Sunday, September 30, 2007

Johnny Logan - Hold Me Now (1987)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present, for your listening pleasure - Johnny Logan! Not just the two songs that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1980 ("What's Another Year") and 1987 ("Hold Me Now") but the whole 1987 album called Hold Me Now. Transferred from audio tape, so the digital transfer may reveal limitations in the original recording - other than the cheese, obviously.

Johnny Logan - Hold Me Now (1987)
  1. Hold Me Now
  2. Stay
  3. Foolish Love
  4. When Your Woman Cries
  5. I'm Not In Love
  6. Helpless Heart
  7. What's Another Year
  8. Heartbroken Man
  9. Living A Lie
  10. Such A Lady
Download Hold Me Now

A wiki search revealed that - multiplying the cheese factor by about a hundred - Johnny Logan recently appeared in some McDonald's ads in Ireland.

What can you say when words are not enough?

Need more Johnny? Head over to the McDonald's Eurosaver website, where apparently you can ask Johnny anything. Like, perhaps, "What were you thinking?"

Wikipedia entry

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Listening Booth: Clark Datchler

I mentioned in passing the other day that former Johnny Hates Jazz vocalist Clark Datchler had a new album out, his first in about 15 years. I've had a chance to listen to some of the tracks, and I was impressed. In particular the title track "Tomorrow" struck me as possibly the best song he's ever written, with a very contemporary sound.

Tomorrow - Video

Clark also offers a free track "Nothing Left To Lose" which is typical of the quality and sound of the whole album.

Clark Datchler - Nothing Left To Lose

As I've mentioned before, you can stream the album or download or purchase the CD at It's also available on iTunes and at Amazon.

**UPDATE** Just discovered a pretty good interview covering the new release and Clark's varied musical history. An interesting read.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jules Shear - The Great Puzzle (1992)

Sometimes musical discoveries seem to come about through true serendipity - an alignment of cosmic forces, if you will. A good example is this album by Jules Shear, to my mind the best in an absurdly idiosyncratic catalog dating back to the mid seventies. Back in 1992 I was reading a book in my local library by Paul Zollo (Songwriters on Songwriting) and out of all the interviewees, I was most interested by Jules. I was impressed to know that he had not only written "If She Knew What She Wants", my favorite song by the Bangles, but also "All Through The Night", amongst others. In describing his craft, he seemed to identify exactly the elements that can make a song special.

Although the interview was about five years old, by a quirk of coincidence I found a new release called The Great Puzzle nestling in the CD rack in our local store. It was unusual in those days for me to buy an album without reading a review, but without listening booths and the internet (can you imagine that?) sometimes you just had to take a chance. When the latest edition of Q Magazine came out, I noticed that they reviewed the album and gave it four stars out of five, an assessment I thoroughly agreed with.

Anyone who has not heard Jules' work before will find his voice takes a little getting used to. He has a very nasal, noo-yawk timbre, and in truth this can be a little wearing unless the material is compelling. Fortunately, every track on The Great Puzzle is a mini-masterpiece, a masterclass in songwriting where the melodies flutter and the stories weave their way into your head. Jules takes a slightly off-kilter approach to songwriting conventions. For example "Bark", naturally enough, is about a dog. "Jewel In A Cobweb" is about a dangerous relationship with some interesting spider allusions. "The Sad Sound of the Wind" and "Dreams Dissolve In Tears" take standard romantic break-up material and put an elegant spin on the proceedings such as "Not to deceive or with plans to leave/It was pure without intent". Other songs touch on loss, the perils of the world, and - in the sublime title track - its profound mysteries. When Jules wonders aloud, the question marks hang in the air like suspended chords.

Carefully produced by Stewart Lerman and also featuring his wife Pal Shazar, The Great Puzzle is a witty, melodic gem that has never lost its appeal to me. Nowadays, most second-hand CD stores have a copy for a couple of dollars - that's where I found the autographed one shown in the picture.

