It’s actually a misleading title as Peter Hook has been involved in many a brilliant bit of dance/pop/indie/electonica music over the years as part of New Order. I’m just thinking that this is easily his best as a solo artist…

mp3 : Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?

This reached the giddy heights of #11 in the UK singles chart in February 1997 which is higher than all but eight singles from his better known and long-standing combo (and its six if you discount remix versions of Blue Monday and True Faith that took those tracks into the Top 10 for a second occasion)

I was really intrigued when I first heard What Do You Want From Me? I was convinced it was fresh stuff from New Order. At this point in history, the band were on a very lengthy sabbatical – it had been four years since they had released any new songs, and Bernard Sumner had been quite public that he was enjoying life far more as a member of Electronic alongside Johnny Marr.

My initial reaction that this was a clever way of making a comeback – a duet featuring Hooky and Barney – but of course it turned out to be a side-project band featuring Hooky and David Potts who had previously been with him in Revenge.

Listening back now, I think Monaco was Hooky’s warning shot that he wasn’t prepared to sit around all his life waiting for his main source of income to reform and start recording again. He deliberately went out of his way to release something that sounded more like a New Order record than anything else he had ever done in his other side-projects, and it was even more so than anything from Electronic or The Other Two. No-one can deny that David Potts sang like Barney, and there’s just no mistaking that distinctive bass that had been the driving force behind so many great songs over the previous near two-decades.

And when you delve into the history of Monaco, its clear to see that Hooky was giving it his all with this band. There was a lengthy UK tour as support act to The Charlatans in May 1997, an appearance at T in The Park in July 1997, followed by a short US tour that included gigs at venues at prestigious as The Filmore in San Francisco.

Until I did some research for this post, I had assumed Monaco had come and gone after 1997.

But it turns out that a follow-up LP was recorded in 1999 that was rejected by the record label. It was later given a very low-key release on an indie label, with the band appearing at a number of festivals that year, followed by a handful of gigs in 2000. It seems there was then a huge row between Hooky and David Potts (it is alleged the latter wanted to begin to move away from the New Order influences on the Monaco sound), and the band split up. Within a matter of months, New Order, with ex-Marion guitarist Phil Cunningham now on board, were back in the studio….

And here’s the other two tracks that can be found on the CD single that sits on one of the shelves in Villain Towers:-

mp3 : Monaco – Bicycle Thief
mp3 : Monaco – Ultra




Today’s letter was chosen by my friend Mark. He asked the question why – and I told him so we will probably have another reader today (welcome Mark). He chose the letter M, and a conversation started about randomness. I have lived most of my life by randomness, my iPods are only ever set to shuffle, at the start of the 11th song, whoever is playing at the time, I stop the iPod and listen to whatever album, single etc that song features on. Yesterday for instance Bombay Bicycle Club were the 11th band, well the first one, Goldfrapp were the second. Try it, it’s a great way to live. Its also why I contacted JC in the first place after his ‘Random Shuffle’ series which he should definitely bring back.

It goes further than that though, I still have a half empty box of cd’ s in my shed, gathering dust which I have to pick out at random for this very blog (more on that later), but I also like to travel by random. Once I bought a guide book of Europe, and I asked the person who sold it to me to pick a number between 24 and 1283 (the guide book pages), she picked 535. I turned to the page and within 48 hours I was in Berlin (Berlin being the place on page 535) and that is really where my love affair with the random started.

I have used random picks to find bars, museums, art galleries you name it. In a bar in Berlin (the Grapes in Kreuzberg, since you ask) I asked the barman to pick a number between 1 and 67 (all the bars/clubs in Berlin listed in a mag I picked up) he chose 19, a club in Mitte housed in a burnt out cinema. A great choice, made all the greater because that night, by complete chance, Mogwai were playing there. Even luckier than that, was the fact that there were tickets still left on the door. Three hours later, having decided to spend the entire weekend, doing things chosen by random or by other people I was watching Mogwai in Berlin in a burnt out cinema. Mogwai were as you can imagine, incredible. When they played ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ I honestly felt like what was left of the cinema ceiling was going to collapse. Here’s a true story about Mogwai, once when reviewing them live for a magazine I mistyped Satan leaving out the first ‘a’. My editor phoned me and said “Mogwai sound great live but who is Stan”? I had no idea what he was talking about, so he published anyway, and then took the piss in print.

I told Mark that the first choice of band would be Mogwai, he had never heard Mogwai, so I posted some to my Facebook page the next day he said that it had a very long intro, its that sort of humour that makes me like Mark – which is why I was glad I asked him to pick my random letter.

mp3 : Mogwai – San Pedro

The next two songs are usually picked by me looking through the iPod for songs that I can write about or have a story about them. But today as I’m feeling random I have created a playlist of all my bands that start with M and after Mogwai’s ‘San Pedro’ has finished whatever is next shall be the choice. Warning I have at least one Madonna song on here (long story). Luckily I just deleted my Meatloaf, Richard Marx and Mantovani. Mogwai has finished…Oooh…

A few weeks ago, JC wrote a brilliant piece about Peter Hook and Revenge, the band he formed after New Order. Back in 1995 (?) he teamed up with fellow Revenge member David ‘Pottsy’ Potts to form Monaco (yup it was Monaco up next). They produced a sound not that dissimilar to New Order with songs set around Hook’s distinctive bass sound. There most well known and successful single was their debut one ‘What do you Want from me?’ which went all the way to Number 11 in the charts. It was taken from the album ‘Music For Pleasure’ which I think is probably the best thing Hooky has done outside of New Order. On that album was the track ‘Shine’ and it is that track which came up next on the iPod. A song that I had largely forgotten about, but one that is lovely. It was released as a single, the third from the album and stalled at Number 55, a shame because it deserved to go much higher. To be honest it wouldn’t sound out of place on any New Order album, in fact if Barney had sung this instead of Pottsy, I think it would have gone much higher in the charts. However, dismissing the New Order lite comments, it is a great pop record, and that folks is what we expect from Peter Hook.

mp3 : Monaco – Shine

Next up…There is I am told quite a scene going on in Leeds at the moment. I’ve been to Leeds once, it involved three pints of lager and two hour wait at a train station (It wasn’t random, I had to be there). It needs a scene. Menace Beach hail from Leeds and are a new band (read Leeds supergroup featuring members from other bands in the aforementioned scene that I have never heard of) that fuse shoegaze and college rock and come out sounding somewhere in the middle of My Bloody Valentine and the Smashing Pumpkins, this is not a bad thing at all. In fact it is a very good thing.

The track that came up was ‘Fortune Teller’ the lead track from their recent ‘Lowtalker EP’ and it sounds like something that would have been popular in 1995 when I was student. It has a trippy pyschadelic organ sound running through it and laid back guitars which are complimented by some floaty dreamy vocals. Part Pixies, part Beach Boys perhaps.

mp3 : Menace Beach – Fortune Teller

Back to the box, my new CD player has arrived. So, next week I will do the letter L and then I will be back to randomly selecting things from it, there are a few to catch up on. As a special treat here is the Gumball track that I mentioned a while ago – it doesn’t start with M but it was on top of the ‘pile that I have already pulled out and need talking about’ pile.

mp3 : Gumball – With A Little Rain