AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #278 : TERRY HALL (2)

I thought I’d illustrate my own effort with the sleeve of the debut album by The Fun Boy Three – which you can see is signed.  It actually belongs to Mrs Villain but when I asked her what it was like to actually meet Terry Hall, she told me that she had actually gone into HMV in Glasgow a few minutes after the band had left (she had no idea a signing session had been organised on the day), but as there were still a few extra signed copies on sale, she decided to get her hands on one of them.

Without further ado, this is meant merely as a companion piece to Khayem‘s impeccable offering from yesterday, and as I haven’t restricted myself to just one song from each strand of the career, it’s a bit of a lazy effort in places….

Side One

1) The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum – The Fun Boy Three (single and debut album, 1982)

It’s almost 40 years old and its sentiments, arguably, are more relevant today than when the lyrics reflected the fear that our political leaders would lead us into a nuclear war.

2) Thinking Of You – The Colourfield (single and the album Virgin and Philistines 1985)

A #12 hit, and the prototype for all sorts of smash hits years later by The Beautiful South.

3) Music To Watch Girls By – Terry Hall (b-side, 1997)

Laugh, released in 1997,  was the second solo-album, following on from Home, which came out in 1994.  Terry wrote most of the songs on both albums with Craig Gannon, probably best known for his stints in The Smiths and Aztec Camera. Others who contributed to Laugh included Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy, and Sean O’Hagan (ex-Microdisney). It’s an album with much to enjoy and it sounds as if Terry had a fair bit of fun making it, as exemplified by this cover of the cheesy 60’s number made famous by Andy Williams.

4) Fishbones and Scaredy Cats – Terry, Blair and Anouchka (Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes 1990)

Terry, Blair & Anouchka consisted of Mr Hall, Blair Booth and Anouchka Grose, the former being an American singer and the latter an Australian who is nowadays a well-known psychoanalyst but back in 1990 was an arts graduate from Goldsmith College in London. Two flop singles and one album was the outcome of the partnership – the group did push the label hard, but to no avail, for Fishbones to be a third single. Strikes me that the record company really missed the chance to have something that could have been a bit of a novelty hit…..

5) Our Lips Are Sealed – The Fun Boy Three (single and from the album Waiting, 1983)

This majestic piece of pop, co-written by Terry Hall and Jane Wiedlen, is the legacy of what was a brief affair between the couple, in 1980 when The Specials and The Go-Gos toured together.  Credit must be given for the superb production brought to the studio by David Byrne and not forgetting the fabulous backing vocal by Julie Miles Kingston, who also added her considerable drumming skills.

Side Two

6) Gangsters – The Specials (single, and from the album, The Specials, 1979)

One of THE great debut singles of all time.  I still find it hard to believe that it was a cover version

7) Do Nothing – The Specials (single 1981, and from the album, More Specials, 1980)

Ghost Town is, without question, a genuine classic (as indeed is b-side Friday Night, Saturday Morning as featured in Khayem’s ICA).  As such, it overshadows the earlier hit from the same year, one which also captures perfectly how shit life was for many young people living in the UK in 1981.  It was penned by Lynval Goulding and paved the way, more than any other, for how The Fun Boy Three would harmonise to great effect..

8) The Alibi (12″ version) – The Fun Boy Three (b-side of The Telephone Always Rings, 1982)

Sometimes, and not just with Terry Hall/Fun Boy Three, the best songs are tucked away on the back of singles that didn’t sell all that well and as such, they are hidden gems.

9) Too Much Too Young – The Specials (from the album, The Specials, 1979)

The live version, recorded in their home city of Coventry, went to #1. It was a frantic, energetic blast-through that was little more than two minutes in length when the much more sedate but, in my view far more powerful message-wise album version does much more to deliver its sentiments,

10) A Room Full Of Nothing – Terry Hall (from the album Laugh, 1997)

The one name I missed when mentioning the musicians who worked on or helped with Laugh was Damon Albarn.  This unusual almost music-hall type of tune, complete with a dark almost soul-searching lyric, was co-written by Hall/Albarn and the way it fades out just made it the ideal way closer for this companion ICA.

