Force - A Certain Ratio Album Review

A Certain Ratio
A Certain Ratio

Album Review

24 years ago saw this ACR album, their last for Factory, hit the racks and sink without trace. Still, this wasn't before the album sold a few copies and became a courted darling of the music press (a music press that had previously shat on ACR from a great height for their recent releases). The band believed in the 8 songs within the striking Johnson Panas sleeve and still does, to a degree. Things were actually starting to look up for the Wythenshawe boys.

This LTM re-issue gathers up the album along with its accompanying single B-sides and a couple of very rare tracks from the time. The usual detailed sleeve-notes accompany the CD with the usual informative insight and photos from the era, the mid-80s.

'Force' marked the UK debut of the infamous Akai S900 Sampler - thankfully the band didn't over-use it. From opener 'Only Together', via the funky 'Bootsy' to the gut-rumbling bass-line on the near-instrumental single 'Mickey Way', we hear subtle uses here and there. For an album made in 1986, it's aged well and respectably.

But for me, ACR are at their best on here when they go for the extremes of 'plaintive' and 'party'. The album cuts 'And Then She Smiles' and 'Anthem', might not be deserving of the band's nickname for 'Force' (the 'Mike Tyson Of Funk') but they are two examples of their best songwriting. 'Anthem' is as simple as it is complex and I truly wish they would play it live again - a beautiful and mournful lullaby that climaxes like a different song every time I hear it. 'Force' is indeed one of Factory's lost gems - until now.

The extras are an array of some of their best tracks - live favourite and Brazilian workout 'Si Firmir O Grido', knee-knocking funk-spunker 'Nostromo A-Go-Go' and 'Mickey Way' flip-track 'Inside' all featured on the original CD, but the sweeteners are expanded here with the twitchy cut-up remix of 'Bootsy' (issued as a 12" in Australia) by Severed Heads cohort Robert Racic plus an outtake from an Italian session, 'The Runner'.

My only gripe is the exclusion of the full 12" of 'Mickey Way', perhaps as a replacement of the album mix instead, and the previously issued 12" tracks from 'Brazilia', 'Life's A Scream' and 'Wild Party' - certainly the former is another rarity with a South-American flavour that would have fitted in with the party side to 'Force's personality. Top drawer re-issue though - whistles optional.

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