Everything But The Girl enjoyed a #13 hit in 1992 with the Covers EP, four songs that, unsurprisingly, were their takes on some classic songs originally released by Mickey & Sylvia, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper and Elvis Costello.

mp3 : Everything But The Girl – Love Is Strange
mp3 : Everything But The Girl – Tougher Than The Rest
mp3 : Everything But The Girl – Time After Time
mp3 : Everything But The Girl – Alison

I thought I’d do something similar today to commemorate the current Singles on Sunday series:-

mp3 : Joe Jackson – Statue of Liberty
mp3 : Charlotte Hatherley – This Is Pop?
mp3 : Nouvelle Vague – Making Plans For Nigel
mp3 : Erich Sellheim – Sgt Rock (der wird mir helfen)

And finally a filthy little mash up in which XTC meet Tweet (feat Missy Ellliot)

mp3 : Go Home Productions – Making Plans For Vinyl

My goodness, is that the time? Can’t believe tomorrow sees us reach June.




First of all…some info via Bandcamp.

Edinburgh duo Hugh Duggie and Ian White are ex Factory Records and ex Mute artists, and between them they were in the Wendys, Foil, and Lowlife. It is all about the electronica, and the guitars, and the songs. Think Beck, Wolfgang Press, for starters, maybe the Beta Band and even Lemon Jelly. All songs are written, performed, and produced by Ian and Hugh, for their own Brawsome Productions

Here’s Jacques…..


What do you expect when a member of best-known-in-the-90s indie band, The Wendys (by the way, they’re back – go see), teams up with a former member of late-90s noiseniks, Foil, to make music? Probably not an album that contains more hooks than Vinnie Jones’s rucksack on a wild fishing weekend. But that is indeed what has happened on Lazy Glamour, the first album by Sons of the Descent, a self-produced masterpiece of electronica and guitars. An album that only exists due to a chance re-meeting.

What follows is a whistle-stop tour. Beware though, because while there is undoubtedly lazy glamour, what follows will also include lazy comparisons. Designed only, in my defence, to allow you the potential listener who may have limited knowledge of their oeuvre to be persuaded of its merits. Originally, and obviously, I’d intended this be on the streets to coincide with the official release of the album. The fact that it’s blatantly not says much about the demands of my work in recent times. But. But. But. That extra time means the following is a considered opinion. The result of many listens. The confirmation of an enduringly good album.

In this modern world of downloads, I’m not sure if “double A-sides” still exist, but up first on the album is one of two taster tracks released earlier in the year as a download single. At the time it garnered attention from Radios 6 and Scotland and, to my ears, remains as good as when I first heard it. If you enjoy a bit of Mark E Smith style vocalising over the first of those hooks I talked about, then I reckon you’ll like Hugh imploring you to “Look At The Sky”. Notable also for the first use of “Englandshire” in a song – that I’m aware of anyway. Also the source of the album title.

Second up is the song that was available to all us anoraks through at least one well-known streaming site last year. “You Don’t Have To Know My Name” impressed me then and it has lost none of its sparkle since. Downbeat but not down beats.

“Dolphin And Elm”, as some may guess from the title, deals with paedophilia. Two separate addresses where a number of well-known individuals not so allegedly gathered for regular sexual abuse of minors. It makes me uncomfortable to suggest that such serious subject matter should make for one of the best tracks on the album, but not as uncomfortable as I feel every time I hear the sexual undertones of Hugh whispering “Can you see what it is yet” near the end. Truly disturbing.

Next up comes what used to be described as the current single. It’s worth tracking down the promo for “Situation In Your Head” as it’s so simple yet so right for this particular song. Two men with phones in a living room. Sort of. No prizes for guessing that this is a song about paranoia.

Beware – there’s another lazy reference coming. “Reports From The Colonies” is a song that immediately makes me think Divine Comedy. From the title to the singing, particularly that damn annoyingly catchy chorus. This for me is a good thing.

“Golden Misfits” on the other hand reminds me of the Stone Roses. Again, not a bad thing. Just a beauteous bundle of early 90s spaced out sexiness.

“Flighty” was the other half of that double A-side I talked of earlier. For me, it remains the better track of the two. Pop electronica twiddling with what used to be described as a soaring chorus.

“Charisma Sans Charlie” is aptly titled when you hear the bonus track on the Bandcamp version of the album. That version is avec Charlie, albeit confusingly it is singularly titled “Charisma”. I’ll leave you to guess who the sampled Charlie actually is. Honesty being the best policy, I’ll admit that I prefer the original(??) sampled version. On both, a strum and keening guitar combines with a spoken vocal. And then there’s that chorus. Hands aloft.

I saw someone compare “Harm Is No Answer” to Captain Beefheart. Being a poppy kinda guy, I’d say it’s better than that! More early 80s Cherry Red experimentalism for me. A song for which the adjective ‘scratchy’ is made.

“My Mind Will Shine” is my favourite song on the album. In some ways the most conventional song, in others not at all. There’s so much happening over the course of this. Repetitive beats yes but repeated listens, even more so. Be good to us and we’ll be good to you, indeed.

So, let me tell ya ‘ bout “Deep Sea Buffalo (Theme From “This Is The Winter”)”, which ends the physical version of the album. A splendid bit of wigging out that in days of yore would have attracted an Oakenfold remix. A real legal high to end on.

And that’s it. One of my favourite albums of this year. I can confirm that already. Oh, and all the way through the review without one use of the word ‘braw’.

mp3 : Sons Of The Descent – You Don’t Have To Know My Name

Enjoy. Available to buy here


And if you want to get a short sample of all the tracks…..



Adapted from a combination of wiki and all music:-

The Jags were a one-hit wonder of the late-70s UK power pop explosion. The quartet was formed in 1978 by the Yorkshire-based songwriting team of Nick Watkins (vocals) and John “Twink” Adler (guitar), with Steve Prudence (bass) and Alex Baird (drums). In July of 1978, they signed to Island Records and released a promising four-track EP.

Just over a year later, in September 1979, the single Back of My Hand hit the charts where it would hang around for ten weeks and reach #17.

