This should have appeared last week…..but I forgot to transfer the text over from a word doc.  Apologies.

I’ve reached the stage of this incredibly long-running alphabetical series where it is time to feature Primal Scream. So many great things to choose from but I thought I’d go with something a bit different and one probably not so well-known to readers from overseas.

The summer of 1996 was to feature a major football tournament.  It was the European Nations Championship, conveniently shortened to Euro 96, and the host nation was England.  Being just over the border, there was huge interest in whether Scotland could also make it through the qualifying stages which we did reasonably comfortably, although it has to be said we did have an easy group (Russia, Greece, Finland, Faroe Islands and San Marino) as well as some half-decent players at the time.

It was inevitable however, that having qualified with a bit of ease that the footballing gods would deal us a cruel hand in the actual tournament which is why we ended up drawn against Holland, Switzerland and the hosts.

The fact we were playing such an important match against our oldest and deadliest rivals created all sorts of interest and in the tournament not to mention weird spin-offs. One of these was the release of a very unofficial single by Primal Scream.

It was a collaboration with the Scottish author Irvine Welsh who just three years earlier had shot to fame and infamy with the publication of his debut novel Trainspotting, as well as the team at the English-based On-U Sound, a record label best-known for dance and dub releases.  The end result is everything as crazy, imaginative and offensive as you’d imagine.

Is it any good though?

Well….as a huge fan of much of what Irvine Welsh has written over the years, I’m prepared to say that this is a tremendous release.  As with any bit of writing by Welsh, it is OTT and then some.  There’s a fair bit of black humour mixed in with some excellent social observation and commentary although it will not be to everyone’s taste. And again, as  with any bit of writing by Welsh, there’s loads of gratuitous swearing, so be warned when you click on the mp3s.

The full title of the release was Primal Scream, Irvine Welsh and On-U Sound present….The Big Man and the Scream Team meet the Barmy Army Uptown.  There were two musical versions made available along with a spoken word track featuring Welsh alone.

mp3 : Primal Scream et al – Full Strength Fortified Dub
mp3 : Primal Scream et al – Electric Soup dub
mp3 : Irvine Welsh – A Jake Supreme

Released by Creation Records on 3 June 1996 on the eve of the tournament, this reached #17 in the UK charts despite, to the best of my knowledge, never receiving a single airing on radio….such was the pulling power of the Scream and Welsh.

As to the tournament itself…….Scotland didn’t disappoint by doing what we always do and that is being eliminated in the most ridiculous of ways. We drew with Holland and then lost that important game to England – a match in which the decisive and brilliant second goal by Paul Gascoigne came a few seconds after we had contrived to miss a penalty.

In the final matches, played on the date of my 33rd birthday,  Scotland beat Switzerland 1-0 but had to rely on England pulling off the most unlikely result of a four-goal win over Holland. Unbelievably, they were within 12 minutes of pulling off that very feat when Holland scored to make it 4-1 meaning Scotland were eliminated on the rule of having scored less goals over the three matches than the Dutch.

It was very cruel way to bow out – and our hope of a re-match in the final against England was cruelly dashed!

But such is the way of being a fan of Scotland. At least we don’t have the torture of the upcoming World Cup to distract us.




sit down

I mentioned last time round that a short pre-Xmas tour had been put together to support the release of Lose Control and how the band, despite very little chart success, had sold out two successive nights at the 10,000 capacity G-Mex in Manchester.

One of the gigs, on Saturday 8 December 1990, was being filmed for future release on VHS. The band were on top form, but so was the audience who turned the event into a giant celebratory party – one that recognised James for what they were but one that also symbolised the fact that Manchester had become, at that moment in time, THE happening place for rock music not just in the UK but right across the planet, although things would shift many thousands of miles west to Seattle in the coming months….

The footage of the performance of Sit Down remains a thing of wonder. The old-fashioned indie anthem was hijacked by the audience for a massive sing-a-long, way beyond the wildest dreams of the band. As one review at the time said, it was a gig which inspired the sort of messianic, almost religious devotion not seen since the days of The Smiths. The song went on and on and on and on for well in excess of ten minutes. It was no surprise afterwards that all concerned thought a re-release might just be the thing that finally cracked the charts.

Personally, I prefer the old Rough Trade version of the song, but there’s no denying that Gil Norton delivered a dynamic production that was tailor-made for daytime radio, especially the way the chorus now dominated the whole thing:-

mp3 : James – Sit Down (re-release)

The record label made sure they could shift 10,000 copies on the first day by putting this on the b-side:-

mp3 : James – Sit Down (live at G-Mex)

I have no doubt that the entire audience rushed out to but the single to relive that special night a few months earlier.

The 12″ and CD single had a previously unreleased (but largely unremarkable) song that had been recorded at the same time as Lose Control:-

mp3 : James – Tonight

At the end of March, the single charged into the charts at #7 and the band finally made a long-overdue appearance on Top of The Pops. It was on heavy rotation on radio as well as MTV, and the band were also able to promote it through prime time telly in the UK. It was surely destined for #1……

…..but nobody had reckoned without the poptastic hit that was The One and Only by Chesney Hawkes which kept Sit Down at #2 for three weeks!



For the second successive day, I’m featuring a track that had to be trimmed back dramatically to make it suitable as a single.

The world was going crazy for all things Spiritualized in early 1998.  The LP Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space has been name top of loads of critics lists at the end of the previous year and was making its way back up the charts again as folk rushed to find out what the fuss was all about.

Dedicated Records decided to cash in.  Here’s how I imagine the conversation went.

Concerned bloke at record label : “It’s a great idea to go another single. But there’s a couple of problems with the choice of I Think I’m In Love. First of all, the album version is almost 8 minutes long and meanders along at a dreamy pace with all sorts of instrumentation not to mention a gospel choir thrown in on backing vocals…and it takes nearly two and a half minutes before it hits the upbeat sounding chorus that will sound good on radio as I will now remind you.

mp3 : Spiritualized – I Think I’m In Love

Money-grabbing bloke at record label: “Piece of piss. Just cut down on the instrumentation and reach the radio friendly bit after 45 seconds.”

