IMPOSSIBLE TO CATEGORISE?

dEUS

Sometimes the free CDs/records/tapes that are given away with magazines work in that a listener might pick up an interest in a singer or band for the first time. Hasn’t happened to me all that often, but one such occasion was back in 1994.

It came courtesy of a tape entitled The Radio 1FM Sessions that came with the November 1994 edition of the now long-defunct VOX magazine. Among the 15 acts included was a Belgian band called dEUS, named after a song by an Icelandic band (Sugarcubes) with the track being a session version of a single that was also on their debut LP Worst Case Scenario which had come out on Island Records.

I was struck immediately by how unusual sounding the band were and made a mental note to keep an eye out for them. A few months later, I picked up second-hand copies of two singles and said debut album, all on CD, guessing that someone had taken an earlier chance on them but not found them to their taste. After playing the album I could see why as it was genuinely impossible to categorise them or indeed find a commonality among the songs  It was a perplexing album to listen to. I’ve found a review from back in the day which captures the way I felt back then:-

“This five-piece rock outfit from Belgium are destined either to become the trendiest toast of 1994 or forgotten by the year’s end as the naffest thing to come out of their homeland since Plastic Bertrand. With an erratic musical identity located somewhere between John Cale, Captain Beefheart and Sonic Youth and a 15-track debut album which veers effortlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, they have a truly unique appeal. That this appeal is often so powerful is thanks to a fresh, uninhibited approach to playing and arrangements, and a core of stunning songs ranging from the delicately acoustic, soul-twisting Right As Rain to the clattering, chaotically charismatic Suds & Soda. They get too way out weird occasionally, as on the erratic, art-rock meandering of Morticia’s Chair, but never go so far that they can’t be saved by a track like the album’s best, the mesmeric, alternately tense and soaring Hotel Lounge. And they sing in English too.”

But overall, I couldn’t really get myself immersed into the album, albeit, as the review indicated, the two singles I’d also picked up were among the highlights (and the latter is still mesmeric, tense, soaring and bloody brilliant):-

mp3 : dEUS – Suds and Soda (single version)
mp3 : dEUS – Hotellounge (Be The Death Of Me)

I’ve never bought anything else that the band have ever released. Indeed, I don’t even have a copy of the debut CD anymore and have no idea how it went missing. It could of course be in a storage box under the stairs by mistake and I’ll come across it again in years to come when it is finally time to move out of Villain Towers (been here since 1995 and unlikely to move until I’m physically incapable of climbing stairs); if I do it will seem like an ancient relic. And I probably still won’t quite get it.

dEUS are still going strong all these years later. There’s plenty info over at this wiki page.

Oh and the b-sides to these two singles are available on request.  Or if enough you demand it, as a bonus posting in due course.

JC

 

CURSED BY HEALTH ISSUES

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The Vines, for those of you who remember or care, made a really big impact in 2002-2004.  I thought that was their entire time in the sun but it turns out they are still going strong.

They are from Sydney in Australia, and while their commercial breakthrough happened just after the turn of the century they had first got together in 1994 as teenagers, consisting of Craig Nicholls (guitar and vocals), Patrick Matthews (bass) and David Olliffe (drums). They seemed to appear out of nowhere in 2001, having rarely been mentioned even by the Australian press, when a small UK indie label, Rex Records, put out a 7″ single featuring a demo version of a track called Factory. The single was given a huge write-up in the NME and in due course the paper began to champion the band which in turn got them a deal on Heavenly Records.

The next single, Highly Evolved, clocked in at just over 90 seconds and was an NME single of the week in March 2002 while the release of the debut LP with the same name was met with huge critical acclaim – one summary said “It’s rare for a band to channel the Velvet Underground, Nirvana, Dandy Warhols and the Beatles within the span of 45 minutes and sound unique, but the Vines have crept into that select category with Highly Evolved.” It was the Nirvana comparisons that got many excited thanks to the often raspy vocal delivery and erratic on-stage behaviour of the frontman.

Two years later, the follow-up LP Winning Ways was released. This time the reviews weren’t so kind despite, or perhaps because of,  it being similar sounding to the debut. Craig Nicholls wasn’t happy with things and his behaviour during promotional activities and on stage was of increasing concern – there was even one piece in a magazine which suggested he was going the same way as Kurt Cobain and his life was likely to end just as messily.

