I’ve been the very lucky recipient of a load of guest contributions in recent days and in normal circumstances it would take a few weeks to get round to featuring them, especially as I’ve been busy with a few musings of my own that are scheduled to appear.  The solution is some unpaid T(n)VV overtime with a week of bonus postings to help keep things moving.  I hope you don’t mind.

And I hope you don’t mind that I’m kicking things off with one of my own.  One that is ridiculously fresh as it’s detailing events that have just happened.

Thursday 30 August

A few months ago, I wrote about a Jen Lekman gig in Glasgow that had to end after about half the anticipated set due to the illness of the Swedish singer-songwriter.  I mentioned that a plan was in place to get to see him again later in the year…well, Thursday 30 August was the date for that.

The gig was taking place in Hebden Bridge, a town some 220 miles south of Glasgow, located close to the Yorkshire/Lancashire border and fairly equidistant between Leeds and Manchester.  It’s home to Hebden Trades Club, a venue with an amazing history, originally built-in 1923 as a joint enterprise by local trade unions and brought back to life in 1982 as a socialist members club and music venue. It has attracted a great range of acts over the years, many of whom wouldn’t normally stop in a town with 4,500 inhabitants and a venue that accommodates not much more than 200 folk.  It’s a venue that’s long been on my bucket list, and that of Aldo, and so we set off by train early in the morning for what we were sure was going to be an adventure.

Hebden Bridge is quite something else.  We arrived on a gloriously sunny late summer’s day and were immediately struck by how laid-back and bohemian it all seemed to be.  The local tourist website, for once, isn’t guilty of hyperbole:-

Hebden Bridge has been voted as “the greatest town in Europe” by The Academy of Urbanism, is officially the best small market town in the UK (winner of the best Small Market Town and People’s Choice categories in the 2016 Great British High Street Awards) and was described in British Airway’s ‘High Life’ magazine as “one of the world’s funkiest towns” .

Hebden Bridge’s people have been instrumental in creating and maintaining the town’s character. Possessing a strong community spirit, the town is renowned for its creative culture, with a fascinating history and a mission for sustainability. Unique double decker “over and under dwellings” hang on the leafy green hillsides above the town. Houses were built in terraces with 4 to 5 storeys because space was limited by the steep valleys and lack of flat land. The upper storeys face uphill while the lower ones face downhill, with their back wall against the hillside, each with separate entrances.

Hebden Bridge’s 18th century core and Victorian streets spread from the 16th century packhorse bridge over the Hebden Water that gives the town its name. The wavy steps, leading to Hebden Water alongside the bridge are a great place to stop and feed the ducks! Stroll along the Rochdale Canal, linking the Railway Station to Calder Holmes Park, the town centre, Little Theatre and Alternative Technology Centre. Try one of the Walkers are Welcome routes up to the National Trust Hardcastle Crags, and the sustainable Gibson Mill. Sample the vast array of great independent shops or the pavement cafes, a result of the award winning pedestrianisation scheme.

There’s also this on-line article by the BBC dating back to 2012 which reflects on why Hebden Bridge has become known as the lesbian capital of the UK.

The fact I’m typing so many words before even getting onto the gig itself will hopefully give you an indication that this is a place that is well worth a visit and look round… we didn’t mange too much walking as we were busy enjoying the pubs and saving our energy for the evening, but we vowed we would return.

Jens Lekman was in magnificent form, no doubt encouraged by a wonderfully appreciative and respectful audience.  Nobody chatted loudly to their mates while the band were on stage and the bar staff didn’t clatter about making noises with glasses, bottles and ice. It was an energetic, happy and classy performance lasting a shade under 90 minutes with the material split between his latest LP, Life Will See You, (released earlier this year) and his other EPs and albums all that way back to the earliest recordings in 2003. He really did cut the mustard. (and he was more than happy at the end of the night to chat to two very happy Scots)

One final comment about the venue.  It genuinely is a co-op; I had a chat with the ‘promoter’ on the night (i.e. someone from the committee whose turn it was to be in charge of the door) who said that the venue doesn’t look to make money on the gigs but enjoys the increased takings via the bar and that the idea is to make it a unique and memorable experience for the musicians and audience alike.  There’s no sign of any heavy-handed stewards – again it’s all the club members who look after things – and at the end of the night there’s no great rush to get everyone out of the door. It was just all so perfectly civilised.  Can’t wait to go back.

