Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Debbie Gibson - Rarities (1990-1999)


In celebration of Debbie Gibson's 46th (!!) birthday, Aug. 31, I'm putting out yet another set of her rare material -- the fifth such collection on this blog. As I've mentioned previously, I think Gibson is a much better songwriter than she gets credit for. She's enjoying something of a career revival these days with the impending airing of her much-publicized Hallmark TV movie "Summer of Dreams," which can be seen this Saturday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m., on the Hallmark Channel. But I think she deserved the long-lasting musical success that a lot of far less talented performers got that came along after her star faded.

I put together this collection myself, like I did with the Alternate Electric Youth set. As its title implies, it features all the rare tracks recorded by Debbie Gibson during the '90s. This wasn't her most commercially successful period, but she still wrote a lot of great music, some of which was hidden away.

Before getting into the track lineup, let's discuss what's not included. I left out all the songs from the 1994 soundtrack of the revival of the musical "Grease," because that would have meant including half the CD -- which is easily available anyway. Also, I didn't include remixes (with one exception) because, again, that would have meant including too many tracks.

Instead, I brought together all Gibson's non-LP B-Side tunes, plus songs from foreign edition CDs and multi-artist albums. For bonus tracks, I threw in two edits of her songs that I did myself. Info about what's what is below and also in the MP3 tags.

There is one more Gibson collection I'd like to put together in the future, and I'm calling on readers of this blog to possibly help. I'd like to create a collection of all the songs Gibson wrote for others but didn't perform herself. The problem is that I can't find any CDs by an Australian singer named JoBeth Taylor, who apparently recorded five Gibson songs. Do any of you Australians know anything about her? Some of you chimed in with info on my post about the Aussie band Cheetah, so maybe you all can help with this.

Related posts:
Debbie Gibson - 12-Inch Singles (1986-88)
Debbie Gibson - The Alternate Electric Youth (1989)
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 1 (2004)
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 2 (2005)

Track list:
1. Without You
A Japanese-only single released Nov. 1, 1990. According to Wikipedia, Gibson wrote the lyrics herself, with music written by a Japanese singer-songwriter Tatsuro Yamashita. But I find it hard to believe she didn't have at least something to do with the music because it's similar to several of her other numbers, especially "Helplessly in Love" from Electric Youth.

2. So Close to Forever
The B-Side to the single "Anything is Possible." Released Nov. 13, 1990. This one showcases Gibson alone at the piano and looks ahead to the Think With Your Heart album from 1995.

3. Anything Is Possible (Remix Edit)
Released on UK picture disc and the German version of the 7-inch single (Atlantic ‎A7735P) in 1991. There are a lot of Gibson remixes, but this one is rare enough that I thought it warranted inclusion.

4. The Most Beautiful Love Song
The B-Side of "One Hand, One Heart," which was released as a CD promo single in the US in early 1991 and as a single Japan May 25, 1991. This one could easily have been on the second side of Anything Is Possible but was left off for whatever reason.

5. Sleigh Ride
From A Very Special Christmas 2, released Oct. 20, 1992, this is a cover of the Leroy Anderson-Mitchell Parrish Christmas standard. It's also an updated take on the Ronettes' arrangement of the song. Still, she rock the hell out of it. Gibson's enthusiasm is so infectious you wonder why she didn't ever try a whole album of holiday songs -- A Very Debbie Christmas or something.

6. Love Or Lust
The B-Side of the "Losin' Myself" single released Jan. 1993. It was also the B-Side of "Shock Your Mama" which came out in March 1993. This song was easily good enough to be on the album.

7. Eyes of the Child
A Japanese-only single released March 10, 1993. It was also included on the Japanese edition of the Body, Mind, Soul CD. This one is interesting in that it presents Gibson in an a cappella setting -- and it sounds like she recorded many of the background voices herself. If so, that's pretty damned impressive. The song is retro '50s-styled ballad that would never have fit on the mother-CD, but is pretty great nonetheless.

8. Call Yourself A Lover
A bonus cut on the Japanese edition of  Think With Your Heart from 1995. This probably didn't make the album because its horn-driven arrangement is too stylistically different from the piano-based sound that dominates the album. That's a shame, because it's a great song with a powerful, catchy chorus.

