THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Seventeen : THE RATTLER

OK….I’ve featured today’s song a couple of times previously over the years, but this will be the first occasion in which the re-released/re-recorded 12″ has ever been made available for your aural pleasures.

The original version of the song has a link to, of all bands, Wet Wet Wet. The pop/soul combo was managed by Elliot Davis who has founded an independent label, based in Glasgow called The Precious Organisation, for which he had grand plans, unless the major labels came calling – which they soon did in the shape of Phonogram.   In the end, only two other acts other than ‘The Wets’ ever released anything on Precious, one of them being Goodbye Mr Mackenzie with The Rattler being issued on 7″ and 12″ vinyl in September 1986.  It was a relative success in that it reached #13 on the Indie Singles Chart, helped by a video appearance on The Tube, the highly popular weekly music programme broadcast on Channel 4 on the early-mid 80s.

Fast-forward two years and a different major label, Capitol Records, had dangled a lucrative contract in front of Goodbye Mr Mackenzie which was duly signed. After a couple of singles hadn’t provided the hoped-for breakthrough, the decision was taken to release the re-recorded version of The Rattler was released in March 1989, going on to enjoy a six-week stint in the Top 75, peaking at #37. It proved, however, to be the only time the band ever cracked the Top 40 of the singles charts, which is something of a mystery as much of their music was tailor-made for radio consumption

mp3: Goodbye Mr Mackenzie – The Rattler (extended version)

There’s three other tracks on the 12″, two of which pay homage to the band’s roots in Edinburgh:-

mp3: Goodbye Mr Mackenzie – Here Comes Deacon Brodie
mp3: Goodbye Mr Mackenzie – Theme From Calton Hill

The former, while nothing to do with his actual real-life story, name checks an 18th Century individual, William Brodie a seemingly respectable tradesman in the city who also served on the Council, holding the position of Deacon of the Incorporation of Wrights, which locally controlled the craft of cabinetmaking. The thing was Brodie maintained a secret life as a housebreaker, abusing his position as the foremost locksmith of the city to get access to the homes of the wealthy, as well as the vaults of banks. It all went wrong in 1788 when a raid on an excise office was botched and although Brodie fled to Amsterdam, he was caught and brought back to Edinburgh where, after a high-profile trial found him guilty, he was sentenced to death by hanging, at the age of 47. My first knowledge of Deacon Brodie came via drinking in the pub which now bears his name as it was the closest to the office of my first place of employment back in 1985.

The latter is an instrumental which sounds as if it would make for a great piece of music over which film or television credits would roll. Calton Hill is a stunning city centre location upon which a number of historical monuments and buildings are situated, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s worth mentioning in passing that, for decades, Calton Hill has also had a reputation as a dangerous place at night, a location where male prostitution, drug use and underage drinking has not been uncommon. It may well have been all the latter rather than the lovely buildings which inspired the title of this particular b-side.

The other track? Possibly one of the best-known shanties of them all:-

mp3: Goodbye Mr Mackenzie – Drunken Sailor

No apologies for the pops and crackles on the four tracks today. It’s the price of using vinyl that’s over 30 years of age and has been picked up second-hand. At least they are available in a hi-res fashion.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Parts 52-57)

The Robster writes…..

And so we’ve made it – the final chapter. This week we round up the odds and sods of the digital-only singles released in the last few years of R.E.M.‘s existence. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge of stuff, so let’s not hang around…

Back in 2006, between Around The Sun and Accelerate, R.E.M. were asked to contribute a track to Instant Karma, an album of John Lennon covers in aid of Amnesty International’s Campaign to Save Darfur. I never thought of R.E.M. as a band who would cover Lennon, but they decided to take on #9 Dream and don’t make a bad job of it, though they have remained fairly faithful to the original. It was the first of four singles released from the album and it was the second track on the tracklisting. The first? Instant Karma! by U2. I mean, in what universe do R.E.M. follow U2 for fuck’s sake? Even R.E.M. at their worst is better than anything Boner and his pompous chums could ever come up with.

Anyway, #9 Dream was released as a download worldwide on 13th March 2007. Most significantly, the line-up on this track included a certain drummer bearing the name Bill Berry! Yes, the first time he’d featured on an R.E.M. recording since New Adventures in Hi-Fi in 1996. That alone makes this track worth having, doesn’t it?

mp3: R.E.M. -#9 Dream

In addition to the three physical singles released from Accelerate, a couple of digital singles were put out too. In the UK, Until The Day Is Done was chosen. I really like this one. It’s the quietest track on the album, being mainly acoustic-led, and sounds a lot like Low Desert from New Adventures, and a little bit like Drive from AftP. It may not have sounded out of place on either of those records. Released on 14th November 2008, it’s that rarest of things – a digital single with a b-side. Houston is Accelerate’s shortest song, and this version is a bit rough in truth – right from the off there’s a dodgy keyboard chord in there.

mp3: R.E.M. – Until The Day Is Done
mp3: R.E.M. – Houston (single version)

I mentioned last week how Collapse Into Now is rather inconsistent and uneven. Here we get that illustrated perfectly. The first single from the album was released at the tail-end of 2010. It wasn’t a great way to introduce the final record in R.E.M.’s 31 year career. It Happened Today is an embarrassment, Stipe’s lyrics in particular are just dreadful. The opening lines “This is not a parable / This is a terrible / This is a terrible thing” made me wince when I first heard them. But that’s nothing compared to the chorus.

“It happened today / Hooray, hooray
It happened / Hip-hip-hooray.”

From southern poet and storyteller to composer of nursery rhymes for toddlers. What a sad comedown. Before we get 2 minutes in, Stipe appears to give up on the lyrics altogether and the rest of the song is just a choir of vocalists singing ohs and ahs. Apparently Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is in there somewhere.

mp3: R.E.M. – It Happened Today

And yet, the album itself starts with an absolute belter. Discoverer is one of my favourite late-period R.E.M. songs. It was chosen as the album’s FIFTH single, but really ought to have been the first in place of It Happened Today. It’s a huge rousing rocker in a What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? kind of way. Stipe describes this as his first overtly autobiographical song. He’s certainly put himself in a good light.

mp3: R.E.M. – Discoverer

Seven months after Collapse Into Now was unleashed, a brand new, previously unheard song hit the shelves….erm, the digital music sites. Recorded during the Collapse Into Now sessions, it was a song that the band felt should be held over as a parting gift to the fans who had stayed with them. We All Go Back To Where We Belong is a string-laden ballad with some lovely brass turns and a wonderful twangy guitar sound from Peter Buck. It sounds like something Burt Bacharach might have done, but like the album it was Jacknife Lee at the helm.

mp3: R.E.M. – We All Go Back To Where We Belong

Released on 17th October 2011, We All Go Back… featured on the compilation album Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 and was to be the last time we’d hear new material from R.E.M.

