SAFETY NET

Life, like the video for The Shop Assistants Safety Net, can be a tad blurry around the edges. Now, you might be excused for thinking that this post would be a) about The Shop Assistants or b) about the fantastic pop song Safety Net. I think it fair to say both get but a cursory glance as I attempt, perhaps improbably, to argue TVV as my safety net or more accurately one of my safety nets.

It was many years ago a friend urged me to read TVV and I did. I did so sporadically as life then was more than a little tense. Every now and then I’d poke my nose in and be: transfixed by articles about bands/artists that I had thought most (including myself) had forgotten about; curious of band/artist I had never heard of but probably (based on the article) should have known and liked; and in admiration of numerous articles and ICAs crafted with such care they could have made a respected NME journalist blush with embarrassment.

I’m a clinically diagnosed depressive. Yes. That was an extremely clumsy admission but I just couldn’t find a less clumsy way of stating it. I’ve lived under the cloud since my pre-teen days and have survived the slalom of suicide attempts, suicidal ideation and self-harm; considerably longer than I ever expected … here I am, still. So, what in the name of the wee man has this to do with TVV? Good question.

At a particularly low ebb I began to delve into TVV on a more regular basis. The world, it felt, was falling out from under me and I needed something to tether me, something to offer the slightest chink of positivity on the darkest of days. The details of this issue I won’t go into but, suffice to say, someone attempting to kill you and your partner because you’re gay (as well as a long-standing campaign of other hateful, harmful acts) does, I would argue, have a tendency to put a dampener on things … hello, 21st century! During this time TVV was something of a lifeline. A wonderful distraction that informed and entertained in equal measure but, most importantly, distracted.

A previous foray (some years earlier) into the world of social media and forums (specifically to do with music) had left me despondent and on one infamous occasion, in tears, as my character (for reasons that I have never been able to determine) was mercilessly assassinated online, by a stranger. I wouldn’t ever describe myself as a fragile person but I guess, at times, we all can have our moments. Following this, I stopped using any form of social media. I still don’t use any … except TVV.

Most days I take a peek at TVV and remain in awe of the work that goes into the blog; the thought, the planning, the writing … it seems very much to this bystander to be a full-time job and a job that others too are appreciative of.

It’s a testament to JC, and others that contribute and use the blog, that differences of opinion (never, as far as I have read) descend into personalised diatribes or attacks. Of course, there are differences of opinion, but these seemed to be accepted or responded to through kind, often comedic, retorts.

It can be all too easy to criticize something that I don’t like but I do always try to balance any criticism with positive reinforcement, where appropriate. Sometimes it’s important to let someone know just what a splendid, positive impact they’re having and that’s the point of this comment. JC has provided me with a safety net, a little oasis of calm, and for as long as the blog is here, I’ll pop in, smile, nod approvingly, or, on occasion, disagree with a certain this or that. It’s also important to doff my cap to the friend (you know who you are) who has, through their recommendation, provided the best possible medicine for what ills me.

I have posted this article anonymously on TVV not because I’m in any way ashamed of my illness … I’m absolutely not and speak about it openly with those I know… but because I have no social media footprint and wish to keep it so.

mp3: Shop Assistants – Safety Net
mp3: The Hidden Cameras – Lollipop
mp3: Magnetic Fields – I Thought You Were My Boyfriend

anonymous

JC adds……

The above words came in via the TVV e-mail address, so I know who the author is. I was humbled by the contents of the e-mail and it led to an exchange of correspondence, the result of which brought the three tunes and the image at the head of the posting.

I’ve mentioned this before on numerous occasions. It’s the sense of community that keeps me going on those days when I wonder if I can be bothered after all these years when I feel I have not much left to say that hasn’t already been said. It’s an undeniable fact that this place is all the better from the guest contributions, whether it be from postings and/or the contributions via the ‘Comments’ section.

There was one occasion in the past when a group of us, at my behest, got it very wrong in terms of a response to a posting in connection with a band that wasn’t to my taste. It caused a bit of hurt as the intended humour behind the responses backfired badly – thankfully, the very heartfelt and sheepish apology later offered back was accepted, but I still cringe when I think about it. It was a lesson learned and never since forgotten, and very much a one-off mistake during the past 14 years.

It’s heartening to learn that TVV is doing some good for at least one person out there. That alone, I would say, is enough to inspire all of us.

