AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #177 : BALLBOY (2)

A GUEST POSTING by DIRK a.k.a. SEXY LOSER

You see, the problem with a follow-up to an ICA is that everything about band members and discographies has already been said and done. So please refer to JC’s ICA # 175 if you’re interested.

Also JC managed to pick some of the really good songs, it must be said! No problem though, because ballboy are a band with so many good tunes: it was fairly easy to find ten other ones. Well, not that easy, because I couldn’t rely on albums, singles and EP’s only, I just had to include non-commercial releases as well, because I thought you’d miss a treat if I would not do so. Which made the number of songs to choose from even bigger!

But in the end I succeeded, so, without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, Scotland’s finest, ballboy:

‘You Should Fall In Love With Me‘

As it so often is the case, the Peel Session is the superior version. Fact. Obviously this is not only true for ballboy recordings. At least in my books. Here we have to thank George Thomas and Nick Scripps, who produced and engineered this tune back in March 2003. The original version can be found on ‘The Sash My Father Wore’ … of course the album version is excellent as well, but not that excellent!

(JC adds….first time I’ve heard the Peel Session version…..and Dirk is right!!!!)

‘They’ll Hang Flags From Cranes Upon My Wedding Day’

Since I first heard this song, I tend to have a close look each year on August 14th on me way to work. Never saw a single flag though, but I suppose Mrs Loser is still working on this: hope is the last thing to die, right? First released on the ‘Girls Are Better Than Boys’ – EP in 2001, also to be found on ‘Club Anthems’.

‘Frankie And Johnny’

I like it when they do a cover version! Here they tackle a very old tune indeed, from 1912 or thereabouts in fact. Elvis sang that as well, perhaps this is the version that ‘Frankie And Johnny’ is remembered for best. Still he didn’t write it, but to my best knowledge Elvis only wrote a handful of songs, if at all. Another artist who recorded a version was Lonnie Donegan, which is the link to ballboy:

“This is a Peel Session track recorded in October 2004, 2 days after the great man passed away. He was planning a Lonnie Donegan special and invited us to record this. We recorded it in one take, all together in the room with no overdubs. It is ramshackle and raw, but we like it and we are desperately sad that we didn’t get to play it for him.”

‘Dumper Truck Racing’

From their very first EP, ‘Silver Suits For Astronauts’ from 1999. Again, also this was issued on ‘Club Anthems’. A mighty tune, no question about that!

‘A Day In Space’

Also from the aforementioned debut EP: the truth of the matter is, I simply couldn’t decide which one to leave out, this one or ‘Dumper Truck Racing’, so you’ll get both, as easy as that …

‘Disney’s Ice Parade’

Anyone who starts a song with the line “You left your notes on lesbian sex on the fish tank in the hall/took me all afternoon to read them all” is alright with me, I must say! And in the case of ballboy it’s even more alright and I’m curious to find out how this story develops … and so should you, I tell you!

A lifetime ago the band offered podcasts on their website, those podcasts were made by Gordon ballboy and his acoustic guitar. The podcast were a regular feature and one was made every 2-3 weeks or so. The format was that Gordon talks a little, sings a new song, talks a little and sings an old song. ‘Disney’s Ice Parade’ is from a podcast from 2006.

‘Let’s Fall In Love And Run Away From Here’

Perhaps this my favourite ballboy tune. Here, I said it! Then again this might change in five minutes, as it did for a thousand times within the last two decades. It’s the opening track to ‘The Royal Theatre’ from 2004 and it proves what JC said in his wisdom in the first ballboy ICA: “Every one of the band’s EPs and albums opens with a truly memorable number”. This is but one of those, if you ask me …

‘Born In The USA’

Another cover version. I never cared all too much for Springsteen, so forgive me when I say: this is better than the original! From ‘The Sash My Father Wore’ from 2003.

‘We’ve All Had Better Days’

This is another one recorded for the Peel Session mentioned earlier on, the one which had ‘Frankie And Johnny’ on it. As far as I know there has never been a commercial release of this tune. Also I have a feeling that the correct title might possibly be ‘We’ve All Seen Better Days”. Not that it matters much anyway …

‘Where Do The Nights Of Sleep Go To When They Do Not Come To Me?’

A good question indeed, although one that I rarely as myself: I’m one of those lucky chaps who fall asleep as soon as my head touches my cushion. I always explain this ability with too much experience in the backs of transportation lorries when being a Lance Corporal in the German Air Force in the early 90’s, where we would sleep whenever and wherever possible!

