Want List: Kissing The Pink – What Noise DLX RM

Kissing The Pink are a sound collective with boundless creativity

Today is a red letter day! Our friends at Cherry Red are tempting us again with the long-sought second Kissing The Pink album on CD. I was clueless about Kissing The Pink back in the day that they manifested. I only heard them when the “One Step” video made it into the 120 Minutes music ghetto or reasonable quality… by 1985. I then made a bee-line for [then rebranded] KTP album “Certain Things Are Likely” and all of the singles that I came across. I racked up four twelve inch singles from that one, but still need that WLP 12″ of “I Won’t Wait.” I was aware of the “Naked” album but only bought it on LP by the late 90s.

Being vinyl, I never heard a note from it until I bought it on US CD some dozen years ago. I have the weird Wounded Bird pressing [see left] with the almost pointless US Atlantic Records “Kissing The Pink” EP bolted onto it that replicated four of the album’s cuts but at least had a B-side appended to the program. Back in the 80s, it was common for US record companies to release an EP of tracks from a British album they wanted to license to see how it would play in the market before releasing the full thing. A bit cautious, yes? But this was fairly common. Even The Boomtown Rats saw their “V Deep album” released here first as a four track EP called “Dancing Rats” before the sheepish Columbia Records finally showed some nerve.

By the new millennium, I was online and had sought out more Kissing The Pink information. I found myself in Toronto in 2001, and of course, I wasted no time in shopping for music there! Unlike in the early 90s, I was mostly about the vinyl that time and was highly pleased to find two Kissing The Pink 12″ singles that were from the “What Noise?” album, which I have never seen a copy of to this day. The singles were as follows:

Magnet Records | CAN | 12″ | 1984 | 12KTP 6

Kissing The Pink: Radio On CAN 12″ [1984]

  1. Radio On [12]
  2. Catherine Clarke
  3. How Can I Live?

Magnet Records | CAN | 12″ | 1984 | 12KTP7

Kissing The Pink: The Other Side Of Heaven CAN 12″ [1984]

  1. The Other Side Of Heaven [12]
  2. What Noise? [12]
  3. Big Man restless [club remix]

I have maintained the “What Noise?” album in my Discogs want list for as long as I’ve had one. I have yet to see anyone in the US selling the record; curbing my purchase due to the postage issue. Fortunately, as of today, Cherry Red has reissued the scarce album on the lovely silver disc complete with seven bonus tracks. Lets’ examine what we are served here.

Cherry Red | UK | CD | WCDMRED723 | 2018

Kissing The Pink: What Noise? UK DLX RM CD [2018]

  1. The Other Side Of Heaven
  2. Captain Zero
  3. Victory Parade
  4. Greenham
  5. Each Day In Nine
  6. The Rain It Never Stops
  7. Radio On
  8. Martin
  9. Watching The Tears
  10. Footsteps
  11. Love And Money
  12. What Noise?
  13. The Other Side Of Heaven (7″ Remix)
  14. Radio On – (12″ Version)
  15. How Can I Live
  16. Katherine Clarke
  17. The Other Side Of Heaven (12″ Version)
  18. Celestial
  19. What Noise? (Longer Version)

Everything from my pair of Canadian singles is present and accounted for, except for the “Big Man Restless” remix Magnet Canada licensed from Atlantic at the time, but now living on the DLX RM of “Naked” that Cherry Red released a few years ago. We have an additional two tracks taken from “The Other Side Of Heaven” UK 7″ single; a remix 7″ A-side and a non-LP B-side missing from the 12″ of that title. So, two thumbs up for Cherry Red’s efforts! Especially since they reveal that all tracks were sourced from master tapes, not vinyl as I would have been doing… had I ever bought a copy of the album. So this is on the want list and hopefully I can get a copy of this before it’s OOP and commanding near three figures. You may laugh, but my want list is so long, that this is the reality of it. I am busy saving for items that came out 4-5 years ago and are now selling for above retail cost. Sigh. Always playing catch up before it’s too late.

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Record Shopping Road Trip: Atlanta, April 2018

I can’t believe I was thinking of passing this store up this time…

This has been in the mental queue for over a month, and we’re finally getting around to posting on it! The last time we were in Atlanta, we did some serious shopping  at Wuxtry Decatur. By “last time” I don’t mean last weekend when we saw Graham Parker, but April, when we were taking in OMD! And it almost didn’t happen. Sure, sure. I mapped to it from our lodgings, but I was ambivalent and had to let my wife talk me into stopping in on the way out of the city after seeing OMD. Good thing too, as we had not been in the store since October of 2016, when catching Midge Ure in a dive bar.

My wife thought to ask for the now ex-post-facto OMD show poster!

I am technically trying to save up money for the Ron-Kon II trip to Los Angeles in July, when all of Ron’s buddies will be on a memorial record store crawl that will no doubt fill pages at the blog after it happens, and shopping at Wuxtry, no matter how lovely, is something that happens far more than any trips to the West Coast, which to date number one. But this was a very gratifying store to shop in, that’s for certain. My wife spied the OMD poster in the window and since it was the previous night, she reminded me to ask for it. Man, I never think of this, but whenever we see a gig, she goes for set lists and posters like the pro she is. We entered the store, asked for the poster [no prob] and proceeded to shop. my wife and I divided to conquer the store much faster.  She has been on a soul/funk/R+B kick of late and this would be a very productive visit.

