THE MOZ SINGLES (Part 25)

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Released on 11th December 1995. What I’ve long referred to as the outtakes single.

After Boxers was put out in January 1995, Morrissey was no longer obliged to stay with EMI under whom his albums and singles had been issued on the Parlophone label. He chose to move to RCA where he recorded the critically-savaged Southpaw Grammar, from which were taken the disappointingly selling singles Dagenham Dave and The Boy Racer.

So I’ve no idea what possessed his old record label to shove out Sunny just 14 days after the release of The Boy Racer other than assuming it was out of spite and possibly to try to cash in on folk buying Xmas presents for Morrissey fans . The three tracks dated back at least 18 months and more and quite frankly, are rubbish and the #42 placing was at least 200 places higher than it deserved.

Actually that’s unfair as the single borders on the OK.(and it’s not as bad as Roy’s Keen) But the b-sides really should never have seen the light of day….

mp3 : Morrissey – Sunny
mp3 : Morrissey – Black-Eyed Susan
mp3 : Morrissey – A Swallow On My Neck

Better informed fans have said elsewhere that Sunny was originally intended to be part of the Boxers single, and Black-Eyed Susan was considered but rejected for the flip-side of The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get. No mention is made of the original plan for Swallow…..

Sorry for the dip in quality control. I promise to do better next week.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 106)

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I liked this description of today’s Scottish pop combo:-

“From the ominous shadows of Goth suddenly appeared two young girls in polka-dot dresses, flaming red lipstick, and hair ribbons. Looking like the brides of Robert Smith, Strawberry Switchblade made a brief splash on the U.K. charts and then abruptly vanished in the mid ’80s, leaving their fans with a handful of collectible singles and one LP of deceptively sweet-sounding dance pop.”

Here’s wiki:-

Strawberry Switchblade was a female pop rock/new wave band formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1981 by Jill Bryson and Rose McDowall.

The punk movement expanded rapidly in the United Kingdom in 1976. At the time, Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson were classic Glasgow punks. As the punk rock scene electrified Glasgow in the late ’70s, they were a part of the bohemian art scene who adored the New York Dolls and who followed Scottish punk band Nu-Sonics during their career, with McDowall playing and recording with Paisley punk band The Poems.

Bryson studied for four years at the Glasgow School of Art where she achieved a BA honours degree in mixed media.

As friends, McDowall and Bryson socialised in Glasgow pubs, catching many local bands at the time. One of these bands was Orange Juice, fronted by Edwyn Collins. Members of New Pop and Orange Juice had recorded a live version of “Felicity” as a flexi-disc and intended to release it. A fanzine, to be titled Strawberry Switchblade after a James Kirk song, was planned to promote the flexi-disc but never materialised. The “Felicity” flexi-disc was eventually released in conjunction with the debut Orange Juice single, “Falling and Laughing”. McDowall and Bryson adopted the fanzine title as their band name.

Strawberry Switchblade played at a John Peel gig in Scotland, and he invited them to record a session for his BBC Radio 1 show in October 1982.They also recorded a session for David Jensen’s Radio 1 show three days later. On both sessions the band were augmented by James Kirk from Orange Juice on bass and Shahid Sarwar from The Recognitions on drums.

The sessions were heard by Bill Drummond (a Scottish musician who went on to form The KLF) and David Balfe, respectively manager and keyboard player with the recently defunct The Teardrop Explodes, who became the group’s managers.

The band’s first single, “Trees and Flowers”, was released in July 1983 through 92 Happy Customers, an independent record label run by Will Sergeant from Echo & The Bunnymen,and sold over 10,000 copies. It was featured at number 47 in John Peel’s 1983 Festive 50. “Trees and Flowers” was written by Bryson about her medical condition agoraphobia.

Drummond signed the band to Warner Music Group subsidiary Korova in 1983. They got a full backing band with whom they toured and began recording an album with producer Robin Millar. However, at the record company’s behest, they reverted to the duo of Bryson and McDowall and for production duties they hired David Motion, who would soon go on to produce hits for Red Box.

In late 1984 their second single, “Since Yesterday”, was released. Having been given a large marketing push over the festive period, it became a UK top ten hit in early 1985, peaking at number 5, and also met with success in Europe and Japan.

Their cover version of “Sunday Morning” (originally by Velvet Underground) was released as an extra track on the 12″ of “Since Yesterday”. It was not included on any of the Strawberry Switchblade albums.

The track’s opening fanfare came from Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5, which had also featured prominently in the coda section of the earlier hit “Beach Baby” by The First Class. The band’s’ strikingly contrasting black and white wardrobe, including the polka dot rah-rah skirts worn for the sleeve of “Since Yesterday”, attracted coverage at the time. Their somewhat ‘gothic’ appearance was also of note.

