Monday, September 20, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians - 'So You Think You're In Love' EP

[Sorry that I've been kind of slow in posting stuff this month - it's been pretty busy here, which has sort of limited my time to put together the erudite, pithy writeups on this music that I know you all love so well (ha ha!) . . . I'm trying to make an end-of-month push here, and get a few more posted to at least meet my monthly average of 10-12 albums/EPs (you might have noticed that the number of posts has increased in the last week - or then again, maybe you haven't . . .). So on that note, here's another one:]

I should probably be a bigger fan of the music of Robyn Hitchcock than I am, but I simply have trouble fully getting into his music. He's just too quirky and inconsistent for me. I was never a fan of The Soft Boys, his first post-punk/psychedelic-punk group, so I have no nostalgia for his early work. And it seems that every time he puts out something that catches my interest, he follows up with something that I can't stand, putting me back to Square One with him once again.

For example, I loved the song "Balloon Man" (off of the great Globe Of Frogs album) when it came out in 1988, and figured the guy had finally found a sound that appealed to me. But his follow-up, 1989's Queen Elvis, was terrible, and I found the lead single off of that album, "Madonna Of The Wasps", to be weak and somewhat whiny. Once again, he lost what little goodwill he had with me.

With that being said, I paid little attention to his next release, 1990's acoustic solo outing Eye, and by the time he reunited with The Egyptians for his 1991 album on A&M Records, Perspex Island, I was all but completely ignoring his output. However, that perspective changed once I began hearing cuts from the new disc on the radio. I was living in the Washington, DC area at the time, and WHFS there put the lead single, "So You Think You're In Love", in heavy rotation. I thought to myself, "Pretty good song."

But it was another Robyn Hitchcock single from that time period played on 'HFS that really caught my attention and interest. They played it less frequently on the station, which was too bad, as it was a MUCH stronger song than "So You Think You're In Love". It was a gentle acoustic duet between Hitchcock and Michael Stipe of R.E.M., called "Dark Green Energy" (Stipe and other members of R.E.M. collaborated on other songs on Perspex Island).

 The song was just outstanding, so much so that I decided to become a Robyn Hitchcock fan once again, and went running full-bore to Tower Records to pick up the disc. But when I got to the record store, I found that the song I loved so much wasn't on the album track list.

I had to hunt around for a while to actually find the recorded tune; I finally tracked it down on an EP, So You Think You're In Love, offered at a small record store I used to go to in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Although the EP featured the title cut, the song that A&M was pushing to be the 'hit' off of this album, the EP was woefully obscure and hard to find, which made absolutely no sense to me at all - it stands to reason that if you want to sell something, it helps to have it readily available in large quantities.

And, of course, after drawing me back into the fold, Hitchcock drove me away again with his next release, Respect, which was his last with The Egyptians. Respect sucked so bad that even Hitchcock himself has been quoted as saying he himself didn't like the record. And there you go.

For me, Robyn Hitchcock hasn't put out anything as good as this EP in the last 20 years. He's still plugging away at it, though - God bless him, and I wish him all the luck and success in the world.

Here you are - enjoy, and let me know what you think:

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Send Email

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Fall - A World Bewitched: Best of 1990-2000

I found this one in Chicago.

In the summer of 2001, I flew to the Chicago area for work, as part of a team looking at a portfolio the company was thinking of buying. We stayed about 15-20 miles outside of the city, in a village called Bolingbroke (don't let the term 'village' fool you into thinking there are milkmaids and farm wagons rolling around dusty streets - the 'villages' in Chicagoland are huger and more populous than some cities back East. 'Village' is just a affectation they never got rid out out there). We were put up in some sprawling old hotel/"resort" - the kind of place with its own golf course, conference rooms, swimming pools, etc., spread out over several acres. I guess at one time, back in the '60s and '70s, the joint was considered to be pretty swank. But the owners had done nothing to keep the place current with the times; the wallpaper and decor were still echoing some time around 1973. The main bar resembled something out of a bad "Kojak" episode, and the only thing that kept my room from looking like Greg, Peter and Bobby's bedroom was the absence of a bunk bed in the corner.

