STOP PRESS : WYRCA UPDATE

It’s just after 5pm on Thursday night and having just got in from work I’ve had the chance to look at the blog’s Inbox. There’s an e-mail arrived earlier at 11.16am from Tim Badger….except it wasn’t. It was from Lorna, his wife.

The contents of the e-mail reduced me to tears as the words were incredibly personal and went into some detail about events and happenings of more than 20 years ago that brought Tim and Lorna together. It also reflected on something else that happened recently that was incredibly stressful for them and was the beginning of a chain of events that led to the sudden ending of WYCRA.

Those of you who were fans of what was by far the best blog on the planet will know that Tim and Lorna have had a rough time of things this past 12 months or so, experiencing a collective pain that very few of us can begin to imagine. They’ve both also separately spent time in hospital recovering from injuries and illnesses during which they demonstrated courage and bravery that would certainly be beyond me. And all the while, they, along with SWC and KC, provided us with a daily dose of entertainment that in equal measures made us smile, cry, grimace and occasionally think that blokes can be twats.

I know I’m not alone in thinking that everyone involved in WYRCA, including the boys’ better halfs, can be considered as close friends, the type who you really care about, which is why there was a real cause for concern that it disappeared without warning.

It turns out that Tim and Lorna have decided that they need to get away and relax for a bit and so, in less than 48 hours, are off to Brisbane, Australia to visit relatives for a few months. When Tim broke this news to SWC, the latter was stuck at Istanbul airport waiting for a late flight. SWC’s reaction was that the blog had to come to an end as he didn’t want to write it without Tim being involved. It was SWC’s idea to delete it. And here he is to say why….

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WYCRA was Tim’s idea, and I’m not doing it without him. Its as simple as that. I should have perhaps have mentioned it on the blog, but to be entirely honest with you, it was easier to just press delete, far easier than I expected it to be. Tim told me yesterday that we should have responded to the comments on T(n)VV, yeah he’s right, we should have done, sorry. In my defence, I have been in court for three days trying to get some scumbag rapists locked up, but that’s not that important to be honest.

I won the Snakes and Ladders you know, it was close but KC rolled a two at the end and I rolled a six to triumph and in all honesty Square 100 was a massive anti-climax because it was

Urban Futuristic by Pop Will Eat Itself

Oh talking of KC, well here’s some good news. She’s getting married. That obviously was the last chapter in her chronicle. She’s marrying a lovely chap called Dominic. She’s known him for a few years now, she met him at the recycling centre where they argued over a cabinet that they both wanted. I wish I made that up but I didn’t.

This was to be the last song she chose alongside her pieces – please don’t hold that against her.

Run – Snow Patrol

The greatest second album ever was ‘Good Kid M.A.A.D city’ by Kendrick Lamar – it really is as well.

‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

Swimming Pools (Drank)

The Art of Peer Pressure

I suppose it falls to me to thank everyone – via the medium of JC’s blog for all the comments, good and bad, for bearing with us, for reading, laughing, sharing, and all that. I suppose I’ll be back typing at some point. I mean I’ve got two more boxes of CD’s in the loft that need opening.

Take Care everyone everywhere

SWC, KC and the Badgers

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JC adds……

I’ve put this together as quickly as I could and I’m also going to leave it at the top of T(n)VV for a few days so that as many folk as possible see it. I’m going to take a few days off and will return on Tuesday 1st August.

I do hope SWC is as good as his word and comes back here with some guest postings when he gets the inclination.

I want to pass on my warmest congrats to KC and Dominic and to wish them well for a long and happy future together. I also hope KC gets an urge to keep on writing as there will always be a place for her in this little corner of the internet.

Above all else, I want to wish Lorna and Tim a safe flight to Brisbane – the city that spawned The Go-Betweens and is on my bucket list of places to see – along with a very happy and relaxing few months putting everything back together.

I’ve a glass of wine by my side and I’m raising it……to WYRCA. Thanks guys for everything.

PS : SWC won the Snakes & Ladders? I can only imagine the celebrations that ensued………………

THIS AND THAT (2)

I knew that many of you would be sharing my worries and concerns re the WYRCA team and many thanks for your thoughts and comments the other day. I will, of course, post something up the minute I hear anything. In the meantime, I’ll continue for now with the ‘This and That’ series.

