The Kinetics – Nobody Knows tape (1983)

This one had me a little frustrated.  Way back in 2010 & ’11 I shared a really solid single and full length by a solid tone-and-wave outfit going by the name of The Kinetics.  More recently I happened upon this cassette which I assumed was by the same band.  Turns out, the Kinetics I’m presenting today were in fact not one and the same, rather a New Jersey entity all to themselves, with a lineup featuring Dave Schramm and Fred Brockman.  Their bag was no-frills, rootsy pop, hearkening as far back as the fifties.  Sonically, these fellows weren’t entirely removed from say, Buddy Holly, though the Kinetics man on the mic doesn’t hold a candle to that bespeckled demigod.  “His Eyes” makes the biggest jangle among Nobody Knows half-dozen tracks. 

01. Now She’s Knocking at My Door
02. His Eyes
03. Nobody Knows
04. Yellow Hair
05. Taken All My Toys Away
06. The Last Man

Articles Origin: The Kinetics – Nobody Knows tape (1983)

The Bible! “Graceland” 7″ (1986, Backs)

This one’s three decades old, but nonetheless I failed to investigate The Bible! until far more recently.  From what I’ve been able to glean the exclamation mark on their moniker was only applied on early releases.  This Cambridge, UK combo actually had two full lengths that were apparently well circulated – Walking the Ghost Back Home (1986) and Eureka, on a major label no less, a couple years later.  Behold their first single (depicted to your left).  “Graceland” is an exemplary slice of Anglophile pop, rife with lilting folky textures a la Aztec Camera and Justin Hayward’s post-Haircut One Hundred solo forays.  The single would be released several times over in multiple formats in the years to follow.  The flip, “Sweetness” is considerably more chilled-out, gravitating towards AOR terrain.

A. Graceland
B. Sweetness

Articles Origin: The Bible! "Graceland" 7" (1986, Backs)

Ten Inch Men – Hours n Pain ep (1986)

Ten Inch Men?  Either they’re extremely short or immensely well endowed…but let’s not ponder that, eh?  For reals though, this was a Long Beach, CA quartet whom I only know of through this 12.”  My impression of TIM is at minimum somewhat favorable.  Some very synth-y goings-on here, but too muscular for the new romantic set.  Sometimes it’s difficult to discern if the Men were striving for the coliseum or the cellar.  Their scope is ambitious, a la contemporaries Then Jerico, but at moments on Hours n Pain they could’ve made a dash for considerably more interesting environs.  More Ten Inch Men records were to follow, though I’ve yet to encounter them.

01. Flower Power
02. Bars of Time
03. Brick Wall
04. New Eyes

Articles Origin: Ten Inch Men – Hours n Pain ep (1986)

It’s a one time thing, it just happens a lot…

Thirty years ago if you had predicted that at some point in my life I’d be actively hunting down Suzanne Vega bootlegs I would have laughed you out of the room.  Needless to a say a lot can happen in three whole decades, and indeed a lot did, including some much belated appreciation for the songstress in question.  Back in ’87 it didn’t take long for my cynical ears to get burned out on “Luka,” and ditto for her acapella chestnut, “Tom’s Diner.”  So what prompted me to pick up a pre-owned cassette of her first album (self titled, 1985) somewhere in the late ’00s?  Curiosity, and a sincere hope that pre-breakthrough Vega might hold a little something for me. 

I wasn’t scared off by the “folk” tag that was so ubiquitously doled out by the music press, and even if it were apropos I didn’t take issue with it.  Turns out she was no heir to Joan Baez or the like, rather a humble singer-songwriter with integrity for miles and a solid grasp on human emotion.  Vega’s delivery may have exuded surface-level quiet, but thematically, people and events in her realm were ostensibly disquieting.  Again, the tangible conveyance of her songs were subtle to a fault, yet under the surface a geyser lay in waiting.  I recall her commenting in an interview once that she was a fan of minor chords in songs.  That’s relatively easy to concur with her early recordings, though I haven’t heard enough about Vega’s melody factor, which makes itself evident on “Cracking” and “Marlene on the Wall.”  And her nimble guitar finagling?  Merely the icing on the cake.  In a nutshell, it only took twenty and some-odd years, but, I became a pretty big aficionado of that first Suzanne Vega record.

Presented here are five demos that were gently spruced up for Suzanne Vega.  They hold more charm to me than the album versions, even if the differences aren’t particularly stark.  I’ve got a fantastic FM radio broadcast for you as well of her performance at the Speakeasy in New York, circa the spring of 1985.  She pulls off the “storyteller” thing quite well, no?  Whether you’re new to Suzanne Vega or an an established customer comment as you see fit.

1984 demo
01. Straight Wells
02. Small Blue Thing
03. Marlene on the Wall
04. Cracking
05. Undertow

MP3  or  FLAC

4/17/85 @ The Speakeasy, NYC
01 intro
02 Tom’s Diner
03 Small Blue Thing
04 Some Journey
05 Cracking
06 The Queen And The Soldier
07 song intro
08 Knight Moves
09 Freeze Tag
10 song intro
11 Marlene On The Wall
12 Undertow
13 Straight Lines
14 song intro
15 Neighborhood Girls
16 Gypsy (Encore)

MP3  or  FLAC

Articles Origin: It’s a one time thing, it just happens a lot…

Folk Devils – Goodnight Irony (1987, Situation Two)

I think someone mentioned that they were looking for this a few years ago.  Didn’t have it then, but for better or worse, voila.  The Folk Devils were a cantankerous lot, part ornery cowpunk, part dissonant and unwieldy distorto-rawk.  Mouthpiece Ian Lowery commandeers his quartet’s collective mess coming off as a loose approximation of Stan Ridgeway and John Lydon, albeit at times not sounding like either in the least. To his credit, he pulls off the spoke/sung card adeptly, so long as the song is worth a damn.  That quotient is about half and half on Goodnight Irony, not so much a proper LP, rather a comp of the Devil’s entire repertoire up to 1987… adorned with a pretty spiffy album jacket I might add.  Your best bets here are the tense, driving bookends, “Hank Turns Blue” and “Chewing the Flesh.”  “Art Ghetto,” and the spaghetti western sway of “Where the Buffalo Roam” are kinda of a hoot as well.  Furthermore, if you dug those first couple of Didjits albums, …Irony is sure to pack plenty of appeal.

01. Hank Turns Blue
02. English Disease
03. Where the Buffalo Roam
04. Beautiful Monster
05. Wail
06. Nice People
07. Albino
08. Brian Jones’ Bastard Son
09. It Drags On
10. Evil Eye
11. Art Ghetto
12. Chewing the Flesh

Articles Origin: Folk Devils – Goodnight Irony (1987, Situation Two)