Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Lotus Eaters - Remixes (1983-85)

First off: This is not a collection that I personally put together. And most of the tracks it contains are not my rips. This set of old Lotus Eaters remixes is something I acquired online a long time ago. But since the blog it came from has since disappeared, I thought I'd recirculate it because it's pretty great stuff. (I can't remember the name of the blog that first put this out and Web searches reveal nothing, but if someone wants to step forward in the comments section I'll give credit where it's due.)

I did contribute to this set, however. I improved a few of the rips since I had them in better quality. I also researched release date info and songwriter's credits and included that in the file tags. Most of these recordings were UK-only 12-inch singles that came out on indie labels in the mid-1980s, so this stuff is starting to get lost to history.

But that shouldn't be the case, because a lot of these songs hold up really well today. The Lotus Eaters were a short-lived group that had limited popularity, but they made a lot of excellent music in just a few years. Funny enough, I never heard the group on the radio during its heyday in 1983 and 1984. Instead, I discovered them several years later after buying a $1 bargain bin Ronco Records cassette tape called Chart Trek 1 (see right), which was subtitled "To Boldly Pick the Stars of '84." It turned out that Ronco was correct in their picking some of those stars (Wham!, Thompson Twins), but not so right about others (Care, the Danse Society, Marilyn).

I'd bought the tape for the song "Never Never," which was a minor college radio hit by another group that quickly came and went, the Assembly. But what grabbed my attention instead was the tune by the Lotus Eaters, "First Picture Of You," which had a glittering, effervescent quality that seemed emblematic of the optimistic mid-'80s. (Well, at least my own private mid-'80s. Dunno what yours was like. Mine was great. But I digress.)

Eventually, I tracked down the Lotus Eaters' lone LP from 1984, No Sense Of Sin. It did not disappoint. The Liverpool-based group's two main writers, Peter Coyle and Jeremy "Jem" Kelly, had a knack for writing pop tunes that were tailor-made for the synth-pop genre of the day (as opposed to other groups, who sounded like they were shoehorning standard rock ideas into synthesizer-based arrangements).

Since most of the songs here are from that album, they range from good to great. The opening track, "Out On Your Own," lengthens the original LP cut by almost two minutes but actually works better that way. The extra time gives the synth riff that drives the song room more to expand. When you've got a great riff, flaunt it.

"Can You Keep A Secret," which was another highlight of No Sense Of Sin, gets an expanded introduction. Some research indicates that this was the way it was presented on the original pressings of the album and the now-common three-minute edit replaced it on later editions. As with Duran Duran and others, the Lotus Eaters had more than one version of an album released after they'd had a bit of success and their record company reworked the track list in order to better appeal to commercially-oriented teen listeners.

Finally, three of the tunes here are songs that weren't on the original album at all. "It Hurts (There Must Be A Taste Of Murder In It) (12-Inch Version)" was the A-Side of a non-LP 12-inch single. "My Happy Dream (Long Version)" was the B-Side of the "Set Me Apart" 12-inch and "You Don't Need Someone New (Charleston Mix)" is a special mix which appeared on the B-Side of the 12-inch single of the same name.

The above titles might be familiar to hardcore fans, but these versions won't be. These specific mixes are not the same ones that appear as bonus cuts on the expanded CD reissue of No Sense Of Sin. All are exclusive to the 12-inch singles...and now to this collection.

Related posts:
Various Artists - Sharp Cuts (1980)
Nina Schultz - Nina Schulta (1982 EP)
Color Me Gone - Color Me Gone (1984)
Marshall Crenshaw - U.S. Remix (1984)
Tommy Keene - Places That Are Gone (1984)
Growing Up Different - A+B=C (1985)
Marti Jones: Unsophisticated Time (1985)

Track list:
1. Out On Your Own (Extended Version)
2. The First Picture Of You (12-Inch Version)
3. German Girl (Long Version)
4. It Hurts (There Must Be A Taste Of Murder In It) (12-Inch Version)
5. Love Still Flows (Extended Mix)
6. You Fill Me With Need (Remix)
7. My Happy Dream (Long Version)
8. Set Me Apart (Full Length Original Version)
9. Can You Keep A Secret (Long Version)
10. You Don't Need Someone New (Charleston Mix)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nico - The Peel Sessions (1988; Recorded 1971)

From the looks of things, this is out of print, at least on CD. A vinyl version came out a short while back, but since modern-day vinyl is cut using digital files (as opposed to old analog tapes), you might as well just listen to the CD.

These four songs are from Nico's visit to John Peel's BBC1 radio show on Feb. 2, 1971. They were broadcast a few weeks later, on Feb. 20, 1971, but weren't officially released until 1988 -- the year Nico died. I have no idea if this release preceded her death on July 18 of that year, or if it was put out to commemorate her.

