That First Taste Of Transvision Vamp On A Freebie Record Mirror EP

wendy james and nick sayer monktone
Wendy James + Nick Sayer of Transvision Vamp

There I was. Minding my own business in the late 80s. Trying to get some nourishment from the thin gruel of the UK music scene of the time, when during one of my weekly MTV sessions during 120 Minutes [all I could stand, basically] I saw the video for “Tell That Girl To Shut Up” by Transvision Vamp. I was surprised to see that anyone remembered my precious Holly + The Italians, and on that level, I was subtly impressed with their choice of cover tunage. But not enough to run out and actually buy a copy of “Pop Art,” the Transvision Vamp debut album! As a cover went, it didn’t exactly make me forget the original. Which was hardly my favorite Holly Beth Vincent song in any case!

The next year, I was at Murmur Records and they had a copy of Record Mirror magazine with a 7″ EP cover mounted so these things could usually have a rare track or two on them, so I took a closer look. Betchabygollywow, the EP featured four decent acts and was called “On The Chart Tip 1′” and one of these bands was Transvision Vamp with an unreleased track. This might prove interesting, and at any rate, it was a cheap way to hear a bit more of this band than a cover version. Maybe they would be my new friend?

record mirror on the chart tip 1 EP
Record Mirror | UK | 7″ EP | 1989 | CHART 1

Various: Record Mirror – On The Chart Tip 1 – UK – EP [1989]

  1. INXS: Johnson’s Aeroplane
  2. Transvision Vamp: Child Of the Age [previously unreleased]
  3. Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance [There’s Nothing Wrong – Sukka Mix II]
  4. Black: You Don’t Always Do What’s Best For You

The tracks on the EP were all over the place. I already had the INXS and Black tracks on their respective albums in the Record Cell. I was scratching my head at how a five year old INXS deep cut was deemed worthy for inclusion, but the band were on top of the world commercially, in the late 80s, so there’s that. I was collecting Black by 1987, so I had the “Comedy” deep cut. At the time the Neneh Cherry remix of “Buffalo Stance” was exclusive to this EP but that only held true for a few months. It eventually came into my Record Cell on the CD-3 of “Manchild” as a B-side later that year. The mix here was 40 seconds shorter, so it’s an edit of that one.

So years later, the main reason why I bought the magazine/record was still valid. I got to hear a track that Transvision Vamp gave away to a magazine. Likely not their best goods, but still possibly of interest. The track was produced by Duncan Bridgeman, who I knew from Gardening By Moonlight and John Foxx involvement. That could only be good.

The song actually turned out to be surprisingly good! It had a pulsating bass synth with just enough rock crunch and guitar scuzz laid over it, while the charming synth strings gave it a melancholy yet wistful air. The lyrics were surprisingly smart and steeped in knowing irony.

I’m a child of the city

I’m a child of the night

I’m blinded by neon and so out of sight

I’m money in the bank

Yours for a price

An adman’s dream, I buy everything twice

I’m high as a kite

Just another consumer junkie

“Child Of the Age”

This was no quickie demo like I typically heard on the Flexipop flexidiscs. This was a fully realized song that was of a much higher caliber than I was expecting. And singing it was Wendy James, who had not impressed me terribly on the “Tell That Girl to Shut Up” cover with her flat vocals. Here, she was more dreamy and wistful. Sounding like a twelve year old trying for a grown up’s gravitas. But it fit the number, and as I said. If this was a song they deemed throwaway enough to give to a magazine freebie disc, then maybe I had better get on this Transvision Vamp train tout suite?

So I went out to Camelot Music [the nearest record store] bought “Pop Art” soon after this EP hit my Record Cell to find that yes, this was definitely a new friend! As I absorbed the album and all of its singles [bought on CD format singles] I noted with approval that productiojn dutires were spilt between Bridgeman and cult favoriet Zeus B. Held! I collected the band throughout the course of their brief half-life, though the case could be made that albums two and three showed a curve of diminishing returns.

