Thursday, March 27, 2008

Got Any Bandwidth?

See? I lay off the posting for a couple of weeks, and what happens, my file hosting bandwidth gets sucked dry. For the first time, ever. Gee, I must be getting popular, or something. Wait until I manage to work Britney Spears, Hannah Montana and David Cook from American Idol into the same sentence. Oops, too late!

I'm going to scout around for some additional file hosting options - preferably with the hotlinking so you can preview the file in SnapShots (which I think is cool, anyway).

In the meantime, my bandwidth will reset in a couple of days and I'm going to post some additional links for anyone who can't wait to hear Fiat Lux and It's Immaterial again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Random 80's Wednesday

Fiat Lux - Solitary Lovers (12" Single, 1985)
M - Doubletalk (from Famous Last Words, 1982)
It's Immaterial - White Man's Hut (7" Single, 1983)
Little America - You Were Right (from Little America, 1987)
The Weathermen - Punishment Park (from The Black Album, 1988)

Download all the tracks here and save my bandwidth! (via Rapidshare)

**UPDATE** Just found out that the Weathermen album is available for download from Amazon and i-Tunes, so I have deleted the file and added a link. Go buy it, it's great!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pat Boone - A Closer Walk With Thee (1957)

I really didn't want my last post - frivolous, trivial and a little risque - to be my only comment on Easter Sunday. And therefore, in a dramatic change of pace and direction, I would like to present my dear mother's favorite record, A Closer Walk With Thee by Pat Boone. It was one of the very few 45s I remember from my childhood.

Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Peace In The Valley
He'll Understand (And Say Well Done)
Steal Away

Happy Scrappy?

You know, I barely noticed Scrappy Doo in the Scooby Doo picture I posted a few days ago. Once I saw his annoying, grinning schmuck I looked a little closer. As it turns out, maybe he had a reason to smile - being short sometimes has its advantages!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I'm going to use the English band 1,000 Violins as an example of how to discover a band and enjoy a sumptuous feast of music as a result.

This week, I have been hanging out at Sideroom Singles, a really cool and interesting concept blog from Australia. The concept is that the author takes ten 7" singles from a pile in his side room, and posts all ten as a continuous podcast. A parallel blog also records the associated B-Sides. Being from Australia, there are a lot of 80's bands that I've never heard of, but it's a real musical mixture starting at around 1979 and running through to the late 80's with a few more modern releases, such as Royksopp, thrown in. He also scans the singles covers and backs which makes the whole enterprise akin to wandering into a friends back room, shuffling through his stack of records, and occasionally thrusting up a sleeve with the question, "So what does this sound like then?"

One artist mentioned was 1,000 Violins with their song "If I Had Words", and seeing as I liked the sleeve I downloaded the podcast and ripped that individual track (using the marvelous Audacity, if you must know). Within about three seconds of the intro, I knew I liked it and set of into the blogosphere for more information.

Turns out that the band is widely known in the C86 scene and was tipped as a worthy successor to The Smiths. Next stop was one of my favorite indie-pop blogs, Take The Pills, who naturally mentions the band several times and featured their 2001 compilation reissue Like 1,000 Violins at this post. If you should stop over, then I dare you to surf away without finding at least another half dozen indie-pop gems to enjoy. A great, great site.

A little more digging led me back to another old favorite, the Cactus Mouth Informer. Another afficionado of the C86 scene, his new year's eve post last December included the solitary LP released by 1,000 Violins, entitled Hey Man That's Beautiful. It certainly is. From there it was just a hop and skip to finding additional posts about the band on The Rain Fell Down and a very detailed description of the background of the band's first record label at Down With Tractors. Most of the bands from the C86 scene remain unknown to me, so expect a few more posts on the topic in the future.

For a great overview of all things C86 related, then stop by Indie MP3, a site that's been around so long I sometimes forget to mention how great it is. There's also a comprehensive essay here.

