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Music and MP3: 2001
I've been involved in music for all of my life. I have a great love of rare, alternative "new wave" type of music. Some people call it synthpop. You know, those songs that you have heard in movies and so on, you don't know the artist or the name of the song...but it's such a great song! I grew up listening to radio station CFNY, and dedicated a fair bit of my life to this kind of music.
Read the story of my career as a professional club DJ.
This is the reason why I have put up this page. I've seen other people do similar things, particularly the excellent Blake's Rare Recording of the Week. However, the other pages never seem to post the music that I would have myself selected. Couple this with the fact that I own well in excess of 2,000 records and CD's, much of which is extremely rare and hard to find. It's a real shame that this music ends up sitting on my shelves, not being played. This is my solution.
Once a week on Mondays, I will post a rare track of my choosing in MP3 format. Feel free to email me your suggestions, but please remember that it is my choice. Once the track has been online for four weeks, it will be taken off, permanently.
All tracks are encoded at 160 Kbps or better using the Fraunhofer encoding engine. The majority of the tracks are mastered from vinyl, however it is done through studio-grade equipment, and all editing is done in the digital domain.
December 31, 2001
So long to 2001, and unfortunately I must say, good riddance! I'm looking forward to a wonderful and prosperous 2002, and I hope the same for all the kind people who visit this page every week. I will be featuring a couple new and exciting things this year, one of which will be starting next week, so be sure to tune in!
To finish off the year, I'm featuring a request from one of the many kind people who write and comment on my MP3 page. Book of Love is an American synthpop group that has stood the test of time - best known for their 1985 hit "I Touch Roses", they are still together, producing music and touring.
Purchase Book of Love albums online here
December 24, 2001
Band Aid: Do They Know It's Christmas (12" Mix)
I featured this song as my Christmas song last year, and I've had so many requests, I had to do it again. So, for the first time ever, I am featuring a song a second time.
Released in November of 1984, it debuted in the UK at number one, and made it to number one in the US two weeks later, benefiting starving Ethiopians. Written by Bob Geldof and produced by Midge Ure and Trevor Horn, it sold over fifty million copies.
This is a special 12" mix that has an extended break 3/4 the way through in which the various performers send their spoken messages. It took me years to find this record. :)
An just in case you were wondering, the performers on the track were (in alphabetic order): Bananarama, Bob Geldof, Culture Club, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Heaven 17, Human League, Kool and the Gang, Midge Urge, Paul McCartney, Paul Young, Phil Collins, Spandau Ballet, Status Quo, Sting, The Style Council, U2 and Wham!
As far as I know the 12" version was never re-released, but the original version can be found on a Midge Ure/Ultravox compilation. You can purchase the compilation online here!
Merry Christmas and thank you to all of the wonderful people who have made it worthwhile to post these songs every week!
December 17, 2001
From the late 1980's, Ten City was a perfect representation of the evolution of the Chicago "House" sound. Ten City was a trio that originally started out as "Ragtyme", releasing three albums before disintegrating in 1993. Mixing what had started to become a stereotyped dance/house sound with R&B vocals, Ten City managed to have a few hits from their first album, including "Right Back To You", and this week's track, which was a huge dance floor hit, but not a song that anyone could really ever remember or identify.
In other news, I got an email from Heaven 17's Martyn Ware this week, promoting his new venture with Erasure's Vince Clark, called Illustrious Co. Ltd. Martyn and Vince have been collaborating for some time on digital soundscape albums, and have now decided to turn it into a business. Check it out!
Purchase Ten City albums online here
December 10, 2001
This week's song is yet another request. It's such a great song, I'm blown away that I haven't thought to feature it before now.
I know next to nothing about this band or this song. I know it was released in 1984, and that I looked for this 12" for a very long time. I was thrilled when I found it in a used record store in around 1990 or so. As far as I know, it was never featured on any compilation album. This track embodies mid-1980's synthpop like no other!
Know something about Colour Code? and let me know!
Update - Dave offers this tidbit: Mark Duffy of Colour Code now runs a production company, and his site can be seen here.
Nov. 2002 - Another update - Sam writes:
Jan. 2003 - Another update:
December 3, 2001
Welcome to December! My wife and I were listening to an 80's channel on the satellite the other day, and this song came on. My wife said; "this would be a perfect weekly song!" I agreed. So this afternoon I spent some time recording and digitizing a bunch of great old 80's vinyl, including some outstanding requests that will show up in the next few weeks. This is the first one of those vinyl recordings.
Robbie Nevil started his career as a songwriter for The Pointer Sisters, El Debarge, Earth Wind and Fire, and many others. This was his one big hit in the US. He released three albums as well as a "greatest hits" album, but after this big hit, he moved primarily to producing and once again writing for other artists. He recently started his own label and is shopping his talent roster to major labels.
Purchase Robbie Nevil albums online here
November 26, 2001
If you have never heard of Simple Minds, you obviously weren't sentient during the 1980's. This 12" track is by far my favorite Simple Minds song. I had people offer me fair amounts of money for my vinyl 12" single, but I managed to hang on to it, to be able to present it to you now.
Absent from the recording world since 1995, Simple Minds' 2001 return with their album "Neon Lights" has been eagerly awaited.
