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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BRONSKI BEAT: The Age Of Remix

A strictly limited edition 3-disc dance remix companion set to the recent Bronski Beat release The Age Of Reason. Steve Bronski has been the driving force behind Bronski Beat for 35 years. This album features their most recent singer; the powerful soul-pop, multi-octave ranged Stephen Granville. The Age Of Remix reorientates Bronski Beat’s recent The Age Of Reason album; itself a contemporary remake of Bronski Beat’s landmark debut album The Age Of Consent. Featuring no less than twenty-five all new and previously unreleased remixes from a plethora of current dance floor remixers. The third disc in this deluxe 3 1/2 hour set is a bonus continuous mix by Sordid Soundz, also known as Bronski Beat programmer Ian Donaldson, which itself contains some exclusive snippets of further previously unreleased mixes.

I remember watching the video shows after school in the early ’80s, waiting to see the newest clips and the exciting new sounds that seemed to come out every week, and low and behold, I saw “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat. What a different and interesting synthpop sound, plus the video and song had meaning to it, the pain and suffering of a gay man growing up. I was fascinated and couldn’t wait to hear more from them. I saw the album in the store, picked it up and was a fan, then the video for “Why” came out and it was great. Now Jimmy Somerville is no longer with the band and has had a great solo career, and only Steve Bronski is left, but he has got a great new vocalist that takes the songs, and adds his own twist to them and does a terrific job with them. So many remixes, so many to choose from and you will definitely find one that appeals to you, I love the ones based on “Smalltown Boy” and “Why,” but I am biased since those songs are so massive and remind me of my youth. The songs are upbeat, full of energy and will cause booty shaking to happen, whether you want it to happen or not. The band did a great job finding remixers and picking great mixes for this collection.

This will get you dancing and loving the songs all over again, and will hopefully get people that weren’t there the first time, to hear them in this collection and get the message and the love for the band. Just so you know, the third CD is one long song that cannot be skipped to the next song, so just put it on and shake your thang…all night long.

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ALIEN SEX FIEND: Fiendology – 1982-2017

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Since their emergence in the early ’80s, Alien Sex Fiend have remained one of the most loved and longstanding pioneers of the Goth movement. Fusing themes of horror, humour, inner turmoil and outer space with an industrial and electronic sound years ahead of its time, the band scored countless indie chart hits, found success across Europe, America and Japan and won a dedicated, adoring fan base which exists to this day. The collection is composed of 3 CDs spanning their 35 year history, including five previously unreleased recordings, previously unreleased mixes of “Now I’m Feeling Zombified,” and “I Walk The Line.” There are two brand new tracks from their forthcoming album Possessed, plus artwork by Nik Fiend in the booklet telling the band’s story in pictures, as well as sleevenotes by Kris Needs and Youth.

With the big songs mixed in with album tracks and remixes, this collection gives fans and those curious a look at the band that is without comparison. The band has been in and out of fashion and still marches on to the sound of their own drum machine. Electric and bizarre, they continue to thrill and get people dancing to the mix of strange lyrics and the dance beats that they have been putting out with regularity. The new songs sound right at home, maybe a bit more modern, but fit in perfectly with the sound that they have molded over the years. The booklet has great stories and gives a terrific overview of the band and how they have moved through the years, giving the fans amazing music.

With all of the collections of the band out there, this has to be the one to get, great sound, a collection of obvious and less obvious tracks, and with some rarities added to the two new songs, you just can’t go wrong. Now go out and “Walk The Line” and get Zombified.

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THE KINGBEES: The Big Rock

 

The Kingbees second album The Big Rock is being re-issued with four bonus tracks. This was the band’s final release on RSO, and it features mostly originally material written by Canadian band leader Jamie James. For this special re-issue, James provides some new liner notes about the album, and has improved sound with the remastering.

