THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Parts Thirty six and seven: TWO FROM THE CURE

So, I went into the cupboard to pull out the 12″ single that I was going to put onto the turntable and do the whole ripping at 320kpbs for this series.

But the single was sort of sticking to the one sitting next to in the cupboard and the two of them kind of came out together, and thus I found myself in a dilemma as I now wanted to feature both of them.

Dilemma solved.  Two for the price of one today.

Some words written previously back in April 2015:-

The Cure have released 41 singles going back to Killing An Arab in 1978 right through to The Perfect Boy exactly 30 years later. But I would never have guessed that Lullaby was the one that performed the best in the UK singles chart when it crawled its way up to #5 in 1989.

I would have put a fair amount of money that The Lovecats was the holder of that title, but it only scratched its way to #7 in 1983, although I’m guessing that in terms of actual sales it in fact outsold Lullaby.

And even if you told me that the biggest success wasn’t The Lovecats, I’d have then placed whatever was left of my cash on Friday I’m In Love, but this only swooned its way to #6 in 1992.

So the best performing 45 turns out to be the one about the creepy and haunting tale of an eight-legged creature which frightened Robert Smith is in his nightmares as a youngster. Or, is in fact the song, as has been suggested in some places, really about drug addiction and dependency but written in such a way that it gets past the censors at the BBC for the all important airplay?

Either way, I think it’s one of the most inventive arrangements to feature on any record by The Cure.

mp3: The Cure – Lullaby (extended version)

And from December 2013:-

The Best New Order song that Bernard, Hooky, Stephen and Gillian never wrote??

It can’t be denied can it?

mp3 : The Cure – In Between Days

Quite possibly my favourite few minutes from The Cure.  And yes, it is because it so reminds me of Lowlife era New Order. A #15 hit in the UK back in the summer of 1985. Still sounds gorgeous after all this time.

Apologies for the use of repeat postings for the words. I’d like to think you’ll forgive me, given how good the songs are.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 19)

This week, a single that made it into the Top 75 in September 1986, thanks to a song that could and did pack the floor at indie-discos.

mp3: The Fall – Mr Pharmacist

The first Fall song which Mrs Villain ever admitted she liked, thanks to me constantly including it on all the mix taped we would pack into a suitcase to take with us when we went away on holiday.  It’s amazing to think back and realise how much space was needed for a box of 24 cassettes, and how often the batteries would need replaced on whatever cheap version of the Sony Walkman was being taken down to a beach or pool.   I don’t miss those days now that there’s almost 50,000 songs each on a couple of i-pods which quickly charge up in a matter of hours overnight.

Enough of me wallowing in nostalgia. Here’s the press release issued by Beggars Banquet:-

The 1st of September heralds the release of The Fall’s version of MR PHARMACIST, a superb break-in taster for, and from their next LP.

Recorded straight onto master tape at Abbey Road Studios, MR PHARMACIST is the first record by THE FALL to contain new ingredient ‘JOHN’ S. WOLSENCROFT (ex-Weeds) on the drums who replaces much loved Karl Burns (now of the group ‘Thirst’).

MR PHARMACIST was an afterthought during the recording, being one of Mark E. Smith’s FAVOURITE songs by The Other Half – coincidentally, M.E.S. was ill with a chest infection during part of the recording.

HEAR live bass of Super Hanley on vinyl! NOTE phlegm vocal rattle! WITNESS earscorch of Brix Guitar, unfettered by tedious modern mixing methods. If only all cover versions were like this.

Companion track ‘LUCIFER OVER LANCASHIRE’ would not fit onto (blank space) but it is too good to store. The subject of much debate, ‘LUCIFER OVER LANCASHIRE’could refer to:-

A. Recent Commie cloud and complaints of aching bones in the health-conscious Fall camp.
B. The Erasure of good manners and good groups in that holy county or
C. A trailer for Pashion Religious Whodunnit due December
‘I tell you no lies.
Completely blind/are the Sentinels
Eyes/At the back of his mind/
This demon’s hip.

Bonus track ‘AUTO TECH PILOT’ features horror machine FX by Simon Rogers, and offers weirder territory in THE FALL legacy – where delirious commentary meets modern classical at the Eighties Trash-Gate.

Get It.

Regards,
Edward M. Cohort II
Hotel Cohesion
Hampstead
M/CR

There’s no point in adding anything to that is there??

mp3: The Fall – Lucifer Over Lancashire
mp3: The Fall – Auto Tech Pilot

I love Lucifer Over Lancashire. Another example of the weird and wonderful stuff that was stuck away on b-sides over the year (and yes, I’m thinking that’s a subject matter for a future ICA….). Auto Tech Pilot, on the other hand, I can happily live without.

Mr Pharmacist entered the charts at #75.  It dropped out after one week.  The song was, in due course, played more than 400 times at Fall gigs, the first being on 9 November 1986 in Birmingham and the last being on 23 October 2017 in Newcastle, the second to last show they ever played, and was, by far the song most aired. Maybe an indication that MES wished he had written it?

For those who are interested, The Other Half was an American psychedleic/garage band from San Francisco in the mid-late 60s.  They were largely unknown at the time, but the inclusion of Mr Pharmacist, a single back in 1966, on a Nuggets compilation in 1985 from which it is likely that MES picked up on it, finally got them noticed.

mp3: The Other Half – Mr Pharmacist

John Leckie was on production duties for The Fall on this occasion, as he would be for the album Bend Sinister released just three weeks after Mr Pharmacist.  But by the time of the next single, he would have been usurped……

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #280: SACRED PAWS

From this very blog, back in January 2020

“Sacred Paws is made up of Rachel Aggs (vocals, guitar) and Eilidh Rodgers (vocals, drums) who have known each other for years through various bands they have been part of.  It was back in 2015 that they decided to work together, although things were complicated a bit by the fact that Rachel was living in London and Eilidh was in Glasgow. The development of technology and home recording has perhaps made such geographical issues less than a problem than they were a few decades ago, but it still meant that things weren’t rushed.

The duo were signed to Rock Action, the label owned by Mogwai, and the first fruits of their labour was the Six Songs EP, released to a fair bit of buzz round these parts thanks to an energetic blend of spiky guitars, funky drumming/percussion lines and vocals that were chanted as often as they were sung which really made for a breath of fresh air. Throw in the fact that the girls were clearly enjoying themselves on stage, and you had a decent recipe for success.

The debut album, Strike A Match, took over where the EP had ended, delivered with just a bit more polish and confidence. It gave a few nods to the 80s female-led bands such as The Slits and The Raincoats while the increased use of upbeat African-style drumming provided a real energy that bordered on the infectious. It made for a hugely entertaining listen and was a deserving winner of the Scottish Album of The Year award in 2017, albeit the vast majority of people in the country had never heard of them nor, with next to radio play, had heard any of the songs.

Sacred Paws had a rather quiet 18 months on the back of winning the award, with just a handful of live appearances and no new material.  Rock Action didn’t try hard to cash in on the increased profile with a re-release of earlier material and instead encouraged the duo to go about things in the way they themselves most wanted. Rachel re-located to Glasgow which meant they could spend more time writing and arranging the new material, but it did take until the end of May 2019 for the follow-up Run Around The Sun to hit the shops.

Having said that, it had been preceded by a couple of digital singles and a BBC Radio 6 session with Marc Riley, who in effect is becoming a part-replacement for John Peel in terms of providing a platform for bands to come into a studio to band out three or four songs in one go to be broadcast to the nation. I was delighted with the singles which indicated that the duo weren’t tampering with what had made them so interesting to begin with. The album proved to be a huge delight, again full of bright, sunny and infectiously happy songs that were very welcome in a year when so many events and happenings seemed to cast a long shadow.

It’s an album that I’ve found myself prone to putting on while I’m embarking on a road or rail journey, and outside the skies are dark and brooding while the rain batters off the windows – it is the perfect antidote to such situations and as I sit back and close my eyes, I’m transported thousands of miles south to where the sun is beating down and the mood and vibes are carefree. And when the last of its ten songs comes to an end after a little more than 32 minutes, I’ll hit the repeat button.”

