THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (5)

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Echorich is a big supporter of this blog, and when I put the first of this series up back in January he left the following comment:-

“My favorite freebies will hopefully find their way to this series – NME’s Rough Trade C81, Dancin’ Master and Jive Wire cassettes. These three set the standard for me. This Mojo release is a good one for sure and I have to agree that when the brief is to cover a single artist/band or album, these freebies are the most successful.”

Happy to oblige amigo.

Side One

mp3 : Thompson Twins – In The Name Of Love
mp3 : David Gamson – No Turn On Red
mp3 : Leisure Process – Love Cascade
mp3 : Buzzz – Tonight’s Alright
mp3 : Pigbag – A Live Orangutango
mp3 : Aswad – Ghetto In The Sky
mp3 : Scritti Politti – Asylums In Jerusalem
mp3 : The Beat – Get A Job / Stand Down Margaret
mp3 : Gil Scott-Heron – B-Movie

Side Two

mp3 : Suicide – Dream Baby Dream
mp3 : Kraftwerk – Das Model
mp3 : Altered Images – Happy Birthday
mp3 : Theatre of Hate – Dreams Of Poppies
mp3 : The Gun Club – Ghost On The Highway
mp3 : Tav Falco’s Panther Burns – Ms. Froggy
mp3 : Black Uhuru – Happiness
mp3 : Defunkt – Illusions
mp3 : Rip Rig & Panic – Billy Eckstein’s Shirt Collar
mp3 : Carmel – Storm
mp3 : Vic Godard & Subway Sect – Just In Time
mp3 : Pablo – Madaleina

mp3 : Hidden track (rap/hip hop ad for NME)

It’s a real ragtag of a compilation and I’d be surprised if anyone who sent away for it (this was another of the NME mail-order offers) would have liked all 21 tracks.

There were bona-fide chart smashes with Altered Images and Kraftwerk (albeit the tape has the original German lyric for The Model). Politics was represented on both sides of the Atlantic with the still wonderful sounding Gil Scott Heron‘s attack on Reaganomics and The Beat‘s live medley that reflected life under Thatcher. There was music to swung your hips to and in particular David Gamson giving an early indication of the pop-style he would bring to later material from the then uber-indie Scritti Politti, and not forgetting a little bit of easy listening jazz that the style mags of the time were telling us would be dominating our listening habits for the rest of the decade – step forward Ms Carmel McCourt.

There’s also a couple of things that are soooooooo 80s and of their time – Leisure Process and The Thompson Twins stand accused and found guilty (although in the case of the former they get let off as they feature the bloke who was the lead singer in Glasgow new wavers Positive Noise).

Reggae, rockabilly and easy listening are also represented while there’s a couple of songs that were and remain, to my ears, just unlistenable – I’m talking in particular about Rip Rig and Panic and Defunkt. Oh and the hidden gem on the tape is the song by The Gun Club.

I kind of get the feeling that this was a tape in which every NME staffer got to choose one song or act that they were listening to at the time and as a result it is more disjointed than most.  But it does have about half a dozen that have stood up to the test of passing time….

Enjoy.

DRENCHED…..A GUEST POSTING FROM S-WC

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Whilst I am was in the States last week I was taken out around Chicago by a new colleague (Hi Chip, if you are reading, yup an American called Chip, I also have a German friend called Fritz, and a French colleague called Pascal). We were sitting in a bar playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’, which if you have never played I totally recommend, that is, if you like your humour to be puerile, immature and slightly dodgy – which sadly I do. Anyway, Chip turns to me and says ‘Do you Like Live music?’ – and I’m like, ‘Yeah, a bit’ – I was playing it cool, I wanted to jump up and down and shout ‘YEAH!’

Around the corner was a club called Metro, and that very night playing at the venue was a band called Criminal Hygiene, and according to Chip they have a bit of a buzz about them. I finished my pint of warm beer and say ‘What do they sound like?’, ‘Shall we go and find out’ Chip says. Definitely.

$6 is what it costs to get in, and, within about half an hour I have had another pint of warm beer plus an additional one thrown in my face, bearing in mind I am standing near the back this is quite an achievement. I don’t see that many bands live anymore, not in tiny venues that smell like sweat and stale beer, anyway, I’m too old, and I have a two year old daughter to look after. However in venues like this, in a town you don’t know, surrounded by strangers, watching a band, that forty minutes previous, you have never heard of, bands seem incredible.

