THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (3)

I ended last week’s posting with the words “There were a number of really strong candidates for the next official single, the one that would, from the marketing perspective, hopefully get the band onto Top of The Pops and lead to increased sales of the album, thanks to more folk become aware of what they were capable of. Except……”

……The Auteurs got sidetracked by an invitation to be part of the Rough Trade Singles Club, whose mission was to save the 7″ singles by offering subscribers a one-off record every four weeks, recorded by artists ranging from the talented but unknown to the highly collectable.

The first release had been in October 1991.  The Auteurs would be the fifteenth in February 1993 .  There would, in the end, be 47 such pieces of plastic before the venture folded.

mp3 : The Auteurs – Housebreaker (acoustic version)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Valet Parking (acoustic version)

Both songs had originally featured on New Wave and the first of them must have been one of the tracks that Hut had been eyeing-up for themselves as a 45, albeit the lyric was maybe a tad dark and pessimistic.

The limited nature of this release meant it had no chance of taking the band into the charts.  Maybe the next time?

JC

PS……delighted to announce that I’ll be getting some assistance with this series as chaval has accepted an invite to contribute the occasional guest posting, starting in a few weeks time.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #176 : KING CREOSOTE

Edited from wiki:-

Kenny Anderson,  known primarily by his stage name King Creosote, is an independent singer-songwriter from Fife, Scotland. To date, Anderson has released over forty albums, with his latest, Astronaut Meets Appleman, released in 2016. Anderson is also a member of Scottish-Canadian band The Burns Unit. In 2011, Anderson’s collaborative album with Jon Hopkins, Diamond Mine, was nominated for the Mercury Prize and the Scottish Album of the Year Award.

After having featured in Scottish bands Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra and Khartoum Heroes, in 1995 Kenny Anderson launched Fence Records, alongside Johnny Lynch, and began recording albums under the name King Creosote.  He eventually stepped back from day-to-day running of the label in 2010.

In recent years, Anderson has teamed up with Domino Records who have co-released some of his albums. He also spent some time on Warner subsidiary, 679, which gave him major label backing for the first time. His increasing frustration with the music industry and how digital recordings are becoming throwaway commodities led him to release his material in small, vinyl only runs which were largely only available at concerts.

Today’s track is taken from the LP, KC Rules OK released in September 2005. The album’s liner notes state that its songs were written between 1988-2003. The backing band were The Earlies, an English/American four-piece who have been described in the media as folk-psychedelia and as country-meets-prog-meets-electronica symphonies.

In December 2009, KC Rules OK was ranked #6 in a local magazine’s “Scottish Albums of the Decade” rundown.

mp3 : King Creosote – I’ll Fly By The Seat Of My Pants

In 2014, I was lucky enough to be helping out with the arrangements at this unforgettable day of music.

King Creosote was headlining the second of the big gigs but as a warm-up, he turned up, unnanounced, in a local pub, and played three songs standing next to the fruit machine as locals looked on in wonderment. I’d been tipped off this was going to happen and got myself along….and stood no more than five feet away as it all unfolded.

It was sublime, sensational and unforgettable

JC

PS: Just remembered I took a hasty and poor quality photo while KC was performing in the pub….

 

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapters 25 & 26)

Two for one today , thanks to Half Man Half Biscuit, described by wiki as an English rock band, formed in 1984 in Birkenhead, Merseyside and known for their satirical, sardonic, and sometimes surreal songs.

