Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Random 80's Wednesday

Press play on tape to hear all this week's selections!
Jon and Vangelis - I Hear You Now (from Short Stories, 1980)
Friends Again - Sunkissed (from
Trapped and Unwrapped, 1984)
Thomas Leer - Heartbeat (from
The Scale of Ten, 1984)
The Beautiful South - You Keep It All In (from
Welcome To The Beautiful South, 1989)
Jimmy The Hoover - Tantalise (7" Single, 1983)

The Jon and Vangelis track was the first video I remember seeing on the TV. I still suffer from coulrophobia - an irrational fear of harlequins (and clowns).

No More Nostalgia!

I've had the suspicion for a while that regular readers of the blog were just not that interested in my "nostalgia" section which I posted about once a week. This was based on the complete lack of comments, good or bad.

These pieces were primarily for my own amusement but took a while to put together. What I have done is removed all the postings from this blog and created a separate blog at This blog may or may not be updated in the future, depending on my mood and any feedback I get.

Both blogs will continue to remain ad-free.

Lovers of Random 80's Wednesday, stand by. The new post will be up later today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vitamin Z - Rites Of Passage (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...

Provocative, compelling, innovative - Vitamin Z, on Rites Of Passage, their debut album for Geffen Records, have fashioned a fresh and fully realized sound far ahead of its time. It's an accomplishment all the more impressive given the fact that Vitamin Z is a brand new musical entity, a creative collaboration that catches and holds with assurance and aggression far beyond their years. Simply put, Vitamin Z may well be among the most important new English arrivals in recent memory. Remember, you heard it here first.

Vitamin Z founders Geoff Barradale and Nick Lockwood, both just 25 years old, were born and raised in the industrial wastelands of Northern England's Sheffield, a city whose pop heritage includes such notables as Dave Berry and Joe Cocker, as well as, more recently, Human League and Cabaret Voltaire. The group originally took shape around a loose-knit collection of local musicians who came together in a common rehearsal space. Barradale and Lockwood, recognizing early their mutual affinity for melodic evocative modern music, began developing material together, eventually forming a group that performed for increasingly enthusiastic crowds in and around their home town. Prior to their signing to Geffen Records, the band cut some sides for PolyGram, meanwhile building a solid and growing reputation as a galvanic live unit.

Barradale and Lockwood next traveled south to London to record their Geffen debut, choosing the famed Abbey Road Studios to cut the tracks that would eventually comprise Rites Of Passage. Assisting the duo was a stellar cast of supporting musicians, including Peter Gabriel, drummer Jerry Marotta, Chris Merrick Hughes, (percussionist for Adam Ant), guitarist Neil Hubbard, violinist Simon House and arranger Ann Dudley.

An especially integral part of the Rites Of Passage sessions was guitarist David Rhodes, perhaps best known for his work with Peter Gabriel and Blancmange. David went on to become a full-fledged member of Vitamin Z, based on the creative chemistry among the young artists.

Produced and recorded by Ross Cullum, Rites Of Passage spotlights eight Barradale/Lockwood originals including their debut single "Burning Flame." The accompanying video to "Burning Flame," tells an evocative story-in-song that will be continued with Vitamin Z's next single/video release "Every Time That I See You."

There come those moments, only too rarely, when a new band captures completely the spirit and energy of their time. Vitamin Z is such a band; their time is now and for a very long while to come. (from the Geffen press release, 1985)

A little over the top, maybe, but Rites Of Passage still deserves a CD reissue one of these days.

Vitamin Z - Rites Of Passage (1985)
  1. Burning Flame
  2. Circus Ring
  3. Hi Hi Friend
  4. Every Time That I See You
  5. Casablanca
  6. Angela
  7. Anybody Out There?
  8. Something We Can Do
  9. Burning Flame (Extended Dance Mix)
  10. Dancers of Eve
  11. Circus Ring (Remix)

Unofficial Web Site

Fairly harsh reviews on

Wikipedia Entry

The band is also mentioned at Burning Flame and was recently featured at New Romantic Rules, with some different bonus tracks. It's getting hard to be original!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mighty Mighty - Sharks (1988)

Watch out for hard-to-find, deleted, out of print or critically ignored compact discs released in the last thirty years...

