BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 2 (Part 8)

And so we come to the end of March and what will be the final ties of Round 2.  There’s been a fair bit tension the past seven weeks albeit most of the ties have been settled by reasonably comfortable margins.  The last eight teams are the usual mix of big names and cult heroes and perhaps offering the opportunity to allow some lesser lights a chance to progress.  But before all that, here’s what you made of last week’s tasty offerings….and in case you missed it, the amazing match report from Jonny the Friendly Lawyer on The Stranglers v The Police in which he works in at least sixteen song titles….

Down in Guilford the Stranglers/Police match has a brief stoppage while Sting gets a manicure on the pitch.

The old codgers bring on the nubiles from the stands which distracts Andy Summers, the leading side’s demolition man.

Jet Black smuggles an ice pick to make your ears burn into his sock, thinking it might be necessary to straighten out the scoreline.

Cornwell observes that when the clock is running down you make the best of what’s still around and urges the band to (get a) grip (on themselves) before the canary falls down the coal mine. The ref shouts for both sides to rehumanize themselves and get on with it.

5 Minutes of added time when Stewart Copeland realizes he’s American and doesn’t know what he’s doing on the pitch. King of pain JJ Burnel abandons protocol and turns to karate, intimidating the 3 blondes until they’re so lonely, not standing so close to each other at the far edges of the touchline.

Sting, refreshed from his attentions can’t standing losing and hears the voices in his head shouting that Greenfield has just been hanging around the entire game. At the death it all boils down to who wants the world? most…

Stranglers stage massive comeback and win on penalties because they’ve got an extra band member.

Sadly for Jonny, his prediction of that particular result didn’t come through…..

The Stranglers 10 v The Police 26
Daft Punk 22 v Emiliana Torrini 14
The Clash 28 v R.E.M.(2) 12
The Skids 17 v The The 22

Matches 29-32 of Round 2

The Lemonheads v Prefab Sprout

The Lemonheads have been waiting ages to play their second match having been involved in Game 1 of Week 1 of Round 1 when they took care of business against Spoon.  Not that the wait truly troubled uber-stoner Evan Dando who just quietly sat in a corner waiting on his side being called to the pitch to strut their stuff.  I think Evan would have been initally pleased to be up against someone of a kindred spirit in Paddy McAloon whose Prefab Sprout may have the potential to go all the way, as demonstrated in an easy win against The Blue Aeroplanes last time out. But Evan’s winning and wholesome smile would surely have been masking some pain when he learned what Paddy is throwing at him in this tie.

Ride With Me (from Lovey, 1990) v When Love Breaks Down (from Steve McQueen, 1985)

Julian Cope (2) v The Housemartins

I feel I should quote from strictly rockers opening remarks when he penned the first of what turned out to be towo ICAs for Julian Cope : “He is the only artist I feel remotely qualified to compile an Imaginary Album for; he is the artist I’ve seen live most and own more albums than any other. Following the Archdrude through thick and thin sometimes feels more ordeal than pleasure and his prolific output occasionally appears to shoot wide but, in his words, he is always ‘true to my metaphor’ and never fails to deliver on attitude, enthusiasm and sheer energy. ”

My own words for The Housemartins were : “The self-styled ‘fourth best band in Hull’ only released two studio albums and nine singles in their all too brief time and some might argue this isn’t enough to merit an ICA, It’s also true that two of them (Paul and Norman) went onto enjoy more fame and fortune in later bands or as solo artists, one of them (Stan) did all sorts of things before becoming a very succesful writer of children’s book and TV scripts for a young audience and the other (Hugh) was part of other indie-pop outfits before he ended up in jail.”

It’s clearly a game of contrasts and having, respectively, seen off Joe Strummer and Gene last time out, once again it’s a battle of English Roses.

