THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 30)

Continuing on from last week’s theme of New Adventures In Hi-Fi being R.E.M.’s most overlooked record – commercially, the backlash started here. It was becoming clear there wasn’t going to be another Losing My Religion anytime soon, and commercial radio stations and bandwagon-jumping casual fans were not going to be playing new R.E.M. records like they had for the previous few years (despite the fact the band had existed for 10 years and released 6 albums before LMR came out).

One theory about New Adventures’ failure to capture the general public’s imagination is that it was entirely deliberate, that the band was beginning to tire of the fame. The story goes that following the esoteric choice of first single E-Bow The Letter, Warners were pressing hard for The Wake-Up Bomb to be the follow-up. And they had a good point. It was one of the strongest, hardest-hitting songs on the album, one that the critics had almost universally picked up on as a highlight. Fans loved it too. It really was an obvious choice. But the band dug their heels in – they wanted a different track and they got their way. Bittersweet Me was released on 27th October 1996 to a general malaise.

mp3: R.E.M. – Bittersweet Me

I was nonplussed by the decision to release Bittersweet Me. I can name, off the top of my head, at least four songs that would have made better singles – the aforementioned Wake-Up Bomb, New Test Leper, Be Mine, and my favourite track from the album So Fast So Numb. Of the album’s 14 songs, Bittersweet Me would probably have been my 10th or 11th choice. To be fair, it’s not a terrible song like Sidewinder or some of the guff they would conjure up over the next decade, it’s just a bit, well… meh. Unremarkable. Pretty standard quietLOUDquiet 90s alt rock.

Throughout this series we’ve bitched and moaned about the choice of singles from albums, often directing our disdain at the labels. But in this case, it seemed the band was deliberately sabotaging their own career. It’s not even as though they loved the song that much themselves – Bittersweet Me was never played live other than during soundchecks on the Monster Tour (one of which, recorded in Memphis, formed the backing track for the eventual album track/single).

In the UK, it charted in its first week at #19 before plummeting to #53 the following week and out of the Top 100 altogether after that. Proof, if any were needed, that the general public had lost interest by now, with only the true fans keeping the band’s chart profile alive. Those of us who did buy it however, were rewarded with some cracking b-sides. No vinyl again, but a pesky cassette single was put out with another fully live version of an album track. Undertow is one of New Adventures in Hi-Fi’s strongest songs, and here it’s even more raucous and dirty than the album version. It’s this version that features in the concert film Road Movie.

mp3: R.E.M. – Undertow [live – Atlanta]

Like last time, two CDs were released, both identical in content, but the so-called ‘Collector’s Edition’ had slightly different packaging. But whatever version you bought, you were in for a real treat. After the first two songs came what was at the time, and remains, a very sad track that makes me enormously happy and glad to be alive. R.E.M.’s take on Jimmy Webb’s classic Wichita Lineman is, frankly, beyond words. I love it so much, probably my favourite of the band’s covers. Just wonderful.

mp3: R.E.M. – Wichita Lineman [live – Houston]

Finally, another live version of a track from the album, but this time recorded acoustically in the studio. New Test Leper really is a highlight, not just on NAiHF, but of the band’s career. An immensely sad tale of character assassination via a TV talk show. You know – the kind that gave us Jeremy Kyle and Jerry Springer. Stipe’s lyrics are so poignant and tragic. This version doesn’t top the album take, but it’s still a bit of a gem. (JC adds….I think both versions are equally magnificent.  If you don’t know the album version, I do recommend you acquaint yourself with it as soon as you can).

mp3: R.E.M. – New Test Leper [acoustic – Seattle studio]

As the casual listener turned its back on the band, the fans took New Adventures In Hi-Fi to their hearts. It really is one of R.E.M.’s career highs and would have been perfect if it were a bit shorter, and more successful if better songs were released from it. There was to be one last single from New Adventures (making it their first album of the decade to contain fewer than four singles), and next week JC has the honour of talking you through it.

The Robster

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #245: THE PICTISH TRAIL

Edited from wiki:-

Johnny Lynch (born 28 September 1981, Edinburgh) is a Scottish musician who performs under the pseudonym The Pictish Trail. After graduation from the University of St Andrews, Lynch ran Fence Records from 2003 until 2013 and has since been running Lost Map Records. He’s also played as band member with other musicians, including James Yorkston and Malcolm Middleton.

Lynch released his proper debut album, Secret Soundz Vol.1, in September 2008, to critical acclaim. In February 2009, The Times named Secret Soundz as an “Essential Recording” of the Fence Collective. In 2010 The List magazine named Lynch as the 12th “Hottest Scot” in its list of creative Scottish people.

His 2010 album In Rooms (12″ vinyl) consists of 50 songs of 30 seconds each written as part of the “100 Days To Make Me A Better Person” project of 2009. Lynch also supported KT Tunstall throughout her 2010-2011 European tour in support of her 2010 album, Tiger Suit.

Secret Soundz Vol. 2 was recorded with Sweet Baboo taking up production duties, on the Isle of Eigg (where Lynch now lives). The album was released to critical praise in February 2013. and was re-released as a double CD set, with Vol.1, on Moshi Moshi in 2014.

In July 2014, the first Howlin’ Fling Festival took place on Eigg, with Lynch as organiser and performer. The line-up included, among others, Jens Lekman, Beth Orton and Sam Amidon, The Phantom Band and various bands from Lost Map Records. In September 2016, Pictish Trail (without “The” in its name) released a new album, Future Echoes, produced by Adem. It featured the singles “Far Gone” and “Dead Connection”. A full tour followed the released, with the band featuring members of Lost Map signees Tuff Love.

Thumb World released in February 2020, featuring the singles Double Sided, Lead Balloon and Turning Back. The album received positive reviews from critics, with Jamie Bowman of The Skinny describing it as “funny, beautiful and life-affirming”.

JC adds……

Johnny Lynch is one of the unsung heroes of the Scottish music scene.  I’ve never been to any of his Howlin’ Fling festivals, but those who have tell me they are always something quite special and memorable.  Maybe one day….

Here’s a track from the debut album:-

mp3: The Pictish Trail – Winter Home Disco

JC

THREE BOOKS READ THIS PAST MONTH

Loads more books arrived a few weeks back, courtesy of Santa Claus, among which were three autobiographical hardbacks related to the sort of stuff you’ll find on this little corner of t’internet.

Two of them, I recommend very highly, the other not quite as much.

First up is Broken Greek by Pete Paphides,  The author will be reasonably well-known to UK readers as a journalist, writer and broadcaster of many years standing.  He was born in Birmingham in 1969, the younger of two sons to Greek/Cypriot immigrants who had, like many others, come here in the hope of establishing themselves financially, feeling that there were greater rewards on offer than back home. Broken Greek will hopefully be the first of a number of volumes as it takes us up only to Pete’s early teenage years, and while the music is rarely more than a page or two away, there is equal joy from the family memoirs across its near 600-pages, most of which are recalled through the lens of childhood innocence.

But the real strength in the writing comes from the musical reminisces.  Paphides’ great talent throughout his career, be that with a specialist music publication or during his many years as the rock critic for The Times, has always been his willingness to accept the uncool and talk up singers or bands whose very names cause lots of us to squirm.  The book demonstrates he’s been like all his life, and he never shies away from outlining his love for the chart-fodder and middle-of-the-road stuff of the 70s. You are left with the feeling that he still owns those very same records, happy to give them a spin today. He is, however, quite lucky in that his older brother by five years is also a music fan and so, as Pete reaches the ages of 8/9, he is exposed to new wave/post-punk songs, many of which really have an impact on him, making him fall deeper and harder in love with singles and albums.

“Paphides can write like a dream and knows how to make his particular circumstances resonate for anyone who, when young, hungered for music;  if you have ever found solace in a song, you will relish this book; all the energy, thrill and immediacy of your favourite single; tender, heartfelt, humane and very funny.”

That’s just a few of the things the critics have said since Broken Greek was published in April 2020.  I’ll just add that it’s a gem of a read, one that I know will appeal to the entire TVV community.

Another essential read, as far as I’m concerned, is I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke.  Unlike the Pete Paphides book, these 470 pages cover the punk poets entire life, from his birth in Salford in January 1949 through to his re-emergence in recent years as a cultural icon, beloved of many a 21st century musician or lyricist. Unsurprisingly, it’s a wonderfully told story, possibly slightly exaggerated in one or two instances for comic effect, and all the while it is near impossible not to imagine yourself sitting in an audience listening to the author reading the words aloud to you. As such, I found myself turning each page with a grin fixed firmly to my face.

I wasn’t aware of how rich and varied JCC’s life has been.  I had always imagined him as having hung around Salford/Manchester, as part of an arts scene, and being discovered in the late 70s when punk emerged.  Instead, I learned that, among many other things, he had served as a bookie’s runner, an apprentice mechanic, a cutter in the textile industry, a printer and a fire-watcher at a naval dockyard hundreds of miles south-west of where he had been raised.  Oh, and he also was a pet-sitter in Amsterdam, a period which provides a particularly amusing set of stories and incidents. As for the poetry, he first stood on a stage in the early 70s, appearing on bills alongside the club comedians whose repertoires were very much in tune with the sexism, racism and misogyny of the era.

It’s also a story of a junkie, and he doesn’t shy away from the things that went wrong in his life from his long-standing heroin addiction, but not in any harrowing or ‘woe-is-me’ sort of way, just an acknowledgement that he fucked it up big style, the consequences of which were inevitable.

JCC has had an extraordinary life, and he has written an extraordinary autobiography.  You really should track it down.

The third of the music books read in January 2020 was Remain In Love by Chris Frantz.  In some ways I should acknowledge that coming fast on the back of Paphides and Clarke, the autobiography from the Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club drummer had a lot to live up to.  The reviews, which had helped me to add it to Santa’s list, were almost all favourable, with the critics homing in on the fact that many of its words sought to destroy a few myths around David Byrne.

The thing is, the book isn’t really all that vitriolic in nature, but where an opportunity arises to set the record straight about who wrote what and who came up with an idea around the look or sound, it is taken.  And yes, there is the occasionally barbed passage in which the lead singer is held up to be a deviant or a liar, but all too often it is quickly followed by more words in which Byrne’s involvement is seen as pivotal to the success of the band.  As such, the inconsistencies got to me and spoiled my enjoyment.

The other thing I couldn’t really get out of my head was the fact that Chris Frantz had something of a privileged upbringing that seemed, to me, to give him a sense of arrogance and expectation from an early age which shaped how he went about his entire life.  He wasn’t slow in using his parents connections to make things happen for him, and he really had a wonderful safety net, should he have needed it, of being able to fall back on them at any point in time.  This realisation, again for me, made some stories of his life at art school and the early efforts at making it as a musician in New York ring hollow.

Like the JCC book, there’s plenty of references to drug consumption, but in a way that is almost boastful both in terms of the quantity and quality and the folk with whom he was surrounded while indulging.  In other words, it felt too often like a bloated, boastful bio of a rock star bore.   It’s also worth mentioning in passing that his lifelong partner, Tina Weymouth, also came from a well-connected and highly-talented family, and indeed there is an admission that when the going did get particularly tough in NYC, the two of them would retreat to the comfy abode of her brother.

I suppose I should have realised what I was letting myself in for from a few of sentences in the preface to Remain In Love:-

“You could say that Tina and I were the team who made David Byrne famous. We were very good at shining the spotlight on him.

“Anyone who has been playing music professionally for over forty years has lived a life with many twists and turns. In this book I will tell you all about them…

“A number of books have been written about us, but none of them are very good and none of them have given the reader the true inside story. With Remain In Love, I will do just that.”

I’d have preferred it if he had simply related the tale to his therapist.

mp3: The Jam – When You’re Young (BBC Session)
mp3: John Cooper Clarke – Beasley Street
mp3: Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere

JC

GIVING THE PEOPLE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT: MIDDLE AGED MAN

A GUEST POSTING by MIDDLE AGED MAN

Lockdown 3 Reaction

A week past on Monday, watching ‘the man who doesn’t know how to use a comb’ announce Lockdown 3 was a depressing experience and led to a variety of emotions, which I think the following opening tracks convey.

Whilst side 1 reflects my immediate response, Side 2 is the sound of me picking myself up.

