The Attractions – Mad About the Wrong Boy (XXLP8)/Steve Nieve – Theme Music From the Film ‘Outline of a Hairdo’ (COMB1) (1980)


SAM_0751Graphic designer Barney Bubbles runs amok on this ‘solo’ Lp by Elvis Costello’s Attractions. Would that such an exceptionally weak ‘new wave’ record merited our Colin’s over-the-top efforts. Simply put, it’s as poorly sung and written an album as anyone with as much talent as the Attraction possess that you’re likely to hear–truly, the band’s abilities lie elsewhere. SAM_0750An overload of visual japes and absurdity abound.SAM_0752Kookiness and kitsch in ample portions.SAM_0754Steve Nieve assembles a phalanx of keyboards, enough to gag Rick Wakeman, for this instrumental faux soundtrack ep included with the (already generously packed 16 track) album. Fans of EC’s ‘Shot With His Own Gun’ et al. will recognise Nieve’s opulent Romantic style; he never met a glissando he didn’t like. Note that Bubbles appropriates the pianist’s image from the near-contemporary Get Happy!!!SAM_0755
SAM_0753Without vocals to distract, the ep is the slightly better bet.

But for fans of both Bubbles’ work and of paying £1 for their records in Folkestone, this package will do nicely.

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Published in: on September 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Wetton – Caught In the Crossfire (EGLP 107) (1980)

SAM_0744Archetypal prog journeyman and go-to bassist (Roxy, Crimson, Asia, etc.), Wetton sings in an engaging tenor croon, which he puts to good, if inconsequential, use here. As its title and treated monochromatic Hipgnosis sleeve* suggests, Crossfire trades in the taut guitar-led ‘energy’ of the late 70s/early 80s, which means it’s often fast with little conspicuous virtuosity, trots out vaguely edgy anti-romantic lyrics and features slightly menacing keyboard four-beat crochets and angry barre chord riffs muffled by the player’s right hand. It’s funny, for a musician so steeped in the British progressive rock movement, Crossfire could be the product of Donnie Iris, Sniff ‘n’ the Tears or any number of enjoyable pop bands riding the coattails of the New Wave. Indeed, this very commecial sounding record might have been a hit, but, without one absolute killer, like say ‘Heat of the Moment’, it’s merely likable proficiency, though ‘Cold Is the Night’ possesses some genuine grandeur. One pound yesterday from a Hythe charity shop. SAM_0745*So what is up with that cover? In keeping with the misogyny of the times, it looks like our forlorn hero is ‘caught in the crossfire’ of some sort of bitch-fest between his icy wife and spoilt daughter. Women, eh?

Published in: on July 31, 2015 at 7:55 am  Comments (2)  

The Light of the World – Round Trip (ENVY 14) (1980)

SAM_0638Giles Peterson may have time for this sort of thing, but I’m afraid I don’t. No question about the band’s chops, but cheery jazz-funk ain’t my bag. This only cost me a pound last week at the thrift store, so I don’t feel too aggrieved, but I still had to listen to the Wailers’ Burnin’ Lp straightaways after just to get the taste of LOTW’s oh-so-tasteful take on “I Shot The Sheriff” out of my ears.SAM_0639

Published in: on February 2, 2015 at 9:39 am  Comments (3)  

The Replacements – “I Will Dare” b/w “20th Century Boy” and “Hey Good Lookin'” (TTR-8440) (1984)

SAM_0589On the precise 30th (!) anniversary of the ‘Mats breakthrough Let It Be, a reminder of what a buck could get you in the used record store bins (specifically Magnolia Thunderpussy) back in the late 80s.SAM_0590The Bolan cover is arguably better than the original, the Hank, much less so.

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rolling Stones – “Mixed Emotions (Chris Kimsey’s 12″)” b/w “Fancyman Blues” (CBS 655193 8) (1989)

SAM_0438The previous few years sniping*, non-touring and solo Lps had threatened to put paid to any new Stones product; so, when this single (and parent Lp Steel Wheels) came out, it was greeted, despite annoyingly loud drums, as a welcome comeback for the Rolling Stones. No, it wasn’t “Brown Sugar” and Sticky Fingers, but at least it wasn’t “Winning Ugly” and Dirty Work.

These days, my most vivid memories associated with Steel Wheels were of the album’s non-Lp B-sides, “Cook Cook Blues” (from the “Rock and a Hard Place” single) and the “Mixed Emotions” flip, “Fancyman Blues”. My friend Jon and I used to play these Bs at a bar a few doors down from my place on Summit Street near the OSU campus. The name of the bar escapes me at the mo’, but I’ve been told it’s since become a lesbian club, or maybe it always was and has only recently come out.

The 12″ version of “Mixed Emotions” (or “Mick’s Emotions”, as one wag put it) is jumbled and, truth be told, a bit of mess, reminding us that Sixties survivors tended to be ill-served by the 80s remix. Not a particularly valuable piece, but, for a pound, I was quite pleased to find it this morning at the Wincheap boot fair.

