I have this track in my iTunes library and I can’t remember where the hell I got it from. Whoever it was I’d like to thank them because it’s a fabulous record.
Penny Goodwin was a soul singer from Milwaukee who released her only album Portrait of a Gemini on a local label in 1974. Only 2,000 copies were pressed and, as is usual in these stories, it remained obscure until discovered by crate-diggers who elevated it to cult status with the subsequent rare prices for an original copy. Thankfully it’s been reissued and you can get a copy for a price within the reach of sane people.
“Too Soon You’re Old” is an anti-drug song with a righteous jazzy-soul vibe very much like the records Marlena Shaw was making at the same time. Enjoy.
Haven’t had anything from the lovely Clare and the boys in a while. This is from their final album Bite where they tried to sound more grown-up and sophisticated with wonderful results. Despite being easily their best album it sold less than the previous two and the band broke up. Such a shame, but I suppose it’s better to go out on a high note.
If you look up “1970s Rock-Chick Style” in the dictionary you’ll see this picture of Stevie Nicks which is pretty much the Platonic ideal of it – at least the pre-punk kind — right down to the muscle car she’s sitting on.
“Silver Springs” is a song Nicks wrote for Rumours but it got cut for space reasons (the limitations of vinyl) and ended up as the b-side of “Go Your Own Way”. She was apparently pissed off about that and I’m not surprised as it’s a great song, but what would you take out to make room for it?
This version is from the expanded reissue of Rumours.
This 1980 single is the only Psychedelic Furs record I ever bought. They were a good band, but in a crowded field of a million Bowie/Roxy-influenced post-punk acts I didn’t think there wasn’t anything that special to make me spend my Saturday job wages on them. But I obviously did like this enough.
“Mr. Jones” is from their second album Talk Talk Talk but this single version was given a bolder, brighter production which I prefer to the rawer album original. It’s less punky and shorter, but the beat has more punch to it. It didn’t make a dent in the charts so it’s one of the many “Am I the only one who bought this?” records I have.
Though this was a medium-sized hit in the UK in 1979 it became better known 10 years later when that great brass riff was sampled by S-Express which got to #1. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the original is the best.
I love how the guy is playing bongos for what is obviously a synth-drum sound.
I just finished reading Ode To Billie Joe by Tara Murtha, a new release in the 33 1/3 series of books. Straying from the template of most other titles in the series, it isn’t devoted to an in-depth analysis of Bobbie Gentry’s debut album but is instead an investigative biography of the reclusive singer who made her last album in 1971 and completely vanished from the public eye in the early 80s.
Murtha has done a lot of digging in archives and spoken to people who worked with her, but with such a big hole at the center of the story — Gentry herself — it has a Rashomon-like quality with people offering conflicting stories and opinions about the singer which only makes her more mysterious by the end. The only thing that seems clear is Gentry was something of a feminist pioneer: writing and producing her own records, and negotiating her own business deals (very successfully), at a time when it was almost unheard of for a woman artist to do so.
It’s a terrific book full of fascinating trivia (I could do without knowing Gentry was a fan of Ayn Rand though) but sadly it can’t answer the really big question: Why did the driven, ambitious, and creative woman capable of writing beautiful songs like this just…quit. As Murtha says in the book, “Only one person knows, and she isn’t talking.”
I’ve been listening to Sandie Shaw’s 1988 album Hello Angel for the first time in years and it’s way better than you’d expect for the comeback attempt of a faded 60s pop singer. Sandie’s own songs are great and her collaborations with The Smiths got the headlines, but I think the stand-out track is her cover of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s “About You” (with a slightly changed title).
I didn’t pay much attention to The Mary Chain back then so I’d never heard the original before, it’s good but I prefer Sandie’s grander and more emotional version.
The Pretenders were my favourite band in 1979 when this was filmed, even more than The Jam I think. I have a photo of me in my bedroom circa that year and there are three posters of them on the wall, and readers of this blog will know all about the massive crush I had on Chrissie Hynde, even writing letters to Smash Hits in her defense.
I was lucky enough to see the original line-up live in 1980 (with UB40 and Tenpole Tudor supporting) and I will carry the sight of Chrissie swaggering around stage in leather trousers until my dying day. The rest of the band were pretty good too as you can tell from this performance. Decided to post the entire show as it’s all great.