I’ve been on-line.

“Planning a 15th birthday party? Make it spectacular with these fun, creative, and cool 15th birthday party ideas for girls and boys. Whether you’re planning an elaborate Quinceañera or a casual gathering with friends, you’ll find inspiring ideas here that will make your landmark birthday unforgettable.

1) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Slumber Party

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend and feel like laying low on your 15th birthday, invite a group of friends over for a 15th birthday slumber party. Build one of these epic blanket forts from BuzzFeed.com. Then enjoy birthday cake and snacks while watching your favorite movies shrouded in the warmth of friendship, the comfort of being home, and a blanket fortress of your making.

2) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Zoo Sleepover Party

Zoos make great 15th birthday party venues. Most offer party space, accommodations, and entertainment, and some even let private parties spend the night. Arrive at the zoo at evening and you and friends can enjoy a private tour, complete with activities and games. Then unroll your sleeping bag, get cozy, and slumber under the stars among nature’s rarest wild animals.

3) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Campout, Bonfire Party

A bonfire campout party is another fun, affordable way to celebrate your 15th birthday. Have mom and dad help you set up your yard or reserve a campsite for your 15th birthday party. Prepare fixings for fireside classics such as smores, pudgy pies, and hot dogs. And, celebrate your 15th birthday surrounded by friends, good food, and nature.

4) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Tour A Chocolate Factory

Turn fifteen while sampling a variety of chocolate and learning how America’s favorite candy is made on a chocolate factory tour. Some chocolate factories date all the way back to the 1800s, so in addition to experiencing first hand how bitter beans are transformed into mouthwatering sweets, you’ll receive a history lesson on where chocolate comes from and how it became the household item it is today. Do a search online to see if there are any chocolate factories in your area.

5) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Laser Tag

From standard team and solo matches to capture the flag, juggernaut matches, and role-playing matches, laser tag is as diverse as it is high-tech and entertaining. Plus, it’s painless, so you can really go all out. Do a search online to see if there are any laser tag venues in your area. If you have a lot of land or there’s a park you’re thinking of reserving for your 15th birthday, check for mobile laser tag companies, which bring all the equipment you need to you.

6) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Renascence Fair, Midevil Times

Celebrate your 15th birthday party the old-fashioned way, with jousting tournaments, festival food, and theatrical entertainment. Invite a group of friends to attend a renascence fair with you for the weekend, or, if you live near one, pay a visit to Midevil Times. Require guests to dress in midevil garb and top yourself off with a regal-looking-birthday crown or tiara. Order a custom guestbook and have all the peasants sign the king or queen’s ledger.

7) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Pool Party, Water Park

Turn 15 while relaxing and catching rays poolside with a group of friends. Reserve space at the public pool, a water park, or rent a room at a hotel with a pool. Gather friends and family and celebrate your 15th birthday with a splash at a water-themed destination of your choosing.

8) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Museum Sleepover Party

Contact your local museums to find out if they offer private tours or special discounts for groups, and create lasting memories with friends exploring and enveloping yourself in cultural artifacts, history, and more. Some museums offer sleepover events complete with scavenger hunts, mystery games, and flashlight tours; see if you can reserve space at one for your 15th birthday party.

9) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Farm, Petting Zoo, Nature Center

Although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of your 15th birthday, a farm can make for an eventful, interesting place to celebrate. There are a variety of destination farms with petting zoos, horseback riding, carriage rides, pick-able crops, and more on premise that will provide special accommodations for private parties. Beyond what we just mentioned, some farms also have corn mazes, hayrides, bonfires, and much, much more. Do a quick search online to learn more about destination farms are in your area.

10) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Hiking, Picnic

Plan an outdoor adventure for your 15th birthday with a group of friends. Pack a picnic, plan an epic hike, and celebrate your 15th birthday while conquering a challenging trek with good friends. As the end of your hike nears, find a spot with a view, unpack your picnic, and enjoy refreshments and sense of accomplishment amidst gorgeous scenery.

11) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Celebrate at Sea

From yachts to small fishing boats to canoes and kayaks, there are a vast array of vessels to choose from, that vary is size and cost, for your 15th birthday party. Choose something that suits your budget, guest list, and interests. For an affordable, adventurous 15th birthday, rent kayaks and canoes with a group of friends and family. Plan a weekend voyage. Kayak between islands, through streams, or on the open water and campout at different destinations at night. If you have a lot to spend, party with friends in a luxurious yacht or charter a guide and fishing boat and make your 15th birthday unforgettable with the catch of your lifetime.

12) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Hula Hoop Class, Dance Class

Hula hoops have been around a long time, but over the past decade or so performers have been using it in new, sophisticated ways to dance, execute tricks, and entertain. You can hire professional hula hoopers to perform at your 15th birthday party, or you can try this modern phenomena for yourself with friends at a hula hooping class. Do a search online to see what’s available in your area.

13) 15th Birthday Party Ideas: Arcade, Game Truck

If you have a lot to spend on your 15th birthday, and you love video games, consider renting a game truck for your 15th birthday party. Celebrate with friends inside of a massive truck, equipped with at least 4 HDTVs and drives directly to your home, playing the latest games on the latest consoles.”

Sorry if any of the above happen to rock your boat, cos they ain’t happening.  You’ll need to make do with this piece of indie-pop.

mp3: Pull In Emergency – 15 Years

A short-lived band of teenagers from London who released one album back in 2010.  I only know of them from Jacques the Kipper including this particular track on his rundown of the best music of the year.  Here’s a slightly harsh review, written back in the day by Dave Rowlinson for the diymag website:-

Good God, it’s the sound of the indie club come to life. The floor’s sticky with spilt cheap vodka. ‘15 Years’ comes on, a slow but easily recognisable start; enough time for a nod at your mates, and quickly onto the dancefloor.

That voice that every girl in every mid-nineties Britpop band had, yelpy and custard thick with suggestion, and slightly posh and slightly not posh. A shout-along lyric about how boys are, like, so annoyingly rubbish (which the boys are fine with cos indieboys revel in their adorable rubbishness, and it means someone’s paying them some attention and this one mentions lost souls which you all are, right?). Repeat lines over and over and louder and louder and gallop into the chorus again.

