Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Comsat Angels "Independence Day" (1980)

  • The Comsat Angels were the forgotten band of the early post-punk phase of British independent music. That can be best ascribed to the fact that their label, Jive, wanted them to be more like Duran Duran and less like the Chameleons when in truth their affinity as they saw it was closer to the latter.

  • As a result, the band put out a slew of singles which often abrely reflected what their music was about and frequently clashed with record company executives. Most of their singles are among their more forgettable tracks as a result, but the exception is “Independence Day”. Ironically it was also one of their earliest. It has much more of the brooding, moody young man about it and is one of the best tracks from their early years.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Korgis "Everybody's got to learn sometime" (1980)

  • I have heard only some other songs by the Korgis, haven't liked them that much, so I am only praising their most famous single.

  • "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" is probably one of the best pop songs that have ever existed. Everything is in great balance, and while the recording date is 1980, you may find some "dated" effect but surprisingly, for more modern ears, the synth sound seems a bit like ambient.

  • The classic song itself lies somewhere (interesting) between 1970s soft-rock and 1980s synth-pop, offering a melody and chord changes worth calling them "genius". Check this.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

1984: Siouxsie And The Banshees "The Thorn EP"

  • "The Thorn EP" from 1984 - a splendid 4-tracker consisting of old Banshee favourites re-recorded with a full orchestra and dripping with enough drama, tension and pathos to lift the roof clean off the Royal Albert Hall......

  • This was an interesting and unique project for The Banshees: go into a studio and fully re-make 4 songs that they'd already put out on record in their early punk days - but this time with a full orchestra. The new versions change the character of the songs radically; from minimal spiky punk into powerful, majestic goth. Drummer Budgie (who hadn't been on 3 of the original versions), puts his distinctively brilliant stamp on these new versions.


Some more info about Siouxsie And The Banshees

Friday, March 28, 2008

1978: Siouxsie And The Banshees "Hong Kong Garden"

  • The 18th of August, 1978, Siouxsie and The Banshees relased their debut 45'.

  • I had bought "Hong Kong Garden" on its release, an oriental post-punk assault of the dance floor. One of the pogo-ing staples of the time. My girlfriend way back then thought she was Siouxsie Sioux (unfortunately not as attractive, and I was no Budgie).

  • Still holds a hypnotic sway over me. A brillant debut from a band, who was never less than interesting and often a whole lot more than that! Though they were lumped in with the punk movement they were from the beginning so much more than that. As this single amply proves.


Sweet Complete - 45's from 1968 - 1981

  • Sweet's origins go back to 1965, with UK soul band Wainwright's Gentlemen, which included drummer Mick Tucker and vocalist Ian Gillan. The group were limited to small UK clubs playing a mixture of R&B and psychedelia. Gillan quit in May 1965 to join Episode Six, and, later, Deep Purple. Gillan's eventual replacement was vocalist Brian Connolly. Tucker and Connolly remained with Wainwright's Gentlemen until early 1968.

  • In January 1968, Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker left Wainwright's Gentlemen to form another band, calling themselves The Sweetshop. They recruited a bass guitarist/lead vocalist named Steve Priest from a local band called 'The Army', having previously played with another local band 'The Countdowns'. Frank Torpey, a friend of Tucker's, was recruited to play guitar. It did not take long for Sweetshop to develop a following on the pub circuit, and they were signed to the Fontana record label. At the time, another UK band released a single under the same name Sweetshop, so the band shortened the name to The Sweet.

  • Their debut single "Slow Motion" (July 1968) failed to chart. Sweet was released from the recording contract, and Frank Torpey left. Steve Priest in his autobiography says Gordon Fairminer was approached to play for them when Torpey decided to leave but turned the job down as they were only receiving £15.00 per week at the time.

  • In 1969 guitarist Mick Stewart joined, and Sweet signed a new record contract with EMI's Parlophone label. Three more bubblegum pop singles were released, "Lollipop Man" (September 1969),

  • "Get On The Line" (June, 1970), which all failed to chart. Stewart then quit, and was replaced by ex-Scaffold, Mayfield's Mule, and Elastic Band guitarist Andy Scott.

