Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blue Monday 1988 [US DJ Promo] (1988)

"Blue Monday 1988 [US DJ Promo]", New Order (1988)

Brace yourselves: This is my first non-ripped-vinyl rarity. You know what that means: Less hissin' and poppin'!

Now, I think the title says it all. This is the 1988 remix of New Order's 1983 classic, "Blue Monday." And guess what? This item is the three-track CD sent out to DJs in the United States. How very obvious.

What's the difference between this and the "Blue Monday" of five years prior? Not much, aside from extra diddle-daddling noisearoos and pointless samples of some guy saying goofy things like "Oh boy this is too much!". And it's shorter. Well, at least the standard single mix is. But thankfully, this promo also comes with the 12" mix of the '88 version. It's not as austere as the '83 original, but it's acceptable.

According to New Order Online, the various non-promotional editions of the Blue Monday 1988 single tended to have some b-sides not found on this particular DJ Promo. Of note are "Touched by the Hand of God" (single and dub mixes) and a track called "Beach Buggy" (a play on the fact that the 83 Blue Monday had a dub called "The Beach"). This promo, and a few editions of the single, instead have a track called "Blue Monday 1988 [Dub Version]". It's essentially more of the same, but with added reverb, less lyrics, and more samples.

So why am I uploading this? Simply because you probably won't be able to find the dub version or the 12" mix of Blue Monday 1988 anywhere else.

I shall be quick to add that you can find the single mix in the flawed 1995 retrospective The Best of New Order, and in the recent 2-CD Singles collection. So if you like it, buy it. If you don't like it and find that its compromised by the all the unnecessary blippin' and broopin', then get the original "Blue Monday". You can find that on the CD edition of Power, Corruption & Lies and on 1987's superb Substance compilation.

I shall speak no more. Here's the music.

1. Blue Monday 1988 [Single Mix]
2. Blue Monday 1988 [12" Mix]
3. Blue Monday 1988 [Dub Version]

Download (25.84 MB)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Noel (1988)

"Noel," Noel (1988)

I've uploaded a freestyle album. Yes, I can't believe it either. And no, I'm not talking about some rapper who improvises his shtick on the fly. This is something that is completely different. As Wikipedia notes, "Freestyle or Latin Freestyle, also called Latin Hip Hop in its early years, is a form of electronic music that is heavily influenced by Hispanic culture."

Noel, according to what I've found out, was a Bronx-wise Cuban-American who scored a huge hit in 1987-88 with his single, "Silent Morning." It's a heck of a song that displays influences ranging from 80s hip-hop to European synth-pop. If anything, the album should be obtained just for that one track.

But does the album fare as well as the club classic? Surprisingly, yes. While the lyrics and the singing might not be the best, I can definitely assert that the music itself is quite good. Aside from one sloppy ballad-like offering, the album is generally a mix of very good synth lines and potent beats.

I might not be too keen on freestyle as a whole, but I totally endorse this out-of-print nugget from a practically forgotten genre.

1. Silent Morning
2. Fire to Ice
3. To Be With You
4. Out of Time
5. Change
6. Like a Child
7. Fallen Angel
8. City Streets
9. What I Feel For You

Download (40.00 MB)

P.S.: Re-uploaded it after I saw that the crap-tastic mp3 converter I downloaded only converted about 2/3 of each track (!?!). This new link should take you to the good version of the album.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shattered Dreams (1988)

"Shattered Dreams," Johnny Hates Jazz (1988)

In music, there are the giants. Then, there is Johnny Hates Jazz.

Described by as "A three piece band consisting of two damned good looking englishmen (and one unfortunately butt-ugly American)," these late 80s popsters were by no means the greatest band to ever tread the earth.

Had they emerged at the beginning of the decade, their music might have been considered fresh and exciting. However, by the time they appeared on the scene, their brand of New Romantic pop was starting to wear thin. The dandy sensibilities of artsy boys like ABC and Duran Duran were appropriated by bands like Johnny Hates Jazz and Curiosity Killed the Cat later in the decade, but their impact upon music was less important than that of their predecessors. Why? Maybe it was because the original spark of the New Romantics had withered into a crass banality. It became pastiche, a shadow of its former self.

