THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Part 3)

History is littered with bands who, by the time they have been able to release the debut album, have disowned many of the songs in favour of those that they have been prepping, either on the road or in the studio, for the follow-up record.

Simple Minds proved to be such a band, although their desire to get away from the songs on their debut was somewhat predicated by the fact it hadn’t brought any meaningful success. In September 1979, just two months after Chelsea Girl had let everyone down, they were back in the studio, again with John Leckie in the producer’s chair, determined to get it right the second time around.

The recording of what became Real to Real Cacophony was, seemingly, a pleasant experience with sessions being completed quickly, so much so that the record label had it delivered in time to make a decision to release it before the end of the calendar year. The only thing was that they delivered a record that the label was not anticipating, lacking any potential hit singles and packed with strange, often experimental-sounding numbers the likes of which were uncommon in 1979.

Some 40 years after the fact, it’s now seen as an album very much of the type that marked the beginning of huge changes in post-punk/new wave music, with moody and atmospheric keyboards taking a greater role at the expense of jarring guitars. Some critics, such as Paul Morley, immediately ‘got it’, suggesting that Simple Minds deserved to be lauded every bit as much as the likes of Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Wire and Public Image Ltd, all of whom could do no wrong in the eyes of the opinion-formers.

Arista Records, however, were spooked and their reaction was to put the album out with little fanfare, content that it would sell to the band’s fan base and with little or no accompanying promotion, the losses could be minimised (and no doubt written off against any previous advances).

The hopes of manager Bruce Findlay for the band to be at the forefront of his own Zoom Records become internationally famous were dashed when Arista insisted it be released as part of its wider stable of artists.

There was, eventually, one single lifted from Real to Real Cacophony, and even then it was all a bit shambolic. Changeling wasn’t issued to help further promote the album, but instead to raise the profile of the band as they undertook a tour. It was also decided to use an edited version of the song, cutting out some 45 seconds from the album version, and to have a live track on the b-side, with a song lifted from a New York gig in October 1979. Even then, mistakes were made as the mix of the live track, done back in Glasgow, had a miscue from the master tape and the recording put down on vinyl starts with the end of the previous song!!

mp3 : Simple Minds – Changeling (edit)

mp3 : Simple Minds – Premonition (live)

The single, unsurprisingly, was a monumental flop. Things looked bleak.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #167 : JOSEF K

From wiki:-

Josef K were a Scottish post-punk band, active between 1979 and 1982, who released singles on the Postcard Records label. The band was named after the protagonist of Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial. Although they released just one album while together and achieved only moderate success, they have since proved influential on many bands that followed.

The band was formed in 1979 originally as TV Art by Paul Haig (vocals, guitar) and Ronnie Torrance (drums), later joined by Malcolm Ross (guitar, keyboards), with Gary McCormack added on bass guitar, who soon left (later joining The Exploited) with David Weddell replacing him. After recording a ten-track demo, their first release was the “Romance”/”Chance Meeting” single on Orange Juice drummer Steven Daly’s Absolute label in December that year. They were then signed to Postcard Records, the label founded by Daly and Alan Horne, releasing a string of critically acclaimed singles in 1980 and 1981. The band recorded their debut album, Sorry for Laughing, in 1981 at Castle Sound Studios in Pencaitland, but it was shelved, with the band unhappy with the clean, polished production, Haig describing it as sounding “flat and disinfected”, with only a few copies being released. They returned to the studio in Belgium to record The Only Fun in Town, opting for a more ‘live’ sound and recording the whole album in two days, Haig later expressing a measure of regret that “we decided to make an almost unlistenable record with the vocals mixed down really low”. It was their only album release while together, and while it placed well on the UK Independent Chart, it received a poor critical reception.Their earlier unreleased Sorry For Laughing album was eventually issued on a 1990 CD reissue of The Only Fun in Town.

The band split prior to the release of the 1982 single, “The Farewell Single” through Les Disques du Crépuscule, which included the Peel session track, “The Missionary”, Haig deciding to call an end to the band while they were at a creative peak.Torrance joined Boots for Dancing and later (with Weddell) formed The Happy Family with Nick Currie (aka Momus).Haig embarked on a long solo career, releasing a string of albums on his own Rhythm of Life label between 1984 and 2008, while Malcolm Ross joined Orange Juice and then played with Aztec Camera and Blancmange before embarking on a solo career.

