when I was a teen - a desire or compulsion to ignite something, to act out, to run, to test barriers, to rebel. There is something about the extremities that grounds me, that makes me feel closer to the core of the Earth, that cuts through layers of habit and pretence. The spirit of this song lets me feel that process, and in this case gave me a reason to explore that process more deeply. As mentioned, the recordings were taken from sessions of creative engagement with the physical world in situations of consequence, where my bodily instincts are brought to the surface to replace critical thinking with a raw creativity. These primary experiences allowed me to feel universal truths by disrupting patterns that have become infected by my overconsciousness. I realised that it was a stagnancy in myself that created the lens I’ve been looking through, and it is my responsibility to ignite something within. The universe is absurd, and I can make sense of it through absurdity. Iggy’s performance in this song has given me the courage to fight for my own spirit, to break through."

"... side note - The Doors Break on Through genuinely came on shuffle as I was designing the sleeve, snapping me from a daydream."

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records


ISSUE 4 (August 2023) Martin Denny Caravan (1959) selected by Pierre Beloüin

EDITOR'S NOTE - we've noticed that the Gakken Toy Record Maker is gaining a mind of its own (the mind of a toy). Despite changing the cutting stylus, types of blank discs, input cables and equalizer settings, it's increasingly pressing its own weird pulses, scratches and distortions. As such, it's getting increasingly hard to predict what the Gakken will do with the artists' sounds ...

Issue 4 has been developed by Pierre Beloüin around Martin Denny’s Caravan from 1959. The issue explores the significance of Denny in the context of Throbbing Gristle, Coil and William S. Burroughs and the design of the folded A5 zine acknowledges these tangential associations, along with a nod to 80s-style collaged zine layouts. Pierre's responses to five questions are layered on top and a postcard of Caravan lyrics is backed with a fresh leaf plucked from Dunn's garden on the day of distributing each issue. The issue includes a new 1'27" mono track (mp3 of the original here) and the reverse of the lime green record is collaged with further prints.

Alan: "Chatting with David as we developed Issue 9, he suggested that Pierre would be a great contributor. Sometimes we cross paths with people's work without realising it. During a visit to Marseilles in 2019 with East Street Arts, we pop into a little white cube gallery and I spot some records in the tiny shop area and pick up BlackNox's We Don’t Believe in Heaven, Simon Fisher Turner's Picture From Darkness and That Summer's Back From Ancient Gardens (Industry & Idleness). Unbeknowns to me at the time, all of these are from Optical Sound, run by Pierre and, similarly, when Pierre suggests Caravan for TOP TEN, it's a track that had hovered somewhere in that zone of familiarity. I had not long finished reading a lot of Throbbing Gristle texts so was aware of Martin Denny but what really struck me was its similarity to the track I was exploring for the final issue, namely Ghost Town. Jerry Dammers had spoken of the influence of library music on More Specials and the more we listened to Caravan, the more it became those eery whistling sounds of Ghost Town, Issue 4 becoming a premonition for the end of the line."

Pierre: "Why Caravan? It could have been another Exotica standard like Quiet Village also by Denny or Taboo by Arthur Lyman but I choose Caravan, originally a Duke Ellington track from 1936 covered by the great Martin Denny who later inspired Throbbing Gristle. I like this duality of easy listening music and industrial music and to meet people who assume their own two sides, as a 7“ can do, with a standard track and an unreleased, rare, experimental or live track. There are actually lyrics for this song but most of the time it’s an instrumental - the protagonist and his partner are traveling in a caravan through the desert enjoying the night sky and each other’s company. The protagonist is thrilled by the magic of their romance and dreams of a happy future together. The bright stars above shine down on their caravan adding to the beauty of their journey."