Concerned bloke : “But what about the fact that this is a song about all the great things taking heroin can do to your mind? There’s no way the radio bosses will allow it, and besides, do we really want to be corrupting the kids? Have another read at these lyrics:-

Sun so bright that I’m nearly blind
Cool cause I’m wired and I’m out of my mind
Warms the dope running down my spine
But I don’t care about you and I’ve got nothing to do
Free as the warmth in the air that I breathe
Even freer than dmt
Feel the warmth of the sun in me
But I don’t care about you and I’ve got nothing to do
Love in the middle of the afternoon
Just me, my spike in my arm and my spoon
Feel the warmth of the sun in the room
But I don’t care about you
And I’ve got nothing

I think I’m in love
Probably just hungry
I think I’m your friend
Probably just lonely
I think you got me in a spin now
Probably just turning
I think I’m a fool for you babe
Probably just yearning
I think I can rock and rool
Probably just twisting
I think I wanna tell the world
Probably ain’t listening
Come on

I think I can fly
Probably just falling
I think I’m the life and soul
Probably just snorting
I think I can hit the mark
Probably just aiming
I think my name is on your lips
Probably complaining
I think I have caught it bad
Probably contagious
I think I’m a winner baby
Probably Las Vegas
Come on

I think I’m alive
Probably just breathing
I think you stole my heart now baby
Probably just thieving
I think I’m on fire
Probably just smoking
I think that you’re my dream girl
Probably just dreaming
I think I’m the best babe
Probably like all the rest
I think that I could be your man
Probably just think you can
Come on

I think I’m in love

Money-grabbing bloke : “Ah…. but here’s the genius bit of the edit – it will also involve cutting out those ten lines of lyrics that refer to putting needles in one’s arm and heating up substances with the use of a spoon…..the sort of lyric that would have seen the single banned in the first place.  Everyone will now just assume it’s a straightforward love song and have it played at weddings and the like.

Concerned bloke : “That is fucking genius…when’s the release date?”

So, the single edit transforms immediately what this song is really about:-

mp3 : Spiritualized – I Think I’m In Love (single edit)

It’s a very funny but cruel lyric in many ways.  All the positive, upbeat and romantic things that are uttered by the protagonist are slapped down immediately with a reminder that life really is shit.

The CD single came with a wonderful Chemical Brothers remix that re-instated the full uncensored lyric as well as an instrumental version:-

mp3 : Spiritualized – I Think I’m In Love (vocal remix)
mp3 : Spiritualized – I Think I’m In Love (instrumental)



silver sun front

In 1997, Domino Records tried really hard to make a huge hit of the song Shady Lane by Pavement.

The song had been one of the most popular tracks on the LP Brighten The Corners. Known as Shady Lane/J vs S, it was the best part of four minutes long and as the title suggests, consisted of two distinct and very different bits of music.

It was decided to give the song a subtle remix.  A couple of silent gaps from the original track were eliminated and the remix also saw the new version come to a halt as the last guitar note on Shady Lane was struck, bringing it right down to just over two and a half minutes.

An up and coming director by the name of Spike Jonze was brought in to make a promo and the mult-formatting approach was taken meaning that to obtain all five of the track on the b-sides, fans would need to buy the 7″ vinyl and the 2 x CD singles.

Despite this, it stalled at #40.  Criminal if you ask me:-

mp3 : Pavement – Shady Lane (krossfader)

I only have the second of the CDs in the collection and both of the b-sides are belters in different ways:-

mp3 : Pavement – No Tan Lines
mp3 : Pavement – Wanna Mess You Around

The former is a tremendous if atypical Pavement song (jerky guitars and that fast-slow-fast killer combination) that you find yourself singing along to once you’ve listened a few times. The latter, coming in at just under 90 seconds sounds like The Fall crossed with The Pixies and The Ramones.  Oh and the lyric is a little ruder than messing you around…

Manic and Mad.




Today’s letter was chosen by my friend Mark. He asked the question why – and I told him so we will probably have another reader today (welcome Mark). He chose the letter M, and a conversation started about randomness. I have lived most of my life by randomness, my iPods are only ever set to shuffle, at the start of the 11th song, whoever is playing at the time, I stop the iPod and listen to whatever album, single etc that song features on. Yesterday for instance Bombay Bicycle Club were the 11th band, well the first one, Goldfrapp were the second. Try it, it’s a great way to live. Its also why I contacted JC in the first place after his ‘Random Shuffle’ series which he should definitely bring back.

It goes further than that though, I still have a half empty box of cd’ s in my shed, gathering dust which I have to pick out at random for this very blog (more on that later), but I also like to travel by random. Once I bought a guide book of Europe, and I asked the person who sold it to me to pick a number between 24 and 1283 (the guide book pages), she picked 535. I turned to the page and within 48 hours I was in Berlin (Berlin being the place on page 535) and that is really where my love affair with the random started.

I have used random picks to find bars, museums, art galleries you name it. In a bar in Berlin (the Grapes in Kreuzberg, since you ask) I asked the barman to pick a number between 1 and 67 (all the bars/clubs in Berlin listed in a mag I picked up) he chose 19, a club in Mitte housed in a burnt out cinema. A great choice, made all the greater because that night, by complete chance, Mogwai were playing there. Even luckier than that, was the fact that there were tickets still left on the door. Three hours later, having decided to spend the entire weekend, doing things chosen by random or by other people I was watching Mogwai in Berlin in a burnt out cinema. Mogwai were as you can imagine, incredible. When they played ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ I honestly felt like what was left of the cinema ceiling was going to collapse. Here’s a true story about Mogwai, once when reviewing them live for a magazine I mistyped Satan leaving out the first ‘a’. My editor phoned me and said “Mogwai sound great live but who is Stan”? I had no idea what he was talking about, so he published anyway, and then took the piss in print.

