I won’t take up too much of your time today, other than to say that if you want to spend money on any 2021 re-release, then you could do a lot worse than pick up the 25th Anniversary edition of New Adventures in Hi-Fi.

It’s still my favourite of all the R.E.M. albums and one that I’ve long coveted on vinyl, looking on in disbelief at the prices being asked on the second-hand market.

The reissued version has been remastered and issued as a double album on180-gram vinyl.  The quality is astounding, and there are places all over the album where my ears picked up things that I hadn’t previously noticed. I’m actually terrified to play it all that often, in case I do something stupid or clumsy that ends up adding some sort of imperfection to this piece of art.

mp3: R.E.M. – How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us




Video may have, allegedly, killed the radio star, but it was video that really made a star out of David Byrne, and by extension, Talking Heads, here in the UK.

The album Remain In Light had featured highly in the end of year round-ups, including #6 with NME and, #1 in Melody Maker.  The critics’ soft spot could, in an era of real snobbery about music, be attributed partly to the fact that no singles had been lifted from it.   Sire Records took the unusual decision to issue a single more than three months after the parent album had been released. It turned out to be an edited version of one of the upbeat and most accessible tracks from Remain In Light

mp3: Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

I can’t honestly remember when I first saw the promotional video.  I know that I tuned it one Thursday evening to Top of The Pops in the hope of seeing it when the single was riding reasonably high in the charts, only to be bemused by the fact that resident dance troupe Legs & Co were offering their interpretation on things.  But it must have been shown at least once on the BBC’s flagship show, or perhaps it was aired over on ITV, possibly as a segment on Kenny Everett‘s show which blended music and comedy sketches.  It certainly wasn’t on Channel 4 as it hadn’t yet begun to air, and the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1981 on BBC2 wasn’t known for airing promos, preferring live appearances, failing which the song being played to old cartoon silent films from the black and white era.

Whatever and whenever it was, the video got folk talking up and down the country, in schools, colleges and workplaces. It was, back in the day, truly ground-breaking and hugely innovative. The sight of a bespectacled man throwing weird shapes as he worked himself into a sweaty, frenzied trance as he sang the song, made for unforgettable and compelling viewing.

Once In A Lifetime was a slow burner over here.  It came in at #63 in the first week of February 1981 on the back of some radio play.  I’m guessing that some TV show aired the video that same week, as it climbed 25 places into the Top 40.  It then didn’t do all that much for the next two weeks, before it catapulted up to #14, five weeks after its release.  It hung around the Top 20 for three weeks, before drifting out of the charts after a near three-month stay.

Remain In Light, despite the love and praise showered on it by the critics, had spent just four weeks on the album chart in November 1980.  The success of the single led to a re-entry on the album charts in February 1981, and a thirteen-week stay, which was well beyond any previous amount of success.



“The Fall ended 1988 in triumphant fashion with a sold-out UK tour of larger venues than normal, including their largest ever Scottish show at the Glasgow Barrowlands on 17 December while six of the year’s songs had been voted into John Peel’s Festive 50.  But it wouldn’t be long before things unravelled.”

The final sentence of last week’s piece.

January 4 1989.  MES told Brix he was leaving her.  He moved to Edinburgh, having been driven there by Simon Wolstencroft, and within four months she was living in London, talking to lawyers about a divorce on the grounds of MES’s adultery. Musically, she began to concentrate on her own project, The Adult Net, although The Fall did get together in Cargo Studios in Rochdale in Spring 1989 to begin work on some new material, with Ian Broudie helping out on the production side.

It was in June 1989 that the next single and album appeared.  It consisted of a shortened version of one of the songs from I Am Kurious Oranj, while the b-side was a new song, credited to MES and Brix.  The two of them actually appeared on BBC TV to talk about the new music, and while there is a clear sense of unease and tension, it would have taken a real eagle-eye of casual fans to spot that they were no longer a couple.

mp3: The Fall – Cab It Up
mp3: The Fall – Dead Beat Descendent

The single had come out a week before the new album, which was called Seminal Live, which itself consisted of five studio songs on side A and five live tracks taken from gigs in Manchester and Vienna the previous year (the CD version of the album contained four additional live tracks).

Cab It Up didn’t crack the Top 75 and the reviews for Seminal Live were lukewarm, at best. The situation hadn’t been helped by a number of things.

The best of the new studio tracks was Dead Beat Descendent, but it was already available as a b-side. Of the other four songs, one was a rockabilly cover, and while two of the other songs would have made for possible b-sides of a single, the final track, Mollusc In Tyrol, must be among the most unlistenable and abstract of all Fall recordings,

MES’s head was not in a good place. Not only had his marriage dissolved, but his father, in May 1989, had died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of just fifty-nine.

Finally, MES had informed Beggars Banquet that the band was to leave the label after five years and the marketing support from the label was minimal, not helped by the fact that The Fall, understandably in the circumstances, were shying away from live shows.

It’s all a bit of a shame. Dead Beat Descendent, which really should have been the A-side of the single, is a decent, upbeat song which fits in really well with much of the previous output from the Beggars Banquet years and in normal circumstances would likely have delivered, at least, another minor hit. Cab It Up, while not being a new song, is another toe-tapper and another example of the more commercial side of the band. There’s a few electronica pop bands who would have killed for this tune…..

There were two live tracks added to the 12″ of Cab It Up. Neither were available on the vinyl version of Seminal Live but could be found on the CD version:-

mp3: The Fall – Kurious Oranj (live)
mp3: The Fall – Hit The North (live)

Having got the contractual obligations to the record label out of the way, The Fall returned to live shows in July 1989. The replacement guitarist for Brix was a huge surprise to just about everybody, with founder member Martin Bramah returning after a ten-year absence.

The question is…..would he last long enough to be involved in the band’s next studio recordings? Tune in next week…..



The Secret Goldfish were formed in Glasgow in 1994 by Katy McCullars, John Morose, Graham Lironi (later replaced on bass by Steven McSeveney) and Paul Turnbull. All of them had previously been involved variously in the local music scene for a number of years, with Katy having been lead vocalist with Fizzbombs, while Paul had drummed with Mackenzies (both of whom have previously been featured in this long-running series).

They signed to the Creeping Bent Organisation, going on to release a reasonably extensive body of work over a five-year period, consisting of three albums and twelve singles/EPs, some of which were split efforts with the likes of Nectarine No.9 and Vic Godard, as part of the Creeping Bent singles club. The band also recorded two Peel Sessions and were part of the Meltdown Festival he curated in London in 1999.