Special mention must go to the song chosen to close side 2 – if ever there was an anthem for current times this is surely it:

Side 1

Whitewater – Let’s Eat Grandma (from the album, I’m All Ears)

An instrumental opening track is a feature of many of my favourite albums and this conveys a amazing sense of forboding

Anxiety- Preoccupations (from the album, Preoccupations)

Previously know as ‘Viet Cong’ – Preoccupations self titled album didn’t quite hit the heights for me, but this is the feeling I experience whenever I go into a shop at the moment

Standing Still – Artery (from the album, Civilisation)

From their 2012 album, it is what the world is doing at the moment

Screaming In The Darkness – Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls (from the album, Screaming In The Darkness)

To my mind Martin’s Hannett’ s greatest production – no need for further superlatives

Without An End – Reduction Plan (from the album, Somewhere)

Even without the lyrics the music feels right

Side 2

Don’t Fall – The Chameleons (from the album, Script Of The Bridge)

One of the great Manchester post punk bands who would have been so much bigger/respected if they had been on factory – the opening voice over recorded from the TV ‘what on earth are you talking about’ is what we would all have thought 18 months ago

Start Again – The Slow Readers Club (from the album, Cavalcade)

A current Manchester band who should be so much more successful than they are – so far

Jardin Botanique – Opera Multi Steel (from the album, Days Of Creation)

A band from France that a came across a few years ago when I discovered ‘Coldwave’ – I’m lucky to have a garden and it has been a place of joy and comfort during the lockdowns

Beautiful Day – Voom (from the album, Hello Are You There?)

I know nothing about Voom apart from they are from New Zealand,

All In It – British Sea Power (from the album, Do You Like Rock Music?)

An anthem for lockdown

middle aged man

JC adds…..Thanks to MAM for a very diverse and unusual mix of opening tracks.  My apologies that I didn’t have the time to pull these together into the usual Side A and Side B offerings.  I’ll look to add them at the weekend.

IN ITS FULL GLORIOUS MONO SOUND

It was a few years back that I picked up a copy of the album with the catalogue number CBS – PBG 62572. It’s the original Mono recording of Highway 61 Revisited, released on 30 August 1965 to this sort of acclaim:-

In the British music press, initial reviews of Highway 61 expressed both bafflement and admiration for the record. New Musical Express critic Allen Evans wrote: “Another set of message songs and story songs sung in that monotonous and tuneless way by Dylan which becomes quite arresting as you listen.” The Melody Maker LP review section, by an anonymous critic, commented: “Bob Dylan’s sixth LP, like all others, is fairly incomprehensible but nevertheless an absolute knock-out.”The English poet Philip Larkin, reviewing the album for The Daily Telegraph, wrote that he found himself “well rewarded” by the record: “Dylan’s cawing, derisive voice is probably well suited to his material … and his guitar adapts itself to rock (‘Highway 61’) and ballad (‘Queen Jane’). There is a marathon ‘Desolation Row’ which has an enchanting tune and mysterious, possibly half-baked words.”

It would go on reach #4 in the UK charts. His previous album, Bringing It All Back Home, released some six months previously, had reached #1. Is it fair to say that Highway 61 Revisited is now considered to have a greater legacy, notwithstanding that the former album included Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggie’s Farm, Mr. Tambourine Man and It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)??   Over to those of you within the TVV community who are better qualified to articulate relevant views and opinions……..

The reason I’m posing a question rather than offering an opinion is that I’m not a huge Bob Dylan fan, but there’s an awful lot about this slightly crackly album that I like. And let’s face it, for a piece of plastic that is now almost 56 years old, it’s in decent condition:-

mp3: Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone
mp3: Bob Dylan – Tombstone Blues
mp3: Bob Dylan – It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Lot To Cry
mp3: Bob Dylan – From A Buick Six
mp3: Bob Dylan – Ballad Of A Thin Man

mp3: Bob Dylan – Queen Jane Approximately
mp3: Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
mp3: Bob Dylan – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
mp3: Bob Dylan – Desolation Row

Side 1 of Highway 61 Revisited (mono)
Side 2 of Highway 61 Revisited (mono)

If you’d said to the 18-year old me that, some 40 years on I’d be writing a few words in praise of Bob Dylan, I’d have laughed out very loud in your face and with a great deal of contempt.  I’m glad my tastes have matured to some degree.

JC

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 42)

A GUEST POSTING by KHAYEM

Les ailes de la Rolls effleuraient des pylônes
Quand m’étant malgré moi égaré
Nous arrivâmes ma Rolls et moi dans une zone
Dangereuse
Un endroit isolé

Là-bas, sur le capot de cette Silver Ghost de 1910
S’avance en éclaireur
La Vénus d’argent du radiateur
Dont les voiles légers volent aux avant-postes

Hautaine, dédaigneuse
Tandis que hurle le poste de radio
Couvrant le silence du moteur
Elle fixe l’horizon
Et l’esprit ailleurs
Semble tout ignorer des trottoirs que j’accoste

Ruelles, culs-de-sac
Aux stationnements interdits par la loi
Le cœur indifférent
Elle tient le mors de mes vingt-six chevaux-vapeur

Princesse des ténèbres, archange maudit
Amazone modern style que le sculpteur, en anglais
Surnomme “Spirit of Ecstasy”

Ainsi je déconnais avant que je ne perde
Le contrôle de la Rolls
J’avançais lentement
Ma voiture dériva
Et un heurt violent
Me tira soudain de ma rêverie
Merde
J’aperçus une roue de vélo à l’avant
Qui continuait de tourner en roue libre
Et comme une poupée qui perdait l’équilibre
La jupe retroussée sur ses pantalons blancs

“Tu t’appelles comment?”
“Melody”
“Melody comment?”
“Melody Nelson”

Melody Nelson a les cheveux rouges
Et c’est leur couleur naturelle

And so begins the Histoire De Melody Nelson with another contender for an Opening Tracks ICA, Melody by Serge Gainsbourg. This is of course chapter one, so it focuses on the narrator’s first encounter with the titular character, knocking her off a bicycle whilst driving around night-time back streets in his Rolls Royce. The implication is there from the start, but the narrator is subsequently painted as an obsessive who seduces and objectifies the 15-year old Melody. I won’t spoil the ending if you’ve not listened to the album. Gainsbourg’s spoken word narration is underpinned by Herbie Flowers’ bass, with Jane Birkin briefly giving voice to Melody Nelson at the end. The original 1971 album version runs for seven and half minutes, but the 2011 deluxe edition includes an alternative version, extending the climatic wig-out for another two minutes.

Melody (Prise Complète)

Roughly a quarter of a century later, David Holmes covered Melody on his album Let’s Get Killed, albeit as an instrumental track retitled Don’t Die Just Yet. It was released as a single and the CD contained ‘remixes’ by Arab Strap, Delakota and Mogwai.

SWC posted about the Arab Strap version way back on Christmas Eve, 2013 as an example of a great remix, and he’s spot on. Each of the versions radically rework the song, taking it in very different directions. However, in a nod back to Gainsbourg’s original, each version reintroduces a new, spoken word narrative: Arab Strap recalls ‘The Holiday Girl’; Delakota recounts another tale of abusive, destructive love; Mogwai reads a transcript of US astronaut James Lovell’s alleged sighting of UFOs, set against a musical mash up of the Melody bass and strings with Slint’s Good Morning, Captain.

I’ll be honest, the transcripts are a bit questionable: a ropey Arab Strap version is ubiquitous on t’internet although I’ve tried to correct the mistakes where I can; Delakota’s narrative is a little more straightforward; I gave up on Mogwai completely after a few attempts. Musically, all of the versions are worth your time.

I’m telling you it’s the same girl
She’s always there on holidays when you’re wee
She never grows up and she’s everywhere
She was in the lift in Covent Garden underground last week and she was in Torquay when I was thirteen
She said she was called Tina then and she claims she was from Germany
I watched her from the balcony as she swam in the pool and tanned herself all day
And spying her from hotel windows when she played tennis with her mum and dad
I would try and impress her with my sensitive side by being unusually affectionate to my wee brother When she passed us in the lobby
There was a royal wedding, I dunno which one
But the hotel was having a fancy do, some sort of celebration thing
She sat at the table she usually sat at at dinner just across from ours
It was the first day I’d had a drink in the four of us
A champagne on ice cocktail affair
Later when there was a dance and all the parents were drunk
And her dad tried to make me dance with him in this conga
I wasn’t into it so I went outside and stood on the patio, staring at the night sea trying to look deep
She came out and she stood beside me
Her naked elbow touched mine, she turned round and smiled…but I couldn’t say a thing

The Holiday Girl (Don’t Die Just Yet) (Remix By Arab Strap)

“Hi man, I was just gonna leave a little message to tell you about a story that I just read
It might be of some help to you in your present predicament
I just read about this Australian couple, I don’t know, I think they were newly weds”

Well, I guess they must have been fighting for two or three hours
Before she reached beneath the seat, pulled out the knife and stuck it in his throat
And the car they were driving just came off the road as he was grabbing her
Holding her down and stabbing her back

Out in the middle of nowhere
Slumped in their seats like a couple of stuck pigs
Hand in hand, smoking away their time
As they know they’re dying

And they left the hospital, arm in arm, not long after they came round
And they’re rescued by some trucker guy, who was still shaking by what he found
And the doctor shook his head and turned to the man and said
“Oh, don’t worry son, these two do this all the time”

Hand in hand, we’re together, man
Yeah, hand in hand, we’re together, man
Hand in hand, we’re together, man
Yeah, hand in hand, we’re together, man
And hand in hand, we’re together, man
Yeah, hand in hand, we’re together, man
Ah, hand in hand, we’re together, man
Yeah, hand in hand, we’re together…man

“I believe that’s a real strong love
And if you ask for my advice
If I could find love as strong as that
I think I could be satisfied”

Don’t Die Just Yet (Delakota Mix)

Don’t Die Just Yet (Mogwai Mix)

KHAYEM

 

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS : OUTLANDOS d’AMOUR

Album: Outlandos d’Amour – The Police
Review: Rolling Stone, 14 June 1979
Author: Tom Carson

On the Police’s debut album, Outlandos d’Amour, lead vocalist/bassist Sting sings in a sleight-of-hand variety of styles: there’s a high-pitched quaver reminiscent of Ray Davies on the love songs, some Jamaican patois trotted out for the reggae cuts, a bit of Roger Daltrey’s phlegm-that-swallowed-Kansas howling for a big rabble-rouser like “Born in the 50’s.” Sting sounds like a guy who’s just made sergeant and is looking for a voice to back up his new stripes.

His band, too, offers a little something for everyone. If the flexible, jazz-influenced flourishes of drummer Stewart Copeland, a reggae beat and guitarist Andy Summers’ finely honed attentiveness to nuance lend the Police a stylish art-rock elegance, their music still sounds unpolished and sometimes mean enough to let them pass for part-time members of the New Wave—even though it’s a brand of New Wave sufficiently watered down to allow these guys to become today’s AOR darlings. And yet their hybrid of influences has been fused into a streamlined, scrappy style, held together by the kind of knotty, economical hooks that make a song stick out on the radio. Musically, Outlandos d’Amour has a convincing unity and drive.

It’s on the emotional level that it all seems somewhat hollow. Posing as a punk. Sting, as both singer and songwriter, can’t resist turning everything into an art-rock game. He’s so archly superior to the material that he fails to invest it with much feeling. Deft and rhythmically forceful though they are, the songs work only as posh collections of catchphrases (“Can’t stand losing you” or “Truth hits everybody”) thrown out at random to grab your attention: lyrical hooks to punch up musical hooks, with nothing behind them.

By trying to have it both ways—posturing as cool art-rockers and heavy, meaningful New Wavers at the same time—the Police merely adulterate the meanings of each. Their punk pose is no more than a manipulative come-on. For all its surface threat, there’s no danger in this music, none of the spontaneity or passion that punk (and reggae) demands. Even when Sting says, “There’s a hole in my life,” he can’t convince us it’s keeping him up nights—we know it’s just another conceit. And the larger the implied emotions, the tinnier he makes them sound. A gimmicky anthem manufactured out of whole cloth, “Born in the 50’s” reaches for Who-style generational myth-making (down to its ringing, Pete Townshend-like guitar line), but Sting can’t make us see that there’s anything special about this generation, because he knows there really isn’t.

The lack of emotional commitment becomes truly offensive in the minstrel-show Natty Dread accent that Sting puts on for the reggae numbers. The Clash’s great “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais” works as white reggae because it’s all about Joe Strummer’s painful awareness that he can never claim this music as his own. Sting simply co-opts the style without acknowledging that such questions exist. The Police’s reggae is an infuriating and condescending parlor trick—a kind of slumming that isn’t even heartfelt.

As entertainment, Outlandos d’Amour isn’t monotonous—it’s far too jumpy and brittle for that—but its mechanically minded emptiness masquerading as feeling makes you feel cheated, and more than a little empty yourself. You’re worn out by all the supercilious, calculated pretense. The Police leave your nervous system all hyped up with no place to go.

JC adds…….

This was actually drafted for inclusion over the Festive period but having miscalculated how many I actually needed, I put it to one side, initially for a rainy day and then chose to have it come back as the first of what will be an occasional series given the positive fedback for this sort of thing.

