AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #209 : SUEDE

A GUEST POSTING by ADY HODGES

First, I’d like to thank everyone for their kind comments on my first ICA on Ash. They were nice enough to make me want to have another go, so here we are.

The other month, I was watching The Insatiable Ones, a new Suede documentary and I wondered if anyone had done a Suede ICA, as it’s something I thought I could have a go at. Imagine my surprise when I saw no one had, so I’m attempting it. I don’t claim to be a Suede expert, but I own the first 4 albums, the Sci-Fi Lullabies B Sides collection, the first comeback album, Bloodsports and the latest, The Blue Hour. I have also now heard the other 2 albums, although nothing from them has made this ICA (spoiler alert),

The Beautiful Ones – A Suede ICA

Side 1

Animal Nitrate (from Suede)

Possibly the most famous Suede song (although that could be Trash). Their first Top Ten hit (at a time when Indie bands didn’t hit the Top Ten) and a song that we forget now was so out of step with the times, all big bold glam rock guitars at the tail end of the grunge era. Somehow its blatant drug references escaped the BBC sensors, as it was a massive radio hit.

Everything Will Flow (from Head Music)

The recording of Head Music was a troubled time for the band, Brett Anderson was a drug addict by this time and keyboard player Neil Codling was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The band largely recorded tracks for the album individually. On top of this, they were also trying to experiment with a more electronic dance influenced direction. Despite this, a lot of the album holds up well, none more so than this track. Fun fact, this song got to number 28 on the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, Suede on the Dance chart, who’d have thought it?

The Big Time (from Sci-Fi Lullabies)

Originally the B Side to Animal Nitrate, later collected on the Sci-Fi Lullabies compilation. This is a beautiful ballad, simple guitar, strings, a mournful trumpet solo and poignant lyrics, detailing the tale of a relationship breaking down due to the fame of one of the parties. “Now he’s in the big time, And you’re in the way.”

It Starts And Ends With You (from Bloodsports)

Suede’s reunion has produced 3 albums to date, Bloodsports was the first in 2013. When they toured this album, they played 2 sets, first they played the complete album in order, then after a break they played their singles in chronological order (when I saw them in Southampton, they got up to The Beautiful Ones), which was a brave decision, but I believe the album is strong enough to get away with it. This to me is the stand-out track on the album, very old-school chart friendly Suede.

The 2 Of Us (from Dog Man Star)

Dog Man Star is now regularly held up as Suede’s crowning achievement. Initially I preferred Coming Up, as it is more immediate, but Dog Man Star bears up to repeated listening, as you appreciate more about it and different tracks make an impression. This is one of those tracks, in some ways it’s a typical Suede piano ballad, however, I love the way it builds and then fades, also the lyrics are very evocative.

Side 2

Beautiful Ones (from Coming Up)

The third album Coming Up was a contrast to Dog Man Star, more direct and poppy. It feels like an album of hit singles and five of them did go top 10. This to my mind is the best of the uptempo tracks, even if it is a bit reminiscent of New Generation from the previous album. It’s a typical rollicking Suede single with lyrics trashing mid-nineties celebrity culture.

Stay Together (Long Version) (from the single)

Their joint biggest hit (along with Trash) and the only standalone single they ever released. This was the first notice that Bernard Butler wanted to start producing epics and this longer version definitely feels like a production where the kitchen sink has been thrown at it, particularly in the four and a half minute outro. A clear signpost to what they would go on to produce on the Dog Man Star album.

Still Life (from Dog Man Star)

Another ballad from Dog Man Star. I prefer the ballads on this album (this, The 2 Of Us, The Wild Ones & Asphalt World in particular), as there are more layers to them. This track builds to an impressive climax, with contributions from the London Sinfonia orchestra. It was covered, surprisingly well, by of all people, Alisha’s Attic on the Childline album, a version worth seeking out.

Cold Hands (from The Blue Hour)

I toyed with sticking a number of tracks at this point. The piano version of My Insatiable One was considered, as was their cover of Shipbuilding, but there are too many ballads on this side of the ICA. We need something lively here and I thought about Metal Mickey, but I eventually settled on something less obvious. Cold Hands is a highlight from the latest album and is a short swaggering blast of energy, that fits nicely here.

Saturday Night (from Coming Up)

The closing track from Coming Up is a melancholic ballad, based around a straightforward guitar figure and some more poignant lyrics. I think the “Sha La La La” refrain as the song fades out is a great way to end this ICA.

