STATE OF THE BLOGGING NATION

I’ve been reflecting recently on the fact that the golden age of music blogs has long gone.  I’ve probably been quite lucky to have been around when the industry regarded them as being a significant player in promoting musicians, particularly those who were emerging and on the cusp of a breakthrough.   There seemed to be hundreds of new blogs being every month, many of them being far more enjoyable, informative and entertaining than most of the established music papers and magazines.

I got things going on 30 September 2006, with The Vinyl Villain being hosted on Blogger until 24 July 2013 when it was torn down by Google for too many violations of the terms and conditions (i.e – the big labels didn’t like that I posted mp3s).  Later that day, I launched The New Vinyl Villain on WordPress and have done my best to ensure, with the help of many guest contributors, to post something at least once a day.

As time moved on, a real sense of community began to develop around TVV, which most came to the fore back in 2010 and 2011 when I lost, in fairly quick succession, a young brother and my best friend.  Other bloggers, and in particular Ctel (aka Acid Ted), stepped in to keep things ticking over while I took short breaks, and the various postings and comments offered up proved to be a huge help in getting me through tough times.

There was also the instance when we came up with the idea of Paul Haig Day, inspired by the fact that the singer and his management were appalled that postings and songs were being taken down by Blogger and being offered the opportunity to post some new and previously unreleased material.  From recollection, some 50+ bloggers all joined in on a given day and devoted their sites to a piece of music in which Paul Haig had been involved, to my great surprise and delight.

Things have been changing a great deal in recent years for all sorts of reasons, one of which being that blogging has been surpassed by other forms of social media and on-line content. There’s also the fact that the personal circumstances of individual bloggers have changed in many instances, with the increased demands from family and/or work circumstances meaning the required time is no longer there to devote to hobbies. Others have, understandably, got a bit tired and bored with things and chose to just give up the ghost, albeit they remain very active across other social media outlets or indeed as regular commentators across those music blogs still on the go.  I know of at least one blogger who decided that it was too much work to post on a regular basis and has kept his sanity by reducing the posts to one per week….although to give credit to Craig (Plain or Pan), he did get busy writing his first ever book with the possibility of a follow-up coming soon.

It is also the case that a number of bloggers have, sadly, succumbed to illness and have passed away over the years.  In many instances, their efforts can still be enjoyed as the blogs can still be accessed, but in other situations the consequential lack of activity has seen the on-line hosts remove the entire body of work.

It was as recently as 2017 that a number of us got together in Glasgow over a memorable weekend to celebrate and commemorate all that is wonderful about music blogs and to cement what had, for the most part, been on-line friendships.  Dirk (Sexy Loser) and Walter (A Few Good Times In My Life) came over from Germany. Adam (Bagging Area) drove up from Manchester.  Brian (Linear Tracking Lives) did the unthinkable and flew over from Seattle.  A number of others sent their best wishes, saddened by the fact that personal circumstances made it impossible to be there over that particular weekend.  The Scottish contingent was represented by yours truly, along with CC aka Stevie (Charity Chic Music) and Drew (Across The Kitchen Table) Colin, Aldo and Carlo, three friends who have been regular contributors to TVV over the years. Indeed, Colin was a former blogger, the individual more than any other who had been instrumental in helping me get TVV started.

Of the seven active bloggers who got together just over four years ago, three are no longer posting on their own sites, while a fourth has gone on the record a few weeks ago as saying he had given serious thoughts to packing it in.  Over the years I’ve come very close to wrapping it up, but always pulled back in by the fact that so many folk offer up such amazing and fascinating guest contributions that I feel compelled to keep going.

Music blogs require time, energy and resources, both in terms of those who write things up and those who read them.  It’s never a quick fix with just a handful of words, phrases and clichés.   The number of people who will permit themselves the indulgence of being involved in a blog, whether as a producer or consumer, has dropped dramatically in recent years. My stats show that the number of visitors to TVV peaked in 2016.  The figures for 2021 were the lowest in a full year in more than a decade.

But do you know something?  I really don’t care.  It never has been about the number of hits or the amount of feedback through the comments section or via e-mails, albeit it is nice to know, occasionally, that you have some sort of receptive audience out there.  It really is very much about that sense of community I referred to earlier, one that I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of it for so many years and which shows no sense whatsoever of dissipating.

To be fair, I might be slightly exaggerating the demise of music blogs. Folk such as Rol (My Top Ten), The Swede (Unthought of, Though, Somehow), Echorich (The Never Ending Search For The Perfect Beat) and Mike (Manic Pop Thrills) still continue to delight after many years, while a number of folk have started things up in recent years, such as Khayem (Dubhed), and of course SWC who is entertaining us in his unique and whimsical way at No Badger Required.

I know that not every bit of writing and every song featured on TVV will find favour with everyone, and that’s as it should be.  I think I’ve got a fairly eclectic taste in music which I try and reflect here on a daily basis, but I fully accept there are some singers/groups for whom I have a real love that leave some, and often many, of you shaking your heads in disbelief.  Equally, there are loads of singers/groups who aren’t featured because I have no fondness for them, but I hope such gaps can be covered by guest contributions….none of which will ever be turned down, although there may be instances where there is a delay from the date of submission to it being published…..especially if it’s an ICA as I limit those lengthy posts to one per week.

I know I’ve rambled a fair bit today, veering all over the place.  I’m not even sure of what I set out to achieve when I started typing things up, except to offer up a sort of general love letter to everyone who gives freely of their time to support TVV and indeed all the other fantastic and wonderful music blogs out there.  It is almost certain that the number of sites of this nature will diminish in the weeks and months ahead of us.  Some writers will be able to let everyone know in advance of their plans to bring things to a halt, while others will simply just make a snap decision to give it up, not returning to their blogs to close things off.

Me?  I’m going to keep things going just now.  I’ve just renewed my fees for the domain name for another year, and sorted out payment to box to ensure the music files can be hosted and downloaded should any of you wish.

But there will come a time when I will think that I’ve said all I really want to say.  Part of me thinks I should bow out in June 2023 when I turn 60 years of age, but if I find I still have an energy, desire and passion for all of this, then it’s likely that I’ll be boring you rigid for a while beyond that.

In the meantime…..thanks for indulging me.  Again.

mp3: New Order – State of The Nation (7″ edit)

Yup.  From the original vinyl.

JC

ANOTHER MAKING THEIR DEBUT ON TVV?

