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

Friday, 27 July 2007

It’s not big and it’s not clever…

But it is pretty funny, even if the joke does wear a bit thin over four and a half minutes. This is the b-side of the 12-inch single of Alexei Sayle’s ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor? I usually refer to this as the sweary version. For some reason I always thought this would make a good Friday post.

I first heard this some time in 1984 when we were going clubbing and a friend called Gary had drawn the short straw and was driving that night. We couldn’t quite believe it when this came out of his car stereo. He offered to lend it to me so I could tape it and 23 years later I’ve still got it and I haven’t seen him for about 12 years. That’s why I never lend records or CDs to anyone any more.

mp3: Alexei Sayle - 'Ullo John! Gotta New Motor? (Part IV)

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Let there be light part 2...

Five days since my last post already. It’s harder to find the time during the school holidays so the posts are likely to be less frequent for the next six weeks.

I have added two links since my last post:
Iain from Westway particularly enjoyed the Vicious Pink post and has an interesting blog of his own. His site also has a link to Gravenhurst, a band well worth checking out.

The other link is Echoes In The Wind, an excellent site featuring a very eclectic range of music that I discovered via the Teenage Kicks blog.

Finally, the main point of this post: another single from Fiat Lux. Secrets was their 3rd single and peaked at #65 on the UK chart. I still live in hope that some record company will see the light and give this band the full remastered CD anthology treatment but I’m not holding my breath.

mp3: Fiat Lux - Secrets

And here’s the video for you to enjoy too:

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Some V.U. White Light returned with thanks...

Nice David Bowie post today over at The Ghost Of Electricity. I often wonder what would have happened if Hunky Dory had been the huge hit it deserved to be on original release. Would we still have had Ziggy Stardust and all that followed? Maybe some things happen for a reason.

mp3: David Bowie - Queen Bitch

If you don’t already own Hunky Dory you really should. Buy it here.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Living By Numbers

I forgot to mention in the previous post that the songs were produced by Tony Mansfield of New Musik. That's all the excuse I need to post this classic.

mp3: New Musik - Living By Numbers

Buy New Musik here

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Lost 80's ccclassic...

Cult band Vicious Pink consisted of Josephine Warden (vocals) and Brian Moss (keyboards) and started out as backing vocalists for Soft Cell. They released a handful of singles and one album between 1981 and 1986. CCCan’t You See from 1984 should have been their breakthrough single but it peaked at #67 on the UK chart. I originally intended to only post the short version of this song but some 12-inch singles deserve to be heard in full and this is definitely one of them. There’s fifteen and a half minutes in total but I thoroughly recommend it all to you.

mp3: Vicious Pink – CCCan’t You See…(French Extended Mix) (7:12)
mp3: Vicious Pink – CCCan’t You See… (3:32)
mp3: Vicious Pink – 8:15 To Nowhere/Great Balls Of Fire (4:51)

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Better late than never...

Back in April when I posted the brilliant 12-inch version of Uncertain Smile by The The I mentioned that I would post the b-sides if anyone was interested. I had a couple of immediate responses and another one yesterday, so here they are at last.

One word of warning, the b-side is pressed slightly off centre – something I didn’t realise until today. Hopefully, it’s not too noticeable.
Buy The The here

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Icing on the cake

Hey, look what I found in one of my singles boxes! If you enjoyed yesterdays Lilac Time song you may be interested in this single from Stephen Duffy’s earlier incarnation as Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy, which peaked at #14 in the UK chart in 1985.

The production is dated and the lyrics on the verses are will make you cringe (Baby let me make you a statue to stand outside the council house and You were left on the doorstep of the social security) but there are things to enjoy. The voice is still there and the bridges leading to the choruses are nice. Overall, worth 50p from Woolworths.

mp3: Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy - Icing On The Cake

This song and others from his Tin Tin period are available at a bargain price on They Called Him Tin Tin.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

mp3 blogs really work...