"Shattered Dreams" is a good example of this degradation of the form. Listen to the track and note how the band appears to be going through the motions rather than stylishly delivering the goods. While the b-side shows some artiness, the a-side is trying too hard to tug at our pop-loving hearts. It's catchy, to be sure, but is the repetition necessary? And listen to the bassline. Ugh.

That's not to say I don't like Johnny Hates Jazz. I like them more than a certain Johnny disapproves of jazz. I do. Had they shown up in 1982 rather than 1988, their work would've been at the height of the zeitgeist rather than at the bloated, tired and disoriented end of it. And hey, at least they're not Rick Astley.

1. Shattered Dreams (12" Version)
2. Shattered Dreams (7" Version)
3. My Secret Garden

Download (10.78 MB)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spot the Pigeon (1977)

"Spot the Pigeon," Genesis (1977)

Might as well upload the other Genesis EP, right?

This one predates "3 X 3" by about 5 years. The tunes on this recording are considered to be holdovers from Wind & Wuthering, released earlier in 1977. One of the notable things about this album is the fact that its the last Genesis studio release to feature guitarist Steve Hackett. Some argue that he left the band after the others opted to relegate the tune "Inside and Out" to the EP rather than placing the album.

This is a fun EP, I must admit. The first two tracks are essentially pop with prog influences. "Match of the Day" is one of the most amusing futbol songs ever (then again, isn't its only competition New Order's "World in Motion?). The next song, "Pigeons," demonizes those who would harm pigeons. Humbug. I hate pigeons. Wankersome birds have congregating outside my window as of late and I feel the need to poison them. Gah! Oh well. Fun song, though. Get it just to hear Phil Collins say "sh*t."

But the last song is a doozy, and for me, the highlight of this lost Genesis gem. "Inside and Out" deals with a convict who will never get out of jail, despite promises on the contrary. The first 2/3 of the song are remarkably mellow, melodic and melancholy. And then, in the last third, it's a full-on prog explosion of orgasmic proportions. No, I'm not exaggerating, either. This is what what prog should sound like! No wonder Hackett was ticked at not having this on the album: It's a hell of a track!

Now, are these tracks available elsewhere? Well, Genesis Archive #2 1976-1992 had "Pigeons" and "Inside and Out," but it neglected to include "Match of the Day." As with "3 X 3", this EP was not totally represented in that box set. But the recently released $300+ box set, Genesis 1976-1982, will include the whole EP. This kind of aggravates me. Sure, they remastered everything and finally ponied up the tracks, but will Genesis fans want to buy all the albums for a third time? I, for one, enjoy the 1994 CD releases (the so-called "Definitive" remasters). Well, until the record company decides to release a hip CD full of EP and B-side rarities rather than hiding those tracks in ridiculously expensive box sets, you can get a vinyl rip of the EP from here.

Speaking of which, this EP was extra dusty, so try to ignore the hissing and popping associated with vinyl (even my software couldn't clean it all up!). However, I do think you'll be satisfied with the overall absence of skips. I laboured over these for a while and spent about 40 minutes working on the middle section of "Inside and Out." It was tough, but I do it out of love for the music.

And now, enjoy the EP:

1. Match of the Day
2. Pigeons
3. Inside and Out

Download (12.12 MB)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Comedy (1989)

"Comedy," Black (1989)

Black Comedy; get it? Admittedly, it's a corny gag, but you've gotta expect something like this from a man like Colin Vearncombe. But I bet you weren't expecting me to post two back-to-back posts that dealt with the same artist. I know, it's shocking.

But do you know what's even more of a shock? The fact that the LP version of "Comedy" differs substantially from the CD issue. If you take a stroll down to Amazon, you will find Comedy, and you will see that it has 12 songs. But, if you scroll down, you'll note that the LP rip I've uploaded has 10. Am I ripping you off? Did Black rip us off? Did the record companies rip us off? What's going on here?

