Sunday, December 27, 2009


As the new year dawns I attempt to save my blog from total dissolution by embracing my love of pop music and celebrating my merry-go-round of recordings. Alphabetically. Incidentally, my shin keeps vibrating like a cell phone waiting to be answered. Just thought I'd mention it. So anyway, I am on the letter 'T'. It took me over a year to listen to artists that began with the letter 'S', listening to roughly 3 or 4 albums, records, cds, etc. a week. I swooned with Siouxsie, sashayed with Spirit, sensamilioned with smokin' Santana, and snacked with Steely Dan. I am so full of S.

I've accumulated a horde of 45rpm records and this past holiday weekend I listened to one of my favorite blue-eyed soul 45s, 1970's MA BELLE AMIE, by The Tee Set, (Colossus CS 107). Ah, what a record. A cascading organ scaling the earthy vocals backed by an impetuous wedding march beat, from a guy so in love with maybe a prostitute, it hurts, (use a lubricant, dear). Like The Beatles' Michelle, it includes just enough French language lyrics to sniff a neck by. B-side ANGELS COMING IN THE HOLY NIGHT, is the hyper-kinetic honeymoon of said wedding march, with Hans Van Eijck's organ again prominently figured. The Tee Set came out of Delft, Holland and scored an international hit with Ma Belle Amie, reaching #5 on the American charts in early 1970. Fairly much a one-hit-wonder in the U.S., their second single, She Likes Weeds, was a Number 1 hit in The Netherlands, but was banned in the States, as it was believed to be a reference to drug use. Lead singer Peter Tetteroo, co-writer of Ma Belle Amie, died in 2002 from liver cancer. My GOOD copy of MA BELLE AMIE has a market value of about 3 bucks. I mention this only because I love my penny ante marketplace.

Teenage Fanclub

My Teenage Fanclub CD-EP, 1992, rare though it may be is worth about 3 dollars. If the lukewarm, amateur pop band from Tom Hanks' film, That Thing You Do progressed to a bigger bullet on the charts instead of the one-hit wonder depicted, it may have sounded a lot like Teenage Fanclub from Scotland. Modest playing of juvenile pop junk, as adolescent as teen musicians with guitar an amp and a drum practicing in a garage with no more than a 6-pack of Coca-Cola to infuse the atmosphere. Kurt Cobain cited them as a major influence, but they're more like The Archies in real life than Nirvana. This four song CD single boasts disposable music with titles like B-SIDE, and FILLER, the latter being a short and tight drum and guitar infused rock and roller ending with an unremarkable roll on the drums, the former a dreary but magnetic Christmas song throwaway you might find on the b-side of a Sonny and Cher or Beach Boys 45 rpm circa 1966. WHAT YOU DO TO ME is the lead song and has much in common; catchy hook, cheery guitar strumming, with the title song from Hanks' film.

Japanese punk recorded live in the studio directly onto 4-track sounds as crude as the dullest needle on the oldest phonograph. Japan's TEENGENERATE, "Get Action!", Crypt CD-048, 1994, strikes that raw primal nerve I experienced when I first heard punk music coming out of England in the 1970s. Fast and furious punk, (is that a tongue in their cheek?), with the only absence of musical expertise being the lo-fi shadowy technology, which gives the sound a live and liberated blast. With member names like Fink, Fifi, Sammy, Suck and original drummer Shoe, TEENGENERATE seems on the verge of comedy, but this is serious punk with a serious smirk. The out of print "Get Action" CD has a market value of about 5 bucks.

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