Monday, August 29, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #134

This is going to be a short entry, mainly because there's not a lot of information out there about Colour Radio.  They remain one of those "mystery" bands: it seems that the few people who know of them and have heard them, like their music, but no one can tell you much about them.

Here's what I know: Back in my high school days, circa 1985, I was digging through the cheap cassettes bin at a local record shop (the now-defunct Camelot Records for you locals) and found a tape with a sort of New-Wavey-looking cover by the band Colour Radio.  For half a dollar, it was worth the gamble.  Took the tape home and it never left the cassette desk for the next few weeks!

What I had snagged was Colour Radio's self-titled debut album, which had been released a year earlier with little-to-no fanfare by Gold Mountain Records.  Here were ten songs without a clinker in the bunch, all done in that sort of tough pop-wave style that would evolve into the big radio-friendly sound of 1986-87, although the style was rather embryonic here, not yet fully removed from the New Romantic sounds of 1982-83.  Keyboards are a focus, but so is guitar. (The record was produced by Rick Derringer, which explains the rock-star pose that permeates each track - yet the band pulls it off without falling into the easy trap of unintentional self-parody that pose often sets one up for.)  Lead vocalist Stephan Schneider's warble vaguely recalls Ric Ocasek.  He has a habit of clipping his words (a remnant, perhaps, of earlier paint-by-numbers New Wave singing?), which adds an appealing layer of off-kilter-ness to the goings-on. 

Over the years I wore the cassette out and replaced it with a proper vinyl copy of the LP, which would appear to be the only thing the band ever did.  Never released on CD, it remains a fantastic mystery that is well worth chasing down.  The only bit of information Google searches of the band has added is that Colour Radio was from Milwaukee, WI.

So, I appeal to my readers: can anyone out there add to the story of Colour Radio? Anyone ever see them play live? Were any of you in the band?  Please share!

In the meantime, enjoy these audio-only clips of two of my favorite cuts from the album: the stunning opener "Adrianna Dreams," and the cynically wonderful "Bound For Life." Enjoy!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #133

When it comes to just plain goofy fun, it's tough to beat the group of loonies who called themselves Tenpole Tudor.  Though often lumped in with the Punk bands of the era, they demonstrated over the course of two utterly astounding albums a remarkable ability to move nimbly from punky slam to country twang to rockabilly rumble to tender ballad and back again.  They also demonstrated a steadfast reliance on the most silly side of British humor (it was not without insight that a friend of mine described Tenpole Tudor as the Punk Rock Monty Python!)

Edward Tudor-Pole first came to the attention of the general public via his appearance in the Sex Pistols' film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle and its soundtrack.  At the time, Malcolm McLaren was touting Eddie as the new Pistols lead singer, replacing Johnny Rotten.  Tudor-Pole's eccentric mannerisms and unmistakeably wobbly vocals made his contributions ("Who Killed Bambi?," "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle," and a nearly unrecognizable "Rock Around The Clock") memorable indeed; plans to install him in Johnny's stead were scrapped when The Sex Pistols finally blew apart.

Rechiristening himself as Eddie Tenpole, he found a group of like-minded musicians and presented the music world with Tenpole Tudor.  After their 1980 debut single, "Real Fun," found some traction, they released the first of their two full-length LPs in early 1981.  Eddie, Old Bob, Dick And Gary is a fantastic record from start to finish.  Its weakest tracks are saved by Eddie's vocal acrobatics, but when it hits the mark, it's jaw-droppingly good stuff.  Tenpole Tudor hit the UK charts with a number of tracks from the album, including "3 Bells In A Row," "Swords Of A Thousand Men," and their finest moment, "Wunderbar."  

Later that same year, Tenpole Tudor released a second album, Let The Four Winds Blow.  While not as consistent as its predecessors, this album has a few stunners within its grooves as well, especially the lead single, "Throwing My Baby Out With The Bathwater."  By this time, as the cover art for Four Winds shows, the band had taken to appearing in full suits of armor, and their lovable looniness had begun to pigeonhole them as something of a novelty act.  Before falling into that trap, Tenpole Tudor split up.

Eddie went back to calling himself  Tudor-Pole (or, sometimes, Eddie Tenpole Tudor), and split his time between acting and playing music of various styles - most notably, Cajun, Jazz and Swing music.  In 2009, he reformed his band, slightly renamed as Ten Pole Tudor, for a new album, Made It This Far.