Friday 1 September

Worth mentioning that Hebden Bridge has a few really decent real-ale pubs; not that I’m bothered as I’m a spirits/wine sort of fella, but Aldo did imbibe both pre and post-gig.  And paid the price the next morning as we had to get away earlier than expected due to a train strike that left a drastically reduced service. We had to take our leave at 10am and make our way to Manchester where a couple of items were in the pipeline.

I have to give my travelling companion full credit.  He had an appalling hangover, the sort that would have had me flat-out for the day.  But after his miracle cure of an 11am pint of cold and cheap cider, he was raring to go once again!

First item of the day, after the bonus of an unexpected early check-in at the hotel, was a visit to Manchester Art Gallery to enjoy True Faith, the temporary exhibition devoted to Joy Division and New Order.  Sadly, the exhibition closes the day this posting appears, as it’s one that comes highly recommended.  OK…there’s some conceptual stuff that went a bit over my head but the chance to look at some images, posters and artefacts from back in the day, as well as enjoy watching and listening to live footage and old promo videos, was a huge treat.

It was also great to be able to visit the more permanent parts of the gallery and take in some terrific works of art, including the unrivalled collection of works by LS Lowry.  The two hours inside the gallery seemed to fly in.

Believe it or not, things got even better as we were joined just after 2.30pm by none other than Swiss Adam, doyen of Manchester and the font of all knowledge about its taverns and ale houses, particularly those that are not situated on the main drags.  For eight hours we traipsed across the city, veering in all directions, all the while maintaining a running dialogue about music, football, politics, family life, work, Manchester, Glasgow, blogging, bloggers and sundry other items.  It was really just a continuation of the weekend we had enjoyed earlier this year in the company of Dirk, Walter, Brian, Drew, CC and the rest.  The gig and exhibition had been memorable, but the crawl around Manchester in the company of someone who is so passionate about his city and its people, took it a whole new level.

It was all over and done with by around 10.30, partly as we had just about hit our limits – Aldo was keeping track and there were 14 stops along the way.  And besides, I had stuff to do the following day that necessitated an early start.

I haven’t got round to mentioning that I have a new voluntary job on Saturdays and the occasional Tuesday evening. It was this new job that saw us have to leave the hotel before 8am to get ourselves back up to Scotland, so thanks Aldo for being so understanding when a long lie-in was what you most wanted/needed.

It’s a bit a of a dream job. And one I’ll get round to writing about at some point in the future.  It’s one in which I assist with things most days but occasionally have to do the whole thing myself…and Saturday 2 September was one of those solo days.

I’m the match-day announcer at Stark’s Park, Kirkcaldy, home of the mighty Raith Rovers FC.  Let’s just say, it’s been a while since the crowd were treated to a mix of Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, R.E.M., Go-Betweens, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Smiths in the run-up to kick-off (although it’s likely to be a one-off as the club often encourage fans to make requests in the week leading up to a match).

In the meantime, these are, respectively, for Aldo and Adam:-

mp3 : Jens Lekman – To Know Your Mission
mp3 : New Order – Ecstacy


30, 20, 10 (Part 4)

The latest installment in the monthly series looking back at the songs which were #1 in the indie charts on the first day of the month 30, 20 and 10 years ago.

We begin with a genuine classic.

1 August 1987 : mp3 : New Order – True Faith

FAC 183. Recorded, along with its equally wonderful b-side 1963 as two new songs for inclusion on the Substance compilation album, it reached #4 in the proper singles chart.  It was helped along by an innovative and groundbreaking video from the mind of French choreographer, dancer and mime artist Philippe Decouflé.