It is fair to say that most of the 1979 reviews were far from favourable to The Police but Rolling Stone was a bit more vitriolic than most, with it damning with faint praise (and as it is an American review I’ve posted, I’ve chosen the more common album cover to be found over there rather than the one UK folk will be more familiar with.)

As time has gone by, there has been something of a rethink about Outlandos d’Amour, with many more than happy to talk up the strengths of the hit singles, albeit the way Sting has gone about his solo career and the high-profile rock star lifestyle he’s pursued has meant he’s remained fair game for many.

Even Rolling Stone has changed its tune. This is from December 2010 when it placed it at #434 in the greatest albums of all time:-

They would get bigger, but they never sounded fresher. The Police were punks who could play their instruments, absorbing reggae into the spare, bouncy sound of their debut album. “Roxanne,” “Next to You” and “So Lonely” proved that Sting was already a top-notch pop songwriter.

Almost the exact same was said in March 2013 during a feature on Best Debut Albums of All Time:-

They would get bigger, but they never sounded fresher. From Sting’s smoothly syncopated bass to Andy Summer’s prog-rock guitar and Stewart Copeland’s precision drumming, the Police were post-punks who could play their instruments, absorbing reggae and jazz into the spare, bouncy sound of their debut album, a record that didn’t sound quite like anything before it. The risque “Roxanne,” ”Next to You” and “So Lonely” proved that Sting was already a top-notch pop songwriter and these songs are in the DNA of everyone from No Doubt to U2.

Outlandos d’Amour came in at #38 in that particular rundown…..which, even for a fan like myself, seems embarrassingly high.

mp3: The Police – Roxanne
mp3: The Police – Next To You
mp3: The Police – So Lonely
mp3: The Police – Born In The 50s

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 29)

If any album in modern history has been let down by the choice of singles released from it, it is ‘New Adventures In Hi-Fi’. Here’s a record which, in hindsight, has become something of a cult favourite. Michael Stipe says it’s his favourite of all R.E.M. albums, Mike Mills includes it in his top 3. Retrospective reviewers of it regularly speak of it extremely favourably, even more so than those at the time of release did, and even then it received more than its fair share of praise. It’s right up there on my personal list of faves too. Over the intervening 25 years, I’ve become even more fond of it. (JC adds……I’ve long-named it as my favourite of all the R.E.M. albums)

And yet, to many, it’s a forgotten album. Well, forgotten to those who knew about it at the time, anyway. Why? Well, in my view, it was chronically undersold. OK, it’s a tad long, but that aside, it has some of the band’s finest songs of their Warner Bros. period. Yet when it came to promotion, it was left floundering. There was never going to be a tour – the Monster tour completely drained the band, to the extent that it nearly killed one of its members and the band came very close to breaking up in its aftermath. So it was left to radio play to help sell it. And with so many great songs, that would be a piece of cake right? So what happened?

I should point out, lead single E-Bow The Letter is a fabulous track, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t sound like anything else the band ever made, despite sounding exactly how an R.E.M. song should sound. Secondly, it featured long-time friend (and major influence on both Stipe and Buck) Patti Smith on vocals. That latter point is enough in itself to make E-Bow a classic. But can anyone honestly, honestly say that E-Bow The Letter, as brilliant as it is, is really a single? And the lead single from a new album at that? Honestly?

mp3: R.E.M. – E-Bow The Letter

Lyrically, the song is about what Stipe describes as a “letter never sent” to his recently deceased friend River Phoenix. It’s full of dark imagery and tension; yearning and regret. There are references to fame, drugs, alcohol, fear. On the surface, it sounds like stream-of-consciousness, but study those words and you can tell they are very carefully constructed. It‘s beautiful, but heavily doused in horror and sorrow.

But it’s the backing track that really makes E-Bow so special. There’s a lot of praise for Mike Mills’ bassline with many citing it as one of his very best. Buck’s use of the e-bow to create the ominous drone that drives the song is the big selling point here. It’s one of his most unique contributions, setting the mood for the song and allowing the emotion of Stipe’s vocal to become highlighted when set against it. To me, this song sounds a bit like a cross between two of Out Of Time’s best songs – Belong and Country Feedback. It actually sounds like neither, yet you can’t deny the similarities. But, sadly, New Adventures would never receive the commercial acclaim of that earlier record.

Perhaps rather incongruously, E-Bow The Letter became the band’s highest-charting single at the time, entering the UK charts at #4 in its first week (it also made top 10 in Ireland, Iceland, Canada, Norway and Poland). A feat perhaps, but by week two it plummeted out of the top 20 altogether, proof if any were needed that the fans were buying it in droves, but few others were interested.

In the UK, vinyl was practically dead by this time, so no 7” or 12” formats were commercially issued here (though I do have a 7” produced for jukeboxes). Instead there was a two-track cassette featuring this instrumental recorded, like many of NAIHF’s tracks, live during a soundcheck whilst on the Monster tour:

mp3: R.E.M. – Tricycle

It’s a surfy guitar-led track in the vein of Rotary 10 and Rotary 11, and in total contrast to the a-side is upbeat. Certainly not the worst instrumental b-side of the band’s career, but nothing to write home about either.

There were also two CD singles issued, one of which was labelled as a “collector’s edition”. Bizarrely, both had identical content, the differences purely being the packaging (the collector’s edition was housed in a jewel case with a four-page insert as opposed to the standard slim case and j-card insert). As well as E-Bow and Tricycle, two additional tracks were included. Departure was to appear on the then-forthcoming album, but the single included a rollicking live version which I really like.

mp3: R.E.M. – Departure (Rome Soundcheck)

A cover of Richard & Linda Thompson’s Wall Of Death rounded things off. Originally released on the Richard Thompson tribute album Beat The Retreat in 1994, it kind of languished unnoticed by most until this single. I really do like the original, but (and I know I’m risking a thumping from the folkie purists here) I actually prefer R.E.M.’s countrified version here. One of their better covers I reckon.

mp3: R.E.M. – Wall of Death

The release of ‘New Adventures In Hi-Fi’ revealed R.E.M. had probably made one of their very best albums, bursting at the seams with good songs. Obviously, they were saving its best track for the next single, right?

The Robster

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #244: THE PHANTOM BAND

Edited from wiki:-

“The Phantom Band are a Scottish indie rock band based in Glasgow, consisting of Duncan Marquiss (guitar), Gerry Hart (bass), Andy Wake (keyboards), Rick Anthony (vocals and guitar), Iain Stewart (drums) and Greg Sinclair (guitars). They are often generally described as indie rock but are known to utilize a variety of genres and styles. The band’s debut album Checkmate Savage was released in January 2009 (re-released on vinyl in January 2019) and the follow up The Wants in October 2010. In June 2014, the band released their third record, Strange Friend, followed by Fears Trending in January 2015.

The band initially performed and released material under various names, never sticking with the same band-name for long. In 2005, using the adopted name Robert Redford, the band released a one-off CDR titled The Mummy and Daddy Dance on their own temporary label Extreme Nudity, self-distributed to independent record outlets in the UK, before removing all reference to it from their online presence and reforming under a new name, Robert Louis Stevenson. The sought-after release now only changes hands on online auction sites, and the only element traceable from the band’s current incarnation is the presence of the track “Crocodile” (formerly “Crocodile Dundee”) on their 2009 album Checkmate Savage.

In 2006, the band began using The Phantom Band as their name (apparently in reference to their elusive activities up to that point) and, in 2007, released a 7″ single, “Throwing Bones”, on the London-based Trial & Error Recordings. The critical acclaim of this single, their first fully distributed release, was the impetus for their signing to Chemikal Underground.

The band began recording their debut album early in 2008. Despite planning on recording it in a few weeks in the labels Chem19 studios in Blantyre, the whole session ended up spanning many months and was mixed at Franz Ferdinand’s studios in Govan. Checkmate Savage was eventually released in January 2009 and it peaked on the UK Albums Chart at number 181 in February of that year. Early in 2010, the band once again returned to Chem19 to begin work on their second album.

The recording sessions for the band’s second album were quite difficult – even more so than the first record. Much of the music was written in the studio and under quite tight time constraints and this seems to have led to some difficulties within the band. Sometime in the summer of 2010, between the records completion and its release, the band parted ways with original drummer Damien Tonner.

The Wants was released in October 2010. On the day of its release the band travelled to the United States of America to appear at the CMJ festival in New York. Directly after this, the band supported Frightened Rabbit on a string of dates during their headline tour including shows in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, New York and Chicago. On returning to the United Kingdom the band embarked on a small tour of their own culminating in a sold-out show at Oran Mor in Glasgow.

In March 2011, they completed a two-month tour of Europe. Beginning in Ireland at the end of January the group then travelled through France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and Great Britain.

Throughout the summer of 2011 the band appeared on the stages of many UK and European festivals including: Latitude (Suffolk), The Great Escape Festival (Brighton), Friends of Mine (Manchester), Walk the Line (Den Haag), A.F.F. (Genk), Tramlines (Sheffield), Camden Crawl (London), Summer Sundae (Leicester), Belladrum (Inverness-shire) and T in the Park (Kinross-shire).

The band returned to the studio in 2013 to record the follow up to The Wants. Largely self-produced, their third record Strange Friend was released on 2 June 2014 followed by a short tour of the United Kingdom and several summer festival dates. Later in 2014 the band announced the release of their fourth studio album, Fears Trending. The album came out on 26 January 2015. It was recorded during the same sessions as the band’s previous album.

In October 2015 the band embarked on a European tour. They played in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Hamburg, Cologne, Luxembourg, Zurich, Paris and Lille. After the gig in Lille on 20 October 2015 all of the band’s equipment, worth over £13,000, was stolen from their tour van. The remaining dates of the tour in Brighton and Liverpool were cancelled and, despite strong support, the band have not played live since.”

JC adds……

I’m really not sure if The Phantom Band are still an entity, but I don’t think there’s ever been any formal announcement of a break-up.  But having said that, the official website is no longer active and, here’s a few words lifted from a newspaper interview given by Gerry Hart and Rick Anthony around the time that Checkmate Savage was given the vinyl re-release:-

Q: Is there any likelihood of the band adding to their four albums?

“Some people are keener than others,” says Hart, “but who’s keener depends what day of the week it is.”

“At that point in Lille we were thinking it would be good to have a break anyway,” says Anthony, who has released two solo albums under the alias of Rick Redbeard. “It was kind of cosmic. It was hard practising a couple of times a week and we were all working too.”

“When the band started it seemed to propel itself through whatever momentum was created by everyone getting together,” adds Marquiss, who also performs solo under his own name. “I think it’s good to allow it to tail off. The other challenge is it’s increasingly difficult to be able to afford to do it.”

“It would take a lot of energy to build it back up again,” concludes Anthony. “It’s nice to imagine we might release something ourselves but I don’t know if that’s likely.”

“That’s never going to happen,” Hart retorts quickly, smiling.

As such, the legacy is the four excellent albums alongside a couple of 7″ singles, all of which I reckon I’ll condense someday into an ICA.  In the meantime, here’s the single that was released on Trial and Error back in 2007:-

mp3: The Phantom Band – Throwing Bones

JC

40 YEARS AGO TODAY: FAC 33

It’s not 40 years since New Order‘s debut single was released, but it is 40 years to the day since it was recorded.

It’s times like this that I wish I had kept a diary with a log of all my purchases of singles and albums, as well as the gigs I went to.  I can’t recall when I bought my copy of Ceremony on 7″ vinyl, but I do know it was in the local record shop closest to my home in the east end of Glasgow.  I do know for certain that I didn’t get it on the day it was released……..

I was a regular browser in Tom Russell’s Record Shop on Shettleston Road, but I was more in the habit of picking up new singles from the city centre shops, or if it happened to be a 45 in the charts, I was likely to go to the local Woolworth’s as they could be a few pence cheaper in there.  I can’t ever recall seeing Ceremony anywhere until a copy found its way into the bargain bin at Tom Russell’s – even then I almost missed it as the bronze-coloured sleeve, with its difficult to read bronze coloured writing, was such that it didn’t automatically make me want to pick it up for a close glance (in my defence, at 17 years of age, all browsing was done at speed, and it was an era when I took my time over any non-picture sleeves so as to not miss out on something that I’d read about in one of the music papers that were the occasional reading material in the 6th Year common room at school.)

I’m sure it was down to 40 pence, which would have been less than half price.  I took it home with no great expectations. As with the Joy Division singles of previous years, there was only the very basic and minimal details on the sleeve.  The info on the label was, however, interesting, with each of FAC 33A and FAC33B being written by Joy Division which clearly meant Ian Curtis had been involved in some way.  I gave FAC33A a spin……and then another and another and maybe even one more, all the while wondering why the band had gone to the bother of changing its name.  Ceremony was an astonishing and moving piece of music, way better than I could ever have imagined, and it also sounded like a tribute to Ian, which is why my mind reckoned its writing had been attributed to the old band.  It sounded as if it had been written as a belated follow-up to Transmission, but with the tempo slowed down, possibly from Bernard not having the vocal capabilities of his late friend.

Flipping it over (eventually) and finding that In A Lonely Place sounded like a Joy Division out-take was one of those moments that froze me.  Singles, even their b-sides, aren’t supposed to be this morose and funereal, and I was sure on the second or third listen that I could make out Ian Curtis on backing vocals.   It was like a song that felt it should be used in conjunction with a Ouija Board, with the refrain of ‘How I Wish You Were Here With Me Now’  being genuinely terrifying to my teenage mind and imagination. I couldn’t have given an honest answer there and then if I had been asked ‘Do you like it?’

I took it to school the next day and gave it to a close friend whose musical tastes were more or less identical to mine.  He, too, was bemused by the sleeve, but I told him it would all make sense once he played it.  He brought it back the next day and when we spoke about his experience, it was clear his reaction to the A-side had been similar. But when it came to the b-side, he was quick to declare it a classic that wouldn’t have been out of place on Closer, offering the opinion that it was one which had maybe been recorded by the band but left off the final running order.  I think it’s fair to say that his initial view has stood the test of time.

After school, we took a bus into town and to track down another copy, finding success at Listen on Renfield Street, albeit he had to pay full price as this was a shop which had the space and capacity to store singles for extended periods of time long after their initial release.  The ancient bloke behind the counter (who was likely aged about 21) also told us it was out on 12″ vinyl but that the shop was currently out of stock which led to the two of us heading round other record shops, finally coming good at 23rd Precinct on Bath Street, a location that is now home to one of the best beer and spirits shops in all of Scotland.

I’ve still got my copy of that 12″ but the 7″ was lost in the great debacle of 1986 when the midnight flit from the rented accommodation was done in such a hurry/panic that boxes of 7″ singles were stupidly left behind in a cupboard.  I have, however, long since picked up a second-hand copy, from which these two bits of music have recently been ripped at 320kpbs.

mp3: New Order – Ceremony
mp3: New Order – In A Lonely Place

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #275: THE HARDY BOYS

Scottish Melancholy : The Lives and Times of The Hardy Boys

A guest posting by flimflanfan

(L to R: Ian, John, David, Derek, Kate and Michael)

Isn’t it funny how you can connect with a band but few, if any, or your friends can? You think you’ve found the second coming but all you receive in return from those friends is a collective shrug of the shoulders? That descriptor epitomises my initial relationship with The Hardy Boys. It’s a relationship that has proven considerably stronger than most of those other relationships and one that I am immensely thankful for.

The first time I saw The Hardy Boys live was supporting The Sandkings, at Rico’s, Greenock (1989). I was quite The Sandkings fan; however, my relationship with them was short-lived. The Sandkings, as I recall, were superb (worth the travel and sleeping on a friend’s floor) but The Hardy Boys were a revelation. I won’t do this description justice but … it was like watching The Smiths in a feisty punch-up with The Wedding Present.

The set that night was a thing of beauty – raw, rough, gnarly – but beautiful nonetheless. After the gig ended, I was introduced to the band by my friend who knew them well. I can only imagine how fawning I would have been. Jeez!

To end what was a superb night my friend gave me a copy of the Safe Houses (the previous incarnation of the band) flexi If I Should Die (it remains a firm favourite). I can’t for the life of me recall if I owned Wonderful Lie (Stella 5, 1989) prior to the gig or bought it immediately after – the latter seems more likely.

Wonderful Lie

Copies of the Stella 5 version of Wonderful Lie can reach eye watering prices but I wouldn’t part with mine. It was an e.p. I would constantly play to those I thought may be seduced by its charms and while there could be the odd appreciative nod, I never did get that ‘wow’ response I thought the e.p. deserved.

How Can You?

When the band split (1990) the proposed second single Let the World Smother You (Egg Records*) was shelved and didn’t see the light of day till 2005! However, songs from that single did appear on a cassette compilation of The Hardy Boys songs, Five Years of Boring Pop Songs (Elefant Records, 1992) and subsequently a download only reissue (Talent, 2010) with 4 less songs than the Elefant edition.

Let the World Smother You

The involvement of Elefant brought with it a whole new swathe of indie pop fans; one of whom would actually be asked to sing on what is, for now, the first and final studio l.p.

Fifteen

The collective interest I had wanted for the band in 1989 was, it would seem, a tad delayed but no less enthusiastic; over 20 years later, online indie and indie pop fanzines and forums were abuzz. The release of another compilation cd Songs from the Lenin and McCarthy Song Book (Zzzing Recording Company, 2010) consisted of songs from previous compilations and capitalized on this new found interest. It was a shrewd move by a band who had previously fallen foul to bouts of bad timing.

Wet Wednesday Evening

Although new Hardy Boys music was all but non-existent band members had been consistently pursuing other interests. The band reformed as Flame Up in 1991 splitting up in 1994 after releasing one 7” single, Mr God / Need I Say More (Talent, 1992). In 1995 Flame Up was somewhat resurrected with the release of a cdr entitled Nova Scotia. I can find no reference to this l.p. or another cdr the band refer to as Crank It but Discogs does list Studio Sessions 1991-1997 and Right Nelson Toronty!!! (both from John’s VivaGenius imprint). Michael, now living in Canada, continued his involvement with The Hardy Boys mastering and remastering releases.

John and David were both members of Mouse Eat Mouse – John leaving soon after David joined. They both played in Spy Movie and John went on to play bass with Wake the President.

Harbour Lights

John and I bumped into each other at a Spy Movie gig (13th Note, Glasgow I believe). He had no idea who I was (why would he?). As he uttered his first backing vocal, I knew immediately who he was. I remained mesmerised for the rest of the gig. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Spy Movie but that voice – I’d know it anywhere. I did speak with him re: our previous meeting – all those years ago – and the flame I continued to carry for The Hardy Boys. He was entirely aware of a resurgence in interest in the band and it was clear it was something he wished to explore.

Dear Seamus Heaney

In 2010 The Hardy Boys released their 2nd single (e.p. for the purists) Under the Piccadilly Clock (Bubblegum Records, 2010). I was utterly delighted with this pop tour de force. Yet another stunning piece of pop music and those vocals. Oh, those vocals. I was fortunate enough to hear a demo version (just John and guitar) of Dear Seamus Heaney; the hairs on the back on my neck stood to attention. Just wonderful.

Is It Really Four Years?

To think that British Melancholy is the band’s first and last studio l.p. is remarkable. Like Wonderful Lie before it, I had hoped for so much more for the band.

In 2011 the band played live in Glasgow. The last time I saw them live. While I have seen the band on a number of occasions this particular performance was just mind-blowing. There was what seemed like friction between David and John before the performance (which was later confirmed) and to be able to perform as well as they did – as astoundingly well as they did – in the circumstances speaks to their skill as musicians. Fans like me, those who had travelled from France, Spain and Germany just gushed. Rightly so. I was truly honoured to be in the audience.

Pole Star

A follow-up to British Melancholy was discussed. Sadly, Scottish Melancholy never materialised.

David had slated an l.p release ‘On the Road with the Enemy of God’ (Caroline True Records, 2013) under the moniker The Dark Mile. As far as I’m aware the l.p. was never released.

The Hardy Boys continued to simmer releasing a 12” vinyl copy of Wonderful Lie (Firestation Records, 2015).

Late in 2019 the original drummer, Ian McLachlan, died. Ian played drums with the band for three years between 1988 – 1990. He played on the ‘Wonderful Lie’ e.p., ‘Let the World Smother You’ and the majority of ‘The Hardy Boys Play the Lenin and McCarthy Songbook’. The band arranged a gig in memory for Ian in March 2020. For reasons we are all too familiar with the gig had to be postponed but will hopefully be rescheduled.

My reason for writing this piece about The Hardy Boys was borne from me citing (within this very blog) John White as my second favourite, Scottish, male singer after Billy MacKenzie. A statement I stand by. I have absolutely no understanding as to why a certain singer, songwriter, guitarist etc. can make such a significant, emotional, impact on individuals and I don’t feel I need to understand it. I just need to enjoy what is a highly personalised experience.

What I think is essential to say is that Misters David McArthur and John White are two of the most incredible songwriters that it has been my absolute pleasure to have stumbled upon. Lyrically, musically there’s few that come close.

The band always seemed so cohesive – a gang – a brood of brothers and sisters.

With Derek Mullen (bassist) consistently onboard they really made live performances seem such fun. There was always a sense of camaraderie, and I don’t doubt animosity, but as cliched as it sounds, they were very much a family with all the good and bad that that entails.

If the notion of hearing The Smiths in a feisty punch-up with The Wedding Present sounds intriguing then this is the band for you.

Rest, My Beautiful Muse (live)

Band members:

David McArthur guitars/vocals/bass
John White vocals/guitars
Ian McLachlan drums
Alan Bannister guitar/vocals
Michael Bonini keyboards
Derek Mullen bass
Kate Baker violin
Fiona Knowles cello
Paul McArthur drums/guitars/vocals
Karlyn King vocals

* Interestingly, the man who was behind Egg Records, Jim Kavanagh, was also the man behind the Glasgow based fanzine Simply Thrilled (’86 – ‘89), which was also resurrected as an online fanzine, in 2003, a year after he reprised Egg Records.

An informative interview (Penny Black Music, 2006) with Jim can be found here.

Flimflamfan

JC adds..

The Hardy Boys passed me completely by back in the day.  My first time hearing them would have been at one of the Little League nights that are always so much fun – I wouldn’t have known them while the song was being played (this being the pre-Shazam app era), but John would post his full playlists a few days later.

It was my dear friend Carlo, my sidekick at the Simply Thrilled club nights, who aired Wonderful Lie a few years ago after which I went out and obtained a copy of the Firestation Records reissue from 2015.  In recent times, I have been gifted copies of the releases on Bubbblegum Pop to my great delight.  The Hardy Boys were on the radar for an extensive posting during 2021, but given flimflanfan‘s extensive knowledge, it made sense to ask him to do the honours.  I really hope that, for those of you who are unfamiliar, The Hardy Boys are your ‘new’ favourite band from olden days.

BURNING BADGERS VINYL (Part 13): CUD

Burning Badgers Vinyl – The Lost EPs #3

Oh No Won’t Do – Cud (1991, A&M Records)

SWC writes……..

“He’s definitely still looking for us” I tell OPG, peeking out from behind the pillar behind the saucepans towards the security guard, who stupidly is looking the other way. If he turns around he will see my head looking at him. He doesn’t and I take cover again.

We are in Woolworths, the much-missed mish-mash of a store that sold everything from brightly coloured screwdrivers to the latest releases by Destinys Child. Woolworths also sold Pick n Mix, a hugely tempting collection of sweets in various flavours and wrappers. Woolworths in their wisdom stuck the Pick N Mix right at the front of their store. Meaning its perfectly possible to grab a handful of sweets on the way out of the store and leg it around the corner with your stolen booty.

OPG is not so subtle though. There is a reason for this. Neil. This is all his bloody fault.

Neil works in Woolworths. He and OPG have history. Sort of. In 1990 She got drunk on cheap cider at a Rotary club disco and snogged Neil outside the Salvation Army café in the High Street, before vomiting on his shoes. Neil apparently didn’t mind this though – OPG was his first love from the moment her cider stained lips touched his.

Neil has since asked OPG out some seven times and been rejected by OPG some seven times. This hasn’t stopped her using Neil’s vulnerable side to her advantage. Especially where the pick and mix are concerned. OPG simply wanders up to them and starts eating them right in front of Neil knowing full well that he won’t do anything about it. She does it every time. Only this time Neil wasn’t working, off sick with a cold apparently and as we stood there casually unwrapping our second or third green triangle and flicking through the music sections bargain bucket. I am just about to grab a 7 inch by The Candyskins when OPG whispers in my ear, “We need to move, now”.

The reason is that the security guard has been talking to one of the women who work in the store who has spied us gobbling down stolen bonbons, jelly snakes and the occasional fancy chocolate and is now on his way over to the music section. The obvious way out is blocked. Luckily for us, the Woolworths in Chatham High Street has an upstairs, housing a café and some toilets, so our plan is to hide in the toilets for ten minutes and then make a break for it. Which is what we do.

By the way, this is the second time (and last time) I’ve ever been inside a ladies toilet, with a young lady, the first being about a year earlier at a hotel in Rochester, at a birthday party, my girlfriend at the time, Claire, dumped me and ran into the ladies toilets crying. Then a lad called Danny (the same one who interrupted my first kiss) pushed me into the toilet so I could sort it all out. An act which did save that relationship for about a week. Both toilets were an odd shade of pink.

