I’m going to let someone else tell you why Cats on Fire were such a wonderful band.  This appeared in the Guardian newspaper back on 4 May 2012, and was penned by Neil Kulkarni.

“A wet Wednesday night in London, and a handbag is repeatedly hitting us in the face. We don’t care, because we’re dancing – as is the handbagger – to the best pop music being made on the planet right now. The crew responsible for ramming out the steaming Bull and Gate is Finland’s fantastic Cats on Fire, fondly loved in Europe yet virtually unknown in the UK, where they have difficulty even getting their records released.

That’s odd, considering the three albums they’ve given us since 2007 do nothing less than reinject possibilities, politics, wit, erudition and joy into guitar pop. We’re not just here, nose-to-nipple, because we love Cats on Fire, or because they also happen to be the best-looking band on Earth. We’re here because 2007’s The Province Complains contained I Am the White Mantled King, one of the greatest songs of this millennium; because 2009’s Our Temperance Movement was the most pristinely perfect pop album seemingly no one but us ever heard; because this year’s All Blackshirts to Me is, impossibly, even better. Cats on Fire are sleeping on someone’s floor tonight. By rights, it should be the Queen’s; by rights, as everyone here knows, they should be stars.

“I don’t love music more than anything else,” admits the lead singer and songwriter Mattias Bjorkas, “which means I haven’t been blinded by the love of music. And I have certainly not been blinded by money. I was a very straight-edge, socialist youth – Cats on Fire has been my lesson in frustration and dealing with second-bests sometimes, but we try to always make the music move on and matter.

The five-piece has come together in fits and starts from the small, isolated town of Vaasa, sharpening and solidifying their magic every step of the way. “No music industry tentacles were long enough to reach as far up north as we were in Vaasa,” Bkorkas says. “But trying to be loved was always my main preoccupation, whatever political or musical ideas I may have presented as the true spirit of Cats on Fire. I nurtured the idea of a small, provincial army that was musically righteous and ready to strike against the trendy, metropolitan hypocrisy.”

They make songs you can’t shake and write lyrics that stop your day in its tracks, the sound exquisitely puckered throughout by Ville Hopponen‘s addictive licks, Iiris Viljanen‘s poptastic keyboards, and the band’s sheer stealth and grace. The last time you felt this way about indie-pop was Pulp. Yeah – that good. Judging by tonight’s rapturous reception, it’s only their own shyness that’s stopping Cats on Fire becoming major stars.

“In big cities,” Bjorkas says, “we observe all the other groups of four or five people with good haircuts, unable to shake the worst thought of all – that each of these 10,000 bands had an idea as valid as our own.”

They don’t. Not by a long chalk. All Blackshirts To Me is European album of the year. Avail yourselves immediately.”

Sadly, it would be the last album the band would release. Across the three LPs and various singles and EPs (many of which were collated on the compilation Dealing In Antiques, released in 2010), there are more than 50 songs from which to narrow things down to as perfect an ICA as I can deliver. It’s 12 songs long, on the grounds that it deserves to be.

Side A

1. Horoscope (track 1 on Our Temperance Movement, 2009)

2. My Friend In A Comfortable Chair (single, 2007 and track 8 on Dealing In Antiques, 2010)

3. The Smell Of An Artist (from Draw In The Reins EP, 2006 and track 14 on Dealing In Antiques)

4. Draw In The Reins (re-recorded version – track 11 on The Province Complains 2007)

5. 1914 and Beyond (track 7 on All Blackshirts To Me, 2012)

6. Tears In Your Cup (track 6 on Our Temperance Movement, 2009)

Side B

1. I Am The White-Mantled King (track 1 on The Province Complains, 2007)

2. My Sense Of Pride (track 2 on All Blackshirts To Me, 2012)

3. Letters From A Voyage To Sweden (track 3 on Our Temperance Movement, 2009)

4. Higher Grounds (track 3 on The Province Complains, 2007)

5. Our Old Centre Back (track 1 on All Blackshirts To Me, 2012)

6. The Borders Of This Land (track 8 on Our Temperance Movement, 2009)




It’s actually quite an unbelievable coincidence that the above cover of the NME appeared exactly 30 years to the day when Cathal Coughlan‘s death was announced by his family.  It’s also quite poignant that the photo has Cathal pictured alongside comedian Sean Hughes, another who died well before his time.

I can’t claim to be the fount of all knowledge in respect of the late musician.  I have but a handful of releases in the collection, dating back to Microdisney singles in the mid 80s, having taken a bit of shine to the band after seeing a live appearance on Whistle Test on BBC TV.  I only ever saw him live on one occasion, when Fatima Mansions played King Tut’s in Glasgow on a hot summer’s night in 1991.  I’ve a copy of a single he co-recorded with Martin Stephenson in the early 90s – talking of which, I’ve some sort of vague recollection of him appearing on stage once with the Daintees, although that may very well just be wishful thinking on my part.

I know I should have paid more attention, especially when many folk wrote such incredibly positive reviews about Song of Co- Aklan, his sixth and what proved to be his final solo album, which came out just a couple of months ago.  It honestly was on my list of things to pick up, but I was holding back as Rachel always asks for a few ideas for my upcoming birthday.  When I do give it a listen, it will be with real sadness.

The tributes flowed freely last week when the news finally emerged that Cathal had passed on 18 May after a long illness.  It was typical of the man that he chose to keep his poor health to himself, with not one feature on his new album indicating that it had been recorded under difficult circumstances and that it was certain to be his last piece of music.  I was in Bristol for a few days last week and picked up the news via a social media posting from a friend, and found it hard to take in.  I listened to Gideon Coe‘s show on BBC 6 Music that night, and he took the opportunity to read out various tweets and messages from fans, as well as air some songs recorded for BBC sessions over the decades.

My thanks to flimflamfan and chaval for taking time to share some thoughts about Cathal when they left comments on the Leonard Cohen/Ian McCulloch piece the other day – having no laptop with me, I was unable to do anything with the blog and was feeling awful at the thought of the death not being recognised in any shape or form.

As I said a few paras ago, I am no expert at all on Cathal Coughlan. But what I do know is that he was responsible for writing and singing on one of my favourite singles of all time.  Here’s a recap of something I wrote back in February 2013:-

“Someone on Discogs described this 1990 single as having the voice of an avenging angel having a bad day and guitar chords like a firing squad.

