B-Side Beauty

This was the b-side of Roxy Music’s 1980 single “Same Old Scene” and was the first time they put out a 45 with a totally new, non-album track on the flip that wasn’t an instrumental. I think they only did it twice so it’s a rare entry in their discography.

Much as I like it when bands have original b-sides on their singles — especially ones as good as this — I wish Roxy had put this on Flesh+Blood instead, in place of the ropey cover of “In The Midnight Hour” which really blemishes an otherwise terrific album.

Download: Lover – Roxy Music (mp3)

Photo: Anjelica Huston and Manolo Blahnik by David Bailey for Vogue UK January 1974

Buried Treasure

You’ll know this song if you have Stevie Wonder’s 1980 album Hotter Than July where it first appeared. He actually wrote it way back in 1966 when it was originally recorded by Tammi Terrell but her version was never released.

Motown’s quality control was famously strict but one listen to this beauty and you’ll think they crossed the line between perfectionism and insanity if they deemed this to be not good enough.

What’s even crazier is it remained buried and unheard until 2002 when it was finally released on the amazing A Cellarful of Motown! collection which is chock full of similar unreleased gems and can’t be recommended enough.

Download: All I Do Is Think About You – Tammi Terrell (mp3)

The song was also recorded by Brenda Holloway (with what sounds like the same backing track) and that wasn’t released at the time either. Motown = Crazy bastards.

Something for the Weekend

You’d think having a hit record would mean he could afford a shirt with buttons.

This is a classic example of the 1970s AM pop which sounds glorious blaring out of the radio of a big old American car when you’re driving to the beach on a sunny Florida day. It really does, I know from personal experience.

Any time, Any place, Any where

Advertising laws in Britain permitted beer and wine to be sold on television but the harder stuff could only be advertised on cinema screens. So before a movie (and after the Pearl & Dean intro) you would get ads for Gin, Scotch, and Vodka — and even cigarettes until 1986.

The most memorable were the ones for Martini vermouth (my mother’s tipple along with Cinzano) which sold a vision of the jet-set high life with exotic locales to match any Bond movie. All these ads for illicit, adult products added to the feeling that going to the pictures was a grown-up thing to do (at least it was before all movies were made for teenagers), so even if you were sitting in some shabby fleapit of a cinema sucking on a Kia-Ora you still felt dreadfully sophisticated.

Download: International Jet Set – The Specials (mp3)

New Monday

Niki & The Dove are a Swedish duo whose new album Everybody’s Heart is Broken Now channels the synth and drum effects of the 1980s. There are a lot of acts raiding that era at the moment but these two do it without sounding like hipsters playing kitsch games. It has a sleek but emotional sound that owes a lot to the R&B jams of that decade, and with the raspy voice of lead singer Malin Dahlström crooning over the shiny chrome surfaces it often sounds like a Stevie Nicks record produced by Prince (sigh).

His Royal Genius

Fuck it. I can’t even.

Download: Money Don’t Matter 2 Night – Prince & The New Power Generation (mp3)

Funny Girl

This year is really taking the piss. I swear the death of Victoria Wood has upset me almost as much as Bowie did. She was one of the greatest comedy talents Britain has ever produced, but on a personal level she means a lot to me because my mother loved her and I have many happy memories of watching her TV shows with her. My mother could quote Victoria Wood lines the way I could with Monty Python in my teens, so I’m sad for more than just the loss of a great comedy writer and performer.

Though Wood made her name in the 1980s she existed outside of the London-centric, politically-edgy “Alternative” comedy crowd and created her own brilliant comedy universe. She was never as fashionable as them and, even though her humour could be cruelly accurate and cutting, she had a Northern working class warmth that made her less hip, but she was funnier and for longer.

She was also an influence on Morrissey, especially this song she wrote in 1978 which inspired parts of Rusholme Ruffians, and her “they didn’t know what drugs were” line in the intro may also sound familiar.

Download: Fourteen Again – Victoria Wood (mp3)

The Singles Box

This 1981 single is the last one Post-Punk squawkers Essential Logic released. A year later Laura Logic quit the music biz to join the Hare Krishnas with old buddy and former X-Ray Spex bandmate Poly Styrene.

They could be quite atonal at times but this is a sweet, bouncy record that’s about as pop as they ever got. Probably why I bought it and still have it.

Download: Fanfare In The Garden – Essential Logic (mp3)

Apparently they reformed — as everyone does these days — in 2001 but I haven’t heard any fruits of that.

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com



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