THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (4)

R-6640389-1423659567-2207.jpegDisc 4 is Complete Control

I’m not sure how much to type today as I’m guessing that most T(n)VV readers will be very familiar with the fact that Complete Control was written, recorded and released in a fit of anger by The Clash as their response to CBS having released Remote Control as a single in May 1977.

It’s interesting to note that the attack on CBS via the line They said, we’d be artistically free when we signed that bit of paper’ was savaged by many critics at the time with the band being accused of complete naiveté and indeed some went as far as suggesting the row was manufactured to allow Joe Strummer in particular to continue to appear as a spokesman for the people.

Some other facts.

It was  engineered by Mickey Foote and produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry who happened to be in London producing for Bob Marley & the Wailers and readily accepted the invited to produce Complete Control.  However, it turned out that his contribution to the track had to be toned down with Mick Jones re-working things to bring the guitars out more to the fore and drop down the echo Perry had dropped on it. The song was also Topper Headon‘s first recording with the band.

mp3 : The Clash – Complete Control

The b-side is one that many fans are very fond of and its inclusion of a saxophone part was hugely unusual in punk circles:-

mp3 : The Clash – City of The Dead

It reached #28 in the singles chart, making it The Clash’s first Top 30 release. The essay in the booklet was penned by a footballer.

COMPLETE CONTROL : Released 23 September 1977 : #28 in the UK singles chart

When I was 14, I was living with my mum and dad in Kingsbury, north-west London. After school I’d be straight up to the bedroom and get the records on. The walls had posters of all the bands I liked, The Clash, Stranglers, Stiff Little Fingers, Bowie – I got into music through him and then punk came along. I had a Lurkers set list and a massive Holidays In The Sun Pistols poster. I’d get this stuff from point of sale in the local record shops , they’s have big cardboard displays of the bands and I’d ask the bloke if he could save me it when they took them down.

I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do back then. I still don’t now. I was just into music. Back then I didn’t want to hear any slow songs or any ballads; I just wanted something fast and loud that I could sing along to and jump up and down on the bed with a baseball bat like an idiot. Complete Control was the rawest song I had, everything I wanted was on it, the rawness. I can still remember my old girl coming in and telling me to turn it down.

I probably saw The Clash up to ten times, the best was in Harlesden. Another tack I really liked was The Prisoner, which I think was on the B-side of White Man In Hammersmith Palais. I’d play White Riot before I went out to play, mainly at Forest; that was my musical peak because I was captain. Brian Clough sort of turned a blind eye to it, really.

Stuart Pearce,  England’s greatest-ever left back

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (27)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 17 APRIL 2008
AND AGAIN ON SATURDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2013

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I’ve written about Bronski Beat before. And I make no apologies of repeating what I said then – it really is all too easy to forget how brave Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat were for being so open about their way of life and their views. Their records, and those of such as the Pet Shop Boys and Frankie Goes To Hollywood took the celebration of queer culture into the mainstream, and made many people realise, probably for the first time, that homophobia was every bit as distasteful as racism and apartheid.

This was a band that came from out of nowhere. They inked a deal with London Records after a mere handful of gigs, and the debut single, Smalltown Boy, sold by the barrowload, hitting #3 in the UK charts in May 1984. It also made the Top 50 in the USA and Top 10 in Australia.

A trio of follow-up singles and the debut LP all sold in great quantities and the band seemed set for a long and successful career. But out of the blue, vocalist Jimmy Somerville (and acknowledged by everyone as the band spokesman) announced he was quitting the band to pursue an outlet that would allow him to be ‘more political.’ In due course, he would find massive success, including #1 records, with Communards. He also became part of Red Wedge, the conglomeration of musicians who campaigned for the Labour Party at the 1987 UK general election.

As for Bronski Beat – they did manage a couple of hits with new vocalist John Foster (who in retrospect sounds awfully like Andy Bell who would later come to prominence with Erasure), but they were very much overshadowed by the success of Communards. They soldiered on for a few more years, ever more fading into obscurity from the mainstream.

There’s just something about the early Bronski Beat records that make them sound so special. There’s a bit of the inventiveness of Giorgio Moroder in there, along with the pop-savvy touch of Human League and Heaven 17. There’s also the choir-boy falsetto vocals of Somerville that recalled, in some ways, Russell Mael from Sparks. Theirs were records that struck a chord with so many people, from the hard-core gay militants to the indie-kids and the disco-divas with their handbags and stiletto heels.

The look adopted by Jimmy Somerville for the video to the debut single is one that has become synonymous with young gay men in the early 80s. If you want proof, look no further than the recent BBC cop/sci-fi series Ashes to Ashes which was set in 1981, but in an episode centring on a young gay man, that particular character was dressed straight out of a Bronskis video from 1984.

That’s the impact and legacy of this one song –

mp3 : Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy (extended version)

 

ONE MORE REASON WHY JANUARY 2016 HAS SUCKED

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Today was meant to feature the latest in the series of singles by The Style Council but this is what I’d rather share with you today.

Some of you will know that this particular blog, which sprang into action in July 2013, is the descendant of The Vinyl Villain which ran with more than 1,000 postings (many of which were from guest contributors) between September 2006 and June 2013 when it was closed down by Google without any advance warning.

The one thing the two blogs have in common is the ability to bring total strangers together and turn them into close friends, even if they never ever get to meet in person. The common bond of course is a love of music and the fact that there are people out there who share similar tastes and whose fandom for certain singers, bands or even certain songs piques an interest.

It was a song that led to a blogger called Helpless Dancer (HD) to get in touch back in 2008, and after a very pleasant exchange of emails, this is what he ended up writing on his blog:-

Music and Dumbarton FC – Two Passions Collide

For a long time I have been searching through my boxes of stored CD’s looking for a CD Single by The Supernaturals which had a B-side entitled “High Tension At Boghead” to no avail.

