A Young Person’s Guide To: Thompson Twins – In The Name Of Love US LP/CD

Thompson Twins 82

The more vibrant 7-person Thompson Twins lineup made two albums that became one in America

I first heard Thompson Twins like most “hip” Americans. In the summer of 1982 I was hearing “In The Name Of Love” a lot on college radio. The single would go on to be the Billboard “dance single” of the year 1982 but the band never crossed over into the pop charts just yet. I had read an interview with Steve Lillywhite in Trouser Press magazine where he talked up producing the second album by Thompson Twins; calling them “psychedelic African music.” I guess that came as close as anything in describing their “large collective” band-era sound. There were a lot of guitars and five people credited with percussion! It was in the fall of 1982 [if memory serves] that I finally saw their album, “In The Name Of Love,” in the stores and bought it forthwith.

Arista ‎| US | CD | 1988 | ARCD 8244

Thompson Twins: In The Name Of Love US CD [1988]

  1. In The Name Of Love [12″ Dance Extension – 5:39]
  2. Living In Europe 3:30
  3. Bouncing 2:30
  4. The Rowe 6:26
  5. Make Believe 3:23
  6. Runaway 3:13
  7. Another Fantasy 3:58
  8. Fool’s Gold 3:20
  9. Perfect Game 4:26
  10. Good Gosh 3:08

I bought the LP and listened to it for years, but in 1988, I bought the US CD of that album which replaced the LP in my Record Cell. It was obvious that US Arista was playing the sort of games that US labels who licensed UK music often did; making a patchwork compilation album from disparate sources for the US market. Even pre-internet I found out that the two original albums by the Thompson Twins large band were issued in ’81/’82 and were as follows.

Fame ‎| UK | LP | 1981 | FA 41 3074

Thompson Twins: A Product of…Participation UK LP [1981]

  1. When I See You 4:05
  2. Politics: 2:24
  3. Slave Trade 3:28
  4. Could Be Her…Could Be You 3:50
  5. Make Believe 3:20
  6. Don’t Go Away 3:05
  7. The Price 4:28
  8. Oumma Aularesso (Animal Laugh) 3:02
  9. Anything Is Good Enough 2:34
  10. A Product Of… 3:52
  11. Perfect Game 4:25
  12. Vendredi Saint 3:10

I finally tracked down a copy of the Thompson Twins debut album some time in 1993 during a run to Vinyl Fever in Tampa. I found this LP in the dollar bins which were overflowing with copious amounts of desirable releases. I bought this with the eye towards making my own CD of it as the technology was reaching affordability very soon. So that gave me the two tracks on the “In The Name Of Love” CD from the debut album. What about that second album that Steve Lillywhite had mentioned producing?

Hansa International ‎| Mexico | LP | 1982 | LA-470

Thompson Twins: Set MEX LP [1982]

  1. In The Name Of Love 3:50
  2. Living In Europe 3:27
  3. Bouncing 2:32
  4. Tok Tok 2:27
  5. Good Gosh 3:06
  6. The Rowe 6:31
  7. Runaway 3:29
  8. Another Fantasy 3:59
  9. Fools Gold 3:22
  10. Crazy Dog 3:47
  11. Blind 4:56

Sine “Set” had been mostly released in America, it was a tough nut to crack! I only ever saw a copy of this album in Portland in 2008. At one of the many record stores we visited during Ron-Kon I, I came across the Mexican copy that was the first copy of “Set” to ever hit the Record Cell… but not the last. As we can see, seven of the eleven songs were present and accounted for. Americans only got the LP mix of “In The Name Of Love” on 7″ single, but I’ve never seen one of those. The US 12″ version was ubiquitous… but I never had one of those since the US LP featured the 12″ A-side.

T Records | UK | 12″ | 1982 | TEE 124

Thompson Twins: In The Name of Love UK 12″ [1982]

  1. In The Name Of Love [12″ Dance Extension 5:39]
  2. In The Beginning 3:15
  3. Coastline 3:38

Being a purist, I opted for the original UK 12″ single. The music was the same but the cover was a 2-color variant on the big budget US 4-color 12″ sleeve. I had just started buying Thompson Twins rarities on 12″ about 18 years ago with an interest in getting the very scarce indie 7″ material and singles from the first and second UK albums, which I had never seen before! I bought less than a handful of these records [not at great expense] before the Edsel DLX RMs of “A Product Of …Participation/Set” in a 2xCD with a generous complement of bonus tracks were released in 2008 to my general relief. If I could have sourced copies of every single mix and rarity for the first two album period of Thompson Twins, I would have been looking at a copious amount of money! I think the 2xCD cost me under $10 online!