‘Where Do The Nights Of Sleep Go To When They Don’t Come To Me?’ was a single from 2002.

Well, that’s it. The longlist, the list I made first, the one I had to delete songs from in order to number it all down to ten, was massive! I think this shows you how good this band really is.

Hope you enjoyed bits of it. Take good care, friends!

Dirk/sexyloser

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #175 : BALLBOY

This post is dedicated to Sexy Loser

I thought it was time I tackled another difficult ICA, featuring another wonderfully entertaining and talented Scottish combo, one of the finest bands to ever emerge out of Scotland’s capital but second city.

Ballboy emerged in the mid-to-late 90s, with the various members gigging and recording around the commitments of holding down full-time careers. A few members came and went and finally things settled down in 1999 with a four-piece line-up consisting of Gordon McIntyre (vocals and guitar), Nick Reynolds (bass), Gary Morgan (drums) and Katie Griffiths (keyboards) signing to SL Records. The band would record a number of EPs/singles which were later compiled as the wonderfully named Club Anthems in 2001 before the release of a debut LP, A Guide For Daylight Hours was released in late 2002. Two more albums – The Sash My Father Wore and Other Stories (2003) and The Royal Theatre (2004) very quickly followed as the band consolidated on their ever-increasing fan base, one of whom was John Peel.

By this point in time, Alexa Morrison had replaced Katie Griffiths. There was also something of a loss of momentum with the latest LP not being as well received as previous efforts and there was something of a fall-out with the label. It wasn’t until 2008 that the next album – I Worked On The Ships – was released and it was on the band’s own imprint of Pony Proof Records. There’s not actually been all that much released since then outside of a digital Christmas mini-album in 2013, but the band have been reasonably active on the live front here in Scotland, albeit rarely nowadays as a full four-piece.

There’s plenty of songs which could have made this ICA, and what follows is not necessarily my favourite 10 tracks; but taken collectively they make for what I think would be two rather splendid sides of vinyl. It also builds on this previous posting on the band from two years back.

SIDE A

1. Avant Garde Music (from A Guide for the Daylight Hours, 2002)

Every one of the band’s EPs and albums opens with a truly memorable number and it was a tough choice selecting the track with which to introduce the ICA. In the end, I’ve plumped for Avant Garde Music partly on the basis it is from the debut LP but mainly as it captures perfectly what it is that makes Ballboy such an appealing listen. It is self-deprecating, humorous, catchy and with has the most wonderful put-down line of ‘I don’t give a fuck what she says or thinks about me’. Indie attitude at its very best!

2. All The Records On The Radio Are Shite (EP, 2002)

More indie attitude at its very best. Gordon’s tongue may be slightly in his cheek when he sings that, with the exception of his own material all the music coming out of the transistor just aren’t very good, but there’s no arguing the sentiments, especially these days when an awful lot of indie music seems to be by numbers. But then again, the hipsters and youngsters probably think the stuff I like is trad and dull…..

3. Songs For Kylie (from I Worked On The Ships, 2008)

There are singer/songwriters out there who have made millions upon millions, selling out arenas and stadia the world over thanks to them having the talent to match a tear-inducing lyric with a tune that somehow can tunnel its way into every brain and stay there no matter how hard you want or try to forget it. There are even, and always have been, songwriters for hire to do the very same for those singers whose voice is the only thing creative about them. I listen to some of the ballads that Ballboy have recorded over the years and cannot but feel that Gordon McIntyre missed his true calling.

4. Something’s Going To Happen Soon (from A Guide for the Daylight Hours, 2002)

And the cellos kick in……..

Boom. Pow. Whack.  You’re In Love.

5. I Don’t Have Time To Stand Here With You Fighting About The Size Of My Dick (from The Royal Theatre, 2004)

As said previously, probably the first thing that jumps out when you look Ballboy song is the finest set of song titles since The Smiths were at the height of their fame, fame fatal fame. The titles inevitably involve a wry look at life and love – successes and failures alike – but the great thing is that the tunes are more than a match, especially on the debut album. There was a wee bit of a backlash when The Royal Theatre was released in that the production and sound had removed some of what had made the band such an essential listen over the previous five years but it is impossible not to smile at the title of this song.

