Friday, September 30, 2011

Dance Chapter

Artist: Dance Chapter
LP: 7" single
Song: "Anonymity"
[ listen ]

In the late 1980s and early '90s I had a large box specifically designated to hold all my 4AD records, with the label's releases arranged in chronological order according to catalog number. This Dance Chapter 7" single, catalog #AD18, was released in December of 1980, the first year of 4AD's existence. It's a good example of the label's early sound, before the popularity of Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, and Clan of Xymox took 4AD in a dreamier, swirlier direction. Read about Dance Chapter on the 4AD website here, and visit Bimble's Windy Weather blog here for more info on the group in the comments section.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Artist: Aneka
LP: 7" single
Song: "Japanese Boy"
[ listen ]

I've been going through my collection of 7" singles over the past few months to clean out a bunch of the riff-raff, and have found some neat things I'd forgotten about along the way. The deliriously danceable "Japanese Boy" by Scottish singer Aneka (aka. Mary Sandeman) went all the way to #1 in the UK in the summer of 1981, but her five subsequent singles didn't catch on, branding her a "one-hit wonder." Unfortunately, she was a no-hit wonder in the USA, yet she did make quite a splash in Austria, where her first three singles all became top ten hits. Click here to read more about Aneka and to find out in which other countries "Japanese Boy" went to the top of the charts. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

American Tears

Artist: American Tears
LP: Tear Gas
Song: "Tear Gas"
[ listen ]

This 1975 American Tears LP, the second of three they released between '74 and '77, is something I picked up at AA Records Are Us in Toledo, Ohio. I bought the record mainly for the guys' hair and outfits, but was pleased to discover that the music was pretty good too (whenever I play "Tear Gas" at work, my colleague asks me if it's Yes. No!). I was also thrilled to find a set of American Tears stickers tucked inside the album, and to actually hear the sound of tear gas being discharged during this song. You can read about American Tears on here, and go here to find out what popular 1987 Cher hit can be partially blamed on lead vocalist Mark Mangold.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ignatius Jones

Artist: Ignatius Jones
LP: 12" single
Song: "Like a Ghost"
[ listen ]

I found this 1982 Ignatius Jones single at RamaLama Records when I was in Toledo at the end of July. It was still sealed so I couldn't play it on the listening station, but with its nifty cover and $2 price tag, I decided to take a chance. Formerly with Australian punk rock cabaret band Jimmy and the Boys and performing in outfits like this, Ignatius has toned down somewhat in recent years. Now he's staging elaborate opening ceremonies events at World Expos and The Olympics while wearing outfits like this. You can read more about Ignatius Jones and his connection to the spectacular "Man From Snowy River" stage musical here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Larry Graham & Trace Adkins

Artist: Larry Graham
LP: 7" single
Song: "One In a Million You"
[ listen ]

My dad got two free tickets to the Trace Adkins concert at the Puyallup Fair last Friday night, so he invited me to come along.

 [ Trace Adkins ]

I'd never heard of Trace Adkins before, so I read a little about him on the internet before driving down to the fairgrounds after work. He was born in the small town of Sarepta, Louisiana in 1962, sang with a gospel group in high school, played college football, then accidentally cut off one of his pinky fingers while working on an oil rig (doctors stuck it back on so he could still play guitar). Trace then took all his fingers to Nashville, where he started playing in honky-tonk bars and became a country music superstar. He's been hitting the country charts pretty regularly since the release of his debut LP "Dreamin' Out Loud" back in 1996.

Trace came across as a friendly, funny, and down-to-earth guy at the show—refreshing to see for someone with thousands of screaming fair-going fans at his feet. He got the concert off to a rollicking start with "Whoop a Man's Ass," then continued with a string of his popular hits, including "Just Fishin'," "Chrome," "This Ain't No Love Song," and "Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk" (!). He also performed his recent top 40 single "Brown Chicken Brown Cow," for which there's a hilariously absurd music video that was shown on the big screen behind him while he sang. (My favorite part comes just after Betty rips off her clothes—a reminder that removing a tad too much can actually diminish your sex appeal.) I began feeling a little self-conscious, since I seemed to be the only one at the show who didn't know any of Trace's hits. But I perked up when he announced that he was about to sing an old Larry Graham song, after which he performed a beautiful and moving rendition of "One In a Million You."

[ Trace Adkins at the Puyallup Fair — September 23, 2011 ]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Double Take

Artist: Double Take
LP: 12" single
Song: "What's a Little Time (...In This Universe)"
[ listen ]

Here's a 1986 "Made In Germany" single I found in my collection from a group called Double Take. I don't know anything about these guys except that they're evidently identical twin brothers, they're probably not New England's Premiere Wedding & Dance Band, and they seem to find themselves so attractive that they think people have to look twice because they just can't believe their eyes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Los Cinco Caballeros

Artist: Los Cinco Caballeros
LP: Latin Hurricane
Song: "Banana"
[ listen ]

Not to be confused with these other cinco caballeros, the musical ones of undisclosed national origin released this "Latin Hurricane" LP, probably sometime in the early 1960s, that up-rooted rock-n-roll addicts and whisked them off to Goodmusicland. And it's on red vinyl! Notes from the back of the LP are included below, and if you like the Caballeros sound, you can pick up the rest of their album's songs on iTunes here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cecilia Valencic w/ The Almars Orchestra

Artist: Cecilia Valencic w/ The Almars Orchestra
LP: Cecilia Sings In Polkatown U.S.A.
Song: "I Won't Get Married"
[ listen ]

This Cecilia Valencic LP is another of the many fine records I picked up at the Polka Hall of Fame in Euclid, Ohio last month. Euclid is located just outside Cleveland—the "Polkatown U.S.A." referred to in the album's title. You can tell it's Cleveland, aka "The Buckle of the American Polka Belt," by the drawing of the city's famous Terminal Tower on the front cover. Though a Cleveland native, Cecilia Valencic is of Slovenian heritage and she's spent much of her lifetime sharing the joy of Slovenian music with anyone and everyone who's willing to listen. Under the name "Cecilia Valencic Dolgan," the talented singer is quoted in this terrific 2010 article about the Polka Museum and Hall of Fame in Euclid, and you can find a recent photo of Cecilia here, from a website where, credited as "Cecilia Dolgan," she's listed as the host of the Circle 2 Super Button Box Bash 29, which took place in April of 2011. Notes and photos from Cecilia's debut Delta International release are included below.

