TRUE CONFESSIONS : WILL WE ALWAYS BE HAPPY GO LUCKY?

Here’s a confession that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.  It also won’t come as a surpise who can recall the time I wrote about the song as #36 in the Scottish Singles series away back in August 2016…..

Back in 1984, a Glasgow band called The Blue Nile released a song called Tinseltown In The Rain. Everybody, and I really do mean everybody, who was an acquaintance at the time seemed to go nuts for the song, with many considering it the perfect sounding anthem for a city that was slowly but gradually re-inventing itself and regaining its self-confidence after an extended period of post-industrial decline. Further afield, loads of journalists and writers pounced on the song and the album A Walk Across The Rooftops, boldly declaring the music as unlike anything else recorded before, with some going as far to say that the songs were the sort that Frank Sinatra would be proud of.

Part of the aura around the band was linked to the fact they released their songs via a company called Linn Products, which was (and remains to this day) an engineering company which built very hi-tech audio equipment, including turntables, amps and speakers. They were also ridiculously expensive products. The engineers were growing increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of LPs that they were having to use to test their flagship turntable and so they developed a cutting lathe to enable improvements. The company, however, needed to find a singer or band who would be happy to record for them and deliver a ‘type’ of music that would best showcase the audio equipment.

One version of what happened next is that the bosses at Linn, and in particular the highly determined and driven MD, asked The Blue Nile to produce one song to help with the testing. The MD liked the song so that he offered an immediate contract for an album on what would be a new venture called Linn Records. The band dispute this version of events and say that the link-up came after they had recorded a whole series of demos with a studio engineer who just happened to have ties with Linn and was a friend of the MD. The band version is that there was no approach from Linn to make a record for the company nor did the company seek to influence the album’s sound in any way and have said “it was a myth that we were a ‘hi-fi band signed to a hi-fi company’. We just got lucky that we’d found our way to an excellent engineer who knew the company.”

That particular version of events emerged in 2013 – my memory of events as they were reported in 1984 was that the band and label were very closely linked and much was made of the album being given a very slick and glossy production that could be best be enjoyed and appreciated via Linn equipment.

This was all something that pissed me right off. My hi-fi equipment was fairly low-spec and much of my record collection was of the hurriedly produced and ramshackle variety that sounded just perfect to my ears. I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in something so artificial…and so I’m willing to admit that I did listen with some prejudice.

Regular readers will know that I have used the pages of this and other blogs to hold my hands up and admit that I got something wrong; sometimes, first impressions of a song can be misleading and repeated or a different exposure to something can provide a change of mind or opinion.

I haven’t ever changed my mind about The Blue Nile or Tinseltown In The Rain. There is no soul or warmth to the music whatsoever and the 1984 marketing campaign was a triumph for style over substance. I’m not a fan of Paul Buchanan’s voice either – he is no better or worse than a marginally above-average pub singer. It’s a killer combination of music and vocals that is deadly dull to listen to with not one note or octave providing any sort of surprise or excitement.

I know that many of the bloggers I most admire – echorich, postpunkmonk and Brian among others – are in complete disagreement with me.  My brother Stevie is also a huge fan of the record and the band.

It was, however, interesting that some, including Jonny the Friendly Lawyer, had my back on this one last time out.

Just thought it would be a nicely controversial way to close out what has been a controversial and at times unsavoury month on t’blog.

mp3 : The Blue Nile -Tinseltown In The Rain (12″ version)

JC

PS : A reminder that I need votes on a previously voided match in the ICA World Cup….details are here.

BONUS POST FOR THE BONUS SERIES : OOPS!

I was sitting in front of the laptop tonight, pulling together some facts and stats in preparation for the draw for the last 16 of the ICA World Cup when I had a ‘FUCK……WHAT HAVE I DONE?’ moment.

Last week, I asked you to cast your votes for the merits of Felicity (Orange Juice) against a live version of My Favourite Dress (The Wedding Present). You shouldn’t have been asked that as Felicity had in fact already been fielded in Round 1 of the competition and the rules are that no song can appear twice. The fact that Edwyn & co won the match-up means the result is null and void.

Genuine error on my part….and so now the tie to be replayed.

