Hard Corps

Hard Corps - B&W1
RIP Regine 2003

Liner notes from the compilation Metal and Flesh

"Hard Corps were ignored in their time. Perhaps it is the burden of the adventurous and the innovative to be ignored in their time, which is sad. Don't ignore them now."

Martin Rushent, March 1990

  • Regine Fetet - voice, words
  • Hugh Ashton - sound production
  • Robert Doran - sound production
  • Clive Pierce - sound production

Hard Corps were around in the mid '80's working from their own Sonoscope studio
based deep in the heart of Brixton, South London.

In 1983, after years of experimenting with Bowie and Ferry clones and building an arsenal of backing tracks, the three originators, Hugh Ashton, Robert Doran and Clive Pierce, were introduced to 'stage performer', French born, Regine Fetet. Although having never sung in public before, the marriage was made in heaven! An enigmatic, fragile, human voice lent itself and brought alive the cold, pounding machined music the sound engineers were creating. With influences as far and wide as Mozart and Kraftwerk working in unison with a heavily accentuated French vocal, the result is magnificent and unique.

The line-up complete, the time to reveal themselves to an unsuspecting clubland arrived. A 12" white label containing the hammering rhythmic attack of "Dirty" and the softer, melodic, Kraftwerkian pulse of "Respirer (To Breathe)" was circulated around London's dancefloors. In no time a wave of attention hit them. The long-standing electro label, Survival - who brought us such cults as Drinking Electricity, Thirteen at Midnight, Faith Global, Tik & Tok and Eddie and Sunshine and a host of similar - reissued "Dirty"/"Respirer" in a more widely available form.

Their ill-fated dealings with high street giants Polydor which followed, gave the band a chance to work with a couple of their most most favoured and respected producers, Martin Rushent and Mute supremo, Daniel Miller. These sessions provided the public with just one single due to the labels non-promotion, Je Suis Passée, a sweeping arrangement of breathtaking beauty, combining pumping sequences and sheer power of emotion of Regine's voice, emerged in an array of major league formats; seven and twelve inch extended mix and elongated beats and pieces of the Hard Mix. Oddly enough it was the French Vocal version on Rushent's own Immaculate label which trickled into the shops just before the familiar logo-sleeved chart contender. A shrewd ploy, maybe, as it ensured placings in both gallup and indie charts.

In part from:
Music from the Empty Quarter


More Information

I saw Harp Corps twice whilst supporting Depeche on the Music for the Masses tour, once at Wembley and then two weeks later at Brighton. By then, someone had obviously had had words with Regine as she kept her top on that night! The Wembley gig was particularly amusing, with women walking out left right and centre! With set they played the songs were new and did not appear on any of the releases.

Moving on a couple of years (around the time of the Metal and Flesh compilation), Hard Corps played a gig of sorts in London's 'Hard Club', an electronic / industrial night which used to be held in Gossips nightclub in Soho. This basically consisted of Regine singing alone to a backing tape (the club was tiny and did not really have a proper stage although I think at least one of the others were there) and as I recall she was pretty much shouted down after a couple of songs (the type of music not really appealing to the regulars who were more used to F242 and the like). That's the last I saw of them. They were also scheduled to play at a North London club (more of a bar, really) as part of a compilation night. I went along but for unexplained reasons they didn't show up. I can't really remember much else about that particular occasion, only that the name of the band that headlined in their place was Havoc (who also released an album on Concrete).

The group also contributed two sessions to Richard Skinners Radio One show of the period. The first co-incided with their initial releases and the second the following year when Je Suis Passe was released. The songs from both of these session were much the same as the released versions but there was also one song, Sacred Heart, which as far as I know was never officially released. It's very much in a similar vein to the better known stuff and very good.

Thanks to Steve in Scotland

BBC Sessions Details

4/6/84 Peel (not Skinner and I can confirm that is correct cos I have a tape)

  • Sacred Heart
  • To Breathe
  • Metal and Flesh
  • Dirty

15/8/84 Skinner

  • Je Suis Passée
  • For Pleasure
  • Metal and Flesh
  • Dirty
  • Plus Interview

14/5/85 Long (don't know anything about this one)

  • Desolation Land
  • The Bell
  • Bravo!

All the above from the "In Session Tonight" book.
Thanks to Nick.

Saturday Night Live 01/06/85

  • Je Suis Passee
  • The Bell
  • Metal & Flesh
  • Plus interview with Hugh & Regine

Radio Sussex 16/06/85 - interview.

Thanks to Steven

Chart Positions

Sounds Indie Singles

Dirty - #7 (3/11/84)
Je Suis Passee - #28 (15/6/85)
Lucky Charm - #44 - entered (4/7/87) - not sure if it got any higher

Melody Maker Indie Singles

Je Suis Passee - #4 (22/6/85)

Melody Maker Club

Je Suis Passee - #3 (8/6/85)

No.1 Indie Singles

Dirty - #26 (3/11/84)
Je Suis Passee - #8 (15/6/85)

NME Indie Singles

Dirty - #23 (20/10/84)

NME Dancefloor Singles

Respirer (To Breathe) - #4 (17/11/84)
Respirer (To Breathe) - #4 (5/1/85)

John Peels Festive 50 - 1984

Dirty - #46



Live Reviews

October 1984 at the ICA in London

Synthetic and cold? Beautiful! They were amazing! Best songs, Respire and Dirty. The sound was like something totally new had hit me in the face and was to change my perspective on life again.

I'd felt that twice before; once when I saw The Jam live in 1976/77 and someone had to explain that this was the 'New Wave', and secondly when I saw Joy Division perform 'Transmission' on TV. Well, Hard Corps provided the third fundamental shift musically for me. But timing is everything, and it looks like they hit the wrong time.

Regine had a davy crockett hat, and looked the part of a frenchie chanteuse - hugh, robert and clive did the 'kraftwerk meets the shrouds' type of hard industrial backing that was prevalent for a short while (SPK tried a commercial version of same later on).

I was gobsmacked that they existed at all - and I never got any of their music on record, so thanks for the discography. Now, who the hell stocks this....

Thanks to Eddy

The only Hard Corps "fact" that I know of is the one about them supporting Depeche Mode. I believe it was the beginning of the Black Celebration tour (actually Music for the Masses) but apparently the cooperation ended soon after a few gigs as the singer Regine got a bit overexcited on stage one night and threw away her shirt. Needless to add, she was not wearing anything underneath. Apparently the DM lads (or their tour manager or someone) were not too impressed and for the next gigs the support slot was given to Electribe 101.

Thanks to Jana

I remember seeing Hard Corps playing live, supporting The Cure during THE HEAD ON THE DOOR TOUR. It was in Toulouse, in the South of France.

I enjoyed their set (great voice, perfect sound) but the audience didn't seem to feel the same. The people came to see The Cure, and they were shouting it all along Hard Corps' set. However, they proudly continued to play. I remember feeling very sad for them, because they didn't deserve such a bad audience.

I suppose Hard Corps were too "synthetic" and "cold" for the mid-eigthies, where people used to say "synthpop" was totally off...

Thanks to Christophe

12/9/85 - Wembley Arena

Hard Corps' customary insularity is exacerbated at Wembly where it almost seems as if they are playing behind an invisible window, as they look distantly at The Cure's audience which is a mix of popster couples, the odd lost hedgehog in a kaftan and hordes of O-level students defiantly slugging vodka.

But their sound survives the venue's shambling size as the machine's electronic assault and their songs' strand of melody maintain that tenuous balance between detachment and sadness. Hard Corps sound better in other surroundings and it's strange to see Regine's wounded puppet dance on the Wembly stage but even here, especially during 'Respirer', they're locked away in a different world.

NME - 21/9/85
Donald McRae

Live Dates

3/10/84 - ICA, London
11/12/84 - Johnsons, London
13/12/84 - Henry Africas, London
26/3/85 - Islington Town Hall
1/6/85 - Sheffield Lead Mill
2/6/85 - Hoochie Coochie, Edinburgh
3/6/85 - Sub Club, Glasgow
7/6/85 - The Fridge, Brixton
11/6/85 - Savannah, Brighton
12/6/85 - Electric Cinema, London

The Cure Support (incomplete - European leg)

8/9/85 - Austell Cornwall Colisseum
9/9/85 - Poole Arts Centre
10/9/85 - Shepton Mallet Showring Pavillion
12/9/85 - Wembley Arena, London
14/9/85 - Brighton Centre
16/9/85 - Whitley Bay Ice Rink
17/9/85 - Manchester Apollo
18/9/85 - Manchester Apollo
20/9/85 - Birmingham National Exhibition Centre
21/9/85 - Leeds Queens Hall
22/9/85 - Edinburgh Playhouse
30/11/85 - Ritgen + Muller Konzertboru, Hanover
??? - Toulouse, France

Depeche Mode Support

9/1/88 - Centre Hall, Newport
11/1/88 - Wembly Arena, London
12/1/88 - Wembly Arena, London
15/1/88 - N.E.C., Birmingham
16/1/88 - Ice Rink, Whitley Bay
17/1/88 - PLayhouse Theatre, Edinburgh
19/1/88 - G-Mex, Manchester
20/1/88 - City Hall, Sheffield
21/1/88 - St Georges Hall, Bradford
23/1/88 - International Centre, Bournmouth
24/1/88 - The Centre, Brighton

I assume they played the whole of England - not sure if they were allowed to follow to Europe after Regines stage antics!

17/2/88 - Zeeta's
??? - Heaven, London

This list is, of course, probably quite incomplete!