*Asked when the bitching between him and Jagger was going to stop, Keith Richards is supposed to have replied, “Ask the bitch.”

Published in: on June 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Special AKA – Nelson Mandela (CHS TT12 26/TT 26) (1984)

SAM_0190MANDELA SHOCK DEATHBED CONFESSION: ‘I NEVER LIKED “NELSON MANDELA”‘                                                       Freedom Fighter Found Special AKA Song Forced, Trite

(Johannesburg, South Africa) –  Calling them close for what his family assumed would final pronouncements of love, former South African president Nelson Mandela instead whispered a shock deathbed confession: “I don’t like The Special AKA’s ‘Nelson Mandela’ and I never have.”

“Obviously, I approved of the sentiment,” he sighed, managing the merest trace of a smile. “But I always found the lyrics trite and the ‘party’ air a bit forced.”

“It’s a problem with a lot of Jerry Dammers’ music, but especially The Special AKA, that tendency towards polemicism,” continued the anti-aparteid revolutionary. “Please don’t let them over-play it on the radio when I’m gone.”

With his dying breath he allowed that, “‘Ghost Town’ was awesome,” before closing his eyes for the last time.SAM_0191Editor’s Note: A couple more from a batch of records given to me a few years ago by a friend. I’ve played it a few times today to remember the great man.SAM_0192

Published in: on December 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm  Comments (1)  

Bryan Ferry – Bête Noire (V2474) (1987)

SAM_0182Cut, as they are, from much the same cloth, how you rate Bryan Ferry‘s second post-Roxy Music solo album depends very much on your opinion about Avalon, Roxy’s last studio Lp, and Boys and Girls, the singer’s previous solo record. If you regard a combination of atmosphere, groove and languidity as the height of sophistication, then Bête Noire is, indeed, a good bet. If, however, you believe Ferry’s modus operadi smacks of sterility and melody dearthness, then you’ll want to search elsewhere for your kicks. Though its silken allure begins to wane by the second song on side two, I still like it.

Co-produced by Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard to very high technical specs. Another £1 VG+ rekkid from Ashford yesterday.SAM_0183

Published in: on November 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)  

The Wonder Stuff – The Eight Legged Groove Machine (GONLP1) (1988)

SAM_0047LOCAL DRUMMER FORCES PARTY HOST TO PLAY CRAP DEMO           Attendees At OSU Campus Get-Together Humour Mediocre Percussionist, Offer Vague Critiques

(Columbus, Ohio) — Guests of Stephen Mears’ 26th Birthday party on 245 Chittenden Avenue were obliged to listen to Columbus band Jareez Kidz’ demonstration CD by the group’s drummer, Peter “Dragon” Tashoni, last night.

“This first one’s about race relations,” announced Tashoni to the assembled crowd prior to cueing up “Brothers Under the Skin”, a patronizing and listless funk workout that began the three track demo.

“Oo, listen to this bit,” Tashoni ordered as several attendees edged away. “This [breakdown] is so wicked.”

Many reported that Tashoni then played “air drums” along with his recorded performance of the band’s cover of The Wonder Stuff’s “Red Berry Joy Town”.

Clifford Snoats, the handsome and well-regarded local music critic, was not at the party but received the Jareez Kidz demo two weeks ago. He gave the disc a cursory listen and dismissed it as “typical bland, uptight college student funk”, pouring particular scorn on the drummer who he said “sounds like he’s playing with frickin’ knitting needles”.

“Put it this way,” Snoats added, “If this is funk, James Brown must be having epileptic fits in his grave.

Those who offered comment to Tashoni at the party said that the middling jam band’s CD was “uh, pretty cool” and “sound[ed] professional”. The only criticism came from Lane Avenue Camera Corner employee Eric Carter who, adopting recording studio lingua, ventured that “the vocals sound a bit buried in the mix”.

Tashoni later told reporters that, “Eric obviously doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.”

“Pete was, like, begging to play his shit-ass demo all night,” reported a disgruntled Mears. “Thank fuck it was only three songs or everyone would’ve left.”

“It totally killed the buzz,” agreed housemate and party co-host Oscar Rentz. “Fortunately, Steve quickly put on one of the party playlists we’d created back on, which got things pretty much back on track before we started hemorrhaging too many guests.”

Tashoni plans to make a copy of the disc, which was recorded at Gravity’s Angel Studios last June, for his uncle Tony, who used to play in a band once.

Editor’s Note: Not my usual style, the Wonder Stuff début offers a tough, funny take on snotty 60s Psychedelic Garage Rock, and north England folk-pop in the manner of Shack, the La’s, et al. This mint copy was bought for me a couple weeks ago a local boot fair by a client who already owns four (!) copies and cites it as his favourite record. In’t that nice?

Incidentally, does anyone else think that Hazel Pitt’s sleeve design strongly presages Intro Design’s work of the following decade? 

