MONDAY MORNING….COMING DOWN (8)

It’s coming up for two years since Butcher Boy last put out some new music, in the shape of a 3-track EP for Record Store Day in 2017.

A lot of things have changed for the members of the band in recent years, not least that singer and lead songwriter John Blain Hunt has become a dad. It’s never been officially said, but it may well be that we have seen the last of Butcher Boy, something that’ll sadden a fair number of folk, not least this fanboy. I’m clinging on to the fact that there was a gap of six years between the previous album and the RSD 2017 release, so maybe something will hit the shops before I reach 60 years of age.

In the meantime, in this new(ish) series of mellow Monday tunes, here’s something which lasts less than two minutes, and which gave the title to their second LP back in 2009, the one which a number of members have said they are the most proud of:-

mp3 : Butcher Boy – React or Die

Sigh

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Parts 1-3)

Up until now, I’ve had physical copies of almost all the material by the singers and bands who have featured previously in the various chronology of 45s series and where I haven’t, I’ve done my utmost to track down a digital copy or simply owned up that one or more tracks (usually b-sides or remixes) is missing.

It’s going to be a wee bit different for the next few weeks with the spotlight turned on Marc Almond.

First up, the series is going to concentrate on a specific time, namely 1984-1999, and it is also only going to feature 45s which had Marc Almond as the named performer – in other words, no Marc & The Mambas and no guest appearances, such as that with Bronski Beat in 1985.

I have some of the singles in the collection, but a fairly low percentage. It’s also a series which, if restricted to one per week, would take up the remainder of 2019 and we would all get bored in due course. I’m therefore going to feature a few of them at a time, taking the parent album (where appropriate) as the guide.

The first solo album was Vermin in Ermine, attributed to Marc Almond and The Willing Sinners, released in October 1984. It contained three singles, two of which pre-dated the album:-

(1) The Boy Who Came Back b/w Joey Demento (June 1984 – #52 in the UK charts)
(2) You Have b/w Split Lip (Single Version) (September 1984 – #57 in the UK charts)
(3) Tenderness is a Weakness b/w Love For Sale (November 1984 – #88 in the UK charts)

Joey Demento is one that fans of Soft Cell will enjoy…it’s a bit of a throwback to that era.

Love For Sale is a cover of a song written in 1930 by Cole Porter. It was from a Broadway musical, The New Yorkers but it caused controversy being from the perspective of a prostitute seeking to earn a living. Up until the 1960s, most versions had been instrumental in nature. Marc’s version is pure torch-song.

My own first exposure to the song came via hearing this excellent version on the Red Hot and Blue compilation, released in 1990 as an album and video-release, with the purpose of raising funds towards tackling AIDS:-

mp3 : Fine Young Cannibals – Love For Sale

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #154 : JAMES YORKSTON

from wiki:-

James Yorkston is a Scottish folk musician, singer-songwriter and author. A native of Fife, he was an integral early member of the Fence Collective, an independent record label based in Anstruther and Cellardyke in, Fife founded by musician King Creosote and run by The Pictish Trail until 2013.

Yorkston started out as bassist for punk band Miraclehead, which morphed into the band Huckleberry, who recorded a number of independently released records. Yorkston’s solo career began when John Peel played a demo of his “Moving Up Country, Roaring the Gospel”, in 2001 proclaiming it had the “song title of the year, no doubt”. This led to Bad Jazz Records scrambling for Yorkston’s details and releasing that track as Yorkston’s debut 7″ under the name “J. Wright Presents”.

By this time Yorkston had started to play solo gigs in Edinburgh, his debut supporting Bert Jansch in the Café Royal. Seeking more shows, Yorkston sent a copy of the single to John Martyn, asking him for a support slot on his forthcoming Edinburgh date, and Martyn responded by offering Yorkston all 27 dates on his UK and Ireland tour. While on this tour, Yorkston was seen by Laurence Bell of Domino Records, who was so impressed he had a recording contract sent to Yorkston’s lawyer the following week. Subsequently he signed to Domino Records, recording music with a number of friends and associates credited as The Athletes on his records. His debut album Moving Up Country, co-produced by Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins, became Rough Trade Record Shops Album of the Year for 2002.

