BURNING BADGER’S VINYL – THE (NEARLY) A-Z OF INDIEPOP (Part 3, D, E and F)

D is for DAISY CHAINSAW

Daisy Chainsaw – Love Your Money (Taken from Love Sick Pleasure EP, Deva Records, 1991)

Hands up if any of you can remember a single song by Daisy Chainsaw that isn’t their Top 30 denting surprise hit ‘Love Your Money’….I’ll wait….Nope, me neither. I mean they definitely had other songs, their debut album went into the Top 75, which back in 1991, before Britpop and well before bands could release an album on the Soundcloud before being signed, that was quite an achievement.

For a short period in 1991, Daisy Chainsaw were pretty much everywhere. Largely because of ‘Love Your Money’ which became something of an albatross for the band. The band were lead by Katie Jane Garside whose on stage performances gained the band far more attention than their music did.

Katie would wander onto stage often drinking from a baby’s bottle, she would be dressed in an old gown which would be dirty and ripped and she would spend most of the gig throwing herself either into the crowd or rolling around on the stage floor, she occasionally cut herself on stage aswell. She would also quite often talk nonsense in interviews. So it wasn’t long before mental illness rumours started.

The media loved them however, (the NME, as ever, invented a genre for them, ‘Banshee Pop’ and PJ Harvey was also very briefly lumped in that genre with them), and ‘Love Your Money’ propelled the band into the spotlight, a spotlight that perhaps they weren’t ready for. They appeared on The Word, at the height of its granny snogging, controversy baiting, Mary Whitehouse annoying brilliance and their performance it an absolute riot (you can watch it on YouTube – it might have even been the week after Nirvana almost destroyed the set ).

Superstardom was beckoning with its bony finger as Katie Jane twists and contorts herself in front of the camera like a deranged rag doll (which was definitely the look she was going for) but then….well if Daisy Chainsaw’s career was a line graph and ‘Love Your Money’ was the high pointy bit then the rest of it is the steep downhill bit.

It’s weird how Daisy Chainsaw never quite matched the raucous, shambolic brilliance of ‘Love Your Money’ and its even weirder how their singer Katie Jane Garside was never a far bigger star than she (briefly) was. Although it has to be said mental illness probably paid as much a part of that than anything else. In 1993, two years after the success of ‘Love Your Money’ – which saw the band spent nearly all that time on the road touring with the likes of Mudhoney, Hole and {shudder} Sheep on Drugs, Katie Jane walked away from the band – and pretty much vanished from sight. She was barely seen for six years.

Then in 2000 a new band called queenadreena appeared and the singer wore a ripped dirty gown and liked to stage dive….

There were one other D in the box – not as good as Daisy Chainsaw though.

Depeche Mode – It’s No Good

which does pretty much what it says on the tin

E is for EMF

EMF – Unbelievable (1990, Parlophone)

This is probably the most battered 12” in Badger’s collection. The vinyl is scratched, and it jumps around two minutes in as well. It doesn’t really matter to be honest because I already own it, but its such a great record that I can’t ignore it.

‘Unbelievable’ reached the Top 5 in the UK (and Number 1 in the USA) when it was released way back in 1990, making the record more than 30 years old now. If that doesn’t make you feel old then I have no idea what will. I was 15 when this came out, and for a while I genuinely thought it was one of the greatest things I had ever heard.

Then again, when I was 15 I was infatuated with the girl who sat next me in GCSE physics. Instead of listening to my teacher Mr Watson drone on about whatever it was he was droning on about (I can literally remember not a single thing from GCSE physics) I used to write little notes to this girl, lets call her Lindsay, who used to write ‘Shut Up’ or ‘I’m trying to Listen’ underneath them. I must have asked her out four or five times in about a month, and she always said no. At a party towards the end of the year, I tried and failed again and was told that ‘I wasn’t her type’.

Anyway, I looked her up on social media the other day. Found out that she went on to go to Trinity College, Cambridge, has stood for election for the Conservative Party (beaten by a Liberal Democrat, ha ha ha) and is now married to a millionaire hedge fund manager. He may have a million quid spare, but I bet that he doesn’t own two copies of ‘Unbelieveable’ by EMF on 12”.

There were two other records from bands starting with E that were worthy of your attention:-

Echobelly – Great Things (Taken from ‘On’)
Echo and the Bunnymen – Bring on the Dancing Horses (Taken from ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’)

F is for Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters – This Is A Call (1995, Capitol Records)

Another great record that evokes wonderful memories. In this case Saturday Night at the 1995 Reading Festival. One of those nights where you really had to be there – I was there, but I wasn’t ‘there’ there. If that makes sense.

I mean, I tried to be ‘there’ there. I’d got ‘there’ early. I stood near the back and watched Echobelly (see above) play to a slightly more than half full tent. As brilliant as Echobelly were they were never a second on the bill at Reading type of band. Besides they were on at the same time as Paul Weller who was even more popular than ever due to the incredible success of his ‘Stanley Road’ album, so they stood no chance.

I was there early of course for the debut UK gig by Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters who had already laid the groundworks for world domination by going Top Ten with their first two UK singles, and frankly they were the most talked about band of the weekend.

About three minutes before the end of Echobelly’ set people start to drift in. Then a few more and then a load more. There is about a 30-minute wait before the Foo Fighters. It looks like everyone had the same idea – get there early.

15 minutes to go, you can just about move. My position at the near the back had become slightly squashed against a pillar right at the back. To my left a girl has just started to climb another pillar. To my right a couple of hairy arsed blokes start pushing their way to through, beer is being thrown across the tent.

5 minutes to go, the crowd is stretching back outside the tent and into the field behind it. I’ve been pushed back again and now find myself about fifteen feet from the tent and unable to see a bloody thing, Chris the bloke I was with has long since vanished (he later told me he went to watch Bjork) and I turn round as the cheers and yelling start, people next me push forward. Its looks seriously dangerous in there now. I shrug, it’s only a band I tell the bloke next to me as he pushes forward and I decide to leave, eventually I end up in the comedy tent having a right old chortle to Gerry Sadowitz.

There was one other record by a band starting with F in the box, tucked away right at the back. It’s a belter too:-

Fatboy Slim – The Rockerfeller Skank

SWC

TYPICAL GIRLS

This debut single, from September 1979, now goes for fairly decent sums of money on the second-hand market, in the region of £30 upwards.  I’ll be very honest and admit that I’ve never owned a copy, nor for many years did I ever want to, for the simple reason that the 16-year-old me didn’t ‘get’ The Slits.  As I’ve grown older, and my musical tastes have developed/matured, I can now see it for the truly astonishing and ground-breaking effort it was, as nobody was making music like this back in the day.

I’ll use the booklet in the 4xCD boxset, Make More Noise : Women In Independent Music 1977-1987, which was issued by Cherry Red Records last year, to tell the backstory:-

Formed in London from the wreckage of The Flowers of Romance and The Castrators, The Slits brought together Ari Up, Palmolive, Viv Albertine and Tessa Pollitt and quickly found favour on the punk circuit, sharing a particular affinity with The Clash, with who they toured on several occasions.  Despite many fans feeling the group diluted their raw, energetic early sound in pursuit of success with their Dennis Bovell produced debut album ‘Cut’, the truth was the group simply began to expand their horizons at a rate difficult to follow.

Drawing from reggae, dub and world music, they pursued a chaotic path to early 1982, including a semi-bootleg album of demos and home recordings (risky stuff for major label artists at the time) and an attempt to recapture the band’s spirit on ‘Return Of The Giant Slits’ in 1981.  But the magic was gone by 1982 and the group disbanded, although occasional revivals and reunions peppered the 2000s until Ari Up’s unfortunate death in October 2010.

The above story doesn’t mention that Ari Up was just 14 years old when she formed The Slits in 1976, having grown up in a musical family, with both her parents involved in the industry in her home country of Germany.  Ari came with her mother Nora to live in England at a young age, and her mother would in the late 70s, become the girlfriend and eventually the wife of John Lydon.  Nor does it mention that Palmolive left the band at an early stage, being replaced on drums by Peter Clarke, aka Budgie, who would later be a long-standing member of Siouxsie & The Banshees.

All of which I’ve added just to show the various links that The Slits had to the punk/new wave pioneers, and I have long been annoyed with myself for taking so many years to appreciate what they did.

mp3: The Slits – Typical Girls

The b-side of the debut single was an audacious cover version, and if anything, it was hearing this and thinking it was an absolute monstrosity which put me off the band.

mp3: The Slits – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

And again, to be fully honest, while it has grown on me, I’m still not fully with it.

JC

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Twenty One : DEFINITIVE GAZE

Once again Taking my inspiration from The Robster‘s great new series on the imaginary 7″ singles from R.E.M albums, I’m offering up as today’s high quality vinyl rip what could have been a double-sided single back in 1978.

