Showing posts with label Black. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Wonderful life - Black

I can't claim to have had a deep personal relationship with Colin Vearncombe, the man behind Black, but still his death in January 2016 hit me harder than any other musician's death ever did. And speaking of death: his 'Wonderful life' will probably end up being played when my funeral comes up. And you never know when that is.

'Wonderful life' was originally released in 1986 on the Ugly Man label. It was on the strength of this release and its indie chart success that Black ended up being signed on A&M Records. This song was their third single release on A&M and that version ended up being a worldwide hit. When you listen to the version of this 12" single, from 1986, you can hear subtle differences. The B-side contains the track 'Birthday night' which was never re-recorded, and an early version of 'Everything's coming up roses', which ended up being re-recorded and released as Black's first single for A&M. I was not even that keen on buying the 12" single when I did some 25 years ago - after all, I already had the double 7" single version - but now I'm very glad to own it.

My collection: 12" single [unnumbered]
Found: early 1990's
Cost: unknown
Tracks: 'Wonderful life' / 'Birthday night', 'Everything's coming up roses'

Friday, 12 May 2017

Wonderful life (re-recording) - Black

In 1988 Black re-recorded his 1987 hit 'Wonderful life' for the American market. The new version was included in a version of his second album 'Comedy' that was compiled for the USA. It included this version of 'Wonderful life' and 'Sweetest smile', and a selection of tracks from 'Comedy' as it was released in Europe.

I didn't know that a single of this re-recorded version existed, until I started scouring websites like Discogs.com some time ago. And even then I didn't feel the urgency to buy the single. But the opportunity came up recently when I bought a stack of singles from a German dealer, and I just couldn't resist. As far as I know, this single is the only one with the re-recorded version, although CD-singles exist. But, of course, I do own those.

My collection: 7" single no. 5826
Found: Recordsale.de, received May 11, 2017
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Wonderful life (re-recording)' / 'I can laugh about it now'

Listen to the song

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Hey presto - Black

I first got to know the UK band Black in 1984, when the music video for 'Hey presto' appeared on television. I'm not sure whether it was this video (which I never saw again since 1984!) or repeated radio play which hooked me, but I was most certainly hooked. I never got to buy the single, because it was only released in the UK - or so I thought until recently.

Back in 1992, I met a fellow fan who owned a rare copy of 'Hey presto', made in the UK, which didn't contain the 'regular' studio version, but rather a demo version. It couldn't be distinguished from other UK pressings, so this was a really strange appearance. A year later, when we spoke to Colin Vearncombe, he explained that a run of copies was made for export to Australia, and WEA retrieved the demo version from the archives by mistake. I never found a copy of this rare run of pressings myself.

This month, after the tragic passing of Colin Vearncombe, I started looking for holes in my collection. It's one way to cope with the loss, I guess. I noticed that there was a German pressing of 'Hey presto', and there was one copy for sale. I decided to order it. The single arrived in my mailbox earlier today. Upon playing this disc, I discovered that this version, too, contained the demo versions of the A and B-side tracks. And just like on the UK pressings, there is no indication that this disc contains the demo versions instead of the regular studio versions. But you can safely assume that all German pressings are the same, since 'Hey presto' probably only had one run of pressings in Germany. Such a pleasant surprise!

My collection: 7" single no. 5827
Found: Discogs.com, received February 17, 2016
Cost: $5
Tracks: 'Hey presto [demo version]' / 'Stephen [demo version]]

Listen to the song

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Everything's coming up roses - Black

The death of Colin Vearncombe, singer and sole member of the band Black, on January 26 this year, was a big blow. I have collected all of his music and saw the man live more times than my memory has allowed me to remember. The process of mourning continues for a long time I guess, but in the mean time I coped with the acquisition of a few Black items that I didn't own until now. (Which, as you can see on this page, shouldn't be too much, especially when you consider I never got round to posting my 12" singles.)

