SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #201 : MALCOLM MIDDLETON

It’s time for Falkirk’s finest to get his solo slot in this series. I’ve written loads about him in the past. He’s long been one of my favourites. Here’s the bio from his own website:-

Malcolm Middleton is a guitarist and songwriter best known for his work with the Scottish alternative rock band Arab Strap. Over the course of 10 years they released 6 studio albums before splitting in 2006. They reformed in 2016 for some 20th anniversary concerts and are currently working on a new album for release in 2020.

Malcolm has continued to write and perform as a solo artist and has released seven albums, most recently “Bananas” in 2018. As well as collaborating with artists such as David Shrigley and Mira Calix, he has composed soundtracks for the films Rogue Farm (2004), Munro (2009) and The Closer We Get (2015).

He also writes and performs under the name Human Don’t Be Angry and released the third album “Guitar Variations” in November 2019.

Here’s one side of a digital single from April 2019. It was recorded during the sessions for Bananas and the two songs feature a couple of talented guests on backing vocals.

mp3 : Malcolm Middleton – Scaffolding

If you like it, please feel free to click here and make a purchase, for only £2, of a hi-quality version along with its equally entertaining b-side. You’ll also be able to learn who provided the backing vocals.

Oh, and this post is doubling up as another entry for the stuff I bought in 2019.

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 9)

A GUEST SERIES

39. Whatever – Oasis (1994 Creation Records)

Released as a single in December 1994 (Reached Number 3)

There used be this ‘indie club’ at University, (it wasn’t called Indie Club, it was called ‘No Wave’ which was sort of clever, but I called it Indie Club after the Fast Show sketch) basically a bunch of like-minded kids (usually boys to be fair) who thought they were cool because they liked guitar music and not Robbie Williams. We used to meet on a Thursday and plan discos and try to get live bands to come and play in our student union.

Mainly though, we were just trying to impress cute indie girls who wore skinny jeans and Converse trainers. Sadly for us, we all looked like the drummer from Shed Seven, even if we thought we looked like Jude Law.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned Frank or not before. Frank was strange. He was obsessed with being the most indie, or having the most records (to the point where he used to steal records and CDs off of DJs when they were not looking), or telling us that he heard a band first. Frank, is one of those people, will claim to have seen a band when they were just beginning.

He for instance, claims to have definitely have been in the audience at Oasis’ Water Rats show in London (27th January 1994), a legendary show that took place weeks before they became superstars. Roughly 73,000 people claim to have been at that show, when the capacity of the Water Rats was about 200.

Towards the end of the winter semester at University, indie club had its Christmas party. About halfway through one of the guys who was DJing decided to play the new Oasis single – which was the six minute string laden epic ‘Whatever’. Frank nodded along to it and then said “Oh they’ve finally released this, of course they debuted it at the Water Rats Show,”, then shifted in his seat and said the applause at the end, is taken from that show…”

Ok Frank. Whatever.

For the record, and I’ve just looked this up, I didn’t know this at the time – Oasis played six songs that night staring with ‘Shakermaker’ and ending with ‘Supersonic’ – they definitely did not play ‘Whatever’ as far as I know, it didn’t even exist at the end of January 1994.

‘Whatever’ was released in December 1994 a week before Christmas and the band were convinced it was going to be the Christmas Number one. You can hear this at the end of the track as it descends into applause and members of the bands roaring “Number One!” and “OASIS!!” in the background, in the studio, not, you know live at a sweaty flea pit in London.

It’s a bit laddish to be fair, but before all that nonsense you get this string laden affair (the band hired a proper orchestra for those bits in a pique of musical maturity) which compliments Liam’s vocals and the band’s music. What’s great about ‘Whatever’ is the arrangement. The way that is starts with that string section and the band join in gradually is great.

Then as the songs goes on the exact reverse happens, first Liam songs singing, then the guitars stopped, then the drums stopped before all that is left is the same strings that you heard at the start. It’s a masterpiece.

One of the B-Sides ain’t half bad either

Slide Away

SWC

 

 

THEY CAME FROM A BAD AND LOWDOWN WORLD

There’s been many mentions on this blog about Kitchenware Records, including a guest ICA by David Ashley back in June 2018. I’ve reflected a fair bit on Prefab Sprout and Martin Stephenson & The Daintees, but there hasn’t, until now, been a posting solely on The Kane Gang.

David’s ICA opened with a track by The Kane Gang and he summarised things by saying they were a three piece and much more soul than jangly guitar based, while making the observation that some of their songs hadn’t dated well.

He’s bang on the money with the former in that the trio are one of the few white acts to ever enjoy success on the American Black R&B chart but maybe a tad harsh about the songs dating, notwithstanding there is very much an 80s production style to the fore, as some of their numbers still fit in perfectly nowadays with the music you hear on easy-listening stations such as Smooth Radio.

So….who were the Kane Gang?

They were a trio of lads from the north-east of England, consisting of vocalists Martin Brammer and Paul Woods, plus multi-instrumentalist Dave Brewis. The three had been together from school, originally as The Reptile House and then as The Kings Of Cotton, the latter playing live around the Sunderland area with the aid of backing tapes. They eventually attracted the attention of the 23-year old Keith Armstrong who had not longed founded Kitchenware Records and thought their take on soul and gospel music had commercial potential.

Their debut 7” single, in 1983, was fourth release on Kitchenware (it had the catalogue number SK5 but that was because SK1 had been a video of a live gig featuring none of the band of the label!).

mp3 : The Kane Gang – Brother Brother

Like all the early Kitchenware releases, it didn’t do very much in terms of sales outside of the north-east but the follow-up, in reaching #60 in May 1984, provided the label with its first taste of chart success, albeit minor:-

mp3 : The Kane Gang – Smalltown Creed (12″ version)

It was a song that, in part, celebrated their northern roots and the fact that singers and bands didn’t have to venture to London anymore in order to get music out to the masses. There was an eventual downside to this song in that a Radio 1 DJ, who attracted a large audience to his daily lunchtime shows, felt there was a great jingle to be made out of the chorus and, rather sadly, it is that snippet of music that most folk will recognise rather than any of their songs.

Just two months later, Kitchenware finally hit payola when The Kane Gang took a mournful and soulful ballad, complete with tear-jerking harmonica moments into the Top 20:-

mp3 : The Kane Gang – The Closest Thing To Heaven

The trio were already at an advanced stage with their debut album but instead of it being released in time for the Christmas market, a decision was taken to delay it until early 1985 and instead to go with a further single in November 1984 around which they undertook a live tour, including a gig at Strathclyde University Students Union that I managed to get along too. The new single, which would peak at #21, was a cover of a song by the Staple Sisters, an American gospel/soul band who had enjoyed commercial success in the last 60s and throughout the 70s:-

mp3 : The Kane Gang – Respect Yourself

I was really excited about the gig at the student union as it had been announced beforehand the trio would be accompanied by a full band, including Donald Johnson from A Certain Ratio on drums. It turned out to be a disappointment and my overwhelming feeling from the night was one of boredom and being underwhelmed. Maybe the expectations were too high and I was anticipating some sort of fast-paced and energetic show from start to end, but for a group who had been in the singles charts for the best part of the previous five months, there felt like there was a lack of conviction or belief in the performance.

Having said that, maybe I was in the minority as it turns out that a recording of the gig was made available many years later as a bonus disc in the 30th anniversary re-issue of their debut album.

The Bad and Lowdown World of The Kane Gang hit the shops in February 1985. It’s a decent enough record but the problem was that it contained only nine songs, of which its three strongest had all been released previously as singles. It did enter the charts at a respectable enough #21 but quickly dropped away, with the accompanying flop single not doing much to help matters:-

mp3 : The Kane Gang – Gun Law

The strange thing about The Kane Gang is that as they drifted further away from view in the UK, they began to make inroads in the USA.