  • Out of all the members, Scott had the most professional experience. As a member of the Elastic Band, he had played guitar on two singles for Decca "Think Of You Baby" and "Do Unto Others". He also appeared on the band's lone album release, Expansions On Life.

  • With the new line-up now in place, a management deal was secured with a newly formed, and unknown song writing team, consisting of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Phil Wainman was the executive producer. This management deal also included a worldwide (except U.S.) record contract with RCA Records.

  • Sweet initially attempted to combine various musical influences, including 1960s bubblegum pop groups such as The Archies and The Monkees, with more heavy rock-oriented groups such as The Who. Sweet adopted the rich vocal harmony style of The Hollies, with distorted guitars and a heavy rhythm section. This fusion of pop and hard rock would remain a central trademark of Sweet's music.

  • Another influence on Sweet's music was 1960s drummer Sandy Nelson, who partially influenced Mick Tucker's drumming style. In particular, Sweet tracks such as "Ballroom Blitz" and "Man With The Golden Arm" contain elements of Sandy Nelson's 1961 U.S. Top 10 hit, "Let There Be Drums".

  • Sweet's first album appearance was on a Music For Pleasure release: the Sweet had one side, The Pipkins (after whose sole hit, "Gimme Dat Ding", the LP was titled) had the other. The LP features the A-side and B-sides of the three commercially unsuccessful Parlophone singles before Sweet finally found success with "Funny Funny", which was the band's first single release for RCA. Despite the album cover shot of Sweet featuring Andy Scott, he was not actually a band member until "Funny Funny" and does not feature on any of these recordings. The band's guitarist then was Mick Stewart and wrote two of the featured B-sides on this compilation. The official release date was December, 1970.

  • In January 1971, Sweet made their UK television debut on a pop show called Lift Off, performing "Funny Funny".

  • In March 1971, "Funny Funny" became their first international hit, climbing to the Top 20 on many of the world's charts.

  • "Co-Co" (June 1971) became a hit (UK #2).

  • But the following single, "Alexander Graham Bell" (October, 1971) was only a minor hit (UK #33).

  • Sweet's first official album entitled "Funny How Sweet Coco Can Be" was released towards the end of 1971, failed to chart. An oddly endearing collection of Chinn/Chapman novelty tunes (including "Chop Chop" and "TomTom Turnaround") and ill-fitting pop covers (such as the Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream" and The Supremes' "Reflections"), the album on reflection stands fairly well now for devoted Sweet fans, but on release was not a serious contender on the charts, although RCA did press 10,000 copies. As the LP faded into obscurity, Sweet found themselves being labelled by music critics as nothing more than a Top 40 singles band. Furthermore, Chinn and Chapman hindered the band's chance of respectability by bringing in session musicians, a la The Monkees, to play on the records, even though the members of Sweet were competent musically.

  • The relationship between Sweet and Chinn / Chapman was becoming increasingly tense. One major reason was that Sweet were not happy with the 'bubblegum' image that was being cast on them. At the band's insistence and as a conscious contrast, their B-sides got heavier with each release; for example, "Done Me Wrong All Right", the self-penned B-side of "Co-Co" amazed some listeners who had hated the pop sound but loved their rock style and realised there was more to the band than they had thought. This dichotomy of bubblegum A-sides and heavy rock B-sides only served to confuse their teenage fan following. Indeed, The Sweet's live performances consisted of B-sides, album tracks and various medleys of rock and roll classics; rarely were the singles played live.

  • In February 1972, "Poppa Joe" was released and stopped at the gates of the United Kingdom Top 10, at number 11.

  • "Wig-Wam Bam" both peaked at #4 on the UK Singles Chart.

  • Although "Wig-Wam Bam" remained largely true to the style of Sweet's previous recordings, the vocals and guitars had a harder, more rock-oriented sound - largely because it was the first Sweet single on which the real members of Sweet played.

