45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 19)

A GUEST SERIES


27 – Empire State of Mind – Jay Z/Alicia Keys (2009 Roc Nation Records)

Released as a single in October 2009 (Reached Number 2)

Every now and again, I do some teaching. I stand up in front of a bunch of students or professionals and deliver lectures on certain topics. I do these mainly in the UK. For instance, a few months back I was in the beautiful garden city of Leeds doing just that.

But occasionally I get lucky and I get asked to do this internationally. A few years ago, I got asked to deliver a lecture to a some students at the John Jay College in New York, I immediately said yes, because I love New York and started to plan what would have to be a minimum of five days in the Big Apple (during which I would be doing roughly three hours hard work), I looked at getting some Yankees tickets (some are available against the Twins), I checked out what gigs were on (Real Estate at Terminal 5, well ok…) I look to see if I can squeeze in a trip to the Tenement Museum or not and whether or not I can get a boat out to see the Statue of Liberty.

I even book the time off work and tell Mrs SWC that it would be lovely if her and the daughter came over as well. I convince her with memories of our last trip to New York, where we ambled through Central Park arm in arm, casually munching on pistachio ice cream and buying tremendous pizza from a small Italian bloke pushing a cart. She then books time off work and tells the nursery that our daughter will be absent for a few days.

A few weeks later an email comes through, confirming that I am going to be lecturing in two weeks time at 2pm local time. Perfect, then I look at flights. As I’m doing that another email pops up on the screen from the college.

“Please let me know whether you will be using Jabbr Suite or Skype when you deliver your lecture so that we can select the correct software”.

Hang on, what…? You want me to deliver this lecture, over the web…I look at the emails again, yup, there it is….’webinar….’

Bugger.

I phone Mrs SWC and break the news to her. When she has stopped swearing at me, and then laughing at me and swearing at me again, we agree to visit New York in the next year regardless (we haven’t done that yet).

So the day arrives, it feels odd. I am wearing a smart suit and I am standing in my spare room, I have moved the framed photo of Mick Jagger from the wall so that it can’t be seen on camera and I have pushed the basket of toys out of view. Of course, in the UK it’s like five hours ahead of the States. So its seven pm or so when I start, I ask the students if they can hear me, there are a few mumbled ‘yeahs’ so I crack on.

About fifteen minutes in the connection drops out. I’m pretty sure it’s their end, because I can still hear every word that is being said in the now very noisy lecture theatre. When I am eventually reconnected, I am stopped after two more minutes because apparently I sound like ‘an alien’, “well”, the professor tells me, “an English voiced alien”. There is some laughter in the audience. I’ll do the jokes mate I think to myself, although they would sound like an alien doing jokes – like ALF, I suppose (that’s a niche joke that no one under the age of 35 will understand).

Eventually the technicals are sorted out and I fly through the next hour, I start to relax, trying to ignore the fact that I am in my spare room surrounded by toys, an old part of a pram, some books, and some undrunk tea. I start to move about a bit just a few steps here and there and then it happens.

Remember I said above that I’d pushed the basket of toys to one side of view. Well unbeknownst to me, one had fallen out of the basket when I did that. A teddy. Not just any teddy, but one that when you tread on it makes a sound, which I just have. The sound this teddy made at this time was “I feel it in my hooves…” because I’d trodden on disco unicorn.

And, now that sentence had sailed away over the Atlantic to the ears of around 100 now a bit less bored students. Some of whom are laughing at me, or it, to be more specific.

I do the only thing I can, I bend down and pick up disco unicorn and pretend to make it wave at the students. Some of them humour me, most look deeply ashamed to even be there.

At the end, the professor thanks me for my time, apologises for the technical problems and I say to him, with a smile, “I tell you what, I’ll come over and do it in person next time”. I’ve not heard a single word since.

Which provides me with a nice link to post a couple of tracks that very nearly made this list

Talk To Me – Run The Jewels (2015 Run the Jewels Inc, Did Not Chart)

Through The Wire – Kanye West (2003 Roc-A-Fella Records, Number 9)

SWC

 

 

TIMES LIKE THESE

Many thanks for all your kind words on the news of my (semi) retirement from the world of work.  Hugely appreciated.  A couple of the comments, from regular contributors, ended up in the spam section which was very strange, but I’ve fished them out and put them in their proper place.   I’m thinking that, with a reported rise in online scamming in recent days, WordPress is acting on the cautious side – I’ll do my best to stay on top of things by checking on the spam stuff at least on a daily basis – so if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, then please bear with me.  But I can’t work out just why The Great Gog is having all his comments left behind as ‘anonymous’ just now.  Might be worth everyone adding a wee signature at the end of any contributions for now.

A few folk have been in touch offering additional guest contributions on the basis that they have a bit more time on their hands and want to try and do something useful.  You all know my take on this – every single guest contribution, unless it is offensive, racist, sexist etc. will find its way onto the blog as I regard it as a place where everyone is welcome to say their bit and share their thoughts, views and opinions with our little community.  So, feel free to send stuff over.

Having said that, please be prepared, again, to be patient.  I really don’t want to expand beyond one post per day and I have a policy of one ICA per week as these lengthy submissions should be allowed a bit of breathing space over an extended period of time. I’ve also got a couple of ongoing series, not least SWC’s 45s at 45 rundown, all of which have been allocated dates to take us through to his #1 appearing on his birthday in mid-June.  The Saturday series is also staying put – I’m loath to give it up or put it to one side after so many weeks getting to the letter ‘M’ and while I know it’s the one day when perhaps it features a singer or band that few or you know or, even worse, many of you don’t have any time for, it’s something I’m determined to get through to the end.