In March 1985 they released their next single, “Let Her Go”, a tune in a similar vein to “Since Yesterday”.

Following the release of their eponymous album in April, in May 1985 they released a further single, the ballad “Who Knows What Love Is”,[6] one of two tracks on the album produced by Phil Thornally of The Cure.

Their fifth single, an electro-pop cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, was issued in September 1985 in the UK and Japan.

Although their commercial success had waned in the UK they remained popular in Japan and two later singles, “Ecstasy (Apple of My Eye)” and “I Can Feel”, were only issued in that country.The second of these only featured McDowall as by this time the partnership had irreparably fractured. By early 1986, the group had disbanded.

In December 2005, Warner Bros. Platinum Records released a career retrospective of the band, made up of sixteen different tracks from various recordings on one compact disc.

And here’s the 7″ version of the hit single with the bonus 12″ track:-

mp3 : Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday
mp3 : Strawberry Switchblade – By The Sea
mp3 : Strawberry Switchblade – Sunday Morning

I really do love their quite gorgeous take on Sunday Morning.

Enjoy

TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT….

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…. this is a cracking bit of pop music.

mp3 : Spandau Ballet – The Freeze

While making my way through Mad World (see yesterday’s posting),  I got to the chapter on Spandau Ballet which sadly concentrated on the slushy hit single True as it is the song they are best known for over in the States.  But reading it did lead me to dig out my copy of the band’s debut LP Journeys to Glory and give it a spin for the first time in gawd knows how many years. Which is where I realised just how great a song The Freeze is.

It was the second single lifted from the LP, reaching #17 back in early 1981.

The band did of course go onto to become one of the most dull and bland outfits of the 80s and a song like The Freeze is a long way removed from the sort of sounds they are more associated with.  I reckon that if they had broken up on the back of the debut LP then many a modern day hipster would be proclaiming it, and especially this track, as one of the great influencing records of the era.

I can recall a remix version of this song getting played a lot in the sorts of Glasgow discos that I frequented among other great electronic-pop tracks of the day by the likes of OMD, Soft Cell, Simple Minds, Heaven 17, Yazoo, Associates, Human League and Magazine. Turns out it was the b-side of the 12″ and I’ve managed to procure a copy via fishing around on t’internet:-

mp3 : Spandau Ballet – The Freeze (version)

Enjoy.

MAD WORLD

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One of the 45s featured in the regular Saturday series on great Scottish singles was this:-

mp3 : April Showers – Abandon Ship

Released to almost complete indifference in 1984, it really is one of the great lost singles of the era.  April Showers was a short-lived Glaswegian pop duo comprising Jonathan Bernstein and Beatrice Colin.

I’m a huge fan of this song. It was the only piece of music the band got round to releasing (other than the b-side!!) . Today is probably now the fifth time I’ve made it available as an mp3 over the past eight years. I was amazed that a few weeks ago the very same Jonathan Bernstein dropped me an e-mail, thanking me for the kind words and asking if I’d be interested in having a read of a book that he had co-authored and which was due for publication in the UK later in the year.

How could I say no?

The 300+ page book in question is called Mad World : An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that defined the 1980s. And it’s very very good……

Jonathan moved to Los Angeles quite a few years ago and is nowadays more widely known thanks to his exploits as a movie screenwriter, author an occasional contributor to magazines and newspapers.  For this particular project he has  hooked up with Lori Majewski, herself a successful music and entertainment writer.

Th authors were inspired to write the book came about after they both read an interview with a well-known 80s musician from the UK in which he had discussed the inspiration, writing and recording of the song, as well as its reception and place in pop history.  If it could be done for this particular song then why not for others which had made such an impact on them as music fans?

Each of the 36 individual chapters begins with an introductory paragraph which puts the artist and song into a broader context – where and how they fit with the rest of the 80s and perhaps any enduring influence they have had on music all these years later. Each of the authors then offer very short pieces expressing their own views on the song or the artist before the pages are turned over to those who matter most – the musicians. This is where the excellent writing skills and styles of the authors shine through – all of the interviews were carried out face-to-face or by e-mail in the classic Q&A style, but they appear on paper as superbly written monologues.

This leads to a consistently entertaining read – no single musician comes across as a pretentious prat nor do the authors leave anyone hanging out to dry (although it should be pointed out that some of the tales highlight how different musicians in the same band see things from different perspectives and you have to draw your own conclusion as to which is the truth and which version is fabricated…..)

It is a book written initially for an American market and so the songs and bands featured will have had to enjoyed a bit of success over there for it to make commercial sense. As such, there’s a number of songs in the book that I am no fan of – and a couple that I’ve never even heard of – but at no time did I feel like ever skipping any of the chapters.

