The Direct Hits – Blow Up! Revisited

If you think you are a Mod – You must read this!
If you are a fan of the 60’s music – You must read this!
If you are a fan of pure POP! music – You must read this!
If you are a fan of the Television Personalities – You must read this!
If you have never heard of any of the above – You Must Certainly Read This!

To say that I am excited about the revamping of the wonderful Blaamm Records and the release of the Direct Hits – Blow Up Revisted CD, would be a huge understatement. The Direct Hits ( ) were one of the most essential bands to come out of the mod revival period in the early 1980’s and has been called “One of the 1980’s great cult pop secrets”. They were mainly comprised of Colin Swan and Geno Buckmaster along with Brian Grover on drums, although they had various other drummers pass through their ranks. The Direct Hits were formed following the demise of The Exits, a new wave pop band who released only one single “Fashion Plague” back then but had a full album retrospective release on Rev Ola through Cherry Red Records a few years back. The Direct Hits released several excellent 7” singles, which are now quite rare and two full length albums “Blow Up!” and “House of Secrets” along with several essential 12” Ep’s. Colin Swan was and still is an amazing songwriter and pop tunesmith and went on to release many fine gems either as a solo artist or with his band This Happy Breed (which is another story for another day as is Colin’s reappearance in The Cult 45’s for a Television Personalities cover on volume 2 of the tribute series) after The Direct Hits disbanded. He was even offered a spot on Creation Records in their early days, which for various reasons didn’t materialize.

Blaamm Records ( ) was set up by Colin Swan back in 2003 as a way of re-issuing the long out of print Direct Hits album “Blow Up!” (And was followed up by several other rare Direct Hits releases and a very limited edition label sampler, that was absolutely fabulous), an album which was originally released on Dan Treacy’s Whaam! Records back in June 1984 (Cat No. BIG 7). This album quickly became and has remained a defining moment for the 80’s Mod Revival and is an album which is full of aural treasures and delights despite its meager recording budget. (for Television Personalities fan’s it also featured Dan Treacy on several songs). The vinyl version of this album as well as the single below are now highly sought after collectibles.

The Direct Hits had so many top tunes and knew how to borrow from the 60’s original Mod sound but actually improve on it to create a sound totally their own. Songs like the snappy ”Ever Ready Plaything”, the spy homage of “Modesty Blaise” (which strangely was not on the first album but released as Whaam 007)), “Miranda Berkley” and it’s spot on period portrayal (which was incidentally covered by The Void on “Into The Jet Stream Of Pop” compilation and soon to be included on “The Great British Beat – Volume 1”), “A Place In The Eighties”, “She Really Didn’t Care”, “Christopher Cooper” and laid back groove of “The Ordinary Girl” were a few of the timeless gems that were scattered through the album and early 7” releases. Then there was the second album which I will not even get into right now.

The Direct Hits created a world of their own, one that was fun to be part of, even if you lived thousands of miles away as my brother and I were when we joined the Direct Hits fanclub. We loved The Jam and The Cortinas and Mertan Parkas and The Purple Hearts, but The Direct Hits were different, they were special, because we were part of their world – a whole world of newsletters, buttons and most importantly, scores of rare cassette releases through their very own Direct Tapes label which featured numerous bands that were completely unheard of, but somehow always sounding pretty amazing. There were bands like The Activation (which I spent many hours searching for their records, much to my disappointment – try to find info on them now in the modern age of technology and you still can’t), Jenny Brett, The Northwoods, The Open Door, Sheila Lewis and others that I can’t recall at the moment. Some of these bands would at times sound strangely similar to the Direct Hits (maybe there was a conspiracy in there somewhere or they had many talented musical friends). A very incomplete discography of the Direct Tape label can be found here – .

