NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 19 of 48)

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A repeat post from exactly one year ago today:-

If you own a mint copy of today’s single, then make sure you continue to look after it lovingly. And maybe think about adding it to an insurance policy.

The first ever single release on Sarah Records was by The Sea Urchins. From wiki:-

The initial line-up of The Sea Urchins was James Roberts (vocals), Simon Woodcock (guitar), Robert Cooksey (guitar), Mark Bevin (bass), Bridget Duffy (tambourine, organ), and Patrick Roberts (drums).  Their first two releases were flexi discs given away with fanzines in 1987.  Bevin soon left, to be replaced by Darren Martin.

Their “Pristine Christine” single was the first Sarah Records release, and is highly coveted among vinyl record collectors. With the following year’s double-A-side “Solace”/”Please Rain Fall” they began to show more mod-rock influences. Both singles were successful in indie terms, but Sarah Records were unwilling to commit to an album, and Duffy and Martin left.

Woodcock took over on bass, with James Roberts adding guitar. The band released one more single for Sarah (“A Morning Oddyssey” in 1990), but disagreements about the next single saw them move on to Cheree Records, who issued “Please Don’t Cry” in 1991. The band split up in summer 1991.  Two albums were subsequently released; Sarah Records issued a compilation of the band’s material for the label, including the flexi-disc tracks, as Stardust in 1992, while Fierce Recordings issued a live album in 1994.

James Roberts, Cooksey, and Woodcock later formed the band Delta.  James Roberts, Patrick Roberts, and Robert Cooksey also formed The Low Scene.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the record is ‘highly coveted’ with the copies copy on Discogs having an asking price of over £250.  I don’t own a copy, and while it would be nice to, I’m happy enough that I have the song via one of the many CD86 style compilation CDs that have been released over the years:-

mp3 : The Sea Urchins – Pristine Christine

On thing to note is just how young all the band members were at the time this single was released – all of them were with just 17 or 18 years of age.  When I look around today at similarly aged kids of a number of friends, I find it a scary thought that such fresh and innocent faces would be  capable of such works of class.

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And here’s the two completely gorgeous b-sides to said precious single:-

mp3 : Sea Urchins – Sullen Eyes
mp3 : Sea Urchins – Everglades

All in all, a fabulous three tracks with which to introduce yourselves to the world.  Deserved to be a mainstream pop success.

Enjoy

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #14 : ARMOURY SHOW

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The Skids had broken up back in early 1982 and the solo career of Richard Jobson had stalled. Two years on, and still only 24 years of age, he decided to try again and formed The Armoury Show with his mate Russell Webb (ex Skids) and John McGeoch and John Doyle both of whom had been integral to the sound of Magazine.

On paper it had a lot going for it but the three early singles – Castles In Spain, We Can Be Brave Again and Glory Of Love failed to hit the spot with the record buying public.  All three tracks were included on debut LP Waiting For The Floods in September 1985 while Castles In Spain was re-released on the back of some high-profile TV appearances and support slots for well-know bands.  All to no avail.

Two more singles followed in early 87 before the band called it a day.

Maybe the world wasn’t quite ready for a mid80s era Simple Minds tribute act….which may sound harsh but have a listen to this track from their one album to see what I’m getting at:-

mp3 : The Armoury Show – Kyrie

Enjoy.

 

 

 

I-POD FRIDAY

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SW-C has been back in touch re his i-pod Friday which takes place today. I hope none of his work colleagues read this as it will only spoil the surprise(s)

Ipod Fridays

So in the end I made a decision…I wanted to portray a message in the music that I selected. So with a selection of cover versions and some other tracks I spelt that message out.

I’m also turning my Ipod Friday into a quiz featuring a solitary question, I’m offering the prize of a Mars Bar for whoever gets closest. Here is the question: –

How many cover versions are there in my forty songs?