Except…

They love a good charity project you know. In 2019, the band unearthed a lost song to benefit Mercy Corps’ Hurricane Dorian relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. Originally recorded for Reveal, Fascinating was on the original master version of the album before being cut at the very last minute. They recorded it again – in the Bahamas – in 2004 for Around The Sun, but once again it never made the final cut.

It’s not one of their better songs in truth, but then when you consider the era it was recorded it’s hardly surprising. To be fair, I like it more than anything on Around The Sun. The band released Fascinating themselves on 12th September 2019 as a one-off single on Bandcamp. While it’s not considered to be their official swan song, it’s worthy enough to be included here.

mp3: R.E.M. -Fascinating

You still here? If so, then JC and I must give a HUUUUUUUUGE thank you to everyone who has endured this series through thick and thin. Extra special thanks to those who left some lovely kind comments. It’s been tough going in parts, but hugely enjoyable.

Which brings me to one last little thing to mention. If, after almost one whole year of R.E.M. Sundays, you still crave more, then as of next week, I will be running a (thankfully much shorter) follow-up series examining those R.E.M. songs that should have been singles. There will be special versions, unreleased b-sides and even cover art for your delectation. I’d love to see you there. You know where I am… http://isthis-thelife.blogspot.com/

JC (with the final words)

I really don’t have all that much to say, except to go on record with an enormous ‘THANK YOU’ to The Robster for his incredible support in making all this possible; similarly, to everyone who has dropped in to add their own thoughts, views and opinions via the comments section, your continued involvement really helped spur the two of us on, giving us the confidence to push ahead with things.  You only need to look back at how tentative we were early on in the series, certainly compared to how we were going about things in the latter stages, to see that we were very much responding to all the things you were saying.

I’ve had a couple of Zoom calls with The Robster recently in which he’s shared with me his plans for the next few weeks for those who might still need that R.E.M. fix, and not only that, but he’s going to get me involved a wee bit further down the line.  So please, tune in to Is This The Life? as I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

As for the Sunday slot on TVV to replace R.E.M?  I think what’s next might put a smile on some faces……. 

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #260: PROJECT A-KO

From The Line Of Best Fit website, posted by Simon Tyers on 17 May 2009:-

“That Projekt A-Ko are reminiscent of Urusei Yatsura isn’t the wildest statement to make.

In fact, bar one member, they are Urusei Yatsura, the Glasgow noiseniks who would have easily qualified as one of the 90’s best British hidden treasures had they not scraped into the top 40 on one occasion. Over the course of three great albums, in uniting the fanzine glitter kids and the pro-American wing that thrived on loud distorted Dinosaur Jr/Sonic Youth dissonance, they were arguably, looking at the likes of Johnny Foreigner and Dananananaykroyd combining much the same elements today, ten years ahead of their time.

And now we’re ten years on from their existence. Indeed, for a good percentage of the album the SST Records-recalling buzzsaw hooks given the abrasive lo-fi treatment could have come straight from 1996’s We Are Urusei Yatsura. If there is a difference it’s that the change of singer and the passage of time has brought a less malevolent tone, Fergus Lawrie more the Lou Barlow to the long-lost Graham Kemp‘s J Mascis.

‘Supertriste Duxelle’ – they still like cryptic song titles too – rides on a bed of streamlined alt-rock that recalls the long-lost Seafood upon which Lawrie and Elaine Graham harmonise between scorching mini-solos and feedback breaks before the whole tone changes into Wedding Present distorted jangle.

‘Molten Hearts’ could have come from Pavement’s Slanted And Enchanted, while ‘Here Comes New Challenger’ and ‘Ichiro On Third’ could almost qualify as pop, albeit pop bent well out of shape, with their harmonies and deceptively simple progressions were it not for the occasional departures into Thurston Moore guitar abuse. You’re similarly reminded at times of My Bloody Valentine, who also took male-female vocals and overdriven noise-pop in their own direction.

They retain the capacity of surprise too. ‘Scintilla’ slows things down to a stately march in the middle, if one scored by Yo La Tengo, while ‘Yoyodyne (Scintilla II)’ goes even further. Acoustic fingerpicking! Piano! Field recordings of children playing! STRINGS! And it doesn’t even sound jarring, much less overreaching to show their maturity away from the overdriven screech, just an almost playful reflective mood that carries on to the stripped back closer ‘Don’t Listen To This Song’, both together acting as an emotionally broken comedown from Yoyodyne‘s previous surges.

Despite all the use of comparison points above Projekt A-Ko are no slavish regurgitators of too-cool-for-school references, but a band who have the capacity to take twisted pop harmonies and whack them well out of shape with the lessons learned from their influences. In truth a little more dynamic variation from the template of hook-harmony-Mascis solo in the latter stages wouldn’t have gone amiss and there’s little left over of the attractive element of imminent peril the old band’s last album Slain By Urusei Yatsura gave off, but when it’s at its best the way the melodies and noise intersect melt away the best part of a decade and it truly is as if business is as usual if in reduced circumstances.”

JC adds….

A short time ago, in the posting by KT on Late of The Pier, I added some thoughts in the comments section about the difficulties in having enough time to actually listen to all the music out there.  The Project A-Ko album, Yoyodyne, is a perfect example of what I’m on about.

I was actually given a free copy of it by Fergus Lawrie many years ago on the back of the old version of the blog saying some very nice things about Urusei Yatsura, something which has continued with the new Vinyl Villain as evidenced by the ICA I lovingly compiled last October.  I listened to it once, thinking that there was a lot there to pick up on, but for whatever reason(s) I never ever got back for a subsequent listen.

Noticing that Project A-Ko were due to come up on this alphabetical run-through of Scottish singers and bands, I dug it out again.  And then I gave it a third listen via the headphones while out walking.  And now, 12 years too late, I’m giving it the time and attention it richly deserves….and, of course, it just means that other music, particularly the newly released stuff, finds itself going into a pile that will take time to sort through.  It’s never-ending.

mp3: Project A-Ko – Supertriste Duxelle

I’m delighted to say that all 13 tracks on Yoyodyne can be found on Bandcamp, as indeed are five other songs that were not included on the album.  Click here for more.

JC

ORIGINAL v COVER : COMMON PEOPLE

The original song is very well known.   I think the majority of you will already know the cover too.  It’s Jarvis v Captain Kirk:-

mp3: Pulp – Common People
mp3: William Shatner – Common People

The former is, arguably, the greatest of all the Britpop era anthems. The latter is 2004, in which Ben Folds hooked up with the veteran actor to help write and then to arrange and record the album Has Been. They also settled on recording a cover of Common People, for which Joe Jackson was also brought in to assist with the chorus.

I don’t see the latter as a comedy or novelty record – the music is too well handled for that while Shatner delivers the lines in the way you would expect from an actor. It’s different and, for the most part, it’s an entertaining few minutes, probably introducing the song to an American audience wholly unaware of its significance in the UK and Europe some ten years earlier.

The result from the Villain Towers adjudicating panel?

A win for the original. It’s one of those songs which will never be bettered no matter who tries and in what way they make the effort.

Once again, this verdict can, should you choose, be overturned on appeal via the comments section……

JC

WE ARE THE GOON SQUAD AND WE’RE COMING TO TOWN (BEEP-BEEP)

So……what’s it all about, Davie?

mp3: David Bowie – Fashion (7″ edit)

The Guardian, in March 2020, listed Fashion at #21 in its rundown of David Bowie‘s 50 Greatest Songs, with feature writer Alexis Petridis offering this summary

Brilliantly claustrophobic, reggae-influenced post-punk funk that casts a jaundiced eye over the ever-changing trends in the world of the hip. The ironic tone of Fashion seemed to be largely missed, possibly because the idea of David Bowie, of all people, protesting about ever-changing trends was frankly a bit rich.

It’s worth remembering that Fashion was recorded in 1980, and therefore one interpretation, as hinted at above by Petridis, could be that it was his sideways dig at a post-punk/new wave scene that many journalists, certainly in the UK, were predicting would change music forever.

Another line of thought that I’ve seen online is that the ‘turn to the left/turn to the right’ lyric was his commentary on the political landscape just a short time after the Tories, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, had come to power.  Things hadn’t been great in the final couple of years of the previous Labour government, but Bowie was predicting it wouldn’t be any different with the sudden shift to the right. If this was indeed was the meaning of the song, then his warning didn’t go far enough given the social unrest across many parts of the country and the way that many traditional communities were more or less abandoned in the remainder of the decade.

But maybe it’s just best that we don’t read too much into things and just enjoy Fashion for what it is, A fabulously catchy, upbeat and jaunty pop song that sounds just about as good on the radio as it does when played through big speakers above a discotheque floor.

Fashion was the second single lifted from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), and while it didn’t provide a follow-up #1 to Ashes to Ashes, it’s #5 position was more than respectable.

The b-side was another track lifted from the album, but with no edit or remix.

mp3: David Bowie – Scream Like A Baby

Both tunes are dominated by the guitar-playing of Robert Fripp, best known to the youngsters these days as the strange looking bloke playing the music as his wife, Toyah Wilcox, frolics in their kitchen. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then check out this You Tube channel/playlist

JC

SENDING GIFTS TO CURRY FAVOUR

The title if the posting is taken from a line written by Howard Devoto, for the Magazine song, Model Worker.  You might well be asking yourself what it has to do with the fact that the record sleeve is clearly by 80s indie band, The Chesterfields.  I’ll do my best to explain…..

A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed the long overdue return of KT to the pages of T(n)VV, thanks to her contributing a piece about one of the CDs in a box which had belonged to our dear, late friend, Tim Badger.   We were warned that it was likely to be a one-off, but everyone who left behind a comment wanted otherwise.

I haven’t heard anything further from KT, and so I’m using today to dedicate a song to her, and her daughter, in the hope that she will think kindly of us and make some time to give us some more words and tunes to enjoy.  The song is a b-side from a 1988 single, released on the band’s own Household Records label:-

mp3: The Chesterfields – Last Train To Yeovil

C’mon KT…..you regaled us all with tales of nice and not-so-nice train drivers steering the 1225 service from Axminster. I know for a fact that some of the trains from Axminster  make their way in the direction of Yeovil, and while I would imagine that the 1225 service won’t be the last one of the day, there’s every chance that Driver A (the nice man) will be responsible for the subject matter of today’s song….I’ve dug deep into the vinyl collection to fish this one out for you and the little ‘un, and reckon it’s a better effort to try and get you aboard (pun intended) than sensing flowers and chocolates.

Last Train To Yeovil was one of four tracks on what was a 12″ only release, with the a-side being a particularly jaunty affair, complete with trumpets and trombones!!:-

mp3: The Chesterfields – Goodbye Goodbye
mp3: The Chesterfields – Better Smile
mp3: The Chesterfields – Hopes For Lauren or Joseph

I have to say, however, that while I like most of what I have by The Chesterfields, they never managed to surpass the majesty of their single for The Subway Organisation in 1987:-

mp3: The Chesterfields – Ask Johnny Dee

Just give me any excuse or opportunity to get that track posted, and I’ll use it.

JC

AS EVER, I’M LATE TO THE PARTY

I’ve never been one to pay too much attention to birthdays, anniversaries etc, so I only learned that Bob Dylan turned 80 yesterday when I read some on-line tributes.

Given that I’ve been trying, without success, to get my good mate Aldo to contribute to this blog, I’ve decided to, in effect, hijack him, by stealing the words he put up on Facebook. As such, it’s really a guest posting, although I chose the song at the end.

Over to Aldo……

“Happy Birthday to Robert Allen Zimmerman, born this day in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesotta.

I can’t necessarily recall when I would have first seen or heard Bob Dylan, my dad did have a couple of his albums in among his vinyl, Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding. Though they rarely, if ever, got played which probably added to my intrigue.
Like the majority of folk, particularly those coming to him latterly, the first Dylan song I would have had some familiarity with was Like A Rolling Stone. I suspect having heard it on one of those Bank Holiday radio programmes along the lines of the “100 Greatest Songs Ever” as voted by Radio 2 listeners.

Therefore my first purchase of one of his records was Highway 61 Revisited because it contained the aforementioned track. The whole album was a revelation, but the closing track, the 11-minute Desolation Row, absolutely captivated me, ending up on repeat until I could practically recite every line.

The purchase of Blonde On Blonde with its ‘Thin, wild mercury sound’, and Bringing It All Back Home followed as I fell deeper under his spell. And eventually those Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding LPs were pulled from the rack for a spin.

Going back to discover the early output was initially a bit of a shock to the system, having been used to the more fully produced, mainly band backed records. With The Times They Are A Changin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan, the stark simplicity of only that sandpaper voice and acoustic guitar took some getting used to.

My growing infatuation coincided with the official release of the much bootlegged 1966 ‘Royal Albert Hall’ show in 1998. Surely the most important live recording in the evolution of rock music?

The next thing of course was for me to try and catch the godlike genius in a live setting. The first was a visit with a work colleague to the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, back in May 2002. Being sat at the back of the vast barn I didn’t come away with the best of impressions. I decided then that I would avoid the arena tours and keep and eye out for slightly more intimate shows. Therefore my next show was a solo trip to London to catch him at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon (by then named the Apollo), this time standing in the stalls, and in much closer proximity it was a far more enjoyable experience.

If Hammersmith was good, I still can scarcely believe the next time I’d catch him in person only a few months later. His tour was stopping at the SECC in June 2004, about a week before the show an announcement came out that he’d follow the arena show with a gig at the Barrowland the next day. I had to be there. Fortunately I managed to secure tickets and it was an evening that will live with me forever. It even elicited the only time I’ve seen him addressing the audience, remarking after a massed sing along by the Barras crowd to Like A Rolling Stone that “I must’ve played that song a few thousand times, and no one’s ever kept up like that”.