Magazine cracked the charts in January 1978 with debut 45, Shot By Both Sides.  The debut album, Real Life, was then, and remains today, an astounding listen, with at least two more of its tracks being more than capable of being hit singles.  The only problem was that back in those days very few bands wanted to ever release more than one 45 from an album, which led to the rather less revered, but previously unreleased Touch and Go, being the follow-up some five months later.

Imagine how different things would have turned out if the band and Virgin Records had issued these:-

mp3: Magazine – Definitive Gaze
mp3: Magazine – The Light Pours Out Of Me

Two songs offering wonderful examples of how Magazine, while made up of amazing individual musicians and a very distinct vocalist, really was the sum of their talents.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 3)

The time immediately after the second single was filled with touring as well as the recording and release of the debut album, Live At The Witch Trials, in March 1979, after which The Fall convened at Cargo Studios in Rochdale, less than ten miles north-east of Manchester, to begin work on a new 45.

The same five musicians as who had recorded It’s The New Thing/Various Times stayed together for the debut album.

But by 11 June 1979, it was again all change, with Karl Burns and Martin Bramah taking their leave (temporarily, as it turned out), with the newcomers being Mike Leigh (drums), Craig Scanlon (guitars) and Steve Hanley (bass), meaning that the band was now six-strong with Marc Riley moving from bass to guitar, while Mark E Smith and Yvonne Pawlett remained as vocal and keyboards, respectively.

It’s worth recalling just how young all the members of this line-up of The Fall were at the time of this recording – Smith (22), Scanlon (19), Hanley (20), Riley (17), Pawlett (20) and Leigh (24) – which goes some way perhaps to explaining the energy they were all able to bring to things, as well as the inexperience and immaturity to cope with any adversity…..of which there was plenty!

It was also the case that Riley, Scanlon and Hanley had played together in a band prior to Riley joining The Fall, and this, albeit limited experience, certainly helped drive the band along superbly for a spell, not least with the new 45:-

mp3: The Fall – Rowche Rumble

One of the most instantly recognisable of the band’s early tunes. It opens with some pounding drums, over which MES begins his rant about drug addiction via prescription pills, and it’s only after some 25 seconds that the rest of the band join in, playing as if their very existence depended on them delivering a top-notch performance (and let’s face it, given MES’s trigger-happy finger, there’s every chance that a sub-standard effort would see one or more of them get the bullet). It quickly turns into the most majestic cacophony, perfectly designed for body-slamming down at the front of the live audiences, albeit it never stood a chance of getting any radio play outside the usual suspect of John Peel Esq.

The b-side offers a real contrast, a meandering middle-paced tune that starts off quite conventionally, until Pawlett adds a deliberately out-of-key and out-of-tune piano line which then really goes on to dominate things as Smith sings about things he’s seen, including the madness in his area.  He also manages to fit in a self-deprecating reference

“Can’t remember who I’ve sacked, just stupid faces looking bad
The madness in my area

mp3: The Fall – In My Area

It’s really, all things told, one for the devotees rather than anyone seeking an easy route into the wonderful and frightening world of The Fall.

It was, again, issued by Step Forward Records. It didn’t chart.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #264: THE QUESTIONS

From wiki:-

The Questions were a Scottish pop band, active during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

They formed in the summer of 1977 at St. Augustine’s High School in Edinburgh and performed their first gig in December of that year at St. Margaret’s Church Hall in Davidson’s Mains, a suburb of Edinburgh.

The following year, they sent a demo tape of rehearsals to Bruce Findlay of Bruce’s Records Shop, which led to signing a recording contract with Zoom Records in Edinburgh in 1978. The band’s first single was “Some Other Guy” backed with “Rock & Roll Ain’t Dead” (August 1978).

“I Can’t Get Over You” b/w “Answers” followed in January 1979. The band subsequently left school in June 1980 and came to the attention of Paul Weller with “Get Away From it All”, a track that was never officially released. The band supported The Jam at the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre on the first of many occasions in October 1980, and signed to Weller’s fledgling Respond Records in 1981. The Questions contributed three songs to Respond’s Love the Reason album – “Work and Play”, “Building on a Strong Foundation” and “Give It Up Girl”. They also contributed to the track “Mama Never Told Me” with Tracie Young as Tracie & The Questions.

Many tours, TV appearances and singles followed, including “Work and Play”, “Tear Soup” and “Price You Pay”. In 1983, band members Paul Barry and John Robinson penned the Top 10 hit “The House That Jack Built” for fellow Respond Records label mate Tracie Young. They would go on to write three additional songs – “I Can’t Hold on Till Summer”, “Moving Together” and “What Did I Hear You Say” – for Young’s debut LP, Far From the Hurting Kind.

In 1984, Belief, the band’s only full-length album was finally released. “Tuesday Sunshine” and “A Month of Sundays” were released as singles.

The album did not sell well, and the band played its final concert on 30 November 1984, at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, London.

After a twelve-year wait, Belief was issued on CD by the Japanese label Trattoria Records. The re-issue included the album’s original eleven songs, plus eight previously unreleased tracks”

I would have seen The Questions on a number of occasions.  I remember, as I so often was with the supports for The Jam, being distinctly underwhelmed and unimpressed, but I now realise that was more out of impatience from wanting Weller, Foxton and Buckler to take to the stage.  The Questions were a decent enough band in terms of what they wrote and recorded, and one of their singles did reach #46 in February 1984:-

mp3: The Questions – Tuesday Sunshine

Tucked away on the b-side was their own, and in my opinion, vastly superior version of Tracie’s hit single:-

mp3: The Questions – The House That Jack Built

Fun fact.  Paul Barry would eventually find fame and fortune many years later, after moving to America, as a songwriter of some note, including #1 hit singles for Cher and Enrique Iglesias.  It’s a long way removed from the lukewarm receptions at the Glasgow Apollo and Edinburgh Playhouse.

JC

I SUPPOSE IT HELPS TO KNOW SOMEONE WHO KNOWS SOMEONE

Among many other things in recent weeks, I picked up a second-hand copy of a minor hit single dating back to 2005, by an artist I knew nothing about other than the fact that I had enjoyed listening to another of his singles when the video was aired regularly on MTV2, which for a couple of years was the source of much of the new music I was picking up on.

Not knowing much about Tom Vek, I turned to t’internet for some sort of help. As usual, allmusic was useful:-

London’s eclectic one-man band Tom Vek combines electronic music with indie rock, punk with dance, and influences like new wave and garage (and also made most of his early recordings in his parents’ garage, too). However, as a teen in the mid-’90s, Vek was inspired by grunge and began making rock along the lines of Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam; before that, he backed his guitarist father on bass and drums in their practice space/garage. When his family acquired a reel-to-reel tape recorder when he was 14, Vek began recording his music, which evolved from grungy rock to Warp-and Ninja Tune-influenced electronica as the ’90s came to a close.

Vek had been sending his music to a friend of the family (who happened to be Alex Cooper, the longtime drummer for Katrina & the Waves), who in turn sent Vek’s latest, electronica-inspired music to his cousin (who happened to be Tim “Love” Lee, the head of quirky electronic label Tummy Touch).

Lee signed Vek to the label, and in 2001 the 7″ “There’s Only One Thing Left Now” became Vek’s first officially released work. Tummy Touch agreed to release a full-length from Vek, which he began working on in between his graphic design studies at St. Martins. However, Vek’s music had morphed again, moving from delicate electronica to something sharper-edged and more rock-based. Singles such as “If You Want” heralded this new direction, as did gigs (with a full backing band) supporting acts like Bloc Party and Engineers. Vek’s debut album, We Have Sound, was released in the U.K. in spring 2005 via Tummy Touch, and then sublicensed by Island/Universal. Startime International released the album in the U.S. that fall.

After touring in support of the album, Vek took his time making further music. He found a recording space in East London and established PALLET Recording Studios, taking three years to fill it with custom gear and teach himself new production techniques, and another two years to write and record music. Vek resurfaced early in 2011 with the single “A Chore,” the first taste of his second album, Leisure Seizure, which was released digitally in June of that year and physically that September. When Vek was evicted from PALLET to make way for more housing, he took an even more independent approach to 2014’s Luck, recording the album entirely on his own.

It turns out that, a further six years on, Tom Vek finally got round to releasing more new music, in November 2020, in the shape of the album New Symbols. It’s been available in digital form over at Bandcamp, but plans are in hand to have a physical release, on vinyl, hopefully in July 2021.

The second hand single that I picked up was the fourth and final one to be lifted from his debut album. I only found out upon adding it to the Discogs account that it is the 12″ single released in France, and it might well be that the particular remix on the b-side might have been unique to this piece of vinyl:-

mp3: Tom Vek – Nothing But Green Lights
mp3: Tom Vek – Nothing But Green Lights (Digitalism Mix)

Again, my ignorance of the names involved in the mid-00s dance stuff meant I had to look up who Digitalism are, and am pleased to pass on the info that they are a German electronic music duo formed in Hamburg in 2004, consisting of Jens “Jence” Moelle and Ismail “Isi” Tüfekçi.

