Album: The Affectionate Punch – Associates
Review: NME, 16 August 1980
Author: Paul Morley

RUMOURS have been dripping down from Scotland about a diverse horde of determined post Skids/S. Minds/Scars groups all ready to shift our attention. Positive Noise, Altered Images, Josef K, Orange Juice . . . the newest rumours centred around The Associates, who it seems were refining the vision of Station To Station, who it seems had a singer who sang like that particular Bowie. He wasn’t copying, that’s how he really sang – from deep inside, neo-operatically.

It sounded ponderous, but The Affectionate Punch is too good, too spectacular to be merely the work of yet another group set to make a career out of one of Bowie’s stops. The Associates have further defined Station’s eerie combination of vitality and disorientation, drawn from is melancholia, and share its European feel. It’s a debut almost as sensational as Real Life – The Associates have things in common with Magazine worth talking about.

That European feel for a start, which basically stems from their liberating remoteness from standard r’n’r influences: the logic and out of the blue maturity of their sound: a Kurt Weill caught up with John Barry cabaret tension: and a respect for the irrational.

Billy Mackenzie is vocally reminiscent of Bowie: but Bowie has never sung with so much delightful range and subtlety, never really had to. Mackenzie’s soul singing is in the pained, proud tradition of Holiday and Garland. He’d be comfortable and do a great job singing ‘Windmills Of My Mind’ (he almost does on ‘Even Dogs In The Wild’). An artist at communication, he takes intense care over enunciation – the shape of words and the space between them. His vocals are either a folly or something very special: I reckon a little of the former, a lot of the latter.
The Associates sound is somewhere between evocative Cure and dramatic Magazine: a passionate cabaret soul music, a fulfillment of the European white dance music Bowie was flirting with back then. It is a fabulist (as opposed to surrealist) entertainment vitiated by a cool sense of art.

Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine write the music; Mackenzie the words. Rankine appears to play all instruments with remarkable skill except drums (Nigel Glockler). The ten songs are consistently inventive, ironic, irreverent, written with a light sometimes self-mocking restraint, arranged from a post-Eno, point of view.

The opening two songs are immediately impressive: the stylish cynical title track, typically laced with incidental delights; the almost atomised, light-headed ‘Amused As Always’ – Mackenzie’s singing here at is most absorbed and absorbing. The side’s closer, ‘Transport To Central’, forgoes obvious percussion and is formed around bitter, hedonistic guitars. The guitar sound on the LP is of the Manzanera/Levene/Smith line, lyrical, splintered, very anti-formal.

Individually, Mackenzie’s songs don’t say anything in particular (you could say they’re fashionably vague, but I’m not going to). Nervy, inward-looking images are repeated, reviewed, suggesting a feeling or an action, a mood or a moment. Effectively simplistic, songs about chance, confusion, absurdity, failure, suspense, that never degenerate into the precious.

‘A Matter Of Gender’ is a lush example of The Associates’ private desperation and public drama. ‘Even Dogs In The Wild’ is decadent cabaret, feeling for warmth; a typically clipped swing, finger clickings, a lone whistler in the dark. Mackenzie goes right over the top on ‘Would I… Bounce Back’ but still doesn’t seem to be stretching himself; ‘A’ drags out the group’s amoralism from its usual corner.
Don’t look for message or moral – the songs affect a dreamlike incompleteness but are not unprincipled or uncaring. They develop an account of the various mechanisms by which people remain trapped in boredom, abstraction, essence.

With Mackenzie’s obsessive flamboyance, the invariably plangent melodies, the richly fragmented detail of the songs, The Associates are undoubtedly theatrical. But their sense of theatre is natural, even profound, not the usual pop flash-trivia. The Associates are real performers.

At their worst they are engagingly supra-whimsical, at their best they are potently sophisticated and sensitive. Their well-ordered flair and melodrama seems right for the times: decay music.

The Affectionate Punch is a kind of masterpiece.

JC adds…….

It was in 1980, that my tastes began to develop and widen, thanks in part to Joy Division, Magazine, Echo & The Bunnymen and the Bowie of Ashes to Ashes/Fashion/Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), all of which I felt were a cut above the norm, although there was still no question that The Jam were the singularly most important band ever to have graced the planet at any point in musical history.

I’d love to tell you that I raced out the next day after reading this review and bought The Affectionate Punch, but I’d be lying.  It would take me until the following year, when I had started university, and hearing White Car In Germany for the first time that totally stopped me in my tracks, thanks to it being included on a compilation tape made by a new mate I’d met at university that led to me buying a copy of Fourth Drawer Down, the compilation released in late 1981 bringing together all the singles which Alan and Billy had released that particular year.

I’d love to tell you at the purchase of Fourth Drawer Down then led to me going back to the shop to buy the debut album from the previous year, but again I’d be lying.  I’d not too long fallen in love for the first time with someone who I’d been at school with and her musical tastes were very much on the conservative side, and so I was spending money and time trying to get her to appreciate the more pop-orientated elements of my weird vinyl, which meant anything that didn’t chart stood very little chance of being bought.  But as I started to spend more time with my new pals from uni, and she with her new friends at the bank where she had been taken on as a school-leaver, the relationship withered; it broke my heart at the time, but the consolation was that I threw myself deeper than ever into music.

Fourth Drawer Down wasn’t bought until after the Associates had become famous; even then, it was from someone who, having rich parents and a bulky wallet, bought loads of records on a whim and had found that early Associates was nothing like the pop-era Associates of 1982.  He more or less gave it away to me…..

mp3: The Associates – The Affectionate Punch
mp3: The Associates – Amused As Always
mp3: The Associates – Transport To Central
mp3: The Associates – Even Dogs In The Wild

Paul Morley was right to say that The Affectionate Punch is a kind of masterpiece.  It sounded like nothing else back in 1980. Sadly, most folk only know of it through the 1982 remix, released by Warner Brothers after the success of Party Fears Two/Club Country/18 Carat Love Affair/Sulk, in which the songs were given a fairly radical makeover in terms of production and from Billy being asked, nay forced, to re-record some vocals.  It was a fatal mistake as it found no favour with those who had liked The Associates from the outset and, despite the tweaks, it was ignored by those who wanted a repeat of the chart hits.

And, of course, the album has given its name to a Glasgow-based collective who have featured a few times on this blog over the past two years.  Things have been a wee bit quiet of late with the collective, but watch this space for developments…..



It’s a repost from 8 December 2014….one which got no comments, and so I’m not holding my breath today!  The difference being that seven years ago, it was the CD single which was used, while today’s has the recently picked up second-hand vinyl from a charity shop.

“I am of the opinion that When I Was Born For The 7th Time, released by Cornershop back in 1997 is a tremendous record. It is the best known of all the band’s LPs thanks to it having the original version of Brimful of Asha which, thanks to a remix from Norman Cook, stormed to the top of the singles chart.

It was an album which received great acclaim on its initial release but for a time, not long after the remix was such a hit, it did seem that many critics, having watched on as the band moved from cult status into commercial success, felt they could have a bit of a go at Cornershop’s particular mix of pop, dance, funk and politics, underpinned by a sub-continental groove. It certainly caught the band on the hop and caused a bit of a rethink on whether the fame and fortune was really worth the hassle, and it would be five years before the next record was released.

Despite having all the hallmarks of a great single, Brimful of Asha wasn’t selected as the first single from the LP. That honour went to the ridiculously catchy Good Shit. Except that it didn’t quite….everyone involved knew that releasing a song with that title and a chorus of ‘Good Shit’s all around good people’ was doomed to an instant ban. So with the change of one little letter and taking it to the plural:-

mp3 : Cornershop – Good Ships

It still of course for the most part sounds as if nothing has been altered, which is probably why it hardly got any radio play and was the latest in a run of flop 45s.”

Back in December 2014, I featured all four songs on the CD single, and mentioned its third track turned out to be a straight lift of something which would appear unaltered on the LP when it was released some three months later.  I made the observation that, on first listen, it really felt like a tremendous b-side:-

mp3 : Cornershop – Funky Days Are Back Again

I now know, from having the 7″, whose sleeve is at the top of today’s posting, is that it was in fact a double-A side effort.  One which deserved to do a lot better than one miserable week in the charts at #92.



The summer of 1983.  The Fall are signed to Rough Trade.  Their label mates included The Smiths, Aztec Camera, The Go-Betweens, Jazzateers and Violent Femmes, all of whom were recording and issuing what Mark E Smith regarded as bog-standard tuneful indie-pop, often with jangly guitars at the centre of the sound.  Rough Trade did not feel like a natural home, but hey-ho, a contract is a contract, and a single and album are required by the end of 1983.

The current five-man line-up of MES, Craig Scanlon, Paul Hanley, Steve Hanley and Karl Burns convene in a London studio to record the contractual new single. It’s a song they have played a great deal while touring throughout the previous six months, mainly in Europe, but also over in the USA on the tour when MES had first met Brix Salenger after a gig in Chicago. Brix had followed MES back to England, and as recounted in last week’s tale, the couple had married in July 1983.

It’s a song about football.  A sport which was at something of a low in England (and indeed Scotland) in 1983.  It was often a brutal watch, with skilful players all too often at the mercy of no-nonsense defenders, played in front of hostile and aggressive crowds.  Hooliganism was rife.   Fighting broke out on the terraces, in the surrounding streets, on public transport, at motorway service stations and was often at its worst when English clubs or the England national team played in European competitions.