You’re not sure you like it, but it’s great fun, and you’ve bellowed out every word and flailed around with your eyes closed. ‘What’s on next? Oh… let’s get more vodka’. Barely remembered ace times.

This blog is now firmly in its adolescent, ill-mannered and unpredictable years.  Don’t you be telling me what I can and can’t do……….


HERE WE GO…2,3,4.

Adapted from wiki and the Jilted John website

Graham Fellows was an 18-year-old drama student at Manchester Polytechnic when he first came to prominence in August 1978 as the eponymous singer of the novelty record “Jilted John”, a first-person narrative of a boorish, bitter teenager with a thick Essex accent whose girlfriend Julie had left him for another man named Gordon, “just ’cause he’s better lookin’ than me, just ’cause he’s cool and trendy”. The song became known for the refrain “Gordon is a moron” repeated several times.

Fellows later said: “I’d written a couple of songs and I wanted to record them. So I went into a local record shop and asked if they knew any indie or punk labels. They said there were two, Stiff in London and Rabid just down the road. So I phoned Rabid up, and they told me to send in a demo. We did the demos with the late Colin Goddard – of Walter & the Softies – on guitar, and the drummer and bass player of the Smirks. I took it along to Rabid, who loved it … so we re-recorded it a few days later, at Pennine Studios, with John Scott playing guitar and bass and Martin Zero (aka Martin Hannett) producing.”

The single, issued by Rabid in April 1978 (TOSH 105), featured “Going Steady” as the A-side and “Jilted John” as the B-side.

However, Piccadilly Radio in Manchester began playing the flip, following which a couple more local independent radio stations also jumped on the bandwagon, leading to Rabid doing a quick bit of re-promotion.  Sales were steady in the north-west of England which brought it to the attention of the NME initially via Tony Parsons declaring it as ‘Single of The Week’ and then local correspondent Paul Morley referencing it in a wider piece on the Manchester music scene.  This all led to John Peel playing it on his show and seemingly making the comment that if the single was promoted by a major record label, then it would be a huge hit.

Cue EMI deciding to get on board, given it a wider release in August 1978. It ended up going all the way to #4 in the UK singles chart, which led to Jilted John and Gordon the Moron making three appearances on Top Of The Pops, which have been very cleverly pulled together in one clip:-

Come the end of the year, it proved to be the 29th biggest selling single of the year.

mp3: Jilted John – Jilted John
mp3: Jilted John – Going Steady

Two absolute banging tunes……..



I’d never have believed anyone who suggested after the Norman Blake/Euro Childs gig at the Strathaven Hotel back on Friday 21 February 2020 that it would be just over 19 months before I saw any live music again.

The COVID pandemic has been an absolute bastard for all sorts of reasons and in so many ways.  And yet, relatively speaking, I’ve not been badly affected by its impacts other than it has put a stop, temporarily, to so many things that are enjoyable.

When the venues were first closed down, I really resented it all. It wasn’t just the music that I was missing – indeed, that felt secondary to the fact that so many familiar and friendly faces were disappearing off the radar.  But, and I’ll be brutally honest here, as time has gone on, that resentment disappeared, and I began to get used to a gig-free life, helped by the fact that some of the familiar and friendly faces were keeping in touch via catch-ups in bars and cafés. I actually wondered at times if my enthusiasm for live music would ever be rekindled, especially as I was getting e-mail after e-mail advising of yet another cancellation for tickets bought such a long time ago.

It took until 18 August 2021 for the Scottish Government to publish its guidance for the reopening of cultural events and venues.  My first scheduled gig, as far as already owned tickets were concerned, was scheduled to be Arab Strap at Glasgow Barrowlands on Friday 10 September.  But at the same time as this was being confirmed, other gigs in smaller venues were being cancelled or rescheduled, which got me thinking whether or not it truly was safe to go back to a music venue.  In the end, I took the difficult decision to give Aidan and Malcolm a miss, far from secure in my mind that I wouldn’t be going to some sort of super-spreader event, unnecessarily putting my own health, and that of my wife, parents and close contacts at risk.

My next gig was scheduled to be Scritti Politti at St Luke’s, Glasgow on Monday 27 September.  This really felt like something of an acid test.  The venue was smaller but being a converted church had a very high ceiling so wouldn’t feel claustrophobic or likely get too hot and stuffy. The band was likely to attract a more mature audience who were more likely to follow the advice around spacing and the wearing of masks, which would take care of some of my main concerns. Finally, even though it was a ‘safer’ gig than many, it was still likely to be less than 100% capacity as some folk would still need some convincing that it was a sensible thing to be there.

You’ll have worked it out that I did go along, accompanied by my sidekick Aldo, who just happened to be with me at Norman Blake/Euros Childs all those months ago.  And yes, it was his return to the live scene too.

Our verdict?  It really couldn’t have gone any better or been any more enjoyable.

There proved to be no issues whatsoever to cause any undue anxiety that St Luke’s would prove to be an unsafe environment.

And the music turned out to be quite special too.

Support was provided by Alexis Taylor, best known as the lead vocalist with Hot Chip.  Although I was unfamiliar with much of the material, his 45-minute set of largely gentle and easy-paced songs, centred around him on either keyboards or guitar, provided an ideal reintroduction to live music.  I just happened to be at the bar when he offered up an excellent cover version of Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones for about his fifth or sixth song, and I remarked that I’d love someone to cover Wild Horses by Prefab Sprout for a change.  To my utter astonishment, that turned out to be the very next song played by Alexis Taylor…..and he did it very well, I’m pleased to say!

And so to Scritti Politti.

I think it was last December that I bought the tickets, excited by the fact that the tour was to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Cupid & Psyche 85, with the album, in its entirety, to be performed live for the very first time.  I wasn’t the only blogger excited by the prospect, as Brian from Linear Track Lives got in touch to say he and his wife had decided that a trip to Glasgow all the way from Seattle was just the tonic they needed to help get over all the post-COVID blues and that tickets had been purchased and plans made for flights and hotels.  Sadly, the easing of travel restrictions between the US and the UK came too late to allow Brian to confirm everything with a degree of certainty, and so he pulled the plug a few weeks back, but very generously passed on his tickets and asked that they find a good home to go to.  And if you happen to read this my friend, I can confirm they did and that Juliette and John were very grateful.

