Monday, November 22, 2021

Break/Broken: Broken Hearts and Auto Parts


Kevn Kinney: Broken Hearts and Auto Parts
[purchase

Somehow, I almost completely missed Drivin’ N Cryin’, a band that emerged from Atlanta in the mid-1980s. Probably because they started after my college radio days, and because I don’t think they got much airplay in the northeast. But at some point, I heard the song, “Broken Hearts and Auto Parts,” by Kevn Kinney, who was the lead singer of the band, and I really liked it. (Which led me to investigate some of their music). 

It’s a profoundly sad song, and the title is explained by the very first line: “Ain't been the best year so far...I lost my girl, I lost my car.” And the song continues with a litany of loss and sadness, leading to a remarkable catchy chorus, despite its wistfulness: 

It's been broken hearts and auto parts and everything between.
I was on the move and in a suit, and on the silver screen.
Where I could hide for days, and live inside my dreams.
It's been broken hearts and auto parts this year.


Drivin’ N Cryin’ put out music through the nineties before taking a break, reforming in the late 2000s and releasing an album in 2009 and a series of EPs in 2012-2013. At that point, guitarist Sadler Vaden joined the band for a spell, before leaving to join Jason Isbell’s band, the 400 Unit, and a new album was released in 2019. Kinney’s solo career also continued through the 90s and 2000s, and his most recent release, with a version of Golden Palominos, A Good Country Mile, featured a cover of Isbell’s “Never Gonna Change,” (which was mentioned in a piece I wrote about Golden Palominos a few years back). 

As most of you who’ve read my work know, I’m a big fan of Isbell’s (and if you didn’t know it, the number of references to him in this piece about a Kevn Kinney song should clue you in a little). Back when the Georgia Senate races were the big political news, Isbell promised on Twitter that he’d do an album of covers of songs by Georgia artists if both Ossof and Warnock won. They did, and Isbell and his band, and a number of guests, actually made good on their Twitter promise (unlike the many people who have promised to leave the US if one or the other candidate won the presidency), recently releasing Georgia Blue. One of the tracks on the album is Drivin’ N Cryin’s “Honeysuckle Blue,” sung on the album by Vaden (who was not in the band when that song was released). And I was lucky enough to see him sing it the other night during a great set by Isbell and the 400 Unit: 

It will be interesting to see if the inclusion of “Honeysuckle Blue” on Georgia Blue leads to a revival of interest in Drivin’ N Cryin’ and Kinney, who have flown somewhat under the radar (although they are members of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame). 

FWIW, Isbell has promised to do an album of Texas covers if Beto O’Rourke wins the governorship. Which is another reason to hope that happens.

BREAK/BROKEN: BREAKDOWN

Hmmm, possibly straying to close to the bone with this one, given I am currently "unwell" and away from work. Let's just say the NHS is a tough frontline to be patrolling at present, as we balance the (I wish!) post-plague demand with the ongoing per-plague issues, with much less than pre-plague resources or manpower. I'm OK, no walls hit, being able to recognise the signs and to get the help, but it set me thinking about how popular music tackles this phenomenon. Sure, I need to call it stress and burn-out, but it is, is it not, as much a cipher as was/is nervous breakdown. (And I'm sorta guessing, that the myriad breakdowns in bluegrass are probably a whole different kettle, if a shame, as there are so many good ones.....)

19th Nervous Breakdown/Rolling Stones

Clearly the template was the Stones. Far from number 19 myself, it is a cracking little number, prescient and surprisingly forthright for its day, when Jagger was singing about more than just chicks and whips. Indeed, it was, almost, a subject they stuck with for a while, but I'm eschewing the mother's little helpers for now. But that's enough about me. Where else can we find psych advice?

Breakdown/Grace Jones

I am uncertain if, in the the original Tom Petty version, this was a song that fits this concept/conceit, with the lyric sounding an almost passive aggressive exhortation to a possibly soon to be ex, but I so much like the idea of Grace Jones imparting wellbeing advice. I think she might, too. So, that being sufficient, Dr Jones is yer girl. Mind you, she has form in this arena. And her remedy, is it not, actually half the battle. 

Breakdown/Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Kris Kristofferson strikes me as a fella who knows a demon when he sees one, and he certainly captures the sense of oft accompanying melancholia that can sit alongside anxiousness, shame and guilt. He wrote the above song, arguably better known in the version by the Everly Brothers, but I like this one, the poignant pairing of vocals as evocative as the siblings, maybe, courtesy Oldham/Billy, that little bit more. 