It was as far from trendy as could be imagined, so there’s no real surprise that MES spent months crafting lyrics which had a go at those in charge of the sport, who were all too often and willing to do it down instead of looking for ways to bring about positive change. Oh, and as a reminder to Rough Trade that music wasn’t and shouldn’t always be instantly accessible and appealing to the masses, he came up with a tune which, for the early verses, leans on that rockabilly rift the band had used to great effect so often, but is mixed in with a degree of brutalism around the chorus and middle section of the song:-

mp3: The Fall – Kicker Conspiracy

It came out in September 1983 as a 2×7″ package with an original track on the b-side of Kicker Conspiracy, with the bonus 7″ having two songs taken from a John Peel session dating back to 1980:-

mp3: The Fall – Wings
mp3: The Fall – Container Drivers (Peel Session)
mp3: The Fall – New Puritan (Peel Session)

The writing credits on Wings are given to the Hanley brothers and MES. It’s one of those tracks which quite likely delighted most long-standing fans, but confirmed the prejudices held by the haters. I’ll hold my hands up…’s a song I didn’t discover until many years later and my first thought was that this was the sort of hard-to-take-in music I had experienced at the Glasgow Night Moves gig in April 1982, as mentioned a couple of weeks back. And sure enough, I’ve since been able to check and confirm that it was on the set-list that night, seemingly just the fourth time it had ever been aired. I’ve still never really taken to it……

Kicker Conspiracy reached #5 in the Indie Charts. MES wasn’t happy at how little promotional support was offered, despite it being the first Fall song to have an accompanying video, part of which was filmed at Turf Moor, the home of Burnley FC. He likely had a point in that Rough Trade was devoting resources to the charts and would-be chart bands, and not pressing enough copies of the records by other acts, which is why it is one of the rarer 45s of the era to track down with second-hand copies starting at £30 and going all the way up to £75 for a mint condition offering.

A few postscripts.

There are many fans out there who reckon that the Peel Sessions brought out the best in The Fall, and there’s plenty of evidence to back this up when you listen to the tracks collected on the compilation box set released back in 2005.  Marc Riley, in a radio interview in 1999 had this to say, specifically about the third Peel Session from which Container Drivers and New Puritan are taken:-

“The thing about recording a John Peel session is that you get in the van in the morning, in our case you drive two hundred miles, get out, unload the gear, and record everything in a pretty quick time.  I mean you would do four songs for a session. Now normally, even for band like The Fall, you would have to take two or three days to record four tunes.  In this case you have to get it all done and dusted by ten o’clock at night. So you would get into the studio, wheel everything down into the catacombs in Maida Vale, set up and do the deed. And I remember, I think it was the third session we did, we recorded the first track, made a right old racket, as we did, went in to start listening back to it, make sure we were happy with it, and I turned round to see the producer (John Sparrow), and his pipe had gone out. This is the truth, his pipe had actually gone out and he was asleep.”

As a bonus, here’s the other two tracks from that same session, recorded on 16 September 1980 and first broadcast 24 September 1980:-

mp3: The Fall – Jawbone and The Air-Rifle (Peel Session)
mp3: The Fall – New Face In Hell (Peel Session)

Mark E Smith – vocals; Marc Riley – guitar; Craig Scanlon – guitar; Steve Hanley – bass; Paul Hanley – drums

I made mention last week that Kamera Records had hoped, in late 1982, to issue a 7″ single containing two tracks from the album Room To Live. The label was in its dying days when it arranged for the pressing and issuing of this single in September 1983 only to find itself in a position that it couldn’t afford to do so. My understanding is that just 200 copies ever found their way into some shops, and even then, it was a real peculiarity. It had which had Marquis Cha Cha on its a-side, and Room To Live on its b-side, but the sleeve and the actual info on the vinyl for the b-side states the track is Papal Visit. All of which means I’m not inclined to include it in this series.

Finally, the contractually obligatory album for Rough Trade was also recorded in the summer of 1983. Perverted By Language was released on 5 December 1983 and its credits revealed that The Fall had undergone another line-up change. The five who had made Kicker Conspiracy had been joined, on two of the album tracks, by an additional guitarist and vocalist.

Welcome to The Fall, Brix Smith. Things weren’t quite ever the same after you joined, were they?



From wiki:-

Rick Anthony (born 11 February 1979) is a Scottish musician, singer and songwriter originally from Aberdeenshire and now based in Glasgow. He is the lead singer and guitarist in the alternative rock band The Phantom Band and also performs as a solo act and releases music under the pseudonym Rick Redbeard.

Anthony began performing solo shows sometime in the mid-2000s, assuming the name Rick Redbeard due partly to its pirate connotations. A notable show during this early period was an appearance at the 2007 Connect Music Festival on the Yoursound Bandstand alongside other emerging Scottish acts such as Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad. His music is generally categorised as alternative country or alternative folk music and has been likened in sound to Leonard Cohen, Bill Callahan and Will Oldham among others.

As The Phantom Band gained popularity after the release of their debut album Checkmate Savage in 2009, his solo work remained in the background until June 2012 when Anthony released the track ‘Now We’re Dancing’ as a split 7” single Now We’re Dancing/Vanishing Tanks with Adam Stafford on the Gerry Loves Records micro-label in Edinburgh. This was the first release of any kind under the Rick Redbeard name and was followed by a small joint headline tour of Scotland.

In January 2013 Chemikal Underground records released the debut Rick Redbeard album No Selfish Heart. This release was followed by a headline tour of the UK in March including sold out shows in Aberdeen’s Peacock Visual Arts Centre and Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts.

In July 2014, shortly after the release of The Phantom Band’s third record Strange Friend, Kingfisher Bluez, a Vancouver-based micro-label, released a 7″ Rick Redbeard single Dreams of the Trees featuring the title track and two other previously unreleased songs.

In 2015, Anthony recorded music for the short documentary The Third Dad which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2015.

In April 2016, the release of a compilation album called Refugee was announced. Organised by Glasgow-based musician Robin Adams and inspired by the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, the record will be released in June 2016 with proceeds from the sale going to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station in Malta. It features a previously unreleased Rick Redbeard song called ‘Postcards’ along with new material from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Alasdair Roberts, Linda Thompson and others.

The second Rick Redbeard album Awake Unto was released by Chemikal Underground records on 17 June 2016.

As mentioned a while back when this series featured The Phantom Band, I’m really not sure if they are still an entity, While I don’t think there’s ever been any formal announcement of a break-up, the official website is no longer active.

I am, however, able to point you in the direction of a bandcamp site for Rick Redbeard, one in which you can listen to and pick up some of his earliest and later songs.

This is from the Awake Unto album:-

mp3: Rick Redbeard – The Night Is All Yours

While this is from the split single with Adam Stafford back in 2012 (and later made available on the album No Selfish Heart):-

mp3: Rick Redbeard – Now We’re Dancing

Here’s hoping, with live music finally making a comeback, that Rick will get the opportunity to play a few shows, as I’ve always enjoyed going along to see and listen to him. He has a wonderful voice.



I mentioned yesterday how little reggae I had in the collection. Today, I’m turning my attention to a band of whom I have no physical product, either on vinyl or CD.

It’s not that I dislike Depeche Mode, it’s more that I’ve never really taken to them.  Actually, that’s not true as I did buy their first three hit singles, initially from the period when Vince Clarke was involved and then the first after he took his leave of the band.  All of them were lost back in the disastrous midnight evacuation of an Edinburgh flat in the mid 80s, and I’ve never had an inclination to replace them.

I lost interest early on, thinking they weren’t as innovative or enjoyable as the other synth-acts dominating the pop charts and certainly felt that Yazoo, whom Vince Clarke had formed with Alison Moyet, was a much more interesting proposition.  I certainly had no time at all for the later changes in sound and look, but I was clearly in a minority as the group became international superstars.

The debut single was recorded in December 1980 and released by Mute Records in February 1981 to little acclaim, stalling at #57.  I didn’t buy it at the time, but I became more familiar with it in a later period as a flatmate in my student era had a copy:-

mp3: Depeche Mode – Dreaming Of Me
mp3: Depeche Mode – Ice Machine

Dreaming Of Me, in some places, is reminiscent of New Life which, just five months later, provided Depeche Mode with their breakthrough UK hit. It’s a song which many bands, and indeed labels, would have looked to re-release once the initial success has been achieved, so fair play to all concerned for not doing so. As such, it is a single with a degree of rarity, and second-hand copies in decent condition, and in a picture sleeve which has somehow managed not to badly age, can cost you in the region of £20 if you’re on the lookout.

This is the first I’ve listened to Ice Machine for well over 30 years. It is certainly less immediate or poppy than many of the songs with which early Depeche Mode are associated, which is no bad thing.

As debut singles so, it was a decent effort. It was worthy of being a bigger hit than #57, but it really was quite hard for synth-pop to get daytime radio play back in early 1981. The emergence of the New Romantic scene would change all that…..



A couple of weeks ago, I pulled together some words on Angel by Massive Attack.

It was only when Swiss Adam later left the comment about it being “like a late 20th c Joy Division with Horace Andy on vox”, did it hit me that I should have said something about the original version.

Horace Hinds was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1951. He was the younger cousin of Justin Hinds, one of the biggest recording stars in Jamaica in the 1960s. At the age of 16, Horace embarked on a recording career, but initially without much success. Some three years later, and taking the advice of a veteran producer that a change of name would be of benefit so that he wasn’t in his cousin’s shadow, the newly-christened Horace Andy had a hit single in his homeland, after which he was rarely out of the charts the rest of the decade, even after he moved to the USA in 1977, where he became a pioneer of dancehall reggae.

He’s long been a superstar in the Caribbean, but he really only became well-known in the UK in the 90s as a result of his collaborations with Massive Attack. The Bristol trip-hoppers didn’t just see Horace Andy as a voice for hire, involving him in the creative process. Angel, for instance, saw Horace Andy undertake a massive (pun intended) re-take of a song he’d originally written and released back in 1973:-

mp3: Horace Andy – You Are My Angel

The lack of reggae on this blog over the years is an indication of how little I know about the genre, and indeed how little of it has crept into the collection. I have a couple more Horace Andy tracks on the hard drive, including one which is a cover of a song I only knew from the Associates version, many years after Diana Ross had taken it to #1 on the US Billboard charts:-

mp3: Horace Andy – Love Hangover

I think it’s fair to say that Horace’s version is a tad more faithful than the magnificently manic take on things offered up by Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine.




