THE DISSENTING VOICE(S) IN THE ROOM

A few weeks back, the good folk at the BBC loaded onto their own dedicated digital channel something around 150 performances from bygone years at Glastonbury as a way of filling some space in the absence of the festival taking place in 2020.  A number of the headline performances stayed up for 30 more days which is why myself and Rachel were able to sit down a few days later and finally watch the David Bowie set from 2000.

Social media went absolutely crazy at the time the BBC was showing it ‘as live’; it was the first time the entire show had been seen as the agreement back in 2000 with Bowie was that only the opening segments and part of the encore could go out over the airwaves.  It’s regarded by many as the best ever Glastonbury headlining show and among one of Bowie’s greatest performances, with the setlist consisting of many of his best-known and best-loved songs, as well as a smattering of new tunes (new in 2000 that is).

But here’s the thing…..neither of us at Villain Towers were that blown away by it.

Rachel is, of course, spoiled by the fact that at the age of 14 she was present at the Green’s Playhouse (later the Apollo) in Glasgow in 1973 when Ziggy Stardust was being toured, and there’s nothing that can beat that.  She thought that the songs from that era, and indeed the rest of the 70s, as seen and heard at Glastonbury felt and looked as if they were being performed by a Bowie impersonator backed by a group of musicians who wouldn’t have been out of place at a swanky Las Vegas hotel.  And I’m not disagreeing.

She had been really looking forward to the show having read all the fawning comments across social media and within the mainstream media reviews, especially as so many had focussed on the fact the songs had come from the entire canon.  When the band left the stage after the final encore, she turned to me and asked ‘Is that it?’  The closing two songs of Let’s Dance and I’m Afraid of Americans was not what she was hoping for or expecting.

Glastonbury setlist

1. Wild Is the Wind
2. China Girl
3. Changes
4. Stay
5. Life on Mars?
6. Absolute Beginners
7. Ashes to Ashes
8. Rebel Rebel
9. Little Wonder
10. Golden Years
11. Fame
12. All the Young Dudes
13. The Man Who Sold the World
14. Station to Station
15. Starman
16. Hallo Spaceboy
17. Under Pressure
Encore:
18. Ziggy Stardust
19. “Heroes”
20. Let’s Dance
21. I’m Afraid of Americans

It led to us to recall the time we had seen Bowie in each other’s company, back in 1990 at the appalling Ingliston Showgrounds in Edinburgh – a venue that is just about the worst imaginable in terms of sound and yet managed to provide something really special on this occasion. The setlist from that night was the sort of thing that Rachel had believed she would now be watching from the comfort of the living room:-

1. Space Oddity
2. Changes
3. TVC15
4. Rebel Rebel
5. Golden Years
6. Be My Wife
7. Ashes to Ashes
8. John, I’m Only Dancing
9. Queen Bitch
10. Fashion
11. Life on Mars?
12. Blue Jean
13. Let’s Dance
14. Stay
15. China Girl
16. Ziggy Stardust
17. Sound and Vision
18. Station to Station
19. Alabama Song
20. Young Americans
21. Panic in Detroit
22. Suffragette City
23. Fame
24. “Heroes”
Encore:
25. The Jean Genie
26. Pretty Pink Rose
27. Modern Love
28. Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

Looking back, it was something of a perverse ending at Ingliston with Pretty Pink Rose during the encore having folk scratching their heads as it was a duet with guitarist Adrian Belew that had been released as a single about six weeks earlier and very few knew it, followed by a well-known but not exactly highly-loved single. But what a way to rescue things and send the crowd home absolutely buzzing.

I know these things are subjective and the absolutely ideal set would have incorporated songs from both Glastonbury and Ingliston, but overall the vast majority would surely have been from those aired back in 1990 and not 2000.  I’d loved to have heard Wild Is The Wind, The Man Who Sold The World and Starman, but surely the Glasto audience deserved to hear Queen Bitch, Sound and Vision, Suffragette City, The Jean Genie and Rock’n’Roll Suicide– it was the absence of the last three on that list that really irked Rachel!

I asked her the next morning if she had changed her mind about being disappointed with the Glastonbury show. Her reply was that maybe she had overreacted a little but it was a response to feeling she had watched something that had over-promised and under-delivered. She also reiterated that the musicians on stage at Glastonbury had annoyed her – she knew they were incredibly talented and skillful but she couldn’t really classify them as a band – certainly not in comparison to the Ziggy tour or indeed the different and smaller number of musicians who shared the stage at Ingliston.

mp3: David Bowie – Queen Bitch
mp3: David Bowie – Changes
mp3: David Bowie – Rock’n’Roll Suicide

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 5)

This week’s words are courtesy of The Robster:-

One thing that is noticeable when you study R.E.M.’s discography is how many amazing songs were not released as singles. But perhaps more baffling is the list of tracks they DID put out as 45s and how many of them are considered among the weakest in the band’s canon.

Following the critical success of their first two records, R.E.M. took a drastically different approach to the recording of their third. Relocating to London, they chose to work with English producer Joe Boyd rather than Mitch Easter and Don Dixon. It rained nearly every day, the band grew increasingly homesick, and by the time it was released they were reputedly close to breaking up. Yet I consider ‘Fables Of The Reconstruction’ one of R.E.M.’s best albums.

It marked a turn in the band’s songwriting style. Musically, it drew on southern folk music, and Boyd’s experience in the folk genre probably helped the sound to evolve on record. There was also a shift in Michael Stipe’s lyrics, moving away from the unintelligible, esoteric nature of the early songs to that of a more storytelling bent, words you could actually make sense of. There was a real sense of beauty in these songs in spite of what was happening internally at the time.

So it seems strange, looking back, why the label chose to release the least representative song on the record as its first single. Cant Get There From Here (no apostrophe – deliberate) opened side two and to say it sounds out of place would be an understatement. It has a kind of pseudo-funk feel, a horn section, and Stipe almost sounding like Elvis in places. It’s a real oddball song, unlike anything the band recorded before or since. They didn’t even play it live after 1986.

It’s a shame really, as there were so many other great songs on ‘Fables’ that would have served as better introductions to the album. In the US, both Driver 8 and Life And How To Live It were put out (the latter admittedly only as a promo). If it were down to me, I’d have picked Maps And Legends. But no, we got the album’s novelty tune, which when thinking about how Rockville was the band’s previous single, makes me wonder how exactly did the label view R.E.M.? For all the amazing songs they had at this stage, it’s the almost comedy moments that were chosen to highlight the band to the public. And it didn’t end here – we come to Stand and Shiny Happy People at some point in the future, and they were for a different label entirely.

Did the label think the band took themselves too seriously? Did the band insist on these songs as singles in order to dispel that very myth? Whatever way you look at it, Cant Get There From Here will not be remembered as one of R.E.M.’s finest moments, it’s nothing more than a disposable, jokey pop song.

The 7” release featured an edited version on the a-side, while the b-side contained another lighthearted moment, the really rather silly Bandwagon. In the sleevenotes of ‘Dead Letter Office’, Peter Buck described it thus: “This song was originally called ‘the fruity song’ because of all the stupid chord changes. Still one of the funniest songs we’ve written.”

As for the 12”, well the cover misled us into thinking we were getting an ‘extended version’ of Cant Get There From Here, which was rather naughty as what we actually got was the bog-standard LP version. Bandwagon also featured on the flip along with a track Charity Chic featured recently in his Heaven/Hell seriesBurning Hell. Yet another in- joke, it’s the band’s attempt to make a heavy metal song. It’s not very good at all, as most of the commenters to CC’s piece seemed to agree on.

This could go down as one of R.E.M.’s worst single releases, even as fond as I am of Bandwagon. None of the songs can be taken seriously or as representative of R.E.M. or the ‘Fables’ album, which probably didn’t help people’s perception of it at the time or since.

mp3: R.E.M. – Cant Get There From Here (edit)
mp3: R.E.M. – Bandwagon
mp3: R.E.M. – Burning Hell
mp3: R.E.M. – Cant Get There From Here (12″ release)

The Robster

RECALLING A JULY WEEKEND 10 YEARS AGO

The usual Saturday feature has been put aside this week to allow me to pull together a posting based on stuff that was on the old blog ten years ago.  It’s a lengthy post but I do hope you’ll stick with it and give it a read.

The picture above is a flyer, designed by Drew of Across The Kitchen Table, to publicise three nights on which a group of local bloggers would come together and play, from vinyl, a selection of tunes in The Flying Duck, a Glasgow city-centre bar which also has an adjacent space used as a live venue/club.