NME - 8/9/84
The sound that Hard Corps create has been gathered from the few remaining traces of pop: only from the old can the new be truly born. Hence there are clues and markings, the insignia of the past, faintly detectable in a music that otherwise is brilliantly minted in supple steel colours and driving rhythms. Whenever it gets too harsh, a twist of melody or a new chord will admit fresh light. But it never buckles, never holds off.
'Respirer' is darkly lovely, a French lyric that slips through and round the levels of a rhythm track over which melody weeps. The girl Regine stalks a construction that that is indeed not "what the Beatles did": it's like a song in suspension, an idea of a song that comes to rest on two chords and works its way across each facet on each level. It seems to play longer than three minutes 50. 'Dirty' takes on a full course of abstraction - these are gestures from gay disco music hammered into a shape more bizarre and distraught than that milieu could conceive of, finally folding itself into reverse gear.
Somehow this sound hugs at the flesh instead of chafing at it. It takes the deconstruction of pop for a new kind of song language to be perceived. Hard Corps are reaching, grasping for it.
Richard Cook

Je Suis Passée


Sounds - 18/5/85
Why the fuss? About as hard as an egg custard and alot less appetising. Some tart waffling in day-trip Francaise over the sort of twee microchip blllleeeeps that were considered trendy in the wake of the punk upsurge. An insult to anyone who has the misfortune to hear it.
Sandy Roberts

NME - 25/5/85
Ignoring the heaven-sent opportunity of this record's title your intrepid reviewer battles on to note that Hard Corps arrive from the crack between European cabaret and Giorgio Malodour. As such they sound like Sparks with a French accent; a loathsome proposition.
Danny Kelly

Record Mirror - 25/5/85
French vocal chords carry this Eurovision piledriver cincerto into the heavyweight class - taut thighs, glistening muscles and a jigsaw of music and motion - produced by Martin Rushent but unfortunately not sounding as fresh as one might expect. Time to move on...
Dylan Jones

City Limits - 7-13/6/85
...- a bittersweet tale of loneliness and decay -...
Adrian Jones

She speaks to me for a long time
Hear what she says, "It's too late"

For anything don't even dare to be be a shadow yourself
For anything don't even dare to be be a shadow
She speaks to me for a long time, Hear what she says

Oublies moi je suis passee, partie partie
Oublies moi je suis passee, partie partie

In the land of anywhere, no need to speak
Everything has to disappear, no trace has to be left
Transparent faces, white walls, perfect mouths swallowing
Moving around for a taste, taste of fast food
Moving around for a taste, taste of fast food

Oublies moi je suis passee, partie partie
Oublies moi je suis passee, partie partie

She speaks to me fo a long time
Hear what she says, "It's too late!"

Lucky Charm


NME - 25/4/87
I used to live just round the corner from this lot and was surprised to encounter them at the re-opening of The Fridge, strutting about the stage like programmed robots. They seemed like such nice boy when you bumped into them in the corner shop buying Marmite. This thankfully is less Teutonic, more hard Euro-electro pop. The French chanteuse whispers and implores to little avail but certain interludes suggest an ethereal, Cocteauish web is about to be spun. Should be big in Paris and various after-hours hang-outs for this capitol's more determinedly hedonistic young gods. Played loud, it reminds one of those vacuous post-Heaven 17/BEF floorshakers. Heartless, soulless and perfectly in tune with a certain dancefloor gloom. Not being and English simpleton, I fail to see the joke.
Sean O'Hagen

Melody Maker - 6/6/87
A soupcan of French saves this from oblivion. Their not-quite-clever, not-quite-emotional computer pop leaves them squashed flat in the blankest pages of Yazoo's diary. Desperately needs an eminence gris.
Chris Roberts

On one hand, you can talk about the trans-Europe disco ethics, or more likely on the other, a aoraeous Kraftwerk-meets-Propaganda-in-heaven swoon that, in one swoop, knocks 95 percent of all known ZTT germs off the shelf.

Sounds - 30/5/87
Popular in certain horticultural corners of the office. Hard Corps are, I think, European, if you get my meaning. They whisper soft accents against a synthetic melody and quiver sensitively against a pillar beat. Nothing hard about them.
Billy Mann


An attempt to list all articles about the band:

Corps Blimey - Sounds (pg 35 - 6/10/84)

Kevin Murphy

And finally I dropped in the subject of their image, or lack of it.
Hugh: "There's a risk you're going to be bland unless you symbolically represent yourself, but we're starting from a musical base which isn't bland and we've got to keep reminding ourselves of that, instead of panicking and deciding which haircut would suit us all."

Corps Blimey - NME (pg 9 - 11/5/85)

Richard Cook

Hard Corps - Zig Zag (No. 34 - 2/86)
Antonella Black

The French Revolution - Melody Maker (pg 40 - 8/6/85)

Ted Mico

Well 'Ard Europop - Rock Mirror (4/7/87)
Lesley O'Toole

Damaged Goods - Melody Maker (11/7/87)

Phil Nichols

Corps Franglais

Giovanni Dadomo

Return of the Living Corps - NME (1/9/84)

Barney Hoskyns




Interview with Rob Doran

MinimalWave - Rarities 12"

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