SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #1 : A.C. ACOUSTICS

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AC Acoustics formed in Glasgow in the early 90s. Wiki mentions that they were heavily inspired by The Jesus and Mary Chain – blending white noise with early Pavement-style experimentation and, on occasion, augmenting their two guitar, bass and drums instrumentation with saxophones and violins.

They released a total of eight singles and four albums between 1992 and 2002, with the most critically acclaimed – Understanding Music – released originally in 2000 enjoying a re-release a full decade later.

Despite never obtaining much commercial success, they were well liked by many of their better known peers in the industry and toured as the opening act for the likes of PJ Harvey, Spacemen 3, Embrace, Stereophonics and Placebo.

I’ve only one of their tracks. It appeared on 22-track compilation CD entitled Park Lane Archives released in 2009 that brought together songs (mostly in demo version but some otherwise never previously released) that had been recorded in a Glasgow studio, located as you might have guessed, in Park Lane which is not all that far from Villain Towers.

mp3 : a.c.acoustics – Bluff Drive By

This was one of the previously unreleased tracks.  It reminds me very much of Pavement. It also comes to a very abrupt and unexpected ending.

Enjoy

 

BILLY MACKENZIE RARITIES…COURTESY OF SID LAW (5)

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After being dropped by Warners in 1988, Billy quickly put some demos together with Blair Booth and Philip Erb (who he had recorded “Cinemas Of the World” with) and secured a deal with Virgin subsidiary Circa. The result was 1990’s “Wild And Lonely” a record much maligned by many Associates and MacKenzie fans. There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is that while the rest of the UK had romped through the 2nd Summer of Love in 1988 and two years later Acid House, House, Hip-Hop and sample-tastic dance music was filling the charts, “Wild And Lonely” had been produced by Julian Mendelsohn and it sounded slick and well – a bit like 1986. “Wild” and “Lonely” were two of Billy’s Whippets by the way…

My favourite track from this era is a B-side track from the single “Fire To Ice” called “The Glamour Chase” – an Abba-like paean to lost hope, shattered dreams and dented pride. The song refers to the ditched Warners album, Billy’s stalled career and the cost of the quest for fame (“Quality knows what is insincere/ All is not what it seems to appear/ Searching for what in this emptiness/ Why all this sudden need to impress/ Why must we always think we know best/ Knowing you’re wanting a part of me/ Only protects that same part of me”).

mp3 : Associates – The Glamour Chase

Billy insisted the track was included on the UK version of the “Wild And Lonely” CD and it was the only track on the album which Julian Mendelsohn didn’t produce. Billy produced it.

Sid Law

JC adds (in August 2015)….

The marvellous illustration above is the work of Stuart Murray, but I only discovered this many months later via the comments section.

It was done by Stuart me for a book called The Great Scots Musicography in 2003 (a tome from which I draw much of the info that subsequently appears in postings), and Stuart says it was one of his favourites for the book. You can check out more recent work of his at http://www.thefolkyebumpintae.wordpress.com

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS

johnny_cash_-_johnny_cash_greatest_hitsFrom April 2007:-

There’s loads been written about The Man In Black, including a waft of biographies, some better than others. There’s even been an Oscar-winning movie about part of his life. So I don’t really need to go into too much detail.

Johnny Cash lived from 1932 until 2003. His recording career had many ups and downs over the best part of half-a-century, and it’s estimated he sold in excess of 50 million albums. He was something of a pioneer – being one of the first artists to break down barriers between country music and pop music, dressing like a goth (sans white-face make-up tho’) decades before the genre was invented and patenting the fast-living, carefree drink and drugs lifestyle that other such as Keith Richards have since blazed. He was as well known and as popular by the time of his death as he was at the peak of his career some 30 years previously.

He made films and had his own networked TV show. He recorded songs with hundreds of other artists and was part of a touring ‘supergroup’.

In short, he did everything you could imagine in the life and times of a successful and charismatic musician.

I grew up with the sounds of Johnny Cash in the 60s and early 70s, sometimes in my own house, but most often when I visited and stayed over with an aunt and uncle who seemed to have all his records. In saying that, there was no way in my sultry teenage era, nor during my time at university when I thought I was cool and trendy, could I admit to having a love of any sort of country music far less having an idol in Johnny Cash. But as more and more hip bands began to include acoustic songs on their albums, it began to be easier to suggest country/blues influences without getting laughed at.

