DOING IT FOR THE KIDS VIA C88

For years, thanks to its inclusion on the Doing It For The Kids compilation, released by Creation Records in 1988, I’ve had one song by pacific in the collection:-

mp3 : pacific – Jetstream

I always found it a bit on the dull side, one that was often subject to the skip button when the CD was getting played. It just felt too light and whimsical with the trumpet part taking a bit too close to jazz cafe music for my liking.

Many years later, I doubled my collection of songs by the band:-

mp3 : pacific – Barnoon Hill

This, on the other hand is quite splendid. Yes, it’s still light and whimsical but the faster pace and tempo makes it way more palatable.

It came as part of the C88 boxset released a couple of years back by Cherry Red and the liner notes in the accompanying provided some useful information:-

Fronted by Dennis Wheatley who sang, played guitar and created noises via an Atari computer, Pacific melded traditional indie with the intelligent off-kilter pop explored by The Colour Field or, later, The Lightning Seeds. On their debut EP, 1988’s Sea of Sand, they used cello and trumpet and a deft Japanese spoken word intro on Barnoon Hill.

Wheatley had fallen into the Creation camp whilst at college in Brighton…..a second single – the seven-minute epic ‘Shrift’ followed in 1989, followed by a split flexi with My Bloody Valentine courtesy of the Catalogue magazine.

In all, they recorded eight tracks, seven of which were compiled on Inference, a 1990 release on Creation. One UK seller on Discogs is asking for £50 for an unplayed vinyl copy,but you can seek out second-hand versions from some overseas sellers from about £13 plus shipping should your heart desire. It should be noted, however, that the version of Shrift on the vinyl version of the compilation album is about three minutes shorter than that put out as a 12″ single. Oh and it also doesn’t have the track put out as the joint flexi with My Bloody Valentine.

I went digging….found out that the band comprised Dennis Wheatley, Rachel Norwood, Vanessa Norwood, Nick Wilson and Simon Forrest.

I think it’s time I lived up to my name….here’s everything else they put out. Just don’t ask how:-

Sea of Sand EP (CRE 058)

The 7″ (pictured above) had two tracks – Barnoon Hill and this:-

mp3 : pacific – I Wonder

The 12″ had both those tracks, the afore-mentioned Jetstream and this:-

mp3 : pacific – Henry Said

One thing that proves is that Dennis Wheatley didn’t exclusively supply the vocals!

Shrift EP (CRE 064)

The 7″ had these:-

mp3 : pacific – Shrift
mp3 : pacific – Autumn Island

The 12″ had an extended version of the main track, plus one other song not on the 7″:-

mp3 : pacific – Shrift (12″)
mp3 : pacific – Minerals

Flexidisc

mp3 : pacific – December With The Day

Turns out that the track I most dislike was the one on Doing It For The Kids….a sampler which was supposed to draw you into seeking out other material by the featured singer or band!!!

JC

GETTING OLD JUST AIN’T NO FUN

The Just Joans will be appearing on the Saturday run through of Scottish singers/bands in the not too distant future, but a dig through some vinyl singles that had been bought in 2017/18 but left unkempt in a plastic bag for over a year, unearthed a gem of a 45 which just has to be shared.

They formed in 2005 and were, as the main protagonists have always admitted, an initial shambling effort of a band who rarely, if ever, took themselves that seriously. As time went on, and they began to attract an increasing fan base from well beyond their natural habitat of Glasgow and its neighbouring south-easterly towns in Lanarkshire, they took things up a few notches and began to release singles and albums that went beyond rudimentary.

The band has always centred around the siblings David and Katie Pope. Indeed, for much of the past near 15 years, the duo have taken to the stage as The Just Joans but there has been an increasing use of other musicians to flesh out their sound, both on record and in the live setting. David is a very talented and observant writer, penning witty and wry lyrics that are more often than not from the perspective of one of life’s eternal losers, albeit someone who never loses optimism or hope. He’s the first to admit that he’s not blessed with the most classic of singing voices but his delivery, always in the most direct of local dialects, fits perfectly with the subject matters in hand.

Katie’s role in the band has grown immensely in recent years. She’s well known in Glasgow as a visual artist, with her works often selling for substantial sums of money to collectors and fans alike. She’s painted many of the sleeves for band’s singles and albums, bringing to mind the work of Jenny Saville for Manic Street Preachers – an ugly side of reality but with the brightness of colour. Katie has taken on more vocal duties in recent years, either on lead or performing duets with her brother, providing not only a very fine contrast but enabling many of the songs to be seen through the prism of an unlucky and sad but optimistic female.

