SEPARATED AT BIRTH?

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The first time I heard this song:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)

 

 

 

I was instantly reminded of this tune:-

mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Faron Young

The former was a top 20 hit in 1986 for a Liverpool band who had been kicking around without any commercial success since 1980 although they were firm favourites of John Peel for whom they had recorded four sessions by the time they hit the charts….all before a debut album which came out in late 1986.

The latter had been a 1985 single for the better-known Newcastle band but it had stalled at #74. It was also the opening track of the sublime LP Steve McQueen.

Here’s the b-sides of the 7″ singles:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – Trains, Boats, Planes
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Silhouettes

I also have a 12″ copy of Driving Away From Home in the collection. It annoys me as it just goes on a bit too long and the song loses something in the process:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune) (12 inch version)

The 12″ also had an additional song on the b-side:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – A Crooked Tune

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 32 of 48)

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I’m being lazy this week and doing a cut’n’ paste from wiki that was last updated in 2014:-

The Wolfhounds are an indie rock band formed in Romford in England in 1985 by Dave Callahan, Paul Clark, Andy Golding, Andy Bolton and Frank Stebbing. They reformed in 2005 and continue to write, record and play live to this day, releasing a new EP in April 2012, their first new recordings since 1990.

The Wolfhounds began as a slightly askew pop/rock band, and signed to the Pink label in 1986. First EP Cut The Cake was well enough received for the NME to include them on their C86 compilation album. After three singles and debut album Unseen Ripples From A Pebble on Pink, they briefly moved to Idea Records for the Me single, then rejoined Pink’s boss at his new label September Records. September soon evolved into Midnight Music which was the Wolfhounds’ home for all subsequent releases.

With original members Bolton and Clark replaced by David Oliver and Matt Deighton, the Wolfhounds’ sound developed into a denser, less poppy sound. After a compilation of earlier material, second album proper Bright and Guilty was released in 1989, featuring the singles Son of Nothing, Rent Act and Happy Shopper. The sound progressed further with the albums Blown Away (also 1989) and Attitude (1990), which found them in Sonic Youth territory, interspersing raging guitars with elegant compositional exercises. This proved to be the final Wolfhounds release – the band splitting in early 1990.

Golding and Stebbing formed Crawl, while Callahan hooked up with former Ultra Vivid Scene member Margaret Fiedler in Moonshake. Matt Deighton formed Mother Earth.

The Wolfhounds got back together in 2005 for a gig to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of their first single. The current line-up is Dave Callahan (guitar/vocals), Andy Golding (guitar/vocals), Peter Wilkins (Drums) and Richard Golding (bass).

In 2006, they were asked by Bob Stanley of St Etienne to play at the ICA in London, alongside Roddy Frame and Phil Wilson, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the seminal NME cassette C86. They have continued to play live since, re-energised when The Membranes asked them to be special guests at The Lexington in London, and in March 2012 played with Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab in support at a benefit to raise funds for proposed Frank Sidebottom memorial statue.

An EP called EP001 was released on Vollwert-Records Berlin in April 2012 containing three songs that pre-date the band’s first single but that were never recorded satisfactorily at the time. Of these songs, Skullface picked up a lot of radio play.

The band is currently writing and recording a number of entirely new songs for release, and have released three 7″ singles and a new album since January 2013. Also in 2014 an anniversary limited edition issue of Unseen Ripples from a Pebble (plus bonus tracks) is released by Optic Nerve Recordings

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The track on CD86 (which was of course compiled by the afore-mentioned Bob Stanley) is a cracking number that was their second 45 for the Pink Label.  Released in September 1986 it got to #6 in the Indie Chart.

mp3 : The Wolfhounds – The Anti-Midas Touch

There’s also a very good though downbeat b-side on offer:-

mp3 : The Wolfhounds – Restless Spell

Enjoy.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #26 : BIFFY CLYRO

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I know its Friday….but I’m bringing this forward by 24 hours as my way of saying a very happy birthday to Mrs Villain. She loves the Biff…..but I think it has a lot to do with the looks of the lead singer Simon Neil (the bloke in the middle who looks as if he wouldn’t be out of place in a costume drama).

Me? I don’t get quite get them but I do like one of their early singles, the one that first brought them chart success back in 2003:-

mp3 : Biffy Clyro – Questions and Answers

It was about four years later that the band really took off and became one of the best-loved acts in the heavier end of the rock spectrum. From what I’ve seen of them on televison they are a mighty impressive live act.

Tune in tomorrow for the post that was scheduled to be here today. It’s kind of controversial.

 

THE JAM SINGLES (5)

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This is just about where I really picked up on The Jam.  It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the earlier singles and first two albums but I had reached that great age (I had turned 15 a couple of months earlier) where I could really begin to understand the wider impact of great music and to think beyond just how good something sounded on the radio.   It was a time where music overtook football as the singularly most important aspect of things in my life.  And more than any other, it was The Jam who stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Mind you, I thought at this point that Bruce Foxton was the main man.  I’d bought a copy of News of The World on which he was lead vocalist and then on the day of its release on 26 August 1978 I bought the band’s new single on which the bass player again took on the singing duties.  I had no idea however, who this Ray Davies was…maybe the band had taken on a fourth member and I hadn’t noticed..but that can’t be right as there’s still just the three-man line-up in the small photo adorning the sleeve and Bruce is standing at the front.  It was so easy to be confused….

I know I promised that I would simply use this series to feature the songs and nor ramble on aimlessly within the postings.  I just can’t help myself today.  I still get really excited thinking back to this particular time in my life…just about to start my fourth year at secondary school the end of which would see me sit exams that would hopefully get me on the right foot for university.  Growing more confident with each passing week in my abilities to fit in with the cool crowd at school and discovering that music was by far and the best way to do so. Falling in love with a band for the first time….and nobody ever forgets their first time.

mp3 : The Jam – David Watts

It was of course a double-A side but I can’t recall too many occasions when this was aired on Radio 1:-

mp3 : The Jam – ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street

The single reached #25 in the charts and It would go onto be re-released as a 7″ single by Polydor Records on two more occasions – in 1980 and 1983  hitting #54 and #50 respectively.

The Direction Reaction Creation box-set provided a demo version of the better known side:-

mp3 : The Jam – David Watts (demo)

The Paris Theatre in London gig on 1 June 1978 recorded for the BBC series Sight and Sound included this cracking version which at the time was a very new song as explained in the intro:-

mp3 : The Jam – ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street (live)

Enjoy

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (25)

The Shoebox of Delights – #8 – Chosen by Badgerman
It Ended On An Oily Stage – British Sea Power

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After yesterday’s lively debate, I think it would make sense to hand over to S-WC for a bit of light-hearted relief….although whether you find it amusing will I guess, depend on your sense of humour.

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Remember a few months back when I was asking for advice around my iPod Friday, and I decided to go down the cover version route, well here is an update on that ‘teambuilding idea’. I have to be quite careful here so from the end of this sentence everything I write up to the word ‘Anyway’ somewhere down the page will be a complete and utter lie. If by some extraordinary chance any of this actually happened it will be a massive coincidence, also I wasn’t there, so I can’t be telling the truth. That ought to cover me.

So it is the turn of Mike (not his real name) to do his iPod Friday, he has been in the office for a few years, a few months back, Mike went through a small transformation, his hair changed, he grew a small beard, smartened his act up, looked like he started washing in the morning that sort of thing. It didn’t take long to work out that Mike had a new girlfriend, it turned out that the girlfriend in question was someone else in the office, and Mike had left his wife of ten years to be with this new girlfriend. These things happen, it’s no big thing, people get bored of gossip quite quickly – actually I don’t, I retain the information and embarrass them with it when drunk at Christmas Parties, but I’m letting daylight in on magic here.

Mike’s squeeze wasn’t in the office when he started his iPod Friday in fact I haven’t seen her in a couple of days, she is probably ill I thought to myself. The first track, and I kid you not is Without You not the popular Mariah Carey version, oh no, this is the original Nilsson version, in all its heartbreaking brilliance. Its an odd choice to be honest for an opening song, I mean it’s a great record but when you are playing songs to stimulate debate and show off your personality its fucking weird. It gets worse, much worse, very quickly, Crying by Roy Orbison worse. Three songs later (much the same sort of songs) I get an email from another correspondent from these pages which reads ‘He’s going Mad, bet you a bottle of rum we have I will Always Love You by Dolly Parton before long’. I buy him a bottle rum two hours later. Because he is right. We also get Yesterday by The Beatles and You Keep Me Hanging On by The Supremes. Yup, ladies and gents we were getting Mike’s break up mixtape right there and then. Forty minutes of songs about how much he loved this girl and she wasn’t even there to hear it. It was, erm, awkward to say the least.

Oddly it mellowed about a bit, and there was some gems in there, Creep by Radiohead for one, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones for another. Then the boss wanders over and puts an arm around Mike who we have all just noticed has destroyed a stapler on his desk and is frankly a mess of snot, tears and well, staples. Mike gets up and throws no, hurls, his coffee mug at the desk where his (presumably) ex sits just as the opening strings of Elbow’s A Day Like This starts up. Seriously you cannot make that shit up. With that Mike is gone. As exits go, that was impressive. I secretly hoped that the cup bounced and hit someone else, not because I don’t like them, just because, (it didn’t) and that he walked straight into a cupboard or came back for his wallet or something (he didn’t).

Another email comes in from the same chap as above, ‘You’re writing about this aren’t you’. Possibly was my response. ‘If you don’t I will’ was the return. The next email was from the boss ‘iPod Friday is cancelled until further notice’. Good it was Badgerman next week and he was bound to play Muse.

Anyway (see, that is journalistic planning at its finest) what relevance is this to British Sea Power, well there isn’t one, not really, but there is a cover version on the B Side of this, a cover of the Mum classic Green Grass of Tunnel, which is pretty ace and had I known about it early, I would have included on my iPod Friday. And also the lead track, is sort of relevant as Mike’s cup ended on Tidy Desk. Sorry that’s a terrible link.

So here is the CD out of box, backed with the cover version and two of my favourite BSP tracks.

mp3 : British Sea Power – It Ended on an Oily Stage
mp3 : British Sea Power – Green Grass of Tunnel
mp3 : British Sea Power – Atom
mp3 : British Sea Power – Monsters of Sunderland

Enjoy your week folks.

S-WC

JC adds…….

S-WC, in his covering e-mail, didn’t know whether this incident was comic or tragic.  In a sense it is a bit of both and being a bit of a sick fuck I veer towards it being hilarious.  It is, as Aldo said when I gave him a sneak preview, like an outake from The Office.  Oh and I now know that Tim Badger drinks rum.

I love BSP and they are on the list of bands that will one day get the Imaginary Albums treatment but not for a while as I’ve a few already written and waiting their turn to appear (including some cracking guest postings….keep them coming)

As for this series, S-WC needs another random selection for next week.  Thus far we’ve had 8, 17, 18 and 25 – all other numbers between 1 – 28 remain available.

 

NOPE……I STILL DON’T RATE IT HIGHLY

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My recent efforts to come up with the perfect imaginary album for Aztec Camera caused a few folk to comment about the lack of any tracks from the 1984 LP Knife with a number suggesting that it is very much an underrated record. I thought I’d offer up a personal perspective if that’s OK with you guys and gals….

The biggest and most obvious issue facing Knife is that it isn’t High Land Hard Rain MkII. There are always great expectations of any singer or band whose debut LP has taken the world by storm and the pressures more often than not lead to ‘difficult second album syndrome’. Nobody however, anticipated this being an issue for Aztec Camera given just how bloody brilliant the songs had been thus far from the Postcard debuts through to the b-sides of the singles lifted from HLHR. Plus there was the fact that Malcolm Ross who was already a legend in Scottish music circles thanks to his involvement with Josef K and Orange Juice – was now part of the band; it was the very thought of him and Roddy both playing guitar on the new material that whetted many an appetite.

And then it was revealed that the choice of producer was to be Mark Knopfler who at the time was flying very high with Dire Straits but whose songs and style was very much at odds with the Glasgow indie cognoscenti. Some immediately anticipated disaster while others, and I was among them, thought it was an inspired choice that would surely bring out the best in the Roddy and Malcolm as far as guitar playing went.

Some of the new songs were aired in the live setting with one such occasion being a free early evening gig at Glasgow Barrowlands in August 1984 that was broadcast as part of a continuous 15 hour music show on BBC2 (The Cure would also perform from the same venue later in the evening, again as free gig). The crowd response to the new material was fairly muted, partly out of a lack of familiarity with the material but partly as they just didn’t seem to be as strong as the older songs.

A few days later, All I Need Is Everything was released as the advance single. It was a shock to the system. Not as much for the a-side which was decent enough if a tad blander and less catchy than most of us would have liked but for the fact that the b-side being a cover of Jump by Van Halen. Maybe it was meant to be ironic but I hated the original with a passion and just couldn’t bring myself to endure Roddy’s take on it.  The other thing that was worrying about the a-side was the fact, just like the remix of Walk Out To Winter when it was released as a 45, there was a fair bit of reliance on a synthesiser on the record which didn’t sit too easy with a number of fans who saw Aztec Camera as being very much a guitar band akin to The Smiths and Everything But The Girl.

The single didn’t quite bomb but three weeks floating around in the mid-30s on the charts was not the outcome the folk at WEA had been anticipating…and the critical backlash to the release of the album just a few weeks later did nothing to help.

More than 30 years on, I’m still of the view that Knife is a stinker of a record albeit it does have the occasional decent moment. Let’s get the truly awful out-of-the-way first………….and that is the fact that the title track would not have sounded out-of-place on a Dire Straits record. It is nine minutes long; it is more akin to noodling or jamming than a proper song; it was unlistenable then and it remains that way today. The one saving grace is that it was the closing track on side 2 and so you could race over to the turntable and lift the needle out of the groove before it started.

Knife also disappointed in other ways. Having only eight songs meant fans felt a bit short-changed. The extended version of All I Need Is Everything on the album was a total waste of time as all we got was two minutes of bland elevator synth muzak tagged on at the end. There wasn’t much evidence of the indie-pop guitar sound many of us had been hoping albeit album opener Still On Fire just about fits bill but is let down again by a reliance on synths in the instrumental break.

I suppose if I hadn’t known anything about Aztec Camera before the release of Knife then I’d have been impressed with Just Like The USA and The Birth of the True but they felt at the time, and still do, as poor relations to tracks on HLHR. Such were the standards on which they were being judged.

The remaining three tracks don’t do anything for me. I was particularly disappointed with Back Door To Heaven, the ballad that closes side one of the album which has an awful production complete with Roddy struggling with a vocal style that was completely alien to him.

So there you have it. A highly personal view that Knife doesn’t cut it. It’s no shock that it cost the band a fair chunk of its initial fanbase., that it also sold poorly and led to a major rethink from all concerned. It would take three years before the next Aztec Camera album would be released by which time only Roddy Frame was left from those who had been involved in the first two records…..

mp3 : Aztec Camera – Still On Fire
mp3 : Aztec Camera – Just Like The USA
mp3 : Aztec Camera – The Birth Of The True

and NOT from the album:-

mp3 : Aztec Camera – All I Need Is Everything (single version)

Enjoy

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #33: OMD

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rhetor has been back in touch again from Canada with what I think is a great piece on a band that were much better in their day than many have given them credit…..and a band that was the firsy ‘synth’ act I ever caught live at the Glasgow Apollo on 10 November 1980.

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According to good old Wikipedia, “The Quietus magazine editor John Doran once remarked: “Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are not one of the best synth bands ever: they are one of the best bands ever.”

Yes, I figure some TVV readers will say that is putting the case a little strongly, but I really think it would be a dreadful shame if people limited their listening to the first few “experimental” singles that date from the period of their Kraftwerkesque sound and the days of their Peter Saville and Factory Records association, and write the band off as having “sold out” around the time the film Pretty In Pink came out with its chart-topping If You Leave single.

The band itself laughs off the success of this song, by the way, noting that it was written literally over night when the record label asked them for a “hit” (to break through in the lucrative American market) and at the request of film maker John Hughes, who asked them for a new song fast to fit the revised ending of his film (after a last-minute script change owing to negative test market reactions to his original planned ending).

And of course, some may not even be aware that the band is still a going concern, both touring worldwide, and releasing two new albums and a third in the works, all in the last five years. I was lucky enough to catch them live in July 2013 in Toronto, on my birthday no less, at one of their last live shows to date before, three days later (and also in Toronto) band member Malcolm Holmes had a heart incident in mid-show, and the band was forced to take an unforeseen break from live gigs.

But the show I got to see was fantastic, sweaty, and packed, and I danced like such a maniac stage-side that singer Andy McCluskey gave me a huge grin and a thumbs-up (though he is known himself for his energetic, unusual and sometimes gawky moves!).

Side A

Track 1: Enola Gay (from the 1980 album Organisation)

Likely the band’s most recognized and iconic song, this is a great introduction to the dual nature of so many OMD songs: a danceable and poppy synthesizer sound, but married to much darker lyrics…this time about the airplane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

There is in fact generally a fascination in the songs of OMD with historical air, rail, and naval transportation. That is, the sometimes strikingly transcendent potential of all three is often contrasted with their darker destructive power, a theme which runs through the songs and albums of the band throughout their 35 year career. This is perhaps most obvious when one glances from the 1983 Dazzle Ships concept album to the 1993 Liberator album (with its nose cone cover art), to their most recent work following the 2006 resurrection of the band following a ten-year hiatus, 2013’s English Electric.

Track 2: Electricity (from the album the 1980 album Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)

Continuing with the theme of the history of technology, this song makes the perhaps natural connection between synthesizer music’s novel sound, and the power behind it that makes it all possible.

The real feat of the song is that the emotional range and warmth of the voice of singer Andy McCluskey offsets so naturally the “colder” machine generated synthetic sound of the instrumental track. Along with other club hits such as Tesla Girls and Telegraph, the theme of exploring the potential for both good and harm in even the simplest forms of technology continues, through the very unexpected medium of new wave dance music, treated from the uniquely historical perspective of “hindsight”.

Track 3: Maid of Orleans (from the 1981 album Architecture and Morality)

A lovely tune, and one of two songs about Joan of Arc on the same album, both released as singles. This track was originally to be titled Joan of Arc as well, but the record label told them that was just nuts…

Track 4: Forever Live and Die (from the 1986 album The Pacific Age)

One of my favourite OMD tracks, in fact, as for some reason I can’t get enough of the soaring vocals of the line in the chorus, with its sudden descent into the title, “I never know, I never know, I never know, I never know why…Forever Live and Die”. Maybe it’s just me…

Track 5: International (from the 1983 album Dazzle Ships)

For me, this is the best track on what is probably the strongest, and most experimental “long ahead of its time” album the band ever created, Dazzle Ships. So good it was, in fact, that it lost the band about 90% of its audience overnight, but satisfied the band’s inner need to experiment with every electronic toy, every tape loop, every news reel sample, every strange sound and industrial screech at their disposal. So I have placed it in its original place, the closing song on the first side of the album.

Side B

Track 6: Metroland (from the 2013 album English Electric)

This is the stand-out track and first single from the bands most recent album, which has actually done quite respectably, both critically and in the all-important sales category. The album itself reached number 1 on the UK Indie Music Charts, and Number 8 on the US Dance Charts. If you listen, you will note that it is really a return to the original sound that made OMD unique, but with just that touch of modern that was enough to catch the eye of the professional club remixers, as one can see by the 6 or so different versions available through the beatport.com dj website, or more inexpensively through YouTube…

Track 7: Secret (from the 1985 album Crush)

This was never as big a hit in the rest of the world, apparently, as it was in my native Canada, for whatever reason—perhaps it is the “children’s chorus of the titular word ‘Secret’ that many find off-putting.

On the band’s website forum, where front-man Andy McCluskey is kind enough to put in frequent appearances, answering questions and offering opinions, he puts it down to the fact that the record label forced radio stations to pull it early to make way for the “next big single” So In Love, before it had time to make any real impact.

But on Toronto indie and alternative radio stations, it played in heavy rotation, and that was (I date myself) the year I was in 8th grade, that difficult and yearning year of awkward parties, relationships which formed quickly and broke up inexplicably, and, yes, secrets, so in a way I think of this as a kind of soundtrack song for that entire period. And when the band chose it (at the crowd’s request) as the encore at the concert they played in Toronto, on a hot sweaty July day in a crammed club packed with people dancing as if they were still crazy and still in 8th grade, it seemed just perfect for the occasion.

Track 8: Pulse (from the 2010 album History of Modern)

The Allmusic review of the album refers to this track as “neo-electro sleaze, full of bedroom whispers, moans, and yearning yelps”, and suggests it is one of the stand-out tracks of the album in being an experimental update to the OMD sound for 2006, after the band had been defunct for a decade.

The album HOM itself is not necessarily their strongest, and not overly experimental musically the way the pre-Pretty-in-Pink albums were, in way more sure to pique the interest of critics, but I figure every good electronic album needs its sleaze, and track 8 is about the right place for it. And one can’t ignore the modern incarnation of OMD either, if one is to be honest…both “new” albums are worth the listen.

Track 9: Souvenir (from the 1981 album Architecture and Morality)

A return here to the earlier material, and the more conventionally “critically approved” material, this time with founder and synth-player Paul Humphreys taking a turn on vocals (as he does, incidentally, on Secret, though this is relatively rare in the band catalogue).  But did you hear the 1998 remixes by Sash and Moby, with their deep house re-envisioning of the songs? I believe the interested can find them on YouTube…

Track 10: Messages (from the 1980 album Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark)

It is somehow fitting, I think, to end off with what was the band’s very first hit single from their very first album. It just goes to show how far a very, very simple synthesizer line can take you. I recently picked up from eBay copies of the 10” single for both this and Souvenir, as I have recently taken a great delight in collecting that rarest of vinyl beasts, the 10”.

I am always fascinated at just what makes a band (or a record label) choose that particular beautiful but unwieldy format. Actually, I have a suggestion that I am daring to put out there, for a new series that the The Vinyl Villain (and his followers and contributors) might wish someday to pursue: Top Ten Ten-Inches in Ten Days. Looking at my collection of vinyl, I have always felt the 10” selection, though slim, to be somewhat special…and I am really curious what lurks in the cupboards of TVV in that direction….

And that is it. And if you’ll note, I did not even include “If You Leave”…though it’s not at all a bad song, really…

rehetor

mp3 : OMD – Enola Gay
mp3 : OMD – Electricity
mp3 : OMD – Maid Of Orleans
mp3 : OMD – Forever Live and Die
mp3 : OMD – International
mp3 : OMD – Metroland
mp3 : OMD – Secret
mp3 : OMD – Pulse
mp3 : OMD – Souvenir
mp3 : OMD – Messages

JC adds…..

I too have said 10″ single and featured it back in Dec 2013:-

https://thenewvinylvillain.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/a-great-often-neglected-synth-pop-classic/

It is one of only about 15 singles I have in that shape and size.

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 31 of 48)

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Yesterday’s posting was about Biff Bang Pow! with its members numbering whose initial line-up was Alan McGee on guitar and vocals, Dick Green on guitar, Joe Foster on bass, and Ken Popple on drums but who, after two singles, saw Dave Evans replace while and guitarist/organist Andrew Innes joined on a part-time basis.

Let’s have a look at the line-up of The Revolving Paint Dream……Andrew Innes, Christine Wanless, Ken Popple and Alan McGee!

Wanless was both the vocalist and the girlfriend of Innes while McGee was seen as an occasional part-time member. In 1984 they released a debut single on Creation but nothing else would emerge until 1987 when an eight-song mini LP was released. By 1989, Luke Hayes had replaced Popple as drummer and that same year a second single and full length album were put out.  And that was that, although to be fair Innes got rather busy with Primal Scream from there on in….

The song on CD86 is the debut single…a real piece of psychedelic rock which is not a genre I’m all that fond of:-

mp3 : The Revolving Paint Dream – Flowers In The Sky

It has the distinction of being the second ever release on Creation (73 in 83 by The Legend! was the first release). Here’ s the song from the flip side:-

mp3 : The Revolving Paint Dream – In The Afternoon

Enjoy

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #25 : BIFF BANG POW!

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I debated this one in my head.  Some would argue that Biff Bang Pow! were a London band given that was where they were formed.  But as they centred around Alan McGhee I’ve decided they merit a place in this series.

McGee had previously been in The Laughing Apple who had released three singles in the early 80s.  Having moved from Glasgow to London he formed Biff Bang Pow!, whose initial  line-up was McGee on guitar and vocals,  Dick Green on guitar, Joe Foster on bass, and Ken Popple on drums but after two singles Dave Evans replaced Foster (who went solo as Slaughter Joe), while and guitarist/organist Andrew Innes (later to join Primal Scream) joined on a part-time basis.

They were naturally part of the Creation label and over a seven year period they released a total of 13 singles or albums none of which sold in any huge quantities.

I only have one of their songs and it came courtesy of its inclusion on a compilation CD:-

mp3 : Biff Bang Pow! – She Paints

I’ve done some digging and discovered it is the b-side of a 1988 single called She Haunts which I had a listen to on-line and thought was half-decent.

Enjoy

SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW – DEAD HOPE

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The VV inbox receives hundreds of emails each week with details of new and upcoming bands and singers. As much as I would like to filter through them and find those gems that might be of interest to T(n)VV readers I simply don’t have the time. And besides, most up and coming bands want to attract the attention of a young fan base whose social media skills will quickly spread the good word and the endorsement of a 52 year-old Peter Pan figure might actually count against them.

But I’m making an exception for today only and drawing to your attention demo tracks that have been recorded by a Glasgow-based trio named Dead Hope. The poster above I think is from their debut gig a few months back…its certainly just about all I could find to illustrate this post….and the band have been brought to my attention by Basil Pieroni of Butcher Boy who, as he admits, is friends with its members. Basil knows me well enough however, to realise that I don’t just put things on the blog as a favour to someone and so he handed over a CD and said it wouldn’t matter if I had a listen and filed it away. The thing is though, I do like what I heard:-

mp3 : Dead Hope – Truth Be Told
mp3 : Dead Hope – Swordz

Both songs bring back memories of that warm noisy fuzzbox sound that was very fashionable for a period back in the 80s while there’s a hint of wonderful and much missed Urusei Yatsura about them too.

Turns out there’s a few other that like them too – Steve Lamacq played one of the songs on his BBC 6 show a couple of weeks back after receiving a copy of the demo.

Heres a link to the band’s Facebook page.  Feel free to drop in say hi to them.

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (24)

The Shoebox of Delights – #17 – Chosen by JC
Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos – The Beta Band

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Bands very often don’t quite live up to their early work and here perhaps is the best example of a band that were guilty of exactly that. Every single minute of the first three Beta Band EP’s is essential listening (yes even ‘The Monolith’) and for me the best of the bunch is the third one ‘Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos’. Strangely I’d been thinking about doing an Imaginary Compilation for The Beta Band and I still hope that when I head off to the cricket in the next few days they will magically appear as the 11th track and force me to write it. Also I recently sold my vinyl copy of ‘Champion Versions’ to an American guy on Ebay for £110 so they hold a special place in my heart, just for that (saying that I also got £35 for a 7” copy of the very first Stereophonics single – a record which I would have actually given away for free, I digress).

So let me gush a bit about The Beta Band, if you ask me – and you sort of are – The Beta Band helped drag rock music into the 21st century and didn’t really get any credit for doing it. At the end of the 90s Britpop was dying on its arse and The Beta Band came up to it stroked its head and said ‘follow us’. They opened the door to a wonderful new world. A world where hip hop rock electronica, folk and summery pop tunes could be melted together to form a new sound.

Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos is perhaps the darkest of the three EP’s and it is a much slower type of record. Three of the tracks on here ‘It’s Over’, ‘Push It Out’ and ‘Dr Baker’ appear to be a little preoccupied with death and heartbreak. It the middle of ‘Its Over’ you hear Steve Mason sum this up by singing ‘Please reassure me I’m doing all right’ (you are doing just fine Steve). Then you get some Bird Song, and that is never a good idea in music, but here, it works.

‘Push It Out’ starts with a solitary cymbal and it’s quite an otherworldly track sounds like it was recorded in space or deep under water. After the cymbal you get bass, piano, and then handclaps. Then drums come in and then…Then Steve Mason starts singing. Sublime.

‘Dr Baker’ has a simple sound piano led but it’s a beautifully sad track. The way that the piano twinkles along with a vocal that is a bit chant like and does it continuously over the track seamlessly is brilliant and seemingly effortless. I want to mention the lyrics that appear mid way into this song

“Dr. Baker phoned me again later that day/Said he cried and he really sounded out of it/His wife was dead and his dog was dead/And misery planned inside his head/I tried to reason with him, tried singing/He said, “No boy you’ll never listen”/Try it again, try it again/Try it again, again, again”

I mean, that beautiful isn’t it? If there has to be doom and heartbreak and anguish and ultimately death, I hope that when I meet my maker, Steve Mason is there to sing to my loved ones because, well just because.