After the rise of the eBay era, I discovered that three additional "puzzle pieces" from the sessions had been added to a promotional single, but had never been commercially released. All three are fine efforts and I have no hesitation in appending them to the set.

Jules Shear - The Great Puzzle (1992)
  1. The Trap Door
  2. The Great Puzzle
  3. We Were Only Making Love
  4. The Sad Sound Of The Wind
  5. Something Else To Me
  6. Make Believe
  7. Much Too Much
  8. Dreams Dissolve In Tears
  9. The Mystery's All Mine
  10. Jewel In A Cobweb
  11. Bark
  12. His Audience Has Gone To Sleep (Bonus Track)
  13. She Makes Things Happen (Bonus Track)
  14. Nothing Is Left Behind (Bonus Track)

A few copies of the album were packaged with a bonus disc Unplug This, featuring acoustic versions of several tracks from this and previous albums. You can find this to download here courtesy of my friend Big-D at Musica Obscura, along with several other rare albums by Jules.

Official Jules Shear Website
Wikipedia entry
A Good Summary of links to various Jules Shear related articles

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

CD Review: Kate Nash - Made of Bricks

I was in the UK back in July visiting family. One of the new releases that week was Made of Bricks by Kate Nash, which caught my eye because (a) it was at number one in the charts and had that cool jewel case becoming more common in europe, (b) I had just seen a brief mention in Q Magazine and apparently she had recently been successful in the singles chart with "Foundations" and (c) she was likeable in that down-to-earth, girl of the street way that an expat Brit like me might enjoy when stateside and in need of some cockney-speak. I resisted temptation (I'm very wary of buying an album without hearing anything on it) but eventually bought it on eBay after just a couple of listens.

I'm going to make a conscious effort not to mention another singer's name that always seems to be mentioned in the same breath. Like other reviews I have read, I an going to say that there is some filler material, partly explained by the label (Fiction) rushing out the album five weeks early because of the single's success. The street-smarts is no mere gimmick, as it's pretty obvious that most of these songs have their roots in a very straightforward piano and or guitar setting, and if anything the challenge has been to avoid drowning out the obvious singer-songwriter talent with an unnecessary plethora of studio tricks and modern production effects. For the most part, the songs shine through. The single is probably the best place to start, with honest lines like "I hope I'm not stuck with this one" and "why don't you have another beer, then?" bringing a conversational quality to the track. "Birds" is a great romantic story song with some moments of word-play genius and other tracks like "Mouthwash" and "Skeleton Song" canter along in an entertaining manner. There's some profanity, but it never seems forced or superfluous.

No word yet on a US release but given the strong showing of British artists over the pond in recent times, there's no reason why it won't be a chart smash all over again. Overall, a great debut from a charming young talent.

You can listen to Kate's track by track commentary here

Here's some videos:
Birds (live acoustic session)
Interview for the Album Chart Show

Random 80's Wednesday

[mp3] Swimming With Sharks - Careless Love (from Swimming With Sharks, 1987)
[mp3] Shakin' Stevens - You Drive Me Crazy (from
Shaky, 1981)
[mp3] Pete Shelley - You Can't Take That Away (from
Heaven & The Sea, 1986)
[mp3] Thompson Twins - Savage Moon (from
Close To The Bone, 1987)
[mp3] The Commentators - Nineteen (Not Out!) (7" Single, 1985)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Saltyka And His Friends have more Wang Chung than even their mothers would want.

If you're feeling charitable, Joseph Arthur is offering two free tracks - A River Blue was recorded with needy children in Uganda and Last Train To Ithaca is a tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Do some good by making a donation and get some sounds at the same time.

Former Johnny Hates Jazz vocalist Clark Datchler has released his new studio album, Tomorrow, via InterAction Music Group. The disc includes 11 new songs as well as a brand new contemporary recording of "Shattered Dreams." Tomorrow can be purchased at iTunes, and

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Drop In The Gray - Certain Sculptures (1985)

In which we imagine a world where the compact disc was introduced in 1980, and now-obscure artists and albums could be preserved for posterity...

