From wiki:-

“Funny Little Frog” was the first single lifted from Belle & Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit. The track was released in January 2006 on Rough Trade Records, and is produced by Tony Hoffer. The single became the band’s highest-charting single in the UK so far, reaching #13. The artwork for the single features Julie Coyle and Marisa Privitera.

A different version of the song “Funny Little Frog” appears in Stuart Murdoch’s project “God Help the Girl”.

Fair play to the band for moving the sound along again in a different direction with the single that pre-dated the release of The Life Pursuit by around a month or so.  My problem was however, that it just didn’t excite me in the way that earlier releases had.  It’s not that Funny Little Frog is poor or a total let-down, but it wasn’t one that stopped me in my tracks or made me want to listen to it on heavy rotation.  Having said that, it was clearly one for radio play and the idea of its release date was to create a bit of excitement around the new LP;  it didn’t fail on either count with, as wiki states, becoming the band’s biggest 45 and paving the way for the LP to debut at #8, which again was a watermark achievement.

It was released on CD single, 7″ and DVD format, and you had to buy all three formats if you wanted all the b-sides.  Changed days indeed.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Funny Little Frog
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Meat and Potatoes
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – I Took A Long Hard Look

That’s the 3-track CD for you. Meat and Potatoes is is the tale of a couple’s attempts to spice up their sex life set to a tune that borders on a C&W ballad. It’s as dreadful as the words I’ve just typed up would have you imagine…..

I Took A Long Hard Look is Stevie Jackson by numbers. There’ll be loads who love this. I’m not one of them.

That’s the first time in nearly ten years that I’ll have played these songs. Still haven’t changed my opinion.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House

This was the b-side of the 7″ vinyl. Also made available as a track on a fundraiser album for a children’s charity. I don’t think it would make too many ICAs compiled by even the most hardcore B&S fan…

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Lazy Line Painter Jane (live at the Botanics)

Back in June 2004, the band had played a special gig in a Glasgow park as part of a local festival. I remember the day well as it was the occasion summer visited the city that year – gloriously hot and sunny. I didn’t bother with the gig as I’m not a huge fan of the outdoor variety – and besides, it was a day best spent on the golf course. It’s a speeded-up version of the old song from the Lazy Line Painter Jane EP, but it does feature the magnificent Monica Queen on co-vocal so it’s well worth it.




I normally put the front cover of any single on display but have gone with the back of Beathag by The Blood Uncles just to show how unconventional a trio they were. Scottish Goth-Rock….with an emphasis on Rock.

Consisting of Big John Duncan (ex-Exploited), John Carmichael and Colin McGuire, their debut EP on a local indie label attracted the interest of Virgin Records. Their career consisted of three singles, including a frantic cover of a song by Prince, and one LP, none of which got near the charts. Big John would later be part of the live act that was Nirvana…..

mp3 : The Blood Uncles – Beathag

The second of the Virgin singles. Here’s the b-side:-

mp3 : The Blood Uncles – God Says No

Enjoy. But I’m not sure many of you will.



This a true tale, the revealing of which was inspired by Badger‘s revelations of ‘humiliation’ while singing on stage.

It’s 1990. I’m out with Mrs Villain (Rachel) to see the new stage show that has been put together by the outrageously camp and very funny Julian Clary. The venue is Glasgow Pavilion and the show is being performed in front of a sell-out audience of 1,500, the majority of which it is safe to say are either female or gay. Mrs V adores Julian – she’s always had a thing about camp/glam blokes dating back to her love for Bowie and Bolan as a teenager. She warns me before we leave that, if possible, she is going to get on stage with her hero during the section when there will be the inevitable audience participation – she’s certainly dressed for the occasion wearing an incredibly tight t-shirt and skinny jeans combo and looking as great as I’ve ever seen her.

The show is very funny. Julian is as outrageous as you’d hope – full of OTT one-liners and tales that were too risqué for television. He then tells us that it is audience participation time and it’s going to be a live version of his TV game show, Sticky Moments, that had aired on Channel 4 back in 1989 and 1990.

I say game show….but as wiki states:-

the questions, answers, challenges and cheap prizes were deliberately off-centre, and rife with gay innuendo and double entendres, played for laughs rather than actual competition.

Julian tells us that the competition is to be a shoot-out between a straight and gay couple. He asks if perhaps there are any gay couples in the audience and if so to raise their hands. He then spends a few minutes wandering up and down the aisles within the stalls, wise cracking his way through as to why he was ruling willing participants out until he finally finds the two blokes he most fancies. They take to the stage to huge applause.

Julian then announces that he’s already decided who his straight couple are going to be….and immediately I know what’s coming next. Mrs V had already made all sorts of eye-contact with him as he strolled through the auditorium while I had made the cardinal error of trying to look wholly disinterested. He grabbed Mrs V by the hand and said something along the lines of her being so gorgeous that her other half will have no choice but to follow….

There are loud cheers and a few wolf whistles…which Julian is keen to explain are very much for me. He admires my t-shirt which is emblazoned with The Wonder Stuff on the front….he askes me what it means…I foolishly try to explain its the name of a band….he makes a biting retort about it being some sort of gay sex position. It’s clear my role tonight is to be the fool whom the audience laughs at….

To be honest I don’t mind at all. Mrs V is in heaven right now, a smile lighting up her face as she gets up close to an idol.  Julian explains that he will ask one half of each couple three questions, all to do with the likes and habits of their partners, and the couple who comes up with best matching answers goes home with the prize. Of course, I’m not to answer the questions – they are to be about me – and so while I’m blindfolded and made to put on headphones to listen to music, Mrs V and one half of the gay couple get talking and answering.

I can sense that the audience is rocking during this section and that the piss is being ripped royally out of me. I should also have said that Julian, when asking my name and being told Jim, said there was no way he could go with anything as common as that nor could he use Jimmy as that would just pander to stereotyping men from Glasgow. I was going by my proper name of James and he was revelling in delivering that word in as camp a fashion as he could.

“Right James. Here’s your first question. Rachel says that you’re very much a boxer shorts sort of man and so I#m not going to ask you what type of underwear you have on tonight….if any. But if you are, can you tell us the colour please?”

“Red and White stripes”

“Are you sure? Rachel is certain she saw you in black before you left the house….”

I pull up the waistband of my boxers to show that they are indeed red and white. We are now 1-0 down.

“Question Number 2 James. I think this one is quite easy. What was it that first attracted Rachel to you? Was it you larger than life personality, your larger than life pay packet or your larger than life penis”

I look at Rachel. She is trying hard not to laugh out loud. I’m trying hard to work out what answer she would have given. Surely she didn’t want to add to my humiliation……

“Julian, I would say it’s my larger than life pay check as after all my other half is a bit of a Material Girl”

“No James….It seems you have a big dick”

The audience at this point is ending itself collectively as I look at Rachel who is smirking. We are now 2-0 down.

