Pebbles – “Mercedes Boy” (Extended Remix)

Pebbles - Mercedes Boy

Pebbles – “Mercedes Boy” (Extended Remix)…

Artist: Pebbles
Title: Mercedes Boy (Extended Remix)
Year: 1988
Label: MCA Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Pebbles – “Mercedes Boy” (Extended Remix) (mp3)

 

Pieces Of A Dream - Rising To The Top 01

Pieces Of A Dream – “Rising To The Top” (UK Remix)…

Artist: Pieces Of A Dream
Title: Rising To The Top (UK Remix)
Year: 1988
Label: EMI – Manhattan Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Pieces Of A Dream – “Rising To The Top” (UK Remix) (mp3)

 

Pieces Of A Dream – “Ain’t My Love Enough” (UK 12-inch)…

Artist: Pieces Of A Dream
Title: Ain’t My Love Enough (UK 12-inch)
Year: 1988
Label: EMI – Manhattan Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Pieces Of A Dream – “Ain’t My Love Enough” (UK 12-inch) (mp3)

 

Pieces Of A Dream - Rising To The Top 02

Imagination – “Just An Illusion”

There’s no measuring of how much I adore this song. I fell in love with it since its first release dating back in July/August 0f 1982, and I will take it to the grave with me when I pass on.

August of 1982…
My mother and father were taking me around London, shopping for a list of stuff required for me to bring to my boarding-school (Millfield Prep School) which was about to start the first week of the following September.  At the age of 11 years-old, I had been deluged with fear. It was my first time being enrolled in a British boarding-school in Glastonbury countryside. I was counting the 40 or less days left until I would suffer separation anxiety from my mother. As a young Iraqi, I did not understand nor was able to adapt as well as the other British kids to the standards of being sent away from my family, for months at a time, to some place far away where kids sleep in dormitories with 12-plus persons in each room. No candy. No toys. No games (unless school provides them). No walkmans, no music! WHAT WHAT WHAT-!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD-!!!

So I broke that rule! I made myself few compilation tapes of music recorded from 12-inch records. I had a Sony Walkman, one stereo headphones and one mono earphone with me at school. I was secretly listening to my tapes … nobody else ever knew about it. :twisted:   Even when I was in bed after lights-out, I used the concealed earphone to listen to music. Never once was I caught. I beat the system!

Just An Illusion was my savior all along. Played that track over and over again at school, until the cassette tape got worn out over time, thus sounding more hissy and saturated.

Christmas 1982, England…
Best white Christmas ever in my life. I was on a four-week holiday break and back at home with mom, dad and elder brother, Jeff. We had just moved into our new house in the countryside of Denham Village, Buckinghamshire. England was the best during Christmas seasons in my life. And this one in 1982 was the most special. As a family of non-believers of Islam, we celebrated Christmas for the first time with a bang. Biggest turkey ever. Snow outside. Christmas lights and decorations. People in Denham Village’s main Village-Road were cheery. Bright lights. Lots of sweets at the small shop owned and operated by a very sweet old lady. And on Christmas day, my brother gave me the best present ever: BMX bicycle. I never knew how to ride bikes before. But after six dedicated days of trying … and with the help of Imagination‘s Just An Illusion track playing on the walkman … I learned to ride a bike for the first time in my life on new year’s eve. The biggest achievement I’ve ever accomplished by leaps and bounds! It was magic! The emotion was sensational. The feeling was liberating … to be able to ride a machine that had two wheels and travel around the countryside alone … with the walkman on … listening to music. Countless of joyrides on that BMX while listening to Just An Illusion.