To this day they are my favorite period of Thompson Twins. While, yeah, I am a “synth guy,” sometimes synthesizers are not the most interesting way forward. It’s not like “Set” was bereft in the synth department as any album with Thomas Dolby guesting in 1982 would feature top notch playing. But all of the natural percussion and the guitars/sitars that the multi-culti inclined early Twins favored just sounded more complex and rewarding to their later, synth-dominant trio period. And when the whole thing was produced by producers like Dennis Bovell, Mike Howlett, and Steve Lillywhite it just sounded richer to these ears.

– 30 –

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Record Review: Head Noise – Uber-Fantastique UK CD/DL

Head Noise have followed in the footsteps of Der Plan, who are the only other band who’d perform live with microwave oven headgear!

Last spring, Mitchell Tennant, the vocalist of the Welsh New Wave Art/Punk band Head Noise sent me a note on the contact form wondering if I might be interested in their new EP and I checked them out on Bandcamp and felt that they had the right stuff, but I sadly got distracted. As if you couldn’t tell, I don’t plan this blog out too carefully and usually decide the day of posting what the subject I’ll write about will be. As a simple primate attracted to shiny things, for every five posts that I ultimately write about, there is at least one that slips through the cracks. A fleeting, evasive notion. And thus it was with the music of Head Noise. To no one’s benefit. Thankfully, Mr. Tennant gave me another chance and used the form again and this time I made up for my blunder.

Head Noise Welch new wave electropop

Head Noise | UK | CD/DL | 2019

Head Noise: Über-Fantastique UK CD/DL [2019]

  1. Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors
  2. 200,000 Gallons Of Oil
  3. Japanese Batteries
  4. Anatomically Correct Shuffle
  5. Mystery Liquid
  6. Airstrike 4000
  7. Nitro
  8. Shrunken Head
  9. Intruder-esque
  10. I Eat Cannibals [yes, that “I Eat Cannibals”]
  11. Mr. Everywhere
  12. No Photo | No Film | No Telephone
  13. Comply
  14. Gamma Guts

Like anyone else these days, Head Noise stepped out all guns blazing with
“Kingdom Of Crooked Mirrors.” It was an indie/disco/synthpop throbber not a million miles away from a track vibe like that of “The Walk” by The Cure. The buzzy, squelchy synths and four-to-the-floor beats made certain to get one’s attention while the vocal was delivered in a jovial, tone that vacillated between song and sprechtgesang. The band were the furthest thing from dour Post-Punk provocation [as much as we love it]. Instead, this was a band built around the sheer fun that New Wave was capable of delivering. Especially in the hands of wiseguys.

The electropop on offer here was danceable and upbeat with more than a bit of Mark Mothersbaugh’s attitude in the declamatory vocals, while not sounding a bit like the DEVO singer. The buoyant cartoonishness of tracks like “200,000 Gallons Of Oil” also pointed to a band who wore the mantle of DEVO more strongly: Martini Ranch. But they never forgot to build a serious groove. The interest of the band in obviously having surreal fun in their pursuit of rubbery New Wave tuneage.

“Japanese Batteries” began as a deliberately dinky minimal synth construction that gradually built up in sonic heft to end on a synth-punk climax with the wall of synths vying with some crunchy guitar chords to pack a wallop. More guitar laid the muscular foundation for the great “Airstrike 4000” with the drum machine and synth drone giving way to slashing chords on the chorus with some Theremin lines adding eerie tension to the vibe. Why not sample below?

I loved the witty/surreal lyrics to “Shrunken Head” that referred to Harlan Ellison’s nightmarish short story “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” yet managed to also reference Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” And Picasso’s greatest hit. Head Noise were nothing if eclectic.

