ANOTHER C86 MOB WHO MOVED AWAY AND GOT HITS

R-2961641-1326445530.jpeg
The most recent two bands featured in the ongoing CD86 series – Pop Will Eat Itself and The Soup Dragons – enjoyed real chart success after moving away from the raw guitar sounds that had initially got them attention. As too did We’ve Got A Fuzzbox…And We’re Gonna Use It!!, a band I am very surprised were not included on said CD.

They were a four-piece all-female outfit from Birmingham and it was a label from their home city – Vindaloo Records – which signed them up at a time when two of the band were 17, one was 16 and the other was the ripe old age of 20.

Debut EP Fuzzbox almost provided them with instant chart success hitting the #41 spot shortly after its release in March 1986. The mix of distorted guitars, frantic loud drumming and tribal-style chanting got them a fair bit of attention as did their manifesto of ‘girl power’ a full decade before such a phrase became synonymous with The Spice Girls.

Six months later, follow-up single Love Is The Slug went ten places higher than the debut and the girls were snapped up by WEA. They spent a bit of time out of the limelight polishing up their act and removing the rough edges – the sort of things that had in fact made them so appealing in the first place. Come 1989, they were known simply as Fuzzbox, had a whole new sexed-up look and a sound that was pure pop based on female harmonies. They were, looking back on it, a prototype for the likes of Girls Aloud and other fully manufactured girl groups of the past 20 years or so.

This move into pure pop stunned a lot of folk who had championed the band in the initial indie days – they had for instance recorded two Peel Sessions and their earliest best known song, Rules and Regulations, was voted in at #31 in the Festive Fifty of 1986.

The changes worked and there were three Top 20 singles and a Top 5 album but then there was a bit of a bombshell dropped when lead singer Vicky Perks decided she wanted to go solo. The remaining three members – Jo Dunne, Mags Dunne and Tina O’Neill – quit the music industry altogether.  Vicky’s solo career never took off and soon they were all mere footnotes in pop history…until many years later when, like so many others, the idea of reforming and cashing in on the ever increasing nostalgia circuit of retro-festivals, proved too much to resist.

So, in early 2010 the band, with the exception of Tina, got back together and with the addition of Sarah Firebrand on bass and Karen Milne on drums, became a five-piece for touring duties before again calling it a day in the summer of 2011.

Just over a year later, Jo Dunne died from cancer a month short of her 43rd birthday.

Earlier this year, Vicky Perks and Mags Dunne announced the second reformation of Fuzzbox with three new members in the shape of Megan Burke, Sarit Black and Hannah Layhe on guitar, bass and drums respectively. There will be some who welcome it but I fear most will be indifferent.

The only thing I have in the collection is the debut EP which was released in a variety of sleeves – mine looks like the photo at the top of this posting. There’s four crackingly energetic songs all in, only one of which is longer than two minutes:-

mp3 : We’ve Got A Fuzzbox…And We’re Gonna Use It – X X Sex
mp3 : We’ve Got A Fuzzbox…And We’re Gonna Use It – Do I Want To?
mp3 : We’ve Got A Fuzzbox…And We’re Gonna Use It – Rules and Regulations
mp3 : We’ve Got A Fuzzbox…And We’re Gonna Use It – She

It’s a real shame they never ever came close to matching it.

Enjoy

PS : thanks to Jacques for correcting the dreadful error in the original post.  See what happens when you don’t proof read……

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 45 of 48)

Soup-Dragons-Whole-Wide-World-391832
Just as last week’s lot (Pop Will Eat Itself) did a great job in reinventing themselves, so too did The Soup Dragons.

Named after a character from a weird and wacky children’s animation show that was hugely popular in the UK in the 1970s, the band formed in Bellshill which is a former mining town some 15 miles south-east of Glasgow. The fact that such a small place – its population is a smite over 20,000 – also gave birth to Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits gives credence to those who claim that it is the epicentre of Scottish indie pop.

The original four members were Sean Dickson (vocals, lead guitar), Jim McCulloch (guitar, second voice), Sushil Dade (bass) and Ross Sinclair (drums) and after no more than a handful of gigs and a demo tape their blend of loud guitars and pop riffs landed them a deal with The Subway Organisation in 1986. Their debut EP, The Sun Is In The Sky, was the second ever release on the label and is quite hard to track down nowadays unlike the follow-up Whole Wide World which sold in really decent enough numbers for an independent label and was re-pressed on a number of occasions. It is that single which appears on CD 86:-

mp3 : The Soup Dragons – Whole Wide World

They were enticed over to the RAW TV label on which there were four more terrifically catchy indie-pop singles…I’m a particular fan of 1987 release Hang-Ten….with which they caught the attention of Seymour Stein and his crew at Sire Records for who they recorded debut album This Is Our Art in 1987.

However, after just one more single they found themselves back at Raw TV which by now was aligned with Big Life, a label which had aims and aspirations towards the big-time. By now, Ross Sinclair had left the band and there was a significant shift into the indie-dance sound that was becoming all the rage – the Soup Dragons new sound fitted right into Madchester and it was no surprise that come 1990, their take on I’m Free, a relatively unknown album track by the Rolling Stones, hit the Top 5 thanks in part to a guest vocal from label mate Junior Reid who had previously come to prominence as lead singer with the reggae band Black Uhuru.

They maintained that sort of sound for the remainder of their career before disbanding in 1995. They also enjoyed a major hit with Divine Thing in the US in 1992 although it was a relative flop here at home.

I always felt The Soup Dragons had it in them to be pop stars and in all truth they should have enjoyed better commercial success with the earlier singles before they made they hitched themselves to the baggy bandwagon. They were good fun when they started out and they still seemed to be enjoying themselves when they broke up ten years on.

Here’s the b-sides to the 12″ version of the single on CD86:-

mp3 : The Soup Dragons – Pleasantly Surprised
mp3 : The Soup Dragons – I Know Everything

Just three more bands to feature before I unveil the fresh idea for a new regular series for 2016!!

Enjoy

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (36)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON FRIDAY 4 APRIL 2008

Maximo-Park-Graffiti-324270

I place a huge value on the ability of a singer/band to cut the mustard in a live context. It’s often the thought of going to see a forthcoming live performance that makes me go out and buy a new CD so that I’m familiar with the stuff. And almost just as often, if I catch a band live who I think have that something different or special, or indeed just seem to be working hard at their craft, I’ll buy a CD. What I’ve often found is that the CD doesn’t match the intensity of the live performance and it will soon be given a place on the shelf to gather dust….but that’s the risk of buying on one listen….

One of the best live acts I’ve seen in recent times is Maximo Park.

I first came across them courtesy of MTV2, and in particular on the shows hosted by Zane Lowe. I loved the early singles and indeed all of their debut LP, A Certain Trigger. And I made a point of buying a ticket for the next show in Glasgow which was due to take place at the QM Union, a student-venue. Such was the demand for tickets that the gig was switched to Barrowlands, which must have a bit daunting for the band. If they were nervous or had any trepidation, it didn’t show for it was a blinding gig.

And if I wanted proof that it wasn’t a one-off, then it came a few months later when they were part of an NME tour. As the biggest band of the four in terms of chart success, it was obvious they should be the headlining act – problem was that #2 on the bill were Arctic Monkeys, the most-talked about and anticipated act to come out of the UK since the days of Oasis. Most ticket-holders were there for the support, not the headliners. It would have been easy for Maximo Park to take the money and go through the motions – but they really upped the ante and showed that while Arctic Monkeys were exceptionally good on stage, they still had a lot to learn in terms of putting on a show.