Published in: on July 19, 2013 at 9:18 am  Comments (1)  

Ellen Foley – Spirit of St. Louis (EPC 84809) (1981)

SAM_0033CLASH’S JONES PRODUCES NEW FOLEY LP ‘FOR A COUPLE OF BLOW JOBS’                                                                 Throws In A Few Songs For Reacharound

(London, England) – The liner notes for Ellen Foley’s new album, Spirit of St. Louis, tell an interesting story: “Produced by my boyfriend for a couple of blow jobs”.

The unusual production deal was hashed out over drinks at the Roxy nightclub in London’s Covent Garden, during which time the ex-Meat Loaf singer bemoaned the lack of a sympathetic producer. “‘I’d do it for a couple of BJs’,” the Broadway singer/actress reports Mick Jones as saying. “Well straightaway, I’m like, ‘When can I suck you off?'” The couple agreed that the Roxy men’s room was as good a place as any and commenced fellatio in short order.

It was during this first round of head giving that the Clash guitarist proposed to sweeten the deal, offering to “throw in a few songs for a reacharound”. It was no sooner said then done. The final dick smoke occurred later that night in Jones’ Manhattan hotel room.

Jones pronounced himself satisfied with the deal, though Foley giggled to friends, “the joke’s on Mick, really, I would’ve given him head for free.”

Though uncommon, this isn’t the first time sexual favours have been used as payment or part-payment for album production. According to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, he allowed George Martin and three other Abbey Road engineers to masturbate on him as compensation when recording for Please Please Me over-ran. The account, originally published in Epstein’s autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise, is disputed by both Martin and EMI studio logs which show that Epstein actually gave up royalty points in exchange for the bukkake session.
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Editor’s Note: It’s a connoisseur’s choice, but, when asked, I always cite Sandinista! as my favourite Clash album. Yes, I know London Calling, or even the US edition of the debut, are probably the better records and yet there’s something wonderful about Sandinista!‘s waywardness that sets it apart; something that says “we’re going for it here and we’re doing whatever comes into our minds”. Liberating stuff. Lately, however, I’ve begun to feel that the US 10″ of Black Market Clash might just edge the treble Lp for the top spot. It’s got the same raggediness and diversity of sound while achieving the concision of the earlier records.

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Anyhoo, I’ve seen Ellen Foley’s Spirit of St. Louis referred to as “sides seven and eight” of Sandinista! and finally got the chance last week of putting this notion to the test. Certainly it was produced by Mick Jones (aka “my boyfriend” – it actually says that on the sleeve – see the second picture – ugh!) around the same time as the Clash’s fourth long player, at the same studio with the same engineer, using the same musicians and it features several songs written by Strummer/Jones.

Fussy and commercial with nods to Foley’s kooky ‘all-round entertainer’ past, Spirit couldn’t be more different from Sandinista!; perhaps only in the sense that the Clash seemed to attempt anything and everything that took their fancy does the record make any sense on that continuum.

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Published in: on July 16, 2013 at 8:51 am  Comments (4)  

Hüsker Dü – Flip Your Wig (SST055) (1985)

Do You Remember?COLUMBUS RESIDENT ACHIEVES SENSE OF CLOSURE WITH HÜSKER DÜ 

(Columbus, Ohio) — After nearly a decade of mourning, Darren Wiggins has be able to come to terms with the death of his affection for Hüsker Dü. With the new-found sense of closure meaning that “a great burden has shifted from [his] soul” and allowed the 44-year-old video editor “to move on with [his] life”, Wiggins says he will no longer be listening to the half-formed, ostensibly pop, rants of the Minneapolis punk band.

“I’ve tried over the years, but the fact is there’s simply no spark left between me and Hüsker Dü.”

The cessation of emotional ties was bittersweet for Wiggins, who remembered with fondness the day his college chum Samuel Wenther gave him Zen Arcade for a birthday present during his sophomore year at Otterbein. “It was a sweet gesture, much appreciated,” recalled Wiggins. “But seriously, when was the last time I listened to Zen Arcade?”

“Or talked to Sammy, for that matter,” he added.

And so, with many, many better conceived and executed albums to choose from, the Columbus father of three no longer feels the compunction to cling hopefully, desperately to the remnants of his youth. “There’s so much ‘grown-up’ music out there to explore,” the beaming local man told reporters. “It really feels like I’ve finally left my young adulthood behind me.”

Wiggins cited the “same-yness of the performances and arrangements” and “the flatness of Spot’s drum production” as particular reason for his mid-life dismissal of what was once one of his favourite bands. “Both the overall ‘roar’ and Grant Hart’s drum sound are distinctive, no doubt about it,” Wiggins explained. “But over the course of an album, let alone seven, it becomes a bit much.”

“Obviously, I will be hanging on to my Hüskers records,” Wiggins added. “You know, in case I come back around to them.”

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Editor’s note: I found this and Candy Apple Grey at a chaz in Truro last year, doubling my Hüskers collection at a stroke. I still listen to them when the mood hits.

Published in: on April 24, 2013 at 7:22 am  Comments (3)