Recurring

Front and back of the regular and limited Fire LP issues. The limited version is shown with and without the Chain With No Name sticker. The last picture is a detail of the embossing. (Pictures from Discogs.)
Booklet and tray of the Fire CD
European CD booklet and tray, Japanese CD front and back cover, inlay and OBI strip, and various views of the US longbox
Inlays of the Fire cassette issue

Personnel
SONIC BOOM – vox starstreamer, burns jazz guitar, vox super-continental, vox conqueror, acoustic twelve-string, synthesiser, samples, feedback, tremeloes, drones, vocals
JASON – fender telecaster, acoustic guitars, autoharp, bluesharp, piano and keyboards, vocals
WILL CARRUTHERS – bass vibrations
MARK REFOY – fender telecaster, acoustic guitars
JON MATTOCK – percussion

Releases and Tracklistings
Released on Fire Records, February 1991. LP (FIRE LP23), early copies sold via The Chain With No Name in gold embossed sleeve (FIRE LP23S). MC (FIRE MC23).

  1. Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here) (Kember)
  2. Just To See You Smile (Orchestral Mix) (Kember)
  3. I Love You (Kember)
  4. Set Me Free/I’ve Got The Key (Kember)
  5. Set Me Free (Reprise) (Kember)
  6. Feel So Sad (Reprise) (Pierce)
  7. Hypnotized (Pierce)
  8. Sometimes (Pierce)
  9. Feelin’ Just Fine (Head Full Of Shit) (Pierce)
  10. Billy Whizz/Blue 1 (Pierce)

The Fire CD (FIRE CD 23), issued simultaneously, has five extra tracks distributed throughout the album.

  1. Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here) (Kember)
  2. Just To See You Smile (Orchestral Mix) (Kember)
  3. I Love You (Kember)
  4. Set Me Free/I’ve Got The Key (Kember)
  5. Set Me Free (Reprise) (Kember)
  6. Why Couldn’t I See (Kember)
  7. Just To See You Smile (Instrumental) (Kember)
  8. When Tomorrow Hits (Mudhoney)
  9. Feel So Sad (Reprise) (Pierce)
  10. Hypnotized (Pierce)
  11. Sometimes (Pierce)
  12. Feelin’ Just Fine (Head Full Of Shit) (Pierce)
  13. Billy Whizz/Blue 1 (Pierce)
  14. Drive/Feel So Sad (Pierce)
  15. Feelin’ Just Fine (Alternative Mix) (Pierce)

The German (LP (Dedicated, ZL 74917), CD (Dedicated, ZD 74917), MC (Dedicated, ZK 74917)), US (CD (RCA/Dedicated, 3047-2-R), MC (RCA/Dedicated, 3047-4-R)) and Japanese (CD (BMG/Dedicated, BVCP-131)) issues have yet another variation on the tracklisting.

  1. Big City (Kember)
  2. Why Couldn’t I See? (Kember)
  3. I Love You (Kember)
  4. Just To See You Smile (Kember)
  5. Set Me Free/I Got The Key (Kember)
  6. When Tomorrow Hits (Arm/Turner/Peters/Lukin)
  7. Feel So Sad (Pierce)
  8. Hypnotized (Pierce)
  9. Sometimes (Pierce)
  10. Feelin’ Just Fine (Head Full Of Shit) (Pierce)
  11. Billy Whizz/Blue 1 (Pierce)

‘Big City’ is the 7″ version rather than the Fire album version. ‘Why Couldn’t I See?’ has the gramatically correct addition of a question mark in its title compared to the Fire issues. ‘Just To See You Smile’ is the orchestral version from the Fire issues, but slowed down by about 4%. ‘Feel So Sad’ is ‘Feel So Sad (Reprise)’ from the Fire issues. ‘Billy Whizz/Blue 1’ is faded out by 4:45, missing out most of the instrumental passage at the end of the Fire versions, but then fades back in for a few seconds of ‘Feel So Sad (Reprise)’ – this is listed as a separate track, ‘Feel So Sad (Flashback)’ on the Japanese CD. All other tracks are identical to the Fire originals.

Reissued on Space Age Recordings in 2004 (CD, ORBIT012CD), with a modified cover. Reissued again on Space Age Recordings in 2016 (CD, ORBIT055CD), 2017 (LP, ORBIT055LP, red vinyl) and 2018 (LP, ORBIT055LP, 180 gram black vinyl). All have the same tracklists as the respective Fire LP and CDs.

Reissued in 2018 on Superior Viaduct (LP, SV152), with liner notes by Marc Masters and a download code.

Other Information
Special thanks to Richard Formby (lead and rhythm guitars), Pat Fish (flute), Owen John (violins), Alex Green (saxophones). Produced by Sonic Boom and J. Spaceman. Recorded at V.H.F. Rugby, engineered by Paul Adkins. Except [‘When Tomorrow Hits’] and [Jason’s side], remixed at Battery Studios, London, engineered by Anjali Dutt and Sarah Bedingham. Original artwork by Mr. Ugly. Layout by Hand And Eye. Thanks to Andrew and Judith.