But whatever the case, these recordings are an excellent testament to her legacy. They all feature Nico performing her own compositions with just her harmonium for accompaniment -- the way she sometimes performed in concert.

If you only know Nico from the Velvet Underground or from her first album, Chelsea Girl, you might be taken aback by this music. On those albums, she sang other people's songs and it (mostly) fell into the category of pop music. This music is from when she started writing her own songs. She composed music in an old world Gothic European style and it was a whole 'nother thing. If Lou Reed's Velvet Underground songs were cutting edge, then Nico's tunes were completely over-the-edge...and then some.

But if you're a Nico fan, you're in for a treat. All of these recordings are first-rate, performance wise. Nico was definitely "on" when they were recorded, and they come across as more intimate and personal than the recordings on her albums.

The best example is the lead-off track, "Secret Side," the only song that was unreleased at the time of these recordings. Shorn of the ghost-like sound effects that John Cale added when it was recorded for Nico's 1974 album The End..., this unadorned version reveals the beauty of Nico's melody and the intensity of her singing. The song purportedly deals with Nico's rape by an American soldier when she was a teenager, but the lyric was largely obscured on the album by Cale's relentless swirling synth sounds. Here, Nico's vocals have no place to hide, and the song hits that much harder.

I've long held a theory is that in a lot of ways Nico was the real Lou Reed. What I mean by that is that a lot of Reed's reputation was built on his penchant for experimentation. But that was mostly in the early days and most of Reed's catalog is standard rock music. Nico, on the other hand, made Cathedral music from outer space that could never be mistaken for anything mainstream.

Play most Lou Reed albums to people and they'll get into it. But play Nico to someone and you're likely to get a "WTF?!!" response. She's definitely an acquired taste. But if you adjust your head and really listen to where she's coming from, her albums are pretty impressive and a lot of her songs are surprisingly catchy (in their own way).

And besides, it's amusing the way she baffled and annoyed critics. I recently came across this sentence from an old Robert Christgau review of one of my favorite Nico albums, Desertshore: "The Velvet Underground and Nico plus Chelsea Girl convinced me that Nico had charisma; The Marble Index plus Desertshore convince me that she's a fool." What better recommendation could you get than that?


Since there's not a lot of material here, I thought I'd add in a couple of related articles from two vintage rock magazines. I first read both of these articles in high school and they each had a major influence on my musical tastes.

The first is "The Velvet Underground: White Light/Dark Shadows" from the July 1981 issue of Creem magazine. It offers and cultured and scholarly overview of the band's work. In a lot of ways, this was the article that inspired me to be a writer. It definitely caused me to track down all the out-of-print Velvets albums that school year. I'm not sure exactly why Creem decided to include an article of this nature along with the then-trendy features on AC/DC, Pearl Harbor, and Joe Ely, but I'm glad they did. It's still an excellent read.

Special note to readers regarding the photo captions in Creem magazine: The editors of Creem used to use these spaces to make jokes and/or satirize the articles. These are not to be taken literally. Silly captions don't mean that the article in question is "All lies!! OMG!!" as some high school friends of mine shrieked back in the day. Seriously people, if you read this article and find you cannot emotionally handle a few jokes, the problem is with you, not with Creem. Adjust your meds.

Back to reality, the second article ran in the Sept.-Oct. issue of the little-known Trouser Press Collector's Magazine. This broadsheet, newspaper-styled publication was founded to supplement Trouser Press, the New York-based mag that covered British rock and new wave. The article focuses on Nico's recording career starting with her time in the Velvets. And while I think the writer goes a little hard on the Chelsea Girl album (which has aged exceptionally well since then), I generally agree with most of his points. And besides, who else was devoting three pages to Nico back in 1981?

Related posts:
The Velvet Underground - Squeeze (1973)
The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground - Etc. (1979)
Trouser Press Magazine Back Issues

Track list:
1. Secret Side
2. No One Is There
3. Janitor Of Lunacy
4. Frozen Warnings

Bonus material:
"The Velvet Underground: White Light/Dark Shadows" - Creem Magazine (July 1981)
"Nico" - Trouser Press Collector's Magazine - Issue #19 (Sept.-Oct. 1981)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

(Johnny) Ringo - Eye Witness (1982)

Johnny Ringo was a dancehall reggae performer and DJ who started releasing albums in the late 1970s. He also went by the lone name "Ringo," which was the case on this album, his fifth, but I've included his first name in the title of this post so Beatle fans won't get misdirected. This ain't the drummer of the Fab Four, people.

Unlike, say, Mikey Dread, who I followed starting in high school, I know very little about Ringo. The main thing that stands out in his catalog is that he didn't shy away from controversial subjects in his songs, as exemplified by his tunes "Herpes" and "Two Lesbians." This album has a song about "Cocaine," which is sadly ironic, because Ringo was said to have died as a result of overusing the drug.

