A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (5)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 11 JUNE 2008

(and again on 4 November 2013)

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And so to the second appearance for Paul Quinn on this particular chart, which is not bad going for someone who never troubled any chart when he was a recording artist.

I don’t want to bore regular readers with a blow-by-blow account (again) of the Paul Quinn story and repeat my oft-said opinion about him being the greatest pop singer ever to have come out of Scotland. So here’s the short version…

He was initially the lead singer with the first line-up of Jazzateers, but was relegated to backing vocals while his role was taken on by Graeme Skinner (later to find success with Hipsway) when the material was recorded and released. Then in 1984 came Bourgie Bourgie, an act signed to a major label in the shape of MCA Records and of whom great things were anticipated. Sadly, it only amounted to a couple of majestic singles – Breaking Point and Careless, while there are some tapes in circulation of stuff that was recorded in demo form for an unreleased LP

Around the same time, Paul recorded some vocals for Orange Juice, and his efforts can be heard on Tongues Begin To Wag, a b-side to the single I Can’t Help Myself as well as Mud In Your Eye, a track on the LP Rip It Up, as well as backing vocals to said hit single.

1985 was a bit of a prolific year for Paul.

There was a solo deal with Swamplands Records which produced two bits of magic. First there was a duet with Edwyn Collins covering Pale Blue Eyes. Paul sang while Edwyn strummed and plucked his guitar. It’s a song that has been covered by many an artist, but the Quinn/Collins effort is, in my opinion, the definitive version, including that of The Velvet Underground. Then there was a solo single called Ain’t That Always The Way, a song that was also recorded and released as a b-side by Edwyn…

Neither Swamplands single made the charts.

He also recorded One Day, which was a single with Vince Clarke, which was in effect the follow-up to the Top 3 single Never Never by The Assembly (which had featured Fergal Sharkey on vocals). Sadly, it flopped.

Next came the formation of Paul Quinn & The Independent Group on the reincarnated Postcard Records at the beginning of the 1990s. This was a Glasgow super-group of sorts (check out the #37 entry in this chart for more info). Again, there was next to no commercial success…

Aside from an appearance (on backing vocals and with a writing credit) on the 2001 LP You Can Make It If You Boogie by James Kirk, nothing has been heard from Paul in 10 years or so as his life became a battle against a particular severe case of Multiple Sclerosis.

I’m not sure why Bourgie Bourgie imploded after just two great singles – whether it was a case of the record company losing faith in the band, or the band just deciding they couldn’t continue, I really have no idea.

Of all the singles I lost in the infamous Edinburgh incident (see a previous story from this rundown if you’ve no I have no idea what I’m on about), the two by Bourgie Bourgie were missed more than most, and I had to rely on cassette copies for many years. But now, thanks to some burrowing around e-bay, I have both of them in 7” and 12” form. Of the two, Breaking Point remains my firm favourite, and as you can see from its position on this chart, is a song that I think is one of the best of all time – something that should be owned and cherished in millions of households the world over.

It’s not just the stunning vocal performance that makes this such an outstanding record – listen to the fantastic production that sees some great guitar and keyboards work beefed-up by a cello and strings that aren’t a million miles away from the sound that would appear years later on Monkey Gone To Heaven by The Pixies. And wouldn’t you know that Breaking Point was a Kingbird Production…..one of the names used by the soon to be famous Ian Broudie……

mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Breaking Point (Extended Version)
mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Apres Ski (Extended Version)

Oh and finally (as I could go on all day and night about this song, band and singer) Breaking Point was almost the name of this blog…….and I would have called myself The Ghost Of Trouble Joe when penning the pieces….

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #66 : PAUL QUINN

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This is another one of those compilations that, on the face of it, should be easy to pull together. After all, Paul Quinn never achieved anything more than cult status and his career was cruelly cut short by a degenerative illness. But, as is always the case when it involves a real favourite, the very notion of limiting it to ten songs turns into a tortuous exercise.

It was also very tempting to go for things in a chronological order as that would have supported an effort at plotting Paul’s career in some detail, but I just love this man’s voice so much that I stuck to the principle of trying to create the perfect album.

