Showing posts with label Black. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black. Show all posts

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Wonderful life - Black / Hai hai - Roger Hodgson

Another Italian promo I acquired recently is this single, featuring a track by Black and one by Roger Hodgson. 'Wonderful life' went on to become a major hit worldwide, whereas ex-Supertramp frontman Hodgson didn't really make an impression with the title track of his second solo album.

'Hai hai' did make the album charts in strange places like Canada, Switzerland and Norway (peaking at number 42, 16 and 20 respectively) but it was released just after Hodgson fell from a loft in his home and broke both wrists, which disabled him from promoting the album. Doctors told him he would never play music again. Within a year and a half, he was playing again. These days, he is still touring, although I understand his Supertramp past is still what attracts the most attendees.

My collection: 7" single no. 5965
Found:, received December 7, 2018
Cost: 5 euro

Tracks: 'Wonderful life' (Black) / 'Hai hai' (Roger Hodgson)

Friday, 1 February 2019

Here it comes again - Black

So this is an odd one. I ordered this promotional 7" single because it only had one side - the B-side was reportedly empty. And indeed, although it looks like this side can be played, the only sound on side B is the sound of silence.

On the A-side this single features 'Here it comes again', the second single from Black's 1991 album. But while the commercially available 7" contains the album version of that track, this promotional 7" single features a remix! I knew this remix from a promotional cd-single released in the USA at the time - but this single was made in England! How very confusing. Why would the record company promote a remixed version of a track when it isn't available commercially? Answers on a postcard please...

My collection: 7" single no. 5986
Found: Ebay, received January 29, 2019
Cost: 3 pounds
Tracks: 'Here it comes again [remix]'

Monday, 31 December 2018

I'm not afraid - Black

I couldn't let the year pass without sparing a thought for Colin Vearncombe, the sole member of the band Black, who tragically died in January 2016. My collection of his records is pretty complete, but once in a while I still find a version I don't have yet.

Like this Japanese single of 'I'm not afraid'. I love Japanese singles for their beautiful appearance (a vinyl single in a record company sleeve with an insert that usually contains some Japanese translation of the lyrics). Curiously, there are no Japanese 7" singles of 'Sweetest smile' and 'Wonderful life', so this single appears to be a one-off.

My collection: 7" single no. 5948
Found: website, received November 3, 2018
Cost: 5 euro
Tracks: 'I'm not afraid' / 'Have it your own way'

Monday, 26 March 2018

Wonderful life - Black

I have several singles of Black's 'Wonderful life', but when I found this one online I was a bit puzzled. The sleeve looked a bit generic and it was a Czechian pressing. Chechoslovakia - as it was known back then - wasn't known for its expansive record industry, and I wondered how this single ended up being released over there.

The mystery became even bigger after I received the single, as the B-side, 'Everything's coming up roses', sounds a bit different from the 'regular' single version. Listen to the intro and you'll know what I mean.

My collection: 7" single no. 5891
Found:, received January 31, 2018
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Wonderful life' / 'Everything's coming up roses'

Sunday, 1 October 2017

I can laugh about it now - Black

As described in this blog before, the single 'I can laugh about it now' was released in Spain only, in 1989, presumably as the fourth single from his album 'Comedy'. While the 7" single was very hard to find, the 12" single was even more so. It was only thanks to the indispensible website, where I had the disc on my wish list, that it suddenly popped up when someone offered it for sale. This happens occasionally, I guess, but this time I was quick enough to snap it up. (Ironically, there are three copies for sale right now - but they are more expensive.)

The 12" single adds a third track to the two already available on the 7" single, and it is 'Under wraps' - a track that would be released in the UK three years later when the single 'Fly up to the moon' was released. The history of that track is an interesting one, since it was already demo'd in the mid-Eighties. How it ended up being released in Spain first, I truly do not know.

My collection: 12" single [unnumbered]
Found:, received July 2016
Cost: 12 euro
Tracks: 'I can laugh about it now' / 'All we need is the money [live]', 'Under wraps'

Sunday, 23 July 2017

More than the sun - Black

Despite keeping rather up to date on what happened in the UK in the Eighties, partially thanks to a local radio station I listened to on a daily basis and the satellite TV channel Music Box, I didn't know about this single when it came out. I had seen and heard its predecessor 'Hey presto' numerous times so I knew about the band Black already, but I would only find out about Black again in 1987, when 'Sweetest smile' hit the TV screen.

