A REVIEW FROM 20 YEARS AGO (3)

#3 : 13 by BLUR (Pitchfork, 23 March 1999 – Brent DiCrescenzo)

Six albums into their envious career, Blur have finally found a sound to match their name. I’m sure the name initially came from the donut- stuffed mouth of Virgin A&R; reps who feared selling a band called “Seymour” to the Teens UK. “Blur” fits the mold of the monosyllabic, schwa- voweled noun system of Brit-rock nomenclature– Pulp, Bush, Lush, Suede. Now, after nearly a decade, Blur have grown comfortable with their image and talents. From now on, it’s their mission to make ears and speakers uncomfortable. With producer William Orbit spreading gobs of digital fuzz, guitar wash, and deep- space bleeps in heavy strokes with William De Kooning- esque glee, the tracks on 13 bounce between studio walls, planets, and effects pedals until slowly unraveling and releasing with mercurian flashes and cherubic keyboard. It all… well… blurs.

The more Guitar God status fans and critics throw on Graham Coxon, the more Coxon attempts to vigorously destroy such notions with feedback, drilling, and controlled crust, which in turn just makes the fans and critics swoon even more. From the wandering melodies that twang and fall apart in “Tender” to the tongue- in- cheek metal- solo, vacuum theremin freakout, and surf- boogie ending in “Bugman,” to the crescendoing strums of “1992,” Coxon drops creative brain- blowers all over 13. Yet, the album sounds nothing like the band’s last self- titled LP. These days, Coxon’s guitars are manipulated to sound unlike guitars. Plus, layers of organs and loops balance out the intoxicating mix. But it’s Orbit’s UFO studio tricks make 13 a much more cohesive and consistant record than the eponymous LP.

Despite Graham Coxon’s fingerprints, 13 is Damon Albarn’s record from start to finish. From the opening epic, “Tender,” in which Albarn delivers the line “Love’s the greatest thing that we have” with a sarcastic croon after admiting that his heart screwed up his life, to the beautiful, stripped closer, “No Distance Left to Run,” in which he sighs with resignation, “It’s over/ You don’t need to tell me/ I hope you’re with someone who makes you feel safe in your sleep,” Albarn opens his veins over 13’s DAT tapes. Sort of. On “Swamp Song,” though, he goes all Iggy Pop, grabbing the mic with sass and pose. And “B.L.U.R.E.M.I.” could be a Brainiac song, the closest tune here to attaining the backlashed “Whoo-Hoo!”

Despite all the knob- twiddling and pedal- kicking, 13 contains several surprisingly subtle songs. “Trim Tramm” bobs along to quiet chords before kicking in the jets, and “Mellow Song” lets dainty moon- cocktail piano lines and hollow chimes swirl around lovely acoustic plucking. Each song is unique, yet fits perfectly into the overall hungover, psychedelic, 2001 mood. Once again, Blur has kept one step ahead of expectations (well, okay, they didn’t with The Great Escape, but that was still a great record) and continued to impress. In a way, Blur is one of the last big old- school “album” bands, a band more concerned with their entire career than radio singles, more concerned with “album” than “song.” The Beatles made a dozen albums in the ’60s and continually progressed. The reason why is simple: when a band is really, really good, they consistently make good records. Duh.

JC writes:-

I’ve always had more than a soft spot for Blur. I liked the baggy-era beginnings but there was nothing at the time that really indicated they would not only be able to stand out from the crowd but enjoy a near 30-year career that would see them sell out stadiums in the UK and arenas in many other places. I fell for them big time in the run-up to and release of the sophomore album, Modern Life Is Rubbish before Parklife and The Great Escape turned them into massive stars, achieving what had long seemed impossible with gaggles of screaming teenybop fans at gigs alongside chin-stroking musos and those of us who just wanted to do whatever dance was appropriate. I stuck by them and was rewarded in 1997 with the self-titled fifth album, one which I feel contains or leads to many of their best moments thanks to the remixes which sneaked out under the cover of the Japanese-only release Bustin’ and Dronin’ the following year.

William Orbit had contributed four of the nine remixes and this, as much as his work with others, led to him being taken on to work on what would become 13, recorded from June to October 1998 in London and Reykjavík.

I think it’s fair to say that 13 was unlike any of the band’s previous efforts but in this instance it proved to be an immediate strength; indeed the diversity of songs and sounds on offer make it an album which is still a joy to listen to, not burdened down by familiarity. I contrast it with Parklife, another excellent record with many diverse songs and sounds but one I can’t but help associate with the time and place of its release and success and the fact that Blur gigs, out of the blue, became gigantic sing-alongs.

