Hot Ladies of Rock

hotladiesFormat: LP
Label: Pickwick Records
Country: Pressed in Germany for the UK market
Year: 1982
Price paid: $6
Purchased at: Angry Mom Records, Ithaca NY

A sample of classy Pickwick comilations

A sample of classy Pickwick compilations

Pickwick Records is probably better known to readers in the UK- a budget label in the manner of Ronco and K-Tel, they released a flood of  product from the sixties onward and seemed to hit their stride in the late seventies/early eighties with sleazy compilations such as the not at all sexistly titled ‘Hot Ladies of Rock.’

At the risk of perpetuating the misogyny I would have to agree that this LP certainly does a fair job of reflecting the ‘hot’ female artists of the period- at least in terms of quality, cultural relevance, and/or chart action. You couldn’t ask for a better roster actually. The only criticism is that Pickwick could have had a wider selection of artists with less doubling-up, but I’m sure that was done for budget reasons. The only stinker in the bunch is the inclusion of ‘Paying the Price of Love’ by Crush, a group so obscure that I’ve never heard of them. And I specialize in the genre.

I have a thing for kitschy bottom-of-the-barrel vinyl compilations. You can keep your expensive high-profile cover art by The Police and Madonna; if you want to see the REAL design aesthetic of the eighties you’ve got to dig down to the level of ‘Hot Ladies of Rock.’ The uncredited model used for the cover was most probably a randomly chosen secretary working at Pickwick Records, dolled up on a moving bus while rushing to a hasty photo shoot with the promise of extra £5 in her pay, immortalized like some second-rate Toyah clone forevermore. Fantastic.

Track Listing

  • Hazel O’Connor- D Days
  • Pat Benatar- Heartbreaker
  • Toyah- I Want To Be Free
  • Crush- Paying The Price Of Love
  • Rachel Sweet- B-A-B-Y
  • Runaways- Queens Of Noise
  • Blondie- (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear
  • Blondie- Hanging On The Telephone
  • Suzi Quatro- Rock Hard
  • Pat Benatar- I Need A Lover
  • Hazel O’Connor- Waiting
  • Runaways- American Nights
  • Toyah- War Boys
  • The Belle Stars- Iko Iko

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Echo and the Bunnymen: Seven Seas / Silver

echo_sevenseasFormat: 12″
Label: WEA/Sire/Korova
Country: US
Year: 1984
Price paid: $5
Purchased at: CNY Regional Market, Syracuse NY

 

 

“You’ll strike the matches and shower me in water games, washing the rocks below…”

‘Seven Seas’ was the third single released off the band’s fourth album, 1984’s ‘Ocean Rain.’ It reached #16 in the UK (their fourth highest charting single there, and #10 in Ireland.

Not too much to talk about regarding the sleeve design on this one. Being a promotional piece visual aesthetics weren’t top on the list when releasing this. In most cases a record label would simply use the existing sleeve art and emboss it with a gold promo label. Perhaps the cover art for the proper release hadn’t been finalized or the domestic (aka UK) art was deemed inappropriate for US consumers; whatever the reason, the result is this stark nondescript artifact. All that being said, I rather like it. Mysterious and slightly intimidating, much is said with a simple font choice and text placement.

Men Without Hats: I Got The Message / Utter Space

menwithouthats_message

Format: 7″
Label: Statik (STAT 20)
Country: UK
Year: 1982
Price paid: $4
Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

“It’s long and hard, this road to Mars.”

For my money Men Without Hats was the greatest New Wave band to come out of Canada, with Martha and the Muffins a close second and Trans-X not far behind. Truth be told, when compared to the musical juggernauts in the US and England churning out vast piles of tunes during this period, the Great White North doesn’t immediately comes across as a locus of international chart-topping acts…

‘I Got the Message’ was a single released from Men Without Hats’ first album ‘Rhythm of Youth.’ First released in 1982 (this version), With the success of their runaway hit ‘Safety Dance’ in 1983 it was re-released both as a ‘special edit’ (TAK 20) with alternative artwork and as a shaped picture disc. The single eked in #99 on the UK charts in late ’83 and #53 on the US Dance chart.