The band’s most recent album was You Might Be Smiling Now, released on Fika Recordings in late 2017. It was their third after Last Tango In Motherwell (2006) and Buckfast Bottles In The Rain (2012). Their preference has been the EP with seven of them released between 2007 and 2013.

You Might Be Smiling Now is a fabulous record from start to finish. There might just be too many local references and in-jokes to have it make perfect sense further afield, but at long last the previously used description of them being ‘the missing link between The Magnetic Fields and The Proclaimers’ made sense. They were now a six-piece, featuring Chris Elkin (lead guitar), Fraser Ford (bass guitar), Doog Cameron (keyboards) and Jason Sweeney (drums) – and yes, it’s the same Fraser Ford who performs with Butcher Boy – and while the song themes were still, for the most part self-deprecating, the playing made for a great listen, regardless of whether or not a listener understood the cultural or geographical references.

There was one single lifted from the album. It’s the most ambitious piece of music The Just Joans have tackled, with cellos, horns and female backing vocals added in for good measure.

Katie’s wistful delivery of the tale of someone coming to the realisation that they are no longer of an age to dance the night away, and indeed the horror that their preferred look is now that of a middle-aged aunt rather than a stylish teen, is one to make everyone of a certain age, regardless of gender, smile in recognition. The fact that it is delivered to a tune that just makes you want to get up and dance, with its chorus in particular making a passing nod to 60s Motown, only adds to the joy:-

mp3 : The Just Joans – No Longer Young Enough

And the 7” came with a gloriously evocative painting by Katie.

And a more than half decent b-side:-

mp3 : The Just Joans – Breakfast For Our Tea

It’s indie pop at its most indie and its most pop. What more could you ask for?

I’ll be back with more of this lot in a few weeks.

JC

DON’T MESS WITH ME……..

One of my favourite albums of last year was bought on a whim.

The cancellation of the next train home meant I could spend some bonus time in a record store close to Glasgow Central station. I always like to buy something when I’m in the shop, even if it is just a cheap paperback book or DVD. I noticed a display near the shop entrance promoting a new album by Tracey Thorn, something I wasn’t, until this point previously aware.

Regular readers will know that I’ve long been fond of Everything But The Girl but that I’ve also used the blog to offer the opinion that Tracey’s greatest vocal performance came when she guested for Massive Attack. I’ve a couple of her recent solo albums in the collection, neither of which I’ve regarded as essential listening, albeit they both contain a number of very fine moments. I have, however, enjoyed Tracey’s forays into the world of books, particularly her autobiographical work Bedsit Disco Queen, one of the most engaging and honest tomes about life in the music business. It was my thoughts about the book rather than the more recent albums which made me take a CD copy of Record to the counter.

It turns out that Record (ree-cord) is quite an extraordinary record (rek-ord), in which Tracey offers reflections from the perspective of who and what she is – a 50-something mother of three whose life-partner has been to hell and back in terms of his health, and who herself now has a breadth of knowledge and experience that can only come with age. Tracey has experienced things that just weren’t on her radar when she was young, fearless and feeling more or less unstoppable (not in any bravado way….just simply that fact that the vast majority of young folk are hardwired to feel like that).

It’s also a work in which the music is as clear and uncluttered as anything she’s done before, benefiting immensely from the fact that all the tunes are her own as well as her being able to utilise the talents of a number of high quality collaborators from the worlds of indie and pop. It’s a work which obviously means a lot to Tracey – she certainly went out on a limb by describing it as ‘nine feminist bangers’. The danger with such language is to over-promise and under-deliver, but in this instance, from the very off, this was never going to be the case.

Like many of my favourite releases of recent times, Record has changes of mood and tempo throughout, never threatening at any point to be monotonous or mundane. Synthpop, ballads, disco and indie are all on display with that distinctive and soothing voice to the fore. It’s an entertaining, charming and enjoyable album, very moving in places and continually thought-provoking. It doesn’t sound like an album by a 55-year old and it’s probably fair to say that Tracey has been influenced by the music that her grown-up kids listen to.

One of the best songs, Sister, was released also as a single, complete with radio edit and some remixes. It’s an absolute triumph on all fronts:-

mp3 : Tracey Thorn – Sister
mp3 : Tracey Thorn – Sister (radio edit)
mp3 : Tracey Thorn – Sister (Andrew Weatherall remix)
mp3 : Tracey Thorn – Sister (Andrew Weatherall dub)

The co-vocal is from Corrine Bailey Rae, whose soulful pop/jazz debut was a huge hit in 2006 on both sides of the Atlantic, but who just two years later had to cope with the tragic death, by misadventure, of her husband. She has since released two more successful Top 20 albums as well as rebuilding her life….

