Tag: 1984

Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Welcome to the Pleasuredome

ARTIST: Frankie Goes to Hollywood 220px-Welcome_To_The_Pleasuredome

TITLE: Welcome to the Pleasuredome

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: #33 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Relax (#10 US, #1 UK), Two Tribes (#43 US, #1 UK), The Power of Love (#1 UK), Welcome to the Pleasuredome (#48 US, #2 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover Born to Run, Do You Know the Way to San Jose, and Ferry Cross the Mercy

LINEUP: Holly Johnson, Paul Rutherford, Brian Nash, Mark O’Toole, Peter Gill. Trevor Horn, the producer, brought in a lot of session players and may have played a lot of the record himself.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Hyped to the billionth degree record is a UK sensation but kind of fizzled here in the US despite MTV and the single Relax being played every 10 seconds it seems.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Notoriety and hype are the two words that come to mind with Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The BBC banned “Relax” and they and MTV banned the first cut of the “Relax” video, which of course made the public want it even more.  220px-Welcome_to_the_Pleasuredome_2

“Relax” and “Two Tribes” were big #1 hits already, remixed quite a bit, and when included on the album along with several covers, some were disappointed. The US market was skeptical, as usual, and the overtly gay overtones of the band’s look and lyrics went over the head of many listeners (because sometimes we’re not too swift on the uptick, ya know). But there’s no real sub-text to a song like “Krisco Kisses”. It just is.

The production is incredible as the band and its songs were perfect palettes for Trevor Horn and the Art of Noise production crew. But as for the songs, some are overly long (the title track takes up the entire first side of the LP for all intents and purposes), and the band seems lost in the production, with the songs secondary to the sounds thrown out there. (The cover of “War” is a great example of this).

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There was a fake band that toured the US in 1998 that was quickly put out of action by swift action since one of the band members lived in Florida and saw an ad for the faux band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with several remixes. The original CD was a sliced up version of the double album.

 GRADE B-: There’s a happy medium between the hype and the backlash, and 35 years after the fact you can separate the good, the bad, and the way too long.

Young Fresh Fellows – The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest

ARTIST: Young Fresh Fellows            The_Young_Fresh_Fellows_-_The_Fabulous_Sounds_of_the_Pacific_Northwest

TITLE: The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None, again

LINEUP: Scott McCaughey, Chuck Carrol, Tad Hutchison

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut record for winkingly ironic band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Young Fresh Fellows made a career in the 80’s from making punk and power pop inspired rock with goofy lyrics and observations for college kids during that era. This record was a blueprint for their style.

Song titles like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Pest Control”, “Power Mowers Theme”, and “Teenage Dogs in Trouble” rather much tell you what you need to know about the songs subjects. Musically, Scott McCaughey shows his versatility with playing guitar, bass, and being the conceptual mastermind.

Some of the songs’ jokes are pretty obvious, unlike in later records where it’s a little more subtle. It’s a decent debut for a decent 80’s ha-ha band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The concept for the record was based on a 1960’s Pacific Northwest travel record put out by Pacific Northwest Bell, and they use some of the record as transitions.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B-: I chuckled.

Fleshtones – Hexbreaker!

ARTIST: Fleshtones                   220px-Hexbreaker!

TITLE:  Hexbreaker!

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Right Side of a Good Thing

LINEUP: Peter Zaremba, Keith STreng, Bill Milhizer, Jan Marek Pakulski, Gordon Spaeth

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Party album by party band seems flat as it goes along.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When does a party get boring? When the same thing happens over and over again.

The 60’s loving party band with a great energy and spirit and fun live shows didn’t translate well to vinyl, even with the exuberance of the band. Sax, organ, driving rhythms, and garage guitar give the band their basic sound. Peter Zaremba tries his best to keep the party going, but the issue is the relative same-ness of the material.

“Right Side of a Good Thing” is one that you’ve heard. Maybe the title cut. Anyway, same thing really. Chanted backing vocals, fun atmosphere, but it gets flat a bit and old.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first EP and LP aren’t streaming, which may be an issue with IRS Records old rights, and neither is their compilation of the IRS years.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B-: Individual cuts are great for mixes. But the album as a whole gets a bit wearing.

The Pogues – Red Roses for Me

ARTIST: The Pogues                                        220px-Red_roses_for_me

TITLE:  Red Roses for Me

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: #89 UK

SINGLES: Dark Streets of London, Boys form the Country Heil

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Streams of Whiskey

LINEUP: Shane MacGowan, Jem Finer, Spider Stacy, James Feamly, Cait O’Riordan, Andrew Ranken

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Punks make traditional Irish music. It works.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Punk rock can be played with a tin whistle, accordion, and banjo. Five traditional Irish songs, jigs, and reels, a song from the great author Brendan Behan, and originals by Shane MacGowan that combine punk attitude with Irish music make up this record. It definitely opens your eyes and ears on what can be considered ‘punk’.

