SOME LATER EXAMPLES OF THE BAUHAUS SCHOOL OF ARTISTIC CREATIVITY

I’ve long had the impression that Bauhaus had enjoyed decent enough chart success in the early 80s. I did know that their cover of Ziggy Stardust was by far and away their biggest hit and that their finest moment, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, hadn’t ever charted but has probably collectively sold enough copies over the years to be close to being their best-selling effort.

It was something of a surprise to look things up and discover that only two of their singles ever crackled the Top 40 meaning there was just one other hit beyond the cover. If I hadn’t already seen the answer, guess #1 would have been Kick In the Eye and guess #2 would have been Lagartija Nick, but both of these stalled in the 40s. Turns out it was their farewell single, one that was released in April 1983 and which climbed to #26:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – She’s In Parties (12″version)

Things had gone a bit sour for the band shortly after them enjoying the chart success with Ziggy Stardust. It had helped bring about a growth in audiences and as did the appearance of the band in the horror movie The Hunger, in which the afore-mentioned Bela Lugosi’s Dead featured prominently at the beginning. Oh, and not forgetting that frontman Peter Murphy had also been the face of a rather eye-catching and distinctive advertising campaign for cassette tapes in which his face appeared on billboards all across the UK as well as within a TV ad that sort of paid homage to music videos.

As with any bands, the frontman is crucial to the media focus but just as the attention was focussing on Bauhaus, their singer fell ill and indeed work on what was going to be their fourth album was initially delayed and then embarked upon without him being around much in the studio. What became Burning On The Outside was eventually released in the summer of 1983 by which time the band had more or less called it a day – there certainly wasn’t much done in the way of promotion and yet it still went Top 20 and sold enough copies to qualify for a silver disc (at least 60,000).

She’s In Parties, with its mix of goth, late-70s Bowie, pop and hints of dub, was an excellent choice as lead-off single for the album – as it turned out, given that there were so many underlying problems in 1983, it was the only single. Turns out, it was actually an older number, rescued somewhat from the vaults as they were struggling in the absence of Murphy to deliver enough material for a full record.

Here’s the b-sides from the 12”:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Here’s The Dub (Special Effects by ‘Loonatik & Drinks)
mp3 : Bauhaus – Departure

The former is a remix of the a-side while the latter, which was also on the 7”, was from a John Peel session that had been broadcast the previous year

Worth mentioning that while She’s In Parties was the last commercial single the band would release, the end of the year would see a fan-club only single issued as a thank you to those who had paid a subscription for material only to have been let down by the break-up of the band. It’s a ridiculously rare piece of vinyl with seemingly less than 300 copies known to be in circulation, and as such fetches many hundreds of pounds as and when anyone offers a second-hand sale; but the track was made available as long ago as 1988 when Burning On The Outside was issued as a CD with some bonus tracks and has also appeared on some ‘best of’ or compilation albums:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – The Sanity Assassin

The b-side of the fan club single?? It’s another cover….and one which would be taken to the #1 spot in the UK just a couple of years later by Doctor and The Medics:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Spirit In The Sky

It took until 2013 before this became available, thanks to its inclusion on a 5xCD box set…..and is perhaps evidence that some things are best kept in the vaults!

JC

THE IDEA WAS TO RECREATE A LYNCHIAN DYSTOPIA

Under Canvas Under Wraps was the third single to be released by The Delgados, back in June 1996, on their own Chemikal Underground label. But it was the first to have a promo video made:-

There’s a superb description of the video, courtesy of the band:-

As rare as hen’s teeth, this is the first video The Delgados ever filmed, for the Evening Session favourite “Under Canvas Under Wraps”. Cobbled together with ridiculously little money, the idea was to recreate a Lynchian dystopia and although we tried our best, it came out as us dressing up in a hotel and acting like tits.

Nothing wrong with that though, and trivia fans may want to know that the room Alun and Emma are in was the same room used for the ‘London drug deal’ location in Trainspotting…

I finally got my hands on a second hand copy of the 7″ vinyl and here’s all the tracks for your enjoyment:-

mp3 : The Delgados – Under Canvas Under Wraps
mp3 : The Delgados – Een Telf
mp3 : The Delgados – Bear Cub
mp3 : The Delgados – Strathcona

The last of these is a very short acoustic track, recorded in Alun Woodward‘s living room, and about as lo-fi a song as I’ve ever heard.

Again, I’ll leave it to the band to review the single:-

The first Delgados single to make any kind of impact on national radio, Under Canvas Under Wraps was to become Single Of The Week on Steve Lamacq & Jo Whiley’s Evening Session on Radio 1 which in turn led to the band being offered a high profile support slot with Elastica. The origins of the track are relatively hazy except for the fact that we wanted the song to start at a really breakneck pace and then get progressively faster. Problem was that after we released it as a single, we went into the rehearsal room to practice it and discovered that we were shit at playing it – it survived the early tours (out of necessity) and then got dumped from the sets, never to reappear again until towards the end of our career.

The song was backed by a song called Bearcub, which we felt was a real progression for the band – we were right too as it still stands up now as a really interesting song with what for us then was a rather peculiar arrangement. The other B-Side Een Telf (or Teen Elf if you’re feeling slightly less obtuse) was another shouty number – the type of song we would write and record less and less as the band’s career developed.