“Final question James. Now I know you can’t win and that really is such a shame.  But you can go home with a consolation prize if you get this one right.  And you should do as it’s about music and we all know you love music what with your fabulous t-shirt. So the question….what did Rachel say you would sing if you were on a karaoke stage?”

Ya beauty! I’d only ever at this point in my life once done karaoke and it was for a laugh at a works night out. I had performed one song very badly and I distinctly remember telling Rachel about it.

“That’s easy Julian. My karaoke song is I Will Survive.”

More laughs from the audience and Rachel looks over to me in a bit of shock.  WTF?  Does this mean we are going home empty-handed and all this has been for nothing??

“James, are you sure you and Rachel aren’t on a blind date? You don’t seem to know one another very well.. She told us it would be something by Morrissey or The Smiths.”

I genuinely don’t know what to say. The idea of a Morrissey or Smiths song being an option at a karaoke night back in the early 90s just didn’t seem possible. They would have been the last answer I’d have given.

Julian turns to me and says: “James. I can tell that you don’t want to disappoint Rachel, so I’m going to give you one last chance to pick up a prize. Would you care to sing your karaoke number for us here on stage?”

I hesitate. The audience cheer and scream. Rachel looks at me imploringly. I have no choice……

As Russell Churnley, the long-time musical collaborator of Julian Clary hits the distinctive opening notes on the piano, I close my eyes and go for it. Big style.

I don’t know if I was any good or not…I don’t even know if I got the correct words out. But I gave it my all and the crowd loved it, clapping along in whatever sort of time I was keeping. One verse and one chorus and that was it. Thankfully.

Julian gave us the prize which was a plastic replica of Fanny the Wonder Dog (Julian’s pet whippet who had been part of his earliest stage and TV shows) and a bouquet of flowers. But Rachel also got a kiss and I got a hug. We went back to our seats and within seconds I realised I was shaking thanks to a ridiculous rush of adrenalin that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced again.

And that was that. Or so I thought.

Firstly, Julian sang a song in the second half of the show and dedicated it to me (see below)

Secondly….the next day, I boarded my usual 7.30am train from Glasgow to Edinburgh where I worked at the time. I sat down in the my usual seat up in the very front carriage. Another of the regular commuters looked across at me and smiled. She got out of her seat, walked towards me and leaned in close whispering ‘red and white boxers….I wouldn’t have imagined!’

With a wink and a wave she went back to her seat.

Fame, fame, fatal fame….

mp3 : Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
mp3 : Julian Clary – The Leader of The Pack
mp3 : Morrissey – Get Off The Stage





Just two guys Mucking Around 2016 – Part 2 : An ICA written Live

Yet again we find ourselves sat outside SWC’s house waiting for track ten to finish. Track Ten is ‘Bulletproof’ by La Roux, one of the tracks off of SWC’s safelist, although I have no idea why, it’s a perfectly good record. The music on the way home had been pretty good, some Cornershop, followed by Drugstore, Idlewild, Julian Cope and FKA Twigs. SWC has been slightly grumpy since he had Elbow chosen for him by his own iPod. Its not that he minds Elbow, its just that he finds them slightly uninspiring. Track 11 starts, its Teenage Fanclub.

Immediately SWC looks at me and says “I’ll give you ten quid, if you swap.” I give it some serious consideration, but then I say “No, thanks” and smile. He swears at me and then suddenly out of nowhere he says “I suppose it’s for the best, because you get tell the tale of when you sang this song to that girl you fancied.” This song, track 11, is ‘Tears Are Cool’ from the ‘Thirteen’ album and I once did indeed sing it to a girl I fancied. I’d forgotten I’d told him that. “You told me on the trip to Crewe, it came on the iPod. We almost swerved into the path of that Fiesta because we were laughing so much” he says picking up on my blank look. “I may not include this song” I say and with that we get out of the car.

I spend the next day listening to Teenage Fanclub, and have nearly decided on my ICA, when I bump into SWC at the local Spar Shop. We have a chat and he tells me that he had written the Elbow ICA, but had done it live, letting the iPod pick all the tracks for him – apart from the first one, which was already decided as it was the 11th track. He then says “You should do the Teenage Fanclub one the same way”. I reluctantly agree – largely because I’d left the window open in the car and it has started to absolutely roar it down. When I get back in I realise that of course, this means that I have to start my ICA with ‘Tears Are Cool’ and that means telling this story, or it means SWC telling it for me. Sigh…

Side One

Tears Are Cool – Taken from Thirteen

So, there’s this girl, we’ll call her Aerosmith Girl, actually let’s call her Sally, and she was lovely. I had a massive thing for her in the early to mid nineties. She drunk in my local pub – where I lived at the time. I ignored the fact that she loved Aerosmith because she was so lovely.

Anyway, one night in the pub, I saw her crying, sitting there on her own, crying. I went over and spoke to her, turns out her cat had died (to be honest, she should have just stayed in – the attention seeker) anyway, after about five minutes, I said “its ok Tears Are Cool” – taking it from the song that Teenage Fanclub had released on their most recent album.

On Saturday night it was Open Mic night, when a few people turned up with acoustic guitars, played for fifteen minutes and then sodded off to claim two free pints. That night, for the time ever, I got up to play – I mumbled my way through an acoustic version of a Levellers song and then something in my head went “This ones for Sally” and I looked straight at her and did a little fist pump. I know. Sorry.

Then I sang ‘Tears Are Cool’. When I finished she wasn’t even sitting where she was when I started it. Twenty minutes later I saw her outside eating chips with a bloke called Gavin. Chips. Gavin. I’d sang my heart out in there and she fucked off and bought some chips. I never sang in that pub again. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever sung live again.

Anyway – lets go on with the ICA, the next nine songs picked by the ipod will make up the ICA – I have 68 Teenage Fanclub songs, so here goes….

God Knows Its True – Peel Session 12”

What a place to start! The Peel Session version of this is exquisite, full on proper guitar onslaught. There is an argument that this is their finest moment, certainly the Peel Session version is I think heavier than the 12” version. It wonderful

Radio – From Thirteen

Another single, we are doing well here. Thirteen was not the breakthrough that the response to ‘Bandwagonesque’ had suggested but its every bit its equal and in ‘Radio’ was a song as clean cut and ready for the erm, radio, as they ever record. Its simply wonderful.

Starsign – From 12” single

Another single! I’m not making this up folks, my iPod has a habit of doing this. Some of you will remember wives week on WYCRA when the first three songs where by three of my favourite bands – anyway, ‘Starsign’ is again, wonderful, even if it does sound more like Swervedriver than the band would ever admit.

Everything Flows – From ‘A Catholic Education’

Wow. What an A Side – if you ignore the nonsense around “Tears Are Cool” then tracks two to five are as about as much fun as you can have without taking your clothes and finding a pot of fromage frais in the fridge. At the same time. Side Two will be a let down folks. Face it.

Side Two

Don’t Look Back – From ‘Grand Prix’

‘Grand Prix’ is my favourite Teenage Fanclub album – and sorry I refuse to call them ‘The Fannies’ – just because. The musical template is pretty similar to the rest of their stuff, but its this album that is lyrically wonderful – especially the ones that Gerard Love wrote for some reason. ‘Don’t Look Back’ is one of those tracks and as it happens its one of my favourite tracks. I love the line ‘I’d steal a car/to drive you home’ its wonderfully soppy.

Start Again – From ‘Songs from Northern Britain’

This was one of the standout tracks from ‘Songs From Northern Britain’. This was a song I remember owning of 12” – long since vanished from the Badger household I’m afraid. It had a tremendous B Side if I remember (perhaps with Jad Fair?) but the single is excellent but I think we all know that. It’s a musical road trip full of jangley guitars and Beach Boys style harmonies. I always found the line ‘I don’t know if you can hear me’ as sung in this somewhat ironic and the public inevitably ignored it.

Hang On – From ‘Thirteen’

A strange thing happened in 1993, Teenage Fanclub were on the cusp of superstardom, they were loved by the press and their fanbase was growing. So for some reason they decided to embrace grunge but were in all honesty to brilliant to do it. They couldn’t do it. ‘Hang On’ starts a bit like something by an American Grunge band – its sounds a bit like Pavement as it happens – before it slides into white noise and strings. Its ace but feels uncomfortable getting there.

About You – From ‘Grand Prix’

Has there ever been a band so democratic in its songwritng duties as Teenage Fanclub? This one was written by Raymond McGinley and it’s a catchy as a cold. Its another one of my favourite tracks. ‘About You’ is sung by all three of the bands songwriters and seriously you’ll be singing it for weeks after playing it. The fact that this was overlooked as a single for (the not quite as good) ‘Mellow Doubt’ staggered me then and still staggers me now.

Sparkys Dream – From ‘Grand Prix’

Ok I’ll keep this one short – this is one of the best pop rock songs ever written. Its another Gerard Love one and that bluesy slide guitar intro is divine and nearly every band I can think would kill for it. One I definitely would have included anyway. Decent end to a decent album that.

Tim Badger




Just two guys mucking around – 2016 – An ICA written Live.

So we went to the cricket again, it was uneventful. Somerset lost again. We have seen Somerset six times in the last year or so, they have never won, (four defeats, two rained off). I think we are close to getting banned for life for being such unlucky customers. Anyway, on the way up and on the way back we did our usual ‘11th song Write an ICA’ thing – we do this to liven up the journey up. Quite often it means sitting in the car park until track 10 finishes and we can find out what Track 11 is. Today is no different, but mercifully Track ten is quite short – the reason it has taken so long to get to track eleven is because track 8 and 9 were both long songs (Spacemen 3 and Mogwai respectively). Track Ten is a short punky blast from Eagulls. Track 11 is from miserable Northern dudes Elbow and the track is ‘Any Day Now’ from their fine debut album ‘Asleep at the Back’.

Now, to make things interesting – and to make my life easier (selfish I know) I have decided to do this ICA live – I literally have no say in what songs are picked. I have 47 Elbow songs on my ipod, they are in one playlist – and I will let the iPod choose the tracks via the shuffle and I will write about them as they come in. It will miss off some classics, but it will be varied at least – it also means we may avoid ‘A Day Like This’ which to be honest annoys the crap out of me. Not because it’s a bad song, but because for a while a few summers ago it was bleeding everywhere. I kind of lost a bit of love for Elbow around then.

The only say I have this ICA is the first track – and that was selected for me in the car park at Taunton.

Side One

Any Day Now – Taken from ‘Asleep at the Back’

One of the first songs by Elbow that I ever heard and in the Top Five of theirs. Most of the debut album is brilliant. The songs build into epic crescendos and is perhaps I think their most indie record. Its interesting to see how the band have developed over time, with more torch songs and anthems coming out. Instead of indie based tracks like this. I switch from which Elbow I prefer. Indie Elbow or Stadium Rock Elbow. Probably indie Elbow.

Some Riot – Taken from ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’

This is quite a dour track, quite slow, fairly miserable and rather brooding. It does have these meandering strings running through it. Tracks like this make you realise that largely Elbow always were a vehicle for the voice of Garvey with the music often playing second fiddle to it. The quiet bits nearly always lead to a soaring verse from Garvey. He’s good at that so it makes perfect sense I suppose.

Don’t Mix Your Drinks – Taken from ‘Asleep at the Back’

Another rather slow number that does largely what the track before does. It’s a song which laments mixing drinks as ‘it will kill you’. It’s a grower this one, it takes some time to build, it does that quietly Guy’s vocals are reduced to loud whisper and the music just trundles along nicely. Then just as it was getting going, it just stops. ‘Asleep at the Back’ really is a tremendous album guys.

Open Arms – Taken from ‘Build a Rocket Boys!’

I’ll be honest here, I didn’t like this album and if I had any choice in it, I wouldn’t have actually picked any tracks from it. ‘Open Arms’ is quite good though. You get a cheery old guitar chirping away through it and this other guitar and drum thing that sounds like a train chuffing away in the background. It’s another one of those Elbow songs that you can imagine done live, with (open) arms swaying together in harmony, whilst Garvey crouches down and sings to the crowd. Well sort of.

Powder Blue – Taken from ‘Asleep at the Back’

The third track selected from the debut album – that’s ok it is their best album. As it happens this would have been included should I have had a decision in the running order. I love this song. The piano in it is brilliant. it is this song that made me realise that Garvey is a wonderful singer – he has this knack of building a song to bursting point. Another example of this is ‘Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’. As it goes this isn’t a bad ending to side one really, the building of this song into a small epic and then again like the ‘Don’t Mix Your Drinks’ it just stops only this time with the sound of smashing glass. Brilliant.

Side Two

The Night Will Always Win – taken from ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’

This starts for at least thirty seconds with a single piano note repeating over and over – which stays with the song pretty much through it. Garvey and the rest of the music comes in a bit later and there is great bass drum bit in – which comes in around 90 seconds, its deep and heavy but has just enough oomph to be heard. As it happens this is a lovely little song, again its largely about the voice of Mr Garvey with the music taking a backseat. Again. I’m beginning to understand why he released that solo album now.

An Imagined Affair – From ‘Leaders of the Free World’

The first track from this album to be selected but is one of Elbow’s finest moments, not just on this album but full stop. This has an acoustic guitar strumming away whilst Garvey sings about an anonymous female who ‘brings the morning’ and how he is ‘lost in the sound of her voice’. This is what Garvey does best if you ask me – the heavy whispery vocal over quaint little tunes in the background. It’s very lovely indeed.