Breakdown/Jack Johnson

I think this is probably allegorical, a characteristically bouncy song from the onetime surf dude. I think he is better than he usually gets credit for, and if he can't say stop, I want to get off, well, who can? It is an insightful lyric, actually, and one that heightens my opinion of him all the more. For perspective, however, i offer the below, a truly ludicrous song that has my tongue as far in my cheek as it goes. If I were ever to worry, ol' Eddie has me convinced I ain't. Which makes this indulgence totally therapeutic, don't it?

Nervous Breakdown/Eddie Cochran

So much better am I now feeling, care of the healing power of rock and roll, here is something that also popped up, something I have on an odd compilation, Beginners Guide to Asian Lounge, which is actually pretty good. The mix of instrumentation and internal rhythms are quite a good representation of the maelstrom of conflicting emotions that congress when the candle has burnt too hard. Unless I am just hearing that as I need, but, either which way, all things being equal, normal service to be returned sooner or later

Emotional Breakdown/Mo Magic

(You liked the Earl Scruggs at the beginning too, did you?)




Thursday, November 18, 2021

Break/Broken: Convoy

 



purchase [  The Best of CW McCall ]


I would not have thought so, but apparently trucker CB radio is still a thing - even in this day of digital phones that do the same and more than Citizens Band radio. One source of internet information claims that CB use is fading. Another says that 90% of professional drivers call it a critical tool with about 6 million CB radios still in use in the US.

CB culture of the 1970s developed its own language, including the classic <Break> or sometimes <Breaker>: the code to interrupt all other comms on a channel and insert one's own message atop all others. A number of songs and movies dealt with the American fascination with trucker issues, many related to protests over the 55 MPH speed limit imposed to deal with rising oil prices during the 1973 energy crisis.

We got Smokey and the Bandit (Burt Reynolds), Steel Cowboy (James Brolin) and Over the Top (Sylvester Stallone). We got On the Road Again (Willie Nelson), Truck Driving Man (Buck Owen) and CW McCall's 1975 top of the charts hit Convoy:

The song starts, appropriately for our purposes with "breaker one-nine" and is peppered throughout with trucker-speak that might send you searching for a translation tool. The video here is scenes from the film of the same name based on the story in the song. IMDB rates the film a 6.3/10 with the comment "... the shallowest of Sam Peckinpah's films, but by no means the worst." Wikipedia says it was the most commercially successful of his films. C.W. McCall wrote a new version with "saltier" lyrics specifically for the film. Other musicians in the film's soundtrack include a veritable who's who of country: Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers and Doc Watson. There's also various other - some politically incorrect - versions of the song



Wednesday, November 17, 2021

BREAK/BROKEN: PIANO

If I get this in before a 'heart', I'll be surprised, the sentimental old buzzards that we all are, over here at SMS, but I'll have ago, knowing the thrill we all get from smashing a piano. No? Never done it? But you wan't to, don't you. Can you imagine the pure recidivist pleasure, the crash, the chords, the cacophony? We've all seen it done, surely?


Well, that was refreshing. Given custom and practice, what we now need is some music. Handily one Frank Turner has thoughtfully written a song on the subject, or about the post-traumatic debris. Wondering, perhaps, whether the piano is a metaphor for something else, the lyric certainly gives that suggestion. A pretty good song, isn't it, folk in its structure and melody, his voice in the unstructured school of similar observationalists like Billy Bragg. As the rhythm section come crashing in, the whole mood changes, into a bit of perfect and powerful 21st century pop music, indelibly English.

Broken Piano (2013)

I'll bet this is Carter's first appearance in these pages. He is an artist I have come to quite like these recent years, as he has gradually fought his way out of anonymous punky thrashes into a songwriter of some nuance. He has had a far from usual trajectory: old Etonians are more likely to end up running the country than topping the bill at medium sized music festivals; Eton College is the ultimate toff school in the country, a term there costing the price of a small family car, even before all the add-ons. Like the school uniform. Given the standard expectation for any self-respecting rocker to disguise their background, with


Joe Strummer and Shane McGowan each preferring folk forgot their sojourns at similar, if ever so slightly less elite institutions, the average public (as we call our private) school boy has to affect rough and tough back street upbringing to make it in the music biz. An Eton accent must have decimated credibility at the Roxy in 1975, or whenever. Indeed, the number of Old Etonians in the annals of popular music are relatively small. I couldn't find any, if you exclude Prince William, a contemporary of Turner, who is said to be quite the demon axe shredder. (I lied; he isn't.) But let's move on, Turner must be as sick as anyone by this concentration of his background. But, before doing so, given Eton has also a reputation as a finishing school for posh thick, Boris Johnson and that ilk, Turner actually completed his studies and then attended Mick Jaggers's old uni, the London School of Economics.