Oscillate Wildly

One of the more geeky things that I do (and there are a few) is keep a list of my favorite music artist in any given month. It's a lot easier than trying to keep a chart (although now I'm using i-Tunes to play my music collection during the day, I'm getting there) and it's kind of an interesting way to see what type of music has been capturing my attention. For example, I can look back to early 2003 and how, after hearing Alphaville's "Forever Young" for the first time, I spent the rest of the year discovering modern European synthpop and the so-called darkwave artists, such as Wolfsheim, De/Vision and Camouflage. Other artists that have also made the list at various times in the last few years include Richard Hawley, Hard-Fi, The Feeling, U2 and, periodically, spoken word performances such as the author Bill Bryson and comedian Eddie Izzard. I compare my fluctuating musical tastes to a kind of aural Doctor Who, popping back and forward in time relatively seamlessly, making a few interesting discoveries, and then traveling on again.

All this is kind of a round about way of discussing the fact that in the Spring of 2008, I am hopelessly obsessed with obscure 80's material. Almost to the point where I am too busy making discoveries to update my blog anywhere near as often as I'm used to. So if you noticed that I've been slacking, then I accept that, I apologize for neglecting MFL and thanks for still being around to read this.

One positive aspect is that I have enough new material to keep my "Random 80's" posts going for quite a while. I also have a lot of albums to put up. I'm really tempted right now to go the whole hog and get myself the Ion USB turntable I thought about for Christmas so I can get digging into the large quantities of second-hand vinyl I am starting to notice more often nowadays.

If I'm not blogging at the moment, you can find me on Soulseek. I used the program back in 2003 to investigate some of the synthpop acts I was just discovering. For a couple of years, it looked like membership had declined, but I've been able to track down a lot of good stuff recently and Soulseek is a really good place to discuss your finds and get recommendations from friends. If you should see me on there, say hello.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mike Batt - Zero Zero (1982)

By special request...

The album was recorded in 1982 during Mike's round the world voyage aboard his motor yacht 'Braemar'. It was originally commissioned by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) as a live concert to be performed at the Sydney Opera House to celebrate their 50th anniversary. It was, however, actually recorded as an ambitious studio production directed by Mike and Australian John Eastway. Zero Zero's ambitious graphics were part of Mike's original concept, and his sketches for the sets, costumes and animations began at sea on the voyage from Los Angeles to Australia via Honolulu and Fiji. When he arrived in Sydney he had a nearly completed score and a set of quite advanced drawings from which to work in the production of the piece.

The production was dogged by union problems, and canceled twice before eventually being produced as a co-production between Mike's own company and the ABC. The weird deal stuck with the Australian Equity Union was that two quite separate productions would be made; one with Mike playing the lead part of "Number 17" and one with an Australian (Graeme Watson, the choreographer) playing "Number 17". This was in order to preserve work for Australian Equity members but ended up creating artistic havoc, and double the expense for the ABC, who scrapped two operas in order to make the show, because of budget restrictions. The deal deprived several hundred equity members of employment in the operas and meant that every shot of the TV show had to be recorded twice, once with Mike in the lead and once with Graeme in the lead. The version with Mike (the international version) was agreed never to be shown in Australia, and the version with Graeme was agreed never to be shown outside of Australia.

Thankfully, Australian equity is a far different organization these days than it was then, and insane deals of this type are hopefully a thing of the past. The show was transmitted on Channel 4 in the UK (Mike having bought the international rights to the production from the ABC), and when initially transmitted only one side of the stereo soundtrack was broadcast! Channel 4 therefore retransmitted a few days later and over the years the show has built up something of a cult following. The duration is 42 minutes, and it takes the form of a visual and musical 'trip' into some time zone in the past or future, where love has been abolished and is regarded as a disease to be avoided. Our hero, Number 17 ("but you can call me Ralph") falls in love with Number 36, and is eventually committed to an Emotional Decontamination Center called Zero Zero. The name Zero Zero is therefore completely coincidental and does not refer in any way to either the year Zero of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, nor is it a reference to the year 2000. (from the official website,

Mike Batt - Zero Zero (1982)
  1. Introduction (The Birth Of Number 17)
  2. System 605
  3. Love Makes You Crazy
  4. Delirium
  5. Whispering Fools
  6. Zero Zero
  7. The Dance Of The Neurosurgeons
  8. No Lights In My Eyes
  9. Love Makes You Crazy (Instrumental Reprise)
This download has now expired.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nostalgia Trip: Scooby Doo

Well, I promised that my Nostagia Trip posts would return at some point, and this week's entry was a no-brainer.

