NEW MUSIC RECOMMENDATION…..

Once upon a time, around three years ago, four musicians from the south coast of England came together and decided to make music under the name Foundlings.

They soon came to the attention of the good people behind Last Night From Glasgow, the not-for-profit record label founded in my home city back in 2016 (and yes, the name of the label was taken from the line in Super Trouper by Abba).

An excellent 5-track EP was released in March 2019 and the rest of the year was spent gigging and preparing new material for an album.

mp3: Foundlings – Caught Up

But then a few things happened.

The bass player decided to quit.   The band were threatened with legal action by an American outfit known as The Foundlings.  COVID put a spoke in the timetable for recording the debut album.

First things first…..the band changed their name to Hadda Be, lifted from the Allan Ginsberg poem, Hadda Be Playing On The Radio.  Then, as an opportunity emerged after the end of the first lockdown period in the UK last summer, the band raced into a studio to record a debut album in just five days.

The album, Another Life, comes out tomorrow, Friday 30 April.

One of the joys of being a patron of Last Night From Glasgow is the opportunity to receive advance copies of the music before it goes on general sale.  Another Life landed in Villain Towers just over two weeks ago, and it has been on very heavy rotation ever since.  It’s a fabulous and very tasty slice of indie-pop at its finest.  You’ll find shimmering guitars, punchy choruses, wonderful melodies and a bunch of songs that, for the most part, come and go around the three-minute mark, all of which, aside from the obligatory ballad, have the ability to get even the most reticent folk out of their chairs so that shapes can be thrown on the dance floor.

The new record has been preceded by a couple of digital singles, including the track that has given its name to the album. As it’s a new release, I don’t want to offer an mp3 for easy download, so here’s the two promos which use footage put together by the four band members in their homes – Amber, Ben, Matthew and Oliver – during the second lockdown period using green screens.

The album can be ordered from Last Night From Glasgow by clicking here.   As the label says, Another Life has that classic indie guitar sound that has been lacking for some time – part Pixies, part Primitives, part Banshees, but all Hadda Be.

Highly recommended.

JC

ANITA LANE R.I.P.

I’ve just read the sad news of the passing of Anita Lane at the age of 61.  My tribute comes in the form of a re-post from March 2015:-

“Here’s something rather splendid, unusual and rare dragged from the back of the cupboard and given a listen to for the first time in ages.

Sixteen folk are or have been part of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds over the past 33 years (!!) since their inception.  Anita Lane remains the only fully fledged female member although many other women have performed on the various records and as part of the live performances.

She was part of the original Melbourne scene from which Nick et al would emerge – indeed she was the first of his many muses who would and have continually inspired him in many different ways – and in due course she would join and become an important part of The Birthday Party, including songwriting contributions to some of their most popular numbers such as Dead Joe

The title track of the first Bad Seeds album, From Her To Eternity, was attributed to the six members of the group, one of whom was Anita Lane; she left the band almost immediately after the album was recorded, but despite no longer being is a relationship with the singer she remained on good terms with him and the others, contributing lyrics to songs on later albums.

Her own, albeit ultimately low-key and rarely commercially successful solo career, began in 1988 with the release of these four songs on an EP entitled Dirty Sings on Mute Records:-

mp3 : Anita Lane – If I Should Die
mp3 : Anita Lane – I’m A Believer
mp3 : Anita Lane – Lost In Music
mp3 : Anita Lane – Sugar In A Hurricane

Her friends of old helped write the three original songs as well as joining her in the studio. The lead track has Barry Adamson as a co-writer (with whom she would collaborate further in years to come) and is very akin to sort of sound that would propel Julee Cruise to brief fame a couple of years later ; I’m A Believer isn’t the Neil Diamond number but an Anita Lane/Nick Cave composition while the strange and haunting (and Kate Bush inspired?) Sugar Hurricane sees a co-credit for Mick Harvey. All three of them, together with another bad seed – Thomas Wydler – were the backing musicians with Harvey doubling up as producer under the name of Dicky Russcombe.

And yes…..Lost In Music is a cover of the Sister Sledge disco classic. And to my ears, it’s an inspired cover.”

I’ve another 12″ single in the cupboard full of vinyl on which Anita Lane was involved. It dates from 1991 and was part of the soundtrack composed and put together by Barry Adamson for the crime thriller film, Delusion:-

mp3: Barry Adamson & Anita Lane and The Thought System of Love – These Boots Are Made For Walking

R.I.P. Anita.  You were no age at all.

JC

SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 46)

A GUEST POSTING by JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

Things are slowly – slowly – looking brighter in America. We have a president who’s not an international disgrace. He speaks in complete sentences and acts like an adult and everything! We recently proved that it’s possible to convict a white cop for murdering an unarmed black man — turns out all you needed was 10 minutes of the crime on video.

But I don’t know if we’re ever going to get past the divide promoted by our last…Commander in Chief. One of the most depressing issues is the incredible number of batshit crazy folks that are joyously out of the woodwork and onto the streets. And into the Capitol. With guns. Nutty people are everywhere. My buddy’s older brother, a dentist in Florida, has gone full QAnon/post-apocalypse. Everyone’s got a friend or relative or acquaintance who’s publicly off the deep end, doomsday prepping and stockpiling ammo.

Which brings me to the Dead Milkmen. The Milkmen were goofballs; all their songs were funny, silly, satirical or just plain stupid for the hell of it. They didn’t take themselves seriously and didn’t expect you to, either. Their song ‘Stuart’ was released back in 1988, and it always gave me a laugh. But if it was released tomorrow there’d probably be armed StuAnon protestors marching on Washington in a week.

You know what, Stuart, I LIKE YOU. You’re not like the other people, here, in the trailer park.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. They’re fine people, they’re good Americans. But they’re content to sit back, maybe watch a little Mork and Mindy on channel 57, maybe kick back a cool, Coors 16-ouncer. They’re good, fine people, Stuart. But they don’t know … what the queers are doing to the soil!

You know that Johnny Wurster kid, the kid that delivers papers in the neighborhood? He’s a foreign kid. Some of the neighbors say he smokes crack, but I don’t believe it.

Anyway, for his tenth birthday, all he wanted was a Burrow Owl. Kept bugging his old man. “Dad, get me a burrow owl. I’ll never ask for anything else as long as I live!” So the guy breaks down and buys him a burrow owl.

Anyway, 10:30, the other night, I go out in my yard, and there’s the Wurster kid, looking up in the tree. I say, “What are you looking for?” He says “I’m looking for my burrow owl.” I say, “Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick! Everybody knows that the burrow owl lives. In a hole. In the ground. Why the hell do you think they call it a burrow owl, anyway?” Now, Stuart, do you think a kid like that is going to know what the queers are doing to the soil?

I first became aware of all this about ten years ago, the summer my oldest boy, Bill Jr. died. You know that carnival comes into town every year? Well this year they came through with a ride called The Mixer. The man said, “Keep your head, and arms, inside the Mixer at all times.” But Bill Jr, he was a DAAAREDEVIL, just like his old man. He was leaning out saying, “Hey everybody, look at me! Look at me!” Pow! He was decapitated! They found his head over by the snow cone concession.

A few days after that, I open up the mail. And there’s a pamphlet in there from Pueblo, Colorado. And it’s addressed to Bill, Jr. And it’s entitled, “Do you know what the queers are doing to our Soil?”

Now, Stuart, if you look at the soil around any large US city where there’s a big underground homosexual population. Des Moines, Iowa, perfect example. Look at the soil around Des Moines, Stuart. You can’t build on it; you can’t grow anything in it. The government says it’s due to poor farming. But I know what’s really going on, Stuart. I know it’s the queers. They’re in it with the aliens. They’re building landing strips for gay Martians, I swear to God!

You know what, Stuart, I like you. You’re not like the other people, here in this trailer park.

mp3: Dead Milkmen – Stuart

JTFL

 

 

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #284 : DAVID BOWIE (LATER PERIOD)

A GUEST POSTING by MARK FRENCH

Well it wasn’t going to be a single disc across his full career was it.

To me and I’m sure/hope many of you, Bowie is GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), I am not smart enough to even begin to describe how brilliant, awesome, (and every other superlative you can think of) he is/was.