Recently I have been checking out and enjoying the Vinyl Villain blog which features a massive amount of Scottish related music and as a last resort I posted a comment asking if by any chance they had the aforementioned track and to my great pleasure it has been posted today so many thanks VV!!

I should explain that the song is directly related to HD’s football team, which as you’ll have surmised from the title of his post is Dumbarton FC.

High Tension At Boghead is a strange but enjoyable wee number telling the tale of a young boy’s first venture to a ‘big’ football match, an occasion he found rather underwhelming but thankfully there was enough happening around the ground to keep him amused.

The picture at the top of this post is the rear of the main stand at Boghead, a ground I had the pleasure of visiting a few times and which has a particularly happy memory as being the place that I took a child to his first match – the son of my best mate (RIP) who at this point in time had left Raith Rovers to play for Ayr United at the tail end of his career.

Dumbarton FC left Boghead Park in 2000 and moved a few hundred yards away to a new ground by the banks of the river which flows through the town.  The old ground is now occupied by housing but it has of course been immortalised in song:-

mp3 : The Supernaturals – High Tension At Boghead

HD subsequently became a regular contributor to the blog via the comments section, as indeed did Son Of The Rock another music fan with a love for Dumbarton FC (or perhaps the other way round!!). I actually ended up going to a couple of Rovers v Dumbarton matches with SoTR, always thoroughly enjoying his company, but a couple of plans to meet up with HD fell through on my part.

HD’s blog came to a halt in mid 2011, some 18 months after the very sudden death of his wife at the young age of 49; it was clear to those of us who were reading his stuff that listening to a lot of his favourite music had just become too painful. He was the sort of blogger who wore his heart on his sleeve and the way he wrote about his love and adoration for his late wife was very moving. When he closed down the blog he indicated that archive postings would remain open which is why I’ve mean able to maintain a link over on the right hand side under the section ‘Old Friends No Longer Active In The Field’

The sad thing now is that HD himself has passed away at the age of 55 – very suddenly and very unexpectedly.

And it was only a week or so after his after his death that I’ve been able to join some dots and realise that HD was in fact not just a fan of Dumbarton FC, but one of those hardy souls who devote all their spare energy to their team. In this case, HD had risen from being a fan on the terraces to the position of Chief Executive at his club, a role that also saw him provide sterling service to the game in Scotland as a whole.

The realisation came from reading his obituary in a newspaper which mentioned that he had been widowed back in 2010 which was just too much of a coincidence for me not to delve a bit deeper. For the first time in ages I went back into his old site and there it was, just below the posting announcing he was closing down the blog, vital info that you could catch him on Facebook under his real name of Gilbert Lawrie.

The realisation hit me quite hard for the simple reason that on at least ten occasions over the past few years I will have been sitting a matter of yards away from him at football matches and had many an opportunity to introduce myself and say hello….and I really regret that it never happened. After all, over the years I’ve met a fair number of folk who I got to know initially through blogging, and to a man and woman they have been the most wonderful and warm people imaginable.  HD/Gilbert would have been no different.

The tributes for Gilbert Lawrie last week were many for he was incredibly popular in the small world that is Scottish football. At least one of the formal obituaries which appeared in a local paper made reference to his love of music and in particular that he was a fan and avid collector of all things by The Who. The conversation we would have had about Paul Weller would have been fascinating.

This one is for a good mate who I never ever met, but who I’m proud to say I knew.

mp3 : The Jam – So Sad About Us

RIP Helpless Dancer. The music and football worlds are poorer places without you.

THAT SUMMER FEELING

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January is a depressing month. Tired and skint after Christmas. Trying hard to get back into the swing of things at work. Dark mornings when you set off and even darker evenings when you come home. It’s cold, it’s wet or snowy. The joys of summer seem a long way off.

This January has been even worse with so many untimely deaths in the music world.

Sometimes though a chirpy cheery rather forgotten pop song comes on the i-pod shuffle and helps lifts that gloom.

mp3 : The Thrills – One Horse Town

Released in March 2003, it reached #18 in the UK singles chart. It was just about the band’s biggest ever hit – but this equally jolly follow-up did better by hitting #17 a few months later:-

mp3 : The Thrills – Big Sur

Told you.

Not quite one listen and it feels like July….but it does make you realise the short days and long nights will soon be a thing of the past.

READ THIS IF, LIKE ME, YOU KNEW ONLY ONE SONG

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January 2016 has been a foul month. Many are still coming to terms with the passing of David Bowie, the magnitude of which has understandably overshadowed the deaths of other musicians over the past two and a bit weeks. Various blogging friends have paid great tributes to Otis Clay, Dale Griffin and Glenn Frey. The latest name to join what is an ever-more depressing list is Colin Vearncombe.

His real brush with fame came back in 1987 when, under the moniker of Black, he had a huge and deserved hit all across Europe with Wonderful Life. It’s a song that has been much covered and in recent years become increasingly used in TV commercials and there’s no doubt that for many, and I include myself among them, the hit single is all they can recall.

But Colin Vearncombe had a substantial following out there who followed his career throughout the peaks and troughs, delighting in the fact that in recent years he had written and recorded some of the best songs in his career. All the more tragic therefore, that he died earlier this week having been unable to recover from an horrific brain injury sustained in an accident a few weeks back on a road near Cork in Ireland.

One of the biggest supporters of T(n)VV is Echorich – there’s barely a day goes by that he doesn’t leave some sort of comment on a posting, offering a wonderfully concise and often personal take on the song or the artist featured.

I had long known that Echorich was a huge Bowie fan and he was one of the first I thought of when the news of that death emerged.  I hadn’t however, known till recently that Colin Vearncombe was another of his favourites and so he really has had an awful start to 2016. Typically, he has put together a very lovely tribute to his hero, highlighting 17 of his best songs. It is well worth a few minutes of your time:-

http://thatperfectbeat.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/its-wonderful-wonderful-life.html

Thank You.