However, the place wasn't all bad. Out of boredom one evening, I began wandering the hotel, and found myself in the game room, which was full of old video arcade games I hadn't seen or played in decades: Hard Drivin', Pole Position, Spy Hunter, Xevious - you name it, it was in there. So I had a good time killing an hour of two there.

But after a couple of days, I was getting pretty stir-crazy, working all day on site, then coming back to the House of Mannix. So one night I rented a car and drove into Chicago.

Prior to that visit, I'd never spent much time in that city, so I knew nothing about what was going on there. But I must say that I found Chicago to be a fun, hip little town. Lots of stuff to do, great restaurants (the steakhouses can't be beat), good bars and clubs, nice chicks - they've got a good atmosphere there. I grabbed something to eat at one of those steak places (don't ask me which one - I can't recall), then started walking around and looking around. I found myself in front of the local Tower Records, and decided to pop in for a bit.

I don't know about you, but when I go to a music store, the first stacks I go to are the ones for my favorite bands, just to check and see if anything new had been released, or if one of their earlier releases had evaded my attention. Since I'm a completist when it comes to most of my faves, these searches are usually futile - I'd already have everything they had out. But that night in Chicago, I ran across this Fall compilation, A World Bewitched: Best of 1999-2000, released on Artful Records earlier that year.

The 1990s were an iffy period for The Fall, in my opinion. Brix had left Mark E. Smith and the band, and her presence and ear for pop-friendly hooks was sorely missed. Her absence did serve as the inspiration for one of the best Fall albums of that era, 1990's Extricate, where (despite denials to the contrary) Mark savagely vents his spleen regarding her (What? "Sing Harpy" and "Black Monk Theme Part I" ("You know I really, really, really, really HATE you, baby!") aren't directed towards Brix? Really, Mark?). From there, the albums began a gradual decade-long slide into mediocrity. There were some high spots here and there: Code: Selfish and The Infotainment Scan had many high moments. But other releases like Middle Class Revolt and Cerebral Caustic seemed to lack the imagination and fire of some of the band's best material from the 1980s. And, of course, the infamous onstage punchup in New York in 1998 that led to the departure of longstanding Fall stalwarts like Steve Hanley didn't help either. The Fall really didn't start to get its shit back together until 1999's The Marshall Suite.

With all that being said, you would think that Fall highlights during tha decade would be few and far between. That didn't stop the release of a series of "Best of '90s" Fall compilations of varying scope and quality - A Past Gone Mad: The Best of 1990-2000 and Listening In: Lost Singles Tracks 1990-1992 among them (A Past Gone Mad is actually pretty good, collecting some of the best Fall songs from that decade).

But of all of these releases, I found the two-disc A World Bewitched to be the best of them all. This compilation picks through the dross of the decade, pulling out the superior cuts from that time that were left off of A Past Gone Mad - tunes like "4 1/2 Inch" and "Glam Racket" - so it's a good retrospective of that time and a good starting point for new Fall fans who want to hear the highlights from that period without purchasing all the albums.

But what makes A World Bewitched REALLY worthwhile for true Fall fans is Disc 2, which collects all of the decade's hard-to-find rarities and one-off collaborations by the band (or just Mark E. Smith) with artists such as Elastica and Badly Drawn Boy. Featured on this disc are songs such as:

- the band's superb cover of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich's 1960's hit "The Legend Of Xanadu", which before this album had only been available on a rare NME magazine compilation;
- the brilliant "Calendar", driven by Badly Drawn Boy's guitar, formerly available on a limited-edition "Masquerade" single; and
- "Seventies Night", a hilarious discofied workout between Mark and Edwyn Collins.