I wanted to focus on his later albums , which continued to show an artist never repeating himself and always exploring new. I’m not going to claim that any of them are individually as strong as the masterpieces of the 70s and early 80s, but I do believe they hide some individual tracks that are as strong as those of his earlier brilliance……

I was surprised by two things whilst putting this ICA together, firstly how ‘hard’ almost harsh most of these songs are and secondly what an amazing vocalist Bowie was, you always know it’s him but the range and scope is amazing

Hallo Spaceboy  (Outside, 1995)

I’m not a true Bowie fan, in that I haven’t bought every album as soon as it was released, there have been ebbs and flows, but it feels as though a ‘Space’ track has always brought me back onside, from Starman, Ashes to Ashes and this track. After the pop albums and Tin Machine – Hello Spaceboy, was fast and futuristic, at his best Bowie was always futuristic and was there ever a more Bowie line than ‘Do you like boys or girls? Its confusing these days’

I’m Afraid of Americans (Earthling, 1997)

‘Earthling’ was described as his ‘Drum & Bass’ album, I was obviously already middle-aged by this point as I had and have no idea what ‘Drum & bass’ sounds like. What I do know is this is a pulsating keyboards driven song.

Cactus (Heathen, 2002)

A cover of a Pixies song and according to Wikipedia all instruments are played by Bowie except bass and features his only recorded drum performance and of course the drums are to the forefront and do not sound out of time/place at all. Starting with just vocal and acoustic guitar before bursting into a full band sound, I had to look the lyrics up online to find out that the word ‘cement’ is used frequently, Bowie’s pronunciation is unusual.

Reality (Reality, 2003)

Probably my least favourite of the later albums, I was fortunate enough to see the subsequent tour at Birmingham NEC ( sadly his final tour), although I managed to put one of my daughter’s off Bowie for life, by going as it was on her birthday which she explained to me was not acceptable parental behaviour, over 15 years later it remains a topic of conversation. The song itself always reminds me of the Ziggy album – high praise.

Battle For Britain (The Letter) (Earthling, 1997)

More ‘Drum and Bass’, with a great piano solo from Mike Garson and some classic cockney vocals from Bowie.

Looking For Water (Reality, 2003)

Guitar(ist)s have always been crucial to Bowie’s music and this is a great example with the guitar leading the way from the start.

The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (The Next Day, 2013)

Following his health issues on The Reality tour, Bowie disappeared for 10 years, the assumption was that he had retired and was living in married bliss in New York. And then without any advance PR a single was realised – such was the shock it was a main item on the BBC news. The album was joyously received. It is very much a pop album and this track (released as a single with a wonderful video) was the pinnacle,

Girl Loves Me (Blackstar, 2016)

Blackstar as an album is very difficult, given that it was released the day before Bowie’s death and was recorded during his cancer treatment, to assess objectively or to listen to purely as a piece of music, in a similar manner to Joy Division’s Closer. It is certainly completely different from any other Bowie album, with nothing that resembles pop or rock music. It’s a ‘jazz’ album, and to be honest is the only ‘jazz’ album I own or am likely to. I have regularly returned to the album over the past few years but with the exception of this track and one other I struggle to enjoy it, there is just too much jazz for my personal taste. ‘Girl Loves Me’ unusually for Bowie seems to have no guitar and is propelled by almost only drums and bass but not in a ‘drum and bass’ manner.

Outside (Outside, 1995)

The Outside album was to me a true return to form if you ignore the short spoken word interludes, which is easily done today. Bowie’s vocal is beautiful, managing to be calming, soothing and yearning at the same time.

Lazarus (No Plan EP, 2017)

With it’s opening line of ‘Look Up Here I’m In Heaven’ there could be no other album closer and listening again to the lyrics with the soulful saxophone backing – wow it really is an incredible way to end.

MARK

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Twelve : NO LONGER YOUNG ENOUGH

A GUEST POSTING by flimflamfan

Quite some time ago a good friend uttered a phrase that when used proved, more often than not, to be true … “I think you’ll like this?”

It turned out to be true in this case, eventually …

If memory serves, often these days it doesn’t, he played bits from the band’s first 2 EPs (CDr 3”) on WeePOP! I really liked the music but … I found the broad Scottish accents grated; like a poorly crafted vegan cheese from the time – i.e., badly. Nah, it was nice enough but not for me. My friend and I put the world to rights, as we often did when we met, until it was time for me to leave and walk home.

Devious bastards.

Utter. Devious. Bastards!

On my walk home I began to hum Virgin Lips. The unprincipled bastards had created a bulletproof earworm and I couldn’t stop humming it – I had to hum, I hadn’t heard it enough to know any lyrics apart from “virgin lips, virgin lips.” The earworm achieved it’s aim. I was intrigued enough to listen to more from the band and I’m thankful that I did. The accents soon became part of what I enjoyed about the band and those lyrics – the art of storytelling.

Fast forward almost ten years and the same friend emailed me (I was no longer living in Scotland and had become quite distanced from the local music scene and music more generally) … “I think you’ll like this?” he opined. His description of the song made me keen, very keen to hear it. I added the song to my personal music player and headed for my wee place of calm. Once I had made myself suitably comfortable, I hit play; The Just Joans, No Longer Young Enough.

It was incredible. Bliss? Joy? There are so many wonderful ways in which I can describe the song and none, I think, would do it justice. I just recall sitting on my wee rock, staring out to sea, smiling, as I hit replay again and again and again.

The band had clearly moved on in terms of production, elevating itself from a sometimes sparse arrangement to a full-on 1960s Girl Group production sound. It worked!

For a song tinged with the sad realisation of ageing it’s fantastically warm and uplifting. The song, the video, the art work – it’s a gem. It’s also an earworm.

mp3: The Just Joans – No Longer Young Enough

Utter. Devious. Bastards!

flimflanfan

JC adds……

It happens to be a 7″ single in my own collection. It’s on Fika Recordings (catalogue # FIKA061), and was released in 2017.

No longer young enough
To dance the night away
To make the same mistakes
That we made yesterday
How did it come to this?
Who played this trick on me?
Started at seventeen
Ended in tragedy

That first time
Was perfect
Alcopops
Too much lipstick
An ocean
Of bodies sprawling
A new world
Of lust and longing

Hang up my dancing shoes
They clash with my pyjamas
It’s time to face the truth…

No longer young enough
To dance the night away
To make the same mistakes
That we made yesterday
How did it come to this?
Who played this trick on me?
Started at seventeen
Ended in tragedy

Old photos
Of night outs
Bad haircuts
Bee stung pouts
What is this
The DJ’s playing?
Can’t hear a
Word you’re saying

I think I might go home
I feel like someone’s auntie
It’s time to face the truth…

No longer young enough
To dance the night away
To make the same mistakes
That we made yesterday
How did it come to this?
Who played this trick on me?
Started at seventeen
Ended in tragedy

Once it felt like we were in heaven
Once it felt like we were in heaven
Once it felt like we were in heaven…

One dance left, let’s make it special
One dance left, let’s make it special
One dance left, let’s make it special..

FFF, as usual, is right. It’s a gem and an earworm. Here’s its b-side, while the video for the a-side is located below:-

mp3: The Just Joans – Breakfast For Our Tea

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Parts 42 & 43)


So this is the point in the series where we shift things everso slightly. I think you all know what’s coming. There’s no avoiding it, we’re examining the stage in R.E.M.’s career where its mere mention makes most fans cringe uncontrollably. And for that reason, we’re not going to draw things out – two posts, each covering two singles from the sheer calamity that is Around The Sun.

After the promise shown by the two new (or newish) songs on In Time, I hoped R.E.M. were back on track and would deliver a record far more worthy of their acclaim than the abysmal Reveal. So I went out and bought the lead single Leaving New York on the day of its release and kept my fingers crossed. When I played it, any enthusiasm I had just ebbed away.

mp3: R.E.M. –  Leaving New York

Leaving New York isn’t the worst R.E.M. single ever, but it’s so devoid of pretty much everything that ever made the band great in the first place. This was an R.E.M. song to be played on commercial MOR radio stations for 40-somethings who don’t listen to music anymore. It’s what a middle-aged covers band who play at weddings and bar mitzvahs would include in their set. It’s just… banal. Not their worst single, but maybe the second-worst lead-single to an R.E.M. album ever (after Imitation Of Life).

Maybe I’m being a little harsh and missing the context. Leaving New York is R.E.M.’s post-9/11 song in which the protagonist seems disillusioned with the city, the darkness and grief having taken over from the coolness, the glamour and the awe that used to be associated with the letters NYC. The melancholy now felt is realised in the song and I think that’s what I don’t like about it. It just doesn’t make me feel anything. The song itself isn’t terrible – the chorus is more than pleasant – but the fact it’s the album’s lead single and opening track tells a story. It is, actually, Around The Sun’s best song by some considerable margin.

Leaving New York was the last R.E.M. single I bought before I began plugging gaps in my collection a few years ago. This was the point I bailed.

