Monday, 24 December 2007

Thanks for reading...

It’s time I put another post up if only to get rid of that picture of my old Vauxhall babe magnet.

I’ve been enjoying all the Christmas songs over at I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (take a look if you haven’t already) but Steve seems to have overlooked one, so here it is.

mp3: Three Wise Men - Thanks for Christmas

The 1983 Christmas single from perhaps my favourite band, sometimes definitely my favourite band, depends on mood, time of year etc. You don’t need me to tell you who it really is.

Thanks to everyone who has dropped by and especially those who have left comments or hit the ‘contact me’ button over the last nine months. You have made it all worthwhile.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

I passed my driving test today…


This day in 1978 that is. I couldn’t tell you what I did on any other Dec 15th in my life but I remember nearly every detail of that one.

First there was the 20-mile drive to Yeovil, the nearest test centre, with my dad sat next to me and my mum in the back so she could do some Christmas shopping. After dropping her off we went for a little test run where I made a couple of mistakes (or did everything wrong, depending on who you believe) and my dad told me I was fucking useless and we might as well go home now. Never let a family member teach you to drive. In hindsight I think he was more nervous about the test than me. At that age you’re used to doing exams and all I had to do here was drive sensibly for half an hour.

So, anyway, I passed and celebrated with a trip to Acorn Records, my record emporium of choice at the time (which a quick Google search shows it’s still there), to buy the just released The Best and The Rest of Be Bop Deluxe. I was still in mourning following the demise of my favourite band so I was really looking forward to this. It was a double album with the first album being the best (although as always there were some curious selections) and the second featuring non-album singles and b-sides and six previously unreleased tracks. Now, time and bitter experience have taught me that most of these are unreleased for a reason. For the most part these tracks were pretty good and in the case of Autosexual excellent. It ticked all the right boxes for me: hypnotic drum loop, great guitar playing and plenty of synths. My understanding is it’s from the Drastic Plastic sessions (at one stage Bill Nelson wanted Drastic Plastic to be a double). It would have to be a brilliant album to leave this off. It was a brilliant album but would have been even better with this on it. I can only assume it was considered too similar to Electrical Language which shares a near identical drum loop. It quite rightly appears on subsequent “Best of…” compilations even though it didn’t make the cut back in the day.

mp3: Be Bop Deluxe - Autosexual (1978) (Buy)

If you’re still reading this I’ll tell you what happened next. I had my own car, a 1965 grey Vauxhall Viva HA similar to the one above which my dad had bought for £150, so in the afternoon I decided to drive to Salisbury Tech to see my friends and pose around for a bit. It was on the way home I learned a valuable lesson about driving: keep you’re eye on the fuel gauge. I ran out of petrol somewhere on the A30. I had my sister and my mate from across the road as passengers because I had told them it would be much quicker to come home with me rather than catch the train. As I recall they weren’t too impressed with the hike to the nearest petrol station.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

See you next week...

The vinyl archive will be closed for a few days while I fly north of the border to Dundee for a family wedding. It seems only fair I should leave you with something with a Dundee connection.

Not only is Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue from Dundee, he apparently taught my brother-in-law and, most importantly from my wife’s family’s point of view, he is a Dundee United supporter.

Here’s a song from Raintown, an album that starts inconspicuously but suddenly bursts into life on the 5th song (Loaded). From there it’s a real gem.

mp3: Deacon Blue - Loaded (Buy)

While I’m there I’ll visit Grouchos record shop if the boss will let me.

P.S. This is my 100th post so it really should be more of a landmark post but I just haven’t got the time.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Bullet proof heart…

I love music from 1980. The late 70s synth bands were at their peak, punk was turning into post-punk and the bands who would shape the early 80s were starting to make their mark. There was no clear consensus which direction bands should take so, for a while at least, anything seemed possible.

I had been collecting and enjoying Fingerprintz singles since I saw them supporting Bill Nelson’s Red Noise in 1979 but none of them looked like troubling the charts. For their 4th single they went for a less frantic and more polished sound with a tale of urban decay. It was produced by Nick Garvey of The Motors as was Distinguishing Marks, the album that followed. I loved this one at the time and thought it would provide them with a breakthrough (how many times have I said that on my posts) but it was not to be.