Always a pleasure to see this one

As usual, we first went through the dollar bins outside of the store because the last time was so fruitful. I was happy to see a UK Dead Or Alive 12″ in a generic sleeve and my wife [who just got me Neneh Cherry’s “Homebrew” on CD a few weeks earlier, held up the “Kisses On The Wind” US 12″ and I told her “yes!” I only had the UK CD-3 from 1989 and was ready for the 5-6 other mixes not on that digital trifle. I got the Malcolm McLaren “Paris” 2xCD and an Ultimix DJ service 12″ with a mix of ABC’s “The Look Of Love.” Fingers crossed on that one, but it was only a dollar. A copy of Voice Of The Beehive’s “Honey Lingers” is always welcome and can find a new home later.

I then hit the rock CDs while my wife moved to the R+B CDs. I found the first Sylvian/Czukay CD that I still needed. Come to think of it, it was on our last trip here that I finally got “Plight + Premonition!” Surely not a coincidence? Having seen the wonderful Go-Betweens documentary recently, I was very excited to see the 2002 DLX RM of “Spring Hill Fair;” my musical point of entry to the band and priced to sell this morning. I finally indulged in some Blondie I had held off on for ages: “The Hunter” and “The Curse Of Blondie.” The former I had not owned since the Great Vinyl Purge of ’85. The latter would be my first Blondie album from the reunion era that I was skittish about. Gulp!

A great Bill Nelson EP form the era when EPs still mattered

My wife was doing some serious pulls in the R+B CDs; racking up more CDs than I was grabbing. She would float names like Cameo and for the likes of them, I was more than ready. She was also digging deep into soundtracks. I tend to exclude them from my shopping, even though I know that they are potentially filled with rare tracks by bands that I collect simply because the effort of seeing their contents takes much longer than scoping out an album or single release. And she had quite a stack.

Yow! The Bastone US promo mixes of “Rage Hard” for just $3.00!

I was happy to see the new Goldfrapp release. Now I had all of their albums, except for the problematic “Head First” since I’m not exactly nostalgic for reliving the golden era of Olivia Newton-John.  I finally got the “Dylanesque” CD by Bryan Ferry. I’ve had the DVD of that title [which I watched when home sick one day!] for many years, but lagged behind on the album itself. The Lou Reed debut CD was not a title you see new or used, and the used CD was priced well above the usual $3.00-$5.00 range here: $11.99, but when had I ever seen this? “The Good Son” was a Nick Cave title that was a must since my wife spent plenty of time watching the video for “The Weeping Song” online last year.  Yow! They also had the US 2xCD edition of “Good Humour,” my favorite Saint Etienne album! I also found in the CD single section [did I mention that I loved this store?] the last Cocteau Twins single I needed to finally complete my collection. “Violaine” CD#2. Getting those last two only took 22 years! Eventually, I moved to the vinyl while my wife took a breather and got a chai nearby.

I had never seen the UK 12″ of “Buffalo Gals!”

The 12″ stock here was rather good, if you have the Monk’s eye for import singles. “Careless Memories” is always a good sign in the bins since it was never issued in America. Our New-Ro canary in the coal mine, as it were. I was amazed to find the UK 12″ of “Buffalo Gals” by Malcolm McLaren; an artist I’ve been buying everything that I find from in the last few years. I had no idea of what any remixes of that track might sound like. I was excited to see the Freddy Bastone Island US promo mixes of FGTH’s “Rage Hard” actually in a store. That had been on my Discogs want list for so long I had grown weary of seeing it my feed, but never at just $3.00. Well, now I could buy it and cross it off the list.

There was some highly gratifying vinyl here!

I was thrilled to see the UK pressing of The Tourists’ “Luminous Basement” replete with hype sticker [and presumably the bonus 7″…] but I already had this one. As well as the reformatted US edition and [clutches heart] the 1997 JPN CD pressing of this, which Discogs tells me has overtaken my JPN “Doctor Mabuse” CD-3 by Propaganda to become the most valuable disc in my Record Cell. But who cares about Tourists albums I already own nine ways to Sunday! The John Foxx section here was crazy-sick with vinyl I needed! The first two John Foxx + The Maths albums with deluxe Jonathan Barnbrook gatefold covers as well as the John Foxx + Jori Hulkkonen “European Splendour” EP that I didn’t own in any way, shape, or form! Scandalous, I know. What a shopping trip this had shaped up to be.

The deepest bin here? Petula Clark!

I was waiting for my wife to get back so we could do any pruning before checking out. This was shaping up to be a very big outlay, but the selection and prices were in a “perfect storm” this day. I barely put 2-3 titles back, and my wife did the same. At the prices on offer, we’d be setting ourselves up for some serious regrets down the road. I could not wrap this up without mentioning, even in passing, that I was fairly blown away by the deepest bin I saw in the store. Was it Bowie? The Cure? Duran Duran? The Smiths, or some other college rock royalty? Hardly! See at left the foot and a half of…Petula Clark albums! Positively dwarfing the paltry Clash section next to it. Egads. Who knew? My wife sagely pointed out that there were a lot of gay men in Atlanta. But of course! She’s a sharp one, my wife.

Woah! When does one find one of the few Was ( Not Was) 12″ers out there… and signed by Don Was, no less?

