Jill Kroesen: I Really Want To Bomb You / Jesus Song

Jill Kroesen

Format: 7″

Label: Infidelity

Country: US

Year: 1980

Price paid: $5

Purchased at: Angry Mom Records, Ithaca NY

“You’ve been fearing the moment so much you didn’t hear the warning ring.”

Jill Kroesen bThe Jill Kroesen story is a complicated and convoluted affair. Suffice it to say she was a late 70s NYC performance artist and composer of some note. This single, along with her 1982 LP ‘Stop Vicious Cycles’, appear to be her only ventures into what could loosely be deemed ‘pop.’

I’d love to know more about how this single came about. There’s got to be a story here. The music is a rambling disjointed thing, while the vocals are ‘less than polished.’ Or to put it bluntly- they kind of suck. No level of conceptual veneer can disguise what’s probably best left unheard.

But, as is the case with many of these nearly-lost gems, the parts are far greater than the whole:

Fred Smith provides bass. He was the original bassist for Blondie and replaced Richard Hell in Television when Hell left to form The Heartbreakers.

Arthur Russell provides cello. He has worked with David Byrne and wrote/produced the first disco single released by Sire Records. He died of AIDS in 1992.

Tony Machine provides drums. He’s got a long rap sheet including working with such acts as The Criminals and David Johansen.

Engineer Jay Burnett is a prolific artist probably best known for his behind-the-scenes remix work for artists such as Kim Wilde, Oingo Boingo, Colourfield, Katrina and the Waves, and Rick Springfield.

The sleeve art was designed by Jill herself. I’m really fond of its crude but honest look. Low budget and ill-conceived, it nonetheless evokes the spirit of the times. Very DIY, very NYC.

Jill Kroesen a

Bette Bright and the Illuminations: Hello, I Am Your Heart / All Girls Lie

bettebright_helloFormat: 7″

Label: Korova (KOW 3)

Country: UK

Year: 1980

Price paid: $3.86 (incl. ship)

Purchased at: eBay

 

“Well hello… I am your heart!”

Released in February of 1980, this was Bette’s third solo single, preceded by ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ (1978), and ‘Captain of Your Ship‘ (1979.) It was her highest charting single, reaching #50 in the UK in March of 1980. In 1981 the single would appear on Bette’s Korova LP ‘Rhythm Breaks the Ice.’

I’ve had a copy of this single in my collection for some 25 years now and embarrassed to say I never caught on that it had a wrap-around cover. I only discovered this when scanning the front and back for today’s entry. So enjoy my reunion of the front and back displaying the image as it was meant to be seen.

bettebright_hello3

I’m a little torn on the sleeve design. On the positive side its rich deep purple hues are very eye-catching and most have really stuck out on record store shelves back in the day. But the overall layout is rather weak, the front image unengaging, and the wording- although clever- rather hard to read. British photographer Colin Thomas provided the images for the single. Former roadie for ‘Kilburn and the High Roads’, Thomas is still active today as a book/publication photographer and portraitist; having shot celebs such as Ian Dury and more recently Graham Norton.

bettebright_hello2

 

 

 

 

 

The Waitresses: I Know What Boys Like / No Guilt

waitresses_IknowUS7

Format: 7″

Label: Antilles/ Ze Records

Country: US

Year: 1980

Price paid: $6

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

I know what boys like

I know what guys want

I know what boys like

I know what’s on their minds…

Some songs are so iconic they need no introduction. If I was pressed to come up with a ‘Top 25’ list of best and/or most representative New Wave songs of the classic era (1978-1985) this tune would certainly be on it…

‘I Know What Boys Like’ was released as a single twice. The first (this issue) was on the Antilles/Ze label, with a re-release in 1982 in both the US and UK. It was their only US hit. Despite it’s popularity and cult status today it only reached a lowly #62 in the US and didn’t chart in the UK at all. The song is a triumphant whining expression of girl power full of sneer and bile. Covered many times by everyone from Vitamin C to Shampoo, only Patty Donahue’s caustic irony-laced delivery could ever do it justice.

The sleeve is effective in its stark red/black/white composition, the tablecloth pattern is no doubt a play on the bands name… but who the boy is and his significance remains a mystery. There’s an 75% chance that it’s one of Patty’s ex-boyfriends and a 25% chance that it’s a young Chris Butler. Possibly a combination of the two?

