SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 5)

The last night of the fair
By the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed, his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine

The last night of the fair
She is famous, she is funny
An engagement ring doesn’t mean a thing
To a mind consumed by brass(money)

And though I walk home alone
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

The last night of the fair
From a seat on a whirling waltzer
Her skirt ascends for a watching eye
It’s a hideous trait on her mother’s side

The last night of the fair
From a seat on a whirling waltzer
Her skirt ascends for a watching eye
It’s a hideous trait on her mother’s side

And though I walk home alone
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout
I may walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

Then someone falls in love and and someone’s beaten up
Someone falls in love
The pulses being beat are mine

And someone falls in love
And someone’s beaten up, someone’s beaten up
And the senses being dulled are mine

And tonight I will walk home alone
I will walk home alone
But still my faith in love is still devout
Though I woke home alone
I may walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

This the last night of the fair
And by the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed and his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine

She is famous, she is funny
An engagement ring doesn’t mean a thing
To a mind consumed by brass(money)

Though I walk home alone
Yes I might walk home alone
Sill, my faith in love is still devout
I might walk home alone tonight
My faith in love is still devout

So scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
This means you really love me
Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
This means you really love me

And then… I might walk home alone
I might walk home alone
But my faith in love is still devout
My faith in love is still devout
My faith in love is still devout

This is the last night of the fair
And the grease in the hair of the speedway operator
Is it all a tremulous heart requires?
A girl is denied
She said: “How quickly would I die if I jumped from the top of the parachutes?”

This is the last night of the fair
And the grease in the hair of a speedway operator
Is all a tremulous heart requires
A girl who is denied says
“How quickly would I if I jumped from the top of the parachutes?”

Please….scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
And this means you really love me
Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
And this means you really love me

And yes, I walk home alone
I might walk home alone
But still, my faith in love is still devout

mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (early version)

Indeed.

JC

30, 20, 10 (Part 5)

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.

Last month gave us what you would imagine to be an atypical trio of indie hits over the decades with New Order, Oasis and Arctic Monkeys featuring. September 1987 continues in a similar vein but the #1s from the following two decades are as far from indie as you can imagine….especially 2007.

1 September 1987 : mp3 : The Smiths – Girlfriend In A Coma

Some four weeks prior, the UK weekly newspaper NME had exclusively revealed the break-up of The Smiths just as the band were preparing to promote the first single to be lifted from their fourth studio LP although details were hazy.  The story was followed up a week later with the revelation that guitarist Johnny Marr had left the band (or been sacked depending on the spin you believed) but that a replacement was being sought to allow things to carry on as normal.  It was a bizarre time for fans of the band and things weren’t really helped with the first exposure to the new single which, at just over 2 mins in length and with a nonsensical lyric over a lightweight tune, isn’t easy to fall in love….well, not until repeated exposure and then you realise there is some wonderful guitar playing within it as well as the hints of strings, albeit synthetically reproduced thanks to electronica. It’s grown on me over the years but I still think it is one of, if not the, weakest single the band released back in the day.

1 September 1997 :  Tina Moore – Never Gonna Let You Go

I have no idea what this sounds like…can’t recall it at all.  Nope.  Think it’s the first time I’ve ever heard it.  It’s ghastly.  Turning to wiki:-

“Never Gonna Let You Go” is a single by American singer Tina Moore. Originally released in 1995, the song reached #27 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In 1997, a UK garage remix of the song by Kelly G was released and became a Top 10 hit in the UK, peaking at #7 on the UK Singles Chart.

DJ Magazine ranked it number 62 in their list of Top 100 Club Tunes in 1998. MTV Dance placed “Never Gonna Let You Go” at #92 in their list of The 100 Biggest 90’s Dance Anthems Of All Time in November 2011.

If you must listen…..

It qualified for the indie charts via that loophole I mentioned in an earlier posting;

“Inclusion on the indie chart was always about distribution. Initially, the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group and the genre of music was irrelevant. The major labels however got round this by setting up subsidiary labels and outsourcing the shipping of those singles to smaller distribution services.

