ANOTHER CLASSIC 45 WITH GREAT B-SIDES

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All three of these songs have been featured on this blog in the past, but not as one posting.

The single was released in October 1988 but again failed mysteriously to give The Go-Betweens a hit single.

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Was There Anything I Could Do?

As the heading of the post indicates, the single came with more than decent b-sides. Here’s those from the 12″ release:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Rock n Roll Friend
mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Mexican Postcard

Enjoy

PS

The blog has sort of taken a bit of a back seat in recent weeks as I’ve spent loads of time either watching football on the telly or making the most of the light nights and playing golf.  With Euro 2016 coming to a conclusion soon (i.e. there’s not games on the telly every night!), I’m hoping to crank things up again in the coming days including a few guest ICAs that have been sent in.

Cheers.

JC

 

REMEMBERING THE MEMBERS

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One of my favourite songs back in 1979:-

mp3 : The Members – The Sound Of The Suburbs

At the time, I thought it was a great punk record and I used to play it really loud just to annoy the hell out of my old man. Looking back on it now, it was really nothing more than glorified pub-rock with a cracking shout-a-long chorus. Not all that far removed from the sort of stuff that brought fame and fortune to Sham 69.

But quite clearly, us kids love it cos it spoke to us all about how miserable and bring life was and collectively we dragged into the pop charts where it reached #12 in the spring of 1979.

The follow-up single was one that I bought without ever hearing as that’s what you did with your favourite music and bands when you were 16 years old. At the time I hated it……I had no idea what the hell it was about, and to be honest I didn’t really care. Oh and the tune also annoyed me as it reminded me of the appalling Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc more than anything else. History shows that it was all just ahead of its time…..and by maybe around 1983, I realised that it was a genuine classic:-

mp3 : The Members – Offshore Banking Business/Pennies In The Pound (12″ version)

Trivia facts. The drummer in the band got his brother to produce some of the earliest material recorded by The Members. The drummer was Adrian Lillywhite…his brother’s name was Steve….and he went on to become one of the best-known and biggest-earning producers in the 80s and 90s. Oh and he also married Kirsty MacColl.

Offshore Banking Business was a top 40 hit, and many of the lyrics were courtesy of JC Carroll who had been a trainee merchant banker before joining the band. The band never enjoyed any further chart success with any of their five subsequent singles before they called it a day in 1981.

But like many others of their ilk, the chance to relive it all decades later proved too tempting to turn down and since 2007 the band have been on the road and in the studio making music for a living. I haven’t been tempted….

WHEN IT ALL GOES PEAR-SHAPED

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I’m sure everyone of you has a similar story to tell……

A new band comes on the scene and the noise they make on the radio and in print is quite appealing. As a music fan, you invest some of your hard earned spare cash into buying product which doesn’t disappoint. You even make an effort to catch them live on stage and come away impressed. The next thing is that you’re telling your mates and work colleagues that said band really are a bit special and well worth checking out.

But then one day, something happens that irritates you. It might be an unexpectedly duff record. It might be something you read after the most prominent member of the band has said something really stupid or even offensive. Now you find yourself on the defensive about the band and no longer find yourself championing them. Before you know it, you take on the traits of someone who has reformed after a drink or drug addiction and become a bit holier-than-thou and start denouncing the band.

Welcome to the my relationship with Deacon Blue.

Formed in the mid 80s, I first came across this lot thanks to them being one of a number of unknown Scottish artists who were on a compilation cassette called Honey At The Core.

They had an elegant and eloquent front man in Ricky Ross. I particularly loved that, at a period in time when Glasgow had been dismissed by many as just another former industrial city with nothing going for it, Ricky Ross was someone who was prepared to argue just how special a place it was, and how it was more than capable of getting off its knees. The music he and his band were churning out was also enjoyable. It was just the right side of anthemic and it also had a bit of a political edge. A song like Raintown could only be about a city like Glasgow, and a song like Dignity could only be about someone who came from Glasgow. The cover on the debut LP, released in 1987, was a fantastic photograph of the Glasgow of old when it was famous for shipbuilding and engineering. Yes, there was a degree of nostalgia about it all, but at a time when I had not long left for the first time in my life and re-located to Edinburgh, it was the sort of LP that I could put on of an evening and think of home.

