Friday, March 30, 2018

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter G, Part 4)

From Gang of Four to Marvin Gaye. Anyone need a neck brace? I was half tempted to play smash hit "Sexual Healing", a song I dearly love, but was afraid of being pelted with rotting vegetables. Surely, you can give the '80s a rest this one time, I can hear you saying. You may have a point. After all, Gaye had nearly 70 singles on the Billboard charts before that one. Before we get to today's selection, how about a poll question? Of all the Motown ladies he sang duets with, who was Gaye's best partner? Lots of choices there. Mary? Tammi? Kim? Diana?

Here's the third single from landmark 1971 album 'What's Going On'. Like so many of the best songs on Motown, Gaye is backed by the Funk Brothers. Like the first two singles, this one also cracked the top 10, but it seems like with the passage of time "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" isn't played quite as much as the title track and "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)". The social and economic plight of those left behind in inner cities like Detroit is the subject, and I have always been taken by the unusual line "make me wanna holler" sung with such a smooth silky voice, giving the song a melancholy mood rather than an angry one. In hindsight, I have always found Gaye's complaints about inner-city residents paying high taxes an interesting view since Gaye would spend much of the rest of his days fighting the Internal Revenue Service.

This version of album closer "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" is taken from my very scratchy LP and includes an extra minute with a brooding reprise of "What's Going On" at the end that was not part of the 7" single.

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

Sorry, but I can't resist. After all those years on Motown, here is Gaye's first single for CBS. It peaked at No. 3 in America and No. 4 in the UK. I'm not sure I'll go so far as to vouch for the rest of 'Midnight Love', but I never tire of this one. There are some nice covers out there too.

Sexual Healing

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter G, Part 3)

"It made me laugh to hear the guy from U2 talk about his guitar influences being old bluesmen. I thought, 'Hey, you dipshit, what about Andy Gill?'" -- Flea

Never pass on sticking it to U2.

Tough to choose just one, but here's a selection from Gang of Four's 1979 album 'Entertainment!' If you don't have this one, go get it right now. One of the best albums from the best year in music. Angular. Angry. Ahead of it's time. You'll be amazed how so many of your favorite bands sound like these lads from Leeds. Everybody lifted from them. I used to wonder where Minutemen came from. Then I heard 'Entertainment!' Here's how the album opens. Buckle up.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Questionable Selection?

We covered A Craze in 2016 and Tracie Young in 2017 more or less unscathed. Do I dare press my luck with a third act from Paul Weller's Respond Records? Sure. The Questions were out of Edinburgh, and they had a couple of singles on legendary local label Zoom Records (early home to Simple Minds) in the late '70s. The band opened for the Jam when they came through Edinburgh in 1980, as well as a few other places, and Weller thought they fit well with the "new Motown" plan he envisioned for Respond. Like Tracie, A Craze and others in the Respond stable, Weller was actively involved with the Questions early on, producing first single "Work and Play" in 1982. The Questions would have five more singles between '82 and '84, as well as long player 'Belief'. Although the Questions would never produce a commercial hit, band mates Paul Barry and John Robinson did write a few songs for Tracie, including the '83 smash "The House That Jack Built", Respond's high-water mark.

This won't be for everybody, but I still enjoy the sophisti-pop singles surrounding the '84 album 'Belief'. I'm going to save my favorite for the letter Q in my vinyl-ripping series, which at the rate I'm progressing means you'll get to hear that one in late 2020. For today, here is a double-A sided single I have as a 12". Warning: "Belief" is an extended mix. Therefore, the bells and whistles of the time can and will take you back 34 years.

A Month of Sundays
Belief (Don't Give It Up) (Extended Mix)