80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Nails

So many of the artists and bands featured in this series have been named “one-hit” wonders. Although this title may hold up from a statistical viewpoint, in many instances the artist/band did indeed have more than one “hit” (maybe just not a top-10 chart topper), and/or ultimately produced a much better body of work than the declared “hit.”

The Nails falls into the latter category. Formed in the mid-seventies in Boulder, CO, the group originally started out with Marc Campbell (vocals), George Kaufman (bassist, RIP 2009), Douglas Guthrie (saxophone), Mike Ratti followed by Dennis McDermott (drums), Dave Kaufman (keyboards), and Steve O’Rourke (guitar).

The Nails languished on the club circuit for several years before moving to New York. There, they recorded an EP in 1981 that contained the song they are most well-known for: “88 Lines About 44 Women.” Even though it contains unmistakable (and hilarious) double-entendres, “88 Lines” enjoyed widespread airplay, bringing the band well-deserved attention.

The problem is, The Nails have other New Wave gems that most of us have never heard. Thanks to airplay on such obscure-80’s focused shows as Ed-FM’s Retrospect , and David Marsden’s twice-a-week broadcast on 94.9 The Rock, some incredibly great Nails songs have surfaced. Ed-FM’s show has aired such nuggets as “Home of the Brave (Apocalyptic Bepop),” “Juanita Juanita,” “Hotel For Women,” “Things You Left Behind,” and “ Every Time I Touch You.” David Marsden keeps the infamous “88 Lines” alive, more importantly, fueling the band’s memory.

The band recorded three albums, only two of which were released in the 80’s. The third album, “Corpus Christi, decorated a shelf for 5 years before finally seeing the light of day in 1993. Fortunately, these collections are still in print and can be found here.

Again, the lesson here is if you loved a song that a band/ artist was noted for, or even if you think of a solid group/ artist that has been deemed a “one-hit wonder,” dig a little further. Chances are, there are songs that received no promotion for a multitude of reasons (corporate hubris), and that outshine the ones that were in heavy rotation.

“Home Of The Brave” via YouTube user dak8844:

“Let It All Hang Out” via YouTube user NormN354:

“Things You Left Behind” via YouTube user disident666:

 “88 Lines About 44 Women” via YouTube user Fronic:

Discography

Mood Swing (1984)
(1986)
(recorded 1988, released 1993)

Dangerous Dreams

Corpus Christi

David Marsden Birthday Cotillion ~ 3-14-2010

In honor of the annual David Marsden Birthday Cotillion held at Andy Poolhall in Toronto ON, Canada Sunday March 14, 2010, today’s feature is a video montage of the event.

Sistahmar, Roving Ambassador and founder of the Marsbar Theatre Chat Room, outdid herself with this festive occasion. Not only did most of the members of the chat room attend, so did alumni from the infamous CFNY radio station and also from 94.9 The Rock, where David currently broadcasts each Saturday and Sunday night from 7 pm until midnight.

Many sincere thanks to Dan Hurley, Felix029 (Bruce), and Warrlock (Randy) for sharing your photos to make this production possible. Also, a huge thank you to Rob Stuart and Slave to the SQUAREwave for so graciously allowing me to use their fantastic music again this year as a backdrop for the montage. And, Andy Poolhall, Toronto, ON once again was kind enough to open their doors on a usual day off to provide a gathering place for the party. Hats off to you, too.

“David Marsden Birthday Cotillion ~ 3-14-2010” via YouTube user MissParker0106:

View video footage and interviews from the party by clicking here: http://www.torontonews24.com/video/viewvideo/97/behind-the-scene-at-toronto-news-24/marsbars

80’s Music Rules ~ Legendary DJ David Marsden and His New Broadcast Schedule

(Click the link for previous posts about David Marsden.)

Canadian DJ David Marsden has been an icon of free-form broadcasting for the past four decades. Imagine radio as you would personally program it, and look no further. David has given life to the word “eclectic” by successfully combining music that is multi-genre, spans different musical periods, and is usually found way under the radar.

Marsden’s most well-known accomplishment, besides being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was launching CFNY back in the late 70’s from a small yellow house in Brampton, ON. It was here that he gave life to little-known bands, and coined a name for his type of off-the-cuff broadcasting – “free-form.” CFNY became such a vital presence to radio broadcasting that it was the subject of Rush’s 1980 hit “Spirit of Radio.”

