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…..at 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.


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…..is 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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCZHd0ljFDw – Kane Gang and Hurrah!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iM2Zv-VoTk – 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