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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Platinum Girl: A Tribute To Blondie

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Format: CD

Label: Cleopatra

Country: US

Year: 2000 (March 7)

Price paid: $1

Purchased at: thrift store, Rochester NY

 

Compilations are a tricky thing. When a music company sits down to hammer out a musical compendium there’s two major tracts they can take after the relatively easy concept or theme has been determined.

The first, and usually most successful, is to go out and hunt down pre-existing tracks, ponying up what needs to be paid to get the highest level of talent available. This is the most traditional route; rarely before the nineties do you see the second more insidious method pop up…

It looks great on paper: You’re a small-to-midsize indie label with a great roster of artists. A compilation album seems like a great fun way for consumers to become familiar with your talent; they buy the disc based on the few artists they do know, hoping that they’ll be introduced to new artists of a similar ilk. The problems really start to pop up when you then take those artists and attempt to shoehorn them into your ‘concept.’ Some don’t fit stylistically. Others don’t have the chops to do justice to the source material. And some just don’t give a shit.

It got pretty bad for a while there, this glut of mediocre and pointless compilations. Used CD bins seemed to be filled with them and they couldn’t give them away. You’d pick up a disc to check out the artists and be hit with a dozen or so names you’d never heard of. This first time coming across one of these was great as it seemed like quite the bargain, but by the second or third or fiftieth compilation it was apparent that you’ve never heard of these artists for a reason. In many cases the ‘artists’ didn’t even exist, or just barely so (see below.)

What it boils down to is that there are two ways to do a Blondie tribute album, the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way. Oh I’m sure there are shades of gray between these two extremes (the ‘mostly right way’ and the ‘decidedly horrible but still listenable’ way to name but two), but I’m going into this with the attitude that the compilation being reviewed here today is either a pleasant listening experience or not worthy of being used to scrape the poop off of Debbie Harry’s shoes.

A few ground rules:

This Blondie compilation will be dissected song-by-song, and at the end the results tabulated. I’ll use a one to ten grading system, with ten equaling ‘awesome’ and one being ‘pretty shitty.’ Subjective as hell I know. The categories under consideration are:

Listenability– Perhaps the most important aspect. Is it a good song?

Originality– Any idiot with a guitar can cover a song. A truly talented idiot can cover a song well. But it takes a real artist to take what has come before and run with it, mutating and transforming the source material into something unique and engaging. If this hasn’t been accomplished then, well, I might as well just listen to the original.

Blondieness– Ok, so you’ve got the ‘originality’ thing covered and it’s sufficiently melodic that I don’t feel like running out of the room screaming. But is it still Blondie? If the song is changed beyond recognition then it’s not very successful, or at least not effective enough to pass as a tribute.

Alright, let’s dig into this puppy and see what we’ve got:

 

Mephisto Walz: ‘Hangin’ On the Telephone’– Goth band that’s been around in one form or another since the mid-80s, Mephisto Walz (formerly ‘Waltz’) was formed by Barry Galvin upon his departure from Christian Death. This cover is rather spry for the group, a jangly wall of sound with distant vocals as if sung from in a cavern.

  • Listenability: 7
  • Originality: 6
  • Blondiness: 5

 

Berlin: ‘Shayla’– This 80’s supergroup Berlin need no introduction I’m sure. The vocals are of course top notch, I could do without the cheesy 90’s-sounding rap nonsense that brings to mind Duran Duran’s ‘White Lines.’ Not a compliment.

  • Listenability: 8
  • Originality: 7
  • Blondiness: 6

 

Spahn Ranch (featuring Vylette): ‘Dreaming’– Another Goth (or Electro-Industrial to be more specific) band on the Cleopatra payroll, this group was active through most of the 90s and have an extensive back catalog. Early vocalist Scott “Chopper” Franklin would go on to be the bassist for The Cramps and in ’93 they were joined by drummer David Glass from Christian Death. The band called it a day around the time this compilation was released. I’m rather fond of this version, although with its deadpan tongue-in-cheek heavily modulated vocals it doesn’t lend itself to frequent listens.

  • Listenability: 4
  • Originality: 9
  • Blondiness: 4

 

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Tiffany c. 2012 appearing on the TV show ‘What Not To Wear’

Tiffany: ‘Call Me’– 80’s teen heartthrob Tiffany (aka Tiffany Renee Darwish) is no stranger to covers. ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ (Tommy James and the Shondells did it first and came in at #4 on the charts, her version reached #1 in both the US and UK) and ‘I Saw Him Standing There’ (Beatles cover, her version reached #7 in the US and #8 in the UK) were two of her biggest hits after all. Her take on Blondie is rather academic and ‘safe’, not truly doing justice to either Debbie Harry or Tiffany. Competent but unremarkable.

