AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #163 : THE BRILLIANT CORNERS

A GUEST POSTING by ERIC (from Oakland)

I really struggled between two concepts on this one. Career retrospective, or just my favorite songs? The first record I have is Growing Up Absurd, so I never really listened to the first 3 singles (She’s Got a Fever, Big Hip, and My Baby in Black) before this week. Then there is a clear point in 1989 when the sound changes considerably (most notably by the absence of trumpet). While there are some good post-trumpet songs, none of it would make it into my top 10. In the end I decided that this ICA would be the ICA of The Brilliant Corners as I remember them – ‘85-88′.

Rambling Rose

There were a few singles that preceded Growing Up Absurd, but there is good reason most comps start here. It’s here the BCs finally find the sound that will serve them well in the coming years. The guitar solo at the end is a nice intro to a classic BC trick, just slightly at odds with the rest of the band, but in a good way. It provides just enough tension to get your attention without killing the vibe.

A Girl Called Property

An introduction to a theme that will run throughout Davey Woodward’s work. Short simple and to the point. No mucking around.

Everything I Ever Wanted

Good morning, c86. From the opening guitar to the break and return and plenty of jingle jangle. The Fruit Machine EP finally brought everything together in to 4 glorious songs. No trumpet on this track but it’s on some of the others. Any of them could be on this comp, but I’m trying to keep it to 10 ;).

Brian Rix (Album version)

The song that put them on the map, and for good reason. The opening guitar work is worth the price of admission alone. I grew up on this version found on What’s in a Word. The production values on the single version are superior, but there’s a little string lic in the chorus that jars me every time and takes me out of the song. I’m sure there are others who feel an unspeakable emptiness in their gut when they get to that point on the album and the strings are missing. To each their own.

Delilah Sands

This is my favorite BC Song. I can’t get enough of it. There’s just something about the way it’s all put together, from the unusual bop ba da da bop cold start through to the brilliant trumpet line. This is my go-to whenever I need a little pickmeup. BC firing on all cylinders to be sure. It’s a toss up between this and “Why do you have to…” for my favorite BC record cover.

Teenage

Somebody Up There Likes Me is one of those records that I never get tired of. Every song is cracking and this lead single was no exception. Just enough production punch up to fill out the sound without wrecking the delicate balance.

She’s Dead

What a song. So simple but so devastating. I was obsessed with this song when it came out.

With a Kiss

Somebody Up There Likes Me presented the hardest choices for this comp. In the end With A Kiss floated up just for being a straight up ripper. It’s the last song on the album, begging you to flip it and start over again.

Why Do You Have To Go Out With Him When You Could Go Out With Me?

Looking back now this really is as good as anything from this era, with a bonus appearance from one Amelia Fletcher. What’s not to like? For some reason whenever I stumble upon this today, a horrible review pops up accusing the BCs of taking things one step too far. Oh well. I still love it. And that record cover. Perfect.

Shangri La

This song knocked my socks off when I first heard it. The opening is so clean and classic and perfect BCs. Then toward the end the guitar comes in with a raucous squeal that builds to a glorious cacophony. It’s almost as if they had decided to drive a knife right in the heart of their twee c86 sound. Kill it dead right there. I don’t know if that’s what really happened, but it certainly has that affect, because after this single they were never quite the same…

After “Why Do You Have…” things really did change. I do remember feeling like they were making a conscious decision to shift their sound, and I remember being excited to see where it would go. And while the next few albums are good, I can’t say they are great. They aren’t the kind of thing that makes diehard fans remember the glory years, if you know what I mean.

I’m not sure what they were going for but it’s worth noting a number of heavier movements were emerging in the US around that time; The Pixies and Soundgarden were just starting to pick up steam. The BC sound definitely got thicker and of course the trumpet is totally gone. It feels like they were suddenly on the back foot, chasing the Americans to a more muscular sound, and didn’t quite catch up. Change is hard.