And going back to 1979 and the pre-Postcard era:-

mp3 : Josef K – Romance

JC

THIS IS A JOURNEY INTO SOUND

It was back in 1984 in the city of Aberdeen, on the north-east coast of Scotland, that a group of friends, all aged in their early 20s, decided to form a band and name themselves after a track that had been written and recorded in the 60s. As so many new and young bands did during that era, they launched their own label for their debut single:-

mp3 : Alone Again Or – Drum The Beat (In My Soul)

It proved to be the only release on All One Records as the band, consisting of by Colin Angus (vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass) , Derek McKenzie (vocals, guitar) and Keith McKenzie (drums) were picked up by Polydor for whom they released a one-off flop single in 1985 before taking the decision to change their name to The Shamen, once again preferring to do things their own way via another newly-formed label in the shape of Moksha Recordings.

There wasn’t too much of a change of direction in terms of music, as can be heard from the lead track of their 1985 EP, They May Be Right…But They’re Certainly Wrong:-

mp3 : The Shamen – Happy Days

This early incantation of the band were very good at what they did, being part of an indie-scene in the UK but making a different kind of music from their peers, most of who were adopting an almost-shambolic or twee approach to their music. The Shamen, on the other hand, were ridiculously proficient and constantly seeking ways to expand what they were doing, looking more to incorporate house, techno and dance music into their sound. They had added Peter Stephenson on keyboards by the time they went into the studio to record their debut album, Drop, that was released in early 1987. Before the year was out, they had cut a new single, one that deployed new(ish) methods of studio recording such as sampling and fused them with the guitar sound:-

mp3 : The Shamen – Christopher Mayhew Says

Not everyone was happy with the shift in direction and Derek McKenzie decided to take his leave, which very much left Colin Angus as the figurehead, and it was he who really began to drive things forward, aided and abetted by the recruitment of Will Sinnott (aka Will Sin) into the band, a musician who was also keen to increase the dance element of the band.

In 1988, The Shamen released a single, one which made heavy use of sampling and covered the subject matter of fundamedalist right-wing religious nutters:-

mp3 : The Shamen – Jesus Loves Amerika

(Just imagine what the President would be saying if this was being blasted out over the airwaves nowadays…..)

To nobody’s real surprise, Keith Mackenzie and Peter Stephenson soon quit the band having contributed in part to the 1989 album In Gorbachev We Trust, released on Demon Records, the label that had been founded by Jake Riviera and Elvis Costello at the beginning of the decade. Angus and Sinnot were now left to their own devices and this led them to relocate to London and throw themselves wholeheartedly into the rave scene, including participation in highly popular events under the banner of Synergy that combined live performances with DJing from some of the biggest club names.

This enabled them to meet all sorts of new people and bring even more influences to their music, including the addition of a rapper and a female vocalist, together with a live drummer and bass player which more or less completed the transformation into a full-blown rave act. In March 1991, the Shamen, having moved to well-known indie label One Little Indian, finally cracked the singles chart:-

mp3 : The Shamen – Hyperreal

Tragedy struck just two month later when Sinnott drowned while swimming off the coast of one of the Canary Islands on the back of the band having gone to Tenerife to film a video for the follow-up single Move Any Mountain, which was one of the stand-out tracks from the well-received new album En-Tact.

Having given things some thought, Angus decided to continue with the band, bringing the rapper – Mr C – in on a full time basis and seeking increased contributions from him to the new material. What happened next was a real surprise and ended with most of the UK record buying public thinking that The Shamen had come from nowhere and were something of a novelty band:-

mp3 : The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Released as a single in August 1992, it rocketed to #1 in the UK charts. I think wiki covers things well:-

“Ebeneezer Goode” was accused of promoting drug use, owing to the refrain, ‘Ezer Goode, Ezer Goode’ as homophonic with ‘E’s are good’ (E being slang for the drug ecstasy), ‘These F in Es are good’ as ‘He’s Ebenezer Goode’, and to double entendre drug references throughout the song. Despite – or maybe because of – the subsequent storm of publicity, the song reached the top of the UK charts and stayed there for four weeks.

