REMEMBERING OUR GREAT FRIEND TIM (Part 2)

The second day of some old postings written by Tim Badger. This one was part of a double-header, part one of which had been written by SWC and which appeared on 17 December 2015. It was all to do with the two of the them ending up in the pub after the office Christmas lunch/party during which they try to agree on the best 20 albums of the year. It is probably best to use the final para of SWC’s piece to set the scene:-

“The taxi dropped Badger off at home around 11pm – it was not even a late night. I look behind me as the taxi drives away to see Badger fall into a hedge. I smile, it’s been the best Christmas party for a while. Even if I appear to have inherited a horse shaped balloon (no idea at all where that came from).

I phone Badger – his wife answers, he’s not up yet, she says.

It’s 3pm

Excellent”

Here’s Tim……………..

My wife has been doing wonderfully well since her accident she is recovering brilliantly and is now able to hop around the house on crutches with the dexterity of a gazelle on amphetamines. It is I think slightly embarrassing that here I am on the afternoon after the afternoon before at 4.10pm just about to get out of bed because I have had a ‘slight headache’.

She has won an award, the clever thing. It is some women in business thing, and as I slowly drag myself down the stairs, clutching onto the bannister for near life, like a newly walking child, she is sitting in the study (I say study, I mean small tiny spare box room), typing her speech up. She has been reading a book by a chap called Max Atkinson, who writes about the use of three-part lists in speeches. Why am I telling you this, well all will be revealed.

The night before ended with S-WC and I listing our Top 15 albums, the last 40 minutes or so of this were a ferocious argument about whether or not we were going to allow EP’s into the list. In the end I relented, we had yet to reach a decision on the Top 5 – I mean we know what they are – but not in what order. Side One of this compilation will be the tracks from 10 to 6 and where I can remember I’ll add what parts of the conversation that decided that. obviously I’ll embellish it make me sound cool and to make S-WC sound like Brian Blessed on Botox – which by the way is exactly what he looks like.

I head into the study I intend to give my wife a kiss and tell her that I am sorry for being such a lightweight. I am 48 years of age and I really should know by now that drinking the best part of a bottle of rum, six pints and three glasses of wine (I think) is not the greatest idea in the world. I remember telling my taxi driver telling me that “I was absolutely fucking shedded’ I have never used the word ‘shedded’ in my life before. I hang my head with shame.

My wife is typing away, she has her back to me, suddenly she stops and holds up one hand. Then she starts speaking “Before you step one foot inside this room, darling, you must a) Shave, b) Shower and c) Clean your teeth. Not necessarily in that order”. This reader is the three-part list I referred to above. Delivered with style and authority, the word ‘darling’ has never been said with such menacing threat. I turn around and creep back along the corridor to the bathroom.

Half an hour later I am sitting on the couch in the study cradling a cup of tea like it was my last possession. At least I am washed, shaved and my mouth no longer feels like it has a couple of angry wasps having post break up sex in it. Actually you remember that bit from Itchy and Scratchy (the cartoon within a cartoon on the Simpsons) where Scratchy (he is the cat, right?) gets his tongue pulled out by Itchy so it goes right to floor and the some dynamite gets put in it and then lit – rolled back up and his head explodes, that’s how I felt earlier on.

My phone rings it is S-WC, of course it is, he chuckles down the phone at me as I groan about my head and the last hours events. At least it sounds like his hangover was just as bad as mine. I end up inviting him round for lunch tomorrow so we can finish off the list.

It is tomorrow and S-WC are I are laughing about the Christmas Do, neither of us have been into work since then – both having sensibly taken the rest of the week off, but we understand that there is some scandal involving at least one high-ranking manager, a park bench and a ‘lady of the night’. This cheers us massively.

———–

JC adds

I can still laugh out loud at all of that…. and here now is the song the song that Tim and SWC chose as their #1 of 2015:-

mp3 : Courtney Barnett – Depreston

which they introduced with the following words:-

The most lovely song on this album (Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit) is one about house hunting. “Depreston”, it’s called—a quiet little ballad that just kind of submits itself to the noise around it. It’s the details that make this album so compelling, even down to the safety rail in the shower. Then she tells us how much it would cost to rip the whole house down again and again.

REMEMBERING OUR GREAT FRIEND TIM (Part 1)

I was at a theatre show in London recently and one of the best delivered comic lines of the night, in response to a character making a sideways reference to a dangerous animal was, “What??? A Badger?????”

