A SPECTACULAR SPECTACLE

This blog started out back in 2006 just as Frightened Rabbit were beginning to get noticed, initially here in Scotland and then, thanks to a combination of some very fine early releases and some equally fine live tours It also helped that lead somgwriter Grant Hutchison was such a sound and decent bloke who, fully understanding and recognising that new media, including blogging, could go a long way to breaking new and emerging talent, was always willing to give of his time to anyone who asked for it.

Back in April 2008, Frightened Rabbit released a monumentally impressive sophomore album. I wrote an awful lot about Midnight Organ Fight over at the Google version of this blog before it was unceremoniously torn down. Like many others, I fell head over heels for its intense and passionate blend of indie-pop/folk across songs that, for the most part, dealt with falling in love like you’ve never done before only for it to all go horrendously and hideously wrong. The lyrics were honest to the point of brutal with absolutely no sugar-coating whatsoever. It also helped that I was at the launch gigs in tiny Glasgow venues, including Mono and King Tuts, at which you could see at close-hand just how difficult and painful it was for the frontman to relive so many real-life episodes through the medium of song.

The album featured in many end of year lists and deservedly so. The band followed it up with The Winter of Mixed Drinks in 2010, their third and final LP for indie-label Fat Cat Records, a record that broadened their appeal enough to attract the attention of Atlantic Records with who the band signed a deal not long after. Maybe it was the music snob in me, somewhat annoyed that this band that I had been lucky enough to see around the toilet circuit were now capable of selling out Barrowlands in a matter of minutes and had an audience that wanted to sing-a-long to everything, thus ruining the subtle parts of the gut-wrenching songs, including the ones that were on the newer records. But I sort of lost interest in Frightened Rabbit, albeit it was genuinely pleasing to see them become a little bit wealthier on the fruits of their labours.

I did, however, see the band back in 2013 when, by complete chance, they happened to be in Berlin when I was celebrating my 50th birthday with a first ever visit to the city in the company of Mrs Villain. We were having a fantastic time enjoying the sights, including out at the Olympic Stadium the day after my birthday when a text flashed up from Aldo telling me he had noticed Frightened Rabbit were playing in what seemed to be a small-medium sized venue in one of the more bohemian parts of the city. We managed to get tickets and along we went – it was a decent gig but nothing more. The songs were largely drawn from what was then their most recent album Pedestrian Verse, a work that I had bought but only listened to once on the basis that it didn’t do anything for me, and the live renditions didn’t really spark much either. Having said that, it was still a great way to have an unexpected night out in Berlin.

Four and a bit year on, I ventured out to see the band again. It was apt that I was in the company of Mrs Villain and Aldo. It was the latter who had spotted that the band were putting on a special show in which they would be accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) inside the very grand Paisley Abbey, a church that dates back in parts to 850 years ago and is still in use today. The show was part of the sixth annual Spree Festival during which the RSNO always team up with a Scottish band or singer and perform inside the Abbey. We were lucky enough to see Twilight Sad and Admiral Fallow with the orchestra back in 2013 and that proved to be a special and enjoyable occasion.

This, however, took the whole collaboration thing to entirely new heights. There’s a depth and emotion to Scott Hutchison’s song-writing that lends itself perfectly to huge arrangements such as were provided on the night. The show opened with three songs that I didn’t know at all thanks to them coming from albums or EPs that had been released in 2016 or 2017 and which I hadn’t picked up; nevertheless, the atmosphere was incredible with a reverential and fully seated audience hanging onto every note, with not even a whisper to be heard during the performance. The band’s playing was perfectly in tune with the orchestra, beautifully understated within a minimum amp so that the entire sound could be enjoyed.

