Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rose Maddox

Artist: Rose Maddox
LP: A Big Bouquet of Rose's!
Song: "Early In the Morning"
[ listen ]
Song: "Just One More Time"
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Song: "There's Better Times a Comin'"
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It was Rose Maddox bonanza day at Golden Oldies in Tacoma last Saturday! I found no fewer than three of her albums there, both with and without her brothers. (Of course I also found no more than three. In fact, I found precisely three Rose Maddox albums on Saturday. I wish I'd found four.) Emmylou Harris and I both feel that Rose has never really been set in her proper high place in the vast country sky studded with shining musical stars both past and present. Rose hasn't received proper recognition as an actress either. Admittedly, I don't actually remember her as Woody "Big Boy" Harrelson's grandmother in Stephen Frears' THE HI-LO COUNTRY (1998), but I'm sure she deserved a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination at the very least. I'll be using Ms. Maddox as an excuse to re-watch THE HI-LO COUNTRY this weekend, but I probably won't be bothered by having to see a 1990s Billy Crudup cowpoke galloping around on my TV screen again.

[ Rose Maddox: August 15, 1925 — April 15, 1998 ]

Monday, August 29, 2016


Artist: Belly
EP: Slow Dust
Song: "Low Red Moon"
[ listen ]

A few months ago I became awfully excited when I saw that Belly would be appearing at The Crocodile here in Seattle. I went to the venue's website to buy a ticket but then discovered that this is the artist I would be going to see. I felt silly. The Belly I wanted to see had disbanded 20 years ago. How had I been so easily fooled into thinking they were suddenly back together and playing a show in Seattle?

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, when my friend Adrien told me over a vegan breakfast that Belly had gotten back together again and they would be playing a show in Seattle! He said they would be appearing at The Neptune at the end of the month! Now I hadn't been out to see a musical performance in nearly four years, but I figured I had to go. If Belly could come out of retirement, then so could I. 

I first encountered Belly when I came across their 4-track "Slow Dust" EP on CD at an alternative/indie record shop in Orem, Utah back in 1992. Still collecting all things 4AD at the time, I snapped it up and took it home, eager to hear the music behind this deliriously colorful cover. Here's the artwork from the CD, which has a slightly different layout than my vinyl copy, pictured above.

I hadn't yet heard that Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and The Breeders had left both of those groups to focus on writing and performing her own songs in a new band she'd started called Belly. (It takes a while for this sort of news to reach Orem, Utah.) But once I realized who was in the Belly, I was an instant fan. The music is so dreamy and delicious.

Fast forward 24 years and there I was last Thursday morning on something they're calling "the internet," purchasing my ticket to see the better Belly performing in Seattle! I was actually able to see the group perform from afar once—in the mid-1990s at an overcrowded warehouse venue filled with a motley throng of dim-witted Green Day enthusiasts. But the last time I'd been in close proximity to a Tanya Donelly performance was in Salt Lake City back in 1991, when I took my shitty and entirely unreliable camera to a Throwing Muses show on the front lawn of the University of Utah. The group was touring on the heels of the release of "The Real Ramona," the last LP Tanya recorded as a member of the band. I only got one good photo of the show (well, two actually...but one was just of Tanya's shoes. My flash didn't go off for the others, so all I ended up with was a photo set of handsome silhouettes). But the one picture that did turn out is this one of Ms. Donelly. 

I waited around after the show in hopes of mingling with The Muses, and I got someone to take a photo of me with Tanya. Have I mentioned that my camera was a steaming piece of crap?

I've lightened the image with Photoshop, but it's still not entirely clear that I'm with Tanya Donelly. Let's face it, that could just as well be Suzanne Somers or even Carol Channing from what we're able to see here. Anyway, I remember asking her if she'd written "Giant" (I knew she had), after which I confided that it was my favorite song by Throwing Muses.

Okay, fast forward again—25 years this time. I arrived way too early at The Neptune last night, so I ended up front and center with some free local-arts reading material I'd picked up to keep me occupied until the performance began. Fortunately I've since replaced my horrible camera with a multi-purpose telephone, so I've interspersed the artwork images from the back of Belly's debut EP with my photos from last night's show. Tanya and her Belly were fantastic. Down-to-earth, glittery dynamite. You can read more about Belly here, go here to visit their website, and here's more information about Belly bandleader Tanya Donelly.

[ Belly, circa 1995 ]

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
EP: 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"
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Song: "Ba-Ba Song"
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Song: "The Birds and the Bees"
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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... 

...so 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 ]