Unsurprisingly, the duo have been quiet these past 18 or so months, but they did return to live performances in August with a show in Edinburgh, since when a few more have been announced.  With a bit of luck, there’ll be some new music to enjoy before too long.  In the meantime, here’s one song from each of their three releases:-

mp3: Sacred Paws – Try Again (from 6 Songs)
mp3: Sacred Paws – Stars (from Strike A Match)
mp3: Sacred Paws – Life’s Too Short (from Run Around The Sun)

JC

INSPIRED BY ECHORICH

Just over a week ago, I posted Pure, the debut single by The Lightning Seeds.  It went down well with most of you, and  I was particularly struck by the comment left behind by Echorich:-

Pure is a great song, but I have always been partial to Joy. Broudie’s writing partner on some of the early tracks was Lotus Eater, Peter Coyle – a genius move really. Broudie would bring on heavyweight songwriter (IMO) Terry Hall to collaborate on the brilliant Sense single and album. As an artist he was a very, very smart producer…

Which led me to dig out my lesser-played 12″ early Lightning Seeds single.

Joy was the follow-up to Pure. While the debut went to #16, the follow-up bombed to the extent it didn’t graze the Top 75. Maybe it’s not quite as immediate as Pure, but there was no reason for Joy to stiff so spectacularly, obviously not getting any radio play.

Indeed, I can’t remember it being issued as a single, only knowing the song through its inclusion on the debut album Cloudcuckooland, which I bought on CD back in 1990. It was only a couple of years ago that I came across the 12″ of Joy in a second-hand store, going for £2. I almost didn’t buy it, as one of its b-sides was also on the album, meaning it was just one new song I was getting my hands on. When I say ‘almost’, it was a thought that lasted a nano-second:-

mp3: The Lightning Seeds – Joy
mp3: The Lightning Seeds – Frenzy
mp3: The Lightning Seeds – Control The Flame

It is the last of these which is also on the album. It wasn’t the b-side to the 7″ and thus was just a way of adding to the 12″. It’s a song written solely by Peter Coyle as referenced in Echorich’s previous comment, and it is a very fine and unusual number.

Incidentally, I had forgotten that another of Cloudcuckooland’s songs was a co-composition involving Ian Broudie and another much-mentioned person on the blog:-

mp3: The Lightning Seeds – Sweet Dreams

An absolute belter of a song, and the one from the album that I have always thought would have been perfect for a single.

I bet you’re surprised to learn that it is Richard Jobson who has the co-credit.

Yup, THAT Richard Jobson of Into The Valley etc. fame.

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (61)

And an equally cracking b-side as well.

Released in June 1985 and going all the way to #8 in the charts, this is one of those records that I had on 7″ vinyl back in the day, but which would be lost with many hundreds of others after a disastrous and misguided effort to do a runner from a rented flat in Edinburgh.  It’s one that I liked, but didn’t love enough to ever go chasing any replacement, but when a 12″ copy showed up a few weeks back, I decided to take it home and give it a listen.

mp3: Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home (extended version)

I was quite bemused to find that the first minute or so is merely an extended noise before the music begins. Even then, it takes the form of an extended drum roll and some incidental music before the familiar trumpet solo eventually begins. As a result, it doesn’t feel as immediate or as sharp as the 7″ version as can be heard in this promo video which, if memory serves, was made for showing on The Tube on Channel 4:-

I was also struck by how much of the sound on the 12″ would be ripped-off by Communards for their cover of Don’t Leave Me This Way, which would go to #1 the following year.

I’d also forgotten how much I had enjoyed the b-side, re-discovering it again after such a long time:-

mp3: Fine Young Cannibals – Good Times And Bad (extended mix)

The song is credited to Andy Cox, the guitarist with FYC and who had, along with bassist David Steele, on the demise of The Beat, joined forces with vocalist Roland Gift to form this new band. But the lyric doesn’t feature Gift; instead, it is the work of Douglas Kahn, an American-born but Australian-based academic who is renowned for his writings on the use of sound in the avant-garde and experimental arts and music.

It had been back in 1980 that the then 29-year old Kahn had, through the use of a razor blade and a reel-to-reel player, created a tape called Reagan Speaks for Himself, taken from a media interview given by the then presidential candidate. All these years later, and such things are easy enough to pull together, but this was genuinely well ahead of its time, and it was released by Sub Pop on a compilation cassette in 1981 before being given away as a flexidisc with the March 1982 edition of RAW, a comic magazine from the USA.

Either way, Andy Cox was obviously aware of the work, and in adding a funky, jazzy, poptastic soundtrack, he helped to create something that was, certainly back in 1985, far from the norm.

JC

THAT RARE THING ON THIS BLOG……

……………..a recommendation for an as-yet unreleased album.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m on the receiving end of loads of e-mails on a daily basis in which I am asked, in the most polite way imaginable, if I’d care to offer up a single/album/forthcoming release from a singer or band.  More often than not, the requests come from established pluggers, with my e-mail address obviously being on a long list of those being targetted.  Sometimes, someone will reach out on the basis of what they may have previously found on the blog, more often or not through some sort of search engine.  My practice, which has been consistent going all the way back to 2006, is not to do so.  In the beginning, I would often respond to each individual e-mail, but the quantity just became too much, and now they are treated like junk mail.

The problem is that I often miss out on some things which later prove to be something of a success, with one recent example being Dry Cleaning, whose early material was certainly fired over here a couple of years back (I remember thinking it was a fine name for a band), but who were ignored.  Turns out, I’m a big fan of what they do, with the 2021 album New Long Leg being on heavy rotation, and if I’d been smart enough to have picked up those early self-released singles, then I’d have a couple of pieces of valuable vinyl.

All of which is a boring preamble as to why it is unusual that I’m giving you all a suggestion to place an order for Catastrophe Hits, the new album from Broken Chanter which will be released on Friday 29 October through the joint efforts of Olivegrove Records and Last Night From Glasgow.

A quick recap.

Broken Chanter is the name used by David MacGregor, one of the mainstays of the much missed Kid Canaveral, for his solo material.  The debut material, back in 2019, was very well received and the self-titled album, got loads of great end-of-year mentions in Scotland, paving the way for David and the musicians he had brought together for studio and touring purposes to take the place by storm in 2020.  COVID put paid to those plans, with a tour cancelled, as well as hopes to get back into the studio for a follow-up.

David spent a bit of time recording mainly instrumental material purely for digital release on Bandcamp, as well as coming up with a few merchandising ideas to keep the Broken Chanter name out there, all the while working on new material with the hope of one day getting the band back together and into the studio.

I’ll declare an interest here.  I’ve known David for the best part of a decade, and as he lives not too far away from Villain Towers on the south side of Glasgow, we’ve bumped into one another occasionally.  I’d been very keen to hear the new songs and David was kind enough, a few months ago, to share them with me knowing full well that I’d give him an honest reaction.  Here’s what I sent back to him, saying that I would use it as the basis for an album review when the time was right:-

“Given everything the world has had to face up to over the past 18 months, it surely is a stroke of genius that Broken Chanter’s new album, written and recorded under the lockdown restrictions, goes by the title of ‘Catastrophe Hits’.

It seems particularly apt given that COVID struck just as Broken Chanter were about to take full advantage of the wonderful critical and fan reaction to the debut album by undertaking their biggest ever and most ambitious set of live shows.

But if you’re expecting this sophomore effort to be a self-pitying roll call filled with tales of doom and gloom, then prepare yourself for a big surprise as Catastrophe Hits turns out to be a tremendous antidote to all of the stress, worries, concerns and heartaches we have had to endure in recent times.

And while Broken Chanter might be regarded from the outside as a vehicle for the solo talents of David McGregor, this is an album truly of a tight and very talented band of musicians, with lots of very pleasant surprises throughout.