And then something truly magical happened. The band, with the exception of Scott, took their leave. The singer said that he was about to do the scariest thing in his entire life as a performer. And with that he began to strum and play this:-

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Poke

One of the highlights of Midnight Organ Fight and a song that conveys all the sad emotion of how it feels to be broken-hearted while failing to comprehend just why everything went pear-shaped. It’s a song that uses the word ‘cunt’ and Scott didn’t hesitate to utter it, despite knowing he in the middle of what to many people is a very sacred and spiritual location.

The audience applause went up a fair few notches at the end of the song. I didn’t think the night could be bettered and would happily have gone home there and then thinking it had all been worth it.

The band came back on and Scott said they were going to perform some songs without the orchestra before ending the night with further collaborations. I was gob-smacked that the next four songs turned out to be energetic and immense versions of tracks on Midnight Organ Fight immediately followed by two of their more pop-orientated songs from some of the later albums.

The night ended with five more songs performed alongside the orchestra. It is worth stating, this was a full orchestra with strings, brass, wind and percussion, with every player being internationally renowned. The band really had to be on top form to cope with it.

The night ended with all sorts of thanks offered prior to the playing of the final number. I was sitting there quietly wishing for a particular song as I reckoned it would make for the perfect ending as it really did offer the greatest potential for an orchestral arrangement. But at the same time, I thought it might just be too much of an ask for the band to pull it off in such distinguished company. If I believed in God, I might even have offered up a silent prayer at the time with an ask….I simply sat there and hoped. I later found our Mrs Villain was hoping for the same thing…and although I never asked him, I’m sure Aldo was also hoping for the same.

And we got it:-

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Keep Yourself Warm

I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved emotionally by one single song performed in the live setting as I was sitting there in Paisley Abbey. As it ended, I, along with just about everyone present, leapt up and roared an approval with a sustained round of applause – just as you do when you’ve enjoyed a classical music performance. I glanced across at Aldo and we simultaneously mouthed the word ‘wow’. There was no need for anything else to be said.

Back in 2013, footage was later released of The Twilight Sad/RSNO efforts and indeed this can still be viewed on-line. If the same thing happened from the other night, I’ll be sure to draw it your attention.

I’m still getting shivers days later thinking about it.

JC

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (43)

7fat33_cover_lo-res_600x600_1ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 26 MARCH 2008

By now you’re probably all thinking its going to be really old stuff in this particular long-running bout of nostalgia. But as you can see from today’s posting, that ain’t necessarily so.

This was my favourite single of 2007. And it made such an impact on me, that its right up there as one of my favourite singles of all time.

I never imagined when I started this blogging lark that I would end up rediscovering such enthusiasm for new and fresh music. I always thought that was something best left to the kids. Certainly, when I was twenty years younger, there was a part of me that felt sorry for the old fogeys at the gigs I was at – I couldn’t help but think they looked so out-of-place.

Nowadays, I am that old fogey. And I don’t give a toss what anyone thinks of me. And If I can get down to the front of the gig, then all the better.

This lot are playing a tiny venue in Glasgow this coming Saturday evening**. And I’m going to be there are as they unveil the songs that are going to make up their forthcoming sophomore LP, as well as the older stuff.

Frightened Rabbit are a fantastic and exciting band. They’ve been increasing their fan base thanks to support slots with the likes of Sons & Daughters and Editors. It’s time they stepped out into the limelight.

Why this song? Its hard in some ways to put into words. I first heard it when Comrade Colin posted it over at his blog and just fell head over heels for it. I tracked down the LP the following day and it went immediately onto heavy rotation on the i-pod. Later in the year, a very slightly different mix was put out on 7″ vinyl, and that’s what I’m offering here:-

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Be Less Rude
mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – The Greys

I know…..some of you will be asking if this is really better than a single that hasn’t made the Top 45 such as Billy Bragg doing Levi Stubbs’ Tears?? Probably not….but as I said at the outset of all of this, there are some days when a particular song captures my mood and another doesn’t and where they feature in an all-time list will fluctuate.

