Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flying Color

My most recent record store discovery is the self-titled 1987 album by Flying Color. I had no idea who the band were when I first spotted it sitting on the shelf, but it looked like something that could be promising, and a quick phone search revealed that I stumbled onto the one and only record by mop-topped San Francisco quartet Flying Color. It's a bit alarming to think that if I didn't pay a visit to the store that day I might have never found out about this band, because this is one hell of a jangle/power pop album. In fact, it has quickly become one of my favorites.

Made up of guitarists Hector Penalosa, Richard Chase and Dale Duncan, as well as drummer John Stuart (with vocal duties shared across the band), Flying Color formed in 1984 and were around until the end of the decade, but only managed to put out one single ("Look My Way" b/w "Dear Friend") and one LP during that time. It's a shame, because these guys had something special.

Originally the aforementioned single's B side, "Dear Friend" was given a bit of polish to serve as the opener of the album. It's the band's most memorable track and is nothing short of a power pop classic. It's everything a fan of the genre could want out of a song - emotive but not sappy and packed to the brim with ammo in the melody and hooks department. Nothing else on the album reaches quite these heights, but all of it is top-notch. I'd even go so far as to say most of it is better than many power pop bands' strongest songs.

"It Doesn't Matter" and "Bring Back the Rain" are melancholy gems that represent early college rock at its best. More rocking moments such as "Believe Believe," "I'm Your Shadow" and "Wise to Her Ways" keep the energy up and give the collection a bit of an edge, while tracks such as "One Saturday" and "Farewell Song" are simply pure, jangly pop joy. Certain parts of the album even have a bit of a rootsy twang to them, which only helps the material to stand out more.

Flying Color are yet more proof that the best music oftentimes gets the most attention. During its time this LP fell off the radar without much notice, but it's essential for any fan of power pop.

The album was released on CD in 1996, but now appears to be out of print and very difficult to track down. So here, for your listening pleasure, is a vinyl rip:

Flying Color - self-titled LP (1987)
This album is available to purchase currently on CD with bonus tracks! Get it here.

1. Dear Friend
2. It Doesn't Matter
3. One Saturday
4. Through Different Eyes
5. Tumble
6. Believe Believe
7. Farewell Song
8. Bring Back the Rain
9. I'm Your Shadow
10. Wise to Her ways

Also, the music video for "Dear Friend" has surfaced on YouTube. Check it out below.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Slow Children - Self-titled LP and 'Mad About Town'

In a time that included no shortage of highly creative and quirky bands, early 80s new wave act Slow Children managed to stand out as one of the most unique and compelling. The duo - consisting of singer Pal Shazar and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Chinich - had a lyrical bite and attitude-drenched female vocals not unlike that of The Waitresses, but forged a style all their own on their two albums, 1981's self-titled LP and 1982's Mad About Town. Their most popular song was "President Am I," a minor new wave classic, but the duo released a number of other fantastic songs, including "Spring in Fialta," "Brazilian Magazines," "Late Night Transatlantic," "One More Trauma" and "Vanessa Vascillating."

After the band's end following the release of Mad About Town, Shazar went on to release a number of solo albums. In Spring 2010, she and Chinich reunited, began to write new material and even played a gig as Slow Children in New York City. Click here for more details.

Both Slow Children records have yet to be released on CD, but you can check out vinyl rips of both the self-titled and Mad About Town below. Both include B sides, extended mixes and alternate versions.

Slow Children - self-titled LP (1981)

Slow Children - Mad About Town (1982)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An update on a lack of updates...

For everyone who has continued to visit this site, thanks for your interest even though there's been no new content in a while. I've been intending to update for a long time, but it's gotten away from me. The Vinyl Goldmine's not dead yet, though! New stuff is in the works, so please continue to visit.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blondie offer up some holiday cheer

New wave legends Blondie have recorded a fun, punky new cover of the Christmas standard "We Three Kings' and have made it available for free download!

