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)
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.
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.