And as I paid more attention to the band, I could not help but notice that Wendy James had quickly developed a reputation in the UK press as a bit of a loudmouth to say the least. Always ready with an exhibitionist quip for the press who, of course, turned on her. I was shocked to see after topping the charts with their sophomore album, “Velveteen,” and selling like mad [they were born to be sold] it was amazing their third album, “Little Magnets VS The Bubble Of Babble” was deemed unviable for a release in the UK on CD format. I’d never seen a band go from successful to has-beens in such a short span of time.

At the end of the day, I had a nearly 30 year period where the dreamily cinematic “Child Of The Age” was still only ever on this freebie EP. That only changed and the track finally made it to CD format in 2019 with the “I Want Your Love” BSOG that Edsel released with six CDs of practically everything the band ever released along with a DVD of videos. As I already had scads of CD singles and Japanese mix compilations [and a JPN laserdisc] I decided to pass on that one. Neat and tidy as it was. It was never cheap at $80-90, though now it costs quite a bit more!

Just a few weeks ago, MCA released a DL-only collection that also managed to rope in “Child Of The Age” for the modern era. So now we can get our fix for this cool tune digitally. If you’ve not had the pleasure, I’m sure it’s out there to stream, or whatever it is you kids do these days!

MCA Records | DL | 2022

Transvision Vamp: A’s, B’s & Rarities – DL [2022]

  1. Revolution Baby [7″ ver.]
  2. I Want Your Love [7″ ver.]
  3. Revolution Baby [Zeus B. Held mix]
  4. Baby I Don’t Care [7″ ver.]
  5. The Only One [7″ ver.]
  6. [I Just Wanna] Be With U [alternative single mix]
  7. Twangy Wigout [7″ ver.]
  8. Child Of The Age
  9. Sweet Thing

This compilation is a bit of a re-do of disc four of the “I Want Your Love” box with the addition of “Sweet Thing” and the dropping of three other tracks. It’s 35 years later and Transvision Vamp still have a frightening amount of material at our fingertips; perhaps in contrast to the strong, but by no means powerhouse level of popularity they had all those years ago. Is it my imagination, or are the labels leaving nothing left to chance in these end times?

-30-

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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16 Responses to That First Taste Of Transvision Vamp On A Freebie Record Mirror EP

  1. Scott Klapman says:

    Discogs sellers list over a 100 sellers with dirt-cheap prices for all these late ’80s 7″ UK mag freebies. There will never be a time in human history where they’ll finally be able to unload them all, unless they’re piled in the dumpster. ’87’s Sonic Sounds 2 still has a great, otherwise unreleased Soup Dragons song (not a demo, remix, etc.).

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Scott Klapman – So thankfully, there are still some parts of the market where hideous bubbles can’t occur! That was the reason for freebie records; to put songs in our hands as cheaply as possible. I’d be crestfallen if this EP were selling for serious money.

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  2. Big Mark says:

    I always really dug “I Want Your Love” in particular (“I want your funky love, baby”). I quite enjoy Zeus B. Held’s 1978 LP “Zeus’ Amusement”, which I acquired at one point when I had an interest in the Brain Records label and considered making that my next Charisma.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Big Mark – Woah! “My next Charisma??!” Are you implying that you now own the entire output of that label?! I dream of all of ZTT (only the first five years) but in all candor, the only label I have a realistic chance on completing a run on is The Compact Organization!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Big Mark says:

        I don’t quite have everything but I am darn close. As of a few years ago, I have every LP in the CAS series (Charisma and B&C). Of 326 known single releases in the CB series, I now have but 11. Other than those, there are only a handful of things I know of that I don’t have.

        At one point I seriously considered going completist on Germany’s old Brain label, as there is lots of stuff there that I really like — Ruphus, Novalis, Jane, Guru Guru, early Edgar Froese solo, S.F.F., Birth Control, etc. I ultimately decided against it as the early rare stuff commands prices that are just too high. Several are routinely in the $200 – $300 range, and those are some of the things that would be of least interest to me (e.g., the first two Scorpions albums).