They do a fine job on this, and it’s one that I think will be enjoyed by fans of LCD Soundsystem. 

Play Loud

JC

BURNING BADGER’S VINYL – THE (NEARLY) A-Z OF INDIEPOP (Part 2, B and C)

B is for BLUETONES

The Bluetones – If

I once bought Badger a copy of the excellent debut album by the Bluetones from a charity shop. It was back when we were seeing how many decent CDs we could find in a charity shop with £20. The £20 had been found by Tim inside a book he had bought. ‘Learning to Fly’ was purchased after I had spent a lovely afternoon at the zoo with my daughter. During that trip to the zoo, my daughter and I sat in the picnic area and had our lunch surrounded by tame animals and birds that wander gaily around the park sweeping up all the cake crumbs.

Before lunch I’d placed my new bag (kind of like a strong satchel type bag, very durable and capable of holding lots of sandwiches and drinks) on the floor whilst I hungrily pulled out our packed lunch.

Ten minutes later, a massive peacock wandered over to see us. At first, I thought it was just going to show off, like peacocks do, but then it started to get a bit closer. It was probably after my sandwiches I figured. I mean, peacocks like everyone else love halloumi cheese. So I clapped my hands and tried to make it go away.  It sort of worked, but not before the peacock delivered a huge wet slimy shit on my new bag causing me to whisper ‘Bloody sodding peacock’ at the bird/bastard. I whisper it so that my daughter (four at the time) doesn’t realise that daddy knows bad words. I carry the poo stained bag inside a bright yellow carrier bag for the rest of the day.

Two hours later in a charity shop my daughter picked up a copy of this album and shouted quite loudly, “Daddy, look, bloody sodding peacock’.

‘If’ was the second single from the second Bluetones album ‘Return to the Last Chance Saloon’ and reached number 13 in the Uk charts. It followed ‘Solomon Bites the Worm’ which Badger also owned.

The Bluetones – Solomon Bites The Worm

C is for Chemical Brothers

Chemical Brothers – Leave Home

I remember leaving home. Back in the last week of September 1994. I packed all my worldly goods into the back of me dads Sierra, he moaned that I had too many bloody records, and that they were knackering the suspension. I think he was kidding as about two weeks earlier we got an entire chest freezer in the back of that car. A freezer that my dad had apparently won at cards off a bloke called ‘Eggy’ who drank in the Conservative Club. Not that Dad drunk in the Conservative Club.

The next day ‘Eggy’ turned up at our house in his Skoda and gave my dad a bin bag full of meat as well. ‘Eggy’ was well dodgy. I’m sure he was one of the guys nicked for the Hatton Garden heist a few years back. He certainly had spent time as her Majesty’s Pleasure because he told me that when I was 12. “Nicked a few things from a shop that wasn’t open, lad” he said. Saying that, you could always get a decent car stereo from Eggy if you needed one.

Anyway, halfway along the M25, we pull into a services and dad treats me to lunch, the lunch of kings he says, followed quickly by, “well Burger King”. He smiles at me and for the first time there is a look of sadness in his eyes. I don’t say anything, but the old bugger is going to miss me, I think to myself.

I tell him in the car park that I am bit nervous, worried that I won’t fit in, won’t make friends. He looks at me and delivers a lecture that he has sort become renowned for.

“Boy”, he starts, “anyone who doesn’t want you as a mate is a tool, simple as that. You can talk to anyone and unlike your brother, you have inherited all my best bits, humour, good taste in music and good looks. You, son will go far.” Which is nice…he hadn’t finished though…

“But…” he continues, “I thought you might say something like this, so I have got you a little present” and he goes to the boot of the car and hands me a box. It’s quite a big box. “Open it” he says, bobbing up and down on his toes, “In there is everything you will need for your first week at Uni…”

The box contained an eight pack of lager (“icebreaker with the blokes”) 200 Marlboro cigarettes (“I know you don’t smoke, might be a good time to start”. Genuinely said that.), four Mars Bars (“everyone likes chocolate”), a West Ham T shirt (“guaranteed to make sensible human beings talk to you and guaranteed to make sure no Chelsea fans do”) and a packet of Durex (“you never know son, you never know”).

And then he hugs me and hands me a wodge of cash. Which I give back to him straight away and he shakes his head and tells me that he won it at cards from Eggy and besides its only half of what he won. He folds it in half and pops in my back pocket.

There were a few of other C’s worthy of attention

There was this on 12”

Carter USM – Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere

and this on a smashing yellow vinyl 7”

Catatonia – Lost Cat

And this on 12”

The Charlatans – Weirdo

All three are stone-cold classics

SWC

ALL OUR TOMORROWS

JC with some background…..

Regular readers will hopefully recall the occasional reference to ‘Dubstar Chris‘ in various pieces composed by SWC over the years.  Dubstar Chris appeared in many of the autobiographical tales, particularly those involving the antics of a teenage SWC, now and then dovetailing with the misadventures with Our Price Girl.  I’ll leave it at that and hand over to the main man….

SWC writes…..

I just wanted to pay a short tribute to a man that I should have spoken to more than I did. A man that did great things and a man that was a father, a writer, a husband, a traveller and a music fanatic.

A man who when I was aged between 11 and 21 was always there for me if I needed a mate to talk to, or a mate to come to a gig with me, or a mate to sit on a swing with in a park and drink cheap cider with.

A man who introduced me to more new music when I was a lad than anybody else.

A man who I hope somehow, one day, our paths will meet again, and we can shake lampposts together until the lights go out.

R.I.P Chris.

“Gang of Four – Entertainment – Review Taken from 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005

Gang of Four formed in Leeds, England, in 1977, naming themselves after the Chinese political faction associated with Mao Tse-tung’s widow. Eyebrows were raised when this avowedly left-wing group signed to EMI, but their uncompromising attitude remained intact.

Entertainment!’s groundbreaking sound is due to the tight funk rhythms laid down by bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham, and Andy Gill’s scratchy staccato guitar. The use of space allows Jon King’s intelligently delivered vocals to be heard, while the gaps are filled with jagged guitar feedback and melodica.

Defiantly anti-sexist and anti-Fascist, the band were lyrically inspired by the looming spectre of Thatcherism and the rise in violence between right- and left-wing factions that they witnessed in their native Yorkshire in the late 1970s. “At Home He’s a Tourist” and “Contract” attempt to challenge men and women’s traditional roles in society; “Ether”‘s Funkadelic-inspired call-and-answer vocals examine the way the media’s exposure of British mistreatment of Northern Irish prisoners was obscured by the discovery of North Sea oil. “Damaged Goods” explores the metaphors between sex and consumerism. Most powerful of all is “5:45,” with its portrayal of graphic war scenes on prime-time television news.

The music is, however, delivered with wit, anger, and raw energy, and the vocals never descend into mindless ranting. Entertainment! is fresh and consistent, the Gang’s “Neo-Marxist funk” inspiring groups as disparate as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Rapture.

Chris Shade, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.

Gang of Four – Damaged Goods
Gang of Four – 5.45
Gang of Four – Contract
Gang of Four – At Home He’s A Tourist

SWC

SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 48)

A GUEST POSTING by KHAYEM

This is another one of those moments where I wish I’d kept a record of the gigs I’ve been to over the years… I saw James Yorkston & The Athletes in Bristol back in 2002. I have no recollection of the actual gig itself (I was clearly under the influence) other than coming away with a “Songs From Moving Up Country” sampler CD. I’m convinced that I saw them supporting a bigger act at the Anson Rooms but a quick Google search and the only Bristol date I can find for them is at The Louisiana. It must have been some night. Which appropriately leads us to Woozy With Cider.