“Your face shows ‘Guernica’
Smothered in blueberry jam
Pillars catch fire here
So please replace via hologram.” – “Shrunken Head”

Cat Southall – you can certainly imagine this lady guesting on “I Eat Cannibals,” yes?

Guests Deep Hum contributed a great glitchy outro to the motorik tritone of “Intruder-esque.” Things almost got serious for a moment there and then they pulled a minimal synth cover of Toto Coelo’s infamous New Wave novelty “I Eat Cannibals!” The time the cover version was a duet between the band and guest vocalist Cat Southall as shown at left. Not just any band can go to such a goofy extreme without getting egg on their faces. It actually came off a lot better for being a mixed gender duet this time out as this version had a call and response feel to the song that fit the lyrics like a fingerless glove.

I really loved the urgent blank verse art punk feel of “No Photo | No Film | No Telephone.” This was definitely the kind of sound that only NewWave acts were capable of exploring. But the minimal synth leads over the frantic rhythm box had a very familiar ring to it; what was this one reminding me of? I swear it was an early 80s Rush synth coda of some sort! Could it be that Head Noise were the band who would dare to bridge the stylistic chasm between Rush and Toto Coelo??! The penultimate song “Comply” was a perky blend of the band’s most political lyrics and the cheerful vibe of the verse structure of Lipps Inc’s “Funkytown” for maximum brain warpage.

Head Noise were a band who, judging by their promo photos, think that a world where “rock stars” wore wraparound monovisor shades or microwave ovens on their heads in performances was their kind of place. This placed them somewhere between The Rezillos and Der Plan on the conceptual fashion scale, which is a fantastic place to be. Their electrodiscopop ala Telex crossbred with deliberately surreal lyrics and Brechtian delivery insured that no one would ever think to look to them as beacons of “authenticity.” Thank goodness.  A DL in any format will set you back £6.00 [$7.67] but the band also have “hard copy” with a CD of their self-produced debut for just £2.00 more. They threaten to also make a limited edition USB drive with a magnet, sticker, badge, and live bootleg but there’s no word when that will be available. So keep one eye on their Bandcamp store. The album got released last Friday so why not purchase here? We need more bands plowing this sort of technopop furrow with such playful, yet pointed wit.

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Core Collection Twofer: OMD and Simple Minds To Tour OZ + NZ in 2020

Simple Minds and OMD live

This is the second tour that Simple Minds and OMD have undertaken together. They previously toured England in 2008.

Yesterday, I was poking around simpleminds.com to [finally] purchase the 4xCD version of “Live In The City of Angels” when I saw good news on the home page. Simple Minds were once again teaming up with OMD for a tour with the synth quartet accorded “Special Guest” status. This is not the first time that these two great tastes have tasted great together. In 2008, before the triumphant “Graffiti Soul” album was released, Simple Minds mounted a UK tour with OMD as special guests. At the time OMD were just beginning to triangulate into writing and recording new music. Now they have three strong new albums under their belts and had recently matched Simple Minds recent Top 5 ranking in the UK album charts with their own “Punishment of Luxury” album in a amazing replay of the early 80s [minus all of the money].

Given that these two bands have had turbulent histories that have seen them existing over 40 years after their initial formations [true, OMD did table things for a decade] and have certainly had their ups and downs, it is perhaps fitting that they link up again when both acts have had strong modern albums and a return to the commercial spotlight. We’ve managed to see them separately last year as noted here and here. But this time we’ll be even more thousands of miles from the action as the two are touring Australasia [New Zealand and Australia, at least – sorry New Guinea] during the Southern Hemisphere summer in December 2020. The dates go on sale on the 18th of November, 2019 and here’s where they are playing.

SIMPLE MINDS + OMD | OZ + NZ Tour | 2020

Nov 26 | Perth, Australia | Kings Park & Botanic Garden [w/Eurogliders]
Nov 28 | Yarra Valley, Australia | Rochford Wines [w/Eurogliders]
Dec 1 | Melbourne, Australia | Margaret Court Arena
Dec 3 | Sydney, Australia | First State Super Theatre
Dec 5 | Hunter Valley, Australia | Bimbadgen [w/Eurogliders]
Dec 6 | Brisbane, Australia | Sirromet Wines [w/Eurogliders]
Dec 9 | Christchurch, New Zealand | Horncastle Arena
Dec 11 | Wellington, New Zealand | TSB Bank Arena
Dec 12 | Auckland, New Zealand | Villa Maria [w/Eurogliders]