So here is the set list – and go on then – folks how many cover versions are there in this list (JC you are banned from entering as you know the answer), the closest guess gets a special prize which will be revealed later, I appreciate its hard without hearing all the tracks though. Oh and if anyone wants to take a guess at the message I was telling people, then please feel free to comment.

Dandy Warhols – Primary
Alabama 3 – Speed of the Sound of Loneliness
Vaccines – The Winner Takes It all
I Monster – Daydream In Blue
Dinosaur Jr – Just Like Heaven
Carter USM – Down In the Tube Station at Midnight
Azealia Banks – Harlem Shake
Major Lazer – Halo
Eels – Get Ur Freak On
Radiohead – Nobody Does It Better
Oasis – I am the Walrus
Number One Cup – Joe the Lion
Rolling Stones – Not Fade Away
Exlovers – Wicked Game
Angel Haze – Doo Wop (That Thing)
Levellers – The Devil Went Down to Georgia
Lemonheads – How Will I Know?
Yung – Imaginary Calls
Interpol – Specialist
Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Alt – J – Lovely Day
Flaming Lips – Can’t Get You Out of My Head
Ultrasound – Fame Thing
Chromatics – Ceremony
Kaiser Chiefs – Golden Skans
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Black Mountain
New Fast Automatic Daffodails – Big
Girls Names – Zero Triptych
Astrid – Redground
Nai Harvest – Sick On My Heart
New Order – Blue Monday
Of Montreal – Fell In Love With A Girl
Yazoo – Situation
Idlewild – American English
New Kingdom – Mexico Or Bust
Glamorous Hooligan – Stoned Island Estate
Concretes – Miss You
Ultra Vivid Scene – Mercy Seat
Nirvana – All Apologies
Tilly and the Wall – Night of the Living Dead

As usual any comments you want to make about any of the choices are more than welcome.

mp3 : Dandy Warhols – Primary
mp3 : Vaccines – The Winner Takes It All
mp3 : Carter USM – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
mp3 : Radiohead – Nobody Does It Better
mp3 : Interpol – Specialist
mp3 : Lemonheads – How Will I Know?
mp3 : Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix of Two Halves)
mp3 : Flaming Lips – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
mp3 : Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Black Mountain
mp3 : Glamorous Hooligan – Stoned Island Estate
mp3 : Concretes – Miss You

S-WC

THE ALTERED IMAGES SINGLES (4)

i_could_be_happy The huge success of Happy Birthday was more than maintained with the fourth single from Altered Images. I Could Be Happy, a brand new song, was almost like a nursery rhyme in its structure as Clare reels off three unrelated things that make her feel good about life – climbing a tall tree, heading over the sea to Skye or going for a lengthy dip in the River Nile.

But it turns out that she doesn’t want to do any of these things just for any sheer unadulterated joy; nope, these are all on her radar to let her bring a relationship to an end. It was, tune wise, also just about the simplest thing they had written and recorded so far and, thanks to a very crisp and clear production from Martin Rushent, it was unashamedly pop in its approach and style with the aim of getting regular radio play.

It was a record that had the feel and sound of a summer record and yet it was released in the depths of winter at the beginning of December 1981 at a time when the big hit single was still riding high in the charts. None of this mattered as I Could Be Happy proved to be every bit as enduring, spending twelve weeks in the charts including nine successive weeks in the Top 30, helped no doubt by some Top of the Pops appearances in which viewers could not have done anything other than be enchanted by Claire.  The single was released in 7″ and 12″ form.

7″

mp3 : Altered Images – I Could Be Happy

mp3 : Altered Images – Insects

As I mentioned the other week in the Saturday series, I’m a huge fan of Insects which is one of their most enduring songs; and depsite being one of their most ‘Banshees by numbers’ efforts it was Rushent and not Severin who was in the producer’s chair.