Since then, I’ve fallen out of and back in love with Maximo Park. A third gig was a let-down as I felt the band, and in particular lead singer Paul Smith was now on the wrong-side of showing-off rather than entertaining. Nevertheless, the second LP, Our Earthly Pleasures, was purchased and I soon discovered it was an just as good a collection of songs as the debut. I was then really lucky to catch the band at a tiny venue in Toronto last summer (2007) and it was just like seeing them first time around again. It was a truly stunning, adrenalin-driven and energetic performance to a half-hearted audience largely unfamiliar with the band’s songs.

Outwith their own self-financed single, Maximo Park have released a total of eight 45rpm efforts, four from each of the two albums. All of them have been toe-tappingly catchy. In many ways, the first one I ever heard, Apply Some Pressure, could at times be the favourite. But in the end, in much the same way as Bedsitter by Soft Cell is my favourite of that particular beat combo, it all comes down to an equally strong second hit single that proves that they’re not a flash in the pan:-

mp3 : Maximo Park – Graffiti
mp3 : Maximo Park – Trial And Error
mp3 : Maximo Park – Stray Talk
mp3 : Maximo Park – Hammer Horror

You’re getting all these tracks because sometimes I fall for the marketing ploys and buy CD1, CD2 and the 7” vinyl….

It was a #15 hit in May 2005.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION (of sorts)….FOR THE WIFE

A guest contribution from Tim Badger

An Imaginary Compilation (Of Sorts) for the wife

This was supposed to be the B side to S-WC’s recent Imaginary Compilation on Carter USM. The journey home from Rochdale by the way was uneventful – nothing happened, there was no traffic jams, no arguments, no awful drinks stops at criminally unhygienic service stations. Nothing. It is kind of hard to write about how strangely normal it was.

The iPod on the way home gave us some fine tunes. The 11th track was ‘Kilamangiro by Babyshambles. This was an excellent choice, I am a massive Libertines/Doherty/Babyshambles fan – although to be honest I can take or leave his solo album. It was a close run thing as well as the 10th track was Elvis Costello.

mp3 : Babyshambles – Kilamangiro

So the next day when I got home I started to compile the Babyshambles album, I got to the end of the first side and then left it for a couple of days for the S-WC to add the tunes he wanted to it. He had until the weekend to decide whether he want ‘French Dog Blues’ or ‘Unbilotitled’ at the end. He will choose the latter and we both knew it but I humoured him.

It is now Saturday November 14th – the morning after Paris had woken up to the night before. Saturdays are usually a bit hectic in the Badger household. This morning is a but subdued as the shock settles in – normally I would go and do a run (Hi ‘Park Run Exeter’ if you are reading) and the wife does her thing. My wife is really into cycling – she runs an online cycle shop, maintains a cycle website and organises rides for keen enthusiasts. Today as it happens is the day of the Annual Dartmoor Bike Challenge. A bunch of them up on Dartmoor cycling between the western point to the easterly point, or something. It’s a long way.

mp3 : Mansun – Wide Open Space

I decide to meet S-WC in our favourite watering hole for a lunch time pint which would turn into three, after that my plan would be to fall asleep whilst watching repeats of The Big Bang Theory.

I’ll let you into a secret, S-WC and I are thinking of relaunching our blog, and we spend some time discussing this over a pint in the pub. We’ve had an idea called ‘One Song A Day’ – we are thinking of posting one song a day for a year (starting January 1st). There would be very few words on the blog, just a song chosen at random. Its work in progress I suppose and by progress I mean I’ve written down the words ‘One Song A Day’.

We are halfway into our second pint of Otter and are putting the finishing touches to the Babyshambles compilation at the end of side two – and I Told You!!!!!

mp3 : Babyshambles – Unbilotitled

We look at the compilation and then look at the television as news reports continue to show the disruption and chaos over in France and what we’ve done seems a little mundane and a little average and however hard we try it seems impossible to write about music right now.

Then my phone rings. It is George. George is a lady who helps my wife with the cycling stuff. She is crying. Shit. In fact double shit.

Man I hate hospitals. On reflection, that’s a silly thing to say. No one likes hospitals; they are full of sick people and illness. I’ve narrowly avoided three trolleys, two blokes walking round dragging a drip to their arms and a child carrying a huge ‘Get Well Soon’ balloon as I rushed from the car park to the ward (thanks S-WC for the high speed dash across town…).

mp3 : The Prodigy – Take Me to the Hospital

I see George and she rushes up to me and immediately starts crying and hugging me at the same time. On the phone earlier, George told me the story of what had happened. I’ll quote her directly here.

“It was the pony, I mean she saw the pony. She didn’t see the Landrover who was also avoiding the stupid fucking pony. It hit her full on and sent her and her bike flying over the hedge. Then the fucker drove off”. I kind of fell in love with George a bit at that point, she is 50 something church going spinster who I have never heard swear before. It dulled the shock. Guys, we got the blokes number plate, its alright. I’ll have him killed by the end of the month (for the benefit of the tapes and the Government – I won’t really).

mp3 : Swearin’ – Parts of Speech

Now, this being Dartmoor, the hedge was part wild thorny bush and part stone cob wall. She landed the other side of it, on her right leg and the bike came crashing down on top of her.

I braced myself as the doctor came over. He shakes my hand, never a good sign I find. He says some words which kind of go over my head. I hear ‘Unconscious’, I hear ‘Blood’ and I hear the word ‘Pelvis’. The rest sound like white noise. Ultimately she had a broken right leg and a fractured pelvis. Folks, I don’t know if any of you cycle, and I also don’t if any of you are stupid enough not to use one, but her cycle helmet almost certainly saved her from more serious injuries. I walked in the room.

The first thing that struck me was the blood.

mp3 : The Dears – Blood

I’m not squeamish at all but when it’s your nearest and dearest it’s horrific. I probably don’t need to tell you that. She is awake and obviously in a lot of pain. She has a bruise the size of Brighton on her right hand side and she can’t really move at the moment. But she is smiling. I realise that she is going to be ok when she asks me if “I’d taken the wood to the recycling centre”. No is the answer, but folks, I said yes.

mp3 : Passion Pit – I’ll Be Alright

The doctors, nurses, specialists, X Ray teams, the whole lot of them were fantastic, every single one of them is a credit to the our wonderful NHS, and whilst I shouldn’t get political on your asses, that is why, in England at least, you should all support the Junior Doctor Strikes. It’s also why we should lobby the government to remove that cretin Hunt from his position. Sorry. I’ve put the soap box away now.

The last week and a half have been pretty hard work, the wife needs constant looking after and help to get around, she didn’t want to sit in hospital – she wanted to come home. It was I think the Wednesday when I was sitting in the bedroom as she slept trying to write something about Babyshambles that I stumbled across this idea. I obviously need to make it ten songs, so the next three are for the wife. She does read this blog and I imagine that I should probably just tell her to her face, but she is everything to me, I adore her and am just so happy that she is ok.

