A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : LOCKED OUT OF THE LOVE-IN

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

L is for Locked Out of the Love-In released by One Thousand Violins as a single in September 1987.

One Thousand Violins, from Sheffield, formed in 1985. The original members were John Wood (vocals), Colin Gregory (guitar), David Walmsley (keyboards/guitar), Darren Swindells (bass), and Peter Day (drums). They were signed by Dan Treacy of The Television Personalities to his Dreamworld Records, with debut single Halycon Days being the second release on the label in July 1985. Incidentally, the B-side of the 7″ single, Like One Thousand Violins, was voted in at #49 in the John Peel Festive 50 of 1985.

The second single, Please Don’t Sandblast My House followed in October 1986, after which Ian Addey came in as the new drummer. A third and final single on Dreamworld came out in September 1987:-

mp3: One Thousand Violins – Locked Out of the Love-In

It reached #13 in the indie chart, but before too long Dreamworld Records folded.

In due course, lead singer John Wood departed, but with the key songwriting team of Colin Gregory and David Walmsley still involved, they soldiered on, recruiting a new singer and signing to London-based Immaculate Records, a label which normally specialised in synth pop. A few more singles and an album followed, but to little fanfare, and it all came to a halt in 1989.

Like many other bands of the era, there was a renewed interest in their music many years later, and Cherry Red Records, in 2014, released a compilation album covering all the songs recorded between 1985 and 1987.

Here’s the three tracks which were included on the 12″ of Locked Out of the Love-In

mp3: One Thousand Violins – Why Is It Always December?
mp3: One Thousand Violins – I Was Depending On You To Be My Jesus
mp3: One Thousand Violins – No-One Was Saving The World

Cracking names for the songs, but the best song title of the lot can be found as the extra track made available the 12″ version of the debut single:-

mp3: One Thousand Violins – I Remember When Everybody Used To Ride Bikes… Now We All Drive Cars

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : KISS THEM FOR ME on

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

K is for Kiss Them For Me released by Siouxsie & The Banshees as a single in May 1991.

This is another of those occasions when I look at the date of the release and think to myself that I can’t possibly be that old a song.

Kiss Them for Me was the lead single from the band’s 10th studio album, Superstition, which would be released about a month later. It was something of a shock to hear a fairly substantial shift in direction, more dance/groove orientated than normal, with a very clear and distinct bhangra, as well as baggy, influence. The promo video turned out to be all Siouxsie with little of the Banshees, focussing on her looks as she swayed, moaned and sighed her way through what was bound to be a sure-fire hit single.

mp3: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Kiss Them For Me

It didn’t completely stiff, but at #32, it was along the lines of most of the band’s 45s. It as their 25th single release in the UK, of which only five had made it inside the Top 20.

Released on 7″, 12″ CD and cassette, many of the b-sides were remixes, but there were some other otherwise unavailable tracks:-

mp3: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Return
mp3: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Staring Back
mp3: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Kiss Them For Me (Snapper Mix)
mp3: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Kiss Them For Me (Kathak Mix)
mp3: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Kiss Them For Me (Loveappella Mix)

What I didn’t know until doing a bit of background research for today’s post is that Siouxsie’s cryptic lyrics are a tribute to Jayne Mansfield. It seems her catchword was ‘divoon’, a slang word used in the lyric, while there are also references to heart-shaped swimming pools, a love of champagne and parties, and also the horrific car crash which killed the actress in 1967. And neither was I aware that Kiss Them for Me was also the name of a 1957 film in which Jayne Mansfield had starred with Cary Grant.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : JACKIE WILSON SAID…..

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

J is for Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) released by Dexys Midnight Runners as a single in October 1982.

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) was written by Van Morrison and is the opening track of the album Saint Dominic’s Preview, released in 1972.

Dexys Midnight Runners were just over two years removed from the success of Geno and the album Searching For The Young Soul Rebels when seemingly out of the blue, and sporting a whole new look and sound, they had the big hit of the summer of 1982 with Come On Eileen. The new album, Too-Rye-Ay became an instant success, entering the charts at #2 in its first week of release at the beginning of August. Come On Eileen was still riding high and so there was no urgency for a follow-up 45, and it took until October before Mercury Records opted for the cover version as being the most suitable.

It also proved to be a huge hit, reaching #5 despite the fact that it, and its b-side, could both be found on the album.

mp3: Dexys Midnight Runners – Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

There are maybe some hints that Kevin Rowland would have preferred that the b-side had been chosen as the single. Its name appears on the front of the picture sleeve, and its lyrics can be found on the reverse. I’m surely not alone in thinking that this is a far superior song to the cover:-

mp3: Dexys Midnight Runners – Let’s Make This Precious

This one can be heard, more weeks than not, blaring out pre-match at Stark’s Park in Kirkcaldy as one of the tunes that I choose, in my role as match day announcer, to play prior to kick-off. It’s an uplifting and rousing sort of number, one that always help with gradual build-up of the atmosphere.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

I is for l Should Be So Lucky released by Kylie Minogue as a single on 29 December 1987. Which makes it one day short of being 34 years old…..

Kylie Minogue was one of the most popular stars of Neighbours, an Australian soap opera which aired daily here in the UK on BBC1 at 5.30pm, preceded by children’s TV and followed immediately by the evening news bulletin. Back home in Oz, she was already something of a pop star in that Locomotion, her debut, and at this point only single, had spent six weeks at #1. She was invited to the UK to work with Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW), a songwriting and record producing trio who had enjoyed considerable success, beginning from the mid-80s, with an approach to music that was akin to an assembly in that the tunes would be put together using synths, drum machines and sequencers, before the singer was asked to add the vocals at the end.

