Really finding it hard to get motivated right now. Maybe it is the cold weather and the eternally dark mornings and nights. Maybe it is the growing sense of unease and anger at the fact Trump takes over the White House in seven days time. Maybe it is the fact my favourite football team are in a slump at the moment and show no signs of emerging back into winning ways. Maybe it is down to worrying about Mrs Villain being unwell just now and awaiting soon the results of some tests carried out last week at the wonderful NHS hospital just up the road from here.

More than likely its a combination of all of the above.

So when I got in from work a couple of hours back I just wanted to find solace in some old songs and in doing so wanted to pull something together that I can listen to on trains and buses this next few days without having to concentrate too much such is their familiarity. Feel free to listen in.

mp3 : Various – The Musical Equivalent of Comfort Food


This Is Pop? – XTC
Asylums In Jerusalem – Scritti Politti
Candyskin – Fire Engines
Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Saint Etienne
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones
Town Called Malice – The Jam
Don’t Talk To Me About Love – Altered Images
Felicity – Orange Juice
No Bulbs – The Fall
Common People – Pulp
Everyday Is Like Sunday – Morrissey
Ladykillers – Lush
Kennedy – The Wedding Present
Ain’t That Enough? – Teenage Fanclub



Here’s the list of all the singers/bands who got to #1 in the Indie Singles Charts in 1987:-

Ciccone Youth, Age of Chance, The Smiths (three times), Erasure (two times), Gaye Bykers on Acid, The Soup Dragons, All About Eve, New Order (two times), M/A/R/R/S, Fields of the Nephilim and Nina Simone.

The last-named sort of sticks out somewhat doesn’t it?

My Baby Just Cares For Me had originally been recorded in 1958 for Nina’s debut LP Little Girl Blue. Despite the likes of Frank Sinatra, Julie London and Pat Boone all recording it in the 60s, this jazz song was really quite obscure until some marketing whizzkid decided it would make the perfect accompaniment to an advert for Chanel No. 5 perfume.

Such was the popularity of the ad that there was a demand for the song to be released as a single which happened in October 1987 on Charly Records, a small label specialising in reissuing obscurities and whose distribution arrangements meant its releases could qualify for the indie charts.

mp3 : Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me

My Baby Just Cares For Me went to #5 in the mainstream charts and spent 5 week at top of the indie charts. It was preceded and then succeeded by these: –

mp3 : Fields Of The Nephilim – Blue Water
mp3 : New Order – Touched By The Hand Of God

More invaluable knowledge for pub quizzes.



JC writes:-

I’ve known Mike a long time – way longer than either of us have been doing this blogging nonsense. He’s both an talented writer and photographer and the fruits of his labours can be enjoyed over at the consistently excellent Manic Pop Thrills. This coming Sunday, he’s asked me to join him at the Glasgow gig by The Blue Aeroplanes. I had no hesitation in saying yes but did mention that outwith a handful of mp3s I knew little or nothing about the band. He decided that a quick education in the form of an ICA would be worthwhile. So over to Mike….

With a career stretching back almost 36 years, Bristol’s The Blue Aeroplanes have just released their twelfth studio album Welcome! Stranger.

Formed in the early 1980s, the band have had a rotating cast of members over the years (reaching 48 at the last count) with the only constants being Gerard Langley (vocals) and Wojtek Dmochowski (dance). Yep – dance. Long before Bez was shaking his thing for the Happy Mondays, Wojtek was enlivening the ‘planes live show.

Initially almost as much an art collective a band the Aeroplanes put out Bop Art on their own Party Records before signing for Fire for whom they delivered two further albums Tolerance and Spitting Out Miracles. By the time of  the latter the band were becoming firm critical favourites and the record brought them to the attention of both the major labels and, the ultimate critics band, R.E.M.

First off they supported the Athens, Georgia outfit on their Green tour in the U.K. Indeed my first exposure to the ‘planes was on that tour but it must constitute the briefest ever performance I’ve witnessed. We literally saw the last chord of the last song which was followed by what seemed to be dozens of folk (including some members of R.E.M.) leaving the stage. We definitely got the feeling that we’d missed something!