Davy Henderson is one of the greatest musicians to emerge from the Scottish scene in my lifetime. He was part of the initial post-punk surge of bands, forming The Fire Engines in Edinburgh in 1980 – the story of which he tells quite brilliantly in this equally brilliant documentary. From there he would chase pop stardom with Win before forming a third band of notable significance, The Nectarine No.9 whose mix of pop, glam, punk and occasionally all out rock attracted a fair smattering of fans for well over a decade without ever making the crossover to commercial success

Their most acclaimed album was Saint Jack, released in 1994 on the reformed Postcard Records from which this is lifted:-

mp3 : The Nectarine No.9 – This Arsehole’s Been Burned Too Many Times Before

Nowadays, Davy is part of The Sexual Objects and occasionally still gives this song an airing in the live setting.

I’m staying in Edinburgh today for the second half of the feature.

I’ve featured Hey! Elastica fairly extensively on the blog over the years. As I’ve said before, they were part of that glorious age of Scottish pop that rode on the back of the critical acclaim afforded to the likes of Orange Juice. Not everyone’s cup of tea but I loved them. And discovered many years later that so did my good mate Jacques the Kipper.

Four criminally ignored singles and one LP before Virgin cut their losses and dropped the band. Hugely energetic and entertaining live, if not, it must be admitted, the most accomplished. Here’s a b-side from their final 12″ single in January 1984:-

mp3 : Hey! Elastica – That Town

JC

CHARGED PARTICLES (9)

THE GUEST SERIES FROM JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

Who’s up for a little old-fashion synth-pop, 80’s style? Fire up that Yamaha DX-7 and break out the skinny ties:

Situation: Yazoo

Locomotion: OMD

Frustration: Soft Cell

Reunion : Erasure

Reputation : Heaven 17

Telecommunication : A Flock Of Seagulls

Sorry for not including Human League’s ‘Fascination’ but its actual title is ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’. Also sorry for going with Heaven 17’s ‘Reputation’ over the more popular ‘Temptation’, but that’s the one I like better. And synth-pop royalty Depeche Mode released a number of charged particles, but none from the 80’s I like. So, by way of a bonus, here’s a tune from 1978 that’s sort of a precursor to all of the above music:

Dislocation: Ultravox

 

JTFL

THIS AND THAT

The surprise disappearance/takedown of When You Can’t Remember Anything has disturbed and troubled me. I’ve previously had some advance e-mails from SWC or Tim letting me know when things are going a bit tits-up with one or other of them and warning that there might be a bit of turbulence at the blog. Just a few weeks ago, SWC advised he was going overseas to work but that Tim and KC would be looking after things. I noticed on their blog about 10 days or so ago that KC was unwell which meant things were being juggled around a bit and then last week, when I was across in Ireland, I noticed the blog had been removed by the authors.

I’ve dropped the boys a couple of e-mails but had no replies which I find very worrying. I’d be lying if I thought I could carry on here as normal making all sorts of pithy observations when at the back of my mind, and not too far back it must be said, I’m thinking about my friends from south-west England and hoping that everything is okay.

So for the next few days at least, things are going to settle into a bit of a dull routine here at Villain Towers. You’ll get your usual Saturday and Sunday postings and the occasional Charged Particles contribution from Jonny but the daily fare from myself will just be featuring two songs, one which begins with the word ‘This’ and one which has the word ‘That’ in its title. Sometimes by the same singer or band. There will be the usual boring background info supplied but nothing that is going to tax my brain too much as I’m really not in the mood for creative thinking just now.

mp3 : Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us (orchestral version)

It was a while back when I wrote about how I fell for Sparks when they appeared on Top of the Pops in 1974. All these years on and they’re still going, probably still known best for that big hit single. Back in 1997 the band released their 17th LP, Plagiarism, in which they offered new takes on old songs with Erasure, Faith No More and Jimmy Somerville drafted in to add their vocal and playing talents to some of the songs. There were actually two versions of This Town….put on the album – one that was quite rocky thanks to the contributions of the afore-mentioned Faith No More and the one I’ve posted today which is an orchestral mix on which legendary producer Tony Visconti worked with them.