In November 2004, following his arrest after an incident in Sydney, he revealed during his court appearance that he had Asperger syndrome, a condition that was confirmed by medical specialists. His treatment and therapy took him out of the public eye for a while and it wasn’t until the release of the 2006 LP Vision Valley that he had to deal with the press to any great extent. Oh and by this time, his long-time friend Patrick Matthews had quit the band which was another difficult issue to deal with.

The new LP got a poor reception and the media didn’t really appear to be all that sympathetic to the singer’s problems. That was the beginning of the end in terms of the band having a worldwide profile, but they have continued to record and gig back home, albeit there have been a number of personnel changes over the years with Craig Nicholls the only constant.

His health has remained a serious issue – tours have been cut short or postponed altogether and then in 2012 he was arrested again on allegations that he had assaulted his parents and injured a responding police officer while resisting arrest.

The Vines have thus far six albums in total, the last being Wicked Nature back in 2014, but gigs in 2016 saw a fair bit of new material aired leading to speculation that a new record was in the pipeline but nothing has yet materialised. If and when it does, then it’s a near certainty that any efforts to promote it will be restricted to Australia.

It’s a shame that Asperger’s has caused all of this as a few of the early songs were more than decent:-

mp3 : The Vines – Highly Evolved
mp3 : The Vines – Get Free
mp3 : The Vines – Outtathaway!
mp3 : The Vines – Ride

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (11)

Bernie Rhodes knows don’t argue

And with that, the first record issued by The Specials was unleashed on the listening public.

1979 was a fantastic year for music, certainly here in the UK. It was the year that many of the post-punk/new wave bands really came to prominence and it was the year that sparked the two-tone craze.

I was sixteen years of age and totally unaware of ska. Glasgow had always been a rock sort of town, although things were in the air that would see a gradual softening of the hard elements of the genre and a whole new sound associated with the city would become incredibly influential. But it was a city that was predominantly white in nature, albeit we had an increasing Asian population that had been migrating here in increasing numbers with next to no fuss in terms of assimilation. There was next to no Caribbean population and black people were really few and far between and as such there was little demand for local radio stations to ever feature a style of music that had originated in those communities. It was also a sound never played on BBC Radio 1 (as I’ll come to a bit later on).

Hearing bands like The Specials, Madness, The Selecter and The Beat was something entirely new and felt exciting because it was so different. And there’s no doubt too that the rude-boy look of the black and white clothing and pork-pie hat was something that was visually appealing to any mid-aged teen. And the stylish and unusual dancing that accompanied the songs whenever any of the acts appeared on Top of the Pops hit a chord with those who were slightly younger and made the whole thing seem fun.

1979 marked my first forays into DJing, if playing records on a single deck at a youth night in the school could be regarded as DJing. The senior pupils were encouraged to help the teachers at these nights, which were basically an effort to provide bored 12-15 year olds with something to do instead of hanging around street corners and picking up bad habits. There were three of us who brought along our own 45s to play while everyone ran around making lots of noise burning up all that excess energy. Very gradually over a matter of weeks, our little corner of the hall began to get a dedicated audience and it was all driven by the fact they loved to do the Madness dance(s). In two hours of music, you could bet that more than half came through records on the 2-Tone label or its offshoots. And these kids were of an age when playing the same song two or three times in a night didn’t matter.

Gangsters wasn’t aired as much as others, possibly because it wasn’t the easiest to sing-a-long to; nor did it have a nutty dance of its own. But all these years later, I think there’s many who agree it was the best of the early 2-Tone releases, possibly surpassed only later on by Ghost Town by which time the serious side of the various bands were making astute and pertinent political and social observations.

I had no idea that Gangsters was a re-working of Al Capone by Prince Buster, a song originally released in 1964. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Madness, I wouldn’t have had any idea who Prince Buster was. Ska music never featured on any BBC Radio shows that looked back in time at chart rundowns of years gone by. Tamla Motown and soul music was often aired but I genuinely cannot recall any ska – evidence that big-name DJs and their producers (with the exception of course of John Peel) were incredibly conservative with the music they chose to air.

The first 5,000 copies of this single, which came backed with a song by The Selector, came with a plain white sleeve stamped with the title. These sleeves weren’t the most robust and most of them have deteriorated very badly over the years. If you somehow managed to pick up a copy, all of which were distributed by Rough Trade to the smaller independent record shops, and you’ve managed to take good care of it, then you could probably flog it to a hipster for a few hundred quid.