Purchase Simple Minds albums online here
November 19, 2001
I featured another track from Scary Thieves, "The Waiting Game" in August of last year. At the time I said that I didn't know anything about the band other than that that drummer "CP Snare" (an obvious alias) also played for Big Country and a band called "Spizzenergi" before playing with Scary Thieves. I've found out nothing further since then, so I present this brilliant track without any real, useful information about it. So enjoy!
Update: The complete story on Scary Thieves is now featured at the June 23, 2003 entry.
November 12, 2001
In 1985, a synth-backed pop tune appeared on the airwaves in Canada and Europe, from Canadian Gino Vannelli. This song was something new, and the heavy synths fit perfectly with the 1985 sound. This song was "Black Cars", the 12" dance mix which appears here this week. A second, less successful synth-y track from this album, the ballad "Hurts to Be In Love" was also a hit in Canada.
Most people thought Gino was a newcomer to the music scene - but in fact, his first album was released in 1973. The Black Cars album was in fact his eighth album, having moved through rock, disco, jazz and pop. He has to date released thirteen albums with his brother Joe Vannelli, and continues to record and tour worldwide.
November 5, 2001
This week's track is by request. In 1980, a Birmingham band called "The Beat" (known as "The English Beat" in North America, due to the fact that there was already a band called "The Beat" over here) released their first album. Following two more albums, one in 1981 and one in 1982, they disbanded. Roland Gift went on to form Fine Young Cannibals, and Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger formed General Public, generating two top-40 hits over three albums. General Public went on hiatus from 1987 to 1993, and continue to tour today.
I don't usually post links to other web sites here, but this one is simply so brilliant (particularly the Flash introduction) that I just have to. Visit Dave Wakeling's site here. Turn the sound up first!
Purchase General Public albums online here
October 29, 2001
Talk Talk was essentially Mark Hollis, and existed from 1982 through 1991, with their most commercially popular material appearing in the early 1980's. "Such a Shame" was from their 1984 album "It's My Life", featuring the title track as well as "Dum Dum Girl", and was by far their best album, although 1985's "The Colour of Spring" with its smash hit "Life's What You Make It" was their most commercially successful album.
Purchase Talk Talk albums online here
October 22, 2001
This is a pretty rare track by a very obscure band. The Lover Speaks was made up of David Freeman and Joseph Hughes. This album was in fact released on CD once upon a time, however those copies have all but disappeared, although the vinyl version (which I have a copy of) can still be found on the Internet once in a while.
You may recognize this track; it was later covered (very successfully) by The Eurythmics. When released originally by The Lover Speaks in 1986 it reached #58 in the charts in England; it was virtually unheard of elsewhere.
When asked how he liked Annie Lennox's version of his song, David Freeman remarked: "Both myself and my accountant loved Annie's recording very much."
October 15, 2001
This week's track is selected by my wife Janine. World Party is essentially Karl Wallinger and whatever musicians he needs to cobble up at the moment for recording or touring. Wallinger was originally part of The Waterboys, but split and created World Party. This track, released in 1986, was critically acclaimed, but not a commercial success. It wasn't until the follow up album, "Goodbye Jumbo", and its huge hit "Way Down Now" was released that people started recognizing and playing this track.
Purchase World Party albums online here
October 8, 2001
I feel very old. After selecting this week's track, I went to look up the year it was released. I thought to myself, "oh, it was 1985 or 86, somewhere around there." Then I looked at the vinyl - 1982!
Poor Kajagoogoo. They had such potential. While Limahl (Chris Hamill) did go on with a successful solo career, the only real hit that came from Kajagoogoo was this week's track, which was produced by Duran Duran's keyboardist Nick Rhodes. This is the 12" vinyl mix of the track. Enjoy!
Purchase Kajagoogoo albums online here
October 1, 2001
I know very little about When in Rome, other than this track has been requested several times by several different people. When in Rome was a Manchester band, featuring Clive Farrington, Andrew Mann and Michael Floreale. Before being known as When in Rome, they had another band, called Leisure. Leisure featured Corinne Drewery, who would go on to front Swing Out Sister. "The Promise" was When in Rome's only hit single, and after releasing their only self-titled album, they quickly faded into obscurity.
Purchase When in Rome albums online here
September 24, 2001
Kid Creole and the Coconuts is a band that started in the early 1980's and is still going strong today. Renowned for having one of the strongest and most original stage shows in the business, Kid Creole backs up his gorgeous Coconuts with a full big-band brass outfit.
This song always caught my fancy when played on CFNY, and I played it a few times just for fun. They also produced the wonderful "Endicott", in a similar vein.
Purchase Kid Creole albums online here
September 17, 2001
This week's track is a listener request. I will admit, I know absolutely nothing about it. I bought the 12" of it at some point, probably because it showed up on a club chart somewhere. I do seem to remember playing it once and having it clear the dance floor, and not ever playing it again. I sat and listened to it now, and it's actually not a bad track - a great beat and bass line, albeit a little slow (sounds like around 110-115 BPM) for the dance floor.
Know something about CCCP or this track? Send it along, and I'll post it here.
September 10, 2001
Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns) is best known as one of the founding members of The Damned (and yes, they're still around - their last major tour was in 1998). He originally accepted the name "Captain Sensible" with reluctance, wanting to call himself "Duane Zenith." The Damned became the first Punk band to release a single, an album, the first to tour the US, and the first to break up, in early 1978.
