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June 8, 2002
Bangs...Sounds of the 80s

I am not self-promoting. I swear up and down I'm not. But I added some songs to my Internet radio station playlists and I just need to rant and rave about how good they are, and point everyone reading this to those streams so that you can tune in and discover the same kick-ass artists that I have. Just click on the link to Late Bar Radio (right to the left of this post) and it'll take you to the right place. Go to the Meltdown station page for information and to tune in.

Kansas City record company Serious Vanity is releasing a compilation entitled Bangs...Sounds of the 80s on June 11th, 2002. There are two different versions: alternative/goth and rock. Each set contains two CDs; the first has covers of 80s songs and the second contains original music by contributing artists. All proceeds go to benefit RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. And here's the best part: each set is only $15.00. You cannot beat that price; not in the days when major labels want to charge $19.95 for their latest releases.

The reason I find it necessary to shamelessly point people to my streams, is that this music is...well...fantastic. I received the CDs from Serious Vanity about a week ago and I haven't been able to stop listening to them. I admit that I don't tend to purchase cover compilations. As I have mentioned in other posts, I am a music purist in many ways, and sometimes I just can't get over the original artists' renditions; I find them perfect (or close to it) and have a tough time digesting cover versions. So when I got involved in assisting in some promotion, I was not particularly excited about receiving the CDs; it was, you know, part of my duties as the Internet DJ for John Taylor's website, Trust the Process.

I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard on my CD player.

First, the covers; starting with the alternative/goth set: Kim Esty's cover of Jody Watley's "Don't You Want Me" is rocking and flawless. Platform One's rendition of Japan's "Method of Dance" is dark, brooding, and makes me want to do the "looking-for-my-keys" dance around my bedroom (that's the dance you see in goth clubs with a lot of looking at the floor with one's hands behind one's back...). Chinadoll's slow version of Tom Petty's "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" is fierce and powerful, while maintaining a soft, melodic interpretation. And Brand New Idol's "How Soon Is Now" makes me actually appreciate The Smiths (whom I normally hate).

I don't like everything on this CD; I could do without the goth interpretation of Arcadia's "Election Day" by Eric Alexandrakis (isn't the original goth enough already???) or the New Wave cut of Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" by 3SKS. But there are enough great covers here to convince me that the CD is worth every penny.

Next up, the covers on the rock set: George Lee, Jr. and the Crazed Cowboys add a great country flavor to the Dire Straights classic "Walk of Life". Dos Gatos' cover of the Talking Heads tune "And She Was" is fun, inducing a finger-snapping, head-bopping reaction from this listener; and it sounds like they had fun recording it, too! Just listen to the harmony in the chorus -- these guys were digging the song and it's great to hear that come through on the track. Nation of Lies adds a heavy metal edge to the classic punk tune "California Uber Alles" by the Dead Kennedys; the guitar is full and distorted and I am pretty sure, if you can believe it, they upped the tempo from the original. Now that takes some skill.... Who Hit John kept the piano intro from The Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays" and I was sad not to hear it throughout the track, but it is a cover, after all, and I ended up very pleased with their guitar-heavy rock interpretation. Loaded Dice's acoustic guitar version of "When the Children Cry" (originally by White Lion) is hauntingly beautiful, and serves as the whole compilation's theme song; during the instrumental break the singer talks about RAINN and who the profits of these CDs will benefit.

There are many more covers on the rock version, and as with the goth/alternative set, I wasn't pleased with every one of them. But there were enough tracks that I loved for me to give the CD as a whole a big head-banging thumbs up.

None of this is why I really love the CDs, though. What hooked me was the second CD in each set, the original music from the contributing artists. Every artist who submitted a cover tune also submitted an original tune. And man! These are some great bands! With purchase of both CDs, there is something for everyone.

On the alternative/goth version, Brand New Idol's "Someone Else's Eyes" is a great dance/goth/new wave track, taking me right back to my Friday nights at Stigmata, down at the Pyramid Club here in NYC in the early 90s. I wonder if they have their own CD release, 'cause I am ready to go out and buy it. Platform One's "A Time Without Decay" is similar in sound, urging me to look for my keys once again in my bedroom. Stacey Q's "Never Stop" is a thoroughly modern dance/house track, and Kim Esty's "Pictures" is a great example of a solo-female-with-kick-ass-guitar. I don't know how I ever lived without Chinadoll's "Glam", a glowing tribute to the 70s genre of the same name, and composed in a similar style.

The rock version comes with just as many pleasing original tracks. If you like heavy metal in the Metallica tradition, you'll dig "Jackknife" by Nation of Lies. Loaded Dice's "Dreamin'" fills the "sensitive-male" rock-nitch perfectly; there's nothing like an acoustic guitar and a melodic voice singing about the trials of a small-town girl. "Bruise" by Leslie Nuchow is harrowing; her voice is passionate and I'm right with her when she declares, "I want to talk to god....more than that I want him to respond..." Who can't identify with that? Haggis' "Turpentine" is my new theme song; he's talking about me in this one: "Do you remember 80s fashion...when wearing black would get you black 'n blue...Do you remember...jumping fences with all those people chasing after you." I sure do, baby! The rock CD has two bonus tracks by artists who did not appear on the cover CD; "Let Me Be" by Giola Bruno (another great example of a solo female), and "Nagel Baby" by Nagel Baby (if you are a John Taylor fan, you'll know the secret to this one; and it's a different cut of the track, too!).

There is so much more great music on these CDs. I hardly scratched the surface of each one. It is so wonderful to hear fresh, new music from independent artists when popular radio is saturated with so much repetitive, bland, over-produced pop tunes. Obviously a good deal of work went into this project, and this is one listener who really appreciates the effort. Once the CDs are released I am going to purchase a few copies for friends; the money goes to a great cause and I just must share this great music.

Go listen to the stations and hear 23 tracks from both the alternative/goth and rock editions. That isn't even half of what is on the CDs. This is a must buy for any music lover; I promise you will not be disappointed. And if you are....give 'em away to someone who might dig it more; your money is still well spent, even if you think I'm dead wrong on this review!!

posted by DJOktober at 3:04 PM | link this post!

June 6, 2002
Just so you know....

I have been neglecting my blog duties; yes I have. I am deeply sorry. Right now I am listening to so much good goddamn music on my computer, MP3 player, discman, and walkman (yeah, yeah, so I still use cassette tapes), that I am too overwhelmed to post anything intelligent about any of it.

So I'll leave it at this: I fucking love music.

That's all for now...I swear I'll have a deeper thought tomorrow...reallly...

Oh, and if you are in a band, why don't you try and cover a Duran Duran song? I'm gonna do it....with assistance from Duboce Triangle, that is. I ain't gonna tell you what we're doing...because they are forcing me to sing. Ugh...this could prove to be interesting.....

posted by DJOktober at 1:48 PM | link this post!