Yesterday’s posting was inspired by an ICA featuring a b-side.   Well, whatdyaknow?  One of the very best ICAs was one which consisted solely of b-sides.

Here’s The Robster back on 23 June 2015 with something from ICA #18-

“Edam Anchorman : b-side of (Drawing) Rings Around The World (2001)

One of my fave Super Furry Animals singles had this little monkey hiding almost unnoticed on its flip. It reminds of so many other things that have come out much more recently, but as is the norm for the Furries, they seemed to be ahead of their time back in 2001. One of the biggest, most anthemic choruses they’ve done.”

(Drawing) Rings Around The World was the second single taken from the band’s fifth album, Rings Around The World. It was released on 8 October 2001 on 12″ vinyl and on enhanced CD which also contained the promo video.  Each version had three songs, albeit just two tunes:-

mp3: Super Furry Animals – (Drawing) Rings Around The World
mp3: Super Furry Animals – Edam Anchorman
mp3: Super Furry Animals – All The Shit U Do

The single did get to #28 in the UK charts, and was also voted in at #21 in the John Peel Festive 50 of 2001.


45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 18)


28. Slow Life – Super Furry Animals (2004, Placid Casual Records)

Released as a Free Download EP in April 2004 (Did not chart)

For such a small place, the Devon market town of Bovey Tracey holds a great deal of history. Firstly it is half named after the chap who is linked to the murder of Thomas Beckett. Secondly, it is where Cromwell ransacked a few armies and stole quite a lot of horses and changed British society for ever. It is also the gateway to the Moor, Dartmoor that is, the only place in Britain where you can genuinely get all four seasons in one day, whatever time of the year you go there.

But, all that is knocked into a cocked hat because when history is evaluated and assessed Bovey Tracey will only ever be remembered for one thing.

Badger falling off a bar stool in the Cromwell Arms, after a goat bit him on the arm.

The goat bit him on the arm because Badger had refused to allow the goat to have a bit of his prawn and lettuce sandwich.

The thing was the goat was a more of a regular in the Cromwell that Badger was. The goat belonged to a chap who I only know as ‘Puffin’, I have no idea why they call him Puffin. The goat would pop in after a hard day’s erm, goating, in the town, he would then be presented with a bowl full of Guinness and a packet of steak flavoured crisps. Puffin would follow him in and the two would sit (or stand, in, the goats case), have their drinks, chat to their mates, have a game of darts and then leave around dinner time.

Badger was in there having some late tea with Mrs Badger, when the goat was denied his pre-dinner snack. The goat having finished his crisps decided that the prawn sandwich looked rather tasty. According to Mrs Badger, it ambled over to Tim, nudged him a bit and tried to nibble the end of the sandwich. Tim fearing for his tea lifted the plate above his head with his left arm, and tried to shoo the goat away with his right arm. This annoyed the goat, who promptly bit him on the shooing arm.

This caused him to drop the plate and allowed the goat to nimbly take the lettuce out of the sandwich are return to his place by the fire. Badger declined the offer of a fresh sandwich but did take up the local doctor’s advice of having a free dose of tetanus. Puffin apologised to Badger for the bite, and told him that the goat only did it because the barman poured him Beamish instead of Guinness and Beamish apparently made the goat ‘rowdy’.

Bringing this back to the reason why I am here. A few years ago, as some of you will remember, a blog I wrote ran down a list of 200 songs that according to Badger and I were the ‘Greatest Songs in the World’ – we called that list rather arrogantly The WYCRA 200. That list was largely conceived (if that’s the right word) in the Cromwell Arms. Additionally, the follow up blog to WYCRA, The Sound of Being Ok had its inaugural blog summit, in the same place and in Badger’s coat pocket that lunchtime was a copy of ‘Phantom Power’ which contains of course ‘Slow Life’

I found the original list for the WYCRA 200, a few weeks back and on reviewing that list, I found it was staggering how much of that list I would change if I ever did that list again (and I won’t be). I mean this would be in the Top 50 for a start

So Few Words – Archive (1996, London Records, Unknown Chart Position)

It didn’t even make the Top 200 at all last time around.

In fact quite a lot of the entire list would have moved around considerably. That, I guess is joy and frustration of music. I think that most of the bands would have been the same, but the songs would I think be different and in a different order, if that makes sense.