In June of 1982, Captain Sensible released his first single for A&M Records, "Happy Talk" (the children's song), from his first album "Women and Captains First." When producing the album, they had space for one track left, and the producer told Captain Sensible that if he had no more songs left, that they would put in a cover song. So he went and flipped through his parents' record collection, and found "Happy Talk." This track led to a karaoke program on Sky TV, with Suggs, and brought Captain Sensible to the forefront of public awareness (at least in the UK).
On the 12" issue of "Happy Talk", the B-side contained this track, "Wot?". Unlike the 7" release, the 12" version (unfortunately) does not contain the wonderful overdriven piano throughout the song. However, it does contain a tiny surprise just at the very end of the track, as it is fading out. When transferring this track from vinyl, I bumped up the levels right at the end, so if you play it loud enough, you should be able to hear it. Enjoy!
Purchase Damned albums online here
September 3, 2001
I know very little about this predominantly female ska band. The majority of their hits (primarily this track and "Montego Bay") were in the UK top-40 in 1985. Their album was released on Island Records in 1988, and they quickly disappeared. Claire Kenny from the band later joined Shakespear's Sister.
I picked this track because it is simply a happy, infectious song with big fat brass sounds, and it makes you want to get up and dance. I heard it first on CFNY (where else), and later played it in my clubs, and it never failed get people onto the dance floor.
Purchase Amazulu albums online here
August 27, 2001
A long time ago in the early 80's, there was a band called Yazoo. The combination of Alison Moyet's vocals and the electronica of Vince Clarke (fresh from leaving Depeche Mode) produced some of the most startling and enduring electronic music of the 1980's.
I seldom like remixed or re-done songs many years after the fact (how many times have we heard a remix/re-release of Real Life's "Send Me An Angel"?), but the 1990 "Madhouse Mix" of the original 1981 hit had my jaw hitting the floor. Along with the addition of a brutal, mind-twisting dancefloor beat, it retained the spirit and sound of the original, rather than "interpreting" the track, as is so often done today.
Purchase Yazoo albums online here
August 20, 2001
I'm a huge Björk fan, and consider her to be one of the most talented and diverse artists of our time. My only complaint about her work is that there simply isn't enough of it! At least we're finally going to be blessed with a new album, her first in four years, to be released in one week!
That said, this track is a bit of a rarity. The story goes thus: In 1997, the Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" was scored by David Arnold - who collaborated with Björk on the haunting track "Play Dead". Later on, he also got the project of making a compilation album featuring covers of various James Bond songs - done by artists like Aimee Mann, Leftfield, Iggy Pop, Pulp and Björk, who covered the Nancy Sinatra song "You Only Live Twice."
After hearing her vocals on the track, Björk decided to pull her track from the album, unsatisfied with what she had done with the song. She later said this about it in a webchat: "I learned the hard way that you should never cover your favorite tunes because they are good already. Cover bad tunes and make them good." The track was redone by Natacha Atlas and released on the compilation.
Fortunately for the rest of the world, a promo copy of the Björk version had already gone out to a few radio stations, including the famous KROQ in Los Angeles, where it quickly became an oft-requested song. This week's track is that promo copy, with apologies for the background buzz throughout the track - unlike virtually every other track I post on this page, I did not encode this one myself. Enjoy!
Purchase Bjork albums online here
August 13, 2001
This track was probably Fad Gadget's biggest hit, at least in North America, and I suspect across Europe as well. Fad Gadget, aka Frank Tovey, was the very first artist ever signed to Daniel Miller's Mute label, way back in 1979. With a series of dance-floor hits preceding it, this 1984 track was played in every modern dance club in the world - but most people had no idea who it was by.
The Berlin Mix of this song was featured on a few 80's compilation albums, most notably album number two of the SPG Classic Alternatives series. However, it took me a great deal of time to find this original 12" extended mix, which I consider to be far superior. Enjoy!
Purchase Fad Gadget albums online here
August 6, 2001
Sorry for the late posting this week - it was a long weekend up here in Canada, and I thought I'd catch one more day up at the cottage on the beach instead of sweating it back here at home. This week's track is a suggestion from my wife (well, one of the printable ones, anyway). :) As soon as she mentioned it, I thought, "I haven't heard that song in YEARS!!" ....which pretty well qualifies it for this page.
New Zealand's Split Enz was best known for their biggest hit "I Got You" in 1980, and were seen by some as a "one hit wonder." However, the band was around in one form or another from 1972(!) through 1984, releasing twelve(!) albums and the usual five "best of" compilation albums after the band broke up.
Neil Finn, along with his brother Tim, was a founding member of Split Enz. After the band finished in 1984, Neil went on to form Crowded House, which became a worldwide smash and Top-40 sensation.
Purchase Split Enz albums online here
July 30, 2001
From their 1984 album "Mystery Walk", another Daniel Lanois production, this was a somewhat controversial song about how US radio was still split up into racially separate formats, at a time when Michael Jackson was first receiving airplay on traditionally "white" stations.