Three formats were released in the UK on 27th September 2004 which may be the reason it got as high as #5 in the charts after its first week. Having said that, it dropped like a lead balloon after that. It was also the last time they’d get anywhere near the top 10 in the UK. The b-sides were live tracks, which again probably says all you need to know about the quality of material the band was churning out at this time. To be fair, most of Around The Sun was little more than b-side fodder.

There was a 7” picture disc (something I don’t think they’d done before), and a CD single containing a rather rough-sounding version of Rockville recorded in Oslo the previous autumn. Brace yourself Jonny – Mike Mills takes the lead…

mp3: R.E.M. – (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville [live]

A second CD included versions of more songs harking back to better days, captured around the same period. You Are The Everything comes from a soundcheck in Raleigh, NC and really doesn’t do this gorgeous song justice. These Days, recorded in Toronto, is the pick of the bunch, but even so, they’ve played it so much better.

mp3: R.E.M. – You Are The Everything [live]
mp3: R.E.M. – These Days [live]

For the album’s second single, a song that actually could have been something really rather wonderful.

mp3: R.E.M. – Aftermath

Again, not the worst R.E.M. single, but it’s lacking so much – a strong chorus for one – and is bogged down by the weight of an MOR production that made it sound dated even at the time. During my research for this piece, I read a comment from someone who reckoned if Bill Berry was still in the band, he could well have made the difference between Aftermath being merely an adequate album track and it becoming one of the band’s best-loved songs. Whether you agree with this or not, there’s no doubting what Bill brought to the band other than the drums, and I wonder if Around The Sun would have seen the light of day at all if he had anything to do with it.

A shame really, because I really don’t dislike Aftermath, I’m just completely underwhelmed by it. And to be fair, it probably is the second-best song on the album. But that’s not meant to be a compliment.

The single hit the shops on 29th November 2004 in two CD formats backed by more live tracks recorded during rehearsals in the band’s hometown in 2004. The first CD included a version of another Around The Sun song. High Speed Train is a bit of an odd one, I never could make up my mind whether it’s sort-of likeable, or just really boring. I think this take just edges the album version, probably owing to it not being so over-produced.

mp3: R.E.M. – High Speed Train [live]

As for CD 2? So Fast, So Numb is one of New Adventure in Hi-Fi’s real highlights, a bloody excellent song. It’s let down somewhat here by the rather perfunctory drumming and very bored-sounding backing vocals. All The Right Friends is one of R.E.M.’s earliest songs. They recorded it several times over the years but it never made it onto an album. It was revived for a movie soundtrack and was included on In Time, and as such made it back into the band’s live set. Of all the tracks we’ve posted today, this is the one you want.

mp3: R.E.M. – So Fast, So Numb [live]
mp3: R.E.M. – All The Right Friends [live]

While doing this series, I’ve made a point of listening again to each album when we reach that era. Reveal was very tough and I didn’t listen to Beachball because it’s so diabolical, but I did get through the other 11 tracks.

Just.

I had to turn Around The Sun off after 8½ songs as it is sooo boring, drab and uninspiring. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to it all the way through in a single sitting and this was the first time I’ve tried to get through it in years. It was the first R.E.M. album I never bought. I still don’t own a copy of it, other than in MP3s that I *ahem* acquired at the time. I wasn’t going to pay for it, no way.

And to think, there are still two more singles from the damn thing to come next week……..

The Robster

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #256: THE PRESIDENT’S MEN


For the third successive Saturday, it’s a return to some words from The Big Gold Dream box set;-

Jeremy Thoms was the driving force behind this Aberdeen quartet who recorded two singles for the city’s Oily Records. Alongside guitarist Roy Ingrams, bassist Donald Macdonald and drummer John Watson, Thoms recorded Out in the Open in Edinburgh at Tony Pilley’s famed Barclay Towers studio.

Following the Presidents Men’s second single, Reasons for Leaving, Thoms decamped to the capital, toured with The Revillos and went on to play in the likes of Strawberry Tarts, The Naturals, New Leaf and The Fabulous Artisans. These days he fronts The Cathode Ray and also runs Stereogram Recordings, which has put out all Cathode Ray material to date, as well as albums by the likes of James King and The Lone Wolves, Roy Moller and The Band of Holy Joy.

The track which was included in the box set was the debut single:-

mp3: The President’s Men – Out In The Open

If you like what you’re hearing, and there’s no reason not to, then I’m pleased to say that while the 7″ vinyl from 1980 isn’t all that readily available on the second-hand market, all three of its tracks were given a first-ever digital release just last month, to mark the 40th anniversary of its release. Bandcamp is the place to go, and all you have to do is click here.

JC

ORIGINAL v COVER : I BET YOU LOOK GOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR

OK…..it’s far from an original idea, and it’s been done to great effect on a few other fabulous blogs (yes, I am looking directly at you Charity Chic), but it’ll be an occasional feature to help out when I’m struggling for something meaningful to say or don’t have much spare time on my hands.

What I am going to try and do, however, is to make each offering something of a contrast between the two versions.

From wiki:-

I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” is a song by English rock band Arctic Monkeys. The song was released through Domino Recording Company as the band’s first single from their debut studio album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006). It debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart on 23 October 2005, and remains one of the band’s best-known songs.

Arctic Monkeys performed the track at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The song was ranked at number 7 on NME’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

mp3: I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

From all music:-

Multi-ethnic U.K. trio Sugababes jumped aboard the teen pop bandwagon prior to the new millennium and exuded their own sassy demeanor without the frivolity of most mainstream acts. Siobhan Donaghy, Keisha Buchanan, and Mutya Buena were barely in their teens when they formed in 1998, sharing a liking of garage, hip-hop, and dance music.

By 2006, Sugababes were already on their third line-up, with only Keisha Buchanan around from the original days. All through their career, the group’s members have written, or at least partly-written, much of their own material, as was the case with Red Dress, a #4 hit in the UK singles chart that year. The b-side was their nod to the newest sensations to hit the indie-world:-

mp3: I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (Arctic Babes Mix)

The result from the Villain Towers adjudicating panel?

A win for the cover, on the basis that it was delivered with equal lashings of panache and humour.

This verdict can, should you choose, be overturned on appeal via the comments section……

JC

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS : NEW GOLD DREAM (81-82-83-84)

Album: New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) – Simple Minds
Review: NME, 18 September 1982
Author: Paul Morley

ONE
THIS RECORD is something of a glow. Whatever your preference you will find it memorable and instructive. Find its qualities and fix your place. Be swept, be drained…This is really all I have to say, but I shall not stop on that account. Indeed, I shall begin again.

TWO
MY LOYALTY towards Simple Minds is known to be considerable, yet even I am jarred by the constant beauty of this music. Truly, all I need to say is that New Gold Dream robs me of my breath – but let’s continue. Be swept, be drained, believe me.

THREE
After their last (double) LP it could be said that despite their undoubted ability the group threatened to settle down into an overwhelming, agitating monotony devoid of nobility: a heat-switch has been turned on, the looming Simple Minds solid has melted, is melting into a bewitching, fresh sound. Suddenly the group sound acutely aware of space and emptiness, and their impact is a lot harder because of that. (When I say harder, I am just as likely to mean “softer” – it depends whether you’re stood on your head or not.)

Simple Minds took a certain way with rhythm and motion to its limits; they’ve now shook away what was becoming a kind of concussion, to be left with a very clear head. And, clearly, a heat. ‘Melting’ is a useful word to use in connection with this record. Not only are the known Minds clichés melting into new forms and shapes, but also more general clichés melt into new meanings. The familiar deliciously falls in on itself. This ‘melting’ results in an exotic re-orientation.

Indeed, and this is perhaps because the Minds’ aspirations sometimes seemed too great for the pop context to hold, the music contained here is as searching a representation of the meltings between what is ‘memory’ and what is ‘imagination’ as that which troubles me in the workings of Beckett and Baudelaire. New Gold Dream is the perfect attack upon those who think pop too small to think big.

The group, confounding banal limitations and their duff reputation as kids muddling in areas roughly outside their scope, have outgrown what was previously their defiant restlessness, a celebrated stoicism, and turned their song into an adventure: an adventure embedded in memory/imagination, patient and dark, as intoxicating as the adventure of Buckley, as personally aggressive as the adventure of Joy Division. It is responsible to no one and nothing, it is sensation for sensation’s sake, but it takes the working listener to wherever, it suggests to the working listener that…everything is possible.

Let’s face it, it’s a glorious achievement to produce something that works generously in the usual sweet way – tucked inside the trivialised pop context, yet that stretches far beyond those coloured walls to stand strong as an exhilarated, canny comment on the “state of the world’s flow”, on the position of hope and anxiety. There’s plenty of light and melody through the Dream to please you; but enough heat to chill you.