For instance – on that list somewhere (its number isn’t really important) was ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ by Super Furry Animals. A track which I still love for lots of reasons but if I were to redo that list Ice Hockey Hair would be booted out for ‘Slow Life’.

Ice Hockey Hair (1998, Creation Records, Number 12)





From wiki:-

Juxtapozed with U” is the thirteenth single by Super Furry Animals. It was the first single to be taken from the Rings Around the World album and reached number 14 on the UK Singles Chart on its release in July 2001.

It was inspired by the Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder track “Ebony and Ivory” as well as the work of Marvin Gaye and Caetano Veloso. The track was originally conceived as a duet, with the band approaching both Brian Harvey from East 17, and Bobby Brown to sing alongside Gruff Rhys. Both turned the band down so Rhys sang the verses through a vocoder to imitate another person, something which he has described as a “very schizophrenic thing to do”.

Rhys has claimed his lyrics address social injustice and are about “house prices going up, and people being left behind by the super rich”. The song has echoes of the Philadelphia soul music of the 1970s as well as David Bowie’s “plastic” approximation of the sound on his 1975 album Young Americans. The group tried to make the song as “plastic” as possible: “if we’d tried to make it sound authentic, it would have been awful.”

According to Rhys the band were keen to challenge people’s opinions of them with the track which is a “shocking song, because you can’t shock with loud guitars any more” and, as a polished uplifting pop song, is “fairly subversive” when contrasted with the macho guitar music which the band felt was prevalent in 2001.

It’s a song that got a lot of critical acclaim and in reaching #14, it provided the band with their second biggest hit to that point in time (Northern Lites had got to #11 two years previously while Golden Retriever would later become the second-best performing single, hitting #13 in 2003).

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Juxtaposed With U

Having said that, it wasn’t one which found much favour with our old friend and native of Wales, the Robster, who made the observation that both of its b-sides were better:-

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Tradewinds
mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Happiness Is A Worn Pun

Indeed, Robster included both songs in his Super Furry Animals ICA, which appeared as far back as June 2015. It was an ICA with a difference as it consisted solely of b-sides, all of which were top quality. Here’s what he said about the above two songs:-

Tradewinds : A cool funky reggae sound with a hazy psychedeleic bent. It was the b-side of what was at the time my least favourite Furries single. While the a-side has grown on me over time, I was always a fan of Tradewinds

Happiness Is A Warm Pun : Bowie circa Aladdin Sane could have written this. He’d have probably left out the Sasquatch though. Bit too strange for Dave, I reckon. Both b-sides of Juxtaposed With U are still better than the lead track.

I miss the Robster. He’s a great writer with a real love for his music, never afraid to offer an opinion that goes against the grain.

I’ve sent him a link to this posting in the hope that he reads it and perhaps gets him in the mood for another guest posting or two



According to the lyric in the lead song lifted from today’s featured EP, the three things in the title of this post are the answers to the question ‘What Is The Meaning Of Life?’

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Smokin’

Ice Hockey Hair EP contains four songs which Super Furry Animals felt didn’t fit in with the material they were recording for the album Radiator, their first Top 10 album released in 1997.  The title track has an unusual back story in that it was commissioned by Channel 4 for a programme about sloth as part of a series on the seven deadly sins.  The programme in question was presented by Howard Marks who had, of course, been namechecked previously by the band.

Wiki reveals that the band nipped inyo a small community recording studio in Cardiff, decided to loop a sample of a Black Uhuru track “I Love King Selassie”, playing along and writing Smokin’ completely spontaneously.

mp3 : Black Uhuru – I Love King Selassie

As for the other three tracks, Ice Hockey Hair is a 7 minute epic in which the band throw the kitchen sink, production wise and give a taster of much of what was to come in the next album, Guerilla, one which didn’t quite do so well as Radiator.  Ice Hockey Hair seems to be a Swedish description of a very bad hairstyle akin to a mullet.

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Ice Hockey Hair

The CD is completed by a short, less than two minutes long, remix of the lead song and a low-key instrumental track named after a guitar effects pedal:-

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Mu-Tron
mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Let’s Quit Smoking

This climbed all the way to #12 in the UK singles chart and Smokin’ was given the #2 position in the NME best singles of 1998….beaten by the rather fabulous Intergalactic by The Beastie Boys.



