Record Review: Iggy Pop – The Idiot US CD [part 3]

iggy pop - china girl spanish single cover

[…continued from last post]

Unlike the Bowie cover, the original “China Girl”cuts in on the “one” with only a split second before Pop began singing. None of the cod-orientalism [courtesy of producer Nile Rodgers] of the Bowie cover was present here. The song was unusual for not having any chorus; just verses. What I thought at first blush was glockenspiel, was in fact a toy piano, adding a ramshackle charm to the otherwise fatalistic song of cultural corruption. Iggy sounded full of remorse at the tragedy he had wrought by his hungers and desires. David Bowie sang the critical fourth verse like Nitzsche’s übermensch in his cover. Pop, in contrast, squealed in anguish delivering the “it’s in the white of my eyes” lyric.

As Iggy went into the red on that line, the elka string synths cut through the miasma of the song to add still notes of placidity to the coda as verse five had the subject of the song trying to calm the agitated singer. Then the final minute of the song played out as an instrumental coda. Tony Visconti mixed Bowie’s sax way down here, which was probably a good idea as it would have jarred with more prominence. With Phil Palmer’s guitar vying with the string synth again to plateau the song out on a grace note. I especially loved the juxtaposition of the string synth with the “galloping” rhythm guitar pulse that ended the unsettled song with a sense of healing and renewal. This song has stuck in my mind for days in spite of being over familiar with the Bowie cover; which seemed facile and misguided though listening to the original, it made sense that this was the single released from “The Idiot” and when Bowie came to put “Let’s Dance” together he cannily realized that this one made a strong single during a period of writer’s block that saw him re-use two earlier songs and a cover to fill out the album.

While all of the songs thus far on side one of “The Idiot” looked forward in their sound as they anticipated the upcoming eighties more than anything else, the one song here that definitely reflected its decade was “Dum Dum Boys.” David Bowie had suggested to Pop that he write a song called “Dum Dum Days” and you can hear that being sung [loudly] by Bowie on the chorus, but Pop revised the title as the song was his story of The Stooges to tell on his own terms. As befits a song about The Stooges, the more “traditional” rock vibe featured a lot of distorted guitar but there sounded like a few synth lines treated with wah-wah as well running through the mix. Bowie’s electric piano added the right amount of jazzy streetwise funk to the swagger of the guitars.

Iggy opened the song in dialogue with himself over finger snaps as two guys met on the street and talked about the old gang. Two guys were dead from their exploits and the other two were trying to clean up their act. I noted how when discussing James Williamson’s attempt to go straight there was a hint of disdain and disappointment in Iggy’s voice. As with most of the songs here, chord changes were doled out grudgingly, with a miser’s fist. The repetitive groove sauntered through history with a plodding tempo as the circular guitar riff was an example of Krautrock without a motorik beat. Dennis Davis’ drums here were relatively free from effects for a change. But the song was making the most of repetition for the sake of creating a mood of defeat and anxiety; the twin hallmarks of The Stooges existence.

I got a charge of how Pop reflected on how he first met the Asheton brothers and Dave Alexander as they hung out on the street in front of the old drug store. He admitted to being “most impressed” with the cut of their jib as they “looked as if they put the whole world down.” Better still, in the next line, he admitted that  “no one else was impressed… not at all.” That was clearly an example of great songwriting as near journalism.

The album’s true outlier to nowhere was the brief R+B ballad “Tiny Girls.” An embittered meditation on how his relationships with women [all actual tiny girls… as described in Paul Trynka’s excellent “Open Up + Bleed,” Iggy thought nothing about picking up high school girls in his 20s] all seemed to end in the same way. If only he could find different tiny girls who had not learned all of the “tricks” that he decried here. The tempo and rhythms were straight from any R+B song that could have existed from 1958 to 1973, but the Bowie dominated the song with his lugubrious R+B sax solos that book ended the tune. His playing was almost maudlin but was just to this side of being slick. This was not David Sanborn on “David Live”  by a long shot! The final effect was that of ironic distance.

Next: …The Final Act

 

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Record Review: Iggy Pop – The Idiot US CD [part 2]

iggy pop and david bowie review photos 1977

Iggy Pop and David Bowie reviewing photos in an album in 1977

[…continued from last post]

The harmonized drum sound of “Sister Midnight” took a rest as the song “Nightclubbing” was built on a simple plodding rhythm box with queasy catcall synths vying for space with David Bowie’s barrelhouse piano. The latter being an obvious continuation of the Roy Bittan’s piano sound that had featured on the previous Bowie album, “Stationtostation.” Bowie had obviously not gotten his fill of the rollicking piano used so strikingly on “TVC15,” which had further ties to Iggy Pop as it was lyrically based on one of his dreams. Blending the warm piano sound with the inhuman drumbox and the curdled synths made for a maximized sense of disquiet as Iggy was front and center here as the individual star of the song with his bone dry vocals on the first verse as he was describing the Berlin nightlife he and Bowie were taking in.

the human league holiday '80 single coverI’d only heard covers of this song before. Grace Jones’s transformative title track to her iconic album, and The Human League’s medley with the eerily similar but much faster paced “Rock N Roll [part 1].” The Human League cover hewed verrrrry close to the original save for the absence of guitars, of course! Guitars were used here to provide an abstract impression of yowling six string noise. Bowie had briefed the guitarist Phil Palmer to play as to simulate the sound of walking past rock clubs with various band’s sounds blending into a musical slurry in the night.

