IN BETWEEN DAYS (Part 2)

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Interesting debate last week when I suggested that In Between Days was not only the finest moment of The Cure but also the best New Order song that New Order never wrote and recorded,

I hung my hat on it being the Lowlife era….others have thought it was more Power, Corruption & Lies.  Thinking more about it, it’s probably a mix of the two as the tremendous opening tracks of both LPs illustrate:-

mp3 : New Order – Age Of Consent

mp3 : New Order – Love Vigilantes

And when featuring those two songs on the blog, I really can’t let the occasion pass without listening to their other great LP opener of that era:-

mp3 : New Order – Dreams Never End

It really doesn’t seem like 32 years ago. It too sounds a big influence on In Between Days

Enjoy

ABBEY ROAD EP

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Christmas 1997.

Santa, via Jacques the Kipper, brings me a copy of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, the hugely acclaimed LP released a few months earlier by Spiritualized.

Sadly, it’s an LP I can’t quite take to albeit there were a couple of songs I thought were more than half-decent….but despite maybe a dozen or so efforts, I still didn’t get what all the fuss was about.

Fast forward fifteen or so years. Decide to give it another go.  This time I do get it.  I can’t put my finger on other than acknolwedging that, even as I hit my 40s, my musical horizons continued to expand.  Let’s just say, it was like discovering a lost masterpiece in the attic.

It’s an LP in which just about every musical instrument and every musical genre seems to have been thrown into the mix. Much of the material is about a painful and messy end to a relationship, with the basis being the real-life events that surrounded the band’s frontman Jason Pierce and the band’ keyboard player Kate Radley.

My favourite song on the album is Broken Heart which must be one of the the most gut-wrenching, emotionally-draining but defying songs ever written and recorded.  The fact the person who the song was written about contributes so much to its haunting sound just seems incredible.

I hadn’t realised until very recently that this was one of two songs later re-recorded and put out as EP in August 1998.  I was delighted therefore to come across a second-hand copy of the 12″ of Abbey Road EP and rushed home to play this version of Broken Heart.

And to my astonishment and delight I discovered that it’s even better than the LP version with the addition of what sounds like a full-blown orchestra and gospel choir to the mix.

mp3 : Spiritualized – Broken Heart (Abbey Road Mix)

The leads track on the EP was this:-

mp3 : Spiritualized – Come Together (Abbey Road Mix)

One of the most accessible tracks on the album but it couldn’t get any airplay thanks to the regular use of the word fuck/fucked/fucker.  It therefore made sense to all and sundry to have a fresh stab at it, but the use of mess/messed to replace the swear words, to my ears, diminish it somewhat.

The EP was completed by something which wouldn’t have been out of place as the credits roll on a movie where the very final scene has left the entire audience in a state of shock and tears:-

mp3 : Spiritualized – Broken Heart (instrumental)

The Abbey Road EP didn’t sell all that well, only reaching #39 in the singles chart.  But then again, none of the singles from Ladies and Gentlemen…. went Top 20.

Enjoy

THE BEST NEW ORDER SONG THEY NEVER WROTE

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it can’t be denied can it?

mp3 : The Cure – In Between Days

Quite possibly my favourite few minutes from The Cure.  And yes, it is because it so reminds me of Lowlife era New Order. A #15 hit in the UK back in the summer of 1985. Still sounds gorgeous after all this time.

It’s one I’ve had on 12″ vinyl since its initial release.  Here’s yer rather splendid b-sides :-

mp3 : The Cure – The Exploding Boy

mp3 : The Cure – A Few Hours After This

Three excellent tracks on one 12″ single.  What more can you ask for?

Enjoy

A SPLENDID SAMPLER

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One of my favourite LPs is 1978-1990, which consists of four sides of vinyl featuring 28 of the very best songs from The Go-Betweens.

What makes the double album that wee bit more special is that every song gets a little commentary from either Grant McLennan or Robert Forster which taken together provides a potted bio of the band. While going through the CDs the other day I stumbled upon this 4-track sampler issued by Beggars Banquet.  Like the LP, the songs have notes attached.

I’m not sure if it was ever made available commercially…I picked mine up from a shop in Glasgow that was well-known for putting promotional material on general sale to try to make a little bit more cash.  The sticker on the front reminds me I paid £2.49 which wasn’t bad at all.  It’s listed for sale at £6.99 plus postage on Discogs just now.

Here’s the songs and what can be found in the sleeve notes:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Cattle and Cane

Written in summer on a borrowed guitar in a Paddington bedroom, London. The other rooms were occupied by unconscious friends. The rhythm struck me as strange, the mood as beautiful and sad. The song came easily, was recorded quickly and still haunts me: GM
(Recorded in October 1982 in Eastbourne, England. Originally released as a Rough Trade single)

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Bachelor Kisses

We came back from Christmas in New York having lost our record company somewhere along the way. I wrote this in immigration having been refused entry to the United Kingdom. The first person who heard the song was my sister. She said that Marianne Faithful should sing it : GM
(recorded in July 1984 in London. Originally released on the Sire album ‘Spring Hill Fair’

mp3 : The Go Betweens – Man O’Sand To Girl O’Sea

In rock’n’roll terms The Go-Betweens always take the checkered flag. This road running slice of beauty and mayhem – I can distinctly remember turning to the band and saying “let’s burn this land”. And by Jesus we did : RF
(recorded in August 1983 in Sussex, Originally released as a Rough Trade single)

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Bye Bye Pride

Cairns is a lazy, small town full of boats and cane fields. It is also unbearably hot. An old army officer once said to me that the heat took away his pride. He then sucked loudly on the straw in his gin and headed out to the first hole. I was his caddy so I followed him : GM
(recorded in January 1987 in London. Originally released on the Beggars Banquet album Tallulah)

It’s hearing these songs again that remind me of the heights that this band were capable of reaching. The notes also show just how talented they were as wordsmiths, both in song and in prose. It is a mystery as to why they never crossed over to obtain the commercial success that they so deserved.