There’s every chance Kenickie have featured on the blog before as part of one or more posts in which multiple bands were mentioned, but if the index is accurate, they have never had a post devoted solely to their activities.

Formed in Sunderland in the north-east of England in 1994, the band would release two albums and nine singles/EPs before calling it a day in 1998.

Laura Gofton, Emma Jackson and Marie Nixon had become friends during their schooldays, but it was when Gofton was at City of Sunderland College that she suggested the three of them, along with her older brother Peter, form a band. The girls were all aged sixteen and Peter was eighteen. All of them took stage names – Lauren Laverne, Emmy-Kate Montrose, Marie du Santiago and Johnny X. The name of their band was taken from a character in the film Grease.

The debut EP, Catsuit City, came out on Slampt Records, an indie label based in Newcastle, another city in the north-east of England. It was enough for Alan McGee to offer a contract with Creation Records, but the band turned him down. Instead, for their second EP, Skillex, they went for a one-off with Fierce Panda, a then fairly new London-based indie label. Skillex was issued just after the band had supported The Ramones at a gig in London and the female members had just completed their A-Levels.

They were attracting a lot of media attention, with a number of musicians singing their praises. The decision was taken to become the first band to sign with EMI Disc, an imprint of the major label that had been launched by Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne. The first couple of singles for the new label stalled outside the Top 40, but there was better luck in January 1997 when In Your Car reached #24 and got the band on Top of The Pops. The follow-up single, Nightlife, also went into the Top 30 while debut album, At The Club, entered the Top 10 on the week of its release in May 1997.

It was proving to be catchy and infectious music, seemingly celebrating life as happy-go-lucky late teens, made by a group of close-knit, street-wise, articulate and intelligent friends. The blend of pop with an indie-twinge maybe wasn’t ground-breaking by any stretch of the imagination but the songs, on closer inspection, often had a dark edge to them with lyrics reflecting on the fact that nights out didn’t always go as planned and that being a teenager brings its own set of unique and what feel like unsolvable problems. They must have been something of a godsend to teen fans of a certain temperament, in much the same way as Soft Cell had been to the likes of me when some fifteen years or so previously.

It all burned and crashed rather quickly. The later singles weren’t big hits, and the increasing pressures placed on them by the label and management saw the band respond with a number of new songs which were critical of the music industry and the way girl groups were packaged and marketed. The second album, Get In, was released in September 1998 and reached #32. The band, having undertaken the promotional tour for the record, came to the view that it was no longer any fun and called it a day before the year was out.

Lauren Laverne has enjoyed an incredibly successful career and profile post-Kenickie, primarily as a radio DJ and television presenter, but also as a writer and author. She hosts the breakfast show daily on BBC 6 Music and also currently presents Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4, a music/chat show that is a mainstay of broadcasting here in the UK, having first aired in 1942.

Emmy-Kate Montrose and Marie du Santiago have forged careers in academia, while Johnny X is still part of the music industry as a performer and a lecturer at a college in the south of England.

Here’s a small selection of Kenickie tunes to either reminisce over or to use as a way of introducing yourself to the band:-

mp3: Kenickie – How Was I Made (from Skillex EP)
mp3: Kenickie – Punka (debut single for EMI Disc)
mp3: Kenickie – In Your Car (first Top 30 single)
mp3: Kenickie – Come Out 2 Nite (from the album At The Club)
mp3: Kenickie – Nightlife (second Top 30 single)
mp3: Kenickie – Stay In The Sun (the final single)
mp3: Kenickie – Run Me Over (from the album Get In)

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #301: ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN (3)

JC writes….

It’s been over two months since that last ICA, which represents as big a gap as there has ever been in all the years the series has been running. I’ve a couple of efforts in the pipeline, but I’m genuinely delighted that it is returning with a very welcome guest posting from Echorich, offering up some thoughts, views and opinions on the band from who he has taken his nom de plume.

Here he is, with an absolute belter of an offering.

Let me start by making a confession. I am a coward. I am a coward when it comes to Echo And The Bunnymen – the only band that mattered and still matters, to me. The reason I proclaim myself a coward is that I could never have written an ICA of The Bunnymen from their “Imperial Period.” I wouldn’t have just second guessed myself, which I have on most every ICA I have contributed, but third, fourth and fifth guessed my choices, at the least. I am too close to the work of their first four, uncompromising albums. Crocodiles awakened me. Heaven Up Here stirred my being. I am Porcupine’s great defender. Ocean Rain is imbedded deep in my Soul.

Coming down from the lofty heights of Ocean Rain, was a filled with wrong turns and tumbling. The “Grey Album” saw the band searching for a direction, looking for one more path that might lead them to their deserved success and a way to keep things together. But the cracks were too deep and the choices made weren’t the right choices. Pete DeFreitas was gone, then back, but not really there for that last album, and then Ian McCulloch made the decision to leave.

After a decade of the band trying to continue without The Mouth, solo albums, the death of DeFreitas, Les Pattison becoming a ship builder and then McCulloch and Will Sergeant burying the hatchet and recording together again as Electrafixion, Les was brought back into the equation and McCulloch gave in to a return to being Echo And The Bunnymen.

The now 25 years since these three remaining Bunnymen decided to return to the studio as a unit and record has seen some highs – critically, some lows – musically and a body of work that has pretty much doubled what came before it. They have bowled over critics on their return, made a dubious World Cup song with The Spice Girls, experimented with different producers and plowed a path all their own from album to album. Without Pete to anchor the sound, but with an intelligent understanding that the past is the past, Echo And The Bunnymen, for me have acquitted themselves well and at times with touches of brilliance during their reformation.

It is this Echo And The Bunnymen that I want to put focus to here. Since reforming/recording in 1996/97, The Bunnymen have released 6 studio albums and a combined 15 proper singles and EPs. At the core of Echo And The Bunnymen in reformation are McCulloch and Sergeant. Les Pattison was involved in the initial recordings of Evergreen’s follow up, What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?, but only appears on the final track Fools Like Us as he once again felt a music career was no longer for him and he wanted to focus on the health of his ailing mother. Ever since, the rhythm section of Echo And The Bunnymen has been a somewhat revolving door. But throughout the years, recording sessions and many tours, The Bunnymen have managed to release some still vital, as well as mature music that has added to their legacy.

