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

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"darling, don't leave me / i'm shaking / darling, don't leave me / i'm freezing"

Robert Görl may be remembered by some as the drummer/keyboardist for German industrial band DAF (short for Deutsch-Amerikanische Fruendschaft or German/American Friendship), but more people may remember him as an early 80s solo artist, thanks to a pretty famous backing vocalist on his biggest single: Annie Lennox.

Lennox lent her vocals to Görl's 1984 single, "Darling Don't Leave Me", a haunting, danceable number that got some scant club play in the States. Annie overshadows Görl's robotic, weak vocals quite a bit, making it more a curious missing piece of Eurythmics history than anything else.

That's a shame, since DAF were early pioneers in the EBM or industrial music movement, coming up with downright funky numbers like "The Gun", another big underground club hit which brings to mind other industrial acts like Front 242 or Nitzer Ebb. After several releases, then some solo work, DAF reformed for some big music festivals a few years ago, and a new line-up continues to perform under the name DAF.Partei.

"Darling Don't Leave Me" peaked at #49 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart in 1984.
"The Gun" did not chart.

Get Robert Görl music on Amazon

Special thanks to Baby Chutney for the vinyl!

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posted by John, 4:14 PM | link |

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"silver surfer, do the belly flop / ch-check out goldilocks / listen to her cherry pop"

It was the largest single gathering of goths, punks and alterna-kids to that point in Northeast Ohio.

It was Lollapalooza before Lollapalooza.

It was the 1987 triple-bill tour of New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen and openers Gene Loves Jezebel.

I remember that summer day quite vividly, as my friends and I marvelled at how many other kids with Clairol jet-black hair and trenchcoats descended upon the newly opened Nautica Stage in the Flats, nestled right on the Cuyahoga River to see the biggest concert featuring our music we'd ever seen. Before this show, most of alternative bands were consigned to tiny club gigs or opening slots for larger, more mainstream acts. This was going to be our show.

Gene Loves Jezebel kicked things off with a scene that quickly became something out of a goth Teen Beat, as hundreds of teenaged girls rushed the general admission floor to pin themselves to the stage, screaming out for their idols. My friend Jill grabbed my hand and before I knew it, I was up against the stage myself, watching Michael Ashton preen in a colorful whirl of scarves while his brother Jay posed with his guitar. It was like having chicken fingers before poached salmon or filet wasn't good for you, it didn't match the rest of the course, but boy, it's kinda tasty.

I wasn't the biggest Gene Loves Jezebel fan. I enjoyed their singles, particularly "Heartache" and "Sweetest Thing" from their 1986 album Discover (I got tired fairly quickly of the overplayed "Desire"), but a little went a long way. During this tour supporting their 1987 album, The House Of Dolls, the band moved into a dancier direction than their earlier goth-tinged stuff, a move that would eventually cause a rift between the Ashtons, resulting in the eventual split of the band into two Gene Loves Jezebels, both actually touring at the same time at one point.

House Of Doll's first single, "The Motion Of Love" was a blatant play for Top 40 acceptance, an almost straight-ahead rock ballad with a few of those Jezebel seagull-squeal vocals overlaid. I hated it - I thought it was a blatant and total sell-out. The 12" mix basically extends the torture a bit. The single sort of accomplished its goal, however, and got the group into the Hot 100 for the first time. Also, my distaste for it has receded over time, but that may just be nostalgia.

Capitalizing on the radio and tour exposure, two more singles were worked, both with an emphasis on the dance clubs, resulting in decent mixes for "Twenty Killer Hurts" and "Suspicion".

These singles didn't irritate me as much, because they seemed more in the earlier spirit of the band's sound. The new direction bugged Michael enough to cause him to leave the band and Jay took the group in an even more hair metal direction with their next album, Kiss of Life, with the worst Jezebel single ever, "Jealous", which of course, went on to become the band's biggest hit.

That 1987 concert was epic, though.

"The Motion Of Love" peaked at #87 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988.
"Suspicion" and "Twenty Killer Hurts" did not chart.

Get Gene Loves Jezebel music at Amazon or on Gene Loves Jezebel

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posted by John, 3:57 PM | link |

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Exsqueeze me?

Head over to Jefito today to catch part one of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Squeeze, co-written by yours truly.


posted by John, 11:43 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"there's a kid in a band / got an axe in his hand / he's been learning all the chords / and he's writing all the words"

Yeah, they did more than that song...

Buggles (no "The", please) began as a trio, featuring future super-producer Trevor Horn, future Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley, who would leave the group prior to their debut release to form The Camera Club...but not before co-writing the Buggles' major claim to fame, "Video Killed the Radio Star". For a song that peaked at a paltry #40 on the Hot 100, "Video..." has enjoyed enduring fame, branding Buggles as one-hit wonders, true enough in the States. Overseas however, Buggles had a couple more UK hits, affording them the opportunity to head into the studio to record a follow-up album.