The second of the nights was Saturday 10 July 2010.  As it turned out, only myself and North Country Boy (NCB) could manage along that night, one that I was really looking forward to as Kid Canaveral were playing in the adjacent space, with the set kicking off straight after we had finished around 11pm.  Here’s what was aired on the evening:-

ANCB

Primal Scream – Higher Than The Sun (American Spring Mix)
NERD – Provider (Zero 7 Mix)
A Man Called Adam – Barefoot In the Head
D Note – The Garden Of Earthly Delights (Original Mix)
Kate Bush – Running Up The Hill (Ashley Beedle Re-Edit)
DJ Food – Peace Part 1 (Harvey’s Persuasion Mix)
Rae & Christian – Spellbound
808 State feat James Dean Bradfield – Lopez (Propellerheads Mix)

JC

Public Image – Public Image
Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck
The Smiths – The Headmaster Ritual
Elvis Costello – The Ugly Things
Orange Juice – Love Sick
Arab Strap – Speed Date
The Clash – The Magnificent Seven
Frightened Rabbit – Be Less Rude
Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Come Saturday
The Wedding Present – It’s A Gas
The Fall – Mr Pharmacist
Friends Again – South Of Love
Cats On Fire – Tears In Your Cup
James – What For
Bourgie Bourgie – Careless

ANCB

Love Unlimited Orchestra – Strange Games & Things
The O’Jays – For The Love Of Money
Barkays – You Cant Run Away
4 Hero – Les Fleur
Lee Dorsey – Night People
Gladys Knight & The Pips- Bourgie Bourgie
Rare Earth – I Just Want to Celebrate (Mocean Worker Mix)
Temptations – Just My Imagination (DJ Jazzy Jeff & Pete Kuzma Remix)
KRS I – Sound Of Da Police
Primal Scream – Come Together (BBG Remix)

JC

Chemical Bros – Block Rocking Beats
David Bowie – Boys Keep Swinging
Echo & the Bunnymen – Never Stop
Kirsty MacColl – A New England
Sons & Daughters – Dance Me In
REM – Finest Worksong (Lengthy Club Mix)
Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream
Iggy Pop – The Passenger
Butcher Boy – Profit In Your Poetry
Meursault – A Few Kind Words
The Clash – Bankrobber

ANCB

Primal Scream – Dont Fight It , Feel It (Whistling Mix)
Ella Fitzgerald – Sunshine Of Your Love (Rockers Hi-Fi Mix)
A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray (GW Edit)
Adamski – One Of The People (Ashley Beedle Mix
Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug (GW Edit)
Sister Sledge – Lost In Music (12″ Mix)
Stevie Wonder – Masterblaster (Jammin) (12″ Disco Mix)

JC/ANCB

Orange Juice – I Can’t Help Myself (12″ mix)
The Smiths – This Charming Man (New York Remix)
Fire Engines – Candyskin
Sugardaddy – Love Honey (GW Edit)
Kid Creole & The Coconuts – Wonderful (GW Edit)
Associates – Party Fears Two
The Trash Can Sinatras – Only Tongue Can Tell
Soup Dragons – Lovegod Dub
Red Guitars – Marimba Jive
The Third Degree – Mercy
The Charlatans – North Country Boy
James – Hymn From A Village
Kid Canaveral – Smash Hits
The Jam – Beat Surrender
Louis Armstrong – Wonderful World

It was a fun night, not packed but busy enough that a few folk enjoyed some dancing and I was really pleased that members of Kid Canaveral popped in for a short while after sound-checking.  It had been a long night and neither myself or ANCB had the energy to go and see the band, so we packed the vinyl and got in a taxi back to Villain Towers where he was staying the night as his would have been a long trek back to his home some 30 miles away.

It was around 6am when the phone rang.

My dad was on the other end of the line to tell me that my brother David had been killed in a single-vehicle accident just outside a village called Leenane on the west coast of Ireland. He had died at the scene of the accident at just after 1am on Sunday 11 July 2010, which is probably about the time I had turned into bed after coming home from the club night.

David was 43 years of age.

He had moved to Westport in County Mayo in early 2008 and was on his way home from a night out, having left a nearby pub, where he had been drinking soft drinks all evening. The pub was about 600 yards from the scene of the accident which, as I would later learn from paying it a visit, was on a sharp bend with the road sitting above the water with no barrier protection. A later inquest found that the cause of death was a head injury and had likely been instant – Davie hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt, or more likely was trying to get it in place, while lighting his customary cigarette, when he lost control of the car. The weather conditions were foul and he most likely aquaplaned. We’ll never know.

Having taken that initial call, I woke up NCB and told him to make himself at home as I had to deal with an unexpected emergency and would be back in a few hours. Rachel drove me to my parents (they live some 20 minutes away on the other side of the city) where we tried to come to terms with what had happened and to decide what to do next.

My mum felt that my brother, who had something of an occasionally troubled life, had found peace in Ireland and that as such his funeral take place over there and his body should not be brought back to Scotland. At this point in time, I knew the phone numbers of just two people in Westport – one being the owner of The Helm, a well-known and popular gastro-pub/B&B establishment above which my brother had been living since he moved to the town two and a half years ago, and the other was the phone number of the workplace of my brother’s best friend.

All it took was one call to said landlord and things fell swiftly into place.

To the whole family’s astonishment and relief, a post-mortem was held within a matter of hours which allowed the body to be released into the care of a funeral director later the same day. By Sunday evening, some 18 hours after the accident, almost all the arrangements were provisionally in place – all we were waiting for was that one of the small number of crematoria in Ireland (it is very much a country for traditional burials) to be contacted when it opened on Monday morning.

One of the reasons we were able to act so quickly was that David, despite a string of girlfriends over the years, including at least two fiances, had never married and had no kids of his own.

On Tuesday morning, my mum, dad, myself, Rachel, a nephew and two family friends were on a plane to Dublin where we would meet my other brother Stevie who had flown in overnight from Florida having made his travel plans within hours of getting the sad news.

From Dublin, we took a train some 150 plus miles across the country to Westport, arriving there at 4pm on Tuesday afternoon. We were all guests of Vinny, Mary, Shane and Carolyn Keogh, the family who owned The Helm and who between them had made all the necessary arrangements to have the funeral held quickly after our arrival.

So many memories will remain with me of the next couple of days, not least that the funeral service on was incredibly busy with some 600 people in attendance, a sign that Davie had been much loved, respected and admired, and that his passing had brought a dark cloud above the entire community. The final journey was the day after the funeral. His body had lain in the church overnight where we returned to take it on a cross-country trip, by road, to Dublin as it was one of the very few places in Irland with a crematorium. On arrival, we met a few more members of the family and some of Davie’s oldest friends, all of whom had flown in from Glasgow that very morning.

After that service, we all went to a pub in Dublin for some food, drinks, talk before flying back to Glasgow, where he had left just two days earlier. Stevie, along with his two best friends from Glasgow who had made the trip to Ireland, stayed on an extra night as his flight back to Florida wasn’t till the Friday.

It was an incredible whirlwind of events. Six days between DJing and getting back home having survived largely on adrenalin and vodka. I collapsed in a heap when I got back to Vinyl Towers.

As it turned out, I had to make a couple more trips soon after back to Westport to sort out some paperwork etc. for Davie and then to represent the family at the Fatal Accident Inquiry. We also all went back as a family to scatter his ashes on the golf course at Westport and in the stretch of water that flows outside The Helm. I got to know a lot of people in the town during those trips and this led to me going over every July, on a weekend as close to the anniversary as possible. The first few trips I was joined by my dad until his health got so poor that he wasn’t fit enough to make the journey and then in 2016, my mum came over, for the first time in six years, during which she made a visit to the scene of the accident where his friends had erected a fine memorial….to Scottish Dave as he was fondly known in the town (we were amazed that, until the funeral, very few folk in the town outside of his work actually knew his surname was Clark!)

In recent years, my good friend Aldo has come over, with his first trip being July 2017. He’s grown as fond of the town as I have and he’s made a lot of friends, such is his love for Guinness and great pubs, of which there are many in Westport and the surrounding environs. We had great plans to commemorate the 10th Anniversary and to pay a fitting tribute to Davie, but the COVID-19 outbreak and all the restrictions surrounding it have led to us postponing things, hopefully for just a few months.

So…. in the absence of being able to be in Ireland, I’m using the blog to pay tribute to Davie.

He wasn’t a huge music fan, but he was an expert on all things Star Trek, Dr. Who, and their ilk. So here’s a couple of  tunes for him along with a song by a band that he did like:-

mp3: Alexander Courage – The Theme From Star Trek
mp3: Delia Derbyshire/Ron Granger – The Theme From Dr. Who
mp3: Marillion – Kayleigh

One final thing to say. The old blog obviously closed down for a few days while I was in Ireland, but ctel, from Acid Ted, looked after things and put the most wonderful and moving post up on the day of the funeral. If you’re reading this mate, then once again a huge thank you.

JC

 

SONGS FROM A SPAT

This posting has been in the pipeline for a while and I ended up pushing it back a couple of weeks as it makes for a neat postscript to Steve’s guest post on The Graveyard Shift.

I think it is fair to say that Marc Riley‘s departure from The Fall, and his subsequent success as a performer and broadcaster, got under the skin of Mark E Smith.