The vast majority of the 45s were released in what would become the generic 2-Tone sleeve with the immediately identifiable logo, all of which were distributed via Chrysalis records to all stores across the UK and further afield.

Worth noting too that the single was credited to Special A.K.A. with the band then reverting to the much easier on the tongue The Specials for the string of hit singles and albums that would follow, although they did go back to the original name in 1982 after a number of members left to form Fun Boy Three.

mp3 : Special A.K.A. – Gangsters

Here’s the other side of the single; it’s an instrumental that was recorded prior to vocalist Pauline Black joining the band:-

mp3 : The Selecter – The Selecter

JC

PACKET OF THREE

There is a possibility, based on trying to respond positively to requests/suggestions from readers, that I will turn my attention to the singles released over the years by Squeeze. It’s not on the immediate horizon but then again, given that I’m increasingly finding it difficult to come up with fresh ideas, it might well be that the blog ends up with more than the current one singles series in a given week before too long.

Squeeze had come together as early as 1974 when a then 17-year old Chris Difford put an advert in the window of a local newsagent shop in Deptford in the working class and highly unfashionable south-east of London that was responded to by a local 20-year old named Glen Tilbrook. They bonded quickly, writing songs together, and soon they were seeking other musicians to in the hope and expectation of forming a performing and recording combo. Some musicians did initially come and go, but the line-up was eventually completed by Julian Holland (keyboards), Harry Kakoulli (bass) and Gilson Lavis (drums).

Like many other bands of that pre-punk era, Squeeze made their name and living via the pub circuit that dominated much of the music scene across the UK, particularly in the major cities. They were picked up by Miles Copeland III, a 30-year old American who had relocated to London with a determination to somehow to break into the music industry. Copeland had established an agency and label called BTM (British Talent Management) but it went bust in 1976 after a series of loss-making shows and festivals, leaving many of their acts, including Squeeze, high and dry but freely available.

The band cobbled together money to record an EP and release it in May 1977 on the Deptford City Label. It was produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground whom Copeland had introduced to them. It’s fair to say that the outcome was quite basic, almost elementary in nature; it’s nowhere near good enough to include it as part of the ‘cracking debut’ regular feature on this blog:-

mp3 : Squeeze – Cat On A Wall
mp3 : Squeeze – Night Ride
mp3 : Squeeze – Back Track

Having said that, the Packet of Three EP, from July 1977, did pique enough interest in the group to generate some A&R follow-up, particularly in the live setting with the band seemingly an ever-present in the many small, noisy and smoky pubs of their local community and further afield across London, and they were still being championed by Copeland. In due course, Squeeze would be signed by A&M Records in 1978 for whom they would deliver a string of successful singles and albums over the next decade.

JC

THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 6)

The collaboration that took everyone by surprise. New Order chose to follow up Blue Monday by heading over to New York and collaborating with DJ/mixer/producer Arthur Baker. The result was a 12″ single (Factory 93) containing four versions of the tune:-

mp3 : New Order – Confusion (8:13)
mp3 : New Order – Confused Beats (6:30)
mp3 : New Order – Confusion Instrumental (7:33)
mp3 : New Order – Confusion (Rough Mix) (8:04)

It reached #12 in the UK singles chart which was quite extraordinary given that the band were still very much a cult and the single had little daytime radio exposure. One of my abiding memories of it was that the promo was on what was then a new thing in the bar of the students union – a videobox as opposed to a jukebox. It was much more expensive and so some of us would club together to ensure, much to the annoyance of the beer-swilling rockers who studied engineering, that Confusion was on heavy rotation.

It’s perfectly of its time, and remains a huge influence on club/dance music almost 35 years on.

The song was completely revamped for inclusion on the Substance compilation :-

mp3 : New Order – Confusion 87 (4:43)

And then, in 1995, there was acid techno remix by Pump Panel, which was later used in 1998 as part of the soundtrack for the film Blade:-

mp3 : New Order – Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix) (10:11)

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #101 : THE FLOWERS

Today’s post has more than one song featured. That’s all down to my abject failure to previously fully recognise and acknowledge the contribution made by The Flowers to the post-punk music scene in Scotland. It was something I wasn’t fully aware of until I went along to see the world premiere of Big Gold Dream back in 2015.

