ROCKAWAY BEACH : A BOUTIQUE INDOOR MUSIC FESTIVAL

A GUEST POSTING by STEVE McLEAN

Righttttt! So let’s say this upfront! This wasn’t a Butlin’s ‘themed weekend’ populated with tributes acts, Sonja and one member of Five Star pretending to be Five Star. This was a bona fide curated music festival, we know that because there was loads of posters saying so.

Piss taking aside, it WAS FUCKING BOSS! I’m not kidding, I had a better time there than I’ve had at any music festival since my teens. If I have one complaint, there wasn’t enough ‘Butlinsy’ type stuff. A lot was closed down for the winter. Shame!

We (myself and my pal Tom) got there after kick off, meaning we missed Bellatrix and a few others but it’s not all bad as we were given a chalet bigger than we were expected. You know you’ve hit your 40s when you get excited about having a spare room that no one will sleep in.

So the first thing we took in was John Cale chatting about his life. I say chatting about his life, he tells stories like Grandpa Simpson, there was one where he caught the bus to Shelbyville with an onion on his belt (which was the style at the time). It was kinda endearing. John Robb did a good job of livening things up a tad. Look man, when John Cale speaks, you listen, even if he’s doing his best Stanley Unwin.

The first music act we saw was also John Cale. We didn’t really have our shit together, so we had a double Cale first day. It’s cool though, I’ve seen Cale around half a dozen times and Paris 1919 shows aside, I’ve never heard so many Cale classics in one sitting. It’s a pity not one of them sounded like they did on the records. That’s the beauty of Cale, not one fuck was given by him. He must have seen Bob Dylan and thought ‘I’ll have some of that’. It was fucking fab in places though and a bit patience testing wank in others. We didn’t need a spoken word / ambient version of Half Past France, but it was great to hear Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night back in the setlist.

Someone shouted out for Hallelujah and then someone else shouted out ‘wanker’, I think it was a response to the first shout out, rather than an attack on JC. (editor’s note…..it wasn’t an attack on me either!!)

He opened with Helen of Troy which is in my top 10 Cale tunes and while a roaring version of Waiting For The Man predictably got the biggest cheer. Villa Albani was the only song I’d not heard him do live before, so that to me was a special treat.

mp3 : John Cale – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
mp3 : John Cale – Villa Albani

After Cale we headed off to the chalet as we were pretty knackered after the traveling and such. We stopped by Burger King, which was open until 3am, for fuck sake. THREE AYE EMM!

Saturday kick off, all you can eat breakfast. That’s where we made our money back. I’ll be surprised if they do a buffet again next year as I think we took them to the cleaners in hashbrowns alone. After about an hour we went to the swimming pool. The pool was only open for about 4 hours on one day. That fucking sucks man, plus we didn’t find out until afterwards…. basically we’d have gone earlier and stayed later if we’d known. Those flumes are the balls.

Music wise, we kept our powder dry until Peter Perrett. We’d seen a bit of his talk and if I’m honest it was like watching a model made by the Jim Henson creature shot. Wanna feel old? Peter Perrett is what the robot Lou Reed from No Money Down looks like now

But Jesus, he fucking nailed it. His band were tight AF and cool AF and rocking AF and just AF. Peter is still the teller of stories rather than the singer of songs. I didn’t recognise much of the material as most of it was culled from his solo albums that I’ve heard but not digested. Surely the sign of a great act and great songs is when you’re hooked without knowing a note? He rewarded the non-fans with Another Girl, Another Planet and a rollicking cover of the Velvets What Goes On, but he didn’t need to. He had the songs to leave without the fan service. Baby Don’t Talk from his 1990s outing The One was a nice opener while War Plan Red and An Epic Story are up there with his classics.

mp3 : Peter Perret & The One – Baby Don’t Talk
mp3 : Peter Perret – An Epic Story

We went off to watch some footy on the big screen and play some pool. The pool got quite contentious but the final score was 3 to Steve and 2 to Tom. It’s not my fault he loves potting the black. I tried my best to lose to him, I really did. Then more food. I mean fucking loads. We went to the American style diner. I had a cheeseburger, topped with a chicken burger and some bacon. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking ‘Steve you earned that burger topped burger after all your swimming’ Damn straight.

We got back in time for the The Nova Twins, they had come highly recommended so we were eager. They were okay I guess, but I didn’t click with them. That said, the crowd fucking loved them and I was in a food coma. so I might not the best person to ask. They looked lively. The tune Vortex is a banger.