Still there are some good songs from the post trumpet era. You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, White Gates, and The Pope The Monkey and The Queen were dangling on the end of this list before I settled on my final 10. Hooked really is a nice album, an improvement over the largely forgettable Joyride. Sadly it’s not on Spotify but if you really want to check it out I’m sure you can find it. I’ve never listened to their final album, A History of White Trash, so I cannot report back on that one. My experiences are really just from a teenager in California listening to what records made the journey out west. If you’re looking for more context and history and Bristol scene info, check out

http://www.bristolarchiverecords.com/bands82/The_Brilliant_Corners.html

Eric from Oakland

PS: I also created a Spotify playlist for folks who like it like that.

One nice thing about the Spotify playlists – when you finish the songs Spotify starts playing things like The Go-Betweens and The Monochrome Set. I ended up listening for quite some time before realizing I had a job to do 🙂

HALF TIME SCORES….AND MORE

The sadistic streak in my nature has enjoyed many of your undoubted agonies in selecting which tunes to give the nod to in this week’s match-ups.  It’s really interesting that so many of you are doing what I was hoping the competition would do and that’s have the votes cast on a ‘song v song’ basis rather than simply going for the favourite act of the two.  It’s fair to say that, for the first time ever, every song up for grabs in a given week is attracting votes in quantity…

The half-time scores can now be revealed (after 36 comments):-

New Order 22 v The Fall 13
Talking Heads 14 v The Housemartins 20
The Velvet Underground 13 v The Clash 19
The Jesus and Mary Chain 20 v The The 14

As mentioned last week, the half time songs in this round will feature actual club songs and I’ve gone surfing around youtube to find this week’s offering just to keep CC happy:-

mp3 : Marie Osmond – Paper Roses

I have no idea why fans of Kilmarnock FC have adoped this as their anthem…….

Oh and please remember….if you haven’t voted yet for this week’s ties, you have until 10pm this coming Friday.

Oh…..I did say there was more…..

There has been a particularly offensive interview given to a journo by Morrissey. The full thing, if really do wish to torture yourself, can be found here.

Among the gems of wisdom are:-

“And as far as racism goes, the modern Loony Left seem to forget that Hitler was Left wing! But of course, we are all called racist now, and the word is actually meaningless. It’s just a way of changing the subject. When someone calls you racist, what they are saying is ”hmm, you actually have a point, and I don’t know how to answer it, so perhaps if I distract you by calling you a bigot we’ll both forget how enlightened your comment was.”

“Nothing I say is provocative. They are just facts.”

“If animals spoke English then no one would eat them. You see, racism is at its most abhorrent in relation to eating animals. If you eat animals, isn’t it a display of hatred for a certain species? And what gives you the right to eat another species or race? Would you eat people from Sri Lanka?”

“London is debased. The Mayor of London tells us about ”Neighborhood policin ” – what is ‘policin’? He tells us London is an ”amazin ” city. What is ‘amazin’? This is the Mayor of London! And he cannot talk properly! I saw an interview where he was discussing mental health, and he repeatedly said ”men’el ” … he could not say the words ‘mental health’. The Mayor of London! Civilisation is over!”

“London is second only to Bangladesh for acid attacks. All of the attacks are non-white, and so they cannot be truthfully addressed by the British government or the Met Police or the BBC because of political correctness. What this means is that the perpetrator is considered to be as much of a victim as the actual victim. We live in the Age of Atrocity.”

“Diverse opinion is banned in England, debate is over. The most offensive thing you can do in modern Britain is to have an opinion and to talk clearly.”

He also expressed his concern that the ultra-right, anti-Islam political group For Britain does not get fair representation in the UK media….

There are fans out there who continue to justify support for him, although the increasing move is now to say that you have to separate the art from the artist…in other words let it be just about the music and not the person.

Sorry folks, as Hall & Oates once sang, I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)….and so it is with a heavy heart that in addition to the original decision to exclude Morrissey from this ICA World Cup, I’m now kicking out The Smiths and awarding a bye to the team they are scheduled to play in the next round.

However, as I do try to run this little corner of t’internet on the basis of giving readers and contributors what they want, I’d be happy to reconsider the decision on appeal if enough of you think that’s a step too far. I’ll return to the situation this time next week…..

JC

 

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD

It’s Immaterial can be classified firmly in the one-hit wonder category, thanks to Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune) hitting the Top 20 in 1986. It was hardly an overnight or sudden success for this Liverpool-based band as they had been kicking around since 1980, releasing a handful of flop singles on small labels and recording four sessions for John Peel at various times.