  • It was in many ways, a transition single, paving the way for the change of musical emphasis that came in January 1973 with "Block Buster!" (an imperative to "Block Buster", later falsely often contracted to "Blockbuster", alluding with wailing siren sounds to Blockbuster bombs of World War II), Sweet's first chart-topping single, which quickly reached #1 on the UK chart.

  • "Hell Raiser" was released in May and reached position #2, the success of which was repeated by the subsequent singles,

  • As the group's popularity grew, Sweet put in a heavy schedule of UK and European TV promotional appearances, including numerous Top Of The Pops and Supersonic slots. Sweet soon picked up a large teenage audience. In one performance of "Block Buster!" on Top of the Pops, Priest aroused complaints after he appeared wearing a Nazi uniform and displaying a swastika armband. The band also capitalised on the glam rock explosion, rivalling Gary Glitter, T. Rex, Queen, Wizzard, and Slade for outrageous stage clothing.

  • By 1974, Sweet had grown tired of the artistic control Chinn and Chapman exerted over their career, hence the group and Phil Wainman decided to record without the duo. The resulting album, Sweet Fanny Adams, was their first Top 40 entry in the UK Albums Chart. Sweet's technical proficiency was demonstrated for the first time on self-penned hard rock tracks such as "Sweet FA" and "Set Me Free". Sweet also dropped their glam rock image in favour of a more conventional hard rock appearance. In response to UK music critics, Sweet concentrated on proving their musical talents with self-written tracks.

  • The Sweet Fanny Adams album (first for the band as Sweet) also featured compressed high-pitched backing vocal harmonies, which was a trend that continued on all of Sweet's albums. Sweet, and contemporary UK band Queen, were both recognised as one of the main exponents of high-pitched harmonies during the 1970s. During sessions for the album Brian Connolly was injured in a fight in the Staines High Street. His throat was badly injured and his ability to sing severely limited. Priest and Scott filled in on lead vocals on some tracks ("Into The Night" and "Restless") and Connolly under treatment from a Harley Street specialist managed to complete the album. The band did not publicise the incident and told the press that subsequent cancelled shows were due to Connolly having a throat infection.

  • In early 1974 Sweet had received public praise from The Who's guitarist, Pete Townshend. Sweet had also frequently cited The Who as being one of their main influences and played a medley of their tracks in their live set for many years. At Townshend's invitation, Sweet were invited to support The Who, who were playing at Charlton Athletic's football ground, The Valley in June 1974. Connolly's badly bruised throat kept them from fulfilling the role. Some critics maintain that Connolly's voice never really recovered after this incident, and he was unable to sing with the strength and purity he had on their album and single releases.

  • A second album was released during 1974 called Desolation Boulevard. One of the tracks off this album was a cover of The Who's "My Generation" (not on the U.S. version of the album). This album, produced by Mike Chapman in place of the now-departed Phil Wainman, was recorded in a mere six days and featured a rawer 'live' sound.

  • The first single from the LP, the heavy-melodic "The Six Teens" (July, 1974) was a Top 10 hit in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

  • However, the subsequent single release, "Turn It Down" (November, 1974) reached only #41 on the UK chart. "Turn It Down" received minimal airplay on UK radio and was banned by some radio stations because of certain lyrical content - "god-awful sound" and "For god's sakes, turn it down" - which were deemed 'unsuitable for family listening'.

  • In 1975, RCA released a compilation album entitled The Sweet Singles Album (only issued in Australia and New Zealand). This LP featured 1972-73 single recordings, including the hits "Ballroom Blitz", "Teenage Rampage", "Block Buster" and "Hell Raiser". The album coincided with their Australian tour and was a big seller.

  • A double album, Strung Up was released in November, which contained one live disc, recorded in the UK in December 1973, and the other disc being a compilation of previously released A and B side singles (plus a new song by Chinn and Chapman - "I Wanna Be Committed").