A Drop In The Gray - Certain Sculptures (1985)

  1. All the Same
  2. Wide Eyed One
  3. Fall and Cry
  4. Heartache Feeds Heartache
  5. A Place for You
  6. Past Your Frame
  7. No Light
  8. Only Love
  9. Turn Me 'Round
  10. Be There
  11. Alles Dasselbe

Colin Campbell (Guitar)
Marty Frederiksen (Percussion, Drums, Vocals)
Dan Phillips (Percussion, Vocals)
Hans Christian Reumschuessel (Bass, Cello

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thirty Eight Special

Today is my 38th birthday, and by way of celebration I am posting a compilation of thirty eight tracks that I think say something about the kind of music that I like and where I'm coming from. I can guarantee that you will find something you like on here. If you do, please let me know in the comments section. Many of these artists are in line to be featured in the next few weeks and months, all being well. I've split the tracks into four categories, with two bonus tracks to make a round number. I'm going to post half this week and the other half next Sunday if I get a positive response. Enjoy!

Disc One - Keep It Covered
  1. Guy Chadwick - Fall In Love With Me (covering David Bowie)
  2. Wilson Phillips - Go Your Own Way (covering Fleetwood Mac)
  3. Somegirl - The Model (covering Kraftwerk)
  4. Sandra - Such A Shame (covering Talk Talk)
  5. Mandy Moore - Senses Working Overtime (covering XTC)
  6. Collective Soul - Jealous Guy (covering John Lennon)
  7. Shawn Colvin - When The Rainbow Comes (covering World Party)
  8. Kelly Osbourne - Sound of the Crowd (covering Human League)
  9. Echo Image - Neverending Story (covering Limahl)
  10. Iris - The Picture (covering Hubert Kah)
Disc Two - B-Sides and Bonuses
  1. New Order - Don't Do It (B-Side of Fine Time)
  2. The Big Dish - Reverend Killer (B-Side of Slide)
  3. Chris Rea - Lies Become The Truth (extra track on French hits compilation)
  4. Midge Ure - Supernatural (B-Side of Cold, Cold Heart)
  5. Nik Kershaw - The Wrong Man (B-Side of Somebody Loves You)
  6. Black - Most of the Day (And All of the Night) (B-Side of Don't Take the Silence Too Hard)
  7. The Beautiful South - Java (B-Side of One Last Love Song)
  8. Boo Hewerdine - The King Is Dead (extra track on Japanese Thanksgiving CD)
  9. Keane - Snowed Under (B-Side of Somewhere Only We Know)
  10. The Feeling - When I Return (B-Side of Sewn)
UPDATE: My compilations have long since disappeared, so I've helpfully linked to available Amazon downloads if you should be interested. Oh yeah, 38 seems so young now!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jeff Lynne - Armchair Theatre (1990)

It was great to see the reissued Traveling Wilburys albums riding in the charts earlier this summer. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, all the members of that illustrious supergroup were producing the best material they had released in years. There was a generous spirit of collaboration that infused not only the Wilburys recordings, but also the solo albums released by several members not long after. Roy Orbison delivered Mystery Girl, a fine effort even by his high standards, and Tom Petty released Full Moon Fever, arguably still the finest individual collection of songs in his canon.

