This has been fun hasn’t it?   But now we are getting into the really serious part of the competition.

The result of the final game in Round 5 was:-

The Jam 23 Lloyd Cole & The Commotions 11

The score doesn’t quite reflect how decent a contest this was and it really is quite amaxing that Weller, Foxton & Buckler are still going despite their ICA featuring just album tracks and no singles or b-sides.

Here’s who is still standing….Billy Bragg, The Clash, The Jam and Pulp.  Not too shabby a line-up and I’m thinking that many of you will have had initial thoughts that they could all go a long way depending on the vagaries of the draw…talking of which…..

Semi Final 1 : Pulp v Billy Bragg
Semi Final 2 : The Jam v The Clash


Babies v Between The Wars

Blimey……this offers a tough choice between two very different types of songs.

The Pulp ICA was compiled by Tim Badger

After about ten years the wilderness, Pulp emerged with this tale of teenage tea time obsession. It begins innocently enough with Jarvis talking about afternoons with girls in bedrooms – before he goes well a bit perverse and then delivering this withering punchline “I only went with her ‘cause she looked like you!”

and the track on offer from Billy was on an ICA stitched beautifully together by Walter.

With no backing band but his own electric guitar, Billy Bragg sang ‘Between the Wars’ as a first-person narrative of a miner hoping his hard work would be rewarded by care from the government his efforts helped support. Another song about the miners in the 80s and maybe one of his most emotional ones.

Both are outstanding pieces of music and very representative of what made both acts such essential listening. Which one are you prepared to give the nod?  A place in the ICA World Cup Final is at stake…



A short time ago, I put up a posting celebrating the single What A Performance by the 80s indie band BOB. It was a well received effort, but what I was most taken by were comments from folk whose views I really respect pointing me in the direction of another single by the band:-

Friend of Rachel Worth : Love Bob, was planning an ICA as felt they had a lot more creativity and variety than most. Convenience is the hit that got away.

Strangeways : Also agree about ‘Convenience’ – what a song

Nev : Convenience has to be in my top 20 of 45s of all time – love it!

I’ve now tracked down said 45, and am happy to confirm that the contributions were bang on:-

mp3 : BOB – Convenience

Released on 7″ and 12″ on House of Teeth Records in 1989, the lead track was voted in at #31 in that year’s Festive Fifty (which itself was of vintage quality as I hope to demonstrate quite soon). It’s a tremendous little pop song that I’m only sorry I didn’t pick up on back in the day.

Here’s the wonderfully named b-side of the 7″

mp3 : BOB – I Fall Upon The Thorns Of Life! I Bleed!!



a guest posting BY jimdoes

The Breeders have got a new album coming out next week (JC adds……well, they did have back in February when jimdoes sent this over!!) and to commemorate it I thought I’d do a quick ICA (if there is such a thing)

First up I’m a big fan of Kim Deal and did think about a Kim Deal ICA as she’s guested on quite a few records as well as made some formidable music with The Breeders – in all their various guises. I’ve tried to include something from each of their albums (they’ve been around for 20 years!) – otherwise there might be more songs from Last Splash. And I know The Breeders are more than just Kim Deal but she’s the singer and it’s her band, so I’m going to talk about the music and her. She’s the coolest Kim in music (sorry Kim Gordon, it was a close one) and The Dandy Warhols even wrote a song about her – which I’ve always thought of as a bit weird because they could never be as cool as Kim Deal and the song isn’t anywhere as good as anything by The Breeders.

SAINTS (From ‘Last Splash’)

There’s something about Kim Deal that makes me smile – maybe it’s because I imagine her smiling whenever she’s performing. Anyway, this is a track that I always put on compilation tapes that I gave to people in the Spring. “Summer Is Ready When You Are” – what a great line.

PACER – The Amps (From ‘Pacer’)

I’ve included The Amps as part of The Breeders because they pretty much were – when The Breeders went on hiatus, Kim Deal formed The Amps – as she’d done when Pixies had some down time. And they still play a few Amps songs live. Kim Deal could always write a good pop song and this is one of my favourites.

BANG ON (From ‘Mountain Battles’)

Here’s one you can do a sort of shuffling dance to (honestly) – it’s got a great beat. And Kim Deal is still smiling. And I love the way it ends – “missing gah”.

OFF YOU (From ‘Title TK’)

Kim gets all sensitive and introspective – but does it with such grace. Possibly the closest she gets to not smiling.

IRIS (From ‘Pod’)

I’ve been obsessing about this song recently. It’s so good. One of the things I’ve always loved about The Breeders is you not one song sounds like it could have been a Pixies song – they just seem so apart from that bit of Kim Deal’s legacy. This one is maybe closest as it does have that LOUDquietLOUD thing going on though. Pod is one of my favourite albums but it’s always been one that I listen to in it’s entireity – it always seemed a shame to delve in to one track, but if you don’t know it this is a good starting point.

CANNONBALL (From ‘Last Splash’)

The hit single. Impossible not to include this on an ICA. One of the best songs of the 90s. One of the best songs of all time. My daughter loves it.

SAFARI (From ‘Safari’ ep)

Released on an ep after Pod, a belter of a track. It wouldn’t have been out of place on Last Splash.

I AM DECIDED – The Amps (From ‘Pacer’)

Considering that Pacer is such a rough and raw sounding album, it contains some of Kim Deal’s poppier moments – to my ears anyway.


More pop music. More smiles. Sugar sweet. Ba-Ba-Ba-Baa.

DIVINE HAMMER (From ‘Last Splash’)

And if this one doesn’t make you smile too, then I give up.



The booklet for the C87 boxset has this to say:-

Rosemary’s Children only left behind a legacy of one single and a mini-album but remain a high point of pioneer Mike Alway‘s idiosyncratic el label.

