The Epic 2017 Project #331: 171127
Tom Robinson Band – Power in the Darkness (1978)
Power in the Darkness was the debut studio album from the Tom Robinson Band, released in early 1978. The UK LP had ten tracks. It included inside the album cover a stencil similar to the cover art, but with the album title replaced by “Tom Robinson Band”; it held the warning, “This stencil is not meant for spraying on public property!!!”. The US release was packaged with a seven-track bonus LP. The 1993 CD re-release included all 17 tracks. Two more tracks were included on a 2004 re-release.
The Epic 2017 Project #305: 171101
Transvision Vamp – Velveteen (1989)
Velveteen is the second album from Transvision Vamp. Released in 1989, a year after their debut album Pop Art, the album provided such hits as “Baby I Don’t Care” which reached number 3 in the UK and Australia. Velveteen went on to peak at number 1 on the UK album charts in 1989 and number 2 in Australia where it became the 39th highest selling album of the year (Pop Art was number 25).
The Epic 2017 Project #235: 170823
The Pretenders self-titled debut was released on 7 January 1980 under Real Records in the UK and Sire Records in the United States. It made the band famous and included the singles “Stop Your Sobbing”, “Kid” and “Brass in Pocket”.
Nick Lowe produced the Pretenders’ first single, “Stop Your Sobbing”, but decided not to work with them again as he thought the band was “not going anywhere”. Chris Thomas took over on the subsequent recording sessions.
Pretenders debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart in the week of its release and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. It also made the top 10 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Platinum during 1982 by the RIAA. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album number 155 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and, in 1989, ranked it the 20th best album of the 1980s.
Pretenders was remastered and re-released in 2006 and included a bonus disc of demos, B-sides and live cuts, many previously unreleased. “Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain” originally appeared as B-sides to “Talk of the Town” and “Message of Love”, while “Swinging London” and “Nervous But Shy” both appeared on the flip side of “Brass in Pocket”. The Regents Park demo of “Stop Your Sobbing” was included initially as a flexi-single in the May 1981 edition of Flexipop magazine. The tracks “Message of Love”, “Talk of the Town”, “Porcelain” and “Cuban Slide” alongside a live version of the album’s opening track, “Precious”, were released on a follow-up EP entitled Extended Play soon after.
Pretenders was also reissued in 2009 by Audio Fidelity as a limited-edition audiophile gold CD, using the original master tapes. However, this remaster suffered from unauthorized, heavy limiting supposedly applied after engineer Steve Hoffman’s digital master was created and approved for CD manufacturing. The song “The Phone Call” is missing some of the telephone effects on this release because the effects were “flown in” after the master was completed for the song and, as a result, weren’t on the original master tape.
The Epic 2017 Project #234: 170822
The Police – Outlandos D’Amour (1978)
Outlandos d’Amour is the debut studio album by The Police, released in November 1978 by A&M Records. Elevated by the success of its lead single, “Roxanne”, Outlandos d’Amour peaked at No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and at No. 23 in the US. It has since been certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of over one million units in the US. The album spawned two additional hit singles: “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “So Lonely”.
Although Outlandos d’Amour received mixed reviews upon its release, it has since been regarded as one of the strongest debut albums by any band or artist. It ranked No. 38 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “100 Best Debut Albums of All Time”. In 2012, the magazine ranked it No. 428 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time
The Epic 2017 Project #188: 170707
Nouvelle Vague – If I could be happy (2016)
This transliteration was the starting point for Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux’s unique project, which, by appropriating the punk and post-punk cannon and running it through the Bossa Nova filter, reinvented the cover band genre, revealing new and brilliant talents along the way: Camille, Phoebe Killdeer, Nadeah, Mélanie Pain, and, soon, Liset Alea. The gambit paid off, with sales of over one million records over four albums released between 2004 and 2010, and world tours that included stops at venues such as London’s Royal Albert Hall, L.A.’s Hollywood Bowl and Paris’ Olympia.
Since 2011, Nouvelle Vague had stopped recording, focusing on an innovative live show created in collaboration with the mythical Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (Ceremony and Dawn of innocence,) and branching out into different projects: Olivier’s Uncovered Queen of the Stone Age, and Marc’s Bristol, along with his Kwaidan label.
So 2016 seemed the right time to write a new chapter in the Nouvelle Vague saga: with a new album “I Could Be Happy” and live show, the band and its coterie of female vocalists continue their time travels with a renewed alegria. Nouvelle vague by Nouvelle Vague and Some Friends is thus more of a nexus of forthcoming projects: a new album comprised of punk and post punk standards imbued with the inimitable Nouvelle Vague touch, and, for the first time, a bevy of surprising Collin/Libaux which prove that the two producers are more than prodigious arrangers.
This album is also the opportunity to gather again the pioneer singers of Nouvelle Vague: Élodie Frégé, Mélanie Pain, Liset Alea, Nadeah and to find other guests as Camille or Clara Luciani. A worldwide tour to promote it began in Europe and Asia and continued through South America and the U.S.A. earlier this year.
The Epic 2017 Project #142: 170522
The Killers – Hot Fuss (2004)
The Killers’ debut studio album, released on June 7, 2004 in the United Kingdom and on June 15, 2004 in the USA. Hot Fuss produced several commercially and critically successful singles: “Mr. Brightside”, “Somebody Told Me”, “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Smile Like You Mean It”.
The album reached number seven on the Billboard 200 chart and number one on the UK Albums Chart. And as of December 2012, had sold more than seven million copies worldwide, including more than three million in the United States and more than two million in the UK, where it has been certified seven-times platinum. It has also been certified platinum or multi-platinum in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.
The album and its first three singles went on to garner five Grammy Award nominations. Rolling Stone ranked Hot Fuss the 43rd of its “100 Best Albums of the Decade”, and it is one of the five most recent recordings listed among the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Gigwise readers voted it the number-one “Best Debut Album of All Time” in 2013 and Rolling Stone ranked it the 33rd of its list of “The 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time”
The Epic 2017 Project #123: 170503
Joe Jackson – Look Sharp (1979)
Joe Jackson and his band, using money earned by Jackson from touring with the cabaret band Koffee ‘n’ Kream, began recording ‘Look Sharp’ from late 1977 to spring 1978 in a studio in Portsmouth. However, after producer David Kershenbaum heard a demo tape from Jackson, he signed Jackson to A&M Records in 1978, after which Jackson and his band quickly re-recorded the album. This was then followed by a tour to promote it.
“Is She Really Going Out with Him?” was released as a single in the UK prior to the release of Look Sharp!, but it, as well as follow-ups “Sunday Papers” and “One More Time,” failed to make an impact on the charts. Look Sharp! also stalled upon its initial release, but upon the re-release of “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” in Britain (as well as a single release in the US), the album grew in popularity, reaching the top 20 in America. After the performance of the first album, the band quickly recorded a follow-up, I’m the Man, which Jackson describes as “Part Two of Look Sharp!”
Sometime after the album’s release, Jackson put this on website:
What can anyone say about something they did so long ago?! I’m not embarrassed by it, or not by most of it, anyway. It positively reeks of London 1978–79 and, well, it is what it is. I’m glad people liked it, and still like it, though I think some of that is nostalgia and a tendency to romanticise peoples’ first albums, as though later ones must somehow be less ‘authentic’. For a first album, this one’s not bad, but I was only 23 when I made it and it would be pretty weird if I didn’t think I’d done better things since.