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (Original Version)…

Artist: Imagination
Title: Just An Illusion (Original Version)
Year: 1982
Label: R & B Records

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (Original Version) (mp3)

 

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (Night Dubbing Mix)…

Artist: Imagination
Title: Just An Illusion (Night Dubbing Mix)
Year: 1982
Label: R & B Records

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (Night Dubbing Mix) (mp3)

 

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (Correct Claps Mix)…

Artist: Imagination
Title: Just An Illusion (Correct Claps Mix)
Year: 1982
Label: R & B Records

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (Correct Claps Mix) (mp3)

 

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (1989 Remix)…

Artist: Imagination
Title: Just An Illusion (1989 Remix)
Year: 1989
Label: R & B Records

Imagination – “Just An Illusion” (1989 Remix) (mp3)

 

About Imagination – Just An Illusion…

The following is quoted from from the sleeve-note of The Very Best Of Imagination, Just An Illusion double-CD (picture below):

Looking at Leee John’s nether regions and his luxuriant falsetto, the phrase ‘all mouth and no trousers’ might well have been invented to describe Imagination. Neither demure nor modest (they were once ordered to cover up when meeting the Prince and Princess of Wales), their outrageous stage presence masked a surprisingly deep well of songwriting talent and a vastly underrated catalogue of recordings.

Named for the recently deceased John Lennon’s unctuous ‘Imagine’, Imagination came into being in early 1981 with the hypno-disco groove ‘Body Talk’. Predicated on a monstrous Linn-programmed kick drum and a hypnotic synth-bassline, ‘Body Talk’ somehow managed to be a killer dance record that was ponderously slow. The best compliment one could give a British dance record in the early 80s was that it sounded American and ‘Body Talk’ did, indeed, sound like it might have come from yet another Manhattan or Detroit hit factory. This was probably no coincidence. ‘Body Talk’ also marked the debut of the production duo Steve Jolley and Tony Swain, a pair who’d met while working on the Muppet Show, and who went on to produce Bananarama’s finest singles, including ‘Cruel Summer’, as well as Spandau Ballet (‘True’), Diana Ross and Alison Moyet.

Imagination originally came together through Leee John and Ashley Ingram, both of whom met while working in pick-up bands for touring American acts like the Deflonics and Chairman of the Board. They formed the short-lived Fizzz before meeting West Indian drummer Errol Kennedy and completing the trio. ‘Body Talk’ was a slow burner, totally ignored on radio, but thanks to the support of DJs like Steve Walsh its popularity was sealed in the clubs and by the time it reached TV there was no stopping them. This might have been something to do with the costumes. Aided variously by bin-liners, giant pianos, Centurions’ helmets, generous helpings of dry ice and what might well have been crocheted nappies, Imagination’s image glided effortlessly from gay Romans to transsexual boxers let loose in a sari factory (no wonder Leee John appeared on Doctor Who).

They swiftly became permanent fixtures on mainstream TV, while Leee John’s pleasingly daft persona masked a fierce talent for songwriting (along with Swain and Jolley, John and Ashley Ingram co-wrote all of Imagination’s hits). Their debut album Body Talk yielded a further two Top 20 smashes with ‘In And Out Of Love’ and ‘Flashback’ (as well as club classic ‘Burnin’ Up’) and eventually went gold. A 22-date UK tour swiftly sold out (crocheted nappies had never been so popular). In The Heat Of The Night, their sophomore album, was yet more successful with four of its eight tracks eventually ending up as hit singles. Drawing on the then fashionable influences of Romanology, the trio were portrayed as Centurions atop a winding keyboard that jutted out into the stratosphere, thrusting past Neptune and possibly even beyond the services at Newport Pagnell. This vivid imagery was offset by yet more winning tunes, none less so than ‘Just An Illusion’, the group’s biggest hit (no. 2, UK), again employing the synth-bass and heavy kick-drum beloved of its predecessors

Although crossover success eluded them in the United States, Imagination were huge in Europe and beyond, particularly in France where they even had a horse race, Le Prix De Caen, re-named in their honour (it’s now known as Le Prix Imagination). Despite the lack of pop action in America, their status as club heroes remained undiminished right through the ’80s – it waned somewhat in the UK possibly because of chart success, but also perhaps because of their outré Frankie-Howerd-in-a-turkish-brothel look. They had a huge following in America’s gay clubs with several of their songs being remixed by the leading DJs du jour, such as François Kevorkian and Larry Levan and they continued to enjoy high placings in the Billboard dance charts well past the ’80s. (Imagination eventually signed to RCA and made an uneven album with American producers like Arthur Baker and Nick Martinelli towards the turn of the decade.)