July 23, 2001
You might know this Toronto-based band by their other name: M+M. You might know them from their seminal hit, "Echo Beach". While starting out as an eight-piece group in 1977, after releasing the hit "Echo Beach" the group self-destructed, and the remains were Martha Johnson and Mark Gane. Martha and Mark (M+M, get it?) found a new bass player, Jocelyn Lanois. Jocelyn had two brothers, Bob and Dan, who had a studio in Hamilton. After doing some demo tapes there with Dan, they asked him to produce their third album. Dan, as in Daniel, yes, as in Daniel Lanois, agreed.
This week's track is from that third album, and the first one produced by world-famous producer Daniel Lanois. Next week we'll feature a later (M+M) track. Enjoy!
July 16, 2001
The World's Famous Supreme Team is basically the same group that produced "Buffalo Gals", although Malcolm McLaren did not insist on his name being in the group's name this time. This was a follow-up to the underground and club hit "Buffalo Gals." With more of a pop feel to it, this 1984 release actually charted in some markets, but remained primarily a club track. Mariah Carey stole it to use in her song "Honey" and it regained a slight popularity once more. (I can't say Mariah "samples" or "borrows" songs - she outright steals them. Her "Fantasy" is essentially the brilliant Tom Tom Club song "Genius of Love" with her vocals and some fatter beats on top of it. But enough about Ms. Carey (can you tell I'm not a fan?).
There is some cursory scratching in the middle of this track - somewhat revolutionary to commit to vinyl at the time, but rather tame by today's standards. With a group name like "World's Famous Supreme Team," this song was destined to be requested as, "can you play that Hey DJ song?"
July 9, 2001
EVERYBODY knows this song. It's another one of those "get up and go crazy" songs that everyone loses their minds while dancing to. I can recall when this song was just becoming popular, going crazy to it myself at high school dances (am I dating myself here?). :)
Pigbag was started in 1980 by Chris Hamlyn, who was at the time studying clarinet and percussion at Cheltenham Art College in England. He recruited multi-instrumentalist Roger Freeman, (an old friend from his hometown Birmingham) along with Chris Lee on trumpet and James Johnstone, a guitarist and newcomer to the alto sax, for some wild and crazy jam sessions. James brought in his old friends Chip Carpenter (drums) and Mark Smith (bass) a month later, and with the two new members, the jam sessions begat "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag". Chris heard that Simon Underwood had left "The Pop Group" and through a mutual friend invited him to join the as-yet unnamed Pigbag. Simon brought along his friend, tenor sax player Ollie Moore.
While playing their very first gig supporting The Slits, they played a 20-minute version of Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag, and the crowd went absolutely nuts. The next day, Dick O'Dell, manager of The Slits and owner of Y Records invited them to record the track. It was recorded early in 1981 and became an instant underground smash hit, selling thousands of copies and appearing on many independent charts.
After a successful club tour in 1982, the track was re-released, and made it to #3 on the mainstream UK charts, giving the band their only mainstream success.
The single was followed up by a couple albums, from which a couple moderately successful singles were released. Disappointed with their lack of success, the band broke up in 1983.
So, why did I pick this song this week? Not because of the story I just wrote. It's because my wife Janine, in her days as a starving student at the University of Birmingham, threw a big party in her flat. Staggering drunkenly (her words, not mine) into her kitchen, she realized that most of the members of Pigbag were in fact standing there. She spent the rest of the evening telling anyone who would listen, "there are pop stars in my kitchen!!!"
And if she finds out I have told this story online, I'm dead. :) Enjoy this week's track. :)
Purchase Pigbag albums online here
July 2, 2001
Here we go again with another track that I know absolutely nothing about. My 12" single shows a date of 1987, so I'll assume it was released around then. I know I played it in clubs when it first came out, so that should make that date about right. Lots of great samples in it (including the classic Hashim sample) throughout, and some early scratching. It was released on ZYX records in the UK, and I suspect it is a UK band (it certainly sounds British). My domestic American version was on Brouhaha records. I think I have the video somewhere on a record pool video from years ago. There's virtually no information on my 12" single or the cover.
And that's about all I know! Anyone care to enlighten me and everyone else about this song or this band, I'd be pleased to have any information you could provide.
June 25, 2001
This week's track is by request. A little-known Toronto band called Chain of Fun, consisting of Jonathan Clark on bass, Gord Pitts on drums, and three brothers named McPeek: Geoff (vocals), Jerome (keyboards, vocals) and Ben (guitar, vocals). The three brothers inherited a commercial recording studio when their father died, and raising $5000, they recorded their self-titled debut EP. This track, Paisley Girls, was the most popular track, gaining airplay in 1986 on CFNY and Ryerson's CKLN in Toronto.
They shopped the EP in England, but any potential deal they could have taken would have required relocating away from Toronto, so they decided to call it a day.
The track was featured on the compilation "A Canadian Alternative" along with a rather dismal 1991 remix version.
June 18, 2001
I went to see Depeche Mode on Saturday night on their "Exciter" world tour. Amazing show, one of the best I've seen from DM. I thought; "well of course, I'll have to feature Depeche Mode on this week's MP3 track." But hmmm...everything in the last 10 years people have heard a million times, and everything from before that everyone's heard on compilation albums. I started browsing through some remixes, but I know that people get a little annoyed when Razormaid, On-U-Sound and other DJ remix service remixes are posted publicly in MP3 format. So I decided to feature an original 80's Depeche Mode song, but the 12" mix, which some people may not have heard.