PS : Two more very fine tributes courtesy of friends of this blog:-

From djjedredy :https://myvinyldreams.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/black-black-compilation-from-1984-cd-re-issue/

From Post Punk Monk* : https://postpunkmonk.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/colin-vearncombe-1962-2016

* as with Echorich, PPM is a big fan of Bowie so he too has had an unimaginable start to 2016.

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #57 : ORANGE JUICE

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It’s been 18 months since I made an effort for an Imaginary Compilation Album for Edwyn Collins. It’s been 18 months that I’ve been putting off having a stab at an ICA for Orange Juice.

The dilemma here is that the band, despite only releasing records over a five-year period between 1980 and 1984, have three quite distinct periods to take into consideration. In the beginning was Postcard and its four singles (as well as an album that finally saw light of day in October 1992), as well as the debut album on Polydor. Then you have the mid-period when two of the original members left the band just as it finally enjoyed its brief dalliance with chart fame. Finally, there’s the time when the records came out under the name of the band but were, in effect, the first Edwyn’s solo recordings. I could very easily have three ICAs for each period but that would be cheating.

So here we go, with what I have decided should be called ‘The Sound Of Happiness’.

SIDE A

1. Felicity (single, 1982)

A #63 smash hit in the UK charts. Written by James and sung by Edwyn. It probably came to far more people’s attention a few years later when David sang lead vocal when his band The Wedding Present included it within a Peel Session. James himself would then cover it on his sole solo LP in 2003. I finally got to hear it played live in June 2013 when Vic Godard sang it during a set in Glasgow when he was joined on stage by its composer (now there was a ‘wow’ moment in my gig-going career).

One of the greatest bits of pop music of all time with a killer hook and chorus. It’s my favourite ever 45 from a Scottish band. It was a no-brainer for the opening track of the ICA and for the studio version refrain to supply an imaginary title. But, for a change, I’ve decided to go with the version recorded for a BBC Radio 1 session – it was the Richard Skinner show in January 1981 – and which was finally made available on the Coals To Newcastle box set in 2010 in which said refrain is missing!

2. What Presence?! (12” single, 1984)

For all that the early material is the stuff that everyone considers to be the most influential on the growth and development of indie-pop (and I won’t argue against that being a fact), I’m a sucker for the swan song material on the final album. By now it was just Edwyn from the original line-up albeit Zeke had been the drummer since 1982 (and whose talents were also being utilised by the likes of Matt Johnson and Paul Weller).

The lead-off single from the final LP climbed to the giddy heights of #47 – a few more thousand sales and we may well have been treated to what I’m sure would have been a legendary Top of The Pops appearance. Edwyn’s baritone vocal showed that he’s been paying attention to how his good mate Paul Quinn treated a song.

3. Blue Boy (7” single, 1980)

Falling and Laughing may have been the debut but Blue Boy has proven to be the most enduring and enjoyable single from the Postcard era. And surely the greatest song to ever make use of the word ‘gabardine’.

The unexpected appearance of an organ just short of two minutes in adds to the charm of this otherwise noisy and frantic guitar frenzy.

4. Consolation Prize (LP track, 1980/1982)

Glasgow has long ‘enjoyed’ a reputation for being a tough town built on the blood, sweat and toil of heavy and grimy industries. Until Orange Juice came on the scene, all of the local bands played music which veered towards the hard end of the music spectrum. They would never dream of writing songs about wearing fringes in tributes to a 60s singer or that a bloke is considering buying women’s clothing. As for admitting that they will never be man enough for anything??……………don’t even go there.

Camp, comic and cool. With the sort of few-notes guitar solo that made punk music so enjoyable and got on the nerves of those whose music veered towards the hard end of the music spectrum. I’ve included the Postcard version rather than that which appeared on You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever simply on the basis that it lasts about 25seconds longer and has a really weird note two seconds in!

5. I Can’t Help Myself (7” single, 1982)

The old adage of ‘musical differences’ had been was cited when Steven and James left the band after the debut album but in this instance it was the truth. This left Edwyn and David to take things forward, augmented by the fantastically talented Malcolm Ross and a Zimbabwe-born drummer called Zeke Manyika but the initial fruits of their labour – the double-sided single of Two Hearts Together/Hokoyo – was a huge disappointment and nothing like any of the old songs. It was a worrying time.

All fears however, were banished when the next single hit the shops. A lyric in which Edwyn admitted he was concerned about the future delivered over probably the most danceable and funky tune the band ever recorded. The 12″ version is one of the few instances when an extended sax solo is appropriate…..sadly, my copy jumps a bit a couple of times and so you will all have to make do with the 7″ version.

SIDE B

1. Intuition Told Me (b-side 1981 & LP track 1982)

In which I cheat and sneak an extra song onto the album.

Intuition Told Me So is a song of two distinct halves.  Part 1 (which is just 69 seconds long) was put on the debut album while Part 2 (clocking in at a shade over 3 mins) came out as the b-side to L.O.V.E. Love.  The original and superior versions didn’t appear until 1992 when Ostrich Churchyard was released (this is what the debut album would have sounded like if it had come out on Postcard instead of Polydor). It’s those that I’ve gone for in this  wonderful sing-a-long call and response in respect of fun beginning when the whining stops.

2. Out For The Count (b-side 1984)

As I’ve said before, the ICAs that I pull together won’t necessarily be the best or indeed my favourite ten songs as the idea is to create an album that works well as a stand-alone item. Thus it is time to include the first version of Out For The Count.

This is proof that Orange Juice had come a long way in a short period of time, or I suppose more accurately that Edwyn’s song writing abilities had done so. A track driven along by an upbeat organ sound but inexplicably left off the mini-LP Texas Fever and used instead as the b-side of the single Bridge. Purists who longed for the jingly-jangly guitars were probably appalled but I was intrigued and delighted. New guitar bands such as The Smiths were now on the block and so it seemed right that Edwyn sought to deliver a different sort of sound to keep things moving along. A slower and most wistful version of the song would later be re-recorded for the final LP.