"Originally, my choice was going to be from one of my favorite bands, COIL, but I don’t remember which as it’s all excellent ! COIL explicitly stated the influence of such non-musical sources as William Burroughs, Aleister Crowley Brion Gysin and Austin Spare, who are important authors for me. They often considered their works more as magical rituals than musical pieces and they sometimes used the term “Exotica Darkness” and it makes me think directly of their famous album Love’s Secret Domain. John Balance, group member with Peter Christopherson, described the first half of their discography as “solar” and their later as “moon musick.”

The first music I ever bought was actually a K7 cassette of the soundtrack of Flash Gordon. I saw the film three week before, but I didn’t know the music was by Queen. It certainly opened my mind to evocative concrete music or spoken words, or music from films who do not exist. And the record I wished I owned and had been seeking for a long period was the original LP soundtrack by Elmer Bernstein of the beautiful 50’s NBC-TV series Johnny Staccato starring John Cassavetes, originally published by Capitol Records. This private detective series of 27 episodes is a masterpiece, filmed at the end of the 50’s in New York and Los Angeles, there’s real street scenes, the black and white is incredible and it’s immersed with pure West Coast Jazz. There’s a Greenwich Village Jazz club that acts like a character, as Staccato is a detective but also piano player and all the actors smoke and drink a lot so it’s a must see! This LP is my kind of grail, I asked for it everywhere in every record store on the planet until I found the re-press in CD version and finally the LP version.

And the pics we used are, except Yma Sumac, people I have mentioned, like Throbbing Gristle taken from their LP Greatest Hits (Entertainment Through Pain) that was dedicated to Martin Denny. There’s also William Seward Burroughs in front of an Egyptian sphinx, and this particular image treatment with specific weft and in monochrome is taken from a screen print series I made in 2015 that included others mentors such as Yma Sumac. I made the series at Le Confort Moderne art center and the picture of me smoking and mixing, wearing a Hawaiin shirt, is from the opening of that exhibition.

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records

ISSUE 5 (July 2023) The The Giant (1983) selected by Pippa Eason

EDITOR'S NOTE - we've noticed that the Gakken Toy Record Maker is gaining a mind of its own (the mind of a toy). Despite changing the cutting stylus, types of blank discs, input cables and equalizer settings, it's increasingly pressing its own weird pulses, scratches and distortions. As such, it's getting increasingly hard to predict what the Gakken will do with the artists' sounds ...

Issue 5 has been developed by Pippa Eason around The The’s Giant from exactly forty years ago in 1983. The issue explores the very intense relationship some of us developed with particular tracks or sounds during lockdown. For me, it was listening to Craig Charles' Trunk of Punk on BBC Radio 6 while cooking for the family and for Pippa, it's this track. The issue is about touch, drawing on the record surfaces, using clay and the human contact with inanimate objects we were denied when extra wary of virus transmission. The issue includes a new 1'47" mono track (mp3 of the original stereo here) with the records themselves hand-painted in a manner that incorporates some of the 'residue', that is the vinyl etched away during the cutting process and is thus also the audio but in negative.

Alan: "Without any lead from me, we land again in the early 80s (which pleases me immensely!), after David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tom Tom Club and Kate Bush, we now explore The The’s Giant from the Soul Mining LP (1983). The The were part of that inspiring Some Bizzare community that included Cabaret Voltaire, Soft Cell, Coil, James Thirwell and Psychic TV. They made their live debut supporting Scritti Politti so their credentials - well, Matt Johnson's - are good (despite the more recent muddled Covid posts, more Boris than Matt). Let's not forget that The The's next major LP was called Infected! I like that all their sleeves were designed by Matt's brother, Andy Dog, and of course, the cleverness of the name, the slight stutter and nod to every single band, including The Band that, for some reason, needed the word The at the start - WE ARE SPECIFIC, NOT ANY OLD BAND. WE ARE THE ... I have known Pippa’s work from her under- and postgrad Fine Art studies at Leeds Beckett University from 2012-16. I wanted to work with someone who would work with their hands, who would mark the records, include clay, use the residue (almost as Cornelia Parker did with Negatives of Sound in 1996) and intentionally low-res image files - there are five subtly different sleeve designs across the 10 copies of the issue. And for someone to choose a track called Giant for such a small record ..."