These are the words of Riley, in an interview given to an on-line publication back in 2013:-

And I think part and parcel of it is that if anyone left The Fall he wanted them to sink without trace, as if to say, ‘Without me they’re nothing.’ His contempt for musicians is well known….

So what rankled Mark more and more was that I just wouldn’t go away, even to the extent that one day he was driving to the train station and there was a massive billboard with Mark Radcliffe and I on it… it probably made him want to drive his car straight into the canal, because there’s this bloke from his past who just won’t go away. But I’m not a thorn in his side, he’s got a lot going on in his life, and he’s a very clever bloke, but he does say things for effect. But me and him had ding dongs in the press, and it was just so childish it was untrue, and we wrote songs about each other. I wrote ‘Jumper Clown’ and he wrote ‘Hey Marc Riley’ and ‘C.R.E.E.P.’, and so on. It was daft, really.

Jumper Clown was the second 45 to be released by Marc Riley after he left The Fall. It came out in 1983 and the tune, or a version of it, had originally been part of the setlists of live gigs by his old band in 1979. It was an untitled instrumental and the band never got round to recording a studio version. His version was recorded with a group of mates who would later become known as The Creepers, with the title very much aimed at Smith’s consistently disheveled appearance (this was all prior to Brix appearing on the scene and smartening him up)

mp3: Marc Riley – Jumper Clown

Hey! Marc Riley was another song that The Fall would incorporate into their live sets in 1984/85 but again, it wouldn’t be one that would ever seemingly have been recorded in the studio. It would take until 2007 before anything other than bootleg copies were available, thanks to a live version, recorded at Oskars’ Cornhusker, Azusa, California on 23 May 1985, was included in a Box Set.

Four years later, an omnibus edition of This Nation’s Saving Grace which also included rough mixes, outtakes and other newly discovered recordings from the era, offered up two versions of a song whose title had been shortened

mp3: The Fall – Ma Riley (rough mix)
mp3: The Fall – Ma Riley

It has since been revealed that the studio version, which was produced by John Leckie, had been considered as a possible b-side to Cruiser’s Creek.

The Wedding Present offered up a kind of surf/TWP hybrid of The Creepers song as a b-side to It’s A Gas, released in 1994

mp3: The Wedding Present – Jumper Clown

JC

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL JAZF ’93 (Part 2)

Yesterday’s introduction should have given you all the background you need to know.  I’ll just cut straight to the chase.

B1: That Summer Feelin’ – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers

You don’t have to be American to get all the references in this lovely tribute to the warmest of our four seasons, albeit it’s only in the USA that you’ll end up doing many of things the lyrics refer to.    There’s a six minute-plus version that can be found on the 1992 solo album I, Jonathan, but it was the original take, as released on the 1983 band album Jonathan Sings! that JAZF included on one of his tapes.  Looking things up, the 83 album was given a CD reissue in 1993 so I’m guessing that was how it was sourced.

B2: Invisible Man – The Breeders

A second appearance for Kim & co on the tape.  I’m sure I included this as a bit of an in-joke as JAZF hadn’t actually meant to include it on the initial tape it had first appeared, but he’d got so wrapped up in listening to Cannonball that he forgot to press either of the pause or stop buttons and it ran into the next song.  A very happy accident as far as I’m concerned.

B3: Like A Hurricane – Neil Young

I’d avoided the old hippy until now.  Neil Young was associated with the jukebox that was in the corner of the games room in the student union, over which stood permanently the long-haired, combat-jacket wearing crowd who seemed to have it rigged up to churn out early 70s rock classics as if we were stuck on a loop of Bob Harris-fronted editions of The Old Grey Whistle Test.  JAZF told me that a new live album by Neil Young, recorded as part of an MTV Unplugged show, was one of the best albums of 1993 and he kept putting a track from it on each monthly tape.  Turned out, he was right.  He usually is.

B4: Going Out With God – Kinky Machine

London-based indie band of the early 90s, this was the debut single from 1992, released on an indie label, and as with so many throughout history, they signed soon after to a major, MCA; but two albums and a handful of singles in 93/94 sold in minuscule numbers.  I had a soft spot for this track back in the day but it hasn’t aged well and sounds more than a tad indie-by-numbers.

B5: Bizarre Love Triangle – Devine and Statton

In 1990, the singer with Young Marble Giants had teamed up with the guitarist from Ludus, an art-rock band of the late 70s from Manchester.  Their material was released on the Belgian-based Les Disques Du Crépuscule, and this beautifully understated cover version ‎of the New Order song had been issued as a single in 1989. No idea why it took JAZF four years to bring it to my attention….

B6: Lucky Like St Sebastian – Momus

I mentioned Momus a few weeks back on the Scottish songs rundown. This is the opening track on his 1986 album Circus Maximus, a work that focusses on biblical themes and the folklore of Ancient Rome. This would have been included on a tape after a pub conversation in which I would have admitted to knowing very little about Momus. JAZF has often been ahead of the curve, musically speaking.

B7: Hear No Bullshit (On Fire Mix)/Enough Is Enough – Chumawamba/Credit To The Nation

My recollection of this is that JAZF put all three tracks from Enough Is Enough, the June 1993 single recorded by Chumawamba/Credit To The Nation on a tape on the very evening he bought the single and he handed it to me the next morning. I then went out and bought my own copy the next again day. The anti-fascist message of the songs resonated enough that I ended up putting two of them on the end of year compilation.

B8: How – The Cranberries

Everyone in the UK would go nuts for The Cranberries in 1994 on the back of the re-release of the singles Linger and Dreams that brought them the initial chart success. JAZF was already onto them, having picked up debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? that had been released in March 1993, from which he picked out this outstanding piece of music for my entertainment and enjoyment. RIP Dolores.

B9: Fuzzy – Grant Lee Buffalo

The title track from the band’s 1993 debut album, one that slipped under the radar of most folk until Michael Stipe, in an end-of-the-year round-up said it has been his record of the year, The curve etc…..

B10: Birthday (Tommy D Mix) – Sugarcubes

Despite loving Sugarcubes, I didn’t have all that much free money that I could go out and splash out recklessly on the 1992 remix album, It’s It. Besides, I loved the original versions so much that I didn’t really care that some underground DJs had tweaked them, most likely beyond recognition. Got that wrong, didn’t I??

B11: Children of the Revolution – Baby Ford

Another one dating from 1989, its inclusion would have JAZF continuing my education from my ‘lost years’. From recollection, I put it on at the end of the tape as it fitted nicely in terms of the time available and it followed on well from Bjork & co. It’s a very good and interesting dance/electro take on the glam rock smash by T.Rex some 20+ years previous.

Hope you’ve all enjoyed this small diversion and some recollections from a by-gone era.

In the meantime, here, just like yesterday, are all the tracks as a single mix (which goes a little bit beyond 45 mins as I could only source an extended version of the final song)

mp3: Various – Now That’s What I Call JAZF ’93 (side B)

JC

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL JAZF ’93 (Part 1)

I’ve mentioned on quite a number of occasions that my commuting journeys from Glasgow to Edinburgh between 1990 and 1995 were made bearable from constantly listening to tapes on a Sony Walkman, many of which had been specially curated by Jacques the Kipper.  I was rifling through some old things the other day, for a future feature on t’blog, when I came across a C90 tape in which I had then curated his material, taking all of the stuff he handed over in 1993 and making a ‘best of’ with the title Now That’s What I Call JAZF ’93.

The first part of the title, as you would rightly guess, came from the long-running series of various artists compilation albums which had begun in 1983. The JAZF came from the initials he used as the opening part of any reference he was creating in office correspondence – the Z is superfluous in his full name but you’ve got to admit that it looks cool.

Here’s the first of the two sides of the story. Part 2 comes tomorrow.

It’s just occurred to me that many of my slightly younger blogging colleagues will have, at this point in time, be out in fields having a lot of fun dancing etc. I was drowning out the cackle of fellow train passengers with loud guitars, for the most part.

A1: Eject (Over Zealous Mix) – Senser

A ‘politically charged UK rap rock band’ (in the words of wiki), who burst onto the scene in 1993 with two singles,, of which this was the debut. The following year would see the debut album and the group is still active nowadays.

A2: Supermodel/Superficial – The Voodoo Queens

An Asian-fronted, London-based, riot grrrl act formed by Anjali Bhatia who had recently left Mambo Taxi. The group would release five singles and one album between 1993 and 1995, and this was the debut.

A3: Nirvana – Juliana Hatfield

At the age of 25, she was already a veteran of the music scene having been part of the Blake Babies and The Lemonheads. This tribute to the grunge rockers was lifted the 1992 debut solo album, Hey Babe. The following year, with the formation of the Juliana Hatfield Three, she would gain some minor commercial success in the UK and USA. Still very active as a solo performer in 2020.

