By Warren Kurtz
Blixa Sounds has supplied us with copies of the complete Robin Lane & The Chartbusters collection called Many Years Ago. We speak with Robin Lane about this 3-CD anthology, also her work with Neil Young, Susanna Hoffs and an organization that she founded which helps women.
Win an autographed copy of this 3-CD anthology – see below for details.
GOLDMINE:Congratulations on the 3-CD package. It is wonderful and captures all your ‘80s work, but let’s go back for a moment, to the ‘60s and ‘70s. The first time we saw your name was on a Neil Young record label with the beautiful song “Round & Round” from the album that brought us “Cinnamon Girl.” What a great beginning, 50 years ago in 1969.
ROBIN LANE: Thank you. It was a very fun time in 1969. Then in the ‘70s, I was signed to the Private Stock label, but they folded before I could make an album. Then I was talking with Richard Perry’s Planet label, but it never went anywhere. At the time, that is how I lured the guys to be in the band, “Do you want to play with me on my album? I have a record deal.” They said, “Oh, yes, great!” Finally, Warner Brothers signed us.
GM:The song “Many Years Ago,” which was also the flip side of the Warner Brothers single “When Things Go Wrong,” is a very exciting, guitar driven song, with a pre-Go-Go’s style sound in 1980. I really love this flip side and I was happy to see that chosen as the title of this 3-CD anthology.
RL: Oh good. That is one of my favorite songs from our self-titled first album. Also, with “When Things Go Wrong,” there are two versions on the CD set. The version on the 2nd CD in the package is the original 1979 version that Pousette-Dart band used for their cover of it, which they called “Never Enough.” I prefer The Chartbusters’ 1980 version of “When Things Go Wrong” which kicks off the first album, the first CD and was the A side of the Warner Brothers single, which was among the first 25 videos that MTV played. We were between Styx and Split Enz, who we went on tour with and that was fun.
GM:Your Imitation Life album was released next, in 1981, and comprises the 2nd half of the new CD. “Say Goodbye” is a favorite of mine. “Rather Be Blind” is a great rocker. Another favorite is “Idiot” where you sing, “Take pity on me.” The finale, “For You,” has wonderful drama to it.
RL: Those are really good songs. Thank you. I also like “No Control.” The album and its songs could have done something had there been any backing and more interest from the record company at the time.
GM:With the new package, I think the 2nd CD is a real treat, with all the previously unreleased songs. “Lookin’ So Hard” is wonderful and “The Irish Song” is so melodic. “Holy Man” reminds me a little bit of ‘Til Tuesday and “Words of Love” reminds me of Aimee Mann’s solo work.
RL: Thank you. I like these too. Nobody has ever heard some of these. I think some came off of a cassette. Four songs were released for the Heart Connection EP but the other eight songs, of which you have highlighted half of them, were not released at the time, probably due to lack of money. This was after the Warner Brothers years, away from a major label in ’84.
GM:Near the end of the 2nd CD is a section called “Demos & Studio Rarities.” From those nine songs, “The Longest Thinnest Thread” is another favorite of mine.
RL: I also like “The Letter” from those sessions. “The Longest Thinnest Thread” is a song that Brett Milano, who wrote the liner notes, really wanted to include, as one of his favorite songs of mine and likewise “Little Bird” which ends CD2, after some previously unreleased songs, was from our 2003 Robin Lane and The Chartbusters CD, Piece of Mind.
GM:Speaking of “Little Bird,” please tell me about the Songbird Sings organization.
RL: It is a non-profit organization that I started so I could do workshops with people who have trauma and help to tell some of their stories in song, because we know that music is very healing. They write their own story or even part of their own story. Then I help the victim put those lyrics into a song format and make a CD, which is very healing. I started this in 2003 and the non-profit part came to be in 2010, so that we could get grant money, which is always hard, but this way anyone who does the workshops doesn’t have to pay. We have put through hundreds and hundreds of people in this program. I have worked with all sort of domestic violence and child abuse survivors, trafficked women and girls, women in prison, and veterans. I do those programs all the time. At the website you can read anecdotal accounts and how it has impacted women.
GM:That is wonderful. Speaking of working with women, your composition “Wishing on Telstar” has always been one of my favorite Susanna Hoffs’ songs from her When You’re a Boy solo album in 1991.
RL: The way that she did it is the way I arranged it when I was in Germany. Then her producer, David Kahne, just took that arrangement for Susanna’s first album outside of The Bangles. Thank you for liking that. It was fun being there. John Entwistle, from The Who, came in to play bass on the album’s final song, “Boys Keep Swinging,” which David Bowie wrote.
GM:Now let’s go back to the ‘80s for a final time. The 3rd CD in the new package is comprised of 22 live songs, including some fun covers like The Guess Who’s “Shakin’ All Over” and Del Shannon’s “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun).”
RL: The CD also ends with a cover of an old Willie Dixon blues song, “Violent Love,” which may not be a politically correct title these days, but I love the song.
GM:Will you be doing any shows?
RL: Yes. I will be at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California soon, as a trio with me, one Chartbuster, Leroy Radcliffe and Ronnie Barnett from The Muffs. People can check the Facebook site for more information. There will be a question and answer session and we’ll include songs, of course, from this new 3-CD set that Blixa Sounds has released. Dan Perloff and the team did a great job on the package. Thank you and Goldmine for your interest in my music.
To win the autographed 3-CD anthology, all you have to do is put your email and address in the boxes below by April 30, 11:59 p.m. You will immediately be entered in the Giveaway and as a bonus you will receive our informative eNewsletter from Goldmine (collecting news/tips and exclusive articles and interviews with your favorite classic artists). We will randomly draw winners from the entrants. Blixa Sounds has supplied us with two autographed copies of Robin Lane & The Chartbusters’ Many Years Ago 3-CD anthology to give away, so your chances are doubled.