Thanks for the inspiration, Khayem.

JC

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #277 : TERRY HALL

WHAT’S WITH TERRY?

A GUEST POSTING by KHAYEM

I love that the ICAs have not just been straightforward ’best of’ collections and each contribution has set a personal challenge or criteria. Personally, it’s been the only way to avoid madness and indecision and Terry Hall is no exception. The ‘rules’ this time are pretty simple: collaborations and guest spots are in, but only one song per act. Initially, choosing just one song by The Specials or Fun Boy Three was so daunting, I considered leaving them out altogether. Admittedly, there’s nothing from Terry, Blair & Anouchka. Much as I like the songs, the production seemed too jarring wherever I placed them, so unfortunately they didn’t make the final cut. The Lightning Seeds are also conspicuous by their absence. The final selection may be controversial, and like my previous ICAs don’t necessarily include my favourite songs, but I think the album works as a whole.

As for the ICA title…Whilst The Undertones’ 1980 song clearly isn’t about Terry Hall, the title chimed with my memory of the media’s view of Terry Hall during the 1980s and 1990s as a miserable git who needed to ‘cheer up’. A more empathetic and rounded portrayal thankfully emerged in the 21st century with the disclosure of his bipolar diagnosis and childhood trauma. Personally, I’ve had a deep love of Terry Hall as a singer and songwriter since I first started buying records and this ICA hopefully reflects that.

A final thanks to Echorich, as it was Terry Hall’s inclusion on his recent Fine Young Men ICA that encouraged me to finally finish this one! Enjoy.

Side One

1) All Kinds Of Everything: Terry Hall & Sinéad O’Connor (A Song For Eurotrash, 1998)

Eurotrash was a long-running late night TV programme on the UK’s Channel 4, which was fronted by idiosyncratic Antoine de Caunes and co-hosted in the early years with Jean-Paul Gaultier. It was a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek look at life in Europe and beyond. Perhaps inevitably, when the UK hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998, Channel 4 screened a TV special, A Song for Eurotrash, with an accompanying compilation of the same name. Both comprised covers of previous Eurovision ‘hits’ by Edwyn Collins, Saint Etienne, Shane MacGowan, Bananarama and 808 State. This version of Dana’s 1970 winner is a highlight of the TV show and album, Terry and Sinéad’s voices perfectly complementing one another.

2) Forever J (Pulp Mix): Terry Hall (single, 1994)

I think Terry Hall’s solo career has been under appreciated and I could easily have focussed an ICA on this alone. However, rules are rules and I eventually came to decide between this and a B-side from the same EP, the possibly too obvious Guess It’s Not A Great Day To Be Me. I think Echorich said it all when including this track in his ICA, and it remains one of my favourite Terry Hall songs, full stop. To avoid duplication, I’ve gone for the remix, which sounds exactly like Terry performing with Pulp as his backing band.

3) Cruel Circus: The Colourfield (Virgins And Philistines, 1985)

I won’t pretend that I faithfully followed Terry from Fun Boy Three to The Colourfield, although I enjoyed their debut single, Thinking Of You. I first discovered this song in the early 1990s on the Animal Liberation compilation, released in 1987, which eventually led me back to its parent album, Virgins And Philistines. A biting commentary on animal cruelty, Terry’s lyrics and vocal delivery have lost none of their power and relevance in the subsequent three decades.

4) If You Kill My Cat I’ll Kill Your Dog: Vegas (She B-side, 1992)

I think I groaned inwardly when I initially read that Terry Hall had teamed up with Eurythmics’ David A. Stewart. Much as I loved the latter’s early work, I had been turned off by his high-gloss, (over) produced music and couldn’t see how this could possibly work. It turned out to be a one-off/short-lived project, with one album and three singles that I had to admit were actually pretty good. Of course, Terry’s songwriting was a strong as ever and, on this B-side, the production is understated and allows Terry room to breathe.