Recently, David has been a well-received and popular fixture at 94.9 FM The Rock out of Oshawa, Ontario Canada. Broadcasting live and streaming over the Internet, his show has had a solid seven-year run on Thursday and Friday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight (EST). Four years ago, “Sistahmar,” roving Ambassador for the Marsbar Theatre, opened a chat room located on a portalx server. While the show is in progress, fans from all over the world gather in the chat room to discuss life, the universe, and above all, music amongst themselves and with David himself. It’s a cheerful, warm gathering place for like-minded folks to kick back, relax, and form lasting bonds. The members of the “Marsbar Family” celebrate each other’s victories and hold one another up through life’s challenges. Newcomers are warmly welcomed and encouraged to visit.

So, you can imagine the international uproar as a result of last week’s announcement with David stating on the air he had something very important to share with all of us. He thought he would be able to make the full announcement this past Thursday night, but was foiled by a legal snafu. Instead, all he would share, before closing the show, was that it would be the last Thursday he would be broadcasting from The Rock.

This news stunned everyone, and spread like wildfire via email and social networking sites. Speculation abounded, not all of it positive. Was David going to retire? Was he only going to broadcast Friday nights? Was he leaving The Rock and moving on to another venue? Friday dragged by and stomach butterflies multiplied for many of us as we waited for 7 p.m. and the start of the show. Status statements on FaceBook were not encouraging as a number of fans came to grips with worst-case scenarios. Bottom line, no matter what David had decided, we all only wanted the best for him. After giving his entire life to making others happy, he more than deserves the same happiness for himself.

At approximately 9:20 p.m. last night, David finally shared his plan with us. In addition to the untold thousands tuned in worldwide, a record-breaking fifty-five fans gathered in the chat room to hear the news. It was awkward for those of us on time-delay (43 seconds for the broadcast to reach my speakers here in south Florida) as the comments in the chat room flew by. They started out being full of fear and consternation, and ended up as cheering and verbal high-fiving. As David’s words finally reached my ears, I was already overjoyed by the reactions I was reading as they scrolled by in super-fast motion. The announcement: David was staying on with The Rock and moving his two-night show to Saturday and Sunday nights from 7 p.m. until midnight, starting March 6th. What a win-win situation – for David, his fans, and The Rock.

Here’s to the start of a new Marsbar Theatre era; one that is sure to be filled with laughs, fantastic music, warmth, good cheer, great friends, and above all, David Marsdens’s own unique brand of fan-centric free-form broadcasting. It doesn’t get any better than this.

To view David’s music lists, visit RalphD’s website.

Some music you might hear on David Marsden’s show from 94.9 The Rock:

“Japan – Quiet Life” via YouTube user ecallender:

“Slave to the SQUAREwave – Healing Hands” via YouTube user slavetothesquarewave:

 “Brendan Canning – Love Is New” via YouTube user artscrafts:

“Sisters Of Mercy – Lucretia, My Reflection” via YouTube user rhubarbcream:

“Timber Timbre – Lay Down In The Tall Grass” via YouTube user fluffywalrus:

 “Lou Reed – Dirty Boulevard” via YouTube user jasonjarvis1988:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Classix Nouveaux

Before I get underway, I want to thank Moezy for her kind words in the Marsden Theatre chat room last night. I took last weekend off because I was getting over “the crud” that’s going around here like a wildfire fueled by gasoline. Moezy told me she missed my weekly “Criminally Underrated” feature. That meant a lot to me because at times it feels like sharing my thrill for underrated 80’s New Wave and Post-punk music is transmitted into a vacuum. So, thank you Moezy for lighting a fire under me to get this written.

Last night on 94.9 The Rock, David Marsden played “Robots Dance” by Classix Nouveaux. That was my inspiration for today’s “Criminally Underrated” piece. When I hear a fabulous group from my favorite era, many times I am astounded by the “six degrees of separation” information that my subsequent research uncovers.