1. Scratch The Past – Bonus Track from Japanese release of Flowers, 2001

The Bunnymen released Flowers, co-produced with Pete Coleman who is a staple of the Liverpool Post Punk scene, most notably as a producer for Icicle Works and Wah!, in 2001. The album is a bit of a love letter to 60s Psychedelia, with songs that reference The Velvet Underground and even some early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett sounds. It’s a bit of a tradition to add bonus tracks to the Japanese releases of albums and Flowers has Mable Towers and the final track Scratch The Past. Scratch The Past has a bit of a boogie and is a mid-tempo Rocker. Sergeant seems in a state of joy with pedal effects and switching guitars to layer the sound. Ceri James adds some electric piano and hammond organ to play up the idea of being from the past. McCulloch’s lyrics have a bit of fun with some Rock Jockism but it’s just cover for a track that’s more about attempting to recapture the magic of the past.

2. Hurracaine Nothing Lasts Forever B-Side 1997.

Nothing Lasts Forever was released in a few different formats, including a 2 CD Single set with different B-SIdes on each. Hurracaine (not sure how the atrocious spelling got past everyone) Is like bridge between the old and the new for me. It opens like a track I might have expected post Ocean Rain but pre Grey Album. In fact, it could have easily sat on the B-Side of Bring On The Dancing Horses nicely. Will’s liquid guitar sound is on full display, sounding like it’s bobbing up and down in the waves of the sea. There’s a distinct Doors-y quality to the track with some fantastic keyboards from Adam Peters. Ian is in full voice and presence though the track.

3. AltamontEvergreen – 1997

Altamont, for me, is one of the real stand out track on Evergreen. There is just enough reference to their past in the music, but there’s a feel of being current and accomplished, of the moment that runs throughout the track. I remember thinking that Noel Gallagher wished he could create such melody and chaos as Will does towards the end of Altamont.

4. An Eternity TurnsFlowers – 2001

An Eternity Turns is a bit of Terrace Anthem – Bunnymen style. You can’t help joining in on the chorus, it’s infectious. The track also manages to capture some of the live magic that the band have always been able to capture, taking a track on a sort of road trip from start to finish. As the track build to the ending, it goes off the rails as only a Bunnymen song can before it lands hard.

5. Lovers On The RunMeteorites – 2014

Youth was behind the desk for Echo And The Bunnymen’s most recent album of new material, Meteorites. He has become a very sympathetic producer for artists that were his contemporaries in the 80s. Meteorites is a bit of dark and dense album, but it’s full of challenging, confident songs. Lovers On The Run was the pre-release “single.” I’m not really sure it existed as a single except as a promo really. It is a typical Wall of Bunnymen sound, with Ian’s aging vocal assisted with a good deal of echo, and Will somehow finding it possible to play numerous guitars for songs and make it all sound easy.

6. WatchtowerNothing Lasts Forever B-Side – 1997

Of all The Bunnymen songs released since they “returned,” Nothing Lasts Forever is seen, pretty unanimously as their best. It, for me, is certainly a special song, but it doesn’t even rate in my top 20 Echo And The Bunnymen tracks. What I feel is important about the song, is the quality of the tracks chosen as B-sides for the various formats that were released.
Watchtower is a big track. There are things about it that bring me back to the latter part of The Bunnymen Mach 1. It has a power and confidence in sound and performance that is just effortless. They even managed to get Mike Lee to try his hand at jazz drums – a nod to the fact that Ian, Will and Les knew the track would have just killed if Pete had played on it.

7. Scissors In The Sand Siberia – 2005

Hugh Jones behind the boards once again and Will and Ian sounding fully realized once again. Scissors In The Sand is built from the same DNA as Heaven Up Here, Over The Wall, All My Colours (Zimbo). Ian sneers though the lyrics with that knowing presence of old. All the while Jones’ production doesn’t attempt to transport them back 25 years, but he give Mac and Will the opportunity to dig deep inside themselves and reveal what’s never really ever gone away.

8. NovemberThink I Need It Too B-Side – 2009

Recorded during sessions for The Bunnymen’s 2009 album The Fountain. It’s an album I struggle with sometimes because I hear a clear attempt at mainstream radio play in a few of the songs. November accompanies the lead off single and sound miles more like a Bunnymen song that the A-side. It reminds me more of the sound Ian and Will were going after as Electrafixion. The opening bass and guitar set the stage and as the curtain draws, we are treated to a true rarity of female singers sychopated vocalizing. The layers of guitar buzz and saw through the track. Ian has a mature swagger in his vocal attack. Truly satisfying stuff.

9. Too Young To KneelEvergreen – 1997

Evergreen is an album full of fantastic songs played by artists who knew they had found the flint to make a real spark for a second time. The Bunnymen were always Post Punk’s “Psychedelicists”, it’s Doorsian troubadours, it’s Garage Punk fan boys. Too Young To Kneel celebrates all of that and brings it full circle for two men who were now on brink of 40. WIll’s guitar is a clash of liquid and buzz saw. Ian sings as an ageless troubadour full of questions for his audience and not at all worried about supplying any of the answers. Also one of my favorite lines from Ian – “…I heard they found Death on Mars.”

10. Get In The Car What Are You Going To Do With Your Life – 1999

The Bunnymen’s return was just that, a return, not a “reforming.” The chemistry to make music was easy to distill once again. Evergreen was the proof of that. 1999’s follow up What Are You Going To Do With Your Life was, maybe, just a bit less immediate, less finding the spark as much as maintaining the flame. Over all the album filled with song that reflect the artists’ age and experiences. In fact the album only include one fairly upbeat track in Lost On You. I feel its a beautiful album filled with pathos and logos, while not losing any of the Bunnymen’s ethos.

Get In The Car is, for me, the albums most intimate and revealing song. Featuring contribution from Fun Lovin’ Criminals, there is also an important contribution of English Horn that sets the tone and feel for the track from it’s opening notes. This is The Bunnymen’s road song, their trip down a Route 66 of the mind, a look back through the side view mirror as the motor forward. There’s a cheeky use of the ‘na-na, na, na, na’ as heard on Nothing Last Forever but this time it’s a Fun Lovin’ Criminal and not the not so fun loving Liam Gallagher behind it.

Echorich

 

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Forty-four: JIMMY JIMMY

From this very blog in December 2016:-

In which the band finally, and deservedly, hit the Top 20.