Don’t Jump Me Mother (a cover version b-side, 1995) v We’re Not Deep (from London 0 Hull 4, 1986)

The Pixies v Billy Bragg

I won’t waste time insulting your intelligence by saying much about these two teams.  But it does match up one of the finest ever from New England against the bloke who wrote A New England.  And it also offers the contrast of something live that is raw and energetic against one of the most unapologetically tear-jerkers of all time.

Vamos (live from Brixton Academy, 2004) v Tank Park Salute (from Don’t Try This At Home, 1991)

Ride v Asian Dub Foundation

Outside of the ICAs, these two haven’t featured too often on the blog.  The Ride effort came from SWC while ADF was courtesy of his sidekick Tim Badger;  makes sense just to cut’n’paste from their pieces.

Ride are probably one of the most unsung bands of the last couple of generations, they were pioneers of the much missed Shoegaze scene and with their debut album ‘Nowhere’ they created one of the best records of the nineties (those who remember my 40 albums to hear before I am 40, would have read all about this if I had time to finish it – that album folks is the 6th best ever.  Also as a sub note – it was really hard to not simply just pick the tracks from ‘Nowhere’ here in the ICA.

Asian Dub Foundation in the late 90s and early 00s released two wonderful records, these being Rafis Revenge and the seminal Community Music;  the latter is described by some as the most important record ever released. It isn’t quite that, but it is certainly utterly wonderful. Both are angry, overflowing with polemic lyrics and a strong sense of trying to right the wrongs of society. These two records are their best – and obviously make up the bulk of this compilation.  It was these two records that took them from being whispered about underground urbanistas to overground in your face forces to be reckoned with.

Vapour Trail (from Nowhere, 1990) v Real Great Britain (from Community Music, 2000)

JC adds…..You got your wishes, boys…..maybe you should let KT vote on this one!  The closing date for votes this week is Friday 6 April at 10am.

The numbers for the draw for Round 3 are as follows:-

1. The Fall
2. Talking Heads
3. Edwyn Collins
4. The Velvet Underground
5. New Order
6. The Charlatans
7. Lightning Seeds
8. St Etienne
9. The Jam
10. Half Man Half Biscuit
11. Pete Wylie
12. The Wedding Present
13. Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
14. Orange Juice
15. Pulp
16. Pavement
17. The Jesus and Mary Chain
18. XTC
19. The Smiths
20. The Durutti Column
21. OMD
22. Wire
23. Echo & The Bunnymen
24. Butcher Boy
25. The Police
26. Daft Punk
27. The Clash
28. The The
29. Lemonheads or Prefab Sprout
30. Julian Cope or The Housemartins
31. The Pixies or Billy Bragg
32. Ride or Asian Dub Foundation

Not a huge range of diversity it has to be admitted, but so much to look forward to…first four ties of the round will be revealed next Saturday with the remainder to follow throughout April.

JC

 

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (16)

I could have sworn that Up The Bracket was the debut 45 by The Libertines – it was certainly the first time I ever heard the band back in the day and I’ve long said that the song was one which immediately grabbed my attention, offering much enjoyment with both the vocal and the playing.

There had, however, been an earlier 45 just three months earlier in June 2002, one that had sneaked into the charts at #37 despite what I suspect was next to no plays on the radio or the satellite TV channels which hosted a fair bit of indie music at that time. The use of the words ‘fucking’, ‘pissed’ and ‘cunt’ saw that to that, not forgetting the very clear references to sniffing cocaine and rent boys. It’s a track that saw the band work alongside Bernard Butler with the ex-Suede man in the producer’s chair, and although Mick Jones would go on and do great things with them in a similar position later on, I tend to think that this was the band’s career highlight:-

mp3 : The Libertines – What A Waster

The 45 was in fact a double-A side with a real punky/new wave effort on offer….I’m guessing this would have gotten some air play….assuming the sweary word was edited out….it’s decent enough, but not a patch on What A Waster:-

mp3 : The Libertines – I Get Along

In fact, listening again it could almost pass for something by Razorlight whom critics were quick to dismiss as one-trick and show-off ponies.