  • Listenability: 4
  • Originality: 2
  • Blondiness: 8

 

Swing Cats (with Christi Ellen Harris): ‘I’m Gonna Love You Too– Thanks to Brain Seltzer retro-swing was all the rage back in the mid-90s. Former Stray Cats associates Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom formed the Swing Cats to cash in on the craze (or bring their ‘creative interpretation’ to the genre, whichever you prefer), along with form Honeydrippers’ guitarist Danny B. Harvey. Who Christi Ellen Harris is is still a mystery; suffice it to say her music career was brief at best. And that’s really a shame ‘cause she’s really good! As is this cover, easily one of the strongest of the lot. Reminds me of The Dickies ‘Banana Splits’ cover.

  • Listenability: 9
  • Originality: 9
  • Blondiness: 8

 

Michelle Crispin: ‘Rapture– Former lead singer of the first openly (albeit sleazy) lesbian group Fem2Fem, Michelle’s solo career seems to have never taken off. She released a lone 12” single in the late nineties and then completely fell off the radar. The music sounds like off-the-shelf video game filler from some B-list turn-of-the-century driving game and the rap parts are completely butchered beyond recognition.

  • Listenability: 2
  • Originality: 4
  • Blondiness: 2

 

Rosetta Stone (featuring Mula): ‘Sunday Girl– Yet another Goth band on the Cleopatra label (this one from the UK), the band had a UK top forty hit with their rather odd cover of The Rattles’ song ‘The Witch.’ Who is Mula? A complete mystery; like several other bands on this compilation it appears they enlisted a female vocalist, the sausage fest that was Rosetta Stone perhaps deemed too masculine? It’s slow and plodding, but against all odds this one’s surprisingly good… and not half as cheesy as it could have been.

  • Listenability: 6
  • Originality: 7
  • Blondiness: 8

 

The Electric Hellfire Club: ‘Rush Rush– Formed by Buck Ryder (aka Thomas Thorn, formerly of My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult) in 1991, this industrial-metal outfit has a history spanning decades. Another odd band choice for a Blondie cover album, but obviously Cleopatra had to work with what talent they had at hand. And again I’m shocked that this unlikely marriage of styles turned out so well. Hard and alight with buzz sawing guitars, it’s tempered by a sweet delicate female voice and crafted with loving care by musicians that not only appreciate Blondie, but ‘get’ what it means to BE Blondie.

  • Listenability: 8
  • Originality: 9
  • Blondiness: 9

 

Sheep On Drugs, c. 2013

Sheep On Drugs, c. 2013

Sheep On Drugs: ‘The Tide Is High– British techno/dance-punk raver band formed in the 90s and still around today. I’m not sure of their relationship with the Cleopatra label, but they appear on several tribute compilations around the time of this CD’s release. I do not like this cover. It’s a frantic mess, surprisingly empty for all of the aural flotsam being thrown at my ears.

  • Listenability: 2
  • Originality: 3
  • Blondiness: 1

 

Ex-Voto: ‘Accidents Never Happen– Goth/deathrock band from New Orleans, Ex-Voto have four studio albums to their name and appear to have been active at least up until 2009. Their typical work is of the depressive droning male-vocal variety typical of the genre but this tune is peppy, lively, and delightfully heavy on the synthwork. Altogether enjoyable!

  • Listenability: 8
  • Originality: 6
  • Blondiness: 7

 

Angela Bruyiere: ‘Heart of Glass– I know nothing about this artist, and a quick Google search pulls up absolutely nothing about her… other than she appears on this compilation and nowhere else. Competent but completely uninspired cover. Angela seems to be channeling Donna Summer, as the breathy wispy vocals evoke images of discos and roller skating rinks.

  • Listenability: 5
  • Originality: 3
  • Blondiness: 7

 

Razed In Black (featuring Shirley Dayton): ‘Rapture– I’m beginning to sense a theme here. Yet another goth band, this one with supposed elements of dark-wave, synthpop, and techno comprising their typical sound. The artist Shirley Dayton is relatively unknown; she appears on several other Cleopatra compilations as well as the 1999 Razed In Black (going under their alternative name ‘Transmutater’) album ‘Colony of Sluts.’ With this track we break the cardinal rule of compilation albums- ONLY ONE COVER OF THE SAME SONG PER COMILATION! Either this track or Michelle Crispin’s version should have been given the boot… it’s kind of a toss-up as to which one, as quite frankly they both kinda suck. More breathy sub-Donna Summer vocals overlaid on a barren uninspired syth track.

  • Listenability: 4
  • Originality: 1
  • Blondiness: 5

 

Cherie Currie and her chainsaw art, c. 2013

Cherie Currie and her chainsaw art, c. 2013

Cherie Currie: ‘For Your Eyes Only– They made a rather odd choice in enlisting ex-Runaway, sometimes-actress, and professional chainsaw wood carver Cherie to make a contribution. An even odder choice (arty or annoying, you decide) that her contribution be ‘For Your Eyes Only’, a rather disposable song from Blondie’s rather disposable sixth studio album, 1982’s ‘The Hunter.’ The song was originally written for the James Bond film of the same name, but ultimately rejected by the producers. Cherie’s take is, perhaps not surprisingly, somewhat of a bloated self-indulgent mess. Bond on lithium.