For Yorkston’s second album, he asked Kieran Hebden of Four Tet on board as producer, and they made Just Beyond the River. Yorkton’s fan base continued to grow and he was offered tours with Beth Orton, David Gray, Tindersticks, Turin Brakes, Lambchop and Kathryn Williams.

The follow-up, The Year of the Leopard, was produced by Rustin Man, who had recently worked with Beth Gibbons (lead singer with the band Portishead) on their Out of Season record. In 2007, Domino Records released Roaring the Gospel, a collection of unreleased songs, which led NME to say “Yorkston has talent as deep as a mine shaft”.

Yorkston’s involvement with the Fence Collective continued: he has toured extensively with King Creosote and regularly contributed to the Fence Collective’s Homegames mini-festivals featuring guest performances by artists such as The Concretes and Hot Chip. Yorkston also plays in the Fence Collective bands The 3 Craws, Pictish Trail and U.N.P.O.C..

His fifth album, When the Haar Rolls In, was released through Domino Records on 1 September 2008. Guests included Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe, Norma Waterson and Mike Waterson. A special edition was released featuring an album of remixes and an album of James Yorkston covers by artists such as King Creosote, U.N.P.O.C. and Cathal Coughlan.

In August 2009, Domino Records released Folk Songs, an album of traditional songs, arranged and performed by James Yorkston and The Big Eyes Family Players. In March 2011 Yorkston’s debut book, It’s Lovely to be Here: The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent came out, via the Domino Press. That year he collaborated with The Fruit Tree Foundation, appearing on its debut album, First Edition.

In August 2012, Domino Records release Yorkston’s seventh album, I Was a Cat from a Book which had very favourable reviews and debuted on the Official Record Store Chart at number 6.

Domino Records’ eighth album with Yorkston, The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society, produced by Alexis Taylor of synth-pop band Hot Chip, was released in August 2014. It featured special guests KT Tunstall and The Pictish Trail amongst others.

In 2015 Domino Records released ‘The Demonstrations of the Craws’, a vinyl only release, featuring a compilation of demos from The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society and I was a Cat from a Book. Yorkston also began running his folk club Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer, in Kirkcaldy, Fife, which has thus far had such diverse guests as Martin Carthy, Alexis Taylor, Dick Gaughan, Richard Dawson, Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat, Karine Polwart, Lisa O’Neill, Steve Mason, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Malcolm Middleton.

In early 2016, Freight Books published James’ second book, his debut novel 3 Craws. Later that year Yorkston released the album Everything Sacred as part of the trio, with Jon Thorne (a double bass player best known for his work with electro outfit Lamb) and Suhail Yusuf Khan, an eighth generation Sarangi player from New Delhi, India.

His ninth album, Route to the Harmonium, recorded in the small Scottish fishing village of Cellardyke and co-produced by David Wrench, was released on 22 February 2019, via Domino.

An incredibly busy and versaile man, I’ve long admired him, never failing to be entertained on the five or six times I’ve seen him live. Who’s have thought I’d ever fall for a folkie?

This is the updated version of the song that got John Peel all giddy, as re-recorded for his debut Domino album in 2002:-

mp3 : James Yorkston & The Athletes – Moving Up Country, Roaring the Gospel

JC

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 21)

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOTT (Our Swedish Correspondent)

Hi Jim,

Been thinking about this theme a few times, and then when I the other day listened to one of my favorite Swedish albums of all times and my stand-out track from it – Alice – I thought “this is a great short story”. The thing being of course it’s in Swedish… so I had a go at translating it to English to see if it works. The band, Eldkvarn (“Fire Mill”) has been around forever, and are normally not a band that draws my attention, pretty straight forward rock’n’roll – a bit like our version of Bruce Springsteen, but to celebrate their 10 years as band they 1987 released the double album Himmelska Dagar (Days of Heaven) and suddenly it all worked out just wonderful. It’s a great album, pity they haven’t been able to reach this quality again (IMO). Side D is pure magic, 3 brilliant tracks with the middle one being the 9+ minutes long Alice, a homage to a love long gone.