Tying all of these releases together was the trusty hand of Jeff Lynne, who capped a remarkable four year period by releasing his one and only solo album, Armchair Theatre. A modest success on release, the album has been out of print for several years now, a truly mystifying state of events given the overall quality of the record. Opening single "Every Little Thing" was straightforward and easy to like. "Lift Me Up" featured a heavenly chorus and found its way on to a soundtrack or two. The real treasures remain buried later in the album. The covers of two standards, "Stormy Weather" and "September Song", (ostensibly for Jeff's mother who had recently passed away) unroll their charms with a simplicity and directness that Jeff had never brought to his work before. Likewise, the charming closer "Save Me Now", a throwaway acoustic ditty, conveyed an earnestness and economy that ended the album on a high note. Throughout the album, fellow Wilbury George Harrison contributed his trademark slide guitar lines in a way that underlined and improved every song, without stealing any of Jeff's thunder.

My personal favorite is the penultimate track, a collaboration with Tom Petty entitled "Blown Away" that describes romantic aspiration with a remarkable mixture of lyric, melody, and instrumentation. The interesting thing to me about this album was how I bought it on a whim, played it once, and then shelved it for a full twelve months before I gave it a second chance. Even now, 16 years later, it sounds like a musical letter from a postcode in heaven.

Jeff Lynne - Armchair Theatre (1990)
  1. Every Little Thing
  2. Don't Let Go
  3. Lift Me Up
  4. Nobody Home
  5. September Song
  6. Now You're Gone
  7. Don't Say Goodbye
  8. What Would It Take
  9. Stormy Weather
  10. Blown Away
  11. Save Me Now

Despite clocking in at under 40 minutes, Armchair Theatre has a balance and flow that I would do little to disrupt. Reading around the multitude of ELO/Jeff Lynne forums, it seems like "Don't Let Go" is the least liked track, and I would tend to agree. Several other tracks were recorded in the same time period, and showed up as later B-Sides:
  1. Sirens
  2. Borderline
  3. I'm Gone
  4. Every Little Thing (Extended Mix)
  5. Wild Times
Now you can make up your own track list. I am good to you or what?

Wikipedia entry

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CD Review: Collective Soul - Afterwords

I've been meaning to post some CD reviews ever since starting my blog. As I've mentioned in the past, I do have a Rhapsody account, so I'm no stranger to the digital album format, but there's something owning the physical product that no amount of technology will deter me from. Anything that I listen to for a length of time on my Sandisk player is in line for a store purchase, usually one or two a week is my limit.

That being said, the latest effort from Collective Soul is not available on Rhapsody, or in many stores. Due to an exclusive distribution deal with Target, Afterwords takes a little tracking down. Fortunately, our town has a Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Circuit City, all within a stone's throw of each other.

Let me say right from the start that this is an album worth looking for. Their last album, Youth, was one of my favorite discs of 2004, and the hits just keep on coming. Forming their own record label, El Records, seems to have rejuvenated the band after the comparatively lackluster Blender (2001) and overly ambitious Dosage (1999). A couple of personnel changes have done the band no harm, and band leader Ed Roland still has the songwriting chops in spades. First single "Hollywood" is a great example, at once resoundingly familiar but still vibrant and melodic. When they put their minds to it, no one makes better driving music - there's a grin-inducing vertigo to all their best work.

Elsewhere, there's all the trademark touches. Crowd favorite "Georgia Girl" makes it to the studio, and the closing track "Adored" is deft mid-tempo ballad of the kind they do better than most. Strong choruses abound, such as those of "Bearing Witness" and the thumping opener "New Vibration". Perhaps the best touch (and most uncharacteristic) is the track voiced by guitarist Joel Kosche, "I Don't Need Anymore Friends", which changes the pace nicely about halfway through the album.

Similar to Youth, Afterwords is a comparatively brief affair, clocking in at around 40 minutes. But as such, it doesn't outstay it's welcome and leaves a good taste in the ears. From early listens, I would say that Youth probably just edges this one out overall it's definitely up there with their best work. Once again, Collective Soul deliver the goods.

Stream the album for free at
Wikipedia entry

Monday, September 17, 2007

DeFilm - DeFilm (1985)

In which we imagine a world where the compact disc was introduced in 1980, and now-obscure artists and albums could be preserved for posterity...