As mediocre as the Nineties seemed to be for The Fall, this compilation all but redeems the decade, and shows that, even when not at the top of their game, The Fall still crushes anyone else recording out there.

All in all, it turned out to be a valuable and productive trip to the city for me that night (I also picked up that night, on a whim, The Sea & Cake's Oui, which turned me into a fan of that band as well). We ended up not bidding on that portfolio we were there for. But I got cool new tunes out of the trip . . . so it was all good.

And here you are, for your listening pleasure. Enjoy:

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Send Email

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trio - Trio & Error

[I guess with my recent couple of posts regarding disasters, I've been getting some folks down. A friend here on this blog recommended that I lighten up a bit . . . so I'll put the bad tales aside for a bit, starting now:]

I spent a good part of my second summer at the Academy at sea, sailing up and down the East Coast on a small yard patrol (YP) craft with about 15-16 other classmates and a couple of upperclassmen. We were part of a flotilla of three or four of these boats, doing training on maneuvers, navigation, etc. Initially, I was disappointed to be on a YP, rather than over in Europe or the Far East as others were, but it turned out to be great. We took those puny vessels everywhere, and made a lot of extended stops in great places like Boston and New York City (my first long visit there). It was during one of those early stops that I first noticed HER.

She was a fellow classmate, beautiful and cool and athletic, part of the crew of one of the other YP boats in our group (somehow, I had never noticed nor run across her during the entire first year of school, which was strange because the campus and student body was not very large). Anyway, I was instantly smitten. Since she was on a different boat and off doing other things with her friends on shore, my encounters with her that summer were brief and fleeting, and in all of them she was cool and aloof and mysterious, which only piqued my interest further. By the end of the summer, I had a major crush on her . . . and she, no doubt, had little, if any, idea or interest in who I was or what I was all about.

But the Gods of Random Probability like to have their little jokes every once in a while - our class was the first in several years to be "scrambled"; that is, moved to different companies at the end of plebe year. And as fate would have it, she and I ended up in the same one, living just a few doors away from one another. Not that that helped my cause; I was a goof, and initially she wanted nothing to do with me at all.

But as time passed, slowly and steadily, our 'relationship' (as it were) progressed. In her eyes, I think I moved from being an annoying pest to a tolerable distraction to an acceptable acquaintance, and in time we became friends. We found we had the same sense of humor, and would find hilarious ways to make fun of the people we knew. I used to challenge her at racquetball, and she responded by kicking my ass every time we played. But mostly, we bonded over music. I had a large and growing collection of cassette tapes back then, probably the best selection on the floor, and she would sometimes come over to borrow music or talk about bands. We were supposed go with a group of people to see Book Of Love in DC one weeknight during our junior year, a show that necessitated that we go "over the wall", that is, leave the Academy grounds without permission . . . in the end, I couldn't go, but she did; the entire group got busted coming back, and received days of restriction and heavy demerits. She got me a Fishbone T-shirt from another show she went to that I didn't attend; I treasured that shirt, and wore it for years, until it literally disintegrated.

But with all of that, we were still 'just' friends. And that was cool by me; by that time, the old crush had cooled considerably. I still liked her, but I figured if we were to be just friends, then so be it. She had a boyfriend or two at school, and we each went to the Ring Dance at the end of our junior year with someone else. She was as aloof and mysterious as ever, but in a different way, now that we were closer. But I could still never 'read' her, or figure out what was on her mind.

So I was surprised when, on a Friday evening during the winter of our senior year, I found myself driving with her to my parent's house for the weekend, just the two of us. To this day, I still can't figure out how this came about; I don't really recall asking her. I might have mentioned that I go home on weekends from time to time, and she asked if she could join me - I simply don't recall. All I knew was, there I was, driving down a snowy Route 50 towards the Beltway and Virginia with the girl I'd liked for years sitting next to me.

The roads were bad and the going was slow, but I brought plenty of music along, which we played in my Subaru's tape deck. In addition to being the driver, I also served as the sort-of DJ, swapping cassettes out frequently, putting on stuff that she might not have heard before. One 'new' song really captured her interest, a simplistic melody called "Da Da Da" by a German band called Trio.

