Last winter a buzz started about the new group that Trevor Jackson had started, called Playgroup. Trevor is the guy who runs Output Records, the label that put out all the early Fridge releases and all the Sonovac (how come THEY seemed to slip through the cracks?!) records.
UK magazines had ads for the debut Playgroup single Make It Happen. I remember reading in Sleazenation that Make It Happen touched upon the NYC No-wave sound with a dance feel. This sounded pretty great to me, but the single was nowhere to be found. A couple of months went by and ads appeared for a second single Bring It On, but still the records did not show up in the shops.
At this point I had gotten the debut 7" through a friend who picked it up for me in a London shopping trip. Another friend had found the 12" version of the single as well. Make It Happen had an ESG feel, with a sexy female vocal by Kyra (ex-Thee Headcoatees) . For once a single lived up to the expectations built for it!
Click to the present, and finally the Playgroup full length has shown up everywhere. I bought this the first time I saw it, before finding out that the LP version has an extra track (4th Sex Baby) with both Peaches and Gonzales singing (doh!). The track has not appeared anywhere else (I am writing this in May 2003).
Make It Happen remains a total killer track, and Bring It On is at least as good, if not better. Bring It On features Le Tigre's Kathleen Hanna on vocals, and samples both the intro of The Slits song UK Boatlaw and the Paul Haig (bassist/frontman of Josef K) song Mad Horse.
The record has many notable guests and contributors on it, all detailed on the band's website. Edwyn Collins (of Orange Juice) appears on several tracks including the cover of Paul Simon's 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. None of this really matters to me though, as I am listening to the record for joy, not for the 'whos who' aspect.
The 2 songs that initially gave me that joy were Make It Happen and Bring It On. The rest of the record initially struck me as glossy discopop with a modern feel: Liquid Liquid, ESG, and Jah Wobble, with touches of stuff I don't like as much, like later period The Police.
The song that I keep coming back to (and loving more each time) is Front 2 Back, the collaboration with KC Flightt. The vocals in the song are ultra energetic, and tap dance on top of the great beats Trevor Jackson built the song on. Front 2 Back is that rare kind of song that just takes your breathe away.
I love this record and have got to admit that its staying power has been incredible. I enjoy the record very much.