If you’re fortunate enough to own this 7″, which came out on Rough Trade, you can get £25 and upwards on the second-hand market.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #159 : PIZZICATO FIVE

A GUEST POSTING by ALEX G

from the We Will Have Salad blog

Alright, finally got this ICA finished! Only been sitting on it for about two years…

You have Saint Etienne to thank for this one. Back when Matador Records started repackaging Tokyo band Pizzicato Five‘s music for an international audience back in the mid 1990s, the alleged similarity between the two groups was quite strongly played up (at least in the UK press), and I think this must be the main reason I took a chance on the introductory compilation Made in USA. Apart from the obvious language difference (Pizzicato Five perform mainly in Japanese – there, you’ve been warned!), the comparisons were not unwarranted.

Saint Etienne fans will recognise a lot of the same traits in P5: the merging of sixties pop and nineties dance, the imagination and intelligence that undercuts their dalliances with kitsch, the (then) backroom duo + girl singer set-up (though one of the backroom boys left just as the group were starting to make waves internationally), and more regrettably, a fondness for releasing music in obscure formats that most fans don’t have a hope in hell of ever owning. Just to put the seal on it, Saint Etienne remixed P5 on several occasions, though with somewhat underwhelming results.

Because Made in USA was the album that tastemakers and TV and film editors picked up on the most, it became a “greatest hits” album by default, and it would be too easy for this Imaginary Compilation Album to turn into a slightly modified version of that collection. Fortunately, with Pizzicato Five being so ridiculously prolific, there was plenty of material to choose from. I have included one song which is also on Made In USA, but in a different version, so this imaginary compilation can be considered a sort of companion piece to that real one.

I’m sure that another Pizzicato Five fan might come up with a completely different set of ten tracks, as might I on a different day. “LOUDLAND!” and “Contact” are perhaps the wildest of the wildcard selections here, with “Happy Sad” and “The Night Is Still Young” the safest inclusions, but really there are so many ways you could go with a P5 compilation that even getting close to a definitive selection would be nigh-on impossible. That’s my excuse anyway! What I can say is that this is a selection of tracks I enjoy and I think other people might like too. Which is pretty much the whole point, right?

Side one

Mon Amour Tokyo (English-language single version – original appears on Happy End of the World, 1997)

Introducing your dynamic duo: Maki Nomiya (vocals) and Yasuharu Konishi (keyboards, guitar and backing vocals). I think it’s a good idea to start with the track that sounds most like a theme tune – in this case the theme to a retro action movie, the sort where the hero wears a leather jacket with a beige turtleneck sweater underneath. This was was also P5’s only UK top 75 entry, which surprised me a bit as I don’t remember ever hearing it played anywhere, and there’s another song on this compilation which I could have sworn was a minor hit. Having not played my CD single of this for years, another surprise was that it’s got an English language version on it, and that’s the one I’ve included here. Don’t get used to it, it’s going to be mostly Japanese from here on in…

This Year’s Girl #5 / Baby Love Child (from This Year’s Girl, 1991)

This is the only song on this collection dating from P5’s time as a trio, featuring Keitarō Takanami on keyboards and guitar. And in case you’re wondering: yes, they did start out as a quintet, but that line-up didn’t last very long. Pizzicato Five were active from 1985 to 2001 but it wasn’t until 1991 that they really found their feet: that was the year that they changed labels, promoted former backing vocalist Maki Nomiya to frontwoman, and shifted away from Swing Out Sister-esque sophisti-pop to the dance-meets-retro style which they continued to explore for the next decade. One of the first fruits was “Baby Love Child”, one of a few P5 songs that have brushed the fringes of public awareness over the years. In this case its recognition is mainly owed to being used – once! – in “Futurama”, in the 2002 episode “Leela’s Homeworld” to be exact.

