THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (9)

R-757157-1207340634.jpegR-757157-1207340669.jpeg

I hadn’t forgotten about this series but the posts involved are time-consuming and I’ve sort of been distracted by the even more time-consuming Imaginary Compilation Albums in recent times.

Pogo A Go Go was made available, via mail order, by the NME in 1986. It featured nineteen tracks from the punk/new wave era

Echorich is a big supporter of this blog, and when I put the first of this series up away back in January 2015 he left the following comment:-

“My favorite freebies will hopefully find their way to this series – NME’s Rough Trade C81, Dancin’ Master and Jive Wire cassettes. These three set the standard for me. “

Happy to oblige amigo.

Side One

mp3 : Thompson Twins – In The Name Of Love
mp3 : David Gamson – No Turn On Red
mp3 : Leisure Process – Love Cascade
mp3 : Buzzz – Tonight’s Alright
mp3 : Pigbag – A Live Orangutango
mp3 : Aswad – Ghetto In The Sky
mp3 : Scritti Politti – Asylums In Jerusalem
mp3 : The Beat – Get A Job / Stand Down Margaret
mp3 : Gil Scott-Heron – B-Movie

Side Two

mp3 : Suicide – Dream Baby Dream
mp3 : Kraftwerk – Das Model
mp3 : Altered Images – Happy Birthday
mp3 : Theatre of Hate – Dreams Of Poppies
mp3 : The Gun Club – Ghost On The Highway
mp3 : Tav Falco’s Panther Burns – Ms. Froggy
mp3 : Black Uhuru – Happiness
mp3 : Defunkt – Illusions
mp3 : Rip Rig & Panic – Billy Eckstein’s Shirt Collar
mp3 : Carmel – Storm
mp3 : Vic Godard & Subway Sect – Just In Time
mp3 : Pablo – Madaleina

mp3 : Hidden track (rap/hip hop ad for NME)

It’s a real ragtag of a compilation and I’d be surprised if anyone who sent away for it (this was another of the NME mail-order offers) would have liked all 21 tracks.

There were bona-fide chart smashes with Altered Images and Kraftwerk (albeit the tape has the original German lyric for The Model). Politics was represented on both sides of the Atlantic with the still wonderful sounding Gil Scott Heron‘s attack on Reaganomics and The Beat‘s live medley that reflected life under Thatcher. There was music to swung your hips to and in particular David Gamson giving an early indication of the pop-style he would bring to later material from the then uber-indie Scritti Politti, and not forgetting a little bit of easy listening jazz that the style mags of the time were telling us would be dominating our listening habits for the rest of the decade – step forward Ms Carmel McCourt.

There’s also a couple of things that are soooooooo 80s and of their time – Leisure Process and The Thompson Twins stand accused and found guilty (although in the case of the former they get let off as they feature the bloke who was the lead singer in Glasgow new wavers Positive Noise).

Reggae, rockabilly and easy listening are also represented while there’s a couple of songs that were and remain, to my ears, just unlistenable – I’m talking in particular about Rip Rig and Panic and Defunkt. Oh and the hidden gem on the tape is the song by The Gun Club.

I kind of get the feeling that this was a tape in which every NME staffer got to choose one song or act that they were listening to at the time and as a result it is more disjointed than most.  But it does have about half a dozen that have stood up to the test of passing time….

Enjoy.

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (8d)

rubytrax
Concluding the look back at Ruby Trax.  Here’s songs 31-40:-

Sunny Afternoon   #1 for The Kinks in 1966, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Bob Geldof

If Ruby Trax had come out a few years later then I’m certain this would have been handed to anyone of a number of Britpop acts who would have been thrilled to have a go.  Instead, it was the responsibility of the ex-Boomtown Rat and Live Aid founder which made a bit of sense as his vocal style isn’t too dissimilar from Ray Davies.  It’s a song I love and having initially not been convinced of this cover I’m happy to admit I’ve slowly been won over.

Tainted Love  #1 for Soft Cell in 1981, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Inspiral Carpets

A song originally written and released in 1965, the Inspiral Carpets do a cracking job in turning it into something they can rightly claim as their own as it owes nothing to either Gloria Jones or Marc Almond/David Ball.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly  #1 for Hugo Montenegro in 1968, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Johnny Marr & Billy Duffy

Nope….it’s not a misprint on my part.  The tune, famously composed by Ennio Morricone, was taken to #1 two years after the movie’s release with a cover version.  It is a tune that it is instantly recognisable and has been used so often as the backdrop to scenes set in the American desert in popular culture this past near fifty years.

Johnny Marr teams up with his old gunslinger partner of days of old and between them they deliver something quite remarkable and astonishing.  It sounds at times like a Smiths instrumental and at times like an Electronic outtake and at other times it is unmistakably Ennio Morricone.  And it lasts twice as long as the original version. I love it…..

The Legend of Xanadu   #1 for Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick and Titch in 1968, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Fall

A strange song to begin and so it’s a bit disappointing that this was the one allocated to or chosen by Mark E Smith.  A band that could be so inventive with their own material or indeed cover versions and this sounds as if they are just going through the motions. Disappointingly dull.

The Model   #1 for Kraftwerk in 1982, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Ride

Yup. Ride.  The kings of shoegazing do all electronic on us.

Remember back in part one of the series I mentioned how Tears for Fears did something akin to a 1970s Top of The Pops take on Ashes to Ashes? Well….the same thing could very much be levelled at Ride even down to what at times sounds as if they are trying to replicate the broken-English vocals from Kraftwerk.

The difference of course is that this is Ride as you’ve never heard them before and it is so unexpected that it borders on the brilliant.  Go on, play it someone who doesn’t know they ever covered this song and I bet it will take them hours to come up with the right answer.

Vienna   #2 for Ultravox in 1982, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Vic Reeves

The only non #1 on Ruby Trax.  If you enjoy the surreal and occasionally childish humour of Vic Reeves then you’ll appreciate this comedic take on the po-faced hit single.  It comes with totally different lyrics across the verses and it very much et the template for the impressionist round in the TV series Shooting Stars when it first aired in 1995

Voodoo Chile   #1 for Jimi Hendrix in 1970, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Jesus Jones

Jesus Jones, even back in 1992, were not to everyone’s tastes and well also deemed guilty by many of having sold out to American audiences and so it was a brave move on their part to take such a well-known track by of the American guitar gods and put their own mark on proceedings.  It is a radical re-working of the song and on an album where quite a few played it safe they must be applauded.  But I’m not sure that it actually works….

When Will I See You Again?   #1 for The Three Degrees in 1974, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Billy Bragg

There’s something very ironic that Billy covers a track from a group that was widely reported to be the favourite of the 20-something Prince Charles.  I love Billy Bragg to bits….I’ll even find a way to defend his ‘weaker’ solo records but this is just awful.

Where Do You Go To My Lovely?   #1 for Peter Sarstedt in 1969, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Welfare Heroine

I had to dig deep to get the info on this cover.  The original I knew told the tale of Marie-Claire who, having grown up in poverty in Naples, has somehow become a member of the jet set and living in some style in Paris.  It owed a lot of its success to the very French sounding accordion and that there was a lot of love in the air for the songs of Serge Gainsbourg and if it hadn’t been for the fact that a follow-up single went Top 10 a few months later then Peter Sarstedt would have been a very clear one-hit wonder.

But who were Welfare Heroine?

If you go into Discogs you’ll find music released under that name that can be attributed to an Oakland-based composer Joseph Hornoff.  But the Ruby Trax lot have nothing to do with him.

Instead this was a band, fronted by NME writer Dele Fadele, accompanied on guitar by a photographer called Stefan de Batselier and backed by members of This Mortal Coil.   It would seem this is all they ever got down for commercial release.  And it’s not at all shabby.

World Without Love    #1 for Peter & Gordon in 1964, it was covered for Ruby Trax by World Party

A Paul McCartney song, that he wrote at the age of 16, that was rejected a number of years later for The Beatles by John Lennon.  But such was their pulling power that a sub-standard track hit #1 on 23 April 1964 bringing an end the three-week reign of Can’t Buy Me Love…….

World Party, who were riding high at the time in critical terms without ever really making a huge commercial breakthrough, do a very competent take on it making it sound very much like a song of their own.

mp3 : Bob Geldof – Sunny Afternoon
mp3 : Inspiral Carpets – Tainted Love
mp3 : Johnny Marr & Bily Duffy – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
mp3 : The Fall – The Legend Of Xanadu
mp3 : Ride – The Model
mp3 : Vic Reeves – Vienna
mp3 : Jesus Jones – Voodoo Chile
mp3 : Billy Bragg – When Will I See You Again?
mp3 : Welfare Herione – Where Do You Go To My Lovely?
mp3 : World Party – World Without Love

And that brings an end to this look back at Ruby Trax.

Normal service resumes next week.

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (8c)

rubytrax
Returning to look back at Ruby Trax.  Here’s songs 21-30:-

Maggie May  #1 for Rod Stewart in 1971, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Blur

It’s hard to imagine now but Blur would only have been an afterthought in terms of who was most sought after for appearing on Ruby oTrax.  They had enjoyed some success with the debut LP the previous year but their most recent single Popscene had bombed somewhat and the live shows were playing to half empty venues.  It’s no surprise therefore that the cover version feels a bit limp and half-hearted from a band that was very low on confidence.

Mr Tambourine Man   #1 for The Byrds in 1965, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Teenage Fanclub

A cover of a cover.

The Byrds had taken a Bob Dylan song and reduced it in length from five-and-a-half minutes to less than two-and-a-half minutes by cutting out most of the original versus.  The Fannies stick with a very faithful take on the shorter version of the song which is no real surprise given how much of an influence the 60s Rickenbacker guitar sound had on the band’s most recent material which had been hailed as the next great thing by the critics.  Great stuff if you like Teenage Fanclub but probably not much cop if you’re not a fan.

My Sweet Lord  #1 for George Harrison in 1971, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Boy George

A cover of a cover??

Being a young kid, not quite eight years of age, this is one of the first musical memories I have from listening to the radio which was mostly done first thing in the morning on the way to school or on Sundays when there was no television programmes to like.  It appealed to the kid in me but within a number of years as I developed my own tastes in music I grew to dislike it immensely. And given that I still find it rather awful to listen to and throw in my view that Boy George is another whose talents I consider to be hugely overrated then this is one that I’m glad the day the skip button was invented.

Oh and of course the reason for the question up above is that Harrison was later found, in what was very much a test case, to have infringed copyright law by plagiarising He’s So Fine, a hit for The Chiffons back in 1963.

Ring My Bell : #1 for Anita Ward in 1979, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Tori Amos

This is another one of the big surprises on the album.

The original was a lightweight disco hit that had owed much to of its success to what in the day had been innovative chimes and electronic drums with a lyric that was actually written for an 11-year old teenybop artist about teenagers talking all the time on the phone.

Tori Amos provides what can only be described as a very adult performance loaded with sexual innuendo and delivered in a way that leaves you in no doubt that this is one very horny lady ready to pounce on her man. Think Kathleen Turner in BodyHeat….

Rock Your Baby   #1 for George McCrae in 1974, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The House Of Love

A second successive disco number for your enjoyment and again it is turned inside out and almost out of all recognition.  There’s still that disco beat in the background but its given the indiepop treatment and turned into something which was very contemporary for 1992.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the song is one of the biggest selling of all time in terms of worldwide sales – 11 million physical copies of the single saw it reach #1 in countless countries – then you’d probably have taken it for a House of Love original.

Secret Love  #1 for Doris Day in 1954, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Sinead O’Connor

From the movie soundtrack Calamity Jane, the original was a ballad that would later be re-recorded in a really upbeat style in 1964 and go Top 3 for Kathy Kirby, one of the most famous mainstream female singers of that era in the UK. Over the [ast 50 years it has also been covered in many different styles including pop, disco, classical, folk, country and soul, by all sort of singers of both sexes.  Sinead takes us down the swing route and is more than decent if that sort of sound floats your boat.

Shaddap You Face   #1 for Joe Dolce Music Theatre in 1981, it was covered for Ruby Trax by EMF

Taken to #1 in more than ten countries by an American-born singer who just two years previously had moved to Australia and yet I bet most folk will think it was the work of an Italian trying to sing in a non-native language.  There is so much just wrong with the whole notion of this song – here in the UK we now cringe at some of the ‘comedy’ and ‘variety’ of the 70s and 80s where actors blacked up and adopted accents in the name of entertainment – and it’s not really different here.

It is totally unrecognisable in the hands of EMF, a band that were at the forefront of efforts in the UK to mix dance/techno with rock and pop.  They weren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I was an admirer if not a committed fan.

Show You The Way To Go  #1 for The Jacksons in 1977, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Danni Minogue

The NME has always had an annoying habit of grafting an unlikely pop icons onto its various releases and in this instance it was the youngest Minogue sister whose debut LP had hung around the pop charts for much of 1991 spawning five singles though when I look at the song titles I can’t recall any of them.

Seems apt then that the cover chosen was another song of which I had no recollection whatsoever. Even when I looked it up and read that it had been the only UK #1 for The Jacksons it still drew a blank. Looked it up on watched it on you tube….and nope, I’m still none the wiser.

Stranger In Paradise  #1 for Tony Bennett in 1955, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Saint Etienne

The song was written in 1953 as part of the Broadway stage musical Kismet which was turned into a film in 1955, the same year it came to London theatres.  Quite unbelievably, such was the public thirst for this song that six different versions charted hit the Top 20 in 1955, five of which were vocal efforts with the other an instrumental.

