SQUEEZE: The Squeeze Songbook Tour Paramount Theatre Austin, TX Sept. 17

Squeeze are a British rock band that came to prominence in the United Kingdom during the new wave period of the late 1970s, and continued recording successfully in the 1980s and 1990s. They are known in the UK for their hit songs “Cool for Cats,” “Up the Junction,” “Slap and Tickle,” “Another Nail in My Heart,” “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” “Tempted,” “Labelled with Love,” “Black Coffee in Bed,” and “Hourglass.” The group formed in Deptford, London, in 1974, and first broke up in 1982. Squeeze then reformed in 1985, and disbanded again in 1999. The band reunited for tours through the United States and the United Kingdom in 2007. In 2010, they issued Spot the Difference, an album of newly recorded versions of older material. The band’s first album of all-new material since 1998, Cradle to the Grave, was released on October 2015, followed by another album, The Knowledge, in October 2017.

In 1982, my mother and brother bought me a Sony Walkman and I had only a few tapes to listen to, so my brother was taping music for years and I got some from him and started listening to stuff I had never heard before. Squeeze was on the tape with two songs back to back taped off the radio. The first was “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell),” and the second was “Another Nail In My Heart.” I instantly fell in love with the songs and when I heard Squeeze play “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)” in concert, I got watery eyes, and I had tears coming down during “Another Nail In My Heart.” The band was tight, had a great time telling stories, doing sing-a-longs and just playing their hearts out for the packed house. Having the son of Glenn Tilbrook playing the drums was a great addition and made it feel like a get together with a bunch of friends. The acoustic set in the middle of the show was a nice mellow time, and when they played “Tempted” and had the crowd sing with them and played it mostly acoustic, the crowd was going crazy. Although they didn’t play it straight like the album version, it was given even more emotion this way. The crowd was up on their feet for the encore, singing and dancing the last few songs of the night and gave them a rousing round of applause.

X opened for Squeeze and covered a fair bit of their catalogue and played great, with lots of energy and had the crowd cheering. The show really got going when near the end of their set, they played a bunch of their punk songs and really got the crowd going.

The concert was probably one of the greatest moments of live music that I have witnessed and after 37 years of waiting, I was thrilled to have finally seen them and will cherish this forever. If you have the chance to see them live, go and have an amazing time that will put a smile on your face and joy in your heart.

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FIAT LUX: Hired History Plus 2CD Expanded Edition

This 2 CD collection brings together the entire 1980’s recorded output of synth-pop pioneers, Fiat Lux. The original Hired History album and all of the bonus tracks are appearing on CD for the very first time. Fiat Lux hail from Wakefield and were formed by Steve Wright and David Crickmore in 1982 with Ian Nelson joining soon after. The band released 5 singles for Polydor Records dating from August 1983 to January 1985. The band enjoyed minor hits with “Secrets” and “Blue Emotion.”

As a fan of synth-pop, I was a fan of this band back in the early 80s and had trouble finding their releases back then. Not very easy to find and I just gave up since even news about them was impossible to find. To my surprise, they have been collected and have finally been given the respect that they deserve…many years later. The remastering is great since Cherry Red sourced and re-mastered from the original production master tapes after months of searching tape archives and exhaustive listening sessions to trace the correct versions. So we can finally hear just how great the songs are and get them all collected here. With remixes and a couple of unreleased Bill Nelson versions, this is a great CD. Disc 1 features the band’s commercially released tracks including the band’s debut single for Cocteau Records and the five released by Polydor over the years 1982-1985. Disc Two is the lost and previously unreleased second album Ark Of Embers as the band originally intended it when it was made with producer, Hugh Jones. This album shows that the band got ripped off by the record company because it’s a great addition to the songs you already know. The CD booklet features the original album cover plus extensive sleeve notes written by band members Steve Wright and David Crickmore telling the band’s story from a unique perspective. There is also a foreword written by the producer, Hugh Jones.

A collection that I never thought would come out, but to my surprise, it’s better than I thought it would be. Great songs from a very underrated band.