There’s a number of outstanding instrumental performances to turn to – Forbes‘ arrogantly commanding bass, Burchill’s shrewd and eager guitar, MacNeil‘s expressive and seemingly infallible keyboarding – but ‘Dreams’ music is something that succeeds smoothly yet provocatively as ‘a whole’. A rippling, humming, beating, rustling, driving, melting ‘whole’, with Kerr‘s voice, his glancing, broken words, as if tiny holes allowing glimpses into the world-view that enabled such noble music to appear. The ‘whole’ is an ardent, tender sound that sweeps and sways between the sly and the open with pleasured mastery; as for Kerr’s ‘holes’, there’s nothing wrong with his spelling, his spelling is binding, his images and touches spellbinding. If previously he could be irritating, now he and his words insist on response. And measure the words’ intrigue by the depth of that response. The working listener will be quietly, carefully, profoundly re-placed.

The absolutely gripping opening song ‘Someone Somewhere In Summertime‘ immediately announces that Simple Minds have shed old skin. What accounts for this shedding, the ‘melting’, the shaking away of concussion, is the group swallowing the pill of simplicity: rather than try to make a point or point towards mystery through a rush and rush of overcompensation – this is where many other groups, ie. Bauhaus, flip and flop into the muddle of futility – the group have moved out into the opening of understatement, tweaking will and snatching heart through implication.

It’s the kind of simplicity Joy Division smashed into accidentally and to devastating effect: a proof of articulacy and sensitivity through keen selectivity. The two ’82 singles ‘Promised You A Miracle‘ and ‘Glittering Prize‘ fit into this record not as blatant shows of concession for the charts but as bright, confident celebrations of this simplicity: the group scatter their assault rather than channel it.

Listening to the completely satisfying instrumental ‘Somebody Up There Likes You‘ it sounds as though Simple Minds believe they are creating magic: and in a way they are, conjuring up from nowhere such vital, cajoling systems as ‘Big Sleep’ and ‘King Is White And In The Crowd’, systems that will connect themselves to your experiences without wasting your time or minimising your energy. The title track confirms that Simple Minds’ diagnosis of what is up and down about the bits and pieces of the world is as shocking, shaming and indignant as any pop group’s.

And then when Herbie Hancock glides in to embellish the lovely ‘Hunter And The Hunted’, one doesn’t sense a clumsy, irrelevant intrusion by a name pianist with a huge erratic musical background, just an apt, almost hidden contribution by one musician to the effort of other musicians. It’s a fine moment, sealing the group’s (radiant) simplicity, and claiming that the group can exist on any terms – no longer must they be locked into a strained-art-pop closet.

So certainly this is Simple Minds’ most distinguished collection. It also continues, powerfully, a period of music that melts and scatters around ‘For Your Pleasure’, ‘Correct Use Of Soap’, ‘Closer’, ‘Sulk’, ‘Tin Drum‘, a music that went to follow through how Iggy somersaulted through good and bad possibilities, how Reed reached below the functional surfaces of city life, how Bowie travelled, how Hamill hoped, how Eno twisted and treated the pop song to the edge of ‘the marvellous’. A music swerving and unnerving through recollection and recognition and habit and faded sensations…searching for connections and new vantage points, using pop to mind more about memory than the order of guitar notes.

Simple Minds have produced something as inventive, as cleansing, as suggestive as anything by the musicians, The Heroes, who first inspired them to form around the days and nights in Glasgow. This will thrill them, for it is still in them to be thrilled. And what will thrill you is that it is possible to pluck something as special and triumphant as this out from amidst all the painful failures. Its uses are abstract, but its signifance is universal. And the feeling grows, as I listen, that they’re just beginning.

FOUR
AND NOW you begin…

JC adds…….

There’s a couple of Paul Morley reviews going to feature in this occasional series.  For the most part, I’ve long enjoyed his musings and his writings, but there were plenty of times when I thought he was being a dick and a show-off.

Thankfully, I don’t recall ever reading this particular review; for all that he clearly loves the album and the band at this point in history, he has obviously woken up that day much more in love with himself and determined to get as much of that feeling across to the NME readers. And, while I don’t want my reviews to stoop to the banal level of Smash Hits or tabloid newspapers, I do want those who are writing the pieces to offer me something just a little less pretentious.

History shows that New Gold Dream, the fifth album by Simple Minds, was the one which put them onto the golden path as the long-standing critical support from the likes of Morley turned into commercial success, certainly in the UK and Europe.

The album was released in September 1982 and It made No. 3 in the UK Albums Chart.  Having said that, the foundations had been laid a few months earlier with Promised You A Miracle, in April 82 and Glittering Prize, in August 82, both reaching the Top 20 in the singles charts, the first time the band had ever broken into the Top 50.

mp3: Simple Minds – Someone Somewhere In Summertime
mp3: Simple Minds – Somebody Up There Likes You
mp3: Simple Minds – Hunter and The Hunted

It’s one of those fairly rare occasions when the commercial success didn’t come at the cost of diluting the quality of the music that a group had been making for some years.

JC

INSPIRED BY A BAD MOVIE – HERE’S A GUEST RE-POST FROM 2014

I recently made reference to the shambles of a film that is Creation Stories.  There were, however, a very small number of scenes that I did enjoy, particularly the one where The Television Personalities took to the stage at one of the club nights being promoted by Alan McGee.  It got me thinking that I should celebrate the TVP song which featured in the clip, but quickly remembered that it had been the subject of a guest posting more than seven years ago in a series called ‘Cult Classics’.  So, partly out of laziness but more, really, to do with the fact that the guest posting was a great and informative read, I thought I’d repost it.

Here’s Jamie H from 5 January 2014:-

I’ve recently finished reading Alan McGee’s autobiography Creation Stories, a book that recounts the story of his involvement with bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub and inevitably Oasis but which also manages to devote some time to less widely known acts such as The Television Personalities, who McGee first saw live in 1982 in London, a show where Joe Foster ‘sawed Dan Treacy’s Rickenbacker in half! It was maybe a grand’s worth of guitar. They were only getting paid about £50 for the gig!’

From that moment on, McGee was hooked and he soon started heaping praise on them in his Communication Blur fanzine as well as booking them to perform at his Communication Club on a bill that also included the Nightingales and Vinyl Villain favourites the Go-Betweens.

Significantly, the TVP’s pop art label Whaam! in part inspired McGee to set up Creation Records and one of the first ever releases to carry the name Creation (as Creation Artifact) was a flexidisc distributed with the second issue of his fanzine that featured two tracks by the TVPs.

Alan McGee wouldn’t be the last high profile fan the band would attract. At Kurt Cobain’s insistence they were invited in 1991 to support Nirvana and more recently Pete Doherty and MGMT have declared themselves admirers, the latter titling one track Song for Dan Treacy on their critically acclaimed Congratulations album.

Despite the high profile recommendations though, mainstream success has never materialised for the TVPs and this is likely down to the fact that Dan Treacy, the sole consistent member of the band since its inception, is one of those mercurial talents who are completely ill-suited to fame – even many of his devoted coterie of fans might find it difficult to disagree with the theory that he has repeatedly and deliberately sabotaged his own career over the years.

Despite this, Treacy has continued to make fascinating and innovative music over a period of decades that have also seen him suffer periodic breakdowns and homelessness. He’s also been imprisoned four times; battled long term drug and alcohol problems and, in 2011, he ended up in a critical condition in hospital that required an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain, the singer having to be induced into a coma for some time afterwards.

His band, who can claim to be massively influential on what has become known as ‘indie’, first surfaced in 1978 with a ramshackle DIY debut single 14th Floor, which they put out themselves on GLC Records.

John Peel was highly encouraging, he played the track and read out a letter that Treacy had sent him that listed the band members as Hughie Green, Bob Monkhouse and Bruce Forsyth; Peel also mentioned them in his weekly column in Sounds, where he connected them to another pivotal independent act, the Swell Maps whose Read About Seymour was another big Peel favourite of the time.

The next TVPs release, the Where’s Bill Grundy Now? E.P would again be on their own label, this time named Kings Rd Records – Treacy being largely brought up on the 7th (rather than the 14th floor) of a Kings Road high-rise. The only other release on this label would be another E.P, We Love Malcolm by ‘O’ Level.

Here’s Part Time Punks from the E.P, a satirical dig at the tabloid inspired new wave masses who would descend on Chelsea at weekends to pose, and if you had never understood the following references in the song’s lyrics before, you do now: ‘They’d like to buy the ‘O’ Level single, or Read about Seymour, but they’re not pressed in red, so they buy The Lurkers instead.’

mp3 : Television Personalities: Part Time Punks

JAMIE H

JC adds…

I’m not sure if you’re still a regular reader Jamie, but I want to say a big thanks for the original piece and hope you don’t mind it’s been re-produced in this way.