[ Cecilia Valencic w/ The Almars Orchestra and Mr. J. R. Gayer ]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Les Baxter w/ Theremin, Vocal Group, and Orchestra

Artist: Les Baxter w/ Theremin, Vocal Group, and Orchestra
LP: Music Out of the Moon [10" EP]
Song: "Lunar Rhapsody"
[ listen ]

Here's a neat 10" Capitol record from 1950 featuring music unusual from Leslie Baxter (this was before people got to know him and started calling him Les), the father of space-age and exotica music. The arrangements presented here, which tend to play upon the more remote realm of human emotions, showcase a well-staffed string section, a far-out vocal chorus, and the throbbing, vibrant tones of the theremin. You can read about Señor Baxter on the Space Age Pop website here, and the EP liner notes are included below. I don't know about you, but I'm gonna' put "Lunar Rhapsody" on repeat tonight while lying on the couch with a martini and some bonbons, 'cause I've been feeling a little weary of the work-a-day world.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Hardy Boys

Artist: The Hardy Boys
LP: Wheels
Song: "Love Train"
[ listen ]

It's hard to imagine how I lived on planet Earth for 41 years without ever hearing about the late-'60s/early '70s animated Hardy Boys Saturday morning TV show. I just found out about it last year when I stumbled across this related 1970 Hardy Boys LP in the basement of a big antique store up in Bellingham. I read all the Hardy Boys mystery stories when I was in grade school, was obsessed with the late '70s TV show starring Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson, and my older brother and I used to pretend we were Frank and Joe, solving mysteries while being hounded by phantoms in the back yard. I suppose if I were a true fan though, I'd have read about The Hardy Boys on Wikipedia here long ago, where I'd have found out about their Saturday morning show, which you can also read about on IMDB here. I would have learned that the show was the first Saturday morning cartoon to include a black character, and that the program served as a platform to address important issues facing its young audience—like illegal drug use and the wearing of seat belts.

 [ one of the novels that started the Hardy thing. ]

The Hardy Boys musical rock group—who are the supersingers of the in world and the property of Filmation Studios in Hollywood, California—features not only the crime-thwarting Hardy brothers, but also drummer Pete Jones (what about Biff Hooper!?), some gal named Wanda Kay on keyboards (where's Callie Shaw?!), and the Hardys' good friend Chubby Morton (aka Chet Morton in the books) on sax. I'm pretty sure Aunt Gertrude joins in from time to time to add backing vocals or a little tambourine.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Frankie Avalon

Artist: Frankie Avalon
LP: Summer Scene
Song: "Summer Scene"
[ listen ]

The last and final record store I went to in Ohio was Magnolia Thunderpussy. Several people in Columbus had recommended it, but I think they were mostly just excited to say the name of the place out loud. They had lots of used CDs, DVDs, and new vinyl, but there wasn't much used vinyl to be found compared to other stores I'd visited. The only other thing I picked up besides this 1959 Frankie Avalon record was a Victor Buono comedy LP called "Heavy," on which he makes lots of jokes about being fat. Frankie Avalon, the ideal buddy-buddy and wonderful dream-guy next door, really lets his (leg) hair down on this collection of musical summertime ditties. Someone stole the full details of the "Win a date with Frankie" contest out of my copy of the record, but I don't usually date guys with ugly feet anyhow—and Frankie's feet must be ugly or they wouldn't have had to stick a fake beach ball on the front of the album to cover them up. You can read about the life and career of the talented teen trumpeter-actor-singer Frankie Avalon on Wikipedia here and see another sexy picture of him here. Liner notes from the album's paper insert are included below. 

 [ Magnolia Thunderpussy — Columbus, OH ]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Leslie McKeown

Artist: Leslie McKeown
LP: 7" single
Song: "Shall I Do It (One More Number One)"
[ listen ]

About a block away from Used Kids Records in Columbus I found Johnny Go's House O' Music, a messy little store that feels more like a pawn shop than a record store (lots of beat-up LP covers and bent 7" picture sleeves, for one thing). But, just like in a pawn shop, I figured if I dug around long enough I'd probably find something interesting. One of the few things I found at Johnny Go's is this 1979 German-made single from Leslie McKeown, former lead vocalist for The Bay City Rollers. I just now learned that Les also contributed backing vocals to one the most influential albums of my youth—"Filigree & Shadow" by This Mortal Coil. You can read about the life and career of Leslie McKeown on Wikipedia here, and if you want to read about McKeown's shocking 2009 televised confession that he'd been living a secret gay life for the past 30 years, you can do so here. All I can say is that anyone who's ever laid eyes on the "Shall I Do It" picture sleeve and was still somehow shocked by McKeown's revelation, well...duh. They've really only got themselves to blame.

 [ Leslie McKeown, secretly gay. ]

 [ Leslie McKeown (right) in Hawaii in 1978, with no secrets at all. ]

 [ Johnny Go's House O' Music — Columbus, OH]