THE GREAT VINYL GIVEAWAY

Ach, I know the title is completely OTT in terms of what is on offer today.  I hope I haven’t disappointed too many of you.

The idea is to pull together all the bits of music on 7″ vinyl that I have sitting in the cupboard which originally came courtesy of being given away free with copies of music papers. Six EPs on offer with a fair bit of hissing, skipping and popping given the age of the plastic and the fact they were fairly lo-fi recordings to begin with, not to mention they have all been picked up second hand, often via charity shops) but there’s a few things worth a few minutes of your time. There’s also a few for which I unreservedly apologise (especially The Cult, and Simply Red):-

1. Drastic Plastic: NME GIV2 (1985)

A1: The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (live in Liverpool)
A2: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Forest Fire (live in London)
B1: The Robert Cray Band – Bad Influence (live in Chicago)
B2: Prefab Sprout – Real Life (Just Around The Corner)

2. Fourplay: NME GIV4 (1986)

A1: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Uncomplicated (NME Version)
A2: Billy Bragg – Honey, I’m A Big Boy Now (NME Version)
B1: Mantronix – Hardcore Hip Hop (NME Version)
B2: Miles Davis – Splatch

3. Sounds Waves 3 (1988)

A1: The Sugarcubes – Motor Crash
A2: The Wedding Present – Go Out And Get ‘Em Boy (live at the Reading Majestic)
B1: The Pixies – Down To The Well
B2: The Pixies – Rock A My Soul
B3: The Pogues – Kitty (live at Glasgow Barrowlands)

(all tracks EXCLUSIVE to Sounds)

4. Sounds Showcase 1 (1987)

A1: The Cult – Outlaw
A2: The Fall – Hey! Luciani (original version)
B1: The Adult Net – Spin This Web
B2: The Go-Betweens – I Just Get Caught Out*

*different version than would appear later on Tallulah

5. The Hit Red Hot EP (1985)

A1: The Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down (live at Manchester Apollo)
A2: The Jesus and Mary Chain – Taste of Cindy
B1: Redskins – Kick Over The Statues (The Ramsey McKinnock Mix)
B2: Simply Red – Every Bit Of Me

(I have absolutely no recollection of The Hit as a publication and there’s no real info out there on t’internet. This EP seems to have been given away with Issue #1 in September 1985, the JAMC and Redskins tracks are labelled as ‘exclusive new studio recordings’ and the Simply Red song is a ‘limited edition studio recording’ – whatever that means!)

6. RM Four Track Solid EP (1986)

A1: New Order – Sub-Culture (exclusive remix)
A2: Raymonde – Jennifer Wants (exclusive track)
A3: Hipsway – Bad Thing Longing
A4: Adventures – Walk Away Renee (specially recorded for rm)

RM was a re-branded and re-launched of the long-running weekly paper, Record Mirror. This particular version of Sub-Culture, which was remixed by John Robie, to the best of my knowledge has only ever been made available on this particular piece of vinyl. It’s over seven minutes long and it’s a good one………

All this on the day the old blog first appeared 14 years ago.

JC

BONUS POSTING : MUSIC FOR OUR TIMES (2)

I mentioned in a bonus posting last Saturday that I was now making a weekly contribution to a download-only publication being produced by Raith Rovers FC.  Here’s my 500(ish) words that were published today:-

“The initial idea behind this part of the Rovers Bulletin was for it to be of a light-hearted nature.

The plan, agreed with our esteemed editor, was to come up with five song titles that had some sort of link to a topical theme, but in a way that hopefully amused readers and maybe even raised the occasional laugh. Even last week’s extended list of ten songs which were to do with antics of Dominic Cummings had a hint of satire behind the anger and frustration, but to try the same again this week would be futile and would demean the events of the past couple of weeks in America.

Protest songs have been part of the fabric of society for decades. Many of the best-known songs were written in response to issues and events that have faced the black communities across America. The famous and brilliant jazz singer, Billie Holliday, recorded ‘Strange Fruit’ as long ago as 1939 as a protest about the lynchings carried out by the Klu Klux Klan – anger in songs around ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not, I’m sad to say, a new thing.

It’s something of an impossible task to just pick out five songs that seem to best capture all that’s happening. Indeed, such has been the continued anger of young Americans of all colours about repeated injustices in recent years that even the most basic of on-line searches throws up the best part of 100 new songs, most of them being rap or hip-hop, whose messages are direct, angry, and to the point.