Flowers formed in 1978, and were part of a strong Edinburgh scene which spawned bands such as Scars, Josef K and The Fire Engines. The line-up eventually settled around Hilary Morrison aka Hl Ray (vocals), Andy Copland (guitar), Fraser Sutherland (bass) and Simon Best (drums).

The band contributed two tracks to the first Earcom compilation released by Fast Product in 1979, and recorded two singles across 79/80 for the Pop Aural label. There was also a John Peel session.

Like many others who were initially inspired by punk, the band got a bit disillusioned after the first wave of euphoria had died off and they soon called it a day in the summer of 1980 shortly after the release of their second single.

Here’s a selection from what was, in the end, a catalogue of just six songs, albeit some were recorded more than once for different releases:-

mp3 : The Flowers – After Dark (Earcom compilation)
mp3 : The Flowers – Confessions (debut single)
mp3 : The Flowers – The Ballad of Miss Demeanour (second single)

It sounds like Joy Division and/or Gang of Four being fronted by a Scottish Lene Lovich. The song from the Earcom compilation is a genuine long-lost classic with its bitter lyric about a post-disco sexual encounter gone horribly wrong….

JC

 

A TRUE TRUE CONFESSION

JC writes….

I received an e-mail from someone on the back of the True Confessions pieces last month. There followed an exchange of correspondence during which questions were asked and then answered as to whether the author did want the piece to appear. It’s an incredibly brave thing to offer for public consumption…..

Jim,

I have a True Confession to make, albeit the other way around – liking a song I shouldn’t. A guilty pleasure in a way, if you think it fits, feel free to post, if not just hit delete.

By the turn of the 20th century I met a woman, we were both married but not to each other, and we were drawn together – to start with somewhat unwillingly. Days and months passed by and in the end you might say we had an affair, rather innocent and profane maybe – but gravitation was strong…

In the end she didn’t dare to take that final step and she ended it. Heartbroken I wrote her a letter, sitting on a plane for the US, and in the speakers I could hear this song, a cover of a totally abominable Phil Collins track – but there and then, Mariah Carey singing “you coming back to me is against all odds, but it’s the chance I got to take” hit a very weak spot. I never sent that letter. I don’t own the song, but every time I hear it my heart stops for a second and that “what if?” flashes through my mind.

The song Out Of This World by The Cure, from Bloodflowers, is more the real me but my True Confession is I am attached to Against All Odds in the version by Westlife & Mariah Carey.

Forgive me my sins

mp3 : Westlife & Mariah Carey – Against All Odds
mp3 : The Cure – Out Of This World

A READER

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #146 : THE INDELICATES

A GUEST POSTING by ROL

(My Top Ten blog)

I’ve wanted to do an ICA for The Indelicates for a while. I could have just written them a Top Ten over at my own blog, but I wanted a bigger audience to sing this band’s praises to, because I honestly believe they’re one of the best bands of the 21st Century, even though I’ve never heard their records played on the radio or seen them reviewed in the music press.

It’s shocking really, but after ten years, the only place you’ll see The Indelicates championed is on the internet and in the blogosphere. Well, I want to add my voice to those accolades (again) because The Indelicates have just released their 6th studio album… and it may well be their best yet. (Or at least their best since their exceptional debut, 2008’s American Demo.)

Of course, I realise The Indelicates won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. They’re a difficult band to pin down. One minute they’re indie pop, the next they’re cabaret. One minute Jacques Brel, the next Carter USM. At times Kate Bush, occasionally Victoria Wood. They also have a very distinct lyrical voice, and they’re uncompromising in that voice. Just like Jim Bob, Morrissey, or Joe Strummer: they say what they have to say and don’t care one hoot if you don’t like it… they’re certainly not bothered about upsetting the BBC with their lyrics and not getting airplay… but then again, why should they be? Not even 6Music will touch them with a bargepole. (I never understood why Lammo wasn’t all over them. Maybe Peel would have loved them. Whether they’d have loved him back is another question entirely…) Enough pre-amble. Here’s ten of their best. I hope you like them as much as I do. If you do, give them some money for them.

