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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


You Had A Kind FaceButcher Boy (Needle Mythology)

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

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

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

mp3: Butcher Boy – I Know Who You Could Be


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

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

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

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

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

mp3: Yard Act – 100% Endurance


Super ChamponOtoboke Beaver (Damnably)

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

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

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

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

Here’s a track from Side A:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – Nabe Party with pocket brothers

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honourable mentions also to:-

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




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.  The CD version has all fifteen tracks included.

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 I am really loving the new compilation, to the extent that not much else is being played on the Villain Towers turntable just now.  The original songs have been given the remastering treatment, at Abbey Road studios no less, to wonderful effect, while the new songs on the bonus 7″ are a real joy, especially as I had long ago given up on hearing anything fresh after the 2017 EP.

Butcher Boy have always made music that is a cut above the ordinary, and You Had A Kind Face is a fitting and deserved release which will hopefully bring more of the attention and fulsome praise that should have been getting heaped on them from the outset.

mp3: Butcher Boy – Sunday Bells

This is one of the three album tracks that you’ll find on the new compilation that I didn’t manage to squeeze onto the ICA back in 2015.  Looking back, I have no idea how that state of affairs came about, but then again, I don’t know which of the other songs it could have replaced.

It was originally included on React or Die, which is probably the band’s true masterpiece and which no serious record collection should be without. What am I saying?   No serious record collection should be without any of the three studio albums, nor the new compilation.



Here’s some good news to brighten up a November morning.

Butcher Boy have been back in the studio in recent times, working on new material that could see the light of day in 2020. If so, it will be the first release since the Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet EP that was issued by Damaged Goods on Record Store Day 2017 – Saturday 22 April – which itself was the first new material in six years.

The 2017 EP consisted of three songs which made up a three-part story told from three perspectives. It was an ambitious effort, with singer/songwriter John Blain Hunt taking his inspiration from what he had seen in his surroundings during some holidays to the Cape Cod area of the USA to which he applied his own fabulous imagination and story-telling skills to compose three faultless tunes that brought out the very best in his long-time bandmates together with a guest vocal from Anna Miles, a mainstay of the music and broadcasting scene in Glasgow. I’ve long wanted to feature the three tracks but have held off on account of it still being available from the website of the record label and my fear that I would be posting them as a eulogy for one of my favourite bands. The news of new material coming over the horizon has changed things:-

mp3 : Butcher Boy – November 1947, Storm Warning In Effect
mp3 : Butcher Boy – July 1950, The Captain is the Whale
mp3 : Butcher Boy – November 1951, Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet

Butcher Boy have always made music that is a cut above the ordinary, but the ambition of these three songs really was on another level. The only sad thing, from a selfish point of view, is that the band haven’t ever aired them in the live setting beyond the one gig, held on Record Store Day 2017, in the unlikely setting of a disused swimming pool in a socially challenged community in Glasgow. It was a show that was very special in terms of location but it provided a unique set of challenges in terms of a live sound given the size, dimensions and acoustics of the venue – the band were set-up in what was the deep end of the pool with the audience sitting high above them.

It really would have been wonderful to hear things in a ‘proper’ venue whose acoustics were better suited to the music – maybe next year, although I’m reliably informed that with it being a logistical nightmare to get everyone together in one place at the one time, there are currently no plans for live gigs to accompany any future physical releases.



It’s coming up for two years since Butcher Boy last put out some new music, in the shape of a 3-track EP for Record Store Day in 2017.

A lot of things have changed for the members of the band in recent years, not least that singer and lead songwriter John Blain Hunt has become a dad. It’s never been officially said, but it may well be that we have seen the last of Butcher Boy, something that’ll sadden a fair number of folk, not least this fanboy. I’m clinging on to the fact that there was a gap of six years between the previous album and the RSD 2017 release, so maybe something will hit the shops before I reach 60 years of age.