3. Three Cheers For Our Side (Peel Session, August 1981)

It just wouldn’t be right to not include a lead vocal from James on this ICA.

One of the criticisms of the debut album is that the production moved away from the original spirit of the band with, for instance, the use of female backing singers being seen as gimmicky and unnecessary. This is certainly true in the LP version of Three Cheers For Our Side.

But what annoys me more than anything else though, is this use of professional backing singers exacerbates the fragility of James as a lead singer and makes him sound a bit ridiculous. Much better to go back a few months to the version recorded for their second and final John Peel session (later BBC appearances would be with David ‘Kid’ Jensen) in which, probably for the last ever time (until the 90s re-releases) they sounded as if they were on Postcard and not a major.

4. Falling and Laughing (single, 1980)

The indie equivalent of the pelvis doing That’s All Right (Mama) or the Fab Four hitting payola with Love Me Do. A genuine break-through moment in the history of popular music. Y’know, I think I’ve just found the area I’d like to study if I was going for a PhD….

5. In A Nutshell (LP track, 1982)

Having had a go about the backing singers ruining Three Cheers, it is only right to acknowledge that they turn this song from the Postcard era into an absolute epic. Interesting too that the very first OJ post break-up compilation was named after the track that had closed the debut album. The final minute after the vocals come to an end is magical and, to quote another song that didn’t quite make this particular cut, it’s so audacious.

Now let me get the songs posted before I change my mind again.

mp3 : Orange Juice – Felicity
mp3 : Orange Juice – What Presence?!
mp3 : Orange Juice – Blue Boy
mp3 : Orange Juice – Consolation Prize
mp3 : Orange Juice – I Can’t Help Myself
mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Part 1)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Part 2)
mp3 : Orange Juice – Out For The Count
mp3 : Orange Juice – Three Cheers For Our Side
mp3 : Orange Juice – Falling and Laughing
mp3 : Orange Juice – In A Nutshell

And building on what The Robster did with his wonderful ICA for St Etienne, here it is as as two sides of an LP.

mp3 : The Sound Of Happiness (Side A)
mp3 : The Sound Of Happiness (Side B)

ENJOY!!!!

BONUS POSTING : KATHRYN JOSEPH TAKES THE HONOURS

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You’ll recall from this posting that I submitted a Top Ten albums, as chosen by the blog’s readership, as part of the 2016 BAMS.

Our top ten was:-

10.The Spook School – We Try To Be Hopeful
9. Miaoux Miaoux – School Of Velocity
8. Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space
7. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
6. Belle & Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
5. John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
4. Blur – The Magic Whip
3. Lonelady – Hinterland
2. New Order – Music Complete
1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

The overall outcome was:-

1 Kathryn Joseph – Bones You Have Thrown Me, And Blood I’ve Spilled
2 Mioux Miaoux – School Of Velocity
3 C Duncan – Architect
4 Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men
5 Chrvches – Open Every Eye
6 Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
7 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
8 Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
9 Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
10 Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space
11 Belle & Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance
12 Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness
13 Best Girl Athlete – Carve Every Word
14 Lonelady – Hinterland
15 FFS – FFS
16 Garden Of Elks – A Distorted Sigh
17 CARBS – Joyous Material Failure
18 STOOR – STOOR
19 Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love
jt 20 Prehistoric Friends – Prehistoric Friends
jt 20 The Cathode Ray – Infinite Variety

Overall, we were one of 31 sites to cast a vote. 160 different albums were nominated.

The folk who compiled everything provided a few interesting stats including the fact that six #1 nominations didn’t receive votes from any of the other twenty-five bloggers!

The winner (pictured above with her prize) has also given a lovely interview in respect of the award.

Singer/songwriter Kathryn Joseph has become the seventh winner of the annual BAMS Award (Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites) after her exquisite album “Bones You Have Thrown Me, And Blood I’ve Spilled” topped the poll.

“Bones You Have Thrown Me, And Blood I’ve Spilled” turned out to be a convincing winner after early challenges from C Duncan’s ‘Architect’ and Young Fathers’ ‘White Men Are Black Men’ although in the end both were pipped for second placed by Miaoux Miaoux’s ‘School Of Velocity’.

2013 winners Chvrches again had a strong showing finishing just behind the leading group in fifth.

In all 31 writers this year voted for 160 albums with 11 selecting Kathryn in their top 10s.

Although Scottish acts filled the BAMS’ top 5 slots the remainder of the top 10 was very much an international affair.

When contacted by the BAMS with news of her win, Kathryn was delighted.

Kathryn, congratulations! bones you have thrown me blood I’ve spilled is the winner of the Scottish BAMS Award for 2015! How does it feel?

“It feels amazing! Thank you so much!”

Previous winners include the likes of The Twilight Sad, CHVRCHES, Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat. Good company to be in?

“Yeah the best company! I can’t believe I get to sneak in with my fellow bams!”

Last year was a really exciting year for you. As well as the BAMS award, your album was also the Scottish Album of the Year as well. What have been the highlights of 2015 for you?

“Pretty much every single gig we’ve played!

“The SAY Awards night was just the most beautiful ever. I keep saying even if we hadn’t won it would still have been the best night ever because it was just such a beautiful atmosphere and the dancing afterwards was great, and Halina from Podcart played the most amazing records. And Suzie from Happy Meals was dancing around our heads, it was amazing!

“But yeah it has honestly been the best year of my life. All of the things I’ve got to do, all of the people I’ve got to meet, and all of the other music I’ve got to hear. It’s been amazing. Even if nothing good happens this year I won’t mind because I have that.”

Speaking of that, what other music where you enjoying last year?

“Live wise my first obsession last year was Babe. I saw them firstly at GoldFlakePaint’s festival at Glad Cafe and just begged them to play at our single launch. They make a perfect and beautiful noise.

“Bossy Love also. Best live woman in the world. I’m going to say that now before anyone else does. She [Amandah Wilkinson] is incredible. They all are. They are just an incredible band, the atmosphere that they create and how they make other people feel is beautiful.