They would also include on their tape label a whole series of great releases like the Direct Diamonds series (3 volumes) or The Great British Beat series (I think there was 4 volumes, and later revived for two 7” single releases on Germany’s Little Teddy Records – pictured above) which at times included bands like The Page Boys, The Mixers, The Activation and The Catalysts (most likely Ulric and Dannie from The Mixers) and more. The Direct Tape label also featured solo releases by Colin Swan, Geno Buckmaster and Phil Ward (another favourite of mine from The Mood Six, another great overlooked band of that era), along with the wonderful cassette “The Special Magic Of Dan Treacy” by The Open Door (which was later redone as “Portrait of Dan Treacy” on 7” single by Little Teddy Records), where Colin Swan and Geno Buckmaster cover four Television Personalities songs (see JC Brouchard’s review of that cassette here – )

As I usually do talking about bands and music I love, I have easily been distracted, so I’ll get back on topic. The Direct Hits were one of my favourite bands in the 80’s and they were very influential in warping my musical tastes and they often sent me in many directions forwards and backwards, searching for a host of amazing bands that were cloaked in secrecy, or searching for the original of a song that was covered by bands on the various cassettes, which in turn gave me a great historical education of the music from an earlier era.

So to say I’m excited to see the Blow Up album redone, well that’s a no brainer. This release is not intended to replace the original album, (which is something that is very hard if not impossible to do), but to be a companion piece to the original album to take things in other directions and show you what the album might have been in an alternate universe. It’s labeled a “New Version of Classic Eighties Mod Album” and “Features Previously Unreleased Material”. Almost all, if not all the songs are reworked and remixed, with extra embellishment and instruments thrown in. In some cases, a completely different alternate recording is used as in the case of “Miranda Berkley”, where a previously unheard version of this song is included, which is much faster than the original and is a real treasure. Several songs which were never included on the original album are now added along with conclusion to “Henry The Unhappy Inventor”. Welcome to the wonderful world of “Blow Up! – Revisited” – the Mod revival has never sounded so good!  ( )

Music Is The New Social Icon

After trying to figure out just who The Social Icons are and what is their significance to life and just what is a Social Icon, I did a bit of research and came across an amazing discovery – The Social Icons represent the new society as we know it and Music has now become The Social Icon of choice.

The dictionary ( defines Social as:
adjective – 1. relating to human society and its members; “social institutions”; … “societal forces”; “social legislation”; 2. living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups; “a human being is a social animal”; “mature social behavior” [ant: unsocial]; … 5. of or pertaining to human society, esp. as a body divided into classes according to status: social rank.

Icon is defined:
noun (also i·kon) – 1. An image; a representation; …3. An important and enduring symbol: “Voyager will take its place … alongside such icons of airborne adventure as The Spirit of St. Louis and [the] Bell X-1” (William D. Marbach); 4. One who is the object of great attention and devotion; …: “He is … a pop icon designed and manufactured for the video generation” (Harry F. Waters).

So as you can see in today’s day and age, music has taken on mythical proportions, we are always plugged in, surrounded by sound and music has become the representation of choice for so many people – the new Social Icon. People relate to others by the kind of music they enjoy and even categorize people by their listening choices, divided into classes according to status or the music, the music becomes the person, whether it is a Punk, an Indie, a Rocker, a Mod or even a Deadhead (for fans of the Greatful Dead), why we even have Goth dating sites, Indiepop festivals, Mod rallies.

Bands are groups of people who gather together to enjoy life and bring enjoyment to others, but they have also become an important and enduring symbol of styles and generations, not to mention they have become the object of great attention and devotion (of which this blog is just further proof).

At this point you are probably wondering what is this guy talking about, so let me explain: A friend of mine had a band that was called The Social Icons and although I admit that I never heard any of their music, I loved the band name and borrowed it to name a cassette compilation “Music For A Social Icon” – a collection of songs that was slightly off the beaten track but perfectly reflected the creative genius and diversity that makes the perfect music, the beautiful music. The Social Icons took a bit of a diversion and mutated into another band, but now we have the return of The Social Icons, who have released their debut EP on Berlin’s uber cool label alongside such luminaries as The Laughing Apple, Biff Bang Pow, Phil Wilson, Apple Orchard and more.

