Friday, May 24, 2013
Thanks to this blog, Mrs. LTL!'s hatred of all things Green Gartside has become the stuff of legend. My apologies to her for that, but since she's out of town again today, I'm not going to waste this chance to get my Scritti Politti fix. Let's get in the wayback machine and set it to 1988.
Three long years had passed since the smash 'Cupid & Psyche '85.' Maybe fickle pop fans grew tired of waiting forever for a followup. Perhaps we had moved on to the next new sound. My theory, however, is 'Provision' just plain wasn't as good as the band's previous work. At any rate, Scritti Politti had one very successful UK single from the album, "Oh Patti (Don't Feel Sorry for Loverboy)." Here in America, there wouldn't be another "Perfect Way," but today's pick, the third and final single from the album, peaked at a modest No. 53.
After the 7" and 12" singles of "Boom! There She Was," I wouldn't own another new piece of music by Scritti Politti until "The Boom Boom Bap" single captured my heart in 2006. Oh, and after just completing the vinyl transfer of these four versions consecutively (that's more than 25 straight minutes of "Boom! There She Was," folks), I'm beginning to think the Mrs. might be on to something. I really liked the song at the time, but it hasn't aged well. Tonight, the keyboards are reminding me of the "Beverly Hills Cop" soundtrack. In case you were wondering who the "Roger" refers to on the cover above, that's the late funk/hip-hop artist Roger Troutman. He's the one providing the talk-box vocals. If you don't have the time or patience for all of these, I would recommend the extended single.
Scritti Politti - Boom! There She Was (Sonic Property Mix) (mp3)
Scritti Politti - Boom! There She Was (Dub) (mp3)
Scritti Politti - Boom! There She Was (7" Single Version) (mp3)
Scritti Politti - Boom! There She Was (Extended Single Version) (mp3)
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Is this a blatant attempt at page views? Whenever I post anything from the English Beat family tree, the number of visitors to this blog triples. I'm the first to admit I have pruned almost every branch from 'Radical Departure,' Ranking Roger's debut solo album from 1988... almost. Here are four versions from the "So Excited" 12". I love this song. If you think it sounds like something from General Public, there's a good reason for it. The song was co-written by his old bandmate, Dave Wakeling. Better put on your dancing shoes, especially for the "Come Into My House" Mix. Whenever I hear this take, way in the back somewhere, I'm reminded of New Order's "Fine Time." Perhaps it was the sound of the era. Anyway, that's it. I have nothing left from Ranking Roger's solo career. Perhaps you can live with that.
Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! is out of town tomorrow. Do you know what that means? Check back soon. I already have the USB turntable out for Ranking Roger. Are you "Green" with envy?
Ranking Roger - So Excited ("Come Into My House" Mix) (mp3)
Ranking Roger - So Excited (Full Vocal Version) (mp3)
Ranking Roger - So Excited (House-Appella) (mp3)
Ranking Roger - So Excited (Alternative Mix) (mp3)
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Between 'Le Jardin de Heavenly' (1992) and 'The Decline and Fall of Heavenly' (1994), Amelia Fletcher wrote two catchy non-album singles, largely forgotten, that are, in my mind, as good as anything in the Heavenly canon. The songs were originally released as Sarah 081 and 082, respectively. As usual, K Records came to the rescue on this side of the pond, eventually even combining the two records as a 5-song EP in 1995. I think you're really going to enjoy the vocal interplay between Fletcher and Cathy Rogers on the bouncy "Atta Girl." What's your favorite Fletcher vehicle, Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research or Tender Trap? Is it even possible to choose just one?
Heavenly - P.U.N.K. Girl (mp3)
Heavenly - Atta Girl (mp3)
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
This occasional series will be about coming clean. Let's admit that we hate a certain album that we are supposed to love. Better yet, go all the way and concede that you've never even taken the time to listen to said record. How about letting the world know you are enamored with a song you have no business enjoying. C'mon, get it off your chest. You'll feel better. I'll start.
I used to like "Gilmore Girls," a dramedy from the WB network clearly aimed at females in their teens. As a male in my 30s during its heyday in the early part of the last decade, this isn't a proud moment. Here's how it went down. Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! would watch it while I was doing dishes or catching up on work. I was half listening one night during an episode early in the first season when this line was uttered by a friend of Rory:
LANE: He likes Nick Drake and Liz Phair and the Sugarplastic and he's deathly allergic to walnuts.
"What did she just say," I yelled to my wife. "Did I just hear her say the Sugarplastic?" This was years before we had a DVR, but I was pretty damn sure one of my favorite power-pop bands, and an obscure one at that, was just mentioned on national television. As the season progressed, although I still wasn't sitting down in front of it, I found myself paying more attention to the program, looking and listening for more musical references. There were songs by the likes of Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello, the Cure, Beck, Black Box Recorder, Bjork, the Jayhawks, Jesus and Mary Chain, Grandaddy, Komeda, the Shins, Madness, Pavement, Pixies, the Clash and the Mighty Lemon Drops, to name but a few.
Then there was the time when Lane waved a copy of XTC's 'Apple Venus Volume II,' and the gals proceeded to dance to "The Man Who Murdered Love." In another episode, the same character dumped a pile of CDs on a table after a day at the record store. One of the purchases was from Young Marble Giants. YMG on my American TV! Had that really just happened? Another week, since she wanted to hide her music obsession from her conservative mother, Lane wanted Rory to pick up the latest from Belle and Sebastian on the day it was released. By season two, I had the dishes done in time to tune in. Yes, the dialogue was overwritten. Nobody talks like that, but I found the pop-culture references fascinating. I couldn't wait to hear what the producers would come up with next.
There. Secret No. 1 is out. If you like, unburden yourself below. Here are a couple from the Sugarplastic. I have written about them a few times before, but readers seem to avoid these posts like the plague. Tough. I love these guys. So, I'm going to keep pushing. Oh, and the show released a soundtrack in 2002 that's still in print. Now let me get back to playing with my dolls.
The Sugarplastic - Radio Jejune (mp3) (1995)
The Sugarplastic - Sheep (mp3) (1996)
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
During his brief stay with A&M, Robyn Hitchcock produced a couple of highly sought after B-side covers. One was a stripped-down take of Roxy Music's "More Than This," which appeared on his "Madonna of the Wasps" single in 1989. The other, a fairly faithful version of the Byrds' "Eight Miles High," could be found on the "So You Think You're in Love" single in 1991. Some fans find this era a low point in Hitchcock's illustrious career, but I'm a huge admirer of both sides of these singles. These are worth digging up at your local mom and pop shop.
...And while I'm on the subject, Hitchcock continues to be on top of his game. I give high marks to these more recent releases:
'Goodnight Oslo' (2009)
'Tromsø, Kaptein' (2011)
'Love From London' (2013)
For those of you who expected this post to be on Husker Du's fine cover of this song, I apologize. Perhaps I'll get to that one soon.
Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians - Eight Miles High (mp3)
Monday, May 13, 2013
I have a love/hate relationship with the Kinks' 'Live at Kelvin Hall.' The sound quality is pretty poor, but damn if, through the muck, you don't feel like you're one of those screamin' Glaswegian birds, circa April 1, 1967. What a time to see the lads, too. 'Face to Face' had been out for about six months, and 'Something Else' was only a few months away. Like many albums I select for the Curtain Call series, this is one of those "oh, if I could time travel" moments I'm sure you have had when listening to your favorite live recordings as well. Here's one of the band's biggest hits, making it all the way to the top spot in the UK and No. 14 across the pond in '66. Hope this crackly piece of vinyl helps kick off your week.
The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon (Live) (mp3)
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Most fans of Elvis Costello don't think much of 'Punch the Clock,' but I have a soft spot for the 1983 album because it was the first record from his already impressive discography that I bought as a new release. I was 13 at the time, and I had discovered his work through a cassette of 'Armed Forces' I had bought a few months earlier... after seeing the video for "Oliver's Army" on TBS' "Night Tracks." That program meant the world to me at the time because MTV wouldn't make it to my hometown until later in the year. I digress. Let's get to today's song.
I don't believe the extended remix of "Let Them All Talk" has appeared on any of the many Costello reissues of 'Punch the Clock.' I have no knowledge of this, but I'm guessing the reason is the artist hates it. Some extended versions work. Some don't. I think this one is a perfect example of '80s bloat. I pulled it out today more as a curiosity (since there is is a good chance you haven't heard it) than to prove the record is some fantastic take that must be acquired. The production team of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley had the magic touch during this time period, even somehow making the very British bands Madness and Dexys Midnight Runners household names here in America, but they didn't have their finest with this one. I like the album version a lot, and I think it's probably the TKO Horns best performance. You can buy it here.
Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Let Them All Talk (Extended 12" Remix) (mp3)
Saturday, May 4, 2013
In 1981, ABC released chapter one in its legendary trilogy of singles. Three months before "Poison Arrow" and nine months prior to the 'The Lexicon of Love' album there was the dramatic "Tears Are Not Enough." According to the liner notes on the back of the 12", Martin Fry and Co. wanted to "produce a heady night club narcotic..." a "sweet and sour mash of larynx and guitar, bass and drum, conga and horns." It would take another year before Americans would drink in ABC's alphabet soup when "The Look of Love (Part One)" found the Top 40. In the UK, however, New Romantics and mainstream music fans alike took this first song all the way to No. 19 on the singles chart. If you consider yourself an admirer of early ABC, I would suggest owning the 7", 12" and album versions of "Tears Are Not Enough." All three takes tell a different story. For today, enjoy seven-and-a-half minutes of bliss.
ABC - Tears Are Not Enough (12") (mp3)
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Cold. Rainy. Dark. That's how this day began. I piled it on by rolling over and playing this one. OK, you sad sacks, let's get melancholy. "Gotta get up off the floor..."
The stable of Sarah Records' "stars" was vast, but I think I might like Brighter the best. A decade ago, Matinée Recordings gathered the band's three singles and the 'Disney' 10" EP on one wonderful disc and called it 'Singles 1989-1982.' Sadly, it is no longer in print, but you can still get some of Brighter's work from the label.
'Out To Sea' collects the essential 'Laurel' eight-track mini-album with hard-to-find flexidiscs and several songs that have never been heard before this 2006 compilation. I give this my highest recommendation.
Sorry, didn't mean to brighten the day. Back to sulking and song.
Brighter - Inside Out (mp3)
Monday, April 29, 2013
Bergman, Truffaut, Cassavetes, Altman, Kubrick... Cox? Damn straight. What does Alex Cox have in common with these legendary directors? Their films have been deemed crucial enough to be a part of the Criterion Collection. Nobody brings a film to DVD like the Criterion folks, and I was pleased as punch to read that earlier this month one of my all-time favorite flicks, 'Repo Man,' had just become one of their latest releases. The director-approved special edition has plenty of extras, but the best of the lot is audio commentary with Cox and executive producer Michael Nesmith, as well as new interviews with Iggy Pop and Dick Rude. I'm pretty excited about the deleted scenes too.
We all have one of those movies we've seen so many times that we can recite it forwards and backwards. Well, this one is mine, and the music was the soundtrack of my early to mid teen years. Here are a couple of pieces Criterion has posted on the film. The first is Ten Things I Learned About 'Repo Man.' The other is a very entertaining snippet from the Iggy Pop inteview.
Keep making me money, kid."
Buy the 'Repo Man' soundtrack.
Buy the 'Repo Man' film (Criterion).
Iggy Pop - Repo Man (mp3)
Friday, April 26, 2013
As promised, here are is the School's brief American syllabus. If you, like me, live west of the Mississippi (OK, St. Louis makes the cut), you may give the band an F for their course. Take a deep breath and keep in mind touring America isn't like covering a European country. You can't really do it successfully in two weeks. All this does is make it official. It's time to book a flight and get your tickets to NYC Popfest. You'll have the added bonus of seeing the Monochrome Set, the Bats and Close Lobsters too. This might be the only time I have envied (or will ever envy) Salem, Virginia. If you haven't heard one of my favorite bands, check out some of their videos below after the band's itinerary.
The School U.S. Tour Dates
May 30: Cake Shop, New York (NYC Popfest)
June 4: Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, Cleveland
June 5: Burlington Bar, Chicago
June 6: Off Broadway, St. Louis
June 7: The End, Nashville
June 8: The Caledonia Lounge, Athens, Ga.
June 10: Krankies Coffee, Winston-Salem, N.C.
June 11: Billy's Barn, Salem, Va.
June 12: Cake Shop, New York
June 13: Sierra Grille, Northampton, Mass.
Top 25 Songs of 2012
Top Albums of 2012
Music Video of the Year
Jangle Pop Dreams (NYC Popfest)
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
These newer (and impending, in some cases) releases have my ear right now. Give them a listen:
The Boy Least Likely To - "Climbing Out of Love"
From the album 'The Great Perhaps,' released April 21
Eleanor Friedberger - "Stare at the Sun"
From the album 'Perfect Record," out June 4
The Primitives - "Lose the Reason"
From the 7" single "Lose the Reason," released Feb. 18
Camera Obscura - "Do It Again"
From the album 'Desire Lines,' out June 4
The Pastels - "Check My Heart"
From the album 'Slow Summits,' out May 28
She & Him - "Never Wanted Your Love"
From the album 'Volume 3,' out May 7
Van Dyke Parks - "Hold Back Time"
From the album 'Songs Cycled,' out May 6
Golden Grrrls - "Past Tense"
From the album 'Golden Grrrls,' released Feb. 25