The answer can be found by looking at Black's first album, "Wonderful Life." If you were to scroll down, you'd see that the debut album is bookended by two songs, "Wonderful Life" and "Sweetest Smile." If you take a gander at the tracklist on "Comedy," you'll see that these songs are also present here. So he's re-hashing old ideas? Well, sorta... but no. See, everyone knew that those two songs had a great "hit" potential. As such, it was decided to include new versions of these tracks on the LP and cassette versions of Black's second album.

But the CD version was radically different. Not only did it omit those two songs, but it also left off a tune called "Reunion." In their stead, compact disc buyers received 5 totally different tracks. This tells us that Black was not out of ideas. Instead, a loopy record company strategy totally sent his discography on a kinked-out path.

As a result of this scheming, there are now three songs that are lost to digital-age fans. Or are they? The 1989 re-recording of "Wonderful Life" can actually be found on the great but inconsistent 12"/'80s compilation. The other two songs, sadly, are lost to memory (and outdated formats). But that's when I come in, ready to exhume a few favourite goodies for the sake of the greater good.

Personally (and this is just my humble opinion), I dig the re-recorded version of "Wonderful Life." The vocals are bit more emotional, and on the whole, the song reminds me of being on a tropical island vacation... only to have it rain. Irony at its most beautiful. As for the new mix of "Sweetest Smile," I still don't have a firm opinion. It's about as gripping as the original, only shorter. So there we go.

As a whole, the album (again, this is just my opinion) doesn't seem as strong as "Wonderful Life." That said, it's a heck of a lot better than some of it's contemporaries (that means you, Paula Abdul and Rick Astley!). It makes a good compliment to the debut album, but don't expect the overall catchyness of that release on this sophomore effort.

But I'm rambling now. You want the music. So here you go:

1. Wonderful Life (Re-recording)
2. You're a Big Girl Now
3. Reunion
4. Whatever People Say You Are
5. Sweetest Smile (Remix)
6. Hey, I Was Right You Were Wrong!
7. All We Need Is the Money
8. The Big One
9. Now You're Gone
10. You Don't Always Do What's Best For You

Download (38.82 MB)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wonderful Life (1987)

"Wonderful Life," Black (1987)

An excellent pop album; that's the best way to summarize it. I, for one, can't understand why this album didn't race all the way up to number one, nor why it's been largely forgotten. I guess it might have something to do with the time period it came out in. Maybe Black (aka Colin Vearncombe) was a bit too sophisticated, moody, caustic, or mysterious to compete with the cookie-cutter pop fare of the time. After all, I reckon audiences were far more receptive to the banal characters produced by the Stock-Aitken-Waterman factory than to something as brilliant as this gem.

One of the things you'll notice is the constant interplay between a melancholy vibe, a forcibly hopeful demeanor, and keenly catchy choruses. The title track, which kicks off the album, demonstrates how these contradictory elements create a tension that totally captivates the listener. As the album moves on, you run across some supremely catchy songs that are delivered with both finesse and intensity. "Everything's Coming up Roses" and "I'm Not Afraid" both have Black singing with rather edgy insistence, almost as if he's trying to convince himself.

Another boon that this album possesses is the fact that its excellently structured. It begins with a timeless title track, goes through various phases (including some vaguely Latin and Spanish twists here and there), and concludes on the most beautifully melancholic note possible: "Sweetest Smile." You'll have to hear it to believe it.

Despite having various items that scream "80s Production!", the album has aged very well. It will no doubt leave you with several songs stuck in your head, so I apologize in advance. I also apologize if it sounds a bit too loud. This was one of the very first albums I ever transfered from vinyl, so there might be a bit of clipping here and there, and maybe two or three skips.

Like other stuff on this page, this album is out of print as a CD. If you enjoy this album, try to look for Black's compilation, The Collection, his 90s work as Colin Vearncombe or his recent Between Two Churches, where he once again assumes the name of Black.