History records that SAW weren’t ready for the arrival of the soap star, and didn’t have a ready-made song to hand. Everything was put together in a hurry, and Kylie seemingly left at the end of the day, really unhappy with how it had gone.

Nobody really knew what to expect when the single was released in that period between Christmas and New Year. It was a slow burner of sorts, in that it entered the charts at #90, before climbing to #54, #31 and #16 before leaping to #2 and then hitting #1 in late February, where it would stay for five weeks. By the time it left the charts in May 1988, it had sold almost 700,000 copies.

SAW, by this time, had gone out to Australia to apologise for the initial lack of welcome, realising that they had, certainly for the short-term, another singer they could add to the assembly line, with a guarantee of a few hit singles before Kylie went out of fashion, as all pop stars of the nature inevitably do.

mp3: Kylie Minogue – I Should Be So Lucky

The partnership with SAW eventually came to an end in 1992 with Kylie saying she now wanted the freedom to pick and choose which songwriters and producers she would work with. Very few people thought she would thrive or develop with the guiding hand of SAW. Twenty-five further Top 20 singles in the UK would suggest she made the right call.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : HARROWDOWN HILL

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

H is for Harrowdown Hill, released by Thom Yorke as a single in August 2006.

Harrowdown Hill was released on Thom Yorke’s debut solo album, The Eraser (2006), recorded while Radiohead were on hiatus.  At the time of release, Yorke said the song had been “kicking around” during the sessions for Radiohead’s sixth album, Hail to the Thief (2003), but that it could not have worked as a Radiohead song.

The lyrics are about David Kelly, a British weapons expert who died, allegedly from suicide, in 2003 after telling a reporter that the British government had falsely identified weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Kelly’s body was found in the woods of Harrowdown Hill, near Yorke’s former school in Oxfordshire.

Yorke was uncomfortable about the subject matter and conscious of the late man’s grieving family, but in press interviews he stated that “not to write it would perhaps have been worse”, that it was “the most angry song” he had ever written.

mp3: Thom Yorke – Harrowdown Hill

The single was released on  7″, 12″ and CD. Here’s the other tracks that were made available:-

mp3: Thom Yorke – The Drunkk Machine
mp3: Thom Yorke – Jetstream
mp3: Thom Yorke – Harrowdown Hill (extended mix)

It entered the charts at #23, before dropping all the way down to #55 the following week and out of the Top 75 after three weeks. It’s not the most commercial of singles, but things weren’t helped by what appeared to be an unofficial radio ban here in the UK, thanks to the controversial subject matter and the fact that Thom Yorke, in all his media interviews and appearances, was openly implicating the UK government and the Ministry of Defence in the death of Dr Kelly.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : GOOD FOR SOME REASON

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

G is for Good For Some Reason recorded by Say Sue Me and released as one-half of a split single by Damnably Records in December 2017.

Say Sue Me are from Busan, South Korea, forming in 2012 since when they have recorded two full-lengths albums, along with four EPs, three stand-alone 7” singles, one digital single and one split 7” single. The band members nowadays are Sumi Choi (vocals), Byunggyu Kim (guitar),  Jaeyoung Ha (bass) and Changwon Kim (drums).

They came to prominence after debut album We’ve Sobered Up (2014) and the subsequent EP, Big Summer Night (2015), were moderate chart successes in South Korea, released on the  independent label, Electric Muse.   The music, which blended elements of surf-rock with the sort of sounds associated with the mid-80s golden era of UK indie-pop, came to the attention of the London-based Damnably Records, and deal was signed, with the first release, in 2017, being a self-titled compilation pairing the two Korean releases together as an 18-track CD in 2017.

In December 2017, a 7″ single was issued, with a run of just 400 copies to mark Damnably’s 11th birthday. It was a spilt single with Say Sue Me on one side, while the other was taken up by Otoboke Beaver, an all-female Japanese hardcore punk who were, at the time, being nurtured by Damnably, and indeed later signed with the label:-

mp3: Say Sue Me – Good For Some Reason
mp3: Otokobe Beaver – S’Il Vous Plait

Say Sue Me released a second album, Where We Were Together (2018) on which their indie-pop and indie-rock tendencies came to the fore as the earlier surf-rock sounds took a bit of a back seat, best exemplified by the song Old Town, which gathered a lot of radio play back home and also became a bit of a favourite among a number of DJs on BBC Radio 6. The new album was followed soon after by the Record Store Day release for 2018, It’s Just a Short Walk!, which was an EP comprising covers of songs by Blondie, The Ramones, The Velvet Underground, and one made famous here in the UK by Cliff Richard and in the USA initially by Bobby Freeman and later by The Beach Boys. A triumphant year was rounded off with two further releases – a stand-alone single of a track that hadn’t quite been finished in time for the album followed by an EP, Christmas, It’s Not a Biggie, of four new songs with a festive theme.

2019 got off to a tremendous start at home with nominations in five categories at the Korean Music Awards – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Modern Rock Album of the Year, Best Modern Rock Song of the Year and Artist of the Year – something quite unprecedented for a band on a small label and from a city other than Seoul. They were winners in two categories – Best Modern Rock Album for Where We Were Together, while Old Town was named Best Modern Rock Song. These accolades were followed by a hugely successful return visit to SXSW in Austin, Texas at which they performed one of the best-received sets of the entire festival, and after a short time back home in Busan, they embarked on a European tour.

The onset of COVID could not have come at a worse possible time for Say Sue Me, and indeed Otokobe Beaver whose own career was also on an upwards trajectory. Planned visits to Europe and the USA had to be cancelled, and the momentum from the hard work of the previous three years has been lost.