I wish I could sum up songs as brilliantly as that.

The only reason this never made my 45 45s at 45 countdown all those years ago is that I missed out on it when it was originally released. My first exposure came via an end of the year round-up on some late evening show on Radio 1. I bought the CD single the next time I was in a shop and paid almost £5 for the privilege.

Since rekindling my love for vinyl, I’ve got my grubby hands on bits of plastic both here and over in Canada. This is a record that should be in every music fan’s collection”

mp3 : Fatima Mansions – Blues For Ceausescu

The music Cathal Coughlan was involved in over the decades was rarely on the commercial side of listenable.   It always seemed as if he didn’t care about being anything more than a cult figure, seeming to even go out of his way to sabotage things when Fatima Mansions opened up for U2 on various dates across Europe in 1992, none more so than in Milan where be baited the 12,500-strong crowd with a number of derogatory comments about the Pope.  This was after he had pretended to stick a bottle of holy water, in the shape of the Virgin Mary, up his arse.  It was his way of dealing with an audience that had been hostile to his band from the off, the type that wanted only to see U2 and nobody else.

By all accounts, this sort of behaviour was at odds with his real life persona, described by many as a gentleman.

I’ll finish with one of the singles I bought back in the day:-

mp3: Microdisney – Town To Town

In reaching #55 in 1987, this lovely piece of indie-pop was as close to having a hit as that band ever got.




I mentioned last week that I never bought anything The Fall issued while with Cherry Red Records as I’d lost my way with the band by this point in time.  Drew over at Across The Kitchen Table remained a devotee, but all too often he would tell of going along to a gig and feeling let-down and/or short-changed.

I might have felt the same way if I was the type who made something out of Record Store Day as the next 45 to be released by MES & co was for that event in April 2012, with a limited run of 1,000 copies of a 7″ single with the title Night of the Humerons, but neither the a-side nor b-side featured a song of that name.

mp3: The Fall – Victrola Time

The a-side was seemingly developed from an instrumental track called Damflicters that had been worked up during sessions for the Ersatz G.B. album, released in November 2011.  It might have been a limited edition 45, but it became widely available in May 2013 when it was included on the next studio album, Re-Mit.

It’s electronica Fall, and MES doesn’t start singing until about 70 seconds in….and it, to be frank, is awful.  Here’s your lyrics in full:-

Science hasn’t recorded it yet…
And I don’t want bennies….jellies….

I said MDMA years!
You can’t feel, you can’t feel Victrola
Victrola teller, Victrola teller
From ’28 from ’16,
DMA years,
J-j-just stop
J-just can’t
Just can’t
Post meth and DMA years
The pre non-MDM and net years
The post meth MDMA years
The pre-non-MDM and meth years
The post meth and also DMA years
The MDMA years
The pre-black eyes and tears of today years
The post-meth MDMA years
MDMA years…
Can’t feel I could cry
The pre-black eyes and tears of today years

The b-side was a live version of a track from Erstatz G.B.:-

mp3: The Fall – Taking Off (live)

At least it’s marginally better than the a-side.




Sons and Daughters were mentioned less than two weeks ago, with a look at Dance Me In, a quite superb single released in June 2005.

The band was also the subject of ICA #199 back in November 2018, and I’m returning to something written as part of that post as it nails a particular song:-

mp3: Sons and Daughters – Medicine

The opening track on the band’s first full album, The Repulsion Box (2005), is what can only be described as a hoedown stomp on speed and which sets the tone for much of what was to follow on the rest of the record. Oh, and it features the best use of a mandolin on any piece of music since….well, the track Fight which can be found on debut mini-album Love The Cup (2003).




I was lucky enough to see Big Country a few times before and as they were making the breakthrough into chart and mainstream success.  I was delighted for Stuart Adamson, in that he proved he could make it in the pop/rock world without relying on Richard Jobson, the effervescent and show-stealing frontman of The Skids.

Harvest Home was chosen by Mercury Records as the debut single.  It felt like a strange one as so many other songs, as played live, seemed more suited in terms of hooks, choruses and anthemic nature.  But then again, the sound attached to Harvest Home, akin to bagpipes being played on an electric guitar, had a sort of novelty factor which made for talking points in the music papers.

I still think Harvest Home is one of the weaker songs on the debut album, albeit it’s been a long time since I listened to it from start to finish.

I did buy the 12″ on its release,

mp3: Big Country – Harvest Home

What it didn’t do was make it into many people’s homes, with it failing to make any inroads in the charts on its release in September 1982.  But any fears that the execs had got it wrong by taking a punt on Big Country were soon allayed as three of the next four singles, released between February 1983 and January 1984, went Top 10, while debut album The Crossing went Top 3, and spent well over a year in the Top 75.

I still reckon Harvest Home is one of the weaker tracks on the debut album. Here’s the two b-sides, neither of which made it on to the album:-

mp3: Big Country – Balcony
mp3: Big Country – Flag of Nations (Swimming)

I haven’t heard in these in decades until pulling this post together. I’m struck by the fact that both of them wouldn’t have been all that out of place in the later albums by The Skids, albeit Balcony has more of the guitar-sound associated with Big Country – I also, on hearing it again, recall it being played at many of the early gigs; Flag of Nations (Swimming) on the other hand has that keyboard-led sound Bill Nelson helped bring to The Skids on Days in Europa.  If you’d played me the track, which is an instrumental, I’d never in maybe a hundred guesses have come up with the correct name of the band making the music.

File the b-side under unique, (for Big Country).


PS : I was away for a few days at the beginning of the week, and apologies for whatever it was that went wrong with the file for ‘Freakscene’.  It should be ok to listen to now.

Also, not having the laptop with me meant that I couldn’t do anything to add to the pre-readied posts from Monday – Thursday, which meant last night was the first I personally could mention the sad and what feels like sudden passing of Cathal Coughlan, the news of which left me stunned and shocked.

My thanks to those of you who added tributes via the comments section the other day.  I intend to do my best to say a few more words, via a post, in due course.




In the early 1970’s I was nine/ten years old and ‘too young’ to have my own radio and so was basically reliant upon one source for music – the glorious wonder that was Top of the Pops, it is almost impossible to believe today that if you wanted to listen and see ‘pop music’ this was really the only option.