Green Gartside has, on the basis of last night’s show, made some sort of pact with the devil.  He is 66 years of age, but looks at least 20 years younger.

And then there’s his voice.

The show opened with The Sweetest Girl, arguably the most popular and enduring of his songs from the back catalogue. It was note and pitch perfect, to the extent that if you closed your eyes, it could sound as if he was miming and that the vocal track had been lifted from an album released as long ago as 1982.  And it remained that way throughout a crowd-pleasing set which went all the way back to the very early days and threw in an as yet unreleased song, prior to the promised run-through of Cupid and Pysche 85:-

The Sweetest Girl
Day Late and a Dollar Short
The Boom Boom Bap
Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy)
Skank Bloc Bologna
Trentavious White
The Word Girl
Small Talk
A Little Knowledge
Don’t Work That Hard
Perfect Way
Lover to Fall
Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)

There was a real surprise for the encore. A very faithful version of At Last I Am Free, a ballad written and recorded by Chic back in 1978 (and later recorded by Robert Wyatt, who has long been a hero of Green Gartside) for which Alexis Taylor returned to the stage for a co and backing vocal.

It was a beautiful and perfect musical ending to what had been the most enjoyable occasion, made all the better for stepping outside and seeing a group of other friends who had also been at the gig, including Duncan and Wendy whom neither myself nor Aldo had seen for more than two years when we used to bump into them on a very regular basis at venues all over the city.

I never anticipated it being such a perfect night.  And as it whetted my appetite for more live music over the coming weeks and months, you could say it was job done.

Loads of highlights to choose from, but I’ll settle on the surprise of such an early song and the majestic way one of the best pop songs of the 80s was delivered last night:-

mp3: Scritti Politti – Skank Bloc Bologna
mp3: Scritti Politti – Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)



Up till now, every song in this series has been ripped from a piece of vinyl via the turntable in use at Villain Towers. I only own a digital copy of today’s song, so you will, I’m sorry to say, have to make do with a lo-res rip.

Middle Age Man dropped me a line last week:-

“With the sad news this week of the passing of Richard H Kirk I thought it would be great if you could feature the 12′ version of Yashar released on Factory Records ( the John Robie remix),

For me, it is the pivotal CV release as it signifies their move from industrial to the dance floor and sums up their blend of 1980’s cold war paranoia and the dance floor. And on a more personal level, it was the first time my wife would let me play CV without her passing me the headphones.”

mp3: Cabaret Voltaire – Yashar (12″ version)

Yashar is a remix of a track originally issued on the 1982 album 2×45, which came out on Rough Trade. The single was issued in May 1983 on Factory Benelux (FBN 25) and Factory Records (FAC 82). It features a sample “The 70 billion people of Earth — where are they hiding?” from the Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”.



Those of you paying attention will have noted that The Fall had enjoyed a couple of years of stability in respect of all six members staying together.  Things changed dramatically at the beginning of November 1984 during the UK tour to promote The Weird and Wonderful World Of….

On 1 November, the band returned to their hotel after a gig in Cardiff.  For whatever reason, they don’t follow the usual practice of empting the tour van and taking the instruments into their rooms. The following morning, they return to the van and discover it has been broken into with almost everything stolen.  By the time of the next gig, two nights later in Brighton, the record label has managed to get everyone temporary replacement instruments.  The gig turns into the worst of the tour, with all sorts of mistakes, missed cues and cock-ups, after which Mark E Smith loses his temper with everyone.

It proves to be too much for Steve Hanley who was already struggling to keep things going after his first child, a boy, had been born prematurely and was seriously ill for the first few months of his life.  Steve goes back to his hotel to think about things and after making a call home to his wife, he tells her he’s quitting the band and coming back on an overnight train back to Manchester.  But he hasn’t told anyone in the band of his decision, nor that his intention was to get out of the music business altogether.

The next day, he gets a call from his brother who tells him that he had just informed MES that he was leaving, deciding that he would take up an offer from some old friends to start up a new band, one free of the control-freakery of MES.

The tour continues onto Europe, with The Fall now being like most other bands and having just one drummer. A call is put into Simon Rogers, a classically-trained musician who had become a friend of MES and Brix, and he replaced Steve as the bass player for the rest of the tour.  In due course, things did calm down a bit but not enough for Paul Hanley to change his mind.  Steve Hanley was officially put on an extended period of paternity leave, and although he helped out by playing bass when the band appeared on BBC TV’s Old Grey Whistle Test a few weeks later, he is absent when the band returns to the studio in early 1985; he would also miss a UK and US tour in the first half of that year.

So, it was a five-piece band who met up again with John Leckie early in the year, the fruits of which lead to a new double-A single that was duly released in June 1985, just around the time Steve Hanley was about to officially re-join.

mp3: The Fall – Couldn’t Get Ahead
mp3: The Fall – Rollin’ Dany
mp3: The Fall – Petty Thief Lout

I’m not going to offer too much on this one.  It’s not that I dislike Couldn’t Get Ahead, but it doesn’t quite resonate with me in the ways that many of the previous (and later) singles managed to do.  It’s kind of perfunctory if you really want my take on it.

Rollin’ Dany, not that I would have known it if I hadn’t looked at the sleeve notes in the The Fall 45 84 89 compilation that I picked up a few years later, is a cover version. I’ve never take to it as its opening notes somehow remind me of Shang-a-Lang by Bay City Rollers, a song I had been trying to forget for many a year going back to my early teens.  Having said that, given it was the first ever official release by The Fall of a cover version, it is of historical significance.

Petty Thief Lout, which was made available only on the 12″, extends to over five minutes. It is a quiet-loud-quiet sort of number, but at no point does it come across as anything but the band somewhat going through the motions.  Maybe everyone was missing the Hanley brothers…..

It reached #90, which at the time was the highest chart position achieved by any 45 released by The Fall. Brix’s dreams of being a bona-fide pop star were becoming increasingly distant.