Criminal Hygiene are very good live, they play a garage rock racket, kind of punky but in a good way. They kind of sound like The Replacements, although a more recent comparison would be Parquet Courts or perhaps The Orwells (see last weeks missive). Their show is pretty rock and roll, smashed instruments, clearly drunk band members inviting the audience on to the stage for an impromptu jam, that sort of thing. Its bloody brilliant. Especially at the start when the singer jumps on the stage and shouts ‘Let’s fucking Do this’. I read later back in the comfort of my hotel that the singer of Criminal Hygiene has false front teeth due to the fact that he smacked his fact on a skateboard when much younger. Respect.

At the end I retreat to the bar and about two minutes later Chip comes over drenched in sweat, his Tshirt is ripped but he has a heck of a smile on his face. ‘That was pretty badass’ he says. I agree, hoping that badass means good. Its about one in morning when we leave the club, I sigh knowing that in about six hours’ time I have to go to the airport and suffer more jet lag. Yet I will go with a smile, a tired, slightly badass smile perhaps.

mp3 : Criminal Hygiene – Turpentine
mp3 : Parquet Courts – Stoned and Starving

And just because of how my friend looked at the end of the gig

mp3 : Hot Chip – Dark and Stormy

S-WC

A THING OF UNCLUTTERED BEAUTY (BEAUTIFULLY REMIXED)

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It was just last September that I took a look back at the single Tiny Children, the third to be lifted the 1981 LP Wilder from The Teardrop Explodes.

I offered the opinion that it deserved a much better fate than merely hitting #44 in the charts given that it was a gorgeous lullaby, delivered with a real degree of fragility by Julian Cope whose vocal is quite lovely, even if he does at times appear to be at the edge of his range.

Ctel, the brains and talents behind the ridiculously good Acid Ted blog, is one of my dearest and oldest cybernet friends and he obviously took note of that posting as he dropped me an email the other week with a link to a remix of the song. A remix that I’m sure you’ll agree is every bit as wonderful as the original:-

mp3 : The Teardrop Explodes – Tiny Children (parjo01 re-edit)

Enjoy.

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 7 of 48)

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For a whole bunch of complicated and related reasons, I sort of lost touch with new music from late 1986 through to early 1990. Thankfully, I’ve been able to plug many of the gaps in my musical knowledge thanks in the main to my dear friend Jacques The Kipper who supplied me with all sorts of C90 cassettes over many years chock-full of great tunes that had passed me by.

By the time I had even heard of Close Lobsters, they had come and gone, breaking up in 1989 and leaving behind a body of work that consisted of 2 LPs and 6 singles. Indeed, the first time I ever got to listen to any of their songs was when The Wedding Present did a cover version on a b-side.

The band formed back in 1985 in Johnstone, which is a small town a few miles to the south-west of Glasgow with a line-up of Andrew Burnett, Bob Burnett, Tom Donnelly, Stuart McFadyen and Graham Wilmington.   One of their songs – Firestation Towers – was included on the original C86 tape and this lead to a deal with Fire Records as well as a major support slot to Jesus & Mary Chain. Bob Burnett left after only a couple of singles and was replaced on bass guitar by Paul Bennett.

It was talking to folk in a pub one night in the early 90s about my recently discovered love of TWP (it took me until the single Kennedy in 1989) that mention was made of Close Lobsters and a couple of folk said they were best described as the Caledonian Weddoes. Intrigued, I tried to track down some of their songs, but wasn’t successful as they had been released on a record label which weren’t the best for re-stocking when a shop had sold out.

So for a number of years it was only through their songs appearing on compilation CDs that I picked up their song….until the advent of ebay which saw some folk sell vinyl copies of the albums and singles.

It is true that their sound was unmistakably of its era….and yes, there’s an awful lot of musical similarity between Close Lobsters and The Wedding Present. Neither of these are things that count against the band.

The song on CD86 is what sounds like an earlier mix and version of the opening track on their debut LP:-

mp3 : Close Lobsters – Just Too Bloody Stupid (CD86 version)

I actually think the LP version is superior:-

mp3 : Close Lobsters – Just Too Bloody Stupid (album version)

In the absence of a b-side to a single I thought I’d offer the bonus of the tremendous track after which the debut LP was named:-

mp3 : Close Lobsters – Foxheads

In March 2012 they came back together to play indie festivals in Madrid and Berlin as well as what can only be described as a triumphant gig in Glasgow where the clock was well and truly turned back. Last year, the band played the Copenhagen Popfest and released rather splendid new material via an E.P. called Kunstwerk in Spacetime which picked up just about exactly where the boys had left off 25 years earlier….