  • Listenability: 2
  • Originality: 4
  • Blondiness: 3

 

Puppie: ‘One Way or Another– Nothing is known of the band or artist known as ‘Puppie.’ Perhaps the singer was a secretary working at Cleopatra Records when the producers of this album came running out of the studio, desperate to find a vocalist in order to finish off the last track to meet a tight deadline. That’s my theory anyway and true or not, it sure comes off that way. The treatment of this song might have looked good on paper and it’s cute for about five seconds, but quickly becomes shrill and annoying.

  • Listenability: 2
  • Originality: 6
  • Blondiness: 2

 

  • Overall listenability: 4.62 out of 10
  • Overall originality: 5.57 out of 10
  • Overall Blondieness: 5.35 out of 10

 

The numbers pretty much play out my thoughts. A slightly better than average tribute album, brought down by a few weak acts and Cleopatra’s limited roster of talent. If they had trimmed the number of tracks from 14 down to 10 and ditched a few of the weaker links the experience would have been much more pleasant.

The package design itself is another weak link; had it been stronger this disc probably would be more widely known. As it is it comes across as one of those generic compilation albums put out by session artists. So bland and flat is the layout that when I came across this disc at a thrift store I almost passed it over. Bonus points for the incorporation of ‘platinum’ ink… but inside a jewel case it just looks gray.

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Bubble Yum Bubble Gum Pink Flash! volume 1

pinkflash

Format: 12″

Label: CBS

Country: Canada

Year: 1981

Price paid: $3.50

Purchased at: Angry Mom Records, Ithaca NY

 

Either a promo or mail-away premium for Bubble Yum Bubble Gum, I must admit I bought this one pretty much for the cover. I was sold when I saw Adam and the Ants made an appearance, hoping that (despite the inclusion of Cheap Trick and Journey) there might be a hidden gem in the otherwise rather obscure Canada-heavy mix. Alas only Adam delivers the goods in the New Wave department, with most of the other tracks being dull energy-free rock ballads of little note. But what a cover!

There was never a volume two.

Track listing:

Adam And The Ants: ‘Dog Eat Dog’– This single is from the band’s second album, 1980’s ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier.’ It peaked at #4 in the UK and #15 in the US.

Harlequin: ‘Innocence’– Blasting out of Winnipeg in the mid-70’s, Canada’s Harlequin swooned listeners in the great white north for decades, eventually being inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

Powder Blues: ‘Doing It Right’– The Powder Blues were a Canadian blues/jazz band formed in Vancouver in 1978. This single, their first, reached #40 on the Canadian charts in 1980 and was taken from their 1979 freshman album ‘Uncut.’ It has a vaguely ‘Huey Lewis’ sound to my ears…

Cheap Trick: ‘Dream Police’– This song is from the band’s fourth studio LP of the same name. It reached #26 on the US charts; it’s Canadian chart ranking is unknown, but the album itself went to #4 and stayed on Canada’s charts for 20 weeks.

Randy Meisner: ‘Hearts On Fire’– Randy was a founding member of both Poco and the Eagles, having wrote and sang ‘Take It to the Limit’ for the later. This single reached #14 on the US Mainstream Rock chart in 1981. Yawn.

Journey: ‘The Party’s Over (Hopelessly In Love)’– The only studio track appearing on their live album ‘Captured’, this single made it to #33 in Canada and an impressive #2 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. Yawn.

Loverboy: ‘The Kid Is Hot Tonight’– From their 1980 self-titled debut album, this song was released as a single,but never saw any significant chart action.

Teenage Head: ‘Let’s Shake’– Perhaps Canada’s greatest punk band, Ontario’s Teenage Head released eight studio albums (and one live album) over a twenty-five year period. This vaguely-Rockabilly sounding single reached #88 on the Canadian charts in 1980.

Rough Trade: ‘Fashion Victim’– Canadian rock band that may be marginally known to American listeners through their 1981 single ‘All Touch’, which reached #58 in the states. This single is from 1980’s ‘Avoid Freud’ and reached #25 in Canada. Bland, slow, and uninspired.

Doug And The Slugs: ‘Too Bad’– Another Vancouver powerhouse formed in the late 70s, DATS lasted into the early 90s, racking up ten top-100 singles in Canada (most of those flying south of the top-50 mark.) ‘Too Bad’ was their first and highest charting single, coming in at #20.

