45 45s @ 45: SWC STYLE (Part 38) + AN ISOLATION ICA FOR SEVEN-YEAR OLDS

A GUEST SERIES….WITH A VERY SPECIAL GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Last week my daughter received her next set of home school work. Each fortnight the children in her class get given a Project. Two weeks ago we designed a rocket out of cardboard boxes and plastics bottle tops. The time before that the children had a competition to build the strongest bridge out of Lego. The school give prizes for the ones with the most imagination and innovation. This time the Project is to write your own review of your favourite book or TV Programmes or Piece of Music. The blurb states that it needs to look like one of the reviews you will read in a magazine or a website and points will be again be given for imagination.

So, my daughter has compiled her own ICA featuring her favourite ten songs in the world (well sort of). Please bear in mind she is seven and a half and she wants to read all the comments that are left, so if you do comment please be kind. What follows are genuinely her own words (apart from the bits on italics, that was me and doesn’t appear in the school bit), she wrote this in her book and I have typed it and JC has published it (for which we are very grateful indeed). She has promised to draw him a picture to say thank you.

Oh one last thing, we will be sharing this with her school teachers and class mates so please if you decide to comment, be nice or kind. Thank You.

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My Ten Favourite Songs by Mini SWC

Last Christmas my daddy bought Alexa for a present to himself. Alexa is great she tells you jokes like “Whats Green and goes up and down?” A sprout in a lift. She sets alarms and tells me when my dinner is ready. She will also play music if you ask her, whatever music you want, it has all the songs in the world on it. My daddy plays lots of music and most of it is boring and a word that mummy uses to describe it that I can’t remember (the word used is ‘morose’ – swc). So he has let me have my own playlist – which I have called Rainbow Magic after the stories (Sorry, me again, Rainbow Magic are a bunch of stories by an author called Daisy Meadows which are fundamentally the same story rewritten 187 times each one with a slight tweak on the last one, a bit like the ongoing adventures of SWC and OPG you might say – swc) and I play music from it every day. It is a brilliant playlist much better than what Daddy listens to.

Side One

My favourite track in all the world is ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift. I want to be like Taylor Swift when I grow up. I want to dance around like she does and I dance like her in the lounge when I am supposed to be doing Joe Wicks PE, because Taylor Swift is better. All Joe Wicks does is talk about himself whilst jumping up and down. It is a very happy song and one that has handclaps and I always feel happy when I dance to it. Daddy also has this CD in his car (bought from Dr Barnados in Torquay for 50p shut up, it’s a great record – swc) and we listen to it on the way to school. I was really sad when Glastonbury was cancelled this year because Taylor Swift was playing last and that means she is the best popstar in the world. She is certainly better than all the boy popstars. Taylor Swift says that music is stronger than the coronavirus and that we should all stick together, boys don’t think that they just want to play football and be smelly. I give this song 185 out of 10.
(Shake It Off – Taylor Swift)

Another song I really like is in French and I don’t know who it is by. I like it because it is all about sausages which the man singing says in the first few words of it. This song is groovy and cool. Daddy says it is quite old and that the man singing it is really famous in France. I have never been to France but I would like to go because I want to go up the Eiffel Tower and eat a croissant by the river. I have been learning French and can ask for a drink of water if I need one. This is one of my mummy’s favourite songs as well. It’s also the best song to play musical statutes too.(the song is Le Responsable by Jacques Dutronc and she is right about the sausages – swc)

I like another song that is French and that I can’t remember the name of. But this one is the best song in the world for jumping about on Space Hoppers too. Space Hoppers are like big balloons that you can sit on and have races in the garden on. I have a blue Space Hopper and Mummy and Daddy have an orange one, but mine is the fastest and bounciest.
(She means Ca Plane Pour Moi by Plastic Bertranda song that was played at my wedding and did indeed involve Space Hoppers – swc)

My daddy keeps putting music on my playlist to try and catch me out but I can always tell what songs he has put on there, because they are mostly rubbish and I delete them. I just tell Alexa to delete it and she does. One that I have kept is Bird Is the Word (This one is Surfin’ Bird by the Trashmen and its another bonafide classic – swc). I really like the bit near the end of this where the singer sounds like he has a fish in his mouth and he doesn’t like it.
(Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen)