ADY

SOME VERY WELCOME NEWS

You’ll hopefully recall this piece from a couple of months back in which I lamented the decision by Adam Stafford to take his leave of the music scene.

Tucked away near the end of that particular posting, I set out my hope that Adam would take up my offer of a sit-down over a beer or two at which I’d lend a sympathetic ear if he wanted to gripe further about the music industry.

My hopes were realised and, at the tail end of January, he came across to Glasgow, ostensibly to catch a show by Broken Chanter (the new band formed by David McGregor following the break-up of Kid Canaveral), but we hooked up a couple of hours beforehand and we got talking. We were joined a while later by Mike Melville of Manic Pop Thrills and I think it’s a fair assumption to say that we both spent a bit of energy asking Adam to reconsider his decision and offering to help out in any way we could.

We both felt we were pushing a wee bit at an open door as Adam was saying that his love of composing and performing hadn’t left him – indeed he’d been given a gift of an old-style synthesiser at Christmas on which he had been working up some new pieces – but he just felt really low and bitter about how the tail end of 2018 had been panning out. In a nutshell, he’d released a critically acclaimed double-album and yet he was unable to transfer such praise into enough sales to financially support himself and his family and his efforts to tour further afield than the cities in Scotland had left him out-of-pocket.

But more than the financial side of things, it was painfully obvious that he was doubting himself for what must have been the first time in decades, wondering if he really did have an audience. Our response was that, as long as we were still capable of listening to music, he’d always have at least two fans to buy his stuff and come see his shows.

I think it’s fair to say that, by the end of what turned out to be a great night (the live show was most enjoyable), Adam was quite drunk and had been given a bit of food for thought. I got a really nice e-mail from him the day after in which he admitted not remembering much of his train journey back to Falkirk and the walk from the station to his home, but that he’d appreciated the company and the encouragment I’d given him.

I knew there would be other folk out there offering similar words to Adam, including his family, close friends, fellow musicians and other fans similar to myself. So it was great to get this missive a couple of weeks ago:-

Dear friends,

As some of you already know, in Nov last year, after a bad week of depression and insomnia, I hastily announced that I was quitting music, performing & releasing. It had been an eventful year: I was flattened by the deaths of two people I knew and greatly admired; an LP that I’d spent 8 years making was well received but a subsequent short tour of the UK was financially and emotionally ruinous. The shadows were closing in.

Thankfully I have a stupendous amount of supportive family and friends who dropped what they were doing to facilitate the massive whitey I was having and encouraged me to pause and reflect, respond rather than react.

To get to the point, I never have truly wanted to retire from writing and performing, but needed a break. In all honesty, I need to keep creating music to stop me from going insane and financially support my family. Thus, I am putting out this new EP of mainly soundtrack music that I’ve been working on over the last year. It is free to DL but any contribution (or a recommendation to a friend) would be greatly appreciated:

https://adamstafford.bandcamp.com/album/digressions-in-the-pale-palace-ep-2019

One of the issues that had come up during our drunken discussions in Glasgow had been how best to get the new music out there. I told Adam that I would be willing to get involved in any support costs in doing so and as the night wore on, I began to insist that he allow me to get involved in that way as it would be an honour and a privilege.

A few days later, in reply to his e-mail thanking me for being decent company at the gig, I reminded him of my offer and repeated my insistence. I was determined to try to make sure that he could start 2019 with something of a bang, through having new material available for sale and/or a couple of shows to look forward to. After much badgering, he accepted my offer. It’s not a great deal of money – I pay more for a season ticket at Raith Rovers and it’s come from a good couple of weeks making football score predictions and relieving an on-line betting firm of some cash – but what it has done is enable Adam to send this out:-

Adam Stafford returns in 2019 fresh from the critically acclaimed compositional album Fire Behind the Curtain (2018). This time he has hunkered down in his tiny studio with a newly acquired Synthesizer and laid down improv Synth jams over one week in a psychedelic sweatstorm.

The result is The Acid Bothy: a no-frills, no-bullshit hypnogogic slayer; a bad-trip brainmelch vomitorium spewing bubbling Synth lines that warp and contort in the shifting haze.

Fitting for an LP that was recorded live onto mono cassette, Adam is issuing The Acid Bothy on fruit salad (bi-red/yellow) coloured tapes limited to 50 copies.