The Wedding Present are being allowed to field the studio version of My Favourite Dress while Orange Juice are required to offer up a different song from their original ICA. So, if you don’t mind….let me have your thoughts on this match up:-

Falling And Laughing (single, 1980) v My Favourite Dress (from George Best, 1987)

I need the votes in by Friday 4 May at 10pm. So sorry for the mix-up and any undue stress this may have caused.

JC

A RE-POST TO BUY MORE TIME (3)

In case you’re wondering what this is all about, I’ve a plan for something to take up the usual Sunday slot which looks in depth over a number of weeks at a particular band or artist but I’m putting it on hold till after the ICA World Cup is over.  The space will be taken up in the meantime by reposts from the deleted old blog….and I’m delighted to say that I’ve salvaged some from May 2009 when the place was given over to guest bloggers.  This appeared on Wednesday 27 May 2009…..

PRIMITIVE BUT FUN

Hello dear people,

First of all: thanks to you, JC, for letting me participate in this series of guest contributions for the Vinyl Villain. I hope you and Mrs. V. enjoy your holiday … you certainly deserve it!

Now, there are thousands of songs I like quite a lot and which I could have picked in order to write something pretty clever about. Songs with an immensely wise meaning, a political statement perhaps, songs you all know, love and would be eager to hear again here. Songs that would have made it more or less easy for me to create a long essay of wisdom about which I could then share with you here.

But be warned, the opposite is true, I’m afraid: the tune I have chosen doesn’t mean pretty much. Nor does anyone know it, I’m willing to have a small bet. Nevertheless I simply love it and have done so since I first heard it back in 1983 or thereabouts. It includes everything a good tune needs, at least as far as I’m concerned: a) whacky rhythm b) clever lyrics c) young female vocalists. Or, if you’d rather, it’s primitive, but fun.

In it the singer tells us a story of everyday life: it’s about chatting up girls. And about how ludicrous men behave when trying to do so. And yes, I admit: at times we do. Most often, in fact. Although: the bloke in the song really tops the bill, perhaps that’s why he’s referred to as an ‘Aquavelva Geek’. You may wonder now what this might possibly mean, and rightly so. Well, there’s a little dictionary at the back of the sleeve of the record, described as the ‘Val Talk To English Dictionary’. Here’s what the ‘Aquavelva Geek’ is translated as:

“(ak’ wa vel’va gek) n. : Distasteful individual hailing from Marina Del Ray area; frequently divorced and on the make.”

Next to this there is a little comic-style drawing of the Geek with clothing details described below: “1. attempted perm on balding head, 2. fake gold chain, 3. unbuttoned white collar shirt, 4. chest hair wig, 5. Casio alarm watch w/ Pac Man game, 6. Ultra-suede jacket, 7. doubleknit pants, 8. Justin boots. ”

Mostly all of the strange expressions which are contained in the lyrics are translated in the dictionary and if I only had a scanner I would perhaps be able to picture it here. But I don’t, so listen closely to one of the finest songs in the history of recorded music, which, I shouldn’t forget to mention, includes my favourite song line ever: “Yeah, I learnt quite a while ago not to be afraid to wear fashion underwear”…:

mp3 : The Valley Girls – Marina Men

Marina Men was released as a 12” on Rhino Records back in 1982.

The Valley Girls were Chrissy Peters (16), Sonia Gordon (16) and Pamy (18) and, astonishingly enough, I got an email from one of their nephews not so long ago, saying that all of them are enjoying their family lives in the Valley …

Well, I do hope you enjoyed my choice, friends.

Take care,

Dirk

JC ADDS……………

I closed off that particular posting by saying

“TODAY’S GUEST CONTRIBUTION IS COURTESY OF A REALLY TOP BLOKE…SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN A LONG-TIME FRIEND OF TVV….AND SOMEONE THAT ONE DAY I HOPE TO MEET IN THE FLESH….DICK HUPPERTZ OF ALDENHOVEN, GERMANY AND OF THE BLOG SEXY LOSER.”

In May 2017, that ambition was realised…..with the added bonus of many other great bloggers also hooking up for a truly unforgettable weekend in Glasgow. Where has the time gone since?

BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 3 (Part 4)

Part 4, which should have been Part 3 and featured last week, has been penned by jimdoes, the founding father of this competition. Before then, there is the small matter of last week’s sensational match-ups….