In terms of the songs, I really don’t have much to add to what Brent DiCresenzo said all those years ago when he awarded the album a 9.1 rating. There are beautiful and heart-felt ballads, there are tracks which would be nigh-on impossible to reproduce in the live setting and there’s also the most wonderful and radio friendly pop-song on which Graham Coxon took centre stage, assisted ably on backing vocals and harmonies by Damon Albarn:-

mp3 : Blur – Coffee and TV

In later years, it would be revealed that 13 was made at a time of real stress for the band:-

William Orbit – “There was a battle between Damon’s more experimental direction, and Graham’s punk one, and Graham prevailed. If that tension had been growing on previous LPs, it came to a head here”

Dave Rowntree – “Things were starting to fall apart between the four of us; It was quite a sad process making it. People were not turning up to the sessions, or turning up drunk, being abusive and storming off.”

Alex James – “I had songs; I played them to William. He liked them. But I was sulking. I didn’t play them to the others… Now I know how George Harrison felt.”

Graham Coxon – “I was really out there around 13, which made for some pretty great noise but I was probably a bit of a crap to be around.”

Coxon is bang on the money:-

mp3 : Blur – B.L.U.R.E.M.I
mp3 : Blur – Trimm Trabb

13, in summary, is a noisy, abstract and rather experimental album, one which challenged everyone, long-time fans and casual listeners alike. Twenty years on, it’s the album I would contend has proven to be their masterpiece – not the one that most remember above all others, but the one which really does stand repeated listens.

JC

THE GRINDERMAN SINGLES (6)

My unwillingness to get involved in the shenanigans around Record Store Day means that this is the only physical copy of a Grinderman single not in the collection. There are copies available via Discogs, but it’s daft money that’s being asked for.

Palaces of Montezuma was one of the softer tracks on Grinderman 2, which had been released in September 2010. The band announced, in early 2011, that it would be issued, with new mixes, as a digital download and then as a ‘limited to 1000 copies’ 12″ release as part of Record Store Day on 16 April 2011.

It turned out there were two new mixes added in along with the album version and a remix of a further track from Grinderman 2:-

mp3 : Grinderman – Palaces of Montezuma (Cenzo mix)
mp3 : Grinderman – Palaces of Montezuma (Barry Adamson remix)
mp3 : Grinderman – Palaces of Montezuma (album mix)
mp3 : Grinderman – When My Baby Comes (Cat’s Eyes remix)

The Barry Adamson remix is the one that does it for me on this occasion. It was great to see how he and Nick Cave could still work so well together after so many years.

The remix of When My Baby Comes is of real interest.

Cat’s Eyes are a duo comprising Faris Badwan, lead vocalist with The Horrors, and Rachel Zeffira, a Canadian-born Canadian soprano, composer and multi-instrumentalist. The duo are quite unconventional but have gained ever-increasing critical acclaim in recent years, culminating in awards for their film score for the 2014 art-house release The Duke of Burgundy.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Part 7)

In June 1986, Marc Almond, backed as usual by his Willing Sinners released a seven-track EP consisting entirely of cover versions. The lead track, which had originally been recorded in the mid 70s by Cher, having been penned by Nino Tempo, April Stephens and Phil Spector, was also released as a stand-alone 7″ single:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – A Woman’s Story

The full title of the EP was A Woman’s Story (Some Songs To Take To The Tomb – Compilation One). Sadly, Compilation Two was never released.

The single reached #41 in the charts. I haven’t heard the original, but going by Marc’s vocal delivery, I’m guessing it won’t be too dissimilar.  If it had been a hit, it would be a karaoke klassik…..

The b-side of the single was also taken from the EP and it’s one originally written and recorded by Lee Hazelwood:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – For One Moment

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #156 : THE JASMINE MINKS

It’s just over four years since the only previous occasion The Jasmine Minks featured – it was a reasonably comprehensive feature as part of the look at the tracks on CD86…..I’ll just cu’n’paste from it:-

One of the best tracks on CD86 is Cut Me Deep by The Jasmine Minks. However, it is a bit of a cheat that it is included as the song wasn’t released until 1988 as a track on Another Age, an LP that came out on Creation Records which was of course a central part of the C86 movement.