Having narrowed it down thus, I had to decide which track to feature. I narrowed it down to "Just Can't Get Enough" (probably the song that first got me hooked on Depeche Mode waaay back when) and "Shake the Disease" (probably my favorite early DM song).
"Screw it," I said (yes, I actually said it out loud), "I'll post both of them." So here you are, in a double-feature, original 12" mixes of two of my favorite 80's Depeche Mode tracks. Enjoy.
Purchase Depeche Mode albums online here
June 11, 2001
Everyone remembers A-Ha, and their breakout single "Take On Me", from 1985. More importantly, they remember that fantastic video, combining real images and scribbled cartoons. I loved this song the instant I heard it (on CFNY of course, a few weeks before it made it to Top-40), and no wonder - genius Tony Mansfield (New Musik, Naked Eyes) produced all but three songs on the debut album it was taken from.
Very early on, I could have sworn that I heard an extended version of "Take On Me" somewhere. Being the 12" extended mix nutcase that I am, I spent months - and then years - searching for it, fruitlessly. Other A-Ha songs had domestic 12" mixes released, and they were available everywhere - but the extended version of "Take On Me" eluded me. In the mid-1990's, I decided that I had either heard a private label remix service version, or I had been mistaken.
Wouldn't you know it then, long after having given up searching for it, while leafing aimlessly through a bin in a used record store in Washington DC, did none other than the extended 12" version of "Take On Me" spring into view. I snatched it up, paid the $2.50 for it, and headed home. Yup, sure enough, this was the version I had heard all those years ago. A full minute added to it (all of 4:45 instead of the album 3:46 version).
I have never seen this track released anywhere else, not on any compilation, nowhere, so I suspect it is fairly rare. The record I have is a European import, and I suspect it was never released domestically. So for anyone who has never heard it before, may I present the 12" mix of A-Ha's "Take On Me". Enjoy.
Purchase A-Ha albums online here
June 3, 2001
This is another one of those songs that people would come up to me and request, but would never know the name of, or who it was. They would say, "can you play that Male Stripper song?"
Man 2 Man were brothers Miki and Paul Zone. They were well known in the gay disco scene, and had been signed on with Bobby Orlando to produce their first single. When that relationship soured, they did some studio production work on other acts in return for free studio time of their own. This led to them meeting up with Man Parrish, and the recording of this track on an 8-track open-reel deck in Man Parrish's home. It was originally released as a B-side on a Mexican label, but quickly rose to #1 in the UK dance charts. Miki, fighting a serious drug abuse problem, died shortly after, on December 31, 1986. Two months later Male Stripper made it in into the UK pop charts.
While confined to the dance clubs and alternative dance radio in North America, it nonetheless became a signature track that anyone who spent any amount of time in 1980's dance clubs is quite familiar with.
That said, I must apologize for the quality of this track, particularly the first 15 seconds. The vinyl that I used to record this has seen many years of nightclub mixing use and abuse. The "static" noise you hear at the beginning is from hundreds of backcues (pulling the record backwards) back and forth over the beginning beat while preparing for a beatmix into this song from another song. So it goes for the vinyl collection of an ex-club DJ...
Purchase Man 2 Man albums online here
May 28, 2001
Yup, that's right, Elton John.
One of the greatest things to do as a club DJ (I found, anyway) was to play the extended intro on a 12" version of a well-known, popular song. The people on the dance floor, used to the top-40 version played on the radio, wouldn't recognize it, but would dance anyway, because the intro had a groove and a good beat. When the intro broke into the actual song that they recognized, they would go absolutely nuts, and the energy in the room would be just amazing. This is one of those tracks.
I had wondered how to post this - should I post it as "you guess the song" and not tell you what it is? Should I post just the intro? But chances are, you simply wouldn't download it. So I decided just to post it as is, and describe why it was I had chosen the track.
This track is a 1988 remix by Shep Pettibone of the Elton John hit. Originally done for the Mastermix service, it ended up on the domestic 12" single.
There's one other reason I picked this track: The bass line. Coming in at 0:43 seconds into the track, it has just mind-blowing subwoofer-only bass that simply can't be detected with headphones or with a sound system that lacks a subwoofer. I commonly used this track to test out a club's subwoofer setup at the beginning of a night. If you've got a subwoofer, crank it up and let this track rip - I promise you won't be disappointed.
Lastly, there's a little bit of an extra right at the very end of the song. I have to admit that until I recorded and encoded the song this week, I never even heard this on the 12". Wonder who it is talking?
Purchase Elton John albums online here
May 21, 2001
As promised, here is our second Images In Vogue track. I actually prefer the beginning of the single version of this song, which has the ambience of an old movie, but the remix on this version is simply brilliant, particularly the use of the staccato synth in the longish break.
Again, if you like these two tracks, I'm sure you will love just about everything else they've done - these tracks really are quite representative of their catalog. Go out and buy the album! You won't be disappointed!
Or, purchase Images In Vogue albums online here.
May 14, 2001
I'm absolutely torn over this week's selection. The problem is that this amazing Canadian group put out so much great material, I simply can't pick which track to feature. I can't go for the next seven weeks featuring Images In Vogue, so here's what I'll do: I'm going to feature "Rescue Me" this week, a happier, top-40-ish sounding track to get your attention. Next week I will feature an extended version of a darker track to reel you in. Then it's up to you to go out and purchase their Best Of CD. I promise you - you won't regret it!