Pippa: "Giant is a track I have listened to repeatedly in times of uncertainty (hundreds according to Spotify). This record gave me solace. Coming out of an uncertain time, where the same four walls became more than familiar, a venture into an unknown place gave me joy. A key moment of change, a moment where I found part of who I wanted to be, and took that part with me. One of the great tracks of my life, one that has been with me in the studio, and seen me grow in life. I would say the whole Soul Mining album feels like home to me, given me a calm cocoon on packed train journeys, and also played loudly whilst cleaning or exercising. It’s rare an album can do that for me. Giant questions identity, and the prospect of getting older quickly, whilst the world passes by. 2021 was a key year for me, and was a year I began to truly reflect on what it means to be an artist, and it was the year I listened to this song the most. My responsive track Go is a nod to those quiet moments, those moments where the questioning of things happens. Ambience, and stretched-out sounds alongside some quietly industrial crackles and glitches. My visual responses are flat organic clay pieces, with earth from my garden imprinted in. The pieces represent pieces of language and imagery from my drawing practice and streams of consciousness. The designs for the sleeve are sculptural drawings, reimagining some past works; the idea was to represent the muffled stillness of my track, all within a very low-res sleeve."

With thanks again to Tom Rodgers. Please note that Go can be played at the intended 45rpm but also at 33rpm.

In a nice coincidence, on Sunday 30th July, the LP featured in Tim Burgess' Listening Party will be Soul Mining by The The.

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records

ISSUE 6 (June 2023) Ewan MacColl The Manchester Rambler (1932) meets Kate Bush Breathing (1980) - selected by Claire Curtin

Issue 6 New Dawn has been developed by Claire Curtin around two tracks, Ewan MacColl The Manchester Rambler from 1932 and Kate Bush Breathing from 1980 (with an additional nod to Nina Simone Feeling Good from 1965). The issue explores the adage of Lee Scratch Perry: "Music, it just makes you feel good" and includes the voices of Vera and Emma Curtin as well as the family variations on MacColl’s song. The issue comprises hand-written lyric alterations, riso and digital prints, hazard tape slip bands and a new Gakkenised 1'30" track with dub version on reverse (original stereo versions below).

Alan: "One day I glanced at Claire's Instagram profile and realised we needed to do something together: "Walking art practices in the context of nuclear disarmament. Printmaking, moving image & other stuff. Anti-racist. Glasgow X Leeds X Umeå X Manchester". We'd chatted in the past about music and riso and Glasgow and Manchester and I was thinking about the Protest & Survive video she did, swimming with screen printed dazzle submarines in Loch Long facing the Coulport Military base where Britain's Nuclear Warheads are stored. We started chatting about how this might come together through folk music or something about the futures of all our children. And, yes, it's technically two tracks Claire has picked (or even three) but that's what i hoped for .... I wasn't totally familiar with the two main songs but the issue brings together Breathing's fear of nuclear fallout from within the womb with the Kinder Trespass background of MacColl's song."

Claire: "When Alan first asked me to join this project I thought, great, it’s a no brainer - something by Lee Scratch Perry! But how on earth do you pick an all-time favourite from a prolific icon like LSP?! His words on music “basically, it just makes you feel good” stuck wistfully in my head (see letterpress print I made at London College of Communication in 2017 below othger images). He’s always with me, every time I wash my face I am submerged in a theme tune of Baaathroom skank. Then I started to think of Nina Simone, but again where do you start? Her versions of Feeling Good, Here Comes the Sun and Sinnerman take special songs into the spectacular, but protest songs like Mississippi Goddam and Four Women leave a deep and lasting impression, moving and made to move. Thinking about moving and being moved I thought of my time in Glasgow singing with other artists, sharing our voices in each other’s work and walking alone in protest at Ministry of Defence land in Faslane and Coulport. One song had a lasting impression on me - Breathing. We sang our version together and I always thought of my mum, Vera.