“And yeah A Mote of Dust is my most recent falling in love with something. The first two tracks of that album made me cry. It’s just perfect perfect beautiful music.

“There’s too many though. I could go on and on about all the people I’m in love with!”

Also on the BAMS list we had music from the likes of Miaoux Miaoux, Sufjan Stevens, Kendrick Lamar, C Duncan, CHVRCHES, Courtney Barnett. An amazing year for music wouldn’t you agree?

“Yeah, I mean Sufjan Stevens record is the most beautiful piece of music ever. For me that is the most beautiful record of last year.”

In regards to the album, when you finished recording it, did it match up to your expectations?

“I don’t think I had any expectations! I remember that moment of Marcus playing back what he’d done, and it just being like yeah ok that’s what I wanted it to sound like. But I still managed to convince myself that it wasn’t that great and then it took me another three years to think yeah maybe someone else would want to hear it.”

Obviously this is the Bloggers and Music Sites Award. How important to the success of the album have blogs and music sites been?

“Oh god, it’s massive. I mean that’s how anyone hears it or reads about it. At the very beginning to get any feedback at all is amazing. And then to realise that’s how other people discover it. And those are the people you want to like it and who matter.

“Weirdly for me, the people who did write about the record in the first place, and who did interview me in the first place, have ended up being some of my very best friends of this year. For me it’s been personally I’m so lucky to know these humans! And you are all amazing. And how much effort you put into listening and caring about it. It would be absolutely pointless if no one was going to listen and care about it.”

Now sadly our award doesn’t come with a £20,000 cheque, but you do get the infamous BAMS Award bottle of Buckfast. I hope you enjoy it, and enjoy 2016!

“Who needs money! No, thank you so much, and thank you to all the beautiful BAMS.”

And once again, my thanks to everyone who got involved in the T(n)VV vote. Let’s do it all again next year!

3 A.M. ETERNAL (ETERNALLY RE-MIXED…)

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Back in 1989, very few folk other than the fans of trance music took much notice of the release of 3 A.M. Eternal by The KLF. And even then, the hardcore trance fans were dismissive of it as being too poppy and gimmicky:-

mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal (pure trance original)

Fast forward two years and the stadium house version went to #1 in the UK and to #5 on the US Billboard Chart:-

mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal (live at the S.S.L – radio edit)

Then in 1992, it became infamous as the song with which The KLF quit the music industry:-

mp3 : The KLF vs Extreme Noise Terror – 3 A.M Eternal

Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty accepted the invitation to appear at the The Brit Awards ceremony in 1992 and to perform their #1 single. They didn’t let on that it would involve a duet with a little known punk band during which Drummond would fire machine-gun blanks over an audience of what was mainly music moguls and pop stars……with the bonus that it went out live at 7pm on BBC Television. It was astonishing to watch from the confines of your living room….if you wait till the end of the clip you’ll see that Billy Bragg was well impressed with the performance.

The CD version of the #1 single also had two other mixes available:-

mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal : Guns of Mu Mu (12″ edit)
mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal : 1989 ‘Break For Love’ Mix

The 7″ vinyl version had a shortened version of one of the above:-

mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal : Guns of Mu Mu

And two more bits of music for pleasure:-

mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal : Moody Boy Mix
mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal : Blue Danube Orbital Mix

Enjoy

 

BONUS POSTING : IN SEARCH OF HARPERFIELD by EMMA POLLOCK

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It’s now almost 11 years since The Delgados called it a day, leaving behind as fine a collection of music – five LPs and sixteen singles – as any band from Scotland has ever achieved.

Of course, the four band members still have a huge influence on music in my home country thanks to the continued existence of Chemikal Underground Records whose releases from a wide array of artists across a range of genres always seems to impress, astound and amaze in equal quantities. Theirs is a label which constantly gets critical acclaim without ever achieving a huge breakthrough in commercial terms….but maybe the release this coming Friday of the third solo album from Emma Pollock, will at long last rectify that.

Such was the impact of  The Delgados  – who it must be remembered were huge favourites of John Peel, recording 13 separate sessions and being the house band at parties held at Peel Acres – that there was always going to be a huge amount of pressure put on the shoulders of the band members when it came to solo material.  Emma tried to start completely afresh by issuing her debut, Watch The Fireworks on 4AD back in 2007 but was back on old stomping ground of Chem for The Law Of Large Numbers in 2010. Both of these LPs, although containing a number of individual highlights, never quite had enough to be thought of as anything but solid pieces of indie pop/rock that you could listen to intermittently.

It is wonderful to report that In Search Of Harperfield is in a different league altogether and is one which any discerning listener will return to time and time and time and time again.  And I will make the bold prediction that it will top a number of end of year lists in eleven months time…

There is so much to enjoy, appreciate and admire – classy guitars, piano and string arrangements abound throughout but more than anything else, Emma’s voice has never sounded better. It’s as if, having hit her mid 40s (how did that happen without her looking any older than when she first burst onto the scene?) she has discovered the range and tempo that she is most comfortable with.

There are many moments within its 45 minute duration when you will find yourself comparing a particular moment or an entire song to something else you have heard and enjoyed before. There are moments on this record that are reminiscent of the best of Kate Bush, Kristin Hersh, Annie Clark or Jenny Lewis and that’s no bad thing in my book.

The LP enjoys a wonderful 1-2 punchy opening – each of Cannot Keep A Secret and Don’t Make Me Wait are tailor-made for coming out of your radio on gloriously warm and sunny days….

Up next are three consecutive tracks where Emma takes the tempo down just a shade and allows the quality of the songwriting and arrangements to grab hold of your senses. And as you listen to the cleverness and loveliness of Alabaster and think that it will be hard to top, along comes the bitter-sweet betrayal number that is Clemency to blow you away before, for this listener at any rate, you will get to hear the high point of the album; Intermission is just Emma and strings.   No guitars, keys or drums. Absolutely stunning. Like a female fronted Tindersticks classic.