The album is lively, raucous, and spirited. Many songs are drinking songs, or related to drinking, because, Irish, you know. Most punters know “Dark Streets of London”, but every track can be thrown into the mix as a good time track. Well, not every track as “The Auld Triangle” is a great sad Irish track.

It’s great to hear a band with a fresh sound (even though it’s rooted in an old style) put themselves out there with enthusiasm and fervor. Irish music purists may find flaws, but heck, it’s fun record with or without a pint.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: MacGowan, Stacy and Finer were in a band called The Millwall Chainsaws before they evolved into the Pogues.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, B-sides of their singles, including one of their best known songs, a cover of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. 

GRADE: A: It’s dubbed “Celtic Punk”, which is a great description. A fine debut.

Guadalcanal Diary – Walking in the Shadows of the Big Man

ARTIST: Guadalcanal Diary     

TITLE: Walking in the Shadows of the Big Man

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Watusi Rodeo, Trail of Tears

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Why Do the Heathen Rage?, Pillow Talk

LINEUP: Murray Attaway, Jeff Walls, Rhett Crowe, John Poe

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Athens scene band, jangly guitars, but a different deal than REM due to the more linear story songs and harmonies.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Hearing the guitars, you think that maybe Guadalcanal Diary cribbed something from older scenesters REM, but then when Murray Attaway sings, and the lyrics are definitely mostly straight forward story songs or love songs, with harmonies from the rest of the band, it becomes more of a second cousin band to their more famous scene-mates.

Their debut, produced by REM producer Don Dixon, show off the band’s strengths in harmonies, and creating a mood. Yet, it seems slight, since two of the tracks were instrumentals, and another was a live version of  Kum Ba Yah”.

Guadalcanal Diary had promise – a more traditional sound still with the college radio / independent streak. This debut showed off some of the things that endeared them to fans later down the road.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dixon had recorded an EP for them, and this album to put out on a local label. When they got signed, they convinced Elektra to release this record and not make them record new tracks.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, B-sides and their first EP are appended. 

GRADE: B: It’s really good in most spots, but it’s slight and seems slapped together at times.

Barrence Whitfield & The Savages – Barrance Whitfield & The Savages

ARTIST: Barrence Whitfield & the Savages             whitfield

TITLE: Barrence Whitfield & the Savages

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no

LINEUP: Barrance Whitfield, Peter Greenberg, Phil Lenker, Howard Ferguson, Steve LaGrega, Bill Mooney-McCoy

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A throwback soul man hooks up with a group of affecionadoes from the Lyres and other Boston bands to create a hot R&B revue.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Barrence Whitfield was in college in Boston and working at a record store, when Peter Greenberg of the Lyres heard him singing in the store. Soon, Whitfield and Greenberg were working together with a group of Boston-based musicians. They dubbed the band “The Savages” which fit Whitfield’s raucous vocals.

Their first album is a stomper, with some obscure R&B covers from the 60’s and originals that fit right in like “Walking with Barrence” and “Ship Sailed at Six”. A cover of “Mama Get the Hammer” fits right in with its oddball and frenetic energy.

It’s a fun time with a fun band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Whitfield’s real name is Barry White. There’s a good reason they changed it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a re-issue packs 10 more cuts onto the package.

GRADE: A-: Just try not to move during this record.

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes

ARTIST: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions           Rattlesnakes

TITLE: Rattlesnakes

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: #13 UK

SINGLES: Perfect Skin (#26 UK), Forest Fire (#41 UK), Rattlesnakes (#65 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you were hip to him back then.

LINEUP: Lloyd Cole, Neil Clark, Blair Cowan, Lawrence Donegan, Stephen Irvine

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut from songwriter and his band shows his influences, and also shows that he’s almost equal to them.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s a spot of Dylan and Television in the songs, and some soul and R&B influences in the music, and some of the production is definitely 80’s, but this debut from Lloyd Cole and his band isn’t a period piece or a homage.

Cole’s songs are more than just an ape of his idols and inspirations. Cole’s songs have strong narratives, and the backing is tight and sympathetic. He and his band allow the songs to breathe, but the arrangements also display his band’s precision and musicianship.