By the end of the 1980s, Imagination had spent a total of 105 weeks on the UK singles charts, released a series of gold albums and embarked on an endless series of sell-out tours throughout the world. And they had worn more gold and see-through satin than Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra. In fact, they looked like they might have actually been in Cleopatra. For a while, Imagination quietly melted away, as the original members left and, finally, Leee John concentrated on other avenues. But the music never really went away. In the 1990s, it was down to the samplers to keep things boiling, with PM Dawn, who sampled ‘Just an Illusion’ on ‘Gotta Be Movin’ Up’, while last year, Mariah Carey’s stupendously good ‘Get Your Number’ was again built around the gigantic bassline of ‘Just An Illusion’. And if you count Leee John’s appearances in the club charts with ‘Mighty Power of Love’ and his collaborations with Club 69, Imagination never really went away.

Musically derided by so many, the ’80s was, in fact, one of the most creative decades ever for pop music, from the invention of hip hop to house and techno, Prince in his pomp and the flowering of the New Romantics with their unique brand of synth pop (and worryingly florid dress sense). Imagination were part of that early 80s revolution that took pop music out of the staid confines of ‘real’ instruments and dull rock formatting, and dragged it into the latter part of the century. The electronic production pioneered by Swain and Jolley on Imagination’s albums might have been viewed as prosaic ten years hence, but back then was undoubtedly revolutionary.

For this gleaming piece of aural artwork you’re presently holding, we’ve selected what we think are the best cuts from the R&B catalogue (their best and most consistent work) and in particular the golden period working with Jolley and Swain. While CD 1 focuses primarily on the hits but also manages to shoe-horn in a couple of choice ballads, I’ll Always Love You and I’m Coming To Get You. Over on CD 2 we’ve included some criminally overlooked album tracks like Shoo Be Doo Da Dabba Doobee (don’t be fooled by its mildly preposterous Flintstone-esque title, it’s altogether splendid) and So Good, So Fine, but we’ve also included the entire Nightdubbing album, imagination’s legendary club remixes LP, which, just so you know, also achieved double gold status. For good measure, we’ve also slung in a few of the original 12-inch mixes. If we got any more generous, we’d be giving it away. Imagination? No illusion.

© Bill Brewster, 2006

Original music video of Imagination – “Just An Illusion”…

Live performance video of Imagination – “Just An Illusion”…

Mito Automat Vangelis - Droid Pulstar

Mid Summer 2009, a very close and longtime friend of mine RC Lair came to my side of town and hung out with me. Before going inside the Ocean Club for drinks, we stayed inside my car to listen to the entire Hale Bopp mix CD which he’d done in the mid 90′s. All the tracks on that CD were retro classics of electric disco/dance/italo ranging from the late 70′s through the mid 80′s. By the time we reached track-05, I was going through the car’s roof from excitement. The track was just THAT awesome … pure electronic analog circuitry … melodic and true to its form and genre its era. And I JUST HAD TO HAVE IT … and own it! So I asked RC who/what that track was, but he couldn’t remember from the top of his head, and he wasn’t going to look through his entire record collection at any time soon, because they were all stored in boxes. Now I was on a serious mission to hunt for a full-length copy of track-05. After six weeks of unsuccessful digging and searching, I still had no name of the artist nor title of the track.

A few days later, my producer friend Peter Hecher exposed me to Casco who was an Italian legend DJ and Italo music producer. I checked out his MySpace page, his main site and all other webpages related to him; listened to all his amazing original/classic Italo tracks; and downloaded few of his old live mix-sets. When listening to one of his Italo mix-sets … low and behold … track-05! Thus immediately I sent Casco an email requesting him to identify track-05 for me. Few hours later he sent me a reply, “Mito – Droid.

After searching the net for days, I was able to find only bad quality MP3 copies. But just recently, over the net, there was a nice fellow from Europe who had an actual 12-inch record of Mito/Droid and, at my request, was kind enough to record and send me a good quality .wav digital file of it.