The follow-up album, Miracle, didn’t appear until August 1987, on the back of what had been another single that stalled outside the Top 40:-

mp3 : The Kane Gang – Motortown

The single did go Top 40 on the other side of the ocean and its follow-up, a cover of a single by Dennis Edwards (ex Temptations), took The Kane Gang to the top of the R&B charts:-

mp3 : The Kane Gang – Don’t Look Any Further

Things somewhat stalled after that and the trio called it a day at the beginning of the 90s. Martin Brammer has now forged a career as a songwriter for hire, being responsible for chart hits by the likes of Lighthouse Family, Mark Owen, Rachel Stevens, Tina Turner, James Morrison, Beverley Knight, Ronan Keating and Olly Murs, all of which means he could have a Golden Hour on Smooth Radio devoted entirely to his work. Not that I’d be tuning in…….

JC

STUFF BOUGHT IN 2019 (5)

It was back in July 2017 that I gave the most fleeting of mentions to Sacred Paws, congratulating the duo on their debut recording, Strike A Match, winning the Scottish Album of the Year award. I’m annoyed with myself that I failed to follow up with a feature on what is a really enjoyable and unusual listen, certainly in comparison to the sounds most closely associated with Glasgow. Hopefully this appreciation of the sophomore offering goes some way to rectifying things.

Sacred Paws is made up of Rachel Aggs (vocals, guitar) and Eilidh Rodgers (vocals, drums) who have known each other for years through various bands they have been part of.  It was back in 2015 that they decided to work together, although things were complicated a bit by the fact that Rachel was living in London and Eilidh was in Glasgow. The development of technology and home recording has perhaps made such geographical issues less than a problem than they were a few decades ago but it still meant that things weren’t rushed.

The duo were signed to Rock Action, the label owned by Mogwai, and the first fruits of their labour was the Six Songs EP , released to a fair bit of buzz round these parts thanks to an energetic blend of spiky guitars, funky drumming/percussion lines and vocals that were chanted as often as they were sung which really made for a breath of fresh air. Throw in the fact that the girls were clearly enjoying themselves on stage and you had a decent recipe for success.

The debut album took over where the EP had ended, delivered with just a bit more polish and confidence. It gave a few nods to the 80s female-led bands such as The Slits and The Raincoats while the increased use of upbeat African-style drumming provided a real energy that bordered on the infectious. It made for a hugely entertaining listen and was a deserving winner of SAY 2017, albeit the vast majority of people in the country had never heard of them nor, with next to radio play, had heard any of the songs.

Sacred Paws had a rather quiet 18 months on the back of winning the award, with just a handful of live appearances and no new material.  Rock Action didn’t try hard to cash in on the increased profile with an re-release of earlier material and instead encouraged the duo to go about things in the way they themselves most wanted. Rachel re-located to Glasgow which meant they could spend more time writing and arranging the new material but it did take until the end of May 2019 for the follow-up Run Around The Sun to hit the shops.

Having said that, it had been preceded by a couple of digital singles and a BBC Radio 6 session with Marc Riley, who in effect is becoming a part-replacement for John Peel in terms of providing a platform for bands to come into a studio to band out three or four songs in one go to be broadcast to the nation. I was delighted with the singles which indicated that the duo weren’t tampering with what had made them so interesting to begin with. The album proved to be a huge delight, again full of bright, sunny and infectiously happy songs that were very welcom in a year when so many events and happenings seemed to cast a long shadow.

mp3 : Scared Paws – The Conversation
mp3 : Sacred Paws – Brush Your Hair

It’s an album that I’ve found myself prone to putting on while I’m embarking on a road or rail journey, and outside the skies are dark and brooding while the rain batters off the windows – it is the perfect antidote to such situations and as I sit back and close my eyes, I’m transported thousands of miles south to where the sun is beating down and the mood and vibes are carefree. And when the last of its ten songs comes to an end after a little more than 32 minutes, I’ll hit the repeat button.

JC

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #241 : QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE (2)

Queens of the Stone Age (w/ bonus Desert Sessions EP!)

A GUEST POSTING by HYBRID SOC PROF,
our Correspondent from the Wilds of mid-Michigan

There are folks who call Josh Homme “Ginger Elvis”… I didn’t know that when, about two years ago, I caught a re-run of Queens of the Stone Age’s 2013 performance at Austin City Limits and thought: “he’s simply got to be the sexiest man in rock ‘n’ roll!” Is it the more subtle version of Elvis’ hips? the underlying pain, restlessness and experience behind those blue eyes? the wry humor in the lines around his eyes or and deep joy in his smile? I have to believe there are folks who’ve written: “I’m not gay but…”

A lot like my relationship with Tool, I arrived late to the Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) party. In my 20s during the nightmare hell of 80s poseur/party hair-metal bands, the only response I had for MTV metal was no, just no. Granted, I made up ways to define bands other people said were metal so that they weren’t metal… because I liked that one or this one, but we all make excuses, yes?

Again, like Tool, Homme’s first band, Kyuss, was categorized as “experimental metal” in something I read in the 90s and, as a result, I dismissed them out of hand. Similar things were said about QOTSA – and the name sounded stupid – so there was no way they were getting a serious listen. I even tried an EP they shared with another band, Beaver, and I liked Beaver’s songs better (especially “Morocco,” you should check it out.) Anyway, if I was looking for power chords and gloriously volume, the first Killing Joke album, Big Black’s single, “Il Duce,” or Screaming Trees’ cover of Buffalo’s throbbing 1972 non-hit “Freedom,” all sufficed. What’d I need experimental metal for?

And then, as so often happens when I’ve made reactive choices, the universe knocks you upside your head. A decade after dismissing QOTSA, I found out that Mark Lanegan – and who doesn’t love Mark Lanegan?! – had sung with them. I mean , c’mon, I’d dismissed these guys and Mark was just making me look bad… Of course, I’d heard that Dave Grohl played with them, too, but Foo Fighters at the time were on the ascendant and I found them monotonic and formulaic “alternative” power pop. But, Lanegan. Crap. So, before checking out the back catalog, I tried 2013’s … Like Clockwork. Listening to it as I drove the used Volvo wagon north on the highway to the university where I teach it was nothing special, why were the reviews so great? What had Lanegan seen?

I don’t know why, but a week later, I listened with earbuds in. It wasn’t the same record, there were layers upon layers and rhythms upon rhythms and that odd stuff Homme does with his voice made sense and, wow, what a record! I didn’t love every song but each and every one made sense as part of a totality. So, maybe it was time to track down the back catalog.

The last Kyuss release was called Queens of the Stone Age (1997) so I’ve included it. It’s an OK EP, I’ve included the best cut, “If Only Everything.” In looking back, what started to irritate me was that I wasn’t at all sure this was metal, why was this called metal? It seemed way more about guitars – it even reminded me a little of Swervedriver. Did that mean I didn’t know what metal was? Had it splintered and fractured in bizarre ways? Had the genre never made any sense to start with? Or do reviewers in the 21st C simply not know what to do with loud guitars that aren’t “alternative”? Sigh. In any event, the first, self-titled record – once again Queens of the Stone Age (1998) – had quite “interesting” cover art. That photo and the fact that it’s my favorite in the set meant that I had to select “Regular John” for the ICA.

Rated R (2000) is the record I am pretty sure I read the full review of when it came out and it’s a consistent group of songs but has no real standout – at least not for me. I considered “Monsters in the Parasol” but “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” fit better in the emerging flow of the ICA as I put it together. Lanegan sang some on Rated R but he’s much more evident, to me, on Songs for the Deaf (2002). I don’t know if it was his involvement, but this is, overall, a very strong, if wildly uneven, set of songs. (Apparently, the band was a little bit out of control at the time.) I had to fight myself to include only two songs on the ICA but settled on “No One Knows” and “God is in the Radio” as most representative. I love the angular/martial rhythm that explodes right off the mark on “No One Knows” and the throbbing menace of “God is in the Radio” feeds a side of me usually repressed since I no longer play right back.

Just avoid Stone Age Complication (2004), it’s a collection of B-sides and the like and simply doesn’t work. Apparently, it was released without the band’s input. Songs for the Deaf and the extensive touring they did in support of it had made the band an international name and Lullabies to Paralyze (2005) solidified that position. As I was moving through the catalog, however, it became pretty clear to me that Homme, and others in his band, were center pivots in a world of spin-offs and related bands in LA – connected to everyone from Jack Black to Billy Gibbons, Dave Ween to Trent Reznor. Was all THIS why they were considered metal? Lullabies is another record that gets two songs. “Medication” and “Little Sister” are really strong – were great on that Austin City Limits show – and serve to hold the ICA together across two major transitions.

I liked Era Vulgaris (2007) but don’t find myself listening to it much, which might mean I don’t really like it that much. I think I like bits and pieces as songs, but it doesn’t really work as an album. I really like “Misfit Love,” though. I almost chose “I Sat by the Ocean” or “If I Had a Tail” – from … Like Clockwork (2013) to get at the different kinds of emotions and playfulness the band can provide but “I Appear Missing” immediately struck me as the song to start the ICA off with and there wasn’t room for the others. If you were a hip-hop DJ, the break is from 0:37 to 1:04. This was the record they were touring for when they played Austin and, by accident, I had fallen into the best record to introduce me to the band. Not only was it a return after the death of a band member, turnover in other areas, serious illness and a variety of side-projects, it’s a much more diverse group of songs than on previous albums. It sounds like stock music writing but there’s a maturity to the songwriting, the emotions, and how listenable it is.

Villains (2017) is the latest release. To be honest, I bought it, gave it a listen and life with teenagers intervened, and continues to intervene. I need to get back to it but, in a cursory re-review “Un-Reborn Again” stood out and perfectly anchors “Side A” of the ICA.

Did I mention that Homme convinced Iggy Pop to record his last record, backed him on it and was his touring band in support of it… and, when I saw them in Detroit, they couldn’t have been tighter?

There’s a bonus EP in this ICA… the format evolves? Homme, from the get-go, appears to have been an intense collaborator. And, more than that, his collaborations often turned into workshops. When I was looking around to discover more about Homme – particularly after he recorded the third episode of Guitar Moves, Matt Sweeney’s interview series for Noisey (Vice) (on youtube) – I found two volume sets of recordings called the Desert Sessions. I treat Desert Sessions and the band in my files, Even though it’s not really a band, the sets are really compilations, either… The 12 volumes have people from Danzig, The Dwarves, The Eagles of Death Metal, Hole, Lords of Altamont Marilyn Manson, The Miracle Workers, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Primus, Scissor Sisters, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden, The Vandals, Ween, ZZ Top and more participating, so there’s a lot going on. As workshopping, however, the songs are often more “interesting” than “good” – to my way of thinking. An EP’s-worth of sampling lies after the ICA.

As always,

HSP

SIDE A

Queens of the Stone Age – I Appear Missing – from … Like Clockwork (2013)
Queens of the Stone Age – The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret – from Rated R (2000)
Queens of the Stone Age – Medication – from Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)
Kyuss – If Only Everything – from Queens of the Stone Age (1997)
Queens of the Stone Age – Un-Reborn Again – from Villains (2017)

SIDE B

Queens of the Stone Age – Regular John – from Queens of the Stone Age (1998)
Queens of the Stone Age – Little Sister – from Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)
Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows – from Songs for the Deaf (2002)
Queens of the Stone Age – Misfit Love – from Era Vulgaris (2007)
Queens of the Stone Age – God is in the Radio – from Songs for the Dead (2002)

Bonus EP

Desert Sessions – I Wanna Make It Wit Chu – Volumes 9 & 10 (2003)
Desert Sessions – Like a Drug – Volumes 5 & 6 (1999)
Desert Sessions – Cowards Way Out – Volumes 1 & 2 (1998)
Desert Sessions – The Gosso King of Crater Lake – Volumes 3 & 4 (1998)
Desert Sessions – Powdered Wig Machine – Volumes 9 & 10 (2003)

JC adds..…..

I’d actually forgotten how many great songs QoSTA had released over the year.  They are a particular favourite of Mrs Villain, so I know a fair bit of the material.  Also worth mentioning that the Ginger Elvis did some great work on production duties with Arctic Monkeys.

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 8)

A GUEST SERIES

40. Hotel Yorba – The White Stripes (2001 XL Recordings)

Released as a single in November 2001 (Reached Number 26)

In December 2001 I was asked (Ok I offered) to DJ for an hour or so at the staff Christmas party.

I turned up, had my dinner, (weirdly this was at an Italian restaurant and Christmas Dinner featuring pasta and not roast potatoes), and then took to the DJ Booth (I say booth it was a table with a machine on it). Back then it was all about CDs still, and I used a double CD player to throw down a few tunes as the boss plied me with free alcohol. The CDs were supplied by the restaurant and consisted mainly of that years ‘NOW’ releases, although I had bought a few of my own.

As the alcohol flowed I got a bit more daring, and started to stray of away from the stack of NOW CDs and that is when I dropped ‘Hotel Yorba’ by The White Stripes to bunch of bemused middle aged drunk people. Straight After ‘9 to 5’ by Dolly Parton and just before ‘Kung Fu’ by Ash.

‘Hotel Yorba’ was the first White Stripes single to really impact on the British Music scene. It was the lead single from their album ‘White Blood Cells’. It was certainly the first single of theirs to trouble the UK charts. At the time the NME were really hyping the band and this helped to increase their exposure.

Most of you probably know that the Hotel Yorba actually exists, it can according to Wikipedia, be found on the I75 in Detroit and is now a housing project. According to Jack White, the Beatles once stayed at the Hotel Yorba, a story that is sadly untrue.

The band also filmed most of the video outside of the building because again according to rumour, the band were banned for life from the building…..despite which the single version of ‘Hotel Yorba’ claims to have been recorded live in Room 206 of the Hotel Yorba!

The B Side was a track called ‘Rated X’ which I can’t find my version of – what I do have though is an acoustic version of ‘Hotel Yorba’ in which Meg White apparently plays ‘Cardboard Box’ again its recorded live at ‘The Hotel Yorba’

Hotel Yorba (live at the Hotel Yorba)

A few months later The White Stripes went global and went on to be on the biggest and best bands of the first decade of the century. I picked Hotel Yorba because it came at a time when music was a little stagnant. They, The Strokes and a couple of others all spearheaded a new wave of bands that dragged British music into that new century.

SWC

JC adds (from wiki):-

“Rated “X”” is a 1972 single written and recorded by Loretta Lynn. “Rated ‘X'” was Lynn’s sixth number one country single as a solo artist. The single spent one week at number one and a total of fourteen weeks on the chart. The song dealt with the stigma faced by divorced women during the early 1970s, and was regarded as somewhat controversial at the time, due to its frank language.

In 2001, a live version was used as the B-side of the “Hotel Yorba” single by The White Stripes.

mp3 : The White Stripes – Rated X (live at the Hotel Yorba)

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (20)


Television in the 1970s was a completely different beast to what it is today, with just the three channels available in the UK to entertain the masses, none of which broadcast very early in the morning or very later at night. Saturday afternoons saw BBC1 and ITV offer up sports programmes, while BBC2 would carry an old movie, more often than not from the era when Hollywood churned out Westerns and John Wayne was a global star.

ITV’s offering was a show called World of Sport, hosted by Dickie Davies whose name would later feature in a song by Half Man Half Biscuit.

mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Dickie Davies Eyes

Worth mentioning, in passing, that Brian Moore, who was another stalwart of World of Sport as the main football presenter, gets namechecked in the lyric of the above song.

Anyways, I can hear you wondering what the hell all this has to do with Luke Haines, so let me explain….and I’ll get there in the end.

World of Sport followed a formula each week. It started at 12.15 and ended five hours later, opening with a segment on football and closing with the all the football results from across the country, along with some reports of the games where cameras had been present and would feature on highlights programmes the following day. Much of the afternoon was taken up by horse-racing, with seven races from two or more tracks shown back-to-back, always destined to finish by 3.45 when the half-time football scores were read out.

The key time for World of Sport was the 4-4.45pm slot, the period in which they wanted to retain their viewers who only tuned in for the football scores and news. They chose to do this by offering up 45 minutes of wrestling in which you tuned in to the antics of a group of middle-aged men where the theatrics and story-lines were more important than the sport itself. In many ways, it was like being allowed to watch a pantomime, once a week, from the confines of your living room, complete with a cast of regular good guys and villains, with the latter inevitably being on the receiving end for the most part, albeit sometimes they were allowed to win to enable a new storyline to emerge or develop.