  • Also at the end of the year Andy Scott released his first solo single titled "Lady Starlight". This was accompanied by a solo video clip of Scott playing the song. A subsequent alternative version was later added to the Japanese and U.S. versions of the 1976 Give Us A Wink album, and to the Andy Scott 30 Years CD with an alternate version. This song also appeared on the Desolation Boulevard album, but with a softer remix.

  • In 1975, Sweet went back into the studio to re-arrange and record a more pop oriented version of track "Fox on the Run", which originally appeared on the 1974 Desolation Boulevard LP. Sweet's first self-written and produced single, "Fox on the Run" (March, 1975) was released worldwide and instantly became their biggest selling hit, reaching number one in Germany and Australia, number two in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands and number five in the U.S. (1976 release).

  • The following single issue, "Action" (July, 1975) peaked at UK #15 (Since 1975, all subsequent RCA and Polydor single releases were now referred to as simply Sweet).

  • Now confident in their own songwriting and production abilities, Sweet spent the latter half of 1975 in Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, where they recorded the Give Us a Wink album with German sound engineer Reinhold Mack, who later recorded with Electric Light Orchestra and co-produced Queen.

  • January 1976 saw the release of "The Lies In Your Eyes". This single was not very successful around the world, except parts of Europe and Australia. As a result of its success, Australia was the only country to get the follow up single "4th Of July".

  • The next single was the world-wide release of "Lost Angels". This single was only popular in Germany. Give Us A Wink, Sweet's first fully produced and written LP was released in March 1976.

  • During 1976, Sweet attempted to gain popularity in America by promoting new material from their Give Us A Wink album, with a heavy schedule of more than fifty concert dates. During an appearance at Santa Monica Civic Center on 24 March, Sweet played "All Right Now" with Ritchie Blackmore as a tribute to mark the death of Free guitarist Paul Kossoff. The second single from the LP, The Lies In Your Eyes went into the Top 10 in Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia, but only reached #35 on the UK charts.

  • Between October 1976 and January 1977, Sweet wrote and recorded new material at Kingsway Recorders and Audio International London studios for their next album. In April 1977, Off The Record was released, which was Sweet's final RCA album release.

  • The first single from the album, "Fever of Love", represented the band heading in a somewhat more Europop hard rock direction. On this album, Sweet again worked with Give Us A Wink engineer Louie Austin, who would later engineer Def Leppard's On Through The Night 1980 debut album.

  • The 1976 and 1977 years featured Sweet as a more album oriented, glam metal act. Albums such as Give Us a Wink and Off the Record were undoubtedly Sweet's heaviest studio albums. Indeed, U.S. Top 20 chart entry "Action" was the group's hardest rocking hit single.

  • "Stairway To The Stars" was Sweet's final single release for RCA.

  • Sweet split from RCA in late 1977. The first album for new label Polydor, Level Headed, found Sweet experimenting by combining rock and classical sounds "a-la clavesin", an approach similar to UK band ELO - indeed "Love Is Like Oxygen" is often wrongly credited to ELO. The resulting Level Headed album represented a new musical direction with its Led Zeppelin influenced rock style, interspersed with ballads accompanied by a 30-piece orchestra. With the addition of session and touring musicians keyboardist Gary Moberley and guitarist Nico Ramsden, Sweet undertook a successful British tour in February 1978.
  • However, "Love Is Like Oxygen" (January 1978) was their last UK, U.S. and German Top 10 hit. Scott was also nominated for an Ivor Novello Award for co-composing "Love Is Like Oxygen".

  • One more single from the album, "California Nights" (May, 1978) only peaked at #23 on the German charts.

  • In late 1978, Sweet stayed at The Town House studio, Shepherds Bush, London, to write new material for their next album. Just before Connolly announced his departure, his vocals were erased from the recorded material for the ensuing album "Cut Above The Rest". Two album tracks titled "That Girl" and "Stay With Me" featuring Connolly on lead vocals remain from the late 1978 Cut Above The Rest recording sessions.