The title is also a wee bit misleading for the songs featured were released between 1978 and 1985, an era which the authors unashamedly say was the Last Golden Age Of Pop. So there’s a lot of great music from the decade missing from the book but those of you with a bent towards great indie or electronic pop will particularly enjoy the chapters on New Order, ABC, Echo & The Bunnymen, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Normal, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Joy Division, OMD and The Smiths among many others.

What I particularly enjoyed was the authors abilities to look at the 80s in a way which is warts and all and come to the conclusion that it was a time far preferable to nowadays when any semblance of individuality is ridiculed on TV ‘talent’ shows or is then removed by such bland, dull and ultra safe production values designed to appeal to the biggest common denominator.

“Were the artists ridiculous? Was the music overproduced? Was the influence of Bowie ubiquitous to the point of being suffocating? Guilty on all accounts. But it was also an era of imagination, vaulting ambition and incredibly memorable songs.

Mock and ridicule the excesses of the 80s if you want, but don’t try and deny that the stars of the era had personality. They may have been pretentious, pompous and absurd, but it was their own pretension, pomposity and absurdity. They didn’t have to bow their heads and nervously wait for the approval of a jaded record executive on a judging panel. Love or hate them they were their own glorious creations.”

The other great strength of the book is the diverse backgrounds of the two authors.

Majewski is an American who was a teenage music fan in the period concerned with an undiminished passion and love for the likes of Duran Duran and Adam Ant but a huge appreciation of what makes a great indie song – she’s the contributor who likes The Smiths and is not ashamed to admit that she knew nothing of Joy Division until she checked out the original version of the song covered by Paul Young; Bernstein is Scottish, older and, thanks to April Showers, a participant in the era. He claims he is too sour by nature, too uptight and suspicious of emotion to declare himself a fan of anybody, but this enables him to take a dispassionate approach to each singer or band and articulate just how he feels they are worthy of a place in the book – except in the chapter on The Smiths where he simply says ‘Not A Fan’.  But I’m willing to forgive this for all of his other contributions – in particular his words on Simple Minds – where he captures perfectly how all of us who had grown up with them in Glasgow were feeling as they took the USA by storm.

Together they have cooked-up a really good read. One which can be enjoyed in bite-size chunks or devoured ferociously in a single serving….either way it won’t come back on you and leave feeling queasy. Indeed, I suspect it will leave you longing for further servings.

Mad World has been well received by critics and fans alike since its publication in the States back in April. UK readers can pick pre-order copies on-line in advance of its release date next week on Monday 1 September from when It will hopefully be available in all good book stores.

Here’s one of the songs featured in the book in its full extended nine minute plus glory:-

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon (all night version)

Enjoy

MAD WORLD by LORI MAJEWSKI and JONATHAN BERNSTEIN

Published by Abrams & Chronicle Books

320 pages : RRP : £12.99

 

HANG THE DJ

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From wiki:-

In 2007, the song was re-composed as “Stop Me” with additional lyrics from the song “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes by British DJ Mark Ronson using the voice of Daniel Merriweather as the lead. Merriweather admitted in an interview with The Guardian that he was not very familiar with “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One” before he recorded Mark Ronson’s revised version. He explained: “Mark said, ‘I want you to sing on this – it’s my favourite Smiths song,’ so I listened to it. I’d heard it once before, but I was never a Smiths fan. But I thought it was beautiful.”

The song was later released as a single on 2 April 2007 on Columbia Records with the shortened name “Stop Me”, and featured on the compilation album Version. The music video, released at the same time as the song, features a man who finds a pair of trainers that control him and force him to run along the motorway near the Blackwall Tunnel. This version was released in the United Kingdom. The international version featured people crying animated tears, causing some small floods. Live versions such as Mark Ronson / Stu Zender featuring Merriweather—”Stop Me” (Conan O’Brien, NBC, 12 July 2007) have been televised, among others (BBC Radio 1, Jimmy Kimmel Live!).

The single reached number two in the UK Singles Chart, number one in the UK Download Chart and gained considerable praise and reference, as well as controversy from loyal Smiths fans despite its chart success being the highest ever UK chart position for a Smiths song.

The music review site ThisisfakeDIY gave the single a 5-star rating, citing that its popularity stemmed from its abstraction from a typical Smiths song, resembling a “sweeping, orchestral pop song with horns to boot … soulful, evocative vocals … a stirring mix”. This song was number 80 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.

It received a mixed review from musicOMH reviewer, Jenny Cole who remarked that the notion of “discoing up a Smiths track” was a “travesty”, and queried that “Morrissey would no doubt hate the idea of someone who has previously worked with Christina Aguilera and Robbie Williams” re-composing his songs. However, despite such reservations, the reviewer remarked that despite its composition “in a mad way it works … Electronic, cheery and danceable, it’s really not half bad” but that the addition of The Supremes to the song was “just mad”.

