NOBODY DOES IT BETTER….

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…..than David Gedge when it comes to penning stuff about relationships.

Whether its been with The Wedding Present or Cinerama or The Wedding Present once again, David has written and recorded umpteen (that’s a word I like to use when I don’t know the precise number) songs of quality and distinction about meeting someone, falling for someone, being with someone, wanting someone who is unattainable, and most of all…..how you feel about someone after the love has gone.

He’s written songs from all sorts of perspectives – as someone who is angry, hurt, sad, bemused and even relieved that a relationship has run its course.

But mostly its songs by someone with a broken heart.

Now I daren’t think that all of the songs are autobiographical – if they are, his heart must be in billions of pieces by now. The most amazing thing is that the accompanying tunes never fall into the category of maudlin or dirge-like.

I’ve a mate who once said, “You know, The Wedding Present have only one tune…..but it’s a fucking cracking one at that”

My mate of course had her tongue firmly in her cheek, for there is no argument that David Gedge has proven himself as one of the UK’s best ever word AND tunesmiths.

Here’s one of my favourite examples:-

I heard another voice this morning on the ‘phone
But just the other day I thought you said you slept alone

And yes I knew that laughter, okay, now I see
You wouldn’t even know him if it hadn’t been for me

Sometimes in the fading light
I can’t help thinking back to, well, the way we were

Then I start feeling guilty lying next to her
I know, and it can’t be right

Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away
Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away

If you write again perhaps you shouldn’t send it here
It’s just that I don’t really want your letters to appear

Oh no, I just think she might
Forget I ever said that I’m just being scared

I told her all about you and I don’t think she even cared
I know but it’s not alright

Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away
Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away

And does the thought of leaving him brings you to tears?
I bet you never felt the same about me all those years

Well you know, just what it’s like

Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away
Pretending that it’s you.
You still won’t go away

And then there’s the unnerving and unsettling music that never quite finds a steady rhythm or beat thanks to its constant change in volume and tempo.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Lovenest

And while I’m here, I may as well let you have a listen to the other three songs which are on the 12” version of this single:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Mothers
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Dan Dare
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Fleshworld

As with just about every single the band released around that period in time, there was an unusual choice of song for a cover version. In this case it was Mothers which was originally by Jean Paul Sartre Experience, a rather obscure (to most folk) new wave band from New Zealand.

Enjoy.

IN PRAISE OF URUSEI YATSURA

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I like to think that most of the bands/singers featured on this blog are reasonably well known, as that saves me giving a detailed explanation of who they are (or were, in the event there’s been a break-up). As for today’s lot – well I’m sure the name at least might be familiar to many UK (and Japanese) readers, but less so to my friends across on the other side of the Atlantic. So here’s a little bio of Uruesi Yatsura.

It was back in 1994 that Fergus Lawrie, Graham Kemp, Ian Graham and Elaine Graham decided to form a band. They named it after a hugely popular Japanese comic book – one that has been given its own TV series and video game. The translation from Japanese into English seemingly is not straightforward….the band prefer it to mean ‘Noisy Stars’, but you have to admit that Urusei Yatsura is a far cooler name than Noisy Stars.

Anyway, the band started gigging at loads of small Glasgow venues and quickly gained a reputation for churning out loud guitar-driven short bursts of pop that had more than a hint of Sonic Youth about them.

Like so many others, their fame increased thanks to the support and patronage of John Peel, and following the inevitable session, they grabbed themselves a record deal with indie label Che Records. Between 1995 and 1998, they released eight singles and two albums before Che Records folded after an unfortunate tie-up with Warners went sour.

The fact that Che Records had gone under led to the band disappearing from view for the best part of two years, and it was very late on in 1999 before an EP came out on the Beggars Banquet label, and then in 2000, it was announced the band was setting up its own label in the shape of Oni Records. Two singles and one LP was all that emerged over the next 18 months before they called it a day.

As careers go, it was pretty reasonable. Over the course of 7 years, there were three LPs, the best part of a dozen 45s/EPs and a handful of other releases on compilation LPs as well as a one-off 45 with one Urusei Yatsura track b/w a track by The Delgados. They toured extensively, either as headliners or as main support to the likes of Garbage and Super Furry Animals.

In terms of commercial success, just the one single cracked the charts – it hit #40 for one week in February 1998.

But these words and stats don’t do real justice to Urusei Yatsura. They were largely an out and out pop band with a sound that was influenced by so many others but yet somehow seemed distinctive. I’ve already mentioned Sonic Youth in terms of the guitars….but there was also a hint of Pavement in respect of weird lyrics…there was glam-rock as evidenced by the Glitter Band style chants….there was the buzz and feedback of the Jesus & Mary Chain…..and still they could sound as melodic and delightful as Teenage Fanclub. And at a time when Glasgow was being dominated by the whimsy of the likes of Belle and Sebastian, it was great to have your ears occasionally assaulted…
Having given them such a great build-up, I hope you do find these tracks to your satisfaction:-

mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Uruesi Yatsura – Kewpies Like Watermelons
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Phasers On Stun
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Strategic Hamlets

If you like what you hear, you can probably track down the back catalogue on e-bay. I particularly recommend the 1998 LP, Slain by Urusei Yatsura.

Enjoy.