As I checked out the manager and his second-in-command pulled the CDs, which were out-of-jewel-box. The manager noted that the “Robot Girl” UK 12″ was signed by Don Was in blue Sharpie®. Sonnuvagun. He was right. I just saw the cover and pounced. The store sagely threw in all of the dollar items as freebies. Appropriate when the tally came up to 200 smackers. Not your usual record store visit. I’ve spent this much in one store twice before. Amoeba Hollywood in 2014 and Yesterday + Today in 2002. Truly, Wuxtry, Decatur is right up there in the pantheon of Great record Stores. Here’s the list. Now you know why there wasn’t a follow-up trip there last Monday!

WUXTRY LIST:

  1. David Sylvian + Holger Czukay: Flux + Mutability – Venture – CDVE 43 – UK – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  2. Cameo: The Definitive Collection – Mercury – B0006112-02 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  3. Darlene Love: The Sound Of Love: The Very Best Of Darlene Love – Phil Spector Records – 88697 61290 2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  4. Eno/Wobble: Spinner – Gyroscope – GYR 6614-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  5. Nick Cave + The Bad Seeds: The Good Son – Elektra – 9 60988-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  6. Voice Of The Beehive: Honey Lingers – London Records – 828 253-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/gift
  7. Malcolm McLaren: Paris – Island Records – 314-524 107-2 – US – 2xCD – Wuxtry Decatur/gift
  8. Dead Or Alive: Lover Come Back To Me – Epic ‎– TA 6086 – UK – 12″ – Wuxtry Decatur/gift
  9. Various: Grosse Point Blank OST – London Records – 422-828 867-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$4.00
  10. The Delfonics: La-La Means I Love You: The Definitive Collection – Arista 07822 – 18979-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  11. Cocteau Twins: Violaine CD#2 – Fontana – CTDD 6 – UK – CD5 – Wuxtry Decatur/$3.00
  12. The Go-Betweens: Spring Hill Fair – Circus Records ‎– FYL011 – US – 2xCD – Wuxtry Decatur/$8.00
  13. Saint Etienne – Good Humour – Sub Pop – SPCD 435 – US – 2xCD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  14. Goldfrapp: Silver Eye – Mute9669-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  15. Blondie: The Curse Of Blondie – Epic – 5119212000 – OZ – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$3.00
  16. Blondie: The Hunter – Chrysalis‎ – VK 41384 – US- CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$3.00
  17. Various: Pump Up The Volume (Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)– MCA Records – MCAD-8039 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  18. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around – American Recordings – 440 063 339-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$3.00
  19. Various: In The Name Of The Father (Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Island Records – 518 841-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  20. Shirley Brown: Woman To Woman DLX RM – Stax Records – STX -33177-02 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$9.99
  21. Lou Reed: Lou Reed – BMG – 74321 727122 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$11.99
  22. Various: The Royal Tenenbaums (Original Soundtrack) – Hollywood Records – 2061-62347-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  23. Various: Pulp Fiction – Music From The Motion Picture (Collector’s Edition) DLX RM– UMG Soundtracks 088 113 002-2- US – 2xCD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  24. Various: The Darjeeling Limited (Original Soundtrack) – ABKCO – 187719240-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  25. Bryan Ferry: Dylanesque – Virgin – 0946 3 8975021 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  26. Various: Jackie Brown (Music From The Miramax Motion Picture) – Maverick – 9362-46841-2 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$3.00
  27. Various: The Crying Game (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – SBK Records – K2-89024 – US – CD – Wuxtry Decatur/$3.00
  28. Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Rage Hard – Island Records – DMD 987 – USP – 12 – Wuxtry Decatur/$3.00
  29. Malcolm McLaren + The World’s Famous Supreme Team: Buffalo Gals – Special Stereo Scratch Mix – Charisma – MALC 12 – UK – 12 – Wuxtry Decatur/$5.00
  30. Various: Ultimix 13 [disc 3 only] – Ultimix – UM-013 – US – 12 – Wuxtry Decatur/gift
  31. Neneh Cherry: Kisses On The Wind – Virgin – 96532-0 – US – 12 – Wuxtry Decatur/gift
  32. John Foxx And The Maths: Interplay – Metamatic – META28LP – UK – LP – Wuxtry Decatur/$15.00
  33. John Foxx And The Maths: The Shape Of Things – Metamatic – META29LP – UK – LP – Wuxtry Decatur/$10.00
  34. John Foxx+ Jori Hulkkonen: European Splendour – Sugarcane Recordings – SUGARS 024 – UK – LP – Wuxtry Decatur/$10.00

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Posted in Record Shopping Road Trip, The Great Record Stores | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Egads! Ron Kane Now Has A Tribute Album In His Memory

Bob Gaulke Productions | DL | 2018

Various Artists: The Record Man – A Tribute To Ron Kane  US DL/CD  [2018]

  1. Tony Backhouse, Pieter Bon, Fane Flaws, Peter Dasent, & Paul Scott: The Record Man
  2. Suely Mesquita & Marcos Kuzka Cunha: Greatest Cheeseburger
  3. Paul Scott: Unpopular Music
  4. Henk Hofstede, Tom America, & Marco Raaphorst: White Car, Blue Ocean
  5. Yamée Couture, Petite Celine: Francophonies
  6. Hans Croon: Human Heart (How can the human heart occur in the universe?)
  7. Bob Gaulke: Better
  8. Pieter Bon, Marco Raaphorst: Wat Betekent Het?
  9. Fay Lovsky: I’m Running
  10. Andrew McLennan, Peri Mason: Today’s List
  11. Fane Flaws: Ron Kane
  12. Mark Moerman, Ace Farren Ford: Manatees from Other Galaxies

After my friend Ron died last November, there was the inevitable follow-up among his friends. With no funeral, talk pointed to a get together among his many music pals which will be called Ron-Kon II, after the original Ron-Kon, held on his 50th birthday, in 2008. I little while ago it was set for the weekend of July 28th in Los Angeles. I will be attending with my friends chasinvictoria and Mr. Ware, the guy who introduced me to Ron. There will be a record store crawl and no doubt some pub action that teetotaler me won’t fully participate in.