Which was unfortunate since we had wanted to see the Blue Aeroplanes but they must have been on stage much earlier than supports normally were at the Playhouse. That’s my excuse, anyhow.

The band’s fourth album (and major label debut) Swagger is widely regarded as their masterpiece and arrived on new label Ensign early in 1990. The R.E.M. connection continued when Michael Stipe provided backing vocals on What It Is on the album. (BTW the influence wasn’t all one way – listen to Departure and even E-Bow The Letter off New Adventures in Hi-Fi and join the dots!)

With the clout of a major behind them and uniformly positive support from the press the BAs genuinely appeared to be on the brink of a commercial breakthrough. Lead single Jacket Hangs reached 72 in the charts and follow-up And Stones (with several dance remixes) got as high as 63.

Although ‘Swagger’ failed to provide the breakthrough, Ensign still had high hopes for the follow-up. The band were persuaded to include a cover of Paul Simon’s The Boy In The Bubble on the new LP but even that failed to hit the charts. Parent album Beatsong did enter the charts at 33.

At this stage the Aeroplanes still seemed one great song away from making a breakthrough and they were prioritised by their American company. But the company were taken overshortly afterwards and the promised support never materialised.

Moving to Beggar’s Banquet, 1994’s Life Model reached 60 in the album charts but once again didn’t produce that elusive hit although lead track Broken & Mended really should have done so.

The following year came their second, and final, Beggar’s LP but Rough Music failed to make much of an impact.

Their next release was an odd thing on their own Art Songs label – the 2 CD set mixed new songs on CD1 (all entitled Cavaliers Part X) and compiled rarities (some of which had seen service as B-sides in the mid -90s) on CD2. Apparently all the Cavaliers were intended for Altitude as a 12 minute suite but gained a life of their own.

The band next rather unexpectedly signed to another major label – this time EMI. A patchy LP Altitude in 2006 was followed by a label-inspired album of covers of bands that had been on the Harvest label. Inevitably neither troubled the charts.

The re-release of first ‘Swagger’ then ‘Beatsongs’ in deluxe editions with tours to support raised the band’s profile again and the band’s next release arrived in 2011 – a self released vinyl LP Anti-Gravity with an expanded double CD version only released the following year. Unfortunately its impact was diminished by limited promotion.

The band set out in late 2013 on a Singles tour which included a Glasgow date – their first in Scotland since the ‘Altitude’ tour. The concept of a Singles tour was a little odd as there was no corresponding album to promote! Nevertheless the dates were a success with several new songs debuted.

Which pretty much brings us up to the release of the new album. The campaign for Welcome, Stranger’ seems to be far more focussed than that for‘Anti-Gravity as the album was launched as a pre-release through a Pledge Music campaign. A 14-date UK tour has also been arranged to coincide with the release on 6 January.

The album is their most direct in years with fewer long songs than normal and plenty of crunchy guitars. In Sweet Like Chocolate they’ve recorded their best pop tune in decades even if it’s not an original but a cover of a garage hit by Shanks & Bigfoot! But it’s fair to say the band have dramatically recast the song and made it their own.

So the Blue Aeroplanes once again appear poised for take-off with Gerard even raising the possibility of a new album later in the year.

Anyhow (finally) here’s a 10 track Blue Aeroplanes compilation. It’s not so much an attempt to cover the band’s whole career as to provide an accessible introduction to the band so there’s a good number of singles included.

And since it’s so new I’ve stayed clear from anything from ‘Welcome, Stranger!’, although to be honest, along with ‘Swagger’, the new album is probably as good an introduction to the band as you can get.

1. Broken & Mended (from ‘Life Model’ – 1994)

With its “Hello, how are you? How’s it going?” opening line B&M is a cracking way to open both its parent LP and this collection. One of the many ‘should have been hits’ in the back catalogue.

2. Jacket Hangs (from ‘Swagger’ – 1990)

Probably their best known original song and the first BAs’ song I consciously heard. Expecting a faster tune, the song’s pacing is genius – slower than you expect but still unstoppable. It also has the distinction of never having been dropped from the live set.