Most people (outside of Canada) will not have heard of Images in Vogue. They formed in 1981 in Vancouver, consisting of Dale Martindale (vocals), Gary Smith (bass, guitar, synthesizers), Don Gordon (guitar, synthesizers), Joe Vizvary (synthesizers, piano), Glen Nelson (synthesizers, vocals), Kevin Crompton (electronic & acoustic percussion), Ed Shaw (guitar; replaced Gordon 1984), Derrick Gyles (percussion; replaced Crompton 1986), Tim Welch (guitar; replaced Nelson 1986).
Note the proliferation of synthesizers. They were a very electronic based band, topped with the stylistic croonings of Dale Martindale (also known from CBC's Switchback TV show). Four 5-song EPs were released from 1981 to 1984 before their first full-length album in 1985, "In The House". Many of the EP tracks did extremely well, receiving extensive play on campus radio and in dance clubs across Canada, the US, and Britain. During this period they opened for Bryan Adams, Depeche Mode, Roxy Music and Duran Duran among others. The 1985 album really launched them into the Canadian forefront, earning extensive play on FM radio, a Juno award (Canada's equivalent of the Grammy) for best single, and a CFNY CASBY award for Best Album of the Year. The next year, they won two more CASBYs, one for Group of the Year and one for Single of the Year.
The group broke up in 1989 after changes in the musical style caused dissention amongst the members. Kevin Crompton adopted the name cEvin Key and formed Skinny Puppy. Dale Martindale fronted many acts in the 1990's, most recently 69 Duster. Joe Vizvary produced other bands around Vancouver including 4th Floor. Ed Shaw worked with Strange Advance. Tim Welch worked with National Velvet and most recently, Damhnait Doyle.
See the fairly comprehensive Images In Vogue web site here.
Images In Vogue appear in the online archive the 1984 CFNY U-Know award program, seen here.
Purchase Images In Vogue albums online here
May 7, 2001
This week we go to a band about whom I can honestly say I like virtually every song they have ever produced. I was on the fence over which single to feature this week - it was between this one and their debut single, "African and White". I decided to go with this song - partly because I have the 12" version of this one, and I have only the album version of "African and White".
China Crisis was founded in Liverpool England in 1979 by Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon, shortly after they finished school. Their debuted in 1981 with the single "African and White", then followed another single "Scream down at me" in 1982. Both these releases were on a small Liverpool independent label, Inevitable Records. The band was then signed by Virgin Records who re-released "African and White", which then became a minor UK hit, reaching number 45 in the singles chart.
Their first album, released in 1982 was called "Difficult shapes and passive rhythms, Some people think it's fun to entertain". This was followed in November of 1983 with their second album: "Working with fire and steel, Possible pop songs volume two" from which this track was taken.
Having attracted the interest of Steely Dan founding member, Walter Becker, he came to produce their third album "Flaunt the imperfection", released in April of 1985. The album was to be the band's greatest success to date, reaching no. 9 in the UK charts and sending them on an extensive tour.
"What Price Paradise" was the next album, released in 1986, followed by 1989's "Diary of A Hollow Horse". 1990 saw the beginning of a number of compilation releases, and the band leaving Virgin.
1994 brought yet another new album, albeit with some new members, called "Warped by Success". Late in 1995 the live album "Acoustically Yours" was released to critical acclaim, proving that even their older material still stands up today.
Purchase China Crisis albums online here
April 30, 2001
We're staying in Canada again this week, with another Toronto-based CFNY group, Blue Peter. Blue Peter was keyboardist Jason Sniderman (now VP of record chain Sam the Record Man), singer Paul Humphrey (now leads the band Broken Arrow) and guitarist Chris Wardman (now with BMG records doing A&R work). With their first album release in 1979, their popularity throughout Southern Ontario grew quickly. Opening for the Boomtown Rats, and later for the Police, they also played at the Police Picnic in 1983.
And more importantly, I saw them play live at my high school. Hrm, I'm dating myself here. :)
Their LPs and EPs were never reissued on CD, however in 1996 Jason and Chris got together to purchase the rights to the old master tapes, remix and remaster them, and release a "greatest hits" CD, "All Through The Night." Taken from Blue Peter's two full-length records, Radio Silence (1980) and Falling (1983), plus three EPs, Test Patterns for Living (1979), Up to You (1982) and Version (1983), "All Through The Night" contains 13 songs, plus the previously unreleased song "Equalizer" which was partially recorded in '85 and finished in '96.
Perhaps the most popular song they produced was this week's track, "Don't Walk Past." More happy sounding and pop-ish than a lot of their other material, it garnered significant airplay on Canadian top-40 radio. If you have never heard of Blue Peter, I invite you to enjoy what I think is their best track.
April 23, 2001
Back to Canada (Toronto, specifically) for this week's track. Guitarist Tony Duggan-Smith, guitarist Neil Chapman and singer/lyricist Graeme Williamson made up the Pukka Orchestra back at the start of the 1980's. The three members made up the core group, but it often swelled to as many as ten members for live gigs in the big live music scene in early 1980's Toronto.