This, rather surprisingly, is the biggest chart success ever enjoyed by Super Furry Animals:-

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Northern Lites

It reached #11 in the summer of 1999. Now please, don’t get me wrong as I love the song. It was just that I was sure somewhere along the line they must have enjoyed at least one Top 10 hit and that it would have come via a single that was helped along by a decent promo video*; indeed I would probably have bet a fair bit of money that Golden Retriever was the biggest ever hit but it stalled at #13.

There were two high quality b-sides too, one of which made the Robster’s SFA ICA entirely of b-sides back in June 2015.

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Rabid Dog
mp3 : Super Furry Animals – This, That And The Other

They offer up great examples of the pop and electronica sides of the band. One could easily pass for Teenage Fanclub and the other reminds me of some of the early stuff from later years by Gorillaz……


* if you really want to look at what I reckon is one of the worst promo videos of all time, then just click here.




With apologies for those of you dropping in expecting to hear a loving critique of the Travolta/Newton-John duet that spent 183 weeks at #1 and prevented many a post-punk/new wave act reaching the pinnacle.

Summer Nights is the name given to an annual ten-day festival of gigs in Glasgow, with the venue being the quaint Kelvingrove Bandstand, originally constructed in 1924 and then totally refurbished and brought back into use in 2014 after a quarter of century of serious neglect. The concept is sound in that a well-known singer or artist gets to headline their own outdoor gig, coming on just as the sun goes down and the audience can begin to think about removing their sunglasses. The reality, certainly in 2016, was somewhat different.

The weather for the duration was dreadful. It rained a lot and a cold wind blew through the trees that surround this most picturesque of locations just a couple of miles from the city centre. Indeed, the wind was so strong that one gig had to be postponed and rescheduled due to fears that the audience were in danger from flying debris or that the bank of speakers conveying the sound would come crashing down.

The seating at the venue is entirely made up of concrete or wooden benches, every one of which is open to the elements. The venue is pretty and its natural shape and setting make for a decent sound….but it’s not the most comfortable of places. Oh and the beer and drinks are stupidly overpriced too….as indeed are the tickets which are £30-£40 depending on the headline act. It’s a lot to fork out for what, due to curfew issues in a built-up area, will be a 90-minute show with the minimum of lights due to the small size of the stage and a universal sound system whether you’re a smooth yet bland crooner or one of the usually loudest most kick-ass bands to come from these parts .

And yet… two appearances at 2016 Summer Nights turned out to be among the best gigs of the year thus far.

The cost of the tickets, combined with uncertainty of the weather, always means that I’ll restrict myself to one visit per year, deciding which of the acts is most attractive. In 2014 it was Teenage Fanclub and last year it was Roddy Frame. This time round I plumped for Super Furry Animals over other options such as Idlewild, Van Morrison, Lloyd Cole, Primal Scream and Will Young. The reasoning being that despite having long loved SFA I had never managed to catch them live in person, watching only on my TV screen as they played some sort of festival or other over the years.

The rain poured down all day but somehow it went off in the evening about an hour before the band took to the stage from where they delivered a ridiculously entertaining and energetic set tinged with the sort of silly humour for which they are famed. I don’t have everything they have ever released but still managed to recognise more than two-thirds of the songs with almost all my favourites receiving an airing:-

Slow Life
(Drawing) Rings Around the World
Do or Die
Ice Hockey Hair
Hello Sunshine
Pan Ddaw’r Wawr
Run! Christian, Run!
Hometown Unicorn
Juxtapozed With U
Bing Bong
The International Language of Screaming
Golden Retriever
Receptacle for the Respectable
Mountain People
The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

The latter was a 12-minute tour de force. Not quite up there with this epic 22:30 live version, recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo and released as a limited edition CD single in 2007:-

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (live)

If I was to slightly whinge about it, then it would be that it was all over too quickly and they didn’t play quite enough songs from Fuzzy Logic…..but I came away feeling very happy about my decision to go with them than any of the others.