9. You Know Me
Another bonus cut from the Japanese edition of  Think With Your Heart. As with the last track, this might have been left off because it doesn't fit in. In this case, it's a little too groove-oriented for that album. Wonder if it was an outtake from Body, Mind, Soul?

10. People
A cover of a song from the 1964 musical "Funny Girl," made famous by Barbra Streisand. It's from the early, limited edition of the Deborah CD, which was released in 1996 to fans club members.

11. Don't Rain On My Parade
Another cover from "Funny Girl," also found only on the limited edition Deborah CD. Both this tune and the previous one show why Gibson was so successful in musical theater. She can really let 'er rip and doesn't lose any of the nuances of her vocal style when she turns her voice up to eleven. Pretty impressive.

12. Light the World (Duet With Peabo Bryson)
A Japanese single from 1999 released on the Portazul label (CODY-1723). This duet version is track two of the four-track single.

Bonus tracks:
13. (Get On Back To) The Basics of Love
Like a lot of songs on Anything Is Possible, I found "Reverse Psychology" to be over-written. I heard a different, better song buried within all the rap sections and various choruses. So I removed the raps, made all the choruses consistent, did some restructuring, and created a new song from the old. I do a lot of edits of songs I think could be structured better. Some people have called this "disrespectful" and/or "sacrilege." I don't care. This is how I wanted to hear it.

14. This So-Called Miracle (New Single Edit)
The original single edit of the tour-de-force closing number from Anything Is Possible didn't do it justice. It kept one verse then piled on endless choruses. I tried to improve on that. I used the first verse, the first chorus, part of the second verse, the best of the two "out-choruses," and part of the coda/fade to create a new, improved single edit. (For those who care about such things, I also slightly altered the pre-chorus and "corrected" the uneven bar structure that I think marred the song's flow.) And I brought it all in at around 4:00. Ironically, that's shorter than the real single mix which leaves out more of the song.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Trouser Press - Issue #84 (April, 1983)


Another day, another Trouser Press post. This issue came out a year or so after the last one I wrote about, and a year before the magazine closed up shop. You can see the format changes the editors had put in place that were designed to lure in young readers being raised on of MTV, which was rapidly changing the music industry at that point.

The main alteration came in the front of the mag, which now had chart listings and a whole bunch of short articles on new acts. They had been slotting mini-stories up front since about 1980, but these new ones were more like capsule reviews than full articles.

Then there's the coverage itself. Trouser Press needed to sell issues, so it had to cover bands that were trendy. Unfortunately, it was no longer 1977 or even 1981, when punk and new wave were all the rage. Teenybopper music was dominant in 1983. So that meant an in-depth feature on Duran Duran -- a group Trouser Press had covered years earlier, except back then their audience was made up of British fans of the New Romantic movement, not American middle schoolers.

The changing musical landscape and ongoing recession are what apparently pushed the people behind the magazine to shut it down in 1984. That was probably a mistake, because by 1986 the indie scene would be thriving and the economy would be humming along. I'd have loved to see this magazine herald acts like Husker Du and the Replacements, both of whom got some early coverage in TP. But I digress.

Other interesting articles include a mock "greatest hits" package for the Clash and an interview with Rank & File, which included a then-unknown Alejandro Escovedo. Beatles fans should check out the feature on Trio, which has an interview with Fab Four compatriot (and Revolver cover designer) Klaus Voorman, who managed the German electronic act.

Finally, there's the flexi-disc. What's a flexi-disc? It was a plastic record given away in issues around this time, so the mag could let readers hear new music. I happened to have the one for this issue, which is the Call's "The Walls Came Down," an early MTV staple. Not only did I scan the disc so you could see it (see right), but I did a rip of it, so everyone could hear what flexis sounded like. Unlike all my other rips, this one isn't cleaned-up. In fact, I went in the opposite direction and included some audio vérité. So the MP3 file starts with the sound of the stylus being placed on the actual record and ends with the rumbling of the out-groove. How's that for realism? I wanted it to be authentic, plus I wanted y'all to have the total Trouser Press flexi-disc experience!