Jimmy Jimmy is one of the finest of all the post-punk singles. It was written by John O’Neill, although many folk probably thought it was all down to singer Feargal Sharkey as he is the one pictured on the front of the sleeve holding a trophy he had won a teenager.

mp3 : The Undertones – Jimmy Jimmy

Seemingly, the song, with its sad ending, wasn’t based on anyone or on any sort of true story.

The b-side is just one of the most fun records ever made:-

mp3 : The Undertones – Mars Bars

Composed by Damien O’Neill and Michael Bradley, it’s an ode to the band’s staple diet of that era…with the chorus and some other of thre lyrics drawing inspiration from the TV ads which promoted the chocolate confectionary.  OK, it’s more or less the same tune as Jimmy Jimmy, but when it’s this good, does it really matter?

The single spent ten weeks in the chart from the end of April 1979, including a four-week run in the Top 20 without managing to climb any higher than #16.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 30)

It’s been four weeks since the previous edition of this series.  We had reached December 1990 in terms of the singles, but the post also covered the fact that The Fall did not release 45s or EPs in 1991, although the album Shift-Work came out in April.

The tail end of the year found the band recording new material in Glasgow – and no, I didn’t ever bump into MES or any of the band during their time here – before re-convening in early 1992 in London.

Dave Bush, having helped out on keyboards during the live shows in the wake of the departure of Marcia Schofield, was now made a permanent member of the band.  No replacement guitarist was brought in for Martin Bramah, meaning that The Fall were now back to being a five-piece, although Craig Leon and Simon Rogers, both of whom were involved in the production of the new album, also added keyboards.

The new dynamics inevitably brought a change in sound, with the first fruits of the labour being heard in a single released on 2 March 1992:-

mp3: The Fall – Free Range

I’ve written before about Free Range.  It’s co-written by MES and Simon Wolstencroft, and the funky way it drives forward is one of the reasons it is up there among my all-time favourites of songs by The Fall. Here’s what I said back in November 2014:-

It’s an absolute belter of a tune and while the lyric might appear somewhat nonsensical it is packed with all sorts of imagery and references from history and philosophy with a message of concern about the ever-increasing rightwards shift of politics across Europe as the free market system took an ever-increasing stranglehold on society  – events which Mark E Smith thought would inevitably lead to warfare on a scale of that such as 1914-18 and 1939-45.

Free Range reached #40 in the UK singles chart, the highest position for any non-cover version single.  Little did any of us know that this achievement would never be bettered.

It was released on 7″, 7″ limited edition, 12″ and CD. There were three other tracks to be found across the releases:-

mp3: The Fall – Everything Hurtz
mp3: The Fall – Return
mp3: The Fall – Dangerous

All three songs are tremendous listens. MES, naturally, is involved in the writing of all of them, with Steve Hanley bringing his skills to Everything Hurtz and Return, while Dangerous marks the writing debut of Dave Bush.  Collectively, it is difficult to name a more accessible Fall single than these four songs, and while some fans of the more ragged and disjointed band era might sigh and wish for something less polished, I reckon most casual listeners might be more prepared to give this the thumbs-up.

One final thing to mention, while all four songs would be part of the Code:Selfish album that would be released just three weeks later, the versions on the single all have slightly different edits/mixes.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #290: SHAMBOLICS

Shambolics are from Kirkcaldy, the town in which my football team, Raith Rovers play our home matches at Stark’s Park.

A few years ago, one of the young folk working at the football club noticed that a new indie band from the town were beginning to attract a bit of attention, and he got in touch to find out if they were fans of the Rovers.  On finding out that they were, the idea was hatched to try and forge a link.  Seizing upon the name of one of the band’s songs, the club decided to adapt it slightly and use it as a rallying call for season 2019/20:-

mp3: Shambolics – My Time Is Now

#ourtimeisnow became the rallying cry for the supporters.  The song was used as part of the promotional efforts to push season tickets and the band members came along to matches to take part in promotional activities.  And as match day announcer, in charge of the music played in the build-up to kick-off, my role was to include My Time Is Now on a regular basis.

As if by magic, the whole thing worked with Rovers clinching the league title and promotion at the end of what proved to be a COVID-shortened season.  Shambolics now feature most weeks in the selected tunes, and while My Time Is Now still a popular choice among supporters, this season has seen the inclusion of some of the band’s new material.

They have been together since 2016 and within a couple of years had been snapped up by Alan McGee for the new label he had just launched, Creation 23.  As a band whose blueprint for growth was based on building up a fanbase through constant gigging, their hopes and aspirations were temporarily put on hold by the COVID outbreak.  They have been playing live again, and new songs have been released in 2021, including this indie anthem:-

mp3: Shambolics – Dreams, Schemes & Young Teams

Most of the regular readers of TVV will reckon that Shambolics aren’t doing anything we haven’t heard before, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone making that point.  The thing is, they aren’t aiming to capture the attention of the 40-somethings who hang around here. Everything they do is geared towards the young folk who are hopefully as consumed by music as we wall were back in our teens and 20s when you’re of an age when you fully believe that the music you’re listening to cannot possibly ever be bettered, and is much superior to anything that has come in the past.

You can hear more of what they do over at Spotify, if streaming is your style.  Click here.

2022 will see the band attempt to make up for lost time.  Friday 28 January will see them play their biggest ever headline show at SWG3 in Glasgow. Prior to that, they will be opening for Cast in Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, when the Britpop veterans take their, delayed, All Change 25th Anniversary tour out on the road.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : ZORBING

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

Z is for Zorbing released by Stornoway as a single in July 2009

It really is incredible how quickly the way music is consumed these days.  Back in 2009, streaming didn’t exist, but there were a proliferation of websites and mediums through which unsigned bands could look to grab someone’s attention.

Stornoway had a brand of indie folk that was quite fashionable towards the end of the first decade of the 21st Century.  Two of its members – Brian Briggs (vocals, guitar), and Jon Ouin (bass) had met as students at Oxford University, and in due course they would be joined by brothers Oli and Rob Steadman on bass and drums, respectively.  Their debut single, as you can see from the picture at the top of the posting, was self-released with the contact info being via myspace and an e-mail address.

mp3: Stornoway – Zorbing
mp3: Stornoway – On The Rocks

In this instance, it worked. Stornoway came to the attention of a DJ at the local BBC radio station in Oxford, and from there things kind of snowballed, and by January 2010 they had signed a deal with 4AD Records who would release the debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill in May 2010. The album was basically self-produced by the band and the record label was happy enough not to insist on the songs going through some sort of slick re-recording process.