Brought up on a diet of protest and music meant when my niece came along we all started singing The Manchester Rambler to soothe her, each with our own variation of the words. Agreeing that “I am a free man” wasn’t suitable for us, we dished out our various solutions; I suggested “free woman” but my sister Emma pointed out that it wasn’t very inclusive. She offered “free one” which fits neatly but perhaps is aurally too similar so mum offered “I have my freedom on Sunday”.

If pushed, Breathing became the main influence for this work and while it feels strange not to have chosen Nina or Lee, the song has been spinning round in my head and since having my own kid, breathing has become more pertinent than ever before. As an artist campaigner for nuclear disarmament, the apocalyptic warning within the song speaks to me and my work. Through this process I have been thinking about the notion that nuclear weapons are the chocolate teapot of defence while vinyl feels like a safer way to archive music than the vast expanse of digital media. I thought, what if vinyl could be the next ‘nuclear defence’ (a term I’d heard as a child, one which sounded like a harmless shield). I had the playful idea that flying vinyl could become an alternative defence to a nuclear attack. The zine references the graphic shapes of military imagery; the vinyl stamped with a diagrammatical image from a thermonuclear warhead fighting the iconic shapes of a vanguard submarine and trident bombs. My issue is a neat collision of all of my work, thoughts and feelings about nuclear disarmament, walking in protest, love and music. The recording includes me, mum and Emma figuring out the lyrics to The Manchester Rambler, the small sounds of my daughter Alba-Jay (dawn bird) and a poem I wrote for this project."

Side A (coloured label) - click here for original stereo MP3 of New Dawn and here for Side B (black/yellow label), New Dawn dub.

With thanks to Tom Rodgers and Rick Marriner.

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records

ISSUE 7 (May 2023) Tom Tom Club Genius of Love (1981) - selected by Chris Wallace

Issue 7 Who needs to think when your feet just go has been created by Chris Wallace around the Tom Tom Club track Genius of Love from 1981. The issue comprises one 1'30" audio track on single-sided 5" vinyl in printed sleeve, pop up Dissolves featuring Hamilton Bohannon and Kurtis Blow, Earworm wireworks in yellow envelopes and double-sided A4 text.

Alan: "In 1988, Chris – who was in the year below in Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art – made me up a C90 tape that I keep to this day, featuring Black Flag, Lydia Lunch, Bee Gees, Patti Smith, Glen Campbell, Fire Engines, Dinosaur Jnr, Gun Club, Ut and Tex Ritter’s Deck of Cards. A lot of us were making compilations at that time – I got a great industrial / ritual / u-sound one from @douglasgordonart – but this one from Chris was exceptional in its breadth and sequencing. It planted an idea that compilations could be adventurous conversations around themes rather than blinkered genres.

I now also know that Chris, like myself, keeps a record of all the records he’s bought so it’s a no-brainer to invite him. His work is wiry, knowing, philosophical and careful. The packaging of the issue evidences that. I source exactly the right green card for us to print on with white ink and we decide on old pages from Wire magazines to carefully protect the issue during posting, but not just any pages, the Inner Sleeve feature that invites people to reflect on their favourite sleeve designs.

Speaking of keeping a record of records, Chris scanned his entry from 25 March - 9 September 1986 page that includes the day he buys that first Tom Tom Club LP. Curiously, during the exact same period (see image below), I buy Iggy & The Stooges, Hüsker Dü, Cocteau Twins, Butthole Surfers Rembrandt Pussy Horse, Smiths The Queen is Dead, Nightingales, Alan Vega, Christ on Parade, 3 Mustaphas 3, Nick Cave First born is dead , Clock DVA, Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV, Meteors, Soup Dragons Whole wide world, Jesus & Mary Chain, Smiley Culture, Dead Kenendys, The Cramps, Sonic Youth, Big Stick, Shockabilly and Voice of Authority - it's a great time for underground feedback, distortion and energy.