“And then my mind just walked away… “

A quick-fire response to JC’s recent Gol Gappas post for this series. Here’s another dark tale of murder: Psycho, as recorded by Jack Kittel in 1973.

Kittel didn’t write Psycho – that was country singer and songwriter Leon Payne, a man whose work was covered by the likes of Hank Williams, two Elvises (Presley and Costello – the latter of whom in fact also recorded Psycho), Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Vinyl Villain blog pals The Mekons… and the list goes on. Find it on Wikipedia (I sure did).

It’s Kittel’s version of the track though that is pretty much the go-to incarnation.

I’m not going to wing it any further, other than to say the inspiration for the song is debated out on the internet and is worth a research for interested parties.

Last thing: I can’t decide whether those unfamiliar with Psycho should listen to it prior to reading the words or vice-versa. Either way – and paraphrasing slightly – as the tag line for Black Christmas (1974) advised, ‘If this doesn’t make your skin crawl… it’s on too tight!’.

mp3: Jack Kittel – Psycho

Can Mary fry some fish, Mama?
I’m as hungry as can be
Oh lordy, how I wish, Mama
That you could keep the baby quiet ’cause my head is killing me

I saw my ex again last night, Mama
She was at the dance at Miller’s store
She was with that Jackie White, Mama
I killed them both, and they’re buried under Jenkins’ sycamore

You think I’m psycho, don’t you, Mama?
Mama, pour me a cup
You think I’m psycho, don’t you, Mama?
You’d better let ’em lock me up

Don’t hand me Johnny’s pup, Mama
Cause I might squeeze him too tight
I’m having crazy dreams again, Mama
So let me tell you ’bout last night

I woke up in Johnny’s room, Mama
Standing right there by his bed
With my hands around his throat, Mama
Wishing both of us were dead

You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama?
I just killed Johnny’s pup
You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama?
You’d better let ’em lock me up

You know that little girl next door, Mama
I believe her name was Betty Clark
Oh, don’t tell me that she’s dead, Mama
Cause I just saw her in the park

We were sitting on a bench, Mama
Thinking up a game to play
Seems I was holding a wrench, Mama
And then my mind just walked away

You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama?
I didn’t mean to break your cup
You think I’m psycho don’t you, Mama?
Oh, Mama, why don’t you get up?





There is a set of Post Punk bands that came out of the North of England which are among my most treasured artists. Many of them flirted with the charts, gained radio acceptability, to a point, and managed to release a number of amazing albums. But there are some bands that I love from this area that really never got the radio airplay, or the attention of the buying public, that they deserved.

This is an ICA, with a bonus, of possibly the most underrated of all those Post Punk artists, The Chameleons.

The Chameleons gained the admiration of John Peel from a cassette of three songs the band sent him, which led to a lot of gigs and a deal with CBS/Epic. A single was recorded with Steve Lillywhite but when they saw that the label wanted to repackage the band and change their sound they rebelled, were dropped and were once again, on their own. Virgin picked up The Chameleons through their “Northern” sub-label Statik where they would release their first two albums and a number of singles.

But being on Virgin didn’t really result in the exposure The Chameleons deserved. Releases on Virgin/Statik didn’t qualify for Independent Charts listing which impacted Music Press coverage at the time. Virgin didn’t really push The Chameleons towards radio either.

Touring ended up being the band’s real weapon. The Chameleons gained a loyal fanbase early on at home, while College and Alternative Rock Radio airplay began opening the band up to a growing audience in the US. This radio exposure made it possible to tour in 1983 and later a fuller tour in 1987.

It was on one of these tours that I really fell hard for The Chameleons. They were on the bill as opening act for a feature night of the annual New Music Seminar in NYC in August 83. They opened for two other young and hungry bands Danse Society and Sisters Of Mercy. I had purchased Up The Down Escalator earlier in the year and Don’t Fall got a good deal of College Radio Airplay, but they hadn’t made a huge impression on me prior to that night. When they opened the evening’s show I was caught completely off guard and was down the front before halfway through their opener. It was a short set, but I was hooked. Mark Burgess sang with a passion I wasn’t really prepared for. The twin guitars of Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding were massive and John Lever’s drumming cut through everything. To this day I only remember that Danse Society’s singer did a lot of hip gyrating and The Sisters drum machine kept failing at the opening of their songs to the point of being a joke. But there was a vibe and the connection was made with The Chameleons – I wanted more. I learned they would play Danceteria a few nights later and I made sure I was there, front and center.

I quickly caught up with all that the band released to that point and their debut Script Of The Bridge became one of those albums that was always leaning up against a speaker waiting to be played again and again. It seemed like ages before the band released new music in the summer of 1985.

What Does Anything Mean? Basically saw the band expand their sound. Like so many bands of their time, synthesizers were brought onboard to provide mood and an expansion of their sound. But where some of their contemporaries work was diluted by synths, The Chameleons seemed to understand the power they had to nuance their established sound. Interestingly, the word synthesizer appears nowhere on the album credits, instead it is listed as “strings”… WDAM?B was dense and heavy in comparison to Script Of the Bridge, making it less immediate for me, but it actually contains two of my very favorite Chameleons songs. It did grow on me, of course, and became as vital as their debut. A year later they were on US giant Geffen with, what is for me, The Chameleon’s masterpiece. That album, Strange Times is emotionally charged, musically poetic, attention commanding and at times devastatingly beautiful. I would get to see them live one last time, promoting Strange Times in 1987 at The Ritz, in NYC and it’s a concert that has stuck with me ever since.

Being on Geffen should have been the band’s “chance.” Geffen signed them after their A&R scout from The States saw them play at The Haçienda. Years later it came out that said record company flack was actually in Manchester to secure The Stone Roses to a contract – something that would still take a few years to accomplish. Strange Time did reasonably well in Europe and on College and Modern Rock radio in the US. The relationship with Geffen was a good one and it was made possible by their “fifth member” manager Tony Fletcher. But fate was not to allow the band to grab that brass ring. Fletcher died suddenly in 1987 and the band never emotionally came back from it as a unit. They broke up acrimoniously before year’s end.

Band members would break into separate units, Mark Burgess and John Lever became The Sun And The Moon. Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding became The Reegs. Both units presented music that hinted at what it was that made The Chameleons so great, but there wasn’t the same spark.

2000 saw us enter a millennium and the members of The Chameleons bury the hatchet and record an album of acoustic interpretations of some great Chameleons songs, Strip. They toured the album and it prompted them to get back in the studio for one last album of new music, Why Call It Anything. It showed The Chameleons as they had matured with time but still had much of the DNA of their magical first three albums. A further album of acoustic reworked songs was the last work they would complete as the original unit in 2002, before the members again went their separate ways.

I’ll leave this rather long winded look back at the band by saying that The Chameleons are one of a handful of bands that have stayed quite close to me over time. They represent a genre of Rock and Roll that I hold dear and I hope I am able to convey just why with this ICA.

1. In Shreds – Debut Single Version

I have to start where it all started. Wide-eyed young musicians, working hard and getting the chance with producer of the moment Steve Lillywhite and the backing of a record label. In Shreds is raw, powerful and ridden with angst. It’s the stuff of real teen dreams, real teen reality. In Shreds is uncompromising and Lillywhite must have recognized that this was the magic of the track. If CBS thought it was getting another U2 out of the deal, I don’t think Lillywhite was on board with that anymore that The Chameleons were. JC – Here’s a candidate for Cracking Debut…

2. Up The Down Escalator – from Script Of The Bridge

Script Of The Bridge is such a fully realized album for me. It gives so much, you’d be right in thinking The Chameleons would spend their career chasing after its magic. Thankfully they had much more to offer of equal and possibly more impressive standards. Up The Down Escalator is the track that I heard regularly on college radio station WNYU afternoons after classes at University and when I could force it on my co-workers. The opening guitars are like a herald and John Lever’s drums come racing up to get the proceedings started. It spoke to me with it’s lyrics about not being understood or being under the thumb of other’s expectations – that feeling you are being told how to be, but being taken for granted all the same. Up The Down Escalator was my gateway into the lyrical brilliance of Mark Burgess.

3. Return Of The Roughnecks – from What Does Anything Mean? Basically

If WDAM?B is considered the difficult Sophomore Album, I think The Chameleons gave us exactly what they wanted to. The themes of being disenfranchised, misunderstood, searching for love are all still present and nothing sounds like a retread. Return Of The Roughnecks actually amps up these themes with a more palpable aggression and distain. The sound is big and bold, Fielding and Smithies drive the song from the front with a buzz of guitars that exemplify how well they can weave in and out of each other.

4. Don’t Fall – from Script Of The Bridge

Middle Aged Man included Don’t Fall in his powerful ICA of Opening Tracks back at the end of January and it fit like a glove into his ICA narrative. Don’t Fall, as an opening track, is nothing less than genius. It set the tone – confident and outspoken, lyrically and musically. Rock and Roll is full of axemen playing riffs, but The Chameleons took that riff-ology and slowed it down, gave it gravity and emotion. Lever and Burgess lay down a heavy rhythm bed for the guitars to announce themselves and carry their message. Burgess manages to be heard above the music crying out for the listeners attention. Song one and you are already trying to catch your breath.

5. Soul In Isolation – from Strange Times

I could spend pages talking about how important an album Strange Times is to me. I will boil it down to this…In 1986/87 the rock and roll I loved, Post Punk, was on the wane. Most of the artists I had grown to love and respect over the prior 8 or 9 years were either gone or had sold themselves to the devil to break through in America. Strange Times stands as one of the most uncompromising albums of that era.

