CIRCLE. SQUARE. TRIANGLE

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This 2005 single was never aimed at the likes of me:-

mp3 : Test Icicles – Circle. Square. Triangle.

This lot had probably broken up by the time I first heard the song which would have been on one or other of the  music video channels in an end of the year round-up.  Taken from the bio on the website of their label:-

Sounding like a bootleg Def Jam t -shirt at the end of a sweaty party the Test Icicles trio made a sound already casting a long shadow of influence among their peers and a new generation of messy hyper-hormoned kids.

The trio of 25-year-old Rory Atwell and 19-year-olds Sam Mehran and Devonté Hynes burst out of underground file sharing sights and into messy one-off gigs in friend’s houses in a riot of shredder guitar solos, beatbox rhythms, fringes and drainpipes. Whilst many bands claim to be “into a bit of everything” Test Icicles sounded like everything they’d ever heard, spewed out and re-wired for a different type of moshpit etiquette, a brand new teenage riot.

The tracks on their debut album For Screening Purposes Only sounded like mash-ups of themselves and the single Circle, Square, Triangle became a modern nightclub staple. Their live shows were an eruption of metal poses, injury, boy and girl crowd surfacing and air punching – a spectacle that any award-winning stylist would have trouble improving.

Just as the mainstream media were beginning to get their heads around peer-to-peer networking and the power of MySpace the band that had truly evolved out of below the radar networking did the unthinkable and split – and left a perfect mess of themselves on record.

So there you are…a song by a band aimed solely at the kids and how they consumed music and yet here I was at 42 years of age falling for its charms.   I was drawn to it by its energy, its rawness and the fact it had so many different post-punk and new wave influences.  The kids probably had heard very little like it, but I had a cupboard full of vinyl that said otherwise.

I have never had any desire though to even search out any other song by Test Icicles. Having this 7″ was good enough for me.

Here’s the short and sharp b-side:-

mp3 : Test Icicles – Lmno Hoes

Enjoy!

IS IT ANY WONDER WE CAN’T STOP FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER?

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A cracking novel I read a while back made a claim about there being a ridiculously high number of christian denominations in the world.  As the novel was a parody, I assumed the figure being quoted was for comic effect.  It was when I was rummaging through the cupboard recently searching through Tindersticks for the copy of Kathleen that featured at the beginning of the week that I came across all of my 7″ singles by The The (of course my vinyl is  filed alphabetically).

The fact that one of the 7″ singles has an excellent and fairly rare remix on its b-side is the sole reason for featuring it today.  But it also acted as a reminder to check out the number of christain  denominations. So I fired up wiki.

41,000 is the estimate.

41,000……………………………………..

Admittedly, many of the 41,000 have just a handful of followers but it is still a mind-boggling number and this link will give you an idea of just how many christian religions there are out there….all, more or less, proclaiming theirs is the one true way.

41,000………………………………………. jeez.

Even those who preach the word of god admit that the denominationalism is usually the outcome of conflict and confrontation. And that’s scary enough without considering the fights that break out as a result of disagreements over different religions.

mp3 : The The – Armageddon Days Are Here Again (radio edit)
mp3 : The The – Armageddon Days Are Here Again (orchestral version)

From 1989.  It reached #70 in the UK singles chart.  You won’t be surprised to hear it didn’t get much in the way of airtime.

The single version features the god-like genius of Johnny Marr.

Is it fair to say that he would feature in any list of the top 41,000 guitarists in the world?

SPECIAL K

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Kylie Minogue is back on British telly as a one of the judges on the ludicrous talent show The Voice. In all likelihood, this will lead to a resurgence in her own recording career after a spell in the wilderness. I hope she doesn’t spoil her legacy with some half-arsed music by numbers…

I bet there’s some of you reading this thinking that I’m not being serious. But as my dear friend Jacques the Kipper will testify, I have long been an advocate of the talent of probably the most famous Australian on the planet.  So much so, that back in the early 1990s when a music magazine (I think it may well have been the long-defunct Select) printed a photo of Kylie cavorting on a bed with Bobby Gillespie, JtK got a t-shirt made with my head superimposed on the body on Mr G, with the words ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ printed underneath…..

And I know that I’m not the only long-time indie-disco freak who hasn’t fallen for her charms over the years. If nothing else, nobody can deny that this is a stunning pop record that is a very close cousin to so many of the great electronica records of the 80s:-

mp3 : Kylie Minogue – I Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

Of course there’s been a lot of stuff she has recorded and released that has been unlistenable. But overall, the magnificent easily outnumber the mundane, while there have been more sublime 45s than shite 45s. Oh and let’s not forget that she was also single-handedly responsible for getting Nick Cave onto Top Of The Pops for the one and only time:-

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (feat Kylie Minogue) – Where The Wild Roses Grow

And among all the great acts that I’ve seen live over the years, I’ve rarely been so well entertained as when Mrs V took me along as a surprise to catch Kylie perform in March 2005 at the SECC in Glasgow.

A few years back, I had the pleasure of finding a 12″ promo copy of some dance mixes disc of one of my favourite Kylie singles for just £1, so I’m sticking to my principles by offering these rips from vinyl:-

mp3 : Kylie Minogue – Confide In Me (Master Mix)
mp3 : Kylie Minogue – Confide In Me (The Truth Mix)
mp3 : Kylie Minogue – Confide In Me (Big Brothers Mix)

Enjoy!!!!

