Unfinished And Abandoned digs deeeeep into my unpublished archives, and exhumes projects that I started (sometimes barely started) but abandoned, unfinished. I am such a quitter.
Some years back, after I’d written the liner notes to Rhino’s compilation Poptopia! Power Pop Classics Of The ’90s (a compilation which I did not assemble), an independent record label contacted me about putting together some pop compilation CDs. The intent was to create compilations that would be commercial, aesthetically viable, and economical (i.e., the tracks could be licensed cheaply, ideally avoiding major labels). Nothing ever came of any of this; I did my part, so I guess it’s not exactly something that I abandoned. Here are the notes I submitted for these proposed compilation CDs.
POP SAMPLER (which is in dire need of a catchier title). The vague parameters I had in mind were mid-to-late ’70s/early ’80s pop and power pop, though I fudged it on several tracks.
1. DWIGHT TWILLEY: “I’m On Fire [unreleased live version]” This is an unconfirmed possibility, but Twilley’s office has indicated that such a track might be available. (Tracks by the original Dwight Twilley Band, featuring the late, great Phil Seymour, would apparently not be available due to the usual legal yada yada yada.) This is certainly worth further investigation.
2. BIG STAR: “In The Streets” (aka “That ’70s Song”) Cheap Trick is covering this as the new theme song for TV’s That ’70s Show. We might be able to use Big Star’s studio rehearsal version, found on Norton’s recent Nobody Can Dance CD. Failing that, perhaps we could use the live version from Big Star’s Live CD on Rykodisc (though the Norton track is far better).
3. BADFINGER: “Baby Blue” Live version from Rykodisc’s Day After Day CD.
4. THE ROMANTICS: “Little White Lies” The Romantics’ debut indie single from 1978, still owned by the band and never reissued. It kicks, too. (The single’s B-side, “I Can’t Tell You Anything,” is also worth considering.)
5. THE PLIMSOULS: “A Million Miles Away” Single on the Shaky City label, originally distributed by Bomp! This could probably be licensed from Plimsouls guitarist Eddie Munoz or perhaps through Bomp!
6. THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: “Shake Some Action [U.K. single version, 1976]” This is a completely different version of the song, recorded a year later than the familiar title track of the group’s first LP for Sire. This has never been issued in the U.S., and it may or may not belong to Sire–it was originally a demo for Capitol, actually, but Capitol passed on it, and Sire did eventually release it as a single. I’m listing it here in hope that it’s available for us, but I’m resigned to the probability that we ain’t gonna get it.
“Shake Some Action” (live version from Live at the Whiskey A-Go-Go ’79 album, issued by Lolita in France, 1985)
“You Tore Me Down” The first single released by Bomp!
7. THE FLASHCUBES: “No Promise” My favorite power pop band (so their inclusion on this CD would basically be my tip, I guess), with their best-ever recreation of the Raspberries sound. There are two versions of this available, one of which was included on the group’s Bright Lights CD. I’d opt for the earlier version instead, but either one’s great.
8. THE RAMONES: “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” Pre-Sire demo side, presumably available from Marty Thau.
9. BLOTTO: “I Wanna See The Monkees (I Wanna Be A Lifeguard)” Alternate version of the group’s best-known tune, with different lyrics, done for NYC radio (WNEW, I think?). I wouldn’t place any firm wager on a clean copy of this still existing, but it’s worth a shot. Could also use “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard” and/or “When The Second Feature Starts,” though I see both of them as better choices for a New Wave Summer CD.
10. THE NERVES: “Hanging On The Telephone” (indie EP track, 1977). Song later covered by Blondie, written by The Nerves’ Jack Lee. The other Nerves were Peter Case (later of The Plimsouls) and Paul Collins (later of Paul Collins’ Beat). Rhino licensed this from Jack Lee for the Come Out And Play power pop anthology in 1993.
11. SHOES: “Tomorrow Night” 1978 Bomp! single.
12. MARSHALL CRENSHAW: “Something’s Gonna Happen” 1981 12″ single for Alan Betrock’s Shake label.
13. 20/20: “Giving It All” Bomp! single.
