Remove Your Hat (Parts 1 & 2)
(I’ve Got A) Nice Girlfriend
(I Only Want To Make You) Smile
Hid It (’Coz I Wanted You To Find It)
Recorded 4 track in France & England ’85-’88
Special thanks to Felix for invaluable assistance.
12” vinyl LP, NO 001, UK, 1988
Lacquer cut by Tim Young at CBS.
Compact Disc, gg316, Austria, 2020
Includes five previously unreleased cuts, circa 1988
Review by Stuart Bruce, Chain D.L.K. 10th July 2020
The second album from Mick Hobbs’ Officer! (the punctuation’s part of the name) was released on vinyl in 1988. It’s been dusted off- or “remastered from the original reel-to-reel tapes” to give it the proper term- and released on CD by KlangGalerie with five bonus unreleased instrumental tracks from around the same time, as part of a rather prolific output.
It’s very 1988, in many ways- a lo-fi guitar-pop with a quirky, folky attitude and the occasional tilt towards the weird, backed up with a pleasant richness of guest string and wind instruments. The sound quality would have felt low-budget even then, and a bit of remastering doesn’t disguise the generally grungy feel. What carries it above that slight sonic problem is the fact it has a very strong ear for a catchy hook and a catchy riff, with elements like the chorus of “Coma” or the infectious opening riff of “Simone” undeniably strong pieces of song-writing.
Certain parts, like the Jethro Tull-ish flute of delightfully odd “r Tune” (a Simon Bates-sampling tune that Bates would never have played), feel both more eccentric and slightly older, harking back to a more experimental 60’s studio feel. “Remove Your Hat”’s first part has that barking mad avantgarde spaciousness, before the second part develops into a song that’s halfway to Madchester, while the Beatles-ripping riff of “Bright Star” seems like a more overt throwback.
“r Tune” is also an example of the unusual lyrical approach, which sits somewhere between straight-faced, wacky and ironic, without ever settling into overt comedy. “Simone, she leaves me accident prone, so I’d better leave her alone […], keeping her body in tone, with food that’s organically grown” is poetry. The introverted but sweet love song parts, such as “(I’ve Got A) Nice Girlfriend”, never quite reaches Jilted John territory, but it’s not far off, while the simple and innocent approach stretches into wilful ironic pretend-dumbness in songs like “Hid It (‘Cos I Wanted You To Find It)”.
As quite a contrast, the five previously unreleased instrumental bonus tracks, rather than being the sparse pop-demo sound that I might have anticipated, are rich experimental pieces with analogue synths and complex time signatures that hint at a very different but equally interesting compositional approach. “Distal Interphalangeal”’s mesmerising counter-play of repeating plinky bell sounds with spontaneous growls is a particular highlight.
It’s oddly endearing from start to finish, and while the clanginess and sonic quality of the guitar does start grating over the course of an hour, it’s an interesting way to get introduced to Hobbs as an off-beat songwriter with some great tunes.
Four Star review from Musique Machine by Roger Batty, July 2020
Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes was the 4th album from Officer!- the decidedly wonky ‘n’ sonic unwell project helmed by Brit Mick Hobbs( Half Japanese). The album originally appeared back in 1988, and it found Mr. Hobbs & his odd sonic cohorts covering a fairly bit of sonic ground. Moving from Syd Barret like pop rock child-like fare, onto general more deranged singer-songwriter fare, drop into off-key synth-pop, simmering art-rock, klezmer tinged jazz moments, strutting reggae, odd world music touches, and a few other fairly surprising genre diversions along the way. Here from the folks at Klanggallerie is a much-needed CD reissue of the late 80’s oddity- adding in six unreleased tracks from the same period, bring up the total release playtime to sixty one minutes.
Like most of Klanggallerie releases, the CD is presented in a four-panel glossy digipak. This features garish yellow & purple color scheme on most of the panels, and a black & white picture of Hobs & his band under the CD- so simple, yet effective bit of packaging.
The line-up for this album is Mick Hobbs- bass, double bass, drums, drum machine, guitars, percussion, recorder, synth, samples & vocals. Bill Gilonis- bass, clarinet, keyboards, thumb piano. Daniel Koskowtiz- drums. Claudia Schmid- Cello & Vocals. Keisuke Gindt & Antoine Gindt- on electric guitars, and Felix Fiedorowicz- Recorder. The original album featured ten tracks, but here it’s expanded to a sixteen-track affair- with extra tracks from the same year.
As an album, Yes Yes No.. wonders from quirky sing-song child-like tunes with angular edges & subtly sarcastic lyric. Onto unwell recorder & synth work-outs with Hobbs wordy & cutting vocals been joined waving female vocals. Through jaunting-yet-off-kilter twee-pop strum along with throbbing synth undertones & playful world music elements. Onto off-color & sinister slurred white man funk, over to awkward indie rock wonders. The bonus tracks bring in more world music elements into the brew- we have the detailed clip-clopping & darting ethnic percussion meets rich ‘n’ churning guitar strums of “Poximal Interphalangeal”, or piping & weaving synth meets African guitar tones and buzzing down feedback of “Whee!”.
This is the second reissue of Officer! back-catalog on Klanggallerie following on from 2018’s Earlier Music- which as it title suggested featured material from the early 80’s- so hopefully they’ll be more reissues along the way. In finish, if you enjoy wonky & off-color Avant pop music, that darts all over the genre map- you’ll be needing to put this CD in your collection!.