HALF TIME SCORES

There was a flurry of activity over the weekend but Monday and Tuesday provided a barren spell with not much to shout about in terms of goalmouth action.

A few sides have been able to build commanding leads and seem likely to advance into the last 64.  Some ties are very much in the balance, with leads swinging back and forth, often in the space of minutes.  Here’s how it all stands, as at 7.45pm on Tuesday night.

The Wondermints 9 v The Jesus & Mary Chain 21
Joe Strummer 12 v Julian Cope 19
The Pipettes 5 v Lloyd Cole & The Commotions 26
The Jam 24 v T. Rex 7
Billy Bragg 23 v The Faces 7
The Housemartins 22 v Gene 9
Foil 13 v Emiliana Torrini 13
The Jayhawks 11 v The Farmer’s Boys/The Higsons 15
R.E.M. 17 v Radiohead 14
Elbow 7 v The Skids 22
Underworld 7 v Ride 20
Carter USM 21 v Dwight Yoakam 6
Pulp 20 v Tindersticks 10
The The 16 v Simple Minds 14
The Velvet Underground 29 v The National 2
Friends Again 11 v XTC (2) 19

Click here for a reminder of what the full list of songs are. Deadline is Friday midnight. All being well, I’ll announce the results on Saturday morning at the same time as releasing the next 16 fixtures.

Time, once more, for a banging half-time tune

mp3 : David Guetta – Work Hard

JC

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #153 : TALULAH GOSH

A GUEST POSTING by STRANGEWAYS

Talulah Gosh, featuring the mighty Amelia Fletcher, tend to polarise.

Easily distinguishable from say Motörhead or GG Allin, the band’s output was, and is, often dismissed and marginalised as cute, shambling and, most especially, that reliable kiss-of-death: ‘twee’.

For some, then, huge silly grins are the instant reaction to a TG number. For others, the response is to feel a bit queasy. Not bad going for a band with only 25 songs to their name – and even that number is bolstered by John Peel and Janice Long sessions, and some pretty demo-sounding demos. (At this point it’s worth mentioning that you can scoff the lot on the 2013 Was It Just A Dream? compilation – on Damaged Goods.)

To be fair, the twee accolade/accusation is not so astonishing. This is, after all, a group who pinched their name from a Clare Grogan NME interview (if the internet is to be believed, it seems Clare played a game of combining a favourite actor’s name – Tallulah (despite the double-l) Bankhead? – and a favourite word).

This is a band, also, who titled an early number The Day She Lost Her Pastels Badge, as well as using aliases like ‘Pebbles’ – for Elizabeth Price – and ‘Marigold’ – for Amelia Fletcher – (both vocals and guitar). And you can add to all this a passion for the kind of zooming, chiming guitars, helium vocals and sha-la-la-ing harmonies that make some listeners scream and scream and scream until they’re sick.

The words? They often allude to a world of the group’s own making – a secret land of rainbow hunts, escalators on hills and, in the eponymous single, the mysterious, dreaming Talulah Gosh herself: variously a film and pop star, a top celebrity, but ultimately a figure doomed and blessed to always be herself.

Given all that, it’s no surprise that Talulah Gosh have never been everyone’s beaker of Creamola Foam. Negative reactions are maybe similar to those that greeted the fanzine-led band scene the group helped establish in the later 80s (and the Riot Grrrl genre they went on to influence in the 90s). But even if they’re not your thing at all, TG’s songs – of strawberry hair and spearmint heads, beatnik boys and bringing up babies – annoy the musically macho, and there’s always worth in that.

As a postscript, rising, like a felt-tip phoenix from the day-glo ashes of Talulah Gosh, Heavenly – still-enchanted but more worldly-wise – would emerge in 1990. That band’s records – a terrific line-up of seven singles and four LPs – saw Amelia and pals hop from one spiritual home (53rd & 3rd) to another (Sarah Records). But that’s all maybe for the threat of another ICA. (ed’s note – yes, please!!!)

Purely because it’s quite unusual: what did Marigold and Pebbles do next? The keen will know that Amelia continued in music, post-Heavenly, via Marine Research and Tender Trap – and that in 2014 she wound up with an OBE for services to Competition and Consumer Economics (and indiepop). Pebbles? Only the winner of the Turner Prize in 2012.

For now though, our story whizzes back to 1986, and to the undecorated Marigold and Pebbles of that era, alongside their bandmates Eithne Farry; Mathew Fletcher; Peter Momtchiloff; Rob Pursey and Chris Scott.
But you can call them all Talulah.

Talulah Gosh At Large: a (New) Vinyl Villain imaginary compilation album.

SIDE A

1. Talulah Gosh (single A-side, 1987)

Slow verses. Quick choruses. Talulah’s self-referencing anthem is a corker and, as alluded to already, paints a picture of an elusive, unsolvable character. Just who is the phantom Talulah Gosh? A minor myth insists it’s a thank-you to the band-naming Clare Grogan herself. Let’s hope, though, that the mystery endures – like an indiepop yeti or Loch Ness Monster.

A tamer, whispery session version of this song isn’t as engaging, but it’s still well worth a listen.

2. Testcard Girl (7” single A-side, 1987)

Sounding for all the world like a riot in Hamleys, Testcard Girl muses on boredom and loneliness, and it knows only one speed. But scream (the band certainly do) if you want to go even faster. Interested in the story of the real Test Card (two words) Girl? Just whack the name Carole Hersee into Wikipedia.

3. My Boy Says (Rock Legends: Volume 69 track, 1987)

Talulah Gosh at their most in-love? My Boy Says is giddy and giggly and all those kinds of things that characterise the smitten. A bit like someone who can’t be late for a very important date, the song walks-then-jogs, walks-then-jogs.

4. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (Thank God) (Where’s the Cougar, Matey? EP track, 1987)

A cynical, somewhat fed-up lyric of the type that perhaps helped characterise Heavenly’s output, I Can’t Get No… sneaks salt into the sugar shaker. Then points and laughs.

5. The Girl With the Strawberry Hair (B-side of ‘Bringing Up Baby’ 7” single, 1987)

Another thundering pace. Carried by Mathew Fletcher’s relentless, driving drums, this is the closing song on Rock Legends: Volume 69 – the band’s original 1988 muddle of singles and B-sides. Rock Legends… would be augmented and superseded by two collections: Backwash (K Records, 1996) and the presumably definitive Was It Just A Dream? (Damaged Goods, 2013). But for a good while …Strawberry Hair is where the needle providing your Talulah fix would, with a slick little lick of goodbye guitar, hit the buffers.

SIDE B

6. Don’t Go Away (B-side of ‘Talulah Gosh’ 7” single, 1987)

What’s so wrong with carrying on? This lyric from the frantic Don’t Go Away could easily have titled this ICA. Bands don’t really have mission statements. That’s a good thing. But if they did, this would probably be the best one ever.

7. Be Your Baby (John Peel session, 11 January 1988)

Like Testcard Girl, here’s another express-train ride. This time the lyrical topic takes a pot-shot at the kind of restricting other-halves who seek to subtly Frankenstein their way to a perfect partner. Discernible amid the tumult are lines about having clothes bought for you, and your haircut and record collection decided by another. Six years later the issue of manipulation would resurface, this time via Heavenly’s ace LP track Itchy Chin.

8. Spearmint Head (John Peel session, 11 January 1988)

The best Talulah Gosh song in the world ever? For that honour, for me, it’d need to go toe-to-toe with Bringing Up Baby and Escalator Over The Hill. This session gem is a real shape-shifter though, and it whips up and down the gears with abandon.

9. Bringing Up Baby (7” single A-side, 1987)

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Gosh: it’s a bouncing baby single. A really splendid song with an opening ten or so seconds that will rot your teeth at twenty yards. Maybe ‘Baby’, with its la-la-la-ing chorus and fizzy, bounding tune is the ultimate Talulah number.

10. Escalator Over The Hill (B-side of ‘Talulah Gosh’ 12” single, 1987)

The curiouser and curiouser Escalator Over The Hill is daydreamy and quite otherworldly – one for all you sleepwalkers out there. From its abrupt opening, wig-out centre and soulful, haunting outro, the overall feeling is one of regret and sadness, helped along by lyrics that glue together the poetic and the mundane:

If age or time should weary you
What would you find to remind you
Of trains we caught
And buses we missed
Tickets we bought, taking us through
The barrier to
The escalator over the hill

I think those are powerful and unusual words and they contribute to my view that Escalator… is unlike any other Talulah Gosh song out there – an authentic indiepop lullaby.

Bit of trivia: Another, unrelated, piece of music of the same name predates this song by at least 15 years. Here’s Wiki’s introduction:

Escalator Over the Hill (or EOTH) is mostly referred to as a jazz opera, but it was released as a “chronotransduction” with “words by Paul Haines, adaptation and music by Carla Bley, production and coordination by Michael Mantler”, performed by the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

So now all you fans of chronotransductions can feel well and truly acknowledged. And to any Haines/Bley/Mantler afficionados who’ve landed here by accident: welcome aboard.

strangeways

JC adds:-

I’m surely not alone in wishing that this had arrived in advance of the launch of the ICA World Cup, as there’s every chance that this wonderful collection of songs could have taken on and defeated a number of the teams who will advance to its latter stages.  Reference was made to the tamer, whispery session version of a song, and here it is:-

mp3 : Talulah Gosh – Talulah Gosh (Janice Long Session)

Nor was there room on the ICa for this gem, so consider it your bonus track:-

mp3 : Talulah Gosh – Beatnik Boy

Enjoy.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG (ON MONDAY) : #110 : FRUITS OF PASSION

Fruits of Passion were tipped by many to make it big. In some ways, they were on the scene a wee bit to early to have the impact expected as their template for making music would be largely mimicked by Texas to great effect a few years later.

Consisting of Sharon Dunleavy on vocals, Glenn Gibbons on lead guitar, Davey Fullerton on rhythm guitar, Stephen Alexander on bass and Colin Auld on drums, they were responsible for five singles albeit one was a remixed release of the flop debut) and one LP in 85/86, all of them via Siren Records, which was a subsidiary of Virgin Records.

Sharon had a voice that wasn’t a million miles away from Maria McKee and the band could certainly play. They picked up a good number of high-profile support slots back in the day which should have been a great way to increase their fanbase. But for whatever reason, it just never happened.

I’m not a huge fan of their stuff, although I do have a copy of their sole LP in the cupboard. It is a decent enough example of mainstream, female-vocalist pop and there have been many worse acts made it big in the charts.

mp3 : Fruits of Passion – Love’s Glory

This was their sophomore single, released in March 1986.

JC

THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 16)

The single after Touched By The Hand of God was in fact Blue Monday 88, but I featured that in an earlier posting.

New Order had closed off 1987 with a sold-out gig at the 12,500 capacity Wembley Arena, supported by a then little-known Primal Scream whose debut LP had been released to huge indifference. The following year, New Order seemed to drop completely out of view, with no new songs or live gigs to speak of. It later transpired that they had spent the best part of seven months working on their latest album, initially in Ibiza and then in Bath.

