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They didn’t write that?: Hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs (Part Two)
08:59 am

One-hit wonders


This is the second part of a continuing series. Part One can be found HERE.

Recently a friend hipped me to a song that I had NO IDEA existed, having thought for decades that the COVER of it by an ‘80s one-hit-wonder band was the original and only version that was ever recorded. This led to a conversation about hit songs that we didn’t at first realize were covers—sometimes not discovering the original versions until many years after the fact. A few friends joined in and at the end of the conversation I had a list of nearly 50 songs that were “surprise” cover versions.

As a public service to Dangerous Minds readers, I’m sharing this list so that you can wow your friends at parties with your vast musical knowledge. Granted, our readership is a smart and savvy bunch, so undoubtedly you’ll come across songs on this list and say “I already knew about that.” Of course you did, but indulge the rest of us. Hopefully, though, something here will surprise you.

We’ll be rolling this list out in parts over the next few weeks. In no particular order, this is Part Two of Dangerous Minds’ list of hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs.

The song: “Cum On Feel The Noize”

You know it from: Quiet Riot

But it was done first by: Slade

Quiet Riot’s massive 1983 hit was a cover of a 1973 number one UK single by Slade. Quiet Riot’s cover took their Metal Health LP to the top of Billboard album chart, making it the first American heavy metal debut album to ever reach number one in the United States. It also helped to belatedly “break” Slade in the U.S. where they had some minor success with their single “Run Runaway.” Quiet Riot’s good fortune with “Cum on Feel the Noize” led to them doing a second Slade cover, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” on their follow-up album. The second dip into the Slade song-pool did not prove as successful.



The song: “Bette Davis Eyes”

You know it from: Kim Carnes

But it was done first by: Jackie DeShannon

Kim Carnes’ 1981 recording of “Bette Davis Eyes” spent nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was Billboard‍ ’​s biggest hit of that year. It was originally recorded in 1974 on Jackie DeShannon’s album New Arrangement. The original version is drastically different from Carnes’ new-wavey cover. DeShannon’s recording is straight up honky-tonk.

Many more after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The MTV music video that’s still giving people nightmares over 30 years later
09:19 am

One-hit wonders


This post is brought to you by an actual nightmare I had last night.

I’ve been a life-long fan of horror films, indeed my favorite cinematic genre, but rarely, if ever, do they actually scare me. As much as I enjoy fright flicks, they don’t haunt me. I often think its weird when people say that they have nightmares about Jason or Freddy or Michael Myers. To me those guys are famous larger-than-life characters who don’t really relate to the truly frightening things we experience or think about experiencing in real life.

I believe many of our deepest fears are things that were filed away as children. I think this is, perhaps, why Stephen King is such a successful author: he understands that the images that frighten us as kids (like, say, clowns) hold the most power in frightening us as adults. It may have something to do with the way the brain processes and files information, storing it deep down in the folds before the frontal lobe has a chance to fully develop in our mid twenties.

So, while horror villains don’t really haunt my nightmares, there are definitely certain images that do. Case in point, the images I had the misfortune of dreaming about last night. They come from what is perhaps the most frightening music video ever made (or at least it was the most frightening one I had the displeasure of viewing as a kid and having my brain irreparably damaged by.)

Remember ‘80s one-hit-wonder, Kim “Bette Davis Eyes” Carnes? She had an almost-second-hit which went to number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart titled “Draw Of The Cards.” The video for this song is a fucking nightmare, and I’m not the only person who thinks so.

The video for “Draw of the Cards” was directed by famed ‘80s music-clip director Russell Mulcahy of MGMM productions. We talked about MGMM here at Dangerous Minds recently in our article about the middle-aged bald guy that appeared in a ridiculous amount of ‘80s music videos. Incidentally, a thorough scanning of “Draw of the Cards” failed to turn up a spotting of the infamous middle-aged bald guy. But that’s not important right now.

