Music Monday – Pop Art

No Music Monday last week. First I was busy and then I wasn’t feeling so good, so nothing much produced at all… Typical half-term really!

So, let’s crack on with this weeks musical addition.

‘Pop Art’ was released in 1988, featuring a distinctive blend of punk rock and pop influences that made Transvision Vamp a little different to what was currently around. I remember hearing ‘I Want Your Love’ for the first time on the radio and from that moment on, I was hooked.

‘Revolution Baby’ was the first single released but failed to make the top 50, and ‘Tell That Girl To Shut Up’ the second release, just crawled into the number 45 spot. It was ‘I Want Your Love’ that got them noticed.

‘Revolution Baby’ was then re-issued and peaked at 30, whilst ‘Sister Moon’ somehow only managed 41, but 4 hits from their first album was a good start.

Their music is guitar driven with a melodious keyboard accompaniment, both of which are charged with a pounding drum rhythm, especially tracks like ‘Trash City’ and ‘Psychosonic Cindy’. But it’s Wendy James’s vocals that really draw the attention. One moment sultry and rebellious, the next soft and husky. From Playful and flirtatious to fierce and defiant, James’s voice is captivating and she’s never really received the credit she deserves as a singer.

I listened to the album the other week, whilst painting, and happily sang along to every song – there’s not many albums I do that to, not every song. ‘Trash City’ is a perfect opener – they opened with that when I saw them live on their Velveteen tour – with its ‘computer voice’ intro and then the banging drums…

The rules are… there are no rules…

Success is credibility… credibility is success…

…And then James’s vocals kick in and your off on a ride of that punk/rock/pop mix they did so well.

‘I Want Your Love’ was, as I already said, the song that first attracted me to the Vamp. It’s a great chart song, short, lively, and easy to sing along to, it’s easy to see why it was a hit.

‘Sister Moon’ brings something a little different to the mix, as they slow the tempo slightly and hit you with a lovely melodious chorus, again, something for everyone to join in with…

And Groove on Sister, groove on Sister Moon

Groove on, my baby, groove on,

groove on Sister Moon

The next song, ‘Psychosonic Cindy,’ points to some of the band members roots, being that of Punk Rock, and gets the audience of a live gig jumping around in a frenzy.

Right in the middle of the album we get ‘Revolution Baby’ which, overall, is probably the best composition on the album. Its lyrics are meaningful and it builds to a climax… ‘Cos we’re all on the same side when the mushroom hits the sky’. This was the eighties, remember, though it could equally be applied to the world of today.

‘Tell That Girl To Shut Up’ is the only song not attributed to the band. Written by Holly Vincent in the seventies, it’s a brilliant live song, one that gets the whole crowd chanting along and it certainly has me at full volume when I’m painting and there’s nobody around to hear. Lyrically simple, it suits the band down to the ground and they really do it justice.

My least favourite on the album, ‘Wild Star,’ still has me singing but not so loudly. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about this song but it doesn’t have the ‘fizz’ of the rest of the album. It can’t be just that, though, because ‘Hanging Out With Halo Jones’ doesn’t exactly whip along either but it is a beautiful song. It flows so much better than ‘Wild Star’ and really shows what James is capable of.

As we get to the climax of the album things start to take a turn. Firstly, there’s ‘Andy Warhol’s Dead.’ This is by far the simplest lyrically, it’s repetitive too, but it brings a smile to my face as the humour comes out. And then it’s ‘Sex Kick,’ a great way to close an album as James’s voice hits sexual overload and leaves you begging for more. It compliments the opener, both being longer, 5-minute songs, and more aggressive vocally and lyrically.

Transivison Vamp are a big favourite of mine and along with their three studio albums, which I have on CD, I have an unofficial Oxford Polytechnic Radio Broadcast from 1988 on Vinyl LP as well as a whole host of other vinyl, 7in, 12in, promos, picture discs, they’re a band that’s easily collectable.

The follow up album, ‘Velveteen,’ is an equally enjoyable album, but I need to revisit ‘Little Magnets versus the Bubble of Babble’ to remember what it’s like, because something put me off it and I can’t remember what. The group split at that point and Wendy James went solo – she’s still producing albums now. I have some and again, I need to revisit them.

Overall, if you like this kind of music then you’ll find ‘Pop Art’ a very solid album. Lots of highs and very few lows, it will get you singing along and maybe even bopping in your seat – it’s a feel good album. It’s musically complex for this style, constantly mixing things up, and with James at the mic with her sultry tones, what’s not to like!

Pop Art

Released 1988

Track Listing

  1. Trash City
  2. I Want Your Love
  3. Sister Moon
  4. Psychosonic Cindy
  5. Revolution Baby
  6. Tell That Girl To Shut Up
  7. Wild Star
  8. Hanging Out With Halo Jones
  9. Andy Warhol’s Dead
  10. Sex Kick

My Version: CD – MCA Records label – DMCF 3421 – 1988. On Discogs it has a low of £1.19, a median of £3.00, and a high of £8.40.

14 thoughts on “Music Monday – Pop Art

  1. A band I remember well, and I want your love was the song that brought them to my attention as well. Never went to an official concert, but they did turn up at a Night Club I used to go to, and poor old Wendy had a dramatic wardrobe malfunction, which got a lot of attention from the males in attendance !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol! Yeah, she’s not adverse to revealing herself, you should see some of her album covers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Transvision Vamp? Class! 🙂 We are on the same page at last! I’m only familiar with “I Want Your Love” and “Revolution Baby” but I have them on my MP3 player and frequently play them (too) loud!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew I’d get there eventually😁
      You should look up the album, I think you’d like it, and Velveteen offers more of the same too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of this band and I like to think I’m pretty knowledgeable with music. They definitely are on the pop-side of punk but have a great look and sound. Thanks for taking time to write this up and share them with us, Justin!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, definitely more pop than punk. A few f the band members were previously in Punk bands and their influence shows, especially in the lyrical content.
      They never cracked America and split up before their third album was fully released world-wide.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. While there is a great track record of bands coming from the UK to the states over the years, I think it isn’t an easy path to go down. Especially in more recent times. I don’t know why that is as I enjoy quite a lot of British music (mostly electronic, mind you).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It used to be difficult for UK band to break into the US market, but things got easier from the early 90s on I would say.
        Electronic, such as?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s good. I like a few newer British bands like Pale Waves so I’m glad to see it becoming easier. Drum and bass mostly, bruv! I like fast paced music generally so I find it pretty appealing.


  4. Like Kuribo, hadn’t heard of the band either. Maybe didn’t make it as big overseas? The singer sounds a bit like Joan Jett in parts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, they weren’t a big band by any means.
      I can see what you’re saying regarding Joan Jett – I have some of her and her bands albums too – I prefer Wendy James though, for me she has a greater versatility in her voice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea, I get the feeling Wendy has a wider range from the few songs I sampled. She’s able to pull off that raspy sound that Jett has, but I also noticed she has more than that.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. some real bangers there for sure; love ’em

    Liked by 1 person

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