The original is very much of its age and so full credit to Saint Etienne for doing a reasonably modern take on it while remaining true to its roots.  Having said that, its one of the most disappointing songs on Ruby Trax as I was expecting so much more on the back of the band’s previous efforts at covers.

Suicide Is Painless  #1 for The Mash in 1980 it was covered for Ruby Trax by Manic Street Preachers

The story behind this song is quite astonishing.

It is of course the theme song for the movie and TV series M*A*S*H.  The film had been released in 1970 and the song was conceived initially for a scene in which Private Seidman would sing during the faux suicide of his colleague Private Waldowski.  The movie director, Robert Altman, insisted that the song had to be called Suicide Is Painless and that it had to be a stupid song to fit in with his vision for the scene. He had a go at writing something himself to fit with the tune composed by Johnny Mandel but having failed miserably he asked his 14-year old son to have a go…..it took Mike Altman all of five minutes according to folklore.

Ten years later, with the TV series at the height of its popularity, the song was given a belated single release in the UK and went to #1, the vocalists being four uncredited session singers from the day.

As mentioned the day before yesterday, this was the track chosen as a 45 to promote the album and it gave Manic Street Preachers their first experience of the Top 10.  Given that three years later Richie Edwards would disappear without a trace and then in 2008 be declared as presumed dead, it now looks as if it was a highly inappropriate choice of song to cover….but hindsight is a very easy thing to use.

mp3 : Blur – Maggie May
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Mr Tambourine Man
mp3 : Boy George – My Sweet Lord
mp3 : Tori Amos – Ring My Bell
mp3 : The House Of Love – Rock Your Baby
mp3 : Sinead O’Connor – Secret Love
mp3 : EMF – Shaddap You Face
mp3 : Danni Minogue – Show You The Way To Go
mp3 : Saint Etienne – Stranger In Paradise
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – Suicide Is Painless

The fourth and final part of the series is here tomorrow

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (8b)

rubytrax
Continuing with the look back at Ruby Trax.  Here’s songs 11-20:-

Down Down  #1 for Status Quo in 1975, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Cud

Cud were a much-loved outfit among the indie cognoscenti back in the early 90s. They had finally managed, after a number of years, to get onto a major label and with its backing crack the singles charts, albeit in the lower end of the charts rather than smash hits end.  I personally never fell for the charms of Cud and anything I have of theirs has come via inclusion of compilation albums or more recently from downloading via blogs.

I think their take on the famous 12-bar boogie hit Quo demonstrates where the problem lies.  It’ not that it’s a bad effort – it diverges enough to sound more like Cud than the Quo particularly with the occasional changes in pace – but not enough to warrant more than a couple of listens before becoming all too dull

Everything I Do (I Do It For You)    #1 for Bryan Adams in 1991, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Fatima Mansions

The very inclusion of this song must have raised eyebrows.  It had spent 16 weeks at #1 in the UK the previous year and had become hugely symbolic of everything that was wrong with pop and chart music at that point in history.  It was a soppy, sentimental ballad that soundtracked a hit movie starring the then biggest box office draw in Hollywood.  Even when the radio stations stopped playing it, the sales still mounted up as folk came out of the cinema and headed the next day into the record shops.  To steal a phrase from my dear friends from the States….this song sucks.

So there was nobody better placed than Cathal Coughlan and his band of outlaws to offer their sleazy, jazz/hip-hop fusion take on it.  To steal it back from the tasteless rich and give it back to those in need of quality music. And it gave the band a Top 10 hit!!

Yup….to help publicise Ruby Trax it was decided to issue a 45 with Manic Street Preachers take on The Theme From M.A.S.H. selected for task. The Fatima Mansions were selected as the other track for the double-A release (knowing fine well that radio stations would completely ignore it!) but it enabled them to claim success…and in the same way that a few years previously when an MME charity single had put Wet Wet Wet on one side and an unexpected #1 placing for Billy Bragg.

Bloody Marvellous.

Go Now  #1 for The Moody Blues in 1965, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Tin Machine

I am so sorry that for completeness sake this has to be included.  It’s just downright awful.  It’s a live version, the vocal is from Tony Sales and it makes your ears bleed.

I Feel Love #1 for Donna Summer in 1977, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Curve

Going straight from the ridiculous to the sublime.  One of the greatest singles of all time….not that I immediately recognised that fact back in 1977….given a stunning goth disco makeover by a band that had just burst onto the scene but who would sadly never turn their talent and critical acclaim into commercial success.

Turn this one up loud and get dancing.

(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice  #1 for Amen Corner in 1969, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Aztec Camera & Andy Fairweather-Low

This is an interesting one.