What is important is this ghastly dreamscape that Mulcahy has created for a song which was inexplicably released as a single. I say “inexplicably” because the song is devoid of hooks, it’s slow—but not a ballad (or sexy), the bass and synth lines are creepy, and Carnes performance sounds like a failed Rod Stewart attempt at slam poetry. It’s not necessarily that it’s bad (it is), it’s just a bizarre choice for a single release. The only song I can think of that was ever a “hit” with a similar creepy/brooding vibe was Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” and I’ve always been sort of baffled how that one ever became a hit, let alone a classic rock staple—but, hey, it was the ‘80s and things were kind of weird. Speaking of weird, THIS VIDEO.

In the opening post-apocalyptic scene, Carnes is surrounded by interpretive dancers in Carnival and harlequin garb, giving the proceedings a bit of a voodoo feel, which is a fine visual representation of what’s happening with the bass and bongo rhythm section of the song.

The action then moves to a location that appears to be a ballroom which might be described as “Buckminster Fuller through a Dr Caligari lens.” In this dreamscape, gravity is selective, and various denizens inexplicably float up into the air—which is rather off-putting. People begin to do zombie-like spastic dances as a witch doctress tarot-reader looks on. In the video’s defense, I will say that few pieces of film (Eraserhead comes to mind) so successfully capture the mis-en-scene and bizarro-logic of the dreamstate (though, thankfully my own dreams are relatively devoid of modern interpretive dance).

Things take a turn for the worst when Carnes goes through a looking glass and comes out the other side in a freaky back-alley, populated by herky-jerky dancers with contorted faces, some of whom are randomly ON FIRE.


In this ghoulish hellscape, gravity does not apply to saxophone players.

After the jump, the mutant-populated back-alley scene!

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
They didn’t write that?: Hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs (Part One)
10:22 am

One-hit wonders


Recently I had a friend hip me to a song that I had no idea existed, having thought for decades that the later cover of it by an ‘80s one-hit-wonder band was the original and only version ever recorded. This epiphany led to a conversation about hit songs that we didn’t at first realize were covers—sometimes not discovering the existence of the original versions until many years after the fact. A few friends joined in, and at the end of the conversation I was sitting on a list of nearly 50 well-known hit songs that were “surprise” cover versions.

As a public service to Dangerous Minds readers, I’m going to share this list so that you too can wow your friends at parties with your vast musical knowledge. Granted, our readership is a smart and savvy bunch, so undoubtedly you’ll come across songs on this list and you’ll say “I already knew about that.” Yes, of course you did, but do indulge the rest of us, won’t you? Hopefully, though, there’s something here to surprise even you.

We’ll be rolling this list out in parts over the next few weeks. In no particular order, this is Part One of Dangerous Minds’ list of hits you (probably) didn’t realize were cover songs.

The song: “Obsession”
You know it from: Animotion
But it was done first by: Michael Des Barres and Holly Knight

“Obsession” was a 1984 smash for one-hit-wonders Animotion, but it was originally recorded a year earlier in 1983 by Silverhead and Detective lead singer Michael Des Barres and Grammy-winning songwriter, Holly Knight. Incidentally, this is the song that started the conversation that resulted in this entire list.



The song: “King of the Nighttime World”
You know it from: KISS
But it was done first by: Kim Fowley and the Hollywood Stars

“King of the Nighttime World” appeared on KISS’ 1976 platinum album Destroyer, but it was originally recorded in 1974 by producer, performer, and Runaways’ Svengali, Kim Fowley. Fowley’s version has slightly different lyrics and a more laid-back groove.



The song: “Wild in the Streets”
You know it from: The Circle Jerks
But it was done first by: Garland Jeffreys

“Wild in the Streets,” one of The Circle Jerks’ signature tunes, was the title track from their second album. Most punks in 1983 probably didn’t know that the song was actually a cover of a 1973 number written by Garland Jeffreys after hearing about a pre-teen rape and murder in the Bronx.



The song: “Gloria”
You know it from: Laura Branigan
But it was done first by: Umberto Tozzi

Laura Branigan’s signature song, her 1982 hit, “Gloria,” was on the Billboard chart for 36 weeks—but prior to that it was a huge 1979 hit in Italy for Umberto Tozzi.