In the meantime, in this new(ish) series of mellow Monday tunes, here’s something which lasts less than two minutes, and which gave the title to their second LP back in 2009, the one which a number of members have said they are the most proud of:-

mp3 : Butcher Boy – React or Die




The past few weeks have been a bit frantic and the blog has largely been running on empty, relying on pre-written posts that I’ve pulled out of a file that is kept specially for such purposes.  There were gigs which took place a few weeks ago still not reviewed and with your agreement, I’d like to roll up all of them over the coming three days with lunchtime bonus postings.



It’s been over four years since Butcher Boy last played before a live audience.  This gig, arranged as part of Record Store Day, was to support the release of a new limited edition of 500 3-track EP on 7″ vinyl on Damaged Goods Records.  I had been involved in trying to find a venue that was best suited to the band, preferably one that would bring out the best of their unique, gentle and often fragile chamber-pop sound, but efforts across ten locations in Glasgow came to nothing due to unavailability and in the end it was their guitarist Basil who used contacts to have this highly unusual location pressed into use.

Govanhill Baths was a victorian-era swimming pool closed by the council, amidst much animosity, in 2001.  A community-led campaign has seen the building handed over to a community trust which is trying to raise the tens of millions to bring it back into full use again.  In the meantime, the space is utilised in a number of different ways, including the occasional artistic performance.

The band, literally, played in the deep end of the drained pool and the 120-strong audience sat looking down from rows of seats in the shallow end.  It was quite a surreal setting, especially as the targets for the archery classes which would follow the band’s performance (it was a show timed for 6pm-7pm) were in situ.

What followed will, like every Butcher Boy performance, stay long in the memory.  The line-up was slightly different from before with Anna Miles on flute and backing vocals joining the regulars of Maya Burman-Roy (cello), Alison Eales (keyboards and accordion), Fraser Ford (guitar and keyboards), John Blain Hunt (vocals, acoustic guitar), Findlay MacKinnon (drums), Basil Pieroni (lead guitar and mandolin), Cat Robertson (violin) and Robert Spark (bass and occasional percussion)

The 14-strong setist was superb, drawing from some of the earliest EPs , all three of the studio albums while there were debuts for all the songs released on RSD 2017. My fears of the building not being ideal for sound weren’t realised initially with opening instrumental Every Other Saturday being gorgeously note perfect. However, it soon became clear that the high ceilings and echoey nature of a former swimming pool weren’t conducive to getting the best out of the vocals which often got lost behind the lush orchestration and arrangements. I was lucky in knowing all the songs and being able to follow the lyrics but it must have been tough on those who were seeing the band for the first time. It was a real shame as the contributions from Anna, whose work in the past has also added so much to the studio sound of Adam Stafford, were particularly striking and took the band to a different level again.

Everyone played their part in making for a hugely enjoyable hour on an early Saturday evening, but a special mention to Findlay on drums for staying so magnificently on top of things when the nature of the building was such that it wouldn’t have taken much for him to drown out the subtle sounds of his band mates.

The gig was a resounding success in that all the copies of the single available on the night were sold, although small numbers may still be available on-line or from stores that participated in RSD 2017. The audience capacity for the gig was reached and all profits went to the Baths Trust to support current and future activities.

Very few members of Butcher Boy are full-time musicians and getting them together for live shows is a tricky task, especially with Findlay living in the West Midlands south of the border. It remains to be seen whether more shows will emerge later this year but I’ve no doubt that everyone treated to the Govanhill show wouldn’t hesitate in getting along next time round, no doubt joined by those fans who couldn’t get tickets or who were otherwise engaged on what was a busy weekend, musically in Glasgow.

Set list:

mp3 : Butcher Boy – November 1947 Storm Warning In Effect

Good luck tracking down a copy.


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.




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




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 TeenCanteen 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)




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.


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.


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.


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..


(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….


(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


(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


(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


(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.


(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……..


(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.


(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.