Billie Ray Martin ‘The Crackdown Project’ (Disco Activisto/dPulse)

Electribe 101 frontwoman worships at the temple of electro pioneers Cabaret Voltaire

Mention the word reissue and you can almost feel our hearts sink. Here, however, Billie Ray Martin of Electribe 101 and ‘Your Loving Arms’ famousness does everyone a real favour by reminding us how to do a reissue properly. 

In 1983, Sheffield’s magnificent Cabaret Voltaire released ‘The Crackdown’, an album which saw the electronic pioneers shift from their industrial trademark sound to a more distinctly new wave approach. Widely regarded as something of a classic, Billie Ray Martin rather successfully took on two tracks from the album, the title track and ‘Just Fascination’, in 2010. 

Now available on CD for the first time, this reissue is described by Billie’s people as an extensive musical homage. Extensive? They’re not bleeding kidding. Billie runs riot, serving up the original versions, which have been remastered for the occasion, alongside a raft of new remixes on a deluxe two-volume set that runs to 22 tracks, clocking in at over two hours of banging beats, throbs, bleeps, blips and other crowd pleasing noises. 

Twenty-odd versions of just two tracks you say? Doesn’t that get a bit, well, dull? Not a bit of it. Billie’s rich vocals are worth the entry price alone, while the choice of remixers is inspired. Although it’s difficult to single out any one cut, mash-up merchants Celebrity Murder Party and Edinburgh’s Dunproofin’ both turn in particularly fulsome mixes, while the Led Zeppelin sampling Phil Retrospector versions are something to behold.

What this collection does is remind you what true originals Cabaret Voltaire were. Listen to the vocal melody on ‘The Crackdown’, will you? Pet Shop Boys anyone? “Kicking in chairs and knocking down tables” indeed. And the whole thing is set alight by the involvement of the Cabs’ Stephen Mallinder, appearing not only on the original version but also via his Hey! Rube collaboration with Hull’s favourite son Stephen Cobby, who turn in a remix of their own, which must be a bit like looking at yourself looking at yourself in a mirror.

‘The Crackdown Project’ is so good that Billie Ray Martin will hopefully go on reissuing it, with fresh remixes each year, until everyone pays attention.

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