BURNING BADGERS VINYL (Part 5) : SNUFF

Burning Badgers Vinyl 5:

Lost EPs : #1 – Do Do Do EP – Snuff (1996) (Deceptive Record BLUFF033)

by SWC

There used to be a pub in Maidstone called the Tut N Shive, which despite being a ridiculous name for a pub, was actually quite a good night out. I first discovered it when I left my usual Friday night haunt The Minstrel to get some chips. I was also looking for a lass I knew, Maya, who for some reason, hadn’t been in the pub that night, despite telling me that she definitely, without question would be. As I walked to the chip shop I heard the strains of ‘Today’ by Smashing Pumpkins blaring out of this pub. The pub used to be called ‘The Barrel’ and was always one of the townie pubs that people who can walk and clap at the same time avoided in case they were burnt at the stake for being a witch.

It turns out the pub had been given a makeover and a new name, the ridiculously named Tut N Shive as I mentioned before, I was drawn to it like a cartoon bear towards a picnic basket. I wandered in and had that strange feeling that I was cheating on a lover, because this was new, exciting and different but it felt wrong. All my friends were back in The Minstrel, and yet here I was sullying myself silly on a dancefloor surrounded by (beautiful) females who I had never ever seen before, listening to music that not only did I like, but was being played by an actual DJ, not just a tape that the landlord had shoved on and you couldn’t hear and people were dancing and having a great time.

About an hour or so later, I staggered back to The Minstrel, without chips, slightly sweatier than before, and a little bit more refreshed, but feeling ever so guilty. On the way home I confided in John, also known as The Love Monster (why? maybe next week). I told him all about the Tut N Shive, the dancefloor, the beautiful people, the music, the slightly cheaper, less watered-down beer that wasn’t Fosters but something called ‘Red Stripe’ from Jamaica. He looked at me, “But we always go to the Minstrel” he said. Silence. All the way home.

The next week, John very reluctantly agrees to come with me to ‘get some chips’ and as we walk down the hill, towards the Tut N Shive, we hear it, the opening strains of ‘Soul Limbo’ by Booker T and the MGs blaring out. John (a huge cricket fan)* looks and me and just grins and we tear into the Tut as we now call it. We never look back and ignore the strained calls from The Ministrel for us to return.

*JC adds….this is an important element of the story; Soul Limbo has, for as long as I can remember, been the theme tune for the coverage of cricket on the BBC

All of which bobbing about brings us to this weeks record pulled from Badger’s Box and like last week I have picked up five records that were released as EP’s and have in the last twenty-five years or so vanished from the public attention.

Badger loved an EP, he also loved cricket, and would tell everyone who was listening why Craig Kieswetter’s 98 not out at Taunton in the 2015 20/20 championship was the greatest single innings of cricket he had ever witnessed. It was pretty brilliant, taking Somerset from 16 for 3 to within two runs of an unlikely victory over West Country rivals Gloucestershire. Sadly the 11th batsmen threw his wicket away and hundreds of fans left disappointed for Kieswetter and he traipsed dejectedly from the crease back to the pavilion, cheered off as a hero but ultimately still a loser.

What Badger didn’t like what stupid dumb ass punk rock with shouty vocals, trombones and drums that sound like they were recorded at the same time as the drummer was being attacked by a hungry bear. Which brings us nicely to Snuff because the first EP I picked out of the box was their 1996 ‘Do Do Do’ EP and the only reason that Badger owned it was because it has a stupid dumb ass punk rock version of ‘Soul Limbo’ on it, complete with trombones, shouty vocals and drums that sound like they were recorded at the same time as the drummer was being attacked by a hungry bear.

Soul Limbo

This is track 3 of a four-track ‘Covers’ EP that was released on Deceptive Records but for obvious reasons its one that got all the radio play (edited of course). It’s a stunning version of a great song, but in this day and age of rock star cricketers like Ben Stokes, I think we should start a campaign for this to be the new theme for Test Match Special on the BBC. I don’t think of Booker T and the MGs anymore when I think of this song I think of Snuff and that is the measure of a great cover version.

(JC interjects….Craig Kieswetter, Ben Stokes, Test Match Special….I fear we may have lost some, if not all, of our German and American readers.  Indeed, many, if not all, of our Scottish readers too).

I love Snuff, I’ve been a big fan ever since the released an EP called Flibbiddydibbiddydob which consisted largely of TV themes and commercials. I love the fact that behind all of their shouty punk rock, they employ a bloke (admittedly the singer’s brother) to play a trombone in the background. They don’t just do the ‘comedy cover versions’ though, (although they are very good at them), their first album ‘Snuff Said…’ released in 1989 is a bonafide punk rock classic, although I accept I might be in a minority in thinking that.

Here are the other three tracks on the ‘Do Do Do’ EP

Standing In the Shadows Of Love – Originally by The Four Tops

This was the lead track and Snuff had a habit covering Four Tops songs, they famously (well in my life anyway) covered ‘Reach Out’ on the aforementioned ‘Flibbiddyibbiddybob’ EP. Again it’s a terrifically shouty couple of minutes with added trombone in all the right places.

I Will Survive – Originally by Gloria Gaynor

I had to do a lot of in depth research on the original, as I’d never heard it before. Gloria Gaynor it turns out was a street cleaner from Hebden Bridge who used to sing this song whilst sweeping the streets of her town on a Sunday morning. A passing music mogul happened to hear her warbling one morning as he did the walk of shame with his pants in his hands and thought it sounded like a good song. He gave it to Snuff to mangle beyond all sanity, with added trombone. Of course, you can’t believe everything that you read on Wikipedia.

It Must Be Boring Being in Snuff – Originally by Wat Tyler

Wat Tyler were another band in that punk rock scene in the early nineties. They got into trouble once or twice for taking the piss out of more famous bands. When Madonna released her ‘naughty coffee table book, ‘Sex’’, Wat Tyler released a similar one called ‘Sexless’ which featured the band in provocative poses, that were almost an exact replica of those in Madonnas book. Which when you consider that Wat Tyler were mostly fat blokes with beards in their late thirties, was a touch of genius (this is genuinely true).

Before that they released the ‘I’m forever blowing Bubbles’ EP. Which featured a hand-drawn cover of a certain dead singer giving oral relief to a chimp. Charming (but also 100% true).

It also contained a wonderful version of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ that I must dig out sometime. I mean that genuinely, far far better than the original, and that one member of Snuff, and two members of Wat Tyler and (I think) one member of Leatherface later went on to form Guns N Wankers with middling commercial success.

SWC

THE MAN WHO DIRECTLY LINKS R.E.M. AND NEW ORDER

I’ve spent some time recently cataloging all the vinyl and CDs sitting around Villain Towers, including those that belong to Rachel, and have used the ‘Collection’ function over at Discogs to create a database. It currently tallies at just under 4,400 separate entries with the number growing every few days as I buy new albums and seek out those bits of vinyl (and occasional CD) where there are holes requiring to be filled.   Oh, and now that I have a wee bit more disposable income for the time being as I eke away at my redundancy payment from a few months back, I’m buying some favourite vinyl to replace what had originally been purchased only on CD.

It was while adding some stuff to the collection function that I was reminded of Scott Litt, the producer best known from his extensive work with R.E.M. in the late 80s/early 90s, had also worked with New Order back in 1989 when he took on the task of re-mixing Run, one of the songs on the album Technique, for its release as a single in the UK.

Run 2, as it became known, featured previously on the blog in February 2018 as part of the series looking at all the New Order singles:-

“Run is one of the most outstanding songs on Technique and rather bravely the band went for an edited single release in due course in which about 45 seconds are chopped off and by editing down the dreamy instrumental finish to the song and replacing it with more of the re-recorded vocal with Barney’s voice given more prominence than the original mix. It’s a decent enough mix and does a job of giving us enough changes to think of it as a new song altogether but it’s not a patch on the original.

The remix was in fact worked on alongside Scott Litt who at that point in time was known for having worked on a couple of LPs by R.E.M. The fact that he would also work on the multi-million sellers Out Of Time and Automatic For The People albums in the 90s and become one of the most talked-about producers of that era was all in the future…..”

mp3: New Order – Run 2

There was also a nod to the fact that Hooky’s basslines could be a factor in making a single a hit or not, and the new mix also brings that more to the fore, as perhaps best be heard in the extended version:-

mp3: New Order – Run 2 (extended version)

Despite all this, the single stalled at #49, which was the worst-performing showing by a New Order 45 in three years. It wasn’t helped by Factory Records electing to only issue it on 12″ vinyl and not pressing and distributing that many copies, possibly as a result of the increasing cash-flow problems they were experiencing and which would later help bring about the demise of the label.

There’s also the issue that, as soon as the single was released, lawyers representing John Denver sued New Order and Factory, claiming that the instrumental section of Run 2 ripped off his composition, Leaving On A Jet Plane. The case was quickly settled out of court, but it did result in Factory never pressing anymore than those original 20,000 copies and never making Run 2 available until 2008 when a deluxe edition of Technique was released and which included the extended version (but not the single version).

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #267 : URUSEI YATSURA

I often take great comfort from the contents of the e-mails which come in with the submission of a guest ICA in that the authors often say that the piece has been some time in the making and it has taken an eternity to finalise.

It’s not just me then……

I first thought about a Urusei Yatsura ICA at least three years ago. About 18 months ago, I started scribbling some things down but then realised I had to pick up more than what I had in the collection to make it credible. I’ve now picked up all three albums and most of the singles, often via Discogs, and there’s no doubt that the first draft would have been lacking.