A slightly shorter edited version (where the lyrics start at the first verse) was released to mainstream radio in October 2007. A remix by Kissy Sell Out features on Ministry of Sound 2008 compilation The Annual. Trance DJ Paul Oakenfold also remixed the song exclusively for his 2007 compilation album Greatest Hits & Remixes. After the win and performance of Ronson at the 2008 edition of the Brit Awards, “Stop Me” climbed as high as number 31 on the iTunes Top 100 and re-entered the UK Top 75 Singles chart at number 51. The song featured prominently in the opening scenes of the premiere of the second half of Nip/Tuck’s fifth season. The song featured on the 2013 show reel for Seattle-based b-boy crew, Art of Movement, uploaded by Korean-American singer and member of the crew, Jay Park.

The single also includes a cover version of Queens of the Stone Age’s “No One Knows” with vocals by Domino Kirke.

mp3 : Mark Ronson – Stop Me feat Daniel Merriweather
mp3 : Mark Ronson – Stop Me feat Daniel Merriweather (A Chicken Lips Malfunction)
mp3 : Mark Ronson – Stop Me feat Daniel Merriweather (Dirty South Remix)
mp3 : Mark Ronson – No One Knows feat. Domino

I actually think, having listened to the QoTSA cover that Moz and Johnny actually got off lightly.

FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW

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I was very pleasantly surprised when I returned the Fun Lovin’ Criminal CD singles to their place on the shelves to discover right next to them was a sole CD single by Funkadelic.

I have no recollection of buying this…the sticker on the from says £1.99 and it was released as a 4-track single in 1996 on Charly Records.

I know what I bought it..it was a replacement in effect for the original 7″ version that I used to own. That’s right…in the middle of going crazy for punk/new wave I was still willing to hand over money for some great disco music. OK, One Nation Under A Groove is more funk than disco, but to the untutored ears of a 14-15 year old back then anything with a great bass line that forced the hips to be gyrated was disco. And it didn’t suck.

The single that I used to own had, from memory, Parts 1 and 2 on either side. I’m also sure it was just the extended full length version spliced into two just to make if fit into a 7″ bit of black vinyl. Here’s the first two tracks on the CD single:-

mp3 : Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove (Original Radio Version)
mp3 : Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove (Original Full Length Version)

So I think I’m on safe ground to say that the former would have been Part 1 of my 1978 single and the latter the LP version.

I have no idea why the single was re-released in 1996. Perhaps it was used in some sort of TV advert that has made no impact on me but maybe it was just that some smart-ass DJ thought it was time to give this 70s classic a 90s makeover as there were two ’96 versions on the CD. Which brings me to these abominations:-

mp3 : Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove ’96 (The Craig Nathan Nation Mix)
mp3 : Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove ’96 (The K.D. Radio Edit)

I’d never played this until a few minutes ago when I decided to put the single onto the blog – as I say I had no idea I had it in the collection. I will never play them again. They have already been deleted from the tens of thousands of mp3s on the PC. Possibly one of the biggest abominations of a great song ever inflicted on mankind. Talking of which….tune into tomorrow as I’ve now got a nice lead into something I’ve been meaning to post for the past six months but could never quite bring myself to inflict upon y’all.

THE TARANTINO EFFECT

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Fun Lovin’ Criminals first came to prominence on the back of a single which sampled dialogue from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction:-

mp3 : Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Scooby Snacks

Both films had been huge hits, turning a previously unknown scriptwriter and director called Quentin Tarantino into the hottest name in Hollywood. Notwithstanding that the radio versions had to be heavily edited, it was a great ploy by FLC to incorporate the dialogue into a hip hop/rock/pop hybrid that was made catchy thanks to a guitar riff (also sampled!!).

It’s perhaps debatable whether or not FLC would have gotten any sort of prominence without Scooby Snacks as much of their other material at the time was no different or better than other similar acts who were fusing hip hop and rock. What it did do however, was give a platform to frontman Huey Morgan, whose natural wit, charm and sense of humour and easy-going interview technique saw him become a regular on many a TV chat/entertainment show here in the UK. That and the fact that the band gigged relentlessly across Europe, particularly becoming a mainstay of the outdoor festival circuit (where pissed-up audiences would have a great time dancing and singing along to Scooby Snacks) saw the band gain a decent following without ever becoming truly big stars.

One of the things that some folk found enduring was the easy-listening style of the cover versions they occasionally threw out there along with what they themselves described as the ‘schmoove’ versions of their own songs. I was never all that convinced but I’ll leave it you dear listeners to see what you think of these:-

mp3 : Fun Lovin’ Criminals – The Summer Wind
mp3 : Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Scooby Snacks (Schmoove Version)

The former is a 60s number made popular by Frank Sinatra.  What makes the FLC version of interest to the things that normally feature on this blog is the guest vocal from Ian McCulloch.