The debut album did reasonable well in reaching #14. Zorbing was re-released by 4AD in June 2010, but it barely dented the charts at #74. It proved, however, to be the only single by Stornoway to breach the Top 75, but then again, such was the state of the music industry throughout the 2010s that the sales of physical singles were becoming increasingly irrelevant.

The band stuck around till 2016, releasing two more albums, Tales From Terra Firma (2013) and Bonxie (2015).

And with that, this extended break for the blog comes to its end. Tomorrow will see the return of the long-running Scottish songs series, while Mark E Smith and pals are back on Sunday, before things get back to full normality on Monday. There’s even some ICAs coming down the pipeline.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : YOUR NEW CUCKOO

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather. Unchanged: The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD. Unchanged: Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

Y is for Your New Cuckoo released by The Cardigans as a single in August 1997.

Your New Cuckoo was the third single lifted from the album First Band On The Moon. The fact that it appeared a full year after the album had been released verifies that the record company was really keen to cash in on the new found fame and success of The Cardigans. Added: It really is incredible how quickly the way music is consumed these days. Back in 2009, streaming didn’t exist, but there were a proliferation of websites and mediums through which unsigned bands could look to grab someone’s attention.

The band had been enjoying some minor success in the UK, always on the end of critical acclaim for their brand of intelligent and upbeat Scandi-pop, but the move to the major label Mercury Records in 1996 had upped the ante in terms of expectations. Their first release for the new label was the single Lovefool, which reached #21 in the singles chart in September 1996.

Its follow-up was Been It, which stalled at a disappointing #56. Meanwhile, the album First Band On The Moon had entered the charts at #18 but had dropped out altogether after just four weeks, an indication that nothing was selling much beyond the established fanbase.

Towards the end of 1996, a new film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet became a box office smash. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, it was a modern take on the Shakespeare play, and it came with a pop-based soundtrack, with one of the tracks being Lovefool by The Cardigans. Cue some new interest in the band……

Lovefool was re-released in May 1997, entering at #4 and eventually reaching #2, and in many people’s eyes, making an overnight sensation out of the band. There was a minor spin-off in that First Band On The Moon came back into the album charts for a couple of months, and to help further with its marketing and promotion, the decision was taken to belatedly release a third single:-

mp3: The Cardigans – Your New Cuckoo (radio edit)

It’s about thirty seconds shorter than the album version, and the majority of the edit comes towards the end with the flute outro more or less removed as it was likely deemed to be too quirky for radio.

Your New Cuckoo was issued on 2xCD format and generated enough sales to enter the charts at #35 before disappearing almost immediately. At this stage, it was still fair to say that nothing was selling much beyond the established fanbase….although that would all change when the band went for a harder, more rock orientated sound by the time they released their next album…..

Here’s the extra pieces of music on CD1….it’s just a couple of remixes, neither of which sound anything like the original track!

mp3: The Cardigans – Your New Cuckoo (Hyper Disco Mix)
mp3: The Cardigans – Your New Cuckoo (Super Stereo Mix)

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : X OFFENDER


The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

X is for X Offender released by Blondie as a single in June 1976.

This is mostly adapted from wiki:-

X Offender is the debut single by Blondie. Written by Gary Valentine and Debbie Harry for the band’s self-titled debut album, it was released as the album’s lead single on Private Stock in June 1976.

The title of the song was originally “Sex Offender”. Bassist Gary Valentine originally wrote the song about an 18-year-old boy being arrested for having sex with his younger girlfriend. Debbie Harry changed the lyrics so that the song was about a prostitute being attracted to the police officer that had arrested her.

Private Stock insisted that the name of the single be changed to X Offender because they were nervous about the original title. It was released in mid-1976 with the B-side being In the Sun. Due to limited copies of the single being released and the subsequent popularity of the band, a copy of the original UK Private Stock single (catalogue number PVT 90)  is a sought-after rarity. The last copy to go on Discogs was in March 2019, and the seller was able to get £240. One of the reasons is that the mixes of both songs on the single are different from those on the Blondie album but then again, both were made available as bonus tracks on a 2001 CD re-release of the album whih is where these come from:-

mp3: Blondie – X Offender (single version)
mp3: Blondie – In The Sun (single version)

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : WILD WOOD

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

W is for Wild Wood released by Paul Weller as a single in September 1993.

Again, I won’t take up too much of your time today.

The Jam and The Style Council have featured heavily on the blog over the years, but there’s been next to nothing on the solo career of Paul Weller. The simple explanation is down to the fact that other than Into Tomorrow, the first ever solo single, released under the name of the Paul Weller Movement in 1991, I have just one CD single in the collection:-

mp3: Paul Weller – Wild Wood

I have this as Rachel bought me it.  She had heard it on the radio and was very pleasantly surprised to find out it was the work of Paul Weller, especially as she never had time for any of the work of his two previously successful bands.

I quite like Wild Wood as it’s a pleasant enough acoustic ballad.  I thought it made a bit of a change from the largely lumpen R’n’B stuff of his eponymous debut solo album from the previous year, and it did tempt me into getting Santa to bring me a copy of the Wild Wood album.  I just didn’t take to it, but I did hang onto it for a bit.  The release of Stanley Road in 1995 was the breaking point for me.  I didn’t understand the critical praise that was heaped on it, and I certainly couldn’t get my head around how well it had sold, as I thought it was plain awful, dad-rock with nothing inventive, different or interesting about it.  A colleague who thought Stanley Road was as good as anything they had ever heard in their life was with the recipient of my CD copy of Wild Wood in a secret Santa that next Christmas.  Judging by their reaction, on opening the parcel, I think she was now the proud owner of two Paul Weller albums.

mp3: Paul Weller – Ends Of The Earth

That’s your really dull and boring b-side to the single, which was mostly bought on CD format but was also issued by Go! Discs on limited edition 7″ and 10″ vinyl.  It reached #14 in the singles chart.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : VIDEOGRAMS

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

V is for Videograms released by The Twilight Sad as a 10″ single-sided etched single in October 2018

I won’t take up too much of your time today, given how much I’ve written about The Twilight Sad over the years.