  • On February 23, 1979, Brian Connolly left the band under acrimonious circumstances, and neither he, nor the band, fully recovered. Connolly was particularly suffering from the effects of heavy alcohol drinking. Although all the Sweet members lived the extreme rock lifestyle during the 70s - with alcohol, drugs, and women, among other things - the others were not as severely affected as Connolly. Andy Scott told Mojo magazine in 2008: "I think we'd known there was a problem [with Brian] as far back as the first U.S. tour in 1975. We'd say: 'Let's try having a non-drinking day', but it was hard." After Connolly's departure, Sweet continued as a trio, with Scott and Priest now both handling lead vocals. keyboard player Gary Moberley completed the four-piece line-up.

  • In 1980 the album "Water's Edge" was released.

  • "Identity Crisis" wasrecorded in 1979 and 1980 before the group finally disbanded in 1981, but was only released in Germany in 1982. Sweet performed their last live show at Glasgow University on 20 March 1981.

Sweet Complete - 45's from 1968 - 1980

  1. Slow Motion (1968)
  2. The Lollipop Man (1969)
  3. All You'll Ever Get From Me (1969)
  4. Get On The Line (1970)
  5. Funny Funny (1971)
  6. Co Co (1971)
  7. Alexander Graham Bell (1971)
  8. Poppa Joe (1972)
  9. Little Willy (1972)
  10. Wig-Wam Bam (1972)
  11. Blockbuster (1973)
  12. Hell Raiser (1973)
  13. The Ballroom Blitz (1973)
  14. Teenage Rampage (1974)
  15. The Six Teens (1974)
  16. Turn It Down (1974)
  17. Fox on the Run (1975)
  18. Action (1975)
  19. The Lies in Your Eyes (1976)
  20. Lost Angels (1976)
  21. Fever of love (1977)
  22. Stairway to the stars (1977)
  23. Love Is Like Oxygen (1978)
  24. California Nights (1978)
  25. Call me (1979)
  26. Give the lady some respect (1980)


More info about Sweet

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jona Lewie - Some great 45's

  • Jona Lewie (born John Lewis, 14 March 1947, Southampton) is an English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

  • Lewie formed his first group, Dramatis Personae, while still at school in 1964, and started in the music industry as a session pianist, before joining the already popular cult rock band, Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, in the late 1960s. The group has been a popular live act for 40 years, their mainstream hit single being "Seaside Shuffle" (1972), released under the one-off nom de disque Terry Dactyl and The Dinosaurs, "Seaside Shuffle" was an unashamedly commercial disc, quite at odds with the Thunderbolts' usual style, and reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart.

  • However, Lewie looked likely to remain a part of a one-hit wonder until he was signed up by Stiff Records in 1977. Following appearances on the Stiff package tours, he finally scored a solo hit with the humorous synthpop number, "You'll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties" (1980) which made the British Top 20.

  • Although now one of Britain's (and, incidentally, Germany's) most familiar Christmas singles, "Stop the Cavalry" was not originally intended as a Christmas song – it was released in late November after the record label spotted the line referring to the festival: "'I wish I was at home, for Christmas'". Not only this but the specific style of the brass instruments and bells in the chorus are very noticeable as a 'Christmas' style theme. The melody is loosely based on a theme from Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 by Hugo Alfvén, and its major musical elements copied directly from Mozart's Rondo in D Major, K382.
  • He reached No 2 on the Australian chart in 1981 with "Louise (We Get It Right)", but failed to enter the Top 100 in U.K.

  • His last single for Stiff came in 1983, the lovely and quite strange "Love Detonator" flopped big time, and Jona took a long break from the music industry.

  • Lewie has not performed for many years but is currently recording a new album for release in 2008.


  1. Terry Dactyl and The Dinosaurs - Sea Side Shuffle (1972)
  2. You'll always find me in the kitchen at parties (1980)
  3. Big Shot - Momentarily (1980)
  4. Stop The Cavalry (1980)
  5. Louise (We Get It Right) (1981)
  6. Love Detonator (1982)
  7. Love Detonator (Extended Version (1983)


More info about Jona Lewie