In 2016, the long period of silence came to an end, courtesy of some live shows, for which they were joined by an additional guitarist, none other than James Kirk of Orange Juice fame. A new album with ten songs – seven originals and three covers – came out on Creeping Bent in 2017.

I’ve collected a fair number of their songs via a combination of CDs and vinyl singles, and thought it would be worthwhile, particularly for those of you who aren’t familiar with their material, to listen to a few examples of their work:-

mp3: The Secret Goldfish – Venus Bonding (from Aqua Pet..You Make Me LP, 1996)
mp3: The Secret Goldfish – Give Him A Great Big Kiss (from Jet Streams LP, 1998)
mp3: The Secret Goldfish – You’re Funny ‘Bout That Aren’t You (from Mink Riots LP, 1999)
mp3: The Secret Goldfish – Amelia Star (from Petal Split LP, 2017)

The group continues to be active and just a couple of months ago provided support to an acoustic set performed by The Bluebells.



Most of today’s words come from a posting back in April 2015, along with some helpful and/or astute comments that were offered up at the time.

My first exposure to Propaganda came one night at the end of an episode of what by then was called Whistle Test, when a memorable pop promo for a song called Dr Mabuse was played out over the credits sometime around early 1984.

It turned out that this was to be the second single released on the ZTT label – the first being the amazingly successful Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I was immediately captivated by its charms – it was a big booming tune which offered something different each time you played it. Oh, and in co-vocalist Susanne Freytag, they had one of the most stunningly gorgeous women in the pop world.

The single was only a minor hit, peaking at #27, and with subsequent FGTH singles also being multi-million sellers, the relatively small ZTT had to put all its eggs into one basket, so Propaganda were left to one side for the best part of 12 months and it was April 1985 before the follow-up single Duel was released. For the rest of the year, the band enjoyed quite a high-profile, including a number of TV appearances, live gigs and the release of the debut LP A Secret Wish in July 1985.

I loved A Secret Wish. It was the sort of record I had imagined Simple Minds going onto make on the back of their earliest releases, instead of gravitating towards the stadium rock behemoths they were becoming. And it was no real surprise that the Propaganda who went out on tour featured the ex-Minds bassist Derek Forbes…..

Postpunkmonk, in response to Alex G mentioning that he had a non-standard version of the 7″ of Dr Mabuse, informed us that the single had been “a true game of chance; either the instrumental version or the vocal version was inserted randomly in sleeves and one wouldn’t know one’s fate until the disc was played.”

I don’t have a copy of the 7″, so once again will offer up two of the tracks from the 12″:-

mp3: Propaganda – Das Testaments Des Mabuse
mp3: Propaganda – Femme Fatale (The Woman With The Orchid)

I’ll leave the last word(s) to Echorich:-

Propaganda was, in my mind, the greatest achievement of ZTT. Dr. Mabuse is a single that, more than any other, exemplifies the label’s mission statement. It was a crystal production, had literary influence and strove to be post modern pop. A Secret Wish would build on this in an explosive way. Nothing else ZTT released ever had the same impact on me as this single and debut album.



PJ Harvey can pick up the guitar and rock with the very best of them.  She can also sit down at a piano and compose ballads as well as anyone.

Both of these sides can be found on a rare 7″ single from October 2001.

mp3: PJ Harvey – This Is Love
mp3: PJ Harvey – Angelene (taken from Lamacq Live)

Punk blues with more than a hint of lust is as good a description as any for the a-side, the third and final single from the album Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, released in 2000. It peaked just outside the Top 40, as had also been the case with Good Fortune and A Place Called Home.

The single was primarily made available on CD, but a 7″ single was pressed in a fairly small number, which nowadays fetches upwards of £30 on the second-hand market. And no, I don’t have a copy, but I have been able to locate a digital version of this particular b-side, exclusive to the 7″, which was originally broadcast on the Steve Lamacq Show on BBC Radio 1 in January 2001.  The original version of Angelene can be found on the 1998 album, Is This Desire?



This week’s suggestion is a book.  And it’ll lead on to a suggestion of two further books.

One of the many links that I suggest worth exploring under the heading ‘Blogroll of Honour’ is Vivonzeureux!, a wonderfully diverse and entertaining blog under the direction of Pol Dodu.

I didn’t cotton on to the fact, until a few weeks ago, that Pol Dodu is none other than JC Brouchard, a truly legendary figure in the independent music scene not only in his homeland of France, but also here in the UK thanks to his relationship and exploits with the early era of Creation Records, and in particular The Television Personalities.  Up until just about now, I had assumed they were friends who collaborated on the contents of Vivonzeruex!.

JC B (as I will refer to him from now on) has contacted me on a few occasions over the years, offering words of encouragement for TVV; he has also left behind the occasional comment after some posts.  He got in touch last month:-

Hello JC,

I hope you are doing well.

I was trying to count, but I know I’ve been following, reading and downloading from your blog for quite a number of years now.

It’s not just that you are my Scottish namesake, but we have about the same age and a lot of tastes in common…! And I find your posts really interesting.

As a thank you, I’d like to send you the three little books I’ve published in English, about Felt, Television Personalities and Jonathan Richman.

Could you give me your postal address ?

All the best,
JC Brouchard

The email also said that the books, as well as being available in printed form, were available as free downloads.  I followed the links and saw that all three books could also be bought abd posted anywhere in the world, and while I really appreciated the offer of free copies, I really prefer to do my best to support anyone involved in the creative arts, and so before replying to JC B, I put in, and paid for an order for all three of them.

A small exchange of e-mails followed, including JC B thanking me profusely for the purchase, and a promise that he would include a few extras in the package.  He was as good as his word, and the CDs he added will likely form a couple of blog postings come 2022.  He included a lovely handwritten note and each of the books came with a personal inscription.

His newest book is Our Time Is Now, which was printed and published earlier this year.  It is a wonderfully informative and entertaining collection of essays covering 50 songs released by Jonathan Richman, from as far back as 1975 all the way through to 2020.  Some choices are obvious, but most are not.  JC B has translated his own original words from French into English.

He similarly did the same back in 2011 with Felt : Ballad of The Fan and again in 2017 with Television Personalities : Diary of A Young Fan.

All three books are great reads.  They aren’t what you would call epics. The books on Felt and Television Personalities are the shape and dimensions of a travel guide, and each extend to around 120 pages.  The Jonathan Richman book is the size of an A5 publication, and runs to 96 pages including its glossy cover.  They are all the work not only of a true fan, but someone who was able to become friends and confidantes of all three of the subject matters and many others in and around the various scenes.