3. Veils of Colour (A-side single – 1988)

‘Veils of Colour’ is a non-LP single which preceded their final album for Fire and it’s a song which must have really flagged up their potential to the majors. Along with most, if not all, of the non-LP Fire material ‘VoC’ is included on the ‘Friendloverplane’ compilation put out by Fire after the band signed to Ensign.

4. Fun (from ‘Beatsongs’ – 1991)

It’s a BAs’ tradition that Gerard doesn’t sing every song on the LPs so one of these songs also has to be included here. ‘Fun’ is Rodney Allen’s showcase from ‘Beatsongs’ and it was also released as a single in Europe.

5. Bright Star Catalogue (from ‘Altitude’ – 2006)

Whilst I’ve stuck with the more obvious material the Blue Aeroplanes can be as experimental as the next band as ‘Bright Star Catalogue’ demonstrates. One of the best songs on the album it’s only a taster for the band’s longer material which is just as compelling as the pop tunes.

6. Bury Your Love Like Treasure (from ‘Spitting Out Miracles’ – 1987)

Another classic from the indie days which still features in live sets today, ‘Bury Your Love …’ incorporates both the band’s pop and experimental tendencies.

7. You Are Loved (from ‘The Loved’ E.P. – 1990)

Lead track from an E.P. which never made a studio album although it is included on both the major label rarities compilation ‘Friendloverplane 2’ and the ‘Swagger’ reissue. Check out that riff! Despite lacking the additional promotion offered by an imminent LP release, ‘The Loved’ E.P. did chart – albeit at a lowly 91.

8. Detective Song (from ‘Rough Music’ – 1995)

The lead single from the band’s second and final Beggars LP, ‘Detective Song’ was the latest in a run of classic singles but, sadly, another one which failed to trouble the charts. The fact that there doesn’t seem to be a promo on YouTube perhaps tells its own story.

9. Breaking In My Heart (from ‘Lover & Confidante (And Other Stories Of Travel, Religion & Heartbreak)’ E.P. – 1985)

Another Aeroplanes tradition has been the cover and over the years the band have covered a long list of acts including Wire, Deep Purple, The Smithereens, St. Vincent, CCR and the Hold Steady (who clearly owe a debt to Bristol’s finest). This was an early cover of a Tom Verlaine song which has become a live fixture as the final encore (and, yes, it was the “last-chord” song at the Playhouse gig!). There are at least 3 official live versions available which are all worth searching out.

10. Pony Boy (B-side ‘Yr Own World’ single – 1991)

Another classic ‘planes tradition is the great B-side. I have a playlist on the iPod of non-LP material from the major years which is as good as most of the albums. ‘Pony Boy’ is an out-take from ‘Beatsongs’ which Gerard has described as ‘never, really finished’. Which is more than a little scary as the version that was released is still great. Was even used to close the main portion of the live sets for a while and is available on both ‘Friendloverplane 2’ and the ‘Beatsongs’ deluxe reissue. (available here )

So that’s it. Want to find out more? The Aeroplanes’ web presence has been something of a moving target over the years but can currently be found at

If you want a physical copy of the albums then the only officially still in print studio albums are ‘Cavaliers’, ‘Beat Songs deluxe’, ‘Anti-Gravity’ and, of course ‘Welcome Stranger’. See the band’s webstore for more details.However I think everything else is still available digitally and it isn’t too difficult to track down physical copies of the various studio albums and compilations if you are so inclined.

There’s also a couple of live CDs available from the band, ‘Live In Cheltenham’ and ‘Skyscrapers’, both of which I’d heartily recommend – particularly the latter for its epic 9 and a half minutes version of ‘Breaking In My Heart’.





I don’t remember ever seeing Spoon mentioned here at JC’s place. I did a little half-assed searching through the blogs of some of the regular contributors and didn’t find much mention there, either. Could it be that Spoon are new to the TVV crowd? or is it that folks are familiar with the band but don’t think they rate any notice? Whether the former or the latter, here is a survey-type ICA of the band, spanning (most of) their 20-year recorded career to date, aimed at inspiring either a first or another listen. All songs are singles unless otherwise stated. As Spoon are a VERY stripped-down minimalist act I’ll try to keep the dialog brief.

The basics:

Formed: 1993 in Austin, Texas

Members: Britt Daniel, singer/guitarist/songwriter; Jim Eno, drummer (no relation); bunch of various musicians over the years.

Band name: after ‘Spoon’ single and last track on Can‘s 1972 ‘Ege Bamyasi’ LP.

First release: ‘Nefarious’ EP (1994 Fluffy).

First LP: ‘Telephono’ (1996 Matador).

Why I love Spoon:

I’ve admitted from time to time that I am an okay bassist and a crap guitarist. It’s hard for me to get excited about buzzy new bands, or even beloved old ones, if their music is so basic that I can play it. I’m not enamored of proggy math-rock specialists and I don’t need amazing musical virtuosity to get into a band. There are numerous crucial exceptions (Ramones, for example) but, like I say, if the tune is simple enough that I know just from hearing it that I can play it, I remain unimpressed.

That said, I can’t think of another band whose songs are simpler than Spoon’s. Often they’ll just be playing two chords all the way through, or sometimes just a handful of notes. Any budding musician can pick up one of their LP’s and figure it out in a couple of listens. What does it for me is Britt Daniel’s unique voice. I love it. It’s raspy, expressive, tuneful, powerful even when he’s singing softly. With Daniel on the mic, Spoon accomplishes more in 2 minutes than other bands get done on an album side. Most of all he doesn’t hold back, he sings it like he MEANS it, and you always know it’s him. Hear for yourself:

Waiting For The Kid To Come Out : From ‘Soft Effects’ EP (1997 Matador).

Spoon had released the ‘Telephono’ LP a year earlier but, by that point, the band didn’t have its own sound. Like lots of other acts in the mid-90’s, Spoon started out as another overdriven guitar band, tinged with grunge and devolved from the Pixies. So, I’m skipping it. On Soft Effects, you get the Spoon blueprint: couple of chords, minimal drums (no fills), no effects, Daniel belting out a melodious vocal and then getting the hell out of there.

Car Radio : From ‘A Series of Sneaks’ LP (1998 Elektra).

Still so stripped down that the band drop out completely a couple of times, even though the song is only 90 seconds long. But you do get a third chord! Perhaps too limited for the masses; ‘Sneaks’ was the band’s first and last recording for a major label.

Everything Hits At Once : From ‘Girls Can Tell’ LP (1998 Merge).

Extending out here with some more instrumentation on a longer selection. This single was the first song by the band that I ever heard. I found the repetitive music and Daniel’s interesting vocals really hypnotic, and have been hooked since. I saw them on the tour for this album and liked that the band were friendly, relaxed, and certainly not taking themselves too seriously.

I Didn’t Come Here To Die : From ‘Love Ways’ EP (2000 Merge).

Around this time I read an interview with Spoon. The gist of it was that the band had been around for over 5 years, enjoyed what they were doing, but still had day jobs and didn’t expect they’d keep at it forever. Daniel said flat out that he wasn’t earning a living from his music career. It made me like the band even more because they had no expectations — they were just carrying on with what they loved doing. I don’t know, I found the sentiment really…honorable, I guess is the word.

The Way We Get By : From ‘Kill The Moonlight’ LP (2002 Merge).

This single is probably the one song people might be familiar with as it found its way into a number of films. ‘Moonlight’ also received glowing critical acclaim and appeared on many “best of” year end album lists. Still, it’s classic Spoon: two and half minutes and all you get is vocals, piano, tambourine and the occasional bass line before the drums kick in after the minute mark. If you’re going to give the band a try, ‘Moonlight’ is where to start.

Don’t Let It Get You Down : From ‘Kill The Moonlight’ LP (2002 Merge).

An album track and my personal favorite Spoon song. Stripped down to the same limited instrumentation as the previous song, there’s something just so catchy about Daniel singing the title over and over. This one seems to finds its way onto every compilation I make; I sing along, hit repeat and do it again.

I Turn My Camera On : From ‘Gimme Fiction’ LP (2005 Merge).

‘Moonlight’ got the band the notice they deserved and sold enough to let them make a go of it. ‘Fiction’ also was very-well received and the single ‘Camera’, in particular, received some airplay on the widening variety of internet radio sites and blogs, if not mainstream radio. It was even featured in a Simpsons episode. I saw them again about this time and was glad to see the band really enjoying themselves, having finally arrived after a full decade in the trenches.

Don’t You Evah : From ‘Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’ LP (2007 Merge).

Despite its stupid name Gax5 is a really fun, relaxed record that continues to grow on me. Not that you’d know it but this single is a cover tune: the song (actually titled ‘Don’t You Ever’) was written by NYC band The Natural History, which opened for Spoon on a few tours. It’s a testament to Spoon that everything they do sounds only like them.

Got Nuffin : From ‘Transference’ LP (2009 Merge).

About as aggressive as Spoon get. I’m not that fond of ‘Transference’ if I’m honest, but this single is okay and a good snapshot of the LP. There’s an American television program called Live from Austin City Limits which features loads of great acts (Beck, Radiohead, Wilco etc.). Spoon appeared on it during the tour for this LP if you want to get a sense of what their concerts were like at the time.

Rent I Pay : From ‘They Want My Soul’ LP (2014 Loma Vista).

After a long layoff while Daniel busied himself with side projects, Spoon returned with a great LP on their own label. On this single the band is instantly recognizable. The formula hasn’t changed much; simple guitar chords, unflashy drums, Daniel carrying the whole business start to finish. By now, 20 years on, Spoon had become a more refined and sophisticated version of themselves, if that makes sense.

If you like what you heard you may be pleased that a new Spoon LP is expected this year.

Bonus Track – The Divine Fits: Would That Not Be Nice : From ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’ LP (2012 Merge).

The Fits are something of an indie supergroup, with members of Wolf Parade and New Bomb Turks in addition to Daniel. Of course, with him on vocals it sounds like Spoon. Daniel has had a lot of side projects over the years, recording under the name Drake Tungsten, working with Interpol and Bright Eyes among others. In 2014 he was invited to perform in GeorgeFest, a one-off concert organized by George Harrison‘s son, Dhani, alongside the likes of Brian Wilson, Ben Harper, and Norah Jones. Daniel sang ‘I Me Mine’ and, for me, that was the highlight of the show.



Held over from just before Christmas. It’s just the sort of stuff for dark, depressing Mondays.

It’s really difficult to do justice to the story of Crass in a single blog posting. They were a band for whom music was just one of the ways to express messages about anarchism in the truest sense of the word; they were never your everyday punk band who wanted to write songs, have hits, go on tour and live life to the max. There’s a great few sentences in a very lengthy and detailed wiki entry which sum up how difficult it was to really fall for the band but how impossible it was to ignore them:-

The Crass logo was an amalgam of several “icons of authority” including the Christian cross, the swastika, the Union Jack and a two-headed Ouroboros (symbolising the idea that power will eventually destroy itself). Using such deliberately mixed messages was part of Crass’ strategy of presenting themselves as a “barrage of contradictions”, challenging audiences to “make your own fucking minds up”. This included using loud, aggressive music to promote a pacifist message, a reference to their Dadaist, performance-art backgrounds and situationist ideas.

I found it hard to really like their music other than in small doses as it more often than not was an aural assault on your senses. Nor did I ever go see them although I’m actually hard pushed to recall knowing anyone from Glasgow who actually did. But I did wear one of their badges to school, hidden under the lapel of my blazer, quoting a line from their 1979 single Asylum


It got me into a bit of bother with the teachers at the Roman Catholic secondary school I was attending, especially when I insisted it be used as the quote next to my name in the yearbook that was put together in 1981 to commemorate us all leaving. I’m thinking now that I probably would have been expelled if I wasn’t already a certainty to get to university given that so few pupils from the school at that time gained enough qualifications to achieve that. I certainly must have embarrased my poor mum and dad but at that time I was so typically self-centred and absorbed in my own little world that I didn’t notice or care.

Crass enjoyed five #1 singles in the indie charts:-

mp3 : Crass – Bloody Revolutions (31 May 1980 for 5 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – Nagasaki Nightmare (7 March 1981 for 2 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – How Does It Feel To Be The Mother of 1000 Dead? (6 November 1982 for 3 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – Sheep Farming In The Falklands (2 July 1984 for 2 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – You’re Already Dead (31 March 1984 for 1 week)

I think you’ll get an idea of what to expect from the song titles alone.  It’s far from easy listening.  Just felt like throwing a curveball today.  I can be like that sometimes.


The next single maintained the momentum reaching #11 in July 1980.

But it was a 45 which caught a lot of people out as, for the first time in the singles format, the band showed there was more to them than 1-2-3-4 post-punk pop.

mp3 : The Undertones – Wednesday Week

It was also a nightmare for daytime radio DJs in that it gave absolutely no opportunity to talk over the intro.  It’s another John O’Neill composition and is very much a nod to the 60s, akin to the mellower sounds of The Beatles and The Kinks.  I’ll own up by admitting it wasn’t one that I fell for right away but as my tastes have developed and become a bit more refined over the years I can fully appreciate it.

The b-side is another of John’s songs.  It was seemingly originally intended as a free flexidisc give away with Smash Hits magazine but when that fell through the band decided to make it available on the b-side.  It’s another song that seems to have its roots elsewhere – to my ears it’s always sounded like a speeded-up version of something that might have been recorded Johnny Cash….with extra guitar.

mp3 : The Undertones – I Told You So *

The A and B-sides come to a combined running time of under four and a half minutes.


* now with proper link







Straight lift (but with new photo) from a posting in August 2015. With a bonus P.S.

Today’s lot were near impossible to get information on.

What I can tell you is that The Clouds were formed in Glasgow in 1986 by brothers John and Bill Charnley. A song of theirs was featured as a flexidisc on a locally based fanzine which led, in due course, to them signing up to The Subway Organisation for who they recorded a one-off single in January 1988 before seemingly quitting the music scene for good.

I only heard of the band as a result of one of their songs featuring on a Rough Trade compilation CD back in 2002; the same song would subsequently feature on CD86:-

mp3 : The Clouds – Get Out Of My Dream

It was the b-side of their Subway single and it’s a decent enough bit of music without transcending into the memorable or totally special; it also says a lot that it seems to be more fondly thought of than the a-side, but I have managed to track a copy down for inclusion today. It is a sound not too dissimilar from what could be described as a rough version of Teenage Fanclub:-

mp3 : The Clouds – Tranquil

Turns out that at some point I’ve also picked up a copy of the song that came with the fanzine. I can only assume that I downloaded it from another blog at some point in time or had it sent to me by a reader as being something of interest but I haven’t kept any record of how the mp3 came to be on the hard drive:-

mp3 : The Clouds – Jenny Nowhere

It is a bit lo-fi as you’d expect from a flexidisc. And very much of its time.



The sole single also came out in 12″ format and had this additional song:-

mp3 : The Clouds – Village Green

Expect to pay upwards of £15-£20 for a decent copy of either version of the single. This is partly to do with the fact that Norman Blake was a member of the band…he played guitar and did backing vocals.  My previous suggestion of Tranquil sounding like a rough Teenage Fanclub wasn’t far off the mark………….


I know I’ve tested a fair few patiences these past two weeks with the abundance of cover versions, but it was a way of letting me ease off a bit at a time when, traditionally, the number of daily visitors tails off somewhat as those who perhaps fit a visit in as part of a routine quite rightly find themselves with other and better things to do.

As as a way of expressing my gratitude to those of you who have continued to drop in, I’ve pulled together another mix of music lasting around the hour mark – 59:58 to be precise – that I think hangs together reasonably well. The title, as is becoming a habit, lifts from one of the songs making an appearance.

mp3 : Various – Directing Traffic On The Disco Floor


Water (Peel Session) – PJ Harvey
There There – Radiohead
The Decision – Young Knives
If I Can’t Change Your Mind – Sugar
Safety Net – Shop Assistants
Good Shit – Cornershop
White Love – One Dove
Last Train to Transcentral – The KLF
The Shy Retirer – Arab Strap
Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones – The Hives
Taste the Last Girl – Sons & Daughters
Everybody Knows The Monkey – Mighty Mighty
Shine On – House of Love
Date With the Night – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Breakdown – Buzzcocks
These Things Take Time – The Smiths
Driver 8 – R.E.M.
Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

Warning : There’s a wee swear word (surprise, surprise) within the Arab Strap song. Just in case you’re thinking of playing the whole thing in the presence of young kids or those who may be offended.