Crayon artwork by the talented Mr Woodward…

Pointless piece of trivia: The shouting at the start of the song was recorded by Stewart who basically stood in the middle of the live room and screamed gibberish for 10 seconds. Nothing new there then…..

I do so wish they had reformed at some point…..but they didn’t and they never will.

Pointless piece of trivia: Stewart is now a fully fledged fire fighter, having passed all the tests and qualified some two years ago. I wonder if his colleagues have ever seen the above video?

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Parts 15-17)

If this series was an in-depth look at the entire solo career, this week’s post would have mused on the December 1989 release of the album Jacques, on which Marc Almond offered up a 12-track tribute to Jacques Brel.  The album was recorded at different times over a four-year period and was issued by Rough Trade Records, but no singles were lifted from it. The extended time period for the recording meant that all of The Willing Sinners appeared at one stage or another.

The next 45 appeared in February 1990:-

(15) A Lover Spurned b/w Exotica Rose (February 1990 – #29 in the UK charts)

Emboldened by his chat success the previous year, Marc went for a blend of the accessible pop with the Latin sounds he had been exploring a few years earlier.  The record label obviously had high hopes for the single as they put it in the hands of uber-producer Stephen Street who really did polish it up into a five-minute opus of camp magnificence.  It deserved to be a bigger hit than it was….but it wasn’t helped by the fact that mischievous folk over here were suggesting that Marc was actually singing ‘A lesson learned from a lover’s sperm’

The spoken and bitter vocal in the middle is courtesy of actress Julie T Wallace who is probably best known for the part she played in the acclaimed TV series The Life and Loves of a She-Devil

A few months later, another single was released

(16) The Desperate Hours b/w The Gambler (May 1990 – #45 in the UK charts)

This has long been one of my favourites of the solo singles…..it makes great use of a French Horn, there’s great backing vocals and above else there’s a sensational flamenco guitar solo.

Sadly, the b-side is not a cover of the Kenny Rogers classic, but is instead a rather underwhelming track co-written by Marc and long-time collaborator Billy McGhee

The relative failure of this release cast a shadow over the release of the album….there certainly had been hopes and perhaps even an expectation that Marc would have been a staple of the singles chart over the summer of 1990 and so it was that the album Enchanted kind of sneaked out in August without too much fuss or fanfare. It turned out to be an album on which Annie Hogan didn’t feature thus bringing an end to a collaboration that stretched back to the Marc and the Mambas days the best part of a decade previously.

One more single was lifted from the album but given a special remix treatment in the hope of stirring interest

(17) Waifs and Strays (The Grid Mix) b/w Old Jack’s Charm (November 1990 – #88 in the UK charts)

The Grid was the new project under which Marc’s old sparring partner, Dave Ball, was recording.  You’ll see from the poor chart showing that the hoped for magic in reuniting the pair didn’t materialise….undeservedly in my opinion.

Couple of bonus tracks this week, lifted from the 12″ picture disc of the single that I have so much time for:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Desperate Hours (Flamenco Mix)
mp3 : Marc Almond – The Desperate Hours (Orchestral Version)

Next week will show, once again, that Marc Almond had bouncebackability in abundance.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG(s) : #159 : THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN

From wiki:-

“Never Understand” is the first single from the Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain’s debut album Psychocandy. It was the band’s first release on Blanco y Negro Records and was released through them in February 1985. The song was written by William Reid and Jim Reid, and was produced by The Jesus and Mary Chain. It is considered influential for its use of guitar feedback.

Here’s the tracks from the 12″ version. It includes a rather splendid and sweary cover of a song by Subway Sect, one that I’ve been lucky enough to have heard sung by Vic Godard in recent years:-

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Never Understand
mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Suck
mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – Ambition

I still love SWC’s description of the single as recounted when he pulled together an ICA back in November 2016:-

I don’t know if you’ve ever been chased, or ever felt like you were going to be chased, but one night I was listening to this whilst walking back from Our Price Girls house. It was about midnight and for some reason, this song utterly freaked me out. I think on reflection it was the opening bit, the frenzied squalling wall of screeching feedback sounds exactly like the sort of noise an axe wielding maniac out on a midnight killing spree makes, and frankly that makes its utterly compelling and such a twisted slice of genius.

JC

HE COULD’VE BEEN…..

…a lorry driver, poet, teacher, soldier, lawyer, doctor, writer, ticket collector, revolutionary, inmate or dreamer. But his career of choice was the fool in a six-piece band…and it most certainly was a welcome one as he and his mates brought untold pleasure to fans of new wave music in the late 70s:-

mp3 : Ian Dury & The Blockheads – What A Waste

April 1978 was when this crashed into the charts, giving the gnarled and veteran pub rocker his first real commercial success just shy of his 36th birthday.

The b-side was one of the most popular tracks from the album New Boots and Panties, released some six months previously and credited solely to the singer, albeit most (but not all) The Blockheads played on it. Also worth noting that it was given a shorter title for the single:-

mp3 : Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Wake Up

Oh, and any excuse to offer up this cover, with backing vocals from the main man himself:-

mp3 : Curve (feat Ian Dury) – What A Waste

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (29)

Some of you might argue that today’s offering wasn’t really the debut:-

mp3 : Eels – Novocaine For The Soul

This 1997 single, which went Top 10 in the UK, was the first to be released by Eels, and as such, I reckon it’s a legitimate call to have it in this series.