Baby Love Child is the one song on this ICA which also appears on Made In USA, but instead of the English language version on that collection (or the misconceived remix released as a single ahead of it) I’ve opted for the original Japanese version, which also has small differences in the arrangement – though that need not concern you unless you intend to get as trainspottery as me! For a bit of colour, I’ve also thrown in the short interlude that preceded it on “This Year’s Girl”.

The Night Is Still Young (Readymade MFSB Mix) (from A Television’s Workshop EP, 1994)

While 1991’s turning-point LP This Year’s Girl fell squarely into the realm of “alternative dance”, its immediate follow-up Sweet Pizzicato Five was a proper no-holding-back club-oriented dance album, and while they never went quite so full-on again, there were enough such numbers down the years to maintain their appeal to clubbers as well as the retro crowd. This song in particular is a key track which they revisited several times over the years, beginning with a 1993 single.

The original was more of a house track, but if P5 had to choose a definitive version, I suspect they’d go for this disco-type arrangement which they originally cut for a children’s TV show. The chorus hook, which is also the Japanese title, translates as “7pm in Tokyo”. “The Night Is Still Young” is a perfectly good title as well, but I don’t know why they changed it. Also of note: the first appearance on this ICA of P5’s band catchphrase, “a new stereophonic sound spectacular!”. You’ll be hearing that again…

LOUDLAND! (from Pizzicato Five TM, 1999)

P5 never really sounded at home in the “rock” idiom, though I enjoy their occasional visits. This particular song starts off deceptively quiet, starts to live up to its title (CAPITAL LETTERS AND AN EXCLAMATION MARK!), then swings around into a chorus straight out of the flower power era. Strange but charmingly so.

Triste (single edit – original appears on Romantique 96, 1995)

By way of contrast, just a simple pop song pepped up with a horn section. This is the single edit but you’re not missing anything from the album version, which just carries on the “repeat to fade” for another 30 seconds (too long really) before crashing awkwardly into the track after it.

Side Two

Darlin’ Of Discotheque (single version – custom instrumental edit) (Darlin’ Of Discotheque EP, 1999)

Working on the principle of “What would Saint Etienne do (if they were Japanese)?”, this is your Stoned To Say The Least / Cool Kids Of Death-style overly long instrumental. Actually, the 11:27 full length version of this is not entirely instrumental, but it does take seven and a half minutes before Maki bursts into song. As you might expect, the radio edit majored on those final four minutes, which is fair enough and exactly what we’d all do in the circumstances. Then along came the next album, Pizzicato Five TM, with “Darlin Of Discotheque” on it as a seven-and-a-half minute instrumental. Also fair enough, but the catch is that it wasn’t an instrumental edit of the single but a completely different version, and in my opinion an inferior one. Hence this custom instrumental edit, not available in the shops!

Happy Sad (bilingual version from the US compilation The Sound Of Music, 1995 – original version appears on Overdose, 1994)

The feelgood 60s pop-soul vibe is strong on this track, which I always thought was a minor British hit, but apparently wasn’t. In fact, not only was it not a hit, but Discogs doesn’t list it as having been released as a single in the UK at all. I hadn’t realised that both of the formats I have it on are US imports. It was issued as a single there to tie in with its appearance in the fashion documentary film “Unzipped”, and there were actually two different videos: the original Japanese one, with Maki and session guitarist Gemi Taylor larking about in disco gear, which suits the track perfectly; and the US one, with moody black-and-white clips of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista et al., which… didn’t, so much. The former can be found on YouTube; the latter seems to have disappeared, but it’s no great loss. Anyhow, this is still one of my favourite Pizzicato Five songs and on this mix you get the benefit of verses in both English and Japanese.

Contact (from Romantique 96, 1995)

A Serge Gainsbourg song covered with a nod to Kraftwerk (there’s either a quotation or an outright sample from “Pocket Calculator” in there), with guest producer Towa Tei (then recently departed from Deee-Lite) bringing the bleeps and bloops.