Eurogliders are a great Oz pop-rock band that I enjoyed in the 80s

That’s a very warm way for the band to spend leading into Christmas 2020. And a third of the dates are for New Zealand. Impressive! Also impressive was the local act that will be playing on the bill on about half of the dates. Eurogliders were a band that I had enjoyed and even taped during the Oz Aid prelude to Live Aid [that was more interesting] that MTV showed in the wee small hours before Live Aid happened. I have a copy of their first US release, a massively re-jigged “This Island” and can say that this is a lineup I’d be happy to experience. Both OMD and Simple Minds are doing valedictory laps right now what with their concurrent [more or less] 40th anniversaries having already happened, so I’m imagining that this will be about massive hit power with less emphasis on their last albums. That’s a pity as they each had such strong work.

Simple Minds and OMD live in Australia poster

Look at that poster – OMD’s font is the same point size! Very sportsmanlike!

Any Antipodean reading these words on a regular basis should probably think about attending. As we now have to buy any tickets a full year in advance, act smartly. Tickets available here and members of A Day On The Green can get general admission for these huge outdoor spectacles at the tony wineries hosting the tour for as little as AU$109, with the top end going for AU$249. Seems about right for bands of that caliber but your mileage may vary. I know that I paid about as much just to get seats for the last Simple Minds tour but hope to never go through that again.

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Record Review: The Cars – Candy-O US DLX RM [part 3]

candy-O reference slides

The reference photos of actress Candy Moore used to paint the cover

[;continued from last post]

That organ sound was also at the forefront of the driving “Got A Lot On My Head” and this time it was joined by squelchy, squirting DEVO-esque synths that lurched throughout the song. In 1979 could a song like this be said to be Peak New Wave? The thought made sense to me. It came to another cold ending conclusion for maximum impact.

Then the album sauntered across the finish line with the sequel to “Night Spots” called “Dangerous Type.”  This made for a hat trick of Farfisa New Wave tracks with the sound of “96 Tears” cheek by jowl with the glam rock chug of T-Rex’s “Bang A Gong [Get It On].” [as it was known in America to any of the pedantic Brits reading this]. The song was actually finished by the 3:00 point but seeing as it held the ultimate position on the album it was allowed the luxury of a 90 second coda to reach for the necessary gravitas. At a still trim 4:31 it was the longest song here.

The DLX RM then had another six tunes to flesh it out. The monitor mix of “Let’s Go” has some, but not all, of the earmarks of the final arrangement for our examination. The vocal has a casual quality to it, and the engineer has de-emphasized it in this mix. Crucially, Ben Orr [or perhaps the producer Roy Thomas Baker] had not yet arrived at the notion of delivering the vocal hook on the line “she’s so beautiful now, she doesn’t wear her shoes” by rising an octave on the last two words. And now we know why this was just a monitor mix.

Several songs were recorded at Northern Studios in addition to the final material, which was recorded in Cherokee Studios. The Northern Studios version of the title track featured a great vocal by Ben Orr, and a rare instance of the bass being high in the mix [it’s almost nonexistent on the album] but the distinctive sequencer hook running through the song was not there, and Elliot Easton’s solo was obviously in rough draft form here. “Night Spots” was very close to the form it eventually took. The vocoders were not there, but the Northern recording was 30 seconds longer.

Similarly, the great “Lust For Kicks” monitor mix also buried Ocasek’s vocal and emphasized the band playing, and it was also 30 seconds longer owing to a Greg Hawkes solo in the number’s coda. The Northern take on “Dangerous Type” revealed that the song was just fine at 3:30 but it never would have passed muster as the final song had it been that brief. Giving it some room in the album was the right decision. But the guitar boogie dominated the song without the keyboard Farfisa melody lines to offset it. That was an important addition to the song.

Rhino Records | US | 2xCD | 2002 | R2 75700

Finally, two songs not on the original album ended the program. “They Won’t See You” was one of the early songs that showed up in demo form on the DLX RM of “The Cars.” Here it was a more finished recording that was very hooky New Wave that was nonetheless discarded as the notion was to write new material going forward and to jettison the older, unused material [with the exception of “Night Spots” which was just too damn great to lose, in my opinion]. I found it stronger than the one non-LP B-side here, but the somewhat annoying backing vocals were a demerit for sure.