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (18)

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TEARS OF A CLOWN

The Cure : Mint Car

Ok I’m going to be blunt here. Mint Car features on The Cure album Wild Mood Swings. It is the best song on that album.  I think its fair to say that Wild Mood Swings was the not The Cure’s finest moment. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s their worst album by some way (Disintegration being their best and I’d take anyone outside who wants to argue).

mp3 : The Cure – Mint Car

I’m also not going to sit here and tell you about The Cure, where they formed, and all that – you know that, surely. They have some great records, no scratch that, they have some wonderful records, again most of which you will own, know, or played the hell out of. There are a great singles band and just for the hell of it and just in case there is someone out there who has never heard The Cure, the best three Cure singles to start your collection with are Just Like Heaven, Pictures of You and Lovesong (the first and third songs being two of the greatest love songs ever written). Mint Car is about twenty sixth on that list. Just above A Forest.

mp3 : The Cure – Just Like Heaven (acoustic)
mp3 : The Cure – Pictures Of You
mp3 : The Cure – Lovesong (acoustic)

So I’m going to talk about crying instead (in a very round about kind of way – and yes I know this is a music blog), and the reason why is this. My one year old has been poorly this week she has been a small fiery mixture of tears, snot, gunge and regurgitated carrot. She’s  fine now though, thanks for asking. A few days ago I drove her to the beach where she likes to run around a bit, well I say run, more stagger, totter and then fall over, but you get my drift. Anyway, we were driving home and I had Guess The Year on Radio Devon on the stereo, (yes Radio Devon, I happen to like Guess the Year with Shep, shut up) and it was 1979 (I got it quite early on, the DJ caters to the low common denominator…”this was the year Margaret Thatcher came to power”, was one of the clues).

Then, all of a sudden, the DJ played a blinder, as I sat in traffic waiting to head homewards, he played Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel and by the end of it I was a fiery mixture of tears, snot and gunge (no regurgitated carrot).

I have no shame in admitting this, it’s a sad song, about rabbits.  I like rabbits.But it did make me think.  It joins a short list of now four records that have made me cry (to be honest it does it most times and if you don’t find it sad, you have a waxy pea sized heart), I won’t bore you with the other three  A Natural by Whipping BoyShine a Light by Spiritualized and Hurt by Johnny Cash ) but would be intrigued to know which songs make you blub, I don’t care about the reasons, unless you want to share (Group Hug, anyone?), just interested. Sniff.

(Oh and I would like to apologise for all the brackets in this piece, sorry).

S-WC

JC adds

My list extends to way beyind four, but then again lots of music can turn me into an emotional gibbering wreck – especially if I’m had too much to drink.

The most recent would have been on the occasion of the burial of my young brother a few years back.  It was the result of a car accident, it happened in the west of Ireland and the responsibility of getting the family over there from Scotland fell on my shoulders as did a few other tasks in Ireland.  I held everything together till the very last second until the first notes of the music to accompany the coffin disappearing to where the cremation would take place.  It was a piece  selected by the funeral director (the family really had no idea what would be appropriate as we had no idea what my young brother’s tastes were) and it was Time To Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli.  And ever since, I’ve never been able to hear that song without losing it…

There’s been loads of times the use of a song in a film has had me crying – most notably at the end of Control (the song being Atmosphere by Joy Division).  And which Smiths fan hasn’t at some point lost it at least once when he or she his listening to I Know It’s Over……

I’ll stop there.

KATHLEEN

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The first time I heard Kathleen it was on a tape given to me by a friend. I assumed it was an original composition as it had all the hallmarks of a classic Tindersticks recording. I got round to talking about it with said friend and was very surprised to learn it was a cover version.

mp3 : Tindersticks – Kathleen

The Tindersticks of this era (mid-late 90s) are impossible to characterise. They can’t be defined as rock, jazz or soul and yet they have a little bit of all of those in many of their songs. They employed all sorts of instruments on their records, including brass, strings and percussion – and in Stuart Staples, they had, and still have, a singer with a distinctive and unmistakable baritone voice. Some say they are just another doom-laden miserablist lot. Far from it.

They were a band best consumed in the live setting. Until last year when I saw Frightened Rabbit in a packed compact venue in the middle of a Berlin heatwave, the Tindersticks gig at the Jaffa Cake in Edinburgh in 1997 is the hottest I’ve ever been at a gig…so hot that the band had to remove their jackets! And in 2002 I was lucky enough, in the company of Mrs Villain, to see them perform in the stunning surroundings of Somerset House in London, complete with 20 piece orchestra on a warm summer evening in which I was sure I had seen THE perfect concert in my lifetime. I even spotted Concorde in the sky above at one point….

For a long long time I only had a copy of Kathleen courtesy of it being on said cassette tape. One day I dropped an e-mail to the band looking for a bit of heads-up on plans to re-release the early LPs to find out if any bonus material in the offing would include making Kathleen available as I had been looking out for a copy for a number of years. I was told yes, but was also asked that If I wanted I could have a copy of the 7″ single as there was a spare one lying around in the office. You can guess my answer….

