Lene Lovich: The Pre-Stiff Singles

Clearly, the best photo of Les Chappell + Lene Lovich, non?

I had something previously planned out for today’s post but that all went by the wayside when my wife emailed me a photo  this morning with the subject line: “Lene Lovich with an eye patch.” I opened up the email only to find I’d been Rickrolled by my wife. The photo was actually a recent pic of Madonna! I hope it’s the only time you will ever see her grim visage on PPM as shown below.

That is so… obvious… it staggers my mind

My sweetheart wrote: “Ha, ha, ha!!!! Tricked you! It’s really Madonna trying to stay relevant…….” At which point I had to send this to chasinvictoria, and before you knew it, we went down the Lene Lovich rabbit hole… and the weather’s just fine! I posited to chasinvictoria, that I one day needed to collect all of the weird, wild Lene Lovich material that scampered out of the Balkans before her proper solo career began with a bang at Stiff Records in 1978. That leaves us the following records of interest.

The Diversions were the first band to have LL [and Les Chappell] involvement

In 1975, Lene Lovich had already hooked up with her beau/co-writer/confidante Les Chappell and they were a part of The Diversions; Chris Judge-Smith’s post-Van Der Graf Generator disco-funk-reggae [?] band. Les on guitar and Lene on sax and vocals. But not lead vocals. Lene got a writing credit on the B-side and Chris Judge-Smith would write for LL with “You Can’t Kill Me” getting the nod on “Flex” in 1980.

ntercord ‎| GER | 7″ | 1975 | 76.11 704

The Diversions: Fatty Bum-Bum GER 7″ [1975]

  1. Fatty Bum-Bum
  2. Jamaica

Gull ‎| GER | 7″ | 1976 | 22 399-0 N

The Diversions: But Is It Funky GER 7″ [1976]

  1. But Is It Funky
  2. To Make Us Happy

Once again, the B-side was written by Judge with Lovich + Chappell. She’s probably not singing lead on it.

Polydor ‎| UK | 7″ | 1976 | 2058 794

The Diversions: Raincheck UK 7″ [1976]

  1. Raincheck
  2. Disco Limbo

This last single had no Lovich writing credits. Who knows if she’s even on this one, but notice that the band had made the leap from Gull/Intercord to Polydor UK. Major time.

Polydor ‎| UK | 7″ | 1976 | 2058 781

The Commandos: The Bump UK 7″ [1976]

  1. The Bump
  2. Drop In Some Time

Finally, the fourth Diversions single was not a Diversions single at all. But the band recording under the nom-du-disque of Commandos. This may have gotten released before the single above as I can smell the band operating incognito until they could extricate themselves from their Gull contract for a chance with Polydor. But that’s just my theory.

Polydor ‎| UK | 7″ | 1976| 2058 812

Lene Lovich: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus UK 7″ [1976]

  1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  2. The Christmas song [Merry Christmas To You]
  3. Happy Christmas

Finally, now signed to Polydor UK, Lene got a chance at her first solo single. This Christmas themed EP will set you back a pretty penny, but in addition to Lene covering two standards, she and Les wrote the original B-side, “Happy Christmas.” Even then they knew it pays to have an original B-side for a cover single for maximizing royalties. For years, that’s all I knew of for primordial Lene Lovich, but today I discovered the next single was released in Switzerland in 1978, probably recorded just before she got her solo deal with Stiff.

EMI ‎| SWITZERLAND | 7″ | 1978 | 13c 006-76017

Roy Taylor’s Bad Taste: S.E.X. As Advertised SWITZERLAND 7″ [1978]

  1. S.E.X. As Advertised
  2. 4 O’Clock In The Morning

Once again the roles of Lene + Les are sax + vox – guitar

More than this about this record, I can’t say. Has anyone heard this? It had a 1978 release date, but I can’t help thinking that it could have been recorded earlier. This doesn’t take into account all of LL’s lyric writing for mostly French and even American disco bands of the late 70s. Everyone should know Cerrone’s “Supernature,” but there are other [weird] nooks and crannies for that “Lene Lovich Disco” post one day.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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6 Responses to Lene Lovich: The Pre-Stiff Singles

  1. Taffy says:

    I love me some Lene (OK, I love me a LOT of Lene!), but that Xmas single is really weird, and not my favorite. I think it’s mostly cuz of the helium vocals, and it’s all sort of meandering and snoozy. Never heard of any of the other songs, but I’m intrigued (based on name of artist and song titles) by Roy Taylor’s Bad Taste! That’s gotta be some good shit.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Interesting to hear your guarded take on the Lene xmas single. I’ve not bothered to hear it and the likelihood of snagging a copy [unless I get stupid lucky] is fairly low, so many thanks for the word of caution. I also am crazy for Lene, but not “crazy.” The best thing abpout Roy Taylor’s Bad Taste? No Roy Taylor in the band at all! That loooks like Charles Bronson [sort of] on the so mid-70s it hurts cover.