And then in the 1990s, thanks in the main to Rick Rubin and Def Jam Recordings, (but also to U2 who had performed a duet with him) Johnny Cash became fashionable again. His series of American Recording LPs, which featured a mix of Cash originals and cover versions, brought him to a whole new audience, with appearances at Glastonbury on MTV much in evidence.

I recently picked up my first ever Johnny Cash vinyl record of my own via an e-bay bargain……the 1967 CBS issue of Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits Volume 1. And from that, here’s a couple of tracks……..

mp3 : Johnny Cash – Orange Blossom Special
mp3 : Johnny Cash – Don’t Take Your Guns To Town

And from the tail-end of his career, here’s a couple of duets

mp3 : Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer – Redemption Song
mp3 : Johnny Cash & Nick Cave – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

And a couple of songs that namecheck the great man:-

mp3 : Sons & Daughters – Johnny Cash (live)
mp3 : Alabama 3 – Hello, I’m Johnny Cash

Finally, if you want to hear how good a job was done by the main players in the movie Walk The Line, have a listen to these two tracks:-

mp3 : Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson
mp3 : Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon – Jackson

Enjoy

VERY MUCH A LOVED SONG

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From December 2007:-

Yet another of the vinyl treasures that I found during my extended stay in Toronto.

A mint-condition copy of the 12″ of This Is Not A Love Song by P.I.L. For a bargain $10.

But I refuse to believe that the song dates back to 1983. That’s nearly 25 years ago for fuck sake. (WITH THIS UPDATE IT IS NOW 32 YEARS FUXXXACHE!!!).  I’m not ready to accept that I’m getting that old that quickly. Time for the botox and liposuction.

I’ve long owned a copy of this record, but (a) I wore it out through constant playing, and (b) the whiter-than white sleeve was grubby and torn. I’m delighted to have at long last replaced it.

There are four songs on this magnificent piece of plastic – including an original and remix version of the single.

The remix is quite different from the original. Wobble’s bass lines and Lydon’s vocals are identical but the keyboards are far more prominent while the guitar is further back in the mix.

It’s probably a bit more poppy than the actual single, and while it’s pretty impressive in its own right, it just doesn’t have the same impact as what remains one of my all time favourite records.

A few years later, P.I.L. released a greatest hits compilation, which included yet a further remix of TINALS – and one that was completely different. A re-recorded vocal and a horn section that I just wan’t prepared for at the time. For years it was a version that I hated, but I have grown more fond of it in recent times. You can make your own minds up:-

mp3 : P.I.L. – This Is Not A Love Song (original 12″ version)
mp3 : P.I.L. – This Is Not A Love Song (re-mixed version)
mp3 : P.I.L. – This Is Not A Love Song (re-recorded version)

Enjoy.

LET’S PUT ON OUR CLASSICS AND HAVE A LITTLE DANCE, SHALL WE?

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From February 2009.

In which your humble scribe tries to show that there’s more to him than jangly-guitars, indie-pop and great haircuts from days of old.

Back in the late 1990s, I was in a job that involved the occasional bit of overseas travel. To those of you who don’t ever have to do that for a living it might sound like a great way of life, but believe me, aside from the excitement of arriving somewhere for the first time and enjoying, if you’re lucky, a bit of sightseeing, the joys of being far away from home for a few days isn’t any fun.

It was in 1997 that I went on what proved to be my furthest ever jaunt, to Kuala Lumper in Malaysia to accompany my boss who was giving the keynote speech to a conference of civic leaders – I was there partly as the bag-carrier and organiser, but I was also around to make any last-minute changes to the speech and presentation. I have three abiding memories of the trip.

Firstly, it was very very hot and humid with the most amazing bursts of thunder and lightning I ever imagine I will see.

Secondly, as someone who is not a fan of any sort of exotic food, my participation in a 16-course banquet held in honour of the boss was torture of the worst kind – I was pretty ill for 48 hours afterwards but still had to be seen in and around the conference venue and elsewhere at all times. I made sure I knew where the nearest toilet was.

Thirdly, I heard Moaner by Underworld for the first ever time.

I was having real problems sleeping during the trip, and in the middle of one night I found myself tuned into MTV Asia. It was a station dominated by all sorts of American rock’n’roll stadium acts, particularly Guns’n’Roses who seemed to be on every other song. Then out of the blue came a video that seemed to be a soundtrack to the latest Batman movie – a throbbing, thumping, grinding, intense and manic bit of music that got louder and louder and hugely intense….and just when it seemed to be hitting some sort of ecstatic peak it disappeared without warning, leaving no trace at all of its presence. I was hooked and promised myself that if I ever got back in one piece, I’d immediately track down the song so I’d have one happy abiding memory from it.