The Half-Life of Kissing/Kneejerk (2001)

A metalhead by choice in his teens, Iron Maiden* were his go-to band. And, surprise, surprise, like every other school or college, even Eton had its own band, Kneejerk, subsequently described as short-lived. From then he moved onto the post-hardcore (no, me neither) London band Million Dead. Around the time that band was appreciating 'irreconcilable differences', we should be grateful Turner caught hold of a cassette version of Bruce Springsteen's 'Nebraska'. This led to his style becoming more measured, with the introduction of melody, even if the words remained as vitriolic. Two well received albums under his name came out in the middle to late noughties, ahead of relative breakthrough, with 2009's 'Poetry of the Deed', bolstered by his relentless touring tendencies, becoming a summer festival staple across the realm of folk, roots, rock and alternative. His next move was to strip back further into a near acoustic mode, for 'England Keep My Bones'. Mind you, he kept his hardcore hand in, simultaneous touring with the unfortunately named Möngöl Horde. Switching allegiances between how much electricity he was needing to perform, The featured song for this piece comes from 2013's 'Tape Deck Heart', which, yes, was his break-up album, after the demise of a longterm relationship, making my suspicions above seem correct.

Live Fast, Die Old (2009)

I Still Believe (2012)

Keeping his b(r)and alive, a stream of EPS and compilations followed, until 2015's 'Positive Songs For Negative People', which drew some criticisms of being blander and more platitudinous lyrically, but was just as reassuringly and rousingly lively in its anthemic choruses. By now he was a chart regular, the album attaining a 2 in its week of domestic release, gaining also some US traction, 69 on the Billboard 

The Next Storm (2015)

chart. I personally didn't get on board until 2019's 'No Man's Land', a concept album, the subject matter and songs referring to powerful women, which included, in the final track, a tribute to his mother. Before, during and since he has maintained his hectic touring schedule, both solo and with the Sleeping Souls, the constant crew of musicians with him since 2006. Having discovered his work, I have delved back into his catalogue and, covid willing, he is one of the first acts I plan to see live when normal service fully resumes, this being something I have had yet to manage.

Rosemary Jane (2019)

Mindful I have strayed far from the theme, outwith the sole song offered, please accept the below as some slight recompense, being a revisioned version, 5 years on, from 2018's 'Songbook'.

Broken Piano (2018)

*Little known fact, in 2014 Turner appeared as a guest on BBC's Celebrity Mastermind, a special edition of the general knowledge quiz, wherein contestants start with a specialist round of questions. Turner chose Iron Maiden as his subject. And won!

To be perfectly Frank.....
 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Candy: Candy Says

 



Purchase [ Velvet Underground ]

Star Maker Machine has been around Halloween-themed things before (including Trick or Treat back in 2018), at which time I wrote about the self-same first idea that came to mind this time around: Grateful Dead's <Candyman>.

OK, so .. back to the drawing board. Guess that song meant (still means) a lot to me since it keeps coming to mind. But wait, a little digging shows that the Four Tops had something similar:

Then again, after another look, I see a song that (somewhat surprisingly) appears not to have ever appeared here at SMM - and it is one that I used to listento and appreciate, for the Veklvet Underground's XXX album:

<Candy Says> is a quintessential Velvet Underground piece: understated, but harmonious/melodic. it must be because of these attributes [understated foremost] that the band never achieved top-of-the-charts status: IMHO the song is just about perfect, but it would never be a "hit" (too laid back?)

Never really got into the darkness below Velvet Underground myself - but I always appreciated that side of the spectrum. The same for Lou Reed as well - music needs people like this to move on, but too dark and outre for me most of the time.

