Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Music Box: Mari Wilson

Back in the day, nothing was more fun than killing time in the "imports" section at Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard. Yet there was something about earning just $23,000 a year in Los Angeles that made a $25 CD seem like quite the extravagant purchase, so you had to give your selections a lot of consideration. One trip to Tower that I've never regretted was when I splurged and bought two Mari Wilson compilations that came out in 1992. Back in high school I had Mari's debut, "Showpeople" ('80s Brit pop by way of Motown? I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!) and later the "Ain't That Peculiar" 12-inch single (b/w "The Maximum Damage" and "Use Him"). But by the time the '80s were coming to a close, turntable-less and all, I'd pretty much forgotten about my favorite beehived vocalist.
  So digging into the imports section and discovering the "Just What I Always Wanted" and "Beat the Beat" compilations -- which included everything from the vinyl I had plus all of her other singles and b-sides -- was like running into an old friend I hadn't seen in ages and whom I'd forgotten how much I loved hanging out with. The exquisite packaging, complete with all of the original artwork from her U.K. singles, was too irresistible no matter what the cost.
    Many years and many raises later, I would get my hands on Mari's Latin-influenced "The Rhythm Romance" from 1991, and a friend would buy me "Dolled Up" as a gift when it came out in 2005 (Mari's only two other full-length releases). But even after all this time, it's owning those instant classic Teddy Johns numbers -- like "Baby It's True," "One Day Is a Lifetime," "Wonderful to Be With" and the 1982 smash single, "Just What I Always Wanted" -- on compact disc that still makes me smile. And 50 bucks and barely being able to eat that week in the City of Angels still feels like a small price to pay.

  "Just What I Always Wanted": Not one Picasso, he'll give me a pair ...  

  "Beat the Beat": You're hyperactive, so attractive ...


Scooter said...

OMG, I used to make a pilgrimage to Tower on Sunset Blvd every week and meticulously scan the imports. (I still have a shrine dedicated to Prime Cuts records on SM Blvd.)

Loved the Mari memories! Thanks for the post!!!

John said...

Did you know Julia Fordham was one of the Wilsations?

Me neither until a commenter on my blog pointed it out.

Anonymous said...

LOVE this post! Show People was a treasured slab of vinyl for me, and i still take out the album just to stare at the gorgeous artwork. Her beehive ruled. It took me forever to finally get Mari on CD, but years ago i bought Marigold, a Japanese compilation that had most (but not all) of her stuff, but annoyingly it didnt have every song from Show People. Luckily there is an inexpensive UK Platinum Collection out now which has all of Show People and stuff including her fab cover of "Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps" that you might want to check out. Are you aware of the compilation called A Young Person's Guide to Compact? It came out in the early 80s and was reissued on CD - has Mari and other acts from the Brit label Compact. By the way, if you arent familiar with her, Virna Lindt is a very cool Mari contemporary you might enjoy. Her shtick was that "60s mod girl plays undercover spy" sort of thing - she's a cute Swedish chick with very cool 60s styled vocals. I spent a ton to get her two albums on CD years ago, and of course they've both been reissues with bonus tracks now. Anyway, I've yet to meet anyone who even knew about Mari, hence my continued gushing when i read something you wrote that corresponds so closely to my own 80s life. One more bit of Mari - again, sorry if you already know this...but she has an album coming out in the UK on Sept 29th - called Emotional Glamour. Also, she's touring all over the UK in the fall ... wish i could go!

jamesasaljr said...

I was lucky enough to be visiting the UK when both the compilations were released in '92-- and I snapped them up immediately. These days both CD's trade hands for ridiculous amounts on eBay.

Ronald van Veen said...

I thought you might be interested in the latest news from Mari Wilson.

Mari Wilson is well known for her hits "Just what I always wanted" and "Baby it's true" in the 80's.
Later on she played Dusty Springfield in "Dusty the Musical" and she released 3 more critically aclaimed albums in the 90's and 00's.
She also sang the theme song for the BBC-series "Coupling", a version of "Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps".
Now she regularly tours in the UK, as a solo artist but also with Barb Jungr and Gwyneth Herbert with their show "Girl Talk".

But what's that latest news???
Well, Mari Wilson is about to release a new album called "Covers".
But she does that in a rather unfamiliar way...
Mari Wilson has joined to release her next album!
This is what she said about on her own website:

"At last, we're ready to launch the campaign for my new upcoming album. This time, an album of covers and the whole approach is completely different from anything I've ever done before. This time it means you and I can be involved together in the whole process. You'll see that there are different things you can pledge for to help us get this album made and there is a widget for a free download of a Dusty Springfield song to give you an idea of what's to come. Also if you click on the Pledge Badge below, it will take you to the site where there is a video blog and all the information you need. I'll be updating constantly. Let me know what
you think. More soon. Thanks, Mari"

No go to for more info.

Also visit for more info about Mari Wilson herself!

Mind you, I live in the Netherlands and I am not a manager or promotor. I'm just a big fan of Mari Wilson and just like to spread the news for her. I also do so via my own website and my personal
facebook page.

Best wishes,

Ronald van Veen
The Netherlands