After that it was the Jesus and Mary Chain. One of the main reasons I’d come was for JAMC. I love my bands when they have dry ice and strobes so you can’t see how badly they’ve aged. Nice one lads, you should have seen the rest of us, not a proper hair line among the crowd although many of us were convinced that our skinny jeans still fit (imagine the buzzer noise from Family Fortunes here)

A crowd pleasing set followed, April Skies, Just Like Honey, Candy Talking, Head On etc etc.. they also played a couple of newer songs – Amputation stands out as a clear winner although they didn’t play my favourite song, Snakedriver, so in their own vernacular they can get tae fuk.

mp3 : The Jesus and Marcy Chain – Amputation

After that we opted again for Burger King and back to the chalet. The other option was listening to Steve Lamacq playing some records and I’d spent hours in the 1990s doing that. I can’t imagine he’s improved.

Sunday! Bloody Sunday! More breakfast! The good thing about a buffet at breakfast is the amount of melon I eat. I never eat melon after a fry up in real life. It was practically a health spa weekend. Seriously, melon for breakfast, like I’m Meghan Markel or something!

After breakfast we went for a walk along the beach. We saw a seagull the size of a fucking bouncer. Hard bastard he was, instead of stealing chips, he was nicking B&H out of ten year old’s mouths.

There was more pool after the beach, some would say that Tom won because a 5 – nil drubbing meant he was ahead 7-3 but those people would be wrong as it was clearly a two legged affair where goal difference doesn’t count. The ‘final’ was decided Tom potted the black. Sorry man, I *don’t* make the ”rules”.

Music wise, Sunday had a lot to offer. True to form we dicked around too long so the first band we saw was Brix and Extricated. It was curio for me as I was only ever ‘okay’ with The Fall . The best songs they played were Fall songs. The stand out was Glam Racket , from 1992 which was co-written by guitarist Steve Hanley. You have the feeling that this band consider themselves a sequel to The Fall.

Brix was followed by The Wedding Present. The Weddoes were another reason for me being here. I have loved them in most of the forms they have taken. I am more of a Bizarro fan than Seamonsters or George Best and I was well served with Brassneck, Kennedy and What Have I Said Now. There was enough classics and enough ‘new stuff’ to keep everyone happy. For new stuff read post 2004 reunion. My fave WP song is Montreal which they didn’t play. I am more forgiving than I am of JAMC because of all the Bizarro stuff. Gedge introduced the band as an Indie supergroup as they have the drummer from My Life Story and the guitarist from Sleeper. To paraphrase Ross’s girlfriend from Friends; Playing it fast and loose with the word super, there.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Kennedy

Closing band of the weekend were Fontaines DC. or The Fontaines as everyone seemed to be calling them. I’d not encountered them before, but alarm bells rang when my friend Ian mentioned that they were like Oasis crossed with the Pogues. If only it was the other way around, Ian.. If only.

Look, I know I’m a contrarian. My favourite Byrds album is Byrdsmaniax, I think Squeeze is a legitimate part of the VU discography and Greedo shot first (that last one is bollocks, but my back is up). Seriously, I’m not on board with these guys. Tom (who has more of an open mind than me when it comes to not pre-judging) looked at me with a face that said MEH and I thought he was being generous. It was like every student uni band that you ever saw. I can only assume that people are enjoying them because new bands are so insipid that anyone offering a slight element of danger seems like The Stooges. Sorry guys. BUT! Look on the bright side, I’m in my 40s, you don’t fucking want me in your fan base… all of those people who were there getting into you who were also in their 40s were taking some real cool points off you though. Soz.  (editor’s note……I disagree with the our reviewer’s take on Fontaines DC…Santa was kind enough to bring me the debut album….and they will be getting a further mention on this blog in a couple of days time)

And that was that. We skipped Burger King (I’m lying here, for effect.. we had double Burger King because we knew it’d be our last… Take that colon!) Then breakfast again and then nothing. Fuck. Well not completely nothing, we got back to the chalet and the radio was playing Five Star! Proper Five Star with all the members intact. WOO HOO!

To sum up – It’s fucking rubbish not living in Butlins, they have a little shop that charges three quid for a diet coke. That’s an amazing mark up. A few years ago I was offered a job with Pontins and I’ve sent them an email to see if it’s still going. Oh and I’ve booked Rockaway Beach for next year. Bands, burger king, amusements, swimming, pool, grabby machines and rambling old men.

Rockaway Bi-atches!