This new 5" record itself however, made by the Gakken Toy Record Maker, is anything but precise. To hear modern electronic dub sounding like an early 20th century wax cylinder recording played through a distant railway station Tannoy is unsettling and anachronistic, a quality of sound disrupting meaning like the iPhone suddenly appearing in the sixties-looking Love Witch. The Gakken requires a mono file with lots of equalising but here is an MP3 of Chris' original composition.

Chris: "In the Summer of 1981, as my Dad drove me around in his Datsun Cherry, I heard Tom Tom Club’s first hit Wordy Rappinghood. This kindled my interest. Genius of Love was released later that year in October and I was hooked. The status of Genius of Love was further elevated by its video. Its wobbly felt-tip pen animation was a fabulous vision although I didn’t actually see it in colour at the time because we only had a small black and white portable TV with no video recorder. MTV had only been launched in the U.S. in August. In fact, I only saw it once or twice ... by chance. I sensed that it was extremely novel, although it didn’t have the naff-ness of a ‘novelty record’. I think it was a big crossover hit, it appealed to children and cool dance audiences. As a 14-year-old, surrounded by electro pop, I was on the cusp of my ‘cool’ identity. The lyrics additionally provided some intriguing signposts to an unexplored world of funk, soul and reggae.

All of the artists listed are now cornerstones of my record collection: Bootsy Collins, Smokey Robinson, Bob Marley, Sly and Robbie, Bohannon, Kurtis Blow and of course James Brown. It took me a further 5 years to finally own Genius of Love. It’s on their first album which I bought at a record fayre at the McLellan Galleries in Glasgow, a fact noted in my purchase archive on 31.08.86, two weeks before I became an undergraduate student at Glasgow School of Art. Those fayres were regular, sprawling and majestic affairs and, after a visit to one, I would have strange dreams for the rest of the following week that involved discovering rare records with elusive images on their covers.

My recording is a document of my 11-year-old son Gil playing some treated keyboard stabs over some handclaps and bass. I’ve designed a sleeve and label in response to the lyric Who needs to think when your feet just go, created a set of pop-up Dissolves that celebrate two of the less familiar artists on the Tom Tom Club list (Hamilton Bohannon and Kurtis Blow), paid homage to the energy of the video with the Earworm multiple made from reclaimed copper electrical wire and penned a short philosophical text in response to the lyric which is part of the recording, alebit a little lost in our lo-fi recording process."

With thanks to Tom Rodgers and Fred Aldous.

Genius of Love Tom Tom Club

What you gonna do when you get out of jail?
I'm gonna have some fun. What do you consider fun?
Fun, natural fun. I'm in heaven. With my boyfriend, my laughing boyfriend
There's no beginning and there is no end. Time isn't present in that dimension
He'll take my arm. When we're walking, rolling and rocking
It is one time I'm glad I'm not a man. Feels like I'm dreaming, but I'm not sleeping
I'm in heaven. With the maven of funk mutation
Clinton's musicians such as Bootsy Collins
Raise expectations to a new intention. No one can sing
Quite like Smokey, Smokey Robinson
Wailin' and skankin' to Bob Marley
Reggae's expanding with Sly and Robbie
Oops! Your mama said uh (x3)
All the weekend. Boyfriend was missing. I surely miss him
The way he'd hold me in his warm arms. We went insane when we took cocaine
Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon
Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow
Who needs to think when your feet just go. With a hippie-the-hip and a hippie-the-hop
Who needs to think when your feet just go Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon
Who needs to think when your feet just go Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon
James Brown, James Brown, James Brown, James Brown

If you see him. Please remind him, unhappy boyfriend
Well, he's the genius of love
He's got a greater depth of feeling
Well, he's the genius of love. He's so deep

