Hi folks! Today I decided I'd switch up the content on Exciting Sounds a little bit -- instead of the vintage lounge records and audiophile stuff I tend to favor, we're going to take a look at the 1980s.
As most people know, '80s pop culture was dominated by MTV (Music Television), which launched in 1981 and has been big business ever since. Yes, every major label group during the decade released their albums AND their music videos, neither of which considered subordinate to the other. Since the idea of a "music video" was a fairly new idea -- at least in the form that it became known for -- its heyday in the early to mid-eighties was rife with enthusiastic, untamed experimentation. And this experimentation yielded some very interesting -- and oftentimes outright bizarre -- results.
This trial and error search for stable ground was, in fact, so unadulterated, that most of the shenanigans produced during this time would be an immediate "no-no" for business in the present day. Of course, that's what's so great about it -- the lack of industry restraint created (and continues to create) a goldmine for aesthetes and historians who look back and see just how strange (and awesome!) it all was.
So, now we'll start the list -- The Top 10 Overlooked Music Videos Of The 1980s (in no particular order):
"Puttin' On The Ritz" by Taco:
"Mexican Radio" by Wall Of Voodoo:
"Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell:
"Einstein A Go-Go" by Landscape:
"Hyperactive!" by Thomas Dolby:
"Johnny, Are You Queer?" by Josie Cotton:
"Spirit In The Sky" by Doctor And The Medics:
"Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police:
"Shiny Shiny" by Haysi Fantayzee:
"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler:
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Saturday, April 7, 2012
John Bult - Julie's Sixteenth Birthday (1985)
As many would know, this album cover has appeared on a myriad of "worst album art of all time" slideshows and galleries, and the reason for this is obvious. You would indeed get the impression that John Bult is trying to pick some underage chick on her Sweet Sixteen. Honestly, I always figured there was really a different back-story to the cover art. I don't know, it just sort of throws me off that the duo's body language looks the way it does--why is Julie so sad, and why does John appear as if he made a "boo-boo" of some kind? The answer, of course, lies in the lyrics. ;)
Anyway, last night, on an "early morning" java high, I imported the track from Retrospace into Audacity out of boredom and attempted to do a (rather amateurish) remaster of it, the result of which I think turned out pretty well and will be shared with the world right here. Check it out, share your thoughts. :)
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Sympathy For The Record Industry 
I just dug up my CD copy of this album a little while ago and gave it the first play in probably three or four years. This Gun Club record is an old favorite of mine and, like many albums I’ve enjoyed during my lifetime, the very idea of listening to it goes into hiding for long stretches of time somewhere way in the back of my brain, waiting for just the right opportunity to come forth. I can also add, for sure, that I’m glad I had the itch for it when I did; there’s nothing quite like the much loved albums from your distant past, even better are the ones that haven’t been listened to in ages.
As far as the whole early Psychobilly/Cowpunk scene went, this is one of the key albums that came out of that niche. Indeed, this record is stripped-down, primitive rock’n’roll at its most visceral. I think it’s safe to say that 99% of all of Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s vocals on Miami were sung out-of-tune, and the extremely lo-fi recording of its very basic rock’n’roll instrumental setup can be kind of hard to stomach at times, but there’s a certain charm to be had here as well. Sometimes it’s good to just play a record and let yourself (mentally) run wild, and Miami is the ideal vehicle for such a state of mind.
The album is made up of twelve songs, each of them with that distinctive crude punk/rock’n’roll feel, but with one exception. The very last song, titled Mother Of Earth, seems comparatively polished and professional for the band. The tone is also more melancholy and generally darker, but despite that, it is also one of the best on the album, in my opinion. There’s just something about listening to the whole album in one sitting and hearing this track in contrast to the raucous mood of the eleven preceding it. It makes Mother Of Earth really stand out, and it’s a nice end to a nice album. There are a few more tracks which really pull the album together - Carry Home makes for a great, sincere intro, while Run Through The Jungle invokes a rather hypnotic state with its primal manner and warm but mellow mood. Also of note is the song Bad Indian, which has a highly audible, driving percussion track, along with other great features of composition and instrumentation that add up to a sum total which is about as close to the spirit of true blue rock’n’roll music as it gets, the way it is meant to be.
If you don’t know very much about the psychobilly, cowpunk, primitive rock’n’roll, garage rock/punk genres, perhaps a better starting place than this album is the band The Cramps (I'd suggest their album Psychedelic Jungle, 1981), who exemplified the values of these styles (more or less) as well as the values of its audience. I also urge you to check out the Garage Punk community and podcast website, with a lot of great stuff related to this little world of its own within the Rock kingdom.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Anthony Ventura And His Orchestra
Music For Making Love 2
Ariola 204 943-365, Austrian import 
Music For Making Love 2
Ariola 204 943-365, Austrian import 
While it’s not technically pre-1975, this LP makes for a good post. Music For Making Love 2, looks like pure shady downtown porn vendor material, the kinds of records they would sell in porn shops in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
I don’t know love-making music, but I know what I like. This album, made up of cover songs with strings, flamenco-esque guitars, occasional pounding drum-licks, and similar orchestration, succeeded in giving me a slight buzz, but your imagine needs to be turned on to begin with (if you catch my drift). The cover is sexy, possibly hinting at a lesbian encounters, which would certainly catch your eye in the event you run across it in the record shop. The music, as described, is not what many would call a good listen, but my expectations weren’t that high to begin with as I was fully aware that the songs are all covers---Lennon’s "Imagine," "When A Man Loves A Woman," etc., and are marked plain as day on the back of the sleeve. I do indeed have a soft spot for EZ music of all shades, so, for me, the listening experience was far from excruciating.
The man Anthony Ventura himself (as pictured left; taken from the inner sleeve of the record), with his black cocktail bar suit and perfectly combed hair, looks like the kind of guy who’d be making music designed to make love to, which may or may not indicate bad character, but he’s got the sleazy look down real well. Just to be safe, if I were in his company, I’d probably hide my girlfriend (and possibly my dog too).
In all seriousness, though, this record is good for novelty value, which is what it’s all about anyway.
Stars: 3 out of 5