MY FIRST TASTE OF TEENAGE FANNIES

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I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that Teenage Fanclub are a bit hit and miss with me but this particular 45 is one I’ve adored for nigh on 25 years now and I still think it is one of their all time greats:-

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – God Knows It’s True

I reckon this was the first time I ever heard the band and again it was thanks to it appearing on a compilation tape put together by Jacques the Kipper. It’s quite incredible to realise this single came out as far back as November 1990. It was the last thing they released on the Paperhouse label before the switch to Creation Records and the deserved commercial success from Bandwagonesque onwards.

I was delighted a few years ago to pick up a mint condition copy of the 12″ for just £3 and to discover that the other tracks consist of a cracking b-side that could easily have been released as a single and a couple of instrumentals which demonstrate the boys liked to listen to bit of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr just as much as the west coast Americana that they claimed were the biggest influences:-

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – So Far Gone
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Weedbreak
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Ghetto Blaster

Enjoy

THE JAMES SINGLES (24)

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I hadn’t forgotten about this series….I was simply putting off having to write about this rip-off.

I mentioned last time out that the release of Runaground, while being a right pain in the proverbial with its 3xCd format, at least, and for the first time in ages, provided some value(ish) for money with decent b-sides, mixes and live session versions.

Six months later in November 1998, and with the Best Of still doing quite well in the album charts James were about to embark on a sold-out tour of large arenas in the UK complete with support from either Stereophonics or Gene.  The record label decided something had to be done to tie-in with the tour and also to prompt the Christmas market record-buyers that a James greatest hits CD might be worth popping into someone’s stocking.

And so the idea of a remix of Sit Down was hatched……

There’s lots to despise about this release.  It has an appalling sleeve and the remix isn’t very good…it sounds awfy like the Doctorin’ The Tardis by The Timelords which had got to #1 away back in 1988…and then there’s the heinous crime of the record label stating that the inclusion of Sit Down on the b-side was the ‘original version’ when in fact it was the hit single version already on ‘Best Of’ rather than going to the trouble and expense of getting permission to go with the version released back in the days on Rough Trade.

What almost saves it are the two acoustic tracks lifted from the April 1998 session recorded for GLR Radio and the rocking version of China Girl which the band had recorded as a one-off on 21 April 1997 as a contribution to a Radio 1 Show, hosted by Jo Whiley, to commemorate the 50th birthday of Iggy Pop.  If you hadn’t taped it off the radio it was otherwise unavailable:-

mp3 : James – Sit Down (apollo four forty mix)
mp3 : James – China Girl
mp3 : James – What For (GLR session)
mp3 : James – Sit Down (GLR session)

Enjoy.

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 10 of 48)

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The Raw Herbs were a four-piece London band who released most of their material in what was a very brief career on Medium Cool, a Manchester-based label. The members were Derek Parker (vocals, guitar), Kevin Bache (guitar), Steven Archibald (bass), and Brian Alexis (drums).

There were just four singles during their two-year existence between 1986 and 1988 but they were regarded highly enough to also score a Radio 1 session for Janice Long who, at the time, broadcast in the early evening slot. The track on CD86 is in fact a b-side from their final single recorded for Rooster Records which, as far as I can tell, was their own label as I haven’t been able to find anything else released on that particular imprint:-

mp3 : The Raw Herbs – He Blows In

I’ve been able to track down the A-side of the 45:-

mp3 : The Raw Herbs – The Second Time

They’re decent enough quality indie-pop without being ground-breaking.  And the a-side is better than the track included on CD86.

The lead singer went on to be part of a group called Horse Latitudes who, in 1990, released an LP entitled September Songs on Cherry Red Records. This particular band should, on no account be confused with a more recent combo using the same name – they are a death metal outfit from Finland and about as far removed from the C86 sounds as imaginable.

I’ve also learned that the drummer died in 2011 after suffering a deep-vein thrombosis.

Here’s a link to a fan site.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG :#5 : AEREOGRAMME

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Aereogramme were a Scottish alternative/post-rock rock band from Glasgow, consisting of Craig B. (vocals, guitar), Iain Cook (guitar, programming), Campbell McNeil (bass) and Martin Scott (drums).

Formed in April 1998, the band released two 7″ singles in 1999 before signing the following year to Chemikal Underground on which they released two EPs and two LPs over a three-year period before a short-lived move to Undergroove Records in 2003 for whom they released their third LP.

By 2006, Aereogramme were back at Chem (as the Glasgow-based label is affectionately known) and their fourth, and what turned out to be their final LP, was released in January 2007 just a few months before they called it a day with the following message to all and sundry:-

“ It is with heavy hearts that we tell you all that Aereogramme have decided to split up. Reasons are multiple and complex. It is however fair to say that the never-ending financial struggle coupled with an almost superhuman ability to dodge the zeitgeist have taken their toll, ensuring that we just don’t have any fight left in us.

We are immensely proud of the four albums that we made over the past seven years. We hope that they continue to grow in your hearts. We plan to honour and celebrate the beautiful friendships we have made along the way with these final shows over the summer.”