The British band Mighty Mighty developed a larger following in Japan than they did in their native country. However, the group's Japanese fan base evolved posthumously; the band was actually only active for a few years. Mighty Mighty was formed in Birmingham, England, in 1986 and made their debut at the NME/ICA Rock Week concerts and were even included on a C-86 cassette compilation. Mighty Mighty released their first single, "Everybody Knows the Monkey," in 1986. Often compared to Orange Juice, Mighty Mighty only recorded one LP, 1988's Sharks, before splitting up. The band's jangly singles and B-sides were collected on The Girlie Years, the title referring to the name of the group's own label. Vinyl Japan also released Mighty Mighty's BBC sessions in 2001. The band's popularity in Japan resulted from a keen interest in U.K. guitar pop among indie collectors. (from

Mighty Mighty - Sharks (1988)

  1. Gemini Smiles
  2. Maisonette
  3. Biddy Baxter
  4. Little Wonder
  5. Settle Down
  6. Blue And Green
  7. One Way
  8. When You Trusted Me
  9. Michael Says Not
  10. Sulk
  11. I'll Get You Back
  12. Yours Truly
Download Side A
Download Side B

With thanks to the excellent Cactus Mouth Informer for this one.

Peter Geoghegan - Keyboards, Guitar
D. J. Hennessy - Drums
Hugh Harkin - Vocals, Harmonica
Russell Burton - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mick Geoghegan - Guitar

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cold Case

I've been intending to blog about Cold Case (CBS, Sundays 9pm ET) for a while now, but tonight was the final straw. For those who don't know, Cold Case is a police procedural with a couple of twists. Fronted by a charismatic detective (Kathryn Morris, whom I'm forever mixing up with Kyra Sedgwick) and a solid support team of dedicated officers, the group specializes in investigating and solving homicide cases that are many years old. The genius of the show is to fully immerse the viewer in the world and time that the crime occurred, be it in the swinging sixties, the rock 'n' roll fifties, the roaring twenties or more recently. Also refreshing is that the crimes are usually true to life and close to home - reflecting issues of bigotry, xenophobia, prejudice and the mores of the time period involved.

It's probably the best edited show on (US) television, effortlessly switching between the present and the past and - very effectively - showing young protagonists morphing into older suspects and vice-versa. Watching the transformations, you can't help but be struck by the impact of crimes and experiences on young lives as they carry their burdens down a long and lonely road.

My favorite aspect of the show, however, is the use of music. One episode featured Bruce Springsteen songs exclusively. Other episodes use modern artists such as KT Tunstall in creative settings. Classic rock 'n' roll tracks soundtrack a '50's episode. Today, for a murder dating from 1982, artists included Joy Division, Psychedelic Furs and - awesomely - the sublime Cure track "Secrets" from the underrated 17 Seconds album. Whoever puts these together is one heck of a DJ. At the end of every episode, there is a closing montage where the ghosts of the past find peace in the present, all soundtracked like an alternative MTV video with much more emotional impact. Tonight's episode, based on the murder of a serial rapist at a university campus, ended to the swooping synths of Duran Duran's "Save A Prayer". Previous show enders include Paul Westerberg's "A Good Day", Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror", and KT Tunstall's "The Other Side of the World". Here's an example of a typical ending montage:

A full list of the show's sountracks is here

Do yourself a favor and watch this show first chance you get.

Love And Money - Littledeath (1994)

Love And Money - Littledeath (1994)

Littledeath turned out to be an appropriate title for this 1994 release. In 1995, the Scottish band broke up, so Littledeath was the last album that Love & Money recorded before its regrettable demise. And regrettable is definitely the word that describes Love & Money's breakup; this album (which combines pop/rock with soul and folk elements) demonstrates that the band still had a lot to offer. But while Littledeath was not a creative disappointment, it was a commercial disappointment — especially in the United States — and that fact can probably be attributed to the lack of a really strong single. As an album, Littledeath is fine. The writing is consistently strong, and lead singer James Grant is expressive throughout the CD. Littledeath is a great album to sit down and listen to, but that doesn't make it radio-friendly. In 1994, Love & Money desperately needed a powerful, attention-grabbing single that would drive radio programmers wild, and there is nothing on Littledeath that fits that description. While moody, introspective offerings like "Ugly As Sin," "What Time Is the Last Train," and "Pray for Love" work well as album tracks, none of them had serious radio appeal (at least not by U.S. standards). Creatively, Littledeath is successful; commercially, it didn't do Love & Money justice in 1994. That isn't to say that gems like "Ugly As Sin" or "What Time Is the Last Train" should not have been recorded; however, Love & Money could have provided some radio-friendly gems, along with some gems that aren't so radio-friendly. Nonetheless, Littledeath was a rewarding swan song for the Scottish outfit.
  1. Littledeath (reprise)
  2. The Last Ship on the River
  3. I'll Catch You When You Fall
  4. Keep Looking For The Light
  5. Pray For Love
  6. Don't Be Afraid of The Dark
  7. Ugly As Sin
  8. Love Is Like A Wave
  9. Bitched Breach
  10. Kiss of Love
  11. Sweet Black Luger
  12. What Time Is The Last Train
  13. Littledeath