A4: Dollar Bill – Screaming Trees

Formed in a small town around 100 miles from Seattle, this rock band, fronted by Mark Lanegan, released seven albums between 1986 and 1996. This is lifted from Sweet Oblivion (1992) which was their best-selling record. It’s fair to say that the stellar rise of Nirvana helped shine a light on Screaming Trees. The frontman, post-break-up of the band, has continued to use his magnificent baritone voice to great effect, collaborating with all sorts of singers and bands, not least a 7-year partnership with Isobel Campbell, formerly of Belle & Sebastian.

A5: Cannonball – The Breeders

Kim Deal stepping out of the shadows of Pixies to great effect. The previous album, Pod (1990), was decent, but Last Splash, from which this was the lead single, was an excellent listen from start to finish.

A6: Everything’s Ruined – Faith No More

Keeping the loud guitars going for a bit, this had been the third successive Top 30 hit in the UK for the long-running San Francisco-formed combo, all taken from immensely successful 1992 album, Angel Dust. I think it was the only track by Faith No More that JAZF actually liked and I found out later that he’d picked it up from its inclusion on a free CD given away with a magazine.

A7: American Guitars – The Auteurs

Well, it just had to fit onto the tape at this point didn’t it?

A8: Highway 61 Revisited – PJ Harvey

In which our Pol covered Bobby Z on her 1993 album, Rid Of Me.

A9: Low Self Opinion – Rollins Band

My, oh my, I’d forgotten just how shouty and angry this is in places. Henry Rollins is a god in the eyes of the hardcore punk cognoscenti and he is, to be fair, a very entertaining and engaging individual, known as much these days for spoken word material as he is for songs such as this single from 1992.

A10: Don’t Worry Babe You’re Not The Only One Awake – The Nectarine No.9

This was my introduction to this relatively new band from Edinburgh, formed and fronted by Davy Henderson whose past groups had been Fire Engines and Win. The band stayed together from 1992-2004, releasing six albums of varying quality, although all of them had at least three or four songs of quality and distinction. This has always been one of my favourites, initially released in 1992 on the album A Sea With Three Stars and later re-recorded for the 1994 album, Guitar Thieves, which was issued by the resurrected Postcard Records.

A11: Don’t Shoot My Dog – Terrorvision

At this point in time, Terrorvision weren’t sure of the market they were chasing. They weren’t pure rock enough for the purists and they weren’t pop enough for the radio stations to pick up on. All that would change in future years with a dozen hit singles between 1994 and 2001. This was from debut album, Formaldehyde, released in the summer of 93. Again, I’m sure it originated from a magazine CD to begin with.

Side B of this tape will be posted tomorrow. I promise that it’s substantially different in substance and style with barely an electric guitar to be heard (as can be evidenced from the photo of the tape and the track listings above!!).

In the meantime, here’s everything from today as a single mix

mp3: Various – Now That’s What I Call JAZF ’93 (side A)

JC

I’M SO SORRY I ONLY PROVIDE LOW-RES TRACKS

According to Hype Machine, this blog, over the years, has posted more than 9,000 tracks. All of them, without exception, are at the low-end of the quality spectrum, made available at usually 128kpbs (kilobites per second), with the thought being that if someone really likes what they are hearing, they will make efforts to purchase a physical or digital copy of the song in question.

I’ve no plans to change things, but there are days when I feel I am sort of cheating everyone but not offering better quality rips, especially of some of the vinyl as it now sounds after I recently purchased a very decent Audio-Technica USB turntable (along with a new amp and speakers). I’ve actually gone on a bit of a spending spree, buying new and second-hand vinyl, just for the experience of hearing some great tunes at their very best.

One of the 12″ singles obtained on the second-hand market was the first big hit for The Charlatans, back in 1990. The version of The Only One I Know isn’t any different from that which was provided on the later editions of the album Some Friendly (the initial copies didn’t include The Only One I Know as the band was keen that the album shouldn’t have multiple singles on it, but commercial pressures soon brought a change).

Trust me, the vinyl sounds absolutely tremendous coming out of the speakers, especially when I turn the volume up just that little bit more than I should if I want to stay friends with the neighbours, but you’ll have to make do with the usual 128kpbs:-

mp3: The Charlatans – The Only One I Know

The two tracks that come on the b-side are also well worth a listen:-

mp3: The Charlatans – Imperial 109 (edit)
mp3: The Charlatans – Everything Changed

The former is an instrumental that must surely have been considered by some of the remix DJs back in the day as being the sort of raw materials they loved to get their hands on. The latter is a track whose inclusion on Some Friendly would have lifted the quality of the final product – the band members have admitted on numerous occasions that the debut album was a bit rushed and suffered from them not really having written enough great songs by the time they went into the studio.

Excuse me while I give these another spin on the turntable. Sorry you can’t be here.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #256: THE AFFECTIONATE PUNCH

This, without any question, is a first in this very long-running series as the ICA features a band/collective whose releases have not yet found their way into any shops and are available only as digital downloads from bandcamp.  Nor are there any publicity photos out there to give you a glimpse at the great folk who are part of The Affectionate Punch in one way or another.

TAP came to my attention initially via an e-mail, with G, the main brains and talents behind everything, introducing himself as both a fan of the blog and as someone who was friendly with Carlo, one of my good mates from Simply Thrilled and who has long posted here as Strangeways.

Indeed, it was Strangeways who provided the first-ever posting on TAP on this blog, back in June 2019, when he provided this introduction:-

“So DIY in spirit that their songs should be sold by B&Q, The Affectionate Punch have been releasing music online since November 2018.

This is a Glasgow-based ‘thing’ – yes, they’re a band, but no, they don’t tour – and probably they’re best described, really, as ‘a project’.

Each TAP song is led by speed and momentum, with almost every number taken from spontaneous idea to completed, listenable take, artwork (and, often, an accompanying video) in just a few hours. The rush is an essential ingredient, and a few songs have been abandoned midway when it’s clear they’d require lengthy noodling.

TAP explores a few styles of music, in general, you’d find them in the Indie aisle, probably between the Twee and Shoegaze sections. Led by just one person in one room, lurking close by, and keenly watched by the not-obvious-at-all store detective, would be a gang of contributors: Paul McKeever, a singer/songwriter from Larbet, Scotland, Marshmallow Fortresses, a musician from the San Francisco Bay Area, USA and, most regularly, Amanda Sanderson, a singer from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. As a non-musician myself, it is astonishing to me that this is largely a one-man band. Did I say band? I meant project. A one-man project, albeit one that welcomes these contributions.

The songs? They’re created for fun above all, and are led by guitars, keyboards, loops and samples – not to mention the odd peppering of toy orchestra lurking low in the mix.

And, yes, Associates fans: the project is named after the band’s debut LP. An Associates sample was being used on a previous project and this inspired the entire TAP idea. I love it when pop does stuff like that.”

Over the past 13 months, TAP have been prolific, with 16 separate releases – 8 singles, 6 EPs, 1 full LP and 1 mini-LP – all available via Bandcamp. 66 tracks in all, covering a range of genres as outlined by Strangeways. There’s even a few cover versions thrown in, and, as was mentioned in March 2020, your humble scribe realised a long-held ambition of being part of a recorded piece of music with a spoken word contribution to one of the tracks on one of the EPs.

I’ve devoured all of the TAP releases and reckon there’s material for a couple of ICAs but have given myself the difficult task of narrowing it down to just 10 songs to fit on two sides of vinyl. I’m sure you’ll all find something of interest among the songs. Some of the text below has been lifted from Bandcamp.

SIDE A

1. Scars I (from Scars EP, released 1 March 2020)

“The idea of a Scars e.p. came about following 2 individual comments that suggested the possibility of differing vocal interpretations of The Affectionate Punch songs. This was mulled over with interest resulting in a resounding yes.”

The vocal on Scars I is courtesy of Holocaust Nancy, whose solo material over on the Soundcloud page has been described as a soundscape worthy of Spiritualized and having a feel akin to early Roxy Music. The voice is a perfect fit for what is an outstanding shoe-gazey piece of music.

2. Lo-Fi Dreamers (from Lo-Fi Dreamers EP, released 16 October 2019)

“Lo-fi Dreamers is paean to some of those wonderful bands / artists that helped shape my own musical journey. It’s available as a free download.”

And it made me think of early-era Stone Roses etc.

3. Betwixt and Between (from Bittersweet Me EP, released 1 December 2019)

“The e.p. aims to be uplifting but only you can decide if it meets its intended purpose.”

I featured this previously on the blog, offering the view that it was something wonderfully multi-layered and which found the TAP project leader channeling his inner Robin Guthrie. I stand by those words.

4. How To Write A Marshmallow Fortresses Song (from Daydream Nostalgia EP, released 23 March 2020)

As mentioned earlier, TAP is something of a one-man project but reliant on the occasional guest contribution (kind of like this blog you could say). This is one on which the lyric was written and sung by Marshmallow Fortresses, from the Bay Area on the west coast of the USA, and whose own material can be enjoyed via a Soundcloud page.