Mark Everett had been making music for around five years prior to this, writing and recording material under the moniker of E. Indeed there were two albums, the first of which in 1992, had spawned a couple of singles but it was only when Everett hooked up with drummer Butch Norton and bassist Tommy Walter did things really get moving, including a record deal with the newly established Dreamworks Records, a label whose founders were among the highest and mightiest of the entertainment industry – David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenburg and Steven Spielberg.

Novocaine For The Soul is an extraordinary and rather special pop single. It has the most downbeat, almost helpless sounding of lyrics which mention, among other things, living with the undead and being told by your mum that your birth was a mistake set against the most catchy and sing-a-long of tunes. It also has a very unusual and memorable promo video. It was also evidence that we had come a long way in a short period of time in respect of songs no longer being deemed as unsuitable for radio play – OK, the ‘f’ word was blanked out but it was still unusual to hear a lyric in which the protagonist was demanding he be injected with a drug so that his soul would be numbed.

In later years, as his career in the music industry developed, we got to learn a great deal more about Mark Everett, someone who in any walk of life would have to be regarded as a maverick or having a very unconventional view or approach, much of which could be explained by his upbringing as he so candidly wrote about in his incredibly readable memoir, Things The Grandchildren Should Know, which was published back in 2009.

The CD single came with three b-sides, one of which was also lifted from Beautiful Freak, the debut LP by Eels:-

mp3 : Eels – Guest List

The remaining two tracks consisted of an as-live recording of a track from the debut LP and a short but low-fi and straight-to the-point unreleased track (listen to the final two lines just after the 1:30 mark) :-

mp3 : Eels – My Beloved Monster (live from Tennessee)
mp3 : Eels – Fucker

The former would, in due course, become one of the bands best known and most loved compositions, thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack to the movie, Shrek, which itself was a product of a separate part of the Dreamworks stable.

JC

I RECKON THIS IS THE HAPPIEST SONG IN MY ENTIRE COLLECTION

The Pogues felt pretty untouchable back in the late 80s. They had emerged out of the London punk movement – indeed a number of the members first hooking up while attending a Ramones gig in 1977. They fused Celtic connections to the energy of the new wave scene, finding ways to include banjo, mandolin, tin whistle and accordion alongside the traditional vocal/guitar/bass/drums make-up of punk bands. They also found fame and fortune via the then traditional route of extensive gigging, particularly around the pubs and venues of London gaining a reputation for ridiculously energetic and chaotic live shows. They found themselves being quoted by The Clash and Elvis Costello, touring and working with them from an early stage.

I was initially suspicious of them, thinking that it was all a bit gimmicky and was London’s way of trying to somehow feel important in the music scene at a time when the provincial cities were very much to the fore. And then The Pogues played the Students Union at Strathclyde University in June 1985, just a matter of days before I graduated – the gig was in many ways my planned farewell to the building that had been such a big part of my life over the previous four years and without which my knowledge of, and love for, alternative music of the era would not be what it is today.

It was memorable from start to finish…a look at the set list available on-line will give an idea of just how hard, fast, frantic and sweaty it all was, albeit the audience wasn’t familiar with the tracks played from the as yet unreleased Rum, Sodomy & The Lash. I bought the album a few months later and loved it, but felt that something was lacking in terms of what I’d experienced watching them live.

Fast forward three years. And to a song which was the third and final 45 taken from the album If I Should Fall From Grace With God, following on from Xmas perennial Fairytale of New York and the title track.

It reached #11 in 1988, and again it’s a scary thing to realise it is now more than 30 years of age and millions of folk across the UK, never mind the world, will be unaware of it. I reckon this is the happiest song I have in my collection. There are great tunes such as Up, Up and Away by The Beloved which make me smile. But that was and is a hymn to the age of the E and pharmaceutically supported happiness isn’t real euphoria. For that, you need a piece of music that is just plain bonkers and whose instantly recognisable opening notes bring a wry smile with the realisation that the true joys is a matter of seconds away after the comedy whistle.

mp3 : The Pogues – Fiesta

Wiki advises that it was written by the band’s Jem Finer and Shane McGowan, but with additional credits now given to Edmund Kotscher and Rudi Lindt as the refrain seemingly is similar to one of their compositions, and a hit in the USA back in 1957 :-

mp3 : Will Glahe and His Orchestra – Liechensteiner Polka

Just ever so slightly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Polka on TVV….who’d ever have thought it????

JC

GO ON……YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO

At the risk of sounding like a needle which is stuck in the groove of a particularly well-loved but well-worn 45, one of the most exciting things to have happened to me in recent years is becoming part of the Simply Thrilled collective.

The launch night was something special, but that was surpassed by the two subsequent events we’ve run with guest DJs, firstly Aidan Moffat & Noj and then Stuart Braithwaite as part of the official after-show party for The Twilight Sad at which we raised £1800 for the Scott Hutchison Fund.

