PLAY IT TO THE ONE WHO SHARES YOUR CHOCOLATE CAKE

The Desert Wolves were Martin King (vocals, guitar), Nick Platten (lead guitar), David Platten (rhythm guitar), Richard Jones (bass guitar, trumpet) and Craig Wolf (drums).

The back of the second, and last, single, says:-

Here it is, the second vinyl helping from the Desert Wolves – just the thing to warm your romantic hearts after the dark and bitter winter.

“Speak to me, Rochelle” sees the Wolves on a Parisian faray among a jangle of Platten guitars and yearning vocals. Feel the heartache in every line. Don’t be so cruel when I adore you.

“Mexico” appears by popular request with Richard blowing a mean trumpet and the rest of the group coasting along down south of the border. Tasty.

Side Two opens with “Besotted” – one of my particular Desert Wolves favourites and a song close to my heart. Craig and Richard hold down a loping beat while the guitars battle it out with the late night lyric. Play it to the one who shares your chocolate cake.

“Speak to me, Rochelle” returns to bring the curtain down on this particular collection. Or perhaps you could plat it as an apertif before you flip the disc and start again.

Au Revoir,
Martin
x

The sleeve also reveals that the songs were recorded in December 1987 at Out of the Blue Studios, Manchester and that the producer was Marc Radcliffe who would go on to make a great name for himself as a radio/tv presenter and writer, while the engineer was Nick Garside who would later work with many other Manchester bands, most notably as engineer/producer with James and also Inspiral Carpets. Quality stuff all around.

mp3 : The Desert Wolves – Speak to me, Rochelle
mp3 : The Desert Wolves – Mexico
mp3 : The Desert Wolves – Besotted
mp3 : The Desert Wolves – La petit Rochelle

I also found this home made promo for the single which I featured yesterday:-

I think these past two days of posts do highlight that The Desert Wolves were one who slipped through the net, deserving of much more success and longevity than they achieved. I know there’s countless bands like that out there….if anybody wants to use this space to recall one of them, then feel free to fire over a guest posting. Or multiple guest postings if you’re so inclined.

JC

WHO WERE THE DESERT WOLVES?

They were a band I knew nothing of until I came across this track on the C88 boxset:-

mp3 : The Desert Wolves – Love Scattered Lives

The accompanying booklet to the boxset advises that they were signed by local Manchester label Ugly Man and this was their 1997 debut, mixing up Bart Bacharach with the style of neighbours Morrissey and Marr. A four-track EP Speak to Me Rochelle was released the following year but that proved to the swansong.

Lover Scattered Lives is a genuinely excellent piece of music, remiscent in places of Lloyd Cole but there’s also a hint of the sound of Wild Swans/Care in the tune. It’s almost beyond belief to think that something as joyous and infectious as this sunk without trace, but I suppose it was one of those instances where the smallness of the record label meant the distribution of the 45 was limited.

I’ve gone digging and managed to unearth the two tracks which were on the 12″, which was in fact the only format it was commercially released on:-

mp3 : The Desert Wolves – Stopped In My Tracks
mp3 : The Desert Wolves – Desolation Sunday Morning

These too, are excellent tunes. The latter confirmed my inital views of Care/Wild Swans but with added poignant trumpet….and a hint of Edwyn-inspired vocal delivery. So much so, that I ended up doing extra digging and will bring you some more of this undeservedly short-lived group tomorrow.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #180 : LUKE HAINES

A GUEST POSTING by ROL HIRST
My Top Ten Blog

Compared to The Auteurs (4 albums and a handful of EPs) and Black Box Recorder (3 albums and a compilation of odds & sods), Luke Haines’ solo career is pretty hard to keep up with. Indeed, during the course of compiling these ICAs I discovered the great man had released a new album, I Sometimes Dream Of Glue, earlier this year to very little fanfare. Haven’t been able to track a copy down yet so nothing from that is included here, but there’s much to enjoy in Haines’s solo career if you’re not afraid of concept albums and you’re prepared to humour the odd missteps such as the BBC-Radiophonic-workshop-does-apocalypse-instrumentals of British Nuclear Bunkers. Anyway, here’s a bunch of my favourites…

SIDE A

1. Rock ‘n’ Roll Communique #1

The opening track from The Oliver Twist Manifesto, Haines’ first official solo album, (although many argue that title should actually go to the last Auteurs album, How I Learned To Love The Bootboys), this is as clear a manifesto as you could want from any pop star.