Soul In Isolation is poetry, it is prose, it is a universal declaration of life through adversity, both outward and inward. It is a seven and a half minute catharsis of frustrations, sorrow, anger and a desperation to be heard, to be seen, to be recognized. There is a wonderful homage to psychedelia, the reference material certainly being The Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows, but they don’t just impose that sound on their own, they take it to another place. When I saw them in 1987, the audience, which had been loud and raucous, stood in awe throughout the song. Favorite Chameleons song…quite possibly.

6. Swamp Thing – from Strange Times

To open side two of Strange Times, The Chameleons chose the album’s other jaw dropping moment. The liquid opening guitar line is unmistakeable and the bass drive of the song is a thing of wonder. Synths are used to enhance the atmosphere rather than take over the sound of this guitar, bass and drums outfit. Swamp Thing is a majestic tale of emotional Jekyll and Hyde. But underlying all that majesty is a darkness, a finality. The mid song coda propels the song into one of the great song endings for me.…Mark Burgess leaves the listener to decide if his protagonist survives the night, the storm of his emotions, into daylight, or meet’s his end at the hands of the monster of his own making.

7. Intrigue In Tangiers – from What Does Anything Mean? Basically

When I create an ICA, I can agonize over the song placement, the programing. But sometimes the songs just fall into place. That’s the case with Intrigue In Tangiers. Following Swamp Thing the next track needed to be able to stand on its own but also keep the music at a similar elevation. Intrigue In Tangiers does all of that. The song is a rollercoaster of emotions and sound. It builds to a great crescendo and then puts the brakes on and takes a well earned breath as it end.

8. Second Skin – from Script Of The Bridge

It would have been easy to begin this ICA with Second Skin. It has opening track written all over it. Yet The Chameleons programmed the track midway through side one. Their debut was that rich with music that they could. Second Skin is the track that audiences couldn’t help but sing along to in unison. It’s dreamy, questioning, vita with themes of growing up and all the fears and joys that brings.

9. One Flesh – from What Does Anything Mean? Basically

One Flesh has breakthrough single written all over it. Polydor France even considered releasing it for Europe (promos go for stupid money). The back and forth from uplifting to dark in the sound makes for a fast paced journey through the track. Burgess’ lyric deal with the false face we put on to get from day to night and the doubts that creep in after dark but must leave in the morning. The final verse, repeated, is a very political observation…ok, maybe it’s not a great choice for a single…just a great song.

10. Lufthansa – from Why Call It Anything

2001 found a reformed Chameleons back in the studio to record a new album with Producer John A. Rivers, Why Call It Anything. The album proves that the band still had the magic when working together but had all grown over the 25 years since they recorded Strange Times. Lufthansa is my favorite example of the melding of that magic with maturity.

11. Mad Jack – from Strange Times

Strange Times’ opener, Mad Jack has always seemed like a love letter to late 60’s Psychedelia. This is The Chameleons almost jamming, almost having fun. The chaos builds and builds and then the realities of The Chameleon’s sound crashed down not the song at the end. Brilliant!

12. Thursday’s Child – from Script Of The Bridge

In college, I took a good deal of English Literature electives (no, looking back, I’m not sure why either) and the theme of Thursday’s Child is one of the child who is destined to take a long journey to development, both spiritually and physically ending in a successful life without limitations. Mark Burgess obviously had issue with this construct and and his Thursday’s Child had to weather obstacles and set backs just to make it to a place of peace. The track opens with spiritual, crystalline guitars but quickly takes on a Motorik sound to reflect the drudgery of living a life. Thursday’s Child is brittle and flows from dense to thin throughout thanks to the interplay of the guitars and bass.

13. In Answer – from Strange Thing

As In Answer begins, it sound like the perfect song to end this ICA with, because it is muted, almost serene, but then…the band comes in full bore and on a mission. Fielding and Smithies switch from lockstep interplay to dueling guitars and Burgess plays his bass to finger bleeding excess. Lever ties everything together like a metronome. In Answer builds and builds into something too big to contain and Burgess frees himself vocally, like a man who has finally snapped. In Answer is all the joys of being a Chameleons fan distilled into 4:55. It is also one song I have always yearned to hear live.

For the following I’m taking a leaf out of The Chameleon’s own playbook. This ICA comes with a…


1. Perfumed Garden – from The Peel Sessions

Originally found on What Does Anything Mean? Basically, Perfumed Garden has grown over the years to be one of the essential Chameleons songs for me. This is due to this Peel Sessions version from 1984. This version has a bit more emotional impact for me. I love feeling or reminiscence which is matched by a sort of timeless musical bed which follows and enhances Burgess’ storytelling.

2. Home Is Where The Heart Is – from This Never Ending Now

After the surprise “success” of their collection of acoustic versions in 2000, Strip – and the happy experience of creating Why Call It Anything, The Chameleons got back in the studio for one more go at reinterpreting some more of their canon in a more acoustic vein.

Home Is Where The Heart Is was a track from Script Of The Bridge which was both a critics and fan favorite. Acoustically, the song amps up the mysterious and unknown. They might not be “plugged in” but Fielding and Smithies still perform with razor sharp precision, making acoustic guitars sound dense.

3. Is It Any Wonder? – from Tony Fletcher Walked On Water, La La La, La La La

This is part of the collection of songs that The Chameleons had worked up beyond the demo stage for the follow up to Strange Times before the sudden death of their “fifth member,” manager Tony Fletcher. The band never recovered from the grief and were basically adrift as a unit. Without Fletcher to hold them together, acrimony set in and The Chameleons called it a day just as Geffen was ready to put energy into getting The Chameleons the recognition they deserved. Is It Any Wonder? shows a confident band ready for what was next. There’s a constancy as well as a maturing of their sound, but not in a way that breaks from their past. These days, the songs from this EP can be found on the compilation Return Of The Roughnecks which was released on Dead Dead Good Records in 1997.

4. Tears – from This Never Ending Now

Yes, not as “acoustic” in parts as say an “unplugged” performance, but there is a gentle brittle nuance to this version from 2002. If any Chameleons song could be considered pastoral, it’s this version of Tears. Reg Smithies guitar takes on an almost Flamenco style at the end.

5. Nostalgia – from The Peel Sessions

Nostalgia can be found on the reissued version of In Shreds as well as the expanded CD of What Does It Mean? Basically. It doesn’t necessarily hail from as far back as the debut single as it was recorded for a mid 1983 Peel Session. This Peel session version was the first time I ever heard Nostalgia and it has always held up as my preferred version.

6. Fan And The Bellows – from The Peel Sessions

Now here we have a nugget from the earliest recordings of The Chameleons. Fan And The Bellows is a great song about how love can trip you up. There’s a youthful exuberance on the song. It’s uncluttered Post Punk with minor chord hooks and angst ridden lyrics.

7. Paradiso – Strange Times Free Bonus Album

Paradiso shows just how rich and deep the song selection for Strange Times was and at the same time hints at what could have come next for the band. It was played regularly on their US Tour in 1987 and is a song that would get the audience moving in as one to its infectious beat. When I saw Mark Burgess and his current line up for a ChameleonVox performance in a tiny bar in Tampa in November 2019 – the last show I saw pre Pandemic – Paradiso was still an audience grabber and you could tell Burgess and his band was having a ball playing it.



Inspired, in part, by the recent run of Goth ICAs; but to be fair, it was always on the list of pieces of vinyl that should be taken out of the cupboard, dusted down and given the 320kpbs treatment via Audacity for distribution on a Monday morning.

1983 was the year that I really ‘got’ Cocteau Twins.  As mentioned a few weeks ago, I caught them opening for The Fall in Glasgow in April 1982 and thought them OK, thinking in the main that the lead singer had been a bit overwhelmed by the occasion.  But my mate who was at the gig with me that night went all in on the band, and he pushed hard for me to give them a try, and so I did.

I was prepared to admit that the debut album Garlands had its moments, but it didn’t fully click.  Looking back, I wonder if the fact that I didn’t have, at the time, anything beyond the most basic of stereos meant I didn’t really appreciate it – my mate was listening to the band through his older brother’s equipment and, yes, it did seem to sound better, fuller and more powerful when I was in his house rather than mine.

I moved into shared student accommodation in the summer of 1983.  One of my flatmates had an even better stereo set up than my mate’s brother, and he also had a ridiculously extensive record collection, courtesy of always having had a decent amount of disposable income vis his well-off parents.  He was also a fan of Cocteau Twins and he picked up a copy of Head Over Heels, the new album, on its release in October 1983.  He played it as the three of us who shared the flat, together with one other bloke who was rarely away from our place, listened on in awe.  The sounds coming from the speakers were astonishing, almost unwordly at times.  It felt like a quantum leap from what had come before, and it certainly did not sound like the sort of music you associated with bands living and working in Scotland.

I bought my own copy of Head Over Heels a few days later and played it on my cheap stereo.  It sounded good, but not as majestic as it did on the equipment sitting in the bedroom through the wall.  It was then that I vowed to save to get myself a bigger, better and more powerful set-up, which I achieved some nine months later, thanks to the generosity of my parents on the occasion of my 21st birthday… and the timing couldn’t have been better as I was soon to take leave of that first shared flat and move to a bigger premises with six of us sharing a multi-occupancy in a very spacious tenement flat, with the bonus of a shared living room in which my new system, along with a telly and a VHS recorder, took pride of place.

All of which has been a bit diversionary in respect of today’s music.  It does come from Cocteau Twins and it’s in the shape of the EP which was released just a few weeks after Head Over Heels.  It came as the band, now just a duo of Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie, were getting to grips with things and were even prepared to put themselves on the telly as part of the promotional activities.  So it was that they appeared on the second series of The Tube, performing live and also as This Mortal Coil, in a promo video for their cover of Song To The Siren.  The VHS tape on which I had captured these performances was very much in danger of wearing out in my new abode….and it was incredibly satisfying that, to a man and woman, even though we had different and varting tastes across alll genres of music, we were in agreement that Cocteau Twins were something out of the ordinary, the likes of which we were lucky to be able to appreciate.