And then, in complete contrast, these are followed by probably the most catchy and upbeat track on the album – Parks and Recreation – and it has unsurprisingly been selected as the lead single from the album and I’m guessing will get the second side of the vinyl version of the album off to a great start. And as with side one, it is followed by another upbeat indie pop number in Vacant Stare.

In The Company Of The Damned (which will be tucked away in the middle of side two) is the sole song that initially I can’t get to grips with – probably only in as much that it isn’t as catchy as the great pop tunes that precede it nor does it match the majesty of the closing three songs.

Dark Skies is another string-laden number in which Emma demonstrates she is a very fine singer who, in a parallel universe, will be revered and adored and as rich as the likes of Adele……

The opening notes of Monster In The Pack are unmistakably the work of RM Hubbert as he returns the favour of Emma guesting on Half Light, which was one of the stand out tracks on Thirteen Lost and Found, his award-winning album from 2012. It is every bit as lovely and exquisite as you’d expect.

Emma closes out her album with Old Ghosts.  This is another of the highlights being a song which changes tempo a couple of times, going from ballad to mid and even uptempo. Fans of Dusty Springfield will hear her influence on the vocal as indeed will fans and admirers of Karen Carpenter.  It is also a song that harks back to some of the best material that her old band ever recorded.

This blog doesn’t do stars or marks out of ten ratings – hell, regular readers will know that it rarely does new album reviews.  But if it did, the stars would look this – ***** – and the magic number would be 10/10.

Do yourself a big favour and get a hold of this record  – and do Chemikal Underground an even bigger favour by getting hold of it direct from them! Click here

SOMETIMES MUSICIANS CAN PUT IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE

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From the back of the 12″ single:-

Having stepped from the wreckage of their 1968 Ford Galaxy American police car Rockman Rock and Kingboy D (The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu) found their ice cream van. Heading east up over the Pennine-straddling M62, they pull their ice-cream van onto the hard shoulder. Behind them to the west, they can still make out the sprawling conurbation of Greater Manchester and those surrounding Lancashire towns, proud in their decline.

Further west, somewhere beyond where Liverpool used to be, a dirty sunset sinks into the Irish Sea. To the east the sky is already dark. The Yorkshire towns seeking solace in their Pennine valleys. But up here on this unhealing gash across the backbone of England the immediate landscape is a desolate moorland, with none of the grandeur of the Highlands or the classic English beauty of the Lakes.

Three bedraggled sheep huddle for shelter in a ditch. The drizzle toughens. Then climbs to a solid rain. Heavy goods vehicles plough by. Tacographs on overload. A leaded grime smears the verges. Sodden Silk Cut packets wonder whether they are biodegrading. A crow flies north.

Through the downpour and diesel roar, Rockman Rock and Kingboy D can feel a regular dull thud. Whether this is the eternal echo of a Victorian steam-driven revolution, or the turbo-driven kick of a distant Northern rave is irrelevant.

Thus inspired, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu climb into the back of their ice cream van and work.

mp3 : The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North (Part 1)
mp3 : The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North (Part 2)

Wiki is good for the factual info.

“Part 1 is a 10-minute composition with two distinct segueing sections. The first 7-minute section is a heavy, pounding industrial techno track, over which Drummond gives a roll-call of Northern towns, through a CB microphone. Between verses, Drummond’s processed voice urgently alerts us that “It’s grim up North”. The instrumentation is in minor key and frequently discordant, featuring synthesised sounds reminiscent of passing heavy goods vehicles or train whistles. Although the underlying rhythm holds a 4/4 time signature, several instruments keep 3/16 and 3/4 time throughout the track, including a deep second drum line – the “regular dull thud” – which juxtaposes when the 4/4 instruments and percussion drop out.

The second section is a fully-orchestrated arrangement of Jerusalem, with the sounds of brass, strings, organs, drums and choir. The instrumentation and vocals of the first section gradually diminish to nothing over a period of nearly two minutes. Following the climax of the hymn, howling wind and crow calls are heard to fade out.

Part 2 is a 6-minute reprise of the techno themes from Part 1, without the vocals and orchestra.”

All locations are in the North of England. They are predominantly in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Scarborough is the furthest north in the list and the furthest south is Nantwich. The full list of locations in the lyrics follows:

First verse

Bolton, Barnsley, Nelson, Colne, Burnley, Bradford, Buxton, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes, Wigan, Leeds, Northwich, Nantwich, Knutsford, Hull, Sale, Salford, Southport, Leigh, Kirkby, Kearsley, Keighley, Maghull, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Oldham, Lancs, Grimsby, Glossop, Hebden Bridge.

Second verse

Brighouse, Bootle, Featherstone, Speke, Runcorn, Rotherham, Rochdale, Barrow, Morecambe, Macclesfield, Lytham St. Annes, Clitheroe, Cleethorpes, the M62.

Third verse

Pendlebury, Prestwich, Preston, York, Skipton, Scunthorpe, Scarborough-on-Sea, Chester, Chorley, Cheadle Hulme (could also be interpreted as the equally valid Cheadle, Hulme), Ormskirk, Accrington, Stanley (could also be interpreted as the football club, Accrington Stanley FC), Leigh, Ossett, Otley, Ilkley Moor, Sheffield, Manchester, Castleford, Skem, Doncaster, Dewsbury, Halifax, Bingley, Bramhall.

NB : The shortened version in the video omits the second verse.

So now you’re fully primed for any relevant questions in a pub quiz.

Incidentally, ‘Grim’ was released in October 1991 and while it reached #10 this was a little short of the chart success that had been enjoyed in earlier months by The KLF.

 

SWEET SOUL MUSIC

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2016 has, without any question, been a terrible year so far and events have cast something of a collective black cloud above the heads of the blogging cognoscenti.  The thing is, I don’t think any of those who are being mourned would want us to spend all of our time sitting in our homes recalling musical memories when there are things happening out there in sweaty clubs and venues that are worthy of our attention and which have the ability to make us feel good and happy again.