I Hear A Symphony (single version – a very different version appears on The International Playboy & Playgirl Record, 1998)

Up for a bit of pretend orchestra-conducting? Go on, nobody’s watching (yet). A suitably big finish.

Finish? Well, we’ve got two sides of about 21 minutes each, so that’s a vinyl album right there, and strictly speaking “This Year’s Girl #5” and “Baby Love Child” are separate songs, so technically I’ve already given you ten tracks. But I don’t want you to feel cheated, so…

CD bonus track

Tokyo, Mon Amour (from Romantique 96, 1995)

Let’s imagine we’ve gathered up the Pizzicato Five catalogue and taken it back in time to, say, 1986. What shall we give those early adopters who’ve shelled out extra for a shiny unbreakable compact disc? Something smooth, something lush, something, shall we say, “romantique”? Something suitable for playing late at night in a modernist apartment with parquet flooring, a settee in the middle of the room and a picture window looking out over the city lights. I think this should hit the spot! Glass of wine, anyone?

ALEX G

JC adds………….It’s contributions like this that make me incredibly proud of this little corner of the internet and everyone who is part of it.  I had no idea of the existence of Pizzicato Five until the email with the words and tunes dropped into the inbox.  Having read the piece and immediaely appreciating that love, attention and care that’s gone into the text and the incredible artwork which Alex pulled together, I couldn’t wait to listen…..and when I did, I loved it. I hope you all feel the same.

HALF TIME SCORES

It’s been a fascinating first half across all four games.  The Clash are destroying R.E.M. and thus laying down a marker for the remainder of the tournament while many others have, seemingly, unwillingly cast their votes for The Police on the basis that the song representing The Stranglers isn’t regarded as one of their best or most accessible. Both ties already look formalities.

The other two match-ups are much closer affairs.

Daft Punk and Emiliana Torrini have both enjoyed small leads before being pegged back, although the French are now on a bit of a roll and the current gap is at its widest.  The The began their match at a blistering pace racing into an eight goal lead at one point, but the killer combination of Jobson and Adamson have steadied the ship and The Skids could yet make history by being the first to mount a comeback win of seismic proportions.

The Stranglers 6 v The Police 22
Daft Punk 16 v Emiliana Torrini 12
The Clash 22 v R.E.M.(2) 9
The Skids 14 v The The 17

This week’s half-time, as per the newly adopted practice, comes from the ICA of a singer or band knocked out in the last round by one of the above eight sides:-

mp3 : Radiohead – National Anthem

Remember….if you haven’t vote yet, you have until midnight this coming Friday.

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG (on a Tuesday) : #118 : GROOVY LITTLE NUMBERS

The Groovy Little Numbers were from Bellshill and were the brainchild of Joe McAlinden, himself a former member of The Boy Hairdressers alongside Norman Blake.

Joe McAlinden, who was (and still is) a multi-instrumentalist, joined forces with Catherine Steven (vocals) and  Gerard Love (bass, vocals) to form Groovy Little Numbers in 1987. The group also incorporated a brass section from the Motherwell Youth Orchestra comprising Colette Walsh (tenor saxophone), John McRorie (alto sax), Kevin McCarthy (baritone sax), Mairi Cameron (trumpet), and James Wood (trumpet).

There were two EPs, both on 53rd & 3rd, released in January and August 1988. This is the lead track from the second of them:-

mp3 : The Groovy Little Numbers – Happy Like Yesterday

A marvellously, upbeat and catchy track.  The two b-sides weren’t bad either:-

mp3 : The Groovy Little Numbers – Shoot Me Down
mp3 : The Groovy Little Numbers – A Place So Hard To Find

Joe would later join the BMX Bandits in 1991 and nowadays he records as Linden, while Gerry became part of Teenage Fanclub. That’s of course, the abbreviated story!!

