Various: We Do ‘Em Our Way UK LP 
- Sex Pistols: (We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock
- Devo: Satisfaction (I Can’t Get Me No)
- The Golant Pistons: Friday On My Mind
- Sex Pistols: (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone
- Those Helicopters: World Without Love
- Hollywood Brats: Then He Kissed Me
- The Flying Lizards: Money
- The Slits: I Heard It Through The Grapevine
- The Stranglers: Walk On By
- The Hammersmith Gorillas: You Really Got Me
- U.K. Subs: She’s Not There
- The Dickies: Nights In White Satin
We hinted about this record in the comments on the last post. This was one of those “cheap, nasty” MFP compilations that commenter Nick alluded to on the last post. This was an album that I bought in a Camelot Music store during a rare 1981 visit to the glittering [now long razed to the ground] the Winter Park Mall. I had a few dollars in my pocket and took the initiative to see if there were any albums on sale there that might be a good fit with the burgeoning Record Cell. This one looked nasty, but was the right price: $3.99. Not bad for an import pressing dated the previous year. I had the DEVO debut album at this time, but none of the other tracks on this release were in my collection…yet. So it was a no-brainer.
The first track was an awful cut from the “Rock + Roll Swindle” OST with Eddie Tudorpole standing in for the departed John Lydon. That the remaining Pistols slogged along a path of severely diminishing returns as engineered by Malcolm McLaren for a period after Lydon leaving the band is a sordid tale, indeed. Eddie Tudorpole’s sub-moronic delivery of the rock and roll classic was insult to injury. DEVO‘s deconstruction of “Satisfaction” raised the bar considerably following this debacle.
The Golant Pistons, actually appear only on this single release! Their cover of “Friday On My Mind” exists nowhere else. The band were actually the “house band” of Sawmill Studios, but they do the Easybeats classic no favors here; opting instead for a dubious merits of a Judas Priest-lite, pseudo metal approach that really points out how the distance between punk and metal, even in the late 70s, was perilously close on the face of it, with only the band’s heads making the crucial difference.
The real Sex Pistols mark their return to this album with a much more superior recording track included on the “Swindle” soundtrack. Their take on Boyce + Hart’s sneering proto-punk Monkees classic is flat out excellent! The song’s sinister chord sequence made another appearance in The Dead Kennedy’s masterpiece “Holiday In Cambodia” proving that bad attitude can have a supremely long reach in rock.
Those Helicopters, released only three singles, but their extremely Cockney take on “World Without Love” was actually a B-side to their debut single. The end result is practically punk-by-numbers, but the version is brief enough not to overstay its welcome. Hollywood Brats had a fascinating history. The Norwegian glam-rockers formed their band as Andrew Matheson and the Brats in 1971 and disbanded in 1974, with their sole album, “Grown Up Wrong” getting a posthumous release in Norway only in 1975; selling only a handful of copies. Then the story gets interesting! In 1979, Cherry Red reissued the album as “Hollywood Brats” where it presumably sold somewhat better. Their non-gender switched cover of “And Then He Kissed Me” doesn’t do anything that Bryan Ferry didn’t do first and better with his cover of “It’s My Party” a few years earlier. They could have shaved off a few repeated verses, while they were at it.
The Flying Lizards dub-deconstruction of Money” had already attained classic status by the time this record had been released, but its inclusion here was certainly a draw for me in 1981, since I hadn’t gotten a copy of their debut album yet. In 1981 I was listening a lot to WPRK-FM and surprisingly, I was already conversant with The Slits brilliant cover of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” from airplay there. This is probably my favorite Slits recording, ever! The production works even better for me than the Dennis Bovell work on their debut album. Ari Up’s vocal performance is intensely charismatic, as was Viv Albertine’s bone-dry guitar skank. The backing vocals are almost subliminal, but they effectively carry this song forward from start to finish. This was an all-time favorite New Wave coverer of mine and time has in no way diminished it’s appeal to me.
It’s a mark of this album’s class that it managed to include the full length, nearly seven minute version of The Stranglers’ cover of “Walk On By.” Better to let Dave Greenfield work out his Ray Manzarek fantasies. Of course, in J.J. Burnel, The Stranglers had something The Doors could never touch; a bass guitar! Next up was another weird time-travel cut from 1974. The Hammersmith Gorillas offered a proto-punk version of the Kinks classic festooned with incongruous pumping Mott The Hoople piano. Pretty faceless, otherwise.
The U.K. Subs fared better with a cool version of a cool Zombies song. It dared to step away from punk orthodoxy to try something a bit more challenging than cod-metal with a Cockney lead vocal. And finally, The Dickies wrap this up with the stellar cover of “Nights In White Satin” discussed here. This was a compelling purchase in 1981, with only one track already on the racks. In 2014 it becomes a whole different ball of wax with much of the high points of this collection on shiny, silvery discs. The two cuts that ensure I keep this record are the brilliant “Stepping Stone” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” covers. Since I opted for the first CD issue of “Cut,” my copy does not have any of the bonus tracks of the 2000 DLX RM. While I may upgrade my copy of the Slits album, the one track here I’ll probably keep this for is “Stepping Stone” since the odds of buying a copy of “The Great Rock + Roll Swindle” are about nil. It’s to my eternal detriment that I ever watched the train wreck and the embarrassments on the OST ensure I will never buy it.