Last Friday night, I went to a gig where three bands were on the bill in what was (unfairly and very tongue-in-cheek) described on the night as a fleapit of a venue.  None of the bands were exactly brand new – indeed they have been going for a number of years and all have a reasonably faithful if small fanbase – but what they were doing was coming together on one bill on the basis of all having initially begun life in the same town some 15 miles south-east of Glasgow and to support the launch of a 6-track EP, on cassette, with two songs from each band.  They each played for around 45 minutes and with the exception of maybe five or six songs from the middle band whom I had caught live twice before, the music was all new to me.

And I came away firmly believing that it was a gig that will not be surpassed in terms of sheer enjoyment again this year.

The three bands on the bill, in order of appearance, were GUMS!, The Just Joans and The Hector Collectors and they have the town of Motherwell in common (maybe I should mention that Motherwell is the next stop on the train line after Bellshill which, in this previous posting, I mentioned had a good call on being the epicentre of indie-pop in Scotland.  The thing is Motherwell is by far the bigger of the two towns).

The bandcamp page for GUMS! reveals they have been making music since 2012 but all of the band members have been in previous groups that achieved a fair degree of cult status in and around Glasgow over a previous fair few years.  They were a four-piece on the night (although at full strength they have six members) with Martin Smith on acoustic guitar, Jack Taylor on bass, Nora Noonan on drums and Joe Greatorex on bass – with lead vocal duties shared by Martin, Jack and Nora.  They delivered a set which musically reminded me of my teenage love for the sorts of fast and energetic post-punk/new wave pop that came from the likes of Buzzcocks and The Undertones but that lyrically was as amusing and enthralling as the great Aidan Moffat at his most playful and wistful best. It was the perfect start to the evening as their infectious energy and enthusiasm was picked up immediately by the 100 or so strong audience.

It was the presence of The Just Joans that had caused me to go along on the night.  They have, for many years, been a very firm favourite of my dear mate and gig-going companion Aldo and he was dismayed to discover that this gig was to coincide with a long-planned weekend break he was taking in Madrid.  I said that I would go along and make sure I got him a copy of the 6-track EP…oh and I suppose I should confess for the record that, in one of those crazy small world coincidences that occasionally happen, one of the band members works in the same office as me.

They have been around for the best part of a decade and indeed played at the Indietracks festival as far back as 2008.  They have had a number of personnel changes over the years and are currently a six-piece with David Pope on acoustic guitar and vocals, Katie Pope on vocals, Chris Elkin on guitar, Fraser Ford on bass, Doog Cameron on keyboards, and Jason Sweeney on drums, the last-named of who was playing his first gig with the band.  I describe this lot as ‘shindie’ with the first two letters being short for shambling…..but I don’t use the word in any derogatory way.

Every one of them is a talented musician in their own rights and where the GUMS have their musical roots in the late 70s, the JJs are firmly ensconced in the indie sound of the 80s and in particular C86.  David is the main songwriter and his subject matters are very reflective and observant of where he and his bandmates live, play and work.  His unique vocal style and delivery will never get him past the audition stage of any TV talent show – let’s just say you will never mistake him for being from anywhere other than his home town – but it is absolutely perfect for this sort of music. You only need to glance at some of the song titles  – Some Boys Are Bigger Than Others, I Won’t Survive, Hey Boy…You’re Oh So Sensitive, If You Don’t Pull and I Love Me, Who Do You Love? – to realise that gentle, self-deprecating and whimsical humour are at the heart of the Just Joans.  They have garnered a cult following that is well-earned and their set made everyone’s grins all the wider.

Finally, there was The Hector Collectors, a band I knew of only by reputation as having formed initially about 15 years ago only to break-up with band members going on to form other groups before deciding to reform (of sorts) and then in the past few months have become a bit more active with them being the prime driving force in putting on the gig and recording the EP.  Like the others on the bill, they have had band members come and go and in the studio can have as many as seven members; but the four musicians who played last Friday were Adam Smith (vocals), Ian Smith (guitar), Joe Greatorex (bass) and Gavin Dunbar (drums).  They were utterly brilliant from start to finish with a set that came across as a mix of The Fall, Half Man Half Biscuit, BMX Bandits, Arab Strap and well let’s be frank, GUMS! and The Just Joans.

All of which got me thinking.

As I said at the outset, it’s been a lousy start to 2016 in terms of a number of musical icons dying or ending up in a hospital in Ireland very unlikely to recover.  But we really shouldn’t be wallowing in self-pity for those who are no more, albeit it is right that we keep carrying a torch in their memory.  Last Friday demonstrated just how uplifting music can be and how musicians, singers and bands have an uncanny ability to surprise, delight, enthrall and above all else entertain.  No matter where you live – New York, London, Paris or Munich;  Seattle, Sydney, Singapore, Stockholm or Stenhousemuir;  Tampa, Tasmania, Tallin, Tupelo or Torquay;  just get yourself out there and be part of an audience.  You won’t regret it (unless you happen to be catching Nickelback)

I won’t post any of the songs from the new EP (my cassette is #14/100) as they are available to purchase from here.

Instead here’s some stuff from the back catalogues:-

mp3 : GUMS! – The Willow Cafe
mp3 : The Just Joans – If You Don’t Pull
mp3 : The Hector Collectors – Opposites

Enjoy.

THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (3)

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Disc 3 is Remote Control.

The debut album had been released in the UK on 8 April 1977 to great critical acclaim. Some five weeks later, CBS Records decided a cash-in opportunity was there for the taking and totally against the band’s wishes shoved out Remote Control as the second official 45.

While it had been highlighted by many as among the more accessible on the debut LP its release on seven-inch form led to it being disowned by The Clash with immediate effect.

