[sic] Magazine

Pink Industry – New Beginnings (1985)

Liverpool has a long established and well-documented musical heritage. In the late 1970s, the city was a fertile breeding ground for a wealth of post-punk bands – Echo and the Bunnymen , Teardrop Explodes , Pete Wylie’s various Wah! incarnations, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Big in Japan , a band whose number included future Lightning Seeds , Ian Broudie , future Slits and Banshees drummer Budgie , Holly Johnson , later of Frankie Goes to Hollywood , and future KLF founder, author and art prankster Bill Drummond . After the dissolution of Big in Japan, their singer Jayne Casey went on to form Pink Military . Pink Military were classic post-punk, with a sound reminiscent of a more austere Siouxsie and the Banshees , with fully embraced electronics and experimental art leanings. They recorded two sessions for John Peel, and released three EPs and the largely excellent album “Do Animals Believe in God?” in 1980 before disbanding.

Jayne Casey returned in 1981 as half of the duo Pink Industry . The other half, Ambrose Reynolds , was an established Liverpool musician who had also briefly passed through the ranks of Big in Japan. Utilising drum machines, synthesizers, tapes and processed bass and guitar, still a relatively unusual approach in 1981, Pink Industry were a giant step on from Pink Military. Debut EP “Forty-Five” was followed in 1982 by an album “Low Technology”, which saw the arrival of second bassist/guitarist Tadzio Jodlowski . A second album “Who Told You, You Were Naked?” arrived a year later. Pink Industry primarily recorded at Ambrose’s home, and whilst their sound was often sparse – or rather, spacious – it didn’t sound particularly lo-fi. They were clearly very adept engineers and producers of their own music.

I’ve seen Pink Industry accused of ripping off Cocteau Twins on more than one occasion, but this is a lazy comparison that’s also very wide of the mark. Not least, such criticisms are chronologically inaccurate as Pink Industry had emerged with a fully formed sound before Cocteau Twins had released their debut EP. Pink Industry also used electronics to a far greater degree and often excluded guitar entirely in favour of dual bass guitars. Finally, Jayne Casey was a wholly different singer to the Cocteaus’ Liz Fraser, more technically limited perhaps (who isn’t?), but equally effective and suited perfectly to the band’s music. Jayne’s sensual drawl and personal lyrics certainly sat in marked contrast to Liz Fraser’s wordless or lyrically obtuse vocals. That’s not to say that there aren’t some sonic similarities between the two bands, though, and Pink Industry records surely happily nestle in many people’s collections alongside Cocteau Twins and other 4AD artists like The Wolfgang Press , Xmal Deutschland and Modern English . Likewise, Pink Industry sit easily alongside some of the better known Factory Records bands of the same era, particularly New Order , Section 25 and Cabaret Voltaire .

Pink Industry’s third and final album, 1985’s “New Beginnings” is, for me, their masterpiece. In terms of sound, the album isn’t terrifically different to its predecessors, but overall, it is bolder, more assured and confident. It showcases a band at the height of their powers and fully in control of what they’re doing. The accompanying single “What I Wouldn’t Give” gained the band wider coverage and acclaim – the song’s lyric namechecked Morrissey and the sleeve featured a photograph of The Smiths vocalist, thus assuring its status as a collectors’ item for legions of adoring Smiths and Morrissey fans for years to come.

Pink Industry released one more single in 1987, a reworking of an early track, “Don’t Let Go”, polished to pop perfection by Ian Broudie. It really should have been a Top 40 hit single. Yet, as to often happens to the best music, it passed most people by, and Pink Industry called it a day.

Jayne Casey went on to find wider success as the founder of the nightclub empire Cream and later as the artistic director of Liverpool European Capital of Culture. Ambrose Reynolds founded Urban Strawberry Lunch in 1987, a community arts group who use recycled materials to make innovative musical instruments. Interest in Pink Industry has remained, however, particularly in mainland Europe, and over the years a couple of compilation albums have emerged. Their records are now hard to come by and fetch large sums on eBay. Fortunately, a couple of years ago, their debut album was remastered and reissued on CD, with extra tracks, by the German label Isegrimm. Reissues of their later albums are on the cards too.

Pink Industry are truly a lost gem, but one that hopefully more people will discover with the current interest in post-punk and the excellent Isegrimm reissues. They are, for me, quite simply one of the best bands of the 1980s whose music stands up as well today as it did when it was first released.

~Scott Sinfield is the founder of the Make Mine Music label as well as the artist formerly (ahem) known as Portal. Scott is currently active as Ringinglow. (See EP review)~

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Scott Sinfield interview