1 August 1997 : mp3 : Oasis – D’ You Know What I Mean

Last time round in this series, Blur were holding down the #1 spot with the rather excellent On Your Own.  One month later and you get further proof that while their archrivals may have won the original Britpop battle in 1995, the Essex boys were a much more coherent and innovative lot than the Mancs whose lumpen and dreary guitar-rock was alienating many original fans, albeit attracting almost as many others along for the football-terrace type gigs they now specialised in. This near 8-minute opus is fairly unbearable.

1 August 2007 : mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Fluroescent Adolescent

Completing the hat-trick of well-known indie bands holding down the top spot at the height of summer.  This was one of those songs that convinced me Alex Turner was a very worthy addition to the list of witty and clever English pop-songwriters that includes the likes of Ray Davies, Billy Bragg and Andy Partridge.  This ditty, co-written with his then girlfriend Johanna Bennett, tells the tale of an unfulfilled middle-aged woman who is looking back with some sadness of how her life has turned out.  Alex Turner had barely turned 21 years of age at the time.



Thursday 4 May 2017 is going to down in history in my home city, and not just for the fact it marks the arrival of the Walter and Brian as the first for the bloggers weekend…..

It’s also election day for the local council and without any shadow of a doubt the ruling Administration is going to be swept out of power. It’s almost unheard of for the Labour Party not to be running Glasgow City Council as they have held outright power for all but eight years since 1934. The last time there wasn’t a Labour Leader in office was a two-year spell from 1977-1979.

The Scottish Nationalists, either on their own or via a coalition with the Greens are certain to wake up tomorrow and have their first ever control of the magnificent City Chambers built as long ago as 1888. It’s a building I spent much of my career working in, for spells as an aide/advisor to some of the leading political figures in the council and so I know first-hand the complexity of the challenges in managing and delivering the vital and essential services that the residents and those working in the city are so heavily dependent on.

I might not agree with the politics of those who are going to take over but I really do wish them well in their endeavours. It will be fascinating to see how good a job they make of things and how they will cope having these new responsibilities for tough and difficult decisions, especially when there is such a lack of leadership experience. I’ve no doubt however, they will draw heavily from and lean on their colleagues who have been in charge of other political bodies in recent years.

This seems appropriate today.

mp3 : New Order – Times Change



They were #20 in the series back in June 2015 and I went with these tracks:-

Side A

Age Of Consent
The Perfect Kiss (12″)
Lonesome Tonight
Temptation (12″)

Side B

Love Vigilantes
True Faith
Blue Monday
Leave Me Alone

Just six weeks later, a second New Order ICA was offered up as #28 in the series, courtesy of a guest posting by Martin Elliot from Sweden, that had been a work in progress when my own offering appeared:-

Side A

Blue Monday
Round & Round (KS club mix)
Regret (Sabres Slow n Low)
Age Of Consent

Side B

True Dub
Someone Like You (GD Vocotech dub)
World (Brothers in Rhythm)
The Perfect Kiss (12″)

I happened to put New Order on shuffle on the i-pod the other week and was quickly reminded just how many great bits of music they had put out, particularly in the early part of their career, so much so I thought a record-breaking third ICA would go down well. The only rule being all ten songs this time can’t have been featured at all in any shape in either of my own or Martin’s postings from 2015. Let’s Go……


1. Love Vigilantes (from Low-Life, 1985)

If it wasn’t for the fact that Age of Consent is such a stunning opening to Power, Corruption & Lies than I would reckon many of us would argue that this is as fine an opening, not to just to any New Order LP, but to any LP as there has been. It’s a tremendous bit of pop music and one of the finest ghost stories that anyone could ever sway their hips to.

2. Confusion (rough mix) (single, 1983)

Let’s stay up there on the dance floor with the song that paid tribute to the changing face and sound of NYC nightclubs and hatched the idea for The Hacienda. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, it wouldn’t have happened without the production work and values of Arthur Baker as clearly demonstrated by its similarities to the earlier hit single I.O.U. by Freez, but it was a sound and a technique which New Order were already exploring, the conquering of which would make them as important as any band that has ever emerged from the UK.