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #2 : ABERFELDY

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There were many who had high hopes for Aberfeldy.

Theis Edinburgh-based band (and named after a rather picturesque small town in Scotland) first came to prominence back in 2004 when two very well received and singles and a subsequent debut LP entitled Young Forever were released on Rough Trade. They were a charming sounding band with the three blokes on vocals/guitar, bass and drums (Riley Briggs, Ken McIntosh and Ian Stoddard) augmented by a high reliance on the keyboard, violin and harmonising skills of its two female members (Ruth Barrie and Sarah McFadyen).

They made some early inroads into the indie charts and then a third single – Love Is An Arrow – was released in early 2005 and thanks in part to a cutesy animated video that enjoyed heavy rotation on MTV here in the UK, the single reached #60 on the mainstream charts. In fact, there was every chance it could have gone Top 40 except Rough Trade underestimated the demand and hadn’t pressed enough copies.

There was an audience for the sort of music Aberfeldy were making as evidenced by the chart success of The Magic Numbers with who they shared a lot of traits. In late 2005, another lovely little single in the shape of Summer’s Gone was released but it didn’t have the impact hoped for.

The following year the band took their sounds out on the road to mainstream audiences thanks to a series of high-profile support slots across the UK and Europe and there was a very favourable critical reception to the July 2006 release of their second LP Do Whatever Turns You On. But to the surprise of many, the band were dropped by Rough Trade before the year was out.

Much of 2007 was spent on the road in difficult and strange circumstances – no record deal but with the old single Summer’s Gone having been licensed for use in a number of TV commercials throughout the world, they had as high a profile as they ever had. And then, towards the end of the year the band suffered a dreadful blow with the departure of the two female members in somewhat acrimonious circumstances.

They were replaced with new recruits and this fleshed out six-piece band ended 2007 with two sell-out gigs in their home city and high expectations for a new deal to be inked early into the new year. Instead, it took until October 2008 for any new material to appear and it was in the shape of a 45 entitled Come On Claire on 17 Seconds Records, a new and ultimately short-lived venture from Ed Jupp who had initially dipped his toes into the music business via the excellent 17 Seconds blog (which is still going strong today).

Aberfeldy stayed busy on the road and in the studio but those of us who had high hopes a few years back knew deep down that their chance had come and gone. The release in late 2010 of a third LP – Somewhere To Jump From – this time on Tenement Records, was met with almost complete indifference.

I don’t listen all that much to the band nowadays but I’ve enough of their songs on the i-phone for them to pop up randomly every few months and I do like hearing them. Here’s the closest they got to the big time:-

mp3 : Aberfeldy – Love Is An Arrow

Enjoy

A BRAND NEW PAUL QUINN AND EDWYN COLLINS SONG!!

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It was almost 30 years ago that BBC Radio 1 recorded and then broadcast a session from Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins on the Richard Skinner Show. The session was recorded on 5th August 1984 and broadcast on 20th August 1984.

Up until the other day, the only copies of the session kicking around were descended from homemade cassettes where those smart enough had listened with their fingers poised over the pause button. As you can imagine the quality of the recordings weren’t great not helped by the deterioration of the actual tape over the years.

As I said….up until the other day…..for hasn’t the wonderful and amazing and worth every penny of the license fee BBC not just gone and re-broadcast the session in magical digital quality on 6 Music.

Not only that, but the search of the archives and tapes uncovered a song that hadn’t gone out as part of the 20th August broadcast. Talk about finding lost treasure……….

I’ve learned all this thanks to an e-mail from the Proprietor of The Punk Rock Hotel, a man who more than any keeps the flame burning on behalf of who I consider to be the greatest Scottish vocal talent of my generation.

The musicians involved in the session were:-

Paul Quinn – vocals/keyboards
Edwyn Collins – guitar/backing vocals
Chris Bell – drums
Craig Gannon – guitar
Paul Heard – bass

The four songs that were originally broadcast consisted of two Quinn/Collins compositions (including a song that was subsequently released under Paul’s name only as Edwyn had contractual issues preventing him being formally recognised) and two cover versions (one of this Mike Nesmith song while the other had previously been recorded by Orange Juice).

The fifth and previously never heard song was another cover – of this Bee Gees song dating back to 1968.