Here’s a link to what was eligible for consideration, compiled with great care by the Proprietor of The Punk Rock Hotel. I decided immediately that unless Paul was on lead or at least co-lead vocal then I wouldn’t look to include it. I’m lucky enough to have just about everything which is on that list, including some of the unreleased material, but some of the quality is a bit on the ropey side and not having the professional tools to clean things up or improve them then these too had to be ruled out. But having said all of that, it would have been difficult in the end for any of the ten songs included today to have been displaced….

Oh and in case anyone is wondering why there’s a slew of records from 84/85 and then nothing till ’92…..the contract which Paul signed in the 80s precluded him being able to appear on any other label for a certain number of years.  Criminal.

SIDE A

1. Will I Ever Be Inside Of You? (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1994)

Even if this had been the only song that the great man had ever been part of then his legendary status would have been sealed.

The opening track of the band’s second and final LP may extend to over nine minutes in length but there isn’t a single second of waste or excess. The Independent Group were ridiculously talented but then again what else would you expect when it was made up of some of the greatest musicians to ever have come out of Scotland at any time in our history, never mind that short period in the aftermath of punk and when a certain type of indie music gained a foothold. Add in lush orchestration and a contribution from one our then leading opera singers and you have a recipe for something unique and unforgettable.

2. Pale Blue Eyes (12” single by Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins, 1984)

Paul and Edwyn were great friends and Alan Horne was determined that somehow he could get them working together. In 1984, Orange Juice had finally imploded and Edwyn was in the throes of establishing himself as a solo artist and Paul had just quit Bourgie Bourgie before the debut album was finished. The conditions for the perfect storm were completed by London Records deciding to give Alan a wad of money to operate a new label which he christened Swamplands. This stunning cover of a Velvet Underground number was the first release on the new label. It’s ridiculous that it failed to garner much radio support and subsequently flopped, especially when you think just how much dross was dominating the charts that year.

3. The Damage Is Done (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1992)

Legend has it that Alan Horne resurrected Postcard in 1992 for the sole reason of putting out records featuring Paul Quinn. It’s certainly the case that The Phantom & The Archetypes was the first release on the label in more than eleven years and the excitement among those of us of a certain age in Glasgow was palpable when news emerged that the band would include James Kirk, Campbell Owens, Bobby Bluebell and Blair Cowan with Edwyn Collins also involved via the production desk. The end result however, turned out to be a lot different from what was imagined as it was not in the least bit indie nor was it any point jangly.

Indeed, a lot of the album sounds on initial listens as if it has been delivered by a Las Vegas lounge band – the sort of music that you hear in the background of a suitably noir or cult crime thriller – not all that attention grabbing except for the velvet-like vocal delivery.  Perhaps the point wasn’t to allow the music to dominate at any point but after repeated listens, things start to dawn and there’s a gradual appreciation of the nuances of the instrumentation, with Cowan’s keyboards in particular proving to be at the heart of the material, albeit beautifully buried deep in a masterful production. This is one of the best examples of what I’m rabbiting on about.

4. Breaking Point (12” single by Bourgie Bourgie, 1984)

The opening burst of cello will grab you and look to get you hooked immediately. If that doesn’t work, then surely you won’t be able to resist the voice.

This was my personal introduction to Paul Quinn as a lead vocalist in his own right (I’d first heard him on Barbecue which was a b-side to the 12” of I Can’t Help Myself by Orange Juice). In all truth I was as excited by the fact that Bourgie Bourgie was going to have a number of ex-Jazzateers in its line-up as I felt they were one the great ‘lost’ Scottish bands of the era. (If you don’t have a copy of their 1983 self-titled debut album on Rough Trade then I can only recommend you track down a copy – there’s a few out there at not too stupid a price.) But once I heard that voice I was smitten.

