NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING???

Now (v) will appear next Monday, the day that I actually fly back into Glasgow. Today’s post is all about a very significant anniversary.

It was 40 years ago today…….

I’ve written about this before, so what you’re getting is a based on a posting from February 2014.

I’ve mentioned a few times that my first live concert was on Thursday 31 May 1979 at the Glasgow Apollo. The headline act was The Police and support came from both Bobby Henry and The Cramps. The tickets, costing £2.50 in advance or £2 on the door, had gone on sale a few months earlier but such was the anticipated lack of interest in the headline or support acts that the promoters and venue management had made plans to open just the stalls area and for all tickets to be on an unreserved basis.

The fact that a re-released Roxanne began to storm up the charts changed things somewhat, but even then, it was something like just 48 hours in advance of the gig that tickets for the circle and upper-circle areas went on sale, leading to a last minute surge in demand.

The Apollo was an old traditional style venue, having first opened in 1927 as a theatre. It did have a very high stage which, as I was to learn in later years, made for a great gig from the perspective of bands as it was impossible to invade – but it gave fans down at the front a really sore neck looking up at their heroes and heroines. It had hosted thousands of gigs over the years, being the main venue in the city for all sorts of touring acts across all genres, but I’m not sure if it had ever hosted anything where the seating was totally unreserved while being a sell-out. Nobody was ready for what happened on the night.

Large groups of young people went along and having gained access at the front door, went where they wanted inside the building. Naturally, most gravitated to the stalls and this area filled up very quickly, albeit it was obvious most folk were using tickets for other parts of the venue. The upshot was that fans who had bought tickets some weeks or months ago found they were now being shunted to the upstairs parts of the venue and there was a huge amount of anger, especially among those who were so late in arriving that they were only allowed access to the Upper Circle, affectionately known as the nose-bleed seats, such was their height above ground.

Me? I did what I seemed to have done at just about every gig I’ve gone to over the past 40 years and that’s get there not long after doors arrive to make sure, if it’s a seated venue, that I see the support act, and it it’s a standing venue, I get a good spot somewhere in the middle, close to the front (although in later years, my definition of close to the front has become loose!!)

As for the music, I’ll have to hold hand o and admit that I can’t remember much of Bobby Henry who, gawd bless, will always be the first live musician I had the privilege of seeing. The Cramps were chaotic and confrontational and didn’t go down too well with the majority of the audience. Lux Interior didn’t help things by constantly challenging folk to invade the stage and fight with him – which, as I’ve indicated earlier, was a near impossibility given the height of the stage above the font of the stalls but what did become clear was that anyone crazy enough to jump down on to the stage from the circle area (it was a drop of about 20 feet) stood a chance…..and so a few of the bouncers were deployed to ensure this didn’t happen as Lux was, as the show went on, really antagonising most of the audience. I thought it was huge fun and enormously entertaining, and it was there and then that I made the menal note to make sure I’d see support bands, on the basis it would be easy enough to walk down into the foyer if they were dreadful (I assumed at this stage that all concert venues in the world were laid out like The Apollo).

By the time Sting, Stewart and Andy hit the stage, the place was rocking and absolutely roasting hot. And I was high with euphoria.

They opened with I Can’t Stand Losing You, the song which had first got be interested in the band. I don’t have details of the exact set list, but just six days previous, in Chicago, this is what they had played and it’s very likely the Glasgow set was identical:-

Can’t Stand Losing You
Truth Hits Everybody
So Lonely
Fall Out
Born in the 50’s
Hole in My Life
Be My Girl – Sally
Message in a Bottle
Peanuts
Roxanne
Next to You
Landlord
Encore – Can’t Stand Losing You

My memories are that the Outlandos d’Amour album featured heavily and that there were a couple of tracks that I hadn’t heard before – one of these would likely have been Message In A Bottle but I have a feeling Walking On The Moon may have been aired as there was a lengthy almost boring bit where Sting did his ‘yay-yo’ nonsense while asking the audience to respond to his calls. Andy certainly performed Sally as I can still picture him going off to the side of the stage and returning with a rubber doll, to the great delight of the many adolescents in the audience (myself included) who thought it the most outrageous thing we were ever likely to see in our entire lives.

The encore was more than one song, but I’m sure it was just the three singles from the album played for a second time. It lasted about an hour all told and it went by far too quickly.

The other passengers on the 62 bus home must have been in despair as the four strong group of us from school – all boys as the girls from the school who were going along that night wanted nothing to do with us!! – were still in hyper-mode and we didn’t or couldn’t shut up. And we talked a lot about Sally……..

mp3 : The Police – Be My Girl/Sally

40 years on, and I still get excited when I walk through the doors of live music venue. I’ve long lost count of how many shows I’ve seen – and I still kick myself that I didn’t think to keep ticket stubs – they were simply thrown away, often inside the venue itself as they no longer had any use or purpose.

The fact that The Police would eventually become just about the biggest act on the planet for a brief time in the early 80s, as well as Sting becoming the most self-righteous and pompous prick imaginable makes it all too easy to mock them. But as a 15 year-old lad, I thought they were as good as anything else that was emerging from the post-punk era that had been christened New Wave which is why I’m still proud that they were my first headline act. They say you never forget your first time, and that a small part of it lives with you forever. I’m no different…..and although I’ve been left embarrassed by an awful lot of the stuff that came out after the initial singles, I’ll never forget the part The Police played in developing my life-long love and affection for music and live gigs.

JC

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA (iv)

As I explained back on Monday, I’m in Toronto and its surroundings this week and have come up with a way of keeping things ticking with lazy posts, but hopefully in a way that will provide interest. .

For the most part, the NOW albums, since their inception in 1983 have been, for want of a better word, a shit listen, bought in the main by folk who don’t explore much beyond the mainstream fodder. This five-part series, of which this is the second instalment, will hopefully bring some sort of balance.

The words used to describe each of the songs have been lifted from the particular individual ICA in question. There’s a multitude of contributors, but I’ve decided against highlighting who wrote what…..I like to see this, and indeed the entire output of T(n)VV as a collective.

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA….(iv)

SIDE A

Tears Are Cool – Teenage Fanclub (Track 1 from ICA#86)

So, there’s this girl, we’ll call her Aerosmith Girl, actually let’s call her Sally, and she was lovely. I had a massive thing for her in the early to mid nineties. She drunk in my local pub – where I lived at the time. I ignored the fact that she loved Aerosmith because she was so lovely.

Anyway, one night in the pub, I saw her crying, sitting there on her own, crying. I went over and spoke to her, turns out her cat had died (to be honest, she should have just stayed in – the attention seeker) anyway, after about five minutes, I said “its ok Tears Are Cool” – taking it from the song that Teenage Fanclub had released on their most recent album.

On Saturday night it was Open Mic night, when a few people turned up with acoustic guitars, played for fifteen minutes and then sodded off to claim two free pints. That night, for the time ever, I got up to play – I mumbled my way through an acoustic version of a Levellers song and then something in my head went “This ones for Sally” and I looked straight at her and did a little fist pump. I know. Sorry.

Then I sang ‘Tears Are Cool’. When I finished she wasn’t even sitting where she was when I started it. Twenty minutes later I saw her outside eating chips with a bloke called Gavin. Chips. Gavin. I’d sang my heart out in there and she fucked off and bought some chips. I never sang in that pub again. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever sung live again.

I Was A Teenage Armchair Honved Fan – Half Man Half Biscuit (Track 2 from ICA#8)

A cracking indie tune backed by a lyric that namechecks an obscure Hungarian football team, and then comes up with a pretentiously marvellous couplet for making toast:-

I went dans la cuisine in a bilinguistic mood
And Morphy Richards popped up with the goods

It then takes the piss out of rock band clichés before closing out with an extended repeat of the song’s ultra catchy one-line chorus.

