Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ladytron - Oops Oh My

Back in the bad old pre-internet days, your favorite band would put out a new, exclusive track on a compilation, and you'd have to buy the whole album just to get the one song. Then of course you'd have to get all those compilations and get the one or two good songs off them and make a mix tape (or later on, CD-r).

Thank god those days are gone, otherwise there's every chance I would have missed out on this amazing track from Ladytron. I like Ladytron just fine but I wouldn't shell out for a whole compilation just to get one track by them.

This is a cover of an R&B song that I'd never heard because I haven't really liked anything remotely rap or R&B since 1992. Thanks to YouTube (there's that darn internet again, making life cool for nerdy obsessives) I just saw the original. It stinks, but check it out for a minute so you can see what amazingess has been borne out of its ashes, phoenix-style.

Here's the Ladytron version:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rogue Traders - I Never Liked You

Rogue Traders are a slick pop band from Australia, fronted by Natalie Bassingsthwaite, who used to be on an Australian soap opera. I've seen clips of it on Youtube, looks like any other soap opera to me.

Anyway, most of their songs are servicable dance/pop/rock type affairs. Sometimes they really hit it out of the park though. This track is one of those - lots of new wave charm and a hook to die for.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Sophie Ellis-Bextor has a new single out, and the b-side of it is a cover of the classic Propaganda track "Duel". It has come to my attention that there is a whole generation of pop fans out there who have no idea about Propaganda, which is a shame. I think it's great that Sophie has brought this track out, as hopefully it will inspire a whole new legion of fans to discover Propaganda and Claudia Brucken (see two posts down for more Claudia!)

"Duel" was a single for Propaganda back in 1985, replete with the usual suite of amazing ZTT 12" remixes. This is the original album version, which contains one of the most orgasmic moments in pop history - the wild piano & synth arpeggio that leads out of the instrumental break at 3:05. 20+ years later and it still gives me shivers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bootsy Collins + Kelli Ali

Bootsy is, of course, one of the funkiest human beings to ever have lived. Kelli Ali rose to fame with the Sneaker Pimps (she was called Kelli Dayton then). So, the two of them on one track is quite the dream team. And in fact the track is super good. Too bad the rest of the album is a stinker!

Big thanks to Kirkland for calling Kelli to my attention (her solo album Psychic Cat is really good).

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Claudia Brucken

Claudia Brucken came to prominence with German synthpop group Propaganda. They were mostly famous for being "the next band" on ZTT after Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit it big. They always sort of lived in Frankie's shadow, which is a shame, as their album A Secret Wish is an all time classic. After that, they broke up. Claudia married Paul Morley (the other brain behind ZTT after Trevor Horn). Propaganda eventually issued another album with a new singer, but it's pretty lightweight compared to the genius of A Secret Wish. Claudia did another project for ZTT called Act, which was pretty good. Eventually however she left ZTT and made a solo album called Love: And A Million Other Things. Produced by Pascal Gabriel, it's quite a nice little dance-pop gem. This track, "Always," reminds me a lot of Scritti Politti, which can't be a bad thing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Building Up A New Home

Shriekback was that sort of strange wonderful animal you got a lot of in the 80's: a bunch of guys from rock bands getting together to make unexpectedly electronic and/or danceable music. Dave Allen (Gang of Four) and Barry Andrews (XTC) had excellent postpunk credentials already, but when they formed the initial Shriekback lineup with Carl Marsh, I doubt anybody could have predicted what they would sound like. Funky slapped basslines, eminently danceable Linndrum rhythms, squiggly synths and some catchy but cryptic lyrics. By their second album they were in full swing churning out dancy, somewhat poppy, but never trite songs like Hand on my Heart and Under The Lights.

Today's track is New Home from Jam Science (1984).

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Colourbox was a complete oddity in the world of pop music - they were completely reclusive. No interviews, no videos, precious few pictures. They were only active for 3 or 4 years, but during that time they created some strange and wonderful music. They appeared on the 4AD label, which at the time was mostly known for goth faves like Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance. Amidst the gauzy gloom, Colourbox's brand of in-your-face technopop stood out like a sore thumb. Ivo, head of 4AD, once called them "the most subversive band on the label."

The coolest thing about Colourbox, from my perspective, was their relentless genre-hopping. Their sole album release starts with a beautiful piano instrumental, which crashes jarringly into a shredding guitar 'n' sample fest dance track, which segues into a reggae-lite electropop number, followed by a 50's doo-wop pastiche. It doesn't let up for its entire running length.

At Ivo's suggestion, they collaborated on a single with fellow 4AD artists A.R.Kane. Released under the name M|A|R|R|S, the single Pump up The Volume became a monster international hit, ushering in a new era of sample'n'scratch-based dance music. (Tim Simenon/Bomb The Bass owes his whole career to Pump.)

After Pump Up The Volume Colourbox all but disappeared. I have no idea what Stephen & Martyn are up to now. I hope they are hiding out on a tropical island, living off the royalties from Pump Up The Volume. After almost 15 years of total silence it seems unlikely they will ever make music again. At least they left behind an amazing body of work.

Picking one track to sum up their sound is impossible, so I just threw a dart at a board. Thus today's track is Manic, from their self-titled album. It features a guitar solo from some guy named William Orbit. I wonder whatever became of him.