Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm flying through space, I'm an asteroid (The Swingers) #394 - 395

The Swingers One Good Reason/ All Over Town (Ripper Records, RIP 002, 1980)
The Swingers Counting The Beat/ One Good Reason (Ripper Records, RIP 012, 1981)

Three posts in a row on kiwi rock! Nice.

Phil Judd is an interesting character to say the least. He was a founding member of NZ's favourite sons - Split Ends/Enz but finally left in 1978 after 6 years.

The Swingers existed for even less time, from 1979 to 1983. Life since then has been lived in Australia where he got into strife with the law in the late 2000s. A problematic private life has also been mixed in with infrequent musical adventures.

These two singles, however, contain his most poptastic work without a doubt. Weirdly (sensing a theme yet) they came about after Phil flirted with two of NZ's seminal punk bands - The Suburban Reptiles and The Enemy (with Chris Knox).

The man could write a catchy chorus that's fer sure. Gimmie one good reason not to love these singles or 5 6 7 8 9.

Hidden gems: The B side version of One Good Reason is a re-recorded one; I prefer the original spark on the earlier one. All Over Town is another ace slice of kiwi pop from Phil.

Friday, March 27, 2015

That was another place and another time (Suzanne) #392 - 393

Suzanne Sunshine Through A Prism/ Willie And Laura May Jones (Polydor, 2069 020, 1972)
Suzanne You Really Got A Hold On Me/ You Could Be Right This Time (Ring O'Records, 2017 111, 1978)

Suzanne may lust have given Adele the idea - just the first name love, that's all you need.

In this case Suzanne is Suzanne Donaldson (later Lynch) so you can see why she went with the first name only.

Suzanne started her New Zealand show biz career with her sister Judy in The Chicks but in 1969 she went solo and had loads of local success before working with Cat Stevens in the UK as a backup vocalist.

Sunshine came from Shade Smith - you'll remember him from my entries on The Rumour. He wrote some great tunes and Sunshine is one of them.

Suzanne's rendition of the Smokey Robinson song has a couple of Fabs connections. It was of course covered by The Beatles and Ring O'Records was Ringo Starr's brief record company from 1975 to 1978. This single was one of only 17 singles released by the label. 

Hidden gems: Suzanne didn't write her own material (are you listening Zuni?) so she chose songs from others. These two B sides aren't clever choices from my p.o.v. (whaddaIknow right?). Let's just say Tony Joe White and someone calling themselves Cerney are probably hard sells for a Nu Zild girl. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

I feel so bad, I feel like leaving the country (Streettalk) #390-391

Streettalk Leaving The Country/ Falling To Pieces (Asylum, Z 10007, 1978)
Streettalk She's Done It Again/ Long Night Blues (WEA, Z 10021, 1980)

I first heard Streettalk on Radio Hauraki in the mid seventies. Barry Jenkins, a.k.a. Dr Rock, played a recording of Hammond Gamble and the boys playing a wonderful live in Albert Park version of Crossroads. A new guitar hero had arrived.

American whiz kids Chris Hillman (yes - that Chris Hillman) and then Kim Fowley (okay - no longer kids) knew quality when they heard it. They got involved - Chris did the first single - Leaving The CountryKim produced the first album, and then finally a sympatico Nu Zilder, Bruce Lynch, gave the boys a more honest sound on the second album - Battleground Of Fun.

Unfortunately, early on, that wonderful raw guitar sound of Hammonds never quite made it to vinyl as producers produced and knocked the edges off the band. Having said that I still love these singles (and Battleground Of Fun).

Leaving The Country rips into things in a patented Streettalk way with guitars to the fore.

Mike Caen's She's Done It Again is at the poppy end of the Streettalk spectrum. It's a better production - more in yer face and it drives onwards but not a kiwi classic by any stretch.

Both A sides were single only releases, although Leaving The Country eventually found a home in a rerecorded version on BOF.

Hidden gems: Both B sides are rarities in that they never made any of the albums, Hammond later included Long Night Blues on a live album.

Falling To Pieces is okay but 'gem' would be stretching things.

Long Night Blues is much better - Hammond gives it some welly and the song is much better for it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

We didn't have much idea of the kind of climate waiting (The Stranglers) #388 - 389

The Stranglers Nice 'N' Sleazy/ Shut Up (United Artists, K 7123, 1978)
The Stranglers Skin Deep/ Here And There (Epic, ES 1006, 1984)

Guilty pleasure? The Stranglers fit the bill. 

Nice 'N' Sleazy is almost a manifesto for the band who were often accused of sexism amongst other things (live versions of N'N'S often used strippers to make some sort of point).

Again, it's the stabbing guitars that I love here and the barking mad Moog solo. Remember this is in the aftermath of punk!

By 1984 the band had gone through a few musical changes; the mid tempo hit Skin Deep (like Golden Brown) could not have happened in the early Get A Grip days. At the time it secured a lot of airtime and made the top 20 in New Zealand.