It’ll be interesting to see what emerges from both bands in 2022, with both bands having spent much of the past year trying to deliver on-line shows for their fans outside of South Korea and Japan.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

F is for Fairytale of New York, released by The Pogues as a single in November 1987.

Fairytale of New York is a song written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan and featuring Kirsty MacColl on vocals. The song is an Irish folk-style ballad and was written as a duet, with the Pogues‘ singer MacGowan taking the role of the male character and MacColl the female character. It was originally released as a single on 23 November 1987 and later featured on the Pogues’ 1988 album If I Should Fall from Grace with God.

Originally begun in 1985, the song had a troubled two-year development history, undergoing rewrites and aborted attempts at recording, and losing its original female vocalist along the way, before finally being completed in August 1987. Although the single has never been the UK Christmas number one, being kept at number two on its original release in 1987 by the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of Always on My Mind, it has proved enduringly popular with both music critics and the public: to date the song has reached the UK Top 20 on 17 separate occasions since its original release in 1987, including every year at Christmas since 2005. As of September 2017 it had sold 1,217,112 copies in the UK, with an additional 249,626 streaming equivalent sales, for a total of 1,466,738 combined sales. In December 2020, the song was certified quadruple platinum in the UK for 2,400,000 combined sales.

mp3: The Pogues – Fairytale of New York
mp3: The Pogues – The Battle March Medley
mp3: The Pogues – Shanne Bradley

These were the songs included on the 1987 12″ single.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : EUROPE

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

E is for Europe, released by Allo Darlin’ as a single in June 2012.

It’s a much delayed first appearance from Allo Darlin’ on this blog.  There’s actually a possibility of an ICA sometime in 2022, but for now here’s the intro for anyone not familiar:-

Allo Darlin’ began as a vehicle for the solo songwriting exploits of Elizabeth Morris.

Australian by birth, Morris moved to London in 2005, where she began making recordings under the name the Darlings. Morris would only release one disc under this name, a three-track affair called The Photo EP, which came out on the U.K.-based indie pop label WeePOP! in late 2007. Morris changed the project’s name to Allo Darlin’ the following year, releasing a  Christmas-themed EP, Merry Christmas from Allo Darlin’, shortly before 2008 came to a close.

A few months later the lineup of Allo Darlin’ expanded to become a permanent line-up of guitarist Paul Rains, drummer Michael Collins, and bassist Bill Botting.

The quartet released its first single, Henry Rollins Don’t Dance  in the summer of 2009.   Fortuna Pop signed the band soon after, and aftertwo more singles, The Polaroid Song and Dreaming, the band’s self-titled debut full-length was released in the summer of 2010. The reception for the album was very favourable, garnering praise from, among others,  Robert Forster.

After a fairly quiet 2011 that saw only the self-release of the Darren/The Wu-Tang Clan single, they returned with a new album, Europe, in the spring of 2012, released by Fortuna Pop in the U.K. and Slumberland in the U.S.

The band spent much of the next year on the road, building up a decent sized following among indie-music fans across the world, before a third album, We Come from the Same Place, was released in October of 2014 again via Fortuna Pop and Slumberland.

Two years later, and after one further new single, Allo’ Darlin’ called it a day, in very amicable circumstances….which I might cover if I do that ICA!

The song which gave its name to the title of the second album was the third and last 45 taken from it.  It was released only as a 7″, with some copies being on blue vinyl.

Like all the singles, it sold in small quantities, but that was never the point.

mp3: Allo Darlin’ – Europe
mp3: Allo Darlin’ – Some People Say (alternate version)

The original version of the b-side can be found on the album, Europe.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : DEAD LEAVES AND THE DIRTY GROUND

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

D is for Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground, released by The White Stripes as a single in August 2002.

From allmusic:-

The White Stripes open their third album, the stellar White Blood Cells, with the grimy rocker “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.” The dynamic duo’s lead singer/guitarist kicks off the record with a savage, downward spiral riff, accompanied by drummer Meg White‘s pounding, mid-tempo stomp. The pair waste no time in displaying a keen understanding of musical dynamics, promptly reining in the assault for Jack White‘s slightly warbling vocal as he offers his own unique vision of loneliness and devotion with quivering sneer, “Dead leaves and the dirty ground/When I know you’re not around/Shiny tops and soda pops/When I hear your lips make a sound/Thirty notes in the mailbox/Will tell you that I’m coming home/And I think I’m gonna stick around for a while so you’re not alone.”

The music then dramatically launches into exploding interludes of smashing chords and brutally stomping rhythms that would make AC/DC proud. Jack White also has a knack for showing a softer side amongst all the bashing as he observes with poetic sweetness in a later verse, “Soft hair and a velvet tongue/I want to give you what you give to me/And every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me.” This self-produced album’s improved sound quality, compared to the group’s past efforts, also makes a striking first impression, bringing out the song’s brilliant use of dynamics and increasing the textures of the band’s simple instrumentation without limiting clarity or sacrificing power.

mp3: The White Stripes – Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground
mp3: The White Stripes – Suzy Lee (live at the BBC Studios Maida Vale)
mp3: The White Stripes – Stop Breaking Down (live at the BBC Studios Maida Vale)

The BBC recordings are of two tracks, originally recorded for the duo’s self-titled debut album, released in 1999.  Suzy Lee is an original, while Stop Breaking Down is a cover of a Robert Johnson song, written back in 1937.

Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground reached #25 in the UK singles chart. This was fairly similar to the previous two singles, Hotel Yorba (#26) and Fell In Love With A Girl (#21).  It would take until the following year for the bigger commercial breakthrough, when Seven Nation Army went Top 10 .

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : CHEMICAL WORLD

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

C is for Chemical World, released by Blur as a single in June 1993.

It was the second single from the album, Modern Life Is Rubbish. It was issued on 7″ and 12″ vinyl and two CDs. Here are the tracks from the vinyl versions.

mp3: Blur – Chemical World (single edit)  (7″ and CD2)
mp3: Blur – Maggie May (7″)

mp3: Blur – Chemical World (Reworked) (12″ and CD1)
mp3: Blur – Es Schmecht (12″ and CD2)
mp3: Blur – Young And Lovely (12″ and CD2)
mp3: Blur – My Ark (12″ and CD2)

Maggie May had originally been made available on Ruby Trax – The NME’s Roaring Forty, a compilation album released in September 1992 to commemorate 40 years of publication of the paper, featuring 40 cover versions of Number 1 songs.

The tracks not featured today on CD1 were all taken from the set performed at Glastonbury the previous year.

Es Schmecht, Young And Lovely, and My Ark have a review on the allmusic website:-

“Young and Lovely” fits in perfectly with Modern Life Is Rubbish’s general aesthetic of psych/pop anthems, betraying the often unremarked upon XTC influence that clearly directed much of the band’s work at the time. Andy Partridge could easily sing Albarn’s chorus as he delivers it, for one thing. “Es Schmecht” is Blur in slightly obtuse mode, aiming for Wire-style angularity and detachment and finding it, somewhat uncomfortably. The addition of distorted keyboard-as-horn parts does make it more weirdly compelling towards the end, though. “My Ark” concludes the disc, a slightly heavier funk take on the indie dance moves with which Blur first came to attention — it’s okay enough, but not one of the band’s strong points. More an exercise in previous styles.

Chemical World reached #28 in the UK singles chart, the same position as reached previously by lead-off single, For Tomorrow.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : BABY’S ON FIRE

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

B is for Baby’s On Fire, released by The Creepers in 1986.

Marc Riley formed his own record label – In-Tape – and his own band, following his dismissal from The Fall, recruiting, in due course, Paul Fletcher (guitar), Pete Keogh (bass) and Eddie Fenn (drums), while Riley sang and played keyboards.  The band initially went by the name of Marc Riley and The Creepers, and later as Marc Riley with The Creepers.

The first single Favourite Sister (which featured his former bandmates Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon and Paul Hanley) came out in July 1983 was followed up in October 1983 with Jumper Clown, which poked fun at Mark E Smith. A Peel Session was the source of the next release, with a compilation of all these early releases, Cull, being issued in April 1984

First album proper, Gross Out, appeared in June 1984, while the following year saw the release of the second album Fancy Meeting God as well as a live album Warts ‘n’ All.

In 1986, Mark Tilton and Phil Roberts came in as replacements for Fletcher and Keogh, with the combo now going under the name The Creepers.

The first release under this name was a 7″ single, Baby’s On Fire, a cover of a Brian Eno song

mp3: The Creepers – Baby’s On Fire
mp3: The Creepers – Another Song About Motorbikes

The album Miserable Sinners following later the same year. The band then added Simon Taylor as an extra guitarist and signed to Red Rhino, on which a further single, Brute, and an album, Rock ‘n’ Roll Liquorice Flavour, appeared in 1987 and 1988 respectively.

JC

A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : ARMY OF ME

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

A is for Army Of Me, a song recorded by Björk for her second studio album Post.

The single was released in the United Kingdom on 24 April 1995 as a cassette and two-CD single. The first CD contained the Icelandic version of You’ve Been Flirting Again and the cave version of Cover Me, both from Post. The latter was recorded in a cave in the Bahamas, and sounds of flying bats can be heard in the background. The single also contained Sweet Intuition. The second CD contained, among other remixes, a version which features Skunk Anansie.

Army of Me was notable for the fact that, in contrast to the sweetness and lightness to be found on Debut, it features Björk making heavy use of screaming vocals.

Björk, in a contemporary press interview, explained what the song was about:-

It’s a song for the movie “Tank Girl”, but it is actually about my brother. He is pretty lazy and likes things like food, sex, sleep – very basic needs. It’s just that he does it more than others.

Then he started smoking, well, not cigarettes. It felt as if he was in a coma. He just sat on his butt complaining, “the worlds stinks, I can’t get a job, there are no good albums to buy and even if I wanted to buy them, I don’t have any money to buy them with. Blah blah blah.”

Self-pity from morning to night, which really pisses me off. You can stand a whining brother to a limit, but for ten years, from he was 14 to that he turned 24. I simply had enough. That’s it. Stand on your own legs, get a job, get a life. And if you complain once more, you’ll meet an “Army Of Me”.

mp3: Bjork – Army Of Me
mp3: Bjork – Cover Me (Cave version)
mp3: Bjork – You’ve Been Flirting Again (Icelandic Version)
mp3: Bjork – Sweet Intuition
mp3: Bjork – Army Of Me (ABA All-Stars Mix)
mp3: Bjork – Army Of Me (Masseymix)
mp3: Bjork – Army Of Me (featuring Skunk Anansie)
mp3: Bjork – Army Of Me (Instrumental ABA All-Stars Mix)

Army Of Me entered the UK singles chart at #10. Björk went on Top of The Pops and chose to offer up the Skunk Anansie version of the song. It’s one of the greatest moments in the history of the show.

It dropped to #21 the following week…..

JC (with thanks to Scottish Tee Vee for such a great quality clip)

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Parts 28 & 29)


There’s going to be two for the price of one this week, as doing so neatly takes our story to the end of 1990.  But as such, it’s a lengthy one as there’s a lot to cover.

The next single was issued in August 1990.  The period between the previous single and the latest 45 had seen The Fall travel the world on what can only be looked upon as a gruelling tour in support of Extricate:-

1 March – 26 March : a 20-date tour of the UK
29 March – 21 April : a 19-date tour taking in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Austria
26 April : a one-off gig in Paris
18 May : a one-off gig in New York
21 May : a one-off gig in Los Angeles
20 June – 30 June : a 7-date tour of Australia
5 July : a one-off gig in Auckland
10 July – 14 July : a 4-date tour of Australia
23 July – 25 July : a 3-date tour of Japan
26 August : an appearance at the Reading Festival

Looking at the above schedule, it is likely that the time between the Paris and New York gigs was spent in the studio recording the tracks which would make up the next single.

The reason I’m deducing this is that Marcia Schofield, on returning from Los Angeles, had a huge fall-out with MES and made her mind up to leave the band. A lot of her anger was based on the fact that MES didn’t want her recording or working with other musicians, a position she felt was hypocritical given that he had previously worked with Coldcut and more recently had gone into a studio with Tackhead.

She was persuaded to come back for the Australian/New Zealand/Japan gigs, perhaps influenced in part by the fact that she and Martin Bramah had recently embarked on a relationship and not going on the tour would have meant a considerable period apart.

The gig on 14 July was in Sydney. Afterwards, the band’s manager told Schofield and Bramah they would not be accompanying The Fall to Japan, and were instead given plane tickets back to the UK. In other words, they had been sacked…..

The thing was, the artwork and promotional material for the next single was already signed off, and a limited edition 12″ version contained a poster in which the sacked duo were featured:-

By the time the new single was in the shops, the news of the sackings had been made public, with a brutally worded press release saying that they had been fired ‘because they wanted to pursue other projects, and it was pointless them remaining in the band any longer”.  No words of thanks or best wishes for the future.

And so, White Lightning/The Dredger EP* became the last thing that the latest line-up of The Fall would ever make.

mp3: The Fall – White Lightning (7″, 12″, 12″ Limited Edition and CD)
mp3: The Fall – Blood Outta Stone (7″, 12″, 12″ Limited Edition and CD)
mp3: The Fall – Zagreb (Movement II) (12″ only)
mp3: The Fall – The Funeral Mix (12″ only)
mp3: The Fall – Zagreb (Movements I+II+III) (12″ Limited Edition and CD)
mp3: The Fall – Life Just Bounces (12″ Limited Edition and CD)

* White Lightning was the name given to the 7″ and 12″ singles, while The Dredger EP was the name given to the other two versions.

The a-side was yet another cover, of a song written in 1958 and which became a #1 hit for country singer George Jones in April 1959.   The song’s writer was J.P Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper and who was killed in the same plane crash as that involving Buddy Holly and Richie Valens in February 1959.  Jones’ take on the song was more rock’n’roll than country, and The Fall’s interpretation is reasonably faithful and not all that far removed from some of the earlier self-penned material from the early 80s.  It is also, in my opinion, is far from the most interesting of the tracks on the EP……

Blood Outta Stone, a co-composition with M.Beddington (aka Martin Bramah) is a very fine guitar-driven number, and another of the great lost songs stuck away on b-sides.  Bramah has since said he thought it would have made for a better single than Whie Lightning, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

Turning now to Zagreb.  This one is credited to MES and Marcia Schofield.  Movement I is an instrumental, lasting just over 30 seconds.  The riff, Schofield later confirmed, is based on Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder, as she and Simon Wolstencroft were fond of playing it live in soundchecks, with it eventually forming its way into a fully formed tune by The Fall, Movement II is the substantial part of the piece, some 4 mins 40 seconds in length, in which the opening riff leads to a lyric, written after the Yugoslavia gigs in April 1990, with MES wanting to try and capture the tension everyone felt during their visit.  History records that just over a year later, a very bloody civil war saw Yugoslavia tear itself apart into a number of nations. Movement III is another short instrumental piece, very much electronic in nature, only some 40 seconds in length.

As it turns out, Movement III is the opening section of The Funeral Mix which dates back to the sessions that MES had done with Coldcut in 1989.  It’s an instrumental and a real curiosity piece.

Life Just Bounces is a fun track.  It’s an MES/Craig Scanlon co-composition.  If the opening few bars sound vaguely familiar, then that’ll be down to the fact that it borrows heavily from Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, the #1 hit for Elton John & Kiki Dee back in 1976.  MES admitted as much in a lengthy interview in Melody Maker just a few weeks after the EP was released.  Oh, and Life Just Bounces would be re-recorded by The Fall some four years later…….

White Lightning/The Dredger EP was nearly a hit in that it got to #56.    Looking back on things, the fact that there are great tunes on the b-sides courtesy of the two recently sacked band members can only again lead to the conclusion that MES wanted to again self-sabotage just in case mainstream success was threatening to come the way of The Fall.

After the Reading Festival gig, which itself was reported by the press as being a triumph, the quarter of Smith, Scanlon, Hanley and Wolsencroft went into the studio, the fruits of which led to a new single in December 1990.

High Tension Line is a fast, frantic offering, albeit a strange song for a single, certainly in the way it was recorded thanks to it being faded-in

mp3: The Fall – High Tension Line

It was released in December 1990, and as if to demonstrate that The Fall, collectively, had a sense of humour and were willing to laugh at themselves, the b-side common to both the 7″ and 12″ releases was their first ever festive offering:-

mp3: The Fall – Xmas With Simon

The reason for the title is that Funky Si offers up some fairly basic but essential keyboards……with MES perhaps thumbing his nose at the recently departed Ms. Schofield?  As Xmas songs go, it won’t give sleepless nights to Slade, Shakey, Wizzard or Mariah….but it does have some good whistling on it.

The extra track on the 12″ is far better than a look at its title would indicate

mp3: The Fall – Don’t Take The Pizza

The thing that can be most taken from Don’t Take The Pizza is the sound of a stripped-back band, returning to basics in many ways.  I’m also, surely, not the only one who thinks MES is not singing ‘Don’t Take The Pizza Off Me’……………

Released without much fanfare into a crowded singles market, and without the backing of limited edition or CD versions to boost sales, High Tension Line was a flop, failing to make the Top 75.

The Fall wouldn’t release any singles in 1991, but there would be a well-received album, Shift-Work, in which the fiddle player Kenny Brady would be added to the four regular members, released in April 1991.  In an era when CD was beginning to become increasingly more important than vinyl in terms of sales, it’s worth mentioning that both White Lightning and High Tension Line were included on Shift-Work, albeit as bonus tracks at the end of the album, again a departure from previous norms.

There were three tours during 1991.  The first, in May/June was largely centred around Germany with additional dates in Prague, Vienna and Rotterdam. Kenny Brady was part of the live band for that tour.

The later tours, in August and December, were both exclusive to England. Kenny Brady was not involved, but both featured a new member of The Fall with Dave Bush coming in on keyboards, having initially helped out in the studio during some of the sessions for Shift-Work.  His involvement, going forward, would see another significant change in the sound of The Fall heading into 1992, but that’s for the next instalment.

As the festive period is fast approaching, this series will now go into hibernation for a few weeks, as indeed, will the blog itself.  I’ll still be posting each day, but the usual features will be taking a break.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #289: SHAKE

From the booklet accompanying the boxset, Big Gold Dreams : A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977 – 1989

When The Rezillos split in 1978, Eugene Reynolds, Fay Fife and Hi-Fi Harris formed the similarly trashy Revillos, while songwriter Jo Callis, bassist Simon Templar and drummer Angel Paterson, plus future Teardrop Explodes guitarist Troy Tate, became Shake.

Released as the lead number on a 10″ EP, their exuberant debut highlighted a Callis-penned song that had originally been part of The Rezillos live set – indeed it can be heard on Callis’ former band’s Mission Accomplished…But The Beat Goes On live swansong recorded at the Glasgow Apollo. 

After a second single, Invasion of The Gamma Men, Callis embarked on a pop voyage that would ultimately lead to global domination with The Human League.

As I’ve previously featured the songs on that 10″ EP, I’ve gone digging to come up with the follow-up single:-

mp3: Shake – Invasion Of The Gamma Men

It’s a long way removed, musically, from Don’t You Want Me and yet with it being released in early 1980, it was just over a year prior to Callis penning songs which would appear on Dare.

 

JC

TODAY

Isaac’s funeral is taking place today.

I’m catching an early train out of Glasgow so that I can head down to pay respect on behalf of everyone who is part of the TVV community.

I’ve thought long and hard about a song and haven’t found it easy.  I know that Adam, Lou and Eliza want today to be a celebration of a remarkable life, and it wouldn’t be right to put something sad and teary on here.  Or try to be philosophical.

So, what I’m doing is going back to a posting on the old blog, back on 10 April 2011, when Ctel, from Acid Ted, took over this place for about a month while I was coming to terms with the death of my best friend, hard on the heels of my young brother a short time previously.

Ctel had asked readers if they would like to offer some words on the subjects of ‘sadness’ or ‘happiness’, with an appropriate song.  The response was truly overwhelming, and this is what Adam provided:-.

There are a ton of songs that help me get through bad times, and plenty that echo melancholy and the small hours when it all seems dark. But this is The Ramones. Da Brudders’ 1978 song We’re A Happy Family is full of squalor and urban misery – ‘sitting here in Queens, eating refried beans, we ain’t got no friends, our troubles never end, no Christmas Cards to send, Daddy likes men, Daddy’s likes men, Daddy’s telling lies, baby’s eating flies, Mommy’s on pills, baby’s got the chills, selling daddy’s dope’ etc – but there’s something about it that never fails to cheer me up. Thanks Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy.

mp3: The Ramones – We’re A Happy Family

Isaac provided so many incredible times, and there is no doubt that he will stir countless happy memories going forward.

JC

THE LOST ART OF THE A & AA SIDED-SINGLE (2)

INTRO

It was back in February 2015 that I penned/lifted these words.

———-

From wiki:-

A “double A-side” is a single where both sides are designated the A-side; there is no B-side on such a single.

The double A-sided single was invented in December 1965 by the Beatles for their single of “Day Tripper” and “We Can Work It Out”, where both were designated A-sides. Other groups followed suit thereafter, notably the Rolling Stones in early 1967 with “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday” as a double-A single.

In the UK, before the advent of digital downloads, both A-sides were accredited with the same chart position, as the singles chart was compiled entirely from physical sales. In the UK, the biggest-selling non-charity single of all time was a double A-side, Wings’ 1977 release “Mull of Kintyre”/”Girls’ School”, which sold over two million copies.

Occasionally double-A-sided singles were released with each side targeting a different market. During the late 1970s, for example, Dolly Parton released a number of double-A-sided singles, in which one side was released to pop radio, and the other side to country, including “Two Doors Down”/”It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” and “Baby I’m Burning”/”I Really Got the Feeling”. In 1978, the Bee Gees also used this method when they released “Too Much Heaven” for the pop market and the flip side, “Rest Your Love on Me”, which was aimed toward country stations.

Many artists continue to release double A-side singles outside of the US where it is seen as more popular. Examples of this include Oasis’s “Little by Little”/”She Is Love” (2002), Bloc Party’s “So Here We Are”/”Positive Tension” (2005) and Gorillaz’s “El Mañana”/”Kids with Guns” (2006).

———-

I went on to feature Join Our Club/People Get Real, a single by Saint Etienne that reached #21 in 1992.

It wasn’t until The Robster pulled together a Saint Etienne ICA did it hit me that this wasn’t even the best example of a double A side by that band.  Here’s what he had to say:-

“Who Do You Think You Are (1993, double a-side single) : Originally recorded by Candlewick Green, this wonderful, wonderful song was updated some 20 years later by Saint Etienne. It’s definitely one of my fave tracks of theirs, and it makes up possibly their best single as a double-A with…

Hobart Paving [single version] (1993, double a-side single) : Stops me in my tracks this one. This version beats the album version hands down thanks to that lovely, mournful French horn solo. As close to perfection as it’s possible for a pop song to get.”

mp3: Saint Etienne – Who Do You Think You Are
mp3: Saint Etienne – Hobart Paving

It’s incredible to think that such a fine pop single stalled at #23 on its release in May 1993, especially when another cover version was all over the radio and sitting at #2 the very same week, namely the rather appalling take on Can’t Help Falling In Love by UB40. I’ll spare your ears.

JC

A FOLLOW-ON FROM YESTERDAY’S POSTING

I mentioned yesterday that The Twilight Sad are often very good when they re-imagine and strip back some of their best-loved songs.

This is from the 2013 album, Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave:-

mp3: The Twilight Sad – Last January

The following year, Òran Mór Session, a hand-numbered tour-only CD was made available, consisting of stripped-down recordings of songs from the 2013 album, as well as a cover song not previously available in any shape or form:-
Both are quite special in their own different ways.

JC

A VERY MIXED BAG

It was just over three years ago that Echo & The Bunnymen released The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon.  The idea, apart from two completely new songs, was to re-record and re-imagine some of their best-known older material, primarily leaning on strings, synths and orchestration.  The reviews weren’t that great, and so I gave it a body swerve.

It has stayed that way until a few weeks ago when I, ahem, acquired, a digital copy of the album.

I’ll try and be a bit positive by saying that a couple of the new versions are interesting, if a bit clichéd, almost as if they’ve been done with one eye on being picked up by the folk compiling the soundtrack to a Hollywood movie or as mood music as the credits roll on the latest episode of a ‘must-see’ TV series.

Overall, however, the album is a real letdown, not only failing to add anything genuinely appealing to some great songs but going beyond that and somehow making something that was previously good become something that borders on the criminal.

The opening notes of album opener Bring On The Dancing Horses sound as if it’s about to be sung by John Shuttleworth.

Lips Like Sugar is like a version you’d find on an old Top of The Pops budget album where the session musicians came in for the original players.  Well, that was my view on first hearing….later listens made me think it was Coldplay covering the Bunnymen.

And please, just spare us The Cutter.  It’s an absolute shocker, with all the originality replaced by a pub band.

Two songs do save it from being thrown into the recycle bin.

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Zimbo (transformed)
mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon (transformed)

I give the former pass marks for the fact that they take a song which had been a tour de force thanks to the drumming of the late Pete de Freitas, and strip it back to not much more than a vocal and electric guitar/piano. It’s something which many bands, such as Arab Strap and The Twilight Sad, do very well in the live environment, and Zimbo is one that I’d very much like to hear done that way in an intimate environment.

The Killing Moon is such an epic song that the only way it could have been transformed was in a totally stripped back way.  It does suffer from Mac’s voice no longer being the powerful tool it was in the mid 80s. And yes, it has that soundtrack feel to it, but pop and rock stars have got to make a crust in any way possible these days.  But despite all this, it is one that I’ve been able to listen to on repeated occasions without hitting any fast-forward buttons.

I make no apologies for not offering you the opportunity to listen today to some of the ones that I think stink the place out.  You’re all smart enough to go digging elsewhere and find them for yourselves.

JC

THE TRAIN SET

 

The debut single by The Train Set, was released in September 1988, but I only became aware of it, and them, through the release of the 3x CD C88 box set on Cherry Red Records back in 2017.

mp3: The Train Set – She’s Gone

Here’s the blurb from the accompanying booklet;-

The Train Set’s ‘She’s Gone’ made Single of The Week in NME and was the highest entry of the week in the indie charts upon release – not bad for a debut offering. Hailing from Crewe (the band chose the name to cryptically reference Crewe’s legendary train station) and rehearsing om a small farm in Cheshire, The Train Set quickly found itself touring with the Happy Mondays and James among others. With a sound falling somewhere between that of the guitar work of Johnny Marr and the vocals of Ian McCulloch, ‘She’s Gone’ was followed up by 1989’s ‘Hold On’. Additional tracks weren’t unveiled until Firestation Records curated the well-received compilation, Never California (2015).

I was surprised to easily find an official website devoted to The Train Set, but then again, I didn’t know the band had reformed shortly before the C88 box set had come out.  From the info on the website, I can add that the band consisted of Clive Jones (vocals), Andy Boote (guitars), Mark Shaw (bass), Adam Halford (drums) and Dave Hassall (keyboards).  Many hours of rehearsing and writing paid off when after a demo tape led to them being signed by the Manchester-based label, Play Hard.

The debut single, which was pressed up only on 12″ vinyl,  was indeed given rapturous praise in the NME:-

“The Train Set have done their growing up in private and will now have no trouble copping off with the entire teenage nation of orphaned Smiths fans. Anyone who can rhyme ‘Avignon’ with ‘Warrington’ deserves the last of the Blue Peter badges. Puts every other debut single release this week in the shade.”

An interview with the Louder Than War website in 2017 provides the info on what happened next.

“It was great to get such fantastic reviews for our first single. It was also great to hear John Peel play it and say very positive things about it. One minute nobody had heard of us, the next we had sold out of all our initial pressings in one week. It was a great single.

Then the bad news – nobody else could get hold of She’s Gone. It sold out of the first run of pressings in five days so we needed more and when Play Hard rang up the pressing plant to print more copies to meet demand they were told that they could not press anymore. When asked why, they were told to contact Red Rhino (the distributors) who then told Play Hard that they had gone into liquidation that week. So there we were promoting a single nobody could get their hands on.”

The second single ended up being delayed and that initial burst of energy and momentum, which included those shows with James and Happy Mondays in October 1993, was wasted.

Straight after the second single the bass player decided to quit, and by the time a nee recruit was found, the band had lost contact with their label.  There was some interest from other labels, but before anything could happen, the drummer called it a day and the singer decided to go to university, thus bringing an end to the band, until their revival in 2016 to capitalise on the hugely positive reviews for the Firestation compilation, with some live gigs, culminating in the Shiiine On Weekender festival in November 2016.

Here’s the two other tracks from the debut single:-

mp3: The Train Set – Stop Stallling (Sob Stories)
mp3: The Train Set – Beautiful Monster

It was, I’d like to think you’ll agree, a very fine debut. It’s a 45 that, if the unfortunate circumstances around the collapse of Red Rhino hadn’t occurred, would likely have been something of a minor hit.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 27)

Extricate, the band’s first album of the new decade, was released to almost universal critical acclaim in February 1990.  Brix Smith was no more but the return of Martin Bramah had seemingly reignited MES and the rest of The Fall.  The live shows were also going well, and it looked as if the band was going through a stable and happy period, in complete contrast to the previous eighteen months.

It’s worth mentioning in passing that the live shows now occasionally involved an expanded version of the group as Charlotte Bill (oboe and flute) and Kenny Brady (fiddle), both of whom had made contributions to songs on Extricate, were involved in some of the tours in 1990.

The relationship with Phonogram seemed to have got off to a good start, and evidence of MES perhaps softening his attitude towards record company bosses can be seen from the fact that the next single, was a track that had been part of the recently released album, and added to the fact that Telephone Thing was also to be found on Extricate, made this (by my reckoning) the first Fall album from which two 45s had been lifted.

mp3: The Fall – Popcorn Double Attraction

Released in early March 1990, Popcorn Double Attraction would be left off many of the later compilations, such as 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong (2004), and with it not breaking into the Top 75, means that it is all to easy to forget it was released as a single.  It was a strange choice for a 45, but then again with all the previous evidence of The Fall only being able to enjoy hits when they did covers, then maybe it was the obvious one.

Yup, the original dates back to 1967, a flop single by The Searchers, a Merseybeat band who had enjoyed great success between 1963 and 1965, most often through cover versions of R’nB numbers previously recorded by American singers or bands.  MES at the time of the single paid tribute to The Searchers, saying he preferred them to The Beatles.

The single was released on 7″, 12″ and CD.  There was an additional limited edition version, of just 3,000 copies each, on 7″ and 12″ with different artwork and different b-sides.

mp3: The Fall – Butterflies 4 Brains (7″, 12″ and CD)
mp3: The Fall – Arms Control Poseur (12″ and CD)
mp3: The Fall – Zandra (7″ and 12″ limited editions)
mp3: The Fall – Black Monk Theme Part 2 (12″ limited edition)

This is a rather strange collection of songs, and in some ways of more merit than the actual single.  Butterflies 4 Brains, or least the opening minute or so, reminds me of the sound of  Inspiral Carpets….or maybe that’s just the strange wiring of my brain as MES would join with the band a few years later in creating a hit single, leading to his one and only appearance on Top of The Pops.

Arms Control Poseur was included on the CD edition of Extricate (it had four more tracks than the vinyl version) but it was a slightly longer, marginally faster and in some ways more commercially produced version which was included on the single.  I don’t think it’s as good as the album version, which has a brilliant guitar piece, reminiscent of Robert Fripp on Bowie’s Scary Monsters album, to the forefront, and which is tucked away on the single version.  See what you think….

mp3: The Fall – Arms Control Poseur (album version)

Zandra, which remember was only available on the limited edition singles, is a short number.  Almost upbeat in nature, and unusually for a Fall song, is named after and about a woman.  It seems kind of throwaway, as perhaps can be evidenced by the fact it was never played live.  The writing credits on this one are Smith/Beddington, but it is widely known that Beddington was a pseudonym used by Martin Bramah.

Black Monk Theme Part 2 can also be found on the CD version of Extricate, while Black Monk Theme Part 1 can be found on the vinyl version (as well as the CD version).  Unusually, these aren’t two takes on the same song…..

The Monks were an American garage rock band from the 60s.  Part 1, as done by The Fall, was in fact a cover of the song I Hate You, while Part 2 was a cover of Oh, How To Do Now, both of which had been released in 1966 on the album Black Monk Time.   More examples of MES being a human jukebox of the most obscure and occasionally magnificent type.

JC