Luke Haines spent much of his young childhood watching the wrestling, and to be fair he wasn’t alone. At its very peak, the wrestling attracted 12 million viewers, which was around 25% of the viewing public in the UK. I was something of a devotee, spending every other Saturday afternoon between the ages of 5 and 12, when I wasn’t at the football with my dad, in the company of my maternal grandparents, and my nan loved the wrestling like nothing else on the telly. The names and faces of the participants are still fresh in my memory and I can still hear the mid-Atlantic twang of the commentator, Kent Walton, who covered the sport for more than 30 years until a new controller of the channel decided it had run its course and pulled World of Sport from the schedules.

Luke Haines took his childhood memories and turned them into a concept album that he released in 2011. In a career packed with strange and bold statements, 9 ½ Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s & Early ’80s is among the most bizarre….(to this point in time at least – there’s a few things just around the corner as will be revealed)

I said earlier that this was a concept album, but that would tend to suggest it had some sort of story line with a beginning, a middle and an end. Instead, the album offers up songs/tunes/spoken word numbers, all of which are in some way related to the characters who appeared on the television screens on Saturday afternoons in the 70s and early 80s between 4pm and 4.45pm, but which have their own narrative rather than then being interlinked.

It’s an incredible piece of fictional work, albeit memories of Haines’s upbringing are woven into the imaginary and fantastical tales of real-life characters such as Rollerball Rocco, Gorgeous George, Catweazle, Mick McManus, Count Bartelli, Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Kendo Nagasaki. There’s one thing I can tell you and that it’s not an album that would translate to a show in the west end of London or on Broadway.

The release of 9 ½ Meditations stirred up a huge amount of debate. Was Haines being particularly thrawn (a Scottish word for crooked or perverse)? Had he gone too far with his efforts to demonstrate that he was not your archetypal bloke with a record contract, far removed from those who every breath and bit of energy was devoted to commercial and mainstream success? Or was he genuinely, having just passed his 40th birthday, doing what so many do at that age and reflect back on more innocent and perhaps happy times? After all, jumping on the nostalgia train has made many a pretty penny for its passengers…..

The debate may have been wide-ranging but the conclusion of almost all reviewers was that the album was very much worth a listen, with most folk giving it a solid, 7 or 8 out of 10. Maybe the best summary of it all came from J.R. Moore writing for Drowned in Sound:-

The first thing that makes an impression is the humour. This is not a comedy album, however. It is a very personal project, inspired by a childhood enthusiasm for the sport and by watching wrestling with his father. The first lines “I was trying my best to understand / How a beautiful bouncing baby becomes an ‘orrible man / As a child I thought I’d grow up to become a dancer / But I became a fighter”, could apply as much to Haines as to any wrestler, and also evoke universal feelings of lost youth and innocence. As well as Haines’ own past, it is also about history in a larger sense; he is analysing a version of Britain that no longer exists.

J.R Moore? Surely it wasn’t his old mate from Black Box Recorder providing a leg-up?????

It’s an album that wasn’t really ever going to win him any new fans, but it was one that appealed greatly to those of us who had followed him with interest through the years or those re-attracted to him as a result of reading the hilarious and enlightening (and occasionally score-settling) Bad Vibes. It also felt as if Luke Haines, for the first time in a while, was seemingly enjoying being a recording artist again, that is if it can ever be said that Luke Haines is capable of enjoying anything via the creative process.

No singles were taken from the album. Here’s a track in which one of the wrestlers from the era grapples with a new piece of musical gadgetry:-

mp3 : Luke Haines – Big Daddy Got A Casio VL Tone

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #200 : MAGIC EYE

Here’s an intro you might be familiar with:-

The hard drive contains a substantial number of singers/bands of whom I have the foggiest. They are there because they have:-

(a) contributed to a compilation album/CD that I’ve got in the collection; or

(b) been downloaded from another blog or site and I’ve been too lazy or stupid to keep note of the original posting.

And once again, today’s one-off is in the former camp. I do actually have three of their songs on the hard drive, courtesy of two being included within a split 12” single and the other offered as part of a sampler given away by Matthew Young, the owner of Song, By Toad Records in 2013.

Magic Eye were from Edinburgh, and there was a really good write-up of them in a broadsheet paper published in that very city, on 6 July 2012:-

If you can say one thing about Edinburgh’s Magic Eye, it’s that they are aptly named.

They make music that seems vague and opaque on a first listen but rewards close attention with the emergence of points of reference, texture and new angles.

The band themselves describe their sound as ‘aquarium rock’ and it’s not a bad way of illustrating the heady mix of reverb, phaser, flanger and chorus that swamps their recordings. Don’t mistake their use of effects as reliance or a crutch though – there are real songs in there, with proper hooks to get under your skin.

Formed by three flatmates – Alex Johnston, Bek Oliva and Roma Galloway – the line-up was completed by Francis Dosoo on drums and they set about recording their first EP. Released just last month on New York label Animal Image Search, the band also went on a UK tour to support it, playing gigs in London and Brighton with Female Band and finishing up with some Scottish dates alongside Tangles and Mother Ganga.

In terms of influences, Alex says that they “really like The KLF, Keith Sweat, and Delia Derbyshire” but that “the Durrutti Column informed the sound at the start because that’s what we were listening to”. While traces of the Mancunian post-punks can certainly be detected in the guitar tones and overall aesthetic, you can also hear shades of the Cocteau Twins in the atmospheres and melodies.

Alex believes the future looks bright for the Scottish music scene, principally because it is becoming less parochial. “The Scottish music scene is good, but all the good stuff feels more worldwide than Scottish which is cool,” he says. “LuckyMe do super good club nights and releases in Scotland. Rustie and Hudson Mohawke blow our minds!”

It’s clear from the way the band talks about music that they are not only creators but voracious consumers too, leading you to conclude that there is nothing accidental about their sound, and that they know exactly how they want to be heard.

The future looks busy for the group too, with a split 12” coming out in November on the reliable barometer of taste that is Song, By Toad Records, and a full album which is going through the mixing process now.

Judging by what’s available on Discogs, the optimistic future envisaged didn’t quite pan out. The split 12” was followed not by any full album on vinyl but by a limited edition cassette in 2014, after which they appear to have called it a day.

Here’s the song that Matthew made available via the sampler.

mp3 : Magic Eye – Golden Circle

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #240 : BEASTIE BOYS

This is a first in the ICA series.

The download is just one track, but it has a running time of 60 minutes and 30 seconds. If you give it a listen, you’ll find it is made up of 17 tunes as my stab at including the Beastie Boys in the series.

I’ve given it a particular title in homage to both the New Yorkers and to the district of Glasgow in which I have gone to work for the past 12 years.

It is also the 2,500th post on this reincarnated version of the blog.

The rest of today’s words have been sampled.

NO SLEEP TILL BRIDGETON


(a) Check It Out

Acting as the opener to their first album of the ’00s, ‘To The 5 Boroughs’, the band showed no signs of growing up on this bombastic hit. While the mainstream embraced a new generation of rap heroes like 50 Cent and Kanye West, this 2004 hit showed that The Beasties could still hang with the best and have way more fun while doing it.

(b) Shake Your Rump

This is music from another plane entirely, where ideas and sound-pictures collide, shatter and are reassembled into something new, all in an instant. It’s a sample collage, but it’s also a sculpture. There’s no way it should work with those three voices weaving in and around the different fragments of old records, lyrical visions jousting with musical innovations to the point where you feel like the whole thing could be about to collapse in on itself under the sheer weight of the different thoughts that it’s built out of. And yet it’s perfect. Try to work out why by unpicking it and the whole thing unravels.

(c) Make Some Noise

The Beastie Boys’ last truly great song, this was released in April 2011, a year before Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch’s death from cancer. It also acts as a fitting finale for a musical force that could still leave their younger contemporaries in the dust, despite being in their mid-40s. Built around a squelching beat, it’s a feral blast of swagger and cockiness – one they were so happy with that they felt it worthy to create a sequel to their iconic ‘Fight For Your Right To Party’ video for.

