Thursday, May 31, 2018

M

Artist: M
LP: 7" single
Song: "Official Secrets"
[ listen ]

A genuine one-hit-wonder in the USA, M was the talk of the town when "Pop Muzik" zinged all the way to #1 in 1979. But none of M's other singles even cracked the Top 100. "Official Secrets," released a year later, crept its way to #64 on the singles charts in the UK, where M comes from. You can read more about all that here. I shut my eyes and randomly plucked this one from my singles bins for posting this evening.

[ M — aka. Robin Scott ]

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Diamond Reo

Artist: Diamond Reo
LP: Diamond Reo
Song: "Rock and Roll Till I Die"
[ listen
Song: "Ain't That Peculiar"
[ listen ]
Song: "I'm Movin' On"
[ listen ]

Here's some good old fashioned 1970s American rock and roll from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (I found this 1975 Diamond Reo debut LP a few months ago at Vortex Music & Movies in Kirkland, WA, which is probably the least rock-and-roll city in my county, not counting Medina and Yarrow Point.) Diamond Reo doesn't have a page on Wikipedia (but the Christian country music group Diamond Rio certainly does) so I had to scrounge around online a bit to find out who these fellas are. The first thing folks need to understand is that Diamond Reo are in no way related to Reo Speedwagon, since they are, of course, a wagon, whereas Diamond Reo are a truck

From what I can gather, Diamond Reo formed from the ashes of late-'60s blue-eyed soul band The Igniters, which featured future Reo members Frank Czuri and Bob McKeag. The Igniters were briefly signed to Atlantic Records and had a semi-hit single in the late '60s on the local Pittsburgh airwaves. In the early '70s, Frank and Bob were joined by drummer Robbie Johns and bassist Norm Nardini and Diamond Reo was born. Warren King is credited as playing lead and slide guitar on their debut LP, but he doesn't seem to have been an official member of the group when the record was released. My guess is that he joined soon after, replacing Bob McKeag who had gone on to pursue a solo career. (Warren is the blonde on the left in the black and white band photo at the end of the post.) Diamond Reo produced some snappy, straight-forward rock and roll, touring with the likes of KISS, Aerosmith, Frank Zappa, Blue Oyster Cult and Canned Heat. They released three LPs.

Anyway, as I gazed upon the members of Diamond Reo on the cover of my record, I couldn't help but daydream which of them I would have wanted to take me to prom if I had been of prom-going age in 1975 and if all four of them had been interested in spending a romantic evening with me. They're all pretty glamorous in their own way, you must admit. But I've made my decisions—based on a combination of factors, including hairstyle, wardrobe, facial expression, ability to accessorize, and footwear. My rankings are included below.

[ #4: Frank Czuri ]

I think Frank is probably one of those people who's actually a lot more 
attractive in person. Here he looks kinda' like the mom that always 
shows up to the PTA meetings either drunk or with a really 
bad hangover. Plus, you can't see his shoes.

[ #3: Rob Johns ]

It takes both daring and finesse to attempt the wearing of a plastic pink sport coat.
But not only does Rob pull it off swimmingly, he even tosses in
a pair of knee-high black leather boots...to boot!

[ #2: Bob McKeag ]

The shades, the 'stache, the hairy chest (subtly exposed), the semi-casual 
ketchup-colored aerobic-instructor evening wear featuring sour-cream piping, 
button-down pockets and a braided belt. There's really nothing more that 
needs to be said about Rob. Except maybe "holy cow," and "Yes!"

[ #1: Norm Nardini ]
 
  It's always exciting when, after you've initially dismissed some handsome 
fellow as a boring, macho, bro-dude type, you suddenly notice there's 
something a little peculiar going on. There's a strange sort 
of sheen to his pants. Is that black silk? And Dude! 
You're wearing jungle-red heels, paired 
with sparkly metallic socks of gold! 
You sexy devil, you. 
Take me to prom!

[ Diamond Reo ]

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lea Laven

Artist: Lea Laven
LP: Chanson Laven
Song: "Kesämieli"
[ listen
Song: "Ei Syytä Huoleen"
[ listen ]

Here's a bit of Scandi-disco from Finnish pop princess Lea Laven. Born June 19, 1948 in Haukipudas, on the Northwestern Finnish coast. Lea worked in Swedish hotels and nursing homes before the northern wind set her vocal chords a-fluttering, sending her sailing to stardom on a cloud of snowy white. As she shot her way to fame, she worked a desk day job at the Helsinki office of EMI-Columbia Records. You can read more about Lea Laven's life and career in Finnish here or in English here. This is one of the things I picked up at Green Grass Records last year on my trip to Helsinki.