Related posts:
Trouser Press - Issue #67 (November, 1981)
Trouser Press - Issue #70 (February, 1982)
Trouser Press - Issue #71 (March, 1982)

Contents:
1. Divinyls
2. Modern English
3. Material
4. Swollen Monkeys
5. Doll By Doll
6. Clash
7. Duran Duran
8. Rank & File
9. Trio

Monday, August 29, 2016

Re-Up: The Style Council - Introducing: The Style Council (Vinyl Edition, 1983)


This is an update of a post I did back in April. I was unhappy with the quality of the vinyl rip I did, so I made a better one. In between April and now, I discovered various tricks and techniques to make rips sound better, so why not put them to use? While I was at it, I also upped the quality of the album art scans. So, if you got this already you might want to download it again -- it'll be a much better experience, especially with headphones. Below is my original post from April.

***

I have some bad news and some good news for anyone who bought The Complete Adventures of the Style Council.

The bad news is that the box set isn't actually "complete." It doesn't collect up everything done by the eclectic pop band Paul Weller founded in the '80s after he disbanded the Jam. But the good news is that I've done rips of some of the missing cuts here, and they're all in excellent quality.

Some of these lost tracks can be found on the mini-LP Introducing: the Style Council, a record designed to -- you guessed it! -- introduce American audiences to the group. These kinds of mini-albums were everywhere in the new wave and post-new wave era. They were a way for U.S. record companies to get new music to the public at a consumer-friendly price. The Pretenders, the Clash, Scandal, the Jam, and Cheap Trick all had E.P.s in the U.S., as did scads of other less famous acts, like SVT, Wide Boy Awake, Let's Active, Young Caucasians, Tommy Keene, and the Bluebells.

Introducing: The Style Council collected up the group's first few British singles, added in some odds and ends, and featured two exclusive club mixes of two songs, "Long Hot Summer" and "Money-Go-Round." These mixes never made it onto the box set.

Beyond that, Introducing also features songs that will be rare to fans who bought all the albums but didn't want to splurge for the box. It has an early, acoustic version of "Headstart for Happiness" and an early, piano-based arrangement of  "The Paris Match" with Weller, not Tracy Thorn, singing lead.

In all, this mini-LP is a pretty great collection of formative sounds by a group that was under-appreciated in its time. Back then, no one knew what this group was going to evolve into and the experimental flavor of these songs was exciting. (Except if you were a hardcore Jam fan who couldn't get over Weller splitting up that group. In that case, this music was like poison. But I digress.)

***

During this early period of the Style Council, there were three other stray tracks that were never put on any LP, much less the box set. I ripped these from my own copies of the records and tacked them on as bonus tracks. None of them are major finds, but if they were gonna put out a box set that's titled Complete, they should have included 'em.

First up are two tracks from the four-song 1983 UK EP À Paris. The first is a shorter edit of "Long Hot Summer." This is the edit that was also on the UK and German 7-Inch single. The version on Introducing: The Style Council is from the 12-Inch single and runs about two minutes longer.

The second song is "Party Chambers." Most Style Council fans know the vocal version of the song, because it was released as the flip of the group's first single, "Speak Like a Child," and was included on the box set and the Here's Some That Got Away collection. But the version on À Paris is completely different. It's a jazzy instrumental and a different recording -- not just a mix of the song without its lead vocal.

Conversely, the third bonus track is, in fact, a mix of a song without its lead vocal. It's vocal-less the B-Side of the band's fourth single, "A Solid Bond In Your Heart." That single had an additional B-Side, "It Just Came To Pieces In My Hands," which did make it onto the box set so I didn't include it here.

***

Beyond all this, what missing from the Complete Adventures CD (and all CD releases of these songs) are the sparkling high end frequencies you got on vinyl. That, in my opinion, is one of the elements that helped define this band's sound. There were zingy acoustic guitars, splashy cymbals, and buzzy synths. This rip, which was made from mint vinyl, should showcase those lost frequencies -- as well as several of the group's lost tracks -- loud and clear. Finally, they didn't call themselves the Style Council for nothing. They definitely had a sense of style. Dig the sleeve art of this EP and their early 45s (see right), which look great in high-quality scans.