It now sits in the cupboard proudly beside all my other vinyl, #2184 of what had been a limited run of 5000. Here’s the other three tracks on the 7″:-

mp3 : Tindersticks – Summat Moon
mp3 : Tindersticks – A Sweet Sweet Man
mp3 : Tindersticks – E-Type Joe

As I said at the outset, I was surprised to find out this was a cover. It made me determined to track down the original and was amazed to learn just how close in style and tone the Tindersticks version was and yet they had still made it sound as if it was one of their own. I thought only The Wedding Present were capable of such genius….

mp3 : Townes Van Zandt – Kathleen

Until that point in time I knew nothing about Townes Van Zandt. His life is surely a Hollywood movie in waiting….

CULT CLASSICS : WE DON’T NEED NOBODY ELSE by WHIPPING BOY

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Not released on an indie label but very much an indie band.

Whipping Boy formed in Dublin in 1988 and started out in life as Fall covers band. In 1992 they released their first album Submarine and then signed to the Columbia Label. In 1995 they came to the attention of a wider audience with the release of Heartworm their second album.

It is from this that We Don’t Need Nobody Else was taken. It’s a brutal episode of love, betrayal and heartbreak with singer Fergal McKee at first speaking over the wall of guitars in the back ground, then getting angrier and angrier. There is one verse in the song that makes your hairs stand up on end and genuinely made me shiver it’s the bit where Mckee says

“I hit you for the first time today, I didn’t mean to It just happened You wouldn’t let me go to the phone, you wanted to make love and I did not Now I know the distance between us Christ we weren’t even fighting, I was just annoyed”

Is it misogynist? No, well probably not. What it is, is a raw and emotional account of a love lost. Follow the song through, you’ll understand. Listen to A Natural, the very last (hidden) track on Heartworm and it all becomes very clear, well it did to me. To me, this identified how music can be a very powerful thing, in fact it can tear your heart out whilst you sing along. Lyrically this song is as beautiful as anything I have ever listened to and yet they are not the household names they should be.

mp3 : Whipping Boy – We Don’t Need Nobody Else
mp3 : Whipping Boy – A Natural

Is it a cult classic? Yes it’s the very definition of a cult classic, it scraped the Top Fifty. The album is better received now than it was 18 years ago. The band had very little success when perhaps they should have been megastars, Heartworm was recently voted one of the greatest Irish Albums of all time, I would lose the word ‘Irish’ there myself.

S-WC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 77)

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Today’s words are courtesy of Whippet at The Wheel, a wonderful former blog dedicated to the life and work of Billy Mackenzie:-

The guitarist Steve Reid was a long time friend of Billy’s.

“Orbidoig” had been a name used by Mr Reid and Christine Beveridge for their musical project formed some time after Christine had taken on vocal duties with Strange News in 1980. Billy had managed to help get Orbidoig a deal with Situation Two back in 1981, which had resulted in a single “Nocturnal Operations”/ “Up Periscopes”. Billy MacKenzie is credited with playing tubular bells on “Nocturnal Operations”. It was recorded around the time Christine Beveridge briefly joined Billy and Alan to form 39 Lyon Street and record one track “Kites”. The Orbidoig single sleeve photo is actually a publicity photo of 39 Lyon Street which has been severely cropped – leaving only Christine.

In the wake of the Rankine split, 1982 saw Billy team up with old pal and fellow Dundonian Mr Reid once more for a one-off single “Ice Cream Factory” released neither as a Billy MacKenzie solo single nor as an Orbidoig release… but as “MacKenzie Sings Orbidoig”! A rich musical creation spawned under the watchful eye of producer Mark Arthurworrey and written by Stevie Reid, the outcome made for a spot of uneasy, easy-listening. Released in 12″ and 7″ versions, the single received scant airplay and bombed. The B-sides were a dub version of the A side called “Cream Of Ice Cream Factory” and another track “Excursion Ecosse En Route Koblenz Via Hawkhill” a melodic but rather twisted, gnashing bit of guitar wrangling from Mr Reid. Hawkhill, for those who have no experience of Dundee is a pleasant cosmopolitan road which stretches from the big roundabout at The Marketgait, past the end of Blackness Road and down onto the Perth Road.

The 7″ has a place in the cupboard and is the 77th alphabetical single in this long running series:-

mp3 : Mackenzie Sings Orbidoig – Ice Cream Factory
mp3 : Mackenzie Sings Orbidoig – Excursion Ecosse En Route Koblenz Via Hawkhill

Enjoy!!!

UPDATE TO ABOVE POST

A reader kindly pointed out the the b-side ‘skipped’ a bit early on in the recording.

I’ve re-done the track and the problem is now resolved……

THE JAMES SINGLES (3)

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A short while ago, someone asked, via the comments section, whether I could start a series that featured the various singles released by James over the years.  I’m going to do my very best to comply with the request but there’s a few gaps in the collection that I might be unable to fill as the weeks and months go by.

Those of you wanting to go back to the very beginning will need to search the archives of T(n)VV and in particular the posting from 21 November 2013 featuring the songs that made up Village Fire, a 12″ EP from 1985 that brought together all the tracks recorded for Jimone and James II.

The band’s next release still causes a degree of confusion.  Here’s wiki:-

“Chain Mail” is a single by Mancunian band James, released in March 1986 by Sire Records, the first after the band defected from Factory Records.