The band line-up is:
Jimme O’Neill - Guitar, vocals
Cha Burnz - Guitar
Bob Shilling - Drums
Kenny Alton - Bass

Jimme O’Niell and Cha Burnz went on to form The Silencers.
Bob Shilling became Bogdan Wiczling and appears as drummer on some Bill Nelson tracks.

mp3: Fingerprintz - Bullet Proof Heart (1980)

Their 3rd and final album would be a more radical departure but that’s for another day.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Screaming through December…

…that just about sums up what the next 31 days are likely to be like in this house. If you’ve got kids you will know what I mean.

mp3: Daryl Hall & John Oates - Screaming Through December (1974)

From a musical point of view I have to say this was a missed opportunity. Todd Rundgren producing Hall & Oates on the War Babies album should have been a marriage made in heaven. Both artists are capable of sublime blue-eyed soul but for some reason they took the rock route.

Since I only really posted this song for it’s title I feel compelled to post a much better one from the same album…

mp3: Daryl Hall & John Oates - You’re Much Too Soon (1974)

Get it here.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Felt like playing something different today…

While researching this record I found the following description on Casbah Records website: Eighties British soul/jazz group, first of two singles they cut. Featuring an easy grooving melody and slinky bossa rhythms on the classic title track. That sums it up very well, although it does slip slightly into Matt Bianco territory so no doubt I will get more abusive messages. The opening bars remind me of Weekend so maybe that will please those moody types.

I’m pretty sure I first heard this on Tony Blackburn’s old Radio London show. Not a hip name to drop but he did play some good soul.

mp3: Pressure Point - Mellow Moods (1985)




Thursday, 22 November 2007

to the people...

Interview were formed in Bath in 1977. After a short stint playing on the London Pub Rock circuit they signed to Virgin and released two albums and four singles. To The People is their third single and it’s a little new wave/power pop gem. Their dark and cautionary tale section of their website is recommended reading.

mp3: Interview - To The People (1979)



Suitable for grumpy old men demanding three minute pop songs

Thursday, 15 November 2007

A quiet night in on my birthday...

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Today is my birthday and I was supposed to be taking it easy and going out for a meal tonight. Instead I find myself looking after a sick wife, doing the school runs and cancelling the restaurant booking and babysitter.

I’m 47 today!! If that sounds old let me tell you I feel about the same as I did in my 20’s. The downside to that is my taste in music, clothes, hairstyles etc are at least 20 years out of date. The good news is I don’t really care.

There is a 47 Society which claims that the number forty-seven occurs in nature with noticeably higher frequency than other natural numbers. Their website claims that if you pick another number and keep your eyes open for both for a few months 47 will show up more. I don’t know about that but I am 47 today and I share a birthday with Anni-Frid from Abba who was born in Norway, and guess what the dial code for Norway is: 47. Spooky? No, I didn’t think so either.

Anyway, here’s a song from each of the decades I’ve been around.

mp3: The Byrds – I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better (1965)
mp3: Roxy Music – Street Life (1973)
mp3: John Foxx – Your Dress (1983)
mp3: XTC – The Disappointed (1992)
mp3: Wondermints – Shine On Me (2004)

Finally, how about a video of birthday girl Frida in action.

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Invaders




Back to the usual stuff today. Two new wave pop gems from 1979. Girl’s in Action is particularly good. Both records were produced by Jimmy Pursey. To the best of my knowledge they only released these two singles and one album called Test Card (1980).

mp3: The Invaders - Girls In Action
mp3: The Invaders - Best Thing I Ever Did (New Future)

Would it be nerdy to point out that the alien on the first sleeve resembles those in This Island Earth, and the other sleeve appears to be based on Things To Come (which you may have seen on BBC 4 the other night)? Probably.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Happy Birthday


16 years ago today the number 1 single in the UK was ‘Dizzy’. I know this because I had just seen my first child born and I went out and bought it. I don’t see him as much as I would like these days due to circumstances (mostly) beyond my control but I don’t want to go there right now. The picture above was taken when life was simpler. I just needed to mark the occasion in some way. Blogging as therapy and all that, don’t you know…

mp3: Vic Reeves and The Wonderstuff - Dizzy

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Passion Killer...


I always thought this single was going to be a hit. It had a prime time plug on The Tube (which is where I first heard it) and had a reasonable amount of airplay but for some reason it stalled at number 71. It has a Bowie-esque feel, which is not uncommon for records from this era, but this one reminds me of Aladdin Sane era when most people were ripping off Low, maybe that was a problem. Their look, which I would describe as ‘gypsy chic’ tended to divide opinion but at least they stood out from the New Romantic crowd.