Our collective night out, on a Sunday night in December 1984, was a trip to the Pavilion Theatre, not to see the annual pantomime, but to be part of the audience for what, at that point, was surely the band’s biggest headlining gig in their career.  The set opened with From The Flagstones.  It also closed with the same song….the band didn’t expect to be afforded an encore and had nothing left on the drum machine to offer that hadn’t been used before, so the solution was to rewind and hit the start button one more time.

mp3: Cocteau Twins – Sugar Hiccup
mp3: Cocteau Twins – From The Flagstones
mp3: Cocteau Twins – Hitherto
mp3: Cocteau Twins – Because of Whirl-Jack

These are taken from the 12″ vinyl, which means the version of Sugar Hiccup is slightly longer and differently mixed from that which was found on the album.

It’s worth mentioning that not everyone was enamoured by Cocteau Twins. Ian Pye, reviewing this EP for Melody Maker back in December 1983, for one:-

“When the Cocteau Twins perfected their impersonation of Joy Division nobody liked them much; now they’ve learnt another act—The Banshees’ gothic wall of sound—it seems suddenly they’re very desirable.

Yet this four-track EP only serves to underline that the Twins still prefer artifice to substance. Everything about their music appears to have been chosen because of its superficial immediacy: the grandiose guitar lines, the fake majesty of the frequently incomprehensible lyrics, even the fatuous song title: ‘Sugar Hiccup’ and ‘Because of Whirl-Jack’! This is music for people who want to play at being serious young persons but lack the resolve to see it through to the bitter/positive end”

That last sentence in particular is bullshit of the worst type.



Taking up the story from where it ended last week with the release of Look, Now in the early summer of 1982.

The Fall were about to head over to Australia and New Zealand in July/August 1982 for a month-long tour.  MES pulled everyone back into Cargo Studios in Rochdale for what the rest of the band thought would be a new single, intended to keep up a bit of profile in the UK while they were gone. It turned out that the frontman actually wanted a full album out of the sessions, but one which would be in a totally different way from Hex Enduction Hour. The songs were all new, very few had been performed live beforehand (which was unusual), and furthermore MES kept everyone on their toes by using the occasional guest musician and arranging for recording sessions without telling key members of his band and keeping them off the actual record. Paul Hanley has since described the time in Cargo as “a fucking nightmare. You’d turn up and find Smith had only invited half the band, or brought in other musicians without telling anyone!”.

Room To Live was released on Kamera Records in September 1982 to less than enthusiastic reviews, with its seven songs seen as way inferior to the material from earlier in the year.  The tour down under had, unsurprisingly, been a difficult one for all concerned, with many fall-outs, particularly between Marc Riley and MES, with the former still smarting from being heavily excluded from the Room To Live recording sessions (it would later transpire that he played on just two of its tracks).

There were also rumours that Kamera was in a bit of bother, which may be why there was a decision, taken by the label, to release a single to accompany the album, consisting of two of its tracks – Marquis Cha Cha, backed with Papal Visit.  This wasn’t to MES’s liking and the single was withdrawn (there’s a postscript to this, which I’ll come to in a future edition of this series).

So, 1982 ended with a whimper, with a tour of some student venues in England….and as you’ll recall from the previous two editions of the series, not even much enthusiasm for The Fall among Peel listeners with just one track in the Festive 50.

MES’s solution?  To sack Mark Riley from the band, which he did in the first week of 1983 (and not, according to legend, on Riley’s wedding day which was 24 December 1982).  Oh, and to take his leave of Kamera.  Once again, having no label to call home, fate kindly intervened in the shape of Geoff Travis at Rough Trade who, despite having been ridiculed by MES some 18 months previously, re-signed The Fall.  The first new 45 of the post-Riley era appeared in June 1983, with its title, on the surface, being a dig at the departed musician:-

mp3: The Fall – The Man Whose Head Expanded

We’re back with the Casio intro again, but this time it goes into a wonderful bass-line intro which sets the tempo, initially for one of the most upbeat and easily danceable (at this point of time) of songs by The Fall….except it had a bonkers, almost ad-libbed lyric, which ensured nobody on radio (except the usual suspect) would play it.  Oh, and just as you might be getting into a groove on that dance floor, it slows down dramatically for a minute or so, at which point MES goes all shouty, before suddenly it switched back to the fast tempo.

It’s a real tour de force, driven along by the duo drumming of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns, with Steve Hanley on bass and Craig Scanlon on guitars and keyboards.  The song was credited to Smith/S. Hanley/Scanlon/Seaberg.  It seems that the latter was Sol Seaberg, a part-time van driver for The Fall; whether he actually came up with something for the song or not is unknown – it may well have been MES’s way of saying to Riley that anyone can write songs.

The b-side is just two-and-a-half minutes long, and in some ways is a throwback to the earlier rough’n’ready material, with pounding drums at the centre of a cacophony of noise and shouty vocals:-

mp3: The Fall – The Ludd Gang

But hidden away, at the exact halfway mark of the song, is one of the funniest lyrics anyone has ever penned:-

I hate the guts of Shakin’ Stevens
For what he has done
The massacre of “Blue Christmas”
On him I’d like to land one on

The Man Whose Head Expanded reached #3 in the UK indie charts. It had been released on 27 June 1983.  Three weeks later, Mark E Smith married his American-born girlfriend whom he had met just a couple of months previously, in Chicago, while The Fall were on tour in the States.  I think you all know what comes next….


*With thanks to JTFL-Ahh for prompting the change to the name of this series…


Just because something appears on this blog, especially in this very long-running series, doesn’t necessarily mean it has the TVV stamp of approval.

Back in 1983, the Belgian-based Les Disques du Crépuscule released 10.30 On A Summer’s Night, a spoken word album by Richard Jobson (yup, that Richard Jobson who had been lead singer of The Skids), consisting of his adaptation of texts from the book of the same name by French author Marguerite Duras. The readings were accompanied by Belgian pianist Cecile Bruynoghe.

The following year, the same label issued An Afternoon In Company, which consisted  of original poems written by Jobson, with musical backing by the likes of Vini Reilly, Blaine L. Reininger, and Virginia Astley.

Some folk liked it, as evidenced by this review in Melody Maker:-

“An Afternoon… is Jobson’s most assured attempt yet at drawing the desired effect from the uneasy relationship between his stupendously threatening Scots brogue and the finer nuances of the good Queen’s English. While his poetry is perhaps too private and fanciful to communicate on paper, when he is roaring and hissing over calm piano pieces from Satie beautifully played by Cecile Bruynoghe, Jobson assumes a certain atmosphere of strength and striving which at its peak can be positively uplifting. Godlike” (Melody Maker, 10/1984)

Maybe the reviewer was taking the piss. It’s not how I would have written it up.

mp3: Richard Jobson – Autumn

Its appearance round these parts today is courtesy of its inclusion on a CD compilation I have covering the releases on Les Disques du Crépuscule between 1980 and 1985, and of course the fact that Richard Jobson is Scottish and it has come round to him on the alphabetical run through.



So….this one opens with a ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba refrain that Julian Cope would have been proud of.  It then has the little burst of jingly-jangly guitar that will have you bursting with joy before the blackest of tales unfolds.

Albert Parker played with trains
The centre of his life
His junctions and his signal box
Took precedence over his wife

He strokes the tiny rails
And took care of the little station
Rarely saw his family
And knew nothing of the state of the nation

In his tiny railway room
He spent most of the day
A pity his wife with the promise of bed
Could not drag him away

Oh, No, Albert Parker
Your future is getting very much darker

The Albert Parker life rattled on
Night and day and night
Obsessed and staring in his dream
He never saw the sunlight

This went on until one day
His wife could stand no more
She grabbed the old garden hammer
And broke in through the door

Oh, No, Albert Parker
Your future is getting very much darker

She smashed his little junctions
His gradients and his trains
She smashed every single piece
Into bent and twisted remains

Now Betty stood cracked and shaking
And driven completely insane
Albert was still slowly sobbing
As a hammer demolished his brain

Oh, No, Albert Parker
Your future is getting very much darker

Goodbye, Albert Parker, Goodbye.
So long, farewell, bon voyage.

mp3: Gol Gappas – Albert Parker

I’ve got this one, which was released in 1986, courtesy of it being track 4 on disc 4 of the Scared To Be Happy retrospective box set. From the accompanying notes:-

“Another mysterious el Records signing by Mike Alway, Gol Gappas were named after a popular Indian snack.  They issued just two singles. The ‘Dinner With Nougat’ 12″ EP boasted the whimsical, Robin Hithcock-ish psychedelia of ‘Albert Parker’ and the vaguely Mary Chain-like fuzziness of ‘Saint Lucy’. Second single ‘West 14@ was more straightforward yet poignant pop. Its B-side, ‘Roman’, was remixed for a French-only single (backed again by ‘Albert Parker’) on Vogue in 1987.  Amazingly, ‘Dinner..’ was issued as a CD EP in Japan. The band were formed by singer Nick East and guitarist Colin Roxborough, both previously with Hounslow post-punk outfit Scissor Fits (for whom Alway was an occasional writer), who released two singles back in 1978/79.”

As it turns out, the Saint Lucy track was included in the Cherry Red C87 box set:-

mp3 : Gol Gappas – Saint Lucy

The C87 booklet adds the snippet that Saint Lucy is a tribute to a medieval, Sicilian virgin who allegedly married God.

So there you have it.