(d) Intergalactic

A transfixing space odyssey is crammed full of robotic vocoder and synth fragments that shatter in an astral euphoria. The Beasties fork together a beatific concoction here of lyricality that reroutes their hip-hop into a mesmerizing, head-banging dance groove. Don’t blame me if you’re suddenly in another dimension still humming the non-verbal instrumentals.

(e) Paul Revere

Paul Revere tells the story of the Beasties, complete with early collaborator Rick Rubin on production. Sure, it’s a cheesy story that involves a horse with a historically significant name and ends with robbery and murder that pales in comparison to older records when it comes to skill and creativity, but it also introduced the world to the goofy fun of the Beastie Boys — not to mention that Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, and Adam “MCA” Yauch introduced a lot of people to rap in general.

(f) Sabotage

Sabotage, the seemingly anti-authority anthem was, in fact, inspired by their recording engineer, Mario Caldato Jr being a nag.

The band were totally indecisive about what, when, why and how to complete songs and Mario would blow a fuse and scream that they just needed to finish something, anything, a song, pushing them towards instrumental tracks just to have something moving toward completion. Sabotage was apparently the last song completed on the latest album and went through multiple iterations before it was decided to roast their engineer on track, of how he was trying to mess it all up, sabotaging great works of art.

(g) Get it Together

A Tribe Called Quest’s leader Q-Tip jumps on the mic for perhaps the a rare featured spot in the Beastie Boys catalogue. The Boys’ vocals are typically abrasive, but the mellow delivery of Q-Tip’s bars and subtle production means that both halves of the East Coast rap styles are well represented here.

(h) Hey Ladies

Admittedly, the only hit single from ”Paul’s Boutique” was a return to the frat-boy ethos of ”Licensed to Ill,” but it’s infectious and funny enough that we forgive such sexism as ”Sucking down pints till I didn’t know/Woke up in the morning with a one-ton ho.” It also features the greatest — and possibly only — cowbell break in hip-hop history.

(i) Rhymin’ & Stealin’

The Beastie Boys didn’t invent rap-rock, but on guitar-flooded tracks like ”Rhymin”’ they and producer Rick Rubin invested the hybrid with the energy and (obnoxious) attitude that helped suburban kids develop a taste for hip-hop. Incorporating samples from both Led Zeppelin (”When the Levee Breaks”) and Black Sabbath (”Sweet Leaf”), ”Stealin”’ offers hilariously unconvincing pirate/gangsta fantasies: ”Skirt chasing, free basing/Killing every village/We drink and rob and rhyme and pillage.”

(j) Jimmy James

Denied permission by Jimi Hendrix’s estate to use a variety of samples from the guitarist’s catalogue, including snippets of Foxy Lady, Still Raining, Still Dreaming and EXP, on this tribute track on Check Your Head, the Beasties’ improvised by crafting sound-a-like riffs in the studio. The song is prefaced with a sample from a live album by Cheap Trick.

(k) A Year and A Day

Paul’s Boutique was audacious, described before its release by one exec at the Beasties’ label Capitol as “the Sgt Pepper’s of its era.” The album’s final track was its most avant stroke, the Beasties’ answer to the medley that closed labelmates the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Across its kaleidoscopic 13 minutes, B-Boy Bouillabaise segued through nine vignettes, fragments and experiments, with their erstwhile home of New York as a loose theme. At its heart lay A Year And a Day, a thrilling showcase for MCA that saw Yauch rapping through a mic rigged to a pilot’s helmet, his verses bragging with a philosophical flair he’d hone on later tracks, over a furious beat chopping up Ernie Isley’s blistering guitar lick from Who’s That Lady?

(l) Too Many Rappers

On June 12 2009, Adam Yauch took the stage at the Bonnaroo Festival for what would prove the Beastie Boys’ final live performance. Their new album, Hot Sauce Committee Pt 1, was scheduled for September, but Yauch’s cancer diagnosis – made public a month after Bonnaroo – delayed its release by almost two years; it finally surfaced in April 2011 as Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two, a return to the more anarchic, gleeful style of yore following their stark post 9/11 album To the Five Boroughs. The Beasties debuted Hot Sauce Committee’s highlight onstage at Bonnaroo that night, alongside guest MC Nas. And while it’s perhaps not Nas’s finest moment, Too Many Rappers caught the Beasties sounding sharper than they had in years, while hearing Ad-Rock and Nas riff on Public Enemy’s Night of the Living Bassheads – for even a bar or three – is an undeniable treat.

(m) Pass the Mic

A tune like “Pass the Mic” does it all: It invokes one of the holiest hip-hop phrases (“yes, yes y’all”), name-drops Jimmie Walker, Clyde Frazier and Stevie Wonder and finds the Beasties both deconstructing, then rebuilding their own mythology. It includes one of the all-time great Beastie lines in which Mike D rhymes “commercial” with “commercial.”

(n) Sure Shot

As the Beastie Boys grew in power and experience, their goofy shtick became incredibly witty jokes and sublimely dada nonsense. The references became knotted and intricate, far more cerebral than details on how to party with some orange juice-based cocktails. From the barking dog at the track’s open through the last couplet, “Sure Shot” is jammed with essential lines, the kind of song that thousands and thousands of teenage boys memorized. It also features a real turning point in their active role as feminist allies: “I want to say a little something that’s long overdue/ The disrespect to women has got to be through,” MCA begins. “To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end.” But just when you’re afraid that they’ll get all sappy, MCA reminds you that he uses elastic to keep his underwear up — keeping it Beastie.

(o) Shardrach

The Beastie Boys were students — of the genre, of music history, of history in general, of society. On the excellent “Shadrach”, they do a little bit of it all. Musically, the track samples everyone from Sly Stone to James Brown to the Sugarhill Gang, paying homage to those that laid the groundwork. Lyrically, the three Boys dig in and compare themselves to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three Biblical characters thrown into a furnace for refusing to bow down to the king. Both are prominent trios of men with Jewish heritage, and the Beasties had to have seen something they like in the story of men surviving being thrown into a fire. The track also shows the group’s increasing comfort with more experimental beats. Co-written by the Dust Brothers, the track’s slinky guitar, funky horns, and out-of-this-world soul vocal sample are miles ahead of Licensed to Ill, running into far deeper veins of artistry. It also should be mentioned that it reveals just how seriously they took rap.

(p) Triple Trouble

No New Yorker was unaffected by the terrorist attacks of 2001, and the Beasties were no exception. Released in 2004, To the 5 Boroughs was reflective, in part, but just as much a part of their challenge to the darkening mood was to get back to what they do best – revelling in rhyme and having fun with music and words, celebrating New York as the place where all these things became possible, and defending it by carrying on as before. ‘Triple Trouble’ went back to hip-hop’s early days, sampling the opening of ‘Rapper’s Delight’ while the trio traded gallumphing brags and outrageous boasts back and forth over the infectiously bouncing beat.

(q) So What’cha Want

The only Beastie Boys song covered by The Muppets.

mp3 : Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Bridgeton

JC

STUFF BOUGHT IN 2019 (4)

I’ve already mentioned that The Twilight Sad released my favourite album of 2019, but surprisingly they didn’t, for once, provide the best live experience of the year.

Step forward Otoboke Beaver. As I said, last May in a review of the gig:-

But nothing had prepared me, or indeed Aldo or Mike G, for Otoboke Beaver. I’ve been going to watch live music for more than 40 years now, and so I will have been to at least 1,000 shows in my time. But I have never experienced anything quite as dynamic, uplifting and plain bonkers as the hour of entertainment provided by these four ridiculously talented women, Accorinrin (Lead Vocal & Guitar), Yoyoyoshie (Guitar & Vocals), Hiro-chan (Bass & Vocals) and Kahokiss (Drums & Vocals). The studio recorded stuff is fine, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing the magic of actually seeing them and picking up on the energy they generate with each performance.

It was a genuine jaw-dropper of an evening.

Here’s the thing…..I’ve listened more and more to the studio stuff and it is more than fine. The live experience was such a mind-fuck that it was impossible to be properly objective about the album Itekoma Hits that I purchased at the end of the gig.

14 songs in 27 minutes. If you’re not fond of something, then don’t worry as something else will be along before you know it.