3. Thieves Like Us (single, 1984)

I had the b-side to this on the original ICA and while I stand by my claim that Lonesome Tonight is the better song there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a hugely under-appreciated single which in many ways ticks all the boxes – great bass line, unusual and catchy drum beat, the one-fingered keyboard solo and a nonsensical lyric that, by somehow hanging brilliantly together, makes perfect sense. And as an added bonus it has Barney singing in and out of tune….

4. Shame Of The Nation (7″ version) (b-side 1986)

While he’s no Weller or Bragg, I’ll doff my cap to Barney for having a go at writing a political protest song at the height of Thatcherism. It was a single that was widely ridiculed upon its release and which, to be honest, hasn’t date all that well , but the additional work on the b-side, for which producer John Robie is attributed a credit, means it is more than salvageable thirty years on. As far as I know this particular version has never been made available in any other format than the original 7″ vinyl. It’s clearly been edited down from the full-length format with some unwieldy edits but it’s included here given that any Volume 3 of a release needs some sort of rarity to make it appeal….

5. Dreams Never End (from Movement, 1981)

This is inspired by Martin who, in his New Order ICA, pointed out that a brilliant LP opener – Age Of Consent – can also work just as effectively as a closer to a side and make you want to flip the vinyl over without any hesitation. The one where Hooky had a go at being lead vocalist and the one that you know would have made a great Joy Division single.


1. Your Silent Face (from Power, Corruption & Lies, 1983)

This was the one track that I just couldn’t find the room for back in June 2015 which was painful as it is one of my all-time favourite NO songs, but my rule of thumb for an ICA is that it has to hang together as an album and not merely be a collection of tunes. It opens up Side B of PC&L and this is perfectly place right here.

2. Bizarre Love Triangle 94 (from Best Of, 1994)

The rapid advances in production techniques were such that Stephen Hague could take what was one of the band’s most recognisable numbers and make it even more New Order-sounding than the band had managed back in 1986. It was one of four tracks that he worked on for this particular release and helped make it something worth purchasing with the nice little fade out at the end allows a nice lead-in to….

3. Paradise (from Brotherhood, 1986)

The band’s fourth album was something of a disappointment in comparison to the other work that came immediately before and shortly afterwards. It certainly suffered from the decision to put five guitar-based songs back-to-back on side A with the flip side being the more electronic based numbers. I’m not going to argue that all ten tracks are essential but it certainly isn’t as duff a record as I first thought.

4. Vanishing Point (from Technique, 1989)

I’ll long argue that Technique is the band’s finest LP, It’s strange because it came out at a time when I was missing out on so much music and I wasn’t buying much, but as a long-standing fan and having just about everything in the collection I made sure I picked it up when it was released. It came across as such a happy and triumphant record that I fell for its charms on first listen – it seemed to have everything I wanted the band to do with its mix of guitar and electronica with so many that you just wanted to dance to…and yet the tracks that really seemed to stand out early on was this resigned sounding mid(ish)-tempo number. Maybe it was that I was feeling my own life was no holiday and I had personally reached the point of no return. Imagine that…a New Order lyric that proved to be philosophical.

5. Ruined In A Day (from Republic, 1993)

I’m closing things off with a track that I’ve come to love and appreciate only in recent years. I was never fond of much of the parent album and thought it was a sad ending (as it appeared at the time) to the band’s career. I also hated the promo video that accompanied the release of Ruined In A Day as a single and struggled to disassociate the two. But a few years ago, this came up via shuffle while I was lazing out in the garden on one of the few sunny days we get in Glasgow and it just sounded quite lovely through the headphones. It would probably have made a superb Electronic record….just imagine Johnny Marr adding a guitar solo in the middle of it and it would be damn near perfect.