The band then saw out various contractual obligations on the gigging front and  played their last ever show at the Connect Festival in the Highland town of Inverary on 31 August 2007.

Iain Cook and Craig B. have since formed another successful and highly regarded band, The Unwinding Hours with two critically acclaimed albums released by Chem in 2010 and 2012 but more recently Cook has found more fame and a little fortune as a member of Chvrches.

As for the other two past members of Aereogramme,  Martin Scott is the tour manager for Biffy Clyro while Campbell McNeil works in the same capacity with Chvrches.

I was very late in discovering Aereogramme with my first exposure coming via a Chemikal Underground compilation LP around the time of their final material.

More fool me.

Other than the compilation material, there’s just one rather splendid single – Barriers – from 2006 in the cupboard and I thought that given the b-side is otherwise unavailable to showcase that as this weekend’s Scottish song:-

mp3 : Aereogramme – Dissolve

Enjoy

HE WOULD HAVE TURNED 58 YEARS OF AGE TODAY

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I recently sent Sid Law an e-mail with a great big ‘thank you’ on behalf of everyone for his words and songs in the recent Billy Mackenzie series. Here’s his lovely reply:-

I’m really glad the Billy posts were appreciated by your Vinyl Villain readers. I am awfie glad that people took the time to download some of the music I sent on to you, I hope it casts a little more colour and light on Billy and the range of his music. Billy and The Associates left behind a legacy of some very fine work which was remastered and expanded in the Virgin re-issues. For me the tragedy was always what was missed from the re-issue schedules, the weird collaborations, the mental B-sides, the long deleted and forgotten, the out-takes, the unreleased stuff. Maybe its all a bit train spotter-ish… but that is being a fan.

I think the work Billy was doing during the last few years of his life was some of the best he had ever done. His vocal work with Barry Adamson, Apollo Four Forty and Loom are of a richness, depth and scope which eclipsed almost everything he had ever done before. He was flying…

Billy would have been 58 on Friday 27 March.

Please find attached two commercially unavailable items of some charm and interest. The fully extended 12″ Mix of “Cinemas Of The World” from Billy’s 1987 collaboration with Uno. The following year The Associates released their last Warners single “Heart Of Glass” and on the four track 3-inch CDEP version (there were many formats…) there lurked “Her Only Wish” a dark little beast of a song which never saw the light of day on any of the re-issue CDs.

Post as you see fit Jim!

All the best – enjoy what we have!

Sid Law

How could I resist??

mp3 : Billy Mackenzie/Uno – Cinemas Of The World (12″ mix)
mp3 : Associates – Her Only Wish

And here’s one from me….fairly widely available but a personal favourite:-

mp3 : Associates – Breakfast (Peel Session)

Enjoy

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (6)

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Thus far any NME efforts in this series have harked back to the cassette era. This one however, is much more recent.

The NME and Morrissey have had an on-off relationship over the years. Simon Goddard sums up succinctly:-

His history with the NME is a tragicomedy unto itself. In the 1970s, they shunned his attempts to join their exclusive club as a freelance writer, barring him at the threshold of their letter page and the classified columns. Exacting the ultimate revenge, in the 1980s they lauded him as their pop saviour, the would-be critic having transformed himself into the object of their stupified desire. In the 1990s, as if suddenly humiliated by their sycophancy, they would try to destroy him. And in the 2000s they would beg him back on bended knee only to end their affair once and for all with an act of monumental dull-wittedness.

The bended-knee approach incorporated a Morrissey-curated free CD given away with the 19 June 2004 edition of the NME. The editor at the time, Conor McNicholas, penned these words:-

Morrissey hopes this compilation will say everything to you about your life, and maybe a little about his. Over the course of this CD Morrissey leads you by the hand from spiky punk to sun-kissed country grooves via bands he’s influenced and new acts he’s now consciously endorsing as the legacy of his talent and work. It’s a fascinating compilation and we’re very proud to present it. Now it’s all yours.

A wee bit over the top perhaps, but to be fair the 17 tracks are extremely diverse and as a free CD it is better than most. It was certainly unbeatable in terms of value.  As with these sorts of compilations, there really should be something for everyone who reads TVV but at the same time, I’m prepared to accept there will inevitably be stuff that gets on your tits…..

mp3 : Morrissey – The Never Played Symphonies
mp3 : The Killers – Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
mp3 : Gene – Fighting Fit
mp3 : Sparks – Barbecutie
mp3 : The Slits – Love Und Romance
mp3 : The Ordinary Boys – (Little) Bubble
mp3 : New York Dolls – Vietnamese Baby
mp3 : Franz Ferdinand – Jacqueline (live)
mp3 : Raymonde – No One Can Hold A Candle To You
mp3 : Ludus – Let Me Go Where My Pictures Go
mp3 : Sack – Colorado Springs
mp3 : Remma – Worry Young (Demo Version)
mp3 : Pony Club – Single
mp3 : Jobriath – Morning Star Ship
mp3 : Damien Dempsey – Factories
mp3 : The Libertines – Time For Heroes
mp3 : Sir John Betjeman – A Child Ill

Morrissey would himself record and release a copy of the Raymonde track later that year as a b-side:-

mp3 : Morrissey – No One Can Hold A Candle To You

I should also mention at this point that last Saturday saw Morrissey play the Hydro in Glasgow as part of his latest UK tour.  For the first time ever, I made a conscious decision not to go along, choosing instead to spend my day at an alternative music shindig featuring, among others, Randolph’s Leap.