Friday, November 23, 2007

CD Review: Hard-Fi - Once Upon A Time In The West

I discovered Hard-Fi early last year thanks to the storming single "Cash Machine" which was belatedly released hear in the US. Already recognized as an Album of the Year in 2005, I got hold of the debut CD Stars of CCTV as soon as it was released here. Fast forward to 2007, and fortunately the new album Once Upon A Time In The West is available simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic.

Good thing too, as Richard Archer and the boys have delivered another cruncher of an album, from the precocious swagger of "Suburban Knights" (the first single) to the retro flavored "Television" and "We Need Love". Custom designed for in-car listening (you can almost hear the throttle of engines and slamming car doors as you listen), the album is a direct descendant from the in-your-face and mad-at-England-isms of The Jam, Oasis and The Clash. Not bad at all.

Official Website

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank You For The Music

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. of A., and it's a tradition for our family to describe some of the things we are each thankful for before dinner. Naturally, some measure of discretion is appropriate. A few options:
  1. My family, obviously. Especially the Rock Star. And this one. And this one. And this one. Jeez, what would we do without MySpace?Er, communicate?
  2. My job. It's cool.
  3. Diet Dr Pepper
  4. The New Wave Outpost
  5. Not watching the England match yesterday. Or anytime in the last 18 months.
  6. Ernest Borgnine (I'm watching Escape From New York right now).
  7. Jelly Babies
  8. Blogging
More than these, I'd like to go off on a mini-rant about my love of music and my gratitude to the music makers. So here goes.

I bought my first CD back in 1988. It was Brotherhood, by New Order, and cost GBP 8.69. Thats about $17.00, almost 20 years ago. So to people who say that music is overpriced, I say "phooey"! Name one other thing that is cheaper now in real dollars than 20 years ago. A loaf of bread? A house? A pair of sneakers? Buying a CD today is cheaper in many cases than going to the movies, treating the kids to a Big Mac or getting a haircut. Apart from books, what else can give pleasure for so many years and cost less than three cups of coffee at Starbucks?

My point is this, anyone who defends file-sharing or copying CD's based on the expense involved of buying the music is seriously deluded. I've mentioned before that I have a Rhapsody account and I buy new releases on a regular basis. Music that I choose to share on this blog is always with the intention of presenting the artists to a wider audience and in most cases involves albums or singles that are out of print and commercially unavailable. Occasionally, this "lost" music becomes available in one form or another.

Most of the artists I write about did not enjoy worldwide commercial success or acclaim. Many were victims or bad management, indifferent marketing or a lack of record company support. Too many simply never got the chance to be heard by the punters. Here are some ways in which you can acquire some great music and support these deserving artists at the same time.

Buy Sophie and Peter Johnston's new CD available from their website.

Buy Clark Datchler's new CD, available from his website or at Amazon.

Download the Faith Brothers catalog at Billy Franks' website, and go to his Shepherd's Bush gig if you have the opportunity.

Check out the 1000 Mexicans website, and download a Best Of collection here.

Buy Nik Kershaw's terrific album "You've Got To Laugh" from his website. His entire discography is also available from iTunes.

Check out the awesome compilations in the Retro-Active series, available at Hi-Bias.

You get the message. Musicians need your support. And thanks.

Rant over.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tied To The 90's - Part 1

In the first of an occasional series, here are ten great (but relatively unknown) singles from the early 90's.

The Fat Lady Sings - Drunkard Logic
from the album John Son (1993)

Milltown Brothers - Which Way Should I Jump?
from the album Slinky (1991)

Dubh Chapter - Touch And Go
from the album Silence, Cunning & Exile (1990)

The Beloved - You've Got Me Thinking
from the album Conscience (1993)

Robert Plant - 29 Palms
from the album Fate Of Nations (1993)

Deacon Blue - Your Town
from the album Whatever You Say, Say Nothing (1993)

Into Paradise - Angel
from the album Churchtown (1991)

Eg And Alice - Indian
from the album 24 Years Of Hunger (1991)

J.J. - Slide Away
from the album Intro (1991)

Marillion - Cover My Eyes (Pain And Heaven)
from the album Holidays In Eden (1991)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Furniture - Food, Sex & Paranoia (1989)

Watch out for hard-to-find, deleted, out of print or critically ignored compact discs released in the last 20 years...