Today was meant to feature another ICA from HSP, but I’ve shifted that to later in the week. I’m instead handing over to ‘Middle Aged Man’ whose previous toe-dip as a guest contributor was a well received Bauhaus ICA.

Here he is….with some thought ss on two bands he completely missed out on (which, incidentally, happens to be a subject matter that will be the focus of one of SWC’s upcoming contributions).

———————-

While as a person I’m not cool and never have been, I’ve always sought refuge in that I had cool taste in music, although in truth my taste in music was probably closer to what the music press said was good. Like many of the readers of this blog I was lucky enough to become interested in music during the heyday of the music press and in particular the NME, I would slavishly read every page every week – I was even known to cut out ‘witty’ quotes and put them on the pin board.

And then some years later came the internet or rather and then came music blogging and I discovered that there were bands who made great music and not just a single track but album after album who the NME never even mentioned. How did this happen? How did bands make great music never have a hit, never even get in the Indie top 30 or a review in the music press?

One band that I completely missed were ‘Click Click’ who must have been a great band name at the time.

Having listened to a couple of tracks I then spend a few years trying to find everything and anything else they released – via various blogs and then bandcamp and finally their own label – Rotorbabe Recordings – and even better laerning that they were releasing new music and performing live.

Now comes the tricky bit- how to describe their music – it is definitely electronic in that there a very few if any guitars but have a real drummer using a real drum set so they avoid the feel of the mid 80’s electronic duos such as Yazoo-Soft Cell- Blancmange etc. There’s a lovely indie disco dancability to their music but definitely not disco and on top of this is a real sense of tension verging on spookiness a few of tracks to illustrate this – the song titles give an idea of the tone and feel – paranoid 80’s at its best.

Awake and Watching from their album ‘Rorschach Testing’
Yakutska a stand only single
Man in a Suit – from their most recent album ‘Those Nervous Surgeons’

My second ‘how did I miss’ are ‘For Against’ – 8 albums released – who knew? Sadly not me. A ‘proper’ band with drums, bass, guitar and probably keyboards although they seem to have been a trio most of the time and a much more ‘post punk’ feel- by the way, when did post punk become a thing? Initially very early 80’s with the bass to the fore as you would expect and no hint of the dreaded love song. As with most bands they become ‘tuneful’ with proper songs and proper singing over the years.

Amnesia from an ep ‘In the Marshes’
Loud and Clear from their debut album ‘Aperture’
Glamour from the album ‘Shade Side Sunny Side’

MIDDLE AGED MAN

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 18)

A GUEST SERIES


28. Slow Life – Super Furry Animals (2004, Placid Casual Records)

Released as a Free Download EP in April 2004 (Did not chart)

For such a small place, the Devon market town of Bovey Tracey holds a great deal of history. Firstly it is half named after the chap who is linked to the murder of Thomas Beckett. Secondly, it is where Cromwell ransacked a few armies and stole quite a lot of horses and changed British society for ever. It is also the gateway to the Moor, Dartmoor that is, the only place in Britain where you can genuinely get all four seasons in one day, whatever time of the year you go there.

But, all that is knocked into a cocked hat because when history is evaluated and assessed Bovey Tracey will only ever be remembered for one thing.

Badger falling off a bar stool in the Cromwell Arms, after a goat bit him on the arm.

The goat bit him on the arm because Badger had refused to allow the goat to have a bit of his prawn and lettuce sandwich.

The thing was the goat was a more of a regular in the Cromwell that Badger was. The goat belonged to a chap who I only know as ‘Puffin’, I have no idea why they call him Puffin. The goat would pop in after a hard day’s erm, goating, in the town, he would then be presented with a bowl full of Guinness and a packet of steak flavoured crisps. Puffin would follow him in and the two would sit (or stand, in, the goats case), have their drinks, chat to their mates, have a game of darts and then leave around dinner time.

Badger was in there having some late tea with Mrs Badger, when the goat was denied his pre-dinner snack. The goat having finished his crisps decided that the prawn sandwich looked rather tasty. According to Mrs Badger, it ambled over to Tim, nudged him a bit and tried to nibble the end of the sandwich. Tim fearing for his tea lifted the plate above his head with his left arm, and tried to shoo the goat away with his right arm. This annoyed the goat, who promptly bit him on the shooing arm.

This caused him to drop the plate and allowed the goat to nimbly take the lettuce out of the sandwich are return to his place by the fire. Badger declined the offer of a fresh sandwich but did take up the local doctor’s advice of having a free dose of tetanus. Puffin apologised to Badger for the bite, and told him that the goat only did it because the barman poured him Beamish instead of Guinness and Beamish apparently made the goat ‘rowdy’.

Bringing this back to the reason why I am here. A few years ago, as some of you will remember, a blog I wrote ran down a list of 200 songs that according to Badger and I were the ‘Greatest Songs in the World’ – we called that list rather arrogantly The WYCRA 200. That list was largely conceived (if that’s the right word) in the Cromwell Arms. Additionally, the follow up blog to WYCRA, The Sound of Being Ok had its inaugural blog summit, in the same place and in Badger’s coat pocket that lunchtime was a copy of ‘Phantom Power’ which contains of course ‘Slow Life’

I found the original list for the WYCRA 200, a few weeks back and on reviewing that list, I found it was staggering how much of that list I would change if I ever did that list again (and I won’t be). I mean this would be in the Top 50 for a start

So Few Words – Archive (1996, London Records, Unknown Chart Position)

It didn’t even make the Top 200 at all last time around.