Of these 50 copies, 15 can be pre-ordered HERE with the rest being available at two live shows:-

12 April: Leith Depot, Edinburgh
18 April: The Hug & Pint, Glasgow

(Turns out that the 15 pre-order copies are already sold out!!!….but you can still pick up a download version)

Who could possibly resist something described as a bad-trip brainmelch vomitorium spewing bubbling Synth lines that warp and contort in the shifting haze.

Paul Morley, eat your broken heart out.

In the meantime, here’s something from Fire Behind The Curtain, that critically acclaimed LP from 2018 mentioned earlier on:-

mp3 : Adam Stafford – Holographic Tulsa Mezzanine

JC

MONDAY MORNING….COMING DOWN (7)

T’internet truly is a wonderful educational tool.

Up until doing the little bit of research for this post, I had assumed today’s song was a cover of a number by The Carpenters:-

mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Superstar

The mighty Quinn and his just as mighty bandmates* recorded this for the 1992 album The Phantoms and the Archetypes, with it also appearing as a track on the Stupid Thing single the following year. My previous knowledge of the song stemmed from my childhood when the brother and sister duo enjoyed a Top 20 hit in late 1971 – to be honest, I thought Superstar had been a #1 record, such was the frequency with which I recall hearing it, but I’m thinking now that it was more likely one of those songs that was the subject of numerous requests over the years and I’m conflating things over an extended period.

Not that it matters.

I suppose I should have realised The Carpenters were themselves offering up a cover, given the writing credits go to Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett.

It turns out the song dates from 1969.  The original has a totally different type of the arrangement, with horns and a gospel style backing vocal. It was Bonnie Bramlett on lead vocal, Leon Russell on keyboards and, among others, Eric Clapton on guitar and Rita Coolidge on background vocals. There were a few more versions recorded prior to The Carpenters, including by the likes of Cher, Bette Midler and Peggy Lee. There’s also been a lorry-load of versions since 1971 across a range of genres.

Paul Quinn’s take on things demonstrates that Superstar is, when it all boils down, a torch song of the utmost quality, and it’s a rather sad tale from the perspective of a discarded groupie, one who wasn’t a career groupie interested in quantity of ‘bags’, but who thought the love and affection offered by the musician in question was genuine and meaningful.

Turns out too that one line in the original version was felt too risqué by Richard Carpenter and so he changed ‘And I can hardly wait to sleep with you again’ so that Karen would now sing ‘And I can hardly wait to be with you again”, which is the line also sung by Paul.

The song was later, in 1994, covered by a very unlikely source:-

mp3 : Sonic Youth – Superstar

It appeared initially on the tribute album If I Were a Carpenter and was also released as a single. It has been used on a couple of soundtracks and is the only known version for which Richard Carpenter has expressed a strong dislike.

Oh and *the mighty bandmates referred to at the outset?

James Kirk (ex-Orange Juice)
Blair Cowan (ex-Lloyd Cole & The Commotions0
Tony Soave (ex-The Silencers)
Campbell Owens (ex-Aztec Camera)
Robert Hodgens (ex-The Bluebells)
Alan Horne (music impresario extraordinaire)

Nae bad eh?

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 20)

I promised you last week that the final part of this, what I hope has been an informative and enjoyable series, would be worthwhile.

Those of you who have been with me since the days of the original Vinyl Villain Blog (born 30 Sep 2006, murdered by Google on 24 July 2013) will know that Paul Haig embraced and encouraged the sort of things this and other places do to respect music and musicians.

In March 2009, I put up a post which featured two Edinburgh acts – Paul Haig and Hey! Elastica. To my surprise and anger, Google acted on a dmca notice and removed the post and the links. The bizarre thing was that the offending post had been written on the back of an e-mail from someone associated with Paul Haig’s management thanking me for featuring him previously on TVV, the knock-on effect of which led to Paul himself contributing a couple of lines to the post, which was just a huge thrill for me. Oh and the song was one which was impossible to have unless you owned a particular piece of vinyl from the 80s.

It turned out that Paul and his management team were every bit as pissed off about it as I was, offering encouragement and then getting in touch with Google to express their dismay. Paul then sent me an email to say I had full permission to provide a free mp3 of his single Reason as his way of expressing solidarity with music bloggers whom he knew were doing a lot to encourage the sale of music and not just acting as thieves or pirates.

