Smiths Complete - Available at Rhino.coma-ha "Hunting High & Low" and "Scoundrel Days" Deluxe Editions Rhino Handmade raids the vault!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"down in the depths / hidden from sight / my secret identity…"

Being the total music geek that I am, I can tell you the first CD I ever bought. Well, make that the first two CDs I ever bought, since they were purchased at the same time from the same shop. In 1987, the Arcade Shopping Center in downtown Cleveland saw the opening of a store exclusively devoted to nothing but CDs – I believe it was called CD World or some such – which was a radical concept in those days when vinyl and cassettes still ruled. I was working my very first advertising job while still in high school, responsible for paste-ups (ah, those pre-computer days) and running general errands which took me to the big city. Those trips were looked forward to with great anticipation, since I could go CD shopping.

I didn’t even have a CD player until 1988, but I was happy to buy CDs and record them at my buddy Jeff’s house onto high-quality metal (!) cassettes, since they sounded so much better. In the dawn of the CD era, record companies didn’t just release everything on the new format – they picked and chose the titles carefully, thinking this expensive, high-end format would appeal to more esoteric and varied tastes. The thinking was, Stacey Q fans weren’t going to spring for a CD of “Two of Hearts”, but REM fans? Oh, yeah.

That’s why the first two CDs I ever purchased were the Bolshoi’s “Friends” CD that also featured the “Giant” EP tacked on, and the band’s follow-up, “Lindy’s Party.” I was a big fan of the band since picking up the “Giants” EP in 1985 after seeing the video for “Happy Boy” in the wee hours of MTV’s “120 Minutes” show. From there, I got the “Friends” LP (I always thought the title was “Friends or Fiends” based on the typography of the cover – if you have it, you can see what I mean), and I was ecstatic to see that both of these were available on one CD. I hadn’t purchased “Lindy’s Party” on any format yet, so that was a nice bonus.

Anyhooooo…the Bolshoi formed in the early 80s in Leeds, England, headed by vocalist/guitarist Trevor Tanner who possesses one of those voices, like Morrissey, Lloyd Cole or Robert Smith – you either love it or hate it. The man drips smarm, snark and sarcasm with each syllable. I, of course, loved it. Why are the Bolshoi featured during my spooky Halloween week? The lyrics. Dark, foreboding, yet there’s a hilarious line or aside tucked in here and theres. For example, “A Way”, the lead single from “Friends”:

”Money's scarce, but family honour

Brings it home, brings it home

And down the shop, the tongues they snicker

TV dinners - beer and liquorrrrr, yeah

Skeletons fall out of cupboards

Curtains drawn - fall open - to allow

The light - shows up the dust

That plays around your face

A Way

Yes you get by

(sing that last part with a high, whiny falsetto for maximum effect)

The earlier “Happy Boy” is even creepier with the lines:

”such a happy boy today
blew my family clean away”

which makes you think, “uh oh, someone got a .45 in the face,” until you hit the next line:

”going to university
whaddaya think now?”

So, what’s it all about? I’m not entirely sure, but I love it.

You may recognize “Lindy’s Party’s” first single, “TV Man” – MTV played the video quite a bit on “120 Minutes” back in the day. “Lindy’s Party” was a little more acoustically focused than their debut, with unsettling quiet passages, but still plently of hooks.

After “Lindy’s Party”, the Bolshoi went their separate ways, to be Lost in the ‘80s. However, both albums are still in print as imports (except now the “Giants” EP is gone from the “Friends” reissue – WHY???). If you like what you hear here, by all means, check them out – they’re uniformly good stuff.

Download “Happy Boy”.
Download “A Way”.
Download “T.V. Man”.

Neither album charted.

Get Bolshoi CDs at Amazon.
posted by John, 4:46 PM | link |

Friday, October 21, 2005

"Enchantra, Endora, Tabitha / Esmerelda, Clara, Hagatha"

Halloween’s around the corner, so for the next two weeks, we’ll focus on some seasonally themed Lost in the 80’s tunes. As SCTV’s Count Floyd would say, “Scary stuff, kids!”

Book of Love were fairly popular on the 80’s dance scene, scoring several big club hits, and even nearly crossing over to the Top 40 side of things with “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls”, the first single off their second album, “Lullaby” (if you consider peaking at #90 on the Hot 100 crossing over). “Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls” was released as an extended dance mix that was interpolated with a remake of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (the theme from “The Exorcist”) – a bizarre combo that somehow worked. But that’s not why we’re here today…

“Witchcraft” was the follow-up single, a bouncy, light confection about harnessing the dark power of Satan to snare a lover. Well, not really. I think. “Witchcraft” was catchy enough to cross over the dance club ghetto Book of Love seemed resigned to reside in, but alas, it was not meant to be. Monster club hit, though. Get it? “Monster!” Ha, ha, it is to laugh.

Book of Love went on to release one more horrible album ("Candy Carol") and one last, half-decent album ("Lovebubble") before calling it quits in the early 90's. The past few years saw a reunion tour, a couple of new songs on a new compilation, but not much else. Too bad - those first two albums are synthpop classics. So good, they're scary.


Download “Witchcraft (Extended Version)”.

“Witchcraft” did not chart.

Get Book of Love CDs!
posted by John, 11:15 AM | link |

Monday, October 17, 2005

Return to Oz

Just popping to share this, from E! Online...

NEWS FROM PORT CHARLES: Singer-actor Rick Springfield reprising his role as Dr. Noah Drake on ABC's General Hospital starting December 2.

Wowza. Think he'll do "Don't Talk to Strangers"?
posted by John, 4:07 PM | link |

Friday, October 07, 2005

"S-s-s-se-ss-sex-sex-s-sex Crime-cr-cr-cr-cr-cri-crime"

Here's a first - a pre-emptive Lost in the '80s post to make up for a set of reissues that, while nice, will be missing something...

November 15th will see the (nearly) complete re-release of 8 of Eurythmics albums, remastered and chock full of bonus tracks and b-sides, some never before released. Each disc will feature one cover version as a bonus track, which is pretty neat. Here's the scoop, along with track listings.

NOTE: I've just gotten word from Sony/BMG that these WILL be released in the U.S. on the same date, Nov. 15. Good show, Sony!

Now, what's missing?


After hitting paydirt in America with their 2nd and 3rd LPs ("Sweet Dreams" & "Touch"), Annie & Dave were invited to create the soundtrack for the dark, dreary, depressing film version of George Orwell's "1984". While the film was a drag, the songs weren't - they were darker in tone, but then again, Eurythmics always played with darker elements. The first single, "Sexcrime (1984)" did well overseas, but conservative ears in America weren't ready for this. Dance clubs (particularly gay ones - shocker) were though, and the track very nearly topped the dance charts.

"Sexcrime's" follow up, "Julia", was a complete 180 - a somber, slow ballad, mournful and bitter. While a beautiful song, it wasn't what the charts were looking for. However, overseas charts went nuts for it.

So, why isn't the "1984" soundtrack on the slate for reissue? Only the band and their label can say for sure, but I'm guessing it has to do with the vagaries of soundtrack rights - often the movie studio, not the record label, holds the rights to such things. A pity - these two songs alone are reason enough to set the album free.

But hey, that's why I'm here.

Download "Sexcrime (1984)".
Download "Sexcrime (1984) [extended version]".
Download "Julia".

"Sexcrime (1984)" peaked at #81 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and at #2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1984.
"Julia" did not chart.
posted by John, 2:09 PM | link |