A C86 BAND WHO BROKE UP BEFORE THE GENRE WAS INVENTED

The June Brides were featured as part of the 2015 series that looked back at all the songs on the compilation CD86 : 48 Songs From The Birth of Indiepop. At the time I wrote:-

“There’s a case to be made that this lot had no right to be part of CD86. They had formed in London back in 1983 and the following year saw two cracking singles released on Pink Records. Twelve months later the debut LP (albeit it only had 8 tracks including the two old songs and a cover version) came out, again on Pink Records, and went to the top of the indie charts and was one of the best-selling and most popular of the genre in 1985.

Come 1986, the year that saw the birth of indie-pop according to one OTT statement on the sleeve of CD 86, The June Brides had moved to a new label called In-Tape on which there were two further singles as well as the honour of opening for The Smiths on their tour of Ireland. However, before the year was out the band had decided to call it a day with lead singer and songwriter Phil Wilson shortly afterwards embarking on a solo career.”

My big book of indie music reveals that absolutely everything The June Brides wrote and recorded, with the exception of their final single, pre-dated 1986. They were a band who never hid the fact of who their biggest influences were, and in the same way as Jonathan Richman had paid tribute to his beloved Velvet Underground by writing a song about them, so too did Phil Wilson pen a tribute to Josef K, and in particular what he felt was the tragedy of them breaking up:-

mp3 : The June Brides – Josef’s Gone

The song was stuck away as one of the two additional tracks made available on the 12″ release of their third single and their first release for new label In Tape.

mp3 : The June Brides – No Place Called Home

It’s a fine little tune that sold in decent enough numbers to hit #3 on the Indie Charts in December 1985 but by this time the main singer and songwriter was getting disillusioned with things and the band called it a day some six months later.

Here’s the b-side of the single and the other extra track on the 12″:-

mp3 : The June Brides – We Belong
mp3 : The June Brides – On The Rocks

The use of the trumpet and viola gave the band a unique sound. They really deserved to have enjoyed far more success than they experienced. Maybe just a wee bit too ahead of their time as their sort of sound became more fashionable in the early 90s by which time Phil Wilson was working as a tax inspector.

As I’ve said before, there really is no justice in the world of pop music.

JC

ON MANCHESTER

I woke up to the numbing news about the atrocity following the Ariana Grande gig at the Manchester Arena last night.

Offering opinions about music seems so trivial right now and on the way into work I was making plans to close T(n)VV for a few days as I didn’t feel in the mood for any of it, including popping in and out of the other places I try and visit on a regular basis.

But then I thought to myself that such a gesture, small and insignificant it might be, only helps those who carried out this shameful attack on young, happy and carefree music fans.  So this blog is carrying on as normal with the posts that are scheduled over the coming days appearing at the usual times – there’s even a couple of bonus posts in the shape of gig reviews today and tomorrow.

For now, and with thanks to a non-musical mate called John Egan for the inspiration, this is for everyone affected by last night, including every resident of that fantastic city and its surroundings:-

JC

BONUS POST : DID THEY CUT THE MUSTARD IN 2017? #7 : LUKE HAINES

SATURDAY 13 MAY 2007 : LUKE HAINES

THE HUG & PINT, GLASGOW

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You look forward to a show or event for months on end only for the anticipated pleasure to be ruined by something completely unrelated. Welcome to my sour-faced review of An Evening with Luke Haines as experienced on Saturday 13 May 2017.

The tickets, for myself and Jacques the Kipper, were bought some four months in advance and seemed to be a great way for us to enjoy what was scheduled to be the first weekend after the end of the football season as well as giving me something to look forward to just a few days after the last of the stragglers had gone home after the Bloggers Weekend. The problem, however, was that Raith Rovers FC didn’t follow the script, tail-spinning out of control in the final few months of the season and finding themselves in a relegation play-off, with the second leg of the semi-final being the same day as the gig.

It still shouldn’t have been an issue; after all the game was kicking off at 3pm and by the time it was over there would still be plenty of time to get down to Glasgow in leisurely fashion enjoying what, on paper, should have been a comfortable passage to the final (albeit the scheduling of the final was going to lead to different scheduling issues for both of us).

The game went to extra time and then penalties. OK, that would have made us late in getting down to Glasgow but still in time for the show albeit we would need to cut short the plans to enjoy, at a leisurely pace, some food and drink beforehand. But Rovers somehow contrived to lose the shoot out and thus suffer the ignominy of relegation to the third tier of Scottish football just 12 months. It’s fair to say it put a dampener on things for us.