This proved to be far more difficult than I imagined as the only way to get hold of it was to buy a single on expensive import or shell out for the soundtrack LP to Batman & Robin. In the end I did the latter. And while it is a soundtrack that I have never played in its entirety (too many things on it that were a total turn-off), the Underworld track became a huge favourite.

Coming in at more than 10 minutes in length, it was of course much longer than the version that I had heard back in Malaysia, but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. However, if the truth be told, for a long while I could really only listen to the opening six and a bit minutes up to the part that I so remembered from that first time….the ecstatic point where the vocal screams ‘down to the waterfront.’ I used to put the track on every C90 compilation of that era but I always hit the stop button right at that moment….but as time has marched on and the full song has found its way on to the i-pod I’ve learned to love every single note.

And despite the title of this posting, I can also say that I’ve never had the opportunity to properly dance to the track (i.e, in a club). Yes, i’ve jumped around an empty flat with nobody watching, and I’ve also lain on a beach throwing my arms above my head while singing along, much to the distress of other holidaymakers who are concerned why a lunatic has been allowed onto an otherwise tranquil Caribbean island.

And given I’m now nearer 50 than 40, I guess I never will get that dance. One of life’s few regrets y’know….

mp3 : Underworld – Moaner (album version)

Looking up info on the song it turnd out that it was released as a single in Germany and the USA with four different versions – ‘short’, ‘album’, ‘relentless legs’ and ‘long’ – with the version on the soundtrack being ‘album.’ Just over a year later later, it was included on the LP Beaucoup Fish as the closing track – the version being ‘long’ (confusingly, the ‘long’ version is in fact shorter than either the ‘album’ or ‘relentless legs versions.’).

This post is dedicated to my dear friends Ctelblog from Acid Ted and Drew from Across The Kitchen Table. If only I had got to know them a few years ago….they would have known where to take me to make my Underworld ambition come true.

Enjoy

STEALING CAKE TO EAT THE MOON

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Another week of delving into the archives of the lost blog and reposting some things I think read okay. This was back in July 2009:-

History hasn’t really been all that kind to Spandau Ballet, and that really all stems from 1983 onwards when the single and LP True gave them enormous crossover appeal, success, fame and fortune. And I’m not going to sir here typing away any real defence of the band, for it was a very clear and distinct career move to shift away from the sort of music that had dominated the first two LPs into the bland, radio-friendly wine-bar shite that was incredibly popular in UK plc when Thatcher was at her most frightening.

But I’ll take issue with anyone who simply dismisses the early work just because it was a Spandau Ballet song.

Their debut single is one of the great synth-pop singles in an era where acts like Soft Cell, Human League, OMD and Depeche Mode were churning them out.

mp3 : Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short

This was a huge hit, reaching #5 in the UK singles chart, and I don’t mind admitting that I did lots of dancing to this, as well as their great follow-up The Freeze, in Glasgow discos in the early 80s. In fact, their debut LP Journeys To Glory, released in October 1981, along with Non Stop Erotic Cabaret and Dare by the afore-mantioned Soft Cell and The Human League, are about the only synth-dominated LPs from that era that I’m still happy to listen to all the way through almost 30 years later.

Not long after the LP appeared, we had the single that many of us will say was the high point of the band’s output, the Top 3 smash Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) . The band followed this up with Paint Me Down, another classy bit of pop-funk, but rather worryingly, the other tracks on the parent LP, Diamond, released in May 1982, were quite disappointing.

Looking back, it’s worth remembering that the two albums were released only 8 months apart, so there’s a case to be made that some of the material on Diamond was a bit rushed in an effort to stay in the public eye, and maybe if the band had been given another six or nine months, the LP would have been a lot stronger.

Paint Me Down only reached #30, which must have been a shock to the band and everyone associated with them given all previous four singles had been big hits, but that was nothing compared to the follow-up She Loved Like Diamond which only just made the Top 50. Something needed fixing…..