14. THE SMITHEREENS: “Got Me A Girl” (from Girls About Town EP, 1980). From the group’s self-released debut EP.
15. THE dB’S: “Black And White” This was originally a 1980 single on Shake, and was subsequently used on the group’s first album–not sure if the single and LP tracks are identical.
16. THE BARRACUDAS: “I Wish It Could Be 1965 Again” From the 1981 Voxx LP Drop Out With The Barracudas.
17. THE MOSQUITOS: “That Was Then, This Is Now” Title track from the Mosquitos’ 1985 Valhalla EP, and the original version of the tune redone to Top 20 success by the reunited Monkees in 1986.
18. PAUL COLLINS: “Walking Out On Love” This was credited to The Breakaways (which also featured Peter Case, Collins’ ex-partner in The Nerves who went on to form The Plimsouls) when Bomp! exhumed it for its Roots Of Powerpop CD. It was credited to Paul Collins solo when first issued in ’79 on Bomp!’s Waves, Volume One anthology, and was subsequently redone by Collins’ next group, The Beat, for their debut LP. And that’s probably more information than you actually need.
19. PEZBAND: “Stop! Wait A Minute” (from 1978 Laughing In The Dark LP on Passport). Rhino licensed this from band member Mike Gorman for Come Out And Play. Gorman is currently a member of Off Broadway, who recently released a live album on the NMG label outta Phoenix.
20. THE REAL KIDS: “All Kindsa Gir” (Sponge single, 1977; re-recorded for Red Star LP, 1978). Either version’s cool.
21. THE SCRUFFS: “Teenage Girls” . Originally a 1978 single on the Power Play label, this was more recently the title track of a Scruffs CD issued by Northern Heights.
22. ROY LONEY AND THE PHANTOM MOVERS: “Steppiní Around” Former Flamin’ Groovies frontman, from his 1989 The Scientific Bombs Away!! LP on Norton.
23. THE POPPEES: “If She Cries” 1975 Bomp! single.
24. THE SPONGETONES: “(My Girl) Maryanne” (from 1984 Torn Apart EP on Ripete). This was reissued by Shoes’ label Black Vinyl on the Beat And Torn CD just a few years back
25. THE RAVES: “Every Little Bit Hurts” Recorded early ’80s, eventually released on the Past Perfect Tense CD. Very Beatley!
CHEAP TRICK. I suppose this is # 1 on our wish list, but they spent the bulk of their career on Epic, so there might not be much that’s suitable for our needs. They’re basically independent now, though, and they’re still a killer live group, so perhaps there’s a recent live version of “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me,” or “Dream Police” that we could snag. Ken Sharp might know….THE KNACK. I’ve been e-mailing some folks regarding the possibility of a live “Good Girls Don’t” or (if we must) “My Sharona,” but have gotten no response.
THE RASPBERRIES The group’s pre-Capitol demos exist, and are said to be pretty good (though they don’t include any of the group’s best-known tunes). I’ve gotten nowhere in my attempts to find out more about these; again, maybe Ken Sharp has some ideas.THE BAY CITY ROLLERS Real long-shot, especially since the recently-reunited group is getting set to wage legal war on Arista and their former manager. However, there was a Japanese-only release in the mid-’80s called Live In Japan, and that may be available from the band itself.
THE RUBINOOS I think Disney owns Beserkley now, so we’ll probably forget about licensing studio tracks. Live tracks, maybe? I can contact Tommy Dunbar’s wife for further inquiries.
NEW WAVE SUMMER
1. BLOTTO: “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard” From 1980 indie EP.
2. BLOTTO: “When The Second Feature Starts” 1981 single.
3. THE B-52’s: “Rock Lobster” Original 45 version, though I haven’t heard it in years and don’t remember the label. Yeah, a fat lotta help I am….
4. DAVE EDMUNDS: “London’s A Lonely Town” You may know the story on this Tradewinds cover better than I do–I’ve never actually heard it, only heard of it. I think this surfaced on one of the original Pebbles albums, and never elsewhere.