The band originally performed the song during live shows a few years ago, but this is the first time a studio version has been made available. The track was recently recorded as part of the sessions for a brand new, still unnamed Blondie LP in 2010. Download it here:

Debbie Harry and company also filmed a very low-budget, but fun, music video to go along with the tune, which you can check out below.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Interview were a British band formed in 1977 in Bath, releasing two LPs and a handful of singles during their existence. They debuted in 1979 with Big Oceans, in my opinion a decent but somewhat forgettable album of pub rock (though the single, "You Didn't Have to Lie to Me," is catchy enough). Their 1980 sophomore effort, Snakes and Lovers, is much more compelling and is solid enough to be considered a lost classic. The LP finds a balance between catchy, melodic power pop and thoughtful, more adventurous rock that gives it a truly unique character.

Snakes and Lovers kicks off with "Hide and Seek," which would simply be a bouncy pop number if it weren't for its curious lyrics that, according to vocalist Jeff Starrs in an interview on, are "about a guy who wonders whether or not he's killed all his girlfriends." The other most accessible tracks on the record are "It's Over Now," a breezy 60s-pop inspired gem that really should have been released as a single, and the peppy "To the People." In a recollection on, guitarist Alan Brain reflects, "The single Virgin chose to release from Snakes and Lovers was "Hide and Seek," which I felt was one of our weaker songs and I'm convinced that "It's Over Now" would have been the better choice. But then again, I've always been a sucker for the catchy, 3 minute pop song."

Other songs on the LP find the band taking a more atmospheric, abstract approach, such as the anthemic, hopeful "Adventurers," the powerful melodicism of "Crossing Borders," and "Style on Seaview," which can best be described as sounding like being in a dream. These songs represent pop music at its most intelligent and poignant. Also worth noting is Starrs' vocal delivery, which is no doubt one of the most emotive of its time and is instrumental in conveying the power of the material.

All of this adds up to make Snakes and Lovers a genuinely special, one of a kind record that was criminally ignored upon its release, thanks to a lack of marketing and support from the band's label, Virgin.

Although Interview's music still has not officially been reissued on CD, in recent years band members have put the albums to disc on their own and are currently marketing them through their Web site. In a comment on the music site PVAc to 44.1 kHz, Starrs explained, "We didn't make any money with Interview as Virgin were a very tough company to deal with but alot of people have enjoyed the albums over the years, it seems, and we're at least trying to make a few quids on our creations."

The band's site also includes samples of tracks from both Big Oceans and Snakes and Lovers.

For more information:
- Review and discography of Interview records plus an interview with vocalist Jeff Starrs
- "Great Lost Albums" review of Snakes and Lovers

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lolita Pop: Sweden's best kept pop secret

It’s usually not clear why an excellent band fails to achieve widespread recognition. It could be a lack of promotion, bad timing, or probably most often combination of factors. Swedish band Lolita Pop is a prime example of a truly special group that for whatever reason couldn’t break into the American market during their existence from 1979 to 1990 and still remain virtually unknown outside their home country.

Lolita Pop formed in Örebro, Sweden in 1979 with vocalist Karin Wistrand, guitarists Sten Booberg and Benkt Smith, bassist Thomas Johansson, drummer Peter Olsen and tenor saxophonist Per Eriksson. The band began as a post-punk/new wave outfit driven by their love of New York punk a la Patti Smith and Television, releasing their first album, Falska bilder, in 1982. It was a much darker, heavier affair than upbeat power pop they would come to be best known for a few years later, but two very important elements of the unit’s sound came through early on: the exuberant, slightly husky vocals of Wistrand and the hard-hitting guitar work of Booberg and Smith.