And so the record label sent for uber-producer Trevor Horn and he sprinkled his magic dust over the underwhelming album track Instinction and produced a brashy and bold bit of pop that soon had the boys back in the Top 10, on Top Of The Pops and in the pages of Smash Hits:-

mp3 : Spandau Ballet – Instinction (single version)

I finally picked up a copy of this bit of vinyl on e-bay the other day (along with a few other classics of the era), and I’m delighted to share it with y’all. Normally, I would also put the b-side up as well, but it really is a dreadful bit of pap called Gently, a self-produced number that really does put the band firmly on the road to the sort of stuff that was shoved on in the background so as not to interfere with the important chit-chat and gossip at the dinner parties…you know the sort of thing…..’Tristan just picked up his half-a-million bonus from the bank the other day after he persuaded the plebs to buy shares in the the Telecoms/Electricity/Gas companies they already owned. Tee-hee. Crack open another case of bolly…..”

Oh and I havent a fucking clue what Gary Kemp meant with the words Stealing Cake To Eat The Moon.

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 5 of 48)

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After featuring On Tape last week, there could really only be one song selected this week:-

mp3 : This Poison! – Poised Over The Pause Button

I had no idea that this lot, who I presume were named after the Magazine song, were Scottish. They hailed from Perth and between 1986 and 1988 released two singles for Reception Records (the record label founded and run by The Wedding Present) and recorded one John Peel session.

The band members were Scott Taylor (vocals and guitar), Derek Moir (guitar and backing vocals), Alistair Donald (bass) and Steve Gray (drums).

In 2005, what looks like just about everything they ever recorded was compiled on a CD entitled Magazine (which convinces me the band were named after said song from Magic, Murder and The Weather) released on Egg Records.

The single which features on CD86 is quite tasty, if vert much of its time, and certainly demonstrates TWP influences.  The b-side is less exciting but far from the worst song you’ll ever here via this blog:-

mp3 : This Poison! – I’m Not Asking

Enjoy!

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 131)

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Notwithstanding that the ‘A’ side of this single featured very recently in Sid Law’s wonderful mini-series, as I have a copy of the 12″ single it merits a slot within the Saturday Single.

39 Lyon Street was a one-off single project created by Associates. The group used an alternative name to exercise a clause in their contract with WEA that stated they could record for any label they desired, so long as the A-side was not credited to Associates.

I’ve pinched this from a now defunct blog called Retro Dundee:-

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This is how Lyon Street looked back in the 1980’s. A typical Dundee street that you would pass going into the city centre. In the early 80’s, however, something was brewing at number 39. A wee social gathering of creative musicians were busy producing acts who would go on to record some classy alternative pop music.

This is where Billy Mackenzie & Alan Rankine of The Associates were living, along with others. In amongst the others were Christine Beveridge & Steve Reid who went on to record as Orbidoig, releasing a couple of singles. A cross-pollination of The Associates & Orbidoig created a 3rd act called…39 Lyon Street. They also released a single, called “Kites”, which was a cover of the Simon Dupree hit from the psychedelic 60’s.

And here we are:-

mp3 : 39 Lyon Street – Kites
mp3 : Associates – A Girl Named Property

And that dear readers, brings to an end this alphabetical and numerical run through some of the 45s that I have in the cupboard of vinyl or shelves of CD from Scottish acts.

Next week, I’m going to start all over again but this time looking at albums as well as singles or indeed featuring songs that I only have via compilations.

READ IT IN BOOKS : GRACE MAXWELL/EDWYN COLLINS

 

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Dear Readers.

Please indulge me with this one.  I’m putting up this re-post from July 2009. I’m doing so because today marks the 10th anniversary of the day that Edwyn Collins collapsed at home after a stroke.

The original posting fills in the details……………..

 

After reading this compelling 310 pages, I was left with quite a number of impressions, one being that I couldn’t possibly cope with being married to Grace Maxwell. She herself acknowledges that she is a nagging, dominating, sharp-tongued and single-minded individual who has difficulty ever admitting that she ever gets something wrong. But one thing is for sure…..if she wasn’t like that, her partner would most likely be dead, or at best locked away from the world, dependant on specialist round-the-clock treatment. So without any question at all, Edwyn Collins is very blessed to have Grace Maxwell by his side…

Falling and Laughing – The Restoration of Edwyn Collins is a truly astonishing and eye-opening book. It’s also a very very frightening bit of work, and not the sort of thing you really want to be reading if someone close to you is lying ill in hospital with a life-threatening condition.

I’m sure most regular TVV readers are familiar with the basic facts, but here’s a quick resume of what I knew before picking up the hardback.

