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.

Blondie: Heroes 12″


Format: 12″

Label: Chrysalis

Country: West Germany

Year: 1982

Price paid: $9.50

Purchased at: Angry Mom Records, Ithaca NY


Though nothing will keep us together

We could steal time just for one day…

‘Heroes’ is a cover of the (now) popular Bowie song, recorded live on 12 January 1980 at The Hammersmith Odeon in London.

Strangely or maybe not, as it’s a live track of merely passable audio quality it was only released in Germany- as this special official ‘Super Sound Single.’ The B-side includes the French version of ‘Sunday Girl’ (the original English version is from the 1978 album ‘Parallel Lines’, this version originally appeared on the 1979 UK 12″ single) and ‘In The Flesh’ (from their 1976 self-titled debut LP.)

Robert Fripp plays guitar on ‘Heroes’; the single was co-written by David Bowie and Brian Eno, so one assumes there must be an Eno/Fripp connection at some level. Since Eno and Fripp released four collaborative studio albums between 1973 and 2007 and all.

The sleeve art is typical of the period for a mainland Europe release. That is, an undersized photo on a plain field with some text around it. The saving grace is that the image of Debbie Harry chosen is pleasant on the eyes. Bonus points for the Andy Warhol shirt.


Devo: Fresh / What We Do


Format: 12″

Label: Warner Brothers

Country: US

Year: 2010

Price paid: $15

Purchased at: Angry Mom Records, Ithaca NY


So fresh it almost makes me want to cry

So fresh it’s givin’ me a second life

A Record Store Day exclusive, the blue vinyl twelve inch was released in advance of the 2010 album ‘Something for Everybody.’ Despite generous press coverage and appearances at such varied venues as the 2010 Winter Olympics and ‘Live! with Regis and Kelly’ the album only managed to squeak in at #30 on the US Billboard 200 (#164 on the UK Albums chart) and ‘Fresh’ failing to chart at all… but Devo’s brilliance can’t really be conveyed chart placings or how many records sold.

If not as immediate and crucial as their early 80s work, ‘Fresh’ is at least on par with their ‘Shout’-era output (1984) and certainly surpassing anything that appears on the lackluster ‘Smooth Noodle Maps’ (1990.) Witty, sarcastic, and consciously disposable. The B-side ‘What We Do’ is arguably the stronger track of the two; the video is an impressively efficient spoof of the band’s most iconic motifs…

Speaking of iconic motifs, the sleeve art is a slick minimalist treat, literally upending the energy dome and reducing it to a vessel for phallic fruit, a delightful bastardization of the band’s most recognizable counterculture emblems. Well played.

Oh, did I mention it’s on blue vinyl?



Adam Ant: Vive Le Rock, Re Mixed!


Format: 12″

Label: Epic

Country: US

Year: 1985

Price paid: $2.50

Purchased at: Angry Mom Records, Ithaca NY


You’re scratching records but you won’t be scratching mine

Don’t give me chish-chash in rinky-dink time!

‘Vive Le Rock’ is the second single from Adam’s third solo album, ummm, ‘Vive Le Rock.’ It was his second-lowest charting single in the UK, coming in at #50. It fair better on the US Dance Charts where it rose to #29.

The single and album launched Adam’s new ‘Rockers in Space’ persona/philosophy, moving away stylistically from his early eighties pirate motif. This change in direction wasn’t popular with fans nor the public at the time, but I must admit I rather like it. In the greater scheme of British New Wave things it works well as a bridge between the first half of the decade and the development of the futurist/sci-fi aesthetic taken on by artists such as Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Westworld, and Transvision Vamp.

The sleeve art as well hints at the direction British album design would be heading in as the decade progressed. Slick production values, modern ‘contemporary’ fonts, and playful dynamic composition. This 12″ contains the ‘Remix’ and ‘Instrumental Dub’ mixes of the single. The art is similar to the 7″ version (UK, US, etc.) with the most notable difference being that Adam’s face is blue instead of pink.