The new album Boss Drum, released the following month, climbed to #4 and provided three other Top 10 singles. Come the end of 1992, The Shamen were voted as “Best New Act” by BBC Radio 1 listeners….not bad for a band whose first single, which was barely recognisable from what they were now famed for, dated back to 1985.

Angus decided to focus his energies on mixing, leading to the 1993 release of Different Drum in which every track on Boss Drum was given a radical makeover. Three more studio albums would follow between 1995 and 1999, none of which were intended to be commercial enough for the singles and mass markets that had come their way in 1992. The Shamen called it a day before the dawn of the 21st Century.

JC

SUNDAY DRIVERS

JC writes…..

Today’s posting features an incredible rare piece of vinyl. Just five copies of it were pressed up.

I first became aware of it some four months back, when Craig McAllister, from the magnificent and inspiring Plain or Pan blog, put this up on Facebook

27 years in the making, our Sunday Drivers demos have made it to vinyl. A limited run of 5 copies, it’s the in sound from way out, the sound of young Scotland pressed for posterity for Grant Canyon’s 50th birthday. The ultimate in vanity projects, there was no scrimping on coloured labels, proper cover or pull-out poster (ah aye!) A juxtaposition of brilliant memories and traguc sadness, it’s a beautiful thing.

I contacted Craig and asked if he would be okay with me featuring Sunday Drivers on the blog as I thought that it was an amazing story. He and his bandmates were more than okay with the idea but, sadly, the timing wasn’t quite right. We spoke again a few days ago and he approved me mentioning things today, Thursday 27 June 2019. The easiest thing is to lift from a post that he put up at Plain or Pan just over a week ago.

Craig’s words

It was supposed to be the ultimate in vanity projects, the 50th birthday present to top all others; our band’s demos cut onto vinyl and pressed in just 5 copies, the cost split between 4 of us for vocalist Grant’s birthday present. Sunday Drivers was our band. A 5-piece that sat somewhere between Buzzcocks’ arched-brow punkish charm and the arrogant self-belief of a still-to-hatch Oasis, we had two types of songs; fast ones and faster ones. Never quite skilled enough to match the heights of our heroes – Smiths, Clash, Beatles, Pixies, REM etc etc – we were best-experienced in the live setting where the ramalama of the backline was offset by Grant’s audience baiting and occasional forays into Duglas T Stewart twee territory. We coulda been, shoulda been contenders, but like all the great bands – and we were spectacularly great – tensions bubbled just under the surface.

“You’ve got the ending of that one all wrong, John!”

“Try coming in on 4, Derek!”

“That new tune of yours sounds exactly like The Cure!” (I’m still ticked off about that particular slight.)

“Grant wants to play the whit?!? The guitar?!?”

And so, after burning brightly but briefly, we fizzled out. Memories linger though, and, as it turns out, that’s really important.

Sunday Drivers (l to r) Derek, John O’C, Craig, Grant, John T

Derek had a sore knee at the end of November. At Christmas he suffered a series of seizures. As 2018 rolled into 2019, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The outlook was not good.

Our vanity project suddenly, immediately, took on a whole new meaning. Until now, we’d been considering pressing the ultimate in pop-art statements, a 7” single, and the talk had been about which tracks would make the cut and which would be left off, which song would be the a-side and which would be the b-side…. the important stuff, y’know?

“Fuck the money,” instructed Derek. “Let’s dae it right.”

And so, our wee 7” single became a 6-track 33 rpm LP, with actual labels, a proper colour-printed outer sleeve and, the icing on the cake, a full-colour pull-out poster featuring a montage of the band in its prime at various gigs, rehearsals and the 1993 Shabby Road recording session from where the 6 tracks were taken. It was a real labour of love and it’s a beautiful work of art.

When it was completed, we had a night at Derek and Elaine’s to present the finished record in all its 180 grams glory to Grant ahead of his birthday party. He was overwhelmed by it, the effort and expense instantly justified, and I think – I know – that Derek was the proudest of all of us to see and hear the finished results.

I also gave Derek a second record – this time a 4-track EP of the music we’d made as Fonda. After Sunday Drivers, Derek and myself kept playing and our regular sessions led to tunes which led to songs which led to a new band with Richeal Reader on vocals. The Sunday Drivers stuff was mainly all 100 mile an hour bluster, loud and fast and in your face. Fonda, by contrast, was more carefully considered, certainly more melodic and pretty good.

Quite quickly we played shows. One national tabloid ran a feature on us. “The most important band to come out of Scotland since Travis!” they trumpeted. It was on page 11, the main news feature after 10 pages on Bill Clinton’s dalliance with a dress in the White House. Yes, we were that important! That particular red top is not known for its subtlety nor accuracy though, and not for the first time, they were proved wrong. It wasn’t just them that had us ear-marked for the top – I’ve got a flyer somewhere from a show we played in Glasgow: Live Thursdays headlined by tomorrow’s stars. Biffy Clyro. Muse. Fonda.’ I suppose two out three is fairly good speculation.

Since then, we’ve had other nights where the focus has been on Indian food and the talk has been of old music, new music and days gone by as Sunday Drivers. The past few months, Derek has become increasingly nostalgic. He’d found an old film of the band playing in The Attic, Irvine’s version of CBGBs or Eric’s or the Hacienda and watched it on repeat. He made us all DVDs of it and implored us to watch it. I told a wee white lie, that I’d watched a bit of it before turning it off. In truth, I hadn’t watched it at all. I didn’t fancy watching an old gig with wonky intros, shonky backing vocals and in-jokes shouted down the microphone. I could tell Derek was a bit put out by my vague dismissal though – he’d spent the time between chemo sessions transferring the VHS to DVD and made us each a copy – so, a couple of weeks ago I stuck it on while no-one else was around. It was a hoot.

Amongst the sturm und drang of the on-stage goings on, there was film of us setting up for the gig; Derek lugging PA speakers from his old Ford Escort (EGB 666X) and up the back stairs, some of us larking around in the DJ box, assorted pals and hangers-on, keen for a hold of a guitar case and the right to free entry as an important part of our stage crew. As I watched, kicking myself for not having watched it before now, I texted Derek. He replied with a simple thumbs up, his more recent form of communication when he’d been too tired or unwell to muster anything wordier.

This time last week we were texting one another, making plans for Teenage Fanclub’s Kelvingrove show at the end of July. I thought this rather optimistic. By now, Derek was unable to walk and was extremely tired most of the time, but he was determined he’d be going. Courtesy of good friends in high places, disabled parking passes, a space for his wheelchair and some unofficial VIP treatment had also been arranged. It was shaping up to be a good night out.

The next day, Derek took a turn for the worse. He lost his speech. Despite his best protests, he ended up being ambulanced to hospital. He never returned home.

Derek Reid died on Sunday. Elaine and Harris, his family and wide circle of friends are shattered.

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JC again…..

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years of TVV, it’s that we have an incredibly strong sense of community among the band of readers/contributors, ready to just be there when things aren’t all they should be.

Derek is being buried today.  Craig and the rest of the gang will be there, no doubt going through the entire range of emotions that come with saying the final farewell to a close friend taken far too soon.

No songs from me today.  But if you want to listen to Sunday Drivers (and I really think you should), then please take a trip to Plain or Pan by clicking right here.

JC

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #217 : THE STYLE COUNCIL

The Style Council previously featured in a 19-part series looking at the singles back in 2015/16, and as such I wondered whether adding an ICA, albeit a few years down the line, would amount to overkill. But it’s too late babies……..

SIDE ONE

1. Mick’s Blessings (from the album Café Bleu, 1984)

It’s quite remarkable that TSC released five singles before issuing the debut album. Just as remarkably, none of those singles, certainly in the form in which they had been originally released, made it on to the debut album. Most remarkable of all, however, is the audacity of Side One of said debut, Café Bleu, which offered up seven tracks, four of which were instrumentals while another had an ‘Honorary Councillor’ on lead vocals, meaning that Paul Weller, the central and essential figure for so many fans of the band, provided just two lead vocals, one of which was a completely different version of a previous hit single. It was a bold, brave and potentially career-ruining move, throwing down a challenge his listeners and fan base and offering evidence that his new band was about the collective and not the individual.

The opening track of the album open this ICA….and a vehicle for Mick Talbot to showcase his talents and provide conclusive evidence that his contributions were going to be an essential part of the sound of TSC…and nobody really cared what hard core and appalled fans of The Jam were thinking! This jaunty and short number, running to just 75 seconds in length, has jazz, blues and pop influences to the fore and offered a great foot-stomping, hand-clapping opener, not just to the album but to the live gigs that the band were embarking on.

2. The Whole Point II (from the single Walls Come Tumbling Down, 1985)

The Whole Point of No Return was the second track on the debut album. It was a piano ballad in which was clothed a revolutionary call to arms for the working classes to rise up against the privileged few who formed the aristocracy and not to be afraid to use violence if necessary. It was an idealistic number with its sentiments totally at odds with the tune.

Much more effective was the revisit of the tune the following year. The Whole Point II is a really disturbing song from the perspective of someone who is contemplating suicide by jumping into the seas and letting the waves wash over them. There’s more than a hint of sadness tinged with understanding in the vocal delivery and I have to be honest and say that, as I become increasingly aware of the number of young people, and particularly men, who take their own lives each year on account of mental illness, it’s a song that hits home time and time again. It might be good to talk…..but it’s even better to listen.

3. Long Hot Summer (12” version) (from the a Paris EP, 1983)

It’s a hard task to find something on the ICA to follow on from the previous track without it being too trite…..it’s about trying to avoid a situation akin to that which drove Morrissey to pen the lyric to Panic, which was seemingly to express his disgust that a lengthy doom-laden news bulletin on a pop station would be followed immediately by a piece of music that was so disposable and meaningless that the listener would instantly forget what they had been listening to during the news.

I think I’ve managed it with this, possibly the best-known and best-loved of the entire TSC canon. The one in which the previously angry young man showed he could not only pen the dreamiest and lushest of love-songs but he could sing them in a way that didn’t grate on your nerves. The shooby-doo-up section of this song was the soundtrack of my life in the scorching summer of 1983 as I prepared to move out of the family home and into my first student flat.

4. My Ever Changing Moods (12” single, 1984)

Catchy, jaunty and splendid to listen to, this captured the essence of what would become the recognisable male trio in the band with the drumming and percussion skills of the precocious 18-year Steve White very much in evidence (most of the early TSC songs had featured the very different drumming style of Zeke Manyika, a real talent in his own right but not quite having the finesse that Paul and Mick would require as the band evolved into a jazz/funk/pop combo of equal measures.

5. It Didn’t Matter (7” single, 1987)

As I’ve said repeatedly, ICAs aren’t about a band’s ‘best’ or most-loved songs, but about finding a damn near-perfect running order. It Didn’t Matter is a good pop song, not a great one and it has a production that can now be seen to be very much of its time. It was the band’s 13th single (and their last ever Top 10 hit); it was the curtain raiser for what would become their third album – The Cost of Loving – which is now widely regarded as the release where it all began to unravel and an extended period in the wilderness for Mr Weller. It’s one I hadn’t listened to in a while in advance of compiling the series looking back at all the singles, but found myself enjoying it far more than I had remembered.

6. The Paris Match (from the album Café Bleu, 1984)

Don’t shout at me for breaking my own rule of ICAs ideally being 5 tracks per side…..the opening two songs on this effort came to a little more than four minutes in length, leaving loads of time and space for a sixth track….and I can’t think of a better way to close Side One than calling on the talents of the Honorary Councillors Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt. The original, which had appeared on a Paris, was more than decent….but this version took it a whole new level. Almost made me a jazz fan……

SIDE TWO

1. Shout To The Top (12” single, 1984)

TSC really were at the top of their game in the year that Orwell predicted would be all doom and gloom. Hit singles and an album that had led to critics re-assessing their view of the band, fully realising now that Weller’s new band was the real thing and a revival of The Jam was never going to happen.

The first post-LP single arrived in October 84 and almost 35 (!!!!!!) years on still sounds fresh, energetic and timeless. The use of strings was yet another new development for the group and the vocal interplay between Paul and DC Lee is quite superb.

2. Speak Like A Child (7” single, 1983)

I’ve previously posted that the release of the debut single by TSC was a mere 15 weeks after the final single by The Jam. The 19 year-old me hadn’t fallen for the charms of Beat Surrender as it wasn’t new-wave enough and it was always going to be associated with the break-up of the world’s most important band. I was a bit nervous about what was to come next.

The first few notes of Speak Like A Child removed any doubts. It still is a great sounding piece of music that gets me up on the dancefloor every time and having it on constant rotation back in the day helped me go back and make the connection with the dying days of The Jam and appreciate that their ending had been very fitting and, although it would take me a while to realise it, extremely timely as the legacy would never be tarnished.

3. Money Go Round (12” single, 1983)

As I wrote in the piece looking at this as a single, my introduction to the song came via a live performance (to a backing track) on a TV show and it kind of filled me with dread as it confirmed the circulating rumours that that the backing singer of Wham! was now part of Paul Weller’s new band – it felt like heresy. This was a time when I recorded all sorts of TV appearances onto VHS tape as additions to the record collection and it didn’t take me long to fall for this one in a big way. It’s a big song in every aspect – the best part of eight minutes long, Paul’s pulpit sermon is given added nuance thanks to D.C’s breathless backing efforts while Mick hits the keyboards as if he’s determined to land the next big solo on a song by The The; there are pounding drums, lashings of bass slaps and the best use of a trombone/trumpet combination outside of 2 Tone. It’s still, for me, one of the best moments in all of the Modfather’s lengthy career.

4. You’re The Best Thing (12” single 1984)

You can see where this side of the ICA is going can’t you? It’s hopefully a reminder of the quality of radio-friendly 45s the group were coming up with in 83/84. The Jam had enjoyed fantastic acclaim for their singles and TSC were now proving that, despite a sound that was a million miles away from new wave/post-punk/updated mod, they deserved similar levels of praise.

You’re The Best Thing was the sixth single but the first to be lifted from the debut album – indeed it was only released two months after Café Bleu had hit the shops and it had the desired effect of giving the album a second wind and keeping riding high in the charts. As I said in the piece for the singles series, this song is one that I will always associate with turning 21 years of age in the summer of 84 and one particular intense, and for a decent enough period, a happy relationship. The girl involved bought me Café Bleu for said birthday and there’s a handwritten note inside the accompanying booklet that will always remind me of her. We both thought, at the time, that we were the best things that had ever happened to one another…..but we didn’t last and it’s not well over 30 years since we were last in the same room. I’ve had an occasional notion to make a search on social media to see what’s happened to her since, but I’ve resisted as it’s best that bygones be exactly that.

5. The Boy Who Cried Wolf (from the album Our Favourite Shop, 1985)

This sort of keeps the singles run going as this track, from the second album, Our Favourite Shop, was issued as a 45 in some countries outside of the UK, and indeed charted in Australia and New Zealand.

The previous song on the ICA is the one that best reminds me of a relationship from decades ago – this is the one that reminds me of the ensuing break-up. It’s a wonderfully crafted number, an upbeat and uplifting tune masking a very sad and sentimental lyric, packed with regret and more than an element of self-loathing. It’s a break-up song that I’ve long regarded this as the yin to the yang of The Bitterest Pill, one of the most underrated singles released by The Jam, which looked at the ending of a relationship where the blame was attached entirely to the other person….

6. Walls Come Tumbling Down! (7″ single, 1985)

There was anger and optimism in this one in equal measures. The political call to arms about the class war being real and not mythologised. The hope that the young and disaffected would cotton onto the fact that they could really make a difference if they wakened up to the fact that politics was not an abstract or boring concept. Sadly, not enough of us did and things would remain bleak for a very long time.

Walls Come Tumbling Down is a floor-filling, pounding effort that, like many of the best TSC numbers, remains very listenable many decades later. It’s the perfect way to end this ICA….it’ll surely make you want to walk over to your turntable and flip the vinyl back to the other side and listen to the whole damn thing again.

JC

BROKEN CHANTER

I’ve long been a fan of Scottish indie-pop combo Kid Canaveral, bemused and frustrated by the unwillingness of a wider audience to embrace their music and fall head-over-heels for their charms as a live act.

The band are on a bit of a hiatus at the moment and frontman David MacGregor is embarking on a solo venture under the name of Broken Chanter.  He’s spent quite a bit of the past few months gigging, either as one man with his guitar or with a full backing band, and having caught a couple of shows with him in both guises, it is great to report that he’s still as charismatic and entertaining as ever.

The debut single was released at the end of May 2019, via two of the most energetic and hard-working locally based labels – Last Night From Glasgow and Olive Grove Records.

It proved to be quite different from the output with his previous band, more intense and less frantic than most Kid Canaveral songs. It’s a very mature sounding piece of music, gently paced and melodic with its author again demonstrating that there are few as good as him when it comes to giving listeners the catchiest of choruses.  The icing on the cake is the contribution from Jill O’Sullivan (ex Sparrow and The Workshop) on backing vocal/harmonies and violin, lifting the song well above your standard guitar-laden number and making it something that you will want to return to for numerous repeat listens.

It has become one of my favourite 45s of 2019 and it bodes well for the release of the debut album this coming September.

mp3 : Broken Chanter – Wholesale

If you’re as equally enamoured by it, then please treat yourself to a proper hi-quality download from the usual places.  Click here.

JC

 

THE AFFECTIONATE PUNCH

A GUEST POSTING by STRANGEWAYS

So DIY in spirit that their songs should be sold by B&Q, The Affectionate Punch have been releasing music online since November 2018.

This is a Glasgow-based ‘thing’ – yes, they’re a band, but no, they don’t tour – and probably they’re best described, really, as ‘a project’.

Each TAP song is led by speed and momentum, with almost every number taken from spontaneous idea to completed, listenable take, artwork (and, often, an accompanying video) in just a few hours (that’s about a second or two in KSST – Kevin Shields Standard Time).The rush is an essential ingredient, and a few songs have been abandoned midway when it’s clear they’d require lengthy noodling.

Other things that often take longer than the creation of a typical TAP song:

· Watching The Godfather Part 2
· Observing a couple, with a baby, park a car and remove from its boot items essential for a lunch in a café thirty yards away
· Resolving, via telephone, an issue that doesn’t make a large company more profit

Back to our B&Q shelf for a moment: although TAP explores a few styles of music, in general, you’d find them in the Indie aisle, probably between the Twee and Shoegaze sections. Led by just one person in one room, lurking close by, and keenly watched by the not-obvious-at-all store detective, would be a gang of contributors: Paul McKeever, a singer/songwriter from Larbet, Scotland, Marshmallow Fortresses, a musician from the San Francisco Bay Area, USA and, most regularly, Amanda Sanderson, a singer from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. As a non-musician myself, it is astonishing to me that this is largely a one-man band. Did I say band? I meant project. A one-man project, albeit one that welcomes these contributions.

The songs? They’re created for fun above all, and are led by guitars, keyboards, loops and samples – not to mention the odd peppering of toy orchestra lurking low in the mix.

And, yes, Associates fans: the project is named after the band’s debut LP. An Associates sample was being used on a previous project and this inspired the entire TAP idea. I love it when pop does stuff like that.

strangeways

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JC adds…..

Much of the stuff by TAP has been brought together on pages at Soundcloud and YouTube, and pointers to these place will be provided in due course.

As I’ve said before, I tend not to feature new or unsigned bands/musicians on the blog, but there was just something thrilling and different about what The Affectionate Punch is/are setting out to do that I wanted to bring things to your attention.  Besides, Strangways is a person of impeccable taste. The idea that music of this quality and distinction can happen almost in what is the musical equivalent of the blink of an eye is astonishing.

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – I Fear

I Fear was the debut single from the collective, with the video put on YouTube on 10 November 2018 and the song placed on Soundcloud at the same time.

There are now an incredible 31 tracks on Soundcloud that can be accessed here

There are 11 videos on a dedicated You Tube channel that can be found here

While most of the songs are original compositions, you’ll also be treated to the occasional cover, such as this:-

There’s plenty of instrumentals out there too, with this one being reminiscent of the work of Robin Guthrie:-

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – Neon Afterglow

And finally, a couple of the more recent additions to the collection:-

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – Such Is Life

The next steps are to master some tracks that will then be added to Bandcamp, as a free download, as an LP with the title So Long Ago, Goodbye.

There’s also a planned release for a cover of Lene Lovich’s version of I Think We’re Alone Now. It will feature Amanda and Paul on vocals.

I’ve a feeling TAP might be featuring here again in the not too distant future.

JC