Their first recorded track, "Rubber Girl" was a hit on Toronto alternative station CFNY, and the Pukkas were launched. This week's track was written about the brutal practices of Toronto Police's 52 division, and sadly did not make it onto the playlists of many top-40 stations because of its controversial nature. Their huge list of great tracks did make it onto many Canadian radio stations however, and they became a 1980's Canadian staple with their self-titled 1984 album. Sadly enough, they did not break into the American market, and their 1985 album "Dear Harry" (without label backing) did not get released until 1992, well after the Pukkas ceased to exist.
Graeme returned to his native Glasgow, and Neil and Tony stayed in Toronto, playing together in the Neotones. Up until last fall, the amazing first Pukka Orchestra album was available only on vinyl as a collectors item. In November of 2000 the Pukkas were able to get Koch records to re-release the album on CD. The CD is not commonly available in stores, but it can be ordered through Chapters online.
The Pukkas are reforming, and are looking to perform some live gigs in the Toronto area this spring and summer. They are also actively looking to get some promotion happening for their CD, which is not currently happening. They would appreciate some gentle reminders to their record label that they would like this to happen. If you care to help out, they'd appreciate you writing a polite, gentle letter urging the label to promote the Pukka Orchestra CD! You can write to them here.
April 16, 2001
This week's selection and commentary is by my wife Janine, who is from England (where Nik is also from)
Nik Kershaw is a classic musician whose songs were the soundtrack for BBC Radio 1's 1980s summer road shows, and personifies snoods, The Hairy Cornflake, Smash Hits (with Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant as editor) and happy, brainless 80's summers.
Uh, yeah. OK, for those of you who didn't spend the 1980's in England, I'm sure the above means that Nik Kershaw was the pinnacle of summer music fun. For those who have never heard of Nik Kershaw, we present what is my (and Janine's) favorite track of his. For those familiar with Nik's work, you will be pleased to know that he is still active, producing albums and touring!
Purchase Nik Kershaw albums online here!
April 9, 2001
If you are into the synthpop 80's scene, Midge Ure needs no introduction. If you are not, then you are in for a treat. Midge Ure is the genius behind Ultravox, and has a fair collection of solo material behind him as well. I could go on about him...but I will simply redirect you to one of the most complete fan sites I have ever encountered, the official Ultravox web site.
This week's track is by Midge Ure along with Mick Karn, and is by request. Enjoy!
Purchase Midge Ure/Ultravox albums online here
April 2, 2001
Once upon a time there was this relatively unknown group called "The Cure." Oh, OK, perhaps a few of you might have heard of them. :) Perhaps you might have also heard of their lead singer, Robert Smith.
OK, once upon a time there was this relatively unknown group called Siouxsie and the Banshees. In this group was a guy named Steve Severin.
Steve and Robert decided back in 1983 to get together and put an album out. The result was a group called "The Glove" and an album called "Blue Sunshine". Robert played guitar and Steve played bass. Most of the vocals on the album were done by a woman named Jeanette Landray, although Robert did sing on a couple tracks, including this week's track.
This one and only Glove album is a bit strange, dabbling from psychedelia to middle-eastern sounds, but it is this track that really caught my attention. The wonderful, otherworldly keyboards just seem to swell around you while Robert's typical vocals fit perfectly into the mix. Enjoy!
Purchase the Glove album online here
March 26, 2001
This week's track is by a man who should need no introduction. For those of you who are not familiar with the name "Martin Gore", I will let you know simply that he is the musical force behind Depeche Mode - he writes virtually all of the music that Depeche Mode produces.
In 1988, he produced this track, oddly enough not of his own writing, for the third of seven fantastic Sire "Just Say..." compilation albums, featuring various Sire recording artists. In 1989, it appeared on Martin's "Counterfeit" EP along with five other tracks, also none of his own writing (hence the name "Counterfeit", I suspect).
Martin has sung quite a few Depeche Mode tracks, instead of the usual frontman David Gahan. His voice is simply amazing, with a vibrato that I could only dream of approaching. Listen closely, and enjoy "In a Manner of Speaking."
Purchase the "Counterfeit" EP online here!
March 19, 2001
Wow. I'm absolutely blown away by the response the last two weeks' songs have generated. I'd say the email I have received in the past two weeks exceeds in total the email I have received in the past year from this page. Obviously I prodded a few memories with both Tom Robinson and Saga. I'm going to try to keep moving this way in the future.
Far and away my favorite Saga track of all time, the rock-opera-ish "Don't Be Late" was not a Top-40 hit, but was played by quite a few modern FM stations in the early 1980's in Canada. A few progressive stations in the US picked it up as well, and it was very popular in Germany, where Saga has always done quite well.
The absolutely brilliant keyboards in this track, mixed with the lead guitar winding a melody through to the two minute break four minutes into the song, where progressive key changes lead to a huge ending, waiting for Chapter IV in this (yes, wait for it...) musical saga.
Ah yes, you have now figured out the theme wending its way through the various Saga albums. Enjoy this week's track, and do let me know what you think of it.
Purchase Saga albums online here!
March 12, 2001
While in England, I was talking with a music-savvy friend of mine, and the band Saga came up in discussion. I was quite surprised to find out that he had never heard of Saga. When I got home, I emailed a few American friends - none of them had heard of Saga, either.