5. CHRIS STAMEY AND THE dB’S: “The Summer Sun” Rhino licensed this from Stamey for the Come Out And Play sampler.
6. KYLE VINCENT AND TOMMY DUNBAR, FEATURING SCOTT McCARL: “On The Beach” Stretching things a bit to call this “new wave,” but I’ll settle for pop guy Vincent joining forces with The Rubinoos’ Tommy Dunbar and The Raspberries’ Scott McCarl on a Raspberries cover. Originally recorded for a Raspberries tribute (and, incredibly, not used on that trib), this has only appeared on Pop Under The Surface, Volume Two, a pop sampler from Sweden’s Yesterday Girl label. Kyle’s fans are vocal and loyal, and their support would be A Good Thing.
7. THE ROMANTICS: “Let’s Swing” Originally issued on a Bomp! sampler album called Waves, reissued by Bomp! on a cash-in Romantics mini-LP or something shortly after the group’s first album was released. It hasn’t been heard from since.
8. THE BARRACUDAS: “Surfers Are Back” From the Bomp! album Drop Out With The Barracudas. Alternate track: “Summer Fun,” a British hit single from the same album.
9. THE BARRACUDAS: “His Last Summer” Also from Drop Out With The Barracudas.
10. THE B-GIRLS: “Fun At The Beach” Bomp! single.
11. THE TEARJERKERS: “Syracuse Summer” Terrific application of the Brian Wilson treatment in tribute to the mercurial climate of Central New York. Written by The Flashcubes’ Gary Frenay.
12. EUCLID BEACH BAND: “There’s No Surf In Cleveland” Eric Carmen-produced gem, released on the Cleveland International label. I have a feeling Sony owns this, but it’s not definite.
13. THE RAMONES: “Surfin’ Safari” Released only on the Japanese version of their Acid Eatersalbum. Available? Well…I’d bet not. It’d be a shame to do a New Wave Summer set without including The Ramones–“Rockaway Beach” and “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” are obvious choices here–but it may be beyond practical control.
14. THE LAST: “Every Summer Day” From their debut LP on Bomp!
15. THE FLASHCUBES: “Muscle Beach” From the group’s Bright Lights anthology. Actually not one of their best numbers, but still energetic as hell and good for our purposes.
16. THE SMITHEREENS: “Girl Don’t Tell Me” Beach Boys cover from The Smithereens’ debut indie EP, Girls About Town. Never reissued.
17. RODNEY AND THE BRUNETTES: “Little GTO” Bomp! single, with L.A. DJ Rodney Bingenheimer backed by Blondie.
18. THE SEX PISTOLS: “Holidays In The Sun” (demo)
19. BLONDIE: “In The Sun” Is there a pre-Private Stock/Chrysalis version of this?!
20. THE FLESHTONES: “B.Y.O.B.” From ROIR/Red Starí’ Blast Off! album.
21. THE DICTATORS: “I Live For Cars And Girls” If the studio take can’t be had, is there a live version available? (“California Sun” would also be good.)
22. THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: “Sealed With A Kiss” (from 1992 Rock Juice album on Michael Goldberg’s National Records label, which was affiliated with Heyday
23. THE RATTLERS (WITH JOEY RAMONE): “On The Beach” Hey, a Ramone makes it in! 1979 single on the Ratso label–Rattlers frontman Mickey Leigh is Joey’s brother. This was re-recorded (without Joey) for the group’s 1985 Rattled LP, and the subsequent CD reissue includes the single’s B-side but not the original version of the A-side. There might even have been a legal problem with using Joey’s vocals–which would, of course, suck.
2016 POSTSCRIPT: As noted, nothing ever came of any of this. I was also hired by BMG to compile a Buddah Records bubblegum compilation, a project which was also stillborn (though at least I got paid for that one). Ultimately, it turned out that if I wanted to put together a pop compilation CD, I’d have to take more direct action. The first This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation was issued commercially in 2004.