Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Asstrax" by Fini Tribe - April 9th 80's Quest Song/Band of the Day

Fini Tribe (sometimes also known as Finitribe) were a band that I became acquainted with while
DJ-ing on college radio station W.U.N.H. 91.3 FM in Durham, NH.  This was a band that I really loved playing on my show in the late 80's.  I always felt they were a great, heavy, new-sounding dance band. and thought they would become much bigger here in the United States.

Finitribe started out in the mid-80's in Edinburgh, Scotland but were called Gallery Macabre at the time.  Originally they were an experimental guitar band, but evolved into dance music band who used a lot of sampling.  Members included:  David Miller (guitar, vocals, noise); Philip Pinsky (bass, vocals), John Vick (keyboards), Simon McGlynn (drums through 1988), Andy McGregor (guitars, vocals, noise through 1988), and Chris Connelly (vocals through 1988).

The band changed their name to Fini Tribe, based on "finny tribe", a Rosicrucian term to describe fish.  The Rosicrucians were a secret 17th and 18th century organization devoted to the study of ancient mystical, philosophical, and religious doctrines and their application to modern life.  Fini Tribe started their own independent label, Finiflex, and released their debut EP, 1984's Curling and Stretching.  One month later they played their first gig opening for Danielle Dax at London ULU. 
They released another EP in 1985, Peel Sessions

In 1986 Fini Tribe began using a sampler in their recordings and achieved some success with a dance single called "De Testimony" that appeared on their Let the Tribe Grow EP.  From there, they decided to take their music in more of a dance-oriented direction.  "De Testimony" went on to become an influential track in the acid house music movement.  Acid house was a type of house music which originated with Chicago DJ's but spread to the English rave scene where psychedlic drugs were often used.  So the name came from the use of the drugs [Acid + House...the kind of music played at the clubs].  Acid house is characterized by samples or spoken lines instead of lyrics  and hypnotic sound effects.
After an ill-fated stint with Chicago record label Wax Trax! with whom they released two 12" singles, one which was  a cover of Can's "I Want More", singer Chris Connelly left the band to do solo recording and also went on to perform with Ministry and Revolting Cocks. McGlynn and McGregor also left the band.

Now a trio of Miller, Pinsky, and Vick, signed to One Little Indian record label.  Their first single released on One Little Indian was "Animal Farm", which sampled the "Old McDonald" nursery rhyme and bashed the McDonald's hamburger chain. They started a"Fuck Off McDonald's" poster campaign, which garnered Fini Tribe some of their first significant media exposure.  On One Little Indian, the band released the following albums:

  • Noise, Lust & Fun (1989)
  • Grossing 10K (1989) - which contained today's song "Asstrax"
  • An Unexpected Groovy Treat (1992) - which contained some minor mainstream hits, "101" and "Forevergreen"
Despite a succession of well-regarded releases on One Little Indian, monetary and mainstream success eluded them. 

As the band entered the 1990's they began wearing white coveralls printed all over with the Fini Tribe star symbol.  It seemed as though they were desiring to break from their cult image and adopt a more pop-dance style.  In 1992 , they resurrected their Finiflex record label and opened their own studio complex in Leith (a burgh just north of Edinburgh).

Their follow-up album, 1995's Sheigra did not perform as well as previous releases, although critics liked it.  By 1996 the band was essentially a duo of Miller and Pinsky who were accompanied by various vocal guests.  With vocalist Katy Morrison they released their final album in 1998, Sleazy Listening, a drum and bass, trip-hop album.

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