And so, without further ado, here's "Wonderful Life," one of the best and most consistent pop albums you will ever hear:

1. Wonderful Life
2. Everything's Coming Up Roses
3. Something For The Asking
4. Finder
5. Paradise
6. I'm Not Afraid
7. I Just Grew Tired
8. Blue
9. Just Making Memories
10. Sweetest Smile

Download (40.28 MB)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

3 X 3 (1982)

"3 x 3," Genesis (1982)

And now, an EP. This one has an interesting story that I'll share with you before heading out to class. Originally, this came out in the UK as an EP. The States got the tunes too, but they got 'em in the "Three Sides Live" compilation. As you might imagine, these studio tracks were on the fourth side (along with two extra tracks).

The funny thing is, this was never released on CD in and of itself. The first time we saw them was on the original CD issue of "Three Sides Live." But when this set was remastered, the non-live tracks were omitted. Then, when the Genesis Archive #2 1976-1992 box set popped up, we go two out of three songs: "Paperlate" and "You Might Recall." The last song, "Me and Virgil," was missing in action.

Later this month, we'll see the release of Genesis 1976-1982, a box set that collects all of the bands albums from that period (in addition to EPs and singles and b-sides), remixes and remasters them and places them in one expensive package.

So, if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of sound quality for the sake of saving a few (hundreds of!) dollaroos, dig the original "3 x 3" EP:

1. Paperlate
2. You Might Recall
3. Me and Virgil

Download (13.61 MB)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Come Dancing (1983)

"Come Dancing," The Kinks (1983)

A 7" single featuring one of my favourite nostalgic tracks of the early 80s. A history of The Kinks isn't particularly necessary, since you all probably know it anyhow. But man, this song is great. I got it off a beat-up 45, and I had to copy it multiple times and reconstruct it from various takes. This version, I think, was like 7th or 8th recording I did.

Ditto for the b-side.

So now, do yourself a favour and enjoy these tracks once more. Afterwards, consider purchasing the Kinks compilation Come Dancing with the Kinks: The Best of the Kinks 1977-1986. That way, you'll see what else these cats were cooking up after their well-earned return to the limelight.

And now, the music. Remember, this is a 7" single after all...

1. Come Dancing
2. Noise

Download (7.70 MB)

In unrelated news, I'd like to recommend some interesting albums that others bloggers have put up. I've felt rather proggy as of late, so it should come as no surprise that I'm about to suggest some progressive rock. If that's not your cup of tea, just listen to The Kinks or scroll down.

Linus - "Linus" {Korea} [1980] (hard prog): You can find this one at Prog Not Frog. Its an interesting bit of prog (a bit belated in terms of the chronology, though!) that, although it gets a bit schmaltzy at the end, is still well worth exploring. In Korean, too!

Máquina! - "Why? Máquina!" {Spain} [1970] (Psycho Prog): Also from our friends at Prog Not Frog, this bit of prog come straight out of Spain. Unlike Linus, who opt to sing in their own language, this band has chosen to sing in English. Now, for those in the know, there's a good reason to cringe: Non-native speakers can sometimes have the worst accents when singing. This, sadly, is no exception. But d'you know what? It's still a good dose of prog! The title track, about 20 minutes long, is bizarrely broken up into two sections (they could've just devoted one half of the vinyl to the whole thing...). The rest of the songs are good, but like Linus, it kind of tapers off at the end. The bonus tracks are somewhat enjoyable, but the live one can sometime constitute what we call "wankery." And yet, somehow, I still totally endorse this album. So get it today!

Franco Battiato- "L'arca di Noé" {Italia} [1982] (Progressivo italiano meio pop): This one comes from our friends at Acorde Final, in Fortaleza, Brasil. The first time I heard it, I was blown away. Not just because it was good, but because it was the oddest mix I'd ever heard. Imagine the most pretentious and operatic bit of symphonic rock, and try to mesh that with early 80s dance. Exactly. And yet, that's what this is. It's a weird listen, to be sure, but in the end, it's the kind of oddity that you'll want to keep passing on to others.