All this led to the genesis of an idea for bloggers to say thank you back to Paul, which we did by having Paul Haig Day on 6 April 2009, with more than 50, the world over, of us dedicating our posts on that date to his music, whether solo or with his old band. It even got a mention on a music station in New York City!!

The idea was repeated in 2010, and even more bloggers joined in. But what made it particularly special was that Paul offered up, not only more words of encouragement, but provide The Vinyl Villain with the opportunity to feature what was, at that point in time, an exclusive brand new remix of a song:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Trip Out The Rider (remix)

Trip Out The Rider was the lead off track from Paul’s 2009 album, Relive, a work which at long last was seeing him get credit for much of what was happening in the world of indie music, and in particular, his influence of the likes of Franz Ferdinand. It also saw him revisit a few old songs, including Listen To Me (from has time working with Billy Mackenzie and which I featured a couple of weeks back) as well as Round and Round on which he had worked with Malcolm Ross, with the latter including it on one his own solo LPs as far back as 1995.

Paul, in providing the exclusive remix, also let me tell the world that a further remix of Trip Out The Rider had been done by Fred Deakin from Lemon Jelly, the highly innovative UK electronic act, and would be made available as a very exclusive 7″ vinyl single later in 2010….1 November 2010 as it turned out:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Trip Out The Rider (Impotent Fury remix)

And, alongside the track made available via the blog almost seven months previous, was this b-side:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Signals (Impotent Fury remix)

The three tracks have, to this point, been the final single released by Paul Haig. In recent years, he’s gone back to albums only, releasing Kube in 2013 on ROL while 2018 saw him return yet again to Les Disques du Crépuscule for his 13th solo album, The Wood, in which he has pushed the boundaries even further than he did on his Cinematique series, featuring nine pieces of music composed over a three year period, packed with samples, electronica and passages of guitar for which one reviewer wrote:-

“Haig has put together a work that’s in turns provocative, danceable, obscure, immediate and beguilingly rum. What The Wood actually consists of is eight pieces that mostly are dance/trance-orientated with repeated vocal motifs. The concept gives it an added edge and with a little imagination you can feel the eerie peace of the Forest and the skips and dips of the mind. Aside from the concept there is plenty to get one to, cough, ‘cut a rug’. But everything here fits and you have to admire Haig’s craftsmanship in the way it has been put together – producing a musical storybook without words in effect. Forty years into his recording career he’s still breaking new ground.”

The 1980s me might have struggled a bit with The Wood, but my tastes have thankfully expanded. I’ll be saying more about this remarkable album in the fullness of time, but for now thanks for sticking with the past 20 Sunday posts. The spotlight will be turned on someone different, but equally as interesting, from next week.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #153 : JAMES KIRK

The lesser-known songwriter within Orange Juice. He played on all the Postcard singles and the debut album, he composed my favourite 45 by the band and he was unceremoniously sacked by his old friend Edwyn in 1982 when tensions between them got too high.

James Kirk would, shortly after the sacking, release material under the name of Memphis before quitting the business and forging a new profession as a chiropodist. It was completely out of the blue when his debut album You Can Make It If You Boogie appeared in 2003 on the Hamburg-based Marina Records – and true to form, there hasn’t been anything since until his guest contribution to the Port Sulphur album last year.

You Can make It…..is an astonishing album, packed with great tunes and superb playing from James and his band as well as memorable contributions from a number of well-known guest backing vocalists. The songs had clearly been written over an extended period of time, with co-writing credits given to, among others, Alan Horne and Paul Quinn who had, by 2003, been long absent from the music scene, but the crisp and flawless production of Mick Slaven (who also played on the record as well as co-writing two of the songs) ensures the album doesn’t ever sound trapped in any era or decade.

I can never quite make my mind up which is my favourite track on the album. Today, as these words are being typed it is this:-

mp3 : James Kirk – Rehab

It’ll change to something else the next time I play the album.

JC

SO TWEE THEY WERE BEYOND TWEE

The heading of today’s post are words attributed to Everett True, a UK music journalist (among many other things) of some note, when he speaking in 2008 about 80s indie outfit Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike, a band to whom I made passing reference in this posting about Twa Toots, back in November 2017.

I only knew of Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike (from here-on in to be referred to simply as TBRM) back in the day from seeing it in print in one or more of the UK weekly music papers. I may have come across some of their music via John Peel shows, but I can’t be 100% sure. It’s unusual in many ways as I shared a flat for 12 months with someone who had the largest collection of indie singles and albums in its day, much of which I collected initially via cassettes and ultimately in many cases purchasing the vinyl. He didn’t have anything by TBRB in his collection and thus neither did I.