Out Of This World (a Gino Washington cover) – The Detroit Cobras (Track 3 from ICA#34)

Normally, dear friends, coverbands rather are an atrocity, they exist to – more or less – “entertain” you at family parties. The Detroit Cobras from, obviously, Detroit, though take the cover business seriously and they are doing this perfectly fine since 1994. The music that the band play is a mix of soul, Motown, R&B and R&R, that is literally stripped from Mary Ramirez’ and her music partner in crime, singer Rachel Nagy’s record collections. They play other people’s music, but more specifically they cover other artists’ B-sides and deep cuts, and they do so with such a raw and ferocious energy that the songs rarely sound anything like the original versions, but all of them end up sounding like Cobra songs.

Breaking Point – Bourgie Bourgie (Track 4 from ICA#66)

The opening burst of cello will grab you and look to get you hooked immediately. If that doesn’t work, then surely you won’t be able to resist the voice.

This was my personal introduction to Paul Quinn as a lead vocalist in his own right (I’d first heard him on Barbecue which was a b-side to the 12” of I Can’t Help Myself by Orange Juice). In all truth I was as excited by the fact that Bourgie Bourgie was going to have a number of ex-Jazzateers in its line-up as I felt they were one the great ‘lost’ Scottish bands of the era. (If you don’t have a copy of their 1983 self-titled debut album on Rough Trade then I can only recommend you track down a copy – there’s a few out there at not too stupid a price.) But once I heard that voice I was smitten.

Worth also noting the classy and crisp production courtesy of the then little known Kingbird, aka Ian Broudie, whose work with so many bands in Liverpool and then later in his guise as Lightning Seeds has lit up many an indie disco over the past 30 plus years.

Psycho Killer – Talking Heads (Track 5 from ICA#115)

The bass line of God. Psycho Killer is a song that I hold close to my heart. It was less than a year since the killing spree of the Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz when Psycho Killer came out. I lived not 4 blocks from the next to last of his killing scenes at local discoteque, Elephas, in Bayside, Queens. The events of that killing changed my neighborhood for years. Psycho Killer was the darkest song I had ever heard. The motorik influence of the song brings out the detached nature of the song. Its darkness is still powerful 40 years on.

SIDE B

Bluebeard – Cocteau Twins (Track 6 from ICA#195)

In 1993 I was fed up with all the music in my collection and was listening to the radio in search of something new to get into. The moment I heard the gleaming guitar riff on this intro, I thought “That’s the one for me, I’ll go straight out and buy this.” By the time Liz’s vocals started, it was clear that everything I knew was true and that the world was spinning smoothly on its axis. Robin once said he couldn’t stand those Pink Floydy guitarists who can play all six strings at once; I think he manages at least three on this.

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division (Track 7 from ICA#160)

Millions of words have been written about LWTUA and I don’t have anything new or fresh to add. One thing that does stand out for me, however, is that despite it being by far and away the most popular and most aired of their songs, I never ever get tired of hearing it. Oh, and I’m pleased that a promo video was shot for it as it did provide some high-quality footage of the band before it became tragically too late.

Nimrod’s Son – The Pixies (Track 8 from ICA#6)

I can’t think about most Pixies songs without thinking about them being performed live – and that means thousands of people shouting “You are the son of a mother fucker”. An absolute joy.

Burn The Witch – Radiohead (Track 9 from ICA#108)

In which Radiohead go all Camber-wicker Green. A genuinely great song and one that is, even without the video, genuinely disturbing, with its lyrics of low-flying panic attacks, red crosses on wooden doors and, most ominously, “we know where you live”. Add the sawing, minor-key string backing and this isn’t going to pack the floor at your local indie disco in quite the same way as Creep. A song for these times, where Washington has become Summer Isle or, perhaps, Salem.

Moaner – Underworld (Track 10 from ICA#25)

JC posted this song recently so I was in two minds about whether to include it – but for me, there isn’t really any other song that could have ended this compilation – it’s almost impossible to follow. They pretty much always played it last as it was guaranteed to get you dancing like a machete and give you whiplash.

ENDS

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA (iii)

As I explained a couple of days back, I’m in Toronto and its surroundings this week and have come up with a way of plastering the blog with lazy posts, but hopefully in a way that will provide interest. .

For the most part, the NOW albums, since their inception in 1983 have been, for want of a better word, a shit listen, bought in the main by folk who don’t explore much beyond the mainstream fodder. This five-part series, of which this is the second instalment, will hopefully bring some sort of balance.

The words used to describe each of the songs have been lifted from the particular individual ICA in question. There’s a multitude of contributors, but I’ve decided against highlighting who wrote what…..I like to see this, and indeed the entire output of T(n)VV as a collective.

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA….(iii)

SIDE A

Weirdo – Charlatans (Track 1 from ICA#42)

Don’t you just LOOOVE that intro?

One of the best noises on any record. Weirdo was the lead single from the Charlatans’ second album and was the best thing they’d done up to that point. It slapped me around the face like a wet kipper before cheekily skipping off, enticing me to chase it. I followed it of course and fell for its cheeky charms. It’s still one of my fave tunes by the band.

Tupelo – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Track 2 from ICA#13)

Talking of dark and menacing, how about the tale of Elvis’ birth delivered Cave-style? A fine example of how a rock band can create an uncomfortable atmosphere and mood. Nick’s growling vocals, Barry Adamson’s ominously brooding bass, Blixa Bargeld’s scratchy guitars and Mick Harvey’s pounding drums combine to create a song that’s blacker than black.

The Facts Of Life – Black Box Recorder (Track 3 from ICA#179)

Although the BBR songwriting chores were shared between Luke Haines (who, I’d guess, had more hand in the lyrics) and former Jesus & Mary Chain drummer John Moore, the band’s greatest asset was arguably Sarah Nixey.

I find it difficult to write about Ms. Nixey objectively without coming across as an old letch… but the best way to describe her would be in twisted comparison to Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell. Imagine a cartoon where a lovelorn young bloke has a pure, perfect, sweet-voiced angel dressed in white sitting on his right shoulder, encouraging him to be good and kind and virtuous. That would be the Sarah Cracknell angel. On the other shoulder, however, would be Sarah Nixey, dressed in black, also sweet-voiced… but that’s where the comparison ends. Now imagine that second angel was the teacher in your Sex Ed class…

Welcome to The Facts Of Life, a single which took Luke Haines into the top 20 for the first and only time in his career. If you’d asked me before I started compiling this ICA, I’d have told you this song must have been Top 10, probably Top 3… I mean, surely this was one of the biggest hits of the year 2000? It was in my head, anyway. In reality, it scraped #20 for a week then disappeared from the chart forever. A true sign of quality.

Better Things – Massive Attack w/ Tracey Thorn (Track 4 from ICA#76)

In my mind, far superior to ‘Protection’. ‘You say the magic’s gone. Well i’m not a magician. You say the spark’s gone. Well get an electrician’ Just genius!

Delilah Sands – The Brilliant Things (Track 5 from ICA#163)

This is my favorite BC Song. I can’t get enough of it. There’s just something about the way it’s all put together, from the unusual bop ba da da bop cold start through to the brilliant trumpet line. This is my go-to whenever I need a little pickmeup. BC firing on all cylinders to be sure.

SIDE B

Happy When It Rains – The Jesus and Mary Chain (Track 6 from ICA#94)

More rain, but this time the band are a bit happier and as it happens, this is my favourite JAMC track. Its my favourite for one single reason, once in 1992 in the pouring rain outside the Army and Navy pub in Rainham, Kent, Our Price Girl gave me the best kiss of my life – at the time at least – and then sang this to me sweetly in my ear as the rain dripped off our hair. We then walked three miles, soaked to the skin hand in hand and hardly said a word, because frankly she said it all.

Shining Light – Ash (Track 7 from ICA#190)

It’s difficult to say much new about this song. It is their biggest selling single and probably their most recognisable song and one I have grown to love more as the years have gone by. A wonderful melody, with lyrics full of religious imagery, not surprising really, as Tim Wheeler grew up in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s, when the church really dominated society there. Fun fact, this song won an Ivor Novello songwriting award.