I laughed out louder than I should have, and later explained to Rachel that it had felt like the sort of exchange I’d have had with Tim had I ever managed to find my way to the deepest south-west before the tragedy struck earlier this year. I do miss him, and if that’s how I feel about things, then it must still be incredibly tough for his family and the closest of his friends, so once again the sympathies of this blog, and everyone associated with it through guest postings and comments, are extended to them.

I want to use this week to revisit some songs that Tim had made mention of during his many guest postings on TVV, with the accompanying words providing a reminder of his wit, warmth and talent.

Here’s part one, and it originally appeared on 17 August 2015 as part of the Pulp ICA:-

Quite simply one of the best British singles, ever, by anyone. Absolutely their defining song, and the classic song of the Britpop era. I toyed with the idea of leaving it off just to be controversial but then I realised that I can’t write about Pulp without mentioning it. It’s too good a record. As a song it is scathing yet hilarious, deeply personal yet turns an eye to larger questions, intelligent yet simple enough to fit within a massively infectious pop melody. And to top it all, triumphant enough to close a live show.

mp3 : Pulp – Common People

There will longer, wonderfully written and occasionally surreal pieces these next few days. I really hope you enjoy reading them (and thanks to SWC for the green light to go with this mini-series).

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (10)

A GUEST POSTING by CHAVAL

Cast your minds back a couple of weeks to JC’s celebration of Chinese Bakery, a single which featured a throwaway line about “Bob Dylan on a motorbike”. For Dylan’s 1966 Woodstock crash that released him from the album/tour/voice of his generation treadmill, Haines’s equivalent was that reckless drop off a wall in San Sebastian.

As well as instilling respect for the difference between sand and concrete, Haines’s leg fractures allowed him an interval of reflection. Like some post-Britpop James Stewart in Rear Window, Haines brooded and read, and like Dylan in 1967, unleashed his creativity in several directions, only tangentially connected with the pop marketplace.

By the end of 1995 and drift into 1996, Haines’s career was all over the place. The Auteurs’ best album After Murder Park was in the can but still awaiting release. Baader Meinhof, Haines’s unhinged, brilliant homage to 70s terrorism, was about to baffle critics with its mash-up of crunching retro-funk, dub and lyrics about hijacks. Always ready to muddy the waters, The Auteurs released the Back With The Killer EP, fresh material that took Haines’s lyrical provocations further than ever, albeit expressed very succinctly (the four tracks clock in at a total of just over nine minutes).

mp3: The Auteurs – Unsolved Child Murder is as uncompromising as its title, a dark depiction of an event dragged from the news headlines and given unsettling intimacy, exploring its devastating effect on a suburban family. Haines says it was based on a childhood memory of a local doctor’s family whose child went missing, presumed dead. Haines’s 70s childhood would prove a rich and often disturbing seam of material from this point on.

Haines had covered vaguely similar territory on Daughter Of A Child on Now I’m A Cowboy, but otherwise the only indie-rock point of comparison with regard to subject matter would be The Smiths’ mawkish Suffer Little Children from their first album. Where Morrissey’s lyric is mostly adolescent melodrama, Unsolved Child Murder is a richly detailed and empathetic depiction of tragedy, irrational desperation and a viciously judgmental world, wrapped up in a gorgeously melancholic tune (the EP version is enhanced with a French horn omitted from the album track that appeared later).

Along with the title track of After Murder Park, it showed how far Haines had shifted from the usual lyrical terrain of mid 90s popular music. The band had just finished recording these tracks in Abbey Road when Paul McCartney looked in and amiably asked if he could hear what Luke had been working on. “I politely decline the ex-Beatle’s request,” Haines recalled. “I don’t want him to be the first person to hear these songs; they’re too good for him.”

This startling work merited that kind of pride, but this EP contains another masterpiece:

mp3: The Auteurs – Back With The Killer Again takes the direct route of Lenny Valentino musically, although the atmosphere is distinctly psychotic. In Tim Mitchell’s deranged non-biography of Haines the author suggests the song is about “a man who takes drugs to turn himself into a murderer”, an explanation that may have come directly from Haines. Certainly the lyric offers a disturbing cluster of allusions to nerve gas, bad dope, primed bombs . . .

