60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #52


A Certain Trigger – Maxïmo Park (2005)

For the best part of a decade, beginning just before the turn of the century, a great deal of the music that I was enjoying came through the airing of videos on various satellite TV music stations.  There must have been maybe 20 or so stations to choose from, albeit the majority continually aired promos I had little time for.

MTV2 Europe was really the channel of choice given that it heavily focussed on indie music, occasionally airing promos from years gone by but primarily concentrating on the music being released by new and emerging bands.

Maxïmo Park were probably the best example of a band who found their way into my heart courtesy of the television.  They had released a number of singles that were on heavy rotation, all of which seemed to be better than the last.  They did some interviews for the channel and came across as hard-working decent, level-headed individuals with no hints of arrogance or delusions of grandeur.   But then again, that seems to be typical of most people who come from Newcastle in the north-east of England.

I bought the debut album a couple of weeks after its release in May 2005. I already knew three of its tracks through the airing of the promos, and was delighted to discover that the quality was very much maintained across the other ten songs.  It was the sort of guitar-led indie-pop that had always appealed to my tastes, going all the way back to the late 70s.

Almost every song was written and recorded as if it could be a fast-paced and energetic single, and yet no two songs sounded the same. My first thoughts were along the lines of them being the 21st century equivalent of Buzzcocks given that many of the song themes were about love and relationships not going quite as smoothly as planned.

The other really charming factor was the way that Paul Smith sang in his strong, local accent and so offered something different in the world of the new indie-pop/rock where even the best UK bands seemed intent on mimicking their American counterparts.

mp3: Maxïmo Park – Apply Some Pressure

One of the reasons that I’ve maintained a long-love for A Certain Trigger over many of the similar type album released in the mid-noughties is that Maxïmo Park turned out to be a great live band, offering up no less than two great experiences in a very short space of time. I first saw them in December 2005 when, such was the demand for tickets, that the show was moved late on from the planned venue of the Queen Margaret Union at Glasgow University to the Barrowlands.  It was probably the biggest show the group had played, but if they had any nerves, they didn’t show.  A barnstorming run through the album, with a few b-sides and unreleased songs thrown in for good measure, made for a great night.

They were next in the city in February 2006 as the headliners of the NME Awards Tour, a four-band tour of the UK, with the Glasgow venue being the Carling Academy.  Proceedings were opened by Mystery Jets, who were followed by We Are Scientists.  Next on were Arctic Monkeys, who had taken the indie-world by storm in the period since the tour had been announced.  Indeed, the Glasgow show came very shortly after their album had become the fastest-selling debut album in British history, with more than 350,000 copies sold in the first week.

Most ticket-holders were there for the support act and the audience had thinned out by the time Maxïmo Park took to the stage.  It would have been easy for them to take the money and go through the motions – but they really upped the ante and showed that while Arctic Monkeys were more than decent on stage, they still had a lot to learn in terms of putting on what would be called a show. Anger really did prove to be an energy that night.

I’ve not maintained the same level of interest in Maxïmo Park over the subsequent years beyond their third album, which is probably to my detriment. If anyone out there has a knowledge of everything the band has released, then a guest ICA would be really appreciated.





I place a huge value on the ability of a singer/band to cut the mustard in a live context. It’s often the thought of going to see a forthcoming live performance that makes me go out and buy a new CD so that I’m familiar with the stuff. And almost just as often, if I catch a band live who I think have that something different or special, or indeed just seem to be working hard at their craft, I’ll buy a CD. What I’ve often found is that the CD doesn’t match the intensity of the live performance and it will soon be given a place on the shelf to gather dust….but that’s the risk of buying on one listen….

One of the best live acts I’ve seen in recent times is Maximo Park.

I first came across them courtesy of MTV2, and in particular on the shows hosted by Zane Lowe. I loved the early singles and indeed all of their debut LP, A Certain Trigger. And I made a point of buying a ticket for the next show in Glasgow which was due to take place at the QM Union, a student-venue. Such was the demand for tickets that the gig was switched to Barrowlands, which must have a bit daunting for the band. If they were nervous or had any trepidation, it didn’t show for it was a blinding gig.