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (17)

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One month after the release of Confessions Of A Pop Group, a second single was lifted from it. It was in fact a four-track EP, with the songs made available in 7″,12″ and CD format, albeit the versions on each of them were identical.

It was known as the 1234 EP and consisted of a rather forgettable track from the new album, an even more forgettable* piece of latino jazz for a new b-side, a just about bearable remix of what many were now fondly recalling as being the career highlight and a Mick Talbot instrumental which on the record is attributed to an imaginary group called The Mixed Companions. It’s saying a lot about the quality of the EP that the instrumental is the highlight….always thought it would make a great theme tune for some sort of daytime telly show….

mp3 : The Style Council – How She Threw It All Away
mp3 : The Style Council – Love The First Time
mp3 : The Style Council – Long Hot Summer (Tom Mix)
mp3 : The Style Council – I Do Like To Be B-Side The A-Side

It didn’t bother the higher echelons of the charts, hitting #41. And that, for many people, was expected to be the end of The Style Council.

Dee C Lee had just had a baby and there was no prospect of them touring. The record label were far from happy having been delivered two sub-par and poor selling LPs in a row. The media were totally against Paul Weller with the word pretentious now being applied more and more.  Indeed in late 1988 there were press reports that the band had broken up but these were vehemently denied.  But that wasn’t quite the case and the two singles from 1989 will wrap up the series in one sitting next week..

*personal opinion!!  There are many fine people with excellent taste in music who swear by this particular period in the history of TSC….

JOHN LYDON’S EARLIER DANCE COLLABORATION

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Prompted by the Leftfield/Lydon appearance in the 45 45s at 45 re-cap……

Afrika Bambaataa was one of the pioneers of hip hop, coming to prominence in the late 70s as one of the new breed of young black DJs that were being acknowledged as doing things to music that were every bit as evolutionary and revolutionary as the white boys and girls had with the onset of punk and new wave.

The underground nature of hip hop began to go mainstream in the early 80s and Bambaataa was one of the first to land a recording deal but having experienced little success outwith hip-hop/dance fans he began to look for ways to have his music crossover into other genres. And thus Timezone was formed in 1983 with the idea that Bambaataa would work with different musicians on a one-off basis.

The first Timezone single was with a group of German musicians called Wunderwerke to which Rusty Egan (ex-Skids and Visage) also contributed. The following year, Bambaataa got together with Bill Laswell who some have made a strong case for being the best ever and most versatile bass player, and between them they approached John Lydon to add a vocal to the next single. It was a quick in-and-out of the studio effort with Lydon reporting later he had taken a little over four hours to record his part.

World Destruction was the nearest Timezone ever got to success, reaching #44 in the UK singles charts in early 1985. I bought a copy of the 12″ on the back of the video being aired on The Tube on Channel 4, attracted in part to its catchy tune but also by its strident anti-war message. It really is quite hard to imagine now, how a little over 30 years ago, we were on edge that one or more of our political leaders would press the nuclear button.

OK, the production values have dated the tune somewhat, but this is a hugely important record as it was one of the first to fuse hip-hop with electro and rock elements and pave the way for acts like the Beastie Boys to find fame and fortune.

There were two versions of the single made available on the 12″. The largely instrumental alt version at the time felt truly ground-breaking with its use of spoken word samples.

mp3 : Timezone – World Destruction
mp3 : Timezone – World Destruction (alt version)

Enjoy

THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (12)

The+Clash+The+Call+Up+165860Disc 12 is The Call Up.

It was just a three-month wait for the next single.  But for many people it was the first hint of the band being a disappointment.  It’s not that The Call Up is a bad single, but it just felt, when set against the run of 45s in recent times, to be a tad less than essential. It also fell back to the sort of chart positions that the earlier singles, barely scraping into the Top 40. It was only years later that we’d recognise it as a partial template for the sound of Big Audio Dynamite

It’s clearly an anti-war song, or more precisely, an anti-Army/military service song urging those 18-25 year olds who were, thanks to a new bill passing through the US Congress, facing a requirement to register themselves under a system where circumstances could lead to them having to carry out service in ‘defence’ of their country.  The sentiments were very noble given it was only a decade after Vietnam where, as a later hit song would remind us, the average age of a casualty had been 19.

The b-side was another song with an anti-war message, highlighting the fear of a nuclear holocaust….a situation that was growing ever more likely with the impending elevation of Ronald Reagan to the presidency.

Both sides also indicated how America and its way of life was becoming more interesting as subject matters in terms of songwriting to Joe Strummer and Mick Jones.  Things had really moved on from the London-centric debut LP just three years earlier where it was deemed acceptable to be bored with the USA.  Some journalists actually used that as a stick with which to metaphorically beat the band around the head with. Again.

mp3 : The Clash – The Call Up
mp3 : The Clash – Stop The World

It was originally released only in the UK on 7″ vinyl, but the following year  a cracking instrumental remix of the song was made available on a 12″ single released in the USA, and given that the author of the accompanying essay in the box set makes reference to that (and to a later single in this series), it makes sense to feature it here:-

mp3 : The Clash – The Cool Out

THE CALL UP  : Released 21 November 1980 : #40 in the UK singles chart

‘The Cool Out’ is a mix of ‘The Call Up’ and is really important because they show the versatility The Clash went for in terms of incorporating different kinds of music. The thing about The Clash that stood out is they were massive fans of music themselves, they were always looking for what was happening, what was coming up from the street. They took what was new and hadn’t broken through, mixed it with something accessible and made it The Clash.