Cattle and Cane in particular is a very very special song. Nowadays, it makes me sad as it reminds me of Grant’s sudden and very unexpected death. But at the same time, it is a song I associate with some of my happiest days, weeks and months on Planet Earth when I fell properly in love for the first time.

Man O’ Sand….made my 45 45s at 45 list back in 2008 – as much for the cracking b-side that accompanied it as the single itself. Two songs that play a major part in my decision to start a blog all those years ago.

RIP Grant. Thank you and your comrades for such amazing and timeless tunes.

FROM THE SOUTH WEST CORRESPONDENT….WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (3)

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mp3 :PJ Harvey and John Parish – Heela

Now then, this song or rather the album that its from, brings to mind a story.

In 1996 we lived in Plumstead, a suburb of London. A crap one at that – a breeding ground for far right extremists, nutjobs, the depressed and masses of people with chips on their shoulder about something. It was horrible. Anyway at the time I was doing a bit of DJing and a bit of writing so I was sent CDs and the like. After being in the flat for about a month – I got burgled,

it’s a horrid experience as anyone who has been burgled will tell you. Luckily we didn’t lose that much, a mountain bike, an unused boxed stereo, some clothes and my electric razor (I mean who steals a man’s razor, come on!).

When the dust had settled, about a week later, we gave the house a thorough clean to make ourselves feel better. Now I was cleaning and tidying the sofa and I took the cushions off to you know, fluff them up, (yes, fluff them up, shut up) and down stuffed behind the seat was an envelope. It was from one of the promo companies that sent CDs to me and it had been opened. I didn’t put it there and I didn’t open it. So it must have been the burglar(s).

Inside was the album Dancehall at Louse Point by PJ Harvey and John Parish – from which Heela is taken. On that album written in black pen (MY PEN!) were the words “This looks shit got any Phil Collins”.

I photographed it – I’ll dig that out.

Now, being burgled I can, kind of understand and accept (well get over), people do that to one another, its not right but you know worse things happen in life.

But to slate PJ Harvey and to prefer Phil Collins, PHIL COLLINS instead is just unacceptable. I won’t have it.

So my burglar was a dick, and ill-informed one with lousy taste in music at that and I hope he drove off a cliff somewhere in a stolen van with an endless tape loop of ‘Another Day in Paradise’ ringing in his stupid ears.

Incidentally at the time I had about £5000 worth of music in the house, not one other CD or record was touched, not even my signed copy of ‘One Way’ by The Levellers.

Heela is lovely, a bit different from the usual PJ standard and the album is recommended. She made a few records with John Parish, none of the others spring to mind as much as ‘Dancehall..,’ though.

See you next week

S

Note from JC

I laughed out so loud when I first read this in the e-mail that I had snot coming out of my nose.  I thought I’d round off this truly tremendously contribution  with one for the burglar just in case he happens to be reading:-

mp3 : Phil Collins – Just Another Day In Paradise

Fuck….the link appears to have been stolen.

AS SEEN OVER AT THE OLD PLACE : JUNE 2007

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I was reasonably prolific in June 2007 with 24 posts in all.  The month began as May 2007 had ended with a daily series called ‘Holiday Hymn’ in which I provided a daily series of postcards from the island of Aruba.

These were  followed by a tale of a journey home that turned bad with alcohol confiscated by customs as I fell foul of the recently introduced no liquids in hand luggage rule; some posts about covers (inevitably!), stuff about bands that were largely forgotten; a post for turning 44 and others that I think still read well. Oh and a few words at the end of the month to say that just as the blog was really hitting its stride I was having to put things to one side for a bit as I was going over to Toronto to work for 16 weeks.

There was also a  a rant about From The Jam (which I’m now a bit embarrassed about given that Bruce Foxton has since done a really nice and thoughtful thing for a dear friend of the blog),

Here’s the full list of songs that were featured in June 2007….I don’t think I’m wrong when I say it would make for a great Radio 6 show or a jukebox that would be eternally blasting out music:-

Belle & Sebastian – Another Sunny Day
Super Furry Animals – Hello Sunshine
Billy Bragg – That’s Entertainment
Curve – What A Waste
Aztec Camera – Sunset
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – That Summer Feeling
Josh Rouse – Sunshine (Come On Lady)
Alexi Murdoch – Orange Sky

