BONUS POST : #79…..BUT A GENUINE FIRST

Butcher Boy are coming out of an extended hibernation and are set to release new material and play a live gig as part of Record Store Day 2017.

A new 3-track EP, on 7″ vinyl in a gatefold sleeve, is being issued by Damaged Goods Records.  It will contain the band version of the song that I was able to draw to your attention last August:-

mp3 : Butcher Boy – November 1951, Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet (strings version)

The other two tracks on the EP are November 1947, Storm Warning In Effect and July 1950, The Captain Is The Whale.  It’s the most ambitious recording the band has undertaken with guest vocalists and a choir joining the regular eight-strong cast.

The details of the supporting gig, at which the new EP will be launched, can be found in the photo at the top of this post.  It is exactly one month today on Saturday 22 April.

As I’ve never been to a show at Govanhill Baths before, it will become the 79th venue I’ve paid money to see a gig at a location in Glasgow, but the first in which the band will be performing, and the audience seated, in what was previously a Victorian-era swimming pool. I’m informed that Butcher Boy will be in the deep end while the 120 seats will look down on them from the shallower parts of the pool.

Tickets for this incredibly unique event can be found at : www.brownpapertickets.com

Can’t wait.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #45 : BUTCHER BOY

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That’s the poster from the first ever gig that I promoted. It was for Butcher Boy (supported by Adam Stafford) and it was to enable the full band to play in support of the release of their third studio LP, Helping Hands.

Imperial was the sole single taken from the album and on the reverse of the 7″ vinyl was a previously unreleased track, one that I’ve never until now put anywhere near the blog as I was keen that folk bought the actual vinyl. Still, its now more than 5 years and so I don’t feel bad about sharing it:-

mp3 : Butcher Boy – Juicy Fruit

Enjoy.

THE RETURN OF BUTCHER BOY

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A wee while back I mentioned that while 2016 had for a long time, in musical terms, looked like being the most appalling year imaginable thanks in the main to so many tragic and unexpected deaths, there were some signs of things taking a turn for the better, such as the decision by Arab Strap to temporarily get back together and play some gigs later this year.

There’s also been a lot to get excited about gigs and records wise with the likes of The Just Joans, Ette, Adam Stafford, Emma Pollock, Randolph’s Leap and Teen Canteen all getting me excited at various points in time while a number of old favourites such as Lloyd Cole, Super Furry Animals and Teenage Fanclub have (or are about to) come up trumps in the live setting while I’ve got my hands on tickets to see The Pixies at the Barrowlands later in the year.

And then yesterday afternoon, at 3pm after a marathon session of crucial meetings at work, I sat down for a belated lunch and browsed the little corner of social media that I engage in.  This came up:-

Today is the fifth anniversary of the release of the last Butcher Boy record.  We wanted to mark the occasion, so here is a new song we recorded.

It’s called November 1951, Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet.

I was stunned.  Only last week I was talking with someone about Butcher Boy bemoaning the fact that we knew the band had been in the studio but there was no indication that anything was going to emerge soon.

But it would seem this has been a bit of a long-term plan with band members kind of sworn to secrecy that the track would appear at this time and in this low-key way.  It certainly grabbed my attention and I reached for the headphones immediately and hit play on the linked video.

My work colleagues in the open plan office must have looked at me with either a degree of curiousity or concern as I’m sure I gasped out loudly within the first few seconds.  And then they must have wondered why it was I got off my chair and went into another meeting room all on my own never taking my eyes away from the small screen.  I certainly was asked if I was OK when I came back into the open plan area some ten minutes later with one person wondering if I’d been given some shock news.

But how do you explain that a band, of whom 99% of my colleagues won’t ever have heard, had just put up a new song online that had not only blown me away with its first few notes but had rendered me speechless on listening to it for the first and then second time back-to-back.

This is a song like nothing else Butcher Boy have before recorded and released. It is haunting, moving, epic and atmospheric.  It is a song on which a number of the band members don’t make an appearance but it is augmented by a number of guest musicians:-

Words and music by Butcher Boy, 2016

Maya Burman-Roy, Alison Eales, Fraser Ford, John Blain Hunt, Findlay Mackinnon, Basil Pieroni, Cat Robertson, Robert Spark

Recorded by Brian McNeill

Second voice – Anna Miles

Additional strings – Jacqui Grant (cello), Kathleen McVey (violin)

Choir – Lindsay McIntyre, Madeleine Schmoll, Maija Sihvola, Hannah Thorley

I’m reliably informed that this is a taster for an EP which is in the pipeline in which there will also be a full band version of the song available.