The first two are songs that I know she loves by bands that she loves, the last one is from me to her. Thanks for reading this – if you have got this far – I apologise if I have gushed, or been soppy.

mp3 : The Horrors – Sea within A Sea
mp3 : Perfume Genius – Queen
mp3 : Caribou – Can’t Do Without You

Oh and this one is from S-WC……

mp3 : Hop Along – Waitress

Thanks for reading

TIM BADGER

JC adds…….

I’ve been in touch with Tim and I’m pleased to pass on the news that Mrs B is doing well and getting over what must have been an horrific experience.  Some of the songs within his own selection are personal faves of Mrs B and she seemingly does read this blog on occasion.

So here’ s to your continued speedy recovery….with some music to hopefully make you smile.

mp3 : Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Battered Old Bird

PS : I’m off on a 12-day holiday from tomorrow morning with Mrs Villain (Barbados since you ask…) but have cobbled together a few what I hope are reasonably entertaining postings in advance to keep things ticking over till I get back (including the ICA originally scheduled for today but shunted back to the middle of next week).  However, I’ll be unable to respond to any e-mails probably won’t drop in to respond to any comments you might leave in the interim.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #51 : PREFAB SPROUT

910065
I’ve given this a fair bit of thought, but in the end come to the conclusion that Side A of my Prefab Sprout Imaginary Compilation album has to be identical to Side A of the band’s sophomore album released in June 1985.  In the UK and most other places the album was called Steve McQueen but in the USA it went by the name of Two Wheels Good thanks to a dispute with the estate of the late American Actor.

If pushed, I’d probably say that Side A of that album is my favourite half-record of all time. That may sound like a strange thing to say – and it’s not that the songs on the b-side don’t do anything for me – but I just feel that we were provided with six timeless works of art, sequenced in the perfect running order, and which are among the best bits of music that the band, and/or Paddy McAloon in his solo guise, ever released.

What this does of course is turn this particular Imaginary LP into a 12-track effort as its B-side has to offer a proper balance.  But what to go for? After all there are other songs on the flip side of Steve McQueen that are more than worthy; likewise just about everything on debut album Swoon 1983 and there’s quite a few tremendous songs on each of the four albums released between 1988 and 1997 – I haven’t bought any of the releases since then so can’t offer any observations about them, although just about everyone else I know who are fans of the band have raved about 2013 LP Crimson/Red, But for what it’s worth:

SIDE A

Faron Young, Bonny, Appetite, When Love Beaks Down, Goodbye Lucille #1, Hallelujah

The early 80s was a great time to be a follower of new music in the north-east of England. Indeed with bands such as Hurrah, The Kane Gang, Prefab Sprout and Martin Stephenson & The Daintees all on the Newcastle-based Kitchenware Records, there was a scene that wasn’t that far removed from Glasgow and Postcard Records of just a few years previous.

It was Prefab Sprout who turned out to the most commercially successful of the acts, thanks in the main to the songwriting and tunesmith talents of Paddy McAloon, but also to the marketing men who pushed hard until the elusive breakthrough hit emerged.

The band came to prominence in 1982 with a couple of singles that were hits on the indie-chart, as well as a 1984 LP Swoon (short for ‘Songs Written Out Of Necessity’) that was well received by the critics.

By now, although the records were still coming out on the Kitchenware label, Prefab Sprout had the might of CBS Records behind them, and the band was pushed into the studio with a big-name producer for an album that was intended to be released in 1985.

There were many who predicted a disaster. McAloon was a fairly shy laid-back individual who was seemingly being put under immense pressure to deliver something that justified the large contract signed with the major label. There was also the fact that despite Prefab Sprout being a band known for melodic, acoustic-based songs, the producer was the electronic pioneer and chart-act Thomas Dolby, and no-one could imagine any chemistry between the two.

Against all the odds, a masterpiece emerged.

The first hint we all got was the release of a single – When Love Breaks Down – which kept all the majesty and magnificence of a McAloon tune but had some beautiful bits added courtesy of keyboards that were clearly the work of Dolby. Despite this, the radio stations didn’t really pick up on it, and the single failed to trouble the charts.

The album came out soon after. It had the strange title of Steve McQueen.

I thought at the time it was bloody marvelous. And I still do and I will argue long into the night and right through the next day after the sun has come up that Side 1 is perfect; the CBS record bosses obviously thought so too, choosing to release four of the six songs as singles.

With the exception of the opening track, which is a tribute to a long-forgotten country & western singer and chugs along like an express train being driven by Casey Jones, it is not an album to get up and dance to. Instead, it is one to wake up with on a Saturday or Sunday morning if you’ve had a memorable time the night before and take great joy in life itself.

mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Faron Young
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Bonny
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Appetite
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Goodbye Lucille #1
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Hallelujah

SIDE B

Don’t Sing (from Swoon, 1984)

I have no idea why this very jaunty opening track on the debut album has the title of Don’t Sing as those two words don’t appear anywhere in the lyrics.  Instead it seems to follow some sort of bizarre and crazy Spaghetti Western script with outlaws and whisky priests getting into all sorts of trouble….but whatever is taking place on no account have they to put any blame on Mexico.  Wonderfully catchy and surreal with a fabulous harmonica solo thrown in for good measure

Cars and Girls (from From Langley Park to Memphis, 1988)

The second half of the 80s were strange times for Prefab Sprout.  There was near universal praise for Steve McQueen in 1985 but the intended follow-up for the next year was shelved, only appearing in 1989….by which time they had unexpectedly enjoyed a Top 10 hit thanks to a very catchy but ultimately annoying chorus about hot dogs, jumping frogs and Albuquerque – anyone who bought parent LP From Langley Park to Memphis in the hope of finding a few more like The King of Rock’n’Roll in there would have been in for a shock.   The nearest would have been the earlier lead-off single which had reached #44  – I love Cars and Girls as much for the fact that having been subjected to intense record label pressure to come up with a catchy hit, McAloon delivered a blasting critique of the label’s biggest selling star without the bosses seemingly catching on……

Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) (single, 1983)

This had first come to prominence as a self-financed release on Candle Records in 1983. In an era of a number of very clever wordsmiths fronting gentle-sounding guitar bands, McAloon clinched the crown as the cleverest of them all thanks to a catchy sing-along number that seems to make no sense whatsoever until someone whispers in your ear that the first letter of each of the words in the title spell Limoges, the city in France where the writer’s girlfriend had moved to live, breaking his heart in the process. All over a tune that was as Postcard-era Aztec Camera as any fan could have wished.  The Peel Session is included here for novelty value as much as anything (and because it lets me use more brackets – and I like brackets!!)

We Let The Stars Go Free (from Jordan : The Comeback, 1990)

Prefab Sprout hadn’t toured in five years but took the decision to go out on the road in support of their 1990 opus which had more than enough songs to have been a double album.  It was a brave move that backfired somewhat as the songs on Jordan : The Comeback being rich in arrangement across a range of genres and relying heavily on the tricks of the studio didn’t fare all that well in the live setting, even at a venue as sympathetic as Glasgow Barrowlands. The experience put me off the album somewhat and I didn’t listen to for a long time after, but there’s no denying that this, which was also released as a single, is as dreamy and ethereal as pop music gets (apart from perhaps Desire As from Steve McQueen which almost made it on at this point)

Life Of Surprises (from Protest Songs, 1989)

This was the album originally recorded and intended for release in 1986.  It’s still not clear whether the band themselves abandoned the project – some of the songs have more of a demo than fully produced feel about them – or whether the label just felt it had no commercial viability and was likely to lose many fans along the way.  The fact that it took another two years for the next album to appear – which as mentioned had a ridiculously catchy and unrepresentative pop single on it – makes me lean towards the latter.  As it turns out, Protest Songs does have a number of well-merited moments, not least this song which would eventually be issued as a single in 1993 to promote the label issuing an inevitable ‘best of’ LP when it became clear that a new full studio album was a long way off.