Their debut LP Evening Standards was released the following year; it included the big hit along with its follow-up Woman’s World which spent a solitary week at #75 which I suppose means that, technically speaking, The Jags weren’t a one-hit wonder. The album featured a really solid set of punchy power pop songs, but critics focussed instead on Watkins’ Costello-like delivery, writing the band off as merely mimics. As steam ran out of the power pop craze, the band attempted to change their sound a bit. 1981’s No Tie Like the Present featured a slightly new direction, but it was generally overlooked. By 1982, the Jags had disbanded for good.

And here, picked up some years ago from a charity shop for pennies, in the good old days before vinyl came back into fashion, are both sides of the hit:-

mp3 : The Jags – Back Of My Hand
mp3 : The Jags – Double Vision

It says on the label of this 45 that there was additional production from The Buggles; as such it must be one of the earliest songs worked on by Trevor Horn.

Oh, also to say that having my young brother and his family around these past few days while they are on holiday in the UK from Florida has meant I’ve not been on t’internet for the past 5 days.  I’ll try and catch up today…and that includes any emails that haven’t as yet been read far less replied to.

Thank you.



I won’t dwell too much on today’s single as I’ve featured it before as part of my 45 45s at 45 series.

Senses Working Overtime was released in January 1982. It remains XTC‘s biggest hit, reaching #10 in the singles charts as well as helping parent double album, English Settlement, hit #5, again the highest chart position of any of their LPs.

It was released on 7″ and 12″ vinyl. The 7″ had a slightly shorter version (by about 15 seconds or so) of the lead song along with two tracks on the b-side. The 12″ had the longer album version of the song plus one extra track on the b-side. It’s a long way from the sound of Science Friction but for me, it is one of the finest pop songs ever committed to vinyl by anyone. An absolute masterpiece.

mp3 : XTC – Senses Working Overtime (edited version)
mp3 : XTC – Egyptian Solution
mp3 : XTC – Blame The Weather
mp3 : XTC – Tissue Tigers (The Arguers)

Egyptian Solution is an instrumental and was the third in the Homo Safari series (see earlier postings).

Blame The Weather is a very fine, if slightly melancholy number dependant more on piano than guitar, written by Colin Moulding that reminds me of later-period Madness.

I’m a fan of Tissue Tigers and feel it could easily have been included on English Settlement in place of one or two of what I feel are a bit filler, as you would expect when a band releases its first ever double LP

The b-side cuts today are taken from the original vinyl singles and are a bit scratchy and hissy in places. I could have gone for cleaner copies via other sources but I thought what the hell…..it’s about keeping with the spirit of the blog.



I’m going through the acts my i-tunes library for this series.  I’ll hold my hand up and say that I’d have completely skipped past today’s lot if wasn’t for the fact that Down The Tiny Steps had one song on a CD compilation devoted to indie Scottish bands.  It’s all of theirs I have in the library.

It was a CD that came out on a German label in 2006 and indeed it was only recently that I remembered I had a copy when I was going through a number of compilation CDs to add all their songs to the library (it also means that I’ve overlooked some acts whose names begin with either an A, B or C for this series…oh well, just need to start again after I feature Zoey Van Goey…..)

I don’t think I’d ever played this particular compilation since buying it – I was after it for two particular songs and wasn’t bothered about the rest. Turns out I was a fool if this is anything to go by:-

mp3 : Down The Tiny Steps – Handstand

Like a 21st century Beta Band with a touch of that folk sound so many bands have become so adept at in recent years.

Turns out others were paying attention as Matthew from Song, By Toad wrote about them back in 2007.

I’ve established from elsewhere that Down the Tiny Steps broke up in July 2009 at which point Jonnie Common decided to produce music using his real name. He’s now part of the impressive Song, By Toad record label (which back in 2007 was merely a twinkle in Matthew’s eye) and I’ve seen him play a few times and always enjoyed it.

It’s days like today that I realise I have far too much music and will never ever have enough time.



The fact that I have the long-running Saturday series focusing exclusively on music from Scottish singers or bands means I often neglect to feature some decent stuff in the midweek slots.

For instance, back in October 2013, I mentioned the fact that I had VERY belatedly discovered The Orchids some 25 years after they were at their peak and releasing all sorts of great songs on Sarah Records; it had always been my intention to follow-up that particular post with some more from the band but I never seemed to get round to it.

But here’s an effort to rectify that by showcasing the three songs that made up SARAH 23, a three-song EP from September 1989.

mp3 : The Orchids – What Will We Do Next?
mp3 : The Orchids – As Time Goes By
mp3 : The Orchids – Yawn

These really are three very fine slabs of music. Obviously had no chance of finding a big audience with the youth of the day immersed in and obsessed with baggy/Madchester. The first two tracks are along the lines of what you’d expect with As Time Goes By in particular feeling as if it would still get folk up on the indie-disco/twee dance floor. But the third is much more experimental and nature and not remotely anything you’d expect to find on the label the band were attached too. It’s also a mind-boggling seven and a bit minutes in length….which is longer than a number of four-track EPs that were being issued by a number of their contemporaries.



This song, and indeed its cover, have both featured on the blog before. But a while back it hit me that the two versions deal with very different feelings and emotions and in the case of the cover raises highly relevant social issues that have been with us for as long as I can remember and which nobody in power has ever made it a priority to tackle. But then again, that would require imagination, resources and a willingness to support and empower those who are most removed from the everyday norms.

mp3 : Soft Cell – Bedsitter (12″ version)
mp3 : Carter USM – Bedsitter

Where the original brought home the emptiness of living alone in the single-room within a multiple occupancy flat, the cover is an angrier and rawer version. Where the protagonist in the original goes between the highs of being the party animal and the lows of another night alone in a cold and damp space, the protagonist in the cover is bitter at the way life has given him a bum deal but resigned to his fate as there’s no prospect of escape. Where Marc and David had fun but knew it was a false front, Jim-Bob and Fruitbat feel nothing but utter misery.

As for the politicians:-

mp3 : Chumabawamba – Mouthful of Shit





I was desperate to catch The Goon Sax having missed out on their previous appearance in Glasgow last year. The fact that Raith Rovers had contrived to miss out on the final of the play-offs meant I could get along; if they had made it through the previous Saturday then I might have enjoyed Luke Haines a bit more but on the other hand the scheduled 5.15pm kick off in Kirkcaldy for this particular Saturday would in all likelihood have meant I’d have really struggled to get back by the time the threesome from Brisbane, Australia took to the stage. Small mercies then for supporting such a duff football team.

The band consists of Riley Jones, Louis Forster and James Harrison. Riley plays drums and sings backing vocals; Louis and James take their turns on lead vocals and also consistently swap bass and acoustic guitar with each other. They formed in 2013 and last year released their debut LP, Up to Anything, a rather marvellous 12-song collection of lo-fi but perfectly structured indie-pop songs that capture perfectly just how exciting, scary, zany and confusing life is when you’re in your late teens.

At this point I should mention that the collective age of the trio is around that of your humble scribe who is less than a month away from hitting 54. They only left school at the end of 2016. In other words, they are composing songs about their everyday lives.

They are also not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. This is a trio who would have been incredibly at home when Postcard Records came into being. The tunes are a perfect blend of the very best of Orange Juice, The Modern Lovers and  Velvet Underground, along with the most revered band ever to previously emerge out of Brisbane. Think about it – the very fact that two male guitarists take turns on lead vocals alone will draw comparisons with The Go Betweens; throw in that they have a female drummer who is an integral part of their look and sound, and who contributes wonderfully to the self-deprecating tales of awkwardness, geekiness and being lovelorn and you can’t but avoid the obvious.

Oh and of course, Louis Forster has a famous dad from whom he has inherited his looks, talent, charisma and incredible but justified air of confidence.

The thing is, it’s all very well sounding the part on record and looking amazing in all the promo videos and clips that populate the internet. It’s another thing to carry it off in the live setting where so many young bands have a sad tendency to fall short.

I’m going to steal the next few sentences from Comrade Colin’s observations on Facebook; not only does he captures it way better than I’m capable of, but I’m with him all the way on this one:-

This time next year, The Goon Sax will take over the world with nothing but catchy choruses and delicious harmonies, in a slightly shambolic and disorganised manner, most likely. They are, quite literally, the best pop band out there right now (certainly the best pop band under the age of 21). You can’t help but smile, tap your foot and adore them.

I was blown away by the trio, and I cannot emphasise enough that they are a trio and not simply a vehicle for their best-known member. All three are ridiculously talented albeit there were a few, not unexpectedly, rough edges on show with a couple of duff notes, missed beats and messed up intros. Most of the songs from the debut LP got an airing but there were also around six or seven brand new tunes played for a captivated and very appreciative audience of maybe around 250 souls.

The band was given the accolade of an encore which seemed to catch them by surprise somewhat with Louis going off stage in the direction of the make shift dressing rooms (which are highly visible from the main standing area) while Riley and James headed in the direction of the bar (which is part of the main standing area!). But one new song and one old song later, a highly enjoyable and at times magical night came to an end.

The band is in Manchester, Birmingham and London in early June. You should try to get along if you can. You won’t regret it.

mp3 : The Goon Sax – Telephone
mp3 : The Goon Sax – Sweaty Hands



The June Brides were featured as part of the 2015 series that looked back at all the songs on the compilation CD86 : 48 Songs From The Birth of Indiepop. At the time I wrote:-

“There’s a case to be made that this lot had no right to be part of CD86. They had formed in London back in 1983 and the following year saw two cracking singles released on Pink Records. Twelve months later the debut LP (albeit it only had 8 tracks including the two old songs and a cover version) came out, again on Pink Records, and went to the top of the indie charts and was one of the best-selling and most popular of the genre in 1985.

Come 1986, the year that saw the birth of indie-pop according to one OTT statement on the sleeve of CD 86, The June Brides had moved to a new label called In-Tape on which there were two further singles as well as the honour of opening for The Smiths on their tour of Ireland. However, before the year was out the band had decided to call it a day with lead singer and songwriter Phil Wilson shortly afterwards embarking on a solo career.”

My big book of indie music reveals that absolutely everything The June Brides wrote and recorded, with the exception of their final single, pre-dated 1986. They were a band who never hid the fact of who their biggest influences were, and in the same way as Jonathan Richman had paid tribute to his beloved Velvet Underground by writing a song about them, so too did Phil Wilson pen a tribute to Josef K, and in particular what he felt was the tragedy of them breaking up:-

mp3 : The June Brides – Josef’s Gone

The song was stuck away as one of the two additional tracks made available on the 12″ release of their third single and their first release for new label In Tape.

mp3 : The June Brides – No Place Called Home

It’s a fine little tune that sold in decent enough numbers to hit #3 on the Indie Charts in December 1985 but by this time the main singer and songwriter was getting disillusioned with things and the band called it a day some six months later.

Here’s the b-side of the single and the other extra track on the 12″:-

mp3 : The June Brides – We Belong
mp3 : The June Brides – On The Rocks

The use of the trumpet and viola gave the band a unique sound. They really deserved to have enjoyed far more success than they experienced. Maybe just a wee bit too ahead of their time as their sort of sound became more fashionable in the early 90s by which time Phil Wilson was working as a tax inspector.

As I’ve said before, there really is no justice in the world of pop music.



I woke up to the numbing news about the atrocity following the Ariana Grande gig at the Manchester Arena last night.

Offering opinions about music seems so trivial right now and on the way into work I was making plans to close T(n)VV for a few days as I didn’t feel in the mood for any of it, including popping in and out of the other places I try and visit on a regular basis.

But then I thought to myself that such a gesture, small and insignificant it might be, only helps those who carried out this shameful attack on young, happy and carefree music fans.  So this blog is carrying on as normal with the posts that are scheduled over the coming days appearing at the usual times – there’s even a couple of bonus posts in the shape of gig reviews today and tomorrow.

For now, and with thanks to a non-musical mate called John Egan for the inspiration, this is for everyone affected by last night, including every resident of that fantastic city and its surroundings:-





I’m sure we’ve all been there. You look forward to a show or event for months on end only for the anticipated pleasure to be ruined by something completely unrelated. Welcome to my sour-faced review of An Evening with Luke Haines as experienced on Saturday 13 May 2017.

The tickets, for myself and Jacques the Kipper, were bought some four months in advance and seemed to be a great way for us to enjoy what was scheduled to be the first weekend after the end of the football season as well as giving me something to look forward to just a few days after the last of the stragglers had gone home after the Bloggers Weekend. The problem, however, was that Raith Rovers FC didn’t follow the script, tail-spinning out of control in the final few months of the season and finding themselves in a relegation play-off, with the second leg of the semi-final being the same day as the gig.

It still shouldn’t have been an issue; after all the game was kicking off at 3pm and by the time it was over there would still be plenty of time to get down to Glasgow in leisurely fashion enjoying what, on paper, should have been a comfortable passage to the final (albeit the scheduling of the final was going to lead to different scheduling issues for both of us).

The game went to extra time and then penalties. OK, that would have made us late in getting down to Glasgow but still in time for the show albeit we would need to cut short the plans to enjoy, at a leisurely pace, some food and drink beforehand. But Rovers somehow contrived to lose the shoot out and thus suffer the ignominy of relegation to the third tier of Scottish football. It’s fair to say it put a dampener on things for us.

What I really needed to cheer me up was a quality performance from the curmudgeonly king of anti-Britpop. A show in which he sang a few songs interspersed with some scathing observations on love, live and the landscape of pop and politics in the 21st Century as he regularly dispenses via various strands of social. An evening in which some OTT grumpiness would blow away the black clouds of despondency floating above my head. But wouldn’t you know it – Luke Haines turned out to a charming, debonair and cheerful bloke on stage and not at all what I, nor I suspect most of the audience, was expecting.

There were plenty of songs, some from the back catalogue and many from the more recent solo career with a fair sprinkling from the bonkers but occasionally brilliant (and nigh-on impossible to find) concept LP Nine and a Half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and early ’80s that he released back in 2011. There was the occasional barbed comment and there was one extended reading from Bad Vibes, the first of his two autobiographical volumes. All in all, it was a very decent and worthy night.

But it just didn’t do it for me.

Yes, it was great to hear the songs and it was almost worth the ticket price alone for the book reading session (his particular targets on this occasion were Chris Evans and Ocean Colour Scene). But I came away wishing he had spent more time being annoyed and hacked off than seemingly happy and content with his lot. It turned out to be more akin to a night with Martin Stephenson (which itself is never a bad thing as folk who remember my reviews over on the old blog can testify) when I was desperate for something more along the lines of a tuneful and more sarcastic Henry Rollins.

Come back soon Luke Haines as I will ensure I’m there for a second helping. But please, don’t wear the comfy slippers this time round. Here’s three of tunes aired on the night in question.

mp3 : The Auteurs – Underground Movies
mp3 : Luke Haines – Baader Meinhof
mp3 : Luke Haines – Gorgeous George



The the film Trainspotting back in 1996 brought Iggy Pop to a whole new audience. In what is one of the most memorable opening sequences ever committed to celluloid, two of the main characters run as if their lives depend on escaping their pursuers (it would transpire they were running to evade capture after a shoplifting expedition to feed their drug habit), to the accompaniment of Lust for Life.

It led to Virgin Records, for whom Iggy had been recording since the early 90s, to re-release the single complete with video in which Iggy did his topless Iggy-dance interspersed with clips from the movie. The re-release got to #26 in the charts. I found a copy of the single in a charity shop years later for 20p…an absolute bargain given it had two live tracks and an admittedly appalling cover version making up the b-sides:-

mp3 : Iggy Pop – (Get Up I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine
mp3 : Iggy Pop – Lust for Life (live)
mp3 : Iggy Pop – I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)

Lust for Life was recorded at an outdoor festival gig in Ireland in the summer of 1993 while I Wanna Be Your Dog was from the Rock For Choice event at the Hollywood Palladium in 1995.




There’s far too much indie nonsense in these ICAs. Who needs a Fall/New Order/Jam/Clash ICA, we’ve got all their damned records anyway! Well, maybe not the Jam. Or the Clash. Or New Order. So here’s an ICA of an artist whose best work was recorded well before any of us were born, and I suspect, rather shockingly, of whom some people visiting these pages might never have heard. His majestic vocal talents inspired a whole host of other singers such as Jackie Wilson, Aaron Neville, Ben E. King and Smokey Robinson. It’s a Clyde McPhatter ICA. From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: By recasting gospel’s fervid emotionality – a style known as “sanctified” singing – in a rhythm & blues setting, he presaged what would come to be known as soul music. That’s how important a singer Clyde McPhatter was.

There’s rhythm and blues amongst these songs, more than a hint of gospel, doo-wop, some love songs, some middle of the road pop, but above all, that peerless voice, that drive and passion in the more up-beat numbers, that heartbreaking sadness in the slower songs, a voice that was a huge huge influence on so many other singers of rhythm and blues and, later, soul. (As I finished that last sentence a dog ran in front of me with a baby bird in her mouth.)

Clyde McPhatter was lead tenor in the Rhythm and Blues/vocal group Billy Ward and The Dominoes, and these first batch of songs come from that time, so here’s some rhythm and blues . These three are as good a set of examples of quality rhythm and blues you’ll hear. There’s blasts of sax that just jump out the speakers and grab your ears, that great excitement of fast r&b, it’s almost impossible to keep still whilst listening to them.

1. “That’s what you’re doing to me”

2. “I’d be satisfied”

3. “Have Mercy Baby”

Clyde McPhatter was such a great singer that he was signed by Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, who, we really should agree, knew a thing or two about good music. As good as the first three tracks are above, his songs made with the backing group he created, The Drifters, are on a whole new level. The music here is a bit more sophisticated, there’s more variety, you here shades of rock and roll, blues and doo-wop. And there’s more than a hint in Clyde’s vocals on “Lucille”, I think, of how he could have developed as a soul singer.

4. “warm your heart”

5. “whatcha ya gonna do”

6. “Bip Bam”

7. “try try baby”

8. “Lucille” (not the Little Richard song)

(After playing Bip Bam at stupendous volumes you will of course be thinking that you’ll not hear a better song all day. And you will be wrong.)

As a solo artist Clyde McPhatter’s songs became much more pop-oriented as he tried to reach for a wider audience, not always met with great success. But there are some fine fine moments from his solo career.

9. “Treasure of Love”.

10. ”A lover’s question”

(And now you have realised that Treasure Of Love is the song that is even better than Bip Bam)

Clyde McPhatter is known for his voice, so why in the name of the sweet Lord did the producers of so many of his solo records drown it out with over-the-top big band orchestration, and backing vocals that overwhelm not complement. It might, though, also be attributed to his alleged desire to make records in the style of Perry Como. His solo output really suffers from a poor selection of song. So really, it was almost all over after 1954, when he left The Drifters behind and went his own way.

He never made the transition from R&B to soul like, say Jackie Wilson or Bobby Blue Bland. The songs are those of crooners, there’s no feel to the music, it’s catastrophically poor middle of the road late 50s early 60s pop. It’s disastrous. His voice lost that great joie de vivre, that great passion, on those records, with The Dominoes and The Drifters.

And here’s a bonus track, back to his time with The Drifters:

11. “everyone’s laughing”

A slower and remorseful R&b track to finish the set. To my way of thinking, this final song showcases the vocal talent that was so sadly underused and wasted in that solo career.

Clyde McPhatter died aged 39, in 1972.



One that I had to go and pick up from Discogs. And it wasn’t that cheap once I added P&P.

Respectable Street was and remains one of my favourites songs on Black Sea. It’s the opening song on Side A and it sets the tone for what turned out to be, at that point in time, the most tuneful, accessible and witty album by XTC. I loved the old-fashioned, crackly way that the song opened before bursting into a superb riff and, unusually, straight into the chorus before the first of the verses having its sly dig at behaviour in suburbia. But it had no chance of being a single thanks to a few ‘naughty’ words like contraception, sex-position and abortion, not to mention a couple of product placements for Cosmopolitan magazine and Sony.

Turns out the clever folk at Virgin Records had anticipated this and so had asked Andy Partridge to re-write some of the lyrics and replace some of the possibly offending words that could lead the BBC to refuse to air the song. The move turned out to be a waste of time and money as the different version still didn’t get played and the single flopped completely on its release in March 1981.  I still reckon much of that was down to forgetting to replace the product placement stuff:-

mp3 : XTC – Respectable Street (single version)

It wasn’t a 45 I bought at the time as, being of age when such things mattered, I hated the idea of the censored lyric. Turns out that it wasn’t included on the Waxworks compilation which is why I had to send off for it. The b-sides weren’t includes on Beeswax, the companion album to the compilation and so I never heard either of these songs until 36 years after their release:-

mp3 : XTC – Strange Tales, Strange Tails
mp3 : XTC – Officer Blue

The fact that this was the fourth single released from Black Sea and it managed to yield two new songs as b-sides when a previous single had relied on a live track should set alarm bells ringing. This was reaching down into the bottom of the barrel and scraping away. The band have publicly stated that they are among the worst things they have ever put down on vinyl.

The former sounds half-finished from a lyrical point of view and the tune veers all over the place as if it’s a jam gotten out of control. The latter is actually not all that bad in the grand scheme of things, but I suppose when you’ve been spoiling fans with the quality of the songs on the two most recent albums it will feel as if you’re now offering something a bit second-rate.



Dot Allison first came to prominence as the vocalist with One Dove who enjoyed a fair degree of success in the early 90s with a sound that sought to provide a cross between club music and electronic pop. If I can be allowed to be lazy, think along the lines of a Scottish St Etienne.

The band broke-up in 1996 some up three years after the release of their only LP but it would take until 1999 before the singer’s solo career got underway with the LP Afterglow which yielded no fewer than six singles from ten tracks, none of which were commercial successes. This was one of the singles:-

mp3 : Dot Allison – Mo’Pop

She remained a very active musician throughout the first decade of the new century, working in diverse areas either as a solo artists or in partnership with others. Among her credits are vocal and writing contributions with Death In Vegas, Massive Attack, Pete Doherty, Bobby Gillespie and Hal David. Her last release would appear to have been the LP Room 7 1/2 back in 2009.



Where would we be without wiki? I certainly would be struggling for enough info and material pertaining to whatever song or act plucked from random to be on these pages on whatever day.

It was only by consulting the on-line encyclopaedia that I learned the following:-

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick is the 90th best-selling UK single of all time (as at June 2013)

– The music was inspired by the distinctive piano part of Wake Up and Make Love To Me, an earlier Ian Dury & The Blockheads song

– Some of the lyrics were from as far back as 1974 but the majority were written in 1976, more than two years in advance of its recording and release

– There were 11 separate takes of the song recorded but the one eventually chosen was one of the earliest

– Producer Laurie Latham was never happy with the mix selected as, in his view, there was too much piano and vocals and not enough bass; he’s since said however, that such blemishes are probably what made the song so catchy and memorable

– The song was recorded as live with all the Blockheads placed in different positions across the studio

Stiff Records announced that they would delete the song as soon as it hit 1,000,000 sales; it turned out that 979,000 copies of the 7” and 12” were sold in late 78/early 79 and the millionth copy wasn’t until many years later in the digital era

– It was initially kept off the #1 spot in the charts by YMCA

– The choice of b-side  – There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards – was deliberate so as to provide royalties to one of Ian Dury’s old writing partners in Kilburn and The High Roads

– The song was also recorded as a duet in 1994, with one half being a legend of German alternative music.