I’ll admit, I had little interest in James Yorkston after said gig, but I would frequently see his name popping up in album reviews, lauding him as a songwriter of increasing importance, if not wider critical and commercial acclaim. Still, I stubbornly refused to take the bait and seek out his music. In true contrary fashion, I found my way to Woozy With Cider because I’d enjoyed a couple of remixes by electronic duo Quiet Village aka Matt Edwards and Joel Martin and I was seeking out more. I picked up a 2007 promo CD of Woozy With Cider, which includes no less than 7 remixes, based around Yorkston’s brilliantly observed tale:

Watching the park quieten from the hotel window
I hear you softly sleep amongst the cars and saluting songbirds
For a city whose size had scared me for years
Right now it’s a feeble evening roar
Not unsimilar to a beach evening ending

On the table to my left there’s a magazine with a picture of a dead monkey
Making a mockery of what I’d call art
But what would I know about the scene in the city
That has swallowed up friends, lovers and family
Just give me a village the size of a teacup

You have your hair spread out with your eyes closed
I feel I should order a drink in celebration to welcome the summer
Whose first day is ending
Should you awake you’d catch me of course
And ask me the wisdom of drinking once more

I cast my mind back to yesterday’s wedding
Where we got drunk and fell over
I did my best to be polite to a family I’d never met
But on numerous occasions, I guess, I could have tried harder
Of course by the end of the night
I was best friends with everyone and everyone’s wife
But right now I can’t remember their names
No matter how hard I try

As the sun glares through the hotel window
I wonder of our future and where it will lead to
I wonder if you’ll be laying there
10 years 20 years 30 years down the line
I’ll still be staring out at the street confused about love and life
It’ll be interesting to see if anyone ever bought those songs of mine
If anyone heard those words that I never got quite right

I think I can be honest in presuming
The world is not exactly going to be leaping out of its bed
To make me rich using my songs in adverts
Selling oranges or lemons

Who knows I may end up owning the whole street
Or more likely sleeping under tree in the park opposite
Would the runners keep me awake
Or would I keep them asleep?
I’d hope I’d have the sense to move back home
As lovely as today is
I’d imagine the winter would be rather cold

I’d been told for years that the devil had the best tunes
And that the devil lived down here
Whereas us country folk weren’t worth the salt from the road
Ex-pat magazine editors who choose to lose their temper
On the easily persuaded northern town dwellers
And sure enough 99 percent of the people I meet
Have scant regard for entertaining me
It seems I’m too old too slow too quiet and just wrong
And I’m glad

In their cocaine-fuelled electronic cabarets
I’ll be the man at the bar drinking overpriced whisky
From a bar maid who’s too good to catch my eye
She only works here two nights a week
The rest of the time she’s a singer in a rock and roll band
I bet she’d change her tune
If I told her my album had peaked at number 172
And that I also had friends who worked in bars
And that didn’t define who they are
Though it certainly helps their capacity to drink

But I’ve strayed off the subject
Now I’ll be leaning over and waking you up
And you’ll squint at me through the cracks between your eyelids
Woozy with cider
As if you’re asking just exactly where we are
And exactly what I wanted
And I’ll be happy because
We won’t be taking anything too seriously.

As usual, apologies for any misunderstood and poorly transcribed lyrics…

To avoid overkill, I’ve avoided the original version which you can find on his 2006 album, The Year Of The Leopard. I’ve limited to 3 remixes and perhaps surprisingly omitted the one by Quiet Village that brought me to the song in the first place. Steve Mason delivers a lovely minimal electronic take in his King Biscuit Time guise. I know nothing about Dusty Cabinets, but their uptempo, rumbling dancefloor mix adds an unsettling undercurrent which suits the vocals. Lastly, Jon Hopkins provides a beautifully understated piano accompaniment.

mp3: James Yorkston – Woozy With Cider (King Biscuit Time Remix)
mp3: James Yorkston – Woozy With Cider (Dusty Cabinets Remix)
mp3: James Yorkston – Woozy With Cider (Jon Hopkins Remix)

The happy ending is that by picking up this single, I finally began to appreciate James Yorkston’s music and storytelling, and made up for lost time by catching up with his back catalogue. Everyone’s a winner.

KHAYEM

JC adds…..

I’d also have seen James Yorkston & The Athletes on the same 2002 tour, but unlike Khayem, I’ve bought a fair bit of his stuff over the years, including a boxset of the album When The Haar Rolls In which included all sorts of bonus material, including  one of the mixes offered up today.  I also highly recommend James’ book, It’s Lovely To Be Here, as reviewed on this very blog back in 2015.

I really can’t let this one go by without posting the original version:-

mp3: James Yorkston – Woozy With Cider

Finally, just a quick mention that a link to Khayem’s own blog, Dubhead, has been added to the list under the ‘Inspirations and Occasional Contributors’ section.  There’s loads of great stuff out there, but I’m ashamed to say that I somehow never make the time to do justice to all the wonderful postings, thoughts and observations.

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Twenty : HAPPY TOGETHER

Taking my inspiration from The Robster‘s great new series on the imaginary 7″ singles from R.E.M albums, I’m offering up as today’s high quality vinyl rip what could have been a superb effort by The Jam almost forty years ago (!!!!), as a follow-up, or indeed alternative, double-A single to Town Called Malice/Precious which had provided what was then the UK’s biggest and most popular band with their third #1 hit in January 1982.

On one side would be the opening track from the album The Gift.  Here’s what I wrote back in December 2015 as part of The Jam ICA, itself an effort, consisting only on album tracks not issued as singles or b-sides:-

“Let’s get this party pumping. This is one where Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler really come into their own, driving the song along at a tremendous pace and in the bass player’s instance adding an essential backing vocal. The ending where Paul Weller chants out NOW!!!!!!! Is one of my favourite moments on any Jam song – single, b-side or album track.”

It would have been a sure-fire #1, blasting out of the radios at all times of the day and night. Some folk would likely have bought it simply for the short spoken word intro and the heartfelt shout of ‘BAAAAAAAABBBBBBBBYYYYY’

mp3: The Jam – Happy Together

But what would have been the ideal flip-side?

The then 23-year-old Paul Weller was worshipped by a congregation of fans, most of whom were around blokes his age or marginally younger.  While each of us will spout many different reasons for such devotion, I can safely say that the late-teenage me truly believed he was the spokesman for my generation and I hung on to just about every word he said, especially when he got political in his song lyrics and during his interviews.

I hated the Tories, and in particular their leader and the divisive Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.  So, the b-side has to be one of his more subtle political lyrics, one which I’ll be honest I didn’t get right away, only picking it up a few months later during a drunken session in the student union. It was a much older and wiser person, who was at university as a mature student who pointed out that it was really all about the hated PM and her desire to destroy anybody and anything who got in her way; he also helpfully explained that the unsettling and, to me, confusing final lines about looking in a mirror and seeing greed fear and hate, was really a warning of what often happens as you age and move on in life away from your teenage ideologies.

mp3: The Jam – Carnation

And here was me thinking it was a love song written by a bastard…….

So there you have it.  Two tracks what the band’s final album, one which has many high points but a couple of tunes that didn’t quite work out as expected as the frontman tried to take the band in a new direction but at the same time came to the realisation that his hopes, dreams and ambitions could only be achieved by breaking up The Jam and starting all over again.  There really was irony in opening up this album with a track called Happy Together…….

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 2)

There were just three months between the release of the debut single by The Fall and its follow-up, but there were already a couple of changes in personnel, with Yvonne Pawlett (keyboards) and Marc Riley (bass) coming in respectively for Una Baines and Tony Friel, to line-up alongside Mark E Smith (vocals), Martin Bramah (guitars) and Karl Burns (drums).

The facts.

Recorded on 9 September 1978 at Surrey Sound Studios which were located in Leatherhead, a town some 20 miles south of London.  The studios had been created in 1974 by Nigel Grey, a qualified medical doctor with a passion for music, initially as a basic and very affordable four-track set-up, before upgrading to 16-track in 1977.

It was inevitable given the fact that most singers and bands who used Surrey Sound were inexperienced, for Nigel Grey, to get involved in engineering and/or producing anyone who came through the doors of his studio.  He is listed as the engineer on this particular 45 with production being credited to The Fall, with some acknowledged help from the engineer.

Three months later, in the same week that The Fall’s second single was released, Nigel Grey’s life changed forever as another new band went to Surrey Sound to record their debut album, one which would go into sell in the millions and make pop/rock stars of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.  Indeed, The Police would record their first three albums at Surrey Sound, while others, such as Siouxsie & The Banshees, would also work with him as a producer in later years.

mp3: The Fall – It’s The New Thing
mp3: The Fall – Various Times

It’s probably just a coincidence that Nigel Grey worked on one of The Fall’s earliest examples of a catchy single, one that’s initially driven by a simple keyboard beat, before the new 17-year-old bass player (and former roadie) shows no fear alongside his more experienced bandmates, to create a single that, if it had come along a few years later when the band was slightly better known and had a larger fanbase, could well have been a hit. As it was, by May 1979, they had played it live for the very last time, an early indication that MES was always keen to continually move forward and not ever get nostalgic for his old material.

The b-side is quite different, being a 5-minute plus effort in which the musicians provide more than a hint of their new wave influences while MES delivers an extraordinary and beguiling lyric, spread out over three parts of the past, present and the future, albeit the future was only two years hence in 1980. All five musicians get a writing credit for the b-side, while the single is the work of Smith and Brammah.

It was, like the debut, issued by Step Forward Records. Again, It didn’t chart.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #263: PUNCH AND THE APOSTLES

As recently as last week, I mentioned that quite a few of the Scottish singers/groups to feature in this extremely long-running series will do so as a result of them contributing a song to a compilation album, with it being the only track of theirs I have on the hard drive.

