Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I Tought I Taw a Postcard Tat

The family went to Portland this weekend. That meant a quick stop at Crossroads to visit my favorite record stall. Mrs. LTL and the boys waited in the car while I ran in for a quick perusal. About two minutes into my search, Mrs. LTL tapped me on the shoulder. "Uh-oh," I thought, thumbing through the records a bit faster, "my time must be up." Instead, she pointed to someone she had noticed through the window. "I think that woman has a Postcard Records tattoo," she said excitedly. "I'm going to go talk to her."

The woman seemed as shocked about running into someone who correctly identified the tattoo as we were discovering it. Turns out she and her husband own the very stall I have obsessed about on these pages all these years. Oh, and the husband has a matching Postcard tattoo to boot. Their mutual admiration of Postcard can be traced to one band... Josef K. Now that's what I call the backbone to a successful marriage! I can't tell you how exciting it is to know there are other Postcard obsessives in the Pacific Northwest. Obviously, I'm on a Josef K kick now. Let's listen to a favorite of mine from the band's final Peel Session, circa June 22, 1981.

The Missionary

Saturday, May 26, 2018

One That Got Away

As I was refiling several records in the letter G section, I came upon my very beat up copy of Al Green's 'Greatest Hits' and thought what a shame it was to have skipped. Sure, this is one of those scraping the surface collections, but this was a pivotal album in my youth and one that helped me stray into a genre much different than the punk, post-punk and new wave I was listening to at the time. Never mind if it was Orange Juice that brought me here. Point is, I got there, and it wasn't long before I had a whole mess o' soul. I skipped the good reverend because my vinyl is in sorry shape, but I present Green's music today via the 42-song double CD reissue I bought a few years ago to replace it. Thanks for everything, Mr. Green. It's been an education.

Tired of Being Alone
L-O-V-E Love

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter G, Part 16)

Today's selection will conclude this round of the letter G. For various reasons, I have skipped several favorites, including Game Theory, Grandaddy, Gene, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, the Granite Shore, the Goon Sax and Green on Red, to name but a few. All I can say is there is a method to the madness, and one of your favorites might have been omitted because it was a relatively new release or had already featured on these pages. I assure you just about everything I have will pop up here eventually. At any rate, I agree with our pal George this letter has been one of our more interesting stops so far. I especially enjoyed listening to Gang of Four again. It had been a long while, and I have been spinning it with regularity for weeks now.

Let's wrap things up with a rather rare vinyl format. Here in America, you could get the 2006 EP "From the Cliffs" by Guillemots as a double 10" with gatefold sleeve via Verve Records. I could be wrong, but I believe it's the only 2x10" in my entire collection. Everything I have heard by Guillemots has been good, and there have been some hits, but I don't believe Fyfe Dangerfield and his band ever eclipsed their first single, "Trains to Brazil". It's an old story, a group putting out their best straight out of the chute, and even if Guillemots had never put out another song, the band would have been immortal. It's that unforgettable. Dangerfield says "Trains to Brazil" is about appreciating life. Sounds good to me.

Trains to Brazil

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter G, Part 15)

This band takes me back to 1983. I first saw Guadalcanal Diary on MTV's 'Basement Tapes'. Although they didn't win, the video for "Watusi Radio" remained stuck in my brain until I picked it up on debut long player 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man' in 1984. The audio for that video clip was a live take of the song taken from a performance at 688 Club, a famous Atlanta spot from 1980-1986. Although the studio version was superb, nothing topped the video version. To this day, I'm still looking for a copy of that show!

There was so much to love about Guadalcanal Diary, but my infatuation with early R.E.M. had much to do with sticking with them through a rather disappointing follow-up album, 'Jamboree', in 1986. Guadalcanal Diary was often compared to their more popular neighbor during this period, but looking back I think it's a rather lazy connection having much more to do with geography than sound. Like many great bands in that era and locale, Guadalcanal Diary were briefly signed to the great Atlanta-based label DB Records, home to Pylon, Love Tractor, and the Swimming Pool Q's, to name a few, but it wasn't too long before Elektra came a callin' and snatched them up after 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man'.

My favorite of Guadalcanal Diary's four albums was (and still is) '2 x 4'. Critics and the public seemed to agree. Paste Magazine hailed it as the No. 64 album of the entire decade. The return of producer Don Dixon after the sophomore slump had more than a little bit to do with it. Dixon would return in 1989 for Guadalcanal Diary's final album, 'Flip-Flop', and the single 'Always Saturday' garnered a ton of plays on '120 Minutes'. Sales weren't exactly brisk, however, and the band would commit to family life and other projects shortly thereafter. In a nutshell, if you don't already have them, you should seek out all three of the Dixon-produced LPs. They were a real trip to rip from my vinyl collection today.