They changed music completely by showing they can take a band with bass and guitars and drums to a whole new place.  You can take Chic or rap or whatever and mix it.  They were probably hanging out in clubs and discos in New York at the time. Those mixes still influence a lot of bands now. It took the fear away of gay disco music, back then I guess you were either a rock’n’roll band or disco was for women.  Most bands would have feared this type of music but not The Clash.

My all-time favourite single by The Clash was ‘Rock The Casbah’ because I was convinced they were singing “Sharleen don’t like it”.  Later, I used to book into hotels as Janie Jones until someone rumbled me.

Sharleen Spiteri, Texas

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (19)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 29 APRIL 2008

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I could look to re-write history and say that Sex Pistols were the band that opened up my eyes and ears and changed me forever.

But in all honesty, I was really too young at 13 to get a grip on what was happening in 1976 and 1977. And besides, I was still more interested in playing football in those years than I was in listening to music. You can also factor in that it wasn’t until 1978 when I got a paper-round that I was able to have enough money to properly indulge in buying records rather them home-taping them straight from the radio onto my portable cassette player. And I had no guilt that all the inner-sleeves of LPs at that time came with the warning ‘Home Taping Is Killing Music’, complete with its logo of a skull and crossbones superimposed over a cassette tape.

So, although I soon grew to love the Pistols, I wasn’t in the vanguard of punk, and I can’t legitimately put any of their singles into this chart on the rules I set out for myself in terms of buying the song as and when it first came out.

And PiL were an act that were close to being included but in the end could only come in somewhere in the 50s.

But you can’t keep a good man down for too long, and so John Lydon makes his appearance at #19 with what I think is among the greatest dance records ever made.

You will have gathered by now that I’m no expert on dance music – I leave that to friends like ctelblog who has the most incredible blog over at Acid Ted.

And I’m not going to kid on that the song made me go out and buy all sorts of similar stuff – dance music remains something that I will dip in and out of rather than spend lots of time on.

I didn’t know too much about Leftfield until this 1993 collaboration but my love for this single led me to buying their CD of the time and discovering to my great delight that it also contained a collaboration with the great and hugely underrated Toni Halliday of Curve.

The CD confirmed a number of my prejudices about the dance genre – while some of the stuff was among the personal highlights of 1993, there was just too much that I failed to get, and so it became a CD that was ideal for the skip function.

I don’t think Lydon has ever delivered a better vocal in his life. I know that when he was a young punk 17 years earlier he did insist his musical influences were hugely varied from prog-rock to reggae and all parts in-between, but I don’t think any of us could ever have imagined him doing something quite like this:-

mp3 : Leftfield/Lydon – Open Up (vocal edit)

Can anyone really listen to this and resist the urge to jump around like a mentalist?

Now this is the one time on the chart that I’m going to cheat a little. Instead of offering up the other tracks from the single (which are basically just remixes)*, I’m posting the track with Toni Halliday that I mentioned a few paras back. It’s a song that if it hadn’t been for Lydon would have been a contender for my chart:-

mp3 : Leftfield (featuring Toni Halliday) – Original

Oh well, back to the more predictable stuff for the remainder of the rundown.

*subsequently posted on the blog and available here.

AS OWNED ON VINYL, CD AND CASSETTE

technique_posterThere is someone I know who thinks New Order should have disbanded in around 1985 as the music they have made since then has betrayed everything that Joy Division stood for.  Despite holding such strident and unacceptable views, he remains a dear friend…and besides it gives us one more thing to fight over when we are drunk.

Me?  I’ve never hidden from the view that it took until 1989 for their masterpiece to emerge….and while there has been the occasional nugget of gold since then, I’d have been happy if this had been their last ever record.

It’s worth recalling that the release of Brotherhood in 1986 had disappointed many fans. It was, in the main, a lacklustre affair and indeed was shown up as such when the compilation LP Substance was issued the following year. The one hope was that the Greatest Hits package featured two amazing new songs – True Faith and 1963, the former a wonderful dance track driven largely by Steve & Hooky and the latter a gorgeous pop number with Barney at last penning lyrics which made sense and had a semblance of a story line.

But post-Substance, the band seemingly disappeared off the radar and some folk (including your humble scribe) thought we’d seen the last of them.

In the days before t’internet, you had to rely on the music papers for news/info on your favourite bands. One week, I read a snippet that New Order had gone to Ibiza to record a new LP. Months passed. Nothing. More months passed. Still nothing. and I assumed that somehow I had missed the news that the band had broken up.

Then, out of the blue in late 1988, a single was released. It was called Fine Time and it was really quite different from anything else they had ever previously released being, for the most part an instrumental, and which was very clearly aimed at the dance market. And I loved it.

The album kind of sneaked out in January 1989. Little did we know that the low-key release was down to Factory Records lack of cash to give it the usual big marketing/advertising push. It came out when Britain is at its most cold, miserable and wet. But this album made you forget all that.

It was everything that fulfilled the promise of True Faith/1963. There were immense dance numbers, there were songs of love, joy and happiness, and there were songs about having your heart broken into many pieces. Every song could have been a single. No that’s not true. Every song could have been a #1 single.