I know nothing about Punch and The Apostles.  I only know of them as a track of theirs appears on Limbo Live Volume 01, issued in 2009 to commemorate and acknowledge a series of gigs put on at The Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh; almost held on a weekly basis, the first Limbo Live event was in November 2007 and the last one appears to have been in the summer of 2011.

Here’s what a local listings magazine had to say, back in late 2008, about today’s featured band:-

‘We’re not exactly palatable, but not immediately repulsive,’ suggests lead singer Paul Napier, to sum up the sound of Punch and the Apostles, the Glasgow seven-piece who’ve been bringing chaos to traditional folk music for almost a year now. Mashing up gypsy violins, flamenco guitars and frantic klezmer trumpets, PATA’s fashion-dodging approach to the music industry means they can blast out noises from a circus freak-show or bull-fight one minute, then whisk their crowd to a drunken bar mitzvah in bohemian Montmartre the next.

‘There’s a definite anti-commercial approach to what we do,’ says Napier, who plays guitar and keyboards while the others juggle diving bells, accordions and something called a ‘spinning jenny’ to create their old-fashioned, upbeat and riotous noise. ‘We’re sneaking old musical styles back in like a Trojan horse,’ he adds, explaining their weird hybrid of Tom Waits’ theatricality with tango, polka, Eastern European or blues styles. ‘We want to revive old music forms that people might have wrongly dismissed as boring.’

‘We’re not into slickness,’ points out his sister Juliana, PATA’s only female, and a fan of bands like Gogol Bordello and A Hawk and a Hacksaw. ‘So we wouldn’t want Timbaland producing our stuff. It’s very important for us to stay in control.’ Franz Ferdinand’s management are rumoured to have approached them, but they are still unsigned, giving them free reign to mess around with their fast-paced cacophony of styles. ‘There’s a lot of tripping over instruments when we perform live,’ says Juliana, ‘but that doesn’t stop us from dancing.’

mp3: Punch and The Apostles – Asylum (live)

Quite.

JC

POP THE CHAMPAGNE CORKS

It’s strange how some things often happen to coincide in various walks of life.

Today is the 3,000th posting on The (New Vinyl Villain) which means it has lasted longer and offered up around 500 more posts than could have been found over at the original site.  My thanks to everyone who has been part of this community over the years, whether in the guise of guest contributors, commentators or simply happy to drop in occasionally for a peek.  A huge thanks……..it’s knowing that folk are interested that keeps me motivated to ensure a posting appears every day, even if some of them are repeats from days of old.

Today also happens to be my 58th birthday.  For once, I’ve no plans in place to do anything special – Mrs Villain is actually away this weekend with some friends to one of the Scottish islands, a trip that has been much postponed and the next few days were one of those rare occasions when diaries allowed everyone to hook up.  Besides, I would have been pleading my case to stay indoors anyway as tonight sees the much awaited England v Scotland match in the European Championships.

I’ve thought long and hard about which songs to post today, and I’ve changed my mind on umpteen occasions. In the end, I went for the SWC and Tim Badger approach. Pick up the i-phone, hit shuffle and pause it on the songs that come in at #58 on the next ten occasions thus creating a wholly random birthday ICA. Note…there were 45,000 songs on this particular i-pod, so the odds of landing lucky were quite high.

Side One

1. Bettie Serveert – Hell=Other People (alternative version)

Bettie Serveert are an indie band from The Netherlands. Hell=Other People (alternative version) is from their 2006 album, Bare Stripped Naked, and is a cross between the softer side of The Cardigans and Camera Obscura.

2. Client – Pornography

Electronic pop from England. There were five albums between 2003 and 2014. Client originally consisted of Kate Holmes (ex Frazier Chrous) and Sarah Blackwood (ex Dubstar), but performing as Client A and Client B, specialising in the visual elements of performing as much as the singing. It’s all a bit complicated, so click on this wiki page for more. Pornography was a single released in 2005, and features a guest vocal from Carl Barat (The Libertines). I’ve a 7″ copy of the single which, in reaching #22, was their biggest hit.

3. XTC -Grass

As featured here, previously back in August 2017, as Part 22 of the XTC singles series

4. Dead Kennedys -When Ya Get Drafted

From the debut album Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (1980).  Just 84 seconds long., so you best quickly get jumping around and working up that sweat.

5. Pet Shop Boys – Girls Don’t Cry

A more than decent b-side to I’m With Stupid, released in 2006 and which reached #8 in the UK charts.  I’m tempted, at some point, to have a Singular Adventures look at PSB….

Side Two

1. Aswad – It’s Not Our Wish (John Peel Session)

The lack of reggae on the blog over the years will give away the fact that I’m not the genre’s biggest connoisseur. Aswad, a London-based group, are the most successful reggae act to emerge from the UK, and are still have been on the go having formed in 1975. This was included on Movement, a 41-song compilation CD featuring John Peel Sessions between 1977 and 1979. It’s Not Our Wish was recorded on 10 October 1978 and broadcast on 18 December 1978.

2. Joe Jackson – One More Time

The opening track from the debut album Look Sharp (1979). A genuine classic of the post-punk/new wave genre that has been aired on many an occasion in Villain Towers and previous dwellings over the past 40+ years.

3. Sexy Boy – Franz Ferdinand

I’m not all that surprised that a cover came as one of the random songs given how many I have on the hard drive. This take on the breakthrough hit single (1998) by Air was recorded by the Glaswegian popsters as a b-side to the single Walk Away, which reached #13 in December 2005.

4. Something’s Got To Give – Beastie Boys

A wonderfully understated effort which is tucked away in the middle of the third album Check Your Head (1992). I’ve always pictured folk listening to this while they looked to unwind to this after a hard day at work (spliff is optional).

5. How Did This Happen?! – Bodega

The opening track on the critically acclaimed debut album Endless Scroll (2018). I wonder if Bodega will emerge unscathed from the COVID situation. They were making a real name for themselves much further afield than their native New York City, touring hard all across the globe, but their momentum was obviously halted and they might well find that everyone has moved on by the time they get back into the studio.

So there you have it. A sort of birthday ICA that is really more like a random jukebox, but hopefully there’s just about something for everyone, whatever your tastes.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #288 : BILLIE RAY MARTIN

A GUEST POSTING by KHAYEM

Soul Rebel Sold Out To Disco: A Billie Ray Martin ICA

There were two recent indirect nudges that finally got me to revisit and complete this ICA, one that I’ve been living with and playing around with in ridiculously expanded form for many, many months now:

1) The Vinyl Villain, April 20th – My Go-To Album When Out On Longer Walks: JC’s spotlight on HiFi Sean’s Ft. didn’t include the ’Ft. Billie Ray Martin’ song, but prompted me to get the album and discover it for myself;

2) Bagging Area, May 15th – Holding On: Swiss Adam’s feature on Circle Sky, one half of which is Richard Norris, that got a few of us commenting on his rich musical history and specifically the wonder that is Billie Ray Martin’s 4 Ambient Tales EP.

On her website, Billie Ray Martin describes herself as “a kid from Hamburg’s red-light district, who wanted to be a soul singer, but ended up playing repetitive machine music, while still trying to be a soul singer”, which is as good an introduction as any.

Born Birgit Dieckmann, Billie Ray Martin moved to Berlin then London in the 1980s, where her advert in Melody Maker – “Soul rebel searching for a genius” – led to the formation of Electribe 101. Managed by Tom Watkins, then riding high with Pet Shop Boys & Bros, Electribe 101 released their first single, Talking With Myself, in 1988. Re-released in 1990, it reached 23 in the UK charts, with the album Electribal Memories achieving a peak of 26 in the same year. By 1992, Electribe 101 split, without releasing their completed second album. Whilst the rest of the band formed Groove Corporation, Billie Ray Martin embarked on a solo career. Kind of.

In fact, her first two singles in 1993 were collaborations: a cover of Throbbing Gristle’s Persuasion with Spooky and the 4 Ambient Tales EP, produced by The Grid aka Dave Ball and Richard Norris. This was no surprise: Billie was also a memorable guest artist with S’Express, notably their Top 5 UK hit Superfly Guy. But it was these two records that left an indelible mark on me and embedded an enduring love of Billie Ray Martin’s voice, songwriting and music. Part of the challenge with this ICA is that I could have easily filled one side with these 5 songs alone.

Technically speaking, Billie Ray Martin has only released 3 solo albums so far – Deadline For My Memories (1996), 18 Carat Garbage (2001), The Soul Tapes (2016) – and is currently fundraising for the next three, with Gezeitenraum (translating as Tidal Space) hopefully due in 2021. However, add in demo and remix albums, singles, one-offs and collaborations, and Billie Ray Martin’s body of work is huge. This is possibly the most difficult of all the ICAs I’ve put together so far. Until the “nudge” in April/May, I’d only been able to get to a shortlist of 20 songs, never managing to settle on the final 10.