I do have the very slightest of regrets at missing Moz just in case it does turn out to be the final time he tours this part of the world and judging by the press reviews it was a belter of a gig….but against that, a couple of folk who were there and have been fans for years think that his best shows are long behind him and I didn’t miss out too much.

What I will say is that Randolph’s Leap were magnificent and provided further evidence as to why this, in my opinion, was the best album of 2014.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM #9 – LCD SOUNDSYSTEM

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From the fingertips of S-WC…..

A few years back James Murphy, the kingpin behind LCD Soundsystem said that this band are ‘over once and for all’ and I for one was gutted. I think I said before that this is the only band I regret never seeing live. They were great and having earlier this morning dug out all of the tracks by them that I own and played them back to back in order to compile this (five hours it took, roughly) they are still great.

What made them great was the fact that they were genreless, they were DJs, they did songs, techno, dark stuff, rock stuff, pop crossover. LCD Soundsystem transcended the divide by combing dance and punk and I always thought that Daft Punk would have been a better name for them. For what its worth, ending LCD Soundsystem was I think the most selfish decision in musical history, solely because I can never see them live (until the obivious multi million pound reform deal in 2025 to mark 20 years of the release of their self-titled debut that is). Until that reform happens, here is their ultimate compilation.

Side One

1. Daft Punk is Playing At My House

(I’ve gone for Soulwax Mix simply because of the bit where it goes ‘DOWNTOWN’)

This was LCD Soundsystem’s most successful song, earning a Grammy nod and reaching No. 29 on the UK charts. It’s not hard to see why. Murphy always knew how to start a party, from the opening “OW! OW!” to the smashing hi-hats to cowbells and even reminding us that he had moved the furniture to the garage. A belter of a record.

2. I Can Change

The legend goes that after recording this song, he had to leave the room when the rest of the team listened to it. When he came back in, they all hugged him, to be honest when you hear the line ‘I can change if it makes you fall in love’ I wanted to bleeding hug him. The song reads like a quarrel that he is narrating.

3.  North American Scum

You’ll all know this song but the point where the cowbell clangs and organ buzz that set off North American Scum is one of the greatest moments in recent music history. This is one of the finest anthems of our generation. There is an angry guitar that pushes its way to the front, and as it does burst through, you can’t help but grin at the stupidly brilliant American.

4.  Someone Great

I once saw a man get shot, sorry to get personal on your asses, but I did, I won’t go into details, but it wasn’t pleasant, I didn’t know the chap I was literally waiting for a bus. The next morning around three am I woke up in my room after about two hours restless sleep. I switched on the iPod and this song came on – and the lyric ‘To tell the truth I saw it coming, the way you were breathing, but nothing can prepare you for it, the voice on the other end’ made my eyes sting. Not because its about death but because everything felt like a dream until about six seconds after that line was delivered.

5. Yeah (Crass Mix)

The first LCD Soundsystem I ever heard. I was hooked straight away. The perfect end to any compilation of their music. It twists and winds and bleeps and whirls and just explodes.

Side Two

1.  Dance Yrself Clean

The one thing about LCD Soundsystem that frustrated everyone was their reluctance to write ‘hit records’. They never got played on the radio, not the shows that sell records anywhere. This track was another raised middle finger to the industry, an eight minute raised middle finger of a single. It kind of wobbles along at half volume and includes a flute – A FLUTE – instead of a crashing beat or bass that you kind of expect and then suddenly it bursts and goes on for eight minutes. Plus and perhaps the main reason it is here – The Muppets are in the video for it, and it is the greatest music video ever made.

2.  All My Friends

Murphy hates this song, and yet it is clearly their greatest moment. He thinks it is too poppy and embarrassing. It is certainly the most romantic song he ever wrote. I have always thought it is widely reminiscent of ‘Ceremony’ by New Order but the call to arms of for his friends ‘If I could see all my friends tonight’ really emphasises the quality of this band and the friendship its members have.

3.  Losing My Edge

Apparently Murphy wrote this song after hearing DJs in a club playing music he thought onlty he was playing on his club night, ‘I’m losing my edge’ he bleats out – out of time – of the beat, if perhaps to make the point. He lists band after band to try and reclaim his relevance, its tongue in cheek of course, but wonderful all the same.

4.  You Wanted A Hit

My point in Side Two Track One is proved here, ‘You wanted a hit/But Maybe we don’t do hits’ sings Murphy in front of a synthesizers and tiny little guitar line. The song simply fades away. Much like that dream of making it big. Also it involves handclaps, and that in a LCD Soundsystem track deserves to be heard.