Signposts "As I mention in my introduction, the track includes some useful signposts which I eagerly followed. Bootsy Collins - his first solo album, George Clinton is all over it too, Prince was taking notes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, all the hits are here. These are a great series of Tamla Motown comps, My Girl Has Gone is a fave, Bob Marley, I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t own any Bob Marley vinyl, just 3 CDs, this, Soul Rebels and Exodus, they are all brilliant of course, Sly + Robbie / Tappa Zukie, they both play on these Tappa Zukie Dubs, towering, stately, mind-altering, Hamilton Bohannon, a brilliant, infectious, minimalist disco record, Kurtis Blow / Fat Boys, don’t own any Kurtis Blow solo work but he wrote a number of tracks on this 2 x LP that has some phenomenal extended human beat boxing on it, James Brown Talkin’ Loud and Saying Nothing on this 1972 album is a juggernaut of total rhythm, I have an even better unedited version on the 2 x LP In the Jungle Groove."

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records

ISSUE 8 (Apr 2023) Betty Boo Where are you baby? (1990) - selected by Betty Boolean

Issue 8 The SECRET ORIGIN of Betty Boolean has been created by Betty Boolean around the Betty Boo track Where are you baby? from 1990. The issue comprises two 1'00" audio tracks on double-sided 5" vinyl in printed sleeve and sash, including QR codes linking to textwork, exclusive 16p colour zine unpacking the story further, reworked Bacon Masks, fragments from A smell of money down the drain and comic book pages.

Alan: "Visiting our RAY + JULIE sculpture in September 2017, I noticed a poster for the Roy Lichtenstein Tate exhibition on the wall behind RAY by the Dog’s Trust mural (replaced in 2019 by the Nikita Parris one). Over the main image, a reproduction of the In the car painting of 1963, someone has added two speech bubbles: “OH! UM! TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE THIS IS I DO THINK! ROY!” from the female and “SHUT UP BETTY! @#!£ OFF BACK TO LIVERPOOL” At the top someone has written neatly “IMAGE DUPLICATRIX 2017” and the bottom “Betty Boolean 2017 23/17 after Tony Abruzzo, the American comic book artist that Lichtenstein literally drew many of his images from. This most curious intervention – just one poster – enters into the RAY + JULIE history and after making some enquiries via social media, it isn’t until going to see Loose Articles at Futureyard in February 2023, that bettyboolean introduces themself to me."

"I buy that Betty Boo single on 9th September 1990 around the same time as the colossal Stone Roses One Love, Dinosaur Jnr The Wagon, BDP Edutainment, Bob Mould Black Sheets of Rain, Mazzy Star She hangs brightly and Wedding Present Corduroy. It’s a week after the Bellgrove billboard is installed and a week before I leave the UK for the first time to spend a semester at School of Art Institute of Chicago. I take all those tunes with me on cassette and my senses are very heightened. Where are you baby? seems to take us back to a Shirelles or Shangri-Las type title and with it’s Velvelettes sample from 1964, exactly the stuff that Roy might be listening to. I also associate that particular question (without the baby) with being lost in downtown Chicago, trying to meet up with people in the days before internet or mobile phones. You could say that the notion of where are youback in 1990 is more of a metaphor as we are devoid of GPS, updates, tracking or CCTV. Fear of getting lost. Fear of being alone. Where are you, RAY + JULIE? Where are you, ROY + BETTY?"

