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Monday, 16 April 2018

Bram Tchaikovsky - Strange Men Changed Men : The Complete Recordings 1978 - 1981 (3CD)

First up, I've always been a massive fan of The Motors, right from seeing them on The Old Grey Whistle Test doing Dancing The Night Away. I even eventually became a fan of the band's finale, Tenement Steps.

When Anything Should Happen started, a decade or so ago, it became apparent that New Wave fans were far more plentiful than I had imagined. The Blog always had a far larger following Stateside and the Power Pop fans from those shores adored Bram Tchaikovsky, even more so than The Motors. Girl Of My Dreams was a real anthem to them.

The Motors had three great songwriters, so it was always a little top heavy in the writing process. Although it was no surprise that Bram went out on his own, it was heaven that Bram headed a Power Pop trio, I saw them in Manchester in 1978 with Fast Cars as support. They were suitably and splendidly noisy.

The three Bram Tchaikovsky albums have been fetching big money for quite some time and there have been plenty of voices wanting a proper CD release. Cherry Red have done just that, following on from the superb Yachts collection.

This three disc set contains each album in individual disc wallets with the original artwork. There is also a bumper 16 Bonus Tracks which round up Singles and B Sides from the time. The liner notes are quite exhaustive and will introduce freshers to the delights of these fondly remembered recordings. Indeed, all Power Pop fans should invest in the set.

The gem here is the debut album, Strange Man, Changed Man. It's an absolute New Wave Classic, containing at least half a dozen songs that could have been singles. The title track remains one of my favourite New Wave Songs ever and it was even heavier live.

Add to that Lonely Dancer, Lady From The USA, Sarah Smiles and Robber and you have wall to wall quality. Plus there's Girl Of My Dreams, perhaps the only UK Top 40 hit about a Blow Up Doll.  Julian Cope has said that it's a song that defines the late 70's.

It was always going to be hard following this outstanding opening album. The follow up was sophomore, although a little lighter. The title track and the magnificent, Can't Give You Reasons are worth the admission alone. The Bonus Live Versions of Whiskey And Wine and Robber show how powerful the band were.

Nick Garvey was back in the Producer's Chair for the finale, Funland. Major label money seemed to be spent on Over Production, something that wasn't necessarily needed, the rawness was part of the appeal.

Funland also seems to run out of steam a little. Soul Survivor, a great Motors' B Side, sounds as ace as ever and Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache is an absolutely storming song. Having said that, Funland still knocks the spots of most around at the time.

Cherry Red have done a fine job here. The 3 disc set is retailing for £17.99, a bargain considering how long we've waited for the. The label is also doing a fine job with UK New Wave reissues at present. I have a long list of things I'd love to see released by them. These albums headed that list.

You can buy the album here.


  1. Many times I've had fond memories of an old LP and then gotten the CD only to come to the realization of "I really liked THAT???" (notable example: Jethro Tull's Stormwatch; listening years later, I can take only the instrumentals from this stinker).

    Rarely have I been more impressed rather than less after a couple of decades, but that's what happened with this one. Now, I've only gotten through the first of the three discs, but Strange Man, Changed Man is even better than I remembered, and for a pleasant change, the bonus tracks actually add to my enjoyment, particularly the single version of Sarah Smiles. I'm really savoring this set, going to give disc 1 a few more listens before switching over to The Russians Are Coming (or, as my US vinyl is titled, Pressure), saving Funland, which was actually my favorite of the three, for last. Definitely worth it; I had been looking periodically for each of these albums on CD for years, and to get the complete set in one package that is priced less than I'm sure the three would cost individually, and with bonus tracks that are actual bonuses, is like getting an early Christmas present!

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    It has been a long wait for them to become available on CD at a reasonable price. Quite a few from the time are finally getting their releases. It's been great to see Yachts and The Motors too.