It took until June 2009 to close this loophole when the industry altered the rules so that in addition to distribution criteria a single was only eligible for the Indie Chart is it was on a label that was at least fifty per cent owned by an entity that was not one of the main four record companies.”

Tina Moore was on a subsidiary of Warner Bros.

But here’s probably the best possible example of the rules being bent….

1 September 2007 : Elvis Presley – My Baby Left Me

If you look this up, you’ll find that it’s a song that dates back to 1950 and that Elvis Presley recorded and released it in 1956 as a b-side to I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.  I have no idea why it was released as a single in 1997 – it was of course the 20th anniversary of his death and it could well have been related to that.  It was put out on Memphis Recordings but let’s face the facts….Elvis was really part of RCA Records most of his career up until his death and so all recordings can be traced back to whichever multinational was in ownership of the songs in 2007 (I think it was Sony).

Much more of these outcomes and I’ll be dropping this series for breaching trading standards descriptions.

JC

BONUS POST : A REVIEW OF ‘ENGLAND IS MINE’

WARNING : Negative words alert!!!!!

What follows won’t really come as a surprise to those of you who are in the unfortunate position of being able to read my Facebook posts.

Within 15 minutes of the credits rolling on England Is Mine, I was back on the train home to Glasgow. The original plan had been to head along to a post-screening reception that Mr John Greer had kindly arranged access to, but I felt I was a bit casually dressed for such a grand occasion and besides, if I had to bow to the decorum expected of such events, I’d needed to have lied through gritted teeth about my views on the film if asked by anyone involved in its making.

Instead I got to work on an instant review as the train headed west. And here’s what I typed.

“Sorry to say, but I thought the film was a real let down. The script, or lack of one, was a shocker. Anyone who went along tonight with no idea of the backstory would have been bemused and not really been able to follow it.

Morrissey was portrayed mainly as a one-dimensional character, with just one short scene with Linder showing any sense of warm humour. The world of work is populated by one-dimensional characters lifted straight from sit-com casting central; nobody understands our would be poet/writer/singer, especially his male colleagues and his boss, while his one female colleague just wants to get inside his y-fronts.

Oh and it constantly rains in Manchester too……

Soundtrack was enjoyable mind you.”

Leaving aside that I repeated the phrase ‘one-dimensional’, it’s not too shabby an instant reaction. A few other folk I know were also at the showing and some of them also gave fairly quick reactions via social media and it’s fair to say they didn’t agree with me.

The first two or three lengthy on-line reviews that followed a few hours later were also quite scathing although later opinions tended to be more favourable and offered various degrees of praise. As far as I can see, however, nobody has come out and said it’s a masterpiece.

Reflecting on things almost 24 hours on and the word I didn’t use in the Facebook review was ‘boring’ because that would have been what I’d have said if I was asked for a one-word reaction. If allowed a second word, it would have been ‘cliched’.

The truth of the matter is that Morrissey, from the ages of 17-24, didn’t lead a particularly exciting life and so a film biopic will always be on a hiding to nothing. The main issue for me was the poor quality of the script, but as was explained in one review, this stemmed from the screenwriters’ inability to quote anything that Morrissey was known to have said in real life for fear of being sued given the whole venture was unauthorised. As such, the few decent lines were given to other characters and Jack Lowden, in the role of our protagonist, has to rely on facial expressions and mannerisms to convince us of the depth of his character (and to be fair, he does a reasonable job). The best performance in the film comes from Jessica Brown Findlay in the role of Linder Sterling, but this is perhaps down to the fact that enough is known about the real life Linder to appreciate that the actress delivers an accurate and sympathetic portrayal of someone who, in real life, is an interesting personality in her own right.