Shot By Both Sides – Magazine (Track 8 from ICA#35)

One of the great post-punk anthems, the debut single had the audacity to reach #41 in the singles charts and somehow trigger off an appearance on Top of The Pops. The sight of Howard & co obviously frightened everyone concerned for instead of it climbing into the Top 40 the following week thanks to being exposed to millions of viewers/listeners it dropped like a stone. The band never got near the singles charts again despite releasing a run of cracking 45s over the next three years.

The album version of the song is marginally different (the thing most noticeable is that each chorus of the single begins ‘Shot, Shot by both sides’ while the LP is simply ‘Shot by both sides.’ It’s a tune co-written with Pete Shelley who loved it so much that he used it for the track Lipstick some ten months as the b-side to the hit single Promises but rather naughtily didn’t give Howard a writing credit……….

Bloodsport For All – Carter USM (Track 9 from ICA#50)

When I was 15 I nicked a fiver out of my dad’s wallet, I then walked four miles to Chatham and bought this on 12”. It was my first ever 12”. Ironically I bought it from Our Price – the same shop that I would later meet Our Price Girl in. I told my dad two days later about the fiver – he grounded me for a week. It was worth it – every second.

St Anthony- An Ode To Anthony H Wilson – Mike Garry and Joe Dudell (Andrew Weatherall Remix) (Track 10 from ICA#102)

Mike Garry’s wonderful poem for Tony Wilson, a celebration of the Factory boss and ‘Manchester music, marijuana, majesty and Karl Marx’, was set to music by Joe Dudell, a string quartet version of New Order’s Your Silent Face. Weatherall took it back to the electronic roots of Power, Corruption and Lies.

ENDS

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA (ii)

As I explained yesterday, I’m in Toronto and its surroundings this week and have come up with a way of covering the next few days with lazy posts, but hopefully in a way that will provide interest.

For the most part, the NOW albums, since their inception in 1983 have been, for want of a better word, a shit listen, bought in the main by folk who don’t explore much beyond the mainstream fodder. This five-part series, of which this is the second instalment, will hopefully bring some sort of balance.

The words used to describe each of the songs have been lifted from the particular individual ICA in question. There’s a multitude of contributors, but I’ve decided against highlighting who wrote what…..I like to see this, and indeed the entire output of T(n)VV as a collective.

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA….(ii)

SIDE A

Time To Pretend – MGMT (Track 1 from ICA #138)

There is of course only one place to start when we are considering an ICA on MGMT…….

“Lets make Some music, make some money, find some models for wives…” this track couldn’t be any easier on the ear if it tried. Shamelessly poking fun at rock star dreams and ‘living fast and dying young’. Brilliant drenched in synths and catchy riffs, MGMT announced their arrival to the world with not just a terrific single but with one of the best tracks in the last ten years.

Seven Seconds To Midnight – Wah! Heat (Track 2 from ICA#43)

Pete Wylie is my favorite Rock Star of ALL TIME…Probably because he’s the only one I’ve gotten drunk with until 7am in a New York Nightclub 4 nights on the trot, and definitely because he NEVER attained Rock Start status but was always prepared for it.

JC, you’ve picked the three songs which earned him the rank of a great artist. But I will add three that I just can’t live without, and one is among my 10 favorite songs of all time.

The first, and one which first blew my socks off and sucked me into WAH!’s aural vortex was Seven Minutes To Midnight. There might not be any more urgent Post Punk song ever written.

Reflection of The Television – The Twilight Sad (Track 3 from ICA#3)

More loud and wailing guitars, pounding drums and a killer hypnotic bass line. The opening track of the second LP. The song was later given a complete remix by Errors for inclusion on the Wrong Car EP – by complete I mean the drums, bass and guitar are almost completely replaced by electronica and a dance beat. And such is the greatness of the song and the music that the remix more than holds its own.

Ping Pong – Stereolab (Track 4 from ICA#174)

Mars Audiac Quintet was a huge leap forward for Stereolab, the first album on which they really integrated their love of lounge, exotica and bubblegum with the familiar krautrock grooves half-inched from NEU! and Can, and this was its most accessible song. Indeed, probably the group’s best-realised attempt on mainstream pop ever.

A Promise – Echo and The Bunnymen (Track 5 from ICA #41)

If Postcard could claim to be the Sound of Young Scotland then those who came to prominence through Zoo Records are entitled to claim the same crown for Young Liverpool. This particular single could easily have been written and recorded by Wylie, Cope or The Wild Swans and it would have been equally majestic. Will Sargeant teased a ridiculous amount of stunning sounds from his guitar over these damn near perfect four minutes.

SIDE B

Free Range – The Fall (Track 6 from ICA#147)

This single from 1992’s slight “Code: Selfish” album is an example of what Smith and his fans claim to be his psychic or “pre-cog” abilities. The lyrics may refer to the history of Balkanization, or they might presage the coming Bosnian War. Smith seemed to predict the 1996 Manchester City Center bombing in the song Powder Keg, and Terry Waite Sez preceded Waite’s kidnapping.

Stay Together – Suede (Track 7 from ICA #209)

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.

Cattle and Cane – The Go-Betweens (Track 8 from ICA#98)

The single version is some 20 seconds shorter than the version on the LP Before Hollywood. I’ve mentioned before that this is a very special song to me for a number of reasons; nowadays, it makes me sad as it reminds me of Grant’s sudden and very unexpected death but it is a song, along with a few others, that I associate with some of my happiest days, weeks and months on Planet Earth when I fell properly in love for the first time.

Some facts : It was written as a recollection of childhood in a London flat in an effort to combat homesickness with the band as far away as can be from their native Australia, cold and skint and fearing they’ll never succeed. It was written using the acoustic guitar belonging to the owner of the flat while he lay comatose from drug abuse. The guitar belonged to Nick Cave.

Sublimely beautiful.

Join Our Club – Saint Etienne (Track 9 from ICA#47)

Another great pop single that dropped in between the first two albums. It’s all about finding your ‘tribe’ through music, particularly at a time when rave and grunge were dominant. It does, however, reference pop music through the ages and how it brings people together. It’s a subject they would revisit on more than one occasion.

Feel Every Beat – Electronic (Track 10 from ICA#205)

A five-minute version of this closes the debut album and tempting as it was to use that here, I have to bow to the remixing skills of Stephen Hague who chops about a minute off the original and helps deliver something which captures perfectly what Jonny and Bernard wanted Electronic to sound like and what they wanted a band to be….’we don’t need to argue, we just need each other’

ENDS

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA (i)

So…. I’m in Toronto and its surroundings this week, having flown over here last Friday and not due home till a week tomorrow (those of you unfortunate enough to be mates on Facebook will already be aware of this).

I’ve come up with a way of covering the next few days with lazy posts, but hopefully in a way that will provide interest.

I suppose I should explain the NOW concept just in case it’s needed….so here’s wiki:-

Now That’s What I Call Music! (often shortened to Now!) is a series of various artists compilation albums released in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Sony Music and Universal Music (Universal/Sony Music) which began in 1983. Spinoff series began for other countries the following year, starting with South Africa, and many other countries worldwide soon followed, expanding into Asia in 1995, then the United States in 1998.

The first Now was featured 30 UK hit singles from that year on a double vinyl LP or cassette. Although the compilation of recent hit songs into a single release was not a new concept (K-tel and Ronco, for example, had been issuing various artists’ compilations for some years), this was the first time that two major record labels had collaborated on such a venture. Virgin agreed to a deal with EMI, which allowed a greater number of major hits to be included (the first album in the series included a total of “eleven number ones” on its sleeve).

The rate of release settled very quickly to three per year: one release around late March/early April, another around late July and a third around late November. Over a hundred “main series” (not including spin-off and special edition) albums have been released to date. The UK series has followed a double-album format throughout the series (many other foreign franchises of the Now! series are only released on one disc), now exploiting the capacity of the CD to include between 40 and 46 tracks over two discs. Since November 2005 (Now That’s What I Call Music! 62), the Now! series have only been released on CD and digital download formats. Previously, the series had been available on vinyl, Cassette and MiniDisc. As these formats declined in popularity, Now releases are no longer issued on them.