Can’t wait.

mp3 : Butcher Boy – November 1951, Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet (strings version)

Enjoy

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #17 : BUTCHER BOY

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The image used today brings back a whole bundle of great memories.

The Vinyl Villain blog was about to turn 5 years of age back in the Autumn of 2011. I was looking to do something special and unique to mark the occasion when I learned that one of my favourite but largely unheralded groups had run into some difficulties over a planned show to showcase their new LP and so I decided to step in and offer my services as a promoter.

It was a fantastic if occasionally stressful night for me. Butcher Boy were on magnificent form and delivered a tremendous set that seemed to consist of their greatest songs; it was also the case that having contacted Adam Stafford to ask him to do the honours of support act I got to meet him for the first time and form a friendship that remains in place today.

So, as a belated birthday present to myself, I thought I’d turn the compilation album spotlight on Butcher Boy. Readers of old will be aware of the band as I used to feature them a lot on the defunct blog, but here’s a quick lesson for anyone who need it.

The band was formed by lead singer, guitarist and songwriter John Blain Hunt who was well-known in the Glasgow indie music scene as the organiser of a club night called National Pop League. Their first recordings appeared in 2006 on the How Does It Feel To Be Loved label compilation The Kids at the Club with their debut LP, Profit In Your Poetry, coming out on the same label in April 2007.

I picked up the album at the end of that year having read all sorts of positive things about it online while I was living and working in Canada with reviewers mentioning influences as diverse as The Smiths, Tindersticks, Felt, Belle & Sebastian, R.E.M. and Go-Betweens on many occasions. I quickly fell under its spell and in early 2009 I wrote about it on the blog asking the question if it had been a one-off release as Butcher Boy had seemingly disappeared off the radar. I got an e-mail from one of the band members informing me that a new LP, called React or Die, was coming out in 2009 along with some live shows in some unusual venues across Glasgow. I got myself along to one such venue in a bowling club in February 2009 not far from my house and was knocked out by how good they were in the live setting. I introduced myself to a couple of the band after the gig and soon discovered that they were all incredibly nice people and were genuinely surprised to be getting such incredible support from bloggers such as myself.

Some very firm friendships were formed that night and firmed up over the coming months all of which would ultimately lead to one of the biggest things that has ever happened to me when, in the late summer of 2010 I was asked to come along to the first playing of the rough mixes of what would be the band’s third LP which, due to them looking for a new label. would take nearly another nine months to make it onto the shelves. And when it did, I was humbled and stunned to see my name listed in the list of those being thanked.

Helping Hands came out on Damaged Goods Records in the summer of 2011 but as I mentioned earlier the band were frustrated at not being able to play an initial live show to support it until I stepped in. The next year and a half saw them play, what was for them, a high number of gigs and increase their fanbase on the back of tremendous reviews for Helping Hands, culminating in two very prestigious support slots – one for Belle & Sebastian at the Glasgow Barrowlands and the other for Scritti Politti in London.

The band, which in addition to John Blain Hunt consists of Maya Burman-Roy (cello), Alison Eales (keys), Helena Flint (viola), Fraser Ford (guitars and bass), Findlay MacKinnon (drums), Basil Pieroni (guitar), Cat Robertson (violin) and Robert Spark (bass and guitars) have been quiet for a few years, partly down to John getting married and concentrating a bit more on his day job, but the good news is they were back in the studio earlier this year and new material will hopefully be with us before 2015 is out. In the meantime, here’s my imaginary album.

SIDE A

1. When I’m Asleep (from React or Die, 2009)

A number that has often been used to open gigs (it did so at that first gig I ever saw them play), it is in some ways untypical of the band as it leans heavily on Basil playing the mandolin and Alison’s accordion skills. It’s a slow and lovely number that builds to a marvellous crescendo as the strings, acoustic guitars and piano kick in, all underpinned by some marvellous percussion going on in the background.

2. There Is No-One Who Can Tell Where You’ve Been (from Profit In Your Poetry, 2007)

A tune that is played more than any other within Villain Towers as I’ve taken its first thirty seconds and turned it into a customised ringtone for my mobile phone. All those influences that the early reviewers pinpointed can be heard in its perfect two and a half minutes. It’s also evidence that John is a fine singer although he personally considers that he is merely OK….but what it does highlight is just how talented he is as a musical arranger.