Unsurprisingly, the band began to grow in popularity and soon became regulars in the singles and album charts, particularly after the release of their second LP When The World Knows Your Name in 1989. The new songs were totally different from the debut – very radio-friendly and of such mass appeal that the band were capable of selling out more than one night at the 12,000 capacity hall at the SECC.

Some of the new stuff got on my nerves, as did the fact that Ricky Ross was all over the media saying how his songwriting was developing as a craft and that he was an artist who wanted to be remembered for the timeless quality of his songs. Nor did it help that he was also using his new found fame to jump on his soapbox and tell anyone prepared to listen that the only way Glasgow and Scotland make progress was through political independence.

In other words…he turned into a pretentious, pompous self-deluding arse….and the music the band were pumping out was becoming unbearable to listen to.

But you can never take away the magic of some of the early stuff:-

mp3 : Deacon Blue – Raintown
mp3 : Deacon Blue – Dignity
mp3 : Deacon Blue – Riches

If you think I’m being harsh on Ricky, you should hear me when the name of Pat Kane of Hue and Cry is mentioned…..

THE CINERAMA SINGLES (12)

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There was just one release from Cinerama in 2003 and it was in the shape of a three-track CD single:-

mp3 : Cinerama – Don’t Touch That Dial
mp3 : Cinerama – The One That Got Away
mp3 : Cinerama – On/Off

It later emerged that the romantic relationship between David Gedge and Sally Murrell had ended around the time of recording this single. The band still continued to tour into 2004 at which point it was announced that Cinerama would be no more and that when they next went into the studio, the resultant music would be the first releases in eight years by The Wedding Present.

The next single was Interstate 5, released in September 2004, followed by the LP Take Fountain in February 2005, both of which are among the finest records of the very many recorded by TWP. The band was, with the exception of Sally Murrell, identical to that of the latter-day Cinerama. The new material was picked up by the media in a way that none of the Cinerama stuff had enjoyed and the gigs began again to be played in larger venues.

You couldn’t make it up!!

Cinerama still exist in that David brings them out of storage every now and again for gigs while he released an album under the band name in 2015, which in fact was a re-recording and re-working of Valentina, the LP released by TWP in 2012…

Hope you’ve enjoyed this short but I would say essential dabble into the lesser known band on the Scopitones label.

B&S ON SUNDAYS (6)

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From wiki:-

“Jonathan David” is a single released by Belle & Sebastian on Jeepster in 2001. The lead track gets its name from the biblical duo of Jonathan and David, while “The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner” is a reference to Alan Sillitoe’s short story “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” The front cover features band members Mick Cooke and Bobby Kildea with Gill Dodds. All three tracks from the single were later collected on the Push Barman to Open Old Wounds compilation. The title track was the band’s first single to feature lead vocals from guitarist Stevie Jackson.

The allmusic review:-

The B&S railroad rebounds from that mess of unforeseen mediocrity, the “Legal Man” EP. Perhaps it’s hard to carp at a group that’s restored the lost Brit tradition of “all exclusive tracks” EPs (making them like Buzzcocks, the Smiths, or Mega City Four in that regard), as opposed to LP singles with rip-off B-sides on two separate CDs. But “Legal Man” mixed an advanced sense of humor with… shockingly zero musical inspiration. So, hurrah, these three tunes tap back into this bunch’s pumping artery of graceful, sonorous songcraft. Perhaps “Jonathan David” should have been sung by superior talent Stuart Murdoch, but its piano-driven brooding chords (enhanced by an eerie church organ) support a sterling melody more arresting than anything off Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant. Great Zombies-inspired a cappella harmony bridge, too! Then, when Murdoch retakes the mike on the oddly titled “Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It,” he trills over deep orchestral violins, cellos, and sweet country lap steel that float like carefree balloons, making old fans swoon the world over. Finally, the similarly excellent, more bouncy/jaunty “The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner” wins official release at last.

Readers from last week will know that I disagree strongly with the above reviewer as I thought, and still do, that Legal Man was a tremendous single. And I disagree too with the view that Jonathan David was a return to form. And that’s primarily down to the fact that Stevie Jackson‘s attempts at lead vocal have tended to grate over all the years. Yup, its a fine tune but I don’t listen to it very often.