DeFilm - Self Titled (1985)
  1. I Saw Your Dream
  2. Bitter Surprise
  3. Yellow
  4. Julia
  5. Here We Are
  6. 747
  7. Telegram
  8. Turkish Delight
  9. Love Is Over
  10. Cuba Libra
Tommy Corfixen (Vocals)
Lars Thornblad (Bass)
Lars Nygaard (Drums)
Joan Kirkeby (Vocals)
Soren Riis-Vestergĺrd (Guitars)
Jesper Ranum (Keyboards & Sequencers)

Wikipedia entry
Official website

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Homo Eclectic has found a pretty good Pet Shop Boys/Placebo/Kate Bush mash up.

Some great (and notorious) obscure 80's cuts over at Sweeping The Nation - yeah, it's old, but I'm still catching up.

Lost In The 80's is currently featuring the rather fabulous "Blue" by the Fine Young Cannibals.

Silence Is A Rhythm Too reviews the reissue of Two Wheels Good by Prefab Sprout.

Still no sign of the return of Jefito. Boo! It's hard to find good blogs that have an update almost every day. I'm the exception!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Confessions of a Music Junkie

I was pretty excited to find a 49c CD sale at The Great Escape today. In particular, they had a lot of late 80's and early 90's stuff. I got away with this eclectic selection:

Rhythm Corps - Common Ground - $0.49
Aztec Camera - The Crying Scene CDS - $0.49
Aztec Camera - Good Morning Britain CDS - $0.49
Kitchens of Distinction - Strange Free World - $0.49
Breathe - Peace of Mind - $0.49
Katydids - Katydids - $0.49
Brett Dennen - So Much More - $0.99
Moev - Head Down - $0.49
Something Happens - Stuck Together With God's Glue - $0.49
Various Artists - X Worship 2006 - $0.49
Sarah Sadler - Sarah Sadler - $0.99
Ghost of an American Airman - Life Under Giants - $0.99
Lauren Christy - Lauren Christy - $0.49
Chris Rea - Deltics (cassette) - $0.49
Chris Rea - Tennis (cassette) - $0.49

Total cost, with tax = $9.38.

Not bad at all. I'll be posting some reviews and links shortly.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Black - Black (1991)

My interest in Black (AKA Colin Vearncombe) goes back to early 1989, when I joined a CD club as a way of adding a few discs to my meager collection. I bought my first CD player in the fall of 1988, and back then not many stores were stocking anything outside the charts. I ordered Black's first album Wonderful Life (1987) and the second, Comedy (1988) on the basis that both were on sale for half price that month.

Wonderful Life, of course, had the hit title track. However I always preferred the second album, plunging as it did into a world of languid desperation and studied spite. I thought about featuring this as my classic album this week. After 20 years, I still enjoy a listen. However, it seemed to me that both of these have been blogged fairly recently - Ripped Vinyl featured them both here and here.

So I decided instead to focus instead on Black's third album, and last for A&M, Black, released in 1991. My initial reaction was to be just slightly underwhelmed. The album was a quieter affair, with earlier snarls of disaffection turning into utter resignation. This was, and is, a definitive late-night album. Sounding utterly unlike anyone else in the charts (I was too young even then to recognize a Scott Walker impression), there were, needless to say, no hit singles and no appearances on Top of the Pops. However, what was left instead was quite achingly beautiful. On "Two Many Times" Black laments that he can no longer talk to his father ("How was I to know you'd go so soon?") and other tracks like Listen, This Is Life, and Here It Comes Again are masterpieces of aural autobiography - the emotion is so naked that the album feels like it should be wrapped in brown paper. A couple of tracks are more defiant - Let's Talk About Me, for example, but nothing shatters the mood, and nor should it.

I managed to find the electronic press kit, which includes excerpts and an interview with Black.

From a historical perspective, I have added some extra B-Sides released with accompanying singles which extend the experience without detracting from it. More than due for a reissue, or at least a little respect, some treasures sadly remain buried.

