ON A DUSTY SHELF IN A CHARITY SHOP

AS SEEN OVER AT THE OLD BLOG ON 12 FEBRUARY 2009

This is a single I’ve been hopeful of finding for a while, and I finally got my hands on a copy when I was out the other week with Ed from 17 Seconds browsing around a Glasgow charity store.

I bought Regina on 12″ when it was released back in 1989 as I thought that would be the way to get the most unusual version of the song – i.e. sung in Icelandic. What I wasn’t aware of until about five years later when I heard the song played in a pub I was sitting in was that the double-pack 7″ had two other versions under the title Propeller vs Jet. I was kicking myself thinking that my chance to ever own something that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the solo stuff Bjork was releasing had gone forever.

But being given a USB turntable got me collecting vinyl again after the best part of 15 years….and as I said earlier, I picked it up in the most unexpected of places.

And so, for (what was) the first time in TVV history, here’s four versions of the same songs in the one sitting. I’ll apologise if you really don’t like lobster……

mp3 : The Sugarcubes – Regina (extended)
mp3 : The Sugarcubes – Regina (Icelandic vocal)
mp3 : The Sugarcubes – Regina (Propeller vs Jet Part 1)
mp3 : The Sugarcubes – Regina (Propeller vs Jet Part 2)

Here’s the other two tracks that were put on this limited edition double-pack:-

mp3 : The Sugarcubes – Hey
mp3 : The Sugarcubes – Hot Meat

They are strictly b-side material, quite experimental in nature and with a vocal delivery that would subsequently become familiar to music fans all over the world.

I should also say that the sound quality of the recordings of the Propeller v Jet versions aren’t great….not the best vinyl pressing I’ve ever bought.  You’ll likely need to turn the volume up.

JC

REMEMBERING SUGARCUBES

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I’m sure many of you know that Bjork enjoyed a fair bit of fame pre-solo career with Sugarcubes, who until the recent emergence of Sigur Ros were probably about the only Icelandic pop act many of us could name. They formed in 1986, and went onto release three LPs on One Little Indian to mixed critical acclaim.

The debut LP Life’s Too Good was almost universally praised, with most focus being on the extraordinary vocal style of the gorgeous looking female lead singer. Indeed, lead-off single Birthday, was voted #1 in John Peel’s Festive Fifty in 1987. Surely the only ever record about a love affair between a five year old girl and her 50-year old neighbour…..if the tabloids had been able to make out the lyrics there would surely have been an outcry.

mp3 : Sugarcubes – Birthday

All of this attention and focus on Bjork didn’t sit entirely well with Einar Benediktsson the other vocalist in the group. The follow-up LP Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week! featured far more of his contributions than before, a situation that led at least one reviewer to advise listeners that if they wanted to remain fans of the bands there were a number of tracks that the skip button had surely been invented for. The first single lifted from the LP brought Einar’s talents to the full:-

mp3 : Sugarcubes – Regina

The LP did climb in to the Top 20 of the album charts which created a situation where the band were in a sort of limbo…..being just too successful to be simply a cult indie band, but unable to make that leap into pop stardom via Radio 1 daytime exposure and Smash Hits magazine.

The next LP, Stick Around For Joy, took a fair bit of time and money to make…much of the recording was in an expensive studio in New York. It was far more of a pop album than any of the previous efforts and it did yield a cracking Top 20 single and an appearance on Top of The Pops:-

mp3 : Sugarcubes – Hit

Things might have turned out differently for everyone if the follow-up single had enjoyed similar success, but despite it being even more commercial than Hit, it sold dismally:-

mp3 : Sugarcubes – Walkabout

Two more flop singles followed, shortly followed by the inevitable break-up not long after. Bjork of course released a debut LP some 18 months later that turned her into a global superstar.

On 17th November 2006, Sugarcubes reformed for a one-off concert in Reykjavik to mark their 20th Anniversary. At the time, in a posting over at the old place, I did express a hope that maybe in 2011 for the 25th Anniversary they might briefly reform and tour. It didn’t happen and I’m guessing Bjork has a big enough pension fund to ensure it never will.

Sigh.