The most successful volume to date is 1999’s Now That’s What I Call Music! 44, which has sold 2.3 million copies and remains the biggest selling various artists compilation album in the UK. 2008’s Now That’s What I Call Music! 70 sold 383,002 units in the first week of sales, the biggest ever first week sale of any Now album. Now That’s What I Call Music! 87 holds the achievement for the most tracks in total with 47 tracks

For the most part, the NOW albums have been, for want of a better word, a shit listen, bought in the main by folk who don’t explore much beyond the mainstream fodder. This five-part series over the coming week will hopefully bring some sort of balance.

The words used to describe each of the songs have been lifted from the particular individual ICA in question. There’s a multitude of contributors, but I’ve decided against highlighting who wrote what…..I like to see this, and indeed the entire output of T(n)VV as a collective.

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA….(i)

SIDE A

Complete Control – The Clash (Track 1 from ICA #12)

You’ve got to open any imaginary compilation album with a killer tune…something of an anthem which epitomizes the band or singer being featured….and I can’t think of anything better than this. One of punk rock’s greatest songs, written and recorded in frustration as the penny dropped for the band, and in particular Joe Strummer, that being a fully fledged, ideologically driven punk at the same time as being a core part of the mainstream music industry was an uncomfortable and some would say impossible position. Anger as an energy…..

Dreaming – Blondie (Track 2 from ICA#197)

The band’s drummer, Clem Burke, has always been important to the sound. He’s had to constantly adjust his style to suit whatever genre the band were concentrating on, but there can no arguing that, at heart, he’s just a guy who is at his happiest when he’s allowed to pound away loud and fast, dragging the band along breathlessly in his wake. He’s probably never given as fine a performance as on this hit single from the band’s fourth album, which is fitting given that it seems he came up with the phrase ‘Dreaming Is Free’ around which Debbie constructed the lyric – and I still admire the fact she was able to achieve a rhyming couplet of restaurant and debutante. Genius.

Blue Boy – Orange Juice (Track 3 from ICA#57)

Falling and Laughing may have been the debut but Blue Boy has proven to be the most enduring and enjoyable single from the Postcard era. And surely the greatest song to ever make use of the word ‘gabardine’.

The unexpected appearance of an organ just short of two minutes in adds to the charm of this otherwise noisy and frantic guitar frenzy.

Remember Me – British Sea Power (Track 4 from ICA#61)

If you needed proof that British Sea Power are actually fantastic, then this their first proper single emphatically proves the argument. ‘Remember Me’ has the possibly the most urgent, compelling and exciting opening to a record that I have heard. There must be a full 90 seconds of pounding drums, guitars and seaside sound effects before you even hear a single word uttered. A swirling psychedelic fury filled bastard of a song, a song according to my blogging partner swc, that is so good is sounded like Joy Division had reformed.

Levi Stubbs’ Tears – Billy Bragg (Track 5 from ICA#37)

“The sort a war takes away
And when there wasn’t a war he left anyway”

Everyone accepts that Billy isn’t the greatest singer in the world, but it’s the very basic, fragile and uncertain nature of his delivery that makes this so effective a song. See also, in a similar theme, the very moving Valentine’s Day Is Over from Worker’s Playtime or the Peel Sessions album.

SIDE B

Kennedy – The Wedding Present (Track 6 from ICA#7)

This is an immense piece of music that still sounds incredibly fresh more than a quarter of a century on. There is nothing more that needs to be said.

Let’s Fall In Love And Run Away From Here – Ballboy (Track 7 from ICA#177)

Perhaps this my favourite ballboy tune. Here, I said it! Then again this might change in five minutes, as it did for a thousand times within the last two decades. It’s the opening track to ‘The Royal Theatre’ from 2004 and it proves what JC said in his wisdom in the first ballboy ICA: “Every one of the band’s EPs and albums opens with a truly memorable number”. This is but one of those, if you ask me …

In Between Days – The Cure (Track 8 from ICA#157)

Another track that is truly wonderful and for years and years was the ring tone on my phone for whenever Mrs Badger phoned me. It’s just one of those songs that I will never tire of hearing.

Blue Monday – New Order (Track 9 from ICA#20)

This song was in and out of this imaginary album on at least ten occasions. I had settled on the running order for 9 out of the 10 tracks but just couldn’t make my mind up on what to put in as the penultimate track on Side 2.

Contenders included the 7″ version of Temptation, Love Less, Your Silent Face, the album version of Sub-Culture, As It Is When It Was, Cries and Whispers, 1963, Bizarre Love Triangle and Vanishing Point. But it is impossible to ignore the claims of what was and still is one of the most groundbreaking bits of music that has ever been recorded.

I had a short-term relationship in the summer of 1983 with a girl I had met on the dance floor of Strathclyde University Students Union. I was a regular at that venue but this girl wasn’t, and after a couple of dates it was clear things weren’t really going to work out, not least because our musical tastes were so different. She was real disco diva who had only gone to the Student Union to keep a friend company but had taken a shine to me on account of my constant dancing and she assumed I was someone who would have been happy going along to any club or venue. But I’ll always remember that she was an even bigger fan of Blue Monday than I was which says all you need to know about the crossover appeal of this piece of music. It is a genuine classic.

Dry Your Eyes – The Streets (Track 10 from ICA #45)

A number one single. A big emotional number one single – Skinner went for that deliberately and nailed it. The chorus sounds like Coldplay but like Coldplay sung by your mate, because it needed to. The devil is the detail – “She brings her hands up towards where my hands rested. She wraps her fingers round mine with the softness she’s blessed with. She peels away my fingers, looks at me and then gestures By pushin’ my hand away to my chest, from hers”. Brilliant, poignant, brutally honest. At the time I hated it, then I listened to it, and then I listened to again.

We struggled, I’ll be honest. Technically there are three singles on the first side and three on the second side. The two remixes don’t count as far as I am concerned. The Run the Road remix is an inspired choice and one I had forgotten about. Of the five Badger chose I had four on my list of Ten. He had three of my five.

By Skinner’s own admission Original Pirate Material is the “day in the life of a geezer” yet amongst the bitter-sweet, inner city anecdotes of drugs, violence, playing computer games, trips to the garage and going clubbing, there is a tender sweet message that is so compulsive. Look – don’t just download this stuff, check out Original Pirate Material you won’t regret it for one second.

ENDS

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Parts 22-25)

Two weeks ago, I made a statement which was quite wrong, but it was something I only found out after doing the research for this particular post. Read on and you’ll soon find out.

Marc Almond’s stock was reasonably high in the mid-90s, helped by positive press around his live shows and his uncanny ability to achieve major chart success with some 45 or other every few years.

There were huge hopes for his ninth studio album what with Marc composing songs at a furious rate, many of which he was promising would showcase the many styles he had utilised throughout his career, from barnstorming showstoppers to the most heart-wrenching of ballads. The record label were looking to hook him up again with Mike Thorne, the producer who had delivered so much at the commercial peak of Soft Cell, but the plan was vetoed by long-term manager and confidante, Stevo Pearce (of Some Bizarre fame) and the record ended up being made over an extended period in different studios with different producers in the chair. Unsurprisingly, the finished product feels a little disjointed and suffers from a lack of overall control with it stretching out to 16 tracks and more than 70 minutes in length – this was an era when labels and artists seem determined to fill the entire capacity of a single CD, making the error that fans and consumers wanted quantity rather than quality….

The roll-call of performers on Fantastic Star is quite an eye-opener. Some of the songs were co-composed with Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello & The Attractions) while Martin Ware (The Human League/Heaven 17) played on tracks as well as taking spells in the producer’s chair. Oh, and John Cale (The Velvet Underground) and David Johannsen (The New Yorks Dolls) also dropped in to add contributions on piano and harmonica respectively. I should also mention that the main collaborator in the studio was Neal X (aka Neal Whitmore) who had been guitarist in 80s cult band, Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

The only problem is that the album was doomed to fail on its release in February 1996 , for the simple reason that its best tracks had all been issued as singles many months prior, only one of which had delivered on its goal of chart success.