Hopes were high for the follow-up to the hit single, but despite it being a jaunty and big-sounding number which received a reasonable amount of airplay on BBC Radio 1, it barely scraped into the Top 75.

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – Ed’s Funky Diner

A three-minute pop gem.  As lifted from the album Life’s Hard Then You Die, a record that at the time seemed a bit of a mess with all sorts of genres and pace of music to absorb but which has actually aged pretty well and offers much to enjoy and appreciate.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG (on a Monday) : #121 : THE GYRES

From wiki:-

The Gyres were a Scottish indie rock band formed in 1994 in Blantyre near Glasgow, consisting of Andy McLinden (vocals), Paul McLinden (guitar), Peter Lyons (guitar), Mark McGill (bass) and Paddy Flaherty (drums).

The Gyres played numerous gigs in the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan, supporting and touring with Cast, Oasis, Reef, Echobelly, Bon Jovi, and David Bowie. The band enjoyed limited success, and eventually disbanded after walking away from their independent record label, Sugar Records, whose funding had dried up. The remaining members renamed themselves Point Blank, and released an album called 50/50 at the start of the 2000s, then disbanded not long after the release of the album.

This was their third single. It reached #71 in the UK charts in 1997. My copy is from an Indie compilation from back in the day. It’s OK….better than Cast and Reef anyways.

mp3 : The Gyres – Are You Ready?

JC

A RE-POST TO BUY SOME TIME

The series on the New Order singles has come to an end and I’m still weighing up options for its replacement. All will be revealed next Sunday. Or maybe not. In the meantime, I thought I’d re-post something as it is almost a New Order single, albeit written and recorded by a genius from Edinburgh.

mp3 : Paul Haig – The Only Truth

Released in Sepember 1984, the production is credited to B-Music/Dojo; in other words Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson. How many of you wanted to shout out ‘Confusion’ just before Paul’s vocals kicked in?

The b-side is also worth a listen for a number of reasons – it’s a fun and fast-tempo cover of a Suicide classic that was produced by Alan Rankine.

mp3 : Paul Haig – Ghost Rider

JC

BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 3 (Part 2)

Honestly…..this week’s four ties are mouth-watering affairs so I want to publish the latest full-time scores and then give you the stuff of nightmares.

The Durutti Column 4 v Echo and the Bunnymen 35
The Police 24 v Pete Wylie 15
XTC 17 v Half Man Half Biscuit 22
The Charlatans 9 v OMD 30

I’ve a feeling Drew will be very keen to vote this week………….

Round 3 : Matches 5-8

New Order v The Fall

Anthony H Wilson and Mark E Smith will be pissing themselves laughing at this….as indeed will Rob GrettonBarney Sumner is known to be a fan of Manchester United while MES was a City follower, the team he adopted as a kid just to annoy his dad.  The establishment against the noisy neighbour.  The tickets to see this one will fly out of the door.

New Order must be cursing their luck with the draws having already been asked to take care of hardy overseas opponents in LCD Soundsytem and The Go-BetweensThe Fall have had the slightly easier tasks of taking on Queens of The Stone Age and SBTRKT.  The interesting news for the both sides is that while they each have multiple and guest ICAs, (three for New Order and four for The Fall), the selections for both are coming from their initial ICAs, both of which were penned by me….and what emerged from the coin/dice stuff is quite staggering:-

Age Of Consent (from Power, Corruption & Lies, 1983) v Cruiser’s Creek (single, 1985)

Talking Heads v The Housemartins

New York v Hull…..certainly brings home the romance of the cup.

Talking Heads have had all sorts thrown at them thus far – Close Lobsters, Massive Attack and Kitchens of Distinction have represented very different types of challenges and the latest match is no different.  The Housemartins have progressed quietly to this stage by overcoming Gene and Julian Cope but, thanks to an ICA full of catchy and enjoyable pop songs, they pose a threat to the biggest of names and the most revered of line-ups.

Both songs selected this week have one-word titles which come in at a little over two-and-a-half minutes in length.

