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