The latter was the b-side to yet another easy-going cover:-

mp3 : Fun Lovin Criminals – I’m Not In Love

Enjoy…if only for the fact this is an unusual posting at this joint.

THE MOZ SINGLES (Part 24)

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Today’s offering is the third single lifted from the 2006 LP Ringleader of The Tormentors.

Morrissey was riding the crest of a critical wave on back of the album as well as gaining loads of kudos for a UK tour that had taken him to loads of smaller venues in towns that rarely attracted any decent live gigs (e.g. Greenock, Grimsby, Halifax, Whitehaven, Blackburn, Truro, Cheltenham, King’s Lynn). The goodwill extended to his fans who bought enough copies of the single to take it to #17 in the charts.

I was personally surprised that this was released as a single. I’m not arguing that it’s a dull or boring song, but it wasn’t one of the stand-out tracks on the LP by any stretch of the imagination. The opening 20 seconds or so remind of songs by T Rex and Oasis, and I suppose I can never really get those thoughts out of my head as it unravels itself over the next three and a bit minutes…but it is, on reflection, the sort of track that would sound reasonable enough when coming over the radio airwaves.

mp3 : Morrissey – In The Future When All’s Well
mp3 : Morrissey – I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero Now (live)
mp3 : Morrissey – To Me You Are A Work Of Art (live)

The two live tracks are Ringleader tracks that were recorded on Sunday 28th May 2006 at the London Palladium on what was the last night the UK tour (Morrissey, in a tribute to an old TV variety show had played three Sunday Nights at The London Palladium during May). They’re actually quite good versions of the tracks…..Morrissey is in very good voice while his backing band stick to faithful reproductions….

There was also one new track is one that I think deserved a place on the album itself rather than being thrown away on a b-side….but then again this outstanding tribute to the French fashion designer is probably the reason so many of us bought the actual single:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Christian Dior

Oh and I also love the sleeve on this one. I’m sure I had a jacket exactly like that when I was about 12 years of age….and I certainly would have had an ice cream like that when I was that age….

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 105)

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From wiki:-

Spirea X were an alternative rock band from Glasgow, Scotland, formed by Primal Scream founding member Jim Beattie in 1990.

After six years in the band, Jim Beattie left Primal Scream in 1988.

Two years later he formed Spirea X, the name taken from a Primal Scream b-side (an instrumental track that he had written), announcing “We’re going to do it…by having better songs, better melodies, better arrangements, better everything. By sheer force of ideas”.

The band’s first demo prompted 4AD to sign them, their first release eagerly anticipated, with BBC 2’s Snub TV featuring an interview with them and a couple of live tracks before they had released a single. The band’s original bass player and guitarist (The McGovern brothers) soon left, with guitarist Robert forming cult underground Glasgow indie punk band Dresden and his bass playing brother Tony becoming a well established member of Glasgow band Texas. Jamie O’Donnell and Thomas McGurk joining Beattie, his girlfriend Judith Boyle, and Andy Kerr in 1991.

Debut EP Chlorine Dream was released in April 1991, the title track inspired by the life of Brian Jones. This was followed up by “Speed Reaction” and the album Fireblade Skies (the name taken from a volume of Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry), both in 1991. Fireblade Skies met with positive critical reaction, Lime Lizard’s Nick Terry stating: “If Jim Beattie’s last longplaying endeavour, Primal Scream’s Sonic Flower Groove, was a thoroughly flawed masterpiece, he’s found his groove with Fireblade Skies”.

Beattie was known for his self-confidence, verging on arrogance, once proclaiming himself to be God, and stating “David Icke is my bestest friend”, later saying “Yeah, I thought I was God before, but now I feel more like Jesus”. Beattie rejected comparisons with other bands of the era, stating “I don’t think we fit in anywhere, really”, and “I don’t think we’re egotistical like Ride are. I don’t need to be egotistical, because I’ve got the music to back it up”.

The band was subsequently reduced to a duo of Beattie and Boyle, and were dropped by 4AD in 1992, the band splitting the following year.

Beattie and Boyle resurfaced in 1994 with a new band, Adventures in Stereo.

This, if you haven’t heard it before, is a cracking single with two hugely enjoyable b-sides:-

mp3 : Spirea X – Chlorine Dream
mp3 : Spirea X – Spirea Rising
mp3 : Spirea X – Risk

Enjoy

 

THIS NATION’S SAVING GRACE

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Today’s blast from the past is from away back in December 2006.  It was just 10 weeks or so after I’d started the blog. I’ve included it as a way of showing just quickly things can change….see sentence now marked with **

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Last week it was Morrissey who made a long-overdue debut on the blog. This week it is the band dominated by the mercurial, (isn’t that always the adjective that you have to apply?), talents of Mark E. Smith.