 

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Like, Omigod!: The Totally 80s Pop Culture Box

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Format: CD (7) boxed set
Label: Rhino
Country: US
Year: 2002
Price paid: $20
Purchased at: The Sound Garden, Syracuse NY

 

I have this theory, one amongst many, that when it came to American popular music the eighties were a decade of opposites. One could argue that a line could be drawn in the sand in any decade and the tea leaves unearthed easily read with multiple interpretations, but just go with me on this…
NW1The 80s had two faces. On the one hand you had the valleygirl-filled wonderland with shopping malls on every corner, pink Izod-clad preppies roaming the halls of shiny high schools fighting competitive clique warfare, and moms in Day-Glo leg warmers sweating to a Jane Fonda workout record. This was perhaps maybe two percent of America. It existed… I saw it on a trip to Los Angeles in 1986 and it was full-on rad. But for the vast majority of us it was a rather dire grey time with no cell phones or internet. Hell, growing up my house didn’t even have a microwave, VCR, and cable TV until halfway through the decade. This compilation clearly fits into the former, distilling the decade down to a hot pink Mohawk.

 
NW2Now that I think about it there’s another level of eighties stratification. On the one hand you had the glistening pop sphere that dominated the charts. Bubblegum and other generally squeaky-clean genres that said little… but said it loudly. And then there was that subterranean world that flowed darkly and deeply below the surface, a nameless entity that pop plundered periodically for its style. So vast, it had no name, no cohesive single style that one could hang a hat on. Towards the end of the eighties this undercurrent became more codified… more marketable… and began to be known by names such as ‘Indie’ and ‘Alternative.’ This compilation without question fits into that first camp, the likes of Siouxsie and Concrete Blonde need not apply. Although Robert Smith managed to sneak in somehow.

 
NW3And then there’s the whole early eighties/late eighties thing. Stylistically there’s a sharp difference between the two, and that division can be drawn pretty much at the half-decade mark. Early eighties was dominated by New Wave (capital ‘N’ capital ‘W’) with its fondness for synthesizers and neon, but by 1985 that style was swiftly falling out of favor, to be replaced by a leaner and far less fifties-style kitsch aesthetic. The gulf between Devo and New Kids on the Block (both appear here) is vast; they have nothing in common save for appearing on the head and ass ends of the decade, respectively. This compilation (thankfully) spends a vast majority of its time in the pre-1985 big hair period, with only a spattering of crap like Bobby McFerrin and later-day B-52’s.

 
And then there’s, well don’t get me started on the heavy US bias on display here. I guess that’s to be expected since this IS an American product meant for consumption by Americans, but it paints a weird and highly exclusive picture. Suffice it to say you won’t be finding any Toyah or Kate Bush in this collection, while artists like Bananrama and Thomas Dolby are pegged as One-Hit Wonders at best…

 
The packaging is exactly what you’d expect, sizzling like a radioactive avocado and nail polish. So many eighties’ design clichés are packed per square inch that the whole affair threatens to collapse in on itself in a riot of neon at any moment. At this point in the game, some 30 years on, even a blind chimp knows enough of the decade’s style to throw together a passable design. Where the package really shines though is in its excess- hefty gatefold multi-chambered case, seven garish CDs, and a colorful (if not remedial) square-bound booklet that sizzles with style over substance.

 

 

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The tunes themselves are a mixed bag, but at 142 tracks there’s more than enough to go around. They range from predictable yet good (‘Whip It’, ‘Mickey’, ‘867-5309’), to the slightly surprising (‘Pac-Man Fever’, ‘Genius of Love’, ‘Voices Scary’) to the downright crappy (‘Sister Christian’, ‘Keep Your Hands to Yourself’, ‘Let’s Hear it For the Boy’.) There’s also more than a few soundtrack/TV show themes thrown in to spice up the mix a little, but with ditties like ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Theme from the Greatest American Hero’ I would have been happier with a few more B-list songs.

 
Overall I’d have to call this a great little set for what it is. There’s more than enough good stuff on here to entertain for hours on a long car trip and I think ultimately I think that’s what Rhino were after- a disposable glimpse into a disposable decade. Totally.

 

 

The massive track list:

Disc 1 (21 tracks)
1. “Whip It” — Devo 2:39 (1980)
2. “Video Killed the Radio Star” — The Buggles 3:27 (1979)
3. “Empire Strikes Back (Medley)” — Meco 3:03 (1980)
4. “Another One Bites the Dust” — Queen 3:34 (1980)
5. “Celebration” — Kool & the Gang 3:43 (1981)
6. “The Breaks (Pt. 1)” — Kurtis Blow 4:09 (1980)
7. “Let My Love Open the Door” — Pete Townshend 2:44 (1980)
8. “Call Me” — Blondie 3:32 (1980)
9. “Keep on Loving You” — REO Speedwagon 3:22 (1981)
10. “Turning Japanese” — The Vapors 3:44 (1980)
11. “Lost in Love” — Air Supply 3:54 (1980)
12. “9 to 5” — Dolly Parton 2:46 (1980)
13. “I Love a Rainy Night” — Eddie Rabbitt 3:10 (1980)
14. “Sailing” — Christopher Cross 4:16 (1980)
15. “Just the Two of Us” — Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers 3:58 (1981)
16. “Cars” — Gary Numan 3:57 (1980)
17. “Ah! Leah!” — Donnie Iris 3:43 (1980)
18. “Sweetheart” — Franke and the Knockouts 3:49 (1981)
19. “Shake It Up” — The Cars 3:34 (1981)
20. “General Hospi-Tale” — The Afternoon Delights 4:01 (1981)
21. “The Stroke” — Billy Squier 3:37 (1981)