The Adventure Babies – Camper Van
Malcolm Middleton – Stay Close, Sit Tight
Tindersticks – Until The Morning Comes
REM – Electrolite
The Monochrome Set – Jet Set Junta
Blancmange – Waves
The Wedding Present – Back For Good
Simple Minds – I Travel
Beck – Devil’s Haircut
Beck – Devil’s Haircut (Remix by Noel Gallagher)
Lloyd Cole – Butterfly
Lloyd Cole – Butterfly (Planet Ann Charlotte Mix)
R.E.M. – Radio Song
R.E.M. – Radio Song (Tower of Luv Bug Mix)
Giant Sand – Red Right Hand
Lambchop – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
Lambchop – The Theme From The TV Show ‘Dallas’
Jackie Lee – White Horses
The Trash Can Sinatras – White Horses
The Wedding Present – White Horses
Primus – Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver
Pete Wylie – Sinful (Tribal Mix)
The Smiths – This Charming Man (New York Vocal)
Prefab Sprout – He’ll Have To Go
Scritti Politti – Faithless (Triple-Hep N’Blue)
Care – My Boyish Days (drink to me)
Care – Flaming Sword
Care – Whatever Possessed You
The Lightning Seeds – Flaming Sword
The Jam – Away From The Numbers
The Jam – In The Street Today
The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
The Jam – Strange Town
The Jam – Thick As Thieves
The Jam – Scrape Away
The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank (fan club flexidisc version)
The Jam – Happy Together
Moby – Sunday (The Day Before My Birthday)
New Order – 1963
James Kirk – Old Soak
Blink – Happy Day
Family Gotown – Box
The Frank & Walters – Fashion Crisis Hits New York
Arab Strap – There Is No Ending
The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – The Queen and I
The KLF – Kylie Said To Jason (full length version)
Graham Coxon – Freakin’ Out
Foil – Are You Enemy?
The Pixies – Velouria
Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows
The Clash – White Man In Hammersmith Palais
The Clash – Stay Free
The Clash – Straight To Hell (unedited version)
The 1990’s – Pollokshields
Morrissey – Come Back To Camden
Cornershop – Heavy Soup
The Weather Prophets – Well Done Sonny
Malcolm Middleton – A Brighter Beat
Elizabeth – (Dance) Into The Heart Of Your Enemy
Billy Bragg – Ontario, Quebec & Me (live)
Prefab Sprout – Goodbye Lucille #1
The Breeders – Safari
Arcade Fire – Wake Up
Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
St Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Martin Stephenson & The Daintees – In The Heal Of The Night
British Sea Power – Remember Me
The Lilac Time – The Girl Who Waves At Trains
St Vincent – Now. Now.
I Am Kloot – Over My Shoulder
Neil Young – After The Goldrush
Edwyn Collins – Don’t Shilly Shally
The Wedding Present – It’s For You
The Trash Can Sinatras – Only Tongue Can Tell
Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole
The Wannadies – Hit
Grinderman – Love Bomb

In addition to that rather exhausting list, there were three other songs wthin the posting I’m revisiting in full. It dates from 21 June 2007 and is one in which I give a big shout out to ctel.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

SONGS FOR YOU

Judging by the comments that he often makes afterwards, one of the regular and long-standing visitors to TVV – Ctel – seems to enjoy when I post rare tracks by the best band to come out of Athens, Georgia.

Yesterday, I picked up second-hand copies of a couple of 12″ singles from the IRS days. Maybe Ctel already has the tracks, but if not, what follows are for mostly for him, but I’m sure he’ll be happy for you all to share:-

mp3 : R.E.M. – Finest Worksong (Lengthy Club Mix)

This single was released in April 1988, a full 7 months after the album Document came out, and so it was given a different recording and mix featuring a horns section. A shorter version of this was later put on the compilation LP Eponymous, but to the best of my knowledge the track in all its glory is only available on the 12″ single. The band left IRS two days after the UK release of Finest Worksong and signed for Warner Brothers.

mp3 : R.E.M. – Time After Time etc.

This is the b-side to the Worksong single. It’s a live medley taken from a recording made by Vara Radio in Holland of the band’s concert in Utrecht on 14 September 1987. According to the set-list reproduced in the book Adventures In Hi-Fi : The Complete R.E.M. by Rob Jovanovic and Tim Abbott (Orion Publishing 2001), the three-track medley, which comprises Time After Time, Red Rain (a cover of the Peter Gabriel song) and So. Central Rain was the fourth and final encore of the show. Much of it is Michael Stipe singing acapella, with Peter Buck seemingly the only other band member on stage. It’s a very quiet recording, so you may have to crank up your volume for best effect.

mp3 : R.E.M. – This One Goes Out (live)

In other words, an early version of The One I Love, the song which brought the band to the attention of a wider audience. It was actually the first ever public airing of the song and was on 24 May 1987, a full three months before it was issued as a single. It’s taken from the 12″ release of It’s The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

The record sleeve tells us that the recording is from a show at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica held as a benefit for Texas Records who had been hit with a lawsuit. The Jovanovic/Abbott book reveals that the show opened with four songs by Steve Wynne of Dream Syndicate, followed by a couple of songs by a ‘tipsy’ Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs (the latter of which she was joined on stage by Stipe), before the main R.E.M set.

This One Goes Out was in fact the first full R.E.M. song of the evening. However…..it’s a recording with a difference. When Merchant left the stage, it wasn’t Berry, Buck or Mills who joined Stipe but Geoff Gans, a member of staff at IRS Records.

The book says…’Gans started some acoustic strumming and the unlikely pairing served up a stunning version…’.

And it is.

The other track on the b-side of the single is a live version of Maps and Legends from the same how, but this can also be found on the CD of the re-released Fables of the Reconstruction that came out in 1992.

So thanks Ctel for coming by so often – and thanks for inspiring these rare and great songs.

2013 update

Little did I know when I wrote these words that we would one day meet in the flesh and that he would be single-handedly responsible for saving the blog a few years later when I got quite overwhelmed with things happening in my real life…but’s a tale for another day.

If any of you are keen to hear any of the songs in the list, please let me know and I’ll get round to reposting them.

JC

DAVID BOWIE – THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

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Following my less than flattering words of yesterday, it would be remiss of me not to allow an opposite point of view to be articulated. In this case, the words are supplied by Friend of Rachel Worth:-

Okay case for the defence – I think you’ve missed some great stuff.

