Winter is continuing to beat me down here in New York, so here’s something as frigid as the weather has been lately. We’ll just ignore the fact that this cold, minimal gem comes from down under, where the temperatures are as warm as the reefs are deadly. I’m also drinking a cup of cold coffee as I drink this, so seems like an apt time to post. Thanks especially to Bruce for ripping his copy of this incredibly scarce single, which I’m told recently sold for over 500 Australian dollars! That’s one expensive cup of coffee…
This particular Australian gem was released in 1981. The central character here, with a beautifully sad voice is Karen Marks, with The Metronomes/Modern Jazz/Thealonian Music’s Ash Wednesday appearing as a musical partner. He is credited as producer, but also co-wrote the b-side. As for Karen, there’s no information to be found about her, though she did sing backup on Ash’s equally scarce and equally cold but slightly more aggressive Love By Numbers 7” (occasionally credited as Karen Marx). Despite keeping a low profile, she still appears to be in league with Ash, appearing live in 2012 to perform “Love By Numbers” at the Crystal Bowlroom in St. Kilda. Check that out after the download link.
While “Won’t Wear It Too Long” features a more full arrangement and feels like more of an a-side, I go especially nuts for the title track, a melancholy love letter ripe with restrained desperation. That said, both song seem to tell a similar tale of lost love by the television, with a cup of coffee being the central metaphor. No matter which side you prefer, both tracks have that certain je ne sais quoi that makes these kind of singles so cherished, despite how off-the-grid they are.
As far as I understand, this single was issued without a picture sleeve, so all we have is a nondescript center label…
Karen Marks- Cold Café 7”
1. Cold Café
2. Won’t Wear It For Long
As promised, here’s a live performance of Ash Wednesday’s “Love By Numbers” from 2012, with Karen performing her trademark backing vocals: