A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (40)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MONDAY 31 MARCH 2008
(also resurrected and featured on 21 April 2014)

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There’s a terrific little song from the late Ian Dury called Their Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards in which a number of folk from the entertainment industry are given a loving name check. I’d like to think that if anyone was around willing to update the song, they would have a go at including the name of Andy Partridge.

He is of course best known as the guitarist and main songwriter for XTC. However, he’s also recorded songs under a string of aliases and worked with dozens of other acts either as producer, songwriter or performer. Away from music, he’s been an agony-aunt on a Radio 1 show, a panelist on quiz shows and he’s written a series of comedy sketches that have appeared on television in the UK. Oh and in doing some more research, I learned that he’s also had an uncredited one-off appearance as a cricket commentator in the cartoon series Family Guy.

Not bad for a guy who suffered from such appalling stage-fright that he insisted his band give up touring just as they were becoming famous – a decision which in all likelihood cost them a place at the top table of the very best of British pop groups as the opportunities to grow the fan base was limited to radio and the odd TV appearance.

And yet it may have been the ability to concentrate entirely on studio output rather than a live sound that made XTC so special to so many people as they released one excellent album after another over a fifteen-year period up to the early 1990s. And every album produced at least one humdinger of a single, even if many of them failed to trouble the higher echelons of the charts.

They first came to prominence in late 1979 with Making Plans For Nigel, a song on which the lead vocals were taken by bassist Colin Moulding, thus leading many newcomers to thinking that he and not Partridge was the main driving force behind XTC. The two follow-up singles in the early months of 1980, Ten Feet Tall and Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down were Partridge compositions and vocals, but both flopped. At this point in time, it would have been fair to think that the band could have quietly faded away having enjoyed their brief flirt with fame.

But later that year came the release of the LP Black Sea, a truly stunning and wonderful piece of work of which just about any of the 11 tracks could have been a hit single. In the end, four singles were released by Virgin Records, of which the biggest hit was, at long-last, a Partridge number – Sgt Rock (Is Going To Help Me)

With no tours to concern them, the band were soon back at work in the studio with Partridge promising that the next LP would be the one they would be best remembered for. The first taste of what was to come appeared in January 1982, with the release of the single Senses Working Overtime, which went Top 10. The LP followed a month later. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to Partridge’s pre-release claims.

Maybe the problem was that it was a double LP which was a bit of a rarity in the post-punk days (London Calling notwithstanding), with some songs stretching out to over six minutes in length, which again was unusual for the period in question. The follow-up singles Ball and Chain, and No Thugs In Our House also flopped.

Never slow to cash in on one of their acts having some time in the limelight, Virgin Records put out Waxworks, a collection of singles spanning 1977-1982 just in time for the Xmas market.

The band then recorded and released the LPs Mummer in 1983, The Big Express in 1984 and Skylarking in 1986 to little or no fanfare. But 1987 saw another upturn in their fortunes with the song Dear God, which began life as a b-side but was later resurrected as a single (shades of The Smiths and How Soon Is Now?). This period coincided with MTV in America picking up on the band, and the 1989 Double LP Oranges and Lemons, as well the singles King For A Day and The Loving sold as well as anything in their career.

Another double LP, Nonsuch, was released in 1992 at which point in time the band fell out with Virgin Records. As a consequence, it would take until 1999 before the next XTC album came out, although the intervening period was filled with yet more collections of hits and rarities.

I’m a big fan of just about any of the singles XTC released between 1977 and 1992. They were lyrically clever and the tunes were more often than not different from most of the pop fodder that was kicking around. Neither did the band didn’t stick with one particular sound throughout that period in time.

You should have spotted from the picture that accompanies this post that the song I most like is :-

mp3 : XTC – Senses Working Overtime

I love the really quiet acoustic opening and the gradual build-up in tempo and sound all the way to Andy Partridge calling out 1-2-3-4-5 and then the infectious chorus. There’s just so much to enjoy in this song with all sorts of instrumentation going on in the background. It’s fantastically produced and it has aged magnificently. I dare you to listen and not sing-along. I’m almost disappointed in myself that it only reached #40 in this particular rundown….

Three b-sides to enjoy:-

mp3 : XTC – Egyptian Solution
mp3 : XTC – Blame The Weather
mp3 : XTC – Tissue Tigers

THE JAM SINGLES (14)

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We have now reached 16 October 1981 and the band’s fourteenth single.  And the first since I had fallen head over heels with them that left me disappointed.

I didn’t quite understand at the time that it was impossible for any musician or and to maintain incredibly high standards in their career and that at some point in time there has to be a dip in quality.  It would happen in due course with almost every other band that sustained any sort of lengthy career without a break but as this was the first time I’d seen it happen to one off mine I just didn’t get it….

In addition to fourteen singles The Jam had also released up to this point five studio LPs and all in a little over four years during which time they had toured almost non-stop on those occasions when they weren’t in the studio.  And Paul Weller had barely passed his 23rd birthday….

mp3 : The Jam – Absolute Beginners
mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank

I much preferred the b-side but still thought it inferior to many earlier b-sides and album tracks that were unknown to the wider public.   Little did any of us know at the time that the band were going through a bit of a crisis at the time in terms of future musical directions that would only become apparent over the next twelve months….

The first alternative version today again comes from the Studio B15 live show on 25 October 1981.  This time you have to tolerate 17 seconds of jingles and DJ waffle before the song kicks in

mp3 : The Jam – Absolute Beginners (BBC live version)

and then sadly, there’s more waffle from the DJ in the closing few seconds.

From the same show, and again spoiled somewhat by chat at the start and end:-

mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank (BBC live version)

The band would play both songs at the Golders Green gig at the end of December 1981:-

mp3 : The Jam – Absolute Beginners (live)
mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank (live)

And finally…..a version recorded in November 1981 and issued the following year as a flexidisc to fan club members (and no, I never did sign up and join….for some reason or other I never did that with any singer or band that I liked)

mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank (flexidisc version)

Oh and I almost forgot to mention. The single did reach #4 on its original release and then #83 when it was part of the batch of 1983 re-releases.

Enjoy

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (31)

The Shoebox of Delights – #3
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sometime Always

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It is nearly Easter 1994 and it is the day of my driving test. I am shitting it – I have no idea why I am doing my test – I can’t parallel park, my three point turn is more like a seventeen point turn and whilst practising bay parking in my Grandad’s Ford Escort I have hit a wall and a shopping trolley. The shopping trolley wasn’t even in the bay that I was reversing into. I am so going to fail. To make this worse it’s raining, in fact it’s absolutely effing it down.

I sit in my Grandads car waiting to go in – he looks at me and says “you’ll be fine, its easy” – he was a man of few words my grandad – he told me once that when he passed his driving test in 1963 that all he had to do was drive between two cones and the reverse back through and stick an arm out of the window. Because of this he was a lousy driver, I mean him no disrespect when I say that there an undiscovered tribes in the Amazon with no comprehension of cars, roads, traffic cones or clutch control that could drive better than him. In the thirty years he’d been driving, I think he’d changed gear correctly about twice, you could hear him coming down the road because of the load crunch of gears when he slowed down from third to second. He also refused to drive on motorways so it took literally for ever to get to some places, but he’d never had an accident, I mean he’d caused several thousand, but that’s not the point – right?

He switched the radio on – I think he wanted to get the result of the 1230 race at Doncaster – but instead he got rock music. I’d changed the channel whilst reverse parking in the car park at Tesco earlier in the day. The song that came on was ‘Happy when it Rains’ by Jesus and Mary Chain. I look out the window as the rain lashes down on the car. For the first and only time, I hear my Grandad say the F word followed by the words ‘load’ ‘of’ ‘noisy’ and ‘rubbish’. Then I hear the familiar sound of static and then the radio station he wanted. His sudden outburst had strangely relaxed me and I burst out laughing. I’d better get inside I said. “I’ll wait here, you’ll only be five minutes” he said utterly convinced that I was doing the same test as him. Although I still think I would fail that. As I get the door I see him rip up a small betting slip that he taken out of his blazer pockets (incidentally what is it with old chaps and blazers…?), I always wanted to hear his explanation to my Nan as to where her housekeeping money had gone.