There seems to have been before the last LP a bit of view of Bowie that echoed the “What have the Romans Ever done for Us”, but in his case it is “He’s been shit since Lets Dance and in fact that wasn’t that good anyway”. Admittedly there have been some misfires and glass spiders , duets with Tina Turner , gurning with Mick Jagger , Tin Machine , stabs at Techno were all pretty horrendous. However, there have been moments of magic which , whilst not up there with the best of his 70s output still knocks socks off a lot of what else was around at the time. So here are my 10 for you to give a go or revisit without the ghosts of Ziggy, Aladdin etc.

1) Absolute Beginners – a fantastic song ruined by an awful film. Sinatra crossed with his own Heroes (I didn’t read Heroes at Live Aid at all like you did, I saw it as being much more universal – but then I still maybe naively view the whole thing as magical , flawed yes but magical still). Among lots of stuff that sounds like he was treading water for once a vocal that sounded like he meant it

2) Loving the Alien – I was so disappointed with the LP this came from. The awful Police-lite type reggae on a couple of tracks, a going-through-the- motions Beach Boys cover and that awful Tina Turner duet of the title track Tonight. However the opening track is majestic, hypnotic and epic. Starting the LP off with it only made what was to follow even more of a disappointment.

3) Thursdays Child – He has a habit with later LPs to include one lush ballad on each of them and here is another one from 1999’s Hours (another recording that was referenced as a return to form) . The best song Morrissey never wrote. The rest of the LP is okay even if a bit stodgy in its backing but this is one long melancholic sigh.

4) Pablo Picasso – he can spot a good cover and this is a bit of a mess , but it is a fun mess. The album it came from (2003 Reality his last before the new one) is a mixed bag of sounds and styles from buzzing guitars to jazzy piano.

5) Everyone Says ‘Hi’ – Heathen is probably the best of his later records and if you were going to give one a go it would be this one. Whereas Reality is a an interesting mess, Heathen is one of those proper grown up LPs – adult without ever being AOR. The one bit of light is Everyone Say Hi, a song to his son and the older brother of Kooks.

6) Buddha of Suburbia – I’m sure the BBC couldn’t believe it when he agreed to do the soundtrack for the tv adaptation of Hanif Kureishi’s novel. Often overlooked and little heard it is the sound of someone rediscovering his mojo.

7) Outside – first thing you have to strip away the annoying concept dialogue tracks – wonder how many people who bought the CD have recut it on their mp3 players. There is a sense that in the 90s Bowie has been looking back , seeking out old collaborators to rediscover something. This was Brian Eno’s turn. It has some great songs on it (the industrial slab of Heart’s Filthy Lesson , the jittery We Prick You , the straight forward Strangers When We Meet, the pre-Pet Shop Boys Hello Spaceboy , the frankly- odd Have Not Been To Oxford Town, all of which can hold their heads high in the company of his 70s output) all with interesting backing.

8) Jump They Say – Nile Rogers is all over this slab of polished pop

9) This is Not America – it’s with a jazz fusion guitarist , its got one of those naff pointless key changes to keep things going – but I love it

10) The new LP is a strange one.  It has some great moments (Stars Are Out , Dirty Boys , Where Are We Now especially). Maybe not one of the best 12 LPs of the year ( but then not sure any of the nominations can give claim to that any year). What was odd was the complete lack of hype has led to it being over-hyped.  I love the fact that relatively no one knew it was coming, an announcement just appeared.

The press then had 2 choices.  Having been caught out they could either slag it or praise it hell.  Whichever choice they made the column inches and airtime grew and grew. It’s pretty good, runs out of steam a bit  – no better than Heathen , but much better than what most other pensioner pop stars have been churning out, and if it had come from a bunch of skinny white boys playing guitars then they would be being hailed as the next big thing.

The best thing are his lyrics and his voice , both of which are dark enough to feel dangerous , well as dangerous as a 66 year old can make you feel.  Listen to the LP and you do start to worry about his state of mind… ever the frustrated actor

So there you go , trying not to and failing to damn with the faint praise of “its good but not as good as his old stuff”. There is enough here for a mighty fine spotify playlist, and re-listening to these songs has been much more enjoyable than the work I should be doing.

FoTR

Note from JC

It was unfair of me to dismiss Absolute Beginners as it’s one of the 6,000 odd tracks on the i-phone.  Of the others mentioned, I’m only familiar with a handful – none of Loving The Alien, Buddha of Suburbia and Jump They Say do anything for me.

However FoTR, as much as you had me thinking you had made a decent case you make a very bad error of judgement with the inclusion of This Is Not America.  Next thing you’ll be saying Under Pressure is a work of genius!!

Have tracked down some of the tracks you mention:-

mp3 : David Bowie – Everyone Says ‘Hi’

mp3 : David Bowie – Thursday’s Child

mp3 : David Bowie – I Have Not Been To Oxford Town

Enjoy.

PENSIONER POP

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As has been widely reported this past week, 66 year old David Bowie has made the twelve-strong shortlist for the 2013 Mercury Prize.  It would therefore seem, as far as the critics and others who make up the Mercury judging panel that his latest LP, The Next Day, is one of the best 12 albums released in the UK this past year.

I can’t say whether this is the case, although I strongly suspect not.  I’m more inclined to think that his inclusion is more to do with giving a high media profile to this year’s award than the merits of what was his 26th studio LP.  The reason that I can’t say for sure is that I’ve given the LP a total bodyswerve, as I have all his new material ever since the travesty that was Tin Machine in the late 80s and early 90s.  If any of you have remained loyal and faithful to his output in recent years, please let me know if in fact the latest LP is worth investing in….after all, I’m going to be bombarded with it on displays any time I venture into any High Street music store between now and the awards ceremony at the end of October.

