gullbuy music review

The Passage


For All and None (+ 4)


LTM Publishing


The Passage CD cover'For All and None' was the 1981 follow up to The Passage's debut LP 'Pindrop.' The Passage were a Manchester band centered around percussionist/keyboard player/vocalist/writer Richard Witts. Before starting the band he was a percussionist in Manchester's Halle Orchestra.

The first version of the band in 1978 included The Fall bassist Tony Friel and Lorraine Hilton. This lineup recorded two 7inches for Object Records. By the first full length 'Pindrop' the other members had left, and the band was essentially Dick Witts.

'For All and None' was the first record recorded a with a real band. The Passage on this recording were Dick Witts, 15 year old guitarist Andrew Wilson, and drummer Joe McKechnie (who later was in the band Modern Eon). The band started off influenced by The Fall, but moved into their own territory with electronics, piano and odd rhythms.

On this reissue, LTM has included both sides of two 7inch singles from the same period, including my all time favorite Passage song Troops Out (a new recording of a song from 'Pindrop'). NME's Paul Morley (among other good things) called 'Pindrop' "disquieting" and "a work of disciplined intellectual aggression." I think he really got to the essence of The Passage. Their sound was sparse. Sometimes there was not much going on in the song, though what is played becomes more significant in the absence of other sounds.

There are 3 songs with female vocals on 'For All and None.' Bonus track Devils and Angels featured Lizzy Johnson on vocals. For a short time before 'For All and None' she was the lead vocalist of The Passage. Devils and Angels b-w Watching You Dance was a 7inch released on the band's own label Night & Day. Both songs are well worth checking out. The Shadows features session vocalist Teresa Shaw (a quick replacement for the departed Lizzy Johnson). I'm not crazy for the track. I like the songs Dick Witts sings better.

'For All and None' starts off with Dark Times. Dark Times is a very good song to introduce you to The Passage. It has all the elements: Dick Witts somewhat awkward voice, trebly guitar, rapid tribal drums, and odd rhythms.

I also love Do The Bastinado. It uses single notes of a piano as bass. The tone is familiar yet unusual. This song changes though many structures as it plays.

A Good and Useful Life (begun) is classic The Passage, with Dick Witt's spoken voice way up front in the mix telling a story over sung vocals. The song ends with a strange part that sounds like a metronome or a clock ticking. A Good and Useful Life (revived) is an entirely different song. I like the way the song ends up, but as a whole I prefer the 'begun' version.

Flag Night again uses notes of a piano instead of bass guitar. The tom tom drum sound is combined with tympani and bells to provide counterpart to Dick Witt's whispered voice. Flag Night is right there with the other faves.

Shave Your Head has frenetic guitar and emoted vocals. The song has a fast beat and a catchy melody. The chorus of "shave your head" is almost hummable.

Troops Out is my favorite Passage song. It is very intense and sometimes makes my spine tingle. The vocals are the strongest Dick Witts ever sang, to my ears.

LTM is re-releasing the whole Passage catalogue. This is a very good thing, especially with the bonus tracks added onto each disc. I would recommend this Passage record as a good point to start exploring the band.

---Carl, April 15, 2003