mp3 : Tuff Love – That’s Right

Tuff Love are (or maybe were)* a great little indie pop-punk band from Glasgow. Consisting of Julie Eisenstein (guitar, vocals) and Suse Bear (bass, vocals) they first came to my attention back in 2014 when they not only released a debut 10″ EP entitled Junk but seemed to be on the bill of just about every gig I got along to that year. They were occasionally a bit hit n miss in the live setting but as time went on they got more confident, polished and accomplished. Two more EPs, Dross and Dregs, were released in 2015 before Lost Map Records pulled all the tracks together a single LP, Resort, that was issued in early 2016. I saw the band in Glasgow around that time and was well impressed, thinking they would push on from there but they’ve been quiet on the new music front although they were on a lot of summer festival bills later in the year.

Looking up a social media site, there’s a message posted back in February 2017 that says:-

Hello there, just to let you know we’re doing other things just now other than Tuff Love. Thank you for all the support so far/over the past few years. See you soon. Love from Suse and Julie xx

Whether that means the band is no more or there’s a temporary break remains to be seen.

That’s Right is taken from the Dross EP. And it’s 140 seconds of magic.

JC

SAME AS IT EVER WAS

One of the reasons I began blogging was to feature some great songs that were often hard to track down thanks to them only ever being released as b-sides on vinyl that was often long deleted.

Today’s offering is an example of one such track – a piece of music by The Go-Betweens that many other bands at the time would have loved to have been able to offer up as a single rather than something that’s almost a throwaway:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Wait Until June

It first appeared in July 1988 as the b-side to the dreamy yet sinister Streets Of Your Town, which was about as close to a UK hit as the band ever got.

This song was once rare and difficult to track down. But, as would become increasingly common, later re-releases would see albums come back to the shelves and racks with bonus material, usually consisting of long-lost b-sides and live recordings from a particular era, and was the case back in 2004 with 16 Lovers Lane. Things have moved on even further with i-tunes, spotify etc. making just about everything in the back catalogue immediately accessible.

So technically, Wait Until June isn’t all that difficult to get a hold of nowadays, but there’s got to be something different about the mp3 being via a needle settling into the groove. Especially when it hits the bit that jumps and skips at the one minute mark (you’ve been warned!!!)

JC

THE XTC SINGLES (Part 20)

One look at the 7″ sleeve (pictured up top) tells me that I’m about to listen to an anti-nuclear song.

And sure enough, the second single to be released off The Big Express proves to be such:-

mp3 : XTC – This World Over

In an era when the protest song was again becoming hugely fashionable, XTC did things in a really understated way in which there was no rabble-rousing or sing-a-long chorus;  instead it’s a melancholy and resigned number that sadly looks back at the aftermath of the bomb dropping on London as a parent tried to explain the madness of it all. It’s very listenable and has dated ok, but I should add it reminds me a bit of later-era The Police.

The 12″ had an extended version of the song and was housed in a sleeve that disguises somewhat the subject nature as the sleeve uses an old-fashioned passenger request button once commonly found on buses.  But the ‘Push Once’ message is very clever and subversive:-

mp3 : XTC – This World Over (full length mix)

The same b-side was on both releases:-

mp3 : XTC – Blue Overall

It’s a bit meh… but I do accept it’s a bit unusual for a song reflecting on a relationship gone wrong.

In an era of an expanded singles chart, this one managed to find itself at #99 for one week before disappearing to the bargain bins.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #85 : EL HOMBRE TRAJEADO

El Hombre Trajaeado are probably best known as the band with whom RM Hubbert first set out.  As his wiki page records:-

El Hombre Trajeado released three albums; Skipafone (Guided Missile Recordings, GUIDE33CD, 1998), Saccade (Human Condition Records, HCCD0031, 2001) and Shlap (Lost Dog Recordings, ARFF004, 2004) before disbanding in 2005. Although the band rarely toured, they supported artists such as Nick Cave, Sebadoh, Tortoise, Mike Watt and The Delgados around the UK. They recorded three radio sessions for John Peel on BBC Radio One between 1998 and 2001.

The band have since reformed and in 2016 played some gigs before releasing their fourth album, Fast Diagonal, on Chemikal Underground Records. Three of its tracks can be enjoyed here.  They are well worth 15 mins of your time.

