Positive Noise

Positive Noise was a Scottish new wave band on Statik Records that released the 1981–82 albums Heart of Darkness and Change of Heart. They issued eight singles, including “Give Me Passion,” “Charm,” “Waiting for the Seventh Man” and two 1983–84 stop-gaps (“When Lightning Strikes,” “A Million Miles Away”) found on their 1985 final album Distant Fires. Original frontman Ross Middleton formed Leisure Process with saxophonist Gary Barnacle.

Members: Russell Blackstock (guitar, vocals), Les Gaff (drums, percussion), Fraser Middleton (bass, backing vocals), Graham Middleton (keyboards), Ross Middleton (vocals, guitar, 1979-81)


Formation

Positive Noise formed in Glasgow in July 1979 when singer and erstwhile Sounds journalist Ross Middleton (aka Maxwell Park) and his brothers Graham (keyboards) and Fraser (bass) teamed with guitarist Russell Blackstock and drummer Les Gaff.


Early Material

Positive Noise debuted with two tracks (“Refugees,” “The Long March”) on the multi-act EP Second City Statik – A Glasgow Compilation, released by the West London post-punk indie Statik with cuts by The Alleged and Restricted Code.

A2. “Refugees”
B3. “The Long March”

Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes served as their technical advisor on both tracks. Statik selected Positive Noise as the label’s inaugural signing.

On August 19, 1980, Positive Noise recorded their first of two sessions for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Their 8/27 broadcast featured “Give Me Passion,” “Down There,” “End of a Dream,” and “Ghosts.”

In March 1981, Positive Noise released their first single: “Give Me Passion” backed with “Ghosts,” both group-written songs. The single’s 12″ version contains a third track, “End of a Dream.”

A. “Give Me Passion”
B1. “Ghosts”
B2. “End of a Dream”

On March 16, 1981, Positive Noise recorded their second Peel session for the DJ’s 4/7 broadcast, which aired the numbers “Charm,” “Love Like Property,” “Treachery,” and “1917 (I’m In the Mood).”


Heart of Darkness 

Positive Noise released their debut album, Heart of Darkness, in May 1981 on Statik. It features ten group-composed songs with lyrics by singer Ross Middleton, including “Refugees,” “Ghosts,” and “Treachery.” Two tracks (“Darkness Visible,” “…And Yet Again”) feature saxophonist Gary Barnacle. Original copies contained a bonus one-sided 7″ with an eleventh song, “Love Like Property.”

1. “Darkness Visible” (6:16) features Public Image Ltd. guitarist Keith Levene.
2. “Hypnosis” (4:00)
3. “No More Blood and Soil” (5:18) features Forbes on backing vocals.
4. “…And Yet Again” (5:09)
5. “Down There” (4:53)
6. “Treachery!” (5:31)
7. “Warlords” (4:45)
8. “Love Is a Many-Splintered Thing” (3:23)
9. “Refugees” (5:21)
10. “Ghosts” (4:44)

C. “Love Like Property” (4:57)

Sessions occurred in December 1980 at the Town House, a London facility owned by the Virgin Studios Group. Positive Noise co-produced the album with Nick Launay, who engineered Heart of Darkness in sequence with 1981 titles by the Birthday Party, Cuban Heels, Gang of Four, Jane Kennaway, Killing Joke, PiL, The Slits, and ex-Cowboys International singer Ken Lockie.

Heart of Darkness sports a red-lined, rich blue cover with the name and title in lower-case Blackletter font. The en-framed front-cover image shows a girl on a dark stairway, photographed by Herbie Yamaguchi, whose imagery also appears on 1980–81 sleeves by John Foxx (“Miles Away”), The Human League (“Empire State Human”), and Duran Duran (Nite Romantics). The inner-sleeve features xeroxed member pics by Robert Sharp, also credited on current sleeves by fellow Scots Aztec Camera, Josef K, and Orange Juice.

“…And Yet Again” also appeared as the b-side of “Charm,” the band’s June 1981 standalone single.

A. “Charm”

After the completion of Heart of Darkness, Ross and Barnacle formed Leisure Process. Positive Noise proceeded with Blackstock as their new frontman.

In October 1981, Positive Negative released their theme song as an exclusive single backed with “Energy.”

A. “Positive Negative”
B. “Energy”


Change of Heart

Positive Noise released their second album, Change of Heart, in July 1982 on Statik.

1. “Feel the Fear” (3:45)
2. “Get Up and Go!” (4:04)
3. “Inhibitions” (4:06)
4. “Obsession” (3:13)
5. “Hanging On” (3:26)
6. “Positive Negative” (2:43)
7. “Waiting for the 7th Man” (3:05)
8. “Out of Reach” (3:34)
9. “Tension” (2:46)
10. “Change of Heart” (4:20)

Producer, Engineer – John Walker, Nick Launay

A. “Waiting for the Seventh Man”
B. “End in Tears”

Oct 1982
A. “Get Up and Go”
B. “Tension”


1983–84 Singles, EPs

Sep 1983
A. “When Lightning Strikes”
B. “When Lightning Strikes” (Instrumental)

When Lightning Strikes (Dance Mix) 4:45
When Lightning Strikes (Instrumental) 3:28
When Lightning Strikes 3:10
Change Of Heart 4:20

Aug 1984
A. “A Million Miles Away”
B. “Shanty”


Distant Fires

Positive Noise released their third album, Distant Fires, in June 1985 on Statik.

1. “When Lightning Strikes” (3:40)
2. “I Need You” (3:38)
3. “Distant Fires” (3:17)
4. “Reckless” (4:04)
5. “Embers” (3:37)
6. “A Million Miles Away” (3:58)
7. “Serenade” (3:16)
8. “Now Is the Time” (4:53)
9. “Always Remember” (3:48)
10. “Entranced” (4:00)

New wave soundman Dave Allen (League Unlimited Orchestra) produced Distant Fires amid work on 1985–86 albums by The Associates, The Chameleons, The Cure, Fra Lippo Lippi, and Thomas Leer.


Discography:

  • Heart of Darkness (1981)
  • Change of Heart (1982)
  • When Lightning Strikes (EP, 1983)
  • Distant Fires (1985)

Sources:

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