Disc 2 (20 tracks)
1. “Dancing with Myself” — Billy Idol 3:19 (1981)
2. “Working for the Weekend” — Loverboy 3:41 (1981)
3. “Jessie’s Girl” — Rick Springfield 3:15 (1981)
4. “Genius of Love” — Tom Tom Club 3:30 (1981)
5. “Centerfold” — The J. Geils Band 3:38 (1982)
6. “At This Moment” — Billy Vera & the Beaters 4:14 (1986)
7. “Harden My Heart” — Quarterflash 3:37 (1982)
8. “Hold on Loosely” — .38 Special 3:55 (1981)
9. “Theme from ‘Greatest American Hero’ (Believe It or Not)” — Joey Scarbury 3:14 (1981)
10. “Take Off” — Bob and Doug McKenzie 2:43 (1981)
11. “Super Freak (Pt. 1)” — Rick James 3:20 (1981)
12. “867-5309/Jenny” — Tommy Tutone 3:47 (1982)
13. “Bette Davis Eyes” — Kim Carnes 3:45 (1981)
14. “Time” — The Alan Parsons Project 4:32 (1981)
15. “Gloria” — Laura Branigan 4:52 (1982)
16. “Maneater” — Hall & Oates 4:32 (1982)
17. “The Theme from Hill Street Blues” — Mike Post 3:14 (1981)
18. “Valley Girl” — Frank Zappa with Moon Unit 3:48 (1982)
19. “Da Da Da (I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha Aha)” — Trio 3:25 (1981)
20. “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” — The Gap Band 4:03 (1982)

Disc 3 (21 tracks)
1. “Hungry Like the Wolf” — Duran Duran 4:05 (1982)
2. “The Look of Love (Pt. 1)” — ABC 3:31 (1982)
3. “Tainted Love” — Soft Cell 2:42 (1981)
4. “Rock This Town” — Stray Cats 2:40 (1982)
5. “Lies” — Thompson Twins 3:14 (1983)
6. “Words” — Missing Persons 4:24 (1982)
7. “Don’t You Want Me” — The Human League 3:58 (1981)
8. “Love Plus One” — Haircut 100 3:37 (1982)
9. “Down Under” — Men at Work 3:43 (1982)
10. “Steppin’ Out” — Joe Jackson 3:47 (1982)
11. “I Want Candy” — Bow Wow Wow 2:46 (1982)
12. “Come On Eileen” — Dexys Midnight Runners 4:14 (1983)
13. “Mickey” — Toni Basil 3:27 (1982)
14. “Twilight Zone” — Golden Earring 4:51 (1982)
15. “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” — Melissa Manchester 3:58 (1982)
16. “Key Largo” — Bertie Higgins 3:07 (1982)
17. “Pac-Man Fever” — Buckner & Garcia 3:55 (1982)
18. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” — Bonnie Tyler 5:35 (1983)
19. “Africa” — Toto 4:19 (1983)
20. “Goodbye to You” — Scandal 3:47 (1982)
21. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” — Taco 3:25 (1982)

Disc 4 (20 tracks)
1. “Jeopardy” — The Greg Kihn Band 3:47 (1983)
2. “She Blinded Me with Science” — Thomas Dolby 3:42 (1982)
3. “Electric Avenue” — Eddy Grant 3:49 (1982)
4. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — Eurythmics 3:36 (1983)
5. “Our House” — Madness 3:23 (1982)
6. “The Salt in My Tears” — Martin Briley 3:30 (1983)
7. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” — Cyndi Lauper 3:53 (1983)
8. “Talking in Your Sleep” — The Romantics 3:57 (1983)
9. “Major Tom (Coming Home)” — Peter Schilling 4:12 (1983)
10. “Always Something There to Remind Me” — Naked Eyes 3:41 (1983)
11. “In a Big Country” — Big Country 3:55 (1983)
12. “One Thing Leads to Another” — The Fixx 3:24 (1983)
13. “Der Kommisar” — After the Fire 4:08 (1983)
14. “Suddenly Last Summer” — The Motels 3:42 (1983)
15. “Karma Chameleon” — Culture Club 4:08 (1984)
16. “Let’s Go to Bed” — The Cure 3:34 (1982)
17. “Too Shy” — Kajagoogoo 3:36 (1983)
18. “Maniac” — Michael Sembello 4:11 (1983)
19. “Sister Christian” — Night Ranger 4:21 (1984)
20. “Cum on Feel the Noize” — Quiet Riot 3:27 (1984)