By this point in time, the band – originally from Aberdeen – had been with the label for four years and in an effort to become pop stars had relocated to London. Sadly, they were just one of many talented bands from the era who never made the breakthrough and they disbanded before the decade was over, suffering in part from Alan McGhee‘s preoccupation with the Jesus and Mary Chain which meant all the other bands on his roster took a seat away at the very back of the room.

The lead vocal on Cut Me Deep is courtesy of Jim Shepherd who had only taken on that role on the departure in 1986 of one of the other founder-members of the band Adam Sanderson. It was Sanderson who sang on what turned out to be the band’s best-selling single, Cold Heart, released in April 1986 and also available on their self-titled debut LP released a couple of months later.

The Jasmine Minks reunited in 2000, releasing the album Veritas, before the band signed to McGee’s Poptones label for the release of Popartglory (2001) and then after another lengthy hiatus, 4 track EP, Poppy White, was released on the Oatcake Records label in 2012 the same year they appeared at the 2012 Indietracks festival in the original 1984 lineup.

In 2014, the band celebrated their 30th anniversary with the release of Cut Me Deep – The Anthology 1984 – 2014 with 48 tracks spread over 2 x CDs.

2019 update

Unsurprisingly, The Jasmine Minks are one of the 115 acts to be include on the recently issued Big Gold Dreams boxset, courtesy of Cherry Red Record. The words ‘a frenetic roar of intent’ were used to describe this, their 1984 debut on Creation Records:-

mp3 : The Jasmine Minks – Think!

I was waiting on either Edwyn Collins or James Kirk to start singing after that inital 20-second burst of energy. Can’t understand why I can’t recall hearing this back in the day and why I didn’t seek it out.

I’ve tracked down the more than decent b-side:-

mp3 : The Jasmine Minks – Work For Nothing

JC

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #211 : UNCLE TUPELO

A GUEST POSTING by HYBRID SOC PROF

My parents were too young to be beatniks and too old to be hippies, too serious for rock, and had no connection to surf or Motown so, there in the late 50s and early 60s, what they had was folk. From The Kingston Trio to Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie to Joan Baez. I’m sure it was the combination of my birth in late November of their senior year of college; moving from Portland, Oregon, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for graduate school; the rigors of grad school at Harvard and Brandeis; then having to leave for St Louis, Missouri, to finish their graduate work at Washington University; and the birth of my brother that meant Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Byrds, Crosby, Still and Nash, etc. never found a purchase. So, I was raised on 1930s and 50s American folk, at least until I got my own small red round Panasonic AM/FM radio (on a chain) in ’69. We’d moved to New Jersey that summer after my dad finished his PhD and got a job at the AT&T Bell Labs, and I quickly got lost in the insane diversity of popular music available on AM, and FM, radio out of New York City.

But there was always folk… and the best political songs were always folk-ish, and we were a political family in a political time. Now, while my mom grew up the oldest daughter of an MD and a PhD psychologist (rare thing for a woman to earn a PhD in the 30s), both of old New England Quaker stock, my dad grew up in a small post-coal, post-rail, post-paper mill town in the Appalachian Hills of central Pennsylvania. Feminist, race and class politics – in social democratic/reformist varieties – along with anti-war activities and environmental activism ran through our household. All of which is to say that I was 6 and 7 when Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X and lord knows how many Black Panthers were killed and the long hot summers of urban rioting followed. I was 9 when the Ohio National Guard and Mississippi State Police shot and killed college students. I was 10 for Woodstock (and Altamont) – no, we didn’t go, 12 and 13 for Watergate and the first oil crisis, 15 for the Church Committee investigations into the staggeringly global illegality of the CIA, 16 and 17 for the second oil crisis and the deepening of stagflation and the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, and then 18 for the hostages held at the US Embassy in Iran.

But the “folk” music I was getting – I was a in elementary and then high school, right? – was Genesis’s appropriation of pastoral poetry, Led Zepplin’s elves and shit, Dylan’s electric Christianity and, of course, Neil Young. There was sexual politics – Bowie and glam, disco and (homo)sexuality, the questions about Elton John and Rod Stewart’s sexuality, and the Rolling Stone’s Some Girls and Marianne Faithful’s Broken English (slightly different politics there, eh?), but otherwise my friends and I were listening to arena rock, art rock, southern rock (the staple of soccer team parties), bands still active after the 60s like the Kinks, ELO and – for a few – Black Sabbath… and there was Queen and Tom Petty and Boston and Fleetwood Mac and, lord save us, Supertramp and Styx… and Springsteen (I was in New Jersey, after all) and the Grateful Dead. Two people in my high school listened to reggae and one to punk.