Technique should have been in the shops in time for Xmas 88 but it ended up being delayed until January 1989. All the talk was that the new record would be quite different from anything they had done before, with more a club feel to it with one eye on what was beginning to pack out The Hacienda.

In December 1988, the new single was released. The sleeve for Fine Time, with its depiction of drug capsules, was a clear indication that the club market was where the band were aiming. The contents of the vinyl remain, to this day, the one recording by New Order that gave a huge jolt to my system.

mp3 : New Order – Fine Time (12″ version)

The Barry White-esque vocal cut is Barney slowed right down via electronic trickery. I’ve long thought it was him  taking the piss out of Hooky’s rock god persona with the lyric:-

Hey, you know
I’ve met a lot of cool chicks
But I’ve never met a girl with all her own teeth
That’s why I love you babe
That’s why we could be
But you’re too young
Too young for me

Turns out it was supposedly about Barney’s first wife…which makes it as mundane and stupid as it gets.

But in this one, it’s best to put the lyric to one side and concentrate on the music. Which is why the instrumental b-side on the 12″ is the one for me…

mp3 : New Order – Fine Line

In a crowded Christmas market, the single managed to reach #15 and led to a very bizarre Top of the Pops appearance, which is saying something given how weird previous appearances had proved to be:

The following week….it climbed to #11 which I’m sure was the first time a New Order TOTP appearance had seen a single rise up the charts afterwards!

Oh, and I almost forgot that there was a more conventional instrumental made available as the standard b-side:-

mp3 : New Order – Don’t Do It

As it turned out, this was the sound that would provide much of the template for the resultant album…which regular readers will know is my favourite by the band, so expect some gushing praise for the next few singles.

JC

BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 1 (Part 3)

This week’s title sequence is not from any World Cup programme, but it is a classic…

I was going to go straight into a rundown of the scores from last week, but given what happened I think some commentary as an introduction is essential.

Unlike week one, a number of these ties were right in doubt till the final few hours, albeit there was no late mad rush to the polls that swung things really dramatically.  The lead in three of the contests – ACR v Arab Strap, Lambchop v Martha & The Muffins and Supergrass v Wire changed hands quite a few times; in the case of the last named, the scores were level some 24 hours out from close of play.  Indeed, at 7.45 pm, it was still neck-and-neck when the final vote of the day – just one of five submitted on the Friday, came in courtesy of our old friend Jacques the Kipper who I know had no idea just how close things were proving to be. His call for the Artschool Veterans proved decisive..

Gemma Ray 15  The Lightning Seeds 31
The Woodentops 18  The Go-Betweens (2) 26
Mission of Burma 4  The Smiths 41
A Certain Ratio 18 Arab Strap 24
Supergrass 22 Wire (2) 23
Queens of the Stone Age 8 The Fall 36
Elvis Costello & The Attractions 20 Half Man Half Biscuit 27
Prefab Sprout (2) 28 The Blue Aeroplanes 16
Beach House 16 British Sea Power 33
Magazine 32 Prince 13
Lambchop 25 Martha & The Muffins 19
Everything But The Girl 32 The Libertines 12
Kanye West 12 SBTRKT 19
Talking Heads 28 Massive Attack 19
The Twilight Sad 12 Pavement 32
The Orwells 10 Pete Wylie 32

As expected, there were relatively easy passages for some of the big names.  In the week that Mark E Smith shuffled off this mortal coil, it seemed fitting that his band took their place in the last 64 – it should be noted that The Fall were already comfortably ahead when the sad news came through and I don’t think any of the votes subsequently cast were out of sympathy.

I think it’s fair to say that each of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Prince and Massive Attack would have, pre-tournament, hoped and possibly expected to have advanced to the latter stages only to get really tough assignments.

Moving now onto the third part of Round 1; I think its fair to say that the TV companies were spoiled for choice with a few of the really big crowd-pleasing names having to face off, but in the end the featured match really is something of a no-brainer.

Deadline is Friday 2 February, midnight UK time. As ever, please don’t feel you have to vote in all 16 instances.

The Wondermints v The Jesus and Mary Chain

Another Way (from Mind If We Make Love To You, 2002) v Reverence (from Honey’s Dead, 1992)

Joe Strummer v Julian Cope

Sleepwalk (from Earthquake Weather, 1989) v Try Try Try (from 20 Mothers, 1995)

The Pipettes v Lloyd Cole & The Commotions

Pull Shapes (from We Are The Pipettes, 2006) v Forest Fire (from Rattlesnakes, 1984)

The Jam v T.Rex

Happy Together (from The Gift, 1982) v All Alone (from Futuristic Dragon, 1976)

Billy Bragg v The Faces

St Swithin’s Day (from Brewing Up With Billy Bragg, 1984) v Miss Judy’s Farm (from A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse, 1971)

The Housemartins v Gene

The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death (from same, 1987) v Cast Out In The Seventies (b-side,1997)

Foil v Emiliana Torrini

Let It Go Black (single, 1996) v Life Saver (from Fisherman’s Woman, 2005)

The Jayhawks v The Farmer’s Boys/The Higsons

All The Right Reasons (from Rainy Day Music, 2003) v It Goes Waap!! by The Higsons (single, 1981)

R.E.M. v Radiohead

USA v UK.  Stipe v Yorke; Buck v Greenwood; And the toss of the coin and roll of the dice hasn’t made it any easier:-

Perfect Circle (from Murmur, 1983)

No Surprises (from OK Computer, 1997)

Elbow v The Skids

The Birds (from Build A Rocket Boys!, 2011) v Masquerade (from Days In Eurpoa, 1980)

Underworld v Ride

Beautiful Burnout (from Oblivion With Bell, 2007) v Like A Daydream (from the Play EP, 1990)