It is one of the most memorable, engaging, enduring and enjoyable singles of the era. One that appealed to music fans of all ages and with all tastes. And one of the few songs in which I don’t mind the sax solo.

mp3 : Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
mp3 : Ian Dury & The Blockheads – There Ain’t Have Been Some Clever Bastards
mp3 : Freaky Fukin Weirdoz & Nina Hagen – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick



A few days back I was flicking through You Tube looking for a vintage Jonathan Richman clip from a Whistle Test appearance when I found this:-

TOTP 2 was a show that used to fill up time on the schedules of BBC2. It was basically clips of old Top of the Pops shows from the 70s and 80s with the occasional new song thrown in. The fact that they showed a clip of Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers performing New England in April 1978 baffles me. The song never made the Top 75 and yet seems to have been recorded and aired. Unless of course the recording was made while the band happened to be in London and kept for use in case the song did become a hit. I was an avid viewer of the show in the 70s as it was just about the only music shown on TV in those days of just three channels and I don’t remember seeing the clip before finding it on t’internet. Does anyone recall differently?

Anyways, I love this particular song. There’s something utterly joyful about its sentiments and the tune matches it perfectly. I don’t own a copy of the single but both it and its b-side can be found on the Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers LP from 1977.

mp3 : Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – New England
mp3 : Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Here Come The Martian Martians

Great fun.

Oh and I did also find the clip I was hunting for. It was shown on Whistle Test at some point in the 80s and captures perfectly the sheer enthusiasm of Jonathan as a performer.





I had mostly stayed off the drink at Butcher Boy and TeenCanteen as I had an early start the next morning, down to Manchester for the third and final gig of the action-packed weekend.

It was only the fact that Jonny the Friendly Lawyer, is bass player with The Ponderosa Aces (where he goes by the name of Jonny Bottoms) that made me decide to venture south on the National Express bus for the first time in at least 30 years (the trains were off as a result of engineering works and this was the easiest way to go).

To be perfectly honest, I went down regarding the gig as secondary for it was all about hooking up with JTFL. I’ve already mentioned in a previous post how much fun the hook up proved to me and how it was the prefect appetizer for the then upcoming Bloggers’ Weekend. I also did a short posting on Facebook in which I described the meeting as providing a really satisfying feeling thanks to Jonny being a highly talented and very funny man and also said The Ponderosa Aces were a mighty fine outlaw country music combo. This post is about the gig itself rather than anything else.

The venue was Gulliver’s a cracking old boozer on Oldham Street, nor far from Piccadilly and just a little bit further up the street beyond the legendary Dry Bar where a drug-addled Shaun Ryder once went amok with a pistol in a fit of rage with high-heid yins at Factory Records. I was in the company of a long-time friend Ian who lives in nearby Rochdale and who was putting me up overnight afterwards. The thing is, I’d never let onto Ian in all the 20+ years I’ve known him that I had a music blog until explaining why I was coming to watch a country band in a city more than 200 miles from home and having to take a day off work afterwards to fit it in. Jonny was quite bemused that I kept word of the blog so low-key…..

But I digress (again)!!

The venue at Gulliver’s is upstairs from the bar. It has a capacity of 150 inside a grand high-ceilinged room with a proper, raised stage that made for great sight lines and even better acoustics. There was an enthusiastic and highly knowledgable crowd inside which was no doubt a joy to the Ponderosa Aces given they are fairly well-known in their home state of California and are gaining a reputation slightly further field in Texas, but for the most they are an unknown quantity in the UK; after this particular tour I would suggest they won’t be a secret for much longer.

Fans had travelled from many parts of the north-west and further afield, including three people from Belfast with tonight’s gig being the closest to their home city, with everyone having a great time as the band proved to be a ridiculously talented four-piece (they are normally five-strong but the pedal steel player didn’t come on the UK tour).

I can’t claim to be an expert on country music. I don’t own much beyond Johnny Cash although growing up in Glasgow and being present at family gatherings has long exposed me to all sorts of renditions of songs recorded originally by Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Kenny Rogers, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard among others. Many of my own favourite indie-era stars have incorporated country styles into a number of their best known tunes while of course the likes of Elvis Costello has gone much further. So it wasn’t as if I was being exposed to something that was completely alien.

But nothing prepared me for just how great a band the Aces proved to be. Jonny has written on here before about how he was blown away by the welcome he got from singer Mike Maddux, guitarist Hoss Griggs, drummer Arthur Rodriguez and Steve Meitzer on pedal steel when he showed up firstly to audition and then to rehearse, but more so by the fact the guys were, in Jonny’s words, ‘monster musicians’.

Believe me, that doesn’t come close to doing them justice.

It was a fantastic set that chugged along at a fairly frantic pace for the most part. To these ears, it was if Prefab Sprout had turned up and decided to do an entire set around variations on their song Faron Young. I was especially blown away by Hoss’s perfectly effortless guitar playing which was such that Roddy Frame alongside him would have looked like a beginner…and I’m not exaggerating. I’ve long said that you can judge how well a set has gone down by the number of folk at the merchandise stall afterwards and it looked to me that most went home after picking up a copy of their most recent LP Honky Tonkin My Life Away that was released last year and/or a t-shirt.

It’s also worth mentioning that I was lucky enough to enjoy a pre-gig chat with the band and they’re up there with the likes of the two Davids (Kid Canaveral and The Wedding Present) as being the nicest musicians out there performing.

The band played a few new songs that they will be recording in due course for an LP either later this year or into next; these will be the first on which Jonny appears* as the previous LP had the now departed bass player in the studio with them. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy in due course. But for now, here again are two great songs from the current canon:-

mp3 : The Ponderosa Aces – Make Things Right
mp3 : The Ponderosa Aces – Judgement Day

The band have given an interview back in the States describing the entire tour with great and often funny insights into what went on.  Click here for a read and more images.  (It floored me somewhat as I was described in the article as a ‘Scottish music writer’.  That’s another life-long ambition realised!!!!)

*I should mention that this will not be the first time Jonny’s skills will have been captured on vinyl as I found out when we hooked up. But that’s a story, and a review, for another time.




I feel after 12 successive guest postings that I should have another go myself.  The last time I had such a quality run like this I took on the task of an ICA for R.E.M.  It’s history repeating….

There’s a lot of amazing stuff being posted out there in the little corner of the internet occupied by the those folk to whom you can easily visit by clicking links over on the right hand side of this place. Fans of R.E.M. should be particularly delighted with a new series launched a few weeks ago by The Robster over at Is This The Life?

“Over a period of several years I acquired all manner of rare and unreleased gems from market stalls, record shops, mail order, the fan club and, later on, the Internet trading community. I’m going to post all manner of things from my stash in the coming months for as long as you remain interested.”

There’s been four postings in the series thus far, all of which have been of the utmost quality. Some of the versions offered in the first few weeks indeed have been superior to those available via studio albums or previously available live/alternative versions.

As a way of saying thank you, I thought I’d have a stab at a second ICA for the band. The last time round was a posting that I took a great deal of time and care over, and it was only completed thanks to the imposition of a combination of rules including that I couldn’t include singles, I was restricted to one track from each album (or a b-side from one of its singles) and that all tracks had to feature the legendary Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe line-up.

To my immense relief and satisfaction, the ICA was very well received with suggestions that I have a go at Volume 2 and not to let the rules get in the way. It’s taken a while and I make no apologies for that as I’ve had to cut down what was a very extensive list down to just ten. It’s an ICA which I think contains a few surprise selections but the thinking all the way through wasn’t to just pick out ten great tunes for the sake of it but to forge something that would make for a second volume that worked across across both sides of the would-be vinyl without being predictable.


1. FINEST WORKSONG (from Document, 1987)

Tempting as it was to go for the Mutual Drum Horn mix for something a little bit less known, I couldn’t pull myself away from the original version that opened up the LP that introduced the band to a bigger audience than before. Oh and of course, it also provides the sub-title of this ICA.

This was a big and thumping introduction to a record that in sound and production was a fair way removed from what had come previously. It was almost as if, having quietly delivered, some would say murmured, a number of softly sung and beautiful sounding protest songs up until now, Stipe was determined to make sure that his voice was going to be heard this time round. And nobody should doubt that he was angry and wanted his fans to rally with him.

2. (DON’T GO BACK TO) ROCKVILLE (from Reckoning, 1984)

I wrote about this track at length in December 2014 and am happy to repeat what I said then.

A sad tale of long-distance love told over a quite exquisite tune that can’t quite make its mind up if it is indie, pop, honky-tonk or country.

Such is my belated love for this track that on the only occasion business has ever taken me to the Washington DC (it was back in 2002 and I was delighted to learn that the conference venue, which was where I was also staying for three nights, was the Watergate Hotel), I used a spare afternoon to hop on a commuter train out to Rockville, where I had a walk around for about an hour and took some photos.

There are days, and many of them at that, when I think that this is my all-time favourite R.E.M. song. I know that many folk out there feel exactly the same way.

3. MAN SIZED WREATH (from Accelerate, 2008)

There’s very few who will speak out in favour of Around The Sun, released in 2004 to the most unfavourable reviews and really poor sales. Even the band members were quick to dismiss it once the obligatory promotional efforts had been dispensed with and the fact it took the best part of four years for the next material to be released showed they were determined not to repeat the mistake of making a boring sounding record by a bored sounding band.

Supernatural Superserious was chosen as the comeback song, its online release in February 2008 pre-dating the new album, Accelerate, by around six weeks.  It was a bit of a worry as it sounded as if it had a riff based on Since You’ve Been Gone by Rainbow.  But over the ensuing period, as the band did some promo work, more of the album tracks got an airing.  My ears pricked up a bit when I heard Man Sized Wreath and while I’ll be the first to admit that in the overall canon it is a long way from the everlasting quality of the earlier material it was just a relief to hear the band sounding energised once again and for that alone I’m happy to include it within this volume and it fits in well with the overall feel and tenure of this ICA.

4. MUNICH (live) (from Radio 1 Live Lounge, 2008)

The promotional work for Accelerate saw the band members do a few things they hadn’t for a few years. On 26 March 2008 they went into the live lounge of BBC Radio 1 where they played a version of the first single from the new album (see Track 3 above), talked about their upcoming gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London and, in keeping with the tradition encouraged by the live lounge production team, played a stripped down cover version.

The song they chose was Munich, a single that had been released by indie-guitar band Editors back in 2005. Each of Stipe, Berry and Mills had declared themselves fans of the UK band who weren’t all that well-known outside of Europe having tried but failed to crack America. Whether it was a back-handed compliment to the fact that Editors had put a well-received cover of Orange Crush on an earlier b-side or the fact that the lyric of “People are fragile things, you should know by now. Be careful what you put them through” resonated so much with the band on the back of the criticism of Around The Sun only they themselves know. Think of it as the delightful little oddity that is necessary to help with sales of second volumes of compilations.

5. MAN ON THE MOON (from Automatic For The People, 1992)

One of the big sing-a-long hits really has to be included. I shied away last time round but refuse to do this time. It would be disingenuous of me to ignore just how massively popular the band became as the 90s dawned on us just because they are the songs that took them into arenas and stadiums, justifying the high-price contract offered by Warner Brothers. Let’s be honest and frank about it. If R.E.M. had remained something of a cult act throughout their career, then a song which celebrated the life and times of a recently deceased comedic actor who was the very definition of cult would be seen by many as the height of cleverness and indeed genius. Lyrically and musically, this is a great song that no amount of sing-a-long audience participation, or indeed guest vocal contribution from the bloke out of Coldplay*, could ever ruin.

(NB:  this was written long before KC’s ICA of last week; it’s just taken a long while to get round to posting it; honest!!)


1. ELECTROLITE (from New Adventures In Hi-Fi, 1996)

The closing song from the final album recorded by a four-piece R.E.M. has long been one of my favourites. It’s a song that seems to perfectly draw that particular era to a close but perhaps stripped of that context and its particular placing on that particular album runs the risk of not working within an ICA.