Several more singles and two albums followed before they finally split in 1985. None of these releases got the same promotion as the debut. I liked Passion Killer a lot but evidently not enough to buy the subsequent singles without hearing them first, probably because electronica was my thing at the time. That’s a shame because now I would like to hear them. Time to start scouring 2nd hand record shops and ebay I guess.

mp3: One The Juggler – Passion Killer

To my surprise I discovered they played a one off reunion gig earlier this year. For more information there is an excellent fan site. As far as I am aware their only CD release is Destination Planet Blue, an album of previously unreleased demos.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Black Heart




I’m going to jump on the mini Marc Almond bandwagon (see here and here). Black Heart by Marc & The Mambas is from the Torment and Toreros album which appears to be currently unavailable, at least in the UK.

The instrumentation is interesting on this record. You have farfisa organ, piano, sax, flute and a string quartet all held together by the incessant beat of the drum machine (which roots it firmly in the eighties). There’s also Matt Johnson from The The supplying guitar parts quite low in the mix. The song itself is about as jolly as you would expect from the title. Brilliant!

It also came in a lovely picture sleeve (see above).

mp3: Marc & The Mambas - Black Heart (1983)

Wouldn’t you love to hear David Gray cover this? No, neither would I.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Chas Jankel




The brilliant Chas Jankel had the uncanny ability to supply just the right arrangement for Ian Dury’s unique voice. He’s also made some fine solo records. His first album included Ai No Corrida, a song that impressed Quincy Jones so much he covered it on his album The Dude.

109 is from his 1981 album Chasanova. I read earlier this year that this album was going to be re-issued but it hasn’t happened yet. The b-side, also from the album, is 3,000,000 Synths and can be heard on Chas’s Myspace page.

Chas will soon be touring the UK with The Blockheads to celebrate the 30th anniversary of New Boots and Panties.

mp3: Chas Jankel - 109

Buy Chas Jankel here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Happy Birthday Grace…

Bit of a change from the usual new wave/post punk/electro stuff today. You have to remember I’m getting on a bit and I started collecting records before punk/new wave. The first band I started collecting was Jefferson Airplane and it’s various spin-offs. Today is Grace Slick’s 68th(!!!) birthday.

To celebrate I have posted four song. Not necessarily her best (I’m not getting in to that argument), just songs that I’ve enjoyed for the last 30+ years.

mp3: Jefferson Airplane - Two heads (1967) (Buy)
Grace at her sneering best from the psychedelic classic After Bathing At Baxter’s.

mp3: Grace Slick - Come Again? Toucan (1973) (Buy)
Grace’s first solo album Manhole was once described by Charles Shaar Murray in a JA article as one of the worst albums he’s ever heard, so it was with some trepidation that I played this track from it when I bought the Flight Log compilation. It’s not up there with her classics but it’s better that the stuff the Airplane were churning out in the early 70s. I still haven’t heard the rest of the album.

mp3: Jefferson Starship – Hyperdrive (1974) (Buy)
This is just fantastic. Pure hippie space rock almost proggy nonsense. My favourite Grace Slick song. Really.

mp3: Grace Slick – Dreams (1980) (Buy)
I didn’t particularly like this almost hit from 1980 at the time, considering too MOR. It’s probably my age, but now I think it’s great, almost magical which I think was the idea of the production. This is the slightly longer album version.

This is the first time I have used Mediafire for my files. Let me know if you have problems.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Love Cascade

Leisure Process seem to be largely forgotten now despite achieving moderate success in the early eighties. Singer Ross Middleton came from Positive Noise (songs still available here) and saxophone player Gary Barnacle seemingly played on every early 80’s record that featured a session sax player.

mp3: Leisure Process – Love Cascade (1982)

I started writing this post under the assumption that this was their most well known song and was a chart hit. Apparently they had no UK chart entries, which really conflicts with my memory. It’s a Martin Rushent production with one eye on the pop chart and the other on the dance floor, which should be recommendation enough.

They recorded a Peel session which was broadcast on 22nd March 1982 and I recorded it but I don’t have anything to play it on at the moment. There will be more Leisure Process posts in the future including the Peel session if I can find a working cassette deck.

Even better than the sum of it’s parts…

If I had bought the 7-inch version of Love Action back in 1981 I doubt if I would listened to it’s b-side Hard Times more than a couple of times. It was an ok instrumental but I think the novelty would soon have worn off. However, combine it with Love Action (probably the League’s best ever single) as they did on the 12-inch version and it takes on a whole new dimension. Ten minutes of aural pleasure. I’m glad I didn’t live next door to me in 1981 because I used to play this a lot and loud, particularly the shrieking synths leading to the Love Action intro.

mp3: The Human League - Hard Times/Love Action (Original 12-inch Version 1981)

Buy Human League music here.