We’ve just announced details of our next night. No guest DJs, just hard work and honest endeavours from the four of us (myself, Carlo, Shug and Robert) who will put together the music to match the graphics and visuals from our IT genius, Ash.

It’s on Friday 5 July and the venue will once again be The Admiral Bar in Glasgow.

There might still be some early-bird reduced tickets available – £4 plus 40p booking fee – which is a real bargain for what will be a memorable night.  Even the full price tickets at £5 plus 50p booking fee will be more than worth it for five hours of consistently great music that you can shake one or more of your body parts to without looking or feeling ridiculous.

Here’s the link to make your purchases – https://www.wegottickets.com/event/468991

In the meantime, here’s an hour(ish)-long mix of the sort of stuff you might hear on the night, complete with occasional interjection of my exclusive Radio 2 style jingle, courtesy of my great friend Alison Eales of Butcher Boy fame:-

mp3 : Various – Sampling Simply Thrilled

Playlist

Top of the Pops – The Rezillos
Sparky’s Dream – Teenage Fanclub
The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit
Stop The Rain – Suede Crocodiles
I Could Be Happy – Altered Images
Michael – Franz Ferdinand
I Only Want To Be With You – The Tourists
Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics
I’m Free – Soup Dragons
I Travel – Simple Minds
The Rattler – Goodbye Mr MacKenzie
Oblivious – Aztec Camera
Happy Like Yesterday – Groovy Little Numbers
A Girl Like You – Edwyn Collins
Big Rock Candy Mountain – The Motorcycle Boy
Party Fears Two – Associates
Rocks – Primal Scream
April Skies – Jesus and Mary Chain

JC

 

TELEVISION, THE FORMER DRUG OF THE NATION

I’ve a few things sitting in the cupboard of vinyl or shelves of CDs that were purchased on the back of seeing a singer or band perform on the telly.

It’s quite remarkable nowadays how the growth of media platforms which has made so much music available instantaneously, or at worst via just a few clicks of arrows on websites, has more or less killed off regular music programming. It’s a situation I feel quite saddened by given that and as someone who thought shows such as Top of The Pops, Whistle Test and The Tube, along with a myriad of lesser-known and short-lived programmes of a similar nature, were essential viewing. Indeed, such was the influence of the medium that I’ve amassed a fair number of pieces of vinyl and plastic which were purchased purely on the basis of being excited by a performance on the gogglebox.

One such example dates back to 1996. The show was called The White Room which went out fairly late on in the evening on Channel 4, hosted by Mark Radcliffe. It was a show which specialised in attracting one or more big-name acts as headliners – it managed for instance to get Prince to give a very rare UK TV performance, while David Bowie was another who graced the studio at one point – while also giving space and time to up and coming acts.  It ran for four short series in the mid 90s and unsurprisingly given the period in history, there were appearances by Britpop or associated acts.

Here’s a lot I’d no idea of before they popped up on the telly.

You’ll see that they were a huge act in terms of numbers – combining the classic pop line-up with a lively and energetic string section. My first thought was that they were a superb throwback to some of the great OTT 80s pop acts such as ABC or perhaps it was a reminder of the joys of catching Marc & The Mambas all over again. As it turns out, they had actually been kicking around for a fair bit, having formed in the early 90s with their first releases dating back to 1993.  In due course, I did pick up one of the singles in a bargain bin a few weeks later:-

mp3 : My Life Story – Sparkle

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Parts 11-14)

As mentioned last week, the poor sales of Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters led to Virgin Records dropping Marc Almond.  The aftermath also saw an end to The Willing Sinners as Martin McCarrick left to join Siouxsie and the Banshees but the good news was that both Annie Hogan, Steve Humphries and Billy McGee continued to work with Marc but now calling themselves La Magia.

It was Parlophone Records who decided to take a punt on Marc rediscovering a degree of success and they must have been fairly pleased with the outcome as the album, The Stars We Are, released in September 1988, turned out to be the best sellling of the solo years and one of its tracks, in a re-recorded form, provided a #1 single.

(11) Tears Run Rings b/w Everything I Wanted Love To Be (September 1988 – #26 in the UK charts)

(12) Bitter Sweet b/w King of The Fools (October 1988 – #40 in the UK charts)

(13) Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart (with Gene Pitney) (January 1989 – #1 in the UK charts)

(14) Only The Moment b/w Real Evil (April 1989 – #45 in the UK charts)

The Stars We Are was a return to mainstream form after the darkness of the previous works. Twenty-two different musicians are credited and that doesn’t include Gene Pitney as his work with Marc came after the album had been released.  There’s loads of strings, horns and soaring vocals and melodies.  Parlophone pushed the boat out on the promotional front and Marc responded positively with a number of televsion appearances to boost sales of Tears Run Rings, the lead off single.

There was a bit of disappointment that the follow-up 45, Bitter Sweet, stalled somewhat, but that was soon forgotten as January 1989 saw Marc return to the top of the charts again with his take of a song that had been a #5 hit in the UK for Gene Pitney back in 1967.  It had originally been recorded as a solo take for the album, but Gene had been so impressed with it that he contacted Marc’s management and suggested they have a go at it as a duet.  The single spent four weeks at the top of the charts….and its b-side was the album version:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart

I don’t think it had originally been intended to go with a fourth single from the album, but as ever, record companies are keen to cash in on any unexpected success and thus Only The Moment was issued a few months later.