SIDE A

1. Plaza Ballroom (Introduction)

2. The Plaza Ballroom, Manchester, Christmas Eve, 1956

Let’s start with a couple from their brand new record, Juniverbrecher. If you’re not affected by these two tracks then I’d go see a doctor. This is an album that fearlessly tackles what’s gone wrong in my country in recent years, tracing it all back to one man: Jimmy Saville. The rot spreads from him, and we’re all to blame. I used to work in radio, and though I never met the man, I certainly heard stories. And if I heard them, so far removed, those closer to the epicentre must have been in the know. On the album, these two tracks are followed by the glam rock stomper of a “single” Top of the Pops, with its choral chant of “There’s something wrong at the B-B-C!”. The theme continues across the disc, including a savage indictment of phony nostalgia and “the Ray Davies summer” of Waterloo Sunset on “Everything English Is The Enemy”. And if that doesn’t whet your appetite, once again I suggest a medical consultation.

3. America

Like a lot of angry British songwriters, the Indelicates have a love/hate relationship with the U.S.A. Here, from their debut album – with lashings of Manics’ guitars – is a reverse of I’m So Bored Of The USA by The Clash…

When they pin me to the wall I’ll say:

I’m with America
With godless America, I’ll stand and I’ll fall
Though it cuts me to my soul that
It must be America
It must be America
Or nothing at all!

4. McVeigh

The American obsession led the Indelicates to create their 2011 album, a musical!

David Koresh: Superstar tackled the infamous Waco siege and its repercussions. Here’s Jim Bob from Carter on guest vocals, playing the part of Timothy McVeigh, the man who responded to Waco by bombing Oklahoma in 1995.

5. The Recession Song

Firmly back in the UK for this one, the bands reaction to the noughties’ recession (and its effects on the music industry in particular), playfully referencing the Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs, among others. Fuck the recession!

SIDE B

6. We Hate The Kids

I’ll start side two with what I still believe to be the best single released in the 21st Century. Beyond that, I’ll let the song speak for itself.

And nobody ever comes alive
And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies
And boys who should know better grin and get high
With fat men who once met the MC5
And no one discusses what they don’t understand
And no one does anything to harm the brand
And this gift is an illusion, this isn’t hard
Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar!

7. Be Afraid Of Your Parents

And now for the cabaret. Channelling Brel, Music Hall and even a little Victoria Wood… it turns out it’s not just the kids Simon & Julia can’t stand… but their parents too.

8. Waiting For Pete Doherty To Die

An early b-side that sticks a pin into pop celebrity as only the Indelicates can. Perhaps their own lack of success keeps them grounded?

9. Pubes

And here’s a song about people who insist on taking their clothes off on the internet, from Diseases Of England (2012). What else do you need to know?

10. The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock ‘n’ Roll

I had to finish with this one, again from their debut. Imagine starting your career by admitting it was all over before you began…

The fanzine writers write for broadsheets
The poor men found their daughters wealthy
Rebellion shores up the market
Rebellion keeps the nation healthy
This thing I loved, this thing I worshipped
This cruel, deceptive, vicious thing
I shall leave you to die where you lie
I shall forget my dying king
This is the last significant statement
To be made in rock and roll
Farewell to Gods and to Lords and to Ladies
Religions and the soul
This is the last significant statement
To be made in rock and roll
Everything that follows is a footnote
That we can turn to when we are… old.

And if that doesn’t persuade you to give this band your ears, I don’t know what the hell will!

ROL

JC adds….This is a band that I really enjoyed when they first appeared and have their first two albums and a number of early singles in the collection; I also caught them live in Glasgow a few years back and they were outstanding. Had no idea though, that they were still on the go, so huge thanks to Rol for this.

If you think that some of the female vocal contributions sound familiar then that’s perhaps down to Julia Indelicate being a past member of The Pipettes, who themselves had a guest ICA courtesy of Strangeways back in November 2016.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #145 : THE FEELIES

A MUCH APPRECIATED GUEST CONTRIBUTION FROM DIRK

Yes, yes, I know: you think I may have drunk myself into oblivion on that weekend in Glasgow, but no, far from the truth, friends! Apparently at least small parts of my brain cells survived the gathering and I didn’t forget about The Feelies – ICA I promised to make …so finally here you are!

Reasons for the severe delay in making this ICA were many, but the main one is: for months and months I couldn’t decide which songs to abandon!

The Feelies hail from New Jersey and are without a doubt one of America’s most beloved alternative-rock bands. They recorded six albums in their career, five of which I own. I still didn’t get around to buy their last one from this year, ‘In Between’, although I’m confident that it’s mighty fine as well. I’m sure Brian will be able to confirm this.