However, during the entire period of searching for Mito/Droid, I had discovered that it is in fact a remix of an original 1978 “Droid” track by Automat. According to SongBooks blog:

Automat was a project of a disc, from the Italians Musumarra, Gizzi and Maggi. The first two were members of the pop band La Bottega dell’Arte that was successful in Italy between 1976 and 1984. The “Automat” LP was released in 1978 as a kind of demo Synthesizer MCS70 (Memory Controller Synthesizer 70) built by Maggi. The funny highlight of the LP is the band Droid, who say they were the opening theme of a TV news at TV Globo (Brazil) in the early 80′s. In fact parts of this theme were used twice in television news, in one of them no Globo Esporte noon. This all in it for 81/82. But it was common to the Globo television, since I remember that was used in the novel called “Brilhante”, type in 80/81. There are many more electronic themes that the Globo TV used in the field of the Fantástico.

I was able to find and download the entire Automat album on torrents. There were only four tracks in total, and all of them were in mono. At first I’d thought it was an accident by the person who recorded the album to digital, but in fact the original source of recording was done in mono. So I took the liberty to re-master Automat’s Droid, making it pseudo-stereo, adding true stereo ambient reverbs with independent left/right parameter settings, and enhancing the track’s overall low, mid and high range across its spectrum frequency (by using Waves Linear Phase Multiband plugin, among other RTAS plugins, in Protools). I’ve included both the original/mono and my enhanced re-mastered versions for comparison.

All in all, I find that Droid sounds very similar to VangelisPulstar (1976). To my ears, it seems that Droid borrowed heavily from the melody of Pulstar with noticeable variations, although both manage to stand out away from each other at the same time.

As a bonus, I managed to find a great Italo remix of Pulstar by Hipnosis (thank you Beat Electric).

Mito – “Droid” (12″ Remix)…

Artist: Mito
Title: Droid (12″ Remix)
Year: 1982
Label: Zanza Records

Mito – “Droid” (12″ Remix) (mp3)

 

Automat – “Droid” (Hashmoder Remaster)…

Artist: Automat
Title: Droid (Hashmoder Remaster)
Year: 1978 (2009)
Label: EMI Odeon

Automat – “Droid” (Hashmoder Remaster) (mp3)

 

Automat – “Droid” (Original, mono version)…

Artist: Automat
Title: Droid (Original, mono version)
Year: 1978
Label: EMI Odeon

Automat – “Droid” (Original) (mp3)

 

Vangelis – “Pulstar” (Vangelis original)

Artist: Vangelis
Title: Pulstar
Year: 1976
Label: RCA

Vangelis – “Pulstar” (mp3)

 

Hipnosis – “Pulstar” (remix of Vangelis)

Artist: Hipnosis
Title: Pulstar
Year: 1982 ?
Label: ?

Hipnosis – “Pulstar” (mp3)

 

Vangelis

Vangelis in his studio, early 80's.

I am dedicating this track to my longtime neighbor and close friend –my brother– Pom Pom Pizzy. He has just lost one of his very best friends who passed away suddenly on November 29, 2009 — just few short days ago.

Pizzy, my brother, I’m dedicating this track to you. I can just imagine how you’re feeling and what you’re going through right now. Losing your best friend H-Breezy, whom you’ve known and loved all your life, is a very terrible loss. I can only bet you’re still in shock about it all. Use all the time you need, as time is always available in abundance to bereave the loss of your very best friend. But keep going through those great/happy memories between you and H-Breezy. Think about all the times you two did things together:  joking back and forth and laughing out loud in the car, or on the couch; going on trips to so many different places; partying together with the rest of the lads; going on long drives, talking and listening to music; confiding and seeking advice; being each other’s armor-bearer for support; watching each other’s backs; and telling each other “goodnights” and looking forward to “good mornings” on every last-nights and tomorrows. Always remember, you’ll always have a homebase to come back to.

Keep it together and be strong brother!

Phil Collins – “Take Me Home” (12″ers Extended Version)…

Artist: Phil Collins
Title: Take Me Home (12″er0s Extended Versions)
Year: 1985
Label: Atlantic Recordings
Media Source: Extracted directly from audio CD: Phil Collins – 12″ers EP (1987).

