An Luu – Pourquoi tu me fous plus des coups ?

An Luu appeared in films throughout the 1980s, primarily in France, before releasing this track as a single in 1988 for the dance label Carrere. Her only previous release was the single Lolita Hiroshima in 1983, which she recorded shortly after appearing in the the 1981 French thriller Diva. The film centers around an opera singer who is world renown for both her tremendous voice and refusal to appear on any recordings. A thief secretly records a performance and delivers it to an opera-loving mailman, who quickly becomes embroiled in a mob fight. I confess I hadn’t heard of the movie before hearing this song, but since it’s on Amazon streaming for a couple bucks I might have to check it out. This track was produced by the French producer Phillipe Chany, who was active in the French new wave scene throughout the 1980s on his own projects, including this low-key gem. This single appears to be pretty cheap on Discogs at least for now. Once it gets that famous Orion’s Bastard bump though you’re bound to see the price go through the roof ;).

Virna Lindt – Underwater Boy

Virna Lindt recorded her first single while working for “in an indirect way, the secret services of at least two nations,” according to her bio at LTM Recordings. That single was Attention Stockholm, which became an indie hit in Europe and Japan upon its release in 1981. This was the first record put out The Compact Organization and, lucky for us, it wasn’t the last. Underwater Boy comes off Lindt’s debut album Shiver from 1984, which tells a story of espionage and treachery that wasn’t at all informed by her biography. One more record, Play/Record, would follow before Lindt (presumably) returned to her humdrum life as occasional spy and translator for various media outlets.
Talk about selling out! Both of her records have since been reissued by LTM, which was founded in England in the early 1980s and, after a brief hiatus, resurfaced in 1997 and began reissuing many New Wave records as well as avant garde audio works by William S. Burroughs and Marcel Duchamp. Check out their full catalog here.

Mike Mandel – Elephant and Castle

I came upon this release by way of Gil Scott-Heron’s studio debut Pieces of a Man, which features guitarist Burt Jones backing Scott-Heron and the solo on Elephant and Castle. In addition to solo work, Mike Mandel was a keyboardist for the jazz fusion-type groups The Players Association and The Eleventh Hour. Elephant and Castle appears on a Sky Music from 1978 and features many of the same artists from both groups. Admittedly this sort of music is out of my wheelhouse and if you find yourself getting bored I just challenge you to listen until at least the 3 minute mark and if you’re not bobbing your head/tapping your feet/doing some other form of white guy dancing, I’ll owe you something. Not money, of course, but some sort of non-exchangeable favor maybe. If it happens, just talk to my team of high-priced lawyers and we can work something out.

Chris Stamey & the dBs – (I Thought You) Wanted to Know

This track comes off a single released in 1978. Chris Stamey and the dBs were one of the groups that sprouted out of the fertile musical soil of New York in the late 1970s, with groups like Television, The Feelies, and post-Big Star Alex Chilton coalescing around Ork Records. In addition to being released as a single, this track also appears on a Numero Group compilation focused on Ork Records output. It was penned by Televsion member Richard Lloyd, coming just after the release of Television’s best known album Marquee Moon. I was torn between choosing this song and a collaboration between Stamey and Alex Chilton called “The Summer Sun” which came out in 1977 as well. Chris Stamey has continued releasing solo work and working with the dBs from the late 1970s to the present, with his most recent release Euphoria coming in 2015 and a release under the name The dBs, Falling Off the Sky, coming just a few years earlier. Lloyd released an album of Jimi Hendrix covers a few years ago called The Jamie Neverts Story, which appears to be a reference to a mutual friend Lloyd shared with Hendrix early in Lloyd’s life, but as there is no citation on Wikipedia it doesn’t meet the strict standards and practices here at Orion’s Bastard. But you don’t have to figure that out to enjoy this power pop hidden gem, so try not to stress about it.

Pas De Deux – Cardiocleptomanie

Those who have followed the annual Eurovision song contest for a long time might remember Pas De Deux from their 1983 entry representing Belgium entitled Rendez-vous. You can watch their performance at the contest here, which the announcer introduces by saying

I’ve described this as sort of crypto-punk. I suppose Belgium deserves some credit for trying something new.

That glowing introduction was delivered with classic British passive-aggressive disdain, but given how fresh Cardiocleptomanie sounds today I think this Belgian group got the last laugh. The group comprised Dett Peyskens (who is currently part of the group Red Zebra), Hilde Van Roy, and Walter Verdin. Cardiocleptomanie comes off the group’s only full-length release Axe Ends which also came out in 1983. The synths probably give this one away as being early-80s, but the combination of driving rhythms and almost disinterested vocals are irresistible. Perfect for anybody who has ever harbored a little crush on the girl from the cover of Duran Duran’s Rio.