For today though, I’ll go back to the Glasgow EP from November 1998:-

mp3 : El Hombre Trajeado – Neoprene

JC

 

A RATHER UNUSUAL SLEEVE

The Lightning Seeds released their sophomore album Sense in April 1992. The first single lifted from the LP had been The Life of Riley which, for a pop song of such quality, disappointingly stalled at #28.

The label decided that the follow-up should be the title track of the LP, a song that Ian Broudie had co-written with Terry Hall. Again, it was another 45 tailor-made for radio play and to further boost sales it was decided that the 12″ version should not only contain a wonderfully dreamy remix of the previous single but two very fine cover versions, one of which saw Ian’s new band tackle a song by his old band while the other was a rather gorgeous piano ballad. Oh, and a gimmick was thrown in too, with the sleeve having a special strip that was sensitive to heat and when warmed in any way would reveal the word ‘Sense’ as if by magic. It worked too…although it was useful to remember to remove the actual record from the sleeve in advance so that you didn’t do it any damage.

None of which, however, led to any huge sales and the single stalled at #31 despite, as I mentioned earlier, having four songs of genuine quality:-

mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Sense
mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Flaming Sword
mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Hang On To A Dream
mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – The Life of Riley (remix)

A sunny foursome which seem appropriate for this time of year.

JC

ACTIVE WITH THE ACTIVIST (2)

The second in this occasional series in which Jacques the Kipper and my good self will offer some observations on Billy Bragg‘s LPs.  If you need a reminder, or indeed missed it when it appeared some four months ago, here’s what we said about the debut.

Jacques is going to get things going this time around……

I’ll start by clarifying any misunderstanding from my assessment of the first album. I have been an avid purchaser of and attender at all things Bragg since way back when he was shouty. I love the first album. I am a fan. (Although I am struggling with his new single. Love the politics, not so keen on the tune.)

With that, I move on to album number two in this occasional series, Brewing Up With… First, a HUGE admission. This may be the Bill album that, in its entirety, I’ve listened to least. Possibly surpassed, or underpassed, by Mr Love and Justice in recent times, but that’s about it. JC won’t be happy but I had to look back at what tracks were actually on it. This album harks back to being on the dole with no money and thus buying power. I did buy it at the time – I had after all plenty time to hunt round the many (sigh) record shops to look for it at the cheapest possible price. Truth is though, at that particular time, my friends and neighbours were not in the main listening to this particular pop-folk. Instead we were favouring men and women who banged on metal piping and the like. And Dead or Alive. (No worries though, I was about to see Buba and the Shop Assistants.)

Anyhow, on checking track listing, imagine my surprise to learn how many of my absolute favourite songs reside on this album. I must have listened to these as individual songs hundreds of time over the years and have heard most of them live tens of times. It seems therefore only fair to abandon, for 40 minutes or so, Breakfast Muff’s new release to revisit an album that I didn’t realise I loved so much.

It says here we start with It Says Here. As said above, I’ve heard this so many times that I’m finding it hard to critique. Simple but effective summary of everything that is distasteful about the Press. Prescient too given what was to happen in subsequent years with the exposure of various UK tabloid papers abhorrent practices.

Love Gets Dangerous definitely would not have gone down well with my mates of that time. Bit too conventional singalong pop. Never a favourite of mine either.

The Myth of Trust is a lyrical mini masterpiece though. JC will describe it better than I ever can.

Guitar frenzy From a Vauxhall Velox. It’s kinda over before you even knew it had properly begun. A metaphor for my love life at the time if ever there was one.

Pause. I’m about to say something that many, almost certainly most, of you will disagree with. The Saturday Boy is one of the finest songs ever written. In another Vinyl Villain piece I selected a different Bill tune as a favourite. However, this may well be THE favourite. I’d swap this for all that Bob Dylan or McCartney/Lennon have ever written. Perfect. In every way. That is all.

Then there was the one about Bill’s time in the army. The fact that he’d signed up rather than sign on used to be considered quite controversial by some in a highly political audience. There were a few spats. Oh to be so virtuous as to never have made a mistake, career or otherwise. For the record, this is an anti-war song. Nice guitar thrashing.

St Swithin’s Day soppy stuff. Lovely.

Like Soldiers Do. Nice metaphorical wordplay. Not one I often listen to. And I’d forgotten the Clash style ending.

This Guitar Says Sorry in which Bill hints at the Woody Guthrie obsession that would eventually surface.

Somewhere between the Clash and the Jam, Strange Things Happen.

As they say in that Friends thing that none of us have ever seen – this is the one about Adam and Steve. A Lover Sings is the anthem that Bill didn’t know he’d written. Still a live favourite and one we’ve all sung along to. What a fantastic way to end.

Okay, so that’s my conventional take on Brewing Up With… An album I didn’t remember I liked so much. Now, like you, I’m about to read what JC said. I’m sure he’s summarised things more eloquently and informatively. And there’s bound to be a moment (or three) where I think I should have said that…

(Addendum – there was.)

JC adds……………

Twelve months after the success of the debut album, it was time for Billy Bragg to test the waters with the follow-up. In some ways it was the same as before with left-wing politics mixed in with some incredibly personal observations on love and romance. But in other ways it was different as this record was more than just Billy thanks to some trumpet playing from Dave Woodhead and some keyboards from Kenny Craddock.

It wasn’t just the fact that he’d been getting good press that had raised his profile – the entire first half of 1984 was spent on the road most often as support for high-profile and chart acts. These included The Style Council on their first ever UK tour, and notwithstanding my brief glimpse in Edinburgh the previous August, that March 1984 gig at the Glasgow Apollo would have been the first time I saw and heard Billy Bragg in the live setting. There was also an increasing number of benefit gigs for a number of important causes that saw him on bills with the likes of The Smiths and The Redskins.

The second album was recorded in July 1984.  In the time between its completion but before its release, Billy would undertake his first tour of America as support to Echo & The Bunnymen, evidence again that he was having an impact on some of the most important and hip musicians of the era.  He, however, was determined to do things his way and not to fall for the trappings that often come with being a success in the music industry and where others sought six and drugs to accompany their rock’n’roll, our hero launched into even more benefit gigs, often to support the increasingly bitter Miners’ Strike.  These events saw him perform alongside some very fine exponents of folk and traditional music, and would go onto have a huge impact on his own songwriting and his stage manner.

Brewing Up With Billy Bragg was released in October 1984.  It contained many songs that had been written around the same time as those on Life’s A Riot but they benefit from a more confident sounding singer, a lot of which can be put down to how often and how well the songs had, literally, been road tested.

That he was seen increasingly as a political activist and agitator made it a sound and sensible decision to open the new album with one of his most obvious rabble-rousing songs.

mp3 : Billy Bragg – It Says Here

A scathing attack on the tabloid and gutter press that still resonates strongly today. It was however, one of only three outright political songs  with the other two were about life in the armed forces and the impact of the Falklands War.  The remaining eight songs on this new record were love songs; and were some of the best love songs that my then 21-year old ears had ever had the pleasure of listening to.

One of the songs really resonated with me.  And I’m sure it did similarly with any bloke who listened to it.

Everyone at some point during their school days suffered pain and misery with the opposite sex.  It was part of growing up.  Even if you were lucky enough to have the person you were besotted with pay you some attention, it was destined to end in tears and it was only years later that you realised you just hadn’t been grown-up or mature enough to really deal with it all.  But until now, nobody had ever really captured it so perfectly in words and music:-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – The Saturday Boy

Even if he’d have quit the music industry there and then, Billy Bragg would have left a legacy that we would still be talking about and praising to the high heavens thanks to the 18 songs on the first two LPs, but in particular The Saturday Boy with its story of a love that grew in double-history and its tune that incorporated the coolest trumpet solo since the days of Louis Armstrong .

The album proved also that love songs can be played at the speed and with the energy of punk:-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – Strange Things Happen

And Billy demonstrated that old punks can write the most stunning of break-up songs while owning up to being, literally, a wanker:-

mp3 : Billy Bragg – St Swithin’s Day

I really could very happily put all 11 songs up with this posting and make a case as to why they are essential listening for one reason or other.  It’s an amazing album that has more than stood the test of time – but what I do recall from 1984 were reviews that suggested Billy should stop with the love songs as he didn’t have the voice or technical ability to really do them justice.  Other writers said they admired his personal stuff but given there was a need for a highly motivated and talented political songwriter to fill a huge void then they’d rather he concentrated on the songs he that went down best at the benefit gigs for the miners, students or, CND or got the loudest cheers when he entertained tens of thousands who marched in protest at the Thatcher government’s proposal to abolish the democratically elected Greater London Council for the crime of it being a different political hue than that of Westminster.