As you will all be aware nearly every mp3 blog includes a paragraph urging readers to buy music by the artists they download if they like what they hear. Well, for any doubters out there, it actually works. Back in May I downloaded Return To Yesterday by The Lilac Time, I’m slightly embarrassed to say I don’t remember which blog it was from, and wondered how I had managed to miss it back in the 80’s. Fast forward two months to yesterday and I found myself in my local Virgin Megastore wanting some new music. I ended up buying The Lilac Time’s eponymous 1st album and “And Love For All” for £5 each purely on the strength of that one song.

On the drive home I listened to the first few tracks on “And Love For All” and immediately knew I’d made a good choice. As good as the opener Fields was, the next song, All For Love And Love For All, was even better; one of those great pop songs that grab you instantly on the first listen. It reminded my of Dream Academy’s Life In A Northern Town. My research when I got home revealed it had been a single (no surprise) but not a hit (no surprise again if you remember the late 80’s charts). What I didn’t pick up on, even though it’s very noticeable in retrospect, was the Andy Partridge production on seven songs. To be fair they don’t sound like XTC songs, it’s more the sound textures and harmonies, and that must be an Andy Partridge guitar solo on The Laundry. It’s just that I’ve been known to bore people with tales of just how great XTC are so I should have noticed.

So, for others like me who somehow missed The Lilac Time I present All For Love And Love For All and the song it reminded me of. It goes without saying if you like what you hear please support these artists by buying their music.

mp3: The Lilac Time - All For Love And Love For All (Buy)

mp3: Dream Academy - Life in A Northern Town (Buy)

P.S. I know I promised some Roxy Music but I decided to be more spontaneous with this post. RM will follow in the near future.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The Explorers

When Roxy Music called it a day after the brilliant Avalon album Bryan Ferry went on to release the stylistically similar but nowhere near as inspired Boys and Girls, followed by BĂȘte Noir and… some others. To be honest I didn’t really keep track of his career. For all the slick production and good session musicians, or should that be because of them, Ferry’s solo albums always lack something for me; probably the group dynamic. For this reason I have not bothered buying Dylanesque (that old Ferry standby – a covers album) but will certainly buy the next Roxy Music album if and when there is one. As with all great bands the whole is better than the sum of the parts.

Anyway, back to the point of this post: At around the same time as the Boys and Girls album Phil Manzanera and Andy MacKay teamed up with singer James Wraith and released four singles and an album as The Explorers. I remember reading an interview where they said they didn’t want to sound like Roxy Music with a different singer. Almost inevitably, they didn’t entirely succeed but I don’t mean that as a criticism. Let’s be honest, their natural fanbase was always going to be ex-Roxy fans.

mp3: The Explorers – Lorelei
Excellent debut single – sounds Roxy-ish in all the right ways but has it’s own identity.

mp3: The Explorers – Two Worlds Apart
3rd single – more like late period Roxy music and James Wraith seems to be doing a Bryan Ferry impression but again I must stress I don’t mean this as a criticism.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Flexible friends part 3

Today’s flexi disc came bundled with the Simple Minds I Travel single. This is 1980 Simple Minds, right in the middle of their 1979-1982 golden era.

Kaleidoscope (Download), a brooding rock ballad where the occasionally overpowering drums and guitars are embellished with lovely piano or keyboard lines (to quote a pretty accurate review on Amazon) is available on the Celebration compilation.

Film Theme Dub (Download) finds them in Kraftwerk territory with a variation of the Reel to Real Cacophony instrumental. As far as I know this version has not been released on CD.

As a bonus I am including New Warm Skin (Download), b-side of I Travel, which reminds me of late John Foxx period Ultravox. A demo version of this song is available on Silver Box.

If you want to hear I Travel, and if you haven’t you really should, you will find it on Empires and Dance and the excellent Early Gold compilation.

