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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bonus Lost B-sides: Duran Duran & Kissing the Pink

“Secret Oktober”, the flip side of Duran’s “Union of the Snake” is truly a buried gem, a song that would have considerably brightened the overblown and overly bloated “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” (perhaps replacing the unnecessary instrumental “Tiger, Tiger”?). “Secret Oktober” is basically Simon and Nick, vocals and synths, very much in the vein of “The Chauffer” off “Rio”, a nice melody over a comparatively understated synth riff. It continues to be a big fan favorite to this day – I even saw them do it live in 1994 during the Cucurillo years, so it must be close to the boys. Luckily for Durannies, each and every b-side and remix is available on two different box sets. The first one (’81-’85) is essential, the second, not so much.

And by request, here’s a pretty rare Kissing the Pink b-side – “Garden Party” is not the Ricky Nelson hit, but rather an extension of its a-side, “Maybe This Day” (which we've talked about here). I’d like to think it was meant to describe the party sung about in “Maybe This Day” (over the garden wall she said / let’s go to the party). Perhaps, or maybe it has nothing to do with it. In any case, it’s an arty, moody little number, worth a couple of listens, but hardly their best.

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posted by John, 9:10 AM | link |

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lost B-sides Week: Thomas Dolby "The Wreck of the Fairchild"

One of Thomas Dolby’s earliest singles (even before THAT song, I believe) was the incredible “Airwaves,” a song I think was tough for him to equal – it’s mellow and epic all at once, with mysterious lyrics and a fantastic bridge with great lines:

Control has enabled
the abandoned wires again, but
the copper cables
all rust in the acid rain
that flood the subways with
elements of our corrosion
cable them to me.

Of course, when “Airwaves” was released as a single, the bridge was completely excised. Sigh.

“Airwaves” didn’t exactly burn up the charts – it was never even released as a single in the States. That ramps up the scarcity factor of today’s b-side, “The Wreck of the Fairchild,” a mostly instrumental funk/reggae/new wave stew with a pretty cool finish that segues directly back to its a-side. “Fairchild” sounds like a song in progress, something just waiting for a melody line to be written over it, but ultimately scrapped to an obscure b-side, never to appear on any other compilation or collection. Too bad – it would have been interesting to see it fleshed out, since it fits the vibe of Dolby’s first (and completely essential) album, "Golden Age of Wireless", which is in dire need of a deluxe re-mastering (complete with original mixes of “Radio Silence” and b-sides – c’mon, EMI). It was featured on the initial UK pressing of the LP, but quickly deleted and replaced by “One of Our Submarines” and a little-known song called “She Blinded Me With Science”.

Download “The Wreck of the Fairchild”.
And just because, here is the full version of “Airwaves”.

”The Wreck of the Fairchild” was the b-side to “Airwaves,” released in 1982, and on the first UK pressing of “The Golden Age of Wireless”.

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posted by John, 9:38 AM | link |

Monday, August 11, 2008

"we spoke about the time and place of our first meeting / without a word i knew you knew that i cared about you"

There was a discussion over at Silence Is a Rhythm (scroll down about half a page) about the recent Human League reissues and how EMI have done an okay job with them. One thing I hated, though, is that they were so close to being perfect by only one or two tracks.

The Hysteria remaster is more than serviceable, including all the remixes of the era, but my main beef was that by including just two missing tracks from the U.S. Fascination EP, EMI would have sewn up the entire early Human League output. EMI halfway corrected these omissions by including one of the missing tracks, "You Remind Me of Gold", on the new Human League Remixes and Rareities CD. So, I'm going to take the initiative to post the other missing track.

Fascination EP

"I Love You Too Much (Original Version)" was recorded for this EP (the other songs were all previously released singles or b-sides in the U.K.) and was later re-recorded for the Hysteria album. This original version is vastly superior, in my not so humble opinion. Where the Hysteria version just sorts of drones on, this version is quite the little funky number. Check out that bassline and the incredibly tone-deaf backing "Ahhhhhs" from the girls. No comparison.

But hey, good job anyway, EMI. Don't think we Leaugeophiles don't appreciate the effort. See? I didn't even bring up the "EMI stands for Every Mistake Imaginable" joke!


"I Love You Too Much" was not released as a single.


posted by John, 8:21 AM | link |

Monday, August 04, 2008

"i could blame it all on the heavens above / or i could blame it all on the stars"

Years before Cowboy Troy fused rap and country to create “Hick Hop”, Rhode Island outfit Rubber Rodeo, dressed in fringe jackets, cowboy boots and bolo ties, added the punk aesthetic alongside new wave’s sound to Patsy Cline-ish melodies to create “Cowpunk”, which on paper sounds like an unholy alliance, but in practice wasn’t too bad.

Cowpunk, y'all!

Fusing synths and drum machines with lap-pedal steel guitar and twangy “y’all” vocals, Rubber Rodeo’s major label debut, “Scenic View” was kitschy and catchy at the same time. I remember an initial big push from MTV for the first video, “The Hardest Thing”, which is where I first heard them (after all, radio wouldn’t touch something like this). MTV must have had the video in medium rotation, because I saw the band romping through the huge dinosaur park later featured in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” several times. I was hooked and bought the album, but MTV dropped the video just as quickly.

I do remember seeing the video for the second single, “Anywhere With You”, a couple times, but not nearly as much as the first one, which is strange since “Anywhere” actually was a bigger hit, charting on the Hot 100 for a few weeks.

Two years later, Rubber Rodeo released a second album, “Heartbreak Highway”, featuring the single “Souvenir”, which you’ll find on one of EMI’s “Living In Oblivion” compilations. I never understood why they chose that song, since just about no one heard that second album – maybe “Souvenir” was a radio hit somewhere? – but “Heartbreak Highway” stripped away more of the country touches until Rubber Rodeo sounded like pretty much everything else in 1986. And with that, Rubber Rodeo closed up shop and rode off into the pop sunset, but not before leaving us with at least two great tracks.

”The Hardest Thing” did not chart.
“Anywhere With You” peaked at #86 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1984.


posted by John, 10:33 AM | link |