SIX-PACK SUMMER SUGGESTIONS – PART-3

Six-Pack Summer Suggestions – Part-3 Chosen by our friend and music collaborator Claude Lemaire. "For this third installment, I selected six songs from the early 1980s featured in their 12-inch format. The first three representing well the final peak of popularity of new wave before the genre rapidly declined and just about disappeared from the map  while the last three represent more the last legs of electrofied disco prior to house and techno taking over the major club and dance scene."     


As always, if you find my recommended pressings too expensive, you can usually replace them by other more affordable pressings but be aware that the sound quality may differ quite a lot from my sonic descriptions and be wary of any digital intermediates in the complex chain.

1- Robert Palmer – "Johnny and Mary"/"What's It Take"+"Remember to Remember".                                                                                                             Island Records – 12WIP 6638 (UK) (1980, Aug.), 12", 45 rpm. Genre: synth pop, new wave.

After experiencing great success with the harder-sounding top charter "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)" in July 1979, singer Robert Palmer smoothed the rough edges the following year, switching styles to the emerging trend transitioning from new wave to synth pop–epitomized by bands such as The Cars, Soft Cell, and Depeche Mode. With its strong melodic structure and sensibility modulating over a simple fast-tempo repetitive synth run, I always had a soft spot for this particular track, preferring it to a large degree to his other hit single–"Looking for Clues"–taken from the same album, 1980s Clues. Side B features two tracks taken from the previous 1979 album Secrets, which are quite good but differ in style than side A, with a mild reggae flavor thrown in. The sound is slightly compressed but never fatiguing with a generous full-sounding bass, fine synth sweeps, crisp drums, clear guitar, and clean close up vocals. Engineer Alan Sadkin mixed the album so I am assuming–without certainty–that this is also the case here. The original UK twelve-inch single was lacquer cut by Graeme Durham at The Sound Clinic in Chiswick, London, England, and pressed by EMI Records. 

 

2- Talking Heads

"Crosseyed and Painless". Sire – PRO-A-903 (1980, Sept.), 12", 45 rpm, promo. Genre: new wave, avant-funk, afrobeat, worlbeat, dance-rock, art pop, experimental influences.

This is easily my favorite Talking Heads track, fusing several disparate musical genres into quite an original catchy crafted pop song. The New York quartet signed to Sire with their 1977 self-titled debut, and is generally considered among the first new wave acts, alongside Blondie, and Television–all of which are not truly representive of the later mainstream new wave genre spearheaded by The B-52's, The Cars, and Lene Lovich. The highly-syncopated rhythmic structure of the composition gives it a nervous hiccup-feel, setting it apart from the vast majority of pop songs. Add to that plenty of percussive elements, performance-loops, providing a rich mosaic of sounds, participating in the drive density, and addictive staccato groove. Typical of David Byrne, the verses veer more towards stated observations rather than conventional singing, while in counterpoint the choruses are richly melodic, smooth, and harmonious. From their forthcoming fourth LP Remain in Light [Sire SRK 6095], it is produced and co-written by iconoclast Brian Eno, and gives us an avant-goût of his collaboration with Byrne on their grounbreaking 1981 LP–My Life in the Bush of Ghosts [Sire SRK 6093] pioneering rhythmic loops and early sample work. Engineers Dave Jerden, John Potoker, Rhett Davies, Jack Nuber, Steven Stanley, and Kendall Stubbs are credited for the album so I assume they apply here also. I don't have this promo twelve-inch single cut at Sterling Sound in New York but given the higher speed format and short track duration it should surpass the sound of my original LP which is already good and well balanced, but slightly compressed and lacking a bit of top end air.   


3- Talking Heads 

"Once in a Lifetime". Sire – PRO-A-930 (1980, Oct.), 12", 45 rpm, promo. Genre: new wave, avant-funk, afrobeat, worlbeat, dance-rock, art pop, experimental influences.

The second single emanating from Remain in Light. There are some similarities with the first single selected above regarding the complex rhythmic groove and Byrne's strange vocal dry delivery during the verses–the choruses being more melodic. As in the former case, this one also combines multiple musical ingredients, probably producing in the end an even more original song. It would remain their most memorable track, putting aside their highest North Amercian charting single–1983's "Burning Down the House" [Sire PRO-A-2057]. Like the previous selection, I don't have this promo twelve-inch single cut at Sterling Sound in New York and pressed at Allied Record Company in Los Angeles, CA, but given the higher speed format and short track duration it should surpass the sound of my original LP which is already good and well balanced, but slightly compressed and lacking a bit of top end air.   

