As this is only my second week of Sunday Spins, I think it’s encouraging I have already found people excited enough about sharing their own records that I do not have to bring anything tonight. If you would like to share a particular side of a clean record next week, let me know tonight or give it some thought this week. Email me by Thursday morning with your selection, and include a brief explanation or anecdote to justify your choice.
Once again, I’ve planned much more than we can realistically get to, but that just means we’ll have to continue things next week. Enjoy.
- Depeche Mode – Construction Time Again (Sire 1983)
- Stray Cats – Rant ‘N’ Rave with the Stray Cats (EMI 1983)
- The Temptations – Gettin’ Ready (Gordy 1966)
- The Mercy Seat – The Mercy Seat (Slash 1987)
- Wire – Send (Pink Flag 2003)
- Tubeway Army – Tubeway Army (Beggars Banquet 1978)
- Theatre of Hate – Original Sin Live (9 Mile 1985)
The Temptations – Gettin’ Ready
I love The Temptations, as they seem to embody the shift from the us-generation of the 1960s and the me-generation of the 1970s, that I outline in my description of the current show at Benetti’s. They started as a typical R&B male vocal group in the early 1960s performing bubblegum, but commercial success allowed them to work with songwriters like Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield, and they started speaking out on social issue. By the mid-1970s, the group splintered, barely resembling to original lineup (except for the fact that they adhered to their 6’5” or taller rule for inclusion). This album finds them on the cusp of that transition from Smokey Robinson-penned tunes to Whitfield and Strong.
It’s not simply academic for me, however, as producer Smokey Robinson brings the tunes on Gettin’ Ready. The title track and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” are as good as anything the group ever recorded. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” is also probably my favorite vocal David Ruffin ever recorded, in a high key, pushed his vocal range and giving the song a sense of urgency.
The Mercy Seat – The Mercy Seat
Slash Records, 1987
I will never forget discovering The Mercy Seat back in 1987 while walking by one of my favorite concert venues in Clifton (a suburb of Cincinnati that was home to the University of Cincinnati). There was a huge poster with a picture of a band dressed all in white with one element different the others. Zena Von Heppinstall was pictured a good head taller than the other three members, was quite a bit darker than the other members, and had a very short mini-skirt. That 20 year old was smitten! A minute later when I recognized Gordon Gano from one of the bands that intrigued me most (The Violent Femmes) I knew I had to know more.
Sadly, I was unable to catch their show but this vinyl is an important piece of their history since the release had never seen a CD release until this year. Zena’s smooth alto, Gordon and Fernando Menendez’s two beat punk leanings and Patrice Moran’s muscled bass makes for a great contradiction that brings these 10 songs to life. Gospel had never sounded so good for a 20 year old waiting for another Violent Femmes release.
Theatre of Hate – Original Sin Live
9 Mile, 1985
In 1978 a British punk band known as “The Pack” was born. Moving ahead two years, the band went through a change of members and reformed as Theatre of Hate. Original Sin was the first album released by this new evolved band in 1980. The live version was not released until 1985. If you like that smooth, easy listening, make you feel good music, this is definitely not the band for your listening pleasure. Theatre of Hate has an undeniable, raw, Joy Division esq. sound that will make you cringe at times, but I still find beauty in their work. The live album I brought is much more stripped down, bare, with very little effects compared to the studio release in 1980. The opera like sustain on the vocals really sets them apart from other British acts of this particular era. With all that said I really hope you can dig deep and find the underlying emotion, and context of this great post-punk band.