My biggest problem was the way the other supporting characters came across. It was as if the director and scriptwriter had watched The Office and decided that the male characters who worked at the Inland Revenue alongside Morrissey should be as Brent-esque & co as possible. Maybe that was what they were really like in the late 70s but it was really dreadful, unfunny and predictable – as too were the scenes in which our hero finds himself on an enforced date with his flirtatious female colleague.

Much has been written about the influence that Morrissey’s mother had on him growing up, but for all but one scene they barely acknowledge one another. There is also little made of Morrissey’s alleged rapier-like wit that seemingly got him noticed on the Manchester scene – for 80% of the movie he is mostly an incoherent, bumbling individual bar the occasional exchange with Linder, but all of a sudden, after he has come off prescribed anti-depressant medication, only in the final 15 minutes of the movie, in which has also smartened up his dress sense and gotten a fashionable haircut, do the barbed comments start to flow.

The most pathetic scene, however, was when our hero, having had his genius denied just once too often for his liking, goes all Incredible Hulk on us and destroys his previously cave-like bedroom where everything was in a particular place for a particular purpose. Oh, and don’t get me started on Johnny Marr being straight out of the cast of the UK edition of Shameless…….

I don’t like to be negative on this little corner of the internet, but having already posted how excited I was to be going along to the premiere, I don’t think I can avoid sharing these thoughts with you.

And in the interest of balance, if anyone wants to offer a more positive review, I’d be very happy to post it.

Any excuse mind you to post the song from which the film title is taken:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Still Ill

JC

30, 20, 10 (Part 1)

Something new that I’m going to try to do on the 1st day of each month (or as close to the 1st if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday). And that’s bring the songs that were #1 in the UK Indie Charts 30, 20 and 10 years ago to the day. Unless they are pish and only qualified for the Indie charts thanks to a distribution quirk. So here we go with 1 May 1987, 1997 and 2007 respectively.

mp3 : The Smiths – Sheila Take A Bow (Rough Trade)
R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly (Jive Records)
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Brianstorm (Domino Records)

I’m actually quite pleased about it being these three. The Smiths and Arctic Monkeys are two of the biggest and best known bands who can be thought of as classic indie – i.e. guitar based bands on small, independently owned labels. R Kelly on the other hand shows up how ludicrous the chart was for a good number of years.

Inclusion on the indie chart was always about distribution. Initially, the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group and the genre of music was irrelevant. The major labels however got round this by setting up subsidiary labels and outsourcing the shipping of those singles to smaller distribution services. Thus a single that was part of the soundtrack to a Hollywood film and which had enough clout to pick up 3 Grammy Awards thanks to it being on Atlantic Records in the USA, was eligible to take the #1 slot in a chart that it really shouldn’t have been any part of.

It took until June 2009 to close this loophole when the industry altered the rules so that in addition to distribution criteria a single was only eligible for the Indie Chart is it was on a label that was at least fifty per cent owned by an entity that was not one of the main four record companies.

I’m sure this intended regular feature will throw up some howlers as time moves on, particularly in the 90s and 00s.

Oh and I meant to add that I was astounded that the Arctic Monkeys had a #1 on the chart as long as ten years ago from what was their second LP. I never thought they had been around that long. It’s a belter of a single too.

And as I just happen to own some vinyl, here’s the b-sides from the 12″ release in 1987 and the 10″ release in 2007:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Is It Really So Strange?
mp3 : The Smiths – Sweet and Tender Hooligan
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – If You Found This It’s Probably Too Late
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – Temptation Greets Like A Naughty Friend
mp3 : Arctic Monkeys – What If You Were Right The First Time?

Temptation features a cameo vocal contribution from the wonderful Dizzee Rascal.

JC

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (7)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 25 MARCH 2008

(and again on 31 October 2013)

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The position of this song in the chart will come as a shock to many regular readers and to those who have known me for many years. There’s at least one mate who tipped it to be #1….

I was fortunate enough to be around when The Smiths first came to prominence. They remain my all-time favourite band, and I don’t think they will ever lose that particular mantle however long I manage to live.