Southern Fields, released in July 1986, was an absolute gem, the sublime folf-rock half of a release that also included the more psychedelically strained (Whatever Happened To) Alice?.

Mini-album Kings and Princes (1987) followed – ‘a royal treat spiced with exotic landscapes, folk follies and direct Englishness’ according to one critic – a mix of noisy post punk, folk and jangly pop. Band member Dave Pearce went on to pioneer exprerimental lo-fi music with Bristol act Flying Saucer Attack.”

My own take is that the single and its b-side are decent enough without being classics but I can see why so many folk recall it in glowing terms about it. It’s perfect if you really do look back at the 60s as THE golden era of pop music, from which so many that have followed can trace their roots. There’s no denying the summer of love had a huge influnce on this particular combo. Even the name of the band screams 1967……

mp3 : Rosemary’s Children – Southern Fields
mp3 : Rosemary’s Children – (Whatever Happened To) Alice?



It is now more than 37(!!!) years since the April 1981 release of the 45 which took the new-look The Human League into the charts and onto our television screens via Top of the Pops. Synth-pop had duly arrived with a bang.

The Sound of The Crowd was an extraordinary single that still sounds superb all these years on. It was full of catchy little chants such as ‘Get Around Town’ and ‘Arse Around’ (sorry that should read ‘Pass Around…but I’m sure the way it was put down on record was deliberate) and yet it was impossible to fully sing along to without making an idiot of yourself thanks to phrases like ‘Make a shroud pulling combs through a backwash frame” which I’m sure is one that Ian McCulloch has always wished he’d come up with.

This was the first release in which Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall featured as backing vocalists to Phil Oakey. There can be no argument that their contributions were every bit as vital as the tune itself in creating the pop hooks which made it such a natural tune for daytime radio.

The visual element they brought with them was also a huge factor in raising the profile of the band – if you want evidence for that claim then just look at the fact the first TOTP appearance came when the band was sitting outside the Top 50 ; the show’s producers obviously believed that the contrast between these two young and attractive teenagers and the bloke with the funny haircut would get people talking.

Further evidence that TOTP saw the band as naturals for the show? The second appearance came a few weeks later when the single was at #15….having dropped down from #12 the previous week, thus breaking the rule-of-thumb on the show in those days that you would only be invited to perform if your song was rising up the charts.

I’m sure that many who had been interested in the band from the early days would have been appalled at the apparent sell-out. The Sound of The Crowd was a million miles away from Being Boiled and about half that distance from Empire State Human but there were no grumbles from me as the song became part of the soundtrack of my final few weeks at school and its follow-ups were aired at the student union disco nights as I found my feet at University.

Here’s some cuts straight from the 12″ vinyl:-

mp3 : The Human League – The Sound Of The Crowd (Complete)
mp3 : The Human League – The Sound Of The Crowd (Instrumental)



Pleasant Surprise

I can’t stand the Foo Fighters. No, that’s not exactly right. It’s more correct to say that I like everything about the Foo Fighters except their music, which I find to be boringly ordinary emo. Fake anthems.

By all accounts, though, Dave Grohl is a great guy that’s nice to everyone. My friend’s daughter saw him at the mall and told him she was a drummer and he grabbed her phone and took a selfie with her. He organized and performed at a tribute to Bob Mould of Husker Du. He plays benefits all the time. Yeah, he’s a good guy and a monster drummer, I just never liked his kind of music.

So anyway, I’m at the gym where there’s a kid called Chris I’m friendly with who really knows his music. No matter what comes on the radio he knows it. We quiz each other about songs in a good natured way. When I told him I was going on tour in England last year (where I met JC!) and would be traveling around in a van, he laughed and said, “Have fun. I know what that’s like.”


Chris looks like he’s about 20 years old but, come to think of it, he’s pretty heavily tattooed.

“Dude, you tour around in vans?”

“Well, not that much anymore. Sometimes if I’m doing solo stuff.”

Not anymore? Solo stuff? Who was this guy? Turns out he’s Chris Sheflett, Foo Fighters’ lead guitarist. I’m still not crazy about the band’s music but I like when internationally successful musicians, selling out stadiums of 80,000 people, turn about to be regular folks that are fun to talk to.

Congregation – from the band’s 2014 LP Sonic Highways



From 5 January 2010


mp3 : The Wonder Stuff – It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby

This was the fifth single by The Wonder Stuff and the first to trouble the charts, sneaking in for the one week at #40. But 13 out of their next 14 singles all hit the Top 30 in the UK, including a #1 hit with Dizzy, a collaboration with comedian Vic Reeves in October 1991.

It’s easy to forget nowadays just how massively popular this lot were at the beginning of the 90s… one point they headlined a gig with almost 20,000 in attendance at Walsall football stadium near their own home town. It’s also a scary thought to realise that this bit of vinyl is now more than 20 years old.* (it’s actually 30 year old now!!!)

Even if you’re not a fan, have a listen to one of the b-sides for its inspired attack on the pop-tastic machine that was Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Poor little Rick Astley…….

mp3 : The Wonder Stuff – Astley In The Noose
mp3 : The Wonder Stuff – Ooh, She Said
mp3 : The Wonder Stuff – Rave From The Grave

Happy Listening



As ever, we’ll start things off with the result of last week’s tie. The winners established an early 5 point lead which was then wiped out come Tuesday morning.  The winners, however, found a second wind as the week went on and held on despite a late onslaught from the Scousers.

Echo & The Bunnymen 19 The Clash 22

Three down; one to go..  Here’s jimdoes with this week’s tie.


