A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS: Remixes & Rarities

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This remaster of their singles and some digging through the depths of their recorded output to find songs that have been on other compilations, but some new to CD as well. A band that most people know because of a haircut and one song, but actually had a lot more going for them than just being a jokey footnote.

I remember hearing “I Ran” on the radio and loving it, and having to get that song, so on my birthday, my father bought me a K-Tel compilation that I still own, with this song on it. Like most of their compilations, the song was cut short and the sound wasn’t great, but I had that song. I soon after saw the video and at the time, I thought it was great…not so much now…lol. Luckily, I lived in a fairly big city and was able to get the album at a local record store and fell in love with the rest of the songs. Of course, I also became a fan of the band’s continued output and was excited to see this CD come out. I had picked up some of their 45’s, and 12″ singles as I went along in my music hunts and now I can listen to them with the pops and crackles of my old vinyl. So many great songs are on this collection, with single edits, live versions, and remixes that I bought and lots that I never heard before. The sound is terrific with clarity and crispness that brings out the interesting sounds from the keys, and a booklet with an interview from Smash Hits, lyrics for some of the songs and a great discography as well. The remixes are sometimes a bit on the long side such as “Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)” which is over minutes long and goes on far too long, but still, this is a treat for the fan of this band and the person curious to hear some remixes that add to the enjoyment of the original song. The only things I was unhappy about was that they could have made a third CD of even more remixes and rare songs, and the mediocre cover.

An album that will take you back to the early and mid ’80s and carry you up into the sky with the birds and soar into the clouds. This will make you dance, sing, and smile…a fantastic thing.

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TOKYO BLADE: Knights Of The Blade: 4 Disc Box Set

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Tokyo Blade originally formed in 1982, releasing their self-titled debut in 1983. They formed around guitarist Andy Boulton, he was joined on their debut by Alan Marsh on lead vocals, John Wiggins on guitar, Andy Robbins on bass and Steve Pierce on drums, making a significant impact on the burgeoning NWOBHM scene that had been popularized by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Def Leppard, as well as finding support in the pages of Kerrang! magazine. This release consists of a four Disc box set of their first three albums, many rare EPs, singles and non-album cuts from the early 1980s, including tracks from “The Cave Sessions”, “Undercover Honeymoon” 12”, “Midnight Rendezvous” EP and “Madame Guillotine” EP. Featuring lengthy and detailed liner notes from note NWOBHM and Tokyo Blade expert John Tucker

Tokyo Blade issued their debut recording in 1983, which was self-titled in the United Kingdom, and titled Midnight Rendezvous everywhere else. The album is classic metal with high-pitched vocals that aren’t too far into the stratosphere like some bands, they are a nice mix of highs and mid-level, the guitar rips throughout the album, the drumming is powerful, and the bass is heavy. The band really sounds like they were having a great time n the studio making this album, with youthful exuberance just dripping from the songs. The songs are catchy and should have been playing out of everyone’s speakers loud. I really liked “Powergame,” “Break The Chains, ” Killer City,” “Liar,” and “Sunrise In Tokyo.” For a first album, you don’t get much better than this.

The Night Of The Blade album arrived a year later, Andy Wrighton having replaced Robbins while Marsh had also left the band. The band was trying to find a new singer for their tour and got lucky with what was supposed to be the temporary throat of Vicki James Wright, but they decided to keep him as singer for the next album. His vocals were a bit more commercial sounding, but the songs were still hard and heavy. Again, the band played tight and really matured since their first album. Songs “Someone To Love,” “Night Of The Blade,” the killer “Rock Me To The Limit,” “Love Struck,” and the more commercial sounding “Lightning Strikes (Straight Through the Heart),” stand out after all of these years.