Nina Hagen: Universal Radio

ninahagen_universalradioFormat: 12″

Label: Columbia

Country: US

Year: 1985

Price paid: $2.50

Purchased at: Angry Mom Records, Ithaca NY


Hey brothers and sisters from the universe we’re drowning in a pot

Universal Radio Radio release your soul from mental pollution and mental activity

Of all the Nina Hagen songs I’d have to say this one’s my favorite. In part because it was my first, heard on what passed for college radio way back in 1985. For a kid used to nothing more exotic and Joan Jett and The Go-Go’s it totally blew my mind. Well, if not that, then I certainly found it strange indeed.

I also find it one of the most listenable of her songs. More structured than what came before, more immediate and ‘vital’ than what would come later. Nina and her most Hagenish. As a bonus it’s got a beat and you can dance to it.

‘Universal Radio’ was the first single from her fifth album (fourth if you’re only counting solo work independent of the ‘Nina Hagen Band’) ‘In Ekstasy.’ Amazingly it rose to #39 on the US dance charts. More amazing still this was her THIRD top-fifty entry on the US charts, but sadly her last (to date.)

This 12″ includes the ‘Universal Dance Mix’, album, and dub versions.

The sleeve art is as bold and bright as the woman herself, a potent target design that in its simplicity lets the bizarre visage of Nina speak for itself.


Toyah: Rebel Run / To The Mountains High / Baptised in Fire

toyah_rebelrunFormat: 12″

Label: Safari (SAFE LS56)

Country: UK

Year: 1983

Price paid: $1

Purchased at: CNY Regional Market, Syracuse NY


Praying to the silent man

A new day dawns

‘Rebel Run’ was the first single released from Toyah’s fifth studio album, 1983’s ‘Love is the Law.’ It reached #24 on the UK charts but failed to register elsewhere. It is her seventh highest-charting single to date.

I give Toyah props for having the creativity to constantly reinvent herself. This post-apocalyptic skater look wasn’t one of her more memorable guises, however. The term ‘only in the eighties’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but seriously, only in the eighties could someone get away with such non-ironic post-punk neon kitsch without their head exploding in a cloud of bloody camp confetti-

The sleeve art is nearly identical to the 7″ version, with the inclusion of info on the 12″ bonus track ‘Baptised in Fire.’ The imagery is of Toyah wearing the outfit that appears in the video for the single. Simple, understated, Toyah.

Trio: Anna Letmein Letmeout / Kummer Live Im Fruhjahr 82


Format: 12″

Label: Mercury

Country: UK (made in West Germany)

Year: 1982

Price paid: $3

Purchased at: Books and Melodies, Syracuse NY


Laß mich rein laß mich rauß.

The German group Trio are probably best known today for their smash hit and cult classic ‘Da Da Da, Ich Lieb Dich Nicht, Du Liebst Mich Nicht, Aha Aha Aha” (aka ‘Da Da Da’.) They released four studio albums between 1981 and 1985 and no fewer than ten singles.

‘Anna Letmein Letmeout’- aka ‘Anna (Let Me In, Let Me Out)’- was their third single released, immediately following ‘Da Da Da.’ It failed to have an impact in the US or UK, but undoubtedly charted handsomely in their homeland (citation needed.) Stylistically and lyrically it’s very similar to ‘Da Da Da’ with its simple deadpan tongue-in-cheek delivery.