Billie Ray Martin only really had one “monster hit” – the re-release of Your Loving Arms in 1995, not included here – and I’ve largely bypassed her other arguably well-known singles such as Running Around Town (also 1995) and Honey (1999). The ICA starts and ends in 1993 with tracks from the aforementioned debut EPs and along the way takes in over two decades of collaborations, heartfelt lyrics and dancefloor cuts. And always the voice. Always the voice.

Side One

1) (I Spent Hours Again) Wishing You Well (Single Version): Billie Ray Martin (4 Ambient Tales EP, 1993)

I got the original CD single at the time of release, along with Persuasion, from a record shop in Derby and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played this EP since. My mixtapes for friends from this period inevitably featured one or more of the four songs, and it’s difficult to choose a favourite. Produced by The Grid and featuring beautiful slide guitar from BJ Cole, 4 Ambient Tales hasn’t dated at all. I finally settled on this as the opener, which was originally a contender for the second Electribe 101 album. I think The Grid’s production elevates the song to a level that the original is unlikely to have achieved.

2) Bright Lights Fading (Original Edit): Slam ft. Billie Ray Martin (promo single, 2004)

I’m a massive fan of Slam; Orde Meikle & Stuart McMillan continue to surprise and delight, three decades on. This is a promo edit from their 2004 album Year Zero, with Billie Ray Martin recounting a tale of an out of work performer desperate for another gig, money for food and rent and “the bright spot lights”. The opening lines are superb:

Gimme gimme gimme one more chance
I spent my royalties on call boys
Just a temporary slip of fate
On a moonlit street

and the song is laden with other great lines:

There’s no guilt about the things I do
You’ve got to take it where you find it
And I’ve starved enough and worked hard enough

Hows a girl out of luck gonna find herself?
Call me a tramp and a drunk
Its just packaging
Just a part of fame

whilst Slam’s music is more than a match for the lyrical weight.

3) Heavy Game: Hifi Sean ft. Billie Ray Martin (Ft., 2016)

Hifi Sean’s debut album had completely slipped under my radar, until JC’s post earlier this year (and, I’m embarrassed to say, in spite of his TnVV previous post in 2018). I wonder how I ever missed the album, not least because it features so many brilliant guests, from Norman Blake to Fred Schneider to Paris Grey to Little Annie and Alan Vega. Billie Ray Martin’s appearance is a highlight on an all-round excellent album.

4) Talking With Myself (Live On Manchester Radio, 2002): Billie Ray Martin (Unplugged Live Radio Performance promo EP, 2002)

This is a vocal and piano cover of Electribe 101’s big hit, featured on Simon Forestiero’s “Got 2 Be Funky” show on Manchester’s Piccadilly Key 103 FM on 25 May 2002. Although the piano struggles to keep up with the repetition at times, it’s a great performance of a classic club song, and Billie’s vocals are on top form.

5) Hyper Lust (Album Version): MOTOR ft. Billie Ray Martin (Man Made Machine/single, 2012)

Similar to Slam’s Year Zero and Hifi Sean’s Ft., USA-based electro/industrial duo MOTOR’s album is laden with like-minded guest vocalists such as Gary Numan, Martin Gore and Douglas McCarthy. Again, Billie’s performance is a standout.

Side Two

6) I’ve Never Been To Memphis (Radio Edit): Billie Ray Martin (single, 2001)

From Billie’s 2001 album, 18 Carat Garbage, this is another classic hit-that-never-was. A lyrical companion to Slam’s Bright Lights Fading, it’s another fascinating take on the vagaries of fame, with some beautiful lines:

I saw my face in the paper today
[…] I read a tale of a girl with my name
It was not the one that I know

I want to see my name in neon lights
Cause the words that you write they don’t last, my friends
They only shine a day at a time
And leave stains on my hands

Billie’s vocals are perfectly complemented by the music, which I keep expecting to segue into The Hustle by Van McCoy at some point, which is no bad thing.

7) The Crackdown (Radio Edit By Märtini Brös.): Billie Ray Martin ft. Stephen Mallinder (The Crackdown Project EP, 2010)

In which Billie covers Cabaret Voltaire’s 1983 double A-side single, Crackdown / Just Fascination, in suitably dark electro style. Over two volumes (“Sold Out To Disco” and “Darkness Restored”), there are a heck of lot of versions (14 of Crackdown, 17 of Just Fascination). As with most of the selections here, for ICA timing reasons I’ve gone for the radio edit, which features new vocals from Stephen Mallinder himself, transforming the song into a suitably dark duet.

8) No Brakes On My Rollerskates (Mark Moore & Mr. Motion Mix): Hot Skates 3000 (single, 2003)

An obscure BRM one-off side project. As described by Billie on her Bandcamp page:

“A girl has to have fun. It was the time of Electroclash and i was on a rebellious trip. What can i say: Some may like this, some may not. I had fun, working in Berlin at the time with producer Robert Schirner. The Mark Moore mix and Futon Mixes both to me are just fabulous.”

She’s not wrong, this is a fun trip and a counterpoint to the deeper lyrics of her solo material. And Mark “S’Express” Moore & Mr. Motion’s remix is, well, fabulous.

9) Undisco Me (Original Radio Edit): Billie Ray Martin (single, 2007)

This single was born from a collaboration with Norwegian DJ & producer Lil’Wolf aka Vegard Wolf Dyvik. The previous song on this ICA was described as “somewhat resembling Donna Summer on acid”, but I think the comment is far more apt for this track. A disco belter, as they used to say.

10) Persuasion (SpookyBillie’s Ventriloquist Mix): Billie Ray Martin & Spooky (single, 1993)

Proposing a cover of Throbbing Gristle’s unsettling song from 1979’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats, you can maybe understand why the wheels may have started to come off the bus for Electribe 101’s second major label album. Launching your solo career with the same song may have seemed equally ill advised, but by then Billie had teamed up with superlative electronic duo Spooky aka Charlie May and Duncan Forbes and the single was released on the mighty Guerilla label, run by William Orbit and Dick O’Dell. There are a plethora of remixes, all brilliant, but I have opted to go with the closing track of the CD single, which goes for the minimalist approach, brings Billie’s vocals to the fore and cranks the creepiness up to 11.

Bonus 12” EP

In good conscience, I couldn’t help trying to sneak in a few extra songs…

A1) Captain Drag (Album Version): Billie Ray Martin ft. Ann Peebles & Carla Thomas (18 Carat Garbage, 2001)

Back during last year’s run of “opening tracks” ICAs, I played around with a few variations but never settled on one that I was happy to submit. This song was a constant though, and one of my favourites of Billie Ray Martin’s career. Less obvious here, but the album features backing vocals throughout from soul legends Ann Peebles & Carla Thomas.

A2) Candy Coated Crime (Disco Bloodbath Remix): The Opiates (Hollywood Cuts (The Remixes), 2012)

Another BRM side project, this time a collaboration with Norwegian DJ & producer Robert Solheim. They released a couple of EPs, an album and a remix companion. I discovered the album, Hollywood Under The Knife, by accident when browsing the bargain bin at Blackcat Records in Taunton during a business trip. It’s a great album, but I’ve opted here for the remix by Disco Bloodbath aka Ben Rymer & Dan Beaumont, which gives the song that little push over the cliff.

B1) You And I (Keep Holding On) (Album Version): Billie Ray Martin (Deadline For My Memories/single, 1996)

A straight soul song, which despite being co-produced by Brian Transeau aka BT, dodges the dancefloor and goes straight for the heart. I was surprised to find that this was related as the fifth and final single from her Top 10 album. It reached the dizzy lows of 76 in the UK chart, at a time when the Lighthouse Family were a regular feature of the Top 20. Go figure.

B2) The Long And Lonely Fall (Album Version): Billie Ray Martin (The Soul Tapes, 2016)

This was originally premiered back in 2003 as part of a “New Demos” promo, though songs were originally recorded in the mid-90s, prior to 18 Carat Garbage. The album never came to be and The Soul Tapes, following a mere 13 years later, features reworked versions of the original songs. Described as a “soul album country with a country twist”, it’s a natural progression from – and threaded throughout – her previous work, right back to Electribe 101 and 4 Ambient Tales. Interviewed by Songwriting Magazine in 2016, Billie was asked if this was the album that she always wanted to make, to which she replied, “No, it’s just one album that I made. And it’s great.”

And that just about sums up Billie’s questing nature: always moving on, always creating, always seeking new ways of expression. I’ve not heard any of the demos or songs from forthcoming Gezeitenraum, which was due in 2020 but (hopefully) coming soon, but I do know that it’ll be worth the wait

KHAYEM

SHE WAS IN THE OMEN WITH GREGORY PECK

The 1978 debut single by the Go-Betweens on one side featured a tribute to a Hollywood actress who Robert Forster had a crush on, while the other side was a tribute to a University librarian who Robert Forster had a crush on.

