Sunday, August 24, 2008

Xymox - Blind Hearts (Dance Mix)

Clan Of Xymox tracks have long been staples on the playlists of goth clubs all around the world. They started out on the 4AD label (along with bands like Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Colourbox, The Pixies, and Modern English) and stayed with them until they signed with Wing Records and dropped the "Clan Of" from their name and became known simply as Xymox.

This week's track was the last track they recorded with 4AD. Earlier material was much darker, but with the release of "Blind Hearts", the band started recording some of the most accessible music of their career. The 12-inch single for "Blind Hearts" was released on 4AD, but the full-length album it appeared on (Twist Of Shadows) was released on Wing (a subsidiary of Polygram) and was folowed by two other singles ("Imagination" and "Obsession").

After Twist Of Shadows, Xymox sort of faded into mediocrity. They signed with a number of subsequent labels (Tess, Metropolis, Pandemonium, and Zok to name a few) but could never re-capture the magic. This week's track is taken from the 5" CD single for Imagination. In all my years of collecting, I have only seen this CD single once, and that was the day I bought it. It's too bad tracks like this are so rare. They deserve a bigger audience.

Artist: Xymox
Title: Blind Hearts (Dance Mix)
From: Imagination CD5
Time: 6.05

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Order - Mesh

New Order is about to re-release a number of their classic album as two disc "Special Edition" sets. I put special edition in quotes because those of us who have seen the projected track listing are more than a little disappointed. It's the same old rehash of tracks that have been released ad infinitum. Tracks like Dub Vulture, The Perfect Pit, Shellcock, and Beach Buggy (all which have been long sought after vinyl-only tracks) look as if they'll be overlooked again. Very disappointing indeed. I can only hope that the announced track listing will be updated before the discs actually go to press.

This week's track is a song called "Mesh". Those of you who have a CD copy of Substance probably think you've heard the song before since the song title appears on the track listing. However, due to a mis-print that has long irked New Order fans, you've actually been hearing the track "Cries And Whispers" which clocks in at 3:25. "Mesh" is only 3:02. It only appears on two CD releases, both of which are relatively hard to find and go for $50+ on eBay when they come up for sale. Those releases are both CD Singles... Everything's Gone Green and 1981-1982 New Order EP.

Now, the track listings for the new special edition sets claim that they will include "Mesh", but most of us believe that it will actually be the same old version of "Cries And Whispers" that we've dealt with release after release. If they actually get it right, this will no longer be a rarity. Let's hope they do.

Artist: New Order
Title: Mesh
From: Everything's Gone Green EP
Time: 3.00

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kissing The Pink - Certain Things Are Likely (Garage Mix)

I'd really never heard much of Kissing The Pink until I picked up a 12-inch single for "Certain Things Are Likely" from a used music store back in 2001. The store had bought a huge lot of 80s/90s vinyl singles from a local radio station and was blowing them out for $1 each. I think I came home with over 50 pieces of vinyl that day (mostly from bands I'd never heard of). Though many of them turned out to be duds, I fell in love with the Garage Mix of "Certain Things Are Likely."

Because I tend to get obsessed with a band when I first discover them, I tracked down their full-length CD Certain Things Are Likely, but was disappointed to find that the album version of "CTAL" sounded nothing like the Garage Mix I'd come to love. A quick scan of their discography showed that the remix was never released on CD. I wasn't too disappointed because I'd already converted the 12-inch single to WAV format, but I couldn't completely eliminate the pops & clicks.

Fast forward seven years to March of 2008. I'd largely forgotten about tracking the mix down on CD when, on a whim, I posted a message on the New Wave forum asking if anyone knew whether or not the Garage Mix had been released on a compilation. Someone replied that it had indeed appeared on a compilation called The History Of The House Sound Of Chicago. This sounded like good news until I found out that the release I was given was a highly sought after, limited edition 15-CD compilation from Germany. After searching for the compilation on a few dozen music shop sites, I checked eBay. Only one seller had a copy for sale. He was located in Germany and was asking $599 + $50 shipping for the set. He was also accepting "best offers". I put in a low-ball offer of $150 expecting him to ignore me. Surprisingly, he accepted my offer and 14 days later I had the box set in my hands.

Although there were a few other songs on the compilation that I ended up enjoying, I really bought the entire set just for that one track. To this day, $200 is the most I've ever spent to acquire one song.

Artist: Kissing The Pink
Title: Certain Things Are Likely (Garage Mix)
From: The History of the House Sound of Chicago (Box Set)
Time: 6.18

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Transvision Vamp - Tell That Girl To Shutup (Extended Mix)

Fronted by the irrepressible Wendy James, Transvision Vamp was formed in 1988 and signed that same year to MCA Records. The first single they released with MCA was a cover version of a Holly & The Italians tune titled "Tell That Girl To Shutup." While the name Holly & The Italians may evoke images of a 60s girl group singing sweetly on the Ed Sullivan show, they were actually a punk band that formed in the late 70s and became a staple on Blondie's various tours. They released "Tell That Girl To Shutup" in 1980 to very little fanfare. Their version of the song is raw, unproduced and struts that I-don't-give-a-shit attitude which permeated punk in the late 70s.

Tranvision Vamp's cover version (recorded only 8 years later) still maintains some semblance of the original spirit, but manages to whitewash the entire song with a chic dancefloor veneer. How could it not -- the song was produced by Zeus B. Held (known for his work with the likes of Men Without Hats and Dead Or Alive). If Holly was the leather-clad badgirl who carried a knife to school, then Wendy was the unattainable bitchy cheerleader surrounded by all the jocks.

Many people remember Transvision Vamp for the single they released the following year... "Baby I Don't Care". It rose to #3 in the U.K. whereas "Tell That Girl To Shutup" stalled at #45 (though on U.S. charts, it hit #87). Both songs would've been good choices for this week's track, so I flipped a coin and "TTGTS" won the toss.

The version I've posted is the extended version taken from the 5" UK CD Single. Another mix called 'The Knuckle Duster Mix' also exists, but it was released as part of TV's greatest hits CD so it is neither rare nor out of print. The extended version is a bit more true to the classic 12" mixes of 80s (nothing radically remixed, just extended). Enjoy!

Artist: Transvision Vamp
Title: Tell That Girl to Shutup (Extended Mix)
From: Tell That Girl to Shutup CD5
Time: 6.22