Betty Boolean: "Alan Dunn's TOP TEN project pushes all the right buttons for me. I'm all about lo-fi and noise and I've experimented with tape recording my own noise for years. It's analogue all the way. So when I was asked if I wanted to make a five inch vinyl record I didn't hesitate. I took music very seriously when I was young and if you had pressed me for a favourite track then it wouldn't have been the one I've chosen for this project. Whats not to like about Betty Boo? She's beautiful! On top of the simplicity of the rap over a twelve bar blues ... I love the track Where are you baby? but the character she's created is as much a work of art, like Warhol or Dali before her. I love the comic-book aesthetic of the video - the track embodies everything that informs my creative urge. Betty Boo taught me that an artist, like any great superhero, needs a secret identity. So when I finally understood that I was an artist I looked no further than Betty Boo for inspiration in creating my own. I'd be lying if I said Betty Boo was the only source behind the Betty Boolean pseudonym but she was a significant one and she arrived during a period of my life when I was particularly susceptible to her influence ...

The zine I've put together is an attempt to explore the source of my own creative drive and show off some of my more successful efforts. For the audio, I recorded the Betty Boo on one track then played over it on the other 3 tracks of my old 4 track, mostly what’s left is one track that I recorded through the laptop's built in mic. I hope it floats your boat."

Alan: "With the double-sided 5” single distorting an interpretation of this sci-fi pop classic to the very abyss of lo-fi live Throbbing Gristle, Issue 8 sits us in the passenger seat alongside Phil Spector + The Velvelettes, RAY + JULIE, Roy Lichtenstein + Tony Abruzzo and Richard Long + KLAW The Murderous Master of Sound!! Remember George Wyllie and float your boat outwith the bathtub ... "

With thanks to Tom Rodgers and newspaperclub.

The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records

ISSUE 9 (Mar 2023) David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto Forbidden Colours (1983) - selected by David Michael Clarke

Issue 9 Ryuichi & I has been created by David Michael Clarke around the Sylvian & Sakamoto track Forbidden Colours from 1983. The issue comprises two 1'30" audio tracks on double-sided 5" vinyl in printed sleeve, 12p colour booklet, download card and two button badges (the artist as David Sylvian, the artist as David Bowie).

"When Alan Dunn asked me to name my all-time favourite song, I was unable to reply with certainty. This doubt led to a discussion that began with me revealing my humble beginnings in the church choir and my discovery of Adam and the Ants. Our conversation eventually coalesced on our shared admiration for David Sylvain and particularly his collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto on Forbidden Colours, on the soundtrack to the film Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. In a desire to understand this musical composition in a more profound manner, I took piano lessons with my friend, Michel Morillon. These lessons were recorded and edited. Vector graphic designs inspired by a Matisse painting ensued. The process became the work. How I owe so much to Robert Filliou and his thesis, Teaching and Learning as Performance Art!"

With thanks to Tom Rodgers and bestbadges.


The zine with haunting lo-fi home-made 5" records

ISSUE 10 (Feb 2023) Jimmy Smith Back at the Chicken Shack (1963) - selected by Tom Rodgers

INTRODUCTION TO PROJECT After the grand adventures of ZERO PLAN and The zine with 10 names, somebody directed me to the Gakken Toy Record Maker. Jeff Mills and Yuri Suzuki collaborated with the Japanese publisher Gakken to create this amazing little instant record cutting machine (and Devo’s Mark Motherbaugh was involved too so it was a no-brainer). I bought it, assembled it and, with baited breath, cut my first 5” vinyl, a simple spoken word test with me repeating number 9, number 9 and Mary had a little lamb. As that first little record spun, the magical crackly recorded sound swirled around my room and the idea popped out fully formed: let’s do a zine with a free 5” record, call it TOP TEN, invite 10 people to make an issue around their favourite track. Start with number 10. The audio won't be the tracks but orbiting sounds, statements and sonic stories around our TOP TEN. Back in 2001 while working at FACT, staff were invited to vote for an all-time TOP TEN and I remember voting for these three sombre classics:

Public Image Limited Public Image – because of the bass intro and his laugh and because it’s a statement of anger and retribution, a manifesto of getting the first punch in.
Specials Ghost Town – because … see below.
Joy Division Love will tear us apart – because having listened to them aged 14 and worked through and alongside their low feelings, they pull this gem out the hat was the biggest treat imaginable, almost too beautiful to hear.