Real Life (Just Around The Corner) (from NME EP Drastic Plastic, 1985)

Part of a four-track EP given away with the NME in September 1985. This was the only studio recording on the EP as the others were live tracks from The Style Council, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions and The Robert Cray Band.  For a very long time, I was under the impression that the NME EP had been the place where the song had first aired but the rise of Discogs, with its encyclopaedic approach to the various releases reveals that it was in fact on one of the 12″ versions of one of the three separate releases handed to When Love Breaks Down.  The fact that I have two versions of the single but not the one containing Real Life will hopefully be an acceptable explanation for my mistake.

Anyways, Real Life (with its introductory nod to The Battle Hymn of The Republic)  might not be all that much of a stand-out song in the Prefab Sprout canon, but it was one with which I had a habit for a long time of finishing off compilation tapes for all sorts of friends on the basis that I was signing off with what I thought was an impossibly difficult to find track.  I just feel that now I’m dreaming up an imaginary compilation album there can only be one candidate to close off Side B…..but it is one that I think is more than good enough to have you want to immediately go back and listen to Side A which, after all, has the pick of the tracks from that very golden era in the band’s history.

mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Don’t Sing
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Cars and Girls
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) (Peel Session)
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – We Let The Stars Go Free
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Life Of Surprises
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Real Life (Just Around The Corner)

Enjoy

 

AN IMAGINARY EVENING WITH MUSICIANS


A guest contribution from xxxjim

DinnerParty-MAIN

Hey JC

This is a change from an imaginary compilation, but I’m pretty sure I could do one for almost every singer/band mentioned – now there’s a challenge!

Anyway, a comment made a while ago got me thinking. It was on a Wedding Present / Cinerama related posting and it was along the lines of David Gedge being someone that the commenter, paulb3015 would most like as a friend.

I know it’s never a good idea to meet your heroes but I still think it would be great to spend an evening in the company of these musicians. I guess they all seem quite approachable to me and the sort of people that have a lot of stories and would be fun to be around.

So I give you the eight musicians I’d love to spend an evening with, be it for a beer or two or a meal all round a table, shooting the breeze. Eight seems about the right number – enough that you’d get to talk to everyone but not too many that no one can hear what anyone else is saying. And it would have to be the right mix of musicians – not too many egos.

They are not necessarily my all time favourite musicians or my favourite bands – in some cases they are – I just think they are all interesting people. One thing a lot of them have in common is that they like to tell a story when you see them live – I know that it can be the same story every night but as long as it seems like it’s off the cuff, I’m happy with that.

I haven’t worked out a seating plan but obviously there’s be two seats reserved for Mr and Mrs Vinyl Villain.

Kristin Hersh

Her music has been a constant in my life since I was about 18 – I’ve kind of grown up with her. I’m not an obsessive fan but I do try and see her whenever she performs. One of only two famous people to reply to me on Twitter (not that I use it very often), which makes her an all round nice person. (The other one was David Gedge)

mp3: Kristin Hersh – Sundrops (from ‘Hips and Makers’ LP)

Colin Meloy

Because he seems like a good bloke – a lot of The Decemberists’ songs are stories and he spins a good yarn on stage so I’m sure there would be plenty to talk about.

mp3 : The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song (from ‘The Hazards of Love’ LP)

David Gedge

I don’t need to explain this one – I’m pretty sure that every reader of TVV would want to have a beer with David Gedge.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Give My Love To Kevin (acoustic) (from ‘George Best (plus)’ LP)

Leonard Cohen

I thought maybe Prince would be entertaining but I imagine everyone would just sit there dumbstruck thinking ‘Bloody hell – it’s Prince’ and no-one saying a word. Either that or he’d play ping pong with everyone and thrash them. But I thought it would be good to have an absolute megastar at the table, and someone much older – and someone who has been a hero of mine since my art student days. He’d bring a touch of wisdom to proceedings and his fantastic gravelly voice. And you never know he might feed us tea and oranges that come all the way from China.

mp3 : Leonard Cohen – Slow (from ‘Popular Problems’ LP)

Viv Albertine

A year ago she wouldn’t have been a dinner guest but her memoir ‘Clothes, Music, Boys’ is great – the best music book I’ve read this year – better than Kim Gordon and better than Eddie Argos (seriously). And she seems like a nice person – and normal. And because I love this song which is one of my favourite songs of the year (even though it came out a while ago, it’s new to me).

mp3 : Viv Albertine – Confessions of a MILF  (from ‘The Vermillion Borders’ LP)

Gruff Rhys

Because he took a puppet around America to try and find a Welsh-speaking tribe of native Americans. And he made a powerpoint presentation about it. And an album. And he weaves it all into a great story. And obviously because he is a Super Furry Animal.

mp3 : Gruff Rhys – Iolo (from ‘American Interior’ LP)

Holly Johnson

The first pop star that I really idolized – about 10 years ago I saw him in a shop and I was too star struck to go and say hello. His memoir is also worth a read.

mp3 : Frankie Goes to Hollywod – Relax (7” single)

Nicky Wire

The second Welshman – he’d make sure that it wasn’t all back slappery and coziness. Plus, if all else fails we can talk about sport – and he can give my daughter tips on applying eyeliner.

mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – Europa Geht Durch Mich (from ‘Futurology’ LP)

Anyway, I hope you like it – and it’s the sort of thing that fits in well on TVV.

cheers

xxxjim

SEE ME RUN NOW YOU’RE GONE….DREAM ON

113944395
I was someone who didn’t pay much attention to Massive Attack in terms of their singles. In an era when CD albums were in the region of £12-£15 and singles were usually £4, it didn’t make much sense unless you were something of an uber-fan to buy the singles.

I picked up a copy of the album Mezzanine not longer after its release in April 1998, partly on the back of having really enjoyed the previous album Protection, but partly as I adored what I thought had been its lead-off single Teardrop featuring a stunning vocal from Elizabeth Fraser.   The fact that there had been an earlier advance single as far back as August 1997 had totally passed me by and indeed until I saw a copy in a second-hand store a few months back I had always thought the record label had missed out on the chance of releasing what I felt was one of many stand out tracks from the album:-

mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson

In fact, the single had reached #11 in the charts which really shows how little attention I had been paying.  The CD single came with two more than decent remixes along with a different track which was like finding treasure at the end of the rainbow:-

mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson (The Underdog remix)
mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson (Otherside)
mp3 : Massive Attack – Superpredators (The Mad Professor Remix)

My favourite Siousxie & The Banshees song is Metal Postcard…..and that’s the very song which is heavily sampled to make Superpredators.

Enjoy.

