THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 6)

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I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – Tommy Gun

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: The Clash – Tommy Gun

Released as a single in November 1978.

JC

THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 5)

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I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – Boredom

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: Buzzcocks – Boredom

From the Spiral Scratch EP, released in January 1977.

JC

THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 4)

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I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: The Adverts – Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

A single that reached #18 in the UK charts in September 1977.

JC

THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 3)

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I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – Teenage Kicks

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

The debut single, from October 1978.

JC

THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 2)

Siouxsie & The Banshees 1978 pic by Ray Stevenson

I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – Hong Kong Garden

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: Siouxsie and The Banshees – Hong Kong Garden

The debut single, from August 1978.

JC

THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 1)

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I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – Beat On The Brat

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: The Ramones – Beat On The Brat

From the self-titled debut album, released in April 1976.

JC

IT’S CHRISTMAS……

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I did think about taking today off. But I changed my mind.

mp3: Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop

It’s Christmas so we’ll stopI don’t
It’s on with the lights to warm the dark
It can cloak elsewhere
As the rot stops for today
Let the rot stop just for one day
Only good red eyes, red suits, and faces will radiate
And the cold will hide its face
Now the cold is turned away
We can be best friends with the people we hate
‘Cause we’ve all got blood
And it’s warmer than you think
Yeah it is warm and it is thick
We all breathe out clouds
We’re built to give at least once each year
Now that’s better than never I guess
And life might never get better than this
With the perfect excuse for our natures to change
And wear shiny clothes
Oh it’s Christmas so press pause and we’ll go

Oh it’s Christmas so we’ll stop
‘Cause the wine on our breath puts the love in our tongues
So forget the names
I called you on Christmas Eve
In fact forget the entire year
Don’t reflect just pretend and you won’t feel scared
You won’t feel a thing
‘Cause it’s all been tucked away
And once you’re tucked in bed
You’ll hold on to the day for the last few seconds
Your cradled face is protected from the wind
And I’ll protect you I promise I will
And the rest of our lives will be just like Christmas
With fewer toys
You’re a good girl I’m a good boy
So I thought

Oh it’s Christmas so we stopped
Were it not for the tick of the clock
And the spinning of the Earth in space
We could always be this way
And as we sleep at the fall of the day
In the room next door the tree lights brighten the rodents’ eyes
And catches a glimpse of the dust beginning to rise

The next day life went back to its bad self
The next day life went back to its bad self
The next day life went back to its bad self
The next day life went back to its bad self

Scott Hutchison was an extraordinarily talented human being.  This is such a beautifully observed piece of writing.  It was issued on limited edition 7″ vinyl by Fat Cat Records in December 2007. This was just a few months prior to the release of Midnight Organ Fight, the second album from Frightened Rabbit that would set them on the way to becoming popular an eventually signing for Atlantic Records in 2011.

Thanks to its relative rarity, ‘It’s Christmas…..’ is, in monetary terms, one of the most valuable 7″ singles sitting in the cupboard.  The one copy for sale on Discogs has a £200 asking price. Not that I’d ever be interested in getting rid of mine….which I picked up second-hand for not too much money, but then again the previous owner did allow it to pick up a few pops/scratches and even a mild skip at the 1:30 mark.  Sorry.

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop (choir version)

I’m still bemused as to why nobody, to my knowledge, has ever used the choir version for film or TV purposes, especially in the advertising world. But then again, maybe Scott turned down any such requests and his family continue to do so today.

I still think of him a fair bit. It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to listen to many of his songs without getting overly emotional.

Take care y’all….and I hope Santa has been good to you.

As mentioned previously, tomorrow will be the first of what will an 18-day series on a particular theme.  It’ll be almost the middle of January before things return to normal.

Thanks, again, to everyone whose visits and/or contributions throughout 2022 have helped to keep this little corner of t’internet ticking over.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #338: SUNSET GUN

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You’ll hopefully recall me mentioning last week that if Sugartown were to be the subject of one of those Rock Family Tree diagrams which trace how a band came to be formed, it would make for very impressive reading.  The funny thing is…..the same could be said about Sunset Gun.

Sunset Gun were a trio, made of up sisters Dee and Louise Rutkowski, and Ross Campbell, but in the studio there were other musicians, including Gordon Wilson on drums who got namechecked last week as a member of Sugartown, as well as being a past member of Love and Money.  One of the producers who Sunset Gun worked with was Alan Rankine, who had not lomg taken his leave of the Associates.

The Rutkowski sisters were a huge part of the Glasgow music scene in the early 80s and I recall bumping into them (but never talking to them) at a few places, not least Night Moves on Sauchiehall Street which was both a club and a venue for live music.  They had been part of Jazzateers in 1982 alongside the musicians who would eventually evolve into Bourgie Bourgie.  When that version of Jazzateers came to an end, the sisters, who were superb vocalists, hooked up with keyboardist Ross Campbell and in September 1983 they formed Sunset Gun, under the management of an upcoming mogul called Elliot Davis who also looked after the interests Wet Wet Wet, a band who were emerging from neighbouring Clydebank.

A series of demos created a buzz and a number of labels declared their interest in signing Sunset Gun.  In the end, it was CBS who won the bidding war. The trio went into a studio to record some tracks with Alan Rankine in the producer’s chair.  A single was issued in July 1984, with the A-side being a cover of Be Thankful For What You’ve Got, a song that was also covered by Massive Attack on their debut album in 1991.

mp3: Sunset Gun – Be Thankful For What You’ve Got

The single didn’t chart, but it did get the trio a fair bit of media coverage, and there were high expectations for the next single, which appeared in May 1985:-

mp3: Sunset Gun – Sister

Recorded at a studio in Glasgow, the lyrics were written by the Rutkowski sisters and the music by Ross Campbell, and while it is easy from a distance of almost 40 years to say that it hasn’t aged well, it should be remembered that this was a sound very typical of what many successful pop/soul bands were churning out in the mid 80s.  I reckon the folk at CBS were scratching their heads as to why their new signing wasn’t generating the sales everyone expected.

The contract allowed for an album which was recorded at the Chipping Norton studios in Oxfordshire.  The label felt that the best chance of a hit single was via another cover that had been recorded for the album,  this one having been a #1 hit for the Bee Gees in the USA back in 1971:-

mp3: Sunset Gun – How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?

