Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ksenija Erker

Artist: Ksenija Erker
LP: 7" single
Song: "Povedi Me Večeras" 
[ listen ]

This weekend I attended the Williams Family Campout at a lovely Mormon-owned campground called Camp Zarahemla, where droves of conservative young white people often enjoy gathering to participate in strange games involving blindfolds...

...and the re-enactment of ancient Native American massacres.

I drove out of the hills yesterday morning directly onto a road that led to Golden Oldies record store in Tacoma. I managed to unearth a few 7" treasures after rummaging through their disheveled collection of 45s scattered around the floor in cardboard boxes that are coming apart at the seams. This 1973 Yugoslavian pop single is one of the things I found. 

Born in 1954, Ksenija Erker had performed in a children's choir and as a backing vocalist before launching her solo career with the release of "Povedi Me Večeras (Take Me Tonight)" in 1973. Sadly, the lovely and talented Ksenija ultimately "submitted to family life" in the mid-1980s, effectively putting an end to her career in popular music. You can read more about Ksenija Erker in Croatian here and find the English translation here.

Ksenija Erker on YouTube:

[ Ksenija Erker ]

[ Golden Oldies — Tacoma, Washington ]

Thursday, August 25, 2016

This Mortal Coil

Artist: This Mortal Coil
LP: 7" single
Song: "Kangaroo" 
[ listen ]

For a label whose releases have been so heavily influential on my musical tastes over the years, I realized that 4AD has been grossly under-represented on this blog, with only four postings since I started this thing back in August of 2008. And two of those entries are for Dance Chapter, who, though I like them just fine, aren't one of the groups that initially drew me to the label. 

This Mortal Coil was a 4AD label band (Wikipedia calls it "a gothic dream pop collective"), drawing together musicians from the label's roster, and from other labels too. As you can see in the song credits below, the contributing musicians' primary group is listed along with their name. This basically provided a musical scavenger hunt for me whenever I drove the two-and-a-half hours from Yakima to Seattle, where I would then run around Tower Records grabbing up whatever I could find by the bands on my list like a kid in the proverbial candy store. I ended up with several Cindytalk LPs, but I don't have those now. Gordon Sharp's work there didn't really do much for me, but his vocals on the first This Mortal Coil LP, and on "Kangaroo" in particular, are stunning. This Mortal Coil opened up a new world of music for this effeminate, dreamy-eyed teen who was stuck in a dusty Central Washington apple-farming town, and who's favorite music at the time was by Sheena Easton and Dead or Alive.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dance Chapter

Artist: Dance Chapter
LP: Chapter II
Song: "Attitudes"
[ listen ]

Inexplicably drawn directly to the 'D' section of the used LPs at Everyday Music last week, I was delighted to find this 1981 Dance Chapter 4-track EP tucked into the bins. It was the first time I'd ever laid eyes, let alone hands, on a copy since I started collecting 4AD records after This Mortal Coil's "It'll End In Tears" LP mesmerized me at Budget Tapes and Records in Yakima, WA back in 1986. The Dance Chapter page on the 4AD website says they were signed with the idea of helping to fill the void left by the death of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis.

[ Dance Chapter ]

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Alma Cogan

Artist: Alma Cogan
LP: Alma Cogan
Song: "Tennessee Waltz"
[ listen ]
Song: "Ba-Ba Song"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Birds and the Bees"
[ listen ]

Alma Cogan used to post terrific mix tapes on the Art of the Mix website pretty frequently, but I had no idea this is what he looked like...and I certainly didn't know he'd been such a musical sensation in the British motherland in the 1950s! According to Wikipedia contributors, Alma enjoyed singing in lots of different languages, and on this particular collection he enjoys singing mostly in German.

[ Alma Cogan: May 19, 1932 — October 26, 1966 ]

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Artist: B-Movie
LP: 12" single
Song: "A Letter From Afar" 
[ listen ]

Holy heatwave—it's sweltering in Seattle today! I'm as hot as an '80s new wave British band stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert with a broke-down Chrysler.