Those better versed in 70s counter-culture might be able to identify all the references in the line “John got Barrett for the lot, it must have been the Microdot”. All I can offer is that the Microdot happened to be the name of the early 70s gang of underground LSD chemists eventually busted by Operation Julie (as immortalised in the Clash song), who were rumoured to have links with the German terrorists Red Army Faction aka Baader-Meinhof, bringing it all back home to Haines’s reading lists. “A damning, self-mythologising riposte to the current crock that is the UK scene,” is how Haines described the song.

If the other tracks on the EP can’t match the impact of the first two, that’s not to say they are filler.

mp3: The Auteurs – Former Fan continues the murder theme, seemingly from the viewpoint of a Mark Chapman type obsessive whose disenchantment with a former idol turns homicidal. Or it might be a twisted love song, you tell me.

mp3: The Auteurs – Kenneth Anger’s Bad Dream name-checks the underground film-maker (or “pornographer” as Haines somewhat harshly calls him when introducing the song at live shows) and keen disciple of the Satanist Aleister Crowley. Haines’s insatiable cultural curiosity is on display once again, and given a pretty, folk-rock-ish tune.

The EP reached number 45 (says Wikipedia, Haines’s memory says 48), a commercial disappointment in the hit-crazed climate of Britpop, but undeniably a remarkable achievement considering the artistic reach and lyrical ambition.

chaval

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #183: LE THUG

Fancy a little bit of shoegazing type music from Scotland?

mp3 : Le Thug – New Balance

Le Thug, from Glasgow, formed some six years ago but thus far have released just a six-track EP, Place Is, on Song, By Toad Records.

The label was recently would up by owner Matthew Young after ten fairly succesful years which means that Le Thug, are currently without a deal. Indeed, I’m not sure if the band are still in existence, as the last I thing I can find is them playing a gig at King Tut’s in Glasgow in January 2018.

A very positive review, from a Scottish broadsheet, when Place Is was released, back in 2015, will give you a flavour of the band:-

Layers of distorted guitar, a dreamy vocal pushed back in the mix, a minimal drum beat. There’s a fashion for this stuff at the moment, even an attempt to label it nu-gaze, but in most cases it only makes you want to go back and listen to original albums by My Bloody Valentine or The Jesus And Mary Chain instead. Not so with Glasgow-based trio Le Thug. Clio Alexandra MacLellan is one of those rare singers whose hauntingly addictive vocals would have seen her bracketed alongside Elizabeth Fraser back in the day; Michael Gilfedder’s guitars, especially on the monumental Basketball Land, are thick and all-enveloping; and Dann McColgan’s laptop beats and synthesiser pulses, while more mechanically insistent, introduce a musical factor from a different era that may well be the key to why Le Thug rise above the retro fad. The melody lines on this six-track EP have a deceptive simplicity but it’s the slow harmonic changes of direction that will make you swoon – those and the sheer sonic completeness of the studio production.

I was telling a white lie when I said Le Thug had released just a six-track EP; in fact, they contributed to one of what were a handful of spilt 12″ releases issued over the years by Song, By Toad, often to act as an introduction to singers and bands on the label. The song featuring today has been taken from such a spilt 12″.

mp3 : Le Thug – New Balance

And here’s a promo film that was made to accompany what many regarded as the best track on their own subsequent EP:-

JC

THE POWER OF THE PRESS – 1976 STYLE

Relying on the info on wiki to introduce this particular story.

The Saints are an Australian rock band formed in Brisbane in 1973. The band was founded by Chris Bailey (singer-songwriter, later guitarist), Ivor Hay (drummer), and Ed Kuepper (guitarist-songwriter) and began life as Kid Galahad and before taking the name The Saints in 1974. Jeffrey Wegener joined on drums and Hay switched to bass guitar. Wegener had left by 1975, Hay moved to drums and Kym Bradshaw joined on bass guitar.

Contemporaneous with Ramones, the group were employing the fast tempos, raucous vocals and “buzz saw” guitar that characterised early punk rock. Kuepper explained that they played faster and faster as they were nervous in front of audiences. The police would often break up their gigs, and arrests were frequent. Unable to obtain bookings, Bailey and Hay converted the Petrie Terrace house they shared into the 76 Club so they had a venue to play in.

In June 1976, the Saints recorded two tracks, “(I’m) Stranded” and “No Time” with Mark Moffatt producing. Unable to find any interested label, they formed Fatal Records and independently released their debut single in September.Their self-owned Eternal Promotions sent discs to radio stations and magazines both in Australia – with little local interest – and United Kingdom.

