Vinyl Fridays

Vinyl Friday #11: The Go-Go’s “Beauty and the Beat”


There was a point in my life where I couldn’t stand female singers. So many were boring and relied on looks or had the same generic “nice” voice. At some point that changed, probably after Patti Smith awakened my soul and Debbie Harry kept me alive for months on end. It seemed only natural that I would forgive my own kind and venture into the world of interesting female vocals.

The Go-Go’s were a band I grew up knowing. Their infectious singles were always plastered on the radio (and I guess they still are). But listening to this debut album in full was like waking up to a whole different celebration.

Beauty and the Beat was released in the bowels of the summer in 1981 on I.R.S. Really it was a great feat of planning because this is one of those great summer albums. The pop singles are catchy for those roll-your-car-windows-down moments (no better example than opening track “Our Lips Are Sealed”), but there is also the key songs that fill the times where summer is pretty crap. It’s shit and can be uncomfortably hot, dull and lonely (“This Town”).

Though, this album is too good to corner simply as a “fun summer album.” There is loads of great song writing here. My favourite song across any of their records, or in the 80s in general, is “Head Over Heels”. Every time.

I found Beauty and the Beat where I find most of the lost souls: in the depths of a jumbled up box in a antique shop. This particular shop is located in my hometown, and I have visited hundreds of times. Many stalls hold the stories of my record collection. They’ll probably even return there when I die. There used to be loads of albums there, and you can still find them if you look, though now many stalls have now been taken over by faux-vintage shabby chic rubbish.

The stall I found this baby in, though, is chock-full of albums from all over the spectrum of music. Usually it is too daunting of a task to go through them all. It’s a pretty iconic stall, actually. Well, in the grand scheme of the antique mall. In the middle of the floor is this fabulous mannequin who always dons some sort of interesting attire. Seems fitting to find this album tucked in one of the boxes on a table next to her. I believe this was the work of Kim Cattrall pulling me to it.

This album is in many ways very girly (just look at the lovely covers), but that’s not exactly why the album works. They are unapologetically women, of course, and their harmonies would only work in the typical registers for women. Their melodies are literally pure perfection and it really sets them apart from the utter blandness of manufactured pop singers. They are all masters of their instruments. But really I’m a sucker for a chiming guitar, so this album was always going to be up my alley.

I love this album. I love it even more on vinyl. This is the group of girls I wish I was cool enough to join. Thank heavens the mannequin lead me to them.


Vinyl Friday #7: Various “Factory Records Communications 1978 – 92”


I don’t do Record Store Day anymore. Call me a cynic, but it has gotten way too far from what used to make it fun. But I suppose that’s what happened for me and buying records period. Too many people on a small boat. Everything is a bit obnoxious to me: the crowds, the eBay record-flippers and those ridiculous limited releases.

For the most part I have tried not to buy the exclusive releases. I hate that stupid ploy to make people pay more money than they need to for an album that will go down in price not even two weeks later without the “exclusive” title attached. Many of these records have different packaging or just use a special name on RSD until it’s official release a few weeks later (The Cure have sadly done this several times). The albums will be double the price and hardly worth paying that much more.

Okay. So rant over.

That being said, the few times I have caved I haven’t regretted it and this 2013 release is a great example. “Factory Records Communications 1978 – 92″ is a 10” compilation featuring classic artists like New Order and Joy Division. According to Discogs, “Although printed on green front sticker:  ‘All tracks taken from the 4CD Boxset Factory Records: Communications 1978 – 92 (2564-69379-0)’, only track A1 is featured on this box set.” It works like an extended mix of songs and its pretty cool for a 10″ record.

There were only 3,000 printed, but I don’t actually this this is a highly sought-after record. I believe this is technically Sampler #2 (and I’m not even sure how many of these there are supposed to be). There are much better Factory compilations around like Fac. Dance. But this little baby is enjoyable enough to keep around.

Track listing:

A1 Joy Division “She’s Lost Control (12″ Version)”
A2 New Order “1963 (12″ Version)”
B1 The Durutti Coloumn “Otis”
B2 Happy Monday “Loose Fit (12″ Version)”

Vinyl Friday #3: “Beserkley Chartbusters Vol. 1”


Beserkley Chartbusters Volume 1 came right from the home of the hits – Beserkley Records from Berkeley, California. A really small powerpop label that during its short lifespan brought some of the best little bands that could – including the fantastic Modern Lovers and their leader Jonathan Richman.

This was a funny little find, a collection of singles released on Beserkley by Earth Quake, Greg Kihn, The Rubinoos and Richman. It was tucked away in a resale store where it had clearly been through some neglect (the sleeve is in quite poor shape), but at that point I hadn’t been able to find any album with Richman on it. Not even a month later I would find the Modern Lovers’ debut album, but I don’t regret picking this one up.

Records like these are the reason why I love buying them so much. There is always something strange or unique to find if you dig long enough. Personally, I rarely buy any album brand new. The used or $1 bins are usually more my style, clearly. While this isn’t the best buy ever, it certainly more interesting than the countless copies of Rumours or that shambolic Bon Iver album that are clogging up the shelves.

I could sing praises for days about how vital Richman’s music was to the punk movement and to music in general, but that can be saved for another day. And no apologies being completely biased, but his songs are by far the gems in the bunch. While “Roadrunner” is a classic, songs like “The New Teller” and “Government Center” are great. They’re so weird (dare I say… quirky?), almost like a novelty song, but one with so much intelligence and love.

But it would be unfair to say that the rest of the singles aren’t great too. The closing Earth Quake song “Madness” is a fantastic powerpop tune. And Greg Kihn would go on to be the label’s sole artist until they folded in the mid-80s, but he wrote some great pop songs at his time with Beserkley, many of them on display on this collection including the great “All the Right Reasons”.

The label has since reached some sort of cult-legendary status, but many of these songs have sort of slipped on the wayside. Berserkley clearly had some great singles, and may they never be completely forgotten.