Worth also noting the classy and crisp production courtesy of the then little known Kingbird, aka Ian Broudie, whose work with so many bands in Liverpool and then later in his guise as Lightning Seeds has lit up many an indie disco over the past 30 plus years

5. Change Of Attitude (12” b-side by Bourgie Bourgie, 1984)

The follow-up single was Careless which is a decent enough stab at making a lush pop single in a style that was all the rage for a short while in the 80s – again it enjoyed a fine production courtesy of Mike Hedges who was usually found working alongside the Banshees, Cure or Associates for the most part. But to my ears, it’s the eight minutes plus on the b-side of the 12” which gives an indication of just how different and influential a band Bourgie Bourgie could have been if they hadn’t messily imploded after just two singles.  Having said that, I’ve no doubt MCA Records would have baulked if the rest of their output turned out this way. Production duties courtesy of Stephen Lironi who had done so much to shift the sound of latter day Altered Images.

SIDE B

1. Stupid Thing (single by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1993)

Even if this had been the only song that the great man had ever been part of then his legendary status would have been sealed.

The lead track on the single that came between the two albums.

I’d even make a case that it is the greatest ever single in the history of Postcard Records (but I’d likely withdraw it when provided with the counter argument of Blueboy….but it’s a close run thing).

I’d even make the case that the two other tracks on the single – Passing Thought and a cover of Superstar – make this the greatest 3-track single in all of history (and then immediately withdraw it when provided with the counter argument of William/How Soon Is Now/Please Please Please….not quite such a close run thing).

I can’t think of anything else to add. It’s an impossible task with mere words to do this song justice.

2. Punk Rock Hotel (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1992)

The strength of this ICA is the voice, but here’s a track in which the other members of the Independent Group are allowed to shine and there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from the guitar solo which comes courtesy of James Kirk. Or it might well be the work of Robert Hodgens. I can’t say for sure as the sleeve notes have the two of them down as guitarists but don’t indicate who played what part on each track.

Punk Rock Hotel is of course the name taken for the tremendous fan site dedicated to Paul Quinn. It’s inclusion here on the ICA is as much of a tip of the hat to the Proprietor as anything else. But it does fit in well at this juncture.

3. Passing Thought (album track by Paul Quinn & The Independent Group, 1994)

Each of Stupid Thing and Passing Thought were re-recorded for inclusion on the subsequent album a year later. It was a worthwhile exercise as some of the band personnel had changed and in particular the addition of the very talented Mick Slaven added a new dimension, certainly on the very few occasions that they were ever able to play live. This newer version is lusher and at times more menacing sounding than the original and demonstrates that there was lot more to Blair Cowan’s keyboard skills than he’s generally been given credit for going back to his time as a Commotion.

4. Louise Louise (radio session, 1984)

As mentioned earlier, Paul worked with Orange Juice providing a lead vocal on a b-side and backing vocal on other tracks such as Mud In Your Eye and Rip It Up (it’s his very distinctive wail that you hear as the hit single goes into its outro phase). It was no real surprise during the time that he and Edwyn worked as a duo that their material would include OJ songs but the only recording that has survived in any decent shape or form is from a session recorded for BBC Radio 1 back in 1984 and broadcast by Richard Skinner.

Louise Louise is one of the oldest OJ songs, dating back to the Postcard era but not given an official release until the second Polydor LP. It features some fantastic guitar work but suffers a bit from a rather fragile almost twee vocal partly as it was on the edge of Edwyn’s vocal range. No such issues with Paul who somehow pulls off the trick of maintaining the beautiful sentiments of the song despite a delivery that is the polar opposite of Edwyn’s.

Obscure fact – guitar on this track is played by Craig Gannon, ex-Aztec Camera and ex-Smith.

5. Tiger Tiger (single by Paul Quinn & the Nectarine No.9, 1995)

Following Fire Engines and Win, 90s Postcard signing Nectarine No.9 became the third of the great groups to be fronted by Davey Henderson.

I’m guessing it would have been Alan Horne’s idea to have Paul Quinn link up with them. The first result of the fruits of their collective labours was Tiger Tiger, a cover of a song by Head, a band who had briefly shone in the 80s without ever getting beyond cult status.

