Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rare But Good CDs

Ever had a CD you love that hardly anyone has heard of? Here are a couple of my most treasured CDs in the collection. It's likely that any of them will be found in retail music shops. Their recording labels have either closed or discontinued new releases. Here's the list:

5. Marc Almond - The Stars We Are
I was a big Marc Almond fan in high school so this was the very first cassette tape I bought with my allowance. If you haven't heard his two songs: 'Bitter Sweet' and 'The Very Last Pearl', then you're in for a real treat. These are two of the best little-heard new wave songs ever and it evokes wonderful memories every time I hear them. Sixteen years later, I finally acquired the CD version and the music is still as good as it was back in high school.

From 'The Very Last Pearl':

Well I've seen the sights of New York
I've seen day become night
I've seen the Brooklyn Bridge
All covered in lights
I've dived to the depths
I've scaled the heights

Call me romantic
Call me deluded
I've had it all

I've seen a Mediterranean night
The ships on the sea
The most beautiful eyes in the world
And the saddest eyes in the world

Call me romantic
Call me deluded
But I didn't care at all

4. Frente! - Labour of Love EP

I had to scrounge through the amazon used CD resellers to get this rare Frente release. What makes this CD 'rare but good' is that it contains two little-known Frente songs that I consider some of their best work: 'Not Given Lightly' - a cute love ballad, and 'Paper, Bullets and Walls' - a folksy, angst-ridden, quirky song. Nicely done Frente. But what we really need is a new Angie Hart release.

We also reviewed it previously on dangerousreviewers.

3. For the Kids (various artists)
A children's CD makes the list? You bet! Well, this is a children's CD with some kickass covers of popular kiddie tunes song by none other than three of my favorite bands. There's a CAKE cover of 'Mahna Mahna', a Barenaked Ladies version of 'Lalalala Lemon', and a rendition of 'Good Night Children Everywhere' by Sixpence None the Richer. Add to that, the very best version of 'Rainbow Connection' I've heard, performed by Ms. Sarah Mclachlan herself. This ain't no kids album.

2. The Other Two - The Other Two and You

The Other Two are Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris, two of the lesser-known New Order band members who recorded an album on the side. And what an album it is! This was released sometime in 1994, when the popularity of new wave music had all but passed. I remember hearing the single 'Selfish' on the radio and thinking 'Holy.... new wave lives on!'. This song has string instruments, synth, cool vocals, and a smooth beat. One of my all time faves.

From 'Selfish':

Someone I hate,
she think she's great unless you state the obvious.
You're next to me, entirely let's wait and see

Someone like you, selfish it's true
All you can do it's play to see entirely you disagree

No sense of reason, you think it's true
Why did you have to believe them?
No sense of reason,
What do I have to do?
There's no one else
You're deceiving

The rest of the album is good too because of the high musical quality of tracks such as 'Innocence', 'Movin On', 'The Greatest Thing' and others. How can you not like a song that has 'The Greatest Thing' as its title? This album is the greatest thing. Well, maybe the second greatest thing, especially after you read my number one pick.

From 'Innocence':

It’ s not the city or this town
I’m not the only girl that needs your affection
To satisfy this need that you’re the same boy now and that’s what I want

Since the very start you took control of my heart
And in the very end you pretended to be my friend
But you could never see the innocence in me
The innocence in me

By the way, I intend to get their follow-up album Superhighways in the near future if I can find it.

1. The Lizard's Convention - Here's a Funny Fish, Hurrah!

This is the ultimate rare but good CD. No longer sold in stores after its japanese distributor, Pony Canyon folded. I still have the original CD I bought in the mid-90's when the group had a minor hit in some parts of Asia with their cover of the Elvis Presley song 'Wooden Heart'.

The Lizard's Convention is a Singaporean band composed of Leon Lim, Adrian Loo, and lead singer Kristine Oehler who has one pretty unique singing voice. Its two cover songs 'Wooden Heart' and 'Rock the Boat' are superior over the originals. You've got to hear Kristine's rendition of these songs, absolutely amazing. It has a power and chatty friendliness that is hard to describe.

And who can resist other cool tracks titled 'The Goat that Haunted Me', 'Pleasant Song', 'If Cows Grew on Trees', and 'La Di Da'. Very cool songs. Kids will love 'em because they are sweet sugary pop melodies that are immediately appealing to the senses. Adults will love 'em because this is high quality music performed by people who love creating music.

Shortly after The Lizard's Convention's brief bout with fame, the group kind of disappeared. They had troubles with their recording label, was forced to record their follow up albums on their own, each band member going their own separate way. I can't even find their mysterious second CD titled 'Quarkstar' (if anyone has seen it or has it, please leave a comment). Such a pity as this little-known Singaporean band was pretty good. We want more Lizards Convention!

If I can continue to collect more hidden gems such as these in the next ten years, I will be a very content man.


Anonymous said...

hello, i googled lizard's convention and stumbled upon your blog. i, too, am a big fan of tlc's album, i bought mine back when it first went out (in cassette tape even) but it got stolen along with my walkman:)

i know this is a longshot coming from a complete stranger, but if you could find time to burn the songs from your cd copy into mp3 and post it in your blog, i would be very grateful.

i know some of the songs are in the geocities site but as you know it's incomplete and not in very good quality.

hopefully you believe in random acts of kindness:)

-paul /

rob said...

Paul, just saw your comment now. You can leave me a message in my youtube account I also posted some new Lizards Convention music there.