Disc 5 (20 tracks)
1. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” — Yes 3:51 (1983)
2. “Mr. Roboto” — Styx 4:49 (1983)
3. “I’m So Excited” — The Pointer Sisters 3:50 (1984)
4. “Back on the Chain Gang” — The Pretenders 3:53 (1982)
5. “I Want to Know What Love Is” — Foreigner 5:00 (1984)
6. “Sunglasses at Night” — Corey Hart 3:54 (1984)
7. “Missing You” — John Waite 4:02 (1984)
8. “99 Luftballons” — Nena 3:53 (1983)
9. “Tenderness” — General Public 3:31 (1984)
10. “They Don’t Know” — Tracey Ullman 3:01 (1983)
11. “Heaven” — Bryan Adams 3:58 (1985)
12. “White Horse” — Laid Back 3:53 (1983)
13. “Let the Music Play” — Shannon 4:31 (1983)
14. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” — Deniece Williams 4:10 (1984)
15. “Cool It Now” — New Edition 4:09 (1984)
16. “Ghostbusters” — Ray Parker, Jr. 4:00 (1984)
17. “Footloose” — Kenny Loggins 3:44 (1984)
18. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” — Twisted Sister 3:39 (1984)
19. “Rock You Like a Hurricane” — Scorpions 4:12 (1984)
20. “The Glamorous Life” — Sheila E. 3:42 (1984)

Disc 6 (20 tracks)
1. “Obsession” — Animotion 3:58 (1985)
2. “Shout” — Tears for Fears 4:06 (1985)
3. “Take on Me” — a-ha 3:47 (1985)
4. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” — Simple Minds 4:20 (1985)
5. “Walking on Sunshine” — Katrina and the Waves 3:59 (1985)
6. “Voices Carry” — ‘Til Tuesday 4:23 (1985)
7. “Weird Science” — Oingo Boingo 3:49 (1985)
8. “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” — Dead or Alive 3:17 (1985)
9. “Miami Vice Theme” — Jan Hammer 2:27 (1985)
10. “Life in a Northern Town” — The Dream Academy 4:17 (1986)
11. “Kyrie” — Mr. Mister 4:15 (1985)
12. “Everytime You Go Away” — Paul Young 4:16 (1985)
13. “We Built This City” — Starship 4:56 (1985)
14. “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” — John Parr 4:10 (1985)
15. “Addicted to Love” — Robert Palmer 4:01 (1986)
16. “Axel F” — Harold Faltermeyer 3:01 (1985)
17. “Rhythm of the Night” — DeBarge 3:54 (1985)
18. “You Look Marvelous” — Billy Crystal 3:58 (1985)
19. “Heartbeat” — Don Johnson 4:17 (1986)
20. “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” — Wang Chung 4:11 (1986)

Disc 7 (20 tracks)
1. “Venus” — Bananarama 3:50 (1986)
2. “Walk Like an Egyptian” — The Bangles 3:23 (1986)
3. “Paranoimia” — Art of Noise and Max Headroom 3:18 (1986)
4. “If You Leave” — Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 4:26 (1986)
5. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” — The Georgia Satellites 3:24 (1986)
6. “What You Need” — INXS 3:35 (1986)
7. “Walk This Way” — Run-D.M.C. 3:39 (1986)
8. “Rumors” — Timex Social Club 3:33 (1986)
9. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” — Crowded House 3:57 (1987)
10. “Holding Back the Years” — Simply Red 4:12 (1986)
11. “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” — New Kids on the Block 3:57 (1989)
12. “Tuff Enuff” — The Fabulous Thunderbirds 3:23 (1986)
13. “Since You’ve Been Gone” — The Outfield 4:13 (1987)
14. “Only in My Dreams” — Debbie Gibson 3:52 (1987)
15. “Never Gonna Give You Up” — Rick Astley 3:32 (1988)
16. “La Bamba” — Los Lobos 2:54 (1987)
17. “Wild, Wild West” — The Escape Club 4:06 (1988)
18. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” — Bobby McFerrin 3:55 (1988)
19. “Right Here Waiting” — Richard Marx 4:25 (1989)
20. “Roam” — The B-52’s 4:04 (1989)

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

Bachelor Party Soundtrack

bachelorparty

Format: LP

Label: IRS (SP 70047)

Country: US

Year: 1984

Price paid: $1.49

Purchased at: Books and Melodies, Syracuse NY

 

“Let’s have a bachelor party with chicks and guns and fire trucks and hookers and drugs and booze!”

Ahhh, there’s nothing quite like a good-natured 80s sex comedy starring a lovable douche. Tom Hanks is no Bill Murray, but he doesn’t half try in this one, managing to bring a certain novel brand of sophomoric ass-hattery to the big screen.