The following year I was back in London at another of that city’s great venues, Brixton Academy. I’ve only caught him twice since then, Edinburgh Playhouse in 2009, and most recently the Armadillo (Glasgow) in 2017, where I got to hear him play Desolation Row, the track that so enraptured me early on in my discovery of his catalogue.

Who knows if he’ll ever return to these shores on that never ending tour, but I’m grateful to have seen him the times I have.
We should feel fortunate to have lived in the same time period as Bob Dylan, there’ll never be another like him.”

mp3: Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

ALDO

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Sixteen : MODERN LIFE IS RUBBISH

Don’t worry Drew, I’m not going to post the entire album… but I do know that even one song from Damon Albarn is too much for you to stomach, so you’re excused from participating today (unless you want to be vitriolic in the comments section….)

Myself and my great friend from Across The Kitchen Table have much in common, although I will always accept that his broader tastes make him, for the most part, better qualified to offer considered and worthy opinions on songs and musicians. I happen to think, however, he’s quite wrong about Blur, and in particular, Modern Life Is Rubbish, their second album, released in May 1993.

I’m more than happy to pass the mic to Stephen Thomas Erlewine, from allmusic, to explain why this is such a fantastic and important record:-

As a response to the dominance of grunge in the U.K. and their own decreasing profile in their homeland — and also as a response to Suede’s sudden popularity — Blur reinvented themselves with their second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish, abandoning the shoegazing and baggy influences that dominated Leisure for traditional pop.

On the surface, Modern Life may appear to be an homage to the Kinks, David Bowie, the Beatles, and Syd Barrett, yet it isn’t a restatement, it’s a revitalization. Blur use British guitar pop from the Beatles to My Bloody Valentine as a foundation, spinning off tales of contemporary despair. If Damon Albarn weren’t such a clever songwriter, both lyrically and melodically, Modern Life could have sunk under its own pretensions, and the latter half does drag slightly. However, the record teems with life, since Blur refuse to treat their classicist songs as museum pieces.

Graham Coxon’s guitar tears each song open, either with unpredictable melodic lines or layers of translucent, hypnotic effects, and his work creates great tension with Alex James’ kinetic bass. And that provides Albarn a vibrant background for his social satires and cutting commentary. But the reason Modern Life Is Rubbish is such a dynamic record and ushered in a new era of British pop is that nearly every song is carefully constructed and boasts a killer melody, from the stately “For Tomorrow” and the punky “Advert” to the vaudeville stomp of “Sunday Sunday” and the neo-psychedelic “Chemical World.” Even with its flaws, it’s a record of considerable vision and excitement.

It’s also worth remembering that this was an album with a very difficult birth.  A first attempt, in which Andy Partridge of XTC was in charge of production, failed miserably and was abandoned with just four songs recorded, none of which saw the light of day until 2012 when a box set was pulled together.

The band then called on uber-producer Stephen Street to help them out of a hole and work was completed in December 1992, only for their label, Food Records, to reject it and state it wouldn’t be released unless it included potential singles.  This led to the writing of For Tomorrow (seemingly by a very disgruntled Albarn on Christmas Day ’92), and a return to the studio to record it along with another new song, Chemical World.

Food gave it the green light, but the American label, SBK, demanded that it be re-recorded with Butch Vig taking control, something which the band refused to contemplate.

So, in April 1993, the album was finally released in the UK and Europe.  Despite some positive reviews, MLIR didn’t initially achieve as many sales as Leisure, stalling at #15 when the debut had reached #7, while all three singles (For Tomorrow, Chemical World and Sunday Sunday), barely cracked the Top 30.

The American label delayed the release for a further seven months, also mucking about with the running-order by adding the earlier single Popscene and some b-sides. The label also insisted on an intensive 44-date tour in 1994 to support the album, a situation that almost broke-up the band due to the pressures being imposed on them. It was a miserable period for everyone as the American audiences ignored Blur, with the album selling less than 20,000 copies in comparison to the 87,000 sales of their debut.

The bounce-back came with Parklife, and while it is the record which took them to fame and fortune, it doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned, have anything like the style and substance as can be found on MLIR, thanks in the main to the incredible and inventive guitar work by Graham Coxon, although all four members really are on form throughout.

I’ve long had the album on CD, but a short time ago, I handed over some money to pick up a vinyl copy.  Sadly, it’s not the original, which is not only difficult to find on the second-hand market, but the asking price is usually around £80 and upwards.  Instead, it’s the way more affordable and readily-available re-press, as a double-album, from 2012, which I bought in an actual record shop now that they have been allowed to re-open after many months.

Here’s three of the non-singles from MLIR, all ripped and available at 320kpbs :-

mp3: Blur – Advert
mp3: Blur – Colin Zeal
mp3: Blur – Turn It Up

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Parts 49 – 51)

While touring throughout 2008, R.E.M. knew they had a decision to make. Their contract was up with Warners and the question was ‘what happens next?’. Stipe remarked that: “I need to be away from this for a long time.” Buck suggested: “How about forever?”

“Oddly enough,” said Mills later, “I think that independently we all arrived at the conclusion that this was such a great opportunity to walk away on our own terms, that we thought why not take advantage of it?” So it was that in the spring of 2009, the band went into a local studio in Athens, GA. to start recording demos for the songs that would form their 15th and final studio album. Over the next 18 months, they would record in Portland, Nashville and New Orleans in the States, before decamping to Berlin for the final sessions. It was there, in the grand Meister Halle in the world-famous Hansa Studios, that reality set in.

“We tried to enjoy it and make it as fun as possible,” recalled Mills, “But we’re not super-sentimental people in that sense. The only time we got really poignant was when we were in Berlin where we recorded seven or eight songs. There was no one there really except some friends, family, and significant others, and we knew that was probably the last time we would ever play together as R.E.M. That was a pretty fraught day. But it was fun.”

Collapse Into Now is a deliberately more varied and expansive record than its immediate predecessor. It included special guest appearances by Peaches, Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, and referenced their past at numerous points while also showing their comfort with where they were at the time, ready to draw a line under a stellar 30 year career. It’s not a particularly consistent record – it doesn’t really hang together terribly well to me – but it has some very fine moments.

Of its five – FIVE – digital singles, three were given a physical release in the UK in the form of a triple-pack of 7” singles for Record Store Day. Collectively titled ‘Three’, it kind of displays the various moods and reference points the album gives us.

The curiously-titled Mine Smell Like Honey is a rocker that wouldn’t have been out of place on Accelerate. Its understated verses give way to a rousing chorus that has R.E.M. written all over it. Überlin sounds like Drive, a song that 20 years earlier opened the band’s biggest-selling and best-known album, the one that made them global megastars. It’s probably the most intriguing song on the record. Stipe explained: “I wanted to picture an almost blunt outsider’s perspective – the experience of a guy who is walking through a city that is completely new to him and still very unfamiliar. I just tried to figure out the mind of this outsider. The city could as well be New York. In each of these big, great cities, you can be completely alone. This is the guy up to the last verse, when he finds somebody and says: ‘Let’s try to make something happen. Tonight. Right now.’”

