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Monday, March 2, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 8.0° F  Fair
The Daily
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Vinyl Cave: Dollar bin diving with Bim, Exile, Black Rose

Here's a batch of '70s refugees (essentially) I wanted to hear at least once.

Bim: Thistles
Along with wondering "What the hell is a 'Bim?'" the front cover of this one was intriguing enough for me to turn it over and try to find out more. It shortly went into my stack of purchases upon noticing a producer credit for Emitt Rhodes, a proto-power pop legend who essentially retired from performing/recording his own music (for the public, at least) in the early '70s at age 24. With a quick online search, it turns out Bim's real name is Roy Forbes, and he's a fairly well known singer-sognwriter in his native Canada with a few Juno Award nominations to his credit. The bio on his website doesn't explain what "Bim" is, but thankfully Canadian Bands does -- it's a childhood nickname.

His lone Elektra album offers re-recordings of some songs from earlier albums as well as new material, and the sessions featured studio heavyweights such as pianist David Foster and drummer Jeff Porcaro. To my ears, the label may have been better leaving Bim to operate in a more folk-based manner, as the best song here is the lone solo acoustic number; Rhodes' production is fairly stripped down for the most part but also glossy-late-'70s-L.A.-nondescript. Forbes has a unique voice and his songs are good, so I'd check out his Canadian releases if I ran across them (Elektra 6E-132, 1978)

Exile: Exile
Exile had been around for about a decade and half when they burst onto the Billboard charts in a big way in late 1978, hitting No. 1 with "Kiss You All Over." (I'll leave my opinion about that song out of this.) Further pop success was scant, but they adapted and found much country success in the '80s. Going back farther, though, there's a string of fairly obscure, decent singles from the late '60s forward as The Exiles.

Somewhat surprisingly, their first, self-titled LP was produced by former Dunwich honcho Bill Traut! Perhaps more surprisingly, the hugely successful '80s lineup recently reunited for a new record and live shows. Their Wooden Nickel LP is well played, tight '70s pop with a bit of a Southern rock flavor, and some occasional Chicago-y horns. It's also nearly all covers, including a strange, prog-pop take on "Jesus is Just Alright." (

Black Rose: Black Rose
Another self-titled debut, Black Rose was a short-lived attempt at changing direction by a major star. One has to read the credits to discover that the lead singer of the band is Cher, though the sharp-eyed may notice her picture on the back cover if encountering this album. Musically, this is sort of a melange of new wave and hard rock, with Cher singing in a much rougher style than usual. My inner 13-year old also enjoys all the somewhat extraneous curse words Cher throws in here and there. It's an interesting attempt at a new direction, which may have just been a bit ahead of its time; Cher would have quite a bit of success with a somewhat similar sound later in the '80s. (Casablanca 7234, 1980)

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