Friday, September 25, 2020

Rough Trade Singles Vol 11 - Vol 13

Volume 11 includes The Raincoats, two singles by Zounds, two by Cabaret Voltaire (a 12" with a bonus 7"), the debut single from Alison Statton’s new band Weekend, and Part 3 of The Virgin Prunes’ A New Form Of Beauty project.  The 
Cabaret Voltaire singles were their last for Rough Trade.

Volume 12 starts with RT 100, a 1982 single by The Mighty Diamonds (“Pass The Kouchie” b/w a cover of The Heptones’ “Party Time”). Within months, a group from Birmingham called Musical Youth had an international hit with “Pass The Dutchie”, a ganja-free version of The Mighty Diamonds’ tune.

Australian compilation from 1984

Vol. 12 includes Scritti Politti, New York bands Cosmetic and Mofungo, Brilliant (the trio of Youth, Ben Watkins, and Jimmy Cauty), Soundtracks & Head, and the last two RT singles by Spizzenergi (RTSO-6 and RTSO-7, both from 1982).   Carmel (the soul/jazz vocalist) sang the a-side of Epic Soundtracks’ and Jowe Head’s single “Rain, Rain, Rain”.  

Volume 13 begins with “Pagan Lovesong” by The Virgin Prunes (produced by Colin Newman), followed by Weekend, the final Scritti Politti and Television Personalities’ singles before they left the label, and the debut Rough Trade singles by the Go-Betweens and Aztec Camera. We also return to the NYC funk scene with Konk and Cosmetic (both sides of RT 113). I couldn’t find the RT 102 b-side (Cosmetic’s “New Complexion”) for Vol 12.

1982 was a rough year for Rough Trade. They lost Spizz, the Scrits, the TVP's,  Cabaret Voltaire, Brilliant and Red Crayola to other labels. Pere Ubu and Wire broke up (both groups reunited in 1987). Geoff Travis and co. were looking for new talent. In our next episode, it's Roddy and Mozzy to the rescue!

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Best Of Peter Greenberg

Holy smokes, folks! This is a scorching selection from Stinky, a career-spanning compendium of classics by undersung guitar genius Peter Greenberg. This blog has trafficked in hyperbole now and again, but The Best Of Peter Greenberg is truly a ferocious florilegium of frenzied fretwork.

Boston garage punks DMZ debuted in 1976, with Peter Greenberg and JJ Rasler on guitars, and Jeff Conolly on vocals and keyboards. Bomp released a DMZ EP in 1977.  Months after DMZ’s self-titled 1978 LP, Greenberg quit, moved back to Cincinnati and formed The Customs (who were once labeled “the loudest, drunkest, most obnoxious rock & roll band in the city.")

Greenberg returned to Boston in 1980, and soon joined Jeff Connoly’s new band, The Lyres. With Mike Lewis (DMZ bassist) and Howie Ferguson from the Real Kids on drums, The Lyres recorded an EP (AHS 1005) and the immortal  “Help You Ann” single (both on Ace Of Hearts Records).  Greenberg, Lewis and Ferguson quit The Lyres at the end of 1981. 

In 1982, Greenberg and bassist Phil Lenker formed The Savages (with Ferguson on drums and sax player Steve LaGrega). Boston local Barry White was recommended as a singer, and was rechristened Barrence Whitfield.

Greenberg left the music business in 1986 (after two albums with Barrence Whitfield And The Savages).  He earned a graduate degree, got married, and raised two sons.

Two decades later, Peter Greenberg was enticed into playing reunion shows with The Customs and The Lyres. Greenberg, Lenker and Barrence Whitfield reunited The Savages in 2010.  They recruited drummer Andrew Jody (from Cincinnati band The Long Gones) and Tom Quartulli on sax. The reunited Barrence Whitfield And The Savages have released four albums since then.  

The Best Of Peter Greenberg includes songs recorded with DMZ, The Customs, The Lyres, and The Savages. It begins with “Long Gone” (The Customs’ ode to leaving Cincinnati), and ends with Greenberg back in CinCity, sitting in with The Long Gones. Thirty tunes were lovingly selected by Stinky.

For further listening, Mythkoz has you covered with more Customs, Surfadelic has plenty of DMZ and Lyres, and there's a whole lotta Barrence on Bandcamp.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Rough Trade Singles Vol 8 - Vol 10

"WORK!" is the imperative that kicks off Vol. 8. As Martin Bramah has revealed, this Blue Orchids anthem (RT 067) has its roots in "Before The Moon Falls", a song written before his departure from The Fall. Speaking of The Fall, the Slates 10" EP (RT 071) is the mass at the middle of Vol. 8.

Vol. 9 opens with trumpeter Eddie "Tan Tan" Thornton's take on "Theme From A Summer Place" (RT 076) and includes two more reggae artists: 
Jackie Mittoo (RT 082and Bunny Wailer (RT 083).

"October (Love Song)" was Chris & Cosey's first single, and the first 
Rough Trade release in both 7" and 12" formats: the 12" (RTT 078) includes several remixes, while the b-side "Little Houses" is unique to the 7" single (RT 078).

Robert Wyatt covers Ivor Cutler's "Grass" (RT 081, with Indian classical musicians Dishari on the b-side). Wyatt also sings "Jelly, Babies" on Epic Soundtracks' first solo single (RT 084).

Vol. 10 includes Lora Logic's own solo debut (RT 087), and a single by David Gamson (RT 088), which served as his introduction to Green Gartside and the subsequent reinvention of Scritti Politti as a chart-topping major label group. Also included are the first two parts of Virgin Prunes' multimedia project A New Form Of Beauty. Vol. 10 ends with the a-side of Martin Pig's single (RT 092). Martin was part of Furious Pig. I never found the b-side, "Somebody Loves You", but you may not miss it after hearing what he does to "Lovely Rita".