5.  New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down

The only closer that was possible, firstly because it was the last song they ever played live (at Madison Square Garden, New York). Secondly because of THAT piano that starts up again after a massive silence near the end of the track. If you have ever been to New York, or if you ever go, take a trip to the Williamsburg Bridge at night – gaze across to Manhattan and you’ll know what Murphy means.

mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing At My House (Soulwax Mix)
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – Yeah (Crass Mix)
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – You Wanted A Hit
mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down

JC adds………..

Huge thanks to S-WC for this. LCD Soundsystem are a band I should know a lot more about and I certainly should owm much more of their material than I do. This is a cracking and seamless mix.

The mention of that last gig in New York got me digging into the vaults to May 2011 for this fantastic guest posting from Iain Fenton, a good friend of my good friend Mr John Greer.

FAREWELL LCD SOUNDSYSTEM

The rumours that James Murphy, the architect and brainchild behind New York collective LCD Soundsystem, (and cofounder of DFA Records) was due to retire the band had been circulating for a while and he had been laying the ground for an announcement for some time when finally it came…. on Feb 5th 2011.

There was to be one last LCD farewell gig on their home turf at Madison Square Garden on Sat 2nd of April and billed as the ‘long farewell’ it was to be a 3+ hour show with guests and all sorts of extras and unusual song inclusions.

In the time since Losing my Edge announced LCD to the world back in 2002 they have released three unmissable albums (four if you count 45.33) and numerous classic singles and remixes. No other band in the last 10 years has given me so much enjoyment and after having seen them live a number of times I absolutely had to be there for the final farewell on 02/04!

Tickets went on-sale on 11 Feb at 14.00 UK time which shouldn’t have been too much of a problem as MSG has a capacity of 15.000 and LCD had never played to a crowd of that size for one of their own shows prior to this (James Murphy subsequently admitted that he thought they would fill the venue but only perhaps with a few days to spare). So, 14.00 arrived and Ticketmaster US and the Bowery websites show sold out within 2 mins of going on sale…. WHAT??? How can that be???

The LCD web forum filled with fans complaining that they couldn’t get tickets and some of the band’s friends (not wishing to hassle them) can’t get any either WTF???? Within 5 mins the first scalper tickets appear on E-bay and StubHub with a face value of $80 selling for $1,000.

It’s all kicking off and within a few hours Murphy has posted a long tirade on the website entitled ‘Fuck You Scalpers, Terminal 5 shows added’. In order to screw the scalpers and suppress demand, he has added four extra shows at the 3,500 capacity Terminal Five venue on the 28/29/30/31st of March with details of ticket sale to be announced – Yay, back in with a shout of a ticket!!

Finally on 22 Feb at 14.03 UK time I secured two tickets for the show on 30 March with all four shows selling out quickly but far more of the fanbase had been satisfied and would be at one of the farewell shows.

Well done to James and LCD for adding the dates and listening to the fans (an almost Joe Strummeresque thing to do).

No tickets would be sent electronically or by hardcopy. The only way of collecting your ticket was on the night itself by showing photo ID and producing the credit card that you used for payment – a pretty good way of stopping scalpers in their tracks!

Fast-forward by a few weeks and the 30th of March had now arrived and here we were in NYC already having holiday fun and full of anticipation for the show at Terminal 5 that night. Reviews from the fans on the LCD forum for the previous two shows were absolutely raving and the setlist looked unbelievably mouth watering. After a perfectly executed ticket collection we entered the venue in enough time to catch a bit of Shit Robots support slot. The venue is on 3 floors with plentiful facilities and drinks can be had within a couple of minutes (nothing like Brixton Academy then!) and finding a good position was relatively easy from which to view this historic farewell.

At 9.05, to the walk on music of 10cc’s ‘I’m not in Love’, the final LCD Soundsystem show (for me anyway) was underway. Starting with Dance Yrself Clean the atmosphere was electric, more like a fiesta really with seemingly the whole 3,500 attendees ready to party and celebrate big time. Now, my friends, I have been to more gigs than had hot dinners with the count into the high hundreds and have tasted the atmosphere of many a fine venue including the legendary Glasgow Apollo. However, I have NEVER experienced such a strong sense of camaraderie and sense of purpose to simply have fun and support the band! For the next 3 hours and 20 minutes T5 was a full-blown rowdy, singing, dancing cacophony of noise and celebration for the finest band of the last 10 years. Playing many songs that hadn’t been heard live before or at least for a very long time and aided by additional singers and a very tasty brass section, the sound was fantastic and joyous. Comprising of two sets with a very brief break between them, the night flew by and soon it was the final farewell.

Set 1

Dance Yrself Clean
Drunk Girls
I Can Change
Time To Get Away
Get Innocuous!
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
Too Much Love
All My Friends

Set 2

45:33 Part One
45:33 Part Two
Sound of Silver
45:33 Part Four
45:33 Part Five
45:33 Part Six
Freak Out/Starry Eyes
Us v Them
North American Scum
You Wanted A Hit
Tribulations
Movement
Yeah

Encore:

Someone Great
Losing My Edge
Home

Encore 2:

All I Want
Jump Into the Fire 
(Harry Nilsson cover)
New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

It’s difficult to pick out any one highlight, but the rendition of the full version of 45.33 was truly epic and so wonderful I can barely communicate how fabulous it was.