Bowie is a performer who I’ve long felt ran his course in the mid 80s.  Just about all of his albums from the 70s  have more than stood the test of time  – it should also be recognised just how prolific he was in that decade with an an album in every year except 1978 – but then again there had been two absolute classics in 1977 in the shape of Low and Heroes.  I also remain fond of parts of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) from 1980.  The worldwide phenomena of Let’s Dance in 1983 was truly something to behold with the production and sound capturing the popular music of the era quite perfectly, albeit it was a long long way away from the music I was listening to.  It’s a recod which made Bowie the #1 box office attraction for a few years – the royalties from the classic rock stations playing the hit singles from that era must still be mega given how often I stumbled upon them during my recent few weeks in Canada.

My admiration for Bowie began to fall away around the time of Live Aid.  Many have said that he was one of the outstanding performers that day but I was disturbed by the fact that out of all his back catalogue he chose to perform Heroes and in a way that seemed congratulatory to all the rock stars who had shown up that day in London and Philadelphia.

What I find interesting about his career, which now spans a jaw-dropping 46 years, is that so many modern musicians cite him as a huge influence and have covered his songs, either in concert or as b-sides or album tracks.  But almost inevitably, these covers are of songs from the 60s and 70s with scant regard to the later material.  And instead of me posting some great songs from the 70s which I’m sure are well-known to all readers of this blog, I thought I’d share some of the covers I’ve most enjoyed:-

mp3 : Black Box Recorder – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

mp3 : Vivian Girls – John, I’m Only Dancing

mp3 : Billy Mackenzie – Secret Life of Arabia

mp3 : Franz Ferdinand – Sound & Vision

mp3 : Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust

Actually, the only reason I’ve included that FF cover is that the dooh-doohs at the start are supplied by Girls Aloud…..very bizarre!

And here’s a cracking acoustic C&W version from Mr Bowie himself:-

mp3 : David Bowie – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (live and acoustic)

Enjoy.

A POLITICAL PROTEST SONG (10 & 11)

RANT

Actually….the image I’ve selected for today is a bit misleading.  The songs, as the author says, are rants…..but they are very quier rants and excellent songs to listen to.  Over to long-time friend of this place and the old blog, Friend of Rachel Worth:-

Mixing pop and politics, I tend to be the one asking “what the use is?” I’m not sure whether it was growing up and seeing the disappointment of Red Wedge, watching pop stars meeting presidents or a general dislike of being preached to or feeling like I’m being told what to think. I’ve more than often found myself loving the sentiment but feeling strangely untouched by the song . If I think of all my favourite songs they tend to be less rally cries of big political statements and more the personal politics of love gone wrong. Where they do work for me is if they are more social politics ( Town Called Malice spring to mind) or subtle and ambiguous in what they are trying to say (10000 Maniacs Whats the Matter Here the Housemartin’s Flag Day are good examples of where you listen and think with a somewhat dark message hidden in a pretty tune)

Having said all that my favourite political song is still The The’s Heartland but Matt Johnson seems to have developed an odd belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories and The the tracks seem to attract the take down notices., so I’ve picked up a couple of others. Both arent subtle as both are personal rants set to music. One is full of weary angry disillusionment built on somewhat hippy ideals and the other is bile and bitterness at the hopeless of everyday life. What they have in common is a set of fantastic lyrics and like all rants they maybe outstay their welcome , building until they burn themselves out.

First up is No, Surrender from Del Amitri’s singer Justin Currie

Big Macs for the fat, lo-cal wraps for the call centre battery hens,
Japanese snacks for the choice-spoilt citizens, caviar kickbacks for the citadel denizens.

Airport shoeshines servicing the suits among the little silver stereos and hand-rolled cheroots,
First class passengers file on last after the scum are packed in with their tax-free loot.

Checkout calamity, you’re cheated out of loyalty points, ten more years at this joint you’d be home & dry,
Beggars beat round the cash machines but you just slip between them with the usual lie.

Terrible tales of kidnapped kids keep you focused on the family and filling up the fridge,
Neighbourhood watchers shop dole dodgers, stick their semis on the market & start racking up the bids.

Should you stand and fight, should you die for what you think is right
So your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you’re asking me I say no, surrender.

Constant growth the cancerous cure, a swarming race of profiteers ensure
Cheap cars for the rich, cheap lives for the poor, cheap weeks in the sun, free drinks at the door.

Puerile propaganda plugs up the TV, keep folk following the money so they’ll never be free
Keep them swallowing the swill, the celebrities, the paedophiles, the immigrants invading from the
camp over the hill.

War talk, the big debate, footsoldiers in the capitol liberating new kinds of hate
Cum-shots of human dots caught in the spotlight’s glare; he dies who dares.

Fatuous fast-trackers sneering at the shelf-stackers, little Middle-Englanders can’t stand the backpackers,
Fortress Freedom, come on in, take your chances-you might win.

Should you stand and fight, should you die for what you think is right
So your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you’re asking me I say no, surrender.

Sunset beaches security patrolled, keep out the undesirables who don’t accept the code
Equal opportunity to live in total poverty, execute the ignorant incarcerate the slow

Car caressing managers choking up the avenues, brain dead patriots standing in salute
Paperwork raining again and again so that billionaires can claim there’s an enemy to shoot

Pill pushers, doorsteppers, personal goal shoppers, lifestyle trendsetters, meditating mindbenders,
Hare-brained share sellers pumping out stocks til you’re choking on a chain-letter avalanche of dross.