Wikipedia tells me that Classix Nouveaux was formed by former X-Ray Spex bandmates Jak Airport and B.P. Hurding, along with Sal Solo and Mik Sweeney. They first recorded a 4-track EP that included the aforementioned “Robots Dance.” The song ultimately caught the attention of United Artists, and the band was signed.

Classix Nouveaux is lumped along with Japan (David Sylvian!) and Ultravox in defining the term “New Romantic,” a sub-genre of New Wave. While I recognize the parameters that define the New Romantic genre, looking back lovingly on the rich 80’s music scene as a whole, I find it an unnecessary classification. To me, the music that defined the era can be easily classified as simply New Wave and/or Post-punk, with a smattering of music that fits into both.

Classix Nouveaux was, unfortunately, short-lived which seems to be the fate of so many criminally underrated artists and bands. They produced three LPs of material, and by 1984 were experiencing major personnel changes. The group managed to score a number one hit in Poland before completely fading into obscurity. Sal Solo made the UK top 20 with his “Hardest Hits” entry “San Damiano,” which also came in at number one once again in Poland. In 1985, the final iteration of the band toured more as a support for Sal Solo, then quietly disbanded.

Classix Nouveaux music is still available here. Sal Solo’s website provides more insight into the group’s short life. And then, of course, there are a few select videos on YouTube that you can preview. Feast your ears, and perhaps you’ll decide to make Classix Nouveaux a welcome addition to your obscure and underrated 80’s New Wave and Post-punk music collection.

“Guilty” via YouTube user kiilakas777:

“Never Again” via YouTube user astronaut2005:

“Is It A Dream” via YouTube user R4949:

 “Robots Dance” via YouTube user cujo80676:

Discography

Night People (1981)

La Verite (1982)

Secret (1983)

Merry Christmas Mr. Marsden ~ 2009

I have written about Canadian DJ David Marsden’s Christmas Eve show in the past, and how moving, funny, poignant, and thoughtful it is. Although I have not had the pleasure of listening for the past 28 or so years like many very fortunate folks have, it has definitely become a part of my Christmas Eve tradition and will remain so, for hopefully many more years to come.

At the heart of this spectacular 5+ hours production is David’s own story of a Christmas Eve past, all those years ago, when walking home alone from his job as a DJ. After reaching deep within himself and empathizing with all of the other lonely souls he encountered that fateful night, he made a vow; he would do everything in his power to provide a warm, welcoming place for those who had no one else to be with, or no other place to go to gather, listen to some songs, and share some stories. David’s gift to everyone who listens then and now, is the gift of friendship, of self-worth, of camaraderie, and of love.

David works long and hard for several weeks prior to this special production, ensuring that everything is perfect. He enlists the aid of Happy Pants (Igor Loukine) to provide periodic updates on where Santa is and a preview of the presents he is carrying. David works the cast of regular listeners and chat room attendees into his stories and shout-outs to make the night even more personalized and outstanding. Tears of joy are intermingled with those of laughter as the evening runs the gamut of every emotion. This is truly the release that so many of us need after the stresses and strains of real life. One couldn’t buy a comparable five hours of therapy from a licensed practitioner. David knows just what  musical elixirs and soothing words we need to guide us through whatever life throws at us.

Last night, David broke with tradition to honor Canada’s latest fallen soldier, Lieutenant Andrew Nuttal. For those of you who reside outside of Canada, you may not be familiar with a beautiful ceremony that Canadians use to honor their fallen soldiers, Highway of Heroes. Each time a fallen hero is returned home and laid to rest, their final journey is a procession along Canada’s Highway 401. People from all over gather on the bridges carrying Canadian flags to salute their beloved comrade as he or she passes below. David said that he couldn’t let the night pass without mention of these brave men and women who have given their all to protect their country and fellow citizens. He played “Highway of Heroes” in their honor, and there wasn’t a dry eye among listeners everywhere.

Highway of Heroes Tribute via YouTube user SentinelReview:

Highway of Heroes via YouTube user Toronto Songwriter:

Speaking of the chat room, this has been a labor of love started by Sistahmar many years ago as a Yahoo group. When they outgrew that venue, Sistahmar was instrumental in setting up the room as it now exists, approximately 4 years ago. While David is on the air, it has become a place for friends, fans, and the just plain curious to wander in and out of, intermingling with fellow audiophiles and longtime listeners. David makes it a point to be there during his Thursday and Friday night broadcasts, greeting each participant and sharing his wealth of musical information. To check out some of David’s playlists, go to RalphD’s website. This will give you an idea of the treasures you will hear when you join us.