Trio (made up of Stephan Remmler on vocals, Gert Krawinkel on guitar, and Peter Behrens on drums) was formed in Grossenkheten, Germany in 1980. They were part of a strange but unorganized and unofficial hybrid of European new wave that appeared during that time, featuring simplistic melodies, songs with no more that three-chord progressions, and monotone vocals. Other practitioners of this sound back then included Young Marble Giants (previously covered in this blog) and The Flying Lizards from England. In many ways, Trio took that minimal sound even further than the other bands mentioned, utilizing only guitar and drums on their songs until late in their career. In a lot of ways, Trio was like the "new wave Kraftwerk" of their time.

But even with these limitations, the band still managed to put out some catchy, popular numbers, including the aforementioned "Da Da Da". This song was on their debut German-language album released in 1981, and eventually made it to #2 on the national charts there in April 1982. An English-language version of this song was released in England in the late spring of that year, and saw similar success, also reaching #2 there and selling over a million copies. The English version was also a hit in Canada later that year, making the Top 5 in that country.

With this international success, Polydor Records rerecorded Trio's debut, adding some English songs, and rereleased the album in the U.S. as Trio & Error in 1983 (the label retained the services of the band's long-time producer, the legendary musician, artist and Beatle friend Klaus Voorman). But the album and their international hit song did nothing here in this country; outside of a few college/alternative stations airing it, Trio's music went unheard by the majority of Americans. WHFS in Washington, DC used to play it once in a while, though; that's where I first heard it, and liked it enough to look for a cassette copy.

It was that cassette that was played over and over that weekend, as she and I rolled through DC. Even with the weather, we had a fun time. We went out to eat in the city, and hit a lot of the clubs, bars and dance places there (including the late, lamented new wave club Poseurs in Georgetown, at the foot of the Key Bridge - sadly, it's a bike shop now). My parents loved her, and made her feel completely welcome in their home. And she and I just laughed, and talked, and bonded. All in all, it was the best time I had all year; it was one of the best times I had during my entire time at school.

Trio released a final album, Bye Bye, in 1983, before breaking up the following year. Speaking of "bye-bye" . . . as for that girl and I, that trip was sort of the high-water mark for anything serious. We remained friends for the rest of school and after graduation, but she moved to one side on the country and I moved to the other, and we just sort of went on with our lives, contacting one another occasionally. In time, even the memory of that time I spent with her that snowy February began to fade.

In 1997, I was watching something on TV; I can't remember what. When it went to commercial, the first ad up was an ad for the Volkswagen Golf. The commercial was simplicity itself - just two guys riding around in the car, with music playing.

I instantly recognized the song - it was Trio's "Da Da Da"! Somehow, the music completely fit the visuals of the ad. And in a flash, it brought back to me every detail my own road trip ten years earlier with that fetching passenger at my side, where that same song featured prominently. I never asked her, but I hope that she saw that ad too, and it brought back some fond memories for her as well.

Due to the popularity of the commercial, Trio's album was rereleased in the U.S. that year as Da Da Da, and finally gave the band some long-overdue chart success here. I've always hated the retitling - seemed like pandering to me. I'll always refer to it as Trio & Error.

So, here you go - enjoy:

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Send Email

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Rogers Sisters - Purely Evil

On the morning of Monday, September 10th, 2001, I drove from Rhode Island to New York City to attend a meeting with some investment bankers at their offices in lower Manhattan, about four blocks from the World Trade Center. I was supposed to meet my boss there at noon, but it appeared I was running slightly late, so I gave him a call as I travelled down I-278 in Queens. He asked me if I was close, and I remember saying to him, "Well, I can see the Trade Center, so I'm pretty close." The meeting took up the rest of the afternoon, and we left Manhattan just before rush hour. I drove him home to his place in Connecticut, then I stopped at Foxwoods to play poker for a couple of hours before getting home later that evening.