 

 

Released in the summer of 1984, ‘Bachelor Party’- although not a runaway blockbuster- made a respectable $38.4 million at the US box office. Typical of the times, a soundtrack album was released… an album that outstrips the source material in terms of quality and class…

Track listing:

The Fleshtones: ‘American Beat ’84’– The Fleshtones hailed from Queens, NY and were local favorites that played at popular Manhattan venues such as CBGB, Club 57, and Max’s Kansas City. Originally released as the band’s first 7″ in 1979 on the Red Star Records label, this single saw a re-release when the band moved to IRS Records in ’84. Despite their cult status and long career (having released 22 studio albums in 38 years, the most recent in 2014) commercial success has so far eluded them…

bach1Oingo Boingo: ‘Something Isn’t Right’– It would be hard to find a band that had more of a presence in 80’s movie soundtracks than Oingo Boingo. ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’, ‘The Last American Virgin’, ‘Sixteen Candles’, and ‘Weird Science’ are some of their other notable movie appearances. This track and ‘Bachelor Party Theme’ are unique to this LP, not appearing on their studio alums. They were not released as singles.

Jools Holland: ‘Crazy Over You’– Jools was a founding member of the band Squeeze (formed 1974), releasing solo material as early as 1978. He is probably best known these days as the host of ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ which ran on British TV from 1992 on.

Adrian Zmed: ‘Little Demon’– Zmed is a minor actor who’s appeared in such films as ‘Grease 2’ and and the TV shows ‘Starsky and Hutch’, ‘Bosom Buddies’, and ‘Caroline in the City’. He also appears in this film in his ‘breakout’ roll as the character Jay O’Neill. This song is about as good as you’d expect from TJ Hooker’s Officer Romano, perhaps his best known role.

bach3R.E.M.: ‘Wind Out’– Arguably the biggest name on this album (in retrospect) and the biggest act to ever crawl out of Charlotte, North Carolina, REM tore up Indie radio in the late 80s and 90s. This decidedly minor track was released around the same time as their sophomore album ‘Reckoning’, and although no on the album it was included with the 1992 I.R.S. Vintage Years reissue.

Oingo Boingo : ‘Bachelor Party Theme’– This track and ‘Something Isn’t Right’ are unique to this LP, not appearing on their studio alums. They were not released as singles.

The Alarm: ‘What Kind of Hell’– Welsh band formed in 1977, The Alarm had some chart success in the UK and US during the 80s and 90s. The single appears on their 1984 freshman album ‘Deceleration’ on IRS. It also appears on the B-side of their 7″ single ‘Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke?’ which reached #22 in the UK.

Darlene Love: ‘Alley Oop’– Cover of the #1 hit by The Hollywood Argyles. Love is probably best known as the 60s Phil Spector artist who had a #1 hit of her own with 1962’s ‘He’s a Rebel.’ She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

bach2Angel and the Reruns: ‘Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boys?’– Hillary Carlip supposedly formed AATR when she was fourteen. Along with her Reruns (Julie Christensen, Perla Batalla and Nancy Scher) they performed tongue-n-cheek ditties of a caliber high enough to warrant inclusion on the Dr. Demento show. Other than inclusion on the soundtrack the band only appeared on vinyl one other time when they released ‘Beaver Cleaver Fever’ as a 7″ in 1982. Carlip is still active today as a successful author, screenwriter, and performance artist.

Yip Yip Coyote: ‘Dream of the West’– Yip Yip Coyote were another one of those hair-brained schemes cooked up by Malcolm McLaren. The gimmick with this band was their old-west theme. Odd, since the band was British. Turns out that cowboys didn’t play as well as pirates with 80’s music buyers. This song would be included a year later on their only LP, 1985’s ‘Fifi.’ Good stuff.

bachelorparty2

Just Say Yes Volume 6: Just Say Yesterday

justsayyesterday

Format: CD

Label: Sire

Country: US

Year: 1992

 

It seemed like the early 90s were the golden age of the music compilation album… or at the very least the golden age of music compilations on CD; record stores of the day had a huge selection of them on hand. Not surprising I guess, as this was the the dark Pre-Internet Times when finding new music could often be a crap shoot. The compilation format let you at least sample before you forked over money on a full album.

The ‘Just Say Yes’ series clogged up a fair amount of real estate in the used CD section back in the day. The tone- both in terms of musical selection and package graphics- was fun, irreverent, and more than a little haughty-wannabe. A lot haughty-wannabe actually, so much so that I pretty much ignored the series at the time.There were seven discs in the series, which spanned from 1987 to 1994. Supposedly the tracks are all remixes and non-album tracks by Sire artists, but it appears that at least one artist on this disc (The Normal) were not from that label.

When I found this CD recently at a thrift store for a buck I couldn’t pass it up. Enough time had passed that the haughty patina had subsided somewhat, and there’s actually some good stuff on here. Most ‘Say Yes’ compilations are known for their selections from the alternative (albeit rather mainstream alternative) genre; ‘Say Yesterday’ branches out a bit and presents an assortment of what would had been considered ‘alternative’ back in the 1st New Wave area, had the term existed then.