Finally, the non-LP B-side of “Let’s Go” was finishing up this CD. “That’s It” had a loaded title, considering how slight the tune was in comparison to “They Won’t See You.” Ben Orr took lead vocal duties as he had on the A-side but since all of the songs here were Ocasek numbers, maybe Ric was being expansive with the vocal duties in recompense for no Orr-penned songs this time.


I have to say that time has been very kind to this album. We all know the debut forwards and backwards, right? It’s a classic for a reason. And the less loved third album “Panorama,” somehow made a lasting impression on me with very few plays, comparatively. Even so, I was prepared to have a dim view of “Candy-O” that was absolutely not merited by the actual music it had to offer. To use a Prince metaphor, if “The Cars” was “Purple Rain” then “Candy-O” was their “Dirty Mind.” Some might think that “Heartbeat City” was their “Purple Rain” but that’s only true if we regard the sales success. I’m talking about the artistic success.

Quite frankly, I think that many of their best songs were on offer on “Candy-O.” The debut was forward thinking pop rock that flirted with New Wave but this album makes a real commitment to that genre. The synths didn’t dominate heavily but they shared the melodic development of the music 60/40 with the guitars. Elliot Easton let Hawkes do most of the heavy lifting; preferring to be a team player until his concise, vibrant solos were given the spotlight. His tone shifted throughout the album, making the solos eclectic but well worth the 2-4 bars he was given to use.

The album that followed sounded like they had been listening to lots of DEVO and they ran with it. Only to see a precipitous fall off in sales and popularity. Then the triangulated back to a safer form of pop rock that I had little interest in listening to going forward. “Shake It Up,” “Heartbeat City,” and “Door To Door” were albums I’d only ever heard the music videos for. The Cars had not been very central to my listening but after 1980, they were less than that. But “Candy-O” was a much more interesting album than my overall memory had painted it as. Sure, sure. “Shoo Be Doo/Candy-O” was amazing, and made a huge impression, but there were some other very strong deep cuts here to flesh out the album. “Night Spots” and “Double Life” in particular showed the band moving deep in to the New Wave genre. Quite frankly, I can’t think of any track by anyone, be they New Wave or Post-Punk, that competes so strongly with the likes of “Warm Leatherette” for a neck-snapping level of sonic violence as did “Shoo Be Doo.” I doff my Aztec Energy Dome in awestruck reverence.

– 30 –

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Record Review: The Cars – Candy-O US DLX RM [part 2]

The Cars in 1979

Ben Orr – “Well, it worked for Sting…” as Ric averted his gaze

[…continued from last post]
After the last 90 seconds of “Double Life” chugged away in a static fashion, there was a violent crossfade to a song with a much more frantic tempo. “Shoo Be Doo” was an homage to Suicide; built upon a jittery rhythm box after it had obviously hit the amphetamines. Singer [and number one Suicide fan] Ocasek delivered his terse, haiku-like lyrics slathered in the slapback echo beloved of rockabilly singers… and Alan Vega. The brief, shocking number seemed more like a dub of a Cars song by Suicide than a song itself. With “Shoo Be Doo,” the band clearly slammed their collective feet down hard on the pedal and accelerated to a strange place where they would never venture again. But for those 92 seconds, it was pure thrill ride! The insane dub reverb loop [possibly courtesy of an AMS DMX 15-80 digital delay] of Ocasek freaking out at the song’s climax repeated four times before the hard splice into the album’s title track sounded so inhuman; so thrilling, that it became the standard against which I would forever measure The Cars. And ultimately, find them wanting.

“Candy-O” was a sizzler of a song that managed to follow on to “Shoo Be Doo” and not sound deflated. Which is quite a feat! In fact, this taut little number should have been a single instead of the devastating deep cut that it was. Ben Orr’s vocals were dryly distant and I loved how it was built on a sequencer loop. The impact of Moroder two year earlier having obviously even touched upon forward thinking US rock bands like The Cars. The squelchy synth loops suggested DEVO, and not for the first time with this band. Best of all was the frantic solo that Elliot Easton laid down in the two bars allotted to him. He sounded like he was gleefully channeling Eddie Van Halen in a vastly different context. The cold ending brought “side one” to an abrupt end but not a second was wasted on this CD as we moved immediately to the next song.