The next morning, I was back at work in Providence. It was going to be a pretty busy and important day for me. Some financiers from a Pennsylvania company called De Lage Landen were coming up for an all-day meeting, and I was looking forward to a call from California - I had recently been accepted to appear on a game show, and the producers were supposed to call me later that morning with the final flight details. Other than prepping for and anticipating those two events, it was just another Tuesday at work . . .

Then, of course, all hell broke loose that day. In a couple of hours, the buildings that I used as landmarks less than 24 hours earlier were reduced to rubble, and the place where I had my meeting, four blocks from the WTC, was inaccessible and coated with dust and debris. Back in Providence, the meeting with the Pennsylvania people broke up as events unfolded, and soon the entire town was engulfed in confusion and turmoil, as rumors began spreading about possible terrorists who missed the plane out of Logan being seen getting off of the Amtrak train at the Providence station and disappearing into the nearby mall. They closed all downtown businesses early that afternoon, and I drove home listening to the nonstop news coverage of that day. And, needless to say, I never received that phone call from California that day . . .

Fast-forward to November 2001. I was headed back to NYC for the first time since 9/11, going to see The Fall play at the Knitting Factory on Leonard Street in Lower Manhattan. It was weird being back in the city; there was a palpable sense in the air of something having changed. At that time, people were still being nice to one another in New York, a very welcome change. But that kindness was tinged with wariness and a bit of suspicion, especially if you didn't look quite 'right', if you know what I mean. The security at the show was extra-vigilant, I felt, compared to earlier shows I'd attended there. The patdowns and metal detections were done with determination and purpose, by unsmiling security officials there.

I hadn't seen The Fall in a while; they were touring on Are You Are Missing Winner, one of the weakest Fall albums in recent years. I was still looking forward to seeing them, though. The opening band was a local group I had never heard of, The Rogers Sisters out of Brooklyn. I paid little attention to them while they set up, but that changed once they began playing.

The Rogers Sisters were made up of, of course, two sisters, Laura and Jennifer Rogers, accompanied by Asian-American guitarist Miyuki Furtado. The sisters were formerly in Ruby Falls, an all-female indie rock group formed in 1992 that released a couple of obscure EPs and singles before falling apart in 2000. After the breakup of Ruby Falls, the girls quickly recruited Furtado and began playing a modified sound from their earlier band, incorporating a more garagy/guitar-based punk attack that provided them with some success.

Their gig with the Fall was one of their biggest since forming, and their sound immediately tickled my eardrums. In my experience, it's rare that The Fall have decent lead-in bands; The Rogers Sisters were the exception, so much so that I made a mental note to look for any of their releases in the near future (at that time, they had yet to be signed to a label). The Fall also played an excellent set that evening; Mark E. Smith was in fine form, not too curmudgeonly, and they didn't play too many songs from their recent album, which was a blessing. From start to finish, it was a great show.

After the concert ended, at around 12:30-1:00 am, I decided to try to make my way down to the WTC site, just to see things for myself. I walked for blocks in the dark, along deserted New York streets, some still thinly coated with the dust of that horrible day two months earlier. I made my way around cordoned-off streets and roadblocks, and finally got as close as I could to the highly illuminated site. The work was going on there nonstop, around the clock, and I was close enough to hear the growl of jackhammers and clank of cranes moving pieces of the destroyed buildings. I sat on a barricade along the main street where they were taking stuff away from the area, and I watched for hours as trucks and flatbeds moved past me in what seemed to be an unending wave, all loaded with metal and debris. I remember one flatbed carried an entire fire engine, smashed to half its height and coated with dirt and dust. But there were plenty of other sights and pieces of the tragedy that I saw that night that made the entire event really hit home to me. Seeing the operation on TV was one thing; actually BEING there, and watching the operation, and seeing the dust and smoke rise through the klieg lights . . . well, that was something else, and something I'll always remember.

