The series has reached 1999, and if I now begin to appear a little unsure of myself, then it’s all down to the fact that I’ve only just got familiar with the songs as part of the idea to do this series as I didn’t buy any of the singles or the next album at the time.   Indeed, after 1997,  not too many Pet Shop Boys songs were picked up at the time of release.


Two years after the Savoy Theatre residency and the release of the Noel Coward cover version, Pet Shop Boys came back with a single of their own,

mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More

Released on 19 July 1999, it went straight into the charts at #15.   But, unlike so many of their other brand-new singles from the previous years, this one immediately plummeted right back out of the charts, dropping to #38 and then #57 before disappearing altogether.   In fact, this was the pattern that would be repeated with every subsequent PSB single thereafter, with fans buying the CD/vinyl/download within the first days of it being available, thus delivering a more than decent first-week chart position which would prove to be its peak.

As tunes go, it’s nothing terribly special.  I’d never accuse PSB of being boring (see what I did there?), but this is one which doesn’t have much in the earworm stakes.  Having said that, it borders on genius that the lines in all the verses seem to consist solely of questions.

2 x CDs and a cassette version were in the shops, along with a 12″ maxi single.  The vinyl offered 40 minutes worth of mixes of the single across six different versions.  CD1 had the single, two new tracks and the promo video, while CD2 had two remixes plus a cover version.


mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – Silver Age
mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – Screaming

Silver Age is a slow, almost ponderous number that took a few listens to grow on me.  The fact I came to it in 2023 rather than 1999 might have something to do with it…..I spent ages trying to recall what it reminded me of, rather than taking it on its own merits.  Oh, and in the end I kept thinking of Portishead but with the hip-hop elements all removed.

Screaming also starts off in a ponderous manner. Until the 18-second mark.  Turns out that it had originally been released at the end of 1998 on Psycho: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture, a CD tie-in with the Gus Van Sant remake of the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece. As b-sides go, it’s good fun.


mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – Je t’aime… moi non plus

The thing is, although made available on CD2, it isn’t really a Pet Shop Boys recording.

It was originally included on a September 1998 release called We Love You, a collaboration involving modern artists and musicians.  It comprised a book of 118 pages and a CD with 18 songs.  PSB teamed up with Sam Taylor-Wood for a bonkers take on the infamous Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg duet, with the artist taking the female vocal role while the male vocal is computerised, but most likely Chris Lowe having a bit of fun.   Make of it what you will. I think it’s a load of nonsense, albeit it occasionally threatens to break into the sort of tune Air were releasing around the same time.


The next single came out on 27 September 1999.

mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – New York City Boy

Was this written as a sort of ‘thank you’ to Village People for Go West?  It’s certainly a real throwback to disco sounds of the late 70s.

It did marginally better than the previous single in that it reached #14.

Again, there were 2 x CDs, cassette, and a 12″ maxi single.  Once again, the vinyl offered 40 minutes worth of mixes of the single, but this time across five different versions.  CD1 had the single, one new track, one remix and the promo video, while CD2 had the single, one other new track, one different remix and some video footage of a solar eclipse, the reason for which I’ll get to shortly.


mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – The Ghost of Myself

Once again, I find myself really enjoying a PSB b-side.   This is a track that wouldn’t have been out of place among the material released across the earliest of the albums. As I said, this is the era that has taken me almost quarter-of-a century to catch up with, and this is one of the few songs from the period that I regret taking so long to pick up on.


mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – Casting A Shadow

On the morning of 11th August 1999, part of south-west England gets to experience the first total solar eclipse over the British mainland for over 70 years. BBC Radio 1 marks the occasion with a live show from Cornwall at which the Pet Shop Boys perform.  The duo have written a new instrumental for performance to be broadcast during the actual eclipse itself. Said instrumental, which goes through a number of tempo changes (and which at its fastest, certainly owes a debt to Giorgio Moroder), appears as the extra track on CD2 of the next single.


The fact that the previous two singles hadn’t really set any heather on fire is perhaps one explanation as to why it took until 3 January 2000 before the release of the next one.

In the interim, the duo’s seventh studio album, Nightlife, had been released on 8 October 1999.  The artwork around the album was a continuation of what had been used on its preview singles, and quite a number of critics took the opportunity to ridicule the new look.  And, if we are being honest, it wasn’t a style which was well received by many fans.

The album was supported by a world tour called Dreamworld that got underway in Miami on 20 October and would continue through to 12 February with a show in Mannheim.  The calling points were America, Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and France. The costumes and wigs were elaborate and were often more commented on in reviews than the actual music. 

Tours are normally very good at giving life to new records, but Nightlife, certainly in comparison to the previous albums, sold in disappointing numbers.  It entered the charts at #7, the first time a PSB album had missed the Top 5.   Within two weeks, it was outside the Top 75 and destined before too long for the bargain bins. 

The January 2000 single was lifted from Nightlife

mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk

It’s a fine song, albeit it doesn’t quite live up to its majestic title.  It’s also still part of the current set lists, albeit in an unplugged version with Neil Tennant strumming away on an acoustic guitar.  It actually works really well.

The best-performing of the three singles from Nightlife in that it reached #8, but that was possibly to do with the timing of its release in the first week of a new year when there are less new singles competing for attention and sales.

This time round, the cassette was dropped in favour of  3 x CDs, and a 12″ single. The vinyl had four remixes of the single, offering up more than 33 minutes worth of music.  CD1 had the single, two previously unreleased songs and the video.


mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – Lies
mp3:  Pet Shop Boys – Sail Away

Lies is a club stomper. Chris Lowe is on lead vocal.  Yup, he sings on this one rather than talks his way through it, albeit he’s greatly assisted with the soulful, diva-style backing vocals.   This would not have been out of place on the Club Ibiza type CD compilations that were flooding the market at the turn of the century.  It’s great fun.

Sail Away is a cover of a song written in the 1940s by Noel Coward. It had been included on the 1998 charity album, Twentieth-Century Blues, which had been curated by Neil Tennant and involved modern-day artists, reinterpreting some of Coward’s best know songs, with the profits going to the Red Hot Aids Charitable Trust.

CD2 had three mixes of the single, while CD3 has a live version of ‘You Only Tell Me…’ along with live versions of Always On My Mind and Being Boring.  As such, there’s nothing further to offer from the release.

No more singles were lifted from Nightlife.   The duo remained on tour for much of 2000 and included their first ever Glastonbury performance.  2001 was taken up by  the staging of Closer To Heaven a co-written by the Pet Shop Boys, something they had been working on since 1996.  The show opened in May 2001 and ran until October 2001.  Reviews were, at best, mixed.

The next new PSB recorded material would surface in March 2002.  I’ll hopefully see you next week…..




You’ll all be fed up with me lavishing so much praise on The Twilight Sad over the years that I’m probably just as well to go straight to the music.

mp3: The Twilight Sad – Alphabet (alt version)

Originally appearing on their third studio album, No One Can Ever Know (2012), a live stripped-back version was later recorded for inclusion on N/O/C/E/K, a limited edition of 300 CD EPs that were sold at live shows at smaller venues in Scotland later in the year.

I’ve got #53.


60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #38


Surrender  – The Chemical Brothers (1999)

“A dance album of immense appeal to many people who wouldn’t normally buy anything associated with the genre.  JC aka The Vinyl Villain, January 2019

It’s getting desperate having to quote myself as justification for something!!

But, as I admitted in the same piece, 1999 was a year when I bought a few similar sort of albums, one of which – Beaucoup Fish by Underworld  – has already featured in this rundown.

Surrender on CD proved to be the sort of album that I could play in its entirety and then not return to it for a few years, but when eventually doing so would find myself falling crazily in love with it all over again.

I actually came up with a cunning plan to prevent it being neglected, and that was to ensure it was listened to at least once during a suntan session on a Caribbean beach; like all cunning plans, there was a flaw, although in my defence, I never anticipated COVID putting a temporary stop to such holidays.

Hey Boys, Hey Girls, I was 36 years of age when this album was released.    The later onset of indie nights for old buggers would ensure my dancing days weren’t yet over, but quite clearly I was long past the days of wanting to go clubbing  – not that I ever did much in the first place.  This record therefore wasn’t aimed primarily at the likes of me, but I’m willing to bet that numerous JC clones fell for its many and diverse charms.

Some may have been attracted by the presence of so many top-notch guest contributors, and indeed the fact that a track like Out Of Control featuring Bernard Sumner and Bobby Gillespie would not have felt too far out of place on a New Order or Primal Scream record is another factor to take into consideration.

But when you break it all down, it simply is the fact that Surrender works all the way from start to end, never dropping in quality across its near one-hour duration.  And the slowed down, chilled out numbers just come at the right time for us old fogies who would be breathless and sweaty if actually in a club while it was being aired.

mp3 : The Chemical Brothers – Music: Response

I belatedly bought the 20th Anniversary box set of Surrender last year.  First time I’ve ever had a vinyl copy.  It gets played a lot more than the CD ever did, thanks in part to the great music on the bonus discs.  Highly recommended to everyone…..but remember to play it at such a volume that you can’t hear the doorbell ringing.



aka The Vinyl Villain incorporating Sexy Loser

#015– The Clash – ‚(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ (CBS Records ’78)


Hello friends,

I trust not all have you have carefully read the ‘rules & regulations’ I had set up for myself for this series – I announced them in the first part of it. There were many, but today just one of them is important: “only one single per band”! Why do I mention this? Well, you might – or might not – know that The Clash have always been my favorite band – and by quite some distance even. So, if I hadn’t set this rule up, you could well find yourself having to listen to Clash singles for the next 12 weeks in a row (so, yes, George, I know you will indeed be pleased by this rule!) …

Also, I am a firm believer in this record being the best record in the history of the whole world ever. At least I am today, this could be surpassed tomorrow, of course, but this is rather unlikely.

Now, what does it make so special to me? Funnily enough, I have never been a great fan of reggae, in fact I disliked it intensely when I was younger … I just wouldn’t listen to it, probably because in my young narrow mind it was not ‘punk’ enough. I remember Peel occasionally ridiculing me because of my attitude, and – in hindsight – rightly so, of course. Although, it must be said, even to this day I never managed to share his passion for all this raga-stuff, Admiral Tibet etc. … I just don’t get it, sorry, John!

But I digress. The reggae elements in ‘White Man’ are – undeniably – one beneficial factor: as well musically as regarding their importance for punk music. Blending punk with other genres was unheard of back then by and large, and consequently this tune defined new borders for quite many bands to come.

The lyrics are another factor. I mean, when I was 26, like Strummer was back in 1978, I had only one thing in common with him (apart from not so nice teeth): I had also attended some gigs which disappointed me enormously. But this is where the similarities between us end because I certainly was not able to write a tune like this at this age (nor at any other age, mind you!) just because a gig I saw didn’t meet with my approval.

And this is just the beginning of it all, the way the song builds from his personal disappointment into perhaps the (band’s) most poignant statement about British society ever is just unbelievable … I mean, try to indict power-pop, shoddy reggae, and neo-Nazism in one four-minute span for yourself … and let me know when you’re ready!

‘White Man’ is a song I never get tired of. I trust this applies to a lot of you as well … therefore, it would be neat to hear your opinions, of course!



mp3:  The Clash – (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais



PS: the original single was issued simultaneously in four colour variations: white, yellow, blue and pink. I own them all, but I have them framed on my wall: which either shows you how much I love this record or either what a nerdy fuckwit I am … you decide. So the file today derives from the pink version out of the 19 Singles-Boxset …

JC adds……

I’m with Dirk on this one.   It was #2 in the 45 45s @ 45 series back in 2008, kept off the top spot by Temptation (and no, not the version by Heaven 17)

60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #39


The Great Eastern – The Delgados (2000)

Want to read another historical spectacular fail from the NME?  Here’s how they reviewed this one:-

After two LPs (‘Domestiques’ and ‘Peloton’) named after bicycling terminology, The Delgados have named their third album after a Glasgow dosshouse. Its stern facades keep watch over the inner sleeve, and the inhabitants’ troubled spirits pass like a shiver through the album’s darker tracks.

The group’s ambitions are clearly high. It was recorded in upstate New York by friend of the glockenspiel Dave Fridmann. But while ‘The Great Eastern’ undoubtedly moves, even as it impresses, the album’s grandeur – all swooping cellos, dulcimers, clarinets, flugelhorns, vibraphones – only lays bare The Delgados‘ limitations as unorthodox pop athletes.

You would have imagined that by now, Glasgow’s most comprehensively strung would have learned to let shy tunes like ‘Accused Of Stealing’ unfold of their own accord. Instead, every graceful shoot here is instantly fenced off by woodwind, then locked in a great cat’s cradle of fussy arrangements. Their cause isn’t helped by Emma Pollock and Alun Woodward‘s two-note Swanney whistle melodies, whose very basic charms are no match for the rabid symphonics queuing up to overwhelm them.

With all the flavours on the emotional trolley, The Delgados still can’t get past bittersweet. And for all their enthusiasm for music’s vast palette, their songs all come out in monochrome. Like the institution with which it shares its name, ‘The Great Eastern’ feels haunted by opportunities missed. 6/10

Dearie me.

I do get that music writers will be tasked with reviewing a record by a band or singer they don’t like, but the very least they could do is listen without prejudice.  I also reckon it’s quite cowardly to give The Great Eastern a pass mark when the prose makes it painfully obvious that the writer never wants to hear the album ever again.

The Delgados are (and it feels so good to be writing about them in the present tense again!!) the most important band ever to come out of Scotland, whose legacy is unparalleled.  Five enjoyable studio albums of which this is the masterpiece, and one that, as the live shows a few months back demonstrated, has aged quite spectacularly.

There really shouldn’t be anything else needing to be said.

mp3: The Delgados – Accused of Stealing

Memo to NME : How the fuck did you allow your writer to describe this as a ‘shy tune’.  And don’t get me started on the album allegedly laying bare The Delgados limitations……





The Horrors very nearly blew it.

Some of it wasn’t their fault. The NME (who else?) for instance stuck them on the cover of their magazine before they had even recorded a single note of music. An act which automatically cranked the hype machine up to 100 and made people hate them before they had actually heard them.

The Horrors didn’t help themselves though when they finally release some music. Their first album, 2007’s ‘Strange House’ was an under produced homage to sixties American garage rock if played by privileged teenagers (at least two of the band attended Rugby Public School) who listed to way too many Cramps records. It was preceded by a three-minute garage rock single called ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ that came accompanied by a video in which a woman gave birth to a Squid.

Then there was look, big hair, styled expensively with lots of lacquer, black clothes, mascara, very expensive looking leather jackets, skinny jeans (black obviously). All photos were taken in black and white on a white background. It was like the Psychedelic Furs had been shoved in a Delorean and transported to 2007. Everyone gave the Horrors six months at best, apart from the NME who one more than occasion proclaimed them to be the future of rock and roll. They weren’t quite that, in fact in 2007, they were a bit daft.

However, in 2009 the Horrors returned with ‘Sea Within a Sea’, an eight-minute blast of Krautrock brilliance that revealed a band that had totally transformed and had suddenly developed a knack for making songs with dizzingly fantastic climaxes. Gone was the garage rock sound that seemed obsessed with gothic rock, gone were the shrieking vocals and in from nowhere seemingly was a psychedelic sound that revealed a band who had suddenly discovered a trunk full of Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine and Can records. It was unexpectedly superb and they had ditched some of the black clothing too. In 2009, even the Horrors wouldn’t have recognised the Horrors from 2007, largely because they had ditched the ‘shocked Goth’ look although they did still wear expensive leather jackets.