“Night Spots” continued the incredible seam that had begun in the middle of “side one” to dive deep in to the dark heart of this album. The synth riff rondo was a grabber and the vibe here suggested the dark flipside to “Let’s Go” which had begun the album. But that was just kids playing. The minor key synth leads from Greg Hawkes, as well as other dissonant elements poking through the music suggested something more adult and dangerous. The thrill of night clubbing but with the degradation and fall from grace just around the bend foreshadowed in the tense music. If The Cars were America’s answer to Roxy Music as some have posited, then this was their “For Your Pleasure” track. All matte black and chrome to contrast with the brightly lit cover. The clouds had to break, and they did for “You Can’t Hold On Too Long,” the least interesting song here since “Since I Held You.”

Fortunately, the winsome “Lust For Kicks” sported not only a great title, but a great Farfisa-like mono synth line courtesy of Hawkes. It’s telling that the generation of rock keyboardists who were born in the 50s and were teens when the Farfisa organ ruled garage rock for about a year and a half, came of age as musicians among the Emersons and Wakemans who ruled the 70s. Once those dinosaurs were deposed, the New Wave that followed was most definitely built upon the cheap cheerful Farfisa sound of the mid 60s. Players like Steve Nieve, Johnny Fingers, and even Hawkes all arrived there in ’78-’79 and this keyboard sound was the clarion call of New Wave. Perhaps the least Prog manner to coax sound out of a keyboard. I know that was one of the factors that attracted me to New Wave since “96 Tears” was my number one childhood rock song.

Next: …Gimme Danger

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Record Review: The Cars – Candy-O US DLX RM [part 1]

 

Elektra ‎| US | CD | 2017 | R2 560031

The Cars: Candy-O DLX RM US CD [2017]

  1. Let’s Go
  2. Since I Held You
  3. It’s All I Can Do
  4. Double Life
  5. Shoo Be Doo
  6. Candy-O
  7. Night Spots
  8. You Can’t Hold On Too Long
  9. Lust For Kicks
  10. Got A Lot On My Head
  11. Dangerous Type
  12. Let’s Go [monitor mix]
  13. Candy-O [Northern Studios version]
  14. Night Spots [Northern Studios version]
  15. Lust For kicks [monitor mix]
  16. They Won’t See You [Northern Studios version]
  17. That’s It [B-side “Let’s Go”]

When I received this CD as a birthday gift recently, I was most interested in revisiting the second Cars album. The first album I had been exposed to continually on the FM-Rock of 1978 so I knew it forwards and backwards. I’ve had the 2xCD DLX RM for many years now. I once owned this album on LP as well as the less successful followup, “Panorama.” The latter album didn’t get played a lot, but the songs themselves had enormous staying power. Looking at the titles almost 40 years later, it was effortless to recall each song. “Candy-O” was more of a mystery. I only owned a copy for four to five years before it met its fate in The Great Vinyl Purge of 1985. Since The Cars were a very popular group who got airplay, my attention was more focused on the core collection bands I favored in the late 70s/early 80s [you know the drill: Ultravox, JAPAN, OMD, John Foxx…] to the exclusion of bands like The Cars who I was less invested in.

The Cars - Let's Go French 7" PSThe album began with its biggest hit right in the pole position. “Let’s Go” was the band’s first Top 20 hits, and looking back, it’s almost scandalous that for all of the airplay the first album got, they never cracked the Top 20 with any of its singles. This time they made it all the way to #14 in the US Billboard survey. It was a streamlined pop hit with the requisite New Wave backbeat that was all the rage in the late 70s. Greg Hawkes synth hook was direct and memorable so they were going for a hit here. At least they got a reasonable one with it. The production by Roy Thomas Baker was clean and less overstuffed with his penchant for stacked harmonies this time around. If the lyrical concerns of a guy obsessed with a teenaged girl who holds him at arm’s length was a little cliché, the band’s solid performance counted for something.

While all of the songs here, with the exception of “Night Spots” were fresh material written after the first album came out and was a hit, I would have sweared that “Since I Held You” had been something that had been kicking around since 1975 or so in the Ocasek or Orr notebooks. It sounded very pre-punk in its demeanor. As it sounded less modern than the first album, that left it the odd one out, here. The second single was another Orr-sung tune. “It’s All I Can Do” with hooky stop-start rhythm a lazy melody line that I can’t decide if it is a guitar or a synth. The plaintive pop of this one stalled just outside of the Top 40 at #41. That was America’s loss.

“Double Life” was where things started to get more interesting. Until I was reading about this album, I had no idea that this was even a single in America at all, but it was in several other territories, including Japan, from there the sleeve image next to this paragraph came from. It’s been noted that The Cars were sort of America’s answer to Roxy Music. Yeah, so they had glammed out femmes on their sleeves, it’s true, but on this track is where the depth of that notion takes root. As much as Roxy pioneered post-modernism within rock, The Cars proved to be adept students of the masters since “Double Life” was very much the sound of the band mixing and matching from various eras of rock to create a brilliant pastiche of a loping, Everly Brothers sort of tune, right down to the lazy guitar lines of Elliot Easton at a little over a minute into the song. Yet the first two lines of the lyric had been cribbed from beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Lost Parents” and the song had its jaunty pace down to the CR-78 rhythm box that just chugged away as it does. And Ben Orr was playing bass synth further pulling the eras being referenced like taffy. Like Roxy Music, this song proffered the 50s, 70s, and prefigured the 80s coming like a freight train.

Next: …Suicide Is Painless

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Second Record Show In As Many Months Delivers Exactly To Expectations

A record show in a brewery?

A record show in a brewery? It must be Asheville.

A month ago I went to a record show and even as I was walking out of that one, I was aware that there would be another one on November 2nd! Years may pass between record shows in my sleepy hamlet, but the hipster vinyl wave must be still cresting because they managed to fit another one into a brewery this time. Beer and “vinyls” together?! That makes for hipster-bait in this town! The occasion was to mark the 10th anniversary of Asheville’s 103.3-FM, the community radio station that I have ignored for ten years. I was involved for a short time with helping to start up WPVM-FM, the newer station’s predecessor, before I managed to get employed and thus unable to make all of those 9:00 a.m. meetings. But as a rule, I have completely ignored radio in North Carolina.

When I entered the space with my friend, I was amazed at how much the place resembled a Bond-Villain® techno-lair. As I recall, one Dean Martin Matt Helm® opus did feature a villain who brewed beer as his cover, so I’m not far off base. As we got there at 10:50, and the show was a fund-raiser for the station, we got buttonholed into paying the $10 “early admission”scam. This was something I used to do in the 80s when I was still a member of the “hip” record collecting demographic. When the show was catering to my tastes strongly, then it sort of made sense to pay more to get an edge against your “competition” on the floor for those thousands of records and CDs. This is no longer the case! Whatever is selling best at shows now is of no concern to me any more. It hasn’t been for decades. I couldn’t just say “no” and step outside for seven more minutes to pay the recommended $3.00 door donation for the station. I’m cheap, but not that cheap! We were given our swag bags [sort of like a V.I.P. ticket generally provides], and we were inside.

Of course I started here – like a fool!

I expected that most of these vendors would be re-hashes of the ones who had been at the last show, and I was mostly right. The gent I spoke to at such length that time, had to step down for a family issue at the last minute and so he would not be here today. As usual, I first looked at the local dealer who always has his “80s + New Wave” bin out in front like the Monk-bait that it is. And every time I get caught looking even though there has never been a single record in it that I would ever care to buy. I mean, you can see the dreaded Men At Work “Business As Usual” LP sticking up as if to mock me! If that lame album is your standard of New Wave then any vendor proffering such a box is doomed to failure in seeking my pocket money. Memo to self: stop falling for this trick at the next show!

These were the lone CDs for sale here; Evidence of the ongoing digital pogrom of my format of choice.

There was only a single table with one bin of familiar krautrock and prog titles in it. I recall this from the last show but I can’t afford to pay $25 for JPN pressings of La Düsseldorf CDs, no matter how badly I need them. I will pay domestic new prices [“$12-$15] at most.