Otoboke Beaver first released music as long ago as 2011 but it wasn’t until Damnably Records signed them in 2016 that their material became more widely available beyond Japan. All the band members held down full-time jobs which restricted their abilities to record and tour – indeed their visits to the UK have been for what they have called Golden Week tours, using up precious annual leave from their employers. Such tours were underatken in 2017 and 2019 while other holidays were used for shows in the USA at events such as SxSW in Austin, Texas.

They are coming back to Glasgow tonight and I’ll be there again. There’s a major difference in that the band have now all quit their jobs and are going to have a real go at making a success of their music. I’m fairly confident that they will, not just based on the live shows and the compilation album I picked up but that some newer material, in the form of a 5″ red vinyl single, released at the end of last year, was equally wonderful. And at 1 minute 40 seconds, it faithfully followed everything that had gone before.

I’ll just post one song from Itekoma Hits but offer up a few videos so that you get the idea:-

mp3 : Otoboke Beaver – Datsu. Hikage no onna

At 2 mins and 5 seconds, it’s one of their longer efforts!

 

JC

 

THE BIG HITS…..30 YEARS ON (2)

The second month of the new feature. Many thanks to those of you who commented last time out and for joining in with the fun by revealing your own ages.

As I mentioned previously, 30 years no longer feels like a long time ago, although back in 1990 it was impossible to not think of 1960 as being anything other than ancient history. The top of the singles chart in February 1990 was dominated by Sinead O’Connor and it was heart-warming to read there remains a great deal of affection for Nothing Compares 2 U, notwithstanding it becoming one of those songs that suffered from over-exposure at the time, and as FFF deftly pointed out, has subsequently been lost to revisionist wankery by nonentity talking-heads.

Of the hits that first entered the charts in February 1990, none have proven to quite have any similar longevity, although there is a more than decent track that later went all the way to the #1 slot and is still wheeled out for consideration by the sorts of talking-heads whom FFF called out previously, but this time in terms of ‘guess what he did next’ sort of way. I’ll get to that in due course……let’s start things off with an indie classic:-

Shine On – House of Love

Three years after it had been released on Creation Records to critical acclaim and commercial failure, a new version of Shine On was recorded and released on Fontana Records. It was A-listed on Radio 1 and crashed into the charts at #22 on 3 February 1990, providing The House of Love with, by far, their biggest hit. It climbed two places and thus ensured the label, could boast of having a Top 20 band on its rota. Still sounds great all these years later doesn’t it?

Sleep With Me – Birdland

A high number of music-paper championed bands enjoyed a modicum of success in 1990. A lot of this could be linked back to 1989 when the likes of Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and James burst onto the mainstream after years of being restricted to small, often derogatory coverage in NME/Melody Maker/Sounds/Record Mirror and nobody wanted to be accused of missing the boat this time around.

Birdland were very much a music papers band to begin with and a couple of singles in early ’89 had brushed the outer edges of the charts. Out of nowhere, Sleep With Me was played on daytime Radio 1 as well as being championed on the early evening shows, leading to it selling enough copies to enter the chart at #32 on 3 February, only to drop out of the Top 40 the following week. It remains the only time the band got mentioned in the weekly rundown on Top of The Pops.

Probably A Robbery – Renegade Soundwave

Another of the bands that had been championed by the music papers. The difference between this and the Birdland 45 was that Probably A Robbery entered the charts on 3 February at #48 and actually climbed a few places and hung around for a bit, eventually reaching a peak of #38 three weeks later. There’ll be a few of you out there who danced a lot to Renegade Soundwave, but I have to admit to knowing next to nothing beyond this hit, which itself was mentioned on the old blog back in 2008 and repeated in 2016, thanks to my old friend ctel (aka acidted).

No Blue Skies – Lloyd Cole

Lloyd Cole had pulled the plug on The Commotions with ambitions to make it big as a solo artist. His record label, Polydor, believed in him too, making a fairly decent sized recording budget available for the debut album which was recorded in New York. The sound was a huge departure from the indie-pop of his old band, offering a harder more rock-orientated edge to go with the all-knowing lyrics to which we had become accustomed, but it didn’t go down well with the record buying public. No Blue Skies limped in at #64 on 3 February and thanks to a bit of intensive marketing and some airplay, climbed to #42 the following week before it began a rapid descent. A huge disappointment for all concerned, and it would take until 1995 before any solo LC songs bothered the Top 40….and even that proved to be a one-off.

Dub Be Good To Me – Beats International

This entered the chart at #15 on 10 February 1990. It went to #3 the following week, then up to #2 and finally to #1 at the beginning of March, taking over from Sinead O’Connor. It spent four weeks at the top and didn’t drop out of the Top 40 until the month of May.

The samples include Just Be Good To Me by the SOS Band, The Guns of Brixton by The Clash, Once Upon a Time in The West by Ennio Morricone, and Jam Hot by Johnny Dynell. Lead singer Lindy Layton would enjoy a solo chart hit later in the year with a cover of the lovers-rock classic Silly Games. Composer and mixer Norman Cook became very rich and very famous in subsequent years.

Bikini Girls With Machine Guns – The Cramps

I had to shut my eyes and open them again as I thought I was seeing things. And I still can’t believe that The Cramps had a single which went Top 40 in the UK. A full eleven years after they had become the second live act I’d ever seen in my life, they could have appeared on Top of The Pops after Bikini Girls entered the charts on 10 February at #35. If only……………………………..

This soon dropped down the charts and disappeared altogether after three weeks. The Cramps hadn’t cracked the Top 75 previously and wouldn’t do so again.

Enjoy The Silence – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode have been hugely popular and successful for decades, but for the most part I’ve struggled to see the attraction. I enjoyed the disposable electro-pop of some of the early singles and a few of the later 45s have been passable, but I don’t have any vinyl or CDs in what is an extensive collection in Villain Towers. I don’t think that makes me a bad person but some of you may violently disagree.

Enjoy The Silence entered the charts at #17 on 17 February and was the band’s 17th single to make the Top 40. I was hoping that I could add they would have a further 17 singles do the same to create a perfect bit of symmetry, but the fact is they would enjoy 18 more Top 20 hits, the last being Martyr in November 2006.

Brassneck – The Wedding Present

In at #24 on 17 February and featured extensively just a couple of weeks ago on the blog including the legendary Top of the Pops appearance that saw the song plummet out of the charts the following week.

96 Tears – The Stranglers

Got to be honest and say that I couldn’t recall this one which came into the charts at #31 on 17 February and in climbing to #17 the following week would give The Stranglers their 12th Top 20 hit. Yes, it’s a cover of the 60s cult classic of by ? and the Mysterians and it would prove to be the final time The Stranglers enjoyed such mainstream success….coinciding with the departure of Hugh Cornwell.

Talking With Myself – Electribe 101

In at #33 on 24 February. It climbed to #23 the following week. I know next to nothing about house music, so please feel free to fill in the gaps via the comments section. All I do know is that this, like The House of Love song which opened up this posting, was the re-release of an earlier flop single from the late 80s. Oh, and there’s a connection with Depeche Mode as Electribe 101 provided support on a 38-date European tour from September – November 1990….an experience that proved to be less than a stellar one.

Tune in next month for a look back at March 1990.

JC
(aged 56 years and 8 months)

PS : Posted today to enable SC from Florida to drop in and say he is 54 years exactly.  Happy birthday bro.

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 7)

A GUEST SERIES

33. Something for your M.I.N.D – Superorganism (2017 Domino Records)

Released January 2017 (Reached the Top 30 I think)

A song that always reminds me of KT, because it was in her car that I first heard it.

Seems appropriate to hand over to her……..

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So Dom and I have got through a whole year without forgetting that we had a child.

I’ve not managed to leave her in the pub, Dom hasn’t forgotten to get her out of the swing in the park. We’ve not yet run out of nappies, we’ve not lost it when, after spending literally hours making, blending, pureeing and serving up, hand-made organically grown food, she has just totally ignored it and decided that she wants ‘bic bic’ – this is because Heinz make some baby biscuits that are to be honest, bloody tasty.

Our daughter has also, already, at the tender age of 14 months, got a mortal enemy (like Maggie Simpson and the monobrow baby I suppose). This child, Emily, and her clash every week at an event called ‘Treasure Baskets’. A kind women in a chunky knit jumper puts a load of blankets down and fills it with general crap, shiny things and lots of dried pasta and we parents observe what happens.