Chapter 25

A mistake has been made
It’s a fact they can’t hide
Though I’m partly to blame, it cannot be denied
There ain’t no use defending
It seems I’ve been tending
The wrong grave for 23 years

A letter dropped onto my doormat one day
And I thought: “I’ll ignore that, it might go away”
And I took up my shears
To the place where for years
I presumed my sweet darling had lain

Curse those in charge of plots
Curse these forget-me-nots
I’ve been sharing my innermost thoughts with an Edward McCrae
I’m inconsolable and at times uncontrollable
Ah but she wouldn’t know ‘cos she’s two hundred metres away
Let’s complain…

On my long weary journey back home I took the less frequented path and ended up in the Meadow of Consolation. It was a magical place – I half expected a nymph to appear, shyly from out of the brake. Some not unexpected She from the brushwood; and me dressed as a dandy in practice for the Summer Eights …even the glebe cow started to drool …but then, almost inevitably, Claire Rayner appeared

I’m numb from the sting
That I’ve been tending
The wrong grave for 23 years
I walked up in autumn, I ran up in spring
To the wrong grave for 23 years
Oh ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling
Now ain’t that a thing
The wrong grave for 23 years
The wrong grave for 23 years
The wrong grave for 23 years

mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Tending The Wrong Grave For 23 Years

Released on the Saucy Haulage Ballads EP back in 2003.

Chapter 26

I fancy I’ll open a stationer’s
Stock quaint notepads for weekend pagans
While you were out at The Rollright Stones
I came and set fire to your shed

‘Cos you probably work at an all-night garage
You probably work at an all-night garage
You probably work at an all-night garage
With Talk Radio on

And you curse my soul if I don’t want petrol
Curse my soul ‘cos I don’t want petrol
I only came down for a tube of Pringles
…Sour Cream and Chives

Because you gotta get up off your fat arse to go and get my crisps and you gotta go around the counter and it’s really inconvenient; and when you come back, you toss them into that sliding metal tray device thing that separates us and you say: “One pound thirty-five”, as opposed to: “That’ll be one pound thirty-five please, sir”. This is of course done to annoy me but has the opposite effect of amusing me no end, because suddenly I’ve got other things to buy…

“I’ll have two Scotch eggs and a jar of Marmite,
Two Scotch eggs and a jar of Marmite
Two Scotch eggs and a jar of Marmite
…what sandwiches have you got?”

Well now you become quite irate and your voice becomes louder, and you start to sound like Leadbelly at the depot…

“I got ham, I got cheese, I got chicken, I got beef,
I got tuna-sweetcorn; I’ve got tuna-sweetcorn…”

“I’ll have ten Kit Kats and a motoring atlas
Ten Kit Kats and a motoring atlas
And a blues CD on the Hallmark label
– that’s sure to be good”

Oh he went to play golf on a Sunday morn’ just a mile and a half from town
His head was found on the driving range and his body has never been found

mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Twenty Four Hour Garage People

Released on the Trouble Over Bridgwater LP back in 2000.

JC

MIXING POP AND POLITICS, THEY ASK ME WHAT THE USE IS

Billy Bragg famously related the tale of him being asked said question, by a cynical fanzine writer, within the lyric of Waiting For The Great Leap Forward. If only the writer had been brave enough to ask a similar question of Jimmy Somerville…….

It will be 35 years next month since Age of Consent, the debut LP by Bronski Beat was released. The trio of Somerville, Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek had already tasted chart success earlier in the year with their first two singles, Smalltown Boy and Why?, going Top 10 in many countries across Europe. They weren’t the first to make wonderfully catchy synth-pop that was aimed at the dance floor, nor were they the first to link the genre with gay culture; but they were the first pop stars to get up on a soapbox and demand that folk listened and took action on the inequalities of life that had to be endured if you were of a gay persuasion.

Nobody should be in any doubt that the band took huge risks with such an agenda. The early 1980s was not the most tolerant of periods, with some of the most right-wing and conservative political administrations governing the UK and the USA. It was a period when the cultural world of performing and visual artists did voice their concerns in a concerted way about some injustices happening within society, not least the horrors of the apartheid system in South Africa, but nobody was willing to really stand up and shout about homophobia and the dangers faced daily by, in particular, young people the world over. The promo video to Smalltown Boy had been a revelation, being, in effect, a short film that showed a gay man seemingly finding some happiness, only to have it ruined, firstly by the vicious fists and boots of a violent mob and secondly by the vicious rejection of his family. The line ‘mother will never understand why you had to leave’ is one of the saddest lyrics you’re likely to find in any uptempo tune.

The single certainly raised awareness of the fact that attitudes, particularly among those living in traditional working-class communities, had much to do with the fact that young gay people felt the need to run away from the security of their home and upbringing. Many parents felt stigmatised and regarded themselves as failures if their son or daughter had turned out to be queer, with the situation exacerbated by the shame of knowing their offspring was breaking the law. (I should, and indeed must, point out that Jimmy Somerville’s own Glaswegian parents did not disown their son at any point in time, albeit he did indeed leave home and head to London, but only as a result of frustration he felt at the narrowness and limited appeal of a ‘gay scene’ in his home city and elsewhere in Scotland)

The hit singles had created the circumstances that the Bronski Beat debut album was likely to enjoy a fair amount of commercial success. It offered the perfect platform to say and do something of huge significance and to the delight of what seemed like the entire gay community, and those standing outside who were appalled by homophobia, the band didn’t disappoint.

Forget, for a moment, that the vinyl contained ten tracks of high-class music, some of which burst and bristled with energy while others were mournful and thought-provoking. Forget too, that one of its highlights introduced the work of the Gershwin brothers to a whole new audience and instead take a few minutes to study the artwork.

The inner sleeve and the label on the vinyl is dominated by a pink triangle, the symbol used by the Nazis in concentration camps to identify homosexual prisoners. Originally conceived as a badge of shame, the pink triangle had, from the 70s onwards, began to be reclaimed as a positive symbol of self-identity. The inner sleeve also set out, plainly and simply, the different international ages of consent for males to engage in gay sex, drawing attention to, and ridiculing, the fact that there were huge inconsistencies, with the UK being amongst the worst examples in declaring the age to be 21.

The so-called swinging 60s has been an era in which the UK establishment began to relax its attitudes across a whole swathe of societal issues with new and more liberal laws covering divorce, abortion, race relations and fairness in the workplace. Homosexuality had gone from being wholly illegal but was still seen as a huge taboo, causing all sorts of outcries and scaremongering within the powerful media circles, particularly across tabloid newspapers where so many agendas were set and led to millions of readers forming opinions and holding attitudes. Oh, and the churches didn’t help things either, choosing to focus on very narrow and literal interpretations of scriptures as an excuse to uphold bigotry, hatred and prejudices.

Nothing had changed much in the best part of 20 years and indeed there was a feeling at large that the right-wing nature of the Thatcher government was going to make things worse. Indeed, in 1988, things did take a turn for the worse with the passing of the outrageous and scandalous ‘Section 28 Amendment’ to local government legislation that made it illegal for schools and teachers to promote the idea that homosexuality could be a stable and harmonious way for a family relationship.

The thing was, for many people, this was closing the stable door long after the horse had bolted as attitudes, particularly among young people had changed dramatically. Bronski Beat had shown up the insanity of the UK’s approach to homosexuality and had done so with grace, dignity and some fabulous music. In their wake followed many, not least The Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Culture Club, Holly Johnson and, of course, The Communards, the group formed by Jimmy Somerville just a year after the success of Bronski Beat, all of whom not only enjoyed #1 hits and sell-out tours, but did so to an incredibly mixed audience.

The social and political outcomes of The Age of Consent must never be underestimated, but I’ve no doubt in my mind that it needed the music to be of top quality and mass appeal to succeed on these fronts. Indeed, if the album had been duff, there would have been a danger of setting things back somewhat, giving strength to those (and there were many) who felt that dance music was only good for clubs and discos and not for promoting any meaningful messages.

mp3 : Bronski Beat – Why?
mp3 : Bronski Beat – Need A Man Blues

Bronski Beat would enjoy two more hit singles lifted from the album, both of which were covers. Indeed, for the final hit single, they revamped the closing song of the album by introducing a guest singer, someone who had overcome all sorts of homophobic media coverage as his fame increased to find himself, and his attitudes, accepted increasingly by the mainstream:-

mp3 : Bronski Beat – It Ain’t Necessarily So
mp3 : Bronski Beat feat. Marc Almond – I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me

No embarrassment or the usual excuses. A copy of The Age of Consent should be in every pop fan’s collection.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #226 : FUCKED UP

A GUEST POSTING by SWC

A couple of weeks ago, JC posted a couple of tracks by Dolly Mixtures and I happened to mention that I owed a couple of their tracks as covered by Fucked Up and sort of walked into writing something about them. Taking that as a cue, I’ve turned that request into an ICA. This should walk the forthcoming ICA World Cup by the way.

The Toronto based sextet Fucked Up are, I think, the greatest hardcore punk band of the last 20 years. Over the last fifteen years or so they have released track after track of brilliantly abrasive compelling punk rock. Their music is blended around the voice of Damian ‘Pink Eyes’ Abraham, a man blessed with a voice that sounds like he spends all his time rubbing a cheese grater against his throat. Which by the way sounds way better than I have described it. Behind that voice you get an onslaught of guitars, an assault of drums, an immense wall of sound, the occasional flute and the odd piccolo.

However, it’s not just about punk rock with Fucked Up though. The band have experimented, last year they released the wonderful (honestly one of the eight best records ever made) album ‘Dose Your Dreams’ which saw the band blend their punk sound with shoegaze, rave, baggy, twee, jazz and indie pop. The album showcased their wide range of musical influences, the pick of which are below. The first track liberally borrows a bassline from ‘Pills N Thrills..’ era Mondays and it’s incredible.

Talking Pictures

Raise Your Voice Joyce

Two albums before that came ‘David Comes To Life’ an 18 track rock opera concept album about two starcrossed lovers (David and Veronica) who conspire together to build a bomb and cause general mayhem and destruction (seriously, it gets pretty deep). It is 70 odd minutes of screaming, beautiful brilliance, which contains the tracks below. The first track of which is easily one of the best punk rock tracks ever recorded (very easily). As rock operas go, this knocks ‘Tommy’ into a cocked hat.

Queen of Hearts

The Other Shoe

Before ‘David…’ came ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’ which I think was their second album (I lose count to be honest), and the first signs emerged that the band were trying to become more accessible or had perhaps outgrown their DIY roots (despite refusing to change their name and you know, try to actually sing). That album contains probably their finest single moment (although my opinion on this changes literally every day) in ‘No Epiphany’.

The fact that the band are called Fucked Up hasn’t helped their radio play, the fact that Pink Eyes has a voice that sounds like the noise wire wool makes when you scrap it along a wall, hasn’t helped their radio play, regardless of what they are called. However, if anyone else had sung this and if anyone else had recorded this it would have been long since heralded as one of the greatest guitar records of all time and would be on an endless loop on Radio X. Yes it would.

No Epiphany

In their early days though the band were very much a singles band. Their first dozen releases were (I think), all limited edition 7” singles, which became and remain very collectible.

I Hate Summer

On top of that they have released a single for every sign of the Chinese Zodiac. Most of these are 20 minutes long so I ain’t sticking them up but still they are all utterly astonishing especially ‘Year of the Snake’. They’ve also bundled up all their single releases and most of the B Sides into two compilation albums (containing some 50 odd tracks), all this before album three hit the shelves.

Back in 2006 though they decided that they wanted to release something special for Record Store Day, which sort of brings me to the reason why I wrote this piece in the first place. The band decided to release two limited edition 7” singles featuring two covers each of two of their favourite bands. Bands that they loved, grew up listening to, bands that sat firmly in the tweepop genre bands that were as far removed from punk rock as you could get.

These were Dolly Mixtures (who Pink Eyes tells us in the sleeve notes, made a movie!) and Shop Assistants. Dolly Mixtures you will know all about because JC wrote about them a couple of weeks ago. Shop Assistants were from Edinburgh and have probably also featured on these pages somewhere. I’ve not heard any of the originals (perhaps JC will indulge us…) so I’m not going to comment apart from say that these versions are obviously ace.

Dream Come True

He’s So Frisky

I Don’t Wanna Be Friends With You

Looking Back

Thanks for reading

SWC September 2019

JC ADDS…..

…….Shop Assistants have made the occasional appearance on this blog, but not as often as their tunes have merited.  They also get aired every time when we have a Simply Thrilled night but until now I had no idea the cover versions of these songs existed:-

mp3 : Shop Assistants – I Don’t Wanna Be Friends With You
mp3 : Shop Assistants – Looking Back

And since SWC asked so nicely:-

mp3 : Dolly Mixture – Dream Come True
mp3 : Dolly Mixture – He’s So Frisky

Enjoy!

HOMAGE TO CATALONIA

mp3 : Scot & Sager – Barcelona

Fortunately, my own recent visit to the Catalan capital didn’t result in any similarly bad experiences to those suffered by the late Jock Scot, as recalled in the opening track on the 2006 CD, The Caledonian Blues, on which Gareth Sager made and played the music (minimally) while the grizzled old poet and punk veteran rants and raves to terrific effect.

In fact, my experiences in Barcelona in September 2019 couldn’t have been any happier.

Arriving on a Thursday morning, on a flight direct from Glasgow that was very much on time, myself and Rachel (aka Mrs Villain) rocked up at the hotel of choice to be informed that, as returning guests, we were being given an upgrade to a larger room which came with its own private terrace that proved to be a bit of a suntrap. The day was spent doing a bit of wandering around and re-aquainting ourselves with the city, and at night we returned to a tiny restaurant we had visited last year, delighted to find there was space to squeeze us in and that the food was every bit as exceptional and well-priced as before.

Friday saw the arrivals, from California, of Jonny the Friendly Lawyer (JTFL) and Goldie the Friendly Therapist, who were traveling to Spain for a 10-day city/beach holiday as part of an extended birthday celebration for the latter. I’d met Jonny before, both pre and post-gig when his band The Ponderosa Aces had played in Manchester in 2017, but this was a new experience for Mrs V while neither of us knew what to expect from Goldie. We spent the whole evening and all of the Saturday with our American friends – when we weren’t on the move or sightseeing, we were sitting drinking/eating in some very fine establishments, during which we talked endlessly about so many different things, but particularly love, life, work, music and achievements (but not in any boastful way!). The stay was topped-off with all four of us going to the Barcelona v Valencia football match on the Saturday evening, after which there were farewell drinks and promises made to hook up again soon, either in Scotland or California.

It was yet another example of how an incredible and strong bond has emerged as a result of this blogging nonsense. Jonny was the one who, years ago, came up with the JTFL as his moniker when he decided he wanted to leave comments on the blog. Friendly doesn’t come close to describing the man, for he is turns charming, articulate, generous, intelligent and witty among many other things. Above all else, he is completely down-to-earth and as easy-going as anyone I’ve ever met, about as far removed from any stereotype you would apply to someone of his chosen profession, especially one whose main professional activities centre around the cesspit of Los Angeles and whose upbringing was in New York.

It was an absolute joy to find that Goldie is as every bit as friendly as her partner/husband of some 30 years and the four of us couldn’t have gotten along any better over the entire time. It was inevitable that myself and JTFL would end up yakking for ages about our love for music and the things we know we have in common, but it was incredible to find that Rachel and Goldie share many common interests to the extent that they could have been sisters separated at birth.

