AN ICA WITH A DIFFERENCE (#253)

JC writes…..

ICAs 249-252 are in the bag and scheduled for the next few weeks. I have a rule of thumb of only posting one per week so that the details can be properly enjoyed. But, given we are living in strange and unprecedented circumstances, I’m breaking those rules as what follows is timely as well as enjoyable. It will, in due course be provided with a catalogue number of ICA 253.

COUNTING THE DAYS
An Imaginary Compilation Album for troubled times

A guest posting by Jonny the Friendly Lawyer

It’s hard to be patient these days, waiting for the lockdowns to lift and wondering what’s going to happen. Being home all the time I completely lose track of the calendar, waking up without remembering what day it is. It got me thinking that a days-of-the-week ICA might be in order as a reminder—and a distraction.

Being me, of course I had to invent ridiculous rules about what songs could qualify. This time I decided to limit it to songs with titles consisting solely of, and not just including, the name of a particular day. So, no Blue Monday, Wednesday Week, Friday I’m In Love, Sunday Papers, and so on. Poor old David Bowie gets shunted aside despite lots of possibilities—no Love You ‘Till Tuesday, Thursday’s Child, Friday on my Mind or Drive-in Saturday. (‘Sunday’ from the Heathen LP is eligible but I had other ideas.)

I bent the rules slightly when it came to the weekend. Why not? In some respects we’re living an extended weekend. An enforced weekend? Or house arrest. Whatever—everyone prefers weekends to weekdays as a rule, don’t they?

Right, off we go:

Monday – The Jam. I ran into a quandary straight away. Wilco have a terrific song titled ‘Monday’ on their second album, Being There. But The Jam’s tune, with its D minor chorus, is a little less buoyant and more consistent with the feeling of starting a new work week. To quote a former colleague, “Mondays are awful.” Off 1980’s Sound Affects.

Tuesday – Yaz. Or Yazoo to folks overseas. Kind of a melancholy little tune. I’m impressed by how well this song has held up since its release back in 1982. Just vocals, synths and a drum machine—doesn’t sound current by any means but it’s still appealing.

Wednesday – Drive-By Truckers. DBT’s are one of the more lyrically compelling bands in the Americana shoebox they’ve been dumped in. “There was something in the envelope she passed him/That weighed more to him than paper and some ink” is a great opening line to what could be an entry in the Some Songs Are Good Short Stories series. From 2006’s A Blessing And A Curse, when the band featured Jason Isbell.

Thursday – Morphine. I was glad when Hybrid Soc Prof included this tune in his excellent Morphine ICA. Such a unique band: 2-string slide bass, baritone sax and a jazz kit, with the much-missed Mark Sandman’s good-natured croon over the top. A great little story that Tom Waits might have written.

Friday – Joe Jackson. Here’s my hero Graham Maby driving this fine tune along with an irresistible bass line. Back when it came out my sister wrote the lyrics down and substituted her name for Gilly’s. My dad found it and freaked out, which amused both of us. Perhaps more than it should have. This is from Jackson’s second album, I’m The Man, released in October 1979, the same year as his stellar debut Look Sharp!

Friday Night, Saturday Morning – The Specials. Another quandary. Nouvelle Vague’s cover version of this tune is superb. But I chose the original because I heard Tracey Ullman talking about it on the radio. She was being interviewed for Steve Jones’s program (Jonesy’s Jukebox) and said that it was a dead accurate account. In particular she recalled how she and her friends would drop their bags in the middle of the floor and dance in a circle around them to avoid them being stolen. A b-side to the 1981 single ‘Ghost Town’.

Saturday Afternoon – Luke Haines. Mr. Haines fell off my radar after the Auteurs until JC’s long-running series. This is one pulled from that strange trip.

Saturday Nite – Blitzen Trapper. Many eligible songs to choose from again, but I love this one most. Blitzen Trapper are an amazing band with loads of great albums that no one ever seems to have ever heard. This comes from 2008’s Furr, which I strongly recommend to the TVV crowd. The title track alone is worth the price of admission.

Sunday Morning – No Doubt. Okay, I know I might get some stick for bypassing the Velvets’ song of the same name. That and the many excellent covers of it by the likes of Beck, the Feelies, OMD, James, Belle & Sebastian, and countless others. But I went with the No Doubt single anyway NOT because they’re from California, and NOT because the beginning sounds like The Jam’s ‘Dreams of Children’, and NOT EVEN because the Specials’ Terry Hall appears in the video. Nope, my love for this song comes down to the very last moments, when Gwen Stefani sings the title in lead and harmony as the tune resolves to an E major chord. It’s one of the most musically satisfying song endings I know.

Sunday Afternoon – The 88. Kind of doubt anyone except maybe Linear Tracking Brian is familiar with this band. They were part of the early 00’s LA power-pop revival that included Baby Lemonade, the Wondermints and the Sugarplastic. I have a special fondness for the band because they were kind to Sam the Friendly Artist when he was a kid, even letting him strum their guitars before a show at the Troubadour. Just as the Wondermints went on to back up Brian Wilson and Baby Lemonade became Arthur Lee’s latter-day version of Love, the 88 toured behind the Kinks’ Ray Davies. From 2003’s Kind of Light.

Sunday Evening – Clearlake. Am I the only person who loves Clearlake? Pretty sure they’ve never featured on this site. Don’t know anyone that knows them, either. This Brighton band released 3 great albums in the 00’s and then disappeared without a trace. This moody track, from their 2001 debut Lido, calls an end to a weary week. So we can start it all over again.

JTFL

WAY OUT IN THE WATER, SEE IT SWIMMIN’?

A few years ago I picked up Kala, an album releasd by the English-Sri Lankan rapper, songwriter, and producer Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasami, better known as M.I.A,   It was going for next to nothing in a second-hand section and I did so on the basis that I had really liked a couple of the singles, and in particular Paper Planes which makes great use of a Clash sample.

The thing is, I’ve always had a problem making time to listen to albums that I don’t buy at the time of their release, especially since getting immersed in this blog, as time is restricted and I’m usually listening to new stuff or re-acquainting myself with material that I’m intending to write about. As such, Kala was played in full on no more than two occasions and then put on the shelf – not because I didn’t like it but I just didn’t have the capacity to take everything on board.

I did a quick update on my I-phone recently to accommodate the music delivered by Santa, and in freeing up more space than I needed, I found myself racking some through old albums for inclusion and Kala turned out to be one of them. So, on a bus journey up to the football, I gave it a listen through a set of headphones for the first time. It really is an extraordinary album, incorporating the gritty urban sounds of the UK and the US with more traditional music from Africa, Asia and Australia, with a set of street-wise and highly political raps in which very few who are in power or have the ability to make a difference are spared.

It was only the fact that I was giving the album my undivided attention did I fully pick up that one of the songs, which is a critique of just how easy and cheap it is for young folk to but AK-47s in Liberia (one of the countries in which the album was recorded), contained a sample from one of my favourite Pixies songs:-

mp3 : M.I.A. – $20

It’s a really imaginative and very unexpected use of the chorus of Where Is My Mind? I was quite surprised that Maya, who only moved to London in the mid-80s as an 11-year old girl, was so au fait with the work of Boston’s finest given that she has talked extensively about the sorts of music that she had listened to in her youth and said that it mostly centred around dance and rap. But then again, she was someone who in her early adult life was best friends with Justine Frischmann, and for a while they were flatmates which, if nothing else, would certainly have exposed Maya to all sorts of indie rock’n’roll. Whatever the ways and means, it’s a brilliant use of the work of Pixies and a highlight of an outstanding album.

Oh, and any excuse to play the original:-

mp3 : Pixies – Where Is My Mind?