5. I Fear (single, released November 2019)

The timely mention of Soundcloud enables me to mention that you can also enjoy all The TAP songs via that particular medium, including 15 tracks that haven’t as yet, made it onto Bandcamp for a digital release. I Fear is one such track its accompanying video is here on You Tube. It is mentioned as being the debut single from TAP, which technically is true as its November 2019 release came after the debut album and two EPs. A very fine upbeat number, reminiscent at times of the C86/87/88 era, has a guest vocal from Amanda Sanderson.

SIDE B

1. Brittle Inside (from the Colour In The 70s/Brittle Inside single, released 4 April 2020)

The earliest material to be found on Bandcamp is So Long, Goodbye, an instrumental album from June 2019. The track Brittle Aside was later re-worked with a lyric and vocal contributed by Marshmallow Fortresses.

2. Life In Between (TAP remix) – Paul McKeever and Amanda Sanderson

Paul and Amanda have solo careers but have also been working together for quite some time, judging by their respective Soundcloud pages. This track of theirs was remixed by TAP around 15 months ago and posted as a You Tube video. It’s a perfect demonstration of the DIY and collaborative effort described by Strangeways when he wrote about TAP on this blog, but if you think the phrase DIY means lo-fo, ramshackle and amateurish, then have a listen to this song and prepare to be astounded.

3. Papercuts
4. Will We Ever Know? (both lifted from Those Fanzine Days mini-album, released 4 June 2020)

The newest release dropped onto Bandcamp last month, described as ” a collection of 6 songs and 1 bonus track collated as a mini LP. 3 songs had a limited release, as part of another project, and have since been remixed and remastered.”

These tracks are, in effect, the reason for this ICA. They sound quite different from the rest of the material – pop-orientated and veering towards something approaching a commercial sound. It’s as if TAP has discovered a new-found confidence to finally allow his voice to come to the fore, and in doing so he’s picked up the guitar and come up with some killer chords and riffs. Whether this is a new direction or a one-off nod to things of the past, only time will tell. But given that TAP, under other names, was heavily involved in the Glasgow fanzine scene back in the days, it may well be the latter.

5. Scars III (from Scars EP, released 1 March 2020)

Having opened up Side A with a vocal version of the song, I’ve taken the ego-trip and decided to close off the ICA with the spoken version, courtesy of yours truly, backed by The Additions, which was TAP polishing up my effort with some sound effects and backing vocals, to make into something dreamy, ethereal and majestic. It really is a perfect ending if you don’t mind me saying.

Here’s a list of places worth visiting if you’ve enjoyed some or all of ICA 256

Bandcamp

The Affectionate Punch – https://theaffectionatepunch.bandcamp.com/
Amanda Sanderson – https://amandasanderson.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud

Paul McKeever – https://soundcloud.com/paulmck/
Marshmallow Fortresses – https://soundcloud.com/marshmallow-fortress
Holocaust Nancy – https://soundcloud.com/holocaust-nancy
Amanda Sanderson – https://soundcloud.com/phoebeelena
The Affectionate Punch – https://soundcloud.com/theaffectionatepunch

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 4)

JC writes:-

I am thrilled, delighted and honoured that this new series is going to benefit from regular contributions by The Robster, one of the biggest and most knowledgable R.E.M. fans on the planet, as can be seen from various postings over the years at his excellent, albeit now occasional blog, Is This The Life?

He’s onboard this and next week, with more offerings in the pipeline for later on. Here’s his take on the fourth single to be released in the UK.

—————-

Before I start, I’d like to thank JC for offering me the chance to contribute to this series. He knows of my love and passion for one of the most influential bands in my life and I hope I can live up to the extremely high standard he has already set. I promise not to be too much of an anorak, and give JC the right to jettison any superfluous material, especially if he feels I’m ever being boring or just showing off – because I am more than guilty of that from time to time. Anyway…

R.E.M.’s earliest songs were simple, energetic rock and roll songs. While their songwriting dynamic took a couple years to gel, they did come up with a few songs that would grace their later repertoire. Look at ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’, for instance. Released in 1986, it contained no fewer than three songs composed way back in 1980: Just A Touch, Hyena and What If We Give It Away (at the time titled Get On Their Way). All The Right Friends, written by Buck and Stipe before they’d even met their future bandmates, was also demoed for Pageant, eventually turning up on a movie soundtrack in 2001.

While the band’s second album, 1984’s ‘Reckoning’ contained mainly brand new material, there were two songs that also dated from their earliest period – Pretty Persuasion and (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville. The former was an undoubted highlight of the album, but it was Rockville that was put out as the second single; a strange move considering it sounded like nothing else the band had put out to that point.

Rockville was written by Mike Mills as a plea to his then girlfriend Ingrid Schorr to not leave Georgia and return to her native Rockville, MD. In its earliest incarnation, it’s described by Peter Buck as “kinda like how Buddy Holly would’ve played it.” This live version, captured at Tyrone’s in the autumn of 1980 (as far as I’m aware, the earliest known recording of the band) bears that out. And before you ask, I don’t know who Paul was.

mp3: R.E.M. – (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (live, Tyrone’s 1980)

By the time 1984 swung around, Rockville had been made over. During studio sessions for ‘Reckoning’, the band gave it a country feel as a light-hearted nod to their country music-loving manager Bertis Downs. It always seemed destined to be a single, but the initial intention was not to include it on the album, instead to release it as a standalone single between ‘Reckoning’ and its follow-up. It did, however, make the final cut, but I can’t help but feel its placing – after the fragile, plaintive Camera, and before the politically-charged closer Little America – reduces it to a mere novelty.

The UK 7” featured an edited version of Rockville with a live version of Catapult, recorded in Seattle in 1984, on the flip. This live track appeared later as a bonus track on European CD reissues of ‘Reckoning’.

mp3: R.E.M. – (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (7″ edit)
mp3: R.E.M. – Catapult (live, Seattle 1984)

The 12” featured the full-length album version of Rockville, two more live tracks and Wolves, Lower from the ‘Chronic Town’ EP (though here its title was shortened to simply Wolves). The live songs on the 12”, 9-9 and Gardening At Night, were recorded in Paris on Good Friday 1984. Two different live versions of these songs were also included on that European CD reissue of ‘Reckoning’ but, despite various listings to the contrary, they were recorded in Boston, MA. and were not the Rockville b-sides.

mp3: R.E.M – (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (12″ version)
mp3: R.E.M. – Wolves
mp3: R.E.M – 9-9 (live, Paris 1984)
mp3: R.E.M. – Gardening At Night (live, Paris 1984)

In the band’s later years, Mike Mills took to singing the lead vocal of his song. This gorgeous abridged version, performed solo on VH1 Storytellers, is probably my favourite.

mp3: R.E.M – (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (live on VH1 Storytellers, NYC, 23rd October 1998)

The Robster

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #219 : MYLO

Edited from wiki:-

Myles MacInnes, better known by his stage name Mylo, is a Scottish electronic musician and record producer.

Mylo released his debut album, Destroy Rock & Roll in 2004, on the Breastfed Recordings label, which he co-owns. He produced the album on a computer in his own bedroom.

He has provided remixes for Scissor Sisters (“Mary”), Amy Winehouse (“Fuck Me Pumps”), The Knife (“You Take My Breath Away”), The Killers (“Somebody Told Me”), Sia (“Breathe Me”) and Moby (“Lift Me Up”). One of his works was a 2004 remix of Kylie Minogue’s No. 2 UK hit, “I Believe in You”, which appeared on the single that peaked at No. 3 on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart. His biggest chart success to date came in the autumn of 2005. This was when the single “Doctor Pressure”, a mash-up of his own song “Drop The Pressure” and Miami Sound Machine’s “Dr. Beat”, peaked at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. The single performed well in the US, especially on the Hot Dance Airplay and Hot Dance Club Play charts, where it jointly made the Top 10.

“Muscle Cars”, the follow-up single to “Doctor Pressure”, was a hit in the UK and European dance charts, reaching No. 1 on the UK Club Chart in November 2005, and No. 38 in the UK Singles Chart. The video that accompanied the single courted controversy as it featured two supposed Chinese spies – actually played by British actors Bruce Wang and Alex Liang – inventing an electronic fly to spy on the American president, George W. Bush – Mylo did not appear in the video.

In 2005, Mylo released a DJ mix titled Mylo’s Rough Guide to Rave, and was released as a covermount CD in Mixmag.

He contributed to a song, “Mars Needs Women”, to the War Child compilation album, Help!: A Day in the Life, released in September 2005, and was also featured on the Canadian compilation album, MuchDance, released in November 2006. In 2006, the track “Otto’s Journey” was used in a television commercial for Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing, featuring Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan.