Here’s a few other TVP songs from their lengthy career:-

mp3 : Television Personalities: Where’s Bill Grundy Now? (Kings Road Records EP, 1978)
mp3 : Television Personalities: I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives (Rough Trade single, 1981)
mp3 : Television Personalities: How I Learned To Love The….Bomb (Dreamworld Records single, 1986)
mp3 : Television Personalities: Salvador Dali’s Garden Party (Fire Records EP, 1989)

MY GO-TO ALBUM WHEN OUT ON LONGER WALKS

I might be five years behind the times, but I don’t care.

Drew while leaning Across The Kitchen Table has consistently talked up Hifi Sean to me for a number of years.  Robert and Hugh, my sidekicks at the Simply Thrilled nights have done likewise.  I’ve always liked what I was hearing but never enough to make me go out and buy things….the digital copies I had of some songs were satisfying enough.

But one day last year, Hifi Sean put out a wee note on social media that he was selling off ten vinyl copies of his 2016 album, Ft., for £10 plus P&P.  Having been tipped off by the Simply Thrilled team, I jumped in and grabbed the bargain.  A double album with 13 tracks….there was bound to be something of interest beyond the one utterly brilliant track that I already knew well.

It arrived a couple of weeks later, and to my surprise and delight, there was a free 7″ single also included.  I put the record on the turntable, and hooked up the gizmos for making mp3s with the idea of having it transfer quickly to the iPod.  As it turned out, I had a few other things to be getting on with that day, and so I was in and out of the room and not giving the album too much attention.  As such, it was on a walk a couple of days later that I gave it a proper listen.

Here’s a few words lifted from elsewhere, written back in 2017:-

Hifi Sean is a DJ, Producer and Songwriter, currently known for his album ‘Ft.’, which he describes as ‘electronic, psychedelic soul’. Released in 2016, the album boasts collaborations with an extraordinarily diverse range of artists including some of the most significant underground musical icons of the past 40 years.

‘Ft.’s stellar collection of artists includes:- Yoko Ono, avant garde musician, conceptual art icon and one of the most controversial female artists of all time; Bootsy Collins widely regarded as one of the finest Funk/RnB bass players in the world; Dave Ball co-founder of Soft Cell, the UK’s notorious synth pioneers with the uniquely sleazy electric soul, Fred Schneider from the manic, bizarre and highly innovative US new-wave group B-52’s and Alan Vega, vocalist of the seminal 
proto-punk New York duo Suicide.

‘Ft’ has attracted significant critical praise and broke the top 20 album chart; tracks released from the album have also proved immensely popular. The animated video for his Yoko Ono Collaboration ‘In Love with Life’ received a share from YouTube themselves to their 66 million subscribers. His current single “Testify” feat. Crystal Water reached #2 in the Shazam chart, #3 in the iTunes Dance chart and spent 3 months in the top 30 singles; it was further hyped at the start of the year by Black Madonna in her Radio 1 Essential Selection of acts to watch in 2017 for Pete Tong.

Hifi Sean is probably better known to most folk who visit this blog as Sean Dickson, frontman of The Soup Dragons, one of the finest bands to come out of Bellshill.  And as much as I’ve loads of time for everything he did with that band back in the day, none of it really comes close to the magnificence of the tunes on Ft.

mp3: Hifi Sean – Testify (ft. Crystal Waters)
mp3: Hifi Sean – In Love With Life (ft. Yoko Ono)
mp3: Hifi Sean – Ultratheque (ft. Dave Ball)
mp3: Hifi Sean – Truck (ft. Fred Schneider)

I never imagined that Yoko Ono would ever feature on this blog……….

I’ve, of course, rectified things since by giving it plenty of spins on the turntable to the extent that I’m probably annoying the neighbours and close to getting an ASBO.  The vinyl is now sold out, but there’s a handful of CD copies going for the bargain price of £5.  Very highly recommended.  Just click right here.

Incidentally, Hifi Sean has just come up with something truly special for 2021. And thanks to a heads-up from the above-mentioned Robert, I’ve managed to obtain a vinyl copy of the single:-

In this instance, Hifi Sean gets his hands on a that had the vocal of the soul diva Loleatta Holloway singing the Style Council classic ‘Shout to the Top’ which was recorded and released by Fire Island (English house music duo, Pete Heller and Terry Farley) in 1998.

Seemingly there were no musical parts on the tape which landed in Sean’s hands, only the vocal, so he went about rewriting the arrangement and the record label is right to claim he brings this beauty into the present day with three versions that include a soulful string laden soul groover, a late-night gospel house jam and a swooning orchestral reprise. Closing the EP, the reprise includes the last repeated line we all want to hear, and we all want to believe right now.

“It’s going to be alright”

Indeed.

JC

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Eleven : ATMOSPHERE/SHE’S LOST CONTROL

Thanks for the terrific responses to the re-introduction of this series – there’s been a number of suggestions which are now forming an orderly queue along with a few that I had already picked out myself and pulled together an early draft.

As it turns out, I had already scheduled Atmosphere/She’s Lost Control as the next entry in the series when regular reader, Mark French, who I should also mention has supplied a fantastic ICA which I hope to have up very soon, suggested it would be a good addition for a Monday read.

It’s a timely addition as it was only around just after the turn of the year that I got my hands on a copy of the single after a gap of more than three decades.  I did buy it back in the day, but sadly it was one of those pieces of vinyls which ended up being badly treated, not just by me but the various flatmates throughout the 80s, to the extent that the sleeve ended up grubby, discoloured, tattered and torn while the vinyl jumped, skipped, hissed and popped to the extent that it was unplayable.  As such, it was one day thrown out with the rubbish…..

It’s long been on the list of things to try and pick up, but I was adamant I would do so by finding a copy in a second-hand or charity store as it’s the sort of release I would want to check for condition before making the purchase  – I always feared Atmosphere, being such a quiet song in places, would have loads of unwanted background interference, while She’s Lost Control, like my own former copy, would be full of jumps from being played too much by drunks who were dancing too close to the record player.

But, with the COVID restrictions always seeming to be getting extended, I decided to plunge into Discogs with my fingers crossed.  There was one seller who was asking for a little bit over the going rate, but his feedback scores from other buyers indicated that he wasn’t one who knowingly or even unwittingly rated his vinyl less than it really was.  A Mint Copy, after all these years was out of the question, especially given that the white sleeve would be near impossible to keep perfect, but on the basis of the vinyl being ‘Near Mint’ and the sleeve being ‘Very Good Plus’, I took the plunge, and as you’ll hear, got a nice return:

mp3: Joy Division – Atmosphere
mp3: Joy Division – She’s Lost Control

As I’m sure most of you know, Atmosphere was originally released in March 1980 as a stand-alone, limited edition, 7″ single for Sordide Sentimental, a French label, with its b-side being Dead Souls. It is incredible to look back and realise that everyone was content to have it issued this way when it would have been a perfect single for Factory Records, or indeed more than worthy of being kept back for later inclusion on Closer, the album that Joy Division would record in London around the time Atmosphere was enjoying its release just over the channel.

It was only in the wake of the death of Ian Curtis, and with the ever-increasing number of fans pleading for a wider release, that Factory relented and issued the single, on 12″ vinyl, but with a different version of She’s Lost Control as the b-side.  It was a very welcome move – I think just over 1500 copies of the Sordide Sentimental release were pressed up, and today you’re looking close to a four-figure sum if you want to get your hands on one of them.

Atmosphere is spellbinding; it’s the perfect marriage of the sorts of mesmerising music written by Joy Division with the studio genius of Martin Hannett. For a long time, it was still something of a secret to the outside world – the 1980 re-release sold only in reasonable numbers – and it wasn’t until 1988 when a fresh re-release, on vinyl and CD to accompany the Substance compilation, that it entered the charts, peaking at #34.

The 1988 re-release was also the occasion for the making of the haunting promo video, directed by Anton Corbijn, who would, of course, almost 20 years later, direct Control, the biopic of Ian Curtis which, when I saw it at one of its very earliest showings at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007 at the ungodly hour of 10am on a Saturday morning, (the tickets for the original screening the previous evening were impossible to get), reduced me to a blubbering wreck at the end when the opening notes of Atmosphere were played over the images on screen. It remains one of the most surreal experiences of my life, emerging out of the cinema to a dazzling midday sun trying to get my red raw eyes to adjust….even just thinking about it as I type these words sends a shiver down my spine.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Part 41)

Despite my falling out of love with R.E.M. following the abysmal Reveal, I still bought their singles and the In Time Greatest Hits package (but only because of the limited CD format). I still held onto a tiny piece of hope, see. The release of the not-very-new-really “new” song Bad Day did lift my spirits a bit. It had a bit of life about it and despite harking back to their indie-guitar heyday (after all it was written in the mid-80s), it felt like maybe they were done with the mid-tempo plodding and not-always-successful experimentation that marred their more recent work.