Remarkably I passed. For the only time in my life – I managed to do a parallel park without driving backwards and forwards twenty times to get the angle right. My three point was exactly that. My emergency stop was so good it sent the instructors clipboard flying into his lap. I even did an additional emergency stop when the tractor appeared out of nowhere – this was a built up area in the middle of the Medway Towns, I have no idea what the tractor was doing there.

As I drove back into the test centre – “just park anywhere” the instructor says. I deliberately park next to Grandad’s car and give him a wave as I do so. He is asleep. Of course he is. I once found a hip flask full of whiskey in his glove box whilst looking for a pen. He always said it was for medicinal purposes.

The instructor looks at me – and he says “ I know you from somewhere”. Shit. I think. He looks at my name on his pad. Shit, I think again, I have just remembered where I know this bloke from. In all the worry about having the test, I realised that I have barely given the guy a look. He lives next door to Our Price Girl. I curse my luck – I mean what are the chances of that? I have met him twice. The first time was at a barbecue at her house for her Dad’s 45th birthday about eighteen months ago. The second time was when he caught me nipping out the backdoor at 6.30am as I was late for my morning job at a newsagents. That was three days ago. I know. I know.

I had no idea he was a driving test examiner. I thought he was a copper.

It took me about a week to phone her after the Green Day incident, I had tickets to see Pavement in London at the Town and Country Club – the girl I was intended to take – let’s call her Levellers Girl – couldn’t come – and I was going to give the ticket to mate, but changed my mind – or rather my loins changed it for me. So I asked Our Price Girl. She said yes straight away.

The gig was on the last day of February and it snowed. We spent most of the train ride up talking and then we danced (me badly, her gracefully, wonderfully) to our/my favourite band and spent the train ride home doing things on trains that were if it rush hour would have got us arrested (leaning out window, smoking that sort of thing). So we were back together. Sort of. It wasn’t official . Hence me sneaking out the back door, pants in hand at 6.30am. For now.

“Are you Dave’s son?” the voice said next to me, shaking me out of my (pleasant) memory. Now, my Dad is called Dave – so I said yes. “ I think I played football with him. Was he a goalkeeper?”. My dad played in goal for Gillingham – briefly – I’ll add – he gave it up because he preferred smoking to training – true story. Yes, I said again. That’s his dad sitting asleep in that car over there. “Frank” he said. Yes, I said, struggling to comprehend what the fuck was happening. Our Price Girl’s next door neighbour knows my entire family – how, what,why?

He embraced my Grandad like a long lost uncle. It was weird. I never asked him if he was Our Price Girl’s neighbour – I mean he definitely was – and as it happens I only went to her house once more and I didn’t leave through the back door.

Our Price Girl bought me this CD – as a late birthday present, it came out on July 1994, just before their new album ‘Stoned and Dethroned’. We’d spent a week on the Norfolk Broads and she bought it from a branch of Our Price in Norwich.

mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Sometimes Always
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – The Perfect Crime
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Little Stars
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Drop Re-Recorded

I played it constantly – she told me that the song reminded her of me and her particularly the ‘You ran away’ bit. I can sort of see what she meant. Exactly two weeks later, we were over. Again.

S-WC

JC adds…

a belated image to round off this piece.  It’s based on Dirk thinking out loud in the comments section and Badgerman later confirming something……
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As close as you’ll get to a photo of Our Price Girl.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #46 : DAFT PUNK

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An Imaginary Compilation – Daft Punk 

Written by guest contributor Aidan Baker

JC – your blog is wonderful, the range and variety of the music is terrific and a lot of it is new to me – just recently, there was a piece about Asian Dub Foundation, brilliant band, one I had never checked out before. It’s this that makes it so compulsive. I’ve been reading T(n)VV for about three years, having been sent a link by a friend of mine. I’m into all forms of music, but I’ve never contributed, I’ve never commented but I’ve downloaded so much from the site – I thought it might be time to offer something back – An Imaginary Compilation on my favourite band of all time – Daft Punk

First a history lesson. In 1992, the members of Daft Punk and one of fellow French music pioneers formed a band called Darlin’ – they signed to Stereolab’s label and even supported them a couple of times. Then came a review from Melody Maker which called them ‘Daft Punky Thrash’ – and Darlin’ immediately disbanded. Liking the term, the guys ditched the Phoenix chap and formed a new band – called Daft Punk.

They have been a band which have always pushed boundaries musically, their debut record ‘Homework’ drew heavily from the Chicago house scene. Their second record ‘Discovery’ was warmer and more emotional and has several nods to the 70s soul scene and even samples Barry Manilow on one track. Then ‘One More Time’ dropped and the world went Daft Punk crazy.

The third record ‘Human After All’ was panned but it is an excellent record full of massive tunes like ‘Technologic’. It plays on the robot angle more heavily – ‘Robot Rock’ for instance. However the love for Daft Punk was dropping, so sensing the public’s mood, Daft Punk vanished. Then they returned a few years later and teamed up with Pharrell Williams and released the biggest record in years  – ‘Get Lucky’. A record that is not that different from ‘One More Time’ just more reliant on Nile Rodgers than Will.i.am perhaps. The album that followed ‘Random Access Memories’ is easily the best record of this decade, although I think that will probably be controversial.

I guess that Daft Punk have been pushing boundaries since before they were even Daft Punk and I know that some of you will hate this, particularly the inclusion of ‘Get Lucky’ but here is my Imaginary Compilation for them.

Side One

Make Love (from Human After All, 2005)

As I said early, ‘Human After All’ was commercial and critically panned, it only took six weeks to record and is apparently ‘pure improvisation’. Most of the critics at the time said that it sounded ‘cheap’. ‘Make Love’ sounds like it was included on the album by mistake – I love the way it fades in and out and seem shorter than it is. The barely audible lyric –‘make love’ repeated over again, then the slow motion guitar and that lovely low murmuring piano.

Digital Love (from Discovery, 2001)

On this track Daft Punk took the chorus to heart and made their own dreams come true. The story behind the album ‘Discovery’ is that Daft Punk were trying to make an album that transported the listener back to a young age, about that feeling you get when you listen to music, different music, as a child, before you worry about being judged for liking something. ‘Digital Love’ does that better than anything else on the album.

Rollin & Scratchin (from Homework, 1997)

A song best described as an aural battery. A song that squeals away so much that it almost tortures you. The complete other side of Daft Punk, an acid house frenzy that sounds like the noise you get if you mess around with the AM settings on your old wireless radios. It is a sound that can also be heard in the next track…

Contact (from Random Access Memories, 2013)

I love the sample at the start of this. There is a simple beat and then an astronaut talking about the ‘bright object’ that ‘rotating because its flashing’ and then the final bit ‘there’s something out there’. So not only have Daft Punk released the greatest record of the last ten years or so, they have also managed to convince NASA to let them use a transcript from Apollo 17 (incidentally NASA say that the astronaut was referring to a discarded rocket). The song itself is a bit like a star exploding – a synthesizer that spins faster and faster that creates a noise so intense that actually you look forward to the song breaking and fizzling out to a close.

Giorgio By Moroder (from Random Access Memories, 2013)

To some, listening to disco and electro pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder relates his early life experience and music inspirations over nine minutes of zooming space funk complete with piano solos and strings and ‘clicks’ is probably not their idea of a good time. To me, it is utterly utterly essential. Damn Fine.

Side Two

Harder Better Faster Stronger (from Discovery, 2001)

I find it quite upsetting to think that there will be a generation of people who heard ‘Harder, Better, faster, Stronger’ first on Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’ and didn’t know it was a Daft Punk song. That needs rectifying. I was at Glastonbury when Yeezus started with it and I just wanted to Daft Punk to come out and say ‘SURPRISE’ – and then that Frankenstein vocal and that jittery cymbal crash in.

Around The World (from Homework, 1997)

Even though it’s ridiculous, “Around The World” goes hard. Its one hell of a record – That bass line heard that heavily borrows from Chic’s “Good Times”. That occasional sweep of a jet taking off. The mummies and skeletons and synchronized swimmers in the music video, and ultimately a melody focused on the repetition of the phrase “around the world” (up to 144 times in the original) all underline a track so effective in its simplicity and just pure Daft Punk.