Many more cover versions that you didn’t know were cover versions after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Bobby Fuller’s original demo of ‘I Fought the Law’ is a lot better than the version we all know
06:03 pm

One-hit wonders


The Bobby Fuller Four’s version of Sonny Curtis’ “I Fought the Law” has been a beloved fixture in the American pop song canon for very good reason. It’s got a lot going for it: a catchy riff, a wonderful, wistful vocal performance, lost love, rebel cache (“I fought the law…”), fatalism (”…the law won”), and one of the most indelible singalong choruses in the entire history of choruses. And for those who know Fuller’s life story, the song has an undercurrent of the tragic to it—he was found dead under shockingly tawdry and mysterious circumstances just months after releasing the record that would finally bring him enduring fame.

But while the last half-century has been very kind to the song, 2015 is already shaping up to be a great year for it. The 1966 Mustang Records single has been inducted into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame despite never actually having won a Grammy—to be fair, in the categories it might have qualified for, nods went to Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and the Mamas & the Papas, all obviously worthies, so it’s not like the song was slighted—and Fuller’s original self-recorded demo of the song is finally getting a proper release, on the long-running archivist/garage label Norton Records, as a 7”. It’s been on some limited rarities comps here and there, but has never until now known the tender kiss of sweet, sweet vinyl.

I’m actually kind of excited about this, way out of all proportion to how much I usually give a fuck about the nth reissue of a song I’ve heard a million times since childhood, because for all the world, I think the demo version is just flat-out better than the official release we all know. Bobby Fuller experimented heavily with recording process. During some of the years he spent striving to become known as a musician, he also ran the independent record label Exeter, and he did his own engineering. In the new Fuller bio titled—oh, you’re never gonna believe this—I Fought the Law, co-authored by Fuller’s brother/bassist Randell and Norton Records honcho Miriam Linna, Fuller pal Rick Stone recalls:

“I was at a recording session of I Fought the Law. Bobby set up everything, ran the whole show, did all the work setting up and running things. He had to run through the den, then through the garage and into the storage room, which was his control booth. He had two Ampex machines in there and he’d built some cubicles out of chicken wire and burlap just before that session, so he was really going for a home version of a real recording studio at that point. I got over to his place about 9:30 and Bobby was still working on it at 4:30. It was pretty wild.

So let’s A/B the versions! Here’s the one everyone’s used to, the Mustang Records release from 1966:

And here’s the demo version, freshly remastered for vinyl. YouTube compression is probably eating some of that nuance for breakfast, but the differences that really count are plain as day.

Nice, no? I love the double-tracked vocals, the slightly rounder lead guitar sound, and the looser, more spirited overall feel of the demo recording. I also like that in this version he’s “robbing people with a SHOTgun” instead of a “six-gun.” In fact, here’s some trivia, related to me by Miriam Linna—you can tell which version of the song you’re listening to by what kind of gun our hero is brandishing. In the demo, it’s a shotgun. On the 1964 Exeter single (the recording described in the above quote), it’s a zip-gun. And of course, on the 1966 Mustang single, it’s a six-gun. There you go. You can drop that science for trainspotter cred next time you’re trying to get that cute record collector you’ve been chatting up to come home with you. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

Here’s a fun and goofy note to end this on—it’s the Bobby Fuller Four miming behind Nancy Sinatra in the Boris Karloff film The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘I am the Muffin Man’: The whimsical pop-psych of The World of Oz
01:36 pm

One-hit wonders


Is this the greatest / goofiest song ever written? I think it very well might be. Certainly it’s… catchy. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you obscure ‘60s pop-psych combo World of Oz performing their semi-hit “The Muffin Man” on Beat Club in 1968.

The World of Oz were signed to Deram Records, Decca’s progressive imprint. The label’s president, Wayne Bickerton, personally produced “Muffin Man”—utilizing the talents of an expensive 33-piece orchestra—during their first recording session.