In fact quite a lot of the entire list would have moved around considerably. That, I guess is joy and frustration of music. I think that most of the bands would have been the same, but the songs would I think be different and in a different order, if that makes sense.

For instance – on that list somewhere (its number isn’t really important) was ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ by Super Furry Animals. A track which I still love for lots of reasons but if I were to redo that list Ice Hockey Hair would be booted out for ‘Slow Life’.

Ice Hockey Hair (1998, Creation Records, Number 12)

SWC

 

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #205 : MEMPHIS

I can do no better than offer a repeat post from February 2014:-

James Kirk wrote the finest single ever recorded by Orange Juice. In fact, as regular readers will know, it is my strongly-held view that Felicity is the finest single ever recorded by any Scottish band or singer.

In 1985, James Kirk rather surprisingly came out of his self-imposed retirement and, adopting the name Memphis, wrote and recorded what rather sadly turned out to be a one-off 45 for the Swamplands label that was being run by Alan Horne (ex Postcard).

mp3 : Memphis – You Supply The Roses
mp3 : Memphis – Apres Ski

Here’s the instrumental version of the a-side that was made available on the 12″ release.  It was sent to me back in 2014 by Hugh, a then regular reader from France, and it was in response to my general plea for a digital copy as I only had the 7″ version in the collection.

mp3 : Memphis – I’ll Supply The Wine

Cheers.

JC

THE END OF AN ERA?? WELL, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN!

This one is a tad self-indulgent.

I graduated from university on Friday 5 July 1985.   I started work on Monday 8 July 1985 – it was a time in history when, without the help of the old-school tie, it was difficult to land a job that was compatible with your degree and so when I was asked, following what I recall being my fourth job interview, to join a local council in Edinburgh at the earliest opportunity, any plans for a few weeks of down time were put to the side.  It’s a decision I’ve never regretted.

Today, Friday 27 March 2020, I will enjoy my last day of paid employment, after my application for early retirement through voluntary redundancy was accepted.

It’s been an incredibly strange and frustrating end to my career as I’ve mostly been working from home these past two weeks, taking part in regular conference calls with my fellow managers, doing our best to keep things ticking over and trying to keep staff morale as high as is possible in such challenging and uncertain times.

From a selfish point of view, the planned night out has, of course, been cancelled but I’ve undertaken to go back in for one last time when this all eventually calms down and to do my very best to have a leaving do that will be legendary.

I have no intention to work for a living in the future, and the plan, eventually,  is to devote as much time as possible to travel, music, Raith Rovers and golf. Oh, and I have good intentions about trying to pass my driving test!

EXCEPT………..in such challenging times everyone had to be less selfish and so I’ve offered to stay on, free of charge on a voluntary basis, to continue to help and support my colleagues as we implement business contingency plans, including, eventually, preparing for how best to get going when there is some sort of return to normality.

I did think about changing the intended piece of music that has long been scheduled for today, but will stick with the latest one-hour mix tape, with most of the song titles having some sort of link to the past 35 years.  The opener is one that myself and Jacques once danced to at the Xmas Party that we organised jointly on behalf of our colleagues – the one piece of music we decided should clear the floor for a couple of minutes.

I’m happy to say that I have had many more good than bad days during my career and have made a number of lifelong friends along the way.  I’ve been lucky that way.

mp3 : Various – The End of an Era

Tracklist

Pixies – Debaser
The Wedding Present – What Did Your Last Servant Die Of?
The Rakes – Work Work Work (Pub Club Sleep)
The Clash – Career Opportunities
Idlewild – You Held The World In Your Arms
Fun Boy Three – It Ain’t What You Do
R.E.M. – Finest Worksong
Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
The Jam – Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero?
Le Tigre – Deceptacon
Magazine – Model Worker
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Patio Song
Electronic – Getting Away With It
The Fall – Fantastic Life
International Teachers of Pop – The Age of The Train
Stereolab – Ping Pong
Lloyd Cole – Don’t Look Back (original mix)
Otoboke Beaver – 6 Days Working Week Is a Pain
PJ Harvey – Big Exit (edit)
Young Marble Giants – Final Day

A new life beckons.  Eventually.

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 17)

A GUEST SERIES


29 : Cannonball – The Breeders (1993 4AD Records)

Released as a single in August 1993 (Reached Number 40)

Another record I can’t play on guitar and for the second post in a row I get to say that something rocks like a bastard, which is exactly what ‘Cannonball’ does. It is also bloody brilliant, but I’m kind of figuring that you all know that by now. You mustn’t whatever you do confuse this track with the David Gray track which has the same name. They are very different. Gray’s ‘Cannonball’ doesn’t rock like a bastard, it more sways like an abandoned windbreak at a lonely Welsh beach. It’s shit as well.

In my second year as a student I was asked by the Students Union to be a judge at a ‘Battle of the Bands’ kind of contest (I suppose that my editing of the music pages gave me some form of experience). Something which I reluctantly agreed to do. I mean, secretly I was honoured and amazed that they even asked, but I nonchalantly said that I would check my schedule and get back to them. Which I did twenty minutes later, saying yes.

The event itself was pretty awful. There were ten or so entrants, mostly pub rocking student bands who could neither play, sing nor write their own material. I’ll bypass most of them if you don’t mind, but I will touch briefly on ‘Anita’. Anita was a dance student, who played an acoustic guitar, well, she knew two chords, and thought she could sing. Worse than that she thought she could sing Joni Mitchell songs. She couldn’t. She was embarrassing the entire human race by just being there. The fact that she lived next door to the future Mrs SWC, was something I ignored when I was asked to comment on her performance by the compare (a fat oaf who genuinely changed his middle name to ‘Disco’ when standing for the Entertainments Chair Position). I told her that she should stick to dancing. She didn’t speak to me or Mrs SWC again from that afternoon.