After that first guitar interlude, Iggy returned for the second verse in character as the collective masses with his nasally nerd-like vocals doubled or tripled up and slightly out of synch with one another. He’s no longer in the spotlight as the Geek Chorus has taken over the song. Then another abrasive guitar solo led the song to its terminus as the drum machine kept the plodding beat moving in spite of itself. Bowie had assumed that they would replace the rhythm box with his normal drummer, Dennis Davis, but thankfully, Iggy put his foot down to keep the rhythm box at the deadened core of the song. A wise aesthetic decision!

“Funtime” was anything but. After a disturbing intro of feedback swelling as a choked sob was barely heard, the song roared into abrupt quasi-life like a slip cued record as the harmonized drums were back and the rhythm was also marked by a bell-like harmonic synth pulse like some heart-lung machine might make as it kept a corpse breathing. Iggy was the leering master of ceremonies here as he sized up his prey for the evening. Meanwhile the droog-like backing vocals of Pop and Bowie seemed to be slurred down slightly in pitch for a monstrous effect. Not surprisingly, Pop simply unleashed his id as he “just do what I want to do.”

Another aspect of the backing vocals was that they seemed to undergo a doppler shift in pitch, as if they were quickly passing the listener by. I can only surmise that Bowie might have run the BVs through a Leslie Cabinet. More probably a Roland AP-5 Phase Five Jet Phaser pedal by 1976 when this was recorded. As the song decayed at its climax, all of the channels except for the backing vocals dropped out and one was left with the inhuman impression of Iggy Pop hurtling past the listener at great speed.

The transition from that horrifying sound to the next song was as perfect a segue as I’ve ever heard when the dour and drumless “Baby” began with a descending bass rondo that never stopped spiraling downward. The two slurred bass synth gripped me as it reminded me of the similar intro to The Associates top quality song “White Car In Germany.” Well, it was obvious now where they’d lifted the idea from. Both of those two were inveterate Bowie fans so this is no shock.

Iggy’s vocals on the chorus were treated with an effect that have them an unfocused reverb that was blurred into pure harmonic hum. A different use of the Eventide Harmonizer than on the drums, perchance? It added to the ghostly feel of the song; like that of a cat furtive in the night as Pop dwelled on the “streets of chance, where chance is always slim or none.” Pop had every reason to be negative as he pleaded with his young girlfriend to “please stay clean.” Only the jaunty piano [again!] and the song’s relatively nimble tempo added any vibrancy to the track. I can hear a lot of Magazine in this one. So with DNA that obviously seeped into sounds of The Associates and Magazine, this was certainly an amazing track for these ears! As much as this album has been sticking to me like napalm, this song, in particular has really connected with me.

Next: …Iggy’s Biggest Pop Hit

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Record Review: Iggy Pop – The Idiot US CD [part 1]

iggy pop the idiot 1990 US CD cover

Virgin ‎| US | CD | 1990 | 2-91342

Iggy Pop: The Idiot US CD [1990]

  1. Sister Midnight
  2. Nightclubbing
  3. Funtime
  4. Baby
  5. China Girl
  6. Dum Dum Boys
  7. Tiny Girls
  8. Mass Production

It’s been 42 years, but in the waning days of 2019, I finally got around to hearing Iggy Pop’s “The Idiot.” It’s not like I haven’t known the album by reputation for 40 years! As a big fan of Bowie’s albums made around the same time, this was a grievous omission. The cold hard fact was that one of the first gifts I can remember my wife giving me was an LP [German, I think] of “The Idiot” but when I tried to play it the album skipped. She had gotten it for me at Rock + Roll Heaven and there was some notion of taking it back and getting another copy but this never happened though I remember discussing this with owner Ray Ehmen’s brother.