The record was released in two different versions, as 7″ single and 12″ EP, with different artworks by John Carroll and, confusingly, under different names. The 12″ version was released as “Sit Down, three songs by… James”, even though it did not contain the later James hit, “Sit Down”, which in 1986 had not been written yet.

The only difference between the two versions musically was the inclusion of the song “Uprising” on the 12″ version. Neither song made it onto James’s debut album, Stutter, although live versions of “Chain Mail” and “Hup-Springs” were later included in the live album One Man Clapping.

It received rotten reviews from the UK music press  – “cold, turgid and morose” was the verdict delivered by Sounds, and it was completely ignored by mainstream radio.  Not surprisingly it came nowhere near troubling the charts.

mp3 : James – Chain Mail
mp3 : James – Hup Springs
mp3 : James – Uprising

It can’t be denied that this was a very bizarre choice of single.  It is whimsical and almost folk-like as indeed are the b-sides…..and yet, almost 28 years later it remains a hugely enjoyable listen……but even the most diehard of fans has to admit it would have been a miracle if it had made TOTP.

ALVIN LIVES (IN LEEDS)

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This is one of my own….but it was inspired by an idea and contribution from a reader.

Just the other week I featured the cover of Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) by The Wedding Present.  A comment from The Robster informed me that this was the band’s second take on that particular song as it had first been aired on an LP called Alvin Lives (In Leeds) : Anti Poll Tax Trax which, as the title suggests, was aimed at raising funds to help those campaigning against a particularly unpopular piece of government legislation.

Released in 1990, it consists of 12 indie acts doing cover versions.  As is often the case with a record like this, the output it is a bit hit and miss but what is quite astonishing is the sheer cheesiness of some of the choices:-

Tracklist 

Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
Five Thirty – My Sweet Lord
Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody
The Popguns – Bye Bye Baby
Crocodile Ride – I Feel Love
Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting
Corn Dollies – Le Freak
The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
The Close Lobsters – Float On
14 Iced Bears – Summer Nights
The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
The Perfect Disaster – Wanderin’ Star

It’s a bunch of huge hits from the 70s and  I kind of got the feeling that having been asked to be part of what was a worthy cause and then told they had to come up with a cover of a well-known record from the 70s, most of them then tried to think what could be the most ridiculous departure from the norm.

Special mention must be made of Cud.  They’ve taken one of the sacred cows of pomp rock and ripped the total pish out of it.  All the words and a semblance of the tune do appear to be in place but they bash the whole thing out in a little under three minutes:-

mp3 : Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody

Anyone can see (and hear), nothing really matters to them.

Elsewhere, the song taken on by Lush is more akin to a nursery rhyme but yet somehow in their hands it works as indie-pop with meaningless lyrics while Robyn Hitchock and his mates become human beatboxes on a crazy take of a novelty song:-:-

mp3 : Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
mp3 : Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting

As you’d expect, the Weddoes do their usual fine job (and it is marginally different than the version recorded with Steve Albini and made available on the 3 Songs EP) while  I was also quite taken by some parts of Le Freak in which The Corn Dollies occasionally do a fine tribute to Gang Of Four:-

mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Le Freak

There were a few disappointments, none more so than The Close Lobsters whose take on what I’ve thought was always an appalling song somehow made me long for the original although the biggest waste of vinyl has to go to Five Thirty for what is a pointless re-tread of the George Harrison hit.

When this LP was mentioned in the comments, my dear mate Dirk from Sexy Loser professed his love for this track:-

mp3 : The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

It’s one that didn’t jump out on first hearing but I’ve persisted and now fallen for its charms.

In summary, Alvin Lives (In Leeds) is, like so many other projects of this nature, a mixed-bag, but I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to learn about it after all these years.  Hope those of you who aren’t familiar with the versions featured today will appreciate them.

Thanks Robster.

A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF GIGGING : 2013

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Today’s posting is from Aldo.  I first met him about ten years ago via Jacques the Kipper – they were work colleagues. Aldo is in his early thirties and incredibly enthusiastic about music.  He moved through to Glasgow a while back since when we’ve spent a fair bit of time socialising, particularly going to gigs and the occasional indie-club night.  He was also part of the small team who came with me to Toronto last August as part of my 50th birthday celebrations and the photo above is one he took at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern.  The band on stage are The Zilis.  Here’s his take on live music in 2013:-

 

Those of you who used to read the old blog may recall the challenge set down by JC and myself in 2012 to attend one gig a week in that calendar year, rounding off when the tidy figure of 50 gigs was reached. I entered 2013 with no intention of attempting to repeat the feat and indeed indicated to pals that I’d probably cut back a bit on live music.

It didn’t quite work out like that….

The year had began fairly slowly with only one gig in January and a handful in February, sticking by my intention to stay in more often. However, a number of gigs in the spring/summer, allied with the fact there was a steady stream of enticing shows being announced into autumn/winter brought on the realisation that I could very likely make the magic 50 again.  I’m proud that I did and that the final show of the years turned out to be one of the main highlights.

Looking back over the list there were some incredible highlights, from big acts in tiny venues (Franz Ferdinand, Albert Hammond Jr), to awards ceremonies (SAY awards, BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards), returning indie gods (Stone Roses, Suede, Pastels), motorcycle-helmet wearing bluesmen (Bob Log III) and even a concert with my mum (Eddi Reader).