Anyway, I digress, there we sat, literally no one came in. Ten minutes past and we decide to make a break for it. The new plan was to get to the big pillar and starburst (if that’s possible in a group of two) out of there and meet up by the cinema in fifteen minutes. OPG went first, cleverly she spied an old lady coming out of the lift and ran over to it and leapt inside. The doors closed and she was gone. Now I was on my own, my hands were sweating, I felt like a criminal on the run.

Which I suppose I was.

I hold my breath and literally creep towards the stairs, an unsuspecting old couple provide me with a nice bit of cover before I dart behind the stationary shelving. There I pause, briefly noting the price of a New Kids on the Block pencil case, in case my sister wants one for Christmas (£3.99) before I walk out into the open. There is about 50 feet or so between me and freedom, I can smell it, although I reckon that the smell might be the KFC three doors up. There is a guard is to my right so I stay as far left as I can (good advice, in general, that) and edge closer and closer. I am twenty feet away when the guard looks up and shouts “STOP”.

Then the unbelievable happens.

A kid about five foot away, drops about a kilo of Pick n Mix and turns and absolutely legs it towards the exit, crashing through a display of plasticine related goods as he does. The guard looks at me, shouts “Next Time!” and legs it after the kid. I nonchalantly look around as if to see who the guard was speaking at and stroll out of the doors a free man and into the arms of the waiting OPG at the cinema.

All of which Bonnie and Clyde related shenanigans bring us to the third EP in the series of Lost EPs that I have found in Badger Big Box of Records. It is ‘Oh No Won’t Do’ EP the (I think) debut major label EP by everyone’s (well, nearly) favourite quirky indie band, Cud.

I’ve said before about how OPG loved Cud and in the late eighties and the very early nineties Cud were something like the best-kept secret in indie-pop. In the early 90s Cud, sort of emerged from the cupboard and were on the cusp. The band were somehow teetering on the edge of stardom. They went from making stupid (yet brilliant) indie-pop songs about ‘Prawns in Whitby to full-on pop classics like ‘Robinson Crusoe’.

Their fanbase had suddenly grown legs and the Top 40 was beckoning them like a Black Friday Mega Offer. The band signed to a major label (A&M) with one intention. Megastardom.

‘Oh No Won’t Do’ was supposed to set the groundworks for the band’s attempt at megastardom. It got radio play, it was released in a limited box set (more of that later) and a tour was launched to support its release.

But, this is Cud, and it didn’t happen. The EP stalled at around Number 50 and no amount of sales gimmicks and radio play was going to push it any higher.

Now back to that limited-edition box set. OPG owned the boxset I remember her playing it in her bedroom one night before we went to a party. The boxset looks massively different to miserable looking 7” than was inside Badgers Box. The limited-edition box set came in a little cardboard box. Inside the box was the 7”, a set of Cud postage stamps and a ‘Map of the World According to Cud’.

I sort of miss the nonsense you used to get with records. They were all blatant attempts by the record companies to sell you records. The cynical part of me used to think that if a record needed to add a map of the world to it to make people buy it then it probably wasn’t worth buying but some of them were fun.

I remember another Cud record (‘Through the Roof’ perhaps?) that came with one of those dangling mobile things that babies have above their cots. I used to own a Pulp CD that came with a free sewing pattern and the quickly forgotten Kent band, Airhead, used to produce a comic with every 12” they released. I’m not sure records come with all that sort of stuff anymore, which seems a shame.

Here are the four tracks from the ‘Oh No Won’t Do’ EP.

mp3: Oh No Won’t Do
mp3: Ariel
mp3: Profession
mp3: The Price of Love

SWC

THE ART OF THE COMPANY PRESS RELEASE (2)

It was around this time last month that I offered up details of the bewildering and baffling press release for Oh! Brother by The Fall, released as a single in June 1984.

Without the threat of turning this into any sort of series, I thought I’d now provide an example of the more understandable and straightforward press release, although I should warn you that there is a fair use of poetic license in many of its sentences, issued on 24 September 1980:-

VIRGIN information

SKIDS – IT’S ALL SCOTTISH TO THEM

While The Skids are strutting and leaping around the nation’s concert halls and school-yards over the next month, and their third album ‘The Absolute Game’ comes rocketing into the charts at number 9, Virgin, recognising a winning streak, gear up for the next Skids single.

‘Goodbye Civilian’ which is lifted from the album and sees release on October 3, is another of those typically rousing terrace anthems which takes Scottish jungle music to an ever-widening and appreciative audience. A much jauntier number than its predecessor ‘ Circus Games’, and with some liberal dollops of synthesizer, ‘Goodbye Civilian’ firmly cements the band’s burgeoning reputation as the most exciting band to move into the first division this year.

The flip ‘Monkey McGuire Meets Specky Potter Behind Lochore Institute’ is a rousing instrumental thrash. According to Richard Jobson, aged 49 and 5ft., ‘Monkey McGuire’ is a Dunfermline (Skids home town) jockey who never quite made it. ‘Specky Potter’, says Skids’ guitarist Stuart Adamson, is quite simply a genius. “He’s the innovator of the infamous guitar strap breaking technique and is a legend in his own drinking time. The man’s ageless and he’s the cult hero of Dunfermline’s Belleville Hotel”

Speaking of Skids’ watering holes, Lochore Institute is a working man’s club situated between Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, and wee Richard Jobson has been known to sink more than a few ales with friends within its precincts. What else do you expect an instrumental to be about?

mp3: The Skids – Goodbye Civilian (single version)
mp3: The Skids – Monkey McGuire Meets Specky Potter Behind Lochore Institute

Both taken from at least a second-hand copy, which is a bit battered, worn, and crackly.  Keepin’ it real…….

Despite the best efforts of the PR folk, the single was a relative flop, only reaching #52.  Indeed, the aforementioned Circus Games would prove to be the last time The Skids had any impact on the singles chart, and even that only reached #32.

 JC

 

GIVING THE PEOPLE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT: DAVID GEDGE

It was back on 22 December 2020 that Middle-Aged Man, in offering up praise for JTFL‘s ICA of opening tracks by Elvis Costello, thought out loud and suggested he was struggling to think of any artists/bands that have released over 10 albums where the first tracks are worthy of inclusion in an ICA.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I offer up the thought that David Gedge, through The Wedding Present and Cinerama, has done so.  And this is without including compilation albums…..

SIDE A

1) Dalliance (Seamonsters, 1991)
2) Maniac (Va Va Voom, 1998)
3) Brassneck (Bizarro, 1989)
4) You’re Dead (Valentina, 2012)
5) 146 Degrees (Disco Valente, 2000)

SIDE B

1) On Ramp/Interstate 5 (Take Fountain, 2005)
2) And When She Was Bad (Torino, 2002)
3) Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft (George Best, 1987)
4) Venus (Saturnalia, 1996)
5) Santa Ana Winds (El Rey, 2008)

JC

David Gedge’s ICA from Opening Tracks: Side A (22:45)
David Gedge’s ICA from Opening Tracks: Side B (22:46)

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 28)

Sometimes, no matter how much it pisses you off that they came up with a new ploy to find ways of having fans part with money, you have to admire the way the marketing gurus at Warner Bros went about things when it came to R.E.M.

The Robster mentioned a few weeks back that Find The River, a sixth single lifted from Automatic…, had bombed by only reaching #54, the first such failure since the release of Losing My Religion.  Such an outcome would surely have stopped the idea of a fifth single being lifted from Monster, especially when so many critics and fans were failing to really warm to the album; but on 17 July 1995, just as the band was about to arrive in the UK for a week of outdoor stadium gigs they pulled off a masterstroke by branding the 7″ edition of Tongue as a ‘Limited Edition 1995 Tour Souvenir’, complete with a 12-page booklet of photos and quotes from all the band members about how much of a joy it was to be playing live again.

It led to plenty of fans, including many without a turntable on which to play the single, going out and making a purchase, thus helping to propel it to #13 in a week where it was impossible to escape REM-mania across the UK media in all its forms.

Before turning to the single, it’s worth mentioning, in passing, the bands who were on the undercard for these shows as it’s almost a full house in the emerging Britpop stakes, along with a couple of alt acts from the States:-

23 July: Cardiff – Del Amitri, Belly, The Cranberries
25 July: Huddersfield – The Beautiful South, Belly, Magnapop
26 July: Huddersfield – Echobelly, Terrorvision, The Beautiful South
27 July: Edinburgh – Belly, Spearhead, The Cranberries
29 July: Milton Keynes – Magnapop, Belly, Blur
30 July: Milton Keynes – Sleeper, The Cranberries, Radiohead

But what of Tongue itself?

It’s the slowest slow song on Monster, but it is as far removed from the ballads that had gone down a storm on Automatic. It’s sung in a falsetto, very unlike any other Michael Stipe delivery prior to this. It’s sung over a very slow, almost soulful tune with both a piano and organ being most prominent – there’s barely a hint of any guitars for the most part.

It is, without any question, one of the most disturbing lyrics that he has ever penned, particularly the opening verse:-

Call my name, here I come
90 to nothing, watch me run
You call
I am ashamed to say
Ugly girls know their fate
Anybody can get laid
You want a room with a fire escape
I want to tell you how much I hate this

Stipe has faced a lot of questions regarding the song over the years, and while he has often been reluctant to go into much detail about any of his compositions, he wanted to make sure nobody got ambiguous with this one. It is from the perspective of someone who recognises that they are in an abusive relationship in which they would, without hesitation, meet up for casual and, what always turned out to be, unfulfilling sex. I don’t think he has ever said it was specifically from the perspective of a woman but I think Peter Buck once said that it was, which is why the vocal was delivered falsetto.

The lyrics don’t get any easier as the song progresses – listeners can use their imagination about how messy the sex is and can draw their own conclusions about why it has the title of Tongue when the word isn’t used in the song.

Despite all this, the song was one of the first that I thought could be considered memorable on the initial listens of the album, primarily as it was so unlike any other R.E.M. song, allied to the fact that it was a fabulous and understated tune. But, I’d never have imagined it being issued as a single…..

mp3: R.E.M. – Tongue

As you’ll have seen from the most recent entries in this series, the previous singles from Monster had all been filled with instrumental versions on the b-side of the 7″ vinyl while the CD versions contained live tracks taken from the Greenpeace benefit concert held at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia in November 1992. The problem for the CD of Tongue, and this is another reason why I think it was never a long-term plan to issue it as a single, was that all the songs from that gig had now been used. In other words, the well was dry. But Warner Bros had friends in the entertainment industry who proved willing to help out:-

mp3: R.E.M. – Tongue (instrumental)
mp3: R.E.M. – What’s The Frequency Kenneth (Saturday Night Live)
mp3: R.E.M. – Bang and Blame (Saturday Night Live)
mp3: R.E.M. – I Don’t Sleep, I Dream (Saturday Night Live)

The band had appeared on the iconic show on Saturday 12 November 1994, as part of the initial promotion of Monster, the first time they had played live together, in public, in over a year.

As for the bonus remix…..well Scott Litt didn’t really have too much to play with given how little was going on with the original version. But he makes the sound a bit less muddy and brings the guitar notes higher up in the mix, as well as adding some backing vocals as if to emphasise that, deep down, Tongue is a soul number at heart, albeit a very sad one:-

mp3: R.E.M. – Tongue (remix)

The end result is a lovely and enjoyable listen which I find myself preferring to the original, possibly as it sounds as if could have fitted perfectly onto New Adventures In H-Fi, the next album that would be released by R.E.M. and which, if pushed, I’d say was my particular favourite, which often seems to surprise folk when I say that.

Robster is back next week with a brief overview of the album along with the first of its singles.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #243: THE PETTED LIPS

“Park Lane Studio in Glasgow was host to many young bands in the 80’s, often making their first recordings and still seeking a record deal. Some became successful, and a vibrant scene soon developed centred around the studio.
Now the studio archives have been prised open and a treasure trove of fascinating and unreleased tapes discovered. This album offers a unique glimpse into the history of the studio and the bands that recorded there.”

Track 16 on this compilation, released in 2009, is, to the best of my knowledge, the only recording by the band in question:-

The Petted Lips: an unsigned band featuring Park Lane studio manager Fiona Palmer together with John Palmer who played with Deacon Blue, and others. Fiona’s brother Graeme Duffin is a member of Wet Wet Wet, who provided the studio with their first number-one single – their Childline benefit song ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ came out of Park Lane.

mp3: The Petted Lips – Somebody

It’s got that early-mid 80s feel about it, not far removed from the likes of Sunset Gun or His Latest Flame, who both got signed by major labels.

I’ve hunted high and low but can’t find any mention of The Petted Lips outside of the booklet that accompanied the release of this CD.