What happens is more often that not, my daughter and Emily squabble over who gets to play with the shiniest necklace that is on offer that week. Emily will find one, and my daughter will lamp her with a sponge until she drops it. She will then pick it up and Emily will do the same thing back. This repeats itself. For an hour.

Emily’s mother and I are really good friends.

In September I went back to work, part time, and it was really hard, firstly and the only reason really was because Tim wasn’t there. There is some new bloke in his office which seems wrong, and I find it hard to talk to him because, he’s not Tim. Stupid and selfish of me really, it’s not his fault.

I miss the stupid emails about irrelevant things, I miss his smile, I miss him swearing at the printer (“Fucking stupid, gadgetry contraption, no I don’t want following I just want you to sodding print you BASTARRRDDD”) and I miss his support, his reliability, his humour and his brilliance.

I was pushing a pram when I heard the news about him, and I kind of just sat in a park and cradled my daughter for ages – I experienced a numbness I haven’t felt for such a long time. There are still no words to describe it, so I’m not going to try, it was just so desperately, desperately sad.

Sorry I wasn’t planning on going there, I guess what the events of 2019 taught me is that you get 75 odd summers on this planet, if you are lucky. Don’t waste them, don’t put off telling that person that you love them, don’t put off trying that new thing you’ve been meaning to do, don’t ignore your parents, your friends, read books, listen to music, write stories, try new food, have children, look after each other.

Can I leave you with a song that I’ve playing loads recently, not for any reason I just like it?

Let Me Be Him – Hot Chip

KT

—————————-

I’ve got something in my eye, don’t know about you.

SWC

 

ANDREW WEATHERALL : 6 APRIL 1963 – 17 FEBRUARY 2020

Was shocked and saddened in equal measures when I heard the news, which came to me via a Facebook posting by Swiss Adam.  The best and most appropriate tribute I can offer is a re-post of ICA 102 from December 2016.

The author was the afore-mentioned Swiss Adam.

——————————————————————

The final ICA of 2016 during which there have been so many top-notch guest contributions covering all genres. Today’s is again, something a bit special and epic. When he dropped the e-mail to me, Swiss Adam said “Please take this off my hands- I keep changing it, adding songs, taking them off, re-doing it. It’s doing my head in.”

Anyone who has ever turned their hand to an ICA will know exactly what he means…..

Andrew Weatherall ‘Just What Is It That You Want To Do?’

‘We want to be free. We want to be free, to do what we want to do. And we want to have a good time. And we want to have a party. And that’s what we’re gonna do. We gonna have a party’

Anyone who’s paid even the most infrequent visits to Bagging Area will know that I hold Andrew Weatherall and his work in high regard. For well over a quarter of a century he’s been one of British music’s true maverick and creative spirits, a dj, producer, remixer and writer who has trod his own path, often turning away from the light and the easy money towards something darker and more interesting. As an artist whose fingerprints are all over well over 650 tracks reducing this to a mere 10 is nigh on impossible.

I’ve decided to break his work up into logical chunks, themed around different phases, starting off with a two-disc set. The first takes in his remix work, some early ones from the late 80s and early 90s where he made his name and then some recent ones. Both demonstrate why remixing, in the right hands, is so much more than just adding a clubby drumbeat to a guitar or pop song. The second pulls together his 90s group Sabres Of Paradise (with Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns) and his 90s/00s next step Two Lone Swordsmen (with Keith Tenniswood). This still involves leaving out massive chunks of his output which we’ll have to return to another time.

Disc One: Side One- The Early Remixes

Primal Scream ‘Come Together’ (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

So to open, no Loaded. Seems counter intuitive I know. Loaded is a masterful record, a call to arms and a call to the dancefloor. It gave Weatherall a big break and ensured Primal Scream had a career. But this is better. Ten minutes of perfect, bubbling gospel house with the Reverend Jesse Jackson sample and Screamadelica’s mission statement- ‘all those are just labels, we know that music is music’.

Saint Etienne ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix of Two Halves)

Saint Etienne’s waltz time cover of Neil Young turned into a dub odyssey, spliced in the middle by the reggae sample. The two halves- dub first, song second- pull the bass and rhythm to the fore and make something very special indeed.

One Dove ‘Breakdown’ (Squire Black Dove Rides Out Mix)

After Screamadelica, Weatherall went on to sprinkle his magic production dust over One Dove’s debut album and genuine lost classic Morning Dove White. He then further re-worked his own productions on the singles. I could just have easily included the Guitar Paradise Mix of White Love here (and if I’d waited 24 hours to submit this probably would have) but this 10 minute excursion is cinematic, dub influenced pop. New genre for you there.

The Orb ‘Perpetual Dawn’ (Ultrabass II)

The Orb taken to bass heavy extremes with a righteous Misty In Roots vocal sample. ‘Roots music, music which records history, music which tells about the future…’

My Bloody Valentine ‘Soon’ (Andrew Weatherall Mix)

This is something else. Taking the guitar riff from MBV’s spectral Soon, a crashing sample from West Bam and the chunkiest rhythm Weatherall re-defines the guitar band remix. Everything turned up as far as it needs to go, everything in exactly the right place. Still sounds massive today.

These are the big hitters from his early years- and miss out some other superb remixes- two totally essential versions of New Order’s Regret, Finitribe’s speaker rattling 101, a housed up S’Express, Sly and Lovechild ‘The World According To… Weatherall (which I love), Happy Mondays, The Grid, some magnificent Jah Wobble remixes- any one of which could be substituted for something from the above. Not to mention Loaded.

Disc One: Side Two- The Recent Remixes

I was going to open up Side Two with his majestic remix of Primal Scream’s ‘Uptown’ (Long After The Disco is Over). It is full of sweeping New York in the 70s strings summoning end of night euphoria/melancholy. After a few years laid low this was proof the creative juices were flowing again. But Primal Scream opened Side One so it’s only fair to cast the net a bit further.

Moby ft Wayne Coyne ‘Another Perfect Life (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Moby made an album of white-robed pop and asked Wayne Coyne to sing some lyrics about drug addiction. Weatherall threw everything at this remix, from the joyous intro to the bubbling arpeggios, turned the verses and choruses around, added krautrock synths, breakdowns, layered gospel vocals, some sliding, keening sounds, a load of echo. Raise your hands.

Steve Mason ‘Boys Outside’ (Andrew Weatherall Dub 1)

More dub. A beautifully bouncy bass extracted from a largely acoustic Steve Mason record and then looped, reverbed and echoed out into space.

Toddla T and Roots Manuva ‘Watch Me Dance’ (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

This record is utterly insane, starting out like True Faith and taking in a deranged vocal. It sounds like the best few minutes you could ever spend off your tits in a dark room with flashing lights, dry ice and strangers all around you.

NB This is a good thing yeah? Every vinyl copy of this 12” single went up in flames in a warehouse fire in 2011. That’s how hot it is.

Fuck Buttons ‘Sweet Love For Planet Earth (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Fuck Buttons make a very intense kind of noise from toy instruments and computers. Weatherall fine-tuned them a little, stretched them out and added a rhythm. In a way this is his My Bloody Valentine remix redone for the 21st century.

Mike Garry and Joe Dudell ‘St Anthony- An Ode To Anthony H Wilson’ (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Mike Garry’s wonderful poem for Tony Wilson, a celebration of the Factory boss and ‘Manchester music, marijuana, majesty and Karl Marx’, was set to music by Joe Dudell, a string quartet version of New Order’s Your Silent Face. Weatherall took it back to the electronic roots of Power, Corruption and Lies. Released to raise funds for cancer charities and The Christie hospital – go buy it.

Apologies to Wooden Shjips, Toy, Moby and Wayne Coyne and a host of others who have been rejigged to perfection in recent years- another disc, another night.

Disc Two: Sabres Side

Sabres Of Paradise ‘Smokebelch II’

1993. Based around a chord sequence from an L.B. Bad track Sabres Of Paradise put out this 12” single and moved electronic dance music forwards (again). Almost classical in structure and executed beautifully. If this was the only thing Sabres did, it would be enough. Add the ambient Beatless Mix and David Holmes’ piano-and-majorettes madness and you could fill one side of a C90 and listen to it non-stop on long bus rides to work. Which I did.