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Backseat's Back With Stinky

And now it's time for More Tales From The Backseat! Since the last time he swung an episode, Stinky has collected another forty fab tunes with titular and/or lyrical references to the nether regions of the automotive interior.

Stinky has crammed some big names into the backseat this time. Classic rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, John Mellencamp, and Boz Scaggs. Punks like the Dead Boys, Ramones, and Undertones. Blood, Sweat & Tears are rubbing shoulders with Blue Oyster Cult -- just take a look in the rear view mirror if you don't believe me!

There may be no room to rhumba in a sports car, but you can find Heaven in the backseat if you're lovable and limber.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

I Know Where Geoff Travis Lives: RT Singles (chapter four, verses 6 & 7)

Liliput (formerly Kleenex) starts Vol. 6, which includes two singles by The Fall (RT 048 and RT 056). two by Essential Logic (RT 050 and RT 053), more TVP's, Robert Wyatt, and Spizzenergi (RTSO 5); plus The Red Crayola, Girls At Our Best and a repress of two early Pere Ubu songs.

While Stiff Records was bringing international exposure to Akron artists, Rough Trade dug into Cleveland's proto-punk history with Ubu and The Electric Eels. Meanwhile, Mayo Thompson joined a new Pere Ubu lineup, and Mayo added Rough Trade musicians Epic Soundtracks, Lora Logic and Gina Burch to his Red Crayola collective.

Vol. 7 begins with The Missing Scientists, who were Dan Treacy (from the TVP's), Daniel Miller (musician and Mute Records founder), and Joe Foster (another musician and record label founder). 

Sadly, this is when Young Marble Giants split up. The Moxham brothers released an instrumental YMG EP (RT 059), and then formed The Gist. YMG singer Alison Statton would soon form a jazz combo, Weekend, and signed to Rough Trade. 

In addition to The Gist's first single, we have the debut of Blue Orchids (the band formed by ex-Fall members Martin Bramah and Una Baines), plus more Cabaret Voltaire, Delta 5, Liliput, and the TVP's classic "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives".
Furious Pig

Vol. 7 also includes the Furious Pig 12" EP, which I found at the Cun Cun Revival blog. This blog (also known as Surfing The Odyssey) also hosts the legendary NME/Rough Trade cassette compilation C81, so get thee hence and leave a word of thanks. Vol. 7 closes with a new Pere Ubu single (RT 066). If you are into REM's deep cuts, you may recognize a lyric from "Lonesome Cowboy Dave".

An aside: the record label Tiny Global Productions is the current home of a number of former Rough Trade artists, including Blue Orchids, The Gist, Alison Statton, The Nightingales, and Band Of Holy Joy. Folks like Martin Bramah, Stuart Moxham, and Alison Statton are still making new music. Tiny Global Productions has released some excellent reissues, plus exciting collaborations like The Nightingales with Vic Godard and Martin Bramah with Jon Langford. Check out Tiny Global Productions -- it's Bandcamp Friday!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Stinky-Stravaganza for Our 100th Post!

It took two and a half years to reach a hundred blog posts, and it would have taken much longer without the contributions and support of Stinky LePew, resident musicologist and mixologist. He is a conceptual artist: a wellspring of ideas for new series of compilations based on unique themes.

Stinky has created mixes of songs about footwear, lipstickcar trouble, and getting into trouble in the backseat. He has celebrated holidays in song (both Christmas and Halloween), and he's curated compilations that feature falsetto singers and sound effects. And don't miss his career overviews of Brian James and Stiv Bators!

Some of Stinky's more inventive concepts include Songs That Start With The ChorusAnswers To Elvis, and today's new series. Keep My Name Outcha Mouth compiles tunes by artists with names that reference famous people, places, religious figures, fictional characters, actors, and other musical performers.

Some of the names are puns (The Coal Porters, Noel's Cowards), and others are portmanteaus (The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Artimus Pyledriver).

Readers are again invited to share suggestions for future volumes in this new series. Many thanks to everyone who reads, follows, and comments on the blog. Thanks most of all to Stinky LePew, without whom post #100 would still be far away. Two more volumes of The Backseat are already cued up, plus a slew of Rough Trade singles, so stay tuned!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Rough Trade Singles Part Three

Swell Maps and Prag VEC posters in the arch window, 1979
Volume 4 begins with "Messthetics" and the rest of Scritti Politti's second Peel Session (RT 033). It ends with Cabaret Voltaire's epic Three Mantras (RT 038).

Sandwiched in between are Swell Maps' classic "Let's Build A Car" and Spizzenergi's "Where's Captain Kirk?" The latter (RTSO 4) spent almost a year atop the indie charts.

Richard H. Kirk has released new music this month under the Cabaret Voltaire moniker. His former CV partner Chris Watson is now an award winning sound recordist. Watson's current interests are evident in the "Eastern Mantra". I favored the "Western Mantra" side back in my teenage daze. Four decades later, it retains its hypnotic power. I still wonder: what's the third Mantra? Is it like the fifth head of Cerberus?

RT Singles Vol. 5 is bookended by Robert Wyatt (RT 037 and RT 046), plus the Slits/Pop Group split single (co-released with Y Records and the Finnish label Arletty). Included are The Prefects, Edinburgh's Prats, Leeds' Delta 5, and Cardiff's Young Marble Giants with the quietly devastating Final Day; plus Rough Trade's earliest venture into harmolodics, courtesy of James Blood Ulmer (backed by Olu Dara, David Murray and Ronald Shannon Jackson, among others). 1979 was a hell of a year!