Berlin: Sex (I’m a) / The Metro

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Format: 12″

Label: Mercury

Country: Netherlands

Year: 1982

Price paid: $5

Location purchased: Exchange, Kent OH

 

“I’m a man, I’m a teaser I’m a man, well I’m a virgin I’m a man, I’m a one night stand I’m a man, I’m a drug I’m a man, well I’m your slave I’m a man, I’m a dream divine, and we make love together…”

Probably best known for their hits ‘The Metro’ (which is given second billing on this single) and ‘Take My Breath Away’ (from the Top Gun soundtrack) Berlin are one of the west coast/LA ‘biggies’, ranking up there with the Missing Persons and their ilk in my book. They claim inspiration from Devo and Kraftwerk; although sufficiently ‘synthy’, they fall more into the ‘radio-friendly’ than the conceptual camp. That’s not an insult.

Sex (I’m a) is a naughty, naughty song. Especially for 1982. I’m torn as to whether it’s a brilliant period piece or merely an annoying repetitive tone-deaf jingle. Not surprisingly it was banned from some US radio stations. Despite this it rose to #62 on the US charts and an impressive #18 in New Zealand.

The video itself is a classic. Cheesy, sleazy, and low budget in a way only an early 80s video can be. I seem to recall seeing it once or twice on MTV, but I don’t remember the (animated) nudity so I could be mistaken.

The sleeve art is unremarkable. With it’s poor color/font choices and undersized photo placed dead-center it smacks of a hastily and unsympathetically produced single intended for European consumption… which is exactly what it is!

*Fun Fact- Terri Nunn was an aspiring actress, even auditioning for the role of Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars.’ I like to think that in one of the infinite parallel worlds that make up our multiverse she actually got the part.

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Berlin: 2014 stickers and badges

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Format: various

Country: US

Year: 2014

Price paid: $8.50 (including ship.)

Purchased at: Official Berlin featuring Terri Nunn website

 

If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now: I love autographs. Whether personalized with a thoughtful sentiment or merely pithily hen-scratched, there’s something about that tenuous connection with a celebrity that comes about from getting/owning their (oft unintelligible) scribbles that infuses the object with deep meaning. In the case of the New Wave genre few signatures carry high monetary value, but to me they’re priceless artifacts.

terri4In most cases I get my autographs second-hand from dealers, eBay, other collectors. Sadly authenticity is always an issue. The FBI has stated that 70% of sports autographs are fakes. I’m not sure what the numbers are in the world of music, but undoubtedly forgeries are passed off as the real deal every day, especially with personalities like Elvis and dead Beatles, where big bucks are to be made. Even the signature of a ‘minor’ artist, with their relative obscurity, doesn’t make authenticity certain. It takes careful research, such as comparing examples to known or independent specimens, and trust in your source to be confident that what you have is genuine. But I digress…

Happily provenance is not an issue here, as I received them directly from the source…

I’ve been a fan of Terri/Berlin for years, so I really perked up when I came across an autographed item on eBay. A lot of them actually. Personally signed, if requested at checkout. Many artists ask that you give your name when signing autographs (she did)- this practice is to discourage flippers I imagine; signed items typically don’t (re)sell for as much if they have someone’s name on them.

terri5I’m fine with that, but didn’t want my personal request to get lost and just end up with a few awesome but autograph-less stickers, so I went right to ground zero, that is, the official website. Prices were the same but I felt more confident that the note would get through. I thought I’d be cute and ask for ‘<3’ and wow, she did it for me. It’s the little things that make a fan’s day.

 

I’m not sure why she’s selling her signature so cheap, basically free with anything you buy. I routinely see autographs of artists of a similar ilk/status (no respect meant!) go in the $25-30 range so IMO she should sign less and charge more per. That being said- and being a cheap bastard- I went for the ‘deluxe’ Combo Pack to maximize my signature-bang, getting 2 autographs and three buttons for under ten bucks.

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Bananarama: The Greatest Hits Collection (LaserDisc)

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Format: LaserDisc
Label: Polygram Music Video
Country: US
Year: 1988
Price paid: $10 (including ship.)
Purchased at: eBay

 

It seems like everyone is back into collecting vinyl these days, it’s hot and rising prices reflect its new-found trendy status. But what about the lowly crap that nobody cares about? Especially that stuff that’s unique to the format? Say you’re a Bowie fan. If you’re a collector you may have all his albums on vinyl, and if a competist you might go for all the singles, magazines he’s on the cover of, etc. But would you think to track down his LaserDiscs?

Sure, they’re pretty much useless. But they’re nice looking objects, large (the same size as a 12” vinyl), and have artwork unique to the format. Many were released in Japan too, as the format really took off there… and is still big with videophiles. Very few people bought them in the US compared to VHS, but man, the companies sure did try… and marketed the hell out of them. Consumers that did invest in the format have either thrown them in the trash or dropped them off at the Goodwill long ago. Only a matter of time until the relative rarity of the format begins to turn the heads of the music accumulator…

One of the rare acts to not only survive the great mid-80’s New Wave die-off, but thrive as a slick pop vocal act. Under the wing of their masters Stock Aitken Waterman they tore up the late 80’s charts around the world. The ‘Greatest Hits‘ collection alone went gold in the US and Canada, triple platinum in the UK. This was due in no small part I’d wager due to their videos, which got heavy rotation on the video stations at the time.

Not too surprising then that collections of their videos would be made available for purchase. The straight-up audio ‘Greatest Hits’ has many track variations depending on format and location released; I was unable to research track variations in the video releases, but I’m sure those exist as well. This US Laser Disc contains the following tracks, with a total running time of 38:48:

  • Multimix consisting of ‘Cruel Summer’, ‘Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)’, ‘Shy Boy’, ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting’, and ‘Really Saying Something’
  • Venus
  • More Than Physical
  • I Heard a Rumour
  • Love in the First Degree
  • Mr. Sleaze
  • I Can’t Help It
  • I Want You Back
  • Love, Truth, and Honesty

The sleeve design is uninspired to say the least. I know they wanted it to differ from the standard vinyl issue to avoid confusion, as both are roughly the same size, but they didn’t even try.

Joan Jett tour 18 wheel semi-hauler

jetttruck

Format: Toy
Company: Hot Wheels, ‘Concert Billboard’ series
Country: US
Year: 2011
Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.5 x 3.9 inches
Price paid: $15.99
Purchased at: Forbidden Planet, NYC

 

“New York City when it’s late at night
I’m on West Side Highway heading
Up to the G.W. Bridge down by the power lines
I see all the neon and it’s cold at night
I got my radio on”

A wise man once said that “Diversity is the spice of a collection.”

Actually I just made that up, but it stands to reason. I’m always on the hunt for that oddball stuff to brighten my musical assemblage, so when I spied this on the discount rack of a midtown Manhattan comic book store I knew I just had to have it…

This truck is part of a series of ‘concert billboard’ vehicles. Others in the series include AC/DC, The Who, and Kiss. It measures in at an impressive 16″ long and, ripped from the Amazon description:

  • Celebrating the biggest stars of classic rock
  • Billboard-like images with great detailing
  • Cab is detailed with the bands iconic logo
  • Die-cast metal cab is a great addition to any collection
  • A must have for the classic rock collector
  • Recommended Ages: 8-13+ years
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Rockin’!!!!!

For what it’s worth Amazon also recommends that, based on my interest in this product, I may want to check out yellow hard hats and a Disney ‘Cars’ three-piece upholstered sectional set. Buyers rate this product a solid 5-stars too!

Who these appeal to other than the niche fanbase of their respective fans and the Hot Wheels enthusiasts I’m not sure. Maybe that demographic is robust to bolster sales into the stratosphere… but I’m guessing not.

Odds are I’ll never take this out of its box, as the packaging is 80% of the charm.

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Vampires From Outer Space

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Format: LP

Label: Bomp Records

Country: US

Year: 1979

Price paid: $8

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

“There is a very fine line between lawsuit and orgasm.” – Kim Fowley

Kim Fowley is sort of like California’s version of Malcolm McLaren. That analogy is a tad insulting to both Fowley and McLaren, but both were influential impresarios that shaped their respective worlds.

vampires3In the 60s Fowley had success as a producer, working with many bands and (with Gary Paxton) recorded the #1 novelty hit ‘Alley Oop.’ In the 70s he hatched a scheme to form an all-girl group as a vehicle for his songs- The Runaways were born.

This 1979 LP showcases some of his ‘discoveries’ of the period. None of the tracks/artists included met with chart success, and although not particularly rare today, the album is a history-rich nugget of west coast proto-New Wave.

  1. Randy Winburn – Somebody Else’s Girl
  2. Tommy Rock – Dream Rocker
  3. Laurie Bell – If You’re Gonna Change Your Heart
  4. Lonely Boys – Phantom Poster Man
  5. Kim Fowley – Letter From Hollywood
  6. Baby Roulette & The Rave Ons – Black Orchids
  7. Tommy Rock – High School
  8. Surprise – Maybe I’m Wrong, Maybe I’m Right
  9. Randy Winburn – Sunshine U.S.A.
  10. Venus & The Razorblades – Outside World
  11. Lonely Boys – Ugly Girl
  12. Dog Rangers– Nobody Seems To Know What Love Is

Randy Winburn – Vocalist from the 60’s psychedelic group ‘Nova Local.’

Tommy Rock – There’s scant info on this artist, other than he’s supposedly (unconfirmed) written for Bowie and Leon Russell. He released the single ‘Is It Love’ on the UK Spark label in 1978 followed by ‘Dancing the Night Away’ on Bomp in ’79.

vampires5Laurie Bell – Joined the Fowley-managed all-girl group The Orchids in 1980 as their drummer. She supposedly dated Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe at one point.

Lonely Boys – Rather obscure Australian group that only appeared on a few Fowley-produced compilations. Band members had awesome names like Charlie Lunch, Icepick Slim, Jarryl Wirth, Miki Murder, and Will E. Wisp.

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Baby Roulette & The Rave On featuring Laurie McAllister formerly of the Runaways – Laurie McAllister was briefly in The Runaways, performing with them live shortly before their breakup. She joined The Orchids as their vocalist in 1980, dying of asthma related causes on September 2nd, 2011. Baby Roulette were most probably a non-band made up of one or several Fowley artsists. McAllister sang lead vocals and played bass on this track, which was- as far as I know- their only song committed to vinyl.

Surprise – Little is known of this band, other than the track that appears on this compilation was written by Fowley and Bart Bishop (of the 70’s group ‘Providence, and brother of Randy Bishop from the band ‘Wacker’.) Bart supplies vocals on this track as well.

Venus & The Razorblades – Arguably the biggest and most well established group on this compilation, VATRB were a mostly-female post-Runaways Fowley concoction. The band’s best known track is the novelty song ‘Punk-A-Rama.’ Vocalist and writer Roni Lee also worked with equally obscure band Mars Bonfire, an early version of Steppenwolf. Guitarist Dyan Diamond was groomed by Fowley, but despite a record deal and the release of 1978’s ‘In the Dark’, she failed to find lasting success.

Dog Rangers – Little is known of the Dog Rangers, a studio band most likely. ‘Nobody Seems to Know What Love Is’ is credited to Tommy Rock and [Gary] Pickus. Gary is the inventor of the algorithm for the mobile app, “WOOGEY,” which transforms first names into customized ringtones. He’s also somewhat of a (self proclaimed?) big deal on the national dueling piano circuit since the turn of the century.

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I love the sleeve art on this one. Sleazy and cheesy in a 1960’s schlock Ed Wood sort of way, it lets the consumer know that the music isn’t to be taken ‘too’ seriously. Whether ahead of it’s time or just by chance, the juxtaposition of neon pink and black would become a staple of the New Wave palette- here used to shocking effect. Despite being labelled as ‘volume one’ this is the only disc in the series.

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i-D magazine #15, March/April 1984

id_march84

Format: Magazine

Country: UK

Year: 1984

Price paid: $1

Purchased at: The Record Archive, Rochester NY

 

The link between fashion and popular music is not a tenuous one. Hell, whole books have been written on the subject. Arguably one one of the high points- a ‘nexus’ if you will- would have had to have been in London during the first New Wave period (1977-1985.)

id_march84aI have not the time nor skill to unweave the complex interactions between the two, but I will say that magazines such as i-D and The Face were barometers of cool back in the day, and valuable glimpses of times past today.

id_march84cStarted as a mere fanzine in 1980, i-D magazine was almost instantly recognized for its cutting edge use of photography and topography. Editor Terry Jones is credited with codifying the ‘straight up’ style of fashion photography; i-D staff would stop trendy people on the street and take head-to-toe shots of what they were wearing.

By 1984 the magazine was still shaking on its baby legs, as they had only made it to issue #15. The size of the magazine had changed several times during the years, by this point it had grown to a larger 8 1/2 X 11 3/4″ format. The edgy claustrophobic design of early issues remain however, with text crammed in every corner, to the extent that it begins to overlap and fall back on itself.

The cover is done in acidic blues, pinks, and oranges. Florescent ink was used; sadly these colors don’t scan very well and cannot be replicated onscreen so you’ll have to use your imagination when viewing the images in this post. But trust me, they positively scream. The cover model was an all-but-unknown musical artist known as Madonna. This was supposedly her first UK magazine cover; rather handsome values today reflect the desirability of this key issue.

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The Creatures: Miss the Girl / Hot Springs in the Snow

creatures_missthegirl

Format: 7″

Label: Polydor (SHE1)

Country: UK

Year: 1983

Price paid: $3.86 (incl. shipping)

Purchased at: eBay

 

Seduced reflection in the chrome, there’s petrol stains outside your home…

Following their ‘Wild Things‘ EP, this is the second single released by the SATB’s Siouxsie and Budgie side project, the first and only from their debut LP ‘Feast.’ It reached #21 on the UK singles chart and was followed soon after by ‘Right Now.’

Thematically the song is about revenge against a lover. Whether that retribution is a violent act evoking shades of The Normal’s ‘Warm Leatherette‘ or merely allegorical is unclear… suffice it to say he didn’t miss the girl.

Yet another slick and sensual sleeve design from the Siouxsie camp, it’s sexy packaging like this that makes collecting 7″ vinyl such a joy. Designed by Rob O’Connor.

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