Thursday, January 22, 2004

Songs from 1984

To celebrate Chinese New Year, I have some songs that came out about twenty years ago. Wow, that makes me feel old.

Christmas (the band) are probably best known as 1. the group that Yo La Tengo's current bass player James McNew used to be in and 2. the group that turned into Combustible Edison. I wonder if anyone remembers the blurb in Spin about their first album In Excelsior Dayglo, which called it among the best debuts ever. That record still isn't out officially on CD (someone ought to do something about this...a re-release with a few bonus tracks would be nice). In the meantime, though, the nice folks at Hyped2Death have a couple of early Christmas singles on their Homework #9 compilation. The Homework series compiles hard-to-find indie-type releases that came out from 1979-1985 (Game Theory fans might want to know that #9 also includes one Alternate Learning song from the Painted Windows album). Here's Christmas doing a Boys Town Work Song that's somewhat different from the album version.

The Jazz Butcher's second album, A Scandal In Bohemia, also came out in 1984. If anyone wants to explain what Caroline Wheeler's Birthday Present is about, I still want to know. Nothing else by the Jazz Butcher sounds remotely like this, to the best of my knowledge.

Finally, get funky with Sex Machine from the Flying Lizards' 1984 album Top Ten. I like this description (taken from a website that doesn't seem to work today):

'Top Ten' takes takes catchy and memorable songs and removes everything catchy and memorable from them whatsoever...David [Cunningham] seemed to listen carefully to each song he covered, decided what it was exactly that made it "special", then mathematically inverted that quality (he appropriately dedicated all the songs on 'Top Ten' to Johann Maelzel, inventor of the metronome).

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