What I really needed to cheer me up was a quality performance from the curmudgeonly king of anti-Britpop. A show in which he sang a few songs interspersed with some scathing observations on love, live and the landscape of pop and politics in the 21st Century as he regularly dispenses via various strands of social. An evening in which some OTT grumpiness would blow away the black clouds of despondency floating above my head. But wouldn’t you know it – Luke Haines turned out to a charming, debonair and cheerful bloke on stage and not at all what I, nor I suspect most of the audience, was expecting.

There were plenty of songs, some from the back catalogue and many from the more recent solo career with a fair sprinkling from the bonkers but occasionally brilliant (and nigh-on impossible to find) concept LP Nine and a Half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and early ’80s that he released back in 2011. There was the occasional barbed comment and there was one extended reading from Bad Vibes, the first of his two autobiographical volumes. All in all, it was a very decent and worthy night.

But it just didn’t do it for me.

Yes, it was great to hear the songs and it was almost worth the ticket price alone for the book reading session (his particular targets on this occasion were Chris Evans and Ocean Colour Scene). But I came away wishing he had spent more time being annoyed and hacked off than seemingly happy and content with his lot. It turned out to be more akin to a night with Martin Stephenson (which itself is never a bad thing as folk who remember my reviews over on the old blog can testify) when I was desperate for something more along the lines of a tuneful and more sarcastic Henry Rollins.

Come back soon Luke Haines as I will ensure I’m there for a second helping. But please, don’t wear the comfy slippers this time round. Here’s three of tunes aired on the night in question.

mp3 : The Auteurs – Underground Movies
mp3 : Luke Haines – Baader Meinhof
mp3 : Luke Haines – Gorgeous George

JC

RE-ISSUE, RE-PACKAGE TO CASH IN ON NEW EXPOSURE

The the film Trainspotting back in 1996 brought Iggy Pop to a whole new audience. In what is one of the most memorable opening sequences ever committed to celluloid, two of the main characters run as if their lives depend on escaping their pursuers (it would transpire they were running to evade capture after a shoplifting expedition to feed their drug habit), to the accompaniment of Lust for Life.

It led to Virgin Records, for whom Iggy had been recording since the early 90s, to re-release the single complete with video in which Iggy did his topless Iggy-dance interspersed with clips from the movie. The re-release got to #26 in the charts. I found a copy of the single in a charity shop years later for 20p…an absolute bargain given it had two live tracks and an admittedly appalling cover version making up the b-sides:-

mp3 : Iggy Pop – (Get Up I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine
mp3 : Iggy Pop – Lust for Life (live)
mp3 : Iggy Pop – I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)

Lust for Life was recorded at an outdoor festival gig in Ireland in the summer of 1993 while I Wanna Be Your Dog was from the Rock For Choice event at the Hollywood Palladium in 1995.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #126 : CLYDE McPHATTER

A GUEST POSTING FROM GEORGE FORSYTH

There’s far too much indie nonsense in these ICAs. Who needs a Fall/New Order/Jam/Clash ICA, we’ve got all their damned records anyway! Well, maybe not the Jam. Or the Clash. Or New Order. So here’s an ICA of an artist whose best work was recorded well before any of us were born, and I suspect, rather shockingly, of whom some people visiting these pages might never have heard. His majestic vocal talents inspired a whole host of other singers such as Jackie Wilson, Aaron Neville, Ben E. King and Smokey Robinson. It’s a Clyde McPhatter ICA. From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: By recasting gospel’s fervid emotionality – a style known as “sanctified” singing – in a rhythm & blues setting, he presaged what would come to be known as soul music. That’s how important a singer Clyde McPhatter was.

There’s rhythm and blues amongst these songs, more than a hint of gospel, doo-wop, some love songs, some middle of the road pop, but above all, that peerless voice, that drive and passion in the more up-beat numbers, that heartbreaking sadness in the slower songs, a voice that was a huge huge influence on so many other singers of rhythm and blues and, later, soul. (As I finished that last sentence a dog ran in front of me with a baby bird in her mouth.)

Clyde McPhatter was lead tenor in the Rhythm and Blues/vocal group Billy Ward and The Dominoes, and these first batch of songs come from that time, so here’s some rhythm and blues . These three are as good a set of examples of quality rhythm and blues you’ll hear. There’s blasts of sax that just jump out the speakers and grab your ears, that great excitement of fast r&b, it’s almost impossible to keep still whilst listening to them.

1. “That’s what you’re doing to me”

2. “I’d be satisfied”

3. “Have Mercy Baby”

Clyde McPhatter was such a great singer that he was signed by Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, who, we really should agree, knew a thing or two about good music. As good as the first three tracks are above, his songs made with the backing group he created, The Drifters, are on a whole new level. The music here is a bit more sophisticated, there’s more variety, you here shades of rock and roll, blues and doo-wop. And there’s more than a hint in Clyde’s vocals on “Lucille”, I think, of how he could have developed as a soul singer.