Man In The Corner Shop v My Bag

I’ve never had any friends who were big fans of The Jam – and as a youngster, very much like The Clash, they passed me by. My only recollections of them are ads for Jam shoes and Jam ties in the back of Smash Hits – and seeing the video for Funeral Pyre on Top Of The Pops. It wasn’t enough to turn my 12-year-old self into a mod – I was busy listening to Adam and The Ants and arguing with friends that they were better than Madness. I’m almost 50 and I’ve mellowed slightly but I still like a ‘heated debate’ about X band being better than Y – I do try and base my opinions on actually listening to said bands these days which is definitely a change from when I’d slag off bands based on whatever was written in the music press. I even take this as far as to listening to the godawful rap that my teenage son listens to – and I sometimes catch myself sounding just like my dad “That’s not music etc etc”. None of which particularly relates to The Jam – I’ve seen Weller a few times at festivals and generally enjoyed his music but I don’t hold him in the same light as Joe Strummer or Mick Jones, he’s not my hero.

Lost Weekend on Top Of The Pops was where it began. I still know all the lyrics and it’s still a song that I’ll occasionally play when I DJ in my local pub. I was late to Lloyd Cole – it seems like a recurring theme – I guess it was in my teens before I discovered the delights of the NME and Melody Maker. I bought Easy Pieces and played it to death – and it means more to me than Rattlesnakes. That’s not so say that when I discovered Rattlesnakes I didn’t love it, but I guess I loved my first infatuation that little bit more. Anyway, I only discovered Rattlesnakes thanks to the Sandie Shaw version of Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken – a shocking admission! My younger sister was a big Lloyd Cole fan – especially Mainstream – and she came with me when they played Wembley Arena – a band very much in the wrong venue – their songs sounded lost in such an echoey hanger and convinced me that smaller venues were better – and to this day I try and avoid the big arena tours – most bands are lost to me once they get that big.



The second ever single released by The Monochrome Set was entitled Eine Symphonie des Grauens, which translates as ‘A Symphony of Horrors’. It must be one of the few, if indeed perhaps the only, indie-pop classic that’s written from the perspective of a vampire falling head over heels for the beautiful young thing he is about to seek his fangs into:-

I’m dead and dank and rotten
My arms are wrapped in cotton
My corpse loves you, let’s marry

Get smart, once – Every night at sleepy time
Get smart, twice – I hang my skin out on the line
Get smart, sing – Oh, darling, would you be, be mine

I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love, oh ho-ho-ho

I’m caught in a mesh of veins
My fingers and flesh and brains
My skull gives head, so let’s wed

Get smart, once – Every night when all alone
Get smart, twice – I drape my flesh around the phone
Get smart, pray – Oh, darling, would you be my own

I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love, oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Don’t cry, beautiful, it’s just a phase
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I chant and I pray, I love
You know, God works in mysterious ways
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I sing and I pray, I love

I’m soft and slightly stinking
My arms are small and shrinking
My lips kiss dirt, oh, let’s flirt

Get smart, once – Every night at half-past-one
Get smart, twice – There’s a little taste of things in come
Get smart, chant – Oh, darling, can I be your son?

I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love
I’m in love, I think I’m in love, oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Don’t scream, baby, it’s just a coma
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I chant and I pray, I love
You go to heaven, I go to Roma
To the father and the son and the holy ghost
I sing and I pray, I love

mp3 : The Monochrome Set – Eine Symphonie des Grauens

The song title, and indeed its entire premise, is based on Nosferatu, a silent horror film released as long ago as 1922. Widely regarded as a masterpiece, the film had the full title of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, and was the first ever adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, Dracula, that had been published 25 years earlier. The only problem for the filmmaker F.W. Murnau was that his work was unauthorised and led to Stoker’s widow successfully suing him and the production company with part of the court ruling being that all copies had to be destroyed. It didn’t quite materialise and indeed an existing copy made its way to the USA where it was released to much acclaim in 1929.

But enough of the cinematic stuff….this is a music blog after all.

Eine Symphonie… an absolute belter of a single, coming with an infectiously catchy sing-a-long chorus riding its way along a tune that just screams to be danced to. I’d love to say that I picked up on it when it was released on Rough Trade in 1979 but this was a band I didn’t really begin to listen to until they were brought to my attention by a flatmate. The late 70s saw many amazing and often unheralded bands forming in the immediate aftermath of the punk/new wave explosion and this London-based combo slipped well under my radar. I think it would have been a different story if I had lived in that part of the country instead of Glasgow….

Here’s yer jaunty instrumental track that was on the b-side:-

mp3 : The Monichrome Set – Lester Leaps In




JC writes  …………..ignore the pish that I wrote last week about having no more guest ICAs in the pipeline – there were two that had been received some time ago and filed in wrong places…..there’s also been a couple more submissions in the past few days and I’ve even got my own arse in gear and put one together.  So things are looking good on the ICA front for a while yet.  Time now to hand you over to David.


A while back there was some discussion in the comments about an ICA for record labels following the excellent Factory one so thought I would give one a go. I’ve chosen Kitchenware and specifically the early period in Kitchenware’s life. Modelled on Postcard and started in Newcastle in 1982 by the 21 yr old Keith Armstrong , then manager of the city centre HMV (for a while the label was run in shop’s basement). From the start the labels aim was to have chart hits with early releases and live shows set up to get licencing deals with the majors. The golden period for me is when the had their own fab 4 , The Kane Gang , Hurrah!, The Daintees and Prefab Sprout. All 4 bands would go on to make better records but there is something about these early releases all from when i was 16 / 17 years old that have stayed with me.

The label had other acts come and go later on including the wonderful Fatima Mansions and had a bit of renaissance with Editors but the romance had gone and they stopped being an essential ‘buy every release’ label. Kitchenware is, sadly, no more , another victim of the endless march to digital and streaming.

I’ve slightly cheated with a 12 track ICA, 3 tracks from each band…..