Thankfully, the album did sell in reasonable quantities, but not enough to arrest Factory’s eventual decline into receivership/administration. It did however lead to New Order being asked to take the sound of Technique into the football world when they penned the England Squad’s 1990 World Cup Anthem, World In Motion, which finally gave the band the #1 hit they had been chasing for a few years.

Here’s three of the lesser known songs from the album:-

mp3 : New Order – Love Less
mp3 : New Order – Mr Disco
mp3 : New Order – Vanishing Point

Enjoy.

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (16)

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This is part of my ‘lost’ period when it comes to The Style Council.  As mentioned in the last posting, I hadn’t bought Wanted at the time of release and nor did I seek out any of the three EPs that came out in late 1987/early 1988:-

EP1 : Cafe Bleu : Headstart For Happiness; Here’s One That Got Away; Blue Café; Strength Of Your Nature

EP2 : The Birds and The Bees : Piccadilly Trail; It Just Came To Pieces In My Hands; Spin’ Drifting; Spring, Summer, Autumn

EP3 : Mick Talbot Is Agent 88 : Mick’s Up; Party Chambers; Mick’s Blessings; Mick’s Company

In May 1988, a new single was released, followed by the fourth studio LP the following month. I will be honest and say that up until a couple of years back, I had never heard Life At A Top People’s Health Farm as I’ve never been tempted to own a copy of the parent album, Confessions Of A Pop Group. The reviews were savage and this time I decided, having been bitten once by the contents of The Cost Of Loving, it was a case of twice shy. I’ve now got a 7″ copy, courtesy of a charity shop, and given I paid 25p for it I can’t grumble about there being a slight jump near the end, nor the fact that it is rather nondescript:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Life At A Top People’s Health Farm
mp3 : The Style Council – Sweet Loving Ways

The b-side is decent enough as a b-side but only for the jazzy guitar sound that was used to great effect on the debut album as the vocal delivery/arrangement is just soppy and clichéd.

It reached #28 in the charts which is evidence that I wasn’t alone in being a long-time fan who’d fallen out of love in a big way. The picture used on the sleeve however, would indicate that neither Paul or Mick really cared about any of that.

Enjoy.

AS PROMISED…..A LOOK AT HIS NEW VIDEO (A BONUS POSTING)

This new single isn’t all that typical of Adam Stafford, but it does show he can turn his hand to catchy pop tunes (but then again, he was great at that in the days when he was part of Scottish indie/folk band Y’All Is Fantasy Island).

Here’s what one astute reviewer has said about the new video:-

Adam Stafford is a real voice of independence.

A songwriter moving to his own, very unique, set of rules, he recently unveiled new album ‘Taser Revelations’.

Out now on Song, By Toad, it’s a wonderful record, one rich in allusion and autobiographical detail.

Album highlight ‘Phantom Billions’ has now received the visual treatment, and it veers between dreamscapes and evocative dance routines.

Check it out now.

Enjoy.

ODDS & SODS

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Most of the time I do try to link in a featured song with a b-side, other songs by the same singer/band, a cover version or something vaguely linked to the era or song matter. But then there’s some songs that just can’t be handled that way and so I’ve decided to have an occasional feature that allows me to squeeze in songs of distinction and quality which would otherwise not get a chance to be listened to:-

mp3 : D.A.F. – Der Mussolini

D.A.F. is short for Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, a Dusseldorf based band who were originally with us at the tail end of the 70s and into the early 80s. I only have one of their songs, and it was downloaded from elsewhere, but it was one that I danced to a fair bit back in the student days. Don’t worry folks, it’s not a track praising the merit of the old fascist – indeed it is merely encouraging Benny boy to shake his ass with his dancing partners Adolf and Jesus. If it wasn’t for the pounding electro-beat, it’d be as camp as can be.

mp3 : Shriekback – Fish Below The Ice

Shriekback formed in 1981, initially as a trio of Barry Andrews (ex-XTC), Dave Allen (ex-Gang Of Four) and Carl Marsh. They have been an and on off project ever since, with Andrews being the only consistent member of the band. They occasionally threatened to break through in the early 80s, none more so than when the LP Oil and Gold was released in 1985; the main problem though was that the strongest songs, included that featured here, had Marsh on vocals even though he had quit Shriekback midway through the recording of the album, thus making promotional duties a tad difficult.

mp3 : Ladytron – Seventeen

Ladytron, formed in 1999, seem to still to be going strong although it’s now getting on for five years since they released what was their fifth studio LP. They were the brainchild of two Liverpool producers and DJs – Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu – but were soon joined by two female musicians, the Scottish-born Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo from Bulgaria. They were championed by a fair few in the media, particularly the music correspondents aross a number of UK broadsheet newspapers who almost collectively predicted big things, but they never quite got beyond cult status despite making a number of more than decent singles and albums. The song featured here is a single from 2002 for which big things were anticipated but it stalled at #68.

mp3 : Psychic TV – Godstar

There’s a lot that can be written about Pyschic TV, and no doubt somebody has elsewhere. There’s a very lengthy wiki piece that I’ll refer you to. I’m not qualified to offer any opinion at all, as all I have is one mp3 that originally came courtesy of its inclusion on a cassette for me by Jacques the Kipper. It’s a song about the late Brian Jones.

mp3 : Strange Idols – She’s Gonna Let You Down

Named after an album released by Felt back in 1984, this five-piece London band seem to wear their 80s indie-op influences very much on their sleeves if this track from 2007, which I have courtesy of a compilation CD, is anything to go by. It has a wonderfully hypnotic guitar, lots of ba-ba-ba vocals from what sounds like a dreamy female lead vocalist all underpinned by a DIY production that really does hark back to an earlier period. I think my mate Aldo will love this…….