Another one that daddy put on my playlist that I like is the song about Monsters coming over the hill. I like it a lot. I like to hide behind the sofa in the lounge and sing “Whats that hiding behind the sofa – is it a monster” and then jump out on mummy and daddy and scare them. This song is really fun and makes me think of cartoons like Scooby Doo.
(Monster – The Automatic)

Side Two

My favourite TV programme is Horrible Histories (ditto – swc) and at Christmas Daddy took me to the cinema to see the movie of it (which I totally recommend – swc). It was all about the Romans and the Celts. The Celts used to build houses out of their poo and the Romans made the roads all straight and stole lots of money from people. In the film the Romans and the Celts have a big battle in somewhere called Watling Street. Daddy says he grew up near Watling Street, although I’m not sure it was in the time of the Romans, like he says. I like going to the cinema because I get to eat Maltesers and popcorn.
(The Battle of Watling Street – Kate Nash)

At school a few months ago before the lockdown came and I couldn’t see my friends anymore we had to do a play. In the play I was a sheep and I had to do a dance with my friends. The song we danced to was ‘I like to Move It Move It’. I like to listen to this song because it reminds me of my friends especially M (name removed – swc) and it reminds me that one day there won’t be a virus and we can do plays at school again.
(I like to Move It – Reel 2 Reel)

My mummys favourite song in all the world is all about dreams – I don’t know who sings it but it is a very happy song and it has no boring guitars on it and no shouting. We played this song really loud on Christmas morning this year as we unwrapped presents. I was allowed to jump off the sofa as it was Christmas it was fun I also had chocolate for breakfast (which is why she jumped off the sofa – swc). Mummy has better taste in music than daddy.
(Dreamer – Livin Joy)

One of my favourite foods is jam sandwiches. I had jam sandwiches for lunch today. I don’t like orange jam though like Paddington (she means marmalade – swc). After lunch I helped to make some scones with mummy while daddy painted the bench on the patio. Mummy got cross with him because he spilt brown paint on the bricks. This song mentions jam and that makes me like it.
(Pump Up The Jam – Technotronic)

I love to read books I have a lot of books, apart from Daisy Meadows my favourite writer is Roald Dahl his books are really funny and have really funny characters in them. I like Mr Twit because he reminds me of my daddy when he doesn’t shave for a week. I also love Mr Wonka and if I also think about finding a Golden Ticket inside one of my chocolate bars. I like chocolate almost as much as jam sandwiches and pasta. There is a song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that my daddy used to play to me when I was really little, like four or something, that I like to listen to when I am feeling sad because it makes me smile.
(Pure Imagination – Gene Wilder )

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I think I am slightly biased, but I think that might just be the greatest ICA ever written. Thank you for reading. Take care out there. Stay Safe.

SWC (aided and abetted by mini SWC)

WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?

There’s been a lot of reading on t’blog in recent weeks….and there’s a few more lengthy ones in the pipeline.

Not today though.

mp3: Various – Predictably Unpredictable

I put this together up for listening to while out walking and where I could reimagine myself in Manhattan heading over the bridge in the direction of Brooklyn (and back).

TRACKLIST

Eye Know – De La Soul
Rapture – Blondie
This Is Radio Clash – The Clash
Love My Way – The Psychedelic Furs
Fast Boys and Factory Girls – Port Sulphur
I Love A Man In Uniform – Gang of Four
Spellbound – Siouxsie & The Banshees
Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars) – Grinderman
The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret – QotSA
I’m Scum – IDLES
Sign ‘O’ The Times – Prince
Torch – Soft Cell
Bodega Birth – Bodega
I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
Life During Wartime (live) – Talking Heads
How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’ – The Fall

As ever, it’s an hour in length.

Enjoy.

JC

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 37)

A GUEST SERIES

9 – Bermuda – Kisses (2010, Transparent Records)

Released as a single in April 2010 (Did Not Chart)

The roof has come right off at the back. The wind has ripped through it and its flapping about like a pair of Ian Brown’s finest trousers. I look across at the old man, who has a cigar in one hand and a blow torch in the other and decide to move out of the way. I mean it’s his roof after all.

I should perhaps back up a bit. The house belongs to a man called Pythagoras, but everyone calls him ‘Santi’. I’m not sure why. Pythagoras is a brilliant name. The house is situated right on the coast in a small village called Tuckers Town, which is on the beautiful island of Bermuda. Santi’s house has just been hit by a hurricane.

Santi and his wife have lived in this house for 55 years. The roof, which is largely flat has withstood five hurricanes in the last twenty years, and this latest one, named Igor, was the weakest one to score a direct hit but has caused more damage than the rest of them put together.

At 9am the day after the Hurricane, Santi phoned me to ask for my help to fix his roof and clean up the fallen trees that now littered his garden. He said that the power was back on and that in return his wife would make me some mac n cheese, and he’d open a bottle of rum. I agree and tell him I’ll be there in an hour.

The walk to Santi’s house is a depressing one. I put some music on to try and blank out the walk but its hard work. There is a footpath system around the island, called the Railway Trail, so called because it used to be a railway. This trail is usually a mixture of sand and gravel today it is covered with leaves and debris and looks like someone has shoved a dirty green carpet all the way along it. It cuts through the National Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, normally home to about a thousand different types of trees and plant. Today it is a scene of absolute devastation.
This might sound weird, but I check in on my favourite tree, it’s a Banyan tree that looks exactly like a cat and I find myself feeling sad when I see that it is now half the tree it used to be.

I remember standing there, in this huge park the only human around and I’m trying to assess the devastation unfolding around the island. I’d completely forgotten that that iPod was playing and its only Matt Berninger’s baritone filling my ears that drags me away from the park.

Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National (2010, 4AD Records, Did Not Chart)

I first met Santi through his wife, Celeste. On my second day on the island I was sat at the bus station waiting for the Number 7 bus back to my flat. There were three people at the bus station. Celeste, me and a third chap who is sitting on a bench about 20 foot away. Moments later a white jeep pulls up, two men jump out and shoot the man on the bench through both legs and then drive off. Chaos ensues. I can still smell the sulphur today, I heard his scream every night for the next three weeks.

Celeste was dressed in her Sunday best and was on her way to church. I was carrying a bag of bananas, some pasta and some chocolate. She pulls out a mobile phone and does the necessary, I stand there wishing that I’d never got on the flight. I feel totally useless, totally selfish and totally alone.

Celeste is in her late seventies and she is an oasis of calm. She hobbles over to me, and asks me if I am ok. I nod. I mean I’m in shock, but I don’t have two mangled legs. She wanders over to the prone lad on the floor and shakes her head – she takes off her coat and covers him with it. “He’ll live” she says and then the ambulance and police turn up and she sits back down next me.

The next sentence she utters is one of the most glorious sentences that anyone has ever uttered in my company. Celeste brings out a small box of what looks like tobacco, puts a bit in her mouth and chews it for a minute or so. As the police guy shuts the bus station she spits the tobacco out of her mouth and looks at me and says “Goddam gangbanger muthafuckas ruinin’ my Sunday, forgive me Lord” and then she looks up at the sky and crosses herself.

Gangsta’s Paradise – Coolio (1995, Tommy Boy Records, Number 1 – and the only number one on this rundown I think)

From that day I checked in on Celeste and Santi on a regular basis. I would meet Santi on the odd Saturday in an Irish bar in town we would watch the football (big Stoke City Fan for some reason) and then we would catch a bus out to one of his favourite spots on the island. It kept him out of Celeste’s hair whilst she made yam and pineapple cakes. One place we used to love to go was Fort Scaur an old defence fort hidden on a small hill on the south side of the island. It’s the highest point on the island and yet you can’t see the fort from the sea, because they built most of it underground. It’s full of tunnels, linking the fort to the hill side and then down to the sea. It remains one of my favourite places on earth.

Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) – Arcade Fire (2004, Merge Records, Did Not Chart)

Santi and Celeste remain in the Top Five of brilliant people that I know. They are 88 and 85 now, still going strong. Still eating their yam and pineapple cakes.

SWC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #252 : COMSAT ANGELS

A GUEST POSTING by ECHORICH

THE COMSAT ANGELS – AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM…

I’ve wanted to submit this particular ICA for quite a long time. As can be the case when you are too close to a subject, I’ve found it hard to approach and feel good about it. But I want to share my appreciation, my affection for the music of Comsat Angels, a band that suffers greatly from those popular tropes of “they could have been” and “they should have been” much too often when they are talked about. I won’t contribute to that here, I want to focus in on 10 songs that have helped to make them one of the core bands in my musical collection.