I told Mark that the first choice of band would be Mogwai, he had never heard Mogwai, so I posted some to my Facebook page the next day he said that it had a very long intro, its that sort of humour that makes me like Mark – which is why I was glad I asked him to pick my random letter.

mp3 : Mogwai – San Pedro

The next two songs are usually picked by me looking through the iPod for songs that I can write about or have a story about them. But today as I’m feeling random I have created a playlist of all my bands that start with M and after Mogwai’s ‘San Pedro’ has finished whatever is next shall be the choice. Warning I have at least one Madonna song on here (long story). Luckily I just deleted my Meatloaf, Richard Marx and Mantovani. Mogwai has finished…Oooh…

A few weeks ago, JC wrote a brilliant piece about Peter Hook and Revenge, the band he formed after New Order. Back in 1995 (?) he teamed up with fellow Revenge member David ‘Pottsy’ Potts to form Monaco (yup it was Monaco up next). They produced a sound not that dissimilar to New Order with songs set around Hook’s distinctive bass sound. There most well known and successful single was their debut one ‘What do you Want from me?’ which went all the way to Number 11 in the charts. It was taken from the album ‘Music For Pleasure’ which I think is probably the best thing Hooky has done outside of New Order. On that album was the track ‘Shine’ and it is that track which came up next on the iPod. A song that I had largely forgotten about, but one that is lovely. It was released as a single, the third from the album and stalled at Number 55, a shame because it deserved to go much higher. To be honest it wouldn’t sound out of place on any New Order album, in fact if Barney had sung this instead of Pottsy, I think it would have gone much higher in the charts. However, dismissing the New Order lite comments, it is a great pop record, and that folks is what we expect from Peter Hook.

mp3 : Monaco – Shine

Next up…There is I am told quite a scene going on in Leeds at the moment. I’ve been to Leeds once, it involved three pints of lager and two hour wait at a train station (It wasn’t random, I had to be there). It needs a scene. Menace Beach hail from Leeds and are a new band (read Leeds supergroup featuring members from other bands in the aforementioned scene that I have never heard of) that fuse shoegaze and college rock and come out sounding somewhere in the middle of My Bloody Valentine and the Smashing Pumpkins, this is not a bad thing at all. In fact it is a very good thing.

The track that came up was ‘Fortune Teller’ the lead track from their recent ‘Lowtalker EP’ and it sounds like something that would have been popular in 1995 when I was student. It has a trippy pyschadelic organ sound running through it and laid back guitars which are complimented by some floaty dreamy vocals. Part Pixies, part Beach Boys perhaps.

mp3 : Menace Beach – Fortune Teller

Back to the box, my new CD player has arrived. So, next week I will do the letter L and then I will be back to randomly selecting things from it, there are a few to catch up on. As a special treat here is the Gumball track that I mentioned a while ago – it doesn’t start with M but it was on top of the ‘pile that I have already pulled out and need talking about’ pile.

mp3 : Gumball – With A Little Rain





Of the quartet of WEEKLY music papers that were available in the UK back in the 80s, Sounds was my least favourite, mainly as it seemed more often than not to be aimed at the heavier end of the rock market.  And yet, history shows that during its existence (1970 – 1991) it was often at the forefront of things ahead of the more renowned New Musical Express (NME),  Melody Maker and Record Mirror – for instance it was the first of the three to give coverage to punk.

While the mid 80s saw the NME keep a reputation for reporting on and ‘breaking’ new scenes, Sounds began to increasingly concentrate on in-depth coverage of indie bands on major labels and less and less coverage to new or emerging groups.  Allied to this was a series of vinyl giveaways with the paper, the first of which, in early 1987  was associated with Beggars Banquet under the title of Sounds Showcase 1:-

Here’s what was said on the back of the EP:-

After a lengthy absence The Cult return in prime strength to re-affirm their position among the world’s best rock groups. They’ve been recording their third album in New York with Rick Rubin producing, and have stripped down their sound to barbed-wire force. Outlaw is work in progress from these album sessions – the long-awaited new album will be aptly entitled Electric.

mp3 : The Cult – Outlaw

Not the recent single version, but the original John Leckie recording of the track, which presaged the staging of Mark E Smith’s play of the same title.  Last year celebrating ten years of The Fall, this sparkling yet sinister track shows their continuing ability to surprise and stimulate with every release.

mp3 : The Fall – Hey! Luciani (original version)

The enigmatic Brix Smith weaves another fine web of 60s-inspired musical Americana. Spin This Web is the possible title track from The Adult Net’s forthcoming debut long player. Just who is Count Gunther Hoalingen?

mp3 : The Adult Net – Spin This Web

With a string of critically-acclaimed albums behind them, The Go-Betweens continue to produce distinctive quality pop songs, under the guidance of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan. I Just Get Caught Out, specially recorded for this EP, is no exception, and heralds their new LP for April release.

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – I Just Get Caught Out

This is the first time The Cult have appeared on this or the old blog.  It will be the last time cos they really are shit.  Outlaw is bloody awful.

The Fall track is different enough from the single version to make it an interesting listen, while The Adult Net is a reminder of how close that band sounded to the poppier version of The Fall that was kicking around at that time…..which is of course no surprise as The Adult Net were The Fall without Mark E. Smith (except when he guested on their records as Count Gunther Hoalingen)

The Go-Betweens would later re-record this great bit of music and make it available on the Tallulah LP:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – I Just Get Caught Out




Released in February 1991, Our Frank was the eighth single by Morrissey in just three years, but turned out to be the first flop of his career in as much as it failed to reach the Top 20.

It was also the first track on the LP Kill Uncle which hit the shops in March 1991.

I remember being utterly underwhelmed by this single at the time, but it is one that has grown on me quite a bit. The opening few bars, including the little burst of piano at around 0:17 remind me somewhat of Madness….

mp3 : Morrissey – Our Frank

I suppose on reflection that my initial reaction to the single was somewhat determined by my feeling let down by the two b-sides:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Journalists Who Lie
mp3 : Morrissey – Tony The Pony

Great titles. Shame about the tunes.

The sleeve shot was taken by Pennie Smith whose work has graced many album covers, including that of London Calling.

Happy Listening (especially now that one week on I’ve remembered to add the links!!!!!!).



In June 1983, the UK dance act Freeez enjoyed their biggest ever chart success when this single reached #2 in the charts:-

mp3 : Freeez – I.O.U.

As the cover of the single indicates, as much prominence was given to the fact that the record was produced by Arthur Baker as it was a release by Freeez. It really was massive that summer, spending months in the charts and becoming one of the biggest best-selling singles in the UK in 1983. Just as importantly from the band, producer and record label perspective, it also got massive play in clubs all across the United States, thanks to its infectious and catchy chorus and repetitive but memorable beat.