Relationships between Pete Kember and Jason Pierce had been on the decline since the recording of Playing With Fire, with matters coming to a head during a meeting at the Fire Records offices to finalise the songwriting credits for that album. From that point onwards, the two main Spacemen rarely collaborated in the studio, although Spacemen 3 would continue as a live act for most of 1989, and on paper until mid-1990. The first solo Sonic Boom album, Spectrum, was recorded in 1989 while there was no reason for any of the participants to think that Spacemen 3 would not be continuing, and features contributions from the entire band, including a solo from Jason on ‘You’re The One’, and the recording of Recurring began shortly before Spacemen 3’s appearance at the 1989 Reading Festival.

Throughout the majority of the recording, Pete and Jason would work separately, drawing on the other Spacemen where required. It was not unknown for there to be some overlap between the two camps; Jason has guitar parts on some of Pete’s songs, and Will remembers the last time he was in the studio with the band as an attempt for them to record ‘When Tomorrow Hits’ as a live endevour with everyone present, although the final version features various overdubs. But Pete doesn’t feature on any of Jason’s songs, and Recurring is best viewed as two solo works. This was cemented when the decision was made to completely separate Pete and Jason’s songs so that they occupied one side of the album each.

The release of Recurring was delayed, mainly while Pete worked on perfecting the mixes of his tracks. By the time of its release in February 1991, Jason’s new band Spiritualized had already released one single, with their debut album Lazer Guided Melodies recorded and due to be released in May. Soul Kiss (Glide Divine), the debut album from Pete’s new band Spectrum, followed in June.

Mr Ugly, the credited sleeve artist, was a psuedonym for Natty Brooker.

Reviews

Reviews from NME (on realease and in summary), Melody Maker, Sounds and Vox

Other Pictures

Adverts as printed in Vox and the NME

My Take
Spacemen 3 were a band who made four very different studio albums, but some albums are more different than others, and Recurring clearly stands as their most unusal, clearly a breed apart from their other work. Some fans were disappointed at the divergence from the “classic” Spacemen 3 sound and the lack of guitar workouts, with the only track that comes close, the cover of ‘When Tomorrow Hits’, not even forming a part of the vinyl release. With the main participants no longer collaborating to any significant degree, it has been said to be a Spacemen 3 album in name only rather than a band effort.

While it is true that this is not an album filled with Kember/Pierce harmony, this was a state of affairs that was not so far removed from that of Playing With Fire, and the decision to split the tracks into one side Pierce, one side Kember makes Recurring an easier album to listen to in its entirety than the previous Spacemen offering. And an easy listen it is; despite the lack of guitar rockers, despite the turmoil behind its recording, despite its lateness in arriving making it somewhat out-of-time, Recurring is a superb album.

Pete spoke in several interviews about using his solo album Spectrum as a repositary for his downbeat songs, leaving Recurring for his more positive compositions, and his side is shot through with happiness and contentment. ‘Big City’ sets the scene, inspired by the atmosphere at the Happy Mondays concerts he had attended in the late 80s, and it is a particular shame that this wasn’t released as a single at least a year earlier, when it could have become part of the ‘Fool’s Gold’ / ‘Loaded’ / ‘WFL’ indie-rock axis. ‘I Love You’ is particularly joyous, and is enhanced by some of Will’s most inventive basslines. The over-relaxed atmosphere and laughter of the ‘Set Me Free’ reprise is contageous, although it is better that the chuckling was confined to this one track rather than running throughout side one, as had been Pete’s original intention. Only ‘Why Couldn’t I See’ brings the mood down, with Pete being unable to resist commenting on the fallout within the band, but this can be overlooked considering that it counts as one of the CD’s extra tracks rather than being a core component of the album. Of course, the prevailing feel of the music is underpinned by the repetitiveness and drones that are so key to the Spacemen 3 sound, but this is a side that heads in several directions, and leaves the listener optimistic about where this faction of the band will head to next.

And then there is the flip to side two. There is less of a variety of tone to Jason’s songs, but when you hit on textures like this, an atmosphere so gentle and delicate, why rock the boat for the sake of it? The previous single ‘Hypnotized’ is one of the band’s greatest achievements, and sets the scene for the washes of sound that fill the remainder of the album. ‘Sometimes’ is perhaps the laziest recording the band ever made, feeling as if it has to constantly push itself just to keep going, the violins gently adding to the blissed-out feel. ‘Billy Whizz/Blue 1’ is a disconcerting end, Recurring’s own throwback to ‘Call The Doctor’ from The Perfect Prescription, hinting that things are not as serene as they could be. Jason’s side is often described as the first Spiritualized mini-album, but it has a very different feel from the slickly produced work that Pierce’s new band would produce, and is better thought of as a something unique and of itself.

‘When Tomorrow Hits’ is another song that didn’t appear on the original LP, and as such could be considered an extra track rather than something essential to the album, but its placement on the CD, separating the Kember and Pierce sides, is a particular stroke of genius. Cover versions have played a central role in the Spacemen 3 story, and the final one they recorded as a band is an absolute triumph, from the crisp drumbeats that kick it off, through the woozy and menacing verses, to the devastating solo, the only song from this period that features substantial contributions from Kember and Pierce works perfectly as the dividing line between two very different but equally satisfying final sides of original material.

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