It was during these recording sessions that Horn & Downes found themselves in a studio next door to '70s prog-rockers Yes, who were reeling from the departure of both their longtime vocalist and keyboardist. Things got chummy and before you could say "culture shock" or "Roger Dean cover", Buggles soon found themselves as the newest members of Yes. It was probably the most literal example of When New Wave Happens To Old Artists.

The new-for-the-80s lineup of Yes produced one album, Drama, which wasn't too bad considering. Horn sounded strangely comfortable filling Jon Anderson's platform shoes, and the duo was not shy about contributing to the songwriting duties. One of the Horn/Downes tunes, "Into the Lens" actually began life as a Buggles song drafted for Yes-delayed second Buggles LP. Drama did reasonably well, but the new line-up found itself winding down. The down Downes left to help form a new prog-rock combo, Asia, while Horn went back to finishing that second Buggles album.

Adventures In Modern Recording was essentially a Horn solo project, with plenty of guest stars lending a hand. The title track is a fun, lightweight pop song about, well, making fun, lightweight pop songs.

The single didn't chart, but a second single was worked, this one a little more familiar to Yes fans..."I Am A Camera" was that demo Buggles had prepared prior to joining Yes and watching it morph into "Into The Lens". The Buggles version is a mellower, less hyper affair, perhaps even more prog-rock than the Yes version.

After the singles and album failed to catch fire like the first, Horn turned his attention to producing and one of his first of many huge successes behind the audio board came with 90125, the big 1983 comeback album for...Yes.

"Adventures In Modern Recording" and "I Am A Camera" both failed to chart.

Get Buggles music at Amazon or on The Buggles

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posted by John, 3:23 PM | link |

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Ignoble End Of The J. Geils Band

Greetings to everyone surfing over from Jefito today - welcome and please, pull up a seat.

Seriously, you're gonna wanna sit down for this one. And don't judge me.

We've talked about the unfortunate final fate of The J. Geils Band here before, but there's an additional little footnote to add to the story. After ...Odd's resounding belly flop, the group was tapped to contribute the theme to the classic '80s vampire-fest Fright Night. "Fright Night"the song was yet another tilt towards total novelty for the group, a gimmicky, somewhat embarrassing affair with a Seth Justman vocal just this side of sleepwalking - I will say I'm sort of a sucker for the squiggly synth hook in the chorus, though. There was a video complete with movie clips that I can't find online anywhere to share (no loss), but all the band got for their final recorded effort was two weeks in the Hot 100 and a puny peak at #91. An ignoble end to one of rock's funkier combos.

As a bonus/punishment, here's the Extended Dance Mix for "Concealed Weapons". Enjoy it/hate me forever for it!

"Fright Night" peaked at #91 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.

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posted by John, 12:19 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"somewhere the sun is shining / on this world, but not for me"

Here's what we know, PowerPoint style:

• Singer/guitarist Tim McGovern left the Motels in 1982 to start a new group, this one focused on fusing World rhythms with New Wave and Rock.
• The new group, dubbed Burning Sensations, released a four-song EP featuring the titular single, the calypso-infused "Belly of the Whale".
• The "Belly of the Whale" video got some seriously heavy play on MTV, but the song still failed to chart, despite being totally awesome (pay special note of the Motel's Martha Davis look-a-like pushing McGovern down the slide just as the line "Got thrown off the boat before the trip was done" is heard - any hidden meaning there, y'think?):

• A full-length, self-titled LP followed in 1983 (the Best Year For Music Ever!), a half-decent, half-forgettable affair - one of the standout tracks was the racy "Beat Temptation", which attempted to beat (har) the English Beat at their own game.
• The following year, the band covered Jonathon Richman's song "Pablo Picasso" for the Repo Man soundtrack.
• Then they disappeared, never to be reissued again.

Too bad, because any band that can work the word "bouillabaisse" into a single deserves recognition.

"Belly of the Whale" did not chart.
"Beat Temptation" was not released as a single.

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posted by John, 4:26 PM | link |

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

VH1Classic launches new website officially launches today, an effort to shore up the online brand of the cable oldies channel as the destination on the internet for classic music videos at the same time the channel seems to be removing that unique position from itself by playing movies, countdown shows, basically anything but music videos.

Initial thoughts:

And what happened to The Vault?

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posted by John, 11:54 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

INXS - "Dekadance"

Issued in the United States only, this four-track EP was released in 1983 (The Best Year For Music Ever!) to capitalize on INXS' breakthrough earlier in the year with the single "The One Thing". That song is included here in a nice extended version, along with longer remixes of Shabooh Shoobah tracks "Black and White" and my fave, "To Look At You".

A re-recorded, moodier version of "Here Comes" (also originally from Shabooh) fills out the EP. Dekadance has been out of print for 24 years, but here it is for your grooving pleasure today. Enjoy!

Just don't say the name "J.D. Fortune" around me.

Dekadance EP:
"Black And White (Extended Version)"
"To Look At You (Extended Version)"
"The One Thing (Extended Version)"
"Here Comes II (New Version)"

Get INXS music at Amazon or on INXS

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posted by John, 12:06 PM | link |