 

waitresses_IknowUS7a

Buy or Die! 1980 1/2 EP

buyordieFormat: 7″

Label: Ralph Records

Country: US

Year:1980

Price paid: $10

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

Darkness fell upon the garden, as I sadly sat alone

Ralph Records was created fundamentally as a vehicle for the conceptual group The Residents; close to half the label’s output consists of the band’s material. Primarily active during the 70s into the 80s, the label began releasing product in earnest again around 2010 after a near twenty year absence. This recent upswing in production could have been due to the label being sold off around that time… more research is needed.

buyordie3The label’s slogan “Buy or Die!” was used as the title of their mail order catalog and a series of 7″ compilation EPs. I’m not sure how many of these compilations were released; I can confirm a volume for 1980, 1980 1/2 (this one), and 1981. ‘Buy or Die’ numbers 14 and 14 1/2 were released in 1987, but- other than being compilations- have nothing to do with the early 7″s as far as I can tell.

If the overall sound of this EP had to be pigeonholed I’d have to file it under ‘Experimental’ with a hefty dose of ‘Minimalist Synth.’

Track listing:

The Residents: Easter Woman, The End of Home, Amber– The Residents are a self consciously shadowy art collective with accomplishments too numerous to even hint at here. These three quirky little jewels clock in at about one minute each.

Snakefinger: Trashing All The Loves Of History– British singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Snakefinger (aka Philip Charles Lithman) moved to San Fransisco in 1971 and began a working relationship with the Residents that lasted for decades. He died in July, 1987 of a heart attack.

Yello: Rock Stop– Swiss band probably best known for the song ‘Oh Yeah’, which was featured in the film ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ This track is slightly less marketable…

Fred Frith: Come Across– A British multi-instrumentalist (best known as a guitarist) and composer, Frith has worked with many avant-garde groups over the years including The Golden Palominos, Material, and yes, The Residents. He was also a member of the Art Bears, who released some material on Ralph as well. He is the subject of the 1990 documentary ‘Step Across the Border.’

I try not to throw around the word ‘iconic’ too often, but this single’s sleeve certainly lives up to that label. It was illustrated by Gary Panter, an influential artist known for his comic ‘Jimbo’, set design on the 80’s TV show ‘Pee Wee’s Playhouse’ (for which he won three Emmy’s), and (from 1978-1986) married to the manager of the LA punk band The Germs (Nicole Panter.)  With it’s noxious palette and confrontational death imagery it perhaps exudes more of a hardcore vibe than plinky plinky art-rock cool, the sleeve nonetheless is a memorable statement to say the least.

 

buyordie2

‘The Fabulously Late Stiff Dance Club (Not to Mention In-Store) Record Sampler… With Apologies to Radio. What!’ compilation

stiff_latecomp

Format: Compilation LP

Label: Stiff America (I WON)

Country: US

Year: 1980

Price paid: $4.80

Purchased at: The Record Archive, Rochester NY

 

Stiff put out a lot of compilations. In keeping with the label’s wacky style most had a sarcastic bent to them. As the rather lengthy album title implies, and the label states, this is a promotional item and not for sale. That may be true… or it may have been a gimmick, possibly sold POS at a low price point.

Either way, it’s a rather odd assortment of artists, seemingly compiled in a ‘throw-it-at-the-Americans-and-see-what-sticks’ manner.

Ian Dury: Wake Up And Make Love With Me– From his debut 1977 album ‘New Boots and Panties!’ (SEEZ 4). The song was never released as a single and never charted. It was covered by Sinéad O’Connor on the tribute album ‘Brand New Boots And Panties.’

Any Trouble: Second Choice– From their debut 1977 LP ‘Where Are All The Nice Girls?’ (SEEZ 25). Released as a 7″ (BUY79), but it never charted.

Desmond Dekker: Please Don’t Bend– Desmond was a rather major reggae/ska artist with an extensive back catalog. This track is from his seventh album (1st with Stiff) ‘Black And Dekker’ (SEEZ 26). It was also released as a 7″ (BUY87), but failed to chart.

Jona Lewie: You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties– This track never appeared on a contemporary Jona album, but was released as a single (BUY73) and came in at #16 on the UK Singles chart. In 2010 the song was used in a commercial for IKEA kitchens; Jona appears in the ad as the party’s host.

The Feelies: The Boy With Perpetual Nervousness– From their debut Stiff album , 1980’s ‘Crazy Rhythms’ (SEEZ 20). The song never charted and was not released as a single.

Plasmatics:  Concrete Shoes– From their debut album ‘New Hope for the Wretched’ (1980, SEEZ 24). It was not released as a single and didn’t chart.

The sleeve art is all but non-existent, but works for a promotional item. The ‘Stiff America’ logo is an applied sticker, while the title section was hand rubber-stamped on in a delightfully low-tech DIY manner.