Watusi Rodeo (1984)
Trail of Tears (1984)
Litany (Life Goes On) (1987)
Always Saturday (1989)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter G, Part 14)

JC featured the Groovy Little Numbers in his Scottish songs series two months ago, and you can get a rundown of their second of two EPs the band released on legendary label 53 & 3rd over at his place. Here are the three songs from the first EP. I don't have the original 12". Rather, I have this on a comp Avalanche Records released in 1998 that covers both EPs. I'm picturing it with the BMX Bandits comp above, also from Avalanche, because I always listen to them together. If you're interested, here is a recap of the day I bought these two records at Avalanche in Edinburgh. One of the best days ever! As for the songs, Joe McAlinden wrote the first two. A-side "You Make My Head Explode" would be the band's only hit, peaking at No. 25 on the UK indie chart in early '88. Catherine Steven takes a turn on lead vocals with the closer, and I just can't resist Mairi Cameron's wonderful trumpet on this grittier version of the Association hit from 1967. Genius!

You Make My Head Explode
Hey! Hey!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter G, Part 13)

Better make this a quickie. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm on the clock with my Scritti Politti marathon. So many more from this letter, but I think I'll cap it at five more from G.

Goodly Thousands are not a band you would describe as prolific. The discography of these Irish lads can be boiled down to an extremely limited EP release in 2011 (50 copies), a double-A side 7" in 2011 (which was a re-recording of two songs from that first EP) and a follow-up four-song 7" EP in 2015. At least you can catch up quickly, and it's all quality. The band is so in my wheelhouse. Lots of jangle and sad-sack lyrics. The kind of tales that will make you think of Julian Henry, Harvey Williams and "Understand" era Brian. Take this litmus test to see whether you will find Goodly Thousands endearing or corny. Here are the opening lines to the 2013 song "I Wish".

I wish those were my hands in your hair
I wish I could go out without worrying you'll be there
I ought to tell you I like you the most
But my mouth gets dry every time I come close

Clearly, songwriter Colm Dawson is my kind of people. Hope he is yours too. You can get these two sentimental seven-inch singles shown above from the always dependable Shelflife Records here and here. Highly recommended. Now I'm off to work on making eye contact.

I Wish

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

When the Wife's Away, Scritti Politti Will Play

Yes, your favorite series has returned after a nearly one-year absence. I'm not one to subscribe to conspiracy theories, but hear me out. The way Mrs. LTL will tell it, she no longer works at her old job because, well, she didn't like it very much. That goes double for the extensive travel that went along with it. The eyes don't lie, however, and hers has had a little twinkle in them these past few months. She says it's because she loves her new job, one with almost no time on the road, but I know better. I swear there's just a little more twinkle because she sees me using the feather duster on my rather vast collection of Scritti Politti records. Did I ever mention she hates Scritti Politti? Well, for the next three days, Mrs. LTL is at a conference in SoCal, and I'm going to go gangbusters for Green while I can.

Here's the single that began the 'Cupid & Psyche 85' era (albeit more than a year before the album was released), and it opened many eyes to just how much polish Green would be putting on his pop. "Wood Beez" may not have gone over well with many of Scritti Politti's early fans, but the result was a legion of converts and a No. 10 hit in the UK. It even broke the Top 100 here in America (No. 91). Only "The Word Girl" the following year would be bigger for Green in his homeland. Here are all three versions. I'll warn you that last one may have a few too many mid-'80s flourishes for all but die-hard fans, but I love it.

Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) (7")
Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)
Wood Beez (Version)

Oh, and there's an anniversary in these parts. Luckily, since Mrs. LTL is away, it's a slightly less important occasion than the one you may be thinking. The blog turns 9 today. If I may be so bold, I'm rather proud of the accomplishment. Thanks to all who have stopped by through the years.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Something to Smile About

I have less than two years left in my 40s, Turns out, according to Jonathan Rauch in his new book The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50, although I'm probably sinking to the very bottom of my midlife slump right now, things will start looking up at 50 and continue in that direction until I'm 80. So, I've got that going for me.

Then there's this. I'm at that age when I should be weeping for the future, but I just can't because I'm hearing a multitude of whippersnappers realizing Wire is one of the greatest bands to ever grace this planet. Here are a couple of bands that aren't afraid to take a ride in the wayback machine. Blues Lawyer may not be from London, they are from Oakland, actually, but this band will make you want to dust off your copy of 'Chairs Missing'. Give "Unstable" a listen. It's even shorter than "Outdoor Miner"! You can pick up 'Guess Work' from Blues Lawyer here. Eureka California's influences are all over the place, and the boy-girl duo of Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler aren't shy about turning it up an extra notch, but "Threads" has me thinking about the loudest moments on 'Pink Flag'. Fourth album turns out to be the charm for these two from Athens, Ga. 'Roadrunners' needs to be on your shelf.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Side Project Belongs With Finest From the Feelies

Nearly three weeks later, I'm still discovering treasures from this year's Record Store Day. I'm not sure how I missed this, but among the scraps at my local shop I just found a reissue of the 1987 album 'Shore Leave' from Yung Wu. If, like me, this sounds vaguely familiar, it's probably because you were into the Feelies and had been patiently waiting for the follow-up to 'The Good Earth' when the band's label at that moment, Coyote and Twin/Tone, gave us this instead.