It has to be said that there are occasions when the translation doesn’t quite make complete sense, and sometimes the editing efforts have left behind a mix of the English and French languages, but if anything this only adds to their charm, and certainly isn’t too much of a distraction; not does it lessen the impact of JC’s many thoughts, views and observations.

I was particularly taken by the book on Felt, a band that I have long admired without ever getting to know that much about.  I don’t have too much of their output on vinyl, with most of what I have on the hard drive coming from their inclusion on compilation albums as well as two compilations released by Cherry Red and Creation Records back in the 90s.  I’ve long wanted to do an ICA but never had the confidence as my gaps in knowledge were immense.  JC B doesn’t shirk things in the book, making the point that some of the musical decisions throughout were akin to commercial sabotage, deliberately undertaken, and that many of the band’s best and most accessible compositions have been tucked away in obscure places. The book also devotes chapters to Denim and Go Kart Mozart, the later bands fronted by the enigmatic Lawrence.

So, here’s the thing.  JC B is quite open to anyone downloading digital copies of all three of his books, and is happy for me to provide these links:-

You’ll see that the option is still there to make a physical purchase of each of them.  They cost no more than 14 or 15 Euro, including postage, and will make for a great and unusual gift to yourself or a friend who likes this sort of music:-

mp3: Felt – Ballad of The Band
mp3: The Television Personalities – Part Time Punks
mp3: Jonathan Richman – Morning Of Our Lives (live)

And of course, with the option of the download available, you really can try before you buy.

There’ll be one more Christmas recommendation this time next week, but given by then we will be just about into December, it’s almost too late to make any further suggestions to impact on your wish lists.




It was earlier this month that myself and Rachel made our way over to the o2 Academy in Glasgow to take in the first night of the Soft Cell tour commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the release of Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.

There were a touch of pre-gig nerves in that it was the largest gathering we’d been to since the COVID restrictions were eased.  There was also a worry that maybe, after all these years, Marc Almond (64) and Dave Ball (62) might not be able to cut it in the same way.  The latter was partly driven by a fear of later regretting the fact that so much had been spent on the tickets….the face value was £60, which was for the standing section, and allied to booking and admin fees, the cost had been over £140 the pair, which is the most I’ve ever paid for any gig by one act.

I’ll cut to the chase.  The night was an absolute joy from start to end, and I’m willing to say it’s likely found its way into my Top 10 of all time gigs, that is, if I kept such a list!

The duo, accompanied by the imperious Gary Barnacle on sax, along with four backing singers, took to the stage at 7.45pm.  They played for about 70 minutes and then took a 30-minute break, after which they played for another hour.  So, no grumbles about their ability to cut it.

Opening with a rousing rendition of Torch, and thus immediately setting the stage for how important the saxophonist would be throughout proceedings, the first set was initially dominated by songs which will be coming out in Spring 2022 when a new album, Happiness Not Included, is finally released.  A lack of familiarity with the new material didn’t detract from the show, with many of the tunes packing a real punch, proving that Dave Ball still has the touch of genius about him.

Lyrically, with the points driven home by the stunning accompanying visuals, Marc Almond sings of living in something of a fucked up world, with fingers pointed at the failing politicians and greedy, uncaring capitalists for letting the science fiction dreams of the 70s turn into something of a nightmare.  It was loud, it was heavy and it was hugely enjoyable, but these veterans know that a show filled with new material can make for a restless audience, and before long, we were treated to some of the best tracks from the vastly underrated 1983 album The Art Of Falling Apart, with the title track being followed by a genuinely epic and bombastic rendition of Martin, the song they sort of threw away by only offering it on a bonus disc that came to early buyer, and which closed the first show of the evening.

We aren’t as young as we used to be, and the audience, as much as the band, needed a break after Martin, as much to get our voices back after the extended cheers and applause that accompanied it.  The stage crew got busy adjusting some of the screens that were being used for the visuals while a packed but respectful audience (there were more wearing facemasks than I had anticipated) waited patiently for the second show of the evening, knowing fine well what was coming thanks to the powers of social media.

It was to be a run-through, in the order in which it can be found on the album, of Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.  It meant that big hit single/cover version would be aired early on.  It meant also that Glasgow would be the venue that Entertain Me and Secret Life would be played by Soft Cell for the very first time, all these years on.  It also meant the show would close with Say Hello Wave Goodbye.

The lack of surprises did not make the excitement and energy any the less.  The opening one-two of Frustration/Tainted Love almost brought the roof down, such was the enthusiastic response of the audience, but even that didn’t come close to the reaction to Sex Dwarf.  I was a bit sceptical beforehand about this one….it’s a song that is of its day and I was uncomfortable that it was going to be sung by someone who is now old enough to have a free bus pass; throw in the revelations in recent years of some now infamous folk from music and the entertainment world being revealed as predators, made me fear would come across as shady and seedy

I needn’t have worried.  Marc Almond had been in fine voice throughout the evening, much better than I think even any of his most dedicated fans could have asked for.  But, and with the help of his four backing singers and the manic playing of messrs Ball and Barnacle, he went for it in the same way that the star of any opera would when they came to the aria which is most anticipated.  It was delivered with sense of fun, joy and sauciness rather than any creepy or leery way. The photo above was taken on my phone during the song, and hopefully it shows how much a part the visuals played on the night, but it also gives a hint of the glint in the eye of Marc Almond as he gave what felt like the performance of a lifetime.

The other pleasant surprise was that Bedsitter was extended to include the parts on the 12″ single that didn’t make the cut on the album, and the cheers and applause at the end were an indication of how well it had gone down.   It had been another song in which the accompanying visuals were incredible, consisting of central but not touristy London, in the pouring rain, as seen through the eyes of someone who is making their way home, somewhat lost, unsure and hesitant.

Secret Life was well received before the crowning glory of Say Hello Wave Goodbye, turned into a massed and emotional sing-along.  Only the smoking ban, and thus folk no longer carrying them, prevented 2,000 folk getting out the lighters and holding them above their heads…believe me, some of the audience were reduced to tears, no doubt thinking back to how they had lived their lives these past 40 years thinking of the broken hearts, suffered and delivered, along the way.

An encore, consisting of a new song, followed by the bleeps and electronica of early single Memorobila, brought an unbelievable night to an end.  It’s not often both myself and the missus come away from gigs in full agreement, but we both knew we had seen and been part of something very special.

mp3: Soft Cell – Torch
mp3: Soft Cell – The Art Of Falling Apart
mp3: Soft Cell – Bedsitter (12″ version)
mp3: Soft Cell – Say Hello Wave Goodbye (album version)

One of the professional writers reviewed the Soft Cell gig in Manchester a couple of nights after Glasgow. There was a wonderful summary:-

This show has been a real triumph, an almost perfect combination of vocal prowess, musical dexterity and visual choreography. Sometimes you emerge from heritage anniversary gigs wishing you’d witnessed the music when it was conceived. Tonight proves this isn’t always the case. We’ve been treated to a great body of songs, that have not only stood the test of time but live, have seen their impact enhanced by current technology and visuals.




This is the song that I will most likely close the blog down with as and when that day eventually comes.

mp3: British Electrical Foundation, featuring Billy Mackenzie – It’s Over

It’s the closing track from the 1982 compilation Music of Quality and Distinction Volume One. The album was the work of British Electric Foundation (B.E.F.) who, in effect, were Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, the two blokes who had been booted out of The Human League but would go on to enjoy huge success with Heaven 17.

Penthouse and Pavement had been a hit album for their band in 1981 and their label Virgin Records afforded them the luxury of a vanity project that was recorded and released in 1982. The idea was to bring in a series of guest artists to perform cover versions in a style more akin to the new electric music of the 80s.  I’ve previously written extensively about the album, some four years ago. Click here for a refresh if you’re so inclined.

I know that Billy Mackenzie isn’t to everyone’s taste, (hi Jonny!!), but my love for him is well documented. His take on the Roy Orbison classic, which was a #1 hit in the UK in June 1964, is one of his finest vocal studio performances. B.E.F. threw the kitchen sink at it, with cellos, harps, violins, french horns, castanets and timpanis all high in the mix, not forgetting too that John Foxx strummed the acoustic guitar while Hank Marvin did his bit on the electric guitar, and Billy responded in the best possible way.

Roy Orbison himself went on record as saying he thought it was a majestic effort by all concerned.

Play this one loud…..and listen to it preferably through speakers rather than your laptop or mobile phone.



I mentioned last week how The Fall had kicked off 1988 with the release of Victoria, a cover of a song by The Kinks.  A few weeks later, a new album, The Frenz Experiment hit the shops.  Unusually for a Fall album, the earlier single could be found among its ten tracks, as too could a 30-odd second excerpt of Guest Informant, which had been one of the b-sides to Victoria. This meant just eight new songs on a record that seems to divide fans and critics, not to mention band members, with Simon Wolstencroft describing it as ‘a real mixed bag of songs with some half-baked ideas’, while Marcia Schofield feels ‘it doesn’t have as much of an edge as other Fall albums.’

Next up was something I really should have got myself along to, especially as it happened in the city I was living in at the time.

I Am Curious, Orange was a ballet devised and produced by Michael Clark which had its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival on 15 August 1988. It was based on the events exactly 300 years earlier, when the Catholic King James II was overthrown and replaced by his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange. It was a typically flamboyant, extravagant and wild production that everyone now expected from Michael Clark and his troupe. It was performed for six nights at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh, a building which is quite close to Coasters, a more traditional gig venue where The Fall had performed back in 1985.  The ballet would then transfer to Sadler’s Wells in London on 20 September 1988 for a three-week run.  The Fall provided the live soundtrack on each occasion and in due course released the album, I Am Kurious Oranj, in effect the soundtrack to the ballet, with some songs recorded live during the Edinburgh run while others were recorded in the studio with Ian Broudie in the producer’s chair.

There were certain elements of the album which captured this period of The Fall at the top of their game, not least Big New Prinz, a radical re-working of Hip Priest complete with a glam rock soundtrack. There’s also a take on Jerusalem, the popular hymn written by William Blake in the early 1800s, with MES updating the lyrics to have a go at the modern-day government.

It was the government’s fault
It was the fault of the government
I was very let down with the budget
I was expecting a one million quid handout
I was very disappointed
It was the government’s fault
It was the fault of the government

The album contained ballads, more glam rock, weird electronica, some pop and of course many songs which could only be the work of The Fall.

Brix Smith would later look back on the ballet and album as the pinnacle of her creative world, thanks to the mix of high art, ballet, history, rock music, surrealism, performance art and fashion, all this despite that fact she was well aware that her marriage was disintegrating and that it was only a matter of time before she would no longer be part of the group.

Beggars Banquet wanted something else from the album and so the decision was taken to release a limited numbered edition single of 15,000 copies of a 7″ box set and, in a first for The Fall, a CD single; in fact it was a double 3″ CD housed in a numbered limited edition of 4,000 in a distinct orange box.

mp3: The Fall – Jerusalem
mp3: The Fall – Acid Priest 2088
mp3: The Fall – Big New Prinz
mp3: The Fall – Wrong Place, Right Time No.2

The album version of Jerusalem had been segued onto an original MES composition called Dog Is Life, and ran to over eight minutes in length. For the single, Dog Is Life was removed entirely, while the MES/Blake co-composition was edited to make it a bit more palatable for radio play.

Acid Priest 2088 is a dance remix (of sorts) of Big New Prinz, which, as I mentioned earlier, is itself a stunning remake of Hip Priest, and as far as I’m concerned is up there as one of the very finest moments in the band’s history. It should have been a huge hit….

Wrong Place, Right Time No.2 is a different mix of one of the tracks to be found on I Am Kurious Oranj, and I’m assuming was chosen for the single release given it’s another upbeat almost glam rock composition which might have somehow convinced anyone not otherwise familiar with the group that this was typical of their wider output.

Despite the limited edition nature of the release, Jerusalem/Big New Prinz entered the charts at the end of November 1988 at #70, before climbing eleven places the following week. The Fall ended 1988 in triumphant fashion with a sold-out UK tour of larger venues than normal, including their largest ever Scottish show at the Glasgow Barrowlands on 17 December while six of the year’s songs had been voted into John Peel’s Festive 50.  But it wouldn’t be long before things unravelled.



The Second Hand Marching Band was a band of many people from Glasgow and Edinburgh and thereabouts who played untraditional big band folk music with brass, woodwind, guitars, mandolins, ukuleles and accordions.  The ensemble formed in 2007 and were around until 2016, although there was a coming together for one night only and a final gig in December 2018.  Over the years, the best part of 30 musicians passed through the ranks, almost all of whom were part of one band or another in the Scottish indie/folk scene.

During their time, there were a total of eight releases as singles, EPs, albums or compilations.  I’ve two of the EPs in the collection that I’m sure I picked up out of curiosity more than anything after seeing them play live as part of one of those evenings where musicians raise monies for a good cause. This is the title track from one of them:-

mp3: The Second Hand Marching Band – A Dance To Half Death

I know they won’t be to everyone’s taste, but here’s something you might want to look into.

The band has made its entire digital discography back catalogue available at bandcamp for the ridiculously low price of £1.55.  I think the plan had been to make it completely free, but I think there has to be something charged to support hosting and admin fees.  Eight releases, with some seventy or so pieces of music including demos, live recordings, session versions as well as the tracks recorded professionally in a studio, for a bargain price.   Click here for more info.



Bloc Party came about after two friends, Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack were inspired to form a band after attending the Reading Festival in August 1999. Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong would join later after answering adverts in the NME and auditioning. The story is that they got their big break in 2003 when singer Okereke went along to a gig in London and handed a copy of their demo to Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand and also to BBC Radio 1 DJ, Steve Lamacq.

A couple of early efforts came out on small independent labels before the band signed to Wichita, a London-based label which was very much at the forefront of this seemingly sudden reignition of interest in guitar-led indie music. 2004 saw the band grow in popularity, thanks to a number of single and EP releases, as well as extensive touring. The debut album, Silent Alarm, was released in February 2005 and was a huge success, hitting #3 in the UK, going on to sell more than half a million copies and spending the best part of 60 weeks in the Top 100, thanks in part to a run of hit singles, including new songs which were then added to a re-released and expanded version of the CD album.

mp3: Bloc Party – Helicopter
mp3: Bloc Party – So Here We Are
mp3: Bloc Party – Banquet
mp3: Bloc Party – Two More Years

All great stuff if you want my take on things. It had been quite a while since I last listened to this album prior to pulling this post together. I had forgotten just how well it maintained a high standard throughout.



About three weeks ago I was out running and as usual the iPod was my companion for that run. I was about halfway round my 5-mile loop, just before I get to this hill that I call James’ Hill. It’s called that because my mate James lives at the bottom of the hill. Anyway, it’s one of those hills that you can barely walk up, let alone run up, and every time I do this particular run I try and get a little bit closer to the top before I stop, wipe the sweat from my forehead, swear and walk the last bit (which is most of it).

So there I am puffing away, my run turning more into a stagger and then a walk and finally a complete stop, I’m about 100m or so from the top, closer than I expected to be honest. I stand there, catching my breath, my back is pointing up the hill and I look down and across the valley that I have just run through, it’s literally a breathtaking view.

About ten seconds later a song comes on the iPod. It was this in fact.

mp3: Working Mens Club – Valleys

Now…three years I would have sprinted all the way home and written a pithy little piece on my music blog about the amazing ability that iPods have to come up with the right song at the right time – but this time I just smiled and jogged home and thought about how brilliant the song was (and it is amazing by the way).

But…that itch was back.

The next day I was making some onion soup in the kitchen and the radio was idly playing away in the background and this came on

mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Norman 3

I stood there stirring gently, so not to spoil the onions too much, and that little lightbulb came on in my head. That’s two great songs by bands with ‘Club’ in their names that I have heard recently, there’s a series in this I’m sure I think, and there is – well until I get to this lot at least.

mp3: New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream

I reached for a pen and write the words “Club Music” down on the back of a school letter and then return to my onion soup.

That itch wasn’t going away.

The next day a mate messages me with a band recommendation, a band called Rome, who, if you are interested, sound a lot like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I’d post something by them but I don’t own anything by them (yet). I message him back, “Best Band with A City in their Name..?”

A few messages later – we haven’t decided but I have discovered how great this lot are

mp3: Vancouver Sleep Clinic – Collapse

The back of the school letter now has a list of two ideas and within twenty minutes it becomes a list of four with “Numberwang” and “Overrated” scrawled underneath the first two and then I stop and I draw a line through them all and feel a bit daft.

Enter Mrs SWC, she has I think been watching me from the lounge, with hawk like interest. I tell her I am thinking about blogging again, but it feels wrong without Tim helping me. It’s a bit like Jam Roly Poly without the custard, I tell her, largely because I am pretending to look at a recipe of Jam Roly Poly.

She looks at me and hands me her iPad it is showing a BBC item about Phil Collins and how he has reshot the photography on all his ‘classic’ solo albums – you know the ones – where just his face is visible against a plain backdrop.

“No Badger Required” she says….

No Badger Required goes live from 21st November, please check it out. There will be music, stories, and the occasional recipe (perhaps).

Thanks for Reading



I’ve a funny feeling that Long Leg, the debut album released by Dry Cleaning back in April 2021, will feature in many end-of-year round-ups across all sorts of media.

Consisting of vocalist Florence Shaw, guitarist Tom Dowse, bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton, they formed in London in 2018.  Within a year, they were being mentioned in dispatches across many blogs and websites, with musical comparisons being made to many of the very best of the post-punk groups such as Wire, Magazine and Joy Division, while an  NME feature in late 2019, on the back of a debut EP, name checked more recent groups such as Sleaford Mods and Art Brut. American reviews have cited heavier influences such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.

All the reviews, no matter who was being cross-referenced in terms of the music, would unsurprisingly home in on the vocal delivery, much of which consists of spoken word rather than singing, pointing out how Florence Shaw seemed to calmly and almost dispassionately recite monologues, often of a personal nature as if being read from a diary, in a way that made Dry Cleaning stand apart from most emerging indie guitar bands. And while the idea of a frontwoman talking rather than singing isn’t an entirely new one – think Flying Lizards back in the 80s, Lydia Lunch and the times when the great Grace Jones has done similar – it does require a certain amount of style and chutzpah to really pull it off.

I think it has to be pointed out, certainly as far as I’m concerned, that Dry Cleaning would still be an interesting band to listen to, even if there was a more conventional front person, as the music is catchy and rhythmic, packed with hooks and riffs that will have your toes tapping and your head nodding in appreciation.

But there is no getting away from the fact that the unconventional nature of the lyrical delivery is what truly elevates the band above their peers. She sounds, to steal a phrase from the t-shirt band era, ‘Cool As Fuck’, at times very dismissive of the mundane world that surrounds her, in a style not all different from Jarvis Cocker. Whether it all has the capacity to sustain things over an extended period remains to be seen, but for now, getting your hands on a copy of Long Leg, if you haven’t done so already, is well worth it.

mp3: Dry Cleaning – Scratchcard Lanyard

As with Hadda Be, last week’s Xmas recommendation, the record was produced by John Parish, long known for his work with PJ Harvey, and who more often than not 100% guarantees a wonderfully made record.  It was released by 4AD Records and should be available in all your half-decent indie stores wherever you live. Failing that, you can click here to be taken to the official website and spend your money that way. I can vouch that the yellow vinyl is very pretty to look at as it rotates on the turntable here at Villain Towers.

Oh, and that unexpected but welcome news I trailed yesterday……I’m not quite cleared to go public.  Should be good to go in 24 hours.



It’s not been easy supporting the Scotland team these past 20-odd years.  Growing up, I was accustomed to a limited amount of success in that we qualified for the finals of the World Cup in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1996, 1990 and 1998.  OK, once we got there, we never really acquitted ourselves and were always among the first teams to be knocked out at the initial group stages, but just being involved made for exciting summers.

We’ve not come close to getting to any Finals since 1998. Indeed, there have been a number of humiliations and far too many low points along the way ever since.

There was, when the qualifying draw was made for the 2022 World Cup, more hope than normal on account of us having improved under manager Steve Clarke and from being put in a group where we had a chance of at least finishing runners-up in.  But then, the football matches got under way and the hope evaporated.  The first fove games, played in March and September 2021 were very uninspiring.  We drew at home against Austria and away in Israel, our main rivals in the group, and while the defeat away to Denmark wasn’t unexpected, the manner of it – a 4-0 thrashing – was a horrible watch.  Yes, we had eked out home wins against the Faroe Islands and Moldova, the two minnows in our group, but we now had to more than likely win all remaining five matches to have any hope of realising the dream.

On 7 September 2021, we pulled off a surprise 1-0 win in Vienna, thanks to a goal from a penalty awarded after a debatable VAR review, seriously putting a dent in the hopes of the Austrians.

On 9 October 2021, we scored a goal in the fourth minute of added-on time at the end of the match to somehow snatch a 3-2 win at home to Israel.

On 12 October 2021, it almost came horribly unstuck, but a goal in the 86th minute saw us eke out a necessary three points in the Faroes.

The Danes were continuing to do us favours by winning their matches against Austria and Israel, and all of a sudden a path to qualification was open.

On 12 November 2021, we travelled to Moldova where a fine performance resulted in a 2-0 win, meaning we had secured second place in the group and a shot at glory.

Last night we played our final qualifying match against Denmark, a side that had breezed through its previous nine games, winning them all and indeed only conceding one goal along the way.  Anything other than a win would have meant our next step would be an away match, in March 2022, against one of the other runners-up with a better record than us, most likely against a side that was far higher than us in the world rankings.

Last night, Scotland beat Denmark by two goals to nil.  It’s undeniably our best and most important win in a generation.  Twelve teams will be involved in the next stage of the qualifying process, and last night’s win means we are guaranteed a home match, and unless we are terribly unlucky with the draw, we should be playing against a side who we can beat.  Do that, and we get down to the final six, with one more match to be won if we are to get to the finals.  The draw is next week……

There was a lot of post-match adrenalin, and I decided that it would best be served by pulling together, for the first time in a couple of years, a new one-take 60-minute mixtape.  I hope it meets with your approval.

mp3: Various Artists – Just Maybe…


Look At The Sky – Sons of the Descent
Ex Stasi Spy – Luke Haines
One Piece At A Time – Michelle Shocked
Fiery Jack – The Fall
Blues For Ceausescu – Fatima Mansions
Get Up – Sleater-Kinney
Firestarter – The Prodigy
Born Free – M.I.A.
Radio Free Europe – R.E.M.
I Sold My Soul On E-Bay – Swansea Sound
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Blue Boy – Orange Juice
Take The Skinheads Bowling – Camper Van Beethoven
Definitive Gaze – Magazine
Hey Heartbreaker – Dream Wife
Go Wild In The Country (12″ version) – Bow Wow Wow

Some you’ll know, while others may well be new to you. It’s well worth a listen, even if I say so myself.  And Taylor Swift straight into Orange Juice works perfectly.

Tune in tomorrow for some unexpected but welcome news.



Ripped direct from the vinyl, and inspired by the recent trip to Manchester and seeing a copy of the sleeve as part of the exhibition.  With it being Fact 50, it was, in effect, the final artefact, on display.

mp3: New Order – Dreams Never End

The opening track on the debut album, released to a fair degree of indifference, on 13 November 1981.  Much of the criticism, from the journos and fans alike, stemmed from the fact that it sort of felt like an album of Joy Division demos but without Ian Curtis‘s voice to bring it any distinction. It was, I am willing to say, the view I held back in the day and I didn’t play the album all that often for a long time.

Dreams Never End was the only track to feature the guitar/bass/drums sound, with the rest relying heavily on keyboards.  Little did we know that this was the road New Order would look to go down, and it is fair to say that Movement is now regarded with a great more affection than at the time of its release, providing many pointers for what was to follow. This is, I am willing to say, the view I now also hold, and having played the album a fair bit over time, it has picked up the odd click along the way…..there’s a particularly noticeable one in the early part of this song.

The vocals are courtesy of Peter Hook, something which caused a bit of confusion the other week among some of the younger folk at Little League who weren’t aware of the song, with it having never been released as a single and something of a cult favourite.  One person actually thought I was at the wind-up when i said it was New Order on the basis that Barney’s voice was never as deep as was coming out through the speakers.

It’s also worth mentioning that the band weren’t happy with how Movement was finished off in the studio by Martin Hannett, with everyone feeling his work was being impaired by his increasing dependence on drink and drugs.  Nobody, however, felt confident enough to challenge him in the studio, but subsequent singles and albums would end up being self-produced.



1987 had come and gone, very unusually, without The Fall releasing an album, albeit much of the year had been spent in the studio writing and recording what would be released as The Frenz Experiment in February 1988.  Prior to that, the new year began with a very early release, on 11 January, of a new single, and once again there were a number of formats – 7″, 12″, 7″ box (with a badge and lyric sheets) and cassette.  The good thing, unlike Hit The North, was that is that fans didn’t have to get all the formats to obtain all the new songs, with it being the more traditional 2 tracks on the 7″ and the 7″ box, while 4 tracks were available on the 12″ and cassette.

mp3: The Fall – Victoria

I’ll cut to the chase.  I think the Fall’s cover of Victoria, a minor hit single for The Kinks back in 1966, is a tame and mundane effort, albeit the band sound as if they enjoyed how it turned out, with Simon Rogers again on production duties.  The fact it was also very much a part of the live set lists, is an indication that it was something everyone – MES, Brix, Craig, Steve, Marcia and Funky Si – were happy with.  It reached #35 in the UK singles charts, and thus continued the strange situation whereby covers brought hits, but originals seemed to flop.

But what of your b-sides?

mp3: The Fall – Tuff Life Booogie
mp3: The Fall – Guest Informant
mp3: The Fall – Twister

Tuff Life Booogie is common to the 7″ and 12″. It is one of the most accessible and almost pop-like tunes ever recorded by The Fall, and while the lyric back in 1988 would have probably seemed strange and rambling, in later years you can piece together some subsequent details and facts to conclude that it was MES having a dig at his wife. Nobody knew back then that their relationship was on the wane, nor that she was unhappy living in what she considered to be squalid conditions in the north-west of England. Her dream of becoming a bona-fide pop star was fading with each passing month, no matter how much the critics loved the band.

Talking of Brix, hers is the first voice you hear on the brilliantly bonkers rocker of a tune, Guest Informant. It’s nearly six minutes long, and the first 60 seconds are taken up with the chant of “Bahzhdad State Cog-Analyst”.….well, that was the lyric written down by MES within the script for the Hey! Luciani play, with the song being part of the show every night. Brix, on the other hand, has long said she was chanting ‘Baghdad State Cog-Analyst……

Whatever the chant is, there can surely be no argument that Guest Informant is another great example of the way The Fall offered a quite unique post-punk take on rockabilly.

Twister is another longer song, extending to five minutes in length. There are a number of tempo changes throughout, and it veers occasionally towards the sort of chin-stroking artistic musical nonsense that I can’t be bothered with. It’s not among my favourite of the band’s songs. And while an earlier version was recorded for a Peel session in May 1987, it was never part of the band’s live shows at any time, so maybe MES also got bored with it quickly.

Tune in next week for the first Fall single to be released on CD. You won’t regret it.  But before then….a PS to last week’s posting on Hit The North.

A huge thanks to those of you who got in touch and who attached files with the songs missed out last week.  Some of you sent me Part 2, sourcing it from various places where it has been described as such, but in fact it was actually Part 3 as found on the 12″ single.  The easiest thing to do is actually use the files sent over by Joe via the 5 albums CD box set, issued by Beggars Banquet in 2013.  Part 2, as below, has a slightly different opening than any other version, and it also comes in some 15 seconds longer than Part 3 (which is sometimes mixed up with Part 2)

mp3: The Fall – Hit The North (part 2)

The CD box set also contains that fairly elusive mix that had been kept back for the cassette version of the single, as well as a previously unreleased instrumental version:-

mp3: The Fall – Hit The North Part 6 (the double six mix)
mp3: The Fall – Hit The North (instrumental)

As I say, thanks to all of you who got in touch after last week. Hugely appreciated.



The Scottish Enlightenment have been part of this country’s music scene for nigh on 15 years.  They take things very slowly and deliberately, as their full discography demonstrates:-

Eyes (3-track CD single) released in April 2007
Pascal (5-track CD EP) released in May 2010
Little Sleep (5-track CD EP) released in September 2010
St Thomas (11-track CD album) released in November 2010
Strong Force (4-track 7″ EP) released in February 2015 (but consisting of versions of songs from 2010)
Potato Flower (9-track CD/12″LP) released in June 2018
Our Children (3-track CD EP) released in December 2019

The four members during that burst of activity in 2010 were brothers Angus and David Moyes, along with Michael Alexander and David Morrison.

St Thomas, described accurately as brooding, melancholy and heartbreaking, was given a great reception by many critics, and was incredibly popular among the music blogging community in Scotland, which was probably at its peak around that time, with a number of its members subsequently going onto to make something of a career running record labels. I had, and still have, a certain fondness for the album, which musically in places had touches of Arab Strap and Pavement about it, although the vocal delivery of David Moyes is nothing like that of those bands frontmen.

The lengthy delay to Potato Flower was fully acknowledged:-

During the 8 years since St Thomas, some people have died and some people have been born. Nobody lives in the same place anymore. A huge chunk of life has elapsed, ordinary life with the standard dramas, love, fear, grief, hope, all the beauty and ugliness draped over jobs, laundry, bills, breakfast, lunch and tea.

I never got round to buying the second album, primarily as I felt I’d had my fill of downbeat music with a distinctly Scottish bent. So, all I can offer you for today is the lead track from an EP that was also included on the debut album:-

mp3: The Scottish Enlightenment – Little Sleep

It does appear, from the credits on Discogs, as well as the less than cryptic nature of band statement outlined above, that 2018 line-up who made Potato Flower was quite different from the 2010 membership of The Scottish Enlightenment.  If there’s anyone out there who can add anything to today’s post, it would be great to hear from you via the comments section.

Many thanks



This album was previously mentioned in despatches last April as a recommendation for some new music.

Another Life is the debut album by Hadda Be, and is available, here, from Last Night From Glasgow, or alternatively you see if your local indie record store has a copy (or would be happy enough to order one in).

As I said back in April, it’s a fabulous and very tasty slice of indie-pop at its finest.  You’ll find shimmering guitars, punchy choruses, wonderful melodies and a bunch of songs that, for the most part, come and go around the three-minute mark, all of which, aside from the obligatory ballad, have the ability to get even the most reticent folk out of their chairs so that shapes can be thrown on the dance floor.

Here’s a reminder of the two promos made for the singles that I posted back then:-

A third single was subsequently released, the closing track on the album. The band call it a love letter to the National Health Service, and singer Amber came up with the lyric about her experiences of working within it as a nurse, It also features a speech by Nye Bevan, the politician who founded the NHS in 1948, with his estate giving its full blessing to use his words in what is a powerful and moving number, particularly so in these difficult times:-

“Holding the hand of someone who doesn’t even know you’re there
Working for a service in a town that’s suffering
What am I supposed to do, they just treat me as they like
Cutting the ties that wrap their way around me, I just might….”

mp3: Hadda Be – Nurse’s Song




Cpl Andrew Wingate
Pvt James Little

When JC texted me to ask if I would do my usual post for Remembrance Day here as my place has been mothballed for some time and the foreseeable, I first responded that I didn’t think there was any point as for the 11 years across the Kitchen Table I only posted the two names above, a pertinent picture and the most depressing song I could find just to dampen anybody’s spirits who hadn’t already learned the lesson of looking at my blog on that date.

But then I thought about it and it occurred to me that it might be good to go into a bit of depth about those two names and why on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month I stop whatever I am doing and spend 10 minutes or so remembering their faces, their voices and the influence that they had in shaping my views and outlook to life. I must add that it is not the only time that I think about these two men, they pop into my thoughts often.

It may not be of any interest to anyone but here we go.

Andrew Wingate was born on the 2nd of May 1892, the same day that his son was born some 45 years later and incidentally the date that his first grandson was due to be born a further thirty years into the future but decided to appear a week early just to mix things up a bit. Andrew, or Grandfaither as I called him enlisted when war broke out, joined the Cavalry and went to France with the rest of the Old Contemptibles. He saw action at the first Battle of the Somme and various other locations throughout the trenches of France and Belgium including Passchendale. You may have worked out that Auld Andra’ survived the whole hellish waste of human & animal life, French villages and countryside. When I asked him many years later how he had made it through he said gruffly, “just luck son, just luck” and apart from telling me “I never saw any cowards in France, many scared boys but no cowards” that was the only thing he ever said to me about World War One and I didn’t press him on it as I got a feeling that it was something he did not want to discuss. He did read my history textbook on the subject, that I had left lying about the living room hoping that it would prompt a discussion but he offered up no opinion on it.

When he was demobbed from the army, Andra joined the Navy and was set for a life on the ocean wave until he fell on a ship and broke his back., the prognosis of which was not good, he was told he would never walk again, to which according to the accounts of my father he said is that right and through a lot of pain and determination eventually did; and when he did, like a lot of men in Lanarkshire he spent the rest of his working life in the now long gone steel works, the main employers in the area.

By the time I became aware of him, he was into his 80s, a large imposing figure of a man always in a shirt and waistcoat with his pocket watch and chain and the shiniest shoes I have ever seen.  A man of not many words who would come and stay with us three or four times a year always carrying this Adidas holdall containing a dark wooden box. That turned out to be his WW1 footlocker and contained all of the important things in his life, his letters from my Gran and from lots of ladies who wrote to him during the war, well before Flora came on the scene I must add. Also his demob papers, other essential documents, 5 gold sovereigns (one each for my dad, his sister, me, my brother and my mother), three pocket watches, his medals, whole sets of Woodbine cigarette cards and lots of other things including a small piece of solid gold that an uncle had sent back from the Klondike. I found out what was in the box along with my brother when he sat us down the day before he was going home on his final stay with us. He went through the contents, telling us about various pieces and who was to get what when he was gone. Two months later he died, he was 93 years old. My dad said that he had just had enough, all his friends and peers already having departed this existence.

What I believe I inherited from Andra was a sense of justice and whatever morality that I have, passed down from him, through my father to me and most probably my gruffness, those that know me would never describe me as “a ray of sunshine” That final summer I was shelf stacking in Templetons and one night decided to liberate a couple of boxes of Matchmakers which my mother found leading to all hell breaking loose in our house. I was affronted that my grandfather was there to witness this, finding it very difficult to look him in the eye. Years later my mother told me that he had spoke to her that evening and said “ don’t be too hard on the boy, he’s a good one and I think he has learned his lesson”.

James Little was born in Hamilton on the 2nd December 1925 and did not have the easiest start in life. Three weeks after he was born he was left on auld Jimmy’s doorstep with a note stating that Jimmy was indeed the father and would have to look after his son, a fact Jimmy didn’t learn until he needed his birth certificate to marry my Aunt Betty, noticed the crude attempt at alteration, confronted “the auld man” who spilt the beans. All of the resentment and unkindness of the woman he thought of as his mother now fell into place. Jimmy once said that she didn’t know he was away to war until quite a few months after he had gone and it did not worry her in the slightest. He lied about his age, forged the papers (like father like son) and so he found himself in Burma at the beginning of 1943, seventeen with a distinct dislike of authority. From all of my time spent talking to him about the war, as unlike Andrew Wingate, he talked about it, not in any glorified way but with disdain and a bit of regret, I get the impression that he fought a war on two fronts, one naturally enough against the Japanese but an equally fierce one with the officer classes of his own side, often finding himself on a charge and punishment and the main reason I suspect he remained a private. He also survived his conflict, unscathed or so he thought, he had respiratory problems from then on requiring the removal of a lung in the 1950s which did not hinder him in trying to smoke himself to death with 40 Benson and Hedges a day. Once the war was over and before he was demobbed he found himself a little side job liberating Burma of some of its Jade and also becoming something of a star in the regiment’s boxing team.

When he eventually came home, he met my mother’s eldest sister, started courting her and not long after they were married, a few years later finding themselves bringing up my mother after her father’s death when she was eight, her mother had died the previous year. Like my grandfather Jimmy went into the steel works, where he put his wits to good use becoming a union rep, then shop steward, making appearances at the TUC Conference and an article in the Hamilton Advertiser after one speech on the podium hinting at a prospective political career and prior to his retiring ending up foundry supervisor in the Clyde Alloy.

Jimmy became a huge influence on me, from the early days when he used to phone up kidding on he was John Wayne at Christmas and on birthdays to giving me Animal Farm and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at the age of 13 to read then discussing the books with me after I had finished reading them. He was also the only member of my family who attended when I had to, in my capacity as Chair of the Lanark Youth CND speak with Bruce Kent and our local MP at the time Dame Judith Hart at an open meeting in Lanark Memorial Hall on the horror of the Trident missile system which was in the process of being deployed. Ironic that the man who would most certainly have died had the Americans not dropped the atom bombs on Japan went to support me but that was him.  I remember asking him where his medals were and he said that they were of no importance to him, he did his bit, not so much for the cause but to get away from his “mother” and that it was over. He also told me that the most dangerous thing in the world was “an officer with a compass and a cultivated sense of entitlement”.

Jimmy had his retirement worked out to the day, when it would be most beneficial for him to retire on his pension from British Steel and when they refused his application for early retirement he told them he was going to “The Record” (Daily Record), to kick up a stink about how they wouldn’t let a clapped out old man go but were prepared to pay off younger men who needed the job. Needless to say he got his retirement but Betty and Jimmy didn’t get very long to enjoy it, as on 9th December 1989 taking his neighbour to a hospital appointment he had a heart attack and died 300 yards from the entrance to Law Hospital.

So for these two men and for their cousins, friends and comrades, the ones not fortunate enough to survive, every Armistice day I stop and remember. Everybody says that we should remember the fallen and yes we should do but we should also remember the ones that came back, most of whom would have been damaged by their experiences in ways we cannot comprehend but were able to keep on functioning, get married, have families and help rebuild this country, twice. I was never one for the poppy, in my youth it didn’t sit comfortably with my ideological pacifism, the white one also always felt wrong but I still took notice of the 11th November. I have always made a donation and bought one but never felt I needed to wear it to show my respect. However I do not sneer at those that do as most do it for the right reasons and I will leave that there, I could go on about the high-jacking of the act of Remembrance but that discussion is for another day.

So here is possibly the best song written about WW1.

mp3: Eric Bogle – No Man’s Land (live)

I once saw Eric Bogle live, in a community hall in Biggar on one of his infrequent returns to these shores and he put us through the emotional ringer but by god was it good.

mp3: Eric Bogle – spoken introduction to No Man’s Land