Carter USM v Dwight Yoakam

Re-educating Rita (b-side, 1990) v Two Doors Down (from This Time, 1993)

Pulp v Tindersticks

Pink Glove (from His ‘n’ Hers, 1994) v Kathleen (single, 1994)

The The v Simple Minds

Armageddon Days Are Here (Again) (from Mind Bomb, 1989) v Someone, Somewhere In Summertime (from New Gold Dream, 1982)

The Velvet Underground v The National

I’m Waiting For The Man (from The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967) v Slow Show (from Boxer, 2007)

Friends Again v XTC (2)

Honey At The Core (single, 1983) v I’d Like That (from Apple Venus Vol 1, 1999)

The final part of Round 1 will be unveiled next Saturday, by which time everyone should just about have their breath back from the above matches.  Don’t worry, you’ll be hyperventilating again soon, with arguably the best two ties of the lot still to be revealed.

JC

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE (NOT A SMITHS POSTING!!)

A track came up the other day on random shuffle….it wasn’t one I was familiar with…but its blend of classic mid-80s guitar and Teardrop Explodes style trumpets and ba-ba-ba lyric quickly got my attention.

mp3 : The Brilliant Corners – Please Please Please

It’s one that ended upon the i-pod courtesy of its inclusion in the C87 box set which I’ve featured a few times in the past. Here’s the notes from the accompanying booklet.

Another bunch of Bristolians, who began in 1983, borrowing their name from a Thelonius Monk album and playing a rockabilly-tinged form of post-punk. In 1984, they set up their own label SS20 and began releasing records leading up to 1986’s What’s In A Word? (which graced the Indie Top 10), which slotted the band perfectly into the c86 era. Further indie hits ensued, including the EP Delilah Sands, which featured the hook-laden ‘Please Please Please’. The Brilliant Corners released five albums on new label McQueen, the last being 1991’s compilation Creamy Stuff : The Singles 84-90. Following 1993’s A History of White Trash (released on Cheesey Product), the band called it a day – although they reunited in 2013 at the Scared To Get Happy indie extravaganza.

Discovering this wonderful track on the compilation was a b-side, I set about tracking down the rest of the EP, I was rather stunned to find, a bit like The Smiths were wont to do, that Please Please Please was only available on the 12″ release which came housed in the splendid sleeve at the top of this posting. The 7″ looked like this:-

And here’s its two tracks:-

mp3 : The Brilliant Corners – Delilah Sands
mp3 : The Brilliant Corners – Is There Anybody Home?

Really enjoyed all three of these songs, but as I hinted at the start, there’s not a lot else I know about the band. Anyone care to do a guest posting/ICA? Please, Please Please……?

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #152 : THE JAM (2)

The posting on The Lambrettas got me all nostalgic and I shoved on The Jam for a bit. Had a look again at this ICA, which was #52 as it so happens, and thought I’d pull together a second volume of stuff, again on the basis that singles or original b-sides aren’t eligible for inclusion.

SIDE A

1. Pretty Green (from Sound Affects)

It’s quite astonishing to think that the band were so prolific they were able to write something as catchy and memorable as this, the opening track of their fifth album, and not spend too much time before deciding it wouldn’t be a 45. An ode to money and a celebration of what a succesful young man would and should do with. The title refers to the colour of the old £1 note which was withdrawn from circulation as long ago as 1988, which means there are tens of millions of young Britons who had no recollection of that particular piece of currency.

2. The Place I Love (from All Mod Cons)

All Mod Cons was the album that led to me giving the band my undivided and, at the time, uncritical attention. It was never off the turntable and I thought it was a flawless piece of work…well, apart from English Rose as the 14/15 year-old me didn’t do soppy ballads. This was a track that I liked rather than adored at the time, but over the years, as my listening habits have expanded and I’ve been able to realise that some of the best political songs aren’t always immediately obvious, this ode to England’s pleasant lands, green, grey or otherwise, has become a huge favourite.

3. Away From The Numbers (from In The City)

This song had been out for a few years before I picked up on it. The debut LP isn’t one, aside from maybe three or four songs, that has aged all that well, reflecting that Paul Weller was still learning on a daily basis how to improve on his songwriting. It’s genuinely astonishing to reflect on the fact that he was only 18 years of age when he penned this lyric that reflected on the necessity that to make a difference, you had to be different.

4. Private Hell (from Setting Sons)

This tale of a lonely, depressed, drug-dependant and mentally ill housewife was scheduled to feature in the ‘songs as short stories series’ but it has rightly fought its way into inclusion on this ICA. I used to think the lyric was all a bit melodramatic as I honestly couldn’t think of any female relative or mother of any friends of mine whose behaviour was like this. Looking back, I was wrong…it was just that some folk were exceptional at keeping things well hidden….

5. English Rose (from All Mod Cons)

In which the 54 year-old JC admits that the teenage JC got it badly wrong.

SIDE B

1. In The Street Today (from This Is The Modern World)

None of the tracks from the disappointing sophomore album made Volume 1 and this, 90-second blast of amphetamine-driven pop is the only one which makes the cut on Volume 2. One of the few songs that wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place on All Mod Cons. As The Lambrettas said the other day, just Da-a-a-ance.

2. Ghosts (from The Gift)

This almost made the cut on Volume 1. It’s something else to look back in time and realise that in just three short years after All Mod Cons in which I had been dismissive of the ballad, this song had the ability to knock me sideways. The crucial difference being that I had, by this time, fallen in love for the first but not the last time.