BBC Radio 1 played a world exclusive of a track by Mylo on 23 January 2009. The title of the track is unconfirmed, however Radio 1 referred to it as ‘I’m Back’, because, as Annie Mac stated, “he (Mylo) sent it to us with the file titled I’m Back”. The same month, he released another DJ mix album cover mount in an issue of Mixmag, this time it was called The Return of Mylo, which contained his new song “Wings of Fire”.

There’s not been any music released for a long time. A couple of years back, Mylo spoke to the media and said he was on the comeback trail and hinted that legal reasons were behind his extended absence. He also informed a Scottish tabloid that his label had passed on Calvin Harris at the outset of his career, a decision the tabloid described as the dance scene equivalent of Decca Records passing on The Beatles. Given that Harris is now reckoned to have a personal fortune approaching £100m, I’d reckon that Mylo has had a few sleepless nights over that past few years.

mp3: Mylo – Drop The Pressure

Lots of swearing on this one. You’ve been warned.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #255: THE COMSAT ANGELS (2)

A GUEST POSTING by MIKE (Manic Pop Thrills)

JC had once challenged me to try an ICA on the Comsats and I’d had this piece 80% complete on my hard drive for several years when Echorich popped up with his own Comsats ICA a few weeks ago.

Fortunately, there wasn’t much of an overlap between our respective choices of songs (although inevitably their finest moment ‘Independence Day’ has had to be ditched) so I’ve been motivated to finally finish this piece.

Briefly, the Comsats are one of a number of bands I discovered from what I’d consider as a golden year – 1980. As a result, they’ve never been far from my heart. With the benefit of hindsight their career was a fascinating struggle between their own creative impulses and record companies demands for hits.

So, here’s a brief time jumping alternate history of the Comsat Angels which hopefully demonstrates some of those creative tensions whilst still highlighting the quality of the material.

1. Driving (from ‘My Mind’s Eye’, 1992)

After a hiatus of several years the band reconvened to make the seventh Comsat Angels album ‘My Mind’s Eye’ released on Crisis Records.

‘Driving’ was the lead single from what it is without doubt their most accessible album as, left to their own devices, the band pulled together all their experiences into a coherent statement.

Some might even argue that MME is the band’s finest record. I don’t think they’re right, I’d probably lean towards ‘Waiting For A Miracle’ if pushed, but they’re not as wrong as you might think if you’ve only heard the first four or five albums.

Of course, accessible or not, hardly anyone bought it.

2. Will You Stay Tonight? (from ‘Land’, 1983)

Dropped by Polydor after 3 critically acclaimed albums, somewhat inexplicably, Jive saw some form of hit potential in the band and fourth LP ‘Land’ was a not entirely successful attempt to mould their sound into something commercial.

The lead single from ‘Land’ is probably as far as the Comsats sound could have been taken into commercial territory whilst remaining recognisably them. And for me it works.

What didn’t work was the single’s distribution – I had to trail all over Glasgow on day of release to get it and the single only reached 81 in the charts. I can only assume that if the company had got their act together then the band might have had their first Top 40 hit. (Apparently, it’s also the only Comsats record in JC’s collection)*.

3. Do The Empty House (single, 1981)

After the strong critical showings of ‘WFAM’ and second LP ‘Sleep No More’, Polydor still seemed committed to the band and a new 45 ‘Do The Empty House’ was released just 3 months after ‘Sleep No More’. Initially issued as a double single with a re-recording of the band’s debut single on the second disk, ‘DTEH’ was undoubtedly a more radio friendly take on the band’s sound. Yet despite the extra push, it predictably failed to chart, as did the melancholic follow-up ‘It’s History’.

It’s perhaps not that surprising, given their status as failed singles, that neither single made it onto the band’s third LP ‘Fiction’, but that makes it all the more curious that their respective B-sides did!

4. The Cutting Edge (from ‘Chasing Shadows’, 1987)

Despite the way the Jive era ended the Comsats landed on their feet in securing a deal at Island Records due to the patronage of Robert Palmer. To be fair around the same time Island were also signing the likes of Julian Cope and the Triffids.

Their only Island LP ‘Chasing Shadows’ delivered a late night, organic take on their sound, but whilst it was great to hear the band making the sort of record that they wanted to make, ‘Chasing Shadows’ suffered from a not terribly strong set of songs of which single ‘The Cutting Edge’ was the best.

Yet, despite the lack of success, they were given the go ahead to make another album. Sadly, their next album ‘Fire On The Moon’ (released under the name of the Dream Command) found the band creatively adrift straining for a commercial sound again. FOTM isn’t the complete turkey it’s often portrayed as but it’s far from an 80s classic. However, it does make a lot of sense as a stepping stone between ‘Chasing Shadows’ and what was to come in the 1990s.

5. Close Your Eyes (from ‘7 Day Weekend’), 1986

The follow-up to ‘Land’, ‘7 Day Weekend’ largely saw the band ditch their trademark sound in search of an elusive hit. The Human League are an obvious influence on singles ‘You Move Me’ and ‘Forever Young’ but the band also tried to incorporate some Frankie into ‘Day One’. It also contains the career low point of ‘I’m Falling’ which sounds nothing like the Comsats so much so that singer Steve Fellows reportedly smashed a test pressing and mailed it through the Jive letterbox!

7DW doesn’t seem to have been recorded as an album, Steve has described it as a collection of failed singles, and it’s true that only a handful of the songs weren’t available on the singles. Yet, those other songs, including ‘Close Your Eyes’ are amongst the best on the albums, easily on a par with the (good) singles.

Despite this tortured history on balance I’d argue that 7DW contains a stronger set of songs than ‘Land’ – with one obvious exception.

6. Eye Dance (from ‘Sleep No More’, 1981)

As hinted above, ‘Sleep No More’ was received with rave reviews but, perhaps not surprisingly given its dense recording, it didn’t contain any single potential. (Which probably explains the quick release of ‘Do The Empty House’.)

Lead track ‘Eye Dance’ might have been considered for a 45 but it trod similar ground to the standalone single ‘Eye of the Lens’, which had failed to chart.

7. The Glamour (from ‘The Glamour’, 1995)

‘The Glamour’ is a harder edged, denser record than ‘My Mind’s Eye’. It’s an extension of the band’s approach on ‘SNM’ but shares with that record a lack of obvious singles. Nevertheless, the original 13 track record works as a satisfying whole, despite Fellows having subsequently expressed reservations about the album’s direction. The double disk Renascent reissue from 2007 added a further 7 songs to represent the wider range of songs that could have been included but for me it stretches things a little too thinly.

8. Red Planet (single, 1979)

The debut single was released on the band’s own Junta label shortly after they morphed into the Comsats from an earlier incarnation as Radio Earth.

Something of a new wave oddity (which they would subsequently revisit on the ‘Do The Empty House’ double single) what’s surprising is that the single gives little clues as the direction that they’d take on ‘Waiting for a Miracle’.

A couple of years after release I unexpectedly and luckily came across a copy in a singles box on the first floor of the old Virgin Megastore on Union Street in Glasgow.

The three tracks from the EP were absent from the various reissues over the years until they were included amongst the bonus tracks on the 2015 reissue of WFM.

9. Real Story (from ‘Waiting For A Miracle’, 1980)

Honestly, IMHO, ‘Waiting for a Miracle’ is one of the post-punk classics that is every bit the equal of feted albums by the likes of Joy Division and the Bunnymen. The Comsats carved out their own particular territory with a largely sparse sound driven by treated guitars and spartan keys. Yet the songs still contain a power that belies their sparseness.

Echorich featured WFAM heavily in his ICA so some of the obvious choices are gone but, hell, you could pick almost anything without diminishing the quality and ‘Real Story’ manages that with ease.

10. What Else?! (from ‘Fiction’, 1982)

‘Fiction’ saw the band opening up their sound from the claustrophobia of ‘SNM’, presumably in search of wider acceptance. Certainly, the single ‘After The Rain’ (perhaps aiming for a similar atmosphere to Japan) was their most attractive single to date but ultimately the band’s melancholic melodies were a barrier to wider acceptance.

Closing track ‘What Else!?’ is a fabulous song, but it’s difficult to hear it as being in any way commercial in amongst the new pop of 1982.

Postcript

It was only getting on to the internet in the latter years of the 20th century looking for news of a follow-up to the ‘The Glamour’ that I discovered that the band had split shortly after the record’s release.

There was a brief reunion for a handful of live dates in 2009/10, including a Glasgow show (for which I had a ticket but was unable to attend) then nothing. Until the tail end of 2014 when, to coincide with the re-release of the Polydor and Island albums on vinyl and double CD on Edsel, Comsats fan Mark Kermode revealed that the band were in the studio working on new material although Fellows subsequently downplayed this news in an interview with Penny Black. http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Article/8168/Comsat-Angels

Releases of ‘Land’ and ‘7 Day Weekend’ were also planned but, for whatever reason, didn’t see the light of day. Which is both a shame as I don’t have ‘Land’ on CD and somewhat surprising given the exorbitant prices that the Comsat reissues now command – best illustrated by the mere £1,407.14 that someone wants for a used copy of ‘Land’!