The LP of “The Idiot” has been in my Record Cell for over 20 years. The truth of the matter is that unless I have a CD of a title, I usually never listen to it. Records are a hassle. So I went an inordinate number of years before running into a CD of “The Idiot” at Earshot in Winston-Salem two weeks ago. It was there. A used CD at a good price [$6.00] so I bought it without hesitation. The following Monday, I played it in the car going to work and it sounded really compelling. That’s about all I have been listening to for the last two weeks on my work commute. As soon as it finished it began playing again and there really wasn’t anything else that I wanted to hear more, so I let it loop. In spite of the title, it seems like I was “the idiot. ” Why else would I have not bought a copy of this at least by 1982 when I was all over “Low” and “Heroes?” Because this album was just as good as either of them! Perhaps more so, because this was the template that gave those albums a foundation to be built upon.


iggy pop - sister midnight german single coverThis was apparent immediately up front when “Sister Midnight” got underway. The track [indeed, the whole album] had music written by producer David Bowie who admitted that he was using his writing/production of “The Idiot” as a dry run for what ideas he was interested in pursuing on his next album, “New Music Night And Day,” which eventually was released with the title “Low.” That meant that melodic development was minimized. Monolithic Krautrock repetition [ala Neu] was maximized. Many of these songs could have been constructed from loops if that was more common in the dying days of 1976 when this album was recorded.

What the ear noticed immediately after the repetition was the drum sound. This was the first use of the Eventide Harmonizer H910 to slur the drums with a downward pitch on the decay and this was gated for further effect. Tony Visconti, who only mixed “The Idiot,” has long taken claim for introducing Bowie and Eno to the technique on “Low” but the fact remains that “The Idiot” was recorded prior to “Low” and Visconti presumably came in on the back end of things when mixing happened. But Visconti hasn’t gone on record as to whether he originated the sound on “The Idiot” or not. In any case, the harmonized drum sound served to further abstract drums into sounding more machine like. Almost prefiguring the Simmons Drum sound of four years later. Harmonized drums may have even been an influence on the sound design of the Simmons chips. That would be a good question for Richard James Burgess one day.

The propulsion for the repetitive track was down to the rhythm guitar hook played by Carlos Alomar; the man who got co-writing credit here and on Bowie’s hit “Fame” thanks to his indelible sense of timing and structure as well as his ability to render it intrinsic to the arrangement of the song. As for the singer, Iggy affected his lowest baritone while Bowie doubled him on falsetto for a bracing effect. Split octave vocals where a voice is doubled either above or below an octave from the foreground is an effective technique for generating otherness; but here there were two octaves between the voices for an even more profoundly disquieting effect. And as Iggy progressed through the song, his composure gradually unravelled.

At the song’s midpoint, Pop recounted an oedipal dream that he had as the song [unfortunately] makes a connection with “The End” by The Doors. Iggy Pop had always been massively influenced by Jim Morrison [to the extent that he eventually owned a pair of the singer’s famous leather pants] and this has always been a thing I have needed to endure while being as big of an Iggy Pop fan as I am. I can’t say the same about Morrison. But it was on the next verse that Pop completely dispensed with any remaining cool as he ultimately devolved into making animalistic noises in the song’s coda while the mutant Krautrock-cum-reggae groove lurched into the sunset.

Next: …Brand New Dances

 

 

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Neil Peart: 1952-2020

neil peart (c) 1985 jaegar kotos

Neil Peart ©1985 Jaegar Kotos

I got blindsided Friday night with the news that Rush’s drummer/lyricist Neil Peart had died after over three years of undergoing brain cancer treatment. This was a sad thing to hear. Particularly since I had been listening more to my very sensible but incomplete Rush collection in the last year following a trip to the Rock N’Roll Hall Of Fame where the highlight was video of Rush’s against-all-odds induction. My favorite Rush album had been “Hold Your Fire” since it was released, but hearing my 1980-1991 run of their albums  at once [I’d  never binged this deeply with Rush before] nudged me into changing my top pick after all of these years. “Power Windows” now takes my top spot with “Hold Your Fire” just beneath it in the Rush-Goes-New Wave® era beloved by me. Rush were many things to me; Led Zeppelin wannabes, bloodless Prog, something more than a False New Wave band, then eventually, Respected Elders of Rock®. Even getting rock crit love after decades of cold shoulder. I grew up when it was not cool to like Rush [for those of the generally Monastic persuasion] but I honestly appreciated them when and while I could. A lot. And it hurts to know Neil Peart; the band’s heart in more ways than one, is no longer with us.

rush hemispheres album coverI first heard Rush relatively late in the game. It was 1977 and I was in my Prog Phase. I had heard about the band in print and eventually heard their latest album on the FM Rock® of the time. “Hemispheres” had a song that got FM airplay called “The Trees” and singer Geddy Lee’s voice was so high then, I thought that Rush had a female vocalist! Eager to sample, I bought “Hemipsheres,” their current [and sixth studio album] and a budget 3xLP reissue called “Archives” that contained the band’s first three albums. None of it gelled with me at the time. The first three albums were in Led Zep territory and I didn’t really go there. “Hemispheres” was a side of hi-concept Prog based on the notion of intellect-vs-emotion brain dominance as illustrated by the cod-Hipgnosis cover by Hugh Syme. The side one suite was actually the conclusion of an idea from their previous album [which I’ve never heard] called “Cygnus X-1 [book II],” presumably about a black hole! Your guess is as good as mine as to how these two seemingly disparate concepts were united across the albums! The three songs on the B-side of the album had no overarching theme. Here was a band finishing ideas across albums and daring listeners to jump in. Well, this one didn’t. I sold my Rush albums to my schoolmates since I had not yet learned of used record stores.