And if I wanted proof that it wasn’t a one-off, then it came a few months later when they were part of an NME tour. As the biggest band of the four in terms of chart success, it was obvious they should be the headlining act – problem was that #2 on the bill were Arctic Monkeys, the most-talked about and anticipated act to come out of the UK since the days of Oasis. Most ticket-holders were there for the support, not the headliners. It would have been easy for Maximo Park to take the money and go through the motions – but they really upped the ante and showed that while Arctic Monkeys were exceptionally good on stage, they still had a lot to learn in terms of putting on a show.

Since then, I’ve fallen out of and back in love with Maximo Park. A third gig was a let-down as I felt the band, and in particular lead singer Paul Smith was now on the wrong-side of showing-off rather than entertaining. Nevertheless, the second LP, Our Earthly Pleasures, was purchased and I soon discovered it was an just as good a collection of songs as the debut. I was then really lucky to catch the band at a tiny venue in Toronto last summer (2007) and it was just like seeing them first time around again. It was a truly stunning, adrenalin-driven and energetic performance to a half-hearted audience largely unfamiliar with the band’s songs.

Outwith their own self-financed single, Maximo Park have released a total of eight 45rpm efforts, four from each of the two albums. All of them have been toe-tappingly catchy. In many ways, the first one I ever heard, Apply Some Pressure, could at times be the favourite. But in the end, in much the same way as Bedsitter by Soft Cell is my favourite of that particular beat combo, it all comes down to an equally strong second hit single that proves that they’re not a flash in the pan:-

mp3 : Maximo Park – Graffiti
mp3 : Maximo Park – Trial And Error
mp3 : Maximo Park – Stray Talk
mp3 : Maximo Park – Hammer Horror

You’re getting all these tracks because sometimes I fall for the marketing ploys and buy CD1, CD2 and the 7” vinyl….

It was a #15 hit in May 2005.



Those of you familiar with the nonsense posted on the old blog will be all too aware that I turned 50 years of age a couple of months back.  It’s an event that I’ve marked in a number of ways, including a couple of firsts such as a trip to see El Clasico and a short break with Mrs V to Berlin.

Tomorrow marks the start of a trip that has been a year in the planning and the one geared towards the centrepiece of the birthday celebrations.  I’m off again to Toronto….

My love for the city began six years ago when I went to work there for a number of months on a secondment.  I met loads of great people and I’ve kept in touch with them ever since.  I’ve been back very briefly just the once but this time it is planned to be a bit special.  I’ll be taking off from Glasgow in the company of my dear friends Jacques the Kipper and Aldo and we will be joined in Canada by my young brother SC who is flying up from his home in Florida.  Over the weekend, we are taking in baseball and football with the best seats in the house(s) and meeting up with a crowd of the boys I used to work with for some drinking, eating and sightseeing.  Come Monday morning, I set out on a 10-day golfing holiday in Canada, all of which has been put together by friends based over there and which promises to be memorable.  All told, I’m away for more than 2 weeks…..and I can’t wait.

T(n) VV won’t quite be put into cold storage but what I am going to do is a series of posts looking back at the historical stuff on the old blog as well as the efforts to try and catch-up with the Saturday singles series.  I hope you’ll find enough of interest to keep dropping by while I’m away…..if possible I will pop in every now again and respond if there’s any comments left behind.

I’m hoping also that I will get to catch some live music while I’m away.  Toronto was the scene of a number of great gigs in 2008, none more so than seeing Maximo Park play a blinding gig at a venue around one-fifth of the size they were then selling out back home in the UK. Seems appropriate today to feature some of the material played that night:-

mp3 : Maximo Park – Graffiti

mp3 : Maximo Park – Apply Some Pressure

mp3 : Maximo Park – Going Missing

mp3 : Maximo Park – Books From Boxes

mp3 : Maximo Park – Girls Who Play Guitars