Production by Martin Rushent who had the midas touch at the time. More from him in the next post.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

An unlikely Stiff record…

…well I always thought so. I mean, you don’t expect Motown mimicry when you think of Stiff, do you? And very good it is too. I don’t know much about The Sapphires (a name like that is not google friendly) but I have good memories of this record. I used to hear it on my car radio driving to work on my first proper job after four years working for the Ministry of Defence (if I told you what I was doing I’d have to kill you ;) ). There were actually two versions of this song at the time. The other was a man whose name escapes me who sang “Baby I Must Be A Magician” in a jazzier way. I think it’s obvious which one I preferred.

Any Motown fan will know this as a Smokey Robinson composition which was a US hit for The Marvelettes in 1968. This version is more in the style of The Supremes. As a treat I’ve included the Sapphires and Marvelettes versions for you to compare.

mp3: The Sapphires – My Baby Must Be A Magician (1983)

mp3: The Marvelettes - My Baby Must Be A Magician (1968)
That’s Melvin Franklin of The Temptations on the intro.

Buy The Sapphires version here.

Buy The Marvelettes version here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Metrophase - In Black

It’s a funny thing, blogging; sometimes you get a song in your head and you just have to post it. I promise after this I will lighten up a bit for my next few posts.

This is one of those lovely old independent releases with a xerox sleeve and even a xeroxed lyric sheet insert. The record label is plain white except for rubber stamped song titles, a 33RPM stamp and a partial date stamp (6 JUL 197?)

I bought this and many other indie releases from this period from a local market stall, which was the only place I could get them without travelling 20 miles. Many of these records were bought unheard (see my last Punilux post) based on how interesting they looked. In this case it was the fact that Steev Burgess is credited with playing synthesiser and rhythm machine. I hoped I was buying a record in the style of Gary Numan or John Foxx. In general terms it probably is part of that genre but in a much more primitive and even bleaker form.

Metrophase were a mainly studio project for Steev Burgess. As far as I know they only played live twice. The Phase One EP on their own Neolondon label features three tracks: In Black, Neobeauty and Cold Rebellion. In Black features Nikki Mapp on bass + acoustic guitar and Epic on piano, AKA Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks from Swell Maps.

mp3: Metrophase – In Black (1979)

If you want a copy of this record Vinyl Tap have one for £18.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Do you have fantasies?

Good, now I’ve got your attention! It’s the opening refrain from Person to Person by French coldwave band The (Hypothetical) Prophets. The song takes the form of a series of personal ads.

As the opening verse puts it:

Paper mates, blind dates, hedonistics, romantics, bi-sexuals, anti-socials, unattractives, independents, lonely hearts and no starters all can find ideal partners through the person to person to personal announcements.

If you are wondering how these can possibly fit into a song just right-click and save the link below.

Don’t know much about this band apart from the fact they consisted of Bernard Szajner and Karel Beer, who went under the pseudonyms Joseph Weil and Norman D Landing. I have to say no-one sounds French on this record, which is surprising since it is mostly spoken, and the humour and choice of place names seems very English (Elektra, Dorking and Maureen, Bognor). Draw your own conclusions.


mp3: The (Hypothetical) Prophets - Person To Person (Colour Supplementary Version)

Monday, 8 October 2007

Engine of Excess

Back to normality today: another Punishment of Luxury single. This was in fact my first Punilux single and I think the main reason I bought it was because I liked the band name. I had certainly never heard their music. My first thought when I heard the opening bars of Engine of Excess was ‘Hawkwind’. This may go some way to explaining why the music press seemed to hate them so much. That was certainly not a cool name to drop in 1979, although I’m sure I’ve read since then that John Lydon was a Hawkwind fan which even now seems to be important to certain journo types, so maybe it’s ok now.

This was their first United Artists release following the excellent Puppet Life on the Small Wonder label.

Back in the day I played the b-side Jellyfish at least as much as the a-side with it’s strange vocal and John Noakes impression at the end, so I’ve included that too.

mp3: Punishment of Luxury - Engine of Excess

mp3: Punishment of Luxury – Jellyfish

Saturday, 6 October 2007

We woz robbed...


Little bit of a self indulgent post today - hope you don’t mind too much.