Oh My Heart has another protagonist going to a city, only this time s/he is returning home to New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. The brass instruments lend an almost funereal feel to the song, while Buck’s trusty mandolin returns to lend another air of Automatic For The People to the proceedings.

mp3: R.E.M. – Mine Smell Like Honey
mp3: R.E.M. – Überlin [edit]
mp3: R.E.M. – Oh My Heart

The b-sides were all recorded live during their last ever tour in 2008, featuring songs from very different points in the band’s career. Supernatural Superserious, from their then-current album, was captured in North Carolina; Harborcoat, from 1984’s Reckoning, is from a show in Riga, Latvia; and What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? comes from Oslo in Norway. All three presented here were ripped by yours truly from the 7” singles.

mp3: R.E.M. – Supernatural Superserious [live]
mp3: R.E.M. – Harborcoat [live]
mp3: R.E.M. – What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? [live]

I always felt Collapse Into Now was a slightly underwhelming way for the band to bow out, mainly due to its inconsistency. Nevertheless, it’s still very listenable and does contain a few songs I’d still put on a highlights playlist.

Next week, we bring this whole shebang to a close as we tie up some loose ends and bring you R.E.M.’s swansong. I’ll also have some news for those of you who still need an R.E.M. fix every Sunday morning…

The Robster

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #259: THE PROCLAIMERS

From wiki:-

The Proclaimers are a Scottish rock duo formed in 1983 by twin brothers Craig and Charlie Reid, who were born on 5 March 1962.

They came to attention with their 1987 single “Letter from America”, which reached No. 3 in the United Kingdom, and the 1988 single “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, which topped charts in Australia, Iceland and New Zealand. The Proclaimers have sold over 5 million albums worldwide.

First active from 1983 as an acoustic duo, the Proclaimers moved toward band-oriented rock in later works. The Proclaimers’ style draws from a diversity of influences, including country, folk, and punk rock. Their playing range has included roots rock, alternative rock and folk rock, and their music is typified by their Scottish accents. The Proclaimers often tour internationally, and have released 11 studio albums since 1987, the most recent being 2018’s Angry Cyclist, as well as three compilation albums and a DVD.

I thought The Proclaimers were a breath of fresh air when they burst on to the scene.  Debut album, This Is The Story, released in 1987, is a fine collection of songs, although I’ve always felt that the later version of Letter To America, on which the duo were joined by a band, was far too like Runrig to be listenable…..but then again, it was that version which took them to near the top of the charts, so what do I know?

Sunshine on Leith, the follow-up released in 1988, has some decent tunes on it, not least the title track which has become the terrace song of the fans of Hibernian Football Club, which indeed is the team followed by the Reid Brothers.  The mass sing-a-long after the Scottish Cup win of 2016, ending a run of 114 years without lifting the trophy, was quite exceptional.  But, with it being more band orientated than the largely acoustic debut, I didn’t take to it nearly as much.

I haven’t bought a Proclaimers record since then, and can’t really say I’m all that bothered about it.

mp3: The Proclaimers – Throw The ‘R’ Away

This just happened to be their debut single.  I suppose it’s fair to say that they blazed a trail for quite a lot of the music that’s come out of Scotland in the 21st Century given nobody is worried about singing in their natural accent any longer.

JC

IN CONTRAST TO YESTERDAY

I was quite mean with the music yesterday, with the offer of just 81 seconds worth to listen to.

I’ll make it up for today, with all five tracks taken from the Canadian release, on Vertigo Records, of a 12″ EP by Soft Cell back in 1984:-

mp3: Soft Cell – Soul Inside (11:58)
mp3: Soft Cell – You Only Live Twice (6:59)
mp3: Soft Cell – Hendrix Melody (10:22)
mp3: Soft Cell – Torch (8:29)
mp3: Soft Cell – Her Imagination (4:25)

It all adds up to the best part of 43 minutes…..and apologies if you’re not a Soft Cell fan, but you can skip all this and come back tomorrow for a happy medium.

Soul Inside was the first single taken from the duo’s third studio album, This Last Night In Sodom, and in the UK it reached #16, with it being released, as usual, on the Some Bizarre label. The Canadian EP, which I picked up on a visit a few years ago, differs quite a bit from the UK release in offering up a couple of tracks from olden days; Hendrix Melody, which consists of Hey Joe/Purple Haze/Voodoo Chile, was originally made available in 1983 as one side of a bonus 12″ single with initial copies of the album The Art of Falling Apart, while Torch was a stand-alone single from 1982.

As I previously wrote, back in 2008 when referring to Bedsitter as being one of my all-time favourite singles, I thought Soft Cell were incredible. I loved that the fact that Marc Almond, being far from a classical singer in the true sense of the word, irritated so many folk, as too did his sidekick Dave Ball whose unconventional appearances on the telly seemed to disturb a lot of folk.

And while the parent album is a wee bit on the patchy side, no surprise given it was recorded by the duo knowing it would be their break-up effort, Soul Inside is a fantastic celebration of what the success of the previous four or so years had brought them, an upbeat and joyous anthem of wild celebration which seems to acknowledge that everything, including the downers after the huge highs, really had been worth it.

JC

AKIMAHENKA

I’ve mentioned before that Otoboke Beaver, an all-female punk band from Kyoto, Japan, provided my favourite live music experience of all the gigs I attended in 2019.  As things turned out, they achieved similar in 2020, albeit there were only around five live shows taken in prior to COVID leading to everything being closed down fourteen months ago…..

The band came together as far back as 2009, but releases have been, until recently, quite sporadic as nobody was a full-time musician.  The UK-based indie label, Damnably Records signed the band in 2016, quickly issuing a compilation album that brought together the material released over the years on various Japanese labels along with a new song, released as a single-sided 7″ vinyl in Japan for Record Store Day 2016:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – Akimahenka

It’s 81 glorious seconds and a total earworm of a tune.

Believe it or not, an even faster version, lasting just 74 seconds, was re-recorded in 2019 and issued on the album Itekoma Hits, itself a magnificent bundle of noise and energy which offers up 14 songs in less than 27 minutes.

Here it is live, as performed in Kyoto in late 2015:-

I do hope it’s not too long before we all get the chance to enjoy live shows again, and that Otoboke Beaver are back on these shores in due course.

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (56)

Paris Angels were a seven-piece band, formed in 1989, who set about trying to blend indie guitar music with the fresh explosion in electronica dance and acid house music.  You won’t be surprised to hear that they were from Manchester and were known to frequent the Hacienda and other nightclubs across the city.

They were picked up by the locally based Sheer Joy Records and this was the first single to be issued by the label, recorded in Peter Hook‘s Suite 16 Studio, previously known as Cargo Studios, Rochdale, where Joy Division recorded much of their early material:-

mp3: Paris Angels – All On You (Perfume)

It’s an absolute classic but was, however, more of a success in the clubs than on the radio, failing to crack the Top 75 despite being named as single of the week by the NME on 3 June 1990.   John Peel took a shine to it, or at least his listeners did, voting it in at #6 in the Festive 50 of 1990, with only The Fall, My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Sonic Youth having entries above Paris Angels (Ride had two songs in the Top 4).