The following day, a dreadful storm hit Glasgow, It was widely forecast and indeed had led to the Lloyd Cole gig being cancelled even before the SFA one had taken place. The upshot of all this was that a friend of a friend could no longer use their ticket as they were otherwise engaged the three nights later when it was rescheduled. I was happy to be the late substitute, especially as this was the first ever time I had been at a gig with the friend who had offered the ticket.

It was actually a two-headed monster as it was opened by Justin Currie & The Pallbearers.  The main man, despite not having enjoyed much chart success since his halcyon Del Amitri days, remains a popular draw in his home city. He’s still a thin and handsome chap, but I’m sorry to say too much of his set, which combined band and solo material, came across on the listless side.  One very notable exception being this…the track with which he closed the set and which was the subject of this great guest contribution on this blog back in September 2013:-

mp3 : Justin Currie – No, Surrender

I should say that things weren’t helped by the fact that it was pouring with rain and it was freezing, so much so that I was wearing a long raincoat and a woollen hat, both of which tend to come out of the clothes cupboard in November….not at a time when it should be more akin to t-shirts and shorts.

Lloyd Cole was being backed by The Leopards, a sort of Glasgow supergroup who are often seen playing alongside Vic Godard on his regular forays north of the border. They are the perfect foil for Lloyd nowadays, capable of doing justice to both the jingly-jangly stuff from the Commotions days as well as the harder and edgier stuff from the solo years. This must have been about the 20th time I’d seen Lloyd on stage and he’s never let me down. This was no exception thanks to a show that surprised and delighted, sticking solely to songs from the Commotions era and the first four of his solo albums, all of which are hugely underrated and under-appreciated.

Jennifer She Said
So You’d Like To Save The World
Weeping Wine
No Blue Skies
Everyone’s Complaining
Ice Cream Girl
Brand New Friend
Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?
Like Lovers Do
Perfect Skin
My Bag
Lost Weekend
Forest Fire
Morning Is Broken

It was a magical night, but one in which we all felt old when Lloyd, for the acoustic 1-2 of chevaux/heartbroken, was joined on stage by his now 23-year old son William. I think all the blokes in the audience took a look at William and yearned for the days when we were that thin and had that fine a head of hair. Gawd only knows what the women were thinking…..

Too many highlights to mention. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about it. Just a pity that I had to go to work the next day as it was the sort of night where you wanted to stay out for hours on end, making the most of the natural high the gig had provided. I’m far too old and sensible and with too many work responsibilities just now to contemplate a hangover. But I found that I couldn’t sleep when I got in, and so amused myself with watching the baseball live from Toronto (five hours behind us) where the Blue Jays wrapped up a perfect evening with a win. Lights went out at 3.15 am and alarm went off four hours later. Can’t really recommend it.

Oh and it turned out my friend also had real trouble sleeping after the gig. It was her first time ever seeing Lloyd Cole but she’s determined it won’t be her last. Seemingly while I was watching the baseball, she was playing his songs and having a wee dance round her living room. As I said, the sort of night where you really didn’t want the music to ever stop.

I’ve no doubt the organisers of Summer Nights are already thinking ahead to 2017 and I’ll do my usual of picking out one of the gigs and getting myself along. But it’ll be hard pushed to better those of this year….even if the sun does the unexpected and beats down on us from on high.

Cheers Mr Cole; and big thanks to the boys in the band, especially Mick Slaven for his amazing lead guitar work all night.

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Jennifer She Said
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Downtown




Here’s another guest contribution from The Robster whose musical memories and opinions can be enjoyed on a regular basis over at Is This The Life? I’m quite taken, not only by his contribution, but by the fact he’s designed a cracking album cover to go with it……

JC’s excellent Imaginary Compilations series is one of the best ideas for a blog item I’ve come across.

Following my Nick Cave contribution I got to thinking about numerous other compilations I could put together using the same rules – 10 songs over two sides of a vinyl LP that sound like it could be a properly coherent album. I don’t want to be greedy and take over this series with my stuff but my offer of a second piece has been kindly accepted. This time, I’ve decided to tackle the work of one of my faves, a band I had the immense pleasure of seeing recently – Super Furry Animals.

