"Snake Charmer" - Wobble, Jah, The Edge, and Holger Czukay
U2 Related Content:
- "Snake Charmer" (Studio Version - UK Pressing) - Jah Wobble, Holger Czukay, The Edge (06:13)
- "Hold on to Your Dreams" (Studio Version) - Jah Wobble, The Edge and Marcella Allen (08:38)
- "Snake Charmer" (Reprise - UK Pressing) - Jah Wobble, Holger Czukay, The Edge (06:55)
Alternate Tracks (US Pressing):
- "Snake Charmer" (Studio Version - USA Pressing) (06:09) - Jah Wobble, The Edge, Holger Czukay
- "Snake Charmer" (Reprise - USA Pressing) (06:54) - Jah Wobble, Holger Czukay, The Edge
This EP was released in October 1983, and featured contributions by The Edge on three tracks.
This release has been the subject of some confusion from collectors, mostly due to the fact that the track listing of the USA release and the UK release appear to be the same, but they actually have alternate versions of songs. Before any discussion on the background of this album it is important to understand that there are these two pressings. Both versions of “Snake Charmer” have alternate versions. Not only are the times different, but these are alternate mixes of the song and they differ throughout the song. “Hold on to Your Dreams”, the third track featuring The Edge, is the same version on all releases of the EP. We have more detail about these differences below.
Jah Wobble got his start with Public Image Ltd (PiL) and in 1983 was just getting his own group, Invaders of the Heart started. For this 1983 solo project he approached Holger Czukay of Can, and The Edge of U2 to work on the EP, as well as famous electronic producer Francois Kervorkian. The EP would be released on Island records as “Snake Charmer” and was released on vinyl and cassette. The EP featured five tracks, and The Edge participated in three of them. The Edge is credited as “Slide guitar and Soloist” on the both versions of “Snake Charmer” on each release, and he is listed as “Lead Guitar and Effects” on “Hold on to Your Dreams”. Wobble has spoken about the recording: “The producer here was top New York DJ/remixer Francois Kervorkian, and the album was “Snake Charmer”, which features The Edge (nice down to earth fella) from U2 and Holger. Check out the latter’s mental French horn solo. This was also the first time I came across the infamous Lin Drum, one of the first programmable drum machines, it is a feature of this track. This era, the early to mid eighties saw the rapid development of midi technology; this session was my introduction to the digital domain. It was quite an eye opener for me. I gave Francois a tough time on occasion, but he did ok. And I learned a lot.”
It is believed that there was an error in what tapes were used for the pressing of the album in the US, and this resulted in alternate recordings of the two songs being used, with one set appearing on the US vinyl and cassette, and the other set appearing on the UK vinyl (as well as in other countries around the world).
There are two known versions of the “Snake Charmer” recording, and a number of edits of those two versions. The US and the UK versions of the song are different mixes of “Snake Charmer” with very distinct sounds, and even lyrical differences:
- The US version has a very different musical section at 2 minutes into the track, the vocal starts at 1:24, and the horn solo is at 0:39. Also the vocal that starts is taken from the Reprise, and does not feature in the UK version. The vocal track is also more layered in the US version.
- The UK version has the vocal starting earlier at 0:39 and the horn starts at 1:10 in that version.
- An edit of the UK version is present on a promotional single, and has the vocals coming in earlier at 0:20, and the horn at 0:57.
- A longer version of the UK version features on the compilation I Could Have Been A Contender which instead of fading out while “Hold On to Your Dreams” fades in, has an actual end that fades out with the repeating chimes without the beat of the next song starting.
In both the case of the UK and the US versions of the song, the chime at the end is overlapped with the start of percussion for “Hold On to Your Dreams” and the two are continuously mixed on the initial releases of this album. As the ending of both are the same, this means that there is only one version of “Hold On to Your Dreams” on the EP, however, a longer (9:21) version of the track would later be released on the Redux Anthology box set by Wobble. A shortened edit (3:45) of the song would also appear on the “Snake Charmer“ promotional single listed above. The EP version, taken from vinyl, would also be released on the King Britt Inspirations Volume 1 compilation.
“Snake Charmer (Reprise)” also has two different versions like the title track of that name. The US version on the EP is an instrumental with the exception of one line, “Messages beamed from Mars”. The UK version has lyrics throughout. Both versions have appeared on other releases. The UK version of the “Reprise” appeared on the limited single, “The Sun Does Rise“ while the US version of the “Reprise” appeared on the album Last Night a DJ Saved My Life but is named the “Francois Kervorkian Snake Dub” on that release.
The EP was originally issued on vinyl and 12-inch LP in October 1983. These were the only two formats available until October 26, 2018, when the EP was issued on CD for the first time by Music on CD. The version released on CD was the UK version of the EP, and not the USA pressing.
Wobble would also go on to work with Bono on the single “You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart”, performed by Sinead O’Connor, for the soundtrack to the movie “In the Name of the Father”.
Written by Wobble, Marland, Czukay, Kevorkian. Jah Wobble: Bass, Vocals. The Edge: Slide Guitar Solo. Holger Czukay: Dictaphone, French Horn, Lead Guitar, Grand Piano. Francois Kevorkian: Linn Drum Programing. Animal: Rhythm Guitar. Ollie Marland: Keyboards. Neville Murray: Percussion. Produced by Francois Kevorkian for Axis Productions Inc. Engineer and Production assistant Paul “Groucho” Smykle. 2nd Engineer: Steven Street. Recorded and mixed at the Fallout Shelter, London, UK.
Hold on to Your Dreams:
Music written by Wobble, Evans, Marland, Kevorkian. Words by Arthur Russell. Jah Wobble: Bass, Vocals. The Edge: Lead guitar plus Atmospherics. Jaki Leibezeit: Drums. Marcella Allen: Lead Vocal. Ollie Marland: Keyboards. Animal: Rhythm Guitar. Neville Murray: Percussion. Produced by Francois Kevorkian for Axis Productions Inc. Engineer and Production assistant Paul “Groucho” Smykle. 2nd Engineer: Steven Street. Recorded and mixed at the Fallout Shelter, London, UK.
Snake Charmer (Reprise):
Written by Wobble, Marland, Czukay, Kevorkian. Jah Wobble: Bass, Vocals. The Edge: Slide Guitar Solo. Holger Czukay: Dictaphone, French Horn, Lead Guitar. Francois Kevorkian: Linn Drum Programming. Ollie Marland: Keyboards. Animal: Rhythm Guitar. Neville Murray: Percussion. Produced by Francois Kevorkian for Axis Productions Inc. Engineer and Production assistant Paul “Groucho” Smykle. 2nd Engineer: Steven Street. Recorded and mixed at the Fallout Shelter, London, UK.
Illustrations: Paul Wearing, Art Direction: Bruno Tilley.