produced by Vini Poncia
This one’s only for fans with a huge penchant for 80s pop-rock fronted by female vocalists, but if that’s your bag, this set is worth a listen, features an LA new-wave sound with the band’s Tennessee roots showing–especially in Susanne’s vocals. This Memphis outfit was fronted by the Taylor siblings, Susanne Jerome the cutie on vocals (and made into a new wave southern belle sexpot on the “She Wants You” video.)
While she has her right hand firmly planted in the pocket of her cute 80s skirt on the album sleeve, she appears to be flipping the bird. That about says it all, LA trying to make her into a 80s pop tart, but this Memphis girl showing her roots with that twang and attitude in her voice, that grin on her face and that middle finger firmly planted in her pocket.
Most of the songs are written by the Taylor siblings, the set produced by Vini Poncia (Ringo’s songwriting partner through most of the 70s). Apparently the rest of the band is made up of siblings, Rob and Russ Caudill providing the rhythm section, and keyboardist Tom Ward showing up on song credits with a D. Ward. The first side stays upbeat and fairly cute and enjoyable with an 80s power-pop sound, and then after the opener “Wishy Washy,” Side Two–for better or worse depending on the listener–sticks with the ballads and sounds like the party’s over. And likely the party was over because this is apparently the only album by this outfit.
— winch (author of
links to sellers:
Ride Your Heart
Dead Oceans Records (DOC082)
Produced by Rob Barbato
Debut long player from this LA outfit, the band described at this point as sisters Jennifer and Jessica Calvin, all songs and most of the playing credited to the pair.
The sound clearly has a California feel, mixing many styles from the past: the garage, surf, and dreamy girl group of the sixties, the power pop and lots of Blondie of the 70s, the sonic of punk and the 90s mixed with a bit of the girl-group revival and pop rock of the 80s, even a bit of exotica (and maybe the hillbilly) of the 50s–for example Jessica adding lap steel to the Bo Diddley beat on “Guy Like You.”
For fans of sonic pop music, this debut set is worth a listen.
— winch (author of
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Overplayed and overrated Beatles set, the second time the Beatles helped ruin American music. The first time was in 1964 when they arrived with their watered-down version of American R&B, lame covers or lame originals. They were like the Osmonds of the 60s.
The Osmonds were a white version of Motown’s The Jackson Five. We couldn’t have our white girls creaming in their jeans over a bunch of colored brothers from Gary, Indiana, or any of those colored folks from Motown so along came the Osmonds.
Things were much more serious in 1964. For the first time, white people were buying black music by the truck load. So they brought over the Beatles who almost single-handedly managed to destroy one of the greatest times in American Music. In the post-Beatles world, we’ve never had anything that has come close to the early 60s.
In ’64, we not only had the blacks, but we had white folks playing black music with gesto, classic garage that actually rocked, folks like Dick Dale and Link Wray, a bunch of punk kids having a blast, and the black folks fusing hard bop with the grooves of R&B and world influences (long before the Beatles), and then you had the real R&B.
I was just listening to Shorty Long do his 1964 original “Devil in a Blue Dress.” Now that’s a classic. Like so many others, that should have been a hit.
But the Beatles arrived with crap like “Love Me Do,”…then years later “And in the end / the love you take / is equal to the love / you make,” or something like that. Barf-O-rama. That makes me want to punch someone in the face. That is so dated and dimwitted. And in between that, we got this set, just when we were getting the groove going again in ’66.
Sure, this is a decent set, and the Osmonds comment was mostly to make a point and piss people off, stir up the pot, to start some conversations. I put Pepper in the Good Shit inventory, called it noteworthy, but it’s not that great, and the influence it had on American music wasn’t all good. Since the Beatles couldn’t even put on a decent show, this marked the time when they gave up even trying. It’s one thing to steal American black music and call it your own; it’s another thing to dress it up in a uniform and send it to private school. This album took the wild abandonment of R&B, and made it tame and educated. You can do that with a lot of things and I won’t cause a stink.
But you shouldn’t do that to rock ‘n roll.
“I wish Sgt. Pepper had never taught the band to play.” –the Dictators
Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
Meets King Penett
Producer: Stony Browder, Jr.
Rating: **** (Recommended)
This NYC outfit was primed for continued success but with this second album, they pulled further back into their own thing and offered more focus on acoustic instrumentation. This is quite similar to the debut, except with less of the blatant disco elements. All this didn’t help this group commercially, but it certainly helped create another timeless set.
While this again mixes all kinds of styles from the past and takes plenty of risks, it’s also quite cohesive. Some have pointed out an experimental quality to this album, but the songs are also accessible pop music. This blending of pop styles must have had an influence on other artists.
While the instrumentations come from many sources, Cory Daye’s wonderful vocals are at the front of much of the material, and the influence this band had on vocalist Sade is especially clear on this album. Of course, this is a bit more playful and considerably more interesting.
And the influences go beyond the obvious.
While Quincy Jones likely had an influence on this music, this band probably also inspired Mr. Jones. And I can’t help wonder if we would have had Purple Rain without albums such as this one. Rain is a completely different album, but both sets have an ambitious and adventurous quality, and both run through a variety of sounds while still sounding cohesive.
While this didn’t sell well, and even today some might find this set a disappointment after their classic debut, this still has plenty of charm. In fact, it has charm to spare.
It’s a set you could play for your great-grandma or your teenage daughter, and you’d probably get grins from both of them. It’s another fine example of their neo-retro pop music.
Stoney Browder, Jr.: production, music, vocals, guitar, piano
August Darnell: lyrics, vocals, bass
Cory Daye: vocals
Mickey Sevilla: drums
Andy Hernandez: vibes, marimba, accordion
Orchestrations: Jimmy Haskell & Van Alexander
Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
Producer: Sandy Linzer
Rating: **** (Recommended)
Probably the most charming group of the disco era, this outfit formed in the Bronx and fused 30s dance-band music with the disco sound of the 70s. Others attempted to take disco in similar directions, but nobody pulled it off like this band. While some songs clearly fit into the disco category, elements of the older styles are dominant in others. It’s definitely one of a kind.
Stony Browder Jr. wrote much of the music, helped with the vocals, played guitar and piano. August Darnell wrote most of the lyrics, helped with vocals and played bass. Cory Daye was the lead female vocalist. Other members included Mickey Sevilla (drums), Andy Hernandez (vibes), and Don Armando Bonilla (percussion).
Salinas Records (Detroit)
UK anarcho pop, self-described straight-edge, which makes sense, not because this has a HC SE sound, but rather because it has a refreshing bright-eyed non-stoner clarity. I like it.
Mark & Suzann Farmer
We’ve Been There
Produced and arranged by Mark Farmer
Rating: *** (Noteworthy)
This has plenty of variety and a few enjoyable cuts (even a homosexual version of Frankie & Johnny that out of place and that gays will likely find offensive or endearing), but the centerpiece is clearly the dreamy version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
After listening to thousands and thousands of songs, I’d place this album’s version of “Dreams” in the top 100.