Strangeways said yesterday afternoon, in respect of the Jims, Jimmys and James’ICA:-

“A very fine idea for an ICA – and a lovely post. I wonder which female name could make up a companion piece?”


CATH – The Bluebells

This ICA was hurriedly put together after seeing the comment from my good friend Strangeways, which I took as a challenge, although he’s such a nice bloke that he certainly didn’t throw it down as one.  Warning, it may well lead you up the garden path (woah-woah).

KATHLEEN – Tindersticks

As featured not too long ago on the blog. Tindersticks have made a few live versions available over the years, this is taken from the CD single Bathtime and was recorded at the London Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) in November 1996.

KATE – Johnny Cash

Written by Marty Robbins, this version was released in March 1972 as the third single from Johnny Cash‘s album A Thing Called Love. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. (a thing I never knew existed until putting this ICA together). It was originally recorded by Rex Allen in 1961 with  the title “You Put Me Here (Sure as Your Name’s Kate)” issued as a single on San Antonio-based Hacienda Records. Which sort of provides a link to the next track….

I LIVE AT CATHY’S NOW – Graham Fellows

From 1985 and the album Love At The Hacienda. He used to be Jilted John, and later in life he became John Suttleworth.

KATY – The Boy Who Trapped The Sun

I’ve got this on the hard drive courtesy of Jacques The Kipper shoving a home-made compilation CD my way back in 2011. The Boy Who Trapped The Sun was the stage name of Colin MacLeod, who is from the rather remote Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. He was discovered, in just his early 20s, singing and playing in a bar in Aberdeen and offered a recording contract by Polydor/Geffen Records. He made one album, Fireplace (2010), but when the hoped for sales didn’t materialise, he was dropped soon after. It appears that Colin has sporadically released singles and albums under his own name over the past few years, with the latest Hold Fast, being released in June 2021. He clearly still has a lot of famous admirers, as none other than Sheryl Crow sings alongside him on two of its songs.


KATE MOSS – Arab Strap

“Don’t try and tell me Kate Moss ain’t pretty. Don’t try and make me believe. Don’t try to force me into letting you boss me. When I’m pretending to leave. I knew that you could ruin my good mood. That’s exactly what you’ve done. We sat there silent and you got violent. Going out with you used to be fun. You’re getting colder. No doubt you’ve told her I’ve just become a pest. Does she know maybe, you’re having a baby? I think it’s about time you did that test. You know I’ll miss you, when I can’t kiss you. You know I don’t want us to split. Now I must say, it’s going that way. You’re always bored and full of shit.”

Originally on the debut album, The Week Never Starts Here (released all of 25 years ago), this is taken from the band’s first ever live show at King Tut’s in October 1996.


The opening track from Cokefloat, the debut album by PAWS, released on Fat Cat Records in 2013. A remarkably upbeat tune given that it’s about the death of singer and frontman Phillip Taylor’s mother, but then again it really is a celebration of her life and the way she wanted him to pursue his dream of making it in the music industry.


From wiki:-

“Complainte pour Ste. Catherine” is a song written by Canadians Philippe Tatartcheff and Anna McGarrigle. It was originally used as a B-side to another single,”Hommage à Henri Richard”, which was written by McGarrigle and Richard Baker, and released in April 1974. It was intended to coincide with the Montreal Canadiens entry into the 1974 NHL playoffs, but failed to succeed commercially after the Canadiens lost to the New York Rangers.

Kate & Anna McGarrigle then reused it for their eponymous debut album in December 1975.  Kirsty MacColl put it on as the extra b-side on the 12″ version of her single from 1990, Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me, Sunny Jim (which could, of course, have fitted in yesterday).

A few years later, in 2001, I would have the pleasure of seeing Kate & Anna McGarrigle on stage in Glasgow, when they brought their vocal talents to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, initially on the album No More Shall We Part, and then during the world tour which followed.

Which leads to another natural link…..

KATHY’S KISSES – The Birthday Party

Back in the days before Nick Cave got all sophisticated and became a darling of the chattering classes. From 1981. It’s everything you’d expect from something that was originally released as the bonus track of a 12″ single and until the CD re-release of the album Prayers on Fire in 1990 had been all but forgotten. Unlikely to be aired at a gig with a £100 ticket price in the near or indeed distant future.


Unrest was an indie band from Washington DC. Some of their later material was issued by 4AD Records, including the 1993 album Perfect Teeth from which this tribute to the music writer turned performer is taken. Worth mentioning that the album cover was a photograph of Cath Carroll, as taken by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, so she was clearly happy with it all.

ICA 293.  Bashed out in an hour.  The things that can be achieved when there’s no longer a need to work for a living.

ICA 294 will return to its roots, being devoted to one singer or band.  And it’s going to be a guest posting.



A GUEST POSTING by jimdoes

Hey JC

Hope all is well with you – this one has been a long time coming, but I finally put a bit of time aside to finish it.

Here’s another sort of random ICA – Jim, I’m sure you will approve! And I hope I haven’t missed a Jim song that is one of your favourites – and I hope there’s a couple you’ve not heard before. We’re lucky – there’s loads of songs with Jims, Jimmys and James’s in their titles – i’m not sure if it would be possible to do an ICA with any other names. Perhaps someone else could try?

I’ve kept it to five tracks per side but added in a little interlude that isn’t really a song but is great nonetheless (and a bonus track because why not?) – so without further ado:





Apparently a tribute to Jimi Hendrix – but who cares about that? Opening track on my favourite Beastie Boys album – and if I was ever to get round to doing an opening track ICA, this would be in contention. And it doesn’t even say Jimmy, James or anything like that – yet as a bonus the title features both names!


Track one on their first album – I’m not cool enough to say it was the first White Stripes song I ever heard – like a lot of people, that would be Hotel Yorba. But when I discovered them I bought everything I could and was blown away by this track – it remains one of my favourite White Stripes songs. I always used to put it first on compilations I’d do, as it’s such a good opener – you can’t help whooping along. But saying that, it’s relegated to track two on this ICA!!


I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve had Jimmy Jimmy shouted at me in bars/clubs etc – one of those songs I guess.

JIMMY JAZZ – THE CLASH (From LP London Calling)

There can’t be many readers of TVV that don’t know this song. If I was to have a favourite Jim song it would probably be this (or it is when I write this, tomorrow might be a different Jim song). I never heard this till I went to college aged 19 (I was late to The Clash) – my two best friends were huge Clash fans and they always called me Jimmy Jazz – which they still do to this day. Anyway, it has a certain wasted quality to it that I love.


So many Jimmy/James songs to choose from. This one is from my in between Smiths/Wedding Present stage – and was probably a taster to dancing a bit more in indie discos. Breathless. Sums up being young and giddy perfectly.


BIG JIM – IVOR CUTLER (From LP Jammy Smears)

HELP! I’m not sure that Ivor Cutler has ever been included on an ICA but here’s a tale of a drowning man. It’s weird and perfect in his choice of words – no matter how many times I’ve heard it, I can’t suppress a smile. John Peel was a big Ivor Cutler fan, recording 22 sessions for his show – only The Fall recorded more, apparently.



I’d never have listened to this song if I’d not seen the title, but I love it – it makes you want to hug a Jimmy right? Or just dance with one at least! Released in 1964 this song is a bit of a lost gem – it reached no 49 on the US charts and was the only song The Girlfriends ever released.


Who could resist Kate Bush singing and screaming their name? This isn’t about any James in particular but “James was the right name” apparently. The record company wanted this to be her debut single but Kate Bush wisely insisted on it being Wuthering Heights – this would’ve sounded equally striking and out of time for 1977 – but her career might’ve been different if she hadn’t got her own way. The live version from The Tour of Life is equally great – and the video is worth checking out on YouTube – what a performance – prowling around with rifles and handguns!

JAMES – BANGLES (From LP All Over The Place)

Aren’t the Bangles great? Poppy, dancey, Jamesy. Obviously I’m biased, but this is a great pop record – although if it was called Dave I’d still love it (but not quite as much).


It’s strange how two songs with the same title can have such different atmosphere’s – from an uplifting James to a more downbeat James. I’ve only included this because it was the first song I was aware of with my name in its title. Not the best Lloyd Cole song, and certainly not the best song with James in its title. I never liked it as a youngster, and it’s a song I never listen to now, only digging it out to listen to for this ICA and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. You can’t help thinking any song with your name in the title is sort of about you, and it annoyed me (as a teenager) that the James of this song has so many negative traits. I’m glad that I’ve since discovered many other great songs with my name in the title! Anyway, compared to much of the upbeat nature of Easy Pieces, this song seems a bit miserable and maudlin – especially as it follows Lost Weekend on the tracklisting.


Guitar freak out where they sound like they are playing with drumsticks? CHECK. Kim Gordon screaming unintelligible lyrics? CHECK. Sonic Youth perfection.

Bonus track:


And we even get the bonus of a band called James who have made one or two great records(!) It might be cheating to include them – hence it’s a hidden bonus track!



It was while scrolling through the hard drive the other week, sorting out the posting on Restricted Code for the Saturday series, that I gave another long-overdue listen to the one, rather excellent, song I have by Reserve, courtesy of it being part of the C88 boxset compiled by Cherry Red Records a few years ago:-

mp3: Reserve – The Sun Slid Behind The Tower

As the notes in the accompanying booklet explain:-

The Tower in question is within All Saints Church, Notting Hill, just around the corner from the Rough Trade shop where singer/songwriter Torquil Macleod placed ads to form Reserve. He worked initially helping Jonny Johnson (The Siddeleys) on her songs before Reserve were born in autumn 1986.

Band members came (from Bob) and went (to James Dean Driving Experience) before the luminous ‘The Sun Slid Down Behind The Tower’ appeared on a Sha La La flexi in 1987 (shared with The Siddleys), given away with Trout Fishing in Leytonstone fanzine. It then appeared again on Reserve’s only stand-alone release, 1988’s Two Hearts Beat In A Hole EP.