So without any further delay:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins – Different Drum
mp3 : Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins – Ain’t That Always The Way
mp3 : Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins – It Had To Happen
mp3 : Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins – Louise, Louise
mp3 : Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins – I Started A Joke

Ah…….but here’s a really peculiar and mysterious thing that is bemusing both myself and The Proprietor……

The versions of Different Drum and Ain’t That Always The Way that went out on 6 Music the other night do not appear to be those originally broadcast back in 1984.

The cassette copy from back in the day quite clearly has someone playing harmonica on these two tracks and this is an instrument absent from the cleaned up and digitized versions.  It is also worth noting that on the hissy cassette version of Different Drum you hear Richard Skinner introducing the song and the band….so that was clearly the version broadcast in 1984….and as I say it is completely different from that broadcast in 2015.  Have a listen to realise I’m not just gibbering:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins – Different Drum (cassette recording)
mp3 : Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins – Ain’t That Always The Way (cassette recording)

Peculiar??? Most certainly……………

But notwithstanding this mystery, what an absolute pleasure it is to hear the clarity of these updated recordings and of course the fact that 31 years on, there is a new Paul Quinn/Edwyn Collins song to enjoy.

I’m not sure if anything else released in the rest of 2015 will excite me this much.

BILLY MACKENZIE RARITIES….COURTESY OF SID LAW (6)

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In 1996 Billy was in London trying to get a record deal. Epic and Nude were both interested and while the fine detail and deal was sorted out, Billy had been recording a vocal for yet another collaboration. This time it was with those epic progsters Apollo Four Forty.

Already well-known for their remix and production work on everyone from U2 to The Moody Boys, they had ditched the extended exploration of cryogenic preservation evidenced on their “Millenium Fever” debut LP in 1994 (do check it out – I love it!) to create a sample-icious follow up album “Electra Glide In Blue”, but they needed someone to do a kind of “Billy MacKenzie” style performance on a tune called “Pain In Any Language”. There was only one person to get in for the job.

Top @440 dudester Noko described how “up” Billy was “about the whole thing”. It was the last song Billy wrote, recorded and completed in his life. It is a career highpoint and in a bitter twist turned out to be Billy’s swansong.

mp3 : Billy Mackenzie /Apollo 440 – Pain In Any Language

There is a tiny wee clip of Billy in “The Glamour Chase” documentary showing Billy laughing and having a cup of tea during the recording session with Apollo Four Forty. He looks full of beans. When Nude signed a deal with Billy in late 1996, Apollo Four Forty were given the nod to produce four tracks for Billy’s album for Nude. Listen to this track and imagine what an album that could have been. It was never made.

Sid Law

And that, dear readers, brings an end to what has been a truly wonderful series and one that was I honoured and humbled to have hosted on T(n)VV.  Thank you so much Sid.  Please feel free to share more treasures with us.

SOME SONGS JUST NEVER DATE

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The opening few notes of this must be among the most recognisable of all time:-

mp3 : Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

I can still recall the very first time I ever heard this.  It was the opening song on a cassette made up by Jacques the Kipper. It was a time when every six weeks or so, we would thrust a tape into each others hands along with set of cryptic clues for each song, and challenge the other, not just to identify the track, but also offer a few observations.

His clue for the opening song was ‘Vodka’. Sheer genius if you ask me…..the boy should have become a copywriter with an advertising agency.

I loved the song then and I love it still.  I put it at #11 in my all time 45s rundown back in 2008 and it would still feature just as highly if I was to re-run that exercise today. ( much of the rest of this posting is adapted from that particular piece over at the old blog with a few additions)

This song is  about as far removed as you could ever imagine from the jingly-jangly stuff that I listened to so much over the previous decade, and it could almost be classified as the dreaded stadium rock. And yet….