Side 1

Gun Law by The Kane Gang

Lead off track from The Kane Gang’s first LP, this hasn’t dated that well. I love the fact the ambition for a big sound kind of out strips the production, evoking the wild west of the north east if that isn’t a contradiction in terms. The Kane Gang were a 3 piece and much more soul than jangly guitar based. Unfortunately the band got most airplay from being responsible for the awful “oohh Gary Davies” jingle on radio one. If this means nothing to you then you are truly blessed.

Lions in My Own Garden (Exit Someone) by Prefab Sprout

Featured before on VV but this less than 3 mins bit of magic is worth another spin. Initially released on the band’s Candle Records , the band came to Kitchenware’s attention when Martin McAloon (band’s bass player) wandered into HMV and asked Keith Armstrong if he would stock the single. Inspired by Paddy’s then girlfriend leaving for Limoges in France. There is something in The rumours have started that we are both young” that chimed with a 15 year living in the Flatlands. Still one of the best things they have done.

Hip Hip by Hurrah! (the ! is important)

Another slogan just made for growing up to “Are you scared to get happy?” became a bit of a rallying cry for the label as a whole. This was the band’s second single and they reached their peak with the Boxed compilation that pulls all the tracks from their first four singles together. After that if was Leather Jackets , named producers and tours supporting U2.

Look Down Look Down by Martin Stephenson and the Daintees

Signed to the label after busking outside of hmv in Newcastle , the band released a couple of singles before the debut Boat to Bolivia came out. I bought this purely on the basis that it was on Kitchenware. The personal autobiographical lyrics and the hotch potch of styles all shone through a pop lens meant it is still one of my all time favourites. This tale of teenage suicide truly comes to life when played live but the album version is non too shabby as well.

Closest Thing to Heaven by the Kane Gang

This gave the label its first chart hit , even if it did need the might of a major behind it to make it happen. I think this has dated okay.

Cruel by Prefab Sprout.

The first Prefab Sprout LP came out in 1984 by which time the band had been playing live for over 5 years and Paddy had already got a large collection of songs written. For Swoon they decided to record the songs that they found too difficult to play live with the off tempo changes and sudden shifts in direction that Paddy favoured in his writing. As a result when I heard it Swoon felt very different to both the first 2 singles and any thing else around at that time. Cruel is a great example and also backs up a universal truth that every Prefab Sprout song. has at least one line to die for. “the world should be free but don’t you go following suit”. If you hunt around on You tube there is a version covered by Elvis Costello

Side 2

The Sun Shines Here by Hurrah!

First single by Hurrah! And sounds like it was recorded in a biscuit tin , but boy do I love this. With these early releases Hurrah! were seen as the ones most likely to but it never really happened as the jangle was replaced with a bit of Rock that horrified me at the time. Remember sending away for this and getting a copy in the post from the label. I thought it was the future of music. Listening back I can’t really judge it as I am immediately taken back to a time of fanzines and singles arriving in the post, pouring over lyrics and planning our own bands (The Insistent Porpoises were doomed before they began)

Trouble Town (83 version) by Martin Stephenson and the Daintees

A different version was released as a single (much more sparkling and shiny version complete with jarring backing vocals) I kind of like this earlier jazzier version though . “Its such a mundane way of life , I can hardly breathe” captures the claustrophobia of growing up in a small town in the fens

Crease in His Hat by the Kane Gang

Another track from the Bad and Lowdown World of The Kane Gang. I still love this it has the ache that a lot of my favourite songs have. The band went on the make a much more polished LP in Miracle which got some success in the US and in Motortown has at least one fantastic song on (if you like your pop without the crunchy bits). I think the band suffered from being a bit well characterless , the shared vocal meant there wasnt really a lead man as a focus. Nowadays they would probably be writing songs for Adele or someone.

Walk On by Prefab Sprout

B side of 2nd single The Devil has all the Best Tunes. Even with the simplest of tunes , there are still unexpected pauses and strange time patterns, “ and in the morning you are as certain as the light”

This Boy by Hurrah!

Listening back to this I can hear that they were really a rock band at heart, trapped in bedroom, however those harmonies and chiming guitars are pure summery pop.

Crocodile Cryer by Martin Stephenson and the Daintees

When Kitchenware eventually moved to some offices they used the top floor as rehearsal space leading to quite a bit of cross band working. This song inspired by Martin Stephenson’s grandmother’s funeral is at its best on the debut LP , but this is an earlier version produced by Paddy McAloon. As with all the best lyrics , the beauty is in the details , the fact that it is Elton John records playing upstairs somehow fits perfectly.

If you are interested here is a couple of links to a special by The Tube on the 4 bands featured. Looking at the Kane Gang clip , they really were the uncoolest looking band going – Kane Gang and Hurrah! – Daintees and Prefab Sprout



I recently mentioned that myself and Aldo were heading off to Leeds to catch The Twilight Sad play their first UK show in 18 months and their first headline show since December 2015. I wasn’t sure beforehand if I was going to say anything after the event, but as you can surmise from the fact these words are appearing in a post on the blog, I’m now entirely sure that, unlike Rod the Mod and Everything But The Girl, I do want to talk about it.

First up, some thoughts on the city of Leeds. It’s a place I hadn’t been to for the best part of 20 years and the last time around I wasn’t all that impressed – but then again I had gone down to watch a day of cricket with a group of mates and we didn’t venture too far from the hotel bar or the ground at Headingley. The railway station, which had been the arrival point, was a dark and depressing place, reliant on unpleasant smelling underpasses to get you from one part to another and the city centre seemed equally unappealing with the pubs not offering much of a welcome to non-regulars.

The Leeds of 2018 has been transformed way beyond recognition. It’s not a city which seems to be incredibly dependent on tourism in that there’s none of these ‘hop-on, hop-off’ buses which are so common in such hotspots, but there has been a remarkable growth in the number and quality of hotels in the centre, with all sorts of new accompanying commercial and retail developments. There’s been an explosion of new bars but at the same time, many of the older traditional places have clearly upped their game, offering all sorts of real ales/craft beers and high-end vodkas, gins, whiskys etc. for the most discerning of tastes.