The Social Icons have also created the perfect video for the “Youtube Video Generation” that reflects their creative genius both aurally and visually, with obvious references to what’s influential to any true music collector (ie. Creation Records, Wild Swans, etc. – these are hints) – Stop, Look and Listen and if you can spot all the references, leave a comment or send us an e-mail and we may just send you a free CD. You can find the video here:

please install flash



s k y t o n e echoes in all directions

Canadian brother-duo who blend influences of early Posies, some Fountains Of Wayne with some moody, post-BritPop sounds. Skates gently through a quietly pretty blend of the aforementioned sounds all woven together with solid poppy laid-back songwriting. Echoes In All Directions contains a consistently enjoyable melange of striking influences brought together with great care in each songs arrangements and the craftsmanship of each song. “4 stars. Skytone are probably the only Ottawa band – maybe the only Canadian band – producing power-pop this melodic, structured and free from pretension. The `70s/`90s British influences just drip out of the speakers, as if Badfinger had climbed on stage with The Bluetones at Glastonbury. But why steal Skytone`s thunder with comparisons? The melodies are simple, with notes drawn out over the full four bars in most songs – just how good, catchy power-pop should sound.”- HourCanada.

Skytone official website
Echoes in All Directions
Beauty 008
$9.00 CDN
In Stock

Now Available! 15 Beauty Tips For The Modern Pop Lover – Free Label Sampler

15 Beauty Tips For Modern Music Lovers
Beauty 013 – Absolutely Free

Everybody loves you when you are beautiful or at least when you listen to beautiful music. So we will provide you with a few beauty tips so that your life will be happier and more fulfilling and all this, with no strings attached, and no downpayment necessary and no fine print.

Anyone who knows us already knows that we love giving things away free and so here we are doing it again. Great music deserves to be heard and we think that we have released some of the greatest music you will ever hear, on our tiny imaginary label. If we had our way we would just give away all our albums for free but that doesn’t help recoup some of the costs for the bands so we only ask that if you enjoy some of these tunes, then please support some of these artists, whether it is attending their shows or purchasing a few more of their songs or just telling all your friends about them or about this free sampler.

If you are a long time fan of all things beautiful, then you will no doubt recognize most of these tracks, but we have included a few rare songs that have not yet been released, including a cover of a song by The Sound, which will be featured on our upcoming tribute to Adrian Borland’s amazing band. Also featured for the first time ever is amazing cover of New Order’s “Your Silent Face” by the wonderful I SATELLITE who will be recording a Television Personalities cover for our next volume.

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Skytone – Rolling Stone (Beauty 018)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Dot Dash – I’m Going Home (Beauty 019)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Anorak Girl – Smashing Time (Beauty 020)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Roy Moller – Downstate Update (Beauty 017)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”The Higher Elevations – Life Doesn’t Wait (Beauty 006)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”The Social Icons – Pop is Falling Apart (Beauty 016)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”A Smile And A Ribbon – Magnificent Dreams (Beauty 020)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Armstrong – Picture Of The Bay (Beauty 014)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Pacific Radio – This Time There’s No Happy Ending (Beauty 010)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Skytone – It Doesn’t Really Matter (Beauty 008)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”No Men – Part Time Punks (Beauty 005)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Nikki Sudden – If I Could Write Poetry I Would (Beauty 010)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Nick Danger and the DCR – Submarine (Beauty 011)”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”ThouShaltNot – Longest Days (Sound Cover – Not yet released”]


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”I SATELLITE – Your Silent Face (New Order Cover – Previously Unreleased)”]

Click Here For Printable Artwork

Click here for all the songs in a zipped folder

(requires something to unzip it like or Winzip)

An added bonus for mail order purchasers

And if you act now and actually purchase a physical CD from our store we will even include a free CD of your choice with every CD purchased (limited time offer). As an extra bonus we will include the highly sought after tbm pin to accessorize any outfit and truly make you beautiful!

All the best and please have a Smashing Time!

