Visionary Cabaret Voltaire’s “I Want You” video highlights NF’s “Take Off to Rock and Horror”

By on November 1, 2017

Night Flight’s “Take Off to Rock and Horror” — which originally aired on October 25, 1986 — features a medley of music videos sharing a horror movie theme, highlighted by Sheffield UK’s post-punk industrial dance band Cabaret Voltaire’s “I Want You,” directed by the award-winning video artist Peter Care. Watch this haunting episode now on Night Flight Plus!


The visionary Cabaret Voltaire became an integral part of the UK Electronic Movement of the late ’70s, alongside bands like Throbbing Gristle, Fad Gadget and The Normal, at a time when similar bands were mostly based in Germany (Can, Neu, Faust and Kraftwerk) or in New York City, like Suicide.

They were way ahead of their time, and probably never really got the credit that they deserved for being an early influence a spate of 80s acts who had much more success (Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, New Order, Human League, Soft Cell, and others), as well as presaging the U.S. and European house and techno dance scenes.


By the time this episode aired — three years after the departure of co-founder Chris Watson (keyboards, tapes) — they’d slimmed down to a duo composed of the other two founding members, Richard H. Kirk (guitars, keyboards, tapes) and Stephen Mallinder (vocals, bass, keyboards).

This promo video — there’s also a nearly eight-minute “12-inch version” found on the director’s website — was made for the only single taken from The Covenant, The Sword and the Arm of the Lord (#57 UK), originally released in November 1985 by the eccentric UK label Some Bizarre.

The album’s title also happened to be the name of a far-right Christian white supremacist terrorist group who were active in the U.S. during the 1970s and early 1980s, so their American label, Caroline, elected to release it as The Arm of the Lord to avoid any negative connotations.


It turned out that the lyrics to “I Want You” were about masturbation, according to Kirk, in addition to being an obvious, highly-commercial attempt to give their new labels a dancefloor hit.

Read more about Cabaret Voltaire below.


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Cabaret Voltaire took their name from a performance space, The Cabaret Voltaire, based in Zürich, Switzerland, circa 1916, where group of young performers — adopting the name for themselves — performed theatre works by director Hugo Ball, a leader of anarchic Dada art movement.

They formed sometime in 1973 in the heavily-industrial Sheffield, England, a grim, depressing city with a lot of post-WWII bombed-out buildings. All three members were students at Sheffield University.


They initially met just a few nights a week in Chris Watson’s attic, where he had a collection of tape recorders set up, experimenting with tape manipulation, repeating tape loops, white noise, and synthesized dance music rhythms (funk, in particular) to create their own unique post-punk sound.

Cabaret Voltaire would eventually move the base of their operations to Western Works, a large Victorian building a stone’s throw from the university.

In 1975, they played their first live gig in an upper refectory, causing a riot when students who thought they’d come to see rock bands were subjected to tapes of steamhammers backing up Kirk playing the clarinet (he was actually beaten up by rowdy concertgoers that night).


By 1978, Geoff Travis’s fledgling Rough Trade label had taken notice of Cabaret Voltaire, and they would release several early singles and EPs on a case-by-case basis, before releasing a couple of live albums and a handful of studio efforts, including Mix-Up (1979), The Voice Of America (1980), Red Mecca (1981), the double-EP and modest Top 100 chart breakthrough 2X45 (1982) and their final Rough Trade album Hai! (1982, released only in Germany and the U.S.).


These were among the more exciting first recordings to first combine elements of both industrial synth-pop and techno music, although those terms weren’t widely used at the time.

They also saw several fine releases on the Brussels-based Les Disques Du Crépuscule imprint, including “Sluggin’ Fer Jesus,” which combined reactionary TV sermons with dance rhythms and hypnotic synthesizer lines, their first true transition from to a more dance-oriented sound.


Cabaret Voltaire remained relatively obscure, however, which may have been one reason Chris Watson left the trio in 1982 (he co-founded The Hafler Trio before becoming very successful in field recordings for wildlife and nature films).

1983 proved to be a pivotal year, with the surviving duo signing to the Some Bizarre label, and releasing their significantly-more techno pop album Crackdown, which incorporated elements of Eastern exotica. It landed them in the UK Top 30.


Peter Care

They also created the hallucinatory soundtrack music for Sheffield video artist Peter Care’s short film Johnny Yesno.

Care had studied film at the Psalter Lane School Of Art in Sheffield, and had been working on experimental short films, as a cameraman or editor.

He later co-founded the Sheffield Independent Film Company, a non-profit funded by the British Film Institute, the United Nations and Channel Four, which quickly grew to become the country’s largest filmmaking center outside of London.


Cabaret Voltaire’s early partnership with Care seemed a perfect fit, and it led Care into making films they projected at live shows, as well as directing several of their videos, including “Crackdown,” “Just Fascination,” “Don’t Argue,” “Hypnotize,” and “I Want You,” featured in our “Take Off to Rock & Horror.”

Although Cabaret Voltaire officially disbanded in 1994, guitarist Richard H. Kirk occasionally resurrects the name for collaborative purposes.


This special Halloween-themed “Take Off to Rock & Horror” also features videos by the Ramones, the J. Geils Band, Rockwell, and the Monsters, and Dan Carbone’s surreal B&W post-apocalyptic sci-fi short film Dot, a sought-after Night Flight fave that we plan on doing a future post about soon.

Watch Night Flight’s “Take Off to Rock and Horror” on Night Flight Plus!


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.