Phil Collins – “Take Me Home” (12″ers Extended Version) (mp3)

 

HansonDavis_03_600x450

Hashmoder's "STABBING BASSLINE" Stamp Of AprovalSpring 1985 Toronto ….. at Starsounds record store ….. I saw this record up on the wall.  I had no idea who these guy were, but I trusted its record label Fresh Records. Had several Fresh Records vinyls in my arsenal at that time. Bought this record, took it home and loved it. Electro freestyle, afro-latin electric R&B sound and production of Kurtis Mantronik (Mantronix). He did all the solid programming of tight 909 drums, staccato bassline (Roland Sh101), processed orchestra hit-stabs, synth chord shops and all other elements. It was really this record that got me into the new electro (hiphop’ish) freestyle sound from Mantronix before I got to hear or know about any of Mantronix own stuff to come out shortly later (such as Needle To The Groove). Hungry For Your Love style-&-sound foreshadows similar-sounding (afro-latin electro freestyle) releases yet to come from Joyce Sims such as All In All and other tracks also produced by Mantronix.

Other than that, I don’t know much about Hanson & Davis. According to wikidpedia:

Hanson and Davis was a Latin freestyle group that was composed of two African American session singers named Aaron Hanson and Edward J. Davis. The duo was known for its 1986 single “Hungry for Your Love,” which was produced by Kurtis Mantronik. The duo’s only album, Can’t Stop, was considered a one-hit wonder, which resulted in the group disbanding.

Perhaps it’s possible that Hungry For Your Love was Mantronix‘ first test-track shortly before unleashing his monstrous creativity and polished subsequent releases!

Hanson & Davis – “Hungry For Your Love” (Club Version)…

Artist: Hanson & Davis
Title: Hungry For Your Love (Club Version)
Year: 1985
Label: Fresh Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Hanson & Davis – “Hungry For Your Love” (Club Version) (mp3)

 

Hanson & Davis – “Hungry For Your Love” (Dub Version)…

Artist: Hanson & Davis
Title: Hungry For Your Love (Dub Version)
Year: 1985
Label: Fresh Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Hanson & Davis – “Hungry For Your Love” (Dub Version) (mp3)

 

Mantronix – “Needle To The Groove”…

Mantronix (Need To The Groove, 12-inch sleeve cover) and Kurt Mantronik (right)

Joyce Sims – “All In All”…

Chaka Khan - I Feel For You

One of my all time fav tracks. Best time of my life when I Feel For You came out: December 1984 ….. 13 years old ….. white Christmas in England (my fav time and place to be in the world) ….. my whole family at our happiest times ….. and this track was my soundtrack theme! If I could only turn back the clock, I would travel to that exact time and scene when all I did was buy records, make compilation music tapes, go out shopping with my older brother, walk around London at nights, window-shopping along the beautifully and seasonally  lit-up streets and parks. Harrods; Sloan Street; King Street; Picadilly Circus; Tower Records; movies; restaurants; friends; flat in London; Spanish house in the countryside; snow; great comedies on BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel-4. Band Aid‘s Do They Know It’s Christmas Time (Feed The World) benefit-song was just released for the first and all over the airwaves. England in Christmas was vibrant. New Years Eve with the parents at a ballroom party and then walk the streets of London afterhours …. Oxford Street, Regent Street, Marble Arche, Park Lane, Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, etc. Crowds of people on the streets with champagne bottles and beer in their hands; everyone hugging each other; confetti in the air; cars honking; IT’S A CELEBRATION, BITCH!

And Chaka Khan‘s I Feel For You takes me there whenever I play the track around this time of year.

Chaka Khan – “I Feel For You” (12″ Extended)…

Artist: Chaka Khan
Title: I Feel For You (12″ Extended)
Year: 1984
Label: Warner Bros.
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.
Blog Claim: FVQ6QN5QM3UJ

Chaka Khan – “I Feel For You” (12″ Extended) (mp3)

 

Chaka Khan – “I Feel For You” (1989 Remix)…

Artist: Chaka Khan
Title: I Feel For You (1989 Remix)
Year: 1989
Label: Warner Bros.
Media Source: Extracted directly from Audio-CD.

Chaka Khan – “I Feel For You” (1989 Remix) (mp3)

 

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