A few months later, the bands second album, ‘Primary Colours’ landed and it was again superb but this time, thanks to ‘Sea Within a Sea’ people didn’t run away from it, they embraced it. It is full of guitars that swoon, organs that swirl, vocals that croon, drums that crash. There is barely a bad moment, barely a note out of place, it is awesome, and it is only when you’ve stopped pinching yourself do you realise that The Horrors were about to realise their hype.

Since 2009, the Horrors have been one of the most consistently brilliant bands around, they have now released five albums, four of which are excellent, and a bunch of EP’s. This ICA is compiled on the band’s releases between 2009 and 2017. If you are new to the Horrors and want somewhere to start then I recommend ‘Primary Colours, then ‘V’ and then sweep up all the bits in between.

But, until then, let’s start here

Side One

Sea Within A Sea (2009, XL Records, taken from ‘Primary Colours’)

Which as I said earlier is an eight minute Krautrock blast of brilliance that swoops and soars dramatically as wonky keyboards build in the background and as Faris Badwans vocals go all echo-ey and misty eyed it builds into a euphoric climax, courtesy of Geoff Barrow’s sublime production. I say this knowing that it will sound ridiculous but the effect of Barrow on this is almost as important as Weatherall was to ‘Loaded’. It’s bloody great, all of it, every single second of it.

Still Life  (2011, XL Records, taken from ‘Skying’)

The bands third album ‘Skying’ was released in 2011, and its first single was a track called ‘Still Life’. It is a song that is full of hazy dynamism that flirts with dance music and embraces the meatier side of shoegaze and echoes the Cure when they are at their most playful. The faint sprinkle of a brass section fires up before the amps explode with the guitars.

Hologram (2017, Total Wolf Records, 2017, taken from ‘V’)

‘Hologram’ according to the band stared out in life as a 25-minute ambient jam, so thank god that by the time the band finally got round to recording it they had recruited uber producer Paul Epworth, who talked the band down from that idea. Instead of 25 minutes of ambient jamming we now get a twisting stew of electronica, Beefheart style guitars and what sounds like an acid infused 303’s.

Change Your Mind (2014, XL Records, taken from ‘Luminous’)

‘Luminous’ is perhaps the Horrors record that I return to the least. It’s not as nearly perfect as ‘Primary Colours’ and not as joyous sounding as ‘V’ but when it’s good, it’s outstanding. ‘Change Your Mind’ for instance is the one of the stand-out tracks if you ask me. It has an excellent croon from Badwan which appears to be him dithering over doing something stupid (like make another Screaming Lord Sutch tribute album perhaps…?) and some pretty abstract music running through it.

Monica Gems (2011, XL Records, taken from ‘Skying’)

Side one ends with a no nonsense indie glam rock stomper, where Badwan tries to turn himself into Brett Anderson but actually ends up more like Simon Le Bon when he was brilliant (for those in the dark that was for about a week, when ‘Rio’ came out – but what a week it was). ‘Monica Gems’ is all decadent sighs and tuneful moaning and a simply wonderfully sounding guitar swirl.

Side Two

It’s A Good Life (2017, Total Wolf Records, taken from ‘V’)

‘It’s A Good Life’ would essentially be unremarkable if it were not for its subject, that being the late Peaches Geldof, whom Badwan dated. It sees Badwan completely unguarded, fragile and sounding slightly uneasy as he sings “She lay in the dark, but I don’t know who found her,” in a lyric that revisits her untimely and tragic death.

So Now You Know (2014, XL Records, taken from ‘Luminous’)

The band’s fourth album came three years after the third one, and it sees the band adopting a late nineties indie feel, all shimmering guitars, gentle breakbeats and Radiohead style electronica. It also sounds a bit like Simple Minds from their high school movie soundtrack phase, you know, back when they were good and not making pompous records about Steve Biko.

I See You (2014, XL Records, taken from ‘Luminous’)

‘I See You’ was the first taste we all got of the fourth Horrors records, and it sees them back in kind of familiar territory. ‘I See You; is a seven and a half minute dazzle of a track. The sort of track that would sound perfect if you listened to it at midnight by a lake as the full moon shimmered over it.

Who Can Say (2009, XL Records, taken from ‘Primary Colours’)

There is a brilliant moment on ‘Who Can Say’ where the Horrors morph into not one but two 60 girl groups, first, like so many bands before them, they steal the drum line from the RonettesBe My Baby’ and then Badwan does his best Shangri La’s impression with a spoken word section that tell us knowingly “And then I kissed her… with a kiss that could only mean goodbye” before the psychedelic guitars all kicks back in.

Something to Remember Me By (Total Wolf Records, 2017, taken from ‘V’)

The final track on the band’s fifth and so far last album ‘V’ is the marvellous ‘Something to Remember Me By’. This is a glittering seven-minute epic built around a synth that pulses like the best bits of ‘Technique’ era New Order that may just be the best thing that the Horrors have ever done.


JC adds…….

Consider this the first comment on this ICA.

I adore ‘Who Can Say’ – indeed, I’ve a copy on 7″ vinyl that was gifted to me by my pal Drew.  I bought ‘Primary Colours’ on CD but was never taken enough by it to become a dedicated follower of The Horrors and never pursued things afterwards.   Judging by the songs on this excellent ICA, the loss is all mine.  Cheers SWC.  Hugely appreciated.

60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #40


You Had A Kind Face – Butcher Boy (2022)

Re-post alert.   This is from April 2022.

Imaginary Compilation Album #17 was posted in June 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Had A Kind Face consists of twelve songs, with a bonus 7″ single containing the three tracks recorded in 2020.

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

Given all this, it can’t be any surprise that the album has made it into this rundown?

mp3: Butcher Boy – Storm Warning In Effect

Butcher Boy have always made music that is a cut above the ordinary.  All I really want for my 60th birthday is that they play another gig at some point soon.




The singles chart of the final week of April 1983 was slightly less poptastic than the previous month.

Quite a few of those featured last time around were still in the Top 40 – David Bowie (#6), New Order (#23),  JoBoxers (#19), Duran Duran (#27), Big Country (#29), Dexy’s Midnight Runners (#32), Eurythmics (#33) and The Style Council (#36).

The #1 slot was occupied by Spandau Ballet with True, an MOR-ballad that in later years would be revealed had been written a Gary Kemp who was infatuated at the time by Clare Grogan.

The Top 10 was actually a bit ‘meh’, but there were a couple of very decent electronic-pop tunes floating around

mp3: Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination (#4)
mp3: Eurythmics – Love Is A Stranger (#7)

Yup.   The record company had made a quick cash-in . Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) might have fallen to #33 after 11 weeks in the Top 40, but the re-release of an earlier single from November 1982 kept Annie and Dave’s profile very high.

Sitting at #14 was another electro-group, with the song that would eventually climb to #2 and thus provide their biggest hit.

mp3: Heaven 17 – Temptation

Two of the highest new entries are very much worthy of mentions.

mp3: Tears For Fears – Pale Shelter  (#22)
mp3: Fun Boy Three – Our Lips Are Sealed (#31)

I’ve a feeling Tears For Fears snagged themselves a Top of The Pops appearance that week as Pale Shelter went up to #5 the following week, which was where it peaked.  Fun Boy Three took a more leisurely meander up the charts, taking a further three weeks to hit its high spot of #7.

Goth, of sorts, was also in the singles charts this particular week.

mp3: Bauhaus – She’s In Parties (#28)
mp3: The Creatures – Miss The Girl (#37)

She’s In Parties had fallen two places from the previous week with what proved to be Bauhaus‘s biggest hit single that wasn’t a cover.  Miss The Girl would eventually reach #21 and was the first of two hit singles for  The Creatures in 1983.

One final song to highlight this week, for what proved to be a one-hit wonder.

mp3: Kissing The Pink – The Last Film (#24)

Kissing The Pink were a new wave/synth band from London.   They released three albums between 1983 and 1986, with later releases in 1993, 2015 and 2016.  The Last Film was the only time any single troubled the charts and it enjoyed a remarkably long stay that wouldn’t really be possible today.  It had crept into the Top 75 at the end of February 1983, and ten weeks later it got to #19 where it stalled for three successive weeks. It eventually fell out of the Top 75 in mid-June.


60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #41


The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – Shag Times (1989)

I really debated in my head whether this particular release was eligible for the rundown.   It was partly to do with the fact that it was a compilation, but the biggest concern was that it would have been maybe 18 months or so after its release before I picked up a copy, which sort of went against the grain that the album had to have bought at the time of its release to qualify for consideration.  But in the end, I can most certainly live with myself that it’s here.

I’ve mentioned on more than a few occasions that the period from mid 1987-mid 1989 was a time when I drifted away from music due to what was happening in my personal life.  Not only was buying next to nothing, but I no longer had any interest in reading the weekly music papers, and thus was totally out of the loop.  There are a few folk to thank for dragging me out of the tailspin, not least Rachel (Mrs VV) and my dear friend and then work colleague, Jacques The Kipper whose regular diet of C90 cassettes filled in many gaps in my knowledge.

I had missed all the fuss about The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu and the shenanigans around their efforts to make dance music that was based around sampling.  JtK had kept his eye on the ball and some of the JAMMs songs found their way onto the C90s, which looking back on it seems deliciously ironic.

Here’s a contemporary review of the Shag Times compilation, penned by Mat Snow for Q Magazine in February 1989:-

The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu are King Boy D. (Bill Drummond, doyen of the Liverpool scene that spawned the Bunnymen, Teardrop etc) and Rockman Rock (formerly of Brilliant), and Shag Times would be their greatest hits if the full force of the law hadn’t already decided they probably belonged to the original artists.

Indeed, the track Don’t Take Five (Take What You Want) last saw action on the album 1987 (What The Fuck’s Goin On?), so swiftly suppressed by the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society that rare copies now change hands at silly prices. Indeed, the queue of artists whose most memorable moments have been glued onto a beatbox backing-track stretches all the way back to the 19th century.

Apart from the usual sources-AC/DC, James Brown-this album of already released numbers (plus a remix companion disc) creates some unlikely bedfellows. Wagner and Pet Clarke? Jimi Hendrix and Dave Brubeck? Whitney Houston and so on, ad absurdum. Though hardly new as a technique-Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five’s Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel kicked off the ’80s with a bricolage of Queen, Blondie and Chic-JAMMs’ buccaneering attitude to the laws of creative ownership helped re-open the whole debate and, what often seems neglected in the furore, made a sequence of very amusing juxtapositions, of which The Timelords ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis (included here) is the tamest.

A great party album.

The review gives an indication that the furore around the JAMMs made it difficult to pick up any of their releases.  It was mid-1990 when I finally saw a second-hand copy in an Edinburgh shop, which I grabbed with indecent haste.  I think I paid £7 for it.

mp3: The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – Candyman

The other great thing about the CD was that it came with an 8-page booklet containing various articles about the band that had appeared in the UK music press from March 1987 to April 1988, which was a huge help in me further filling in the gaps in my knowledge.

Oh, and in doing a bit of research for this post, I had a look at Discogs.  £85 is the asking price in the UK for a copy of this CD.  Utter madness.


60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #42


Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys (2006)

I was 42 years of age when I first encountered Arctic Monkeys.  They made me wish I was 18 again.

Every group of young music fans will take ‘ownership’ of a new/emerging band and claim them to be the greatest ever in the history of rock and roll.  Those of us who have been through that phase of our lives will often just look on, nod quietly, and indulge the kids.  They are usually wrong.

Arctic Monkeys, certainly to this wizened and gnarled veteran, felt different.  It wasn’t anything to do with the fact they were emerging from a whole new arena, something called social media where fans excitedly shared music files for free, always with the band’s blessing.  It was all down to the fact that this group of working-class musicians made infectiously catchy guitar-led music, fused with lyrics that defied belief, given they were the work of a teenager. Not only that, but it was very much a throwback to my own golden era of the late 70s and early 80s, and I really wanted to have the youth, vigour and energy to be able to enjoy it to the full.

One of the reasons that the debut album has made this rundown is the fact that it hasn’t really grown old.  Yes, Alex Turner and his bandmates have certainly moved on, and their music has matured with them.  But the stories and subject matters contained with ‘Whatever People Say I Am….’ are every bit as relevant and meaningful to today’s teenage daydreamers. And then there’s this:-

mp3: Arctic Monkeys – When The Sun Goes Down

The tale of prostitution on the streets of Sheffield, as observed by a bystander who turns down an approach and then sees the woman get into a car driven by, in the narrator’s own words, a scumbag.  Whether this man is the pimp or a creepy client is never made expressed, but the accompanying video, which starred the now very famous Stephen Graham (forever referred to as Scummy Man in Villain Towers) makes it clear he is a bullying, controlling and thoroughly unlikeable pimp.

Not only is it an astonishing lyric written by someone so young, but it comes with a tune that moves from the melancholy/resigned to pounding stomper and then back again.

I could just as easily have highlighted many other great songs on the album. The one about a taxi ride after a night out; or the thrill of being dazzled by the looks of the girls in the dancehall; the tale of the bored teenagers being harassed by equally bored police officers; or the way it is so difficult to communicate with your other half when you’ve fallen out over something really trivial.

I was 42 years of age when I first encountered Arctic Monkeys.  There’s just a touch of serendipity that this album is #42 in the rundown.




What follows is likely to be the longest single posting in the series……but that’s as much down to contemporary review being part it.  Thanks in advance for reading.

September 1996, the new album Bilingual is released. There’s a familiarity with a couple of its tracks thanks to them previously being released as singles, but everything else is brand new.  

I think this is the watershed moment in the history of PSB.  Having emerged and enjoyed initial success as a synth-pop duo, they had, with each passing year, sought to expand their horizons and incorporate all sorts of new sounds and influences.  The new album was a quantum leap in that regard.

There had been previous examples of their love for the music of Latin America, but this went to whole new levels in terms of rhythm and language.  It wasn’t univerally welcomed, as can be seen from some lukewarm reviews from bemused critics, while its sales and chart position were both less than previous efforts.  Bilingual was the first PSB album not to go Top 3.


Not only had the album not reached the Top 3, but it very quickly plunged down the charts out of the Top 100.  In time-honoured fashion, the releases of a new single was seen as a way to boost things.  

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Single-Bilingual

The second track on the album was Single, but when it came to issuing it along those line on 11 November 1996, it was called Single-Bilingual.  The reason given was that Everything But The Girl had, just a month previously, released a single called Single, and it was all about avoiding confusion.  Given how long it takes to clear artwork etc. for any release, I’m not convinced this was really the case, and giving such a new title did, of course, work in the name of the latest album.

This one takes the energy and beat of Se a vida é and cranks it up a few notches.   It was one of the highlights of last years’ live show, especially from the way it effortlessly segued into Se a vida é, but it wasn’t well-received at the time of its release, only going at #14 and disappearing altogether after three weeks.  Nor did it do much to alter the fortunes of its parent album.

The usual practice was followed of having  2 x CDs and cassette versions up for sale, but there weren’t quite as many remixes around, possibly as there was a limit on what you could do with Single-Bilingual without completely destroying the song’s very fabric. Instead, the album’s opening track, Discoteca, was given the remix treatments and made available widely on the two CDs.  There was only one completely new song, placed at Track 3 on CD1.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – The Calm Before The Storm

This is a lovely and understated number, lasting less than three minutes.  It seems it was recorded, almost as live, in the studio and on the face of it seems to be from the perspective of someone who is anticipating a sad or indeed update. I read somewhere that the lyric was written by Neil shortly after Bilingual had been readied for release in the expectancy that it would be something of a flop in comparison to previous albums, but I’m not sure if that’s a truth or urban predict about Pet Shop Boys was they were unpredictable, as evidenced by the next single.


The fourth song to be lifted as a single from Bilingual was a really odd one. Released on 17 March 1997,  A Red Letter Day was quite different from the album version, with a lot of the noise and clutter removed, as well as it being substantially remixed.