But In Time held another surprise in the form of a “proper” new track – Animal. And this is where I really thought we’d turned a corner.

mp3: R.E.M. –  Animal [new mix]

Animal is fantastic. OK, maybe not the most immediately catchy tune in the band’s armoury, but it rocked in an entirely different way to how the band had rocked before. And boy did we need R.E.M. to rock again. It kind of sounds like they channelled the spirit of Monster while on LSD and listening to Revolver. In fact, that intro has definite parallels with Tomorrow Never Knows. It’s got that glammy swagger that the louder tracks on Monster had, but goes off in another direction altogether. While Monster wanted to take us to bed, Animal wants to take us into space. Stipe’s lyrics seem to back this up with lines like:

“Point me to the stars I’m up for the chase”
“The future and the truth, on my rooftop. Whoa!”
“I am vibrating at the speed of light / Take my hand, we’ll wind up the night”
“Tell me I’m the anchor of my own ascension / Tell me I’m a tourist in the 4th dimension.”

It’s a song that made me hope this was where R.E.M. were going. It sounded like they were making an effort again, that they actually still cared about making interesting music. But what amazes me is how polarising Animal appears to be amongst fans. It’s a real Marmite song – you either love it or loathe it. I really cannot understand the hate towards it though – it was the sound of a band who proved they still had something to give. They sounded energised and fresh. It was what every R.E.M. fan had been waiting for, surely. Alas no, some people just don’t like it. But that’s fine, some people like Imitation Of Life

(JC interjects ‘Guilty As Charged!’)

Animal was released as a single on 5th January 2004 and peaked at a lowly #33 in the single chart. It was remixed for the single, and to me sounds even better, especially in the chorus. It’s difficult to point out exactly what’s different but if you put a pair of decent headphones on and listen to the two versions back-to-back you’ll hear what I mean. Live, it rocked even harder than in the studio.

Speaking of live versions, what about the b-sides? Well, in the UK, just the one lone format was released – a CD single which included a live version of the Reckoning fave Pretty Persuasion, recorded in front of a small audience in Clinton Recording Studios, NYC. It’s adequate, but not as energetic as they used to it.

mp3: R.E.M. – Pretty Persuasion [live]

The CD was also enhanced with a video featuring a preview of the forthcoming live DVD Perfect Square recorded in Germany the previous year. The song chosen? Yaaaawn…..

mp3: R.E.M. – Losing My Religion [live]

OK, so the UK b-sides were a bit of a disappointment, not for the first time, so here’s a couple of bonus tracks for you. Overseas, Animal came with some different live tracks. In both Europe and Canada, two CDs were released. One of them contained the Pretty Persuasion as featured on the UK release, plus from the same show, this superior version of a Document highlight:

mp3: R.E.M. – Welcome To The Occupation [live]

A two-track CD in these territories gave us this little diamond from a session recorded for Nic Harcourt on LA radio station KCRW:

mp3: R.E.M. – So. Central Rain [live]

No doubt the UK fans drew the short straw…

Just eight months later, a brand new R.E.M. single hit the shelves, a prelude to their 13th studio album. I held my breath for a beautiful reconciliation…

The Robster

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #255: THE PRAYERS


For the second successive Saturday, it’s a return to some words from The Big Gold Dream boxset;-

“The Prayers have the honour of having been the first band to release a record on Egg Records following label founder Jim Kavanagh’s adventures running Simply Thrilled fanzine and being part of the Sha La La flexidisc network.

Sister Goodbye/Under The Deep Blue was followed by Fingerdips/Head Start, with a 12” EP, also called Fingerdips, later compiling both singles alongside a bonus track from an Egg Records sampler. When Kavanagh reactivated the Egg name in the early noughties, a series of archival CDr compilations including Everything But The Rubber Cat by The Prayers. This featured the five Fingerdips 12” tracks, plus five demos, and is now as rare as hell’s teeth.”

As it turns out, I have two songs by The Prayers on the hard drive; Head Start, one half of the second of the singles released on Egg Records can be found on Disc 5 of Big Gold Dreams.

Prior to that, one half of the debut single was included on the C88 boxset released back in 2017, again by Cherry Red Records, and was described in the accompanying booklet as ‘coinciding with Sarah Records first flush but The Prayers’ sound was grittier, more psychedelic’

And so, for your enjoyment this week, here is something from the release with catalogue number Egg one:-

mp3: The Prayers – Sister Goodbye

My take on things, on the basis of Sister Goodbye, is that The Prayers, while not being terribly distinctive, did at least make a noise that would be worth investigating further.  But then again, Head Start is more of the psychedelic sound mentioned in the C88 booklet and really doesn’t do too much for me:-

mp3: The Prayers – Head Start

I’m sorry that I’m so scant with info this week, other than to mention the names of the band members – Hugh McLachlan (vocal, guitar), Colin Murray (guitar), Andy Muiry (drums) and Bob Gregory (bass). But this is a band I knew nothing of back in the day and if it hadn’t been for the inclusion of these tracks on different boxsets, they would still lead to a shrugging of my shoulders.

JC

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS : JONATHAN SINGS

Album: Jonathan Sings – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
Review: Sounds  (unknown date)1984
Author: Bill Black

IT’S BEEN a long time since Jonathan Richman‘s last album, Back In Your Life, and apart from the release of some interesting Kim Fowley produced demos featuring the original Modern Lovers line-up (boasting future members of Talking Heads and The Cars), there’s been little for fans of this Boston boy with the asthmatic’s voice and the frail rock ‘n’ roll tunes to get their teeth into.

All the more frustrating then, that his first album in four years, Jonathan Sings, should take nearly nine months finding a home and release date in Britain. But trusty old Rough Trade do the business yet again and I suggest they have an out ‘n’ out winner on their hands.

Those of you who remember who enjoyed a brief flowering in the British charts towards the end of the Seventies with songs like ‘Egyptian Reggae’ are going to be surprised by Jonathan Sings, for whilst the debate over whether he is childlike or just plain childish – the Yanks’ answer to the puerile punkiness of John Otway – continues, Richman has got on with the job of refining his own interpretations of his first love, Fifties doo-wop and early rock ‘n’ roll music.

He is helped by a new-look Modern Lovers featuring two female backing vocalists. Admittedly more like the Roches than the Ronettes, their warm, answering (“tell us Jonathan…”) tones work wonderfully with Richman’s naturally nervous voice.

Better still is the sparse instrumentation. Upright bass, minimal drumming and Richman’s racey rhythm guitar connect in a thoroughly authentic way, giving songs like ‘This Kind Of Music’, ‘Stop this Car’ and ‘Those Conga Drums’ (a dead ringer for the Coasters) an unforced folky feel.

But most impressive is the tenor of Richman’s lyrics. “The Neighbors’, Not Yet Three’ (written from a baby’s perspective with the priceless line “I’m stronger than you/You’re simply bigger than me”) and even the seemingly serene ‘That Summer Feeling’ reveal partially concealed moods of anxiety and fear that have previously languished in the shadows of his, er, “wackier” work.

But there’s plenty of the old Richman too – the ‘let me out, I’d rather walk’ hilarity of ‘Stop This Car’ and the jokey jingle ‘Give Paris One More Chance’ – so you can safely say that this is the most satisfying Modern Lovers album of them all.

JC adds…….

I was too busy back in 1984 throwing shapes to indie music in student unions to pay any attention to Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers. There was also the fact with so much good music was coming out of Glasgow and the wider environs, it was easy enough not to pay any attention to stuff that was coming out of America.

It was a few years later, thanks primarily to Jacques the Kipper including a few songs on mix tapes that I really paid some attention.  But even then, it didn’t lead me to buying much in the way of the back catalogue, preferring instead to pick up compilation efforts such as 23 Great Recordings By Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers (Castle Communications, 1993), and A Plea For Tenderness (Nectar Masters, 1995) both of which were cheaply acquired.

I’ve since picked up a couple of actual albums but not, as yet, Jonathan Sings, and given the prices being asked on-line for even a poor condition second-hand copy, I’m unlikely to. But, I’ve acquired some tracks from other music blogs in recent(ish) years:

mp3: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – That Summer Feeling
mp3: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – You’re The One For Me
mp3: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – This Kind Of Music
mp3: Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Not Yet Three

And I’ve a different take on one of its songs, courtesy of it being re-recorded on as solo album, Jonathan Sings Country, released in 1990:-

mp3: Jonathan Richman – The Neighbors

He’s an acquired taste in many ways, but I like him.

