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

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


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.