Aztec Camera were long removed from their indie beginnings.  Roddy Frame was now increasingly writing and recording mature, acoustic numbers that were sometimes brilliant but all too often toppled over into what has since been described as dad-rock.  He had already tipped his hat to this song by writing and recording a song called Paradise on the hugely succesful Love album back in 1987 and for the charity recording he went two steps further – the first being to decide to cover the song that he had  referenced back in 1987 and the second to ask the man whose vocal had helped take it to #1 in 1969 to join him on the track.

The song was originally written in Italian where it had been a huge success and when translated into English became the fifth successive hit single for Amen Corner, a band from Cardiff in Wales who were all in their early 2os but played with a maturity that belied their years…..sort of similar to Mr Frame himself.

I’m A Believer #1 for The Monkees in 1967, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Frank & Walters

Those of you who are an age with me will have grown up with The Monkees thanks to their shows being endlessly repeated during the couple of hours that BBC1 dedicated daily to children’s TV in the 70s – it was a period just when you got home from school and it stopped when the evening news came on.

All of their hit songs were therefore very well-known and none better than I’m A Believer, a track originally written and recorded by Neil Diamond.  It had been covered before its inclusion on Ruby Trax and it would be covered again by other singers and bands in later years.  It is also very much a staple of the karaoke scene.

It’s such a brilliantly simple composition that it is near impossible, provided you stick to the formula, to do anything wrong with it.  The Frank & Walters – another band who really deserved to be much more successful and famous than it turned out for them – give us a faithful enough interpretation to be enjoyable.

I’ve Never Been To Me #1 for Charlene in 1982, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

The original, which had been released in 1977 but only became a hit five years later after it what would be described today as going viral on the back of it being played constantly by a DJ at a radio station in Tampa, Florida.  The song, which is atypical of the playlists you find on easy-listening stations, proved to be a worldwide hit but the only success that Charlene ever experienced.  A genuine bona-fide one-hit wonder.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin do all sorts of strange and occasionally wonderful things to the song and for 99% of the time it is completely unrecognisable.  Even the vocal doesn’t register for the most part.  And here’s the rub…it doesn’t even sound all that much like too many other tracks the band recorded during their career.

This was one that I thought I’d hate given the low regard I had for the original, but its one of my favourites on the compilation.

Lady Madonna  #1 for The Beatles in 1968, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Kingmaker

Back in 1992, Kingmaker appeared to be on the cusp of something big. They had picked up a sizeable following in the old-fashioned way of constant touring and were beginning to make an impact on the mainstream charts.  It made perfect sense therefore to have them on Ruby Trax and select them as the band to have a stab at a Beatles number…that they chose the one that had, within its title, the name of the biggest and most succesful pop artist in the world was probably a bit of an in-joke.

Like a number of other efforts on this compilation, the band played it reasonably safe with their interpretation and just about got away with something passable.  History shows however, that within three years the fickle world of indie pop had all but turned its back on Kingmaker.

Like A Prayer  #1 for Madonna in 1989, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Marc Almond

I can just imagine the sense of excitement in the NME offices when word came through that Madonna’s people were OK with one of her biggest hits being given the green light for Ruby Trax.  But how best to do justice to a song that was OTT in so many ways with its mix of pop, dance and gospel not to mention a still reasonably fresh controversy over a video that had depicted a racist murder by the Klu Klux Klan and the appearance of a black saint.

The answer was to send for Marc Almond who had a great history when it came to cover versions.  And he doesn’t disappoint adding more than a touch of soul and camp to the number so that it sounds like one own. And listen closely for the quick inclusion of The Theme From Mission Impossible that is thrown in at just after the 4 min mark…

Little Red Rooster  #1 for The Rolling Stones in 1964 , it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Jesus & Mary Chain

Fact: Little Red Rooster is the only time a blues song has topped the singles chart in the UK which it did for one week in December 1964.  It had originally been recorded three years earlier by Howlin’ Wolf and like many famous blues songs it contains a highly ambiguous lyric.  Yup, it could very well be innocent enough about a farmyard animal whose task was to waken every up as the sun rose, but then again the Rolling Stones version was banned from being released as a single in the USA….despite an earlier version by Sam Cooke being given the OK.  But then again, the Stones were the bad boys of rock’n’pop in those days….just as the JAMC had been when they had first burst onto the scene.