So there you have it. A third volume, and while it is easy to bemoan the lack of some classics, I think it hangs together pretty well.

Bonus track today. It’s featured before on the blog in video form. If you do like this, then I urge you to go and purchase it along with the other four versions that are available:-

mp3 : Mike Garry & Joe Duddell – St Anthony : An Ode to Anthony H Wilson

Just when you thought Your Silent Face couldn’t be bettered. Buy here.



Here’s the list of all the singers/bands who got to #1 in the Indie Singles Charts in 1987:-

Ciccone Youth, Age of Chance, The Smiths (three times), Erasure (two times), Gaye Bykers on Acid, The Soup Dragons, All About Eve, New Order (two times), M/A/R/R/S, Fields of the Nephilim and Nina Simone.

The last-named sort of sticks out somewhat doesn’t it?

My Baby Just Cares For Me had originally been recorded in 1958 for Nina’s debut LP Little Girl Blue. Despite the likes of Frank Sinatra, Julie London and Pat Boone all recording it in the 60s, this jazz song was really quite obscure until some marketing whizzkid decided it would make the perfect accompaniment to an advert for Chanel No. 5 perfume.

Such was the popularity of the ad that there was a demand for the song to be released as a single which happened in October 1987 on Charly Records, a small label specialising in reissuing obscurities and whose distribution arrangements meant its releases could qualify for the indie charts.

mp3 : Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me

My Baby Just Cares For Me went to #5 in the mainstream charts and spent 5 week at top of the indie charts. It was preceded and then succeeded by these: –

mp3 : Fields Of The Nephilim – Blue Water
mp3 : New Order – Touched By The Hand Of God

More invaluable knowledge for pub quizzes.



The fifth single from New Order. And the one which propelled them to stardom.

No-one can argue that it isn’t a classic. A song that was really quite like no other on its release. And the record sleeve is also one of the most recognisable of all time.

It is not known just how many copies of FAC 73 were sold after its release on 7 March 1983. It’s reckoned to be over a million, but because Factory Records weren’t part of the British Phonographic Industry, there are no reliable figures nor certifications or awards.

The story over the years is that the sleeve was so expensive that every copy sold actually cost the record label money. It’s a great story but its simply not true.

Yes, the initial editions with a die-cut cover and cut outs and silver inner sleeve were expensive to manufacture and package. However, once the single sold out its initial run the sleeve got progressively more simple and cheaper with each repressing.

I’ve got three copies of Blue Monday in the cupboard full of vinyl – all have different sleeves ranging from the more expensive original to what is no more than a plain black cover with the colour coding on the right hand side. You needed to own a copy of the Power, Corruption & Lies LP to decipher the code – it actually spells out the song title on both sides of the vinyl, the name of the band and the catalogue number. And here, ripped direct from the vinyl, is the music:-

mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday
mp3 : New Order – The Beach

Still sounds amazing all these years later.


(and again on 8 November 2013)


I’m not sure how many singles are released in the UK every week. Let’s guesstimate at 200.

If so, this would mean that since 1 April 1982, there have more than 250,000 bits of product originally designed to rotate on a turntable at 45rpm made available to the great British public. And not one of them has been as majestic as the work of art and genius that is Temptation by New Order.

Yup, that’s the song I consider to be my all time favourite 45 on the very day that I turn 45. And given it has held down the position for 26 years, 2 months and 18 days, its likely to hold the coveted slot for quite a while yet. At least till I’m 78 I reckon….

I’ve loads of great memories associated with this song.

My then closest friend called me up one day to say that he’d gotten his hands on the latest New Order single. He said that it wasn’t like any of the previous two releases – Ceremony and Procession – but it was something that had to be heard to be believed. I immediately got on my bike and cycled the couple of miles to his house for a listen. My mate handed me the single and invited me to place it on the turntable. He then left the room and said he’d be back in a minute or two but I was to give him my initial impression.