But however you look at it, and whether you think it’s not worthy of a place in chart rundown of this nature, there’s no denying that both Be Less Rude and The Greys are great bits of modern indie-pop with a Scottish twist.

(** well, they were back in March 2008.  I doubt they’ll be doing so tonight!!)

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Parts 51-55)

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..

R-2250821-1272363231

(51) Friends Again – Honey At The Core b/w Lucky Star : Moonboot Records 7″ single (1983)

Read more about Friends Again here

 R-1457798-1260033547

(52) Frightened Rabbit  – Fast Blood b/w Soon Go  : Fast Cat Records : 7″ single (2008)

Read more about Frightened Rabbit here 

NB : Part 52 was actually Be Less Rude/Sing The Greys but I featured this on T(n)VV a few weeks back.

R-664308-1171233878

(53) Geneva – No One Speaks b/w Closer To The Stars b/w Keep The Light On :  Nude Records CD single (1996)

Read more about Geneva here

R-561125-1153643090

(54) The Gentle Waves – Falling From Grace b/w Going Home b/w October’s Sky b/w Hold Back A Thousand Hours : Jeepster Records CD single (2000)

The first solo recordings released by Isobel Campbell who at the time was still part of Belle & Sebastian. Also worth mentioning that Falling From Grace has been one of the most downloaded tracks I’ve ever made available….

R-1458125-1237812682

(55) Glasvegas – Geraldine b/w The Prettiest Thing On Saltcoats Beach b/w Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime : Mercury Records 2 x & 7″ singles (2008)

Read more about Glasvegas here

Parts  61 -65 next Saturday…..

RECALLING THE EXCELLENT DEBUT SINGLE (Part 2)

R-1124733-1194018134

From 2007.  Two songs that sadly don’t get aired in the current live shows:-

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Be Less Rude

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – The Greys

Both are slightly different mixes from what are available on the debut LP.  These are songs that take me back to seeing this lot in loads of tiny venues all across Glasgow hoping that it wouldn’t take too long before their talents and abilities to effortlessly knock out tartan-tinged tunes of hope and despair were more widely recognised and rewarded.  It took a few years but in due course the major label did come knocking.

I’ve written before that while I’m sad to see the sound dilute a bit as it became more appealing to the masses there is no way I’m going to accuse Frightened Rabbit of ever selling out.  The live shows today, certainly on the basis of the gig I was lucky and unexpectedly enough to catch in Berlin just a few months ago, remain just as joyful and moving in equal measures as they were in the days of sweaty Glasgow basements.  And it also seems that the boys are just as approachable and self-assuming as they’ve always been.  Increasing fame and some fortune doesn’t turn everyone into an arsehole.

Quick update on some more box takedowns.  Most recent two have been for a Charlatans single and for a live recording of a track by The Smiths….one that was never made available commercially but which came from a radio recording of their first ever live appearance in Scotland back in 1984.  A wee fightback comes tomorrow….

A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT

wrapper_back

Dear Reader

TVV was a blog hosted by blogger.com between 30 September 2006 and 24 July 2013 when it was taken down by the host for what was alleged to be continued violations of copyright policy.

The millions of words that went into some 2,500 posts have gone forever.  Blogger has in effect carried out the modern-day equivalent of book burning. It’s not a nice feeling.

But, to paraphrase Mr Stevie Wonder – I ain’t gonna stand for it which is why within a matter of hours of learning of the demise of TVV, I’ve got myself a new host to start things again.  So a warm welcome to The (new) Vinyl Villain.

It will take time to populate T(n)VV with links etc so please be patient with me as I learn how to properly make the most of WordPress.

And if you don’t mind…..please spread the word of where folk can find me.  I won’t be linking to places like Hype Machine or Elbo – they were great in driving up traffic and attracting new readers, but probably played a big part in the demise of TVV by drawing attention to the mp3s.  This time round it’s going to be different…..but the same if you know what I mean!

mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Music Now

Happy Listening