The all-girl trio Arabesque was created by two Frankfurt-based German producers at the height of the disco era in 1977. After one album and a few singles that had found surprising success in Japan, the producers changed the lineup, keeping Michaela Rose and replacing the two other girls with Jasmin Vetter and Sandra Lauer. Vetter, a former gymnast, also became the trio's choreographer and Lauer, soon to be billed simply as Sandra, assumed the position of a lead vocalist. The first single of the updated Arabesque, "Hello, Mr. Monkey" went to number one in Japan. The Far East remained the band's biggest market, with numerous albums and compilations released over the years. However, Arabesque's success in their homeland was very modest, with only one single, "Marigot Bay," entering the German charts at number eight in 1981. In 1984, they disbanded and Sandra embarked on a successful solo career with the songs written by her future husband Michael Cretu (of Enigma fame.) Jasmin Vetter and Michaela Rose formed a new duet, Rouge, but after a few obscure singles it ceased to exist.
Once Upon a Time: The Singles collects all ten of Siouxsie and the Banshees' A-sides spanning the years 1978-1981, with four songs otherwise unavailable on LP. It's a neat and accessible encapsulation of the group's early guitar-driven sound – a frosty, dissonant art punk that had a tremendous impact on the emerging goth rock scene. Unlike similarly forbidding work by such proto-goth contemporaries as Joy Division or the Cure, the early Banshees were tense and visceral; the darkness of the Once Upon a Time singles doesn't come from a sense of downcast gloom so much as it does from a jittery angst. Yet as challenging as the music is, it's also accessible enough for eight of these singles to have charted in the British Top 50. The melodies are angular and almost alien, yes, but oddly memorable once the listener has assimilated them. Starting shortly after the period covered by this collection, Siouxsie Sioux's icy detachment would be fused with an elegant romanticism and lusher, smoother arrangements. Which means that Once Upon a Time isn't the one, definitive Banshees compilation, but it is a cohesive and essential overview of the band's edgy, influential peak.
SLY & ROBBIE recruited the American rock guitarist Daryl Thompson († 2014) whom they knew from their time with PETER TOSH. They engaged the keyboardist Franklyn 'Bubbler' Waul who was however not allowed to play the reggae typical shuffle organ but to steadily thrash the offbeat onto the piano. Those two musicians who were being replaced at several shows with Keith Sterling and Mikey Chung formed the core of BLACK UHURU which together with a second guitarist and a percussionist also dominated the stage in Essen.