A COVERS EP (x2)

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.

JC

INTRODUCING : SONS OF THE DESCENT

A GUEST POSTING FROM JACQUES THE KIPPER

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…..

DESCENT INTO GLADNESS

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

Jacques

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

JC

ANOTHER ONE-HIT WONDER FROM THE NEW WAVE ERA

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.

JC

THE XTC SINGLES (Part 13)

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.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #77 : DOWN THE TINY STEPS

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.

JC

MORE GLASGOW INDIE….BUT FROM SARAH RECORDS

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.

JC

SAME SONG CONVEYING DIFFERENT EMOTIONS

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

JC

BONUS POST : DID THEY CUT THE MUSTARD IN 2017? #8 : THE GOON SAX

SATURDAY 20 MAY : THE GOON SAX

MONO, GLASGOW

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

JC

A C86 BAND WHO BROKE UP BEFORE THE GENRE WAS INVENTED

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.

JC

ON MANCHESTER

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:-

JC

BONUS POST : DID THEY CUT THE MUSTARD IN 2017? #7 : LUKE HAINES

SATURDAY 13 MAY 2007 : LUKE HAINES

THE HUG & PINT, GLASGOW

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

JC

RE-ISSUE, RE-PACKAGE TO CASH IN ON NEW EXPOSURE

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.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #126 : CLYDE McPHATTER

A GUEST POSTING FROM GEORGE FORSYTH

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.

GEORGE

THE XTC SINGLES (Part 12)

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.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #76 : DOT ALLISON

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.

JC