Forget Myself – Taken from ‘Leaders of the Free World’

One of the few singles selected so far. This should have been a massive hit. It has pretty much everything. The chorus of this is another one of those occasions which you can imagine live. Lights up, strobes flashing, arms aloft here it comes…. ‘Lord I know I won’t forget you….’ It’s wonderful of course it is. This was I think the comeback single after the second Elbow album kind of flopped (an album that is missing from my ipod for some reason – does anyone elses ipod just randomly delete shit) and the band went away and sort of reinvented themselves as a band wanting to play stadiums with the tunes capable of filling them. Great song.

The Birds – Taken from ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’

An eight minute track. Back in the mid-1990s it was customary to end albums with long songs – this was done deliberately to put the cassette industry out of business. My ending an album on a long song, people were forced to waste around four minutes of their lives fast forwarding the end of Side One in order to get to the start of side two. It worked. Around three and a half minutes into to this, Elbow go a bit krautrock channelling their inner Can. That genuinely is the most interesting thing that happens in this track. Come on iPod you have one more song to pick, don’t ruin it now.

Coming Second – From ‘Asleep at the Back’

In which Elbow go slightly menacing. Right from the start, Garvey sounds like he is ready to kill you in this song. There is a string instrument running through it – (a cello perhaps?) that just plucks away like a clock ticking down to some ungodly event. Then around 1 minute 40 the guitar comes in and just accompanies that ticking noise. Then it all combines together to have a couple of minute finale, lots of whirling, screeching guitar and no Garvey – he’s probably gone for a lie down.

So that’s it. It did alright my iPod really, not a bad selection of tracks, I would have picked four of the ten should I have been less lazy. Badger has just told me he will do the same thing with his 11th track selection – that folks by the way without giving too much away was a brilliant band to be given. I offered him £10 to change – he declined.

Oh one last thing – in case you are wondering ‘Loneliness of a Tower Crane Drive’ was the 16th track out of 47 so would have been in Volume 2 if you like. ‘One Day Like This’ 41st.

Good iPod, nice iPod. Take the afternoon off.



A Guest posting from Charity Chic

Twin Cities Harmonies – A Jayhawks ICA


I have received numerous electronic messages recently alerting me to the release of Paging Mr Proust a new record by The Jayhawks their 9th album in 30 years albeit only their second since 2003

That can only mean one thing – time for a Jayhawks ICA

I do not own this one or the 2011 predecessor Mockingbird Time or indeed their 1986 debut The Jayhawks (also known as The Bunkhouse Album ) so I shall concentrate on the six albums released between 1989 and 2003 when they, and indeed I, were at their peak

Side 1

1- Wichita from Hollywood Town Hall (1992)

Their third album and their breakthrough album Hollywood Town Hall on Def American is without question one of the top 10 albums of all time and Wichita is one of three tracks from it which will feature

2 – Sioux City from Blue Earth (1989)

A song which would have graced Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series.

I told this to Gary Louris and Marc Perlman the second time I ever say the Jayhawks


but given my slurred Glaswegian mutterings they merely looked bewildered and scared

3 – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me from Smile (2000)

Smile is perhaps the weakest of the 6 albums featured but still contains one or two crackers including this

4 – All The Right Reasons from Rainy Day Music (2003)

The last of the albums featured Rainy Day Music represents a return to form.

More acoustic than it’s two predecessors it sees the Jayhawks going back to their roots

There are about half a dozen songs that could have featured; on another day it might have been something else

5 – Nothing Left to Borrow from Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995)

A terrific sing a long song to bring the first side to a close

I had a very entertaining on line discussion with Brian (http://lineartrackinglives.blogspot.co.uk/) and others as to the relative merits of Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass. The general consensus was that HTH just about shades it

Side 2

1 – Blue from Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995)

Probably their most well known song

I had the honour of seeing Sharleen Spitteri sing this with them at The Garage in Glasgow and getting to chat to her.

Being a fellow Weegie she had no problems with my accent

2 – Nevada, California from Hollywood Town Hall (1992)

See side 1, track 1 – nothing more to say really

3 – Sixteen Down – from Sound of Lies (1997)

The first album without Marc Olson. Now essentially it is Gary Louris’ band and accordingly there is a more rocky feel to it

From about the time when one of my pals christened him the Professor of Music.

I always associate the Jayhawks with Olson, Louris and Marc Perlman but Tim O’Reagan has appeared on more records than Marc Olson.

4 – Save it For a Rainy Day from Rainy Day Music (2003)

Another gorgeous acoustic number from Rainy Day Music

5 – Take Me With You When You Go from Hollywood Town Hall (1992)

It is only fitting that we end where we began with Hollywood Town Hall

Another great sing along which is often the last song at a show

Hmm – maybe I should check out Paging Mr Proust after all


JC adds…………………..this is an ICA that has been lying around for some time, so big thanks to CC for being so patient.  Oh and it’s his birthday today….so my very best wishes to you.  If you go browsing in and around the charity shops of your choice, I hope you find a few hidden gems and/or bargains.



This new series, such as it is, is partly to force me into a bit of action in that my i-tunes library is a bit of a mess having not been tidied up for years. It means there are duplicates taking up space while even worse, there’s songs that have been originally loaded and later, thanks to them being modified in some shape or form (often for this blog), are no longer where they should be. It’ll take a while to sort it out and I’m going to do it on a letter-by-letter basis.

In doing so, I’m going to places that I won’t have been for a long time and re-discovering some long-lost tracks, many of which I think are worthy of sharing with you. The idea however, will only be to draw attention to singers/bands not featured here before (in as much they’re not listed in the big index on the right hand side). It’ll be an alphabetical run-through and most likely be an occasional feature as I don’t know as and when I’ll ne in tidy-up mode. But I have finished off the first letter of the alphabet….

mp3 : Airport Girl – Striking Out On Your Own

An example here of a band I only discovered via the internet, back in the days when I had time to scour round into all sorts of nooks and crannies in the days before I developed a fetish for blogging.  If you like your pop to have an indie-bent to it – and by that I mean the sort of fragile almost twee variety, then Airport Girl will tick your boxes. They burst onto the scene back in the very late 90s, releasing a handful of singles/EPs and one album on various indie labels of note, but particularly Fortuna Pop, before disappearing for a while and coming back in 2007 with an album called Slow Light, which is where I picked up on them.  The featured track however, dates back to 2000 and is a b-side.  It’s the greatest example of Bellshill-pop (BMX Bandits etc) to not come from that particular location.

mp3 : Alexi Murdoch – Song For You

I’m astonished that I’ve never included Alexi Murdoch here before – he was certainly on the old blog a fair few times.