I had also heard from chasinvictoria that there would be a Ron Kane Tribute album coming, but exactly how this would manifest was a mystery to me. Would it be musician friends interpreting songs from the Ron Kane cannon [he was the lynchpin of L.A. experimentalists The Decayes], or would it be musical tributes to the man? As of yesterday, now we know. This morning I saw a message from chasinvictoria describing the album, which is now for sale digitally, with a CD hard copy to follow around the time of Ron-Kon II, according to chasinvictoria.

How strange this is to have musicians, many of whom are known to me simply because I knew Ron Kane, having produced a tribute album to my dead friend. It’s a little surreal from where I’m sitting! When I heard of this I wondered if people I’m a huge fan of like Henk Hofstede of The Nits would be involved and he certainly is. I figured it would be a given that members of MAM like Pieter Bon and Tom America would get involved since they even had Ron perform a track on one of their albums. Pieter and his partner came over to the first Ron-Kon and performed music for the assembled masses during the big party. This fervent American fan of sub-underground Netherlander pop music apparently got noticed. Actually, he tended to travel abroad and seek these musicians out!

Fane Flaws [L] and Fay Lovsky [R]

But the artists I’m familiar with don’t stop there. Since I knew Ron, how could I not know of artists like Fane Flaws [New Zealand polymath] or Fay Lovsky [Netherlands]? Heck, I own Lovsky records solely due to Ron importing them to The States! So this album certainly has my name on it. It’s in iTunes now and Bandcamp for the DL but I will be waiting for the CD. After all… what would Ron have said about buying a download?

The single from “The Record Man” by Hans Croon

But the story doesn’t end with this Bandcamp player. There is more on the web about this project as Ron had a wide orbit in this musical world. MAM guitarist Marco Raaphorst played on the album and has written an article about it here. There has been a single released from “The Record Man” with “Human Heart” by Hans Croon, who has written a fascinating blog on how he came to this project, here. And finally, there is a podcast about this album…but you will need to be fluent in Dutch to understand it. Which is probably exactly how Ron would have wanted it. It hurts me that Ron could not live to see this fascinating work his friends have done in his memory, but that’s part of the territory of tribute albums, I suppose. As an arch record collector [I’m just a wet-nosed punk, by comparison], I can say that he certainly would have been eating this up with a spoon were he among the living right now.

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Posted in Record Collecting, Want List | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Graham Parker @ City Winery Atlanta 5-13-18

Graham Parker delivered an evening of deep cuts from somewhere in Atlanta at the City Winery

Less than a month ago, I stumbled onto the latest Graham Parker tour dates and my wife acted immediately and got us a pair of tickets for the Atlanta show last Sunday. We had almost given up the hope of enjoying him live again, but the trip to Atlanta just a month after the OMD concert there, was more than merited by the scarce Parker date! The first time we had seen Parker was in the late 90s on a solo tour at The Sapphire Supper Club in Orlando Florida. The club where we spent far too much of our time wading through the four opening acts to finally see the headliner at 1:00 A.M. The second time, was in full band mode with his pals The Figgs backing him up at Asheville’s Stella Blue club for an exciting full rock set on the back of his wonderful “Deepcut To Nowhere” album of 2001. We were fortunate enough to chat amiably with the artist following the show.

That was along time ago! This time we were playing with the grownups. The City Winery chain may be straight laced and corporate, but they also don’t abuse their patrons or artists! Far from it. They are lovely rooms ideal for adult listening. We entered the venue and stopped by the merch table. I was hoping for a GP t-shirt to add to my ensemble but alas, there were none of those. Instead I opted for a lovely signed heavyweight print of the tour poster as seen above right with the very stern image of Parker looking totally like a mafia don. And then a copy of his latest album [with The Rumour!], “Mystery Glue,” which I had not yet bought.

We introduced ourselves to the two gents at our table and got right into a pleasant conversation with these two. We spoke of record geek issues as well as the live sounds of  the Lowe/Parker/Costello axis which we all had past histories with. As it transpired, the alpha male used to be a dealer, and given the drift of the conversation, I came right out and asked him if he was Jack Wolak. The man behind many a “Jack Wolak’s Rare Necessities” catalog that I relied so heavily in that pre-web era. He wasn’t, but of course he knew of the famed dealer and had encountered him in his own record shopping travels. This gent’s store was called Neat, Neat, Neat [after the Damned song] and I swore I remembered that vendor from the golden age of Goldmine ads. It was lively conversation for all four of us and it really helped make the time before the show pass quickly.