As ever, if anyone can fill in the gaps or has anything to say about the songs, then fire in via the comments section.

THE 1,000th POSTING : THE PARK LANE ARCHIVES

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Noteworthy day.  Big thanks to everyone who has helped me get to this landmark.  Too many to mention by name, but I’m including guest contributors, those who have left behind comments and/or dropped me an email, and indeed anyone who has dropped by over the previous 999 posts and had a read.  Oh and the reason why there’s been a rash of bonus postings was to hit the landmark in advance of the Easter holidays…..

Park Lane Archives is a compilation CD that was released back in 2009.  It consists of songs, mostly in demo or unreleased form, recorded at Park Lane Studios which are located on the south side of Glasgow.  The CD comes with a 16-page booklet in which a number of the musicians explain why the studios, which from the outside really look nothing special, were an essential element in helping to create a music scene in and around the 80s and 90s.  There’s also wonderful contributions from those who worked at the studios, whether on the management side or as part of the incredibly gifted recording/engineering staff.

One of the contributors makes the very accurate statement that the studios were at the centre of the affluent Scottish music scene of the 80s and furthermore, the bands, even when they gained fame and fortune, liked to remain loyal to Park Lane.  One of the musicians believed this is down to it being a long room with a high ceiling that was odd-looking (it was a converted 19th century stable block) but captured a magical sound. The major labels regarded the studios very highly and were happy to have some big names head to Glasgow to work.  And it wasn’t just local or Scottish bands who used them, with the likes of INXS, The Fugees, Martin Stephenson & The Daintees and the Pet Shop Boys all popping by at one time or another.

The CD has 22 tracks, and here they are together with the liner notes –

mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Breaking Point (demo version)

Bourgie Bourgie were tipped as the next big thing. The band had evolved from The Jazzateers, and later, evolved into Nectarine No.9.  Singer Paul Quinn also recorded with Vince Clarke and Edwyn Collins and was a regular fixture of Postcard Records.  Guitarist Mick Slaven has also played with Del Amitri and Ricky Ross. Park Lane in-house producer Kenny ‘Mac’ McDonald was also their drummer. This is the demo version of the single later produced by Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie, which narrowly missed the Top 40, beginning their dissolution.

mp3 : The Bluebells – Young At Heart (demo version)

The Bluebells famously scored a number one hit with this song, originally composed by Bobby Bluebell and Siobhan Fahey.  Interestingly, here’s the original demo, mixed by Rab Andrew in April 1983.  The final master added Valentino’s violin, who successfully sued for a songwriting credit after it fot used for a TV advert. The band also featured the McCluskey Brothers and Aztec Camera and Smiths guitarist Craig Gannon. They played a reunion gig supporting Edwyn Collins in Glasgow in 2009.

mp3 : Texas – I Don’t Want A Lover (demo version)

Here’s the demo version of the very first song written and recorded together by (Altered Images and Hipsway mainstay) Johnny McElhone and 18-year old Sharleen Spiteri. It also features Craig Armstrong on keyboards. It was later their debut and breakthrough hit single. After many successful albums they’ve taken a break; currently Sharleen is promoting her new solo album

mp3 : Del Amitri – Hammer and Peach

Led by Glaswegian troubadour Justin Currie, they attracted name producers Hugh Jones, Mark Freegard and Gil Norton to record albums at Park Lane. Del Amitri achieved numerous UK top twenty singles as well as a USA Top 10 hit. This track is an unreleased demo recorded circa 1987-ish. The song got overlooked for new material when they got to record their breakthrough ‘Waking Hours’ album.  Most recently, Justin has been working solo.

mp3 : Primal Scream – Velocity Girl (alt mix)

This was Primal Scream’s raw beginning; an outtake mix from their second single, just after Bobby Gillespie left The Jesus and Mary Chain, produced by the late Bobby Paterson. Originally a b-side to ‘Crystal Crescent’ after gaining exposure on the C86 cassette it was voted no.4 in John Peel’s 1986 festive 50. They’ve sold ten million albums since then.

mp3 : Altered Images – Now That You’re Here (outtake)

Championed in their early days by Siouxsie & The Banshees and John Peel, their commercial success came in 1981 with two ‘Happy’ top 10 singles. They broke up after 3 albums. Clare Grogan went solo and became an actress, along the ay marrying band-member and producer Steve Lironi; Johnny McElhone went on to first form Hipsway and then Texas. This is an outtake version of the song.

mp3 : Jazzateers – Sixteen Reasons

The Jazzateers were formed by guitarist Ian Burgoyne and bassist Keith Band. Paul Quinn became their singer, and was then replaced by Grahame ‘Skin’ Skinner who later left to form Hipsway. Quinn rejoined as they became Bourgoie Bourgie, who were filmed for ‘The Switch’ TV show performing this track. This recording is from their 1983 Routh Trade album, with Skinner on lead vocals.

mp3 : Hipsway – Broken Years (demo)

Hipsway memorably attained the Top 20 of both the UK and US singles charts. Formed in 1984 by Jazzateers vocalist Grahame Skinner, Altered Images’ Johnny McElhone and Harry Travers.  Skinner later formed a band with members of Love & Money; Johnny went on to found Texas. This recording from January 1984 is the original demo of their debut single and features Love & Money front man James Grant on lead guitar, before they discovered Pim.

mp3 : Love & Money – Candybar Express

Love & Money released four albums over a seven-year period. Singer James Grant continues as a solo artist. Bobby Paterson, who was involved in early Primal Scream and later formed ‘Poems’ with Bobby Bluebell, died in 2006. Drummer Stuart Kerr was later to join Texas. Paul McGeechan remained ensconced in Park Lane Studio, running it through to 2009.  This is the 7@ mix of their 1986 debut single.

mp3 : Deacon Blue – Ribbons and Bows (demo)

Led by Ricky Ross from Dundee, Deacon Blue went on to have great success, regularly topping the UK album charts. They split for a while in the 1990’s, but are now back together again, as well as Ricky recording and performing with Lorraine McIntosh as McIntosh Ross. This track is a demo of a song that only ever appeared as an extra track on the 1987, first 12″ version of the much re-issued ‘Dignity’, their debut single release.

mp3 : Kevin McDermott Orchestra – Wheels Of Wonder (demo)

Kevin continues to release albums 25 years into his career, with or without his ‘Orchestra’, which includes drummer brother Jim who’s played with Simple Minds and numerous others. Kevin and Jim are also rumoured to be part of ‘The Uncle Devil Show’ alongside Justin Currie. This is the demo that resulted in the deal with Island Records for the ‘Mother Nature’s Kitchen’ album in 1989. Island later introduced The Pretenders Robbie McIntosh to produce and play; he in turn introduced later guitarist Marco

mp3 : Gun – Better Days (demo)

Based around brothers Giuliano and Dante Gizzi and vocalist Mark Rankin, cousin of Sharleen Soiteri, who contributed backing vocals to several songs on their debut album.  They came back to Park Lane to record their album, and then went on to your with Simple Minds and the Rolling Stones amongst others.  This is the original demo of their debut single. They became active again in 2008 with European tours underway.

mp3 : Slide – Life Of Our Own

Slide were a 4-piece rock band fronted by Grant Richards’ soulful vocals, who released singles and an album on Polygram in 1990, and toured with Black Crowes, Texas and Gun as well as in their own right. This is an unreleased track destined for their second album which wasn’t to be.  Drummer Richard Hynd joined Texas, Scott Fraser toured with Deacon Blue and works with Craig Armstrong on a project called Winona and soundtrack work.  Kenny Paterson continued at Park Lane, sowing the seeds for this album.

mp3 : Kissing Bandits – The Only Thing That Keeps Me Alive

This band led by Ronnie Costley remained very underground, despite releasing two 7″ singles ‘In Another Time’ and the Flamin Groovies ‘Shake Some Action’, plus a mini-album ‘The Sun Brothers’ on the French New Rose label.  Featured the multi-award winning ‘Moulin Rouge’ composer Craig Armstrong on keyboards. This track is from the ‘Caveman’ single, taken from ‘The Sun Brothers’. Ronnie now croons in Ireland and has a country album ‘Dancing To Johnny’ out in Nashville.

mp3 : The Petted Lips – Somebody

An unsigned band featuring Park Lane studio manager Fiona Palmer together with John Palmer who played with Deacon Blue, amongst others. Fiona’s brother Graeme Duffin is a member of Wet Wet Wet, who provided the studio with their first number single – their Childline benefit song ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ came out of Park Lane.

mp3 : Rutkowski Sisters – Riverman

Dee and Louise began as backing singers in Bourgie Bourgie, then shared vocals with Paul Quinn in the early Jazzateers lineup. They formed Sunset Gun with Ross Campbell, releasing an album on CBS. They then became best known for their participation in ‘This Mortal Coil’, featuring heavily on ‘Filigree and Shadow’ and ‘Blood’ as well as Louise on the follow-up The Hope Blister. Dierdre later worked with Eyeless In Gaza; Louise formed The Kindness Of Strangers with Craig Armstrong and both sisters remain active. This lovely rendition of Nick Drake’s classic recorded in 1985 remained unreleased until now.

mp3 : Painted Word – Independence Day

Led by Alan McCusker-Thompson, this is an alternative version of their debut single that came came out on U2’s Mother Records. It also features Robbie Ross McFadyen, Bronek Korda and Cecilia Watson. The band went on to later record an album ‘Lovelife’ for RCA, released in Europe but not in the UK; a second album ‘Universal’ followed on the indie My Thing label. Alan now lectures in music at the University of West of Scotland.

mp3 : ac acoustics – Bluff Drive By

Fronted by Paul Campion, they were Peel favourites, recording five BBC sessions, and also much admired by Tim Burgess and Brian Molko. They released four albums between 1994-2002, and toured widely to promote them.  They continued until 2003.  This track is previously unreleased, although they did record a version on one of their many Peel sessions.

