Friday, April 21, 2006

Back to the drawing board

Twelve tracks had been put to tape. Test pressings were made. Even a sleek-looking, deluxe silver sleeve had been proofed. Then it was all shit-canned at the last minute.

Such was the fate of Josef K's debut album, Sorry For Laughing. Upset with the record's slick sound, Postcard Records head Alan Horne called for the release's immediate cancellation. Didn't accurately capture the band's feral live sound, the Edinburgh lads were told. Back to the drawing board for you. (Rumors persist to this day that several thousand finished copies were destroyed. Of course, the LP did eventually see the light of day, when it was finally released on CD in 1990.)

One month later, in December of 1980, Josef K journeyed with label mates (and all-around mates) Orange Juice to Brussels for a New Year's Eve gig at Plan K, a club known for attracting notable U.K. acts like Joy Division. While in Belgium, the group re-recorded their debut album's title track at a joint named Little Big One Studios. The single "Sorry For Laughing" hit shops in April of 1981, released by the Belgian independent label Les Disques Du Crepuscule.

It turned out to be an indie success; naturally, this got Horne's blood to boil. Eventually -- and with Horne's backing -- Josef K re-recorded their entire debut over a six-day span at the same Belgian studio. It was released by Postcard in July of 1981. And as any devotee of the Postcard catalogue can tell you, it was the only LP ever released by the legendary label.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Sorry For Laughing" by Josef K. Without a doubt, one of the best Scottish singles of the 1980s.