As with Go West from a few years back, there’s a reliance on the involvement of a choir, but this time it’s the Choral Academy of Moscow and only in the opening few seconds.   It very quickly settles into the sort of tune that had given so much success to PSB over the years, which maybe was a signal that the more experimental nature of recent singles was coming  to an end.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – A Red Letter Day

It sort of worked in that the single went Top 10 but only for one week, while the sales of the parent album weren’t impacted at all.  It was almost as if the new ‘product’ was only of interest to the fanbase and not the wider public.

Again, there were 2 x CDs and a cassette, although a close look at the sticker on CD1 (as illustrated above) reads ‘To complete set – also available REMIX CD -includes over 35 minutes of remixes by Motiv 8, Trouser Enthusiasts and Basement Jaxx.  Plus 12″ red vinyl’

CD2 was the remix CD, while CD1 had two new songs.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – The Boy Who Couldn’t Keep His Clothes On
mp3: Pet Shop Boys –  Delusions of Grandeur

The former is what most folk would call a PSB classic.  More than six minutes in length, complete with prominent keyboards, house-beat and synthetic horns and strings thrown into the mix.   It’s certainly one that it could be argued was wasted as a b-side… even has that cheeky, irrelevant sounding repetitive chorus that sounds tailor-made for radio.  OK, for a single, it would likely have needed edited down, but as we’ve seen from past hits, this wouldn’t have been a problem.

The latter opens up with notes that remind me of ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ by The Smiths.  But after ten seconds, the synthetic horns kick in……..and it goes to the most unexpected of places.   It’s one of those frantic, almost million-miles-an-hour tunes that are guaranteed to work up an immediate sweat in the clubs, set to a lyric in which Neil Tennant seems to be fantasising that he is becoming the new Pope……

It is bonkers and it is absolutely brilliant.  It also means that CD1 of Red Letter Day is one of my favourite PSB releases of them all.


In June 1997, PSB again do something out of the ordinary.  It’s not an event I can remember, but then again, I don’t always pay attention when it’s not centred around Glasgow.

Here’s a review as written by Anthony Thornton for The Independent newspaper on 8 June:-

Try walking into a record company to sell them the idea of two average-looking blokes on stage wearing shapeless Communist-style clothes, with the baseball- hatted one standing motionless behind an ancient keyboard and the balding one singing in a monotone, and you’ll discover at first hand how efficient their security staff are.

The Pet Shop Boys have somehow avoided forceful ejection from pop heaven for 12 years now. Until 21 June the pop ironists are nestled in the Savoy Theatre, London, playing a series of concerts entitled “Somewhere”. They are the first band to play a residency at a West End theatre, but it’s hardly surprising because they have always been more at home with Coward and Wilde than Hendrix and Clapton and their songs have always sounded like they belong in an unwritten musical.

Ironically (what else could it be?) the theatrical setting sees them at their least theatrical. The atmosphere is far more intimate than previous shows; the absence of huge choreographed antics and massive costume changes probably makes this the nearest thing the Pet Shop Boys will get to an unplugged concert.

Initially they play lots of B-sides, as if a serious setting requires serious work from the audience. Then, just as everyone’s gearing themselves up for a dance as they play “Go West”, they tip straight into the interval. The interval? We wanted to dance. This theatre thing must have gone to the Boys head.

After the interval normal service is resumed. They play “It’s a Sin” mixed up in a disco cocktail with “I Will Survive”. Neil Tennant tells us it’s all right to dance. So we jive in our seats. And we notice Chris Lowe has slipped a bit of drum ‘n’ bass into the mid section. Albeit quietly, Sylvia Mason James belts out the “I will survive” and Neil’s monotone duets with her powerful wail. A mistake he probably won’t make again.

Their forthcoming single, “Somewhere”, a cover of the West Side Story song, is all disco beats, orchestral strings and epic arrangements which manage to sound even bigger than the epic disco of “Go West”.

Despite all this faceless anti-pop star treatment and bright arrangements, Neil is equally capable of singing from his heart: for every meaningless “Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat” there’s the tragedy and Wildean wit of “Whatever fatal points they scored, I have never been ignored”.

This tenderness reaches its peak during the encore, when Neil appears with an unwieldy acoustic guitar. He gently strums his way through a tender version of “Rent”. It works so perfectly, you wonder why they haven’t done it before.

It’s the contradictions: disposable beats and intimate clever lyrics that make the Pet Shop Boys appealing. Their self-conscious anti-rock stance is an antidote to whoever happens to be mistreating an electric guitar elsewhere in the charts. And thankfully, Chris standing behind the same Roland synthesizer pretending to produce all these sounds live is still the funniest running gag in showbiz.

The forthcoming single referenced in the above review was released on 23 June, immediately at the end of the residency.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Somewhere

West Side Story music set to a disco and club beat…….it might have reached #9 in the singles chart, but it doesn’t do much for me.  But it sounds as if the duo had great fun putting it all together.

The usual 2 x CDs and cassette singles were on offer.  Unlike most of the previous times with the CD singles, both would need to be purchased to pick up what woule previously have been refered to as b-sides.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – The View From Your Balcony

The sort of slow-paced and reflective number of which PSB were increasingly becoming fond of recording….and I don’t mean that as any criticism.  This one has a very straight-forward and unambigious lyric that has clearly been inspired by Neil looking out over London from a high-rise flat, in a location that was once edgy but is part of the increasing gentrification of the city.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Disco Potential

There’s a lot of noise on this one.  It’s from 1997.  That was the same year that U2 had a #1 hit with Discotheque, with which they had been accused by some of jumping on the dance bandwagon as a way to try and stay relevant.  I’m wondering if this is Neil and Chris having a bit of gentle fun at the expense of Bono et al?  It’s certainly not one of their most essential b-sides……

The next two years proved to quiet in terms of new material.  It’ll be 1999 before you know it.




Prior to getting this ‘Saturday’s Scottish Song’ series underway, I had previously pulled together an almost as equally long-running ‘Saturday’s Scottish Single’ series.  Part 114 appeared in October 2014 and looked at TV21.  Here’s a repeat.

TV21 formed in 1979 in Edinburgh, comprising Ally Palmer (vocals/guitar), Norman Rodgers (guitar/vocals), Neal Baldwin (bass), Dave Hampton (trumpet) and Ian Greig (drums).

Two singles in 1980 were released on their own Powbeat label, at which point Ian Greig was replaced by former Rezillos drummer Ali Paterson. After a further one-off single in early 1981 with Demon Records, the band were signed to Deram (which was part of the multinational Decca Records conglomerate) with many comparing their material to The Teardrop Explodes (a very lazy comparison based almost solely on the fact that Reward, with its prominent trumpet part, had been a smash single).

There were great hopes for TV21 and the band were teamed up with a then unknown but much thought of producer in Ian Broudie. The first of the material to emerge from this collaboration was Snakes and Ladders, a single released in May 1981, while its b-side, Artistic License, was produced by James Honeyman-Scott and Martin Chambers of The Pretenders. The single also came with a bonus 7″ single which was co-produced by the band and Troy Tate, who of course was once part of the afore-mentioned Teardrop Explodes.

Despite so many well-kent faces working with the band, the single failed to register with the general public, as indeed was the case with its follow-up Something’s Wrong in October 1981 and the debut LP A Thin Red Line released the following month.

A change of producer followed, but the March 1982 release of All Join Hands also flopped. Later that year TV21 opened for The Rolling Stones when the latter had a mini-tour of smaller venues across Scotland (including the Glasgow Apollo where I had got myself a ticket) but instead of building on any new fans picked up from such exposure, the band broke up almost immediately after the tour was completed.

23 years later, and totally out of the blue, TV21 reformed since when they have gigged a fair bit and also recorded and released new material, including the LP Forever 22 in 2009 once again on Powbeat Records (29 years after that last release on that very label!!!)

