Foreign Press

The Whole Story

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As any number of reissues and retrospective explorations of the U.K.'s independent rock scene in the years after punk have shown, an act that only released a couple of singles during its lifetime could easily have had enough songs around to make up an album, if not more. Foreign Press' two-CD compilation The Whole Story demonstrates this in spades, covering ten years' worth of work by a Manchester band that never got the chance to do an album at the time. All four singles the band released are included, from the roughly moody 1979 debut "Downpour" through to 1984's "Set Your Love in Motion," plus further recordings up to 1989, as well as a variety of other studio sessions and alternate takes. Combined with the expected, exhaustive LTM reissue treatment in terms of sound and liner notes and more, it's the perfect curio, but at the same time the music is often simply serviceable, a reflection of the times and approaches that doesn't always hold up, though plenty of songs are pleasant diversions in a general post-punk vein of guitar/keyboard pop. At its best, though, there are some worthy moments -- "The Great Divide," co-produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson, brings some strong electro-funk to the fore to work against a sharp, charging, lead guitar melody, while "Climbing" is an attractively moody number that helps make sense of the early Comsat Angels comparisons. If Foreign Press never fully made a mark, then they still had a little something to offer to dedicated listeners then and now.

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