This is not entertainment
Don’t expect me to entertain you
Any more than you could entertain me
It may not be pretty
People might get hurt
Reputations could be tarnished
(People round here don’t like to talk about it)

Run away if you don’t like it
You don’t need to worry your pretty head about it
Don’t beg for mercy, you’ll get none, now it’s war

This is rock ‘n’ roll communique No.1
Hell for leather, spare no expenses
Jammy bastards, sod the consequences
All named and shamed

This is not entertainment

Except it is! It really is!

 

2. Saturday Afternoon

Nostalgia for the 70s and 80s – the “good old days” of our youth – is a big part of Haines’ act these days. There are no rose-tinted glasses here though. Haines sees much to love in those halcyon days… but isn’t afraid to peer into the murky underbelly of the time either.

Saturday Afternoon is the most approachable track from the wonderfully bizarre concept album 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s & Early ’80s, a record which does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. As such, its appeal will largely depend on whether you remember these days in the same way Haines does. If, like me, you grew up watching Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks fight it out on Saturday afternoon TV, this will push all the right nostalgic buttons…

Saturday afternoon
Saturday afternoon
There’s Evel Knievel
Catweazle’s false teeth
Fly out of the telly
And land at my feet

Mother, what’s for tea?
Liver sausage sandwich and cheese
They’re fighting on the terraces
Starting at two
There’s a tag team in the corner
Of our front room

3. Leeds United

The darker side of that particular vein of nostalgia is seen here, in a song that works well as a companion piece to David Peace’s Red Riding novels. Violence on the terraces and the sinister threat of the Yorkshire Ripper. My dad worked in Leeds during the 70s. Although I was very young, I recognise the shadow cast over that city that Haines successfully evokes here in a song told from the perspective of a young man in serious danger of being dragged into hell.

No leads for the West Yorkshire police
In Victorian Leeds, concrete Leeds
There’s a killer on the terraces, better call in Doris Stokes
The devil came to Yorkshire in the silver Jubilee
It could be Kendo Nagasaki, Jimmy Savile or the Queen
Leeds United – Leeds United – Leeds United – Leeds United
The North, the North
Where we do what we want
The North the North
Where we do what we like

At the time, Haines took a bit of flack from northern fans for the lyrics here. What right does that Southern Jessie have to talk about how grim it is or was up north? I’m reminded of Neil Young laying into Lynyrd Skynyrd in Southern Man, and Skynyrd hitting back with Sweet Home Alabama. In America, the North-South divide is reversed, of course. Alabama and Leeds were kindred spirits… and I say that as a proud(-ish) Yorkshireman.

4. English Southern Man

All of which led to this track, Haines’ response to the Leeds United hecklers. As proud a celebration of being a southerner as the aforementioned Skynyrd track, this tries to reclaim the term “God’s own country” from greedy, grabbing Yorkshiremen and relocate it to Haines’ beloved south coast. Tongue is, of course, firmly in cheek again, and anyone who takes offence at this really needs to get a life… or risk becoming the same northern cliché Haines was parodying above.

5. North Sea Scrolls – Broadmoor Blues Delta

Haines’ nostalgic obsession with the land of his birth reached its zenith with the North Sea Scrolls album, a collaboration with Cathal Coughlan and journalist Andrew Mueller. Described as “an alternative history of the British Isles”, it chronicles through alternating songs and spoken word pieces a bizarre parallel dimension where DJ Chris Evans is burnt at the stake, Enoch Powell becomes Poet Laureate, and Princess Anne’s kidnapper is the lead singer of Gomez (they’re both called Ian Ball, see). To be honest, pulling one track out for inclusion here doesn’t really work – you have to listen to the whole album to appreciate its true glory. But equally I couldn’t leave The North Sea Scrolls out of this ICA, because it is Haines at his surreal and acerbic best.

Side B

1. 21st Century Man

You may not appreciate the comparison, but this is Luke Haines’ version of We Didn’t Start The Fire by Billy Joel. You know how on that song (which you probably pretend to hate, but I’ll forgive you) Billy chronicles his life through the big names and events in the news and pop culture? Well, In 21st Century Man, Luke Haines does just the same. So this is the We Didn’t Start The Fire it’s cool to like! You don’t have to hide it way in back of your record collection the way you do that secret, stained Billy Joel 12”. Really. It’s the first step… after that, you can join my support group. We meet every Tuesday night in the old church hall behind the Spar.

2. The Heritage Rock Revolution

Have I used the word “iconoclastic” in this feature yet? Here’s a typically barbed love letter to the editors of Mojo and Uncut… and, I guess, most members of the music blogosphere – talk about biting the hand that feeds!