I’m referring of course to The Fall.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t someone who loved this band from the outset. I did hear them on John Peel time after time, but I didn’t quite ‘get it.’ And things weren’t helped by my first live experience of the band back in late 1982 (it might have been early 83) at Night Moves in Glasgow.

I’d gone along to see the Cocteau Twins but stayed on to watch the main act, which turned out to be The Fall. It was a pretty poor gig – the sound was all over the place and the band were not even talking to one another far less having any communication with the audience. Thankfully, it turned out to be a short event (maybe 30 mins at the most), and then there was an hour or so of ‘indie-disco’ to send everyone home in a good mood.

So I more or less ignored them for a while. But a couple of years later, a move to a new record label – and a crucial change in personnel – led to the release of a run of records that were easier to listen to, and to the horror of the hip-priests, The Fall got radio-friendly with a broader appeal. I started paying attention again.

With a recording history going back almost 30 years, featuring dozens of singles, EPs and albums, there’s plenty to choose from. But I’m sticking with a song that has turned into something quite personal in recent years.

** I’ve been lucky in that almost all of my close friends are still alive. But there is one who passed away a couple of years ago after a long illness, and I do think of him every now and again. Especially at this time of year.

This is for AGF. And while he would have abhorred The Fall – he was a classical music buff – he would have been very amused that there is a song out there that makes me think of him every time I hear it.

mp3 : The Fall – Edinburgh Man

It’s a 1991 release, originally on the LP Shift-Work. It’s also available on a multitude of compilations, but surprisingly not on 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong – 39 Golden Greats which is pretty much indispensable.

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2014 Update.

I’ve since lost a number of close friends and a brother, all in tragic circumstances and all of whom were taken too early. I’ve also got to know someone who lost a child at a horribly young age after the bravest of battles against a horrible form of cancer and right now I’ve got another mate who is terminally ill but is making sure his final days are memorable in so many ways for so many people.

I’ve also heard and lots of other sad and distressing tales since that original posting above which have made me realise just how lucky I was in the first 43 years of my life to have been more or less untouched by tragedy.

As I say, much has happened this past eight years or so and I’ve no doubt that much more pain and heartache is still to come  – some might think that’s a bit doom-laden but it’s actually laced with realism as both my elderly parents are still alive and as I type keeping excellent health all things considered.  What I can say is that when things have been difficult, then I’ve taken great strength from the help and support offered so willingly by my friends electric.  Thank you one and all.

I can’t possibly finish on that downbeat note…here’s another great MES track…a cover of a Kinks classic and it’s especially for my great mate ctel!!

mp3 : The Fall – Victoria

Enjoy.

 

 

 

TWO GREAT COVERS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

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I’ll often defend Franz Ferdinand if anyone ever has a go at them. For one thing, their 2004 self-titled debut LP remains an excellent and consistent piece of work which deservedly made them not just media darlings but hugely popular with the record-buying public.

But the other thing that I loved about them at that time was their decision to record and release a limited edition 7″ single with Fire Engines, a great Scottish band from the 80s that I have been known to rave about over at the old blog.

It would have been quite easy for Franz Ferdinand to have simply paid lip service to the debt they owed Fire Engines for the spiky guitar sound that they do so well. But instead, they chose to bring a long overlooked act to the wider attention of the public with this particular collaboration which saw a hugely popular FF song covered by FE, and a much-neglected and wonderful FE song given the FF treatment:-

mp3 : Franz Ferdinand – Get Up And Use Me
mp3 : Fire Engines – Jacqueline

The single was never intended for general sale, but was available to buy at two gigs in December 1994 when Fire Engines opened for Franz Ferdinand. Sadly, it was a gesture not appreciated by the mob as this review from the time indicates:-

At the first of two hometown gigs to cap their annus mirabilis, they invited their favourite Scottish pop band of yore, The Fire Engines, to reform once more for the occasion. The Edinburgh post-punkers’ set flew right over most of the crowd members’ heads, so plastic beer glasses flew over the band members’ heads.

After a customarily pithy set, dedicated to John Peel “and anyone else who’s dead”, The Fire Engines departed to a chorus of boos, but to the core faithful, the spiky fuzz of Get Up And Use Me, the madly danceable New Things In Cartons and the almost conventionally melodic Meat Whiplash were still a buzz 25 years on.

The thing is, knowing how frontman Davey Henderson’s mind works, he’d have been rather pleased to have got such a reaction from such a mainstream audience….I don’t think he could have coped with being cheered off stage.  I was quite sad and disappointed that I couldn’t get a ticket as I’d have willingly risked injury going down the front and dancing away to the old guys and just as sadly, missing the gig meant I couldn’t get my hands on the tour single.  But then again I wouldn’t have enjoyed the thrill and excitement of seeing a copy for just £3 in a charity shop.