The music here will sound familiar to anyone who has heard the more popular dancehall performers who came in the wake of Ringo. The most obvious example of this is Shaggy, and some of the tunes here, like "Bounty Hunter" and "Gypsy Girl" sound like proto versions of what he'd do over a decade later.

I picked this CD up in the mid-1990s, back when you could find a lot of this stuff in discount bins. It's not rare, but it is out of print. Since I recently posted some reggae this week, I thought I'd put this out as a followup and keep things thematic.

Related posts:
Mikey Dread - S.W.A.L.K. (1982)
Bob Marley - Natural Mystic (1992)

Track list:
1. Eye Witness
2. Bendown Plaza
3. Cocaine
4. Video
5. Come Back Ringo
6. Bounty Hunter
7. Cleanliness
8. Gypsy Girl

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bob Marley - Natural Mystic (1992)

Despite the title of this bootleg, it isn't really a collection of solo Bob Marley recordings. Rather, it's a posthumous CD that's a grab-bag of early recordings by various incarnations of the Wailers, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and Bob Marley and producer Lee "Scratch" Perry and his house band, the Upsetters.

This came out a quarter century ago, and it's long been superseded by legit collections and at least one huge box set. So why post it? For several reasons. First, it has sentimental value to me. I bought this on the cheap when I had little money to spend on CDs, and I listened to it a lot when I was much younger.

Secondly, the background of these songs were always a mystery to me. Putting this out finally gave me impetus to do some research on the recordings (which I've included in the MP3 tags). I was surprised that they were a hodge-podge of released and unreleased recordings done in a variety of settings.

For one thing, I had no idea Marley recorded as extensively with Lee Perry as he did. I also didn't know that when they put out singles in Jamaica, sometimes they didn't have catalog numbers. But the Internet now allows us to see scans of those old 45 labels and that's the way it was. For example, Marley's early version of "Satisfy My Soul, "Rock My Boat," had no catalog number when it originally came out on the Tuff Gong label in 1971. That's also the case with "Keep On Mooving" (SIC) and "African Herbsman," the latter of which is a cover of a Richie Havens song.

Whenever possible, I corrected the song titles here (bootlegs are notorious for getting them wrong). So "Keep On Movin'" is now "Keep On Mooving," which is what is says on the record label. "Don't Rock My Boat" is titled "Rock My Boat" on the label. If you want the titles as they appeared on the bootleg, just check out the scans.

Finally, if you know little or nothing about Marley's music, you might be in for a surprise here. Where his most popular material is slickly produced, these early recordings are low-fi and gritty. This is the way a lot of early Jamaican music sounded and it's pretty infections -- much like a lot of the American R&B that inspired it.

I was a big reggae fan in the '80s and early '90s, so I have a whole bunch of collections like this by various reggae artists, most of whom are far lesser-known than Marley. In the future, I may post some of the more under-the-radar ones if the mood strikes.

Related posts:
Mikey Dread - S.W.A.L.K. (1982)

Track list:
1. Bob Marley and the Upsetters - Natural Mystic
2. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Rock My Boat
3. Bob Marley and the Wailers- Keep On Mooving
4. Bob Marley and the Upsetters - Lively Up Yourself
5. The Wailers - Stop the Train
6. Bob Marley and the Upsetters - Small Axe
7. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Trench Town Rock
8. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Corner Stone
9. Bob Marley and the Upsetters - Mr. Brown
10. Bob Marley and the Wailers  - Soul Shake Down Party
11. Bob Marley and the Wailers - African Herbsman
12. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Soul Almighty
13. Bob Marley - Treat You Right
14. Bob Marley and the Wailers- It's Alright

Friday, July 21, 2017

Internet Radio Station M3U Playlist (2017)

When it comes to radio, my story isn't unique. My degree of fanaticism about pop music might be -- which is why I'm using this post to tell a long radio-oriented story and share an M3U playlist of online stations. But my actual story isn't so special.

From a really young age I was obsessed with the radio, like I'll bet a lot of you were. I'd stay up past my bedtime and scroll up and down the dial of the Sony "pocket transistor" my aunt gave me for a Christmas gift, looking for something. But since I was really young I wasn't quite what it was I was looking for. Around the time I was in fourth grade, I'd found it. I hit upon a Long Island AM oldies station that was playing a 4 Seasons song I'd never heard before, "Ronnie." After that, they played a Kinks song that was a new one on me, "A Well Respected Man." I was intrigued.

I'd always loved the music from my childhood, but it dawned on me then that there was a world of old music beyond the Supremes/Beatles/Monkees I remembered. So I continued exploring. The FM "album rock" stations that kids in school were starting to tune into didn't thrill me so much. I remember getting an earful of a Hot Tuna song and thinking it was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard. But getting to hear tunes from decades earlier was exciting for some reason. Still is.

