Archive for the ‘Stiff’ Category

THE BELLE STARS

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Sign Of The Times / The Belle Stars

Listen: Sign Of The Times / The Belle Stars BelleStarsSignOfTheTimes.mp3

I did some research, having posted about The Bodysnatchers a few weeks back. I was sure some of them evolved into The Belle Stars and wanted to confirm – which I finally did. Meanwhile, I started playing their singles. They had quite a few greats. One of the later releases, and a final hit, ‘Sign Of The Times’ is really a testament to what practice and touring can do if you’ve got some skills. They were a bit of a shambles initially but got good quick. This was almost a hit here. A nice one to rediscover.

The Belle Stars

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Listen: Hiawatha / The Belle Stars
Hiawatha / The Belle Stars

I guess Two Tone spawned The Belle Stars. Never in all my years, until tonight, did it hit me that ‘Hiawatha’ is based on a ska beat. Having formed off the back of The Bodysnatchers demise, it’s with fondness I recall seeing them for the first time at Dingwalls, with Madness and The Selecter and God knows who ruling the Camden Town in crowd roost. The lineage becomes pretty clear. Only took thirty years to dawn on me.

And if memory serves me well, it was Naomi on WNYU’s New Afternoon Show, who played the grooves off ‘Hiawatha’ around Christmas of ’81. This weather brings that all right back.

Angie / Pete Townshend

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Peppermint Lump / Angie

Listen: Peppermint Lump / Angie
Peppermint Lump / Angie

A few years back, Pete Townshend was suddenly in very hot water. I think he brought a computer in for repair, whereby a bunch of child porn was discovered on the hard drive or some such story. His official response: research. And on his way Pete went.

I thought sure Angie’s record might suddenly get some attention as a result. She was a very young girl who recorded with Pete Townshend back in ’79 for Stiff, and you know how the haters come out pretty easily. If that had happened, at least this terrific single would have been spotlighted and possibly heard at last.

It’s certainly a lost gem in my universe nonetheless. While weeding through the A’s in my wall shelf just now, I stumbled upon it, right there between Angels One-Five on Pye UK from ’73 and the US picture sleeve for The Animals ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ on MGM (sorry, I couldn’t resist). The second I laid my eyes on it, well I couldn’t get over to the turntable fast enough and give it a spin. Loud.

Pete Townshend’s signature playing is all over this as well as his arrangement style and vocals. No denying his gifts, and when he’s in the pocket, just don’t even try to compete.

Below: Stiff Records’ peppermint scented promotional handbill for ‘Peppermint Lump’.

Jona Lewie

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Listen: You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties /Jona Lewie
You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties /Jona Lewie

Do you remember when this was an anthem? Or was that just my small crowd of friends?

The lyric, the message couldn’t have been more universal. Who the fuck doesn’t hang out in kitchens at parties, or in general. It’s always nice when there’s a lounge, sitting area or den attached to/part of the kitchen but if not, then all bets are the kitchen is the place.

To be honest, I don’t recall if this was even issued in the US. If so, it would have only been on a promo 12″, but I seriously doubt it.

Jona Lewie stuck it out for a long while, having a one off hit with/as Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs, predating punk conveniently as part of pub rock, then stumbling onto the Stiff roster. Perfect timeline.

Never a mention of this one in any of those Best Singles Ever lists, just goes to show you their value.

Richard Hell & The Voidoids

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Listen: (I Belong To The) Blank Generation / Richard Hell & The Voidoids
(I Belong To The) Blank Generation / Richard Hell & The Voidoids

The other day at a friend’s office, I noticed a recently compiled anthology, punk or CBGS’s themed, or both. Can’t remember, but the packaging caught my eye. Very striking black and white design with bold, jungle red font. The real surprise was the inclusion of those most commonly eliminated bands: The Cramps, X, The Gun Club and Richard Hell & The Voidoids. I’m forever baffled that anyone with two brain cells to rub together could omit those four bands from punk anthologies, yet they do. I almost wanted a copy of this one, but having rid my life of new cd’s, I set it down and kept moving. Did make me think, will these final years of compact disc releases become collectable, as fewer and fewer get manufactured.

Richard Hell & The Voidoids ‘Another World’ was one of the first Stiff singles, the seventh (Buy 7) to be exact. That initial Stiff handful, probably issues 1-10, got worshipped by everyone. It was like a complete set, everybody needed to own the lot. With two songs on the B side, Richard Hell & The Voidoids’ seemed real value for the money. The original Craig Leon produced ‘(I Belong To The) Blank Generation’ doesn’t top the later Richard Gottehrer album and US single version, mostly due to Robert Quine’s more timid solos. I wouldn’t want a record collection without this recording though.

Listen: You Gotta Lose / Richard Hell & The Voidoids
You Gotta Lose / Richard Hell & The Voidoids

‘You Gotta Lose’, a track never to make the album, nor it’s subsequent cd reissues, might just be one of their best. From a time when guitars were the required lead instrument, Craig Leon and band certainly knew how to get those tones down right and documented well. As on the later re-recorded version of ‘(I Belong To The) Blank Generation’, the jagged Robert Quine style might have single handedly invented industrial. It wouldn’t surprise me to find Gang Of Four were fans.

Listen: Love Comes In Spurts / Richard Hell & The Voidoids
Love Comes In Spurts / Richard Hell & The Voidoids

The best punk pout I can think of and if ever there was a better play on words, let me know.