 [ Lea Laven ]

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Past Seven Days

Artist: The Past Seven Days
LP: 7" single
Song: "Raindance"
[ listen ]

As I've probably mentioned before, in 1986, after first hearing This Mortal Coil's "It'll End In Tears" LP, released in 1984 and featuring a bunch of musicians recording on 4AD at the time, I became obsessed with the label and its music and began collecting every 4AD release I could get my hands on. Their 1987 "Lonely Is An Eyesore" compilation LP included a list of all label releases up to that point, indicating which ones had already gone out of print.

I've found quite a few of them over the years, even some of the hard-to-find out-of-print ones from 1980 and 1981, when the label was first getting started. It's always exciting to be thumbing through a bin of 45s when my eyes, like lasers, suddenly zero in on a rare 4AD release that they've never gazed upon before! 

But after over 30 years of hunting and collecting, there are still about 20 out-of-print 4AD releases from 1980-1983 that I've simply never come across in all my rummaging. So I've decided to employ the miracle of the internet to obtain copies of these missing pieces, one by one, from around the world and have them delivered to my doorstep. I am determined to complete my 1980-1988 4AD vinyl collection before being placed, contently, in my grave. 

This 1981 single by The Past Seven Days (not to be confused with the current Seven Days) was the first of the 4AD rarities to arrive. It had evidently been lurking in the dusty bins at Yesterday and Today Records in Olney, Maryland (I assume dusty based on their web design.) The copy arrived in great shape and plays just fine on my real turntable, but the needle got stuck twice on the rinky-dink USB turntable I use to make a digital copy, so when that happened I had to give a bit of a nudge. On the bright side, it made the song last longer.

The Past Seven Days never made any other records, and their All Music biography says it's uncertain who was even actually in the group. But as we can all tell from reading below, it was Trevor Dooley, Colin Gaynor, John Hanlon, and Max...with remix duties handled by Kevin Bacon!


[ The Past Seven Days ]

Sunday, April 15, 2018

7th Wonder

Artist: 7th Wonder
LP: Thunder
Song: "The Tilt"
[ listen ]

A friend and colleague from work left on vacation to the Middle East this week. She'll be stopping by Egypt to see The Great Pyramid of Giza—the only one of The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World still in existence today! According to Wikipedia, The Great Giza Pyramid is actually Ancient Wonder #2 though, and not the 7th one as this 1980 funk LP would have us believe. 

With all the other six Wonders wiped off the face of the planet (earthquakes, you know), it makes sense from a tourism standpoint to assemble a new list of Wonders that people can actually still visit to buy t-shirts, key chains, and other souvenirs. In November of 2006, USA Today and Good Morning America did just that, unveiling a revised list of Seven Wonders selected by a panel of six judges, with an Eighth Wonder tacked on a while later based on viewer feedback. Inspired, I've thrown together my own list of things that make me Wonder. The group photo from the back of this LP ended up at number five.

[ 7th Wonder ]

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Tin Tin

Artist: Tin Tin
LP: 12" single
Song: "Hold It"
[ listen ]

Stephen Duffy evidently only released two singles (and no LPs) with his group Tin Tin, and "Hold It" was one of them. It went to #55 on the charts in England in 1983, when Duffy was just 23 years old. (The other Tin Tin single was "Kiss Me," which, according to my sources, was released no fewer than four times! But it was released no more than four times either. In fact, it was released four times. One of those, in 1985, actually produced a top ten hit.) Mr. Duffy recorded under a number of other names too—Holy Tin Tin, Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy, Duffy, The Subterranean Hawks, The Hawks, Obviously Five Believers, The Lilac Time, Dr. Calculus, Me Me Me, The Devils—and was one of the founding members of Duran Duran, but he left the group in 1979, just before they became famous.
 
[ Tin Tin ]

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Juliette Greco

Artist: Juliette Gréco
LP: No. 7 [10" EP]
Song: "On N'oublie Rien"
[ listen ]

I was excited to find this 1960 Juliette Gréco 10" EP at Georgetown Records a few weeks ago. The only downside, really, is that it's called "No. 7," which seems to indicate that there's probably a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 that I still don't have in my collection. You can read about the fabulous Ms. Grego, who turned 91 earlier this year, on Wikipedia here and go here to read a career retrospective assembled by The Guardian on the occasion of her 90th birthday.  

[ Juliette Gréco ]

Monday, April 9, 2018

#18 - El Violoncello

Have you ever heard the one about the dusty old El Violoncello up for auction where the guy selling it says something like, "Anyone want it for a buck?" But nobody wants to bid anything for it since it looks so worthless. Then an old man with grey hair (probably messy) from the back of the room silently rises and makes his way to the stage (these were the days before heightened security at auctions). He picks up the old and battered El Violoncello, blows the dust off, and plays something amazing that sounds like angles. Suddenly everyone in the place is weeping and falling over themselves to whip out their checkbooks to pay a million dollars for the thing. I know it's a parable for homeless people or whatever, but I feel like my mix tapes are kinda' like that too. "Who wants this old cassette tape? Anyone?" I call it "The Touch of the Master's Cassette Player." You can read the entire poem here.