Da Funk (from Homework, 1997)

Staying with the First Album – watch the video – its insane – but it is the best way to get to grips with the track. A guy trying to do the normal things, like buy books, get on a bus but can’t. Not because of the animatronic dog mask but because of the massive stereo that won’t stop playing. Is it a dream? – the alarm clock at the end suggests that, but again, this is a track held together by one simple infectious riff. The first Daft Punk I heard and I was hooked from then.

Get Lucky (from Random Access Memories, 2013)

The first million selling record of the decade I think. A record that is so good I can remember where I was when I first heard it. For me, Nile Rodgers makes it with that genre humping technique that he has that never gets tired. Pharrell has never sounded better either, and even manages that line about cruising to legend of the phoenix without chuckling. It was about three minutes in to this that I decided that Daft Punk were my favourite band ever.

One More Time (from Discovery, 2001)

I’ll end with perhaps Daft Punks most iconic moment. The late great Romanthony sings his way through this infectious slice of brilliance. His voice sounds perfect over the throb of that beat. ‘One More Time’ is utterly irresistible. As it states throughout it ‘We’re gonna celebrate all night’ – who can say no to that. Totally wonderful right down to the church bells that end it.

mp3 : Daft Punk – Make Love
mp3 : Daft Punk – Digital Love
mp3 : Daft Punk – Rollin’ & Scratchin’
mp3 : Daft Punk – Contact
mp3 : Daft Punk – Giorgio by Moroder
mp3 : Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stronger
mp3 : Daft Punk – Around The World
mp3 : Daft Punk – Da Funk
mp3 : Daft Punk – Get Lucky
mp3 : Daft Punk – One More Time

AIDAN 

MUSIC OF QUALITY AND DISTINCTION ???

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While over in Toronto recently, I had the good fortune to pick a near-mint copy of Music of Quality and Distinction for the equivalent of £2.50.  I’ve long had a cassette-copy of the album but this would be the first time for me on vinyl.

The album was attributed to British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.) who, in effect, were Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, the two blokes who had been booted out of The Human League but would go on to enjoy huge success with Heaven 17.

Penthouse and Pavement had been a hit album for their band in 1981 and their label Virgin Records afforded them the luxury of a vanity project that was recorded and released in 1982.  The idea was to bring in a series of guest artists to perform cover versions in a style that would be mainly akin to the Heaven 17 style.  The choice of guests raised a few eyebrows.

Side A

1. Tina Turner – Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)

Back in 1982, Tina Turner was considered a washed-up, 40-something singer whose best days were long behind her; indeed she was without a record deal at the time. The B.E.F. boys knew differently and brought her in to provide the lung power for a tremendous version of a song that had originally been a hit for The Temptations in 1970. It was a blend of the B.E.F. synth sound and the pop/funk/jazz contributions of Beggar & Co (whose members contributed greatly to the recording of many songs on the album). Record bosses sat up and took notice and Tina was soon on the roster of Capitol Records for whom she became a top-selling pop artist for much of the decade during which she never came near to recording anything as great as the B.E.F. track

2. Billy Mackenzie – The Secret Life of Arabia

It was the inclusion of Billy Mackenzie that got me to buy the cassette back in 1982. This was his typically OTT take on the closing track of Heroes, the David Bowie album released in 1977 and it is driven along by a great contribution from Beggar & Co guitarist Nevil ‘Breeze’ McKreith. A real highlight of Side One which is just as well given what follows….

3. Paul Jones – There’s A Ghost In My House

The former lead singer of Manfred Mann was better known as an actor back in 1982, although many of his appearances were in stage musicals, and he hadn’t bothered the charts in over a decade. This cover version of the R.Dean Taylor hit single is flat and uninspiring but it may well have given Mark E Smith an idea or two as the instrumentation isn’t a million miles away from the version we could release five years later.

4. Paula Yates – These Boots Were Made For Walking

The album was released just a matter of months before Paula Yates became a household name thanks to her being one of the main presenters of the music show The Tube which aired on the newly launched Channel 4 in the UK. At the point she had gone into the recording studio, she was best known as the girlfriend of Bob Geldof and as a columnist for the weekly rock/pop paper Record Mirror. This infectiously camp cover of the Nancy Sinatra smash from 1966 sounds as if it was great fun to make but Yates’s talents don’t stretch to lead vocals.

5. Gary Glitter – Suspicious Minds

Given how the glam-rock king’s life has turned out, this has the look and feel of a sick in-joke. But of course, the seedy revelations about Glitter wouldn’t be revealed for many more years and so it made commercial sense in 1982 to bring him and his band into the studio and have a go at an Elvis Presley classic given that The Glitter Band were making a great living at the time performing in student unions up and down the country.

Side B

1. Bernie Nolan – You Keep Me Hanging On

The B.E.F. boys were thumbing their noses at the critics with this one. The singer was known for being the lead vocalist with the sickly sweet Nolan Sisters whose inoffensive but deadly dreary brand of vocal pop had been part of the mainstay of variety television in the UK while punk/new wave was gaining a foothold and yet freed from the shackles of her sisters and the moguls who managed them, she delivers a decent take on The Supremes #1 hit from 1966.

2. Glenn Gregory – Witchita Lineman

Maybe they ran out of guests or maybe they felt that their mate from Heaven 17 was as good as anyone for the electronic take on the country song made famous by Glen Campbell in 1968. To be fair, he nails it.

3. Sandie Shaw – Anyone Who Had A Heart

I’m guessing the boys were desperate to have a go at what had been the biggest selling single by a female singer in the UK in the 60s and thought there would be more than a hint of irony by having it covered a ‘rival’ of the singer who had enjoyed the hit. The song had been a smash for Cilla Black in 1964 and all these years later, she was a huge television personality and presenter in the UK while Sandie Shaw, considered by the vast majority to have been the better singer of the two languished in almost complete obscurity. In doing so, they ‘re-discovered’ Sandie a full two years before Morrissey and The Smiths persuaded her to cover Hand In Glove……

4. Glenn Gregory – Perfect Day

In years to come, there would be many more cover versions of this Lou Reed number. It doesn’t deviate too much from the sombre and slow pace of the original and indeed, if it wasn’t for the fact that karaoke hadn’t really taken off in the UK back 1982, you’d be tempted to think Glenn was singing over a high-quality karaoke type instrumentation. I still, more than thirty years on, haven’t made up my mind if this is a cover is genius or ghastly. But it’s probably somewhere in between.

5. Billy Mackenzie – It’s Over

Forget anything else that went before now. This track on its own made the album worthy of release. Billy with the backing of great keyboards and all sorts of instrumentation including violins, cellos, french horns, harps and timpani drums. Oh and there’s a little bit of guitar work from the legendary Hank Marvin mixed in as well….Roy Orbison himself gave the big thumbs-up to this incredible recording.

mp3 : Tina Turner – Ball Of Confusion
mp3 : Billy Mackenzie – The Secret Life Of Arabia
mp3 : Paul Jones – There’s A Ghost In My House
mp3 : Paula Yates – These Boots Are Made For Walking
mp3 : Gary Glitter – Suspicious Minds
mp3 : Bernie Nolan – You Keep Me Hanging On
mp3 : Glenn Gregory – Witchita Lineman
mp3 : Sandie Shaw – Anyone Who Had A Heart
mp3 : Glenn Gregory – Perfect Day
mp3 : Billy Mackenzie – It’s Over

The album made #25 in the UK charts so it more than washed its face.

Enjoy.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #45 : THE STREETS

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Just Two Guys Messing Around: An Imaginary Compilation (of sorts)

Part 6 by S-WC

The tenth song on the way back down to Devon was by a band called Ought, a Canadian band that sound like a cross between Television and Talking Heads and they are utterly wonderful. The song playing is ‘Habit’ and it is so majestic, that when it finishes Badger and I completely forget that we should be paying attention to what the next song is.