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BREAKDANCE / BREAKDANCE 2: Original Motion Picture Soundtracks

Released in 1984, the movie Breakdance, or Breakin’, as it was named in the USA, celebrated the rise of “b-boy” culture, based around breakdancing and hip-hop. The film was a huge box office hit in the USA, grossing over $6 million on its opening weekend. The soundtrack, originally on Polydor Records, proved equally influential and successful, helping to spread the word about the development of black urban dance throughout the world. The album went on to sell over a million copies, such was its success that a sequel, Breakdance 2 Electric Boogaloo, followed, with another impressive soundtrack.

Back when this movie and soundtrack came out, I was completely involved in the synthpop scene from the UK and heard some electro that had the same sound and feel, and I was kind of interested in the music at least. I never was into the dancing at all, especially since some girls that I was talking to in a park were also being checked out by break dancers and after I got their phone numbers, the breakers came up to me and threatened me with a baseball bat. Not really going to instil any kind of love for breakdancing. Anyways, the music that I heard was “Cut It” by Re-Flex, who I was already a big fan of, and “Breakin’… There’s No Stopping Us” by Ollie and Jerry. I really enjoyed the music and ended up getting the soundtrack and thoroughly enjoying it. Of course, this also is where Ice-T got his start, with the poppy “Reckless” by Chris “The Glove” Taylor and David Storrs with rap By Ice-T. A big difference from where he eventually went with his music. With a lot of great songs, this was something that I really enjoyed and still do, regardless of the changes that happened in music since this was released. Now you know that the second one couldn’t be as good…right? Well, it’s almost as good, so there. My favourite song is “Din Daa Daa” by George Kranz, a fantastic electro track that I searched out the 12″ single for and scored. The songs didn’t get the blood pumping as much as on the first album, but they still sound great and I listen to them as much as the first album. Of course the term ” Part 2, Electric Bugaloo” is what I use whenever a part two is mentioned in conversation. The sound is flawless on this collection and the booklet has a ton of interesting information in it.

If you liked the movies or owned the soundtracks, this is a definite purchase, even if you are just curious, you need to get this set and get some lino or cardboard and start spinning on your head. Another very cool album from my youth that I thought I would never see or own.

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KILLER: Volume One, The Mausoleum Years 1981-1990

Whilst the “New Wave Of British Heavy Metal” movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s was raging just across the English Channel, Belgium was fomenting its own highly influential rock and metal scene, at the forefront was Killer. The power trio was founded in 1980 around lead guitarist and vocalist Paul Van Camp, Fat Leo on drums and Spooky on bass guitar and vocals, they released their debut album Ready For Hell on WEA Records. At the end of 1981, Fat Leo was replaced on drums by Double Bear for 1982’s Wall Of Sound album, which saw Killer making a greater impact beyond Belgium. Killer’s management formed the metal label Mausoleum Records, and Killer recorded the Shockwaves LP. The band disbanded in early 1987, with Paul Van Camp releasing his self-titled solo debut the same year. Spooky and Shorty decided to start Killer again in 1989, but with new drummer Rudy Simmons and a second guitar player, Jan Van Springel. Their fourth album, Fatal Attraction, was recorded in Germany and released by Mausoleum Records in 1990. Partly due to the growing popularity of grunge, Killer decided to call it a day in 1991. Killer would reform later in the decade, and were proud to release their seventh album, Monsters Of Rock in 2015, in time to commemorate the band’s 35th Anniversary. With great sound, bonus tracks and a great booklet telling the band’s story, this is a great release that shows the reach and influence NWOBHM had.

A band that only hardcore metal fans really know about, these guys, that are influenced by Motorhead, have left a legacy of great music that can now be enjoyed by more people. With their albums long deleted and going for some crazy prices, this is the perfect time to jump in and take a listen to what you may have not had a chance to hear before. Lots of great tracks, catchy choruses, and tight playing, this is the real deal metal. You get bonus tracks that are definitely a bonus, not just extra tracks that they tacked on because they found some crap sitting in the vaults. The bonus tracks on CD1 are “From Nine To Five,” “Too Wild To Tame,” “Crazy Circus” and “Chinese Woman.” The bonus track on CD2 is “Walls Of Hell.” The bonus tracks on CD3 are blistering live versions of “Shock Waves,” “Scarecrow,” “In The Name Of The Law” and “Kleptomania.”

I put this on, turned up the volume and this just blew me away with the raw power, the raging tunes and the actual enjoyment that came through. This is an essential purchase that will add some old-school metal to your collection and make you a believer that not only the UK had some great bands back in the early 80s.