Expressos: Hey Girl / Baby Be Bad to Me

expressos_heygirl

Format: 7″

Label: WEA

Country: UK

Year: 1980

Price paid: $4

Purchased at: My Mind’s Eye, Cleveland OH

 

‘Hey Girl’ (no relationship to the Small Faces song of the same name) reached #60 on the UK charts and was the group’s highest charting single. It’s a cute little song, catchy and trite. I find it a little more engaging than the previously reviewed ‘Kiss You All Over.’

The sleeve art’s pretty sweet. Pastel colors, thin ties, and cheesy B&W shots of the band hamming it up in embarrassing poses- everything you could want from a New Wave single. I’m always somewhat amazed when I come across survivors like this- the condition of my copy’s exquisite, and looks like it hasn’t seen the light of day since it was put in some dark box over thirty years ago.

See my review of their single ‘Kiss You All Over‘ for extensive musings on the Expressos.

expressos_heygirl2

Mutant Pop 78/79

Format: LP

Label: PVC/Fast Product

Country: US

Year: 1980

Price paid: $8

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

As far as I know this is the only album in the series, although the ’78/79′ implies that they had plans for future releases. Early post-punk UK tunes flung at the US market in hopes that some would stick. Or not.

Track listing:

Mekons 

  • Never Been in a Riot
  • 32 Weeks
  • Where Were You

Scars 

  • Adultery
  • Horror Show

The Human League 

  • Being Boiled
  • Circus of Death

2-3

  • All Time Low
  • Where to Know?

The Flowers 

  • After Dark
  • Confessions

Gang of Four 

  • Love Like Anthrax
  • Armalite Rifle
  • Damaged Goods

Adam and the Ants: Kings of the Wild Frontier / Press Darlings

Format: 7″

Label: CBS

Country: UK

Year: 1980

Price paid: $4

Purchased at: My Mind’s Eye, Cleveland OH

 

The album ‘King of the Wild Frontier’ was a turning point for Adam and his ants. Previously the band had had little success chart-wise, but that all changed with a forced band lineup brought on by Malcolm McLaren. McLaren, in a brilliant and extremely douchy move, stole Adam’s band and put them to work as the group Bow Wow Wow- with the then jailbait Annabella Lwin on lead vocals. But that’s a different story.

Suffice it to say things started to go really well for Adam and the Ants shortly thereafter…

This is fourth single released by the band, the first with the new lineup and also first in support of ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ LP. It reached #48 on the UK charts (their first chart appearance.)

I love the sleeve art on this one. The black/red/white color scheme is rather potent and must have made a dramatic impression on store shelves back in the day; it certainly would have caught my eye! Very intimidating, like a horror movie poster. Potent and primal.

Cristina Monet: Cristina

Format: LP

Label: ZE

Country: US

Year: 1980

Price paid: $5

Purchased at: The Record Archive, Rochester NY

 

When I first picked this LP up from the bargain bin I was amused by the cover, but not overly impressed. When I saw it was on the Ze label I quickly held it close to my chest. It’s not so much about the ‘music’ in this case; this one’s dripping with history… and valued in the $20-30 range.

Ze is the seminal New York ‘No Wave’ label that gave Lydia Lunch her big break. Cristina has the distinction of being the FIRST artist to release material on Ze.

Cristina herself was a Harvard dropout who met Ze Record’s founder Michael Zilkha while working for the Village Voice. She put out a few low-key LPs and disappeared from the scene. And that’s about it. Oh, there’s more if you’re into minutia:

Everything you could possibly ever want to know about ‘Christina’, the album

Cristina’s backside…

Blotto: Hello My Name is Blotto, What’s Yours?

Format: 12″ EP

Label: Blotto

Country: US

Year: 1980

Price paid: $2.50

 

Let’s hear it for upstate New York! Arguably one of the best New Wave bands to come out of my neck of the woods, certainly the best to hail from Albany.

Honestly, before researching this just now I thought they were Canadian. They just have that sound. Originally known as the ‘Star Spangled Washboard Band.’ Blotto dissolved in ’84, but still reform on occasion for local Albany events.

You may remember this song, a classic of the period. Delightful synth work. Supposedly this video was produced at SUNY Albany and played on the first day MTV went on the air:

The sleeve itself is simple, but get’s the job done. I dig the crude/punk DIY feel to it- copyright-free clip art, typewriter font (probably from a real typewriter), and ink stamp designs. Honest and low tech. This was a local/regional release EP, but I’m thinking they made a ton of them based on the reasonably low value this can be had for today. This example is still sealed.