The liners to Killed By Death #5 say "The obscurist 45 on Volume 5 is the Cowboys. All we can tell you is it's from 1980 and mentions Ohio on the sleeve." It's now pretty well known that vocalist Billy Lee Buckeye was actually Mark Eitzel, who reverted to using his real name for his second record a year later with the Naked Skinnies (an excellent single, but not punk rock) and went on to later fame with American Music Club and a solo career. It seems he's disowned this first record, as a reliable source told me Eitzel tossed all his copies of it in a dumpster a few years after its release. Perhaps that lack of stock copies is what makes it so "obscurist". "Teenage Life", the only punk song Eitzel ever recorded, is the KBD-comped track, and is the B-side to Supermarket, a slow-burn ska song which works mostly thanks to just enough snottiness in the vocals.
Detroit power-pop pioneer Nikki Corvette dips her toe into the comeback waters, and comes out with a winner.
Feisty early-'80s power-popper Nikki Corvette is back in action, having recorded two new tracks for the Rapid Pulse label. This is her first release since the Nikki and the Corvettes self-titled album from 1980.
Nikki and the Corvettes recorded some catchy power-pop tunes with their special brand of girl-group vocals. Their simple, upbeat songs touched on typical teenage fare: boys, making out, and cruising town. Their bad-girl attitude and roughed-up sound separated them from the Go-Go's and the Bangles -- groups that emerged a few years later and achieved mainstream success.
A cult favorite, Nikki Corvette's comeback has been well-received in Detroit, her hometown and currently the garage rock revivalist mecca. But as in the cases of everyone from Arthur Lee to Rocket from the Tombs to the Buzzcocks, the question arises as to whether the mature rocker still has that special kick of her heyday.
Judging by Nikki Corvette's "Love Me"/"What's on My Mind" single, the girl's still got it. She sounds just as spunky and youthful as she did over 20 years ago. Side A's "Love Me" features an extremely catchy chorus, with backup vocals by Miss Georgia Peach and Carol Cunnington. The trio makes the song sound like the Corvettes all over again. "What's on My Mind" also packs a punch, and is as seductive as the insert photo of Nikki kicking back in a dress shirt and heels. Complementing the retro music, the jacket cover is hot pink with classic Nikki Corvette photos.
Hopefully this single is just the beginning of Nikki Corvette's reentrance to the power-pop scene. If her live set is just as energetic as her studio work we've got plenty of sunny days ahead of us.
The Passage were a post-punk band from Manchester, UK who appeared on several record labels including Cherry Red Records, and their own label Night & Day, a subsidiary label to Virgin Records.
The band was formed as a quartet by songwriter and former Hallé Orchestra percussionist Dick Witts in 1978, but later became a trio. Witts produced the band's recordings and sang on most of their releases, the occasional lead vocal being taken by Tony Friel or Andy Wilson. Although they never truly broke into the mainstream, their most successful song was 'XOYO' which came 41st in John Peel's Festive Fifty for 1982, which was the top 50 songs of the year as voted by the listeners. The song was an experiment to see whether John Cage's method of aleatoric composition could be successfully applied to popular music composition. The band broke up in 1983.
Dick Witts is now a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London. Andy Wilson is a club and radio DJ based mainly in Ibiza. Joe Mckechnie is a producer/remixer/DJ based in Liverpool. He has released records on Acacia (Detroit) Ochre (UK), Blood (UK) and Aspro (Holland) amongst others. Recent remixes include Ladytron/ROC and Echo & The Bunnymen.
In 2003, the entire Passage back catalogue was reissued and remastered across 5 CDs by the LTM label.