STEVE

JC adds……

I’ve known Steve a good number of years, initailly through our collective love for Butcher Boy.  He was kind enough to allow me to use his FB thoughts on a Sgt Pepper tribute album for a posting last year and I was delighted when he said yes when I asked if he fancied penning a review of Rockaway Beach 2020.  Here’s hoping he feels like contributing more stuff over the coming months.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #195 : LOWLIFE

Lowlife are a band that I know next-to-nothing about despite them enjoying a recording/performing career of some twelve years in the 80s/90s. All I could have told you was that I was aware of the name, partly from the fact it had been taken from an exceptional album by New Order and from reading somewhere that Will Guthrie, formerly of Cocteau Twins, was a member. I can’t recall ever hearing their music played, although looking the artwork across the five albums they released during the time they were together, I can recall seeing some of their CDs in the racks of record shops. What I had no idea of was that Hugh Duggie, who is both a lifelong friend of Jacques the Kipper and whose work with Foil and Sons of the Descent have featured previously on the blog, was also a member of Lowlife for a period of time. What now follows is gleamed from on-line research.

The band had originally began life in the early 80s as Dead Neighbours, by all accounts a psychobilly four-piece band heavily influenced by The Cramps. They hailed from Grangemouth, which was the home town of Liz Frazer and Robin Guthrie, and indeed it was the latter’s brother, Brian Guthrie who managed the band. It was during the recording of Dead Neighbours second album in 1983 that Will Heggie came on board to help out after the unexpected departure of the bass player. By the following year, the guitarist had also left, unhappy with an increasing shift away from the psychobilly stuff, and the new-look four piece decided to do away with the original name and begin again as Lowlife, consisting of Craig Lorentson (vocals), Will Heggie (bass), Stuart Everest (guitar), and Grant McDowall (drums), with Brian Guthrie not only maintaining his role as manager but forming a new label, Nightshift Records, specifically to release their material.

This line-up would release two albums, two singles and two albums between 1985 and 1987, a period in which they supported The Go-Betweens on a UK tour (sadly, a tour that I didn’t see) as well as appear on a number of shows recorded by BBC Scotland. It was most likely around this time that I would have read about Lowlife and the Cocteau Twins connection, but it didn’t spur me on to check them out.

There would be three more albums between 1989 and 1995, recorded by different line-ups, with the latter two featuring the afore-mentioned Hugh Duggie on guitar. Vocalist Craig Lorentson was the only member to appear on all releases.

It is worth mentioning that the band came through a number of periods when circumstances where things were stacked against them, not least the collapse of Rough Trade Distribution in 1991 which impacted immensely on Nightshift Records, while earlier on, in 1988, they came very close, through a publishing arrangement, to landing a deal with Warner Brothers only for it to collapse as result of an internal changes within the company. The lack of any commercial success eventually took its toll and the band called it a day in 1997.

The one track I have in my possession comes courtesy of the New Gold Dreams boxset:-

mp3 : Lowlife – Hollow Gut

It is the lead track on the Vain Delights EP from 1986, which was recorded and issued in-between the first and second albums. It’s really very listenable…..you can hear all sorts of influences on it, and it wouldn’t have sounded out of place at an indie/goth night. If anyone out there has any more material, I’d be very happy for a guest contribution, possibly an ICA?

In 2007, LTM Recordings re-released the first four albums recorded by Lowlife, adding in the EPs, singles and radio session appearances, together with extensive notes provided by Brian Guthrie. This led to something of a re-kindling of interest in the band but any plans to fully reform couldn’t be followed through as Craig Lorenton wasn’t in the best of health, and indeed he passed away at the tragically young age of 44 in June 2010, as a result of liver and kidney problems.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #235 : MICHAEL HALL

A GUEST POSTING by HYBRID SOC PROF,
our Michigan Correspondent

My last five years on the radio in Santa Cruz, there were two ideas behind my show. The first was that there was a staggering amount of great music being made that hardly anyone was hearing and, relatedly, if I could start my show more quietly and accessibly with each set getting louder and each set being louder than the last, then I might push the bounds of listeners’ existing tolerances into new realms.

Michael Hall began his musical career as one of the two consistent members of the cowpunk -as I knew it in the mid-80s – band, Wild Seeds. Big in their hometown of Austin, Texas, and a group people who frequented independent record shops and/or listened to college radio had likely heard of, even if they hadn’t heard much from them. Hall wrote, sang and played guitar for the band, though he handed off vocals to the magnificent Kris McKay (see “Baby You Scare Me” as well as the bonus track below) over the course of the band’s short life… a life killed off by the bankruptcy of their label in 1989.

