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Mind Made Up

A Certain Ratio

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Album Review

Originally released by a French label in 2008 and then re-released with an extra track by LTM Records two years later, Mind Made Up, A Certain Ratio's ninth studio release (not counting compilations and other similar efforts), found the group in creative health while approaching 30 years of work and beyond. With Denise Johnson on board to contribute vocals on a number of tracks, the band, still driven at its core by performers like Martin Moscrop, Jez Kerr, and the inimitable Donald Johnson, seems to have returned to full action at just the right moment thanks to a decade's worth of re-appreciation of its darkly inclined punk and funk fusions. That said, a great thing about Mind Made Up is that it feels more like them keeping on rather than trying to stake out a space in a crowded musical landscape. There's an excellent, immediate opening track in "I Feel Light," its tightly wound riff and punchy rhythmic crispness as clear a calling card as ever for the group, but at the same time there's a further ominousness in the arrangement that feels well earned by this point. It's a combination explored at a number of further instances on the disc, such as "Very Busy Man" and the title track, but doesn't define it entirely. On "Rialto 6," the group creates what almost could be a spy movie theme in the classic '60s sense, while Denise Johnson's work on "Down Down Down" adds further pep to the clavinet-led arrangement. Other moments twisting expectations include the almost Durutti Column-like "Teri" and the swinging stomp and clatter of "Bird to the Ground."

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Though formed in Manchester's late-'70s punk scene, A Certain Ratio used an increasing amount of electronics throughout the '80s to become more of a dancefloor-oriented band, much like Factory labelmates New Order. The group (whose name is a pointer to a Brian Eno song) was formed in 1977 by vocalists Simon Topping and Martha Tilson, bassist Jeremy Kerr, guitarist Peter Terrell, and guitarist/trumpeter Martin Moscrop — drummer Donald Johnson later joined as the drummer. New Order manager Rob...
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