By the next year, Rush was of no relevance to me at all. Indeed, all of Prog was collapsing under the weight of its pretenses as New Wave was connecting with me much more strongly than my brief dalliance with Prog ever had. And it also had synthesizers in it but the music made with them was more my style. The songs were generally much sharper and cooler. It was 1981 when I bought the Ultravox 2×7” of “Slow Motion” and played it for an acquaintance who compared the A-side to Rush and I was most vociferous in that it Could Not Be Further From That®! Rush was old guard Rock. Heavily steeped in sci-fi concepts that failed to resonate with me at the time even though all I read from ’75-’80 was science fiction! I remember reading an Rush interview in a local music paper where they were name checking Ultravox and expressed an interest in having Midge Ure produce them! Wha…??!!

rush signals album coverBy 1982, I had another friend, Tom, who was a Rush fan. I exposed Tom to some of my Core Collection bands like OMD and Ultravox, but I sort of looked askance at his championship of Rush. I think it was 1982 where he got to go to a date in the band’s “Signals” tour for his birthday and was quite excited. I was non-plussed. I put the difference down to the fact that I had no taste for playing simulation/role-playing games, even though I was a sci-fi geek. By that year we had MTV so I was now exposed to the scant Rush videos the channel showed. Hmmm. They seemed to be getting very heavily into synthesizers. The next year, I read an article in the Village Voice where the writer made the case that Rush was now more closely aligned with a band like Ultravox than their Zeppelin roots. Hmmmmmmmm.

How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Rush

rush - power windows album coverI finally crossed the line in 1985 after enjoying the songs “Big Money” and “Mystic Rhythms” via MTV clips. I picked up a used CD of “Power Windows” and found it very much to my liking. The band had obviously responded to the New Wave of the late 70s bubbling around them when I was looking elsewhere and had evolved into an appealing hybrid of The Police and Ultravox! It was as if by 1981 the band were devouring The Police and Ultravox while understanding how to add synthesizers more adroitly than on “The Ghost In The Machine.” Truth be told, by 1984, Rush was playing the Ultravox game far more compellingly than Ultravox themselves!

rush - hold your fire album coverIn 1987 I didn’t wait for used. I bought their new album “Hold Your Fire” immediately and reveled in their pivot to pop. Where they used to have 4-7 songs of heavy concept Prog on their albums, this new one had ten sharp, pop songs with rock chops. These shorter songs had all of the complexity that their side-long opuses used to have, but with all of the fat removed for a lean sharp thrill that hit closer to the mark of 1980s King Crimson than Yes or Led Zeppelin. Their last two albums had keyboard support from the talented Andy Richards, then neck deep in Trevor Horn’s ZTT Theam. You may remember Mr. Richards from a post on White Door a short while back. His synth prowess was foundational to all of the great work that ZTT had done from 1983-1988 and Rush, being no dummies, enlisted him to enhance both “Power Windows” and “Hold Your Fire.” The kicker had arrived earlier in the fall of 1986 when the second FGTH album “Liverpool” had arrived and sounded for all the world like a contemporary Rush album!

By 1989, I crossed the line in the sand and saw Rush in concert in a group with Mr. Ware and his drummer, Ray. We attended the Rush show at the Orlando Arena and as I struggle to recall, the opening act was Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw of Stynx! Did we arrive fashionably late? I can’t remember how we would have blocked that out otherwise. But the Rush show was extremely tasty! They opened with my favorite song, the gripping “Force Ten” from “Hold Your Fire” so missing that tour didn’t really deal me a loss this time. The show was heavily skewed towards the material that was highly preferential to me with some old warhorses only getting trotted out at the end. The amount of change and development that the band evidenced over the 16 years of their existence was heartening.

rush roll the bones album coverThat was as great a time to see Rush as I could have picked. By the end of the 80s, their New Wave era began to wrap up for the band as they got fave Rupert Hine to produce their albums. Rupert was no stranger to hi-tec rock music having created definitive examples of the form on his solo and Thinkman® albums. But after his two albums I lost track of Rush in the 90s. I’m told that they dialed down the synths during the grunge era. Not a shock, but I’d not heard anything they’d released following 1989’s “Presto.” I began picking up Rush CDs used when I happened across them at the right price in that decade. I snapped up the seminal in retrospect “Permanent Waves” where their first flowerings of New Wave DNA made for a surprisingly great album. A huge leap forward for the band in my view. The popular “Moving Pictures.” In recent years, Mr. Ware had given me “Signals,” “Grace Under Pressure,” and “Roll The Bones” as birthday presents. I now had the Rush run in the studio from 1980 to 1991 and it was an impressive, coherent body of work.

The changes in the band were profound up to that point. First the hard rock sound got dumped for a hard prog hybrid. The hair got cut [except for holdout Lee]. Then the lyrics went from Ayn Rand sci-fi to something far more humanistic. Rush had gotten pigeonholed as Rock Objectivists and even when I Was A Teenaged Randroid†®, I had never bothered hearing Rush’s “2112” album which had raised their profile considerably with an adaptation of one of her short stories. I was astonished when listening to 1984’s “Grace Under Pressure” when “Red Sector A” was not a dystopian sci-fi scenario [in spite of the deceptive name] but was instead inspired by the story of Geddy Lee’s parents being liberated during the Holocaust. It rips my heart out to hear it now.

rush feedback album coverI actually bought some more recent Rush CDs last fall at a record show. Just to see how the wind had blown while I hadn’t been paying attention. Their album of acid rock covers stood up very favorably to the one by Ramones! It’s almost an EP of eight songs under 30 minutes. In contrast, I also got the final Rush album, “Clockwork Angels.” I recall hearing that it was said to be a return to a Prog concept for their final opus but I’ve yet to spin it. Well, if now is not the time, when is? I doubt I will ever own a complete Rush collection. I’ve never heard any of their numerous live albums, and doubt that I ever will seeing as how the band liked to replicate their studio sound to the best of their ability. But there was a time when Rush were in the center of a Venn diagram drawn between The Police, Ultravox, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood with their sound stretched into a place that had old line fans scratching their heads even as I finally managed to finally capitulate to their charms. That the band had the ability to vary their attack wildly throughout their 42 year career was down to the clarity of their vision and the nous that Peart brought to them as a drummer’s drummer who was much more than just that. Condolences to his bandmates and family.

– 30 –

 

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Obsessive or Pragmatic: Which Kind Of Collector Are You?

Two days ago, commenter Thombeau said something in the comments on the Vaughan Oliver obituary that got me thinking. He described me as a “collector.” At virtually the same time, my wife was telling me about her co-worker who had a record collector partner and how they had got into a discussion about living with “a collector.” She told her about hard core collectors like my old friend Ron Kane. 30,000 titles filled his house at the time of his death! We visited, but had to leave. Yeah, it can get pretty blood chilling as collecting becomes hoarding. Even Ron wondered why he had more records than he could spend the rest of his life listening to. Little did he know just how little time he had to do that by the time that notion had occurred to him! In spite of owning a few thousand CDs and records, I don’t strictly consider myself a real collector in spite of what you may hear about me.

Late 70s Beginnings

In the late 70s when I got my first record player I bought albums. One a week with my lunch money, basically. In high school, I bought mainly albums. Singles were cheaper than albums, but you could get 7-10 songs for the price of 2-3 singles, and that made albums the better deal. Once I found out about used record stores, things really started to get interesting! The best thing about them was not even the lower prices, but the ability to buy older things that were harder to find currently. This was especially true with singles.

After high school, better record stores with heavy import sections began to beckon to me and the notion of buying singles by artists I loved featuring songs not on albums and [gasp] remixes, became to be viable to me. I can be said to have started “collecting” some time in 1981, I guess. But I was on a low budget. It was my job to make the scant funds stretch as far as they could go, and that meant collecting pragmatically. In other words, buying any releases I needed to get all of the artist in question’s non-LP tracks and variations… but only the minimum of titles necessary to do so! And the bands I did this for were still low in number. This was my method throughout the whole of the 80s. Even then, I tended to go with 12″ singles instead of 7″ singles. One, they sounded better. Two, in many cases, the 12″ had the B-side from the 7″ in addition to an extended version. Then ZTT had to go and start making multiple 12″ singles!

80s – Goldmine, Catalogs + Record Shows

goldmine magazine - ramones coverThen by the late 80s I had begun buying records by mail order. This is where serious collecting began to spread like wildfire. Especially the usually neglected 7″ part of the record collection. With Goldmine and catalogs, I had  access to even more records that I wanted beyond the scope of any of even the best record stores that Central Florida had to offer me at the time. This was when I started buying the clear vinyl 7″ UK singles from Ultravox on Chrysalis Records, in addition to the 12″ singles I was buying. I knew about these thanks to Mr. Ware, who set me straight on them even as he corrupted me with his Goldmine and Jack Wolak’s Rare Necessities catalogs! Then I started buying entire artist’s runs of things that I had wanted but never seen locally. I began the core of a serious Mari Wilson and Rezillos/Revillos collection with recources like that at my fingertips.

