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