The b-sides to all these particular singles are very much in keeping with the more pop-orientated sound that Marc was pursuing at the time…..and indeed King of The Fools is one of those tracks that in a less fruitful period, might have actually made for an A-side, albeit one that would likely have stalled outside the Top 40 as it wasn’t quite distinctive enough.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #158 : JESSE GARON & THE DESPERADOES

Adapted from wiki:-

Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes were a Scottish band formed from around, and within, the Edinburgh indie pop scene of the mid-1980s. The band had a distinctive guitar-jangle sound with male and female vocals. The band took their name from Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley.

The original members of the band were Andrew Tully (guitars/vocals), Angus McPake (bass guitar), Fran Schoppler (vocals), Margarita Vasquez-Ponte (drums), Kevin McMahon (guitars), and Stuart Clarke (guitar). Tully, Webster and Vasquez-Ponte were also members of Rote Kapelle, a band that was active from 1985–1988.

This initial line-up recorded the first two singles, “Splashing Along” and “The Rain Fell Down” on Narodnik Records. With the departure of McMahon and Clarke, Bruce Hopkins and John Robb were drafted in for third single, the Billy the Whizz EP; these being replaced on a more permanent basis by Michael Kerr (of Meat Whiplash).

Next release was a flexi-disc featuring the track “Hank Williams Is Dead” along with a track by The Fizzbombs, a side-project of Margarita and Angus, along with Ann Donald of The Shop Assistants. Moving to Velocity Records, the band released two more well-received singles, “The Adam Faith Experience” and “You’ll Never Be That Young Again”, followed by first album, A Cabinet of Curiosities, which collected the tracks released to date.

In 1989, Michael Kerr left to join The Darling Buds, and the rest of the band returned in 1990 with single “Grand Hotel “, a reference to the IRA bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel, the venue for the Conservative Party conference. Andrew Tully described this as a “fuck Thatcher and fuck the IRA for not killing her when they had the chance” song. The album Nixon followed, and in October 1990, they released their final single, the Hold Me Now EP.

Here’e the rather wonderful jangly debut 45 (which makes a few references to my home city):-

mp3 : Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes – Splashing Along

And here’s a later 45 with the slightly different line-up:-

mp3 : Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes – The Adam Faith Experience

The latter offers up a more polished track (relatively speaking!!), but I’m more fond of the debut.

JC

ALL OVER THE WORLD HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS TAKE TO THE ROPES AND TURN THEM SLOW

I was very very very pleasantly surprised with the positive responses to a previous posting, back in June 2017, on a hit single for the ex-manager of the Sex Pistols.

The interesting thing to note is that, in the UK at least, Buffalo Gals wasn’t the biggest hit for Malcolm McLaren – that accolade was taken by Double Dutch, released in July 1983 (some sources claim that it was the follow-up 45 to Buffalo Gals, but there was a minor hit with Soweto (#32) in February 1983.

Double Dutch was one of those tracks which seemed to hang around for ages – it actually spent six successive weeks in the Top 10, ensuring it was on heavy rotation on daytime radio and that the promo video (or at least snippets of it) got aired every other week on Top of the Pops. It actually turns out that there was an actual performance in the TOTP studio on one occasion – something I can’t recall seeing at the time

It certainly did the trick as it climbed to #3 the following week – its peak position in the charts (it was held off the #1 spot by Paul Young and the #2 spot by Freez)

Wiki informs that Double Dutch is all about the skipping game of the same game, one which really took off as a competitive sport in the 70s in the New York area and became associated strongly with hip hop culture as it was gaining momentum beyond the black ghettoes. The lyrics to the Malcolm McLaren single make mention of a number of NYC Double Dutch teams by name, most notably the Ebonettes which is used as a something of a chant within the chorus and who were also credited as being the co-vocalists.

It turns out the Malc wasn’t just appropriating NYC street culture to bag himself millions of record sales. The Boyoyo Boys, from South Africa, took legal action about the similarity with the song 3 Mabone. The info within the 45 claimed the music was ‘traditional’ but had been arranged by McLaren and uber-producer Trevor Horn.

There was seemingly a lengthy legal battle, eventually settled out of court, with an undisclosed payment made to the South African copyright holders but Malc and Trev being able to retain their songwriting credits.

Judge for yourself:-

mp3 : Malcolm McLaren & The Ebonettes – Double Dutch
mp3 : Lulu Masilela & The Boyoyo Boys – 3 Mabone

JC

THE MOST SUBVERSIVE OF POP HITS

From wiki:-

Michael Caine is a song by British band Madness, released on 30 January 1984 as the first single from their album Keep Moving. The song was written by Carl (Cathal) Smyth and Daniel Woodgate, and features Smyth on lead vocals in place of usual Madness vocalist Suggs. Michael Caine spent eight weeks on the British chart, peaking at number 11.

It is named after English actor Michael Caine and includes his vocal samples, recorded specifically for this song. The song’s hook, a repetition of Caine introducing himself by name, recalls his role in the 1960s spy film The Ipcress File, in which his character, Harry Palmer, repeats his name while trying to stay sane under torture.