Then after all the doom, you get ‘Needles In My Eyes’ a track which is profoundly hopeful – it contains lines like ‘Last night I dropped my heart and I never want to see it again’, a line which describes numbness and emptiness better than most other records that try. Obviously this is the Beta Band’s ‘break up’ record, and it is I guess a pretty sad set of tracks, but the way ‘Needles In My Eyes’ lifts it is nothing short of genius (In my eyes this is the second best track they ever recorded, after ‘She’s the One’ and before ‘Dry The Rain’).

We all know that feeling, and we all think at the time that it will last forever – and whilst its pretty obvious that Steve Mason is feeling terrible, after listening to this, you know he is going to make it – Ok it took a few years and a questionable first actual album before he got there –but he got there.

This is an utterly wonderful record – why it sat so long in my attic waiting to be downloaded I cannot work out, perhaps I thought I’d already done it (I have had the other two EPs done and dusted for years). Doesn’t matter, quality still sounds like quality when you find it again.

mp3 : The Beta Band – It’s Over
mp3 : The Beta Band – Push It Out
mp3 : The Beta Band – Dr Baker
mp3 : The Beta Band – Needles In My Eye

So that was Number 17. Let’s have a few more numbers please…..

JC adds…….

The fact that my choice of #17 turned out to be the same band as was featured in last weekend’s Scottish song is completely coincidental…..it’s like those time when you have your i-pod on shuffle and the song you are thinking of comes on next in a 12,000-1 chance.

THE JAM SINGLES (4)

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The first of the singles to have Bruce Foxton on lead vocal.  The third single in a row by The Jam to feature ‘World’ in the title.  The first single NOT to appear on an album with the band and label shying away from lifting a second single from the critically beaten-up This Is The Modern World album.

Released on 11 March 1978, it performed reasonably well by reaching #27 in the charts.

mp3 : The Jam – News of the World

The b-side had two new songs, one of which was a Weller composition and the other being from Foxton:-

mp3 : The Jam – Aunties and Uncles (Impulsive Youths)
mp3 : The Jam – Innocent Man

It would go onto be re-released as a 7″ single by Polydor Records on two more occasions – in 1980 and 1983  hitting #53 and #39 respectively.  It’s worth noting that the 1983 chart showing was much higher than most of the other singles re-released at that time showing that newer fans were very keen to get their hands on three songs otherwise unavailable.

Just the one additional recording on offer today and it’s from the Paris Theatre in London gig on 1 June 1978 recorded for the BBC series Sight and Sound:-

mp3 : The Jam – News of the World (live)

It’s one where you can appreciate that Weller was actually a decent guitarist in the live setting….it was I’m guessing easier for him to concentrate on his playing when he wasn’t having to also sing lead vocal.

Enjoy

BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS…

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Tim’s imaginary compilation album yesterday understandably concentrated on what is rightly regarded as the band’s golden period.  But I’m a bit of a sucker for one of their early songs dating back to 1985 and released as the lead track on an 12″ EP on Fire Records:-

mp3 : Pulp – Little Girl (With Blue Eyes)

It is a precursor to the sort of lyric and tune that would much later on provide the band with critical acclaim and commercial success.

Here’s the equally wonderful b-sides the last of which doesn’t have Jarvis on lead vocal duties:-

mp3 : Pulp – Simultaneous
mp3 : Pulp – Blue Glow
mp3 : Pulp – The Will To Power

Looking back, it was probably just as well that the single was a flop as it would have set the band on an entirely different course and they would in all likelihood have broken up before the 90s came along.

Enjoy.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #32 : PULP

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Tim Badger is back again with another marvellous contribution to the series…..

Way back when Britpop was all about Blur vs Oasis, the really cool kids chose Pulp. In Pulp the nerdy kids had a hero, Jarvis Cocker. Cocker a literary and gawky frontman became a sex symbol, famous for peddling a mix of disco and cheesy 80s synth sound with a sideline in frankly pervy lyrics. It is perhaps more clear now than it was at the time that he would define a generation. That generation being the Britpop era. Pulp had been around in varying forms since the early 80s – and yet didn’t really come to real attention until 1993, the year Cocker turned 30 – and it was perhaps this that stood them apart, a sense of mature wit and a different outlook.

In Pulp’s songs, the topics were more adult and realistic, the sex was dirtier and less satisfying, the relationships more fractious and they had characters that you identified with because we’d all been there. This compilation is made up from their three most successful records ‘This is Hardcore’ in 1998, ‘Different Class’ in 1995 and ‘His n Hers’ in 1994. I wanted to include the track ‘Like A Friend’ from Great Expectations OST but I can’t find the CD I have with it on. Sorry. It would have been Track 2 on Side 2

I should perhaps take a moment to acknowledge ‘We Love Life’. This is a gorgeous, expansive album that is much under rated. I tried to get a song on this list but just couldn’t fit it in. It would have been ‘Sunrise’ and it would have ended the compilation. I love that record but it isn’t ‘David’s Last Summer’ which does end the record. The strength of their three album run from ’94 to ’98 is just too overpowering. I’d also point you towards the B-Side of the single This is Hardcore called ‘It’s a Dirty World’ which also should have made this Compilation, but again got shunted by the others.