Extracs from wiki:-

Faye Wong (born 8 August 1969) is a Chinese singer-songwriter and actress, often referred to as a “diva” (Chinese: 天后; literally: “Heavenly Queen”) in Chinese-language media.

Born in Beijing, she moved to British Hong Kong in 1987 and came to public attention in the early 1990s by singing ballads in Cantonese.  Since 1994 she has recorded mostly in her native Mandarin, often combining alternative music with mainstream Chinese pop. In 2000 she was recognised by Guinness World Records as the Best Selling Canto-Pop Female.  Following her second marriage in 2005 she withdrew from the limelight, but returned to the stage in 2010 amidst immense interest in the Sinophone world.

Hugely popular in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, she has also gained a large following in Japan.

Faye has named the Scottish post-punk group Cocteau Twins among her favourite bands  and their influence was clear on her 1994 Cantonese album, Random Thoughts (胡思亂想). The title track  is a cover of the Cocteau Twins’ single “Bluebeard”, while track 5 on the CD, “Know Oneself and Each Other”, covered their song “Know Who You Are at Every Age”, from their 1993 album Four-Calendar Café.

mp3 : Faye Wong – Bluebeard
mp3 : Faye Wong – Know Who You Are At Every Age

Later on, FayeWong would actually work with Cocteau Twins, recording lead vocal on a version of Serpentskirt from the Milk and Kisses LP of 1996, with Liz Fraser contributing backing vocals.

mp3 : Faye Wong – Serpentskirt




I mentioned last week about how those who influence others inevitably get the cover version treatment and illustrated it with some Leonard Cohen. This week I’m going for a band a little closer to who and whose fanatics seem to grow increasingly by the year despite there being absolutely no chance of a reformation. I did feature Maydrim and his/their take on Shakespeare’s Sister. Here’s a few more unusual takes, this time all featuring female lead vocalists:-

mp3 : VV Brown – This Charming Man
mp3 : Janice Whaley – Nowhere Fast
mp3 : Dylan In The Movies – Shoplifters of the World Unite
mp3 : Vanilla Swingers – Hand In Glove

VV Brown back in 2008/9 was being tipped for stardom by many. She was described, when she burst onto the scene as being a singer-songwriter who sounded nothing like the other singer songwriters who held sway at the time such as Adele, Amy Winehouse and Duffy, thanks to a sound that mixed R&B, electronica and cartoon pop. It also helped in the scarily sexist music industry, that she was a statuesque six-foot tall beauty who brought to mind the style of a late 70s Grace Jones. However, other than one Top 20 single and a Top 30 album back in 2009, she has never quite fulfilled the promise. This cover, with its nod to A-Ha, gives you an idea of what she was laying down.

Janice Whaley is a Californian singer-songwriter who, back in 2010, announced a plan to record, in a capella style,every song by The Smiths over the course of a year. There were up to 30 vocal layers created on the songs, depending on the complexity of the original instrumentation, and took a lot of studio time which was largely paid for by crowdfunding efforts. Some of the results work better than others.

Dylan In The Movies, named after a Belle & Sebastian song, is the non-de-plume of singer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sullivan, who is from Boston. He’s occasionally called on the services of a number of better known singers to take the lead on some songs, and in this instance, for a contribution to a Smiths tribute LP, he enlisted Tanya Donelly.

Wee bit of a trades description breach with London-based Vanilla Swingers in that there are two vocalists, only one of who is female. They comprise Anne Gilpin and Miles Jackson who’ve been active since 2008 but so far seem to have released just one LP ,this Smiths cover and a download-only EP of acoustic versions of My Bloody Valentine songs released in early 2016.



Is it really any wonder that all us adolescents fell for Siouxsie Sioux when she had been photographed ‘dressed’ like she is above

The finest moment in any of her records comes, and I use the word advisedly, at the 4:55 mark on the 12″ version of this marvellous single from 1982:-

mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Slowdive (12″ version)

A mate of mine once took that one second gasp and recorded it back to back something like 30 times in a row just so that he could imagine the punk/goth goddess was having an orgasm.