mp3 : Whiteout – Jackie’s Racing

From Greenock, fronted by Andrew Caldwell, Whiteout positioned themselves as ‘The Next Big Thing’, getting a major deal with Stone Roses’ label Silvertone on the strength of their Park Lane demos. They toured the world including an equal-billing tour with Oasis, achieving success and notoriety in Japan. Two albums followed, but in the rock star stakes they lost out. Guitarist Eric Lindsay continues with Eli Pop. Whiteout reformed in 2009 for their manager’s 40th…so maybe more to come?

mp3 : The Smiles – God Only Knows

Tony McGovern’s first band signed to A&M Records, appeared on TV and the main stage of T in the park, released a single but then their album got buried due to corporate shenanigans. He joined Texas in 1998 and has recently been seen in his new band Kizzy Star touring with Sharleen Spiteri. A release is soon due through a new US deal.

mp3 : The Primevals – Diamonds Are A Fur Coat Champagne

Starting in 1983, Michael Rooney’s garage-rock band had a good number of issues on the French New Rose label as well as other labels. They would wind down in the 1990’s but reformed in 1997 and continue today. This Suicide cover was issued on a 1986 New Rose tribute album, and was also a free 7″ single with their ‘Live A Little’ album.  1986 band line-up is Malcolm McDonald, John Honeyman and Rhod Burnett, + guest Frank Hughes.

mp3 : Nectarine No.9 – Curdled Fragments

Led by former Fire Engines and Win guitarist and singer Davy Henderson, they released numerous albums between 1992-2004 on the Postcard, Shake, Creeping bent and Beggars Banquet labels. This track is from their ‘Saint Jack’ album. Henderson now has a new outfit, The Sexual Objects.

JC adds….

I trust, despite the fact that there’s loads of demos featured today, that you’ll find something to enjoy. It’s a wee bit of history that I think complements what I try to do most days on this wee corner of t’internet.

One other thing worth noting to show how things have changed so quickly and by so much in just six years.  Each of the above paras in the booklet was followed by information on how to best hear more from the band or singer. Almost without exception, it was via a myspace page, which has of course become more or less redundant nowadays.  As too, one day, will this blog….although they did a few decades back say vinyl was all but dead.

Enjoy.

RE-ISSUE, RE-PACKAGE, RE-EVALUATE THE SONGS….

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In 1986, The Cure enjoyed huge sales thanks to the release of Standing On A Beach, a 13-track compilation of all the band’s singles up to that point. Reaching #4 in the album charts, it was up until that point the biggest selling and highest placed of any of their records and there’s no doubt it increased both their profile and their fan base.

Just four years later, the band and record label tried a similar trick with the release of Mixed Up, this time an 11-track compilation comprising different mixes of 10 old singles and one brand new song. Released towards the end of November 1990, it was a great bit of marketing as it was sure to find its way onto many a Xmas list….

The album was a big success hitting #8 in the UK charts but more importantly climbing to #14 in the US album charts and thus maintaining the momentum from the success of the previous year’s Disintegration.

Mixed Up was supported by the release of two singles – the aforementioned new song which was Never Enough as well as the re-issue, re-package and remix of a single from 1985:-

mp3 : The Cure – Close To Me (Closest Mix)

The information on the CD single says

Produced by Robert Smith and David M Allen (Horns by Real Party) (1985)
Remixed by Paul Oakenfold and Engineered by Steve Osborne, June 1990

The remix proved more popular than the original reaching #13 in the charts as opposed to #24 back in 1985 – proof if any was needed that The Cure were now a band with more followers and admirers than ever before.

The two other tracks were also remixes of earlier singles, but which didn’t make the final cut for the Mixed Up album:-

mp3 : The Cure – Just Like Heaven (Dizzy Mix)

Produced by Robert Smith and David M Allen (1987)
Remixed by Bryan ‘Chuck’ New, September 1990

mp3 : The Cure – Primary (Red Mix)

Produced by Robert Smith and Mike Hedges (1981)
Remixed by Keith Le Blanc, September 1990

Personally, I’m not convinced by either remix, but then again I was, and remain, a big fan of the original versions.

Enjoy.

THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (11)

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Disc 11 is Bankrobber

A double album at the end of 1979 had taken the world by storm and lifted the profile of The Clash to new heights.  Columbia Records were desperate for something to maintain the momentum and the executives must have been highly frustrated that it took a full eight months into 1980 before there was any product to put on the market.

Bankrobber was a real surprise.  Where the rock side of things was where most expected he band to go, they brought out a single that delighted those who had fallen for the charms of their reggae covers.  It didn’t however, find favour with a few critics who were looking for any reason to turn on the band (after all, the whole ethos of music journalism has always been to tear down those you spent time building up).

In this instance, while it was OK for the band to cover reggae numbers, how dare they, as white musicians, try to do their own thing.  Oh, and while the journos were on the soap boxes, they of course took delight in reminding Joe that his daddy, far from being a villain and a thief, was in fact a career diplomat whose meanderings around the world saw him live in fine opulence at the expense of taxpayers……….

Although there were tracks recorded for a 12″ release to follow the success of that format with the London Calling single, the tensions between band and label saw it only appear in 7″ form with these two tracks:-

mp3 : The Clash – Bankrobber
mp3 : The Clash (feat Mikey Dread) – Rockers Galore….UK Tour

It reached #12 in the singles chart, which was just one place below that of London Calling.  Again, an appearance on Top of the Pops (or even allowing the promo video to be aired) might have seen it reach the Top 10.

