SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #305: SLUTS OF TRUST

Sluts of Trust were formed in 2002 by John McFarlane (guitar/vocals) and Anthony O’Donnell (drums).

An early gig at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow saw members of Aereogramme in the audience, who recommended them to their label, Chemikal Underground.

They would go on to record two singles and one album for the label, We Are All Sluts of Trust which was released in April 2004. But the studio was never really their forte, as indeed acknowledged on the Chem website:-

“…a thunderously enjoyable duo whose live shows were a collision of AC/DC, White Stripes, Queen and Sparks – they were that good. Recording their debut album in the old Chem19 with Paul Savage over a series of mostly live takes, ‘We Are All Sluts Of Trust’ is a terrifically sleazy proposition: songs like ‘Greatest Gift’, ‘Piece O’ You’ and ‘Lets…’ are, if we’re going to be brutally honest, relentlessly sexual and none the worse for it.”

I don’t ever recall seeing Sluts of Trust given that they appear to be a duo who left an impression, good or bad.

They undertook an American tour as support to burlesque dance group Suicide Girls – something I remember reading about and which put my oh-so politically correct self right off them.

In early 2005, Anthony O’Donnell took his leave of the band and was replaced by Roo Harris. The new line-up played extensively that year, including as special guests of Bloc Party during a lengthy European tour.

There hasn’t been much activity from the band since then, and there’s certainly been no new music for what is now 18 years. I don’t have a copy of the album, but two of the band’s songs were included on Dramatis Personae, a compilation CD/DVD issued by Chem to celebrate its first eleven years of activities:-

mp3: Sluts of Trust – Piece O’ You

JC

KEEPING A PROMISE

A few weeks back, in offering up the opportunity to enjoy Hey Boy Hey Girl, I made reference to the fact it has been ripped from the Surrender 20th Anniversary vinyl box set.

Like all carefully curated box sets, this one things to really make the purchase worthwhile:-

– the original album, on 2 x vinyl records, transparent coloured (if that’s such a thing!)
– a 12″ mini-album, with four previously unreleased Secret Psychedelic Mixes of five songs
– a further 12″ single, containing three b-sides from the era together with two remixes by Sasha and Soulwax
– a DVD with three promos of singles lifted from Surrender along with the footage of their Glastonbury 2000 performance, which is still reckoned to have drawn the biggest ever crowd to the Pyramid Stage.
– a 28-page full size booklet with photos, essays and observations from musicians and others involved in the making of the album
– four 12″ x 12″ art prints

I was very tempted to offer up the 21-minute Secret Psychedelic Mix of Out of Control, but I feared I might have lost a few of you, possibly for all time. It is an amazing piece of music, but listening to it all the way through will leave you exhausted, especially if you dance along all the way through. Instead, here’s something a bit more gentle and soothing:-

mp3 : The Chemical Brothers – Dream On (Secret Psychedelic Mix)

The original version is the closing song on Surrender and features a vocal from Jonathan Donohue of Mercury Rev. The booklet in the box set reveals, surprisingly as far as I’m concerned, that it was the first track recorded and completed for the album.

JC

FAC 3 : GIG POSTER

Designed by Peter Saville to promote a gig on Friday 20 October 1978.

FAC3 was actually intended at one point to be a single by The Tiller Boys, but the plans were shelved.  However, as part of the Use Hearing Protection box set, a ‘white label’ 12″ record was included, containing what would have been the three tracks:-

mp3: The Tiller Boys – Big Noise From The Jungle
mp3: The Tiller Boys – Slaves and Pyramids
mp3: The Tiller Boys – What Me Worry?

Their inclusion in the box set, however, is not the first time the tracks have been available on vinyl, as they were issued on the New Hormones label, as a 7″ single, in February 1980.

But who were The Tiller Boys? The basic info is that they were an experimental trio with Krautrock/Eno tendencies, consisting of Francis Cookson, Eric Random and Pete Shelley. The three tracks above certainly bear that description out.

It is also reckoned that they played no more than five or six gigs all told, of which Pete Shelley participated in two or three…..the memories of those involved are a tad foggy. It certainly does seem, however, that any folk who went along expecting something akin to the post-punk pop of Buzzcocks were left bewildered and with something of a pounding headache after each short set.

The three tracks issues by New Hormones were the only music ever commercially released by The Tiller Boys.

JC

YOU HAD A KIND FACE

Imaginary Compilation Album #17 was posted in June 2015.

It featured my take on Butcher Boy, a band whose roots are in Irvine, a new town built in the 60s in Ayrshire some 30 miles south-west of Glasgow, and whose residents were primarily families from my home city who had moved as a result of their tenement houses being demolished and/or the main bread winner (usually the man in those days) moving to where work could be found.  Two other such new towns were built a bit nearer Glasgow at the same time – Cumbernauld and East Kilbride – with the latter becoming very well-known in music circles thanks to the emergence of Aztec Camera and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Butcher Boy came together in the middle part of the 2000s, when lead singer, guitarist and songwriter John Hunt gathered some like-minded souls to initially record an EP and album for London-based How Does It Feel To Be Loved.  I mentioned in the ICA piece that I picked up the debut album, Profit In Your Poetry, at the end of 2007 on my return from a spell living and working in Toronto having read all sorts of good things about the band and that their influences very much seemed to tick all my boxes with The Smiths, Tindersticks, Felt, Belle & Sebastian, R.E.M. and Go-Betweens all mentioned.

Having then given the album a rave review on the old blog, a member of the band got in touch to invite me along to a live show and to let me know a second album, React or Die (2009) was on the way. Cutting a long story short, all this led to me becoming something of a devotee of Butcher Boy but also being in the very lucky position of being able to become good friends with various band members and others who helped out behind the scenes, to the extent that I ended up putting on a gig in 2011 to help with the promotion of their third album, Helping Hands, which was issued that year by Damaged Goods Records.