Sabres Of Paradise ‘Theme’

This single came out in 1994 and bursts out of the speakers with a hip-hop drumbeat, a huge surging horn part and then some spiralling guitar parts. On the front foot for seven minutes, the end section twists and turns trippily, on and on and on.

Sabres of Paradise ‘The Ballad Of Nicky McGuire’

Haunted Dancehall, Sabres’ 1994 album, was a soundtrack through the capital in the footsteps of our hero Nicky McGuire. This track starts out with a jerky drumbeat and builds from there, drawing the listener into to its circular funk. Don’t go looking for the novel the sleeve notes quote from, or our hero Mr McGuire. Neither exist outside the haunted dancehall.

Sabres Of Paradise ‘Edge 6’

More deeply dubby stuff, this time a 1994 B-side. Its partner Return Of Carter is equally good.

Sabres Of Paradise ‘Wilmot’

Twisted voodoo dub with horns that snake and skank all over the place, partly inspired by Trinidadian calypso star from the 1940s Wilmoth Houdini. Bacardi paid a ridiculous sum to use this on an advert – the song survives such tawdriness. The money paid for a studio.

Disc Two: Swordsmen Side

Two Lone Swordsmen ‘Big Man On The Landing’

The first TLS album covered many musical bases-this track with a bassline so large you could ride it, is ominous and menacing and provides a stylistic link between Sabres and the Swordsmen. For further exploration go and listen to the stoned, paranoid guitars on Enemy Haze or the Kraftwerk go London techno of Beacon Block.

Two Lone Swordsmen ‘Rico’s Helly’

Double bass led electronic funk and a skippety two step beat- the sound of the flightpath estate (a studio above a dry cleaners near Heathrow Airport).

Two Lone Swordsmen ‘It’s Not The Worst I’ve Ever Looked… Just The Least I’ve Ever Cared’

From an album, Tiny Reminders, where Weatherall and Tenniswood ploughed their mutant, minimal techno about as deep and far as it could go- I genuinely could have picked any of the twenty tracks from this record- comes this dusty, downtempo slice. A catgut guitar, a slo-mo drum sample, some percussion, a steel drum.

Two Lone Swordsmen ‘As Worldly Pleasures Wave Goodbye’

Stay Down was an LP of short, sub-aquatic, ambient-techno songs. This was the last song, a gorgeous marriage of static, quiet noise and fluttering dub.

Two Lone Swordsmen ‘Get Out Of My Kingdom’

And then on Wrong Meeting in 2007 Weatherall gets the electric guitars back out and steps up to the mic to sing (actually he’d done this on the previous album From The Double Gone Chapel). Dub-rock and post punk, a full live band, rockabilly influences… this sounds a bit like early New Order had they come from West London rather than Salford.

I’ve bent the rules here, two discs is cheating. I could easily stick a third one together (various tracks released under other names during the 90s would be contenders) and a bunch of remixes done by Sabres Of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen that merit inclusion. A fourth would include the recent work (an e.p., a couple of albums) under his own name and as The Asphodells (with Timothy J Fairplay) and Woodleigh Research Facility (with Nina Walsh and Youth).

But then we’re into Imaginary Box set territory.

SWISS ADAM

 

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN?

Back in 1996, I saw the promo video for Fun For Me by Moloko, a band I had never heard of and thinking that the song was damn catchy. A couple of days later I saw the CD single on sale for 99p in a record shop in Glasgow (I still have the 99p sticker on the cover).

The single was great value in that it has seven tracks on it and lasted nearly 40 minutes (which is longer than quite a few of the albums in my collection). But then again all seven tracks were a variant on Fun For Me, and to be honest, while I liked the song, this was stretching things a bit far:-

mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Radio Edit)
mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Mr Scruff Vocal)
mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Doctor Rockit remix)
mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Stepping Mole mix)
mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Dr Plankton’s Pondlife mix)
mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Mr Scruff Instrumental)
mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Loko Mole mix)

I’m sure that the dancing kings and queens among you might find some pleasure out of the different mixes. Personally, my favourite version is, ironically, one that wasn’t on the single:-

mp3 : Moloko – Fun For Me (Album Version)

Fun For Me was a minor hit in that it reached #36 in the UK singles charts, but the band (which consisted of Roisin Murphy and Mark Brydon) would find fame and fortune in 1999 with handbag classic Sing It Back.

In due course, Moloko would make four studio albums between before calling it a day in 2004.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (19)

So, this is where I have a dilemma.

We are coming to a period where Luke Haines began to become, more or less, an albums-only artiste.  Techically, I could wrap this series with two, maybe three more entries depending on how things are categorised (and I’m thinking that quite a few of you would wish that I would!!)

But I’ve decided to re-interpet the title of the series in that every thing Luke Haines has ever recorded has been of a singular nature, and so will be devoting space to each of the releases between 2009 and 2018, sometimes wrapping a few up in one posting.

There will be a number of posts in which I will pontificate at length, but for today, I think it is best and easier to simply offer up a contemporary review of the 2xCD release of 21st Century Man/Achtung Mutha from 2009, the first new music from Luke Haines after the overwhelmingly positive response to the release of Bad Vibes, an occasion that offered up an opportunity to play to the mainstream once more. An opportunity, not unexpectedly, spurned:-

Despite having written probably the least discreet and most bilious – and funniest – of all pop autobiographies (Bad Vibes), Luke Haines still clearly relishes playing the Wyndham Lewis of his era, setting himself up as The Enemy of any cultural tropes that threaten to achieve critical mass.

As he notes in the self-condemning “Our Man In Buenos Aires”, “he’s brought a truckload of trouble down on everyone”. Hence his affinity in 21st Century Man for such stubborn, self-sabotaging outsider spirits as Peter Hammill and Klaus Kinski, prickly performers who plough their own furrows whatever the collateral damage. “Who needs people? Who needs friends? They drive you round the fucking bend,” Haines inserts into the latter’s mouth, whilst mellotron, acoustic guitar and glockenspiel compose a tender garland.

Elsewhere, he returns to the disputatious north/south divide in the glam-rock stomp of “English Southern Man”, characterises suburbia as a darkling idyll stained with sleazy portents in “Suburban Mourning”, and offers sardonic self-justification in the mockney “Wot A Rotter” and the wistful title-track, where references to Yasser Arafat, John Stonehouse and the Green Cross Code Man are draped in creepy mellotron and snarls of wah-wah guitar which sound much like his nemesis Suede.

Andy Gill, The Independent 30 October 2009

There’s actually quite a lot to appreciate on 21st Century Man, not least the thought that Haines is actually enjoying his latest brush with fame and that his way to deal with it is to become more self-deprecating “Looked in the mirror, I said who’s that fucking freak?” is another of the lines on Our Man In Buenos Aires.  The music veers in many directions – the Pete Doherty-baiting Wot A Rotter is close to glam rock, while Love Letter to London is almost Kinks-esque in places – but as many of the reviews of the time highlighted, the closing autobiographical track, at almost seven minutes length, is one of his best from any time in his career:-

mp3 : Luke Haines – 21st Century Man

The second CD, Achtung Mutha, is a quite different proposition altogether. 9 bits of music (it would be stretching it to describe them all as songs) over 27 minutes, the three longest of which are spoken word numbers that take up mpre than half of the disc and involve having a dig at the world of modern art and those who both produce and laud it.  It’s not the easiest of listens…..

mp3 : Luke Haines – The Great Brain Robbery (Part 1)

Tune in next week for something even more off the wall……….

JC

Bonus offering.

I’d forgotten that I have three tracks from 21st Century Man that were recorded for a radio session for 6 Music show hosted by Marc Riley in November 2009.  It’s evidence of how hugely entertaining Luke Haines is when he performs for an audience (note, however, that he cuts out any swearing so as not to fall foul of the bosses at the beeb):-

mp3 : Luke Haines -Suburban Mourning (radio session)
mp3 : Luke Haines – Klaus Kinski (radio session)
mp3 : Luke Haines – 21st Century Man (radio session)