THE JAM SINGLES (18)

R-389915-1133034772.jpeg
R-6925464-1429642603-4814.jpegOn 30 October 1982 it was officially confirmed that The Jam would be splitting up at the end of the year.  Prior to that there would be one last single and dates on the winter tour of the UK would be fulfilled.  The news was greeted with some dismay but no real shock as the songs were now a long way removed from how they had started out and it was clear that Paul Weller wanted to go in a totally different direction from Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler.

On Thursday 26 November the band began the farewell tour at the Glasgow Apollo.  Having camped out for tickets some months previously, long before the band break-up had been announced, I had a very hot and in demand piece of paper but there was no way I was giving it up no matter how much I was offered.

The following day, the band’s last single was released in standard 7″ a double-pack of 7″ singles and in a 12″ format.  It went straight to #1 where it stayed for two weeks:-

mp3 : The Jam – Beat Surrender
mp3 : The Jam – Shopping
mp3 : The Jam – Move On Up
mp3 : The Jam – Stoned Out Of My Mind
mp3 : The Jam – War

It was a gloriously upbeat end to the band’s career. Not their best single by a long way but still a decent ending. They had scored eighteen successive Top 40 hit 45s with two of these being via the very unlikely and unusual import-only route. The standard 7″ came with Shopping on the b-side while the double pack and 12″ offered the three soul covers that had been made famous originally by Curtis Mayfield, The Chi-Lites and Edwin Starr.

No other versions on offer today.  And that would be that except that I want to offer a little bonus.

R-1263027-1380695724-7669.jpeg

At the very height of their popularity, the band made a one-off recording available for publication called Flexipop which had the gimmick of offering an otherwise unreleased recording by some of the best selling artists of the day.  The Jam offered something very unusual indeed along with a different recording of a track from Sound Affects:-

mp3 : The Jam – Pop Art Poem
mp3 : The Jam – Boy About Town (flexipop version)

And that seems as good a way as any to bring the series to a close.

Next up for the singles treatment……The Style Council.

(Well it had to be didn’t it????)

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 44 of 48)

R-392372-1363810588-4419.jpeg
The next two weeks in this series will feature bands who reinvented themselves during their career and in doing so caught a lot of people, fans and critics alike, by surprise.

Pop Will Eat Itself had been kicking around for some five years prior to the release of their first material in 1986. They had, like many other new and emerging combos, gone through various line-ups in an effort to find the right formula, eventually settling on Clint Mansell (vocals/guitar), Adam Mole (keyboards), Graham Crabb (drums) and Richard Marsh (bass). Their first release was a self-produced EP called The Poppies Say Grrr…. which would be the one and only release on the magnificently named Desperate Records.

They then signed to Chapter 22 Records and went into the studio to record a second EP, Poppiecock, which was released in October 1986. The lead track was the song chosen for inclusion on the CD86 compilation which has formed the basis for this particular series:-

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – The Black Country Chainsaw Massacreee

The Black Country incidentally, for those who might not be aware, is the name given to the part of England the band came from….just in case anyone thought the band were being racist.

Oh and the above is the correct title of the song.  It is incorrectly listed on CD86 as The Black Country Chainsaw Massacre.  Those two extra ‘e’s at the end are important!!

All five tracks were short and sharp – none of them reached the two-minute mark – and were derivative of an indie-guitar post-punk pop sound. They were OK at what they did but they didn’t really stand out from the crowd. Their next release was a covers EP after which, in early 1987 there began a revolutionary evolution in their sound which coincided with Graham Crabb ditching the drums to become a co-vocalist and being replaced by a machine with an increasing reliance on sampling and the incorporation of hip-hop which was just beginning to increase in popularity here in the UK.

By 1988, the band’s sound had changed completely as evidenced by their first single of that year, Def Con One, which fused a range of genres while sampling a range of tunes by acts as diverse as 70s teenyboppers The Osmonds, punk gods The Stooges, novelty disco act Lipps Inc and not forgetting the theme tune from cult TV show The Twilight Zone. Follow up single Can U Dig It? followed a similar groove and took the band into the charts for the first time, beginning a run of twelve Top 40 hits over the next five years and a move to major label in the shape of RCA in 1989.

Their departure from RCA in 1993 was a strange affair in that singles lifted from their final album for that label went on to be hits which enabled the band to sign with Infectious Records (set up by a former RCA executive) for their final hurrah in 1994/5.

Their initial ten years in the music business had yielded a fair bit of success and they were always a crackingly energetic live act, hugely popular on the festival circuit thanks to their no-nonsense, high-octane and fast-paced performances. But based on the early material,including the track used on CD86, nobody could ever have imagine that’s how it would turn out. Here’s the other tracks from Poppiecock:-

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Monogamy
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Oh Grebo, I Think I Love You
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Titanic Clown
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – B-B-B-Breakdown

Incidentally, every PWEI song was credited to Vestan Pance which was a pseudonym for the band as a whole although most of the tracks were written by either Graham Crabb or Clint Mansell.

The band reformed in 2005 and have continued to perform and record on an on-and-off basis ever since, albeit only Graham Crabb from the orignal line-up is part of the current set-up.

Enjoy

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (37)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THURSDAY 3 APRIL 2008

paul-quinn-stupid-thing-front

The first posting to The Vinyl Villain was on 30 September 2006.

Today’s (3 April 2008) is the 401st posting since that day, and according to the really nice people over at Site Meter, I’ve had 153,746 hits as of this morning. I know that’s nothing like the amount of different people who have popped in, but if I have persuaded even one reader to become a fan of Paul Quinn, then I could quit tomorrow and feel I’ve achieved something.

No-one has been featured more in the various postings than the mighty Quinn. His is the great lost voice of a generation. It is a tragedy that he was struck down by a truly debilitating disease that has left him unable to perform.

His legacy isn’t substantial in volume, but quality wise, it’s hard to beat.

Alan Horne resurrected Postcard Records in 1992, partly to release some old stuff by Orange Juice, but also to give a home to Paul Quinn & The Independent Group.

This truly was a legendary Glasgow line-up – James Kirk (ex Orange Juice), Campbell Owens (ex Aztec Camera), Blair Cowan (ex Lloyd Cole & The Commotions) and Robert Hodgens (ex Bluebells) were just some of the members, as was Alan Horne himself.

Two albums and a couple of singles was all it amounted to. I once read someone else trying to describe Paul’s voice and they said, add up David Bowie, Bryan Ferry and Edwyn Collins, then divide by three and you get Paul Quinn, with Paul being a better conventional singer than any of them. I couldn’t put it any better….

This was not a band that appeared live too often, but there was a truly unforgettable night at the Glasgow Film Theatre in 1994 when they gave a spellbinding performance to a backdrop of weird and wonderful movie clips by the likes of Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel. One of my favourite concerts/events of all time, it is a tragedy that no-one thought to film it. My old mate Jacques the Kipper was with me, and as he has since said, there are few nights he would ever want to re-live but the GFT gig is one – simply because it could never be repeated. Not close.

I’ll stop now before the tears start to flow…

mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Stupid Thing
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Passing Thought
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Superstar

The last of these three tracks, taken from a CD single (Postcard DUBH 933) from 1992 is a cover of a song by The Carpenters. Around the same time, and by coincidence, Sonic Youth also covered Superstar and the press raved about them, all the while more or less ignoring Paul Quinn and his mates.

Sometimes I just don’t get it….