3. Wasteland (from Setting Sons)

Another one that I didn’t pay too much attention to back in the day as it seemed so light and inconsequential amidst the magnificent anthems that filled the album. Again, as I’ve matured, so has this grown on me and like the protagonist in this song, I find myself, with friends, reflecting on days of old, albeit its done in pubs and not sitting alongside a vacant and derelict space.

4. Set The House Ablaze (from Sound Affects)

This just seems to fit in perfectly onto an imaginary album right behind Wasteland. I use to think thought it was a bit of a clumsy number but I now acknowledge that this was down to the fact that it never really seemed to come across all that well when it was played in the live setting. One of only two songs by the band that clocked in at over 5 minutes (the other being In The Crowd – that is, if you don’t count the 12″ extended mix of Precious), this politically motivated song demonstrates just how the sound of The Jam really did rely on all three being on top of their game. Has La-la-la-la as a lyric ever sounded so desperately angry??

5. Move On Up (from Beat Surrender EP)

OK. It’s a fair cop. I’m breaking the rules. I’ve gone for a b-side to close things off, but in all honesty, I couldn’t think of a better fit given that I had already used The Gift to round off Volume 1. A joyous anthem…one that I refused at the time to believe was a cover version, such was the way The Jam had made it sound like one of their own.

So there you are, a second ICA for the band without whom I most likely would never really had a passion for, and devotion to,, music. Only think I can’t fathom is that I still haven’t been able to find a spot for Carnation

JC

FAREWELL TO ONE-OF-A-KIND

There will be thousands of tributes penned over the coming days to acknowledge and commemorate the life and times of Mark E Smith that will be much better than I’m capable of pulling together.

I liked a lot of his music, but not all of it. I agreed with some of his points of view, but not all of them. I will simply say that he was a truly unique musician and we are much poorer without his presence. He’s gone but won’t be forgotten…..especially in the digital age where the memories will come thick and fast. I wonder if he’s already arguing with Anthony H Wilson?

mp3 : The Fall – Free Range

Possibly my favourite few minutes that he ever recorded.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG (on a Wednesday) : #109 : FRIGHTENED RABBIT

This week sees another band that has featured a fair bit round this way over the years.

Frightened Rabbit formed in the Scottish Borders town of Selkirk in 2003, but for the most part have been based in Glasgow.

They have released five albums thus far, along with the best part of 20 singles/EPs, going from small indie labels to a lucrative deal with Atlantic Records back in 2012. I was lucky enough to catch them on many occasions during their stellar rise, watching and enjoying them grown in ability and confidence all the while.

Their sophomore album, The Midnight Organ Fight, released in 2008 is nothing short of a masterpiece and a work that I would have no hesitation in placing very near the top of the best ever LPs by any Scottish singer or band. It’s actually quite hard to imagine that f’Rabbit were so unknown at the time of its release that the launch was via a free show at Mono Records…

I’ve liked some but not all of the material since the move to the major label not that it matters as there is no doubt its has massively broadened their appeal, certainly here in Scotland where they have become something of an institution with live shows selling out in double-quick time. They remain a superb attraction in the live setting, and their show with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Paisley in October 2017 was one of the highlights in a year that was packed with them. I’m hoping, in due time, some material from that night will be made available.

I’m absolutely delighted that they are so popular as frontman Scott Hutchison has always been one of the nicest men in the music business, always happy to talk to fans and those with an interest in the band, giving freely of his time to bloggers as well as numerous worthy charitable causes. Not sure if I’ll ever again adore anything as much as I did that 2008 album….they are touring it and playing it a series of 10th anniversary gigs this year, and tempting as it is to go along, I’m going to make do with the memories of the small and intimate venues where you could see the frontman welling up from the heartfelt emotions associated with songs that were written to cope with a painful break-up, mixed in with the pride and happiness that was coming from the reactions of the ever-growing audience.

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Keep Yourself Warm

JC

HALF TIME SCORES

Tuesdays.  A day early for shouting out the half time scores of the latest set of ties.

To be read out in the voice of the bloke who has that particular task each home game at Stark’s Park, Kirkcaldy.*

Gemma Ray 9 v The Lightning Seeds 22
The Woodentops 11 v The Go-Betweens (2) 19
Mission of Burma 2 v The Smiths 28
A Certain Ratio 12 v Arab Strap 15
Supergrass 15 v Wire 15
Queens of the Stone Age 8 v The Fall 22
Elvis Costello & The Attractions 12 v Half Man Half Biscuit 19
Prefab Sprout (2) 17 v The Blue Aeroplanes 13
Beach House 13 v British Sea Power 20
Magazine 22 v Prince 8
Lambchop 15 v Martha & The Muffins 16
Everything But The Girl 21 v The Libertines 8
Kanye West 8 v SBTRKT 10
Talking Heads 20 v Massive Attack 11
The Twilight Sad 7 v Pavement 21
The Orwells 7 v Pete Wylie 19

(all as at 6pm on Monday 22 January)

Click here for a reminder of what the full list of songs are. Deadline is Friday midnight. All being well, I’ll announce the results on Saturday morning at the same time as releasing the next 16 fixtures.

A fair number of the ties are still very much up for grabs, although my heart is heavy as I watch personal faves The Twilight Sad suffer at the hands of Pavement, although I knew it was the likely outcome.   Looking likely too that some teams will depart from the scene despite scoring more goals than the eventual winner of Kanye West v SBTRKT.  Would still prefer things that way than to have the draw seeded or rigged…..

Time, once more, for a banging half-time tune

mp3 : Calvin Harris – Feels So Close

JC*

*yup, they are one and the same.

THAT WAS THE MODERN WORLD

The recent(ish) postings about The Specials and the recollections of helping out at youth nights held at my school in 1980/81 got me thinking about some of the other music that was played and went down well with the 12-14 year olds. One such band, who I can honestly say I haven’t given any thought to in almost 40 years until pulling this piece together, is The Lambrettas.