I put all the other albums on a stick and listened to them in the car most of the time from June to August on me way to work and back again (2 x 40 minutes each day, sometimes easily 2 x 55, that’s when I have some bloody tractor with sugar beet in front of me, which more or less happens on a daily basis, and you never can overtake those because even more bloody tractors – with sugar beet on them as well – front you from the opposite direction … but I digress!) in order to decide which songs to go for… to no great avail, alas: I simply couldn’t come to a conclusion, so I put the whole project to an unsatisfying halt for quite some time.

The thing is, each and every album The Feelies ever made is stunning indeed, there aren’t all too many tunes where you can easily say: ‘ah, let’s forget about this one, it’s no good’. To make it even more difficult, within their career they also went along under the monikers of Yung Wu, The Trypes and The Willies, so in theory I could have included those releases as well, but then decided not to do so.

There were times when I thought about simply using all of their first album, ‘Crazy Rhythms’ (originally from 1980, with nine songs on it, but there is a re-issue with a bonus track, which makes ten wonderful tunes, just perfect for an ICA), but I didn’t. Also I think you all know their debut by heart, still I totally failed not to include a few tracks from it. Those of you who never heard it, if such creatures exist at all, you’ll understand why this is when listening to my choices from ‘Crazy Rhythms’:

1) Fa Cé-La

2) Loveless Love

3) Crazy Rhythms

Interestingly enough I found out that in ‘Crazy Rhythms’ (the song, not the album) the band – at 1.28 minutes – managed to include exactly the warning sound which my car makes when running out of fuel (a Peugeot 208, since you’re asking), that’s right after they included sounds of a car hitting the break whilst being right behind you at full speed … both of which shocked me enormously each and every time when listening to the song at immense volume, still half asleep in the dark morning! But again I digress …

It took The Feelies six years to release the follow-up to ‘Crazy Rhythms’.

‘The Good Earth’ came out in 1986. ‘The difficult second album’, you could argue. And rightly so, I mean, how to surpass a masterpiece such as ‘Crazy Rhythms’? Impossible, I would think. But surely that’s not the reason why the number of tracks out of ‘The Good Earth’ being included in this ICA is …. zero, no, it’s just that I like other songs better. For example:

4) What Goes On

5) The Final Word

6) Away

All of the above can be found on the band’s third longplayer, ‘Only Life’ from 1988. But coming back to ‘The Good Earth’ briefly: I think it’s important to point out that I recommend the album without any reservation at all, it’s good throughout and you should get it while you can! The same is of course true for ‘Only Life’, the three tunes I chose are only a little bit better than the remaining seven.

1991 brought us ‘Time For A Witness’ and again it blew me away! Which made it very hard to pick a specific track, but this is what I came up with:

7) Sooner Or Later

8) Decide

9) Doin’ It Again

Sheer class, I’m sure you’ll agree! Perhaps 7) and 8) are the best two of the whole lot so far, at least as far as I’m concerned, mighty songs indeed!

After ‘Time For A Witness’ The Feelies relaxed a bit and made a little pause … 20 years, to be precise! The public were told they disbanded, but then, out of the blue, ‘Here Before’ saw the light of day in 2011. And again, there was nothing wrong with it at all. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many bands that sleep for 20 years and then come back in such a form, right? From it, we have:

10) Change Your Mind

… which could easily be the title of this ICA, because if I don’t post it to JC right now without further hesitation, I could well think it all over again and change it to 10 completely different tracks!

So, and that’s about it. I do hope you enjoyed what I chose for you!

Take good care,

Dirk

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter Six)

AS SUGGESTED BY JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

We are two mariners
Our ship’s sole survivors
In this belly of a whale
It’s ribs are ceiling beams
It’s guts are carpeting
I guess we have some time to kill

You may not remember me
I was a child of three
And you, a lad of eighteen
But, I remember you
And I will relate to you
How our histories interweave
At the time you were
A rake and a roustabout
Spending all your money
On the whores and hounds
(Oh, oh)

You had a charming air
All cheap and debonair
My widowed mother found so sweet
And so she took you in
Her sheets still warm with him
Now filled with filth and foul disease
As time wore on you proved
A debt-ridden drunken mess
Leaving my mother
A poor consumptive wretch
(Oh, oh)

And then you disappeared
Your gambling arrears
The only thing you left behind
And then the magistrate
Reclaimed our small estate
And my poor mother lost her mind
Then, one day in spring
My dear sweet mother died
But, before she did
I took her hand as she, dying, cried:
(Oh, oh)