Now that the dust has settled and a few weeks have past I can reflect back on what was truly one of the top 5 gigs of the whole of my life and that’s really saying something!

So thanks for the memories James & Co and enjoy whatever you do next!

To quote from Losing my Edge ‘I was there!’

READ IT IN BOOKS : LUKE HAINES (2)

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As with yesterday, another re-post. This time from 11 December 2012:-

Readers of old will hopefully recall back in early 2009 when I posted a very glowing review of Bad Vibes, the wonderfully funny and acidic take on Britpop as seen through the eyes of Luke Haines.

The follow-up to Bad Vibes was published in mid-2011. Entitled Post-Everything, it was a book I rushed out and bought on the first day it was available…but the lack of any subsequent review will perhaps indicate that I was left feeling a wee bit disappointed with it. It wasn’t that Post-Everything was a rotten read….it was more that it didn’t tickle me the same way as Bad Vibes…..but as with when I go and see a disappointing gig I don’t offer my negative thoughts via this blog.

But the other day I picked up Post-Everything again, and this second go has totally changed my mind as I’m very firmly of the view that it’s not only as good as Bad Vibes but is a more enjoyable and entertaining read. It’s a book that is still incredibly funny in places but there’s also a lot of cracking passages in which Luke Haines got me thinking about lots of different things well beyond music. Oh and there’s a fair bit of piss-taking at famous people – dead and alive – in the music industry which is wonderful to read.

In a way, my view in this book is akin to that when you go back after a while to a record that you rush out and buy and find a bit of a let-down, but as time goes on and you get a bit more used to it – perhaps appreciating the subtle change in sound that the band/singer has adopted – it becomes something of a classic. A bit like Strangeways Here We Come which I initially couldn’t bring myself to like, partly as it was The Smiths break-up album but mainly because there was a lack of killer jangly guitar tracks on it…..but after some nine months once I’d resigned myself to the fact the band wouldn’t be getting back together again I was able to listen without prejudice…..and it is now my favourite studio LP the band ever made.

I used to say that if I ever wanted to be stuck in a pub with two other folk just to listen to what they had to say it would have been Tony Wilson and Bill Drummond. I can pay Luke Haines no higher compliment than saying nowadays I’d love for him to be the replacement for Tony…..although I’ve a feeling that if that particular scenario was to arise it wouldn’t take too long before Haines and Drummond were physically fighting with one another…and I abhor mindless violence!

The period covered by Post-Everything is mid 1997 – January 2006. An awful lot happens to Luke Haines in that period including unexpected chart success and being dropped more than once by one or other of his record labels. There’s a particularly brilliant chapter about the demise of Hut Records and the devious plot that was hatched to get one final wad of money from the bosses under which old songs were re-recorded and sneaked through as back-catalogue. The result was the fantastically titled Das Capital : The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines And The Autuers. And in typical style, not only was it old songs given lush orchestral arrangements, there were a handful of new tunes to enjoy. Seems appropriate to go with some stuff from Das Capital today:-

mp3 : Luke Haines – How Could I Be Wrong
mp3 : Luke Haines – Lenny Valentino
mp3 : Luke Haines – Satan Wants Me

Enjoy

READ IT IN BOOKS : LUKE HAINES (1)

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A bit pressed for time just now, but no apologies for this re-posting from January 2009. It follows-on nicely from yesterday’s effort:-

There’s been a substantial number of good reviews about this book…..and here’s another one coming.

For those of you who don’t know, Luke Haines first came to fame as a member of The Autuers, before later making records under his own name, as well as a member of Baader Meinhoff and Black Box Recorder. The fact that first chart success coincided with the rise of a few other UK bands at a time when American bands and grunge was the dominant force. This led to Mr Haines, along with the likes of Brett Anderson of Suede, to be christened as the founding-fathers of Britpop….

But this bio, which covers 1992 -1997, makes it quite clear that Luke Haines had very no time or most of his peers. Indeed, an anecdote that pre-dates The Autuers has the author admitting and illustrating that he has always had an arrogant and cocky attitude, an astounding sense of self-importance and a massive ego. But he argues that he had the talent which justified all of this and therefore has every right to be so dismissive of those in the music industry whom he felt had little or no ability.

There’s a very long roll-call of folk who really do get it with both barrels within the 243 pages, some of them being heroes of mine that I have long loved and admired (e.g. Matt Johnson of The The). Sometimes I was wincing as I read a particularly barbed paragraph, but mostly I was nodding in agreement, or indeed laughing out loud.