In short, the city proved to be well worth a visit and would be one I wouldn’t hesitate to return to if the opportunity arose, which it might well do given that the Brudenell Social Club has jumped straight to the higher echelons of my all-time favourite gig venues.

As I said last week, it was one of two long sitting on the bucket list and I had knocked off the other last year with a trip to Hebden Bridge Trades Club, again in the company of Aldo, when we had enjoyed Jens Lekman followed by a memorable afternoon and evening in Manchester in the company of the man in charge of the bagging area. The Brudenell, however, proved to be something else again.

The Twilight Sad have a long association with the venue, but even this was a first for them in that they were making their debut in the Community Room, a new part of the building which opened just last year. It’s a superb space, just perfect for gigs with its width, low-roof and raised stage offering great views no matter where you choose to stand. It also has the very best in acoustics and thanks to it being designed in a way that the bar area is separated and largely buffered from the main auditorium, it reduces the likelihood of the yakkity-yak nonsense which often spoils a good night out at a live music event.

Mind you, having had a look at the Function Room where the majority of gigs have previously taken place, I’d love to catch an act in there sometime of an evening as it had the look, feel and vibe of a very special place where an audience and singer/band would bond brilliantly; last Saturday is was busy with folk watching Croatia v Nigeria in the 2018 World Cup – I can’t imagine how rammed it would be if England and/or one of the big teams were involved.

So….with all this in mind, given that the city and the venue hadn’t disappointed, the onus was on the band to ensure the feel-good factor remained intact.

They took to the stage at 9.15pm and they ended a 14-song set at 10.30. They opened with a classic and they closed with something that was awe-inspiring, moving, powerful and as sensational 7 or 8 minutes as I’ve ever experienced in what is now almost 40 years of watching live music. In between, we got some familiar and often aired favourite songs from the back catalogue and were also treated to three as yet unreleased numbers. They sounded pitch perfect thanks to the afore-mentioned sound system and acoustics…..and while they are very much a five-piece band, especially in the live setting, there has to be special mention of frontman James Graham who is, without any question, the most mesmerising of performers whose vocal delivery and accompanying movements surely leave him on the brink of complete physical and mental exhaustion every single time.

It was fascinating to look around the audience when the lights went up. Given it was such a rare show, it had sold out quickly and of interest to fans from all over – you could certainly pick out a fair number of Scottish accents in the bar area beforehand – and so was always going to be one in which there were very few, if any, folk who were experiencing the band live for the first time. Most seemed to be, like myself and Aldo, quite speechless, coming to grips with what had just been witnessed; there were some in tears, understandably overcome by the intensity and emotion of the final few minutes. I’m sure if there had been an exit poll, the option of ‘best show they’ve ever played’ would have won a landslide victory.

The band have always been prolific in their use of social media. The following morning, as we sat down to a lovely and value-for-money breakfast in an old café which was defying the surrounding regeneration and partial gentrification of the canal area, Aldo read out what had just been posted on the official Facebook page:

“I’ll never forget last night. A room full of beautiful people. Brudenell Social Club is part of our history and will be part of us as we try to move forward. There’s no love too small x.”



That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy
Don’t Move
Dennis Hopper (new song)
Last January
I Became A Prostitute
It Was Never The Same
VTR (new song)
Reflection of The Television
The Wrong Car
Arbor (new song)
There’s A Girl In The Corner
Cold Days From The Birdhouse
And She Would Darken The Memory
Keep Yourself Warm (cover version)

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Last January
mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Keep Yourself Warm


PS :   Typing this up at 6pm on Tuesday night at which point The Clash are hoilding a narrow lead over Echo & The Bunnymen in the ICA World Cup quarter-final. There’s still time to cast your vote if you haven’t done so already – do you prefer Clampdown or Never Stop?


There are some pieces of music which I can’t ever listen to without recalling an image or images from a live TV performance going through my head. Some examples include:-

The Police performing Can’t Stand Losing You on The Old Grey Whistle Test when Sting twitched his way through the song as the sweat from his forehead went into his eyes which had already been inflamed from an exploding can of hairspray (which is why he was wearing large and hideous sunglasses)

The Associates not taking Top of The Pops seriously as Alan Rankine broke off bits of a full-size chocolate guitar and gave it away to members of the audience as Billy Mackenzie tried not to corpse as he mimed to 18 Carat Love Affair

The Redskins introducing a striking miner live on The Tube as they played the intro to Keep On Keepin’ On, not realising that, by some strange quirk of fate the mic that the miner was speaking into wasn’t working and the millions of viewers didn’t hear a word

The Smiths on Top of The Pops for William It Was Really NothingJohnny had Elvis Costello‘s guitar and the frontman stripped off mid-song.

The Smiths (again) on Whistle Test, making a return to our screens after a long absence and unveiling Bigmouth Strikes Again

Radiohead on Later offering up the first ever rendition of Paranoid Android

There are also some songs which I can’t listen to without picturing the promo video, with this being a prime example:-

mp3 : Fatboy Slim – Praise You

It’s frightening to realise we are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of this wonderful piece of film making.

And to think that it sort of came about by accident.

Norman Cook had wanted Spike Jonze to come up with a concept and direct a video for The Rockafeller Skank but the filmmaker hadn’t been able to find the time. As a way of saying sorry, Jonze sent Cook a video of him goofing around to Skank which led to them hatching the idea for the follow-up single.

The fictional Torrance Community Dance Group, led by Jonze, turned up without any permission at all with the intention of performing an outlandish dance to Praise You outside a cinema in Los Angeles as patrons queued up to get in, with the whole thing captured on film. It was an era when flash-mobbing events of this type were incredibly rare and part of the fun comes from watching the bemused and befuddled reaction of the cinema goers. It’s also worth recalling that nobody in the queue would have known anything about the song as it hadn’t yet been released when the promo was shot.