She lived by the railway
where her father had a job
She had blue jeans and a leather jacket,
and a straw hat with a feather on top
I met her there
every day after school
in an abandoned wagon
on an overgrown track
Sometimes we sat on the embankment
and dreamt ourselves away
while the wind caught our hair
Like pages in a book
we separated
Each went their own way
it was all a loan

Her father is on the other side of the railway bridge
in a grave under a stone in the old cemetery
I’m sitting under the chestnut by the old canal
It’s all memories now
the houses and streets in the town
And it’s strange
that I haven’t seen in this way before
so I guess I’ll continue for a while
inside or outside the law

Alice, heaven can wait
there’s a way and a place in the sun
for every one
Alice, heaven can wait
put on your leather jacket
it’s a long way and you walk alone

Your tears down the cheek
while you apply make-up
are like rain in September
and only the wrong things get said
Yes, it’s hard when nothing happens
and harder still to get older
I have tried to learn
but even I don’t know it all
Walk with me over the fields
follow me to the sea
If there’s something I want to show you
it is this road
When time catches up on us
we get other things on our mind
and both you and I know
who is the most anxious

Alice, heaven can wait
there’s a way and a place in the sun
for every one
Alice, heaven can wait
put on your leather jacket
it’s a long way and you walk alone

The years come back
and I remember St Per’s Street
I remember a young boy
always in the window staring
at the motorcycle gangs outside Rialto
on their way to the end of the world
there was no way back
with black leather jackets
and hair like Elvis Presley
they threw us up in the air
so the guns fell out of the holsters
When the street lights lit
everyone was outside Rialto
and I was a small boy
three flights up in the window

and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell

Snowfall and snowploughs a winter’s night
ambulances and trams racing
I saw Lucia processions with gnomes and trolls
Zamora* and Bajdoff* and a gigantic football

and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell

I saw May 1st processions with swaying banners
horses and police men sitting in saddles
Students carrying the hope of the future
elephants and clowns from Circus Scott
Miss Norrköping waved and I waved back
then came Floyd Paterson
on a flatbed truck

I learned to work
I grew up to a man
good years and hard years
came and went
now I walk beneath the skies outside the barn
Alice, i still see you in the blue jeans
and the straw hat on your neck
May the doors behind me
always be open
and I always carry your leather jacket
tightly around my heart

Alice, heaven can wait
there’s a way and a place in the sun
for every one
Alice, heaven can wait
put on your leather jacket
it’s a long way and you walk alone

* Zamora and Bajdoff were the nicknames of two legendary players during the 50’s and 60’s in the football team of their hometown, Norrköping, where all this once supposedly happened.

mp3 : Eldkvarn – Alice

===========================

“Off the record” – please make a sanity check of my translation, if it just doesn’t make sense, please delete this mail. 🙂

Best,
Martin

 

JC adds…..

I decided, without even hearing this piece of music that I had to include it in this occasional series.  Martin has gone way beyond the call of duty to translate the lyric….and it does make perfect sense.  Cheers mate!

FILED DIRECTLY NEXT TO YESTERDAY’S FEATURED BEAT COMBO

I’ve mentioned on a few occasions of a very stupid incident in late 1986 which resulted in me losing a few boxes of 7” singles.

Thanks to my recent purchase of the 5xCD Big Gold Dreams box set, I’ve had my memory jolted in respect of some of the bits of plastic which came to grief, one of which has turned out to be something quite rare and valuable:-

mp3 : The Suede Crocodiles – Stop The Rain

It was released on the Glasgow label No Strings in the summer of 1983. It was a time when Glasgow was awash with great bands making astonishingly good jangly-guitar based music, much of which has been greatly celebrated on this little corner of t’internet. I do remember the lads involved in the label saying that they were determined to sign the best of local talent and them having their eyes on the newly emerging Lloyd Cole & The Commotions. The big offer put on the table by Polydor meant they missed out that time and so the initial releases were 45s by two highly regarded local groups – Del Amitri and Popgun. But by the time the latter went into the studio, the name had changed to The Suede Crocodiles.