Today is carnival day in the small town where I grew up. That was quite a big deal when I was a kid, something the whole town seemed to get involved in either as participants or spectators. That’s me on the right (circa 1975) in my homemade Planet of the Apes costume. The other ape is another Michael who now lives in Torquay and is a regular reader of this blog (you’ll find it much easier when you get your broadband connection, Mike). The certificate I’m holding is for 2nd prize for our age group. 1st prize went to a girl dressed as a witch. Can you believe it? We put so much effort into making these costumes and we’re beaten by a girl in a black dress and a pointy hat (who, incidentally, wore the same costume the previous year). I know I should be over it by now but that sense of injustice still lingers.

The other big thing for us kids was the fair would come to town for three days, so there actually something to do at night. My dad would give me 50p spending money (that was ten bob in his language) and that would last all night. I loved the noise and lights and smell of the fair. The music was supplied by a record player suspended on bungee cords to avoid picking up vibrations. This is one of the records that immediately brings back the smell of generators, candy floss, toffee apples etc. It’s 70’s, kitsch and great loud.

mp3: 5000 Volts - I'm On Fire

Normal service will be resumed for the next post.

Monday, 1 October 2007

October


It’s not often that a new month comes along and one of your musical heroes has an appropriate song so I make no apologies for posting this. I have been a Bill Nelson fan since 1976 when I discovered Be Bop Deluxe and the more observant among you will have noticed that the name of this blog is ‘adapted’ from a Be Bop Deluxe compilation CD (Raiding The Divine Archive).

October Man is from his brilliant 1982 album The Love That Whirls.

Friday, 28 September 2007

The Sound – Sense of Purpose

I was wondering what to post today when I came across this post over at the Vinyl District featuring tracks from The Sound’s second album ‘From The Lion’s Mouth’. This single is from the same album. I’ve seen The Sound compared to several post-punk bands, like Echo & the Bunnymen, Comsat Angels and even Joy Division, but this song is a dead ringer for the Teardrop Explodes. As with many bands from this era critical acclaim did not lead to high sales. For more information see this site which also includes interviews with surviving members.

mp3: The Sound - Sense of Purpose (What Are We Going To Do)
1981 Korova KOW 21

The album has had a CD release but seems to be currently unavailable unless you want to pay over £30 on Amazon Marketplace.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Twister...


I thought it was a bit windy when I was making the wife’s early morning cuppa. Apparently we were having a mini tornado. It’s a beautiful day now, though.

mp3: David Bowie – When The Wind Blows (Extended Mix)

Friday, 21 September 2007

Music For Pleasure






If you read the last post you will get a feeling of déjà vu with this one. Two synthpop singles from the early 80’s by a band I know virtually nothing about. To be honest I get these songs and the ones I posted yesterday mixed up because of their age and stylistic similarity (or am I just getting old?).

At least this time I can tell you the band line-up:
Music For Pleasure
Mark Copson – Lead vocals
David Whitaker – Keyboards, synthesizers & vocals
Martin King – Bass & vocals
Christopher Oldroyd – Drums

Also in line with yesterday’s post, the 1st single is poppier and in my opinion better for it.

mp3: Music For Pleasure - The Human Factor (1980)

mp3: Music For Pleasure - Fuel To The Fire (1981)

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Here is The News...




Over a week since the last post? You have probably gathered I don’t have much spare time at the moment. The least I can do after all this time is offer two singles from the archive.

These singles from The News are both from 1981, obviously fit into the synthpop category and…that’s about it. I don’t know any more. If you know anything about them I’d love to hear from you.

These are not lost classics but I like them and they are good examples of what chart hopefuls were putting out at the time. They come from a time when titles like “Audio Video” sounded vaguely high tech.

mp3: The News - Audio Video

mp3: The News - A World Without Love

Monday, 10 September 2007

The Keys - I Don't Wanna Cry (1981)

The Keys formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1983. Their one album “The Keys Album”, produced by Joe Jackson, featured this great jangly pop song.

The Keys were:
Drew Barfield – vocals, bass
Steve Tatler – vocals, guitar
Ben Grove – vocals, guitar
Geoff Britton – drums

This really should have been a hit. I remember it getting reasonable airplay on Mike Read’s breakfast show but for some reason it didn’t happen.

mp3: The Keys - I Don't Wanna Cry (1981)

Singer/songwriter Drew Barfield is still recording and has a website with samples from his most recent album.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Short but sweet...