4. “warm your heart”

5. “whatcha ya gonna do”

6. “Bip Bam”

7. “try try baby”

8. “Lucille” (not the Little Richard song)

(After playing Bip Bam at stupendous volumes you will of course be thinking that you’ll not hear a better song all day. And you will be wrong.)

As a solo artist Clyde McPhatter’s songs became much more pop-oriented as he tried to reach for a wider audience, not always met with great success. But there are some fine fine moments from his solo career.

9. “Treasure of Love”.

10. ”A lover’s question”

(And now you have realised that Treasure Of Love is the song that is even better than Bip Bam)

Clyde McPhatter is known for his voice, so why in the name of the sweet Lord did the producers of so many of his solo records drown it out with over-the-top big band orchestration, and backing vocals that overwhelm not complement. It might, though, also be attributed to his alleged desire to make records in the style of Perry Como. His solo output really suffers from a poor selection of song. So really, it was almost all over after 1954, when he left The Drifters behind and went his own way.

He never made the transition from R&B to soul like, say Jackie Wilson or Bobby Blue Bland. The songs are those of crooners, there’s no feel to the music, it’s catastrophically poor middle of the road late 50s early 60s pop. It’s disastrous. His voice lost that great joie de vivre, that great passion, on those records, with The Dominoes and The Drifters.

And here’s a bonus track, back to his time with The Drifters:

11. “everyone’s laughing”

A slower and remorseful R&b track to finish the set. To my way of thinking, this final song showcases the vocal talent that was so sadly underused and wasted in that solo career.

Clyde McPhatter died aged 39, in 1972.

GEORGE

THE XTC SINGLES (Part 12)

One that I had to go and pick up from Discogs. And it wasn’t that cheap once I added P&P.

Respectable Street was and remains one of my favourites songs on Black Sea. It’s the opening song on Side A and it sets the tone for what turned out to be, at that point in time, the most tuneful, accessible and witty album by XTC. I loved the old-fashioned, crackly way that the song opened before bursting into a superb riff and, unusually, straight into the chorus before the first of the verses having its sly dig at behaviour in suburbia. But it had no chance of being a single thanks to a few ‘naughty’ words like contraception, sex-position and abortion, not to mention a couple of product placements for Cosmopolitan magazine and Sony.

Turns out the clever folk at Virgin Records had anticipated this and so had asked Andy Partridge to re-write some of the lyrics and replace some of the possibly offending words that could lead the BBC to refuse to air the song. The move turned out to be a waste of time and money as the different version still didn’t get played and the single flopped completely on its release in March 1981.  I still reckon much of that was down to forgetting to replace the product placement stuff:-

mp3 : XTC – Respectable Street (single version)

It wasn’t a 45 I bought at the time as, being of age when such things mattered, I hated the idea of the censored lyric. Turns out that it wasn’t included on the Waxworks compilation which is why I had to send off for it. The b-sides weren’t includes on Beeswax, the companion album to the compilation and so I never heard either of these songs until 36 years after their release:-

mp3 : XTC – Strange Tales, Strange Tails
mp3 : XTC – Officer Blue

The fact that this was the fourth single released from Black Sea and it managed to yield two new songs as b-sides when a previous single had relied on a live track should set alarm bells ringing. This was reaching down into the bottom of the barrel and scraping away. The band have publicly stated that they are among the worst things they have ever put down on vinyl.

The former sounds half-finished from a lyrical point of view and the tune veers all over the place as if it’s a jam gotten out of control. The latter is actually not all that bad in the grand scheme of things, but I suppose when you’ve been spoiling fans with the quality of the songs on the two most recent albums it will feel as if you’re now offering something a bit second-rate.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #76 : DOT ALLISON

Dot Allison first came to prominence as the vocalist with One Dove who enjoyed a fair degree of success in the early 90s with a sound that sought to provide a cross between club music and electronic pop. If I can be allowed to be lazy, think along the lines of a Scottish St Etienne.

The band broke-up in 1996 some up three years after the release of their only LP but it would take until 1999 before the singer’s solo career got underway with the LP Afterglow which yielded no fewer than six singles from ten tracks, none of which were commercial successes. This was one of the singles:-

mp3 : Dot Allison – Mo’Pop

She remained a very active musician throughout the first decade of the new century, working in diverse areas either as a solo artists or in partnership with others. Among her credits are vocal and writing contributions with Death In Vegas, Massive Attack, Pete Doherty, Bobby Gillespie and Hal David. Her last release would appear to have been the LP Room 7 1/2 back in 2009.

JC