I bought the single without having heard it, but I had seen Popgun play a few times in small venues across the city. It was also being mentioned in the local media that No Strings was hoping to prove to be every bit as important as Postcard had been a few years earlier and as far as I was concerned, buying this particular piece of plastic was a no-brainer.

As it turned out, Stop The Rain wasn’t quite as outstanding and instantly memorable as I had hoped it would be. I’m not saying it’s a poor or disappointing single – far from it – but the thing is, it was being compared to a lot of other great stuff which was emerging from the city and it didn’t quite do enough to stand out. Having said that, I was pleased with the purchase and it did find its way onto a couple of compilation tapes that were made at the time and also managed through requests, to get it aired a couple of times at Strathclyde Students Union.

The next thing I heard, and it came from a mate who was a regular at the Student Union (and who knew a few folk directly involved in the local music scene) was that The Suede Crocodiles had split up as one of their two singer-songwriters, Kevin McDermott, wanted to pursue a solo career.

It wasn’t something that bothered me much – I did keep an eye out on what Kevin was doing, going along to a few shows and in due course buying some records; but, as with The Suede Crocodiles, it didn’t ever quite fully click with me.

Over the years, and not having the single to provide any prompt or reminder, that connection between Kevin McDermott and The Suede Crocodiles ended up being forgotten, brought only back into my mind by the occasional mention on a blog or website that I’ve stumbled across.

It was just the other day that I got to hear Stop The Rain again thanks to purchasing the afore-mentioned box set. Seeing a picture of the sleeve in the accompanying booklet was the reminder that I had actually once owned the single. I went onto Discogs to see what it’s going for nowadays.

There are six copies for sale and the price range is £100-£200 (albeit the most expensive comes signed by the four members of the band).

Wow. That was way more than I had expected….and again got me thinking about what I really should be doing with my vinyl going ahead. I’ve no kids to leave it to and other than Aldo (who isn’t all that much younger than me!!!) no-one is of an age to whom it could really be passed onto. I must have a few bits of vinyl that are worth a reasonable amount, and when you add it all up, it will be a very tidy sum. There’s even a few CDs that some folk might be interested in!!!

But all that’s for another time. Today is all about bringing you the one single ever recorded and released by The Suede Crocodiles. And I can even offer up the b-side:-

mp3 : The Suede Crocodiles – Pleasant Dreamer

Turns out that, back in the day, the band had made a number of recordings for potential release by No Strings and these eventually were brought together, along with a few live renditions that had been captured, and issued as a vinyl-only 13-track compilation on Accident Records in 2001, with a later CD version being released in Japan in 2010.

Oh and the Big Gold Dreams box-set has provided me with loads of potential material for the blog. You have been warned.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #209 : SUEDE

A GUEST POSTING by ADY HODGES

First, I’d like to thank everyone for their kind comments on my first ICA on Ash. They were nice enough to make me want to have another go, so here we are.

The other month, I was watching The Insatiable Ones, a new Suede documentary and I wondered if anyone had done a Suede ICA, as it’s something I thought I could have a go at. Imagine my surprise when I saw no one had, so I’m attempting it. I don’t claim to be a Suede expert, but I own the first 4 albums, the Sci-Fi Lullabies B Sides collection, the first comeback album, Bloodsports and the latest, The Blue Hour. I have also now heard the other 2 albums, although nothing from them has made this ICA (spoiler alert),

The Beautiful Ones – A Suede ICA

Side 1

Animal Nitrate (from Suede)

Possibly the most famous Suede song (although that could be Trash). Their first Top Ten hit (at a time when Indie bands didn’t hit the Top Ten) and a song that we forget now was so out of step with the times, all big bold glam rock guitars at the tail end of the grunge era. Somehow its blatant drug references escaped the BBC sensors, as it was a massive radio hit.