There’s not tons of information about this band out there. The long and short of it seems to be that they had a couple of quasi-hit singles in Europe and were on a few TV shows, but that they’d split up before their album even came out.

I’ve been putting this on mixed tapes and CD for over 25 years. That there is a video for this number warms my heart.

Have a muffin now and you won’t forget it… ever.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Oh ‘Kitty’ You’re So Fine?: Toni Basil’s 1982 smash first released by UK band in 1979
01:39 pm

One-hit wonders


Mickey 45 sleeve (US)
It’s all about the beat. It doesn’t take more than a moment after pressing play on one of the most famous songs of the 1980s before just about anyone who has even a toe in the pool of pop culture is able to recognize Toni Basil’s “Mickey.” But relatively few realize it had a former life under another name and that Basil played such a large role in its success.

Smash and Grab cover
The British band Racey were discovered by producer Mickie Most in 1978, and their second 45, “Lay Your Love On Me,” was their first hit. Written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, the Chapman-Chinn partnership had already proved extremely successful, and the duo were known for penning strong and winning material for a number of acts, most notably Sweet (“Ballroom Blitz,” “Blockbuster,” etc.). Racey’s debut LP, Smash and Grab, was released in 1979 and though the hits continued, they failed to crack the coveted U.S. market. Smash and Grab featured a number of Chapman-Chinn songs, including a catchy number called “Kitty,” which, for some reason, wasn’t released as single.

Toni Basil was a show biz veteran when “Mickey” began scaling the charts in the early 1980s. Her first single came out in 1966 and she appeared in a few movies, including Easy Rider and dancing with Davy Jones in the Monkees’ Head. She also had directed videos, but was primarily known in the industry as a choreographer.
Word of Mouth cover
“Mickey” appeared on her Word of Mouth LP and was released as a single in 1981. Though it took a while to take off, by late 1982 it was a smash, going all the way to #1 in the states. It was one of the first songs to benefit from having a popular video—which Basil choreographed, produced and directed—on MTV.

Basil changed the title of the track to fit her gender, and chose Mickey as it roughly rhymes with Kitty. She also wrote the “Oh Mickey you’re so fine/You’re so fine you blow my mind” hook—a hook so massive that it can’t be overlooked when considering the song’s popularity.

I was always a cheerleader and I remember the echoing in the basketball court of cheerleaders, of us, stomping, chanting. I said I would do it if I could put the cheerleader chant on it. The record company asked me not to put the chant on because they were concerned it would ruin the rest of the tune.

There has been much speculation over the years as to what “Mickey” is about. Some believe the song is about Micky Dolenz of the Monkees; others think the song alludes to anal sex! Here’s what Basil had to say on the matter:

It’s not about anything dirty. You change the name from boy to girl and they read anything they want into it! When it’s a guy singing about a girl, it’s a sweet line. But when a girl sings it, it must mean butt fucking!

Oh, Mickey

No matter what anyone might think regarding the lyrics, one thing is certain: Basil essentially took an already appealing pop song and turned it into a #1. It is now considered one of the most iconic songs (and videos) of the entire 1980s. But she received no writing credit, and after 30+ years she claimed she had only earned about $3,000 in royalties from “Mickey.”
Mickey 45
Love it or hate it, Toni Basil’s colossal hit was a pop culture moment in 1982 and refuses to leave our collective consciousness. Long live the beat, I say!


Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
We have Pat Boone to thank for the most psychotic and deranged rockabilly record of all time!
10:19 am

One-hit wonders
Pop Culture


Marty Lott aka Jerry Lott aka “The Phantom” was born near Mobile, Alabama in 1938 and moved to Leakesville, Mississippi during infancy. He played country music on stage at school which progressed to playing country and western at Paynas Furniture Store in Lucedale, Mississippi. Jerry started entering and winning local performing contests which led him to start touring. It all changed in 1956 for Marty and so many others, when Elvis Presley came along, opened his eyes and charged his soul with rock and roll.