I love this cover. With its searing electric pink and caustic yellow palette it positively screams eighties like a three ton electric python full of pop rocks.

 menwithouthats_message2

 

 

 

 

Adam and the Ants: Prince Charming / Christian d’Or

 

adamant_prince charming
Format: 7″ (gatefold)
Label: CBS (A1408)
Country: UK
Year: 1981
Price paid: $6
Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

“Ridicule is nothing to be scared of…”

‘Prince Charming’ is the second single off the 1981 album of the same name. It was Adam & the Ants second UK #1 hit (the first being ‘Stand and Deliver’); Adam would have one last UK #1 upon going solo with 1982’s ‘Goody Two Shoes.’ The single failed to chart in the US, but reached #4 in Australia and #8 in the Netherlands.

Due to similarities to Rolf Harris’ 1965 ‘War Canoe’ and an out court settlement was reached, with a not inconsiderable amount of royalties going to Harris for infringement.

The sleeve is a classy affair, with a rather subdued pallet in browns, reds, and gold. The single was also released in non-gatefold form (yawn); the B-side is spelled ‘ CHRISTIAN DIOR’ or ‘CHRISTIAN D’OR’ depending on release. The change could be due (once again) to possible copyright infringement. Oh those naughty music pirates!

Spice World, 10th Anniversary Edition

spice world dvd

Format: DVD
Label: Columbia Pictures
Country: US
Year: 2007
Price paid: $2
Purchased at: thrift store, Syracuse NY

 

 

“Okay, girls, that was absolutely perfect without really being any good at all…”

If you came to this blog entry looking for a review of ‘Spice World’ the movie, let me save you a little time. The film is not very good. Now that that’s out of the way…

 

Does that make you horny, baby?

Does that make you horny, baby?

I must confess that I saw ‘Spice World’ in theaters back in the day. I’ve never been much for the group’s generic- but not altogether unpleasant- brand of music, but going into the theater I was hoping for at the very least a fun musical odyssey brimming with enough kitsch to be a cult classic. The trailer would have one believe just that:

Looks pretty sweet, no? Don’t be fooled.

On the plus side, the film’s certainly not wanting for star cameos. Elton John, Roger Moore, Bob Hoskins, Jennifer Saunders, Meat Loaf, Barry Humphries (aka- Dame Edna), Jools Holland, and Stephen Fry make appearances and- with the exception of Roger Moore- actually seem to be honored to take part. Gary Glitter shot a four minute segment for the film, but after his arrest on child pornography charges his scenes were deleted from the final cut.

The film’s visuals are appropriately saturated and candy-like, borrowing heavily from ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’, released earlier that same year. Their double-decker tour bus painted up like a bloated Union Jack is impressive. Baby Spice’s shoes- often as large as a double-decker tour bus- are equally impressive. The girls look great in their late-90’s shimmering DayGlo wardrobes.

spice world dvd 4

Ginger Spice performs

Being basically a musical it probably won’t be a shocker that the film has a fair number of music video-esque moments. The group’s second studio album ‘Spiceworld’ was released in conjunction with the film, and acts as the movie’s unofficial soundtrack. Or the film acts as the album’s 90 minute commercial. Either way, it’s not a completely unpleasant experience to watch five comely lasses prance merrily about. I found the cover of Garry Glitter’s ‘Leader of the Pack’ especially amusing. When the singing stops the movie grinds to a halt, however…

The film ultimately fails four two reasons.

The first, and I suppose the most forgivable, are the Spice Girls themselves. They may be able to sing, dance, and mug suggestively during photo ops… but actresses they are not. Baby and Ginger are passable, but the best Posh can do is carry a lingering pout. Sporty and Scary have such thick accents (to my ears anyway) that the energy expended in understanding them is barely worth the effort. Sporty’s delivery is especially bad; the girl sounds like she’s got a disturbing aggregate of marbles in her mouth.