Lightning Seeds 23 v Saint Etienne 17
Pulp 26 v Pavement 9
Wire (2) 17 v Butcher Boy 20
Orange Juice  v The Wedding Present  : VOID RESULT…..REPLAY REQUIRED (Click here for details)

Butcher Boy make history by being the first side in the competition to make a winning comeback from a 5+ deficit. I think it’s fair to say that they will be the minnows in the last 16….but given a reasonable draw, they could still progress even further.

And now to ties 13-16…..and I’ve taken on the task of trying to come up with the right form of words to accompany the match-up that has caused a bit of chaos……

MarrRourkeJoyce v Ride

It does seem right not to exclude the songs of The Smiths from the competition and for this round at least it was easy enough as the tune which had come out for consideration is one that Johnny Marr has been known to include in his live sets. Some credit has to go to Ride who have sat patiently on the sidelines, at one point thinking they had been given a bye into the last 16 and then having to adjust the game plan and tactics for their new opponent.

Bigmouth Strikes Again (from Adrenalin Live, 2015) v In A Different Place (from Nowhere, 1990)

Over now to jimdoes…..

Anyway…

This week’s ties have been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding a certain Manchester singer’s utterances and have left the remaining teams in disarray and with an ‘anything can happen’ air to them. Whatever JC decides to do for the other tie I expect there will be ‘a bit of handbags’ in the comments as the Smiths have clearly lost the previously solid backing of many fans and the outcome could very well be an early bath. We are also now reaching the business end of the tournament with everything to play for – every game is akin to a cup final.

The Jam v Daft Punk

This tie has the kick and rush English coming up against Gallic flair. The Jam tend to play the long ball game – they have a solid backline that feeds the talents of their star man Paul Weller. They’re prone to entertainment and always give it 110%. On the other hand, Daft Punk appear to play in the wrong kit – with their helmets they’d be better suited to American Football. Even if they kept handling the ball I’m sure their technological links would make any VAR decisions go in their favour.

Thick As Thieves (from Setting Sons, 1979) v Digital Love (from Discovery, 2001)

Billy Bragg (2) v Prefab Sprout

Johnny Marr plays a part in this round whatever the outcome of the stewards’ enquiry in one of our other ties as he played guitar on this, my favourite song by Billy Bragg. But has Bragg hit this one too well? He’s a top, top player who’s got plenty more in his locker for the next few rounds so we shouldn’t expect any schoolboy defending from him. But this is the match where we will be asking can he do it on a wet Tuesday night in Atlantis? Prefab Sprout have found themselves in acres of space and they’ve really grown into the tournament. They are at home on any field and are a potential banana skin for any team. They’ll be sticking it in the mixer and hoping to put it in the onion bag.

Greetings to the New Brunette (from Talking With The Taxman About Poetry, 1986)  v Looking for Atlantis (from Jordan, The Comeback, 1990)

Edwyn Collins v Lloyd Cole & The Commotions

The magic of the cup eh? There’s always one – the tie that makes all the others seem like easy picks – the match that makes me go aaaaaaargh! The one that shows that there are no easy games at this level. And it’s this one – two absolute classics against each other. And a tenuous link to The Smiths here too – Sandie Shaw covered “Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken” and “Hand In Glove”, performing The Smiths Song on Top Of The Pops with Marr, Joyce and Rourke. Anyway, this is a real statement of intent from Edwyn Collins – he’s been taking it one game game at a time and is taking nothing for granted. Lloyd Cole has set his stall out early doors by sticking this one into the corridor of uncertainty by playing mind games with his choice of song. Cole is literally asking questions of Collins here in a match that is a great advert for the ICA World Cup.

A Girl Like You (from Gorgeous George, 1994) v Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? (from Rattlesnakes, 1984)

Votes must be cast by Friday 4 May at 10pm.

Next week sees the first games in the round of 16; which of the four above will join this lot in the hat??

1. Echo & The Bunnymen
2. The Police
3. Half Man Half Biscuit
4. OMD
5. New Order
6. The Housemartins
7. The Clash
8. The Jesus and Mary Chain
9. Lightning Seeds
10. Pulp
11. Butcher Boy
12. Orange Juice or The Wedding Present

Happy Listening.