In the UK, a small label, Power Exchange, issued the single. Sounds magazine’s reviewer, Jonh Ingham, declared it, “Single of this and every week”.

mp3 : The Saints – (I’m Stranded)
mp3 : The Saints – No Time

It was this review that led to EMI in London contacting EMi in Sydney with instructions that The Saints be signed to a three-album contract. In December 1976, the group recorded their first LP, (I’m) Stranded which was released in February 1977 by which time they had also been give a support slot on an Australian tour undertaken by AC/DC.

Despite this, The Saints continued to be ignored at home. The band moved to the UK in mid-1977 but soon ran into problems with EMI who wanted to promote them as a punk band – complete with ripped clothes and spiky hair – while the group just wanted to be themselves.

In due course, they would enjoy minor chart success with the This Perfect Day hitting the Top 40 in July 1977 but the relationship with EMI soured beyond repair when the second album was full of tunes leaning heavily towards RnB and the third under the contract was more or less a jazz/blue effort. In due course, the band would disintegrate and by 1979, just Chris Bailey remained from the original members.

mp3 : The Saints – This Perfect Day

I don’t think anyone would have imagined, 40 years on, that The Saints would still be rockin’n’rollin; but sure enough they continue to tour and record, having ammassed thirteen studio albums, seventeen singles, six EPs, two live albums and ten compilation albums.  And just about every Australian musician of note has lsted them as being a key influence for one reason or another

JC

CHANGED PARTICLES (V3) : Issue #1

GREETINGS TO THE NEW REDHEAD

While jetsetting around Spain with the Villains I asked JC about getting the Charged Particles series going again. I proposed to get the ball rolling with a bit about Shirley Manson, whose name I’d casually dropped in a recent TVV post. It’s not much of a story, but it fits in nicely with another Charged Particles entry about my gym buddy Chris, who turned out to be a Foo Fighter. So, here you go:

THE SHIRLEY MANSON STORY

My wife, the beautiful Goldie the Friendly Therapist (GTFP), has a childhood friend named Lisa, whose boyfriend was a nice guy named Dan. “You’ll like Dan,” Goldie told me, “he’s a bassist in some band.” The band turned out to be Garbage. Dan wasn’t one of the four principal band members but he had recorded and toured with them. When Lisa and Dan got married I was hoping the band would be there because I was really interested in talking to Butch Vig. I didn’t listen to Garbage; nothing against them but just not my thing. But Butch Vig! With the possible exception of OK Computer I don’t think there was a more important rock record in the 90’s than Nevermind, and Vig was the guy that produced it for Nirvana!

The wedding took place on a classic Hollywood summer night at a 1920’s hilltop mansion. Probably because of Goldie’s long friendship with the bride, we were put at the band table. The Garbage table, as it were. Before I could position myself next to Butch Vig, Shirley Manson sat herself down at the corner on my left, gave me a big smile, reached out her hand and said, “Hi! I’m Shirley.” “I know who you are,” I smiled back. Then we chatted for the next 3 hours. I can say from personal experience that she is an absolute sweetheart. She has what can be called a charming laugh, and she laughed a lot that night. No airs or pretensions whatsoever; no need to call any attention to herself. Never having heard her interviewed, I was surprised at her thick Scottish accent. For some reason we got to talking about David Beckham, who I think had just been sold to Real Madrid. “Ach, e’s pew say wept!” said Shirley. It took me a moment to understand she was saying that Beckham was pussy-whipped by Posh. Then she did a pretty funny imitation of their appearance on Da Ali G. Show.

I don’t really remember what else we talked about. I just recall that she was super friendly, asked loads of questions, laughed quite a bit, didn’t talk about herself, and was a lot of fun. Later in the evening a few of the band left the table and went off to smoke cigars on a veranda looking down the hillside. I like a cigar and was regretting I hadn’t thought to bring one of my own. Shirley must have noticed my envious look because she turned to me and said, “Oh! Would you like a cigar?” and popped off somewhere before I could answer. She returned and presented one for me. So I nicked off to the smokers and had a cigar. With Butch Vig.