[ B-Movie: Hot ]

Friday, August 12, 2016

Rose Murphy

Artist: Rose Murphy
7" EP: The "Chi-Chi" Girl - Rose Murphy Sings
Song: "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" 
[ listen ]

The older I get the more I find I need a little "Chi-Chi" when I get home from work on Friday nights. Rose "Chi-Chi Girl" Murphy earned her nickname due to her habit of sneaking the phrase "chi-chi" into the middle of many of her numbers. She even gets a few in here on this 7" EP from 1953. Married four times, Murphy's last husband was businessman "Pretty Eddie Murphy" (not to be confused with the ugly one, I suppose), who had once been married to Ethel Waters. You can read more about "The Girl With the Pale Pink Voice," aka. Rose "Chi-Chi" Murphy here.

[ Rose Murphy: April 28, 1913 — November 16, 1989 ]

Monday, August 8, 2016

8 + 8 = 16

It's my birthday! Figured I'd go ahead and take advantage of the 8/8/16 thing for my birthday mix-tape title. The next time I'll have numbers like this to play with is on 8/8/64, when I'm turning 95. 

side one:
01. I Was Not Born to Follow - The Lemon Pipers
02. Vem Cá - Evaldo Braga
03. Morning, Noon and Night - Suzi Lane
04. Mambo Jambo - Randolph Wintgens
05. And Yet the World Still Turns - Cullen Omori
06. Plain Tiger - Cocteau Twins
07. Ovarium - Sebastien Lafleur
08. A Coin On the Tongue - Benoît Pioulard
09. Dear Friend - Ethel Ennis
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Tobacco Road - Bob-a-Rela
02. Trains In the Dark - Liima
03. Return to Nytropolis - Nytro
04. Muscles - Diana Ross
05. London - Benjamin Clementine
06. Mes Illusions - Les Aiglons
07. Hello-a - Mouth & MacNeal 
[ listen ]

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Renato Zero

Artist: Renato Zero
LP: Erozero
Song: "Fermo Posta" 
[ listen ]

This morning I had breakfast in Bothell with my friends David and Yvonne. We'd met for breakfast before at the charming Kozy Korner Cafe, but, sadly, that place wasn't really an option this time around... we went to Alexa's Cafe up the street instead. Though I'd fantasized about going record shopping in Kirkland after breakfast, turns out Vortex Music and Movies doesn't open until 11am, and it was only 10. (Plus, I'd left my Vortex 20%-off coupon on the counter at home.) Still, en route to my apartment, my Ford Escort somehow managed to steer me toward another record store I'd never been to before—Beats and Bohos in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Filled with vintage furniture and clothing and featuring stacks of vinyl in the center of the room, it reminded me of lots of stores I'd been to in the '80s and '90s that you just don't see around much any more—like Grunts & Postures in Salt Lake City, and some other great little shop that a guy had started in downtown Provo, Utah when I first went to school there in 1987.

Anyway, the guy working the counter at Beats and Bohos (the owner, I think) was friendly enough and offered to play samples from interesting-looking records I'd never heard before, including this 1979 Italian dilly by Renato Zero. As a cross-dressing youngster, Renato was harassed with taunts of "Sei uno zero!" ("You're a zero!") so he changed his name and became famous. He's the only musical artist in Italy to have had #1 hits in each of the past five decades! You can read more about Renato Zero here, and I've included Italian liner notes, song lyrics and photos (yes, that's right. They're Italian photos) below.

[ Renato Zero ]

[ Beats and Bohos — Seattle, Washington ]

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Ink Spots

Artist: The Ink Spots
LP: The Ink Spots - Vol. 2
Song: "Paper Doll" 
[ listen ]