JC

WHEN LLOYD MET MATT

Matt Johnson, in conversation, 2008

“Lloyd and I used to have small studios/offices down the corridor from each other at Harold Dessau studios in downtown New York. It was like a sort of miniature, funky Brill building really. They had a main studio, which is where I recorded much of NakedSelf, and a nice rehearsal space, plus also a bunch of rooms that people would rent for their own use over the long term. It was a great place with a wonderful atmosphere. Lots of wooden floors, high ceilings, dusty velvet curtains and slow-moving ceiling fans. Totally unsuited to being a studio in a technical way but with a really warm and inspiring atmosphere.

It was my favourite studio outside my own place in London. We all really, really loved it down there, but sadly it’s since been demolished. There were quite a few people in there at its height from the mid to late 90’s and many of us would often pop into each other’s rooms to borrow equipment or just have a chat and a cup of tea. Lloyd and myself would often do that of a morning, bitching and moaning about the state of the industry or Britain or raving about some new piece of equipment or whatever. I sang on his album first I think and then he returned the favour by singing on GlobalEyes on NakedSelf, although his album came out quite a bit after mine.”

Matt is spot on in terms of the sequencing of the songs.  NakedSelf was released in 2000, while Memphis, the Lloyd Cole song on which he contributed a vocal, didn’t come out until 2002 on the album Etc.

mp3: The The – GlobalEyes
mp3: Lloyd Cole – Memphis

A couple of things.  LC’s contribution is very much as a backing vocalist among others and you’d be hard pushed to pick him out. MJ’s vocal on Memphis is also of the backing variety, but he’s on his own and you can just about recognise that it is him.  Oh, and Memphis was written by the actress Karen Black, which she sang, in character as country singer Connie White, in the 1975 film Nashville, directed by Robert Altman.

JC

 

RIPPING BADGERS CDs (Part 3): CORNERSHOP

Ripping Badgers CDs
The nearly finished A to Z Charity Shop CD Challenge #3

Handcream For A Generation (1988, Go! Discs)
Bought from Oxfam, Teignmouth for £1.99

I’ve mentioned before the two Indian Brothers who moved into the house next door to my Dad when I was 14. The two brothers (who I am going to call Bill and Bob) later bought the small newsagents next door to the 24-hour garage, where I worked for them for four years on and off. At the time Bill was 23 and Bob was 21. I’m only half-joking when I say that within six months of Bill and Bob owning it, the newsagents became a front for a medium-sized criminal enterprise.

I lost count of the number of random cousins that would turn up at the shop at around 7am on a Thursday morning carrying black bin bags and then leave ten minutes later without the bin bag. Bob the younger of the brothers would then disappear into the storeroom attached to the end of the shop and come back a few minutes later, often wearing a new watch or a new piece of jewellery.

I also lost count of the amount of time Bill – the older, bigger, more muscular brother, would suddenly get a call to the shop phone and would have to dash off to the ‘Cash and Carry’ despite it being 6.30am on a Sunday and the Cash and Carry was shut for at least another three hours He would come back two hours later, in different clothes, and sporting bruised knuckles.

On New Years Day 1993 I found out why you didn’t mess with them (I mean I didn’t anyway). I arrived for work around 7am, having come direct from OPG’s house – I was slightly hungover. Bill was the only brother there and he was pretty hungover. Around eight, Bill said he was ‘popping next door for breakfast’. He said he would be five minutes.

Two minutes later, a lad called Gavin entered the store. I knew Gavin. Sort of. He lived in the children’s home around the corner from the shop. Gavin was 16 and a testosterone fuelled ball of evil. He strolled up to the counter and asked me for Ten Benson and Hedges, which I gave him. He then stood down by the magazines and for the next ten minutes he stood there leafing through the top-shelf magazines. It slowly dawned on me that something was going on, Gavin had started making a small pile of magazines. It was clear he was going to make a run for it with the mags.

I managed to position myself between Gavin and the door and as predicted he turned to ran towards the door. Sadly for me, Gavin left his right hand free and he whacked me hard and fast once to the stomach. Which winded me and made me heave up about two pints of lasts night cider.

Sadly for Gavin, he ran straight into the looming figure of Bill, who despite being way more hungover than me, didn’t collapse to the floor after a whack in the belly. I remember Bill grabbing Gavin by the arm and throwing him back into the shop like he was box of biscuits.

Five minutes later, Gavin was in sitting in the back of the shop sobbing, he was unhurt. Bob had arrived with three other lads. Bob looked at me, chucked me a copy of the Mirror and told me to deliver it to Rami’s dad. Rami lived a good thirty-minute walk away. Rami was also one of three guys who turned up with Bob.

An hour later I walked back into the shop. Bill was alone and I asked him what had happened. He looked at me and smiled. I asked again. This is as much of the conversation as I can remember.

“Nothing” he said with a laugh. “The five of us shut the shop, pulled the blinds down and just stood there in silence, arms folded, every now and again Rami would shout something in Punjabi at him. Usually words like ‘Potato’ or ‘chocolate sauce’, we don’t speak much Punjabi really”.

I looked at him, not sure if I believed him or not. Bill went on, taking a huge drag on the cigarette he’d produced from somewhere.

“After about ten minutes Bob and the other three left, leaving just me. I’m the biggest you see. He just kept telling me how sorry he was. So I thought, here’s a good idea. I told him that if he was really sorry he could work for me until he’s paid back the value of what he tried to nick”.

And with that Bill got up and walked to the back of the shop and opened the door. There out the back was Gavin, on New Years Day in the freezing cold, pulling up stinging nettles from the patch of ground between the shop and the fence belonging to the garage.

“We were never to going to hurt him, he’s a kid. So I taught him some respect.”

Bob is now a taxi driver in Chatham. He and his brother sold the shop in 2004. In 2010 a Domino’s Pizza moved into the premises. Bill, moved to Chennai in India in 2006, where he married and now owns a herb farm. Not that type of ‘herb’.

All of which chin-stroking and message giving brings us to the third CD in the nearly finished charity shop challenge, which is of course ‘Handcream For A Generation’, the fourth studio album by Cornershop, and I apologise for the horrific stereotype around Cornershops that I have heavily relied upon above.

‘Handcream… is the album that followed the all-conquering Britpop squashing ‘When I Was Born for the Seventh Time’. It is a huge melting pot of different musical ideas, sounds and blends. Something which we came to expect from Cornershop, around this time. Certainly, it’s a long way from their early punky gigs in which guitars were out of tune, and barely played correctly.

This album goes starts with funky soul and introduces a children’s choir by track two.

mp3: Staging the Plaguing of the Raised Platform – Cornershop

Then before you get halfway you’ve been taken through deep house, reggae, dub and a little bit of indie rock. At times Cornershop appear to be trying to sound like ‘Homework’ era Daft Punk. Trying and succeeding if you ask me. I mean who else apart from Daft Punk could intersperse snippets from an in-flight attendant into a piece of music and make it work?

mp3 – London Radar – Cornershop

The band I think were always expected to produce ‘Brimful of Asha’ part two, a big full on anthem with a sing a long chorus that earns them loads of radio play and all that. But this is Cornershop and they don’t do that.
I suppose there is always this one. (JC interjects…..the one that pays tribute to T.Rex and glam-rock)

mp3: – Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III – Cornershop

The second half of the album is slightly more psychedelic than the first and no more so than ‘Spectral Mornings’. In which Noel Gallagher is drafted in to channel his inner George Harrison, on a fourteen minute overblown sitar inspired wig out (its easily seven minutes too long). A song that I always expect to see featured on one of the ‘Mondays Long Song’ series that run concurrently across various blogs at the moment.

mp3: Spectral Mornings – Cornershop

I only own two Cornershop albums, the two I have mentioned on this piece. My opinion on them changes on a regular basis. At times I think ‘Handcream…’ is way too clever for its own good, and tracks like ‘Spectral Mornings’ are smug and cumbersome. Today when I’ve spun this in the background whilst writing I think it’s a work of genius, a kind of world music disco intended to make us dance, think and smile.

Apart from ‘Spectral Mornings’ that’s still seven minutes too long.

SWC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #274 : SAUERKRAUT INSTEAD OF PORRIDGE

or
Learn German with Songs: 10 Classic German Music Hits That You Ought To Know!

A guest posting by Dirk (Sexy Loser)

Hello friends,

Well, yes, it took a while, didn’t it? But here it is, yet another ICA from me – and rather a different one perhaps, it must be said.

The reason for the delay was that I had to wait for a re-confirmation from the European Judicial Cooperation Unit in The Hague, Netherlands, to be officially entitled to send it in. Basically they said that as long as the UK’s status within the EU is still unclear it might not comply with legal requirements to have an ICA like this (German tunes only) being issued by a UK blogger before the effective date of the policy endorsement: January 1st, 2021. I assume by now you have already guessed what I am talking about? Right, blame it on Brexit or, if you’d rather, on wunnerful Boris!

On him and on Brexit and on this other issue, Corona. Thankfully we all managed to stay safe and healthy here in Sexyloserland, it has to be said though that with all that home office (i.e. spending half of the day lying virtually motionless on the sofa watching ‘Dr. House’ without cessation), supporting local restaurants (i.e. ordering unhealthy fast food every other day in order to eat it on the sofa whilst watching more ‘Dr. House’) plus having had the strong patriotic feeling that the German beer industry also needed massive support from my side, my obeseness has nearly reached a level which entitles me to join the next season of ‘The Biggest Loser’. Consequentially I went to bed early last year and couldn’t be arsed to spend time in front of the PC, to care for new music or even much of old music a great deal.

But things will change from today on, of course: the new year has begun, the vaccine is available and if the German health minister doesn’t fail completely with its distribution (as of today he certainly does everything to fuck it up big time though, it must be said), there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, whenever people of my age will be able to see said light (read: get the vaccine). Ask me again in a year or so …

But okay, enough of this! This ICA has been spinning around my head for quite a while, but along with never getting around to starting it, I could never decide which songs to include, or rather, to exclude. As mentioned previously, it’s all German bands, all songs sung in German. There’s a shitload of brilliant German bands who sing in English, but those aren’t featured. Also the usual suspects are not featured, so those of you who are already looking forward to krautrock, Kraftwerk or Nena: sorry indeed!

I mean, it’s clear to me that at the end of the day this ICA might very well just meet with the approval of Walter and the rest of you will skip it without hesitation anyway. Then again this might turn out to be a mistake: even though the lyrics will possibly remain a mystery, the songs are worth getting heard, all of them! I could offer translations, but hey, there’s Google Translator for you if you’re interested. Also it will give you a feeling of my 40-year-difficulties in trying to understand what bands from, say, Scotland or Liverpool are trying to tell me.

But enough of that, here we go

S.Y.P.H. – ‘Der Letzte Held’ (’85)

S.Y.P.H. were original German punk contenders, starting in Solingen in 1977. Their founding members later went to form or join other great bands, such as Mittagspause, Propaganda or Die Krupps.

‘Der Letzte Held’ (‘The Last Hero’) tells us the story of a bloke who lives in the city, apparently still following his ideals which seem to be rather outdated though. Although it isn’t being mentioned in the lyrics, he might be an old punk perhaps. People laugh at him because of what he is and stands for and basically he has become a reject of society – he doesn’t realize this though. Or he just doesn’t care.