Then the occasional record show really opened the vistas of collecting up. I could go to a civic center full of records and buy all sorts of things. The big shows were like a catalog with immediate gratification thrown in as a bonus. The first shows were usually in bigger cities like Tampa or Atlanta, so they were rare occasions, but by the early 90s, even sleepy Orlando started getting some record shows with regularity.

If one bought singles they tended to be available for a much shorter period than for albums. This guided my hand for years in the late 80s as I would eventually opt to buy import singles instead of the album itself that they might have come from. It seemed like the album could usually be bought later, and the longer one waited, the greater chance of getting a cheaper copy. Whereas the singles would invariably rise in price from the point of issue as they became more scarce.

90s – Time, Space + Money Conspire to Make Of Me An Obsessive Collector

rock-N-roll heaven record store in orlando

The Rock-N-Roll Heaven window by spindlespider

If I could be said to have become a collector it was by the early 90s. I remember the feeling I got by having every Ultravox album and 12″ single/EP. And 90% of the band’s UK 7″ singles. I felt like I needed a bigger challenge! By 1993 I had a large apartment and the huge master bedroom was the video/book/music collection room. My career was going great. I was a UX designer before they even had a name for it! I was earning more money than I have for the last 20 years and had nothing better to do than scoop up armfuls of music releases. It was at this time that I began hitting stores like Rock + Roll Heaven and spending a few hours in there on a Saturday just buying desirable records – that I technically did not need for their musical contents!

heaven 17 we live so fast US 7" single cover

Arista | US | 7″| 1983 | AS 1-9027

That’s right, Just seeing a record like the US 7″ picture sleeve of “We Live So Fast” [only a single in America] would make me splash out the cash to buy it. I would spend an unplanned $100-150 on a weekend’s visit…just for kicks! A far cry from the way I roll now. Another factor pushing my “buy” button was the notion that soon I would be able to make my own CDs of material on vinyl only. It was almost a decade into the CD era by then and I had a fair handle on what might not ever come out on the shiny silver disc. Primarily, the many rarities by any number of bands. Non-LP A/B sides, live tracks, promo mixes, 12″ remixes of all stripes and from all nations. Since I was looking to tie up a lot of loose ends, I really started paying more attention to 7″ singles for the often unique 7″ mixes/versions that could be out there if one knew where to look. Keep in mind that I probably did not get online until some time in 1994 and back then, record collecting resources on the web were usually the providence of the occasional obsessed collector who would take their data online with the 10 MB webspace that their ISP gave them for their own personal website.

duran duran my own way japanese 7" cover by patrick nagel

Toshiba-EMI | JPN | 7″ | 1981 | EMS-17235

It was some time in 1992-3 when I found the challenge that I would undertake after “completing” my Ultravox collection. I was at a record show and saw some Duran Duran classic 12″ singles that I had never bothered to buy when they were current. A little voice told me to buy these for the $5 asking price and I did. I soon met new friends out of the Orlando “Old Wave” club scene that played decade old music for dancing to and discovered the Duran Duran collector’s underground. Swept up in the excitement, this was compounded by the release of their 1993 “Wedding Album” with its pair of US Top 10 singles, and Duran Duran just exploded right after I started to may some more attention to them.

I had once bought the occasional CD single. Now I bought everything. It was exhilarating seeing how many variations I could buy of any of their releases. I was finally seeing the band live after over a dozen years of variable fandom and now I had things like the US promo “Liberty” box that I once handed to Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo to sign in the middle of the night as they were leaving their hotel after a gig in Orlando. I probably dropped $1500 on DoubleDuran in the two year period where the sky was the limit and had over 300 releases to show for it. Then marriage, buying a house, and especially their godawful “Thank You” album brought all that to a screeching halt. Thank goodness. DD were among the most heavily marketed bands of the New Wave era with countless releases the world over. I could have dedicated my life to collecting them and still only would have had a fraction of the total at my deathbed! Fact: Duran Duran are hardly my favorite act!