I offer you some tracks from two bands with something, or rather someone, in common. One you probably already know, and one you quite possibly don’t.

I’m well aware that Ballboy are an old favourite at T(N)VV, and already the subject of not one but two excellent ICAs, so I don’t propose to go over that ground again, but I thought that fans might be interested to hear some obscure tracks by an early prototype version of the band, at the time still featuring original vocalist Viv Strachan. This version is clearly not the finished article, although the sound isn’t so far off the first official EPs. A couple of years passed before Ballboy as we know them made their “proper” debut, with guitarist Gordon McIntyre stepping up to the microphone. But if you’d like to hear how it started, this is how.

Ballboy – Car Crashes
Ballboy – I Could Eat You Up
Ballboy – Photographers

These tracks, “recorded at teviot row house and 11 east preston street” (the former a famous Edinburgh venue, the latter apparently student digs – but surely both in line for a blue plaque now) appeared on a 1997 compilation album of Edinburgh bands, “It’s a Life Sentence…”.

Strachan bowed out after these recordings, but would turn up a few years later in Fence Collective band Northern Alliance, in which she took the occasional lead vocal but mostly provided backup to chief wordsmith Doug Johnstone. If you recognise that name, it’s probably because he’s now a successful author. He also keeps his musical hand in as drummer with the on-off collective Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, alongside the likes of Christopher Brookmyre, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. Their tagline of “murdering songs for fun” tells you all you need to know, but you can find their videos on YouTube if you really want!

As for Northern Alliance, between 2003 and 2008 they issued four CDs, more-or-less randomly classified as either full or mini albums, plus a further definitely-mini-album on which they masqueraded as the titular indie rock group from Johnstone’s comic novel The Ossians. Although they split more than a decade ago, their website (www.lowfidelity.com) is still active and features a mildly embarrassing surfeit of enthusiastic press clippings comparing them to American slowcore and dream pop acts like Codeine, Low, Sparklehorse, Mazzy Star and Red House Painters.

But hey, show, don’t tell… and though I kept an eye on the Scottish songs series, N came and went without an appearance, so here are a few tracks for you: three originals and a standard from the Great Scottish Songbook.

Northern Alliance – We Hit the Town Drinking (from The Hand of God, 2008)
Northern Alliance – When the Clocks Go Forward (from Hope in Little Things, 2003)
Northern Alliance – Scaffolding (from For the Grains of Sand, 2006)
Northern Alliance – Ally’s Tartan Army (from Disaster for Scotland, 2004)

Now I think about it, Andy Cameron never turned up in the Scottish songs series either, did he? I feel an ICA coming on…



I’ve long been baffled by The failure of Lloyd Cole to establish a commercially successful solo career.

His period when backed by The Commotions, between 1984 and 1987, saw three hit albums, all of which were fawned over, for the most part, by the music critics.  The live shows were also among the ‘must-see’ category, with no venue being too large or challenging for the band, as evidenced in June 1986 when they supported Simple Minds at an outdoor gig at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, seemingly being note-perfect throughout in front of more than 40,000 attendees.

I had always thought The Commotions had been ever-present in the singles charts, but it turns out that only five singles ever made the Top 40, and even then, the best performance wasn’t a huge hit as Lost Weekend reached only #17.  So, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t a racing certainty that Lloyd would be a huge star when he branched out on his own, with things made a lot tougher by the fact that he made a conscious decision to move away from the sound and look of his days with a band.

He moved to New York City to write the new material and to find the musicians he most wanted to make the record with.  There was also a two-year gap between the last Commotions album and the first of the new material to factor in, so all-in-all, it was something of a gamble, but one he and his record label were very confident of pulling off.

The first solo single, No Blue Skies, was released at the end of January 1990.   It stalled at #42 in the UK.

The self-titled debut album followed a month later, entering the charts at #11.  This was quite encouraging as that was a similar outcome as Mainstream, the final Commotions album which had come in at #9 on its first week of release.

The problem was that over the next four weeks before a second single was taken from the album, Lloyd Cole had dropped all the way to #66, and so badly needed a sales boost via a well-received 45.

Don’t Look Back, came out in April 1990.  It got no higher than #59.  The album continued to plummet, dropping out of the charts after just a six-week stay, never to be seen again.

The problem was that the songs weren’t poppy enough for daytime radio, nor were they different or unusual enough for the drive time or evening shows to be really interested.

The planned third single, Downtown, was released but with next to fanfare or promotion.  It didn’t chart in the UK but it did prove to be a minor hit in the USA, mainly as a result of it being included on the soundtrack to the film Bad Influence, which starred Rob Lowe and James Spader, with the promo video airing regularly on MTV, featuring clips from the movie.

mp3: Lloyd Cole – No Blue Skies
mp3: Lloyd Cole – Don’t Look Back
mp3: Lloyd Cole – Downtown

Years later, Lloyd acknowledged that he got it badly wrong. He wrote this song for an album released in 2000:-

mp3: Lloyd Cole and The Negatives – Tried To Rock

Maybe I was just too much of a fanboy back in the day to make a true judgement on things, but I really did like the singles and almost all of the debut album. I’ve given a fresh listen again in recent days – it’s a CD copy rather than a vinyl version I have – and I do think it’s aged fairly well. OK, there’s nothing as immediate as the Commotions material, but at no point does it ever get boring or unlistenable.




In early September 2021 I was trawling through music websites when I was stopped in my tracks as I read an old byline “Nanci Griffith: Folk and country singer-songwriter dies aged 68.”

The article was date 13th August, 2021.

Nanci and I parted company sometime after the release of the album Storms (1989), although I occasionally popped back into see her, most notably with the release of Other Voices Other Rooms (1993). I could never describe myself as a huge fan, I only own 6 of her albums, but reading of her death made an impact.

I Wish It Would Rain

From the mid to late 80s Nanci was part of a gang of Americana, Folk and Country artists/bands from the USA that received a very warm welcome in Glasgow: Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Lone Justice, The Long Ryders etc. It was a testing time for an indie ‘kid’ to admit to enjoying Folk, Country and Americana, but I cared not a jot – a good deal of indie bands had been and would continue to put their slant on country/folk – and even the most diehard of indie fans eventually had to eat some cake. Most of the albums my parents had were country artists or artists heavily influenced by its charms – I was hooked early on. Not even my love of indie would make me forsake country.

Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

I was introduced to Nanci’s music via a very good pal. I have a feeling the album would have been Lone Star State of Mind (1985), equally, it could have been Once In a Very Blue Moon (1984). I soon became quite the fan and with only a year to wait between albums there was always something to look forward to.

Nanci had a singing voice that I believe could only fit the folk/ country genre and a wonderful ability to story tell, that suits said genres perfectly as is illustrated by, for example:

Love at the Five and Dime

I think it was in 1988 (a considerable internet trudge could find no confirmation) that it was announced that Nanci would play Govan Town Hall as part of Glasgow’s Mayfest festival. I recall a scramble for tickets, given the small capacity, and thankfully I got mine. I lived in Govan at the time, so would be able to take a short stroll home.

As the gig grew closer it was announced that Nanci would appear on the Wogan Show, in London on the same night as the Glasgow gig? Eyebrows began to be raised. Wogan started at 7.00pm how was it possible that Nanci would get to Glasgow for the show’s start time? The answer is, she didn’t. At the gig an announcement was made that Nanci was running late but that she would appear. I don’t recall how late she was, but I do recall it being a significant wait (over an hour, possibly) in a brooding atmosphere of discontent … and then she appeared. Within minutes, the discontent had been shrugged off as Nanci wrapped us around her little fingers. It was a fantastic night and all the better, somehow, for her lateness – apparently, she arrived by helicopter….

There’s a Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret)

The only other time I would have seen her live was at The Big Day (1990), Glasgow (subject of recent discussions in basement rooms) but I have no recollection of it?

I’ve listened to her music less often of late, but on hearing the news of her death I’ll polish the vinyl and set the volume to 10.5.

11 seems excessive.

When I do listen to Nanci the following will occur … I’ll move onto Dwight Yoakam, The Long Ryders, Lone Justice, Maria McKee, The Coal Porters and, of course, Loretta Lynn and then maybe some Camera Obscura perhaps the Lilac Time will enjoy a spin.

Nanci left a considerable legacy beyond the innumerable cover versions of her songs, not least of which is the mighty From A Distance which charted at number one in the US in 1990, (Bette Midler).

I’m sure Nanci raked in quite the mint, but the Devine Miss M should have left it to Nanci.

Thanks, Nanci. You really shone a light.

Let It Shine On Me



The power-pop of The Tourists at the tail end of the 70s delivered some fabulous moments, not least their cover of I Only Want To Be With You, which went Top 10, as did the follow-up single, So Good To Be back Home Again.  The latter was written by guitarist Peet Coombes, and indeed he was responsible for most of the songs recorded by the band over all three of their albums before the spilt at the end of 1980.  He has, however, been largely all but forgotten as two of his bandmates, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, would join forces and form Eurythmics, becoming one of the biggest acts of the 80s, with most folk thinking that Stewart’s songwriting success was a continuation of his efforts with The Tourists.

Eurythmics seemed to come out of nowhere in 1983, thanks to them being responsible for one of the most iconic electronica singles during a period where synths really were vanquishing guitar bands.  It hadn’t, however, been an overnight success as the duo’s debut album, In The Garden, back in 1981 had been a dismal flop, while the first three singles lifted from the follow-up album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) hadn’t received much airplay nor dented the charts.

It really was almost a last throw of the dice to release the title track from the new album in February 1983.  The UK tour to promote the album was using small-scale venues – for instance the Glasgow date was at Night Moves which had a capacity in the low hundreds, but as the duo made their way around the country, they were doing so on the back of a single which quickly went to #2, leading to all sorts of television appearances and a huge demand to catch the live shows, all of which were now sold out and could have easily still been so if the usual locations with capacities of 2-3000 had been in play.

The decision was taken to re-release an earlier flop single as the follow-up to Sweet Dreams. A few months previously, in November 1982, it had spent a few weeks in the lower end of the charts, peaking at #54.  Come April 1983, it was #6:-

mp3: Eurythmics – Love Is A Stranger

It ensured Eurythmics couldn’t be written off as one-hit wonders, and indeed it became a hit all over Europe as well as in the USA, Canada and Australia. The b-side was the same track as had been on the reverse of the initial single back in 83:-

mp3: Eurythmics – Monkey Monkey

What happened next was a bit of a surprise in that, instead of going out again on tour to cash-in on the belated success of Sweet Dreams, the duo went into the studio to begin work on new material, with a new song, Who’s That Girl?, continuing in a similar electronica style, allied again to the striking visual and unusual look that Lennox was offering the pop world – no other woman was wearing her hair that short or in such a striking orange colour.

But where most were expecting more of the same, the next album, Touch, which was released in November 1983, highlighted a different sound, one which was far more mainstream in nature. The next single leaned on calypso music, and the one after that was akin to a mid-tempo power ballad. For those of us who had fallen for the sounds of the hits at the beginning of 1983, what emerged before the year was out proved to be a huge letdown. But then again, given they would enjoy in the region of 75 million album sales world-wide before the decade was over, I don’t think the loss of one fan from a city in the west of Scotland caused them any sleepless nights.

The mp3s today are taken from the 7″ single, one that I picked up cheap on Discogs a few months back. It is the only Eurythmics vinyl that I own, although Mrs V’s copy of Touch sits in the cupboard, unplayed for many years, and certainly never since 1990 when we moved in together.




This is just a wee different.  Kind of.  OK.  It’s not really as, just like every Monday, it features music ripped from vinyl at 320kpbs. You could say that I’m back with the heavyweight jam.

Stadium House (The Trilogy) was a VHS video released in 1991 that is just under 30 minutes in length.   The main film purports to be live footage of The KLF performing their three chart hits at Woodstock, Europa while the supporting feature is called ‘This Is Not What The KLF Is About’, a behind the scenes look at the main film.