It’s a song written by Mick Jones (but as ever attributed to the Strummer/Jones partnership) as a response to the frustrations on being caught up in all the hoo-ha around the cancellation of so much of the Sex Pistols Anarchy tour which left The Clash kicking their heels when they were desperate to get out on stage and show just what they were capable of and to win the unofficial title of best punk band in the country.

mp3 : The Clash – Remote Control

The b-side was a live mono version, recorded in Dunstable (I’m guessing at a soundcheck), of another song on the debut album

mp3 : The Clash – London’s Burning

It’s much rawer compared to the LP version and well worthy of your attention.

REMOTE CONTROL : Released 13 May 1977 : Did not chart

This was the first Clash single I bought and looking down this long list I realise that their first and last were the only ones I missed. I got it on the way home from school, green blazer, metallic purple drop-handled racing bike chained to the drainpipe and into the basement of Altrincham’s second-best record shop. All the new single sleeves used to be pinned up on the wall and those three geezers with their shit stoppers and armbands were irresistible to a boy buying all the punk he could afford in the wake of The Bill Grundy Show.

Employment, repression and the state of London town weren’t top priorities in my life but combined with civic halls, daleks, big business and the House of Lords, they were lyrical reference points that wiped the floor with The Beach Boys, my previous obsession and what’s more they sounded like they meant it, man.

Mick played a Gibson, Mick played solos, Mick was the one I listened to, the one who taught me how to play. No Clash – No Roses. The b-side wasn’t bad either, and a taste of what was to come; my first-ever gig, my epiphany, a searing, blinding, ear-splitting glimpse of the future – Manchester Apollo, October 29 1977. Ignore alien orders.

John Squire, Stone Roses guitarist and artist

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (28)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 16 APRIL 2008

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I’m no connoisseur of art and paintings. I’ll see something hanging on a wall and decide pretty quickly whether I like it or not. There will even be times when one work by an artist will appeal, while another of their paintings will appal.

One thing I can’t do however, is really explain why that happens to be the case. I’m not able to dissect a work or art, nor can I really look beyond the immediate visual images that meet the naked eye for something that is more deep and meaningful. And sometimes this happens in music.

I chanced upon a brilliant piece of writing on the LP Songs To Remember by Scritti Politti. It highlights how the record, which on first listen appears to be a hotchpotch of soul, jazz, R&B and pop at its purest, is actually a very clever and subversive piece of work full of political sentiments that almost border on the anarchic.

Now I’m not saying I was never aware of the fact that Green Gartside had a strong and almost extreme left-wing ideology, but I kind of let it drift away on the wind whenever I played what has long been one of my favourite LPs of all time. There’s a lot to admire in the essay – for instance, I’d never have cottoned-on to the fact that the sleeves of the singles were a parody of the finer things in life such as cigars and Courvoisier. I also love the analysis that this was a record full of innovative acts of homage thanks to Green’s style and approach, but the use of soul would later be stolen by ‘the hideous mid-Eighties Live Aid Brigade with their own agenda’, with many of them believing ‘big hair and big volume equals soulfulness’ .

This is all very well and true, but I just can’t help but proclaim my love of the songs is all down to finding something classy sounding in among all the guitar-dominated songs that I was immersed in at the age of 18, which for some reason was of immediate appeal to my ear. Especially this:-

mp3 : Scritti Politti – Faithless (Triple Hep’n’Blue)

I loved the vocals, both lead and backing, and I loved the instrumentation and arrangement. I could never have said back in 1981, nor indeed now in 2008 that what made it so special was:-

“Proceeding at the sombre pace of a New Orleans funeral march, heavily lacquered in gospel shrieking, it is, as the title suggests, implicitly about the modern, probably white soulboy and lover addicted to the linguistic constructs of soul, the “oohs”, the “testifies”, the “I got souls” but who is disconnected from them in his contemporary, agnostic time and place – “Faithless”, indeed.”

That’s how it’s described by David Stubbs, author of the piece I was mentioning earlier. Read it in full right here.

Scritti Politti went on to be a chart success on both sides of the Atlantic a few years later when they left the Rough Trade label and signed for Virgin Records. But these later works of art, while pleasant enough in their own right, never appealed as much as the songs to remember from 1981.

 

THE LARGELY FORGOTTEN FOLLOW-UP

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I reckon that just about everyone who is from my generation will be very familiar with the song Pop Muzik, which was an absolutely massive hit for M in in the summer of 1979. It reached #1 in at least ten countries and went Top 10 just about everywhere else. It sold 1 million copies in the USA alone.

But I wonder how many remember the follow-up, which totally flopped in the States and only reached a very moderate #33 in the UK:-

mp3 : M – Moonlight and Muzak (12 inch version)

It’s another early version of synthpop, and if you have a listen to the first 45 seconds of intro you’ll find it to be very reminiscent of the sort of tunes that would bring The Human League huge success a few years later. And with the vocal delivery from Robin Scott not being far removed from many of guitar-led new wave songs that were so prevalent in 1979, a case can be made for Moonlight and Muzak being one of the cleverest pop songs of 1979 in what was a tremendous year for music.

Albeit, I’m willing to admit that the 12″ version, of which a copy still sits in the cupboard more than 36 years later, has perhaps been stretched out by two minutes longer than necessary.

Here’s a bonus cover of the big hit from a very surprising source:-

mp3 : Tricky – Pop Muzik

b-side to his 1999 single For Real

Enjoy.

BONUS POSTING : FOR DAVID MARTIN

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I did ask yesterday if anyone wanted to hear the various b-sides to the singles by Mull Historical Society. David said he would.

mp3 : Mull Historical Society – Some You Win, Some You Lose (b-side of I Tried)
mp3 : Mull Historical Society – Naked Ambition at the E.P.A. (fron CD2 of Watching Xanadu)
mp3 : Mull Historical Society – Sad Old Day To Be Found (from CD2 of Watching Xanadu)
mp3 : Mull Historical Society – The Final Arrears (single version)
mp3 : Mull Historical Society – Stay Something (from CD1 of The Final Arrears)
mp3 : Mull Historical Society – Citizen Fame (from CD1 of The Final Arrears)

Enjoy. Some of these are rather good.