Since the band’s demise Fellows has put out two solo records– the all instrumental ‘Mood X’ came out as far back as 1997 but he didn’t re-emerge until earlier this year with the excellent, song based ‘Slow Glass’ which is sure to appeal to all Comsats’ fans. https://stephenfellows.bandcamp.com/

MIKE

*JC adds…..Mike is correct in that the 12″ of Will You Stay Tonight is the only piece of vinyl I have by Comsat Angels, picked up for 25p in a bargain bin.  I do have digital copies of some of their albums, acquired (ahem!) in one way or another.

CONCERT SOUVENIRS

Three times in my life have I been the recipient of something thrown from the stage by a singer or member of a band.

The first was many years ago when the Manchester racist, as has always been his wont, threw his shirt into the audience at the end of an encore, creating general mayhem in the vicinity of where it landed.  I reckon that initially when he started this particular caper, he wanted a fan to get a unique and valuable memento.  He probably hadn’t reckoned on the fact that his rabid fanbase wanted any part of the shirt and it was inevitably torn to shreds in an unsavory fashion akin to a pack of lions devouring an unfortunate gazelle.  Nowadays, knowing that’s how fans react, I reckon he takes great delight in watching the violence unfold beneath him.

Let’s just say that having very briefly thought about hanging onto the shirt, I gave up on the idea as I valued getting out of the venue without bruises or broken bones.

Incident #2 came on the first occasion that Belle and Sebastian decided to play Glasgow Barrowlands – it was back in 2001 if t’internet is correct – and they had a bit of fun by tossing confectionary into the audience at the start of the first encore.  One of these landed at my feet.

Now, to be fair, it was actually a tartan-coloured cardboard tube that landed at my feet, inside which was a stick of rock. Sadly, I would later discover when I got home that it didn’t have the words ‘Belle and Sebastian’ all the way through – from recollection it was just something like ‘A Gift from Scotland’ and as such, was no different or more collectible than something you could get in a sweet shop. It was eaten soon afterwards.

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – The Boy Done Wrong Again

The third, and thus far, final, incident was at the very end of a Basement Jaxx gig at the Carling Academy, Glasgow in April 2009. This time, the prize was one of the pair of drumsticks hurled into the crowd at the very end of the final encore. I’ve still got that tucked away in a box under the stairs – or to be more precise, it belongs to Mrs Villain.

See, the thing is, on the previous two incidents the objects ended up with me when I very close to the stage. This time around, we were at the very the back of the lowest tier of the venue, with nobody behind us to push or shove us for the reason that Rachel was still recovering from a nasty fall some 10 days previously when she had been out running. She was cut and bruised in a few places, with the worst injury being a broken nose. Basement Jaxx gigs, as we knew from previous experience, can be quite boisterous affairs and it was all about keeping safe.

I would love to tell you that the drumstick landed at my feet, or that, as I spotted it come towards us I put up a hand and caught it as cleanly as a baseball outfielder pushed up against the boundary fence.

I really would love to tell you that.

The reality is that I didn’t see it until it was too late and could only cry out the word ‘drumstick’ as a warning to Rachel as to what was happening….and as the ‘k’ was sounded, the flying object hit her full in the face, including her nose.

mp3: Basement Jaxx – Red Alert

It all happened stupidly quickly and Rachel, unsurprisingly, burst into tears, more thankfully from the fright of what happened rather than the actual pain. The drumstick had traveled a fair distance to reach us and its downward trajectory meant it wasn’t quite at full pelt. But still, it was a scary few seconds looking at her face and praying to a non-existent god that there was no serious damage.

mp3: Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At

If we had been more switched on, we’d have been straight onto social media to talk up the incident as no doubt there would have been some sort of apology and an offer from Felix and Simon to come to another gig to say hello. We would have quite liked that……

JC

THE RETURN OF SIMPLY THRILLED (sort of)

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that, for many of us, the lack of live music and/or club nights has turne out to to be one of the hardest things to cope with over the past 100+ plus days since we went into lockdown.

Simply Thrilled had big plans for 2020, none of which are likely to see the light of day but we are hoping to get things going again in 2021, including another set of events aligned to The Twilight Sad rescheduling their twice-postponed shows at the Barrowlands to the spring of 2021. We are doing a little something different this coming Sunday (and yes, it is this coming Sunday, 5th of July as stated on the poster, and not last weekend as I stupidly thought and put a message out to my handful of Facebook friends).

We will be airing some videos over a 90 minute period, many of which will be of singers and bands from Scotland, although not exclusively so. My own short set is about 20 minutes in length and consists of five tracks that I hope you will want to drop in and see.

The doors open at 7.30pm.

Access is via the Simply Thrilled Facebook page, and, as my mate Shug said the other day, if you’re on there yet just join and it will magically get you through the bouncers on the imaginary door.

Just click on this link, https://www.facebook.com/groups/SimplyThrilled, shove in your request and one of us on the admin side will sort it out as quickly as we see it.

It would be lovely to see you all – I’ll be typing a few words during the event as will the other DJs and everyone is welcome to come in and add your own thoughts, views and opinions.

Here’s  a couple that I did consider airing on Sunday but they didn’t quite make the cut.

Thank you.

JC

HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD

I’ve not really posted much on Big Audio Dynamite over the years on the basis that I’m more an admirer than a fan. There has been the occasional song that I’ve had a soft spot for, with one of my favourites being found on No.10 Upping Street. This was the album released in 1987 that, pre-release, caused much excitement with the news that Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had reunited to pen some songs and were co-producing the new record. I was a tad disappointed with the results, probably as my expectations were far too high, especially for the tunes that had Strummer’s name in the credits, and as it turned out, the song which stayed with me most was the work of Mick Jones and Don Letts:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – Hollywood Boulevard

The lockdown period, combined with my retiral from work, led to me going into the storage box which is packed with cassettes, many of them specially compiled by Jacques the Kipper (and there’s a two-part series around that early next week), during which I came across a C90 with writing that I didn’t recognise and a bundle of songs from singers/bands that I’d normally go on a 20-miles cross country run in the snow to avoid. It’s then I remembered it was the work of a bloke called Tim, the on-off boyfriend of one of my flatmates, Wendy, and he’d given me the tape specifically as I had freaked over one track.

Incidentally, I’ll digress briefly for a second to say a little bit more about Wendy. She was Canadian and a stunning looking girl who worked as an air stewardess for KLM on the daily run between Edinburgh and Amsterdam. She was also, as my brother SC can testify, an absolute psycho and nutjob who once pulled a knife on him on the grounds that the flirting she had been encouraging was now boring her. I haven’t seen or heard from Wendy since 1987 when the lease for the flat came to an end and we all went our separate ways.

The tape had a remix of the BAD song that I was fond of and just the other week I tracked down the 12″ single on which it had been put on the b-side:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – Hollywood Boulevard (club mix)

I’ve always felt there was a hint of New Order to the tune, but this mix with around two extra minutes of music and lots more instrumentation really demonstrates where I was coming from.

I was delighted to find a further, even longer and even funkier version on the single that got me thinking of Confusion:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – Hollywood Boulevard (dub mix)

And, for completeness sake, here’s the A-side, itself a very extended remix, almost ten minutes long, of the opening track on Side 2 of the parent album:-

mp3: Big Audio Dynamite – V-Thirteen (extended remix)

Not a bad way to kick start the week, even if I say so myself (which would have been the case if I hadn’t held this post back by 48 hours to muse over the name of a Primal Scream EP!!)

JC

FANCY A BREW? (Mark and Lard Late Show Appreciation)

A GUEST POSTING by STEVE McLEAN

In the world of podcasts, streaming TV or countless wiki articles on the most niche subjects, it’s hard to fathom just how hard it was to be exposed to culture in the British suburbs during the early 90s. For example ‘Allo ‘Allo and Birds of a Feather were still TV regulars, Mills and Boon could be found in most libraries under a section called Women’s Literature and Bryan Adams was at number one from the end of the Madchester scene until the start of Britpop.

So up stepped Radio One.

By 1992, the channel had become stale and lifeless. Radio One listeners were the same people who had listened to the station in the 1970s, it didn’t really cater for ‘’the kids’’ and while Smashy and Nicey were stereotypes, they were pretty close to the fucking bone.

Matthew Bannister, who was the new young fresh controller of radio one (half the age of some of the DJs) saw the problem and reckoned the solution was a good old spring clean. He started with the overnight schedules. I said above about how it’s hard it was to be exposed to culture, it’s equally hard to fathom just how good Bannister made late night Radio One. While the old hags hung on for a little while, the fresh faces started to creep in, from October 1993 the post-drivetime line up looked something like this –

6.30pm – 9pm: The Evening Session. This was one of the few survivors of the previous station management. However previously it had been a bone thrown to keep people quiet, under Bannister it became the bugle cry for new music.

