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Zang Tuum Tumb review: What is the Value of Entertainment?

value

The Value of Entertainment is a new CD+DVD reissue from ZTT / Union Square Music that requires a little bit of explanation. In part it is an (almost) first-time-on-CD reissue of the 1985 compilation IQ6 Sampled (Japan got in there first, last year) and at the same time it’s an (almost) first-time-on DVD reissue of the old VHS The Value Of Entertainment which was a visual summary of series of concerts held at London’s Ambassadors Theatre in 1985. A ZTT ‘showcase’ if you will.

The Sampled album was issued on vinyl and cassette (IQ C 6) at the time and as the name suggests was effectively a sampler featuring the acts on the label’s roster.  But rather than issue this as a promo-only item, as other record companies would have done, it was made available commercially, so you got to pick it up in places like your local Woolies.

In typical ZTT fashion it was full of rarities and oddities. After a snippet from the Art of Noise’s Close (To The Edit) – called Closing in this context – the at-the-time unreleased Frankie Goes To Hollywood recording Disneyland, made an appearance along with amongst other tracks, a demo of French chanteuse Anne Pigalle’s Looking For Love and Propaganda’s cover of The Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale.

ZTT curator Ian Peel also discovered an early version of Sampled in the archive that had some variants when compared to the finished release. These are appended to the album proper for this reissue. These ‘director’s cuts’ do require the listener to undertake a Quincy-style forensic examination to spot the differences and when discovered, they don’t amount to a hill of beans… an extended intro here (Closing), a chopped intro there (no ‘hello Newcastle’ on Frankie’s live Born To Run), extra ‘swampy’ noises on Instinct’s Swamp Out… Maybe I’m just getting old, but there’s only so many minute variations to ZTT archival recordings that a man can take. Not sure these were entirely necessary.

The inclusion of the Art of Noise’s ‘Ambassador’s Reel’ is good though, particularly the 10-minute Medley (now renamed Another Time To Hear (Who’s Listening)) that was previously only available on the 2006 And What Have You Done With My Body, God box set.

The DVD element features live performances from some of the artists on the CD; such as Propaganda, Instinct, and Anne Pigalle. Instinct were fronted by Angela Jaeger and formed from the ashes of post-punk band Pigbag. Remarkably, this is their only live performance, and Swamp Out on Sampled was the only material that actually got released on record (until 2011 when a remix of Sleepwalking appeared on The Art of the 12-inch compilation). Yes, there were precisely no singles and no albums issued! Word is that a disagreement over production with Trevor Horn resulted in label and band parting company, and not long after the group spilt. A pity, because live performances of Sweat to Pay and Keep The Dream suggest a more than decent debut album was a possibility.

Be warned, this set contains strong and frequent appearances by Paul Morley. If you’ve never warmed to the music journalist-turned-record-label-marketeer then watching the DVD might bring on a bad case of PMT (Paul Morley Tension). He’s at his best/worst saying ‘enigmatic’ things like “… the Art of Noise. Who did you expect?” (perversely, this is after the Art of Noise stayed at home, and were replaced by a dancing Australian man in a leotard); being mean about Howard Jones; wearing an offensive jacket (in a built up area) and going around in true vox pop style asking bemused people “what is the value of entertainment?” (“it doesn’t do anything..” says one chap). It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I suppose you do have to ‘get’ Morley to really enjoy the behind the scenes stuff (I liked it), and hey, its always nice to see glimpse of London at it was back in the 1980s.

The video master tape for The Value of Entertainment is apparently lost, but Ian Peel discovered a version of it in the British Film Institute’s library. This was apparently an edited-for-TV broadcast (it runs for 40 mins) so it is not quite the same as the original VHS release. To make up for it some ‘bonus chapters’ are appended taken straight from a Japanese laserdisc of the original video release.

Despite all this attention to detail, there are still discrepancies. Time Capsule One (the TV edit) only contains about a 70-second clip of Propaganda doing Duel. Time Capsule Two (Laserdisc transfer) promises to make up for this with a ‘Full Version’ of the band’s second single – but it isn’t. You get another couple of minutes of footage split across two clips. That’s probably the most frustrating aspect to the DVD – there’s too many clips and excerpts. Propaganda are by far the brightest light (Ralf Dörper was “not in performance”) with Claudia Brücken proving a great frontwoman, in her best eighties’ cotton whites. The live p:Machinery is the best thing on the DVD, if only because it’s complete. The ‘full version’ on Time Capsule Two is actually the same length as Time Capsule One but you don’t get the credits running over the end of the performance.