The Social Icons : I’m there…you’re here (Beauty 016)

“I’m there…you’re here” was recorded over a two year period at Bova Sound Studios in Ottawa. The sessions once again united the group with esteemed engineer/producer Phillip Shaw Bova (Hilotrons/Belle Orchestre/Sadie Hell). Explaining how he came to suggest the album title, front man Nickolai says, ‘It was first just an audio clip used in “Stardust” but then as we heard it over and over we realized that it really describes the barriers we had to overcome in making this album and you really hear that in the lyrics.’

“I’m there…you’re here” features twelve tracks ranging from long overdue classics such as Grey and Stardust to songs that were being written during the recording of then such as The New Kind and The Sway. I’m a Little Late which finds Nickolai exploring hitherto uncharted territory over the loveliest of melodies and Janice Hall’s gorgeous vocals. It’s destined to become another lynchpin in TSI’s live set.

It has already come to the attention of legendary music critic Everett True who calls it “…a smidgen David Bowie, and a whole lot awesome and catchy the way Ed Ball ought to be, …we’re talking The Beatles and the TVPs here, obviously – just not in an obvious manner. So I guess we’re really talking The Knack or that wonderful moment in 1978 when power pop ruled the lower reaches of the UK charts”

Everyone is raving about the new release which rocketed to #2 on local radio and gaining international ground in the UK, Spain, Brazil and Germany.

“Wenn ich die Reihe Power Pop aus meinem CD Regal irgendwann mal fortsetzen sollte, die Social Icons wären schon mal fest gebucht.”
Twang Tone

“It’s a little bit Teenage Fanclub, a little bit Mod, a little bit Urge Overkill circa
that moment when they crystallised easy into the perfect distillation of cocktail-
drinking, lounge-lounging, swaggering Neil Diamond fans – only even more so…
a smidgen David Bowie, and a whole lot awesome and catchy “
– Everett True, Music That I Like

“…brings to mind a laconic ’78 era Elvis Costello … a modish Van Morrison”
-Terry Banks, The Big Takeover

“Pop is Falling Apart is loud and commanding with a driving beat that is modern
in sound at one level, but which also has an element of classic Who and the
Rolling Stones. Singer Nickolai Dangeroso sings his lyrics which recall Neil
Diamond in story form.” – Anthony Strutt,

“It s a great sounding pop explosion” – Joe Reilly, CKCU FM

Skytone : Shining Over You (Beauty 18)

A nice ten track collection, this is a solid collection of pop-rock tunes, with nods to turn of the eighties punk and powerpop, The Beatles and Weller. All good then. Skytone consists of two brothers, with great natural harmonies. It’s down to the songs though and the pair nail it time and time again. Skytone know how to wield an acoustic guitar, evident in the jangle of the album’s clear single, “One Fine Day,” but the best song is the lightly ska and piano tinged “Working Class Lament.” Well worth investigating. (

Skytone official website 
Shining Over You
Beauty 018
$9.00 CDN
In Stock


Roy Moller : Playing Songs, No One’s Listening To (Beauty 017)

Comprising ten tracks recorded by Moller at his Singalong Junk home studio, Playing Songs, No One’s Listening To Roy Moller deftly demonstrates why Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson, a regular Moller collaborator, describes the Edinburgh-born songwriter as “amazing – blessed with great talent, enthusiasm and concentration: most of all he’s a lot of fun to work with and be around”.

Roy grew up in Leith, before moving to Glasgow in his late teens. In 1994 he joined Meth O.D., playing guitar alongside former Golden Dawn frontman Rob Smith, creating a handful of e.p.s and albums much aired by the late John Peel.
In 2000, Moller became a founder member of instrumental guitar band the Wow Kafe, playing lead guitar on their Who Shall Apologise To The Emperor (described by the NME as “utterly ace”).

Roy Moller’s solo career commenced in 2003 with his Felicite Singles Club 45 Maximum Smile. A prolific songwriter, releasing material with The Company (Moller, Jackson and Astrid’s Gary Thom) Playing Songs.. is Moller’s first album since his acclaimed 2006 debut long-player, Speak When I’m Spoken To and the most vivid evidence yet of what MTV Brazil has described as a “gobsmacking talent for creating catchy melodies..his lyrics are filled with humour and sarcasm, natural elements of his personality.”