In February 2005, Edwyn Collins suffered a stroke which left him seriously ill in a London hospital. He was in a coma and required major brain surgery to stop internal bleeding which threatened to kill him. His recovery was hampered by him contracting MRSA, but in the fullness of time, he got back home, and thanks to some fantastic TLC from his partner Grace, their son Will and many other members of his family and his close friends, not to mention many hours of therapeutic treatment, he made a remarkable recovery which allowed him to get back on stage again in late 2007 and to then go on tour in the summer of 2008.

If only it had been that simple……

Opening with a very short prologue that asks the reader to imagine you not having any more thoughts, the book then looks back at the early part of Edwyn’s career with Orange Juice and the circumstances which brought him and Grace together for the first time in 1980, leading to them deciding to live together some five years later. From the outset, Grace was an essential part of Team Edwyn – she was his full-time manager before they got together as a couple, and she shared his woes and worries as he went out of fashion post-Orange Juice but never ever giving up on his immense talent, even when his records were selling to almost no-one.

The world-wide success of the single A Girl Like You in 1994/95 changed everything, setting them, and new son Will, up for life in terms of financial security. It also gave Edwyn the opportunity to make and produce music as and when he liked from the comfort of his own and much-in-demand studio. By early 2005. life seemed quite uncomplicated. Edwyn was 45 years of age, an elder and much respected statesman in music, still recording new songs but under no pressure to come up with the hits. Indeed there was a great deal of satisfaction with the new songs recently recorded and about to go into the post-production for a new LP which would be followed by the inevitable tour and other promotional work.

But then Grace came home on at around 7pm on the night of Sunday 20th February 2005 after picking up her car that had been left a friend’s house after a party she and Edwyn had attended the night before – and discovered him lying semi-conscious and distressed on the living room floor….

Much of the book deals with the next few months as Edwyn tries to battle back from the stroke. Grace writes with a directness and clarity that is utterly refreshing, and she is never over-dramatic about events. She gives a great deal of praise to the medical and nursing staff involved in saving Edwyn’s life, but without ever making them appear as saints. At the same time, she also paints a very distressing picture of a medical system that contributes more to a crisis than it does resolve it.

Grace was fortunate in having some immediate family members who work in medicine, and so she could often talk to someone and try to get an alternative view. Grace was also able to devote 100% of her own energy to be with Edwyn over an extended period of time – a luxury very rarely afforded to most wives/husbands/partners. If she had been in a position where she had taken all the medical opinions totally at face value, and had been unable to spend as much time by Edwyn’s side in the very early days, it is quite likely that everyone would have given up the fight…but they battled through all the obstacles and barriers placed in their way, and slowly his recovery began.

But just as Edwyn was about to be moved out of general care into a specialist unit where his therapy would be intense, there was a setback that made the original stroke seem a bit like a pleasant Sunday stroll in the sunshine round – the contraction of the superbug MRSA. What follows really is the stuff of nightmares……

I’m not spoiling anything by revealing that in the fullness of time, Edwyn faced up to and defeated death for a second time. His rehabilitation is covered in great depth and compassion. Grace doesn’t hide from the fact that this was an immense strain on her and Will and describes some unpleasant family exchanges with an admirable honesty that brought a lump to the throat of this particular reader. I’m sure most of us by now have been in difficult circumstances when someone close is being treated for an illness, and reading many of Grace’s lines brought back a lot of memories of watching loved ones painfully tear themselves up trying to work out what course of action is the best way forward.

As a long-time fan of Edwyn Collins, I would love to have discovered that his recovery turned out to be a smooth and straight-forward process, with him taking his medicine and undergoing his therapy without complaint or giving anyone any cause for concern, and indeed Grace could have easily painted such a rosy picture with very few of us being any the wiser. That she doesn’t is testament to just how good a book this is, and helps the reader gain a much better understanding of just how remarkable it is that Edwyn has the ability nowadays to take to the stage and entertain us.