OOPS! I exceeded my monthly bandwidth allowance. If you have had problems downloading please try again. And remember, if you enjoy these mp3s please support the artists by buying their music in the format of your choice.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Flexible friends Part 2

Fatal Charm were the support act on OMD’s 1980 “Organisation” tour. This two track flexi was given away free at gigs. I picked this one up at Guildford Civic Hall and managed to keep it safe in the mosh pit and get it home in one piece. OK, so there’s no mosh pit at OMD shows but there was no seating downstairs and believe it or not, you can dance to their music.

Here’s what the official programme had to say about Fatal Charm:

It started off on a two-track machine in a Nottingham flat. A singer, his songs, a guitar, a wasp synthesizer and a drum machine. The Fatal Charm grew out of that.

Some months later, the band played its first gig. Paul Arnall, the provocateur of the piece, had been joined by Kevin Davies (Bass), David Barker (keyboards) and Kevin Gallagher (drums).

Their reputation grew around Nottingham, and last November they released their first single on the Lincoln independent record label, Company. Paris, as it was titled, gave an early indication of the interesting brand of left-field pop that Arnall was developing. A few months later, three more tracks appeared on the indie compilation album, East.

Not totally happy with his own voice, Arnall found Sarah Simmons, a local girl who had been a backing singer in a couple of Midland bands. They went back to the flat, the two-track and started again, emerging with an even more absorbing selection, tracks like Western Laughter and Dark Eyes. Sarah’s contribution enhanced the songs in a strange, sinister way.

Since then The Fatal Charm have been building quietly, effectively. They release their first single in Jauary. Happy New Year.

Interesting trivia: Fatal Charm appeared on the first ever edition of The Tube. History does not record who the headline act was that night ;-)

If you want a copy of this flexi Vinyl Tap will sell you one for £20.

For more info there is a Fatal Charm website but I found singer Sarah Simmonds’ site more interesting.

mp3: Fatal Charm - Western Laughter

mp3: Fatal Charm - Dark Eyes

Even if you have never heard of Fatal Charm give these mp3's a try. It's good early 80's new wave pop.

More Reggae In The Blogosphere

I was going to post another old flexi disc but that can wait for a day or so. I’m taking time out to support the growing More Reggae In The Blogosphere campaign (or am I just jumping on the bandwagon?). I haven’t got much reggae in my collection but here’s a small contribution.

I first came across reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson on the OGWT in the early 80s when he performed Inglan Is A Bitch and Lorraine unaccompanied. I think there was a musicians’ union strike at the time but that could be my memory playing tricks. Needless to say I had never seen or heard anything quite like it before so I got a copy of Bass Culture, the album that featured these songs, on the strength of that performance. Unfortunately, it’s on tape and I don’t currently have the means to convert it, so here is the only LKJ vinyl I own. This song is also from Bass Culture.

Yet another More Reggae In The Blogosphere (c) posting 2007.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Flexible friends part1

I keep coming across flexi discs tucked away inside some of the sturdier picture sleeves in my collection so it’s about time I shared some.

This 1981 Smash Hits freebie, hidden inside my copy of OMD’s Red Frame White Light, features two tracks and they sound pretty good for a 26 year old flexi disc.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Pretending to See The Future (Live)
The original version of Pretending to See The Future was the last track on OMD’s debut album and featured a laid back vocal. It seems they felt this wouldn’t work well live and performed it with a more strident vocal. They kept this arrangement when I saw them on the Organisation tour.

Nash the Slash – Swing Shift (Flexi Version)
Older readers may remember Nash the Slash supporting Gary Numan on the 1980 Teletour. Dressed like the invisible man, with surgical bandages covering his face, Nash The Slash was a one man band who played violin, mandolin and keyboards with a drum machine (and sequencer?) and various effects to create a unique and interesting live show. He is Canadian and his real name may or may not be Jeff Plewman. I am only familiar with one of his albums, Children of the Night, and without the visual aspect some of the impact is lost, but it is worth checking out. The CD re-issue of this album features the full version and this flexi-version of Swing Shift. Amazon in Canada seems to be the best place to get a copy.