Town or Countryside. Work or Play. Ordinary people like you and I need help. We need help to make the right decisions. Just look at these people…

She really shouldn’t go in there.

He oughtn’t to touch that.

Oh dear, they should know better than that.

What about you! Don’t you know how dangerous that is?

And him? Well its too late for him, he should have listened to the Advisory Circle.

I didn’t hear the original edition of this, but the lure of a vinyl-sized box of Julian House’s lovely 1960’s & 70’s paperback-inspired graphic work was difficult to resist. This is the first release by Ghost Box on vinyl and long may it continue.

First, the music. It isn’t hard to see why Ghost Box’s output has been so successful; it’s charming stuff. It’s the jovial uncle who wears too much beige and buys you sherbet fruits. It’s watching the Doctor Who Christmas special with your mum.

It is intrinsically British music; a mixture of the optimism of post-war utopianism and the foreboding presence of Olde English paganism. It is indebted to library music, the work of the BBC radiophonic workshop, public information films and weird kid’s tv.

Mind How you Go Now is about as close to a traditional song structure as features on the album. Added to the original version of Mind How you Go (which also features on the album) is an underpinning, chugging bass-beat pioneered by the likes of Neu!. The original’s melody is accentuated into an analogue-synth squelch, a familiar trait of the Ghost box repertoire.

The Cuckoo Comes continues in the typical Ghost box vein; a female voice relays information on seasonal weather conditions, her voice slowly getting twisted and blurred and dragged deep into the recesses of a psychedelic, mechanical vortex. This gets a nice re-imagining later in the album by Belbury Poly, who add a sprightly oompa-loompa beat and chop up the vocals a bit.

You can’t help but be pleased by the joyous noises that feature on tracks like Nuclear Substation and Get In The Swim, or find yourself giggling at the po-faced vocal clips on Logo or The Cuckoo Comes.

The sleeve quality itself is fairly standard issue, this is perhaps no surprise given the ‘everyday’ aesthetic of the label , although it would have been nicer to have it made from a thicker card. The print though is a lovely hue of institutional green with a pattern derived from obscure 60’s corporate  identity. There is a nice hefty slab of vinyl inside and inner sleeve reminiscent of a television test screen, albeit in shades of grey-green.

The musical and visual aesthetic of Ghost Box is a happy marriage. The label is certainly a curiosity and seems to have been embraced by mainstream media for nostalgic reasons. But it is more than mere gimmick, the music is in itself a testament to the longevity of the work of the likes of John Baker and Delia Derbyshire at the BBC. It is the work of enthusiasts and should be enjoy as wonderful, curious, eccentric British music.

Listen to samples and buy at Ghost Box HQ. Purchase the vinyl and you get a free download. Why can’t all labels do that?

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