My suggestion for this week’s ‘Music for our Times’ is that you go online – you honestly won’t have to dig too deep. A small word of warning for the easily offended – the ‘f’ word is a frequent occurrence.

I don’t think I’m being controversial by suggesting Donald Trump hasn’t helped things. A man who would, as the cliche goes, start a fight in an empty house. There’s plenty of songs that have been written in recent years that are critical of him and his actions and I’m thinking a few more are being penned right now. The first three on this week’s list, however, are from years back and aren’t about him, but the titles fit the bill.  The final two are recent efforts:-

American Idiot – Green Day

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum – Fun Boy Three

You’ve No Clue Do You – King Creosote

Demagogue – Franz Ferdinand

FDT – YG and Nipsey Hustle

The fifth song? DT are the initials of the president. You can guess what the F stands for.

I’ll leave you this week with some lyrics written by Prince, a native of Minneapolis on whose streets George Floyd was horrifically murdered. They are taken from the song ‘Baltimore’ which he wrote in 2015 as his response to the unrest in that city over the police custody death of Freddie Gray.

‘If there ain’t no justice, then there ain’t no peace.’

Five years on, and his words have never rung more true.”

mp3 : Prince – Baltimore

PS: Here’s a link should you want to download the entire bulletin. Click here

PPS: One of my earlier offerings to the Rovers Bulletin formed part of a guest posting that I was involved in earlier this week. 

I’m hoping most of you will have seen it already, but if not, please click here and you’ll be taken to the magical world of Rol’s Top Tens, and in particular, last Thursday.

JC

BONUS POSTING : MUSIC FOR OUR TIMES

It’s been a long while since my football team was last in action – Saturday 7 March to be precise – and the pre-match playlist that day was curated especially to reflect that we were using the occasion to acknowledge International Womens’ Day.

Despite the fact we have had no games – home or away – the creative talents behind the match programme have been producing a weekly bulletin to download or read online, with important updates and information from the manager, players, and directors.

There’s also been a few things to keep fans occupied or entertained such as a look back at past games, anagrams that are Rovers related, themed quizzes and, for younger readers, a page in which you can colour-in a photo of a current player.

My weekly contribution has been a column entitled ‘Music for Our Times’ with five songs picked out to reflect a theme. The initial efforts were linked to football but then I began to focus on the lockdown itself, including the role played by emergency workers, the advice being provided to us by scientists, and the desire of everyone to have things return to normal. But, just in case it was getting too serious for everyone, I then did five songs about barbers/hairdressers!

This week’s bulletin was published today. My piece was submitted last Tuesday. I have to stay within a limit of 500 words. Here’s what has been printed.

There’s been one story dominating the headlines this week. Here’s a bumper edition of Music for Our Times.

1. No Regrets – Robbie Williams

A hit single back in 1999, lifted from the album ‘The Ego Has Landed’

2. Driving In My Car – Madness

The Nutty Boys from Camden, London took this all the way to #4 in the charts back in1982. It would later, in 2010, be included on the re-release of the album ‘The Rise and Fall’.

3. Get Outta London – Aztec Camera

A ballad that you can find on the 1990 album ‘Stray’. The words in the chorus are somewhat appropriate to this week’s theme:

“Get outta London, while the getting’s good,

Get outta London, while I know I could”

4. Durham Town – Roger Whittaker

An easy-listening number from 1969. It is actually about taking leave of the north-east, but when you think about it, you can only get away from somewhere if you’ve actually been there in the first place.

5. Hit The Road Jack! – Ray Charles

Feel free to join in with the next line of this one from way back in 1962:

‘And don’t you come back no more……’

6. Unbelievable – EMF

Jumping forward now to 1990 and the catchy debut single from a London dance-rock band that went all the way to #3:

“The things, you say,

Your purple prose just gives you away,

The things, you say,

You’re unbelievable”

7. Brassneck – The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present, from Leeds, have been part of the indie-music scene in the UK since 1986. Graeme Ramsay, who was a member of the band between 2006 and 2012, is a Raith Rovers fan. This particular song dates back to 1990. It has the chorus of “I just decided I don’t trust you anymore.”

8. Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)- James

Another band that has been around for decades, and who enjoyed huge success in the 90s playing gigs and arenas all across the UK and Europe. This particular single came along a little bit later, in 2001, and it reached #22.