Oh, and there’s also the fact that my good mate Aldo is a work colleague of Elaine Graham, one of the band-members, and so I feel a wee bit of added pressure as I’m sure he’ll share the contents of this with her.

A very brief bio, adapted from wiki with some additional facts:-

Urusei Yatsura formed in Glasgow in 1993. Founding members Fergus Lawrie and Graham Kemp met whilst attending the University of Glasgow. They recruited Elaine Graham as bassist, and the line-up was completed with the subsequent addition of Elaine’s brother, Ian Graham, on drums.

They took their band name from the manga Urusei Yatsura, written by Rumiko Takahashi, and contributed their first recording, “Guitars Are Boring”, to a compilation album released by the locally based Kazoo Club. This record in turn brought them to the attention of John Peel, who brought them in to do a session in 1994. They would go on to record 4 Peel Sessions in total, as well as appearing on the Evening Session for Steve Lamacq.

Over the years they released three albums: We Are Urusei Yatsura (1996), Slain By Urusei Yatsura (1998) and Everybody Loves Urusei Yatsura (2000). Albums in America and Japan were released under the name of Yatsura for legal reasons. There were also around a dozen commercially available singles, mostly on Che, a London-based indie label. Urusei Yatsura split in June 2001, but three of the members would resurface in 2009 as Project A-Ko with a really good collection of tunes on the album Yoyodyne.

You’ll hear for yourself, but the best (lazy) comparisons for Urusei Yatsura are Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. As someone else has said elsewhere on t’internet, the sonic attacks of their songs were like three-minute bolts of lightning, and likewise, their debut album, snapped and crackled in a time where everything Brit-popped.

Here’s your ICA.  I’ve taken the liberty of expanding it to 12 tracks as most of the songs are around the three-minute mark and the normal 10 songs would have been a bit skimpy.

Side A

1. Siamese (single, 1995)

The debut 45 for Che records, an edited version of which would be the opening track on the debut album released the following year. The lyrics set out something of a band manifesto, with the cry of ‘Fuck the system, fuck the system” being followed by the chorus of “Burning down, burning down your soul, we are Yatsura” over a tune that belts along at excessive speed and with intense energy. Oh and then there’s the kicker of the final verse

Modern jet-set pop underground
No more media corporate kowtow
Water pistols taste like plastic
Teenage nightmare hippy children
Take a stand, make a plan
Form a gang, a lo-fi band

Simply thrilling, honeys.

2. Hello Tiger (single, 1998)

The closest the band ever got to commercial success came with this blistering piece of pop, reaching #40 in the singles chart in February 1998. If only the Top of The Pop producers had seen fit to have them on the show that week, who knows what would have happened if the band had been able to reach out to an audience beyond the Evening Session and John Peel?

3. Strategic Hamlets (single, 1997)

The single was released in February 1997, later also appearing as the third track on the 1998 album Slain by Urusei Yatsura, following directly on from Hello Tiger. It’s always been one of my favourite one-two punches on any of the albums I have sitting on the shelves or in the cupboard, and it just makes perfect sense to have the ICA do likewise.

Surely the catchiest anti-war song ever written? You’ll be singing the na-na-na bits to yourself all day long once you’ve heard it….and surely I’m not alone in thinking this would make a great alternative piece of background music for the famous scene in Apocalypse Now where the helicopters attack the defenseless villagers?

4. Louche 33 (single and from Everybody Loves Urusei Yatsura, 2000)

The final album sees the guitars toned down very slightly and the vocals/harmonies brought more to the fore. I’ll be honest, when I first heard this, I was sure that Pavement were back recording again, as Fergus Lawrie certainly seems to be channeling his inner Stephen Malkmus, not to mention some great backing vocals and guitar work.  Or maybe it’s just me…….

5. Nobody Knows We’re Stars (from the Yon Kyoku Iri EP, 1999)

It’s worth mentioning at this juncture that the band were with Che from 1993-1998, before releasing Yon Kyoku, a one-off EP in 1999 for Beggars Banquet, with the final album and two singles coming out on Oni Records, which might well have been their own label as I can’t find anyone else having anything released via that imprint. The melancholic title of this track has an equally melancholic tune to match. Urusei Yatsura were not one-trick ponies.

6. Kernel (single, 1995)

Having opened this ICA with the debut Che single, I’m closing it off with its wonderfully low-fi follow-up that would be later re-recorded in a slightly beefier form for the debut album the following year. It’s chorus of “I don’t wanna be like everyone, I don’t wanna be like anyone” is one that the Manchester racist surely wishes he had come with back in his heyday.

Side B

1. Glo Starz (form Slain by Urusei Yatsura, 1998)

The opening track on the album, whose initial notes via the drumkit always make me think I’m about to hear Fun Boy Three‘s take on Our Lips Are Sealed; but just as I anticipate the synthetic strings, there’s this violent burst of guitars which put a smile on my face as I realise I’ve been caught out again…and then there’s a riff that Thurston Moore would be incredibly proud of. The use of the phrase ‘so shut the fuck up’ is surely the only reason that this wasn’t released as a single.

2. Phasers on Stun (single, 1996)

Released as a single in August 1996, having first been heard on We Are Urusei Yatsura where it segued straight into another song called Sola Kola. The edited version is another great burst of energy, packing loads into its two-minute duration.

3. Eastern Youth (from Everybody Loves Urusei Yatsura, 2000)

A change of tempo and feel with a song that I only knew from the final album but have since learned, from researching a bit to knit together the words to accompany the ICA, that it was the band’s final single in March 2001 just before they called it a day.

4. Kewpies Like Watermelons (single, 1996)

Offered here is the version issued as a 7″ single in April 1996. The opening couple of seconds, which sound as if they have been sampled from an arcade game, or perhaps more likely from one of the episodes of the popular manga TV series after which the band had taken its name weren’t included on the LP version when it came out the following month. Click here if, like me, you had no idea what a kewpie is……

5. Fake Fur (single, June 1997)

I make no apologies whatsoever for the number of singles which have made the cut for the ICA. The band and Che records must have been shaking their heads in disbelief as one tremendous release after another failed to have the impact it should have. This one stalled at #58.

6. Thank You (from Everybody Loves Urusei Yatsura, 2000)

“This is the last song, This is the last song I will ever sing you”

The only way this ICA could ever possibly close. The title of this song and indeed the album maybe give you an indication of how the band members were ollectively tired of working their backsides off for next to no reward. In a parallel universe, they are superstars who sell out stadia year after year after year.

BONUS EP

I finished this up and realised that, even with it being extended to 12 tracks, there were loads that should’ve but didn’t make the cut. I was also determined to give the near-hit a second airing.

A. Hello Tiger (Peel Session)

The single was released on 7″ vinyl as well as 2xCDs, one of which offered up three tracks from a John Peel session, broadcast on 14 August 1997.

B. Silver Krest (one side of a double single with The Delgados, 1996)

It’s no real surprise to find that the band had their followers in Japan. This was first recorded and released in October 1996 as one side of a double-single 7″ (on red vinyl) with The Delgados as part of the Stolen Ecstasy series on the Tokyo-based 100 Guitar Mania Records. It was later re-recorded and issued as the b-side to Fake Fur the following year.

C. Plastic Ashtray (single, 1996)

Another of the classic early singles. There were four in all – Siamese, Kernel, and Kewpies Like Watermelon made the ICA and it would have been criminal not to share this with you. All of them, or versions of them can be found on the debut album We Are Urusei Yatsura.

D. No.1 Cheesecake (from Slain by Urusei Yatsura)

Where other groups will demand that you put your hands in the air and move to the music, our heroes make the request that you dance to the cheesecake. And why wouldn’t you??

JC

AND MY NEXT GUEST IS…

Jonny‘s recent ICA on Sideshows was very timely as it dovetails nicely with a piece that I had written up, just looking for the right time to post.

Gorillaz is one of the many sideshow collaborations involving Damon Albarn. I knew that I hadn’t kept fully up to speed with everything that the virtual band has released over the years, but I was surprised to find that it’s now ten years since I last bought any of their music.

Plastic Beach was the group’s third album, following on from the excellent self-titled debut in 2001 and the 2005 follow-up, Demon Days. It’s an album that leaned very heavily on guest appearances, with no less than ten of its sixteen tracks featuring another well-known name from the worlds of pop, rock, rap and soul music. It’s an album that really did some getting used to as it was different in tone, texture and flow from its predecessors. Even now, it’s one that I really need to be in the right sort of frame and mindset to give it a listen as it demands a degree of undivided attention – for instance, I’ve never been able to sit and listen to it all the way through while travelling on a bus or train; it sort of feels as if the i=pod is on shuffle such is the coming and going of lead singers and the ever-changing genres across the tracks. It’s also a concept album, of sorts, which itself always demand as a level of concentration and buy-in than most.

Looking back at the reviews of the day, there was clearly a lot of love among the critics for the album, welcoming its ambition, diversity and the fact that Albarn & co. weren’t resting on their laurels. There was a divided opinion on whether or not all of the guest contributions worked, but it’s also interesting to note that where there is criticism of the way that say, Snoop Dogg or Lou Reed have contributed, there’s another opinion in another publication which says these are among the best bits of the album.

My favourite moment on comes on track six, when Gruff Rhys and De La Soul combine superbly, surely I’m not alone in wishing they had collaborated previously on a Super Furry Animals album?

mp3: Gorillaz – Superfast Jellyfish (with De La Soul and Gruff Rhys)

Here’s a few more of the guest appearances

mp3: Gorillaz – Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach (with Snoop Dogg)
mp3: Gorillaz – Stylo (with Mos Def featuring Bobby Womack)
mp3: Gorillaz – Some Kind of Nature (featuring Lou Reed)

The guests who I haven’t fetured today include The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Kano, Bashy, Little Dragon, Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, sinfonia ViVA and the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music. Feel more than free to go check them out in the usual places….

JC

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Six : EVER FALLEN IN LOVE…

One of the greatest pop-punk records of all time was written in Edinburgh…..

In November 1977, Buzzcocks were touring the UK. Before a gig at the Clouds (also known as the Cavendish Ballroom) in Edinburgh, they stayed the night. Pete Shelley later recalled:

“We were in the Blenheim Guest House with pints of beer, sitting in the TV room half-watching Guys and Dolls. One of the characters, Adelaide, is saying to Marlon Brando’s character, ‘Wait till you fall in love with someone you shouldn’t have.’ “I thought, ‘fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have?’ Hmm, that’s good.”

The following day he wrote the lyrics of the song, in a van outside the main post office on nearby Waterloo Place. The music followed soon after.

One of Pete Shelley’s greatest attributes as a songwriter was the ability to write about situations that could be taken by every listener as being completely applicable to their own lives. There can’t be any of us out there who could give the answer of ‘No’ to the question. It particularly appealed to my teenage sensations, when the girl(s) of my dreams were way out of my league, preferring the company of those a couple years older or those who weren’t total bookworms. It didn’t help that my tastes in music weren’t universal…..

But as the years have passed and relationships have come and gone, it’s very clear the song can apply at any time in your life and needn’t be about unrequited adolescent relationships that lead to severe bouts of self-pity. It’s also got a tune that is instantly recognisable.

I bought this back in the day in 1978 on 7″ vinyl, the only format it was issued in. I lost it a long ago and have never managed to replace it with a good enough copy without hisses, crackles and the occasional jump….very few of us took good enough care of the single. But, just a few weeks ago, while browsing in a shop in Glasgow, I found a near-mint first-edition copy of Love Bites, (complete with artwork insert) and from that LP, I can offer up both the single and its almost equally-marvellous b-side.

mp3: Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?)
mp3: Buzzcocks – Just Lust

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 19)

(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville has long been one of my favourites of all the R.E.M. songs, partly as I think they were a band who sounded particularly good when they turned their hands to mid-tempo rock music.  By rights, Man On The Moon should be up there as another favourite, but I’m sorry to say that this is one where the over-exposure kicks in, both from the time it was released as the second single from Automatic For The People in November 1992 and then some seven and-a-bit years later when the Andy Kaufman movie biopic was released (an event either myself or Robster will turn to later in this series). But the real kicker came when a version was released in 2005…..which I’ll reflect on at the end of this posting.

In saying all that, it was a song I felt was a highlight on first hearing the album, a real earworm with its incessantly catchy chorus and its verses with the constant use of “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”.  Oh, and the promo video is a fantastic piece of film making, albeit it is a bit too literal in places.

I think, at this juncture, it is worth handing over to Mike Mills and an interview he gave to the online NME in November 2017 to mark the 25th Anniversary of the release of the single in which he revealed how a demo called ‘C To D Slide’ nearly remained as an instrumental – until the inspiration of Andy Kauffman and conspiracy theories.

“Bill Berry is still a very a good songwriter. He had a lot of musical ideas, then he and Peter fleshed the rest of it out musically. It was a song that me, Pete and Bill really loved and had musically finished right up to the last day of recording and mixing in Seattle, and we’d been leaning on Michael very heavily for some time trying to finish it. He was like ‘oh, it’s an instrumental’ and we were like ‘it is not an instrumental – you need to finish it because it’s a story that needs to be told. Whatever that story is, you need to tell it’.”

“So Michael worked very hard towards the end and came up with this beautiful lyric that encompasses doubt, belief, transition, conspiracy and truth. Then at the very end of the last day Michael came back and said ‘I’ve got something’. He sang it, we loved it, we put the harmony vocals on it and it was done.

“Andy Kauffman was a performance artist. He wasn’t a comedian, he wasn’t a comic, he was a performance artist. Some of what he did was funny, some of it was annoying, some it was irritating – but it was always provocative. As such, as someone that you couldn’t really pin down in terms of what he was and what he was not. Was he dead? Was he faking?

“He’s the perfect ghost to lead you through this tour of questioning things. Did the moon landing really happen? Is Elvis really dead? He was kind of an ephemeral figure at that point so he was the perfect guy to tie all this stuff together as you journey through childhood and touchstones of life.”

It’s a song that has been written and talked about like no other in the whole REM canon. I think there’s a keyword in all that Mills said and that is ‘transition’. Stipe was now in his early 30s, held up by many, in the American music press in particular, as the most important lyricist of his time and this was his very conscious effort to compose something which acknowledged his days of carefree youth were behind him but while he was prepared to move on, there remained a number of unanswered questions in his head.

Or maybe it should just be taken at face value, with Stipe was simply wanting to pay homage to someone who had given him an enormous amount of pleasure and entertainment as he was growing up.

The Robster has previously pointed out that a single, to qualify for the charts back in 1992, was restricted to a maximum of four formats. There was a 7″ single which offered up an edited version of the album version – its some 33 seconds shorter and the difference comes after the four-minute mark with a few instrumental bars removed:-

mp3: R.E.M. – Man On The Moon (single version)

As with Drive, the 7″ and cassette versions went with a b-side taken from Green, with the CD offering up a cover version

mp3: R.E.M. – Turn You Inside Out
mp3: R.E.M. – Arms Of Love

It’s almost as if Warner Bros. was apologising belatedly for the singles taken from Green by putting some of its better songs as b-sides. The cover in this instance is a Robyn Hitchcock song, a long-time friend of the band who had been part of the line-up at the legendary Borderline Club shows in London in March 1991.

I’m willing to be corrected on this, but from what I can gather from looking things up on t’internet, Robyn Hitchcock didn’t release his own version of Arms of Love until its appeared on the Respect album, which came out in February 1993, a few months after Man On the Moon had been issued as a single. I’m not familiar with the song other than the R.E.M. take which itself is a more than passable acoustic number with a very light production.

The second CD, which again was marketed as the ‘Collectors Edition’, offered up the album version of Man On The Moon along with the cover of Arms of Love, and two ‘Non-LP’ tracks:-

mp3: R.E.M. – Fruity Organ
mp3: R.E.M. – New Orleans Instrumental #2

The former is an instrumental based, you won’t be surprised on a tune played on an electronic organ….one which very early on seems to rip off Hello, I Love You by The Doors before becoming the sort of thing that sounds as if the three musicians in the band were trying to work up something that might have just catch the ear of their lyricist to work his own brand of magic on it. It’s a real oddity among loads of other oddities that have appeared as b-sides over the years – it truly was one for the collectors/completists only.

New Orleans Instrumental #1 made it onto Automatic For The People. The only thing this b-side has in common with the album cut is that it is also an instrumental number written while the band was in the Kingsway Studios in New Orleans in late-February to mid-March 1992 (a session that also saw the earliest work on Drive). It is another totally forgettable effort and the fact it was included as a b-side to what was just the second single from the new album shows how little material was still out there unused.

Finally…..one of the main reasons I find it hard to enjoy Man on the Moon stems from its inclusion on a free CD given away with a particularly loathsome UK tabloid newspaper in July 2005. The CD was issued on the day when the UK was hosting the G8 summit, at Gleneagles, a five-star hotel resort about an hour or so north of Glasgow as part of that paper’s call to ‘Make Poverty History’. I could go on for pages and pages about the irony of such a wretched paper latching on to a people-driven campaign but given it is the biggest selling paper in the country, it’s no surprise that the multinational major record labels were happy to have some of their biggest acts offer up a song, but R.E.M. was by far the biggest name. A live version of Man on The Moon was put forward, recorded in 2004 at a gig in London aimed at raising funds for Oxfam, an occasion when they are, in due course, joined on stage by Chris Martin of Coldplay. You can probably work out just where by the way the crowd goes wild……

mp3: R.E.M (feat. Chris Martin) – Man On The Moon (live)

Once heard, you’ll never forget it. And it’ll put you off the original forever. You’ve been warned.

Apologies for the lengthy nature of this week’s effort.  The series will take a one-week break as there’s a special ICA lined up for next Sunday, after which myself and the Robster will offer up another dual-pronged offering on R.E.M.’s 20th UK single.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #233: P.V.C.2

P.V.C.2 was a Glasgow-based punk band who emerged from the ashes of one-time promising teenybop band Slik who had been seen by many as the next Bay City Rollers.

There had been a #1 single in 1975 but the eponymous debut album the following year sunk without trace. The core of Slik – Midge Ure (vocals, guitar), Kenny Hyslop (drums) and Billy McIsaac (keyboards) – hooked up with Russell Webb (bass) and jumped upon the punk bandwagon, releasing a three-track EP on Zoom Records in August 1977, with the lead track being a Ure/McIssac joint composition:-

mp3: P.V.C.2 – Put You In The Picture

Within a few weeks, Ure had upped sticks for London, to join The Rich Kids, the new band formed by ex-Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock.

Put You In The Picture went with him and became part of the live set of his latest band, eventually being re-recorded to appear on the album, Ghosts of Princes In Towers.

Ure’s departure led to the other members of P.V.C. 2 to bring in Willie Gardner as the replacement and re-naming themselves as Zones, a story that will be told in more depth when this series reached the latter Z.

Let’s be honest. Put You In The Picture might be a tad punk-by-numbers, with more than a nod to the sort of sounds that were being made by The Stranglers, but it’s not a bad listen. It’s hard to believe that it’s Midge Ure on lead vocals mind you…..

This song comes to you courtesy of its inclusion in the Big Gold Dreams 5xCD boxset.  I can’t ever recall hearing it prior to then.

JC

THE BIG HITS…..30 YEARS ON (10)

Thankfully, it was just a four-week month and I’m not going to spare you by keeping to a minimum the mentions of the dross which occupied the top-end of the charts In October 1990, although I have shared at least one shocker of a song at the outset.

Maria McKee spent the first two weeks at #1 with Show Me Heaven, and when it finally dropped down to #2, it was replaced by A Little Time by The Beautiful South, a track which was highlighted last time out in this series. It only managed a one-week stay before it was replaced by The Righteous Brothers with Unchained Melody, a song that had been a hit for them in 1965 but was now being flogged again to the public thanks to its use in the romantic-drama/weepy movie, Ghost.

So, what and who made the breakthrough in the rundown on 7 October?

The highest new entries belonged to New Kids on The Block and Cliff Richard, with the goths then propelling one of their own to a position of #21

More – The Sisters of Mercy

There were many who had long thought The Sisters of Mercy bordered on being overblown, bombastic rock-pomp, and perhaps such concerns were confirmed by the fact that their first offering of the new decade was co-written with Jim Steinmann of Meat Loaf fame.  It filled me with horror reading about the collaboration and it proved to be an all-out assault on the ears.

Slightly further down the charts came the crusties, although, once again, it was an evolving change of sound that was making them increasingly popular

Dance Of The Mad – Pop Will Eat Itself (#32)

I really don’t want to waste time even mentioning any of the others, other than in passing to say that another song from the film Top Gun was shaping up to take over from Maria McKee at the top in due course, while Shakin Stevens achieved his 34th successive Top 75 hit when My Cutie Cutie entered at #75. It proved to be his last non-Xmas themed or re-released hit single, but he’d made a good fist of things in the 80s, spending more than 300 weeks in the charts…which, if you do the math, is the equivalent of six years back-to-back.

14 October 1990.   I’ll mention in passing that the Mancunian Racist saw his Piccadilly Palare enter at #21, the second-highest new entry behind Whitney Houston‘s new effort, I’m Your Baby Tonite.

Of much more interest was the new entry at #20:-

Kinky Afro – The Happy Mondays

The second 45 to be lifted from Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches is arguably the band’s finest ever songs and it would climb to #5 the following week and thus match the showing of Step On; these proved to be the only Top 5 hits the Mondays would enjoy, as little did we know that things were already beginning to unravel.

Another gobby bastard enjoyed a new entry slightly further down the chart:-

Don’t Ask Me – Public Image Limited

The band’s seventh single to crack the Top 40, indicating that PiL were more than a cult act and did resonate occasionally with the great British public.  I don’t think anyone back in 1990 would have imagined that in later years Shaun Ryder and John Lydon would both end up as some of the most popular participants in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here…….

A lovely slice of dreamy-pop sold enough copies to make it in at #61, and then climbing to #50 the following week:-

We Let The Stars Go Free – Prefab Sprout

Moving on to 21 October.

This was the week The Righteous Brothers began their assault on the charts with a #3 entry the week before it hit the top.  The next five highest new-entries all entered in the 30s…and were courtesy of Roxette, George Michael, Jason Donovan, Poison, and Janet Jackson.  It was a far from vintage week, but if you’ve been following things since the series got underway, it was pretty typical of much of the entire year.

Some dance stuff came in at #41

Aftermath – Nightmares on Wax

This was the first and, as it turned out, only hit single for Nightmares on Wax, the name adopted by a 20-year old Leeds-based DJ, George Evelyn, who would prove to be one of the mainstays of the Ibiza sound throughout the 90s and into the current century.  He’s still going strong today.

The indie-kids and crustys (again) also had something to celebrate this week

Sweetness and Light – Lush (#47)
Until You Find Out – Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (#51)

A new, much-talked-about act from the south-east of England made their first chart appearance in the week of 21 October:-

She’s So High – Blur (#58)

This was the first of what has proved to be 150 weeks in the Top 75 for Blur, which has been achieved with 28 singles. It’s fairly impressive, but let’s face it, it’s not fairly lame when compared with ole’ Shaky.

Finally, here’s some stuff from the singles chart of 28 October.

The title of the highest new entry really could have, and perhaps should have, been the sub-heading for this series

Step Back In Time – Kylie Minogue (#9)

From the days when she wasn’t quite yet the superstar who could be recognised from just her forename. This was the pop princess’s 11th single and it would climb to #4, which was a relative flop given that nine of the previous releases had either been #1 or #2.  The critics began to write her off, the fools that they were!

Slightly further down the charts as a new entry was this:-

Don’t Worry – Kim Appleby (#16)

Don’t Worry was the debut solo single from Kim Appleby just a few months after the sad death of her sister Mel Appleby at the age of 23 after contracting pneumonia while being treated for a rare form of cancer. Mel and Kim had taken the UK charts by storm at the end of the 80s, being part of the hit-making factory that was Stock/Aitken/Waterman, with the poptastic Respectable reaching #1 in 1987. Kim Appleby’s solo career never really quite took off and she later stepped back from recording in the mid-90s, choosing instead to concentrate on writing pop hits for others, which she has done with a reasonable degree of success.

Just one place ahead of Kim in the charts as a new entry this week was a remix of an old favourite of many of us

Close To Me (1990) – The Cure

The new version of the song that had been a hit single in 1985 was there to assist with the release and promotion of Mixed Up, a new compilation of singles and popular songs from the back catalogue that had been given the remix treatment. Worth noting that the remix eventually reached #13 which was eleven places higher than the original had achieved five years earlier.

One of Factory Records hopes for the future sneaked into the single charts this week, with a song that had a misplaced optimistic title:-

My Rising Star – Northside (#33)

The band that so many of the bands from the north-west had been citing as an influence saw them finally making a dent in the public imagination, thanks to a Steve Lillywhite remix of their best-known song:-

There She Goes (1990) – The La’s

In due course, it would make it all the way up to #13, but it remains the only time The La’s got any higher than #43 in the UK singles chart.  Make of that what you will……..

Finally this week, some more songs of interest, and occasional excellence, which stumbled their way into the charts at the lower end of the spectrum in late October 1990, but for the one coming in at #55, it was the beginning of a 13-week stay that would culminate in a top 3 position in early December:-

Can’t Do Nuttin For Ya Man – Public Enemy (#53)
Unbelievable – EMF (#55)
Purity – New Model Army (#61)
Scope – Paris Angels (#75)

I’ll be back again in around four weeks time with a look at the November 1990 charts.

JC
(aged 57 years and 4 months)

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #266 : SIDESHOWS

A GUEST POSTING by JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

So there I was, minding my own business and thinking about bands, when I accidentally fell down the rabbit hole of band members who had side projects. I began listing the ones I liked and realized there are more than enough for a quality ICA–one with some old favorites, hidden gems, and hopefully a song or two no one’s heard before. Of course, it was necessary to impose stiff restrictions: this comp only includes musical projects separate and apart from the musician(s)’s main gig. No prior or subsequent or solo outings. That helped get the numbers down.

I also eliminated some acts because, while they meet the criteria, the music isn’t all that great. For example, two different side projects from Siouxsie & the Banshees fit the bill (The Creatures and The Glove), but those acts just aren’t that listenable. Same thinking behind leaving off The Power Station even though they were extremely eligible. You get the idea.

1. KLARK KENT – Don’t Care.

Klark Kent was the mostly disguised alter ego of Stewart Copeland from The Police. He released an LP of snarky but catchy power-pop before the Cops found megastardom. ‘Don’t Care’ is quintessential new wave, a rockin’ little record I want my jockey to play. Pretty sure Copeland played all the instruments, too.

2. GORILLAZ – Clint Eastwood.

Blur‘s Damon Albarn could have supplied half the tunes on this compilation. In addition to the “virtual band” Gorillaz, he recorded as or with The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Rocket Juice and the Moon, Africa Express, the Heavy Seas, and numerous other solo and collaborative projects outside of his day job. But I really like him as 2-D.

3. EAGLES OF DEATH METAL – Wannabe in L.A.

Like Albarn, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme get around. He’s collaborated with countless acts, notably Them Crooked Vultures with the likes of Dave Grohl and Led Zep icon John Paul Jones. With EoDM he just plays drums, but the band are a blast and this is my favorite song of theirs, from 2008’s Heart On.

4. LOOSE FUR – The Ruling Class.

The good-natured voice of Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy is instantly recognizable, but this is a true side project that only features Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and Chicago indie legend Jim O’Rourke. This is from their second and, to date, last record Born Again in the USA. That LP was released in 2006. Not sure if there’s anything else forthcoming from Loose Fur.

5. BROKEN BELLS – The High Road.

In which James Mercer, the brains behind The Shins, meets up with Danger Mouse. Like Tweedy (and Albarn), Mercer is instantly recognizable on the mic, but the heavy-duty string section is a departure from his band’s arrangements.