Oh and here’s yer originals:-

mp3 : Fire Engines – Get Up And Use Me
mp3 : Franz Ferdinand – Jacqueline

That’s why they only work when they need the money.

TWO GREAT SINGLES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

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These would be coming up in the not too distant future as I make my alphabetical way through Great Scottish singles that have a place in the vinyl cupboard or on the CD shelves, but they’re just too good not to share with you right now. As I explained in April 2012:-

The majestic noise made by Win on the June 1985 single You’ve Got The Power didn’t generate any chart success. But it was a song that became more widely known months after its release thanks to it soundtracking a very peculiar advert for a rather vile brand of Scottish lager.

When Win moved across to London Records after Swamplands had come to an inglorious end, the powers that be at the label, having been left bemused by the failure of previous 45 Shampoo Tears to trouble the charts, decided that the follow-up 45 should have an enticement. And so when they got round to issuing Super Popoid Groove in March 1987, they decided it would be as a 2-record gate fold pack featuring copies of You’ve Got The Power, complete with Swamplands logo and catalogue number.

mp3 : Win – Super Popoid Groove
mp3 : Win – Baby Cutting
mp3 : Win – You’ve Got The Power
mp3 : Win – In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)

It helped the single reach #63. I’m sure everyone was gutted. Super Popoid Groove itself was a single that deserved to get the band on Top of The Pops. It must have been painful to realise that you couldn’t even give away copies of the old 45.

Chewing gum baby for the ears.

Happy Listening.

IF YOU CAN’T LAUGH AT YOURSELF….

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I thought that with it being Tuesday, traditionally the day of guest postings, that I’d fish something out from a series back in May 2009 when more than 40 folk responded positively to my request for such postings so that I could enjoy a wee break from blogging duties while I went on holiday.

This made me smile at the time…and it still does. It doesn’t do well if you take life seriously all the time….

The Vinyl Villain’s Favourite Songs Part 478.5

Quick, nobody’s looking. Go on, hurry up, that window’s open. In you go.

Ow! Mind your feet, that bloody hurt. OK, we’re in. Lets have a quick look around. Ah, here we go, it’s like Santa’s Grotto in here. If Santa was a Smiths fan that is. Blimey. Two life size cardboard Morrisseys. That’s a little scary. What’s that? Morrissey’s pants? Put em down.

Now, there’s got to be something here that we can use against him. Those gits up at the Record Company need something on him, something he won’t want made public. That way if dares to speak up against em again they’ll have him in their pockets.

But it’s all good, he’s not hiding anything. Whatever you see on the Vinyl Villain, well that’s him. Damn. I thought this was going to be easy money. Oi! Watch where you step, I don’t want anything…..broken…..oh you berk!! Twat! I told you to watch out. You’re a real clumsy idiot. If you weren’t family I’d throw you through that bloody window. Hold on. What’s this? It’s a false wall. Hold that torch a little higher. No, not in my face you mug, through that hole in the wall you’ve made. That’s it.

Heh. Well, look at this. Paydirt! Eurovision 1981. It’s a bloody shrine!! Look at those posters. Hey, wait a minute, isn’t that? It is, it’s the original costumes. Ergh, those stains look a bit dodgy. Well, who would have thought it eh? Bucks Bloody Fizz. Look at this, he’s got posters, annuals, calendars. There’s picture discs and everything. I got to admit though, I can remember watching those skirts coming off back in 81. Those girls were a bit tasty. Look, he’s got photos taken with them!!! Even the blokes! Yup, keep that light up, I’m going to take photos of this, we’ve got him now!! The proof we wanted, the Vinyl Villain loves Bucks Fizz!!

Still can you blame him? They were the British ABBA. Without the advantage of being Swedish. Yeh, I know, one of em was a Cockney. And the blokes had dodgy haircuts. Like David Cassidy both of em. But still. The skirts. And some tidy little singles. You think I’m joking? Here, hold the crowbar, I’ll put a couple on. OK, there’s Land Of Make Believe, which will always be the sound of Christmas 1981 for me. Pretty much the last Christmas as a kid before the teenage hormones kicked in properly. But still there were the skirts. I suspect they helped speed up puberty. Listen to those Christmassy bells. Lovely stuff. “he came today, but had to go, to visit you? You’ll never know”…that scared my little sister stupid!

And then spring 1982. An absolute classic time for British pop, all shiny and brightly coloured, ABC, Human League, Soft Cell, Associates, Dollar. And in amongst it all, My Camera Never Lies, with it’s opening dreamy ‘click click’ stuff, then the jerky guitar riff that was made for that 80s dancing.