Anyway, the two best student bands around were (and I’ve changed their names because one of them got signed and did quite well) my mates band ‘Tea Towel’ – who didn’t get signed – and ‘Knobheads’, who did. I think you can work out which band I thought I was better. Knobheads sounded like Pearl Jam and in comparison Tea Towel sounded like Radiohead. I couldn’t understand the appeal of Knobheads, also they all had the looks of models, and were way more talented than I would ever be, but you know, Pearl Jam.

The problem was that Knobheads were playing their own material and Tea Towel were not, they were doing cover versions of songs like ’Breakfast at Tiffanys’ which didn’t help them. Still, apart from that they were better musicians, had a better singer and had bought me at least two bottles of Becks that day.

Anyway, it came to the final, a shoot off between these two bands. They had thirty minutes to wow the audience and the judges. I mean I’d already nailed my colours to the mast by telling Knobheads that I would ‘actually rather read The Sun on a bus to Woking’ than listen to them again. I mean, it’s hardly Simon Cowell is it?

Anyway Tea Towel come on and do very well, they ended with a new song, a cover of this as it happens,

Grassman – Dodgy

But without the gospel choir. A song which itself very nearly made this list. It was remarkable, but not remarkable enough.

Knobheads strode out full of confidence, wearing shades, and looking it has to be said, like an actual band. They were a five piece, only one of whom was actually a student, something, I tried in vain to point ou.  They had a singer, a lead guitarist, a rhythm guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. They played twenty five minutes of their Pearl Jam inspired angst rock and I tried to not yawn too obviously. Then they said for the last song they were going to end with a cover. Which is when they blew the roof off the place.

The singer grabbed another guitar and the rhythm swapped his guitar for a Gibson Flying V, and they launched into a full on enslaught of ‘Cannonball’ and I have to say it sounded bloody amazing. Three lead guitars, a crashing bass, stage divers, and trashed speaker at the end. If they did that all the time instead of having seven songs that sound exactly like ‘Even Flow’, then I might have upgraded The Sun to the Guardian.

It was, and believe me, if you knew the back story about me and that band (another time), you would understand how much it pains me to even type it, the best thing I’d seen live for some time. The bastards.

The B Side of ‘Cannonball’ contains an Aerosmith cover version – an ode to Chris Hoy, so I’m told.

Lord of the Thighs

SWC

 

 

AS MENTIONED YESTERDAY

The McCarricks are the husband and wife duo of Martin McCarrick on cello and Kimberlee McCarrick on violin. They have collaborated and performed with many well-known musicians including Kristin Hersh, Sinéad O’Connor, Gary Numan, Marianne Faithfull and Patti Smith.  Their own performances are usually in front of silent films produced specially for their performances.

It was back in 2007 that I saw them play live, possibly in the company of Mike from Manic Pop Thrills and possibly as support to Kristin Hersh. The music in the live setting was mesmorising and engrossing and led to my purchase, before leaving the venue, of a mini-album on CD, which turned out to be not quite so mesmorising and engrossing once I got home. But it did have a fabulous cover on it:-

mp3 : The McCarricks – Your Ghost

Here’s the original

mp3 : Kristin Hersh (feat Michael Stipe) – Your Ghost

JC

35 YEARS TOO LATE

Scotland is not a large country by any stretch of the imagination. As such, it should always be relatively easy for music fans (or indeed fans of any cultural activity) to keep tabs on what is happening outside of their own local community.

The release of the Big Gold Dreams boxset has highlighted just how much I managed to miss out on over the decades, even the periods when I was paying particular attention. It is only now that I have learned of the brief existence of an 80s band from Dundee:-

JiH revolved around the voice, attitude and style of Grant McNally, who was part of the same Dundee society frequented by mercurial Billy MacKenzie. Indeed, various live incarnations of JiH featured Billy’s brother Jimmy MacKenzie on bass. This debut single was a string-laden slice of epic 1980s pop produced by Dave Ball of Soft Cell, and which showed off McNally’s own vocal ambitions in impressive fashion. An album, The Shadow to Fall, followed, as well as two singles. The last of these, Take Me to the Girl, was a cover of an Associates song produced by MacKenzie, who also provided backing vocals. McNally continued to perform for a time as Jesus in Heavens, but sadly died in September 2018.

A band championed by Billy MacKenzie, based in a city just 70 miles to the north-east of Glasgow and I knew nothing……I am hanging my head in shame. My only defence is that they emerged just as I had left Glasgow to live and work in Edinburgh, and while I kept an eye on much that was happening in the capital, it was with less enthusiasm than before and indeed music would become, temporarily, less important to me for a while.

All of the JiH output came via the singer’s own label, Breadth of Vision Records (no other band would ever release anything on the label):-

1985 : Big Blue Ocean (7” and 12” single)
1986 : This Gift (12” single)
1986 : The Shadow to Fall (LP)
1988 : Take Me To The Girl (12” single)

The album had nine tracks, three of which (including the first two singles) were produced by Dave Ball, with the remaining tracks seeing Grant McNally at the helm. There is a very serious mistake in the text on the reverse of the sleeve in that the production credits are all wrong, leading at least one contemporary review to accuse Dave Ball of falling asleep on the job when in fact it was his songs that had found most favour!

Looking back, there was a decent degree of support and positive media locally for JiH but not a huge amount beyond its boundaries, which is perhaps the main reason it all passed me by. I’ve managed to find a few things to share with you today:-

mp3 : JiH – Big Blue Ocean
Mp3 : JiH – This Gift
Mp3 : JiH – Shadow to Fall
Mp3 : JiH – Take Me To The Girl

Listening now, I’ve a feeling I would have really appreciated them far more back in the day on account of the music now sounding a bit of its time from the production dating somewhat. I do, however, enjoy the fact that there is use made of strings, which came courtesy of violinist Virginia Hewes, the then wife of Dave Ball and cellist, Martin McCarrick, who had previously worked with Marc Almond.

Tune in tomorrow for some more songs featuring Mr McCarrick……………………….

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #245 : WOODY GUTHRIE REVISITATIONS

Woodie Guthrie Revisitations: A Semi-Synthetic ICA

Your “So Michigan Calls THIS Spring?” Correspondent
The Hybrid Soc Prof

I considered a long, rambling account of
• my frustrations around hearing great Billy Bragg singles in the 80s but not being able to find his LPs,
• seeing the Beatnigs/Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy when Camper van Beethoven had to cancel a show for which I had tickets,
• the connection between Bragg and the Disposable Heroes initiated at the celebration of the 80th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth – realized in a performance of “Vigilante Man,”
• the way that performance led Nora Guthrie to open up Woody’s archives to Bragg as a means to set to music songs Woody had only written lyrics for,
• Bragg’s invitation to Wilco (and Natalie Merchant) to join the project, and
• the eventual generation of what is now the three CD/album set, Mermaid Avenue.

This was going to be followed by a look at the more recent New Multitudes double album by Will Johnson, Jim James, Jay Farrar and Anders Parker (set in motion and organized by Farrar) where I would
• look askance at Farrar’s claims that he was contacted by Bragg before Wilco while claiming to be uncomfortable with the idea of a collaboration,
• call bullshit on his assertion that he never listed to the Mermaid Avenue albums – or, at least, that he didn’t listen to them to keep form being influenced, and
• acknowledge that, despite all this, I like New Multitudes a little better than Mermaid Avenue.

All that would have taken too long, classic Hybrid Soc Prof tl;dr…

There have been two other recordings of songs from Guthrie’s archives… one by the folk/jazz artist Jonatha Brook (yes, Jonatha) and another by a Native American “alternative” band, Blackfire. Neither are my cup of tea. By contrast, the New Multitudes and Mermaid Avenue collaborations make me really happy.

As many people – from performers to reviewers to me – have noted, what people who think they know Woody Guthrie songs aren’t always expecting is the sheer amount of love, sex and drugs… it’s almost like people did those things before the 60s (the sociologist writes shaking his head…)!

I tried somewhere between five and nine – depending on how you count such things – different approaches to selecting and ordering songs from these collections and I always ended up losing songs I wasn’t willing to cut. In the end, I opted for alternating selections from each set. It’s imperfect (I left out Natalie Merchant for goodness sake!), but in the end I’m quite happy with it. Enjoy.

1. California Stars (Wilco, Mermaid Avenue, v.1, 1998)
2. Jake Walk Blues (Jay Farrar, vocals, New Multitudes, 2012)
3. Another Man’s Done Gone (Wilco Mermaid Avenue, v.1, 1998)
4. I Was A Goner (Anders Parker, vocals, New Multitudes, 2012)
5. Go Down to the Water (Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions/v.3, 2012)
6. Angel’s Blues (Anders Parker, vocals, New Multitudes, 2012)
7. Black and Blowing (Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue, v.2, 2000)
8. Fly High (Jim James, vocals, New Multitudes, 2012)
9. Remember the Mountain Bed (Wilco, Mermaid Avenue, v.1, 1998)
10. Chorine, My Sheba Queen (Will Johnson and Jim James, duet, New Multitudes, 2012)

HSP

 

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 16)

A GUEST SERIES


30. God Knows It’s True – Teenage Fanclub (1990 Paperhouse Records)

Released as a single in November 1990 (It did not chart)

Another day, another record that I was introduced to by OPG. I was a huge Teenage Fanclub fan, I guess I still am, although I admit, that as part of the same pointless space saving exercise that I referred to in Number 41, I sold three of their albums on vinyl for vast amounts of cash. Apparently original Creation Records vinyl releases are worth money, who knew…? As brilliant as ‘Grand Prix’ is, I wouldn’t pay £54 for a slightly battered vinyl copy (but still in good condition and playable) of it but some fool from Cheltenham did exactly that.

Anyway, ‘God Knows It’s True’ was one of the songs that convinced me that I should pick up a guitar and learn how to play it, rather than actually just pretend I could in front of the mirror and say I could to impressionable young ladies in pubs.

I can’t remember exactly where I was when I first heard it, but I know it was on a tape that OPG did for me, which was called ‘Shoplifters Paradise Vol.2’. It was compiled entirely from songs that she had nicked from the shelves of Our Price and then returned a few weeks later when no one was looking.

Anyway, I found myself an old acoustic guitar and found a bloke who could teach me the basics. My plan was to master the acoustic, upgrade to Fender or something cool, form a band and headline Reading (not Glastonbury) before 1995. Easy.

I walked into my first lesson, guitar slung over my shoulder, charity shop shirt unbuttoned down to the pubis bone, like the troubled troubadour I was, and my teacher, Mr Hawkins, looked at me over his half-moon glasses and sighed, loudly. The first words to me were, “You’re not Jim Bloody Morrison”. His second words to me were “If you tell me you want to learn how to play like Kurt Cobain, you can leave right now. I’ll give you your money back.”