It is, of course, nothing of the sort, although the main film has been pieced together does make it seem as if the singers, musicians and dancers are performing on a stage within some sort of post-apocalyptic setting, interspersed with footage of a police car and a fast moving passenger train, and is just the splicing of the three promo videos.

Here’s all three singles, in the order in which they entered the charts, all ripped from 7″ vinyl:-

mp3 : The KLF – What Time Is Love? (live at Transcentral)
mp3 : The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal (live at the S.S.L.)
mp3 : The KLF – Last Train To Transcentral (live from The Lost Continent)

What Time Is Love? reached #5 in September 1990.
3 A.M. Eternal spent two weeks at #1 in February 1991.
Last Train To Transcentral peaked at #2 in May 1991, kept off the top by Cher and The Shoop Shoop Song.

More than thirty years ago?  Well, that’ll hopefully excuse the occasional pop or crackle. Kind of similar to the sounds my bones and joints make when I try to move to the tunes.



12 October 1984.  A date on which The Fall again defy convention by insisting that the record label issue a new album along with a new single.  But not just in any bog-standard way as the new single was to come out on 12″ vinyl, accompanied by a free 7″ single.  Oh, and if you chose instead to buy the new album on cassette rather than vinyl, then you would also get just about all the music that was available on the new single, as well as the tracks that had made up the previous two singles…..

The new album was called The Wonderful and Frightening World Of….and it contained nine tracks with a running time of just over 40 minutes.  Three of its tracks were co-written by Mark E Smith and Brix Smith.  Of the other six, Brix was credited on three of them, which is some achievement given that her only previous contribution to a Fall album had been to co-write one track on Perverted By Language, released some ten months earlier.

It has to be said that the other band members were quite relaxed about it all.  Steve Hanley is on record as saying:-

“She was good for the band. We’d reached as far as we could with fifteen-minute songs like ‘And This Day’ battering the audience.  She did commercialise the band, she helped convince Mark to go that way. She was like a breath of fresh air for five miserable blokes from Manchester’

I’m not sure if MES, newly married and seemingly enjoying himself on stage like no other time previously, was all that miserable in 1984.  The other four blokes were still those who had been making music together for the past couple of years – the duel drumming efforts of Karl Burns and Paul Hanley (who also played occasional keyboards), Craig Scanlon on guitar and Steve Hanley on bass, whose musical contributions were becoming even more increasingly important and influential.

I came quite late to this, and indeed, subsequent periods of The Fall, so I can’t really comment on how I felt about it all at the time.  My excuse is that the new flat that I had moved into didn’t really have what you would call any other fans of the band, and so between the six of us there were just a handful of previous singles kicking around, and they weren’t on heavy rotation.  Nobody bought the new album or the Call For Escape Route package.  It would take until the early 90s, and me picking up a CD compilation album bringing together the singles that had been released on Beggars Banquet between 1984 and 1989 before I actually heard any of these songs. In this instance, it was No Bulbs, but it immediately became an instant favourite, and remains so all these many years later.

Call For Escape Route 12″

mp3: The Fall – Draygo’s Guilt
mp3: The Fall – Clear Off!
mp3: The Fall – No Bulbs

Bonus 7″

mp3: The Fall – No Bulbs 3
mp3: The Fall – Slang King 2

It’s another very fine collection of tunes, albeit more ammo to those fans of old who might have been a bit concerned about the band shifting to a sound which bordered on commercially friendly.

Draygo’s Guilt, co-written by MES and Craig Scanlon, has a tune which sounds as if it has been around since forever, with just about every kick ass rock’n’roll band having some sort of stab at it along the way. Indeed, The Fall had been playing this song, or at least a variation on it, as far back as 1980.

Clear Off! is, for The Fall, rather a light sounding track.  The tune, in places, reminds me of a slightly sped-up Hip Priest and at other times, like the sort of tune New Order would pull together a little later on in time. Oh, and it also features a guest co-vocal from Gavin Friday of The Virgin Prunes (as indeed did two of the tracks on The Weird and Wonderful World Of….

The full version of No Bulbs extends to a few seconds short of eight minutes while the edited down version, given the title of No Bulbs 3,  is around four-and-a-half minutes long.  It is this edited version which was included on The Fall 45 84 89 compilation I mentioned above and thus offered me my first ever listen to the song.   If ever you wanted to hear just how much John Leckie brought to the table in terms of his production skills, then take the time to give a listen to both, or either, versions of No Bulbs offered here today.

I still cannot get my head around it wasn’t selected as a stand-alone 7″ single, as I’m convinced it would have provided The Fall with a chart hit.  It is a truly magnificent and mighty piece of music, one which wonderfully disguises that it is actually about living in squalor and poverty, as was the case with the newly married Mr & Mrs Smith in a dingy flat in Prestwich, just north of Manchester and just south of Bury.  It would also justify an entry into the ‘Some Songs Are Great Short Stories’ series, with MES trying to get his hands on the one belt he owns as it is needed to hold his trousers up, only he can’t find it for the amount of junk and debris lying around the flat, and as he goes to switch on the light to assist in his efforts, the bulb blows, and they are so poor, they don’t have a spare.  There is also a truly inspired closing stanza, which drives home the miserable conditions of their habitat:-

They say damp records the past
If that’s so I’ve got the biggest library yet
The biggest library yet.

Slang King 2 is a different mix of a track which was included on The Weird and Wonderful World Of…., and seemingly was written by MES and Brix, but with a rare writing credit offered to Paul Hanley on account of MES liking the way he had improvised the keyboards into the tune.

The single came into the charts at #99.  The album got as high as #62.  In both instances, it now feels like an absolute travesty.



From wiki:

Robin Andrew Guthrie (born 4 January 1962) is a Scottish musician, songwriter, composer, record producer and audio engineer, best known as the co-founder of the alternative rock band Cocteau Twins. During his career Guthrie has performed guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums and other musical instruments, in addition to programming, sampling and sound processing.