I love rock ‘n’ roll
I hope it never dies
Put it in a chocolate box and
Bury it alive

3. Alan Vega Says

Of course, just when you think you’ve got Luke Haines neatly pigeonholed, he goes and releases a record like New York In The 70s, reminding us that for all his grumpy Englishness, he’s long been a fan of American music too (as discussed in more detail back in Volume 1 of this ICA). The album pays tribute to many of Haines’ musical heroes from the titular city and decade, including the New York Dolls, Lou Reed, Jim Carroll, and especially Suicide’s Alan Vega. The repetitive lyrics and low key electro-punk work as a perfect tribute, making for one of Haines’ most accessible albums of recent years.

4. Smash The System

There comes a point in your live when you realise that rebellion and revolution is a young man’s dream. The title track from Haines’ 2016 album invites us to embrace Morris dancing, admit that we love the Monkees, and riot for the summer. Mid-life, middle-class crisis in song. Perfect!

5. Christ

And finally… If you haven’t yet read Luke Haines’ two excellent memoirs – Bad Vibes and Post-Everything – well, I realise there’s little chance of me persuading you… but perhaps you’ll listen to JC: here and here. As a taster, I offer you the final track on this most difficult to compile ICA (oh, the ones I had to leave off!), which is those two books condensed into one song. The manifesto from our opening track comes full circle here. And of course, Haines reveals his long-suspected God-complex in all its glory.

At the age of 33 and a third, the time that Christ spent on earth
I decided to cut all ties with showbiz
As the awards piled up in the bath, well I started to laugh
At all those who died in the name of light entertainment

Be thankful Luke Haines never became a big star. I’m pretty sure he is. He’s made far more interesting work on the sidelines. Continued success is overrated anyway.

ROL

TECHNICALLY, I’M NOW MARRIED TO A PENSIONER

I’ll pay for this posting……indeed, I’ll pay heavily!

Mrs V turns 60 years old today.  Rachel is, by far, the youngest and most active 60 year old I know, holding down a stressful and time-consuming job that involves a fair amount of travelling across the UK while maintaining a busy social life around her many different loves such as gardening, growing food, walking, music and literature.

We will be waking up in Barcelona, a city she has long wanted to visit, and this will be our third day of four.  We will be joined by a small group of friends to spend a day doing whatever it is Rachel most wants to do, rounding things off with some fine food and wine, with the vegetarian option being enjoyed by the birthday girl.

The trip will be the latest in what has been a year-long effort by her to do all sorts of things with different groups of friends.  There’s been a night at a Taylor Swift gig in Manchester, a weekend at the Rewind festival in Henley-on-Thames and soon she will be off to Oslo to follow a trail associated with one of her favourite authors, Jo Nesbo.  Her energy levels are incredible.

As I’ve said before, we have long enjoyed going to gigs together but in more recent years, especially since I became ensconsed in the blog, our tastes have somewhat drifted….I think Rachel deliberately goes for singers and bands that I wouldn’t dream of listening to.  It certainly makes for some interesting nights fighting over the remote controls….but occasionally something will give us some common ground.

Anyways, I am a very very lucky man to have her in my life….we’ve been living together now for more than 28 years having found each other after failed first marriages….and I hope you don’t mind me being self-indulgent in using the blog to air a few of her favourites:-

mp3 : Fall Out Boy – Dance Dance
mp3 : Good Charlotte – Lifestyles Of The Rich and The Famous
mp3 : Green Day – Minority
mp3 : Marilyn Manson – Disposable Teens
mp3 : Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do
mp3 : Lady Gaga – Born This Way
mp3 : Martin Solveig – Ready To Go
mp3 : Calvin Harris – Feel So Close

Happy birthday missus. Keep on rockin’, dancin’ and laffin’

JC

 

 

WHEN THE ROADRUNNER WENT COUNTRY ON US

The Lloyd Cole solo series is hopefully demonstrating that he is someone who rarely got comfortable and settled with any one genre, always looking to test and challenge himself and his fan base.

Jonathan Richman is another who has done similar over the years, particularly since he dropped the Modern Lovers moniker towards the end of the 80s.

He surprised everyone in 1990 with the release of Jonathan Goes Country. Its twelve songs included five cover versions and the musicians he brought on board for the recording included some of the best veterans of the Nashville scene. The danger of something like this is that it could end up as too much of a gimmick but what you get is quite clearly a frontman having a great time and delivering his songs in the way he always has – the exception being that his musicians bring a different set of skills and playing styles than what his fans would have been used to. But he pulls it off with style as evidenced by the album opener:-

mp3 : Jonathan Richman – Since She Started To Ride

Indeed, some of the tunes, particularly the covers, wouldn’t have been too far out-of-place on some of his other records:-

mp3 : Jonathan Richman – Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad

This is an instrumental take on a song associated with Tammy Wynette and here Jonathan adds his own rockabilly/surf style in the background to the wonderful country-style guitar lead as performed by album producer D Clinton Thompson.