Everything Will Flow (from Head Music)

The recording of Head Music was a troubled time for the band, Brett Anderson was a drug addict by this time and keyboard player Neil Codling was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The band largely recorded tracks for the album individually. On top of this, they were also trying to experiment with a more electronic dance influenced direction. Despite this, a lot of the album holds up well, none more so than this track. Fun fact, this song got to number 28 on the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, Suede on the Dance chart, who’d have thought it?

The Big Time (from Sci-Fi Lullabies)

Originally the B Side to Animal Nitrate, later collected on the Sci-Fi Lullabies compilation. This is a beautiful ballad, simple guitar, strings, a mournful trumpet solo and poignant lyrics, detailing the tale of a relationship breaking down due to the fame of one of the parties. “Now he’s in the big time, And you’re in the way.”

It Starts And Ends With You (from Bloodsports)

Suede’s reunion has produced 3 albums to date, Bloodsports was the first in 2013. When they toured this album, they played 2 sets, first they played the complete album in order, then after a break they played their singles in chronological order (when I saw them in Southampton, they got up to The Beautiful Ones), which was a brave decision, but I believe the album is strong enough to get away with it. This to me is the stand-out track on the album, very old-school chart friendly Suede.

The 2 Of Us (from Dog Man Star)

Dog Man Star is now regularly held up as Suede’s crowning achievement. Initially I preferred Coming Up, as it is more immediate, but Dog Man Star bears up to repeated listening, as you appreciate more about it and different tracks make an impression. This is one of those tracks, in some ways it’s a typical Suede piano ballad, however, I love the way it builds and then fades, also the lyrics are very evocative.

Side 2

Beautiful Ones (from Coming Up)

The third album Coming Up was a contrast to Dog Man Star, more direct and poppy. It feels like an album of hit singles and five of them did go top 10. This to my mind is the best of the uptempo tracks, even if it is a bit reminiscent of New Generation from the previous album. It’s a typical rollicking Suede single with lyrics trashing mid-nineties celebrity culture.

Stay Together (Long Version) (from the single)

Their joint biggest hit (along with Trash) and the only standalone single they ever released. This was the first notice that Bernard Butler wanted to start producing epics and this longer version definitely feels like a production where the kitchen sink has been thrown at it, particularly in the four and a half minute outro. A clear signpost to what they would go on to produce on the Dog Man Star album.

Still Life (from Dog Man Star)

Another ballad from Dog Man Star. I prefer the ballads on this album (this, The 2 Of Us, The Wild Ones & Asphalt World in particular), as there are more layers to them. This track builds to an impressive climax, with contributions from the London Sinfonia orchestra. It was covered, surprisingly well, by of all people, Alisha’s Attic on the Childline album, a version worth seeking out.

Cold Hands (from The Blue Hour)

I toyed with sticking a number of tracks at this point. The piano version of My Insatiable One was considered, as was their cover of Shipbuilding, but there are too many ballads on this side of the ICA. We need something lively here and I thought about Metal Mickey, but I eventually settled on something less obvious. Cold Hands is a highlight from the latest album and is a short swaggering blast of energy, that fits nicely here.

Saturday Night (from Coming Up)

The closing track from Coming Up is a melancholic ballad, based around a straightforward guitar figure and some more poignant lyrics. I think the “Sha La La La” refrain as the song fades out is a great way to end this ICA.

ADY

SOME VERY WELCOME NEWS

You’ll hopefully recall this piece from a couple of months back in which I lamented the decision by Adam Stafford to take his leave of the music scene.

Tucked away near the end of that particular posting, I set out my hope that Adam would take up my offer of a sit-down over a beer or two at which I’d lend a sympathetic ear if he wanted to gripe further about the music industry.

My hopes were realised and, at the tail end of January, he came across to Glasgow, ostensibly to catch a show by Broken Chanter (the new band formed by David McGregor following the break-up of Kid Canaveral), but we hooked up a couple of hours beforehand and we got talking. We were joined a while later by Mike Melville of Manic Pop Thrills and I think it’s a fair assumption to say that we both spent a bit of energy asking Adam to reconsider his decision and offering to help out in any way we could.

