It’s the last day of August.  Which can only mean one thing:-

mp3: The Field Mice – September’s Not So Far Away

Released on 7″ vinyl by Sarah Records (SARAH 44) this was one of The Field Mice‘s final singles prior to them breaking up at the tail end of 1991.   It is a very fine example of indie-twee pop with all sorts of things to tick off the checklist…..jangly guitars, a fragile and uneasy sounding lead vocal delivery, an angelic sounding female backing vocal, a lyric about the end of a relationship, and a tune which invites the dance floor at the indie disco to be filled to its tiny capacity.

As I’ve said before, I was very late to The Field Mice, but then again I didn’t do well in terms of really keeping up with what was happening in indie music outside my immediate environs in the late 80s/early 90s.  It has, however, been a bit of a blast making so many discoveries in subsequent years, with my education on the band really only becoming more or less complete when I picked up in 2007, a decade after it was actually issued, the 2xCD 36-track compilation Where Did You Learn To Kiss That Way?

The b-side to the single can also be found on the compilation:-

mp3: The Field Mice – Between Hello and Goodbye

It’s indie-ballad time, led for the most part by an acoustic guitar and melodies. It’s a short tune, not much over two minutes in length, and so I’m certain must have found its way onto many a mixtape back in the day – particularly if the artefact was being curated/compiled by someone with a sensitive nature, as well as good taste.




I’m going back to February 2014 to re-post something from that time, partly as it covers everything I have to say about the song, but also that I was surprised it had been more than eight years since I embarked on the quest to have a weekly look, in chronological order, at the 45s released by James.

One of my favourite early James singles and the least favourite of the sleeves.

The latter half of 86, all of 87 and early 88 was a strange time to be a James fan.  It was also a frustrating time to be in the band, and I’m assuming even more frustrating to be part of the label to which the band had signed.

James were uncompromising in how they wanted to sound while Sire Records had made it clear that if they didn’t release material that was more commercial or radio-friendly then nothing would ever see the light of day.  In early 1987, a new album was recorded, but the label demanded a ‘better’ mix which just wasn’t forthcoming.  It really did look for a while as if we had seen the last of the band.

The boys eventually relented and in return the label agreed that they would back a new single which was released in March 1988, a full 18 months after the previous 45. What For turned out to be a stunning record. Joyous, anthemic and completely radio-friendly. It was surely destined for the Top 10. It even had whistling on it!!

Except……….the record label felt it was still too indie-sounding to be deserving of a promotional push and so again it was left to the late night DJs to try and champion it….but the problem being that the band had been away for too long and nobody was really all that interested.

A crime for which lots of folk should be put in the dock and found guilty.

A 12″ copy of this single sits in the cupboard so here we go:-

mp3 : James – What For (Climax Mix)

The b-sides are worthy of your attention.

mp3 : James – Island Swing
mp3 : James – Not There

Island Swing perhaps suffers from having a wee bit too much in the way of harmonica and the second half of the song doesn’t match the opening minute or so, which is quite tremendous, but there can’t be many bands that have done something this jaunty as a dig at the British Empire and other forms of colonialism – while Not There is an alternative and better version of a song that would later appear on the LP Strip-Mine.




When I set out the timetable for this ICA World Cup, I forgot to take into account that there will be occasions when I’m won’t actually be in Villain Towers when the voting deadline passes, the numbers need to be checked and the results posted.  Group G ended while myself and Rachel were in Manchester for the weekend (celebrating her birthday which fell yesterday on the Sunday), taking in some live music and some comedy, and catching up with some friends, not least Adam from Bagging Area.

I’m able to post this on schedule as I took the laptop down with me, but much of the work was done in advance by keeping on top of things prior to the cut-off point, with Thursday lunchtime being when I tallied things up with the aim of adding in the final few stragglers some 72 hours later.

Group G had a few big names.  It certainly led to a quite unusual voting pattern in that the same five acts were appearing time after time after time, to the extent that after I had counted 20 sets of votes, it was as near a certainty as you could imagine that The Cure (19), Human League (17), Orange Juice (17), Soft Cell (15) and Suede (13) would all proceed comfortably to the knock-out stages.  At the other end of things, it was looking that all of Fucked Up (1), Minutemen (1), Malcolm Middleton (3), Trashcan Sinatras (3), Mark Lanegan (4) Mogwai (4) and Paul Haig (4) were on their way out, while Goldfrapp (5) and Talulah Gosh (6) would require to improve dramatically in the second half to stand any chance of catching and overhauling Neil Young (8), The Delgados (9) and Carter USM (10).

By the time I looked at things on Thursday early afternoon, 43 sets of votes had been cast.  The top five had even more of a stranglehold on things, with it just being down to who would finish in what position.  Positions 6 to 8 were still as was, with time running out for anyone hoping to mount the dramatic late comeback in the style of It’s Immaterial last week.

Come Sunday, in the confines of one of Manchester’s many and very comfortable Premier Inns, I found myself checking up on 46 votes all told.