I thought it was appalling. There was something just not quite right about it, and who was this new vocalist that had been drafted in with his helium-like voice? My mate came back in and asked me what I thought. I looked him in the eye and asked him if he’d gone off his head as it was dreadful. It was then he burst out laughing and let-on that the single was to be played, not at 45rpm, but at 33 and 1/3 rpm….

Which I did…..and immediately fell in love with the hypnotic and robotic rhythm pulsating from the cheap speakers. This was the New Order that Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton had been been promising us for so long – and the song that finally got them to emerge from the shadows of Joy Division and stand on their own eight feet.

I don’t know how many times we played that record back-to-back that night, but a few hours later, I was back on my bike on the way home singing different snatches of the song, a cassette recording in my pocket and looking forward to buying my very own copy the following day after I’d borrowed some money from my mum.

I was lucky enough to go into a record shop which had an assistant who asked ‘Do you want the 7” or 12” version?”, and my choice of the 12” turned out be inspired.

It was quite unlike the 7” which was by now so familiar to me. The sleeve was slightly different, it had a different introduction and it rotated on the turntable at 45 rpm. It also sounded, to my ears at least, a perfect recording whereas the 7″ seemed now to be something spliced up to come in at under 5 minutes for radio play….

Now it was my turn to phone my mate and get him on his bike down to my house, where he grudgingly accepted that the 12” version was superior.

It was all a bit disappointing that Temptation didn’t make the band instant superstars – I was a bit worried that having made such a masterpiece that did next-to-nothing, New Order would soon either choose to break-up or maybe just fade into obscurity..

Instead, the band just got bigger and better in so many ways over the next 10 years or so.

And with the inclusion of a new version of Temptation on the phenomenally-successful soundtrack to the film Trainspotting, the song finally got some long-overdue recognition and acknowledgment.

Which brings me to another story (if you’ll indulge me…)

I’d like to think that this series has highlighted how important my time at University was in terms of really developing a passion for music. Most of my weekends between late-1981 and mid-1985 were spent in various parts of the Students Union at Strathclyde University – be it Level 8 for gigs and the ‘popular’ indie-disco, or the smaller downstairs converted dining-room for the more obscure stuff mixed in with the Goths.

Upon graduating, I moved to Edinburgh to live and work and I reckoned that I’d never set foot in the building again. Which I didn’t……

………until 12 years later when I accompanied a local dignitary who I worked for as he had the task of giving a welcome speech as part of an event for the fresh intake of students in September 1997. The location was the newly furbished Level 8 of the very building that I had spent so many happy nights. I was a bit unsure of myself as I got into the lift to go up the 8 floors of the building where maybe 300 or so students were patiently waiting for the formalities to begin. As I stepped into the space, my jaw visibly dropped at how different it all looked….the makeover had changed the old haunt beyond recognition……but the real shock was to hear that the song coming over the speakers was Temptation. I was a bit spooked to say the least…

It turned out that the CD to the Trainspotting soundtrack was what was being played, but to have arrived at that moment as Barney was singing about grey eyes, green eyes and blue eyes was really disconcerting…

But it’s not just the stories and memories that makes this song so very special.

The 12” version of this song is so joyously infectious that you can’t help but sing along. Its so incredibly catchy that you can’t stop yourself dancing. Its also a track that has often been a live tour-de-force at New Order gigs. The early 90s documentary ‘New Order Story’ has got an especially incredible version recorded live at Montreux in Switzerland…

I don’t know how many times I’ve played Temptation. It was a near staple inclusion on all the compilation tapes I used to make, and I still include one version or another of it on many of the playlists compiled for the I-pod. I have never ever grown bored by it, and know that I never will.

And… I mentioned above, there’s also the fact that it did so much to establish New Order as an act in their own image, and not just three seemingly non-descript blokes and a shy girl looking to carry on where Joy Division had left off.

I’ve never seen anyone quite like you before. No I’ve never heard anyone quite like you before.

mp3 : New Order – Temptation (12 inch version)
mp3 : New Order – Hurt (12 inch version)

PS :

Bonus Birthday mix-tape for you all…..see above!!