The Photos

The Photos - In Color

Yesterday I was writing about UK acts of the late 80s that were influenced by Blondie. I didn’t mention the huge wave of acts contemporary with Blondie that owed their very existence [or at least their contract] to the New York New Wave combo. The Photos were a Birmingham combo who popped up on Epic Records both in the UK and here in the States. They were three guys and a woman, who made 60s-influenced music in the new style of the day. After all, much of New Wave looked back to the pop music values of the 60s as a touchstone in response to the trends of the 70s, which many came to see as decadent. I’ve maintained for years that New Wave was for the most part the 60s recast with cutting edge technology.

Cherry Red | UK | CD | 2008 | CDMRED 366

The Photos: The Photos UK CD RM 2007

  1. Do You Have Fun?
  2. Irene
  3. Barbarellas
  4. Now That You Tell Me That We’re Through
  5. Look At The Band
  6. Friends
  7. Loss Of Contact
  8. She’s Artistic
  9. All I Want
  10. Maxine
  11. Evelyn 11
  12. I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
  13. Last Time
  14. With Honours
  15. Sex Object
  16. Lady Is A Tramp
  17. Do You Wanna Dance
  18. Skateboard
  19. Evelyn
  20. I Saw Her Standing There
  21. I’m So Attractive
  22. Guitar Hero
  23. Je T’Aime

Their debut single is the wonderful “I’m So Attractive” but that track is not on their UK LP “The Photos.” What listeners in the UK got instead with that album was a bonus album [called “The Blackmail Tapes”] and it was up to American ears to hear this ace song on the vastly different US release, which as per usual, Epic records stateside re-jigged for maximum commercial impact. In either case, the release was produced by Roger Bechirian, consort to Elvis Costello and Lene Lovich. At the time I bought the US LP, having heard the “Attractive” single on the radio during a weekly show where DJs got to preview the weeks releases. I guess Molly Hatchet were elsewhere that week! A nice factor was the $4.99 list price that CBS had for their developing artist program. This meant that my local store shaved a dollar further off of the price.

To this day, that’s the only copy of the album that I’ve owned, but in 2007, to correct a cosmic wrong, [namely the 1999 1st CD issue of this title] Cherry Red issued the album in it’s original tracklisting, along with the “Blackmail Tapes” and the crucial “I’m So Atractive” single and a further B-side. This has been on my want list ever since, but you know how it is a PPM Central. What little money gets diverted to precious vinyl I’m working on first.

As you can see from the tracks on the bonus album, the group was not shy about covering classic material. Singer Wendy Wu [neé Cruise] went back to the source material on the band’s cover of The Bacharach/David classic “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.” The result won’t make you forget Dusty Springfield, but neither does it embarrass the band. The live strings are appreciated. Fans of Duran Duran and Stephen Duffy will recognize their ode to “Barbarella’s,” a seminal Birmingham New Wave club.

Shockingly, though this album managed to reach #4 in the UK album charts, their followup album, recorded with Tony Visconti manning the boards, went unissued following the failure of the two prerelease 1981 singles from it to set alight the charts. Tony Visconti, for his part, thought his work on that album was among the best in his career. Fortunately, Cherry Red followed through in 2008 with the first ever release of “Crystal Tips & Mighty Mice.” [bonus tracks in red]

Epic | UK | 7" | 1982 | EPC A 2676

The Photos: Crystal Tips + Mighty Mice UK CD 2008

  1. My Life Story
  2. Life In A Day
  3. Luke Come Back
  4. Let’s Pack Our Bags
  5. Kill That Girl
  6. The Final Scene
  7. We Fight
  8. Thinking of His Girlfriend
  9. Wish You Well
  10. For Beauty’s Sake
  11. Time Of My Life
  12. More Than A Friend
  13. You Won’t Get To Me
  14. It’s Always The English
  15. We’ll Win
  16. Charlotte
  17. Shy
  18. Cridsilla

Epic Records | UK | 7" | 1982 | EPC A 2676

1982 saw Wendy Wu going solo for a trio of singles I’ve never seen. More shocking was that The Photos in her absence drafted another singer [a male this time, one Angus Hines] and soldiered on with a 1983 single of their own!

Rialto Records | UK | 12" | 1983 | 12 RIA 16

Who knew?! The final chapter to this tale is that Wendy Wu finally ended up casting her lot together with ex-Visage vocalist Steve Strange in the eponymous Strange Cruise. As you’ll recall from the first paragraph, Cruise was Wendy’s given name. In spite of my collecting Visage records, this is not a release that’s made its way into my record cell. Yet. I can say I managed to scare up the “Rebel Blue Rocker” 12″ but in 20+ years, I’ve not gotten around to spinning it. Sad, I know.

So, to get all you need from The Photos, by all means buy the Cherry Red releases. I think all of the B-sides are accounted for, even though they split some of the early sides on the 1981 album. I would like to hear the Wendy Wu singles, especially since they were produced by Gary “Leisure Process” Barnacle [who joined the Visage lineup for their 3rd, ill starred, album] and the always welcome Tony “New Musik” Mansfield. As for the single with Angus Hines singing, I suppose anything’s possible, though I’ve certainly never seen a copy.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to The Photos

  1. james says:

    Is the Strange Cruise LP missing from your collection due to its scarcity or your indifference?

    If it is the former, I can help.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      james – I’ve never seen a copy and it’s not as if I wouldn’t buy a copy – no matter how ghastly it may be. Hell, I have US and UK pressings of “Beat Boy!” If you’re helping, I’m ready!


  2. chas_m says:

    I always thought “I’m So Attractive” was a perfect little slice of pop pie. I’ll have to look into the Cherry Red issues, now that they are getting to be the Kino Video of New Wave reissues!


    • postpunkmonk says:

      chas_m – Cherry Red should just have a tithing program ready by now! For 10% of your income you’d get the fat stack of their re-issues that you’d be needing on a monthly basis


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