Living just outside of Toronto, Ontario back in the old days of the ’80s, I got to hear this album a fair bit since local radio stations played songs from this album. I was surprised and happy to see that this was being reissued and couldn’t wait to hear it again. The remastering is terrific, clean and clear sound that makes the album sound better than ever, and a cool booklet with information about the recording. The band plays a mix of rock’n’roll, rockabilly and has a punky/new wave feel to it that just outs a smile on my face. You just want to get up and dance around when you listen to the album, especially songs like “The Big Rock,” and “Let Myself Go.” The album is a high energy party that deserved to big a bigger hit and hopefully now will reach out to those who missed it the first time around. The band doesn’t stick to a traditional rockabilly sound like later bands like the Stray Cats, instead they use that as a starting point and really just play great music. The songs still hold up to this day, which is a testament to great songwriting, well done production, and terrific playing. They have covers of Charlie Rich, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis on the original album, and a cover of the Burnettes as one of the bonus tracks.

Go out and grab a copy of this album, do yourself a favor and introduce your friends and family to this band and start a rocking party in your house as soon as you hit play. Now I need to go get their first album…..lol.

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CLOSE TO THE NOISE FLOOR: FORMATIVE UK ELECTRONICA 1975-1984

If you were around for the early New Wave era, or just curious about when it was still hungry and vital, then this is a box set that you will love. It showcases the early sounds of the synthesizer used in bands to create sounds, noises and in most cases, songs that still raise the hair on your arms. This collection has sixty tracks across four CD, a great detailed booklet, and has bands that you’ve heard of like the Human League, Blancmange, and OMD, to obscure artists that will make you try to hunt down their music….if you can……

This collection goes from the very experimental, with beeps and other strange noises making up songs, to beautiful soundscapes and early industrial. This was just as punk rock at the time as picking up a guitar, maybe more so, since a lot of these were done on homemade machines and with even cheaper materials. The CDs are packed full of songs that were made in a hurry and not with any eye on being on a chart, just made to do something in the spirit of the times and to create something. To think that a lot of these people have moved on and have forgotten about a lot of this, it’s a great collection to get people to hear things that would have been forgotten except for the greedy and horrible collectors who charge an arm and a leg for these singles online. The big song on here is the Human League track “Being Boiled,” but the others all have their charms and I’m glad to have the chance to hear a lot of music that I never had the chance to hear back then. The remastering is fantastic, especially since some of this came off of cassettes, the sound is clear and makes for a great listen.

I could go on and on about the artists and songs, but you just need to go out and get a copy of this collection. While not being definitive….and how could it ever be? The collection is a great beginning to expanding on your idea of what synthesizer music started out as, as well as being sad at how bad a lot of it turned out later in the ’80s.

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THE BANGLES: Ladies And Gentlemen…The Bangles!

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The Bangles got together and personally picked out these songs, songs from the beginning of their career and remastered for optimal sound. These sixteen tracks are from their debut single, EP, demos, live tracks and compilations. A lot of these are on CD for the first time ever. These songs feature the original line-up of Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson. Vicki Peterson, and original bassist Annette Zilinskas. Michael Steele, who replaced Zilinskas appears only on the live tracks.

I remember seeing their EP back when it first came out in 1982, and could only find it on cassette, so I picked it up and loved it so much. I played it all of the time and waited for new music from them. Of course we got new music a couple of years later and they started to blow up on video shows and radio. This is a great way for me, and those who liked them back them, as well as the curious to hear these great songs. You can hear the youthful energy and pure fun that they had during this period and it’s infectious. You get great covers of The Turtles “Outside Chance,” Paul Revere And The Raiders’ “Steppin’ Out,” and Love’s “7 And 7 Is.” The songs are pure pop that has a nice edge to them and shows that they had the chops to become big……and they sure proved that. It’s great that they have released these songs, and the remastered sound is fantastic too. The album is full of songs that should be classics, and to people who have followed them since the beginning, they are classics.

Yes, they were made in the early 80’s, and they had a 60’s sound to them, but the songs still hold up….good music is good music regardless of the era. Bands nowadays could take a page out of their songbook and realize that you need to do what you love and you will shine, even after all of these years, these songs shine like the sun.

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