By the time the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards came around the song had reached #1 in the UK and provided a breakthrough for Fatboy Slim in the USA. The video took home three prizes – Breakthrough Video, Best Direction and Best Choreography, every one of them fully deserved.

Here’s the two other tracks which came with the single:-

mp3 : Fatboy Slim – Sho Nuff
mp3 : Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank (Mulder’s Urban Takeover Mix)

And here’s the song which was sampled for the single:-

mp3 : Camile Yarbrough – Take Yo’Praise



I thought a mixtape would work well today.

mp3 : Various – 55 minutes for 55 years

Track Listing

What Time Is Love? (Live at Transcentral) – The KLF
I Want You – Inspiral Carpets/Mark E Smith
Kandy Pop – Bis
American Guitars – The Auteurs
Hounds of Love – Kate Bush
Pigs – Dead Hope
Higher Grounds – Cats On Fire
When It All Comes Down – Miaow
Hayfever – The Trashcan Sinatras
Definitive Gaze – Magazine
Safe European Home – The Clash
Heatwave – Martha & The Vandellas
Be Less Rude – Frightened Rabbit
Transmission – Joy Division
Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones
Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers



(Originally posted on 23 February 2013)


Bauhaus had been kicking around for a few years without ever troubling the chart-compilers. The record label then hit on the wheeze of releasing, as their eighth single, a cover version of one of the most famous songs written and recorded by David Bowie. This was at a time when Bowie was being accused on selling out, what with hitting the charts with duets with firstly Queen and then Bing Crosby (!!) and rumours flying around the music industry that his next LP was going to be a real crossover pop/dance effort.

So in a sense, this very faithful interpretation of Ziggy Stardust was a reminder to us kids that Bowie had made some great music a decade or so earlier and why he was regarded as such a huge influence to many:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust

All the label on the 12″ single says is ‘released by arrangement with BBC Records’. It was years later, thanks to a CD compilation of all their BBC sessions, that it could be revealed it dated from a July 1982 session recorded for the David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show on Radio 1.

The track got to #15 in the UK charts and proved to be the band’s only Top 20 hit.

I came across it while cleaning out the record cupboard the other week having long forgotten that I owned a copy. Gave the b-sides a spin for the first time in decades – found them to be a a right strange bag:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Party of the First Part
mp3 : Bauhaus – Third Uncle
mp3 : Bauhaus – Waiting For The Man

The first of these was turns out to be from a John Peel Session in March 1982. This must have bemused long-time fans of the band. It’s a sort of lounge-jazz piece of music with sampled dialogue from what sounds like some sort of horror movie. Turns out that the band are really having a laugh at their own alleged demonic/goth roots as the sample is from The Devil and Daniel Mouse – a 1978 cartoon with this plot line:-

Finding their audience drying up in favour of rock music, two young mouse folk singers find themselves with a bleak future. Desperate for a better career and life, the female vows that she would do anything to become a rock star. Instantly, the Devil arises to take advantage of that and offers to make her a star in exchange for her soul. She agrees and she quickly becomes the star she’s dreamed of while her boyfriend, Daniel Mouse, is left behind. On the night of her greatest triumph, the devil comes to collect on her soul. In desperation, she turns to Daniel who must attempt the impossible task of trying to find an escape loophole for his girl’s release.

I’m guessing being a family cartoon young Daniel finds a way…..but I’m still quite tickled at the band showing such a cracking sense of humour.

Over on the flip-side the track Third Uncle is also taken from the same Jensen session as Ziggy. It’s a cover of a Brian Eno composition, originally released in 1974. I’ve never heard the original, but I’m happy to make a blind bet that the Bauhaus version is wildly different. Oh and I’m happy that having just played it for the first time in nearly 30 years, it has been added to the i-pod list cos I like it….

The final track was much anticipated. Recorded live at Fagins in Manchester and featuring Nico from The Velvet Underground on co-vocals, this very disappointingly sounds like two drunk patrons being backed by a wedding band. Total letdown.



If the score from last week’s result appears underneath, then I was thankfully able to update this draft using my phone while in a hotel room in Leeds.

The Housemartins 16 Pulp 20

That’s two off your semi-finalists sorted out.  Here’s jimdoes with this week’s tie.  It’s the pick of the bunch…..


Never Stop (Discotheque) v Clampdown

Written in biro on a desk at school. That was the first time I heard of Echo and The Bunnymen. All the cool kids at school were in to them – and I most certainly wasn’t one of the cool kids – I was only just looking beyond Top of the Pops to discover new music on my own. Maybe that’s why they’ve never been a favourite of mine – I like them but they were always too cool for me. I know the songs and I’ve seen them at festivals a few times but I never loved them. Having said all that – out of all the bands left in the ICA World Cup, they are the band that I listen to more than any other – only because Seven Seas is one of my favourite songs ever so I play it all the time.

(JC adds….just to provide some more words so that it is similar in length to the second contribution….here’s what Echorich said when I posted the 12″ version of Never Stop as the stand alone post “LAY DOWN THY RAINCOAT AND GROOOOOOVE…” back in October 2013…

A Pete De Frietas Tour De Force! The percussion, multilayered over a driving motorik beat, mixed with the strings was the first warning shot of what would come to full fruition by Ocean Rain.