That said, Wiki tells us the song is written in the voice if a transgender woman - way back in 69 - outta time/outta space



Monday, November 8, 2021

CANDY/SWEETS: CHOCOLATE

Duty bound to prop up this side of the atlantic, with candy, like movies and garbage, an americanism that has crept in and gained an increasing traction in the language over here. I feel I have to say we eat sweets, or, even, sweeties, when in need of a sugar kick. So, true to form, tapping 'sweet' into my i-tunes search, I anticipated reams of inspiration. Sadly, give or take this song, very little fitted the bill, even were I to turn a blind eye to the innumerable double entendres out there, as most of the sweetness and most of the honey referred to comes in a two legged form. Needing, thus, a quick reboot, and chocolate became my go-to. 


Courtesy disallows any discussion over the pros and cons of US versus UK in this confection, the age-old Hershey versus Cadbury, perhaps now academic that Cadbury, for chrissakes, are owned by the cheese paste magnate, Kraft. (The answer, by the way, is neither, my taste erring towards dark and interesting, the continental "plain" chocolate that actually bears some acquaintance with the cocoa bean.) So, with no further ado, here's a selection box of choccy treats, which I will deliver in the form of the once mighty Fry's Five Boys bar. This was a childhood treat in, admittedly, simpler times, a thin bar comprising 5 segments, each with a different boy at the different 5 stages of engagement therewith. Entitled Desperation, Pacification, Expectation, Acclamation and Realisation, the classic stages of how to bribe a small child. Once the most recognised bar in the world, it was launched in 1902, surviving until the late '70s, by which time it had become desperately low key and old hat. 

Desperation:

I Like Chocolate/Johnny and the Raindrops

Has anyone actually heard this monster before? Uncertain quite as to which demographic it was aimed toward, nonetheless it is so gallingly sickly as to deserve a place here. Johnny and the Raindrops, who "have been making music for children and their grown-ups since 2008", that quote giving away the game that they are in that small selection of bands for pre-school kids, like Australia's more famous Wiggles. (I'd love to say like They Might Be Giants, but I am aware their fans now come also in long trousers and are fiercely protective of the band and their oeuvre.)

Pacification:

Chocolate/Tindersticks

An unusual piece from the Tindersticks canon. Unusual, in that it is spoken word, spoken with a voice that sounds normal and unmannered. The singing style of the vocalist, Stuart Staples, is not always so, with one of the, let's say, more curious timbres out there. Don't get me wrong, I adore the band, and his odd vocal style is a big part of that, this song somehow diminishing him a little, making him sound just a normal lad from Nottingham. The backing remains, of course, exquisitely characteristic, a mix twixt David Lynch soundtrack and european art-house film music. It is a long track; please bear with it. If you can't, well, skip to the end. With luck you will then want to hear the whole thing.

Expectation:

Chocolate Girl/Deacon Blue

The song that first endeared me to this ongoing Scottish institution. A terrific song from their debut album, the mere act of adding some sublime pedal steels ensured my interest and attention. I have written about them before, my belief maintained that their first work was their best, further albums never quite having quite the same hooks. But they play on, fairly big hitters, still, on the bigger UK indoor venue circuit: indeed, I caught them, if briefly, playing at  festival just this last summer. With a largely all the hits show, they had the audience lapping it all out of their hands. And, sure, they played this.

Acclamation:

Chocolate Drops/Iggy Pop

A newer song, slightly, one of the highpoint of Mr Osterberg's 5 year old opus, Post Pop Depression. I like it, he coming on all over like a cross between his old mucker, David Bowie, and Mark Lanegan, the thoughtful use of chimes in the percussion department always a mood lifter in my house. It has intriguing lyrics, Pop's own, added to a riff album producer Josh Homme had had lying around for some few years. Basically a variation on the Monty Python song about looking on the bright side, here Pop muses on how, as you sink to the bottom, you become the top of that trajectory, inviting the then corollary that the brown stuff accumulating there might then become chocolate drops. Enticing stuff, eh? But it is a lovely little tune so, with that positivity in mind, who is to say the yellow snow isn't honey?