I’m taking my inspiration for this post from some comments over at Davy’s place about favourite short songs and Steve’s last post at Teenage Kicks where he talks about annoying his dad with his music. I can combine the two (sort of) with this selection of three of my favourite short songs.

mp3: The Buzzcocks – Oh Shit (1:36)
On a lovely summer afternoon in the late 70’s (probably 1978) I was playing music loud in my bedroom with the windows wide open when I noticed the old bag next door looking up at my window and shaking her head in disgust. There was only one thing for it: on went Oh Shit and I made sure the amp was turned up to 11 for the “fucking cow” bit. Well, it seemed like a good idea as a teenager.

mp3: The Residents – La La (1:04)
No story behind this. Just a great little track that I first heard on a sampler in the early 80’s.

mp3: Yes - We Have Heaven (1:39) *
Now I find this weird. As a teenager you want to annoy your parents with your music but mine steadfastly refused to complain apart from telling me to turn it down sometimes. I tried heavy rock, punk and psychedelia but nothing seemed to work. This is the track that finally made my mother crack. She really hated, and I mean hated, this song and to this day I can’t understand why. This was Jon Anderson’s showcase on the Fragile album (each member of the band had one). It featured a multitracked vocal starting with a phrase which is repeated throughout the song, and this is what she hated most of all. The lyric sites can’t agree what the phrase actually is.
Here are three guesses:
Tell the moon, don’t tell the marcher
Tell the moon, don’t tell the march hare
Tell the moondogs, tell the march hare
As for me, I don’t care - I gave up trying to decipher Jon Anderson lyrics years ago. I just think it sounds great.

*you wouldn’t know it from the stuff I post on this blog but prog rock is a guilty secret of mine, especially what is now classed as symphonic prog.

Buy Buzzcocks here, The Residents here and Yes here.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Roll Over Beethoven…This is Bram Tchaikovsky




I was looking for inspiration today so I took it from this post over at Teenage Kicks which featured You Beat The Hell Outta Me and Dancing The Night Away by The Motors. As good as The Motors were I’ve never heard anything from them as good as former member Bram Tchaikovsky’s Girl Of My Dreams (1979). From 1980, and presumably not featuring Bram Tchaikovsky, Love and Loneliness is one of my favourite Motors songs with a BIG sound.

mp3: Bram Tchaikovsky – Girl Of My Dreams

mp3: The Motors – Love and Loneliness

Buy the Motors here. I think you need to look at Ebay for Bram Tchaikovsky.

I have cheated a little bit on this post. The scans above are taken from the picture sleeves of my singles but both tracks are taken from CD’s and are slightly longer than the single versions.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

it was a shithole…but it was our shithole


Just heard the news that CBGB founder Hilly Kristal died in Manhattan after a battle with lung cancer. There will be several obituaries on the internet in the next few days and I look forward to reading them. I don’t know much about him, I’ve never been to New York (yet) and, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have liked his club much; I don’t cope well with cramped, sweaty conditions. But, and it’s a big but, I will always be grateful to him for giving a platform to some of the more interesting bands of the late seventies.

As a small tribute here is some music from some of those bands.

mp3: Television - Foxhole
As a teenager I found it much easier to identify with the twitchy, nervy Tom Verlaine than the aggressive UK punk bands.

mp3: Talking Heads – Love-->Building On Fire
As a teenager I found it much easier to identify with the twitchy, nervy David Byrne than the aggressive UK punk bands.

mp3: The Ramones – Swallow My Pride
As a teenager I found it much easier to identify with The Ramones cartoon punks than the aggressive UK punk bands. I think there’s a theme developing.

mp3: Patti Smith Group – Frederick
The title of this post is taken from a Patti Smith quote: “I’m not trying to romanticize anything because in some ways it was a shithole. The sound was crappy, there was always things breaking down and glasses breaking and people vomiting and the rats scurrying around in the back, but it was our shithole and that was the greatest thing. I’ve played a lot of places and it was the only place I’ve ever played that felt like our place.”

mp3: The Shirts – Tell Me Your Plans
Some of you will be saying “who?” Look them up on the internet. They were there too and this is a lost classic.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Puppet Life


So, August Bank Holiday. That means Reading Rock Festival. I only went to Reading twice: 1979 and 1980. ’79 was quite varied and enjoyable, but 1980 was the first of several years where they concentrated on heavy metal (the so called New Wave of British Heavy Metal was the latest fad in some quarters) and was therefore, um, shite!

One band I was looking forward to seeing 28 years ago(!!!) was Punishment Of Luxury. I already had several singles by them, don’t think the album had been released yet but I could be wrong. The critics hated Punishment Of Luxury, never sure why. I think they suspected they were “hippies” (a big insult at the time) jumping on the punk/new wave bandwagon, and the fact their LP seemed to have a loose concept of a near future dystopian Britain didn’t help (I always picture droogs when I hear British Baboon). Hardly a crime you might think, but those were strange times and you know what music critics are like. Mojo even included their Laughing Academy album in their Lance Corporal Nutmeg feature in 1996.