The Value of Entertainment CD+DVD set is a logical fusion of 1985 audio release and 1985 live ‘event’ and is beautifully presented, as with all the Element Series. Sampled not being available on CD was a major oversight, now thankfully corrected. Same goes for The Value Of Entertainment which has languished on VHS for decades. It’s just a pity that the live performances are slightly subverted by both PMT and the fact that ZTT is the clearly the headline act, followed by the artists. But what did you expect?

Let’s hope for a Time Capsule Three edition in future which gives us the pleasure of watching unedited live performances from the showcase, but while we wait, The Value of Entertainment double-disc set is out now.


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The Value of Entertainment (CD+DVD)


Track listing

Disc: 1
1. Closing – Art of Noise
2. Disneyland – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
3. Femme fatale (The woman with the orchid) – Propaganda
4. Intermission (The gods are bored) – Anne Pigalle
5. Swamp out – Instinct
6. Egypt – Art of Noise
7. The object is a hungry wolf (Extract 1) – Andrew Poppy
8. P:Machinery (Beta) – Propaganda
9. Looking for love (Demo) – Anne Pigalle
10. A time for fear (who s afraid) (“suicide is painless…” – Art of Noise
11. Born to run (Live) – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
12. The object is a hungry wolf (Extract 2) – Andrew Poppy
13. Closing (The Director’s Cut) – Art of Noise
14. Swamp out (The Director’s Cut) – Instinct
15. Born to run (The Director’s Cut) – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
16. The Amusement (Edit from The Value of Entertainment, 30 May 1985) – Andrew Poppy
17. Beat Box (The Ambassador’s Reel) – Art of Noise
18. Another Time To Hear (Who’s Listening) (The Ambassador’s Reel) – Art of Noise
19. Beat Box (Extract from The Value of Entertainment, 30 May 1985) – Art of Noise

Disc: 2
1. Dream Within A Dream – Propaganda (DVD)
2. London, Summer 1700 hours (DVD)
3. Sweat To Pay – Instinct (DVD)
4. London, Summer 1930 hours (DVD)
5. Hé Stranger – Anne Pigalle (DVD)
6. Doctor Mabuse – Propaganda (DVD)
7. Beat Box, Moments in Love, and… – Art of Noise (DVD)
8. Close (to the Edit) (Full Version) – Art of Noise (DVD)
9. Duel – Propaganda (DVD)
10. Keep The Dream (Full Version) – Instinct (DVD)
11. London, Summer 2300 hours (DVD)
12. P:Machinery – Propaganda (DVD)
13. London, Summer 2315 hours (DVD)
14. Close (to the Edit) – Art of Noise (DVD)
15. Time Travel Apparatus (DVD)
16. Keep The Dream, Via Vagabond, Duel (Full Version) – Instinct, Anne Pigalle, Propaganda (DVD)
17. P:Machinery (Full Version) – Propaganda (DVD)
18. End Credits (DVD)
19. Andrew Caitlin – Gallery (DVD)

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19 responses to Zang Tuum Tumb review: What is the Value of Entertainment?

  1. Eric says:

    I do find it bizarre that Ian “radio edits are a waste of space” Peel thinks that very, very minor alternatives of ZTT recordings are, funnily enough, worth adding to CDs he curates!

    Do as I say, not as I do…I suppose.

  2. Paul Anthony Chapman says:

    Spot on with your review Paul.

    The Value of Entertainment is a curio, as a huge Propaganda fan, it’s always been a frustrating watch, picture quality isn’t bad in places, but the ‘gig’ or Showcase is so badly edited.

    However Sampled is really where my interest lies, good to finally hear it remastered and sounding better than ever.

  3. Mike Hayes says:

    No Eric I definitely disagree . Closing is a brilliant Art of Noise track and this new version is much longer (well 20% longer!!). Hardly a very, very minor difference and certainly no a Radio Edit!

    Also the new version of Swamp Out is quite different and well worth including I think.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      “much” longer lol… perhaps in percentage terms but it’s barely 20 seconds longer. The Director’s Cut has all the tedium of ‘Closing’ (tapes winding backwards and forwards…lovely) without the satisfaction of at least breaking into some of the ‘good’ bits of Close (To The Edit).

    • Eric says:

      Oh I’m not saying the different versions shouldn’t be included, but Ian Peel of all people should know the value (to fans, or completists in general) of Single Mixes and Radio Edits. His review of Big Country’s deluxe of Steeltown said the 7″ versions of its singles were “a waste of space”, which surprised me.