‘So what were your favourites?’ I hear you cry, well here’s the top 5 standouts:

1. The Stone Roses at Glasgow Green

Having resisted any urge to go and see them at any of their 2012 comeback shows, there was no way I was missing them as soon as they announced a gig at Glasgow Green. Being well aware of their live shortcomings, I’d tempered my expectations for a band I’d idolised since my mid-teens, however, they were way better than I could have hoped. This despite the fact I could only enjoy the strains of Fools Gold from the first aid tent, as I’d been knocked over and suffered a cut to my hand in the melee a few numbers in!! A hugely memorable day.

mp3 : The Stone Roses  – Fool’s Gold

2. CHVRCHES at ABC, Glasgow

Sensational homecoming return from arguably Glasgow’s band of the year, another gig which exceeded my expectations and left me on a high for days after.

mp3 : CHVRCHES – Lies

3. Twilight Sad at King Tut’s, Glasgow

The 50th gig of the year and an early Christmas present for JC and I, our faves the Sad playing their debut album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters in the close confines of King Tuts. Phenomenal. This edged out their show with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) in the majestic surroundings of Paisley Abbey which also deserves an honourable mention.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad with the RSNO – The Room (live at Paisley Abbey)

4. Suede at Barrowland, Glasgow

An enthralling run through the back catalogue and a reminder why Brett was one of the greatest frontmen of the Britpop era. A beautiful nostalgia trip.

mp3 : Suede – Trash

5. Arcade Fire at Barrowland, Glasgow

A mariachi band as support, most of the audience in fancy dress, papier-mache heads, a storming run through the new album, and turning the Barras into the city’s coolest disco afterwards – outstanding.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Afterlife

The 50 in full (Glasgow venue unless otherwise indicated)

1. Radio 2 Folk Awards –  Royal Concert Hall
2. Trembling Bells – Glad Cafe
3. Ocean Colour Scene – ABC
4. Veronica Falls – Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA)
5. Kid Canaveral – Glad Cafe
6. Franz Ferdinand – Nice n’ Sleazy
7. Inspiral Carpets – King Tuts
8. Casual Sex/Amazing Snakeheads – Nice n’ Sleazy
9. Bob Log III – Mono
10. Father Sculptor – Stereo
11. Pere Ubu – Mono
12. Twilight Sad – PJ Molloys, Dunfermline
13. Pastels – CCA
14. Billy Bragg – Queens Hall, Edinburgh
15. Frankie & Heartstrings – King Tuts
16. Stone Roses – Glasgow Green
17. Bruce Springsteen – Hampden Park
18. SAY Awards – Barrowland
19. Twilight Sad, BMX Bandits, Meursault etc. – Oran Mor
20. Jazzateers + Vic Godard – Stereo
21. Ballboy – Glad Cafe
22. Indietracks Festival – Derbyshire
23. The Ballet – Glad Cafe
24. The Zilis – Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
25. The Just Joans – Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh
26. Wire – King Tuts
27. Hooded Fang – Broadcast
28. Art Brut – Broadcast
29. Manic Street Preachers – Barrowland
30. Vaselines, Rick Redbeard, Adam Stafford, Ela Orleans – Platform
31. Paul Weller – Barrowland
32. CHVRCHES – ABC
33. MGMT – ABC
34. Admiral Fallow + Twilight Sad – Paisley Abbey
35. PiL – ABC
36. Big Country – Alhambra, Dunfermline
37. Veronica Falls – Broadcast
38. Suede – Barrowland
39. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Barrowland
40. Savages – Classic Grand
41. Deap Vally – Oran Mor
42. Arcade Fire – Barrowland
43. Julia Holter – CCA
44. Eddi Reader – Alhambra, Dunfermline
45. Withered Hand – Glad Cafe
46. Factory Floor – Stereo
47. Quasi + Hookworms – Broadcast
48. Albert Hammond Jr – Broadcast
49. Wonderstuff, Jesus Jones, PWEI – Picture House, Edinburgh
50. Twilight Sad – King Tuts

After all that I’m definitely cutting back in 2014……

Aldo

JC adds….

I was with Aldo on 12 of the above occasions.  I probably got to about another 8 shows that he wasn’t at so I’m reasonably happy with 20 in a year.

It is likely, by the time this piece appears that we will have been to our first gig together in 2014 as we were scheduled to catch RH Hubbert /Aidan Moffat last night.  But while that while be my first live show of the year (one that promise to be quite busy for a whole range of reasons), Aldo is already ahead of me thanks to him going to see The Pop Group/The Sexual Objects last Saturday night.  I’ve a feeling he will end up at 50 again this year.

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (17)

cds-in-murfie-boxKINGMAKER – IN THE BEST POSSIBLE TASTE

The flat mate who was having sex whilst I played Sparklehorse loved Kingmaker. I remember him vividly, singing along to this album (badly, out of tune, and without a care in the world) often he would forget the words and kind of ‘la la la’ a bit until the chorus kicked it and then it would be back to a very bad X Factor audition impression. I’m not sure what the ladies saw in him but I hope to God it wasn’t his singing skills. He was fluent in six languages so maybe it was that.