By high school, I was living in the Washington D.C. area and found I could pick up a Virginia station that went by the name "Extra 104" and played only songs from the '50s and '60s. No one back then understood why I listened to this stuff. While both girlfriends and close friends had indulged my interest in the local alternative rock station (WHFS, which I wrote about elsewhere on this blog), they drew the line when it came to songs like the Shirelles' "Foolish Little Girl" or the Fleetwoods' "Mr. Blue."

But that didn't dissuade me from listening on my own, of course. And by the time I was an adult, I'd taken it a giant step further.

In 1992 I discovered a fantastic overnight radio oldies show that broadcast out of Louisville, Kentucky. It could be picked up across most of the U.S. since it was aired on a high-powered AM radio station, WHAS-AM 740. The program was "The Joe Donovan Show" and it further sparked my interest in obscure oldies, since Donovan played any and all records that made the Top 100 from the 1950s to the 1980s.

That might seem ho-hum in the age of YouTube, when almost any obscure oldie can be summoned by the click of a mouse. But in the early 1990s, "The Joe Donovan Show" was pretty much the only source for this kind of music and it felt like a window into a lost world. I'd tape the show each night and listen obsessively to them the next day. This went on for years. Donovan, who was beloved by music fanatics far and wide, died in early 2014, but his spirit lives on in the old tapes of his show that I saved. I may post them here in the future.

But that's not my point today. I'm getting to that. Soon, I promise.

When Joe Donovan went off the air twenty years ago in the summer of 1997, oldies radio seemed to die along with his program. I'm fuzzy on the details, but some anti-monopoly laws that related to media companies were removed from the books. This apparently allowed mega companies like Clear Channel to step in and syndicate their shows in multiple markets across the radio dial. Out went the countless small AM oldies stations I could still pick up in places like Ohio and in came endless airings of talk shows like "The Art Bell Show." (Granted, music was dying on AM anyway, but this was the final blow.)

Still, I was addicted to unexpectedly hearing mysterious-sounding minor hits like "Morning Glory Days" by the Pleasure Fair. What to do?

It took a few years, but eventually online radio started to come into its own. A lot of independent Internet stations had been started by music fanatics who were like me -- only more ambitious. When people started to get rid of their 56K modems and upgrade to DSL and cable, these stations became easier to listen to because the problems with buffering became a thing of the past (remember all that?). I bookmarked a bunch of favorites in my browser and started listening to them all time.

Soon I got the idea to put these stations together in an M3U playlist that I could play in the MP3 player Winamp.  As time went by, I'd add new stations to the playlist and/or refine it. At some point, while "flipping through the stations," it occurred to me that I'd inadvertently created the dream AM radio dial I'd always wanted when I was young. I began sharing M3Us playlists with people I knew, most of whom seemed appreciative but bewildered.

And that's what I'm sharing with you all today.

This particular M3U playlist contains around 75 stations. Most are independently-run and they play music you'd never get on terrestrial stations. I know what you all are thinking, so let me head you off at the pass and say that I'm well aware of Sirius-XM but avoid it. My dislike of corporate media keeps me away. Plus, the BMW-driving, McMansion-living contingent of my extended family swears by it and where they zig, I zag. As for listening in the car, I use that time to play the vinyl rips I post here.

This M3U playlist was arranged to suit my own tastes, not to provide any sort of "well-balanced" musical experience. The stations at the top of the list mostly air music from the '60s. But judging from the massive amount of hits I get on my blog whenever I post '60s music, this set up should work for most of you as well. Further down, there are a lot of other stations loosely grouped together by genre (jazz, folk, old-time music, etc.). I included nothing from genres in which I have no interest, like contemporary country. This is the way I like it. If you have better ideas that suit your own listening habits, feel free to do some rearranging.

Since a lot of these stations are run by music fans, not big companies, they sometimes switch the URLs of their streams without notice or simply go dark unexpectedly. Some only broadcast at specific hours and some turn off and then go back on willy-nilly. That's life. The scope of music they provide more than makes up for any shortcomings. But because of all that, these playlists need to be updated regularly or they become obsolete.

I could explain why I picked the particular stations I did, but that would ruin the elements of surprise and discovery. And that's what made radio really great in the old days -- knowing you could stumble onto the unexpected. That's the fun of it. Wonder what Rewound Radio or the Seven Inch Soul station are playing now? Tune in and find out.

(Update: I took the advice of reader The In Crowd (see below) and revised this list since I've written this post, adding more stations. I may continue to do this in future as the mood strikes. Consider this an ongoing project.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - It's Time For... (1986)

So this is a rarity. Who'd have thought?!

Out of all the records I own, it turns out one that I reviewed for my college paper is now going for $50 or more on eBay. On the bright side, I can make some money off it. On the downside, I guess that means I'm really getting old. Bummer.