As I noted in the Son Volt ICA, there was folk and folk-influenced stuff but, for most kids my age, after there was Neil, there was nothing… nothing from England, Scotland or Ireland resonated, even Fairport Convention was invisible. Post-punk, the paisley underground, and college radio brought it back in dribs and drabs but I think commentators are right that the first Uncle Tupelo record marks the qualitative transformation of people here and there doing this and that to the invention of the genre many now call Americana.

Thinking more about it, on the basis of Robert Christgau’s annual Pazz and Jop polls in The Village Voice, I bought Fear and Whiskey, by The Mekons, and Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, by The Pogues, when I was working in New York and they – each in their own singular fashion – presaged the blending of class politics, folk traditions and punk attitude of Uncle Tupelo…

Here’s the line-up:

The first cut, Moonshiner – from March 16-20, 1992 – is a traditional folk song – at least 75 years old – of contested origin… possibly Irish, possibly American, doesn’t matter. There are other great versions of the song – most first heard it from Dylan and more recently Cat Power and Charlie Parr have recorded excellent versions. But Jay Farrar’s voice exudes weariness, not to the point of mourning, but bone deep, inches from worn out, holding on by a thread magnificence… and unlike Dylan’s version the harmonica is searing without wrecking the mix. If you can’t see the hills, the stills, the poverty, the church’s, bars and mines, I can’t help ya.

Screen Door, from No Depression, is sung by Jeff Tweedy, shifts register just a little. The setting is less the mountains and more rural Illinois, it’s heat, sweat, porches, poverty but celebrating the parochial, the intimacy of equal poverty, the human connection when money doesn’t mediate all activities. There’s an insular populism to the tune but also a deep resilience and sense of place. It’s wholly different from Reagan’s “Morning in America” or the reactionary politics of Kevin Costner’s take on Field of Dreams in that it comes from the Midwest rather than projecting onto it.

Jay’s back in the beautiful, Still Be Around – from Still Feel Gone. The lyrics are simple but, and I can’t point to what it is, intimate that the lyrical complexity of his later work in Son Volt is coming. It’s always struck me as a song about alcoholism and those who love and alcoholic. There’s a richness of feeling and a depth of worry but also an inescapable fatalism about lives tied to the Bible being a bottle.

Black Eye – from March 16-20, 1992 – is a working class tune, a song about all that can be lost when you stay in place, playing the role assigned you, being who everyone knows you to be, releasing your dreams and doing your job. Anything that breaks the flow of the mundane, under such conditions, can be a badge of pride… but if it, too, becomes mundane, there’s hopelessness nearby. It’s about the closest Jeff gets to singing a Jay tune… all the songs the band released were credited to all the band members but it doesn’t take much to identify – sonically and lyrically – who was at the core of which song.

Belleville, Illinois, where Uncle Tupelo are from is, or was, a coal mining area east of St Louis. Coal Miner, by Sarah Ogan Gunning, was originally published in 1937 from the perspective of a coal miner’s wife. Also, from March 16-20, 1992, the original title was “Come on All You Coal Miners.” If you’re looking for anti-capitalism, you’ve found a home, here. I first heard this by Pete Seeger long ago and, while Seeger’s was rousing, there’s a mournful fury in Jay’s voice I prefer… it completely belies his age at the time, how someone with fewer than 25 years under their belt has that depth of feeling, I’ll never know.

Steal the Crumbs, from Anodyne, is a pulsing stroll of a song without a real chorus… harkening back to Still Be Around, it keeps walking, rolling on, the poetry and movement building to:

No more will I see you,
So long since I’ve seen you,
Haven’t we both been living the high life,
It flows on the bottom…

No more,
no more will I see you,
no more will I see you,
no more will I see you.

Whiskey Bottle, from No Depression. I listened to Jeff Tweedy on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast a few weeks back. Tweedy has a new book out about his life in music and there’s a good bit on growing up in Belleville and Uncle Tupelo. True or not, Belleville was long rumored to have the most bars per capita of any community in the US and a comedian once described the main street as the longest bar rail in America… All of which is to say that a song about a whisky bottle, over Jesus, not forever, just for now makes a good bit of sense for a band from a place of that kind.