I’ve a couple of cover versions of Lee Remick, one of which is quite quirky, while the other is quite rocky:-

mp3: The King Of Luxembourg – Lee Remick
mp3: The Wannadies – Lee Remick

I was actually quite disappointed by The Wannadies take on things, reckoning it’s a tad perfunctory and not representative of their own highly enjoyable Scandi-pop output.

I’m quite smitten by The King Of Luxembourg‘s take on things, somehow managing to even more camp, silly and enjoyable than the original. I ‘discovered’ it thanks to it being included on the Scared To Get Happy : A Story of Indie-Pop 1980-1989 boxset that was issued a few years back by Cherry Red Records. Here’s what the accompanying booklet had to say:-

The King of Luxembourg was an alter ego for Simon Fisher Turner, an actor who’d also tasted fame as a teenage glam-era pop star on Jonathan King’s UK label. As The King of Luxembourg (and dressed accordingly), he covered The Monkees’ ‘Vallen’ on el in 1986. Debut album ‘Royal Bastard’ boasted more covers : The Television Personalities ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’, PiL’s ‘Poptones’ and The Castaways’ ‘Liar Liar’.

Simon’s quirky rendition of the Go-Betweens classic graced a maxi-EP of ‘Dorian Gray’. By contrast, he recorded the soundtrack to Derek Jarman’s film ‘Caravaggio’ under his own name.

The King of Luxembourg monicker was dropped after the second LP, ‘Sir’ (1987). He’s since recorded classical and electronic music for many labels, including Creation and Mute.

So, there you have it. And unless anyone wants to offer up a guest posting, this will be the debut and last appearance by The King of Luxembourg on this blog.

JC

BURNING BADGER’S VINYL – THE (NEARLY) A-Z OF INDIEPOP

SWC, who as part of the Devon & Cornwall constabulary, has been just a tad occupied with the recent G7 summit that was held on his patch last week.  But he’s back……….

Did you miss me? Sorry for the radio silence, I’ve been a bit busy. Anyway, where was I, Oh Yes, Aphex Twin records, that’s were I left everything. Well that was sort of the last record I was going to talk about but….then I decided to move Badgers records from the boxes and into my vinyl cupboard, which was not an easy task I’ll tell you. I had to make space and now much to the annoyance of Mrs SWC, I’ve got a big pile of records sat in the bottom of my wardrobe behind the picture of Sennen Cove I’ve been meaning to put up in the lounge for years.

Still, there I was lovingly putting all these records in alphabetical (and chronological) order in small piles. I am somewhat surrounded by records, it is a lovely feeling, I have a cup of tea close at hand, a small plate of biscuits and the digital radio (BBC Radio 6 Music) has just played this:-

Real Estate – Talking Backwards

I am quite content.

It then dawns on me – that once again, save for the obvious letters of Q, X, Y and Z, Badger has given me at least one piece of vinyl for every letter of the alphabet, and with that a little lightbulb sparks above my head. It turns out I have leant against the switch whilst I was casually the reading the label notes for ‘Mixed Up’ by The Cure.

I did also have an idea. The next few pieces in this series will be in alphabetical order (rather like the Charity Shop CD bit – more of that later) – some will be bunched together to avoid you having to read at least 22 pieces of this nonsense. Oh, and massive apologies well in advance, the only band starting with U was U2, ‘Pop’ era U2 at that, so that means Bono at his most pompous wraparound shades wearing worst I’m afraid. You have my permission to pretend your internet was broken all week on that day.

Let’s start with something a little bit brilliant (we’ll get progressively shitter as the weeks go on) and a band who did their own A to Z tour of the UK a few years back.

A is for ASH

Trailer (Infectious Records, 1994)

According to legend (or Wikipedia, whichever you like), Ash were called Ash because back in 1992 the band decided that if they were going to be taken seriously as a band, then being an Iron Maiden covers band called ‘Vietnam’ wasn’t a good enough. One of the band, probably the drummer, because, well its always the drummer, as we know, picked up a dictionary and starting with A they flicked through until they came across word that they all liked…talking of legends….

“There is a cave at the bottom of Tregarra Head where a mermaid lives…” is how the story told by an old fisherman who sits at the back drinking his ale from a jug, starts (if you went to the right pub that is). His purpose in life is to pass on information, stories, and tales. If you pay him in pints of Doom Bar he will regale you with a yarn from about the mermaid who lived in a cave below the mining village of Zennor.

He used to that is until 2009.

You will note I said until 2009, why..? Well because in 2009 a new Cornish legend was born, one that replaced the old, slightly creepy and probably not true story of the mermaid who lived in a cave below the mining village of Zennor. A story told by, let’s be honest, a man who should probably get a real job and seek help for his obvious and depressing descent into alcoholism.

The new legend was born towards the end of November 2009, when a band called Ash played the final gig of their aforementioned A to Z tour in the Village Hall at Zennor to a crowd of 70, why only 70? Well, because that’s the capacity.

Now when you stagger into the local pub in that tiny Cornish village and go up to the gnarly looking old guy in the corner with the chunky sweater and the yellow trousers and casually put down his pint of Doom. The fisherman will look at you and then rip off his chunky sweater to reveal an original ‘1977’ tour t shirt, he will then jump up on the bar and shout,

“Twas a cold November evening when lights dimmed in Zennor Village Hall and not a whisper could be heard until a voice shouted into the darkness “Hey, We’re fucking Ash and this is called ‘Kung Fu’”….

Here are three tracks from ‘Trailer’ all of which are excellent, and three of the reasons why Ash were so good back in the mid-nineties, of course you should have them:-

Jack Names The Planets
Petrol
Uncle Pat

There were a couple of other records in the ‘A’ Pile that were worthy of your attention, there was this:-

Alabama 3 – Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

which is all kinds of funky brilliance and way better than the original.

Audioweb – Sleeper

who Badger saw live in a BBC Studio once on the Jools Holland smug fest that is ‘Hootenanny’.

SWC

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Nineteen : SISTOSIG/STH

It’s just over five years since this double-A effort was featured in the series looking at the singles released by The Clash.  But this time round the mp3s come straight from the 12″ vinyl, ripped at 320 kpbs for a better listening experience.

Here’s what was said back in May 2016, along with a couple of things offered up in the comments by two of our Stateside regulars:-

“Released just three months after Rock The Casbah, a lot had changed for The Clash in the summer of 1982, not least the fact that they had ‘cracked’ America.  Combat Rock was proving to be an enduring album, going on to spend almost six months successively in the UK charts which was well beyond the time expected of any album by the band. They were now determined to get their music across to as wide an audience as possible, hence the decision to accept the task of opening for The Who at a series of outdoor stadium gigs in October 1982, although it is worth recalling that the band continued to headline at much smaller venues in the States at the same time.

The days of standing up to record company wishes to milk albums dry were also over as seen by the fact that the release of a double A single meant that exactly one-third of Combat Rock had been put out on the 45rpm format.  But in saying this, there’s no argument that it is one of the band’s finest 45s.

Straight To Hell -the very idea that one of the world’s foremost punk bands would, within just five years of their explosive and noisy debut, end up recording and releasing a song that leaned heavily on a bossa nova drumbeat devised by Topper Headon and a haunting violin sound would have been laughable. It has a stunning and thought-provoking lyric delivered by a resigned-sounding Joe Strummer who seems devastated by the fact that musicians cannot make the world’s problems disappear.

Radio stations and the general public however, preferred the charms of Should I Stay Or Should I Go. It has a great riff, a sing-a-long and infectiously catchy chorus and the most ridiculously yet charming backing vocals in some strange version of Spanish.  What’s not to like???

Jonny The Friendly Lawyer added:-

I was a massive Who fan since my sister bought me Who’s Next when I was a little kid. By the time I saw the Clash open for them at Shea Stadium I’d been a dedicated fan since London Calling, which was only 3 years earlier.

I had seen them once at the Bonds shows but the group were still not in the mainstream at that time. I just did not know what to make of the idea of The Clash, who’d been practically underground until a couple of years before, playing for rock giants who’d been at Woodstock and were pretty much on their last legs as a band. It sort of felt, to me, that this massive crowd (Shea was a baseball stadium that held over 55,000 — I’d been watching the Mets play there since 1968) didn’t DESERVE to be in on the act. The vast majority were there to see The ‘Oo, of course, who went through the motions satisfactorily, and I wanted to make a “punk meets the godfathers” mental connection, but just couldn’t.

If I remember correctly, Echorich not only saw many of the Bonds shows but also saw the Clash at the legendary Palladium gig from a couple of years prior, when NO ONE knew the band and they got zero radio play. I wonder what the slightly older than me crowd thought of the only band that mattered opening for the only band that used to matter.