By the end of the book, I had no doubt in my mind that Luke Haines is someone who cares passionately about music, but has no time not for the music industry or those who service it. Some of his best passages are about journalists, and he takes great pleasure in some of the things said about him over the years. For instance, one scathing reviewer in Melody Maker thought they were insulting him by describing him as the new Nick Lowe, little realising that for Luke Haines, that was just about as big a compliment he could be given.

One of the other things the book reminded me of was how few Britpop singles went to #1 and how the very highest echelons of the pop charts were as rank rotten during this so-called golden era as they are now – Mr Blobby, 2 Unlimited, Take That, Mariah Carey, East 17 and Robson & Jerome are among the acts that hit the top spot. And what Luke Haines has written has got me thinking just how much of Britpop will be truly remembered in 20 or 30 years time outwith Blur, Pulp, Suede and Oasis (and of course, the first two of these bands had been around for a few years before the actual movement).

I don’t agree with every word that is in the book as I reckon a number of the acts that Luke rails against had some talent. In the introduction, our esteemed author makes it quite clear that he wishes things had turned out differently, and while there’s a lot of bitterness, the vitriol and poison is laced with too much humour, much of it self-deprecating, for the book to leave any lingering bad taste. Indeed in his intro, the author makes it clear the he didn’t set out on an exercise in score settling – although he also acknowledges that the casual reader may have every reason to beg differ – and that what he has written is very much what he thought at the time, not necessarily what he thinks now. Nor does he bear any ill towards the people and characters in the book…..although I think that might just be stretching things a bit far.

I’m guessing that most folk who pop into TVV consider themselves fairly serious music fans. Well, I reckon every serious music fan would enjoy devouring Bad Vibes on first reading, and then a few weeks later will be more than happy to read it again….it’s a real early highlight of 2009.

Oh and it also made me want to go back and listen to some of the great music he’s made over the years:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – How Could I Be Wrong (1993)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Lenny Valentino (single version) (1994)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Unsolved Child Murder (live on French Radio) (1996)
mp3 : Black Box Recorder – England Made Me (1998)
mp3 : Black Box Recorder – Andrew Ridgeley (2003)
mp3 : Luke Haines – Leeds United (2007)

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 9 of 48)

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Today’s look back at the class of 86 is one of the most intriguing tales of the era.

The Servants were actually featured on the C86 tape with Transparent, a track that would feature as the b-side to the first single released, in March 1986, on a new London-based indie label called Head Records.  The line-up was David Westlake (vocals), Philip King (bass/guitar), John Mohan (guitar/keys) and John Wills (drums).

Their second single was released on 12″ vinyl in October 1986 and is a timeless classic. Heavily influenced by The Smiths, Go-Betweens and Felt in equal measures, it’s a song that really should have been picked up and placed on the A-playlists of Radio 1 and the commercial stations here in the UK and propelled high into the charts.  This was classy indie-pop that nowadays you still hear in the likes of Cats on Fire and I’m delighted that as it was on CD 86, it features today:-

mp3 : The Servants – The Sun, A Small Star

Incidentally, it does seem that the Go-Betweens influence is far more pronounced than I thought as Amanda Brown, who in 1987 would become a member of the very fine band, is credited with playing the violin part on this song.

The failure of the single, and the fact that The Servants were a cut above many of the shambolic sounding acts they were being lumped in with under the C86 banner, were probably contributing factors to the band breaking up shortly afterwards. John Wills joined Loop, Philip King shifted seamlessly into Felt as well as linking up again with John Mohan as Apple Boutique.  David Westlake meantime would record a solo mini-LP for Creation Records in 1987 – six songs that saw him backed by a number of The Triffids as well as a new up-and-coming musician called Luke Haines.

The Servants, in name, reformed in late 1987 with its membership now consisting of Westlake, Haines, Alice Readman (bass) and Hugh Whitaker (drums)  – the latter being a former member of The Housemartins.

This version of the band was dropped by Creation before any work was released but in 1988 they signed to Glass Records who soon after ran into financial difficulties as a result of the collapse of its distributor.  Cue more frustration for The Servants and it wasn’t until late 1989 that they issued another single after which they had to sign to yet another label – Paperhouse – for who they cut one single and one album, aptly named Disinterested, in 1990 before finally calling it a day in August 1991 after a gig at the Rock Garden in London.

So in just four years,  David Westlake, regarded by many in the music press as one of the most intelligent songwriters of his era, had tried his luck on four different labels without ever escaping cult status.

So what happened next?

Luke Haines and Alice Readman would go onto form The Auteurs while Hugh Whittaker in 1993 would become infamous for being sent to jail for six years for assaulting a former business associate as well as setting fire to his house on three separate occasions.

David Westlake faded away from the music industry but he wasn’t ever forgotten – and it emerged, thanks to a 2004 interview, that Stuart Murdoch had attempted to track him down in the hope of forming a new band with him only to give up and form Belle & Sebastian instead!!

In 2002, Westlake released a very low-key solo LP called Play Dusty For Me and all the while, thanks in part to the continued success of Luke Haines,  there was a growing appreciation of the work of The Servants and the Disinterested LP, by now long-deleted, became a sought-after piece of work.  In 2011, MOJO magazine put the record in its Top 100 Indie LPs of all time and shortly afterwards Cherry Red Records released Small Time which had been intended as the band’s second LP by The Servants.