It was only after it became a hit, having enjoyed extensive radio exposure and all the rest of it, did the true meaning of the song come out, as explained years later in a biography of the band:-

First impressions suggested this laconic song was an offbeat tribute to a very British institution from lines like ‘All I wanted was a word or photograph to keep at home,’ to the opening soundbite ‘My name is Michael Caine’ – captured by sending a sound engineer down to a private members club frequented by the actor….

….Cathal revealed an altogether more serious subtext behind the lyrics. “(It) is about the informers in Ireland and the way the government were using them to put people in interment camps, in prison – but I didn’t want to make that (too) obvious. I wanted the atmosphere of distrust and I threw Michael Caine in as a red herring to confuse people. His name seemed right. I had a general admiration for Michael Caine and ‘Get Carter’ and ‘The Ipcress File’ had the sort of atmosphere I wanted to create – we even used some of his phrases. Looking back to ‘Give Ireland Back to The Irish’ by Paul McCartney, that never got played. You’ve got to be careful what you say.”

mp3 : Madness – Michael Caine

I hadn’t actually realised this to be the case until a few years ago when I came across a reference to the song in book about 2-Tone in which it was pointed out just how political all the band who were on, or were associated with that label/movement, truly were.

Here’s the promo:-

JC

A TVV DEBUT FOR A FAMOUS SCOTTISH MUSICIAN

I’m not a fan of The Waterboys which is why they haven’t ever appeared on these pages, nor indeed the pages of the old blog. The anthemic folk/pop combo, fronted by Mike Scott enjoyed massive success at the tail end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s. Their biggest hit was The Whole of The Moon, which had been a moderate hit on initial release in 1985 but went all the way to #2 in 1991 when it was reissued to support a Greatest Hits package. It’s a song I never took to and at this late stage in my life never will.

My better half was a huge fan of the band at the time when we first hooked up, and so I was exposed a fair bit to 1988’s Fishermen’s Blues, but it always felt to me like the sort of record that would be enjoyed by a tourist (most likely from North America) who wanted something a little bit Celtic (with a hard ‘C’) to remind him of a holiday round these parts.

But, thanks to the Big Gold Dreams box set. Mike Scott is getting to feature after all this time:-

mp3 : Another Pretty Face – All The Boys Love Carrie

This 7″ single dates from May 1979. It’s not one that I can recall from the era. It was issued on New Pleasures, one of just 45s by the Edinburgh-based label. In reality, it was set up by the band which consisted of John Caldwell, Grigg (real name Ian Greig) and Jim Geddes, in addition to the afore-mentioned Mike Scott.

The BGD booklet states:-

Before Mike Scott embraced widescreen Celtic twilight, the Edinburgh-born, Ayr-sired wunderkind and cohorts released this masterful homage to unobtainable women. Having had a musical epiphany by way of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and Hank Williams at an early age, Scott produced a fanzine before forming Another Pretty Face.

All The Boys Love Carrie’s primitive but still epic urgency saw it win NME ‘Single of The Week’. The band released three more singles and a cassette album I’m Sorry That I Beat You I’m Sorry That I Screamed But For A Moment There I Really Lost Control on Scott’s Chicken Jazz label before the stars, the moon and the sea beckoned.

It actually is a decent enough sounding single for its era. Not that polished but far from amateurish….and displays signs of catchiness in the singing and playing. It’s all done and dusted in two-and-a-half minutes and I think you’ll like it.

I’ve tracked down the b-side:-

mp3 : Another Pretty Face – That’s Not Enough

Reminded me a bit of a rough n ready Undertones.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #212 : THE TWILIGHT SAD (2)

I hadn’t quite appreciated until I went back to read over the previous time The Twilight Sad had featured, that the that the ICA series had been running for such a long time. They were #3, posted on 9 September 2014, following on the back of The Smiths and the solo career of Edwyn Collins. The rush to complete that particular ICA was that I wanted to pull together something before the fourth album hit the shops as to wait would likely have made it an impossible task. In the end, I went with four songs from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters (2007), four from Forget The Night Ahead (2009) and two from No One Can Ever Know (2012)

Since then the band has released two more albums Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (2014) and It Won/t Be Like This All the Time (2019), both of which have taken the group to even higher levels of achievement and enjoyment.

Nobody…..was an album which could very well have been their farewell to the music industry. Andy McFarlane, the guitarist and main music writer, stated on its release that the aim was to capture all the different forms the music has taken over the years, from “full on noise/feedback, to a sparse, synth led sound, to a stripped back set up with just keys, drum machine and guitar, to playing with an orchestra, and to just an acoustic with vocal.” It certainly achieved that, but the interviews that accompanied the album’s release caught a band seemingly unsure of themselves, feeling as if they had run out of ideas and really worried about how fans and critics alike would respond. The very title of the album captured the dilemma they seemed to be in.

Despite the band’s fears, there was near universal acclaim, and leading the plaudits was none other than Robert Smith who ended up covering one of the tracks from the album and making it available as a b-side to 7” single by The Twilight Sad. He then followed it up by offering the band the opportunity to be the supporting act for The Cure on their May/June 2016 North American tour, which included three nights at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York and to then fulfil the same role on the October–December 2016 European tour, which included three nights at London’s Wembley Arena as well as dates in Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris.