(22) Adored and Explored (7” edit) b/w The User b/w Loveless World (May 1995 – #25 in the UK charts)

This is the mistake from a couple of weeks back as I was certain that The Days of Pearly Spencer was the last time Marc hit the Top 40. This upbeat electronic number is one of Marc’s best moments, providing evidence, if any were needed, that he still had a knack for the sort of tune that sounds great whether blasting out of the radio or from the speakers in your home.

Worth mentioning also this was also the era of multi-formatting with record labels issuing different versions of the CD singles, most of which simply had remixes of the main track. It’s far too time-consuming to try to track all of these down, so all I’m going to offer up are the other original songs made available on what were usually labelled ‘CD1’.

(23) The Idol (Part 1) b/w Law of The Night (July 1995 – #44 in the UK charts)

I’ve featured this track before on the blog, back in January 2016, in which I suggested Marc had been uncanny in his prediction of future events…….

The Idol starts off as homage to The Jean Genie before it turns into a sort of Stars on 45 tribute to the glam rock that I recall from the early 70s. Great guitar riffs, amazing backing vocals, and a pumping chorus. Tailored made for radio but got absolutely no exposure on the mainstream daytime shows.

Oh, and here’s the two other tracks on the CD single that I have sitting on the shelf:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – Adored and Explored (Live at Radio One)
mp3 : Marc Almond – Bedsitter (Live at Radio One)

The ‘Unplugged cover’ of the Soft Cell hit is particularly wonderful. No synths – just acoustic guitars and harmonicas. And proof that Marc was a better singer than most gave him credit for.

(24) Child Star b/w The Edge of Heartbreak b/w Christmas In Vegas b/w My Guardian Angel (December 1995 – #41 in the UK charts)

I reckon this is the most Almondesque of all the solo releases. A weepy ballad which has quiet reflective moments along with the most OTT pop orchestration to reach your ears. There’s even a bit where you think it will end only for one final incredibly dramatic and show-stopping surge to tug on your heartstrings. It’s a magnificent production to which Marc gives it his all….and it really was so much more deserving than the miserly #41 position. One appearance on Top of The Pops could have changed everything…..

The Edge of Heartbreak would later also feature on the parent album (the release of which had been delayed until early 1996) while the inclusion of Christmas In Vegas enabled fans to pick up on a track previously released only via a limited edition flexidisc.

(25) Out There b/w Brilliant Creatures b/w Lie (February 1996 – #76 in the UK charts)

The single which accompanied the release of the parent album – it was meant to be a double-A side effort although these things are impossible to determine when it’s CD and not vinyl. Out There and Brilliant Creatures were on Fantastic Star while Lie became the last from this incredibly bountiful song-writing period to find light of day.

Worth mentioning that the failure of the latter singles and Fantastic Star (it stalled at #54 and came nowhere close to recouping its costs) hurt Marc badly, both personally and professionally. His autobiography acknowledges his drug issues weren’t much of a help when it came to making rational decisions, and he mocks himself by referring to the album as Fading Star. It wasn’t too long before the major label let him go. His response was to establish his own independent label……

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #162 : JOCK SCOT

From wiki:-

John Graham Manson Leslie (21 September 1952 – 13 April 2016), known as Jock Scot, was a Scottish poet and recording artist.

Born in Leith, one of seven children, he was raised on a housing estate in Musselburgh, where he was nicknamed “Pooch” Leslie because of his small size. He sold soft drinks locally and worked as a labourer on building sites, until, in 1978, he threw his tam o’shanter on to the stage at an Ian Dury concert in Edinburgh, and was invited backstage. Dury invited him to join his tour party, ending up in London where he moved in with Dury and Clash associate and publicity officer Kosmo Vinyl. He worked for Stiff Records and later Charisma Records, and befriended many of the luminaries of the London punk rock scene, including the members of the Clash, Shane MacGowan, Billy Bragg, and Vivian Stanshall (formerly of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band).

Described as a “supplier of good vibes” to his friends, he began going on stage as a warm-up act for bands, reciting his poems. He regularly performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, toured with the band Rip Rig + Panic, and published a book of verse, Where Is My Heroine?, in 1993. The book drew on his earlier experience of heroin addiction in Scotland. In 1997 he recorded an album, My Personal Culloden, made with Davy Henderson of the band The Nectarine No. 9, and described at Allmusic as “a rich, fascinating travelogue through Scot’s id, ego, history, and city, all delivered in his robust musical brogue against a backdrop of experimental rock pastiches and grooves.” The album was reissued on CD in 2015.

According to his obituary in The Daily Telegraph: “He had startling presence, and a way of investing words with broad and deep meaning, and, with his interest in the Beat poets, horse racing and popular culture, straddled the worlds of London’s pub-land and the aristocratic demi-monde.” He was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, but refused chemotherapy and died in 2016, aged 63.

And from a Postcard Records EP called Pregnant With Possibilities (Volume 1):-

mp3 : Jock Scot – Grunge Girl Groan

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #215 : MORPHINE

A GUEST POSTING by HYBRID SOC PROF,
our Michigan Correspondent

When Rykodisk sent the university radio station Morphine’s first album, Good, it was 1992.

Whatever post-punk and college rock had been five to seven years before, they were done. Grunge ruled the airwaves but seemed increasingly to be a version of the Ramones but 20 years later. While the Ramones had taken early 50s rock, sped it up and ironically(?) made it dumber, a million bands in the US were now copying Pearl Jam (more than Nirvana) and mixing 70s arena rock bombast with affected post-punk alienation – The Wallflowers, anyone? In my world, Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Nirvana were still making great music, I adored Uncle Tupelo, was discovering Billy Childish, had just been introduced to The Stairs, was falling for Vic Chesnutt (while falling out with The Fall, Pogues and Mekons), found myself smitten by Teenage Fanclub, loved Henry Kaiser and David Lindley’s collaboration with Malagasy musicians, and was pretty gaga over Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. All of which is to say that the implosion and ever-intensifying hybridization of genres that was going to set the stage for Napster to kill most of the music industry had started in earnest.

And here’s a guy with a two-string slide bass, singing lyrics in the adult vein of Leonard Cohen – totally stripped down to the most basic language – in front of a really great drummer and a saxophone, sometimes a tenor, sometimes an alto, sometimes a baritone, and sometimes two at a time. I half remembered “I Think She Likes Me,” the very minor hit Mark Sandman’s previous band, Treat Her Right, had recorded but this took the seedy-bar-at-2-am tonality of that band up an order of magnitude. There was a hint of crooner, an element of beat, underlying tragedy and struggle but, more than all that, an altogether new-to-me kind of musical and emotional space. It was the perfect music to have on while reading Walter Mosely’s series of Easy Rollins neo-noir detective fiction.

Almost every song seemed to be about loss, the potential for loss, the risk of loss… all seemingly hopeless and hopeful, lost but still fighting, beaten down but dignified. I was just starting my dissertation, the nightmare prospect of having to finally moving into a career was on the horizon and I needed adults in my musical life… or, at least that seemed to feel right. I mean, I’d already hung out at a café in Berkeley reading Nabokov, right?! I’d already worked my way through B. Traven’s book, The Death Ship, yeah? I was already weaving all manner of things through the four holes in my left ear, nowhatImean? (OK, I’m not sure I was all THAT young but, forgive me, I was young, at least young-ish, and a romantic, seeking the sublime.)

Rather devastatingly, most of the way through the recording The Night (2000), Sandman died, at 46, on July 3, 1999, on stage early on in a performance in Palestrino, Italy. There is an well-done, slightly provocative documentary – Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story – that was released in 2011 that digs up some material on Sandman’s life but leaves many questions unanswered. I saw them, twice, once in San Francisco and once in a park bandshell in Boston, Sandman and the band were great performers.

My approach for this Imaginary Compilation is to provide snippets of lyrics. Read them, listen to the song, read the next set, listen… lather, rinse, repeat. I’m hoping it works.

1. You Look Like Rain (from Good, 1992)

Your mind, and your experience, call to me.
You have lived, and your intelligence, is sexy.
I want to know what you’ve got to say,
I want to know what you’ve got to say,
I want to know what you’ve got to say,
I can tell you taste like the sky
Because you look like rain.

2. Have a Lucky Day (from Good, 1992)

Now I’m sitting at a Blackjack table
And I swear to God my dealer has a tag, says Mabel.
Hit me, hit me, I smile at Mabel,
Soon they’re bringing complimentary drinks to the table.
Players win and winners play…
Have a lucky day!

3. Cure for Pain (from Cure for Pain, 1993)

And tell me where,
Where’s all that money that I spent?
I propose a toast to my self-control
You see it crawling, helpless on the floor.
Someday there’ll be a cure for pain,
That’s the day I throw my drugs away.
When they find a cure for pain!

4. I Know You (Pt III) (from Like Swimming, 1997)

Give me a kiss, hello, goodbye.
What’s the difference?
Just end everything you say with a smile
Wave goodbye, hello – with that look in your eye…
Forwards, backwards, back it down the drive,
The curtains in the window, wave goodbye,
Hello, there’s that look in your eye,
and your crazy smile…
I know you & you know me too,
I know everything that you’re going through
I know you & you know me too,
I know everything that you’re going to do.

5. Thursday (from Cure for Pain, 1993)

One of the neighbors that saw my car
And they told her yea they told her
I think they know who you are
Well her husband he’s a violent man, a very violent and jealous man
Now I have to leave this town I got to leave while I still can
We should have kept it every Thursday, Thursday, Thursday in the afternoon
For a couple of beers and a game of pool.

6. Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer (from The Night, 2000)

We’re going to a party. Our friends will all be there.
I got the directions. It’s across the river somewhere.
We rang the top floor, bottom buzzer.
Top floor, bottom buzzer. Top floor, bottom buzzer.
The middle won’t work. Ring the one under.

7. Early to Bed (from Like Swimming, 1997)

Early to bed so you can wait,
For 3 buses a trolley and a train.
I think it’s worth it for you to stay awake,
Maybe tomorrow you’ll be a little late, but
Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a man or woman miss out on the nightlife…

8. You Speak My Language (from Good, 1992)

All around the world, everywhere I go,
No one understands me,
no one knows what I’m trying to say.
Even in my home town,
My friends make me write it down,
They look at me, when I talk to them,
And they shrug their shoulders.
They go, “What’s he talking about?”
But you…. you speak my language!
But you…. you speak my language!
Yes!

9. Buena (from Cure for Pain, 1993)

Well come on a little closer let me see your face
Yeah come on a little closer by the front of the stage
I said come on a little closer I got something to say
Yeah come on a little closer want to see your face
You see I met a devil named Buena Buena,
And since I met the devil I ain’t been the same, oh no!

10. Empty Box (from Like Swimming, 1997)

In the morning, I was by the sea,
And I swam out, as far as I could swim
Until I was too tired to swim anymore,
And then I floated,
And tried to get my strength back.
And then an empty box came floatin’ by
An empty box, and I crawled inside.
Half in the shadows, half in the husky moonlight
And half insane, just a sound in the night

Thanks,

HSP

 

THE BEAR NECESSITIES

I made mention yesterday of how much I had enjoyed the theatre show ‘What Girls Are Made Of’, making reference to the role played by all four members of the highly talented cast.

One of the four was Susan Bear, whose main role was to re-enact the part of the band’s drummer Cathryn Stirling.

It had been quite a while I had last caught sight of Susan on any stage. I had first seen her back in 2014 when a new and really intriguing band called Tuff Love burst onto the Glasgow scene.

Tuff Love was a duo consisting of Julie Eisenstein on guitar and vocals and Suse Bear on bass and vocals, who also called on their friend Iain Stewart, a member of The Phantom Band (who were on the roster of Chemikal Underground to play drums in the live setting. The music they made was lo-fi to the extreme, made entirely at home with Suse utilising the engineering and production skills she was learning within her college course. It was, nevertheless, something of an enchanting listen, issued on vinyl by Lost Map Records, a label which itself was just starting to make some waves on the local scene having been founded by Jonny Lynch of The Pictish Trail following his decision to end his association with the critically acclaimed and successful Fence Records.

Tuff Love seemed to be a throwback to the C86 era in their wholly independent approach to music making which extended itself to their live shows which, it has to be said, were often a bit hit-and-miss, usually because the venue’s sound man (and it was inevitably a bloke) failing dismally to get the mix right with the drums overwhelming the lightness of the vocals and playing. Having said that, when they did get it right, they were as enthralling and intriguing an act as any, and I was at a fair number of their shows during 2014 and 2015, whether as headliners or as part of the support acts.

There were three 10” EPs, all of which had self-deprecating titles.  The first was called Junk, the second was named Dross and the third was given the name Dregs; the records were released over a period of some eighteen months from the summer of 2014, with each of them containing five tracks. The last time I saw Tuff Love was at Stereo in Glasgow, in early 2016, not long after the label had issued Resort, bringing together all 15 tracks from the EPs in one handy compilation on CD and vinyl. It was a great show, and I was certain the band would go on to bigger things.

It turns out that they would spend the summer on the bills of most of the summer festivals after which they just disappeared off the radar. I’m guessing that Julie and Suze chose to go their separate ways although I don’t recall any announcement from the band or label.

Susan is now described as a Glasgow-based multi-instrumentalist, sound designer and performer with her part in the 2018 production of What Girls Want proving to be the first play she had ever performed in, although you would never have known that such was the confidence she exuded on the stage.

I’m not sure what the future hold for her, but you can be certain that it will be intriguing and worth keeping an eye out for.

In the meantime, here’s Track 1 from each of the 3 EPs:-

mp3 : Tuff Love – Sweet Discontent
mp3 : Tuff Love – Slammer
mp3 : Tuff Love – Duke

JC

WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get myself along to a Glasgow staging of the theatre show ‘What Girls Are Made Of’, which itself had first come to prominence and huge acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year.

The show was the brainchild of Cora Bissett, one of Scotland’s leading lights in the world of theatre whether in an acting, writing or directing and it was based on her own experiences as a teenage indie pop-star (of sorts) back in the mid 90s.

Cora was the singer in Darlingheart, a band from Glenrothes, which is a town just a few miles north of Kirkcaldy where my beloved Raith Rovers FC play their home matches. Over the course of some 80 minutes, the tale unfolds of how a 17-year old kid, having answered an advert in a very local paper looking for a vocalist influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Pixies, R.E.M, and Throwing Muses, found herself within a matter of months after working up a demo, whisked off to London to sign a very lucrative contract with a major label, only for it to go very badly wrong.

What Girls Are Made Of proved to be a superbly conceived show, with Cora playing herself, switching effortlessly between the now, when she is a reflective and street-wise 40-something and to her past, whether at home with her family, in the studio or on stage with her bandmates or in the ‘wilderness’ years as she tried to piece things back together on the back of the band’s failure to crack the big time.

The show is, without any shadow of a doubt, helped by the performances of the three other members of the cast, all of whom portray, with great energy, a multitude of characters including the other members of Darlingheart, the Bisset family and a range of real-life folk from the music industry. There’s a nostalgic feeling about it all for much of the time, and the band’s experiences on the road with the likes of The Sultans of Ping, a then largely unknown Radiohead and a beery, leery falling apart at the seams pre-Parklife Blur, are recounted with self-deprecating humour. The show did often feel like a gig, albeit in short bursts around the narrative which really takes a grip after the band has broken up as Cora reflects on life, love and loss – the laughter among the audience soon gives way to sobs and tears. One reviewer said:-

“What Girls Are Made Of has the capacity to lift you up and break your heart at the same time, and the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation for this multi-talented cast.”

Darlingheart were dropped by the label after two singles failed to crack the charts and the debut album, Serendipity, had been subject to a particularly vicious review in the NME, much of which was an attack on the teenage frontwoman, with accusations of her being manufactured and talentless.