  1. The Cure 40
  2. Orange Juice 38
  3. Suede 36
  4. Human League 33
  5. Soft Cell 32
  6. Carter USM 21* (coin toss)
  7. Neil Young 21
  8. The Delgados 19

There was a gap to Talulah Gosh (15), Malcolm Middleton (14), Paul Haig (13) and Mark Lanegan (13), all of whom I’d had given a vote to if I was participating, but in the end it didn’t matter.

And with 40 out of a possible 46, The Cure gained votes from 87% of participants, which makes them the likely best performers in the group stages.

That’s us now got 56 of the 64 who will participate in the knock-out stages sorted out, just waiting for Group H to shake itself out, and the stage is just about set for the knock-out stages to get underway this coming Sunday. But for now, and in keeping with the practice since the tournament got underway, a song from an ICA we’ve had to say farewell to.

mp3: Malcolm Middleton – Break My Heart




Who’s left??

The Affectionate Punch – Scars I *(ICA 257)

Bananarama – Shy Boy (US extended version) (ICA 164)

The Breeders – Saints (ICA 173)

The Chameleons – In Shreds (ICA 294)

Lloyd Cole – Old Enough To Know Better (ICA 300)

Elvis Costello – Alison (ICA 224)

Frightened Rabbit – Fields of Wheat (ICA 214)

Mercury Rev – Planet Caravan (ICA 187)

The Hardy Boys – Wonderful Lie (ICA 275)

The National – Fake Empire (ICA 243)

Josh Rouse – 1972 (ICA 161)

The Sound – Missiles (ICA 264)

The Tragically Hip – New Orleans Is Sinking (ICA 154)

The Triffids – A Trick of the Light (ICA 155)

The Twilight Sad – There’s A Girl In The Corner (ICA 212)

Warren Zevon – Play It All Night Long (ICA 237)

*attributed to Holocaust Nancy as the lead singer on the track.

This might well be the toughest group to predict, given there’s no what could be described as a mega-headliner;  Elvis Costello is arguably the best known, albeit Bananarama are by far the biggest selling act.

It’s a mix of singers and bands who have many devotees, and while it is the case that a fair number of the musicians who were part of the acts are no longer with us, at first glance, it looks like the sort of ideal line-up for a one-day festival over a number of stages.

As ever, let me know via the comments section those eight acts you’d like to see make it to the knockout stages, which begin next week.  Voting will close at midnight (UK time) next Saturday, which is the 3rd of September.




Sometimes it pays to be very patient when you’re hoping to make an impact in the music industry.

St. Dukes formed in Glasgow back in 2014.  Consisting of Lewis Douglas (vocals and guitar), Sarah Connor (guitar and vocals), Fraser Hamilton (bass) and Max Orr (drums), they were name-checked early on by some bloggers and music websites as being ones to really keep an eye out for.  It took, however, fully five years before any songs emerged, a well-received self-released EP called Stranger By Day.

In due course, the band signed to Last Night From Glasgow and work got underway on the eponymous debut album, which came out in April 2022. The label’s website states that the band has a varied sound, but are best described as ‘Garage Pop Rock’.

mp3: St. Dukes – Animal Glue

That’s the opening track on the album, and one which was selected as an advance single.




Having become highly popular in the first half of 1979 with an album and singles originally released back in 1978, there was a huge amount of interest in the new material that was going to be released by The Police.

In September 1979 they unleashed a single which somehow straddled new wave and M.O.R. rock and in doing so turned the band into a global product for mass consumption. In other words, this is the single that re-invented stadium rock, just as those who had fought in the punk wars had thought they were going to win.

mp3 : The Police – Message In A Bottle
mp3 : The Police – Landlord

I’m not going to sit and here and say that this is a dreadful song. Far from it. It’s got a great tune and a catchy chorus to kill for. And the drumming from Stewart Copeland in particular the way he changes tempo all the way through it, is something to behold. Hell, even the bass playing of Sting is top-class stuff. As for Andy Summers on guitar…..well he’s not a million miles away from playing the same notes as can be heard on Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult which has long been regarded by rockists as a classic.

In fact, I shouldn’t restrict the love for ‘Reaper’ to the rockists as I’ve learned from attending dancing events with Glasgow hipsters of all ages that I am very much in a minority with my distaste for the song…

So, Message In A Bottle was a single tailor-made for sounding brilliant on the radio. Heavy rotation on BBC Radio 1 as well as across the ever-growing independent local stations in the UK meant it was a certainty to hit the #1 spot within a very short space of time. I’ve looked it up. It came in at #8 and the following week it was on top of the pile, eventually spending three weeks at #1.

I bought this single on green vinyl when it was released – just as I owned other earlier singles by the band on different coloured vinyl as part of the marketing ploy by A&M Records.

After the success of Message In A Bottle there would be no need for such gimmickry……




Idlewild are another on the long list of bands who I’ve a lot of time for without ever immersing myself fully with their material.