Back to jimdoes……

I was too young for The Clash. And not having an older sibling to point me in the right direction, they kind of passed me by. In my house the 70s meant Joan Baez, The Manhattan Transfer and Terry Wogan’s Floral Dance. Punk certainly never happened for me. But I do remember seeing my first punks – on my way to my cousins in Romford around the time of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee – they seemed impossibly exotic and otherworldly to my young eyes. The first I knew of Mick Jones was E=MC2 – which I loved. By the time I went to art college I was a proper indie kid – The Wedding Present, The Smiths, Pixies, The Cure, and The Primitives were my band t-shirts of choice (in fact I’ve never owned a Clash t-shirt). This is where I met Julyan and Tristan – we’d go to the pub – they’d put The Clash on the jukebox; we’d carry on drinking at home – they’d play their battered Clash records; we’d go to parties – Julyan would always have a Clash tape on him (for emergencies) – it would be his favourite Clash songs but he’d re-record it almost weekly. I quickly knew all the words and acquired my own copies of the albums. None of us ever saw The Clash (They aren’t even the band I’d go back in time to see – that’s Prince and The Revolution on the Purple Rain tour) but we went to countless BAD shows and saw Joe Strummer a few times. I still listen to London Calling about once a month, so they are very much a part of me.


PS : That leaves the final quarter final as Lloyd Cole & The Commotions v The Jam.  You’ll need to wait seven days for the songs though…….


It’s been two and a half years since the last time I saw The Twilight Sad when they played a triumphant pre-Christmas show at The Barrowlands in Glasgow. They spent most of 2016 travelling the world a the support act to The Cure while last year they took some time out to recuperate during which lead singer James Graham ventured into a side project called Out Lines, working with Kathryn Joseph (winner of the Scottish Album of the Year in 2016) and Marcus Mackay.

Tomorrow night they are playing at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, a venue that has long been on mine and Aldo‘s bucket list and so we are off down south to take it in where we will hopefully be joined by Comrade Colin.

I’ve been excited about this one for months, counting down the weeks impatiently. And yet, I was nearly in a position of not being able to go as the death of a close friend last week threatened to put things on hold – if the funeral had been tomorrow, then there would have been a very tough decision to make. As it is, Aldo will head down as planned later this morning and I’ll delay my departure for a few hours and join him this evening.

The gig promises to be special. They have a new drummer following the unexpected but amicable departure of Mark Devine which was announced a few months back. They also are likely to include a Frightened Rabbit number in the set as a tribute to the late Scott Hutchison – I’ll do well to stay in control of myself if that happens.

Here’s a reminder of why this band are, and have been for a while, my favourites:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisble Boy (from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, 2007)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Room (from Forget the Night Ahead, 2009)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car (frm The Wrong Car EP, 2010)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Sick (from No One Can Ever Know, 2012)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – It Was Never The Same (from Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, 2014)



I don’t care if it’s a re-post of a re-post of a guest post from back in 2008. This will always be one of my favourite bits of writing and it just has to appear today.  A piece of music which still sounds superb 32 years on.


Today Mrs CTel discusses sport and dance for indie kids, through the medium of Colourbox.

Colourbox was one of the legendary 4AD label’s earliest and most under-recognized acts. It was among the first artists outside hip-hop to rely heavily on sampling techniques; ultimately, their arty blue-eyed soul reached its commercial and creative peak through their work with AR Kane on M/A/R/R/S‘ seminal “Pump Up the Volume” project, a reflection of the group’s long-standing interest in the burgeoning underground dance music scene of the 1980s. Colourbox was primarily the work of London-based brothers Martyn and Steven Young. In 1986 they released “The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme” (relating to the World Cup in Mexico in 86).

Mrs CTel says:

This is to do with Football. Music and sport in an official or unofficial capacity shouldn’t mix. It’s not cool – even New Order only just scraped a place on the line dividing kitsch from credibility. But this track’s massive saving grace it that except for the title (whisper it if you must) it doesn’t have ANY reference to the F word. Blissfully free of lyrics, it delivers a wonderful performance quite out sync with England’s woeful international efforts, except perhaps in its own lack of chart success. But hey, that IS cool in music terms. It starts off hard and keeps up a great momentum all the way through. Trust me on this one.

mp3 : Colourbox – The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme 7″ Mix



ALL HERE IS ACE: The Fall’s First Decade (1977-1986)

A guest posting by JONDER

I started this ICA before Mark E. Smith‘s death, but found it hard to reduce The Fall‘s first and greatest decade to ten songs. It was a period of boundless creativity, as the group moved from strength to strength with an astonishing series of singles and albums.

Sean O’Neal observed in the, “Most Fall fans don’t have something as pedestrian as favorite albums or songs, but rather favorite eras and lineups.” For me, nothing surpasses the bass-driven, double drummer sound of these years, topped with trebly guitars and Mark’s distinctive delivery. The lyrics bristle with dark wit and undisguised contempt for the scene, the press, record labels, musicians, the city of London, and even the audience.


1. Crap Rap/Like To Blow – Smith introduces the group as Northern outsiders. The Fall’s 1979 debut album, Live At The Witch Trials, features Yvonne Pawlett‘s cheap keyboard and the metallic sheen of Martin Bramah‘s guitar, both soon to disappear from the lineup.

2. Before The Moon Falls – by the end of ’79, only Smith and Marc Riley remained from the first LP. The tenure of bassist Steve Hanley and guitarist Craig Scanlon begins on Dragnet. The production recoils from the bright clarity of Witch Trials. Smith paraphrases William Blake: “I must create a new regime or live by another man’s.” An ex-Fall member is quoted on the album’s back cover: “I bet you’re laughing your head off at this, aren’t you Smith?”

3. C & C’s Mithering – An epic travelogue and a tirade against the music industry, from 1980’s Grotesque. An odyssey that spans two continents and three months, set to two chords and three beats.

4. The Container Drivers – The Fall could be funny. This is from the third of The Fall’s 24 Peel Sessions. It is a portrait of truckers on speed, with observations culled from Mark’s job on the docks. One moment that always makes me smile is around 1:45, when Paul Hanley fires off an overlong drum roll.