Twenty three years later, a very intriguing version of it, originally recorded for a radio session, was snuck out on a b-side:-

mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – Slowdive

As far as I know, the band Slowdive never made a cover of the song albeit they did record a song by that name as their first ever single back in 1990:-

mp3 : Slowdive – Slowdive



The rather wonderful picture for today’s piece was taken by Mike from Manic Pop Thrills during a performance back in 2014 by BMX Bandits at a now-closed tiny pub in Glasgow called the Bowler’s Bar. It was part of an event, curated by Adam Ross of Randolph’s Leap, which itself was part of an extended music/arts festival associated with Glasgow hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Click here for gig review.

I’ve waxed lyrically before about the regal status in Scottish indie-pop that has rightly been bestowed upon Duglas T Stewart. Thought I’d throw up a few of the covers versions his band have recorded over the years, along with some of the originals (you’ll hopefully understand why I balked at the last of them).

mp3 : Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – After I Made Love To You
mp3 : BMX Bandits – After I Made Love To You

mp3 : Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – That Summer Feeling
mp3 : BMX Bandits – That Summer Feeling

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us
mp3 : BMX Bandits – Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us

mp3 : BMX Bandits – Hopelessly Devoted To You



This was played at a funeral I attended just before Christmas.

It’s a song that was chosen by a good friend of mine as the final piece of music as he said goodbye to someone who had been by his side for 49 years since their first date. He and his wife had both been fans of The Kinks back in the day. It was a wonderful way to get across their love for one another and, as often happens with music at funerals, it choked me up:-

mp3 : The Kinks – Days

And yes, the early pressings of this #12 hit from 1968 did appear as Day’s, a grammatical error on the part of someone at Pye Records which must have infuriated Ray Davies.

Twenty-one years later, Kirsty MacColl recorded the songs and released it as single. Strange as it may seem, it too reached #12 in the charts:-

mp3 : Kirsty MacColl – Days

A little bit of research threw up that a few other folk have had a go at the song over the years:-

mp3 : Elvis Costello – Days
(as featured on the soundtrack to the movie Until The End Of The World, released in 1991)

mp3 : Petula Clark – Days
(released in 1968, just a matter of months after the original)

mp3 : Luke Kelly – Days
(not sure of the actual release date of this, from the late lead singer of The Dubliners; it’s proof however, that this is a superb folk as well as pop song)



The first five singles, now readily accepted as bona-fide classics which have more than stood the test of time, were all the work of principal songwriter in the band, guitarist John O’Neill.  None of them, as we have seen, quite made the Top 10.

It was all so different with the next single, released at the very end of March 1980.

My Perfect Cousin spent a total of ten weeks in the UK singles charts.  By week five, it had reached #11.  The following week it climbed one space to give the band its first, and is turned out, only Top 10 hit.  It actually went up another notch to #9 before plummeting all the way down to #29 the following week by which time the band’s second LP, Hypnotised, a record which took up exactly where the debut had ended (albeit we should all draw a veil over the pointless cover of Under The Boardwalk.)

The hit single was written by Damian O’Neill and Michael Bradley, with the latter coming up with most of the lyric which, unlike Jimmy Jimmy, was actually based on someone real. And with the lyrics being reproduced on the rear of the sleeve (which itself is a nod to the Subbuteo table football game referenced in the song), it became a manic favourite in the live setting.

mp3 : The Undertones – My Perfect Cousin

Two more b-sides for you to enjoy, albeit blink and you’ll miss one of them

Hard Luck (Again) is a four-minute plus effort and so is one of the longest songs the band ever recorded.  It starts off with a very glam-rock beat before metamorphosing into something Buzzcocks would be very proud of.  I Don’t Wanna See You Again, at just 46 seconds long, has a tune that the early Clash would be very proud of.

mp3 : The Undertones – Hard Luck (Again)
mp3 : The Undertones  – I Don’t Want To See You Again

Happy New Year. I’ll be around all week with more covers.