I mentioned on the Son Volt IC that Uncle Tupelo blended punk and folk… and, while it’s not included here, they even titled a song D. Boon after the lead guitarist and singer of The Minutemen, one of LA’s greatest punk bands. Boon died in an auto accident in 1985. Along those lines, they’d often cover punk and post-punk songs during live performances and I Wanna Be Your Dog – from 89/93, An Anthology – is their blending of Iggy and the The Stooges and the Bottle Rockets (good friends of the band from a town south across the Mississippi River.)

Another cover, a bit more rocking and with better production, is CCR’s Effigy, from 1993’s No Alternative compilation put together as part of the Red Hot AIDS Benefit series. This starts off once again mournful and quiet and then accelerates and intensifies into an explosion of raw guitar fury after about two minutes. They did this live when I saw then in San Francisco in 1992 and it was glorious. I think it’s far superior to Creedence’s original.

And, just to prove that they had punk rock chops – that don’t quite escape the rest of their acoustic sensibilities – I’ve ended the compilation with Postcard – from Still Feel Gone… and other drinking song but one where I hear escape pending, which they clearly did.

HSP

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (28)

Some facts and stats.

The debut 45 by Nirvana, in November 1988, had a limited run of just 1200, of which 1000 were hand-numbered in red ink and the remainder unnumbered.

It was the very first release of what is now referred to as the first volume of the Sub Pop Singles Club, a monthly subscription service run by the label. Volume 1 ran from November 1988 till December 1993 and issued one single per month to its subscribers, always in limited editions.

The a-side of the 45 was a cover of a song, originally released in 1969, by the Dutch band Shocking Blue. The b-side was an original Nirvana song.

The trip of players on the single are listed as Kurdt Kobain (vocals, guitar), Chris Novoselic (bass) and Chad Channing (drums). It was recorded at Reciprocal Studios in Seattle and production is credit to Jack Endino and Nirvana.

A slightly different mix of the song would also appear on the band’s debut album, Bleach as well as featuring on the Blew EP, released on license by the Tupelo Recording Company in the UK in December 1989.

There are currently two copies of the single up for sale on Discogs. One is from a UK dealer – it is #765. The dealer has graded it as ‘Very Good Plus’ in terms of the vinyl and the condition of the sleeve and is asking for £2,500. A bit of a bargain when you consider that the only other copy, from an American dealer will set you back over £3,600 depending on the exchange rate, although to be fair, this dealer states that the sleeve is near mint and that the vinyl, ‘is super clean with the exception of the tiniest hairline scuff, barely noticeable that does not affect play’ – oh and this copy is #115.

mp3 : Nirvana – Love Buzz
mp3 : Nirvana – Big Cheese

As debut singles go, it is of the raaaaaawk variety with hardly an indication that a revamped Nirvana, with a different drummer, would become the biggest band on the planet.

But you wouldn’t catch me paying anything like the above sums of money for a piece of black plastic just seven inches in diameter.

Imagine, though, if you did happen to have one and had persuaded the lead singer to autograph it……there’s someone on e-bay selling a copy of the single along with an accompanying letter from Kurt Cobain in which he extols the virtues of the debut to a close friend. The single itself isn’t signed but obviously the value is in the letter. The asking price is $39,999.

Bonkers.

JC

A POLITICAL PROTEST SONG ON SARAH RECORDS

I suppose I could have waited a few more months for the Saturday series to go through the letters J,K,L,M and N before getting round to this, but quality calls.

There’s a tremendously informative bio on The Orchids over at LTM Recordings, an independent record label which specialises in reissuing specialising in reissues of what are often long-deleted back catalogues (and whose website has been useful in pulling together info for the Paul Haig series currently appearing on Sundays)

The entry for The Orchids goes into some depth about the formation of the band in 1985, and how a number of DIY recording efforts eventually led to them being one of the first bands to be signed up by the fledgling Sarah Records in 1988. My excuse for not knowing all that much about the label, or indeed ever owning any original releases, is related to the period coinciding with a time when I temporarily lost interest in music, finding time only to keep an eye and ear on, for the most part, mainstream and chart stuff.

Almost all of The Orchids’ back catalogue from this golden era was re-issued on three compilation albums a few years back. I picked up copies of each of them and found myself loving a fair bit of it, although some of the material felt a bit sub-standard, just a bit too jarring on occasions, while other times there was little semblance of a memorable tune.