I don’t own anything by The Servants other than the C86 and CD86 tracks but I have tracked down the September 89 release on Glass Records:-

mp3 : The Servants – It’s My Turn

By now a solicitor and part-time lecturer at Brunel University in London, David Westlake was coaxed out of his semi-retirement to play shows in May/June 2014, firstly as a duo with Luke Haines and then as The Servants with their first shows in 23 years.  It must have been great for those lucky enough to be there as evidenced by this:-

Big favour to ask…..if anyone out there has a copy of Disinterested and can burn the tracks onto a CD for me, I’d be very pleased to hear from you.

Cheers.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG: #4 : ADVENTURES IN STEREO

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After their previous band Spirea X split up in 1993, Jim Beattie and Judith Boyle took a year out before forming Adventures in Stereo, bringing in Simon Dine, who had been the manager and co-producer of their previous combo.

They were a trio who created music based on sampled loops created by Dine with Beattie adding guitar and Boyle the vocals, but in the fullness of time expanded into a six piece before calling it a day in 2000 after a handful of 45s and LPs, most of which were issued on the Edinburgh-based Creeping Bent label.

I never owned anything of theirs at the time but have picked up second-hand copies of some singles in recent times. One of these has the catalogue number of bent019 and is a split single, released in 1997, with the other side featuring the very talented and wonderful The Leopards who are a Scottish supergroup of sorts with its members all having played in a range of indie-bands over the past 30 years – they are also the musicians Lloyd Cole now turns to when he needs a full backing band here in the UK and they played a couple of great shows in Glasgow in 2014.

But I digress….here is the song on bent019 from today’s featured band:-

mp3 : Adventures In Stereo – Waves On

Enjoy

CLOSE COUSINS TO THE SKIDS AND E.C.

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The Ruts had scored a well-deserved top 10 hit in the summer of 1979 with Babylon’s Burning and in doing so demonstrated that they were no minor-league tribute to the big boys of the London punk scene. They were a band much championed by both John Peel and David ‘Kid’ Jensen on BBC Radio 1 for whom they recorded a total of three sessions in advance of becoming chart stars.

The follow-up single arrived in August 1979 and listening to it all these years later you can hear a huge similarity to The Skids while the b-side, featuring a Peel Session track, is eerily reminiscent of the sound that had propelled Watching The Detectives by Elvis Costello & The Attractions into the charts.

It’s no real surprise in either case. The single was produced and arranged by Mick Glossop who just a year later would work with The Skids on their masterpiece The Absolute Game while the b-side highlighted the influence that reggae and dub had on the punk movement.

The Ruts were a band who really deserve a lot more praise than was given them at the time. They certainly lived in the shadow of The Sex Pistols and The Clash and looking back they may have been championed a bit more if they had been a provincial band. The contribution of Mick Glossop as a producer also gave them a cleaner and more polished sound than many of their contemporaries while the fact this band could play actually play their instruments with a degree of style and professionalism probably counted against them in the eyes of the music paper critics and writers.

Whether they would have enjoyed a decent and lengthy career is of course a moot point given the death of lead singer Malcolm Owen, from a heroin overdose, in July 1980 at the tragically young age of 26.

mp3 : The Ruts – Something That I Said
mp3 : The Ruts – Give Youth A Chance (Peel Session)

Enjoy

BITEX 1, BITEX 2, BITEX 3

NPG x87636; Bronski Beat (Steve Bronski; Jimmy Somerville; Larry Steinbachek) by Eric Watson

The title of today’s posting refers to the catalogue numbers given to the 12″ versions of the first three singles released back in 1984 by Bronski Beat.

It is impossible not to write about this band without acknowledging how groundbreaking they were in terms of using pop music to make salient and hard-hitting points about homophobia. Tom Robinson a few years earlier during the post-punk new wave era had openly come out and indeed had somehow managed to get his anthem Glad To Be Gay played on BBC Radio 1, but it was still an era when pop stars more or less hid their ‘sordid secrets’ (copyright every tabloid newspaper of the era), so when Steve Bronski, Jimmy Somerville and Larry Steinbacheck put their queer lifestyle and culture right into the heart of the mainstream it was something to behold.

They, along with the likes of Marc Almond of Soft Cell, Holly Johnston and Paul Rutherford of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Andy Bell of Erasure, were at the forefront of driving home a message that homophobia was every bit as unacceptable as those causes such as racism and apartheid that brought millions onto the streets to march in protest.

One of the most remarkable things about Bronski Beat is how quickly they rose from seemingly nowhere. They inked a deal with London Records after less than ten gigs and a matter of months after forming they found their debut single, Smalltown Boy – the tale of a gay teenager having to flee his family and hometown on account of nobody accepting him for what he was) went Top 3 in the UK, The song which has all the inventiveness of Giorgio Moroder along with the pop-savvy touch of Human League and Heaven 17, had huge cross-over appeal and was loved by the hard-core gay militants, the indie-kids and the disco-divas with their handbags and stiletto heels in equal numbers.