This was a college radio favorite in the US, and thus not many people heard it. It’s our loss.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Cole’s father was the club master at a golf club in Scotland, and that’s where this labum was written.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yep. B-sides, live cuts, the usual add-ons.

GRADE: A: We should have been hip to it.

Butthole Surfers – Butthole Surfers / Live PCPPEP

ARTIST: Butthole Surfers                          220px-Butthole_Surfers_Front

TITLE: Butthole Surfers / Live PCPPEP

YEAR RELEASED: 1983 / 1984

CHART ACTION: #21 UK Indie (!!!!!)

SINGLES: None (these were two EPs)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave, Bar-B-Q Pope

LINEUP: Gibby Haynes, Paul Leary, King Coffey, Bill Jolly. Teresa Nervosa is on the live tracks. Brad Perkins drum son two tracks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first emittance from these weirdos from Austin is chaotic, shambling, and yet after a while it makes sense, sorta. 220px-Butthole_Surfers_Live_PCPPEP_Front

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first rule of Butthole Surfers is to not take them seriously. That’s kind of obvious, but most of what they do are ingenious genre parodies with unexpected twists and turns (the ending of “The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave where Paul Leary just keeps yelling “shut up” in a defeated way and some people may not get that and just hear chaos and noise.

There is definite some form and structure and some definitely advanced ideas here. It’s just sifted through a lens of demented weirdness. The live EP showcases the same kind of derangement, with more saxophone from Haynes that adds to the entire stew of madness and his golf commentary on “Bar-B-Q Pope” is pure genius.

It may take a while for you to grasp this. Heck, it took me a while.

Brown_Reason_to_Live

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band had a hard time keeping drummers and bass players until they found Coffey, and later Nervosa.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There are a few bonus tracks – more live material and a demo.

GRADE: B+: I get what they’re doing, and it’s fun, but…it’s not for everyone

Prince – Purple Rain

ARTIST: Prince                             Princepurplerain

TITLE: Purple Rain

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: When Doves Cry (#1 US, #1 R&B, #1 Dance, #4 UK), Let’s Go Crazy (#1 US, #1 R&B, #1 Dance, #7 UK), Purple Rain (#2 US, #3 R&B, #6 UK), I Would Die 4 U (#8 US, #11 R&B, #50 Dance, #58 UK), Take Me with U (#25 US, #40 R&B, #7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Darling Nikki, Baby I’m a Star

LINEUP: Prince, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Matt Fink, Brown Mark, Bobby Z, Novi Novog, Dave Coleman, Suzie Katayama. Apollonia and Jill Jones sing on “Take Me with U”

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A brilliant soundtrack to Prince’s star turn on film.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even if it wasn’t a movie soundtrack, this would be an almost perfect album. Yet because it’s a soundtrack only enhances just how good this is. A regular soundtrack albums tends to have a flaw or two, with a song being wedged in due to the plot or licensing. Not here.

This is also the first true collaboration with the Revolution on most of the tracks. Just three of the nine tracks are Prince solo joints, with “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain” being collaborations (and the Revoution gets songwriting credit as well).

The songs also link together, not just thematically, but on the album. It’s pretty near a seamless record, with no flaws. The album spawned a lot of cover versions for almost every song.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Prince had a couple of early versions, with longer versions of “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Computer Blue”, with two other songs in place of “When Doves Cry” and “Take Me with U”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: YES! Brand new with newly released tracks.

GRADE: A+:  A fantastic album, and most incredibly, a soundtrack album that’s flawless.

Los Lobos – How Will the Wolf Survive

ARTIST: Los Lobos                                     howwillthewolfsurvive

TITLE:  How Will the Wolf Survive

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: #47

SINGLES: Don’t Worry Baby (#28 Mainstream, #57 UK), Will the Wolf Survive (#78 US, #26 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Got Loaded

LINEUP: David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, Louie Perez, Steve Berlin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut long-player showcases the versatility and chops of the East LA band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A first-time listener to this entire album, thinking of just the radio cuts, would definitely be surprised by the breadth and depth of this album.

They know how to play rock, sure, and they can sling guitars. They also can play plaintive ballads. But they’re adept at a more blues based style, and most importantly, native Norteno that to the untrained ear sound like polkas. The accordion is just as important of an instrument to them as guitar.

Vocally, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas are adept at all of the material, and their guitar playing and Higalgo’s mandolin are excellent. It’s a revelatory record and opened a lot of ears toward Mexican music.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Louie Perez co-wrote seven of these tracks, collaborating with both Hidalgo and Rosas.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A:  Fantastic album that should open one’s ears at the versatility of the band.