The celebratory side of Moller’s love/hate relationship with his adopted city of Glasgow informs opening track Byres Road Saturday which eulogises one of his favourite thoroughfares and the title of a German soft-rock compilation lp he spied in a nearby record store inspires closer Slow Rock Forever.

The freakbeat stylings on offer at revered Glasgow Art School club Divine form the backdrop to Wonder Understand while the Dylanesque Out Of Print draws lyrical inspiration from some of the less picturesque areas of the city.

My Skyscrapers combines shimmering Stax guitar and subaquatic references in which Jacques Costeau makes an appearance;You Did Ask gives a shout out to Alice Coltrane.

If You Knew Where To Look emerged obliquely from Moller’s scoring of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage for a student drama company with a touch of Truffaut thrown in : “In the garden’s a rose, the last one to stand. Took four hundred blows from the side of her hand.”

Downstate Update sees Moller updating his own past, building on an unreleased gem from his Meth O.D. era, taking it in the 21st century beat group direction which also underpins More Fool You. A 1962 book by Scots engine driver Norman McKillop about his travels on the Canadian Pacific Railway (Western Rail Trail) informs Rhythm From The Rails.

Find more info about the album and Roy here:

Roy Moller
Playing Songs, No One’s Listening To
Beauty 017
$9.00 CDN
Now Available!

Playing Songs No One's Listening To - Roy Moller

Welcome to the new site!

Welcome to the Beautiful Music Online – “Collectors and Distributors of Fine Music” Music that is created for the sheer LOVE of it. Music that celebrates the melody and the harmony, the magnificent and the eccentric. The Beautiful Music is dedicated to distributing Music that soars above the musical landscape in the Jet Stream of POP.

Tribute to Television Personalities: Volume 3

“It is an idea that is both bonkers and admirable, as if the label is trying to make up for all the praise and recognition that the band has sadly missed out on over its 30 plus year existence.” Mark Rowlan,

Click here to find out the story so far on our ten volume set. Volume
three coming soon!

All Those Times We Spent Together
A Tribute to the Television Personalities: Vol 3
Beauty 020
$15.00 CDN
In Stock

Dot Dash : Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash (Beauty 019)

Dot Dash is a post punk pop band from Washington D.C.

spark>flame>ember>ash is their long-playing debut. It contains 14 songs and was recorded in three afternoons.
If this bio had one of those “RIYL/Recommended If You Like” sections, it might drop names like The Jam, Joy Division and The Byrds…

… Or perhaps it would bring up an apparent appreciation by Dot Dash for the ancient sounds of the Postcard, Whaam and early Creation labels…

But those kinds of judgments can really only be made by you, the listener.
As is often the case, Dot Dash has a whole “they are ex-members of” thing going on:
Guitarist/singer Terry Banks and bassist Hunter Bennett were in punky power poppers Julie Ocean.

Before that, Terry was in a bunch of jangly guitar bands, including The Saturday People, Tree Fort Angst, Glo-Worm, and St. Christopher.

Guitarist Bill Crandall was in the mod/pop band Modest Proposal.

Drummer Danny Ingram began musical life in Dischord-label punks Youth Brigade before moving on to Strange Boutique and, later, U.K. guitar-wranglers Swervedriver.
Dot Dash plays shows, mostly around D.C., but occasionally out of town, whenever they can. In the recent past they’ve opened for Urge Overkill, The Godfathers, The Trash Can Sinatras, and The Capstan Shafts, among others.

So that’s it: 14 songs, recorded expeditiously, and released by The Beautiful Music. You be the judge.

Check out their Facebook page:

Dot Dash
Beauty 019
$9.00 CDN
In Stock

The Empiricals Never Cease To Impress

After missing countless opportunities to see The Empiricals live, and hearing friends rave about their live shows, and even going to shows where they were the opening act and arriving too late, I finally got to see them live at the opening night of the Ottawa Bluesfest, on Tuesday July 6th, and they were simply unbelievably amazing.