2022 is going to be some year for the band.  It will begin with four dates in January at which James and Andy will take to the stage and perform stripped-down versions of their songs, while April sees the full band play two nights at Glasgow Barrowlands, shows that have been postponed on at least two (and maybe three?) previous occasions as a result of COVID restrictions.  Tickets have been in Aldo’s possession for a long, long time and we can’t wait.

From October – December, they will be  the special guests of The Cure on a 44-date arena tour of Europe and the UK, playing to about 10,000 folk on average each night. Other news of their own summer dates is awaited…..and possibly some new material too, as it’s been a while.

Today’s musical offering is a limited edition single from the most recent album It Won/t Be Like This All the Time.

mp3: The Twilight Sad – Videograms

While it was one of three singles lifted from the album, it was the only one given a physical release, with it appearing in the shops some three months in advance of the January 2019 release of the album. There was also a digital version on offer, one which not only appealed to the long-time fans but was of interest to those who followed the work of a well-known producer and mixer:-

mp3: The Twilight Sad – Videograms (Weatherall Mix)

It wasn’t the first time that The Twilight Sad and AndrewWeatherall had worked together, but with the untimely death of the producer in early 2020, it proved to be the last.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : UP ALL NIGHT

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

U is for Up All Night released by The Young Knives as a single in February 2008

The Young Knives are a band both myself and Mrs Villain (aka Rachel) went to see a fair bit back in the day. They got their initial break through Shifty Disco, an Oxford-based indie label, before a number of tours supporting some of the newly emerging and chart-reaching indie-guitar bands saw them land a deal with London-based Transgressive Records in 2005. A very busy three years followed, with the release of two albums and eight singles, five of which did make the Top 50, although none got any higher than #35.

Consisting of the brothers Henry Dartnall (vocals, guitar) and Thomas Bonsu-Dartnall, whose stage name was The House of Lords (vocals, bass guitar, keyboards) along with Oliver Askew (drums, backing vocals), they made pop music fun again in that eccentrically English sort of way that has a long line running through it going back to the Kinks and taking in the likes of Squeeze, XTC and Blur among others. They were always an entertaining live act and never really worried too much about whether any music writers thought they were hip, and indeed they seemed to thrive on their perceived nerdiness and geekiness.. From recollection, they were loathed by the NME.

I certainly wrote about them a few times over at the old blog, but this seems to be the first time since I shifted to wordpress.  The debut album was produced by the late Andy Gill (Gang of Four) while its follow-up, recorded in Glasgow, at a studio built by Mogwai, had Tony Doogan, best known for his work with Belle and Sebastian, was in the producer’s chair.

Up All Night was the second single taken from the second album, Superabundance.  It was released on 2 x 7″ vinyl and CD. The b-sides on the vinyl were otherwise unavailable originals while the CD had a cover version of a #1 hit from the 80s, recorded for a session that was broadcast on XFM radio

mp3: The Young Knives – Up All Night
mp3: The Young Knives – Le Petomaine
mp3: The Young Knives – Swimming With The Fishes
mp3: The Young Knives – Stand and Deliver

It reached #45 and was the last time the band enjoyed any singles chart success.

Having been dropped by Transgressive in 2009, they set up their own label, Gadzook for the third album, Ornaments From The Silver Arcade (2011). I bought it at the time but didn’t take to it on the first couple of listens, thinking it wasn’t what I was expecting or wanting to hear, and put it away on a shelf.

Ten years on, and I decided to give it another listen during a train journey up to the football a few weeks ago, and came to the conclusion that it was actually something of a lost classic, different in some ways from the previous two albums, but still laced with the catchy hooks and clever lyrics I’d enjoyed previously. It got me thinking again about XTC and how some of their best material was written and recorded when all but their most loyal fans had deserted them. I’ve since bought the fourth and fifth albums released by The Young Knives – Sick Octave (2013) and Barbarians (2020) and will get myself sorted out for an ICA sometime soon.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : TO LOSE MY LIFE

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

T is for To Lose My Life released by White Lies as a single in January 2009.

White Lies burst onto the scene in 2008, one of those bands who get hyped all over the media on the back of some journalists having caught them at a gig and prior to any music being available to buy.  This is normally a recipe for disaster, but for once the music did just about live up to expectations, although there was, by the time the debut album hit the shops, the inevitable backlash.

Harry McVeigh (lead vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) had been performing together since their late teens, initially under the name Fear of Flying. A couple of singles, produced by uber-producer Stephen Street, as well as some high-profile support slots on UK tours, hadn’t generated much success, and so the trio decided to have a serious rethink, choosing to ditch the name and to move to a darker, less pop-orientated sound.

The best part of five months was spent on refining and rehearsing, but all the while demos were being put out across various social media channels to generate a buzz. The extent to which it worked can be seen from Zane Lowe of BBC Radio 1 naming their song Death as ‘the hottest in the world in early February 2008, despite it not having been released; in fact White Lies didn’t even have a record label and weren’t scheduled to make their live debut until 28 February 2008.

Within days of that debut, there were numerous offers on the table, with the band deciding to go with Fiction Records, part of the Universal Music empire. They were also added to a nationwide tour being promoted by the NME and by the end of May 2008, had also appeared on television, playing two songs on Later With Jools Holland on BBC2.

The deal with Fiction allowed for a small indie label to release the band’s debut single, Unfinished Business, on a limited edition 7″ vinyl. The debut for their new label was Death, the song hyped up many months earlier), and it only reached #52 in September 2008. Its follow-up would wait until January 2009, just a week before the debut album hit the shops:-

mp3: White Lies – To Lose My Life

It would only enter the charts #34, and drop down immediately, but as if to show that hit singles were no longer all that important in the grand scheme of things, the album, which was also called To Lose My Life, entered the charts at #1 the following week.  The critics, however, were no longer fawning over White Lies now that they were no longer a secret.

The single was issued onto separate 7″ vinyl records as well as a CD.  I’ve got your CD b-side on offer

mp3: White Lies – To Lose My Life (Filthy Dukes Remix)

The band is still going strong with a sixth studio album scheduled for a release later this year, supported by thirteen shows across the UK/Ireland in March and a very extensive 35-date trek around France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal between 4 April and 25 May.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : SOMETHING BETTER CHANGE/STRAIGHTEN OUT

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

S is for Something Better Change and Straighten Out, released by The Stranglers as a double-A single in July 1977.