What had been intended for the 12″ release would eventually find its way out via inclusion on Black Market Clash:-

mp3 : The Clash – Bankrobber/Robber Dub

BANKROBBER : Released 8 August 1980 : #12 in the UK singles chart

I was there at the recording of ‘Bankrobber’.  Me and my mate Pete Garner were walking down Granby Road in the middle of Manchester one day and we could hear these drums coming through the walls. Pete was a proper Clash fan and he was convinced it was them.  Then Topper Headon walks out onto the street right in front of us!

He invited us downstairs into the studio to see what was going on.  Mikey Dread was there and we got chatting. They were dead cool.  Joe Strummer was sitting in the corner with a big, wide-brimmed hat on beneath this big grand-father clock, clicking his fingers in time to it. Paul Simonon asked us what our favourite film was and then said (affects authentic West London drawl) ‘mine’s ‘Death Race 2000’! Funny the things you remember.

Afterwards we showed Johnny Green, their tour manager, the way to the record shop and he bought two copies of ‘London Calling’ – one for each of us.  I’ll never forget it.

Ian Brown,  The Stone Roses

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (20)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MONDAY 28 APRIL 2008

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(The songs today were part of a recent ICA, so feel free to skip on past and come back tomorrow for the next single by The Clash…..)

The Police were the first band I ever saw play live, back at the Glasgow Apollo in May 1979. £2 a ticket, and they were supported by two other acts – Bobby Henry and The Cramps. Yup, the psychobilly nutters led by Lux Interior who did get his knob out on stage that evening. It certainly made Andy Summers‘ act of bringing on a blow-up doll to serenade during a rendition of Be My Girl/Sally look rather tame.

The fact that the band became the biggest act on the planet for a brief time in the early 80s, as well as Sting becoming the most self-righteous and pompous prick imaginable makes it all too easy to mock The Police. But as a 15 year-old lad, I thought they were as good as anything else that was emerging from the post-punk era that had been christened New Wave.

Not too many other bands were singing about prostitutes in 1979. These were the days when even the use of the word ‘damn’ was liable to get your song banned from the airwaves. The Police were actually regarded as a group that was a bit daring, cutting edge and subversive. You’ll have to trust me on that for I know its almost impossible to imagine.

But Roxanne wasn’t the first song that I ever heard by The Police. My first sighting of the band was in fact on The Old Grey Whistle Test in late 1978. They played two tracks that night, including what was their current single. A couple of days later I picked it up in the local record shop. The thing that I most remember was the sleeve – a picture of someone (turns out it was drummer Stewart Copeland) slowly hanging themselves by putting the noose around their neck and standing on a block of ice that was melted away by a three-bar electric fire. The back of the sleeve was a close-up photo of the ice block having melted…..and beside it was the photo that had been held by the hanging man.

I honestly had some nightmares about that sleeve. Is this what you were driven to when someone chucked you and broke your heart?? Surely not…(and it’s just occurred to me that perhaps a certain Ian Curtis might have glimpsed this sleeve at some point or other….)

But aside from the sleeve, it was a record that I played constantly hour-after-hour and day-after-day. I hadn’t been exposed to all the much reggae, so the song had a beat and rhythm that I thought was really unusual. I also loved the sound of Sting’s voice – it was so much sharper, clearer and tuneful than most other singers fronting new-wave bands. I was gutted when I realised the single wasn’t going to chart (it only made #42 on its first release):-

mp3 : The Police – Can’t Stand Losing You
mp3 : The Police – Dead End Job

The Police were one of a handful of bands that I was championing at school, but it was initially very difficult to get too many people interested. Then, all of a sudden, Sting began to get a lot of attention thanks to him having a main part in the movie Quadrophenia, and interest in his band exploded. Including from lots of folk in school. I think about 7 or 8 of us ended up going along to the Apollo gig – the tickets were unreserved seating so it didn’t matter when you bought them.

They say you never forget your first time, and that a small part of it lives with you forever. I’m no different…..and although I’ve been left embarrassed by an awful lot of the stuff that came out after the initial singles, I’ll never forget the part The Police played in developing my life-long love and affection for music and live gigs.

Sneer all you like. But this record deserves its place in the Top 20.

 

BONUS POSTING : DRESS x 3

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It’s kind of pot luck which member of the royal family you’ll get to pin on the medal you’ve been awarded in the twice-yearly honours list. As you can spot from the above photo, the delightful PJ Harvey, having been listed in the June 2013 Awards for achievements in music, got hers from the woman once portrayed in a movie by Helen Mirren.

This is another song inspired by a random appearance on the ipod, but it was this rather wonderful acoustic version:-

mp3 : PJ Harvey – Dress (live, WHFS)

This was recorded in the early 90s for a radio station that is based in Rockville, Maryland (yup….the very same Rockville once namechecked at length in a song by R.E.M.)

The original is, of course, a bona fide classic:-

mp3 : PJ Harvey – Dress

So how about we round things off with the demo version so you can hear how much it subsequently developed…

mp3 : PJ Harvey – Dress (demo)

Enjoy

PS : The reason for this burst of activity on the bonus posting front will become clear quite soon….