One thing to note. Black Francis’s pronunciation of the holiday destination has the emphasis on the rib in the middle of Caribbean (Ca/rib/eh/an) whereas us Brits always say it differently (Carri/bee/ann), as in this:-

mp3 : Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen

We’re right. You yanks are wrong……

JC

SWC WAS COMING UP FOR ONLY HIS 5th BIRTHDAY

I’ve got this series underway that’s looking back at chart hits from 30 years ago, which is proving to be scary. If I had taken it back to 1980, then it would have been absolutely terrifying to realise just how long some pieces of vinyl have been in my possession.

Like the 10″ version of the first hit single, in May 1980, for Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. I often try and clean up some of the tracks that I post here, looking out for cleaner copies that don’t snap, crack, pop or skip. In this instance, I’m just going straight from the vinyl, which has survived reasonably intact, possibly as a result of the songs being pressed on a particularly hard piece of vinyl that would refuse to bend no matter how hard you would try (not that I did try…..well, not since the first couple of days after buying it as I had genuinely never seen a record that looked or felt like this particular piece of plastic).

mp3 : Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages

Two tracks on the b-side, one being a remix/instrumental version of the single and the other being an electropop take on a Velvet Underground classic:-

mp3 : Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Taking Sides Again
mp3 : Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Waiting For The Man

I’ve long thought that there’s a real sense of a bassless Joy Division to Taking Sides Again.

But 40 years ago?????????  C’mon………………………………………….

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #248 : TELEVISION

A Guest Posting by Hybrid Soc Prof

Your ‘No School Baseball or Music in Michigan’ Correspondent

What do you write about Television that hasn’t been said? In short, the pantheon of twin lead guitar bands includes the band near its apogee.

As I’ve said before, I was a fan of over-the-top mid-70s arena art-rock when the proper reaction to that music – the various forms of punk, disco, reggae, etc. that got you off your ass to dance – happened. So, I came to punk – of we’re categorizing the band based on when they played ’76-78, and where, NYC and CBGBs – after the fact.

I’m pretty sure, then, that it wasn’t until 1985 when Robert Palmer, then reviewing music for the New York Times, introduced me to the band with the claim that a number of groups from the American Southwest seemed to be desperately in search of Television’s twin lead magic… True West, in particular, comes to mind (their version of True Lucifer Sam is pretty great.)

The first time I heard Marquee Moon (1977), I was transfixed. The second time, I was transfixed. The third time… to this day, the record just stops me in my tracks. When I first got Adventure (1978), I was disappointed, not because it’s not damn good, but because it lands such a great distance from Marquee Moon. The difference, I think, is that Adventure is much more Tom Verlaine’s record and much less a set of band compositions. The extent to which Richard Lloyd is less rarely out front and the much greater simplicity of the bass and drum lines is my evidence. Television (1992) is, again, more a Verlaine than band record, though it comes together wonderfully in places. Palmer was a fan, me less so.

I start with a live track, The Dream’s Dream, the last song on Adventure but the opener of the Live at the Waldorf collection. Right off the bat, all four members are playing discrete, intertwined, only rarely overlapping, lines, making and filling space like Arsenal playing at its peak. The music rises and falls, moves and shifts, builds and recedes, adds and subtracts… give it a shot with a good pair of headphones.

Foxhole, which really should have been a power pop hit, simplifies things. Drums, bass, guitars and vocals line up for the chorus but are largely there to bracket the 30 second solo from ~2:20 to 2:50. That solo changes the pace and pulse of the tune and makes it worthy of inclusion.

Marquee Moon starts with one, then two, guitars, a simple heartbeat of a bassline before adding ineluctable drums on a gentle stroll… it’s just heaven. And the song is like that for four and a half minutes. The break comes and the song restarts for Verlaine’s extended solo drawn along faster and faster along that initial path by the rhythm section, and then a different course, and then still another, followed by a waterfall release (where the hell did that piano come from?!) two and half minutes later. Then we’re back at the musical beginning so the lyrical end can arrive. I remember the first time like it was yesterday.

What do you do with an ICA after that? Stop, make it an CD-S? Back to the beginning, maybe? To Little Johnny Jewel, pt I and II? Yup. Recorded before the Marquee Moon sessions, you can hear the future in it. What stands out is Billy Ficca’s drumming. He sets such an amazing, diverse and shifting foundation for the fractured-to-the-point-of-incompleteness “song”… It’s minimalist as heck, but it’s not, and it’s the only time in the history of the band – that I can think of – where there’s acoustic strumming. Sometimes I think it’s unfinished, needed to be longer, or edited or… it’s hard to be of one mind.

Glory is my favorite song on Adventure. Lloyd’s guitar dominates, even without the solo (which gets buried in the mix, anyway), hovering within and just below the rhythmic lyrics. There are a lot of ways in which Adventure is very much a second record, the one written within a year after the release of the first – when the first took many years to write, hone and perfect. It’s not that it’s not really good, it’s just not as good.

In that vein, the one song from the eponymous 1992 album I’ve included, Call Mr. Lee, has a great sound and is a good listen but is more an excuse for Verlaine’s lyrics and guitar than a band song…. I like a guitar god as much as the next person but, when a band has scored 97-to-100 on many songs across two records, achieving 88’s 15 years later is kind of a bummer.

Compare the second guitar, bass and drums on Call Mr. Lee to their interplay on Friction, from Marquee Moon, it’s like night and day. The guitars are really great on this but follow the bass on this one… sometimes with the drums, sometimes the second guitar, sometimes to vocals, sometimes in its own space. Then go back and focus on drums, it’s a similar, shifted weave. Listening to Glory is fun, and Call Mr. Lee is evocative, but Friction rewards focus and attention.

A lot of songs have been in this spot as the ICA came together but, after putting it in, taking it out, and looking for another location I finally came back to Knocking on Heaven’s Door – a regular encore in their live shows in the 70s – as a second live performance. They make it their own without transforming it and, subtle, the two guitars work really nicely together.

I love Elevation, Lloyd’s guitar work really stands out. The more I worked with the songs for this, the more distinct Marquee Moon and Adventure became and while my favorite guitar build and break on Marquee Moon is in Torn Curtain (not included, sadly) where a solo builds from 5:20 to 6:25 with me expecting it to break any second for the last half minute before dropping of the cliff to a pair deep growling notes that simply bring me joy, the way Lloyd and Verlaine, intimately aided by Fred Smith and Ficca, play off one another and support Verlaine’s always a little strange voice is a world of fun.

I’ve met people who think, despite the differences between the records, that Television’s ultimate guitar song is where I’m ending this ICA, The Fire, from Adventure. I like that I don’t agree but can understand the argument. It’s the constrained beauty of the solo hinted at around 1:50 that turns the song – almost a lullaby to that point – into something greater for about a minute and a half after 3:40. There’s no big finish to the song, or the ICA, but I don’t think it’s really a band about big finishes.

Side A

The Dream’s Dream, from Live at the Waldorf, June 29, 1978 (2003)
Foxhole, from Adventure (1978)
Marquee Moon, from Marque Moon (1977)
Little Johnny Jewel, pt I and II, an Ork Records Single (1975)
Glory, from Adventure (1978)

Side B

Call Mr. Lee, from Television (1991)
Friction, from Marquee Moon (1977)
Knocking on Heaven’s Door, from The Blow Up, March 20, 1978 (1982)
Elevation, from Marquee Moon (1977)
The Fire, from Adventure (1978)

HSP

(NB : Links can be found in the body of the main text)

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 28)

A GUEST SERIES

18 – Blue Monday (’88) – New Order (1988, Factory Records)

Released as a single in April 1988 (Reached Number 3)

“You should listen to this”. This is Martin, and he is talking to a 15 year old me outside our school gates one Wednesday evening as we stand waiting for Dubstar Chris who is ‘in the art room’ (he is actually spraying offensive graffiti about the French teacher Mr Ashton and his liking for cats in the teachers toilets, but I never told you that).

With this Martin hands me a CD. He brings it out of an inside pocket of a green army jacket, and for some reason I feel like a junkie as I shuffled the CD into my rucksack

The CD is called ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ and it is obviously an album by New Order. It will be in about two hours time be the first thing I have ever listened to by New Order.

Martin was always ahead of the crowd. He is still involved in the music world, in fact, he is currently in The Charlamagnes who you should google and then check out and then immediately buy their back catalogue. Anyway, I take the CD and I go home and do my homework and then I slip into something more comfortable and decide to give the CD a listen. Now at the time my music likes were rapidly expanding. I discovered a new band that I loved pretty much every day. If it had guitars, I was ‘in to it’. I fully expected New Order to be my new favourite thing in the entire world.

So there I sat, on my dads sofa with some big comedy headphones plonked on my head and ‘Power Corruption and Lies’ on the stereo. I had for the past six months or so listened to Martin, Dubstar Chris and Richard chirp on about how brilliant New Order were. I’d been told how songs like ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘True Faith’ were amazing, and all I’d done was nod along. So I sat there and I waited, I have to say I was excited and I felt like I existed and that this was something. I waited for that thrill of listening to something incredible to kick in.

But.

I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get into it. I say this now, and I sort of shrink away from it in embarrassment but I much preferred ‘Street Fighting Years’ by Simple Minds which was the second album I had obtained that week (this one found in Woolworths on cassette for £1.99 – which on reflection, seems as over priced as it is overblown right now).

I didn’t listen to New Order again for a long time.

Five years in fact. By now – I am the inspiring music journalist that I was back then and I am sitting in the offices of Sony Records in London because I am picking up some music and interviewing a band called Reef, who have been on a Tv advert and are being tipped for ‘Great Success’. Whilst there I help myself to Sony’s free bar and Crisp Machine (this is true by the way, the promotions floor at Sony UK, used to include a bar full of Becks and Red Stripe and a machine that dispensed crisps) before interviewing Reef. As I was leaving, the promotions manager (Ben see Number 44) gave me a bag. It was full of CDs, mugs, promo toys, gig tickets and general shit. I loved visiting Sony, you never went away empty handed and as long as you said nice things about most of it, they kept giving you stuff.

I forget nearly everything that was in that bag, but I do remember that in there was a CD which contained New Order, it contained ‘Blue Monday ‘88’ and I couldn’t stop listening to it. In fact it was pretty much glued to the stereo for the next month or so, it was like I discovered a new band who had just released their debut single. The light had come on, the light I should have seen back in 1990 when at home in my Dad’s lounge but I was young and I’ll be honest I much preferred U2 back then.

And that is how I fell in love with New Order. I was 20. And New Order had at that point split up and I thought at the time that I had thoroughly missed the boat (which was true, I saw them live at Wembley Arena about ten years later and they were a bit rubbish to be honest), that didn’t stop me filling up the back catalogue as quick as I could though.

I, of course have form for this, I did the same thing with The Stone Roses, declaring that they ‘Were not as good as The Inspiral Carpets’ to my mate Jimmy on the way to the football in 1990. It took me three years and a serious conversation with OPG to realise my mistake – “I can’t sleep with someone who doesn’t like The Stone Roses’ was pretty much was she said one night in the pub, before I was, you know, actually sleeping with her. I re-listened to that debut album quite a lot for the next month or so.

Fools Gold (9.53) – Stone Roses (1989, Silvertone Records Number 22)

But the record for me failing to realise the greatness of a band is reserved for The Fall

Mr Pharmacist – The Fall (1986, Beggars Banquet, Number 75)

Genuinely the first time I heard The Fall I swore loudly at the stereo in disgust, that’s how appalled I was. I was 16. It took me, ahem, 25 years before I realised their brilliance.

When I was writing my first blog WYCRA we did this series called ‘One Song A Day’ and we invited fellow bloggers to stick their iPods on Random and send us a review of the very first song that came on. JC was the first to offer and the song that came on first to his iPod was something by ‘The Fall’. I swore inwardly, and regretted my brilliant idea – but then I listened to what he sent through and again, that little light came on.

SWC

 

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #209 : MIKE HERON (and JOHN BURNSIDE)

from wiki:-

James Michael Heron (born 27 December 1942) is a Scottish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his work in the Incredible String Band in the 1960s and 1970s.

Heron has also released a number of solo recordings, mostly more rock-oriented than the Incredible String Band material. The first of these, Smiling Men with Bad Reputations, released in 1971, when he was still a member of the ISB, took eclecticism to a new extreme, blending rock, folk and world music into an atmospheric whole. Contributing musicians included Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Duncan Browne and Ronnie Lane (as “Tommy & the Bijoux”), John Cale, Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Dudu Pukwana, Elton John, and Steve Winwood.

The Incredible String Band broke up in September 1974. With three other members of the final “electric” ISB lineup – Graham Forbes, John Gilston, and Malcolm Le Maistre — he formed the band Mike Heron’s Reputation, later known simply as Heron, with whom he recorded and toured until 1977. In 1977–78, while still living in the Glen Row cottage near Innerleithen which had been the Incredible String Band’s home and headquarters, he recorded songs which were eventually issued as The Glen Row Tapes. In 1979, he released a solo album on Casablanca Records. He then withdrew from performance for several years. In the 1990s he re-emerged with a new group, Mike Heron’s Incredible Acoustic Band, and released the album Where the Mystics Swim.

In 1997, he reunited with Robin Williamson for some concerts, and from 1999 to 2006 performed occasionally with a re-formed version of the Incredible String Band.

In March 2007, he recorded a song based on a poem by John Burnside, for the album Ballads of the Book, released by Chemikal Underground, with his daughter, musician Georgia Seddon.

mp3 : Mike Heron & John Burnside -Song For Irena

JC

TEN MINUTES THAT CHANGED LIVES FOREVER

From ICA 111

The third single and the first of the big hits. The accompanying video, with its animated plasticine figures of the band, was quite groundbreaking at the time, brilliantly ridiculing one of the growing menaces in the mid- 80s, namely gangs of young successful men in suits out getting drunk in wine bars on their bonuses all the while thinking they were god’s gift. There were some who actually believed the song celebrated such people….and then Paul Heaton began to be interviewed more widely!

Happy Hour went to #3 in June 1986, making pop stars out of the self-proclaimed fourth-best band in Hull. It’s a song that its songwriters – Paul Heaton and Stan Cullimore – made little more time than it takes to make a really good cup of tea, never imagining it would be the one that changed their lives forever.

The early Housemartins songs were all forged from two cheap notebooks – one full of lyrics/snippets that had come to Paul and the other, owned by Stan, which contained various chord progressions that could bu used to make a decent pop song. They had just finished work on a new song called Me and The Farmer but Paul felt more new songs were needed to air on an upcoming Peel Session. He pulled out a lyric that which reflected on a number of things that annoyed him, including sexist and boorish behaviour in offices and pubs, to which Stan thought the chord used earlier in the day on Me and the Farmer would make a good fit, as he recalled in an interview many years later:-

SC : “We’d just written Me and the Farmer and I wanted to go for a “bun run” – a trip to the local cake shop. But Paul was adamant that we needed one more song, so we came up with Happy Hour. I was so desperate to get to the cake shop that I used the same chords for the chorus in the verse, but because Paul sang a different melody over it and I did the “It’s happy hour again” backing vocals, it worked. We recorded it on a little cassette recorder, I chucked down my guitar and ran for a custard slice. The whole thing can’t have taken us much more than 10 minutes.

There’s a lot packed into its two-and-a-bit minutes, with the jaunty and catch backing vocal taking listeners down something of a blind alley as the words that Paul Heaton is singing make for grim and depressing reading (especially if you read them without fitting them into the tune):-

It’s happy hour again
I think I might be happy if I wasn’t out with them

And they’re happy, it’s a lovely place to be
Happy, that the fire’s real,
That the barman is a she

Where the haircuts smile
And the meaning of style is a night out with the boss

Where you win or you lose
And it’s them who choose
And if you don’t win, then you’ve lost

What a good place to be
Don’t believe it

‘Cause they speak a different language
And it’s never really happened to me

Don’t believe it, oh no
‘Cause it’s never been happy for me

It’s another night out with the boss
Following in footsteps overgrown with moss

And he tells me that women grow on trees
And if you catch them right, they will land upon their knees

Where they open all their wallets and they close all their minds
And they love to buy you all a drink

And then we ask all the questions, and you take all your clothes off
And go back to the kitchen sink

So, a song that many took to be a celebration of having a laugh in the pub with your mates is actually from the standpoint of someone who would rather be anywhere else and is disgusted by the misogyny on display.

It turned into one of the anthems of the summer, spending three months in the charts and seemingly never off the radio – the fact it was such a short song meant that it could be fitted in comfortably during shows if the adverts/news items/inane chat had overran and the producer was trying to avoid dead air.

mp3 : The Housemartins – Happy Hour

The 7” single had an even shorter song on the flip side….and a foot-stomping instrumental at that:-

mp3 : The Housemartins – The Mighty Ship

The sleevenotes in a later compilation album revealed that the title of the b-side was a hidden tribute to the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir of Chicago, known as ‘The Ship’ and who had been releasing gospel LPs from as far back as 1965. It was also the church where the Rev. Jesse Jackson was ordained.

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 27)

A GUEST SERIES

19 – Pennyroyal Tea – Nirvana (1994, Geffen Records)

Not Released as a single in April 1994 (Release cancelled)
Re-released as a Limited Edition 7” in April 2014 (Reached Number 121)

‘Pennyroyal Tea’ was as most of you will know supposed to be the third single to be released from Nirvana’s final studio album ‘In Utero’. It was all set to go when Kurt Cobain tragically took his own life and therefore it was rapidly cancelled. The B Side for those of you that are interested was a cheery little ditty called ‘I Hate Myself and I Want To Die’

Ten years later it was finally released as a limited edition single a part of a Record Store Day, which means that it qualifies for this rundown. I would imagine that Cobain would be delighted with reaching Number 19 in this chart.

I was sitting on the sofa in OPGs lounge when I heard the news about Cobain’s death. OPG was devastated and for something like the next four hours we sat and listened to Nirvana records. It was a bleak few hours, I think I may have drunk some cider as well.

We had tickets to see the band on May 7th 1994 in London. We were heading up there with a couple of people from the branch of Our Price where she worked. One of these people was a lanky bloke called Stuart, who only ever wore a black and red stripey long sleeved t-shirt, tight black jeans and Doc Martens. Like Dennis The Menace, only more annoying. I called him Mr Goatee because he fondled goats had a goatee beard.

Mr Goatee liked his American Rock and played it constantly, you knew when he was working in the Chatham Branch of Our Price because all you could hear when he walked past the shop was tracks like this

Today – Smashing Pumpkins (1993, Hut Records, Number 44)

And very occasionally this – but only I feel if OPG was in control of the office stereo.

Let It Slide – Mudhoney (1991, Sub Pop Records, Number 60)

Regular readers of T(n) VV will remember that when I broke up with OPG in the summer of 1994, (outside the Purple Turtle in Reading half way through a Scarfo gig).

Skinny – Scarfo (1995, Fierce Panda Records, 7” Only Did Not Chart)

We broke up largely because she had fallen for the charms of Mr Goatee. I remember chucking a tape of his out of the window of my car somewhere on the M25 outside of Leatherhead, after OPG and I split and laughing like a maniac as cars crushed it unto dust under their wheels. Then I cried nonstop for the rest of journey.

SWC

 

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #247 : CHUCK MOSLEY

A GUEST CONTRIBUTION by STEVE MCLEAN

The Late, Great Chuck (Fantasy Chuck Mosley Compilation)

If you’re reading this in the future, we’re all trapped inside. There’s been a disease outbreak and in spite of Hollywood insisting for years that we’d be rescued by a ‘housewife’s favourite’ type scientist, there’s no sign of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon or even an 90s Dustin Hoffman. Turns out you just have to stay home and hope for the best. It seems Covid 19 advice is the same as the customer support for Yodel and DPD.

So I’m home and flicking through old records and I’ve come across Faith No More’s Introduce Yourself. It’s the one with vocalist Chuck Mosley before the band became super massive with the arrival of Mike Patton (Chuck himself had replaced a very young Courtney Love.. off to youtube you go).

Introduce Yourself has always been my favourite FNM album, I’m not saying that to be a contrary bellend… I AM a contrary bellend (I think Grease 2 is better than Grease and that Star Wars Episode III is better than Return of the Jedi) but on this occasion it’s not true. This was the first Faith No More album I owned. I played it to death when I was 14. I didn’t even know it was a different singer, I just assumed that Mike Patton had changed his style between records. Looking back now you can hear this record is clearly more personal and a lot more raw than their later works. The songs are closer to stories with vocals that get right into you. Chuck *is* an acquired taste, often singing off beat and off key. He’ll get under your skin if you like things like click-tracks, vocal processing and range. If you’re not keen on slurring then I’d probably skip this whole list if I were you.

Chuck died in 2017 and I regret to this day not going to see him live when I had the chance. Troubled by alcohol and drugs his whole life, he’s had a varying career. However the highlights soar above his peers and at times are just beautiful.

Side One – Faith No More

We Care A Lot – Original Mordam Records Version (1985)

Released in 1985 for their debut solo album (also called We Care A Lot) this is one of those songs that have become a hit over time rather then landing straight away. The song was later re-recorded for their second album (Introduce Yourself) but here you can really hear Chuck growling through the recording. Mosley re-re-recorded it for his 2009 album ‘Will Rap Over Hard Rock For Food’ but that lacks the feel of the original.

As The Worm Turns (1985)

Another song from the debut album (We Care A Lot), another song the band would return to a later date (albeit as B-side re-recorded with Patton). This starts with sinister keyboard build up before it launches into a help-line for the suffering. It’s possibly an early example of Emo but you know, not shit. Emo with an 80s garage punk vibe.

‘’Listen, man, I know
That things are really rough
And everybody gets you
And life is really tough
But I know that deep down inside
There’s a feeling that rides
All the way to the end’’

Fast Disco (1987)

The opening song of Introduce Yourself and a fine example of the band as they both tell a story and explore the feelings of the average 80s city dwelling young adult. While their hairspray peers where singing about sex or partying, Chuck was vocalising the every day hardships of growing up.

Anne’s Song (1987)

The 2nd single from Introduce Yourself and possibly the finest moment in the whole in the whole FNM career. Name me another song that sings about cream soda and doesn’t sound shit? You can’t, can you? QED. It includes Chuck riffing at the start which he would develop on stage and later in his career. The song covers a party at Anne’s place. It’s about the freedom you feel when you’re having a good time. It’s a party song but it still seems to dig deeper than the average 1987 rock tune

‘I never claimed to be different I only said I was bored and she’s tired of your uniqueness it sends her over head first, then the rest of her follows’

The Crab Song (1987)

Another song with talking / riffing at the start and hits hard. It’s a break up tune that descends into a tirade against the former loved one. We’ve all been there but I’ve never seen the emotion captured so well in music before. It’s song equivalent of ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHFUCKYOU…ILOVEYOUTHOUGH. Put that into words (I mean I just did, but you know, do it better)

In 1988 Chuck left Faith No More, due to ’’erratic behavior’’ which I think is code for being cunted all of the time. FNM went on to become a massive arena headlining chart regulars who were often lumped in with the rank shitness of the Red Hot Chili Peppers by the hacks (to be honest though if you try to sarcastically take off Anthony Kiedis to nuance-free 80s / 90s rock press, you really deserve the shit)…. And Chuck went off to oblivion.

Side Two – Chuck Mosley and Friends.