9. Gimme Some Truth – John Lennon

A song from 1971 that expresses frustration with deceptive politicians and hypocrisy.

10. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word – Elton John

“It’s sad, so sad (so sad) ,It’s a sad, sad situation, And it’s getting more and more absurd”

As the Rovers Review Bulletin is a publication read by folk of all ages, I couldn’t include the song above all others that sums things up. Sweary words warning:

mp3: Jarvis – Running The World

He’s right, you know.

PS: Here’s a link should you want to download the bulletin. Click here

JC

GATHER AROUND ME, WHILE I BLOW MY OWN TRUMPET

Two weeks have passed since the bloke who yesterday brought you the Mogwai ICA launched his latest venture.

Mixtape at The Admiral, as I said at the time, is designed as a sound track in the bar with the option for some late night dancing or clubbing for people who don’t like clubs. 🎧

The playlist covers Indie, Electro, Disco, Post Rock , New Wave , House, Soul, New Romantic, Mod, Pop, Punk, C86 and anything else that sounds good.

The first night went reasonably well. A few of Robert’s friends dropped in to wish the venture well while Aldo and Micky of my mob came by later on, absolutely hammered following a long day at the Paisley Beer Festival, to add their support and make requests for songs.

All in all, it was a really enjoyable night; I’d like to think that with this set-list, the music lived up to the pre-event hype:-

Amor – Paradise
Can – One More Night
LCD Soundsystem – Call The Police
Yazoo – Don’t Go
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Dons Vos Airs
Saint Etienne – Dive
Hot Chip – Ready For The Floor
The Just Brothers – Sliced Tomatoes
Stevie Wonder – Uptight
The Avalanches – Subways
Soul to Soul – Keep On Moving
The Elgins – Heaven Must Have Sent You
Shirley Ellis – Soul Time
Cornershop – Good Shit
Pixies – Gigantic
Soft Cell – What?
The Fall – No Bulbs
Arab Strap – The Shy Retirer
Visage – Fade To Grey
Talk Talk – Today
The Divine Comedy – Something For The Weekend
King Biscuit Time -I Walk The Earth
Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up
Supremes – Stoned Love
Camellia Hartman – Return The Favour
N.F. Porter – Keep On Keeping On
Primal Scream – Revenge of the Hammond Connection
Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
Echo & the Bunnymen – Never Stop
Dan Le Sac & Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill
Iggy Pop – The Passenger
Ladytron – Ghosts
LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
Daft Punk – Get Lucky
Ce’ceil – Rude Boy Thug Life
Four Tet – As Serious As Life
TC 95 – Funky Guitar
Evelyn King – I’m In love
Xander Harris – We Smoke The Northern Lights
Mogwai – Party In The Dark
James – What’s The World
Tom Vek – I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes
Dead Kennedys – California Uber Alles
Franz Ferdinand – Michael
The Divine Comedy – Gin Soaked Boy
The Ronettes – Be My Baby
The Velvet Underground – Rock and Roll
Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand
Stereolab – French Disko
The Popguns – Waiting for the Winter
The Brilliant Corners – Delilah Sands
The B52s – Roam
The Divine Comedy – How Can You Leave Me On My Own?
Roxy Music – Do The Strand
Sacred Paws – Strike A Match
Super Furry Animals – Juxtaposed With U
Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream
Beastie Boys – Start!
The Specials – Friday Night Saturday Morning

Neither of us had any idea of what song would come on after the last one…we really did wing it the whole time, but the proliferation of Divine Comedy songs will indicate there was a big fan of theirs in the house (hi Lesley!!!) and we were delighted to take her requests.

For a first night, it went well enough, although I know Robert is already turning his mind as to how things can be made better next time around which is in two weeks time on Friday 25 May.

Here’s three of the tunes I aired…just to demonstrate that I’m hopefully not a one-trick pony:-

mp3 : Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
mp3 : The Ronettes – Be My Baby
mp3 : Beastie Boys – Start!

JC

BONUS POST : STOP PRESS

The times, they really are a-changin’

From The Guardian:-

The NME is to cease publication in print after 66 years, the weekly music title joining a growing list of once mighty magazine brands that now only exist online.

The NME.com website will continue, replacing the print edition’s cover star interview with a new weekly digital franchise, The Big Read.