The tone is set by the two ridiculously catchy opening numbers, ‘Dancing Skeletons’ and ‘Allow Yourself’, both of which would be hit singles if these things really mattered anymore. The latter in particular is a real joy, thanks to the call and go vocal, and harmonies, courtesy of David and Jill O’Sullivan, from the much missed Sparrow and The Workshop.

David switches to Gaelic for the mid-tempo ‘Ith Lan Do Bhith’ and while I might nor have a clue what he’s on about, I can vouch that his words are accompanied by a tune which brings back some very welcome reminders of Frightened Rabbit, particularly on their latter albums.

The quality then just keeps on coming, with ‘Extinction Event Souvenir T-Shirt’ offering a wry social commentary on modern society but with the sort of chorus that will surely lead to a mass sing-along once we can all get back to live gigs again.

‘Filaments’, a ballad at just over two minutes, is the shortest track on the album and offers the first opportunity to draw breath after such a frantic opening but just as you think it has faded out too soon, it leads perfectly into ‘A Sad Display’, a song which will bring huge delight to those who think Broken Chanter are equally as fabulous and entertaining when they do folk music.

‘So Long’ sees us back firmly on indie rock territory. It feels, to this long time fan, as being one that the bosses of the labels Olive Grove Records and Last Night From Glasgow, on which the album will be jointly released, could make the case for being the early taster for the new material, given that it is the closest to any of the songs on the debut record.

The album closes with the triumvirate of ‘Horse Island’, ‘Fast Food Parked Car’ and ‘Rubha Allain’ which capture, in microcosm, everything that makes Broken Chanter such an intriguing and enjoyable listen. The pace of things slows right down, allowing the genuine beauty in David’s voice to come to the fore while his bandmates demonstrate their own individual and collective talents; but just as you anticipate the album is going to fade away gently and leave you sighing wistfully at the outcome, the second half of the instrumental closing track speeds up and becomes the sort of music you hear as the credits run over a film that has provided an upbeat, triumphant but unexpected happy ending for the underdog, in a ‘Local Hero’ sort of way, where you find yourself smiling and simultaneously wiping away a wee tear of joy.

Catastrophe Hits? It may well have done in 2020 and 2021, but this new Broken Chanter album could well be the musical equivalent of the vaccination programme. Overdue, much needed, and a real shot in the arm.”

So there you have it, an actual TVV review of an about-to-be-released new record.  One that has been superbly produced by Paul Savage, once of The Delgados and the in-house producer at Chem 19 studios, just outside of Glasgow.

As it turned out, those in charge of these things decided to go with a different song as the lead-off single, one which was made available in digital format back in mid-August and which I’ve been giving regular airings in the build-up to matches at Stark’s Park, the home of Raith Rovers FC.

mp3: Broken Chanter – Extinction Event Souvenir T-Shirt

I’m delighted that a few fans, having heard the song, went out of their way to make a purchase.

So, if any of the above has whetted your appetite, then click here for a pre-purchase.  More about Broken Chanter can be found at this bandcamp page.

VIDEO BONUS…..

COMPETITION BONUS

Although Catastrophe Hits isn’t officially out yet, the CD version was made available to the 130 or so people who were present last week at a small venue when David, as the support act, played his first show since February 2020.

I purchased a copy of the CD with the specific intention of giving it away to one lucky TVV reader.

To be in with a chance, all you need to do is to leave behind the comment ‘Extinction Event Souvenir CD’ in response to this posting.  You can do so with those words alone or a part of any wider comment or observation.

Assuming more than one person enters, I’ll make the draw towards the end of next week.  And you can enter no matter where in the world you live, as I’ll pick up the delivery costs, even in this expensive post-Brexit world.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #297 : PINK KROSS

PINK KROSS – NOISE UP : AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM

by flimflamfan

Not since The Hook ‘n’ Pull Gang had a band made such an immediate and full-throated impression. I take that back, Glen or Glenda really knew how to grab me by the throat and did so, often. As mighty as they were their majesty paled somewhat in the shade of my new best friends, Pink Kross.

My first dalliance with The Hook ‘n’ Pull Gang was via a tv programme called FSD (Full Scale Deflection, BBC Scotland). As The Hook ‘n’ Pull Gang began I recall thinking “this is special” – it was like a jolt of primal happiness. Thankfully, I recorded the tv show and still had the VHS, which was fortunate, as it endured repeat plays as I searched without success for the single, eventually buying it 10, probably more, years later when that internet thing allowed such treasures to be unearthed.

I’m certain I’ve bored you all before about my marathon visits to The 13th Note in the early to late-90s. For anyone uncertain please email: absoluteboringnumpty@runitshim.com. I’ve attempted to write my reminiscences from memory, rather than check dates religiously – although I have asked for ‘hawners’ (broad, Glaswegian slang for help), on occasion. I apologise in advance if some dates, especially the important ones, are incorrect.

I first saw Glen or Glenda at the 13th Note and within a few minutes of them playing I was lost in their world – a psychedelic world in which Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company held court in a realm that gave birth to one Marc Bolan (not the first time I’ve made that comparison). Musically, what a fantastic trip. Much as with Mr. Bolan himself, the preening wannabe-Marc hammed it up to perfection. What a gorgeous racket.

And then into this story strides the colossus, Pink Kross.

1. Dinahmite

Imagine, if you will, me sitting in an angular armchair, in a beer-soaked dive, enveloped in the all-encompassing onslaught of Pink Kross – kind of like Peter Murphy in that Maxell advert, sans his cheek bones, musical ability or general good looks. I think the best description I can give of how I felt is … bliss. Why had nobody warned me? How had I not guessed that when the trio, based on their dress sense, took to the beer-soaked carpet-stage, they meant business – garage-punk, filthy-glamour business.

Jude, Vic and Geraldine

2. Chopper Chix (From Teenage Hell)

I’ve always had a ‘thing’ about groups that only have women in them, I’m trying not to use the reductive ‘Girl Groups’ to describe female bands. I appreciate it can prove to be good short-hand but, for me, I think it time to consign the descriptor to history. When Pink Kross finished their all-too-brief set my friend just looked at me and smiled. He knew. He knew! I’m guessing I became a wee bit incandescent with delight and began to babble about what I had just witnessed. Many others were also babbling. The venue was small and many attendees knew each other and it didn’t take long for me to be introduced to Geraldine and Vic. Jude was otherwise engaged. I have a painful memory of gushing at them before they escaped to ready-poured drinks. That was me hooked, not by a Pull Gang but by Pink Kross.

3. Scumbag

I’m all but sure I attended every Glasgow gig bar one, loving the songs I had come to know and feeling privileged to be in attendance as they unveiled new material. It was about this time that John Peel could be spotted irregularly in local Glasgow haunts. Subsequently, several bands were asked to ‘do’ sessions. In 1995 Pink Kross recorded 5 songs for a Peel Session.

4. Skinhead Pearson

Hidden Track – Abomination (Peel Session)

For personal reasons the wonderful Geraldine reluctantly decided that she would leave the band (1995, I think?). I was gutted. Selfishly, I thought this might mean the break-up of the band but I also knew that she’d be less likely to be on the ‘scene’. We were never friends, just friendly. I hold her in high regard.

5. A-Bomb Prom

Later that year Jane joined Pink Kross. This was a double-thrill for me as 1. Pink Kross would continue, and 2. Jane was someone I had know for a long time. Yippee! The band began to play live and record (with Rick Flick and one RM Hubbert at the production desk).

Vic, Jude and Jane

6. No Time For Bimbo

And this is where is gets a little silly … the band decided to film a video for A-Bomb Prom, (The Active Dalmation e.p., 1996). The venue for filming was Nice N Sleazy – (the venue area). I don’t recall receiving an invite but there I was “ready for my close-up”. Not quite. A murmur went around the venue that we could be in the video if we wanted. I chose not to and stood at the bar – my eyes affixed to something, something not quite ‘right’. Just in front of the stage sat – I’m sorry to say this – a rather ugly woman, in a garish pink, silk-ish dress and wearing an ill-fitting blonde wig. The back of the dress was low-cut allowing her to show off her back and shoulder hair to full, mesmerising effect. She turned. I could now see her in profile. That’s when it all made sense. The ugly woman in the pink dress was a he, a he who would soon become one of my closest friends. He didn’t make a convincing woman but … I suppose that was the point. It must have been the point, surely? I’ve never asked my friend if he still has the dress or wig. Somethings are better left unasked. I’ve made irregular enquiries over the years to ascertain what happened to the video. Was it ever completed? No-one I’ve spoken to has a definitive answer.