Hidden gems:  Not really times two - Shut Up is a punk thrash which quite rightly didn't appear on the parent album (Black and White).

Here And Now is also rare in that it didn't appear on the parent album (Aural Sculpture) but has turned up as a (dubious) bonus track since then.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

You feel my flow, and you flood my brain (The Stone Roses) #387

The Stone Roses One Love/ Something's Burning (Silvertone 12", ORE T 17, 1990)

I first heard The Stone Roses at Roger Marbeck's house. While waiting for dinner one night, the song I Am The Resurrection came on via Rog's stereo system and completely blew me away.

I hadn't heard guitars like that and outlandish sentiments like that for ages.

I fell hard for the band and, like millions, bought and loved the wonderful first album - The Stone Roses. I was still a fan by the time the wonderful second album, Second Coming, came out (it's fashionable NOT to like it but I love those guitars).

One Love is on neither album - it's a stand alone single, although it's ended up on various compilations since. For me, it forms a great bridge between the breezy first album and the blues rock of the second. The song has a great groove and vibe; deserved to be a hit when it came out.

The 12 inch has the 7 plus minute stretched out version which I prefer.

Hidden gem: The B side was also a non album track and has also ended up on compilations like Turn To Stone

Like One Love, it's lengthy with that same dreamy stardust vibe from the period between the two albums.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Son, it's exams that count not football teams (Stiff Little Fingers) #385 - 386

Stiff Little Fingers At The Edge/ Running Bear, White Christmas (Chrysalis, K 7835, 1980)
Stiff Little Fingers Listen, Sad Eyed People/ That's When Your Blood Bumps, Two Guitars Clash (Chrysalis 12", X 13080, 1982)

I had a thing for SLF back in the late seventies, early eighties. Their refreshing approach was pop punk with huge energy, a social conscience (without the sneer), stabbing/riffing guitars, and bags of honesty.

At The Edge is a great example - teenage angst from an Oirish perspective. Jake Burns sells the song with some excellent vocals.

By 1982 the band had moved more onto the pop continuum with this EP (also known as  £1.10 or Less). Listen has some great football chant style moments but it's not a hit single. Sad Eyed People is in the same vein (without the football chant style moments).

The band continue to perform to this day and all power to them and Jake Burns (the only constant member throughout their history)!

Hidden gems: Their punk thrash drunken rave up through Running Bear/White Christmas is raw, rough and very endearing. Yep - a couple of gems.

...Blood Bumps has a cool looping reggae style (which I'm a sucker for), but it's Two Guitars Clash, driven along by some great bass guitar and a fab chorus that gets my blood really bumping (and the reason I never sold off this single).

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Every golden nugget coming like a gift of the gods (Jim Steinman) #384

Jim Steinman Storm/ Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through (Epic, EX 7524, 1981)

Jim is, of course, the genius behind Meatloaf's greatest moments (Bat Out Of Hell and Deadringer -those are all Jim's songs).

The follow up to the mega successful Bat was put on hold because of Meatloaf's health issues. Jim decided to record the songs himself and they were released as Bad For Good. A terrific album!

This single was actually part of the Bad For Good package. That explains why Storm is the A side. It's a prologue for the album - as such it kind of sets the epic scene (btw - how appropriate that this comes out on the Epic label!!).

Epic because it's a full on Wagnerian rip tear bust instrumental!

Hidden gem: The B side went on to become a hit for Meatloaf. Here it is intended to be the epilogue to the album. It works too. Jim's rock and roll dreams had really come through and this was another crafty pop song from the maestro.

The theatricality is superbly recreated in this barking mad video. Overblown with nothing left to the imagination (the guitar as phallic symbol? Check!). Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

In the land of milk and honey (Steely Dan) #383

Steely Dan Do It Again/ Fire In The Hole (Probe, PROBE 51, 1972)

Isn't that a great record label. I loved the Probe label with those arrows in the O and the beautiful pastel pinky purple. The small print under the Probe is spot on too: A great name from ABC/Dunhill records, USA.

Cool! We're great - we've thought of a great name and we'll tell you it's great in case you missed it.

So Steely Dan!!

Do It Again was my introduction to the Dan. What a great loping beat and the enigmatic lyrics:

In the mornin' you go gunnin' for the man who stole your water
And you fire 'til he is done in but they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all signin' as they drag you by your feet
But the hangman isn't hangin' and they put you on the street.

Whaaat? That leaves a lot to the imagination - exactly as I like it!
Donald Fagen's laconic delivery also makes the song special. In 1972 no one was doing stuff like Steely Dan. An electric sitar solo? Only SD.

Hidden gems: Is there actually a bad Steely Dan song out there? Anywhere? The B side, a track off Can't Buy A Thrill is as superb as the A side. Class, pure class!