The NME will continue to keep a sporadic presence in print with special issues such as its paid-for series NME Gold, to cater for music stars’ appetite for appearing in a printed product.

In 2015, the magazine stopped being a paid title after a decade of sales declines saw its circulation drop to just 15,000. It relaunched as an ad-funded, free title with a circulation of 300,000 in a last throw of the strategic dice for the print edition.

“Our move to free print has helped propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.com,” said Paul Cheal, the UK group managing director, music, at NME publisher Time Inc. “We have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”

Time Inc UK is consulting with the NME’s 23 editorial and commercial staff about possible redundancies.

NME, which has been printed weekly since 1952, managed to make money as a brand overall through spin-off activities such as awards and events.

“NME will also be exploring other opportunities to bring its best-in-class music journalism to market in print,” Time Inc UK said.

The closure of the weekly comes a week after Time Inc UK, which also publishes titles including Marie Claire and Country Life, was sold to private equity group Epiris in a £130m deal.

Epiris had been expected to sell or restructure a number of titles – the company said it wanted to bring “clarity and simplicity” to the magazine portfolio – with the print edition of NME known to have been loss-making for a number of years.

“Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years,” said Keith Walker, the digital director of NME. “By making the digital platforms our core focus we can accelerate the amazing growth we’ve seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they’re most naturally using.”

In October, Condé Nast, the publisher of Glamour magazine, shocked the market announcing that the UK’s 10th biggest magazine would stop printing monthly. Instead, it is focussing on a digital-first strategy with a print edition just twice a year.

It’s been a very long while since I was really interested in what the NME was saying, but there’s no denying it had a huge influence on the development and expansion of my listening habits in my formative and later years..

mp3 : Thee Headcoates – (We Hate the Fuckin’) NME

JC

STOP PRESS : WYRCA UPDATE

It’s just after 5pm on Thursday night and having just got in from work I’ve had the chance to look at the blog’s Inbox. There’s an e-mail arrived earlier at 11.16am from Tim Badger….except it wasn’t. It was from Lorna, his wife.

The contents of the e-mail reduced me to tears as the words were incredibly personal and went into some detail about events and happenings of more than 20 years ago that brought Tim and Lorna together. It also reflected on something else that happened recently that was incredibly stressful for them and was the beginning of a chain of events that led to the sudden ending of WYCRA.

Those of you who were fans of what was by far the best blog on the planet will know that Tim and Lorna have had a rough time of things this past 12 months or so, experiencing a collective pain that very few of us can begin to imagine. They’ve both also separately spent time in hospital recovering from injuries and illnesses during which they demonstrated courage and bravery that would certainly be beyond me. And all the while, they, along with SWC and KC, provided us with a daily dose of entertainment that in equal measures made us smile, cry, grimace and occasionally think that blokes can be twats.

I know I’m not alone in thinking that everyone involved in WYRCA, including the boys’ better halfs, can be considered as close friends, the type who you really care about, which is why there was a real cause for concern that it disappeared without warning.

It turns out that Tim and Lorna have decided that they need to get away and relax for a bit and so, in less than 48 hours, are off to Brisbane, Australia to visit relatives for a few months. When Tim broke this news to SWC, the latter was stuck at Istanbul airport waiting for a late flight. SWC’s reaction was that the blog had to come to an end as he didn’t want to write it without Tim being involved. It was SWC’s idea to delete it. And here he is to say why….

————————————————————

WYCRA was Tim’s idea, and I’m not doing it without him. Its as simple as that. I should have perhaps have mentioned it on the blog, but to be entirely honest with you, it was easier to just press delete, far easier than I expected it to be. Tim told me yesterday that we should have responded to the comments on T(n)VV, yeah he’s right, we should have done, sorry. In my defence, I have been in court for three days trying to get some scumbag rapists locked up, but that’s not that important to be honest.

I won the Snakes and Ladders you know, it was close but KC rolled a two at the end and I rolled a six to triumph and in all honesty Square 100 was a massive anti-climax because it was

Urban Futuristic by Pop Will Eat Itself

Oh talking of KC, well here’s some good news. She’s getting married. That obviously was the last chapter in her chronicle. She’s marrying a lovely chap called Dominic. She’s known him for a few years now, she met him at the recycling centre where they argued over a cabinet that they both wanted. I wish I made that up but I didn’t.

This was to be the last song she chose alongside her pieces – please don’t hold that against her.