Some even asked why, at a time of the most bitter industrial and class dispute in living memory, a song that Billy Bragg was performing to great ovations at the benefit gigs had been left off Brewing Up With.  This was the beginning of a hint at a backlash among some music writers, particularly on the hard-left, but events of 1985 and beyond would change all that.  That however, is for the next time round….

JC

PS : Today marks the beginning of my annual trip to Westport in County Mayo, Ireland.  If I’ve messed anything up in this or the next few days worth of postings then please let me know in the comments and I’ll rectify things on my return.  Just thinking that I’ve used Billy’s songs over the years to help me through some really tough and emotional times……

CHARGED PARTICLES (8)

THE GUEST SERIES FROM JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

Charity Chic Cheeky Charged Particles

When JC posted the original entry for this series the very first comment was a cheeky comment from CC of Charity Chic, in which he called me “a sensation and an inspiration and the pride of your nation!” I return those complements thusly:

Sensation: The Who

Inspiration: Grace Jones

Nation: Stranger x Stranger

JTFL

DOES ANYBODY OUT THERE NOT LIKE THIS SONG?

“Jarvis the lounge suited Romeo reminisces about his first love to whom he is now a distant memory. The thing about this song, when you strip away the melody and the soaring chorus, is that it is one of Pulp’s more powerful moments; urgent, yearning and ferocious but yet fragile, like it would fall apart if you nudged it too hard.”

I’m really proud that such a description of Do You Remember The First Time? appeared previously on the pages of T(n)VV. It was back in August 2015 when a Pulp ICA was lovingly stitched together by Tim Badger who is one-third of the ridiculously talented team involved everyday over at WYRCRA. One of that blog’s other writers – KC – also recently referenced the song in a positive fashion. I’m not sure if SWC has publicly given his approval to the tune but given that he has demonstrated such fine taste over the years it would be a major shock of he was to give a thumbs-down to this #33 hit from March 1995.

mp3 : Pulp – Do You Remember The First Time?

It was the, coincidentally, the single that enabled Pulp to crack the Top 40 for the first time and it came at the fourteenth time of asking. Every one of their singles afterwards – and there were eleven of them – charted in the Top 30, including five successive Top 10 singles when they were at the height of their popularity. I reckon it would make for a good pub argument as to which few minutes of recorded material actually made for Jarvis & co’s finest ever achievement – you only need to refer back here to said ICA to see the extent of some of the songs that would qualify for consideration.

I’d like to make the case for First Time, although it is hard to add much to the succinct summary offered by Tim. It is a song in which the memorable chorus is matched by an equally memorable and infectiously danceable tune. It has that rare quality of a tune that seems to be fading out on itself just at the right point in time only for it to  come back for once last hurrah on the back of Jarvis shouting ‘hey’.

It’s the triumph of a band who, having more than paid their dues with the flop singles and suffered at the hands of a music press that repeatedly said they’d never amount to anything, showing that they in fact held all the aces and were now here not only to clean out the banker but every single player sitting at the poker table.

Once heard, never forgotten. It’s as infectiously catchy as any pop tune written for the latest manufactured combo to emerge from a TV talent show; it’s as heavily anthemic as any rock tune from those who can sell out stadiums in minutes; it’s as indie and hip as the next underground sensation that those ‘in the know’ are tipping for stardom.

It puts a smile on my face every single time I hear it.

Oh, and quite possibly, the song most capable than any other that’s ever been written of conjuring an entirely different memory for each and every member of a listening audience.

