Bram Tchaikovsky: Girl of My Dreams
[purchase, if you have lots of money to burn, or a turntable]
One of the true joys of being a music fan is hearing something wonderful and totally unexpected for the first time. Back in the 1970s, particularly in the heyday of WNEW-FM and WLIR/WDRE, the DJs, who had access to new music before any of us listeners, would spin something new, maybe by a brand new band, or even by a known artist, and you would get that feeling in your gut, or the hair would stand up on the back of your neck.
I was lucky to be in that situation myself for the 3 and a half years that I worked at WPRB while in college. As a DJ, and then, even better, as assistant program director and program director, I often got to hear records immediately after they were taken out of the boxes they were shipped in. And before the Internet, it was much rarer to hear music before it was released.
I can’t remember exactly the first time I heard Bram Tchaikovsky’s album Strange Man, Changed Man, but it grabbed me immediately, and became something that I played on the air regularly. It was a record that came directly out of left field. Tchaikovsky (It took a little while to determine that, in fact, Bram wasn’t related to Pyotr Ilyich, although it wasn’t until many years later that I learned that his real name is Peter Bramall) was a member of The Motors, an English band that I was aware of, but he, personally, had not made any impression on me. The incredible power pop of SM,CM was a revelation, even overlooking the fact that Bram’s voice wasn’t great, or that the sound on the album was kind of muddy. It is one of those albums that I will always love, even if I rarely play it anymore.
Although SM, CM is strong from start to finish, the standout track, which was a minor hit, was “Girl of My Dreams,” a pretty love song to an inflatable sex doll. It is one of the great songs of that oft-maligned genre, right up there with, if not quite equal to, The Records “Starry Eyes.”
Bram and his band, with a revolving door of members, put out two more good records, but never quite hit the heights of the debut. By all reports, he retired from the music business in 1981, possibly opening up a recording studio. Lately, though, it appears that he may be gigging in England again.
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