Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bram Tchaikovsky: Strange Man, Changed Man, Forgotten Band

Today, I got to thinking about Bram Tchaikovsky. Pete at Disco:Very recently wrote a post about his personal canon of top albums. My personal canon would be headed by Strange Man, Changed Man, the album against which all other power pop pales (and it's an awfully pale genre to begin with). Bram Tchaikovsky's 1979 debut album has never been issued on CD (outside of Japan), and the band is remembered now, if at all, for the classic power pop single "Girl of My Dreams". But lo and behold, somebody ripped the whole album to mp3 recently!

The Allmusic review of "Girl of My Dreams" is incorrect on three points: first, songwriter Ronald Thomas did NOT use the stage name Bram Tchaikovsky, and was not even a member of the band. He was a member of the Heavy Metal Kids (whose drummer, Keith Boyce, also played with Bram Tchaikovsky). Peter Bramall was the leader of the band Bram Tchaikovsky, and he used the band name as his stage name, even back when he was in the band the Motors.

Second, the lyrics aren't "nothing special". If you listen closely to "Girl of My Dreams", you realize that the "girl" is a picture: a pinup or a centerfold. It's clever, goddammit! Third, the song does not include "sleigh bells": Mike Oldfield plays his famous tubular bells on the outro. But I do agree with Stewart Mason of Allmusic that "Girl of My Dreams" sounds like "Shake Some Action".

Bram Tchaikovsky's first album was followed by the forgettable Pressure (released in the UK as The Russians Are Coming) and Funland. Those albums don't equal the heady mix of multi-tracked harmonies and crashing power chords, plus the driving pub rock rhythms and surf guitar leads, that make Strange Man, Changed Man such a great album. I have loved it since I was 13. Peter Bramall will be 56 this Friday (November 10). He shares a birthday with the lovely Mrs. Manyjars.

Bram Tchaikovsky: Girl of My Dreams
Bram Tchaikovsky: Come Back (non-lp b side)
Bram Tchaikovsky: (Who Wants to Be a) Criminal (non-lp b side)

17 Comments:

At 11/08/2006 2:10 PM , Blogger David said...

I remember another tune called Sarah Smiles that was a very rich construction.

 
At 11/08/2006 3:18 PM , Anonymous Paula said...

There were a lot of good tunes on that album, and a couple good'uns on the follow-up that no one ever bought.

Jonderneathica, god bless you for posting one of my favorite songs ever, on this most glorious post-election day ever.

 
At 11/08/2006 5:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girl of My Dreams is one of the greatest, but back in the day I did not find anything else on the LP near as good. I'll give it another try now. (And the two others are quite bad.)

Thanks for the memories.

Bruce K.

 
At 11/08/2006 5:26 PM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

Yeah, "Sarah Smiles" (not the Hall 'n' Oats tune) is a rocker. And I love Bram's cover of "I'm a Believer".

Hey Paula, quite a day indeed! Georgia kept its GOP guv, but I like the way the congressional races shook out. I didn't care for Bram's other albums, though the second one had a sequel to "Lady from the USA" called "Letter from the USA".

 
At 11/16/2006 2:32 PM , Blogger Buck said...

Thank you VERY much for this link! I had all 3 LPs back in the day and I actually feel that Funland is better than Pressure. But you're right SMCM was (and remains) a true pleasure.

 
At 11/25/2006 6:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always been a huge fan of Bram; particularly of their first album. I remember seeing them on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert back in the day. I'd still like to see that show up on YouTube sometime. Last I knew, the band's bass player Mickey Broadbent was playing in the Glitter Band. I'd like to know whatever happened to Bram, though. Last I knew he had a blues band called the Knee Tremblers, but that must have been 15 years ago.

 
At 11/28/2006 11:45 AM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

A blues band? That's intriguing... I googled his real name (Peter Bramall) but couldn't even find out whether he's still alive. At least I didn't find an obit.

 
At 9/07/2007 11:08 PM , Anonymous Sergio said...

Hi. I'm from Argentina, and bought near 1982 a Strange Man, Changed Man copy. Lamentably, I've misled it alredy a lot of time ago.
I became very happy on having found this post, and even more on having seen the link to "Girl of my dreams" mp3. But I ran up with the "misfortune" of which the link does not work. So, it isn't the End of the World.
In spite of it, I spent a beautiful moment re-living those times.
Thanks

 
At 10/01/2007 2:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Supposedly Bram's SMCM album IS available on CD from the Heavy Metal Kids website & click the "SHOP" tab.
I've not ordered it yet but plan to post-haste.
or try this link:

http://www.heavymetalkids.co.uk/bram.htm

Always loved the album cover art to Bram's LPs

 
At 10/16/2007 12:13 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

Ooh, that's exciting news for me and Sergio! Lots of non-lp bonus tracks on the CD, including the songs I posted.

 
At 1/25/2008 1:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE LYRICS WERE NOT WRITTIN BY RONALD THOMAS, BUT BY A GUY FROM CHICAGO. THE LYRICS ARE ABOUT A BLOW-UP DOLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 1/26/2008 8:52 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

OK, a blowup doll. No need to shout. Your friend from Chicago didn't get a cowriter's credit.

 
At 2/23/2010 12:52 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

Here's a video interview with songwriter Ronnie Thomas. He does allude to a "balloon" i.e. a blowup doll. No mention of anyone from Chicago (the city or the band).

 
At 2/23/2010 12:53 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJYX5XuPfsM

 
At 3/28/2011 11:41 AM , Anonymous Stava said...

Truly an iconic album, and don't forget Rocking Russian's way cool album art.

 
At 7/13/2011 9:12 PM , Anonymous Steven Neal Wagner said...

Thank you for busting the three misconceptions about "Girl of My Dreams" (the alleged sleighbells, the writer's alleged membership in the band and the value of the lyrics--which I interpreted as being about a girl on a magazine cover). But you think it sounds like "Shake Some Action"? In the most general of ways perhaps but there is nothing specifically that makes the two alike at all.

 
At 7/14/2011 10:51 AM , Blogger jonder said...

Hi, Steven! I guess you're right, on second thought. Stewart Mason's review suggests that the two songs are musically similar. But the signature riff in "Girl" is strummed, while the "Shake Some Action" riff is picked; and the chords aren't even the same.

 

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