Album Reviews

Section 25: From The Hip (Factory Benelux)

 

fromthehip

 

Poor Section 25. The Manchester-based post-punk band was a victim of fate. Coming from the Manchester scene, the group quickly signed to Factory Records. Their first releases and debut album Always Now suffered not-necessarily unfair comparisons (and accusations of mimicry) to Joy Division. In an effort to break from the confines of such categorization, the band took a much more experimental approach on album number two, The Key of Dreams, which was dismissed because of its lengthy jams and departure from its signature sound.

Third time’s the charm, they say, and album number three, From The Hip, was indeed a charmer Released in 1984, and produced by Bernard Sumner,  the album’s eight songs gelled nicely into one gorgeous, lush thirty-eight minute symphony. Unlike their previous outings, the band seemed more ready to embrace the Factory Records/New Order connection, which, in turn, helps to boost the confidence that’s instantly obvious from the get-go. Yes, there’s a heavy dance groove on “Prepare for Light,” but there are also depths of tenderness on “Desert” and “The Process” that is entirely Section 25’s own. Then there’s the signature hit, “Looking From A Hilltop,” a song that still sounds fresh and ahead of its time, thirty years on. If one needed an album that proudly defined the Factory Records sound, it’s From The Hip.

The bonus disc of material offered in this anniversary edition proves that From The Hip was borne from a group at the top of its form. Three songs, recorded for a Kid Jensen BBC session, are raw and rough, but they show that Section 25 was no mere studio band. A half-dozen demos present most of From The Hip in various stages of creation; instrumental versions of “Looking From A Hilltop” and “The Process” are gorgeous and easily stand on their own, sans vocals, while the stripped down version of “Desert” is even more haunting than the version they released, and, oddly, sounds like an outtake from Nico’s final album Camera Obscura. The set closes with rerecorded versions of “Looking From A Hilltop” (entitled “Another Hilltop” and given a sharp industrial remix by Stephen Morris) and “Reflection,” prove to be from the band’s final recording sessions, made shortly before the death of Larry Cassidy.

Sadly, From The Hip was anomalous. The follow-up found the band stripped down to core members Larry and Jenny Cassidy, and its softer, near-acoustic tones were a far cry from its predecessor—and so unbelieving in it was Factory, that its release date was constantly ignored and pushed back. By the time it was released, the band was over. A return came in the beginning of the millennium, but once again ill fortune followed, with the death of core members Larry and Jenny Cassidy, bringing this underrated band to a seemingly quiet end–though the surviving members hired Larry and Jenny’s daughter Bethany as vocalist, and released a album of new material, Dark Light, which was an interesting rebirth. Regardless, From the Hip is an amazing record, and this expanded edition highlights a band at the top of its form.

BBC session, are raw and rough, but they show that Section 25 was no mere studio band. A half-dozen demos present most of From The Hip in various stages of creation; instrumental versions of “Looking From A Hilltop” and “The Process” are gorgeous and easily stand on their own, sans vocals, while the stripped down version of “Desert” is even more haunting than the version they released, and, oddly, sounds like an outtake from Nico’s final album Camera Obscura. The set closes with rerecorded versions of “Looking From A Hilltop” (entitled “Another Hilltop” and given a sharp industrial remix by Stephen Morris) and “Reflection,” prove to be the band’s final recordings, made shortly before the death of Vin Cassidy.

Sadly, From The Hip was anomalous. The follow-up found the band stripped down to core members Larry and Jenny Cassidy, and its softer, near-acoustic tones were a far cry from its predecessor—and so unbelieving in it was Factory, that its release date was constantly ignored and pushed back. By the time it was released, the band was over. A return came in the beginning of the millennium, but once again ill fortune followed, with the death of core members Larry and Vin Cassidy, bringing this underrated band to a quiet end. Still, From the Hip is an amazing record, and this expanded edition highlights a band at the top of its form.

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