FROM JtK’s COMPILATION CASSETTES (2)

41BF0PHJNVL._SY355_
Another song today from side A of ‘Tape’…but first of all, let’s go back to 1978:

mp3 : Jilted John – Jilted John

One of the first bits of music to be produced by the soon to be legendary Martin Hannett (then known as Martin Zero), Jilted John was the creation of 19-year old Manchester Polytechnic drama student Graham Fellows.  Yes, it’s a novelty single about the end of a romance but it was, and still is, catchy as fuck and well worthy of the sales that took it to #4 in September 1978.

Graham Fellows would go on to find some more fame and fortune with another comedy creation in the late 80s in the shape of John Shuttleworth, a 50-something aspiring singer/songwriter from Sheffield who writes his material with the aid of a Yamaha organ and drum machine. The comedy came in the main from the character’s complete lack of self-awareness about the gap between his musical talent and his wholehearted belief that he could still make it as a pop star combined with the sort of wholesome yet surreal humour that would later propel Peter Kay to success. And what could have been a one-trick pony has continued to enjoy continued success for nigh on 30 years now, and of course where Fellows was once getting laughs from portraying a character much older than himself, he and Shuttleworth are about the same ages now.

But in-between Jilted John and John Shuttleworth there was a little known LP released by Graham Fellows in 1985 entitled Love at the Hacienda on Wicked Frog Records. It sold abysmally despite some very positive reviews….and nowadays is worth quite a bit of money as it has been so long out of print. There was a CD re-issue in 2004 and the one second-hand copy I could find on-line would need £54 to be handed over to the seller on amazon.

Jacques the Kipper being a man of impeccable taste has a copy of the album and he stuck these two tracks towards the end of side A of Tape, sandwiched between Marimba Jive by Red Guitars and closing track Considering A Move To Memphis by Colorblind James Experience. No wonder we hit it off right away:-

mp3 : Graham Fellows – Love At The Hacienda
mp3 : Graham Fellows – Seven Pints And A Suicide

It’s indie-twee, but not as we would come to know it in the C86 era.

Enjoy

IN PRAISE OF 30 SOMETHING


Postpunkmonk, in commenting on today’s ICA from Carter USM, has asked which album he should start with.

I’ll throw in my opinion with a repost (with updates) from the old blog, back in December 2011, complete with the comments left behind at the time.

While recently re-reading the excellent Goodnight Jim-Bob : On The Road with Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine (a highly recommended book available from its publishers here), I was struck by the following passage:-

On May the 10th backstage at the Carlisle Sands Centre we received a phone call to tell us that 1992 The Love Album had entered the charts at number 1. That surely should have felt a lot better than it did. I was cock-a-hoop head over heels as happy as a sandboy’s dog with two tails called Larry when 101 Damnations went into the Top 40 and even more so when 30 Something went to Number 8. Straight in at Number 1 should have killed me. But for some reason it was a bit of an anti-climax. Maybe it was because we expected it. All the planning and marketing and not releasing it the same week as Iron Maiden’s new album. I don’t know. We opened a couple of bottles of champagne on stage that night and sprayed them all over the audience like the Schumacher brothers but it should have meant a lot more. And yet that Sunday evening in Carlisle I was almost disappointed.

Maybe the unsaid thing from Jim Bob is that he knew the band’s poorest LP to date had been the one to take them to the pinnacle and it left a bit of a sour taste.

The band had come a very very long way in a short period of time. Late 1989 had seen the release of the critically acclaimed 101 Damnations on Big Cat Records. An LP that wiki describes perfectly as a critical account of life south of the River Thames, full of black humour, cynicism, wordplay and puns – as indeed was so much of Carter USM’s output over the years.

February 1991 saw the release of 30 Something on Rough Trade Records. It was at this time that I got my first ever live experience of the band with an incredible performance in the tiny space at Glasgow Tech Students Union (Jacques the Kipper was with me that night). I caught them live again later in 1991 and again was amazed by the show. They were energetic, lively and hugely entertaining. And in 30 Something, they were promoting what I reckon is one of the best and most overlooked LPs in critics lists – one that has stood the test of time almost 25 years on.

It got them a move to a major label – to Chysalis Records – and 1992 was the year when the UK and much of Europe went bonkers for Jim Bob and Fruitbat, much of it lovingly recalled in the book. There were headlining slots at festivals and just over a year after not selling out a student union, Glasgow was treated to two nights at the Barrowlands – they could just as easily have packed the 12,000 capacity SECC. But the songs on 1992 The Love Album seemed for the most part a bit dull compared to what had appeared on the first two records.

Reputedly costing less than £4000 to record and produce, 30 Something is a masterpiece. From the opening snatched and oh-so accurate dialogue lifted from an episode of Red Dwarf:-

“When You’re younger you can eat what you like, drink what you like and still climb into your 26-inch trousers and zip them closed. But then you reach that age….24, 25…your muscles give up, they wave a little white flag and without any warning at all you’re suddenly a fat bastard” ….

all the way through to the melancholy and sadness of the closing track The Final Comedown, there isn’t a wasted moment across its entire 41 minutes.

There’s great passion, energy and humour in the lyrics even when they are dealing with really dark and serious issues such as alcoholism, racism, bullying, domestic violence and depression. There’s a great warning of the perils of consumerism which include the use of a sample of the voice of Joe Strummer and so many attacks on the state of UK society with the have and have-nots thanks to Thatcherism. For me…..it is the most punk of albums with an electronic twist. And as I say, one that today still hasn’t lost its ability to have me jumping around the room like an idiot (even if nowadays I do it in my head rather than in reality….)

It’s an Immense Record. At and more than 50 something it still speaks to me.

Comments

The Robster said… Brilliant piece, JC. There’s not a word I disagree with in there. I too loved Carter and first saw them on that 30 Something tour (Exeter Uni). One of the roughest gigs I’ve ever been too (rougher than UK Subs, Stiff Little Fingers, Therapy?) – covered in bruises I was – but it was worth it. Their subsequent records never quite reached the heights of those first two and 30 Something really is a great lost classic. 12:51 pm, December 15, 2011

Anonymous said… Carter forever! likewise at 45 this music is still talking to me , there were great and they are still amazing Filip 12:52 pm, December 15, 2011

Simon said… Will And Testament is my favourite Carter track, although I do like the whole album, but that one has always stood out for me, one of my favourite songs of that whole era pre-grunge, post Roses. Still one of my favourite bands for lyrical content too, in fact I sometimes think their music wasn’t always good enough for their lyrics, which I can read on their own and still enjoy. 1:47 pm, December 15, 2011

Anonymous said… Love this and 101 Damnations. The Final Comedown is destined for my funeral. ctel 2:45 pm, December 15, 2011

Rigid Digit said… Saw Carter in the fleapit that was The Carribean Club in Basingstoke in 1990. 101 Damnation s was a fine, fine album (“GI Blues” anyone?), but 30 Something was the defining album of my late youth. The key house party mosh track were “Surfin USM” & “Shoppers Paradise”. Still played fairly regularly, usually as a Sunday morning wakener. 1992 was good, but it would’ve taken something extra special to surpass 30 Something. I wasn’t quite 20-Something when it was released, and being 30 Something was a lifetime away. I’m now 40 Something and that album will remain in “My Top Albums Ever” List 7:10 pm, December 15, 2011

Push said… Good piece. I interviewed Jim and Fruitbat loads of times back in the day – including their first ever interview in the national music press (Melody Maker, 1988). You can read that and also another Carter interview (from 1993) on my website if you’re interested. All being well, my name should be a link. Cheers! 8:32 pm, December 15, 2011

Anonymous said… Fruitbat! I have worn my cassette of this and the 1992 album to a stretched out mess. Dark and humorous in a way not many bands can actually pull off. 12:45 am, December 16, 2011

—————————-

Means a lot when I get praise like that from The Robster…..and Ctel’s comment about The Final Comedown being destined for his funeral brought a wee lump to my throat.