It proved to be three strikes and you’re out, with CBS losing interest when this also failed to chart in July 1985.  The album, In An Ideal World, was released without too much fanfare a couple of months later, at which point Sunset Gun called it a day.

Ross Campbell has gone on to enjoy a successful career, working in all sorts of musical genres including house, garage, hip-hop, electronica, drum’n’bass, electronica and classical, we well composing for TV, Film and Theatre.

The Rutkowski Sisters very soon after became part of This Mortal Coil, the collective pulled together by 4AD Records, and contributing vocals to the albums Filigree and Shadow (1986) and Blood (1991).  In later years, Louise would work with the composer Craig Armstrong and be part of another 4AD band, The Hope Blister, before releasing a solo EP in 2001.  She then took a break from music before returning in 2014 with Diary Of A Lost Girl, which was shortlisted for the Scottish Album of The Year and then in 2020, a further album, Home was released.

JC

THERE’S A PARTY GOING ON DOWN AROUND HERE

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The blog, for the best part of a year, was turned over to The Fall every Sunday so that all their UK singles and b-sides could be looked at.  It was 3 October 2021 for the turn of Cruiser’s Creek.

For those who don’t recall that particular post, here’s a repeat of what was said.

Cruiser’s Creek is brilliant.  It’s also bonkers.

Putting the backstory together nowadays is much easier, thanks to the internet and the various fan sites devoted to The Fall, but trying to work it all out back in 1985 was a very tough task. Mark E Smith, in a contemporary interview with one of the music weeklies, said ‘it’s a party lyric with a party twist’.  I’m thinking he was referring to the utter danceability of the song, with a pacey riff and sing-along-chorus, albeit so many of the words in the verses are hard to pick out or fathom.  Reading them written down many years later and there’s confirmation that MES is having a sly dig at two of the year’s biggest happenings in the music world – Red Wedge and ZTT Records.

One of the most astonishing things to emerge in later years is that Cruiser’s Creek was the name of a library on a ship on which MES had spent time with Brix’s family after her grandparents had taken all the relatives on a fiftieth wedding anniversary cruise.  It seems that MES, in trying to escape all the fuss that was happening throughout, retreated to Cruiser’s Creek where he did some writing, seemingly using the location for the title but making the narrative about an office party.  Whether he was comparing the agonies of an office party at one of his former places of employment on Salford Docks with having to spend days at sea with the extended Salenger family, we can only make an assumption……”

The thing is, the version of the song which appeared with the post came from the compilation album The Fall 45 84 89. I’ve since, quite recently, picked up a second hand copy of the 7″ single, thanks to stumbling across it unexpectedly in a shop that mainly sells new vinyl.

If you’re not careful, it’s possible to have a John Peel moment with the single as it spins at 33.33rpm and not the traditional 45.  In other words, that’s me confessing I got caught out the first time I put it on the turntable.  The reason for using the slower speed is that the song actually extends to more than six minutes, as opposed to the album version’s running time of a bit more than four minutes.  As such, this is a debut appearance on TVV:-

mp3: The Fall – Cruiser’s Creek (7″ version)

The b-side is the largely instrumental track written by Brix Smith in homage to her home city.

mp3: The Fall – L.A.

The Fall’s line-up on these two tracks?  Mark E Smith (vocals), Brix Smith (guitar, vocals), Craig Scanlon (guitar), Steve Hanley (bass), Simon Rogers (bass, guitar, keyboards) and Karl Burns (drums).

Cruiser’s Creek reached the giddy heights of #96 in the UK singles chart.

I’ll sign off today with a little bit of housekeeping.

As in previous years, I’m going to take a bit of a break from the blog over the Festive period, but there will still be something posted every day….it’s just that, unsurprisingly, the visitor numbers fall away at this time of year and I prefer to come up with some sort of series or theme to tide things over.

Tomorrow, being a Saturday, will see the usual Scottish song posted.  I have also got something lined up for Christmas Day, (and for once, it’s not Xmas Bubblegum Machine by The Sultans of Ping F.C.), and then Monday will see the first of what will be an 18-part series on a particular theme, that will take us all the way through to almost the middle of January at which time I’ll get things back to normal.  Oh, and if I get my act together, there might be a bonus post on New Year’s Day.

My thanks, as ever, to everyone who has dropped by this year, whether to read, comment or offer up a guest contribution.  I couldn’t keep things going without you.

JC

ICA WORLD CUP 2022 : THE WINNERS

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At last.

A series that began back on 10 July comes to its conclusion.

I want to offer my thanks to those of you who dropped in so regularly to cast your votes. Let’s face it, the ICA World Cup 2022 would have been a monumental flop without audience participation, but I’ve been genuinely and pleasantly surprised and delighted that it proved to be popular from the outset and stayed that way through to the final.  I’ve an idea to do a similar type of event in 2023, based on a much smaller scale than ICAs, that I’m going to work on over the festive period to see if it will work.

Here’s a couple of immense contributions in respect of the final.

Chaval : Takes me back to teenage years in 79-80 taping JD sessions off Peel by night, grinning along to Blondie chart smashes by day.

Blondie’s imperial phase from 78-80 coincided with JD’s entire span of existence.  In the end, I think Debbie Harry was a more benign influence on the youth of the day (although Ian Curtis was probably a better dancer). 

In short, Blondie.

Bagging Area (aka Adam) : Changing the rules while the tournament runs – a ruse even Gianni Infantino might have thought too much, but then the actual World Cup has been besmirched and despoiled, so I suppose it had to happen here too.

Joy Division clearly.

Isolation, Shadowplay, Decades and The Eternal are the back four of post- punk. Hannett, Gretton, Saville and Wilson the midfield, Curtis, Sumner, Hook and Morris the wide players.

‘Some of the crowd are on the pitch, they think it’s all over…’

The final was a fascinating affair.  Blondie swarmed all over the Mancunians at the start, picking up six successive votes to establish a 7-2 lead just three hours after voting began.  The Joy Division fans were obviously having a lie-in on Sunday as they then cast the next six votes and at 2pm, just as the coverage of the actual World Cup final began on the BBC, the score was 8-7 to JD.

By 7pm, it was still very tight, with JD enjoying a 13-11 lead, while there had been one person to admit they couldn’t split the duo and suggested the trophy be shared. 

Midnight on Sunday.  40 votes had now come in.  Two folk had now suggested a shared trophy.  But the JD fans had clearly been raised from the slumbers as their votes had given their favourites a lead of 23-15, which, based on what had happened in earlier rounds, was looking decisive.