Here’s the two tracks to be found on the b-side of the 12″ version of the single:-

mp3: Paris Angels – Muffin 2
mp3: Paris Angels – Perfume (version)

The former, to my ears, is very reminiscent of the dance music from other Manchester bands on Factory such as A Certain Ratio and 52nd Street. The latter has a real Brotherhood-era New Order influence about it.

The buzz around the band led to Virgin Records dangling a contract in front of them in early 1991 and so, after just three singles for Sheer Joy, they signed to the bigger label and went into the studio to make an album.   Virgin, knowing a good thing when they hear it, reissued All On You and second time around it proved to be a minor hit, reaching #55 in July 1991

The following year saw Virgin Records sold in its entirety to EMI, the outcome of which saw something of a cull across many of its singers and bands.  Paris Angels were one of those who didn’t receive the call-up to the major leagues, and they called it a day shortly afterwards, despite the fact a second album had already been recorded. One of the band’s members, Paul Wagstaff, would find a bit of fame as a member of Black Grape before becoming part of the reformed and touring Happy Mondays.

The afore-mentioned second album is out there for free, if you want it. It turns out that in 2013 the band reformed to play live, and signed a deal  to finally issue that second album. The deal, however, fell through, and they decided instead to make the record available as a free download on Bandcamp. Click here if you’re interested.

JC

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Fifteen : REWARD

Today’s song is a request from Mark French.

mp3: The Teardrop Explodes – Reward

Aside from the fact that it’s a shout for a great piece of music, it also allows me to demonstrate that I don’t need to have a copy of a single to come up with a 320kpbs rip.  Yes, I did once own a copy of Reward by The Teardrop Explodes, but it was one of hundreds of 7″ singles that were left behind in an old flat in Edinburgh.  Regular readers from the olden days will be all too familiar with the sad tale, and it’s just too painful to recall it one more time for those who don’t know.  Let’s just say, it’s cost me a fair bit of money trying to put things right since 1986.

The vinyl rip instead comes from my copy of the album Kilimanjaro, itself the re-released version from 1981 with the zebras on the cover rather than the original from October 1980 which has a portrait of the band.  The reason for this being that the original release of Kilimanjaro didn’t include Reward which was initially released as a stand-alone single in January 1981, and going on to be the biggest hit single by the band, or indeed across the subsequent solo career of Julian Cope, by reaching #6.

The Guardian newspaper, in March 2015, had a feature on Reward in which Julian Cope and keyboardist Dave Balfe explained how they came up with and went about making the song.  It turns out it was written in the main by guitarist Alan Gill, with him coming up initially with the bassline. Cope wanted it to sound like a northern soul classic and their first stab at it came via an effort for a BBC radio session but when they later got into the actual recording studio, the frontman decided to remove the drum intro so that the first and last thing you heard were trumpets, which, to be fair, was a stroke of genius as this is the instrument which really drives the song forward at pace. Balfe, in confirming that the band had problems coming up initially with a satisfactory recording and mix, heaps praise on the frontman for the end result, describing it as “…a mad awesome record unlike anything else in pop. We sounded like Vikings on acid fronted by a lunatic.”

Here’s the version the band recorded for the BBC – it was for the Mike Read show on 16 October 1980, which went out in the slot immediately before that of John Peel:-

mp3: The Teardrop Explodes – Reward (BBC session version)

Anyone who followed The Teardrop Explodes closely will know that Reward was very much a one-off with them not recording anything similar ever again.  Indeed, much more typical of their output was the b-side of the 45, which I’ve lifted from its inclusion on the CD Everybody Wants to Shag…The Teardrop Explodes, their third and final album which was recorded in 1982 but not given a release until 1990, for the simple reason that Cope basically sacked everyone in the middle of the sessions.  Let’s just say a high intake of drugs was a factor, as indeed they were when this song was recorded:-

mp3: The Teardrop Explodes – Strange House In The Snow

I’m guessing the pop kids who loved the single didn’t play it more than once, that’s assuming they got to its end on the first spin they gave it.

As always with this blog, I’m very much open to guest contributions and/or suggestions for inclusion in this weekly series. Feel free to get in touch by email : thevinylvillain@hotmail.co.uk

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF R.E.M. (Parts 47 & 48)

Accelerate is a very good album, a real blast. Each time I listen to it I get really into it. Just when R.E.M. had singlehandedly killed their career, they pulled off what was undoubtedly their best record in a dozen years. It’s the sound of a band who suddenly remembered where they came from, why they started a band in the first place and why people took to them from the get-go.

After the uplifting introductory track Supernatural Superserious, Hollow Man was released as the album’s second single on 2nd June 2008. It was the fourth track on Accelerate and starts as a bit of a come down after the high intensity of the opening triptych of songs, opening with Mike Mills at piano and Michael Stipe’s plaintive opening lines: “I’ve been lost inside my head / Echoes fall on me.”

Those last three words can’t be lost on you. Just like Lifes Rich Pageant, Accelerate is a short record and its opening tracks come at you with a ferocity you can’t escape from. Then they bring things down a notch. On LRP, the slower track is… well, you know.

Thing is, Hollow Man doesn’t stay down for long. It comes to life in the chorus in which Stipe pleads with us to reassure him that he’s not quite the lost soul he thinks he is:

“Believe in me, believe in nothing
Corner me and make me something
I’ve become the hollow man
Have I become the hollow man I see?”

mp3: R.E.M. – Hollow Man

For a mournful ballad, it’s a loud one! Another example of what Accelerate stood for – a band going back to its roots, eager to show they still cared and could produce the goods when required.

Hollow Man was the last time R.E.M. graced the UK singles charts. Well, that is if you count reaching number 200 as gracing the charts. And I don’t, actually. But it’s not important. There was just the one CD single. It included a live-in-the-studio track recorded in Vancouver. Horse To Water is one of Accelerate’s shortest, noisiest, fastest songs and this version rocks like the proverbial bastard. This could very well be the angriest, punk-sounding song R.E.M. ever made.

mp3: R.E.M. – Horse To Water [live]

Apparently a second CD was planned for release in Europe (which as per previous releases usually included the UK), but for some reason it was cancelled. It would have included another Beat Happening cover, this time a track from their second album Jamboree. The original was sampled by Massive Attack for Teardrop and is rather Velvet Underground-esque in its minimalism and simplicity. R.E.M. turn it into a hazy, hypnotic trip, a sun-drenched psychedelic jam that sounds even more like the Velvets, especially during their extended coda. One of their best covers, one of their best b-sides. Such a shame it was never released.

mp3: R.E.M. – Indian Summer

JC interjects……The Robster supplied the mp3s when he fired over the words he’s written for today. This was the first time I ever heard the various songs not on the album.  Indian Summer is already barging its way high up into my list of all-time favourite R.E.M. recordings.  It’s really a relief that they stayed together for Accelerate and beyond as it would have been a tragedy to have bowed out after Around The Sun.