JC and jimdoes

(FRIDAY) NIGHT FEVER

With apologies to those of you who keep in touch via the personal Facebook page as you’ll be sick-to-death at me going on about this.

Tonight sees the launch of Mixtape at The Admiral.

It’s the brainchild of my friend Robert who, along with Carlo and Hugh, has been the driving force of the very successful Strangeways club night that has been a mainstay of the Glasgow scene for some 10 years. Strangeways is a night based almost exclusively around the music of The Smiths and Morrissey that has grown in size and popularity and now takes place in the downstairs suite of The Admiral Bar where some 200 folk pack in four times a year with all profits going to various charities and worthy causes. I DJ’d on one occasion at Strangeways and did a decent enough job to be asked back to help at ‘There Is A Night That Never Goes Out’ in which the intrepid trio went for a theme of 80s music, often with an indie or electro twist.

Mixtape takes things a wee bit further in that the music will be anything goes. As Robert said when he went public with it:-

Mixtape is a new night for the bar of The Admiral. The music is non genre so really anything goes.

The night is designed as a sound track the bar with the option for some late night dancing or clubbing for people who don’t like clubs. 🎧

The playlist covers Indie, Electro, Disco, Post Rock , New Wave , House, Soul, New Romantic, Mod, Pop, Punk, C86 and anything else that sounds good.

Initially, it will be taking place in the upstairs part of the pub where we will do our best, through our own tastes, to entertain the regular drinkers but also taking requests and so on in the old-fashioned way. The only difference from the 80s is that instead of lugging around heavy boxes of vinyl, the DJs will be bringing along a memory stick to plug into a laptop – I’ve got just short of 1,000 tracks on mine just now but even then I know I won’t have everything that is asked for on the night.

Mixtape at The Admiral is going to be a regular residency, scheduled for the final Friday of each month. It’s free of charge in the upstairs bar but, all being well, the plan in due course is to shift downstairs every so often, charge a few quid to get in and again raise monies for good causes.

I’m looking forward to it…but with a degree of nerves. I’ll report back in due course about how it all goes.

mp3 : The Divine Comedy – At The Indie Disco

And tomorrow, after all that, I’ve got the biggest game of the season for the Rovers with the pre-match music and announcing malarkey.  A win, in what is the final match of the season, and we clinch the title and gain promotion.  A draw or loss and its likely we have the lottery of the play-offs. This has the potential to be a memorable few days in my life.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #164 : BANANARAMA

Bananarama? You seem bemused. You shouldn’t be. There’s a myriad of reasons why they are more than worthy of an ICA:-

– Formed in 1981 and still going strong today

Terry Hall loved ‘em

Siobhan Fahey

– Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the all-female group with most chart entries in the world

– Wrote a seemingly fun-filled song about an Oscar-winning actor which turned out had a really dark meaning

– Have championed the LGBT community from the outset

Keren Woodward

– Along with Pete Burns/Dead or Alive, they made Stock, Aitken and Waterman bearable for a short time

John Peel loved at least one of their songs

– Said song was sung in Swahili and did more for raising the profile of world music than any po-faced festival organised by Peter Gabriel

– the other one

– They got The Bluebells a #1 hit

– There’s enough songs to merit a first-class ICA

A few things worth remembering before launching into the ICA on a song-by-song basis. The trio of Keren Woodward, Siobhan Fahey and Sara Dallin had befriended one another as fashion students in the late 70s and their preferred listening and hang-outs centred around the post-punk scene in London where they were friendly with the likes of The Monochrome Set, Department S, Shane McGowan, Paul Weller and a couple of ex-Sex Pistols.

Malcolm McLaren was also an admirer and indeed, hatched a plan to alter their image and make much more of their looks and femininity, which was a complete no-no as far as the girls, two of whom were still in their teens, weree concerned. They wanted to get success the old fashioned way through gigs and good song writing….and they did.

One of their biggest fans is DJ MLC – a dear friend of mine and Jacques (indeed it was MLC who first coined the name ‘Those Charming Men’ for us).  I asked him to do the blog the honour of a Bananarama ICA.  He said yes, but only on the conditions that it was a remix effort and that I wouldn’t alter a word of his prose.  I haven’t……..so without any further delay, I’m putting you in the very capable hands of DJ MLC.

