Mute is going hard on the Cabaret Voltaire back catalogue in the next 12 months, with three major reissues on the horizon, but amid their schedule Richard H Kirk is also releasing three Cabaret Voltaire live shows from the 1980s on his own Intone label.
Kirk is planning to release a 3CD box set of live shows recorded off the desk in 1982 and 1985: two shows from 82 recorded at The Warehouse in Liverpool and Sheffield's Lyceum, and an 85 show recorded on the Toronto stop of the Cabs North American tour. Kirk says: "The 82 ones sound fantastic. It was in the transition period after Chris left, and before we signed with Virgin/Some Bizarre. It was quite influenced by Miles Davis – it's quite funky, and I was playing lots of sax. I know Miles played trumpet, but it was that same sort of feel – loose."
Mute's plans include a recently announced Stefan Betke (aka Pole) remastered vinyl reissue of 1981 album Red Mecca on 22 July; a box set collecting four remastered albums from 1983–85 (with extras and a DVD) in November, and in early 2014 a compilation of tracks titled #7885 (Electro Punk To Techno Pop 1978-1985). Kirk's set will slot into the schedule before the November box set (#8385 (Collected Works 1983-1985)) at the end of August/beginning of September.
Notable as a record pegged as the soundtrack to the 1981 riots, Red Mecca has been reissued before in 1990, and is the final album recorded with Chris Watson. "Everyone goes on about it being the soundtrack to the riots," says Kirk, "but I don't know if we were even that conscious of all that... I think it was a writer who said that, and it's become common currency, but it does resonate. I remember that time being tense, and there were a lot of amphetamines around."
The rest of Mute's reissues are the result of the rights reverting from Virgin/Some Bizarre after 28 years, and Kirk taking it all to Mute. "I'd been talking about moving it all to Mute since about 2007," he said. "And the rights finally came back in 2011. That's why this is happening, because this stuff hasn't been available on vinyl or CD for years. There's also quite a bit of unreleased material that's going to be included with the box sets, plus a couple of videos."
Despite the Virgin rights being tied up until recently, the Cabaret Voltaire back catalogue is far from neglected. Box sets and compilations were released by Virgin and Mute in the early 2000s, and Jonny Yesno was given a large scale Redux two years ago. "People on the Internet are totally cynical, saying I'm just doing it for the money or whatever," says Kirk. "But I'm doing it because I'm the only person that's left to do it... Chris left in 1981 and Mal [Stephen Mallinder] left in 1993, and I find myself the custodian, so to speak.
"I've concentrated quite a lot on reissues in the past ten years… and in that time I've just been releasing my own music via iTunes." Three albums were released digitally last year after plans for Die Stadt and Nextera to collaborate on CDs fell through following the death of Nextera label head Kristian Kotarac. "I feel a bit like people won't let me escape from the past," he laughs, "I'm proud of what I've done, and I'm still making music now, and people tend to overlook that."