The Rogers Sisters' debut album, Purely Evil, was released on Troubleman Unlimited Records early in 2002. The disc contained almost all of the songs I heard and enjoyed the year before. The band released two more albums, Three Fingers in 2004 and The Invisible Deck in 2006, before breaking up in late November 2006, almost five years to the day of their Knitting Factory show.

I still enjoy their debut album, but every time I listen to it, I'm transported back in time, and think about that long, cold night I spent sitting on a block of concrete in lower Manhattan, watching the cleanup and trucks going by and trying, like many other Americans, to make sense of it all. This music has nothing to do with or say regarding 9/11, but to me, it will always be part of that time and place.

Anyway, here's the album:

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Send Email

Friday, September 3, 2010

Various Artists - Christchurch: The Music

In the wake of the disaster in Christchurch (despite the magnitude of the earthquake and the widespread damage, it looks like there are no deaths and very few injuries, thank God), I'd like to post a tribute of sorts, the compilation Christchurch: The Music, released by EMI in 2005. This double-disc set is a overview of songs by bands that originated from the Christchurch area, from the 1960s to the present day. Of the 45 songs on this set, spanning every genre from early rock to electronica, there are several by bands you may be familiar with (such as Ray Columbus & The Invaders, The Dance Exponents and The Bats), but most of them will probably be unfamiliar to you. Still, every song is great and/or interesting.

Have a listen - I hope you like it. While you're listening, keep the folks of that great city and region in mind; it's going to be a while before things are back to normal down there.

Thanks, and enjoy.

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Send Email

Latest Poll Results

Well, the rssults of the "Most important/influential band of the past 25 years" poll were surprising, to say the least. I sort of half-expected The Pixies to rank fairly high; The Jesus and Mary Chain's strength was shocking. Frankly, I haven't seen the influence of J&M Chain resonate through the years; in my opinion, there haven't been a lot of bands that followed in their wake that have successfully coopted and/or improved on their sound. They're a great band, mind you - I just feel that they were too unique to be imitated.

My personal pick for this poll would be The Smiths. I feel that, despite the brevity of their union, the influence of Morrissey, Marr & Co. has resonated throughout popular music for the past 25 years. Their rise clearly marks the end of the New Romantic, synth-pop era of the early 1980s, and the rise of British guitar pop beginning in the late 1980s. After they disbanded, other acclaimed bands like The Wedding Present and The Stone Roses immediately picked up the Smiths' banner and sound. And it's hard to imagine that bands like Oasis, Cast, Sloan, Suede, and all of those other one-syllable-name English bands of the 90s would have existed without The Smiths ever happening.

But, you're welcome to disagree, and I invite your comments regarding this. For everyone who voted, thanks for participating. A new poll will be posted soon, just as soon as I think of a good topic.

Thanks . . .

. . . to everyone for their good words and kind wishes in the wake of the earthquake in Christchurch. No, I'm not there now, but I've spent most of the past nine hours trying to contact all of my friends down there, to make sure that all and everyone is well. The damage is pretty bad in some areas, especially around the Cashel Mall area. I've been looking at the news photos; I know a lot of the buildings there that are now cracked and broken - it's really weird to see stuff like that. But fortunately, there were no deaths reported so far, and very few serious injuries. So thank goodness for all of that.

As for me - I'm fine, just worried for everyone. Thanks for asking, though. More music to come . . .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Touch & Go - Would You . . . ? EP

In 2000, I almost got a job with Hewlett-Packard. The company I worked for in Texas had suddenly and unexpectedly been acquired by Citigroup, and as a member of the corporate staff, I knew that my ass, like the asses of many of my compatriots, was going to be grass once the merger was complete. I started trolling around for a new position, and very quickly heard from H-P. They seemed pretty eager to speak with me, so much so that they very quickly sent me a plane ticket to Silicon Valley, California and $150 in cash for any "incidental expenses" I might encounter during my morning-to-evening visit there. I was pretty psyched.