TH(NYC) opting for something which, despite being almost 40 years old, still sounds vibrant and fresh – they’ve also drafted in Brian Eno on production duties to the line up.  TH (Yorks.) go with something that, although a flop single from 1986, typifies so much of their output.

Paper (from Fear of Music, 1979) v Sheep (from London 0 Hull 4, 1986)

The Velvet Underground v The Clash

Just as the audience begins to come to terms with the all-Manc tie which opens up this week’s offerings, this curve-ball delivers another strike.  Two of the most admired bands in the competition, each having the firepower to go all the way, but only one will still be on their feet in six days time.

NYC or London?

Warhol or Rhodes??

Reed/Cale/Morrison/Tucker or Strummer/Jones/Simenon/Headon???

It’s all down to you.

The Clash are going for their third successive American scalp having beaten MGMT and R.E.M. in previous rounds, while VU have disposed of The National and Talk Talk with great ease. You may have to take your time with this one….

Foggy Notion (from VU : recorded 1969, released 1984) v Armagideon Time (b-side,1979)

The Jesus and Mary Chain v The The

Here’s a Scotland v England clash to complete a remarkable set of match-ups this week.

JAMC have had very comfortable wins over The Wondermints and Rod Stewart, and while this is a tougher assignment altogether, the names in other ties in this section of the draw surely demonstrate that it could have been a lot worse.

The The are going for a hat-trick of wins over Scottish acts having done enough to dispose of Simple Minds and The Skids.  This is yet another step up in quality and, as is so often the case, much will depend on the random aspect of things:-

Never Understand (from Psychocandy, 1985) v Slow Emotion Replay (from Dusk, 1993)

Have fun….and happy listening.

Voting closes at 10pm on Friday 20 April.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #162 : JOSH RITTER

A GUEST POSTING by FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH

JC writes (again): – For those who may have missed yesterday’post, FoRW suggested this as a double ICA but I felt they were more than worthy of two separate pieces. I’ve kept his intro which is written for both and this is the same intro as yesterday with the first JR feature. Here’s FoRW………..

I’ve never really been into what you would call classic American rock or anything too rootsy. Its only in the last couple of years that the word Americana hasn’t had me running for the hills. Two of the few exceptions are a couple of Joshes that in my mind are forever entwined. I first heard them at roughly the same time with Josh Rouse’s 2nd lp and Josh Ritter’s 3rd lp. Since then subsequent releases seem to arrive at roughly the same time..

They also don’t match the usual profile. Josh Rouse grew up in Nashville but was an anglophile with The Cure and The Smiths his favourite bands. Josh Ritter was largely ignored in his home country and found his audience first in Ireland. For ages I assumed he was Irish and just sang with an American accent. So intertwined in my mind that I’ve ended up doing a double ICA LP. The ICA is from when I first came across them both. Both Josh Rouse’s Dressed up Like Nebraska and Josh Ritter’s Golden Age of Radio (for some reason I never bothered to track down his debut) have some good points but both took a big leap with their next albums.

ICA 162: Josh Ritter

Josh Rouse has made the VV before and Winter in the Hamptons was very close to making the list.

Josh Ritter hasn’t yet graced VV and I am guessing he is going to be more divisive. Hopefully there’s a tune or two that talks to a few.

Side 1

Snow is Gone from Hello Starling. Produced by the guitarist from Irish band The Frames , the LP got to number 2 in the Irish charts and was featured on a lot of Irish based blogs I was reading at the time. It is full of great sing along songs with a production that reminded me of a lot of Irish records I liked at the time. There about 5 or 6 tracks that could have made the ICA but this one never fails to get me shouting along to the chorus when driving

Wolves from The Animal Years : The songs from this follow up to Hello Starling are loosely based on the life and books of Mark Twain. Another galloping chorus. I guess we all have our own wolves

Right Moves from The Historical Conquests : Something about this is so rooted in American classic songs that my first thought was that this was a cover. A broader sound palette with a bit of a kitchen sink production style. Keeping to the theme , another rollicking chorus

A Girl in the War from The Animal Years: A change of pace. Worth it for the “dove from above” reference which with the general biblical references suggests that it isn’t a Vic Reeves tribute. Always loved this lyric