The tracks on this 12" single came to me via a compilation album released by WEA in 1987 after 'Wonderful life' was such a success. After buying that album, the hunt for this 12" single was on, but it would take me some years to get hold of it. Best track on this one? Without a doubt, 'Butterfly man'. A mysterious piece of music that wouldn't be out of place in the current (third) season of Twin Peaks.

My collection: 12" single [unnumbered]
Found: unknown
Cost: unknown
Tracks: 'More than the sun', 'Butterfly man' / 'I could kill you', 'Widemouth', 'Stephen'

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Wonderful life - Black

I can't claim to have had a deep personal relationship with Colin Vearncombe, the man behind Black, but still his death in January 2016 hit me harder than any other musician's death ever did. And speaking of death: his 'Wonderful life' will probably end up being played when my funeral comes up. And you never know when that is.

'Wonderful life' was originally released in 1986 on the Ugly Man label. It was on the strength of this release and its indie chart success that Black ended up being signed on A&M Records. This song was their third single release on A&M and that version ended up being a worldwide hit. When you listen to the version of this 12" single, from 1986, you can hear subtle differences. The B-side contains the track 'Birthday night' which was never re-recorded, and an early version of 'Everything's coming up roses', which ended up being re-recorded and released as Black's first single for A&M. I was not even that keen on buying the 12" single when I did some 25 years ago - after all, I already had the double 7" single version - but now I'm very glad to own it.

My collection: 12" single [unnumbered]
Found: early 1990's
Cost: unknown
Tracks: 'Wonderful life' / 'Birthday night', 'Everything's coming up roses'

Friday, 12 May 2017

Wonderful life (re-recording) - Black

In 1988 Black re-recorded his 1987 hit 'Wonderful life' for the American market. The new version was included in a version of his second album 'Comedy' that was compiled for the USA. It included this version of 'Wonderful life' and 'Sweetest smile', and a selection of tracks from 'Comedy' as it was released in Europe.

I didn't know that a single of this re-recorded version existed, until I started scouring websites like some time ago. And even then I didn't feel the urgency to buy the single. But the opportunity came up recently when I bought a stack of singles from a German dealer, and I just couldn't resist. As far as I know, this single is the only one with the re-recorded version, although CD-singles exist. But, of course, I do own those.

My collection: 7" single no. 5826
Found:, received May 11, 2017
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Wonderful life (re-recording)' / 'I can laugh about it now'

Listen to the song

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Hey presto - Black

I first got to know the UK band Black in 1984, when the music video for 'Hey presto' appeared on television. I'm not sure whether it was this video (which I never saw again since 1984!) or repeated radio play which hooked me, but I was most certainly hooked. I never got to buy the single, because it was only released in the UK - or so I thought until recently.

Back in 1992, I met a fellow fan who owned a rare copy of 'Hey presto', made in the UK, which didn't contain the 'regular' studio version, but rather a demo version. It couldn't be distinguished from other UK pressings, so this was a really strange appearance. A year later, when we spoke to Colin Vearncombe, he explained that a run of copies was made for export to Australia, and WEA retrieved the demo version from the archives by mistake. I never found a copy of this rare run of pressings myself.

This month, after the tragic passing of Colin Vearncombe, I started looking for holes in my collection. It's one way to cope with the loss, I guess. I noticed that there was a German pressing of 'Hey presto', and there was one copy for sale. I decided to order it. The single arrived in my mailbox earlier today. Upon playing this disc, I discovered that this version, too, contained the demo versions of the A and B-side tracks. And just like on the UK pressings, there is no indication that this disc contains the demo versions instead of the regular studio versions. But you can safely assume that all German pressings are the same, since 'Hey presto' probably only had one run of pressings in Germany. Such a pleasant surprise!