We both felt we were pushing a wee bit at an open door as Adam was saying that his love of composing and performing hadn’t left him – indeed he’d been given a gift of an old-style synthesiser at Christmas on which he had been working up some new pieces – but he just felt really low and bitter about how the tail end of 2018 had been panning out. In a nutshell, he’d released a critically acclaimed double-album and yet he was unable to transfer such praise into enough sales to financially support himself and his family and his efforts to tour further afield than the cities in Scotland had left him out-of-pocket.

But more than the financial side of things, it was painfully obvious that he was doubting himself for what must have been the first time in decades, wondering if he really did have an audience. Our response was that, as long as we were still capable of listening to music, he’d always have at least two fans to buy his stuff and come see his shows.

I think it’s fair to say that, by the end of what turned out to be a great night (the live show was most enjoyable), Adam was quite drunk and had been given a bit of food for thought. I got a really nice e-mail from him the day after in which he admitted not remembering much of his train journey back to Falkirk and the walk from the station to his home, but that he’d appreciated the company and the encouragment I’d given him.

I knew there would be other folk out there offering similar words to Adam, including his family, close friends, fellow musicians and other fans similar to myself. So it was great to get this missive a couple of weeks ago:-

Dear friends,

As some of you already know, in Nov last year, after a bad week of depression and insomnia, I hastily announced that I was quitting music, performing & releasing. It had been an eventful year: I was flattened by the deaths of two people I knew and greatly admired; an LP that I’d spent 8 years making was well received but a subsequent short tour of the UK was financially and emotionally ruinous. The shadows were closing in.

Thankfully I have a stupendous amount of supportive family and friends who dropped what they were doing to facilitate the massive whitey I was having and encouraged me to pause and reflect, respond rather than react.

To get to the point, I never have truly wanted to retire from writing and performing, but needed a break. In all honesty, I need to keep creating music to stop me from going insane and financially support my family. Thus, I am putting out this new EP of mainly soundtrack music that I’ve been working on over the last year. It is free to DL but any contribution (or a recommendation to a friend) would be greatly appreciated:

https://adamstafford.bandcamp.com/album/digressions-in-the-pale-palace-ep-2019

One of the issues that had come up during our drunken discussions in Glasgow had been how best to get the new music out there. I told Adam that I would be willing to get involved in any support costs in doing so and as the night wore on, I began to insist that he allow me to get involved in that way as it would be an honour and a privilege.

A few days later, in reply to his e-mail thanking me for being decent company at the gig, I reminded him of my offer and repeated my insistence. I was determined to try to make sure that he could start 2019 with something of a bang, through having new material available for sale and/or a couple of shows to look forward to. After much badgering, he accepted my offer. It’s not a great deal of money – I pay more for a season ticket at Raith Rovers and it’s come from a good couple of weeks making football score predictions and relieving an on-line betting firm of some cash – but what it has done is enable Adam to send this out:-

Adam Stafford returns in 2019 fresh from the critically acclaimed compositional album Fire Behind the Curtain (2018). This time he has hunkered down in his tiny studio with a newly acquired Synthesizer and laid down improv Synth jams over one week in a psychedelic sweatstorm.

The result is The Acid Bothy: a no-frills, no-bullshit hypnogogic slayer; a bad-trip brainmelch vomitorium spewing bubbling Synth lines that warp and contort in the shifting haze.

Fitting for an LP that was recorded live onto mono cassette, Adam is issuing The Acid Bothy on fruit salad (bi-red/yellow) coloured tapes limited to 50 copies.

Of these 50 copies, 15 can be pre-ordered HERE with the rest being available at two live shows:-

12 April: Leith Depot, Edinburgh
18 April: The Hug & Pint, Glasgow

(Turns out that the 15 pre-order copies are already sold out!!!….but you can still pick up a download version)

Who could possibly resist something described as a bad-trip brainmelch vomitorium spewing bubbling Synth lines that warp and contort in the shifting haze.

Paul Morley, eat your broken heart out.

In the meantime, here’s something from Fire Behind The Curtain, that critically acclaimed LP from 2018 mentioned earlier on:-

mp3 : Adam Stafford – Holographic Tulsa Mezzanine

JC