Black - Black (1991)
  1. Too Many Times
  2. Feel Like Change
  3. Here It Comes Again
  4. Learning How To Hate
  5. Fly Up To The Moon (with Sam Brown)
  6. Let's Talk About Me
  7. Sweet Breath of Your Rapture
  8. Listen
  9. She's My Best Friend
  10. This Is Life
  11. Nice (B-Side from Feel Like Change CD Single)
  12. I Can Let Go Now (B-Side from Feel Like Change CD Single)
  13. Whole Wide World (B-Side from Fly Up To The Moon CD Single)
  14. Under Wraps (B-Side from Fly Up To The Moon CD Single)
  15. What's Right Is Right (B-Side from Fly Up To The Moon CD Single)

Wkipedia Entry for Black
Black's Offical Website
And one more

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rhapsody Round-Up

One thing you won't find in my blog is unnecessary advertising. I'm not trying to make any money from this site - my goal is purely to inform and entertain. That being said, I will give props when due, particularly for products and websites that enhance my own entertainment experience.

I've been a Rhapsody subscriber for six months, and in conjunction with my SanDisk MP3 player, downloading from Rhapsody and listening to the preset stations ('channels') is the primary way I discover new music. Rhapsody is great for several reasons:
  1. Almost every artist you can think of (especially in the USA) is fairly well represented.
  2. Albums are available to download on the day of release, or often before. I was able to download the new Crowded House album, for example, about a week before it was released in stores.
  3. Exclusive live sessions are available, as well as artist interviews.
  4. The channels are a great mix, usually including brand new tracks.
  5. Transferring tracks to my player is a snap. I can also import any of my existing mp3 collection.
  6. The connection with Best Buy also means exclusive Best Buy tracks are also available for download.
  7. One monthly fee ($14.99) covers everything, unless I want to burn my own CD's - which I don't ever need to do.
Here's some albums I have recently added to my player:

1. The Frames - The Cost
2. Minnie Driver - Seastories
3. Manic Street Preachers - Send Away The Tigers
4. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - This Is Somewhere
5. Josh Rouse - Country Mouse, City House
6. Mark Knopfler - Kill To Get Crimson
7. Suzanne Vega - Beauty & Crime
8. Colbie Caillat - Coco

I promise to post a CD review or two, when I have some time.

Random 80's Wednesday

[mp3] Hollywood Beyond - What's The Colour of Money? (from If, 1987)
[wma] Hipsway - Ask The Lord (from
Hipsway, 1986)
[mp3] New Musik - Churches (from
Anywhere, 1981)
[mp3] Blow Monkeys - It Doesn't Have To Be This Way (from
She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter, 1987)
[mp3] Bone Symphony - Dome of Spheres (from
Bone Symphony EP, 1983)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday Best

My brother has always been a huge fan of CCM (Christian Contemporary Music) , but it wasn't until I read a review of a MercyMe album at Kurt's Krap last year that I got around to doing some serious digging in the CCM genre. There are, to be sure, extremely talented musicians and vocalists working in every genre, but my previous experiences of CCM related material led me to believe that musicianship always played second fiddle to "getting the message across" and from a lyrical standpoint basically sought to include as many inoffensive platitudes as possible.

I'm happy to stand corrected. The genre itself is currently as broad as it's ever been, and, just like the MercyMe album Kurt mentioned, there is plenty for the non-churchgoer to enjoy on a musical level, without being bombarded by pointing fingers and sweeping ideologies. Perhaps the best example I found of this are the several bands making up the roster of Credential Records, based in Brentwood, Tennessee.

The bands in question are Turn Off The Stars, Lost Ocean, and Future of Forestry. Each of them have issued an album in the last year that deserves recognition as a legitimate piece of art, with much for the casual music listener to enjoy.