12″

mp3 : Altered Images – I Could Be Happy (extended)

mp3 : Altered Images – Disco Pop Stars

The use of 12″ vinyl to offer extended and remixed versions of the three minute pop single was becoming increasingly popular around this time. More often than not the extended versions didn’t work all that well and seemed to take aWay from the radio friendly versions – the likes of Soft Cell were very much an exception as they managed somehow to turn the 12″ single into an art form. Altered Images weren’t the worst offenders though and the 12″ of I Could Be Happy is bearable.

The bonus track on the 12″ made me laugh out loud at the time and still does. It’s a band re-production of the sinister flop debut single but in a way that makes it instantly disposable. And it’s not been down in any shape or form that would see it put on the turntables of any discotheque that I can think of.

Oh and I’d like to dedicate today’s post to Carlo Zanotti. Many thanks for your kind words of encouragement and appreciation the other night at the Belle & Sebastian post-gig bash at The Admiral.

Enjoy

IN PRAISE OF….. DENMARK

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Another quality and imaginative contribution from S-WC.

In a few weeks’ time Mrs S-WC, Princess S-WC and I are heading off to Copenhagen for a few days to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’m not that fussed about being 40, its just another year after all but last night Mrs S-WC dropped the surprise trip on me and now I am really looking forward to going to Denmark and celebrating my 40th in a place that I’ve never been to there before. I have read nothing but good reviews of the place and Copenhagen is supposed to be one of the most child friendly cities on the planet. It also happens to be the home of one of the best music scenes on the planet and all the time I spent endlessly waffling on about the ‘Danish Scene’ appears not to have been wasted. She was pretending to be completely uninterested, how do women do that?

So let’s rewind back to 2011 and if like me you are in anyway interested in indie rock then you would have probably stumbled across New Brigade the debut LP by four Copenhagen teenagers called Iceage. This record singlehandedly put Danish indie rock on the map. ‘New Brigade’ also introduced Iceage to a wider world and in my opinion it is nearly a perfect record, 24 minutes of wailing, bromance and gothic charm, the Guardian described it as ‘A yobbish Joy Division’ and they are spot on, as usual.

mp3 : Iceage – White Rune

The immediate problem is that nearly every band that came out of Denmark was labelled the ‘new Iceage’and record companies fell over themselves to ‘find them’. Over in Denmark though, the best bands in Iceage’s circle such as Lower and Sexdrome, made such bleak and brutal rock that they had almost no visible commercial value, well not to the UK and US Markets at least. All Lower want to do is destroy your eardrums, I mean, they are fantastically brutal but they are not Iceage Mark 2.

mp3 : Lower – Craver

Let’s come back to 2015, and an awful lot has changed, Denmark is blooming and nearly every week there is a new band from Denmark that is generating a buzz of hype. This weeks thing are Yung, they hail from Aarhus the (I think) second biggest city in Denmark. Their debut record Alter has shown that not all bands from Denmark have to sound like Iceage.  ‘Alter’ is jangly indie pop with just a dash of spikiness thrown in. In the last couple of years noir-ish Danish TV programmes have been all the rage and Yung appear to have tapped into that with the video for lead track Nobody Cares – they basically mess around on cold looking dock and we half expect a lady in a knitted jumper to start investigating.

mp3 : Yung – Nobody Cares

Like I said the developing scene is not all about Iceage soundalikes, take Communions for example, they are perhaps the band most like Iceage in their looks but they sound like The Stone Roses just after Sally Cinnamon was released (ie when they were really good). Their debut EP Cobblestones is outstanding and something I thoroughly recommend to you all, I am quite excited by Communions, they could produce something really special.

mp3 : Communions – Cobblestones

I should perhaps point out, that even Iceage don’t actually sound like Iceage anymore, – the closest thing I can liken it too is when Idlewild released American English which sounded like REM rather the early Fugazi inspired records – the last Iceage record Plowing Into the Field of Love has a distinct alt country feel to it and to be honest it sounds a lot like the Libertines circa Up The Bracket, which obviously is a very very good thing indeed. There were not many better records released last year than ‘Plowing Into the Field of Love’.

mp3 : Iceage – The Lords Favourite

I hope you all enjoy the tracks that I have posted – and as ever I’ll be interested in what you all think.

S-WC

I SPEAK YOUR EVERY WORD

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The mere mention of his name yesterday inspired me to adapt and update a post from January 2007 over at the old place.

The post-punk era in the late 70s and early 80s wasn’t all about jumping about down the front.

The man pictured above is John Cooper Clarke. He is a poet.

You listened to what JCC had to say. He was often a support act for many acts – let’s face it, all he needed was the bus/train fare and a microphone – and he had a fantastic stage presence that commanded attention.

Maybe it was the big hair; maybe it was the unmistakable Salford/Manchester accent; maybe it was because he had something meaningful to say, often in a very humourous way; maybe it was a combination of all of the above.

I saw him a few times in the 80s – most often at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the days when it was truly an underground sort of event rather than a vehicle for comics to come to town and make a fortune over a three-week period.

The mp3 offering might sound like a bit of a misogynist rant. But listen carefully and you’ll hear that it is a brilliantly worded attack on bigots who can’t bear to see mixed-race marriages.

mp3 : John Cooper Clarke : I Married A Monster From Outer Space

But what I consider to be his best piece of work was recorded with a backing band.

mp3 : John Cooper Clarke – Beasley Street

A poem written in 1980, and it’s a sad reflection on society and its inability to deal with inequalities that there is almost certainly a Beasley Street not too far from where you live – especially if you live in a major city.

JCC is still very much on the go today. The original posting in January 2007 was inspired by an interview with him in the then current edition of Mojo magazine – an interview conducted by Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys.

Here’s another one that I used to know off by heart back in the days:-

mp3 : John Cooper Clarke – Twat

You can read all his poems here.

DREAM SEQUENCES

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Today I’m featuring a single that I picked up a few years ago in a charity shop for the princely sum of 25p.

mp3 : Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls – Dream Sequence I
mp3 : Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls – Dream Sequence II

Pauline Murray was one of the first girls to come out of the punk movement. She was just 18 years of age when she came to prominence as lead singer with Penetration, whose debut single from November 1977 is a true landmark effort:-

mp3 : Penetration – Don’t Dictate

Sorry, I couldn’t resist including that – a rare example of a single from punk era that has just not lost any of its appeal the best part of 40 years on.

Penetration split up in 1980 after just two albums and five singles. Pauline was just 22 years of age at the time, and her next project was with the aforementioned The Invisible Girls who were in fact the backing band for the Salford poet John Cooper Clarke. The new combo released a self-titled album in 1980, a piece of work that was critically acclaimed but didn’t sell all that well.

It was a record that came out on Illusive Records which was a subsidiary of RSO Records which, if memory was the biggest label in the world at the end of the 70s as it was home to The Bee Gees as well as being the label for the soundtrack to Grease.

But it would have been perfectly at home, and indeed a better fit, if it had been on Factory Records as it  had production from Martin Hannett (who also played on the record) and a sleeve by Peter Saville, both of whom of course are central characters in the rise and fall of the best label to ever come out of Manchester. Oh and the drummer was John Maher of Buzzcocks….

I was delighted to grab a copy of the single as I used to have a copy of the subsequent self-titled Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls debut album but as I’ve not seen it in the cupboard for years so I can only assume that I loaned it to someone and forgot to ask for it back. What I do remember is that it was a record slightly ahead of its time, relying on the then largely unfamiliar sound of synthesisers with Pauline’s vocals often being well back in the mix as if they were an instrument. It really is one of the great lost albums of the era (literally in my case…..).

I do see that last year the album was re-released with a bonus disc of Peel Sessions, remixes and live versions.  I might well go and track it down….or I might go to the online second-hand market for a copy of the vinyl.  Either way, it’s on a list of things to do.

Enjoy.