MOST OF THE TIME YOU ARE HAPPY…

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My intention this week is to feature songs by bands that I have a lot of time for but without ever at any time becoming the sort of fan who rushed out and bought loads of their singles and albums. All of them have a superb discography and are worthy of a feature in the ‘Imaginary Compilation Album’ series except that I can’t claim to have enough knowledge to do justice to any such feature.

I’m starting things off with The Charlatans, a band that has been making music, mostly of a very high quality, for quarter of a century during which they have had more than the fair share of adversity and tragedy to overcome.

The sustained popularity of the band can be evidenced by the fact that all twelve studio albums have gone Top 40, including three hitting #1 and a further two reaching #2. They have also cracked the Top 30 of the singles charts on seventeen occasions, including this #19 effort back in February 1992:-

mp3 : The Charlatans – Weirdo

One of the few words in the dictionary where the rule of thumb (i before the e except after c) doesn’t apply.

I’m very fond of this particular track. The keyboards of the late Rob Collins are a joy to behold and it is a superb dance number. The other tracks on the CD single aren’t shabby either:-

mp3 : The Charlatans – Theme From ‘The Wish’
mp3 : The Charlatans – Weirdo (alternate take)
mp3 : The Charlatans – Sproston Green (U.S. Version)

I’ll surely one day get round to posting a review of Telling Stories, the excellent and hugely enjoyable autobiography of lead singer Tim Burgess. It’ll be another good excuse to post more stuff by this very talented group of musicians.

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 16 of 48)

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I pride myself on having at least an awareness of just about every singer or band who has been involved in indie music over the past 35 years or so and so I was astonished when I did a bit of research into today’s CD86 combo to learn that they were from Glasgow.

The Bachelor Pad were a completely new name to me.  Turns out they were a five piece consisting of Tommy Cherry (vocals/ guitar), Martin Cotter (guitar/vocals), Dave Harris (keyboards), Willie Bain (bass) and Graham Adam (drums).

Their first recording came in early 1987 via one side of a free flexidisc given away with a fanzine before three singles in a twelve month period for Warhola Records.  It would be a further two years before the release of a debut LP on Imaginary Records and then finally three singles on Egg Records before they called it a day in 1991.

One critic has described them as fusing quickfire retro-punk, retro-Pysche and retro-Swinging Sixties, all of which make it difficult to accurately describe what they sound like.  The song that was included on CD86 is, to my ears, more miss than hit and is thankfully over in a little more than two minutes:-

mp3 : The Bachelor Pad – Jack and Julian

It was actually the b-side of a single released in July 1987 and I have managed to track it down for you – it’s been described as a cross between Syd Barrett and Buzzcocks.  I’m not all that enamoured by it.

mp3 : The Bachelor Pad – The Albums Of Jack

Enjoy

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #11 : APPLE SCRUFFS

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I can’t remember which particular blogger it was who posted up an mp3 of the debut single by The Apple Scruffs but what I do know is that the day after reading about it I saw a copy in a record shop in Glasgow and bought it.

There’s very little info about the band out there.  What I can gleam is they were mates who decided to form a band and to make their songs relevant to their everyday lives and surroundings.  They gigged relentlessly in 2005/06 (although I can’t ever recall coming across them at any point) and in late 2006 they released the debut on Vaults Recordings.

mp3 : The Apple Scruffs – Danielle

I can’t find details of whether or not there was ever a follow-up but there is every likelihood there was given that it wasn’t until 2010 that the band called it a day.

Enjoy

THE ALTERED IMAGES SINGLES (1)

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Five ambitious teenage school mates from Glasgow – Clare Grogan (vocals), Gerard “Caesar” McInulty (guitar), Michael ‘Tich’ Anderson (drums), Tony McDaid (guitar) and Johnny McElhone (bass guitar) – formed a band called Altered Images in late 1979.

As per the norm in those days, a number of demo tapes were fired out in the hope of attracting some interest but where probably 99% of such tapes end up being binned, this time round there was enough to convince Siouxsie & The Banshees to offer a support slot on their Kaleidoscope tour of 1980 and a session for John Peel.

And without too much of an apprenticeship the band were soon signed to Epic Records and so became label mates of the likes of Michael Jackson and Shakin’ Stevens!!