Goldie has a theory that I’m constantly running into famous folks because I am the least starstruck person there is. There are thousands of celebrities in Los Angeles, but very few are celebrated for doing something intelligent, or for being kind souls, so I’m just not interested. I used to work at a firm that did a lot of industry work which involved meeting loads of famous people, and there are very few I’d like to meet again. And I figure that people just want to be left alone anyway.

At the end of the night Shirley gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek and said, “Lovely talking with you, sweetie!” I’d love to tell you that rock stars and international sex symbols naturally gravitate to me, but it was just happenstance. She might remember the night, because it was a very beautiful wedding of one of her close friends, but I sincerely doubt that Shirley Manson would have the faintest idea of who I am or was. It was a good cigar, though.

Garbage – Medication

JTFL

JC adds – in case anyone wasn’t aware, all charged particle songs must end with the letters -ion.

 

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #230 : THE LYRES

A GUEST POSTING by HYBRID SOC PROF,
our Michigan Correspondent

So, if I have a clear memory from 1992 (and I guess I still have a few…), it is the first time I pulled the Mexican R’n’B record from its sleeve, put in on the turntable and dropped a needle on it… pure, unadulterated sonic joy. I was bouncing all around Studio B at KZSC. I’d really liked the Bevis Frond’s psychedelic noodling and pretty much everything from the gloriously low-fi world of Billy Childish, but, jeez, The Stairs, they satisfied my 1967 jones, they hit the sweet spot of my retro-60s fanboy affections… and not taking themselves at all seriously made it SO much better.

I’d been well-primed for The Stairs by a raft of bands – mostly from New England and many with some kind of tie to the Boston scene in the early 80s. The Chesterfield Kings, The Fleshtones, The Fuzztones and The Real Kids come to mind… but, for me, the cream of the crop was The Lyres. The Fleshtones played at my college and blew the roof off the old library we used as an indie venue, but I had to go into Philadelphia to see The Lyres.

I have no idea where I saw them, just that it was arctic outside and hellish inside that night. The opening bands were local and terrible – much like the “metal” bands my now-wife and I saw open for Pere Ubu in San Francisco a decade later – but the Lyres started off on fyre and never let up. Dancing wasn’t like a mosh pit but it had that energy and sweat, a lot of sweat. The songs came fast and furious until we were just about broken… and they’d save us with a ballad, maybe two, before testing our stamina with another blitz of ever-accelerating songs. My clothes almost froze on the way back to school – leaning back into the rear seat was like propping myself up on ice – but, before my knees went bad and my wife had two kids and I put on weight, I’d have done it again in a heartbeat.

Their albums have a ton of energy but their shows were radiated garage band boy-dom. We knew it was stripped down, we knew it was kinda dumb, but my friends and I were 19 or 20 and it was about girls – those we desired, those who’d dumped us, those we desired because they’d dumped us, the ones we’d dumped but desired to have desire us and every other permutation and combination of those things imaginable. It was rock… and there were young women about.

The Lyres definitely had a peak period there in the early 80s, though they held on for quite a while and reformed once or twice but, lord, what a peak. There’s something about the world of the Nuggets, Pebbles, Boulders and other collections of independent “garage” music from the 60s – whether distilled into Los Angeles power pop variants, exploding into a Detroit-driven fury, or looking back romantically to a small set, a bass, and guitar and a singer out front – optimally one who can play organ/keyboards – that never dies, periodically flourishes and is a boatload of fun.

If you still need a frame of reference, think of The Sonics, whether their original 1960s or more recent 21st century work. Here’s to the Lyres and the world of post-punk that sought pre-punk garage punk joy.

Because they were primarily about live gigs, their records couldn’t contain everything they played, whether originals or covers and so this selection is from a smaller number of albums than usual. It happens…

The Lyres – You’ll Never Do It Baby – from Lyres Lyres (1986)
The Lyres – I Love Her Still – from Lyres Lyres (1986)
The Lyres – You Won’t be Sad Anymore – from Lyres Lyres (1986)
The Lyres – Not Like the Other One – from On Fyre (1984)
The Lyres – Love Me Till the Sun Shines – from On Fyre (1984)
The Lyres – Getting’ Plenty Lovin’ – from Shitkickers (1995)
The Lyres – Soapy – from On Fyre (1984)
The Lyres – Help You Ann – from On Fyre (1984)
The Lyres – She Pays the Rent – from the collection, Lyres (1981)
The Lyres – Knock My Socks Off – from A Promise is a Promise (1988)

HSP