4- Yvonne Elliman

"Love Pains". Moby Dick Records – MDR-1201 Gold Standard series (1982), 12", 45 rpm. Genre: disco, electro disco.

Better known for her Bee Gees-penned megahit single "If I Can't Have You" from Saturday Night Fever's soundtrack in late-1977, Hawaiian-born singer Yvonne Elliman had a second but minor hit single two years later with the Steve Barri-produced "Love Pains". Fast forgotten, it took Moby Dick Records to release their re-edit version in 1982 done by Rob "Scissors" Kimbel to rekindle the flame. As mentioned this is not a remix of the original 1979 promo 12-inch single [RSO RPO 1019]–which was a "Special Dance Music Version" different from the one on her final LP Yvonne–but rather a re-edit meaning cutting, swapping, and looping certain key parts of the song such as a much longer and exciting intro and middle break with multiple drum punches. The sound is warm and very well balanced in tone with nice kick bass modulation permitting higher volume levels without ear-fatigue.  

5- Claudja Barry

"Work Me Over"/"I Will Follow Him" or A/B vice-versa. Jupiter Records – 6.20186 (Ger.) (1982, Nov.), 12", 45 rpm, Lollipop Records TC – LOL 1203 (Can.), 12", 33 1/3 rpm. Genre: electro-pop, disco, hi-NRG.

Born in Jamaica and growing up in Ontario, Canadian singer Claudja Barry then on tour in Munich, met and married German producer Jürgen S. Korduletsch in the mid-1970s and had a string of delicious disco hits starting in 1976 with "Sweet Dynamite" up to "Boogie Woogie Dancin' Shoes" in 1978, after which it went downhill–like so many disco artists as the decade drew to a close. In late 1982, they released a remake of Little Peggy March's 1963 hit "I Will Follow Him"–based on Frank Pourcel's instrumental "Chariot"–giving it an electrofied flavor. Their version is fairly interesting but it is the flip side's "Work Me Over"–co-produced by Bobby Orlando–which works me over a lot more. Depending on the pressing origin, the same two tracks are side-reversed. With its billowy bouncing bassline predating New Order's "Blue Monday" bass synth by a few months–a great mix pairing btw–the seven-minute track combines an equal measure of electro, disco, and hi-NRG rolled into a high bpm pace that catapults you onto the dance floor everytime. The sound on the right system displays a high jump factor, an incrediblly deep, dynamic, modulating bass, huge soundfield in all directions, impressive at times vocals, hypnotic melodic riff, perfect tonal balance, plays loud without ear-fatigue, and by all accounts is to die for. I haven't heard the original German release pressed by Teldec but my Canadian first press is the one I based my evaluation on.

6- Berlin

"Sex (I'm A...)"/"Pleasure Victim"+"Sex (I'm A...) (instrum.vers.)". Geffen Records – PRO-A-2004, Mercury M.A.O. Records – 812 105-1 (Neth.) (1982, Dec.), 12", 45 rpm. Genre: electro-pop, electro disco, new wave.

Extracted from their second LP–1982's Pleasure Victim–the Los Angeles-based band, produced by electronic percussionist and drummer Daniel R. Van Patten, released the provocative single sexually sung in duet by Terri Nunn and bassist and keyboardist John Crawford. Both singer's vocal styles perfectly embellish the sultry nature of the song. The electric guitar solo lends it an original edgy new wave feel to what is basically a speeded up sequencer run, mimicking "Donna Summer and Giorgio's "I Feel Love" [Casablanca NBD 20104] rhythmic pattern–similar to Divine and Bobby Orlando's "Native Love Step by Step" ["O" Records OR 717] hi-NRG single. Midway lies the break inviting deejay mixes with Soft Cell's "Bedsitter" or other tracks if one wishes. The original sound recording was made by Phonogram International B.V in Baarn, Netherlands. I have not heard the original US promo twelve-inch on Geffen remixed at Gopher Baroque Studios nor the Netherland first press but my second press Netherland copy from 1983 [Mercury 810 479-1] is excellent for the first half or so with nice crisp bass and clean upper-mids but as the track progresses towards the last half, it becomes more compressed, losing some of the punch and dynamics.   

To explore in further detail visit: Claude Lemaire/soundevaluations