Track list:
1. Long Hot Summer
2. Headstart for Happiness
3. Speak Like a Child
4. Long Hot Summer (Club Mix)
5. The Paris Match
6. Mick's Up
7. Money-Go-Round (Club Mix)

Bonus tracks:
All of these cuts are titled here the way they were titled on the records. "Party Chambers" was not connoted as an instrumental; "Long Hot Summer" wasn't designated as a single edit; and "Solid Bond" didn't have the word "Instrumental" in parenthesis.
8. Long Hot Summer
The shorter 7-Inch single edit.
9. Party Chambers
The instrumental take of the song. From the À Paris EP.
10. A Solid Bond In Your Heart Instrumental
The backing track without the vocal. B-Side of the "A Solid Bond in Your Heart" single. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trouser Press - Issue #71 (March, 1982)


Here's another in my series of old Trouser Press magazine scans. This one should especially interest Genesis fans, since it has an "Autodiscography" about them. Autodiscographies were an inspired idea invented by this magazine. They were autobiographical interviews, but instead of having artists discuss their lives, the artists would speak on their album releases. This one is six pages long and it's pretty revealing.

It was also mildly controversial at the time. After it was published, readers wrote letters criticizing some remarks the band members had made about departed guitarist Steve Hackett. They also took issue with the group's attitude towards some of its older music, specifically Tony Banks calling the lyrics of "Supper's Ready" "faintly metaphysical bullshit." Maybe in the future I'll do scans of the issues with those letters.

Of course, if you're not a fan of Genesis, none of this will matter much. But there are other reasons this issue was a favorite of mine. One is the interview with King Crimson, where Robert Fripp is his usual eccentric self, this time making cryptic comments about...um...chocolate cake. The Joy Division article is pretty great too, even if the writer made the mistaken claim that New Order would never escape that band's shadow: Within a half decade, New Order's dance music had attracted a new audience of young American fans who had little idea who Ian Curtis even was.

The issue also has reviews of Depeche Mode's Speak & Spell, the Cars' Shake It Up, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' I Love Rock-n-Roll, and the dB's Repercussion. The last of these inspired me to buy the album, making me a lifelong dB's fan.

Oh, and there's also an interview with a pre-fame U2, who come off as annoyingly sanctimonious as they would after they acquired zillions of fans. Give them points for consistency, I guess. This was never my thing but if it's yours, go right ahead and enjoy the article...and photos of the bass player (whose name I forget) with a ridiculous-looking blonde perm.

Related posts:
Trouser Press - Issue #67 (November, 1981)
Trouser Press - Issue #70 (February, 1982)
Trouser Press - Issue #84 (April, 1983)

Contents:
1. Roky Erickson
2. Jack Green
3. Tymon Dogg
4. Genesis
5. King Crimson
6. U2
7. Joy Division

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tony Kosinec - Bad Girl Songs (1970)


This is the second and final album singer-songwriter Tony Kosinec released on Columbia Records. He'd put out more, but they'd be on different labels and in the future.

From what I can gather, Kosinec was a New York-based musician and judging from his music, he was sort of a proto-Billy Joel or more lightweight James Taylor. As with Taylor, Peter Asher produced this album.

However, unlike with Taylor, the album didn't yield any hits. The jaunty, old-timey "48 DeSoto" was the single, but it didn't chart despite its Beach Boys-inspired chorus. Still, like a lot of the tunes here, it's pretty catchy.

This album was reissued briefly on CD in Japan in 1995, but is now out-of-print. Kosinec seems to have gotten into scoring works for film and television later on.

Track list:
1. The World Still
2. I Use Her
3. Bad Girls
4. Come and Go
5. Medley: It's Raining/Car, Car, Car
6. '48 Desoto
7. Gemini at Pains
8. Me and My Friends
9. Dinner Time
10. Wheatfield
11. The Sun Wants Me to Love You
12. My Cat Ain't Comin' Back

Friday, August 26, 2016

Gerard McMahon - No Looking Back (1983)


I first became aware of Gerard McMahon when I heard a fantastic song he did, "Hello Hello," and noticed it was featured in not one but two trashy '80s comedies I liked: "Gorp" and "Hardbodies." After doing some research, I also discovered that this power pop-ish gem was never included on any of the British-American rockers albums or singles. Bummer.