David is on a short break and will return to his regular [edit:] Saturday and Sunday night (7 pm- midnight EST) free-form broadcasting on Jaunary 7, 2010. Go to 94.9 The Rock’s website and click the “Listen Live” button to experience a master at work. David’s induction into the Hall of Fame was not by happenstance; he earned his reputation as the champion of incredibly wonderful non-mainstream artists and the master of free-form broadcasting at its finest. Give yourself a gift this coming year and tune in to David Marsden’s program. Go to his website Marsden Global and click on the chat room link where you will be greeted by people (Sistahmar and all of the regulars) who will make you feel like they have known you forever.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Marsden. You have enriched so many people’s lives in ways that you can never know. I am one of those people and I am very grateful for you and all that you do.

80’s Music Rules ~ Legendary DJ David Marsden

bigmars1In light of the sad events of this week, I’ve decided to start appreciating the people that mean the most to me while I still have them. I’ve written about David Marsden previously, but it seems I cannot say enough how much that man has enriched my life over the short period of time that I’ve gotten to know him.

It all started in March 2008, just a little over a year ago. One of the wonderful things about writing a blog is that you get to meet like-minded people from all over the world. Prior to WordPress, I wrote Rave and Roll over at Blogger (long story about why I left – totally off-topic). Somehow, and I can’t remember who wrote first, I met a fellow music blogger from Canada named RalphD when music-related comments were traded.

RalphD runs a fabulous blog dedicated to David Marsden called Marsbar Theatre. One thing led to another, and RalphD convinced me to listen to David’s show streaming live from 94.9 The Rock out of Oshawa, Ontario. Just to be able to say that I finally acquiesced, I tuned in one night and was shocked when I became instantly hooked. The show is my musical equivalent of crack. 

Where has David Marsden been my entire life? Blazing an incredible trail through the broadcast world. He took a formulaic industry and turned it completely upside down. Picture this: It’s early in the 1980’s and stuffed shirts are gathered in a conference room plotting how to run a business swiftly going downhill. The reason? MTV and music videos were kicking the stuffing out of radio. The solution? Instead of making radio more entertaining to try to win a losing battle, said stuffed shirts decided to dictate to the world what they would hear and how it would be delivered.

David Marsden emerged at this time in a little yellow-house-converted-to-radio-station as an absolute visionary. At the helm of fledgling CFNY-FM out of Brampton, Ontario, he broke every rule as he pioneered and championed free-form broadcasting. No rules, just honest-to-goodness music and dialogue that came totally from the heart and soul of a true revolutionary. marsden

And he transformed lives on both sides of the border. I have heard the stories first-hand from people who came of age during Marsden’s reign, who listen to him to this day, and revel in the memories he helped to create. I feel pangs of envy as I hear them talk of discovering the best music they ever heard, or how they woke up every morning smiling as they listened to the funniest and warmest on-air personalities. That was the time that radio lost its magic for me here in south Florida. Truth be told, it sucked rancid canal water.

How I sit and dream of how life might have been had there been satellite radio, or even the Interwebs back then, and I, too, could have been blessed with Marsden’s presence on the airwaves. Instead, I am grateful to RalphD for twisting my arm, to all of the wonderful people in Canada and beyond that I have met in David’s chat room (superbly run and overseen by the delightful Sistahmar), and for the heartfelt (and sometimes hilarious!) shout-outs that David has sent my way that have made me both laugh and cry when I needed it the most. Each Thursday and Friday night is like a gift waiting to be unwrapped and enjoyed. David is on a well-deserved break this week, but I really, really  miss him. Next Thursday night (July 2) simply won’t come quickly enough. As Sistahmar would say, “Only 7 more sleeps.”

Check out RalphD’s blog Marsbar Theatre where you can see David’s amazing musical playlists.

Visit David Marsden’s website to gain a bit of insight into this DJ Hall-of-Famer.

Listen to David Marsden’s show on 94.9 The Rock Thursday and Friday nights (starting again on July 2, 2009) from 7 pm until midnight (EST).