The two 1981 albums are well worth searching for.  For those not inclined to spend hours hunched over used record bins in full search mode, a nifty two-disc compilation exists called Swords Of A Thousand Men. In the meantime, please enjoy this week's NW4NW offerings - three great clips from Tenpole Tudor, including "Wunderbar," "Swords Of A Thousand Men," and "Throwing My Baby Out With The Bathwater:"

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #132

It's been somewhat fascinating in recent years to see so many bands from the Punk/New Wave era being the focus of renewed interest, often reforming and hitting the road to play before both new fans and those who were there way back when. 

Such is the case the Maso sisters, Caron and Michele, who, together with backing band Kip Brown, John Gerlach, Jeff Fair and Steve Sicular, were known collectively as The Little Girls.  The Little Girls became local favorites in the early 80's San Fernando Valley scene, and thanks to airplay on LA's KROQ had two regional New Wave hits, "The Earthquake Song" and "How To Pick Up Girls," both of which appeared on their 1983 EP Thank Heaven! ("The Earthquake Song" had already been available in an earlier form on the second Rodney On The ROQ compilation LP from 1981).

Treading similar musical waters as Josie Cotton and Nikki Corvette, The Little Girls' version of '60s-girl-group-inspired New Wave bubblegum was made extra-sugary thanks to the sisters' goofily amateurish yet somehow endearing attempts at choreography in their stage act.  Pantomiming the lyrics as they sung them, they had a routine for each song; decked out in outfits that might have been found at Pat Benatar's yard sale and backed by musicians dressed like extras in every early '80s movie you can name, they were undeniably of their time.  But the songs were catchy, the music was great, and if The Little Girls didn't put a smile on your face, then you had no sense of fun.

By 1985 their time had passed and the Maso sisters went on with their lives.  In 2004, The Little Girls reunited for a one-off show in Santa Monica, CA, which sold out in one night.  Realizing there were a fair number of folks who fondly remembered them, the Masos set about assembling and reissuing whatever material they could.  First up was 2006's No More Vinyl, which combined all of the tracks from Thank Heaven! with unreleased material they had recorded in 1984/85 in hopes of landing a full album deal.  Around the same time, they also reissued a collection of very early demos (circa 1981) under the title The Polodor-Cooper Sessions.  The following year, Ramo Records issued a 4-track 7-inch of the 1984/85 demos called The Clear Album, including their excellent cover of The Dave Clark Five's "Any Way You Want It" and the shoulda-been-hit "I Really Wanna Be With You."

All of those reissues are still available, but completists will want the recently issued pair of CDs on the Masos' own ValleyPOP RecordsThank Heaven For Valleypop expands on No More Vinyl with additional tracks, while Today...And Yesterday gathers more unreleased gems from the sisters' more recent studio demos (circa 2006) as well some nifty surprises from the '80s including an interview with KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer.  Recommended stuff, guaranteed to keep you in a good mood all day!

For this week's NW4NW entry, here are both of The Little Girls' early hits, "The Earthquake Song" and "How To Pick Up Girls." Enjoy!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #131

London's The Doll were another of those blink-and-you-missed-them bands that seemed to crop up like weeds in the immediate aftermath of the first wave of Punk Rock.  Sounding a bit like The Rezillos on overdrive, The Doll first came to public awareness with their appearance on the Beggar's Banquet Records 1977 compilation Streets.  Their contribution, "Trash," stood out among those of other soon-to-be-bigger name bands like Slaughter & The Dogs, The Members and The Lurkers.

Liking what they heard, Beggar's Banquet soon issued The Doll's first single, "Don't Tango On My Heart," with "Trash" on the flipside. It was a scorching piece of vinyl, but the band was more heavily focused on live performance, and it would be a year until The Doll would be on record shelves again.

Their return to the record racks also saw them reach the height of their fame. "Desire Me," released in 1979, made the UK Top 30 and landed The Doll an appearance on Top Of The Pops.  This in turn spurred a brief media infatuation with frontwoman Marion Valentine.  The attention being focused solely on her ticked off the rest of the band, who decided to abandon her.  It would be another year before she would be back in the recording studio with a new set of band members to record the first full-length Doll LP, Listen To The Silence, and the lead single "Cinderella With A Husky Voice."  Unfortunately, both quickly sank without a trace, as did two follow-up singles.  By the end of 1980, The Doll was done, and would probably have been relegated to status as a footnote to Punk Rock history had Cherry Red Records not reissued Listen To The Silence earlier this year as a two-disc set including the early singles and assorted unreleased material.  It's well worth picking up.

For this week's NW4NW entry, here are audio clips of both sides of The Doll's incredible debut single, "Trash" and "Don't Tango On My Heart."  Enjoy!

Enhanced by Zemanta