As a follow-up, the band went real HI-NRG as Why? lyrically asked questions about anti-gay prejudices across society on the top of a tune that was tailor-made for radio and clubs. It reached #6 in the charts and still sounds remarkably fresh and lively more than 30 years on.

The third single was a cover version that was came after the release of the debut LP Age of Consent, a record that reached #4 in the album charts. It Ain’t Necessarily So originally dated back to 1935 having been co-written by George and Ira Gershwin as part of the opera Porgy and Bess. A lyrical attack on the authenticity of the stories in the bible, it certainly made for an interesting pre-Xmas single from Bronski Beat but still managed to climb to #15 in the charts and so round off a stunning year for the band who just 12 months earlier were complete unknowns.

And here’s all three of those single in their 12″ glory plus their b-sides:-

mp3 : Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
mp3 : Bronski Beat – Infatuation/Memories

mp3 : Bronski Beat – Why?
mp3 : Bronski Beat – Cadillac Car

mp3 : Bronski Beat – It Ain’t Necessarily So
mp3 : Bronski Beat – Close To The Edge
mp3 : Bronski Beat – Red Dance

Some of the production tricks to extend the tracks out into extended territory now sound a bit naff but I hope nonetheless that you’ll still enjoy them

PURCHASED FOR THE B-SIDE SOME 35 YEARS AGO

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Back in 1980, I bought a 12″ single by Grace Jones, simply for the B-side as it was a cover version of She’s Lost Control.

On first listen, I was appalled by it.  It didn’t appeal one iota to the musical snob in me. But after giving it some more spins on the stereo hi-fi over the following weeks, I eventually gave into its charms as I accepted for what it was – a radical cover version completely different from the original that had to be listened to and judged on its own merits.

As for the A-side, I think it probably took me about a month to get round to playing it.  This was an era when I had a fairly profitable paper round that made me around £15 a week, almost all of which was spent on records, and so I’d be buying things and not necessarily listening to them…a sad trait that continues to this day!!  But here’s the thing….I immediately fell in love with what I still consider to be a classic cover version of a track on the debut LP by The Pretenders.  I’ve read that Chrissie Hynde herself is also a huge fan of this version which in my mind, albeit I have a limited knowledge of the genre, is pop-reggae at its finest.

I don’t recall this being a hit but the records show that it did reach #17 in the UK singles charts which, back in 1980, added up to a fair number of sales.  It was also the only chart success enjoyed by Grace Jones until 1985 when Slave To The Rhythm went mega.

mp3 : Grace Jones – Private Life (Long Version)
mp3 : Grace Jones – She’s Lost Control (Long Version)

Enjoy

MIXING SCOTTISH POP AND BREWING TECHNIQUES

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Given yesterday’s posting referenced Joy Division Oven Gloves, this seems quite apt.

I was out socializing with Aldo the other week when he showed me the bottle of the brew that he was drinking.  It was called Hipsway.

‘As in the band?’, I asked him.

‘As in the band JC’, he replied.

And he wasn’t joking.

Williams Bros Brewing Company is a Scottish family owned microbrewery, based in Alloa, which is some 35 minutes north of Glasgow.  They’ve been on the go since 1988 and currently churn out around 30 different brews which they bottle or put in kegs and distribute across Scotland and beyond.  Aldo is a big fan of their stuff…

The company website says this:-

A great Glasgow band and a great name for a beer. We coax the amazing aromas out of some New Zealand and Slovenian hops, blend with an eclectic mix of light malts and cold condition on an infusion of cone hops mixed with freshly pressed strawberries. It has an ABV of 5.0% and under the tasting notes it claims

Taste: Malty, Strawberry, Zesty, Fruity
Colour: Gold, Slight Haze
Smell: Strawberry, Citrus Fruits, Peach, Pine

I can’t vouch for the sales pitch as I’m strictly a vodka man myself.

The company also have a bottle called The Honey Thief which, as all connoisseurs of 80s pop music will, tell you, was the one hit single that Hipsway enjoyed, reaching #17 in the spring of 1986.

Here’s the company blurb on that particular brew:-

A warm Golden Ale brewed with a blend of choice malts and hops to which we add a prepared infusion of honey and whole cone hops. The delicate sweet honey notes balance beautifully with the lemon and gooseberry aromas of our Cascade and Nelson Sauvin hops. It has an ABV of 5.2% and under the tasting notes it claims

Taste: Slightly Sweet Honey, Lemon, Citrus Fruits
Colour: Golden
Smell: Sweet, Straw, Citrus, Gooseberry

The really bizarre thing is that back in the early 90s a Hipsway song was used to advertise a particularly vile and cheap brand of Scottish lager whose name was also emblazoned across the jerseys of one of our most prominent football teams:-

I’m guessing the band members are a bit prouder of the newer association with bevvy.

mp3 : Hipsway – The Honeythief
mp3 : Hipsway – Tinder

Enjoy