The band was, of course, no strangers to including piano-led ballads within their albums but what makes this a cut above the others is that a seemingly simple sounding tune conveys an epic and seemingly metaphorical lyric, one which says goodbye to both the 20th Century and their ailing drummer. Sublime and beautiful in equal measures.

2. WALK UNAFRAID (live) (originally from Up, 1998)

Up was always going to be a difficult album to come to terms with, being the first without Bill Berry. There were many, particularly among the critics, who thought that the band should have called it a day when one of the original members was forced to quit because of concerns around his health. It was a million miles away from the very early R.E.M. and a million miles away in the other direction from the platinum-era R.E.M.

And yet, it’s an album that in many places contains some of their most compelling material from any part of their career, particularly the clearly autobiographical Walk Unafraid in which Stipe acknowledges and indeed celebrates his transformation from timid frontman to articulate spokesman for the disaffected and deeply concerned. I wasn’t convinced by the song as it appeared on the new album – the tune didn’t quite somehow back up the message – but the spunkier and more defiant version I first saw and heard in Manchester in 1999 on the promotional tour for the album, and which was replicated in the live CD/DVD from gigs in Dublin in 2005, is more like it.

3. GARDENING AT NIGHT (from Chronic Town EP, 1982)

It’s now 35 years since this particular song was first heard by the general public, thanks to its inclusion on the Chronic Town EP. Rumoured to be the first original song they were ever truly happy with, it’s clearly one that is of huge significance to the band as evidenced by:-

– the original version has been added to with three other takes of the song, all from the early days, being included on various compilation albums that have been released over the years
– it was performed during the band’s induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2007
– there have been five live versions made available through official releases
– the song title also inspired the name of the band’s publishing company, Night Garden Music

I do fully accept that the production makes this song very much of its time, but it does more than hold its own with so many other of the classic releases from that classic jingly-jangly pop era and it still fills the floor at indie gatherings for folk of all ages.

4. SO. CENTRAL RAIN (from Reckoning, 1984)

“Go build yourself another dream, this choice isn’t mine
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry”

Gut-wrenchingly beautiful. At a time when Morrissey’s songs of a love gone wrong were taking much of the UK by storm, here was an example of the genre from the other side of the pond that was equally brilliant.

5. KING OF BIRDS (from Document, 1984)

I don’t know why, but I have more problems selecting the final track on my ICAs than any other. It’s that need to identify and choose the killer song that would make the listener want to go to their turntable to flip the vinyl back to Side A for a further listen while recognising that most studio albums don’t finish with a track that was selected as a single. The secret of any success in closing out an ICA is to use something of a hidden gem. I think I’ve succeeded here……………………..

Once again, I’ve left off so many that I really wanted to include. I reckon I could churn out at least three more volumes and still not be close to completing the task of offering up essential R.E.M songs but given how hard it was to nail down Vols 1 and 2 then I’m going to draw a line.**

But please, feel free to offer up your own version if you’re so inclined.


*why I’m not fond of Man On The Moon played live – here’s the version with Chris Martin as recorded live in London in 2004 at a benefit gig for the OXFAM charity

**I reserve the right, in the very fullness of time, to compile Vol 3 solely on the tracks being offered up by The Robster.




There wasn’t much time to waste following the conclusion of the Butcher Boy gig. After saying thanks to the band members, and taking my leave of Stuart Murdoch (yup, the very one!!) who had been seated next to me throughout, it was a two mile train trip into the city centre and then a haul up the hill to Nice n Sleazy’s to see if I could blag my way into the TeenCanteen gig that was also a special part of RSD 2017.

I never leave things to the last-minute but in this instance there were some plans that may or may not have seen a crowd of us going along to Sleazy’s or maybe to other events in the city that evening and nothing could be determined or finally decided till late on.  In the end, circumstances dictated not everyone could be part of an extended stay and by the time arrangements could be firmed up I was annoyed to find that there weren’t any tickets left for the show featuring Glasgow’s most dynamic all-girl pop band.

Luckily for me, there was a single return on the door and I was able to get myself inside where I would be in the company of Aldo and Jondo, both who had been seated on the other side of me at the BB gig, along with Gary who is a mate of Aldo’s and has long been a champion of the band along with many other emerging talents within the wider Glasgow scene.

TeenCanteen have always been a joy to watch and listen to but there was something a bit special about this performance which elevated it higher than any others I’ve been lucky enough to witness previously. Maybe it’s down to the fact they have been together now for an extended period and that they have been receiving near unanimous critical acclaim with each release. It could also of course be linked to the fact that Carla Easton has also been lauded for her work with Ette whose album, Homemade Lemonade, was my favourite release of 2016. Her stage presence, manner and confidence is way beyond what it was from shows of a couple of years back, but the very same can also be said of her sidekicks Sita Pieracinni, Chloe Philip and Debbie Smith. The new songs from the Sirens EP which was being officially launched at the gig proved to be majestic while the older material packed a punch that I thought had occasionally been lacking in previous outings.

A previous review of the band saw them described as part wall-of-sound and part-Postcard records. Whoever it was coined the description has nailed it. Great vocals above great booming pop tunes but with the odd touch of fragility and cuteness that made early Orange Juice such fun to listen to. Oh and there’s a fair bit of Clare Grogan in there too…. Entry to the show also came with a copy of the new EP on 10″ transparent blue and red vinyl with white splashes and it’s a piece of vinyl treasured every bit as much as many of my other bits of plastic from waaaaay back.

The show was a huge success, leading to demands from an appreciative and adoring audience for an encore, something which clearly thrilled the band; it’s been years since I’ve seen a group come back on with such wide grins and expressions of delight.

mp3 : TeenCanteen – What You Gonna Do About Me?

TeenCanteen deserve to be massive pop stars, appearing on network TV shows the length and breadth of Europe and further afield. But as we all know, genuine talent rarely gets what it deserves. Next month sees the band play a huge show, opening for The Divine Comedy at the 2,500-capacity Kelvingrove Bandstand here in Glasgow. Neil Hannon and his mates will need to be on their finest form to stay in front of the support act…but for those of you who have tickets, you’re in for a real treat the entire night.