Born in London in 1973 to a Greek father and Scottish-French mother, he lived in Greece until he was ten, when his family moved back to Britain, settling in Scotland. In 1992, he moved to America to study and it was on the west coast, in and around Los Angeles, that he began to build a reputation as a singer-songwriter of some note. He hasn’t been the most prolific of artists – one EP and two albums between 2002-2011, but it has all been of the very highest quality, The track above is from the 2006 album Time Without Consequence, but a version was originally on the 2002 EP Four Songs.

mp3 : Au Revoir Simone – Sad Song

Some low-fo electronic-pop courtesy of a Brooklyn-based female trio who, for a time on the mid-noughties, were top of the hipster’s lists of bands to latch onto. I’ve one album and one single from Au Revoir Simone in the collection – I didn’t quite get what all the fuss was about, but the featured track, from the 2007 LP The Bird Of Music is pleasant enough

mp3 : The Assembly – Never Never (12″)

After enjoying success with Depeche Mode and Yazoo, the synth-pop genius that is Vince Clarke decided he wanted to collaborate with singers on a one-ff basis under the moniker of The Assembly. First up was Feargal Sharkey, formerly of The Undertones, and the electro-ballad was a smash in the UK hitting #4 in late 1983 and showing a side to Sharkey that few imagined possible. There was no follow-up single from The Assembly, and after a one-off effort with Paul Quinn flopped, Clarke turned back to being part of a band, forming the hugely popular Erasure.

mp3 : The Arrogants – Shellshock

One of my worst habits is downloading covers of songs that I have in the collection but failing to pay much attention to who is doing the cover or where it’s from. This is an incredibly good and unexpected cover of the New Order song in that it’s stripped right down and turned into a near acoustic ballad with a lovely female vocal. Totally different from the original. Turns out The Arrogants were an American band who were around for a while at the turn of the century and this was recorded for an album of re-interpreted songs from the soundtrack to Pretty In Pink.

Hopefully today’s selections offer up something for everyone.



from wiki

Books is an EP released by Belle & Sebastian in 2004 on Rough Trade Records. The EP features “Wrapped Up in Books” from Dear Catastrophe Waitress, two new songs — “Your Cover’s Blown” and “Your Secrets” — and “Cover (Version)”, a remix of “Your Cover’s Blown” by the band’s keyboardist Chris Geddes. The front cover features Alexandra Klobouk. The EP reached #20 in the UK singles chart.

from all music

Books is the third single from Belle & Sebastian’s 2003 album Dear Catastrophe Waitress. “Wrapped Up in Books” comes from the album. The other three songs are exclusive to the EP.

While the charming, low-key “Books” is a fine song, it is firmly in the B&S tradition. “Your Secrets” is also pretty typical fare, but very strong and catchy with the added perk of some lovely weeping pedal steel guitar. The real interesting track here is the mini-epic “Your Cover’s Blown.” It starts off as a slinky disco number with some wonderfully sexy vocals from Stuart Murdoch, has a lovely sunny chorus, and a spooky spy music bridge. Add to it typically literate and funny lyrics and you have a winner that is equal parts Pulp, Squeeze, and always uniquely Belle & Sebastian. The group’s creative renaissance continues to amaze. “Cover” is a funky remix of “Your Cover’s Blown.” The band’s Chris Geddes is responsible and he turns the track into a glittering dancefloor confection that wouldn’t sound out of place between the Rapture and !!! on indie dance night, or even in a Larry Levan mix.0

This is everything that the previous single wasn’t.  It’s got a brilliantly catchy and enjoyable lead track (one of many excellent songs on Dear Catastrophe Waitress) while the three other songs have a certain wow factor.  Your Secrets is a quality b-side, one which is up there with some of the earlier material, but as the reviewer indicates, the real joy is to be found in the funky and groovy Your Cover’s Blown and its remix.  This was the band taking a chance and really pulling it off.  One of my favourite B&S tracks simply for the fact it’s such a departure from the norm and so well pulled off.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Wrapped Up In Books
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Your Cover’s Blown
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Your Secrets
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Cover (version)




A wee treat for y’ll today (or maybe not as there will be some, indeed possibly many, who just don’t get Bis and will be appalled by this particular release).

The Optimo Singles Club was a short-lived Glasgow label which was an offshoot of a very famous Sunday-night club here in the city. The club was founded in 1997 and ran until 2010. I never went near it, for at the age of 34 I genuinely believed my clubbing activities were over, although I was more than familiar with its venue – the Sub Club – which was famous for opening its doors and making its floor available to all sorts and styles of music, including indie ever since 1987 (when I was of an age to go inside!!).

Anyways….in 2002, the Optimo Singles Club released an EP called Fact2002 on which could be found Bis doing electro-flavoured cover versions of songs originally released on Factory Records. And here they are:-

mp3 : Bis – Love Will Tear Us Apart
mp3 : Bis – Hurt
mp3 : Bis – Shack Up
mp3 : Bis – Looking From A Hilltop


ALL ART IS QUITE USELESS (according to Oscar Wilde)


Endless Art is a wonderful song by Irish indie outfit A House, released initially as the lead track on the Bingo EP (1990), and then as a single from their 1991 album I Am the Greatest. And it features Edwyn Collins at the producer’s desk.

It reached number 46 in the UK but should have done so much better – the trials and tribulations of being on a small indie label that couldn’t get distribution to match initial demand. The lyrics begin with the line ‘All art is quite useless according to Oscar Wilde’ and for their remainder are mostly a list of the names and birth and death dates of artists from various fields, with the chorus remark: “all dead but still alive, in endless time and endless art”. The lyrics are not really sung as such….not it’s not quite a spoken word track either. I think its genius.

For the first appearance of the song on the Bingo EP, the band received some criticism for the fact that the artists listed in the song are all male, so they recorded a second version where all the artists are female. and called it More Endless Art. Equally genius

mp3 : A House – Endless Art
mp3 : A House – More Endless Art

There was also a cracking video which for 1991 can be seen as quite ground-breaking.






So I was reading Swiss Adam’s excellent blog the other day where he mentioned that he was going to see The Stone Roses live. This got me thinking. What would an Imaginary Compilation Album for them actually look like??

I mean you could take ten tracks from their debut album and that would pretty much be perfect – but you can’t do that. Plus you wouldn’t get ‘Fool’s Gold’ or any of the wonderful B Sides that hid away on their early singles. Seriously some of those B Sides are better tracks than most bands write in their entire careers (I’m talking to you Shed 7). So I made a playlist on my Ipod of all their records and during a long train ride yesterday, I set about producing an ICA. Its taken from a collection of 42 songs, none of which are the new releases. I’ll leave it you to as to whether or not that is the right thing to do or not. Its sort of in chronological order as well, not intentionally – its just the way I ordered it.