2000 + Beyond: A Return To Pragmatism

john foxx complete cathedral oceans LP box coverIn 2001 we decided to move away from Orlando and have lived in a succession of ever smaller homes; necessitating much downsizing. We bought our current [tiny] home in 2004 and there is a small bedroom with everything I still have jammed in there frightfully. I still like to collect the output of certain bands, but the numbers are down from the peak 90s list which can be found here. That was pretty much every artist I “collected” in the 90s, for what it’s worth. My, how that list has been seriously pruned! I still buy every John Foxx release. He is the one artist that I have almost everything from but there are still rarities that are damned hard to source copies of.  I usually skip the pricier items [I am way too practical…] only to have my wife buy them for me!

simple minds boxed sets of god

These did have everything from 1977-1998

In 2002, I got more serious about making an upgraded BSOG of Simple Minds rarities, so I bought any single I didn’t already have [even the stuff I’d avoided for ages from the mid-late 80s] but I didn’t buy everything. Only the bare minimum to actually have as complete a music collection as I could. Even that was doomed to failure since in 2002, the band were releasing difficult to source Italian DJ 12″ vinyl of remixes from their great “Cry” album like they were going out of style. I still have none of this material almost 20 years later so that third volume of Simple Minds rarities will probably never happen. A line was crossed in 1023 when I stared selling off my redundant collector’s records that I bought for no good reason to fund concert travel and vacations. I think the profits were balanced out by losses fairly equally, which is nothing to complain about.

The notion is still there to collect but more small scale things. I think a complete Mari Wilson collection is possible. I have a lot of what it would make up. I have quite a lot of Rezillos/Revillos releases in as many formats as I can find. A few years back they were selling modern 7″ and CD singles at such modest prices I bought everything and it cost me less than $30. In my headier flights of fancy, I think about collecting every release by her label as well, as The Compact Organisation had boundless taste [thanks to prime mover/impresario Tot Taylor] and made generally wonderful goods for the dream home that had everything. There’s probably less than 150 releases in total, but I’d have to buy a lot of records from the UK mail order, and the shipping would be a deal breaker.

Another notion I could get behind would be every UK 7″/12″/CD5/Cassette single by the great ZTT label; but only from 1983-1988. After that they barely existed for me. But there are some things that would probably cost me a small fortune there. No, with my advancing age, and diminishing wallet, I think I need to just try to enjoy what I’ve already got. Maybe keep buying a dozen or so artists who have proven their worth over decades, and selectively buy the right “singles” to complement their album releases. Which is actually a challenge in this horrible intangible music era. When music is only streamed [and we’re getting there, trust me]. We’re already in a place where scant physical releases are costing a fortune and I’m priced out of that game. Record collecting is no longer a modestly priced hobby. It’s becoming a playtoy of the financial elite. So now,more than ever, is the time to collect pragmatically. It’s no longer an inexpensive hobby. How do you like to collect? Discuss below.

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Posted in Record Collecting | Tagged | 38 Comments

Want List: Vintage 1994 Shriekback Live, Hot On The Heels Of “Some Kind Of Light”

shriekback - live at the orange '94 CD cover

Shriekback | UK | CD | 2020 | SHRIEKCD020

Shriekback: Live At the Orange ’94 – UK – CD [2020]

  1. The Preparation
  2. Over the Wire
  3. Unsong
  4. Captain Cook
  5. Hostage
  6. Dingle Dai
  7. Faded Flowers
  8. Berlin
  9. Invisible Rays
  10. Seething
  11. Pretty Little Things
  12. The Consummation

Saints preserve us… so yesterday it was Gary Daly and today it’s Shriekback. Somehow, I think my favorite musicians have formed a sinister cabal to siphon my scant discretionary funds on a revolving basis. There have been things that I could not even save up for since they were here and gone before the total could be met, but at least this one is chump change. And yes, it’s another archival project. The stinging irony is that their new album has only been shipped to the Indiegogo pledgers and has yet to manifest in their two web stores online.

Back in 1994, I was barely on the internet. It happened for me when we switched to Windows NT 3.5 at work from Windows For Workgroups 3.1.1. All of a sudden, we had Netscape, a 256 KBS connection, and a whole new world was out there. But that was pure Wild West. Those days are gone. But even then, Shriekback were in a black hole for me following their return from the ashes of “Go Bang” with the reassuringly solid “Sacred City” album and video [on VHS as I recall…] in 1991. I’m hazy on the details, but know that I did not see another Shriekback album until shopping in Tower Records Washington D.C. in 2002 when I spotted a double pack CD of “Aberrations ’81-’84/Naked Apes + Pond Life.”

That was a double thrill since we would be hearing early archival stuff from their formative years as well as the hard to find latest album. When I played the new one I was shocked to hear the notion of acoustic Shriekback coming out of my speakers and sounding like, well… Shriekback! Unlike some of my favorite artists [if you are a regular here, you know the ones] Shriekback could venture down this path because they had a much stronger artistic POV and identity than some other bands I could name who lost all of their mojo when eschewing electricity. There – that’s a good Shriekback song title, eh? You put “Naked Apes + Pond Life” on and by gar, you’d still know it was Shriekback.

So when this new CD was mooted a few weeks ago as coming in the new year, I put it out of my mind because I always usually slack on this sort of thing. I’m usually buying things that were cheap when they came out 2-3 years ago but are now driving up in value [before they become unaffordable], while ignoring the multitude of moderately and even cheaply priced goods in the here and now. Sad, but it’s how I’m wired. Then last week the mailing list revealed that the pre-order that had been going on for at least a month would be just that. Once the orders were in after a cut-off happening pretty soon, the band would manufacture enough goods to meet the pre-demand but probably not any future demand [save for the possibility of a stately re-issue ten years down the line or more].