5) Friday Night, Saturday Morning: The Specials (Ghost Town B-side, 1981)

Possibly the biggest challenge of the entire ICA. I mean, how to choose? Eventually, it was this or Do Nothing, but as I started playing around the ICA sequence, there was really no other song that could be the closer to Side One. This is one of Terry’s finest lyrics, with a bleak and resigned picture of a weekend cycle that a few years later, resonated even more as it became my lived experience. Incredible to believe that at the time of its release in 1981, it was merely a bonus track on their swansong single.

Side Two

6) Bubbles: Nearly God (Nearly God, 1996)

Following the massive impact of Tricky’s debut album, Maxinquaye, and it’s inextricable association with trip hop and the Bristol sound, I loved the fact that he chose to immediately follow up with two aliases/side projects, firstly the ‘I Be The Prophet’ EP as Starving Souls and then Nearly God. Terry also appeared on Nearly God’s lead single, Poems, but I think over the years and repeated listening, I prefer this song. On the original vinyl, it’s placed midway through Side Two, but I think it makes for a good opening track. Again, Terry’s lyrics are on top form:

The first hundred years are the toughest
I’m getting smothered
And life is just one bloody thing
After another

7) Rapture (Radio Edit): Dub Pistols (single, 2007)

As with the Vegas side project, another inward groan when I initially saw this. Terry has been no stranger to an unexpected and ultimately rewarding cover version (this ICA opener, She, Running Away, Summertime), but Rapture? Really? Thankfully, Terry forgoes the falsetto and rap and the version is so much better than I initially feared, striking the right balance between familiarity with the original and an individual interpretation.

8) Ten Eleven: Terry Hall & Mushtaq (The Hour Of Two Lights, 2003)

Gorillaz & D12’s 911 was in the original long list for this ICA, but I decided to drop the song as it appeared in JC’s post in November. This comes from an album issued a couple of years later, but retains the Gorillaz connection as it was released on Honest Jon’s Records and features label owner Damon Albarn on vocals. Rapper Mushtaq (former member of Fun-Da-Mental) is more prominent on this track, but Terry’s contribution on the ‘chorus’ is essential and, aurally, there are pleasing nods back to The Specials.

9) Time To Blow: Leila (Blood, Looms & Blooms, 2008)

Leila’s third album was a remarkable return, following personal loss and a withdrawal from releasing new music for several years. The album also provided a (probably) accidental link to Tricky’s Nearly God project by reuniting Terry Hall and Martina Topley-Bird, who collaborate on the album’s closing song. Typically, I’ve opted for Terry’s other contribution, where his is the sole voice and the lyrics include the possibly autobiographical line, ‘Each time I open my mouth I regret it’.

10) Well Fancy That!: Fun Boy Three (Waiting, 1983)

The final song on 1983’s Waiting, produced by David Byrne, was always going to the closer to this ICA. I bought the album on cassette from HMV in Bristol and it blew my 12-year old mind. Whilst I generally got the meaning behind The Farmyard Connection and The More I See (The Less I Believe), I didn’t grasp the full horror of this song until years later, when I read interviews with Terry Hall.

My naive, pre-teen mind had always interpreted the song as a third-person narrative involving a female teacher. To later read that this is an autobiographical account of Terry’s abduction and abuse by a paedophile ring in France, and the traumatic impact on his subsequent life and mental health was a shock. Terry later reflected, “The only way I could deal with the experience was to write about it, in a song. It was very difficult for me to write, but I wanted to communicate my feelings.” As for the song itself, it’s a perfect example of Terry Hall’s brilliance, balancing a sweet, almost nursery-rhyme melody with lyrics that challenge, disturb and reward repeated reading.

Covid-19 permitting, Terry will be back on tour with The Specials in 2021, following their successful album Encore. Whilst there’s less prospect of another solo album, I for one am glad that Terry’s continuing to write and perform and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

KHAYEM

JC adds…..I had long been thinking of a Terry Hall ICA, and driven on by Khayem’s superb offering, I’m going to offer up a Volume 2 tomorrow, but without the tight restrictions used today!!

IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO TODAY….

Partly adapted and added to substantially from a previous blog posting back in August 2013:-

One night back in late 2000, while suffering from insomnia, I caught a glimpse of a cartoon video of on MTV. It must have been around 3am or something. My ears immediately picked up on a great tune and what sounded awfully like the vocals of Damon Albarn. But quite clearly, this was not anything by Blur.

Unusually, no information on the video came up at the end. But I was determined to track it down. By pure chance, I was in a favourite record shop in Glasgow a couple of days later and amidst my browsing, I saw something which had a title that was awfully like the mystery track.

So, I asked the guys in the shop to let me hear it. And I was right. So I bought it, and waited on it becoming a massive hit. But nothing happened:-

mp3: Gorillaz – Tomorrow Comes Today

It was originally released as a four-track EP on 27 November 2000.  I still think of Gorillaz as being a relatively new addition to the music scene, so I’m terrified/horrified/gob-smacked that it has been a full twenty years.

Here’s the other tracks on the EP:-

mp3: Gorillaz – Rock The House
mp3: Gorillaz – Latin Simone
mp3: Gorillaz – 12D3

It would take only a further four months for the band/group/act to make the commercial breakthrough, with Clint Eastwood being a Top 5 single and the self-titled debut album going Top 3 in the UK, eventually selling almost a million copies.  Greater success followed in 2005 when Feel Good Inc (featuring De La Soul) and Dare (featuring Shawn Ryder) went to #2 and #1 respectively, with parent album Demon Days selling 1.8 million copies.

There have been five albums since, all of which have charted high in the charts, but without selling copious amounts – for instance, Humanz (2017) reached #2 in the albums chart, but sold only 100,000 copies.

Tomorrow Comes Today, after its low-key release in 2000, would be included on the debut album and would be re-released as a single in March 2002, when it reached #33.  It was the fourth single to be lifted from the debut album, but rather unusually, it was issued after a non-album single had been released in December 2001:-

mp3: Gorillaz (feat. D12 and Terry Hall) – 911

From wiki:-

The song was recorded by Gorillaz and D12 (sans Eminem) in Damon Albarn’s personal studio in West London. The track came about after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City had left D12 stranded in England; Damon Albarn invited the band to his studio and played them an early demo of the track. Albarn had always wanted to experiment with Middle-Eastern music, and felt that this song would be perfect. D12 added additional production to the song, before laying down their verses. Terry Hall appears on the song as a vocal harmony with Albarn for the song’s chorus. Albarn and Hall had previously spoken about collaborating together, however when Hall revealed that he had been taking singing lessons from a Middle-Eastern singer, it inspired Albarn to take the song in a different direction.

It was made available as a download from the Gorillaz website, but in a very low key way, with a number of white-label 12″ vinyl copies also distributed around. It’s a quite extraordinary piece of music…..and one I wasn’t aware of until earlier this year when I began to think about a possible ICA for Gorillaz.

JC

OVERDOSING ON COVER VERSIONS (3)

No really, that is a fairly recent picture of Terry Hall sitting on top of these few words.

He’s someone who has mastered the art of the cover version over the near 40 years (!!!!!!) that he’s been involved in music. Like these:-

mp3 : Guy Lombardo & The Royal Canadians – Enjoy Yourself
mp3 : The Specials – Enjoy Yourself

mp3 : Billie Holiday – Summertime
mp3 : The Fun Boy Three – Summertime

mp3 : The Roches – The Hammond Song
mp3 : The Colour Field – The Hammond Song

mp3 : Captain & Tennille – Love Will Keep Us Together
mp3 : Terry, Blair & Anouchka – Love Will Keep Us Together

mp3 : Charles Aznavour – She
mp3 : Vegas – She

mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Sense
mp3 : Terry Hall – Sense

And while I’m mentioning The Lightning Seeds, here’s a bonus cover:-

mp3 : Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air
mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Something In The Air

Enjoy