I was delighted to be asked by Those Charming Men to provide a remixed version of the Banarama compilation. Writing I’m not so good at, but ask me to twiddle knobs and whip out a 12” then I’ve plenty experience.

I was big in the 80s and the Bananas come from the era when I was in giving it proper large. Sure, weddings was really my thing, but I could often be seen doing the odd gay club back in the day. Boy, the things I saw on those nights. I’ve turned a few moustaches I can tell you. As a straight hunk of manhood it was hard to know what they wanted, how to satisfy at times, but I worked up a sweat to keep them happy and more often than not was relieved by the end of the night.

Balance these girls on my decks, turn them on, give them a scratch now and then, sometimes rub them up the wrong way, sandwich them between Donna and Divine – then those lads would give me their all on the floor. I’m not ashamed to say that I could keep them up all night. They couldn’t get enough and neither could I.

One awkward night I saw Barry from my work. Topless and wearing baby oil – he’d never seen me like that before. He was pretty discreet about the whole affair, especially after I gave him some Tainted Love near the end of the night. Sadly I don’t DJ now, except in my head. Dorothy in Accounts saw to that. The only baby oil I see now is that left over from when Dom and Deb were kids. These days when I’m “in the house” I’m actually in the house. I’m happy, sure. But I do miss my late nights with the boys.

So, boys AND girls, hands in the air like you just don’t care, poppers up your nose, fit a couple of coloured bulbs in the living room lights and get your kids to flick them on and off, put some leather around your loins if you must. But, most importantly, dance motherfunkers dance…

Side A

Shy Boy (US Extended Version)
Nathan Jones (Psycho Mix)
Don’t Step on My Groove
Love In The First Degree (Jailers Mix)
Aie a Mwana (Extended Version)

Side B

Really Saying Something (Solasso Mix Version)
I Heard A Rumour (Miami Remix)
Robert De Niro’s Waiting (Remix 2000)
Cruel Summer (89 Swingbeat Dub)
Venus (Marc Almond HiNRG Showgirl Remix)

Oh and in case you were thinking that it’s an urban myth about the #1 hit, this song was composed by Bobby Bluebell and Siobhan Fahey.

mp3 : The Bluebells – Young At Heart

Hopefully today’s posting has brought a bit of fun back into the blog.

JC

HALF TIMES SCORES…AND A DECISION

Not sure how many of you are here to catch the half-time scores but instead want to hear the outcome of the deliberations on the possible expulsion of The Smiths. I’ll come to that in due course….but there’s four crucial ties being played against this backdrop…..

Lightning Seeds 16 v Saint Etienne 13
Pulp 18 v Pavement 6
Wire(2) 14 v Butcher Boy 12
Orange Juice 19 v The Wedding Present 9

Lightning Seeds exploded from the blocks and took a 9-1 lead, but then there was the mother of all comebacks as Saint Etienne went 11-10 ahead before the Scouser(s) got another six goals in a row.  Saint Etienne are fighting back again and there’s much to play for in what has been the most  topsy-turvy tie in the entire tourney.

The other possible historic comeback is in the Wire v Butcher Boy contest with the Scots really clawing their way  into things having been 10-2 behind early on.

I can’t thank enough all of you who offered thoughts, views and opinions on the frontman’s outburst and my intention to now remove The Smiths from the ICA World Cup. It became very clear, very quickly, that whatever decision was taken, it couldn’t please everyone. Some of you thought expulsion was fine, others were completely against the idea. There were suggestions of using instrumentals so that the singer alone was excluded which, although tempting, would have resulted in songs being included despite never having been on any ICA.

In the end, the decision I’ve taken is a bit of a fudge and may only, depending on how the voting goes, lead to a different dilemma further down the road.

The song which had come out for use by The Smiths was, aptly, Bigmouth Strikes Again. The song which will be aired in one of this coming weekend’s ties will be Bigmouth Strikes Again….as performed live by Johnny Marr. You’ll have to wait and see who he’s up against to decide whether he progresses…..

Turning to some stuff from the terraces for your half time entertainment….

I have no idea how the hell the fans of FC Koln adopted this monstrosity of a tune as their anthem!