9pm – 10pm – Either an hour-long documentary about music, films, art and culture or the hour was split into two halves with a specialist shows for dance, hip hop or a movie review followed by a half hour of comedy – Lee & Herring, Jeremy Hardy, Jo Brand, Simon Munnery and a stack of others all getting their own show…. and then from

10pm until midnight (Monday to Thursday)- THE MARK RADCLIFFE SHOW – AKA Mark & Lard AKA The Graveyard Shift.

To an 18 year old in 1993, this show was a revelation. Perhaps it’s best described as the internet on the radio. It sounds like hyperbole but it was a mishmash of everything in a pot. Broadcasting from BBC Manchester. I’d call it a magazine show but that’s a shit title, it was more like Pebble Mill for NME readers (which is an awesome name).

Mark Radcliffe was an established local BBC broadcaster (who may or may not have discovered Chris Evans depending on who you talk to) and his sidekick Marc ‘Lard’ Riley was, like most people from Manchester, a former member of The Fall. Together they delivered a show so on point that it helped steer the direction of upcoming music trends, as well as placing comedy, films and books from their own collections into the heads of the indie kids.

Through this show I discovered so much new music and new-to-me music. Radcliffe regularly played the full 8 minute, Vocoder poem that is O Superman, giving me a lifelong love of Laurie Anderson.

He’d follow it with something like Babybird’s Hong Kong Blues, a lo-fi Casio keyboard number that lamented the human rights of the citizens after the (then) upcoming handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese Republic ‘’Can’t sleep can’t snooze, soon the don’ts will kill the do’s’’ Babybird, of course, went on to have a good few hit singles, qnd Radcliffe was ahead of the curve on so much of the Britpop movement.

mp3: Laurie Anderson – O Superman
mp3: Baby Bird – Hong Kong Blues

When the show started, I’d just moved ‘home’ to a small town in Scotland. Moving to a new place when you’re 18 is harder than when you’re 8 (which is when I’d left Scotland). It’s hard to make friends or get involved in things, especially when the town is small and there’s nothing to get involved in.

At 18 you can’t just go up to someone and say ‘Oh you like Star Wars? let’s be friends’ Do that in the west of Scotland and you’ll get walloped (trust me on this). For my first year back in Scotland the Radcliffe show became my best friend. Working the late shift in Safeway, I’d rush home in time for 10pm, if I couldn’t make it my mother was under strict instructions to press play and record on my cassette deck. During this time Mark and Lard introduced me to John Hegley.

Hegley was a performance poet who regularly appeared on the show (see! Pebble Mill for NME readers). His poems were witty and funny and tackled subjects from the most offbeat angles. Up until then I thought that poetry was about wandering lonely as a cloud.

Hegley was also an occasional musical guest, he’d been in a band called The Popticians. His album Saint and Blurry includes the classic Eddie Don’t Like Furniture.

mp3: The Popticians – Eddie Don’t Like Furniture

Other poets appeared on the show, including Ian MacMillan, Joolz Denby and Simon Armitage ,(who, in 2019, would become Poet Laureate).  It spurred my own interests to be a performer.

In 1995, I moved to London in time for the arse-end of the good bits of Britpop, just before it became all Three Lions, TFI and Nuts mag. I’d made some pretty big moves from the age of 16, never really settling down, never really feeling at home, even when I was ‘back home’. I felt like a nomad, so it was easy, in London, to fit right in. I brought with me the Radcliffe show as an anchor to normality. By this time the show was pretty much a crystal ball for who will be cool AF next. Step forward Belle and Sebastian and their song The State That I Am In which was seemingly played every other night. Listener response to the track led to a session and then to a deal with Jeepster Records (I wonder what happened to them).

The show still had one eye on leftfield. For instance, they gave a session to The Adventures of Parsley who were a band that covered TV theme tunes and they were playing Little Star by Stina Nordenstam two years before it gained world wide fame on the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. Thank you Mark for allowing me to be the ‘’You’re only just hearing this now? I’ve owned that for ages’’ type of bellend.

I mentioned earlier about it being a cultural hub. As well as poetry, the show featured regular slots for Katie Puckrick who spoke on art or America or feminism or whoever was cool in her scene. Mark Kermode’s reputation as THE film buff was enhanced with his reviews and chats. He wrote and printed a Bladerunner fact sheet for anyone who sent in an SAE. They ran out of copies in weeks. Imagine that, sending off for a photocopy of a piece of paper for info on a film! Years later things like this would be rendered obsolete by dial-up internet connections which were almost as fast as waiting for a letter to arrive from the BBC. I sent off for mine and it never did turn up, A fact I shout at the TV whenever Kermode is on. Don’t trust a man who sounds like a bedpan, that’s what I say.

Kim Newman would host a regular TV section. Usually cult TV. The show was steeped in TV pop culture, the Dangerman Theme was the intro and outro music, while during the show there’d be regular jokes at the expense of On The Buses or John Inman or the entertainment industry in general.

Their disdain is also evident in the skits about former Oasis drummer Tony McCarroll, or the ‘Great Moments In Pop’ that lampooned Radio One’s own rather naff Simon Batesian output. Their own sketches and songs were a match for a lot of comedy of the day. There was even two compilations of their ‘material’ – The Worst….. Album In The World, Ever (based on a popular compilation series at the time) and Our Kid, Eh? punning Radiohead. My favourite of these is probably a wonderful take-off of Nick Cave about the spiralling fortunes of the current Manchester City football team. Not a lot of people can pull that off.

mp3 : Dick Cave & The Bad Cheese feat. Alan Bawl (No relation) – The Ballad of Franny Lee

Like a lot of late night radio shows, they featured live sessions. A lot of BBC radio sessions would be pre-recorded but Radcliffe’s tended to be live, so it often featured a chat with the acts before hand. That was the pull of the show, it was able to get bands into a live studio between 10pm and midnight and keep them sober enough to play. All the ‘big boys of Britpop’ were featured at some point (Oasis did their first ever session on a previous Radcliffe show called Hit The North in 1992).

The indie ‘Old Guard’ were also keen to be own the show, James delivered a wonderful version of Come Home, so good in fact they released it as a b-side to their Tomorrow single. They provided the middle ground between The Evening Session and Peel with live stints from The Orb, Townes Van Zandt and John Cale. You could make a claim that Helen Love owe their career to Radcliffe’s continual support and sessions. Anecdotal as it is, almost everyone I know first heard them on the Graveyard Shift.

mp3 : Helen Love – Summer Pop Radio

Reflecting on what I’ve written, I don’t feel my words are doing them justice. There’s so much more like John Shuttleworth, Caitlin Moran, Guitarist with long hair, Get To Bed, Frank Sidebottom, Classical Gas, Will Self, Shit Agent or just general Mark and Lard interactions, they spoke like they were a couple Mancunian lads in a pub together and they’d invited you along –

Mark:  ‘There’s a free single by Dawn of the Replicants called Cocaine on the Catwalk all you need to do is send the price of postage’

Lard: ‘it’s not free then is it’

Mark:  ‘if you call round you’ll get one for nowt’

Lard:  ‘Ahhh right you are, our kid’

The later shows became a little more Britpop centric, it seemed that they were riding that crest. From 1994 until 1996 Radcliffe got his own Channel Four show, The White Room. It was a cracking bit of Friday Night TV but it came with a truckload of foreshadowing. As did the song Your Woman by White Town. In late 1996, Mark & Lard had championed the song for it to then break through to the mainstream and became number 1.

mp3 : White Town – Your Woman

So it was a minor tragedy for music fans when they both moved to the Breakfast Show in early 1997. The tragedy being that they more or less had to obey the Radio One playlist. One of the main things about their appeal was that you’d get Eric MatthewsFanfare played next something like Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Fanfare For The Common Man (Mark ‘’We don’t play a lot of ELP, do we?’’ Lard ‘’Most of it’s shite’’).

After several months as the Breakfast show presenters. they eventually found themselves on the afternoon slot. The show tried to recapture the same feel the Graveyard shift had. It was good, certainly better than anything that had been on that slot previously (I’m looking at you Steve Wright and The Afternoon Public School Posse of Fucknuggets) but it wasn’t the same.

I stopped being a radio fan and became a casual listener when the late-night show ended. The Graveyard Shift will forever be for me, THE best radio show in the best time slot at the best time for new music in my lifetime. But then I was 18 and everyone thinks like that at 18.

Radio One is rubbish again now… but that’s the point, a point that Bruno Brookes or Dave Lee Travis could never get. It’s not meant for me. I’m supposed to think it’s rubbish, if I’m enjoying Radio One, then they’ve massively dropped the ball again.

On a side note to that – Kids if your parents can come to a gig with you then your music tastes fucking suck. Your parents aren’t supposed to like what you like. No wonder the country has gone to shit. Up your fucking game.

Steve McLean