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  2. How is it possible, O Monk, that our mutual friend “Artie Mondello” does not have a copy of this based on the title and photo alone?

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  3. Josh Black says:

    The “Smith” credit on the Diversions singles is not Lene’s musician friend Chris Judge Smith, but Jeff Smith from the Diversions, who later also played on the Roy Taylor’s Bad Taste single, and on Stateless and New Toy/No Man’s Land. He was also used as musician for the “Mata Hari” play (written by Chris Judge Smith, Lene Lovich and Les Chappell).

    The Commandos single was actually released shortly before “Raincheck”.

    Prior to the Diversions, Lene and Les had played in some other bands that haven’t released anything.

    The Roy Taylor’s Bad Taste single was a one-off record they had done in order to raise some money for something (I’m going to complete the information once I’ll come across the source again). The title track “S.e.x. as Advertised” has a very modern electronic sound that wasn’t yet necessarily very common by 1978. Lene does some singing and talking on the title track, and saxophone playing on “4 o’clock in the Morning”. Why it was released in Switzerland is beyond my knowledge. Strangely, it also came out in Brazil in 1985 (this release didn’t have a generic sleeve).

    About the Christmas single and its second b-side track “Happy Christmas” (by Lovich-Chappell), Lene says: “Yes, there’s no problem about that. Various people have tried to make me embarrassed about that but I’m not because there’s a story behind it. When we were with Diversions we were with a company called Polydor. They signed us up, gave us some money and then washed their hands of us. The person who signed us was the head of the A & R department and he left six months later. Nobody was concerned about us or wanted to know we had a hard time making ends meet and we found ourselves running out of money. So we devised a plan whereby we could get some more money. What we did was… both myself and the lead singer of the Diversions managed to get ourselves a solo singles deal with Polydor. So I thought, “What will Polydor fall for? What is the sort of thing they’d really dig?” We came up with the idea of doing this corny Christmas song. It’s kind of a cute song and I quite like it. In fact, what we did, in order to have some kind of creative credit to the record, we – without Polydor knowing of course – when the session finished, Les and I, just the two of us, quickly whipped off what we considered to be our own Christmas effort. It’s called “Happy Christmas” and we felt it was more us. I played the violin, Les played mandolin and we had synthesisers.” (from Hot Wacks magazine, 1979)

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Josh Black – Welcome to the comments! Wow! That’s some heaping load of insight. I assumed that the “Smith” credit was the stalwart Chris Judge-Smith and therein lay my trap. And yes, if a band is starving for a cash injection, an xmas single is not the worst step one may take. I still hear XTC’s/The Three Wise Men’s “Thanks For Christmas” all over in American grocery stores during the season and it can’t hurt the band’s bottom line on royalties. Pop bands with an xmas single may get the best airplay of their entire existence. And three cheers for having a blog devoted solely to Lene Lovich, who deserves at least a half dozen. I need to read carefully on the “Stateless” versions. I thought there were two mixes but now I’m not so sure. I ordered the duo disc version allegedly released by Flex Music, [along with the Flex2 box] but of course they never arrived.

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      • Josh Black says:

        I’m sorry, I meant the Brazilian release of the Roy Taylor’s Bad Taste single didn’t have a picture sleeve (not “generic sleeve”), unlike the original Swiss release.

        Thank you. The blog will be transferred to a proper website soon.

        Yes, that was a smart move from XTC, but Lene wouldn’t have done it in her own career. It was just because the Diversions weren’t her own band anyway. She also speaks about the Christmas single on that 2019 Q&A bit (BBC 6music) of which I’ve written down the transcript for the blog.

        The Diversions also recorded an album called Soul Survivors around late 1976, for 1977 release, The cover photo was already taken (all of them in a dinghy at a reservoir) but Polydor decided not to release the album.

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