The energetic and driving bass and drums come courtesy of Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa from indie band Warpaint.

Essential listening if you don’t mind me saying.

JC

BONUS POSTING : IN PRAISE OF THE TWILIGHT SAD

You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m, understandably, a bit obsessed with The Twilight Sad this week.

The poster above indicates that our Simply Thrilled night, in which we get to host the official post-Barrowlands gig event, has completely sold out. What it doesn’t indicate is that the sell-out involves the entire space within The Admiral Bar, both the basement level where the club night normally takes place together with the ground floor bar area. The band have a good number of guests coming along but we have sold over 300 tickets which means there will be a substantial donation going the way of the Scott Hutchison fund.

The planning and preparation for the Simply Thrilled night has kind of overshadowed the fact that I’ll be seeing the band at the Barrowlands beforehand – I’m still working out how best I can quickly get out of the venue and make the mile and a bit journey to The Admiral for the 11pm start time and as such, a taxi may well be utilised.

I didn’t think things could get much better but at the tail end of last week the band announced a warm-up gig at King Tut’s in Glasgow for Tuesday 26 February with tickets available only via a link from their mailing site. Tickets went on sale the following morning (Friday) at 9am, but with a capacity of just 300, and each person entitled to two tickets, it was always going to be a long shot to land lucky, even getting into the queue would be something of a result!!

I clicked on the link…..pressed a few keys on traffic lights to prove I wasn’t a robot…..entered in that I would like two tickets please…..and waited all of ten seconds to be advised that tickets weren’t available just now and to try again later. I did and went through the same process except this time I clicked on few cars in squares to demonstrate that I was genuine flesh and blood, and again was advised to try again.

Third time lucky????? Well, I wasn’t asked to prove my credentials but then again I was quickly advised no tickets were available….in other words it was a sell-out.

I checked up with four other folk who had been trying and each had the same sad story to tell but then my dear mate Aldo, who had been incommunicado because of work issues, got I touch to say I wasn’t to worry!

I found out later that while most of us were sitting at laptops with the fastest possible wifi speeds, he had been walking along to his office at 9am and casually clicked on his mobile phone to have a try and not only got into the queue but got the tap on the shoulder to enter in the full payment details. And I’m going to be his +1!

It also looks as if a couple of the Simply Thrilled gang are getting in via the guest list, so all in all, it’s shaping up to be a memorable evening and hopefully my hearing will recover in time to do it all again four nights later.

The critics have given an enormous thumbs up to the new album It Won/t Be Like This All the Time, and understandably so. There is no question that the four year gap since last being in the studio, during which time they played cavernous arenas and outdoor shows as the special guests of The Cure, has been good for The Twilight Sad with the new record meshing all that they have put down before – the loud guitars, the sombre electronics and the intense vocals from James Graham – but adding in places a number of almost pop-like hooks and melodies that can only bring them to the attention of a wider audience. I’ll be very surprised if hear a better album in the rest of 2019.

I was lucky enough to attend this show in Leeds last year at which three unreleased songs that were aired and it was immediately clear that the band’s new material was going to be quite sensational. They have, some twelve years down the line since the first album, penned a song which will most define The Twilight Sad. James has said in interviews recently that the line ‘there’s no love too small’ is one of the most hopeful he’s ever penned which nevertheless is surrounded by lines which are full of anxiety and fear. He’s also said that the album was written while the band was dealing with ‘birth, death, illness, uncertainty and self-hatred’. But in an album of outstanding numbers, it is this upbeat tune with its optimistic refrain which carries the biggest and most important message.

The other ten songs on It Won/t Be Like This All the Time are every bit as strong…..here’s some more footage to help illustrate that:-

Oh….and is that isn’t enough to get me thinking how special the next few days are going to be, the Simply Thrilled team have been given another huge honour in respect of this Saturday as will be the first to air, outside of a couple of radio stations, a new song by the incredibly talented Siobhan Wilson, whose debut album There Are No Saints, released in 2017, just gets better and better with age.

Her sophomore album, The Departure, is being released in May 2019. I’ll certainly be giving it a mention or two around then.