1) All Across the Sands (B Side – Sally Cinnamon)

So this is one of those B Sides that I mentioned just now. Great bands have to have great B Sides – and remember ‘Fools Gold’ was originally a B side (sort of) which means that they kind of have one of the best B sides ever. ‘All Across the Sands’ is a track just as beautiful as the track it backed. It has a kind of Beach Boys vocals going and the lyrics of this are just heartbreaking. It kind of reminds me of ‘Made of Stone’ or perhaps that should be the other way around – and to top of all of that – you get John Squire’s emotive solo as well

2. Made of Stone (Single)

As I mentioned it. ‘Made of Stone’ is according to Ian Brown, one of the best three Stone Roses songs. When I play this I immediately think of that night on the Late Show in 1989 when the power went down and Brown berated the BBC for being ‘amateurs – wasting our time’. Musically and lyrically this is pretty simple. The lyrics evoke fiery death on the road and I think capture what it felt like to be broke, young but free…”Sometimes I fantasise/When the streets and cold and lonely/And the cars they burn below me”….Its just perfect.

3. She Bangs the Drums (Single)

Perhaps this is the definitive Stone Roses song – its definitely a contender. I love all of this song, the way the hi-hat tingles, the way the bass builds, the way the guitar soars and then that lovesick opening line “I can feel the Earth begin to move/I hear my needle hit the groove”. Basically you get thirty years of guitar pop stripped down to this song. Ultimately this is why I fell for the Stone Roses, the belief and hope of turning from a teenager into a young adult is recorded right here in front of you. “The past was yours but the future’s mine” . Absolutely. And to make it even better they put the next song on the B Side….

4. Standing Here (B Side to She Bangs the Drums)

This is pretty much two songs in one – the first is the noisy guitar sound looping around Brown singing “I really don’t think you could know that I’m in heaven when you smile”. That in itself is enough – this was a song that featured on a tape that Our Price Girl made for me when we were massively into each other – she wrote that lyric around the edge of the tape in flowery italics. She was young, don’t judge her. Then in the last, what, two minutes of this you get Ian Brown suddenly turning into Art Garfunkel repeating the mantra “I could park a juggernault in your mouth/And I can feel a hurricane when you shout..” This made you remember that behind all the macho posing the Roses did, actually there was a lot of admiration and sweetness there.

5. This Is the One (From ‘The Stone Roses’)

As I said you could pick 10 of the first album and you would have a Best of’ album but I wanted to make this album include tracks that don’t normally feature on the best ofs. So I’ve omitted ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ for that reason. It was impossible to leave out this sparkling little gem. It’s a song that reminds me of Bank Holidays. It’s also the song where Brown sounds the most menacing the bit where he talks about ‘burning the town where I was born’ is brilliant.

Side 2

1. Fool’s Gold

Released six months after the debut album and not included on it, Fool’s Gold was the Roses’ first UK Top 10 single and was, arguably, the song that made their reputation. Who remembers that episode of Top of The Pops where the Happy Mondays were on as well? Essential. I can’t really say anymore. Apart from this has to be the full version. Embrace all nine minutes of it.

2. Love Spreads (12” Single)

In 1994 I was a trainee journalist, lazily editing a student newspaper in Surrey. One morning I walked into the office and this 12” was sitting on the desk. I ran home to play it. Given that I was wearing Doc Marten Boots and smoked 20 Marlboro a day at the time, this was a big achievement. I put the needle down and took a massive intake of breath….

Twenty seconds later I started it again, after checking the label to see if I hadn’t actually put on something by Led Zeppelin by mistake. Then after playing all the way through, three times. I smiled. The Roses were back. Oh and watch the video. Pause it at 3.40…That’s Beck there with the beard. Straight up.

3. Something’s Burning (B Side to One Love)

Another B Side but this is is actually better than the A side. Its dark, soulful and almost jazz like. It has a minute long spaced out into and the Browns vocals just kind of slide in at their sneering best.

It’s a classic low key Roses moment, the bass bobs and weaves and the drums shuffle away beautifully. At this point the band were in the creative best stretching that dance rock sound they’d made their own. A very cool record and massively understated.

4. Begging You (12” Single)

More than 20 years after its release ‘Begging You’ sounds fresher than most of the other Roses tracks released at this time. It’s a record I didn’t like when I first heard it. But listening to it again just yesterday – I realise that I missed the point. This kind of sounds like a drum and bass record – and it sounds like The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. Both of which are good things.

5. I Am the Resurrection

The best end of an album ever recorded. John Squire once said in an interview that the only thing that he did to excess was guitar solos. He was joking I think. I’ll tell you the truth, every time I hear the end of this record (which lets be honest takes up over half of the songs eight minutes) it fills me with joy. I play it and then I want to run around the living room like a child whose eaten too much sugar. I was caught in a rain shower (read deluge) the other day and this came on the iPod and I just grinned and knew that I wouldn’t be going inside for eight minutes at least because I wanted to run and jump in puddles.

So there you go. I missed out Elephant Stone as well. Can we have that as an bonus track (Track 90 on the CD perhaps…)




Recollections of sitting alone in a cafe having a bite for lunch. One of the staff was mucking about on a laptop creating a mix of music for the patrons to enjoy or endure. All of a sudden, amidst the non-descript singer-songwriters with their whimsical ballads with a twist of indie-folk, this came blaring out:-

mp3 : Radiohead – Bones

It’s the fourth track on the 1995 LP The Bends. In some ways it is a sort of forgotten Radiohead classic. It is squeezed onto the album right after two hit singles – High And Dry and Fake Plastic Trees, and right before one of their best loved songs and then another hit – (Nice Dream) and Just. But there’s no way that Bones should ever be regarded as a filler track.

Great tune. Killer chorus. And an ambiguous enough lyric to spark a debate. Is it merely about growing old or is it about the physical pain that a mental breakdown brings? Who knows? And who really cares?? Just turn the volume up and enjoy the music. It’s rock, it’s pop, it’s indie all at once. It’s also magnificent.

Especially played live.


THE £20 CHALLENGE (Week Ten)


JC explains….

The delay in this appearing is entirely my fault.  Mid-July has proven to be busy and a tad stressful and indeed if it wasn’t for the fact that I pre-prepare so much of this place up to four weeks in advance then it’s likely it would have ground to a halt at some point over the past ten days.  I think however, what follows in this, the last of this imaginative and often hilarious guest series is well worth the wait. Over to Tim Badger….

I’ve really enjoyed this little challenge and I’m amazed at just how much decent music can be found in the various charity shops around the small Devon towns that I visit on a regular basis. Some charity shops are now setting up their own music shops – they are worth checking out – there are some real bargains to be found in them. For instance, you can get SEVEN Madonna albums in the Exeter Oxfam Music Store for around £15 – I mean that is incredible right? You can also get 5 REM albums for £10 as well – one of them is ‘Reveal’ but don’t let that put you off. Embrace your charity shops folks, they are your friend.

Over at our blog (When You Can’t Remember Anything – blatant plug sorry) – SWC and I are currently counting down 200 songs (currently at 165 at the time of writing – probably near 155 by the time I actually send this to JC) that we think are brilliant. Underworld are at 168 in that list – and I argued that the Underworld song should be ‘King of Snake’ – because it’s my favourite song by them. Its also the first track in the film ‘The Beach’ which is my favourite book so it’s a song I love for various reasons. SWC wasn’t having any of it – he said “nope, the only Underworld song you ever need to hear is ‘Mmm Skyscraper I love you’. All the rest are irrelevant until you have heard that.” I agreed having never heard the song and then forgot about it.