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        • Big Mark says:

          Correction; Of 326 known single releases in the CB series, I now have ALL but 11.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Big Mark – That’s right, early Scorps [as produced by Conny Plank!] were on Brain. Paying hundreds of dolars for records you disliked would be the deal breaker for Brain. That’s why The Compact Organization is so appealing to me. I’ve never heard any artist on that label who I disliked. All of it is still relatively affordable. I doubt that many records would be >$100. I have a nearly complete Mari Wilson collection, so that’s a hefty chunk of it all! I really appreciated the sensibilities that Tot Taylor brought to the label. He really thought things out and made it happen.

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          • Big Mark says:

            I wouldn’t necessarily dislike those early Scorpions records, but their relative interest to me would in no way equal their market price. Likewise many of the first 20 or so Brain releases, which are “classic krautrock”, but too expensive to take a chance on. There’s loads of 70s German stuff that I love, but there’s also been plenty of stuff of which krautrock collectors seem to think highly that didn’t do a lot for me!

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  3. Steve Shafer says:

    PPM,

    Was never a Transmission Vamp fan, but did you ever hear the weird but kind of good/guilty pleasure collaboration between Elvis Costello and Wendy James, “Now Ain’t the Time for Your Tears”?

    Here’s the spot-on TP entry (by Ira):

    “In a bid for artistic credibility, former Transvision Vamp chart tart James begged Elvis Costello to write a song for her. Rather than hand off one scrap, however, Elvis took it upon himself — with help from his missus, Cait O’Riordan — to spend a weekend cutting ten pungent tunes from the bolt of curt, sharp-tongued cloth that typified his early work with the Attractions. (His demo sessions with Pete Thomas, who wound up playing on James’ LP, had something to do with the group’s Brutal Youth reunion.)

    James’ breathy, pitchy, mannered voice doesn’t do justice to the best songs on Now Ain’t the Time for Your Tears, which leaves the album a showcase for Thomas’ typically superb drumming and the casual sharpness of Costello’s hasty retrofits. A few of the tunes are gimmicks (the soundalike Clash citations of “London’s Brilliant,” the orchestral humphering of “I Want to Stand Forever”) or uncharacteristically trite (“Fill in the Blanks,” a prostitute’s monologue, trips over clumsy lyrics; the chord progression in the stately waltz “Do You Know What I’m Saying?” has an infuriating stall), but “This Is a Test,” “Basement Kiss,” “Earthbound,” “We Despise You” and “Puppet Girl” are all fine epilogues to the early Costello canon. Still, the suspicion that Elvis (who later derided the Chris Kimsey production) aimed his conceptual darts at James’ ambitions rather than the subjects of his songs leaves the album — inexplicably titled after a Bob Dylan lyric in “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” — feeling like a practical joke at her expense.”

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Taffy says:

    Never heard this magazine-mounted unreleased T Vamp song til just now. Not bad. Pop Art was a really fun album, kind of a weird Sigue Sigue Sputnik meets a T-Rex-obsessed Blondie after dark. Saw the band live once or twice…they were, um, not bad. Wendy’s vocals were just OK, but there was personality to spare. Thought about getting the box set for a hot minute, but realized their three studio albums were really all I’d need.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – You saw TVV??!! In America???!!! But your description of them is perfect! I didn’t think that Sigue Sigue Sputnik would ever have been a valid influence for anyone…Suicide with samplers…too niche! But I definitely picked up on the vibe wafting off of “Pop Art’s” densely packed grooves. You shoulda sprang for the box. The remixes and B-sides were de riguer. At the very least you need this bad boy!

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      • Taffy says:

        Yeah, they toured the US for Little Magnets Versus the Bubble of Babble. Saw them in November 1991 with Dramarama, an American new wave band I distinctly recall not liking very much.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Taffy – I hear you on Dramarama. How did they ever get KROQ-FM’s top requested dong? They were so tepid. Though I do see that Clem Burke drummed for them on their 1993 tour, so you just missed getting some Blondie DNA! I will admit that the Chris Carter produced/written “Mayor Of Sunset Strip” [Rodney Bingenheimer docu] was a very entertaining film, even if there was a big Dramarama factor in the music featured. Probably the only time I ever heard them without turning it off. Highly recommended for Kim Fowley’s human reptile interjections!

          Like

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