The third single from Accelerate, released on 11th August 2008, was another stormer. You know, they might finally have gotten the hang of this releasing decent singles malarkey. Man-Sized Wreath takes aim at the shallowness and the “pageantry of empty gestures” that permeate 21st century culture, politics and business. That’s how I hear it anyway. It’s got a quite brilliant couplet in the second verse that even for a songwriter of Michael Stipe’s ridiculously high calibre is quite a magnificent feat:

“Nature abhors dystopia but what’s between your ears?
Your judgement clouded with fearful thoughts, headlights and a deer. Ow!”

I love that lyric. No, I’m not being ironic, I really LOVE that lyric!

mp3: R.E.M. – Man-Sized Wreath

I mentioned last week the ‘working rehearsal’ concerts R.E.M. played in Dublin prior to recording Accelerate. As can be heard on the subsequent live album, Stipe had his doubts about Man-Sized Wreath.

“This next, new song will not be on our next record,” he tells the audience.

Really?” queries a rather perplexed Peter Buck.

“It’s a little early to make that call.” Stipe concedes that point before suggesting it could be a b-side, to which Mike Mills retorts: “There are no b-sides anymore, it’s all MP3s.” Well, that wasn’t strictly true…

Man-Sized Wreath was track two on Accelerate and made up a third of the frenetic opening to the album. It was followed by Supernatural Superserious, but it was preceded by what could very well be the best opening track on an R.E.M. album. And yes, I did write that even after considering Radio Free Europe, Harborcoat, Begin The Begin and Finest Worksong.

Living Well Is The Best Revenge was not a single, and for that alone we should be in mourning, but a live-in-the-studio version was included on the B-SIDE of a 7” single (the only physical format released in the UK), albeit with a different title owing to a daft question posed by Peter Buck at the start which results in much mirth from his bandmates.

mp3: R.E.M. -Living Well Jesus Dog

There. That certainly blew away the cobwebs, didn’t it? WHAT. A. SONG! I mean, jeez – was this really the same band who recorded fucking Wanderlust???

Final proof that Mike Mills was wrong comes in the form of another live track released as the ‘b-side’ to the three-track digital download of the single. Another excellent version of a track from Accelerate.

mp3: R.E.M. – Mr. Richards [live]

It seemed R.E.M. were back at the races. Accelerate had the sound of a band with a new lease of life and many fruitful years ahead of them…

The Robster

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #259: THE PRIMEVALS


From the Big Gold Dreams booklet:-

The Primevals raucous brand of garage band trash was more reminiscent of The Cramps and The Gun Club than the increasingly smooth sounds emanating from their Glasgow doorstep. Based around the wild vocals of Michael Rooney and driven by Tom Rafferty’s guitar, the original line-up released their Where Are You? before being picked up by French label New Rose, who released three albums and several singles, including Living in Hell. While the band reformed first in 1990, then more substantially in 1997, Honeyman and Rafferty formed instrumental surf-beat combo The Beat Poets. With early New Rose material collected on he On the Red Eye compilation, new material appeared on the There is no Other Life and This is It album in 2007, with (Disinhibitor) following in 2010 and Heavy War in 2012.

As you’ve likely guessed, today’s track can be found on one of the five discs which make up the BGD boxset:-

mp3: The Primevals – Living In Hell

It’s not the sort of thing that I was listening to on its release back in 1985, but I’m reasonably partial to it now all these years later, although not quite enough to go and seek out the back catalogue.

JC

A SECOND GO AT GRABBING YOUR INTEREST/SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 47)

It was away back in October 2013 that I tried to get folk interested in Jonathan Fire*Eater with the posting of three tracks from Tremble Under Boomlights, the one CD of theirs that I had at the time.  The effort attracted one comment….thanks Charity Chic….and it was to say that he had enjoyed one of the songs, which funnily enough just happens to be the subject of today’s posting.

Jonathan Fire*Eater was a New York City-based indie rock band originally from Washington DC. The line-up was Stewart Lupton (vocals), Tom Frank (bass), Paul Maroon (guitar and pedal steel), Matt Barrick (drums), and Walter Martin (keyboards).

In 1995, they released their eponymous debut on Third World Underground Records, an indie label based in Arizona, and later in the year there was a three-track EP on PCP Records, which is described as an experimental/noise-rock label from NYC.

The following year, they began to get a bit of attention in the UK, thanks to them signing for Deceptive Records which had been founded by BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq, a man who many felt was a worthy 90s successor to John Peel, as well as touring as the support acts for both Blur and Pulp.

Before too long, they were snared by Dreamworks, the major sort of masquerading as an indie label newly established by David Geffen. The album Wolf Song For Lambs appeared in 1997, but the big money move was a disaster in terms of the creative edges being smoothed off and the band members falling out constantly over things.

The inevitable split came in 1998 with Paul Maroon, Matt Barrick and Walter Martin becoming three-fifths of The Walkmen while Stuart Lupton pursued his own path with The Childballads and later The Beatin’s. Bassist Tom Frank left music and has established himself as a reasonably successful journalist, writing under the name T.A. Frank, primarily for Vanity Fair and the Washington Monthly.

There were occasional murmurings of Jonathan Fire*Eater re-forming to play gigs, but they always turned out to be unfounded rumours. It’s a moot point nowadays as Stewart Lupton died on May 27, 2018 at the age of 43. No cause was given, but his family did say it stemmed from a “desperate attempt to escape the voices that so tormented him.”

I recently picked up the band’s first 45 for Deceptive, a double-A effort, both sides of which can be found on the CD mentioned earlier. It’s a bit crackly and hissy which would indicate that the previous owner really liked it and played it a fair bit. I also think the lyric for what I think is the main track makes for a great short story, of the horror variety or perhaps and episode of the X-Files which was so popular at the time:-

In every car that passes me on the street
I search for the particular face
The lipstick trembles under boomlights
The lipstick my only brothers only trace

Was the birthday birthday ashtray
Carried all along this way now
It was a gift from my little sister
On the very same day they took her away

And it’s painted cherry red, cherry red now
All your dreams are cherry red inside of your head
And it’s painted cherry red, cherry red now
All your dreams are cherry red inside

In Hollywood I got the phone call
That made my heart and my limousine stall
Falling down in the hotel hall again
Little drunk from the Warners’ Christmas ball

Cut by love and cut by switchblade
He’s been gone nearly half a decade
Cut by love then carved by switchblade
He’s been gone nearly half a decade

I still remember my brother
I see his face on the billboards
And the Polaroids that
Stayed on my pillow ’til they faded

So, lock yourself in your hotel room
I’ll take the next flight and be there by noon
Lock yourself in your hotel room

Now picture him now, sittin’ by the pool
Wearin’ a pink rubber swimming cap
Eating ice cream with the girl
With the silver curls
Sittin’ in his lap

I can still still remember my brother
I see his face on the billboards and the
Polaroids that stayed on my pillow
‘Til they faded some sad grey grey day

Yes, you are still my brother
Even when you change over so
Lock yourself in your hotel room
I’ll take the next flight and be there by noon

I pictured it all, the fangs and claws
Coarse short hair right then and there
I pictured it all now
Hey!
The fangs
The fangs and the claws now

So, lock yourself in your hotel room
I’ll take the next flight and be there by noon
Lock yourself in your hotel room

And so all things will secretly begin
To live underground after the death of a friend
Ohohhhhhh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh ohohhhh

mp3: Jonathan Fire*Eater – The Search For Cherry Red

The other side of the 45 is also worth a listen:-

mp3: Jonathan Fire*Eater – Give Me Daughters

I’m not sure what the Blur and Pulp crowds would have made of things, but they sound as if they would have gone down a storm with a Bad Seeds audience.