Where was I? Oh yeah Kingmaker, the third best band to ever come out of Hull (Debate time, name the other two…) I once got mildly slated in the mainstream press for calling Kingmaker a poor man’s Jesus Jones. I can understand why now in hindsight because Kingmaker are better than Jesus Jones. The poor man’s Wonder Stuff perhaps, without the fiddles, or the intelligent man’s Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, without the two basses? To be honest I just wanted to name check Ned’s Atomic Dustbin there, Kingmaker sound nothing like them.

Kingmaker’s early work achieved moderate success, they had Top 20 hits and their debut album called Eat Yourself Whole was really well received (and rightly so, its excellent). At the time, they were, along with so many others, The Next Big Thing (a phrase which basically deals a death blow to any band). After the success of the debut album, they struggled creatively, the second album failed to set the world on fire. Soon Kingmaker were criticised by the Hull glitterati (two words I never thought I would ever type together there…) for being middle class pretenders and they fell out of fashion. Personally I think Britpop happened and we were too busy listening to Menswear in our skinny jeans to notice Kingmaker any more.

Kingmaker split after the release of In the Best Possible Taste. They reformed again a few years ago without charismatic lead singer Loz Hardy, I’m not sure what happened to him but he always had a catchy soundbite to quote. To me he was the spirit behind Kingmaker and without him they seemed like faceless blokes who could have been in any band at any time. The problem was that when they released the LP no one was listening anymore – it bombed terribly failing to make the Top 75. The lead single made the Top 40 but only just.

I don’t think it helped that the album itself was released one month after the death of Kenny Everett – and I’m not sure if people though they were being ironic or not. Bit of a shame really as its pretty good, its flirts with rockabilly a couple of times on it, which is NEVER EVER a good thing, even if you are a rockabilly band – whether we the public are to blame for their demise for not getting it or whether it was just that they stopped making excellent records its not for me to say (but it’s the latter of the two) – its still a shame that Kingmaker never became as popular as they should have been.

mp3 : Kingmaker – You and I Will Never See Things Eye To Eye

I heartily recommend the debut album of Kingmaker, you all own much worse records, (probability is that at least one person reading this will own a Toploader record or something by The 1975) but I wouldn’t recommend the New Kingmaker (Kingmaker MMX to give them their full, terrible name) to you though, although tracks are available to download or stream on their website so you can decide for yourself.

S-WC.

JC adds the only Kingmaker single from the collection.  Have to say, listening to it again for the first time in the best part of 20 years do I hear what S-WC has pointed out and that’s how similar they sound to Wonder Stuff,  a band I caught live a couple of times in that era. Time has passed very quickly.

mp3 : Kingmaker – Ten Years Asleep

Enjoy!

MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE DEAD TROUT

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One of the things I was most proud of over at the old blog was that I was able to post loads of guest contributions – I reckon something close on 70 different folk must have written something for The Vinyl Villain at one point or other over the near seven years of its life.

S-WC is of course continuing the tradition with his regular Tuesday slot but I’m delighted to say that for the next few dyas at least, the blog is going to have a series of things from other folk.  And I’m starting with something that, following on from last week’s Cope/McCulloch/Wylie musings,  is very apt.   It is also very funny, self-deprecating and brilliantly written.  Prepare to smile and most likely laugh out loud.   Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Phil Oates, the brains behind the corn poppy blogspot and ex-member of the beat-combo Dead Trout:-

Over at thenewcornpoppy.blogspot.co.uk I’ve been reminiscing, trying to post a lifetime of songs from 1961 to 2014. To be honest, I don’t really remember what I was listening to in the crib (when a crib meant a crib) but I’m looking forward to getting to the ‘70s. Then there’s a pretty fallow period from the early ‘80s . . .

While looking for pictures of Liverpool in the 60s and 70s to illustrate these posts I came across an excellent blog (streetsofliverpool.co.uk). Thumbing through I found a picture of Kirklands Wine Bar from 1977  . . .and it’s been used to illustrate this post.

Upstairs at Kirklands bands used to play. I remember going to a benefit gig there to save the Lyceum, once a Gentleman’s Club, later Liverpool’s first lending Library, later still a Post Office. This would have been late 1978. It must have been a successful gig because the Lyceum is still there.

I don’t recall exactly who was on the bill; I think the Moondogs played, remember the Accelerators were advertised to appear but didn’t, Big In Japan almost certainly headlined. One I do remember was Julian Cope playing his second gig as Teardrop Explodes. They played as a two piece: Julian on bass and stylophone (as advertised on tv by Rolf Harris) and Gary Dwyer on drums. It was a short set, just four songs, including Louie Louie and Robert Mitchum , Julian’s fanboy tribute “you’re such a dude, such a guy, you’re so half asleep” which turned up a decade later on the Skellington Chronicles.

More significant for me that day was a conversation with a couple of students whose band I had seen a few nights earlier at Eric’s.

Hello, I said. You’re the Dead Trout.

Hey, they said. Our first fan.

Which is how I fell in with the Dead Trout. (This was a long time ago, c’est juste une histoire, not a history book. Apologies in advance for any inaccuracies).  They were Jon and Julian and within a few weeks they suggested I perform a song with them. It was to be based on a single note (E) and have one line. I am the controller. Although I was painfully shy and had no singing voice I obviously said ok. Because that’s what you do when you are 17.

My first public performance was at the Everyman Bistro and I remember nothing at all about it.

Bill Nighy’s first public appearance was also at the Everyman Bistro.