“That is such a brilliant song”, Badger says.  I agree and we spent what we thought are the next few minutes or so discussing Canada – a place that we have both been to – and both love. Badger states his love from Vancouver, where as I state that the skiing in Banff, Canada is better than anywhere else in the world (not that I have skied all over the world). Something which I have debated noisily at length over several glasses of gluhwein with several close Austrian friends around 3000 metres up in the Alps. Then we discuss Canadian bands, Arcade Fire, Wintersleep, Metz and my favourite Fucked Up.

We are getting close to a services on the M6 and decide that we need a cuppa, as we pull in the closing bars of ‘Karmacoma’ by Massive Attack fades away. ‘Oh’ says the Badger, what was the 11th song, was it Massive Attack?’ Massive Attack are one of his favourite bands, he is something of an authority on them. If that is even possible.  Massive Attack was song 16. We’d not been listening for 6 songs. I remember hearing ‘Elevation’ by U2 (which is on the safe playlist) and hope it wasn’t the 11th track. We skipped back 15th was Merchandise, 14th The Beta Band, 13th U2, 12th The Shamen (that would have been seriously hard work) and 11th was ‘Blinded by the Lights’ by The Streets. We look at each other and laugh.

Several years ago, Badger, me and our significant others went to see The Streets at the Great Hall in Exeter. It was for the tour for ‘The Hardest Way to Make A Living’. They were shit. In fact I would go as far to say it was one of the worst performances by a band in the history of live music. I saw The Stone Roses at Reading 1996, I cringed when Ian Brown opened his mouth and the mating call of a seal came out instead of song lyrics and then the stand in guitarist said “Put your hands in the air”. It was worst than that.

About eight minutes after the gig finished as we sat in the car feeling thoroughly ripped off and cheated – I stated that “I would never ever buy anything by The Streets again”’. Everyone agreed. We spent the next half an hour driving home and the twenty-minute post gig cuppa in Badger’s house slagging off Mike Skinner and his chirpy geezerish banter.

For what its worth, I have never bought anything by The Streets again and I don’t intend to. What I will say is that their debut album is a revelation, it’s astonishing, lyrically brilliant and probably one of the most original and groundbreaking albums released between in the last fifteen years. It really is.

In the years to come and if you are lucky enough to be asked what it was like being young at the start of the century – you could do a lot worse than just play who ever asked you Original Pirate Material because it’s utter genius.

If I was feeling lazy (and Badger agrees with me) then our Imaginary Compilation would simply feature that album, and let’s face it, they never topped it, but this series don’t work like that does it.

“The problem with these Imaginary Compilations” Badger says as we make our way back down the M6 as Bjork’s ‘One Day’ starts up, “is that I always end up making them very singles heavy. My Pulp one had seven singles, my Pavement one had six and I think even your Death In Vegas one has six on it”. He’s right, it did. “What we need to do is restrict it to two singles per side”. But it’s The Streets I say, we’ll struggle to find any decent non singles from their second and third albums and the rest of their back catalogue. I said that I was struggling to think of ten of their songs that I actually liked. “Yeah, me too” he said. Sleigh Bells have come on. I love Sleigh Bells.

As Badger said so eloquently in his Orwells piece, we have compiled a side each for these. My selection is Side One and I’m lucky because I get the pick of all the available Streets tracks. I only have to pick five – and that is straightforward.

Side One

Turn the Page (From Original Pirate Material)

Some people might say that starting your debut album with a track of such epic proportions is a bit of bold statement. But I remember listening to this – sitting in a car park in Okehampton – and getting goosebumps and not wanting to get out the car. I just wanted the track to go and on.

Prangin’ Out (From The Hardest Way to Make A Living)

In which Mike Skinner serves up a feast of straight-talking self-loathing and anxiety, which centres around a hook of such druggy intensity you’d have to be a straight laced Mormon or something not get the shivers.

Let’s Push Things Forward (From Original Pirate Material)

This sees Skinner in typical clear-eyed, determined mood. The tunes sorrowful sax and the dour, one-finger, repetitive rhythm is in contrast to Skinner’s ebullience, “this ain’t the down, it’s the up-beat“ he insists, refusing to be sucked down into complacency and defeatism like the haters who bellyache a lot but never do a lot.

Your Song (Elton John Cover)

My father in law is a massive Elton fan – a few months I was driving him to the airport and this came on the stereo. He couldn’t believe it. He said that it was the best version he had ever heard of the song other than Elton’s. That in itself is enough to warrant inclusion.

Weak Become Heroes (From Original Pirate Material)

The Streets best moments were I think when they were at their most sensitive, somewhere in this song – I forget where – Skinner states that “It’s easy, no one blames you, it’s that world out there that’s fucked!… you’re no less of a person and if God exists he still loves you, just remember that”. That is bloody marvellous.

Side Two

Has It Come to This? (Single Mix)

“The music’s a gift from the man on high, the lord and his children”.

The song that gave you the idea that The Streets were probably going to be incredible. To take a track like this and stick firmly in the Top 20 was quite something. It came at a time when ‘Garage’ was becoming big in the UK – and this has that garage echo to it, but ultimately it sounds nothing like garage was supposed to – I mean this was good. I love the way Skinner sounds isolated in it. It is a splendid record

Fit but You Know it (MC Version) (From Run the Road II)

A markedly different version of the original which strips out all of the original apart from that Only Fools and Horses style tune over it – then the world of grime rap over it – the best bit – when Lady Sovereign comes on and socks it to the boys. Makes a terrible song, pretty good actually.

Blinded By The Lights (From A Grand Don’t Come For Free)

Perhaps the obvious sequel to ‘Weak Become Heroes’ – you can see the same dancefloor and the same buzzing Skinner pressed up against that backdrop of beats and synths. Just another night in the life of a geezer – you feel his pain when he moans about the queue at the bar or the lack of phone reception. However there are darker forces at play here as that trip turns nasty and into a drugged up bout of severe paranoia. “Swear Simone’s kissing Dan,” observes Skinner when he finally tracks down his girlfriend and best mate. Then the high kicks back in, the tempo picks up and our storyteller is so mashed by the end of the night that he forgets about his girlfriend with the simple exclamation, “This is fucking amazing.” Absolutely right.

Stay Positive (From Original Pirate Material)

Quite simply this track contains some the hardest, realest moments ever recorded, across any genre of music. It’s a story of a fuck up, one that frightens everyone because it could happen to us all. The story of how easy it is to fall into this, to give up, to lose your drive and stop writing, stop trying, stop fighting and just sink. The end part where the viewpoints are flipped is just stunning. And that is why them being shit live later was SO irritating.

Dry Your Eyes (From A Grand Don’t Come For Free)

A number one single. A big emotional number one single – Skinner went for that deliberately and nailed it. The chorus sounds like Coldplay but like Coldplay sung by your mate, because it needed to. The devil is the detail – “She brings her hands up towards where my hands rested. She wraps her fingers round mine with the softness she’s blessed with. She peels away my fingers, looks at me and then gestures By pushin’ my hand away to my chest, from hers”. Brilliant, poignant, brutally honest. At the time I hated it, then I listened to it, and then I listened to again.

We struggled, I’ll be honest. Technically there are three singles on the first side and three on the second side. The two remixes don’t count as far as I am concerned. The Run the Road remix is an inspired choice and one I had forgotten about. Of the five Badger chose I had four on my list of Ten. He had three of my five.

By Skinner’s own admission Original Pirate Material is the “day in the life of a geezer” yet amongst the bitter-sweet, inner city anecdotes of drugs, violence, playing computer games, trips to the garage and going clubbing, there is a tender sweet message that is so compulsive. Look – don’t just download this stuff, check out Original Pirate Material you won’t regret it for one second.

mp3 : The Streets – Turn The Page
mp3 : The Streets – Prangin’ Out
mp3 : The Streets – Let’s Push Things Forward
mp3 : The Streets – Your Song
mp3 : The Streets – Weak Become Heroes
mp3 : The Streets – Has It Come To This? (single mix)
mp3 : The Streets – Fit But You Know It (MC Version)
mp3 : The Streets – Blinded By The Lights
mp3 : The Streets – Stay Positive
mp3 : The Streets – Dry Your Eyes

S-WC

JC adds…..