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (54)

Controversial?

I think much of the critical reaction to Oasis is driven by what happened after, in terms of them being the derivative all-lads together, sing-a-long-at-festivals and the legacy of every subsequent guitar band to emerge out of the UK being lauded/branded as their successors.

Oh, and the fact that the constant fall-outs between Liam and Noel Gallagher all too often seemed pre-meditated, designed in the main to garner column inches in the tabloid newspapers for whom they were something of a godsend.

One thing worth remembering is that Oasis were something of a slightly slow burner to begin with.  The debut single didn’t crack the Top 30.  The follow-up stalled at #11.  The third single was a slightly bigger success in that it reached #10.  These were released in April, June and August 1994, in advance of the debut album Definitely Maybe.

They were a band who paid their dues in 1994.  This is a comprehensive list of the cities and towns they played in between 23 March and 18 June, just prior to their first appearance at Glastonbury:-

Bedford, London, Tunbridge Wells, Oxford, Birmingham, Southampton, Bristol, Bath, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Stoke-on-Trent, Leeds, Liverpool, Kingston upon Hull, Coventry, Portsmouth, Newport, Derby, Leicester, Windsor, Northampton, Chelmsford, Cambridge, London, Sheffield, Birmingham, Cardiff, Ilford, Norwich, London, Manchester, Preston and Glasgow.

The venues were all small or medium-sized, the sorts of places that bands go to in the hope of creating a bit of a buzz and attracting an ever-increasing fanbase.

Things really did change dramatically after the debut album, with a #1 single before the horribly manufactured Britpop fight with Blur in which the Mancunians would lose the battle to have a single go straight to #1 but would win the so-called war as (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? went on to sell 5 million copies in the UK and 22 million copies worldwide.

Supersonic did sound quite different from the norm in April 1994 and, for my money, is a very worthy debut. I’d never, however, have predicted what would happen next……

mp3: Oasis – Supersonic

As would become the norm, Oasis provided three other tracks on the CD single, with these b-sides usually being previously unreleased numbers, along with the occasional cover. The thought of the single being given any sort of remix treatment was frowned upon:-

mp3: Oasis – Take Me Away
mp3: Oasis – I Will Believe (live)
mp3: Oasis – Columbia (white label demo)

In this instance, none of the b-sides can be labelled as classics or fan-favourites, a situation that would soon change with some of the most popular and enduring Oasis songs being sneaked out quietly and without fanfare, with one or more b-sides often being superior to the actual single.

Supersonic entered the charts in at #31. It would drop out of the Top 75 within two weeks, although such would be the mania around Oasis that fans would continue to buy the single in reasonable numbers over an extended period, with the result that it actually spent 60 weeks in the Top 100 all-told, including a remarkable 30 weeks from November 95 to June 96, on the back of the success of Morning Glory.

Incidentally, in an era when CD was king, Creation Records did press up a smallish number of copies of Supersonic on 7″ and 12″ vinyl, which now fetch around £50 – £75, even if not considered a mint copy.

JC

FROM THE VAULTS OF A GLASGOW BASED INDIE-LABEL (1)

Bubblegum Records was a label launched in Glasgow back in late 2009.  It lasted just two years but in that time was responsible for the release but in that time was responsible for 22 releases: 14 CDs and 8 limited edition, download only singles (For Singles Only imprint), featuring an array of bands and musicians from all over the world.  It was quite a remarkable effort, coinciding with that point in time when myspace seemed destined to be the future for new and emerging music, when in fact it was merely a staging post for further developments across social media networks and platforms.

It truly was a labour of love for the individuals involved.  There was a chain of thought that, while the availability of music through digital means was a welcome development enabling a bigger and wider exposure to listeners and potential fans, most folk still had a preference for getting a hold of some sort of physical product.

For many bands, and small labels, CDrs had become a cheap, DIY way to provide that physical product and there was a growing sense within the pre-Bubblegum Records camp of wanting to do things a bit differently, which I guess tends to be the philosophy of many entrepreneurs involved in all aspects of the creative industries.

A key aspect of this embryonic notion of a label was that the label couldn’t, at that stage, pay for recording but would pay all costs relating to the CDs being pressed, distribution, art work (where needed – some bands designed their own releases), marketing, and local gigs. It was also essential that bands/artists retain all copyright to their material.  In taking these steps the label would attempt to stop the growing practice of bands having to Pay-to-Play (bands would receive a cut of any profits made from gigs) or the dubious practice of each member of a band having to buy their own CDrs from a small label if they wanted a copy of the release.

Bubblegum Records had the aim of drawing closer attention to new ‘independent’ music, but in its widest possible sense and not just jingly-jangly guitars featuring young blokes with fashionable haircuts.  The roster would, in due course, feature some local bands but the label launched with Better Set Your Phasers to Stun, a 5-track EP by Hyperbubble, an occasionally experimental and occasionally synth-pop duo consisting of husband and wife team Jeff and Jess DeCuir from San Antonio, Texas.  Hyperbubble had been on the go for around six years, having already released two albums on small independent labels in America, however, both Jeff and Jess had previously been in other bands together; Crevice and Pink Filth.  The lead track from Better Set Your Phasers to Stun was in fact their take on a song originally written and recorded by Helen Love, the Welsh indie band who have been mainstays of the scene here in the UK since forming in the early 90s.

mp3: Hyperbubble – Better Set Your Phasers To Stun (single mix featuring Helen Love)

The EP, catalogue number BGUM01, had two further mixes of ‘Phasers’ along with two original tracks composed and performed by Hyperbubble:-

mp3: Hyperbubble – Beach Party UFO
mp3: Hyperbubble – Disgow Glasgow

The EP was re-released in 2014, on Socket Sounds, with the first 3 tracks remaining the same. Beach Party UFO and Disgow Glasgow were replaced by 2 additional remixes of ‘Phasers’.  Hyperbubble featured on Bubblegum Records on 4 more occasions but more on that later …

The label’s next release was a complete contrast with it being Flesh and Paper, the debut EP by Lean Tales, a Glasgow four-piece with the standard line-up. Information is quite scant, but the members were Imogen Velouria (vocals), Chris Harvie (guitar), Erika Sella (bass) and Craig Patrick (drums).

I’ve been supplied with a copy of the band bio supplied to the label at the time of the release:-

“Lean Tales are Imogen (the singer who is always late for rehearsals), Chris (the grumpy guitar player who loves nothing more than a good book on WWII), Erika (bassist; a notorious hypochondriac in love with Jon Snow) and Craig (drummer and medical student-the only member of the band who doesn’t suffer from regular neurosis). 

They formed in 2007-almost by chance- through a shared love of Pixies, The Smiths, Young Marble Giants, The Cramps, Dolly Mixture, cheap horror films and a now-defunct Glasgow club called The National Pop League.

They have been going for about a year, playing gigs in their hometown of Glasgow, spending too much time in Mono and fighting over what covers to play at gigs. 

They have worked with small labels such as Series Two Records, Bon Vivant Records and Spanner Records and got radio plays in Europe and the US. They like fanzines, DIY projects and socialism. They want the railways to be nationalised.  

Lean Tales like songs to be short and sweet.  They are sometimes shambling, but hate tweeness.” 

mp3: Lean Tales – The Taste of Superglue
mp3: Lean Tales – Penny On The Floor
mp3: Lean Tales – Money Smile
mp3: Lean Tales – Days Are Quick

The first time I listened to Days Are Quick, I was struck by how Imogen’s singing style was similar in ways to that of Dolores O’Riordan, the late singer of The Cranberries – or am I over-thinking things?

I had thought that the above songs comprised Lean Tales’ only commercial release, but in fact they released one more song on Bubblegum, Running Birthday Cake, and recorded at least 2 more songs: Come Take Me and Laundry Pills at the same sessions as the EP. These were discussed as Bubblegum Records releases. It was not to be.  Erika decided to return home to Italy and Chris, her partner, joined her. It’s a bit of a pity as I reckon all four of the songs on this EP are well worth a few repeat listens.

The intention is not to go through all 22 releases by Bubblegum, but I will return occasionally in future times with a few more bands never previously featured on the blog.

JC

(with a very special thanks to the folk behind Bubblegum Records who helped with the fact checking and supplied some anecdotes)

BURNING BADGER’S RARE RECORDS (Part 1): THE APHEX TWIN

Badgers Rare Records #1 – Come To Daddy (Promotional Mixes) – Aphex Twin (Warp Records)

SWC writes…….