I was quite fearful when the news of the support slot was revealed – history records that many names bigger than The Twilight Sad have taken on the task of opening up arena/stadium tours and freezing with fear when the enormity of the task hit home. I ended up one evening in the company of someone who is highly respected as a performer and entrepreneur in the Scottish music industry, who told me I had nothing to worry about. It was his view, and there were few better qualified than him to judge things, that The Twilight Sad made music that would easily fill the arenas and in such a way that would connect wonderfully with the sort of fan base that The Cure were able to command. He felt they would relish it but it would leave them exhausted and again unsure of what to do next….but against that, it would at long last bring them the financial rewards that were long overdue.

Those predictions were uncannily accurate. There were no Scottish dates on The Cure’s European tour and so fans awaited the announcement of some sort of one-off headlining gig at the end of 2016 or early 2017, but it never came. Lead singer James Graham went off and did some side projects, all the while remaining coy about the future of his main band, albeit he did say songs were being worked on.

There was no discernible activity in 2017 and then a bit of a bombshell in January 2018 with the news that drummer Mark Devine was leaving – this meant that only James and Andy were now left from the original four-piece that had started out back in 2003. The band announced an immediate replacement and stated that work was well underway on a new album which would also be coming out on a new label as they were leaving Brighton-based Fat Cat Records after a ten-year association.

May 2018 saw the band play at the Primavera Festival in Barcelona, their first gig in 18 months since the end of the tour with The Cure. The following month saw them play this astonishing set at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds as a warm up to more Cure-linked activities in London.  July saw the announcement of them signing to Mogwai’s label Rock Action Records and the release of a new song “I/m Not Here [missing face]”, for streaming and as a digital download, together with dates in North America and Europe taking place towards the end of the year. In September 2018, just before the North America/Europe tour, it was announced that the fifth album would be called It Won/t Be Like This All the Time and would see light of day on 18 January 2019, before which two more tracks would be made available for purchase/download/streaming.

I’ll cut to the chase…..the latest album is an absolute knockout and has attracted praise from all quarters. It’s been called timeless and full of high-quality songs, but Paul Carr at Popmatters nailed it better than anyone:-

“The squalling, shoegaze guitars of Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, the brooding electronics of No One Can Ever Know, [and] the raw intimacy of Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave are all present but they are melded with fresh, nuanced sonic textures and bright, emphatic post-punk synths all injected with more direct pop hooks and melodies. What’s left is an album informed by all of their musical experiences and as such works as their definitive artistic statement.”

I haven’t stopped listening to the new album since I picked it up at the launch show at Mono in Glasgow were I was privileged to hear Andy and James perform a spine-tingling stripped-down acoustic set of new and old material. I had the luck of getting to hear the songs played by the full band at two Glasgow shows – a warm-up gig at King Tut’s and then the sell-out show before a devoted audience at Glasgow Barrowlands, after which I had the unforgettable honour of being part of the Simply Thrilled gang who hosted the official post-gig after show, where I’ll be played a set as part of the warm up for none other than our guest DJ Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai.

Talk about surreal.

All of which leads me, finally, to a second ICA for The Twilight Sad. I never thought a second volume would better the first, especially as that had contained some of their oldest and most enduring songs from the first two albums. But trust me on this dear readers, volume two utterly transcends it.

SIDE A

1. There’s A Girl In The Corner – from Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (2014)

The band played a few gigs in 2014 before the release of the album and this was very much to the fore in the sets. It was an obvious tour de force, mixing that sparse synth sound of later albums with the pounding drums and guitars of the earlier material as had been promised by Andy McFarlane. This was the one which Robert Smith couldn’t wait to get his hand on, and no wonder.

2. Don’t Move – from No One Can Ever Know (2012)

It was a really tough call having only two songs from the 2012 album make it on to the first ICA but that all came down to me trying desperately hard to make it a ‘proper’ album which maintained a flow throughout, with the consequence that there was less ‘natural’ space for the more keyboard driven songs. There’s no such issues with this ICA as N/O/C/E/K really set down the template for the direction the band would take into the studio in later years and they link well to the 2014 and 2019 LPs.

I’m happy to admit that Don’t Move was a track I kind of missed when the album was initially released, slotted as it was into the middle of the running order and not quite as immediate or mind-blowing as those which preceded or followed it, but I soon realised, from hearing it live, that it was one of the real stand-outs.

3. Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting – from It Won/t Be Like This All the Time (2019)

This was the first of what turned out to be three unreleased songs which were aired at the Brudenell Social Club gig and it was immediately clear that the new material was going to be quite sensational. The band have always had the habit of giving songs obscure or strange working titles which are kept even after they’ve gone beyond the demo stage. The lyrics have nothing to do with the American actor, nor have they anything to do with photography. This loud, bombastic tune works amazingly well as a stripped back acoustic tune, as evidenced when it was played that way at the album launch show. I’ve a feeling the band, as they have done with previous albums, will release the unplugged versions.