I was present at their first ever gig in Scotland – at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow on Saturday 2nd March 1984. This was a truly astonishing night in a small student-venue that was packed to the rafters. It was very hot, sweaty and tightly-packed and it is probably the nearest I’ve ever came to passing-out at a concert.

The Smiths had not long cracked the Top 20 with their third single What Difference Does It Make?, while their recently-released debut LP had gone Top 10. So they were hardly a secret.

The venue was woefully inadequate for the demand for tickets, and there were dozens of folk outside pleading for the lucky few to sell for way over the cost (which I can’t recall, but was no more than £4 or £5). The level of expectancy was enormous, and the build-up to the band taking the stage bordered on insane hysteria. I’d never experienced anything like it beforehand, and never again since (although the first five minutes down the front of the Morrissey ‘comeback gig’ at the MEN Arena in 2003 came awfully close).

Steven, Johnny, Mike and Andy took to the stage to a crescendo of noise – I was worried that the crowd was so loud that we wouldn’t hear anything above it. The opening notes of Hand In Glove were struck – if anything this only cranked up the atmosphere. The one song that those of us who had been in from the start adored above all else – the song that had been the flop single with the controversial nude male on the sleeve – and the song that seemed more than anything to sum-up what was a truly unique relationship between the band and its fans.

And that is why Hand In Glove is my all time favourite single by my all time favourite band.

And because it is my favourite, I was prepared to pay a fair amount of money to pick up a mint copy of the single on e-bay as a replacement for the one lost all those years ago in Edinburgh. Let’s face it, the b-side, which to my knowledge has never appeared on any subsequent compilation, is every bit as amazing:-

mp3 : The Smiths – Hand In Glove
mp3 : The Smiths – Handsome Devil (live at The Hacienda)

As with The Wedding Present, there would have been multiple entries for The Smiths in this chart were it not for the one single per artist rule that I set. In fact as much as one-quarter of the chart could have been a Morrissey/Marr compilation.

I surprised myself when I identified six other 45s that were even more of a favourite than this.

You’ll soon learn what they are over the coming days, but I suspect that many of you will be beginning to narrow it down pretty accurately.

 

BONUS POSTING : OCD EPs : #2 : THE SMITHS

A GUEST POSTING FROM DAVE GLICKMAN

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For the second OCD EP, I have chosen The Smiths. Maybe I went a bit overboard with the foreshadowing in the previous installment, but I’ll leave that type of literary analysis to future generations of academics who choose to study the golden age of indie music blogging.

A much more challenging task to narrow things down this time, as over the years, quite a bit of previously unreleased material has been “leaked” on the internet – a couple sets of recordings from the aborted Troy Tate sessions for the debut album, unreleased BBC radio sessions, and various demos, outtakes and alternative versions of songs spanning the lifetime of the band. Everything in my Smiths’ library is generally accessible on the internet, so if you are hoping for A Matter of Opinion or the complete version of I Want a Boy for My Birthday, then I am sorry to disappoint you. For the most part, in what follows, I’ve chosen to focus on what I find interesting, not necessarily most enjoyable or better than the official released versions.

Side One

1. Accept Yourself (Troy Tate alternate vocal and piano version)

In his book “The Songs That Saved Your Life,” Simon Goddard mentions two different versions of Accept Yourself from the Troy Tate debut album sessions. Of this second version we have here, he says:

“…the second version being particularly impressive with its staccato rock ‘n’ roll piano punches during the pre-chorus breakdowns, Morrissey’s doubled vocal and some enlivening falsetto shrieks.”

There is certainly something to the piano work that could have found its way into later versions, but obviously didn’t. As for the alternative vocals, I suspect everyone involved was comfortable moving in a different direction.

2. The Queen Is Dead (original unedited version)

To be consistent with the overall theme of this EP, I should really put the trumpet version of Frankly, Mr. Shankly here. However, while unique, I just don’t find it that interesting a listen. So instead, here is the complete, high octane version of TQID, before the decision was made to trim it down a bit for the album. It’s all the greatness you’ve come to expect from the song, with 17% more free!