I remember them having couple of hit singles, and I’ll come to them in due course. The thing I hadn’t quite remembered was that the singles were big hits and led to the band being regulars for a while on Top of the Pops.

Wiki has had to be my friend today, and what follows is derived from the page on the band.

The Lambrettas were a mod revival band, first active in the late 1970s and early 1980s and named after the iconic Italian scooter brand. The original line-up consisted of Jez Bird (singer/guitarist), Doug Sanders (guitarist/vocalist), Mark Ellis (bassist) and Paul Wincer (drummer).

Their biggest hit was a cover version of the 1950s Leiber and Stoller song, Poison Ivy, which reached #7 in the UK Singles Chart and they scored a #12 hit with the follow-up, Da-a-a-nce. In the same year, they released the album Beat Boys in the Jet Age, which reached #28 on the UK Albums Chart, and scored another minor hit single, Another Day (Another Girl) (hastily renamed from “Page 3” after complaints from The Sun newspaper). After the Mod revival faded, subsequent singles, which included a cover of Somebody to Love (the Jefferson Airplane song and NOT the one by Queen!!), and a second album, 1981’s Ambience, were commercial failures. The band played their final concert in their original incarnation in London on 14 April 1982.

Jez Bird re-formed the band for a time in the 1990s but without much success. In August 2008, he died, of cancer, at the ridiculously young age of 50.

Doug Sanders and Paul Wincer reunited to play a one-off gig as The Lambrettas at the “Modrophenia ’79” event in Brighton in August 2009, with them being joined by two new members on guitar and bass. The response to the show was such that they ended up playing a series of gigs and tour over the ensuing years, adding a three-piece brass section along the way. In February 2017, The Lambrettas released an EP, their first new music in 35 years.

Here’s the two hit singles from 1980. They remain listenable and enjoyable. They certainly took me back in time and brought back some happy memories of a very innocent time when life was completely carefree.

mp3 : The Lambrettas – Poison Ivy
mp3 : The Lambrettas – Da-a-a-nce

No real surprise I liked these, particularly the latter, given that at that time, I thought The Jam were, and would always be, the most important act in musical history.

JC

THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 15)

One of my favourite bloggers is Swiss Adam from Bagging Area.  He is a superb writer, especially on all things Mancunian, and he was responsible for a superb piece on Touched By The Hand of God last year.  It’s well worth a read.  So much so, I’m reproducing it:-

New Order put out two non-album singles in 1987, True Faith and Touched By The Hand Of God. True Faith was the chart smash, the crossover hit with the award winning video but Touched… has long been its equal to these ears. The juddering synth bass intro was written by Hooky, waiting around for the others to arrive at their rehearsal studio, their timekeeping being a long standing gripe of Hooky’s. Tellingly in Substance Hooky notes that ‘Barney was happy with it’. From there on in the full band contributed to fleshing it out. Originally Touched… was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Salvation!, a parody of televangelism (a straight to VHS release). New Order recorded several other songs for the soundtrack and then had Arthur Baker remix Touched… for its release in December 1987 as a single. There’s an effortlessness about it, synth-pop disco brilliance, which makes it favourite of mine, Hooky’s bass well represented and Bernard’s lyrics seeming to carry the weight of personal experience.

Kathryn Bigelow’s video, shot at their Cheetham Hill studio and intercut with MTV video pisstake snippets, is a hoot- all the group dressed as a hair metal band (and Hooky in his normal clothes).

Only thing is, I disagree vehemently with him and have nothing good to say about this single (nor its accompanying promo).

mp3 : New Order – Touched By The Hand Of God (12″)
mp3 : New Order – Touched By The Hand Of Dub (12″)

The dub version sounds like a tune Howard Jones would have rejected. Oh, and if you want the 7″ version of the a-side, you’ll find it at a posting a few weeks ago back here.

Today’s cuts were extracted from a second (or maybe third or fourth-hand) copy picked up for not too much money some 7 or 8 years ago. It’s still one of the cheapest New Order singles available via Discogs and the likes…probably as a good number of copies were sold at the time of its release, with it hitting #20 in the UK singles charts.

JC

BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 1 (Part 2)

Going to kick things off with the results from Week 1:-

The Lemonheads 30 Spoon 11
The Indelicates 11 Kitchens of Distinction 28
Butcher Boy 28 The Magnetic Fields 8
The Feelies 17 Paul Quinn 21
Big Audio Dynamite 32 The Streets 9
Talk Talk 24 Death In Vegas 18
Sonic Youth 25 Billy Joel 14
PJ Harvey 25  Malcolm Ross 16
Associates 15 Edwyn Collins 26
LCD Soundsystem 5 New Order 36
The Cramps 32 Shit Robot 5
Deacon Blue 5 The Wedding Present 35
The Police 25 v Captain Beefheart 13
The Charlatans 26 The Mekons 14
Saint Etienne 28 v The Sugarplastic 10
Tilly and The Wall 5 Orange Juice 37

No real drama this week – only The Feelies/Paul Quinn match-up saw the tie see-sawing occasionally back and forth; all the other winners established early leads which they built on.  I think what it does show is that if a truly legendary song is aired, as in the case of Blue Monday, then even an opponent as strong, on paper, as LCD Soundsystem really are up against it.  The rules of this competition mean that New Order can’t be represented by that song again…which could be crucial if they make the latter stages.