I took an early-morning plane out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and by 9 a.m. local time, I was at the airport in San Jose, picking up my rental car (again, reserved for me by H-P) for the drive down to Sunnyvale. The interview there went pretty well, although I was surprised that I was not the only person the company contacted for the position in question - there were a few of us there, from places as far afield as Chicago and Boston, invited to interview for the job. But H-P kept things moving on an assembly-line basis, and every one of us was in and out of there in less than three hours.

My plane back to Dallas didn't leave until six that evening, so I had several hours to kill before the flight. I decided to head into San Francisco for a couple of hours, grab a bite to eat and have a few laughs. However, one destination in that city was in the forefront of my mind - Amoeba Records on Haight Street.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Amoeba . . . nowadays, there are a couple of branches of this store - the other ones I know of are in Berkeley and the most recent one that opened in L.A. about eight years ago. But the Haight Street location is the flagship. Now, being as crazy about music as I am, I've been to music stores and record shops all over the world, and seen some good ones and some not-so-good ones. I have to say, unequivically, that Amoeba Music San Francisco is THE best record store on the planet. Bar none. It's a huge open warehouse of a space, the main floor of which is covered with bins full of all sorts of CDS and records. One side of this barn is devoted to "new" albums; an equal amount of space on the other side is reserved for "used" records. In previous visits to Amoeba, I'd found things there I'd been searching for for literally YEARS - dirt cheap. For me, that place was and is the Capital of Music . . . and since at that point I hadn't been to San Francisco in a while, and had no idea when I might be back there again, I was eager to spend some time once again browsing those stacks.

I made the hour-long drive into San Francisco with the radio on, scanning the dial, listening for something interesting (great radio stations in San Fran, BTW). I can't remember what station there it was where I heard "Would You . . . ?" during my drive, but the song captured my ears instantly.

Touch & Go was formed in England in 1997 by David Lowe, the only official member of the group. Lowe's day job is as a music producer for British television shows and commercials (all of the music you hear on the BBC News since 1998 was composed by him). He formed Touch & Go as a creative outlet, away from the constraints of TV production. In addition to writing, arranging and producing most of the songs, Lowe plays the keyboards, drums and bass on every release, assisted by various guest musicians who provide vocals, guitar, brass, what have you.

Touch & Go's first release was the Would You . . . ? EP on V2 Records in October 1998. The song's mix of horn-driven Latin jazz, house and electronic elements backing a sexy female voice mouthing laconic come-on lines was a sensation in England, where it shot to Number 3 on the UK Pop charts. Touch & Go began a European tour in late 1998/early 1999, taking their sound to several locations in Eastern Europe, where the song proved equally popular there and in several other worldwide locations (Australia and New Zealand especially).

The song did nothing of any chart importance here in the U.S.; but like I said, it caught my attention during my drive into the city. After a nice lunch at a seafood restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf (great crabmeat sandwich), I made a beeline for Amoeba. There, I proceeded to blow EVERY PENNY of the $150 in "expense money" H-P gave me on music - I got some great stuff, including the Would You . . . ? EP. I made it back to the San Jose airport in time for my flight, with a big bag of CDs tucked under the seat in front of me. I didn't end up getting the job with H-P, but no worries - in my mind, it was still a productive journey (and anyway, inside of another two weeks, I found a better, more lucrative position in New England . . . so there you go)!

On the strength of that single, Touch & Go cut an album, I Find You Very Attractive, in 1999. After a couple of other lesser-received EPs in the early '00s, Touch & Go's star has sort of faded in Great Britain. However, the band remains popular in Eastern Europe, and still tours regularly there.

Here's the Would You . . . ? EP I purchased in San Francisco over ten years ago. This is the U.S. version of the EP (there are about nine versions overall internationally), containing five different iterations of the title song. I still think this tune is pretty cool - have a listen, and let me know what you think.


Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Send Email