However, to put a different slant on it, I’ve chosen to do a b-sides comp. SFA are one of those bands who have made some cracking b-sides over the years, which made this task very difficult indeed. I’ve had to leave off some wonderful tunes, but what I’m left with is something I think works really well. The title is also the title of one of the tracks on my original long list that didn’t make the final cut. But it’s a great title so it stuck. I’ve compiled it into one of my podcast formats – a single file containing all songs and a short gap between the two ‘sides’. Pick it up at the bottom of the post. Here goes:

DEATH BY MELODY: An Imaginary B-Sides Compilation


1. Tradewinds :  b-side of Juxtaposed With U (2001)

Starting off with a song that could (should) soundtrack your summer. A cool funky reggae sound with a hazy psychedelic bent. It was the b-side of what was at the time my least favourite Furries single. While the a-side has grown on me over time, I was always a fan of Tradewinds.

2. Don’t Be A Fool, Billy b-side of Hometown Unicorn (1996)

And this one has long been one of my all-time fave SFA songs. Quite why they buried it on the b-side of such an early single is beyond me. Not only should it have been on the debut album, it really ought to have been a single in its own right. It did appear on the 1998 compilation ‘Out-Spaced’, but even then it was tucked away in the middle of the record, so easily overlooked.

3. (Nid) Hon Yw’r Gan Sy’n Mynd I Achub Yr Iaith : b-side of If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You (1996)

Trans.: This Is (Not) The Song That Is Going To Save The Language.

A typically lovely melody with an acoustic lilt, but offset with the buzzy guitar and slightly off-kilter key changes.

4. Happiness Is A Worn Pun :  b-side of Juxtaposed With U (2001)

Bowie circa Aladdin Sane could have written this. He’d have probably left out the Sasquatch though. Bit too strange for Dave, I reckon. Both b-sides of Juxtaposed With U are still better than the lead track.

5. This, That And The Other : b-side of Northern Lites (1999)

Another lazy, laid-back summer song, perhaps one for the evening this one. Sometimes it’s not the tune that makes the song, it’s everything else and the mood it creates. This is a great example of a song’s ambience taking centre stage while the melody drifts along in a low-key manner.


1. Charge : b-side of Ysbeidiau Heulog (2000)

The one where SFA sound like Man… Or Astroman? on steroids. Really rather rare, this one; Charge appeared on the b-side of the limited edition vinyl-only Ysbeidiau Heulog, the only single taken from the Welsh language album ‘Mwng’. It isn’t even included in this year’s deluxe reissue of said album. Shame – it’s a rip-roaring start to side-two.

2. Arnofio/Glo In The Dark : b-side of Something 4 The Weekend (1996)

This one picked itself really. It’s a favourite of the band who are actually playing it in their current live set. Of course, it meant nowt to half the people at the Cardiff show I attended last month, but to the otherwise initiated it was a treat.

3. Edam Anchorman : b-side of Rings Around The World (2001)

One of my fave SFA singles had this little monkey hiding almost unnoticed on its flip. It reminds of so many other things that have come out much more recently, but as is the norm for the Furries, they seemed to be ahead of their time back in 2001. One of the biggest, most anthemic choruses they’ve done.

4. These Bones : b-side of Run-Away (2007)

An unashamed pop song that will lurk around your head for weeks, keeping you grinning like a fool. The one track here not sung by Gruff Rhys. Not sure who is singing here, but my guess it’s guitarist Huw Bunford.

5. The Roman Road : b-side of It’s Not The End Of The World (2002)

A little bit of Americana to finish things off and another delightful tune. It’s a nice contrast to its brooding A-side and remains one of the band’s maturest moments. I mean that in a good way – a cracking song.

Hidden bonus track: Cryndod Yn Dy Lais : b-side of Play It Cool (1997)

I know this isn’t in keeping with the true spirit of JC’s original 10-track vinyl LP concept, but think of it as, I don’t know, a limited edition bonus 7″. Or something. Either way, I couldn’t resist putting this final little gem on here. It’s a tender, heartfelt ballad that I think starts off sounding like Shangri-La by the Kinks. It rounds things off really nicely. The title, by the way, translates as Tremor In Your Voice.

Link to the podcast is here

The Robster

JC adds…..

I’ve a few SFA singles in the collection and I knew five of the tracks selected by The Robster but what he’s done here is pull together what could be a cracking LP if released in that format.  Here’s a taster for it with the opening track on side one which is, as he says, a song that should soundtrack your summer.

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – Tradewinds