My collection: 7" single no. 5827
Found:, received February 17, 2016
Cost: $5
Tracks: 'Hey presto [demo version]' / 'Stephen [demo version]]

Listen to the song

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Everything's coming up roses - Black

The death of Colin Vearncombe, singer and sole member of the band Black, on January 26 this year, was a big blow. I have collected all of his music and saw the man live more times than my memory has allowed me to remember. The process of mourning continues for a long time I guess, but in the mean time I coped with the acquisition of a few Black items that I didn't own until now. (Which, as you can see on this page, shouldn't be too much, especially when you consider I never got round to posting my 12" singles.)

The most interesting item so far has to be this promotional 7" from the USA, with a remix version of 'Everything's coming up roses' on both sides. I already had the promotional cd-single from over there for 15 years, but as followers of this blog know: if it's released on vinyl, I gotta have it.

My collection: 7" single no. 5825
Found:, received February 9, 2016
Cost: $2
Tracks: 'Everything's coming up roses (remix)' / 'Everything's coming up roses (remix)'

Listen to the song

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sweetest smile - Black

Black's 'Sweetest Smile' was originally released in 1987 as the second single from his most successful album 'Wonderful life', just before the title track became a worldwide hit and an Eighties classic. Slightly more beautiful and sophisticated, the song never became as famous as 'Wonderful life' but it is worth a spin or two if you like good music.

During last month's Record Store Day, a special 10" record was sold featuring a 2011 re-recording of the track, which sound a lot like the original version but unlike its 1987 counterpart the rights belong to Colin Vearncombe himself and not to the Universal record company mammoth. What really makes this disc special is the inclusion of three other tracks from his post-2000 output. Listen to this tracks and you'll probably want to have this disc - or the cd's which these tracks were taken from - yourself. Head on over to for more information.

I wasn't able to get this record on Record Store Day, but fortunately this disc was sold online after the day, so you can imagine I am a happy bunny now.

My collection: 10" single [unnumbered]
Cost: 9 pounds
Found: Vinyl180, UK, received May 20, 2014
Tracks: 'Sweetest smile [2011 re-recording]', 'Where the river bends' / 'In a heartbeat', 'Grievous angel'

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Swingtime - Black

After two years of absence from the music scene, Black returned in 1993, free from his contract with A&M records and owner of a new self-owned company called Nero Schwarz ltd. His comeback album was called 'Are we having fun yet?', taking a stab at his moody, melancholy image. The album was full of quirky sounds and well written pop songs, but unfortunately this music was not picked up by the general public. A concert in Rotterdam at the time was visited by only 60 people. I was one of them, and I also bought all of the cd-singles released from that album.

Little did I know that in Spain a 7" single was released as well. I found out about this some eight years after the fact, when I started corresponding with other Black fans. And I tried for the last decade to find this single. Especially since it contains an otherwise unreleased B-side track. It was on my 'want list' on for two years. And then, suddenly, last Monday morning I found an e-mail from Discogs saying that an item was for sale on my wantlist. I ordered it within minutes. Only five days later, I held a copy of that great sought after item in my hands. Bliss.

My collection: 7" single no. 5295
Found:, received August 10, 2012
Cost: 8 euro
Tracks: 'Swingtime' / 'Quiet side of the road'

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sweetest smile - Black

Black's 'Sweetest smile' was a big comeback for a band that had been out of my sight for three years in the summer of 1987. After a holiday in London, where I bought the 7" single, I requested the 12" single for my birthday and got it.

A remark from my grandfather always stuck with me. When he looked at the sleeve of this disc, he said: 'Now at least that's a goodlooking chap'. I wanted to say, of course, his music was good too, but such a remark would have been wasted on him: he never liked any pop music at all. So this was probably the highest form of praise I would get from him for my record collection. But of course, the four tracks on this disc are sure to please you.

My collection: 12" single no. 56
Found: Den Haag (Birthday present)
Cost: nothing
Tracks: 'Sweetest smile', 'Sixteens' / 'Leave yourself alone', 'Hardly star-crossed lovers'

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Here it comes again - Black

'Here it comes again' was the second single from Black's third album, released in 1991. I never bought the 12" single because at the time the cd-single was becoming the dominating format and I didn't particularly want to spend money buying the same music twice. Of course, recently I realised that it's silly to have a complete Black collection bar a handful of 12" singles.

