SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #319: SQUIGGLES

6db36947-103d-0590-06c8-d9e8e385cc59

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.

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (67)

R-1927761-1286921224

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.

JC

BUZZING WITH MORE KILLER B’S (Part 1)

A TWO-PART GUEST POSTING BY POST PUNK MONK

index

It’s always incredibly satisfying when the comments section goes into overdrive, which it is doing just now with the ICA World Cup.  I’ve always valued the community aspect of TVV, both the old and new versions, and that is why I really enjoy when a guest posting is offered up, all of which are published without prejudice or favour at the earliest possible time after anything drops into the inbox.

I’m cheating a little bit today, however, with the first of what will be a two-part series in that Post Punk Monk didn’t actually offer up a guest posting.  He did leave behind a very lengthy comment when I put up the latest ‘mixtapes’ (or whatever modern term anyone wants to apply to such efforts), that is being recycled today and again next week to provide two new posts. I’ve no qualms about doing so, especially as PPM does state that it was something he’d pulled together for a blog which no longer exists, and I really feel something this well-thought-out and written deserves some sort of fresh profile.  Here’s PPM:-

“Great B-sides are a religion unto themselves! Here’s a list I compiled for a friend’s blog [now deceased] and I still stand by this one.

20 best non-LP b-sides of all time [according to PPM]

1. Ultravox – Paths + Angles

B-side to “The Voice.” Fascinating blend of Warren Cann’s recited verses with Chris Cross singing the chorus. Midge Ure was not around the day the other three recorded this one. Killer melodic hooks are mated with typically compulsive rhythms.

2. Ultravox – I Never Wanted To Begin

“The Thin Wall” B-side. This track is jam packed with insanely compulsive rhythm programming! Once you hear this it will lodge itself in your skull for hours. The 12″ version is extended!

3. Adam & The Ants – Beat My Guest

The B-side to “Stand & Deliver.” Just our luck to have one of Adam’s best singles mated with an even better B-side! As emphasized by Marco Pirroni’s lewd guitar licks, this frolicsome ode to S & M manages to actually sound cheerful.

4. Spandau Ballet – Glow

B-side to “Musclebound.” The band invent new forms of Latinesque synth funk with this killer B-side that telegraphed their first big stylistic shift. Never better than in its 12″ version!

5. Simple Minds – New Warm Skin

B-side of “I Travel.” Another act that mated their best single with an evenly matched B-side! The rhythm track on this chilling song about plastic surgery is an example of Brian McGee at his finest. Mike McNeil’s keyboards mesh perfectly with the jarring stabs of Charlie Burchill, back when he avoided guitar clichés like the plague.

6. Japan – European Son

B-side of Japanese “I Second That Emotion” single. Quite frankly, this is my favorite Japan song of all time! It is the acme of the band’s Moroder-influenced “autobahn music.” It thoroughly smokes the actual single the band recorded with Moroder. Which was great!

7. China Crisis – This Occupation [ext. ver.]

B-side of Wishful Thinking” 12.” The 7″ version of this track is good, but the extended mix is mystical! This sounds nothing like the China Crisis we know and love. It sounds even better! Quite frankly, this resembles mid period Cabaret Voltaire, sigh!

8. Visage – Frequency 7

“Tar” B-side. I was over familiar with the not so interesting extended version of this track that turned up everywhere back in the day. It took years of having this single before I finally played the 7″ version and was blown away by the superiority of this mix. It’s night and day compared to the tedium of the 12″ mix. For starters, it’s an actual song with vocals, and some killer synth rock.

9. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Just A Memory

B-side to “New Amsterdam.” quite possibly my favorite Elvis Costello track ever, this heart-wrenching ballad was originally written for Dusty Springfield, who ultimately did record it.

10. Swing Out Sister – Fever

“Fooled By A Smile” B-side. Yet another face rave B-side by a group that normally sounds nothing like Cabaret Voltaire, yet manages to channel them brilliantly on a B-side.

POST PUNK MONK

JC adds……the remainder of this wonderful rundown will be with you next week.

CURRENTLY BASED BETWEEN TORONTO AND GEELONG

1200x811

It was perhaps seven or eight weeks ago that SWC asked if I’d liked to contribute a piece on the Toronto Blue Jays to the weekly series on baseball teams that he’s writing up over at No Badger Required.  For those of you not familiar with the feature, there is always a little bit about the baseball team and the city it plays in, alongside a celebration of the great music to come out of each city, including a mention of at least one unknown singer or band.

My piece homed in on Ducks Ltd.  I’ll confess that it was an on-line search of ‘best new bands from Toronto’ that led me to them, and it really did turn out to be a stroke of luck.  Here’s a bio courtesy of their record label:-

Ducks Ltd. is a band formed in Toronto, Ontario, and currently based between Toronto and Geelong, Australia, that crafts bright and modern jangle-pop. The duo consists of Tom Mcgreevy, on vocals, rhythm guitar and bass, and Evan Lewis, on lead guitar. Both members were playing in other groups within the Toronto music scene and met while on the same tour. They then decided to collaborate upon discovering their mutual love for 80s pop bands like Felt, Orange Juice, and The Go-Betweens. Together, Ducks Ltd. stitches together layers of intricate melody to make moving, nostalgic music — an irresistible combination that radiates energy and provokes introspection.

Felt, Orange Juice and The Go-Betweens? Surely, that’s just record company hype over substance?  But, based on what the band has released over the past three years, it’s a well-made and accurate comparison.

A self-released four track debut EP, Get Bleak, in November 2019 created something of an on-line buzz, and led to them signing jointly with Carpark Records (Washington) and Royal Mountain Records (Toronto) the following year. The debut EP was re-released in early 2021 with the addition of three extra tracks, and this was followed a few months later by Modern Fiction, a ten-track album.

2022 has seen a number of digital releases, including one new single, Sheets Of Grey, and two rather tasty cover versions;  the first was Head On, on which they were assisted by Sarah Tudzin of LA-based Indie-punk band Illuminati Hotties, while the second was Inbetween Days, where this time the additional help on vocals came from Jane Inc, the name under which Toronto-based musician Carlyn Bezic performs as a solo artist.

I’ve picked up physical copies of the EP and album, as well as using this bandcamp page to get hold of the material released in 2022, and it’s fair to say that I’ve been enthralled by it all.  I also got really excited by the fact that Ducks Ltd are coming to the UK for a tour next month, only to groan out loud in dismay when I looked at the dates.

8 September 2022 will be the date of myself and Rachel’s silver wedding anniversary – we were together for more than seven years before making honest people out of one another.  Plans are already in place to be away at that time, and yup, that’s the date when Ducks Ltd are due in Glasgow.

Never mind, I thought to myself, they are in Edinburgh a couple of days later…..only it clashes with something else I have on that weekend, namely a golf weekend that’s been a year in the planning.

Mind you, there’s Manchester on the 13th….which is now sorted out in terms of gig tickets, travel and overnight accommodation (just got to hope there’s no industrial action stopping the trains from running).

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy some of the sounds that have got me excited:-

mp3: Ducks Ltd – Get Bleak
mp3: Ducks Ltd – As Big As All Outside
mp3: Ducks Ltd – 18 Cigarettes
mp3: Ducks Ltd – Under The Rolling Moon

The first two are from the EP and the latter two from the LP.

JC

THE TUESDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part sixty-five: BOMBAST

This_Nation's_Saving_Grace

I know that another ICA by The Fall appeared on the blog only a few days ago, and we’re not long removed from an extensive series looking at their many singles.

The thing is, I not too long ago picked up a vinyl copy of This Nation’s Saving Grace, the album released in September 1985. It’s taken me a couple of months, but I finally got round to putting it on the turntable at the same time as hooking everything up to the laptop to create a high-quality digital copy of its songs.

I can’t help but use the words written by Steve Pringle in his excellent new book, You Must Get Them All – The Fall On Record, as he’s captured perfectly all that makes today’s track such an essential and riveting listen.

….Steve Hanley wrote the riff during his paternity leave, (and it) kicks the album into gear in wonderfully boisterous fashion.  Smith gets his megaphone out for the striking introduction. It doesn’t make sense grammatically, but the message is clear : don’t give me any of your bullshit, or you’ll know about it.

What follows is an absolute marvel. It’s like Steve Hanley came up with three great riffs and then thought, what the hell, let’s weld them all together and see what happens. It clashes, it grinds, it thrashes; it almost feels as if the song itself is trying to punch you in the face. There’s no real song as such here, but it’s a glorious slab of music.

mp3: The Fall – Bombast

Now that you’ve reacquainted yourself with Bombast, don’t you reckon Steve Pringle has nailed it?

JC

ICA WORLD CUP 2022 : GROUP D : THE RESULTS

3b2da975-e58a-47df-8f56-14f45e36042b

Group D.   It’s possible that D was short for ‘Death’ given a lot of the bigger names and pre-tournament favourites were featured, along with some cult acts who could prove to be potential dark horses.  In such circumstances, some of the minnows, primarily singers/bands whose appearances have more or less been restricted to the ICA, were on a hiding to nothing.

35 sets of votes had been cast by Monday evening, and it was already clear that Muse, Pink Cross and The Wave Pictures had next to no chance of getting through.

At the other end of the table, Echo and The Bunnymen seemed to be getting ticked by almost everyone, picking up a remarkable 31 votes from the first 35 selections, thus ensuring, very early on, a smooth passage to the knock-out stages.  Fellow Liverpudlians, The Beatles also looked to have done enough by Monday night with 24 votes, with each of Cinerama, Edwyn Collins and The Ramones also looking comfortable while John McGeoch, after a sluggish start, were beginning to feature prominently.

There was, however, a fair old battle going on for the remaining two spots. By Monday evening (when I did a quick check on things) just five points separated 7th place down to 14th with Ballboy, Blancmange, The Blue Nile, Gregory Isaacs, Jens Lekman, Pop Will Eat Itself, Pylon and Sons & Daughters all being in with a shout of getting through.

Only a further eleven sets of votes were cast over the remainder of the week, resulting in the final top half of the table looking like this:-

  1. Echo & The Bunnymen 40
  2. The Beatles 30* (penalty-shoot out winners for 2nd place)
  3. Edwyn Collins 30
  4. The Ramones 28
  5. John McGeoch 26
  6. Cinerama 24
  7. Ballboy 22
  8. Pop Will Eat Itself 20

It was Ballboy in particular who picked up a lot of support in the final few days to clinch a spot in the knock-out phases, while PWEI also fared well late on to clinch the final spot.  The Blue Nile got 17 votes, just ahead of each of Gregory Issacs, Pylon and Sons & Daughters who all got 16 votes while.  Blancmange and Jens Lekman didn’t pick up much more support after Monday, finishing with 14 and 12 respectively; indeed there was a late burst from Muse to eventually gain 11 votes while neither Pink Cross or The Wave Pictures reached double figures.

Worth mentioning that 87% of the participants cast a vote for Echo & The Bunnymen, which is thus far the best performance in the group stages.

That’s 32 of the 64 who will participate in the knock-out stages sorted out.  And the way I’ve worked it out, all the teams in the top half of the draw (Groups A-D) will be up against one another, so you can have a look back at what’s happened already to see that some tasty match-ups are guaranteed come September when that phase of the ICA World Cup gets underway.

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

mp3: Blancmange – Waves (12″ mix)

JC

ICA WORLD CUP 2022 : GROUP E

icaworldcup

I reckon you’ll all know the script by now.  If not, just scroll back to all five of the Sunday postings from last month.

This week, seventeen songs are competing for your votes, with eight of them set to qualify for the knock-out stages.  As ever, all the songs, are #1 from all the relevant ICAs, and they now follow in alphabetical order of the singer or group involved.

Arctic Monkeys – Chun Li’s Spinning Bird Kick (ICA 193)

The Auteurs – The Rubettes (ICA 178)

Beastie Boys – Ch-Check It Out (ICA 240)

The Brilliant Corners – Rambling Rose (ICA 163)

Cats On Fire – Horoscope (ICA 314)

Chumbawamba – Give The Anarchist A Cigarette (ICA 273)

Comsat Angels – Missing In Action (ICA 252)

Amelia Fletcher – Talulah Gosh* (ICA 309)

The Go-Betweens – Lee Remick (ICA 200)

Davy Henderson – Candyskin** (ICA 306)

Hinds – Chili Town (ICA 286)

Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life (ICA 182)

Kylie Minogue – The Loco-motion (ICA 260)

Smog – The Well (ICA 192)

The Style Council – Mick’s Blessings (ICA 217)

The Who – My Generation (ICA 208)

Wilco – Box Full Of Letters (ICA 238)

*a song by Talulah Gosh – ICA 309 was a compilation of tracks on which Amelia Fletcher was involved

*a song by The Fire Engines – ICA 306 was a compilation of tracks on which Davy Henderson sang and played

This is the sort of group I was hoping that the draw would deliver.  Loads of big names, some of whom had their ICAs open up with lesser-known or weaker tracks, which perhaps makes them vulnerable when you come to cast your votes.  Once again, you can nominate up to eight singers or band to progress, but no more than that.

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

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #318: THE SPOOK SCHOOL

spook-school-breakup-1551803189

From all music :-

Edinburgh quartet the Spook School play a brand of indie pop that combines the hookiness of C-86 bands like Shop Assistants with the punky energy of the Buzzcocks, then adds lyrics that deal passionately with sexuality and gender.

While attending the University of Edinburgh, bandmembers Nye Todd (guitar/vocals), Adam Todd (guitar/vocals), Anna Cory (bass/vocals), and Niall McCamley (drums) made their first recordings (in Adam Todd’s bedroom) and released the happily lo-fi results on cassette in 2012 with the title I Don’t Know, You Don’t Know, We All Don’t Know the Spook School.

It was followed by a single for Cloudberry Records later that year, which led to them catching the ear of the Fortuna POP! label. The indie pop mainstay signed the Spook School and released their first album, Dress Up, in 2013.

The album’s energy and raft of catchy songs earned them a burgeoning following and a slot at the 2014 N.Y.C. Popfest. That same year, their shared love of sketch comedy paid off with the band being invited to do the music for the second season of the BBC Three show Badults.

The band’s second album further explored gender identity. As Nye began testosterone therapy, his voice started changing subtly as the recording process continued. Try to Be Hopeful was issued in October of 2015, again by the Fortuna POP! label.

The group’s next appearance on record was Continental Drift, a split LP on Fortuna POP! and Slumberland that also featured songs by the Mercury Girls, Wildhoney, and Tigercats. After the 2017 holiday single “Someone to Spend Christmas With” on their new U.K. label, Alcopop! Records, the Spook School came back in early 2018 with their third album, Could It Be Different? The record addressed abusive relationships, gender issues, Brexit, and the struggle of staying alive in the modern world.

My very good friend Aldo championed The Spook School from the outset, seeing them on many an occasion across Scotland and further afield.  I was, alas, very late to the party, only catching them on a couple oof occasions around the promotion of that third album, which proved to be their last.

From Stereogum on 5 March 2019:-

The Spook School have announced that they’re breaking up. The Scottish four-piece will embark on a final tour through the UK in the summer, wrapping up in Glasgow in September.

The band has been together since 2012. They’ve released three full-length albums in that time: 2013’s Dress Up, 2015’s Try To Be Hopeful, and 2018’s Could It Be Different? They wrote giddy, ramshackle indie-pop songs about identity and self-discovery and finding a supportive community to call your own. Here is the goodbye message:-

We have an announcement.

This year will mark the end of the project known as The Spook School. Whilst it is incredibly sad we really want to look back with joy on this journey. It’s easy to forget all the things we managed to achieve with close to zero knowledge of how the music industry works (we still don’t really understand a lot of it!).

We started as friends and we are ending the exact same way. We still love each other and in the future we will continue to work together on creative projects but real life has a habit of getting in the way and eating up time and energy. We just can’t devote ourselves to the band the way we want to anymore and we would rather go out with a fanfare than let The Spook School drift quietly away.

We have achieved so much more than we ever thought possible and we are so, so grateful for everything we got to experience. We have met so many people and seen so much of the world that would have remained hidden from us if it wasn’t for this band.

It has been 8 years, 3 albums, countless silly covers, hundreds of adventures, and one highly unofficial endorsement from Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Sausages. We will never forget our time as The Spook School.

Finally, we want to say thank you to you. Thank you for your support, it truly has meant so much to us. We are full of self-doubt and constantly questioning ourselves and to have such positive people coming to our shows and listening to our music is infectious. We have written about incredibly personal things and that sense of community and of having a support network has been so beautiful. If our music has made even the smallest positive contribution to anybody then we can be exceptionally proud.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to play for you.

Lots of love and always try to be hopeful,
AC, Adam, Nye and Niall

I’ve picked up all three albums and there are some magical moments on each of them.  I thought the best thing today would be to offer up one track from each of them.

mp3 : The Spook School – I’ll Be Honest (from Dress Up)
mp3 : The Spook School – Richard and Judy (from Try To Be Helpful)
mp3 : The Spook School – Still Alive (from Could It Be Different)

Warning….the last of the above tracks has a sweary sing-a-long chorus.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #318: THE FALL (7)

Mark-E-Smith-and-Brix-Smith

There’s a temptation while the ICA World Cup is being played out to avoid adding any new entries to the series for the fear that they will sort of get lost among all that’s going on.

There’s also the question of whether this blog actually needs another ICA from The Fall, especially as it’s not that long since the very-long running singles series came to a halt.

But it’s been inspired in part, by the ongoing series over at No Badger Required where SWC is undertaking a rundown of the best songs with one-word titles, as voted on by his readers.  Victoria made into that rundown at #49 from an original longlist of more than 130 songs.  SWC said that the only other Fall tracks he had thought of including at the expense of Victoria had been Repetition and Iceland. 

It got me thinking that while there were very few one-word Fall songs, there are loads with two-word titles, so much so that an ICA could be compiled.

SIDE A

1. Psykick Dancehall (from Dragnet, 1979)

‘Is there anybody there?’

One which probably sounds like a typical song by The Fall to those who perhaps have little time for the band.  Opening track on Dragnet, the second studio album, there’s a repetition about the music and the vocals as such are half-chanted and half-sung.  And it’s meant to sound a tad off-key all the way through…..it was one of the ways MES wanted to distinguish his mob from any other gang in the post-punk era.

2. Cruiser’s Creek (1985 single)

The full six plus minute version, guaranteed to fill any indie disco dance floor filled to the brim.  Described by MES as having ‘a party lyric with a party twist.’

3. Industrial Estate (Peel Session)

MES mentioned the song, at length, in his ghosted autobiography Renegade, published in 2008:-

“…the second or third song that I wrote the music for, but the lyrics came first – it’s a sort of poem; a hard poem. You can tell it was written at work. It’s about working on the docks, on a container base. So of course I presented it to the group and they want to know what it’s all about. They would prefer me to write about velvet shiny leather,  the moon and all that kind of thing, like Television or The Velvets. As a compromise I wrote the chorus – ‘Yeah, yeah, industrial estate’ – to make it a bit more American rocky. And I wrote this sub-Stooges music to go with it, Stooges without the third chord. At the time, people thought it was terrible because it wasn’t the way it should be, it wasn’t in tune. But I never wanted The Fall to be like one of those groups. I didn’t care what people thought.”
Industrial Estate was part of the band’s first ever Peel Session, recorded on 30 May 1978 and initially broadcast on 15 June 1978.  The 24th and final such session was broadcast on 12 August 2004, some three months prior to the death of the much-loved broadcaster.

4. Hip Priest (from Hex Enduction Hour, 1982)

The alter ego of the unappreciated MES, and famously used in the 1991 film Silence of The Lambs. Selected for this ICA ahead of The Classical, as I didn’t want to get into any more debate about the use of the N-word in its lyrics.

5. Two Librans (from The Unutterable, 2000)

I wasn’t paying too much attention to The Fall at the turn of the century, but I ‘discovered’ this trashy rocker of a track thanks to its inclusion on Revolutions 04, a CD given away with Select Magazine in early 2021.  Two Librans was voted in at #23 in the Peel Festive 50 of 2000.

SIDE B

1. No Bulbs (from Call For Escape Route, 1984)

The Fall have rarely sounded more coherent or commercially ready than at this time in their career.  MES, Craig Scanlon, Steve Hanley, Brix Smith and the dual drumming machines of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns made some great music together. This is your full near eight-minute version from the 12″ EP on which Draygo’s Guilt was the lead track.

2. Edinburgh Man (from Shift-Work, 1991)

The break-up of the marriage to Brix led to MES upping sticks and moving to Edinburgh to live for a period of time.  He would later pen an affectionate number to his temporary home.

3. Free Range (from Code: Selfish, 1992)

This is the album version, which is slightly shorter and a different edit, musically, from the single version that featured a while back on the blog.  I do prefer the version which made it all the way to #40 in the UK (the highest position for any Fall original in the singles chart), but this take seems to fit in perfectly at the mid-point of Side B of this ICA.

4. Cowboy George (from Your Future Our Clutter, 2010)

I’ve not too long finished making my way through You Must Get Them All – The Fall On Record, a new book written by Steve Pringle which goes through every record ever released by MES & co.  The author suggests that there is a strong case to be made for Your Future Our Clutter to be the last ‘great’ album on the basis of its consistency and that the latest incarnation of the band had got to grips with a sound that was utterly their own.

Cowboy George is a fast and furious effort, with nods to surf rock and the soundtracks of spaghetti-westerns.  A song of two quite distinct halves, it’s another long one at almost six minutes long and was played live regularly in the sets over the final few years.

5. Fantastic Life (b-side, 1981)

Not only did this get featured when I had a look at Lie Dream of Casino Soul, but it found its way into one of the two volumes of my most recent mixes which popped up just yesterday.

If you want my opinion, and you’re going to get it in any event, this is one of the very best Fall tracks of them all.  Ripped direct from the vinyl, so there’s a couple of minor clicks along the way.

JC

KILLER B’s

424-4248025_circle-banner-letter-b-letters-in-a-circle

It’s the first free day, blog wise, of a new month.

A few weeks ago, I thought I’d try for a mix with songs released as b-sides.  The long list proved to be very substantial, with more than enough bits of music to bring you a box set.  I ended up making two volumes.  Hope you enjoy them.

mp3: Various – Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The B-Side (Volume 1)

Bagged Out Ken – Julian Cope
Intuition Told Me – Orange Juice
La Pastie De La Bourgeoisie – Belle and Sebastian
Situation – Yazoo
Rent – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
First We Take Manhattan – R.E.M.
Do It Clean – Echo and The Bunnymen
I Kicked A Boy – The Sundays
The Highland League – I, Ludicrous
The Passenger – Iggy Pop
The Butterfly Collector – The Jam
Even In His Youth – Nirvana
Edam Anchorman – Super Furry Animals
Temptation Greets You Like A Naughty Friend – Arctic Monkeys feat. Dizzy Rascal
Unfaithful – The Wedding Present
Life’s A Gas – Teenage Fanclub
Mars Bar – The Undertones
My Insatiable One – Suede

mp3: Various – Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The B-Side (Volume 2)

Friday Night, Saturday Morning – The Specials
Erotic City (Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive) – Prince & The Revolution
What’s The World – James
His Latest Flame – The Motorcycle Boy
Lipstick – Buzzcocks
I Love You, You Big Dummy – Magazine
Fantastic Life – The Fall
Shopping For Blood – Franz Ferdinand
10.15, Saturday Night – The Cure
Paninaro – Pet Shop Boys
Laugh You Out The House – Everything But The Girl
We Could Send Letters – Aztec Camera
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy – Sons and Daughters
Blank Slate – The National
1963 – New Order
This Girl, Black Girl – The Go-Betweens

Both come in just a few seconds short of sixty minutes.

JC

ACTION FIGURE ARCHIVE VOL.2

A GUEST POSTING by STEVE McLEAN

2022ACTIONF_CHP

JC writes…..

Steve McLean has been a long time friend of the blog, having contributed a few guest postings over the years, including his take on The Last Temptation of Elvis compilation album, an ICA on Chuck Mosley, an appreciation of the Marc & Lard radio show and around this time last year, a two-part piece which paid tribute to musical theatre. Oh, and he’s also a huge fan of Butcher Boy.

He makes a living (in part) from stand-up comedy, and, with the month of August coming around, he and many others will be making his way to Edinburgh in search of an audience.  I’ve been to a couple of Steve’s previous shows and been thoroughly entertained, and was therefore more than happy to say ‘Hell, Yes’, when he asked if he could use TVV to give the show a plug.  Here he is…..

Sci fi and music go together. From 50s rockabilly in early B-movies to the cracking use of the guitar solo from November Rain in the latest Thor film. It you haven’t seen it, then it goes like this – Slow-motion Chris Hemsworth, a sackful of CGI, big riff from Slash and BOOM! A billion at the box office. Directing these days, eh? A Piece of piss. Anyone with a laptop can do it.

Sooooo, since my latest Edinburgh Fringe show is all about Sci-Fi and Fantasy and Barbie dolls (yeah I know, it’s gonna be a tough sell this year) I thought I’d scrape together a playlist of cool Sci-Fi songs. There’s a no Bowie rule as that would be too easy on account of him being an actual alien. There’s also no Dungeons and Dragons bullshit from the likes of Yes or King Crimson because it’s wank and you can pretty trace all incel culture back to it (I don’t know if that’s true, I just made it up on the spot but the more I think about it the more it seems plausible).

Magneto and Titanium Man – Paul McCartney and Wings. 

”Hey Stuart Murdoch, how did you come up with that great piano riff on The Boy With The Arab Strap?” He’ll never tell, the man is a genius. Unrelated to that listen to this great pub-rock keyboard work-out from McCartney. Paul is creating an MCU mash up years ahead of Kevin Feige but It’s a strange trio to choose to sing about. Magneto is, of course, a well-known big hitter among the fans but the other two geezers? You’d be forgiven for thinking they were just made up for the song, but both are bona fide comic book villains. They’ll probably get a Disney plus series made about them. Eventually everyone gets a Disney plus series made about them. Magneto famously got his name when writer Stan Lee was having an ice cream couldn’t chose between a Magnum and a Cornetto. He was originally going to be called Cornettnum (look it up). Can you believe this was a B-side? Stan Lee himself said the song was great. It is. Nice one Stuart MurCartney. 

Oh, and it’s a song that features Jimmy McCulloch, from Dumbarton. He was the greatest of The Wings. (Note from JC…..Steve, although London-based for many years, is from Dumbarton, a town some 25 minutes by train to the west of Glasgow, on the north bank of the River Clyde)

Freak Like Me – Sugababes 

This song isn’t about sex. It’s about being a Vampire. Watch the video and defend your virginity at all costs, except from Vampires they’re sexy as fuck and you’re only human (for now, at least). Sugababes had a habit of banging out amazing pop singles. No one out there was saying ‘oh I wonder what their new album is like’ but when it came to the top 40, regardless of their line up, they always seemed to nail it. Like a 2000s version of Supremes but with more WKD. The main sample in this is from Gary Numan‘s Are ”Friends” Electric, which is already pretty damn Sci-Fi. Numan is another one who might be an alien. The original is corking but this is so much better, even Gary thought so. Sci-Fi-tinged-vampire-sex-grit is a phrase you’d expect from something out of the demo section of the NME, not a manufactured girl group (Note for younger readers: The NME was a thing that nobody liked but were compelled to purchase until the internet came along and saved us 75p a week. To be honest most of us would still buy it if it was brought back on inky black and white sheets and featured an interview with Gedge every third issue). The Sugacubes were fucking boss. 

The Eagles – Journey of the Sorcerer

This song is one of the reasons that Bernie Leadon chose to leave the Eagles (the other being that working with cunts is really hard, just ask Stills, Nash and Young or John Deacon). You don’t get many bluegrass instrumental space odysseys and that’s probably a good thing. It goes a touch prog but not enough to get on your tits. Best known as the theme to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I’d say ‘I betcha didn’t know this was the Eagles’ but you probably did.

Clones – Alice Cooper 

The early 1980s were the ruin of many of a 1970s rocker. Heroin, pills and Jack Daniels had been replaced by cocaine, speed and Tequila Sunrises. The hairy dinosaurs had to find some way to survive until 1985 when hairspray and Bruce Fairbairn would save their careers. Led Zep fans be glad your boys didn’t make it or they’d have recorded their own Dude Looks Like A Lady (search your feelings, deep down you know it’s true).   

Alice was different though. He’d already navigated the trappings of the psych scene into solid 70s rockers with massive hits and then into a solo star. During his sober periods he wasn’t oblivious to the changes going on around him and realised he had to jump ship, at least for a short while. It’s a pity this wasn’t a bigger hit because I’d have loved to have seen more cyber-goth Cooper rather than the Rocky Horror tribute act he went on to become. 

While there’s a definite vibe of aping the electropop of the day, it’s done with love and you can tell Cooper is a fan of the genre. It’s engulfed in Orwell vibes but since the Coop was a bit of an 80s Reaganist, maybe he’s coming from another angle? ‘We destroyed the government, we’re destroying time, no more problems in our way’ Is he perhaps saying we need the enemies of society to rail against or we ourselves become the enemy? No. He’s not. It’s just a song and I’ve just put more thought into the lyrics than the writer David Carron did. Still a banger though.   

They Might Be Giants – See the Constellation

I always thought of TMBG as R.E.M.’s goofy but more fun little brother. They’ve got some proper Sci-Fi cred, if that’s not an oxymoron. Not only is this song from the album Apollo 18 released in 1992, the duo were also declared the official band of the International Space Year (International Women’s / Men’s Day is taking quite an ego bruising here. Space gets a whole year! FUCK YOU HUMANS). This song should have been a single, but they chose to release a version of the Lion Sleeps Tonight instead. The lion in that song is not in the jungle but in a spaceship. It’s on brand but it was still a fucking terrible choice when they had this riffing bad boy ready to go. They once released a version of Istanbul (Not Constantinople) as a single and no one told them to mark it, so what do you expect? Check out their kids album about science.

B-52s – Planet Claire 

Peak Sci-Fi music. The 50s B-movie vibes I mentioned earlier, the Peter Gunn guitar, the boops, beeps and the beehives. Everything about this is stellar… interstellar!  The B-52s flirted with Sci-Fi throughout their career songs like 52 Miles West of Venus, There’s a Moon in the Sky or Cosmic Thing. The B-52s are the ultimate Sci-Fi party band, when the our robot overlords finally rise up and take over I feel they’ll go easy on the B-52s. Even robots like to party.   

Geoff Love and His Orchestra – Blake’s 7 Theme

What could be better than the Blake’s 7 theme? The Blake’s 7 theme in a Disco style! This is tune is GROOVIE AF! It tries to repeat the same trick that Meco had with their disco version of the Star Wars theme. The problem of course was the while Star Wars was watched by gazillions worldwide and captured the imagination of children everywhere, Blake’s 7 was watched by a few dozen and captured the imagination of the kids who had grown out of Doctor Who but weren’t quite old enough to smoke. Tough market to sell to. Add to this, disco music was well on its way to bankrupting the music industry (seriously, read this wiki entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco#Impact_on_music_industry) Could the disco version of Blake’s 7 have saved the genre? We’ll never know, but almost certainly yes. Battle of the Loves: Geoff > Mike.

My latest Edinburgh Fringe show is called Action Figure Archive, Volume 2, WTF! It’s on at 3pm every day in Roti on the South Bridge (except Tuesdays). It’s free so if you’re visiting the Fringe and need someone to get out of the rain then I’m your guy.

STEVE

JC adds….

As I mentioned earlier, Steve’s shows are a good laugh, albeit you better be prepared for audience participation.  It’s part of the Free Fringe and so there’s no stupidly priced admission (+ booking fee!!), and in typical traition of the buskers, you can just put some money into a hat at the end of the show.

Here’s a link to all the details

And feel free when you put your money in the hat to tell Steve that you came along after reading about it on TVV.

THE TUESDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part sixty-four: ALLOW YOURSELF

a1787301269_10

2022 has been a really decent year for new music, so much so that I’m having real difficulty picking out a favourite above all others….and with some absolute belters scheduled to come out over the remaining months, such a task will become an impossibility.

It’s not helped by the fact that one of my favourite releases from 2021, Catastrophe Hits, the latest album from Broken Chanter, also qualifies for consideration in 2022, all as a result of the vinyl version only becoming available back in January, a full four months after the CD.

My previous piece reviewing the album needs updated to say that it has proven to be a record that gets better and better with each listen.

David MacGregor should be a bona-fide pop star, topping the bills on outdoor festivals, or at the very least, selling out stadia in his home city during the summer months.

There’s something really unfair about the world when Gerry Cinnamon can play Hampden Park for successive nights (attracting The Charlatans and Travis as his main support acts), and Broken Chanter bring the latest tour to a close at a small venue in a New Town some 15 miles outside the city.

It was just last Friday that I found myself at the Cumbernauld Theatre watching another outstanding live show, with one absolute gem of a song following on from the next, interspersed with chat and anecdotes from a very fine and charismatic frontman.  I came away thinking it would have been the perfect night out for the festival crowd, but sadly they all seem far too pre-occupied with lesser talents whose profiles appear in all sorts of places, thanks to well-oiled and well-resourced PR machines.

The show, and thus the tour, ended with what has now become my own favourite from the album, and saw me break out into a bit of a dance:-

mp3: Broken Chanter – Allow Yourself

I really can’t recommend Catastrophe Hits highly enough.  You can get a taster for everything by heading over to the bandcamp page.

Where, incidentally, you can find the answer to a question I’m posing today which, if you leave behind correctly in the comments, will entitle you to be entered into a draw for a vinyl or CD copy of the album, signed by David.

“Which two record labels jointly issued Catastrophe Hits?’

Closing date for entries is 11.59pm (UK time) on Tuesday 9 August.  I’m sorry to say that the costs of shipping the vinyl to anyone overseas means I have to restrict the competition to UK residents only.

I’m so very very very sorry…..blame Brexit.

PS : The winner of the ticket for the Glas-Goes Pop festival this coming weekend was Sarah.  Thanks to flimflamfan for providing that partricular prize.

JC

ICA WORLD CUP 2022 : GROUP C : THE RESULTS

football-results

Yes….that is a blurry photo (accessed from t’internet) of the time when Mark E Smith read out the football results on BBC Television. It was to do with the programme segment having long used Theme From Sparta F.C. #2 as the introductory music.

I reckon MES would have been enthralled at the way Group C panned out as the outcome, outside of the Top Two, was uncertain until the final few votes came in.  The Feelies and Television got their noses out in front early on and never relinquished their positions…it was just a case of which of the two would win the group.

Michael Hall, Rainer Ptaceck and The Schramms all offered up sterling efforts, but didn’t muster much in the way of support.

This left thirteen acts battling it out for the six remaining qualifying places and a spot in the knock-out stages.  It swung one way and then another and then swung back again….and then there were a few late surges from ICAs that hadn’t picked up many early votes.  Thankfully, the top eight all gained enough votes to avoid any elimination by the cruel coin-toss, but the process was needed a few times to sort out an order:-

  1. Television 21
  2. The Feelies 18
  3. The Dream Syndicate 14
  4. Chuck Prophet 14
  5. Chris Isaak 14
  6. Uncle Tupelo 13
  7. Queens of the Stone Age 12
  8. Vic Chesnutt 12

Black Angels and Morphine got 11 votes, just one ahead of Black Keys, Son Volt and Thin White Hope. Giant Sand gained 9 votes, while The Lyres picked up 8.

The best thing of all is that my e-mail to HSP, using his home address rather than his place of employment, did get picked up, and he used the comments section to let everyone know he was fine, and to explain why he’s been quiet for so long:-

“I will be back, I hope fairly soon. COVID had a lot to do with my backing away – it effectively doubled our workload which was then doubled again by fighting our nightmare administration and its constant efforts to undo all that is good about higher education (a union man through and through, I’m also on the Academic Senate, so La Luta Continue!).

That was also the time one son was starting University, from the basement, and the other, from the upstairs bedroom and my wife was working from home and… I got a book contract to go along with the Associate Editor work I do for a rising journal.

I was working on a “post-Hoboken” Luna/Wake Ooloo ICA around that time, as well as one I was less confident about for Killing Joke. I know there’s one to be made on Deer Tick, and I think I can do one on the Ass Ponys. Onwards and upwards, hope to be back soon.”

And if nothing else is achieved from the staging of the 2022 ICA World Cup, the return of HSP will have been worth it.

This one seems appropriate today, now that we know the answer.

mp3: The Schramms – Where Were You?

JC