Side Two

3. Never Had No One Ever (studio outtake)

It’s not that I don’t like the album version of this song, it’s just that I Know It’s Over is a very tough act to follow. However, when I first heard this version with the extended trumpet solo and Morrissey’s moans and laughing, it was a complete revelation. There was a bluesy lounge song hidden there all this time just waiting to get out. This is one case where I think the alternative version (fully worked up) might actually have worked well in place of the official album track.

4. Sheila Take A Bow (original John Porter version)

I don’t really have anything to add to Analog Loyalist’s notes from when this track originally leaked:

“One of the more famous episodes in Smiths session history, this song was originally produced by John Porter, signed, sealed and delivered, ready to go. Then for whatever reason the band had a rethink, decamped to another studio with Stephen Street, and re-recorded the song (sampling some of Porter’s guitar work in the process, to save time – which miffed Porter, understandably, since they never asked for permission).

This original version is much more jangly, with Porter on emulated sitar, while the final Street take is all T.Rex‘ed out. Marr’s zingy guitars are all over the stereo field and it’s really a wonderful recording. It’s almost as if Porter knew this was the last time he’d be working with the band (it was), so he had Marr lay down 30 times more guitars than normal as a parting gift.”

5. Girlfriend In A Coma (early take)

It’s the Bob Marley version.

Dave

FIVE YEARS AGO THIS VERY DAY….

Funeral-Flowers

…..my best mate died after a two-year battle against leukaemia.  It was on Tuesday 12 April 2011. He was 46 years old. One of the things I did at the time was indicate that I was going to take a short break from blogging as I was physically and emotionally frazzled.

A few days later, I got an email from ctel, who as you know is responsible for the Acid Ted blog, telling me there had been more than 40 messages of sympathy left behind in the comments section and that this had inspired him to want to keep the then Vinyl Villain blog going during this difficult period for me.  (He had details of my log in and passwords as he had in the past stepped in with some emergency postings on a number of occasions when I’d unexpectedly been left with access to a PC or laptop).

Ctel put up the following:-

I only just read JC’s post about his best friend’s death from leukaemia and that he won’t be blogging until the end of this month. I’ve also read the comments on the post. But I thought that we could do more to show support.

I’d like anyone reading to send me a post and an accompanying track on the theme of happiness or sadness. Can be a song that gets you through sad times or one that shares the joy.

He gave details of how to get in touch with him before kicking things off by posting up a song he had dedicated to me on the day of my late brother’s funeral some nine months earlier (he had died in a car accident at the age of 43):-

mp3 : Orbital – Belfast/Wasted

I still can’t listen to this without getting a lump in my throat.  It’s an extraordinarily powerful and intense piece of music.

Over the next 30 days or so, the blog resounded to guest postings from all corners of the globe.  I would love to have been able to reproduce them once again, but the archives to which I have access are missing some six or seven of that particular series and it wouldn’t be right to only feature those that haven’t disappeared completely into cyberspace.

Google’s actions in destroying the old blog were unforgivable for a lot of reasons, but none more so for the fact that so many heartfelt words and sentiments are lost forever.

That so many did contribute has made me determined to have whatever blog(s) I’m involved in be as inclusive as possible, which is why I’m so proud of the fact that many of you have contributed an ICA.  But please, don’t feel you have to be restricted to that series….contributions on all matters are willingly accepted.

In the meantime, I’ll have a quiet reflection about my mate – I don’t think a single day has gone by in the past five years that I haven’t thought of him – but I’ll also take time to again appreciate everyone I’ve had contact with thanks to this blog.

My mate incidentally, was a professional footballer. With shite taste in music.  He couldn’t bear just about anything I listened to. This one particularly annoyed him:-

mp3 : The Smiths – This Charming Man

Cheers folks