The most interesting item so far has to be this promotional 7" from the USA, with a remix version of 'Everything's coming up roses' on both sides. I already had the promotional cd-single from over there for 15 years, but as followers of this blog know: if it's released on vinyl, I gotta have it.

My collection: 7" single no. 5825
Found: Discogs.com, received February 9, 2016
Cost: $2
Tracks: 'Everything's coming up roses (remix)' / 'Everything's coming up roses (remix)'

Listen to the song

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sweetest smile - Black

Black's 'Sweetest Smile' was originally released in 1987 as the second single from his most successful album 'Wonderful life', just before the title track became a worldwide hit and an Eighties classic. Slightly more beautiful and sophisticated, the song never became as famous as 'Wonderful life' but it is worth a spin or two if you like good music.

During last month's Record Store Day, a special 10" record was sold featuring a 2011 re-recording of the track, which sound a lot like the original version but unlike its 1987 counterpart the rights belong to Colin Vearncombe himself and not to the Universal record company mammoth. What really makes this disc special is the inclusion of three other tracks from his post-2000 output. Listen to this tracks and you'll probably want to have this disc - or the cd's which these tracks were taken from - yourself. Head on over to www.colinvearncombe.com for more information.

I wasn't able to get this record on Record Store Day, but fortunately this disc was sold online after the day, so you can imagine I am a happy bunny now.

My collection: 10" single [unnumbered]
Cost: 9 pounds
Found: Vinyl180, UK, received May 20, 2014
Tracks: 'Sweetest smile [2011 re-recording]', 'Where the river bends' / 'In a heartbeat', 'Grievous angel'

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Swingtime - Black

After two years of absence from the music scene, Black returned in 1993, free from his contract with A&M records and owner of a new self-owned company called Nero Schwarz ltd. His comeback album was called 'Are we having fun yet?', taking a stab at his moody, melancholy image. The album was full of quirky sounds and well written pop songs, but unfortunately this music was not picked up by the general public. A concert in Rotterdam at the time was visited by only 60 people. I was one of them, and I also bought all of the cd-singles released from that album.

Little did I know that in Spain a 7" single was released as well. I found out about this some eight years after the fact, when I started corresponding with other Black fans. And I tried for the last decade to find this single. Especially since it contains an otherwise unreleased B-side track. It was on my 'want list' on Discogs.com for two years. And then, suddenly, last Monday morning I found an e-mail from Discogs saying that an item was for sale on my wantlist. I ordered it within minutes. Only five days later, I held a copy of that great sought after item in my hands. Bliss.

My collection: 7" single no. 5295
Found: Discogs.com, received August 10, 2012
Cost: 8 euro
Tracks: 'Swingtime' / 'Quiet side of the road'

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sweetest smile - Black

Black's 'Sweetest smile' was a big comeback for a band that had been out of my sight for three years in the summer of 1987. After a holiday in London, where I bought the 7" single, I requested the 12" single for my birthday and got it.

A remark from my grandfather always stuck with me. When he looked at the sleeve of this disc, he said: 'Now at least that's a goodlooking chap'. I wanted to say, of course, his music was good too, but such a remark would have been wasted on him: he never liked any pop music at all. So this was probably the highest form of praise I would get from him for my record collection. But of course, the four tracks on this disc are sure to please you.

My collection: 12" single no. 56
Found: Den Haag (Birthday present)
Cost: nothing
Tracks: 'Sweetest smile', 'Sixteens' / 'Leave yourself alone', 'Hardly star-crossed lovers'

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Here it comes again - Black

'Here it comes again' was the second single from Black's third album, released in 1991. I never bought the 12" single because at the time the cd-single was becoming the dominating format and I didn't particularly want to spend money buying the same music twice. Of course, recently I realised that it's silly to have a complete Black collection bar a handful of 12" singles.

This disc features an alternative version of Black's biggest hit 'Wonderful life' plus two B-side tracks: a new song called 'Every waking hour' plus 'Shades', a cover of the Iggy Pop track, written by Iggy Pop and David Bowie. With Black's beautiful voice, I reckon it's better than the original...