The irony, of course, is that the band were far from manufactured and talentless, albeit the music that was being released didn’t stand out too much from the crowd. They were just four working-class kids, being very badly advised and guided by unscrupulous folk out to make a quick buck out of the work of others, and who were chewed and spat-out when someone said they were no longer flavour of the day. I’ve one single in my collection, picked up after Jacques the Kipper had included it on a compilation tape back in the day:-

mp3 : Darlingheart – Wish You Were Here

One of the other actors in the show was someone I recognised immediately – I was surprised to see them on the stage as I hadn’t realised they had moved away from simply being part of a band into the thespian arena. Tune in tomorrow for more.

JC

HISTORY REPEATING

A few weeks ago, on Saturday 4 May to be precise, I went along to the CCA in Glasgow in the company of Aldo and Mike G.

As the poster indicates, it was to catch three bands playing on the Golden Week Tour 2019, with Glasgow being the closing show after Manchester, Leicester, Bristol, London and Leeds.  Here’s an edited review of the Golden Week Tour show in Glasgow as written by Martin Wilson for the Overblown website:-

The Golden Week Tour has been a bit of a masterstroke by Damnably who have brought Japan’s Otoboke Beaver and South Korea’s Say Sue Me over to the UK for a quick five date sprint around the country on the back of releases for both bands on Record Store Day. In Japan the Golden Week is the longest holiday of the year and given that all members of Otoboke Beaver work full time, it’s the longest period they can take off. It’s very much the UK’s gain that they did.

Say Sue Me’s sound is mainly sun-drenched indie pop, perhaps along the lines of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Alvvays. The occasional song veers into fuzzier territory and I’m reminded of Jesus and the Mary Chain at times. Regardless of who they remind me of they are utterly charming to watch live. They sound pristine, they look like they’re having a fabulous time and it seems the crowd are too. I’ll forever be smitten by harmonies, hooks, punchy bass lines and driving guitars and Say Sue Me provide all that in spades. Come back soon.

Then it’s the turn of Otoboke Beaver and Oh. My. God. They’re a photographers dream, I’m pretty convinced I loved them before I’d ever heard a note simply because of the imagery on social media, limbs flailing, bodies all over the place, punk rock pandemonium personified. Thankfully their sound reflects all this precisely.

What strikes me first is the ludicrous levels of musical ability these girls have. They should be adorning the covers of every muso magazine in the world, stamping a high heel in the face of whoever the latest guitar hero dude is on the way. Their ability squeezes every inch out of their songs which are of the breakneck speed variety. There’s fragments of all sorts in here, hardcore punk, indie rock, sometimes verging on metal. Can you imagine Bis covering System of a Down? No, neither can I but I don’t think it’d be miles away from the sheer mayhem of sound Otoboke Beaver conjure up.

It’s frankly impossible to take your eyes off them even to simply catch your breath for a second. They’re like an exaggeration of something from the battle of the bands in the Scott Pilgrim movie but they’d wipe the floor with any of that cinematic nonsense. There’s a lot of posturing for sure, the performance is all rock posing, call and response vocals, stop-start songs, huge riffs, crowd surfing and to be this good it’s surely all been rehearsed within an inch of its life. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t come across as rehearsed, they carry and organic sense of chaos like they’ve arrived on stage, planted their roots and are now gonna spread across the venue like creeping ivy on speed, smothering every inch of the room and destroying anything in their path.

The language barrier is irrelevant with music this good. Between songs they’ve picked up enough English to explain they’re broke and we must buy their merch. “Now dancing, after shopping” and “We have no money, buy so no go back to work” seem to be the useful phrases picked up on tour. Their English is infinitely better than my Japanese and they say this between just about every song. Guitarist Yoyoyoshie leads us into another blast of music by screaming the band’s name into the mic and manically waving her arms like she’s trying to raise the dead into some kind of vengeful maelstrom. It works. Every time.

I’m not sure when I’ve seen a performance like this before, or when I will again but I hope Otoboke Beaver will be back. If not, that’s it, I’m packing my Glasgow bags and moving to Kyoto. These four girls should be superstars. Don’t rest until they are.

Here’s the thing.   That’s the review from the Golden Week tour back in 2017.  It was one I only read a few days after I’d been along in 2019, but word-for-word it was exactly how I felt at the end of the night.

The reason for going along was to catch Say Sue Me having fallen heavily for their charms when they headlined a show at Stereo in Glasgow last Autumn.  It was one of my highlights of 2018 and the set in 2019 will live long in the memory….and I’m hopeful, like last year, they will come back for their own headline set given they are full time musicians and not quite restricted in their ability to come to the UK as the headliners (indeed, Say Sue Me toured extensively in Europe, the UK and Ireland on either side of Golden Week 2019).

But nothing had prepared me, or indeed Aldo or Mike G, for Otoboke Beaver.  I’ve been going to watch live music for more than 40 years now, and so I will have been to at least 1,000 shows in my time.  But I have never experienced anything quite as dynamic, uplifting and plain bonkers as the hour of entertainment provided by these four ridiculously talented women, Accorinrin (Lead Vocal & Guitar), Yoyoyoshie (Guitar & Vocals), Hiro-chan (Bass & Vocals) and Kahokiss (Drums & Vocals).   The studio recorded stuff is fine, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing the magic of actually seeing them and picking up on the energy they generate with each performance.

It was a genuine jaw-dropper of an evening.

Oh, and I should also add that Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, the opening act on the night, were also hugely entertaining.  I’ll be picking up physical copies of their material in due course.  In the meantime here’s some tunes:-

mp3 : Say Sue Me – Old Town (single version)
mp3 : Otoboke Beaver – S’il Vous Plait

And some footage:-

JC

INTRODUCING……

All music bloggers receive, by e-mail, hundreds of unsolicited music submissions on a weekly basis. My approach is to simply delete all such correspondence – it’s not something I like doing but the sheer volume of stuff means it is impossible to give anything a listen without it being purely at random….there simply isn’t enough time.

And that is really the main reason why this blog never features any new or unsigned singers or bands.

Except for today.

This all stems from my mate Mike G, someone I’ve been long pestering to contribute to the blog but he’s far too lacking in self-confidence to put anything in writing. He’s got great and varied taste in music….he very much has a melodic dance vibe about him and I keep telling him that his knowledge and enthusiasm for the genre should be shared more widely. But he refuses to budge….

The other day he asked me to give a listen to some music being made by a young man who is a friend of his teenage daughter. I told him he should write it up, but still no joy. Instead, he got the young man to get in touch with me direct:-

Hi there!

Mike G suggested I send my music over to you for The Vinyl Villain Blog!

My track that I’ve just released is called ‘BREATHE IN’. It comes on the back of my debut a few weeks back called ‘DREAM’

Here’s my short bio (in third person, but you can re-write in first if you’d prefer)

ANDREWBATES is a self taught keyboardist/songwriter/producer from Glasgow, mixing ambient elements with pop music to create a combination of different sounds and textures. Originally being introduced to music through playing the violin from a young age, he began experimenting with several instruments throughout high school, which then led him to creating his own music. Over the last 3 years he has been making music in his bedroom with a laptop and a keyboard and is working towards the release of his debut EP towards the end of the year.

Socials;
Twitter – @andrewbates1999
Instagram – @andrewbates_
Facebook – @andrewbatesmusic

Thanks

Andrew

Here’s the thing.

I like what I’ve heard. It seems that others do too as Andrew (whose promo picture is at the top of this posting) has enjoyed some airplay from Scottish DJ Jim Gellatly on his show which is broadcast on Amazing Radio.

There’s also a smashing wee feature over at the website buzz music, in which the reviewer states:-

“BREATHE IN” is redefining the pop genre in a serious way. Starting off on a more laid-back note, with vocals that entrance the listener into a tranquil state. I am seriously loving Andrew’s sultry tone of voice that ease you into this catchy track – and I am only a minute into the track. Pull your partner close for this sensual track that will really get you moving in sync with each other. The song picks up traction between verses with a funky and lively beat that blends extremely well with the melodies of each verse and the bridge. The lyrics are deep and structured well showing that Andrew is extremely talented with his words, and knows how to mix them together to make a lasting impression.