The debut single was released in February 1981. It was one of the band’s best-loved songs from the live shows but given that John Lennon had been shot just a couple of months previously, and that the charts were being dominated by his music, it seemed a perverse choice all round:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Dead Pop Stars

Superbly produced by Steve Severin of the Banshees, it really did deserve a far better fate than #67 in the singles charts but then again, any daytime DJ who would have dared play it would no doubt have been put on trial by the kangaroo court of the British tabloid press…..

Epic Records probably didn’t have much hope for it, only pressing it on 7″ and making a cassette version available. This was the b-side:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Sentimental

While this was the track made available via the cassette:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Leave Me Alone

All three tracks really highlight the Banshees influence on the band.  And Clare’s remarkable vocal, particularly on Leave Me Alone, was very reminiscent of Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex.

Enjoy

THE JAMES SINGLES (27) AND (28)

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Apologies to those who don’t like James for them featuring two days in a row. But I had intended to have this series wrapped up well before now.

Yesterday’s single was the last of the James singles that I have in my collection. I did have a few gaps that I’ve plugged since beginning this series back in November 2013 and while it was tempting to chase down the final CDs via ebay/discogs etc I decided against it and instead hunted down whatever songs I could find online.

We’re Going To Miss You was an unexpected third single lifted from Millionaires albeit the track was re-recorded for release as a 45. However, the record label again seemed to mess things up by shoving it out just before Christmas 1999 when the airwaves were full of the usual cheesy numbers that abound at the time of year as well as filling time with a look back at classic pop songs of the 20th Century as the new millennium was just over the horizon. As a result, the single completely stiffed and for the first time in seven years the band missed out on a Top 40 placing:-

mp3 : James – We’re Going To Miss You (not available)
mp3 : James – Wisdom Of The Throat
mp3 : James – Top Of The World (Live at the Embassy Rooms) (not available)
mp3 : James – Pocketful of Lemons
mp3 : James – We’re Going To Miss You (Eno’s Version)

The next and final physical single appeared in June 2001. It was the only single lifted from the album Pleased To Meet You. The single preceded the album by a week and was released at the end of June 2001.

mp3 : James – Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
mp3 : James – Make It Alright
mp3 : James – So Swell
mp3 : James – Stand
mp3 : James – The Shining (live at Ridge Farm) (not available)

It reached #22 in the UK charts. An anthemic number that, at the time, was dismissed as very much James by numbers and used to demonstrate just how tired and cliche-ridden they had become.

Six months later, James called it a day but signed off with a triumphant tour of the UK’s main arenas culminating in a gig in Manchester that was later released as a live album.

POSTSCRIPT

The band reformed in 2007. There have since been three singles released as digital downloads – Whiteboy, Waterfall and Not So Strong – none of which charted.

And that, dear readers brings the series to a close.

Next up, and in response to the positive feedback the other week, will be a short series looking at ten singles released by Altered Images.

THE JAMES SINGLES (26)

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I’d be amazed if anyone who was into James circa 1985 – with songs like Folklore, What’s The World and If Things Were Perfect – would ever have imagined they would g on to write and record what can only be described as an MOR love song such as Just Like Fred Astaire some 14 years later.

By all accounts, I should hate this song.  It is sentimentally soppy and tune wise it is the sort of thing that you would imagine would be handed to the winner of the X Factor or The Voice to grab hold of and release on the back of them winning the vote of the general public.  But, just like the Four Tops (and Orange Juice), I can’t help myself….and have to confess to having a real affection for this particular single.

There’s a place in the world for outstanding love songs and James, having previously delivered an absolute belter in Sometimes back in 1993, managed to deliver another one right here.  It the sound of a band comfortable with their place in the world – the success of the greatest hits package had finally put any money worries firmly to bed – and the notion of making new and innovative sounding music can now be left to others.  It is mature, grown-up music that in the hands of others could border on boring, but thanks to the collective talents of all concerned, they manage to pull it off:-

mp3 : James – Just Like Fred Astaire

It was released on 2 x CDs in October 1999 and came with three completely new tracks plus a re-working of a track from the Laid LP:-

mp3 : James – I Defeat
mp3 : James – Long To See
mp3 : James – Mary
mp3 : James – Goal Goal Goal

The first of these features a contributing vocal from Sinead O’Connor and is one of those songs that you listen to and wonder why the band chucked it away on a b-side. It’s another mid-tempo ballad but it is quite unlike anything else the band ever recorded and, with its catchy chorus could easily have cut the mustard as a single.

Long To See is a real slowie that relies heavily on Tim’s vocal to make it of real interest while Mary sounds like an outake from the Whiplash era, so if you liked that sort of song you’ll fall for its charms.

Goal Goal Goal is a real oddity. It takes the tune of Low Low Low but the new lyric is football related. The story is that the band were keen to have it adopted as the official anthem of the England Football Team at the 1994 World Cup taking place in the USA – after all, New Order had enjoyed a #1 hit with World In Motion at the previous tournament four years earlier. The problem was, England failed to quality for the 94 Finals……

The song was however, put on an excruciatingly awful album called Gloryland, released by the football authorities to commemorate the tournament. To give you an idea of how bad this record was – Queen, Jon Bon Jovi, Tina Turner, Fleetwood Mac, Scorpions, Daryl Hall and Santana are among those who feature. The band however, five years on, dug it out and shoved it on CD2 of Fred Astaire.

The two CDs do make for a decent enough package but the record label made a huge error in releasing the single just one week before the LP Millionaires. It did hit #17 in its first week on the back of solid amounts of radio play and the band carrying out promotional duties on UK television but the type of record buyer it was aimed at would have bought the LP when it came it out rather than boost the sales of the single.

It remains the last time that James went Top 20 in the singles chart.

Enjoy

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM #13 – NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS

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Exactly one week ago tonight I sat in the stalls of the Edinburgh Playhouse (Row J : seat 17 with Mrs Villain beside me in seat 16) and witnessed what I reckon must be my 20th or so show by Nick Cave.  While every single one of those love shows has been a standout in one way or another, thanks in part to his willingness to rotate the Bad Seeds who go out on tour and thanks in part to each show being about 50% new material and 50% from the now extensive back catalogue, there was something truly wonderful about this latest show.  It wasn’t a full Bad Seeds back-up nor was it a solo show – the five-man line-up ensured it pitched itself somewhere in-between.  I came away thinking that it may even have been the best show I’ve ever seen from the great man – he was in fine voice, great humour and the arrangements he had made to some of the old classics had to be heard to be believed.  I came away determined that he would be next up in the compilation album series but only after I’d recovered from the ordeal of whittling The Clash down to ten songs.

And then, this dropped into my inbox from The Robster – long-time reader, frequent commentator and the brains behind this wonderful space on t’internet.  His timing was impeccable…

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I always knew it would be a tough task choosing just ten songs for a best of Nick Cave compilation. It was never what to include, more what to leave out. That’s why I expect so many “you should have included…” and “I would have had…” comments, but that’s the fun of doing it, right?

I’m a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge Cave fan, but I came to him rather late. I’d heard bits and pieces of his work over time, but it wasn’t until ‘Murder Ballads’ in 1996 that I began to engage with his music properly. Now I can’t get enough of the guy.

So for better or worse, here’s my contribution to JC’s excellent series – ten brilliant tunes by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, a studio side and a live side. This was tough and the result is controversial (nothing from Let Love In – set the flame wars alight!) but I don’t regret a single one of these choices.

Side one

1. Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry (from ‘Henry’s Dream’, 1992)

‘Henry’s Dream’ is one of my top 5 Bad Seeds albums, and this is one of the best opening tracks of any record. It’s dark and menacing, but poetic and stirring. Nick’s an amazing storyteller and few songs illustrate this better than Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry. A great way to start.

2. Tupelo (from ‘The Firstborn Is Dead’, 1985)

Talking of dark and menacing, how about the tale of Elvis’ birth delivered Cave-style? A fine example of how a rock band can create an uncomfortable atmosphere and mood. Nick’s growling vocals, Barry Adamson’s ominously brooding bass, Blixa Bargeld’s scratchy guitars and Mick Harvey’s pounding drums combine to create a song that’s blacker than black.

3. He Wants You (from ‘Nocturama’, 2003)

But it’s not all fire and brimstone, sometimes Nick writes the most beautiful and touching ballads. Here’s one of his very best and one of my all-time fave songs of his.

4. The Curse Of Millhaven (from ‘Murder Ballads’, 1996)

‘Murder Ballads’ is equally disturbing and hilarious. It’s also ridiculously misunderstood by people who don’t get what Nick Cave is about. I loved this track on first listen and it still rates as my fave on the album.

5. We Call Upon The Author (from ‘Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!’, 2008)

The Grinderman project undoubtedly had an effect on Nick and his cohorts. ‘Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!’, the first Bad Seeds album following that side-project was altogether rougher, tougher and meaner than anything they’d done in a long time. Really hard to pick a single track from it, but I went for this one because I think it sums up the whole record. And the lyric “I feel like a vacuum cleaner/A complete sucker” cracks me up every time!

Side two

6. The Mercy Seat [live] (from ‘Live Seeds’, 1993; originally from ‘Tender Prey’, 1988]

Cave has done countless versions of this track and each one is absolutely TERRIFYING. It’s the first of his tracks I ever heard and I felt really uneasy on hearing it, but utterly intrigued at the same time. This version, from the ‘Live Seeds’ album, is very probably the best version of all.

7. There She Goes, My Beautiful World [live at Maida Vale] (b-side of ‘Get Ready For Love’, 2005; originally from ‘Abattoir Blues’, 2004)

Ridiculously upbeat song in which our Nick laments the loss of his muse and the onset of writer’s block. Hard to believe Nick Cave made a gospel (or should that be ‘gothpel’) record, but here’s proof that he can turn his hand to anything. I love this track so much.

8. God Is In The House [live] [from ‘Live From KCRW’, 2013; originally from ‘No More Shall We Part’, 2001]

As cutting comments on gated communities and the God-fearing citizens who populate them go, this song has to be the best, doesn’t it? I remember he did a quite extraordinary rendition of this on Jools Holland’s show around the time of its release. At the end of the show, Jools asked a few of his guests who their favourite act on the show was, and a soul singer I’ve forgotten remarked: “Oh, Nick Cave. So spiritual.” She had completely missed the point. But isn’t that Nick all over?

9. Jubilee Street [live at the Sydney Opera House] (b-side of ‘Give Us A Kiss’, 2014; original from ‘Push The Sky Away’, 2013)

‘Push The Sky Away’ was/is an absolutely remarkable album. It’s like Nick has found a new wave of creativity of late, you feel he could go on forever and always remain unique and relevant. Jubilee Street is as good a song as he’s ever written.

10. The Ship Song [live at Brixton Academy] [from ‘Abattoir Blues Tour’ DVD, 2007; originally from ‘The Good Son’, 1990]

I suppose if Nick Cave is going to be remembered for just one song, this will probably be it. It has become like an unofficial Australian National Anthem, but it’s live that it takes on a new life and at times it’s spine-tingling.

The Robster

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Papa Won’t Leave You Henry
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tupelo
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – He Wants You
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Curse of Millhaven
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – We Call Upon The Author
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Mercy Seat (live)
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – There She Goes, My Beautiful World (live)
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – God Is In The House (live)
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street (live)
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Ship Song (live)

JC adds……

This will, I’m sure spark as lively a debate as last week’s on The Clash. I’m gearing up to make my own contribution to the debate.  I’m with The Robster on the particular live version of The Mercy Seat that he has selected….but only until the point when, and I really hope it is a when, the version being played on the current tour is given a release.

Big thanks Robster….and without giving anything away to T(n)VV readers, feel free to throw in that further contribution you mentioned in your e-mail.

 

READ IT IN BOOKS : THE CLASH (1)

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The recation to the imaginary Clash album has been remarkable.  The hits to the site over Friday/Saturday went through the roof (almost tripled!!!)  and the number, and quality, of comments that folk left behing was truly heart-warming.

I thought I should bookend the weekend with another posting about the band and I’ve dug into the archives and pulled out an old book review that I’m hoping you’ll apprecoiate.  Besides, it allows me to put up an imaginary EP of London Calling cuts to accompany the imaginary album…..

Being familiar with the work of Marcus Gray thanks to having bought and read his 1997 book It Crawled From The South : An R.E.M. Companion, I had an idea in advance that the 500+pages that comprised Route 19 Revisited : The Clash and London Calling would be packed with all sorts of facts, figures, information and trivia as well as some terrific insights into the making of an album that features in just about every critics list of greatest of all time.