Realisation:

More Songs About Chocolate and Girls/The Undertones

I'm not sure whether this was written as a response to the Talking Heads' worthy sounding album, More Songs About Buildings and Food; I should check. (A: It came two years later and both bands were on the same label, so it seems a reasonable supposition.) No clever allegorical verbiage here, just a dumb yet smart ode to the simple pleasures of, um, chocolate and girls, sung in Feargal Sharkey's unmistakeable wobbly warble. At the end of this or any day, I am not sure if any of the greatest philosophers could put it better:

"Sit down, relax and cancel all other engagements
It’s never too late to enjoy dumb entertainment"

So, there you have it, 5 boys worth of chocolate. Before I finish, however, let me share with you the delight of discovery as to what the Scots Gaelic for candy turns out to be, sweeties being so integral in Scottish life and dentistry..... (Hint: try saying 'suiteas' aloud. And 'seòclaid' isn't heaven a million miles away, either!)



Thursday, November 4, 2021

Candy/Sweets: I Want Candy

 
Bow Wow Wow
: I Want Candy

[purchase

In 1980, Malcolm McLaren, who was either officially or unofficially managing Adam and the Ants (depending on the source), did something that you don’t usually expect a band’s manager to do (although you might have expected McLaren to do it)—he convinced all of the band other than the titular Adam to quit and form a new group for him to manage. Lacking a lead singer, because they had walked away from Adam, they unsuccessfully auditioned singers until they found the obvious choice—a 13 year old Anglo-Burmese girl named Annabella Lwin, who had been discovered singing along to the radio in the dry cleaners where she worked. A second singer, George O’Dowd, briefly was also in the band, but left to form Culture Club, and rename himself Boy George. 

From this unlikely alliance, Bow Wow Wow was formed, releasing their first single, "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go!" shortly thereafter, to no support from their label, because it promoted home taping, which was going to destroy the music business. It didn’t (and not because of the postcards to Congress I was “asked” to fill out and sign during the summer I worked at Atlantic Records)—it took the Internet to really destroy, or at least radically disrupt, the music business. Although, the last time I checked, the music business was still standing. 

Later in 1980, the band released another cassette only album that included a song featuring, as Wikipedia describes it, “suggestive moaning and heavy breathing performed by then 14-year-old Lwin.” It certainly seemed that McLaren was up to his usual provocateur business. And in 1981, Bow Wow Wow released its first full-length album, the wonderfully titled, See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy. The cover art featured the band recreating Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe with the 14-year-old Lwin nude, with her pose and arm blocking what the Pythons usually referred to as the “naughty bits.” FWIW, the photograph is now in the collection of the British National Portrait Gallery. At the time there was controversy, because, you know, 14, and Lwin’s mother instigated a Scotland Yard investigation into allegations of exploitation of a minor for immoral purposes. Nothing came of that, although McLaren reportedly agreed not to promote Lwin as a “sex kitten,” and then promptly used that, and other semi-nude pictures of Lwin on other covers (see the above single cover, for example). And, the controversy probably sold records. Duh. 

One of those other covers that the controversial picture was used on was a follow-up EP, Last of the Mohicans, released in May, 1982, which included “I Want Candy.” As this was right around the time that I was graduating from college, I have no recollection of whether I ever played it on the radio, but I know that I saw the video on MTV many, many times. The song was infectious, featuring a jaunty melody over Burundi style drumming, and along with Lwin’s hairstyle, made the video a “must-watch” despite its otherwise utter ‘80s cheesiness. And you have to believe that the idea of an underage girl singing “I want candy,” was part of McLaren’s marketing plan (I mean, there’s a closeup of Lwin slowly licking an ice cream cone in the video, for chrissakes). It was the band’s most successful song, and prompted the label to issue an album called I Want Candy, including songs from prior releases and a couple of b-sides. And yeah, it used the same Manet-influenced picture. 

After one more moderately successful album and a stressful tour, Lwin was fired from the band—she claims to have heard about it by reading in NME, which I guess was the ‘80s version of breaking up by text. The remaining members formed Chiefs of Relief, which I’ve never heard of, and the members went on to play with other bands that I’ve never heard of, and get into production work. Lwin started a solo career, with some limited success, mostly as a dance act. 

There have been various reformations of Bow Wow Wow, some with, and some without, Lwin, over the years, but most recently, bass player Leigh Gorman was fronting a band called Bow Wow Wow using other singers, while Lwin performs, billed as “Annabella Lwin of the original Bow Wow Wow,” warning on her website, essentially, not to accept any substitutes. 