This has been followed up with a short interview in which Andrew reveals a little bit more about himself, his music and his hopes.  Click here for more.

I really do wish him well and to help him on his way, I’ve made an on-line purchase of Breathe In. It didn’t cost me much – just £0.69, of which the young man will most likely receive a tiny cut.

I’m hoping some of you will do the same after giving it a try here:-

https://song.link/i/1458370778

Cheers

JC

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF MARC ALMOND (Part 21)

The one predictable thing about the solo career of Marc Almond is its utter unpredictability.

The Days of Pearly Spencer had given him a huge and unexpected hit in 1992.  Instead of capitalising on this, he took the decision that 1993 would be the year to release the album Absinthe, a collection of 12 tracks that had been worked on at various points in time between 1986 and 1989. The thing was, all of the tracks were covers of French songs or poems and none of them were released as singles – not that any of them would likely have bothered the charts as radio play would likely have been non-existent.

The other release in 1993 was 12 Years of Tears – Live at the Royal Albert Hall, in which 14 songs from the time with Soft Cell as well as the solo career were selected for inclusion for the first live album of his career.  The show, which had been of a very extravagant nature, had taken place on 30 September 1992, had been a near three-hour affair complete with band, orchestra, dancers and numerous costume changes.  It was also given a VHS release and later, in 2007, a DVD release.

One single was offered up:-

(21) What Makes a Man a Man (live) b/w Torch (live) (March 1993 – #60 in the UK charts)

It’s Marc’s take on a song written and made famous by Charles Aznavour in the 1970s, the sad and moving tale of a gay transvestite.

Torch, which had been a massive hit for Soft Cell, had been left off the parent album, so presumably the hope was fans would buy the single to complete any collection. The ploy didn’t work as it stalled at #60.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #161 : JIM REID

There was an eight year period from 1999 to 2007 covering the break-up and then reformation of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Lead singer Jim Reid kept himself busy in a number of ways. For a number of years he was active the band Freeheat (which included fellow JAMC’er Ben Lurie as a member) and then as part of the backing group for Sister Vanilla, the stage name adopted by his younger sibling Linda Reid, whose debut album, Little Pop Rock, was released initially in 2005 in Japan by the P-Vine record label and then made available closer to home in 2007 thanks to the very fine folk at Chemikal Underground.

It was also in 2005 that Jim Reid released his first solo single, Song for a Secret, on the Transistor record label, an effort he followed up the following year on the same label with Dead End Kids.

Some points of interest. The debut solo single featured a Sister Vanilla track on its b-side. The follow-up single featured a cover of a Bob Dylan song as its b-side, albeit one that was better known from versions recorded by Manfred Mann and Fairport Convention, albeit the latter’s version was translated into French as Si Tu Dois Partir (which itself was later covered by Lloyd Cole)

May as well go the whole hog:-

mp3 : Jim Reid – Song For A Secret
mp3 : Sister Vanilla – Can’t Stop The Rock
mp3 : Jim Reid – Dead End Kids
mp3 : Jim Reid – If You Gotta Go, Go Now

Oh and here’s a bonus track:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Si Tu Dois Partir

JC

MY THOUGHTS ON THE NOT SO FAB FOUR…….

I made a passing comment within the recent posting on the Banshees cover of Dear Prudence that ‘this isn’t the time nor place to go into great detail as to why I have no great affection for the works of Harrison, Lennon, McCartney or Starr’ – to which RH responded with ‘Can we hear why you frown on the fab four?’

I have tried over the years to avoid negativity within this and the predecessor blog but I suppose I can’t use that as an excuse to hide from the question posed by RH.

I’ll open up my asking you all to take into consideration that my year of birth was 1963 and as such I began to develop a real interest in pop music in a period when the band formerly known as The Beatles had broken up.

My listening at the ages of 8-10 were restricted to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show as I got ready for school and then whatever shows happened to be played in whatever house I was in at weekends, many of which I spent with my grandparents where the transistor set was constantly tuned to the Easy Listening Station known as Radio 2.

At home, my parents had a modest record collection, none of which included The Beatles. Nor did any of my aunts, uncles or cousins have any great affection for them.

In short, at an age where I was really absorbing so much of what was happening around me, my exposure to The Beatles was limited and didn’t really stretch beyond songs I might hear as part of ‘The Golden Hour’ or as requests on ‘Family Favourites’.

Strangely enough, I did find myself really liking the album Band on The Run by Paul McCartney and Wings, one that my dad had bought on the recommendation of his mate.  It’s strange to think about this and realise that my dad would have been in his mid-30s at the time of its release, and while he and his mates would seemed really old to me, there is no doubt that when they went to the pub of an evening they talked at length about many things that I would later do at that age – i.e. music and sport.

I did make a connection with Wings and The Beatles, but to my 10-year old ears, the former were far superior to the latter, their songs just sounding so much better.

Fast forward a couple of years and at the age of 12 I have my own Dansette record player and a handful of singles of my own, all of which were chart fodder bought on the back of loving what I was hearing on the weekly chart rundown and appearances on Top of The Pops. I have no time for old music of any sort whatsoever….it was now all about playing the current plastic until I get bored with it or until the next glam-rock stomper had found its way into my collection.

I didn’t even listen to any of dad’s albums via the big headphones any more – something that had always been taken as a real treat and was often allowed as a reward for some achievement or other at school or for helping out with chores at home. Besides, Venus and Mars, the new album by Wings didn’t hold the same appeal as the previous record.

Next thing you know, I’m interested in girls and dancing and I’m buying disco records. And then, like so many others who just happened to be of that age, I became smitten by punk/new wave. ‘No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones’ made perfect sense…….

I’m being flippant with my reference to the Clash lyric from the song 1977….but any respect for Paul McCartney was lost when he inflicted the awful Mull of Kintyre on the listening public, and coming from Scotland, the song had a particular cringe factor.

But what about the other half of the song-writing partnership of the Fab Four? Well, I can’t deny that I was aware of  Imagine as it was played an awful lot on the radio shows at the weekends, but I thought it was boring…that was about as far as my vocabulary extended in those days. Incidentally, I still do.

Oh, and there’s also that Christmas song that he wrote which you couldn’t escape at a particular time of the year….it wasn’t a patch on Slade or Wizzard as far as I was concerned….so nope, John Lennon didn’t do anything for the young me.

My greatest exposure to The Beatles came in the wake of the murder of John Lennon in December 1980. Not only did his latest solo album get all sorts of airplay (as well as a critical reassessment as it had been panned on release), but the solo back catalogue and the songs of The Beatles were all over every radio station for months, and if anything, this made me all the more resentful of the band as I just didn’t get what all the fuss was about….there was just far too much in the way of new, exciting, energetic and meaningful music all around me to take any interest in their old stuff.

Now….the thing is, not all music from the 60s was an automatic turn-off. I had picked up on The Kinks, largely thanks to Ray Davies being name checked by my hero Paul Weller, but then again I still didn’t get the fuss about The Who, the ‘old’ band most closely linked with Woking’s finest. I even found myself liking some of the stuff by The Rolling Stones and in due course would find myself going to see them at the Glasgow Apollo in 1982.

I’m guessing a few of you will be scratching your heads at all of this given there is no consistency in my line of thinking; yes, I could be accused of being belligerent in my unwillingness to embrace the songs of The Beatles. But hang on…..some of the songs themselves are fine, but only when covered by those bands that I do have time for, especially when they turn them into something which sounds new and original rather than a cover. I just find the output of the most successful ever rock’n’roll band to be dull and tedious.

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – The Beatle$
mp3 : The Clash – 1977
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Getting Better

PS : I finished this off in advance of reading a contribution to the debate by Echorich via the comments section at the Dear Prudence posting:-

“I completely understand having a natural aversion to The Beatles. Honestly, it isn’t something you can justify with words.”

And that’s it in a nutshell….it would have saved me a couple of hours baring my soul and recounting my very young years!

JC