Fast forward about seven months to last Thursday. SWC arrives at my house to give me this weeks CD – the last one in this particular £20 challenge. He puts in on the kitchen table, helps himself to a (large) slice of the (yet uncut) carrot cake on the side and says “Thank me later” with that he is off into the night, like a music Milk Tray Man – only armed with a CD, dressed in shorts and Tshirt, and without having to break into my house via a skylight after fighting off twenty heavily armed baddies. Actually on reflection, not like the Milk Tray Man at all.

The CD is the debut album by Underworld ‘dubnobasswithmyhead’. I listened to it on a drive down the coast the next day with Mrs Badger and naturally he is right. This is without doubt the a wonderful album and the fact that he found it in exactly the same shop as I found his last CD (the wonderful PDSA shop in Exeter) underlines and reinforces everything I have said up in the first paragraph and embracing charity shops. Buy it. Download it. Fuck it email me and I’ll email it to you if you need a copy of it (and believe me you need a copy of it). Its essential.

mp3 : Underworld – Mmm Skyscraper I Love You
mp3 : Underworld – Cowgirl

Incidentally as we are talking charity shops, the other day I was in the aforementioned Oxfam Charity Shop and I spent £25 on ten CDs. Here just because I like you all is one track from each of the CDs I bought. So from us to you all for all the kind messages about this series – if you like an ICA on Charity Shop CDs.

Side One

Hey Dude – Kula Shaker

From ‘K’ – An album which SWC actually loves. Unashamedly. It is alright, its just a shame that they went down the swastika route.

The Wild Ones – Suede

From ‘Dog Man Star’ – £1.99 Bargain.

Surface to Air – The Chemical Brothers

From ‘Push the Button’

My Drug Buddy – The Lemonheads

From ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’

Bedouin – The Orb

Taken from ‘Orblivion’

Side Two

Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Dub – Apollo 440

Taken from ‘Single of the Same Name’ – 50p utter Bargain.

Let’s Get Tattoos – Carter USM

Taken from ‘Worry Bomb’ – I already owned this but my vinyl copy is scratched.

She’s Lost Control – Joy Division

Taken from ‘Permanent’ – A greatest hits CD present for SWC.

Nice Guy Eddie – Sleeper

Taken from ‘It Girl’.

End – The Cure

Taken from ‘Wish’ – present for the wife this one.

Thanks all




The Wannadies released many a great single in the 90s and the early part of the 20th Century. They were a hugely entertaining live act as well with one particular show some 15 years or so ago at King Tut’s in Glasgow being a particular stand out.

They are probably best remembered for You And Me Song which was a bit of a flop when first released in 1994 but which soared to #18 some two years later after it featured in the soundtrack to the hit movie Romeo + Juliet – the updated one directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Despite their singles being infectiously catchy and radio-friendly, The Wannadies only enjoyed chart success on two further occasions – the aptly named Hit in 1997 reaching #20 and today’s offering for your ears, which was the follow-up to the re-released You And Me Song:-

mp3 : The Wannadies – Someone Somewhere (single version)
mp3 : The Wannadies – Why
mp3 : The Wannadies – Goodbye

A paltry #38. The UK CD-single buying public were too busy looking out for the next great Britpop act to pay attention at that time to the great stuff coming out of Scandinavia. Fools.

Here’s the LP version which tags on another minute of music at the end:-

mp3 : The Wannadies – Someone Somewhere




From wiki

“I’m a Cuckoo” was Belle & Sebastian’s second single from Dear Catastrophe Waitress, released on Rough Trade Records in 2004. The track was produced by Trevor Horn. B-side “Stop, Look and Listen” merges into “Passion Fruit” at the end of a song – an instrumental piece which was performed live prior to its release. The front cover features Shantha Roberts. The track fared better in the UK singles chart than previous single “Step into My Office, Baby”, reaching #14. A reviewer described the track as being “like the indie pop version of Thin Lizzy”,[1] who are also mentioned in the lyrics.

From all music

I’m a Cuckoo” is one of the highlights of Belle & Sebastian’s fabulous comeback of sorts, Dear Catastrophe Waitress.

Coming on like the indie pop version of Thin Lizzy (who get a mention in the lyrics), the song is a laid-back, strummy ballad with low-key harmony lead guitars, a wonderfully loping beat, a surprise horn section on the bridge, and lazily drawled lyrics. Easily the equal of anything they have done up to this point, it is a perfect example of the band’s rediscovered attention to arrangement and sound. The other tracks on this EP are no tossed-off space fillers, either. “Stop Look and Listen” is a rollicking, shaggy dog tale that evokes pleasant memories of the Mike Nesmith tunes in the Monkees discography before shifting to a weird surf/spy guitar coda. “(I Believe In) Travellin’ Light” was recorded during the same sessions as Dear Catastrophe Waitress with Trevor Horn at the helm. It is a short, sweet ballad with wonderful lead vocal harmonies that call to mind past B&S ballads, and it was probably left off the album for that reason alone. Luckily, it wasn’t buried in the vaults, and serves as a great EP track. The remix of “I’m a Cuckoo” by the Avalanches is a dazzling piece of musical Cuisinarting, juxtaposing Stuart Murdoch’s very precise vocal with the exuberant background chanting of the Southern Sudanese Choir. Add to that tribal percussion, chirping flutes, and a general sense of joy and you come up with something you rarely find in indie pop (or any other kind of music), a truly surprising and inventive song.

Chalk this EP up as a triumph for the band and for indie pop in general. Those who may think it is twee, parochial, or humorless only need give it a spin and they will be begging your pardon with many thanks for opening their ears and minds.

I’m in total disagreement with the reviewer as I think Cuckoo is just about the worst thing on the album but given that it was such a big chart hit, then I’m probably alone in holding that opinion. I also think the comments on the b-sides are well wide of the mark.  Stop, Look and Listen has good intentions in that it sounds like nothing else the band had released up to that point but it is just too shambolic to be enjoyable, although I will concede that the instrumenatal that it runs into – Passion Fruit – is enjoyable and if played on its own would take quite a few guesses before anyone said it was being played by B&S.  Travellin’ Light is NOT a patch on past B&S ballads…..it’s a bog-standard Stevie Jackson song but then again there’s a few who like that sort of thing.

Oh and I nver thought B&S would ever go down the remix route to pad out singles/EPs. The work by The Avalanches doesn’t rescue what I think is a crap song.

I suppose there’s one bright note. The single edit is almost 90 seconds shorter than the album version, so it’s over and done with that bit quicker.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – I’m A Cuckoo (single edit)
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – I’m A Cuckoo (Avalanches remix)
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Stop, Look and Listen
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – (I Believe In) Travellin’ Light

File under teduous with a big raspberry from JC. (I’ll get lynched by the Glasgow indie crowd for such blasphemy).