I have mentioned a few times in the past that in the early days of Post Punk, I discovered quite a number of bands based on picking their debut album up from the racks in Metro Records of Little Neck, NY. The first WAH! album, the first Sound album, A Certain Ratio’s debut long player as well – to name a few. But one stands out to this day – The Comsat Angels debut Missing In Action. It featured an image of a Sheffield motorway at night that the photographer, Martyn Goddard, remembers being taken while accompanying the band to a show. I would find that the music held within the cover was perfectly complimented by the photograph’s desolate sulphur lit glow and trailing car lights, capturing speed in an instant of time. It’s an album cover that would lead to a 40-year relationship with The Comsat Angels’ music and carnival ride of a career.

Their name comes from a short story written by J.G. Ballard. Many of the debut album’s themes, could be categorized as Ballardian. These themes of doubt, ruin, post-modern paranoia and future shock, would be a continuous thread through much of the band’s 15-year discography.

Here are the songs that best represent how The Comsat Angels have gotten under my skin and owned a piece of my memory banks for decades. I’ve decided to organize the list based on album release to give an idea of the evolution of the band’s sound – something which would impact their career and teach them some very important lessons.

1. Missing In Action – Waiting For A Miracle

Stephen Fellows opening chords are like a warning siren that starts slow and patterned and the quickly pick up to a frenetic pace as the rest of the band enters. I’ve always felt it was a song dealing with the fear and alienation of becoming an adult. Gone are the childhood things representing safety and security and ahead is a world of chaos and obstacles requiring all the strength and conviction a young person can muster. Kevin Bacon’s bass and Andy Peake’s synths lend heighten the paranoia and fear and Mik Glaisher’s drums are like a heart beat on the edge of bursting.

2. Monkey Pilot – Waiting For A Miracle

Post Punk’s most exercised theme gets a work out here – being out of control. The drums propel the track while also reflecting the theme of confusion and doubt. The addition of a farfisa organ heightens the feeling that things are out of place, out of pace. Fellow’s vocals reflect a man going about his everyday, his routine, but feeling as though somehow he’s loosing his grip.

3. Independence Day – Waiting For A Miracle

The track TCA are best known for, giving them one-hit wonder status were it not for the fact that it wasn’t really a hit. It is, somewhat perversely, one of the great guitar track of the 80s for me. It’s also a track with the most curated minimalist use of guitar I can think of. For that and because of my own perversity, it fulfills all the requirements to be one of my all time favorite tracks. I have never felt it was anything about proclaiming independence. More it’s about knowing that real independence can only ever be a hope, a wish, a goal and many times it’s just out of reach.

4. Eye Of The Lens – E.P

Released as a 7” single and 12” EP between the first and second albums. It points to the consolidation that the band’s sound was getting heavier, denser and darker. The paranoia is on full tilt, but again Fellow’s delivery is a mixture of self narration and resignation which manages to become a sort a strength against the prevailing forces.

5. Be Brave – Sleep No More

On their sophomore album, The Comsats project maturity in their sound while focusing their themes away from youthful perspectives of fear and nervous energy to ones of knowing and the resignation of unrealized dreams. Be Brave has a workman like bass and drums that set the tone while the guitar and keyboards the song’s emotional bed. Fellows guitar cuts through the landscape laid down by the rhythm section with emotional ferocity.

Sleep No More is an album that benefits more from being listened to than being reviewed. It is easy to put in a league with some very strong company, and many reviewers and critics have. But it’s darker themes require listening, most will not get it on first listen as it needs the listener to allow it in.

6. After The Rain – Fiction

With their third album The Comsat Angels took a lighter approach. Lighter is really not a fair word, but when put in relation to Sleep No More, it makes sense. The lightness is in the musical approach rather than the themes In fact, the Ballardian themes are still very evident. After The Rain seems to be about comforting and sheltering and love, but there is menace in the beauty of the track. “The rain” may be of a nuclear kind, and it may not be just one person needing shelter, but all of us.

After Fiction, with their Polydor contract up and no interest in the label resigning the band, they made the move to Jive Records. This was the house of A Flock Of Seagulls, rapper Whodini and Roman Holliday. It was also where producer Mike Howlett laid his hat, primarily producing the aforementioned AFOS. He took the reigns of their next album, Land, and guided a willing band into more commercial territory. Synths and Simmons drums replaced the harder, darker bass and drum-heavy sound of their Polydor albums. The sound fell somewhere between AFOS and Japan. As well Stephen Fellow’s lyrics were lacking the narrative, claustrophobic quality of his earlier work. While they found some Modern/Alt Rock radio airplay in the US with the single Will You Stay Tonight and a re-recording of Independence Day, the change in their path did not pay off commercially.

The second and last Jive release was their fourth album, 7 Day Weekend. While this album still retains their newly acquired “commercial” sound, the guitars, bass and drums are more upfront in the overall sound. They had a minor Modern Rock hit with single I’m Falling which also featured in the Val Kilmer film Real Genius. In the USA, it’s this song that they seem most remembered for. But there was one song that hinted that not all was lost…

7. You Move Me – 7 Day Weekend

You Move Me is a love song. It’s a love song that veers on obsession. The Fairlight is replaced by bass which propels the song forward as the guitar swirls like a mind on the edge of control. For me it is the most “successful” of their commercially intended songs. It is also a favorite, but throughout this period in the band’s output, the just never sounded as they were all that convinced themselves.

8. Flying Dreams – Chasing Shadows

By the time 7 Day Weekend was released, Jive had finished with The Comsat Angels. But the band found refuge from a left field Patron – Robert Palmer. Seems he was a fan and became the executive producer of their 6th album Chasing Shadows, bringing them along to Island Records. If there is anything missing from Chasing Shadows, it could be warmth. It’s an album that shows the education they received with their time at Jive.

Flying Dreams is not groundbreaking, but it references moods and elements from their first 3 albums with honesty of intent, while embracing the musical currents they found themselves attempting to navigate. There is strength and confidence in their attack. Back is Mik Glaisher’s dominant drums and Andy Peak’s deft touch with the keyboards. For me the song is refreshing and familiar. The song soars from it’s opening “take off” and glides off into the clouds searching for something yet unknown.

9. Pray For Rain – Chasing Shadows

One of the important changes on Chasing Shadows is Andy Peake moving from atmospheric synths to very pure piano – which is the cornerstone of Pray For Rain. Another change, and in some ways a return to an earlier ethic is that many of the tracks are realized in a minimalist fashion. Piano, Kevin Bacon’s faint, echoing bass and a pure vocal from Steven Fellows are the minimalist magic here. If the band’s output had ended with this track, it would have been a moment of closure in a career that began so very strong, stumbled, through a middle period, but regained momentum.

Unfortunately, this was once again a false start and their next – and last – album for Island would suffer from too much pressure to produce for the label. In fact, Fire On The Moon was so removed from what The Comsat Angels were about, they would only release it under a different name, Dream Command. It’s an album that veers from pedestrian FM Rock to heavy ballad, to synth noodling. It does nothing for their legacy…

…but in 1992, two years on from releasing an album not even good enough to put their name to, the band, still not ready to give up, came out with My Minds Eye. Released on the independent label RPM and self produced, TCA shine. It’s an album that’s heavy in parts, flirts with psychedelia but also references earlier themes in even more obvious ways than 1986’s Chasing Shadows. Andy Peake returns to form with a more atmospheric layering of keyboards. Mik Glaisher’s drums are at times martial and then tribal. Kevin Bacon’s bass returns to an anchoring position and Stephen Fellow’s guitar and vocals are confident in the colors they paint.

10. I Come From The Sun – My Mind’s Eye

For me, this is My Mind’s Eye’s stand out track. Subtle guitar and keyboards, an insistent drum beat and menacing bass combine into an other worldly setting which Steven Fellows’ echoey vocals only punctuate. It references the moodiness of tracks from Sleep No More but manages to get their with a lighter, maybe that should be softer, touch. I Come From The Sun, in my mind, stands up there with music by contemporaries like The Catherine Wheel or Swervedriver.

My Mind’s Eye would be the last album with the original line up intact. Kevin Bacon would leave the band to devote time to music and commercial production in the band’s Axis Studios in Sheffield (built with a ridiculous investment from Jive Records back in 1984). He would be replaced on bass by Terry Todd and an additional guitarist was added, Simon Anderson. They released the band’s final album, The Glamour in 1995. It continued on from My Mind’s Eye with an injection of a heavier Rock sound on many tracks. You can hear the influence of Grunge in the title track, while there are still moments of minimalist beauty.

The Comsat Angels find them right at the heart of what I love about Post Punk. They laid down many of the musical and thematic ethos that I searched out in music for many years – they still do. They endear me with their musical triumphs and their utter failure navigating the record industry.

Even if you limit yourself to The Comsat Angels first three albums, you are in for musically emotional ride. But give their entire catalogue some time. You will likely find music worth your time and you may be surprised just how much.

ECHORICH

45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 36)

A GUEST SERIES

10 – Rolodex Propaganda – At The Drive In (2000, Grand Royale Records)

Released as a single in September 2000 (Reached Number 54)

You can’t stand up in the space below the floorboards. I have to crawl and crouch. The floor is littered with bits of old concrete, stones, dirt and general crap. There is part of an old newspaper down there. It is the Mid Devon Advertiser from the early part of the 80s.

I note for future reference that I can access the pipes underneath the bathroom from this space, which might come in handy. Its pretty dark down there. The only light other than the one from torch comes from the hole in the floor/ceiling about ten metres to behind me.

The space appears to stretch for a little distance, it looks like it goes underneath my lounge. You couldn’t see that from the top of the hole. I turn around, that in itself, is a job, and go back up to Mrs SWC and report back. She asked me again what is in the bags. I haven’t looked yet I tell her. She is drinking a cup of tea and looks really comfortable sitting in the hallway on the footstool.

I crouch and crawl back along the ground, shining the torch as I go. In the far corner of the space, right under the lounge is a box, there doesn’t appear to be anything else down there, apart from the bags that is.

I spin around again and I drop the torch and somehow it manages to switch itself off. I let out a small cry and my wife sticks her head down the hole and asks me if I am ok – I tell her I need another torch and I crawl towards the hole in the ceiling in the dark. I’m a bit scared to be honest.

Freakin Out – Graham Coxon (2004, Parlophone Records, Number 37)

My wife hands me a small torch and I update her as to the box in the corner. She tells me to bring it to the hole and open it up. The small torch helps me find the bigger torch, which I am glad still works. I crawl back over to the box and push it over to the hole. I am intrigued to find it is sealed shut with gaffa tape and I call for a pair of scissors.

Mrs SWC hands me some scissors and I cut through the gaffa tape. The box contains old cameras. There are packed with old bits of polystyrene, but there are probably five or six cameras here. I pass the box up through the hole in the floor. Some of the cameras date back to the 1930s or so. I climb out of the hole and look longingly at the cuppa on the side of the cabinet. Mrs SWC tells me that she will pop the kettle on whilst I check out the bags and back down into the hole I go and form some reason this song is playing over and over in my mind

Get Got – Death Grips (2012, epic Records, Did Not Chart)

There were, as you will remember, three bags, a blue rubble style bag, a green bag and a dark coloured Adidas sports bag, and for those of you who get disappointed by anti-climax – switch off now.

The blue rubble style sack contains two sets of curtains, they are filthy and old and worthless. They used to be a brown colour. Brown would definitely not work in our lounge.

The green bag is slightly more interesting. It contains books and folders. They are in surprisingly good condition considering they have been shut in a dark space for some time. One of these folders contains postcards of trains, buses and tractors, it looks like a collection or a school project. It is sort of beautiful in a neglected waste of time sort of way. It also has a battered copy of ‘Animal Farm’ in it, two books by Danielle Steele, three books by John Buchan and most worryingly a couple of books by Dennis Wheatley, who writes about the occult.

The Adidas Sports Bag contained £860 in used £20 notes.

Nah not really, it contained a clock (broken), three plastic plant pots, an old (broken) nodding dog that you stuck on the parcel shelf of your car, some coat hangers and one female size 4 shoe.

The Other Shoe – Fucked Up (2011, Matador Records, Did Not Chart)

That was it. It was largely crap, and I for one felt slightly disappointed that there were not body parts or oodles of cash down there.

SWC

 

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #213 : MOMUS

One of the most written-about musicians ever to emerge from Scotland.  It is fair to say that he is a niche or even an acquired taste.  A full and detailed bio that has been lifted from all music. He’s been a very busy boy and much of his story would make for a fantastic film.

Named after the Greek god of mockery, Momus is the alias of Nick Currie, an erudite and esoteric Scottish-born singer, songwriter, author, and provocateur whose genre-defying music careens from acoustic ballads and electro-pop to easy listening and post-punk and back again. Known for his rich baritone and fascination with themes of psychosexuality and cultural and political crises, Momus emerged in the early ’80s as the leader of the avant-garde band the Happy Family. He joined the Creation label in 1987 and released his second solo LP, The Poison Boyfriend. Momus moved to Cherry Red Records in the mid-’90s and found considerable success in Japan, where he eventually relocated. Since his 1986 debut, the biblical-themed Circus Maximus, he has averaged an album a year, with highlights arriving via 1998’s analog Baroque Little Red Songbook, 2005’s musique concrète-inspired Otto Spooky, and 2016’s post-Brexit-minded Scobberlotchers.

Born in 1960, Currie spent time living in Greece and Canada before returning to Scotland to attend university. In 1981, he dropped out of school to form the Happy Family, a band additionally comprising three prior members of Josef K. After signing to the 4AD label, the group recorded only one LP, 1982’s The Man on Your Street, before disbanding.

After returning to (and graduating from) university, Currie moved to London in 1984. He cut a deal with el Records and released Circus Maximus in 1986, the first offering issued under the Momus name (chosen in honor of a Greek god banished from Mount Olympus for daring to criticize the wisdom of Zeus). A move to Alan McGee’s Creation label preceded the release of 1987’s melancholy The Poison Boyfriend, followed by 1988’s homoerotic Tender Pervert. Even more frankly sexual was the next year’s Don’t Stop the Night, a collection exploring taboo topics including incest and necrophilia. With 1991’s Hippopotamomus — dedicated to the late Serge Gainsbourg — Momus came under attack; the album, dubbed “a record about sex for children,” drew fire from feminists as well as a lawsuit from Michelin U.K., which objected to a lyrical reference to their mascot, the Michelin Man. (The suit was subsequently settled out of court, and all remaining copies of the album were destroyed.)

Undeterred, Momus returned in 1992 with a pair of new records, The Ultraconformist and the ambient-styled Voyager, inspired by the work of Yukio Mishima. After writing the 1993 album Shyness for Japanese performer nOrikO (who adopted her stage name Poison Girlfriend in tribute to Momus) and releasing Timelord (his final work for Creation), Currie made tabloid headlines for his 1994 marriage to 17-year-old Shazna Nessa, the daughter of a Bangladesh-born restauranteur. Currie and Nessa first met when she was just 14; after her parents learned of the relationship, she was sent back to Bangladesh to enter into an arranged marriage, but escaped to return to London to marry Currie, forcing the couple to go underground for fear that Nessa’s family would kidnap her.

Currie, living in exile in Paris, subsequently signed to the Cherry Red label and resurfaced in 1995 with The Philosophy of Momus, an eclectic set veering from reggae to blues to techno that featured “The Sadness of Things,” an indie hit recorded with Ken Morioka of the Japanese pop band Soft Ballet.

Slender Sherbet, a collection of re-recordings of material from the Tender Pervert era, followed later in the year as Momus suddenly found success in Japan writing and producing for pop songstress Kahimi Karie, with whom he notched a string of five consecutive Top Five hits.

20 Vodka Jellies, a collection of demos performed by Momus and intended for Karie, appeared in 1996, and was the first of his records issued in the U.S. In addition to writing and producing material for Nessa’s band Milky and the magazine Blender, Currie rounded out the year by writing, producing, and programming the collection This Must Stop. He issued Ping Pong in 1997, returning a year later with dynamic and inventive The Little Red Songbook. Released in 1999, Stars Forever was arguably Momus’ most controversial and provocative artistic statement yet — mounted to help defray massive legal costs facing Currie’s U.S. label Le Grand Magistery, each of its songs was commissioned for $1,000 apiece by various patrons, from Japanese pop mastermind Cornelius to the staff at New York City publicity firm Girlie Action, and written to the patrons’ specifications. Folktronic followed in early 2001, and two years later, Momus debuted on his own American Patchwork label with Oskar Tennis Champion.