Echorich chimed in:-

…yes I was at Shea Stadium – I was living walking distance from Shea at the time and one of the photographers I rep’ed at my agency, Bob Gruen – who drove the band to the show in his 50’s Cadillac, got us tix. Honestly, I would have been happy to sit outside the stadium in the parking lot listening to them tear down the house if I had to. But it was a weird feeling seeing a band I loved play in such an impersonal setting. The Clash rose to the challenge, but their show a month earlier, in the pouring rain at Pier 84, courting electrocution and drowning a few thousand in sound as much as rain was one of the most electric shows I’ve ever seen.

mp3: The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
mp3: The Clash – Straight To Hell

I hope, gentlemen, that some further happy memories are triggered listening again to the tracks almost 40 years on.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 1)

 

If there’s one thing that the look back at all the R.E.M. singles has taught me, then it’s to make sure that you have a true fan on board when taking a look at the career of a much-loved band, particularly when :-

(a) they have been, or were, part of the fabric of essential music for decades;and

(b) my own efforts will be hampered by not actually having a copy of all the records due to be featured in any series.

Let’s face it, without The Robster on board, many of the Sundays over the past year or so would have been a washout.

I’ve thought long and hard about who next to shine the spotlight on. Prior to R.E.M., the singles series had been devoted to The Auteurs/Luke Haines, Simple Minds, Marc Almond, Paul Haig, Grinderman, New Order, XTC, Undertones, Buzzcocks, Cinerama, The Clash, The Style Council, The Jam, Altered Images and James.

It’s not too shabby a list, but there is one band I’ve long wanted to cover but always felt it would be too much of a challenge. Thankfully, Drew, doyen of From Across The Kitchen Table, (which has been in abeyance since the end of last year), has answered my plea for help as I’m not perfectly placed to take on the fresh challenge single-handedly.

Yup. The aim is to focus on the recorded output of The Fall, going back to the debut single in August 1978 and meandering our way through the following 40 years.

The thing is, I really have no idea what road the series will follow.

Drew, quite rightly, doesn’t want to be restricted solely to looking at singles as they don’t really give a true indication of things. At the same time, if the series was to try and look at every release, be they singles, EPs, studio albums, live albums, compilations and Peel Sessions, it would be akin to painting the Forth Rail Bridge (i.e., never ending).

So, get yourselves comfortably and safely seated, but fasten your safety belts as we get set to take you through this wonderful and frightening new series. Here’s how it all started:-

mp3: The Fall – Psycho Mafia
mp3: The Fall – Bingo-Master
mp3: The Fall – Repetition

The facts.

Recorded late 1977 in Manchester but not released until 11 August 1978 on Step Forward Records. It didn’t chart.

The players were Mark E Smith (vocals), Martin Bramah (guitar), Tony Friel (bass), Karl Burns (drums) and Una Baines (keyboards). All five members are credited with the writing of Repetition. Smith and Friel are responsible for Psycho Mafia, while Smith and Baines wrote Bingo Master. One interesting thing to note is that both Friel and Baines had left the band before the debut single was released….but they wouldn’t be the last musicians eligible to have ‘ex-The Fall’ after their name.

Nostalgically, it’s fair to say it really was something of a sensational debut, but it didn’t quite feel that way back in 1978. In the era of post-punk and just about anything being able to go, the harshness of the playing and the unusual vocal delivery did make it a challenging listen. If the band had broken up there and then, it would likely have been highly regarded as a cult single. Better songs would quickly follow, but all three of these remain essential and, while the next five different decades would see a continual re-invention and evolution, it is nevertheless a reasonable statement to make that these are damn near the perfect calling card as any type of introduction to The Fall.

Welcome aboard. One or both of us will be back next Sunday.

Oh, and if anyone wants to contribute at any point, they would be most welcome. But, please remember, the plan is to do things in a chronological fashion, and so it might be that your words, thoughts and promptings will be kept in a holding pattern until permission to land is granted.

JC and Drew

PS – another reminder for those who still might need their weekly R.E.M. fix that The Robster has an ongoing weekly series over at his place.  Click here for a Star Trek type transportation…..

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #262: PSYCHIC SOVIETS

I’ve mentioned before that quite a few of the Scottish singers/groups to feature in this extremely long-running series will do so as a result of them contributing a song to a compilation album, with it being the only track of theirs I have on the hard drive.

It was last December, in the posting on Pennycress, that I referenced David Cameron’s Eton Mess, a sixteen-song compilation issued in October 2015 on Song By Toad Records, with just about every contributor, at the time, being unknown with very little more than a few tracks available online or via a limited physical release, most often cheaply done on a cassette.

Psychic Soviets were also on the compilation.

mp3 : Psychic Soviets – I Become A Feminist

All I’ve been able to find out about them is via a promotional blurb to promote a gig the same month this particular compilation album was released:-

Psychic Soviets are a band that’s sound shouldn’t be compared to many other bands that have come out of Scotland in recent years, their unique sound is a twisted, pacey, aggressive, punky romp. The National Newspaper describe them as if the Dead Kennedys and The Strokes had followed Franz Ferdinand and Sparks’ lead and formed a supergroup, then recorded in a garage in a rage.  It is as raw & ugly as it gets, in your face music at its finest.

If this rocks your boat (and why shouldn’t it??) then you can head over to bandcamp and listen to four further songs which made up the limited edition cassette release (50 only) of A Capitalist Night-Time BreakfastClick here.

JC

FINALLY, A HALF- DECENT SONG ABOUT FOOTBALL


Today marks the start of the finals of the European Football Championships, originally meant to be played in 2020, but delayed by 12 months as a result of the impact of COVID 19.

Scotland are in the finals.  It’s the first time we have reached this stage of a major competition since 1998.  It’s been twenty-three long years and there’s a fair number of us excited about what lies ahead, although in typical fashion, we are likely to be one of the first to be eliminated (we have never got out of the group stages at any World Cup or European Championships in any of our previous nine campaigns in 1954, 1958, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1990, 1992, 1996 and 1998).

As ever, songs have been written and recorded to mark the occasion, although the COVID restrictions have meant, thankfully, that no official songs featuring the players have been inflicted on us.  With the exception of World In Motion by England/New Order in 1990, and the kitsch/tongue-in-cheek back in 1982 of We Have A Dream by the Scotland squad, along with John Gordon Sinclair, one of the stars of the film Gregory’s Girl, all the official efforts have been appalling.

One of my favourite indie bands, Randolph’s Leap, has been getting some good local press for their new single, They Didn’t See Us Coming.  Here’s some words lifted from the press pack issued by Olivegrove Records:-

“Scottish indie-band Randolph’s Leap have recorded a buoyant, singalong anthem, They Didn’t See Us Coming for Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign. The single is officially released on 4th June and will raise money for two notable charities, Street Soccer Scotland and LEAP Sports.​

The lyrics for They Didn’t See Us Coming were penned by Adam Ross, the principal songwriter in the group who is based in St Cyrus near Montrose. He explained “I think music and football share a lot in common. They’re both valuable sources of escapism and have an amazing power to lift people’s spirits and help us connect with other humans. I think all of those things are really welcome and important right now.”​

Due to Covid restrictions, the song was recorded remotely and mixed in Glasgow by Randolph’s Leap keyboardist Pete MacDonald who even managed to incorporate Liam McLeod’s iconic, goosebump-inducing commentary from Scotland’s qualifying match. The SFA and BBC Scotland have granted permission for the band to sample McLeod’s voice which many will recognise from the nail-biting penalty shootout against Serbia, a play-off victory which sent the Scotland men’s team to their first major tournament finals since 1998.​

Scotland’s turbulent road to the competition is referenced in the song’s title They Didn’t See Us Coming as well as playful lyrics about “arriving fashionably late” (a nod to the team qualifying at a late stage via the UEFA Nations League route in November 2020). The chorus even pays brief homage to stadium-favourites “Doe-a-Deer”, “We’ll Be Coming Down The Road” and Baccara’s “Yes Sir I Can Boogie” which has become an unlikely anthem amongst the fans in recent years.​

“The song is a bit of an underdog anthem.” says Ross. “It’s about defying expectations but also remembering to have fun and make the most of these matches and the atmosphere that will accompany them. Who knows, it could be a while before it comes round again!”.

As the money raised from the single will be donated to a couple of well-deserving charities, (LEAP Sports is a Glasgow-based charity which aims to increase LGBTIQ+ representation in sport through work such as their ‘Football vs Homophobia’ campaign, while Street Soccer Scotland is  a social enterprise which uses football to tackle issues of isolation linked to poverty and social exclusion), I’m not going to post an mp3, but here’s a way to listen:-

I love the fact that the band have made a song that sounds like something from one of their albums, and in doing so have come up with a playful lyric which I think perfectly captures the mood of most of our fans in that we are perhaps unexpectedly in the finals, and we don’t really have any high expectations…..but in football, you just never know.

Here’s one I mentioned earlier.  I like to think of They Didn’t See Us Coming as being from the same genealogy:-

mp3: The Scotland World Cup Squad 1982 – We Have A Dream

Please click here to purchase the Randolph’s Leap song.

Cheers.

JC