But "Hello Hello" left such an impression that when I chanced upon this album at a record show, I snapped it up immediately. I assumed there would be more first-rate power pop on it. I wasn't disappointed. Besides that, it was also selling for around $1 and the disc looked unplayed. How could I pass it up?

It's also never come out on CD and is long out of print. Because of the obscurity factor, I'm able to present it here as a high-quality rip complete with large-scale scans of the artwork.

The whole album is good, but there are two stand-out tunes that deserve to be singled out for praise. The first is the slow shuffle "I Wouldn't Take It From You," which recalls Huey Lewis and the News' hit "If This Is It." Except...that song was from 1985 and this one came out two years earlier.

The other great tune here -- and I mean really, really great tune -- is the rocker "No Sweat (It's Alright)." This song is an upbeat-teenage-fun-in-the-sun anthem that would have made a great late-'80s pop-metal hit, but really transcends any time period or genre because it's so catchy. See if you don't raise your fist instinctively when you hear this chorus. I'd say more, but I've lost all perspective on the song, since I'm playing it over and over while writing this post. That should be all the recommendation you need. Had Cheap Trick done this tune, it'd be considered a rock classic.

My references to the late-'80s and Huey Lewis' 1985 hit are not by accident. One of the most interesting aspects of this album is how ahead of its time it sounds. McMahon and co-producer Michael Ostin get an electronically-influenced rock sound that became the hit sound of the late 1980s. In 1983, when this was released, people were still fumbling toward this idea, but these guy have it down.

A few days ago, I posted about a Scott Baio album (also from 1983) and complained about the lame songwriting on it. This album is everything that album should have been: Catchy, upbeat, radio-friendly, teen-oriented, futuristic, and eminently listenable. Baio and producer Michael Lloyd should have asked McMahon if he could some songs for them. To which McMahon would have probably replied: "No Sweat (It's Alright)!"

Track list:
1. Count On Me
2. I Wouldn't Take It From You
3. No Looking Back
4. She's The Woman
5. Talking 'Bout Girls
6. (You're) Wearing My Heart Out
7. No Sweat (It's Alright)
8. When She Was Mine
9. Nickel Charm Jack
10. So Many Nights

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Charles Fox - Love, American Style (1973)


Continuing our recent run of TV-related postings, here is the soundtrack to the once-risqué television show "Love, American Style," which aired from 1969 to 1974.

It's never been released on CD and has never circulated on the Web as far as I know. The album's 1973 release date might look a little odd, because you'd assume it would have come out closer to the show's late '60s beginnings. But it is correct and can be verified by Billboard magazine's June 2, 1973 announcement that a soundtrack album was in the works.

The composer, Charles Fox, wrote music for a lot of TV show and movies. He's probably best known to pop fans for writing and arranging the instrumental, non-Association numbers on the soundtrack to "Goodbye, Columbus." That album mixed and matched vocal and instrumental cuts, but this album divides them out by side.

The first side has all the vocal tracks. And although no official LP credit is given they probably feature the Ron Hicklin Singers -- i.e. the brothers John and Tom Bahler, who sang lead on Partridge Family songs before it was discovered David Cassidy could sing. The second side is made up of instrumentals.

All of it is very evocative of its era and you're likely to be left humming all these songs after you hear them just once. And, by the way, this is billed as "Charles Fox - Love, American Style" as opposed to "Love, American Style -- Original Soundtrack" to reflect the way it's written out on the record label. The album had one of those old orange Capitol labels and they billed it as if it was simply a Charles Fox album with that title, so that's what I did here.

And that, friends, is pretty much all I know about "Love, American Style." The reason for that is that when it aired I was really young and I got sent to bed as soon as it came on. It was supposedly way too "adult" for the kids. So I can't explain much about how the music for this series related to any of the plots of the episodes. I did like the the theme song, though, and I like this soundtrack because it's all performed in that style. Now all's I have to do is watch the show.

Track list:
1. Love, American Style
2. Where Did I Go
3. New World Song
4. Lovely One
5. To Make Love Grow
6. About Her
7. Remember
8. The Brass Bed
9. Long Ago Yesterday
10. So Little Time