In the summer of 1986 Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse tried to get a major record deal with Simon Cowell, but Simon thought that the lyrics to the songs were too uncompromising and were unlikely to get any radio airplay. That’s obviously not true. But that’s pretty much the scenario that Sonjah and Ian faced when they took an album of songs to the major labels in London. Lots of interest and revisits to EMI, London Records, A&M, Island, Polydor and so on. Sonjah and Ian were on the cusp of a deal, but the risk averse A&R reps struggled with Sonjah’s deeply personal and political lyrics. She covered subjects such as the Salvadorian civil war, (graphically); transvestism and religion; a (funk) feminist critique of the contraceptive pill; a celebration of criminal damage to a vivisection lab; and a heart-breaking and honest admission of cheating in a relationship. It was just too much for the conservative sensibilities of the time. The songs were recorded at 569 Wilmslow Road. Home to the band Dislocation Dance’s studio and rehearsal space. Some of the songs went on to feature in Dislocation Dance’s live shows, but none were actually professionally recorded. Manchester’s legendary world music label, Bop Cassettes, released the recordings in 1987 as an LP and EP. But until now the songs have languished in a box.
Ian wrote the music and Sonjah the melodies and lyrics. Sonjah’s beautiful vocal phrasing perfectly complementing Ian’s soulful and melodic playing. All the songs were engineered and produced by Ian. This was a world of analogue, of course. All of the synths, bass, guitar and keys were played, usually in one take, as dropping in and out was tricky if you’re both the engineer and musician. Not a sequencer in sight!! Sonjah and Ian were the Amy and Mark of their time, (probably too much ahead of their time).
For those who buy the album from BandCamp there is a bonus 7 track EP of demos that Ian recorded for Dislocation Dance in 1985, none of which have ever been previously released. The tracks are all recorded at 569 Wilmslow Road and feature drummer Richard Harrison, (Dislocation Dance), on 4 of the tracks.
Message from Ian Runacres
In September 2019 my 19-year-old son Joel, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma. This is the most aggressive and lethal of all brain cancers. To help prolong his life, the best option for Joel is to receive a pioneering new treatment, as quickly as possible. The treatment is in the form of a personalised vaccine manufactured from Joel’s own tumour tissue, but it is very expensive. All income from the sale of this LP will contribute towards crowdfunding for Joel’s treatment. The aim is to help Joel live longer.
Information about Joel’s story and the fundraising campaign can be found at Go Fund Me and Facebook
Previous Dislocation Dance releases on German Shepherd Records also support the Help Joel Live Longer campaign.