My five year old daughter started watching cartoons on the Boomerang TV channel about three weeks ago, which features classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Hair Bear Bunch, and, of course, Scooby Doo, Where Are You (to give the show the correct title). She was immediately hooked on the adventures of the cowardly canine and his partnership with the irrepressible Shaggy. These are the original cartoons from 1969-1970, so they are as old as I am. Thankfully, there's no trace of (ugh!) Scrappy Doo. Judging by the amount of Scooby-related paraphernalia in our local stores, either Scooby is enjoying a comeback, or he really never went away and I didn't notice.

As anyone with young children will tell you, there is nothing worse than being forced to sit through repetitive kid's shows that keep them entertained while sucking the jelly out of your brain. So I'm quite content that she seems to be addicted to this show, because watching them again is a nostalgia blast. It's actually relaxing to watch a show where no one has a cellphone, or jumps on the internet, and everyone is down to earth and not looking to become the next wannabe celebrity. Yes, there's a formula. I could describe every script using five fingers. (1. Kids get stuck. 2. There's a mystery and a spooky legend 3. They find some clues. 4. Shaggy and Scooby get chased around. 5. The baddie is taken out, and proves to be the first guy we met.) But the sum is more than the parts, with the comic interplay and one-liners hitting the spot. For example, Shaggy says something like "Scooby Doo, you found a shoe!" and my daughter laughs so much she turns to me and repeats the line, adding her own variations. Good times.

I love the fashions (poo-poo to the designers who tried to "update" them in the later series) and the appealing naivety of the kids.

When I was growing up, I never thought of them as teenagers, more like young twenty-somethings who did this for a living. Now, it's easier to pin the gang as High School misfits who find a common bond. Nowadays, I'm afraid the preppie kids would just sneer and leave Shaggy and his strange dog alone. And the girl with glasses would stay at home listening to Sara Bareilles and Jaymay on her i-Pod.

There's a lot of myths (and some truths) about the show and the in-jokes. Daphne still radiates that hottie vibe but, on reflection, her helplessness and ability to find a (ahem!) booby trap anywhere and fall in it let her off the hook.

Leaving aside the tragic tale of the Christmas ornament that (mysteriously) vanished, which I will recount another time, some of the more interesting collectibles available include a set of grape jellies going for $25, some russian nesting dolls, and a waffle iron.

Here's the famous opening theme:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Random 80's Wednesday

Darkroom-C - What Do I believe? (7" Single, 19??)
One To One - Angel In My Pocket (from Forward Your Emotions, 1985)
Dekka Danse - I Can't Believe It (from Waltz In The Wilderness, 1984)
Isle of Man - Am I Forgiven? (from Selections From The Isle EP, 1986)
William Pitt - Such A Lonely Night (12" Single, 1990)

A couple of these tracks were posted at Obscure 80's Central, a forum at the New Wave Outpost. A good place to post requests and stuff you like. The Dekka Danse track has been stuck in my head all week. It's like glue. I'm still trying to find the album, if anyone has it. I don't remember where Isle of Man came from, except that someone mentioned it was very rare. Good stuff, too. William Pitt release three singles in Europe. The last one was "Such A Lonely Night" which was actually released in 1990 - but it's got the 80's written all over it, so I don't care.

In celebration of St Paddy's Day, all my posts next week will have an Irish flavor. Potatoes, perhaps.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let Me Have Your Requests!

Blogging has been a bit sporadic lately, mainly due to my workload (and procrastination, if the truth is told). I could go ahead and post whole lists of albums with no narrative or concept, but that's just not my style. In fact, I'm thinking of ways to go in the other direction and provide more of a narrative cum autobiographical style (a bit like my mate Davy at The Ghost of Electricity). Based on my stats, it does look like the "Random 80's" thing is quite popular, so I'm proud of that. As I've mentioned before it's kind of a tribute to Torchomatic, Scott at Nerosoft and Mike at the New Wave Outpost who all used to post a weekly grab-bag a few years ago that I always enjoyed waiting for.

In the meantime, I'm flattered by a lot of positive comments from people who mention they have been looking for a certain song or album for a while. I've been collecting music both in digital and 'real' form for a few years now so if you have a particular request, please let me know.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Kiss This!

By request...