But either way, looks like it was a good thing I saved my copy and kept it in excellent condition all these years. Because that means that all of you can now hear one of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers' best albums. The question is: Why exactly did this album become so obscure?

Most likely, it's because it was distributed in the U.S. on a record label that went out of business soon after, namely Upside Records. Richman was signed to Rough Trade in England at the time, so this was a one-shot distribution deal to get the record out domestically, since Richman had been dropped by both Sire Records and Twin/Tone in years preceding this LP.

Upside Records was best known as the U.S. label for British rockers The Woodentops and judging from its listings over at, it was only around during 1986 and 1987. It was just recently that I learned how hard to find this album is, after I read a post about Richman at the It's Psychedelic Baby Mag blog and I noticed the writer didn't even reference it.

So, here's the deal with this album. It's the sixth official studio release by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. It marked the first appearance of two of his best songs, "Corner Store" and "When I Dance," both of which he re-recorded (in inferior form, in my opinion). It also had a bunch of other great tunes, like the nostalgic "Neon Sign" and the romantic ballad "This Love Of Mine." Plus, it has "Double Chocolate Malted" and "Yo Jo Jo," two rockers that now seem silly on record but worked great when I saw him in concert (I saw him multiple times in 1985-86, sometimes going to two shows per night).

When I saw Richman live the first time, his drummer was Andy Paley, who produced this album. These days, Paley is known for his collaborations with Brian Wilson and his work on TV's SpongeBob SquarePants and various movie soundtracks. But this was before all that. During the mid-1980s Paley was a sidekick to Richman, accompanying him on stage and producing two of his albums -- this one and the one that preceded it, Rockin' and Romance.

(Digression: I might have witnessed the dissolution of the Richman-Paley relationship at Washington D.C. gig in 1985 when Paley failed to show up for the first of shows that night. This bothered Richman enough that he kept mentioning it on stage. When Paley finally arrived in time for the second show, Richman didn't seem too pleased. The next time Richman came 'round (in the spring of 1986), he had different musicians with him.)
Paley's production of this album follows the tradition of most Richman LPs in that it's pretty basic. It sounds like it was mostly recorded live and with a minimum of bells and whistles. Wait, forget bells and whistles -- there isn't even any bass bass guitar! The songs have either two guitars or one guitar and a guitarrón, which is am Argentinian stringed instrument tuned to a lower register than a standard guitar. This is the set-up Richman used on stage at this point, and by bringing his live arrangements to the studio unchanged he kept their integrity.

If you're listening to this rip with headphones, you'll notice the mix is very close to mono. That's not a mistake on my part. That's the way it's produced. The mix, the songs, and even the nostalgic thrust of the lyrics hearken back to an earlier era. For anyone who is interested on my opinion as to how and why Richman's music evolved this way, read on.

Where Jonathan Is Coming From

A lot of people who discovered Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers through the rock standard "Roadrunner" seemed bewildered to learn he abandoned that revved-up style and took up "acoustic childlike music." That does describe what he did, but it's not totally accurate and becomes less so when you view his music from a more historical perspective.

Richman didn't start making kid's music per se. What he did was switched up his sources of inspiration. Instead of drawing on the late '60s Velvet Underground rock he loved as a teenager, he went back to the pre-Beatles rock'n'roll of his boyhood. So, out went songs inspired by "Sister Ray," and in came lighter, sillier music fueled by the likes of the Coasters, novelty pioneers like Sheb Wooley, light-hearted folk rock ("The Marvelous Toy," "On Top Of Spaghetti"), and even the 4 Seasons (I've long thought the opening number on this album, "It's You" has its roots in "Big Girls Don't Cry").

Richman's second studio album, Rock'n'Roll With the Modern Lovers, wasn't titled ironically, although critics didn't seem to get this at the time. The "rock'n'roll" he's referencing is the music that blasted out of transistor radios before the Beatles, the Byrds, Bob Dylan and others made it all serious and turned it into "rock." Early rock'n'roll wasn't all Little Richard and Chuck Berry. A lot of it had pretty goofy lyrics and also grew out of a bare-bones musical style that Richman adopted.

Since the '70s were so filled with humorless pomp-rock, people forgot that humor and rock'n'roll went hand-in-hand at one point. Critics can drone on all they want about how Robert Johnson's blues were the main source of rock'n'roll and how rock was about rebellion and such. Maybe so, but most of the kids of the late '50s and early '60s (who included my parents) weren't looking to become blues scholars or upend "societal norms." They were buying records like "Yakety Yak," "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear," "Short Shorts," and "Wake Up Little Susie." Those records weren't only rocking; they were amusing as hell. Ignore the comedic strain of early rock'n'roll and you're being willfully ignorant of history.

