Generation X: Valley of the Dolls / Shakin’ All Over

genX_valley
Format: 7″
Label: Chrysalis (CHS 2310)
Country: UK
Year: 1979
Price paid: $4
Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

 

In the valley of the dolls skank girls shanking

In the valley of the dolls I saw love vibrating…

‘Valley of the Dolls’ was the second single released from the 1979 album ‘Valley of the Dolls.’ It reached number 23 on the UK charts and was their second highest charting single, bested only by the first single off of VOTD, ‘King Rocker’, which came in at number 11. The B-side ‘Shakin’ All Over’ is a cover of the 1960 Johnny Kidd & the Pirates tune (made famous internationally when it was covered by The Guess Who in 1965.)

The disc was released in a variety of colors from pale butterscotch to raspberry to splatter dirty-rainbow, and many stages in between as chance and the skill of those pouring the admittedly odd mix of vinyl dictated.

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The version displayed here is by far the ugliest (and least expensive) variant. When I first pulled it out I thought ‘baby diarrhea with hints of blood in the stool.’ I’m guessing this is probably not the look they were going for; based on the theme of the song I like to think of it as ‘hot lady flesh’ version.

With its shiny black and hot pink aesthetic, the sleeve foreshadows what would quickly become a New Wave cliche. At this early date, coupled with the giggle-inducing scowls of the bands, it must have been an edgy presentation to contemporary consumers.

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Graham Parker and the Rumour: The Pink Parker EP

thepinkparkerFormat: 7″

Label: Mercury

Country: US

Year:1978

Price paid: $4

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

When the sun go down the moon is near

I’m scared to death ’cause your face appear

Ok I admit it, the real draw here for me is the luscious pink vinyl this thing’s pressed on. I’m not much of a Graham Parker fan; he falls into that Elvis Costello blues/pub rock blue-collar subgenre that I just can’t relate to at this point in my life.

Be that as it may, the man has an impressive back catalog with over forty studio and live albums both with The Rumour and as a solo act. Many from the late 70s to 80s period met with a measure of chart success.

‘The Pink Parker’ EP was his second-highest charting LP/EP reaching #24 on the UK singles charts in 1977 with the tracks ‘Hold Back the Night’ and ‘(Let Me Get) Sweet on You.’ These tracks reached #58 and #107 respectively on the US hot 100.

Track Listing:

  • Hold Back The Night
  • (Let Me Get) Sweet On You
  • White Honey *
  • Soul Shoes *

* live tracks, both from ‘Live At Marble Arch’ Bootleg

The sleeve art has a real ‘Stiff’ feel to it, looking like it could have easily been released by that indie label during the period. This may not be a total coincidence; Parker would have several recordings on the label between 1980-1982 including ‘The Up Escalator’ in 1980 (SEEZ23.) In 1975 (two years before this EP’s release) Parker recorded several demo tracks with Dave Robinson; Robinson would found Stiff Records shortly thereafter. Nick Lowe produced for Parker around this time and also acts as producer for the two live tracks on this EP. Lowe (probably best known for his1979 hit ‘Cruel to Be Kind’) was the first ever artist to release a single on Stiff (BUY1- ‘So It Goes’) in 1976.

thepinkparker2Also of note on this sleeve is the weird black dot at the lower left on the front, which looks totally out of place. The EP was originally released in the UK on the Vertigo label; when released in the US in 1977 by Vertigo the art made it through with only minor regional changes. A year later the EP was re-released in the US, this time by Mercury. They hastily covered up the original Vertigo logo and called it a day. The backside of the sleeve fared a little better, as the ‘artist’ tasked with making the modifications took more care when swapping out the various logos.

Other than these few cosmetic differences, the sleeve art on all three is basically the same. Oh, did I mention that fans in the US got the better end of the deal as their versions (both Vertigo and Mercury) are on neon PINK VINYL?

 

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The Stranglers: Something Better Change EP

stranglers_something

Format: 7″

Label: A&M

Country: US

Year: 1977

Purchase price: $4

Purchased at: The Bop Shop, Rochester NY

 

“Don’t you like the things that I say? Don’t you like the way I seem to enjoy it when you shout things but I don’t care?”

This EP was a US-only release, containing tracks from their first two albums in an attempt maximize exposure to an American audience. Sadly it failed to win over listeners and never charted. Although the band had an amazing twenty three singles that broke the UK top 40 singles and seventeen UK top 40 albums they never once charted in the US.

Track listing:

  • Something Better Change
  • Straighten Out
  • (Get a) Grip (On Yourself)
  • Hanging Around

Tracks one and two are from the band’s second LP ‘No More Heroes’ while three and four are from their first ‘Rattus Norvegicus’, both released in 1977. The song ‘Something Better Change’ reached #9 onthe UK charts, the band’s fifth highest charting single (tied with 1983’s ‘European Female.’)

stranglers_something3The sleeve is classic British punk, or at least it’s a fair attempt by a major label to codify some of the counterculture’s motifs. A shocking red and black color scheme envelopes a leather-clad band; superimposed collage eye lend a touch of DIY to the affair. One of the primary draws of this single however is the luscious pink swirl vinyl, which I hear ranges from almost pure white to a rich pink. My example is mostly white with only a few wisps of pink.

 

Despite the coolness factor of the vinyl, not insignificant age (over 35 years!), and historical importance this single is inexpensive and readily available.

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