Against all odds there was an opening act, that had not been pre-announced [and we looked because we like to know these things]. James Maddock was your basic singer-songwriter with acoustic guitar type and my wife sagely pointed out that pairing him with Graham Parker; also on acoustic guitar, was hardly the smartest booking move that one could make. This was born out by the slight tedium of the material he was performing. As soon as I heard him sing a chord, my mind was anticipating [very accurately] the next chord to issue from his lips. Given that I am not a musician by any stripe, this was not good. I’m a lay person and should not be predicting your chord sequences! His singing was in the “gritty” Bob Seger mold and the one bright spot of his set was when he ad-libbed a line from “Hollywood Nights” in his Seger-tone and laughed at his own joke.

Fortunately, the technical switch between one man playing acoustic guitar and the next one was absolutely minimal, and Mr. Parker quickly took to the stage following Maddox’s set. The packed venue [tickets were scarce when we bought ours] was full of those middle aged guys [and gals] who wanted some Parker quality music this evening and we would get served very well. Parker had an acoustic guitar that was large enough to make him look small. The venue sound was clear and rich but my wife noticed there was too much reverb on the vocals early on. Sure enough, by the second song into the set, Parker asked the engineer to douse the reverb, making the sound quality just right for the remainder of the set. Good ears there, Ms. Monk.

Parker dropped right into his third album for “Watch The Moon Come Down, ” which was a song that my wife and I had just heard on the tip down to Atlanta, as we played “Stick To Me” on the car’s CD player [how we’ll miss them when we buy our next car…]. “Stick To Me” was the album both my wife and I had first heard Graham Parker on. My high school had a promo copy in the radio station where I worked. Then the third song he played was “New York Shuffle;” another one from “Stick To Me.”  He was avoiding the obvious thus far, and his hilarious anecdotal and flat out comedy routines between numbers were highly entertaining. Parker gets that without a band it changes the dynamic of the show and he gave full reign to his sardonic wit to flesh out the evening’s show.

Ive always been a big fan of his 2001 “Deepcut To Nowhere” album. We bought it as soon as it was released and it gets a lot of play in the household. When he gave a long and hilarious intro referencing neurologist/writer Oliver Sacks that began to coalesce into what was obviously going to be an introduction to “Syphilis + Religion” I was excited to be hearing some material from my favorite GP album, which is hardly the critical go-to album from him. That would be “Squeezing Out Sparks,” which I do enjoy, [I enjoy every Graham Parker album to one degree or another] but there was something about how “Deepcut” hit me just right in 2001. “Syphilis + Religion” was definitely GP at his sardonic best!

Graham Parker has just signed with 100% Records [home to OMD, among a few others] and in advance of his album in the can being readied for a Fall release, his label just released a new digital single, “Dreamin'” at the usual online stores. This was one of the songs that he had given admirer Judd Apatow for usage on one of his many projects. Live, GP swapped out his occasional harmonica rack for something I had never seen before: a kazoo rack! It’s true. He was going to accompany himself on kazoo on this one, but not before giving us assurances that he had received the utmost in kazoo training from a zen master of the form in a rambling, shaggy dog of a setup. The kazoo stood in for the creole horn section of the original [which I bought the next day] that harkened back to his “Howlin’ Wind” style for the first time in ages, but that’s where he found himself these days.

GP also went electric

Throughout the show,  Parker would sometimes switch from acoustic to electric guitar for a little harder approach to vary the vibe a bit. One couple at a nearby table were ecstatic to hear Parker announce a tune [“Things I’ve Never Said”] from the “Your Country” album he recorded during his productive tenure with Bloodshot Records in the naughts. When he later played “Socks + Sandals” from “Deepcut To Nowhere.” it was my turn to get overly enthusiastic. I was happy to hear Parker himself describe the album as one of his favorites from his “mellow period.” It would not be the last love said recording got this evening.

Following a pair from his first two albums [which I shamefully admit I’ve never heard to this day], he then bit into “Discovering Japan,” the closest thing to a “mandatory hit” in this evening’s diverse set. While there are many virtues to GP heavy hitters like “Local Girls” or especially “Get Started, Start A Fire,” I have to admit that I was not exactly missing the tried-and-true this evening even as my wife was calling out for the latter. When he started telling a story before one particular song, I quickly realized that he was getting ready to perform one of my all time favorites of his, “I’ll Never Play Jacksonville Again.”

Quite frankly, he let the full story of that biting song unfold with the morose tale of his fateful gig at the Milk Bar that sparked the song, and the resulting standup piece [altogether more funny because it was the truth] outlasted the actual song by at least 2:1. For any gigster who has played to a floor with just two couples on it by the time you – the headliner – began to play; and then they proceeded to get into a fight [joined in with the FOH engineers who broke the melee up], there was a lot to commiserate along with GP in his hilarious intro. Of course, the song put the entire ordeal into sharp relief as a song full of musical hooks as well.

Another selection from “Sparks” was followed by one more from “Howlin’ Wind” before the artist left the stage in the packed house for all of 30 seconds. Since Parker had not played Atlanta in 15 years, he quickly came back out and served up a four song encore. Longer than his usual three songs, judging by his setlist.fm feed. The fourth song from “Deepcut” [“Last Stop Is Nowhere”] really gave that album a showcase this evening. This was followed by a pair of runes from “Sparks” which, it must be said, was just re-issued in a DLX RM last December and in evidence at the merch table. Then he peeled out “Hold Back the Night,” his Trammps cover from the “Pink Parker” EP of ’77, and with that the evening came to a finale. The crowd were on their feet giving back 100%.