Given that I’m quite fond of the song within the boxset, I had a look online to see if there was any availability for the sole EP, which was released on the short-lived Sombrero Records, suspecting there wasn’t. It turned out I was almost right, in that there’s a couple of copies via Discogs, going for £50 (from Spain) and £75 (from Japan). Much better value is to be had from the CD compilation, Beneath The London Sky, compiled and issued by Berlin-based Firestation Records back in 2013, but alas, nobody is selling a copy just now. It contains 23 tracks, so I’m assuming that’s everything the label could get its hands on, including demos and live material.

The most expensive artefact is, however, the flexi issued with the fanzine back in 1987. One of eight such efforts to come out on Sha La La records, with the catalogue number of Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba 006, and the asking price, including a copy of the fanzine, is £145! One for collectors only, methinks.

Some of you will recall that last October, there was a Siddeleys ICA, courtesy of Strangeways. He included the track which can be found on the flexi disc, offering this as his observation:-

It seems that back in the day The Siddeleys were dogged/blessed by comparisons with Talulah Gosh. Whilst, round these parts, this is pretty much the ultimate in accolades, it’s not really that accurate. This track could be the culprit. It does actually sound like Talulah. It’s a blast. But it’s not representative of the wider Siddeleys sound.

mp3: The Siddeleys – Wherever You Go

If anyone out there wants to offer up some thoughts on any of the other Sha La La flexidiscs, then there will certainly be space made for a guest posting(s).



It was SWC who introduced me to Kendrick Lamar, in fact it was via a recommendation in an e-mail a few years ago, in which he said the 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly was a bona-fide classic. I was intrigued enough to go seek out a few tunes on-line, and from that impressed enough to pick up a copy of it, along with its predecessor, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City from 2012.

I had no idea that the young man was a true multi-million selling superstar of the hip-hop/rap genre with a huge following back in the USA and whose name was being increasingly dropped by those who saw themselves as influencers across the media here in the UK.  I was just enjoying his music in the same way that I can with many contemporary black musicians, without me having any deep understanding of what he was singing about.

Come 2017, and I read that he was about to release new material.  It was something I really looked forward to as it would my first opportunity to pick up on something at the time of its release instead of me looking back.  The first of his new songs which was unleashed on a listening public was this:-

mp3: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Tremendous tune, but……………………..

I was, initially, very shocked.  It sounded like an old-fashioned misogynist rant – the sort of stuff that I thought had been driven out of the rap scene, for the most part, in the 21st Century.  And from a rapper who had a reputation for dealing with all sorts of injustices and prejudices?  Something was totally wrong.

And then, having given myself a shake, aided by grabbing a few views of the promo video, I breathed that almighty sigh of relief.

There’s a review out there by Bianca Giulione which, I think, nails it:-

“….he’s audacious yet self-aware, and just the right level of smug. With just two verses of lyrical invocation at his disposal, Kendrick makes the few hundred words feel like a manifesto.”

DAMN….I wish I could sum up music like that.



As mentioned last week, none of the tracks on Hex Enduction Hour made it onto Peel’s Festive rundown at the end of 1982, although this later single did scrape in at #58 (one place ahead of Happy Talk by Captain Sensible).

The second 45 to come out on Kamera Records was released some five weeks after Hex.  I mentioned in a previous edition of this series that Mark E Smith had a tendency to get any finished songs down on tape in a recording studio almost as soon as he’d written the final word and hated hoarding or stockpiling material for the future.  Look, Know was no different, although its eventual release would be some seven months after its recording…..and while it would find its way into the Peel Festive 50 of 1982, it had in fact had its very first airing back on 15 September 1981 as part of a Peel Session:-

mp3: The Fall – Look, Now (Peel Session Version)

This was broadcast while the band were in Iceland, initially playing a few gigs and then recording some tracks intended for what would become Hex Enduction Hour. It was while in Iceland that a rather different version of the song emerged from a studio session, seemingly in one take which MES decided wouldn’t be improved on.  From the same Casio-keyboard intro that would soon make temporary superstars of the German group Trio, into giving space for other members of the band to take the mic up front, it was unlike any other Fall song in their canon at this point in time:-

mp3: The Fall – Look, Now

Steve Hanley has since said that there was a sense of astonishment when MES decided to go with the first take and that nobody knew at that point whether it would appear on the album.  There was also a belief that they might return to it again, perhaps looking to record it in a way similar in style to the Peel Session, for future use as a b-side.  There was certainly never any thought that it would be suggested as an actual single, especially on the back of Hex Enduction Hour, as its sound was very much at odds with the tracks which made the cut for that album.

Listening now, and I say this as someone who quite likes the single, but this was just another curveball thrown by MES, partly to ensure the label was sticking to its agreement to issue material in the shape and form he wanted, but also to further confound the writers on the music weekly papers, who were surely bemused when they played their promotional copy on the office stereo system.  It could almost be regarded as a novelty single, of sorts.

As for the b-side:-

mp3: The Fall – I’m Into C.B.!

It’s one of the funniest and most entertaining of the early(ish) songs by The Fall.   The writing credits are given solely to MES and one can just imagine him manically and frantically directing things in the studio – it was recorded at the Hitchin Cinema in December 1981 at the same time as much of Hex.

The subject matter may, on the face of it, seem a strange one for MES to take any great interest, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that, until late 1981, CB Radio was always an illegal form of broadcasting in the UK. There was no licensed frequency and its users were often referred to in the media as ‘bandits’ with the suggestion that they were lawless.  It surely would have appealed to MES’s sense of humour, not to mention justice, that a harmless individual, sitting at home with a form of self-entertainment, would be facing the full brunt of the law bearing down on them when there were real criminals out there getting away with all sorts of high jinks.

Oh, and with the fear of stating the bleedin’ obvious, the 4+ and 6+ on the front of the sleeve refer to the running times of the two songs.

Look, Now was another 45 which hit the top end of the Indie Charts, reaching #4.   The Fall, in 1982, remained a band not recognised by anyone who didn’t read music weeklies or listen to John Peel.




I’ve decided that Paul Haig should be the next subject for the Sunday singles series. I realise that many of you won’t be that bothered over the next few weeks and months given that he’s far from a household name and indeed could almost be the perfect definition of a cult artist; but I’m a huge fan and feel that his body of solo work, now stretching back the best part of 40 years in which he has continually tinkered and altered his sound, is very worthy of being put under the spotlight.

Paul first came to prominence as the lead vocalist of Josef K, one of the four bands to release material on Postcard Records. They split up in August 1981 and it is fair to say that, like many others, their legacy and impact was only fully realised many years after when the next generation of musicians began to name check them as key influences. His solo career began almost immediately, but not in any straightforward fashion, signing to a Belgian-based label – Les Disques Du Crepuscule – while opting to also adopt the moniker Rhythm of Life Organisation (RoL) under which he intended to release experimental material, much of which would be far removed from the post-punk, angular guitar sounds associated with his former band.

Indeed, it was as RoL that the first solo 45 was issued, and not on the label to which he had signed.

mp3 : RoL – Soon

Ok….the pedants among you might argue this is NOT a Paul Haig solo record, given that the credits are:-

Stephen Harrison : voice, guitar & lyrics
Paul Haig : other instruments & voice

But it’s an important staging post for what would follow in the succeeding years which is why I’m using it to open the new series.

Soon was issued jointly via Rational Records and Rhythm of Life Records and given two catalogue numbers – RATE 6 and RHYTHM 1 (these things were really important to those of us smitten by how Factory Records were keeping stock of the things they were involved in). Rational was a short-lived label, owned and run by Allan Campbell, who had been the manager of Josef K and would remain a key player in the Edinburgh music scene for a long while to come. The label would release eight pieces of plastic all told, including the follow-up by RoL, a double-sided single entitled Uncle Sam/Portrait of Heart, both written and performed by the late Sebastian Horsley with Paul’s role restricted to keyboards, bass and second guitar; as such I’m not intending to include it in the series.

Here’s yer b-side of Soon, and it isn’t a cover:-

mp3 : RoL – Summertime

Both songs are a tad on the light side, very pop-orientated with a sound that wouldn’t have been out of place a short while later on Zoo Records, the label which would launch the careers of so many 80s musicians in Liverpool.



You all know by now that I rarely post up my thoughts on newly-released material.  TVV is very much a retro-blog or one which reeks of nostalgia rather than looking to be part of the here and now.

This sometimes extends itself into how I go about buying albums.  I’m not the greatest at listening to the radio and I no longer buy, on a regular basis, any music monthlies. More often than not, the only way I know that someone has released a new record is if it gets reviewed on the website of The Guardian or I see it mentioned by a fellow blogger, failing which I do get a monthly newsletter from Monorail, one of the indie stores here in Glasgow.  Even then, I don’t always rush out to pick up something just because a few critics have provided positive coverage – I’ve had my fingers burned far too many times for that.

So, when lots of folk said that Jarvis Cocker‘s new album in 2020 was a huge return to form, I didn’t pay attention.  When a few folk had it in their ‘best of’ lists last December, I did then make an effort to check out some of the promo videos across t’internet.  I still didn’t rush out and order the record in these COVID-ravaged times; but a short time ago, when the shops finally did re-open, I decided, on a whim, to add it as the final part of the bundle I was putting together from a browse through the shelves of Monorail.

I was glad that I did, for Beyond The Pale, by Jarv..Is, is a very fine listen, up there with some of the best things he ever did as part of Pulp.  I was really surprised as neither of his solo albums in 2006 and 2009 really did it for me, and I was disappointed with the live show he performed in Glasgow back in 2007, when he ended proceedings with a thoroughly underwhelming cover of Sidewalking by the Jesus and Mary Chain. But these seven new tracks really hang well together, and it does seem as if Jarv..Is is really more of a working, breathing band than a lanky singer backed by session musicians.