Blackhearts & Jaded Spades retains the power and singer from the previous album and sounds a bit more polished, but not wimpy. You could hear the band moving towards the huge American market with the added keyboards and more melody than on previous albums. Who can blame them? The market in America was something that pretty much every band wanted to break in and tour and be played on MTV during this period. The hard and heavy stuff was more on underground radio and bands knew where the money was; playing more melodic, adding a touch of keyboards and making the band more in tune with the big bands at the time like Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue. “Dirty Faced Angels,” “Make It Through The Night,” “Always,” are a trio of killer songs, “Loving You Is An Easy Thing To Do” is a blues based track that has a fantastic groove and should have been huge on the radio, “Undercover Honeymoon” gets things back a little heavier, then you get the power ballad “You Are The Heart,” which I could see being thrown in the mix at a high school dance back then, “Blackhearts And Jaded Spades,” “Tough Guys Tumble” get the hard rocking going again, until you come to another power ballad, “Dancing In Blue Moonlight,” which now starts to be a little much, and happily, they end the album with two blistering songs “Playroom Of Poison Dreams,” and “Monkeys Blood.” Not perfect, but still a great album that has more than enough metal to make you happy.

The fourth CD is a nineteen track collection of the band’s singles and EPs.  All of these songs were previously issued on the band’s various reissues, and it’s great to have them all together on a separate disc. This ably illustrates the musical evolution Tokyo Blade underwent from the start of the career, until their third album. Going from a harder sounding band to a more slick and commercial sound, while still retaining the great songs and playing that made you pick up the first album.

With the great liner notes, replica album sleeves and the fantastic music on the four discs, you really can’t go wrong with this purchase. The band definitely is on fire on these albums and even though they still are putting out albums now, the young, hard-edged sound of their hunger is a treasure to behold.

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DEEE-LITE: World Clique

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World Clique is the debut album by Deee-Lite, which was released in 1990. The album’s first single, “Groove Is In The Heart,” was a top-five success on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart as well as a number-one hit on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart. Three subsequent singles also hit the top ten on the U.S. dance chart, including “Power Of Love/Build That Bridge” and “Good Beat,” which also hit number one.

I remember hearing the song “Groove Is In The Heart” on the radio on day and wanted to get the single, the bad part is that because I lived in Canada, CD singles were not very popular. I was working at a record store at the time, a fairly large chain, but we barely carried CD singles, unless the company that I dealt with carried them, which of course they didn’t, so I went to another store downtown and managed to find it there, and played the hell out of it, both at home and in the store. We finally got the single and it sold out, both on CD and as a cassingle. When the album finally was released, it blew up in the store, people were coming in and we kept selling out. I loved it then, and I love it now, especially with the second CD of remixes and the great interview with Lady Miss Kier. Putting the album on takes me right back to when dance music was still grabbing everything they could find and seeing what works and using samples more freely than they can now. Starting with “Deee-Lite Theme” and the jazzy groove is an excellent way to start off. “Good Beat” is a fantastic song that has a great Italo-house piano and yes, a good beat. I used to mix “What Is Love?” into my DJ sets all of the time and it worked so well that people never knew who it was. “Deep Ending” was another song that I always hit the replay button for and it still makes me want to dance with the Italo-house piano and the sample from The The. Of course, “Groove Is In The Heart” is still a massive song and I just love it to death, always will. The second CD has all of the remixes and they mostly stay faithful to the original mix, adding more beats and giving you more to dance to. I was a fan of collecting as many of them as I could find and I’m glad to get them on CD now, and not worry about the pops and crackles from my old records.

The album is still amazing, the songs are great, what more could you want in a band? This really is a delightful (sorry) collection that you must get and dance, dance, dance!