And the boys from East Kilbride more than do it justice with another of the best efforts on the album.

mp3 : Cud – Down Down
mp3 : The Fatima Mansions – Everything I Do (I Do It For You)
mp3 : Tin Machine – Go Now
mp3 : Curve – I Feel Love
mp3 : Aztec Camera & Andy Fairweather Low – (If Paradise) Is Half As Nice
mp3 : The Frank & Walters – I’m A Believer
mp3 : Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – I’ve Never Been To Me
mp3 : Kingmaker – Lady Madonna
mp3 : Marc Almond – Like A Prayer
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Little Red Rooster

Feel free to drop in tomorrow for the next instalment of this short series.

 

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (8a)

rubytrax
I was always intending to have an in-depth look at the subject matter of today’s and the next few days worth of postings but it has been accelerated by many readers declaring their love for cover versions when S-WC asked for some help this time last week.

The NME celebrated 40 years of being at the forefront of music journalism in the UK with the release of Ruby Trax in November 1992.  Subtitled “The NME’s Roaring 40” It consisted of 40 cover versions of (mostly) #1 singles with many of the contributors being among the top indie bands of the time or indeed well established bona-fide chart acts with only a handful by a singer/band who never made it.

Ruby Trax was released in three formats: vinyl (3 x albums),  cassette (2 x tapes) and compact disc (3 x discs). I’ve no doubt that those responsible took great time to deliberate over the best running order but I’m going to blow all that out of the water over the next four days by taking ten tracks at a time and featuring them in alphabetical order by song title. Here’s your first ten…..

Another Brick In The Wall  #1 for Pink Floyd in 1979, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Carter USM.

Carter USM were one of the biggest bands in the UK in 1992 with a #1 LP under the belts as well as six successive Top 30 singles.  They turned this despairing rock classic into something which wouldn’t have been out-of-place on any of their own records…with a little bit of additional swearing to get you joining in. Unlike many of the other acts who got involved with Ruby Trax, Carter USM didn’t make the track available elsewhere on a b-side which meant their considerable fan base would have been forced to buy the album or CD, which given all the proceeds went to charity, was no bad thing.

Apache  #1 for The Shadows in 1960, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Senseless Things

An instrumental number (naturally given who took it to #1 back in the days), it’s a piece of music that you’ll find if you look up the wiki page, has been given the cover treatment on numerous occasions and in ways that seem intriguing. It’s a pity that this version, by a band whose star was on the wane by the time of its release, is very much on the dull side.

Ashes to Ashes  #1 for David Bowie in 1980, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Tears For Fears

It’s a bit of a pity that I’ve gone for the alphabetical approach one of the dullest versions is immediately followed by what is quite simply the most dreadful and appalling version.

Quite simply, this would fit perfectly one of those Top Of The Pops 1970s compilations that so many of us ‘fondly’ remember when, pre K-Tel Records, the only way to get affordable LPs offering the hits of the day was to buy a record in which session musicians did their best to recreate the sounds of the superstars. This particular cover version is ghastly…..a note for note (musically and vocally) awful tribute to Bowie.

Atomic   #1 for Blondie in 1980, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Mission

While this version is very much recognisable as the mighty Atomic it’s not obvious that it is being performed by The Mission.  There’s nothing goth or rock about it and it almost feels a bit like the band were going through the motions for the sake of being on the charity record…but it is one of those songs that is worthy of a few listens to get a better picture.  It is quite a bit slower than the original and there’s some nice fiddly-electronics added in for good effect.  It’s certainly a lot better than the later version recorded by Sleeper for the Trainspotting soundtrack

Baby Come Back   #1 for The Equals in 1968, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Elektric Music

This is one of the most unusual takes of any of the songs covered on Ruby Trax.

Elektric Music was a new act for 1992 but it was the work of a very experienced and highly influential musician in the shape of Karl Bartos who had left Kraftwerk just a couple of years previously.  At the time it would have appeared quite a futuristic sounding number but it has rather dated over the past twenty-plus years, but if you can cast your mind back to the early 90s and listen to it in that context then you’ll probably enjoy it.

Bad Moon Rising   #1 for Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Blue Aeroplanes

This is another song that has been widely covered in a variety of styles over the years but it is so famous in its original form that the new versions are usually found wanting.  The Blue Aeroplanes had been around for quite some time without ever really making any great inroads and their invitation to participate in this project does seem strange.  They do their own thing – i.e.. make a guitar-heavy song that could pass for a pub band doing a cover down a social club near you. They also made the track available on an EP release of their own in 1995.

Brass In Pocket  #1 for The Pretenders in 1980, it was covered for Ruby Trax by Suede

One of the great highlights of Ruby Trax.  That is of course if you’re a fan of Suede….if you’ve no time for that particular band you’ll probably have no time for it.  This was a band on the cusp of something very special on the back of just a couple of singles but they had a lead singer who was loved and loathed in equal measure.  Brett Anderson must have loved being given the chance to sing to the world that he was soooooo special.