Paul Hogan plays his guitar with the precision of a highly trained brain surgeon (but having a lot more fun, I’m sure) and can create sounds from his guitar that many can only dream of, and bringing back memories of The Ventures meet The Tiki Tones with some Sterophonic Space Sound and Huntington Cads thrown in for good measure.

 The Flaps vs The Empiricals @ Bluefest by blurasis. 

(the pictures were borrowed from here – )

Mike Dubue, is also an extremely talented musician and multi-instrumentalist, who has quite an ear for music and I’m sure could be big time music composer like Ennio Morricone or Peter Thomas (he has actually done scores for movies and works with the The Mayfair Theatre Orchestra recreating old film soundtracks) and on top of that is a pleasure to watch as he is always on the move.

The Flaps vs The Empiricals @ Bluefest by blurasis.

Phil Bova is quite the exceptional drummer and knows how to fill in the sounds at just the right moment. He is an extremely talented musician who has assisted countless Ottawa bands, through the years, not to mention his ear for capturing just the right sound in the studio (We have our very own Liam Watson).

I have to admit, I know even less about their fourth member, who I think was Daniel Sauve (at least Dan has played with them on earlier shows that I missed) or Damian Sawka (Who also plays in Ukrainia) – but here is a picture and I am sure someone will set me straight. (Sorry!)

The Flaps vs The Empiricals @ Bluefest by blurasis.

The Empiricals are easily one of the most talented bands in Ottawa, and possibly even the Country, and I say this having only seen them perform 2 songs as part of the duel to the finish with The Flaps (The Flaps were also amazing but since this is about The Empiricals, they will need to wait for another post, in the meantime you can pick up The Flaps mighty fine debut on Kelp Records and ask for a copy of Kelp 16 which is also very impressive – sorry I am getting sidetracked – but before I get back on track I should also mention that there is a link to these 2 bands, that goes back some time, to another great Ottawa band Polaris in which both Pat Lawler and Paul Hogan both played in – now back to the program). I realize that instrumental music is not everyone’s cup of tea, but these lads make it interesting and intriguing as they draw on a wide diversity of sounds, whether it’s Oriental soundtracks or Indian spy movies, Joe Meek’s 1960’s surf instrumentals and even beach party B-movies, for their influence they sound quite original and yet strangely familiar at the same time.

The Empiricals are band that I have a great fondness and respect for and in many ways are a band who have helped inspire our very first International POP compilation “Into The Jetstream of Pop” (Beauty 004). When I first heard their self released 4 track CDEP, I loved it so much I wanted to help in some small way to spread the word about them and so after speaking with Paul and Mike it was arranged that their exceptional track “Seven And A Half Stars” would be the intro to that compilation (some of the same band members also appear with the HiLo Trons track which was also on that compilation) and so it all started.

I have wanted for some time to see if they would be interested in releasing more songs on our label and if I could only find some more time, maybe encourage them to release an EP or an album (if Kelp Records is not already doing that), but in the meantime they have agreed and will be featured on our instrumental compilation – The Many Moods Of Beauty, which has been in the works for about 3 or 4 years and is yet to be released (hoping for later this year).

The members of this very talented band have also had links to many Ottawa bands and musicians, which I will not even begin to start mentioning as I don’t know the half of it (Ok ok, maybe I will mention a few The Acorn, Ukrania, Kepler, Boycrusher, The Hammerheads, Clark, Bande Senore, The Holger Schoorl Trio and Polaris which I already mentioned, but the list goes on), but I will also say that several of our releases have featured the talents of Mike Dubue and Phil Bova as they have played on various Nick Danger and Social Icons releases. I should also mention that Phil has done the mastering on almost all our releases.

It is a shame that The Empiricals don’t actually have many releases, if any actually easily available (I know they self-released an 4 track EP and an album “Golden Beat” a few years back, but try and find a copy – I recently got a request to help someone find a copy of their EP, which is now quite rare), and search for information on them and you will not likely find very much. So as you can see I have had their music circling around my world and in my head for many years and they are long overdue to have a proper release of their own so their wonderful sound can spin circles and figure eights in your world.