Audio

[004] Hermine - 'Too Many Men In My Life'

Now considered something of a New Wave diva, Hermine Demoriane is a singer, writer, actress, comedian and tightrope walker. Her unique brand of singing, which, dare I say, is something of an acquired taste, is best encapsulated on her somewhat lost debut mini-album from 1982, 'The World On My Plates'. A six track collection of intriguing vaudeville torch songs, the LP owes much of it’s cult reputation to the fabulous, iconic cover photo, which shows Hermine loading 7” records into a dishwasher, as you do, dolled up in her best polka-dot frock. I am so much in love with this sleeve image that I had it blown up and printed onto canvas, and it now proudly hangs in my kitchen. Born in Paris, in 1942, Hermine moved to London in 1964, where she met and married a poet, had a daughter and published a journal of her pregnancy, ‘Lifestar’, in 1969. She also contributed to International Times and The London Magazine before taking up tightrope walking, which would become her obsession for the next five years, and the subject of her next book, 'The Tightrope Walker'. She made an appearance in Derek Jarman's proto-punk flick, 'Jubilee', in 1977, in which she played the mute au pair Chaos. She also sings a version of the Edith Piaf classic, 'Je Ne Regrette Rien' on the film’s soundtrack. Hermine is also captured performing live around this period in Andrew Logan's camp documentary film, 'The Alternative Miss World' in 1978, along side Little Nell and Divine. She returned to writing in the late ’70s, producing three plays between 1978-80, bringing her strange charms to the attention of David Cunningham, A.K.A The Flying Lizards. With a taste for deadpan female vocalists, Cunningham worked with Hermine on a one-off single, a wonky cover of 'Torture', originally made famous by The Everly Brothers in 1964. Virgin Records refused to release the record, however and instead, Hermine independently pressed 2,000 copies on her own Salomé Disc imprint, released in August 1980 and distributed by Rough Trade and Fresh. She was soon picking up favourable column inches in the music press, usually garnering comparisons with Nico, Françoise Hardy or Marlene Dietrich. After ‘Torture’ sold out, Hermine issued a 4 track EP on Human Records, which appeared in March 1981. Meanwhile, she had begun performing during the intervals at The Comic Strip, the infamous alternative comedy club in Soho, and home to future British comedic talents Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Keith Allen, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Another single appeared in July 1981, 'Valley Of The Dolls', but getting a subsequent album deal wasn’t easy, until the Brussels-based independent label, Crammed Discs agreed to release a mini-album in 1982. Comprising of minimalistic versions of 'Blue Angel' (Roy Orbison), 'Too Many Men In My Life' (Ruth Wallis), ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ (Henderson & Brown) and ‘I Won’t Make It Without You’ (Nick Lowe), together with two originals, ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Waiting’, the release appeared in April. Proving quite popular with both music press and the audiences at her live dates in support of the release, the next Hermine record would not appear until 1984. Plans to release a follow-up once more via Crammed fell through, which meant delays while a new deal was sought. The ten track 'Lonely At The Top' was eventually released through a reactivated Salomé Disc when none of the 40 labels approached were interested, and distributed again by Rough Trade. The album sold out of it’s pressing of 2,500 copies, but was destined to be the last Hermine record for some time. Despite the absence of any new records, television viewers will have heard Hermine Demoriane singing more recently. She provided the distinctive femme fatale Nico-esque vocals for a Velvet Underground pastiche in a Andy Warhol sketch in series three of 'French & Saunders' in 1990. She also makes an appearance in 'Absolutely Fabulous', singing a French version of the theme tune at the end of the episode 'Paris', in 2001. In the mid-1990s Hermine returned to France, having inherited her family home, which she has since developed into an arts centre. All of Hermine's recordings, including some unreleased tracks, were reissued on CD by the LTM label in 2006 and a new album, 'Who'll Come Walking', appeared on Salomé Disc in 2008.