I’ve plenty of Cocteau Twins music in the collection, but for some inexplicable reason, I never got interested in pursuing any of the solo material that has been written and recorded by Robin Guthrie over the years.  All I have is one track, included on a compilation CD given away with Word magazine in October 2009:-

mp3: Robin Guthrie – Close My Eyes & Burn

It’s an instrumental from the album Carousel, released in 2009 on Darla Records, a label based in San Diego, California and while there is something worth hanging onto, it just feels that little bit empty without Elizabeth Fraser coming in on vocals.  But I suppose I should get over it given that it’s now 26 years since Cocteau Twins last released any new music and there is absolutely no chance of them ever getting back together.



Yesterday’s posting was inspired by an ICA featuring a b-side.   Well, whatdyaknow?  One of the very best ICAs was one which consisted solely of b-sides.

Here’s The Robster back on 23 June 2015 with something from ICA #18-

“Edam Anchorman : b-side of (Drawing) Rings Around The World (2001)

One of my fave Super Furry Animals singles had this little monkey hiding almost unnoticed on its flip. It reminds of so many other things that have come out much more recently, but as is the norm for the Furries, they seemed to be ahead of their time back in 2001. One of the biggest, most anthemic choruses they’ve done.”

(Drawing) Rings Around The World was the second single taken from the band’s fifth album, Rings Around The World. It was released on 8 October 2001 on 12″ vinyl and on enhanced CD which also contained the promo video.  Each version had three songs, albeit just two tunes:-

mp3: Super Furry Animals – (Drawing) Rings Around The World
mp3: Super Furry Animals – Edam Anchorman
mp3: Super Furry Animals – All The Shit U Do

The single did get to #28 in the UK charts, and was also voted in at #21 in the John Peel Festive 50 of 2001.



Here’s Drew back on 15 May 2017 with something from ICA #123:-

“Rock & Roll

Rock & Roll recounts the story of Jenny whose life was saved by Rock & Roll. I read in notes to Peel Slowly and See that the song was about Reed himself, who wasn’t interested in anything until he heard rock and roll. “If I hadn’t heard rock and roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet”

It comes from the band’s final album, Loaded recorded for Atlantic. The band were on the point of implosion at this point but could still produce an LP “loaded” with hits or so Reed thought, and it is definitely the most commercial of their releases.”

Rock & Roll was released on a 45 by Atlantic in Germany and the UK back in 1973.  The picture sleeve used to illustrate this post is taken from one of the German releases as the UK single came housed in a plain sleeve.  You’ll have noticed that I said was ‘released on a 45, words chosen deliberately as it was actually the b-side.  It was also the first ever release attributed to more than just the band:-

mp3: The Velvet Underground featuring Lou Reed – Sweet Jane
mp3: The Velvet Underground featuring Lou Reed – Rock & Roll

It was, of course, a cash-in attempt, coming on the back of Walk On The Wild Side being a solo hit for Lou Reed in 1972 but it proved to be a flop, with Radio 1 not the slightest bit interested in playing it.



Yesterday featured a song which peaked at #40 in the UK singles charts.  Well, whatdyaknow?  Its deja vu….

Here’s our much missed friend Tim Badger back on 26 July 2016 with something from ICA #86:-

Sparky’s Dream

Ok I’ll keep this one short – this is one of the best pop rock songs ever written. It’s another Gerard Love one and that bluesy slide guitar intro is divine and nearly every band I can think of would kill for it.”

Looking back, you can learn, or be reminded, that Sparky’s Dream was the lead single from the fifth studio album, Grand Prix.  It was released on 22 May 1995 as a 7″ single and on 2 x CDs.

I’ve one of the CDs in the collection:-

mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream
mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Burned
mp3: Teenage Fanclub – For You
mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Headstand

Burned is a cover of a Buffalo Springfield song, written by Neil Young and dating from 1966, and was made available on the 7″ and CD1. The latter is where you’ll also find the Raymond McGinley penned For You, and Headstand, another track written by Gerard Love.

I’ve also picked up, along the way, the lead track from CD2.

mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream (alternative version)

This is actually the recording for the BBC Radio 1 Evening Session that had been transmitted a few months earlier, on 23 January 1995.



Lazy week (of sorts) for me.  The next few days will see me delve into some old ICAs and reproduce the words written about a particular song at the time, before expanding to include its b-sides.  Here’s SWC back on 25 March 2015 with something from ICA #9:-

North American Scum

You’ll all know this song but the point where the cowbell clangs and organ buzz that set off North American Scum is one of the greatest moments in recent music history. This is one of the finest anthems of our generation. There is an angry guitar that pushes its way to the front, and as it does burst through, you can’t help but grin at the stupidly brilliant American.”

Looking back, you can learn, or be reminded, that North American Scum was the lead single from the second studio album, Sound of Silver.  It was released on 26 February 2007 as a digital download and on 7″, 12″ and CD formats exactly one week later.

Here’s all the tracks you can expect to find across all the formats.

mp3: LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum
mp3: LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum (Kris Menace Remix)
mp3: LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum (Onastic Dub Mix by James Murphy and Eric Broucek)
mp3: LCD Soundsystem – Hippie-Priest Bum-Out

It peaked at #40 in the UK charts which, quite frankly, is another dreadful indictment of the taste of the record-buying public.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a few more guitars for those of you who prefer things that way.



If the statement on the reverse of the sleeve is to be believed, then this was “recorded at Samurai Sound Labs in Davis, California, with mixing taking place at Samurai Sounds Labs & Chris Molla’s-enormous-piece-of-squid-in-the-fridge-studios while most everybody was naked or wearing massive fur boas & platform shoes.”

If only mobile phones and social media had been around back in 1984, then we would have an idea whether it is fact or fiction.  After all, who keeps giant squid in their fridge?

Camper Van Beethoven aren’t all that well known beyond this particular single, released here in the UK in early 1985 on Rough Trade.  It made it all the way to #8 in the Indie Charts and was voted in at #47 in the end of the year Peel Festive Fifty.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think it is one of the finest, funniest, freshest and most wonderful songs from that era, one which always got me off my seat every time it was aired at an indie-disco or night out.  My use of the past tense reflects how long since any such event has taken place, and the likelihood that, I edge towards turning 60 in twenty-one months time, my dancing days, if not completely over, will be restricted, and I’d only be able to shake my thang to Skinheads if it was aired after I’d been sitting down for at least ten minutes after my previous exertions.

mp3: Camper Van Beethoven – Take The Skinheads Bowling

I didn’t pick this up this back in the day.  In truth, it passed me by in 1986 and my recollection of being introduced to it was via listening to the Peel end-of-year rundown, which I was taping onto cassette each night.  Even then, I didn’t go out and seek it out, which would likely have been difficult as Rough Trade singles (with the exception of The Smiths), certainly in Scotland, were hard to track down once the shops had sold out their initial allocation.  But it is one I sought out, via Discogs, not long after starting the blog reignited fully the passion for vinyl.

