In addition to owning somewhere between 1000 and 1200 CDs, I have around 1000 vinyl records in my collection. Today begins a regular feature, somewhat obviously titled “The Vinyl Collection," where I put the spotlight on a couple of those albums. For the purposes of this feature, I’ll focus solely on those albums that I own only on vinyl, and not on CD. I’ll also skip most of the easy, obvious choices – stuff like Abbey Road, Willie & the Poor Boys, Purple Rain, Thriller – in favor of less popular and more obscure titles. And before writing something about these albums, I’m actually going to force myself to listen to them, which in some cases may be quite a chore. I’m starting at the beginning of the alphabet, but reserve the right to skip around if something catches my eye.
ABC, The Lexicon of Love (1982). The Trouser Press Guide to New Wave Records points out that this band “revolves around the talented Martin Fry, whose detailed notions of style include setting his own Bowiesque vocals in lustrous pop production laden with keyboards and strings, mostly to a supple techno-soul disco pulse.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, so why try? Essentially, this album boils down to three great songs, songs that I wouldn’t mind putting on a party mix or a tape to listen to in the car: “The Look of Love,” “Poison Arrow,” and “All of My Heart.” The rest is more of the same, but not as good. All of which leaves me with the impression that a little ABC goes a long way. I actually own one other album by the group, Beauty Stab, and remember thinking at the time that it was better than the (more popular) debut. Might come back to that one later.
Adverts, Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts (1978). This one I picked up because Greil Marcus included it in the “Treasure Island” section of Stranded: Rock and Roll For A Desert Island. Marcus wrote of the album, “head-down, into-the-wind punk from a band with the humor and determination to make you think their album title wasn’t altogether a joke.” Trouser Press opines, “In its own way, Red Sea is the equal of the first Sex Pistols or Clash LP, a hasty statement that captures an exciting point in time.”
Whatever they were hearing, I’m missing. To me the record sounds like it could have come from any of a hundred other punk bands. I could see putting it on during a punk party (were we ever to host one), but it would be well behind the Pistols, Clash, Ramones, and many others.