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Category Archives: Vinyl

Man-Sized Love

Just completed a special mix disc of a musical style that I call Synthy Soul. All of these tunes appeared on the Billboard pop charts between June 1985 and August 1987, a period when Prince and Michael Jackson paved the way for scores of R&B artists to embrace a more strident, synthetic and danceable sound. The mix reminds me of the many afternoons spent watching music videos on BET, hosted by that super-smooth guy who looked like the lead singer of Kool & The Gang. Ah, good times.

I’m especially proud that this mix has tracks by the era’s four “star” groups — Starpoint, Atlantic Starr, Five Star, and Midnight Star. Follow the links for some primo ’80s video goodness.
Starpoint — “Object of My Desire”
Five Star — “Let Me Be The One”
Midnight Star — “Midas Touch”
Atlantic Starr — “One Lover At A Time”

New Month, New Music

With the start of the new month, I’ve updated the Recommended column on the right side of the front page. My friend Ion sent me a mix disc recently that contained a song by Camera Obscura, “If Looks Could Kill”. I immediately gravitated toward its punchy guitars and winsome, retro-’60s female vocals — so I got their accompanying album Let’s Get Out of This Country as part of my “new music once every six months” cycle. The album was enjoyable and different, although none of the other tracks have the same immediacy as “Looks” and the lead-off, “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken”. The group is nice but not as distinctive as, say, Belle & Sebastian. If anything, these guys remind me of mopey, fey ’90s groups such as The Sundays, The Cranberries and Mazzy Star.

Also, in the course of assembling an awesome mix of “synthy soul’ from the years 1985-87 I decided I must download all of The Best of the Pointer Sisters off iTunes. Here is one of those groups that you might think in retrospect is kinda cheezy, but actually they’re kinda cool. Much of that coolness comes from the gals’ fantastic harmonies, but you also can’t deny the crispness and warmth of Richard Perry’s production. I can remember being absolutely wowed by “Automatic” when it came on the radio in 1984, and it still sounds dynamite today — beautifully layered and totally state-of-the-art. On a side note, I also remember seeing the Pointers in some computer commercial from back then, and lo and behold YouTube has it! Thank you, YouTube, and thanks to Ruth, June (R.I.P.) and Anita for brightening up my week.

Indestructibles 3


What anal-retentives do for fun — every so often I like to go through my iTunes library and take note of examples where I have three or more versions of the same song. These are the “indestructables,” songs that hold up to being done by several different artists. Assembling the latest batch resulted in lots of Bacharach, Motown, and other ’60s pop — although I don’t know why I have four renditions of “Feelin’ Groovy”, since honestly I find that song too grating and cutesy-poo. Six “Walk On By”s is more like it. Outstanding. What are your indestructibles? (art is from Ethel Smith’s Hit Party vinyl LP cover)

(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me — Lou Johnson, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Naked Eyes, Sue Raney
Aguas de Marco — Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina, Stan Getz, Trio Mocoto
Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In — The Fifth Dimension, Diana Ross & The Supremes, James Last
Baby It’s You — The Beatles, The Shirelles, Smith
Baby, I Love You — The Ronettes, Andy Kim, Cher
But You Know I Love You — Bill Anderson, Dolly Parton, Evie Sands
Crying in the Rain — The Everly Brothers, The Partridge Family, Rockpile
I Say a Little Prayer — Burt Bacharach, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Renaissance, Brasilia Modern Six
I Want You Back — Jackson 5, Esso Trinidad Steel Band, Graham Parker
I’ll Plant My Own Tree — Eileen Wilson, Margaret Whiting, Judy Garland, Patty Duke
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me — Madeline Bell, Bryan Hyland, Nick DeCaro
Love So Fine — The Carnival, Roger Nichols & The Small Circle of Friends, The Four King Cousins, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent
Make It Easy On Yourself — Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Jerry Butler
Mas Que Nada — Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
Put Yourself In My Place — The Supremes, The Isley Brothers, Chris Clark
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head — Quarteto Forma, The Renaissance, Jimmy Ruffin
Reach Out For Me — Burt Bacharach, The Carnival, Lou Johnson
Rio — Lucio Alves, Paul Winter, Sylvia Telles
She’s Got You — Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Timi Yuro
Spinning Wheel — Barbara Acklin, Chris Clark, The Flaming Ember, The Peter Covent Band
Sugar and Spice — The Cryan’ Shames, The Searchers, Tony Hatch
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While) — Eddie Holland, Chris Clark, Kim Weston
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) — The Golddiggers, Paul Desmond, Harpers Bizarre, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent
Ticket To Ride — Alma Cogan, The Carpenters, Mystic Moods Orchestra
Trust — Paul Williams, The Peppermint Trolley Co., Roger Nichols & The Small Circle of Friends
Walk On By — Connie Francis, Dionne Warwick, Enoch Light, The Four King Cousins, The Renaissance, Sue Raney
Without Her/Him — Blood, Sweat & Tears, Julie London, Triste Janero
You’re The One — Petula Clark, Tony Hatch, The Cookies

A Bachelor Padful of Space Age Pop

Want some spiffy old music without trucking down to the Goodwill record rack? The answer can be found in PCL Linkdump’s entrée to dozens of Space Age Pop albums for download. Don’t know the legality of those links (most of the LPs are long out of print; a few might still be available on reissued CDs), so get them while you can.

If I could recommend just two of those albums, it might be Enoch Light’s fruggable arrangements of then-current pop hits on Discotheque and Discotheque, Vol. 2. That music reminds me of something that happened on old sitcoms (especially Gilligan’s Island). Whenever a character would tune into the radio, they’d have some generic “go-go” music on the soundtrack instead of a recognizable song. That’s what those two LPs sound like.

Lesley & The Lesleyettes

Kicky! Lesley Gore pursues an inattentive bookworm in “Wonder Boy”. This clip contains the two hallmarks of vintage ’60s Scopitones: gorgeously saturated color and dancing girl panty shots. For more on Scopitones, listen to Jennifer Sharpe’s NPR story (via Bedazzled!).

The Girls in Gold Boots

Anyone with a passing interest in miniskirted a-go-go ephemera should head over to Derrick Bostrom’s, where he has two albums by The Golddiggers available for download. The Golddiggers were a popular troupe of dancing chorus girls on The Dean Martin Show, appearing weekly and later spinning off to their own variety show. Singing wasn’t exactly the ladies’ primary forté, but that didn’t prevent them from recording of course. UPDATE: The albums have been removed.

Love the cover art on The Golddiggers … Today! LP (click for more detail).