GRAHAM PARKER | City Winery Setlist | Atlanta, May 13th, 2018

  1. Watch The Moon Come Down
  2. I Discovered America
  3. New York Shuffle
  4. Love Without Greed
  5. Long Shot
  6. Three Martini Lunch
  7. Syphilis And Religion
  8. Dreamin’
  9. Hotel Chambermaid
  10. Things I Never Said
  11. Evil
  12. Socks + Sandals
  13. Howlin’ Wind
  14. Lady Doctor
  15. Discovering Japan
  16. I’ll Never Play Jacksonville Again
  17. Love Gets You Twisted
  18. Back To Schooldays
  19. Last Stop Is Nowhere
  20. Protection
  21. Saturday Night Is Dead
  22. Hold Back The Night

The evening had been an excellent payback on the not inconsiderable investment of an overnight, out-of-town trip. As my wife put it when buying our tickets, “he’s not getting any younger!” Neither are we. At 67 Parker is an old pro who has somehow recorded 25 albums of material and managed to come within our orbit [or reasonably close, as in the case of this show] just three times in the last quarter century or so. I’m hoping that we might see another show of his in less than a generation the next time.

– 30 –

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Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 63]

[…continued from last post]

While we waited for the inevitable CD/DVD of the Museum of Liverpool shows to come, there were other OMD events to keep us busy in 2015. Primary of these was the February DLX RM of  their 1984 “Junk Culture” album.. This was their initial reaction to the poor selling “Dazzle Ships” album, and while it represented the new, teeth-gritted OMD, trying to re-establish their commercial fortunes, the fact was that as the first of such attempts over the next five years, it was actually a rather good album.

The real pull here was for the first time, more than just the attendant B-sides and remixes would be included in the DLX RM. The first four OMD DLX RMs were all single disc affairs, with the exception of “Architecture + Morality,” which came with a DVD. Here, the B-sides/remixes were on a second disc, with five previously unreleased tracks/versions. Monkbait! But as the first copies went to the early adopters, there was much outcry regarding the sourcing errors on the package. The distinctive original LP mix of “Tesla Girls” had been replaced with a cut similar to [but different] from the 7″ mix. The 12″ dub mix of “Julia’s Song” that immediately preceded the re-recorded version on the “Talking Loud + Clear” 12″ single was left off. “Wrappup,” the very different early version of “All Wrapped Up” before it became a soca raveup was inadvertently replaced with “All Wrapped Up” for a second time on disc two. And a different, unique] mix of “Love + Violence” was used on the album on disc one.

UMG, who held the title, reissued it with the “Wrappup” track included on disc two, but the other differences” remained. Making a copy of the original CD/LP mandatory for purists. I held off for a while since I never usually have the money to buy packages like these when they are released. When I heard of the errors,waiting became a better way forward. After a year, I got my copy with at least the “Wrappup” error repaired. Then, as a perhaps as a planned sop to the voices moaning about the missing dub mix of “Julia’s Song,” the band issued an April RSD 2015 10″ single [UK/Euro RSD only, natch] of “Julia’s Song [dub mix]” b/w “10 to 1,” the “new” song from the DLX RM. Since these RSD releases were not available in America, the prices for them, with postage from abroad were prohibitive. Since I have many [but not all] of OMD’s 10″ singles, I would like to own this one day [as well as the “Dreaming” and “The Future Will Be Silent” RSD 2014 release] , but it’s not in the cards for me yet.

Another hardcover OMD live album of a very special gig

September of 2015 brought with it the mooted live recording of the Museum Of Liverpool concert from 2014. The package was sold as a CD/DVD/book on Pledge Music; OMD’s first, but not last, partnering with the crowdsource and releasing platform. The package was rather deluxe and of course the DVD was mandatory for any like myself who could not be expected to pop over to Liverpool for the gig. Since the first night had sold out rapidly, they added another show and filmed it the second night for release.

The format of this was similar to that of the limited “Live In Berlin” with a hardcover booklet with both discs this time in a die-cut slipcase that referenced the die-cuts in the UK LP of “Dazzle Ships.” Of course, this being the 21st century, there were snafus. Apparently, the DVD had been mastered with a mono soundtrack, so buyers were sent a replacement DVD [PAL, by the way] when the replacement disc was manufactures a month later. I ordered a copy a few years ago and good thing too. It’s now going for prohibitive money in the aftermarket. I’ve [sadly, but typically] not yet viewed the live DVD, but the CD is a known quantity, and we’ll pick up there when we dive back into this slow, stately OMD Rock G.P.A. after a little break next week.

Next: …Something Dazzling

 

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Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 62]

Malcolm Holmes on the English Electric tour ©2013 Jason Debord

2013 shaped up to be a difficult year for OMD in spite of their successful “English Electric” album. While “History Of Modern” had gotten as high as #28 in the UK album charts, “English Electric” built on that new beginning to scrape the top 10 at #12. Pretty good for old guys who had seen even higher as well as much lower. OMD set off on a world tour for  the “English Electric” album that saw them playing the usual European/UK dates as well as a North American tour. The closest they were coming was Washington D.C., so I sat them out that tour. The last half of the year was a flurry of tour activity for me, so I was content to give it another go with OMD at a later date.