Furniture - Food, Sex & Paranoia (1989)

  1. One Step Behind You
  2. Slow Motion Kisses
  3. Swing Tender
  4. A Taste of You
  5. A Plot to Kill What Was
  6. On a Slow Fuse
  7. Subway to the Beach
  8. Song for a Doberman
  9. Love Me
  10. Friend of a Friend
  11. Hard to Say
  12. BONUS TRACK: International People

Wikipedia Entry

Band Summary and Discography

Friday, November 16, 2007

Faith Brothers - A Human Sound (1987)

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...

And here's the second album (issued on CD but insanely hard to find)

Faith Brothers - A Human Sound (1987)
  1. With no constitution but my own
  2. That's just the way that it is with me
  3. Saint of contradiction
  4. You can't go home again
  5. Isolato
  6. Dancing with Peter Pan's shadow
  7. Consider me
  8. A welcome pain
  9. May your children speak well of you, Mother Tongue
  10. A boy and the river
Download Now available from Amazon

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


A few people have had problems opening recent archive files. Archive files that I upload may or may not have password protection. If a password is requested, use mineforlife - it's a way of making sure I get credit for links posted on other sites.

I mentioned a long time ago that I would occasionally feature 'easter eggs' on my site. These are hidden links, usually to image files. I'm always coming across "interesting" things when I'm googling a topic - most of these things have no direct relationship to the topic I'm posting about. There's an example in this post. Call me smarty-pants. Or sexist. Guilty as charged!

On with the links, already! I've mentioned Funky Green Tabs before. You can find extended mixes from Yello, Anne Clark, Blancmange, The Assembly and others.

Not sure if anyone's into Italo-Disco, but when the CD covers are as good as these, who wouldn't be?

Brent continues to post a treasure trove of material at Brave New Waves, which has now gone private. I'll help him out by mentioning that he has posted mixes from Blue Aeroplanes, November Group, Julian Cope and The Fountainhead recently. If you want to be added to his fan club, let me know and I'll pass it on.

A recent find is the Vinyl Villain where you can find postings on many different artists. The music links are removed quite quickly so it's worth keeping up with.

Also props to Miss Parker at Rave And Roll, who appears to like Gary Numan just a bit. She also has other treasures like Hitlist, Fiction Factory and, er, Eric Clapton.

If you liked the Camera Obscura track I posted earlier (no relation to the twee pop indie darlings) then by all means check out the website, They finally have an LP out but only available on vinyl!

I seem to mention Saltyka at every opportunity. Comprehensive isn't the word. Complete nutter might be.

I've now got a backlog of albums to post and several new CD's to review. Let me know if you have any preferences. (No, not those preferences, thank you very much).

Albums to feature or post from: Furniture, Phil Thornalley, The Fat Lady Sings, Minor Detail, Milltown Brothers, Martin Page, Eg and Alice, Fake, Bill Sharpe, The Jeremy Days, Toni Childs, Love Club, Hard-Fi, the list keeps growing...

Random 80's Wednesday

Press play on tape to hear all this week's selections!

Electric Guitars - Language Problems (7" Single, 1982)
[mp3] Camera Obscura - Destitution (7" Single, 1983)
Talk Talk - Why Is It So Hard (from Firstborn Soundtrack, 1984)
Julian Lennon - Too Late For Goodbyes (from Valotte, 1984)
[mp3] Chain of Command - Some Aspects (unreleased demo, 1981)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

At The Going Down Of The Sun

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Robert Binyon, 1869-1943

To all our brave servicemen and women, past and current, throughout the world...

Thank you.

Proudly remembering:

Albert Mansell, Royal Engineers
Alan Mansell, Royal Air Force
Gilbert Muncy, US Marines
Brian Badman, US Army

RAF - RAF (1984)

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...