TOP TEN is completely nostalgic for my introduction to music, home taping, radio, buying singles in HMV or Virgin, Top of the Pops and I’m not even going trying to dress it as anything else. I miss those times and want a little of that thrill back. There’s nothing to blame, I like progress, but at the same time, I miss the idea of rating songs in order of weekly purchases. I just checked and there is still a TOP TEN singles chart. As I start to write this, it's Miley Cyrus and as I edit now (check), it’s … still Miley Cyrus. Some things don't change. Ask me today for an all-time TOP TEN and I’d opt for:

10 Cocteau Twins Sugar Hiccup - because it’s delicate from Grangemouth, like an industrial Scottish Love will tear us apart and because we always knew what Liz was singing, because she loved the Birthday Party and because you can hear her hypnotising eyes on the records.
9 Velvet Underground Who loves the sun – because it’s not got Bowie anywhere near it and it’s not Pale Blue Eyes (which is, of course, fragile and gorgeous), because it’s not from the early stuff which has a TOP TEN all of its own, because it’s from Loaded and they were trying to have a hit (!)
8 Pharrell Williams Happy – because our grandkids love putting on the yellow 12” of this and from the moment it kicks in, the whole house does indeed become happier and yellower.
7 Einstürzende Neubauten Tanz debil – because it’s as startling as when I first heard it at 14, because it’s deliciously underground, non-instrumental and it makes no sense at all but it’s as pretty as Love will tear us apart and as melancholic (and angry) as Ghost Town and because it’s not rooted in anything from my dad’s record collection (Shadows, James Last, Buddy Holly) and because I found out later it meant stupid dance and has lines about greed and opening veins.
6 The Supremes The Happening – because it’s like a spell, catchy as hell and weirdly about an art happening (maybe) and because it sounds like Liz Fraser singing with the Velvet Underground produced by Pharrell Williams and because it’s from 1967 and, like most of this TOP TEN, it has a great bass line.
5 Guided By Voices Gold star for robot boy – because it’s from that period of home recording and these little genius songs emerging from a drunken Dayton basement and because Robert Pollard tried to write a song for each of his class while he was doing his day teaching job and because he’s a talented-as-beatles-grafter.
4 Dua Lipa Good in bed - because it’s good to have something more recent, and she supports Liverpool FC and sings please-ease-ease-ease in such an irresistible way, surely enough for three points and another Champions League?
3 Hüsker Dü Makes no sense at all - because of their sugary poppy sounds like something you can’t just have one of and the drum sound and because of the speed with which the vocals come in and the absolute perfection of each chosen word.
2 The Beatles Something in the way – because it’s the first song I ever remember hearing and it transports me back to being 4 and I hope my records do the same for our grandkids one day and they’ll remember Happy in the same way and because it wasn’t written by Paul or John.
1 Specials Ghost Town - because it’s still out there on its own as the last thing the band did, as a culmination of everything rather than a foundation and because it might be about Easterhouse or at least soured by it and because of that photo my dad took of me in London about to buy it (see ZERO PLAN).

The Gakken is by nature extremely lo-fi. Some of these discs, which all play at 45rpm, may skip or sound like Edison. Some have false starts, sorry. TOP TEN is cantaudio066. Issue 10 made public: 28 February 2023. Copies of each issue for sale, email for details.

Issue 10 Time for Reflection has been created by Tom Rodgers around the Jimmy Smith track Back at the Chicken Shack from 1963. The issue comprises a spoken word eulogy on single-sided 5" vinyl in printed sleeve, edition of 5 postcards and folded poster text.

"My father introduced me my sister and my mother to the music of Jimmy Smith when he bought a re-issue of the album Back at the Chicken Shack when I was in my early teens. The title track is the one piece of Smith’s work that comes to mind whenever I think about why his work is important to me – there is a direct link between the track and my memories of us all listening to the album with my father."