The band’s early days produced three additional Swedish LPs – Fem söker en skatt, Irrfärder, Att ha fritidsbåt – as well as their debut, self-titled English language release in 1984. For this release, they reworked some of the material from earlier, Swedish records into English. 1985 single “2000 år,” nicely summarizes the band's early sound:

After finding success in their home country, the band signed an American deal with Virgin and released their second English-language LP, once again titled simply Lolita Pop, in 1987. Despite a U.S. tour and a record full of incredibly catchy pop, the band never found a sizable American audience. Listening to the record more than 20 years after its release, it’s downright puzzling that infectious material such as “Mess of Machinery,” “Bang Your Head” and “Mind Your Eye” didn’t make a bigger dent in the States, as it’s arguably as good as anything else on the pop charts at the time.

Nevertheless, the band continued to score chart success in Sweden and reappeared in 1989 with Love Poison. Although this LP was also sung in English, this time there was no American promotional push, and the band’s biggest Swedish hit - the fantastic “Tarzan on a Big Red Scooter" - was mostly confined to their home country.

Love Poison was arguably Lolita Pop’s finest moment, full of hooky, guitar-driven pop and Wistrand’s best vocal delivery to date. The record gave the band another Swedish hit via the beautiful “Hey Winner,” and also featured an outstanding take on Magazine's biting post-punk anthem, "Song from Under the Floorboards."

Now recording exclusively in English, the band released what would be their final studio album, Blumenkraft, in 1990. The record featured many highlights, including the melodic single “Here She Comes” and the singalong power pop of “Live Forever,” “Wingbeats of the Night” and “Pay the Piper,” but it also contained more filler than most other Lolita Pop releases and overall didn’t receive a positive critical response. The band split soon after.

Since the break up, the band have reportedly played occasional one-off gigs, and Wistrand is currently involved in Jeremias Session Band. During their time, Lolita Pop might not have received the international attention they deserved, but with any luck intrepid new wave and power pop fans will begin discovering the band's music, no doubt some of the finest forgotten pop of its time.

Here are two of the band's albums - their 1981 debut, Falska Bilder (in Swedish) and their 1987 self-titled English LP.

Lolita Pop - Falska Bilder (1981)

Lolita Pop - self-titled LP (1987)

Lolita Pop lineup:

Founding members:
Karin Wistrand, vocals
Sten Booberg, guitar
Benkt Smith, guitar
Thomas Johansson, bass
Per Eriksson, tenor sax
Peter Olsen, drums
Other members:
Henrik Melin, Bass (1987)
Christer Björklund, drums

Lolita Pop discography:

Falska bilder (1982 –Swedish)
Fem söker en skatt (1983 – Swedish)
Irrfärder (1983 – Swedish)
Lolita Pop (1984 – first English language release)
Att ha fritidsbåt (1985 – Swedish)
Lolita Pop (1987 – second English language release, different than self-titled 1984 album)
Love Poison (1989 - English)
Blumenkraft (1990 – English, the band’s final LP)
Regn av dagar 1982-1990 (1993 – “best of” compilation)
Klassiker (2008 – 2 disc “best of” compilation)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Expressos - Unreleased tracks

A while ago I did a post on the brilliance of short-lived British power pop group the Expressos and their sole record, 1981's Promises and Ties. Fronted by the charming Rozzi Rayner, the band sounded sort of like a cross between early Blondie and the Pretenders, and even though much of their material was just as memorable and appealing as that of those bands, they're sadly remembered by few.

Although they broke up before they could follow-up Promises and Ties, they recorded some additional tracks that have never been heard - until now! Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, some unreleased tracks have surfaced:

"The Hurt" aka "Hurt in Your Eyes" - This was to be the band's final single, and it's a shame it never got released because it's a stunner. It has a much more serious mood than anything on the band's LP and a flawless vocal from Rozzi.

"Rehearsals in Hollywood" - The song that would have accompanied "The Hurt" if it had made it out as a single.

"Johnnie B Bad" - Total 60s girl-group, sounding kind of like "Da Doo Run Run."

"Three Rs" - More pure 60s girl-group.

"He's Got Something" - A cover of the classic Dusty Springfield tune.

"Crazy Sneakers" - Very representative of the late-70s power pop sound, reportedly coming from a session produced by none other than Nick Lowe!