The other two songs though really are worth it. Carriage Clock is a lovely lament about the futility of devoting your life to the factory or office while Middle Distance Runner is something of a lost 45 in my opinion. It was a song that had been around for a while, including if my memory serves me correctly, a live performance on TV about a year or maybe as much as 18 months prior to its release.0

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Jonathan David
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – The Loneliness Of A Middle Distance Runner

The song reached #31 in the UK charts; not as high as Legal Man but still very respectable given there was hardly any radio play.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG #29 : THE BIG GUN

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The return of the Saturday series that had to make way for the loom back at the old 45 45s at 45 feature.

Last time round, back in September 2015, was The Big Dish and they were the 28th Scottish band alphabetically within my itunes collection. Next up, naturally, is the 29th. And so the spotlight focusses on The Big Gun.

An internet search will reveal very little other than…

The Big Gun from Ayrshire, Scotland, recorded only one single, “Heard about love”, in 1986. After having it played and praised by John Peel, the young band including Andrew O’Hagan (later author of acclaimed novels Our Fathers and Personality), played a few gigs and then promptly split up, convinced they had played their part in music history out and only really had one good song in them anyway. The band was, according to O’Hagan himself, named “not very brilliantly, after ‘the big gun factory’ where Arthur Seaton works in the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”.

But as I mentioned previously on the old blog and then again via a re-post in November 2014, the band also released a one-off flexidisc back in late 86/early 87 with the other track being given over to Basil Pieroni, who I would later get to know and call a friend through Butcher Boy. It was done as a taster for the label Hi-Fibre and the accompanying info with the flexidisc offered the following:-

The Big Gun : Keith Martin (vocals, guitar); Alan Carruthers (guitar); Andy Crone (bass); Andy Kerr (Drums); Andy O’Hagen (additives)

Hi-Fibre : Fresh, substantial and committed, in this instance, to the provision of free pop. Here, enthusiasts can sample the delights of The Big Gun and Basil Pieroni recorded here for the first time.

Hi – Fibre : Bright, urgent and working through the night to deliver instant classics to the nation; fast, reliable and painfully instinctive

As it turned out, only one single was ever released on the label, but to my ears it is one of THE great lost 45s of Scottish indie-pop.  I don’t own a copy of said 45 (very few people do!!) but I have digital versions of the songs.

mp3 : The Big Gun – Heard About Love
mp3 : The Big Gun – Happens All The Time

POSTSCRIPT (added 23 June 2016)

I’ve said before that certain things seem to happen around this blog that prove to  too much of a coincidence to suggest nothing other than some strange forces appear to be at work.  And so it proved with The Big Gun….

It’s worth recalling that it is now nine months since I called temporary time on this series, all the while anticipating this lot would be involved in its relaunch.  What I didn’t know then was that a Berlin-based record label, Firestation Records, would in May 2016 turn their attention to The Big Gun and manufacture a limited run of 200 12″ mini-LPs containing the original single, the demo that was on the flexi disc and a further two songs recorded in demo form but never given a release.  As soon as I learned about this I put in an order and just 72 hours before this posting was received a package was safely and securely delivered.  And so at long last, I own something by The Big Gun.

Another example of how the summer of 2016, in musical terms, is turning out to be more than OK.

Here’s the link to the mini-LP as well as many other great things that Firestation are doing.

JC

 

LET’S NAIL THE MYTH ONCE AND FOR ALL

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The fifth single from New Order. And the one which propelled them to stardom.

No-one can argue that it isn’t a classic. A song that was really quite like no other on its release. And the record sleeve is also one of the most recognisable of all time.

It is not known just how many copies of FAC 73 were sold after its release on 7 March 1983. It’s reckoned to be over a million, but because Factory Records weren’t part of the British Phonographic Industry, there are no reliable figures nor certifications or awards.

The story over the years is that the sleeve was so expensive that every copy sold actually cost the record label money. It’s a great story but its simply not true.

Yes, the initial editions with a die-cut cover and cut outs and silver inner sleeve were expensive to manufacture and package. However, once the single sold out its initial run the sleeve got progressively more simple and cheaper with each repressing.

I’ve got three copies of Blue Monday in the cupboard full of vinyl – all have different sleeves ranging from the more expensive original to what is no more than a plain black cover with the colour coding on the right hand side. You needed to own a copy of the Power, Corruption & Lies LP to decipher the code – it actually spells out the song title on both sides of the vinyl, the name of the band and the catalogue number. And here, ripped direct from the vinyl, is the music:-

mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday
mp3 : New Order – The Beach

Still sounds amazing all these years later.