The release of his first solo record, Quarter to Three (1990), was sufficiently limited that I full on missed it and only started to catch up with Love is Murder (1992). You’re not into music if you haven’t purchased or taken a listen to a record for no other reason than the cover art… Love is Murder has a young 1950s couple looking out the back window of a yellow sedan, smiling, below which you read the album title. Then there are the song titles, “Let’s Take Some Drugs and Drive Around” (included here), “Put Down that Pig”, “What Did They Do with the President’s Brain”? What I found was that Hall was absolutely irreverent, a great recounter of the crap life can be and yet utterly and completely and totally infatuated with the prospect of robust, deep, permanent love… while unstinting in chronicling its contradictions. See “Baby You Scare Me.” If you want the more humorous tunes, they’re on youtube, you’ll enjoy them, but the others are more skillful and moving, rich and rewarding (I’ve been reading Horkheimer and Adorno on “The Culture Industry,” mea culpa.)

1994’s Adequate Desire was next, and Hall introduced a new theme to his work, on top of love, there’s now death. The death of love and just plain murder, untethered from love, arrives with Day (1996), but so also does “The Museum of Giant Puppets, PA.” The next two records are with a band he assembled, The Woodpeckers, before a final album, The Song He Was Listening to When He Died, in 2006. As far as I can tell, and as others I’ve read have reported, it seems like Hall called it quits after that record. You can find articles by him in publications connected to Austin in one way or another, after 2006, but I tried writing him an email to express my admiration and hopes for more in the pipeline 7-8 years ago… no response.

Even to his most conventionally structured songs, there’s a narrative and visual quality to Hall’s work that always moves me in one way or another. There’s an emotional sophistication and nuanced analytic sensibility I rarely find in any genre. It irked me that musicians like Hall didn’t get recognition, fame, and money for their skills when I was younger and maybe that these ICAs (my first outlet for 25 years for getting music out into some semblance of a public arena) that is what’s dredging these feelings up again, but I simply can’t understand how work this good didn’t sell. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know labels and distribution deals and cost structures and life happenings and the fickle blinders of popular taste but jeez so, so, so much talent has been denied/wrecked/wasted over the years, it’s just not right.) Hope this goes over well and you drink of it deeply.

1. Michael Hall – Let’s Take Some Drugs and Drive Around – from Love is Murder (1992)
2. Michael Hall – Amelia – from The Song He Was Listening to When He Died (2006)
3. Michael Hall – Las Vegas – from Day (1996)
4. Michael Hall – Baby You Scare Me – from Love is Murder (1992)
5. Michael Hall – I Just Do – from Adequate Desire (1994)
6. Michael Hall – The Museum of Giant Puppets, PA – from Day (1996)
7. Michael Hall – Hello, Mr. Death – from Adequate Desire (1994)
8. Michael Hall – Their First Murder – from Day (1996)
9. Michael Hall – River of Love – from Love is Murder (1992)
10. Michael Hall and the Woodpeckers – The Train will Surely Come – from Dead by Dinner (1999)

Bonus: Kris McKay – One Man Crusade (Rainer Ptacek cover) – from The Inner Flame – A Tribute to Rainer Ptacek (2012 – second release)

HSP

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 30)

As I said in the previous entry in this series, some songs make for the very saddest of short stories. Particularly when they are true.

Between Marx and marzipan in the dictionary there was Mary
Between the Deep Blue Sea and the Devil that was me

If ever anyone could help me with my obsession with
The young Suzannah York
It was Mary

In my pink pajamas she asked me for something
I gave her the short answer

She read our stars out loud
And I knew then that we should have gone sailing

But we stayed home instead
Fighting on the water bed
Like the honeymoon couple on drugs

Me and Mary

What happened in the past
Remained a mystery of natural history

She should have been the last
But she was just the latest

If she wanted to be a farmer’s wife
I would endure that muddy life
I would dig for victory

And the sound of happy couples
Coupling happily in the dark
While you and I sat down to tea
I remember you said to me
That no amount of poetry
Would mend this broken heart
But you can put the Hoover round
If you want to make a start

All my friends from school
Introduce me to their spouses
While I’m left standing here
With my hands down the front of my trousies

I just don’t know what’s to be done
I wonder sometimes how did Dad meet Mum
And how did they conceive of me

Tell me Mary

The boys who came to the shop
Always made her laugh much more than I did

When I told her this must stop
She didn’t bat an eyelid

She said you know honey it’s such a shame
You’ll never be any good at this game
You bruise too easily

So said Mary

Her two brothers took me out
Of circulation for the duration

So we went our separate ways but does she still love me
She still has my door key

Like a bully boy in a Benetton shop
You’re never happy with what you’ve got
Till what you’ve got has gone

Sorry Mary

mp3 : Billy Bragg – The Short Answer (Peel Session)

The opening line is just genius. The remainder are incredibly moving, with just the right mix of nostalgia, regret and an understanding that some things, in the long run, are for the best. We’ve all been there, haven’t we????

