SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 94) (take two)

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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.

Enjoy

 

THE JAMES SINGLES (12)

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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!

THE TRACK MARKS OF MY TEARS

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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)

Enjoy.

EVERYBODY WANTS ONE

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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.

Enjoy

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT….TALK ABOUT POP MUZAK

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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

S-WC

 

SOUNDS SHOWCASE 1

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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

Enjoy!!!

THE MOZ SINGLES (Part 11)

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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!!!!!!).