JC

TRUE CONFESSIONS : JACK AND DIANE

A GUEST POSTING by THE FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH

Father VV

Please hear my confession.

Growing up in the 80s I was a bit of a Little Britainer as far as music was concerned and especially snobby when it came to anything out of the states. There was only really Talking Heads who i had anytime for and like most early teens had a bit of a crush on Debbie Harry. I had an especially big distaste for anything that sniffed too much of rock n rawl.

However, one track came along which I really should have hated but became a secret vice that even today raises a smile on the rare occasions it pops up on shuffle. At the time i was a compulsive compliation tape complier and would force them onto anyone who I knew. I can safely say that this track has never appeared on any of these tapes.

The whole thing is a tad ridiculous to the point of parody (college football star and debutante! , I ask you) and it is by a man who felt the need to insert an animal between his first and surnames.

I have a secret love for Jack and Diane by John “Cougar” Mellancamp.

The thing gives me strange small pleasures such as a first line “ a little ditty” not story , not song , not tale but ditty. There was the other worldliness of the Tastee Freez ( I had no idea what this was was , but it sounded like a wonderful place) and what an earth was a chilidog. It is easy to forget in this time of access to everything how mysterious some American references were.

There’s the weird choral, gospelly bit in the middle , the fact for years, I thought it was the Bottle bank and not the bible belt that would come and save my soul. I kind of love the fact that the thing would all fall apart with out the handclaps

There was also the thrill of sex. I wasn’t sure what Bobby Brooks were but as a 15 year old I could certainly imagine what “Let me do as I Please” was all about

“Hey, Diane, let’s run off behind a shady tree
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please”

This was 1982 when I was into anything with a synth and I tried to kid myself that that bit of electronic percussion in this meant that it was okay. I must have known that this was a bit desperate as on endless afternoons round friends listening to the new Soft Cell or OMD single I never said “Hey I’ve bought that great John Cougar single with me to listen to”

Reading up on the track for this post (okay I’ve looked on Wikipedia) I’ve found out that that the whole thing was based on Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams and that Mick Ronson played on and helped to arrange and produce it. If I had known that in 1982 it may have given me a bit more courage to champion the song. Actually maybe I should have just focused on one of the bleakest lines in pop music which just felt so true to a pretentious teenager and held its own with anything Ian Curtis et al have come up with “Oh yeah life goes on , Long after the thrill of living is gone”

mp3 : John Cougar Mellencamp – Jack and Diane

Thus ends my confession and I am off to listen to angst filled thin men with guitars as penance, and make myself a chillidog

FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH

THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Parts 28 and 28a)

Here to Stay is a song by New Order and produced by The Chemical Brothers. It was released as a single in April 2002.

It was the closing track from the movie 24 Hour Party People, and was the only new song composed specifically for the film.  The track was released without major marketing, but still reached #15 in the UK chart.

The single was B-sided with the track “Player in the League”, New Order’s failed entry for ITV’s football highlights programme The Premiership. The track was originally slated for inclusion on Get Ready, but was dropped.

The version offered up today is the full-length edit, as made available on the soundtrack to 24 Hour Party People, which I still believe is a very fine and often very funny movie.  Here To Stay isn’t the worst thing New Order ever released…in fact it’s one I quite like but I do always associate it with the closing titles of the movie and remembering how much I was smiling at, and inwardly applauding, Steve Coogan‘s portayal of Anthony H Wilson.

mp3 : New Order – Here To Stay

I’ve gone digging deep for the b-side:-

mp3 : New Order – Player In The League

I’m guessing the original version for the TV programme was an instrumental and it was revisited after it was rejected with the lyrics added……it makes for a more than decent b-side.

Part 28a??  Well, the thing is, a couple of months after Here To Stay, a rather wonderful mash-up was made available as a b-side to Love At First Sight, the latest single by Kylie Minogue:-

mp3 : KylieNewOrder – Can’t Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head

Poptastic stuff.

JC