JC

BRASSNECK

It was turning into a dull and routine Friday at work in mid-November, counting down the hours till the freedom of the weekend arrived, when this text from Aldo flashed up on the phone:-

“You going to the Weddoes tonight? Only just noticed they were playing.”

I too, hadn’t picked up they were in town, despite the fact it had been included within a couple of previous e-mails sent out to everybody of the TWP/Cinerama mailing lists. Luckily, there were a small number of tickets still available and six hours later, along with Mrs Villain, the three of us made our way inside The Classic Grand, a former porn cinema long ago converted into a music venue.

The band were on tour for the 30th anniversary of Bizarro and the promise was that the songs from that album would be aired alongside some other old favourities and a few new songs. The venue was mobbed….Aldo at the age of 39 was within the 3% minority of those aged under 45. I caught up with a few old friends who I had an inkling would be there, including Robert and Carlo from the Simply Thrilled Team, and Drew from Across the Kitchen Table fame, who was there with his other half, L.

You only need to take a glance at the set-list to see the sort of night we were treated to:-

California
Brassneck
Crushed
No
Don’t Give Up Without a Fight
Thanks
Kennedy
Montreal
Click Click
Don’t Touch That Dial
Deer Caught in the Headlights
A Song From Under the Floorboards
What Have I Said Now?
Telemark
Granadaland
Bewitched
Be Honest
Take Me!

California was a lovely way to open the night, but the place truly erupted with the opening notes of the song which opens Bizarro:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Brassneck

It is still hard to believe that the band weren’t entirely happy with the way the song had turned out after their initial stint in the studio, but then again, as I’ve only recently discovered from reading published and on-line material, the band were, certainly in the early days, just about consistently critical of the recorded versions of their songs, taking the view that they lacked a certain energy or excitement in comparison to how they were played live.

Kennedy had been the only single lifted from the album and while it had taken the band into the Top 40, its peak of #33 had been a bit disappointing to RCA, the major label to which the band had recently signed. There was always a wish to have a second single but the band persuaded all concerned that everyone’s interests would be better served if they could go back into the studio and have another go at Brassneck, this time with the irrepressible Steve Albini in the producer’s chair (albeit his preference is to be referred to as the audio engineer).

He trimmed down the track by about thirty seconds while beefing up, (to put it mildly), the arrangement with a few of his specialities including what many have referred to as the sound of a distressed beached whale during an instrumental break (something he would make huge use of later on when he worked with the band on Seamonsters (1991).

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Brassneck (single version)

This one went Top 30…..an improvement on last time out but still a bit too low for the liking of the bosses. The continued failure of the band to really make a dent in the charts led to the situation in 1992 when the band released a single on the first Monday of each month, only to have it deleted within a matter of days, meaning there would be enough sales to propel the 45 into the charts for one week only – it was something of a mixed success but it did lead to Come Play With Me giving them their one and only Top 10 success in May 1992.

The relative success of Brassneck did, however, provide the band their first ever appearance on Top of The Pops. It wasn’t the most memorable of performances, explained in later years by David Gedge:-

“I wasn’t pissed off and I was just following an old tradition established by some of my heroes… those punk bands who didn’t take Top Of The Pops seriously and who took the mickey out of the whole ‘miming’ thing. I started doing it during the TV rehearsals, fully expecting a producer or director to tell me to stop messing about but no one did. So with each run-through it became a little more… extreme. The Brassneck video was the inspiration for the Top Of The Pops performance, actually, with the band looking bored and oblivious to the frantic, theatrical performance art going on around us. The two things aren’t that dissimilar…”

The re-recorded single was released on 7”, 12”, cassette and CD, with another three tracks on offer, all recorded with Albini on engineering duties:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Don’t Talk Just Kiss
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Gone
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Box Elder

The first two are Gedge originals, while the last of them is a cover of an early Pavement song, with all of them featuring heavily over the years in any lists of favourite songs drawn up by TWP fans.

Brassneck itself is one of the best and most enduring numbers the band ever recorded, as epitomised by its reception that evening in Glasgow  – only the cheers after Kennedy and Take Me! were louder, and the latter was mostly to do with it signifying the end of the show as TWP, for those who don’t know, never do encores…..

It’s a song that shouldn’t really be mucked about with, but fair play to Mr Gedge in that he selected it as one that should be given the this treatment for a one-off live set he performed in 2009 with the BBC Big Band. Click here if you dare…..