God squads trawling through every country tracking down fools who are bullshit hungry
Blinded by divinity followers fall into the man-traps set along the Wailing Wall.

Athletes compete in grand charades while tanks flatten streets and a nation laughs,
Visa holders gape at the changing guards while creeps bribe bums to take their photographs.

Film fans flock to the latest schlock, blockbusters block out even the vaguest thought
Bankrupt schools grind out fool after fool then feed them to a system where idiots rule.

Polling booths, phone votes, bogus questionnaires, you get a say as if anybody cares
Joe Public doesn’t want to play so liquidate his life as he looks the other way.

Don’t get sick, don’t get wise or they’ll gut you with a *justice* where everything is lies
March down Main Street, complain if you want but it’s twenty years straight for the losers at the front.

mp3 : Justin Currie – No, Surrender (Part 1)

mp3 : Justin Currie – No, Surrender (Part 2)

Second up is World Party and Always on My Mind

Where do you begin to explain the mess,
The mess you made of it?
I was only out for half an hour,
I said “please look after it”.
You had to think that you know best
And forget all the golden rules,
You ignored the difficult truth
And opened the door to fools.

Now I see the strong ones make,
I see the weak ones break,
I see you running out of time.

You got a finger in every pie,
Well what did I expect?
You made an art-form out of talking shit,
And partying ’til you’re wrecked.
In the small hours it’s so easy to feel
You’ve got some big ideas,
But in the morning you should put them away
Cos’ you know they’ll end in tears.

I see the strong ones fake,
While the weak can’t stay awake,
You know you’re always on my mind.

And football’s all about training shoes
Yeah, it’s added up to this.
And religion’s all about bums on seats.
And if you’re livin’ in the West
Mum’s apple pie is full of ‘E’s,
And Dad ain’t at his best;
His new car was designed by God
But Jesus, he looks a mess.

I see the strong ones take,
I see the weak, the weak ones ache,
You know it’s always on my mind.

While we’re busying ourselves with mines,
The chemists are working late.
They gotta breed an indestructible gene
To wipe us all away.
They’re just following their inquisitiveness,
Well that’s what they like to say.
But it sounds like they’re just following orders
Like the Nazis used to say.

I see the gas clouds shake,
I see the rivers ache,
You know it’s always on my mind.

What kind of music are you playing there, son?
What is that old machine?
Doesn’t matter I can’t hear the words,
Cos’ I don’t care what they mean.
Yeah I believe you,
You’re a real street fighter,
Gonna change the system from within.
Hey watch this guy, he’s a bare faced liar
Yeah, that’s, that’s him in the limousine.

I hear your bullshit take,
I hear your drum-machine break,
You know it’s always on my mind.

If Jesus came now
He’d say “Lord get me outta here,
Cos’ I, I just can’t handle this”.
The Lord would say
“Hey Jesus what d’ya mean?
It was always going to be this way”.
“All Mighty Father, you are full of shit,
Cos’ the folks down here, don’t wanna be saved.
Why have they forsaken themselves?
And used hypocritical armour-plating”.

I see the strong ones take,
I see the weak ones break,
You know it’s always on my mind.

If you were passing in a space vehicle,
And you came close to Planet Earth,
You wouldn’t stop by for tea
Cos’ of the screaming that you heard;
And the lying, and the cheating, and the gnashing of teeth,
And the straight-ahead mental deformation.
You’d head on to Venus
With its welcoming sulphuric acid precipitation.

Who’d want to stop where the strong ones reign,
But they won’t ease the weak ones pain?
You know out of sight would be really out of mind.

Well I’m sittin’ here watching little kids starve,
And worlds get thrown away.
I’m thinking there’s just gonna be more
Before any goodness has its way.
I’m sick of feeling sick of you,
You’re too smart to be like this.
But you’ve got no legends that will guide your soul,
Now you’re really taking the piss.

I see the weak ones strong someday,
Not in any silly Communist way,
More like in the movement of Elvis’ hip-sway,
When civilisation comes and stays,
When all the corporations have gone away,
When laughing gas is handed out on the Big Love Day,
When egos are driven underground cos’ they get no approbation,
When boys and girls are laughing in every nation,
When the Truth is pursued for relaxation,
When living with the world is our aspiration,
When there’s no mileage in hate, and no gas-stations,
And the creatures are protected from mammals to crustaceans,
And the soul has found it’s LIBERATION.
You know this is always on my mind 

mp3 : World Party – Always On My Mind

Note from JC

And with that, I’m ending this short series of political protest songs.  HUGE thanks to everyone who submitted their thoughts and words – lots of great tunes as well.

FROM THE SOUTH WEST CORRESPONDENT….WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (2)

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Firstly – two confessions

1)      I cheated – this is the third CD I pulled out of the box, the second was one the JC had featured only a short while ago.

2)      Its not in alphabetical order – but I think that is because someone  in Kent has played them as on this occasion the CD was placed the wrong way round in the case (the pictured side should face out ).  Anyway….CD Three is…

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Now I Got Worry

This is the 6th studio album from New Hampshire noise merchants the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.  Although my CD is an album sampler with only 4 tracks on it. Spencer had been around for a bit before the Blues Explosion, he was in the tremendously named Shithaus and then in Pussy Galore and Boss Hog.  The names of the bands suggested that Spencer had a habit of being controversial.  The sound that they make was according to Spencer ‘punk blues’ – I remember reviewing this with a guest reviewer (some indie upstart from Camden) who said it was a ‘racket’. Personally I loved it (at the time and its aged well).  The sound that Spencer makes I think can be heard in some of the White Stripes music around the time of White Blood Cells perhaps.