Analog put out the two-disc Forbidden Software Timemachine: Best of the Creation Years, 1987-1993 compilation in 2003, followed by the chanson-forward Otto Spooky and Ocky Milk in 2005 and 2006. In 2008, Currie teamed up with Glaswegian producer Joe Howe for the album JOEMUS, released on the Analog Baroque imprint, with the YouTube-inspired album Hypnoprism arriving in 2010. Thunderclown, a collaboration with John Henriksson, arrived in 2011, followed by the British horror film-inspired Bibliotek in 2012. The year 2013 saw the release of Bambi, as well as the first installment of MOMUSMCCLYMONT, a collaboration with ex-Orange Juice member David McClymont. MOMUSMCCLYMONT II appeared in 2014, followed in 2015 by the triple-LP Turpsycore and Japanese folk-inspired Glyptothek.

Arriving in 2016, Scobberlotchers saw Momus taking on Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, while 2017’s Pillycock was influenced, in part, by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s Trilogy of Life films (Arabian Nights, The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales). He returned in 2018 with Pantaloon, a topical cabaret LP that coincided with his move to Berlin. The following year, Momus purchased an accordion in a junk shop and was inspired to compose an album featuring the instrument; titled Akkordion (mixing the German and English spellings), the LP was issued by Creation Records in October 2019.


Despite such a prolific output, I’ve only one Momus album in the collection – Tender Pervert which I picked up on vinyl from a charity shop for next to nothing.  One of its tracks was also included on a Creation compilation, Doing It For The Kids, released in 1988.  It’s fair to say that it’s one of his more accessible offerings – and even then, you’d be hard pushed to ever hear it on radio.

mp3: Momus – A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17 to 24)

JC

THE 23rd NEW ENTRY BACK IN MAY 1990


Yesterday’s monthly nostalgia-fest mentioned that there were 23 new entries into the Top 75 singles chart in the first week of May 1990….a quite remarkable stat and I think you would be hard pushed to find any other week where almost one-third of the hits were new.

I deliberately left off the 23rd and last of them – the one that appeared at #75 and dropped out the following week.

Ian McCulloch had great hopes for his solo career when he flounced out of Echo & The Bunnymen in something of a hissy fit. His debut album, Candleland, released in September 1989 caught a few folk out as it was, in many places, far removed from the sound of the band with which he had made his name. There was even a song that was the biggest New Order rip-off since Robert Smith and his buddies had written and recorded Inbetween Days:-

mp3: Ian McCulloch – Faith and Healing

Have a particularly close listen at the 2:40 mark….

The album was reasonably well received by the critics and sold enough copies to reach the Top 20 here in the UK, but it was one of those that came and went quickly, largely as a result of not really having any obvious singles. Most folk seemed to think that the title track, featuring a guest backing vocal from one-third of the Cocteau Twins, together with a guitar contribution which found Mac trying (unsuccessfully) to channel his inner Johnny Marr, was the best song on the album; but it wasn’t an obvious 45:-

mp3: Ian McCulloch (featuring Elizabeth Fraser) – Candleland

Someone came up with the genius idea of inviting Gil Norton to sprinkle some fairy dust on the song. Strings were added and Liz’s vocal becomes more prominent, making it almost like a duet in many places. The result was quite splendid:-

mp3: Ian McCulloch (featuring Elizabeth Fraser) – Candleland (The Second Coming)

The mistake was to release it in an already very crowded market and no matter how hard the pluggers would have worked and pushed it, it was going to struggle to get airplay. It really deserved a much better fate.

The interesting thing, from a fan’s perspective, is that three new songs were included on the 12″ single, all of them produced by Gil Norton. The results are mixed but there’s occasionally a hint of the Bunnymen sound and tempo. The first of them has a feel that would be reproduced on the Evergreen comeback album, while the opening notes of the second song reminds me of Noctural Me from the Ocean Rain album.

mp3: Ian McCulloch – Big Days
mp3: Ian McCulloch – The World Is Flat

The final track is, IMHO, a bit of a letdown but here it is for completeness sake:-

mp3: Ian McCulloch – Wassailing In The Night

Mac was, and still is, a huge football fan and he must have looked on with a bit of envy to see New Order hitting the heights with the England World Cup squad. Eight years later, he got his chance when he was asked to write and record the official song for the team in advance of France 1998. He roped in Johnny Marr to help with the tune and members of Ocean Colour Scene, Space and the Spice Girls to join in the vocal.

It’s simply appalling and everything you fear with a release of this type. Especially the promo:-

It reached #9 in the charts

JC