4. Alphabet (alternative version) – from N/O/C/E/K Tour EP (2012)

As mentioned above, The Twilight Sad have a history of later releasing alternative versions of songs. Alphabet is the disturbing and haunting opener on No One Can Ever Know and becomes even more so on this unplugged version which was made available for download (along with five other tracks) from the band’s website and as a limited edition CD for sale at shows. If you do ever see any live shows billed as not being by the full band, it will almost certainly mean its James on vocals and Andy on acoustic guitar…..and if you go along and watch any such shows, this is the sort of thing you will be lucky enough to hear.

Worth mentioning that this slowed-down version of Alphabet was the inspiration for Bill Wells & Aiden Moffat doing a cover version for one side of a 7” single for Record Store Day 2013, with The Twilight Sad offering their take of Bill and Aiden’s If You Keep Me In Your Heart on the reverse.

5. Vtr – from It Won/t Be Like This All the Time (2019)

In the fullness of time, this might very well become the song which most defines 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.

SIDE B

1. The Wrong Car – single (2010)

I’ll play this near eight-minute epic and wonder to myself how it didn’t make it onto the previous ICA. It’s actually down to the fact that the first ICA was packed with equally epic numbers and there was just no room. The Wrong Car was recorded at the Chem 19, the studio just outside of Glasgow which is owned and run by Chemikal Underground and Paul Savage from the Delgados worked alongside Andy and then drummer Mark on the production side of things. It was the most ambitious thing they had done up to that point and they haven’t quite explored similar territory since. In most instances, it would be a fair bet to say that the best part of a decade on The Twilight Sad won’t ever make another song quite like The Wrong Car…..but this is a band who never stand still and never fail to surprise in the most pleasant of ways.

2. I/m Not Here (missing face) – from It Won/t Be Like This All the Time (2019)

This was the track chosen to showcase all of the new material, being released as a digital download last July. If this had been the 80s or 90s, there is no question in my mind that this, on vinyl or CD, would have flown out of the shops and gotten the band into the mainstream charts and led to appearances on shows such as Top of The Pops. Even a decade or so ago, a tune as anthemic and danceable as this would have made been all over daytime radio. Having said that, the thought of The Twilight Sad having to play the game in the same way that chart bands have to would be a huge risk in terms of them keeping going – there’s just a feeling that James in particular would be uncomfortable with such attention. As things stand, he and his mates can do things as they feel suits their continued development best, and this includes taking time off to do the side projects or accepting the opportunities to do the mega gigs as guests in and around their own much smaller headlining tours. Sometimes it’s just better that way.

3. I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want
4. It Was Never The Same (both from Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (2014)

These songs are back-to-back on the 2014 album and it’s one of those rare occasions when I can’t help but always wanting to hear the latter immediately after hearing The former. They were, incidentally, the two songs given physical releases as singles by Fat Cat Records.

I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want is another track which I imagine had Robert Smith nodding his head in appreciation recalling the many times when he could write and record perfect indie-rock music. Fat Cat Records elected to issue this as limited edition picture disc which was great for those of us who were happy to snap up every release on the day of issue, but in the hands of major label, and with the marketing push they are more than capable of delivering, I reckon this could have been the breakthrough hit…..

The latter is a wonderful example of the mellower slower side to the band. It’s a beautiful and haunting piece of music, one which enables James to display his vocal abilities. The band played a Scottish tour of smallish venues at the end of 2014 and myself and Aldo got ourselves along to the Tolbooth in Stirling (at which the wonderful Adam Stafford was supporting). We arrived early and as we made our way past the venue on our way to a nearby pub, we could hear, through an open window, the band sound checking with a really haunting take on It Was Never The Same. It was one of those spine-tingling moments that won’t ever be forgotten.

5. Videograms (Weatherall mix)

Andrew Weatherall first worked with The Twilight Sad on No One Can Ever Know, receiving the very strange credit of ‘anti-producer’ on the album. There is no doubt that his contribution to that particular record was immense, helping to guide the band into making the sort of sounds which enabled critics to mention the likes of Public Image, Magazine, Can, Nine Inch Nails, Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire and The Cure in the accompanying reviews.

In advance of the release of the new album, The Twilight Sad (or more precisely, Rock Action Records) revealed that the producer had given his attention to Videograms, a track that had already been made available on vinyl as a one-sided 10” single. The Weatherall mix was only available as a download….it was wonderfully reviewed by Adam over in the Bagging Area late last year:-

Unless he sneaks something out between today and New Year’s Eve this looks like being the final Andrew Weatherall remix and release of 2018, a seven minute re-working of Scottish post-punkers The Twilight Sad. Weatherall adds that metronomic drum machine and sends the whole thing through an FX box called ‘Early/Mid 80s New Order’. A friend aptly described this as Widescreen Goth. I just hope there will be a proper 12″ release because it’s a fine example of the art of the remix (you can buy it as a download but somehow that’s not quite enough).

Sadly, this seven plus minutes of magnificence has still only been made available as a download, but given that The Twilight Sad have a very happy habit of occasionally offering up remix albums a while after the original LP has been released, then I’m not giving up hope entirely.

I know this has been something of a long read, and prrhaps it has just been a bit too much for some of you.  But as far as I’m concerned, The Twilight Sad are probably the most important band out there just now and so there’s no apologies on offer……

And don’t rule out a volume 3 at some point in the future – possibly full of remixes!!

JC