6. TOM TOM CLUB – Genius of Love.

David Byrne got all the attention from Talking Heads because he wrote the lyrics and fronted the band. And was generally a creative genius. But the loveable husband and wife rhythm section Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth had a massive club hit with this number. Still sounds great today almost 40 years later, with the Sweetbreaths (Weymouth’s sisters) on backing vocals.

7. THE SPECIAL GOODNESS – Life Goes By.

Weezer is pretty much all about singer/songwriter/guitarist Rivers Cuomo. But the band was co-founded by drummer Patrick Wilson, who’s been there from the very beginning. Wilson isn’t what you’d call a household name and neither is his band The Special Goodness, with whom he’s released four albums so far. This is from 2003’s Land Air Sea.

8. HINDU LOVE GODS – Raspberry Beret.

It’s Warren Zevon with REM‘s Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills, playing a Prince cover. They only released a self-titled LP back in 1990, and a couple of singles including this one.

9. RACONTEURS – Steady, As She Goes.

Even though The White Stripes were flying high in the mid-00’s, winning Grammys for 2003’s Elephant and 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan, Jack White still had things to say. So he connected with Detroit stalwart Brendan Benson (who’s arguably a better songwriter than White) to form Raconteurs, with members of Cincinnati’s Greenhorns. This was the band’s first single and hit.

10. ELECTRONIC – Getting Away With It.

Although Johnny Marr was a free agent in 1989, Bernard Sumner was still throbbing along with New Order. When putting this post together I was surprised to learn that Electronic released three albums. Don’t know if their catalog is any good, but this song’s a winner. (especially, here in its extended from – JC).

BONUS?: Up to you guys and gals. Plenty of bands out there could have been featured; Atoms for Peace, Last Shadow Puppets, Divine Fits, Monsters of Folk among them. I like my 10, but I’m sure I missed a load of songs that I’d like to know about.

JONNY

BURNING BADGERS VINYL (Part 4) : PROLAPSE

Burning Badgers Vinyl 4: Lost Albums 1 – The Italian Flag – Prolapse (1997) (Radar Records)

by SWC

A few pieces ago I mentioned that I once lived with a chap called Irish Mike, who wasn’t actually Irish. Well, here’s why… he was called Irish Mike because he once dated an Irish lass called Orla and went all the way to Ireland to see her one Easter and she dumped him in the bar of her local which was somewhere in the middle of the Dingle Peninsula, about six miles from civilisation and a hundred miles from the ferry port in Dublin. So Mike sits there wondering what to do, he had nowhere to stay and no way of getting back to the ferry port from whence he came. A bloke walks into the bar, who was a little worse for wear, it turns out he’d just won the Irish Lottery, couple of million punts apparently.

Chappie buys drinks for everyone all night and at the end of the evening, gives Mike his car, which was a two-year-old Opal, which Mike, sleeps in that night and then at ten am the next morning drives to the ferry port, extremely hungover (and probably still very over the limit, kids) and was still driving it around in when I knew him. When Mike retold this story in a smoke filled room one miserable November evening, he became forever Irish Mike.

All of which fun and games brings us to this weeks record from Badger Box.

There are a bunch of albums in Badger’s box. I have selected five in particular that I am going to call ‘Lost Albums’ not because they are particular rare or uncommon but because you hardly ever read about them these days.

Number one in this series is The Italian Flag the third and finest album from Leicester’s dual singing, art-rock champions Prolapse.

I thought at first that Badger had somehow managed to get his hand on an Italian version of this album. It is adorned with a sticker that reads ‘Edizione Limitata’, then I realised it was something to do with the title of the record. It’s a lovely thing, this record though, double vinyl, flashy cover, lyrics inside that separate the boy vocals and the girl vocals, brilliant glossy vinyl that actually shines when you play it. It’s marvellous. Again I had no idea that Badger was a fan of the band. Man, I would have loved to gone and seen Prolapse live with Badger.

I saw Prolapse live a couple or three times back in the day, they were shambolic and unpredictable, I loved the way that their male singer, “Scottish Mick” kind of lumbered and raved away, on one side of the stage in a thick (and, often for my fey English ears at least, impenetrable) Scottish accent (I’m one of those idiots who appreciated the subtitles in Trainspotting). Whilst over on the over side, female singer Linda Steelyard stood quite still and sang in this beautiful sweet very English lilt. The pair of them almost trading blows as the bassline rumbled like all good basslines should and the guitars thrashed away majestically.

‘The Italian Flag’ was released back in 1997 on Radar Records and it was probably as close as Prolapse got to breaking through. This was largely due to the pure pop brilliance of the single Autocade which very nearly pushed the band into the Top 40 if memory serves me right (yup, I know what I did there).

mp3: Prolapse – Autocade

But its not just ‘Autocade’, the first four tracks (or side one of the double vinyl) is pretty much flawless, as good a first four tracks on a record that I can think of right now.

mp3 : Prolapse – Slash/Oblique

This is a startling track and perfectly illustrates my earlier claim about Scottish Mick ranting and raving – the way he shouts ‘Alberquerque, Mercatata’ (or whatever it is he shouts) is one of rock’s truly menacing moments.

mp3: Prolapse – Deanshanger

Which probably should have been a massive hit, and probably didn’t get the airplay it needed, largely due to Scottish Mick telling everyone that something, hair, music, clothes, everything ‘was crap’. It is infectiously brilliant, even if it is the sound a middle-aged crisis unfurling on a record right in front of your ears.

mp3: Prolapse – Cacophony No A

If the first two tracks on ‘The Italian Flag’ are angry, shouting ripostes to life and all its problems, Cacophony No A  is almost the complete opposite. Where, Linda Steelyard sounds almost angelic, like an Enya it is ok to like. If that is even possible.

mp3: Prolapse – Killing The Bland

Side A finishes with the single Killing The Bland which was the lead single for the album and was my first introduction to the ban – although I have a 12” in my collection by Prolapse of a single called Flexed that I have no idea where it came from but it predates ‘The Italian Flag’ and which would have been released in my final year as a student. I also seem to remember Drew Barrymore raving about this song in some magazine somewhere.

SWC

JC adds…..

It is indeed the first time Prolapse have featured on this blog…a band that have been recommended to me by a few folk over the years, none more so than Hammy, a very good friend of both myself and Strangeways, but the name has always put me off!! It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, and I’ve now picked up a second-hand copy of The Italian Flag.

SOME GO-BETWEENS TUNES WITH ADDED STRINGS

Week-End is an annual music festival, first held in the German city of Cologne in November 2011. The third edition of the festival, on 11-13 December 2013 attracted a great line-up including Young Marble Giants, The Fall, Grant Hart, and The Pastels.

Robert Forster also performed over that weekend, linking up with the composer and arranger Jherek Bischoff for a unique concert consisting of Go-Betweens songs as performed by a string quartet. Prior to the show, and after a great deal of rehearsing, a number of the songs were recorded in the studio, two of which were subsequently released in 2017 on a 7″ single by Slowboy Records, an independent label based in Dusseldorf.

The credits on the back of the single reveal that Jherek Bischoff, as well as arranging the songs in question, also played bass while a backing vocalist was added to the first of the tracks.

Robert Forster: Guitar, Vox
Jherek Bischoff: Bass, Percussion
Mike Donovan: Backing Vox
Lola Rubin: Violin
Kalliopi Mitropoulou: Violin
Elisa Becker-Voss: Viola
Ruben Palma: Cello

The track to which the backing vocal was added dates from the very early days of the band. Indeed it was just their second-ever single, released in 1979 in Australia on the Able Label and written solely by Robert Forster. The flip side of this delightful and unusual 45, was from much later on, taken from the album Bright Yellow Bright Orange, released on the Melbourne-based Trifekta Records in 2003.

I had no idea that the single was in existence until I saw it while doing some on-line browsing of a record store in Stockholm, Sweden (as you do!!!). It was quickly ordered and arrived safe and sound a few weeks ago, purchased without ever being heard in advance….and as I said, it proved to be quite delightful.

mp3: Robert Forster w/ Jherek Bischoff & String Quartet – People Say
mp3: Robert Forster w/ Jherek Bischoff & String Quartet – In Her Diary

This is exactly why music blogs remain essential in the spotify/streaming age.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 18)

R.E.M. had finally hit the so-called big time with Out Of Time, a largely acoustic album of love-inspired songs that showcased the band’s penchant for melody, harmony and intelligence. So how to follow it up? Why, release one of the most downbeat songs of the band’s career as the lead single to an album about death, of course!

mp3: R.E.M. – Drive

JC and I (and numerous commenters) have mentioned the bizarre habit of releasing the most unlikely or unrepresentative songs as singles that plagued R.E.M. throughout their career. I mean, even their debut single wasn’t the mix they wanted! When I heard Drive, the first taste of the band’s eighth studio album, I was horrified, yet at the same time, not entirely surprised. This was as dark and maudlin as the band had ever sounded. Yet, after a couple listens, it had grown on me hugely.

In spite of its rather gloomy nature, there’s something about Drive that is undeniably catchy. It may be no coincidence that it has been compared to David Essex’s Rock On – the line “Hey kids, rock ‘n’ roll” seems pretty blatant. The truth, however, is that the line was written as a homage to the song Stop It! by Pylon (them again); its entire lyric consists of repetitions of the linesDon’t rock ‘n’ roll, no” and “Hey kids!”

