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





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.


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.


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.


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



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.



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.



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.



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……?



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.


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.


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