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #234 : POP WILL EAT ITSELF

A GUEST CONTRIBUTION by ACIDTED

Sixteen Different Flavours of PWEI – ICA

I’ve admired all the ICAs over the years and read the majority. I was going to do one on Weatherall but Swiss Adam beat me to it (and, frankly, did a better job than I would have done). But it’s rankled that the spread of artists has left out one of the most successful acts from that fertile period of the late 80s through to the mid-90s. I talk of the mighty Pop Will Eat Itself (hereinafter PWEI). This ICA has been two years in the making, hoping that someone else would remember their glittering brilliance. I can wait no longer. If no-one else it going to do it properly then I’m going to have a half-arsed go at it.

PWEI seem unfairly airbrushed out of UK pop history. They were never cool. But they were better than many (Hello, The Fall). They had 11 Top 40 UK hits in the period 1989-1994. Fundamentally, they were fun and raucous but capable of striking an unexpectedly political note. This ICA is a double album. 16 tracks (14 on the regular LP and an extra two on the remix 12″) in honour of their Sixteen Different Flavours of Hell track, which was also the name of their 1993 compilation album.

PWEI, originally Wild And Wandering, started in the mid-80s and their members included Clint Mansell, Graham Crabb, Adam Mole and Richard Marsh. They were famously named after a phrase in a David Quantick review in NME of Jamie Wednesday (who would go on to become Carter (The Unstoppable Sex Machine)). On with the music…

Side One

1. Def Con One 7″ Mix (from Feasting Frenzy)

A kinda chronological set of hits on this side. But starting with their final single before breaking into the Top 40. The Poppies’ early work had been indie racket, Grebo and a bit of a mess. The less said about Beaver Patrol the better. But then they clearly had a bit of an epiphany with The Beasties Boys and gleefully grabbed onto the hip hop sampling with guitars that defines their best work. Starting with scratching and a sample this blasts us into orbit with their party vibes and adoption of popular culture icons, with the chanting of “gimme Big Mac and fries to go.” I should admit that for many. many years I misheard it as “Big Mac and the price of gold.”

2. Can U Dig It? (from This Is The Hour… This Is The Day… This is This)

More party vibes here. Lots of rocky guitar and lyrics that are a list of all good things. These include AC/DC, Twilight Zone, Optimus Prime, Run DMC, Terminator, Hit The North and “Alan Moore knows the score.” In the wrong hands this could be a drunken closing time singalong. But it’s way more fun than that and the selection shows a balance between low brow and high brow.

3. Wise Up! Sucker (taken from This is The Hour… This is the Day… This is This!)

Although this follows the guitars and samples of Can U Dig It? it’s a sort of love song to lost love. The chorus of “She Loves Me. She Loves Me Not” It’s also where the Sixteen Different Flavours of Hell lyric comes from. But the angry title is also a warning. All very blokish, yes. But great nonetheless.

4. Touched By The Hand of Cicciolina – The Incredi-Bull Mix

Ahead of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, they released this cracking track that showed a different style. There’s still hip hop here. The title steals from New Order and references Italian pornstar Ilona Staller. But it also takes in dub and in this version dispenses with shouty lyrics altogether in favour of something that should have been used as the theme music for the ITV World Cup goals show reel. Sadly, that was not to be. The Bull in the title is a reference to their West Midlands roots, support for Wolves legend Steve Bull.

5. Dance of the Mad Bastards (taken from Cure For Sanity)

The shoutiness returns on this track but there are funky drummer breaks, funk bass and a greater sense of space and self-confidence. I’ve always assumed the “get Up And Get On It” is Lemmy from Motorhead. But I don’t really know. This track also marks their move from hip hop into the fringes of house. They would get closer still but never quite gave up their fondness for industrial and axe attacks.

6. X, Y and Zee (taken from Cure For Sanity)

This track from 1991 and the successor 92° mark the closest they got to house music. But it’s also a more obviously political track. Hidden among the pop culture references to George Jetson is an environmental and unity theme.

7. 92° (The Third Degree) – Boilerhouse “The Birth Mix”

This starts off with that optimistic house staple the choppy house piano that sets a lighter than usual musical tone. There’s talk of a “hardcore dance floor.” And in a UK that was getting more house obsessed by 1991 this got to #23 in the Charts. Proper wave your hands in the air stuff.

8. Karmadrome (taken from The Looks or The Lifestyle?)

This 1992 track ends side 1. It also marks a step back from house music and back towards hip hop and industrial guitars. But it also has the most wonderful choir chorus of the title, starting at 0:50. As they say, “The Power Exists in Everyone.”

Side 2

9. PWEIzation (taken from Very Metal Noise Pollution EP)

Side 2 is more of a delve across the PWEI archives. And it seemed fitting to start with this tune that seemed almost like a theme track. This offers a rallying cry, to keep watching the skies. A signal to cure isolation. Sirens wail, guitars tumble and beats clatter around in wild abandon.