At the same time as Freeez enjoyed this success, it became known that New Order had also been working with Arthur Baker to release the follow-up to Blue Monday. The band coyly dropped hints that while the new song would be a bit different from previous New Order tracks, it would somehow be familiar to many. A bit of an understatement when you listen to this:-

mp3 : New Order – Confusion

Given that it was released while I.O.U. was still in the lower regions of the British singles chart, Confusion did remarkably well to climb to #12 on its release in August 1983. Especially as it was only issued in a 12″ format.  It was amazing to see so many New Order fans belatedly accept the brilliance of the disco-pop single that had driven so many of them demented in the previous months. I say this with some certainty, as I was one of them…..

This tune – and let’s face it, it is two songs with the same tune – did more than just about any other to create that indie/dance crossover, and in its way was more responsible for the development of The Hacienda nightclub than any other New Order song.

Fancy some b-sides?

mp3 : Freeez – I Dub U
mp3 : New Order – Confusion (Rough Mix)

Lay down thy overcoat and dance…..



As much as I thoroughly love the debut LP by Elastica, I do sometimes cringe at the fact that so many of their best tunes were total rip-offs:-

mp3 : Elastica – Connection
mp3 : Wire – Three Girl Rhumba

mp3 : Elastica – Waking Up
mp3 : The Stranglers – No More Heroes

They didn’t even begin to disguise their influences, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the self-titled debut LP from 1995 is one of the best and most enduring of the Britpop era. Strangely enough, at a time when all sorts of unforgettable acts had 45s (or more accurately CD singles as vinyl was totally out of fashion) that went high in the charts, none of the four tracks lifted from Elastica went Top 10. The album however, did hit the #1 spot.

By the time the band got over all sorts of personnel problems and released their follow-up LP in 2000, their fan base had moved on to other things and they were more or less ignored. But I reckon they still made great music, stuff that still that owed a debt to so many folk – but at least they acknowledged it this time:-

mp3 : Elastica – How He Wrote Elastica Man
mp3 : The Fall – How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’




Devo formed as far back as 1972 consisting of members from Kent and Akron, Ohio. The classic line-up of the band includes two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs (Mark and Bob) and the Casales (Gerald and Bob), along with Alan Myers. They came to notice in the new wave/post-punk era where their strange vocal delivery and heavy reliance on keyboards didn’t sound so unusual anymore; they were also helped by the fact that Brian Eno was a very early champion of their work.

Despite this, critics were often scathing of Devo and didn’t take seriously. The fact that they were among the early pioneers of the use of videos and relied on costumes while playing live led to all sorts of accusations of being non-authentic.

Slowly but surely though, the band gained a following and in the early 80s even enjoyed some mainstream success with Whip It hitting the Billboard Top 40 in 1980. The next ten years were somewhat mixed with the band seemingly wanting to turn their backs on the commercial material in the hope of being taken much more seriously and attracting the highbrow press they felt their body of work deserved in an era when electronic music was all the rage. Inevitably they fell between two stools – the records sold poorly (leading to them being dropped by their label) and the critics mostly refused to still see them as an art-school joke that had long run its course.

In 1991, after eight LPs, Devo effectively broke up for a period of six years. The reformed band however weren’t prolific with new material aside from the occasional contribution to film soundtracks but they toured extensively and played before large audiences, especially in the USA. It wasn’t until 2010 that the ninth LP was released, but like so much of their material throughout their entire career, it came out to a mixed reception – some loved it, many hated it but most were indifferent.

I wasn’t actually sure whether or not to include Devo in this short series as it has been more than 30 years since I bought any of their music. But I can’t deny that they were among the first electronic groups that I listened to and so they will always have a place in my heart. I thought I’d just shove up four tracks that were made available on an EP released in the UK on Virgin Records back in 1983…which was the last thing of theirs I bought (bar a couple of second-hand 7″ singles in recent years to replace those lost a long time ago):-

mp3 : Devo – Come Back Jonee
mp3 : Devo – Working In A Coalmine
mp3 : Devo – Satisfaction
mp3 : Devo – Jocko Homo




The music industry is a fickle old business. Both within the industry itself and through the fans who support it by purchasing the music. For instance, one day you will hyped to be the next big thing after a favourable review in a cool paper, or you get some exposure on the radio or something. It all goes a bit bananas and everyone loves you. Then you get to release some records and they live up to the hype and riding on that success you suddenly are the Next Big Thing. Then you have to go away and produce something new, and everyone forgets who you are.

Take Razorlight for instance. Back in 2002 when lead singer Johnny Borrell formed the band, he was already kind of well known having supported and been part of the scene that clustered around The Libertines. Razorlight’s first gig ever, was supporting much under rated American rock band The Von Bondies (check out ‘C’mon C’mon’ from 2004 album ‘Pawn Shoppe Heart’).

I was once in a band, our first gig ever was in the school music room supporting another school band who did covers of Queen songs. 8 people saw my band. Eight. So for Johnny and Razorlight they kind of already had a crowd of people who thought that they were cool. They were also managed by an NME journalist so that probably helped. My band was managed by my brother and that was only because he knew a bloke who had the keys to a church hall.

Anyway I’m probably sounding bitter here. Razorlight in 2003 were subject of one of the biggest signing wars of recent times, every label wanted them because they were a sure-fire success waiting to happen. Their demos were already being played on XFM (indie station in London only at the time). Their records didn’t disappoint, the debut album ‘Up All Night’ released in 2004 went to number 3 in the charts, and let’s be honest here, it is a great record. It spawned at least four decent singles from it, in particular ‘Stumble and Fall’ and ‘Golden Touch’ both brilliant singles that you probably don’t play anywhere near enough.

mp3 : Razorlight – Golden Touch

After that Razorlight got bigger still when the release the single ‘America’ from their second album ‘Razorlight’. With the success Borrell’S mouth got bigger, he got the movie star girlfriend (Kirsten Dunst), then the press and the public fell out of love with them. For me it was the moment when Borrell was in some magazine with his top off, not strictly a bad thing, it’s not like he was the singer in Ultrasound or anything, but he was wearing WHITE JEANS, that rock n roll imagery he tried so hard to conjured up, just slipped away, no one in their right mind wears white jeans, let alone be photographed wearing them.