Worth noting that one of the members of Head was Garth Sager who had first come to notice with post-punk outfit The Pop Group in the late 70s; by 1995, Sager was a member of……The Nectarine No.9!!!

It was the lead track on a 4-song CD entitled Pregnant With Possibilities Vol.1 which was really a Postcard sampler. Whether it was always going to be a one-off collaboration or there were further irons in the fire, nobody other than Paul and Alan can truly say as this turned out to be the last time the great man performed a lead vocal of any sort as the sad news came not long after that he had been struck down by a debilitating illness that would subsequently be revealed as MS.

It’s a song that has always filled me with sadness. I don’t think anyone realised that it would be Paul’s final release and even when word came out that he was ill there was always hope that somehow he’d be well enough to sing again. No such luck.

Still, we’ll always have these and the others that didn’t make the cut….

mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Will I Ever Be Inside Of You?
mp3 : Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins – Pale Blue Eyes (12″)
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – The Damage Is Done
mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Breaking Point (12″)
mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Change Of Attitude (12″)

mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Stupid Thing (single version)
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Punk Rock Hotel
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Passing Thought (album version)
mp3 : Paul Quinn & Edwyn Collins – Louise Louise
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Nectarine No.9 – Tiger Tiger

Sigh.

MY ALL TIME TOP 10 SINGLES : BREAKING POINT by BOURGIE BOURGIE

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And so to the second appearance for Paul Quinn on this particular chart*, which is not bad going for someone who never troubled any chart when he was a recording artist.

I don’t want to bore regular readers with a blow-by-blow account (again) of the Paul Quinn story and repeat my oft-said opinion about him being the greatest pop singer ever to have come out of Scotland. So here’s the short version…

He was initially the lead singer with the first line-up of Jazzateers, but was relegated to backing vocals while his role was taken on by Graeme Skinner (later to find success with Hipsway) when the material was recorded and released. Then in 1984 came Bourgie Bourgie, an act signed to a major label in the shape of MCA Records and of whom great things were anticipated. Sadly, it only amounted to a couple of majestic singles – Breaking Point and Careless, although I believe there are some tapes in circulation of stuff that was recorded in demo form for an unreleased LP (and if anyone has a copy…….you could get in touch and make me a happy blogger).**

Around the same time, Paul recorded some vocals for Orange Juice, and his efforts can be heard on Tongues Begin To Wag, a b-side to the single I Can’t Help Myself as well as Mud In Your Eye, a track on the LP Rip It Up. Oh and he also does some backing vocals (uncredited) on the hit single of that name…..

1985 was a bit of a prolific year for Paul.

There was a solo deal with Swamplands Records which produced two bits of magic. First there was a duet with Edwyn Collins covering Pale Blue Eyes. Paul sang while Edwyn strummed and plucked his guitar. It’s a song that has been covered by many an artist, but the Quinn/Collins effort is, in my opinion, the definitive version, including that of The Velvet Underground. Then there was a solo single called Ain’t That Always The Way, a song that was also recorded and released as a b-side by Edwyn…

Neither Swamplands single made the charts.

He also recorded One Day, which was a single with Vince Clarke, which was in effect the follow-up to the Top 3 single Never Never by The Assembly (which had featured Fergal Sharkey on vocals). Sadly, it flopped.

Next came the formation of Paul Quinn & The Independent Group on the reincarnated Postcard Records at the beginning of the 1990s. This was a Glasgow super-group of sorts (check out the #37 entry in this chart for more info). Again, there was next to no commercial success…

Aside from an appearance (on backing vocals and with a writing credit) on the 2001 LP You Can Make It If You Boogie by James Kirk, nothing has been heard from Paul in 10 (now 15) years or so as his life became a battle against a particular severe case of Multiple Sclerosis.

I’m not sure why Bourgie Bourgie imploded after just two great singles – whether it was a case of the record company losing faith in the band, or the band just deciding they couldn’t continue, I really have no idea.