“Find him, find him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave”

It took me fifteen years
To swallow all my tears
Among the urchins in the street
Until a priory
Took pity and hired me
To keep their vestry nice and neat
But, never once in the employ
Of these holy men
Did I ever, once turn my mind
From the thought of revenge
(Oh, oh)

One night I overheard
The prior exchanging words
With a penitent whaler from the sea
The captain of his ship
Who matched you toe to tip
Was known for wanton cruelty
The following day
I shipped to sea
With a privateer
And in the whistle
Of the wind
I could almost hear
(Oh, oh)

“Find him, find him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave

There is one thing I must say to you
As you sail across the sea
Always, your mother will watch over you
As you avenge this wicked deed”

And then, that fateful night
We had you in our sight
After twenty months, it seemed
Your starboard flank abeam
I was getting my muskets clean
When came this rumbling from beneath
The ocean shook
The sky went black
And the captain quailed
And before us grew
The angry jaws
Of a giant whale

Don’t know how I survived
The crew all was chewed alive
I must have slipped between his teeth
But, oh, what providence
What divine intelligence
That you should survive
As well as me
It gives my eye great joy
To see your eyes fill with fear
To lean in close
And I will whisper
The last words you’ll hear
(Oh, oh)

mp3 : The Decemberists – The Mariner’s Revenge Song

 

JTFL

PS : By the way, this song is hilarious when The Decemberists play it live — they have a giant prop whale that runs around the stage and they get the crowd to scream in mock terror at appropriate intervals.

HOLIDAY 80

Back in 1980, this was the review penned in Sounds which was then one of the main weekly music UK papers:-

Too much, too late, but too good to be missed. Eighteen months ago The Human League stood on the brink of altering the course of British pop music. Their humour and conviction combined to create an aura of (until then) unknown commercial excitement. Had the Sheffield funsters swallowed their hip pride and attacked the singles charts, they would have created a devastating impact on the British pop music(k) scene.

But as always seems to happen to the originals, they failed because of their own foolish move towards dignity and ‘below ground’ obscurity. They stood back for a moment allowing the empty and dull Gary Numan to ruin their market with his one and only flash of excellence. As soon as ‘Are Friends Electric’ hit that number one spot it became clear that The Human League had lost the gamble. And the stakes were high.

So, now in the midst of ska silliness, the finest electronic band of all time finally release the goods. A double single that clearly defines to all four angles of synthesised madness. The soft beauty of ‘Marianne’, the weirdness of ‘Dance Vision’, the perfect semi-harsh statements of ‘Being Boiled’ (new version) and finally the absurd pap-poppity of Gary Glitters ‘Rock And Roll’ and Iggy’s ‘Nightclubbing’. To be taken in large doses. To be played to life.

Nobody then could have predicted that within 12 months, The Human League would be the band to redefine British music in a way that no-one else had done since the era of The Beatles as synthesisers replaced guitars as the instrument of choice on the attack on the pop charts. Listening to Holiday 80, which is as excellent a release as the Sounds critic indicates, it really is hard to imagine what would unfold in the months ahead:-

mp3 : The Human League – Marianne
mp3 : The Human League – Dancevision
mp3 : The Human League – Being Boiled
mp3 : The Human League – Rock’n’Roll/Nightclubbing

But 37 years ago???? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

JC

PS : This is an apt posting as I’m off to Lanzarote for a few days with Mrs V.  The rest of the week will be guest postings of a far higher quality than the rubbish that’s been here in recent times.

THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 5)

I’ll let Discogs state the facts:-

Blue Monday :  New Order’s 5th single. A milestone, both by musical standards and by design standards. Sold over 1 million copies globally. But because at the time of release, Factory weren’t part of the BPI, there are no reliable figures nor certifications or awards.

Initial editions were released in March 1983 with die-cut cover and cut outs and a thick silver inner sleeve, designed by Peter Saville.

Cover variations: Die-cut with cut-outs, die-cut without cut-outs, plain printed.
Inner sleeve variations: Thick glossy silver, thin matte silver, thick glossy black or thin matte black.
All bear the colour code, spelling “FAC 73 Blue Monday And The Beach New Order”.

There is a common misconception that Factory lost money on the release due to the design. The sleeve did cost so much that it actually denied Factory an extra profit of just under 1 UK Pence on each copy sold. But demand and production cost and timings meant that the sleeve became progressively more simple with each repressing.