I’m on a hiding to nothing this week for no matter what I pick it will not come close to the gems that Sid Law shared with us in his guest series on the late, great Billy MacKenzie.

Thought I’d go with one of covers as it’s quite lovely:-

mp3 : Billy Mackenzie – Wild Is The Wind

The most famous version was of course that by David Bowie who included it on Station to Station back in 1976. Billy’s version was released posthumously and is a sad reminder of what great voice he was in, even during his most troubled days.



Last September, I put up a posting fawning about the single Glory Box by Portishead. The posting had been inspired by the fact that the single had come up on i-pod shuffle for the first time in years and given me a big ‘wow’ moment.

I stumbled across a post at the old blog from March 2013 which was looking back at the LP Dummy……………………..

…………………There’s something really special about Dummy, the 1994 debut LP by Portishead that they never, in my humble opinion, ever came close to capturing again. Which means that outwith the debut LP, there’s nothing more than a couple of later singles on the shelves.

I can pinpoint when I began to fall out of love with Portishead – it was May 1995 when I went to see them live in Edinburgh. It was a really hot ticket. The band were probably the most talked about new act in the UK at the time and every review said they were a sensational live experience. Maybe I caught them on a bad night. But the gig was one of the most boring I’d ever been to and I came away very disappointed. Dummy, having been a record I couldn’t stop listening to, became associated with a major let down. But I’ve picked it up again in recent weeks and found myself really appreciating it.

It’s no surprise really that it has sold more than 800,000 copies in the UK alone. Critics fawned over it and it was one of the first records that I can recall the UK mainstream newspapers and magazines going completely ga-ga for. This was atypical:-

“Dummy mixes cocktail keyboards, spaghetti-western guitars, eerie tape loops, and dub-wise rhythms into what could be called `acid cabaret’….as musically compelling as it is emotionally chilling.”

OK…I’ll take a wee risk here with my next sentence…..

One of the reasons Dummy was a huge hit was because it was hip-hop,dub and soul for the white middle-classes.

There was no swearing, there were no loud unexpected passages of music, there was no political message being preached and it meandered along at a pace that was perfect background music while the chattering classes had their dinner parties. Going by that sort of description Dummy should be an LP that is bland, conservative, shallow and lacking passion. But one listen and you’ll see that it’s anything but.

Much of this is down to Beth Gibbons. It’s a very laid back and relaxed vocal all the way through the album.Very rarely does she strain for notes the way that many female vocalists think is the only way to demonstrate that they have soul……there are times it sounds as if she has just picked up the lyric sheet and is not yet able to familiarise herself with the words. But her performance is absolutely flawless. And a perfect fit to the music.

mp3 : Portishead – Mysterons
mp3 : Portishead – Roads
mp3 : Portishead – It Could Be Sweet




Dubstar began life in the early 90s as a two-piece consisting of Chris Wilkie on guitar and Steve Hillier on keyboards and vocals. By 1994 they had a new vocalist in Sarah Blackwood.

Like an lot of bands kicking around in that era, they were able to land a record deal as the industry decided that Britpop, however you wanted to define it, was the in-thing. Nobody wanted to miss out on the next Blur or Oasis (not that anyone came along and fulfilled the A&R mens wet dreams).

Dubstar were however, more worthy than most of their compatriots and recorded a number of quality songs across Disgraceful and Goodbye, the LPs released in 1995 and 1997 respectively.

A further album, Make It Better was released in 2000 but to little fanfare or acclaim and the band went their separate ways.  Sarah Blackwood went on to be part of  Client, an electronic act who released four albums in the first decade of the 21st Century but who never really got beyond cult status other than a Top 30 single in 2005, thanks in part to the lead vocal being performed by Carl Labat of  The Libertines.

I do have a fondness for this Top 20 hit from 1995:-

mp3 : Dubstar – Not So Manic Now

Reminds me an awful lot of St Etienne…..

It was released on 2 x CD formats, with CD1 having remixes of the singles and CD2 having three new songs. It’s a huge contrast……

mp3 : Dubstar – Not So Manic Now (Way Out West Remix)
mp3 : Dubstar – Not So Manic Now (Mother’s Whole Dub)
mp3 : Dubstar – Not So Manic Now (Way Out West Prophecy Dub)
mp3 : Dubstar – If It Isn’t You
mp3 : Dubstar – Song No.9
mp3 : Dubstar – A Certain Sadness

Oh and I shouldnt forget that they did a more than passable cover version of a Billy Bragg song on their debut LP:-

mp3 : Dubstar – St Swithin’s Day




Here’s a song whose subject matter is winter time but yet manages to be as sunny, summery and warm as any tune ever recorded:-

mp3 : Josh Rouse – Winter In The Hamptons

Released as a 45 in 2005, it’s a number which evokes memories of The Go-Betweens at their finest and, dare I say it, the jauntier side of The Smiths. The b-side was a live version the title track of his 2002 LP:-

mp3 : Josh Rouse – Under Cold Blue Stars (live in Nashville)




Seven Seas was the third single to be lifted from the LP Ocean Rain. It came out in July 1984 and reached #16 in the UK singles chart, giving Echo and The Bunnymen their fifth Top 20 hit, but what would be their last until the 1997 comeback 45 Nothing Lasts Forever.

I was initially nonplussed by Seven Seas. I always thought it an OK song if a little bit lightweight, albeit it fitted in well with the rest of the album. I remember getting annoyed at the time by the promo video and Top of the Pops appearance as the band goofed around in costumes and seemed to be trying just a bit to hard to deal with press criticism that they were a bit po-faced and nothing but gloom merchants.

Some 25 years later I had the good fortune to hear Seven Seas played at an indie-night over a very expensive sound system and that’s when it really hit home just how majestic the production is. The lyrics might be nonsensical but the playing and the arrangement is well worth repeated listens. Oh and that night also brought a sharp reminder that it’s a cracking tune to dance to.

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Seven Seas

I bought the 12″ version back in the day as it had four live acoustic tracks as recorded at Liverpool Cathedral for a very unique Channel 4 programme called Play At Home.  The songs capture a shambling, drugged-out but utterly brilliant band in action:-

mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – All You Need Is Love (live)
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon (live)
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Stars Are Stars (live)
mp3 : Echo and The Bunnymen – Villiers Terrace (live)

Play At Home was a series in which bands of the day were invited to make their own 48 minute films capturing them at work.  The Bunnymen, no doubt advised by the nutty genius of Bill Drummond instead decided to focus on a cafe which was near Eric’s Club in Liverpool, owned and run by an ex-boxer and his family, with band performances thrown in.

And as much as I hate google for what they did to the old blog, you tube is a godsend at times.  Here’s that TV stuff from 1984, in three parts:-