And for once my timing was perfect as it was the glam rock era. I am a believer in the James Bond theory, in the same way that the best James Bond is the first one you see at the pictures, the first type of music you experienced on Top of the Pops remains with you forever. And at that young age I was reading comics/magazines such as Shoot and Cor!!, so had no idea of which bands were writing their own songs, were ‘acceptable’ my only judgement was based upon the song and appearance on Top of the Pops.

The standout band for me was The Sweet, they looked great, especially Brian Connolly in his silver jumpsuit and blond hair, and the songs were instant, by the time the second chorus arrived I was already singing along never having heard the song before.

Glam rock was really about the singles and that’s why this ICA is made entirely of singles all bar one released in a 4-year period between 1971 and 1975 and incredibly half of them never appeared on an album at the time of release and only appeared on later compilation albums.

The Sweet formed in 1968 with members having all been in previous groups and it was only in 1971 that they had their first hit having teamed up with songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman and record producer Phil Wainman. At first they only recorded the vocals on the ‘a’ side of their singles, before moving on to play and sing on the songs. I have only included songs that they play and sing on, simply because I believe they are better.

Side 1

1. Blockbuster (Chart position no. 1)

At first I was going to sequence the songs in date order, but changed my mind as in keeping with the glam rock era the first track on side 1 should always be the biggest hit and this surprisingly is their only number 1 and probably their best by a short head. It is also well known as having the same riff as Jean Genie by David Bowie, both released in the same month, Jan 1973 on the same label.

2. Wig-Wam Bam ( Chart position no. 4)

The first single to feature the playing of the band and a noticeable step-up with much harder playing, especially Andy Scott’s guitar. It also featured Steve Priest’s ‘camp’ vocal line which became a trademark element.

3. Alexander Graham Bell (Chart position no. 33)

Incredibly, this only reached number 33 in the UK chart and is the lowest placing of any of the songs on this ICA. Has a stomping beat which is quite ‘Sladeish’ but the Connolly’s vocal ensure that is the only similarity.

4. Hell Raiser (Chart position no. 2)

The follow-up single to Blockbuster and is obviously from the same band but without Blockbuster’s distinctive riff.

5. The Six Teens ( Chart position no. 9)

To close side 1 a slightly slower more downbeat track, with more time changes and variation in the instrumentation but is still very much Glam Rock.

Side 2

1. Teenage Rampage ( Chart position no.2)

Opens with the crowd chanting ‘We want Sweet’ suggesting we were listening to a live recording, It made being a teenager seem exciting from my pre-teen perspective although for the band who were all older it may have seemed a little uncomfortable.

2. Ballroom Blitz (Chart position no. 2)

After Blockbuster probably their best known single, opens with a band roll call/ name check before exploding into life. The Sweet didn’t go for low key starts/intros, it was straight into the song.

3. Fox On the Run (Chart position no. 2)

The first single to be written by the band and it proved to be a successful as their previous Chinn/Chapman singles reaching number 2 in the charts.

4. Love is Like Oxygen ( Chart position no. 9)

The last of their singles to make the charts in 1978, by this stage my tastes had moved on to ‘new wave’, but listening to it now it still packs a punch although in a slightly ‘Queenish’ way.

5. Action (Chart position no. 15)

Another self written song, that reflects their move away from Glam to Rock but as the lyrics say ‘Everyone needs a main attraction’ and for a crucial 2-year period The Sweet were mine.

I hope you enjoy this a much as I have putting it together, I can feel a Chinn/Chapman ICA coming next.



I’ve twice used this feature when I’m struggling for something meaningful to say or don’t have much spare time on my hands, but the last occasion was twelve months ago.  I’m clearly a total windbag with far too much to say for myself.

From wiki:-

“Suzanne” is a song written by Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen in the 1960s. First published as a poem in 1966, it was recorded as a song by Judy Collins in the same year, and Cohen performed it as his debut single, from his 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen.

It was inspired by Cohen’s platonic relationship with dancer Suzanne Verdal. Its lyrics describe the rituals that they enjoyed when they met: Suzanne would invite Cohen to visit her apartment by the harbour in Montreal, where she would serve him Constant Comment tea, and they would walk around Old Montreal past the church of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, where sailors were blessed before heading out to sea.

Verdal was interviewed by CBC News’s The National in 2006 about the song. Verdal says that she and Cohen never had a sexual relationship, contrary to what some interpretations of the song suggest. Cohen stated in a 1994 BBC interview that he only imagined having sex with her, as there was neither the opportunity nor inclination to actually go through with it. She says she has met Cohen twice since the song’s initial popularity: once after a concert Cohen performed in the 1970s and once in passing in the 1990s when she danced for him, but Cohen did not speak to her (and possibly did not recognise her).

mp3: Leonard Cohen – Suzanne

Ian McCulloch is one of many who have covered this song over the years. In 2002, he offered this up in a feature in a UK newspaper:-

For me, the perfect song is ‘Suzanne’, by Leonard Cohen. The perfect lyric with the perfect melody. I can’t see a fault in it. The first time I heard it, I thought, ‘Whoaa.’ I was about 14 or 15 and I’d seen the Bird on a Wire documentary about him at the pictures. He was so cool and it was my kind of music and I went straight out to get his albums. Then I went back to my mum’s house and waited for it to get dark before I played them. That song is just so instant. It goes through my soul; it’s like that bit in Poltergeist when the mother’s coming down the stairs and she feels this rush of this kid’s spirit going through her. It’s great when a song just comes at you like that.

mp3: Ian McCulloch – Suzanne

This was recorded for a CD given away with the November 2008 edition of Mojo, a monthly music magazine. I think it’s quite sublime and, thanks to Mac being a superior singer, it gets my vote as being the better of the two.

This verdict can, should you choose, be overturned on appeal via the comments section……





Sorry to start with a blatant plug, but over on my blog ‘No Badger Required’ the other day I told a story about how a couple of years ago I was walking home from a party when a badger (not that one, no) jumped out of a hedge and scared the life out of me. I was minding my own business admittedly I was pissed, but I was doing nothing wrong at the time.