There’s a real complexity about the lyric – the laugh out loud title acts as its opening line and isn’t ever repeated. The closing two lines offer up a beautiful and moving image of a loving memory. In between? Well, let’s just say it’s from the perspective of a hardened, violent criminal who just never imagined things ever going wrong….just listen and then applaud.

SIDE B

1. Donald In The Bushes With A Bag of Glue (from Club Anthems, 2001)

This was actually the lead track on the band’s first ever EP, Silver Suits For Astronauts, in 1999.

2. Kiss Me, Hold Me and Eat Me

3. The Sash My Father Wore (both from The Sash My Father Wore and Other Stories (2003)

The sophomore album was a bit if a surprise in that it was quite acoustic in nature, offering up many songs in which it was just the singer and his guitar and the occasional use of a cello.. It’s a tremendously enjoyable piece of work, brave in many ways partly from it being such a bold step away from the sounds that had brought the band some indie-pop fame but also from the fact that the lyrics didn’t hold back on the sort of things that angered him, not least the title track.

Kiss Me, Hold Me and Eat Me must be the only love song about cannibalism. It muses on what cannibals who fall in love would do to one another given their all-consuming desire to consume flesh. Is there a happy ending? There’s only one way to find out…….

Type in “The Sash My Father Wore” into any search engine and you’ll be greeted with a toe-tapping tune of religious triumphalism and intolerance. Sectarianism is Scotland’s shame. It is somewhat on the wane compared to a generation ago but those Protestants who can’t tolerate Roman Catholics (and vice-versa) while less in numbers seem to be more bitter about things, angry that a certain way of life is ebbing away. It is, sadly, at its worst in Glasgow but there are also many small working-class villages and towns which have an historical association with dirty, grimy and dangerous industries, especially coal mining, where the marching season across June, July and August brings out the worst in folk.

Ballboy’s take on it all? A gentle ballad with a biting lyric which pulls no punches. Billy Bragg has rarely, if ever, been this courageous……

4. I Wonder If You’re Drunk Enough To Sleep With Me Tonight (from A Guide for the Daylight Hours, 2002)

The title sounds creepy and the sort of thought that goes through the head of a social inadequate on a night out in the company of someone they fancy, or indeed lust over. And yet and the upbeat, jaunty nature of the song opens it to other interpretations, primarily that it is really about a hopeless romantic who, while he says he won’t be put off by a fear of failure is in fact so terrified of it that he is incapable of behaving or thinking in any sort of rational way.

I’ve always thought this would make for a marvellous duet. Singer #1 would take it through to the end of the first chorus at which point singer #2 comes in and takes it through to the end of the second chorus. Then they would stare into one another’s eyes and both sing the closing section, pleading with one another to kiss them like they mean it this time……and it won’t matter if they are sober or drunk.

5. Meet Me At The Shooting Range (from A Guide for the Daylight Hours, 2002)

One of the most hauntingly, beautiful tunes of my lifetime.  I’ve wept while listening to this alone while very drunk……and it’s just a perfect way to bring ICA 175 to its conclusion

JC

GREAT ALBUMS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT (1) : BALLBOY

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This may, or may not, become a regular feature. It’s also one in which there is much potential for guest contributions. A couple of years back there was a fine response to the idea of ‘Cult Classics’ where a largely unknown song would be brought to the attention of T(n)VV readers; this time I’m thinking about unknown LPs.

I’m kicking things off with a band to whom I was introduced by Jacques the Kipper.

Ballboy are pretty well-known in the UK as they were perennial favourites of John Peel but they never really made it beyond our shores. It’s also quite clear that they have a far bigger following in Scotland than anywhere else and I’d like to think this look at their proper debut studio album from 2002, A Guide For The Daylight Hours, will be its first exposure to a number of you.

The first thing that jumps out are the finest set of song titles since Moz was at the height of his pomp with The SmithsYou Can’t Spend Your Whole Life Hanging Around With Arseholes; I Wonder If You’re Drunk Enough To Sleep With Me Tonight; I Lost You, But I Found Country Music; Sex Is Boring; Meet Me At The Shooting Range.

The songs, as you’d imagine from the titles, involve a wry look at love and life – success and failures alike – which bring to mind the lyrical genius of a David Gedge, Jarvis Cocker or Paul Heaton. Or in one case, Nick Cave in his Murder Ballads phase.