As usual, I’ve rambled on, but frankly, I didn’t really know much about Bow Wow Wow or “I Want Candy,” and thought you might be interested, too. And one thing that you might not know about “I Want Candy,” which I didn’t know until fairly recently, is that it is a cover of a song originally released by the Strangeloves in 1965 and written by Bert Berns, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, possibly after seeing dancer Candy Johnson performing at the 1964 World’s Fair. (I attended that same World’s Fair, when I was 3 or 4 years old, and was more likely to have enjoyed actual candy than any dancer. Not surprisingly, I have no strong memories of the visit.) The Strangeloves version, which was a hit, was based on the “Bo Diddley beat,” an altered version of the clave rhythm, which is probably derived from Yoruba drumming, as opposed to the Burundi drums of the cover, so either way, the musicians were paying homage to (or ripping off) African music. Because that’s rock ‘n’ roll. 

There’s a whole additional thread to follow about how the original song led to Rick Derringer’s career, but you can look that up yourself, if you want.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

CANDY/SWEETS: CANDY EVERYBODY WANTS

 I have never quite worked out whether my love for 10,000 Maniacs stemmed more from their name than their music. Certainly it was the name that first caught my eye, before their songs caught my ear. Like Cowboy Junkies*, another band I adore, emerging at much the same time, they had the canny ploy of linking their often downbeat and distinctly unaggressive music with an edgy sounding name. Hell, it was for that reason alone I owned T-shirts emblazoned with their band names. But, of course, I did love the music, discovering here that they were, sort of, the subject of one of my debut posts for this site, a galling 8 plus years ago. (Gulp, so, at a conservative estimate of of, say, three posts a month, that's north of 300 posts I've inflicted on you poor devils, should any have lasted the pace.....)

'Candy Everybody Wants' was the striking 2nd single from the 5th and final studio album the band did whilst Natalie Merchant was still a member, and was a commentary on the then prevalent US audience taste for sex and violence on screens big and small. (I say then prevalent, wondering if that has ever changed? As mainstream TV and films have become less reliant on at least the sex side of things, cable networks are eagerly, um, thrusting that opportunity on their hungry subscribers. Violence has never been out of taste, the flavours increasingly now for the graphic.) Merchant was never afraid of sociological polemic, and has remained a fierce and outspoken critic of many of the ills she perceives in society, from the military and guns to child abuse, alcohol and the environment, sometimes to the point of being perceived as almost  unbearably liberal and politically correct. 'Candy Everyone Wants' was co-written with the keyboard player, Dennis Drew, one of the co-founders of the band still with them today. It hit a respectable 67 on the singles chart, the album, 'Our Time in Eden', faring better, at 28. The band had also hit a vein of popularity in the UK, where it peaked at 33, figure a slight drop down from the more successful Blind Man's Zoo, which preceded it. Still enough for it to eventually go double platinum, mind.

I don't often print out chunks of lyric but think it is warranted here:

"We give them what they want
If lust and hate is the candy,
If blood and love taste so sweet,
Then we...
We givem what they want.
Hey, hey, We givem what they want".

Something I hadn't appreciated ahead of this piece, despite having the disc on my shelves, and generally being an avid reader of the credits, is that the brass on the song, and on the whole parent album, is provided by the JBs, surely finding this literate fare a world apart from the exacting schedule of their usual employer, James Brown. The fact raises both they and the Maniacs up in my estimation.

For a slightly different mood, below is the version from the MTV Unplugged concert, an orchestra providing the backing, but otherwise little different.

Whereas, from another live performance, old chum Michael Stipe turned up and joined in. Again, clearly not the JBs, but it looks a lot of fun. It was performed, hello again, for the MTV Inaugural Ball for Bill Clinton. (At the risk of descending into smut, with a title like that, I wonder if they did?!)


Finally, given the comments around the ongoing longevity of the band, how does it sound these days? Replacement singer, Mary Ramsey, was already within the wider pool of band associated musicians, featuring on viola and backing vocals on both 'Our Time in Eden' and 'MTV Unplugged.' As also the musical partner of the Maniacs erstwhile guitarist, John Lombardo, who had left the band in 1986, they were together performing as John and Mary, so it seemed logical to have them both incorporated back/fully into the band on Merchant's exit. Here is the song as performed on the 'Playing Favourites', which had the new version of the band play old and newer songs from both per and post Merchant days.


Here's the sweetshop.


*Hope you SWIDT! Candy? Teeth? (I'm here all week!)