My collection: 12" single no. 590
Found: Discogs.com, received October 8, 2011
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Here it comes again', 'Every waking hour' / 'Shades', 'Wonderful life (Chritsmas '88 recording)'

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Feel like change - Black

Apparently, Black's single 'Feel like change' became quite big in South Africa. At the time, the country was slowly getting rid of its Apartheid regime, and so a song called 'Feel like change' sung by a white guy called Black would have been quite apt.

This 12" single doesn't feature any remix, but instead it offers four tracks: the title track, a new track called 'Nice', a cover of a Michael McDonald track and of course the wellknown hit 'Wonderful life'.

My collection: 12" single no. 589
Found: Discogs.com, received October 8, 2011
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Feel like change', 'Nice' / 'I can let go now', 'Wonderful life'

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hey Presto - Black

Back in 1984, music videos were an integral part of my daily routine. Watching television for a few hours a day just to catch my favourite videos (and songs) was a bit crazy in retrospect, but it did huge favours for developing my own taste in music.

One of the videos I saw back then was Black's 'Hey Presto'. It's one of very few videos I never saw again - and I'm still searching for it now. I bought the 7" single years later and I only found the 12" single now. It was never a hit for Black, although he would be more successful in 1987 with his eternal classic 'Wonderful life'. To hear what the man is up to these days read my entry on Any colour you like.

My collection: 12" single no. 587
Found: Discogs.com, received October 5, 2011
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Hey Presto' / 'Stephen', 'Liquid dream'

Monday, 5 September 2011

Any colour you like - Black

Although this blog is dedicated to music on vinyl (the name says it all) I would like to make an exception and make you an offer you can't refuse. There's a lot of music on here you can listen to for free, but this time I'm asking for $1. That's not a lot, is it?

Black has been making beautiful music for 30 years now. In the Eighties he was very successful with the song 'Wonderful life' and subsequent releases. His vinyl output during that time has been featured on this blog (see it here). After that, things became less commercially successful - although the music has always been beautiful. You can hear it for yourself on the new compilation 'Any colour you like', which was released today. You can download it here and if you use the discount code 'mrg4song' it will cost you just £0.75 - 10% of the original price! If you like this blog you MUST download this compilation. If only to do me - and yourself - a favour.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Wonderful life - Black

Black will always be remembered for that one song, 'Wonderful life'. Through the years it has been covered by Chinese techno bands, German rock bands and Dutch female singers, it has been a popular song during funerals and it has even been used on advertisements for cereals and life insurances.

It was an English life insurance ad that prompted Polygram to re-release 'Wonderful life' in 1994. The single reached number 42 in the UK singles chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 2439
Found: August 22, 1995
Cost: 2 pounds
Tracks: 'Wonderful life' / 'Sweetest smile'

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Fly up to the moon - Black and Sam Brown

In 1991, Black recorded a duet with another A&M Records artist, Sam Brown. The track 'Fly up to the moon' was included on Black's 1991 self-titled album and was released as the third and last single from the album. The lyric includes a quote from the T.S. Eliot poem 'The hollow men': 'This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper'. Except Sam Brown actually sings '...but with a whimpy'.

The single also included two bonus tracks on the B-side. 'You lift me up' was re-recorded years later by Colin Vearncombe on his 2000 album 'Water on snow'.

My collection: 7" single no. 1694
Found: London, 1991
Cost: 2 pounds
Tracks: 'Fly up to the moon' / 'You lift me up', What you are'

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Here it comes again - Black

The second single from Black's 1991 self-titled album was the beautiful 'Here it comes again'. It features backing vocals from Colin Vearncombe's wife Camilla Griehsel, who used to be a singer in the Norwegian band One 2 Many.

It was the last single by Black to reach the UK singles chart, peaking at number 70 in the summer of 1991.