I just can’t bring myself to post Runrig on the blog….so in honour of the Koln fans taking something bad and turning it into something good, here’s something from a hero of mine.

mp3 : Paul Haig – Something Good (10 inch mix)

Remember….if you haven’t voted yet this week, you have until 10pm on Friday.

JC

 

BONUS POST : NEVER CLEVER

I’ve not been very good with the whole blogging thing in recent weeks….especially keeping up with the wonderful comments left behind here after each post…..and I’ve not visited many old friends for far too long. Not sure when things will get back to normal, but I’ve a couple of hours tonight to catch-up on a few things with T(n)VV.

Delighted to see some love for Popscene and it’s b-sides. I’m a big fan of Blur…they are an act I’ve long wanted to do an ICA on but there’s too much to choose from. I have had an e-mail offer for an ICA from a regular reader which I’ve accepted so there’s something to look forward to.

The Robster said this earlier today….

Popscene was not the hit the band or label thought/hoped it would be. They were gutted. It was planned for the second album, along with the follow-up single Never Clever, but when Popscene bombed, they scrapped plans for Never Clever’s release. After the second album was rejected by the label (who wanted it to include some “hits”), the band decided Popscene should left off altogether in a bit of a strop. “We thought if you bastards didn’t want it then [when put out as a single], then you’re not getting it now.” Since then they’ve held true to that outlook and never released it again, despite many believing it to be one of their finest moments. Never Clever remains an obscurity…

That may well be the case….but it hasn’t stopped me all that often before.

mp3 : Blur – Never Clever

Enjoy. It’s a belter of a tune.

JC

 

 

HEY, HEY, COME OUT TONIGHT

Back in 1992, I bought a 12” single from a clearance/bargain bin in a record shop in Edinburgh for 99p. It was by Blur, and at the time all that I knew about them, as I was going through a phase of not buying music papers or magazines, was that I had quite enjoyed There’s No Other Way, their hit single from a few months previously.

The single I purchased that day was called Popscene.

Years pass, and this bit of vinyl has now become a lot more valuable. While it did reach No.32 in the charts, it was a record that was deleted shortly afterwards, never to appear again. It wasn’t included on the 1993 LP Modern Life Is Rubbish, nor was it included on the CD of the Greatest Hits package that Blur released in 2000. Bizarrely enough, it did appear on the Greatest Hits DVD, and it was played live on the Greatest Hits tour when the set-list consisted of all the singles played in the sequence they were released.

Incidentally, I was at the Edinburgh gig of that tour which was the opening night of the Corn Exchange venue. It was a strange one – aside from hating the layout and acoustic of that venue (a view I hold to this very day), it was odd knowing precisely which song the band was going to launch into next. It took away all of the anticipation of wondering about what may or may not be on the set-list that night.

But back to Popscene.

I’ve no idea why the band have made it so difficult to get a copy of this record. Perhaps it’s their way of rewarding all the long-term fans who were around prior to the success of ‘Modern Life’ and the phenomena that was Parklife. If I did want to flog it, I could ask for £20-£25 as a minimum…not a huge amount of money but not bad for something out of the bargain bin.

As for the song itself, I think it’s one of the band’s best. It was more frantic and less poppy than the stuff that had featured on the debut album and was an indication of the sort of sounds that would come out on the next LP, which I still reckon was one of the best released in the 1990s.

mp3 : Blur – Popscene

Three tracks were on the b-side, all of which are well worth a listen:-

mp3 : Blur – I’m Fine
mp3 : Blur – Mace
mp3 : Blur – Garden Central

I’m Fine could fit on either of the band’s first two albums in that it is sort of baggy sounding in places but it’s hinting also at the more classic pop material that would appear on Modern Life Is Rubbish.

Mace is perhaps let down a little bit by a less than stellar vocal – it’s almost as if the band has come up with a slightly out-of-kilter tune that Damon Albarn at that point in his career wasn’t entirely comfortable with….but once the hits eventually came, he would prove to have no such problems. It’s a song that wouldn’t have felt out of place on 13 a few years later.

Garden Central is a real curio….clocking in at the best part of six minutes in length. It’s an instrumental and very much displays the talents of Graham Coxon. It’s the sort of tune that I’ve long thought coule be taken and mixed to within an inch of its life to make a great dance number.