Furniture - Slow Motion Kisses
(from Food, Sex And Paranoia, 1989)

And since we're on the subject...

Bonk - The Smile & The Kiss
(7" Single, 1982)

The Brilliant Corners - With A Kiss
(from Somebody Up There Likes Me, 1988)

The Beloved - A Kiss Goodbye
(from Where It's At, 1987)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Even More Dubh Chapter

I noticed that a few people took a liking to the Irish band Dubh Chapter after I posted lead single "Touch & Go" and then the album "Silence, Cunning & Exile". (By the way I think the band should have been called The Ampersands).

I dug around and found the two singles they released back in 1990, which feature extra tracks and mixes not included on the album. I've collected them here for your listening pleasure, blogmates!

Dubh Chapter - &

  1. Happy Is The Bride (Extended Mix)
  2. Who Decides
  3. Happy Is The Bride
  4. Pain (Is A Warning)
  5. Touch & Go (7" Edit)
  6. Sleep & Be Thankful
  7. Hibiscus Town
  8. Touch & Go (Album Version)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sand Rubies - Sand Rubies (1993)

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

I enjoyed the Sand Rubies track I discovered recently on the Free At Last 3 compilation ("Santa Maria Street") so I tracked down the album ($0.75 on Amazon!). And here it is, not a bad album at all.

Sand Rubies - Sand Rubies (1993)
  1. Goodbye
  2. Santa Maria Street
  3. Your Life Story
  4. Interstate
  5. Drugged
  6. Guns In The Churchyard
  7. Hangman In The Noose
  8. Bar Room Light
  9. Hit The Brakes
  10. Never
  11. Black Eyes And Broken Noses

And here is the video for "Santa Maria Street".

Random 80's Wednesday

Freeze Frame - Touch (7" Single, 1982)
Black - Everything's Coming Up Roses (from Wonderful Life, 1987)
John Cafferty - Voice of America's Sons (from the Cobra Soundtrack, 1985)
Thompson Twins - Passion Planet (B-Side from "You Take Me Up", 1984)
Rain Parade - You Are My Friend (from Explosions in the Glass Palace EP, 1985)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Banderas - Ripe (1991)

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

The 1991 debut release by the British duo Banderas has a rather misleading cover image, that of two oddly-dressed women sporting Sinead O'Connor-style crew cuts with the band's Spanish-sounding name sprawled across the top of the picture. Perhaps Ripe's failure was due to consumer confusion; is Banderas a Spanish-language punk band, or a bizarre Sinead side project? One listen to the album, however, reveals neither is true. Banderas is actually an ace pop band, and its one and only album, Ripe, is addictive ear candy. The two members (vocalist Caroline Buckley and violinist/keyboardist Sally Herbert) receive ample assistance from producer extraordinaire Stephen Hague, but the album's real star is Buckley, who sings with confidence and clarity. Her voice soars on the funky, beautifully produced album opener "This Is Your Life" and the eerie "May This Be Your Last Sorrow." While Ripe's remanding eight tunes don't quite scale the same heights, Caroline Buckley's extraordinary pipes save the material from sinking into mediocrity. A few lackluster songs drag down the album, but this was a promising debut, and Banderas boasted an incredible vocalist in Caroline Buckley. But even with guest appearances from some of the biggest names in British pop (including Jimmy Somerville, guitarist Johnny Marr, and New Order's Bernard Sumner), the album didn't perform well in Europe and sank like a stone in the States, and they never released a second album. Ripe will almost certainly never be widely heard, and Banderas is forever shunned into pop obscurity. It's a shame this talented act never saw the success it deserved. (from

Banderas - Ripe (1991)
  1. This Is Your Life
  2. The Comfort of Faith
  3. May This Be Your Last Sorrow
  4. First Hand
  5. Why Aren't You in Love With Me?
  6. She Sells
  7. Too Good
  8. Don't Let That Man
  9. It's Written All Over My Face
  10. Never Too Late

This Is Your Life (UK Version)
This Is Your Life (US Version)
She Sells
May This Be Your Last Sorrow (video unavailable?)

This Is Your Life (Red Book Mix)
This Is Your Life (Easy Life Mix)
This Is Your Life (Dodi's Crossover Mix)
She Sells (Apollo 440 Mix)