We can argue all day and all night whether The Stranglers should be seen as a bona-fide punk outfit, or whether they were lucky grubby pub rockers who happened to be in the right city at the right time.  I liked a lot of their singles, although I reckon if I’d been a few years older and more politically/culturally/socially aware, I’d have been appalled by some of their lyrics.  As it was, the tunes got inside my head and the shout-along style of the vocals was nigh on perfect for any teenager looking to annoy their parents and teachers!

mp3: The Stranglers – Something Better Change
mp3: The Stranglers – Straighten Out

This made it all the way to #9 in July 1977. Something Better Change was the first single lifted from the album No More Heroes, released two months later. Straighten Out didn’t appear on the album.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

R is for Right Back Where We Started From released by Maxine Nightingale as a single in November 1975.

Some songs just sound so great coming out of the radio that they stay with you forever.  So it is with a Top 10 single from when I was just 12 years old:-

mp3: Maxine Nightingale – Right Back Where We Started From

Maxine Nightingale was 25 years old when this single was a hit.  British-born, of Guyanese parents, she began singing in groups while still at school, and by the time she was 16, was a vocalist in a cabaret band, and playing to club audiences all over the country.  She cut three solo singles in the late 60s/early 70s, but none of them achieved anything.  She then spent a number of years as part of the cast in the musical Hair, initially in London before taking the lead female role in the German production.

Newly married and with a daughter, she returned to London but took time off after doing a limited amount of session singing as it was impossible to juggle work and being a mother.  One of her appearances in the studio had caught the ear of producer Pierre Tubbs, who asked his friend, J. Vincent Edwards if they could come up together with a show-stopping tune for the vocalist.

The song was written in a matter of hours, and within a few days of being asked, Maxine was in a small demo studio in London putting down her vocal.  She was still reluctant to think about a career and her preference was that, should it be taken up by a label, it be released under a pseudonym. She also asked for a flat, one-off session fee for her performance, (probably around £25) but Edwards convinced her that would be a bad idea, and she should take her cut of the royalties instead.

Tubbs and Edwards pulled everything together using session musicians. The first label it was offered to was United Artists who pounced on it.  The speed at which things were moving helped persuade the singer that it should go out under her own name.  It reached #8 in the UK, but more importantly it would get to #2 on the US Billboard Chart. All this led to a proper contract for Maxine Nightingale resulting in three albums in the late 70s (the image at the top of this post is the sleeve of the debut album…the single came in a plain sleeve as there hadn’t been any time to take professional, publicity photos).

She never really came close to repeating the success of Right Back, and in many ways, Maxine Nightingale is regarded as something of a one-hit wonder.

My own love for the song has never left me, and I’ve aired it a few times in the pre-match build-up at Stark’s Park on Saturday afternoons, often in the important games as we chased promotion to a higher division.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : A QUESTION OF DEGREE

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

Q is for A Question of Degree released by Wire as a single in June 1979.

Wire formed in London in 1976.  Mike, from Manic Pop Thrills, provided as good a summary as you’d ever want, when he pulled together an ICA back in March 2017:-

A British rock institution rapidly approaching the 40th anniversary of their first gig as a 4 piece (in 2017). And, after all that time, still making great albums.

For much of their lifespan, Wire have featured only four members – Colin Newman (guitar/vocals), Graeme Lewis (bass/vocals), Robert Grey (nee Gotobed) – drums) and Bruce Gilbert (guitar).

Yet, despite a remarkably stable line-up, intra-band tensions have always played a huge part in the Wire story. Wilson Neate’s book ‘Read & Burn: A Book About Wire’ is a superb telling of their history, portraying it as a struggle for control between principally Newman and Gilbert.

The late 70s produced three classic LPs in ‘Pink Flag’, ‘Chairs Missing’ and ‘154’ on which the band pretty much invented post punk. This purple patch however was curtailed by an acrimonious split, with songs written for a fourth album.

Perhaps surprisingly after several years apart the band came together again in the mid 80s. Their 80s/90s output is less well regarded than the original trilogy, but almost any band would consider the run of records from the ‘Snakedrill’ E.P. to ‘The First letter’’ to constitute a decent career.

Having lost drummer Gotobed during the band’s second incarnation, the internal dynamics of the remaining three members meant that they ceased activity for a second time in 1991.

Unexpectedly, the band reconvened for live shows and to produce another LP ‘Send’ in the early Noughties. Since then, although Gilbert left the band for good after ‘Send’, the band have enjoyed the most active phase of their career, releasing four albums and a mini-LP since 2008 with another album due at the end of March 2017 (and one more for good measure arrived in 2020).

Today’s song was released after Chairs Missing, but prior to 154:-

mp3: Wire – A Question of Degree

It’s an excellent piece of music, and I’d love to be able to tell you that I picked up on it as a teenager back in 1979.  But I was quite late to Wire, albeit I was aware of Pink Flag as it was a favourite album of a flatmate in the student years.    It’s no surprise that the single was a huge flop, but I don’t think the band or the label ever thought it would deliver any mainstream success.  The first two minutes or so move along at a fair lick, almost power-pop in places, but then it changes tempo and seems to go through some sort of machine that forces a change in shape, to something approaching psychedelia; it only lasts 30 seconds or so, but it is quite disorientating and makes it nigh on impossible to play on daytime radio, before reverting to that earworm of a tune.

The b-side:-

mp3: Wire – Former Airline

I’m very grateful that I didn’t buy this single in 1979.  If I’d played Former Airline, then there’s every chance I’d have made a fool of myself by taking it back to the shop and asking for a replacement copy on the grounds that the record was so badly damaged it was unlistenable.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : PRETTY VACANT

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

P is for Pretty Vacant released by Sex Pistols as a single in July 1977.

I did think long and hard about featuring this.  I do despise everything that John Lydon has become in recent years, and the blog really should be giving him as much oxygen as it does Morrissey.  But I never invested anything near as much, emotionally and all the rest of it, in Lydon/Sex Pistols/PIL as I did with The Smiths/Morrissey, and as such, I can, in my head, make some differences.  Besides, homing in on Pretty Vacant, and extending it to the b-side, does allow some sort of link to how yesterday’s post finished off.