– 30 –
i kinda find it strange these artifacts made it over the pond, even back in the 80’s. They were sold in dodgy Woolworths stores for less than £2. The released a lot of ‘Top Of The Pops’ albums which were compilations of ‘current’ music but never by the original artists – sort of things you hear in supermarkets. [ see http://topofthepopslps.weebly.com/about-the-albums.html ] .
For this to include original artists was suprising and i guess worthy of your hard-earned-bucks !
Never had this myself for the reasons previously stated…….The Stranglers were about my most favourite amongst the bunch and i had already started a major collection of theirs……
Fanx for the momories though Mr Monk !!
Scrap that – Those Top Of The Pops albums were on Hallmark !!! Arrrghhh, got it wrong again !
nick – Wait… With a covers album is the term “original artists” an oxymoron? Looking back, I was more impressed with the modest, six cuts per side contents; a far cry from K-Tel and Ronco fodder with their “20 Hits” cover snipes. That the long version of “Walk On By” was here is a small miracle! Then again, it was balanced out with The Hammersmith Gorillas and The Dickies with their brief cuts.
You got me there ! I would think of this album as more a collection of cover-versions by ‘punk’ bands rather than some cheap session musicians singing some current chart toppers for people on a budget with no sense of irony ! Oh geez….i’m just digging myself into a bigger hole here……….somehow this one is just SO very different to everything else released on MFP, Pickwick, Hallmark, K[ant] Tel and Ronco
nick – “Some cheap session musicians singing some current chart toppers for people on a budget with no sense of irony!” That is poetry, Sir!
In 1973 my Mom bought me an album of “Today’s Hit” as interpreted by The Realistics! It is all session musicians and singers and included Rock The Boat, I Shot The Sheriff (Clapton version) and Midnight At The Oasis. For a couple years, these were the only versions I knew of these tracks and because the versions were supposed to be “realistic,” when I finally did hear The Hues Corporation, Eric Clapton and Maria Muldaur, they sounded “just like” the versions I knew. I’ve kept this very scratched up, faded cover album as a reminder of where my vast record collection has come from.
Echorich – The only one of these that I ever had was from the Longines Society. Similar to the Longines Symphonette, only the music on the three album boxed set, was a cover of a pop hit instead of classical canon. This didn’t stay long in the Record Cell, even at age 10! I mistook it for a K-Tel thing, when obviously, it was not that at all.
I’m sure that’s what my Mom thought she was buying me. By 8 I was already buying my own 45’s and the occasional album was handed to my Mom to purchase when we were in EJ Korvettes department store. BTW, EJ Korvettes stood for Eight Jewish Korean Veterans, who founded the company. My Mom purchasing records is how I got TRex, Bowie and Elton John passed my Dad.
I actually *like* some of those covers albums that were so ubiquitous in the early 70’s. I seek them out at flea markets, estate sales, etc. Some of that I like about it is that everything isn’t so damn serious…They cover everything & nothing is sacred. Now the only items that hit the blender like that is Nouvelle Vague doing 80’s covers or Weird Al’s latest parodies. I could totally see Ray Conniff and his singers doing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with an absolutely straight face. Do that now and it’s all about the kitsch value.
Tim, those Nouvelle Vague albums elevate the genre and are really great. The third one which invited some of the original singers in like Ian McCulloch was another good twist.
I agree about Nouvelle Vague, just wanted to say that I wasn’t criticizing them at all. When I wanted to think of a modern example of someone who redoes this stuff and doesn’t seem malicious they were the first to come to mind.
Oh, I got that Tim, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t enjoy Nouvelle Vague once they’ve heard them. I think their take on Ever Fallen In Love… and Teenage Kicks are my favorites!
Enjoying my freshly downloaded copy of The Stranglers: Walk On By, thanks to your post! That song somehow escaped me all these years til now. The Sex Pistols: (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone has it’s attitude in the right place. Too bad it sounds as though it was recorded onto a cheapo cassette off an AM radio 50 feet away…
Thanks in large part to a wave of good New Wave sampler albums put out early by US labels hoping to figure out where the Next Big Thing might come from, leading with No Wave at least for me, I became (and still am) a dedicated collector of well-chosen New Wave compilations. This one is an unwashed gem, for sure. Most of the cuts on here are either the first time I had heard of the bands at all, or covers I was not aware of. I largely echo the Monk’s choices and critiques for winners and losers on this album, and would never part with it despite it never having appeared on CD (like No Wave).
I wonder if we’ll get around to one of the hardest New Wave comps to find of all time, Made In Britain? Does the Monk even have a copy? Enquiring minds want to know!
chasinvictoria – I believe I still have my “Made In Britain” Polydor LP. When I finally got the Invaders album, “Test Card,” in 1988 or so, I don’t think I was ditching any vinyl at all.
MADE IN BRITAIN on Polydor and WANNA BUY A BRIDGE? on Rough Trade are, in my humble (really not so humble) opinion the best new music compilations I have ever heard.
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Pivotal for me, in terms of new wave compilations and their influence on my music taste, were that aforementioned That Summer soundtrack, and a double album put out by Warner Bros called Troublemakers.
Those records really opened my ears.
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Taffy, that Troublemakers albums is like manna from God! It was the reboot of WB’s Loss Leaders series from the early 70’s and was just so on point!
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