HAIRCUT ONE HUNDRED: Paint And Paint

After a massive first album, Haircut One Hundred were now without a singer, no record label, a backlash against their pop music and in dire straits. This album came out of that difficult time and was not a hit, but has become the holy grail of their music since it has never been on CD, and copies of the album were hard to find. Now we have a remastered and expanded CD that is a welcome addition to your collection.

I loved their first album, playing it on my Walkman over and over again, then waiting, and waiting for more music from them, finally reading in Smash Hits magazine that they had a new single out. I headed out to the record store over and over again in Hamilton to try to buy their music, and finally, I found the single “Prime Time,” with “Too Up Two Down” on the other side. I hurried home, removed the 12″ single from the sleeve while admiring the cool shopping bag that the single was packaged in, and put it on. I was a little bit taken aback that the songs, while good, were so different to the first album, and the singer was a bit different than Nick Heyward, but after a few listens, I was hooked and had to find the album. Well, that didn’t happen for around 5 years because no one carried it and it was not able to be ordered since it wasn’t popular. I did finally find the album on cassette and was happy to finally have it. I played it a lot and eventually hoped to find if on CD, but that wasn’t going to be happening. I was excited to see that Cherry Red was able to get the rights to it and add a second disc of bonus tracks. I put this in my stereo, turned it up and relived the songs that I knew, and enjoyed the way that the album was different than their first one, but still retaining the charm that I loved from the first album. The first disc has the 11 original album tracks plus four related bonus tracks; the 7″ remix of “Too Up Two Down,” the 12″ mix of “Prime Time (Late Night Shopping Version),” and two b-sides “Evil Smokestacking Baby,” and “After It’s All Been Said And Done.” The second disc starts with the 12″ version of “So Tired (Long Slumber Mix),” and its b-side “Fish In A Bowl (Deeper Version).” The next nine tracks were supplied by the band from their own archives. They feature working mixes taken straight from the mixing desk during the recording sessions for the band to listen to at home and work on additional arrangements and brass parts. And at the end, you get four tracks recorded at the BBC for a session on the David Jensen show. They were aired on his show on 13th May 1984.

As you can see, this is an amazing collection of tracks that give the fans an idea of where the band was going and what they were trying to accomplish. Sadly, no matter how good and poppy the album was, fans didn’t buy it and they broke up, but at least we have a collection of songs that hold up and add to the memory of a great band. The booklet has memories of the album and the recording process and was a great read. The added music, along with the remastering has made this a dream come true for fans.

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DIVINE: Jungle Jezebel

Divine….really, what more needs to be said? It’s been remastered, it has remixes, a great booklet with lots of info, and it’s about time.

I first heard Divine in the early ’80s, and it was “Love Reaction” that was my introduction to his music. As soon as I heard it, I knew that this was someone I was going to have to get more music from. The obvious New Order sound, the deadpan vocals…..awesome! I taped the song off of the radio and down to the record store I went. I found a few “12 singles and took them home and loved them as well. Now I have not only those singles and their remixes in one collection, but it sounds even better than before. The songs are still terrific, “Shoot Your Shot,” “Native Love,” which I played to death when I was a DJ, and “Shake It Up.” The songs still make me want to dance and now, having the remixes remastered and on a second disc, I can get more of the music I missed and can hear them finally. This is a collection that will take you back in time and still make you jump up and dance, probably more than you might be able to do anymore…lol.

I am so happy that an album that was hard to find back in the ’80s has now been made available again, and is even better with the improved sound and the second disc of remixes. Grab a copy and make Divine proud of your impeccable taste.

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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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