Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The CHERRY Best: Strolling Through The CHERRY RED catalog, Part One




     Anyone that knows me is fully aware that I LOVE Cherry Red Records and the myriad of labels under it's umbrella.  From the Punk classics that make up ANAGRAM RECORDS' catalog to the constant flow of great R&B/Soul/Funk reissues under the BBR banner, I have nothing but pure, unadulterated love for what they do.  Each label is run by folks that seem to share the same passion that I have for music.  I admire and envy everyone involved with all the label imprints that Cherry Red releases. Yeah, I'm a fan to say the least. 
Cherry Red is more than just about music distribution: it's about music education.  There are so many genres to choose from: Country, Rock, New Wave, Metal, R&B, Bossa Nova, Post Punk, Prog Rock, Jazz, Punk and any other genre you can think of.  Their releases are mostly reissues (with bonus tracks!) but they do unleash new music by veteran artists and up and coming acts alike.  

   As for me, I've been an avid collector of reissues, mostly stuff from the '70s and '80s, on labels such as Cherry Pop, Lemon, BBR, Hot Shot and others. Almost everything I have from the label were titles that I used to own the vinyl when they were first released.  But with bonus tracks and liner notes, I obviously upgraded my collection and now own them on CD.  I'm not one of those that bothers with the 'vinyl vs. CD' sound quality debate.  I think CDs sound great and Cherry Red releases are worth every hard earned penny you pay for them.

     I've decided to list some of my favorites below.  There are titles that I've written about elsewhere on this blog (check them out here) but these are releases that I may have acquired before I started blogging or maybe they are things that I finally got around to purchasing recently.  Either way, I wanted to share them in a series of posts and bring them to your attention.  I've listed them alphabetically to make it easier to read/skim through...

Manufactured Pop groups have been around for ages. We all know about The Monkees, but it goes back much further than that.  Look at Fabian and all the teen idols in the late '50s and early '60s!  But in the '80s, bands were so colorful and outrageous that it was hard to tell the difference between an act trying to earn respect and one that was trying to make as much money as they could before they fell off the charts.  In my opinion, Haysi Fantayzee never tried to be anything more than a fun little Pop experiment that just happened to be successful.  Just like Bucks Fizz, Boney M and all the boy bands of the '90s, they were put together by a producer/songwriter who needed somebody to sing and look good in front of the camera while he pulled all the strings.  This duo were perfect for the job... and their success, albeit short-lived, has managed to survive the test of time. This is their 1982 album plus a plethora of bonus material including remixes.  It's utterly bonkers cheese... but it's the tastiest cheese imaginable! (Cherry Pop)


Oh, how I love the song "Rock Your Baby"!  Here it is, nearly 40 years after it came out and I'm still absolutely crazy about that song!  It may have been a precursor to the Disco phenomenon, but that is OK by me.  I think Disco had a lot of great artists involved... from the singer on the cover to the producer behind the mixing board.  When things groove together properly, the results are stunning.  That is the case with "Rock Your Baby".  For those who don't know, the songwriters and producers behind this album were Harry Casey and Rchard Finch, who would later go on to fame and fortune as the brains behind KC & The Sunshine Band. As for the rest of the album, it follows the formula set by the title track, although there are a few variations here and there.  In a nutshell, it's fantastic!  (BBR) 

This Synthpop trio were one of the great unsung bands of the New Romantic era.  They released a slew of singles in the UK but never an album.  There was an EP released in the U.S. entitled Passion In Dark Rooms, but that's the closest they ever got to issuing an album.  That is a total shame because they were fantastic.  The fine folks at Cherry Red compiled all of their singles onto this disc, making it the closest thing to a full-length. In fact, the first 11 tracks make up one heck of a great listen.  The remaining seven tracks are extended mixes (plus two original versions of songs from an indie release).  From start to finish, this should satisfy anyone looking for The Mood on CD plus anyone looking for some great obscure Synth/New Romantic sounds. (Cherry Pop)


I've been a fan of R. Stevie Moore since the early '80s.  While I stupidly don't own everything, I can vouch for his undeniable talent.  He is often called 'eccentric' and 'weird', but I'd  prefer to use the term 'a man with a limitless musical imagination'.  He's been recording music probably longer than most of us have been alive yet he remains on the fringe of the music business.  He is respected and loved... and deservedly so.  Not everything he records is genius, but, in a way, that is what makes him a genius. He is not afraid to put himself out there and to attempt new things, musically. Often times, that is where the magic happens. There have been many compilations released of his music, and they are all worthwhile.  This one, the first of two collections that Cherry Red put out, is the one I'd recommend for anyone interested in the roots of lo-fi recordings.  Yes, almost everything here was recorded in his bedroom...  He is an artist that deserves much more than a mention in this post... and I will soon get around to one entirely devoted to him, but for now, this is a highly recommended release. (Cherry Red)


Terry Hall was already known as the 'two album wonder'.  He fronted The Specials for two albums then went off and did the same for Fun Boy Three (featuring Lynval and Neville from The Specials as well).  Then, after two albums, he left FB3 and formed The Colourfield.  Guess how many albums they put out before he split with The Colourfield?  Yep, two.  But he broke his streak with this sole 1989 album that he recorded with Blair Booth and Anouchka Groce. While he was known as the most miserable man in Pop music, Terry Hall had (and still has) a wickedly funny sense of humor.  This sprightly, fun album didn't set the charts on fire like his previous bands, but it is just as worthy of anything that he's been involved with.  This is the full album with two bonus tracks including their fantastic cover of "Love Will Keep Us Together". By the way, Cherry Red has also reissued the first FB3 album and both albums by The Colourfield, all with bonus tracks. (Cherry Red)

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