Thanks to everyone who voted – and I really appreciated the occasional piece of commentary – it was interesting to see that some of the choices were very tough.  But guess what….it doesn’t get any easier, although in saying that, the really big match-ups are in weeks 3 and 4.  The 16 ties in week 2 may lack some of the glamour, but there’s plenty of intriguing match-ups and I can guarantee that some households, particularly in the south-west of the UK, will be bemoaning the random nature of the draw.

Deadline is Friday 26 January, midnight UK time. Once again, don’t feel you have to vote in all instances.

Gemma Ray v The Lightning Seeds

Fist Of A Flower (from ‘Lights Out Zoltar!’ 2009) v You Showed Me (from Dizzy Heights, 1996)

The Woodentops v The Go-Betweens (2)

Plenty (single, 1984) v The Wrong Road (from Liberty Belle and The Black Diamond Express, 1986)

Mission of Burma v The Smiths

Slow Faucet (from ‘The Sound The Speed The Light’, 2009) v Accept Yourself (12″ b-side, 1983)

A Certain Ratio v Arab Strap

Lucinda (from Sextet, 1982) v The First Big Weekend (single, 1996)

Supergrass v Wire (2)

Richard III (from In It For The Money, 1997) v Another The Letter (from Chairs Missing, 1978)

Queens of the Stone Age v The Fall

Monsters In The Parasol (from Rated R, 2000) v 15 Ways (from Permanent Records, 1994)

Elvis Costello & The Attractions v Half Man Half Biscuit

Strict Time (from Trust, 1981) v 1966 And All That (from Trumpton Riots EP, 1986)

Prefab Sprout (2) v The Blue Aeroplanes

Enchanted (from From Langley Park to Memphis, 1988) v Bury Your Love Like Treasure (from Spitting Out Miracles, 1987)

Beach House v British Sea Power

Tim Badger’s two favourite bands go head-to-head.  The TV companies snatched this one up:-

Space Song (from Depression Cherry (2015)

Waving Flags (from Do You Like Rock Music 2008)

Magazine v Prince (live)

The Light Pours Out Of Me (from Real Life, 1978) v The Whole Of The Moon (live at Paisley Park, 2 May 2015)

Lambchop v Martha & the Muffins

The Old Gold Shoe (from Nixon, 2000) v Black Stations / White Stations (from Mystery Walk, 1984)

Everything But The Girl v The Libertines

Draining The Bar (from Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, 1986) v All At Sea (b-side, 2004)

Kanye West v SBTRKT

Runaway (from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 2010) v Sanctuary (from SBTRKT, 2011)

Talking Heads v Massive Attack

Paper (from Fear of Music, 1979) v Man Next Door (single, 1999)

The Twilight Sad v Pavement

Sick (from No One Can Ever Know, 2012) v Summer Babe (from Slanted and Enchanted, 1992)

The Orwells v Pete Wylie

The Righteous One (single, 2014) v Remember (single by Shambeko Say Wah!, 1982)

The next 16 ties will be revealed next Saturday.  Trust me, you will be taking time off work to tune into to some of the match-ups.

JC

ANOTHER POP CLASSIC ON FACTORY

Cath Carroll was part of yesterday’s Factory ICA and it was the very inclusion of England Made Me that stopped me featuring FAC 179 in the posting:-

mp3 : Miaow – When It All Comes Down

Miaow had Cath Carroll on vocals and guitar, with Ron Caine on bass and Chris Fenner on drums. They had released a debut single Belle Vue in late 1985 on their own Venus Records which led to Factory taking them into the studio with the first fruits being this catchy pop single that sounded pure indie-pop but also tipped its hat to 60s girl/harmony groups.

It really is a hugely enjoyable piece of music and I’ve gone digging deep to find the extended 12″ remix.

mp3 : Miaow – When It All Comes Down (Catechism)

And finally, here’s your b-side:-

mp3 : Miaow – Did She

More evidence that the Manc label in the mid 80s wasn’t entirely devoted to miserablists or the painfully obscure.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #151 : FACTORY RECORDS

As mentioned in the day before yesterday’s posting on The Railway Children, I’d forgotten the fact that they were, for a short time, on Factory Records. In finishing off the post and referring to a possible ICA from any fans of the band out there, it hit me that a label-based ICA could be a good idea, and indeed would be open to a number of volumes from guests.

In going about the task, I decided that the rules would have to be no Joy Division/New Order/Electronic/Happy Mondays or singles that were well-known hits back in the day. I also decided that there shouldn’t be more than one song by a particular singer or band. So with all that in mind, here’s my stab at a Factory Records ICA:-

SIDE A

1. Section 25 – Looking From A Hilltop (Restructure) (FAC 108)

Section 25, consisting of brothers Larry and Vincent Cassidy, signed to Factory in 1981. They didn’t, initially, seem to have anything that made them really stand out from the crowd and seemed to fit in with the doom & gloom raincoat wearing brigade that were so attracted to the label (Incidentally, I include myself in that put-down).

In 1984 they underwent a seismic transformation for their third album From The Hip. They added Jenny Ross (who was in fact Mrs Larry Cassidy) on vocals and keyboards and, with the help of Bernard Sumner in the producer’s chair, moved to a more pop/electro sound. One of the LPs most enduring tracks was Life From A Hilltop which was, in due course given a bit of a remix and released as a single which subsequently turned into a much deserved underground club hit. Still sounds great all these years later.

2. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity (FAC 6)

The first single by OMD and less polished that the later re-recorded and better-known versions for DinDisc.