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THE BUSINESS: 1980-88

1980-88 (Clamshell Boxset) (5CD)

The Business was an English Oi! band formed in 1979 in Lewisham, South London. The band lasted for four decades until their frontman Micky Fitz died from cancer in December 2016. The band was formed by school friends Steven (‘Steve’) Kent (guitar), Michael Fitzsimons (‘Micky Fitz’) (vocals), Nicholas (‘Nick’) Cunningham (drums) and Martin Smith (bass). The band has had numerous line-up changes in their career until in late 2015, Micky Fitz was diagnosed with cancer on the lymph gland and underwent radiotherapy. On 1 December 2016, it was announced that Fitz had died. This 96 track, 5 CD, six-album clamshell box features all that Oi! legends The Business recorded between 1980-88. The 20 page booklet contains detailed liner notes, lots of previously unseen pictures and clippings from the band’s archives plus scans of all relevant record sleeves.

Disc 1 features 14 tracks by the band’s original incarnation including the Indie Chart hit single “Harry May” and Oi! favourites “Product,” “Suburban Rebels,” and a cover of Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas.” The songs are mostly demos from the original band and not as punk/Oi! sounding as they later did, but it is a great start to this collection and a chance to hear the very beginnings of this great band. The second disc is the band’s debut album Suburban Rebels, an acknowledged Oi! classic now bolstered by four bonus tracks including the Indie Chart No.3 hit “Smash The Discos.” This is where I first heard the Business, and owned this album, playing it quite a bit. “Harry May,” and “Drinking And Driving” are still great songs that were played by me when I used to DJ, and still get turned up loud when they come on. You can hear the improved playing and writing that this album had over the first recordings. Disc 3 has two albums on one CD. The original “stolen” recordings meant as their first LP plus the in concert Loud Proud And Punk-Live LP which hit No.2 in the Indie Chart and was actually recorded in a studio, with crowd noise dubbed in later. The master tapes for the first album went missing after disagreements between the band’s label and the studio, forcing them to re-record the album, so this is a great opportunity to hear what the band was going for before they had to come up with another album quickly. They included a cover of Crass’ “Do They Owe Us A Living” on the CD, which is pretty good, and the “live” album with their Sex Pistols cover of “Pretty Vacant,” is a great way to hear what the band sounded like live, or at least all playing together in the studio but without the cleaning up of their sound. The fourth disc features 1985’s Saturdays Heroes LP which now has the addition of the rare Get Out Of My House 12” EP. The album proved that the band were still vital and could keep getting better and better, with great production and a bunch of blistering songs, including the fantastic title track. As a bonus, we get the remade “Drinking And Driving,” “Outlaw” and “Coventry,” plus their versions of Sham 69’s “Hurry Up Harry” and Hustler’s “Get Out Of My House.” Now that’s a killer CD! The fifth disc is 1988’s Welcome To The Real World album which saw the band expand to a five-piece with the return of original guitarist Steve Kent. The song, “Do A Runner” has always been a classic and I loved it as soon as I heard it for the first time. A great song that still gets me singing long after all these years. This album is just as strong and tight as you would hope from them and will definitely get you shouting from the terraces. The bonuses are two songs from the Main Event gig, “Saturday’s Heroes” and “Harry May,” plus “Coventry,” “No Emotions,” the EP version of “Welcome To The Real World,” and two album out-takes, “Tina Turner” and “Get Yer Tits Out.”

Possibly one of the better collections out there since this is the classic stuff that they are so well-known for and even though they kept putting out newer albums, this is what I’ll always remember them by. If you are a crazed fan, you might have everything here, but for those that want to jump in, go for it…you won’t regret this at all, just great song after great song and the booklet is a great read too.