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Another unfunny scene. Boot Camp- could have used less camp and more boots…

The second reason the film fails is direction… as in there doesn’t appear to be any. Couple that with what appears to be minimal editing at best and what we’re given is a series of vignettes that have little to do with one another, strung together with lip-synched performances. In one scene there’s a British character actor vehemently clamoring for the downfall of the Spice Girls, in another the Spice Girls run through the woods looking for a place to pee and run into ET-knockoff aliens, in another we’re subjected to a lame musical number on a speedboat. I’m sure this all seemed like a brilliant madcap adventure on paper, but the execution of these scenes is muddled at best. These disjointed narrative chunks could be rearranged in almost any order and it would make little difference to the plot.

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“Baseball, cold showers, baseball, cold showers… Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day! Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day!”

Perhaps I’m just of the wrong age and sexual demographic to properly appreciate what transpires. Putting myself in the shoes of a late-90s thirteen year old girl for a moment does not alter my opinion considerably however. If I were she I’d certainly want less prattle and dreary first-take performances from old fart actors I’d never heard of like that fat dude from Roger Rabbit and some creepy guy in a bathrobe holding a piglet for half the film. I’d want more Spice Girls singing songs and talking about shoes and boys.

Such was the (girl) power of the Spice Girls in the late nineties that all this mattered little. It raked in 77 million at the box office, over 100 million including video sales (roughly 147.5 million in 2014 dollars.) To put this in perspective compare that to other rock films such as ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964) which only made 12 million on initial release (91 million, adjusted) or Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ (1982) which made 22 million (55.5 million in adjusted dollars.) Even the contemporary film rock opus ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’ (2011) made a measly 99 million in theaters.

This DVD is the special 10th anniversary edition. What this means in terms of bonus features I’m not sure. I believe the cut of the film is the standard version. It’s not letterboxed. The only bonus content is the theatrical trailer and a music video segment that was cut from the film with good reason.

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The author with the band, sans Ginger c. 2000

The Go-Go’s: This Old Feeling / It’s Everything But Party Time

gogos_this old feelingFormat: 7″
Label: IRS Records
Country: US
Year: 1982
Price paid: $2
Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

 

Talk about decorating, a room that needs sophisticating

When conversations become straining, no one’s good at interest feigning…

gogos_this old feeling2The Go-Go’s were a pretty big deal back in the day. One the best selling and hit-making female bands of all time, they chiseled away at the sausage factory that was pop music and opened the doors for many female artists to follow.

Their record label IRS knew this, or a the very least could smell the money to be made from a bunch of skirts holding guitars, and exploited their resource for all it was worth. In their zeal to release Go-Go’s product questionable choices like this single came about…

Both tracks hail from the band’s sophomore effort, 1982’s US certified gold album ‘Vacation.’ The LP spawned three hit singles- the title track, which reached #8 on the US Hot 100, ‘Get Up And Go’ which reached #46 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, and ‘ He’s So Strange’ which also reached #46 on the same chart.

‘This Old Feeling’ is decidedly a second-tier offering, coming off as a 7″ hoping to ride the coattails of the ‘Theme of Summer ’82’… and as such it’s one of the rare Go-Go’s singles that DIDN’T actually chart. It’s notable that sax is provided by Steve Berlin, a member Los Lobos and the Blasters; as a session musician he’s worked with such varied acts as The Dandy Warhols, Sheryl Crow, and The Tragically Hip.

The generic yellow Go-Go’s sleeve is believed to first used on this single, but also sheathed the ‘Yes Or No’ 7″ (both versions) released in 1984,

The Dishes: Hot Property! EP

dishes1Format: 7″
Label: Regular Records
Country: Canada
Year: 1978
Price paid: $4
Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

Canadian band The Dishes formed in Toronto in 1975 and were an early example of the Queen West scene, a ‘movement that would spawn arguably Canada’s best New Wave act Martha and the Muffins.

dishes3The band released two 7″ EPs- ‘Fashion Plates’ in 1977 and this EP in 1978. They disbanded shortly thereafter, but a retrospective CD ‘Kitschenette: The Best of the Dishes’ (Bullseye Records) was released in 2002. Perhaps their brightest moment was opening for Talking Heads in a small local club circa 1978.

Little is known of the ‘Regular Records’ label. It is believed that the two Dishes 7″ were the only product they ever released.

Sleeve design was done by the Canadian artist collective General Idea (Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson), a group active from the late sixties to the mid-nineties.

dishes2