I’ve actually a fair number of CD singles sitting on the shelves, most of them picked up cheap after they dropped out of the charts or as second-hand copies. I knew the band had been successful, but I was surprised to find out that they had a run of twelve successive Top 40 singles in the UK, beginning with When I Argue I See Shapes (#19, February 1999) all the way through to El Capitan (#39, July 2005).   There’s actually enough more than decent songs from this short space of time to make up a listenable ICA, but I’m sure any true fan with real knowledge of the band would look to the earlier and later material to make it a more rounded and representative effort.

Idlewild formed as far back as 1995, and are still very much on the go today, albeit there have been short periods where they were on hiatus with members concentrating on solo projects.

The one time they cracked the Top 10 in the singles chart was May 2002, when the lead single from their fourth album, The Remote Part, crashed in at #9 on the week of its release:-

mp3 : Idlewild – You Held The World In Your Arms

Ok, it’s got a touch of the anthemic about it, with a chant-a-long chorus helping to drive things along.  But with the synths and strings also playing their part, it manages to soar majestically above being bog-standard stadium rock, to the extent that I’d argue it would make for the perfect ICA opening track, one that would surely have got then through the ongoing World Cup group stages if they had been eligible to enter.

It was released on limited edition 7″ vinyl and 2 x CDs.  I’ve CD1 in the collection – picked up for 99p after it fell out of the charts – and here’s its two additional tracks:-

mp3 : Idlewild – All This Information
mp3 : Idlewild – No Generation

The first of the b-sides is a reminder that many have made a suggestion that Idlewild can occasionally come across, melodically, as the Scottish R.E.M.  It’s a really decent listen.

The second of the b-sides is also worth a few minutes of your time.  There are many bands who would have shoved this out as an a-side if they had come up with it.




It was just a week after the break-up of The Smiths in 1987 when Johnny Marr came up with a tune he felt was worth getting some lyrics added to.

He knew his good pal Kirsty MacColl was going through a tough time of it with writer’s block, and his hope was that she would somehow be inspired from him sending her a tune.  It eventually did do the trick, although it would be almost four full years before Walking Down Madison took her back into the charts and onto Top of The Pops.

mp3: Kirsty MacColl – Walking Down Madison (7″ edit)

Incidentally, my wee bit of research for this shows that this was Kirsty’s fourth and last solo Top 30 hit.  Her first had been There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis (#14, 1981) while Walking Down Madison, a full decade later peaked at #23.  There’s a real irony that such a talented songwriter had her two biggest hits courtesy of cover versions – A New England (#7, 1985) and Days (#12, 1989) – I still think it’s a huge injustice that Free World stalled at #43 just a few months before Days was such a hit.

Free World had been a commentary on how the 80s had seen an ugly rightwards drift in UK politics, and the social conscience side of Kirsty was again to the fore on Madison, especially via the rap delivered by Manchester-born DJ and rapper, Aniff Akinola.

It’s quite damning on society that the scenarios mentioned in the song are very much still with us more than 30 years later.

Here’s the b-side of the 7″ side:-

mp3: Kirsty MacColl – One Good Thing

I’ll be kind by saying that it was always likely destined to be a b-side rather than fitted on to the consistently good album, Electric Landlady, released a few weeks after Madison.




A couple of weeks back I found myself, very willingly, at the very first Glas-Goes Pop Festival.  It took place on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 August within the Glasgow University Union in the leafy west end of the city.  (Regular readers will hopefully recall that, thanks to flimflamfan, I was able to offer one lucky reader the opportunity of a free ticket….the winner was Sarah and I was able to introduce myself to her during the course of the event).

As it turned out, I only managed to get along on the Friday.  I always had plans for the Saturday involving the match day announcing duties at the football on the Saturday, but had hoped to make it along for much of the evening, but alas the fates conspired against me thanks to a combination of Rachel feeling very poorly (food poisoning) and public transport woes between the east coast of Scotland and my home city.

The Friday was worth the ticket price on its own given that four absolutely wonderful acts took to the stage – Davey Woodward and The Winter Orphans, The Catenary Wires, The Orchids, and The June Brides.  I also saw Close Lobsters, but they proved to be a major disappointment, primarily because lead singer Andrew was as drunk as I’ve ever seen anyone on a stage.

The thing was, Close Lobsters, as headliners, were always going to struggle to top the performance that had been delivered by The June Brides, a band I hadn’t ever managed to catch before and who were the one I was most looking forward to in advance of the festival.

They played for maybe 50 minutes or so, rattling through many memorable tunes from their back catalogue, with an energy and vigour that belied the fact that all six musicians are well into their 60s (not that any of them looked anything like their ages). They were a ridiculously tight outfit, making it nigh-on impossible to believe it had been six years since they had last played live, with the really sad thing being when Phil Wilson said that there was a real possibility that this could be their final gig.

I know that The June Brides never achieved any sort of commercial success when they were active back in the early 80s, and maybe the reformation back in 2012, with two new singles released subsequently on Slumberland Records, didn’t quite reach the expectations that those involved had hoped for, but on the basis of the Glas-Goes Pop performance, they certainly are more than capable of bringing down the ceiling at an indie music venue in towns and cities across the UK, and further afield.

It’s got to be hoped that the ‘last gig’ comment was simply a throwaway remark, and that perhaps reflecting afterwards on the huge reception they received from the appreciative audience, there’s a view that playing together again would be well worth it.  I know it’s nigh on impossible to put together any sort of tour, but the promoters behind the various established festivals akin to what was on in Glasgow the other week could do an awful lot worse than getting in touch with The June Brides.

I’ve dug out a 12″ single from the cupboard, issued on The Pink Label in 1986., which brought together all the tracks that could be found on the band’s first two singles, also on The Pink Label, from 84/85.

mp3: The June Brides – In The Rain
mp3: The June Brides – Sunday to Saturday
mp3: The June Brides – Every Conversation
mp3: The June Brides – Disneyland

There was a rather brilliant 41-track 2 x CD compilation issued by Cherry Red Records back in 2005, but it has long been hard to come by.  The time for reissuing it, or some variant on it, is very long overdue.




I was pressed for time last week and didn’t glance at how the things were panning out at all until after polling had closed, with 45 sets of votes needing to ba tallied up.

As I was going through them, and I’d reckon by the time I’d been through the first twenty or so, it became obvious there was a distinct division in that almost half of the entries – An April March, April March, Vanessa Contenay-Quinones, Billy Ray Martin, Nits, Pizzicato Five, Slap Happy and Superturtle hadn’t been picking enough mentions on a consistent basis to have any hope of progressing, but that the other nine were all in with a chance. It also looked as if the likely winner stood a chance of getting a higher % vote than the 83% taken by Echo & The Bunnymen when Group D was played out.  The most interesting thing was that with just eight available places, one was going to lose out narrowly, possibly in the cruellest of manners. Here’s the top nine:-

  1. The Sweet 33
  2. Stereolab 30
  3. David Bowie 29
  4. Siouxsie and The Banshees 28
  5. Terry Hall 26 (*5th place on coin toss)
  6. Scritti Politti 26
  7. Bauhaus 23
  8. It’s Immaterial 22
  9. Julian Cope 21

So, it’s St Julian who misses out on the knockout stages, denied by a late comeback.  None of the final eight voters gave anything for JC, while in contrast It’s Immaterial picked up four late ticks and Bauhaus six out of the final eight.

The Sweet, with 33 votes, picked up 73%, which means the Bunnymen with 83% remain the most impressive performer, thus far.

As ever, a song from an ICA we’ve had to say farewell to.

mp3: Espiritu – You Don’t Get Me (album version by Vanessa Quiñones, Tim Holmes & Mike Bolton)




Are you ready for another week of dilemmas, trying to come up with your favourite eight?  Seventeen to narrow it down from….

Carter USM – Rubbish (ICA 229)

The Cure – Just Like Heaven (ICA 157)

The Delgados – Under Canvas, Under Wraps (ICA 181)

Fucked Up – Talking Pictures (ICA 226)

Goldfrapp – Twist [Schaffhäuser & Wessling Mix] (ICA 203)

Human League – The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (ICA 228)

Malcolm Middleton – Loneliness Shines (ICA 188)

Mark Lanegan – Winter Song* (ICA 307)

Minutemen – Corona (ICA 170)

Mogwai – Helicon 1 (ICA 166)

Orange Juice – Rip It Up (12″ version) (ICA 219)

Paul Haig – Heaven Sent (ICA 276)

Soft Cell – Memorabilia (edit) (ICA 156)

Suede – Animal Nitrate (ICA 209)

Talulah Gosh – Don’t Go Away** (ICA 153)

Trashcan Sinatras – All The Dark Horses (ICA 186)

Neil Young – Powderfinger (ICA 311)

*a song by Screaming Trees – ICA 307 was a compilation of tracks on which Mark Lanegan sang and played

**Talulah Gosh was used as the opening track on the Amelia Fletcher ICA a couple of weeks back, and as such track #6 on this ICA (the opening track on the b-side) has to come in as substitute.

This is a really intriguing group.  I’m genuinely hard pushed to pick out eight favourites, and I’m 100% certain that, if I was taking part in the voting process (which I most definitely am not!!!!), I wouldn’t be choosing all six of my own ICAs.

As usual, voting closes at midnight (UK time) next Saturday, which is the 13th of August.




This is another week when it’s one song on the hard drive courtesy of a compilation.

One of the features on-line referring to St. Deluxe, first published in a Scottish arts/music magazine in 2009, informed readers that the band had been touted by Alan McGee as ‘a Scottish Nirvana for the 21st Century”.

The fact that they went on to have a less than stellar career in terms of sales and fame, then it’s fair top say that, once again, the music mogul got it spectacularly wrong.

mp3: St. Deluxe – Chemical Reactions

This six-and-a-half minute effort, which very much gives a clear indication of the sorts of bands and sound who were an influence, was included on Get While The Getting’s Good, a 2006 CD of Scottish musicians that was issued by the German label Aufgeldaden Und Bereit.  The song would later be included on St Deluxe’s self-titled debut album, released on Poppydisc Records in 2008.

As far as I can make out, going by the bandcamp page, St .Deluxe continued to perform and record up until 2017.





The backstory was written last week, but in summary it’s the chance to enjoy the second half of the 20 best non-LP b-sides of all time, according to Post Punk Monk.

11. Yello – There Is No Reason

“She’s Got A Gun” B-side. This magnificent song from the soundtrack to Dieter Meier’s film “Jetz Und Alles” is an utterly riveting track by a band that typically had modest instrumental B-sides.

12. The Human League – Marianne

B-side on “Holiday ’80” EP. Killer track from the sessions of my favorite Human League album. Also available in an alternate take [also great] only in Australia.

13. The Tourists – The Golden Lamp

B-side of “Blind Among The Flowers.” Another example of a B-side just as strong [if not moreso] of the killer A-side it was paired with. Conny Plank didn’t need synthesizers to achieve production brilliance!

14. The Cramps – Wilder, Wilder, Faster, Faster

B-side of “Eyeball In My Martini.” This is one of The Cramps longest numbers at nearly five minutes… and it’s not nearly long enough! This track is done in the style of an old 60s AM radio ad for a drive in movie packed with all of the lurid action they could stand. Brilliant!

15. Pet Shop Boys – Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend

B-side of “Where The Streets Have No Name.” The Pet Shop Boys have an enviable catalog of B-side material that most bands would kill for. This song is a typically strong B-side that sounds like robust A-side material to me.

16. The Cure – The Exploding Boy
17. The Cure – A Few Hours After This…

“In Between Days” B-sides. If you bought The Cure’s “In Between Days” 12″ you were gifted with the three best songs the band ever recorded! “The Exploding Boy” is driven by acoustic guitars and mighty drums in addition to a killer tenor sax riff that proves that less is more. “A Few Hours After This” is a baroque feast for the senses with strings, percussion and tympani evoking Ennio Morricone at his most expansively robust!

18. Duran Duran – Secret Oktober

“The Union Of The Snake” B-side. Their third album was far from Duran Duran’s finest hour, but this exquisitely poised B-side put everything else they recorded for those sessions very much in the shade! One of their finest songs ever. It was almost like a proof of concept for the Arcadia album.

19. OMD – Annex

“Enola Gay” B-side. OMD were another band with a plethora of strong B-sides, but this one has the edge for me today. This evocative tune begins with a Japanese seaside melody under which a throbbing industrial rhythm ultimately ascends to hijack the wistful song by its end to leave the listener shell-shocked by its chilling intensity.

20. Bill Nelson – The Passion

“Flaming Desire” B-side. Another B-side that plays strongly off of a rousing A-side. “The Passion” is a driving instro that sounds like Duane Eddy poured in a blender with classic Duran Duran as the solid guitar chords are abetted by sax and synthetic percussion.




….in that you wait ages for one and then another comes hard on its heels

It was just last month that I gave Spare Snare a first ever mention on the blog, thanks to the Scottish songs series reaching that part of the alphabet.

I mentioned that the band, having previously worked with Steve Albini in 2018, were reuniting with him in an Edinburgh studio later this year, only this time instead of revisiting old songs, they will be looking to make an album with exclusively new material.

Spare Snare will be offering fans and other interested music lovers the opportunity to hear the new songs before they go into the studio, thanks to a couple of small venue gigs in Dundee and Glasgow next month.  Details can be found here.  I’ll certainly be making my way to the Hug & Pint in Glasgow on the 19th.

I thought it would be worthwhile demonstrating exactly how Steve Albini shaped things up by offering the chance to hear the original take on a couple of songs alongside the versions issued on Sounds, which originally came out on CD on Chute Records in 2019 and last year, on vinyl, via Last Night From Glasgow.

mp3: Spare Snare – Super Slinky
mp3: Spare Snare – Super Slinky (Sounds Version)

The original dates from 1995 and was issued on the very first Spare Snare CD, Live At Home.

mp3: Spare Snare – Grow
mp3: Spare Snare – Grow (Sounds version)

The original dates from 2006 and can be found on the album Garden Leave. The re-recording shows that Steve Albini isn’t just about making loud music, and with a trumpet solo from Ali Hendry of Randolph’s Leap very much to the fore, maybe it’s one for Jonny’s next themed ICA…..

As I said last time out, I’m really looking forward to this latest album hitting the on-line and physical stores next year.




When the news emerged that the record company people were hell-bent on issuing a 40th Anniversary edition of Sulk, I gave a snort of derision.

It has long been one of my favourite records of all time, one that I have on vinyl (with a mint copy having replaced my battered, scratched and damaged version) as well as a CD version that was released in 2000 on the basis it had been remastered and came with seven extra tracks.  There were a few promises given that even the most diehard of fans would have stuff to look forward to with the 2022 re-release, but I had made my mind up that I wasn’t going to bite.

I’m guessing, however, now that I have a copy at Villain Towers, the record company people are having their own snort of sorts at my expense.

I should explain that it was only down to the fact that the shop at Last Night From Glasgow was getting some stock and was offering its members a reduction in the price of the deluxe version that led to my change of heart.  It still involved me shelling out £44 for something which I wasn’t entirely sure I needed, albeit I wanted.

So, the question has to be…..was it worth it?

The packaging is exquisite.  It’s a hard cover, inside which is a book pack, containing notes and thoughts from the writer Simon Reynolds, along with some photographs from the era, some of which are moody and atmospheric while others capture the fact that the band members really enjoyed one another’s company.

As for the music, the 140gm blue-coloured vinyl copy of the album looks and sounds great, and being a remastered version, does feel like a worthy addition to the collection. There are also 3 x CDs – one being a copy of Sulk which feels a bit superfluous, while the other two comprise

  • 17 tracks (out-takes, monitor mixes and rarities)
  • 19 tracks (nine Peel Session takes, and ten songs recorded in Holland in January 1981)

At first glance, it does appear to be a lot of additional music, but most of it, other than the Dutch concert, has been previously available, thanks in particular to the release of Double Hipness in 2000, a 2xCD effort that was largely a collection of (then) unreleased demos.  The fact I hadn’t ever got round to buying a 2016 2 x CD re-issue of Sulk meant that I was picking up versions of some songs for the first time….any Associates obsessive might be feeling a little cheated by how little previously unheard or unreleased material was contained in the 40th anniversary edition.

mp3: Associates – Me, Myself and The Tragic Story (John Leckie Recording)

This had previously been part of that 2016 re-release.  In mid-1980, Associates had gone into Abbey Road studios with John Leckie involved in production duties, but having laid down a couple of tracks, the decision was taken not to pursue things any further.  It proved to be a great call as there is no question that the songs written for Sulk would have sounded totally different, and less other-worldly, than they did under the guidance of Mike Hedges.

The track is an early version of Arrogance Gave Him Up, the instrumental opener on Sulk.

mp3: Associates – Skipping (live)

This version shows the extent that songs underwent a transformation once the band got into the studio.  There’s a real energy to the song, as well as an introduction which could very well something that was separated at birth from Rip It Up by Orange Juice.   It’s worth remembering that Associates, when playing live back in 1980/early 81, didn’t make much use of keyboards, and yet they became the backbone of so much that made the album so memorable.  The lyrics also would be changed a bit……….

The thing is, having now played the blue vinyl and listened to the CDs, I’ll be surprised if I reach for them again in the near future.  The songs are now on the hard drive of the laptop as well as part of the i-tunes set-up, so I can get them at any point in time.  I can see me reading the sleeve notes and looking at the photos again, especially when I give the original album a spin in the future, but the hardback 40th anniversary edition is now tucked away alongside a few other box sets, safe and out of harm’s way.

Overall, I’m happy that I picked it up, but there’s a slight nagging feeling that it wasn’t entirely a necessary or essential purchase given what I already owned.  I think it’s time now to slow down on shelling out on nostalgia…..after all, there’s already plenty of artefacts lining the shelves.




Having reached #66 in this fairly regular series, my mind turned to songs with the word ‘road’ in the title.  I would have considered ‘route’ if it wasn’t for the fact that I only have four songs on the hard drive with that particular word in the title…..(and I’ll wager a very decent bottle of wine that none of you out there could get all four at the first attempt).

My mind didn’t go into any sort of overdrive to come up with today’s offering:-

mp3: Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere

Road To Nowhere can boast of being the most successful 45 in the UK for Talking Heads, reaching #6 in October 1985.  Indeed, it was the band’s first chart hit over here in four years, as every single released after Once In A Lifetime had stalled a fair distance outside the Top 40.  The version on offer today is lifted from the vinyl copy of Little Creatures, the first Talking Heads album to go Top 10 in the UK, which it did on its first week of release in June 1985.

It’s probably no coincidence that Little Creatures was the first new material released by the band on the back of the previous year’s screening of Stop Making Sense, a genuinely ground-breaking concert film that did so much to bring Talking Heads to the attention of a wider audience than ever before,  Equally, the fact that Road To Nowhere was supported by a fairly innovative and memorable promo video was also a factor in helping it achieve sales well beyond that of any previous single.

Here’s the thing.  I’m not all that fond of it as a piece of music.

Sure, it’s catchy and does do that earworm thing anytime you hear it coming out of the radio on some sort of oldies station.  But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a novelty song more than anything else and isn’t remotely representative of the band’s output elsewhere (see also, The Lovecats by The Cure).  I’ve long been tickled by the notion that folk getting turned onto Talking Heads for the first time in 1985 going out and buying the back catalogue only to be completely bemused by what they were listening to.

The band were never the same after this period in their history, and there’s a great deal of bitterness about it all within the pages of Chris Frantz‘s autobiography, albeit it has to be said that his book is bitter throughout when it comes to most things to do with David Byrne.

Having said all that, giving Road to Nowhere a spin on a turntable for the first time in decades did allow me to pick up just how well it had been recorded, produced and engineered.  Oh, and no matter that I’m not a huge fan of it, I’m a bit of a sucker for the way the accordion is used throughout.




I always thought, once I’d seen the entire draw, that Group E was the one really worth keeping an eye on.  As I said in the preview, loads of big names, some of which were being represented by lesser-known or weaker tracks, along with some cult names who possibly have more fans out there than is perhaps appreciated. So much so, that I kept looking at how things were progressing on a daily basis.  I’m glad I did as come Saturday night, I had to go to a recount to double-check on everything.

The post went up at 6am (UK time) on Sunday morning, and by midnight, just 18 hours later, twenty-six sets of votes had been cast.  Nobody was completely out of the running, but Cats on Fire (4), Smog (4) and Hinds (5) had left themselves with a lot to do.  At the other end, Manic Street Preachers (18) and Go-Betweens (14) had given themselves solid platforms for progressing to the knockout stages.  The other twelve acts had all picked votes, ranging between 7 and 13 in total, with perhaps Comsat Angels being the surprise pick of the ‘cult’ acts, sitting in joint 5th place with 11 votes.

Eleven sets of votes came in on Monday which proved to be a great day for the Go-Betweens (9) seeing them close the overall gap on with Manic Street Preachers (6) to one point.  The other acts who scored well on Monday were Brilliant Corners (6), The Style Council (6), Chumbawamba (5), Amelia Fletcher (5), Davy Henderson (5), The Who (5) and Wilco (5).  It was a bad day for Kylie Minogue who added just one to her overnight total.  Come the end of the day, the top two were looking reasonably secure, but those who were occupying 3rd down to 14th, were separated by the small margin of 6 points.

Things quietened down dramatically, with just four sets of votes coming in Tuesday – Thursday, but it’s maybe worth mentioning that all four offered support to Davy Henderson which, when added to his Monday tally, highlighted that he was the act moving the most up the table.

The late final flurry saw another seven set of votes, giving an overall turnout of 48.  Again, the top two picked up their share of these late votes, and the others who got at least four from the final seven were Cats on Fire, Chumbawamba, Comsat Angels, Amelia Fletcher, Davy Henderson and Kylie Minogue. As I said, I had to go and do a full recount to make sure of things this week….

  1. The Go-Betweens 32* (toss of a coin to take 1st place)
  2. Manic Street Preachers 32
  3. Comsat Angels 22* (toss of a coin to take 3rd place)
  4. Davy Henderson 22
  5. Amelia Fletcher 20* (roll of a dice to take 5th place)
  6. Beastie Boys 20 (roll of a dice to take 6th place)
  7. The Who 20
  8. Chumbawamba 19 (toss of a coin to take 8th)

The final person to vote was hamirthehermit….he included Chumbawamba in his list.  He didn’t include The Style Council….who also finished with 19 votes.

The other near misses came from Arctic Monkeys (17), Kylie Minogue (17), Auteurs (16) and Brilliant Corners (16).  I think it is worth mentioning that if voting had only been on the day the piece was published, Arctic Monkeys, Kylie Minogue and The Style Council would have made it, while the late climbers proved to be Amelia Fletcher, Davy Henderson and Chumbawamba.

Apologies to those of you who seen a few of your favoured singers/bands exit this week….it really was the tightest of the groups thus far.

As ever, a song from an ICA we’ve had to say farewell to.

mp3: Arctic Monkeys – Despair In The Departure Lounge




The second of the eight groups with a difference, with just three guest contributors on show today.

Alex G, like Hybrid Social Professor, offered up a substantial number of ICAs over a short period of time, (29 March 2018 – 15 February 2019) and similarly these were mostly on singers and bands who otherwise haven’t appeared elsewhere on TVV over the years. Alex G was behind the blog We Will Have Salad, one which I’ve listed under the heading ‘Old Friends No Longer Active In The Field’, but as I type these words, a click on the link says ‘COMING SOON’, so perhaps a re-launch is in the offering.

Middle Aged Man is a fairly regular contributor, as too is Khayem, and they were the two contributors with multiple ICAs who were picked out of the hat to make up Group F along with Alex. (and yes, all the folk whose ICAs are up for your votes today can participate in the process).

There’s a total of 17 songs to enjoy today, and as I said, many of them are from acts who otherwise haven’t featured on the blog, which means that, again, a few lesser-known or more obscure singers and bands are guaranteed to make the knock-out stages.

As ever, the songs are competing for your votes today are #1 from all the relevant ICAs, and they are offered up in alphabetical order of the singer or group involved.

An April March – Mandarin (ICA 169)

April March – Mon ange gardien (ICA 168)

Bauhaus – Boys (ICA 223)

David Bowie – Hello Spaceboy (ICA 284)

Vanessa Contenay-Quinones – Conquistador (7″ edit)* (ICA 272)

Julian Cope – Soul Desert (live) (ICA 266)

Terry Hall – All Kinds Of Everything** (ICA 277)

It’s Immaterial – The Better Idea (album version) (ICA 299)

Billie Ray Martin – (I Spent Hours Again) Wishing You Well (ICA 288)

Nits – The Panorama Man (ICA 191)

Pizzicato Five – Mon Amour Tokyo (ICA 159)

Scritti Politti – Boom! There She Was (Sonic Property Mix) (ICA 261)

Siouxsie and The Banshees – Pure (ICA 258)

Slapp Happy – Casablanca Moon (ICA 206)

Stereolab – French Disco (original version) (ICA 174)

Superturtle – Watch Your Eyes (ICA 305)

The Sweet – Blockbuster (ICA 313)

*this track is by Espiritu

**this track is actually a duet with Sinéad O’Connor

I’m looking for you to cast votes for up to eight songs, but don’t worry if you go under that number if the songs don’t fully appeal to you.

As usual, voting closes at midnight (UK time) next Saturday, which is the 20th of August.




Those of you who were paying close attention this time last week might just recognise the bloke in the above picture.

Squiggles is the name of a relatively new Edinburgh-based indie punk band.  It is the brainchild of Niall McCamley, the drummer in The Spook School, who just happened to feature last time out in this alphabetical run through of Scottish singers and bands who have at least one track sitting on the hard drive of my laptop.

I said ‘relatively new’ in the previous paragraph, but Squiggles did perform and record while The Spook School were in existence, as I have this track courtesy of its inclusion on the Indietracks Compilation from the summer of 2019:-

mp3: Squiggles – Bend Becomes Break

Clocking in at just ninety seconds, it’s an energetic number offering great promise for what might follow.  A trip to the bandcamp page, reveals it was the lead track of The Recruitment Drive, a five-track EP, released in May 2019.

As you may recall from last week, The Spook School called it a day in September 2019. Niall, like so many others, wasn’t able to get anything done in 2020/21 as a result of the restrictions and lockdowns associated with COVID, but it did give him time to think about how best to develop Squiggles.

It was earlier this year that a follow-up EP, Look What We Have Done, was released.  In promoting the new EP, Niall outlined his wish for Squiggles to be ‘less a band and more of a community, dedicated to the empowering togetherness of music, and its ability to connect us to others’, which sounds exactly the sort of thing TVV should get behind.

And that’s why, when putting this piece together, I ordered physical copies of both EPs and now eagerly await their arrival with interest and anticipation.




Mrs Villain, along with one of her best friends, recently attended an outdoor gig in a park not too far from Villain Towers. It was headlined by Green Day, with support coming from Fall Out Boy and Weezer. It’s fair to say that she really enjoyed herself, to the extent that she came home with three souvenir t-shirts, one for each band.  (She has since worn the Green Day t-shirt to another outdoor gig – Rufus Wainwright at the Kelvingrove Bandstand; it’s fair to say that my wife has an eclectic taste when it comes to music.)

Unless there’s any guest postings, you’re unlikely to see anything on TVV from the headliners or Fall Out Boy, but I have enjoyed quite bit of Weezer’s output over the years.

I was, nevertheless, very surprised to discover that this was the debut single:-

mp3: Weezer – Undone-The Sweater Song

It’s a highly polished effort and was also accompanied by a Spike Jonze video (reputed to have cost $60,000 all told), which is why I thought it might have been preceded by something a bit more low-key, perhaps on some sort of minor, largely unknown indie label.

But, as history shows, Weezer came into being in February 1992, albeit vocalist and chief songwriter Rivers Cuomo had been playing in bands since his high school days in the mid-late 80s. He had experienced a few false starts along the way and Weezer was more or less his last throw of the dice – he told his bandmates he was prepared to give up music and take up the opportunity to study at the University of California, Berkeley.

A demo tape was recorded in November 1992, where it was quickly picked up by the A&R folk at Geffen Records, with the band signing a deal in June 1993.  The debut album was recorded in August/September 1993, with Ric Ocasek of The Cars brought in as producer, but it wasn’t put on sale until May 1994, and rather unusually, no singles were issued in advance.

The critical response to the album was favourable, which allowed all concerned at Geffen to proceed with phase 2 of the marketing campaign, with the release of the catchiest songs accompanied by memorable and innovative videos.

Undone-The Sweater Song did reach #35 in the UK.  Anyone who was smart enough to buy the 7″ version of the single on blue vinyl could now expect to get in the region of £30 if they wanted to put it up for grabs on the second-hand market.