The first Punishment Of Luxury single was Puppet Life on Small Wonder records and is currently available on Small Wonder Punk Singles Collection Vol.1. In case you’re wondering, the gibberish after the voice says “You Will!” is the Lord’s Prayer in reverse. I did the whole spinning the record backwards thing years ago. Just to prove this blog goes the extra mile I am also including the b-side The Demon.

mp3: Punishment of Luxury - Puppet Life
mp3: Punishment of Luxury - The Demon
More Punilux to be featured in the future.

This has been a BWP (Blogging While Pissed) presentation. The kids are in bed and I have been writing this with the assistance of several bottles of Peroni.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

History Never Repeats...

Ever wondered what happens if you try to scan a laser etched single? It works quite well, actually. Iain over at Down With Tractors reminded me of this one (Iain, I still have the Styx laser etched album, even though it was bobbins ;) ). History Never Repeats is a typically fine piece of melodic pop/rock.

Want to hear a bizarre Split Enz cover? How about The Wiggles featuring Tim Finn singing Six Months In A Leaky Boat? When you have three young kids you get to hear this sort of thing. The strange thing is, if you could edit Captain Feathersword (don’t ask) from the mix I think I would prefer the Wiggles’ version. Greg (the yellow Wiggle) has a nice voice that blends well with Tim’s.

mp3: Split Enz - History Never Repeats

mp3: Split Enz - Six Months In A Leaky Boat

Buy Split Enz here and the Wiggles here

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Suffer The Children





I see from the Post Punk Progressive Pop Party that it’s Roland Orzabal’s birthday. Happy 46th Roland. By way of celebration here is the single version of Suffer The Children from 1981. This would have made a good bonus track on the re-issue of The Hurting but for some reason it wasn’t.

mp3: Tears For Fears - Suffer The Children (1981 single version)

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Prime Time

Take a look at the picture above. This has to be my favourite of all my coloured vinyl records. I went to see the tubes in 1979, but you’ll know that if you were reading yesterday. The Tubes were a great theatrical band and they were promoting Remote Control, a concept album about a TV obsessed person who, after being rejected by the real world, commits telecide (or something). From memory they performed the whole album and then did all the old favourites like the Quay Lewd segment, Smoke and Don’t Touch Me There etc.

The concert coincided with the European Cup final between Nottingham Forest and Malmo (from Sweden). There was one part of the show where a working TV was rolled onto the stage and we could see the match was on. While Fee Waybill was trying to perform this part of the show (fortunately not a singing part) he became aware of shouting in the audience. “What’s the score!!?” Fee handled it like a pro “I don’t know. I’ll find out for you” (in those days they didn’t display the current score in the top left corner) “uh, it’s one zero to Nottingham!” Cue cheers from the audience.

But I digress. You older readers will remember that the Tubes were a big live draw in the late 70s but their records were sometimes disappointing and sold poorly. Remote Control is the album where they got everything right. Good songs, a concept that leant itself to theatrical presentation and brilliant Todd Rundgren production that improved the harmonies and made the synthesisers more prominent. Prime Time reached #34 on the UK chart in 1979. As a bonus I’ve also included the Phil Spector-ish studio version of Don’t Touch Me There from 1976.

mp3: The Tubes - Prime Time
mp3: The Tubes - Don't Touch Me There

Buy The Tubes here and here

Monday, 20 August 2007

Fashion MK I




On 30th May 1979 I was very excited because I was going to the Southampton Gaumont to see The Tubes “plus special guests” Squeeze. The Tubes were promoting their Remote Control album (their finest hour) and Squeeze were enjoying success with the Cool For Cats album, which included their latest single, the brilliant Up The Junction. This was surely going to be a memorable night.

Well, it was but not quite in the way I imagined. In short, Squeeze didn’t appear. I believe they were recording a Top Of The Pops appearance that night, but it’s possible they didn’t play on the tour at all. In their place was Fashion. There was a fair amount of discontent in the audience when these three strange looking people came on stage and started playing a punk/reggae/electro hybrid, and just how would you describe that vocal style? I’m not going to try, listen to the mp3 at the bottom of the page.