The lead track was 2 Kindsa Love which was released in the UK as a single and reached the giddy heights of Number 122.  I expect Jon Spencer would have been a bit ‘Meh’ about that, but it deserved to go higher in my opinion.    A live version of this album and some other tracks was circulated in May of 1997 called Controversial Negro the cover featured (a drawing of) Mick Jagger with tape across his face.  I have that somewhere and to be honest that really was a racket, about 36 minutes of shouting, feedback and white noise – but again, Spencer probably wanted it that way.

mp3 : Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – 2 Kindsa Love

File under criminally ignored if you ask me.

SF

Note from JC

The original second posting would have been Fashion Crisis Hits New York by Frank and Walters, but seemingly the day SF sat down to type his words was the very day it appeared on the blog.

As for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, they’re a lot that I tried but never quite managed to be wholly enthralled by and other than a couple of tracks included on compilations I don’t have any of their songs.  So I’m one of the criminals who ignored them…but I do see why the music appeals to so many.  I’ll also add that I’m with SF that a lot of the material has aged well which should be taken s a reflection of quality….but still not my cup of Darjeeling.

A SAD, TRAGIC AND VERY SCARY TALE

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An e-mail recently arrived from one of the most frequent visitors to the blog asking if I’d consider some of his words as appropriate for the series on political protest songs.  Having read what Luca had to say, I was so moved, shocked and angered that it felt it best it should stand out as a posting on its own rather than within that series.  Please read on……

Hello JC,

When I read your invitation to help with the choice of a political protest song to your blog I immediately thought it was an opportunity to write about a subject that is very important for me, and likewise it immediately came to mind to me which song I would have chosen.

Still, I thought long and hard about doing this. The main question was: why should anyone be interested in what I write? In the end I decided to give it a go for two reasons.

The first one should be clear at the end of this post.

The second is that the issue I wanted to write about is only partly about me and my family (believe me, if it affected only me, I wouldn’t have bothered you and all the readers with it, still I guess it’s only human to be more directly interested in those matters that affect us personally).

It is about my hometown.

Since the end of World War II onwards, Casale Monferrato’s most important factory was called Eternit. Its main product was a kind of fibre cement, often applied in building and construction materials, mainly in roofing and facade products.

The fibre component was asbestos.

From: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternit (translated by G****e, with some corrections by me):

“Although since 1962 it was known all over the world that asbestos dust generated by wear of the roofs and used as background material for paving, causes a severe form of cancer, pleural mesothelioma (in addiction to asbestosis), in Casale Monferrato (Alessandria), Cavagnolo (Turin), Broni (Pavia) and Bari Eternit and Fibronit continued to produce manufactured goods until 1986 (1985 for Bari and 1992 Broni), trying to keep its workers in a state of total ignorance about the damage (especially long-term) that asbestos fibers cause, in order to prolong the activity of the plant and thereby increase profits.”

I come from a working-class family. My father was a cook in a rest home. My mother worked at Eternit for twenty years.

By the beginning of the eighties, people started dying.

The factory was forced to close.

My mother was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 1987. She was told by doctors she had three months to live. She died one year and a half later, in 1989.

I started going out with the girl that would later become my wife on October, 31th, 1992.

His father was already ill with the same kind of tumor which killed my mother, even though he never worked at Eternit. He died twenty days later.

The exposure to asbestos was starting to affect even the non-workers.

As one is supposed to say, life goes on. That girl and me got married (I proposed to her on October, 31th, 2002, that’s how boring I am..), we have now a beautiful daughter and I must say that I never thought that I could be as ridiculously happy as I am today.

Still, as the years went by, people kept on dying.

From: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternit:

“In the area of ​​Casale Monferrato and in the whole area of the Alessandria province there have been about 1,800 deaths from exposure to asbestos.”

Casale is a small town. It has less than 35,000 inhabitants.

It means that almost everyone had to cope with the loss of someone to mesothelioma. A father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a daughter, a son. A friend, like my good friend Anna who died this year aged 49.

Some families have been simply destroyed.

And the worst is yet to come.

Since pleural mesothelioma has an incubation period which goes from 15 to 40 years, it is believed that the number of deaths per year will peak in 2020. The ones who will die will be usually non-workers, basically because those who have worked at Eternit will be mostly already dead by then.

By that time, me and my wife, we will both be 48 years old and our daughter will be 13.

I’m not going to lie: I do have fear. And my wife feels the same, although she never admits it.

But we both know that it’s useless to live in fear and regret.

It’s better to live in love. And hope.

If any reader is living or working in an environment where there’s asbestos, with the risk of inhaling its fibres, I strongly suggest to have it removed immediately.

The political protest song (in the most loose sense of the word) I have chosen has got no lyrics.

Still I hope I will be forgiven for saying that when I first listened to it I immediately thought that its message was one so universal that so many people of Casale Monferrato could have made it their own.

mp3 : Outside – To Forgive But Not Forget

The main reason I decided to do this post this should be understandable by now.

Sometimes I tend to adhere to that theory that the more people will be aware of issues, more people will remember, the less likely it will happen again, someplace else.

Or maybe, it’s just something that periodically I need to get off my chest. To let off some steam.

About the Eternit trial:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17016110;
http://www.corriere.it/International/english/articoli/2013/06/04/eternit.shtml.

Luca

COWBOY MOUTHS

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If you thought that the best cowboy/country and western songs date back to the golden era of Johnny Cash or the chart blazing hits of the likes of Glen Campbell or Kenny Rogers, then I provide the following as evidence that 1985 had a wonderful example:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn – Ain’t That Always The Way

The follow-up single to Paul and Edwyn’s majestic cover of Pale Blue Eyes, this single on Swamplands Records ended up being credited as a solo recording due to contractual issues Edwyn had at the time.  Despite the single receiving positive reviews in a number of the weekly papers, as well as the teen-orientated mag Smash Hits, it sold poorly and got nowhere near the charts.