One of their biggest fans is Mike from Manic Pop Thrills. If you click on this link you can more or less get the full story of the band since they got back together.

mp3: TV21 – Snakes and Ladders


60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #43


Into The Woods – Malcolm Middleton(2005)

It can’t really be too much of a surprise that there’s more than a fair representation of singers and bands from Scotland appearing in this rundown.  And we haven’t got down to the really obvious ones yet……….

I know Malcolm Middleton isn’t to everyone’s tastes.  I’ve tried, but to almost no avail, many times over the years on TVV to try and persuade you all that he is a first-rate entertainer. An ICA in September 2019 attracted three comments…..while a previous review of Into The Woods in June 2017 was met with near indifference, other than JTFL offering up his view that there were some nice tunes.

Feel free to ignore today and come back tomorrow to #42 in the rundown.  Given I’m expecting little interest, you’ll forgive me if I do a slightly remixed version of what was said in 2017.

“When it was revealed, back in 2002, that the instrumentalist half of Arab Strap was going down the solo record route, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in dreading the outcome.

The band’s LPs hadn’t ever really given any indication that the guitarist was a frustrated frontman, and my initial thoughts that this was his record label Chemikal Underground just saying yes to a vanity project. I’ve rarely been so wrong in my entire life, as a run of consistently entertaining solo records has established Malcolm Middleton as one of the most talented singer-songwriters Scotland has ever produced.

His debut, the bizarrely titled 5:14 Fluxotine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine, is a heartbreaking but engrossing listen filled with songs dealing largely with depression and self-pity from the failure of a relationship, with a distinctly Scottish vocal that at times seemed fragile and uncertain which left most listeners feeling that Malky really wasn’t the most comfortable or confident of solo performers. So what followed three years later was confounding and brilliant in equal measures.

Into The Woods was a complete revelation, filled with the most part with incredibly upbeat and joyous tunes bordering on anthemic. And if you don’t want to sing along to the radio-friendly catchy choruses, then you’ll surely be tempted out of your seat at the indie-disco to shake your stuff.

But then when you listen closely to the words, you’ll spot that Malky’s take on life hasn’t changed all that much from 5:14 over the intervening three years – he’s still racked with insecurities and  self-doubt, and he’s worried beyond belief. Even when something good comes into his life, all he can think about is how inevitably it will all go wrong at some point in the near future…arguably the living embodiment of a Morrissey lyric…..

Opening track Break My Heart sets the tone for much of what follows.

Malky has again fallen in love and this is a good thing.

Or is it?

After all, it’s only a matter of time before the relationship ends and he’ll be in pieces. But then again….if he does get his heart broken, he can go back to writing his shit songs (his own description of his output!!) and he’ll be a decent musician.

It’s almost as if he can only perform if he’s the tortured artist with happiness being an impediment to success. Funny thing is…..I know someone who I think is a very talented writer, but they tell me they can’t really do so unless their life is in a state of flux and turmoil so Malky’s outlook isn’t unique.

mp3: Malcolm Middleton – Break My Heart

Lyrically, a number of the songs wouldn’t have been out of place on his debut LP but musically they are head and shoulders above it, fully fleshed out with keys and strings and a crisp, clean hugely confident production, which is no real surprise given that it was produced and engineered by Paul Savage.

This was an LP I took an instant liking to in 2005. It was also an LP that  just got better and better with each listen, musically and lyrically. All these years later and I still find it a great listen from start to end across all 12 tracks and have never tired of it. And don’t think I ever will.



aka The Vinyl Villain incorporating Sexy Loser

#014– The Church – ‚Texas Moon’ (Mushroom Records ’88)


Hello friends,

yet another trip around the world today, this series does keep you moving, doesn’t it? To Australia we go … and just in order to find yet another B-Side!

You might think I’m trying to be particularly clever with all these B-Sides, and especially today. No, I am not, honestly! Perhaps it’s my somewhat disturbed tastes that control these choices, who knows?

Here today the A-Side of the 7” in question, ‘Reptile’, is more than excellent, no question about that. But so are a few other singles by The Church, and you will certainly know them by heart: ‘The Unguarded Moment’ and/or ‘Under The Milky Way’. All three tunes would have deserved to be included in the package, I admit.

And the same is true for the entirety of the 1981 debut album by The Church, ‘Of Skins And Heart’ (or, for non-Australian folk, ‘The Church’ (1982)). I recommend this record without no reservation at all, I really do! So it is even more astonishing that I didn’t choose a track from it … and went for something that most probably only hardcore Church-enthusiasts have ever heard.

I really can’t explain why I did this or what it is that I like so much about ‘Texas Moon’. The band didn’t even feature it on their albums, so obviously they must have regarded it as a bit of wastage. Either way, I always thought a) Steve Kilbey sounds as great on it as on all other songs, b) it’s a tune which grows on you, one c) you never get tired of hearing (at least I don’t). And the combination of a), b) and c) justifies an inclusion in this series, at least it does in my book.

So, on green vinyl, a limited edition without a ‘real’ cover, just a transparent sleeve, here’s to you: The Church: 



mp3:  The Church – Texas Moon



JC adds……………………….

It’s nothing to do with the actual song that Dirk has offered up today in what is proving to be a wonderful and fascinating series.

As part of me turning 60 this year, I’ve put in place a number of short trips to places, many of which were originally planned when I retired three years back but unable to be taken because of the COVID restrictions. 

Today, along with Rachel, I’m flying to Dusseldorf for a four-night stay.  There’s a few things planned, including getting along to a Bundesliga match on Sunday – Borussia Mönchengladbach v Union Berlin if you’re keen to know – but the best of all is the scheduled day out in Cologne tomorrow, during which we will be guided around the city by Dirk and Mrs Loser.

That’s not all.   Having passed on this info to Walter, my other dear German blogging friend over at A Few Good Times In My Life, he immediately made arrangements to travel almost 400km from his home in Stuttgart to join us tomorrow.

I think it’s a fair description to say that I’m a tad excited about it all.  The last time the three bloggers were together was in Glasgow six years ago, along with a few other folk who had made their way to my home city.

Click here for a reminder of part one of the story

And click here for part two

I’ve a feeling not quite as much drink will be consumed this time around as Mrs Loser and Rachel will likely help keep us a bit in check.   But rest assured, the good health of many friends will be toasted.


I’m still in Glasgow.  Strike action in Germany has resulted in the closure of Dusseldorf airport for 48 hours and our flight has been cancelled.   Solidarity with the workers means I won’t moan about it, but I am feeling rather disappointed.


60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #44


Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes  (1983)

Another slightly updated/edited cut’n’ paste job from a previous occasion when the album was covered on the blog.

I’ve a very clear memory of my first time hearing this record. To my ears, at least, American bands were really appalling in the early 80s. OK, I was obsessed with the UK punk/post-punk/new wave/indie stuff, not forgetting a growing love of what would become lovingly referred to as synth-pop and I was biased.   But America felt, at the time, to be the home of the stadium anthem from the likes of Broooooce, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac and the like.

One day, a good friend of the three of us who shared a student flat came in and demanded we all listen to a new album he had picked up on the back of hearing it played in a Glasgow record shop.  This friend tended to have good taste and we were intrigued, but we sort of groaned when he told us it was by an American band called Violent Femmes. Not expecting much, we gathered round the turntable and speakers ……….where it proved to be ‘wow’ from the get-go.

This was something truly different. Songs of unrequited love, misery and suicide, but not like we had heard before. These tunes were upbeat…the lyrics were funny….you could even dance to them!! It was a truly innovative record – looking back, there was a bit of an awakening with the realisation that a ‘punk’ record could be made with acoustic instruments.

Over the years, Violent Femmes has made it into the collections of many, and yet the band have never really gone much beyond cult status. It is a true classic which has eventually proven to sell to a large audience –  it was certified with platinum status in the US ten years after its release and remains the only record to sell 1,000,000 copies without ever breaking into the Billboard Top 200. But you would need to look far and wide to find it on ‘best of’ lists so smugly typed out by know-all critics for publication in magazines.

It’s almost the perfect album. There’s not a single duff track on it, and the whole thing ticks over in just 36 minutes. The brevity is perhaps why it’s not perfect. I love it so much that I’ve got a vinyl copy*, a CD copy and a remastered CD copy that came with extra tracks.

A groundbreaking effort in all sorts of ways. Who would have known that angst-ridden and miserable lyrics could be so infectiously enjoyable??

mp3: Violent Femmes – Add It Up

I bet many of you thought I’d had offered up Blister In The Sun………

Here’s the thing.  I no longer have a copy of this album on vinyl.  Something that only became clear when I logged everything during the COVID-period downtime.  I still have two other 80s-era Violent Femmes LPs on vinyl, but I’ve no idea where the debut has ended up.

The going rate on Discogs and elsewhere is £50 and upwards.  No, thank you, but I enjoyed browsing.

This is definitely one that I’ll wait and hope gets the reissued treatment at some point.




A few weeks ago, I featured TPI as part of the long-running Scottish Songs on Saturday series.  The song was She’s Too Clever For Me, which I have in the collection, given its place as Track 21 on Disc 1 of the Big Gold Dreams box set.

As I mentioned at the time, TPI were from Edinburgh, with the acronym standing for Thick Pink Ink.  I also said that the song was one half of a Double AA single, the only one that seemed ever to have been released by the band, but that I’d been unable to track down You Rool Me, the other half of the single.

Leon Macduff got in touch a few days ago.

mp3: TPI – You Rool Me

The 45was released in October 1979 and as the Big Gold Dreams booklet states, it contains the sort of music that resembles the power pop of the likes of the Flaming Groovies.

I love when the TVV community steps in and helps out.  Cheers.


60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #45


Café Bleu -The Style Council(1984)

The thing about rundowns of this nature is that they are extremely subjective and personal. I’m sure there’s already been a bit of head scratching around some of the choices, and today’s might well have some of you inwardly saying WTF?  Feel free to say it out loud……

By no stretch of any imagination could Café Bleu ever be reckoned to be one of the best or most enjoyable 60 albums of all time.  Here’s a few criticisms that can be levelled at it:-

It’s a patchy affair to say the least.

None of the earlier five singles were included.

The seven songs on Side A consist of an instrumental, followed by a ballad, two more instrumentals, two more ballads and one final instrumental.

Side B opens up with an inexcusable and appalling rap effort.  It is followed up by a soul-tinged number whose lyrics consist of two often repeated lines….so much for Paul Weller being the best wordsmith of his generation.

Just as you think it’s going to end on a high after three successively good songs across the next part of Side B, it ends on yet another instrumental, which means 5 of the 13 tracks have no lyrics, while one other has barely any.

Three of the songs on the album were re-workings of old material.  One saw a jaunty single turned into a piano ballad, while another jazz-guitar and Hammond Organ infused b-side was given the full band treatment with additional lead vocalists, drums and saxophones all thrown into the mix*

*actually, it could be argued that both of the new versions were improvements on the original versions.

And so to the pluses……there are two of them.

The Paris Match, the third reworking of an old song, provided a real highlight with it turning into an atmospherically jazzy ballad thanks to guest appearances from Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt.

You’re The Best Thing, later released as a single, proved to be one of the finest songs that Paul Weller ever penned.  It was most likely the soundtrack of many a romance that summer.

The thing is, the second entry on the plus side has an incalculable value as far as I’m concerned.

mp3: The Style Council – You’re The Best Thing

Café Bleu was an album bought for me by the first girlfriend I fell in love with beyond any teenage infatuations.  It always instantly takes me back to memories when the two of us journeyed across Europe on cheap student railcards visiting cities that previously had only been figments of our imagination including Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Milan, Florence and Venice which is where the money ran out, and we had to return home as quickly as we could possibly manage to stave off starvation.

Plans for the likes of Munich and Amsterdam were talked about for the next time; except there wasn’t a next time, as it all turned sour within a matter of months after our return to Glasgow.

It’s best not to dwell too much on what caused it all to end.  I’d like to think her life has turned out just as good as mine has, almost 40 years on.   I’ll never forget her, and that’s why, no matter all its many flaws, this album merits its place in the rundown.

Don’t worry, I promise that I won’t get this personal again over the remaining 44 albums.





JC’s recent Wedding Present post inspired me to dig back into my records and very quickly an ICA started forming in my head. I was shocked to discover there’s only one ICA on the site (#7 to be precise, way way back in 2015!). My experience was very different from the one described there (go back, it’s worth the read). This came to me mostly fully formed in a few minutes. If you’ll indulge me… I will explain.

The Wedding Present was the first band that I considered mine. I’m an 80s kid and thanks to a very cool older sister I grew up immersed in all the good stuff (Cure, Smiths, Joy Division, etc.). Those bands were big enough and had been around long enough that I was jumping on someone else’s train 😉. When the aforementioned cool sis did her year abroad she left her records at home and I spent those months sampling everything. When I stumbled on her copy of This Boy Can Wait, I formed an instant connection.

At first I was completely taken by the jangly guitar. The opening lic is still one of my all time favorites. If you are unfortunate enough to be around me in the presence of a guitar you will eventually hear it. This is the first experience I can remember of being into a band at their inception. We were very fortunate to have a Tower Records in town with good music nerds keeping it well stocked with imports. I still remember buying my copy of George Best and putting it on for the 1st time. The guitars seemed impossible! The stories were tragic! From that day on I followed Gedge in all his forms, seeing the band every time they came to town (which in those days was a lot). However, unlike most bands I was into, most of my friends either didn’t like it, didn’t care, or were outright annoyed when I would foist it upon them. So the WP remained my own for decades. There was a brief moment during Seamonsters when they bubbled to the surface. One of the DJs on the local commercial station even let slip once that he was a fan. That was fun.

All this is to say those records are in my DNA. While I love love love the big songs and the singles, over the years I have found that my regular catalog dives start with the other stuff. Gedge is a master of the 3min pop song, and can turn a heartbreaking phrase like few others. But this ICA is full of songs where he breaks that mold. Maybe that’s why they stick out of the pack for me. It certainly explains why there’s zero overlap with the first ICA (which is excellent, BTW). If that’s the main comp, think of this as the limited edition bonus disc.

Side A

  1. This Boy Can Wait  (This Boy Can Wait 12” Single)Dance with the one which brought ya. The opening crashes the party, and makes sure you know it. He even gets the girl! But the end implies it’s not that simple (it never is). “Tonight, when I hold you in my arms And I prove that I’m a man Oh well I hope you understand.”

  2. Crawl  (Corduroy 12” Single)This is the 1st song that came up when I started thinking of an ICA. Gedge breaks the ABABCB structure to deliver 4 verses, building to a crashing chorus that only happens once. Is it a chorus, an outro, a bridge to nowhere? Don’t know, don’t care, it works!

  3. I’m Not Always So Stupid  (Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm 12” Single)Making simple songs like this is so much harder than it seems. Somehow Gedge always makes it sound so effortless. The lead jangle bit is one of my all-time faves. “You’ve changed your number, and my phonebook’s such a mess.”

  4. One Day All This Will Be Yours  (Kennedy 12” Single)As far as I can remember, there’s nothing like this in the entire catalog. It opens with a drumroll that sounds like it’s gonna be an intro, but ends up driving almost the entire song. The moment when it clears out for a brief “normal” bit pays off beautifully.

  5. Sports Car  (Mini) After so many songs about being burnt, this totally unapologetic take from the other guy stuck out to me. I also just love the way the song is structured in 3 scenes; sneaking around to screw it let’s go to what seems like a very nice drive in the countryside :).

Side B

  1. Suck (Seamonsters)Seamonsters is an aptly named monster of an album, but of all the songs this one sticks with me the most. I think it all comes down to that transition from verse to chorus. So much fun to sing along with in the car (sorrynotsorry, people staring at me at the stoplight).

  2. Montreal (Montreal 7” single)At the time I had no idea the wonders in store, but listening back now it seems obvious that it’s a proto-Cinerama track. It was nice to see David trying something new and nailing it. All that said, it’s the complexity of the underlying narrative that keeps me coming back. Our little Gedgie feels so grown up here.

