Fad Gadget – Lady Shave (1981)
I am currently playing this song on Spotify which is somewhat hypocritical of me seeing as I recently shared a post laced with pompous indignation, sourced from Portishead musician Geoff Barrow’s Twitter feed in which he lays bare the cold facts about the bands remuneration from various streaming services including Spotify, iTunes, You Tube. The figures were stunning; the band’s music had been streamed 34 million times and how much in royalties did the band receive? £1700!!!!!
But has that stopped me ransacking Spotify on a free subscription to suit my welfare budget? No, I continue to use it. Such cowardice, blind consumerism and hypocrisy would no doubt be perfect fodder for an intelligent, boundary pushing musical artist to make a tune out of. But seeing as they are thin on the ground these days let us cast our minds back to the late 70’s, early 80’s heyday of post-punk instead and shine a light on one of the lesser known figures of the period in which musicians and non-musicians dared to do whatever the fuck they pleased for the sheer heck of it.
The late Englishman Frank Tovey (d.2002) aka Fad Gadget pushed and played with the boundaries of electronic music, creating challenging avant-garde mutant pop critiquing and dissecting culture and society with dark humour and bold experimentation. Tovey also holds the historical distinction of being the first artist signed by Daniel Miller to Mute records in the late 1970’s. Tovey released several acclaimed commercially ignored albums through them as Fad Gadget and under his own name until his retirement from music in 1993.
Lady Shave was a b-side to the standalone non-album 1981 single Make Room and it sounds utterly strange, sinister, sleazy, sadistic, hypnotic, insinuating and suggestive; a cold knife on exposed flesh; industrial pleasure made concrete. It is amused and sickened at our self-love, self-disgust,fascinated by the mechanics of our manufactured desires.