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B-Movie- Nowhere Girl (1982): This track is taken from their 1980 ‘Nowhere Girl’ EP released on Dead Good Records, it reached #68 on the UK charts. The band milled about for a few years after the EP’s release appearing on various compilations before finally putting out a LP in 1985. They broke up shortly thereafter… with members moving about in complex and delicate patterns… collaborating with everyone from ex members of Bauhaus to Dido. In more recent years they reformed with an album in 2013 and another planned for 2014.

Tin-Tin- Kiss Me (1982): Tin Tin were created by Stephen Duffy, an early member of Duran Duran (who left before the band were signed), along with members of Fashion, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, and Bob Lamb (producer for UB40.) Originally released in 1982 and breaking the UK top-ten, a 1985 re-release and re-recording climbed the UK charts to #4 in the spring of that year.

Tim Scott- Swear (1983): Information is scant on this artist. He released a few singles on the Sire label in the early 1980s after a stint with the Rockabilly revival group the Rockats.

Blancmange- Don’t Tell Me (1984): This band was quite the item back in the day, racking up eleven top-100 hits in the UK and five on the US dance charts between 1982-1986. This track is a single from their second LP, 1984’s ‘Mange Tout.’

Madness- One Step Beyond (1979): Major hit in the UK, minor hit in the US… click the title to see its own blog entry.

Plastic Bertrand- Ca Plane Pour Moi (This Life’s for Me) (1977):  By far the most successful and well known of this Belgian artist’s songs, the single scratched the US Billboard Hot 100 at #47. It fared much better in Europe where it was a number one hit in both France and Switzerland.

M- Pop Muzik (1979):  This one needs no introduction I’m sure. Massive hit for Robin Scott, reaching #2 on the UK charts and #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

Specimen- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1983):  Long-surviving British Goth band who’s fashion sense (at least in the early days) helped to define the genre. Guitarist Jon Klein has worked with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Sinead O’Connor.

Dead Boys- Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth (1977): An early American punk band originally hailing from Cleveland, the Dead Boys were encouraged to move to NYC by Joey Ramone, where they became a CBGB’s staple. This track is from their first studio LP ‘Young Loud and Snotty.’

Patti Smith- Piss Factory (1974):  Of all the songs on the disc this one seems the most out of place. It’s just shy of five minutes in length, but this protracted caustic rambling track sure seems a hell of a lot longer wedged in amongst relatively carefree fare like ‘Pop Muzik.’ A seminal work to be sure… but one that drags the flow to a grinding halt like a homeless person suddenly standing in the middle of a subway car loudly demanding attention be paid to his protracted plea for a charitable donation.

The Rezillos- Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight (1978):  Formed in Edinburgh in 1976, the Rezillos- later the Revillos- were one of those misfit groups that straddled the boundaries between first generation punk and New Wave. This track is from their first LP ‘Can’t Stand the Rezillos’ and is a cover of a B-side from a 1969 single by Earl Vince and the Valiants (Fleetwood Mac in disguise.)  I’m a pretty big fan, so you’ll be hearing much more about them in the future…

Aztec Camera- Jump (1984): Glasgow New Wave artists with a long successful career in the UK, all but of unheard of in the US. This track is a cover of Van Halen’s #1 US hit and can be found on the B-Side of their ‘All I Need is Everything’ single (which reached #34 in the UK.)

The Bluebells- Cath (1983): Scottish group with stylistic similarities to Aztec Camera, the Bluebells had three minor UK hits in the early 80’s (including this singles, which reached #62) before disbanding. They reformed in the early 90s when their 1984 track ‘Young at Heart’ (co-written by Siobhan Fahey, then of Banarama and appearing on that band’s 1983 album ‘Deep Sea Skiving’) was featured in a TV commercial and rose the UK charts to #8. They reformed yet again in 2008 as a supporting act for Edwyn Collins.

The Undertones- Teenage Kicks (1978): Punk/New Wave band formed in 1975. This song originally appeared on the Teenage Kicks 7″ EP, later re-released as a stand-alone single. It reached #31 on the UK charts.

Silicon Teens- Memphis Tennessee (1979): This ‘band’ did not exist in the traditional sense, as they were the creation of Mute Record’s founder Daniel Miller. Actors appeared as stand-ins for the band during promotional events. A majority of their material was rather dead-pan (yet upbeat) covers of 50’s and 60’s tunes, not unlike what the Flying Lizards would produce on their 1984 ‘Top Ten’ album. Note the stylistic similarities to the Normal’s ‘Warm Leatherette’…

The Normal- Warm Leatherette (1978): The poster child for British experimental New Wave and the first single released on the seminal late 70s Mute label. A CD reissue of the song came out about the same time this compilation was released; click the title to see its own blog entry.