JC

PS : Links now sorted.  Apologies for earlier mix-up.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #285 : BUDDY HOLLY

This is a total cheat of a post.  This ICA has 14 tracks, and the running order is exactly the same as can be found on a budget-priced album The Best of Buddy Holly, released on Hallmark Records back in 1986.  I’ve long had a cassette copy of the album, which I think I paid £1.99 for back in the day, and just the other week I picked up a vinyl copy for the exact same price.

Here’s what’s written on the back of the sleeve:-

Charles Hardin ‘Buddy’ Holly was born on September 7th 1936 in Lubbock, Texas, the youngest of four children of Laurence and Ella Holley. At the age of 12 Buddy developed a strong interest in music and singing, so he bought a guitar, and before long was playing and singing a few tunes with a natural talent. Soon he and a schoolfriend, another aspiring guitarist, Bob Montgomery, began playing regularly together. They landed a spot on Radio KDAV and with the addition of bassist Larry Welborne, Buddy and Bob went on to make a number of demo discs in 1954.

Just over a year later, Buddy and Bob appeared as one of the many junior acts supporting Bill Haley and The Comets at a concert in Lubbock, where they were spotted by a Nashville talent scout. Soon afterwards Buddy landed a contract with a major record company. During 1956 Buddy attended several recording sessions in Nashville, cutting a number of tracks. Although a couple of singles were released none were particularly successful. Dissatisfied with the company and producers, Holly travelled to Clovis, New Mexico and to the studio of Norman Petty – that’s when things really started to happen.

With a new group called The Crickets and producer Norman Petty, Holly re-recorded ‘That’ll Be The Day’ in a more contemporary and upbeat style from the earlier Nashville sessions. This is what Buddy wanted all along. The recording shot to the Number 1 position on both sides of the Atlantic. Like all Buddy’s early hits, the songs were simply credited to The Crickets. Seeing commercial possibilities Petty continued to record The Crickets, with Holly singing lead, and the singing/playing group providing back-up harmonies, while he also recorded Holly solo for another label.  The result was a string of hits, including million-sellers, Maybe Baby, Peggy Sue and It Doesn’t Matter Anymore to name but a few.

In 1958 Holly toured Britain and on returning to the States married Maria Elena, a Puerto Rican girl and moved to Greenwich Village, New York. In January the following year Buddy Holly accompanied by Tommy Allsup, Waylon Jennings and Charlie Bunch embarked on The Winter Dance Party tour which also starred Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, along with Dion and The Belmonts.  On February 2nd the artistes appeared at The Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa – it was to be Buddy’s last public appearance. In the hope of avoiding the discomfort of a long uncomfortable trip by road, he had chartered a plane to fly Jennings, himself and Allsup from Mason City Airport to Fargo, Dakota for a show at nearby Moorhead.  In the event, Jennings and Allsup gave their seats to Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Shortly after take off, in the early hours of February 3rd, the plane crashed, killing pilot Roger Peterson and his 3 passengers.

Despite his death Buddy Holly’s recordings continued to sell in vast quantities, particularly in Britain, where over the next two years he chalked up a further 19 entries in the best selling charts.  In just two years Buddy Holly and The Crickets had created one of the most important chapters in the history of rock – a legend that lives today.

SIDE ONE

1. That’ll Be The Day
2. Maybe Baby
3. Peggy Sue Got Married
4. Rave On
5. True Love Ways
6. Bo Diddley
7. Oh Boy!

SIDE TWO

1. Peggy Sue
2. Everyday
3. Think It Over
4. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
5. Heartbeat
6. Raining In My Heart
7. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore

14 songs, but all told, it has a running time of less than 31 minutes.

It’s widely accepted that Buddy Holly was the artist who best established the ‘classic’ set-up of two guitars, bass, and drums. He was among the first to write and record his own material, albeit many of his best known songs were covers or had been written by others for him. His final recording session, in NYC in October 1958, saw him work with an 18-piece ensemble composed of former members of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, one of America’s foremost radio orchestras until it disbanded in 1954. The half-day session proved to be truly groundbreaking, and of the fours songs completed on the day, True Love Ways, Raining In My Heart, and It Doesn’t Matter Anymore are included in this ICA.

It’s frightening that he was only 22 years old when that plane crashed.

JC

A VERY BELATED POSTSCRIPT TO AN OLD POST

Back in 2015 I offered up a series, in 48 instalments, that looked at the tracks on the CD86 boxset been compiled by Cherry Red Records.  The post on 22 March featured this wonderful 45:-

mp3: The Servants – The Sun, A Small Star

The post went on, at length, to talk about The Servants, mentioning how they broke up not long after the release of this single.  Singer and main songwriter David Westlake then recorded a mini-LP for Creation Records before deciding to get the band back together again, except he didn’t make the call to any of the three musicians who had been with him at the outset.

The new line up would go on to consist of Luke Haines, Alice Readman and Hugh Whittaker, with, at this point in time, only that latter being well-known given a previous stint as the drummer with The Housemartins.

I ended the piece by mentioning that much of The Servants long-deleted back catalogue was hard to track down at reasonable prices and mentioned that I’d be very happy if anyone could find their way to help me out with some tracks.  To my great delight, Anthony got in touch soon after, asking for my postal address to which he sent a CD containing a copy of Disinterest, their lone LP which was released on Paperhouse Records in 1990, and another with a copy of Reserved, a 21-track compilation released on Cherry Red back in 2010.

And it’s thanks to Anthony’s generosity that I’m able to return to The Servants and the one single that was released on Glass Records in 1990, on 7″ and 12″ vinyl.  The lead track was also highlighted in that March 2015 post and seemed to be very well-received by all concerned:-

mp3: The Servants – It’s My Turn
mp3: The Servants – Afterglow
mp3: The Servants – Faithful To 3 Lovers
mp3: The Servants – Do Or Be Done

I still can’t get my head around the fact that I missed out on The Servants back in the day. It’s inexplicable.

JC