Like so many other great country albums, room was made for a male/female duet, with guest vocalist Jody Ross. This turns out to be more flamenco than country:-

mp3 : Jonathan Richman – The Neighbors

And, finally, for fun, here’s Jonathan’s effort at writing and recording a song in the style of Johnny Cash:-

mp3 : Jonathan Richman – You’re Crazy For Taking The Bus

The entire album is a little over 30 minutes in length.  It’s not an essential one to own, but it is worthy of the occasional listen.

JC

LLOYD COLE THE SOLO YEARS : 2000

If you’ve been following this series then you’ll be aware that Lloyd Cole‘s future in the record industry was uncertain as the new century dawned.

The record label situation was shambolic and something of a legal nightmare. Lloyd was determined that his next release should feature The Negatives, a band of talented NYC musicians that he had first pulled together back in 1997 and with whom he was enjoying himself again.

LC was able to pull in a few favours in terms of funding and studio time and some of 1999 was spent working on songs, some of which were new and some of which had been written for the solo album which Mercury Records had refused to release back in 1996.

A French-based label, XIII Bis Records, had the stomach for the legal battle over publishing and recording rights thus enabling The Negatives to be released in November 2000.

Backed by Dave Derby (bass and vocals), Jill Sobule (guitars and vocals), Michael Kotch (guitars) and Rafa Maciejack (drums), not to mention contributions in the studio on the playing or arranging side from old friends such as Fred Quine, Neil Clark and Anne Dudley, the results proved to be one of the most unexpectedly high points of Lloyd’s entire career.

It’s an introspective album in many ways, with the tone set by the opening song whose title and lyric is full of references to LC’s career up to this point. It’s a work of genius:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Negatives – Past Imperfect

Every song seems to transpose the listener to another time – some were very reminiscent of the Commotions era, while others were a reminder of the solo years. At long last Lloyd sounded happy (by this time he was married with two young sons making up his family) and the record is an absolute joy from start to end. He even finds time to have a go at himself in which he remembers how the sound, look and persona he adopted in the early days of the solo career left him like a fish out of water:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Negatives – Tried To Rock

And in a sort of two fingers to the label, he took the aborted single that had been meant to trumpet the release of The Collection in 1998 and gave it the luxurious arrangement, complete with strings, that his paymasters had likely been looking for all along:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Negatives – That Boy

And then there’s the longest track on the album, at around five and a half minutes, in which the lyric is a throwback to the cleverness of the earliest material over a defiant tune which indicates that, from now on, Lloyd is going to do things his way:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Negatives – What’s Wrong With This Picture

Lloyd Cole & The Negatives went out on the road to some extent to promote the album, also performing material from the Commotions era.  I caught a show in Dublin in 2001 but sadly, it didn’t quite work.  The new material sounded fine but the old stuff sounded on the lumpy side – it was a similar experience to hearing Morrissey‘s backing band do very bad things to The Smiths songs.

In a solo career that had already provided many twists and turns, what was about to happen the following year almost beggared belief.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #126 : THE HEADBOYS

I have a digital copy of this song, which I downloaded from somewhere at some point over the past twelve years:-

mp3 : The Headboys – The Shape Of Things To Come

I did so as this 1979 single was one that I bought back in the day. It long has a place in my collection as being the cheapest brand new 45 I ever purchased, costing me 5p from the bargain bin in Woolworth’s.

The Headboys were a 1970s Edinburgh-based power pop band, consisting of Lou Lewis (guitar and vocals), George Boyter (bass and vocals), Calum Malcolm (keyboards and vocals) and, Davy Ross (drums and vocals).

Probably on the basis of this anthemic and catchy song, they inked a deal with the RSO label which, thanks to the Bee Gees, was as big as any at the time. The single got loads of airplay but only sold enough to reach #45 in the charts, but such was the power of their label this ensured an appearance on Top of the Pops.

I wasn’t a great lover of the record but at 5p it appealed to my sense of patriotism to rescue one of the many copies from the bargain bin. I’m guessing the store manager, perhaps having seen the TOTP appearance, thought there would be a run on the single straight after.

The band’s subsequent singles and debut LP went nowhere and so it is fair and accurate to say that The Headboys were very much a one-hit wonder, and a minor one at that.

Calum Malcolm would, however, go on to enjoy a long and succesful career in studio production and engineering, working alongside a varied roster of artists in Rock, Pop, Classical, Jazz and Traditional music initally at Castlesound Studios just outside of Edinburgh, a venture he himself founded in the late 70s, and more lately at his new studios.  He was involved in just about all of the early Postcard recordings……

JC