Now. I sort of did want to learn how to play like Kurt Cobain, but I said, “No, not at all. I want to learn how to play like this” and thrust a tape with ‘God Knows It’s True’ at the start of it into his delighted hands. He put it on and sighed loudly again. He went to a cupboard and pulled out a piece of vinyl and put that on. It was The Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum.

“It’s fundamentally the same record” he said (it’s not, clearly) “But, we can work with that”.

Six weeks later I’d mastered the basics, well I knew three chords. Eight weeks later I formed my first band.

I’ve realised that the version of ‘God knows Its True’ that I truly love is the Peel Session version because it in the words of Badger “Rocks, like a bastard” so in fact it’s that version I’ve picked. Both the single and the Peel Session are backed with versions of this

So Far Gone

Oh and I still can’t play ‘God Knows It’s True’ on the guitar.

SWC

JC adds

Here’s the studio versions of both songs:-

God Knows It’s True
So Far Gone

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #204 : MEAT WHIPLASH

I previously wrote about today’s featured bandback in 2015.  There’s little I can add to what was said before. There’s a lot of name-dropping for such a short piece.

Meat Whiplash from East Kilbride were amongst the first to be signed to Creation Records.

The line-up was Paul McDermott (vocals), Stephen McLean (guitar), Edward Connelly (bass guitar) and Michael Kerr (drums). They took their name from a B-side track by The Fire Engines. They then became The Motorcycle Boy when Alex Taylor (of The Shop Assistants) joined the group in 1987.

Meat Whiplash only ever released one 7″ record. It was in September 1985 with a sleeve featuring actor Robert Vaughan that had been printed up by Bobby Gillespie and hand-folded by their record label’s owner, Alan McGee.

The band were the opening act at North London Polytechnic on 15 March 1985 on the occasion of the infamous “riot gig” by Jesus and Mary Chain.

That one 7″ single was included on CD 86 and here it is along with its b-side. It’s a bit high on the noisy and tuneless scale:-

mp3 : Meat Whiplash – Don’t Slip Up
mp3 : Meat Whiplash – Here It Comes

JC

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 32)

30 years since this was composed and recorded.   It’s a shameful indictment of successive governments, in both London and Edinburgh, that so little has changed across many communities with the result that the issues raised in this pop hymn to isolation, depression and utter misery are just as abundant as they were after a decade of Thatcherism.

Husband don’t know what he’s done
Kids don’t know what’s wrong with Mum
She can’t say, they can’t see
Putting it down to another bad day
Daddy don’t know what he’s done
Kids don’t know what’s wrong with Mum

So this is how it feels to be lonely
This is how it feels to be small
This is how it feels
When your word means nothing at all

There’s a funeral in the town
Some guy from the top estate
Seems they found him under a train
And yet he had it all on a plate

So this is how it feels to be lonely
This is how it feels to be small
This is how it feels
When your word means nothing at all

Husband don’t know what he’s done
Kids don’t know what’s wrong with Mum
She can’t say, they can’t see
Putting it down to another bad day

So this is how it feels to be lonely
This is how it feels to be small
This is how it feels
When your word means nothing at all
So this is how it feels to be lonely
This is how it feels to be small
This is how it feels
When your word means nothing at all

mp3 : Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels

There is also a radio mix of the song, concerning two lines of the second verse.

‘There’s a funeral in the town’ was changed to ‘Black car drives through the town’, while ‘Seems they found him under a train’ is replaced by the less gruecome but arguably more chilling and moving ‘Left a note for a local girl’

mp3 : Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels (radio mix)

And while I’m here…..from the 12″ vinyl sitting in the cupboard:-

mp3 : Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels (extended)

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 15)

A GUEST SERIES


31. Birdhouse In Your Soul – They Might Be Giants (1989 Elektra Records)

Released as a single in March 1990 (Reached Number 6)

A song that reminds me of being a school and in particular about a girl who I’m going to call Lucy. Lucy was the first girl I ever kissed. A rather fumbled affair which took place on the corner of the road that leads to my dad’s house. About ten people inadvertently witnessing this embarrassment, including a lad who lived three doors down, Paul, who took great pleasure in telling literally everyone in the street what he’d witnessed. I didn’t mind really, my social status climbed about three rungs that week.

Another witness was Danny. He actually managed to break the kiss up (which lasted about ten seconds) by crashing his bike into us and laughing at me. Danny was an arse, and I am confident, that, despite not speaking or seeing him for 29 years, he is still an arse right now. I think he will still have the same high pitched squealing laughter and will probably have the same rubbish haircut and still be wearing chinos that are took small for him. Two years from that kiss, by the way, and it’s not relevant, I’m just sort of proud of this fact, my brother beat the shit of out Danny in a park. I say ‘the shit’ he hit him three times, once, in the stomach, once on the shoulder and third one in the face, before Danny ran off crying for his mother. I forget the reason why, it was probably something to do with football. That or the fact that my brother just didn’t like him.

Anyway, back to Lucy. We got to together on a school trip to a farm, about seven days before that kiss. It was dead romantic, I stood in a barn full of cows and shit whilst Lucy’s best friend, Penny, asked me the question. This was because Lucy had lost her voice. She genuinely had. I hadn’t really ever been out with girls at that stage, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said “If you like”. For the next few days at school we walked around holding hands, and stuff, quickly shoving them in our pockets when the teachers ambled past.

One evening, the evening before the kiss, we went on our first (and last) date. This was to the Ice Rink, the place where everyone in the Medway towns goes on a date. We had a burger (or a cheese sandwich in my case, as I was proudly pushing my new found status as a vegetarian) and then held hands as we tip toed around the ice rink, trying not to fall over and trying not to embarrass ourselves. We had both ignored the fact that neither of us could ice skate or had any interest in it.

Eventually we gave up and we sat together in the little café on those rubbish plastic chairs that make it sound like you are farting when you wriggle around, we talk about life, parents, school, music, as I nervously pushed the tomato shaped sauce bottle around on the table.

It was then that I realised that Lucy’s favourite band on the planet was Bros. Something which you can’t ignore even when you are 14 and trying to be cool. I mean I don’t think Bros had been in charts for a good six months at this stage. Still she was my girlfriend and I could probably change rubbish tastes. I told her that Bros were shit and that there were a million better things to listen to (even back then I was a wannabe music critic)

When I got home after the date at the ungodly hour of seven pm, I made her a tape, with all my favourite songs on it – I mean that’s what you do when you have a girlfriend – right?

Side One – Track Two – was this song, because at the time it was one of my favourite songs in all the world. The next day I proudly handed the tape to her – which had a crappily drawn heart on it or something and she hugged me. After school I walked her home and the kiss happened.

The next day in the middle of a history lesson about Florence Nightingale, she sat behind and handed me a note. It said “Sorry, but it’s over.”

That is exactly what it said. Still eight days was my new record for how long I’d had a girlfriend for.

Let’s fast forward a bit.

Lucy for her sins, moved away at the end of 1991 (and I barely spoke to her after she dumped me in double history) but she stayed in touch with Penny. One lunchtime, towards the middle of 1992 Penny came up to me in the common room at school and handed me a tape and a little letter. It was from Lucy. I was surprised because I’d literally not given her a single consideration since she left the school.

The mixtape contained some fairly decent indie bands and such like (ok, it had The Mission and the Sisters of Mercy on it, but you know decent enough). The letter said (amongst other things), ‘I never got the chance to say thank you for the mixtape, it changed my taste in music totally. Bros were shit.” And there on Side One – Track Two, was ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’.

This was also on the cassette, can’t remember exactly where though.

Box Set Go – The High

SWC

 

 

THE BIG HITS…..30 YEARS ON (3)

 

The third month of the new feature. The charts of March 1990 had Beats International at the top for a while, but from the aspect of singles making their entry during the month, one act kind of stands out….and they are actually up first.

Elephant Stone – Stone Roses

Three months after Fool’s Gold had given Stone Roses a first major hit, a re-issued Elephant Stone matched the achievement with a #8 placing on the week of entry, 3 March 1990.  Rather surprisingly, it dropped down two places immediately after, eventually slipping out of the Top 75 altogether after six weeks.

A Lover Spurned – Marc Almond

In at #32 on 3 March and managed to crawl its up three more places the following week. A very rare instance of a Marc Almond-penned single cracking the top end of the charts. This was his 14th such single and only his third to reach the Top 40, with his other hits all being covers.

Love Shack – B52s

A band that had enjoyed minimal success prior to this over the previous 12 years, with just a 1986 re-release of a double-A single consisting of Rock Lobster/ Planet Clare selling in any sort of numbers. Tailor-made for radio with its catchy and shout-along chorus, it was no surprise that after entering the charts on 3 March at #33 it hung around for almost three months, peaking at #2 for three weeks, kept off the top spot initially by Beats International and then by German dance-act Snap, whose song The Power would first enter the charts later in the month and enjoy two weeks at the very top in late March/early April.

Loaded – Primal Scream (single version)

A band that had been regarded as something of a joke throughout the late 80s. This was something completely different. It’s an example of a song that actually didn’t do all that much sales-wise but whose influence would prove to be so much greater. It came in at #47 on 3 March and just over a month later it reached its peak of #16. It was out of the charts by the time the summer arrived, but it proved to be a massive hit in the clubs all year long, setting the tone for the huge sales of the album Screamadelica when it hit the shops some seven months later.

De-Luxe – Lush (from the Mad Love EP)

I didn’t think I was going to be able to salvage any new entries from the chaert of 10 March until my eyes got all the way down to #55. The debut EP disappeared as quickly as it had come in as would be the case throughout Lush’s career. Eight times they made the Top 75, not once did any of the singles stay longer than three weeks – even the big hits from the mid-90s which developed the habit of coming in high on the week of release (Single Girl : #21, Ladykillers : #22, 500 (Shake Baby Shake): #21) before crashing and burning.

Strawberry Fields Forever – Candy Flip

One–hit wonders with this debut effort, with the follow-up stalling at #60 and two further efforts not cracking the Top 75. In at #18 on 17 March and it eventually got as high as #3. The duo of by Danny Spencer (vocals, keyboards) and Ric Peet (keyboards) named themselves after candyflipping, the name given to the taking of ecstasy and LSD at the same time. It’s no surprise that they turned their attention to a rave/acid house take on the Beatles song

Made of Stone – The Stone Roses

The cash-in continues. At least Elephant Stone hadn’t been on the debut album so there perhaps were legitimate reasons for its re-issue so that folk could own and enjoy it.  Made of Stone had bombed exactly 12 months later with a placement of #90. This time around, it came in on 17 March at #20, which proved to be its peak as it dropped down immediately.  Silvertone Records weren’t quite finished mind you…..