Anyway, it jumped out, bloody fangs and teeth bared, growled at me and the tore off up the road, before leaping into the hedge on the other side of the road about fifty metres away. I stood there screaming like a toddler who had just dropped their ice cream. I’m pretty sure that when I eventually got my shit together and wandered past the bit of the hedge where it ran through, I could hear a little badger laugh (kind of like the noise Mutley, Dick Dastardly’s dog makes) from behind the hedge.

That section of road has since that moment been called Badger Corner. It has become a random music focal point – for instance – the Sunday Shuffle element on my blog (sorry, last time, promise) is often selected by me posting whichever song was playing when I reached Badger Corner.

This morning I went for a run and decided that whichever band were playing when I ran past Badger Corner, I would write an Imaginary Compilation Album on them. For a while it looked like that would be on rapper Anderson Paak, because his cover version of Coldplay’s ‘XY’ was playing as I approached Badger Corner and I was sort of cursing my luck – although by the way that version of ‘XY’ is so much better than the original and your day will better for checking it out.

But at the exact point that I reached the gap in the hedge where gangs of menacing badgers lie in wait to mug passing idiots, we were nine seconds into ‘Repulsion’ by ‘godfathers of grunge’ Dinosaur Jr. So folks, that was a long-drawn introduction to this, an Imaginary Compilation Album on Dinosaur Jr.

Side One

The Wagon (1991 from ‘Greenmind’)

Unlike me, long-drawn-out intros are not something that J Mascis is that into. Many of Dinosaur Jr’s songs have vocals that kick in within seconds of the music, or in the case of ‘The Wagon’ straight away. ‘The Wagon’ positively fizzes with energy and it is in my opinion, the band’s finest hour, if only for that amazing solo that J Mascis throws in about halfway through.

Freakscene (1988, from ‘Bug’)

Dinosaur Jr never quite got as big as some of the bands that were part of the same scene as them, but their influence is far-reaching. Take ‘Freakscene’, easily the band’s most popular, and most talked about song, and the song that more indie club nights were named after in the 90s than any other. Of all the alternative rock songs about alienation, self-esteem and generally moodiness that came out thirty odd years ago, this is probably the greatest of them all.

Recognition (2012, from ‘I Bet on Sky’)

‘I Bet On Sky’ is the band’s tenth studio album, and it’s also one of their finest. J Mascis’ voice is much calmer, less ragged, less like he is lying in a ditch whilst singing. The songs here are more relaxed, and I would imagine that is something to do with Lou Barlow’s influence. ‘Recognition’ is the better of two Barlow songs on the album, it is more jaunty, a little more rocky than the other one (which is called ‘Rude’ and sounds like it should be on a Sebadoh album)

Repulsion (1985, from ‘Dinosaur)

Of course, when they started out, Dinosaur Jr, were called simply Dinosaur. Then they got sued by an American prog rock supergroup featuring members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, and they added a cheeky ‘Jr’ to their name. The band’s early work was a lot heavier and has a more hardcore punk feel to it. Saying that ‘Repulsion’ sounds a lot like ‘Harvest Moon’ era Neil Young if you ask me.

Just Like Heaven (1989 from ‘You’re Living All Over Me’)

‘Just Like Heaven’ the original version by Fat Bob and his Band, was the first song I danced to as a married man. It was a lovely moment. In contrast, ‘Just Like Heaven’ the Dinosaur Jr version was the first song I ever stage dived too. It wasn’t a lovely moment. I got kneed in the balls on the way down.

I happen to think that this is one of the greatest cover versions of all time. Definitely in the Top Five. Just behind Anderson Paak’s version of ‘XY’.

Side Two

Start Choppin’ (1993, From ‘Where You Been?’)

In 1993, the UK was at peak grunge, Nirvana were the biggest band on the planet and because of that all sorts of American bands were in the UK and having relative success with their brand of heavy pop rock. The release of Dinosaur Jrs fifth album ‘Where You Been?’ was preceded by the bands biggest Uk Hit, ‘Start Choppin’. It was as close to a pop record as you were ever going to get from the band, but it was pop enough to appeal to the kids, and it barged its way into the UK Top 20.

Thumb (1991, from ‘Greenmind’)

When Lou Barlow left the band after the release of their second album, J Mascis went to the studio and sulked for a while. He recorded 7 tracks, all of which appeared on ‘Greenmind’. There were apparently three tracks that he couldn’t get the drumming sound right on, they were ‘The Wagon’, ‘Water’ and the tremendous ‘Thumb’. So he phoned Murph, who sorted it, and between them made the best three tracks on the entire album.

Crumble (2007, From ‘Beyond’)

Lou Barlow eventually rejoined the band in 2005, and in 2007 they released ‘Beyond’ and it harked back to the sound that they almost perfected in ‘Bug’. All those years of conflict and weary old arguments seemed to be pushed aside, and the results were amazing. ‘Crumble’ is probably the pick of the bunch in my opinion.

Quicksand (1991, B Side to ‘The Wagon’)

The final track on the 12” version of ‘The Wagon’ is ‘Quicksand’ a cover of Bowie’s classic. However, Instead of singing “I ain’t got the power anymore” J Mascis sings, “We ain’t got the wagon anymore”. Apparently, on the way to the studio to record the song, J Mascis crashed his station wagon (which was apparently the actual ‘Wagon’) and changed the words.

Keep the Glove (1988, B Side to ‘Freakscene’)

We’ll end with one of the band’s more upbeat tracks, if only for what it influenced later. ‘Keep the Glove’ sounds a lot like the sound that Teenage Fanclub, The Boo Radleys and a host of other UK bands started to make about 18 months later.

Thanks for reading



The confession continues.

I’ve bought something else from RSD 2022, only this time I had to send off to a participating store in Chelmsford, Essex to get it.

There was no way any of the Scottish stores would still have had a copy of Covers by Associates within about thirty minutes of the doors opening.  I actually didn’t fancy my chances of finding one on-line at an affordable price, fully believing they would all be in the hands of those whose only thought was to flip them via Discogs or Ebay.

There are five songs on Covers, so it’s basically a 12″ single, albeit played at 33 and a third RPM.  The tracks are Love Hangover, Gloomy Sunday, Boys Keep Swinging, Eloise, and Kites.  I’ve the first two already on vinyl, and indeed it could be argued (rightly) that Kites is by 39 Lyon Street and not Associates.  But still, the opportunity to finally have a vinyl copy of the debut single was too good to pass on:-

mp3: Associates – Boys Keep Swinging

You can expect to in the region of £400 for a copy of the original 7″ single, released on Double Hip Records back in 1979. I don’t think the 12″ RDS release will reach even 10% of that figure in the years ahead. But an accumulation of value was not what at the front of my brain when I hit the on-line purchase button.



We’ve reached 2011.

The Fall seem to have a very settled line-up, with MES being alongside Peter Greenway (guitars), David Spurr (bass), Kieron Melling (drums) and Eleni Poulou (keyboards). Having taken leve of Domino, the band ink a new deal with Cherry Red Records, a London-based independent label dating back to 1978, which, in addition to releasing new music by a wide range of acts which can often best be described as maverick/left-of-centre, (Luke Haines has been part of the label for a long while), has become a specialist for all sorts of re-releases, particularly CD box sets containing previously unreleased or hard-to-find material. It was actually something of a misnomer that The Fall hadn’t previously been part of the roster, and it proved to be a happy and fruitful partnership, with the label being responsible for all the band’s releases between 2011 and 2017.

First up was this single, on 7 November 2011:-

mp3: The Fall – Laptog Dog
mp3: The Fall – Cosmos 7
mp3: The Fall – Monocard (Lunatic Mix)

It was something of a low-key release, limited in numbers, and therefore something of a rarity on the second-hand market. The label was much more interested in the release, just seven days later, of the album Ersatz GB, a ten-track LP which came out on vinyl and CD. It was the band’s 28th studio album but, and this probably won’t come as a surprise, was the first ever time three successive studio albums had been recorded with the same-line up. As I say, no surprise, but at the same time quite an astounding fact.

The album reached the lower end of the UK charts which was deemed a satisfactory outcome by all concerned, given it was released to what can best be described as mixed reviews, while a number of the live shows to support the impending release of the album were dogged by MES sloping off-stage mid-set; leaving Eleni to take the vocals. Here’s one fan’s take on things on what proved to be something of a notorious gig in Edinburgh on 3 November:-

Who would be Mark E. Smith’s wife? Last night Fall fans were treated to simultaneously one of the worst and best gigs of the year, as the majority of the proceedings were left to Mrs. E Smith to fill in the gaps after Mark exited the stage.

Things started promisingly: the band in great form and the new songs (we heard perhaps two of them) sounding excellent. Then Smith disappeared off stage (nothing unusual about that); spookily however, his voice remained. Was he perhaps paving the way for his own demise, when the band will have to tour to backing tapes of his lyrics? Soon the voice disappeared too, leaving us to endure the longest ever version of ‘I’ve Been Duped’, sung without apparent irony by Mrs. Smith.

As far as a group of people in their 40s and 50s could be said to be restless, there was a certain fractious mood abroad in the crowd: a few squidgy plastic pint glasses were thrown towards the stage (emptied of the £4 contents); Mrs. Smith ill-advisedly greeted this with outstretched arms in a ‘come-ahead’ gesture. She explained before walking off that “Mark has terrible voondz (wounds) on iz feet and haz to walk up five flights ov stairs to get to zee stage” when this with greeted some derision from certain elements in the crowd, she replied “What? Are you a doctor?” before leaving to boos. Suddenly we were reminded just how young Mrs. Smith really is: her possibly misguided loyalty deserves the highest praise.

To their credit the band took to the stage again to launch into an instrumental ‘Reformation’; Mrs. Smith was about to offer the mic to the crowd when suddenly, a fellow wearing a combat jacket, silk scarf and a handlebar moustache, leapt to the stage; at first it seemed to be all part of a huge practical joke, as the uninvited lead singer with admirable chutzpah, extemporized lyrics about going to see The Fall and Mark not being there. This was brought to a premature end as he was approached by a large shaven headed bouncer. Before we could chorus “he’s behind you” our unknown Bob Calvert impersonator was led away, looking crestfallen. On the back of the bouncer’s neon-yellow t-shirt was the ominous message: ‘Stage Security, here to assist you’. More boos followed, but immediately gave way to cheers as none other than Mark E. Smith was led on stage supported on either side like King Lear by two stage hands. He sang the rest of ‘Reformation’ (sort of) before delivering a superb version of ‘Mr. Pharmacist’, complete with keyboard solo. Then it was all over.

Did I ask for a refund on my ticket? Did I throw a pint glass? No. My only thought was ‘I hope his feet get better.’ Misguided loyalty is clearly infectious.

It’s really no wonder that by now I had given up on things….I never did buy anything that came out on Cherry Red, and digging out the tunes for today’s posting will be the first time I’ve heard them. They’re not the worst – the single is a sort of plodding, middling thing but very clearly the sound of The Fall, while the b-sides offer a mix of fat electronica rockabilly (yes, really!!) and an eight-minute Krautrock effort, if that happens to be your thing.



Meursault, the Edinburgh-based band, were invited to take part in the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in 2014. This was on the back of three critically acclaimed albums on the Song, By Toad label, which had been the brainchild of Matthew Young, a long-time friend of this blog and whose own former blog, also called Song, By Toad, brought great delight to readers the world over.

The band and label came up with an ingenious way to crowdfund the trip, onto which was attached a short tour of east coast cities in the USA, all of which would mark the American live debut of Meursault.

A Kickstarter campaign was devised, but with the twist that anyone making a pledge could suggest up to five songs that they would like to hear on a specially produced CD album, which would be made available to subscribers with a few additional copies going on general sale.  In the end, more than 300 backers raised over £5,000, in just sixteen days, to make the project a reality, with the recording sessions taking place in the studio located in Matthew’s home where bands had recorded sessions for his blog.

The Organ Grinder’s Monkey was released in February 2014.  The info on the back of the cardboard sleeve indicated there were 14 songs to listen to, consisting of ten covers along with four new versions of Meursault songs.

But this was a wee bit of a fib, as the CD also contained two hidden tracks neither of which were listed.  It might well have been that they didn’t get clearance, and/or they were tagged on as something of an in-joke.  The second certainly seems that way.  It’s worth recalling what had been said in the Kickstarter campaign:-

Pledge £150 or more – Your choice of cover song definitely on the album, and a live video made of the recording process.

Sadly, to avoid pranks, this will be finalised on the basis of dialogue – you don’t get to just demand a performance of something by Newton fucking Faulkner – but we will do our very best to accommodate you, and sometimes the silliest ideas are the best, so go for it.

Only one space was allowed for this particular pledge, and I’m guessing it resulted in the second and final hidden track:-

mp3: Thou Shalt Always Kill

Neil Pennycook of Meursault does not provide the vocal on this one. It’s all down to Matthew Young, making his debut in the recording studio – and to the best of my knowledge he hasn’t been allowed near a microphone since, and that’s why I’m attributing it to Song, By Toad and not Meursault.

It’s a rollicking and fun version – some of the lyrics have been changed to be more appropriate to Matthew’s tastes and outlook on life. And yes, he does have quite a magnificently posh way of swearing!

Matthew has more or less given up the music industry, but he and his family are currently involved in a hugely ambitious project to restore an old mansion and botanical garden in a rural location on the west coast of Scotland. I was lucky enough to pay him a visit last year, and it is going to be truly something to behold, with the aim, within the next couple of years to have the gardens open again to the public.  The best way to keep up with progress, and to enjoy Matthew’s idiosyncratic way of describing the joys of such a unique restoration project, is to follow Linn Botanical Gardens on Instagram.   There’s nearly 1100 of us currently doing so…..




I really have taken far too long to draw this one to your attention.

Life Model have been making music for quite a while, having been named as ‘one to watch’ in 2018 by BBC Radio Scotland.  But it took till 2021 for the debut album to come out, on Last Night From Glasgow, whose website provides as good a summary as you could ask for:-

Life Model are a 5-piece dream pop band from Glasgow, made up of Sophie Evans (vocals and guitar), Chris Smith (guitar), Helen Farrow-Thoms (keys and backing vocals), Cameron McDougall (bass) and Michael McDonald (drums). The band mixes classic indie and pop of the likes of The Sundays and Belle and Sebastian with the noisier leanings of bands like Sonic Youth.

The debut album, Lost On Weekdays, Lonely By Sunday, contains ten recordings, but only five songs as one side consists of band versions while the other side consists of acoustic performances.

mp3: Life Model – Sit Still

The opening track, and the one whose lyric provides the title for the debut album.  It’s an excellent and consistently strong offering, and given that the songs offer a wonderful summery vibe, it’s one that I’ve been playing a lot as the days get longer.

Highly recommended.  And it would be nice if you bought it direct from the label, as that way, more money goes direct to the musicians. Click here.



Continuing a rummage through the contents of the Use Hearing Protection box set.

This is another design by Peter Saville, which takes elements of his FAC1 and FAC 3 posters, to publicise all eight events that were scheduled for the Russell Club in December 1978.  As far as I’m aware, the poster was never readily available to the public, with a single run readied, printed, and used in its entirety, for fly-posting across the Greater Manchester area.

It’s interesting all these years later to realise that some of the bands booked to appear would enjoy more than a fair degree of commercial and critical success, while others disappeared seemingly without a trace.  I’ve dug out my deerstalker and magnifying glass to try and bring you some info:-


Distractions were a power-pop/punk band from Manchester whose debut EP, You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That, was released on local label TJM Records, around the time they were billed to headline The Factory on 8 December 1978.  Here’s the lead track from said EP:-

mp3: Distractions – It Doesn’t Bother Me

Tony Wilson decided that Distractions would be a good addition to the Factory roster, and the follow-up single was released, in September 1979, as FAC12:-

mp3: Distractions – Time Goes By So Slow

Prior to the release of FAC12, the band signed to major label Island Records, with the first release being a re-recorded version of It Doesn’t Bother Me. A couple more singles and an album would follow, but to almost complete indifference from the general public, and the band called it a day in 1981.

The postscript is that Distractions would reform many years later, and there has been a steady diet of singles and albums since 2010.

The Doomed

With apologies if you already know the background to this one, but it wasn’t something I’d previously been aware of.

The Damned broke up in February 1978 only for most of them to get back together again later in the year – the only member not interested was Brian James.   Worried about any legal percussions of using the band name, Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies decided to play as The Doomed, supplementing themselves as required, including drafting in Lemmy from Motorhead for a London show in September 1978.  This Manchester appearance would have been one of the last shows as The Doomed as The Damned was back in use from January 1979 onwards.


It would appear that Messagana were a Manchester-based reggae band, but I’ve not been able to track down any recordings, and there’s nothing kicking around on Discogs.  They certainly seemed to be popular with the folk at Factory as the name would appear as a support act on some occasions, including October 1980 when they opened a show whose headliners were New Order and The Durutti Column.

Alpha Omega

I’ve drawn a blank in this instance.  It’s a name that’s been used by a number of bands, across all sorts of genres, over the years.  Discogs lists a few of them on its site, including an Australian jazz combo whose sole album was released in 1976, while there is currently a hard rock band, from Norwich, England, performing under that moniker.

Christmas Party

Sadly, not the name of a band who were booked for The Factory Club, but an event at which I think, among others, Generation X made an appearance.

Now here’s the thing.  I’ve found an alternative poster to promote the events for The Factory at The Russell Club throughout December 1978.  I’m not sure if it pre-dated the Saville design or whether it was hastily put together once the Saville poster, in the time-held tradition of fly posting, had been obscured by others vying for attention.

There are a number of reasons I think this might have been a later production.

First, and most obvious, is the fact that shows by 999 the week after the Christmas Party are mentioned.

Secondly, it can be seen that Scritti Politti are given a listing for the show on 8 December.  I’m assuming that Distractions, being a local band, had already served the purpose of selling tickets to those who watched them wherever and whenever, so the highlighting of a group from elsewhere, who were already being name checked in the music papers, seems to be a bit of additional marketing.

Thirdly, there’s no mention of the shows on 15th and 16th December, and given the headliners were Human League and Magazine, there’s every possibility the tickets had already sold out, so there’s no point in drawing attention to them.

Finally, given that Peter Saville wasn’t known for the speedy nature of his productions, it is likely that Wilson & co just arranged for something cheap, cheerful and typical of the design of its day to make a further push for ticket sales and never came to regard it as an official release for inclusion in the Factory catalogue.

I’m pleased to say that FAC5, when I get round to it, will be a much more straightforward piece.



It wasn’t regarded as being all that cracking back in May 1985.  Indeed, it was regarded as something of a joke, as indeed were the band.  It’s since become a staple at every indie/twee disco across the planet, and the tune something of a template for many badge-wearing boys and girls who wanted to sing quietly into a microphone.  I’ve a feeling the modern-day Primal Scream wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face if they tried to play this live these days.

mp3: Primal Scream – All Fall Down

The indie kids of the era have long said that they preferred its b-side.  It certainly does fill floors whenever it gets aired.

mp3: Primal Scream – It Happens

All told, the two songs have a combined running length of not too much more than four minutes.  It could be argued, with merit, that other bands were better at this sort of thing than Primal Scream, and it was best for all concerned when Andrew Weatherall got his hands on their material and changed things forever.  But there’s something very innocent and charming about this 45, and indeed its follow-up Crystal Crescent (b/w) Velocity Girl, which make the songs an enjoyable and enduring listen all these years later.



Daft Punk – a French electronic music duo formed in 1993 in Paris by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter.

Soma Records – an independent label based in Glasgow which was co-founded in 1991 by the electronic music duo Slam

It was on said Glasgow label that Daft Punk released all their earliest singles. The legend (and maybe even the truth) is that Guy, Thomas and Stuart McMillan of Slam met while enjoying themselves at a rave at Euro Disney in September 1993. The third single, in May 1995, was Da Funk, a slow-burning hit in clubs before receiving a big exposure when Chemical Brothers began incorporating it in their DJ sets at festivals.

The interest in the tune, and indeed in Daft Punk themselves, led to something of a bidding war which was eventually won by Virgin Records. Da Funk was re-released, aided and abetted by a hugely innovative promo directed by Spike Jonze, and went straight into the Top 10 in the first week after its re-release in February 1997.

This version is taken from the duo’s debut album, Homework:-

mp3: Daft Punk – Da Funk

Still sounds ridiculously fresh to me.

Oh, and here’s the video. Keep an eye out for the bit at 2 mins 31 seconds as it hold the key as to why it couldn’t have a happy ending…….



I’ve often said I’ll never fall for the tricks of Record Store Day.   The fact that I’ve never yet queued up overnight to ensure I can get my hands on something still, in my own head, means I can say I don’t fully engage with it.

And yet……………… I’ve found myself, some years, curiously wandering around a few of the participating stores in the following days to see if there’s anything not yet snapped up that’s worth purchasing, and, on the odd occasion, there has been.

2022. however, turned out to be a little different.

I’m on the mailing list for Monorail Records and the shop sent out details of the various stock that was still available, offering customers the opportunity to make on-line purchases, on the proviso that it was no more than one copy of any particular item.  Here guys, just take my money as there’s no way I can resist the 2 x vinyl version of Bustin’ + Dronin’, the 1998 remix/compilation album by Blur, originally on CD only in Japan but later made available via import here in the UK.

The original release saw songs from the 1997 album Blur handed over to different producers for the remix treatment, including William Orbit, Moby, Adrian Sherwood, John McEntire and Thurston Moore, while a second disc offered up a live session, that had been recorded at the home of John Peel, and broadcast by BBC Radio 1.  It’s one of my favourite CDs, capturing Blur at that moment in time when they were moving away fully from the Britpop style of music, ultimately leading to the release of their next studio album, 13, recorded largely in Iceland with William Orbit in the producer’s chair.

The RSD 2022 version doesn’t include the Peel Acres songs, but all ten of the tracks which were on Disc 1 of Bustin’ + Dronin’ are spread across two lovely slabs of heavyweight vinyl, which make a magnificent sound coming out of the speakers.

mp3: Blur – Death Of A Party (12″ Death)

This is one of the Adrian Sherwood efforts, extending to just over seven minutes in length.  I particularly love the way the organ drifts in and out at key moments throughout the mix, battling it out with the percussion, vocals and Graham Coxon‘s guitar effects to see which has the most impact on your ears.

Play loud for full effect.



Last week made mention of The Fall signing to Domino Records in late 2009.

It was a short-lived partnership, with just one album Your Future Our Clutter, released in April 2010, before MES decided Laurence Bell & co. weren’t for him.  The same month also saw the release of a new single via Domino, one which was pressed in limited numbers on 7″ vinyl for Record Store Day but which was also issued on CD.

mp3: The Fall – Bury! #2+4

Bury Pts 1+3 had been a track on Your Future Our Clutter, an album which received fairly positive reviews and which entered the UK charts at #38. As you can see from the sleeve pictured above, the single issued for Record Store Day has a different title altogether, and indeed has a different mix and edit, being at least a couple of minutes shorter, to that found on the album.

mp3: The Fall – Bury Pts 1+3

Oh, and don’t concern yourself with the poor quality of the opening 100 seconds of the track….it was wholly intentional on the part of The Fall.

I should also mention, more for the benefit of some of our overseas subscribers, that the song is referencing Bury, the town some ten miles north of Manchester, and not the more common use of the word in terms of shoving things deep underground.

This was the b-side to the single:-

mp3: The Fall – Cowboy Gregori

Anyone lucky enough to pick up the single would likely have been expecting some sort of remix or version of another song on Your Future Our Clutter, but as you hear, they are two completely different entities.

mp3: The Fall – Cowboy George

Indeed, the album track is attributed to MES, Peter Greenway, and Elena Poulou, while the b-side of the single is the sole work of MES.

Worth mentioning that Jonder, in one of what have been six ICAs devoted to The Fall, had this to say in #137, back in September 2017:-

Bury! #2 and 4 is one of the best Fall songs since Sparta FC, an insistent march with a memorable refrain. The lyric “A new way of recording/ A chain ’round the neck” is aimed at Domino Records, who wanted the band to put more time into the album.

I’ve long thought it would have been interesting to see where The Fall would have gone, musically, if they had stayed with Domino, but I’m guessing Jonder’s observation, combined with the facts that there were strong personalities at the head of the label, and it had such a large roster of bands and artists, most likely reminded MES of the Rough Trade era, and so it’s no real shock that he was again on the lookout for another new home.

And, as we will see next week as we head towards the final few singles, that new home would prove to be where The Fall would abide until the end.



I’ve an album by The Son(s) in my collection – purchased in September 2020 at the suggestion of Lloyd Meredith, the brains and talent behind local label Olivegrove Records, and someone I’ve come to call a good friend.

2020 was not a good year to be running a label, or indeed to be involved in just about any part of the music industry at the grassroots levels.  COVID meant no shows could be performed, thereby immediately cutting off not just a valuable source of income, but removing the best way for emerging singers or bands to draw attention to their work, especially when a new album has just been completed.

I didn’t know the first thing about The Son(s), but they are on Lloyd’s label, and therefore it was important to buy their new record, The Creatures We Were Before We Were Ghosts, to offer a sense of solidarity.  More than eighteen months on, I still know very little about the band as the information provided with the album gives you everything except the hames of the band members and the instruments they play.  It’s the same over at the Facebook and Bandcamp pages, so I’m unable to offer anything on the biopgraphical front.

What I can tell you is that they are from Edinburgh and that they previously released albums in 2011 and 2014 prior to the album I purchased.  The reason I hadn’t delved in before was that I wasn’t all that keen on the comparisons that were being made in the press, with the emphasis on folk, country and world music and, to be honest, I’d sort of had my fill of bands from Scotland making records that sounded very much like the one released by a contemporary the previous month.  In other words, I tuned out without giving them a chance.

The contemporary reviews of ‘The Creatures…’ mentioned things like ‘pysch-folk’ and made comparisons to acts such as Midlake and Fleet Foxes, none of which are huge selling points for me in normal circumstances.  But here’s the thing, the album reached me in the midst of an unprecedented lockdown when the idea of going out, having a laugh and loads of fun was pretty much ruled out – unless, as it has since transpired, you work at 10 Downing Street.  I found myself drawn to some of the songs – who couldn’t be when there are titles such as A Prick In Gold Lamé, and I’m Glad You Kept Your Hair, John Travolta – but not quite entranced enough to return on a regular basis.

Having said that, it is the sort of record which makes for a fine listen when you want to have something playing while you try and reduce your stress levels or blood pressure.

mp3: The Son(s) – Deep, Dark River Running


BAD 401

You may well have spotted that this week’s run of posts have headings related to their catalogue number provided by the independent label for which the music was recorded.  The labels each used common abbreviations for the releases –  RUG for Domino, CRE for Creation, and HVN for Heavenly.

Today’s is a bit of a doozy in that regard in that the bosses at 4AD, having long adopted BAD as the abbreviation for any EPs and compilation albums, were able to enjoy a wry smile when The Birthday Party decided that their next four track offering, in March 1983 was to be named The Bad Seed, which meant it could be given a catalogue number akin to the actual name of the EP.

Little did anyone realise that, after a three-year partnership, The Birthday Party would take their leave of 4AD and shift over to Mute Records, for whom, in November 1983 they would release the Mutiny EP, but only after they had split up a few months earlier upon completion of a tour in their native Australia.   Frontman Nick Cave would form a new band, who took their name from the title of that last EP for 4AD, and in June 1984, the debut single and album were issued by Mute.

The rest is history. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, having gone through almost as many personnel changes as The Fall, would remain with Mute right through to 2013 at which point things shifted to Bad Seed Ltd.  Nobody would have predicted it at the time, but the Nick Cave of the 2020s now sells out 10,000+ capacity arena gigs in many parts of the world when back in the 80s, The Birthday Party were very much a cult act, which is no surprise given

“…they were one of the darkest and most challenging post-punk groups to emerge in the early ’80s, creating bleak and noisy soundscapes that provided the perfect setting for vocalist Nick Cave’s difficult, disturbing stories of religion, violence, and perversity. Under the direction of Cave and and guitarist Rowland S. Howard, the band tore through reams of blues and rockabilly licks, spitting out hellacious feedback and noise at an unrelenting pace. As the Birthday Party’s career progressed,Cave’s vision got darker and the band’s songs alternated between dirges to blistering sonic assaults.

(Stephen Erlwwine, allmusic)

Bearing in mind that these four songs were at the tail-end of things, you should brace yourselves:-

mp3: The Birthday Party – Sonny’s Burning
mp3: The Birthday Party – Wild World
mp3: The Birthday Party – Fears Of Gun
mp3: The Birthday Party – Deep In The Woods

I warned you.


HVN 211

This is the song written and recorded jointly by Edwyn Collins and two members of Franz Ferdinand, and released as a single in 2011.

The album Losing Sleep (2010) was Edwyn’s seventh solo studio LP, but his first on which work got underway after the illness and complications that had put him at death’s door in 2005.  Much of the music industry rallied round Edwyn once it became clear that, while never likely to overcome everything that had befallen him, he was more than capable of writing and making music, albeit his ability to play guitar was now lost. Friends such as Johnny Marr and Roddy Frame were more than happy to come into the studio and work on things, while there were offers from newer bands such as The Cribs and The Drums to co-write and perform material.  Alex Kopranos and Nick McCarthy also volunteered their services, and Heavenly Records delivered a contract to enable it to be funded, recorded and released.

It was a triumphant comeback, with the album peaking just outside the Top 50 and being his bestseller since Gorgeous George back in 1994, an album whose sales were propelled by the worldwide success of A Girl Like You.

Three singles were lifted from the album – the title track, Do It Again and In Your Eyes.  All were released on 7″ vinyl with simple but incredibly effective artwork, with the sleeves being old-fashioned brown cardboard in which was placed the single, with a common design for each label, with the difference being the colour.  Losing Sleep was yellow, Do It Again was green and In Your Eyes was blue.

mp3: Edwyn Collins – Do It Again
mp3: Edwyn Collins – You’re Gonna Love This One

The b-side was an exclusive track. Written solely by Edwyn, it is one of his real hidden treasures. It’s a fairly lengthy number, coming in at well over five minutes, and the music has that sound and mood of a piece of music that would fit perfectly on some sort of film or TV programme soundtrack. I’m not entirely sure, but it may well be a song that was written and recorded some years previously, before Edwyn was struck down, as his voice sounds much stronger than on the Losing Sleep tracks, and the impressive, almost Bond-theme-esque guitar work is very familiar to those of us who had been keeping up with his career at all times.

The above video for Do It Again is worth watching, partly for the 70s porn star moustache above Alex’s top lip, and also for the fact that Paul Cook, at the age of 54 (as he was at the time) looked great and sharp in his suit as he pounded the drums.