Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Sigue Sigue Sputnik—
Sex Bomb Boogie/Sex Bomb Dance


Released 1986 on EMI/Parlophone
The Seth Man, August 2002ce
Throughout their prime years of 1986-87, Sigue Sigue Sputnik set about refashioning most of their first album “Flaunt It” into a profusion of exclusive re-mix singles. Like the Transformer robot which graced its front sleeve, their numerous re-mixes of “21st Century Boy” and “Love Missile F1-11” (the latter released in approximately eight distinctly different covers with dissimilar mixes to match) all mutated into something unmatchable to its previous shape. But out of them all, the German remix of “Sex Bomb Boogie” is by far the severest: capturing the essence of Sigue Sputnik in all their Media Overload 2000™, high-tech sex’n’luxury splendour. In fact, this version makes the studio version seem like a eunuched demo by comparison as the incessant crosscutting and editing make the samples fly fast and furiously around the base guitar riff in a perfect aural reconstruction of an amphetamine-laced channel surfing/sex orgy. This was the sound of a group pushing the envelope and expanding the horizons of a song well past its limits, their own credibility and into something as innovative, luxurious and exciting as the cover’s rendition of a bomb rack of newly minted, 24karat gold dildos with plastic grips.

Side A is where samples of female opera voicing and music plundered from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” throw down a free-form, pre-house/pre-techno collision akin to Kraftwerk, Kiss and King Tubby rub-a-dub-dubbing in the same tub while splashing and fighting over the soap AND the rubber ducky. It’s so dismissive of everything that surrounded them in the deadlocked music landscape of 1986-era Britain while simultaneously looking to the future of Rock’n’Roll as their own sole stake, I can forgive ‘em every time for playing out their Rock’n’Roll Swindle so shamelessly. And the lyrics to “Sex Bomb Boogie” are so simple and facile they knock down the low-IQ mambo pole that the old gang of “Surfin’ Bird,” “Louie Louie,” “Money” and other venerable nitwits had already set up in a giggling fit of non-intellectual glee. But since Sputnik designed them to be EXACTLY that (“Neutron boogie/Dance on, dance on/Lipstick boogie/Dance on, dance on/Silicon boobies/Dance on, dance on”) and since they were placed over a thick jungle of varying rhythms and special effects, they hardly overstay their welcome and who’s keeping score, anyway? But once the accompanying programming signals, electro drums bursts, and film trailer voice-over (“This/This time/It’s war!”) introduce the referential collage assimilated from layer upon layer of successive Rock’n’Roll highlights, it’s impossible to keep track with all the constant samplus interruptus and whirlwinds of phasing and delay upon everything: Over there is Eddie Cochran’s guitar, Elvis is crooning in the shower and Bolan’s spreading his wings astride his Tanx and when Degville sings (or rather: each time his vocal is sampled on the line) “Princess Perfect’s white Mercedes” it points directly to the off-the-cuff, instantaneous sex and consumerist mental imagery so elegantly proposed within the haunts of early Roxy Music. Then further operatic wailings are push-buttoned and threaded throughout a seamlessly linear, electronic grid of digital constructions when along comes a breathless, partially disrobed mademoiselle purring all over a percolating Linn 9000 drum machine calypso rhythm and into your ear to ride her like a rocket...please. A gliding, summery synth line like one of King Sunny Ade’s peaceably melodic “Synchro System”-era slide guitars motifs appears as if to regroup “Sex Bomb Boogie” into some semblance of order. But the Polaroid shot highlight-sampling of Neal X’s most overtly Rock riffs continue to shoot across the mix in flames. The operatic samples re-appear perched on the strident dance beat currently steamrolling off into oblivion as the previously female vocals stutter into orgasm. And that King Sunny Ade melody line just keeps gliding on...

The B-side “Sex Bomb Dance” sounds like the A-side was mixed during an argument, orgy or during a war. It sounds as though main Sputnik man Tony James was arguing with producer Giorgio Moroder and in the process of seizing the controls Moroder loses his grip and accidentally slips the volume faders from 0 to 10 in a repeat rollercoaster ride. Initially, it plunges into the dankest, most reverbed cellarful of noise to shock any Greenwich Town dub engineer but soon ‘stuff’ is rocketing from speaker to speaker with stereo panning as it following the off-rhythm of the sampled guitar riff as vocals ricochet all around like Uzi bursts. It’s hard to tell if said ‘stuff’ is either a voice sampled to smear proportions to impersonate a synth line or just a guitar thrown into a digital delay trampolene and super fucked with a treatment in equal parts skill and contempt as parts fall away here and there into complete silence. It’s as vandalised by electro-dub as can be, and soon whole tangled mix once more sucks down into another black hole and disappears with an ear-ringing, nitrous oxide head-rush. The term ‘pressure drop’ immediately comes to mind, as though the track seeks to become a DJ-demonstration record entitled, “How To Fuck With The Heads of Others On Headphones” as everything sways skywards, waywards, backwards, forwards and every-other-kind-of-wards...Volume fades pump all signals up, only to be quickly thrown down to equilibrium-assaulting effect and STILL ‘Emmanuelle’ is moaning for yet more international satisfaction in the background. But for all the effect-spattered mix, the locomotive hump throb that is Degville’s sampled vocal loop maintains an unchallenged sex groove through it all. An abrupt cut-off and it’s game over. Although a track called “Dancerama” is listed as the second song on side 2, nothing follows except silence and a more than mild sense of disorientation.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik was a secretly disguised and willful Rock’n’Roll insurrection at a time when Rock’n’Roll needed it the most. And the German remix of “Sex Bomb Boogie” was their most subversive moment, ever. Guaranteed to interfere and dislocate your pulse, breathing and probably even your relationships with your friends and alpha waves to boot.