This old Ink Spots LP is one of the ones that survived The Great Ballard Apartment Flood of 2003. Fortunately, the album cover features a bunch of unsightly ink splotches all over it, so a little water damage just blends right in. The Ink Spots had a string of wonderful hits throughout the 1940s, like "Address Unknown" (actually 1939), "Maybe" (1940), "Do I Worry?" (1941) and "The Gypsy" (1946). But unfortunately, they're one of those bands where, when they split up in the mid-1950s, the two groups that splintered off started fighting and both called themselves The Ink Spots. Then things got really confusing. Both of those groups each told two friends, and then all of those groups told two friends, and so on and so forth. Anyway, over the past 60 years there have been over 100 different groups that have named themselves The Ink Spots. In 1967, a judge finally threw up his hands and declared The Ink Spots group name to be 'public domain,' meaning anyone could then use it without legal penalty. Why, now even YOU could start a group called The Ink Spots. You can read more about the groovy original hit-makers known as The Ink Spots and their many lineup changes on Wikipedia here. There's a nifty early music video of the group performing their very first hit, "If I Didn't Care" from 1939, at the link below.

The Ink Spots on YouTube:

[ The Ink Spots ]

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Many Modes of Melba Moore #1

Artist: Melba Moore
LP: 7" single
Song: "Read My Lips" 
[ listen ]

Photographed in the same Sears studio she rented for Kashif the following year, Melba maneuvers herself into Vanity mode with a touch of sexy adult policewoman Halloween costume for the cover of "Read My Lips." This release once again fell short of entering the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #104 in the "bubbling under" section of that chart in 1985. But on the Billboard Hot R&B singles chart the song went all the way to #12. Read my lips: n-u-m-b-e-r t-w-e-l-v-e. 

You can find lots of info about Melba Moore on Wikipedia here, go here to peruse her Billboard R&B singles chart history, and visit the official website for the talented and incredibly stylistically diverse Melba Moore here. To purchase a Melba Moore t-shirt or sweatshirt featuring "Read My Lips" artwork, just visit her website and click 'Online Store.'

[ Melba Moore ]

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Many Modes of Melba Moore #2

Artist: Melba Moore
LP: 7" single
Song: "Love Me Right" 
[ listen ]

Melba More deserves some right kind of loving, especially when she's in Nancy "The Facts of Life" McKeon mode, with a dose of Sheena "Sugar Walls" Easton and a dash of mid-'80s Melissa Manchester on the side. "Love Me Right" made it to #15 on the Billboard Hot R&B singles chart in the summer of 1984.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Many Modes of Melba Moore #3

Artist: Melba Moore & Kashif
LP: 7" single
Song: "Love the One I'm With (A Lot of Love)" 
[ listen ]

In Von Trapp Family Singers mode, we find Melba modeling an outfit that has obviously been crafted from a set of heavy living room drapes. "Love the One I'm With (A Lot of Love)," which went to #5 on the Billboard Hot R&B singles chart in 1986, brings this movie to mind when I stare at its cover. Melba certainly hasn't shown Kashif "A Lot of Love" here...and he's not even the one she's with! I don't understand why Melba didn't invite Kashif to join her at the more lavish photo-shoot with the fancy backdrop. It looks like his picture was taken at Sears.

[ Kashif: Boy on the Side ]

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Many Modes of Melba Moore #4

Artist: Melba Moore
LP: 7" single
Song: "Livin' For Your Love" 
[ listen ]

Melba does not seem to be in the best of modes here—meekly modeling a sort of Prince/Michael Jackson mishmash, with shoulder pads stolen from Mildred Pierce. Peaking at #108, "Livin' For Your Love" didn't quite crack into the Billboard Hot 100, but the song did provide Ms. Moore with her second top ten hit on the Billboard Hot R&B singles charts, sailing all the way up to #6 in the spring of 1984.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Many Modes of Melba Moore #5

Artist: Melba Moore
LP: 7" single
Song: "I'm Not Gonna Let You Go" 
[ listen ]

Melba operates smoothly in Sade mode for the sleeve of her "I'm Not Gonna Let You Go" single, which spent 10 weeks on the Billboard R&B singles charts in the summer of 1987, peaking at #26. But the longer I look at the cover the more I'm seeing shades of Sheila E. It could be the eyeliner, perhaps the dangling diamond earring, or maybe it's the glove and silky sleeve, or the set of drums peeking out from the shadows in the background. In any case, Sade + Sheila E. basically equals '80s Lady R&B Frankenstein, if you ask me. And I mean that as a good thing.