And that's all I've got say for now. Adios.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Promised Land (1989)

"Promised Land," The Style Council (1989)

The Style Council. Again. The last time we saw them, it was 1984. The latter-period Jam and early Style Council can be seen as part of the same continuum, and it was in these years (1980-85) that Paul Weller's creative juices were running at full steam. He managed to blend soul, 80s sounds and all manner of influences in order to shape a new and decidedly sophisticated sound. This five year period would be an apex that, sadly, Weller would not be able to approach for years.

The decline occurred quite abruptly. 1987's "The Cost of Loving" did away with the eclecticism of the first two albums. Instead, listeners were treated to homogeneous, faceless and excessively slick exercises in modern R&B. Then, in 1988, listeners were in for a bigger shock. "Confessions of a Pop Group" has been seen as an exercise in self-indulgence and excess. Apart from some bitter and jaded lyrics, the sound of the album is an odd blend of stale 80s clattering, stiff funk, lifeless pop and, most shockingly, classical music. In fact, half of the album is devoted to orchestral suites and crooning. Much maligned at the time of its release, it is not as bad some would suggest. It's got a creative ambition and barely-supressed aggression that was sorely lacking in the 1987 effort.

By 1989, the band was ready to released a compilation of their best work. The Singular Adventures of The Style Council was a deeply flawed but exciting primer for those who were curious about the band. To promote it, two singles were released. One was an ill-conceived re-recording of 1983's "Long Hot Summer," entitled "Long Hot Summer '89." Bedecked in irritating clinkety-clankety sounds, it submerges the original seductive bass and is sung in a lifeless manner. The other single was a cover of a house song called "Promised Land."

The original "Promised Land" came out circa 87/88. Joe Smooth's original (Myspace, YouTube) was a punchy and catchy house track that is still remembered by many house aficionados. The Style Council's version successfully assimilated the overall house sound, thus signaling another phase of the band's ever-changing sound. Their cover also adds a surprising gospel element, one that cleverly augments Joe Smooth's lyrics ("When the angels from above/come and spread their wings like doves/we'll walk, hand in hand/brothers, sisters, we'll make it to the Promised Land").

The version on aformentioned TSC compilation was just bellow the three-minute mark. The 12" single offered a lengthier version that clocked in at 7 minutes. In addition, it came with a 'Pianopella' version that stripped the track of some its housier elements. The b-side, both in Club Mix and Dub form, is a rather anonymous bit of house music.

The single, which was very much a stylistic departure from anything that the band had previously pursued, foreshadowed the end of The Style Council. The band's next album, "Modernism: A New Decade" effectively followed the house vein that characterized "Promised Land." Anonymous rave/hippy harmony lyrics supplanted Weller's critical lyrics regarding the self and society. Upon hearing the new album, the label promptly dropped the band from its roster. The new album was immediately shelved, and no singles were released (outside of Japan). The house-inflected album was not released until the band's box set came out in the late 90s.

And so, after giving you a bit of context, I give you... "Promised Land":

1. Promised Land (Club Mix)
2. Promised Land (Pianopella)
3. Can You Still Love Me? (Club Mix)
4. Can You Still Love Me? (Dub)

Download (21.28 MB)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Never Let Me Down [Single] (1987)

"Never Let Me Down [Single]", David Bowie (1987)

The general consensus regarding 80s Bowie is simple: His career took a creative nosedive. Following "Let's Dance," the rest of the decade saw the artist meander through all manner of uninspired forays into r&b influenced 80s pap. This single, from 1987's "Never Let Me Down" album, is a clear illustration of that sad dynamic.

The big, synthetic drum sound that characterized a great deal of the decade's music is here, sadly. A monotonous, unrelenting, and downright dull beat pretty much makes the song just plod along aimlessly. What's more, the vocals are delivered at an irritatingly high pitch that will surely leave fans of Bowie the Crooner dismayed. The lyrics are terribly trite as well. The only upside to the song is the sax, which does a good job at adding a bit of sassyness to an otherwise dead tune.