Onetwo… it was good while it lasted

When Paul Humphreys had linked up with Claudia Brücken in 1996, I first caught wind of their union when she and Paul mounted a tour of The States in 2000, playing their old band’s music as well as the earliest fruits of their Onetwo project. When I saw OMD in March of 2011, I told Paul that I was eagerly awaiting the live CD/DVD project he had just recorded with Claudia at the time of her “This Happened” career retrospective show at Scala just a few weeks earlier. By 2013, there was talk of the second Onetwo album that came to an abrupt halt when in March came the word from official channels that Paul Humphreys was no longer the music director on Ms. Brücken’s upcoming German tour, which was cancelled. As was their partnership on all levels.

Paul had the OMD tour to throw himself into and it proceeded as normal until July 18, when Malcolm Holmes, who had already had one heart attack prior to the OMD reunion, had a second while onstage playing in stifling heat in Toronto. His heart stopped for almost three minutes before paramedics got it going again and a grateful Holmes wisely decided that the land of the living was worth the price of no longer drumming for OMD. But this threw the future of the band into question. The rest of the tour was cancelled and OMD thankfully, had given their fans full disclosure of all of the facts as soon as possible to nip any rumors in the bud. A few weeks later, Malcolm himself weighed in on the OMD mailing list.

Edward Wadsworth – “Dazzle Ships In Drydock, Liverpool” ca. 1919

It was by the middle of 2014 when OMD announced their next move, after a year of no activity. The band had found out that the Museum of Liverpool was going to host a dazzle ship [painted for camouflage at sea] in drydock as an artist was painting a boat for the event to play upon Vorticist Edward Wadsworth’s 1919 painting. Well, Andy McCluskey didn’t wait too long before contacting the museum about perhaps creating an installation for the boat, since the dazzle ships that had inspired Wordsworth’s painting had also caught the interest of OMD designer Peter Saville, who in turn told McCluskey about them. Thus inspiring their fifth album. The museum one-upped his offer and asked if they would like to play a concert as well. Then it snowballed into a pair of fund-raising concerts for the museum that saw the band playing a set list that eschewed some of their pop hits to lean heavily on the “Dazzle Ships” album. To the point that a couple of songs that had never been played live would have their debut. These were B-side “4-Neu” and the heartbreaking “International.” I would have dearly loved to have made it there but the band wisely recorded the event for a later CD/DVD package for we fans unable to attend. And the museum got some serious fundraising activity as OMD gave back to their hometown museum. While Malcolm would not be a part of these two shows, the band brilliantly dusted off the notion of “Winston,” their reel-to-reel deck which had stood in for a drummer in their live sets prior to their hiring of Holmes. These shows would be seriously vintage OMD events.

Next: …Junk Food For Thought

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Rock GPA: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark [part 61]

OMD – English Electric | 2013 – 3.5

In the “what were they thinking” sweepstakes of OMD’s career, there have been a few misses of obvious singles, and the latest in this category was the superb ballad “Helen Of Troy.” OMD fans were apoplectic in the OMD Forum that this one was not picked for a single release. The beat was a stately hybrid of motorik and waltz time; two of OMD’s go-to time signatures. The clean synth lines were minimal here and allowed McClucskey to float above the already airy song pointedly asking this Helen if she’s happy now even though she “cries all day, and cries all night.” All the while delivering a chorus that simply stated “because I cannot cry, ever again.”

The next track was definitely the high water mark for this album. “Our System” began [and ended] with sounds the band downloaded from a NASA website of a transducer on the Voyager deep-space probe converting interstellar magnetic fields to audio. Heady stuff and deeply in keeping with OMD sci-geek cred, but of course, the song only uses that as a jumping off point metaphor. Using the heightened isolation of a deep space probe to examine the interpersonal spaces, fraught with peril, which we all inhabit.

“Across the universe
We’re broken and we’re bleeding
Pointing to the stars, stolen by degree” – “Our System”

When McCluskey stopped singing three quarters the way through the song, the last word here was given to drummer Malcolm Holmes, who offered a profound and eloquent drum solo that ultimately made this song a close relative of the similarly awe-inspiring “Joan Of Arc [Maid Of Orleans].” The choral patches that joined him in making a powerful statement of intent really took bius strip song back to the 1981 mindset they had right before making “Dazzle Ships,” which was primarily the model for “English Electric,” but not here.

It was next time for a throwback song. When the band re-used two 1981 B-sides for their 1983 “Dazzle Ships” album, it was seen as a somewhat shocking measure of something just not done on a regular basis. When Andy reached back 20 years for the tune he co-srote with Karl Bartos for the latter’s “Esperanto” album, no one seemed to mind. The new version of “Kissing The Machine” features Paul Humphrey’s partner, Claudia Brücken singing the bridge in German, but otherwise hews closely to the sound of the original version. The wailing synth lead on that song from 1993 was replicated here, and by 2013, was something of a fall-back synth patch that OMD has relied upon a great deal since. It seems to pop up a great deal.

One of the four vignettes [one can’t quite think of them as songs] was the first thing teased from the album in the form of an animated video way up front of its release. “Decimal” was  like a digital Möbius strip that piled on techno-anxiety over the course of about 90 seconds before leveling off to move forward. The rat’s nest of notifications that comprised it were deeply ironic in that they were about heralding communication, yet they only served to bury the notion of actual connection under a hellish array of datanoise.