What might also come as a shock is producer Scott Litt’s revelation that Drive’s arrangement was heavily inspired by a band that both Mike Mills and Peter Buck were big fans of – Queen. Yep, THAT Queen. “Queen records, for all their bombast, sounded like each player had a personality,” Litt explained. So, Pylon, David Essex and Queen, then. All of a sudden, Drive becomes one of the most intriguing songs in the R.E.M. canon.

As for those lyrics, well according to Mills: “[it’s] just telling kids to take charge of their own lives. Among other things,” while Buck claimed: “It’s a subtle, political thing. Michael specifically mentions the term ‘bush-whacked’.” He also uses the word “baby” which I’ve always thought is a term you have to be careful of using if you want to be considered a serious songwriter. Maybe Stipe is using it in its more hipster way, where “baby” is everyone rather than the object of one’s affections. That would fit with the song, but I can’t be sure. That aside though, it’s Stipe’s delivery and the rhythm of his vocals that actually make Drive a bonafide pop song, even if it really doesn’t sound like it at first.

With hindsight, it’s easy to understand why Drive was the first choice of single. It certainly introduced the mood of Automatic For The People to audiences, though it remains a mystery why an album whose primary theme is death became one of the decade’s biggest-selling records and the one most people still associate R.E.M. with.

Drive was released in the UK on the 1st October 1992. It entered the charts at #11 in its first week, making it the band’s second-highest position. It dropped the following week and disappeared from the Top 40 altogether before the month was out. In truth most of the sales in that first week was probably due to the plethora of formats and fans like me wanting to own them all.

The 7” and cassette had World Leader Pretend from Green on the flip. Clearly the label was still trying to flog that album to new fans! The standard CD format added the Leonard Cohen cover First We Take Manhattan. This first appeared the previous year on the superb Cohen tribute album ‘I’m Your Fan’. It’s one of the best covers R.E.M. ever did, and arguably one of the best covers of a Leonard Cohen song by anybody (JC adds…..I’ll second that!!!)

For fans, however, the CD single was a tad disappointing as it didn’t contain anything we didn’t already have.

mp3: R.E.M. – World Leader Pretend
mp3: R.E.M. – First We Take Manhattan

The second (so-called “Collector’s Edition”) CD was heaps more interesting. As well as the title track and the Cohen cover were two unreleased songs. It’s A Free World Baby was a song recorded for ‘Out Of Time’, but cast aside. Peter Buck subsequently stated that he cannot understand why they decided not to include it (and Fretless, another song that will be discussed in due course) on ‘Out Of Time’. One theory is that its lyrics never really fit with the album’s overriding theme of love. It’s also a bit quirky in its structure, Mills’ bassline being the dominant instrument. It’s not unlike Belong in my opinion, especially when you get to the uplifting chorus. Maybe that’s why it didn’t get included – two similar songs and Belong was the better fit. Nonetheless, many fans feel this song shouldn’t have been relegated to b-side status, and its subsequent appearances on the soundtracks for Friends and Coneheads further added to our exasperation. And then there’s the use of “baby” again…

mp3: R.E.M. – It’s A Free World, Baby

To round it all off, the second CD also contained Winged Mammal Theme. Now this is one of those R.E.M. b-side instrumentals they often did, only unlike many of the others, this one does deserve at least one listen. It’s like the band is attempting to write their own theme for Batman – it even contains one member (not sure who) singing “Batman” in the background! It’s led by Mills on piano, and while it can’t be said to be any serious attempt at creating an album-worthy song, it’s passable and mildly amusing.

mp3: R.E.M – Winged Mammal Theme

Nerd corner: Finally, my research has revealed that Discogs lists a UK 12” of Drive. There are three reasons why I’m certain no such item exists:

1) I’d have it if it did, and I don’t!
2) I was working in Our Price at the time and made sure a copy of every format was reserved for me!
3) UK singles chart rules permitted a maximum of four formats per single release to be eligible for a placing. With the 7”, cassette and two CDs, a fifth format would have impacted on the chart position as one format would not have been counted.

I therefore conclude that the listed 12” – which purports to contain the same tracks as the standard CD single – was never released in the UK. However, a European release was made on 12”, and I reckon that’s where the confusion lies.

Robster

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #232: OWL JOHN

From Wiki:-

Owl John is the only album by Owl John, the solo musical project by Frightened Rabbit vocalist and guitarist Scott Hutchison. It was released on Atlantic Records on 4 August 2014 (perhaps coincidentally, the date also being International Owl Awareness Day since 2011).

The music for the album was written and recorded on the Isle of Mull, Scotland, in early 2014, with Hutchison working with Frightened Rabbit’s Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell. He then moved to Los Angeles, where the lyrics were written and recorded. Scottish musician Peter Kelly plays drums on the album, which was mastered by Mazen Murad.

A further two tracks were recorded for the project but not included on the album: the Christmas song “It Gets Cold”, released on Soundcloud under the artist name Christmas John, and “All I Want for Me Is You”, which features Ed Harcourt on piano.

Three music videos were released for songs from the album: “Los Angeles, Be Kind”, “Hate Music” and “Red Hand”. All were directed by Storme Whitby-Grubb and Charles Gibson.

In 2019, Coldplay sampled “Los Angeles, Be Kind” in its song “Champion of the World”.

mp3: Owl John – Los Angeles, Be Kind

RIP Scott. You’re much missed.

JC

THE LARGELY FORGOTTEN FOLLOW-UP TO THE BIG HIT

It’s a last-minute change of plan as Khayem‘s suggestion of having each of The Crucial Three feature on consecutive days is a sound one.

Pete Wylie has had fitful success in terms of his music selling to the masses with just fours singles cracking the Top 40.  Most folk, of an age, will recall Story Of The Blues (#3 in January 1983), Come Back (#20 in July 1984) and Sinful (#13 in June 1986.)   Only the die-hard followers would be aware of this:-

mp3: Wah! – Hope (I Wish You’d Believe Me)

It was the follow-up to Story of The Blues and reached #37 in April 1983.  It’s anthemic, albeit at a much slower pace than the big hit, not really ideal for radio play and this lack of exposure probably goes a long way to explaining why it has become so easily forgotten;  Pete would, however, later incorporate the ‘I Wish You’d Believe Me’ refrain into the lyric of Come Back.

Here’s the b-side of the 7″.  It’s another more than decent offering:-

mp3: Wah! – Sleep

I thought it would be worth concluding today’s offering with a couple of unusual tracks that our main man has been involved in:-

mp3: Big Hard Excellent Fish – Imperfect List (original uncensored version)

This had been written as a piece of spoken word/music as part of a 1989 show by the modern ballet dancer Michael Clark, later released as a single on One Little Indian Records in 1990. It sees Josie Jones, who had been part of Wah! in the 80s, divulge a list of 64 of things which anger, offend or just annoy her – the list was put together in collaboration with Pete Wylie and the track was produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins. It was later remixed by Andrew Weatherall but arguably its biggest exposure came in 2004 when the Manchester racist used it as the opening gambit to his live shows, nicely working up his audience into a fit of frenzy before he and his band took to the stage.

As for the other track, it also dates from 1990. The KLF (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty) were intending to pull together two pieces of work called The Black Room and The White Room – in the end, only the latter would be fully realised. The first part of the Black Room did, however, see light of day via a very limited release with a track credited to The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu:-

mp3: The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North (Club Mix)

It’s a very strange, but typical, offering from the JAMs. The lyric is simply a list of cities and towns located in the north of England read out over over a hard, pounding and noisy techno tune. The narrator is Pete Wylie.

After the KLF had enjoyed huge commercial success with The White Room, It’s Grim….would be re-recorded and re-released with a Bill Drummond vocal, reaching the Top 10 in November 1991.

Watch out for a posting on the KLF on these pages over the next few weeks.

JC

THAT’S THE DANCING HORSES ARRIVED…..

There’s something Pavlovian about Julian Cope posts that makes me immediately want to feature Echo & The Bunnymen.

I recently dug out my copy of Songs To Sing and Learn, the compilation album that was released in the UK in November 1985. It must be one of the finest two sides of vinyl ever pressed. The running order of side one is Rescue, The Puppet, Do It Clean, A Promise, The Back of Love, and The Cutter. Side Two has Never Stop, The Killing Moon, Silver, Seven Seas, and Bring on The Dancing Horses. There was also a bonus 7″ single included with Pictures On My Wall on the a-side, and Read It In Books on the b-side.

In other words, the album was all eleven singles in the order in which they had been released on Korona, with the 7″ being a replica of the debut single on Zoo Records.

I’ve always felt that Bring On The Dancing Horses has been the poor relation on the album given that it was recorded with the intention of being the new track to make it a more attractive purchase to fans. The strange thing is that the album was in the shops some three days before the 45 appeared in the shops, the result of which had something on an adverse impact on its sales. It was also the first new Bunnymen song in some 18 months, with the previous release being the imperious Ocean Rain LP, three of whose songs immediately preceded Dancing Horses on the compilation.

It also suffers from the fact that while it is a very good single, it doesn’t deliver anything like the punch or have the impact of the Ocean Rain material. It’s quite different from previous material in that the vocals are very much to the fore, to the extent that the overdubbing means Mac is doing backing vocals for Mac the lead vocalist, while the melody is centred around synths and strings rather than the guitar, bass and drums of Messrs Sargeant, Pattinson and de Freitas.