“Love Me” was written in ten minutes and recorded in Mobile at Gulf Coast Studio in the summer of 1958. It is one of those rare, lust-filled, psychotic explosions that, in one minute and twenty nine seconds, packs more punch than most punk records did and is considered by many to be the wildest rock and roll song ever recorded. It had to wait until the new decade to see a release.

Lott told Derek Glenister:

“I’d worked three months on the other side of the record. Somebody said, ‘what you gonna put on the flip-side’ I hadn’t even thought about it. Someone suggested I wrote something like Elvis ‘cause he was just a little on the wane and everybody was beginning to turn against rock ‘n’ roll. They said, ‘See if you spark rock ‘n’ roll a little bit’... so that’s when I put all the fire and fury I could utter into it. I was satisfied with the first take, but everybody said, ‘let’s try it one more time’. I didn’t yell on the first take, but I yelled on the second, and blew one of the controls off the wall.”

“I’m telling ya, “it was wild. The drummer lost one of his sticks, the piano player screamed and knocked his stool over, the guitar player’s glasses were hanging sideways over his eyes.

Lott, known at this time as The Gulf Coast Fireball left Mobile for Los Angeles to shop his master tape around. On a truly bizarre impulse he followed Pat Boone to church one Sunday morning and convinced him to give the tape a listen. It was Boone’s idea to rename Lott The Phantom, even agreeing to issue the record on his own Cooga Mooga label. Eventually Lott signed a contract with Boone’s management but the single of “Love Me” b/w “Whisper Your Love” was released on the label Boone recorded for—Dot Records in 1960, packaged in a nifty picture sleeve, normally reserved only for the really big stars here in the States.


“Aahh, uhh, let’s go! Uhh
Press your lips to mine
And whisper I love you
Gotta have chance that lasts
To do the things we wanna do
Don’t hesitate, I can’t wait,
Love me
You set my soul on fire
Every muscle in my body’s burning with desire
Baby kiss me do
Make me know you’re mine
Love me with desire
Oh honey, this is fine
Don’t hesitate, I can’t wait,
Love me
I want you to be my bride
My heart’s a runnin’ wild
Got to make you mine
If just for a little while
Don’t hesitate, I can’t wait,
Love me, love me, love me, love me…”

Sadly in 1965, Jerry’s wife took her own life, and shortly thereafter, in 1966, while still attempting to tour, The Phantom was involved in a near fatal auto accident in York, South Carolina. After his car tumbled 600 feet down a mountainside he was left paralyzed below the neck. Lott continued to write songs, but never recorded again. He passed away on September 4th,1983 at the age of 45.
Ever the rock ‘n’ roll purists The Cramps chose the song to be one of the first ones they learned, going so far as to make a flyer that they put up around New York City before they ever even played their first gig proclaiming “LOVE ME” featuring the baleful gaze of Cramps guitarist Bryan Gregory.

The Cramps play “Love Me” at the Napa State Mental Hospital in 1978

A new generation was introduced to the likes of The Phantom in the late 70’s/early 80’s through this and many European (i.e. bootleg) rockabilly compilation LPs. Fanzines like Kicks, which later morphed into Norton Records and Kicks Books were the first in America to dig deep and write about The Phantom.

As usual, rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form is always discovered 50 years too late by those who wish to use the music to sell stuff. I got an email requesting the cover of the “Love Me” single last week from a music supervisor working for an advertising agency. He couldn’t tell me who, but “Love Me” by The Phantom was going to be used in a huge ad campaign and they needed the artwork for the iTunes download that they will be making available in conjunction with the ad. It was just announced that the song would be used in the latest Southern Comfort campaign. More money will be earned, hopefully by a family member of Lott’s (though I highly doubt it), by the use of this song in this ad than Jerry Lott probably made in his entire music career. It just seems odd the way they used it, like I’m watching TV with the sound down and listening to a record.