The next was at the Factory in Manchester. This was Tony Wilson’s club in Hulme, Manchester. There were rough bits of Liverpool in 1978 but Hulme was much, much worse.

Dead Trout were supporting Pink Military who suffered the indignity of having bottles and ashtrays hurled at them. Nobody really paid much attention to the Trout. I remember more about the before and after of that day than the gig itself. We met up at Jayne Casey’s flat in central Liverpool. Spent some time there. Oh hi Holly Johnson, hi Spitfire Boys, hi Pete Burns. Yeah, we’re part of this scene.

There was the Commer van journey down the M62 to Manchester and back as the snow began to fall. We heeded advice and didn’t stop at the traffic lights around Hulme. We had to carry gear miles through the snow when we got back to the Halls of Residence. And like George Harrison in Hamburg I was too young even to be going into the venue.

The highlight was a Saturday night at Eric’s. My Fifteen Minutes. I only found out about the gig on the Friday. Joe Jackson was playing at Eric’s and I was mithering him trying to get him to give me the Ramones badge he was wearing. These two came over and interrupted. Joe turned to give them the autographs he expected they were after but it was me they wanted.

We’re playing here tomorrow night.

This had been in the offing for a while, Roger Eagle, Eric’s manager, always happy to give enthusiastic amateurs their moment in the sun. Ok. We were the unadvertised support for pragVEC.

Being a typically pretentious teenager and trainee diva I had done my best to develop my part. I had expanded the lyric of I Am The Controller. I had translated its one line into French, German and Italian. Probably I was inspired to do this by the fact that Bowie had just recorded “Heroes “as “Helden” and “Heros”. Plus I knew an Italian guy called Dom. So now the song went:-

“I am the controller,
je suis le controller,
ich bin der controller,
Io son il controllotore.”
(repeat ad nauseum)

I step up onto the stage.

The stage previously graced by the Ramones, the Clash, Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Rezillos, XTC, Punishment of Luxury, the Mekons, the Teardrops, Bunnymen, Big in Japan . . . This is my Madison Square, my Rainbow, Budokan. The weight of expectation. A short time earlier I’d been one of the crowd and now . . . The band, which numbered around seven that night, started this rhythmic drone (do I contradict myself? I contain multitudes . . .) the usual bass, drums, guitars, plus violin, kazoos and more. And I stepped up to the mic. I’ve never claimed to be a singer, so all I do is to intone the words, kind of in the style of Ian Curtis “day in, day out, day in, day out”. Getting a bit faster at the end, kind of shouting io son il controllotore. Went ok.

They’re still playing. Do the verse again. I can hear another voice singing the words, a fraction of a second behind me. This hasn’t happened before, ok, I’ll slow down and then we’ll be in time. I slow down . . . I . . .am . . .the . . .con . . .troll . . .er . . . the other voice slows too, still behind me. It kind of dawns that it is just a trick of the PA, a delay or echo but it is too late. I keep going. Deathly slowly. Like it is supposed to sound like this. It seems the slower I go the more the band get into a stramash, faster and noisier, everything playing at once. I think they’re going to finish so I turn around to watch them. If there’s one thing that feels more unnatural to me than singing it is dancing so I don’t dance.

But you can’t help but move, so I’m waving my arms around, except being too cool for school I don’t take my hands out of the pockets of the long mac I’m wearing. So I have my back to the Saturday night Eric’s crowd with this coat waving round like a raven having an epileptic fit. I’m not saying that Ian Curtis was in the audience that night but JD’s career began to take off after that.

When we came off Pete Wylie, then of Crash Course, later Wah! Heat said either “I wish I was in a dance band you can think to” or “I wish I was in a thinking band you can dance to.” Either way it sounded like a validation.

(and now back to JC for the choice of tunes related to today’s post)

mp3 : Pink Military – Did You See Her
mp3 : Spitfire Boys – British Refugee
mp3 : Those Naughty Lumps – Iggy Pop’s Jacket

Enjoy!!!!!

CULT CLASSICS : IS THIS THE LIFE by THE CARDIACS

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Joy of joys……………this week’s contribution is from The Robster – the man who, together with Echorich, makes an incredible number of very welcome and worthwhile  contributions to the blog via the comment section.

When I started getting into indie music back in the mid-late 80s, I bought some of those Indie Top 20 compilation albums. One of them included ‘Is This The Life’ by Cardiacs. It stood out as a highlight of that particular record and got me interested enough to buy their album.

I had no idea who they were, that they had been going for a decade, or that ‘Is This The Life’ had already been released twice before – on the cassette-only albums ‘Toy World’ and ‘The Seaside’. All I knew was that I loved their sound, and it was one of the coolest songs I’d heard with a sax in it!

The album intrigued me and it was a fixture on my record deck for months. This was one very strange band, clearly touched by genius but far too odd to ever really gain any support or credibility from the media (as evidenced by the NME banning the very mention of their name).

‘Is This The Life’ was probably the most accessible track on that album; arguably it is one of the most accessible songs in their entire canon. It’s still a really bloody good track to this day, though I did have to wrestle between this one and ‘Dirty Boy’ (from their 1996 masterpiece ‘Sing To God’). ‘Is This The Life’ was the closest they ever came to a hit (it still didn’t make the top 75) and it was the one that introduced me to Tim Smith’s brilliantly bizarre mind.