Always a rare flower

In the corner was a dealer that my friend Jacob was looking through his stock. Jacob was contemplating a US “Country Life” LP with the censored cover that was actually on my own want list. But I’d go up to $8.oo on the album. This was $15.00. But the dealer did have some nice wares. 12″ singles were in the $5-6 range. Pretty fair! Many nice things were there but…I already had them. That’s not to say that I didn’t feel like buying some of them again! It took me way too long to source a copy of the Godlike Trevor Horn Remix® of Spandau Ballet’s “Instinction” to not twitch during  the few times I’ve run across a copy in later years. The dealer was a friendly guy with a 2019 Bryan Ferry t-shirt so we talked Roxy for a while before getting sucked into the Duran Duran zone after talk went to the induction of Roxy into the RRHOF by DD. He claimed the ear of St. Nicholas himself, but when I noted [with approval] the presence of both Mark Ronson and Giorgio Moroder in the Producer’s chair for the upcoming Duran opus, he was blindsided enough to text St. Nick on the spot asking why he had not heard it from the horses mouth. Probably because it was John Taylor that spilled those beans prematurely in a podcast that has now spread like wildfire throughout the DD community.

Tucked in among the KISS® and Hendrix albums at Jax Wax was… The Shaggs!

I had not seen much that I needed here, but I came to the show with a month’s worth of “discretionary budget” or $40 in common parlance. I had run across a dealer at the last show from Dalton, Georgia who had a sheer holy grail album that was so holy grail, that I did not yet know of its existence! This Jack gent of Jax Wax was not only a fun dealer to talk to, but his goods were Krautrock, Prog and New Wave with a heavy emphasis on JPN pressings. Last month he had a $40 JPN copy of The Tourists “Reality Effect” album. But I had already spent my money, which was not even close to my $20 budget in any case.

I had bought the album when it came out in America in 1980. It is one of my favorite 1980 albums, which is saying a lot. But when I got the first import only Tourists debut album soon afterward, I saw that US Epic had added two tracks into the running and that implied that I had missed out on some material that Epic had shaved off of the album. By 1983, I came across the only import pressing of “Reality Effect” that I had found until last month. It was a Portuguese pressing that looked and sounded like a 4th generation pirated record. Full stop. It had simply awful sonic and visual qualities! But that was the only way I could hear the song “Something In The Air Tonight” for decades. At least “Summer’s Night” was also the B-side to “I Only Want To Be With You,” and I had two copies of that single.

my take for the day

So I was hoping that I would see Jax Wax again and was not disappointed. I spent long minutes talking with the gent and when I was ready to buy, took the Tourists album as well as the German Shriekback “Knowledge, Power, Truth + Sex” EP he also had [one of the few Shriek records that I still need for The Collection] and the $48 in goods he sold me for a straight $40. Buying more than one, and with cash, had triggered dealer largesse, but that’s his policy. Quite delightful. I don’t often drop two serious figures on a record too often these days, but this was more than worth it to me. I can now remaster my “Reality Effect” CD to my satisfaction. For years I had tried to get a German pressing of the album from Discogs since German Teldec pressings tended to be the next best thing to JPN wax to these ears. Trumping even the original UK pressings, which can be very hit-and-miss. But while the records were about €5.00 with shipping from Germany putting them at about $20 for a VG copy, I never saw much in the way of VG+ or [even better] M- copies for sale. Like I said last time, I had not yet run across the Japanese pressing on Discogs [it was added only three years ago] just yet and had no ideaI had subsequently checked and there were two JPN copies for sale in the $25 [inc. postage] range but these were VG copies without obi. $40 for a higher quality copy was worth it to me. I more had confidence in Jax Wax’s caliber of goods.

The overall vibe to this show was a weaker rehash of last month’s show. Some of the better dealers from that one were absent this time. The amazing range of 7″ material was completely absent. The one new dealer who was interesting didn’t have anything that I needed. But the dealer I was hoping would double dip into the Asheville market just a month later did not disappoint. I would have mail ordered the disc from his business card  had he not been there. Finally, my cruddy sounding Portuguese copy of “Reality Effect” that has gnawed at me for 36 years will finally be superseded by the best possible vinyl copy of that music.

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