Route 19 doesn’t disappoint and believe me – it does a lot more than it simply says on the dustcover. Before analysing the 1979 LP, you can enjoy potted bios of the band members and some of the other key figures in their history as well as a look back at the albums and singles that appeared before they went into the studio to record London Calling.  Afterwards there is an even better postscript – where even if you are very familiar with the post-Clash careers and lives of Mick, Joe, Paul and Topper you will come across sentences and paragraphs that give you a whole new insight.

Taking its title from a London bus route along which many of the songs were conceived, written and recorded (and a route name checked on the track Rudie Can’t Fail), the heart of this excellent book lies with the 205 pages devoted to looking at every minute aspect of the songs that make up London Calling. Every lyric is dissected, every musical note and sound is analysed and all sorts of links and tangents are explored. Yes, sometimes you can get the feeling that some of the connections feel a touch contrived to make the song a better fit to some of the issues explored. And yes, being a non-musician I did get a bit bored now and again when the prose centres on the chord changes or the types of pedals/percussion used, but this has to be balanced against the opportunity afforded to learn about those who inspired many of the songs or who were responsible for writing the songs that The Clash covered. It also at times feels like a wonderful London travelogue….and made me want to jump on board the 19 bus.

In addition, the author corrects a few long-held myths about some of the songs – and in particular highlights that some songs long attributed to Mick Jones were in fact largely the work of Joe Strummer. Stories of the band’s seemingly endless battles with their record label, both in the UK and USA, are explored in some detail – often within the context of a story on a particular song.

Oh and there’s also a hugely entertaining sections about the design, artwork and photography which certainly made this particular reader appreciate just how important these things can be when it comes to the finished product of any record….

Route 19 Revisited is a very rare thing indeed – a book that, without any question, adds to your listening experience.

mp3 : The Clash – Rudie Can’t Fail
mp3 : The Clash – Spanish Bombs
mp3 : The Clash – Guns of Brixton
mp3 : The Clash – Train In Vain

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 15 of 48)

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I’ve tried my best to provide loads of info and background to the bands who have thus far featured in this series.  But there’s really little point in doing so today as you’ll all know so much about them.

This is track 8 on disc two of CD86:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – This Boy Can Wait

It was one side of a fantastic 7″ single, released on Reception Records in July 1986. This was the other track:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends

I’m so happy that they are still going strong today, albeit the band personnel has changed so many times over the years.  David Gedge is, without question,  a national treasure.

Enjoy.

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #10 : APB

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Today’s lot must have had one of the most unenviable tasks in post-punk history when, at the Glasgow Apollo in November 1982, they were the support act on the night we knew that The Jam were playing their final Scottish gig on their farewell tour.

Most people just couldn’t wait for APB to get off the stage but from what I can remember they gave a tremendous account of themselves never letting the occasion or the impatience of the crowd ruin their performance.  They were from Aberdeen and by the time they were on the stage that night they had already released four singles on the locally based Oily Records.  Their sound was very much focussed on funk and soul,  and with Paul Weller increasingly demonstrating his own love for the genres, it was no surprise that he declared himself a fan.

Despite having such a high-profile champion, APB never enjoyed any commercial success.  After a fifth single for Oily they signed to Albion Records in early 1984 for whom they released two singles which, although ignored at home, found much popularity on the dance floor of a number of clubs in New York and led to the band becoming regulars on the local gig circuit as well as enjoying exposure through college radio.

The band worked particularly hard between 1985 and 1987 with a number of singles being released on Link Records in the USA as well as on their own Red River imprint at home.  All to no avail in terms of fame and fortune.

I used to have a couple of APB singles from the early days but lost them many many years ago.  I did however, unearth a 12″ single, from the Albion era, in a charity shop around a year ago and here’s one of the tracks from it:-

mp3 : APB – Crazy Grey

It was recorded for the David ‘Kid’ Jensen show on BBC Radio 1 in June 1982. What is most bizarre about the information on the back of the sleeve is that you could write to the band c/o Oily Records in Aberdeen but the group’s management was based in New York which indicates I guess where the band’s hearts and minds really lay.

Enjoy

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM #12 – THE CLASH

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This, quite frankly, is an impossible task but one that I can put off no longer after my dear friend Dirk‘s call out last time round when I featured Lloyd Cole & The Commotions in this particular series.