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PETER & THE TEST TUBE BABIES: The Albums 1982-87 (6 CD Box Set)

PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES-THE ALBUMS 1982-87-IMPORT 6 CD WITH JAPAN OBI O23

Ninety-one tracks on six CDs box set featuring the entire P&TTB recorded output between 1978-87…how can you go wrong? The first disc is the debut live album, Pissed & Proud, that hit No.2 in the Indie Chart in 1982. The Mating Sounds Of South American Frogs is on Disc 2 that hit No.7 in the Indie Chart in 1983. Disc 3 features 26 rare non-LP cuts by the band including the Indie Chart hit singles “Banned From The Pubs” (No.10), “Run Like Hell” (No.2), “Zombie Creeping Flesh” (No.2) and “Blown Out Again” (No.40). The 18 track demos collection Loud Blaring Punk Rock is Disc 4, a No.7 Indie Chart Hit. Disc 5 features the Rotting In The Fart Sack EP (No.3) plus the “Wimpeez” (No. 8) and “Keys To The City” (No.19) singles, whilst Disc 6 is the brilliant Soberphobia album from 1987, an Indie Chart No.11 hit. Each disc comes in a cardboard wallet with its original LP art and the clamshell box also contains a 20-page booklet featuring pictures of all the records, rare clippings from the band’s archive and detailed liner notes.

All I can say is wow! So much punk rock goodness and fun that it’s almost too much…almost. I have been a fan for years and have a few of these already, but with better sound, and having all of this music in one spot, how could I refuse? As much as I enjoyed the first live album, their first album proper really grabbed me and I still play the hell out of it today. Such a great true first album of studio tracks that the energy and fun still get the heart racing today. The third disc has a ton of great non-album songs on it, and truth be told, some of their best songs, that it is a hard disc to put down., I mean “Banned From The Pubs” is such a classic. The third CD has a lot of great songs but pales only because I wanted more of the studio music, not demos, but I still like it. Disc five brings back the studio tunes, some live stuff, but a whole lot of humour that will leave a smile on your face. The last CD has more of a smooth sound, still punk, but more pop, and even more catchy, but still great, that it might have made the diehards not too happy, but it’s a great bunch of songs that keep the sound of the band going in a positive direction and still is better than most so-called punk nowadays.

With improved sound, great info in the booklet and great packaging, this is the collection to get. You will laugh, you will want to shout along with the band, exactly the way that the band would love you to do. Result!

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HAZEL O’CONNOR: Sons And Lovers – Expanded Edition

Sons And Lovers is packaged in a deluxe digipack with a richly illustrated lyric booklet containing an introduction from Hazel O’Connor herself. This expanded edition of Hazel’s landmark post-punk album contains three versions of the lead UK top ten single “D- Days,” (the album version, the better known Tony Visconti remixed version and the lesser known alternate version dating from 1981). Hazel O’Connor’s second album followed her movie role in, and soundtrack album for, the feature film Breaking Glass and included songs written mostly before that project. This album produced by Nigel Gray (who had been the producer The Fall and The Police), is referred to by Hazel as being: “really my first album of songs, but it had to wait to be recorded after I’d completed Breaking Glass. The five bonus tracks included in this deluxe package are two live tracks from a 1980 live concert at the Dominion Theatre in London, a reworking of the album track “Ain’t It Funny” and a cover version of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” which features Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran who, at that time, was O’Connor’s support act. These tracks were originally featured as the B-sides of the 12” single of “Time (Ain’t On Our Side),” the second track to be taken as a single from the album. Another bonus track rarity is the very first version of “Time Is Free” that had been the B-side of Hazel O’Connor’s pre-Breaking Glass debut 1979 single.

Although not very well known here in North America, I was such a fan of new wave and British music that I had heard of her, just not heard her music since no one played it on the radio, and not a video to be seen, so why would I want this album? I did want it because I was just so crazed by the new wave scene, that I had to get as much as I could, and of course this being before the internet, I had to scour the record shops for this until I finally found it, and used too. Someone else knew of her but didn’t want it, so what, I wanted it and purchased it right away. I loved the edgy and tight playing of the album and still do to this day. “D-Days,” the lead single from Sons And Lovers, did get onto the charts in the UK, returning her to the top ten. The song was a perky, anti-poseur song based on her going to the Blitz club and seeing the preening crowd. The song has a good dose of energy and Punky/New Wave instrumental attack that I never tire of hearing. Strangely, the album didn’t set the charts on fire, even though it had a hit song on it, it just never connected with the masses and put the damper on the success that she had previously had. The album had a lot going for it and the songs were catchy and full of energy. The real treat is the bonus songs, especially if you like cover versions; her cover of Bowie’s “Suffragette City” is great and the bonus for Durannies is Simon Le Bon singing with her.

A great package, chock full of info in the booklet and with the added bonus songs, a treat for fans and something for those curious about her music. I think I will put this one in the car and listen to it on the way to work…can’t get enough of it.

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