This Is How It Feels – Inspiral Carpets

Having been linked into the Manchester/baggy movement, it was no real surprise that Inspiral Carpets were next to come off the conveyer belt as far as the charts were concerned. This Is How It Feels is an almighty piece of music, one that I featured just yesterday on the songs as short stories series. It’s a disgrace that the sentiments from the song are just as applicable today as they were 30 years ago. Entered the charts at #22, got up to #14 a couple of weeks later and was only ever bettered, performance-wise, by Dragging Me Down two years later.

Chime – Orbital

Further evidence that dance music from the clubs and the fields where the raves were happening was crossing over into the mainstream. Orbital, consisting of brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll, took their name from the M25, the orbital motorway that circles Greater London and which was central to the rave scene and party network in the South East of England during the early days of acid house. Chime was the debut single and its appearance in the charts, initially at #28 on 24 March led to an invite to appear on Top of The Pops during which the brothers wore t-shirts making a protest about the impending introduction of the Poll Tax in England, a measure that had, on its earlier introduction in Scotland, created civil unrest, as it would also do in England later that very same week of the TOTP appearance (the director avoided any close-up shots of the brothers, concentrating instead on the audience….the single climbed to #17 the following week)

Orbital would prove to be one of the biggest, most important and influential dance acts to emerge out of the UK at any point in history – but that’s really for friends of this blog to highlight rather than me.

Your Love Takes Me Higher – The Beloved

The success of Hello, as covered in the first entry of this series, led to the label opting for a re-release of a single that had flopped in February 1990. An absolute belter of a track, one that found favour with the ravers and the indie-kids alike in terms of dancing, it didn’t transfer to sales as it came in at #40 on 24 March, going up one place the next week and then disappearing.

Pictures Of You – The Cure

The 18th successive single to go Top 50; there would be a further eight such successes before the release of Gone, which stalled at #60 just before Xmas 1996. It’s actually quite astonishing that Pictures Of You charted as well as it did, coming in at #28 on 31 March and inching its way up to #24 a couple of weeks later as it had been around for the best part of 12 months as a track on the Disintegration LP. Fans of The Cure again demonstrating brand loyalty, and even today the second hand market for many of their singles is a healthy one in terms of the price they fetch.

She Bangs The Drums – The Stone Roses

First released in July 89 when it made #36, a fairly decent showing for an underground band with no track record of success, Silvertone decided to re-issue She Bangs The Drums just two weeks after the re-release of Made of Stone. It meant that the chart of the final week of March 1990 had two Stone Roses 45s inside the Top 50. World domination beckoned, didn’t it?

Cobra Bora (Call The Cops Mix) – 808 State (from The Extended Pleasure of Dance EP)

Between November 1989 and March 1991, 808 State would release six singles/EPs, all of which, with the exception of The Extended Pleasure of Dance EP, went Top 10. I’d love to have been able to give you a reason but I can, in all honesty, say that I didn’t even know this EP existed until typing these words out. When I later go and track down a copy, it’ll be the first time I’ll have ever heard it.

Hope some of these bring back good memories.

JC
(aged 56 years and 9 months)

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #244 : THE BEATLES

A GUEST POSTING by JULES

As a kid (I’m 59) I was sort of aware of The Beatles; All You Need Is Love, Here Comes The Sun, and of course Yellow Submarine but it was listening to the Ray Moore late night show on Radio 2 under the bed covers on a transistor radio that I had my epiphany.

The theme music was an instrumental version of Here, There and Everywhere.

Enthused with the knowledge that my top sleeping song was by The Beatles I saved up my pocket money and bought Revolver. Wow what a cracker not a duff track on it (er well see above) but this one made realise that popular music can be different

Tomorrow Never Knows

Next step down to the record shop for the “Blue” album – oh my what treasures as I discovered all the hits and random good stuff.

Back In The U.S.S.R.

Hey mum it will soon be my birthday any chance of the “Red” album? Well, what the thunder and lightning is this? No odd cool stuff just songs hmm…..Oh hang on these are good as well.

I Should Have Known Better

Back to the record shop

Sgt Pepper, later on at school we could bring an album to play at music class, never the coolest kid but this boosted my street cred (remained a virgin). Like a lot of things some lyrics ain’t aged well but at least we do try to improve.

I used to be cruel to my woman
I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved
Man I was mean but I’m changing my scene
And I’m doing the best that I can (Ooh)

I admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can’t get no worse)
Yes I admit it’s getting better (Better)
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine
Getting so much better all the time

Getting Better

It was around this time that Dad informed me that Paul wrote all the music and John all the words, also if he wants to be Back in the U.S.S.R. no one is stopping him. As for myself I was getting to like George.

If I Needed Someone

Started trawling through The Beatles section on a more regular basis along with the discount box where I bagged Magical Mystery Tour double e.p. along with The Clash e.p. The Cost Of Living. And John Lennon’s Live Peace In Toronto. Sadly didn’t have enough cash for The Beatles In Italy, went back next week….

I’m A Loser

Some of the early LPs had good selection of covers for me the stand out track on their first album was a slow love song penned by Lennon and McCartney.

Ask Me Why

The last “proper” album I bought was Let It Be mainly because it was universally slagged off, and for good reason, Paul was pissed about the strings imposed on The Long And Winding Road (rectified with the horn section on Wings Over America) plus a rehashed charity song (Across The Universe) and studio out-takes and an old composition not considered worthy before, but on one track they got their mojo back and played like a rock band.

I`ve Got A Feeling

Oh bugger I forgot Ringo

The last album recorded was Abbey Road and featured the only Beatles drum solo.

The End

And his dulcet tones on the final obvious track

Goodnight

As a bonus bonus track The Rutles did the “Blue” album in one song.

Shangri-La

Goodnight and Good-luck

Love, Jules