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YAZZ: WANTED: 3CD DELUXE DIGIPAK EDITION

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Yazz (born Yasmin Evans, 19 May 1960) is a British pop singer, who remains best known for her successful 1988 dance track, “The Only Way Is Up.” Some of her records were credited to Yazz & The Plastic Population. Her first commercial success came in early 1988, when she supplied the vocals on Coldcut’s “Doctorin’ the House.” She soon launched a solo career on Big Life records, a label set up by her husband Jazz Summers, releasing her debut single, “The Only Way Is Up,” in the summer of 1988. It went on to spend five weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart, eventually becoming the second biggest selling UK single of the year. Suddenly one of Britain’s biggest pop acts, her follow-up was another big hit (“Stand Up for Your Love Rights,” UK number 2), whilst her debut album, Wanted (UK number 3) was certified double platinum in the UK in September 1989, for sales exceeding 600,000.

This 3 CD Edition includes the eleven album tracks from original CD release in 1988 plus thirty-one related bonus tracks and remixes to make this the most complete collection available of Yazz’s best known releases. The sixteen page full colour booklet features an expanded design of the original artwork, extensive sleeve notes written by Michael Silvester and a full UK discography featuring Yazz’s front cover images.

I first heard Yazz on Coldcut’s “Doctorin’ the House,” and loved the vocals as well as the music and was happy to hear of a full album from her coming out. The album did not disappoint me at all with the range of styles on the album, from house to acid house, to r&b to rap and soul, it had everything to mix together for a fun night of dancing. I tried to get the twelve-inch singles, but back then, it wasn’t too easy to find them,plus with all the different mixes out there, it was impossible to get them all. This not only helps me have a mostly complete collection of the mixes, but the sound and the booklet add so much to my enjoyment of the album. I couldn’t wait to open up this CD and hit play, and enjoy the original album, but all of the remixes that I had never heard before. Yes, there are a lot of remixes on here, but you know what? I love them and am so happy that I have finally got the chance to hear them. So many great sounds on the remixes, and it takes me back to when I used to be a DJ and played these songs in my set. I know that I made many mix tapes with these songs and I wish that I still had a gig somewhere so that I could play these mixes now. The album brings me back to my early twenties and just having the world in front of me, going out and clubbing and just having fun.

This is an album that has fun written all over it and needs to be played a ton of times. Three CDs might be a lot for some, but as a fan and collector, this is a treasure trove that is going to be enjoyed for some time, and at a price that is cheaper than hunting down all the singles, what more prompting do you need?

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THE CHIMES: THE CHIMES: DELUXE EDITION

The Chimes were a successful dance music trio. Pauline Henry (born in Jamaica) with Mike Peden and James Locke from Edinburgh, in Scotland. They are best known for their hits “Heaven” and a remake of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which became a UK Top Ten hit.

Digitally remastered and expanded two CD edition. Includes a bonus disc of alternative versions and mixes that were originally released on the various single issues which show the breadth of club sounds that were prevalent in that era. The Chimes, released in the summer of 1990, spent over four months on the UK album chart peaking at #17, as well as gaining strong airplay on US college radio which drew critical acclaim that helped the album reach the top 100 and 200 in the Billboard R&B and Pop charts respectively.

Working in a record store when this album first came out, gave me the opportunity to hear their songs before a lot of other people and I fell in love with the vocals, as much as the music. Henry’s vocals were smooth, sure and fit the music perfectly. From slow song to faster dance songs, her vocals were amazing and still raise the hair on my arms after all these years. I remember having a mixed CD from the record company that had  “1-2-3” on it and I played it during busy times so I could get people to hear an amazing song and it helped move some albums out the door. After all these years, there are few albums that command the attention of your ears as much as this one, with so much emotion and talent, this album still stands out and sounds amazing. As much as I love the song “1-2-3,” their cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” is one of the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard and is a crowing achievement for the band. I mean, with Bono from U2 commented that the Chimes’ cover of their hit “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was the “only cover version he had heard that he enjoyed and did the original justice”, adding “at last someone’s come along to sing it properly,” how can you go wrong? The added remixes add to the enjoyment since a lot of them were not easily available to me at the time and they take me back to when remixes were still using the original song, not just adding a snippet of the song and creating something that doesn’t have much of the band on it. The included booklet gives a great overview of the album and was fun to read. The remastered sound helps bring out more of the subtle parts of the music that may have been lost, especially the great vocals that really stand out now.