7. Do It Joseph

From the initial release on their own Bouvier Records the band continued to release new, superb singles with Glasgow labels, Teen-C Recordings (run by members of bis), Modern Independent (run by members of Urusei Yatsura) and Flotsam and Jetsam (run by members of The Amphetameanies / The Poison Sisters). They also released with non-Glasgow labels on several split 7” and numerous compilation albums. These releases included the Hacksaw e.p. (Teen-C Recordings 1997), Tension Toy (Sweet Pea Records, 1997) and Tension Toy, again (Flotsam and Jetsam.1997), as part of the Club Beatroot series (this was No. 5) and was split with The Radio Sweethearts. Club Beatroot included contributions from many of Glasgow’s music-scene luminaries of that time.

8. Mommy Is A Punker

As a live band Pink Kross really knew how to present themselves. Serious about their music they were also relaxed enough to have some fun too – something some of their contemporaries could have learned from. Often as not costumes would be worn that would raise smiles, even in ‘normal’ stage clothes the band exuded an edgy garage-punk-chic that reminded me of the playful Space Kittens and the more menacing, The Social Lepers. I’ll move on quickly before I get all gooey-eyed about The Space Kittens. Occasionally, at later gigs, Fraser (P.H. Family) would join the band for a thoroughly riotous version of Smug and I’d be in the audience, looking on, feeling lucky, elated and just a tad smug, just because I was there. In that room, at that moment. Ahhh … Pink Kross.

9. Hacksaw

In 1998 the band released the phenomenal album Chopper Chix from V.P. Hell! (Teen-C Recordings). Oh. My. Good. Goddess. 19 sublime tracks over an almost break-neck thirty-seven and a half minutes. New. Pants. Pleeeez! This was followed in 1999 by the e.p. Wanted for Dogz Dinner (Bouvier Records) which saw the band return to their familiar ‘stage’ names: Janie -C-, Vice Blue and Jude Fuzz. It seems a tragedy that this was to be the final release but a larger tragedy befell the band.

Like the sound of her very own bass reverberating news of Geraldine’s death began to echo through the ‘scene’. Most people were shocked, some upset. I was both.

I’m ashamed to say I can’t recall the year – I think it late 2000s, maybe 2008? Geraldine wasn’t someone I knew particularly well but as far as I’m concerned, she was a lovely woman and a great musician who was always very kind to me. Her son has a lot to be proud of.

10. Drag Star Racin’ Queen

In 2009 Vic, Jude and Jane played their last Pink Kross gig (as far as I’m aware) at Glasgow’s Stereo. It was a triumph. A glamorous, garage-punk, fuck you triumph.

11. Tension Toy

From time to time The Kross could be found enjoying other pursuits. I’ve added my dollops of interest, and possible distraction, below. Your views may differ?

V.P. refers to visible pantyline – or so I was told. I’m laughing as I write this as I’ve always thought that’s what V.P. stood for. Vic told me. Now I’m wondering if my leg was being pulled?

12. Supersucceeder

Vic was also a member of one of my all-time favourite bands D.P. Lé Odd who released one of my all-time favourite singles – the 7” split single with Glue: Prehumous / Posthumous. D.P. Lé Odd featured on the Prehumous side (Flotsam and Jetsam, 1995). D.P. Lé Odd was, what I referred to jokingly as, the ‘scenes’ super-group. I use this term not because they all featured in other bands but because they were most definitely super and for a very short time, a group that, despite an almost mayfly existence, appeared on a Peel playlist (Deeply Ode To Politeness, 7th July, 1996). For those with the keenest of ears, yes, that is Hubby (RM Hubbert) providing the vocal. He also provided the cough etc. on My Fist, Your Face and was (as far as I’m aware) the only band member to appear on both the a and b side of the split single – and unusually playing drums, with D. P. Lé Odd.

13. Smug

Many moons ago I cajoled D.P. Lé Odd to play live. After much deliberation it remains unclear if it was for an anti-Clause 28 gig or The Big Bang (a World AIDS Day fundraiser which spanned a few days). The year eludes me. Either way it was their only live appearance. What joy!

14. PMT

In 1996 Pink Kross refereed the split Lugworm versus bis single (Guided Missile Recordings). They featured on Pop Song by bis.

Jane was also known as Jane Strain while in Pink Kross. She was a busy bee and has been in a number of bands most notably, The Amphetameanies.

15. Dogz Dinner

16. Noise Up

My love of Pink Kross remains undiminished. I hope some of you will take time to have a wee listen and more importantly, enjoy.

To Jude, Vic, Geraldine and Jane … thank you!

17. Pussy Cat A-Go-Go

flimflamfan

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Thirty five : VENUS IN FLARES

I thought to myself that this Monday morning thing got rather serious and downbeat last week.  Here’s your antidote.

A million housewives every day
Pick up a can of beans and say:
“What an amazing example of synchronisation”

He looked out of the aeroplane
And he saw the Alps way down below
He fixed his gaze on the white terrain
And he could see a portrait in the snow
And he shouted: “Hey look down there, I can see Robert Powell”
That’s an ominous example of the power of TV

And I went la la la la la la la
La la la la la la laaa
Oh la la la la la la la
Just like everyone else does when they can’t think of any more words

Yeah OK I had a Kojak mac
By Christ they were trendy at the time
I got it into my head that I had to stamp out crime
The man behind the mask at C&A’s was quite polite
He said that when I wore my mac I wouldn’t have to fight

And I went yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah (sure George)
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah (Oh God)

Well the Grand Old Duke of York
Well, he had ten thousand men
And he marched them up to the top of the hill
And he had them all again

mp3: Half Man Half Biscuit – Venus In Flares

As first heard back in 1985, when I bought the debut album Back In The D.H.S.S.

Loved it then, love it still.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 18)

The sixteen-month period from October 1985 – December 1986 was a busy, yet reasonably stable one for the band.  They were being well-supported by Beggars Banquet and seemed to be happy with the label.  There were sell-out tours of the UK. The core of the band remained the same – Mark E Smith, Brix Smith, Craig Scanlon, Steve Hanley and Simon Rogers, with just the drummer’s chair becoming a touch on the hot side. Karl Burns left the band, again, in April 1986 shortly after a month-long tour of the USA and Canada, and was replaced, but only always on a temporary basis, by a returning Paul Hanley, proof again that even those who had left before under the darkest of clouds were always prepared to help out whenever the need arose.

But, come the summer, a new drummer, in the shape of Simon Wolsencroft, was drafted in. ‘Funky Si’, as he was commonly known, was a familiar figure in the Manchester and wider indie-scene having been a contemporary of the likes of Ian Brown, John Squire, Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke, as well as being a member of The Colourfield, the group formed by Terry Hall after the break-up of Fun Boy Three.

Over the course of the final six months of 1986, there would be three 45s and the album Bend Sinister, and while Wolsencroft drummed on most of the songs, some of the material completed prior to his arrival was issued, meaning Paul Hanley got a few final credits with the band, including the tracks on the next flop single in July, released only on 12″:-

mp3: The Fall – Living Too Late
mp3: The Fall – Hot Aftershave Bop
mp3: The Fall – Living Too Long

Have a look at the cover of the single at the top of this post, and you’ll see a man who has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.  Combine it with the downbeat nature of the lyric and the almost funerial pace of the music on the a-side, then it was no surprise that at least one interviewer thought it might be a sign that MES, with his 30th birthday just a year away, was beginning to plan some sort of exit from the music industry.  In response, he said it was really his attempt to write a song about upper-class suburbia and how pissed off folk must be about the routine and dull way it was all panning out. Not exactly the sort of things that make for a good single is it?, albeit it remains a song I still enjoy all these years later.

The b-side, Hot Aftershave Bop, is a faster-paced number  that wouldn’t sound out-of-place down at the local indie-disco, albeit not when the DJ really wants to pack the floor out. It’s more than worthy of a listen, albeit it does have an almost throwaway near-nonsensical lyric in which the song title, or a slight variant on it, appears regularly.  The extra track on the b-side, Living Too Long, is an extended yet different version of the a-side, with a lot more going on in the playing.

Fun fact 1: There was actually a limited edition 7″ promo single issued, omitting Living Too Long but offering a miniature bottle of Hot Aftershave Bop aftershave.  I’m guessing MES wouldn’t have been best pleased with the marketing folk

Fun fact 2: Living Too Late was reviewed in Smash Hits magazine, possibly the first (and last?) time that the Beggars Banquet promotional folk got a 45 into the pages of the UK’s biggest selling music weekly.  There was always a guest reviewer, who that week happened to be Samantha Fox, whose initial claim to fame had come through regular appearances on Page 3 of the tabloid papers in which there was a daily photo of a woman with her tits out, but who had, in early 1986, embarked on what would become a successful, if short-lived, career as a pop star.

Cutting-edge criticism, indeed.  MES, many years later, would look back and laugh at it all:-

“That’s as good as it got inside Smash Hits: Page 3 birds airing their views. I think it’s great, actually — better than being harangued by Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill.”

Living Too Late reached #97 but was voted in at #15 in the Peel Festive 50 at the end of 1986.

Next up……an actual appearance in the Top 75, thanks to a song that could and did pack the floor at indie-discos.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #279: RUTKOWSKI SISTERS

From the booklet with the Park Lane Archives compilation CD (2009):-

Dee and Louise began as backing sisters in Bourgie Bourgie, then shared vocals with Paul Quinn in the early Jazzateers line-up.

They formed Sunset Gun with Ross Campbell, releasing an album on CBS. They then became best known for their participation in This Mortal Coil, featuring heavily on ‘Filigree and Shadow’ and ‘Blood’ as well as Louise on the follow-up The Hope Blister

Dierdrie later worked with Eyeless In Gaza.  Louise formed The Kindness of Strangers with Craig Armstrong and both sisters remain active. This lovely rendition of Nick Drake‘s classic recorded in 1985 remained unreleased until now!

mp3: Rutkowski Sisters – Riverman

While this is the only track I have under the name of Rutkowski Sisters, there’s quite a few from their later days with the bands named above.  It won’t be too long before they make a return to this series.

JC

HANG ON TO YOUR EGO

You would be a brave person to state that Frank Black solo is better than the Pixies. He isn’t and this single is nowhere as good as the majority of the Pixies back catalogue. It is however a pretty good song, and it’s certainly worth four minutes of your life listening to it.

SWC on 22 October 2013, when offering some thoughts on Men In Black by Frank Black (and no, it wasn’t a cover of the Will Smith song).

The same words could be applied perfectly to the lead song on the one 12″ single I have in the collection:-

mp3: Frank Black – Hang On To Your Ego

If it sounds, in places, Pixies-ish, then that’ll have a lot to do with the fact that Joey Santiago is guesting on lead guitar.

I bought totally on spec back in 1993.  I wasn’t picking up too much vinyl at the particular time, so I’m guessing it must have been in a bargain bin.  I played it and thought it was a shade above OK, but then again, I was expecting something fairly sensational given how much I had loved just about every track released by his old band.  I remember being intrigued that Hang On To Your Ego had been written by Brian Wilson, but beyond that I couldn’t have offered many thoughts as Beach Boys are another of the bands from the golden era of pop music that I just haven’t ever been able to take to (and I have really, really, really tried!)

Wiki is mine and your friend:-

“I Know There’s an Answer” (alternately known as “Hang On to Your Ego”) is a song by American rock band the Beach Boys from their 1966 album Pet Sounds. Written by Brian Wilson, Terry Sachen, and Mike Love, the song was inspired by Wilson’s experience with the drug LSD and his struggle with ego death.

Wilson and Sachen wrote lyrics to the song that criticized people who abuse LSD as a form of escapism. After Love voiced objections to its drug references, Wilson allowed him to revise the message to be about finding meaning within oneself. Although the references to “ego” were eliminated, the key line “they trip through the day and waste all their thoughts at night” remained. In 1990, an earlier mix of the song, featuring the group singing alternate lyrics, was released as a bonus track on the album’s CD reissue. Cover versions of the song have been recorded by artists such as Sonic Youth and the Pixies’ Frank Black.

Wilson’s 2016 memoir briefly references this cover version, stating only that “Someone played me a song once by Frank Black. He was in the Pixies, a band I don’t know very well, and then he had some solo albums. On one of them he did a cover of ‘I Know There’s an Answer’ where he put the original lyrics back in …” In 2012, this version was ranked at number 10 on Paste magazine’s list of “The 25 Best Beach Boys Covers”

The single didn’t crack the UK charts, and I’m guessing 4AD, here in the UK, and Elektra, in the US, were bitterly disappointed given they were convinced they had a solo star in the making and had allocated substantial budgets to the recording and promotional processes. The debut album did go top 10 in the UK but flopped to #117 on the US Billboard chart. It was a sure sign that no matter the name adopted by Charles Thompson IV, he was never going to be a chart-topper.

The two b-sides on the single are instrumental cuts that weren’t included on the debut album:-

mp3: Frank Black – The Ballad of Johnny Horton
mp3: Frank Black – Surf Epic

The former is a mid-paced number, with the piano quite prominent to begin with. The latter has a title that promises much but in all truth, the only thing epic about it is the fact it is almost eleven minutes long. Neither sound like anything he had previously done with the Pixies.

JC

CALLING FROM A COUNTRY PHONE

Oops!

I didn’t mean to take five full months to make good on my promise, as a follow-up to this post on Danger In The Past, the debut solo album by Robert Forster, that I’d offer up some thought on its follow-up, Calling From A Country Phone, which originally came out in 1993, again on Beggars Banquet the long-time home of the Go-Betweens.

Again, I’ve picked up a copy thanks to it being reissued, on vinyl, by Needle Mythology in 2020, with the bonus of an additional 7″ single.

The first thing that has to be mentioned is that it is a totally different beast from the debut which had been recorded at the famous Hansa Studios in Berlin and the backing musicians were all part of The Bad Seeds.  By 1992, Robert Forster was back in Australia, living again in Brisbane with his new wife Karin Baumler.  He had a bundle of newly written songs, which he felt had a similar sort of vibe as much of the earliest material he had written for the Go-Betweens.

He decided his needs would best be met if he could return to the same small studio where it had all began in Brisbane back in the late 70s but to do so with musicians he didn’t know.  Acting on advice and a tip from an old friend who ran a record shop in the city, Robert went to a well known pub venue, the Queen’s Arms, where he saw a band called COW who also had members of another band called Custard playing with them that night.  He liked what he was hearing, and he asked if they would like to work with him to make a new album. All the musicians were at least ten years younger than him, and he had no idea if they would be compatible in the studio environment. It’s probably best, at this stage, to let Robert explain:-

It was risky and deliberate. I’d written ten songs from mid-1990 to mid-1992 in the Bavarian farmhouse where I had been living with my German wife.  Moving to Brisbane. my aim was to make a record to the exact opposite of Danger In The Past.  Why? The songs led me there, and you always have to follow the songs.

The studio…..was funky.  I hired a Hammond organ for the session and a four piece band could record together in the room. We weren’t making a huge contemporary rock record; in fact it wasn’t much like anything anyone was doing at the time. Unadorned, raw, with a cracked seventies AM radio vibe to it. Listening now, I am struck by its boldness and beauty – we really did go out on a limb.

(taken from the sleeve notes to the reissued album)

The one thing I can say is that I’m pleased I didn’t buy the album back in 1993 as I would have been quite disappointed. Almost thirty years on, and my tastes are a bit broader than before and my tolerance levels that bit higher.  Oh, and there’s also the fact that I’ve enjoyed many of the subsequent solo albums, as well as much of the material from the period when the Go-Betweens reformed, which means a lot more slack can be cut knowing better records would follow rather than worrying, as I would have back in the day, that Robert had lost it forever.