Read up on some vital CFNY history at the Spirit of Radio website, lovingly maintained by a fan.

Some of the music I’ve “discovered” thanks to the legendary David Marsden:

“Worlds Away” by Strange Advance via YouTube user mysweeteventhorizon:

“Lover’s Spit” by Broken Social Scene via YouTube user apalko:

“Butcher Blues” by Kasabian via YouTube user InFearofDub:

“Haunted When The Minutes Drag” by Love & Rockets via YouTube user nezror:

“Violet Light” by Raised by Swans via YouTube user cloudtifa:
 

“Of Bow and Drum” by Adrian Belew via youTube user rockgod111:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Pukka Orchestra

PO

(Exciting updates: Have heard from Tony Duggan-Smith [see comments] – he and Neil Chapman are performing with Steve Heathcote, Matt Horner, Glenn Olive, and Russell Walker in a band called Autocondo. Check out the YouTube link below and look for their new CD!

Also, Tony added this historical fact: “As a historical note: The Pukka’s received the 1985 CASBY Award for ‘Most Promising Group’ but for some reason this seems to have slipped through the cracks of internet history.
Neil and I were both at the awards and Graeme had just fallen  ill in Scotland. We were shocked when we won and In classic canadian style, the night ended with my walking home in the rain with the CASBY under my coat. The limo’s parked outside the Hall were for the record execs only!  Funny old world isn’t it!”)

This entry is a delight to write – not only does it entail the description of a criminally underrated-yet-gifted 80’s band, they are also from Toronto which is where much of my favorite 80’s music originated.

 Pukka Orchestra – now that’s a mouthful! All of the visions the name conjures up – exotic, big sound, foreign rhythms and influences – simply are not true. Just a superbly talented trio that had the capability of making their mark in a burgeoning world of music, but couldn’t due to mitigating outside forces.

 The mainstay core of the short-lived group was made up of Tony Duggan-Smith (guitar), Neil Chapman (guitar), and Graeme Williamson (singer/songwriter). The band originally formed in Toronto in 1979, releasing “Rubber Girl” in 1981, and their one and only album, “Self-Titled,” in 1984. This collection is a brilliant assembly of tunes that include critically acclaimed “Cherry Beach Express,” “Rubber Girl,” “Listen to the Radio,” and “Your Secret Is Safe With Me.”PO_a

 After releasing the album, Williamson became ill with kidney problems and the group disbanded. After about a year, Williamson was able to recover from his ailment and move back to Toronto from Scotland by receiving a kidney transplant. He briefly rejoined Pukka Orchestra in an attempt to release a second LP in 1988. For whatever reasons, the reunion failed and the album was scrapped.

 Neil Chapman continues to perform to this day in and around the TO area. DJ David Marsden frequently gives Pukka Orchestra songs airplay on his weekly show (Thurs. and Fri. nights, 7 pm-midnight Eastern) from 94.9 The Rock out of Oshawa, ON. Whenever I hear “Might As Well Be On Mars,” I have to stop what I am doing to become completely absorbed emotionally into it. Don’t let the cheesy video fool you – this is one very powerful song, both musically and lyrically.

 Unfortunately, even finding information on them is a challenge. Wikipedia has a short blurb along with a discography. And then there’s the Official Pukka Orchestra (http://pukkaorchestra.com/) web page that brings the reader a bit more insight into this enormously gifted band. I was able to dig up only two examples of their music on video:

 “Listen to the Radio” via YouTube user kurdtss:

“Might As Well Be On Mars” via YouTube user kurdtss:

 If you care to experience an important part of the Canadian post-punk scene, download what’s available from Pukka Orchestra at Amazon for a reasonable cost. It’s definitely worth it.

Update: New video from Autocondo consisting of Tony Duggan-Smith, Neil Chapman, Steve Heathcote, Matt Horner, Glenn Olive, and Russell Walker. Purchase Autocondo here.

“Paralyzed” by Autocondo via YouTube user autocondo:

  Discography

 Purchase Pukka Orchestra here.   

po_1Self-Titled (released in 1984)
 

 
PO-2The Place of Memory (EP released 1986)

PO_3Dear Harry (released in 1992)