The 12" single here, ripped from a rather dusty slab of vinyl, gives us way too many versions of the limp song. Why am I uploading it? Damned if I know. Here's what you get:

1. Never Let Me Down (Extended Dance Remix)
2. Never Let Me Down (7'' Remix Edit)
3. Never Let Me Down (Dub)
4. Never Let Me Down (Acapella)
5. Never Let Me Down (Instrumental)
6. 87 and Cry (Single Version)

All I can say is that "87 and Cry" sort of points towards Bowie's even more tragic Tin Machine venture. But that's another story...

Download (23.01 MB)

In unrelated news, I've added even more links to this page. Frankly, there are people out there with very hip stuff that I simply couldn't manage to ever get (maybe due to my age, geography or $[or lack thereof]). So be on the lookout for new links, since I will be updating them constantly. Go ahead and check them all out... just don't kill your bandwidth or hard drive. Adios!

Friday, April 13, 2007

My Ever Changing Moods (1984)

"My Ever Changing Moods," The Style Council (1984)

Ah, The Style Council. So reviled, so flawed, and yet, so magical. Post-Jam Paul Weller and keyboard wizard extraordinaire Mick Talbot gave us years of uber-eclectic sophistipop that, for some reason, many detest. Perhaps its the polished nature of the work, or maybe its the erratic quality. Despite its overreaching and imperfections, the outfit managed to knock out some riveting music.

Following up on their first EP, the band released their first album, Café Bleu. But, sadly, Café Bleu did not land on American shores. Instead, we belatedly received "My Ever Changing Moods." In effect, its the same album, but with heavy modifications. For one thing, we lose the original version of "My Ever Changing Moods" and receive the (admittedly peppier) 12" version of the track. In addition, we lose out on two tracks found in the UK equivalent: "Me Ship Came In!" and "Council Meetin'" are missing in action. Furthermore, the running order was tampered with.

It's still a bloody good listen, and it demonstrates the breadth of this group. There's soul, pop, hard bop jazz, lounge, 80s fare, gospel, rap, and funk, among other things. It's wide-reaching, its all over the place, and its a great piece of work.

Unfortunately, the American version of the album never appeared on CD. By the time the compact disc issue of the album popped up, we Yanks also received Café Bleu. As such, I present to you all the long-lost original LP version of TSC's debut. Enjoy.

1. My Ever Changing Moods
2. The Whole Point of No Return
3. Blue Café
4. The Paris Match
5. Dropping Bombs on the Whitehouse
6. A Solid Bond in Your Heart
7. You're The Best Thing
8. A Gospel
9. Strength of Your Nature
10. Here's The One That Got Away
11. Headstart for Happiness
12. Mick's Blessings

Download (38.67 MB)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Epic Presents The Unsigned (1985)

First off, thanks for visiting this thing. I'll have to confess that I'm a CD guy at heart, but alas, given the mountains of new dreck out there, I think its worth our time to explore the rarities that have yet to pop on to the commercial CD market. With the aid of my trusty USB turntable and these dang internets, I hope to bring some of that hidden vinyl magic out to the fore. So let's begin!

"Epic Presents The Unsigned," Various Artists (1985)

For more info, check out this helpful page. The album consists of an assortment of unsigned artists from the States (although all but one are from east of the Mississippi). The styles are all over the place. Some tracks are punky power pop, while others are reminiscent of Huey Lewis and the News. Similarly, the contrast between the techno foray of Free World's "Supply and Demand" could not be any more different from The Pressure Boys, the 'cowboy punk/funksters' that gave us "Where The Cowboys Went." Overall, its a fun mix. It may lack cohesion, and some artists might be more memorable than others, but it gives us a glimpse into the mechanics of hip underground college rock in the mid-1980s.

1. Sussman Lawrence Band- Torture Me
2. The Reducers- Let's Go
3. The Pressure Boys- Where The Cowboys Went
4. The Rothchilds- Long After Summer
5. The Criminals- Under The City Lights
6. Blue Sparks From Hell- Real Man's Car
7. The Radiators- This Wagon's Gonna Roll
8. The Crime- Mad About You
9. Visions- Love Potion
10. Free World- Supply and Demand

Download (36.5 MB)