The last album lacked a Paul Humphreys song, but this one had the missing element, but “Stay With Me” was the weakest track here. I like it a little better with five years of listening to it under my belt, but of all the songs here, this was the one that underwhelmed. The tendency of commercial phase† OMD to indulge in schlagerpop for their not insubstantial German audience, has been somewhat unfortunate.

The melody was a bit precious, but it was ultimately the lyrics that undermined this song the most for me. Andy McCluskey and James Watson had written the music in the 90s but had never used it and Humphreys made it his own with lyrics that seemed to reference a breakup with talk of “if only I could stop those tears” and “stay, why don’t you stay?” As it turned out, Andy McCluskey took me to task over this opinion on the OMD Forum, citing the song as actually being about Humphreys losing his daughter after his divorce from his wife Maureen back in the 90s. Fair enough. Clarity from the artist never hurts, but I still stick to my opinion on the merits of the song itself.

Things bounced back dramatically with the second single from the album. “Dresden” seemed, on the face of it, to be another song about a devastating war history event, like “Enola Gay,” but that was just a powerful metaphor. Here, McCluskey compared the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany to the devastation caused by a breakup. Most likely, his then-recent divorce.

“Torn the children far away and
Burned the house where they once played
This terrifying wall of pain
Is pouring down upon me once again” – “Dresden”

The lyrics were visceral as they really put across the agony of the split in the most vivid of terms. Musically, the song was a complete throwback to the classic OMD sound with not only an instrumental chorus [!], but the bass guitar McCluskey plied the tune with gave it a hint of the “Enola Gay” bass line even as the topline melody and synth referenced The Tornadoes 1962 proto-technopop hit “Telstar,” which OMD had covered in their earliest period. That had never been released, but the original version of their website once hosted a file of it for listening. “Dresden” was one of OMD’s most powerful singles and the remix by John Foxx + The Maths made the fantastic song even stronger.

The last of the “vignettes” here was the most substantial. “Atomic Ranch” took its name from the Mid-Century Modern design magazine [see: Right], and the conceit of the track was a lament for the ultramodern [and very bright] future that never materialized. In a way, it was the succinct thematic précis of the whole album. All of the vocals were synthetic text-to-voice synthesis as the layers of sound overlapped and the tension built up until, in the album’s biggest concession to the “glitch aesthetics” that Andy was playing up in the buildup to the writing of the album on the OMD Forum really only came to bear as the track suddenly melted down at its end into squelchy tech-noise. It was telling that the lyrics pined for a “perfect life” with two kids, a yard, and a robot wife to make it all perfect. In that sense, the revival of “Kissing The Machine” made a chilling kind of sense.

Then the album served up its final meditation with the bleakest of songs that McCluskey had ever written. “Final Song” was built on a mild-mannered rhythm box samba intercut with female voice count off and “un-huh” samples that enhanced the Latin sound as Andy crooned the lyrics as gently as he could, insuring maximum dissonance between the genteel music bed and his impossibly grim lyrics, which only offered the direst of scenarios.

“Burn the pins in the voodoo doll
Dripping lies and vitriol
Cursing the years that you stayed too long
Singing the words of the final song” – “Final Song”

“At night when everything is quiet
The old house seems to breathe a sigh
Lonely house, lonely” – “Lonely House”

The coda of the song was sampled from the song “Lonely House” as sung by Abbey Lincoln from 1959 [see Left]. The song was written by Kurt Weill and poet Langston Hughes and McCluskey had been obsessed for almost 20 years with ways to incorporate songs of African American singers with his music; usually to ill effect [see: “The Gospel Of St. Jude” and “Sometimes”], but in this instance the effect came off without a hitch. The haunting jazz song used as the coda added a contrasting pensive mood to the violent imagery of the verses.

The placement of this song following the devastating lamentation that was “Dresden” allowed for it to be the dark calm after the storm. The writer was alone in an empty house with only his dark mood for company. The subtexts of loneliness, painful divorce and separation from lover and children not only flow just below the surface of almost all of the songs here, they occasionally spill into the light, imparting a painful emotional recoil from the hurt it documents.

This was my reading of it, since I was aware of the divorce issues that had occurred prior to its recording, but when asked directly about it in the OMD Forum, McCluskey admitted that it was the inescapable fabric running through the entire album as its painful subtext. It did make for a very coherent piece of art from the group. While at the time I lamented the sonics of the soft synth recording and even its somewhat brickwalled mastering on CD, with time, I have come to put those issues to the side and appreciate this album for the power and strength of its message. It certainly represented a consolidation and forward movement from “History of Modern,” with the closest thing to a misstep being “Stay With Me,” which certainly at least fit the thematic unity here while being a fundamentally stronger piece of music than the three poor tunes on “History Of Modern.” I did not listen to this incessantly as I did “History Of Modern” but that album had brought back OMD from limbo with ten strong tunes and was better than anything done since “Dazzle Ship” to these ears. At the time of “English Electric’s” release, Andy was of the opinion that OMD had plateaued and could do no better, but I think that he was wrong. Their next album would put even this one in the shade, but not before some archaeology of OMD’s roots to be explored further occurred.

Next: …Disaster Strikes

† I maintain everything done after “Dazzle Ships” as being from OMD in their “commercial phase.”

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