Run – Snow Patrol

The greatest second album ever was ‘Good Kid M.A.A.D city’ by Kendrick Lamar – it really is as well.

‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

Swimming Pools (Drank)

The Art of Peer Pressure

I suppose it falls to me to thank everyone – via the medium of JC’s blog for all the comments, good and bad, for bearing with us, for reading, laughing, sharing, and all that. I suppose I’ll be back typing at some point. I mean I’ve got two more boxes of CD’s in the loft that need opening.

Take Care everyone everywhere

SWC, KC and the Badgers

————————————————-

JC adds……

I’ve put this together as quickly as I could and I’m also going to leave it at the top of T(n)VV for a few days so that as many folk as possible see it. I’m going to take a few days off and will return on Tuesday 1st August.

I do hope SWC is as good as his word and comes back here with some guest postings when he gets the inclination.

I want to pass on my warmest congrats to KC and Dominic and to wish them well for a long and happy future together. I also hope KC gets an urge to keep on writing as there will always be a place for her in this little corner of the internet.

Above all else, I want to wish Lorna and Tim a safe flight to Brisbane – the city that spawned The Go-Betweens and is on my bucket list of places to see – along with a very happy and relaxing few months putting everything back together.

I’ve a glass of wine by my side and I’m raising it……to WYRCA. Thanks guys for everything.

PS : SWC won the Snakes & Ladders? I can only imagine the celebrations that ensued………………

ON MANCHESTER

I woke up to the numbing news about the atrocity following the Ariana Grande gig at the Manchester Arena last night.

Offering opinions about music seems so trivial right now and on the way into work I was making plans to close T(n)VV for a few days as I didn’t feel in the mood for any of it, including popping in and out of the other places I try and visit on a regular basis.

But then I thought to myself that such a gesture, small and insignificant it might be, only helps those who carried out this shameful attack on young, happy and carefree music fans.  So this blog is carrying on as normal with the posts that are scheduled over the coming days appearing at the usual times – there’s even a couple of bonus posts in the shape of gig reviews today and tomorrow.

For now, and with thanks to a non-musical mate called John Egan for the inspiration, this is for everyone affected by last night, including every resident of that fantastic city and its surroundings:-

JC

THE FIRST BIG BLOGGERS WEEKEND (CONTINUED)

It all starts a bit unusual on the Saturday with myself, Walter, Dirk, Brian, Adam and Drew walking through the town in the direction of Mono. We get there are but it’s not yet open so we wait outside watching the Germans enjoying yet another smoke. CC’s cheery face appears unexpectedly as the doors open and in we go desperate for teas and coffees to take the edge off things. It’s Hangover City.

We gather collectively round a table but not for long as Brian makes a bee-line to flick through the vinyl in a scene that was so reminiscent of High Fidelity. Except there were no cute singer-songwriters and the shop staff were wonderfully helpful, friendly and far from judgemental. The piss taking continued as the caffeine kicked-in with things going up a notch as another pop star wandered in and said hello. Brian’s face when he spotted Stephen Pastel will live long in the memory.

T-shirts, books and vinyl were handed over to the visitors as gifts and thank yous where they were crammed into bags alongside the essential purchases by all and sundry. Back into drinking mode except for Drew who only wanted Irn Bru and Brian who just wanted a bed to lie down in and dream.

Tales of Drew’s scooter days out were told in which Buckfast and Chinese punks featured heavily while Adam talked of weekenders in Blackpool where the entire luggage consisted of a toothbrush and two E’s. Brian continued to pine for a bed in which to lie down and dream.

We then split into two with the tricycle boy leading some out to his native Airdrie for the football and others went out looking for a beer garden with decent scenery and better lager than Tennent’s. A good time was had by all although my own state of mind was partly ruined by the Hibbees.

We all hooked up again in the evening at the Bon Accord where Aldo was waiting and strangeways would come along later. After 24 hours, Drew’s accent was now beginning to be partly understood and so everyone laughed as he told of Brian’s confusion on how to eat a mince pie while watching the game. Dirk mused on why the women in the beer garden had all looked like models and Walter wondered whether he had taken the wrong decision earlier. Brian still just wanted a bed in which to lie down and dream.

We went next to The Griffin where Stiff, Tank and William were waiting as yet more drink was taken and more pish was spoken. Morrissey, Mark E Smith and Phil Ramone were still getting slated. Brian saw some Irn Bru behind the counter and declared it the drink of the devil. The joys of drinking far too much after an 18 hour plane journey and no sleep had clearly turned him insane.