“I got a girl in the war Paul her eyes are like champagne They sparkle bubble over and in the morning all you got is rain”

The Curse from So Runs the World Away: Softer vocal which makes a nice contrast. An everyday tale of a mummified pharaoh who wakes up and falls in love with girl who visits the museum he is housed in. Josh Ritter does like to cram his songs with lyrics and this tale of love could have made the song as a short story series

He opens his eyes falls in love at first sight
With the girl in the doorway
What beautiful lines and how full of life
After thousands of years what a face to wake up to
He holds back a sigh as she touches his arm
She dusts off the bed where ‘til now he’s been sleeping
And under miles of stone, the dried fig of his heart
Under scarab and bone starts back to its beating

She carries him home in a beautiful boat
He watches the sea from a porthole in stowage
He can hear all she says as she sits by his bed
And one day his lips answer her in her own language
The days quickly pass he loves making her laugh
The first time he moves it’s her hair that he touches
She asks, “Are you cursed?” he says, “I think that I’m cured”
Then he talks of the Nile and the girls in bulrushes

In New York he is laid in a glass covered case
He pretends he is dead people crowd round to see him
But each night she comes round and the two wander down
The halls of the tomb that she calls a museum
Often he stops to rest but then less and less
Then it’s her that looks tired staying up asking questions
He learns how to read from the papers that she
Is writing about him and he makes corrections

It’s his face on her book more and more come to look
Families from Iowa, Upper West Siders
Then one day it’s too much he decides to get up
And as chaos ensues he walks outside to find her
She’s using a cane and her face looks too pale
But she’s happy to see him as they walk he supports her
She asks “Are you cursed?” but his answer’s obscured
In a sandstorm of flashbulbs and rowdy reporters

Such reanimation the two tour the nation
He gets out of limos he meets other women
Her speaks of her fondly their nights in the museum
But she’s just one more rag now he’s dragging behind him
She stops going out she just lies there in bed
In hotels in whatever towns they are speaking
Then her face starts to set and her hands start to fold
And one day the dried fig of her heart stops its beating

Long ago in the ship she asked, “Why pyramids?”
He said, “Think of them as an immense invitation”
She asked, “Are you cursed?” He said, “I think that I’m cured”
Then he kissed her and hoped that she’d forget that question

Side 2

Homecoming from Sermon on the Rocks: Recorded in New Orleans and full of slippery word play. I am a bit of a sucker for songs with Home in the title.

Wings from Hello Starling: Another change of pace. Can almost hear the campfire crackling. A lot of Josh Ritter’s songs have biblical references more in a Nick Cave than a Cliff Richard kind of way ( a less threatening Nick Cave and a more threatening Cliff Richard). The songs are timeless with stories that feel old and slightly other worldly

New Lover from Beast in the Tracks: Every decent artist needs a break up LP and this is Josh Ritter’s. Written after the breakdown of his first marriage and way better than the Dylan pun of the LP title, it tracks the disintegration of the relationship through to finding some kind of peace by the end of the LP. I love the lyric of this and the small details eg the nod to Othello in this verse

“But I will not chase your shadow as you go from room to room,
Droppin’ handkerchiefs and daggers, smokin’ guns and other clues
For what someone did with someone and who did what to who.
I’ve got a new lover now, I hope you’ve got a lover too.”

At the end there is the pay back and the bitterness that still lingers

“I hope you’ve got a lover now, hope you’ve got somebody who
Can give you what you need like I couldn’t seem to do.
But if you’re sad and you are lonesome and you’ve got nobody true,
I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me happy too.”

Myrna Loy from The Gathering: From the latest LP released last year and the first one that is a bit of a misfire , a bit too rootsy and folky even for me. However I do love the haunting piano and brushed drums on this. Also I’m a sucker for songs about famous people and this is typical Josh Ritter subject matter. This pulls on the early life of an film actress who was at her peak in the 30s and 40s (married and divorced 4 times!) and someone she left behind.

Joy to you Baby from Beast in the Tracks : After New Lover there is finally acceptance and recognition and so the ICA ends with a song of hope and also with a lovely simple guitar line.

FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH