SCARED TO GET HAPPY – ART OBJECTS

I recently treated myself to a copy of Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie-Pop 1980–1989. It was released back in June 2013 by Cherry Red Records and consists of five CDs with more than songs from indie bands and singers from the decade. It doesn’t claim to be the full story as there are a number of key elements missing due to licensing issues – nothing for instance from Orange Juice, Felt, The Smiths, The Vaselines, The Pastels or My Bloody Valentine – but it’s a damn fine effort.

I already had the majority of the songs in one shape or other – either the original vinyl or via other CD compilations issued by Cherry Red or Rough Trade – but there’s a good number that were new to me and therefore will be new to the blog. Such as today’s effort:-

mp3: Art Objects – Showing Off To Impress The Girls

The bio from all music advises:-

The Art Objects were an offbeat British group whose embrace of noisy, non-melodic guitar figures and strong psychedelic influences paved the way for post-punk acts such as Echo & the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes. Formed in Bristol in the southwest of Great Britain, the Art Objects began in mid-1978 as an eccentric three-piece featuring spoken vocals from poet Gerard Langley, fractured guitar accompaniment from Jonathan J. Key (aka Jonjo), and dancing by Wojtek Dmochowski. They adopted a more conventional lineup in the summer of 1979 when drummer John Langley joined the band, soon followed by bassist Bill Stair and second guitarist Robin Key (Jonathan’s brother).

In 1980, the Art Objects released a three-song single for the Fried Egg label, featuring the tracks “Hard Objects,” “Biblioteque,” and “Fit of Pique”; the record was a modest success on the independent charts, and a second single soon followed, “Showing Off (To Impress the Girls)” and “Our Silver Sister.” Heartbeat Records, which released the group’s second single, wanted an album from the Art Objects, and Bagpipe Music was recorded during five days of sessions in the summer of 1980. It was nearly a year before Bagpipe Music was finally released, and shortly after it reached stores, the group split up, with Gerard Langley, Wojtek Dmochowski, and John Langley soon forming a new group, the Blue Aeroplanes; most of the songs of the Blue Aeroplanes’ debut album, Bop Art, began as Art Objects tunes, and Bill Stair, Jonathan J. Key, and Robin Key helped out during the recording. In 2007, an expanded reissue of Bagpipe Music was released by British indie label Cherry Red.

I know there’s a few fans of The Blue Aeroplanes out there who probably knew all this already but, as I mentioned earlier, it was all new to me.

Showing Off To Impress The Girls is a very fine sounding sub-three-minute single, with a lead vocal that is almost spoken rather than sung….and reminds me of the way that Robert Forster delivered his vocals in the early days of The Go-Betweens. The tune has a lot going on in the background too, changing pace and tempo a couple of times, with the hint of a Tom Verlaine-style guitar break towards the end being a particular highlight.

I couldn’t find a copy of the b-side anywhere, short of looking to grab a hold of the original vinyl on the second-hand market, so here instead is the lead track from the debut EP:-

mp3: Art Objects – Hard Objects

Keep tuning in this week some more installments from Scared To Get Happy.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 9)

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, and aeroplanes
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs
Don’t mis-serve your own needs
Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no, strength,
The ladder starts to clatter
With a fear of height, down, height
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
And a government for hire and a combat site
Left her, wasn’t coming in a hurry
With the Furies breathing down your neck

Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

Six o’clock, T.V. hour, don’t get caught in foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, bloodletting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh oh
This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline

It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)
I feel fine (I feel fine)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

The other night I drifted nice continental drift divide
Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right, right

It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine (time I had some time alone)

And when played live, the audience to a man, woman and child take great delight in chanting, on cue and in time, ‘Leonard Bernstein’.

A song that has always been one of the most-loved and most popular in the entire back catalogue. It appealed immediately to the fans of old (or so I understand from reading contemporary reviews) and it has always found favour with those who would discover R.E.M. in later years. And it’s the song that got me interested in the band.