The Clash evolved and diversified like no other band that I’ve ever known in my lifetime and so make the idea of dipping into their extensive catalogue and finding ten songs as the definitive collection – and putting them in a semblance of order that makes for great listening – is a task that once complete will inevitably lead to very legitimate questions about what has been left off.  But here goes:-

Side A

1. Complete Control (single, released in September 1977)

You’ve got to open any imaginary compilation album with a killer tune…something of an anthem which epitomizes the band or singer being featured….and I can’t think of anything better than this. One of punk rock’s greatest songs, written and recorded in frustration as the penny dropped for the band, and in particular Joe Strummer, that being a fully fledged, ideologically driven punk at the same time as being a core part of the mainstream music industry was an uncomfortable and some would say impossible position. Anger as an energy…..

2. White Man In Hammersmith Palais (single, released in June 1978)

Another song fuelled by disappointment and anger. The song title may have been derived from being let down at the dearth of talent performing at an all-night reggae gig but the most meaningful attacks come later on as Joe delivers his very own state-of-the-nation address and in doing so outlines what was so wrong with the UK at that time. Little did he or any of us know that social disorder, racial disharmony, unfair distribution of wealth and the increasing lurch to the right-wing of the political spectrum by all mainstream parties would get a lot worse over the next decade.

This is my favourite Clash song of all time. It is one of those once-in-a-lifetime tunes that comes along and embeds itself permanently in your subconscious with a lyric that educates and raises your social and political awareness. I turned 15 years of age the day after this 45 was released….it struck a chord with me then and given that, almost 37 years on, I  still hold many of those values that forged my outlook on life, this song hasn’t dated….nor will it ever.

3. London Calling (single, released in December 1979)

It’s quite frightening to think that this song was unleashed on the record-buying public a little over two-and-a-half years after the debut. Musically this is a billion miles away from White Riot as the jarring almost off-key thrashing guitars atypical of the punk sound are replaced by a confident, bombastic rock sound that was tailor-made for radio and evidence that a song does not need a chorus to be catchy and memorable.

There can be little argument that London Calling is the best-known song ever recorded by The Clash and there’s nothing I can add to the countless positive words that have been written over the years.

4. Janie Jones (album track, released in April 1977)

There are so many great songs that are incredibly worthy of inclusion on this particular ten-track effort.  I’ve changed my mind more than a few times about things but I’ve never dreamt of leaving off Janie Jones. It’s a two-minute burst of high-tempo energy that just never lets up and, in what is now approaching 40 years, has never once failed to get me singing along. I also love how the band didn’t try to hide the fact that, at this stage, Paul Simonon wasn’t the greatest of bass guitarists but somehow his one-note contribution helps make the chorus so memorable.

5. Straight To Hell (single, released in September 1982)

This is an extraordinary piece of music. The very idea that one of the world’s foremost punk bands would, within just five years, record and release a song that leaned heavily on a bossa nova drumbeat devised by Topper Headon and a haunting violin sound would have been laughable.

And what a lyric and just as importantly, what a delivery of the lyric as a resigned-sounding Joe, having highlighted societal issues and problems in all four corners of the world, tells us in a few short words, that misery abounds everywhere:-

“It could be anywhere, most likely could be any frontier, any hemisphere….”

The full unedited version, made available via The Clash on Broadway box set is what I’ve used to close this particular side.

Side B

1. Clampdown (album track, released in December 1979)

The Clash famously had a policy of minimising the number of 45s that would be taken from any album – a stance that led to a lot of friction with CBS Records. It also caused the band to miss out on chart success as they left behind so many great album cuts that were tailor-made for radio airplay – none more so than this track from London Calling.

I suppose that’s not quite true as Clampdown was released in early 1980 in Australia where, it being the height of their summer, I’d like to imagine that it would be blasting out over Bondi Beach at high volume. But I doubt it….

Oh and there’s many reasons to say thank you for the invention of the internet, not least being the fact that you can now, all these years later, put in the relevant search and get the previously impossible to work out spoken intro:-

“The kingdom was ransacked, the jewels got ransacked and a chopper descends
They hid it in the back and they switched it on and off but the tape of spool just ends
They say now I’m back,hit at his face in a crack but he said there’s a crack on the lens”

Before one of the great shout/sing-a-long lines ever written…WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO NOW?