I’d like to think you’re all smiling while listening to this today.  It really is that sort of song……



Let’s get a misconception about this one right out of the way.

C.R.E.E.P. is not about recently departed band member, Marc Riley.

Brix Smith‘s book, The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise (2016) devotes a few paragraphs to the song, saying that she was excited by it, not least as she provides ‘bratty backing vocals that contested well with the darkness of The Fall’, and firmly believed it had a chance of cracking the singles chart. She also explains that the lyrics were aimed at another of the many hundreds of individuals who had upset Mark E Smith somewhere along the way, a German tour manager by the name of Scumech, whose name was turned into scum-egg as part of the lyric.  A bit of investigatory work by fans of the band later unearthed that the man in question was most likely Scumeck Sabottka, who would later make a fortune as the founder of one of the biggest online ticketing agencies in Germany – and looking at some of the photos of the man that can be found online, he does look something of a peace-loving, trendy wretch who was fond of ABC.  It would appear therefore that MES never gave him the look of love….

C.R.E.E.P. didn’t sound like anything the band had written, recorded and released up to this point.  It was even more ‘pop’ orientated than Oh! Brother.  It is very much a record on which the guiding influence of John Leckie in the producer’s chair is obvious, and the folk at Beggars Banquet must have been pleased at how it was all going.

Many years later, it would emerge that the tune had been written by the brothers Steve and Paul Hanley together with Craig Scanlon, just after The Man Whose Head Expanded had been recorded, but MES had hated it, throwing the cassette down in disdain, seemingly lost forever.  Brix, while doing a bit of serious cleaning in her new matrimonial abode, found the discarded tape and suggested that it would make for a good song if MES could come up with a lyric.  Still very much in love with his new wife, the cantankerous frontman didn’t let on what he really thought of the tune and in due course came up with the words. Oh, and Brix somehow manages to get a writing credit on the final version, possibly/probably because of the bratty backing vocal…..

I should at this stage owning up to having a real liking for C.R.E.E.P. but not buying it at the time of release, being content to hear it played on a reasonably regular basis at one disco or other in the Students; Union. The problem, however, was that the music critics weren’t all that keen, with some barbed comments that the new-look band, which had undergone a fairly radical image transformation, was now being fronted by the new wave equivalent of Dollar (click here if you need an explanation).  Many fans from way back didn’t care for it either, thinking it was clear evidence of the band selling-out to the man.

Similar to last time out, C.R.E.E.P., released on 24 August 1984, was made available on 7″ and 12″, with the latter being on green vinyl and containing a version which is almost two minutes longer, with particular prominence given to the bass playing skills of Steve Hanley:-

mp3: The Fall – C.R.E.E.P.
mp3: The Fall – C.R.E.E.P. (12″ version)

Despite Brix’s hopes, it stalled at #91, just two places higher than Oh! Brother. You might well be able to easily dance in the student unions to the music The Fall were now making, but it still wasn’t making any impact on the wider market of record buyers.

The b-side to the single was inspired by another individual whom The Fall had dealt with while on tour. Again, let’s turn to Brix’s book for the details:-

“The Fall’s American tour manager, Pat was a plump fellow from Hoboken, New Jersey. He was a fun-loving, beer-drinking kind of guy. Mark went to Pat and asked him for some pills. Pat removed a plastic bag full of colourful capsules.”

The capsules were emptied out and duly snorted, but instead of it being the anticipated speed it turned out to be nothing more than powdered caffeine….

mp3: The Fall – Pat-Trip Dispenser

It’s an absolute belter of a song…..one which benefits from the polish offered up by Leckie but without going down the truly commercial road. It seemed to bode well for the album that was being worked up……



From bandcamp:

“Robert Rental is an artist as influential as he is overlooked.

An anchor of the early British DIY and post-punk scene, his name is most frequently uttered alongside illustrious collaborators such as Thomas Leer and Daniel Miller. Dark Entries and Optimo ally to illuminate some of Rental’s early solo works with an expanded reissue of his debut 7” Paralysis /A.C.C. self-released on Regular Records in 1978, around the same time as Leer’s Private Plane/International 7”.

The record is a perfect document of the DIY ethos. It was recorded with the assistance of Leer in the council flat that Robert lived in, using an assortment of budget electronics: a Roland drum machine, a Stylophone, an Electroharmonix DrQ, and a TEAC A3440 4-track recorder.

The record’s sleeves were surreptitiously photocopied after hours at the offices of Virgin Records by Robert’s partner Hilary Farrow, and the labels were hand-stamped The initial print run was a scant 650 copies. With its prominent notes of Krautrock, prog, dub, and ambient, Paralysis /A.C.C. points to a then-emergent musical form.

“Paralysis” makes its four and a half minute runtime feel like an eon, an endless morass of processed vocals and mournful melodies underpinned by the static whirrings of synthesizers. “A.C.C.” is an angular pop song that is at once both fractured and droning, like a skipping record that sounds incrementally more warped with each iteration.”

It was some fifteen months ago that I paid tribute to Robert Rental and Thomas Leer in this posting.  I made their two debut singles available via the blog, but in doing so was acutely aware that I had myself picked them up from elsewhere.  I’ve kind of made up for it by spending a small amount, via bandcamp, on the digital release of Paralysis and A.C.C, whih comes with three additional tracks, all of which were previously unreleased. Here’s the one which is described as “a sparse gem that layers Rental’s gently processed vox with guitar and drum machine, beautiful in its simplicity.

mp3: Robert Rental – Untitled

Here’s a link to the bandcamp site if you’re interested.