This is very close to a Feelies album, but instead of Glenn Mercer and Bill Million taking songwriting duties, it's percussionist Dave Weckerman leading the way. Everyone from the Feelies during the era can be found here, including Mercer and Million on production duties. 'Shore Leave' sounds like exactly what it is... a close cousin to the Feelies. It's best described as sweeter and poppier than the manic approach found on '80s-era Feelies albums. Listening to it 31 years later, I find myself wondering why this never progressed beyond cult status. Then again, that's how I feel about everything the Feelies released too. Kudos to Bar/None Records for unearthing this gem.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Another Potluck

Time to clean the cupboards of some stuff I never seem to have time to write about. Hopefully, there is something here you'll want to put on your plate.

House of Sarah
In case you missed it, back in March Jen and Stew at Emotional Response Records announced they would be releasing a slew of Sarah material to raise the cash to help Even as We Speak get to Indietracks this summer. When I heard about it, needless to say, my heart about burst out of my chest. Just as I began to write about the big news for these pages, it seemed everything had already sold out. A recent check in with the Flagstaff-based label, however, shows the four albums are available again. Here's a quick rundown:

Boyracer - 'Fling Yr Bonnet Over the Windmill'
Boyracer's three Sarah singles on one LP. Available in splatter tour support edition or black vinyl. Yes, that's Stew on there.

Action Painting - 'Trial Cuts'
LP features Sarah-era songs and a host of previously unreleased material. Download includes 12 bonus tracks. Available in splatter tour support edition or black vinyl.

Even As We Speak - 'Feral Pop Frenzy'
The band's one and only full-length LP has returned 25 years later. A Sarah lover's dream. Available in splatter tour support edition or black vinyl.

'Sarah Artists Comp'
Wh-wh-wh-what?!? Two new and previously unreleased tracks from Even As We Speak, Action Painting!, Boyracer and Secret Shine. This one only available in splatter tour support edition vinyl.

All four of these are also available as a set in splatter tour support edition vinyl for one special price here. If you heard "The Black Forest" 10" in 2017, and I'm sure you did after it made my year-end list, you know there is something pretty special going on with Even As We Speak right now. Let's give these Aussies a hand. Very funny. You can stop clapping.

Your Hit Parade
If you have been following my saga to snag that UK-only Record Store Day single of the Hit Parade's "Happy World", drum roll please, I got it. As you may know, any leftover RSD releases can be posted online by record shops seven days after the holiday. Last Saturday at midnight London time (5PM Friday here in Seattle) I ordered it the second it became available at Juno. With shipping it was about $7. Sure beats the prices I saw for it the day after RSD when the greedy flippers started selling. I also learned there was another 7" by the Hit Parade released earlier this year. Here's the video for the A-side from that one. With news of a full-length album out later this year, it's good to be a fan of Julian and Co.

Take Aim at Popguns EP
You may agree 'C88' was one of the best comps of 2017. Last summer, to celebrate appearing on Cherry Red's box set, the Popguns put together a four-song EP of demos from the era. Unfortunately, I was on vacation when they started selling it on their Bandcamp page. By the time I found out about it, the 100 copies they put out on CD were already sold out. For almost a year now I tried my best to be content streaming demos of early classics "Leave It Alone", "Landslide" and "Where Do You Go", as well as unreleased track "Beat Me Up". Then a couple of weeks ago I went to the page to give the demos a listen -- it had been a while -- and I discovered the Popguns were selling an additional 50 copies. I bought it on the spot. I have been listening to it on the stereo instead of the computer for the past couple of days... WOW! Wendy's vocals, particularly on "Landslide", never sounded better. Not even on the Medium Cool recording back in 1989. Heads up. As I'm writing this, there are 13 copies left of the 'C88 Demos'. It's the best £4 you'll ever spend.

Finally, I went down a YouTube rabbit hole a couple of weeks ago and discovered this song. Anyone out there know them? I'm putting out a plea to Chris at Jigsaw, Jimmy at Matinee, Roque at Cloudberry or any other indie label with a little gumption to get the rights to the six-song self-titled LP from the Love In, circa 1987. It came out on something called Out There Records. I'll be first in line to buy it. An absolutely wonderful piece of jangle. A real earworm, as our pal the Swede says. Think they liked early R.E.M.? Must sleep now.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter G, Part 12)

You will find all three albums from the Go-Go's in my music room, as well as a single or two and a double-disc odds-n-sods comp. Tough to deny I'm a fan. I made my girlfriend a bunch of mix tapes when she went away to college in 1989, and one of them had this song on it. Her cool roommate heard it and yelled "white bread!" That's a pretty apt description of the Go-Go's. I suppose their coolness factor begins and ends with the 1981 debut smash "Our Lips Are Sealed" being co-written by Jane Wiedlin and our hero Terry Hall. I get that. I also don't care. Their songs were fun and made me want to dance. Wiedlin was cute as a button to boot. Here's "Turn to You", from the 1984 album 'Talk Show'. It was the last of their five Top 40 hits over here, peaking at No. 32. Actually, I guess there is one more slightly cool tidbit. It's produced by Martin Rushent.

Turn to You