It did make it to #21 in the UK singles chart, which was probably a disappointment to all concerned. What I hadn’t realised until doing a bit of research for this post is that it was the band’s breakthrough, of sorts, in America, appearing on the soundtrack album to Pretty In Pink.

I’ve pulled out the 12″ version for your enjoyment today, one which extends out to almost six minutes and is some 100 seconds or so longer than the 7″ and album version:-

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses (extended mix)

The self-produced b-side on the 7″ was an absolute belter of a song, one which harked back to the earlier, rawer sound of the band:-

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Over Your Shoulder

The bonus track on the 12″ was even more of a great discovery:-

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Bedbugs and Ballyhoo

One that wouldn’t have been out of place on Ocean Rain and more than worthy of being a single in its own right, as turned out to be the case two years later when a re-recorded (but inferior version), was included on their eponymous fifth studio album, with this being the third single lifted from it

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Bedbugs and Ballyhoo (1987 version)

Nobody knew it at the time, but this would be the last original 45 released by the band’s classic line-up, with Pete de Freitas dying in a motorcycle accident two years later – Bedbugs was followed up later in the year with People Are Strange from the soundtrack to the movie, The Lost Boys.

JC

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #265 : JULIAN COPE (live)

A GUEST POSTING by KHAYEM

Julian Cope Live ICA: Born To Entertain

I won’t hesitate in saying that I have an unconditional love for Julian Cope and his music. I was too young to really be there at the beginning, but I have stuck by the Arch Drude through thick and thin, pop and political prog, and all the points in between. Hell, I still play the Queen Elizabeth CDs and enjoy them. When Strictly Rockers posted the first of his excellent ICAs way back in 2015, he touted further ICAs, Cope Remixed, Cope Covered and Cope Live. The first two made it to a follow-up post the same year and I looked forward to the latter. Five years later, I really had to scratch that itch so I’ve bravely or foolishly attempted one…

Like Strictly Rockers, I’ve seen more Julian Cope gigs and own more (physical) albums and singles than any other artist. One or two of these records were also bought in WH Smiths in Bristol, so I suspect SR and I may have been in the same crowd at the same gig on many occasions in Bristol and Bath over the years. Small world…

It all started for me with the My Nation Underground tour at the Bristol Colston Hall. My ticket is currently AWOL in the attic but, according to the internet, this was Saturday 22nd October 1988. The gig was particularly memorable for Cope’s leopard print blouse, his infamous climbing frame mike stand, and a rousing 12-minute version of Reynard The Fox, although on this occasion he thankfully chose not to slash open his stomach with a Stanley knife.

Instead, at one point, Julian Cope got down off the stage, made a beeline for me and pressed his sweat-beaded brow against my own as we both sang into the mike. He then departed and got straight back onto the stage and didn’t leave it again for the rest of the concert. I have no idea why he singled me out, and sadly I can’t even remember what the particular song was (!) but it left an impression that has never faded. I’ve since seen Cope in a variety of settings, with a full-band or acoustic solo, playing epic, nearly 3-hour concerts or reciting lyrics and poetry when laryngitis meant that he lost his singing voice partway through a gig. His memorable performance in a monkey half-mask and banana yellow kecks at the first Phoenix Festival in 1992 was the absolute highlight of that weekend. And, perhaps inevitably, Julian Cope at the Barbican, London in February 2020 turned out to be the last live show I saw before COVID-19 put us all into lockdown.

It’s an almost impossible task trying to compile a Julian Cope Live ICA, so I imposed some very strict rules to give myself a slight chance of success:

1) Stick to 10 songs only, no bonus EPs or alternative albums this time;
2) No cover versions, Teardrop Explodes, Brain Donor or other side projects;
3) No singles (although I had to make one exception);
4) No songs over 10 minutes (including between song banter/preamble/anecdotes);
5) Include at least one selection from gigs in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s

There are some glaring omissions: no Pristeen or Greatness And Perfection and nothing from Saint Julian, Droolian or Peggy Suicide, but I hope this selection gives a flavour of Julian Cope as a songwriter, raconteur and live performer. The title of this ICA is taken from a line in Las Vegas Basement (again, cruelly omitted from this selection). Julian Cope was undoubtedly “Born To Entertain”, so here I go…

SIDE ONE

1) Soul Desert (Live @ The Fleece Bristol, 09 Feb 2020) (bootleg recording)

The opening song on the epic Jehovahkill has also been a regular concert opener since and is perfectly suited to Cope’s latter day by-necessity solo acoustic gigs. This version is nearly twice the length of the original and stretches out the tension with a number of false build ups to the inevitable climax. For the real heads.

2) Bill Drummond Said (Live In Japan, 1991) (Live Japan ’91, 2004)

This jaunty ‘tribute’ to The Teardrops Explodes’ former manager appeared on a self-released live CD via Cope’s Head Heritage site. Given the quality of Cope’s performances, it’s a wonder that Island records didn’t release an official live album when Julian Cope was signed to the label. This is a fantastic album/concert and this full-band version is no exception, with a lovely ‘plink-plonk’ keyboard motif.

3) Don’t Take Roots (Live @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 30 Sep 1995) (Barrowlands, 2019)

A throwaway, dispensable track from 20 Mothers or an irresistibly groovy song? Probably a bit of both, to be honest, but I love this song. I saw the Propheteering tour at Bristol’s Anson Rooms the week before this version in Glasgow was recorded and it was an amazing, epic show. Thighpaulsandra’s only tour with Cope apparently, but all of the band are on fire here. The self-released CD condenses a 3-hour show into 70 minutes, is still available to buy on the Head Heritage site and I’d highly recommend it.

4) Autogeddon Blues (Live @ Moseley Folk Festival, Birmingham, 01 Sep 2012) (bootleg recording)

I’ll admit, I found Autogeddon a disappointment following Peggy Suicide and Jehovahkill, but time and distance has given me a greater appreciation for the album as a whole. Autogeddon Blues, along with Paranormal In The West Country, was the stand-out and has remained a live staple. Dedicated here to “Spaghetti Junction”, this live version includes a brief example of Cope’s way with an introduction, which have sometimes been known to be longer than the songs themselves.

5) Sunspots (Live @ The Ritz, New York, 28 Jan 1987) (bootleg recording)

Sunspots may possibly be my favourite Julian Cope song of all, Top 5 at least if I were inclined to make a list, and maybe the greatest hit that never was. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Cope gig where Sunspots wasn’t performed, but I will admit that the 21st Century acoustic versions are inevitably lacking something (and I don’t just mean the oboe). This full-band version is closer to what I would have experienced in Bristol back in 1988 and adds a whole new lyrical section. The car that Julian Cope was driving around with his very best friend in? A Karmann Ghia, of course.

SIDE TWO

6) Reynard The Fox (Live @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 30 Sep 1995) (Barrowlands, 2019)

A 12-minute “Live In Tokyo” version appeared as a B-side to 5 o’Clock World. This is more faithful to the original album version, though the constraints of stripped-down concerts mean that I haven’t heard the song performed for a long, long time. The core band – Mike “Moon-Eye” Mooney (guitar), Keith Richard Frost (bass) and Mark “Rooster” Cosby (drums) – had played with Cope for many years at this point and with Thighpaulsandra “at the controls” the song enters the rock cosmos at the end. Apologies that there is some distortion/crackle in this recording/my copy of the CD.

7) You Will Be Mist (Live @ BBC 6 Music Festival, Liverpool, 31 Mar 2019) (bootleg recording)

I didn’t see Julian Cope perform in 2019, so this may well have been the premiere and only live airing of the song that subsequently appeared on this year’s excellent Self Civil War. In this year’s tour, only 2 songs from Self Civil War were played in London, reduced to 1 song for the Bristol date, neither of which were this one. This is a shame as it’s a good song and perfectly suited to the minimal live set up. This was broadcast live on BBC6 with 2 other ‘classic’ songs and an interview with DJ/presenter Mark Radcliffe. Radcliffe briefly appears in the intro and presumably hits the wrong button about a minute in…

8) Robert Mitchum (Live @ The Globe Cardiff, 2011) (bootleg recording)

“Just a piece of fluff to a hero but the middle 8 is as anti-fucking-religion as you like”, as described in the intro. Robert Mitchum originally appeared on 1989’s Skellington, a ‘semi-official bootleg’ released in the wake of the overproduced My Nation Underground. It’s since become a Cope favourite and appears here in a delightful whistling-free, ‘ba-ba-ba’ singalong version. Whilst researching, I came across a contemporary review of the Cardiff gig in the South West Argus. The article has the unfortunate strapline “On the day Sir Jimmy Savile, God bless him, expired, the post-punk equivalent of the tracksuited treasure bedazzled Cardiff with his virtuoso eccentricity.” I suspect journalist Adrian Colley may now regret comparing Julian Cope with the UK’s most high-profile and prolific sex offender…

9) I’m Living In The Room They Found Saddam In (Live @ The Royal Festival Hall, London, 21 Jan 2005) (Concert Climax: Live In The Hearing Of The Motherfucker, 2005)

One of the highlights of the long-promised and delayed album Citizen Cain’d, this song also appeared the same year on Concert Climax. It was advertised at the time as “a high quality Italian live album which is likely to only be available on the tour as we only managed to get a limited number and can’t guarantee we’ll get any more”. In all likelihood another self-released album, its a mix of sessions and live tracks, this one from 2005’s Cornucopia tour. At the time, Kitty Empire of NME slated the London gigs as “the most wrongheaded of ego trips”. The Guardian newspaper was equally damning (a whopping 2/5), reviewer David Peschek dismissing the new songs as “simply witless”. This may be intentionally true of Cope’s side-project Brain Donor, but I think this song deserves better and in my opinion the live version here tops the original.

10) Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed (Live @ The Fleece Bristol, 09 Feb 2020) (bootleg recording)

And back to this year’s Bristol gig for a regular set closer, including Cope’s crowd directions for his encore. The Fleece layout has no stage door, so Cope regularly has a faux exit-and-return in plain sight, to now-familiar crowd amusement. This is another Skellington favourite, a full-band competitive wig-out in its original version. This acoustic guitar and keyboard performance arguably lacks some of the impact of the album version but is a fitting end to the concert and this ICA.

In place of the bonus EP/album, I have stitched the songs together into a continuous audio experience on my Mixcloud page (click here for the link). Nothing like the real thing and waaaaay too short for a genuine Cope gig, but stick your headphones on and imagine you’ve paid a few quid for an amateur bootleg cassette and you’re halfway there. Enjoy!

KHAYEM

HAIRSTYLE OF THE DEVIL

It was back in May, as part of the Scottish Songs series, that I profiled Momus while admitting I had just the one album in the collection.

My recent forays into the world of Discogs enable me to pick up the 7″ release of The Hairstyle of The Devil a single from 1989 that was released on Creation Records. The 7″ came in a plain black sleeve, and retailed at the set price of 99p. The image at the top of this post is the sleeve of the 12″.

mp3: Momus – Hairstyle of The Devil

There’s a real sense of the Pet Shop Boys at play in the music but I thought that re-producing the lyrics would give the uninitiated an idea of what Momus is all about….

She was seeing two at exactly the same time
She never mentioned you when she was round at mine
But when you were round at hers you always made a scene
‘Cause you only had ears for descriptions of the stranger she was seeing

And what she saw in me was only what attracts
The many girls I see behind their lovers’ backs
But what she saw in you, I could never work it out
There was just one thing she found it turned you on to talk about

The inexplicable charisma of the rival
You said “Describe for me the hairstyle of the devil
Is he passionate? (Don’t answer!)
Is he detached? (Don’t answer that!)
Does he please you in the sack? (Shut up, don’t answer back!)
Just tell him I’m dying to meet him”

She called me up, she said she’d had enough
Of all the paranoia you mixed up with your love
We spent the night together, she woke me up at dawn
And called an all-night taxi
And when you came I was gone

You found my comb behind her chest of drawers
She said she’d slept alone but the bed was full of hairs
And when you matched them up, beyond a shadow of a doubt
The hairs belonged the Beelzebub
And you began to puzzle out

The inexplicable charisma of the rival
You said “Describe for me the hairstyle of the devil
Does he make you laugh? (Don’t answer!)
Does he earn a lot? (Don’t answer that!)
Does he dress you up in black? (Shut up, don’t answer back!)
Just tell him I’m dying to meet him”

The inexplicable charisma of the rival
With the luck and the hairstyle of the devil

And so you gaze at the people all about
In every stranger’s face you try to make me out
And when you meet me finally your horns will lock with mine
For the beast rules with rivalry
As the clock rules with time

For the beast rules with rivalry
As the clock rules with time

For the beast rules with rivalry
As the clock rules with time

Pleased to meet you, hope you’ve guessed my name
Pleased to meet you, hope you’ve guessed my name
Pleased to meet you, hope you’ve guessed my name

Unlike Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, who ran into all sorts of problems when After The Watershed mimicked a line from Ruby Tuesday, the lawyers for the Rolling Stones didn’t come near Momus in 1989.  The fact that the single sold in minuscule numbers is just, I’m sure, one of those coincidences that happen……

Here’s yer b-side, which judging by the crackling and popping was played more than the a-side by its original owner:-

mp3: Momus – Amongst Women Only

JC

 

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Four : BLUE MONDAY

There are days when I have to accept that I really am something of an old saddo.

Like the day the other week when I realised I had three separate copies of Blue Monday on vinyl, all dating from 1983. But to be fair, they are three completely different pressings with different sleeves……

Copy #1: The original pressing that came in the die-cut sleeve with the vinyl being housed in a silver inner sleeve. The asking price on Discogs for a copy in the condition mine is in ranges from £40-70, although some sellers are looking for stupid money such as £185.

Copy #2: The second pressing that came in the die-cut sleeve but with the vinyl being housed in a glossy black inner sleeve. The asking price for this one, of which there actually seem to be fewer on Discogs, can be as low as £10 but up to £40. Mine actually has another quirk in that the labels have been placed on the wrong sides so that to listen to Blue Monday I have to play the side of vinyl which is listed as The Beach.

Copy #3: The third pressing that was plain black, but still with the code down the right-hand side of the sleeve, with the vinyl housed in a white paper sleeve. The Poundland/Dollar Store version of the single so to speak, but still capable of fetching as much as £20, although most retail on the second-hand market for under a tenner.

Copy#1 is the one that is alleged to have cost Factory Records money with each sale with the legend being that the die-cut sleeve and silver cardboard inner, along with the actual vinyl, cost more to manufacture than the selling price. It still proved to be a great return overall given that this was the single that brought New Order to the attention of the record-buying public and led to countless millions of sales of this 45, along with subsequent singles and albums, all over the planet.

mp3: New Order – Blue Monday
mp3: New Order – The Beach

Ripped from copy#1 of the original vinyl at 320kbps.

Remember folks, feel free to make suggestions as to what should appear here on Monday mornings. As long as I have a vinyl copy, I’ll make sure your requests are met.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 17)

This is the seventeenth week of the UK singles released by R.E.M. More often than not, either myself or The Robster has opened up proceedings by suggesting that the single you are about to hear is very unrepresentative or is untypical of the album from which it has been lifted. Deja-vu?

mp3: R.E.M. – Radio Song

The opening track on Out of Time was released as a 45 in both the UK and the USA in the first week of November 1991. It has a spoken intro and a guest vocal from rapper KRS-One. It then has a few notes that sound as if The Partridge Family are about to burst into song. Micheal Stipe’s opening contribution feels as if we about to be getting a follow-up to an earlier non-hit single:-

“The world is collapsing around our ears”

The thing is, this time he doesn’t feel fine.

There’s a few things that now annoy me about Radio Song, not least that the rap is lame and feels very dated. I know KRS-One was an established name in the hip-hop scene at the time through Boogie Down Productions and had obviously been brought on board with the best intentions but in this instance, he feels more frustrated than genuinely angry. An opportunity to drive home the message of playlists on radio stations being of little or no appeal to much of the demographic was missed.

And yet…..after some thirty seconds when the organ, bass, drums and guitars kick in, it becomes a more than passable tune that bounces along at a decent lick. But it still doesn’t ever feel as if it should be selected as a single, not least for the fact that it would be near impossible for a song that attacks playlists and the music preferences of DJs and their production team sidekicks to get much in the way of airplay.

And yet……Warner Bros. obviously had no worries as the record-buying public in the UK continued to spend substantial amounts of cash on all things R.E.M. and it made its way to #28 in our charts. It bombed in the States…..

Once again, it was made available on 7″, 12″, cassette and CD. The common track was another lifted from the 1 April session for ‘Rockline’.

mp3: R.E.M. – Love Is All Around

At the time, this was a relatively unknown song, with it being a cover of a 1967 single by The Troggs. It’s an acoustic effort in which Mike Mills takes the lead vocal and with the ba-ba-ba-ba stuff going on in the background, it’s a third cousin of sorts to Near Wild Heaven. It’s quite awful.

Three years later, the same song was recorded by Wet Wet Wet as their contribution to the soundtrack of the film Four Weddings and A Funeral. It spent 15 weeks at #1 and was never off daytime radio, to the extent that some DJs, having got tired of it, began to play either the original version by The Troggs or the R.E.M. cover – there’s a certain irony of it being taken from a b-side from a single that has lambasted radio stations and DJs of that ilk….

The 12″ also offered up a rare thing. An R.E.M. remix:-

mp3: R.E.M. – Shiny Happy People (Music Mix)

It comes in at just over a minute longer than the original version and Scott Litt deploys the sort of bog-standard production tricks and techniques so beloved in that era, especially multi-tracked vocals, keyboards to mimic orchestras and electronic drums. It’s listenable but it’s disposable.

The CD came with three live tracks, thus keeping with the formula of the previous three CD singles lifted from Out of Time. The blurb with it stated:-

“This is the fourth in a series of limited edition CDs released alongside singles from ‘Out Of Time’. Each includes 3 live songs, all complementary to those available on the other formats. Collectively they form a record of ‘R.E.M. In Concert’.

And to help you store your new CDs, which if memory serves me correctly all retailed at £3.99, there was a plastic box in which you could put them. The only thing was that Warner Bros. was kind of running out of decent sources to locate material – no way did they want listeners to get the chance of live material from the IRS days and so they turned again to Tourfilm and shows from that era:-

mp3: R.E.M. – You Are The Everything (live) – Miami 29 April 1989
mp3: R.E.M. – Orange Crush (live) – Atlanta 13 November 1989
mp3: R.E.M. – Belong (live) – Greensboro, 10 November 1989

And yes, you have heard that live version of Orange Crush before as we slotted it into the look at the single release of Orange Crush a few weeks back,

Onwards and upwards for R.E.M., arguably the biggest band on the planet at the end of 1991. It would be nine months before the next single and The Robster will be here next week to say a few words.

JC