JC : 16 December 2011

 

And here’s the cover version I would have to include in any Carter ICA.  Don’t ask me though to remove any of the 1o that S-WC and Badger came up with.

mp3 : Carter USM – Rent

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #50 : CARTER USM

Just two guys messing around (part 7)
An Imaginary Compilation (of Sorts) by SWC and Tim Badger

carter_USM

“Do you know” said Badgerman as we sat at his computer and waited for the computer program to load. “It would be quicker, to just pick a name out of a hat”. Obviously, he is right, although personally I enjoy typing the names of 168 different football clubs into a spreadsheet, then watching him type a massively long and vastly complicated formula into it and then gawp in delight as half a second later the machine brings back a number. Seriously if the FA Cup draw was half as exciting as this it would get 50 million viewers. I might write to Gary Lineker.

We’ve decided to do another little trip – this time we have included the Scottish teams – and have a vague plan to meet up with JC and half of Glasgow should we get a Scottish club. Saying that I was looking at the location of some of Scottish clubs and secretly am now praying that we don’t end up in Forfar or Stranraer.

The results are in….It’s Rochdale.

I’m not sure I can quite describe how underwhelming this is. We have literally the whole of England, Scotland and two places in Wales to choose from and the stupid computer chooses, Rochdale. One of the dullest places on Earth. It is a well known fact that Rochdale has been voted the Britains most boring town 715 years in a row. It’s so boring that its twinned with the small Scottish village of Dull.

There is usually a get out jail card with these things – the team we pick has to be at home on the day we are going (November 7th).  Sadly for us, Rochdale are at home, it’s also the cup. I start researching Rochdale and what there is to do there in case we are massively early– the polite answer is not much. There is a museum, but not only is it closed its also dedicated to Nigel Mansell.

Rochdale are playing Swindon. As a Gillingham fan, I am supposed to hate Swindon, I have no idea why this rivalry exists, Swindon is nowhere near Gillingham – I would imagine that in 1974 the teams played out a close 0-0 thriller and the Swindon fans cruelly mocked the Gillingham fans for living in caravans or something. I therefore immediately start to warm towards Rochdale, and besides it can’t be as much of a dump as Crewe.

Later that day I tell JC that we are going to be in Rochdale – it turns out that JC is actually president of the Scottish Rochdale Supporters Club (president by the fact that he is actually the only known Scottish Rochdale Fan) and that his good friend Jacques the Kipper is a Swindon fan (I make a mental note to mock Jacques should we ever meet). Sadly they are going to watch Auchernauldy Utd vs Fort William Reserves in the Irn Bru Challenge Cup (or something) so he and Jacques can’t make it.

The day of the trip arrives, and again Badger and I decide to do a compilation on the 11th track that comes on the iPod. As its Badger’s birthday on the Monday I let him use his iPod and I drive. I also offer to go first. I’ll point out here that Badger secretly loaded up his iPod with Radio 2 friendly pop music the other day on the off chance that one of them would come up as my 11th track. “The risk of me getting one of them is worth it for the look on your face” he said. The sixth track on the way up is by Savage Garden and the ninth (now that is close) is by M People. I so hope this is going to backfire on him on the way home.

We drive past Bridgewater Services this time, deciding that despite the fact we are hungry, desperate for a piss and a cuppa, we’d rather eat the crumbs off of my daughter car seat, piss our trousers, and then wring them out and drink that than ever set foot in that place ever again. The 11th track comes on somewhere near Highbridge, delayed slightly by the 12 minute Underworld track that came on as track 8. We both grin – its Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. A band universally loved – I have never ever met a single person who didn’t love them. This is a band that I have thought about doing an ICA on before and one that JC reveals to me later in the week that he too has one planned for them.

For the next hour Badger and I discuss our favourite Carter tracks and gigs – he mentions at length one he went to in London at a tiny place called The Venue in New Cross it was a secret gig – which celebrated the release of Rubbish. I chose a gig at Shepherds Bush Empire in 1996. Weirdly we were both at the same Carter gig on the ‘Post Historic Monsters’ Tour in Tonbridge – we didn’t know each other at the time. Of course our favourite moment was the time that Fruitbat twatted Phillip Schofield live on telly.

I was wrong about Rochdale – it is worse than Crewe;  Crewe looks like Beverley Hills compared to Rochdale. We find the only pub in the area which doesn’t have blood stains on the pavement outside, a place called ‘The Albion’ and try to compile our Carter Imaginary Compilation. After two pints, a couple of lukewarm burgers and some rubbery lettuce, we have decided on four tracks (the first three and the last one). We spend most of the time debating whether or not we should do a Carter covers compilation or a B Side compilation or a mixture of the lot. We could actually do all three but decide on a mixture. We also decide to limit it to four singles and try to include tracks from at least four different albums.

Side One

Surfin USM (from 30 Something) – This one took us about eight seconds to decide upon. In 1992 I went to see Carter with my friend Rob –it was his first ever gig.  To this day I have never seen someone grin as much as he did when that Red Dwarf sample starts up, then the crowd start chanting ‘You Fat Bastard’ at the (starry eyed?) bollock naked guy on stage and then the guitars fire up. This was why we all loved Carter. The amazing lives shows and the sense of belonging you got at one of them.

Sheriff Fatman (from 101 Damnations) – Another obvious one, and for many, still their best song, and easily their most recognisable. The first Carter song I actually owned, having got it on Happy Daze Vol 1 (I think) – which was a Christmas present from my brother in 1990.  At Reading 1991, I bought a Sheriff Fatman TShirt which had the words ‘ YOU FAT BASTARD’ on the back of it. I wore it to sixth form college about two months later and promptly got marched back home by Kent’s finest officers about seven minutes after leaving the house. I still have it – it doesn’t fit anymore – but I just can bear to part with what is my last remaining item of teenage rebellion

Shoppers Paradise (from 30 Something) – My favourite Carter track. Essentially a pop song with wonderful lyrics which make you realise why Jim Bob had to become an author….Here’s a snippet…

“Ground floor Shoppers’ Paradise; habit-dashery, needles, spoons and knives; knuckle-dusters, glass jaws and wooden hearts. Spend your money girls on sprays and lipsticks; tested on bunnies, girls, strays and misfits; ozone friendly rape alarms for those blinding dates – another summer of hate”

I genuinely could listen to the lyrics of this for hours on end.

Skywest and Crooked (from 1992 the Love Album) The Love Album is in my opinion the weakest of all the Carter albums, yet this is the standout track from it. I love the range on this – it almost slightly operatic in its style and the inclusion of the late great Ian Dury on it is just magical.