Calling From A Country Phone feels more like a collection of songs rather than an album which hangs well together.  Most of the tracks have an Americana feel to them, with pedal steel and violin often to the fore, along with that honky-tonk piano sound that I associate with scenes set in saloon bars in films or TV shows set in the Wild West.  The musicians brought on board for the album are quite clearly very good, nay excellent, at what they do, but I can’t help but feel there’s no real chemistry with Robert.

The main man perhaps has a sense of this too, mentioning further in his sleeve notes that it was unfortunate the band never got the chance to play outside of Australia and that perhaps the live experience would have better explained the record and what he was doing.

Anyways, that’s my take on it and there will likely be many folk out there who disagree strongly.  The album certainly gets a very good write-up in a number of places, with references to a gentle acoustic sound melding perfectly with the wistfully rueful vocals, as well as fine country-rockers with some typically trenchant lyrics and cinematic choruses.

Judge for yourself:-

mp3: Robert Forster – Atlanta Lie Low
mp3: Robert Forster – Falling Star

I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression, however, that I thought this purchase was a waste of money. C’mon, it’s Robert Forster and there’s a few moments on the album which could just about find themselves on an ICA of the solo material; but overall, while it’s not one I’ve had on heavy rotation since it landed in Villain Towers, it hasn’t been put in the cupboard to be completely forgotten about.

If I was to use the ratings deployed by some of the monthly music mags, it would likely be three stars;  in other words, a borderline pass.

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (60)

Sometimes, I find that pieces that have previously appeared on the blog would work perfectly for some sort of series that has been thought-up and introduced many years later.  These are my words from 17 September 2014:-

Ian Broudie was a big part of the Liverpool new wave scene in the late 1970s. A member of Big in Japan (which also featured Holly Johnson and Bill Drummond) he then formed The Original Mirrors in the early ’80s, and was credited as a member of Bette Bright and the Illuminations on their lone album from 1981.

In 1983, he formed the band Care with vocalist Paul Simpson and the duo released three outstanding singles before breaking up. Though he was a busy writer, performer and session musician through the 1980s, Broudie was much more well-known a producer, working with Echo and The Bunnymen, The Icicle Works, The Colourfield, The Pale Fountains and The Fall amongst many others, often using the pseudonym “Kingbird”.

In 1989, Broudie began recording alone under the name The Lightning Seeds – he has since said it was an experiment to see if he could cut it as a muso – and in this guise as a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer, he would achieve much success beginning with this wonderful debut single:-

mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Pure

A #16 hit in the UK, the two follow-up singles from debut LP Cloudcuckooland failed abysmally and like most folk, I reckoned that could very well have been the end of The Lightning Seeds. But two years later, he/they returned and hit the Top 30 with Sense and for much of the rest of the decade became chart regulars, picking up lots of new fans in particular after the huge success of Three Lions, the official anthem of the England football side for the Euro 96 championships.

Some later material might have been bigger hits, but I don’t think there was ever anything better than that debut single. Here’s the excellent b-sides from the 12″ copy that’s been sitting in the cupboard all these years after I picked it up for 99p in a bargain bin in Woolworth’s.

mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Fools
mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – God Help Them

JC

THE PERFECT REMINDER by CRAIG McALLISTER


A pal of mine, and of this blog, has written a book.

But not just any book.

It is called The Perfect Reminder, and it is 350 pages wholly devoted to I’ve Seen Everything, the second album recorded by Trashcan Sinatras which was released in 1993.  The book has been written and published to coincide with the remastering, repressing and reissuing of the album by Last Night From Glasgow.

LNFG is a not-for-profit label that was founded in 2016, since which time it has done a ridiculous amount of great work to promote and support some of the best new music coming out of Scotland and further afield.  More recently, the label established Past Night From Glasgow (PNFG) as a way to make it easier for fans to pick up vinyl copies of some classic albums from years gone by.  It was always a dream of LNFG founder, Ian Smith, to be able to re-release I’ve Seen Everything as it’s his favourite Scottish album ever, and having been given the green light to do so, he then turned his thoughts to create a book telling the story of the making of the album, of its songs, of its artwork and to link all this into some of the backstory of the band itself.

Ian turned to Craig McAllister and asked if he would take on the task.  Craig, as any of you have ever visited the blog/website Plain or Pan will know, is a tremendously gifted and able writer, someone who really could have made a name for himself if he’d ever looked to be a music journalist.  He’s also from the area in which the Trashies grew up and, back in the early 90s was himself a budding musician whose band had rehearsal space at Shabby Road, Kilmarnock, the very studios in which I’ve Seen Everything was mostly recorded. As such, he was around when the songs were developing from demos into fully-formed things of beauty, all of which made him the ideal person to take on the task.

As the blurb on the LNFG website states, the book features interviews with the band and the likes of Chas Smash, Pete Paphides, Gideon Coe, Emma Pollock, Roddy Hart, Eddi Reader and many more.  I happen to be one of the ‘many more’ as Craig also sought out contributions from fans, and my musings have been given over to all of Page 275.

The Perfect Reminder is an absolute gem, perfect itself in every way imaginable as it’s the sort of book that you don’t have to be a fan of the band to enjoy.  What it most certainly will do is make you want to own a copy of the album so that you can listen to what all the understandable fuss is all about.

Craig has done an incredible job in knitting it all together, ably editing down what must have been endless hours of chats with not only the five members of Trashcan Sinatras,  but also the many others involved either on the creative side of things or who were part of the supporting network/entourage in the early 90s.  Alongside the words you’ll also enjoy portraits and images, most of which have been taken by Stephanie Gibson, herself a very well-known face across the music scene in this part of the world, while the contribution of Brooklyn-based, and long-time band associate, Chris Dooley, in the design process has helped create something more akin to a piece of art rather than a mere book.

There’s so many parts of the book that I want to share with you, but in the end I’ve settled on the backstory to The Hairy Years, the last but-one track on the album, as told by its co-writer, John Douglas:-

When I was 12 or 13, the family went on a summer holiday to Pontins in Filey, a seaside holiday camp with amusements, funfairs, various sports halls and probably bars, although I was too young to notice.

I was always a sucker for twinkly lights, so as soon as I was set free from parental gazes, my savings were flung into the nearest exciting flashing lights machine, promising fun and prizes…delivering neither.

The first day ended with me knowing heart-sinking skintness, a larger than usual burden of guilt and a lingering anger at being taken for a ride. The seriousness of my situation was mainly because I knew I was on a promise to bring my Gran home a present.

My cashlessness and the frightening thought of not returning with a present for my expectant, formidable Gran became a constant time bomb ticking throughout the holiday as it slowly passed to its last day.

In desperation, I decided to nick a snow scene from the souvenir shop and, somehow, I found the nerve to do it and the skill to get away with it.

Thus, with a swipe of a souvenir, my first autonomous ‘adult’ act was committed. I did not do as I was told. I did not do as I was brought up to do. I stepped into a kind of independence…criminally so, but there we are.

A small, guilt-driven, event became a milestone. I was no longer a frightened wee boy. I was on my way to something else. As the song says…’Here began my hairy years….’

mp3: Trashcan Sinatras – The Hairy Years

The Perfect Reminder will soon be available to buy in stores and via the online markets, but you can pick it up now by clicking here for the link at the LNFG website, and at a price which is 20% cheaper than what will be the RRP.  You can also pick up a specially designed t-shirt and tote bag if you like.   Elsewhere, you can click here to purchase the album, while a good browse around the website will also show what other goodies are on offer, including membership of LNFG for 2022, which itself comes very highly recommended.

I just want to show you the way…..

JC

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Thirty Four : THAT SUMMER, AT HOME I HAD BECOME THE INVISIBLE BOY

This was very much a candidate for the ‘Cracking Debut Singles’ series, but in the end it nudged its way into the list of those songs that I want to offer the opportunity to listen to at 320kpbs, straight from the vinyl.

mp3: The Twilight Sad – That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy

It first appeared, in November 2006 on the US-only release, on CD, of a self-titled EP containing five tracks.  Here in the UK, we had to wait until early April 2007 when the band’s label, Fat Cat, issued the debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, although quite a few fans (including yours truly) had previously been able to give it a listen thanks to the EP being available in some indie record shops – whether it had come in on import or whether Fat Cat had sent out copies direct from their base in Brighton, England, I have no idea.

It was then chosen for release as a single, some two weeks after the album had appeared in the shops, via a relatively limited pressing on 7″ vinyl, with a previously unreleased track on its b-side.

More than fifteen years later, it still has the ability to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, especially when it is played live with the full band.  I never experienced the full weight of the My Bloody Valentine sonic experience, but the occasions when ‘That Summer….’ has been blasted out, particularly at the Barrowlands in Glasgow, surely must have come close.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 17)

Another song that I only picked up on a few years after its release as a single in October 1985.  My excuse being that I had graduated from university a few months previously, moving almost immediately to Edinburgh to start my first job in July 1985.  Money was tight, and much of my salary went on the rent for a room in a shared flat, albeit in a very nice part of the city.  The three of us all worked – mine was office based with regular hours, but the flatmates worked in hotels and bars, often on night shifts, which meant there was little opportunity to play records or tapes without causing a disturbance.  It proved to be the beginning of my drifting away, for the most part, from music for a few years.

I was also not yet familiar with the alternative scene in Edinburgh, and so wouldn’t know the clubs or places that would likely play The Fall or indeed any of the music I liked.  Besides, most other folk in my office (i.e 100%) were a tad more straight-laced when it came to music….something that only changed when Jacques the Kipper appeared on the scene some five years later.

Why am I telling you all this?  I suppose it is partly confessional as Cruiser’s Creek is up there as one of my favourite of all the songs written and recorded by The Fall and I really wish I had been aware of it at the time of its release, and not a few years later when I got my copy of The Fall 45 84 89 compilation. I have, however, danced to it loads of times over recent  years as I always made a request for it at the Little League nights when they used to take place, and John was always willing to indulge me.

Cruiser’s Creek is brilliant.  It’s also bonkers.

Putting the backstory together nowadays is much easier, thanks to the internet and the various fan sites devoted to The Fall, but trying to work it all out back in 1985 was a very tough task. Mark E Smith, in a contemporary interview with one of the music weeklies, said ‘it’s a party lyric with a party twist’.  I’m thinking he was referring to the utter danceability of the song, with a pacey riff and sing-along-chorus, albeit so many of the words in the verses are hard to pick out or fathom.  Reading them written down many years later and there’s confirmation that MES is having a sly dig at two of the year’s biggest happenings in the music world – Red Wedge and ZTT Records.

One of the most astonishing things to emerge in later years is that Cruiser’s Creek was the name of a library on a ship on which MES had spent time with Brix’s family after her grandparents had taken all the relatives on a fiftieth wedding anniversary cruise.  It seems that MES, in trying to escape all the fuss that was happening throughout, retreated to Cruiser’s Creek where he did some writing, seemingly using the location for the title but making the narrative about an office party.  Whether he was comparing the agonies of an office party at one of his former places of employment on Salford Docks with having to spend days at sea with the extended Salenger family, we can only make an assumption……

mp3: The Fall – Cruiser’s Creek

The version on offer today is taken from the compilation album, and it is a couple of minutes shorter than the original single, which ran to over six minutes in length, released on 7″ and 12″ vinyl, with the 7″ playing at 33 ⅓ RPM.  But never fear, I’ve the promo video to provide the full version:-

Here’s your b-sides:-

mp3: The Fall – L.A.
mp3: The Fall – Vixen

The former, which is mainly an instrumental with a few snippets of lyrics/dialogue thrown in. The tune was written by Brix, as a homage to her home city. It seems that MES leaned on the TV series TJ Hooker, starring William Shatner as a cop, for inspiration. Unusually for a Fall 45, it wasn’t a new song, as it had been one of the tracks on the album This Nation’s Saving Grace, released the previous month.

The latter, only found on the 12″, is a Brix song on which her vocal is very prominent….it becomes a Mr & Mrs Smith duet in due course….and while it’s harmless and inoffensive enough, it doesn’t stand up to repeated playings. I do wonder if any other member of the band had presented it as a tune whether it would actually have seen light of day.

Fun fact, specifically, for JTFL-Ahh.

Vixen was never played live, but seemingly a snippet of it was played by Brix during an in-store appearance by The Fall at Texas Records, 2204 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica on Saturday 23 March 1985.

Your musicians on this one were Mark E Smith (vocals), Brix Smith (guitar, vocals), Craig Scanlon (guitar), Steve Hanley (bass), Simon Rogers (bass, guitar, keyboards) and Karl Burns (drums).  John Leckie could again be found in the producer’s chair.

Cruiser’s Creek reached the giddy heights of #96 in the UK singles chart.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #278: ROTE KAPELLE

From wiki:-

Rote Kapelle were a post-punk/indie pop band from Edinburgh, Scotland, active during the 1980s. Its band members included musicians who were also members of Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes and The Shop Assistants.

The band was formed in the early 1980s by Andrew Tully (vocals) and Marguerite Vasquez-Ponte (vocals), both of whom would also form Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes, with Chris Henman (guitar), Ian Binns (keyboards, also a member of The Stayrcase), Malcolm Kergan (bass, also a member of The Thanes), and Jonathan Muir (drums).

The band’s debut release was The Big Smell Dinosaur EP in late 1985, after which they were signed by Marc Riley’s In-Tape label. Tully described the band’s sound in 1987 as a blend of noisy post-punk and anorak pop. Vasquez-Ponte was also a member of a third band, The Fizzbombs, alongside the Desperadoes’ Angus McPake and The Shop Assistants’ former drummer Ann Donald. They released two further singles and two more EP’s, one of which featured tracks from their Peel Session, before splitting when Vasquez-Ponte joined the re-formed Shop Assistants. An LP, No North Briton, was released in 1990.

I’m sure I saw Rote Kapelle play live in Edinburgh in the mid 80s, but I don’t recall ever getting round to buying any of their records.  Thankfully, they have become something of a staple across various box sets/compilations harking back to the era, and I’ve been able to acquaint myself with four of their songs, including this wonderful piece of noise from the C88 box set issued a while back by Cherry Red:-

mp3: Rote Kapelle – Fire Escape

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #296 : CINERAMA

It’s been a while since I actually came up with an ICA.  I thought it might be an idea to get one in before the blog turns 16 (Oh, and many thanks for all your kind words and wishes yesterday).

Those of you who followed the old series on the Cinerama singles back in April -June 2016 will be very familiar with much of the contents of this particular post.  I offer no apologies…..

For those who don’t know, Cinerama came into being in 1997 as a result of David Gedge deciding he wanted a different sort of sound from the guitar-pop he had been making with The Wedding Present. This new band was conceived as a duo with his girlfriend Sally Murrell with the addition of all sorts of collaborators depending on the music they came up with.  Over a six-year period there would be three studio albums and twelve singles.  There would also be eleven Peel Sessions/live performances, all of which would subsequently be gathered in one place and made available via a box set.

Lyrically, the songs remained everything that fans had come to love about TWP, while the music, once you got your head around the fact that David Gedge was now composing complicated arrangements with strings, woodwind and all sorts, was delightful and immensely enjoyable to listen to, as I hope I can prove with what this ICA (and bonus EP).

SIDE A

1. Maniac (from Va Va Voom, 1998)

The opening track from the debut album seems as good a place to start as any. Aside from David Gedge and Sally Murrell, there are a further fourteen musicians who make some sort of contribution to the album, with cellos, violins, flutes, oboes and trumpets to the fore alongside the standard guitar/bass/drums and keys. There was also a very special guest vocalist whom I’ll return to later on.

Subject wise, it’s another of the many Gedge classics about the aftermath of a relationship coming to an end.  One in which the protagonist is unable to let go, and over a lovely, almost pastoral tune, gets scarily unhinged.

2. Health and Efficiency (Peel Session, May 2001)

“Health And Efficiency isn’t exactly the catchiest of Gedge’s tunes, but it is probably his most ambitious. It proved once and for all that he was no one-trick pony.”

That was the very astute comment left behind by The Robster when I posted the single version of Health and Efficiency during that series back in 2016.  It was the ninth single and would later be used as the closing track on the third and final studio album, Torino.

I think it’s fair to say it is an epic, taking over 90 seconds of music and sampled dialogue before a very sad, reflective and ultimately depressing vocal about how time and the ageing process impacts on relationships. And just as it took ages for the lyric to begin, there’s as equally a long process involved as the tune continues and stretches out post-vocal, again with the aid of sampled dialogue, right out to almost six and a half minutes. Not for the faint of heart.

3. Lollobrigida (from Disco Valente, 2000)

By the time Cinerama had gone into the studio to record Disco Valente, their second album, they had expanded to a five-piece band with the addition of Terry de Castro (bass) and Simon Pearson (drums) who had been the rhythm section of indie-band Goya Dress, as well as Simon Cleave who had played guitar with The Wedding Present in the mid-late 90s.

There was a further connection to the old days with the decision to engage Steve Albini on production/engineering duties for Disco Valente, but anyone anticipating something akin to Seamonsters would have been sorely disappointed.  Lollobrigida was also released as a single.It starts off sounding a little bit like a quieter number by TWP, and just as you perhaps are being lulled into a false sense that it really isn’t going to go anywhere or do anything, the accordion kicks in, and it transforms itself from an ugly duckling of a tune to the most graceful swan.

And if you want some proof of how happy Davod Gedge seemed to be with his lot, then consider that here he is presenting his long-term girlfriend and muse with a song in which he compares her favourably to a famously stunning Italian actress.

4. Quick Before It Melts (single, 2002)

It’s a tale about infidelity via a one-night stand.  It is up there with the very best of the songs that David Gedge has ever composed.  I really should have kept it back for the songs which make great short stories series.

And when you said: “I’ve got nothing on beneath this dress”, that was such great flirting!
I usually find such candidness sort of disconcerting
But you said: “I don’t wear underwear because it leaves a stripe
People sneer, but do you think I care? They’re usually not my type!”

And soon we’re reeling from the beer that we keep buying
You ask me what I’m doing here and I start lying
You’re wondering what is on my mind is it a one night stand?
You laugh and say: “Baby I’m not blind!” and then you squeeze my hand

But please, let’s be quick before it melts
Please, let’s just be quick before it melts

The next thing I know we’re in the street and we’re being sleazy
You ask me if I want to eat, but I’m too uneasy
You put your hand onto the very place my girlfriend’s hand should be
You haven’t exactly got the kind of face that invites honesty

But please, let’s be quick before it melts
Please, let’s just be quick before it melts
You said: “If it feels right I just might let you sleep with me tonight
And then tomorrow, if you do go, you have my word, no-one will ever know”

An extended version was recorded and included on Torino. It consists of an extra two minutes of plaintive piano over church bells and chirping birds. I’ve often wondered if this is meant to represent the following morning when they wake up, and it becomes more than a one-night stand; or is it, perhaps, set in the future when the male protagonist is on his way to church to get married to his long-term girlfriend, but he reflects on a previous but unmentionable night of passion?

5. Love (b-side, 1998)

Cinerama announced themselves with the release of the single Kerry Kerry in July 1998.  It was issued as two separate 7″ singles and a CD single, offering up four additional songs as b-sides, all of which were every bit as wonderful as the a-side, which itself was voted in at #15 in the Peel Festive 50 at the end of the year.  I’ve long had a soft spot for this wonderfully sexy and occasionally kinky duet in which the guest vocalist is Emma Pollock of The Delgados.  It starts off with a spoken vocal, in French, before a happy couple then describe to one another just what it is that makes them fall head over heels.  Emma clearly had great fun with this one as she returned to the studio to add a vocal to one of the tracks on Va Va Voom.

6. Honey Rider (from Va Va Voom, 1998)

This side of the ICA began with the opening track from the debut album, and it ends with its closing track.  There are flashes of the Cinerama sound on this one, but it could equally have fitted well as one of the quieter numbers on a piece of vinyl released by TWP.

SIDE B

1. Wow (extended version) (from Disco Valente, 2000)

By rights, given this is another of my all-time favourite David Gedge song, this should have been placed somewhere on Side A.  It’s on this side simply for the reason that having already offered up Health and Efficiency, I wanted to separate the two lengthy numbers on the ICA.

I’ll just repeat what I said when I posted the single version back in 2016:-

“It’s another of the songs about infidelity. What I love about this lyric is how the protagonist spends the first two and half minutes detailing all the nagging doubts about cheating on his girlfriend, even as he climbs the stairs to a bedroom. And then…..

……he utters “But don’t close the door because I’m still not sure.”, after which there is a gap as he makes his mind up. A gap that is about two seconds in length…………….just long enough to let the listener know he’s feeling guilty but just short enough to let the listener know that lust has again triumphed over love.

Songwriting of the raw and brutal variety.”

The single fades out after four minutes as the guitars are reaching their crescendo.  The album version goes on for another almost three minutes during which time some brass comes in over the top of the tune, building up to what can only be described as a huge climax before bang!!!!……and a final 45 seconds to contemplate what you’ve just been party to.  Or am I reading too much into it?

2. Ears (from Va Va Voom, 1999)

Hello again Ms. Pollock.  The twisted indie antithesis of Elton John & Kiki Dee………..

3. Apres Ski (from Disco Valente, 2000)

A lot of the Cinerama material does seem to recall film soundtracks from the 60s, with the occasional nod to John Barry.

Apres Ski, the very sad tale of an older woman’s one-night stand with a younger man (possibly, and indeed most likely from her workplace), not only leans on the music from that decade but has a lyric in which said music is heavily referenced in the lyrics as a reference point for said woman.  It’s one of the cleverest of all the David Gedge compositions.

4. Superman (live version, June 2000)

Superman was the eighth single to be released by Cinerama, released in early 2001, but was already well-known to fans as one of the most popular tracks on Disco Valente which had been released the previous year.  It had also been part of a set that had been broadcast by BBC Radio 1 back in June 2000, when the five-piece band, backed by two cellists, two violinists, a flautist and a trumpeter descended on the famous Maida Vale studios and played before an invited audience, including their old friend John Peel.  Included here instead of the studio version to give an idea of how good they were in the live setting.

5. Comedienne (from Va Va Voom, 1999)
6. Careless (from Torino, 2002)

Two tracks deliberately chosen to close things off to offer up evidence that the remnants of TWP were there at the beginning of Cinerama and, by the time what proved to be the final album was being recorded, the guitars were again increasingly to the fore.

Was Careless a sign of the direction the band were going and perhaps that Cinerama had run its course? In all honesty, it’s hard to say.

It was shortly after the Torino tour that David and Sally, after a 14-year relationship, broke-up, and she took her leave of the band. During 2003 and 2004, there were further Peel Sessions and the idea was that a fourth Cinerama album would be recorded and released. In the end, almost all the songs first heard on Peel did make it into an album, but it was Take Fountain by The Wedding Present, which was released, to huge critical acclaim, on 14 February 2005.

It was tempting to include some of those Peel session songs on this ICA, but in my mind they are associated with the ‘comeback’ TWP album.

BONUS EP

TWP were famed for cover versions. Cinerama proved to be no different, coming up with all sorts of things for b-sides and/or Peel Sessions

A. Yesterday Once More (Peel Session, July 2000)
B. London (b-side, 2000)
C. Elenore (Peel Session, August 1999)
D. Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Peel Session, November 2003)

Originals by The Carpenters, The Smiths, The Turtles and Spiller (featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor). All of them turned into something akin to a Gedge original.

JC