Very few votes came in between Monday and Wednesday.  I’ve no doubt folk were distracted by the sad news of the deaths of Terry Hall and Martin Duffy.

The final score, by midnight on Wednesday, was:-

Joy Division 29 Blondie 16

So, the ICA World Cup trophy stays in England, and for the second time, a band whose name beings with the letter J takes the honours.

Wasn’t sure which song to offer up today.  Do I go back to the ICA and pull something from there, or do something different?  This kind of does both.  The best known version was on the ICA:-

mp3 : Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Peel Session)

Recorded on 26 November 1979 and broadcast on 10 December 1979.

Which led me to also want to include this:-

mp3: Joy Division – Sound Of Music

A version of this song was also part of that same Peel Session.  It was a brand-new song at the time.  Joy Division would record a version in the Pennine Sound Studios in Oldham in January 1980 during the same sessions as they worked on Love Will Tear Us Apart as a potential single.

As it turned out, they decided against that particular version of LWTUA, and they reconvened in Strawberry Studios in Stockport in March 1980 where they came up with the take for what would prove to be their best-known song.

Sound Of Music was only given a posthumous release, as part of the compilation album Still, issued in October 1981.

Thanks again

JC

I WOULDN’T NORMALLY DO THIS KIND OF THING…

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I’m never really been one for pulling together any ‘best of year’ lists, mainly for the fact that I’ve long been in the habit of not buying new music from September onwards so that I can offer up lists to folk who are looking to give me Xmas presents. 

2022 has been different, primarily for the fact that myself and Rachel have decided to really cut back on such extravagance and instead to go a few larger sized combined gifts in the shape of a few city breaks overseas next year.  We’ve also told extended family members and friends not to bother with Xmas presents for us this year…for too many folk, especially those with kids, every penny/pound is precious with the ridiculous increase in the cost of living these days.

All of which means I’m able to offer up a list of my favourite purchases this year.  Apart from the first mentioned, they are not in any particular order.

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Happy EndingHiFi Sean and David McAlmont (Last Night From Glasgow)

It feels strange to be mentioning this double album as it won’t get a general release until February 2023, but it was provided to patrons of Last Night From Glasgow (LNFG) back in September as part of the bundle of records that came with the 2022 subscription, and indeed I’ll hang off from saying too much until it is available in the shops.

Thirteen glorious pieces of music spread across a double album (my version is on clear vinyl), I was lucky enough to be at LNFG’s headquarters when the test pressing had just arrived and so was treated to an early listen of Side A which opens with the title track.  It blew me away and got me very impatient for the arrival of the album.  My understanding is that the plan had been to have it on general release in September 2022, but capacity issues at the pressing plant meant it had to be done in various batches, and the decision was taken to push the release back to next year.  However, enough copies had been pressed to enable the LNFG patrons to be given their copy as scheduled.

David McAlmont‘s voice has always been something to treasure, but there’s something truly special about the way it matches up with Sean Dickson‘s electronic and production wizardry. Much of the album was recorded, over an extended period, in David’s home which is on the 18th Floor of a high-rise building in east London, while the added strings were conducted and recorded in Bangalore, India, which should give you a sense of how lush and exotic it all sounds. 

The duo have been trailing the release with the release of videos over on Sean’s YouTube channel – click here. Here’s one of the videos –

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You Had A Kind FaceButcher Boy (Needle Mythology)

The fact I’ve placed this release below the HiFi Sean/David McAlmont album should speak volumes.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a total groupie when it comes to Butcher Boy, and the long-awaited release of a ‘best of’, courtesy of Pete Paphides‘ wonderful Needle Mythology label (on which Robert Forster has also had two long out-of-print albums issued on vinyl) did not disappoint.  Beautifully designed and packaged, complete with liner notes from award-winning novelist John Niven, the album offers up twelve of the very best from one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, while a bonus 7″ single delivered three band new songs, the first new material in five years. 

I wrote extensively about You Had A Kind Face back in April.  Click here if you fancy a read,

mp3: Butcher Boy – I Know Who You Could Be

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The OverloadYard Act (ZEN F.C/Island Records)

 I can’t recall when I first encountered Yard Act.  I don’t listen much to the radio these days, so it was unlikely to have been there.  I also don’t watch too much in the way of TV, but I do use YouTube when I’m a bit bored, and I’ve a feeling that, having watched a few favourite new videos, Yard Act were a recommended watch that I clicked on, but the song did sound familiar, so I might have heard them firstly on BBC Radio 6.

It would have been for the single The Overload, an infectiously catchy effort that came out in late 2021, complete with tongue-in-cheek and memorable promo.  A few clicks here and there led me to come across a few earlier singles, and I was more than intrigued. 

The debut album, also called The Overload, came out last January and I picked up a copy, on green vinyl, in a well-known Glasgow independent record store within a few days.  It’s remained on heavy rotation ever since, to the extent that Rachel is now fully familiar with the band and will join me in going along to see them play Glasgow Barrowlands in a few months time – their previous visits to the city have coincided with me being elsewhere!

One reviewer has said that Yard Act consist of ‘sharp guitars, even sharper lyrics, plenty of fun and lots of attitude’, which is about as perfect a summary as can be offered.  They are my favourite discovery of 2022.

mp3: Yard Act – 100% Endurance

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Super ChamponOtoboke Beaver (Damnably)

The onset of the pandemic was cruel to many singers and bands, none more so than Japan’s Otoboke Beaver whose members had just taken the decision to quit their full-time jobs and have a serious go at making a living from their music, ten years after first forming.

Plans for tours in the USA and Europe had to be shelved, as indeed their intention to record a new album.  The timings were initially pushed backed, and while the new album did eventually hit the shops in last Summer, the UK gigs were again pulled as COVID restrictions made travelling and touring complicated and tricky.  I hope, somehow, they can be re-scheduled for 2023.

In the meantime, Super Champon did not disappoint.  It’s the usual highly energetic and breathless mix of superfast post-punk music, with none of the songs coming close to overstaying their welcome.  Indeed, it is something of a shock to the system that the whole album is over in just a little over 21 minutes….especially when you consider you’ve actually listened to eighteen tracks!

Oh, and there are nine songs on each side of the album. Side A is something of a marathon with a running time of 14:25…..while Side B is seemingly over faster than a Usain Bolt 100m race with its nine tracks extending to all of 7:18…..with two songs taking up more than four of those minutes.