Coz I Luv You  #1 for Slade in 1971, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Wonder Stuff

The Wonder Stuff were also one of the biggest bands in the UK in 1992 – they were certainly one of the best live acts of the era. I’m guessing they wanted to cover Slade given that both bands hailed from the same area and had neither had ever hidden their pride of being from the Black Country in the West Midlands.

Both were bands that relied on a string instrument as a key part of their sound; indeed it was the electric violin as much as the glam-rock stomp chorus and fade-out that had made Coz I Luv You so massive back in the days – it is certainly a song that lodged in my memory as an 8-year old and I can sill sing along knowing all the words decades later. As such, it made perfect sense for The Stuffies, with their use of the talents of Martin Bell on the fiddle, to go with this song.

It won’t be to everyone’s tastes but I do have a soft spot for it.

Cumberland Gap  #1 for Lonnie Donegan in 1957, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Wedding Present

In many ways, this cover is typically David Gedge as it is so unexpected.

Cumberland Gap was most likely written as a folk song in the late 19th century with its first known recording dating back as far as 1924.  All sorts of American folk and bluegrass artists, including Woody Guthrie, had put it down on record, but it only came to prominence in 1957 when Lonnie Donegan did a skiffle version that spent five weeks at the top of the charts.

The Wedding Present do a Wedding Present number on it.  And its all over in just 90 breathless seconds.

Don’t You Want Me   #1 for The Human League in 1981, it was covered for Ruby Trax by The Farm

The Farm had spent years languishing in obscurity before hitching a ride on the baggy train from 1989-1991 and enjoying a fair degree of chart success.  However, by the following year they were very much on the slide with their singles were failing to hit the Top 40, the critics rounding on them and their fans turning their attention elsewhere.

As they had a talented female co-vocalist in their line up at the time, it made sense to have a stab at what is still one of the most loved and recognisable pop hits of all time.  I personally think it sounds like a drunken couple having a laugh on the karaoke machine but I’m clearly in a minority as the band released it as a single that went Top 20 in the UK….the very last time The Farm would trouble the charts until a 2004 charity release of a remix of their big hit Altogether Now.

mp3 : Carter USM – Another Brick In The Wall
mp3 : Senseless Things – Apache
mp3 : Tears For Fears – Ashes To Ashes
mp3 : The Mission – Atomic
mp3 : Elektric Music – Baby Come Back
mp3 : The Blue Aeroplanes – Bad Moon Rising
mp3 : Suede : Brass In Pocket
mp3 : The Wonder Stuff – Coz I Luv You
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Cumberland Gap
mp3 : The Farm – Don’t You Want Me

The remainder of Ruby Trax will appear over the coming three days.

Enjoy

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (5)

R-757157-1207340634.jpegR-757157-1207340669.jpeg

Echorich is a big supporter of this blog, and when I put the first of this series up back in January he left the following comment:-

“My favorite freebies will hopefully find their way to this series – NME’s Rough Trade C81, Dancin’ Master and Jive Wire cassettes. These three set the standard for me. This Mojo release is a good one for sure and I have to agree that when the brief is to cover a single artist/band or album, these freebies are the most successful.”

Happy to oblige amigo.

Side One

mp3 : Thompson Twins – In The Name Of Love
mp3 : David Gamson – No Turn On Red
mp3 : Leisure Process – Love Cascade
mp3 : Buzzz – Tonight’s Alright
mp3 : Pigbag – A Live Orangutango
mp3 : Aswad – Ghetto In The Sky
mp3 : Scritti Politti – Asylums In Jerusalem
mp3 : The Beat – Get A Job / Stand Down Margaret
mp3 : Gil Scott-Heron – B-Movie

Side Two

mp3 : Suicide – Dream Baby Dream
mp3 : Kraftwerk – Das Model
mp3 : Altered Images – Happy Birthday
mp3 : Theatre of Hate – Dreams Of Poppies
mp3 : The Gun Club – Ghost On The Highway
mp3 : Tav Falco’s Panther Burns – Ms. Froggy
mp3 : Black Uhuru – Happiness
mp3 : Defunkt – Illusions
mp3 : Rip Rig & Panic – Billy Eckstein’s Shirt Collar
mp3 : Carmel – Storm
mp3 : Vic Godard & Subway Sect – Just In Time
mp3 : Pablo – Madaleina

mp3 : Hidden track (rap/hip hop ad for NME)

It’s a real ragtag of a compilation and I’d be surprised if anyone who sent away for it (this was another of the NME mail-order offers) would have liked all 21 tracks.