Audio

[003] Nöel - 'Dancing Is Dangerous'

Now this is just sublime. Crank the dance-o-meter up to, yes, 11 and let’s all D-I-S-C-O! Los Angeles based model-turned-singer Noël was unfortunate enough to escape any kind of stardom with her late seventies clutch of singles, or her debut mini-album, ‘Is There More To Life Than Dancing?’, despite it all being crafted by the hands of those crazy Maël brothers, better known to you and I as Sparks. Issued by Virgin Records, it has everything you’d expect from a Sparks produced set, and none of Noël's tracks would sound entirely out of place on their own Giorgio Moroder-produced 'No. 1 Song In Heaven' album, also from 1979. For your enjoyment, I’ve posted the nine minute long, health warning set to music that is 'Dancing Is Dangerous', which was also issued as a single in the same year. Another highlight from the long player is the sax-erific 'The Night They Invented Love', which hints at future New Wave adventures beyond the discotheque. Here in the UK, the album was only issued as a segued, picture disc LP, at the cost of any kind of decent sound quality, and there’s no digital remastering or CD re-issue to speak of, so we’re stuck with it for now. Sometimes, however, it’s worth putting up with inferior sound for the sheer pleasure of the music. In February 2011, Harmless Records included this track on their 'Disco Discharge - Cruising The Beats' 2CD, providing Noël with her compact disc debut, albeit just the one track. There was another full-length release from Noël, a second album back in 1982 entitled, 'Peer Pressure', credited to Noël And The Red Wedge but devoid of any credited Maël involvement. Hopefully, we’ll visit that together in the not too distant future… Trivia! It has long been rumoured that Noël was actually Russell Maël in drag, using tape varispeed to transform his voice… is that an Adam’s apple we spy in the photos on the LP sleeve?

Audio

[002] Genevieve Waite - 'Girls'

A one-line review of Genevieve Waite's 1974 album, ‘Romance Is On The Rise’ in Mojo Magazine reeled me in and I was on a mission to find it and own it and be it’s biggest fan. I was successful in every aspect of this mission, and not nearly enough people know about this great slice of pop music. Genevieve Waite was the second wife of John Philips, a Papa (as in, The Mamas And The). I’m not a huge fan of theirs, but this sole release from his missus is simply divine. Think Olive Oyl meets Betty Boop with a dash of Little Nell. It’s kitsch, camp and comes in a sleeve so deliciously 1940s-pin-up, it’s worth the admission fee alone. The track I’ve plumped for tells of the folly of girlhood and just how mischievous and unpleasant ladies can be. Aint that the truth? A long lost vinyl obscurity for too long, 'Romance Is On The Rise' was re-issued on CD by Chrome Dreams in August 2004, with 4 bonus tracks. Please, buy yourself a copy of this album!

Audio

[001]  Sarah Brightman - 'Madame Hyde'

This is a song of rare beauty… it has the most absurd lyrics about some crazy cross-dressing doctor who works for the NHS by day and picks up men in sleazy bars by night, all set to a camp, disco-tastic musical backdrop. It’s by Sarah Brightman (back when she was “good”, ie. not doing the opera) and can be located on the soundtrack to an utterly trashy TV movie from 1979, which is based on a Jackie Collins novel, 'The World Is Full Of Married Men'. The film turns up on ITV1 in the late/early hours of the morning occasionally, so keep ‘em peeled. It’s very of it’s time, so you’ve been warned. The double gatefold LP is best sourced in charity shops or jumble sales and has a fabulous sleeve, which just can’t be done justice in the image posted here. It was actually quite difficult to find an image of the artwork in a decent quality, you wouldn’t believe how tight those Sarah Brightman fan sites are with their images! Seeesh! The audio here is from a vinyl source, as 'Madame Hyde' has never ever been issued on CD, which is a bit of a pisser frankly. Check out Sarah's other disco period releases, before she transformed into an opera diva, such as the Hot Gossip collaboration, 'I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper' and 'Love In A U.F.O.'.