Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Swinging Laurels

swinging laurelsLeicester England's The Swinging Laurels reached No 1 on the U.K. independent charts with their first single "Piece of Mind" (1981 Albion). The song, a pleasant a mix of sax, voice and percussion, defined the bands sound. In 1982 they signed with WEA Records and their second single "Lonely Boy" was produced by Culture Club producer Steve Levine. The track initially featured a vocal contribution by Boy George but due to the contractual obligations of Boy's record label the song was released without his vocals. In 1983 Boy George requested that the Swinging Laurels open for them on Culture Club's sold-out UK tours. After leaving WEA Records the band formed their own label, released a few singles and fizzled out.

The Swinging Laurels were :
John Barrow - Tenor Sax, Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Gaz Birtles -Vocals, Alto SaxGuitar, Programming
Dean Sargent - Trumpet, Bass Synth, Keyboards
Mark O'Hara - Keyboards

John Barrow has written a book based on his music industry experiences called How Not to Make It in the Pop World and Gaz Birtles plays sax for The Beautiful South.

Visit the Swinging Laurels website.

The Swinging Laurels released a "Greatest Bits" collection CD but it appears to be out-of-print.

Go to the download page to get the Swinging Laurels - "Piece of Mind"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Colors

the colorsIn early 1979, Australian Robert Vickers left the band The Numbers and travelled to New York. "I went to New York, met a whole lot of people, went out to Max’s and CBGB’s. CBGB’s seemed a lot friendlier and a lot more people I liked seemed to go there more often. The night I came the Colors had played. They didn’t have a bass player so they played without one, just guitar, singer and drums. So I started talking to them and went down to the guitarist’s flat which was disgusting but interesting and just started playing with him and joined the band within a matter of a week. What I was aiming for with the Colors was more along the lines of the Rascals and the Lovin’ Spoonful, that sort of New York brightness which is sometimes confused with California. With the Colors I wanted to do a very commercial sort of thing but I still wanted to get subtlety into the Colors" (This quote comes from Clinton Walker's Book The Next Big Thing - Contemporary Australian Rock.)

After releasing a 7" EP on Infinite Records the Colors hooked up with New Jersey's legendary Johnny Dirt and the Dirt Club label for a cut on the Dirt Compilation Vol. 1, a 6-song 12", and a Clem Burke produced lp where the track "Go Go Getter" is from.

The Colors were: Tom Cookman - vocals; The Elf - drums; Charlie Pip - guitar, vocals; Paul Sass - guitar, synthesiser, vocals; Robert Vickers - bass, vocals.

Vickers went on to The Go-Betweens and Charlie Pip joined the David Johansen Group.

Johnny Dirt can be found behind the bar at Rudi's Bar & Grill on 9th Ave. in Hell's Kitchen, NYC.

You can find three more tracks from the Colors on the excellent new "Yellow Pills: Prefill - A Power Pop Prescription" compilation released today on the Numero Group label.

Go to the download page to get the Colors - "Go Go Getter"

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Edinburgh, Scotland's TV21 were always in good company during their brief time together as a band. Teardrop Explodes' Troy Tate produced their first two independent singles. The 1981 album, "A Thin Red Line," was produced by Ian Broudie of the Original Mirrors and later Lightning Seeds. Mike Scott of the Waterboys and Pete Wylie from Wah! make appearances on their lp .They toured with the Undertones and were the opening act for the Rolling Stones for the Scottish dates of their 1982 European tour. But tensions among the band members and disagreements with Deram, their record company, brought an untimely end to the band.

TV21 were:
Neil Baldwin - bass guitar, backing vocals
Dave Hampton - trumpets, string synth , organ, backing vocals, synthesiser
Ally Palmer - acoustic guitar, guitars, backing vocals, percussion, synthesiser, 12 string acoustic
Ali Paterson - drums, percussion, guitar
Norman Rodger - acoustic guitar, 12 string acoustic, lead & backing vocals

Visit Norman Rodger's TV21 site to find out more about the band and download songs and demos.

Read an interview with some band members here.

Go to the download page to get TV21 - "On The Run"

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The dB's are Back!

According to Pitchfork the dB's are reuniting! Since the dB's released so much great music in the early80's, I've never considered them a great lost band that never made it but if you read their detailed bio over on their homepage you'll read the story of a band that just couldn't get a break. In fact their first two albums were never released in the U.S. until after the band broke up. (They were issued for the first time on CD in 1989 by I.R.S. and reissued together in 2001 on Collectors Choice) These first two records are notable since they include the original line up of the band that included Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Gene Holder and Will Rigby. "Stands for Decibels" (Albion, 1981) and "Repercussion" (Albion, 1982), are filled with great jangly power-pop songs but with an experimental, inventive, sonic undercurrent. After Stamey left the band in 1982 they scored a major lablel deal in the U.S. and released "Like This" (Bearsville,1984) but the record fell through the cracks when the label left its distributor. It didnt' help that the label founder died keeping their contract tied up. Next came "The Sound Of Music" (I.R.S., 1987) but label disagreements kept the band from releasing a follow up. The band called it a day in 1988.

Find out more about the dB's here or better yet, buy "Stands for Decibels"/"Repercussion" and read the extensive liner notes while you listen to the albums.

Download exclusive tracks from the dB's website.

Go to the download page to get the dB's - "Black And White"

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Fools - "Psycho Chicken"

Boston's The Fools were best known for an X-rated parody of The Talking Heads "Psycho Killer," called "Psycho Chicken". In 1979 a Boston D.J. played the song and it instantly became a local hit. They were quickly signed to EMI records who released their debut album "Sold Out" in 1980. The song was not included on the album but was included as a limited edition bonus single on colored vinyl with "bleeped" and "clucked" versions. During the 80's, the Fools opened for The Knack, The Ramones, The Cars, Blondie and many more. They continue to record and play today.

The Fools were/are: Mike Girard - lead vocals, Richie Bartlett - guitar, vocals, Stacey Pedrick - guitar, Chris Pedrick - drums, Doug Forman - bass, vocals and later Leo Black - drums, Joe Holaday - bass, vocals

Visit the Fools website, find more music and buy their latest CD

Read more about the Fools here

Read the "Psycho Chicken" lyrics and download "Psycho Chicken"

Go to the download page to get The Fools - "Psycho Chicken"

Stewart Brodian - Self Made Man and More...

New Jersey's Stewart Brodian is, to quote one of his album titles, a "Self Made Man". Prolific in the early 80's, Stewart released a slew of self-released singles and albums. Always topical, Stewart's songs commented on pop culture and politics with wit and cynicism. The single "I Hate The Video Games" b/w "Where Have All the Flower Children Gone?" (Mountain Records, 1982) is a prime example. Stewart played all instruments and sang all the vocals. Stewart's DIY spirit paved the way for today's Indie singer-songwriters like Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, Iron & Wine's Sam Beam and M. Ward.

Stewart has since moved to Pennsylvania where he's still making records and playing live, occasionally in nearby New York City. He has also added radio DJ, newspaper publisher and Howard Stern Impersonator to his impressive resume. He's even appeared twice on Mr. Stern's program.

You can visit Stewart Brodian's site here.

You can buy Stewart's latest CD here.

You can download Stewart Brodian - "I Hate The Video Games" here.