So for all of you who have never heard of this Canadian band, let me introduce you to one of my favorite bands of all time. Similar to Rush at times in terms of their story-like synth-driven rock operas, the music and lyrics together made them one of Canada's foremost 80's bands. That said, they continue today, releasing albums in 1997 and 1999.
And besides all that, they played my high school. :)
This song is from their huge "Worlds Apart" album, and was a top-40 staple in Canada for quite some time. Next week I'll feature another Saga track. Enjoy!
Purchase Saga albums online here!
March 5, 2001
We're back! I had a bit of an extended vacation in England, and I decided that it was pretty unrealistic to be uploading multi-megabyte files across the Atlantic via a 56K connection. These British types, how they survive without the bandwidth we take for granted, I'll never know... :)
In any case, this week's track is not synthpop, but hey, it's my page and I'll post what I want. :) It's a wonderful song by long-time English musician Tom Robinson. Written by both Tom and Peter Gabriel, it was released initially in 1982 on Tom's "North by Northwest" album, named just "Atmospherics". It appeared again in a different version in 1984 on his "War Baby: Hope And Glory" album with the full name as shown here. Also in 1984, Canada's Pukka Orchestra released a fairly successful cover of this song.
This version is from 12" vinyl. The odd sound just as the guitars start is not a digital artifact - I even pulled the vinyl back out to make sure it was on there. On the B-side of the 12" is a seven-minute version of this song played live in Berlin. It's great, with Tom laughing through it, but I thought twelve minutes might be a bit much to post in MP3.
Visit Tom's site: http://www.tomrobinson.com
Purchase Tom's albums online here!
February 5, 2001
This week's track is another request. I covered most of what there is to say about SSQ, Jon St. James and Stacey Q back on July 10, 2000 and July 17, 2000, so you may want to go back to the 2000 entry and have a look. In the meantime, enjoy one of the most forward-looking and brilliant groups of the early 1980's.
An addition to this week's entry: We have had the anonymous submission of a picture of Andy Porter, the guitarist from the Passion Puppets, which were featured in our September 18 2000 entry. In the picture he is doing an impression of Harpo Marx...umm, OK. We suspect there is a bit of friendly joking going on here. We'll leave it at that. :)
January 29, 2001
This track is by request, but I have virtually no information on it. I know that it was written by Barry Flynn, and that he is also the lead singer. It was released in 1986. It was produced by Tim Palmer, who has also produced Tin Machine, Pearl Jam, Tears for Fears, Robert Plant, The Cure, Duran Duran, Gene Loves Jezebel and U2, among many, many others. It was published by Dizzy Heights Music Publishing, whose only other artist that I could find is Sinead O'Connor. And that's about all I have on this track.
It was published on the Hardest Hits compilation volume 2 which itself has become a bit difficult to find. If you have any further information you could add, please and I will add it!
February 2003, I received the following from Simon at Torchomatic:
January 22, 2001
(yes, there are three "e"s in Freeez) This one is by request. A production of Arthur Baker (he produced the awesome New Order track "Confusion"), this massive club hit of 1983 reached #2 in the UK charts, while as per usual, was unheard of over in North America save for a few radio stations and virtually every dance club.
Originally put out as a club hit, it soon became a huge break-dancing song, before being remixed by Ben Liebrand (down from its original 120 bpm to a swing-feeling 107 bpm) and re-released in 1986. It made a bigger hit in America this time, but did not make it anywhere on the charts.
This is the original vinyl 12" version, which I don't believe has ever been released anywhere on CD.
January 15, 2001
OK, yes, I'm stooping to a top-40 song this week. But I chose this week's track for two reasons: First, it is a Canadian group that likely not a lot of people outside of Canada have heard of. Second, it's a 12" mix from some vinyl that I have that not a lot of people outside or inside Canada have heard. I bought this 12" single when the song was popular, but have never heard it played anywhere.
Platinum Blonde got its start in 1980 as a Police cover band. Two years later the founder Mark Holmes ditched his bandmates, auditioned some new ones, and got serious about creating a hit group. Recording 7 tracks in his living room, he sent the tape off to producer David Tickle (Split Enz, Peter Gabriel, Red Rider). Tickle came to Toronto to produce the group's first album, "Standing In the Dark." Touring across Canada with Billy Idol and Bryan Adams, the group quickly skyrocketed from playing small clubs to headlining huge arena shows, climaxing in the summer of 1984 with an outdoor concert in Toronto for 25,000 hysterical fans.
In February of 1985 they recorded the album "Alien Shores" from which this track came. Featuring guest appearances by Lisa Dalbello and Alex Lifeson (Rush), this number one album stayed in the Canadian charts for 11 weeks.
Trying to distance themselves from the "teeny bopper" image they had created, the band changed sounds, and produced an unsuccessful third album before calling it a day.
In 1999, a compilation "best of" album was released. You can purchase it online here!
January 8, 2001
Welcome back! Sorry about January 1st...I decided that after a year, I'd take just one week off. :)
One of my all-time favorite songs from one of my all-time favorite groups. The brilliant, classically trained Anne Dudley, along with the incomparably talented former studio technicians Trevor Horne and J.J. Jeczalik, completed with a (at the time) state of the art Fairlight CMI sampler created some of the most advanced and amazing music of the 1980's.
The Art of Noise continues today, albeit in a different vein. Each album points the group in a vastly different direction.
You can purchase Art of Noise albums online here!
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