There were bona-fide chart smashes with Altered Images and Kraftwerk (albeit the tape has the original German lyric for The Model). Politics was represented on both sides of the Atlantic with the still wonderful sounding Gil Scott Heron‘s attack on Reaganomics and The Beat‘s live medley that reflected life under Thatcher. There was music to swung your hips to and in particular David Gamson giving an early indication of the pop-style he would bring to later material from the then uber-indie Scritti Politti, and not forgetting a little bit of easy listening jazz that the style mags of the time were telling us would be dominating our listening habits for the rest of the decade – step forward Ms Carmel McCourt.

There’s also a couple of things that are soooooooo 80s and of their time – Leisure Process and The Thompson Twins stand accused and found guilty (although in the case of the former they get let off as they feature the bloke who was the lead singer in Glasgow new wavers Positive Noise).

Reggae, rockabilly and easy listening are also represented while there’s a couple of songs that were and remain, to my ears, just unlistenable – I’m talking in particular about Rip Rig and Panic and Defunkt. Oh and the hidden gem on the tape is the song by The Gun Club.

I kind of get the feeling that this was a tape in which every NME staffer got to choose one song or act that they were listening to at the time and as a result it is more disjointed than most.  But it does have about half a dozen that have stood up to the test of passing time….

Enjoy.

THIS WAS STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF A MAGAZINE (3 & 4)

036-indie-city-1-front037-indie-city-2-front

It was Niv (not Nev as I so carelessly published earlier!!!) who asked if these could feature.

A 1988 release. More mail-order cassettes from the NME. 40 tracks spread over two tapes with the contents more or less resembling a playlist you’d hear in Student Unions up and down the UK – particularly Tape 2.

Indie City 1

Side 1

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tupelo
Depeche Mode – People Are People (Different Mix)
Sonic Youth – Death Valley ’69
Cabaret Voltaire – Nag Nag Nag
Josef K – Radio Drill Time
Motorhead – Motorhead
Orange Juice – Blue Boy
The Fire Engines – Candy Skin
The Mekons – Never Been In A Riot
Gang Of Four – Armalite Rifle

Side 2

The Freshies – I’m In Love With The Girl On The Virgin Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk
Aztec Camera – We Could Send Letters
The Damned – Smash It Up
The Three Johns – Death On A European
Newtown Neurotics – Mindless Violence
Redskins -Lean On Me
Colourbox – The Official World Cup Theme
Joy Division – Transmission
Cocteau Twins – The Spangle Maker
The Normal – Warm Leatherette

Indie City 2

Side 1

The House Of Love – Shine On
The Loft – Up The Hill And Down The Slope
The Pogues – Dark Streets Of London
The Triffids – Wide Open Road
The Smiths – Hand In Glove
Robert Wyatt- Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’
…And The Native Hipsters – There Goes Concorde Again
The Cramps – Human Fly
R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe
The Special AKA – Gangsters

Side 2

Dead Kennedys – Holiday In Cambodia
Southern Death Cult – Fat Man
The Cult – Spiritwalker
The Primitives – Really Stupid
Jonathan Richman – Roadrunner
James – Hymn From The Village
The Fall – Rowche Rumble
Pop Will Eat Itself – Black Country Chain Saw Massacree
This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren
New Order – Murder

Now I know that some of the artists and some of the song titles above are incorrect, but I’ve simply reproduced what was typed in the track listings to the cassettes.

They are a cracking couple of artefacts with a mix of really well-known singles bundled up with some wonderfully cult acts. And Motorhead….who were the heavy metal band of choice for all discerning punk and new wave fans. There’s more than a few songs that have previously featured on T(n)VV and there others such as …And The Native Hipsters that I always intended to but never got round to it until now.

Worth mentioning that NME handed out 500 promotional copies of a 3xLP vinyl version of Indie City 1 & 2. There’s one kicking around on Discogs just now and it would set collectors back £50. It doesn’t come with anything that wasn’t available on or with the cassette and given that just about all 40 of the tracks are still widely available today, digitally or in new/second-hand vinyl and CDs, it seems an awful lot of money to pay. But then again, some folk like to own things that are or were limited to such small numbers.

Oh and I should mention that while a lot of the tracks have been ripped from the cassette, where the songs have been made available before on this blog I’ve simply re-activated old links to the song.

Also, rather surprisingly, some of the tracks on the cassette (Smiths, Fall, R.E.M.) are the album versions of the song rather than the single versions but then again The Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds contribution is the 7″ version of Tupelo rather than the album version.

Enjoy