Something wrong in my stars
Could you look at my charts
Help me healing these scars
Could you learn to read minds
In the case of mine
Do you read in the dark

Second stanza from “Honey Don’t Think”

I’ve hesitated to put this ICA together. Grant Lee Buffalo only recorded 4 long-players and that meant the choices were going to be pretty constrained. On top of that, I was worried I’d want too many songs to come from Jubilee. And then there’s the issue that sometimes I find Grant Lee Phillips a bit twee, more sensitive than some versions of me can tolerate. But when I chanced on Truly, Truly this week and forced iTunes/Music to play “Superslomotion” and “Come to Momma, She Say” before I had to leave the laptop I figured I’d take a stab at it… good band.

I’m pretty sure Fuzzy, their first record, was released when I was still at KZSC and I remember liking the record as a whole more than the individual songs on it. Not much in the way of WOW! but, as a unity, there was a structured feeling. I’m probably wrong but, retrospectively, ’93 has long felt like the apogee of the arc from The Feelies through REM splitting into Nirvana and Uncle Tupelo before the two tendencies interwove as the dominance of guitars at the heart of indie/alt/whatever started its slide into the second and third tiers of music sales. I’m not making an argument the Grant Lee Buffalo tracked that arc – they arrive late in the trajectory and their four records are musically consistent. But they were one of the last bands I remember arriving on that scene and staying with that sound as the scaffolding splintered. Other earlier bands continued the tradition, some – miraculously – to this day (whether through stubbornness or reformation) but as I’ve constructed it for myself, these guys signal something, their appearance marked a transition point.

The reason they land where they do, why the signal something meaningful is because – at their best – they make me sway, shimmy, shimmer and shift… they leave my arms akimbo, head back, soaking in their handsome comfort. Notes are sustained, the sonic terrain is vast, the poetry lyrical but their pacing easily as important as the words themselves, and songs glide and swell generating a cocoon into which I settle and nestle. Grant Lee hits the sweet spot between talk

The reason they land where they do, why the signal something meaningful is because – at their best – they make me sway, shimmy, shimmer and shift… they leave my arms akimbo, head back, soaking in their handsome comfort. Notes are sustained, the sonic terrain is vast, the poetry lyrical but their pacing easily as important as the words themselves, and songs glide and swell generating a cocoon into which I settle and nestle. Grant Lee hits the sweet spot between talk singing and sing talking, there are anthemic guitars, strummed acoustics, organ glissades and drones, subtle feedback and falsettos, pedestrian/walking bass and steady drumming each and all staying out of the way but reinforcing the foundation for the pretty. And all with periodic little hints of deep soul and microscopic elements of almost funk. I find them excellent music to cook to.

Perhaps you have, but I haven’t followed Grant Lee Phillips closely since the band split around the turn of the century but he keeps pumping out music and actively touring the acoustic and singer-songwriter side of the band. I’ve liked, but not liked so much I went out in pursuit of more, a number of the songs I’ve found on best-of lists or in magazine compilations but I think the band had something holistic that grabbed me that ends up missing in the solo work.

In any event, my expectations about what would be on this were not realized. I’ve long found that the ICA format means that some songs that would be on a “best of” rather than a “representative sample that works as an album” collection just don’t make it. The fact that “Truly Truly” and “Everybody Needs a Little Sanctuary” aren’t here and that there’s more Mighty Joe Moon than Jubilee genuinely surprised me but, I tried moving things all around and this simply worked best. Forgive me.

It’s The Life, from Mighty Joe Moon (1994)
Testimony, from Jubilee (1999)
Wish You Well, from Fuzzy (1993)
Arousing Thunder, from Copperopolis (1996)
Honey Don’t Think, from Mighty Joe Moon (1994)
My, My, My, from Jubilee (1999)
Mighty Joe Moon, from Mighty Joe Moon (1994)
SuperSloMotion, from Jubilee (1999)
The Hook, from Fuzzy (1993)
Rock Of Ages, from Mighty Joe Moon (1994)





I’m not a great one for spending much time in the cinema, so the fact that today’s offerings come from a CD given away with a monthly movie magazine from back in 1998 is very unusual.

Neon was (and may well still be for all that I know) a magazine which focussed on new cinematic and DVD releases. The December 1998 edition also came with a free CD which will be the main reason I bought it – the other being that I was no doubt heading off on a long-haul flight and needed something to help keep my mind occupied while I ignored the in-flight movie(s).  I’ve every reason to believe that the magazine didn’t even make it off the plane with me, left instead in the seat pocket to be either kept or binned by a member of the maintenance staff.

It really was all about the CD. This was an era before I went down the mp3 route and so it was a wallet full of discs and a bulky player which always accompanied me to the beach and so the following would have formed part of the soundtrack to that holiday:-

01 : Pulp – We Are The Boyz (from Velvet Goldmine)
02 : The Cardigans – War (from A Life Less Ordinary)
03 : The O’Jays – Love Train (from The Last days of Disco)
04 : Marc Alamond – One Night Of Sin (from Mojo)
05 : D’Angelo – She’s Always In My Hair (from Scream 2)
06 : Morcheeba – Killer Hippie (from Psycho)
07 : Odyseey – Going Back To My Roots (from The Full Monty)
08 : Space – Lost In Space (from Lost In Space)
09 : The Sons Of Silence – Bobby Dazzler (from The Acid House)
10 : Grant Lee Buffalo – The Whole Shebang (from Velvet Goldmine)
11 : Pete Wingfield – 18 With A Bullet (from Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels)
12 : Sunhouse – Monkey Dead (from Twentyfourseven)
13 : David Holmes – Rip Rip (from Out Of Sight)
14 : Fluke – Bullet (from Face)
15 : Madrid Symphonic Orchestra – Christmas 1970 (from Live Flesh)

The CD didn’t leave that much of an impression on me as I didn’t rush out to buy any of the full soundtracks although I would, a number of years later, pick up a copy of A Life Less Ordinary in a sale for £2.

But there are three brilliant bits of music on the CD which have subsequently been shoved onto compilation tapes and then onto the i-pod where they remain all these years later:-

mp3 : David Holmes – Rip Rip
mp3 : Grant Lee Buffalo – The Whole Shebang
mp3 : Marc Almond – One Night Of Sin

The first number is a real funky number that should get your toes tapping, your shoulders shaking and your head bopping in appreciation, It also contains dialogue from the film which starred George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.

The second is, I think, one that will surprise any Grant Lee Buffalo/Grant Lee Philips fans out there as it is quite unlike anything else the band/he has recorded.

And finally, that Marc Almond song is an atypical offering from the sleaze-meister, and quite brilliantly done.




Back in the days when we had a number of music weeklies in the UK, it was something of an accolade for a band if their latest recording was nominated as ‘Single Of The Week’ in either Melody Maker, NME or Sounds. Indeed, it wasn’t uncommon for some of the major labels to subsequently take out adverts in the general press boasting of such an achievement.

And such was the interest in records awarded the status, that for a short while, one major record label, RCA, thought it worthwhile to take out a license and produce an end of the year compilation entitled NME Singles of the Week. And plucked from the shelf for inspection under the T(n)VV microscope is the offering from 1993.

I reckon this particular effort is a pretty fair reflection of the year, containing 18 songs across different musical genres, and not just a collection of indie-guitar bands that were and continue to be the staple fayre of the paper for many years.

Arrested Development : Tennessee
Belly : Gepetto (remix)
Senser : The Key
Madder Rose : Madder Rose
One Dove : White Love
Tindersticks : Marbles
Credit To The Nation : Call It What You Want
Utah Saints : Believe In Me
Swervedriver : Duel
Bjork : Venus As A Boy (edit)
Elastica : Stutter
Spiritualized : Good Times
Smashing Pumpkins : Cherub Rock
Apache Indian : Movin’ On Special
PJ Harvey : 50ft Queenie
Sugar : Tilted
Grant Lee Buffalo : America Snoring
Leftfield/Lydon : Open Up (vocal edit)

This is actually a compilation CD that even after all these years, I’m more than happy to put on and listen to all the way through. I remember when I bought this in early 1994. I was 30 years of age, and thinking to myself that my days of trying to keep up with the changing scenes in music were drawing to an end, and before long I would be drifting off to Radio 2 and live concerts where I would be insisting on a seat throughout. No more sweaty nights at the Barrowlands, no more mosh-pits, no more seeking out bands before they were famous….and no more vinyl records. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong again.

The changes in how we all consume music over the past twenty years has quite a lot to do with it. The fact that I can sit at a PC and get tickets for gigs in demand rather than queue up in the cold, the growth of the internet, mp3s and downloading, the amount of video music channels on satellite TV and, above all else, the i-pod, means I have easy access to music more than ever before. Oh, and it helps that for whatever reason, I’ve a gene in my system that will not let me sit back and say ‘new music is crap and not as good as in my day’ . In other words, I’m refusing to turn into my dad……

Returning back to NME Singles of The Week 1993, I think there’s something for everyone in the compilation. The one thing I will be eternally grateful for is that it was my introduction to Tindersticks, a band that I have been slavishly devoted to ever since, and one of the few that I have specifically gone down to London for a gig…..twice in fact.

And there’s a few other long-term favourites in there as well.

I’m almost tempted to make the whole CD available for downloads, but I need to try and be sensible about things. So on the basis that a normal LP plays at 33 1/3 rpm, I’ll go for 6 songs as one-third of the CD:-

mp3 : Senser – The Key
mp3 : One Dove – White Love
mp3 : Tindersticks – Marbles
mp3 : Credit To The Nation – Call It What You Want
mp3 : Grant Lee Buffalo – America Snoring
mp3 : Leftfield/Lydon – Open Up