Tuesday, May 26, 2015

U2 - A Celebration

Many years ago (before the internet), I was involved in a conversation where the topic of rare songs came up (shocking, I know).  One of the women at the gathering (whose name I never knew) stated that she had heard that there was a U2 song that the band had pulled for some reason or other.  I remember thinking that it sounded odd, and forgot all about it until we started ERV ... and I soon discovered that not only did this rare song exist, but that there was a rare video to go with it.

"A Celebration" was a non album single, recorded in 1982, between the October and War LPs.  U2 liked it enough to record a video for it, and played in regularly at concerts through 1983.  It then fell off the face of the earth -- the band didn't play it or support the song or video, and it did not even appear on any U2 compilation albums until 2004.  Note than in the days before digital music, leaving the song off an album was the kiss of death.

The reason for all of the controversy was due to a misinterpretation of the lyrics.  The lyrics "I believe in a third world war.  I believe in the atomic bomb." were meant to be darkly humorous, but they were apparently taken seriously, particularly in Europe.  In response and to avoid any confusion about where they stood, the band pulled the song, making it and the video rare (and therefore ideal for this blog).

The video for "A Celebration" was shot in the Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, and it shows the band in fine early form.  (And man, do they look young).  The song actually charted in the U.K. at #47, prior to the controversy, but it did not chart in the U.S.

Note that U2's "I Will Follow" was posted on ERV in August, 2014.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

L.A. Guns - The Ballad of Jayne

Best known as half of the inspiration for the Guns N' Roses name, L.A. Guns was a fixture on the Los Angeles hard rock scene in the 1980's, but never crossed over to big time mainstream success.  Lineup changes, and a sound that was more hard rock bar band than glam metal likely had something to do with this.

The band formed in 1983, and an early version of the group had Tracii Guns (born Tracy Ulrich) on guitar and W. Axl Rose on vocals.  Rose would leave to sing for Rapidfire and Hollywood Rose, before rejoining L.A. Guns, and the group was later renamed Guns N' Roses.  However, after a fight with Rose, Tracii Guns left Guns N' Roses and reformed L.A. Guns.  (Quite a tangled web, huh?)

L.A. Guns released their first major label record in 1988, and the LP did well, reaching #50 on the charts.  However, 1989's Cocked and Loaded did better, and hit #38 on the charts.  "The Ballad of Jayne" became the group's only top 40 hit at #33, making the band an official one hit wonder.

While 1991's Hollywood Vampires broke the top 50 on the album charts, the rise of grunge effectively ended any chance of L.A. Guns breaking out.  The band has continued as a working band  (with a ton of personnel changes) to the present day.  In fact, for much of the early 2000's, there were two version of L.A. Guns (one with Tracii Guns and one without).  In 2013 Tracii Guns broke up his version of the group, but I believe  that the second version is active as of this writing.

Cool trivia fact:  "The Ballad of Jayne" is about actress Jayne Mansfield, who was killed in a car accident in 1967.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Apollonia 6 - Sex Shooter

The Apollonia 6 story begins where the Vanity 6 story ends.  (And another shout out to long time reader Sam, who requested the Vanity 6 video more than two years ago).  As we mentioned in the earlier post, Vanity left Vanity 6 (and Prince) in order to go out on her own.  This created a problem for Prince, as not only was he writing material for Vanity 6, but Vanity was supposed to be the female lead in Prince's upcoming movie at the time (you may have heard of it -- Purple Rain).

A casting call ensued, and Patricia Apollonia Kotero was chosen for the role.  Prince liked her middle name, and just like that Apollonia was the new lead singer of Apollonia 6 (still named after the number of breasts in the band ... really).  Additionally, Apollonia became the female lead in Purple Rain.

While Apollonia was quite beautiful, she did not have the strongest singing voice, and Prince seemed to lose interest in her (and the concept of a girl band) soon after Purple Rain.  There may or may not have been a romantic falling out, as well.  As a result, only one album was released, the eponymous 1984 LP.  "Sex Shooter" became a minor hit, reaching #85 on the charts, but Apollonia is probably best-known for the movie, and her duet with Prince, "Take Me With You," a top 40 hit from 1985 (and the last single from Purple Rain.)

Apollonia also had a falling out with Prince, and went out on her own in 1985, primarily as an actress.  She later went to film school, and I believe that she still runs her entertainment company, Kotero Entertainment.

In addition to the primary video for "Sex Shooter," we also found the performance clip from Purple Rain; in the interests of completeness both are below.

Cool trivia facts:  "Take Me With You" was originally intended to be an Apollonia 6 song, but was a late addition to Purple Rain.  In additional, "Manic Monday" (later a big hit for The Bangles) and "Glamorous Life" (later a hit for Sheila E.) we both originally written as Apollonia 6 songs.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Flesh for Lulu - Postcards from Paradise

"Postcards from Paradise" is yet another excellent reader request and we liked it enough to immediately put it up on the blog.  Thanks, cool loyal reader (you know who you are).

Flesh for Lulu was a British rock band with an interesting sound that was simultaneously alternative and retro.  Think the Rolling Stones meets the Velvet Underground.  The resulting music was critically acclaimed, but never quite found its audience, which is a real shame.

The band formed in London in 1982, and was named after the Andy Warhol movie, Flesh for Frankenstein.  Lulu was a bend member's girlfriend who sat in front of a poster for the movie, leading to an in-joke that eventually became the group's name.  Their major label debut came out in 1984, and they released several solid efforts in the mid to late 1980's.

While they attracted a cult following in the U.K., their U.S. break happened when they had a song included on the 1987 teen flick, Some Kind of Wonderful.  (Does anyone else remember that one?)  Sensing an opportunity, they modified their sound in an attempt to cross over.  The resulting album, 1987's Long Live the New Flesh, was solid, but did not advance their career.  After several more years of toiling away, Flesh for Lulu broke up in 1992, though a version of the band re-formed in 2013.

For the blog, we went with "Postcards from Paradise," a particularly strong effort from 1987.  The song was later covered by Paul Westerberg (formerly of The Replacements) and the Goo Goo Dolls.