Not QUITE oblivion. In 1990 Chuck joined the ranks of hardcore punk veterans Bad Brains. Although they never released anything and there’s doubt that they even recorded together, they did survive long enough to complete a world tour and a bootleg from the tour recorded at the Marquee in London survives today. I’ve only heard clips but it sounds amazing. If you’ve got a copy, I’d love a rip. Perhaps a small label could do a RSD release of it for 2021? Come on, you bedroom dwelling fucks, stop working on that fucking ‘Indie Tribute To ABBA’ which is going to be shit and put your energies into this instead.

1993 saw Chuck resurface with an outfit called Cement. They were a patchy at best with Metal Hammer riffs but without the hair. Buried in among the fret wanking and sub-rap/rock that was popular at the time were a couple of little gems.

Living Sound Delay (1993)

From the debut album, this has touches of Sugar and the Pixies, it’s a song that’s chomping at the bit from the rest of the album. It’s wanting to say ‘look at what I *can* do when I’m not trying to be Kerrang! popular’ He was seemingly trying to win back the FNM audience but those who remembered Chuck had moved to Grunge the previous year and the band now had new younger MTV based rock fans.

Chip Away (1993)

And here is a glimpse of the future. Where Mosley is starting to use his voice as an understated weapon. He’s embraced the drawl and the slurs and has invented punk country or punk folk depending on how you listen. In 1994 the tour to support the second album saw the band in a bus crash leaving Chuck with a broken back and an enforced retirement from music.

Punk Rock Movie (2009)

After dipping his toes into music on and off in the 2000s, with the odd live appearance, Chuck finally released a true solo album in 2009. Will Rap Over Hard Rock For Food. It was a statement of his financial position as much as claim. The record is okay. It’s a mixed bag but a lot of the hard edged songs had missed the boat a bit and it feels dated for the year of release. This song is one of the stand outs, it has a three-songs-in-one feel, like an alternative Band On The Run.

Nameless (2009)

Another stand out from ‘Will Rap…’ it’s a duet with Leah Lou who is an Ohio based Indie foker. It’s gentle and highlights Chuck’s voice as an instrument. In 2016/7 he toured acoustically, I think this really would have been his way forward, acoustic protest rap love songs…

Indoria – Bella Donna (2016)

Somehow he got himself involved with this outfit. The producers of this track are clever enough to put him to the forefront of the mix, capturing his breathing and intakes in all their glory. The ‘band’ or collective describe themselves with this line – ‘’What happens when an electro-pop producer, a rock singer, a polka queen, a metal guitarist, and a conga player get together to record music? Indoria’’ Which sounds fucking awful. But it’s lovely. Dear bands, stop writing your own bios, dumbarsed fucks.

After his solo acoustic tour of 2017, he joins the ‘industrial rock supergroup’ (not my fucking lame arsed words, again FFS bands) Primitive Race. He is clearly still wanting the rock press. The band sees other members such as Graham Crabb (PWEI!) Mark Thwaite (The Mission, Spear of Destiny) Dale Grover (The Melvins) plus a host of others, mainly leftover sidemen from the brief Industrial age of the late 90s….. it’s exactly what you’d expect it to sound like. They released a whole album with Chuck and it is almost certainly big in the online gaming community and with people who make youtube videos about how the Government is putting chemicals into jet streams and such. Probably.

You can hear it here. https://primitiverace.bandcamp.com/album/soul-pretender

It’s not horrible but it is not the send off Chuck deserves.

In November 201 7 Chuck died at the age of 57. Drug related. It never truly leaves you I guess, even when you’re relatively clean, it still chips away at your inside. Chuck reformed with Faith No More a couple of times from 2010 until 2016. The last two concerts were whole gigs, not just guest spots, they billed as Chuck Mosley and Friends to celebrate the re-release of the debut album. The footage is on youtube, Chuck struggles as times at the occasion seems a bit big for him at this stage in life. Either that, he’s pissed. It’s hard to tell with him. And that’s about it, until Record Store Day 2019 when this was released.

Chuck Mosley – Nothing Compares 2 U (2019 – recorded 2017)

Recorded while on his ‘Reintroduce Yourself Tour’ It’s beautiful take on the Prince song that embraces Chuck’s vocal limits. Again it’s country punk rock or folk punk rock. It’s tender and beautiful and a lovely ending to career that should have been so much more but addiction, wrong turns, missteps, hardship and a bus crash. RIP Chuck.

Steve McLean

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 26)

A GUEST SERIES

20 – Belfast – Orbital (1990, FFRR Records)

Released as part of the III EP in January 1991 (Reached Number 31)

Or of course, you could have this version

Belfast (Wasted) (1995, Number 53)

Which was recorded specifically I’m told for the Volume CD Series. Volume was a CD album that was always accompanied by a booklet or magazine thing full of information and interviews with the bands on the CD. I think there was an ‘indie’ release and a dance release, but one of them may have had a different name, I forget.

In 1995, the makers released a ‘Best Of…’ compilation and to promote that they invited two bands to record and release a track which would be released as a split 7” single.

The bands they chose were Therapy? (who recorded a song called ‘Innocent X’) and Orbital who re-recorded their seminal track ‘Belfast’ with some vocals over the top which were sung by their buddy Grant Fulton who wrote a song about a bloke he saw in bar who was in his words ‘Wasted’. So the track ‘Belfast/Wasted’ was born.

If anyone owns anything else sung by Grant Fulton I’d be interested to hear it, because until I’d Googled it, six minutes ago, I’d never heard of him.

For many it made an already essential song even more essential. Personally, I prefer the original version, but only just.

So, lets talk about staying up all night. Which back in their heyday you had to do if you wanted to see Orbital live and not in a field. In 1999 Mrs SWC and I went to see Orbital in Brighton at a place called The Zap Club. The Zap Club for those of you who do not know is situated right on the sea front at Brighton it probably has one of the best views of any music venue in the UK and I’m including the view from the toilets in the Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff in that statement (third stall in the gents, open the window, crane your head left a bit and you can see the castle. Just.)

This gig was billed as ‘an all nighter’ and it had a cast of thousands. On the bill for instance were this lot who ambled onstage around midnight to thousands of loved up ravers.

Rez – Underworld (1993, Junior Boys Own Record, Number 196)

I didn’t even know the charts went as low as 196 – anyway – before Underworld we were also treated to a short DJ set from this chap who dropped this near the end of the set.

Higher State of Consciousness (Original Tweekin Acid Funk Mix) – Josh Winx (1995, Manifesto Records, Number 8)
Which just sent the room mad.

I’ve never danced as much, DJs followed bands who followed DJs, it was crazy, every now and again you could sneak away to a smaller room around the side which was doubling up as a chill out zone, but even there the music was non stop and besides every time we walked in there, we wanted to eat some Kettle Crisps. No idea why.

At around 2am, we all realised that Orbital were on stage, we had no idea how long they had been on for. Largely because of the flashing lights, the constant strobes, the pounding beats and the fact pretty much all the noises were now merging into one. I remember ‘Chime’ and then ‘Belfast’ and then ‘Satan’ being just stunning.

Orbital played until about 4.30am at which point Mrs SWC and I wandered outside and strolled along the beach in the half dark as it if was something we did every weekend. We picked a bench near the marina and sat and watched the sun rise, munching away on fresh breakfast baps.

SWC

ARE THESE VERSIONS SUPERIOR TO THE ALBUM CUTS?

PJ Harvey recorded their debut album, Dry, over the course of September – December 1991. It’s release, just three months later, was met with near universal critical acclaim, and rightly so.

In the middle of these recording sessions, the trio dropped into the BBC Maida Vale studios to record what would be a debut session for the John Peel Show. It comprised four tracks, all of which would subsequently appear on the debut album, including one that would be released as a single.

The session versions of the songs are quite different in sound and I am willing to make the case that they turned out superior to the album cuts. There’s a few reasons for my take on things, one being that the session versions have a rawness that a few months in the studio would eventually smooth out and in many ways what Peel gave to us was the energy and vibrancy of the live sets from that time.

Polly Jean Harvey’s vocals are also much more prominent and to the fore, especially on the version of Water in which she builds magnificently from quiet to loud, and in doing so provides a reminder of how much of an influence Pixies had on the sounds that she, Stephen Vaughan and Rob Ellis were making. There’s another band that springs to mind, particularly from the raw tightness of the band, and given that The Fall were so highly regarded by the veteran DJ, it is no surprise that he was one of the first to champion this new and emerging act.

Looking back over the timeline and it’s clear to see the importance and significance of this particular session. The trio’s debut gig in April 1991 to a local audience in the West Country hadn’t gone down well, with nobody quite prepared for the racket they were making. A relocation to London a few months later led to demos being recorded after which they were picked up the tiny indie label Too Pure. The debut 45 was Dress and it was made single of the week in Melody Maker, with the reviewer stating that he admired the way Polly Jean.. seems crushed by the weight of her own songs and arrangements, as if the air is literally being sucked out of them … “

The reviewer was John Peel. Within days they were booked and on 29 October they delivered these:-

mp3 : PJ Harvey – Oh My Lover
mp3 : PJ Harvey – Victory
mp3 : PJ Harvey – Sheela-Na-Gig
mp3 : PJ Harvey – Water

I can’t claim to have heard this session back in the day. My first inkling of it came the following year in May 1992 when Vox Magazine gave away a cassette called Radio Daze, featuring a fabulous mix of 15 tracks culled from various Peel Sessions over the years featuring The Cure, Madness, Happy Mondays, Babes in Toyland, Buzzcocks, Chicken Shack, The Undertones, Billy Bragg, Syd Barrett, The Only Ones, The Fall, PJ Harvey, Inspiral Carpets, The Birthday Party and The Damned.

It came out just a few weeks after Dry, an album that was giving me all sorts of aural pleasures, but I wasn’t prepared for the way I’d go nuts for the Peel Session version of Water. It took another 14 years before I got my hands on the other three tracks from the session. It was worth the wait.

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 25)

A GUEST SERIES

21 – Waving Flags – British Sea Power (2008, Rough Trade Records)

Released as a single in January 2008 (reached Number 31)

“I’m going to need a really big, massive favour”.

Meet Ben. Ben meet everyone. Ben is a bloke that I occasionally go to gigs with. He lives in my village, and his daughter is in the same class as my daughter and the two have been pretty much inseparable for the last six months. They share a love of Lego, Owls, Unicorns and punching me in the tummy.

Ben is thirty years old, thirty. He reminds me a lot of Roy from the IT Crowd, apart from he isn’t Irish and doesn’t have shit on his head (again, that’s a niche joke, sorry). Every now and again he’ll send me a link to a band that are playing somewhere and we’ll travel up in one of our cars to see them.

“What is it?” I tell him.

“Can you drive me to a funeral tomorrow?” he lets that hang in the air for a second and then continues, “I would drive myself but the driveshaft has become unattached from the rear wheel on my Galaxy and then I remembered you have the day off”.

Most of that sentence was lost on me to be fair. I think he said he had a problem with his car.

“Its only in Ivybridge”. Ivybridge is a small insignificant place just off the Devon Expressway close to Plymouth but it is has very little of interest there, going to a funeral there would probably be more fun that doing literally anything else there.

“Ok” I say, “of course I will, when do you want to leave…?” we make a plan and I agree to pick him up tomorrow at around 11am. Tomorrow arrives and Ben jumps in the car – he looks very smart and as it’s a sombre occasion I leave the stereo off. I asked him whose funeral it is, and he tells me that it is his great uncle, his grandad’s brother, and that he hasn’t spoken to him since he was fifteen and didn’t really want to go but his mother asked him nicely. Based on that statement I turn the stereo on, feeling that sombreness had gone on long enough and this fills the airwaves.

Son of Mustang Ford – Swervedriver (1990, Creation Records, Did Not Chart)

We arrive at the destination and it is absolutely packed. I look at Ben and say “Was your great uncle a popular man?” and he kind of looks a bit sheepish. He was a politician apparently. “Well sort of” he says with a smile. It turns out that Ben’s great uncle was one of the founding members of UKIP.

“So he wasn’t a politician, he was a bigot,” he says with a smile.

He gets out the car and tells me that he’ll be back in an hour, within seconds he is mobbed by old chaps with moustaches and medals. I decide to have a wander around the town. There still isn’t much there but I do find a CD in a charity shop which has this on it

Take Your Partner By The Hand – Howie B/Robbie Robertson (1998, Polydor Records, Number 74)

Which makes my day – and I also have a fairly decent slice of apple cake.

An hour later, I find Ben sitting on a bench under a big oak tree and he literally sprints across to the car. As he gets in there is scrum of people and with no word of a lie Nigel Farrage walks past my car, he waves at Ben, who scowls back at him. I nearly don’t recognise him because he doesn’t have a pint in his hand and his tongue isn’t licking his own eyeballs.

“Was that…?

“Yes, he did a reading, can we go?” is all Ben can say.

Absolutely.

SWC

 

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #208 : MIAOUX MIAOUX

Here’s the thing. I had no idea that the talent behind today’s featured act wasn’t Scottish……but given that I’ve always thought he was….and that’s he’s been part of the scene up here for so long……AND….that the track I’ve selected is sooooooo good……he’s in.

Edited from wiki:-

Julian Victor Corrie (born 20 June 1985), better known by his stage name Miaoux Miaoux, is an English producer, musician and songwriter based in Glasgow, Scotland. He is signed to Chemikal Underground Records, who have released his albums Light of the North and School of Velocity. Prior to his solo career Corrie was a member of the Glasgow-based band Maple Leaves.

Corrie is currently a member of Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand and has created remixes for CHVRCHES, Belle & Sebastian and Lindstrom, amongst others. Corrie plays all the instruments on recordings himself, and performs live with drummer Liam Chapman (Prehistoric Friends, Quickbeam, Friends in America) and bassist Liam Graham.

Light of the North was recorded and produced by Corrie himself, and mixed by Paul Savage at Chem 19 Recording Studios. It was nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year Award in 2013.

The album artwork is by James Houston, a frequent collaborator of Corrie’s, particularly in Polybius, a short for Channel 4’s Random Acts, which Houston directed. Corrie produced the single “I.D.L.U” by Bdy_Prts, a project by Jill O’Sullivan of Sparrow and the Workshop and Jenny Reeve of Strike the Colours which was released on 3 March 2014. He has worked alongside comedian Robert Florence, producing tracks for the television show Burnistoun. Florence’s production company, Bold Yin Productions, also produced award-winning artist Rachel Maclean’s short Germs for Channel 4, for which Corrie provided music and sound design. Corrie has continued to work on further projects with Rachel Maclean as well as the National Theatre of Scotland.

mp3 : Miaoux Miaoux – It’s The Quick

One of my favourite pieces of Scottish electronica.  From the album School of Velocity released in 2015.

JC

THE BIG HITS…..30 YEARS ON (4)

 

I have thought long and hard in recent days about what to do with the blog.  The extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in got me wondering about making it that bit more relevant to what’s happening out there, using this platform for the occasional comment or observation about politicians (there would be criticism), community spirit (there would praise), those most directly affected by tragedy (there would be sympathy) and some reflections on the state of the world when it all comes to pass (there would be much head-scratching).

But I came to the conclusion that there’s enough of that sort of stuff out there already and that TVV should remain a place where folk can come to escape from it all for a few minutes or for as long as they wished.  I hope you’re all OK with that, but if any of you do want to get something off your chest, then feel free to drop me a line with a guest posting.   As you know, they are never turned down…..

So, where was I?

April 1990. The month that my life changed forever as I moved in with Rachel, the two of us deciding to make a real go of things having walked out on the folk we were married to. A number of our close friends were sure it wouldn’t last and that one or both of us would go crawling back full of apologies to look to mend the broken relationships. Thirty years on and we are still together.

Moving in with Rachel meant that I went back to live in Glasgow, making a daily commute by train to Edinburgh. The Sony Walkman proved to be my saviour, that and the mixtapes that Jacques the Kipper was putting together for me containing a mix of the new, the fairly recent and the old classics, all accompanied by a series of cryptic clues from which I had a week to come up with the names of the songs together with the singer/band involved. To be fair, I was setting him similar challenges and, as a result, both of our knowledge bases would increase over the successive months and years.

So who and what were rockin’ the charts 30 years ago this months?

The month began with Snap! holding down the #1 spot for a second successive week, but the remainder of the month belonged to Madonna with Vogue giving her a seventh #1 in five years.

Here’s a few notable songs that made the rundown throughout the month, albeit it’s all stacked at the beginning with very little at the tail end.

Step On – Happy Mondays

Yup, it’s now thirty years since the song most associated with Shaun, Bez & co was unleashed on the listening public. It entered the charts on 7 April at #14, and climbed to #5 the following week, which proved to be its peak position. It took a really long time, however, for the song to fall out of the charts. There was an initial 11-week run in the Top 75 before it briefly disappeared from view at the end of June. It re-entered the Top 100 in early July and over the next six months, could often be found lounging around the 80-99 mark. All told, it would spend 27 weeks in the official chart (which was a Top 100 by the this time) across six separate spells. Not bad for a song that was originally intended only for inclusion on a tribute album for their American label, and was recorded only to get Tony Wilson to stop moaning at them. I think it’s fair to describe it as a bona-fide classic.

Real Real Real – Jesus Jones

JJ had hit the crossbar a few times in 1989, with three singles stalling just outside the Top 40. The music press continued to big them up and Food Records never gave up on them, cleverly associating them indirectly with the baggy/Manchester movement but distancing them just far enough to argue they were an electro band that incorporated elements of indie-pop. This was their breakthrough hit, entering at #26 on 7 April after which it edged its way up the charts for the next five weeks to peak at #19. America would eventually go nuts for the band – I have to be honest and say they never really did it for me.

Beatles and The Stones – House of Love

The second chart hit of 1990 for The House of Love. It entered it #43 on 7 April and a couple of weeks later it had crept up to #36. This proved to be the last time they would get their name mentioned during the Top 40 rundown on Radio 1 and/or Top of the Pops.

911 is a Joke – Public Enemy

As mentioned in an earlier posting in this series, Welcome to The Terrordome had taken Public Enemy into the Top 20 despite very little mainstream airplay. The formula didn’t quite work out for the follow-up single which entered at #50 on 7 April and only got as high as #41 a couple of weeks later. A similar fate awaited their third and fourth singles of 1990, although there was the consolation of the album Fear of A Black Planet, also released in April 1990, entering the UK charts at #4, which was an incredible achievement for a hip-hop album in those days.

Pro-Gen – The Shamen

The Shamen had a low-key arrival into the UK charts, with Pro-Gen entering at #55 on 7 April and dropping like a stone immediately. All but two of their subsequent fourteen singles over the next six years would go Top 40.

Like A Daydream – Ride (from the Play EP)

The growth in popularity of Ride continued, with their second EP entering the charts at #32 on 14 April, a very substantial improvement on the #71 peak of the debut some three months previously. I’m guessing this would be have been played quite a lot in an Our Price record store down in the Gillingham area of England…….but they were still some 12 months away from their commercial peak.

Love Child – Goodbye Mr Mackenzie

The Rattler had been a slow-burning hit single in 1989 for the Edinburgh-based combo and hopes were high that 1990 would bring more mainstream success. They were, to some extent, the victims of politics and bickering at their major label home, finding themselves shunted off Capitol Records and onto Parlophone (both, at the time, being part of the larger EMI conglomerate) with unrealistic expectations place on them. Love Child came in at #52 on 21 April and then disappeared from view, and when its follow-up 45 also bombed two months later, the label decided not to release an already recorded album and dropped the band. It was the beginning of the end, although one of the band, Shirley Manson, would find fame and fortune a few years later (with the highlight being a chance meeting with this blog’s favourite and most friendly lawyer)

Left Us To Burn – Martin Stephenson & The Daintees

No singles of note made their entry into the Top 75 on 28 April, so I’ve gone a little deeper to mention this 45, a more than sideways swipe at Margaret Thatcher for the way her policies had decimated so many working-class communities, including those in the north-east of England where Martin Stephenson and The Daintees had grown up. It entered at #85, continuing the run of undeserved flop singles. Little did any of us know that Thatcher’s reign was soon to come to an end……………………

JC
(aged 56 years and 10 months)

 

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 33)

A GUEST POSTING by flimflamfan

The final track on the You Are My Sister e.p. (CD 2, Oct, 2005. Rough Trade), Paddy’s Gone makes for the shortest of stories; 8 lines of lyric repeated 3 times to astonishing effect.

My wrists hurt
My heart’s empty
Paddy’s gone
For a long time
Loved that man
Scared without him
Paddy’s gone
For a long time

The sense of loss and longing is palpable throughout (as then) Mr Hegarty’s vocal delivery aches to be heard.

Despite the subject matter the song remains one that lifts my mood and has done so on many occasions. I believe it to be something of a hypnotic gem.

mp3 : Antony & The Johnsons – Paddy’s Gone

flimflamfan

 

SOMETHING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

It’s fair to say that 99% of stuff that I’ve bought since my formative teenage years can be described as guitar driven pop, however you define it. It’s very much my forte but every now and again something catches my ear and demands purchase. Such as this, back in 2001:-

mp3 : Faithless – We Come 1 (Radio Edit)

An absolutely massive song in so many ways, it reached #3 in the UK singles chart which is the best position Faithless ever achieved. It was accompanied by a cracking video as well:-

Turns out that the CD I picked up is the one labelled CD2 and you can now buy it on Discogs for as little as 40p plus postage. Here’s the two other mixes for those of you who who like that sort of thing:-

mp3 : Faithless – We Come 1 (Wookie Remix)
mp3 : Faithless – We Come 1 (Rocket vs Jeno Remix)

Happy Dancing.

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (46)

The release, in May 1976, of the debut 45 by The Ramones completely passed me by. I was utterly in love with music at the time, but it was very much limited to what I’d hear on Radio 1 in the mornings or weekends, failing which it making an appearance on Top of the Pops. I was far too young to be listening to John Peel or to be spending precious pocket money on a music newspaper, especially not when there’s a set of football stickers to be collected…..

It would be a further year before I became aware of the New Yorkers, all thanks to Sheena Is A Punk Rocker crashing into the UK charts. I wasn’t entirely convinced by them as they sounded almost comedic when listened to alongside The Jam, The Clash, The Stranglers, Buzzcocks, The Damned, Penetration and Sex Pistols. It would actually take until the summer of 79, when a colleague in the shop in which I took my first full-time but temporary job, having learned of my interest in new wave, loaned me a handful of singles that I hadn’t much or any knowledge of.

This was the first time I knowingly listened to Blitzkrieg Bop as I had no idea that was the proper title of the Hey Ho, Let’s Go song. The second it started, I knew what it was as I’d heard it played a few times in record shops over the years but without ever having the courage to ask anyone what it was. The same went for any of my mates who might happen to be browsing with – none of us would ever dare let on we didn’t actually know the name of any particular great sounding record that was played in the shop.

It also just hit me as I was typing this that none of us actually had any older brothers who could introduce us to such music. At least I has the excuse of being the oldest kid in our family, but three other close mates who also liked a bit of new wave (certainly of the type we knew from the charts) all had big brothers who, to a youth, were obsessed by prog-rock. The nearest we had was Tommy’s older sister whose love of T-Rex, Bowie and Roxy Music had brought her into contact with stuff that I would later wholly embrace….but at 14/15 years of age, nobody listened to anything a girl said.

Enough of the reminiscing from a bygone era.

