GETTING WEIGHED DOWN, WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION

I’ve mentioned before, on many occasions, how much of a fan I am of Billy Bragg. I haven’t gone out and bought absolutely everything he’s ever issued, but I’ve all the albums, a handful of compilation CDs, the stuff with Wilco, and some officially sanctioned live CDs, there are over 400 different songs or takes on songs sitting on the hard-drive.

Browsing in a second-hand shop the other week, I picked up the 12″ release of Sexuality, a single from 1991, written in partnership with Johnny Marr on which Kirsty MacColl sang backing vocals.  The single went all the way up to #27 in the UK charts and was the first to be released from the album Don’t Try This At Home. I genuinely can’t think why I didn’t buy Sexuality at the time – I certainly have long had a 12″ copy of You Woke Up My Neighbourhood, the second and final 45 from the album, dating from the time of release.

I was surprised to see that the two additional tracks on Sexuality weren’t already on the hard-drive, which made handing over the £2 a very easy decision. I did think that all his b-sides had been collated on compilations or included in the subsequent boxsets, so this felt like a bit of a find, albeit I know it’s not a particularly difficult piece of vinyl to track down on the second-hand market. I’ve since checked and picked up the info that the b-side of the 7″ has been included on compilations, but not the 12″ tracks.

I was a little bit disappointed when I got home and discovered that the vinyl wasn’t in the greatest of condition but it didn’t stop me playing and enjoying these two new bits of music:-

mp3: Billy Bragg – Sexuality (Manchester Remix)
mp3: Billy Bragg – Sexuality (London Remix)

Yup…..Billy Bragg going down the remix route. The Manchester effort is the work of Owen Morris, who just a few years later would become one of the best-known in the business from his work with Oasis, The Verve and Ash.

The London remix is credited to Adam Peters and Vic W. I knew the name Adam Peters from a couple of things, including his work on Ocean Rain by Echo & The Bunnymen on which he played cello and arranged the orchestral parts, and also his partnership with David McComb of The Triffids, with the two of them hooking up to contribute their version of Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On to I’m Your Fan, a rather wonderful tribute album to Leonard Cohen. What I hadn’t realised, and what becomes obvious with one listen to the London Remix, is that he was, in the early 90s, pursuing a path that involved keyboards and left-field electronica. In more recent years, he has become increasingly better-known for his work as a composer of film and documentary soundtracks.

On the other hand, I have no idea who Vic W is…..

For completeness, here’s the two songs on the 7″ (lifted NOT from poor quality vinyl):-

mp3: Billy Bragg – Sexuality
mp3: Billy Bragg – Bad Penny

Billy has been known to amend the lyrics to the song when playing it live, including ‘I look like Boris Becker, I drive a big red double-decker’ and my own favourite – ‘I had an uncle who once played for Red Star Belgrade – he said some things are best left unspoken but I’ve left your auntie and ran off with the postman’

JC

8 thoughts on “GETTING WEIGHED DOWN, WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION

  1. Great post, JC!

    “Vic W” is Australian producer Victor Van Vugt, who has worked with Nick Cave, Beth Orton and Kirsty MacColl, to name a very few.

    Adam Peters was also in The Flowerpot Men and (at the time of this remix) Sunsonic with Ben Watkins, the latter perhaps now better known for his work as Juno Reactor.

  2. Billy’s old mate Phil Jupitus does a filthy version of this called Beastality… funny, but unquotable. He did it as one of Billy’s encores in Bradford last time I saw him.

    BTW, Billy is due to do some 3 night stands across Europe in 2021, with night 1 a career review, night 2 the first 3 albums, night 3 the second 3 albums. My wife is keen for us to go to the Berlin dates (assuming of course the virus lets us).

  3. Hi Paul

    He did similar in Glasgow just over a year ago….I got to all three nights and they were equally tremendous. Go for it!!!!

  4. What a neat nod to the Johnny Marr connection having a Manchester and London mix in the same way of ‘This Charming Man’. I thought Billy Bragg was really strong at this stage in his career, but as I’d recently given up work and gone to Uni as a mature student, having a wife, a kid and a football team to support meant cutting back a bit on my musical purchases. Billy suffered at this time, although I did pick up ‘You Woke Up My Neighbourhood’ in a second -hand record shop in Aberdeen (One Up? Diamond Street?) because of the R.E.M. connection. Thanks for these tracks I missed at the time.

  5. When Serbia became an international pariah state, Billy would change the lyric to “Had an uncle who played a bit. For Hajduk Split”.

  6. Adam Peters was the first person associated with Echo And The Bunnymen that I ever met. Another case of being in the right place at the right time, that right place being The Limelight Club in NYC. He and Ben were in NYC after their Walk On Gilded Splinters single came out and were invited to enjoy a night at the club. He was a very affable chap and I kept the Bunnymen comments to a minimum – I think. But I was really into their take on the industrial sound which was part Suicide, part Cramps and Einstürzende Neubauten. When the morphed into Sunsonic I was onboard with a first class ticket. Their album and the singles were like a bridge from 80s Synth and the coming Techno onslaught. Kind Of Loving – Kicking NorthMix by Youth is spectacular!

  7. Thanks for the flashback, Echorich. The Flowerpot Men’s single Jo’s So Mean was a frequent play at the indie club I used to go to, but I liked Sunsonic even more. Their album Melting Down On Motor Angel is still a frequent player, Shay Shay a particular favourite. The 12″ mixes were excellent – I was a big fan of their own remixes of Driveaway too. Adam Peters also did an excellent remix of Lloyd Cole’s Butterfly (aka The Planet Ann Charlotte Mix), a real Unfinished Sympathy vibe going on.

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