Sadly, Tim’s illness (he suffered a heart attack and two strokes in 2008) probably means Cardiacs will never work again. At least they have a legacy though. Even if ‘Is This The Life’ had been the only record they ever cut, it would still have been worth it.

mp3 : The Cardiacs – Is This The Life (1981, from the ‘Toy World cassette’)
mp3 : The Cardiacs – Is This The Life (1988. single version)
mp3 : The Cardiacs – Is This The Life (1995. live version from ‘All That Glitters’)

Video available to view right here.

The Robster

JC adds

First time I’ve ever heard this…….and it comes highly recommended.  The single version reminds me in places of The Cure…

AFTER COPE THEN McCULLOCH….IT HAD TO BE WYLIE ON FRIDAY

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The best summary of Pete Wylie that I’ve ever read appeared in a piece in The Guardian just over 12 months ago:-

Pete Wylie was one of John Peel’s pet projects. He’d been one of the legendary (and barely existent) Liverpool group the Crucial Three with Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch before those two formed the Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen respectively. Wylie formed Wah! Or rather, with a grasp of how to succeed in the music business that fell far short of his grandiose ambition, he formed Wah!, Wah! Heat, Shambeko Say! Wah!, Wah! The Mongrel, JF Wah! He got a major label, he released an album with the please-don’t-buy-this title Nah = Poo! – The Art of Bluff, he had a hit single with The Story of the Blues, he lost the major label deal. Through it all was a sense of a character who felt destined to be a star, and who had imagined the whole process from start to finish, with the possible exception of the bits in which he knuckled down and did what aspirant stars have to do: kissing label arses; doing the meet-and-greets; being a good boy.

The bio on the official website describes him as ‘part time rock star – full-time legend’ and reminds us that he has been behind some epic chart hits in our lifetime with the likes of Story of The Blues, Sinful and Come Back, the 12″ versions of which all have a place in the cupboard full of vinyl.

What I also think is well worth a read are the words of Wylie on how Story of The Blues became a hit:-

I started re-checking the Chilites doing this beautiful, very direct, emotional thing & around the same time saw Alan Bleasdale’s ‘BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF’; it made powerful political points by connecting emotionally, by dealing with the human costs of the day + MOTOWN WALKER BROTHERS etc all kicked in like long-lost family – we brought in mike HEDGES as producer (I love and love his work with the Associates, who during the recording brought in the most ale I’d seen at that point, and we ‘watched’ Scotland v Brazil, 82 world cup – love ya Billy). I programmed drumbox, arranged, played guitar, piano even – WEA thought BIGTIME; PEELE & JENSEN hammered it on Radip 1, the world breathed a sigh of indifference. Then, months after release, dead on its feet, we got a call; Granada TV were doing a Christmas show, Duran or such has been collared doing something shady, they needed a replacement quick and we were the nearest group; we did the show (first WAH! TV goes pop); in the make-up (MAKE-UP!) room Bet Lynch took a look at my quiff and said ‘OOH I haven’t seen one that big for years” I worw a tux (Like when ELVIS sang with SINATRA). The show aired Christmas day, the shops opened soon after and we humbly took our place in the nation’s charts – 6 MONTHS OF DOOM THEN BOOM! And it all got very different

mp3 : Wah! – The Story of The Blues (Part 1)

A rather less polished version was later recorded on 22 August 1984 for the John Peel Show:-

mp3 : The Mighty Wah – Basement Blues/Story Of The Blues

One of my other favourite Pete Wylie things was written in 1989:-

mp3 : Big Hard Excellent Fish – Imperfect List

It’s a spoken-word track is a list of his most hated people and things read by Josie Jones. Fast forward to 2004 and that very track was used as the opening salvo in Morrissey’s gig at the Manchester Arena (which myself and Mrs Villain managed to pick up tickets for!) and subsequently can be found on the DVD Who Put the M in Manchester?

And finally, here’s a rare chance to listen to Pete’s vocal contribution in 1990 to the original hardcore near nine minute version of a track that would be re-recorded and become a hit single a year later :-

mp3 : The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (feat Pete Wylie) – It’s Grim Up North

Enjoy.

AN INDIE-DANCE TUNE FROM THE PEN OF LEONARD COHEN

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No….your ears do not deceive you.  But it is courtesy of a cover version:-

mp3 : Ian McCulloch – Lover Lover Lover

Bearing absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the 1974 original, Mac the Mouth gives us something we can all shake our snake hips to.

Released back in 1992, it got as high as #47 in the singles chart and was the highest placed of the eight singles Mac released as a solo artist.  The cupboard contains the 12″ version which was produced by Henry Priestman (ex It’s Immaterial and The Christians) and mixed by Mark Stent (who went on to find huge fame and fortune working with Oasis) :-

mp3 : Ian McCulloch : Lover, Lover, Lover (Indian Dawn Remix)

I suppose,  for the sake of completeness, I should also shove up the b-sides:-

mp3 : Ian McCulloch : White Hotel (acoustic version)
mp3 : Ian McCulloch : Vibor Blue (acoustic version)
mp3 : Ian McCulloch : The Ground Below

The first of the acoustic numbers is a version of a song on his 1989 LP Candleland while the second is a version of one than can be found on Mysterio from 1992.

Enjoy.