So….there you are…..the TVV seal of approval to an album, which was released in July 2020, but preceded by the single Must I Evolve as far back as May 2019.

mp3: Jarv..Is – House Music All Night Long

Maybe I should start to pay a bit more attention…..





I am obviously late to the Goth ICA Party, I blame the Florida sun, the Florida rain and, well Florida.

I created this ICA almost within a day of JC’s challenge, but then, well, life…AND FLORIDA.

Here is my take, if JC isn’t already completely done with trawling through Goth songs to find the songs to link here… I decided to take a different approach and challenge my albums to an ICA OF OPENING TRACKS. Surprisingly, it works really well to my ears.

I decided to limit my Goth parameters to the imperial period of Early 80s and I tried not to include any bands that are Post Punk first and possibly Goth second. There is one, well two, exceptions and I get them out of the way right up front.

So get out a torch (flashlight for any less Anglophile Americans that may be reading) and throw some shapes on the walls of your front room…

1. Spellbound – Siouxsie And The Banshees (from Juju)

On The Banshees’ fourth album, Juju, what was already angry and twisted before, took on a darker, more mysterious mood. I would never really describe Siouxsie And The Banshees as Goth. They were Punks that were Post Punks before Paul Morley or Nick Kent could fight over who coined the term.

Juju opens with one of the most dark and thrilling songs I have ever heard – Spellbound.

John McGeoch’s crystalline electric and franticly strummed acoustic guitars dance and run across a bed of Budgie’s martial drums and Severin’s heart adjusting bass. But it’s Siouxsie that commands your attention throughout. She’s singing a cautionary tale that, well it’s too late to escape from. Her nightmare is worse than anything Chuckie ever got up to on screen.

2. One Hundred Years – The Cure (from Pornography)

Robert Smith seemed to be on a similar musical journey with The Cure around the same time as The Banshees. The goal of Pornography was to make music that was dense and dark…it succeeds. Again, were The Cure Goth, or did Goth need The Cure to give it some lineage. I think the latter.

Pornography opens with One Hundred Years, a fan favorite for 40 years now (damn 40 years!), it is frantic and scary. It deals with the horrors of war over the prior 100 years, so Robert Smith can be surprisingly political, but darkly political.

3. The Fatal Impact – Dead Can Dance (from Dead Can Dance)

Dead Can Dance are possibly one of the purest expressions of Goth Music. The musical vision of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerard was global and included influences of Middle Eastern music, African rhythms and Polynesian mysticism and even Gaelic folk. But there’s was a dark musical world filled with incantations and intense meditations.

The Fatal Impact leads off their debut eponymous album and mixes tribal chants with a repetitive bass and guitar instrumental. Every time I listen to it I want it to be twice as long as it is. It’s ghostly and intimidating, but you will find your body moving to the rhythms.

4. Black Planet – The Sisters Of Mercy (from First And Last And Always)

There are many versions of The Sisters Of Mercy, but all of them start and end with the mind and ambitions of Andrew Eldritch I love the dark, discontent of their debut album, First And Last And Always, but I also equally love the the very deliberate musical exuberance and nihilism of Floodland.

Black Planet opens First And Last And Always and it doesn’t disappoint with its Hammer Film single guitar cord opening. Eldritch is almost recites the song’s lyrics. Even the chorus is seems like a literary device to tie his verses together. Black Planet is a song about a world that’s done and never coming back, but one we have to live through.

5. A Way – The Bolshoi (from Friends)

A great Goth song is one you can dance too while you sing along, proving that Goths could do more than one thing at a time. The Bolshoi belong to that second string of Goth, bands who rode the wave of band like The Sisters and Bauhaus into the offices of record companies wanting a piece of the action.

A Way is hella-catchy and a great album opener. Trevor Tanner uses just the right mix of Goth lead vocal tricks and more than capable ability to carry a tune. And A Way is a tune. There may never have been a more radio friendly Goth song. It’s obvious the members of The Bolshoi knew how to play their instruments and Mick Glossop acquits himself very well behind the mixing and production desk.

6. All Night Long – Peter Murphy (from Love Hysteria)

Goth’s Elder Statesman. Yeah, he really is. I know your wondering where Bauhaus is in this list – they aren’t. Two reasons, one picking an opening track from a Bauhaus album wasn’t satisfying and two, as obvious as selections one and two were on this ICA, I had to stop myself.

Murphy’s debut solo effort Should The World Fail To Fall Apart is a good album, but it lack cohesion. He hit pay dirt with Love Hysteria. 9 songs that build, one upon the other, to haunt the listener. All Night Long opens the album with a lush, dark, almost forbidden sound. It’s Murphy invading a beautiful dream and gaining control of you.

7. Wasteland – The Mission (from God’s Own Medicine)

Don’t pick a fight with Andrew Eldritch, you will lose. Wayne Hussey learned this the hard way – but maybe in the end, since The Mission managed to play some of the largest venues in the world and The Sisters Of Mercy never really broke out, he really won. The Mission/Sisters Of Mercy drama is it’s own Goth Soap Opera.
It took Hussey and The Mission a few years after leaving The Sisters, and a lawsuit or two to finally get an album out. He followed The Sisters pattern of releasing a few singles to gather an audience and then finally in late 1986, God’s Own Medicine came out.

Wasteland opens the album in true Goth Anthem style. You can’t help singing along with the chorus and if you have ever heard the song live you know what it does to an audience. Hussey sings about many things in his songs, but there is always a woman and a very sexual undercurrent. As The Mission progressed, they lost me because they were turning into Goth’s Led Zeppelin…and there are even signs here on Wasteland in my opinion.

8. Horse Nation – The Cult (from Dreamtime)

Ian Astbury took his time getting to The Cult’s debut album Dreamtime. After leaving Positive Punk band, Southern Death Cult, which was really more a collective than a band, but possibly more than any other band, showed what Goth could be, he hooked up with ex Theatre of Hate guitarist Billy Duffy and the rest is Goth history. A few singles and and EP as Death Cult, established the band as the next big thing within the growing genre. Their debut album Dreamtime is filed with Spaghetti Western guitars, Native American mysticism and most of all mystery.

Horse Nation opens the album with swagger and a cautionary warning that what has been done against the indigenous people will be avenged. It’s The Cult’s arrow shot into the cloudy blue sky.

9. Upstairs – Gene Loves Jezebel (from Promise)

Goth from Wales. GLJ (as the fans called them back in the day) began releasing music at about the time the Positive Punk scene was morphing into the Goth scene in the UK. They were signed to Beggars Banquet’s Goth sub-label, Situation Two and the debut Promise did well in the indie charts. Their sound was aggressive and I would describe it further as more creepy than scary, but absolutely dark in their earliest incarnations.

Upstairs leads off Promise and has a lot of influence from The Banshees and Bauhaus to my mind but the aggression is much more in your face than with their forebears. It can really get your blood flowing. Upstairs was a favorite of mine live and they usually saved it for the encore.

10. Nothing Wrong – Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (from Nothing Wrong)

The Lorries never got their due, in my opinion. They were more developed than most of their contemporaries and had many influences from the artier side of Post Punk as from anywhere else. On Nothing Wrong, I love the gatling gun intensity of the opening percussion sets the track up to build. It’s dense, dark and verging on the industrial. I am a fan of Chris Reed’s almost mumbled vocals. They blend into the music rather than tower over it.

11. Dreamland – The Rose Of Avalanche (from In Rock)

Possibly the most obscure band on this ICA playlist, The Rose Of Avalanche, like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry , hailed from Leeds and came to the attention of John Peel after heavily gigging around The UK. They self produced a number of singles, in true Goth tradition and ultimately signed with Fire Records, which, I’ll be honest, never knew what to do with the band.

Dreamland leads off their first proper album, In Rock, and has lots of influences from Post Punk, but gets it’s darkness from LA Psychedelia. There’s a bit of a Jim Morrison swagger in lead singer Phil Morris and the guitar work reminds me of Arthur Lee’s Love.

12. A Day – Clan Of Xymox (from Clan Of Xymox)

We have left the UK shores to the Netherlands for just a few minutes to include Clan Of Xymox. They were so very much a 4AD band in my mind. They pushed the boundaries of Goth into industrial and at time ambient territories. They had a knack for orchestrated openings that would get darker and darker as the song progressed.

A Day, which open their self titled debut, is a perfect example of what makes a 4AD Goth band. Like label mates Modern English, they tried to elevate or at least mess around with the established Goth sounds. A Day is heavy with synths and drum patterns and the song seems to swallow up singer Ronny Moorings, forcing him to fight his way out over and over. Their Goth is on the edge and seems like it could leap of that edge at any moment.

13. All I Want – Danse Society (from Looking Through)

Let’s finish this dark and moody ICA with a band I consider Goth Standard Bearers.

Danse Society was one of the earliest Goth bands and released singles even earlier than The Sisters Of Mercy – in fact you could be forgiven for mixing the two bands up in those earliest days – in my opinion.

By 1986, Danse Society had gained a good deal of attention with their second album Heaven Is Waiting – mostly because of their take on the Rolling Stones2000 Light Years From Home. Singer Steve Rawlings had a rock star swagger and certainly must have really believed his own press as he managed to alienate the entire band who left him high and dry after recording the follow up, Looking Through.

All I Want opens the album and relies on a lot of moody synths to drive the atmosphere of the song. Rawlings is another singer that was certainly influenced by Jim Morrison and to a lesser extent Mick Jagger. I remember when seeing the band that I was one of the only guys upfront in a sea of black crimped hair, patchouli wearing and clove cigarette smoking Goth Girls. Steve was a Goth Pinup. Having said that, it’s his vocal delivery that help propel the song.