Having been lucky enough to see him perform three times over the past 12 months I thought that Edwyn – not withstanding the very clear mobility and speech difficulties he still has – was almost completely rehabilitated. Grace’s book reminds everyone that there is still a long way to go. It also reminds us that what Edwyn and so many others close to him have achieved over the past couple of years is quite miraculous – but it has all been through grit, graft and guts, not to mention a lot of Grace.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Graciously
mp3 : Edwyn Collins – Let Me Put My Arms Around You

Postscript

The intervening five and half years since the book was first published have again been nothing short of miraculous.  Edwyn has continued to defy the odds with more new, critically acclaimed music and live shows that are always joyous celebrations of the fact he is still alive.  One of the best was last summer when he played a Spiegeltent in Glasgow Green as part of a cultural event associated with the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  The place was jammed packed with fans of all ages and the reception Edwyn received as he took to the stage was heartfelt, vocal and lengthy.  The set we were treated to was one of the best I’ve ever been privileged to witness….and all the while I found myself standing right next to Grace Maxwell who was having as great a time as the rest of us.

The story of Edwyn’s efforts to rebuild his life has also now been captured on film and while it is often a very strange and ‘arty’ piece of work, I do recommend if you get the chance to view The Possibilities Are Endless which was released in 2014.

JC

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAMME…..

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…..to send birthday greetings to the above handsome fella.

That’s my young brother – SC – who lives in Florida (where he moved back in the mid 80s…probably to escape my obsession with strange pop music). SC turns 49 today and while he is for the most part, a responsible doting dad and dedicated husband, he still has it in his head when he is out with the boys that he has the stamina, staying power and dance moves of his 19 year old self.

I didn’t get round to popping a card into the post for him last week, so he will have to make do with receiving his birthday wishes via T(n)VV – he is a daily reader and he has been known to leave the occasional comment.

My favourite musical memory with SC is of taking him to the Students’ Union at Strathclyde University to see Spear of Destiny. For the early part of the gig he stood next to me towards the back of the hall and then said he was going to move a little bit closer to the action. The next time I saw him, the band had gone off after their third encore and the lights had come up – there was SC stripped to the waist, sweating like he never had in his life before having just enjoyed a lengthy session in the mosh pit. He was ecstatic and his next pint of lager never touched the sides. Here’s to happy memories young bro’

mp3 : Spear of Destiny – Flying Scotsman
mp3 : Spear of Destiny – Rainmaker

I’ll also throw in a couple of songs from what has long been his favourite band. I know they come in for a fair bit of stick within the blogging community but they have done some decent stuff over the years:-

mp3 : U2 – The Fly
mp3 : U2 – Desire (Hollywood Mix)

Enjoy

BILLY MACKENZIE RARITIES…COURTESY OF SID LAW (4)

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Billy was back in London in April of 1995. He and Steve Aungle were down touting their large repertoire of new material around record companies. But Billy was also bumping into folks like Barry Adamson who was completing his “Oedipus Schmoedipus” album at the time. The former bass player from Magazine now Uber-hip groovemeister and general godfather of cool needed a singer to slide a vocal onto an intsrumental track he had written for a ditched drinks commercial. Could Billy drop by and have a listen? Barry could hardly get his samples loaded up and playing before Billy was vocalising over it…
Barry Adamson described how Billy went away and came back three days later with the track’s lyrics finished and the tune ready. Billy went over and over his vocal lines till he was happy with it. I think the results are superb. It is one of my favourite Billy tracks. Billy MacKenzie and Barry Adamson? How good can things get?

The track slipped out on a promo 12″ in August 1996. I picked up my copy in Avalanche in Edinburgh for 50p that month. Great track.

mp3 : Billy Mackenzie/Barry Adamson – Achieved In The Valley Of The Dolls

While he was down in London Billy also appeared in The Cure’s Mint Car video swigging champagne and goofing around. That’s Billy with the wild wig at 1.25-ish (he is wearing a crucifix on a chain and a dark jacket). Back in 1980 The Cure’s Robert Smith had contributed backing vocals to “Paper House” on The Associates debut album – “The Affectionate Punch” – both bands were signed to Fiction at the time.

Sid Law

HE MUST HAVE BEEN HEARTBROKEN……

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…..when this was ignored.

Lloyd Cole has been active in the music business for well over 30 years now. His live shows remain a real treat thanks to a deft combination of new material and the songs he’s most famous for from his days when backed by The Commotions.

It is a real shame that his solo career has never taken off in the way that it should have for he’s released a lot of cracking albums, particularly since the turn of the century when he began to increasingly concentrate on just his voice and his guitar rather than worry too much about the production and arrangements which in all truth occasionally marred his initial solo works after he split up the band.