My collection: 7" single no. 1693
Found: London, 1991
Cost: 2 pounds
Tracks: 'Here it comes again' / 'Every waking hour'

Monday, 19 April 2010

Feel like change - Black

Colin Vearncombe, who on his own made up the band Black, was inspired to write 'Feel like change' by the events taking place in South Africa: the freeing of Nelson Mandela and the impending dismantling of the Apartheid regime.

The track was released as the first single from Black's third album, 'Black' (1991). Produced by Robin Millar, both the single and the album featured an altogether smoother sound. Coupled with Vearncombe's excellent vocals, this was a very enjoyable listening experience. 'Feel like change' reached number 56 in the UK singles chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 1439
Found: Melody Maker, Den Haag, May 18, 1991
Cost: 6,5 guilders
Tracks: 'Feel like change' / 'Nice'

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Now you're gone - Black

The third and last single from Black's 1988 album 'Comedy' was the upbeat 'Now you're gone'. At least, the music sounded quite upbeat, the lyric was less optimistic. Still, it was a change from the mostly minor key tracks Black had released up until then. Not that it met with a lot of enthusiasm: the single only reached number 66 in the UK singles chart.

The B-side, a so-called 'Mardi Gras version' of 'Now you're gone', is a nice extra, and quite a surprising version of the song.

My collection: 7" single no. 724
Found: Melody Maker, Den Haag, January 28, 1989
Cost: 6,5 guilders
Tracks: 'Now you're gone' / 'Now you're gone (Mardi Gras version)'

On the chart tip EP - Various artists

The British music magazine Record Mirror released an EP with four tracks from various artists from time to time. This, apparently, was the first, released in 1989. It brings together two album tracks from INXS and Black plus an exclusive track from Transvision Vamp and an exclusive remix from Neneh Cherry.

I bought the EP mainly for 'You don't always do what's best for you', a track from Black's then-current album 'Comedy'. Although this is the album version, it fades away 30 seconds earlier and so this is an exclusive edit of the track.

My collection: 7" single no. 2032
Found: Sounds Familiar, London, October 19, 1993
Cost: 60p
Tracks: 'Johnson's Aeroplane' (INXS), 'Child of the age' (Transvision Vamp) / 'Buffalo stance (The There's Nothing Wrong Mix (Sukka Mix II))', 'You don't always do what's best for you' (Black)

Friday, 16 April 2010

I can laugh about it now - Black

Spain has always been friendly towards Black, ever since he had his biggest hit 'Wonderful life'. By the time Black's second album 'Comedy' was released in 1988, Spain even had an exclusive single release: the album track 'I can laugh about it now' was released as a single in Spain only. The B-side was a live version of 'All we need is the money', recorded - and released - in Japan in 1987.

I have no chart information about this single, all I know is that another exclusive Black single was released in 1993, the elusive 'Swingtime'. If you can sell that one to me, please contact me...

My collection: 7" single no. 3313
Found: Spanish website, received March 14, 2001
Cost: ?
Tracks: 'I can laugh about it now' / 'All we need is the money (live)'

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

You're a big girl now - Black

'You're a big girl now' was released as the second single from Black's 1988 album 'Comedy'. This limited edition version features a gatefold sleeve and a booklet with photographs and the song lyric in innovative typography.

The single did not reach the chart in any territory, a first sign that the commercial success of Black might not last forever - although the album was still a millionseller.

My collection: 7" single no. 689
Found: Record Exchange, October 1989
Cost: 1 pound
Tracks: 'You're a big girl now' / 'Enough is enough'

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The big one - Black

Black faced the 'difficult second album' syndrome in 1988. After a very successful 1987, it was time to come up with a second album that would match the success of his debut 'Wonderful life'. 'Comedy' certainly met all the artistic demands, but commercially it was less fortunate.

The first single from the album was 'The big one', in comparison the weakest track from the album. As such it may not have been the best choice. The single was released in a limited edition poster sleeve in the UK, but this didn't help much: it only reached number 54 in the UK singles chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 678
Found: Disco Market, Den Haag, 1988
Cost: 3,5 guilders
Tracks: 'The big one' / 'You are the one'

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