Maybe Blur weren’t as lauded as the likes of Suede or Oasis for the quality of their b-sides, but there’s no doubting they were always willing to offer something a wee bit different.

And I’m just saying….if anyone fancies it….there hasn’t yet been a Blur ICA (I don’t expect Drew to make the offer mind you……)

JC

 

OH, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN

So there I am wandering along the street with, as is regular, the i-pod on shuffle. The best part of 35,000 songs are on it so it can often be years since I last heard what comes through the headphones. Like with this:-

mp3 : Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Accidents Will Happen

If I was to sit down and thoughtfully list all my favourite EC songs, then this might get a place maybe around the 30s or 40s; not that I don’t like it, but it has never been one that I thought was truly outstanding, mainly as I never took to the way it faded away at the end…..the ‘I know, I know’ refrain annoyed me somewhat back in the day. And listening again while I was walking, I realised it still does…..but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the opening two and half minutes are rather splendid in that spiteful, new wave sneer that he was so food at when he first burst onto the scene.

It climbed only as far as #29 in the UK charts on its release in 1979, indicating perhaps that it was one that didn’t appeal all that much beyond the immediate fan base.

It came with two b-sides that both come in at around two minutes in length and which, the best part of 40 years on, remain very enjoyable listens, and also highlight how difficult it was to pigeon-hole this most talented of performers:-

mp3 : Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Talking In The Dark
mp3 : Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Wednesday Week

JC

A RE-POST TO BUY MORE TIME (2)

I’ve made up my mind on the next Sunday series, but it’s one that will take a fair bit of time and effort that I can’t afford just now and so I’m putting it off till after the conclusion of the ICA World Cup.  In the meantime, Sundays will be used to host some old posts rescued from what remains of the vaults of the original Vinyl Villain blog before the bastards at Google pulled it down without warning.

This dates from 1 October 2009.

NOT BAD FOR AN AULD FELLA…

In my late teens I was never really one for looking back at bands or singers of days of yore. As far as I was concerned, the music of today (whether that be 1979, 80, 81 or whenever) was all that ever mattered. There’s no way you would ever catch me listening to stuff that my mum and dad liked.

As I matured somewhat in my later years, I realised that it would be a nonsense to maintain such a hardline approach, and now there are some acts from the 60s and early 70s that I have a soft spot for. But not The Beatles. Or Elvis Presley.

This single from late 1982 had a lot to do with it. Sure, I knew that The Kinks were a band name checked by so many of my own rock/pop gods, not least Paul Weller, and while I knew quite a few of their old singles from hearing them played on the radio, I hadn’t ever bought anything by the band.

My purchase of Come Dancing wasn’t taken lightly. It was a single that I had initially dismissed on the first couple of hearings, but then its catchiness just embedded itself in my brain and I found myself singing it out loud, even when it wasn’t being played on the radio. But could I bring myself to own something from a band that had enjoyed their first hit when I was crawling around wearing little more than a nappy? Of course I could…..

mp3 : The Kinks – Come Dancing
mp3 : The Kinks – Noise

This was the band’s nineteenth single to hit the UK Top 20, but their first in over a decade.

Back in 1982 I was genuinely amazed that a band formed in 1964 was having hits so many years later and I reckoned there was no way any of today’s stars will go on that long. I mean it was still another 18 years to the new century and that was a lifetime away….bands like New Order, The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen just wouldn’t have that staying power.

I got that one a bit wrong didn’t I?

JC

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

It’s been a strange week with the ICA World Cup.

Four superb ties from last Saturday have been somewhat overshadowed by the midweek row over the potential exclusion of The Smiths after the latest interview given by Morrissey in which he, again, uttered words and espoused theories that were truly offensive to most folk.

I have, genuinely, appreciated the various forms of feedback from everyone which has certainly got me thinking about what to do next. It’s no surprise at all to see so many different suggestions being offered up and I’ll continue to take counsel over the next few days and say something when I the post the next again set of half-time updates in a few days time.

Returning again to last week’s match-ups. There was widespread support for all eight sides, albeit none of the games were nail-biters in the end. There’s certainly a lot of quality going to be on display among the final 16…….