The sleeve is rather unattractive, to my sensibilities anyway. It’s a scaled-up version of the 7″ art (or the 7″ art is a scaled-down version of this 12″); I don’t own the 7″ so I can’t tell you which size works better aesthetically. The grainy (probably copyright free) image is a dull grey field graffitied up with greenish felt tip marker scribbles. Whatever potency/serenity the original design might have had is marred by a large yellow circle (not sticker) proclaiming that this is a ‘MAXI LONG VERSION 45.’ The original 7″ version runs about 2:40 while this extended mix stretches out an expansive 4:45, prolonging your enjoyment of this slow plodding tune considerably…



Tom Tom Club: Pleasure of Love


Format: 12″

Label: Sire

Country: US

Year: 1983

Price paid: $3

Purchased at: Books and Melodies, Syracuse NY


I tell you he was a masterpiece

“How are you?”, says I

“Just cool.”, says he

It’s fairly common knowledge that The Tom Tom Club were started as a side project by Talking Heads’ members Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. Details on the band’s history and accomplishments will undoubtedly be covered in greater detail in future blog posts; suffice it to say that the band’s longevity has outlasted the Heads, their most recent album  ‘Downtown Rockers’ was released in 2012.

Admittedly their greatest period of activity and chart success was in the early 80s with a string of strong singles including ‘The Pleasure of Love’, ‘Wordy Rappinghood’, and this single. ‘Pleasure of Love’ was the second (and last) single from their 1983 album ‘Close to the Bone.’ It reached #23 on the US Dance charts, but sadly found little success abroad.

The sleeve art is a nervous rainbow riot of urban life which rhythmically compliments the tone of the song. It was designed by Brooklyn artist James Rizzi, who would help define the early 80s visual tone of the band through several sleeve designs and video animation for ‘Genius of Love’ and this single. Rizzi’s work is know for its dense style littered with anthropomorphic subjects, not totally dissimilar to NYC artist Kenny Scharf.



Blondie: Atomic / Die Young Stay Pretty / Heroes


Format: 12″

Label: Chrysalis

Country: UK

Year: 1980

Price paid: $6

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, rochester NY


‘Atomic’ was the fourth single released off of the band’s fourth studio album, 1980’s ‘Eat to the Beat.’ It only reached #39 on the US charts, but went all the way to #1 (and gold) in the UK.

The bonus B-side track ‘Heroes’ was recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon in January 12th, 1980. Robert Fripp provides guitar on this track.

The sleeve art is simply stunning; it’s objects like this that make collecting such a joy. Simple and bold, Debbie Harry’s visage could easily steal away the attention from even the largest radiation-infused mushroom cloud. And it does.

This is the UK 12″; it’s unclear whether a US picture sleeve 12″ was ever made. 12″ Basically the same front sleeve art was used here as on the US, UK, and French 7″ versions… only much bigger and impressive. The back sleeve art differs greatly from the US 7″, but is very similar to the UK and French art.




The Fall: Hey! Luciani / Entitled / Shoulder Pads #1B


Format: 12″

Label: Beggars Banquet (BEG 176T)

Country: UK

Year: 1986

Price paid: $8

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY


They made out you were are an ultra nut

And had no time for your Christianity

You paid with your life for their treachery

I’ve only known of the Fall in the abstract- a mere name that came up now and again- until recently. Brix Smith, Adult Net, and the Beggars Banquet pedigree finally caught up with me and I gave them a listen.

I liked what I heard. To my still mostly ignorant and unrefined ear Mark E. Smith’s voice is a gravely rambling mess… but that’s part of the allure. From what I’ve discerned so far the typical Fall song is a chugging free-form behemoth that meanders from point A to point B with the force of a bile-filled wheel-less street car. That’s a compliment BTW. I find their stuff delightfully experimental in the best Robert Fripp sense of the word.



Highly influential but all of unheard of in the US, the Fall have a long rich history with more than a few modest hits that fall just south of the top 50. ‘Hey! Luciani’ reached #59 on the UK charts in 1986. The song’s theme is that of the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, who died after only 33 days in office; bubblegum pop this is not.

The sleeve art is horrid- no two ways about it. It fails completely to capture the spirit of the song or the tone of the band; eye-candy this is not. I could find little information on the painter Suzanne Smith, other than she is responsible for the artwork on several Fall releases of the period.