3. Helping Hands (from Helping Hands, 2011)

Standing in the recording studio back in 2010 and hearing this for the first time was a genuine ‘wow’ moment in my life. It was the sound of an already great band taking a giant leap forward and coming up with their epic song. The band’s slow numbers are often built them up in layers and this is no exception with the first minute or so not being anything more than a fragile vocal accompanied by a piano. The next minute or so adds an acoustic guitar and percussion but in a way that you almost have to strain to hear them, and then just before the two-minute mark the strings kick in for a short while before there is a short instrumental break.

The second half of the song continues to expand in texture before the final section of what is now quite clearly a love song on so many levels – to places as well as an individual – goes deep into the richness of what is Tindersticks territory as the strings and regular ‘pop’ instruments blend perfectly and make the most wonderful sounds. My only grumble is that it all ends too quickly….I could have taken another three or four minutes of the closing music very happily.

4. Profit In Your Poetry (from Profit In Your Poetry, 2007)

This is the sort of song that made me really fall for the charms of the band. Basil shows off his guitar playing skills in a cross between Duane Eddy and Chris Isaak and drives along a great piece of indie-pop that is infectiously catchy and impossible not to dance to. Go-Betweens would have been proud of this one….

5. You’re Only Crying For Yourself (from React or Die, 2009)

Another indie-disco belter with Maya’s cello in particular dragging this one along at a fair lick. Best use of the instrument on an indie record since Monkey Gone To Heaven in my humble opinion.

SIDE B

1. Imperial (from Helping Hands, 2011)

The track chosen for release as a physical single and so has a special place in my heart as the only bit of vinyl that I have by Butcher Boy – everything else is on CD or is a download.

While I think it’s a great little bit of pop music, I don’t consider Imperial to be one of the band’s best ten songs but I do think it makes a great upbeat opener for side two of the imaginary album. There’s a fair bit of backing vocals in here which always make me laugh…none of the band are all that keen on singing live and I’ve seen them in rehearsals being cajoled (ahem!!) by John to get their act together before the upcoming gig(s)…..but being true and utmost professionals they always get it right on the night. Well, almost….

2. I Know Who You Could Be (from Profit In Your Poetry, 2007)

Back in 2007-08 there was a now largely forgotten TV series from the USA called Moonlight. It was a ‘paranormal romance drama’ featuring vampires and private detectives! It wasn’t loved by the critics although it attracted a loyal following of almost 8 million viewers. It only lasted one series of 18 episodes before being cancelled.

The reason I mention this is that the final scene in episode 14 closed to the sound of this song…in its entirety. The scene was actually written and shot to fit in with the music which is quite astonishing when you think about it. Evidence that John could easily have found an alternative career as a composer for the entertainment industry.

3. Every Other Saturday (from Helping Hands, 2011)

OK….I’m maybe laying it on thick about John’s composing talents by placing this instrumental at this point on the imaginary album but it fits in perfectly. The band have only released three albums but there’s other bits of music that have been written for special one-off projects including Chic’s Day, for which he wrote a score for its screening at the Glasgow Film Festival in June 2009. (click here for more details). Some, but not all of this music made it onto Helping Hands two years later.

Butcher Boy also played at the Glasgow Short Film Festival in February 2012 when they soundtracked a series of home movies from the 60s and 70s taken by Alexander Ogilvie, the dad of the band’s bass player. There’s a great piece of footage on you tube in which the home movie footage is accompanied by Every Other Saturday

 

4. Keep Your Powder Dry (from Profit In Your Poetry, 2007)

Robert Spark is actually a fairly new recruit to Butcher Boy on bass on the first two albums was played by Garry Hoggan whose contribution to this track is invaluable but which only became clear to me on about the twentieth or so listen.

And that is what I think makes Butcher Boy LPs such great works. You think you’ve heard all there is to a song and then something else grabs your attention – it might only be a couple of unusual sounding notes on one or more instruments or or it might be you pick up on the way the piano, bass or rhythm guitar is being played throughout the track in a way that adds so much to its overall texture as in this catchy, danceable uptempo number.