One of his finest compositions dates from the late 90s. It first saw light of a day on a very underrated LP released in 2000:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Negatives – No More Love Songs

The definitive version however, was released three years later and was the only single taken from the LP Music In A Foreign Language (a record in which Mr Cole did a more than passable cover of a Nick Cave classic).

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – No More Love Songs
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Claire Fontaine
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Claire Fontaine (long)

The single is long deleted and hard to get hold of…indeed the b-sides today are actually courtesy of their inclusion on a later box set entitled Cleaning Out The Ashtrays.

Oh and that Nick Cave song I was referring to….

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – People Ain’t No Good

This post is dedicated to Rol Hurst. He’ll know why.

Enjoy

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (3 & 4)

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It was Niv (not Nev as I so carelessly published earlier!!!) who asked if these could feature.

A 1988 release. More mail-order cassettes from the NME. 40 tracks spread over two tapes with the contents more or less resembling a playlist you’d hear in Student Unions up and down the UK – particularly Tape 2.

Indie City 1

Side 1

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tupelo
Depeche Mode – People Are People (Different Mix)
Sonic Youth – Death Valley ’69
Cabaret Voltaire – Nag Nag Nag
Josef K – Radio Drill Time
Motorhead – Motorhead
Orange Juice – Blue Boy
The Fire Engines – Candy Skin
The Mekons – Never Been In A Riot
Gang Of Four – Armalite Rifle

Side 2

The Freshies – I’m In Love With The Girl On The Virgin Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk
Aztec Camera – We Could Send Letters
The Damned – Smash It Up
The Three Johns – Death On A European
Newtown Neurotics – Mindless Violence
Redskins -Lean On Me
Colourbox – The Official World Cup Theme
Joy Division – Transmission
Cocteau Twins – The Spangle Maker
The Normal – Warm Leatherette

Indie City 2

Side 1

The House Of Love – Shine On
The Loft – Up The Hill And Down The Slope
The Pogues – Dark Streets Of London
The Triffids – Wide Open Road
The Smiths – Hand In Glove
Robert Wyatt- Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’
…And The Native Hipsters – There Goes Concorde Again
The Cramps – Human Fly
R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe
The Special AKA – Gangsters

Side 2

Dead Kennedys – Holiday In Cambodia
Southern Death Cult – Fat Man
The Cult – Spiritwalker
The Primitives – Really Stupid
Jonathan Richman – Roadrunner
James – Hymn From The Village
The Fall – Rowche Rumble
Pop Will Eat Itself – Black Country Chain Saw Massacree
This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren
New Order – Murder

Now I know that some of the artists and some of the song titles above are incorrect, but I’ve simply reproduced what was typed in the track listings to the cassettes.

They are a cracking couple of artefacts with a mix of really well-known singles bundled up with some wonderfully cult acts. And Motorhead….who were the heavy metal band of choice for all discerning punk and new wave fans. There’s more than a few songs that have previously featured on T(n)VV and there others such as …And The Native Hipsters that I always intended to but never got round to it until now.

Worth mentioning that NME handed out 500 promotional copies of a 3xLP vinyl version of Indie City 1 & 2. There’s one kicking around on Discogs just now and it would set collectors back £50. It doesn’t come with anything that wasn’t available on or with the cassette and given that just about all 40 of the tracks are still widely available today, digitally or in new/second-hand vinyl and CDs, it seems an awful lot of money to pay. But then again, some folk like to own things that are or were limited to such small numbers.

Oh and I should mention that while a lot of the tracks have been ripped from the cassette, where the songs have been made available before on this blog I’ve simply re-activated old links to the song.

Also, rather surprisingly, some of the tracks on the cassette (Smiths, Fall, R.E.M.) are the album versions of the song rather than the single versions but then again The Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds contribution is the 7″ version of Tupelo rather than the album version.

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 4 of 48)

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Have a really good look at the sleeve for today’s featured song from CD86. Have any of you out there actually ever seen it in real life? I only ask as it is incredibly rare….it is also a ridiculously expensive piece of vinyl. The available copies on Discogs retail for £150 or thereabouts.

mp3 : The Pooh Sticks – On Tape

I can’t even offer a b-side as it was a one-sided single, released in 1988 on Fierce Recordings.

As with Jasmine Minks (featured back in Part 2 of the series), here we have a song that is synonymous with the whole C86 scene which in fact is a bit of a cheat. There is no doubt however, that The Pooh Sticks would not have come into being without the aid of C86.