It’s also worth highlighting that it’s two fairly experimental b-sides are also of a very high standard; the first is Jarvis at his imperiously, creepy and seedy best; it’s an epic part spoken/part sung effort stretching out to the best part of six minutes with a story line that seems to lends itself perfectly to a film noir. It’s also not a million miles removed from the sort of dark stuff Marc Almond was penning at onset of Soft Cell’s career.

mp3 : Pulp – Street Lites

The third track is something that if played to most folk unnanounced would have them struggling to correctly name the band for at least the first 90-odd seconds of what is out-and-out krautrock (or possibly even prog rock) until the familiar voice comes in.  A fair bit more rocky stuff ensues before the conclusion of the tale with its little sting in the final line.

mp3 : Pulp – The Babysitter

JC

‘THE BEST SINGLE OF THE 80s’ – BUT NOT A SINGLE TILL 1997

Debaser, the opener on the 1989 LP Doolittle, is one of the most enduring and popular songs ever recorded by Pixies.

One well-known critic loves it so much that he described it as the best single of the decade that was the 80s although it was never ever released in that format until 1997 when it was used to promote a new best-of compilation by the band.

The seemingly nonsensical lyrics are in fact based on based on what is a famous surrealist silent film from 1929. Un Chien Andalou was a collaboration between director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. It was Buñuel’s first film, originally intended for a limited showing at Studio des Ursulines in Paris, but which became so popular that it ran for eight months.

The film includes a scene in which a woman’s eye is slit by a razor, which is referenced in the lyric “Slicin’ up eyeballs/I want you to know” that is screamed by Black Francis during Debaser.

mp3 : Pixies – Debaser

While reading about things on wiki, I learned that a version of Debaser was also used in some game called DJ Hero 2 ( me neither!!);  but in a form that sees it remixed with Invaders Must Die by The Prodigy. It might sound interesting and fascinating but it is in fact shit…

mp3 : Pixies/The Prodigy – Debaser/Invaders Must Die

JC

THE XTC SINGLES (Part 19)

I mentioned a while back that I was going to run into difficulties with the series due to the fact I had stopped buying XTC singles and albums after English Settlement. I did at least manage to hear the singles off Mummer back in 1983 but by the time of the release of The Big Express the following year and later on I was hardly listening to any radio outside of Kid Jensen and John Peel and so wasn’t remotely aware of what the band were up to. As a consequence, the next three singles in this series, and their b-sides, are all new to me.

September 1984 saw the pre-album single written by Andy Partridge:-

mp3 : XTC – All Your Pretty Girls

It was released on 7″ with this b-side written by Colin Moulding:-

mp3 : XTC – Washaway

While the 12″ had this extra Partridge composition:-

mp3 : XTC – Red Brick Dream

I’m listening to these while thinking back to the singers and bands who were making waves in 1984 and realising just how of kilter these are with all that was going on. The single isn’t very good and the b-side sounds like a demo tune written by the boys of Abba. The extra track on the 12″ is probably the best of a bad lot.

There was still enough of a fan base to take the single to #55 in the charts.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #84 : EDWYN COLLINS & RODDY FRAME

It’s a great photo isn’t it? It could be captioned ‘I’ll never be man enough for you’.

Edwyn and Roddy have always been good friends going right back to the Postcard Records era, and Roddy was among the first to offer his services to play in any touring band that Edwyn wanted to put together when he finally ventured out again after his illnesses. Those gigs were memorable for so many reasons, not least hearing Roddy’s effortless takes on the old tunes.

Way back before than, in 1990, the two of them appeared together on stage during one of Roddy’s gigs to promote the release of Stray. It was at the Glasgow Barrowlands in August 1990; I believe that our dear friend Drew from Across The Kitchen Table was present that night. One of their fun-filled and laughter-inducing duelling-guitar collaborations was captured and later made available as a b-side to the CD release of the single Good Morning Britain.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins & Roddy Frame – Consolation Prize

Priceless.

JC

CHARGED PARTICLES (7)

THE GUEST SERIES FROM JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

One of the things I love about JC’s blog is that it’s wide open. Recently a reader named Jonder contributed a solid ICA about latter-day Mission of Burma, a great post-punk outfit from Boston I really liked back in the day. (It was inspired by a similar ICA of 21st century songs by Wire contributed by Mike from Manic Pop Thrills.)

I heard a lot of great new stuff on that MoB comp, and got a hold of 2009’s The Sound The Speed The Light, from which the tune Possession is taken. The other two are classics from the reissue of 1981’s seminal EP Signals, Calls, and Marches.

Devotion – Mission of Burma

Execution – Mission of Burma

Possession – Mission of Burma

JTFL