The Strange Tale Of "Blue Roses"
By: Jimi LaLumia
In recent times,many folks have inquired about an album called "Blue Roses" by Cherry Vanilla and Man Parrish.The ESP DISK label, who released "JImi LaLumia & The Psychotic Frogs Greatest Hits! Live At Max's Kansas City"in 1993, had "Roses" listed in their catalog, release number and everything, but the truth is that they never released it, never even had a copy in their hands. I had suggested it to them around the time that they picked up my "Max's" album,but it never came to be. In 1987,"Roses" had made the rounds as a cassette tape,a collaboration between Warhol/Bowie/glam/punk star Vanilla,and early 80's dance pioneer Man Parrish, who had been a Bowie/Vanilla devotee in the 70's, and had included Cherry on his "Hip Hop Be Bop Don"t Stop"album: Vanilla sang on a track called "Together Again"."Hip Hop Be Bop" was a huge dance hit worldwide,especially in NY, where Parrish's unique sounds and vision had an underlying influence on both club music and hip hop.
Rising Punk Globe star Gus Bernadicou ,a true Vanilla fan, contacted me about "Roses" and we launched a petition on Facebook to get this finally released. After several false starts, former Mainman president Tony Zanetta provided an original cassette copy,more rare than gold,which Parrish cleaned up and has made available as a free download on
Unlike Vanilla's two RCA UK albums,"Bad Girl" and "Venus D Vinyl", "Roses" was indicative of the early days of Vanilla, when her truthful,snarky,charming rhymes were set to music in rooms like Trude Heller's and Max's Kansas City, a forerunner of rap in many ways. As it turns out, "Roses" is a stunning collection of bits and pieces of 'life' snapshots,some only a minute and a few seconds long. It is this version of Vanilla that David Bowie had expressed interest in recording, her 'electric beatnik' side, as she describes it in her "Lick Me' autobiography.
It's a shame that she never got to share this side of herself during her RCA days,but in some ways, "Roses" sounds more contemporary now than it did then. Vanilla's spin is so unique,so hippie/punk, that downtown hipsters would feel right at home with "Roses". Rocknroll it is not, except in spirit,and Vanilla's delivery, her amazing,hypnotic voice,so remindful of late night 70's FM rock radio(Alison Steele, the "nightbird" anyone?)that I have to wonder why Cherry is not doing voice over work for radio and tv commercials, as she was doing in the early 70's for all those Bowie commercials.I would love to see a limited edition,'blue vinyl' version of this show up someday.
Treat yourself, and download "Blue Roses"; after all, it's a free download,and you haven't lived till you hear "Walkin & Thinkin" or "Aristotle",two of the blunt slices of life that Cherry Vanilla and Man Parrish offered up 24 years ago,and then lost track of. Job well done, Gus... oh, and by the way, ESP DISK.. eat your hearts out.