Goldie, like her husband, is an incredible conversationalist, no matter the subject matter, but it was particularly enjoyable to listen to stories and incidents from throughout their lives, of how they came to be together and of how they encouraged one another to be a success in their chosen fields. They talked with real pride of their two kids – Sam and Jane – both of whom have been encouraged to make the most of the artistic/creative talents they have inherited through the genes. In return, our American friends wanted to hear about our family members and friends and to flesh out some of the stories mentioned over the years on TVV, particularly concerning the blogging fraternity whom I know or have met, which meant that a great deal was said about the Glasgow gathering of a few years back and the Simply Thrilled nights.

I think I’ve persuaded JTFL to share some more of his life stories via some future guest postings – you just can’t say that you were seated next to Shirley Manson at dinner and not tell the TVV readership how that came about.

mp3 : Garbage – Push It

Here’s to the next time. Quite probably over to a part of the world that has so beguiled David Gedge:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – California
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Santa Monica
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Spider-Man on Hollywood

JC

A GREENOCK BOY MADE GOOD

The late John McGeoch (25 August 1955 – 4 March 2004) was a key part of many important and successful bands of the post-punk era. His guitar work was, if you’ll pardon the pun, instrumental in the way the sound of Magazine and Siouxsie & The Banshees developed and evolved over successive albums. He was also at the heart of the early material from Visage and in later years he helped fill out, especially in the live setting, the songs of The Armoury Show and Public Image Ltd. It’s worth mentioning too that he guested in the studio for the likes of Generation X, Peter Murphy and The Sugarcubes.

McGeoch hailed from the blue-collar town of Greenock, some 20 miles west of Glasgow. At the age of 16, his family moved to London and upon leaving school he successfully applied to attend Manchester Polytechnic to study fine art. One of his best friends, and indeed flatmate, was Malcolm Garrett who was part of the Buzzcocks inner-circle. It was Garrett who had no hesitation in recommending McGeoch to Howard Devoto, firmly believing that his friend, notwithstanding his key influences were the blues and Eric Clapton, was an exceptional talent who would be perfect for Magazine.

He was part of that band from 1977 to 1980, playing on the first three albums, but leaving before the largely underwhelming Magic, Murder and the Weather was written and recorded. Within a matter of months, he had become a Banshee. He played on three LPs, and was also part of seven hit singles, all of which are considered to be among the best ever recorded by the band – Happy House, Israel, Spellbound, Arabian Knights, Fireworks, Slowdive and Melt!

It was this period in particular that led the likes of Johnny Marr and Jonny Greenwood to later proclaim him amongst their heroes, pointing out how his style of playing was unique, effortless and incredibly creative. It is particularly telling that they both cite his work on this song as being particularly ground-breaking and influential:-

mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Spellbound

Released in May 1981, Spellbound reached #22 in the UK charts. It was deserving of much more than that but then again, it is hard for something as distinctive and unworldly sounding to get much in the way of daytime radio play. It did spawn this Top of the Pops appearance:-

The full gothic majesty of the song is probably best appreciated in its 12” version, which lasts some 80 seconds longer:-

mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Spellbound (extended)

Here’s yer b-sides for completeness (the latter of which is among the strangest things the band ever did) :-

mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Follow The Sun
mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Slap Dash Snap

The saddest thing about John McGeoch’s time with the Banshees is the way it ended in that he suffered a nervous breakdown due to the stresses of touring and his increasing fight with alcoholism, both of which contributed to him collapsing on stage during a performance in Madrid in 1982.

He rebounded in some style, and one of the obituaries at the time of his death in 2004 said, “he transformed PiL from a left-field, experimental outfit into a provocative, marauding rock band, becoming their longest-serving member bar John Lydon, staying until the band dissipated in 1992.”

I’ve contemplated pulling together an ICA featuring songs to which John McGeogh has contributed. It’s something I will turn my attention to in the fullness of time, unless someone else fancies volunteering.

JC