After JC revealed that the Spectrum album was worth somewhere near £200, I decided it was time to tell you about the ‘Come to Daddy’ Record in the box. There is a backstory, inevitably.

Badger and I are in a team building day and the hired person has just asked us to write down five people, living or dead that we want to invite to a dinner party. He gives us five minutes to think about it. Five minutes. This is a topic that Badger and I talk about literally every day, we need like twenty seconds.

I know what Badger will write before he has even written it, and likewise he can do mine.

Badger will write Thomas Hardy, L.S Lowry, David Gower, Osvaldo Ardilles and Richard D James.

I will write Jason Pierce, Ivan Illich, Roger Bannister, Tony Hancock and Helen Baxendale.

The five minutes is up and slowly the hired suit works his way around the room and gives us five more minutes to explain why. Badger stands up and reads his out.

“First up Thomas Hardy. Because when we’d finished the roast beef he could read ‘The Convergence Of The Twain’ to us all whilst we puffed away on Cuban cigars illegally smuggled into country inside Hardy’s obligatory Top Hat“ and with that he starts quoting…

“In a solitude of the sea, Deep from human vanity And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she…”. He pauses.

“Next up, L.S Lowry, and I’d ask him to draw a picture of us all after the meal whilst Hardy orates. After Hardy has finished we will retire to the garden, where firstly David Gower will replay his innings against India at Headingley in 1985, with me playing the part of the Indian bowler, but knowing Gower I will probably bowl him out after four balls for a duck.

After Gower, Ossie and I would recreate Carlos Rey’s goal from Escape to Victory, whilst Lowry and co shout “Stay on your feet Ossie!” as loud as they can. And then, only then, Richard D James would DJ until the early hours spinning tracks from his albums ’Drukqs’ and ‘Selected Ambient Works Vol 1 and 2’ from a hastily arranged DJ booth in a tree…oh, and I don’t care if you don’t know who Richard D James is. You should. That is all”. He sits down.

There is applause. Obviously.

I sigh I have to follow that with a reason for why I want Helen Baxendale at my dinner table, other than the fact that she is fit.

mp3: Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)

I’ll add some context as to why Badger chose these five people, Badger read out the ‘Convergence of the Twain’ at his dad’s funeral in 2013. It was his dad’s favourite piece of writing. He would have wanted his dad at the Dinner Party but modesty probably prevented him for saying that because at the time of this event his dad was really ill.

In 2007 he bought his wife a beautiful framed copy of an LS Lowry picture (Lowry is her favourite artist) for their 10th wedding anniversary.

Badger told me that he once asked David Gower to be his best man at his wedding, after meeting him by accident outside Stevenage Railway Station (Gower refused, the dolt). Gower did sign a copy of ‘Black and Blue’ by Ian Rankin for him though (“It was all I had that was made out of paper”). On the wall in the spare bedroom of Badger Towers is a framed No. 7 Spurs Shirt, signed by one Osvaldo Ardilles. It’s still muddy.

mp3: Bucephalus Bouncing Ball

And then there was the Aphex Twin or more importantly there was this record. A record so rare that people on Discogs called it “A Holy Grail of Aphex Twin records”. Less than 500 copies of this record exist and Badger had one of them, (there are actually lots of Aphex Twin records that are rarer than this).

When I found out how rare this was and how much it was changing hands for, I phoned Lorna and told her and this is what she said:-

“I know”.

I asked if she wanted it back, its valuable I tell her.

“No” she said, with a sigh. “I bought that for Tim, he saw a copy online and mentioned it to me and laughed about how expensive it was, he couldn’t believe it. It cost me £200 from a dealer in London, it’s never been played”.

A pause.

“I wasn’t going to tell you that. I bought it for him a week before I had my car crash and it was a present because he was going to be a daddy and after the crash, well that didn’t happen”.

Shit. This conversation isn’t going quite to plan. I feel like an arse. (about five years ago The Badgers were expecting their first child, but tragically after a car crash, Lorna lost the baby).

There is silence. I don’t know what to say. I stumble around the subject, I mean I had no idea about the significance of the record.

“It’s fine, sweetie” she tells me. “Honestly, I thought he’d got rid of it, I really wouldn’t have minded it he did. If it makes you happy, sell it and donate the proceeds to charity, most of those records held good memories for Tim, but that one probably wouldn’t have, much as he loved Aphex Twin. It shouldn’t have been in that box though, perhaps I should have checked before.”

Oh god, no; absolutely this is not your fault I tell her. It’s OK. Please forget I mentioned it. We sigh, and I change the subject to something else. I think I mentioned the new road into Newton Abbot.

mp3: Come to Daddy (Little Lord Faulteroy Mix)
mp3: Flim

And with that we say goodbye. I feel miserable for the rest of the day.

I haven’t sold the record, but seriously if any of you readers want to make me a sensible offer (for charity) then I will listen. The music won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it is a seriously rare piece.

The double twelve-inch promo of ‘Come to Daddy’ is one of the rarest records that I have ever owned. The second Twelve Inch (sides C and D) contained four tracks that were never released anywhere as far as I know.

Here they are just for you.

mp3: To Cure A Weakling Child (Contour Regard)
mp3: Funny Little Man
mp3: Come To Daddy (Mummy Mix)
mp3: IZ-US

SWC

JC adds…….

I know that there’s a few Aphex Twin fans out there among the regulars who will be aware of the rare nature of these particular pieces of vinyl.  I’ve looked it up on Discogs and there’s not a copy for sale just now.  Two separate copies went for more than £200 in February 2021, so that’s probably what would be a decent bid if anyone wants to make an offer.

I’ll take any bids from anyone who is interested.

Please submit them to the usual address – thevinylvillain@hotmail.co.uk – and I’ll send you back an acknowledgment at the earliest opportunity.  Come the end of April 2021, I’ll chat to SWC, and he’ll then decide if a suitable offer has been put on the table and take things from there.

Many thanks.

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Ten : COME SATURDAY

I got a bit depressed and fed up looking at the Landfill Indie contenders, albeit there were some I was prepared to talk up.  The very mention, however, of Toploader by a few of you in the comments section last week brought the sobering realisation of there being even greater depths of despair awaiting me if I kept the series going, albeit I’ve never thought of that particular band as being indie.  They are more, on the basis of the one hit single which everyone knows, an MOR pop band who just happened to have indie band haircuts….

So, I’m going back to the series of late 2020 in which I pull out a piece of vinyl from the collection, give it a fresh spin and record it at 320kpbs so that I can offer a hi-quality rip for your pleasure.  The previous nine efforts, in chronological order, were:-

1. Paul Haig – Blue For You
2. Kirsty MacColl – A New England
3. Associates – Party Fears Two
4. New Order – Blue Monday
5. Go-Betweens – Cattle and Cane
6. Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love….
7. Bourgie Bourgie – Breaking Point
8. The Wedding Present – Kennedy
9. Spiritualized – Anyway That You Want Me

The last of these was a guest posting by flimflamfan, and to be honest, I could do with a few more suggestions from regular/irregular readers as to what you would like to have a listen to on a Monday…you don’t even need to write up a guest piece, just make the suggestion and I’ll go dig out some words to accompany it. The only proviso is that I’ll need to have the song in the collection on vinyl as otherwise I can’t do the fresh rip.

Today’s offering is one of the ‘newest’ bits of vinyl to land at Villain Towers in that it was part of a ten-record purchase via Discogs. I’ve been shying away a bit from on-line activity when it comes to second-hand vinyl, partly as it has become hard to find value-for-money, but mainly as too many sellers’ description of their items are so far off the mark that I’ve found myself angry/disappointed that I’ve overpaid for something. I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t let down on this occasion – I went in specifically for one and came out with a large bundle (as I inevitably do!!), with the descriptions ranging from Near Mint to Very Good Plus, with prices to match the quality.

From the 7″ single on green vinyl, released jointly by Slumberland Records and Fortuna Pop in 2008, a band who might really only ever have had one tune, but it was a great tune to listen and/or dance to, no matter how often they released a very slight variation on it:-

mp3: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Come Saturday
mp3: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Side Ponytail

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart were from NYC, forming in 2007 and breaking up in 2019. There were five albums, although I have to confess that I have nothing beyond the time of the second album, Belong, released in 2011. There had been a great deal of energy and momentum over those first four years, with a batch of excellent sounding singles being matched by very listenable LPs and, by all accounts as I never did get to see them, highly enjoyable live sets, but then something of a lull in that having left Slumberland/Fortuna Pop for a different label after the second album, there would be no new material until 2014 with Days of Abandon, a quite prophetic title given it turned out to be received less favourably by the critics and fans alike.

Having said all the above, there may well be some of you out there who think this lot should be consigned to the landfill site……..

JC