5. Winter – 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour is often named as The Fall’s finest album. This song is the first half of a ghost story: you flipped the LP over when it ended to hear the conclusion of the tale. Storytelling was a significant part of Smith’s writing in the 1980’s (cf. Wings, Spectre Vs. Rector, The NWRA and New Face In Hell). There were fewer narrative songs in the decades to follow.


6. Room To Live – The Room To Live album was something of a disappointment. How could it not be, just six months after the spellbinding Hex? Some of the songs seem morose, but the title track is a high-spirited Country & Northern romp.

7. I Feel Voxish – Marc Riley cowrote this song, but was fired before it was recorded. Smith plays with assonance in the phrases “pillbox crisp” and “feel voxish”. Perverted By Language (1983) was The Fall’s last album for Rough Trade, and the first to feature Brix Smith.

8. Slang King – “This is Mr. and Mrs. Smith to whom you are speaking.” Mark was a slang king, a perverter of language, and an inventor of words like “corporatulent”. Here he explores alliteration and onomatopoeia: whip wire, swoop swoop. 1984’s Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall was the group’s first LP for Beggar’s Banquet.

9. L.A. – The lyrics to this tune are few, outnumbered by Mark’s wordless falsetto and percussive vocalizations. L.A. is a showcase for Brix as a guitarist, and a tribute to her birthplace. Near the end she quotes from the movie Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls: “This is my happening, and it freaks me out!” LCD Soundsystem recently used the same line. (This Nation’s Saving Grace, 1985)

10. US 80’s-90’s – A critique of modern American Puritanism from 1986’s Bend Sinister. Smoking bans and the “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign of the Reagan era signified a sociopolitical shift since The Fall’s first US visit. This song and L.A. foreshadow the synthesizer friendly Fall Sound of the 90’s. There’s also a reference back to the first track of this ICA, as Smith calls himself “the big shot original rapper” but adds that “it’s time for me to get off this crapper.”

Mark E. Smith was a vocalist, songwriter and bandleader unlike any other. The Fall seemed to expect more from their listeners, and to give up their secrets less readily. I was a suburban American teen when I first heard The Fall. I couldn’t completely grasp what they were doing. Still I was enchanted, and soon obsessed. The music was uniquely compelling, and for me it remains so.


JC adds…..huge thanks to Jonder for being so patient….this ICA landed in the Inbox months ago.  That’s the last of the backlog cleared, so if anyone else wants to a go, then feel free to drop me a line…I promise you shouldn’t have long to wait to see your work appear in print!


Nada Surf – If I Had A Hi-Fi

I absolutely love NYC band Nada Surf. They’re consistently excellent. Their songs are just the right mix of melody, melancholy and musicianship. They’re a great live act, too. I’ve been thinking about a Nada Surf ICA for ages but I love so many of their songs I’m having trouble shortening the shortlist. This set is easy, though, because it consists only of songs from their covers album, If I Had A Hi-Fi (which is a palindrome, btw). Other bands whose songs were covered include Depeche Mode, Spoon and The Go-Betweens. I’ll get to that ICA one of these days.

Electrocution – originally by Cleveland musician Bill Fox
Question – originally by The Moody Blues
Evolution – originally by Spanish Band Mercromina



The decision by Cherry Red Records to compile and release C86, C87 and C88 triple-disc boxsets as 30th anniversary celebrations has brought much joy and happiness to Villain Towers. I’ve finally picked up on many bands that I vaguely recall reading about in one or other of the UK’s weekly music papers but in whom I didn’t invest any of my meagre earnings on their vinyl – but then again I didn’t actually buy much music in the final few years of that particular decade.

I’m sort of making up for things now and doing my best to pick up second-hand 45s and LPs but only if the price is right. Only a decade ago, I could make multiple purchases for not much more than the packaging and posting but many sellers are now taking advantage of the increased interest in vinyl and have inflated prices to the point where I refuse to bite. I did, however, go out of my way to get my hands on an EP from 1987 thanks to really enjoying this track on one of the afore-mentioned Cherry Red releases:-

mp3 : BOB – What A Performance

As with so many of the bands who gained a following back in those days, the London-based BOB owed much to the late John Peel. The three founding members – Richard Blackborow (vocals, keyboard and guitar), Simon Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and Jem Morris (bass) had recorded and issued a three-track flexi disc in 1986 which they managed to get into the hands of the influential DJ. He played it a few times on his night-time show and in due course offered them a session. The band had now expanded, by 1987, into a four-piece with Gary Connors coming in to replace a previously utilised drum machine.

A five track EP on the newly formed Sombrero Records was the first release from this expanded line-up. It’s an exceptionally catchy number, certainly of its time and place, which remains more than capable of bringing a smile to the face of the most casual of listeners. The EP contained three other very enjoyable numbers as well as an extended and slightly over-ambitious mix of the lead track:-

mp3 : BOB – Deary Me
mp3 : BOB – Piggery
mp3 : BOB – Memory of A Free Lunch
mp3 : BOB – Worra Performance

This turned out to be the only contribution from the new drummer as he was replaced by Dean Legget who had been part of the newly disbanded Jamie Wednesday (whose other members would go on to become Carter USM). This line-up was together for a couple of years and while their subsequent releases continued to be championed by Peel, who also offered a further two sessions, they never became anything more than cult heroes. A new drummer, Stephen Hersom, replaced Legget in late 1990 and was involved in the LP Leave The Straight Life Behind, which was released on their own House of Teeth label. Sadly, the collapse of the Rough Trade distribution arm created huge problems for BOB who were particularly vulnerable given the smallness of their label and substantial losses were incurred. It was no real surprise that the band called it a day soon after.

As with so many from the era, there has been a 21st century comeback with the album being re-released in an expanded form in 2014 complete with the Peel Sessions and other tracks. The following year the band got back together again for some live shows, including an indie festival in Manchester.