2. Safe European Home (album track, released in November 1978)

I was thoroughly bemused at first by this, the opening track of the band’s second studio LP. The tune was fabulous and demanded to be played at a volume that bordered on distortion on the old Dansette, (loud enough to drive my parents daft and feel as I was being a teenage rebel), but was this a dodgy racist lyric in which Joe was suggesting everyone in Jamaica was a potential mugger?

It took an interview/feature in one of the British music papers to out my mind at ease as Joe revealed the true meaning of the song and the fact that he and Mick had let their idealistic view of the country get in the way of reality and that the song, far from being a dig at Jamaicans, was an effort to chide himself for being so naive. What a relief….

3. Stay Free (album track, released in November 1978)

The second album is considered by many to be a weak record but here am I going with a second successive track from it and there’s no sign of the two cracking 45s that were lifted from it. It just demonstrates that Give ‘Em Enough Rope had plenty of moments to be declared as a decent and solid record rather than weak.

At 15 years of age, I was gravitating to the lyricists who were telling stories via the songs – Paul Weller was already a huge favourite and the tale of Down In The Tube Station At Midnight was, in my young mind, he greatest song lyric of all time. But not far behind was Mick Jones‘ heartfelt tribute to his best mate who had gone spectacularly off the rails while Mick was working tirelessly to make it as a musician. This has more than stood the test of time as a great love song….

4. Armagideon Time (b-side, released in December 1979)

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or indeed followed the nonsense over at the old place, you’ll have worked out that I don’t own much in the way of reggae as it has very rarely featured. It’s really strange as so many of the punk bands talked up the genre as an influence, and none more so than The Clash, but I just never ever managed to get into it in any meaningful way. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t have the greatest music player in the world and thus didn’t fully pick up the all important bass beats and rhythms but more likely I was just too into my white-boy new wave guitars to worry about it.

But when I played the b-side to the London Calling single, I was blown away by what I was hearing. It wasn’t of course the first time the band had provided their take on a reggae song but this, to my young ears, just sounded so very very special. For a long time I was convinced that this would be unsurpassed as the 45 with the best quality on both sides of the vinyl….(but then along came Morrissey and Marr).

5. Capital Radio Two (b-side, released in May 1979)

I’m surely not already at the final track on this compilation?? There’s nearly 30 songs that still haven’t had a line put through them. I’m going to leave far too many things off that tomorrow I will scratch my head and consider myself mad. But to close things out, and having played the nine other songs back to back, I’ve gone for the re-recorded version of one of the band’s earliest songs.

I’ve written before about how, growing up and living in Glasgow, I was enthralled by what London was like and couldn’t wait to visit. I suppose it’s impossible for young people nowadays who have grown up with a shrinking world made easy to get round thanks to cheap travel by plane, train and automobiles, to realise just how much of a pipe dream making a visit was such was the expense involved. So I had to make do with imagining the city through music and the written word.

OK, Joe and the boys were warning that the local radio station was rubbish and didn’t play the music ‘the kids’ wanted to hear, but the fact was I was hundreds of miles outside the reception area for the station and it was one of the things I did want to experience, along with a ride on the Underground and seeing the likes of Big Ben and Tower Bridge which were beamed into our homes every night through news and television programmes.

The song was a huge part of my youth – I had a poorly recorded copy of the original on tape – and I loved the idea that the band had a new version as part of the Cost Of Living EP. The fact it came with an outro that spoofed adverts and encouraged people to rush down to their nearest Clash showroom I thought was a work of genius. So for the fact that I love the song, coupled with the fact that this version closes with a bit of I Fought The Law in the background, this, in my mind is the perfect way to finish things off.

mp3 : The Clash – Complete Control
mp3 : The Clash – White Man In Hammersmith Palais
mp3 : The Clash – London Calling
mp3 : The Clash – Janie Jones
mp3 : The Clash – Straight To Hell
mp3 : The Clash – Clampdown
mp3 : The Clash – Safe European Home
mp3 : The Clash – Stay Free
mp3 : The Clash – Armagideon Time
mp3 : The Clash – Capital Radio Two

Feel free to jump in and criticise the omissions!!!