Blitzkreig Bop is an amazing burst of energy that still sounds incredibly vibrant and vital the best part of two generations later. It’s no surprise that young kids are still happy to be seen wandering the streets wearing their ultra-cool and hip t-shirts with a Ramones logo.

It’s a simple song, but that’s the biggest part of its attraction. Tommy Ramone wrote it as his own celebration of being a rock music fan and the excitement that comes with getting to see music up close and in the live setting. As he himself once said, “It is basically about a few kids going to a concert, getting away from it all and having a great time.”

Forget any nonsense you might read about it being linked to the might of the German airforce and military. This was written as a pure bubblegum pop song, partly as a response to what was happening with Scottish boy band, the Bay City Rollers who were tearing up the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and who are one of those acts whose singles I did buy back in the day but have long forgotten about. Tommy had called the song Animal Hop but Dee Dee wanted to make it more punk-sounding and so he changed a line from ‘They’re shouting in the back now’ to ‘Let’s go shoot ‘em in the back now’ and suggested the new title of Blitzkrieg Pop, a move which probably made the managers of radio stations across the USA shy away from giving it some air time.

mp3 : The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
mp3 : The Ramones – Havana Affair

I looked back at Dirk’s magnificent ICA on The Ramones and was surprised to find that he hadn’t found space for the debut single among his chosen ten tracks. Just shows how many great songs the band came up with over the fullness of time.

JC

THE HAPPY FAMILY

The relatively recent mention of Malcolm Ross within the long-running Saturday series made reference to the fact that, post-Josef K, he continued to work with David Weddell and Ronnie Torrance, the rhythm section of his old band, as well as contributing to the short-lived The Happy Family whose vocalist was Nick Currie.

Legend has it that Nick Currie, who had been a huge fan of Josef K, handed over a home-recorded demo cassette to Malcolm Ross at what, although nobody realised it at the time, was the band’s final gig in their home city in August 1981. There was enough there to entice Ross work with Currie and he persuaded Weddell to join them, along with drummer Ian Stoddart (later to be part of Win) and guitarist Paul Mason.

The Happy Family signed to 4AD Records but before anything was recorded and issued, Ross had already moved west to join Orange Juice. He had however, been involved in writing some of the songs that had been used to get that initial deal, and although he didn’t actually play on the track, it was one of his, co-written with David Weddell that was chosen to be the lead track on the debut EP in March 1982:-

mp3 : The Happy Family – Puritans

It was about as close as the band got to being a Josef K tribute with a new vocalist. Nick Currie’s control of proceedings was increasing with the departure of Ross, and two of his solo compositions formed the b-side of the debut.

mp3 : The Happy Family – Innermost Thoughts
mp3 : The Happy Family – The Mistake

Fast forward eight months and 4AD released the debut, and subsequently the only, album by The Happy Family. Ian Stoddart had moved on (to be replaced by Ronnie Torrance) while the guitar sound was supplemented by the addition of Neil Martin. Eight of the nine tracks were written solely by Nick Currie (or Nicholas Currie as he was referred to throughout his time in the band), with Weddell and Mason writing the other, which just happened to be its title track:-

mp3 : The Happy Family – The Man On The Street

It was an album quite different from anything else coming out on 4AD, with a heavy and rather pretentious literary bent, and it didn’t sell well.

Nick Currie, in later years, offered his take on the album:-

“It’s 1982. Postcard Records and The Sound Of Young Scotland. An Edinburgh literature student called Nick Currie forms a pop group with three ex-members of local group Josef K. They sign to 4AD, home of The Birthday Party, and proceed to record a CD with the following cast list: an evangelical detergent salesman; a Fascist dictator who comes to power thanks to a lottery win; Samuel, the son of the salesman and Maria, the dictator’s beautiful daughter, who join the Red Brigade and plots to assassinate the Fascist. Confused? Just wait ’til you read the lyrics!”

Maybe Luke Haines was looking on………..

The band split not long after the album was released and in due course Nick Currie would call himself Momus and embark on a solo career that is still going strong more than 30 years on and is the very definition of a cult idol.

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 24)

A GUEST SERIES


22 – Berlin Got Blurry – Parquet Courts (2016, Rough Trade records)

Released as a single in February 2016 (Did not Chart)

Berlin is the city that never fails to deliver and here is the reason why.

It’s quite late on December 30th 2004 and Mrs SWC and I are standing on a very cold train station platform deep below an airport in Berlin. It’s absolutely freezing. We are in Berlin for a New Years Eve break. We’ve been waiting twenty minutes for a train to the city.

When one eventually arrives we jump on it and take the short ride to centre of the city. Our hotel is located just off of Unter Den Linden and we drag our weary selves up the cold streets to find the small hotel. Its about nine pm and we are cold, hungry and pretty tired. We are both getting grouchy.

We hand the receptionist our booking details and she looks at us and smiles. She does some tapping on the computer and asks to see our passports, as usual she smiles when she sees mine.

Loser – Beck (1993, DGC Records, Number 15)

“ah, yes” she says, followed by “we’ve been waiting for you, there is a problem with your booking” and with this she vanishes behind a door. Mrs SWC and I stand there, yawning, and getting increasing fed up. Mrs SWC shoots me a look, which reminds me that this “was my bloody idea”.

Suddenly a smart man appears from behind the door. He has a brilliantly waxy moustache and is called Lukasz, he is the manager of the hotel. He shakes me by the hand, never a good sign I find, complete strangers shaking your hand, when you’ve been told there is some kind of problem. Anyway, the problem is that the room we were booked in, is unavailable, because, and here Lukasz lowers his voice, ‘a man slit his wrists in it earlier on today’.

Which is awful, obviously.

Lukasz smiles and touches his waxy moustache. I’m not sure why. He tells us, “and we have no other rooms….” He lets that hang slightly and smiles again. “….so we’ve arranged another hotel for you, at no extra cost, it’s about ten minutes’ walk up the road”. He hands me an envelope and tells me to hand that to the receptionist there with that he vanishes behind the same door as the lady earlier.

We look at the envelope – we are now staying apparently at the Westin Grand, Mrs SWC tells me that ‘It better bloody well be grand” and marches off, leaving me to drag the suitcases behind me.

The Westin Grand it turns out is a five star hotel. It is incredible and we arrive to a gold plated reception which is staffed by one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She greets us like an old friend and a man takes us to our room. He insists we leave our suitcases where they are.

We appear to have been given a suite. It has four rooms, the bedroom has the biggest bed I have ever seen which I still managed to fall out of when drunk on gluwein and wheat beer, approximately 30 hours later.

Share the Fall – Roni Size (1997, Talkin Loud Records, Number 37)

The bath has a television built into it, which seems massively dangerous to me, but we go with it. In the second room is a sort of lounge, which has three big silver domes on a table. The man who shows us to our room, tells us that dinner is on the house and then he hands us two cards, these are invitations to the Westin Grands New Year Eve party, which are also on the house (as a present for the trouble…), they are 400 Euros each, I kid you not, on the tickets in small writing it is says in German (I translated it) “Alcohol and a five course meal is included in the price”. Mrs SWC looks at me – and for the first time in about six hours, smiles at me.

SWC

 

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #207 : MEURSAULT

Meursault are an alternative indie band founded in 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland, led by singer-songwriter Neil Pennycook. Their musical style has been variously categorised as folktronica, alternative rock and indie folk.

The name of the band is a reference to the main character of L’Etranger, the famous novel of Albert Camus.

They were a mainstay of Song, By Toad Records, founded and run by the legendary Matthew Young for more than a decade before he called it a day to concentrate on family matters, albeit he is still reasonably active in the Edinburgh music scene. Meursualt’s most recent album, Crow Hill, was released last year on Common Ground a new Edinburgh-based label.

Here’s a track from the highly acclaimed third album, Something For The Weakened, released in 2012:-

mp3 : Meursault – Settling

JC