RAF - RAF (1984)
  1. Change Your Mind
  2. Why in The World
  3. She's a Criminal
  4. Imagination Lover
  5. Frontiers
  6. Black And Blue
  7. I Don't Want to Lose You
  8. Self Control
  9. Madeleine O.
  10. Self Control (Extended Mix) - Bonus download
RAF was known as RAFF in Germany, to avoid confusion with a well-known terrorist group. Apparently, no one was concerned that he might be mistaken elsewhere for a branch of the British armed services (or possibly even for a young Rowan Atkinson).

"Self Control" was later covered by Laura Branigan, with great success.

Raffaele Riefoli

Website (in Italian)

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Thought - The Thought (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...

The Thought - The Thought (1985)
  1. Every Single Day
  2. Stranded With A Stranger
  3. The Rise And The Fall
  4. Lonewolf
  5. Secrets Of The Heart
  6. Out Of Oblivion
  7. Eight Miles High
  8. Maggie McColl
  9. Tonight Again
  10. Rapture

Password: mineforlife


Kok De Jong
Jan De Jong
Wieb Zigtema
Rob Marienus

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sophie and Peter Johnston

If you've never heard of the pop duo Sophie and Peter Johnston then you are in for a treat. Kind of like Everything But The Girl but with more emphasis on synths, the band produced a peel session or two in the early 80's, released two or three singles, and then a full length self-titled album in 1987. They then tried out some new material under a different moniker, and then promptly disappeared.

In the last couple of years a website appeared, maintained by Peter Johnston, who had gone on to produce some solo work. This month has seen some exciting developments, as there is a brand new Sophie and Peter Johnston album out, as well as a retrospective compilation of the period 1983-1987.

Several downloads are available from the website, including new and rare tracks. All of their music is highly recommended. Here's a discography, including some rarities I've collected.

Single - "Losing You" b/w "60 Second Blow" (1985)

Single - "Happy Together" b/w "Sold On You" (1986)

Single - "Television Satellite" b/w "Take That Jerkin Off!" (1987)

Single - "Torn Open" b/w "Getting On" (1987)
Extra track on 12" - "Chasing A Dream"

Album - Sophie and Peter Johnston (1987)

Television Satellite
Open Up
A Bigger Temptation
Take That Jerkin Off!
Some Sunny Day
Happy Together
Torn Open
Run Away
I Want You To Know
No Time
Sold On You
Brain Def
Dreams (bonus track on Japanese CD release)

[UPDATE 2014 - the website appears to be defunct now, which is a shame. Sophie & Peter, I hope you guys are doing well!]

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

His Latest Flame - In The Neighbourhood (1989)

Documenting rare finds in thrift stores and bargain bins all across America...

His Latest Flame - In The Neighbourhood (1989)
  1. Londonderry Road
  2. Heart of the Country
  3. Finest Hour
  4. Big World
  5. Cold, Cold, Cold
  6. Love's In The Neighbourhood
  7. America Blue
  8. Crack Me Down
  9. Sporting Life
  10. Take It In Your Stride
  11. Old Flame

From the inimitable Q Magazine:

"This is His Latest Flame's debut album in a chequered career spanning the best part of a decade. As agit-popsters Sophisticated Boom Boom they recorded a John Peel session, but never graduated to vinyl. A name change and a contract with Go! Discs failed to rouse the record buying public, despite some fine pop tunes, leaving them in the unenviable position of being patronized as an "all-girl group" by some and pilloried by others for growing out of their monkey-booted adolescence.In The Neighbourhood presents a new set of songs which betray the band's growing maturity. Relying on a solid pop/rock formula, Moira Rankin's mannered vocals benefit greatly from some imaginative four-part harmonies, particularly on "America Blue" and "Take It In Your Stride". Fame and fortune may elude them yet again, but these factors do not disguise the quality of His Latest Flame's songs." (Lestyn George, July 1990)

Very little more information out there. Let me know if you have any!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Endgames - Building Beauty

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...

Endgames - Building Beauty (1984)
  1. Love Cares
  2. The Universe Won't Mind
  3. Waiting For Another Chance
  4. Miracle In My Heart
  5. Love Building Beauty
  6. Desire
  7. Ecstacy
  8. Searching For Love
  9. Both of Us
This is my rip of the US version with a slightly different running order.
Endgames - More Beauty (B-Sides and Rarities)
  1. We Feel Good (Future's Looking Fine)
  2. Darkness
  3. Ready Or Not
  4. Look Now
  5. Love Cares (Extended Mix)
  6. Waiting For Another Chance (Extended Mix)
  7. Desire (Vocal Mix)
  8. Desire (Extended Mix)

Wikipedia Entry