I think I need a drink.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Who was that masked man? ORION: The Man Who Would Be King

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s marvelous custom Mosrite guitars
09:49 am

One-hit wonders


Of all the psych era’s strivers, I have the softest of soft spots for The Strawberry Alarm Clock. They embraced so many of the era’s musical and fashion tropes so thoroughly they couldn’t help but instantly become a badge for psychedelia (and psychedelic kitsch) itself. They made a huge impact crater with their 1967 debut LP and single, both called Incense and Peppermints (I didn’t even need to tell you that, did I? I’m guessing that song has been playing in your head from the moment you read the band’s name in the headline). They followed up with 1968’s more modestly successful but still worthy Wake Up… It’s Tomorrow, but that would be the end of the band’s classic lineup. In the years after Tomorrow, the band cycled through a number of membership changes, and every subsequent release saw diminishing returns, which, combined with internal struggles over musical direction as the psychedelic era petered out, splintered the band by 1971. Notably, their guitarist Ed King would join up with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and flautist/guitarist Steve Bartek would resurface a few years later as Danny Elfman’s second-banana in Oingo Boingo.

But in just a few short years of existence, that band got to do tons of cool stuff. The massive success of Incense propelled the band to countless TV appearances, and prominent performance segments in the film Psych-Out and the notorious Roger Ebert/Russ Meyer clusterfuck Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. They appeared on the debut episode of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, and one of them even served as a bachelor on The Dating Game, and won.

But as much fun as all that must have been, I’d ponder giving it all up in exchange for the other amazing perk of being a SAC—these amazing custom-built Mosrite guitars, one of which has been enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution.



The SAC Mosrite on display with the Chinery Collection at the Smithsonian

In 2009, The Unique Guitar blog  ran this amusing and opinionated account of these guitars’ creation. The blogger seems not to have cared much for folk or psych.

[Luthier Semie] Moseley’s fortune came and went and came back and went again. Moseley guitars that sold for up to $300 in the 1960’s are now being sought after by collectors and bring in tens of thousands of dollars. There are over 30 companies making copies of Mosrite style guitars.

Which brings us to The Strawberry Alarm Clock.

In the late 1960’s, about ten years after The Folk Scare, we encountered another music problem that came to be known as The Psychedelic Era. This was characterized by guys usually dressed in clothing they bought from women’s clothing stores (that’s where Hendrix got his attire…you don’t believe me? Check it out!) who imagined they could play guitar which led to writing really awful poetry to complete their musical scat. Essentially these fellows just made extremely loud noise through powerful Frigidaire sized amplifiers and sang their meaningless bad lyrics.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock was one group that actually showed some skill and put together some tunes that people enjoyed. So the music powers that be got them a lot of air time on the radio and a lot of face time in concerts. I won’t go into all the Alarm Clock’s history. Suffice to say, “Incense and Peppermints” is still one of those classic songs no matter how hard you try, you can’t get out of your head because you’ve heard it since 1967 due to 47 years of radio play.

Somehow Moseley hooked up with the Alarm Clock and was commissioned to design as set of two guitars and a bass for the group. These guitars all had Mosrite style parts, pickups, vibrato and bridges, but also had the bizarre feature of being surrounded by a wooden frame.

After finishing the bodies, Moseley shipped them to famed California artist Von Dutch. He was known for unusual auto pin striping and painted body designs as well as painted designs on surfboards. Due to his involvement the guitar became known also as The Surfboard Guitars.


It strikes me as incredibly weird that there don’t seem to be any photos or videos of the band actually playing, or even just posing with these. If someone made me something this beautifully bonkers, I’d be showing it off ’til you wanted to kick me. So since there doesn’t seem to be any motion footage of these guitars, and since you’ve surely already heard “Incense and Peppermints” more than enough times in your life, here’s some rare footage of the band’s segment in Laugh In, wearing rain gear and wrecking a car with sledgehammers, because the Summer of Love was OVER, maaaaaaaan.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Video Killed the Radio Star — but who killed it first?
12:04 pm

One-hit wonders
Pop Culture


It’s one of the most widely known bits of pop culture trivia—when MTV launched in August of 1981, the very first music video it showed was the prophetic “Video Killed the Radio Star,” a popular single from the Buggles’ Age of Plastic LP. That alone made the cutesy synthpop novelty into the stuff of unforgettable legend, but the telling of the legend typically excludes the song’s origins. Multiple versions of the song predated the one we all know. Buggles Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes had been members of Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club, with whom they originally wrote and recorded the song. There were multiple single versions, like this much more revved-up take on the song than we’re used to:

Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” US single
This more polished version was the UK single:

Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” UK single
And here’s a live version from 1979, after the Buggles’ version had become popular:

Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” live, 1979

The Camera Club was quite an incubator for talent. Thomas Dolby was an early keyboardist for the band, and Horn and Downes famously and incongruously went on from the Buggles to join Yes. Later still, Horn became the producer/architect of the radical early work of Art of Noise, while Downes stayed with Yes’ guitarist Steve Howe in the massively successful prog/pop supergroup Asia. Other Camera Club members went on to play in Re-Flex and The Soft Boys, but Woolley himself remained a mostly behind-the-scenes talent as a producer and songwriter, though he has maintained a performance and recording profile—as a theremin player! The man’s CV is actually quite enviable, with credits that include Grace Jones’ Slave to the Rhythm, plus film music for Caddyshack, Toys, and Moulin Rouge.

Motion footage of Woolley in performance is maddeningly elusive—ironically, and kind of comically, no video seems to exist of the original version of “Video Killed the Radio Star.” But on that hunt, I found this clip from 2004—evidently only the Buggles’ second ever live performance of the song, featuring Horn, Downes, and Woolley, plus the original backup singers from the ‘70s single, who still sound just absolutely terrific.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Tiny Tim reissued—on Edison cylinder: Next, we clone the dodo!
12:08 pm

One-hit wonders
Pop Culture


tiny tim lp cover pic
In a wonderful bit of news for far-gone vinyl collectors looking to up the stakes on unnecessary depths of obscurantism, the Ship to Shore Phonograph Company is releasing a version of “Nobody Else Can Love Me (Like My Old Tomato Can)” cut by musician/antiquarian/delightful freakshow Tiny Tim - on the utterly obsolete Edison Cylinder format. Per Hyperallergic‘s Allison Meier:

Only 50 of the cylinders were recorded by Benjamin Canady (aka “The Victrola Guy“) who has been working with ongoing experiments of recording on old Edison cylinder phonographs. As the Vinyl Factory points out in their coverage of this momentous music resurrection, the cylinder record hasn’t totally vanished — Beck also used this tech recently as inspiration for his tracks cut into a beer bottle this year — but there’s been no wide release for the round records since the early 20th century. And if you decide to buy one of the Tiny Tim recordings for $60, it’s quite likely you’ll have no way to play it, although they each do come with a digital recording of the song blaring from some antique phonograph horns. This isn’t the analogue age, after all.


If the only bells the name “Tiny Tim” ring for you are Dickensian, he was an out-of-left-field media star in the late ‘60s. Even in a decade as indulgent of oddities as that one was, Tim’s (nee Herbert Khaury) weirdness stuck out farther than most. He was a musician of an old-timey archivalist bent, and he might have made a fine fit for the early ‘60s folk revival if that movement hadn’t been so grimly earnest. His stage presentation was disarmingly odd - coming off as a pudgy, sartorially randomized, lysergically Jewy hybrid of Carl Sagan and Danny Devito’s Penguin, he sang hits and obscurities from the turn of the 20th Century to the Depression era in an improbable falsetto. He rose to fame and had a massive hit single with “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” thanks to appearances on TV comedy/variety shows that appreciated his eccentricity, most notably Laugh-In and The Tonight Show. It was the latter program on which, at the height of his fame, Tim notoriously got married in front of an audience of over 20 million. As he was utterly genuine in his love of the music he performed, his act fell out of step in changing times, which inevitably led to his waning popularity. Though he did eventually add some modern material to his repertoire, doing so only served to underscore his diminished stature from a popular conservator to a fringe dwelling novelty act. He died in 1996 of a heart attack suffered onstage in Minneapolis.

Here’s the seldom-seen A Special Tiny Tim from 1970:

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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