Four years later, the song’s composer provided his own take on it, although by making it a b-side on a 12″ single which sold even fewer copies than the Swamplands effort, it too is not the easiest to track down:-

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Ain’t That Always The Way

My previous musings on this song over at the old place led to a reader sending me an e-mail with an attachment that contained something quite special.  The audio quality is far from perfect but I’m very proud to have a copy of a version recorded for an early evening show on Radio 1. Worth noting the added harmonica which makes the song sound like a close cousin of What Presence?! and the fact that this recording pre-dates, by quite some months, the release of the song as a 45:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins – Ain’t That Always The Way (Richard Skinner Session)

I’ve also since got my hands on the demo version of the song which was made available on an NME compilation cassette:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn – Ain’t That Always The Way (demo)

Finally.  Another wonderful reader once sent me a bundle of home made compilation CDs to listen to and enjoy.  Basing his selections on the sort of material I was going on about on the blog, one of the many excellent songs was this very lovely cover:-

mp3 : Secret Goldfish – Ain’t That Always The Way

There’s more postings about Secret Goldfish coming your way soon.

Enjoy

THE FIRST TIME I SAW THE SMITHS

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It was actually five days earlier than the above ticket but it was the same tour.

My gig was at the Queen Margaret Union, which was part of Glasgow University.  I don’t think actual tickets were used but instead it was some sort of specially numbered pass only determined as and when the gig was announced and only available from the venue box office.  That was certainly the method used at my regular haunt at nearby Strathclyde University – the benefits were the venue could pre-print a year’s worth of passes and save a fortune; the downside of course was that without the name of the band being on the ticket it wasn’t anything worth keeping and besides the entire ticket was taken off you by the security folk at the venue.  Such happy and innocent times indeed….

Here’s some words from an external site:-

2 March 1984
Queen Margaret Hall, University Of Glasgow, Glasgow

This concert was very crowded, sweaty and memorable, like most visits to Glasgow. There was a lot of heckling so Morrissey lectured the crowd about bad behaviour. Performance-wise and sound-wise, it was one of the best concerts of the period, probably because it was recorded.

After “Hand In Glove” Morrissey greeted the fans by shouting “Hello Glasgow!”. He changed one line in “This Charming Man” to “This man said it’s gruesome that someone so ugly should care”, as he had been known to do now and then. “Pretty Girls Make Graves” was introduced with the words “And now, a lesson for everybody…” The following song, “Still Ill”, was introduced as “…a nice song about the most enviable position imaginable, ‘Still Ill’!..” There was a lot of heckling from the audience so after “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” Morrissey shouted “Aaarrgh, listen! What?”. In the part in “Barbarism Begins At Home” where Morrissey just moans and la-la-la’s, echo effect was applied, making it sound eerie. “Back To The Old House” was introduced with the line “This is for all you marsh-mellows…” Before “Handsome Devil” Morrissey teased the audience by shouting “More?”

This concert was recorded and broadcast in full on Scotland’s Radio Clyde.

It was an incredibly hot and sweaty night.  It was, after at least one false start with gigs being postponed, the band’s first time on a Scottish stage.  I so wanted this night to be special.  I loved the songs and I just didn’t want them to be a disappointing live act.

They weren’t.

I’m actually not so sure there was a load of heckling at the gig as this would imply fans were unhappy or being critical.  To my ears it was just a lot of shouts of joy aimed for the most part at Morrissey.

A few days ago, box were contacted and subsequently deleted a file which had linked to a track from that gig which had been posted ages ago on the long-defunct blog.  I don’t like to take these things lying down, so here for your enjoyment is the complete Radio Clyde broadcast (with thanks to Mike from Manic Pop Thrills who supplied it to me from his own collection)

Hand In Glove
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
Girl Afraid
This Charming Man
Pretty Girls Make Graves
Still Ill
This Night Has Opened My Eyes
Barbarism Begins At Home
Back To The Old House
What Difference Does It Make?
Reel Around The Fountain
You’ve Got Everything Now
Handsome Devil

Enjoy!!

RECALLING THE EXCELLENT DEBUT SINGLE (Part 2)

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From 2007.  Two songs that sadly don’t get aired in the current live shows:-

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Be Less Rude

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – The Greys

Both are slightly different mixes from what are available on the debut LP.  These are songs that take me back to seeing this lot in loads of tiny venues all across Glasgow hoping that it wouldn’t take too long before their talents and abilities to effortlessly knock out tartan-tinged tunes of hope and despair were more widely recognised and rewarded.  It took a few years but in due course the major label did come knocking.

I’ve written before that while I’m sad to see the sound dilute a bit as it became more appealing to the masses there is no way I’m going to accuse Frightened Rabbit of ever selling out.  The live shows today, certainly on the basis of the gig I was lucky and unexpectedly enough to catch in Berlin just a few months ago, remain just as joyful and moving in equal measures as they were in the days of sweaty Glasgow basements.  And it also seems that the boys are just as approachable and self-assuming as they’ve always been.  Increasing fame and some fortune doesn’t turn everyone into an arsehole.

Quick update on some more box takedowns.  Most recent two have been for a Charlatans single and for a live recording of a track by The Smiths….one that was never made available commercially but which came from a radio recording of their first ever live appearance in Scotland back in 1984.  A wee fightback comes tomorrow….