Thursday, May 21, 2009

Be Stiff - Class of '78

Stiff’s 2nd Wave: Jona Lewie, Lene Lovich, Rachel Sweet, Mickey Jupp, Wreckless Eric (and all of ‘em are still alive, as far as I can determine!)

Move over Elvis Costello and Ian Dury

It’s taken me a few decades to get around to the “Son Of Stiff” artists. The only one I followed at the time was Rachel Sweet. I only recently got her debut British 45, “B-A-B-Y” b/w “Suspended Animation” (BUY 39). I saw her perform live at the Whisky A-Go-Go, with Fingerprintz as her band (at least, that’s who I remember it being) – I think she was the opening act for 999. I have always been a big fan of “Fool Around” her Stiff debut LP. I have both the UK & US versions, as well as a Japanese paper sleeve CD, and a white vinyl UK original LP. Thumbs up for her work on John Waters’ “Hairspray” and “Cry Baby” films. Never cared much for her 2nd album, but I have a UK copy, and I suppose I could give it another try.

I think Lene Lovich’s “Stateless” is Stiff’s blue vinyl release in this series. I once found a US Epic / Stiff copy that was autographed at a tiny record store in San Francisco (for $1). I like it better now than I did back then. Like Rachel Sweet, I never got into her 2nd LP – though I do own it on both LP & CD.

But I guess why I’m writing this today, is because I have become somewhat interested in the works of Jona Lewie. I have his Stiff debut LP of “On The Other Hand There’s A Fist” (orange vinyl) and I recently mail-ordered a CD of it (which isn’t here yet, as of this writing). I even recently found a Lewie 45 from the early 70’s by Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs “Seaside Shuffle” that’s pretty good. I guess they were really Brett Marvin & The Thunderbolts! Some readers may be familiar with Lewie’s ‘Xmas single’, “Stop The Cavalry”. Because I never paid attention at the time, I didn’t know he was a keyboard player (as opposed to a guitar player). “On The Other Hand There’s A Fist” is a fairly quirky keyboard player’s record, worthy of my closer attention. I’d like to find all of his Stiff 45’s that I don’t already have. I’ve really enjoyed all of the Jona Lewie Stiff 45’s that I’ve found; good pop songs. I don’t think he ever came to the U.S.

Wreckless Eric…I suppose I am OK with his Stiff 45 “Whole Wide World”, but I don’t own a copy. The only thing I have by him (other than songs on samplers) is his self-titled 10” brown vinyl Stiff debut. Very ’78 UK punk-rock-looking stuff.

I knew that Mickey Jupp had been in Legend, a band on Vertigo. I’d had their debut LP (the one with the shoe on the cover) and didn’t think much of it (after all, it wasn’t progressive rock, my style of choice for the early / mid 70’s). Was “Juppanese” Stiff’s green vinyl release? I don’t know. I’ve never owned a copy. I guess I’d buy an LP copy if it was inexpensive. I remember seeing that some Mickey Jupp songs were being covered by Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker on one of his solo albums.

I have kept my PAL VHS copy of “Stiff Visions” for years – so I have clips for most (if not all) of these artists. That’s also where I was fully awakened to Tenpole Tudor!


Jim said...

Re: Jona Lewie

I've been a fan since around '80 or so. I have the US and UK (yellow) copies of "On The Other Hand There's A Fist" since they contain much divergent material. It's been my policy to buy every Jona Lewie record I come across. They're all super pop tunes that splay all over the keyboard player map. What can you say about a guy who is equally influenced by Professor Longhair and Kraftwerk?! I've never heard a Lewie song I didn't like. "Endearing" is the word that comes to mind when thinking of him.

I have a decent selection of singles but have NEVER found a copy of his 2nd Stiff LP, "Heart Skips Beat." I have a great Best Of CD with about 60% of the 2nd album, but that's as far as it goes in that respect. I was thrilled to find the new RM of "Fist" in Portland. Stiff/Repertoire released most of this catalog material in the early 90s so there IS a Heart Skips Beat CD out there (probably at outrageous prices). Sadly, I was moving into my own place at the time of the Repertoire releases and buying my 1st computer so the 93-94 period was a time of cutback on music purchases. There are still some gems from that period that I missed out on that I've yet to find. Hopefully, the RM of Fist will engender the release of the 2nd disc as well.

Ron Kane said...

Pretty much all of these have divergent US / UK releases, I suppose.