The connection between humor and early rock'n'roll was explored in detail in an essay I posted a while back "The In-Between Years (1958-1963),"  which was written by Portland-based musician and critic Mark Sten and featured in the 1978 book "Rock Almanac." Sten not only gets into how novelty songs were an offshoot of rock'n'roll, but he notes how instrumentals were big during this era. Richman excelled in this area too: One of his biggest UK hits was the instrumental "Egyptian Reggae."

Finally Sten mentions that The In-Between Years was also a great time for wistful, elegiac ballads like the Teddy Bears' "To Know Him Is To Love Him" and Thomas Wayne's "Tragedy." This style is echoed in a big way in Richman's music and it reached an apogee of sorts on the closing number of this record, "Ancient Long Ago," which I think is one of the best things Richman ever wrote. For a guy who was supposedly making music for kids, this song, which is about feeling like you've known a woman through the history of time, is pretty damned profound.

Some More Random Notes On 'It's Time For...'

One of the best things about "Ancient Long Ago" is that it features the glowing soprano voice of singer Ellie Marshall, who also appears throughout this LP. Marshall was a great foil for Richman in the 1980s and can be heard on some of his best tunes from this era, including "The Neighbors" (from 1983's Jonathan Sings!) and "Down In Bermuda" (from 1985's Rockin' and Romance).

It's also unclear as to what exactly this album is officially titled. The cover says It's Time For but the label reads It's Time For... with ellipsis. I went with what it said on the label, since it made more sense. The label also included an ampersand in the group's name, so I went with that, too. This all might seem like nitpicking, but I used to do this for a living and it mattered then.

Finally, a word about the quality of the actual pressing of this LP. It's awful. I kept my copy in mint condition all these years and barely played it, so it was disappointing to find that the sound of the actual vinyl was seriously substandard.

One big problem is a low-frequency rumble that pops up from time to time. I assume this came about because the record company used cheaply-made vinyl. But an even worse problem was the way the disc was "cut." As the first side draws to a close, there's distortion on the louder sections of the songs. This showed up when I played the record on both of my turntables, so the problem wasn't on my end.

When I did this rip, I discovered I could sidestep this distortion by using my Numark turntable, which plays in reverse. By recording the closing number on side one backwards, I found that I was able to at least relegate the distortion to one side of the stereo spectrum. After that, it was easy to "shave it off"
using the Stereo Center function of Goldwave Audio Editor, which lets you discreetly alter the volumes of the left, center, and right channels (as opposed to just left and right, like you find on a stereo).

Under normal circumstances, removing a bit of the left channel would affect the "stereo spread" of the music. But it doesn't matter here because, as I mentioned, this album's mix is very close to mono.

With all this in mind, I was able to do a "very good" quality rip of the LP. Regular readers might notice that in this post I stopped short of using my usual descriptions like "pristine" and "excellent." That's because I could only get it so good. Maybe the rest of you can't hear tell the difference, but I like to listen to music with headphones, and I can.

Then again, the LP quality issues here could be considered a type of poetic justice.

Here I am complaining that my rip has a tad bit of distortion, yet I've written elsewhere about how much I love the fuzzy, lo-fi sound of the early rock'n'roll records...the very records that were antecedents of this one. Those records include Robin Luke's "Susie Darling," The Dreamlovers' "When We Get Married," The Premiers' "Farmer John," and Johnnie & Joe's "Over The Mountain, Across The Sea." None of those records are exactly the stuff that audiophiles dream of, and yet they all get their points across pretty well.

With It's Time For..., Jonathan Richman was looking to revive his own glory days of AM radio. So him putting out a perfect-sounding album and me doing a clean-as-a-whistle rip defeats the whole purpose of that. It's supposed to be a bit messy. Sort of like drinking a double chocolate malted.

Related posts:
Trouser Press - Issue #44 (Nov. 1979)

Track list:
1. It's You
2. Let's Take A Trip
3. This Love Of Mine
4. Neon Sign
5. Double Chocolate Malted
6. Just About Seventeen
7. Corner Store
8. The Desert
9. Yo Jo Jo
10. When I Dance
11. Shirin and Fahrad
12. Ancient Long Ago

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Various Artists - Colour Me Pop, Vol. 3

With the third and final installment of the Colour Me Pop series, we have on our hands a full-blown mystery, folks. So I'm calling on the readers to help solve it -- because I sure couldn't get to the bottom of it.

In preparing these collection for this blog, I researched all the records featured on them so I could double-check the song titles and band names. Plus, I wanted to collect info about release dates and songwriters for the MP3 tags. But one song on this volume didn't check out, and no matter how many ways I look it up, I can't get any information on it.

The song in question is Track #7, which is supposedly the group Sight and Sound doing a song called "Gotta Get Out Of My Mind." I say "supposedly," because nowhere online is there any record of Sight and Sound doing a song by this title. Move bassist Rick Price was in this band and being a lifelong fan of the Move, I know a bit about them, and even I can't figure this out.