It’s only the best part of 40 years later that you can find a reasonable explanation why folk in Glasgow didn’t own anything, thanks to the info that’s been put there on t’internet.

Turns out TBRM were a duo consisting of siblings Mark and Melanie Litten, forming in 1981 when he was a telephone technician and she was in sixth-form at school (which will make her ages or thereabouts with me!). They lived on the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England, and which is home to occasional TVV contributor, Jules B. (I’m wondering Jules, if you grew up on the island, whether you knew either of the Littens?).

Anyways, TBRM were very much at the forefront of DIY-music, recording their songs in a box-room within their home, issuing them in limited numbers with photocopied sleeves and sending them out via post. It’s an operation which makes the likes of Postcard appear conglomerate and corporate.

This was both sides of the debut 45, released in mid-1982 on their very own Chew Records:-

mp3 : Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike – Invisible Boyfriend
mp3 : Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike – A Splash of Red

Now, I know what you’re thinking……amateurish and coy beyond words….but this is exactly the sort of stuff my flatmate feasted on and I’m sure he would have wanted a copy. Indeed, it may well be that he tried to get his hands on one, but there were only 100 pressed up, the only record ever released by Chew. Its rarity means it is valuable and the one copy on Discogs has an asking price of £700.

A copy will be sitting somewhere in the vaults of a late and much missed DJ, as it was sent to John Peel, who not only played it but had them come to London and record a session which was recorded in July 1982 and broadcast the following month.

The duo would wait until the following year before releasing a follow-up the appropriately and accurately named 5 Songs EP, and included this so twee it is ridiculously beyond twee effort:-

mp3 : Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike – Trixie’s Groove

The EP, which I understand was recorded in Portsmouth,  again had a very limited run and right now, there’s no copies for sale on Discogs!

After this, they got all rock’n’roll lifestyle, thanks to a friendship with Jane Fox of Marine Girls, who joined them for a second John Peel session in August 1983 and later on for a recording session in a professional studio on the Isle of Wight, the fruits of which proved to be a shared flexidisc and a 7” single which sold enough copies to reach the giddy heights of #29 in the UK indie Charts in late 1983:-

mp3 : Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike – Norman and Narcissus

Again, no copies currently for sale……

The following year, TBRM provided two new songs for Feet On The Street, a compilation album featuring singers and bands from the Isle of Wight before a couple more tracks, recorded in the home studio, found their way onto a German compilation cassette in 1986 by which time they had disbanded, with Melanie moving off the island.

Just about everything was gathered up and issued on a vinyl LP ‘The Intimate Sound of Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike’ in 1995 and that was it until 2012, at which point the band reformed!!!

An interview was given to the Penny Black Music website in October 2012 during which Mark Litten revealed he was now performing the songs but with his daughter Jane on vocals and instrumentation (Jane was 15 years old when he gave the interview). He had also worked on the release ‘All Day Long In Bliss’, a new digitial compilation for download on Bandcamp comprising 18 tracks, some of which were demos and others had been previously unavailable, the purchase of which allows the printing of a CD sleeve and a 20-page booklet with liner notes and photos. Click here to purchase.

And that, unless anyone has any comments to add, will likely be the first and last time TRBM appear on T(n)VV.

JC

THE GRINDERMAN SINGLES (5)

The second 45 from to be lifted from Grinderman 2 was another unconventional and far from commercial number. It’s kind of self-deprecating too, what with the protagonoist referring to his girl as a Snake Charmer, Worm Tamer, Serpent Wrangler and Mambo Rider before revealing that she calls him The Loch Ness Monster on account of ‘two big humps and then I’m gone’

It came out on 12″ green vinyl, and in addition to the album version, had a remix and a remake attributed to a collaboration:-

mp3 : Grinderman – Worm Tamer
mp3 : Grinderman – Worm Tamer (A Place To Bury Strangers remix)
mp3 : Grinderman/UNKLE – Hyper Worm Tamer

It reached #52 in the UK singles chart in November 2010. It was one of many tracks which sounded immense and hard when played live on the subsequent tour for the album, as evidenced by this TV appearance:-

The UNKLE collabortion is, however, the real highlight of this release…..

JC