“What I will say is that their debut album is a revelation, it’s astonishing, lyrically brilliant and probably one of the most original and groundbreaking albums released between in the last fifteen years. It really is.”

Hear hear……………..

Oh and just to demonstrate that the Coldplay observation isn’t too far off the mark:-

mp3 : The Streets (feat Chris Martin) – Dry Your Eyes

Enjoy.

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 40 of 48)

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Most of those featured on CD86 were relatively new acts but today’s lot were an exception.

mp3 : The Television Personalities – Paradise Estate

It was as far back as 1979 when The Television Personalities released their debut single and by 1986 they were veterans of the indie music scene with eight singles and four albums to their name.  By that time every original member of the band with the exception of singer/songwriter Dan Treacy had come and gone with the band (as such) really just being a vehicle for Treacy’s fairly unique outpourings which offered observations on culture and society over music that was influenced by new wave, psychedelia and pure pop among others.

It would actually take a book to explain the history of this lot in any meaningful detail so I’m not going to even try. Instead, I will offer this fan site as being as good a place as any to spend time reading and learning.

Paradise Estate, the song featured on CD86 was, the b-side of A Sense of Belonging, a single released on Rough Trade back in early 1983.  Lyrically, noth tracks were far from cheery numbers housed in a sleeve that had a photograph of the face of a young child who had been beaten and battered.

The reverse of the sleeve indicated that the songs were from an LP called The Painted Word….

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…..but such was the unease at the label over the way the single had been marketed that the band was dropped.  It would take another eighteen months before the album came out on Illuminated Records….which folded soon after.

That whole period sort of summed up Dan Treacy’s relationship with the music industry. He was determined to do things his way and compromise wasn’t a word ever associated with him, By 1985 he was so frustrated that he set up Dreamworld Records to take as much control of the whole process as possible for his own band but also to sign up those bands and singers he felt were worthy.  In the end, running the label proved to be so time-consuming that there was next to no new material from him over the next three years and it was only after Dreamworld Records folded that The Television Personalities became active again. The 90s proved to be very productive in terms of output up until 1996 when things just suddenly and unexpectedly ground to a halt.  It seemed as if the addiction issues had finally caught up with Dan Treacy….

In truth, the next ten years were a very dark time.  He was jailed a number of times for shoplifting to feed his drug habit and in-between jail time he lived rough or in hostels.  It was during his fourth and final prison stretch that he got a wake-up call after reading internet rumours that he was dead and he resolved to try to pick his life back up again which he did by getting involved in music again, initially through DJing and then performing and recording after receiving an offer from Lawrence Bell, the MD of Domino Records.  It helped that the new hot band of the day – Arctic Monkeys – were dropping Dan’s name in interviews as an influence.

The comeback began in earnest in 2006 and new material appeared at regular intervals up to September 2011.

The following month Dan Treacy needed emergency treatment to deal with a blood clot to his brain; he was saved by the neurosurgeons but he was left with long-term damage.  There has never been any official announcement but I think it is fair to say we are very unlikely to hear any new material again.

His is a story waiting on a film adaptation……………………

Here’s the A- side of the single. It is utterly brilliant.

mp3 : The Television Personalities – A Sense Of Belonging

I’d be grateful if any fan of the band was willing to take some time and put together an imaginary compilation for the on-going series…….

 

 

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (41)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON FRIDAY 28 MARCH 2008

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I don’t know about you, but I’m of the opinion that Oasis have been treated dreadfully by the media.

‘His talent and attractiveness, which had worked so well for him was becoming a burden.’
‘He was dealing more and more with the terrible scrutiny that came with superfame and the concurrent loss of privacy, the inability to make mistakes’
‘His slightest flaws were now magnified for the rest of the world….this tabloid machine was powerful, it was predatory and it had to be fed every day.’
‘Whom the tabloids first inflate, they eventually attempt to destroy, or at least try to diminish.’
‘The scrutiny of his life had become brutal and unforgiving.’

The previous five statements were lifted from a biography of basketball player Michael Jordan, but they could very easily apply to either of the Gallagher brothers when the commentators decided to kill off the movement that had been labelled Britpop.

In some ways, it is kind of difficult to comprehend just how meteoric the rise of Oasis was back in the early 90s. In May 1993, they were blagging their way onto a bill at King Tut’s in Glasgow. Within 12 months, their debut single reached #31. A succession of great releases, always without fail accompanied by at least one and usually two outstanding b-sides on the CD single came at regular intervals, and it was their fifth release, Some Might Say, that hit #1 in April 1995.

Furthermore, they were a band who provided a great live experience.

The first hint of fallibility came in August 1995 when a frenzied battle played out in the full glare of the media saw Roll With It fail in the battle for supremacy with Country House by Blur. In truth, both were pretty ordinary singles, way below the standards that either band had been producing over the previous 18 months.

What happened next couldn’t have been predicted by anyone. On 30th October 1995, the single Wonderwall was released. And I can honestly say, that in my near 45 years on this planet, I can’t ever recall a single that so seemed to be loved by anyone and everyone with a genuine interest in music.

Amazingly, it peaked at #2 – kept off the top spot by Coolio and Gangster’s Paradise.

There was nearly a total travesty of justice when an easy listening version of the song by Mike Flower Pops almost hit #1 a couple of months later, but it too stalled at #2. The demand for Oasis was so large that tribute bands began to pop up all over the place, including No Way Sis who themselves had a Top 40 hit in early 1996.

The follow-up single Don’t Look Back In Anger merely kept up the momentum. It seemed that Blur were the real losers in the Britpop battle as their singles began to flop and there was a critical backlash to their LP The Great Escape – not withstanding its one true moment of brilliance in The Universal.
But while Blur bounced back with their next album and singles, Oasis lost it all almost overnight. There’s no argument from this fan that Be Here Now in 1997 was pretty awful, as was much, but not all of Standing On The Shoulders of Giants in 2000. Equally, there has been much to admire on Heathen Chemistry from 2002 and Don’t Believe The Truth from 2005. It will be very interesting to see how the next LP sounds…

One thing that is often forgotten about Oasis is just how much money they brought in for Creation Records, and as a consequence, the label was able to bankroll some other great, critically-acclaimed but less commercially successful acts in the mid 90s, such as Teenage Fanclub, Super Furry Animals, Boo Radleys, My Bloody Valentine, The House of Love and Felt.

So maybe in retrospect we all owe Liam and Noel Gallagher a bit of a thank you.

I suppose like most folk, I probably got a bit sick and tired hearing Wonderwall when it was here, there and everywhere. I certainly got fed-up when it, and Don’t Look Back In Anger, became lager-fuelled anthems that were the staple of stag nights up and down the land. But it truly is a thing of beauty that is well worth listening to every now and then:-

mp3 : Oasis – Wonderwall
mp3 : Oasis – Round Are Way
mp3 : Oasis – The Swamp Song
mp3 : Oasis – The Master Plan

2015 Update : Bizarre coincidences – this post will appear in the middle of a 3-day trip by myself, Aldo and Jacques the Kipper, along with two other friends, for a football-filled weekend in the Manchester area to commemorate a couple of 50th birthdays (but no, we won’t be taking in tomorrow’s Manchester derby).  Oh and its now just exactly one week till 20th anniversary of its release as a single….

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (30)

The Shoebox of Delights – #2
The Radio Dept. – Pet Grief

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Here is a story, I wasn’t going to tell but I think we are all friends now – so are we sitting comfortably??

A long time ago near where I grew up, they built an out-of-town shopping centre. The big attraction was a brand new Marks and Spencer.  A friend of mine, whose name is Graham, got a job there.  He was working in the menswear section on Wednesday evenings and at weekends.  He was 17 at the time.

Graham was alright really, he liked the right sort of music that was popular at the time, Carter, Ride, The Wedding Present, that sort of thing. He kind of just got into anything that he peer group were listening to really, like most of us.  Anyway, during his time at Marks and Spencer, Graham got a new friend – Ian – who introduced him to loads of new music, the likes of Therapy?, Sheep on Drugs, and other similar bands.  Gradually Ian started coming along to our nights out, I didn’t really chat to him that much not because I didn’t like him, but because I just had different people to chat to.  Ok I hated him, he had stupid hair, always wore a black and red stripe Dennis the Menace Jumper and had a really nasal voice.