I wasn’t doing much in terms of music in 1987. My personal life had been falling to bits in some ways and my drastic solution was to look to settle down and get married. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight it was doomed from the outset as we had, outside of a similar sense of humour, not a great deal in common – and most obviously when it came to music. So, I was going through a period of trying to fit in with the mainstream and not paying attention to what was happening out there – the subsequent gaps in my education would later be filled by the efforts of a few people, but mainly Jacques the Kipper, a work colleague at the time and now a lifelong and valued friend.

The radio was playing in the kitchen of Sunday evening when I was sitting in the house where my fiance lived with her parents – everyone else was watching a TV drama and I was catching up on some reading of papers for a meeting at work the following day. All of a sudden, I’m distracted by an upbeat tune accompanied by the delivery of a nonsensical lyric at breakneck speed. The DJ, Annie Nightingale, then said she had just played the new single by R.E.M. that had been requested by someone from somewhere I’ve forgotten. I hadn’t quite caught the name of the song but assumed it was called And I Feel Fine.

A couple of months later and I hear another song by R.E.M. on the radio. It’s a love song, of that I’m sure, but it’s played again at a breakneck speed with a memorable guitar riff and solo. I’m not buying much in the way of new music but I decide I’m going to get my hands on the new album, which I’ve seen in the shops, but as it’s now not that long till Christmas, I decide to wait and add it to the list of presents from Santa.

25 December 1987. The first time I ever owned anything by R.E.M. You never forget your first time which is why Document will always be my favourite album of theirs, without question.

Years later, I’m long divorced, re-married (happily!!) and I’ve got this new music blog going that has rekindled a love for vinyl. I’m constantly in and out of second-hand shops seeking out, in the main, the sort of stuff I missed out on in the late 80s. Any R.E.M. singles, especially on 12″ are grabbed without hesitation – and that’s why I have a number of them now sitting proudly in the cupboard (all the while kicking myself that I went down the CD singles route in the early 90s for the later releases).

It was still a huge thrill to get my hands on the vinyl and I couldn’t wait to get home and give it a spin. It was originally released in the UK in August 1987 but once again proved to be a failure in terms of sales. I don’t think anyone at IRS was too worried as the different single that had been released over in the USA in August 1987 was proving to be a monster hit and was making stars out of the band members – and that’s me setting up the scenario for the next installment of this series!! But let’s return to today, as there’s still quite a back story to be told.

It’s The End Of The World.……was issued in 7″ and 12″ format. It wasn’t changed or edited from the album version.

mp3: R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

The b-side of the 7″ had one live song and the 12″ had two-live songs, both taken from an acoustic set played at Mccabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica on 24 May 1987. This particular show happened while the new album was being mixed in Los Angeles (it has been recorded in Nashville); it was seen, at the time, as a one-off, organised to raise funds for a friend who was fighting a costly legal battle. R.E.M were billed at the top but it was very much a collective effort involving a number of kindred spirits and friends – Steve Wynn and Kendra Smith (The Dream Syndicate), Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs), Jenny Homer (Downey Mildew), Peter Case (ex-The Nerves) and David Roback (The Rain Parade, and later, Mazzy Star). Indeed, it was Steve Wynn who opened the show, playing his own material and covers, followed by Natalie Merchant and eventually one or more of Stipe, Mills or Buck would join the revolving cast- being an acoustic show in a tiny venue, Bill Berry’s talents weren’t able to be utilised.

The show was bootlegged and cassette copies were soon readily available. The band liked what they heard and decided that part of it should be given an official release via b-sides, which happened on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby creating an unusual situation that the b-sides were the same but the a-sides were different!

mp3: R.E.M. – This One Goes Out (live – McCabe’s Record Shop)
mp3: R.E.M. – Maps and Legends (live – McCabe’s Record Shop)

Yup, the first of the songs was carrying that title in May 1987 – it would become The One I Love later on in the process as the band completed the mixing and began to pull the artwork together. It was the seventh song to be aired at McCabes and the first in which Michael Stipe took lead vocal. Oh, and the guitar part is not the work of Peter Buck, but is played by Geoff Gans who was the art department boss at I.R.S. Records who, prior to establishing himself in graphics, had played guitar with local bands in LA.

It was the only song on which Gans played at the show, with Buck coming on board right after.

Here’s the other thing worth mentioning – McCabes was actually two sets in the one show. The first set closed with the ensemble getting together for a bunch of covers played back-to-back, and following an interval, a second set followed a similar format with Steve Wynn opening proceedings in advance of the members of R.E.M. taking to the stage. I only mention this as this new song. This One Goes Out, was aired again during the second set but this time with Peter Buck on guitar – and yet, the decision was taken to go with the version from the first set.

Maps and Legends was aired during the first set with just Stipe and Buck on stage at the time.

Apologies for the length of today’s post, but there was just so much to write about in connection with this particular single, both from a personal standpoint and from the fact that this, at the time, unheralded live show in a guitar shop, would point the way for R.E.M. in later years.

It’s me again next week with some thoughts on The One I Love.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #223 : NORMAN BLAKE

Two for the price of one this week.

The hard drive contains a couple of songs attributed solely (as such!) to Norman Blake, both courtesy of compilations:-

mp3: Norman Blake – Only With You
mp3: Norman Blake & John Burnside – Girl

The former is from this CD marking 25 years of the wonderful and excellent Marina Records, based in Hamburg but with a lot of connections to the Scottish music scene, often via Douglas Macintyre and Creeping Bent Records.

The latter is from this CD in which various Scottish singers/bands hooked up with poets to create new songs.

Today’s post is dedicated to my dear friend Andrea Peviani (Conventional Records) who, from living close to Milan, has had to deal longer with the dreadful impact and consequences of COVID-19 than most of the rest of us.

JC

CLEARING UP SOME CONFUSION – FIVE YEARS AFTER THE FACT

It was June 2015 when Don’t Talk To Me About Love featured as part of the short series looking back at the singles released by Altered Images. There was initially a fair bit of confusion on that I had been really lazy in posting up what I described as the ‘Extended Version’ as being from the 12″ single when it had in fact been taken from the version made available on the reissued edition of the album, Bite.

The fact that the CD version came in at 7 mins in length, as opposed to the 3:49 version on the 7″ (not forgetting the just under 5 mins version on the album) was the reason I made the initial mistake, which was pointed out quite quickly in one of the first comments offered up that day. I did try and rectify things quickly but amid all the panic and confusion, I’m not really sure if I did.

So…. five years on, and while I still don’t have the world at my feet, I do have the opportunity to pull out the 12″ from the cupboard and do a fresh digital recording via the new turntable. The fact that the 12″ came in a completely differently designed sleeve from the 7″, albeit both were the work of the late and deservedly acclaimed David Band, should have clicked with my brain all those years ago.

mp3: Altered Images – Don’t Talk To Me About Love (12″ version)

That’s all 8 and a half minutes of it, complete with the little bits of wizardry deployed in the studio,

I air the 7″ version, without fail, at every Simply Thrilled night and it inevitably fills the floor, no matter how early it is. There was a tremendously succinct but memorable description of the song offered up by For Malcontents Only back in June 2015:-

“The Scottish Heart of Glass!”

Which provides the perfect excuse, and again re-recorded using the new turntable:-

mp3: Blondie – Heart of Glass (12″ version)

Now, if listening to these two songs doesn’t put a smile on your face and simultaneously gets your hips swaying, then you are an unwell person. My advice to you is…. seek professional help!!

JC

JUST A LITTLE SOMETHING I LIKE TO DO NOW AND AGAIN

And that’s to have a 12-inch effort by The Fall pop up out of nowhere so that some of you will be smiling while others will shake their heads with some dismay.

I’ve written previously about Free Range and the fact it is up there among my favourite 45s by the band. Free Range actually reached #40 in the singles chart which was the best ever-showing for a track that wasn’t a cover version. Its follow-up appeared in the shops in June 1992 and despite being another catchy number that had something of a singalong or at least hummable refrain, it didn’t come close to cracking the Top 75:-

mp3: The Fall – Ed’s Babe

The line-up at the time, in addition to Mark E Smith, consisted of Craig Scanlon (guitar), Steve Hanley (bass), Dave Bush (keyboards) and Simon Wolstencroft (drums) and the track is credited to Scanlon/Smith. It’s one that wouldn’t have sounded out of place during the Brix-era, being almost pop-orientated with the keyboards at the heart of the things. It’s certainly one of the most danceable of the band’s numbers.

It was released only on 12″ and CD with the former offering up a misprint on the label which perhaps indicates a late change of mind to ensure there was just the requisite number of songs (four) to have it qualify as a single and not the five that appear on the label, albeit just four songs are listed on the reverse of the sleeve. This was the track on the same side as the single:-

mp3: The Fall – Pumpkin Head Xscapes

Another danceable number, quite baggy in sound that certainly wouldn’t have sounded out of place as a tune on an Inspiral Carpets single or album. But it also comes with much use of the vocal being sung through a megaphone and then ends with a spoken outro by someone who isn’t MES which places it firmly in the camp of The Fall and nobody else. This one was written by Scanlon/Smith/Hanley.

Flipping the record over and there’s these two tracks:-

mp3: The Fall – The Knight The Devil and Death
mp3: The Fall – Free Ranger

If I was to play the former to you without any hints or clues, I reckon you’d need probably a thousand tries before coming up with it being a song by The Fall, mainly as there’s no vocal contribution from MES and indeed given that he wasn’t credited with any instruments, other than tapes, for any of the sessions of the songs that made up the sessions for the album Code: Selfish and the various b-sides to the singles, then he may not have contributed to this track, albeit he does get a writing credit (Wolsencraft/Smith/Scanlon).

It’s also a very different sort of tune than normal, with the initial reliance on an acoustic guitar giving it something of a folky sort of feel at times. Although not credited on the sleeve of the 12″, the spoken/sung vocal is the work of Cassell Webb, an American-born singer whose career dates back to the late 60s and has encompassed a wide range of genres. Her husband is a name that should be familiar to Jonny and Echorich (among others) as Craig Leon was a major part of the NYC scene, on the production side, in the late 70s/early 80s, working with the likes of The Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Richard Hell and Suicide. He was the producer of Code: Selfish and his other half was drafted in to provide some backing vocals as well as take the lead on this, rather intriguing track. It’s also down on the label as being track three of the a-side.

The latter is, as the title indicates, a remix of the previous single. It’s not as immediate or powerful as the original but it remains on the few Fall songs ever given the remix treatment and is well worth a listen for that alone.

I’ve mentioned that a fifth track appears on the label of the 12″, slated as the second track on Side-B to follow on from Free Ranger. It eventually saw the light of day via an edition of Volume which was 1990s publication consisting of a CD (usually containing around 20-24 tracks) and a near-200 page booklet with information on the singers and bands on the CD. Volume One appeared in September 1991 and stopped at Volume Seventeen in January 1997. I’m sure it retailed for around £10 – I only ever bought three of them, including Volume Four which has this on it:-

mp3: The Fall – Arid Al’s Dream

This one also has a contribution from Kenny Brady on violin and all-told it makes for the sort of weird and wonderful world that many associate with The Fall, fans and detractors alike.

JC

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 37)

This one is a sad short story.  The country-style tune propelled the single all the way to #4 in 1981.   It was the third, and thus far last, time the last time Squeeze would enjoy a Top 10 hit in the UK.  The parent album, East Side Story, is one of my all-time favourites from any era.  I’ll get round to praising its merits sometime in the future.

She unscrews the top of her new whisky bottle
And shuffles around in her candle-lit hovel
Like some kind of witch with blue fingers in mittens
She smells like the cat and the neighbours she sickens
The black and white T.V. has long seen a picture
The cross on the wall is a permanent fixture
The postman delivers the final reminders
She sells off her silver and poodles in China

Drinks to remember I, me and myself
And winds up the clock and knocks dust from the shelf
Home is a love that I miss very much
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love

During the wartime, an American pilot
Made every air raid a time of excitement
She moved to his prairie and married the Texan
She learnt from a distance how love was a lesson
He became drinker and she became mother
She knew that one day she’d be one or the other
He ate himself older, drunk himself dizzy
Proud of her features, she kept herself pretty

Drinks to remember I, me and myself
And winds up the clock and knocks dust from the shelf
Home is a love that I miss very much
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love

He, like a cowboy, died drunk in a slumber
Out on the porch in the middle of summer
She crossed the ocean back home to her family
But they had retired to roads that were sandy
She moved home alone without friends or relations
Lived in a world full of age reservations
On moth-eaten armchairs, she’d say that she’d sod all
The friends who had left her to drink from the bottle

Drinks to remember I, me and myself
And winds up the clock and knocks dust from the shelf
Home is a love that I miss very much
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love

Drinks to remember I, me and myself
Winds up the clock and knocks dust from the shelf
Home is a love that I miss very much
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love
The past has been bottled and labelled with love
The past has been bottled and labelled with love

mp3: Squeeze – Labelled With Love

The b-side saw the band offer their own take on the then-popular Stars on 45 things that had been flooding the charts that year.

mp3: Squeeze – Squabs on 45

And yes, I know I featured both these songs back in 2017, but in my defence, I wasn’t offering up the lyric as an example of a short story.

JC

 

FROM THE BIG BOX OF CASSETTE TAPES…..VIA VINYL (Side 2)

From an article in The Quietus, back in 2011, penned by Jim Keoghan:-

“As soon as a jingly-jangly indie band appears today, the C86 tag isn’t far behind. And yet, this wasn’t always the case. Over time we seem to have diminished a scene that was far more musically and culturally complex that is often assumed. For all its janglyness, C86 was about much more than just that.

Looking back 25 years to the original C86 era, the Britain of then might be unrecognisable to us today. Unemployment into the millions, rising inflation, an unrepentant Tory Government; it’s difficult to comprehend, but that’s what life really was like. Musically, Live Aid (which had taken place a year earlier) perfectly exemplified the landscape of the time with a rosta of bands so irredeemably anodyne they managed to make Queen look interesting.

Against this background, a musical rebellion was fermenting. At first it began in isolated pockets around the country, in places like Bristol and Glasgow but would soon coalesce to produce one of the most eclectic scenes in the short history of independent music.

One of the earliest people to really pick up on this change was Roy Carr, then a journalist with the NME.

“During the mid 80s, a few of us at the paper were starting to hear and see a load of bands coming through with a different sound to that which had dominated the independent scene for much of the earlier part of the decade. You got the feeling that something was happening, like the ground was shifting slightly.”

At the time, the NME was fond of putting together and releasing mix-tapes covering any number of different genres. It might sound quaint today in an age of unfettered access to anything ever recorded, but in those far off days a simple mix-tape could be one of the best chances for its readers to get hold of something new.

“We thought we’d do one of these for what was happening in indie music at the time. I’d done it for the paper before in 1981 – the imaginatively titled C81 – and that had been quite popular. So a few of us got together and started picking the bands we wanted to go on the tape.”

The tape did well, selling thousands of copies via mail order and eventually being released as an LP a year later by Rough Trade. According to Sean Dickson, former lead singer with The Soup Dragons, this success acted as something of a catalyst – not just on the 22 bands featured, but on the scene as a whole.

“The tape was the key to the whole C86 thing taking off,” he says. Aside from its impact on our profile, which was big, its release threw a spotlight on everything. I think what you can say is that it made what was underground suddenly over-ground. It took all these little scenes from around the country and pushed them together into the limelight – scenes like mine in Glasgow, where bands like us and Primal Scream had been knocking around for a few years; going to the same gigs, enjoying the same taste in music and sharing a similar attitude in the way that we made music.”

What’s striking about the bands both on the tape and those associated with the scene is the lack of a defining sound. If you listen to it today, the NME tape alone sounds like a load of bands with very little in common.

“We sounded nothing like a lot of the groups,” says Kev Hopper, bassist at the time with Stump. “Our song, ‘Buffalo’, is totally different to something like ‘Breaking Lines’ by The Pastels. When people today think of C86 it’s the bands with the fey melodies and jangly guitars that come to mind. But there were many other groups that were loud and energetic, such as Big Flame and The Wedding Present, and then people like us and Bogshed who were quite experimental. Listen to the tape today and it’s clear that the scene was about much more than just indie-pop.”

It is possible to pick your way through C86 and find several bands whose music did share bits in common. Many of those from Glasgow, such as The Pastels and Primal Scream, indulged in the more classically fey sound normally associated with C86, whereas on the Ron Johnson label, acts like The Shrubs, Big Flame and A Witness released songs that were fast and furious. But these connections were limited, and overall there is little to unite all the groups together, beyond a certain under-produced quality that characterised much of what was released during this period.

“The thing about music round then is that the people making it were drawing their influences from so many different places,” says John Robb, whose book Death to Trad Rock catalogues many of the bands around at the time. “Yes, there were bands that were heavily into the Velvet Underground and producing jangly pop, but there were others who were taking ideas from punk, blues, jazz, funk, rock & roll, ska, dub and anything else they could get their hands on and then twisting it all into something new.”

And yet to say that these groups had nothing at all to unite them would be wrong. One of the strongest shared characteristics evident in the scene was the rediscovery of punk’s DIY ethic. “This was all about bands doing it for themselves,” says John Robb. “This aspect of the scene isn’t always appreciated. There was no grovelling to major labels. Bands pressed their own records, put on their own gigs, designed their own record sleeves and published their own fanzines. It could often come across as quite amateurish but most of the time that was because those involved didn’t care about being slick. This wasn’t corporate rock; these bands didn’t have to sell millions. They were making music their own way. This was independent music in the truest sense of the word. Anti-establishment and everything that trad-rock wasn’t.”

Yet despite its obvious musical and cultural complexity, over time C86 has been reduced to just one thing: journalistic short-hand for indie-pop. Its role in the creation of this genre is certainly an important one; the jingly-jangly sound we all know so well was formed during the mid-to-late 80s. C86 bands played a huge part in this, building on the foundations laid by Postcard Records at the beginning of the decade. Indie pop, in all its various forms since, owes a debt to bands such as The Pastels, The Shop Assistants and The Bodines.

But this shouldn’t be the only recognised legacy of C86. Some of its more abrasive groups have been quoted as influences by bands as diverse as the Manic Street Preachers, Lambchop and Franz Ferdinand. What’s more, its success stories included groups like The Wedding Present, who reflected the energetic side of the scene. And a few years after C86 had fizzled out, its cultural dimension was also a clear spiritual influence on Riot Grrrl – something acknowledged by bands who possessed the same DIY ethic, such as Bikini Kill and Bratmobile.

C86 as a scene and a tag is a more complex beast than we give it credit for. In the spirit of the DIY ethic this is my attempt to get off my arse and do something to right the wrong that has been done to C86 over the last thirty years. Spread the word dear reader; C86 was jangly, C86 was fey but C86 was also about much more than that too.”

——————–

Here, as promised yesterday, is Side 2.

  1. The Shop Assistants – It’s Up to You
  2. The Close Lobsters – Firestation Towers
  3. Miaow – Sport Most Royal
  4. Half Man Half Biscuit – I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)
  5. The Servants – Transparent
  6. Mackenzies – Big Jim (There’s No Pubs In Heaven)
  7. Big Flame – New Way (Quick Wash And Brush Up With Liberation Theology)
  8. We’ve Got A Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It – Console Me
  9. McCarthy – Celestial City
  10. The Shrubs – Bullfighter’s Bones
  11. The Wedding Present – This Boy Can Wait (A Bit Longer!)

Once again, individual tracks are available from clicking each of the above links. Here’s everything as one continuous listen if that’s your preference:-

mp3: Various – C86 NME/Rough Trade 100 (Side Two – vinyl version)

JC

FROM THE BIG BOX OF CASSETTE TAPES…..VIA VINYL (Side 1)

From wiki:-

C86 is a cassette compilation released by the British music magazine NME in 1986, featuring new bands licensed from British independent record labels of the time.As a term, C86 quickly evolved into shorthand for a guitar-based musical genre characterized by jangling guitars and melodic power pop song structures, although other musical styles were represented on the tape. In its time, it became a pejorative term for its associations with so-called “shambling” (a John Peel-coined description celebrating the self-conscious primitive approach of some of the music and underachievement. The C86 scene is now recognized as a pivotal moment for independent music in the UK.

The C86 name was a play on the labelling and length of blank compact cassette, commonly C60, C90 and C120, combined with 1986. The tape was a belated follow-up to C81, a more eclectic collection of new bands, released by the NME in 1981 in conjunction with Rough Trade. C86 was similarly designed to reflect the new music scene of the time. It was the twenty-third NME tape, although its catalogue number was NME022 (C81 had been dubbed COPY001).

It was about a year later that Rough Trade issued a vinyl copy of C86, with the catalogue number of Rough 100 and on sale at a pre-determined price of £4.49.

My copy is at least second-hand, possibly more. I found it in a charity shop in Glasgow some five years ago, and paid £2 for it. It has the £4.49 sticker but also a second sticker for the same price from the independent chain in which it was first purchased – Andy’s Recordsthis wiki page explains the story behind its rise and fall.

I’ve now made copies of all the tracks from the original vinyl, which is in surprisingly good condition given its age and that the sleeve is rather tattered and tired-looking. Side 1 today. Side 2 tomorrow. Along with a lengthy critique that I’ve ripped from elsewhere.

  1. Primal Scream – Velocity Girl
  2. The Mighty Lemon Drops – Happy Head
  3. The Soup Dragons – Pleasantly Surprised
  4. The Wolfhounds – Feeling So Strange Again
  5. The Bodines – Therese
  6. Mighty Mighty – Law
  7. Stump – Buffalo
  8. Bogshed – Run To The Temple
  9. A Witness – Sharpened Sticks
  10. The Pastels – Breaking Lines
  11. The Age of Chance – From Now On, This Will Be Your God

Individual songs are available from clicking each of the above links. Here’s everything as one continuous listen if that’s your preference:-

mp3: Various – C86 NME/Rough Trade 100 (Side One – vinyl version)

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 8)

First of all….a really big thanks to everyone who has come in on the back of each of the previous postings with thoughts, observations and comments.  It’s always appreciated and I do hope of all, or at least most of you, will stick with us on this epic journey which is likely to last the best part of a year all told.

The Robster was right with his assessment that July 1986 saw the release of one of R.E.M.’s best-ever singles.

Fall On Me was everything you would expect from a band who were being increasingly put forward, in the USA at least, as the saviours of guitar-pop with an independent bent.  The subsequent album hit the stores two weeks later, and ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’ continued the happy trend of each new album initially selling more copies than its predecessor.

September – November 1986 saw the band out on the road in North America playing 64 shows in 82 days, in ever-increasing sized venues, leaving no real opportunity for any promotional activities around any follow-up single, of which there were three or four strong candidates, especially from the first side of the latest album which was as strong and consistent as anything they had ever released to this point.

The second side of LRP, however, was a pointer to the fact that the band had almost exhausted itself of material with two tracks from 1980 being resurrected in the studio along with the decision to add an obscure cover to take the number of songs on the album up to twelve with a running time short of 40 minutes. IRS was, nevertheless, determined to make sure there was some new product to coincide with the tour and on 4 November, in the same week as the band was set to play two sell-out shows in New York, they released a second single from LRP in the shape of Superman.

The same single would then receive a UK release in March 1987.

On the face of it, releasing a second single from an album isn’t really a crime.  IRS, however, was quite perverse in going with Superman as it was the cover version that had been tagged onto the end of the album to prevent any fans feeling they were being short-changed.  It was also a track on which Mike Mills and not Michael Stipe sang lead vocals……..

Superman dates from 1969, released as a b-side by The Clique, a pop band hailing from Houston, Texas.  Its introduction to the R.E.M. canon can be traced back to early 1986 when, having come off a gruelling tour the previous year, the band took some time away to do their own projects.  In the case of the rhythm section, Mike Mills and Bill Berry hooked up with three friends to form The Corn Cob Webs, a covers band whose aim was to play in small venues around their home town of Athens.  In the end, there was just the one show, but among the tunes they rolled out was Superman, with Mike taking lead vocal duties as he was the only one who knew the words.

Fast forward a few months and everyone is in the studio recording songs for the new album and possible b-sides.  A run-through of Superman confirms that it would make for a decent enough b-side in the near or far future.  They get to the mixing stage and there’s a late change of plan to now add it to the album, but as something of a hidden track that wouldn’t be listed on the sleeve.  It was also decided to give it a quirky introduction by recording a Japanese toy Godzilla….

I think all of the above indicates that having the song issued as a bonafide single was the last thing on the band’s collective minds.

mp3: R.E.M. – Superman

The single flopped on release in the USA.  Unsurprisingly, it did the same in the UK come March 1987.

Here’s the b-sides

mp3: R.E.M. – White Tornado
mp3: R.E.M. – Femme Fatale

The latter was only available on the 12″ release. It sees the band, for the third time, offer a take on a Velvet Underground song.  The recording dated back to 1984 from the same semi-drunken sessions as Pale Blue Eyes which had, if you recall, been used a b-side to So. Central Rain.

But it was the song on the reverse of the 7″ as well as the 12″ that was the sound of the bottom of the barrel being scraped.

White Tornado is a throwaway surf-style instrumental that dated back to the very beginning of the band, written at the same time as songs such as Radio Free Europe.  The version offered up on Superman was from a session recorded in April 1981.

The relationship with IRS was souring and work was about to get underway on the songs for the fifth studio album, after which the band would be free to go elsewhere.  R.E.M. could now put themselves into a shop window if they so chose.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #222 : NIGHT NOISE TEAM

This one involved a fair bit of digging.

There’s one track on the hard drive by Night Noise Team, courtesy of its inclusion on a compilation CD Limbo Live Volume One.

Limbo was a live music club based out of The Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh that ran from 2007-2016. It pulled together some amazing line-ups during that time, giving a much need boost to the live scene in the city, which, certainly in comparison to Glasgow, is far less obvious mainly as a result of a lack of decent venues, for all sorts of reasons.

It was back in 2009 that a live CD was compiled and released, consisting of songs recorded at one or other of the Limbo nights. 14 songs in all, mostly from acts based in Scotland, with the common issue being they were on small labels or indeed were unsigned. I hadn’t heard of Night Noise Team (NNT) whatsoever until going through the hard drive to see who came alphabetically after The Needles, but here’s what I’ve been able to find out.

NNT consisted of Sean Ormsby (voice, guitar), Fabien Pinardon (bass, guitar, keys), Marco Morelli (lead guitar) and Mike Walker (drums). The debut single was Menolick, a digital release via their own Permwhale Recordings in 2009.

In subsequent years, they would release further singles, and EP and three albums, all of which are still obtainable at this page over at Bandcamp. The links to the band and label websites are no longer active and there has been no new material since 2015.

Here’s the track from the Limbo compilation, a live version of the debut single:-

mp3: Night Noise Team – Menolick

It’s a reasonably decent song, with one reviewer back in 2010 taken enough to offer this view of the studio version:-

“This hotly-tipped Edinburgh crew are, it must be said, very 80s, like Talk Talk with a sinister edge, and with robotic vocals that explode like Joy Division plays pop or one of Interpol’s darker moments. The synths that run through sit uneasily with the rest of the song, but they do keep what could be a doomy rocker bright and in fact show off what is a rather ace tune.”

It would be great if anyone reading this could offer more info.

JC