On top of that, "Gotta Get Out Of My Mind" isn't even the proper title of this song. It was originally titled "Step Out Of Your Mind," when the American Breed released it in 1967. It was their first Top 40 hit in the U.S., hitting #24 on the Hot 100. It was then cut by a British group called The Kool (who had a track featured on the first Colour Me Pop set). Their version can be heard on the second Piccadilly Sunshine collection. This ain't it.

So, did Sight and Sound ever cut this song under the wrong title? Did the record drop into such obscurity that it's not referenced anywhere -- from 45Cat to Discogs to MusicStack? Does anyone know? Rick Price, are you out there somewhere?

If any reader can figure this out, I'll add your comment at the end of this blog post and give you a shout-out.

Other than that, this volume presents more of what the first two offered: Obscure late '60s British pop that's big on whimsy and attitude. I especially like The Roll Movement's "I'm Out On My Own" and The Shame's "Dreams Don't Bother Me." All of the songs here were released on 45s except the Easybeats number "What In The World," which was a track from their second and final British LP, Vigil.

Related posts:
Various Artists - Colour Me Pop, Vol. 1
Various Artists - Colour Me Pop, Vol. 2
30 Psychedelic Collections (Nov. 2016)

Track list:
1. Herman's Hermits - Museum
2. Jo Jo Gunn - Every Story Has An End
3. The Roll Movement - I'm Out On My Own
4. Roger Earl Okin - I Can't Face The Animals
5. Sight and Sound - Gotta Get Out Of My Mind
6. The New Inspiration - Thinking About The Good Times
7. The Bats - You Look Good Together
8. Normie Rowe - Mary, Mary
9. Peppermint Circus - Keeping My Head Above Water
10. Blond - I Wake Up And Call
11. Manfred Mann - She Needs Company
12. Unit 4 Plus 2 - Booby Trap
13. The Scaffold - Charity Bubbles
14. The Downliners Sect - The Cost Of Living
15. The Easybeats - What In The World
16. John Bromley - Wonderland Avenue, U.S.A.
17. Gary Hamilton - Let The Music Play
18. Peter and Gordon - I Feel Like Going Out
19 Procession - One Day In Every Week
20. Ginger Ale - In The Sand
21. Jet Harris - You Only Live Twice
22. Windmill - I Can Fly
23. The Shame - Dreams Don't Bother Me
24. Mike Proctor - Sunday, Sunday, Sunday
25. The Rebel Rousers - Should I
26. Dave Barry - Forever

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Various Artists - Colour Me Pop, Vol. 2

The second installment of the Colour Me Pop series pretty much picks up where the first one left off. There's lots of upbeat late '60s pop tinged with psychedelic overtones.

If you're familiar with the Piccadilly Sunshine collections, the general sound here will be familiar, as will some of the artists. Some of them are familiar from work they did in other areas. Most notable are two future members of 10cc, who are represented by the cuts by the Mindbenders (written by Eric Stewart) and Graham Gouldman.

"Birthday" by the Bunch was also done by Peter and the Wolves. "One Minute Woman" was originally a BeeGees tune. The Manfred Mann tune about "Machines" has some of the most annoying sound effects ever to make it to disc.

There are also some truly great hidden treasures, like the Young Ideas' wistful "Room With A View," the Elastic Band's elegiac "Think Of You Baby," and Steve and Stevie's melancholy "Merry-Go-Round." The "Steve" in that duo is Steve Kipner, who would go on to compose hits for Olivia Newton-John, Christina Aguilera and many others.

But almost all the songs here are good if not great, especially the final stretch of this collection, starting from about song #19. This is the main reason I never forgot about the Colour Me Pop series. When you can't forget the songs, you don't forget the collections. For background, see my post about the first volume.

This is also the only volume of the series that came with full-size cover art, so it also has that to recommend it. It contains a back cover with song titles. Readers with eagle eyes might notice some of those titles differ slightly from the ones in the MP3 files and tags. That's because I looked 'em all up and corrected the ones that were inaccurate.

Doing this led me to an odd situation when I was researching the songs on the third and final volume of this series, which I'll be posting in a few days. Vol. 3 now contains a mystery I haven't been able to solve. So put on your thinking caps, because I'm going to call on readers to help solve it very soon.