They released a third album ‘Slipway Fires’ in 2008 it says here that it got to number 5 in the charts, yet I don’t know a single person who owns a copy or will admit to buying it (it was critically panned). Borrell released a solo album last year which sold less than 1000 copies, so in around 6 years he has gone from being one of the country’s biggest rock stars to selling less records that Darius Danesh; Christ, I reckon I could record an album and sell more than a 1000 copies of it.

Razorlight never split, they are back back back according to their website. In 2005 and 2006 I’m pretty sure they headlined every festival going, playing to millions. This year they headline the Plymouth Volkfest.  I live in Devon about 30 miles from Plymouth and have never heard of Volksfest.

Next up something that should have been posted when I was picking CDs out of a big box – the day the CD player broke, I picked out ‘Your Smile’ by Octopus and it refused to work, so I picked out another record – it was ‘Push Push’ by dubby electronica act Rockers Hifi, that also refused to work so I knew the thing was buggered. However I did track down ‘Push Push’ and had forgotten what a good record it was – so here is the skinny on Rockers HiFi.

They were formed in Birmingham in 1992 and started out life as Original Rockers but changed the name a bit later on. They were perhaps best known for two songs, the aforementioned ‘Push Push’ which was a relatively big dancefloor smash in the 90’s and the song ‘What A Life’ which featured in the film The Basketball Diaries (starring Leo DiCaprio – well worth a viewing). They kind of fell into the trip hop genre largely because it was popular at the time.

Original Rockers were forced to change their name and the two guys behind the band decided to add an MC and formed Rockers Hifi, that is when ‘Push Push’ came to into being. It is a mish mash of sounds a bit like Tackhead in places but very much like Tricky and Massive Attack and easy to see why it was lumped in the Trip Hop category though.

mp3 : Rockers Hifi – Push Push

Finally, something a bit lively to wake you all up – Radkey.

I’ve mentioned Radkey before, they are one of a great bunch of new shouty punk bands that are around (Iceage, Metz, Cerebal Balzy, The Big Ups to name some more). They hail from Missouri and feature, three brothers with the surname Radke – the singer is Dee and his biography says this

“He hates milk and not only because of his lactose intolerance. It’s the kind of hate that comes from deep down inside, the kind of hatred you would hold towards someone that has wronged you in an unmentionable way. He does have a soft spot in his heart for cheese though”.

I mean what is not to love about that. They are also fans of the Kansas City Royals baseball team and that people is also my baseball team of choice. So there is a lot to love about Radkey. They are all under the age of 20 as well – I refer you to my earlier comments on Joey Bada$$. The brothers all had a shared love of the Ramones, the Misfits and The Who so formed a band, one that plays punk with a creeping nudge towards hardcore. The vocals are something interesting, there is a slight croon to Dee’s voice – like he should be in a Las Vegas casino but formed a punk band instead. The bands second EP Devil Fruit I think sounds like The Stooges and Black Sabbath, pretty simple and effective riff and roll territory but bloody ace with it.

mp3 : Radkey – Romance Dawns



JC adds : well, that buggers up my forthcoming piece about Razorlight!!  And I’m with S-WC on their debut being more than half-decent.

oh and here’s a ps tune to the posting:-

mp3 : The Von Bondies – C’Mon C’Mon




She was born Sandra Ann Goodrich in 1947. She got her break thanks to a music contest and the patronage of then popstar Adam Faith. Re-named Sandie Shaw, she hit the #1 spot in the UK charts before her 18th birthday and went on to enjoy a further seven Top 10 hits before the 60s were over.

But by 1984, she was mostly forgotten. She had released a handful of singles in the 70s, but there was a gap of 14 years from 1969 – 1983 between albums. I said mostly forgotten, for the fact was a young emerging vocal talent called Steven Patrick Morrissey and his sidekick guitarist called Johnny Marr carried torches for her.

So much so that in April 1984, they hit upon the idea of re-releasing the debut single by The Smiths, only with Sandie singing lead vocal. This took Hand In Glove into the charts and got Sandie back on Top of the Pops for the first time in 15 years. It was a memorable performance in which the three members of the band paid tribute to her by playing barefoot – just the way Sandie had done in her prime. Sandie, to her credit, did a more than passing resemblance to a live Morrissey performance by falling to the floor and writhing around in ecstasy…

At this point in time I only knew of Sandie Shaw as someone who used to get played on the radio when I was a really young kid. I assumed she was a fair age, and so was surprised to learn that she was just 37 years old when her comeback began…..

Aiming squarely for the same market that adored The Smiths, two singles, both cover versions were released in 1986, with the b-sides being straight tributes to Morrissey and then Marr. But while they were given much critical acclaim, neither single, nor a subsequent LP released in 1988, sold well.

As you can see from the above cover, there was also a 12″ single released containing four songs recorded for the Janice Long show on BBC Radio 1.  While I knew of the existence of this record, I never owned a copy of it. And I still don’t…..but I one day received a really nice e-mail from a reader of the old blog called Jason Ruff which talked about some great old songs from the 80s, and in which he attached some mp3 files and artwork.

mp3 : Sandie Shaw – Frederick
mp3 : Sandie Shaw – Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?
mp3 : Sandie Shaw – Steven (You Don’t Eat Meat)
mp3 : Sandie Shaw – Girl Don’t Come

Note the plethora of great musicians who played on this session….




It’s not that long ago that Morrissey was regarded by quite a few rock critics as yesterday’s man. None of the four singles released in 1991 had sold well, while even the most loyal of fans (outwith the hardcore who argue that he’s never ever recorded a duff song) were beginning to have some doubts after the release of the very patchy LP Kill Uncle.

However, the LP he released in 1992, Your Arsenal, is the one that many rock critics now say is his strongest ever collection of songs, so you’d imagine that his procession through that particular calendar year was triumphal.

Well, you can think again.

The first two singles taken from Your Arsenal hit the shops before the album was released. In the pre-internet days, it was much more difficult to pick up any tracks before the vinyl or CD was available for purchase. And the critics had a bit of field day with both singles. For instance, Andrew Collins of the NME, a man who I have long regarded as having better taste than most, said this:-

“This is by far and away the ex-Smith’s worst single – it’s the sound of five men bashing around in the darkness in search of a tune. Moz is history, and we’d all do well to learn it.”

Words that were penned this in April 1992 when reviewing this:-

mp3 : Morrissey – We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful

As it happens, I disagree somewhat with Mr Collins this time, for Morrissey had released a few singles in the previous four years which were considerably worse than this (and indeed, he would record some more stinkers in the following years). But I wont argue against his description of it being the sound of five men bashing around in search of a tune…..

Thankfully, We Hate It…. was in fact one of the weaker songs on Your Arsenal which finally came out some 3 months later at the end of July 1992. It remains a strange choice for a lead-single, and I’m guessing that the main reason it was selected ahead of more obvious candidates is down to its title.

Is Morrissey singing about his relationship with the music press, or is it in fact his attack on Madchester, and in particular his view that his one-time beloved James had, to many, sold out and gone stadium rock? Either way, it doesn’t disguise that this was something that had a better title than tune….

The other thing that I remember being concerned about was the fact that the single didn’t have any new stuff to offer on the b-sides of the CD and 12″ single, instead giving us just some tracks recorded live in London in October 1991. Now I know that’s a trick pulled by just about every recording artist who has ever signed a contract, but at the time, it made me fear that 1992 Morrissey was going to be a huge disappointment.

mp3 : Morrissey – Suedehead (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – I’ve Changed My Plea To Guilty (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – Alsatian Cousin (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – Pregnant For The Last Time (live)

The rather limp guitar playing on Suedehead makes you realise just how great a job Vini Reilly had done on the original…..but the single did reach #17 in the UK charts, and was his first single in five releases to reach the Top 20.

Oh and of all the covers ever used on Morrissey singles and albums, this is probably my favourite cos it’s a dead ringer for my mate Rod…..

It was taken backstage by Linder Sterling just before a gig in Santa Monica, California on the Kill Uncle tour.

Oh and it’s worth mentioning that around the same time, Moz pulled out of a headline slot at Glastonbury and was replaced by none other than James who, totally toungue-in-cheek, opened the show with a plodding number:-

mp3 : James – We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful (live)




From wiki:-

Positive Noise were a new wave and synthpop band from Scotland who had a number of indie hits in the 1980s. They released three albums and several singles and were together for over five years.

The band was formed in 1979 by Ross Middleton (vocals), his brothers Graham Middleton (keyboards, vocals) and Fraser Middleton (bass guitar, vocals), Russell Blackstock (guitar, vocals), and Les Gaff (drums).Their first released material was two tracks (“Refugees” and “The Long March”) on the Statik label compilation album Second City Statik in 1980, and they followed this with two singles on Statik in 1981, both of which were top-ten hits on the UK Independent Chart. Début album Heart of Darkness was released in May 1981, after which Ross left to form the short-lived Leisure Process, with Blackstock taking over on lead vocals. Heart of Darkness peaked at number four on the independent chart, and the band’s second album, Change of Heart (1982), also charted, reaching number 21. They released a third and final album, Distant Fires, in 1985, now with John Telford on drums and John Coletta on guitar, but their earlier success was not repeated and they split up shortly afterwards.

Ross Middleton had earlier worked as a music journalist, writing for Sounds under the pen name Maxwell Park.

And here’s the two sides of the debut single:-

mp3 : Positive Noise – Give Me Passion
mp3 : Positive Noise – Ghosts




With a squeeze and a sigh and a twinkle in your eye as the sunshine banishes the dark.

mp3 : The Sundays – Summertime

A deserved Top 20 hit from 1997, a full eight years after The Sundays had first come to prominence with the indie kids.  I’m more than happy admit that Summertime is more mainstream than indie but I don’t care.  It’s as perfect a love song as has been written and recorded by anyone.

And that’s all I have to say today.



….I probably first set my eyes on the then scariest looking man in pop music.

The singles chart of 11 May 1974 had a new entry by a new band at #27.

mp3 : Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us

I’d be not far short of my 11th birthday.  Pop music on the telly was more or less restricted to Top of The Pops and given that Sparks were just one of two new entries that week (the other being Alvin Stardust singing Red Dress) then I’m assuming they got on the show a few days later.  If so, then that was the first time I saw the really creep, scary man with the staring eyes and the Adolf Hitler moustache sitting behind the piano.  He gave me more nightmares than any monster brought to life by the writers of Dr Who.

There’s no doubt that Sparks first appearance on telly got the nation talking.  Most of the talk would have been about the keyboard weirdo, but then again I’m sure that much of the female population were equally as wowed by the good-looking man in the tight trousers with the high-pitched voice.

The effect of this incredible appearance can be seen from the following week’s chart.  Sparks were the biggest climbers up 18 places to #9 – compare and contrast with poor old Alvin whose efforts saw a rise of just one spot to #10.   In those days, you didn’t get on the show two weeks running unless you were #1, but that didn’t stop the momentum of This Town…which hit #3.

Another TV performance saw even more people buy the single and in its fourth week on the charts it hit #2, which is also where it stayed on week 5, sadly kept off the top spot by Sugar Baby Love by The Rubettes.

By the sixth week it had fallen down to #5….and the Top of The Pop rules were that no song falling down the chart would feature.

There’s many who at the time predicted Sparks would be one-hit wonders and remembered as a novelty act. That they were back in the charts a few months later came as a shock to those who hated them:-

mp3 : Sparks – Amateur Hour

But even their biggest fans would have laughed out loud if you’d said they’s still be making critically acclaimed music 40 years on……..

As I was too young to really appreciate and understand Bowie, then it’s fair to say that Sparks were the first weird and different sounding band that I ever fell for (once I realised that Ron Mael wasn’t really the bogeyman).  And I’m happy to argue all day and all night that the two singles which first brought them fame and fortune are timeless classics.




1990 had been a very good year for James.

The LP Goldmother had received very favourable reviews as had a performance at that summer’s Glastonbury festival.  The band was gaining a very formidable reputation as a live act, and it was no surprise that they were being asked to play as special guests at outdoor gigs as they did with both David Bowie and The Cure (the former being at Maine Road, the then home of Manchester City FC where James stole the show from the headliner).

It was decided that a new single should be released just prior to Christmas and with a mini-tour taking in Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester to help with its promotion.  The popularity of the band in their home town could be seen from the fact that they sold out two consecutive nights at the 10,000 capacity G-Mex and could probably have done the same again if the time had been available.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a ticket for the Glasgow Barrowlands gig, but I am reliably informed by someone who was there that it was amongst the best ever at the famous old venue.

The new single was a belter as well.  Maybe it was the time of the year when the band thought fans might be a bit skint, but the multi-formatting approach was abandoned.  It still came out on 7″, 12″, cassette and CD but you didn’t have to buy all versions to get all the songs:-

mp3 : James – Lose Control (7″ version)
mp3 : James – Lose Control (extended version)
mp3 : James – Sunday Morning
mp3 : James – Out To Get You

The extended version is two and a bit minutes longer than the 7″ .  The b-side common to all formats is a tremendous cover in which the lyrics are amended with the addition of all sorts of song titles and lines from other Velvet Underground songs, The bonus b-side is such a great bit of music that it was later resurrected and re-recorded some two years later. If you’re only familiar with the version that appears on Laid, then I hope you appreciate this gentler sounding effort – I think it represents one of Tim’s loveliest and most tear-jerking vocal performances.



Chinese fontThe Robster chose the letter P

Difficult. Is one way to describe the letter P. So many decent bands begin with P. I’ve discounted Portishead, Placebo, Pure Morning (although I truly recommend you seek out ‘Scum’ from their debut album), Pop Will Eat Itself, Procul Harum and the Pixies, to name but six. I also was tempted to talk about Panjabi MC, as I have a great story about him at a wedding in Chennai, but I would definitely get sued. Anyway, there is only one place to start when talking about bands beginning with P.

Imagine the scene if you will, it 1994, it’s the Reading Festival and a relatively drunk S-WC (evening meal vodka and a falafel burger, the food of a king) and his mate who we shall called Chris (as that is his name) are hitting on two wee Scottish girls from ‘the twee village of Blairgowrie’(their words).

It is Saturday evening and we are trying to talk the two girls into coming to see Madder Rose with us, as Chris really likes them and besides we want to catch Compulsion and Elastica who were on before them. They say no, they want to see Primal Scream, the problem is on before Primal Scream is Ice Cube who no really likes but they are willing to put up with that in order to get a good spot. Personally I’m not fussed either way, as long as I see Compulsion I don’t care. Also the girls were nicer to look at that Chris, so I was probably swaying in that direction.

We consume more vodka and I think I manage to eat a doughnut to soak up the alcohol, in 1994 eating wasn’t cheating. The two girls by the way had drunk way more than us and were absolutely far more sober than either me or Chris. In the end in ways that only girls can they ‘persuaded’ us to watch Primal Scream with them, we caught Compulsion first (who were great) missed Elastica and hot footed it over to Primal Scream. I should point out that the persuasion was not as seedy as I have made it sound, I think they produced another half bottle of vodka and that swung it.

End result, Primal Scream in 1994, was the best live performance I have ever seen, perhaps it was the drink, the company and the atmosphere but standing in a field at 1030pm listening to ‘Higher Than The Sun’just about does it for me. The four of us woke up the next morning in the same tent (clothed, you filthy minded buggers, although I do remember being disappointed) with two of us having the mother of all hangovers, but it was really worth it. I have to say I have never listened to Madder Rose since that festival.

mp3 : Primal Scream – Come Together (Farley mix)

Since then I have seen Primal Scream live more than any band, they are pretty much the only band I would now travel to see outside of the South West to see live and they just get better and better live. I saw them at a place called the Eden Project a few years back now, down in Cornwall, they played ‘Screamadelica’ in full and it was truly amazing. I love their energy, their passion, and in Bobby Gillespie they have a frontman who will I think go on for ever. For those who haven’t heard it, ‘Screamadelica’ is the greatest record ever made. Period. No arguments. Forget what is written about ‘The Queen is Dead’ or ‘Pet Sounds’, they don’t even come close.

A couple of years ago I went to a wedding it was pretty dull, until the party afterwards. I was sat at the bar recovering after having a boring conversation with some bloke who drove buses in Chester. Which took up the ENTIRE MEAL. Everything I spoke about he managed successfully to bring in buses to the equation. What do you think about David Cameron’s view on Syria? Well funny you should say that, in Chester on the buses we use engine parts made in Syria…that kind of thing.

Anyway, at the bar there was a couple of blokes who didn’t fit in, they looked cool and out-of-place. I kind of nodded at them and we did the how do you know the bride and groom thing. Turns out they were related, or one of them was. They were in a band, and that band was Public Service Broadcasting. One of the two (and I have to be careful as they use pseudonyms) said we have a mantra we aim to teach the lessons of the past through the music of the future. What they do is trawl through old film archives, and use snippets of voices and then set them to music. It sounds weird but it really works. If you have a long musical memory then you might remember Paul Hardcastle tried something similar with the song ‘19’ and perhaps even Big Audio Dynamites ‘E=MC2’ but PSB do it excellently and without the feel of a gimmick. They had me the minute they told me their mantra and I hadn’t heard them. When I did what I got was the sound of 1930s announcements set to a whirl of indie guitars and electronica and I was gobsmacked at what they had done. The problem is and I never told them, is what are they going to do next?

mp3 : Public Service Broadcasting – Spitfire

Finally an oldie but a goldie, a record that is in my top ten tracks of all time. Probably, I keep changing it. I post it as an advert really, because right now on Amazon every Pavement album is available on download for £2.99 and if that is not an excuse to buy them all then I don’t know what is.

Whenever I move house – which isn’t that often these days, but I have stretched the rules to whenever I stay in a hotel, the first song I listen to in that house, room, suite whatever is ‘Summer Babe’ by Pavement. I don’t have a reason, when I moved into students halls for the first time I plugged my stereo in and the first record out of the box was ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ and I put in on and turned it up. Within ten minutes, my new neighbour had knocked on the door and asked me if I fancied a beer and that he loved Pavement and did I have anything by the Wedding Present. After that it just stuck. These days I normally listen to it on tinny speakers on the laptop but I have this feeling that one day the person in the room next door will knock and say ‘is that pavement?

mp3 : Pavement – Summer Babe (winter version)

Next week – R. but lets have some more letters please




Here’s something else Dick van Dyke posted over at the old place back in June 2009:-

Is it me, or is ‘Friends ReUnited’ (and a hundred sites like it) a vacuous world of eavesdropping and one-upmanship? I mean, why, oh why, would you want anyone to know that you are now “Married (To Tracy) with 2 kids, a lumbering great mortgage and a hamster with terminal alopecia”?

And why pray tell, 20-30 years on, would you wish to be re-united with a ‘friend’ who boasts online (with photos) of his 13 foot dinghy, a Thai bride, and a timeshare in Playas de la Scunthorpe? (Bet he still has the ‘Scwewy Wabbit’ speech impediment though. Hah!) I mean, you thought the bloke was a complete cunto at school, so why would you wish to know of his subsequent adult success in the rowdy revolutionary world of soft furnishings?

Or of Maxine’s … ‘Divorced twice, 5 kids (left home). Now living with Trevor (as if you know him personally) and enjoy weekends at Dump Truck conventions in and around Caerphilly’.

Mildly curious? Christ no…

mp3 : The Jam – Burning Sky*

So anyway, in my worst midnight post-cheese-on-toast nightmare, I can just see me now – meeting up at ye olde Smegma Comprehensive School for their ‘20 Somethingth Anniversary Re-Union Night’. ….

Pissing down with rain on a bleak Tuesday in late February. I deliberately park my 14 year old Nissan Gusto a full 800 yards away. The invite said 7.30, but I thought I’d sneak in unannounced at about 8.15.

Like a prize twat, I Pull instead of Push the heavy front doors. I wonder how I might get back home in time for the 2nd half of the Champions League game on TV. Then I hear Eddie & The Hot Rods from the Disco in the gym … and crack a half smile.

mp3 : Eddie & The Hot Rods – Do Anything You Wanna Do

I was 16 when I last scuffed my shoes through these corridors. I didn’t have a past that could catch up with me. My mind wandered back. ‘You Boy. Keep to the left,’ growls the rampant Deputy Head – Leggy Hargreaves. ‘And tuck your shirt in, you insignificant little wretch’. Funny how the smell of rancid over-cooked cabbage still remains. Even though I still had my ‘life to live’, I recall just how dog-tired I felt with it all even then.

By the cloakroom, I catch my reflection in the glass of a near empty Trophy Cabinet. Belly-bulging Fred Perry over my ‘best’ jeans. Ever expanding forehead shining. Jowls like Deputy Dawg.

“Who the fuck is that?” I ask myself.

I’m collared by ‘Northern IT Guru of The Year 1989’ – Kevin Holdsworth – who is loud and proud and sporting a Devo T-shirt and inane greying goatee.

“I’m still that post-punk science fiction surrealist you know and love” he snorts. A trickle of adhesive saliva stays put in his beard.

“Did you know Basher Briggs was in prison?” Kevin announces.

“Remember how he never paid for his school dinners?” he continued. “Sneaking past dinner lady Doreen on her weaker left side; the side where she’s had the minor stroke and couldn’t see properly?”

“Oh, and remember when he smacked that effeminate lad who dressed as Ziggy Stardust?” Kevin bellows so much, his man-boobs quiver.

“Bust his nose he did. Covered his ginger quiff in blood and snot and purple make-up”.

I see a resplendent Miss Goodyear over by the rack of medicine balls. She was about 26 in 1979 and quite unrecognisable from the portly Molly Sugden figure she now cuts. Did she realise I wonder, just how attractive she was back then? As she flounced around the Art Dept caressing her coffee mug with both hands whilst wearing such unfeasibly tight trousers? Of course she bloody did! The camel toe which launched a thousand wanks. I wonder if she misses that long lost power which she held in the palm of her hand? Do Kate Bush, Agnetha, Debbie Harry et al still miss the teenage boys’ sea of .. adulation?

Evidently, in the year of Our Lord 2009, Miss Goodyear’s spottily cravatted and ‘distinguished’ husband Malcolm is Skipper at the Dewsbury Sailing Club. She says he’s trying to get Brotherhood of Man to perform at the annual Spinnaker Ball. Oh yes, he has contacts y’know; mostly through the KBC – the monthly networking Kidderminster Breakfast Commerce get-together. “And he’s a martyr to his IBS you know”.

“I wonder how he shits in a schooner when caught short?“ I hear myself thinking. Visions of him baring his arse to the choppy lake as his bowels rage are conjured up.

“Sorry, must move on. Work the room ha ha”.

mp3 : The Specials – Do Nothing

Sidle up to the sad fucker who basks openly in his own mediocrity.

“Ey up Colin. How’s yer mum?”

“She died”.

“Oh .. right”.

As I grab a handful of ‘nostalgia inducing’ Monster Munch, I see Sharon across the room. Her once long chestnut hair is now a thinning grey bob. Once bright, sparkling eyes are now dull, bespectacled and moon-stomped by crows. Pert breasts now spaniel-eared and spent. Should I pretend I haven’t seen her? Perhaps she will do the same?

The fact remains that hers was the very first errant hand in my underpants. Nonetheless, I can’t approach her now; not after all these years. Too much water under the bridge of sighs. Or as Sharon would no doubt put it, ‘Too Many Walls have been built in between us.’ I had to wash my own corduroy trousers that night – much to my mother’s puzzlement.

Dignity and embarrassment. Plus ça change ..?

I hear from a heavily tattooed love-god Dave, that 4th Former ex-‘bike’ Tricia Walsh has found Jesus – whilst she was working down at ‘Mr Bubbles’ Launderette. I also heard that Delroy – her skunkweed salesman boyfriend – has ‘found’ Wormwood Scrubs in the meantime. She prays for his rehabilitation. He continues to exchange Crack from the East Wing.

I check my watch as Blue Oyster Cult are introduced to the Steve St. Claire Disco decks. Mike Riley (aka Mavis) tells me that Tanya Wilcocks lost her circus acrobat husband last year in a bizarre trapeze accident. Her face is free from any colour and she visibly carries a wrung-out anger and bitterness which seems to be gnawing at her poor, empty soul. Why, she could crush that glass of Vimto with a single squeeze of her liver-spotted hand. Since the somersault tragedy, he tells me with added relish, she hates God and has rejected all religion.

“Best she keeps away from ex-bike Tricia Walsh and her freshly bashed bible” I whisper, as I sip on my can of warm Skol.

“Still a cynical fucker then, Dick?”

“No mate, not me. … Not me.”

mp3 : Whipping Boy – When We Were Young

*Note from JC : I’ve included the demo version of the song that was made available on the Extras CD from 1992.  It has a sound and feel that seems more appropriate to the posting…