Seems appropriate to return to The Twilight Sad and their tour de force from 2014’s Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. This was the one which Robert Smith couldn’t wait to get his hand on, and no wonder.

mp3 : Robert Smith – There’s A Girl In The Corner

Just occurred to me…..all that is needed to make this week unbelievably perfect is for Robert, should he happen to be attending the Barrowlands gig, to come along and say hello at The Admiral afterwards.

Dreaming is Free.

JC

MONDAY MORNING….COMING DOWN (5)

The previous time I featured Cousteau on the blog was in August 2014 when I posed the question ‘Anyone Remember This Lot?’

It was very pleasing that a number of very favourable comments followed on, including a couple of personal anecdotes from folk who knew, for one reason or other, vocalist Liam McKahey.

This oustanding piece of music is tailor made for this particular series.

mp3 : Cousteau – The Last Good Day Of The Year

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 17)

The period after the final release on Crépuscule saw Paul Haig back in Scotland where he rekindled not only his friendship but his working relationship with Billy Mackenzie, the two of them getting together every now and again in Paul’s home studio to work on tracks that could, perhaps, one day see the light of day. Neither of the two geniuses had record deals at the time (which in itself is indicative of the sad state of the music industry) and for the most part, it was all about enjoying one another’s company.

Billy’s suicide in September 1997 was devastating to his family and friends, and even today, more than 20 years on, there’s a sense of disbelief about it.  Paul was sitting on the music they had made, and in 1999 he took the decision to make available nine bits of music they had put down between December 1993 and July 1995 as the album Memory Palace, attributed to Haig/Mackenzie. It was released on ROL Records, newly revived by Paul for the purpose and the first on the label in 18 years.

A few lucky people had been able to hear one of the songs prior to Memory Palace, thanks to a very limited 7″ vinyl release in 1998.

Syntanic was a label based in Vienna which, from 1993 to 2001, released records, tapes and CDs, specialising in exceedingly limited editions.

100 individually copies of the song Listen To Me, backed by two tracks, Looking and Irresponsible, formed the release with the catalogue number nice49. Of these, 15 were even more exclusive with a signed card lyric insert.

It’s not something I have in my collection – there’s currently one for sale on Discogs just now from a German dealer who is looking for £50. I might treat myself at one point in the future…

I’m assuming that the version of the song is that which was released on Memory Palace the following year:-

mp3 : Haig/Mackenzie – Listen To Me

Billy’s backing vocals make this a really moving and emotional listen, and it’s interesting to ponder if a more widely available release would have perhaps troubled the charts….but most likely not.

It’s a song that Paul that has returned to a couple of times. First of all, on his 2009 album Relive:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Listen To Me

I can’t help but feel that Paul would have welled up a few times recording his fresh vocal, thinking back to the happy times he spent with his great friend.

And then, just last year, a different version was made available on the compilation, Goosebumps – 25 Years of Marina Records. It’s a much more gentle and sedate take, and it comes with a wonderfully imagined string section, arranged by Dave Scott of The Pearlfishers. And while it didn’t enjoy a release until 2018, the notes in the accompanying booklet date the recording back to 2005:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Listen To Me (orchestral version)

Worth also mentioning that a track called Looking (the name of one of the b-sides of the Vienna release) was recorded for Paul’s album Cinematique 2, released on ROL in 2001. Again, I can’t be sure if it;s the same as the 1998 single, but here’s the 2001 version:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Looking

I know this post has been a bit all over the place time wise, but I did want to make available all three versions of Listen To Me that I have in the collection.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #149 : JACOB YATES & THE PEARLY GATE LOCKPICKERS

from wiki:-

Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers were formed in 2007 by Jake Lovatt, former front man with Uncle John & Whitelock. The band was initially a three-piece, consisting of Lovatt on vocals and guitar, Ric Holmes on bass guitar and Michael Bleazard on drums. This lineup was later augmented by the addition of former Uncle John & Whitelock member, Jamie Bolland, on keyboards and guitar. In 2011, former Paper Planes guitarist Christopher Haddow was added to the lineup. Taking many of the signature “Horror R&B” elements of the previous band with them, The Pearly Gate Lock Pickers’ music has been described as Doom Wop.

Their debut album, Luck, was released on 20 June 2011. The album was well-received, with the music described as “dark with a mischievous grin” and as having a “Mississippi-meets-Maryhill sound”, drawing comparisons with Tom Waits, Nick Cave and The Cramps

And here’s the superb opening track from said album which ceratinly holds up the Cave comparisons:-

mp3 : Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers – Mark

JC