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)
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.
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.