10. Not Now James. We’re Busy (taken from This is The Hour… This is the Day… This is This!)

A paean to James Brown. But with the Poppies usual undercutting humour he isn’t allowed a look in. Whenever JB wants to “get up and do my thang” he’s told “Not now James, we’re busy.” In actuality the track is based around James Brown’s arrest and jailing in 1988 following a car chase that started in Georgia, went through South Carolina before returning to Georgia, where he was arrested.

11. Ich Bin Ein Auslander (taken from Dos Degos Mis Amidos)

A turn for the straightforwardly political. A track that asks us to face attitudes in England towards immigration and identifies with the other. It talks of the “rise of the right” and shows that today’s Stormzy controversy is nothing new. The track takes Eastern instruments and a load of Led Zep samples to produce probably their most powerful track. Musically works today, politically still sadly works today.

12. Bulletproof! (taken from The Looks or the Lifestyle?)

After that, something lighter. Is Everybody Happy? The young and invincible sounds of Bulletproof! More singalong choruses than you could shake a stick at and even plenty of “yeah, a-ha” for the terminally stupefied.

13. Eat Me Drink Me Dub Me Kill Me

Although the title As the album starts to wind down a bit of Lewis Carrol referencing in the title to this track. Alice is absent but what you do get is a dubbed out version of this track from 1992. The beats do sound a bit dated in places but the Ofra Haza sample and thundering bass drum dub save it. It’s a bit of contemplation of mortality with its references to Belushi and private hell.

14. Reclaim The Game – Funk FIFA

Although PWEI disbanded in 1995 (despite a brief reformation in 2005) there is a Pop Will Eat Itself going today. They are clear that they’re a different band, despite having a couple of original members. But they’re not out of ideas. This funky Brazilian influenced attack on FIFA’s management of the beautiful game stands up alongside anything from their heyday.

Remix 12″

Side A.

Get The Girl, Kill The Baddies! – Part Man Part Machine

Graham Crabb had a career as Golden Claw Music producing serious ambient sounds after PWEI folded. This wandering 14 minute ambient remix of PWEI’s only top 10 hit shows that this was some time in the gestation. It’s an industrial ambient track full of alien menace and waves on the shore.

Side B.

Cape Connection – Transglobal Underground Cossack In UFO Encounter Confusion (taken from Two Fingers My Friends!)

Before they disbanded PWEI released a double album of remixes from which this track is taken. It ranks among their finest. And this is the standout track. PWEI’s guitars are set far back. World Music Beats and tablas are brought to the forefront, with the most enormous bass drum. All topped off with a Russian choir. What more could you ask for? Play loud. Very loud.

PWEI were pop stalwarts that never got the credit they deserved. Their more serious moments didn’t get fully acknowledged. But for a singalong party they can’t be bettered.

https://shop.popwilleatitself.net/

PWEI ICA, a playlist by acidtedblog on Spotify : A playlist featuring Pop Will Eat Itself

acidted

JC adds……

This dropped in to me over the Festive period.  It put a huge smile on my face as acidted has been my longest-serving guest contributor – it was the fact that so many of his efforts were wiped out by Google when they took the old blog that got me particularly angry.

He was also the first non-Glasgow blogger I ever met face-to-face – way back in October 2009 when I was down in London to watch the Tampa Bay Buccanners get thrashed by the New England Patriots – and to my eternal shame we haven’t managed to get together in person since that Sunday morning. But we have stayed in touch by e-mail over the years – and I will always be in his debt for the times he stepped in to keep TVV up and running when personal circumstances meant I had to take a couple of extended breaks in 2010 and 2011.

PWEI were on my list of ‘must-do’ ICAs.  I’ve written preciously about some of the songs in this amazing compilation and there’s a number of others that I would have included in a future effort; however, I wouldn’t have been able to bring you Reclaim The Game or Cape Connection as I wasn’t aware of them until now.

Thanks mate.   Hugely appreciated.

Oh, and there’s a few more equally wonderful guest ICAs coming up over the next few weeks, all of which I’ve been sitting on for months.  Cheers to the contributors for their patience and understanding.

THIS SEARING LIGHT, THE SUN AND EVERYTHING ELSE

I’m the proud owner of a substantial number of books which, as a result of my sad inability to throw anything away, are taking up an increasing amount of space in Villain Towers to the disgust of Rachel whose efforts to modernise and improve its interiors are constantly thwarted by my storage requirements.