Side One

1. Babies (from His ‘n’ Hers, 1994)

After about ten years the wilderness, Pulp emerged with this tale of teenage tea time obsession. It begins innocently enough with Jarvis talking about afternoons with girls in bedrooms – before he goes well a bit perverse and then delivering this withering punchline “I only went with her ‘cause she looked like you!”

2. F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. (from Different Class, 1995)

There was a real war going on between whether it was going to be “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.” or “Sorted for E’s & Wizz” that made it on this list and the latter almost won based purely on that awesome synth thing that happens about two and a half minutes in. But in the end I went with this (and forgive me if I leave out the .’s and just call it ‘Feeling’. This is one of the most bizarre songs Pulp ever did – it sounds like Jarvis is coming down from a bad trip but in reality it’s just a bad case of obsession. Lyrically its amongst the best (and claustrophobic) that Jarvis ever wrote and the way its bursts into the chorus is virtually theatrical.

3. The Fear (from This Is Hardcore, 1998)

“This is the sound of someone losing the plot/ Making out that they’re okay when they’re not/ You’re gonna like it, but not a lot/ And the chorus goes like this.” With that line, Pulp delivered the bleak mission of their darkest and most personal work ‘This is Hardcore’ . After finally becoming the celebrity Jarvis was always destined to be – I think he realised that he didn’t want after all – he was in danger of turning into a 1990s equivalent of Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs. Unusually for a Pulp track, the keyboard sound of Candida Doyle is hardly there on this song and is replaced by guitars. Sure its bleak but it’s probably their most rewarding song.

4. Disco 2000 (from Different Class 1995)

How many of us can identify with this. The wild expectations of childhood infatuations which come crashing down in adulthood. Everything from the shameless ripping off ‘Gloria’ from the 80s to the wonderful lyrics of this make this songs essential. Disco 2000 is a pretty much like a school disco on record. A magnificent tribute to the one that got away.

5. Pink Glove (from His ‘n’ Hers, 1994)

For me this is the highlight of Pulp’s breakthrough LP and nicely sets out the band’s stall as social commentators with a sordid twist. The object of our narrator’s affections is desperate to please her man – but she should be with our Jarvis, who’d have her just the way she is. Bless.

Side Two

1. Common People (From Different Class, 1995)

Quite simply one of the best British singles, ever, by anyone. Absolutely their defining song, and the classic song of the Britpop era. I toyed with the idea of leaving it off just to be controversial but then I realised that I can’t write about Pulp without mentioning it. It’s too good a record. As a song it scathing yet hilarious, deeply personal yet turns an eye to larger social questions, intelligent yet simple enough to fit within a massively infectious pop melody. And to top it all triumphant enough to close a live show.

2. Do You Remember The First Time? (From His n Hers’, 1994)

Jarvis the lounge suited Romeo reminisces about his first love to whom he is now a distant memory. The thing about this song, when you strip away the melody and the soaring chorus, is that, it is one of Pulps more powerful moments, its urgent, yearning and ferocious but yet fragile, like it would fall apart if you nudged it too hard.

3. This is Hardcore (from This Is Hardcore, 1998)

Clocking in at over six minutes, this is a sordid tale of secrets buried in PVC raincoats. Its sounds indescribably sinister. It s adopts a late night vibe and a raft of distorted guitar riffs that eventually gives way to strings and sounds so utterly dejected. One of the saddest Pulp songs around and probably the closest thing that geeks have to ‘Sexual Healing’.

4. Something Changed (from Different Class, 1995)

Yes, another single, sorry it is single heavy, yet, what singles they are. Something Changed is Pulp at their sweetest, with Pulp pondering fate, chance and relationships. When you look at love songs, 99% are clichéd drivel, but this is in the 1% that stand out.

5. David’s Last Summer (from His ‘n’ Hers, 1994)

The glory of Pulp is that they don’t really feel like a band who just stitch songs together – nor do they just build to crescendo and stop. They fell like stories unfolding, often narrated and this is perhaps the best story they recorded. Jarvis sings “Drunk on the Sun, I Suppose” before shouting “I Want you to Stay!” as the violins and distortion overcomes him. You never find out why this was Davids Last Summer, I’m guessing that it was a song about the loss of youth or perhaps a person, but it’s the greatest ending of an album that I can think of.

Tim B

mp3 : Pulp – Babies
mp3 : Pulp – F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E
mp3 : Pulp – The Fear
mp3 : Pulp – Disco 2000
mp3 : Pulp – Pink Glove
mp3 : Pulp – Common People
mp3 : Pulp – Do You Remember The First Time?
mp3 : Pulp – This Is Hardcore
mp3 : Pulp – Something Changed
mp3 : Pulp – David’s Last Summer

JC adds…………….Pulp were on my list of bands to feature in this series and my ten wouldn’t have been too far removed from Tim’s offering.  I can however, provide a bonus track for him given that he wanted to include it on the LP but didn’t have the song to hand:-

mp3 : Pulp – Like A Friend

Enjoy.