The thing is though, the tunes are more than a match for the song titles…..being an great mix of jingly/indie guitar (or lovely acoustic guitar on the slower numbers) and fantastic sounding drums/bass guitar brilliantly underpinned by swooping organ or piano. Oh and there’s great use occasionally of a cello and a violin……

I won’t go into any detail on any of the songs and let them speak for themselves. Well, that was the intention but in recent times I’ve come to think about the opening track in a different way thanks to S-WC and his on/off relationship with Our Price Girl back in the day. If this had been written and recorded back then, I’m sure he would have adopted it as his theme song:-

mp3 : Ballboy – Avant Garde Music

It would have been great if The Badgers had covered it mind you……………………….

Here’s some more brilliance.

mp3 : Ballboy – You Can’t Spend Your Whole Life Hanging Around With Arseholes
mp3 : Ballboy – Something’s Going To Happen Soon
mp3 : Ballboy – I Wonder If You’re Drunk Enough To Sleep With Me Tonight
mp3 : Ballboy – Sex Is Boring
mp3 : Ballboy – Meet Me At The Shooting Range

The last of these closes the album.  It’s as black and frightening a lyric as you’re likely to ever hear.  And the cello never sounded sadder…………..

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #18 : BALLBOY

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Saying that Ballboy are a four-piece indie-band from Edinburgh just doesn’t do them justice.

They’ve been with us for more than 16 years now during which time they have recorded and released five albums and eight EPs/singles as well as recording a number of Peel Sessions back in the days as the famous DJ was a huge fan of their music.

I feel like being lazy today so I would simply ask you to have a look at their webpage if you want or need more info.  Just click here.

They are one of Scotland’s best kept secrets.  They haven’t released a proper studio album since 2008’s I Worked On The Ships but there have been some suggestions that new material is in the pipeline. I certainly hope so.

So many great songs to choose from today.  Given it is Independence Day over the pond, this seems appropriate.

mp3 : Ballboy – Born In The USA

It’s not a cover………..

Enjoy.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Parts 11-15)

Back on 8 October 2011, I started a series called ‘Saturday’s Scottish Single’.  The aim was to feature one 45 or CD single by a Scottish singer or band with the proviso that the 45 or CD single was in the collection. I had got to Part 60-something and as far as Kid Canaveral when the rug was pulled out from under TVV.

I’ll catch up soon enough by featuring 5 at a time from the archives..

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(11) Associates – 18 Carat Love Affair b/w Love Hangover : WEA  7″ (1982)

Read more about Associates here

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(12) Aztec Camera – Walk Out To Winter 12″ b/w Set The Killing Free b/w Walk Out To Winter : Rough Trade 12″ (1983)

Read more about Aztec Camera here

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(13) Baby Chaos – Hello Victim b/w Rotten To The Core b/w Skinny : East West CD single (1994)

Formed in 1992 in the town of Stewarton by a group of school mates, Baby Chaos consisted of Chris Gordon (vocals/guitar), Grant McFarlane (guitar), Bobby Dunn (bass) and Davy Greenwood (drums).  They were discovered by former Happy Mondays turned A&R man, Nathan McGough and after an appearance on a BBC 2 music programme were signed to East West with debut single ‘Sperm’ being released in late 1993.

Three more singles and an LP followed over the course of 1994, a year which saw them play the inaugural ‘T In The Park’ as well as at the week-long Sound In The City event in Glasgow (which is where I saw them for the first and only time).

They were described by some as Scotland’s answer to the sound of post-Seattle grunge and were compared by others to Manic Street Preachers.  They never quite got a distinctive enough sound of their own to stand out.  Perhaps the best indication that they wouldn’t get much of a local following was when they were briefly championed by Kerrang magazine at a time when Glasgow really didn’t have all that much of a hard rock scene.  Tell you what though, their hometown isn’t all that far from where Biffy Clyro have their roots.  Perhaps Baby Chaos were just a decade or so too early. Not the sort of stuff normally featured on TVV but it’s a CD single that sites on the shelf.  One that I paid 25p for…

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(14) Ballboy : All The Records On The Radio Are Shite b/w Stars and Stripes b/w Building For The Future b/w Welcome To The New Year : SL Records 7″ EP (2002)

Read more about Ballboy here

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(15) The Bathers – Fancy Dress b/w Ju Ju Peach: Go Discs 7″ (1987)

Read more about The Bathers here

Enjoy!!