It was inevitable that Butcher Boy would feature early on once the ICA concept for this blog had been established.  The ten tracks I picked out were all taken from the three studio albums, and it was compiled at a time when there was no clear indication of the band writing and recording any further material. All the musicians had busy and important careers beyond Butcher Boy, and trying to get all eight of them together, including a cellist, violinist and violist in addition to the usual guitars, drums, bass and keyboards, was proving to be an ever increasingly complex challenge.

As it turned out, the EP Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet, again on Damaged Goods, was issued to coincide with Record Store Day 2017, with all three songs, in this fan’s opinion, taking them to new heights thanks to a guest co-vocalist and a choir involved in the sessions.

The outcome of chats with some band members between that release and across the period of the next couple of years had me convinced that Butcher Boy were unlikely to get back together again, but I consoled myself with the fact that they had left behind an exceptional body of work. And then, to my delight and surprise, I was told that the writer Pete Paphides had been in touch with a serious suggestion.

Pete had fallen heavily for the music of Butcher Boy and, having got his label Needle Mythology up and running, said that he would like to release a Butcher Boy compilation on vinyl, especially given that all three studio albums were only issued on CD.  Suitably stirred, the band got back together in 2020 to return, in stages, to the studio and record three new songs, two of which were originals and the other a cover of a track written by Keith Martin, a doyen of the Irvine post-punk music scene, and a friend of many in Butcher Boy.  Keith had very sadly passed away in 2018, at the age of 51.   He was the subject of this wonderful tribute by Craig McAllister, over at Plain or Pan.

The whole COVID thing, as well as the BREXIT nonsense causing issues with pressing plants in Europe, has led to delays in the issuing of the planned compilation, but it finally hit the shops last week. It is a thing of real beauty, both in terms of the 180gm vinyl and the achingly gorgeous sleeve notes, penned by award-winning author John Niven, another who was central to that Irvine scene.

You Had A Kind Face consists of twelve songs, with a bonus 7″ single containing the three tracks recorded in 2020.  The CD version has all fifteen tracks included.

Here’s the thing, and why I opened up with a reference to ICA#17;  ten songs from the three studio albums have been chosen for the compilation, and it turns out seven of those ten had been picked out by myself back in 2015 for that old ICA.  Even more remarkable is that the first three songs I had picked out to open the ICA turned out to be the same three, and in the exact same order, as selected to open You Had A Kind Face.  When I pointed this out in a text message to John Hunt, he sent a reply, complete with a bunch of appropriate emojis, that maybe he should have given me a call early in the process, given that he, the band members, and Pete Paphides, had all deliberated for weeks on end as to what should be included and indeed what the best running order would be.

Given all this, it can’t be any surprise that I am really loving the new compilation, to the extent that not much else is being played on the Villain Towers turntable just now.  The original songs have been given the remastering treatment, at Abbey Road studios no less, to wonderful effect, while the new songs on the bonus 7″ are a real joy, especially as I had long ago given up on hearing anything fresh after the 2017 EP.

Butcher Boy have always made music that is a cut above the ordinary, and You Had A Kind Face is a fitting and deserved release which will hopefully bring more of the attention and fulsome praise that should have been getting heaped on them from the outset.

mp3: Butcher Boy – Sunday Bells

This is one of the three album tracks that you’ll find on the new compilation that I didn’t manage to squeeze onto the ICA back in 2015.  Looking back, I have no idea how that state of affairs came about, but then again, I don’t know which of the other songs it could have replaced.

It was originally included on React or Die, which is probably the band’s true masterpiece and which no serious record collection should be without. What am I saying?   No serious record collection should be without any of the three studio albums, nor the new compilation.

JC

SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 57)

A GUEST POSTING by JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

April 26 is my 30th anniversary with Goldie the Friendly Therapist. So, it’s been half a lifetime since I’ve had to deal with romantic travails. But there’s one song that rockets me back to 1985, when I found out my girlfriend was cheating on me. We had an awful split and seeing her around the city afterwards was miserable. ‘Sometime Around Midnight’ is the only song I know by Airborne Toxic Event, but it captures exactly what it felt like. Hopefully you’re unfamiliar with the feelings described–the actual physical discomfort caused by heartbreak–but I suspect we’ve all been there.

And it starts
Sometime around midnight
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
For a minute or two

As you stand
Under the bar lights
And the band plays some song about forgetting yourself for a while
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile
And that white dress she’s wearing, you haven’t seen her
For a while

But you know
That she’s watching
She’s laughing, she’s turning
She’s holding her tonic like a cross
The room suddenly spinning, she walks up and asks how you are
So you can smell her perfume
You can see her lying naked in your arms

And so there’s a change
In your emotions
And all of these memories come rushing like feral waves to your mind
Of the curl of your bodies, like two perfect circles entwined
And you feel hopeless, and homeless, and lost in the haze of the wine

Then she leaves
With someone you don’t know
But she makes sure you saw her, she looks right at you and bolts
As she walks out the door
Your blood boiling, your stomach in ropes
And then your friends say “What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Then you walk
Under the streetlights
And you’re too drunk to notice that everyone is staring at you
You just don’t care what you look like
The world is falling around you

You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her

You know that she’ll break you in two

mp3: The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight

That was all a long time ago.   This is Goldie and my song now:-

mp3 : Cat Power – Sea of Love

JTFL

 

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Fifty-six: METAL POSTCARD (MITTAGEISEN)

I’m going to all academic on you today by lifting loads of words from Masterclass dot com .  I’m not a subscriber, but this article was available to read online, seemingly free of charge.  I’ll likely get into trouble for it.

“Post-punk music is an offshoot of punk rock that embraces greater ambition in terms of harmony, melody, rhythm, and lyrical content while retaining punk energy and urgency. Prominent post-punk bands such as Gang of Four, Wire, Joy Division, The Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, Sonic Youth, and Fugazi helped set the stage for the alternative rock explosion of the 1990s.

The post-punk movement closely overlaps with new wave music. While the new wave genre is more closely linked to popular bands like Talking Heads, New Order, Depeche Mode, and Duran Duran, it shared many musicians with the post-punk scene. For instance, Joy Division is often referred to as post-punk, but following the death of singer Ian Curtis, the remaining musicians carried on as New Order, which is widely considered a new wave group. Due to the close relationship between genres, post-punk is sometimes referred to as “no wave” music.

The post-punk scene arose from punk rock. Many post-punk musicians grew up as fans of bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, New York Dolls, and Minor Threat. In some cases, they were actual members of these bands, such as Public Image Ltd frontman John Lydon, who is perhaps better known as Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols.

* Post-punk spread: Post-punk music spread throughout the English-speaking world between the late ’70s and the mid ’90s. Major geographic hubs included New York, Washington, Boston, and Chicago, and the English cities of London, Manchester, and Leeds.

* Slight shift from punk: Some post-punks made only a slight departure from the raucous sounds of punk rock. Art rock-influenced groups like The Slits, Pere Ubu, and The Raincoats often sounded on the brink of collapse. Similar groups like The Birthday Party and The Stooges also brought a heaviness, courtesy of respective singers Nick Cave and Iggy Pop.

* Modernization: Other post-punk groups modernized for the 1980s, incorporating new technology, atmospheric layering, and pop hooks. Such groups included synth-pop acts like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and New Order.

* Adding rhythm: Yet another branch of post-punk made rhythm a core part of their identity. Bands influenced by dub and reggae included The Police and the Talking Heads, as well as electronic music pioneers in the Krautrock scene, such as Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Neu!

* A sophisticated sound: The post-punk era continued well into the 1990s and beyond, as groups like Fugazi, Girls Against Boys, Superchunk, Sonic Youth, The Fall, and many more combined punk’s DIY spirit with increased musical sophistication and a subtle knack for pop hooks.

Post-punk is an expansive genre, and different branches contain idiomatic characteristics.

1. Direct punk influence: Many post-punk groups retain the vast majority of the punk ethos and raw power. Groups like Killing Joke, Mission of Burma, and The Birthday Party can sound as intense as standard punk bands.

2. Appreciation for art rock: A large number of post-punks came of age via the psychedelic and avant-garde flirtations of 1970s acts like The Velvet Underground, Throbbing Gristle, David Bowie, and Brian Eno. Pere Ubu, Devo, Bauhaus, and The Raincoats carried on the experimental spirit of these musicians.

3. Embrace of synthesizers: Some post-punk hinges entirely around guitars. Other post-punk acts readily incorporated synthesizer technology, including Depeche Mode and goth rockers The Cure.

4. Jangly guitars: Post-punks who resisted synthesizers were likely to embrace trebly guitars that produced a Byrds-style “jangle.” Such groups included R.E.M., Orange Juice, and The dB’s.

5. Pop hooks: In many cases, punk rockers resisted commercial success at every turn. Many post-punks were far more open to such success and even actively chased it. The pop hooks of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Buzzcocks, R.E.M., Pixies, and Talking Heads differed from the traditional punk era.

6. “Angular” sounds: Post-punk groups like Wire, Gang of Four, and Fugazi were described as “angular.” This appears to refer to their treble-focused guitar amps with minimal reverb, and their choice of guitar riffs and chord progressions that steered clear of the folk music that defined much of early rock ‘n’ roll. This aural sensation would carry on to more contemporary post-punk bands, like Interpol and The Knife.

7. Strong support from music journalists: Unlike other 1980s genres, such as dance pop and hair metal, post-punk received steady praise from music critics. Outlets supported post-punk records like Wire’s 154, PiL’s Metal Box, Gang of Four’s Entertainment!, and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. Groups like the new wave Talking Heads, the gothic rock combo The Cure, and iconoclasts Fugazi were also commended.

It’s clearly written from an American perspective, and I’m guessing by someone quite young who is looking back at things without having lived through the era.  There are some interesting points made along the way, but some of the examples highlighted to support the conclusions seem baffling.

For instance, Siouxsie and the Banshees get a mention late on under the section on pop hooks, which I can understand if you focus solely on the later-era, but it fails to acknowledge and recognise that one of their earliest songs, as included on The Scream (1978) is, in this music fan’s opinion, the definitive post-punk song of them all:-

mp3: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)

I always forget that this was re-recorded with German lyrics and released as a double-A sided single, along with Love In A Void, in September 1979, probably because I don’t own a copy of that particular 7″.  But as you know, not owning things doesn’t stop activities at TVV:-

mp3: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Mittageisen (Metal Postcard)

Let’s complete things with the faster-paced Peel Session version, first broadcast on 5 December 1977:-

mp3: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Metal Postcard (Peel Session)

 

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 44)

Thankfully, the release of the Rude (All The Time) EP was quickly followed up by a new single.

26 September 2005.  It’s a double-A sided single, with a cover version on one side and an original on the other:-

mp3: The Fall – I Can Hear The Grass Grow
mp3: The Fall – Clasp Hands

It was issued on yet another different and new label – Slogan Records – an imprint of Sanctuary Records, which at the time was a hugely successful operation in the UK and under whom, via various other imprints, The Fall had enjoyed the fruits of some excellent box sets/compilations, not least The Complete Peel Sessions in 2004.

It proved to be a lead-off single for the 24th studio album, Fall Heads Roll, which would be released exactly a week later.

I Can Hear The Grass Grow dated from 1967, by the psychedelia pop band, The Move, fronted by Roy Wood. It had been a #5 hit back in the day.

Clasp Hands was attributed to Mark E Smith and Steve Trafford, the latest in what was proving to be a long line of bassists in The Fall. He joined what had been an otherwise steady line-up alongside Elena Poulou and Ben Pritchard, while the drums on the album were played by a returning Spencer Birtwhistle, back in the fold for a second stint to take over from Dave Milner.

There were just 1,000 copies of the 7″ pressed up, and you can look to pay upwards of £30 these days is you fancy picking up a second-hand copy.

Incidentally, the reason I keep mentioning all the different and returning personnel, as well as the umpteen labels on which The Fall ended up being part of, is to illustrate just how chaotic it all was, with musicians not really knowing what was happening with each passing recording session while MES kept complete control in the manner he liked.  I’ll return to that very subject again next week……

 

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #304: SLOW WEATHER

Second week running that a band which is part of the Last Night From Glasgow roster makes its debut on the blog via this ridiculously long-running series.

Slow Weather consists of Chris McCrory and Annie Booth.

Chris McCrory is something of a mainstay of the Glasgow music scene, as a producer and composer but probably best as the frontman of Catholic Action,  a band whose sound has been described as being deeply indebted to classic rockers like Status Quo, The Cars and T. Rex, with two albums  to date, In Memory Of….(2017) and Celebrated By Strangers (2020) being issued by the Liverpool-based Modern Sky UK label.

Annie Booth, is described on Bandcamp as a modern folk singer, performer and songwriter, with a flair for the nostalgic and the melancholy.  She has been a member of Mt. Doubt (another act on LNFG) since 2015, while forging a solo career through two albums, An Unforgiving Light (2015) and the just-released Lazybod, along with the Spectral EP (2019).

Spectral was the first time that Chris McCrory had produced music by Annie Booth and the two of them enjoyed things so much that they started writing songs together, all of which led to them deciding to form Slow Weather whose debut, and thus far, sole EP, Clean Living, was released in November 2020.

The sound is a long way from Catholic Action’s rock roots and while perhaps it is closer to what you would find on Annie Booth’s solo material, there’s certainly enough going on across its five tracks to make it worth listening to a few times over.   This was the lead-off digital single:-

mp3: Slow Weather – Great White Male

If you like what you’re hearing today, you can listen to more at Souncloud via this link, and then you could think about putting in an order via LNFG…..but your own close-by independent record shop should be able to help out

JC

SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 56)

I make no apologies for bringing back Aidan Moffat for a second successive chapter, but this is more of a horror story than anything else.

Arab Strap really did come back with a huge bang in 2021.  As Days Get Dark, the first album in sixteen years, is superb. This is one of its stand-out tracks:-

mp3: Arab Strap – Fable of the Urban Fox

They came in from the country
They were hounded from their homes
They’d always dreamed about the city
With its towers and spires and domes
So the dog fox and his vixen
Vowed to flee their savage fields
To a land of hope and glory
And a future it could yield

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

But the city didn’t want the foxes, the city didn’t care
Their help and hope and heart and hearth they dreamed of weren’t there
So they scavenged and they foraged
Slept from shitty place to places
Among the hostile architecture
And all the hostile faces

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

And the daily papers found their plight and presence most concerning
Their headlines screamed enough’s enough, we’re overcome with vermin
These foxes skulk around our streets
The locals live in fear
These scruffy scrounging parasites
They don’t belong ’round here

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

One night they met a bulldog
He said, “What you doing here, then?”
They told him of the redcoats, of their fallen the hunted brethren
They said, “There is no going home now, the land we love is cruel”
The dog said, “Fuck off back to Foxland, these streets are fucking full”

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

One cold and hungry night, they find their dinner sitting pretty
The foxes can’t believe their luck, who keeps chickens in the city?
But the chicken lover sees them prowl his pricey habitat
So he bashes both their heads in with his trusty cricket bat

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

A few months after the album was released, a new version of the song was recorded, with a marginally edited lyric that made it radio-friendly. It’s a minute or so shorter than the original and was released as a digital single, which I would hope you will buy from here.  It’s also where you’ll have the chance to view the promo video, which itself is an excellent short film.

mp3: Arab Strap – Fable of the Urban Fox (Check/Fault Mix)

In the accompanying press release for the new version, Aidan Moffat said:-

“When I wrote the lyrics for this in 2019, I was hoping its obvious allegorical message might not be relevant by the time it came out, but sadly it seems the lack of humanity in government and influence of rightwing media continues to prevail. We had a lot of good feedback for the album version, so it was suggested we release it as a single, but we felt it was a bit too long and attempted to trim it—but one thing led to another, and pretty soon it became a proper remix with new parts and drums, much like we did with ‘(Afternoon) Soaps’ back in the old days. So it’s the same song in a new outfit—a tighter fit for a new season, suitable for all occasions.”

Did anyone mention Priti Patel and Rwanda?

JC

BONUS HI-QUALITY VINYL RIPS

Having finished typing up the posting which appeared yesterday, I was immediately struck by the need to make it up for inflicting The Cowboy Song on you.

It took me all of a minute to reach into the big cupboard of vinyl, and in particular where the 7″ singles are stacked, somewhat precariously it has to be admitted, as I’ve long ago run out of the required storage space.

mp3: Orange Juice – Blue Boy
mp3: Orange Juice – Love Sick

It’s a stupendous piece of vinyl, with two of the very best Edwyn Collins compositions on offer. It has the catalogue number Postcard 80-2, and I’d love to say that my copy is a first pressing. If it was, it would have a blue label, and it would be housed in a sleeve in which the members of Orange Juice, and various friends, were supposed to hand-colour the drawing, but almost all of them ended up just being scribbled on akin to what you can see in the photo above.

As it is, my copy is the second pressing, which came with brown labels and was housed in the standard dark brown Postcard sleeve…but even then, my copy, which was picked up second-hand about twenty years ago, is housed in a plain white sleeve.  But given I paid no more than £2 for it as part of a job-lot of Scottish jingly-jangly and pop singles being sold by someone who reckoned they no longer had any need for their vinyl, then I can’t really complain.  As you’ll hear, apart from the very odd and faint pop, the vinyl on both sides of the single is in excellent condition.

I reckon that’s the first time I’ve popped the vinyl onto the turntable since acquiring the new equipment a couple of years ago.  It sounded tremendous, and I really did pick up things much more clearly than I normally do when putting it through the i-pod as an mp3.  Or maybe I just gave my ears a good clean earlier on?

JC

NOISE ANNOYS?

The question posed by the title of the posting relates to the b-side of the 45 I’m having a look today:-

mp3: Public Image Ltd – The Cowboy Song

It borders on unlistenable, but then again, I’m assuming that was the whole point of it.  Julian Cope, over at Head Heritage, provides as perfect a description as there is:-

“The Cowboy Song”is a throwaway single that sounds like it was ALREADY tossed into the bin: the screech of a needle being ripped and torn back and forth across the surface of a record cuts in as the single begins. Then you hear Lydon in the studio tell the producer it’s so loud, they can’t hear the backing track. Ha; like they fucking even needed to, as they are preparing to scream and toss tambourines in the studio over a towering bass drive and general overall mayhem. The ludicrous “Thick As A Brick”-styled newspaper parody this single originally came wrapped in details the ‘lyrics’ (16 lines of “clipy ty clop/clipy ty clop/clipy ty clop”) but they do not appear on the single. Or if they do, they are drowned out by a deafening racket of multi-tracked screaming, talking and general pandemonium. The only distinct sound is that of the bass guitar of John Wardle (aka Jah Wobble) although it’s oddly un-dub and pre-set to ultra-strum. The lyrics should’ve been “Make it stop/make it stop/Make it stop” so that everybody who bought this single in 1978 could sing along. There’s also further stylus-scratching effects just to drive the rest of us up the wall. When the noise finally subsists, only Lydon’s coughing and sputtering of amphetamine-loosened phlegm can be heard — right before the record picks up after being trapped in the locked-groove for a revolution and a half.

I don’t have the single, but I do have a vinyl copy of Public Image : First Issue, the debut album, on which it is included:-

mp3: Public Image Limited – Public Image

Issued in October 1978, meaning it’s not that long until it turns 44 years of age.  I think it’s fair to say that the tune, and in particular, that killer bass line, have aged spectacularly well. For those who like the technical side of things, (hi JTFL!!!!) it seems it was Wardle’s/Wobble first bass line that he presented to the rest of the group, Keith Levene‘s guitars were double-tracked on the back of a live take and Lydon’s vocals went through a Space-Echo (aka Roland RE-201), a bit of kit which produced delay and reverb effects.

Me?  I just love dancing to it.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #311: NEIL YOUNG (2)

A GUEST POSTING by WALTER

JC writes…..

As the opening line of the piece indicates, this should have appeared weeks ago.  It got lost somewhere along the line, but thankfully, after a quick exchange of emails between Glasgow and Stuttgart, it was all sorted out.  Here’s Walter, the sage of the consistently excellent and very diverse, A Few Good Times In My Life.

Hi Jim

Inspired by the post of Adam a few days ago and your post last week I decided to realize another ICA of Neil Young over the weekend. And I have to say that it was a difficult work. Not only to select ten songs from an over 40 years old career, it was also a hard work not to name the same songs you did. But finally it should be my ICA and I think it is legitimate to name some songs of your choice in my selection. On the other hand, I thought about to select songs from his pre-solo career with Buffalo Springfield or CSN&Y. But finally I decided to take the songs from the days of his early recordings in the late 60’s to his 1990 classic Ragged Glory. I think I don’t have to say much about Mr. Young so let’s start:

1. Powderfinger (from Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)

The first song on the electric side of Rust Never Sleeps shows how to combine a story about the death of a young Indian with his electric guitar. Neil recorded this song a few years previous as a solo version and handed it to Ronnie Van Zant, but he couldn’t record it because he died in an airplane crash in 1977. The lyrics at the end of the song will never be forgotten:

Just think of me as one you never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love; I know I’ll miss her

2. Cinnamon Girl (from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 1969)

On his second album, he left the folk road and chose that heavy sound he got famous for. This song has one of those classic riffs many other artists would die for. But it was not only the sound that makes this song so special, it was also the arrangement of Neil Young’s and Danny Whitten‘s vocals that I could name nearly perfect.

3. Sugar Mountain (from Live at Carnegie Hall, 1970)

Originally released as flip-side of Cinnamon Girl and The Loner, it is one of those songs he recorded many times during his history. I like this version because it shows Neil while he was obviously in good health and in a good mood making conversations with the audience and starting the song solo a second time.

4. Winterlong (from Decade a sampler of his early years)

This song is a rarity and as far as I know never released on one of his albums before, and showing me that many of his unreleased songs from this decade were better that many of regular released songs by other artists. Black Francis once said about Winterlong

“I thought about it a lot. There’s some kind of commitment to trying to find the ultimate performance of it. I certainly love the arrangement of the song. There’s not really a chorus in the song, but it sounds like a really chorus-y song. It has very classic/traditional kind of chord shapes in it, like ’50s rock, but it has a much more nuanced arrangement than you would think, kind of like a Roy Orbison song or something like that.”

5. Tonight’s The Night (from Tonight’s The Night, 1973)

Written after the deaths of Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, he wrote a song while he struggled about their deaths from drug overdoses. The death of the companions certainly contributed to Young’s publication of the dark, depressed masterpieces in the following years.

6. Cortez The Killer (from Zuma, 1975)

This song is the highlight of this album and probably one of the best live songs of all times, and describes the brutality of Hernán Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of the Aztec Empire. Neil Young shows his very own sight of the history and how Cortez destroyed a high class culture because the Aztecs were peaceful and representing a sort of utopian non-violent society. And this is another great song about peace and love.

7. Too Far Gone (from Freedom, 1993)

Just another great song about a lost love, representing the other side of him. It is not easy to put great feelings in a few verses. And this one is simply superb.

8. Revolution Blues (from On The Beach, 1974)

A song with references to Charles Manson and his family who met Young in the days when he also lived in Topanga Canyon. You can discuss if it is necessary to write a song inspired by Manson or not, but probably one reason might be because it was a depressive day Neil had to go through. Anyway, assisted by The Band’s rhythm section and David Crosby on guitar he made one of his greatest songs ever.

9. Fuckin’ Up (from Ragged Glory)

With this album, he returned into the sound he explored in the days of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Zuma. It was an album I didn’t expected from him, and he shows (especially in this song) that he wasn’t to old to show some grunge and garage bands how to play guitar dominated music.

10. My My, Hey Hey / Out Of The Blue (from Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)

For me the better version than the electric one Into The Black and perfect to finish this ICA. A lot of things I like is in this song. And the lyrics are epic.

The king is gone but he’s not forgotten
Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?
It’s better to burn out ’cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.

Walter

 

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Fifty-five: SHOW OF STRENGTH/WITH A HIP

Part 55 of the series, and I’m offering up something a little different.

I distinctly remember the first time I played Heaven Up Here. The stereo I had at the time was quite basic, but it was all I could afford at the time.  Besides, I was still living at home and sharing a room with two brothers and so didn’t have full access to the space at all times, meaning the idea of spending money on a fancy hi-fi rig with separate turntable, speakers and amps would have been the height of lunacy.

Despite all this, I could tell that Show of Strength was something else.   The Bunnymen hitting a higher peak than ever before.   It had hit single written all over it.  But no sooner had I finished shaking my shoulders and doing the jerky dance to the album opener, my ears were exposed to With A Hip.

Good gawd almighty…..it was beyond belief.  As powerful and immediate an opening one-two punch as anything I had in my growing collection.  Move over The Jam.….there’s a new band in town really vying for my attention.

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Show of Strength/With A Hip

I still think it beggars belief that all involved decided not to release any singles, other than A Promise, from the album.

Another thing to mention….I was very pleasantly surprised that there were so few minor pops and clicks on this piece of vinyl, given how often I played it back in the day and how many different abodes it has accompanied me to – two student flats, four rooms in shared accommodation in Edinburgh, living with the soon-to-be-in-laws in Midlothian, the first marital home in East Lothian, the temporary space in Edinburgh after said marriage broke up, the first flat that myself and Rachel moved into in Glasgow city centre, and finally right here in Villain Towers out on the south side of the city since the summer of 1995.

JC

THE FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 43)

Remember a few weeks ago when Rude (All The Time), released as a single in 2001, was featured in this series?

Today, it’s the turn of the Rude (All The Time) EP, which was released, with a limited pressing of 2,000 copies, on CD in June 2005. It consisted of four tracks –

Distilled Mug Art (Mix 15);  I Wake Up In The City (Mix 5);  My Ex Classmates Kids (Mix 4); and Where’s The Fuckin Taxi? Cunt (Mix 17).

I can’t really tell you much about this other than what I’ve found at various fan websites devoted to The Fall.

I failed to mention a few weeks ago, the release of 2G+2, an album from 2002 which consisted partly of studio tracks and partly of live numbers, recorded at various times during a tour of the USA in 2001. It was actually the first release on Action Records, pre-dating the Susan vs Youthclub single by a few months.

Distilled Mug Art was the opening track on 2G+2, and by all accounts the version on this particular EP doesn’t greatly differ, as I haven’t been able to track down Mix 15, so you’ll have to make do with this:-

mp3: The Fall – Distilled Mug Art

The EP also included I Wake Up In The City, which had first appeared as the b-side to Rude (All The Time) when it had been released as a single in 2001 and was posted a few weeks ago.

My Ex Classmates Kids also appeared in this series recently, thanks to it a live version being a b-side to Theme From Sparta FC #2.  I really don’t feel there’s any merit in going digging for these particular versions and posting them today.

Which leaves us with this|:-

mp3: The Fall – Where’s The Fuckin Taxi? Cunt

A fan website offers up this info:-

One of the group’s more notorious tracks, this is a recording of a drunken conversation between MES, Ed Blaney and a couple of others over a taxi which somehow fails to arrive. There’s no music as such except for an acoustic guitar lazily strummed from time to time. Not surprisingly, it has never been played live.

I think it’s fair comment to suggest that this particular single is of very little merit, and I did think about bypassing it altogether.  But with just 2,000 copies in circulation, it is a sought-after artefact among the completists (which I most certainly am not!).  Oh, and in recognition of its insignificance, I’ve altered the title of the series this week.

Finally, the label on which this was released was Hip Priest, an imprint primarily brought into being to issue live recordings from back in the late 70s and early 80s.

I bet there’s not a worse posting than this on any music blogs the world over on Easter Sunday 2022.

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #303: SLIME CITY

Slime City are a band from Glasgow, Scotland who play fast existentialist nerd rock for people who like sighing but also fighting.

That’s as much as you get from the Bandcamp page. I can add that the three members of Slime City used to be in We Are The Physics, a band that was around from 2005-2013 and who described their sound as “mutant science punk rock”.

The three members of Slime City are Michael M (bass and vocals), Michealdrums (drums and vocals) and Michaelguitar (guitar and vocals). I’ll lift the rest from a live review of a gig played at the Hug and Pint in Glasgow in September 2021, one of the first post-lockdown gigs to tale place in the city after a gap of 18 months, written for the Is This Music? website:-

The venue is pretty full for the first Slime City gig in quite some time…and the headliners do not disappoint.

The music is staccato, stop/start, with pounding riffs and angular diversions. At one point the guitarist is stopped mid-song by Michael M as he goes into a solo – “you’re not Eddie Van fucking Halen…”… This band do not take themselves too seriously and pretty much all the songs are a critique (and sometimes a caricature) of music.

The crowd certainly let off some steam, and it was one of the most welcome returns of recent weeks, showing just what we had missed.

I’ve picked up a couple of singles, thanks to the band being connected to Last Night From Glasgow, the co-operative label that is doing so much to energise and revitalise music in my home city.

mp3: Slime City – Less Jools More Top Of The Pops

There was a fun-filled lyric video posted by the band when the single was first released back in 2018. I think it’s worth pointing for any overseas readers not otherwise familiar that Later with Jools Holland, which began in 1992 and is now in its 58th series, has in recent years become the sole output for rock and pop music on the BBC. It hasn’t really been worth watching in a long while.

I might one day get round to telling the story behind Glasgow Is A Shitehole, the other single I’ve managed to pick up.

JC

OFFSHOOTS

While seeking inspiration for stuff to bore you with, I’ve been musing about what must be hundreds of songs that initially I’ve come across on blogs etc., which have subsequently been downloaded without paying any attention to any backstory and me, years later, then frantically trying to trace where it came from.

I’ve a song on the hard drive on which Lloyd Cole provides vocals.  It’s by The 6ths, whom I looked up a long while back and learned were a side project of Stephen Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

In the 6ths, Merritt writes and plays songs which are then sung by other artists. There have been two albums to date – Wasps’ Nests (1995), and Hyacinths and Thistles (1999). I’m assuming, given the time that has elapsed since that second album, no more 6ths releases are in the pipeline.

The thing is, Lloyd Cole isn’t featured on either album. Nor has the song, to the best of my knowledge, ever been issued on a Lloyd Cole record, either as a b-side or bonus track. It was all a bit of a mystery that I was determined to solve.

It turns out that in 2000, a tribute album to The Human League was issued by the American label, March Records.   It was called Reproductions, and it has sixteen tracks on it, opening with Stephen Merritt’s solo take on Get Carter, and closing with this:-

mp3: The 6ths with Lloyd Cole – Human

The original was the first single taken from the album Crash, and it reached #8 in the UK in August 1986.   I’m assuming, given the 6ths two studio albums consisted of songs written by Stephen Merritt, that this being a cover was a reason it never appeared on either of them…it must have been recorded around the same times the sessions for Hyacinths and Thistles.

Looking things up, I discovered that a vocalist who was recently the subject of an ICA, had guested on Wasps’ Nests.  I just had to trace this one:-

mp3: The 6ths with Amelia Fletcher – Looking For Love (In The Hall Of Mirrors)

Oh, and while I’m here, this is from Hyacinths and Thistles:-

mp3: The 6ths with Clare Grogan – Night Falls Like A Grand Piano

JC

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE

Before getting on to the main business of the day, just an update on the Bastard Virus here at Villain Towers.  I continue to feel very little in the way of symptoms and am hopeful that I’ll test negative tomorrow to get back on my feet and going about my business.  Rachel did, as anticipated, test positive the other day and looks set to be confined indoors till after Easter.

Oh, and if anyone is interested, there are two tickets still going free for Luke Haines + Peter Buck at Hebden Bridge Trade Club tomorrow night.

This post was originally scheduled for yesterday, but I’ve let if drift for 24 hours and, as it turns out, is something of a companion piece,

It’s almost 42 years since the release of Sound Affects, the fifth studio album by The Jam.

It followed All Mod Cons and Setting Sons, as well as being on the back of what the success of Going Underground, a non-album #1 single.

It proved not to be immediate as these previous releases, lacking the fast, angry, raucous anthems that had made the band such an attraction to us teenage adolescents, germ-free or otherwise.  It was, however, packed with different types of anthems, this time less frantic, with messages that the world was an unfair place, particularly if you were not from the landed gentry or the monied class, themes that would continue to be examined by Paul Weller in what time remained with his band and later with The Style Council.

The opening song on the album is proving to be timeless:-

mp3: The Jam – Pretty Green

Power is measured by the pound or the fist.

Aye…..Rishi Sunak and Vlad Putin will vouch for that.

Pretty Green reflected the existence of £1 notes as the main tender in circulation for most folk in 1980.  Just eight years later, the note was withdrawn by the Bank of England in favour of a coin, although Scottish banks continued to print their own version of the £1 note until 2001, a fact on its own which indicates we’ve never been as well-off as many of those who live in the south-east pocket of the UK.

I looked up the cost of a £1 note on eBay just now.  It’s fair to say it varies, from £3 to £10,000.  Do folk believe their eBay listing will attract such a stupid bid?

JC

BASTARD VIRUS

The title of today’s post should provide the clue that I’ve tested positive for COVID.

It’s something I can’t quite get my head around – not the fact I’ve got it, which is hardly a surprise given that I’ve recently gone to well-attended and busier than normal football matches and made a much-delayed return to the Barrowlands (it was for The Twilight Sad), but more to do with the unlikely timing of a positive test at a time when I was feeling fine and showing very few symptoms.

I was testing more regularly as last Friday night I was pulling together a social evening, namely a leaving-do of sorts.

A full 106 weeks after it had been cancelled, there was to be a get-together of folk to celebrate my retiral from work.  The numbers for the original night were expected to have been around 150, including ex-colleagues from the different places/departments I had worked over that 35-year spell, along with some close friends who just like a good night out.  This time round, I decided to restrict it to just the 25 or so folk who I had last worked with – it felt a bit disingenuous to invite folk I hadn’t seen in a long while to an event that was now two years out of date.

It was a great wee evening, albeit just under half the numbers could make it, thanks to a combination of an increase in COVID cases and the fact it was taking place as many folk were heading away on holiday for the Easter period with the schools having closed down.  Oh, and to show how much my former colleagues really know me, there were three items handed over following a very generous collection:-

1. A bottle of expensive rum

2. A voucher to spend at my golf club on some new equipment or clothing

3. A gift card for Ticketmaster, meaning that I’ll get to a number of gigs of my choosing.

The following morning, in advance of heading up to the football for another stint in the match day announcer’s box, and armed with a killer playlist to entertain everyone, I took a test, and it came up positive, despite the fact I was feeling fine other than having an annoying head cold and the very occasional cough.  No loss of taste, no loss of smell.  Nothing that would have kept me from travelling, except the two red lines showing up.

I’m typing this on Monday morning, 48 hours on, and feeling fine.  Only thing is that Rachel is showing all the symptoms and feels a lot worse than me, despite which she is still testing negative.

Why am I sharing all this?  For one, it means I’m going to miss out on a much-anticipated gig on Wednesday night when Luke Haines and Peter Buck come to Glasgow as I won’t be out of the required isolation period.

Secondly, it has put a question mark over my plans for this coming Friday, which had already been the subject of change thanks to the propensity of the rail industry in the UK to fuck up travel plans at peak holiday periods.

The Haines/Buck show in Glasgow was a late addition to my schedule, as the intention had been to go and see them at Hebden Bridge Trades Club in Yorkshire.  These tickets were bought a long time ago, for a show originally scheduled for April 2020, and later moved to September 2021 and again to April 2022.  Each rescheduling involved booking new train tickets and accommodation – indeed, for Sep 2021, rather than seek refunds, myself and Rachel used the arrangements to enjoy an overnight trip to Hebden Bridge.

Everything was set for this Friday in that the accommodation was sorted and the train journey down on the day of the gig was booked.  No cheap train tickets were coming up online for the return journey the following morning….indeed, no train tickets were on offer at all for the following morning.  It transpired that the West Coast Main Line will, in effect, be closed over the Easter holiday weekend for engineering works at various locations, primarily at its terminus point at London Euston.  All of which meant the Hebden plans had to be shelved.

I’ve managed a bit of a rescue in that I picked up a return ticket for the Friday evening, which means I’m going to be heading to Manchester on a morning train, arriving lunchtime and getting the joy of spending a few hours in the company of Adam, before catching a train back up to Glasgow at around 5pm.

Assuming, of course, that I get a negative test in advance.  Fingers and toes are crossed.

What it does mean is that there are two tickets for Haines/Buck at Hebden Bridge going spare for this coming Friday if anyone out there is able to make use of them…..just drop me an email to the usual address.

There’s a few lines from a song buzzing around my head just now:-

mp3: Basement Jaxx – Red Alert

And I’m gutted to be missing out on hearing songs from an album, bought around the time I retired from working back in 2020, and whose promotional tour has had as much bad luck as my efforts to have a well-attended leaving-do:-

mp3 : Luke Haines and Peter Buck – Beat Poetry For The Survivalist

Sigh.

JC

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Fifty-four: THE FLY

A while back, I briefly had a series of posts looking at singers/bands who, in my opinion, had at one time had it, only to lose it.   I dropped the series after maybe two or three editions as it was causing more grief and hassle than it was worth, with folk coming in via the comments section and getting tetchy and/or angry.  Differences of opinion are all fine and well across the TVV community, but I’m never comfortable when hostilities break out.

In saying all that, I run the risk of flak with today’s offering.  It’s not the first time the song has been featured on this or the old blog, but it is the first time since I decided to splash out on the 30th Anniversary vinyl edition of Achtung Baby, which hit the shops in November 2021.

I really liked early U2, getting along to see them play live in front of packed and enthusiastic audiences in medium-sized venues in Glasgow – one night at the long-closed Tiffany’s on Sauchiehall Street will live long in the memory just for the fact it remains one of the hottest and sweatiest shows I’ve ever attended.  I didn’t like late 80s-era U2, with The Joshua Tree being everything I detested about middle-aged rock music, seemingly being made by a band that had grown old before its time.

I first heard The Fly on the radio.  It would have been a week or so before it was released as a single in October 1991, when it was played one evening on Radio 1.  I was quite stunned by it as it was, to coin the cliché, a million miles away from what I had been expecting. Bono has since said that the song was the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree, such was the extent of the departure from the album which had won them millions of fans the world over.  I bought the single on CD and a few weeks later, I went out and bought the album, again on CD.  My thoughts were, and they remain the same today, that the album wasn’t perfect as it still had a couple of dodgy MOR moments, but for the most part it was a fine return to form.

The fact I bought the vinyl some 30 years later is a sad indictment of the reality that, despite what I think are my best efforts, I am very susceptible to the sales pitches of the music industry. 

No matter that I accepted I didn’t play Achtung Baby all that much, and when I did I’d skip through some of the tracks, I really ‘needed’ to take home the vinyl records and hear The Fly in all its remastered glory via the needle hitting the groove.

I’m glad I did as it sounded great.  Made me feel as if I was again in my late 20s…..those were the days.

mp3: U2 – The Fly

Feel free to disagree.  I won’t mind.

JC