It was released on 2 July 1977 as the band’s third single, reaching #6 in the UK singles chart. And yes, I’m still amazed all these years later that the BBC and all other radio stations accepted that the singer was pronouncing it as ‘vacant’………….

mp3: Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant

Here’s the b-side, seemingly a one-take in the studio, featuring a cover of a Stooges song:-

mp3 : Sex Pistols – No Fun

Talking of covers, The Ukrainians, the band fronted by Peter Solowka, formerly of The Wedding Present, did this in 2002:-

mp3: The Ukrainians – Цiлкoм Baкaнтнi

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : OH MY GOD

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

O is for Oh My God released by Ida Maria as a single in October 2007 and re-released in January 2009.

Ida Maria was born in 1984 in the small town of Nesna, Norway.  At the age of sixteen she moved to the bigger town of Bergen, looking to try and make some sort of career as a musician.  It took another move, this time to Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, before she was able to gain some success, fronting a band and becoming a reasonably popular live act within the Swedish rock scene without any commercial success or record deal.

It would take until 2006 to make her name back home in Norway, thanks to winning national competitions for unknown artists and capturing the attention at rock festivals.  She was signed to the Norwegian arm of Universal Records, releasing Oh My God as her debut single in late 2007, with the album Fortress Around My Heart following in July 2008.

The album was a huge success in Norway, and was also picked up on by the music press in the UK, thanks largely to the success of the single I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked, which was a Top 20 hit and helped land Ida Maria slots at summer festivals as well as an appearance on Later With Jools Holland.

The decision was taken to re-release Oh My God as the follow-up, but for whatever reason, it was held back on a couple of occasions and didn’t hit the shops until January 2009. It didn’t crack the Top 75, despite it being an infectiously catchy piece of indie-rock:-

mp3 : Ida Maria – Oh My God

Here’s the b-side from the original release

mp3 : Ida Maria – We’re All Going To Hell

Later in 2009, Ida Maria released a remix of Oh My God, one win which a grizzled rock veteran added his co- and backing vocal:-

mp3 : Ida Maria – Oh My God (remix featuring Iggy Pop)

It’s a pity that I’ve previously featured The Passenger on the blog as it would have made for a neat follow-up tomorrow.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : NORF NORF


The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

N is for Norf Norf released by Vince Staples as a single in June 2015.

The first in the series not to actually get a physical release, as a single.

I’m sure it was SWC who brought this to my attention.  If it was, then thank you….and if it was someone else, then I apologise profusely.

Here’s all music’s take:-

One of the most talented voices in rap to emerge in the late 2010s, Vince Staples took the hardened perspective of his Long Beach-via-Compton upbringing and elevated it above his contemporaries with forward-thinking production choices and lyrical introspection. After releasing a batch of mixtapes that were well-received by fans and peers alike, he issued his official debut Summertime ’06, a 2015 hit that spawned the gold-certified Norf Norf. Staples quickly followed with 2016’s politically charged Prima Donna EP. With his star swiftly rising, he had a breakthrough year in 2017 with a spot on the Black Panther soundtrack, a feature on the Gorillaz track Ascension, and another hit single, BagBak, from his critically acclaimed sophomore album, Big Fish Theory. Pivoting to shorter LPs, he released the brisk FM! (2018) and Vince Staples (2021).

Norf Norf did not peak in any major chart, but received widespread acclaim by critics and was placed on several year-end lists. In February 2018, the song was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, which I am assuming was based on the number of downloads over the years.

mp3: Vince Staples – Norf Norf

The song, which is a hard hitting and gritty tale about life on the streets, gained notoriety over a year after its release. It was all on account of social media lighting up after a woman, a Christian mother, posted an eleven minute-long video blog in which she tore into the song, lamenting the fact it was being aired:-

“This is on our local radio station, this crap is being played.  I couldn’t even believe the words that I was listening to. As a mom, it infuriated me.”

The woman was ridiculed, largely on the basis of privilege and was accused of being racist.  Staples, however, refused to jump on the bandwagon, stating, via twitter, that everyone was entitled to an opinion, and adding that he didn’t believe she was racist.  His take on it was the woman in the video was confused on the context of the song and this caused her to be frightened, and understandably so. He went further and called out those who were attacking her.

It seems to me to be a strange one.  I get the idea of Staples suggesting that those who were attacking the woman were displaying as much a lack of understanding as she had shown back when she posted the video online.

But surely there is some noise to be made about the fact that the woman displayed such a shocking lack of empathy towards the situations being described in the lyric?  If white parents continually stigmatise young black people and pass on their unjust fears to their children, then the issues that have caused so much pain and grief these past 12 months in particular are never going to go away.

Apologies for a bit of a Sunday sermon today.  I’ll try and pick out a happy song tomorrow.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : MY OBLIVION

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

M is for My Oblivion released by Tindersticks as a single in October 2003.

This is the sort of thing I sneak out on the blog when folk aren’t paying too much attention.

Tindersticks had released a sixth studio album, Waiting For The Moon in June 2003.  Even for a band who rarely made the most commercial of music, this was a difficult listen, one which it was later revealed to have taken a long time to get down in the studio, with the recording process running from September 2001 – January 2003.  It also proved to be the last album the original line-up would make as by the time The Hungry Saw was released in 2008, three of the original six members had quit….a genuine case of musical differences.

For some strange reason, the label that the band were on at the time, Beggars Banquet, felt that a drip-feed of single releases would somehow help with sales.  Both of Don’t Even Go There and Sometimes It Hurts had bombed, and there really wasn’t another track suitable for release as a single…..and besides, there was no radio station prepared to play their music except when it was the time of day, dead of night when listening numbers were miniscule.

And yet, the decision was taken to edit down the seven-minute version of an album track, into something just a little over four minutes, and issue a third single from the album:-

mp3: Tindersticks – My Oblivion (edit)

I’m not saying that My Oblivion is a poor piece of music – far from it – but it is a ridiculously poor choice for a single.

But then again, all the diehard fans went out and bought it as there was a previously unreleased song along with what was thought, at first glance, to be an instrumental version of another track on the album:-

mp3: Tindersticks – Now It’s Over
mp3: Tindersticks – Running Wild (extended instrumental)

Now It’s Over is a decent enough song, especially for a b-side and actually could have gone on to the album as a replacement for one or more of the hard listens.

Running Wild, in its original form, was the closing track on the album, coming in at just over four minutes and with a typically morose vocal. This version comes with a warning. It is more than 14 minutes of compiled takes, recorded during the various sessions for Waiting For The Moon.

Anyone who gets all the way through it without hitting the off or fast-forward button deserves some sort of reward. Or at least a long lie-down.

Happy New Year!!!!!!

JC