One of my favourites of theirs is Defy The Law, a fabulous sub-two minute piece of pop that sounds very much like Felt, and was part of the EP that came out as their second release for Sarah. Over to Alistair at LTM:-

The second Orchids single, in November 1988, was the four track ‘Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink’ 7″. This was the first Orchids records to be recorded at the legendary Toad Hall, and the first to be produced by Ian Carmichael, unofficial sixth member of The Orchids. Carmichael of course later found some kind of fame with One Dove, although really The Orchids pretty much laid down the blueprint for much of their sound, and were given a thanks on the sleeve of that hit One Dove album. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The ‘Underneath The Window’ single was recorded and released in the midst of the UK’s Poll Tax conflict, and came with a poster featuring a collage of anti-Poll Tax material adorned with the message ‘The Orchids say don’t pay the Poll Tax’. There was more on the record itself, with the blunt song ‘Defy The Law’ (never did revolt sound so sprightly and gorgeously weightless as this) and a blatant ‘FUCK THE POLL TAX’ etched in the run-off groove. And whilst maybe it’s just my snobbery that prefers the initial print-sun sleeve of shades of blue over the starker blue and white later version, it was nevertheless another fairly horrid sleeve housing a fantastic record.

I hadn’t actually equated the song with the popular anti-authority movement, which very much took shape here in Scotland as the poll tax was introduced here before any other part of the UK and went a long way to entrenching a new generation’s worth of hatred for the Tories. If I’d only owned the vinyl, I’d have been much wiser.

It’s a fabulous EP all told, with the four songs displaying different facets of the band, but all adding up to being able to make a case for them being the new kings of indie-pop; only problem was, they were ascending to the throne at a point in time when very few actually cared…..it was now all e’s, dancing and baggy dungarees. Foppish haircuts and a devotion to jangly guitars was soooooooooo yesterday:-

mp3 : The Orchids – Defy The Law
mp3 : The Orchids – Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink
mp3 : The Orchids – Tiny Words
mp3 : The Orchids – Walter

I now live reasonably close to where Toad Hall Studios were located having been completely unaware of their existence in the decade or so that they were in use.

JC

THE INCREDIBLE BLONDES

The recent posting on The Suede Crocodiles made reference to the establishment of No Strings Records in 1983 and the release of the first ever single by Del Amitri.

The brains behind the label were two Glaswegians – Nick Low and Graham Cochrane, and in a parallel universe they will be every bit as feted and celebrated as the likes of Alan Horne and Bob Last. It was Nick who, in 1985, would add The Incredible Blondes to the label’s roster.

This Glasgow four-piece, consisting of Barry McLeod (vocal, guitar), Robert Campbell (drums), Stephen Boyle (bass) and Eddie Campbell (keyboards) were yet another highly tipped outfit beginning to get noticed on what was a lively and thriving local scene. Although unsigned, they were invited to record a session for the Janice Long Show on BBC Radio 1 which, when aired caught the ear of Nick Low who immediately realised it was the same band which was rehearsing in an adjacent studio to the one he was working in. He introduced himself, talked a bit about the label and before the evening was over, had persuaded The Incredible Blondes to allow No Strings to release a single.

A few months later, Janice Long was among a number of DJs to give this a spin:-

mp3 : The Incredible Blondes – Where Do I Stand?

I’d love to be able to tell you that I had a copy of this single and that I saw the band play live. But I can’t. The Incredible Blondes emerged just as I left Glasgow to live and work in Edinburgh and at a time when I sort of lost contact with all that was happening in the Scottish music scene, save from going to gigs and buying singles and albums by bands that I was already familiar with. The first time I got to hear the single was through its inclusion on the Big Gold Dreams box set.

It turns out that band called it a day when the debut single failed to chart.

The best part of 20 years later found Nic Lowe and Barry McLeod bumping into one another and reminiscing a bit. They realised that this one-off single was still highly sought-after by collectors, particularly in Japan where the band still enjoyed cult status among fans of indie-pop. This led to the two of them delving into the vaults and deciding to give a belated release to a debut album by The Incredible Blondes on the resurrected No Strings Records.

Where Do I Stand? was the name given to the album – and a new version of the song was recorded with a lyric translated into and sung in Japanese by Aya Matsumoto, a waitress living in Glasgow at the time.

mp3 : The Incredible Blondes – Where Do I Stand? (Japanese version)

The album was a mix of old recordings from the 80s and songs penned more recently by Barry. It was launched in March 2005 with the band reforming again for a one-off gig in their home city.

I’m pleased to advise that copies of the album are still available by mail order, on CD and vinyl. Click here for details (and it’s part of the same website from where I’ve pinched much of the info for today’s posting).

JC