New Order 28 v The Fall 14
Talking Heads 15 v The Housemartins 26
The Velvet Underground 17 v The Clash 22
The Jesus and Mary Chain 25 v The The 16

This week’s match-ups were scheduled to be penned by jimdoes, but one of them would have featured The Smiths and so they have all been held over till next week while the matches originally scheduled for next week have been hurriedly rearranged!

Lightning Seeds v Saint Etienne

A tie for the pop purists. And the two songs which have emerged from the selection process will undoubtedly attract votes. The home side has crept quietly under the radar to this point in the competition with Broudie’s Boys seeing off Gemma Ray and Big Audio Dynamite without too much fuss. Cracknell’s Crackers on the other hand, having eased past The Sugarplastic in Round 1, found themselves in a bruising and epic battle against The Cramps last time out. Will the efforts involved have tired them out or toughened them up for this assignment.

The Life of Riley (from Sense, 1992) v Hobart Paving (single version, 1993)

Pulp v Pavement

“I’ll have a P please Bob!’ as the tittering teenagers taking part in the quiz show Blockbusters were so fond of uttering when host Bob Holness asked for their choice of letter.

This is the latest of the many intriguing contests this intriguing competition has thrown up over the first three rounds. Both teams have delivered genuinely brilliant records over the years alongside material that was designed to test the patience and capacities of their more casual fans but to the great delight of the ultras. This could be a whitewash either way or turn out to be very close. It’s almost totally predicatable that both sides have gone with songs that aren’t among their best known, seemingly keeping their powders dry for whatever challenges lie ahead. The original author of the Pulp ICA described today’s song as bleak but rewarding; the original author of the Pavement ICA described today’s song as ‘a bit psychedelic…..like elephants charging’.  The original author of both ICAs was Tim Badger.

The Fear (from This Is Hardcore, 1998) v Texas Never Whispers (from Watery Domestic EP, 1992)

Wire(2) v Butcher Boy

I think you’d have got good odds on both these sides making it to the last 32. It will be quietly satisfying that one of these very fine but unheralded acts will march proudly into the final 16 when so many giants will have been toppled.

Wire, having seen off two English pop acts from different decades – Supergrass and The Higsons – are relying on a typical two minute burst of manic pop thrills to get through against their Scottish opponents this time round. Butcher Boy, conquerors of The Magnetic Fields and Martin Stephenson, are probably more renowned for lush arrangements around heartfelt ballads but take to this field with something a bit more conventional that has possibly the best organ solo that you’ll hear in this or any other round not to mention the best use of a cello on any song outside of Monkey Gone To Heaven.

Two People In A Room (from 154, 1979) v You’re Only Crying For Yourself (from React or Die, 2009)

Orange Juice v The Wedding Present

The competition is meant to be about the merits of the two songs on offer. I’m wondering if the inclusion of a live version by one of these stellar acts will have a bearing on the outcome. Either way, I’m not going to be alone in being delighted for the winner and distraught for the loser.

Felicity (single, 1982) v My Favourite Dress (live) (recorded at Sound City Leeds in 1996)

Just a pity that the coins and dice didn’t give us the cover version of Felicity by TWP……………..

Votes must be cast by Friday 27 April at 10pm.

Happy Listening.

JC

CONTRASTING THE ORIGINAL AND THE COVER

The original, technically, was in 1819 by Percy Bysshe Shelley as a response to the Peterloo massacre in Manchester in which a cavalry had charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 that had gathered to demand political reform. 15 people were killed and 400–700 were injured. The full poem, The Masque of Anarchy, has been held up by many commentators as the greatest political poem ever written by an Englishman, calling as it did on continued peaceful resistance as a way of achieving change.

Scritti Politti used part of the poem to inspire one of the many excellent tracks to be found on the 1983 LP Songs To Remember:-

mp3 : Scritti Politti – Lions After Slumber

In 2003, Rough Trade released a compilation LP entitled Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before in which their then current roster of artists covered songs from the label’s back-catalogue.

mp3 : The Veils – Lions After Slumber

A fine example of grabbing something that was quite distinctive and being able to turn it into something you can claim as your own. The New Zealanders raw and tribal take on this is well worth a listen.

JC

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