What? Oh yeah, all the girly backing vocals back then sounded like that, funny accents and all. You should listen to Toto Coelo. Ah, it’s the click click middle bit. Now listen to this, all drums and the girls doing strange vocals again, I want to dance in a silly jerky fashion now! “My camera has good eyes” I had such a crush on those two girls…what did I say that out loud? Oi, why is the light on your tape recorder red? Turn that off you dozy idiot, now!! Oi come back here!!!

mp3 : Bucks Fizz – The Land Of Make Believe
mp3 : Bucks Fizz – My Camera Never Lies

It was courtesy of Simon….whose now semi-retired blog, The Songs That People Sing, can be found here.

NO KIDDING…THIS LOT WERE SERIOUSLY GOOD

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Having listened to a bit of their stuff on the i-pod on the way to work the other day, I felt like putting together a post about The Pretenders. Once again though, this is something done previously on the old blog and so its a cut n paste job from the small number of the 2,500+ postings that I’ve managed to retrieve and store. This is from January 2013:-

The cover of the NME from 18 October 1980 featuring James Honeyman-Scott and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders – those were the days my friends when being on the cover of that paper meant something.

The thing is, James and Chrissie were on the cover despite not really having anything to promote, but obviously were of such interest and significance that they were seen as liable to attract additional readers that week.

They’re are a band that not too many bloggers seem to write about, certainly compared to many of their contemporaries, and I’m certainly guilty of neglecting them over the years at TVV. But over the festive period I gave listen to their Greatest Hits CD for the first time in years and realised that I’d forgotten just how great their earliest releases really were.

Stop Your Sobbing – a cover of a Kinks song that spent nine weeks on the chart between February and April 1979, peaking at #34

Kid – one of THE great records of a great year for music; it spent seven weeks on the chart in July and August 1979, peaking at #33

Brass In Pocket – the #1 hit that brought them to the attention of a wider public. Seventeen weeks on the chart between November 1979 and April 1980

Talk Of The Town – held back until Brass In Pocket slipped off the radar, eight weeks on the chart in April and May 1980, peaking at #8

Message Of Love – the comeback single after a period out of the spotlight. Seven weeks on the chart in February and March 1981, peaking at #11

Some of you might only know the band only through Brass In Pocket or the later radio-friendly rubbish like Don’t Get Me Wrong or the perennial Xmas effort 2000 Miles. It’s hard to imagine that previously, The Pretenders had been a more than half-decent band. But then again, that was before the deaths of two of the four founding members….

mp3 : The Pretenders – Stop Your Sobbing
mp3 : The Pretenders – Kid
mp3 : The Pretenders – Talk Of The Town
mp3 : The Pretenders – Message Of Love

Having taken the lazyish approach with The Pretenders, I’ve decided in fact that the remainder of this week will consist of old cut n paste stuff…..sorry about that if you’re a reader from the golden and olden days but hopefully those of you who are new and never saw much of the old blog will find stuff to enjoy.

THE MOZ SINGLES (Part 23)

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After last week’s near centrefold of the great man, there really could only be one song selected today:-

mp3 : Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

This was his third solo single, and was released at the end of January 1989. It was a track that got a lot of radio play and fared well in the charts, hitting the giddy heights of #6.

In the humble opinion of this particular fan, this is one of the best-ever Morrissey singles. Produced by Stephen Street (who also plays keyboards), it has the benefit of having Andy Rourke on bass and Mike Joyce on drums, as well as Craig Gannon on guitar, which makes it as near a Smiths reunion as you can get sans Johnny. (Incidentally, the other guitarist on the record is Neil Taylor, who lists Morrissey alongside Tears For Fears, Natalie Imbruglia, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, The Pretenders, Van Morrison, Holly Johnson, Paul Young, Climie Fisher and Robbie Williams as the acts he has played guitar for over the years…..)

On first listen it seems nothing more than a homage to the 1960s East End gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray (who were immortalised on-screen by none other than Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet). But it is also a lyric that links to The Playboy of The Western World a play that caused great controversy when first performed back in 1907….

The anti-Morrissey brigade had a field day when this single emerged, accusing him of glorifying gangsters and violence, when in fact it was an ironic comment on the media’s continual obsession with the twins. And while it is rumoured that Morrissey sent a wreath to Ronnie Kray’s funeral in 1995, I’m sure that this is nothing more than an urban myth, or at worst an ill-conceived media stunt…..

Here’s your rather enjoyable b-sides, neither of which were made available elsewhere:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Lucky Lisp
mp3 : Morrissey – Michael’s Bones

Incidentally, the cover star is Morrissey himself as it is a family photo taken of him at the age of 7 as he climbed a tree (a case of a boy at play……)

Oh and I played a big part in getting the song to such a high chart placing as I bought the CD and cassette versions (and have since picked up the 12″ version)

Enjoy