All three bands have MySpace pages where you can listen to several tracks. Here's a taster or three:

Lost Ocean - Nights
Turn Off The Stars - Please
Future of Forestry - Open Wide

And just to further convince you, how about this review:

"Upstart EMI imprint Credential Recordings continues its impressive hitting streak with the debut full-length release of Bakersfield, California-based alternative pop/rock act Lost Ocean. Soaring melodies, intimately evocative vocals and dominant piano and keyboard elements glide atop an intricate and quite powerful rhythm section and guitar churn to create a sound that is modern, classic, romantic and intense all at the same time.

Recorded in an actual castle outside of Nashville, Tennessee, the listener can almost hear the echoing hallways and melancholic ambience of ancient stone throughout the tracks. Epic early alternative romantics like Simple Minds, A-ha, The Choir and The Ocean Blue echo down from one angle, while the more recent strains of Keane come from another. Skyler Johnson handles piano, keyboards and “ambience” while Christopher Short (drums) and Bret Black (bass) work out the beats with mechanical accuracy and an often Mullen/Clayton/Eno sensibility. But in spite of the dominance of the keys, front man Jeff Gray does a lot more than just strum his guitar and sing. His wide ranging tone palette and unique guitar philosophy add wonderful muscle beneath the always pretty skin of Lost Ocean’s vibe.

Woven throughout all the lilt and grace are lyrics that are poetic and ethereal, yet still accessible and clearly purposeful. The result, while not exactly ground-breaking, is more than impressive. Lost Ocean brings back an important element of rock music: the cascading arc of classic melody and romantic sweep that beg you to just relax and float away on its waves. Fantastic stuff."
John J. Thompson (

Or try this one:

"If you were one of the many loyal fans that were a bit put off by the blandness of Coldplay's X And Y record, then I have some great news for you. Forget all about Coldplay. Instead, try yourself on a set of songs from Turn Off The Stars. This brightly Brit-poppy band sounds like they've come from the same stomping grounds as Chris Martin and Co. but have a depth to their debut eponymous release that was lacking on the latest Coldplay record.

All of the songs on Turn Off The Stars have a depth and ambiance that transcends most of the Britpop that has been released over the past two years. The songs have a haunting melancholy that is broodingly reminiscent of A Rush Of Blood To The Head's finer moments. TOTS has an emotional commitment to their music that draws easy comparison to the masters of modern anthemic Britpop, Embrace, their songs carrying a dynamic presence and enthralling quality. Lead vocalist Michael Walker slips easily in and out of a keen falsetto that will give most casual listeners the impression that he is merely lifting from Chris Martin, but there is a sincerity and depth to his voice that Martin most times lacks.

Turn Off The Stars' debut record is an amazing eleven tracks of modern Britpop influenced music. The songs are catchy and densely layered with well-produced and brilliantly arranged sounds and structures. Selling this band as the new Coldplay does nothing but sell them short of their own ability. TOTS eclipses that oversimplified comparison by leaps and bounds. My only complaint is that there aren't more songs."

L.Keane (

Price Point - Checking around, I discovered that Turn Off The Stars is available from Walmart online for a very reasonable $5.88.

BTW, I have no connection to any of the bands or to Credential Records, so consider this a free plug from an impressed music lover.

TechTalk - seeqpod

Seeqpod Had some fun this evening playing with a new discovery - SeeqPod. For anyone who spends time looking for certain audio or video files on the web (and who doesn't?) this is a very slickly designed search engine with some neat tricks. For a start, it's very comprehensive. A search for "Collective Soul" (the way I came across the site in the first place) yielded over 900 files. It's then possible to play any of these files in an embedded player on the same page and also embed the player in another blog or website or send the playlist to other people. For example:


SeeqPod Music beta - Playable Search

Not only does SeeqPod allow you to search, it also allows you to discover new music. Clicking the discover button rather than search will bring back recommended music based on the song you placed in the text box. I am not sure how SeeqPod is creating recommendations but it reminds me of iTunes "Just for You" music recommendations. Check out the screen-shot below of the discover search results.