Now usually our nights out consisted of sitting in a big field with a cassette deck listening to our favourite music whilst getting slowly wrecked on cider or if we were lucky a bit of dope that someone had managed to get hold off – not that anyone of us could skin up properly.  Anyway, one night a girl, Catherine, had brought along a tape of what she was listening to at the time. It was largely Ride, the long forgotten about Ultra Vivid Scene, Moose, Chapterhouse, The Cure and the Jesus and Mary Chain. She was the girlfriend of another one of the group, Richard and she was best mates with Our Price Girl – who of course, I was with at time. So we sat, we talked, we drank, we mocked each other’s shoes that sort of thing.

Ian didn’t like shoegaze, he announced this to everyone, in fact he said ‘Oh God its fucking Ride, someone shoot me’.  He then took the tape out threw in a hedge and put his own tape on. The first track was by Nitzer Ebb.  A row ensued. I got involved, I think I slagged off most of the bands that he was in to – At one point Our Price Girl laughed at Ian when he said that a Sheep on Drugs song ‘Motorbike’ was the most important record of the last thirty years – I mean obviously that was ‘Rich and Strange’ by Cud – he then called her a stupid slag. I stood up – now I’m not aggressive in any way, I’m a bit of a weed to be honest, thin and particularly unmuscular but I wasn’t having that.

Sensing a fight, Richard, stood up and decided it was time to leave. We left.  It was only about two hours later when we had all calmed down that Richard realised that he’d left the cassette player behind.  So he and I went back up to get it. It was daft really, one of the others would have looked after it.  Most of the group had left, Ian was still there and they were still using the tape deck.  Richard went up to it and said he needed it back, another guy Jay said he would drop round to his house tomorrow, but Richard insisted, and to be honest they were playing Guns and Roses and I think Skid Row, and it was soiling the machine.

Ian stood up and some more swearing ensued. Then there was a bit of shoving and then Ian threw a punch. I stood there not really knowing what to do – if I went over I would get my head kicked in, if I didn’t then Richard almost certainly would.  So I took a deep breath and went over. I’d like to say I kicked his head in, I’d like to say that he sat dribbling on the floor and apologising for being such a cock, but I’d be lying. He was bigger and stronger and waaaay angrier than me, of course he sent me flying with the second of two massive punches.

It hurt like hell.  A boot to the ribs is never nice and nose bleeds caused by an angry punk are probably the worst kind (although I have had a nose bleed caused by a biscuit tin that was pretty bad).  Then, I hear voices, it was a couple of brothers I knew, Indian chaps, older, tougher, wonderful guys.  Sensing trouble Our Price Girl had phoned them and sent them after Richard and I.  The blows stopped, the shouting stopped.  I’m not bigging myself up here obviously, but these guys were connected and you didn’t mess with them.  They also lived next door to my Dad and that helped massively.

Richard was fairly hurt he needed to go to hospital, he took the brunt of the assault from Ian and a couple of the other lads who had turned up.  Several stitches later he was fine.  Me, I needed a stiff drink and a hug.

I went home and the Indian brothers mum made me the finest Balti I have ever eaten. Then one of the brothers said out of the blue, ‘What’s shoegaze?’ I nipped home and picked up ‘Nowhere’ by Ride and stuck it on their stereo. ‘Shit, man’ he said, ‘No wonder he thumped you’. His favourite act of all time, Maxi Priest. I’ve never told him what I think of Maxi Priest.

Anyway, that brings us nicely to The Radio Dept.

The Radio Dept. are according to Wikipedia a dream pop band from Lund in Sweden. Reviews that I have read compare them to The Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and Pet Shop Boys. Dream pop is the right way to describe them.  Shoegaze would be another.

This album ‘Pet Grief’ has a track on it called ‘The Worst Taste in Music’. I thought of that night when I first played it. It was the single ‘Wide World’ by Maxi Priest that it reminded me. It’s a tenuous link, I’ll grant you but I was thinking about that night when I picked it up.

mp3 : The Radio Dept. – The Worst Taste In Music

There is something about Swedish music that comes across as clinical or striving for perfection. It’s not difficult to understand why – remember this is the country that produced ‘Dancing Queen’, the perfect engineering of the Saab 900 (though of course, someone out there will say, I had a Saab 900 and it was shit…), the wonderful precision of Bjorn Borg’s backhand and the brilliance that is Zlatan Ibrahamovic.

A few years before ‘Pet Grief’ was released, the Radio Dept. released ‘Lesser Matters’ and I adored it – a beautiful shimmering album of dreamy pop which hawked back to an age of shoegaze and sonic cathedrals and vocals that barely register above whisper. It is a wonderful album and one that still to this day sits firmly in my Top 50 of all time – whenever I get to compile that list that it. I heartily recommend it to everyone.

‘Every Time’ is Pet Grief’s catchiest song, – it is as well the closest anyone has come to capturing the drenched distortion of My Bloody Valentine’s guitars and the half whispered vocal are matched with this melody that is both compulsive and fragile at the same time. Its wonderful and instantly pleasing and is as good as anything on ‘Lesser Matters’.

Here are some of the other tracks from it. Considering this was released in 2006, it sounds very much like it was recorded in 1993.

mp3 : The Radio Dept. – Tell
mp3 : The Radio Dept. – Gibraltar
mp3 : The Radio Dept. – Every Time

Enjoy.

JC adds……

So that you can begin to get get an idea of how much of a dick this bloke Ian was/still is, have a listen to what he thought was the most important record in a thirty-year span:-

mp3 : Sheep On Drugs – Motorbike

The prosecution rests its case.

FROM THE DEPTHS OF MY MEMORY BANKS

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It really is strange how the human brain works.

I was finishing off yesterday’s piece on Funeral Pyre by The Jam when for some unfathomable reason my memory recalled the fact that on the day I had bought that particular single from Tam Russell’s Record Store in Shettleston Road in Glasgow I had also bought a single by Ultravox.

Now I was certain that the single in question was Sleepwalk but then when I checked the discography of the band it became clear that the single in question was All Stood Still as it was released a week or so before Funeral Pyre.

It’s a song I hadn’t thought about in what must be over 30 years.  It’s a 45 I no longer have although it is a track on the LP Vienna which sits in the cupboard unplayed for probably the same period.  I recall the single being on clear vinyl and sure enough, a check up on Discogs revealed this to be the case.  The single went to #8 in the charts – it was a slightly shorter version than the album version, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I’ve been able to track down said version:-

mp3 : Ultravox – All Stood Still

The b-side, again from memory, was an instrumental that I was sure was quite hypnotic and very similar to the sort of pre-fame Simple Minds material.  I tracked down a copy of that too and again my memory hadn’t tricked me:-

mp3 : Ultravox – Alles Klar

Neither song has really dated all that well and indeed the 45 sort of sounds a bit ridiculous in places, but hey. I’m not ashamed whatsoever of the purchase.  It kind of typified the fact that my tastes were now splitting 50-50 between post-punk guitarmusic and the increasing popularity of synyth-pop.

Enjoy.

THE JAM SINGLES (13)

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The thirteenth single contained a first in that it was a joint composition with the words attributed to Paul Weller and the music credited to The Jam.  It was also the first single to have the lyrics appear on the back of the sleeve.

It was released on 6 June 1981 and climbed to #4 in the singles charts. It’s 1983 re-release would only reach #82. Not bad for a song that was very untypical of the band.

mp3 : The Jam – Funeral Pyre
mp3 : The Jam – Disguises

The b-side was the second occasion the band had dipped into the back catalogue of The Who (the previous time being So Sad About Us as the flip-side to Tube Station and a poignant tribute to the then recently deceased Keith Moon).