I, of course, was disappointed too, but there was something compelling about this band. At this stage they consisted of singer/guitarist Luke (Luke James) who was very tall (6ft 9in according to one internet source), bass/synth player Mulligan (John Mulligan) and drummer Dik (Dick Davis). This line-up released three singles and one album on their own Fashion Music label to critical acclaim, but they were never going to find a mainstream following. I have all of these records and they will all be featured at some point in the future. Let’s start with the first single Steady Eddie Steady, as good an example of their sound as you are likely to find, although some of their songs have more synthesiser. This is one of those love it or hate it records, which is a sign of a band taking chances.

Single discography:
Steady Eddie Steady
Citinite
Silver Blades
There is also an import single, The Innocent, not on the Fashion Music label (I’ve got this too)

Album:
Product Perfect

After the release of Silver Blades there were line-up changes and Fashion MK 2 was born, but that’s for another post.

mp3: Fashion - Steady Eddie Steady

Friday, 17 August 2007

Moskow Diskow


It’s hard to find the time for blogging at the moment and I’m unlikely to get a chance this weekend, so just time to sneak this one in.


Finally got around to digitising this single last weekend. If you haven’t heard it before it’s a classic slice of early synthpop/electropop from 1979.

mp3: Telex - Moskow Diskow

mp3: Telex - Twist a St. Tropez

Monday, 13 August 2007

White & Torch (or David Essex Showcase part 2)




One of the hits for this blog on Friday was a person from Pleasanton, California doing a Google search for White And Torch. My blog would have shown up on their search because I mentioned this duo in reply to a comment on my David Essex Showcase post. I hope this person searches again because they have given me the excuse I needed to post these songs.

I knew nothing about Roy White and Steve Torch except they were on the David Essex Showcase in 1982 singing Who’s Asking You and appeared to be a cross between the Righteous Brothers and David Bowie both visually and musically. I have literally just discovered that they were once members of Pink Military, a band who will be featured at a future date. I am, frankly, amazed by that revelation. I can’t imagine two more different styles. I was also surprised to discover they recorded a John Peel session in March 1984. You know, I haven’t featured these songs before because I thought nobody would be interested but maybe White and Torch are more hip than I realised.

mp3: White and Torch - Who's Asking You (1982)
A Walker Brothers style wall of sound ballad.

mp3: White and Torch - Bury My Heart (1984)
A more uptempo number with more typical 80’s production.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

White Door – Windows (1983)

I apparently bought this for 30p from Brian’s Records in Salisbury. I have no recollection of that shop but I do know that I had never heard this song and took a gamble, assuming from the sleeve that it was synthpop (although we never used that term at the time). Windows, from 1983, is not a lost classic but I like it and it is very evocative of the era.

White Door were:
Mac Austin (vocals)
Harry Davies (synthesiser, flute)
John Davies (synthesiser)

They produced six singles and one album, also called Windows, between 1981 and 1984. Mac Austin and Harry Davies were previously members of prog rock band Grace who split up in 1981 but reformed in the late 80’s and are still recording and performing today.

mp3: White Door - Windows

Also….

There’s a new blog in town. Check out Down With Tractors. Iain is a musician and DJ with an interesting record collection and his blog has got off to a superb start. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

You choose...

















After The Adverts split T.V. Smith formed T.V. Smith’s Explorers and added synthesisers to the mix, creating a more post-punk sound.

They released four singles:
Tomahawk Cruise November 1980
The Servant April 1981
Have Fun June 1981
Perfect Life October 1981

and one album:
Last Words Of The Great Explorer June 1981

Here’s one from The Adverts and one from T.V. Smith’s Explorers:

mp3: The Adverts - No Time To Be 21
mp3: T.V. Smith's Explorers - Tomahawk Cruise

Buy The Adverts here or check the T.V. Smith website to buy solo CDs.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

There are three of them and they are not twins…

Before the Thompson Twins became the three piece pop band we are familiar with they were a fairly experimental seven piece (sometimes more – it seemed to fluctuate). I remember liking a song called Make Believe from their first album, A Product of…, but finding much of the rest too busy and cluttered. This is certainly not the case with Runaway, a single remixed from second album, Set. By now most of the elements of their later sound are in place, although the song sounds more like a decent album track than a hit single. I can’t remember for sure but I think I must have bought this mainly for the live version of Make Believe on the free single that accompanied it.

mp3: Thompson Twins - Runaway
Remixed from the Set album, additional synthesiser by Tom Dolby (sic).

mp3: Thompson Twins - Make Believe (Live)
Recorded at Hammersmith Palais 1982, additional synthesiser by Tom Dolby (sic), hubcaps by audience. Not as good as the studio version but it’s all I’ve got for now.

Buy Thompson Twins here but don’t expect to find these tracks on CD