Über ihn haben alle gelacht, über ihn werden Witze gemacht
Samstagnacht in der Innenstadt isst er sich so richtig satt
Er wartet und muss an allen Ecken hoffen dass andere für ihn verrecken
Greift den Leuten in die Ohren, lässt sich Grimassen in die Ohren bohren
Er schlürft daher mit seinem Gesicht, in den Pfützen sieht er’s nicht
Zieht die Nase durch den Dreck, unser kleiner Bürgerschreck
Er ist der letzte Held auf unseren Straßen, einer von denen, den sie vergaßen
Bei der Reinigung wegzufegen und in den Schrank zurück zu legen
Die Großstadt ist seine Unterkunft, hier schreit er nach einer Unvernunft
Doch die Straßen bleiben still weil keiner davon wissen will
Er kotzt vor jedem deutschen Haus ein Stückchen seiner Kultur heraus
Doch keiner dreht sich um zu seinem Universum
Über ihn haben alle gelacht, über ihn werden Witze gemacht
Samstagnacht in der Innenstadt isst er sich so richtig satt
Er ist der letzte Held auf unseren Straßen, einer von denen, den sie vergaßen
Bei der Reinigung wegzufegen und in den Schrank zurück zu legen
Er ist der letzte Held auf unseren Straßen, einer von denen, den sie vergaßen
Bei der Reinigung wegzufegen und in den Schrank zurück zu legen
Er ist der letzte Held auf unseren Straßen, einer von denen, den sie vergaßen
Bei der Reinigung wegzufegen und in den Schrank zurück zu legen
Zu den Kollegen zurück zu legen
Er ist der letzte Held auf unseren Straßen
Er ist der letzte Held auf unseren Straßen
Einer von denen, den sie vergaßen
Bei der Reinigung wegzufegen und in den Schrank zurück zu legen
Und in die letzte Ecke zu fegen
Er ist der letzte Held

S-Chords – ‚Voran! Voran!‘ (’86)

It is nearly impossible to ascertain any information about the S-Chords on the internet. And this is a real shame, because in my humble opinion this song here might possibly be is my favorite German one. The S-Chords are definitely Düsseldorf’s finest, that’s for sure, and for those of you who expected me to say this about Die Toten Hosen – forget about it: they sucked from their second single on, and this was released back in 1982. Perhaps this song is so good because it was written by Peter Schiffers, ex guitarist from Stunde X, again a superior German outfit.
‘Voran! Voran!’ translates as ‚Ahead! Ahead!’, and by and large this is the song’s only message: never look back, don’t dream about the past and its mistakes, just look ahead because life has to go on:

Der Glanz von einst ist längst verblasst
Doch der neue Anfang ist noch nicht verpasst
Noch bleibt Zeit etwas zu tun
Keine Sekunde uns auszuruhen
Nichts bleibt wie es einmal war
Wir hoffen auf was Neues, doch was, das ist nicht klar
Kein Blick zurück im Zorn
Alle Augen richten sich nach vorn
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Schaue nach vorn
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Denn es muss weitergehen
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Schaue nach vorn
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Denn es muss weitergehen
Denn es muss weitergehen
Erinnerungen, Fotos und Nostalgie
Versetzen uns nur in Apathie
Du hast geglaubt es wär‘ vorbei
Was hast du dir bloß gedacht dabei?
Du fragst nach dem Weg, wo geht es lang?
Keine Ahnung – unsere Losung heißt ‚Voran, Voran!‘
Du fragst nach dem Weg, wo geht es lang?
Keine Ahnung – unsere Losung heißt ‚Voran, Voran!‘
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Schaue nach vorn
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Denn es muss weitergehen
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Schaue nach vorn
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Denn es muss weitergehen
Denn es muss weitergehen
Voran, Voran! (x 6)
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Schaue nach vorn
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Denn es muss weitergehen
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Schaue nach vorn
Dreh‘ dich nicht um, bleib‘ nicht stehen
Denn es muss weitergehen (x 4)

Die Lassie Singers – ‚P.A.R.A.N.O.I.D.‘ (’92)

Die Lassie Singers came from Berlin and were active from ’88 to ’98. I once saw them live in the early 90’s and what a wonderful gig this was! They were styled ‘the first German girl-band’, and there’s an element of truth in that.
‘P.A.R.A.N.O.I.D.’ comes from their second album, ‚Sei A Go Go‘, which I recommend without any reservation in its entirety. In it, as in most of their songs, they describe boy/girl -relation difficulties, or rather girl/boy – relation difficulties. Here it’s even somewhat different, so much so that Kathrin (on main vocals) heavily complains about her life and men in general, but the other girls, instead of helping her, blame her for her own misery.

100.000 Horrorhelden spielen in mir Stummer Zoo
Gar nicht wahr – du lässt dich gehen
Menschen machen sich Geschenke und ich weiß‘ nicht mal wo
Schau doch nach, schau einfach nach
Ich werd‘ nicht wach, wo soll das enden?
P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
Vergesst mich nicht, lasst mich nicht hier
P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d. – P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
Was ist los?
Verdammt noch mal, was für ein Hundeleben!
Sei Motor
Was heißt Motor, ich bin so daneben
Du bist ein alter Jammerlappen
Nein
Doch
Nein
Doch
Nein
Scheiss egal
Was heißt egal, ich macht es euch ganz schön leicht
Hör doch mal
Ja, ich hör‘ auf, weil’s mir sowieso reicht
Nebelsumpfgasschabe, du bist p.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
Alle wollen nur bei mir duschen, seh‘ ich aus wie ein Hotel?
Sei Hotel, sei du Hotel
Dann leihen sie sich Langspielplatten, keiner will was sexuell
Kann nicht sein, das liegt an dir
Alle wollen was von mir haben
P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
Keiner will was von mir wissen
P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d. P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
Was ist los?
Verdammt noch mal, was für ein Hundeleben!
Sei Motor
Was heißt Motor, ich bin so daneben
Du bist ein alter Jammerlappen
Gar nicht
Doch
Nein
Doch
Nein
Scheiss egal
Was heißt egal, ich macht es euch ganz schön leicht
Hör doch mal
Ja, ich hör‘ auf, weil’s mir sowieso reicht
Nebelsumpfgasschabe, du bist p.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
klugesau
blödesau
minmeochsau
lassmichinruhe

Alle wollen was von mir haben
P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
Keiner will was von mir wissen
P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d. P.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.
Was ist los?
Verdammt noch mal, was für ein Hundeleben!
Sei Motor
Was heißt Motor, ich bin so daneben
Du bist ein alter Jammerlappen
Nöö
Doch
Nöö
Doch
Nein
Scheiss egal
Was heißt egal, ich macht es euch ganz schön leicht
Hör doch mal
Ja, ich hör‘ auf, weil’s mir sowieso reicht
Nebelsumpfgasschabe, du bist p.a.r.a.n.o.i.d.

Die Sterne – ‚Universal Tellerwäscher‘ (Singlemix ’94)

Hamburger Schule for you, friends. Or ‘School of Hamburg’, if you’d rather. This is what ‘this kind of music’ was called at the time, bands didn’t necessarily have to come from Hamburg though (albeit Die Sterne actually came from there): intellectual indie pop with German lyrics was the main criteria in order to become part of Hamburger Schule basically. A great band, clever lyrics, and still active these days.

‘Universal Tellerwäscher’ (‘Universal Dishwasher’) describes how the singer’s life changed from rather good to rather bad, so bad at least that he now works as a dishwasher in the Universal film studios.

Er hat immer Hunger
Er muß immer essen
Er muß wohnen und schlafen
Und vergessen
Dass gestern wie heute wird
Heute wie morgen
Und dass in diesem Laden herzlich wenig passiert
Er drängelt sich in Bahnen
Und schubst sich aus dem Haus
In die Gegend wo man ihn erwartet
Und verbraucht
Er kennt sich schon lange
Und kann sich nicht mehr sehen
Dabei gibt es wirklich 1000 schöne Filme über ihn
Als den Universal Tellerwäscher
In den Studios
Er wäscht wirklich Teller
Er tut nicht so
Ich hatte Haben
Ich hatte Geld gespart
Ich lief durch die Phasen
War im Apparat
In diesem und jenem
Um nicht alle zu nennen
Ich lief auf der Stelle
Und fing an zu rennen
Nichts hat geholfen
Ich hab alles verspielt
Die Tage sehen gleich aus
Es sind zu viel
Jeder Tag ist ein Verfahren
Gegen mich
Ich weiß nicht warum und wer
Sich was davon verspricht
Ich möchte einen Anwalt
Ich will Geld
Und ich möchte Gottverdammtnochmal
Dass jemand sein Versprechen hält
Universal Tellerwäscher
In den Studios
Ich wasche wirklich Teller
Ich tu nicht so
Er hat immer Hunger
Er muß immer essen
Er muß wohnen und schlafen
Und er muss vergessen
Dass gestern wie heute wird
Heute wie morgen
Und dass in diesem Laden herzlich wenig passiert
Er drängelt sich in Bahnen
Und schubst sich aus dem Haus
In die Gegend wo man ihn erwartet
Und verbraucht
Er kennt sich schon lange
Und kann sich nicht mehr sehen
Dabei gibt es wirklich 1000 schöne Filme über ihn
Als den Universal Tellerwäscher
In den Studios
Er wäscht wirklich Teller
Er tut nicht so
Universal Tellerwäscher
In den Studios
Er wäscht wirklich Teller
Er tut nicht so
Universal Tellerwäscher
In den Studios
Er wäscht wirklich Teller
Er tut nicht so
Universal Tellerwäscher
In den Studios
Er wäscht wirklich Teller
Er tut nicht so

Tocotronic – ‚Wir Sind Hier Nicht In Seattle, Dirk‘ (’95)

More Hamburger Schule, and – like Die Sterne – Tocotronic came from Hamburg, too. Also they are still active today, at least as far as I know.

The song (‘We Are Not In Seattle Here, Dirk’) has not been chosen because my name is being mentioned in the title (the singer is called Dirk as well, Dirk von Lowtzow, that’s why). No, I picked it because it’s my favorite from their debut album, ‘Digital Ist Besser’. I say ‘favorite’, but that’s a hard choice, I mean, all songs are wonderful and everyone who sees this album as a milestone of German music history is entirely right, of course.

The lyrics, well, are rather simple: Dirk doubts and/or overestimates his own musical abilities (“ and quite rightly so”, I hear you say: oh, go away!) and his girlfriend tells him not to be so negative about himself: go back to basics, she says, and stop pretending something to yourself which will never happen anyway …

Sie hat zwei Beine
Und sie hat zwei Augen
Und aus denen kann sie schauen
Und sie schaut zu mir
Und ich bin alleine
Und hab’ kein Vertrauen
Und kann Melodien klauen
Und sie sagt zu mir
Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk
Und werden es auch niemals sein
Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk
Was bildest du dir ein?
Was nicht ist, kann niemals sein
Ich spring’ über meinen Schatten
Und sie hat gut lachen
Was machst du denn für Sachen?
Was kann ich dafür?
Und alles, was wir hatten
Und alles, was wir machen
Schätzchen lass es krachen
Und komm zu mir
Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk
Und werden es auch niemals sein
Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk
Was bildest du dir ein?
Was nicht ist, kann niemals sein
Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk
Und werden es auch niemals sein
Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk
Was bildest du dir ein?
Was nicht ist, kann niemals sein
Niemals sein

Ideal – ‚Blaue Augen‘ (live in Aachen ’81)

Back in the early 80’s we had a big problem here in Germany: NDW. This abbreviation stands for ‘Neue Deutsche Welle’ or ‘New German Wave’. Everything was fine with this term until the very early 80’s, basically all good German underground/punk bands were classified as NDW because you could tell that they were partly copying what was coming from the New Wave-side of the UK then, nothing wrong with that by and large. But then a shitload of embarrassing Schlager (pop) – bands appeared on the scene and all of them jumped the NDW – wagon quicker than you were able to realize. A handful of the original NDW bands, once really good bands, smelled the profit they were potentially able to make out of that, they changed their style and it didn’t take long before everything was nothing else but a horrible mix-up.

Ideal – from Berlin – were one of the bands who suffered a lot from the takeover. They had albums in ’80, ’81 and ’82 – all of which are wonderful throughout. Unlike others, they certainly never denied their New Wave roots, still they were never taken as seriously as they should’ve been taken. ‘Blaue Augen’ (‘Blue Eyes’) is from their self-titled debut album and in the lyrics Annette Humpe heavily complains about meaningless things, such as fashion, lifestyle, parties, money – only ‘his’ phenomenal blue eyes mean everything to her.