There’s one additional version available today.  Lifted from The Jam at the BBC 2xCD, it is from a show entitled ‘Studio B15 live’ on 25 October 1981 (which was the day after the band had played for free at a CND rally in London). The downside is that after the cracking version of  the song ends you have to put up with about 40 seconds worth of an interview.

mp3 : The Jam – Funeral Pyre (live)/ interview

Enjoy

FROM THE PROPRIETOR OF THE PUNK ROCK HOTEL

frontquinn1Hey Jim

Hope you’re good – if I’m sending you a note it generally only means one thing. There is more Paul Quinn goodness to be had…

So here’s the story.

Up until about a week ago, the general consensus on the career of Paul Quinn was that after the Vince Clarke single flopped in late 1985, Quinn and Alan Horne set about recording his debut solo album for London Records.

Nothing ever came of these sessions and the relationship was terminated, leaving a gap of 7 long quiet years before he finally reappeared on the reactivated Postcard label in 1992.

Then I came across an ebay listing for a film soundtrack LP from 1987. The film in question was The Fantasist.

http://www.discogs.com/Stanislas-Syrewicz-The-Fantasist/release/5438207

Discogs lists it as an instrumental soundtrack by Stanislas Syrewicz, but this ebay listing was adamant that Paul Quinn appeared.

The listing helpfully scanned the back of the sleeve, and guess what – they weren’t lying. There was Mr Quinn’s chiselled face and a cover version of the Goffin/King standard “Up On The Roof”

That voice – on such a classic song? How could it be anything other than fantastic?

Well, having tracked down a copy of the LP, I can present the track in all it’s mono glory (yep the LP appears to be in mono for some strange reason), and what can I say? It’s hardly the highlight of his career. The incessant thud of bass drum and 80s synth bass make for a difficult listen. The voice though. THAT voice is sublime as ever and when he starts to ad-lib lines from “Everybody’s Talkin'” half way through, you know we’re in business.

The film itself is by the same chap who did The Wicker Man and I’ve never seen it, but I have it on good authority that it’s atrocious AND that the Paul Quinn song doesn’t obviously appear anywhere in the film! There is a painful 80s discos scene with Level 42 appearing live – which perversely DOESN’T appear on the soundtrack LP (small mercies etc)

The review here seems to sum it up quite well.

http://www.mondo-digital.com/fantasist.html

As the sole officially-released document of what Paul Quinn was up to in those lost years between Swamplands and Postcard II, it doesn’t make us feel like we missed anything too special, but it’s a fascinating snapshot of where things might have been going wrong. Plus, with the chances of any further archival material from this period appearing (or any period for that matter) and such a small canon of work, any additional treasure we can find has to be worth it’s weight in gold.

mp3 : Paul Quinn – Up On The Roof

Enjoy!

Cheers
Rob

http://www.duckworthsquare.com/paulquinn/

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #44 : THE ORWELLS

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Just Two Guys Messing Around: An Imaginary Compilation (of sorts)

Part 5 by Badgerman

S-WC and I are off on, as our wives put it so elegantly this morning, ‘another stupid boys road trip’. This time we are off to Crewe to watch some lower league football. Our wives are, as I put it just as elegantly, off on ‘a stupid girls shopping trip’.

‘Why Crewe?’ I hear you mumble.  Well, it was chosen at random with the aid of a computer program. We included every team from the Top Five English leagues and whichever one the computer picked – we would go to (if they were playing at home on the given day). At the last-minute we excluded our two favourites (me Tottenham, him Gillingham) and we prayed it wouldn’t be Hartlepool.

It was nearly just as bad as with Crewe; out of interest, the second pick was Shrewsbury, so really we were quite lucky. We decided to also do another couple of the now legendary 11th track Imaginary Compilations  – one on the way up and one on the way back.  We also decide that this time we would both compile the albums – one half each. I get to do Side One of the Up Journey and Side Two of the Down Journey with S-WC doing the reverse.

We travel to Crewe in S-WC’s car and right away I realise that my iPod is still attached to my computer at home – so we have to use his (not normally a good thing).

His iPod is in an early 90s indie mood, the first five tracks are Mega City Four, The Levellers, The Senseless Things, Pop Will Eat Itself and Oasis;   as journeys go it’s a pretty good start and I am already designing an Imaginary Chumbawamba album in my head (Mouthful of Shit, Behave!, Farewell to the Crown…).

We are sitting in the car park of Bridgwater Services when the track ten finishes – it was On A Ragga Tip by SL2 for those interested – as we decide that we need our first hot drink break of the day. The opening bars of Always N Forever by The Orwells fills the car.  S-WC smiles.

As I sit in the café at the services these three things are on my mind:

(i) Bridgwater Services is the most unhospitable place on the planet.  I’ve been to Afghanistan, twice, so this is really saying something. There are more chavs per square inch in this services than I care to think about. I’ve just seen a really morbidly obese chap in sports casuals with a slogan on it reading ‘Witness the Fitness’. There is also a bloke with a two litre bottle of cider, which is half empty. It is about 9.30am.

(ii) The ‘Hot Chocolate’ that I am drinking is neither hot nor chocolate but is in fact ‘Lukewarm suspicious looking brown sludge’. I think the person who sold it to me must have been the duty manager because his acne had cleared up better than the rest of the staff.

(iii) I don’t own a single second of any music recorded by The Orwells. So for the second time in a row I turn to S-WC and say ‘You’re going to have to help me…’

We resume our journey, and S-WC puts on some Orwells tracks. For those of you like me, who are not cool and down with the kids and don’t hang on every word that the NME writes about music, The Orwells hail from Elmhurst, Illinois, which is a suburb of Chicago, they are ridiculously young (the oldest member being just 22), and make a sneery bratty garage rock.

As it happens I rather like what I have heard. They have appeared on Later…With Jools Holland and have supported the Arctic Monkeys recently. They are another band (like Future Islands) whose careers have been bolstered by an astonishing performance on the Letterman Show.  I’m going to describe them as ‘Like The Strokes with a bit of early of the Manics thrown in’.

Their second album Disgraceland is pretty fine – it not a tribute to the punk sound of The Black Lips perhaps. It is exactly the sort of record The Strokes stopped making about ten years ago. The singer Mario Cuomo doesn’t really sing the songs but rather barges his way into them. Like he is doing karaoke with his own band. It works though. I will add rather worryingly that Cuomo does appear to have a slight obsession with firearms

As I stated above – Side one of this compilation have been picked by me and Side Two will be picked by S-WC.

Side One – The Badger Side

Other Voices (Dave Sitek Version) – From Other Voices EP – This is a shamelessly confused declaration of infatuation with a girl who is “not the prettiest girl around”. The song is a ball of guitar heavy energy. The vocals are high intensity and the chorus is a massive earworm “I’m slipping in and you’re tripping out/I’ll let you in if you let me out”) and guitar breaks create a bubbly jam that will firmly lodge itself in the most stubborn of brains.

Always n Forever – From Disgraceland LP – A charming and perhaps slightly shambolic fuzz pop number that stands out for me because at the halfway point, the song stops and suddenly you hear an engine revving. It is essentially taking the piss out of that American Dream. Yet it still manages to perfect that quiet/loud formula successfully.

Dirty SheetsSingle – In my opinion this is their best song, a fairly simple love em and leave em affair. There is a roaming guitar that bursts in at the beginning of the songs that leads into a sort of pop song. It tries to be noisy but that guitar holds it together and it ends up being something of an anthem. Well I think so anyway.

Open Your Eyes (A Misfits Rip off) – From Who Needs You? EP – This is pretty self explanatory – the song is a rip off of a Misfits song – The Orwells are open and honest about – it’s a tribute and by listening to it you understand what they are all about. Nothing clever just lads influenced by other bands making a racket.

MallratsLive Audiotree Session – Perhaps the epitome of caution-to-the-wind American garage rock: tricksy babes, push-up bras, little girls in short skirts hangin’ at the food court and a chorus that goes “la la la la la la la la.” like “Other Voices” is sloppily perfect.