side one:
01. You're So Cool - Jonathan Bree
02. Cruel - St. Vincent
03. Slow Hand - Pointer Sisters
04. I.O.I.O. - Bee Gees
05. Bring a Little Sunshine - The Tee Set
06. Everybody's Talking - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
07. The High and the Mighty - Jimmy Smith
08. Window Shades - U.S. Girls
09. Tremolo - Young Fathers
10. Love For Sale - Helmut Zacharias and His Magic Violins
11. I'm Alone - Janos Sarkozi
12. The Wilder Wise - Thumpers
13. Walking With a Killer - The Breeders
14. Grandpa's Waltz - Nino Rota
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Etincelles - Op. 36, No. 6 - Moritz Moszkowski (piano: Daniel Grimwood; violin: Nazrin Rashidova)
02. Violin - Kate Bush
03. Quarterback - Kopecky
04. The One I Love - Blonde Redhead
05. Blue Moovie - Pasquale Dagorn and the Sounds of Love Orchestra
06. Huag Mo Akong Iwanan - Cenon Lagman
07. Csütörtök Este - Imre Magyari and His Gypsy Orchestra
08. Hammer - Tune-Yards
09. Climb to Me - Pattern Is Movement
10. Demolition Man - Grace Jones
11. Tremble (My Girl Doesn't) - The Wolfgang Press
12. Deadly Valentine - Charlotte Gainsbourg
13. Charly - Santabárbara
14. A Starting Point - Dif Juz
[ listen ]

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Lucio Battisti

Artist: Lucio Battisti
LP: 7" single
Song: "Diece Ragazze"
[ listen ]

Here's a slice of spicy Italian for a drab and dreary Seattle Saturday afternoon. If I had choose only one Italian singer I could listen to for the rest of my life (and could borrow coats and ascots from), I think I'd pick the reclusive Mr. Lucio Battisti. (Lucio withdrew from public appearances in 1982, and then became even more reclusive after the autumn of 1998.) If you haven't heard it, I heartily recommend Battisti's 1971 "Amore e Non Amore" LP, released two years after his first top ten hit, "Diece Raggazze," peaked at #3 on the Italian singles charts in 1969. You can read more about the life and career of Lucio Battisti here.

[ Lucio Battisti: March 5, 1943 — September 9, 1998 ]

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Doris Day

Artist: Doris Day
LP: 7" EP
Song: "I'm Gonna Ring the Bell Tonight"
[ listen ]

I'm kinda' sick today, but I still went to work. I'd picked up a cake at Fred Meyer that looked like one of the hats Doris Day might have worn in ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, and I wanted to share it with my co-workers today for Doris' 96th birthday! Even though half of them (in their 20s, you know) have only a vague idea of who Doris Day is. But they got pictures in their email inboxes today, you can rest assured. Anyhow, it was a white cake with lemon filling, small and round like this one, but it was done up with a sort of '50s green frosting with pink highlights, with a pink candy flower in the center. Why didn't I take a picture of it before it was devoured? I do not know. Life is full of regrets. Now I'm heading over to the sofa for a film festival.

[ Happy Birthday, Doris Day! ]

Thursday, March 29, 2018

U.S. Girls

Artist: U.S. Girls
LP: Half Free
Song: "Sororal Feelings"
[ listen ]

Thank the lord for U.S. Girls. It had been a rough Monday at work before I walked up the street that evening to see Meg Remy and her band put on a most invigorating show in the heart of Ballard at the gritty little Sunset Tavern. Meg admittedly looks a little frumpy here on the cover of her 2015 "Half Free" LP, but she was 50 Shades of Cool on the stage Monday night, and plenty glamorous too in her metallic golden half-shirt thing. It was one of the most thrilling shows I've ever seen. And I've seen a dozen. Aside from their fantastic music and alluring stage presence, these are some of the things I liked about the show: 
  • U.S. Girls didn't try to make friends with everyone in the audience by engaging in witty banter before or after their songs. They just, you know, did their songs.
  • They didn't yell "Hello Seattle!" before, during, or after their show to make everybody scream as if we were excited and grateful that they had heard of our city.
  • U.S. Girls didn't say "thank you" when the audience applauded, as if they hadn't expected it and so it moved them emotionally.
  • Meg danced her way through the groovin' sold-out crowd during a funky instrumental stretch in one of the songs. This way we could tell she wasn't aloof or stuck up even though she never talked to us and didn't say "thank you" or grin at us when we clapped.
  • Making her way back up onto the stage from the dance floor, Meg bumped into a microphone stand and nearly knocked it over. This somehow made her seem more...human.
The brand new U.S. Girls LP, "In a Poem Unlimited," is worth checking out too. You can read about U.S. Girls here and go here to visit their website.

[ Meg Remy — U.S. Girls ]