The vast majority of the books are music and sports related, consisting in the main of biographies in some shape or form. Among these are something in the region of 20 books related to Factory Records/Joy Division/New Order/The Hacienda, with the latest two additions coming via Christmas presents, one of which was the wonderfully entertaining first volume of autobiography by Stephen Morris, whose often self-deprecating effort far surpasses those of his bandmates Hooky and Barney, as much for the fact that he doesn’t use the book to rant about old grievances – but given that Record Play Pause only goes up to the formation of New Order, it may well be that a further and much anticipated volume will go down that path.

The other new book was This Searing Light, The Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division – The Oral History , whose author is Jon Savage.

The book was published in April 2019 and received great reviews, but I refrained from buying it at the time as I thought it would be more or less a cut’n’paste effort consisting of a re-hash of the tales told elsewhere in books by so other authors over the years. It was only when I pulled out the author’s Unknown Pleasures review from 1979 as part of the Festive Period series (click here) did I realise that here was someone who really did get to the heart and soul of the band and was probably the most qualified to do justice to the task, and so it was put on Santa’s list.

The book duly arrived on 25 December and I began to read it that evening, on the basis that it would be an easy enough book to dip in and out of while also turning my attention to some of the other books that had ended up under the tree. I spent hours engrossed in its contents and ended up not going to bed until some ungodly hour which set the tone for a stupid sleep pattern right through until my return to work on 6 January. As soon as I woke up, my nose was back in between its wonderful looking hardback cover and plans to watch or do other things were put on hold as what I was devouring and enjoying immensely was the definitive story of Joy Division that hasn’t been bettered.

For the most part, there was very little I didn’t already know – but the new snippets of information were invaluable and, in one particular case, a real game-changer in terms of how I’ve always thought about things over the past almost 40 years since Ian Curtis took his life. The author lets others do the talking, and offers a mixture of new interviews with those still living as well as dipping into archives to enable the voices of people such as Tony Wilson, Martin Hannett and Rob Gretton to be heard. It’s very clear that the questions Jon Savage has posed to everyone while carrying out the work involved to piece the book together were far from run-of-the-mill, and there’s a sense that everyone responding has been able to be wholly open and transparent about things, secure that what they say will be written down and then put in print, even if it those words are at odds with one of the other contributors or indeed are different from what has been said by them before.

One of the most fascinating things about this book is that it gives much more space to Peter Saville and Annik Honore than any previous publications, enabling them to fill in some gaps and to also offer up a sense of what really went on when so many others, over the years, have mythologised many of the events and happenings.

There’s also some incredibly reflective words throughout from the late Tony Wilson, many of which feel as if they were provided in what must have been one of the last of the detailed interviews he gave before his death. It is entirely fitting that the book is dedicated to Wilson, a lifelong hero of mine and my memory of the one time we met and spoke briefly for all of 45 seconds will never leave me; worth mentioning also that the book’s semingly strange title is taken directly from one of the quotes he provided to the author.

This Searing Light also benefits from being exactly what it says on the cover. There’s just a few reflections into the early lives and upbringings of everyone in the band and it comes to a halt just after Ian Curtis’s funeral, with no mention of what was still to come for Factory or the emergence of New Order. It is the story of a band whose fans at the time could never ever have imagined the impact they would make or the legacy they would provide, so much so that more than 40 years on, there is still much to be fascinated by.

One thing it did remind me of was just how young and largely inexperienced the other band members were at the time. The infamous Stiff/Chiswick challenge took place on 14 April 1978….all four members were 20-22 years old. They had yet to have Gretton, Wilson or Hannett come into their lives to help shape things. Just two years and one month later, it was all over.

So much transpired between April 78 and May 80 that even now it feels overwhelming, so it must have been nigh on impossible to deal with first-hand.

The book also provides a stark reminder that Joy Division, being on a largely unheralded and small label in Manchester, didn’t ever really find too much fame, until they were no more, beyond the pages of the music papers. The biggest shows they ever played was as the support act on a UK tour by Buzzcocks and nobody was getting rich from any of it, with life seeming to be not far off a hand-to-mouth existence for the most part. There was little glamour and a lot of hard slogging.

The onset of the singer’s epilepsy does seem to have been beyond the belief and understanding of all concerned – including the university-educated Wilson – and it wasn’t helped by the fact that the treatment on offer from the medical professions seems to have been haphazard and involved a lot of guesswork – it certainly got me re-assessing my own long-held views that if the others around him had been more understanding or proactive back in the day, then the suicide could have been prevented.

mp3 : Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

18 May 2020 will mark the 40th anniversary of the suicide, and will be a time when you’ll be sure to read many tributes, words and reflections across all forms of media. I’m willing to bet that none of them will better what Jon Savage has delivered across these 326 pages.

JC