Side Two – The why don’t you pick all the best tracks Side

Who Needs You? – From Who Needs You? EP – It is in this song that perhaps The Orwells tried to show a political side – it bashes their homeland quite a bit ‘You wanna join the army’ the singer bawls followed by ‘I said no thank you Uncle Sam’. It also sounds a lot like what the Libertines did when they first emerged. The firearms issue shows its head here as well as he later admits ‘My Daddy’s got a 12 gauge, I hope I don’t find it.’ Also features on a recent Apple Music Advert so you may be aware of it.

Blood Bubbles – From Disgraceland – This is basically a detailed account of a suicide pact with lines about giving a girl a necklace made of telephone cord. It is of course slightly dark and probably a bit dumb, but its also smart and totally ace.

The Righteous One Single – According to S-WC this is The Orwells best song, effectively it is a Sonics rip off. It is a similar to Always N Forever in that it concentrates on that quiet/loud dynamic. It also punches its way into the chorus and is a bit sulky in the verse. Lyrics like “Double double double double double double double dare falling down the stairs” aren’t going to win many Novellos but it’s the simplicity that is so thrilling. Then that chorus lands again, a Nirvana-sized tidal wave beneath which all is forgiven.

Southern Comfort – From Disgraceland – The thing about The Orwells is that they are not trying to be clever or ground breaking they are following a well trodden path – on this track they sound like the Ramones and it is at its best when the guitar riff is central and the lyrics are simply ‘Ah Ah Ah’. It is effortless catchy. A rare occasion when the words get in the way of the music.

Halloween All YearLive Audiotree Session – Despite its weird Grease­-style opening (yes the musical) once the song gets going with Mario’s call to ‘get a knife from the kitchen and follow me’ everything suddenly becomes a little sinister. It culminates with something that sounds like the singer coughing up a lung. Another example of the intensity with ultimately sits at the heart of every song The Orwells produce.

mp3 : The Orwells – Other Voices (Dave Sitek Version)
mp3 : The Orwells – Always n Forever
mp3 : The Orwells – Dirty Sheets
mp3 : The Orwells – Open Your Eyes (a Misfits rip-off)
mp3 : The Orwells – Mallrats
mp3 : The Orwells – Who Needs You?
mp3 : The Orwells – Blood Bubbles
mp3 : The Orwells – The Righteous One
mp3 : The Orwells – Southern Comfort
mp3 : The Orwells – Halloween All Year

So that is The Orwells, check them out you won’t regret it. I asked S-WC who he thought they sound like and he said Drenge sound like The Orwells. I’d agree with that.

The football by the way was pretty uneventful – a decent first half which produced three goals. Two of them for the visiting team Chesterfield. There were no goals in the second half. Crewe we find out later are bottom of League One, and looked doomed to League Two football next season. As we trudged back to the car we also note that by and large Crewe is a bit of shithole, sorry to anyone from Crewe – but you know its true. I’m happy to be leaving the place. We do have a decent bag of chips on the way back to the car though.

S-WC plugs the iPod in as we move off home. Ready for number 2 he says as a beautiful acoustic version of Detroit has a Skyline Too by Superchunk starts up. I look out the window, Crewe ain’t so bad – its prettier than Bridgwater at least….

BADGERMAN

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 39 of 48)

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You know that famous Marlon Brando line from On The Waterfront? Well this lot really coulda been contenders for the indie-pop crown in the late 80s.

There’s a great story as to how they got their name in that a local journalist in Bristol was interviewing the drummer and asked who else was in the group. The reply of ‘oh it’s just me and my flatmates’ provided the light-bulb apove the head moment for all concerned.

The thing is The Flatmates were, for the most part, literally folk who lived together under the one roof. It was singer/guitarist Martin Whitehead who was the initial mainstay of the band in 1985. He recruited Rocker on drums whose roommate Kath Beach came in on bass. Yet another roommate – Debbie Haynes – then joined to take on vocal duties allowing Whitehead to concentrate on lead guitar.

Whitehead had a finger in many pies in the scene building up in Bristol, including the management of the most revered indie venue in the city, which enabled The Flatmates to offer themselves as support act for any singer or band passing through – and there were many as a result of the C86 movement.

By October 1986 they were able to release their debut single on Subway Organisation Records which had been founded by, yup you guessed it, Martin Whitehead. By now there was a real buzz about the band with much positive press and reviews.  And no wonder, as it was an absolute belter of a 45, described with great accuracy by one critic as a fusion of Buzzcocks with The Shangri-Las :-

mp3 : The Flatmates – I Could Be In Heaven

After ust eight gigs Kate Beach quit the band and and was replaced by Sarah Fletcher – it wasn’t the last time in what was a short history that the Flatmates fell out – the drummer was next to go (although to be fair it was the need to concentrate on her career as a dental surgeon more than anything else which forced the change) ; then the replacement bass player was herself replaced.

In the meantime, a second guitarist – Tim Rippington – was recruited but in less than a year had been sacked after turning up drunk at a gig at the University of London and fightig with the rest of the band as well as members of the audience.  This was not twee pop by any stretch of the imagination.

The band split for good in late 1989 with just five singles to show for their efforts.  But they are still very fondly remembered by many.

It was the debut single which appears on CD 86 and here’s the two tracks that made up its b-side:-

mp3 : The Flatmates – Tell Me Why
mp3 : The Flatmates – So In Love With You

Enjoy

 

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (42)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THURSDAY 27 MARCH 2008

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It’s 1979. 4th Year at School. It’s that time of your life when you stop going on holiday with your parents and your younger brothers and sisters. And you use the freedom of being at home on your own to throw a party. It’s all part of being a teenager….well it was in those days.

There were parties every weekend in July and August 1979 at someone or others house. And every week, I’d walk home alone frustrated at my inabilities to not get tongue-tied when trying to converse with an attractive member of the opposite sex. It didn’t help that at the age of 16 , I looked at least two years younger….while most of the guys in school looked two years older and boasted of being able to get into pubs. And they had no problems in getting girlfriends….

Aside from being a song that perfectly captures my life at a particular point in time, I really was a fan of Joe Jackson when he burst onto the scene. His early records were infectiously catchy in many places, and his lyrics were angst-ridden enough to strike a chord. The fact he was classically-trained made a big difference in what was very much a DIY-dominated industry at the point in history. Joe looked and sounded different.

His was one of the first concerts I ever went to at an over-18s venue – it was at Glasgow Tiffany’s (long gone, but a favourite stop-off point before Barrowlands became popular round about 1984/5). Anyway, the Joe Jackson gig was in 1980 when he was touring his third LP, Beat Crazy. I went along on my own with a false ID of a friend’s big brother just in case I got stopped on the door. I needn’t have worried – the stewards (they weren’t bouncers in those days) were completely relaxed and probably had a good laugh as they watched me pace up and down outside the venue plucking up the courage to try my luck…

It was a great gig – on the same tour BBC Radio 1 recorded the London gig and broadcast it one Saturday evening – somewhere in a box I still have the C120 cassette tape I made that night – and there’s a 1980 gig by The Jam on the other side.

Incidentally, I no longer have this particular single, and therein lies a sad but stupid tale.

It was 1986, and I was living with friends in a bedsit flat in Edinburgh. All of us had issues with the landlord, and we were withholding rent. After three months, things were threatening to turn nasty with threats of court action, so we collectively did a runner, which in our case was gather up all our possessions, load them into a hired van and head off to our new abodes. We did this around midnight one evening.

The next morning was when I realised I had left behind, in my haste, crates of 7″ singles – maybe amounting to 500 records in all. I had taken all the 12″ singles and LPs in boxes, all my books and my clothes…..but somehow left behind booty that had a value well in excess of the amount of rent that we all owed. These days, I still scour second-hand shops, e-bay etc trying to piece it all back together again….but I know I’ll never ever fully succeed.

So…the picture that illustrates this entry is in fact of a record I never owned as it is the US release of the single. The UK cover was totally different. And the b-side of the UK single wasn’t on the original LP, but I have tracked it down, thanks to it being included on a re-issued version more than two decades later:-

mp3 : Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
mp3 : Joe Jackson – You Got The Fever

This single was first released in late 1978 but flopped. Re-released in July 1979, it reached #13 in the UK charts.

To this day, Joe still plays it live, but every tour sees a different version altogether and many of these can be tracked down all over the internet.