Ceasefire (from Worry Bomb) – Clocking in at nearly nine minutes long I think this is the longest track Carter ever recorded. Its also one of the most emotional and poignant. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in 1996 I saw Carter start a gig with this – 5000 people were so up for it and Jim Bob came on alone and did the first three minutes acapella. 5000 people stood there fixated on the stage – but nothing happened, no fireworks, no explosions, no lights, just Jim and that voice shouting ‘Bang Bang’ – it was brilliant.

Side Two

Sheltered Life (Single) – Chris, my former friend (he of the Dubstar argument – and just in case, it’s Halifax you donkey brained knobjockey) bought this for me ‘as a present’ in 1991. He then three hours after he gave it to me charged me a fiver for it, claiming he’d never said present at all. I got revenge though as I once spilt tea all over his copy.

Bedsitter (B Side to Bloodsport For All) – When Bloodsport for All was originally released it was at height of the war in the Gulf – and radio stations started to get very twitchy over playing songs about war, the army etc. Radio One in all its wisdom played this track instead, until they realised that at the end, you can hear Jim Bob shouting ‘Fucking Arsehole Bastard’. Between us Badger and I have 17 Carter cover versions, we only have room for one – so we listed them with the best at the top. On both our lists, this came top. Its brilliant and in my opinion miles better than the original. Badger also put their version of Trouble by Shampoo in second place.

Re Educating Rita (B Side to Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere) As well as the obligatory B Side cover version, there were some B Sides that were just as memorable and incredible as the singles. For me ‘Re Educating Rita’ is the archetypal Carter song – the clever pun in the title, the relentlessly sing a long nature of the chorus. It really should have been a single, particularly as its miles better than the track that it was stuck away on the B Side of.

Bloodsport For All (From 30 Something) – When I was 15 I nicked a fiver out of my dad’s wallet, I then walked four miles to Chatham and bought this on 12”. It was my first ever 12”. Ironically I bought it from Our Price – the same shop that I would later meet Our Price Girl in. I told my dad two days later about the fiver – he grounded me for a week. It was worth it – every second.

G.I. Blues (from 101 Damnations) – The perfect end perhaps – one thing that Carter always did when they ended a show with this was changed the words to this the ‘I wish I was in….’ bit usually became whichever town you were standing in at that moment – it seems clichéd now, but when you were there, it made you feel like you were in the most important place in the world. Apart from if you were in Croydon. When you felt like shouting back, ‘No, no you don’t’.

mp3 : Carter USM – Surfin USM
mp3 : Carter USM – Sheriff Fatman
mp3 : Carter USM – Shoppers Paradise
mp3 : Carter USM – Skywest and Crooked
mp3 : Carter USM – Ceasefire
mp3 : Carter USM – Sheltered Life
mp3 : Carter USM – Bedsitter
mp3 : Carter USM – Re-educating Rita
mp3 : Carter USM – Bloodsport For All
mp3 : Carter USM – G.I. Blues

So there you go – Carter. Essential listening.

Rochdale won the football – 3 goals to 1 and this was largely thanks to a hat trick from one of their guys, the obvious class act on the pitch. We are aiming to do this again – in early January for Round 3 of the FA Cup. Please let us know if anyone else wants to meet up, we’ll do the science, and let you all know where we will be.

S-WC and the guitarist out of The Badgers

ON THEIR VERY BEST BEHAVIOUR

It was in August 1992 that Chumbawamba released a single on 12” vinyl and CD entitled (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave. The sleeve contained a superbly worded essay drawn from a piece by Steven Wells (R.I.P.)  in which he highlighted how ludicrous it was for anyone involved in the arts, particularly pop and rock music, to be in anyway homophobic. The single was released on the back of two now infamous events, one being where a famous pop star of the day – Jason Donovan – launched and won a libel action against a magazine that had alleged he was homosexual and the other being where Shawn Ryder was riding the waves of fame on the back of stating openly and unapologetic that he hated ‘queers’ and releasing a press statement ‘confirming his hetrosexuality.’

The single however, was the third such version of the song in a little over six months wherein lies a fine tale.

Chumbawamba began the year with plans to release a new album that would rely very heavily on sampled music and dialogue. Said album, which was entitled Jesus H Christ, was recorded but never given an official release as it was going to prove far too costly and time-consuming to gain clearance for all the samples involved – there were more than 40 – and there was a real concern that someone would simply refuse permission and so lead to the song or indeed whole album being shelved. One of the songs was this:-

mp3 : Chumbawamba – Silly Love Songs

The music sampled on the track consisted of Silly Love Songs by Paul McCartney & Wings, Tell Me Lies by Fleetwood Mac and Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon. It also contained a snatch of dialogue involving the single word ‘Behave’ as regularly uttered by music producer Pete Waterman during his stint as presenter on the late night TV show The Hit Man and Her.

The band knew that they had written a decent batch of lyrics for the new songs and so rather than letting them go to waste they went into the studio and recorded the album Shhh with real music instead of samples under which Silly Love Songs had evolved into this very fine number:-

mp3 : Chumbawamba – behave!

Then the band came up with the idea of re-recording Behave! with a completely new lyric as part of their response to the homophobia scandals, particularly the Jason Donovan court case. There’s no little irony that his rise to music stardom was masterminded by none other than Pete Waterman whose contribution to the original version of the song was such that it had led to it being adopted as its new title when the album was released.

mp3 : Chumbawamaba – (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave

The 45 version is quite a bit different from the album version, losing the trumpets and the constant refrain of behave!, as well as having a completely different lyric. The band had high hopes for the record which was being released, as usual on their own Agit-Pop label, but there were huge disputes with the distributor whose efforts were somewhat half-hearted to say the least and indeed went about things while the band were touring in the USA and unable to give it the support they wanted to here in the UK. The issues were so intense that the band would wind the label up almost immediately and sign to One Little Indian.

The 12” and CD had three other songs listed on the sleeve although there was an additional hidden track, which was yet another alternative version of behave!

mp3 : Chumbawamaba – (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave (brittle mix)
mp3 : Chumbawamaba – Misbehave (brittle mix)
mp3 : Chumbawamaba – Misbehave
mp3 : Chumbawamaba – (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave (version)

Misbehave isn’t a remix of behave!. Instead it is a brand new and ridiculously catchy song – particularly in its brittle mix form – in which the names of real people and fictional characters whose claim to fame was that they weren’t always good boys or girls are chanted over a punchy techno-lite track that once heard won’t be easily forgotten. Billy Joel and We Didn’t Start The Fire it certainly isn’t………………..

Enjoy

PS : Copies of Jesus H Christ did quietly make their way into some shops after Shhh was released; some of the owners have since put the songs out there on t’internet which is how I’ve been able to get a copy of Silly Love Songs for inclusion today…..

THE BADGERS……RE-DISCOVERED AND NOW PART OF A TOP QUALITY PODCAST

73875

Hopefully you’ll recall that this blog has single-handedly been responsible for the re-discovery of a band that according to one obsessed fan should have been the future of indie rock’n’roll. Read here for a reminder.

The renaissance continues thanks to the wonderful Webbie who has included Glenn Hoddle’s Ghost in a podcast whose common theme is all songs have a football title, but none of them are actually about the beautiful game. Among the acts featured are The Undertones, Glasvegas, Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, The Smiths………and The Badgers.

http://www.footballandmusic.co.uk/podcast-not-football-but-music/

That’s as unlikely as Scotland ever again qualifying for a major championship.