Related posts:
Various Artists - Colour Me Pop, Vol. 1
30 Psychedelic Collections (Nov. 2016)

Track list:
1. The Mirror - Gingerbread Man
2. Jigsaw - Lollipop and Goody Man
3. The Mindbenders - The Man Who Loved Trees
4. Double Feature - Just Another Lonely Night
5. Jackie Lomax - One Minute Woman
6. Sounds Around - Red White and You
7. The Gods - Baby's Rich
8. John Bromley - Melody Fayre
9. The Twilights - What's Wrong With the Way I Live
10. Circus - Sink Or Swim
11. Simon Dupree and the Big Sound - Day Time, Night Time
12. The Herd - I Can Fly
13. Graham Gouldman - Upstairs, Downstairs
14. Katch 22- While We're Still Friends
15. The Bunch - Birthday
16. Happy Magazine - Who Belongs To You (Ooby Dooby Doo)
17. The Young Idea - Room With a View
18. Manfred Mann - Machines
19. The Snappers - Upside Down, Inside Out
20. Kippington Lodge - Tomorrow Today
21. Crocheted Doughnut Ring - Maxine's Parlor
22. Grapefruit - Round Going Round
23. The Elastic Band - Think Of You Baby
24. The Nite People - Weird & Funny
25. Onyx - Time Off
26. Steve and Stevie - Merry-Go-Round

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Various Artists - Colour Me Pop, Vol. 1

Here is the first installment of an obscure three-part anthology of British music that has its origins at the long-defunct Faintly Blowing blog, which specialized in obscure 1960s sounds.

The series is a  called Colour Me Pop, and collects up (mostly) obscure British singles from the late '60s. Title notwithstanding, this series has nothing to do with the old British music TV program from the late 1960s that was also called "Colour Me Pop." So if you're expecting a collection of rare live performances by acts like the Small Faces, The Move, etc., you're in the wrong place. These sets are filled with artists that most people don't even know existed.

I discovered the Colour Me Pop sets when Faintly Blowing posted them in 2008. I've listened to them regularly, but apparently few others have 'em because I never see them posted anywhere. So I thought I'd bring them back here, replete with info in the MP3 tags.

If all of this sounds familiar, it's because I did a similar thing back in November, when I posted a full month of psychedelic rock and pop collections (see link below). Back then, I realized I was in possession of the early, original home-brew editions of the Piccadilly Sunshine series, which also originated over at Faintly Blowing.

The focus of Colour Me Pop isn't all that different from Piccadilly Sunshine. Each collection serves up slices of little-heard post Sgt. Pepper pop-rock. The songs are whimsical, lyrical, and defiantly British, at least in most cases. The early BeeGees and Hollies seems to be a touchstone for a lot of these acts. Since these collections are not really psychedelic per se, I didn't include them with all the other psych (and popsike) sets I put out in November. However, there is some psychedelic influence in most of these records, which isn't surprising considering what was happening at the time.

I going on the assumption that the blogger who used to run Faintly Blowing put these together, since I can't find any earlier referenced to them online. If that's the case, let's give him a big metaphorical round of applause since he did a fantastic job. I've listened to these collections regularly for years. To make this all the more mysterious, a third volume of Colour Me Pop also exists but it's not featured in that original blog post. Somehow I obtained it back around 2010, and I'll present that one too. Wonder where I got it? Who knows.

As for the songs, several have become favorites of mine over the years. But I'll single out just one that I especially love: Locomotive's "Rudi's In Love," which was a Top 30 UK hit. It was also and a follow-up to their classic tune "Rudy -- A Message To You," best known for its cover version by The Specials. I'm not sure why the compilers thought to include this pop-reggae tune among the more Lite Pop-styled tracks here, but I'm glad they did.

If you want more info, check the MP3 tags or the file names themselves. These sets came with label info, and I took the time to also add songwriting credits. Speaking of which, the final track was written and performed by some of the guys who later formed 10cc.

Finally, the front cover images in this series are of poor quality because that's the way they were when I got them. I'm guessing that the images were small because back when these were made, everyone had less disc space and the way to cut down on file sizes was to keep the J-Pegs tiny.

Related posts:
30 Psychedelic Collections (Nov. 2016)

Track list:
1. Double Feature - Come On Baby
2. The Gass Company - Everybody Needs Love
3. Los Bravos - Brand New Baby
4. Promise - Just For You
5. Eyes Of Blue - Don't Ask Me To Blend Your Broken Heart
6. The Kool - Room At The Top
7. Jon Gunn - Now It's My Turn
8. Bats - Stop, Don't Do It
9. The Bunch - You Can't Do This
10. Warm Sounds - Birds And Bees
11. The Doughnut Ring - Dance Around Julie
12. Grapefruit - Yes
13. Jigsaw - Let Me Go Home
14. Katch 22 - Makin' My Mind Up
15. Honeybus - Girl Of Independent Means
16. Denny Laine - Ask The People
17. The Montanas - Mystery
18. Simon Dupree And The Big Sound - Thinking About My Life
19. Toby Twirl - Back In Time
20. Young Blood - Green Light
21. The Twilights - Needle In A Haystack
22. The Sweet - Slow Motion
23. The Locomotive - Rudi's In Love
24. Pregnant Insomnia - You Intrigue Me
25. Andy Ellison - Fool From Upper Eden
26. Frabjoy & Runcible Spoon - I'm Beside Myself