Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tonight is the flight of the butterfly (Paul McCartney) #426

Annie Whittle Lost/ Lets Love (EMI, HR 567, 1977)

I guess Annie Whittle is mainly remembered in NZ for her acting career, including being on the long running soap, Shortland Street.

She has had a long singing career as well and even a greatest hits album to her credit. 

Neither of these songs appear on it - which tells you a story I guess. 

I was never a fan. I don't actually like the style of singing on offer here: the sweeping strings, the emoting, the warble? Tick. Tick. Tick.

Oh dear! All very forgettable I'm afraid.

Hidden gem: Let's Love was written by Paul McCartney and ultimately given to Peggy Lee. She had an album of the same name featuring this track that Macca arranged and produced as well. Clearly his connection is the only reason why I own this single. This version by Annie doesn't have the benefit of Peggy Lee's charisma so...yeah.

Tonight is the flight of the butterfly? Really Paul? Really?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Just look around you, you can set your spirit free (The Weather Girls) #425

The Weather Girls It's Raining Men/ Hope  (CBS 12", BA 12041, 1982)

Hi! We're your Weather Girls and have we got news for you! Better listen!

Comprised of two singers (Izora Armstead and Martha Wash), The Weather Girls seemingly came out of nowhere with this gigantic (one) hit (wonder) in 1982. 

It was a lot of fun in 1982 and it retains its freshness (unlike the video which is an 80's time capsule). 

The Weather Girls kind of continue performing in various guises today - Armstead passed away in 2004 but Wash has kept singing - although as a solo act.

Hidden gem: Hope is actually my favourite track of the two. The A side was the justifiably huge hit but Hope is the real deal soul wise. It builds and builds into a joyous outpouring of optimism. I love it!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Arrr, just me and the dolphins (Waves) #424

Waves Dolphin Song/ Letters (Direction Records, DF 513, 1975)

I adore this song. It instantly takes me back to the mid seventies and life as a teenager in Auckland. Simple days at Mt Albert Grammar, living with my family in Mt Roskill South (Ramelton Road) and wallowing in books and rock music. Very heaven.

Waves were amazing, then and now. This music hasn't aged.

The harmonies are sublime. Spine tingling. Utterly unique. Awesome.

The song twists and turns on a bed of acoustic guitars.

I never tire from listening it. I've replayed the video clip twice just to luxuriate in it again.

Hidden gem: Letters is another distinctively Waves song with inter-meshing acoustic guitars, wonderful harmonies and a trademark meandering style.

Monday, June 15, 2015

I cried for all those Beatle fans (Wall Of Voodoo) #422-423

Wall Of Voodoo Mexican Radio/ Call Of The West (Illegal Records, ES 855, 1982)
Wall Of Voodoo Far Side Of Crazy/ Business Of Love (Epic, ES 1098, 1985)

Wall Of Voodoo, who came raging out of Los Angeles with Mexican Radio, brought a fresh approach that was much needed in the early eighties. 

It doesn't sound like it now but in 1982 the quirkiness of Wall Of Voodoo was a stand out when I saw it on Radio With Pictures

In the early days the band featured Stan Ridgway (he of the weird nervy twitches in the Mexican Radio video). When he went off to have a solo career the band carried on for a few years with a new more mainstream sound and had the second hit with Far Side...

How could I not love this song with its sympathetic references to Lennon's death and the sadness of Beatle fans?

Hidden gems: The weird bass and drum patterns continue on Call Of The West - sounds like the theme to the weirdest Western never made. Business Of Love harks back a little to Stan's style and is never less than interesting.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I try and play it cool (Vertical Hold) #417-421

Vertical Hold My Imagination/ Baby You Send Me (RCA, 103888, 1981)
Vertical Hold Tears Of Emotion/ In Your Life (WEA, 100226, 1982)
Vertical Hold This Must Be Love/ She Comes To Me (WEA, 7-259630, 1983)
Vertical Hold United States Of America/ Teacher Teach Me (WEA, 7-259475, 1983)
Vertical Hold Shot Down (In Love)/ Nite Bite (WEA, 7-259786, 1983)

These are obscure, I grant you. Without being a friend to the drummer, Noel Forth, I never would have found these Australian gems.

Noel started writing to me in the late seventies from Adelaide after discovering that I was a fellow rabid Beatle fan. 

At that time he was in a band called Tortis (see what they did there) with two guys Jim Mountzouris and Mick Michalopoulos. They were terrific - Noel sent me heaps of their rehearsal tapes and I grooved on their Beatle, ELO influenced sounds for a few years.

With the eighties came a name change to Vertical Hold and an album (called Vertical Hold). Because it was the eighties synths and a cello player were added to the trio. Not so sure about the synths guys, even now.

Jim and Mick continued to do all the writing and they have a set of great pop ears. Luckily, some Tortis favs made it onto the Vertical Hold set list.

The picks from this bunch of singles (apart from the first one, all tracks are from the parent album): This Must Be Love with a Caribbean jaunty vibe going on; Tears Of Emotion should have been a worldwide hit single (went to #3 in Adelaide); USA is a Tortis era song with a new punchy arrangement (I still love those early versions as well).

Hidden gems: Baby You Send Me is a great lost Police song - terrific pop in other words; She Comes To Me and Teacher Teach Me are dripping in hooks - probably the catchiest songs on these singles; In You Life is a psychedelic mix of sixties Troggs and seventies ELO - wow baby! Perfect B sides!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Everyone avoids me like a psyched lone ranger (The Vapors) #416

The Vapors Turning Japanese/ Here Comes The Judge (live) (United Artists, UA 9, 1980)

Another one hit wonder, The Vapors took this to the top 10 in New Zealand. Urban myth suggests it's a song about masturbation, whatever - it's a very catchy tune with a quasi oriental vibe going on with the guitar lick.

I remain an unrepentant fan of power pop songs like this.

A UK band from Surrey, The Vapors' (using an American spelling to make it appear they were from the US) legacy is this single and two albums before calling it a day in 1982.

Hidden gem: The B side is an okay bit of fun but pales significantly compared to the A side.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mercy (Roy Orbison) #415

Van Halen Pretty Woman/ Happy Trails (Warner Bros, WBS 50003, 1982)

Great fun is to be had during this rendition of the Roy Orbison classic. Eddie suitably cranks up the guitar histrionics and Alex propels the whole thing forward with his trademark drums.

Just don't throw Van Halen Pretty Woman into youtube and watch the terrible version from 2012 as I did. Yes I hyperlinked it - let's face it - if we're told NOT to push that button Ringo, we're gunna. It's terrible! I warned you.

I still like this original take though.

Hidden gem: The very bizarre rendition of Happy Trails is best described as a piss take and not a very successful one at that.

The video for Pretty Woman was originally banned by MTV for its content (midgets beating up a pretty 'woman') but really it should have been for stupidity, crassness and crapness. Don't watch it! (See above).

Instead I've added Roy's superior original and the studio version from VH. You be the judge!