On Tape is a brilliant record on so many different levels. It sounds as shambolic and cheaply recorded as most of the C86 tracks were, it pays homage to the humble cassette which, after all, was the medium under which C86 thrived and above all else the lyrics gently mock the trainspotter obsessiveness of so many music fans (myself included!!) with lyrics such as “I’ve got Falling and Laughing – the original Postcard version” and “I sent for the Soup Dragons single, mail-order only; £1.30 to Martin Whitehead, but it never came!”

Oh and in Trudi Tangerine (tambourine/piano) they surely have the best-named indie pop star of all time.

The next five singles after On Tape were also one-sided 45s and these were then gathered together in a vinyl only box set before being made available on a CD compilation entitled Alan McGhee. A live LP followed (on pink vinyl) before another run of 7″ singles on coloured vinyl or as flexidiscs. This was a band determined to do entirely the unexpected….

1990 saw another compilation album and a slew of one-off singles and then, just as the world embraced the advent of grunge and loud guitars, The Pooh Sticks moved to a new label – Cheree Records – and released an album which to all intent and purposes was a power-pop tribute to 70s style soft-rock and AOR.

Incredibly, despite no great sales, this effort got the band into major territory with RCA Records via the Zoo Entertainment imprint and this led to the 1993 release of the tongue-in-cheek named Million Seller. If you any evidence of the lack of demand for the music from this era, you can pick up second-hand copies of the CD for about £3.

By 1995, after a third studio LP, The Pooh Sticks broke up….

In the absence of a b-side, I will offer up the only other track of theirs I have in the collection – it’s another of the early one-sided 45s courtesy of its inclusion on a Rough Trade compilation from back in 2004.  All 95 seconds of it:-

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mp3 : Pooh Sticks – I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well

Enjoy

THE JAMES SINGLES (23) : A RE-POST AND APOLOGY

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An observant reader spotted that I had messed up some of the links to the b-sides in the original posting. The easiest thing to do was delete the old posting and do it all gain using cut’n’paste.  Sorry I made such a basic fuck-up…..

Here we go with V2.

Yet another James single which came as a 3xCd release, with each going for £1.99 or all three for £5 if you wished.

Truth be told, I didn’t wish. Runaground is a decent enough single but was already available on the Best of James compilation as one of the two new tracks which I had already purchased out of laziness just so that I could put one album with all the ‘hits’ into the CD player.

Not buying Runaground was a major error in my part for it denied me the opportunity to enjoy some tremendous live versions of old favourites as well as a couple of otherwise unavailable b-sides.

The single was released in May 1998 when the band were receiving all sorts of acclaim for the quality of Best Of which had topped the album charts in the UK. I think everyone concerned was bitterly disappointed when it crawled into the singles charts at #29 and then disappeared from trace almost immediately. Maybe if a little bit more had been made of the b-sides  or maybe if the record label hadn’t blundered by labelling Disc 1 as having exclusive rare tracks when fans of old already had them then we night have given it a bit more attention.  Who knows.

The three b-sides on CD 1 consisted of two tracks that had originally featured on the initial release of the 1990 LP Goldmother only to be removed and replaced by the singles Sit Down and Lose Control less than a year later when the LP was re-released as the band’s popularity exploded; the other track on CD1 was a song previously available as a b-side to the hit single Born of Frustration.

So far so humdrum

The three songs on CD2 consisted of songs taken from a BBC Greater London Radio session that had been transmitted on 6 March 1998. Here was a stripped back and wonderful sounding James with acoustic takes on three previous hit singles that bore little resemblance to the original versions.

Now you’re talking.

The three songs on CD3 featured an interesting and extended 8-minute remix of Runaground which is very reminiscent to the remix of the song Goldmother as featured earlier in this series when it was a b-side to hit release of Come Home; a largely instrumental track with a spoken/choral vocal that sounds as if it would fit on a film soundtrack; and a cracking and funky remix of an otherwise dullish track from the 1997 studio LP Whiplash.

Put On Your Dancing Shoes.

mp3 : James – Runaground
mp3 : James – Hang On
mp3 : James – Crescendo
mp3 : James – Be My Prayer
mp3 : James – Say Something (live at GLR)
mp3 : James – Laid (live at GLR)
mp3 : James – Lose Control (live at GLR)
mp3 : James – Runaground (The James Remix)
mp3 : James – Egoiste
mp3 : James – Lost A Friend (Aloof remix)

At long last, an entire singles package that wasn’t a rip-off.

Enjoy