Peaked at #9 in the UK Single charts and at #1 in the UK Indie Charts.

Blue Monday 1988: New Order’s 16th single, released in March 1988. Produced by Quincy Jones with the actual remix done by John Potoker. After New Order signed to Qwest in the US, Quincy Jones saw an opportunity for their groundbreaking track to have a legitimate single release and a shot at radio airplay. In the UK it was released as 7″, 12″, CD-Single and as CD-V, featuring an alternate 7″ mix.

Also reissued in 1995 with new remixes.

 

But quite frankly, nothing beats the original.  I reckon I’ve probably, over the years, danced to this track more than any other.

mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday
mp3 : New Order – The Beach

mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 1988 (single mix)
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 1988 (12″ mix)

mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 95 (Hardfloor mix)
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 95 (Manuella mix)
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 95 (Andrea mix)
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 95 (Plutone mix)
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 95 (Brain mix)
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 95 (Starwash mix)
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday 95 (Hardfloor Dub)

Re these mixes of Blue Monday 95 – some were for the UK market and others for Europe and also Australia.  I’m guessing it’s all to do with whatever styles of clubs were most in fashion in whic part of the world.  There’s elements of trance, dub, techno, ambient, acid and house all to be found. A word of warning – they do get a tad wearisome rather quickly….but there will be folk out there who enjoy some and maybe even all of them.

Oh and for completeness sake:-

mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday  (So Hot Mix by 808 State)

This was done in 1988 to appeal to the Acid House market.

Took me ages to pull this post together…..I had no idea so many mixes had been commercially released.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #100 : FIZZBOMBS

As featured in the CD86 series back in June 2015:-

The Fizzbombs were a short-lived four piece from Edinburgh consisting of Katy McCullars (lead vocal), Margarita Vasquez-Ponte (guitar/vocals), Angus McPake (drums) and Ann Donald (bass). This fabulous little number was released as a single on Nardonik Records in 1987:-

mp3 : The Fizzbombs – Sign On The Line

It was the band’s only release with that line-up. They would release an EP in 1988 by which time Katy had moved on and Margarita was on lead vocal duties after which Fizzbombs were no more.

However, Margarita was a mainstay in other Edinburgh-based indie bands of the time, most notably Rote Kapelle and Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes (of which Angus was also a member), the latter having a career that saw eight singles/EPs and two LPs between 1986 and 1990 without ever coming close to any commercial success. Katy, as mentioned a few weeks back, would be part of The Secret Goldfish and Fake Eyelashes among many other great contributions to the indie scene in Scotland.

JC

TEN DAYS OF TWEE (10) : SPRING BOUTIQUE

Spring Boutique were from The Philippines and consisted of Lorelie Landavora (vocals), Anthony Agarpao (guitar) Precious Agarpao (guitar), Basil James Silva (drums) and Caleb Domingo (bass). They released their their debut album via Philippine indiepop label, Dorothy and later on via the Japanese label Quince Records in 2003.  It’s an album that contains the perfect way to end this mini-series.

mp3 : Spring Boutique – So Twee

JC

TEN DAYS OF TWEE (9) : VERY TRULY YOURS

Twee might be best associated with the 80s and 90s, but in all truth it never went away, which to me is a good things.

One of the more recent examples of the genre are Very Truly Yours who hail from Chicago. Formed by Kristine Capua (vocals), Lisle Mitnik (guitar), Dan Hyatt (bass), and Andy Rogers (drums) in 2008 they soon began to get attention from appearances on various low-budget compilations. Katie Watkins later joined on keyboards.

From what I can gather, there then followed a split single and then a self-funded EP in 2009, an album in 2010 and a 7″ single in 2011.

Kristine and Lisle also have recorded solo projects and more recently have hooked up for an electronica band called Tiny Fireflies. I’m assuming therefore that Very Truly Yours are no more, but I’m willing to be corrected.

mp3 : Very Truly Yours – Popsong ’91 (from 2009 split single)
mp3 : Very Truly Yours – Reminders (from 2009 EP)
mp3 : Very Truly Yours – Things You Used To Say (from 2010 LP)
mp3 : Very Truly Yours – Girls Tell You Secrets (2011 single)

JC

PS

https://thesoundofbeingok.wordpress.com

It’s worth dropping by……