An album that still sounds modern and well worth your hard-earned money to purchase and play again and again. This will fill your soul with delight and make you smile, something that is a great feeling to have from music.

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BETTY BOO: Boomania

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Betty Boo’s original breakthrough came with the release of “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” as The Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo on Rhythm King in 1989. Her debut album Boomania followed in 1990 peaking at # 4 in the UK album charts and achieved platinum status of 300,000 sales. This Deluxe Edition includes the twelve original album tracks, plus fourteen bonus tracks, it has been remastered using original master tapes, and the sixteen page full color booklet features an expanded design of the original artwork, extensive sleeve notes written by Michael Silvester and a full UK discography featuring Betty Boo’s front cover images.

I had originally heard the Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo, and was intrigued when the news of her own album was first put out. I had been into house for a while and was looking forward to her album. The good news was that it was every bit as good as her song with the Beatmasters and actually improved on the sound by being even more infectious and attention grabbing than before. Of course you get the hits “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing),” “Doin’ The Do,” “Where Are You Baby?,” and “24 Hours,” but the crazy amount of remixes makes this a treasure trove for those that wore them out back in the day, or couldn’t find/afford them all. The mix of pop, rap, and dance/house kind of dates the music, but if you were there, it sounds glorious to your ears still. It just shows how the charts actually had a mix of music back then, as well as happy music mixed in with the dour sounds of grunge, or what the media was improperly calling punk back then. The songs and the videos had a sense of sixties kitsch to them, and the hooks were huge, so big that just the titles on here alone will make the song creep into your head again and get stuck all day. The remastered sound is cleaner and clearer, adding to the sounds and effects on the album, and giving it a touch more depth.

The great mix of styles, the hook laden tracks, and the pure fun of this album will make you smile and dance a hole into your carpet. It brings back the fun and the excitement of youth, not just your own, but youth in general, hearing the songs again, or for the first time for the curious. This truly is a treasure trove and will be getting lots of plays around my house.

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THE DONNAS: Spend The Night

Spend the Night is the fifth studio album and major label debut by The Donnas, originally released in 2002 on Atlantic Records. It was the band’s first charting record on the Billboard Hot 200, peaking at #62, and features their most successful single, “Take It Off,” which peaked at #19 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Cherry Red Records has remastered the album and added five bonus tracks: “Hyperactive,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Machine,” “Mama’s Boy,” “Play My Game” and “Backstage,” the latter taken from the soundtrack to the remake of the movie Freaky Friday.

Of course being a male and loving hard-hitting music, such as punk, metal and hard rock, as well as four attractive women in the band, (oh Maya!), I was already a fan when this originally came out and was looking forward to it. It was a bit different from their older albums, a touch of gloss here, a bit more rock, less punk, but all in all, I really liked it a lot. Now we have the re-release with added songs and I like it as much, if not just a bit more than I did at first. I haven’t listened to it in a while, so it was great to hear the album again, and rock out to the tracks that I remembered and loved from the past. The extra tracks from soundtracks and b-sides is a cool bonus since I now don’t have to buy a few soundtracks that I would have had to buy just for their song being on it. The booklet is a great touch, giving you background about the band and the process of putting this out back in 2002. The band plays tight and the vibe is hard rock with touches of metal and punk, but with enough gloss to make it shine, not overpower the songs and the playing. It has a sameness throughout, but again, not in a bad way, the way a Ramones/AC/DC/Joan Jett album has a sound that carries the entire album and makes you instantly recognize them. A feeling of familiarity and warmth that you crave and love.

The great sound, the added tracks, and the booklet make this a definite buy, as well as it just being a damn good album too. I really wish that they would get back into the studio and give us a new album, the world isn’t the same without them. In the mean time, put this on, crank it up and spend the night with them, they might scare you a bit, but oh, what a night indeed.

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