5. This Kiss Will Marry Us (from React or Die, 2009)

All three albums have closed with melancholic and moving tracks and so too is this imaginary compilation although it’s not an actual album closer. This beautiful love song, tucked away in the middle of the sophomore album is one of John’s best lyrics and he came up with a tune to match. And like the previous song you’ll pick up things and nuances after multiple listens that only add to your enjoyment.

mp3 : Butcher Boy – When I’m Asleep
mp3 : Butcher Boy – There Is No-one Who Can Tell Where You’ve Been
mp3 : Butcher Boy – Helping Hands
mp3 : Butcher Boy – Profit In Your Poetry
mp3 : Butcher Boy – You’re Only Crying For Yourself
mp3 : Butcher Boy – Imperial
mp3 : Butcher Boy – I Know Who You Could Be
mp3 : Butcher Boy – Every Other Saturday
mp3 : Butcher Boy – Keep Your Powder Dry
mp3 : Butcher Boy – This Kiss Will Marry Us

Enjoy. I most certainly do.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Parts 28-35)

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 or more at a time from the archives..

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(28) Butcher Boy – Imperial b/w Juicy Fruit : Damaged Goods 7″ (2011)

One of my all time favourite bands.  That I was able to promote one of their gigs in Glasgow in 2011 will always be a memory to treasure.  

This is the thing they’ve ever made available on vinyl.  Still not prepared to make Juicy Fruit available on the blog as the 500 copies of the single have never sold out….

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(29) Captain America – Flame On b/w Buttermilk b/w Indian Summer : Paperhouse Records CD (1992)

Between calling themselves Captain America and ripping off the logo from a chain store, it can’t come as too much of a surprise that all sorts of injunctions soon forced changes and led to this 1992 single being deleted very very quickly. Captain America arose from the ashes of The Vaselines and sound a bit like the way Teenage Fanclub sounded in 1992.  The name was soon changed to Eugenuis which was the nickname some had given to frontman Eugene Kelly

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(30) Champion Doug Veitch  – Margarita b/w Margarita (Mix Mescales)  b/w One Black Night (remix) : Conga Records 12″ single  (1986)

Read more about Champion Doug Veitch here

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(31) Cinematics – Be In The World (demo) : Promo one-sided 7″ bought at a gig when band supported Editors : (2005)

Read more about  Cinematics here

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(32) Clare Grogan – Love Bomb (extended) b/w Love Bomb (dub) ; Love Bomb b/w I Love The Way You Beg : London Records 12 ” and 7″ singles (1987)

The ill-fated solo single that featured a few times over at the old blog…..and always with an apology.  Written and recorded with the help of Davey Henderson (ex- Fire Engines and Win (etc!!) this was a huge flope and led to an LP that was already in the can being shelved.  That more or less was the end of Clare’s musical career – tv and the stage awaited before the 21st Century phenomena of Rewind Festivals and appearances singing the old hits from the Altered Images days.

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(33) Clean George IV – First Blast Of The Trumpet Against The Monstrous Regiment Of Women b/w The Great Highland Crack Epidemic (Black Spring Recordings 2007)

As written back in 2007 when this single was first mentioned on TVV:-

Clean George IV make a kind of racket they like to call ‘pop-rock’.  Originally from Edinburgh they have been together for around a year (in various guises/lineups), have already supported Babyshambles and Clor and count Bloc Party’s singer, Kele Okereke, and drummer, Matt Tong, among their fans, as well as a veritable legion of other indie players…

They comprise of mainman/flagship George McFall and various musicians stolen from other bands. They say they are equal parts Eno, Devo, Erasure and Country (Big).

It was one of the other bloggers who alerted me to this.  Could very well have been Ed over at 17 Seconds.  Saw it in a shop soon after and bought it.

Hugely misogynist title.  Don’t take it literally……..

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(34) Close Lobsters – Going To Heaven To See If It Rains b/w Boys and Girls : Fire Records 7″ (1986)

I used to have a copy of this 7″ single but alas haven’t seen it in the collection for ages. Must have loaned it out and forgot all about it. I’m terrible for doing that with vinyl and books:- mp3 : The Close Lobsters – Going To Heaven To See If It Rains mp3 : The Close Lobsters – Boys and Girls Released in October 1986, this was the debut single. Still sounds great after all these years. Both sides of the single. Please don’t argue

Read more about Close Lobsters here.

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(35) Cocteau Twins –  Bluebeard b/w Three Swept b/w Ice-Pulse b/w Bluebeard (acoustic) : Fontana CD (1994)

Read more about Cocteau Twins here.

2013 Update

It takes about three times as long to pull out and paste pieces from the archives as it does to put a new post together thanks to the the search engine to the archives taking forever.  This particular post has been a brute.