  3. Bewitched  (Bizzaro)Bizzaro is my favorite WP album, due to some really big indulgent swings that pay off beautifully. Who among us hasn’t punched the air 4 beats early to this one.

  4. Shatner (George Best)That opening guitar! Maybe the most perfect distillation of the Solowka era. Also the contrast of the joyous music and dark narrative: “Look there’s a bruise I didn’t see.”

  5. Spangle (Watusi)Gedge’s bread and butter theme, delivered in the most heartbreaking fashion possible. I often wonder if the full band version was intended to be on Watusi, with this little experiment as a b-side somewhere.

I did it! I kept it to 10! Here’s a mix. Even with Bewitched in there it still comes in at a svelte 35min.

Wedding Present ICA

As I mentioned before this mix spring pretty much fully formed from my head in less than an hour. Here’s a list of honorable mentions. Every time I would try to fit one of these in the list I just could bring myself to dump anything.

  • Unfaithful (John Peel Sessions 1987-1990)

  • Fleshworld (Lovenest 12″ single)

  • Happy Birthday (John Peel Sessions 1987-1990)

  • Pleasant Valley Sunday (Come Play With Me 7″ single)

  • Loveslave (Loveslave 7″ single)

  • Nothing Comes Easy (Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm 12″ single)

  • Gone (Brassneck 12″ single)

  • It’s Not Unusual (Kennedy 12″ single)

  • No Christmas (No Christmas 7″ single)

P.S. I wanna give a special shout out to No Christmas. I was not too excited upon its release but it has grown to be a favorite over the years. Listening back now it sure does feel like early postrock. I had to look it up, but it appears to have been released a full 5 years before Mogwai blew everyone away with Like Herod. Maybe if it had been 10+ minutes it would be remembered differently? One things for sure, it’s a song I can’t play with anyone else in the car. Some things never change 😀.


60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #46


Trapped And Unwrapped -Friends Again (2022)

I’m not sure if any other rundown of this nature would include the sole album released by Friends Again.  But, those of you who have long been familiar with this particular corner of t’internet won’t be too surprised.

Friends Again were a band I devoted a lot of time and energy to back in 1982/83.  I was certain they were going to be the next big thing to emerge out of Scotland, and judging by the number of A&R men (they were always men!!!) who came along to their many shows in and around my home city, I wasn’t alone in that view.  They were more than worthy successors to the likes of Orange Juice and Aztec Camera, both of whom were enjoying chart success in 1983. They were the perfect hybrid of all that was great about the Glasgow music scene. Chris Thomson was a fine singer and his lyrics were a cut above the ordinary or mundane, which was unsurprising given that he had, until becoming a full-time musician, studied English Literature. The guitarist, James Grant, seemed like a true virtuoso, as indeed did Paul McGeechan on keyboards, while the rhythm section of Neil Cunningham (bass) and Stuart Kerr (drums) were as solid and dependable as you could ever wish for.

What could go wrong?

As it turned out, just about everything.

They signed to Phonogram Records.  The label released three singles, all of which had smash-hit written all over them, and all of which proved to be flops.  The strain on the band was beginning to tell, and the previous carefree joy of the live performances was beginning to be replaced by on-stage tetchiness.   The next thing that we knew was the band had split up, and the debut album, which had been well over a year in the making, still wasn’t in the shops.

It felt strange going out to but the record knowing that I was unlikely to ever hear them played live again.

mp3: Friends Again – State of Art

I also thought that the album was a bit of a dog’s breakfast.  Two of the initial singles had been re-recorded, neither of which came close to being as good as the originals.  The fact that four different producers had been brought in at various times by Phonogram had made for a disjointed approach.  It was such a missed opportunity and the outcome had led to the band breaking up and going onto different and new projects.

So why is an album that felt such a letdown finding itself in this rundown?

Over the years, I have acquired some of the demo recordings of the songs, along with some bootlegs of the band’s shows from the early 80s.  There’s also been an official release of some of the demos and live songs, courtesy of an album issued by the German-based Firestation Records back in 2019.   It’s also the case that Chris Thomson has, in recent years,  began to play the songs again as part of his live shows.  All of which has given me a reminder of just how wonderful it was to follow Friends Again over an extended period of time and how much I adored the songs, even when having to listen to them as part of what I reckon to be  a botched and shabby release.

Trapped and Unrapped was given a re-release last year by Last Night From Glasgow. The remastering process was overseen by the band’s keyboardist, Paul McGeechan.  He also took the opportunity to remove one of the re-recordings and replace it with the version that had been issued as a single.  The work he put into the process has made it a much more enjoyable listen, and raised it into the realms of it being a worthy contender for inclusion in this rundown.




I hope some of you will recall a posting from earlier this year when I got all excited by the impending release of Mox Nox, the debut album by Alison Eales, best known for multi-instrumental work, but mainly keyboards, with Butcher Boy.

It’s coming up for four weeks since the record, on Fika Recordings, was made available, during which time Alison has played a handful of gigs as part of the promotional efforts.

I’ve held back from offering my thoughts on the album until now.   I’ve done so for the simple reason that having been ridiculously impressed with its contents on the first few listens, I thought it would be best to shy away from a review on the basis that some of the more cynical out there might have been thinking, ‘well, he would say that, wouldn’t he, given he’s good friends with the musician’.

But my repeated listens to Vox Nox have been without prejudice.  I think a lot of my delight comes from the fact that, despite the fact she has roped in a few of her bandmates to help out on some of its 12 songs – Basil Pieroni plays guitar on four of them, while Maya Burman-Roy and Cat Robertson add cello and violin to a number of other tracks – the album very much stands on its own as a vehicle for Alison’s previously (seemingly) hidden talents in the singing and songwriting departments, given she hasn’t had too much obvious input into those particular activities in her years with Butcher Boy. 

I mentioned back in January, at the time when lead-off single Fifty-Five North was given a digital and promo video release, that Alison had spent many years working away quietly and below-the-radar on her solo material.  Part of this involved her going along to open-mic evenings across various Glasgow venues and locations, gauging the reaction of audiences to her performances. It’s as tough an environment as you could possibly imagine, but it has all proven to be very worthwhile as it enabled her to enter a recording studio from where she would emerge with a set of songs that have an incredible degree of maturity and confidence, perfectly polished up by the talents of Paul Savage behind the desk. 

Mox Nox is a superb album that I know will be among my favourite releases in 2023.  The publicists at Fika, in the material they sent out along with review copies, said it was an album that was likely to appeal to fans of  Saint Etienne, The Magnetic Fields, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stereolab, Jake Thackray and Kirsty MacColl, which gives an indication of the depth of influences that have impacted on the songs and the ways they have been recorded and arranged.  It’s an indie-pop album laced liberally with chamber-pop; a string quartet is utilised on one song, while others make use of flute, glockenspiel, autoharp, dulcimer and kalimba.

Incidentally, I’m not alone in falling for the charms of Mox Nox. 

Ed Jupp, in a terrific review over at God Is In The Zine, calls it ‘brilliantly accomplished’ and states that listeners are ‘probably unlikely to hear many records as individual as this album this year’.

The unnamed reviewer at BluesBunny opens with ‘There are things that make life worthwhile. Things like beer, curry and 4.2 litre V8 petrol engines. Things like Alison Eales and her album “Mox Nox”’, before commending Alison for ‘doing what many would consider unfashionable and that is making an album for grownups.’

Jason Anderson, in giving the album 7/10 in Uncut magazine, calls it a ‘charming debut album’ in which Alison’s ‘affecting vocals and atypical instrument choices help steer these songs away from the tried and twee’.

Here’s an opportunity to listen to the lead single. An ode to Glasgow from someone who is not a native but now calls it home after many years of studying, performing and working. 

mp3: Alison Eales – Fifty-Five North

The album might well be available in an independent store close to where you live, but your best bet might well be bandcamp, where it is retailing for £20 while the digital copy is £7. Click here.