Ideal und TV
Lässt mich völlig kalt
Und die ganze Szene
Hängt mir aus‘m Hals
Da bleib ich kühl
Kein Gefühl
Grelle Fummels aus den Fifties, Sixties
Alles hohl und hundsgemein
Auf Skoda oder Fiorucci
Flieg ich nicht mehr ein
Da bleib ich kühl
Kein Gefühl
Bloß deine blauen Augen
Machen mich so sentimental
So blaue Augen
Wenn du mich so anschaust
Wird mir alles andere egal
Total egal
Deine blauen Augen
Sind phänomenal
Kaum zu glauben
Was ich dann so fühle
Ist nicht mehr normal
Das ist gefährlich
Lebensgefährlich
Zu viel Gefühl
Insiderfeten, da schlaf ich ein
Ich will auch nicht in London sein
Bei “Sex and drugs and rock’n roll”
Ist das meist ein stumpfer Einfall
Da bleib ich kühl
Kein Gefühl
Der ganze Hassel um die Knete
Macht mich taub und stumm
Für den halben Luxus
Leg ich mich nicht krumm
Nur der Scheich
Ist wirklich reich
Und deine blauen Augen
Machen mich so sentimental
So blaue Augen
Wenn du mich so anschaust
Wird mir alles andere egal
Total egal
Deine blauen Augen
Sind phänomenal
Kaum zu glauben
Was ich dann so fühle
Ist nicht mehr normal
Das ist gefährlich
Lebensgefährlich
Zu viel Gefühl
Ah, deine blauen Augen
Machen mich so sentimental
So blaue Augen
Wenn du mich so anschaust
Wird mir alles andere egal
Total egal
Deine blauen Augen
Sind phänomenal
Kaum zu glauben
Was ich dann so fühle
Ist nicht mehr normal
Nicht mehr normal
Ah, deine blauen Augen
So blaue Augen
Was ich dann so fühle
Ist nicht mehr normal
Nicht mehr normal, ah
Nicht mehr normal
Nicht mehr normal, ah
Nicht mehr normal

Der Moderne Man – ‘Für Frau Krause (Including The Return Of Frau Krause)’ (’83)

If Ideal suffered from the flood of disastrous NDW releases, it cost the life of Hannover’s Der Moderne Man (sic). With several outstanding releases from 1980 on, they had to call it a day in 1984. They and their label simply couldn’t survive any longer. The song I picked comes from their last mini album ‘Neues Aus Hong Kong’ from 1983 and it’s a longer version of ‘Für Frau Krause’ (‘For Mrs. Krause’). And what’s it all about? Well, contrary to Ideal, here the singer is quite fond of his modern lifestyle, he certainly loves the amenities that come along with it. Progress, technique, future is what he wants. Frau Krause seems to be a vague acquaintance, here and then she lends him a Deutschmark and in the final part of the tune (‘The Return Of Frau Krause’, obviously) him and her even leave the pub together, he doesn’t mention though what happens then …

Zum Frühstück kalter Kaffee
Nur Leberwurst aufs Brot
Nichts Neues in der Zeitung
Der Präsident ist tot
Im Kühlschrank gähnende Leere
Ich bin schon wieder blank
Seit Tagen nichts zu saufen
Schnell noch hin zur Bank

Die Welt ist heute praktisch
Die Welt ist so bequem
Ich steh auf Fortschritt, Technik
Die Zukunft will ich seh’n

‚Ne Panne auf dem Schnellweg
Der Motor kocht und stinkt
Ich halt den Daumen raus
Die gute Laune sinkt
Da vorne steht ‚ne Ampel
Jetzt wird sie wieder grün
Es kommt ein gelber Engel
Soll mich zur Werkstatt zieh’n

Die Welt ist heute praktisch
Die Welt ist so bequem
Ich steh auf Fortschritt, Technik
Die Zukunft will ich seh’n

Ich schnorr‘ mir Geld für’s Kino
Frau Krause gibt ‚ne Mark
Ich hab‘ zwar nichts zu Essen
Doch Kino find‘ ich stark
Es läuft grad‘ ‚Krieg der Sterne‘
Und UFO‘s seh‘ ich gern
Ich säh‘ zwar lieber Porno
Am liebsten seh‘ ich fern

Die Welt ist heute praktisch
Die Welt ist so bequem
Ich steh auf Fortschritt, Technik
Die Zukunft will ich seh’n

Ich krieg‘ die letzte U-Bahn
Und werde leicht nervös
Zwei Burschen gucken grimmig
Sind ziemlich muskulös
Um ein Uhr geht’s mir dreckig
Um halb zwei bin ich krank
Um zwei bin ich erledigt
Doch Pillen sind im Schrank

Die Welt ist heute praktisch
Die Welt ist so bequem
Ich steh auf Fortschritt, Technik
Die Zukunft will ich seh’n

Die Welt, die Welt, die Welt ist praktisch
Die Welt, die Welt, die Welt ist praktisch

Die Welt ist heute praktisch
Die Welt ist so bequem
Ich steh auf Fortschritt, Technik
Die Zukunft will ich seh’n

Die Welt, die Welt, die Welt ist bequem
Die Welt, die Welt, die Welt ist bequem

Doch halt: es geht noch weiter
Die Kneipe hat noch auf
Nach fünf, sechs, sieben Halben
Bin ich schon besser drauf
Ich sehe langsam doppelt
Mein Zustand ist schon arg
Ich schnorr‘ mir Geld für’s achte
Frau Krause gibt ‚ne Mark

Die Welt ist heute praktisch
Die Welt ist so bequem
Ich steh auf Fortschritt, Technik
Die Zukunft will ich seh’n

Frau Krause ist nicht häßlich
Sie setzt sich neben mich
Sie trägt zwar eine Brille
Doch trotzdem mag sie mich
‚Erzähl‘ mir was vom Leben‘
‚Frau Krause, du bist schön‘
‚Wir reden morgen weiter,
Laß‘ uns nach Hause geh’n‘

Die Welt ist heute praktisch
Die Welt ist so bequem
Ich steh auf Fortschritt, Technik
Die Zukunft will ich seh’n

Die Welt, die Welt, die Welt ist schön
Die Welt, die Welt, die Welt ist schön

Rockabilly Mafia – ‚Die Nacht War Lau‘(’95)

Some German Rockabilly for you now, normally not a genre I like very much. Rockabilly Mafia from Elmshorn in the north of Germany though are a bit different, because to my best knowledge they wrote all their songs by themselves – and they are doing that from 1985 on! ‘Die Nacht War Lau’ (‘The Night Was Balmy’) is one of their finest. There are a lot of songs, not only German songs, about the pleasures of drinking and probably even more about the pleasures of driving, this one though is about the same topics, but completely and utterly different because it tells the story of a beautiful young girl who his knocked off her bike by a hit and run driver around midnight, the newspaper says it took until the next morning before she died because no-one stopped in order to help her.

Jawoll

Sie war das schönste Mädchen von der Schule
Dabei war sie erst gerade 16 Jahr‘
Bei mir da spielte sie stets nur die coole
Doch Montagmorgen da war sie nicht mehr da

Die Fete Samstagabend war echt öde
Darum ging‘ sie auch schon um zwölf Uhr zehn
Vielleicht waren meine Sprüche auch zu blöde
Ich hab‘ sie niemals mehr geseh’n

Die Nacht war lau und voller Sommerglut
Und die Sterne leuchteten so schön
Und wie so oft wenn sich was Böses tut
Hat niemand irgendwas gesehen

Den Weg nach Haus, den fuhr‘ sie wirklich gerne
Das Licht an ihrem Fahrrad brannte hell
Über ihr da leuchteten die Sterne
Doch er war blau und fuhr viel zu schnell

Und die Nacht war lau und voller Sommerglut
Und die Sterne, die leuchteten so schön
Und der Weg war breit und voll von Menschenblut
Und niemand hat irgendwas gesehen

In der Zeitung stand, sie starb erst am Morgen
Sie war ein junger Traum für jeden Mann
Ihre Schönheit, die vertrieb‘ uns oft die Sorgen
Doch als sie starb hielt keiner für sie an

Oh, die Nacht war lau und voller Sommerglut
Und die Sterne leuchteten so schön
Und wie so oft wenn sich was Böses tut
Hat niemand irgendwas gesehen

Die Nacht war lau, die Nacht war lau, die Nacht war lau …

Die Profis – ‚Der Favorit‘ (’82)

Another band from Düsseldorf, and another one which had a very short life indeed. Die Profis (‘The Professionals’) only had one album, ‘Neue Sensationen’, but what an album this is! Why is it that this other band from Düsseldorf, Die Toten Hosen, have become multi-millionaires by releasing numerous crap albums till today, on all of which they still pray their self-imposed punk attitude, although they have lost it 40 years ago?! Couldn’t have Die Profis had a little share of their success instead?! Oh, life is unfair at times …

‘Der Favorit’ (‘The Favourite’) describes what singing in a band does to the singer’s ego and the loneliness that comes with a certain kind of stardom. Obviously all of this can’t be taken all too serious, bearing the non-success of Die Profis in mind …

Alle Augen sehen mich an, verfolgen jeden Schritt
Sie wissen schon was ich gleich tu‘, ich bin der Favorit
Jedes Mal bin ich nervös, fast wie beim ersten Mal
Spürst du die Hitze und das Licht dort, fast wie ein Wasserfall

Und ich spiele dieses Spiel, hab’s mir ausgesucht
Gefühle gegen schnelles Geld, bin ständig auf der Flucht
Die Liebe, die ich von euch will, eine Frage des Erfolgs
Bitte, wenn das alles ist, bekommt ihr was ihr wollt
Die Liebe, die ich von euch will, gebt ihr nicht umsonst
Ihr wollt dafür ein Stück von mir, ihr wollt dass etwas kommt

Und bin ich gut, am nächsten Tag bin ich mein eigener Feind
Der Motor für die Abschussfahrt ist meine Einsamkeit
Ich such‘ mir eine aus der Menge, schau‘ ihr ins Gesicht
Ich bin mit ihr allein im Raum, die anderen merken’s nicht

Und ich spiele dieses Spiel, hab’s mir ausgesucht
Gefühle gegen schnelles Geld, bin ständig auf der Flucht
Die Liebe, die ich von euch will, eine Frage des Erfolgs
Bitte, wenn das alles ist, bekommt ihr was ihr wollt
Die Liebe, die ich von euch will, gebt ihr nicht umsonst
Ihr wollt dafür ein Stück von mir, ihr wollt dass etwas kommt

Favorit, du bist der Favorit

Und ich spiele dieses Spiel, hab’s mir ausgesucht
Gefühle gegen schnelles Geld, bin ständig auf der Flucht
Die Liebe, die ich von euch will, eine Frage des Erfolgs
Bitte, wenn das alles ist, bekommt ihr was ihr wollt
Die Liebe, die ich von euch will, gebt ihr nicht umsonst
Ihr wollt dafür ein Stück von mir, ihr wollt dass etwas kommt

Zeltinger Band – ‘Mein Vater War Ein Wandersmann’ – ‘Müngersdorfer Stadion’ (live im Bunker, Köln ’79)

Cologne’s finest, to be sure. And Cologne’s heaviest, also to be sure. Google pictures of him and you’ll see what I mean: Jürgen Zeltinger is one of the town’s many originals, as gay as no-one else probably, something he always shows with a certain pride. I have seen him and his band in various line up’s numerous times and it always was a joy. I remember one gig in the early 90’s in a very small village pub where he drank all afternoon with the locals and when it was time for the gig, he was so much out of his head, he played half of the show wearing nothing else but a tiger skin mini slip – not a very nice thing to watch, as you might be able to confirm if you have followed my advice to search for pictures of him.

But the music was great, and the same is true for this track. Sung in Kölsch, Cologne’s dialect (so even Walter – if he’s still reading – might have difficulties in understanding this), my choice starts with his version of an old German folk song (‘My Father Was A Wayfarer’), followed by (Zeltinger’s version of) a tune which should be familiar with all of you. Müngersdorfer Stadion (Müngersdorfer Stadium) is Cologne’s football stadium on the left Rhine-side, next to it is an open air bath and the song describes Zeltinger’s difficulties in getting there from the city for a swim in the summer heat without any money.

Jetz käu ich sigg hüg morge an de Käues eröm,
et wet immer heißer, isch gläuf, ich maach mich dönn.
Die Schlang he am Arbeitsamt nemp och ke Eng,
am beste jank isch schwemme im Stadion.

Erus us de Hus, erus us de Stadt,
aff en de Stadtwald, ich hann et satt,
en Badebux un e ahl Paar Schoh,
jet Ääpelsschlot, Transisterradio…

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Ich fahr schwatz met de KVB,
die Markfufzisch dät denne och nit wieh,
ich fahr schwatz mit de KVB,
dä Hals voll krieje de Bonze nie.

Jetz lieje ich sigg hück moje en de Sunn eröm,
dö Sunnebrand brenk misch fass öm,
nom zehnte Bescher Lömmelömm
wed et zick für misch no Hus zo jonn.

Et Schwimmbecke leer, de Täsche leer,
froch nur nit, wo krie ich dann et Fahrjeld her.
Dries jet op dä Dress,
sinn zo, dat de keine vun dä Arschlöcher sist.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Ich fahr schwatz met de KVB,
die Markfufzisch dät denne och nit wieh,
ich fahr schwatz mit de KVB,
dä Hals voll krieje de Bonze nie.

Jetz lieje ich sigg hück moje en de Sunn eröm,
dö Sunnebrand brenk misch fass öm,
nom zehnte Bescher Lömmelömm
wed et zick für misch no Hus zo jonn.

Et Schwimmbecke leer, de Täsche leer,
froch nur nit, wo krie ich dann et Fahrjeld her.
Dries jet op dä Dress,
sinn zo, dat de keine vun dä Arschlöcher sist.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Hi, ha, ho,
jetzt sind wir wieder froh.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Dipel, dipel, dai,
wie wär’s mit uns zwei.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Ippel, dippen, dap
jetz sein wär op de Klap.

Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
Müngersdorfer Stadion,
am beste jon ich schwemme im Stadion.

Now, that’s it: plenty of fun for you, I’m sure you agree.

Stay safe and: enjoy,

Dirk

JC adds..

Words almost really fail me!  This has clearly been a labour of love and without any question, one of the best and probably the most original posting to appear here in many a year (certianly since the Gang of Four musical).  Sexy Loser is now very much Sexy Genius.

I’ve had the advantage of playing each of the songs for a few days now, and they are all well worth your time and effort.  It makes me pine for the time when we will all be allowed to travel freely and safely again – a trip to Germany is very much near the top of my agenda.