Seeqpod discover

I think it's pretty neat. Let me know if you like it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Blessing - Prince Of The Deep Water (1991)

You may notice that my definition of a "classic" album is different from the choices offered by Rolling Stone, the New Musical Express, and other publications. Many of my favorite albums saw limited release, had no hit singles and are largely unknown. Perhaps that's why I like them. A case in point is The Blessing, who were the victims of bad timing back in 1991. They certainly had the musical chops, and in lead singer William Topley, they possessed a singer with a unique and powerful voice. However, the world was going baggy at the time, and had no need for a cinematic, tightly produced album that exuded exotic locales, strange and dangerous characters and superb musicianship. Consequently, both the album and first single "Highway 5", a comparatively light track, slipped off the radar despite a favorable 4-star review in Q Magazine. The Blessing would issue one more album, and William Topley would go on to make several solo records in the same vein, often with one, two, or even all three of his former bandmates - for the record, Mike Westergaard (keyboards), Luke Brighty (guitars), and Kevin Hime-Knowles (bass). However, for me, POTDW remains the high water mark, with standout tracks including the Dire Straits-ish "Hurricane Room". the poignant ballad "Delta Rain" and the Rolling Stones meets Bruce Springsteen swagger of "I Want You".

The Blessing Prince of the Deep Water (1991)
01 Highway 5
02 Flames
03 Hurricane Room
04 Baby
05 Let's Make Love
06 Back From Managua
07 I Want You
08 Delta Rain
09 Birdhouse
10 Denial
11 Prince of the Deep Water

William Topley Official Website

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Worldvix has posted remix collections by Johnny Hates Jazz, a-Ha, and Level 42.

Brave New Waves has posted the complete album Automatic by Sharpe & Numan.

Retro Wonderland has tracks by Howard Jones, The Cure, John Foxx, Duran Duran, heck, just get over there. Too much to list!

RObert POland has a bunch of Midge Ure postings right now. Don't be put off by the polish text - his archives are a treasure trove of obscure material.

The Late Greats features the latest from Minnie Driver. And why not, that girl has talent.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Various Artists - Out Now! (1985)

In which we imagine a world where the compact disc was introduced in 1980, and now-obscure artists and albums could be preserved for posterity...

Out Now! - 28 Hot Hits - Various Artists (1985)

Disc One

01 Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World
02 Glenn Frey - The Heat Is On
03 David Grant & Jaki Graham - Could It Be I'm Falling In Love
04 Jermaine Jackson - Do What You Do
05 Kool And The Gang - Fresh
06 Phyllis Nelson - Move Closer
07 Pat Benatar - Love Is A Battlefield
08 Go West - We Close Our Eyes
09 Bronski Beat & Marc Almond - I Feel Love
10 Nik Kershaw - The Riddle
11 Paul Hardcastle - 19
12 The Colour Field - Thinking Of You
13 David Cassidy - The Last Kiss
14 Sharpe & Numan - Change Your Mind
Download Disc One

Disc Two
01 Thompson Twins - Lay Your Hands On Me
02 The Damned - Grimly Fiendish
03 Billy Bragg - Between The Wars
04 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Don't Come Around Here No More
05 Godley & Creme - Cry
06 New Edition - Cool It Now
07 Kim Wilde - Rage To Love
08 Change - Let's Go Together
09 Killing Joke - Love Like Blood
10 Meat Loaf - Piece Of The Action
11 Los Lobos - Don't Worry Baby
12 Sal Solo - Music And You
13 Alvin Stardust - Got A Little Heartache
14 The Kane Gang - Gun Law
Download Disc Two

Sorry, I was not able to track down the Alvin Stardust tune. Maybe next time!

**UPDATE** Exciting news, folks. Figured out how to rip a track from a cassette, so now I have the missing song. Enjoy!