Here’s a track from Side A:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – Nabe Party with pocket brothers

While here’s the full 18 seconds of the fourth track on Side B. It took me longer to type out the song’s title than it did to listen to it:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – You’re No Hero Shut Up F*ck You Man-Whore

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Mr Morale & The Big SteppersKendrick Lamar (Top Dawg Entertainment)

As with the Otoboke Beaver album, this one also has eighteen songs, but with the running time stretching to 73 minutes, it needs four sides of vinyl to accommodate them.

Kendrick Lamar’s first new album in half-a-decade is not an easy listen, certainly in comparison to Good Kid M.A.A.D City (2012), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) and Damn (2017), whose songs cemented his place as the most eminent and best hip-hop artist currently on the planet.  It’s an album from which the rewards really come from repeated listens, which I was more than happy to do as I had picked up tickets for a live performance in Glasgow at the beginning of December 2022, a show for which I would write this review for SWC’s blog, No Badger Required.

Mr Morale & The Big Steppers was a long time in the making, and it comes from a period of well-documented turbulence in America, particularly for black people.  Kendrick Lamar doesn’t shirk from addressing many of these big issues, but it’s an album in which he makes reference to his own life, reflecting, often in a downbeat manner, on his upbringing, his family, his fame and success, and his unwillingness or inability to be the spokesman for his generation or community.  It’s an album in which a lot of anger and bitterness comes through, partly at the state of the world right now, but also as much at himself for his failings as a person.

As you can imagine, it proved to be a complex album to make sense of, certainly over the first few listens, but with time and my own willingness to not seek to compare it with the aerlier albums, I came to the realisation that it is a masterpiece, albeit not without imperfections.

mp3: Kendrick Lamar – N95
mp3: Kenrick Lamar – Crown

That’s the five albums I most want to highlight.

Honourable mentions also to:-

Album ClubAlbum Club (Last Night From Glasgow)
A Brighter Beat (15th Anniversary Edition)Malcolm Middleton (Full Time Hobby)
Broken EquipmentBodega (What’s Your Rapture)
Everything Was ForeverSea Power (Golden Chariot Records)
Fear FearWorking Men’s Club (Heavenly)
Summer Lightning The Bathers (Last Night From Glasgow)
The Last Thing LeftSay Sue Me (Damnably)
The Voltarol Years Half Man Half Biscuit (R.M. Qaultrough Records)
Under The BridgeVarious (Skelp Wax Records)
Wet LegWet Leg (Domino)

JC

 

TERRY HALL : AN APPRECIATION

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It was a text from Jacques the Kipper at just before 11pm last night.

‘Terry Hall’

JtK has been a close pal for more than 30 years, and I’ve long known that when a text from him is short and simple, it means something awful has happened.

People die all the time.  I’ve lost friends and family in recent years, and some close friends have endured grief and tragedy that is beyond almost any of our comprehension or true understanding. I should be well-prepared for reading awful news and that someone else has passed on, but this one has come as an almighty shock.

The news of his death, at just 63 years of age, came via a series of tweets from The Specials:-

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing, following a brief illness, of Terry, our beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced,” 

“Terry was a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest, and most genuine of souls. His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life… the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but mostly the love.

“He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him and leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and profound humanity. Terry often left the stage at the end of The Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words… ‘Love Love Love’.”

By the time I finish typing this piece, there will be thousands of tributes out there, many of which will pay a better, more knowledgable and heartfelt tribute than I’m capable of.  I’m merely a fan of his music and loved his outlook on life.  I didn’t rush out and buy all of his records, and I only ever saw him once in concert.  Mrs JC came very close to meeting him once – she went into a record shop in Glasgow and learned that Fun Boy Three had just left the premises after a signing session, which she was gutted about.  She did see that the band had signed a handful of extra copies, and so she bought one…and the album still has a proud place here in Villain Towers.

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Like so many others of my age, my introduction to Terry Hall was via The Specials. 

I was 16 years old and really beginning to get into my music in a way that was different, thanks to having a paper round that allowed me to spend more money than ever before and also that I was now, in my parent’s eyes, old enough to go to gigs at the Glasgow Apollo. My tastes were predominantly new wave, with the odd disco track thrown in.  I knew nothing of ska….I came from a city that was incredibly white in terms of its population, with a small number of Asian families from India or Pakistan.  There were next to no Caribbean or black people in Glasgow, and while you might occasionally hear some reggae when you were hanging around any record shop, you wouldn’t hear any of the music that proved to be such an influence on 2-Tone when bands such as The Specials, Madness, The Selecter and The Beat burst onto the scene, seemingly out of nowhere. I’ve written before as to how and why 2-Tone became a huge part of my early and very primitive forays into DJing, if playing records on a single deck at a youth night in my school could actually be described as DJing.

It was also an age when I was becoming increasingly politically aware, developing and moulding a sense of values that have remained with me all my life.  Musicians such as Paul Weller, Joe Strummer and Terry Hall, and their various bandmates, played a huge part in this. I was more instinctive than active in those days, but that would change a few years later when I went to University and found myself in an environment where I could develop a greater understanding and learn to articulate my thoughts in a rational way.

Which is why I can’t honestly say that my love for Ghost Town had much to do with the scathing political commentary it offered in 1981, but more related to the tune and the incredible vocal performances.  Oh, and the fact that the b-sides were equally outstanding!

Terry Hall quit the band, seemingly backstage at the Top of The Pops studios, after they had performed Ghost Town.  He immediately, along with bandmates Neville Staples and Lynval Golding, formed the aforementioned Fun Boy Three, with the trio becoming staples of the pop charts, with seven genuinely brilliant Top 20 singles in a two-year period. 

Evidence that he was never content to rest on his laurels came with the decision to disband FB3 while they were still enjoying hits, and to form The Colourfield (originally called The Colour Field).  A band whose music verged often towards a romantic-folk style or chamber-pop, there would be a modicum of initial success with songs that seemed, to my ears, to lay the foundation for The Beautiful South to enjoy great fame and fortune. The debut album Virgins and Philistines reached #12. The second and final Colourfield album, Deception, barely scraped into the Top 100.

The Colourfield debut goes back to 1985.  It turned out to be the last time a Terry Hall album would make the Top 20 for thirty-four years. Castles In The Air, a single from the debut album, also coincidentally reached #12 in 1985, and, although it’s hard to believe, Terry Hall would never again be part of any big hit single – Sense by The Lightning Seeds went Top 40 in 1992, the same year as Possessed by Vegas, a new electronica band put together by Terry and Dave Stewart, formerly of Eurythmics.

In between all of this activity there had been Terry, Blair and Anouchka, a trio formed in 1990 and who delivered Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes, an album inspired by 60s/70s sunshine pop to next to no takers. Jacques the Kipper, however, picked up on it, and he passed on a couple of its songs via C90 compilation tapes; to my eternal shame, I never tracked down my own copy, relying later on a Terry Hall compilation CD for the three songs I have of theirs, plus an even later download of a track JtK had included on a tape (and which formed part of a Terry Hall ICA I put together in February 2021.)

Vegas, despite the minor hit single, didn’t last too long and Terry’s next move was to finally record under his own name and release solo material.  The two albums, Home (1994) and Laugh (1997) were critically acclaimed, but in an era when Britpop and its offspring were dominant, neither made much of a commercial impact, which is a shame disgrace given the quality of the songs on offer.

The years immediately after the turn of the century saw more collaborations, including with Gorillaz, Mushtaq (of Fun-Da-Mental fame) and Toots and the Mayals. But it was also a period when Terry was at his lowest, although very few knew of it at the time, as it took a while for the fact to emerge that he had attempted suicide in 2004 after decades of mental health issues. It all led to him being diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder.

Five years later, The Specials reformed.  Having said many times it would never happen, Terry Hall revealed it had been after seeing Pixies play again after their reformation that he realised it would be a good and right thing to do.

The gigs in 2009 were a huge triumph, despite the fact that Jerry Dammers chose not to be a part of things.  This led to more tours and festivals over the years, albeit since 2015, just three of the original members were now part of things, augmented by new and/or guest musicians.  A new album, Encore, was released in 2019 and went straight to #1, something that hadn’t happened in the band’s heyday.  A further record came out in 2021.  Protest Songs was an album of covers, encopassing a range of genres including blues, folk and country, and which was unlike anything else The Specials had ever released before but which, on reflection, captured a great deal of the way Terry Hall had gone about his entire musical career.

Terry Hall seemed in recent times to be much more at ease with himself.  In interviews, he never refrained from saying his piece, especially in light of the fact that the left-wing, anti-racist and equal society messages he has always been associated with are every bit as relevant today, if indeed not more so, than back in the late 70s/early 80s. He also said to one interviewer that “I’ve always thought I’d make my best music between the years 60 and 70.”

Sadly, the news from last night means it is not to be.

Terry Hall was a fabulous singer, an unparalled songwriter and a very capable musician.  He was a brave champion of social and political justice his entire life, and when he stood up in the late 70s and early 80s to preach his message, he did so knowing he and his mates would get flak and be subject to violence. 

The stresses and strains of it all took their toll on him over the years, but thankfully, his cry for help in the early 2000s was heeded and with the support of health professionals, his family and his friends, he got himself back on an even keel.  His final years brought stability and a return to fame, something that was long-overdue.  He has gone from us at far too young an age, but he has left us with much to treasure.

There were two Terry Hall ICAs in February 2021.  Khayem was first up with #277 in which he made a rule of ‘one song per act and collaborations to the fore’, while mine immediately followed as #278 and was much more conventional.  Here’s some songs from each of them.

ICA 277

mp3: The Specials – Friday Night, Saturday Morning
mp3: Vegas – If You Kill My Cat, I’ll Kill Your Dog
mp3: Fun Boy Three – Well Fancy That!
mp3: Terry Hall & Mushtaq – Ten Eleven

ICA 278

mp3: Fun Boy Three – The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum
mp3: Terry, Blair and Anouchka – Fishbones and Scaredy Cats
mp3: The Special A.K.A. – Gangsters
mp3: Terry Hall – A Room Full Of Nothing

Bonus tracks

mp3: The Colour Field  – The Colour Field
mp3: The Specials – Vote For Me

RIP, Terry. Missing you already.

JC

PS : Today’s post was originally going to be a China Crisis ICA, written by Martin (Our Swedish Correspondent).  This will now be held off till a future date.

POP’S LOWLY STATUS : THE WINNERS

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It was just over a week ago that I offered readers the opportunity to win a digital copy of Pop’s Lowly Status, a 16-song ‘best of’ collection of solo songs by Adam Stafford

The original plan had been to have one lucky entrant receive, via bandcamp, all of the digital releases that the great man currently has available on that platform, while four others would be gifted a copy of Pop’s Lowly Status.

A chat with Adam last week led us to the decision that everyone who had taken the time to answer correctly the question, “Which Scottish town is home to Adam Stafford?”, would be gifted a copy of the new compilation.  The answer is Falkirk, although that’s a long way from where he was born, which as a number of folk mentioned was Sunderland.

Everyone has been notified and if I’ve done things correctly via my own bandcamp account, then digital copies of the album have been distributed, while I’m working on the best way to get the grand prize of Adam’s full back catalogue over to Rol.

A huge thanks to everyone who took part, and that’s from both myself and Adam. 

Here’s something that isn’t on the new compilation:-

mp3: Adam Stafford – Taser Revelations (Hold On Children)

It’s the title track from his 2016 album, and one that if I had been pulling together an ICA would more than likely have made the cut.

JC

ICA WORLD CUP 2022 : THE FINAL

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Before turning to the actual final, let’s get last week’s results sorted out.

Sadly, it became clear within a few hours that one of the semi-finals was turning out to be a mismatch, with Blondie thoroughly dismantling Orange Juice.

Blondie scored the opening 9 goals before my young brother, all the way from Florida, put Orange Juice on the board.  Now, it might have been a different outcome if, say, the final track on Side A had been involved as Simply Thrilled Honey v Fade Away and Radiate would likely not have been so one-sided, and indeed might have seen Edwyn & Co actually make the final. The final scoreline reflects the fact that OJ picked up a few later votes…..

Orange Juice 12 Blondie 34

To begin with, Joy Division v The Jam was a much tighter affair but by the end of the first day of voting, the team from the north-west of England had a comfortable 17-9 lead over the team from the south-east. As the week went on, things began to swing the way of Weller & Co. By Wednesday evening, the gap had been halved with the score standing at 21-17, but with The Jam now picking up two out of every three votes that were coming in, the trend was suggesting Thursday and Friday would deliver the ultimate comeback.  Indeed, at one point the gap was down to just two…..but JD did recover enough on Friday to hold on.

Joy Division 24 The Jam 21

And with that, it’s a Manchester v New York final.

It wouldn’t be any sort of World Cup without controversy, and what is being proposed for the final may appal or anger many of you.  But please, hear me out.

I had always intended that the final would be decided by the closing track on the ICA, and with Blondie running away with things so early on, I looked at what Walter had chosen as B5 as part of ICA 198.

“Ring Of Fire (from Roadie Soundtrack)

Blondie made another cover version in Alan Rudolph‘s movie Roadie, with the first starring role by Meat Loaf. Never thought that even a song by Johnny Cash could fit to their sound.”

My spirits sank, somewhat.  While not denying that every ICA author can do whatever they like when pulling a piece together, and there’s no doubt Walter had really wanted to do something completely out of leftfield with this one….which was fine as these things go, but it now felt as if the ICA World Cup final would have a novelty song lining up on one half of the field.  A quick look at the Joy Division and The Jam entries showed it would be either Decades or Move On Up – neither entirely regarded as either band’s finest moments, but in all likelihood probably far too strong for the Blondie effort.

So…. to the controversy.

Instead of asking you to determine the final on the basis of one song versus one other song, I’m asking that you consider all the remaining songs from the ICAs that hadn’t yet featured in the competition, as a collective body of work.  That means four in all from both finalists, these being the final song on Side A and tracks 3-5 on Side B

Joy Division : Isolation; Shadowplay; The Eternal; Decades

Blondie : Fade Away and Radiate; The Tide Is High; Call Me; Ring Of Fire

You are, of course, free to call the outcome as a drawn match. There’s nothing in the rules to say the trophy cannot be shared!!!!

Worth mentioning that The Jam, the winners of the ICA World Cup 2018 did make a great run to the semi-finals in 2022 despite the fact the neither of their competing ICAs contained a song that had been released as an a-side of a single.  Talk about strength in depth……

The other bit of controversy is that I’m asking you to get your votes in a bit earlier than usual.  The closing time is Wednesday 21 December at midnight UK time.  I’ll announce the result the following morning.

Thanks again

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #337: SUGARTOWN

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If Sugartown were to be the subject of one of those Rock Family Tree diagrams which trace how a band came to be formed, it would make for very impressive reading, especially given they only ever released two albums in 1995 and 1997.

The two people picture above are Gwen Stewart, who sang vocals, and Douglas MacIntyre who played guitar and wrote most of the songs.  The other two members of the band when it first formed were Paul McGeechan on keyboards and Gordon Wilson on drums.

There is a huge connection with Love and Money, one of the ‘almost made it’ bands of the Scottish scene in the 80s and 90s, with Douglas, Paul and Gordon all being part of the group in its final few years. Paul had previously been in Friends Again, a band much loved by your humble scribe.

James Grant, the frontman of Love and Money, and previously the guitarist with Friends Again, helped to co-write a couple of Sugartown songs, while Ken and David McCluskey, from The Bluebells, got involved in playing and providing backing vocals.

Gwen had been part of Wild River Apples, a Glasgow band who were making some ripples in the early 90s who got as far as signing a deal with Chrysalis Records only to have their dreams dashed when the label was taken over by EMI, and they were dropped without ever setting foot in the recording studio. After a few years away from the music industry, but still in her early 20s, she accepted an invitation to be part of the final gigs of Love and Money as backing vocalist, following which the idea was floated that she become the lead singer in Sugartown, with Douglas telling her he had written some new songs with her voice in mind.

Sugartown became part of the roster at Marina Records in Hamburg, a label that has, and still maintains, great connections with the music scene in Scotland.  The first album was Swimming In The Horsepool (1995), with it being followed up by Slow Flows The River (1997), both on CD only.

It all came to an end around the turn of the century, and while Douglas turned his attention to new projects and running the Creeping Bent label, Gwen again drifted away, pursuing a career and bringing up a family.

That was, until earlier this year.  Firstly, Last Night From Glasgow, via its re-release arm, Past Night From Glasgow, and with the support of the folk at Marina Records, provided Sugartown with a vinyl release in the shape of Mount Florida, a 12-track compilation bringing together the best of the songs from the two albums.  The promotional blurb for Mount Florida tells you all you need to know:-

Gwen’s vocal performance on the tracks featured on the PNFG album are sad and soulful, channelling the melancholia of Bobbie Gentry and Dusty in Memphis. The 12 songs on the album are down-tempo and resigned, as Gwen’s voice imbues a tenderness for the wee small hours.

mp3: Sugartown – There Was A Time (from Swimming In The Horsepool, 1995)
mp3: Sugartown – I Won’t Let You Go Again (from Slow Flows The River, 1997)

Mount Florida, along with a lot of other great records are available from Last Night From Glasgow.  You should have a think about taking out a membership and getting yourself some great deals.  Click here for info.

Oh, and Douglas MacIntyre was also a co-author of Hungry Beat, one of the best music books to have been published over the past twelve months.  I’m actually intending, in 2023, to offer up with a few more book reviews for TVV, and if anyone fancies offering any sort of guest posting, they would be very welcome.

JC

EVERYBODY NEEDS A BOSOM FOR A PILLOW

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Another one of those…..’god almighty, where has the time gone?’ moments.

It’s been more than 25 years since Brimful of Asha was released.  It was the twelfth single/EP from Cornershop in what had been am occasionally critically acclaimed if commercially-successful free career that had begun some four years earlier.

It was Jacques the Kipper who introduced me to the band thanks to him including songs of theirs on compilation tapes.  I first heard Brimful of Asha when it was played on Radio 1 of an evening….most likely by Jo Whiley or Steve Lamacq on the Evening Session show.  I was taken immediately by its catchy chorus over what sounded suspiciously like a Jonathan Richman tune (OK….a Velvet Underground tune!!) and went out to track it down the following day.  It was available across two separate CDs, with a deal available if both were bought together.  My purchase may have helped the song propel Cornershop into the lower echelons of the charts for the first ever time, as the single reached #60 at the end of August 1997.

CD1

mp3: Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (short version)
mp3: Cornershop – Easy Winners (part one)
mp3: Cornershop – Rehoused
mp3: Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Sofa Surfers Solid State Radio Mix)

CD2

mp3: Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (album version)
mp3: Cornershop – Easy Winners (part two)
mp3: Cornershop – Counteraction
mp3: Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Mucho Macho Bolan Boogie Mix)

For those not aware, the song is a tribute to Asha Bhosle, one of the most popular and influential singers in Hindi cinema who is reckoned to have recorded more than 12,000 songs in her career.  Her task was usually to act as the playback singer for the actress who was actually lip-syncing as the cameras rolled.  Two other very famous playback singers – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi – also get name checked in the lyric.

Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) must have heard the Mucho Macho Bolan Boogie Mix and had a lightbulb moment, as it led to him approaching Cornershop with the suggestion of giving the remix treatment to Brimful of Asha by speeding it up and changing it slightly to a higher key.

The remix was released six months after the original version.  It entered the charts at #1. To be fair to all involved, anyone buying the CD single would have found the previously released ‘short’ version of the song as its opening track, with two versions of the remix being the second and fourth offerings:-

mp3: Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook Remix Single Version)

mp3: Cornershop – Brimful of Asha (Norman Cook Remix Extended Version)

Sandwiched in-between was around 110 seconds of electronic noise:-

mp3: Cornershop – U47’s

The fact that Sleep On The Left Side, the follow-up 45 to the remix, reached #23 in May 1998 means that the one-hit-wonder label cannot really be attached to Cornershop, but it’s fair to say that the vast majority of people will know nothing beyond the remix.  Which is a shame, as they have made a lot of great music over the years.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #326: KING CREOSOTE

A GUEST POSTING by CHARITY CHIC

KC Elgol

K.C Rules OK

I find it hard to believe that in the long and eclectic list of ICAs that no-one has offered up one by the great King Creosote.

From a traditional Scottish country dance band background East Neuk of Fife resident Kenny Anderson has had a prolific career recording under the nom de plume King Creosote.

He started the now legendary Fence label in 1998 initially to release his own music burnt onto CDRs (anyone remember them?)

This led to the Fence Movement where he was joined by and released music from the likes of The Beta Band and James Yorkston.

For more information and a terrific read can I recommend Vic Galloway‘s book the brilliantly titled Songs in the Key of Fife – The Intertwining stories of The Beta Band, King Creosote, KT Tunstall,James Yorkston and the Fence Collective.

All of this was sadly before he first crossed my radar. It would be approximately 10 years later before I began to pick up his releases and looked to acquire stuff from his back catalogue. If anyone has stuff from his early Fence years, a follow up ICA would be very welcome.

After that rather lengthy preamble, let’s get to the music selections.

Side 1

Something to Believe In – from the album From Scotland with Love on Domino, 2014

KC (as I will use from now on in) was commissioned to write the music to accompany the documentary of the same name directed by Virginia Heath which was commissioned as part of the cultural festival accompanying the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It quickly became his best selling album to date and on a number of occasions it has been played live in its entirety. I saw it performed in a very eerie Royal Concert Hall on 12th March a couple of days before lockdown in 2020.

Sometime to Believe In is the opening track full of hope and optimism. I posted it on the day of the 2014 Scottish Referendum.

Not One Bit Ashamed – from KC Rules OK on Names/679 , 2006

I think that this may well have been the first of his records that I bought (cheaply from Fopp). Again the opening track and again another statement of intent.

A Month of Firsts – from Rocket D.I.Y on Fence 2005

The only thing I have of his on Fence, albeit it was a charity shop acquisition from Spring 2021. I can’t remember where, and have since started to keep a note of where I buy them. This one was certainly a bit of a find.

There’s None of That – from Bombshell on Names/679 , 2007

My first charity find from the great man from BRICC in Ballantrae.

The Guardian did a track by track review saying of this track

0.25 Back to sweetness now, with a lovely finger-picky guitar line. “You know when hands touch/And there’s that spark of electrical something or other?” I do! What a softie.

0.28 “Well, there’s none of that.” The devil!

Bats in the Attic – from Diamond Mine (EP), Domino 2011

Bats in the Attic was an EP with KC accompanied by electronica musician Jon Hopkins with JH’s field recordings accompanying KC’s songs inspired by the East Neuk of Fife. A Mercury Prize nomination, it was the first I bought when it came out.

Side 2

You Just Want from Astronaut Meets Appleman , Domino 2016

His first record since From Scotland with Love and as far as I am aware his most recent new release. He is certainly less prolific than he was in his early years. An album I find a bit patchy with this, the opening track, being the pick of the bunch.

Leaf Piece – from From Scotland with Love

I could have chosen anything from the album for its second contribution, as they are all of a very high standard. I went for this one primarily because in contains the lines

For now my tongue is held

And my wheesht is haud

If you know, you know

You’ve No Clue Do You – from Bombshell

“the new single – and what a chug-along monster it is, full of crunchy drums, deft puns, and some nice Cluedo banter “ The Guardian

My Favourite Girl – from KC Rules OK

The second offering from KC Rules OK narrowly pushing out Marguerita Red

A lovely song for his daughter. The Earlies provide musical accompaniment

Nothing Compares to You

The only non album track.  Better than Prince‘s original, but is it better than Sinead O’Connor‘s version?

The jury is out

Charity Chic

YOU CAN’T WIN OVER EVERYONE

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The 1999 release of A Secret History….The Best Of The Divine Comedy included a couple of previously unreleased songs, one of which was this rather exquisite number:-

mp3: The Divine Comedy – Gin Soaked Boy

It’s a song in which almost every line starts off with ‘I’m the….’.  In my book, it’s a ridiculously clever lyric with a lot of humour, that turns quite surreal near the very end with the reference to the actor Jeff Goldblum.

But there are some who thought it was all a bit pretentious.  David Stubbs, for instance, who penned a rather vitriolic review in the NME:-

“Drat it and fish hooks,” thought Hannon as he scurried across Main Quad towards the Junior Dorm. “I’ve made an awful bish of this pop lark. A beastly rotten bish.”

His sandals crunching on the gravel, he was just a blur of clever reference points at waist height as he whizzed past the RSM’s dog, Monster. He thought of the awful ragging he’d got from the younger boys after prep when they’d heard the ‘National Express’ single. He wouldn’t pick up crumpets like that any more, that was for jolly certain.

“Glad rags on as per Matron’s recco?” he thought. “Rather! Slightly glummo fizzog on one, rather like old Eggy Duggan’s after his Mater rescinded his Railway Modeller subscription? Rather, rather! Lots of whizzo prank lyrics like, ”I’m the goodness in the bad/I’m the saneness in the mad”? Sound a bit like James?

Oh. Maybe they’d hate this single, too. He suddenly felt another terrible biffing coming on.

By the time a ‘Best Of’ album was in the pipeline, the NME had long gone past the stage of actually caring about The Divine Comedy, despite the fact the paper had championed Neil Hannon back in the days when he was an unknown.  I don’t suppose the NME readership was actually the target market for the album or the single.

Gin Soaked Boy was actually something of a flop in that it only got to #38, in November 1999, but then again the purpose of its release was only to give a second stimulus to the album which had entered at #3 in the week of its release some three months earlier.

JC

BREAKING IT ALL DOWN : GANGSTER TRIPPIN’

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It was back in June 2020 that I had a think about launching a new series, but it came to nothing, mainly as I found it to be too much hard work.  The idea was to breakdown a hit song to shine a light on the various samples it contained.  I started the series with Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim.  I ended the series with Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim.

But, guess what, I’m going to resurrect it, strictly as a one-off, with a look at a different Fatboy Slim single.

Gangster Trippin’ reached #3 in the UK singles charts in October 1998.

mp3: Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’

The follow-up to The Rockafeller Skank, it was released two weeks in advance of the album You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby.  It was, without question, the golden age for Fatboy Slim, with the album reckoned to have shipped 5 million units worldwide while spending almost two years in the UK charts.

I’ll pick up now from wiki:-

The song contains samples from “Entropy” by DJ Shadow, “Word Play” and “The Turntablist Anthem” by the X-Ecutioners, “Beatbox Wash” by the Dust Junkys (this track contains the song’s chorus line), “Change the Mood” by Jackie Mittoo, “Sissy Walk” by Freedom Now Brothers, and “You Did It” by Ann Robinson.

The recognizable “We gotta kick that gangsta shit” sample comes from the first recorded live performance by jazz rap duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth (sampled by DJ Shadow on “Entropy”). In the radio cut, it was re-edited for censorship purposes.

In 2013, Nicky Lockett (aka MC Tunes) of the Dust Junkys won a three-year court case to recover unpaid royalties for use of his vocals in the main chorus of the song.

And here comes the breakdown.

Entropy dates from 1993. It is seventeen-plus minutes long. It was actually one side of a white-label shared single, with the reverse being Send Them by Asia Born, issued by Solesides, an underground hip label based in California.  Entropy is credited in full to DJ Shadow and The Groove Diggers, and consists of seven sections, all of which merge into one another to create, according to all music,  “one continuous track moving from upbeat deck-work and bin-shuddering beats through thick, downtempo head music.”

mp3: DJ Shadow and The Groove Diggers – Entropy

The sample taken by Fatboy Slim comes, initially at just after the four and a half minutes mark.  But, as noted above, DJ Shadow was himself sampling Pete Rock & CL Smooth.

Given that The X-Ecutioners were also sampled on Weapon of Choice, I’ll simply repeat that they are New York-based hip hop DJs/turntablists. Both Word Play and The Turntablist Anthem appear on their debut album, X-Pressions that was released in 1997.

mp3: The X-Ecutioners – Word Play
mp3: The X-Ecutioners – The Turntablist Anthem

Beatbox Wash was actually a b-side on the Dust Junky’s 1997 single, Living In The Pocket Of A Drug Queen.  I’ve long had a copy of their one and only album, Done and Dusted, picked up on a whim one day after hearing that Shawn Ryder was a fan.  I think I listened to it once and then filed it away. 

mp3: Dust Junkys – Beatbox Wash

Change The Mood dates from 1978.  Jackie Mittoo, (born as Donat Roy Mittoo), was a Jamaican-born musician who emigrated to Canada in the mid-70s where he became a major part of the reggae scene in Toronto.  In later years he would work with a number of UK reggae acts including Sugar Minott, Musical Youth and UB40.  He also co-wrote, Armagideon Time, a song famously covered by The Clash as the b-side to London Calling. Jackie sadly died of cancer in 1990 at the young age of 42.

mp3: Jackie Mittoo – Change The Mood

Sissy Walk is a funky instrumental single released in 1969 by Freedom Now Brothers.  If Discogs is correct, it was their one and only single.

mp3: Freedom Now Brothers – Sissy Walk

The same funky horn sound can also be heard on another 1969 single:-

mp3: Ann Robinson – You Did It

Both singles came out on the Philadelphia-based label, All Brothers. As it turns out, You Did It was released first, with its backing track then forming a later 45.  One of the website devoted to Philly soul advises that Ann Robinson released just three singles in her career.  I’m afraid I can’t offer up any more info.

JC

THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT

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Thanks to me being away on holiday, it has taken a wee while to get to bring this to your attention, and indeed it may not be much news to those of you who are discerning when it comes to a love of music.

This time last year, I had a short series about ideas for Christmas gifts, with one of my suggestions being Live At The Rum Puncheon, the debut album from Swansea Sound, an indie supergroup (of sorts) given that its members consist of Hue Williams, Amelia Fletcher, Ian Button and Rob Pursey.  

I make no apologies for suggesting their new single will make the perfect Christmas gift in 2022.

It is called Music Lover.  It is actually part of a three-track CD which comes inside a specially designed Christmas Card. The track itself isn’t very Christmassy, being two-and-half minutes of indie punk pop, but it is surely the first song written entirely in ‘tribute’ to Daniel Ek, the billionaire founder and CEO of Spotify.  The promo video also includes guest appearances from some of Ek’s ridiculously rich friends, such as Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.

The Christmassy stuff does come courtesy of the other two songs on the CD, both of which were made available on a limited edition 7″ white vinyl single last year.

Happy Christmas To Me has been described by one proper music writer/critic as ‘the Christmas song the Buzzcocks would have written’.  Oh, and it also found Swansea Sound wishing all the best for the festive season to Mr Ek and his pals.

mp3: Swansea Sound – Happy Christmas To Me

The other track is a cover version of Merry Christmas Darlings, the opening song on Christmas Christmas, an album released by Cheap Trick in 2017.  As you might expect, it’s not a straightforward cover, with part of the song being given over to the members of Swansea Sound playing the roles of the four billionaires as they jovially and festively exchange corporate mission statements with each other.

The Music Lover EP was actually released on 1 December, in the CD/Christmas Card format, on Bandcamp only.  It costs £6.  The card can be signed by the band or left blank, depending on your preferences.  Being a fanboy, I’ve gone for the signed version!  Click here to join in with the fun. 

JC