There’s just something very special and outstanding about Smells Like Teen Spirit that is difficult to pinpoint. I can’t argue that it’s anything unlike you’d ever heard before, given that it has a riff that is very similar (some say identical) to More Than A Feeling by 70s soft-rockers Boston. Nor is there a case to be made that the vocals are completely different from other folk given that Kurt Cobain’s style of quiet/shout/quiet/shout was something you heard from Black Francis on many Pixies songs. And yet…

The song did seem to arrive like a bolt out of the blue. Yes, there had been some coverage in the UK music papers about some sort of scene based around the city of Seattle, but how many times before had we read about a scene in Chicago, New York, LA, San Francisco or any other American city that had petered out before it crossed the Atlantic. But then Nirvana came across to the UK to promote Nevermind. There was a live appearance on an early evening chat-show on Channel 4 hosted by Jonathan Ross. He introduced the band who went straight into a heavy-metal riff, and then Kurt took over on a completely indecipherable lyric that was a low-moan or a scream…

In the middle of the tune, he sang the words, ‘Just Because You’re Paranoid Don’t Mean That They’re After You’. Then he started screaming again. The song finished in a flurry of feedback not seen in any TV studio since the heyday of Jesus And Mary Chain, before the drums were kicked over and the band stormed off to muted applause and a bemused chat show host who had his finger in his ear. Jonathan Ross than, in a brilliant piece of improvisation said ‘That was Nirvana – doing a song that none of us were expecting. They’ve asked me to mention that they are available for children’s parties and bar mitzvahs…’

It was a truly astonishing piece of TV, and the most ‘punk’ thing I had seen in years, and I knew right then that Nirvana were the genuine article. (The song they played was Territorial Pissings). It was the sort of thing that won’t happen nowadays as prime-time TV live shows are no longer really live and bands won’t behave in that way for fear of upsetting the label bosses.

Of course it all went badly wrong almost immediately, and the band nowadays seem to be loved and admired more for the dead rock star syndrome rather than anything else. The fact that it all ended before there could be any critical backlash or before they fell out of fashion, means that there are very few reasons why music historians and commentators can ever make critical comments about Nirvana, other than be horrified at some of the copy-cat acts that came in their wake. But that’s just nonsensical – you never read anyone blaming The Beatles for every single four-piece band that’s walked the planet since 1963 do you?

Here’s the other tracks on the CD single:-

mp3 : Nirvana – Drain You
mp3 : Nirvana – Even In His Youth
mp3 : Nirvana – Aneurysm

The back of the single provides details of a promotional tour in 1991:-

November 26 : Bradford University
November 27 : Birmingham Hummingbird
November 28 : Sheffield University
November 29 : Edinburgh Calton Studios
November 30 : Glasgow QMU
December 2 : Newcastle Mayfair
December 3 : Nottingham Rock City
December 4 : Manchester Academy
December 5 : London Kilburn National Ballroom
December 9 : Belfast Conor Hall
December 10 : Dublin McGonagle’s

A few thousand people struck gold with tickets on that tour.

I never did get to see the band live on stage. Mrs Villain and myself had tickets for a Glasgow gig that never happened.1_9dd166a5f6b0d3ce81e3ebee11e5c6f8

It was initially cancelled as Kurt Cobain had been unwell and was re-scheduled for later in the year but as we all know, the singer committed suicide on 6 April 1994.  The £12 was obviously needed for something else as I  immediately went back in for my refund, but Mrs V kept her ticket as a memento. Seems she was the clever one as she would get far more than its face value if she was to put it on e-bay.

(Incidentally, that’s not an image of Mrs V’s ticket…just one I lifted from the internet)

 

YAAAAWWWWN. A GUEST POSTING FROM S-WC

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Nope….I’m not being rude.

S-WC used the word ‘Yawn’ in the title of his e-mail.  Here’s the rest of his whimsical words:-

Jet lag. Wonderful thing. Its about three am, I am in a place called Dayton in the United States of America, which for those of you who don’t know, is in Ohio. I have been here for five hours, and have had about twenty minutes sleep. The whole place is unsurprisingly quiet. I’m really hungry as well which is not helping my mood. There is an all night shop down the road, but it looks quite ‘edgy’ so I’ve raided the mini bar. I say mini bar, it had some peanuts, a small warm bottle of water, some ‘chips’ and a shoe horn in it. The shoe horn was a bit rubbery but strangely tasty. For some reason still unknown to me, the Americans don’t do kettles or tea bags. Christ there is not even a gym. There is a bar, but its shut.

So then I looked at the info they leave in the room so you can get your bearings, saying that I appear to be on the 11th floor in the biggest hotel in the area, I might just be able to find my way around. However, Dayton appears to have lots of museums, a University Campus and that’s about it. Down the road, is a suburb called Kettering. My fingers are crossed that it is more lively as the UK equivalent. Apparently the Steve Miller Band played there once, so there is hope. Once when on an overnight stop in the UK version of Kettering I went to the town centre to find something to do in the evening, I managed to pick up a ‘What’s On in Kettering’ leaflet and it just said ‘Fuck All’.

So as I sit there wide awake in the sixth biggest city in Ohio, ‘the Gem City’ (named after a racehorse and not, you know, jewels) I reached for my ipod. I was trying not to as I listened to it much of the way over on the flight, but if needs must.

The weird thing about music is that is somehow, in the strangest or simplest of situations, it can lift a mood. By the end of the first track I was feeling slightly better, and I was smiling by the end of track two and track three made me do a little jig around the small box room I was in.

I now think that, you know, this place ain’t so bad, I arrived safely, the family are well back home, my luggage wasn’t lost. As I type now, I feel calm – the sun is being to rise across the skyline and this being America I can look forward to a heck of a breakfast, consisting of waffles, blueberries and maple syrup. I’ve also spied a Krusty Kreme Doughnut shop from the window, about a five minute walk in the other direction from the dodgy all night shop. Bonus. Also I get to go to Chicago on Sunday, so I should probably cut my whinging.

So here are the first three songs on the iPod this morning. I thank them for lifting me out of a rubbish mood. Its also a little odd how iPods have this habit of picking songs that suit the situation.

mp3 : Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence
mp3 : Dracula Legs – Heartburn Destination
mp3 : The Orwells – Blood Bubbles

S-WC

READ IT IN BOOKS : HARRY PAPADOPOULOS

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I rarely get any satisfaction from books that are simply filled with illustrations or photographs. It usually needs a decent narrative to keep me happy or satisfied. But not What Presence! : The Rock Photography of Harry Papadopoulos.

The re-kindling of the interest in Harry’s work was initially sparked off by an exhibition that was held in a Glasgow gallery between December 2011 and February 2012.  It was an exhibition that I was drawn to time and time again….and every time I paid a visit I found myself changing my mind about what was my favourite photo.  Here’s what was written to publicise that particular exhibition:-

Harry began his photographic career in his Glasgow home town, standing outside the Apollo, flogging gig-goers newly-developed shots from bands’ Edinburgh shows the night before. Harry’s impulse to guerilla lensmanship swiftly drew him to London: from 1979 to 1984 he was a staff photographer for the music weekly Sounds, providing countless front covers. During those five years, Harry’s photographs covered the post-punk waterfront, from Blondie to David Bowie; the Associates to Devo by way of Joy Division, Bryan Ferry, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Birthday Party, The Cramps, The Clash, Altered Images, Penetration, The Specials and Suicide (not to mention Wham!, ABC and Spandau Ballet).

At that time, Harry’s London flat also became home to fellow Scots migrants like Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Josef K and the Bluebells. Harry thus became one of the first few photographers to capture the fey arrogance of Edwyn Collins and his Postcard cohorts and subsequently appeared in the Derek Jarman video for ‘What Presence’. Several of these photos comprise Harry’s first career retrospective at Street Level Photoworks.

In addition to the expected band portraits and live-action front-row shots, there are a host of unique photos: salute the militant gay triumvirate of Jimmy Somerville, Tom Robinson and Andy Bell as they march for homosexual equality. Savour Peter Capaldi – years before he learnt to swear and mutated into Malcolm Tucker – looking cute and wholesome as bow-tied front man of Glasgow band The Dreamboys (with favourite US late-night chat show host, Craig Ferguson on drums). Taste the flying mud, baying skinheads and noxious aroma at T In The Park’s ill-fated grandsire, the 1980 Loch Lomond Festival. The exhibition will be accompanied by guest writers and events documenting the Post Punk explosion in Glasgow in an era when the city’s musicians were a focus of the global music industry.

The exhibition is co-curated by Ken McCluskey.

That’s the basics. The full story behind the exhibition hid a sad story that Harry had suffered a brain aneurysm in 2002 and had come home to Glasgow in 2006. One of the city’s pop stars – Ken McCluskey of The Bluebells learned this a couple of years later from a chance encounter with Harry’s brother who just happened to be doing some electrical work in Ken’s house.

Ken paid a visit to Harry and found that his house had thousands of negatives and images just lying about in cardboard boxes and bags, some of which were the worse for wear.  Harry’s poor health was such that  he was about to move into a care home and so Ken took on a mission to salvage and digitize the negatives, a process that took the best part of a year. He then took the results to a curator whose expert eye very quickly concluded that the work was very worthy of an exhibition.

As I said earlier, I went along a few times to the exhibition.  It wasn’t just great photos that made it such a joy but the reproductions of magazine and fanzine covers that stirred so many memories.  I bought a few momentos from that particular exhibition, including packs of postcard sized photos containing some of my favourite shots. There was an opportunity to purchase larger sized limited edition prints but I wanted them all and couldn’t justify the expense. If only someone would curate a book.

In April 2013 my prayers were answered and my wee brother arranged to give me a copy for my 50th birthday.

The book is a real joy. It has a cover whose colours pay homage to the Sex Pistols debut LP and it has contents that take me back to that time when music was the most important thing in my life and when I couldn’t imagine it being any different. It is also a reminder that I fell in love with so many musicians not simply as a result of the sounds they made but for the way they looked, how they dressed and the attitude they had on stage and in real life.

It’s 120 pages long and regrettably it only captures a fraction of the images that were on display at the 2011/12 exhibition but I’m guessing the cost of a larger book would have been prohibitive – there’s a certain quality production level essential for books of this nature to make them worthwhile in the first instance.  The foreword from Peter Capaldi captures perfectly what makes the book so worthwhile:-

“Nowadays celebrity photography is ubiquitous and strangely anonymous, but here we have a collection of photographs that succeed time and time again in getting to the heart of the subjects and giving us a glimpse of the youthful dreamers behind all the noise.”

The book also enables Ken McCluskey to flesh out Harry’s life story a little bit more with the reminder that his home in London, shared with fellow photographer Robert Sharp along with Edwyn Collins and Grace Maxwell, was nicknamed The House of Camp and was where so many musicians from Scotland bedded down for the night when they ventured down to the capital for a gig.  I’m sure a separate book could be written about the nonsense that happened within its four walls and back garden such as the time when it became the location for a fantastic pop video directed by Derek Jarman:-

 

Harry has a cameo in the video – he’s the fully clothed hipster in the bath!!

My decision to review the book today was partly inspired by a comment from Charity Chic in the Billy Mackenzie posting last week as he mentioned Harry’s work was on display eight miles down the road from Glasgow in Paisley. (It was also partly inspired by a wee tale I’ve told in the footnote…)

The Paisley exhibition closed yesterday. I didn’t manage to get myself along and I’m annoyed with myself for that. But I’ve a feeling it won’t be too long before it pops up again, whether here in Glasgow or nearby.

Here’s three of excellent examples of Harry’s work with songs to accompany them:-

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mp3 : The Birthday Party – Release The Bats

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mp3 : The Clash – Janie Jones

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mp3 : Blondie – Rip Her To Shreds

A wee footnote to all this.

Last week, Mrs V asked me if, during my blogging activities, I’d come across the name of Harry Papadopoulos. When I asked back what prompted the question she told me his name had come up in conversation with two sisters (Rena and Maria) who she bumps into and chats to every Sunday when she goes for a post-walk/jog beverage in a posh tea room in a nearby park. Turns out the sisters are second cousins of Harry and they are proud of his legacy of work….sometimes Glasgow feels like a village.

A second wee footnote…..

Great minds think alike!!

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 6 of 48)

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Mighty Mighty were one of the bands who featured on C86. Their contribution to the cassette was a song called Law which eventually saw an official release as a b-side in 1987.

After releasing two singles in 1986 on their own Girlie Records, the band moved to a slightly bigger indie label in Chapter 22 for whom they would release four singles and one album before calling it a day in early 1988.

They certainly didn’t lack a sense of humour with lead vocalist Hugh Harkin once saying during an interview that the difference between Mighty Mighty and The Smiths was that “they write two-minute pop songs and we write three-minute pop songs”.

The song that appears on CD 86 was their debut for Girlie Records and it reached the giddy heights of #34 in the Indie Chart:-

mp3 : Mighty Mighty – Everybody Knows The Monkey

And here’s yer b-side:-

mp3 : Mighty Mighty – You’re On My Mind

While the a-side is very reminiscent of the sort of sound that would propel Inspiral Carpets to fame just a few years later the b-side is just about the nearest thing you can get to an Edwyn Collins/Orange Juice soundalike winner.  And I gave it an immediate thumbs-up on my first listen as I put this post together.

Mighty Mighty reformed briefly in 2009/10 to play at Indietracks in the UK and at Popfest in Berlin. In 2012, Cherry Red Records issued a compilation double CD that captured everything they had recorded, including material that had been intended for the sophomore album.

Enjoy.