“Hmm…maybe I should think about it more actively,” I pondered.

Then yesterday the imminent cut-off for pre orders was waved in front of my eyes and I had to either act now or suck it up. The audio quality on this was mooted as “bootleg quality.” I am fine with boots, within reason. As long as the excitement level was captured from a gig I’m pretty easy to please. And this was a 1994 gig done at a time when I was unaware of what the band were doing or if they even continued to exist at all. I imagine that the gig here prefigured the “Naked Apes + Pond Life” vibe that would not manifest for five more years. That didn’t mean that the songs didn’t yet exist. The tracks in bold would appear five years later on NA+PL. The ones in red are still not tied down to any canonical album by the band. Three are Shriekback “oldies.”So yes, these tracks may be the only time one can hear tracks like “The Consummation.” Someone just mentioned “Captain Cook” on the comments and I sincerely had no idea, yet here it is.

I’ve sampled “Seething” and yep. This is a serviceable live recording that sounded like you could have possibly made it yourself that night if you had a Walkman Pro®. The band sounded a few feet away from the mic but then again, so did the fans in evidence. The stereo spread on the twin cardioids on a Walkman Pro® are only an inch or so apart so this sounded effectively mono. I don’t think that whole “remote mics clipped onto the bill of a hat” thing for greater stereo spread at concerts existed in 1994. So caveat emptor. But if you feel that you might want to go there, don’t dawdle. I’m guessing that there’s probably no more than a 48 hour window to order the artifact. I’ve already signed off, so you know where I stand. It’ll set you back £10.00/$13.09 and there may be less fun ways to tithe to this wonderful band, but they’re all worth it.
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Want List: Another Gary Daly Album In Pipeline For 2020

gary daly luna landings CD cover

Music Glue | UK | CD | 2020

Gary Daly: Luna Landings UK CD [2020]

  1. Odysseas
  2. Celestial Body
  3. Jody You’re On Dope, So Just Shut The F**K Up
  4. Technics Arpeggio
  5. Luna Bop
  6. Dummkopf
  7. And When Did You Give Up . . . And Why?
  8. Yellow Magic
  9. JP8
  10. JP8 2
  11. 80’s Electro 2
  12. Space Bastard
  13. Guitar Instrumental 1
  14. Pipes Of The Man Ray Times
  15. Evángelos
  16. Guitar Instrumental 3
  17. Magnifique Lune
  18. The Highest Heist
  19. ’78
  20. A Once Great And Harmonious Place
  21. Very Nice Barbara
  22. Shopping For Excuses
  23. Swimming With Kevin
  24. Festivus

It seemed like only yesterday [cue harp run…] when I was picking Gary Daly’s “Gone From Here” as my favorite album of 2019 and today I just found out that the restless Mr. Daly has another album coming our way on the Music Glue platform. Due out on February 20, 2020 will see “Luna Landings” reach our grateful ears. In answer to the obvious question, no. Mr. Daly has not found a stash of amphetamines. No black beauties were consumed in the making of this album. This time he’s raided the demo archives to hand pick a selection of demos written and recorded for China Crisis from 1981 to 1987. So this album is sort of like a Prince Vault collection but for China Crisis, and best of all, Daly’s still with us!

The two dozen songs were recorded on TASCAM Portastudios from the late 70s and early 80s and thus will probably be lower fi than China Crisis’ fantastic 80s era B-sides. But I fully expect this collection to be filled to the brim with the same sort of inventive and melodic material that could be as truly world class as China Crisis’ B-side material was! Anything that gets vintage China Crisis to our hungry ears is a total win in this already messed up year. Here’s the list of mouthwatering vintage gear that went into these songs here.

TASCAM 244 portastudio

The TASCAM 244 had dbX NR and reverb built in

Portastudios were extremely nice pieces of equipment that exploded the creation of demos and lo-fi recordings once they came onto the scene. Four tracks per cassette tape could do a lot of damage, if you wanted to bounce tracks. It was the Garage Band of its day [minus the loops]. I once borrowed Mr. Ware’s Portastudio to compose a theme for the TV news at my college back in the mid 80s. It was fun but I’m not really a musician and my interests don’t lie in that direction. One could do some tidy damage with one of these units and I’m happy that the decision was made to revisit these demos. It will help to tide us over until the next move by either China Crisis or Mr. Daly in a solo aspect once again. The album is CD only right now and available for pre-order at the nice price of £11.99/$17.36.

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Posted in Core Collection, Want List | Tagged , , | 9 Comments