This disc features an alternative version of Black's biggest hit 'Wonderful life' plus two B-side tracks: a new song called 'Every waking hour' plus 'Shades', a cover of the Iggy Pop track, written by Iggy Pop and David Bowie. With Black's beautiful voice, I reckon it's better than the original...

My collection: 12" single no. 590
Found:, received October 8, 2011
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Here it comes again', 'Every waking hour' / 'Shades', 'Wonderful life (Chritsmas '88 recording)'

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Feel like change - Black

Apparently, Black's single 'Feel like change' became quite big in South Africa. At the time, the country was slowly getting rid of its Apartheid regime, and so a song called 'Feel like change' sung by a white guy called Black would have been quite apt.

This 12" single doesn't feature any remix, but instead it offers four tracks: the title track, a new track called 'Nice', a cover of a Michael McDonald track and of course the wellknown hit 'Wonderful life'.

My collection: 12" single no. 589
Found:, received October 8, 2011
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Feel like change', 'Nice' / 'I can let go now', 'Wonderful life'

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hey Presto - Black

Back in 1984, music videos were an integral part of my daily routine. Watching television for a few hours a day just to catch my favourite videos (and songs) was a bit crazy in retrospect, but it did huge favours for developing my own taste in music.

One of the videos I saw back then was Black's 'Hey Presto'. It's one of very few videos I never saw again - and I'm still searching for it now. I bought the 7" single years later and I only found the 12" single now. It was never a hit for Black, although he would be more successful in 1987 with his eternal classic 'Wonderful life'. To hear what the man is up to these days read my entry on Any colour you like.

My collection: 12" single no. 587
Found:, received October 5, 2011
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Hey Presto' / 'Stephen', 'Liquid dream'

Monday, 5 September 2011

Any colour you like - Black

Although this blog is dedicated to music on vinyl (the name says it all) I would like to make an exception and make you an offer you can't refuse. There's a lot of music on here you can listen to for free, but this time I'm asking for $1. That's not a lot, is it?

Black has been making beautiful music for 30 years now. In the Eighties he was very successful with the song 'Wonderful life' and subsequent releases. His vinyl output during that time has been featured on this blog (see it here). After that, things became less commercially successful - although the music has always been beautiful. You can hear it for yourself on the new compilation 'Any colour you like', which was released today. You can download it here and if you use the discount code 'mrg4song' it will cost you just £0.75 - 10% of the original price! If you like this blog you MUST download this compilation. If only to do me - and yourself - a favour.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Wonderful life - Black

Black will always be remembered for that one song, 'Wonderful life'. Through the years it has been covered by Chinese techno bands, German rock bands and Dutch female singers, it has been a popular song during funerals and it has even been used on advertisements for cereals and life insurances.

It was an English life insurance ad that prompted Polygram to re-release 'Wonderful life' in 1994. The single reached number 42 in the UK singles chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 2439
Found: August 22, 1995
Cost: 2 pounds
Tracks: 'Wonderful life' / 'Sweetest smile'

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Fly up to the moon - Black and Sam Brown

In 1991, Black recorded a duet with another A&M Records artist, Sam Brown. The track 'Fly up to the moon' was included on Black's 1991 self-titled album and was released as the third and last single from the album. The lyric includes a quote from the T.S. Eliot poem 'The hollow men': 'This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper'. Except Sam Brown actually sings '...but with a whimpy'.

The single also included two bonus tracks on the B-side. 'You lift me up' was re-recorded years later by Colin Vearncombe on his 2000 album 'Water on snow'.

My collection: 7" single no. 1694
Found: London, 1991
Cost: 2 pounds
Tracks: 'Fly up to the moon' / 'You lift me up', What you are'

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Here it comes again - Black

The second single from Black's 1991 self-titled album was the beautiful 'Here it comes again'. It features backing vocals from Colin Vearncombe's wife Camilla Griehsel, who used to be a singer in the Norwegian band One 2 Many.

It was the last single by Black to reach the UK singles chart, peaking at number 70 in the summer of 1991.

My collection: 7" single no. 1693
Found: London, 1991
Cost: 2 pounds
Tracks: 'Here it comes again' / 'Every waking hour'

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