  4. Stephen K. says:

    I have no complaints. It’s nice to have this material reissued.

    Funny. I have plenty to say debating the choices on deluxe editions of most albums, but this release has an advantage over them. As a various artists release with no related singles, there’s no obvious bonus material that ‘has’ to be included. Thus, any bonus material is appropriate and welcome, and there cannot be any complaints about missing material that should have been included. A rare win!

    I will acknowledge for the purists that the material of the DVD might have some differences due to the video master being lost, but we should be happier with the sourcing from the BFI than some upscaled dub of an old VHS tape, and it seems like most if not all (or perhaps all) of that different master tape material has been ported from the Japanese Laserdisc.

    It sounds like ZTT did the best job possible.

  5. Stephen K. says:

    Given the various versions of ‘Closing’ that are part of the ‘Close to the Edit’ cassette single, I don’t know how ‘important’ this version is off the top of my head. Probably not much. I’d need to listen to them all again. However, it’s welcome. It’s all welcome, despite much of it making its way on to CD in the past few years. It’s nice to have the original content all in one place.

    Would the playlist be stronger without the bonus material on Disc 1? Ha, got me there! I have no opinion at the moment.

    And hey, ZTT, don’t forget we’re all still waiting for the 12″ version of ‘The World is My Oyster’ from the 2nd 12″ of ‘The Power of Love’. Still unreleased digitally. You’re killing me. You’re killing me!

  6. Em Squared says:

    I had sampled on Chrome cassette & vinyl as a reminder of the showcase gigs way back (they differed only in a few places). The VHS release clearly passed me by so good to see remnants make it to DVD. Great shame the Andrew Poppy performances didn’t make it to video or are they part of the lost master? (mind you doubt that Chris Langham’s comedic efforts made it to film either and even if it had he’d probably now be conveniently omitted). My memory of the gig is that the Poppy pieces were still challenging enough for some of the audience to become a little restless and confused at what they were being made to sit through. Even remember a weak heckle from the back of a very cramped and overheated Ambassadors Theatre. Hurray for Propaganda’s dry ice accompanied set. Look forward to reacquainting myself with the DVD. Presumably a stereo only soundtrack?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes, stereo only. Chris Langham IS on the bonus material on the DVD. You see a clip of his time-traveller ‘gag’ and a brief clip where he turns the tables on PM and asks him ‘what’s the value of entertainment?’

      • Em Squared says:

        Blimey. Completists rejoice.

      • 7deacons says:

        Actual part one of the DVD has mono sound, probably summed using the stereo mix. I guess the broadcast video tape master used for this release had mono sound? UK TV didn’t start broadcasting stereo sound until the very late 1980s.

  7. Chris Lancaster says:

    My vinyl copy of Sampled went west a few years ago, so I’ve been very pleased indeed with the CD. Whilst the bonus material is nice, the album proper reminds me of just how obsessed I was with all things ZTT in my mid-teens. Under normal circumstances, there is no way I would have listened to tracks by a French chanteuse (Anne Pigalle) or an avant-garde classical musician (Andrew Poppy). ZTT and the Sampled LP in particular broadened my musical horizons and taught me that it’s good to try listening to music that you’d normally ignore – you might like it.

    Great to hear Instinct again, especially. I loved Swamp Thing when I first heard it, and wish their album had materialised.

  8. Matttt says:

    Anxiously awaiting this to arrive in the mail here in the US. As a teen picked up this as an import and cherished it. Think I have it somewhere still. Chris Lancaster, glad to read someone else like me around at the same time!

  9. I received the Peel-mail a few days ago for this. I’m happy to see this seemingly forgotten piece of the classic ZTT puzzle digitized by professionals; especially since I had taken to remastering my original LP to CD land over a year ago, only to have my normal duties, which entail making money, sigh, overtake my free time, preventing the some say higher goal of making perfect objects for my Record Cell. Now I can save hundreds of dollars of my time, at least, and get official ZTT manufactured product for my money. A best case scenario! I didn’t need to digitize my Japanese laserdisc since it still plays flawlessly. Having never had the VHS, it’ll be interesting to spot the differences.

  10. Tim Barton says:

    I’ve got the Japanese edition, which looks identical track-for-track. It’s a paper sleeve, with slightly different artwork from this one. It’s also Blu-spec audio-just like The Organisation of Pop (Tokyo Edition), also paper sleeve and both were incredibly reasonable price-wise. I think I will stick with these! They are nicely done.

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