Of all the singles I lost in the infamous Edinburgh incident (one on which I lost boxloads of 7″ records), the two by Bourgie Bourgie were missed more than most, and I had to rely on cassette copies for many years. But now, thanks to some burrowing around e-bay, I have both of them in 7” and 12” form. Of the two, Breaking Point remains my firm favourite, and as you can see from its position on this chart, is a song that I think is one of the best of all time – something that should be owned and cherished in millions of households the world over.

It’s not just the stunning vocal performance that makes this such an outstanding record – listen to the fantastic production that sees some great guitar and keyboards work beefed-up by a cello and strings that aren’t a million miles away from the sound that would appear years later on Monkey Gone To Heaven by The Pixies. And wouldn’t you know that Breaking Point was a Kingbird Production…..one of the names used by the soon to be famous Ian Broudie……

mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Breaking Point (Extended Version)
mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Apres Ski (Extended Version)

The band appeared on The Tube one Friday evening with a specially made film of them performing this single. I’ve had the clip on VHS tape for years, but thanks to the great folk who contribute rare and wonderful stuff to youtube (in this case it’s someone calling him/herself parkhill 62), you’ll find it there……

Oh and finally (as I could go on all day and night about this song, band and singer) Breaking Point was almost the name of the blog formerly known as The Vinyl Villain…….

2013 Updates

* Paul Quinn & The Independent Group had featured in the run-down but outside the Top 10

** has since happened!!!!

For one of the best fan-sites out there….click here and spend hours reading absolutely everything that’s ever been written about Paul Quinn.

SORRY ABOUT EARLIER COCK-UP……LINKS NOW ACTIVE.

And here’s a bonus for Keeping It Peel:-

mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Little Red Rooster

As taken from said NME cassette.

Enjoy.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 21-25)

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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(21) Blood Uncles – Let’s Go Crazy b/w Shake : Virgin  7″ (1987)

Consisting of Big John Duncan (ex-Exploited), John Carmichael and Colin McGuire, their debut EP on a local indie lable attracted the interest of Virgin Records.  Their career consisted of two singles, including a frantic cover of a song by Prince, and one LP, none of which got near the charts.  Big John would later be part of the live act that was Nirvana…..

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(22) Bloomsday – Strange Honey b/w Night Storm : Island Records 7″ (1990)

Chris Thompson is one of the great lesser-known talents of the Scottish music scene.  He first came to attention via Friends Again and has made a number of very different albums under the guise of The Bathers.

Back in 1990, he took time to form Bloomsday.  This was a very talented group indeed.  As well as Chris, you’d find Neil Clark on guitars and Stephen Irvine on drums – both had been part of Lloyd Cole & the Commotions.  All songs on the one LP the band released in 1990 – Fortuny – are joint compositions. Oh and for good measure, the bassist on all the records was Mark Bedford of Madness.

It’s a very fine record, albeit parts of it have dated a wee bit.  One day I’ll get round to featuring it on this blog.  In the meantime here’s the one 7″ they released. It was on a major label too – Island Records:-

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(23) BMX Bandits – Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us b/w Thinkin’ ‘Bout You Baby b/w Hole In My Heart (demo) b/w My Generation : Creation Records CD single  (1993)

Read more about BMX Bandits here

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(24) Botany 5 : Love Bomb b/w Satellite : Virgin 7″  (1990)

Botany 5. consisting of Gordon Kerr, Steve Christie and Jason Robertson entered into the studio with the Blue Nile’s Callum Malcolm. The resulting ‘Into The Night’ (1991) was preceded by two well-received singles, ‘Love Bomb’ and ‘Nature Boy’, the group’s mellow meditative soundscapes bearing comparisons with the likes of Talk Talk, The Orb and Animal Nightlife. Before being lost forever to the music business jungle, the Botany 5 trio completed a series of acclaimed live shows aided and abetted by former Orange Juice drummer Zeke Manyika

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(25) Bourgie Bourgie  – Breaking Point b /w Apres Ski: MCA Records 7″ (1984)

Click here for one of the most lovingly put together websites on t’internet.  You can read more about Bourgie Bourgie and everything else that Paul Quinn has ever been involved in here

Readers of old will know just that (25) remains one of my all time favourite pieces of music.