The story goes that following a successful debut gig at Eric’s in Liverpool, at which they supported Joy Division, the duo sent off a tape of their demo to Tony Wilson in the hope of having it released on Factory. The boss wasn’t that keen on it, but his wife, Lindsay Reade, thought Electricity sounded good and so he decided to release it on a one-off basis with it becoming just the third piece of vinyl to be issued by the label, with 5,000 copies pressed up. It received a fair bit of critical praise and although it didn’t chart, set the duo up for a multi-album deal and the initial steps along the road to fame and fortune. How different might have the Factory story turned out if OMD had been offered and signed a long-term deal with the label…..

3. Cath Carrol – England Made Me (album track from FACT 210)

Cath Carrol had long been part of the wider Manchester scene before ending up on Factory Records. Her career in music began in 1979 as one of the mainstays behind the fanzine City Fun, while at the same time she was part of the band Glass Animals. She was initially more successful as a writer, ending up on the staff of NME, although her mid-80s band Miaow did enjoy a bit of success on the indie-circuit.

There were a number of years and different locations utilised for the solo album England Made Me and the expense involved is often cited as one of the factors behind the financial demise of Factory Records. Whatever hopes everyone had were never realised and despite a reasonably warm critical response to the bossa nova/dance sound that dominated the LP, it bombed in the shops. I’m not arguing that any this track is among the label’s finest moments, but it does fits well on this particular ICA at this point.

4. Revenge – I’m Not Your Slave (FAC 279)

Revenge was the name that Peter Hook took for his band when he issued his solo material in the wake of the decision by Bernard Sumner to put New Order to the side. A much-derided project at the time, particularly in comparison to what Sumner was achieving with Electronic, much of the material hasn’t aged all that well, although I remain fond of this particular single.

5. Stockholm Monsters – National Pastime (FAC 107)

Finishing this side off with the b-side to a single. Stockholm Monsters weren’t, it seems to me, taken that seriously by anyone outside of Factory – the fact they had a stupid name for a band didn’t help matters; still, it could be worse, they could have called themselves Crispy Ambulance.

This was actually a late addition to the ICA…it’s a song I’ve known since its 1984 release as it was played a lot by one of my flatmates who declared it a bonafide classic.  He even managed to persuade the student union DJ to air it a few times on the ‘alternative disco’ Thursday nights.  I’ve never owned a copy of the single and it is an expensive one on the second hand market, but a couple of week back Swiss Adam featured it over in the Bagging Area and I nicked it from there when he wasn’t looking!  Feels right to let him say a few words…

Opening with clattering drums and a low slung bass, then a beautifully naive topline and a wonderful non-singer’s vocal. Produced by Peter Hook and lost by a record company who wouldn’t pay for pluggers and promotion because they believed the music would sell itself. If this was the only song they’d released, they’d still more than deserve a place in a version of mid-80s indie scene. A little slice of perfection.

Indeed.

SIDE B

1. Durutti Column – Requiem For A Father (album track from FACT 14)

This ICA just has to include Durutti Column, an act every bit as important to the Factory story as any other . It was, of course, for the most part a solo project for Vini Reilly whose approach to writing and recording has always been idiosyncratic and, consequently, a tad on the inconsistent side.

I’m not his biggest fan and don’t actually have that much in the collection, relying on the recommendations from other blogs as well as this guest ICA to broaden my horizons. I’ve gone back to the debut album, The Return of the Durutti Column, released in 1980 and which was a genuine band effort featuring Pete Crooks on bass and Toby Toman on drums. It is a track reminiscent in places of Young Marble Giants.

2. A Certain Ratio – Do The Du (Peel Session) (from FACT 16)

Another band that has been the subject of an ICA – and more than once thanks to Echorich and Swiss Adam, two of the finest and most knowledgable writers out there. Click here and here for reminders. A Certain Ratio were an act that I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to back in the day, something which I now regret as I’ve come to realise, with the benefit of hindsight, that I missed out on something very decent.

Do The Du was the opening song on Side A of The Graveyard and The Ballroom, their first release on Factory in February 1980. It was a cassette release with Side A – The Graveyard – being 7 recordings in a studio of that name and Side B – The Ballroom – being 7 recordings live at the Electric Ballroom.

3. The Wake – Of The Matter (FAC 113)

As I said when I featured The Wake on this blog back in December 2014, they were a Scottish act whom I saw a few times back in the day as support to New Order. The Wake were the first band that Bobby Gillespie was part of, and although he had long departed by the time this single was released in 1985, it is one that has a twee-like sound not unlike early Primal Scream.

4. The Adventure Babies – Camper Van (FACD 319)

A single from 1991. It is followed in the Factory discography by FACT 320 which is the number given to Pills’n’Thrills and Bellyaches by Happy Mondays, the album that really launched them into the stratosphere.

The Adventure Babies turned out to be the final band ever signed by Factory before the label suffered the bankruptcy. This was the lead track from their debut EP, released in 1991, and it is as far removed from a ‘Factory-type’ song as can be imagined. I really liked it at when it was released and bought it on 12″ vinyl, but time hasn’t been that kind to it.

5. Steve and Gillian – Loved It (FACD 251)

This side opened with an instrumental and so I thought it would make sense to end it with something similar.

FACD 251 was a one-track CD pressed to commemorate the opening of the new Factory Headquarters in 1990. Loved It was recorded at the home studio of Steve Morris and Gillian Gilbert and the samples are from the Channel 4 ‘New Order Play At Home’ documentary. The track was later re-released in October 1993 on the album The Other Two And You which came out on London Records.

So there you have it. A real mixed-bag of things, rather like the label itself.  Hopefully, there’s something for everyone. Oh, and if any of the above stated info is wrong, it is entirely in keeping with the label’s philosophy of printing the myth rather than the truth….

JC

PS : FAC 51 was The Hacienda.  This is ICA 151 which closes with FACD 251.  FAC 151 was interesting.