It was soon time for CC to take his leave at which point Brian also decided to realise his day-long ambition of a bed in which to lie down and dream. The rest of us went to Sleazy’s where we found a booth in which we could just sit and take everything in. The lights, the sounds, the décor and the beautiful young people out for the long haul. Same story as Friday – lots of hugging, lots of dancing of sorts etc. etc.

After a while Drew had to head back home and so began the first of the big sad cheerios. More drinking, more dancing of sorts and then outside together to head our separate ways. The Germans though had other ideas and after a quick smoke went back in for a final hurrah while the rest of us sought out taxis and the likes.

On Sunday I went in to make sure everyone still left in town could get to the airport on time which just left the bold Brian who was now fully recovered and refreshed after his much needed bed to lie down in and dream. There’s stories to be told from the rest of the day but they’re more suited to a Coldplay song than one by the Strap.

We met up for the weekend, it lasted for ever; got high with our friends; it was officially summer.

77,000 steps in four days said the app on the phone.  I got myself some sleep eventually on Sunday night after seeing the Blue Jays sneak an unexpected win. It was the perfect end to a perfect gathering. Meeting up soon with Aldo to recall the memories and smile about it all. Drink could well be involved.

mp3 : Arab Strap – The First Big Peel Thing (Peel Session, 25 March 1997)

JC

THE FIRST BIG BLOGGERS WEEKEND

WITH APOLOGIES TO AIDAN MOFFAT AND MALCOLM MIDDLETON

So that was the first big bloggers weekend of the summer.

Starts Thursday as usual with Brian and Walter jetting in from the ‘Dam although Seattle and Frankfurt had been the departure points. I try to do my sound bloke routine by going in with them in the taxi and then spending the afternoon and evening being a genial host. I’m glad I bothered. We did lunch in the Griffin, some culture, some drinking and a hurl on the Glasgow subway. Ended up in the Pot Still chatting to Canucks, death metal bikers from Stockholm and posh folk from the RSNO. Before long it was Friday….

From Rhine Town to  Rain Town, Dirk flew in to be met by CC  and soon we all hooked up to head out west via The Variety and The Arlington where we were joined by Comrade Colin. I was wearing my Ponderosa Aces t-shirt so in some ways Jonny the Friendly Lawyer was also part of the entourage. The sun was blazing down and so we set sail for the Kelvin and outdoor drinking at Inn Deep amongst the students, hipsters and trendies. Why is it these places only serve the worst vodkas? There was no problem getting in but there were no seats available so we stood on the walkway leaning on the fence watching people come and go. This turned out to be sound as we soon spotted Ken from The Bluebells who was kind enough to pose for a photo with Brian before he flogged us CDs of this new band he’s working with called Pronto Mama.

Before long it was off to the Hug and Pint where Drew came in and immediately confused the German boys with his Lanarkshire guttural although they knew right away he was very sound and very funny. Or maybe they were just being polite. The next wee surprise was David from Kid Canaveral dropping by as he was playing there that night as the support act and he too posed for a photo with Brian as well as giving him some lovely vinyl. There was a long haul back into town to Sleazy’s where Aldo had hotfooted it straight from work. By now the lack of food was taking its toll so some crisps were bought and shared although the drink still flowed very freely.

A few changes of clothing ensued with Dirk now resplendent in yet another magnificent Clash t-shirt sourced in Japan worn underneath the coolest of leather jackets. Joey Ramone eat your heart out. We sat down in Tut’s, drinking ourselves even sillier and stuffing our faces with burgers and pizzas. All except Colin who of course had to be all bourgeoisie and have the beetroot falafel….mmmmmm dead tasty. Adam got in just after 8 and so the gathering was finally complete. Beers, wines, vodkas and peach schnapps were ordered and consumed but we decided to bail out before the 350 teenagers upstairs watching Seafret came back to cram us out.

CC went home but the rest of us hit the State Bar where Dirk’s jacket drew admiring glances from the ladies and in one case a sneaky caress. By this time there was some amount of pish being talked but it only added to the fun. We decided Moz and Mark E Smith were bigger tossers than Phil Ramone but it was a close run thing. At midnight it was time to go home.

But unknown to the rest of us, four of the gang went back to Sleazy’s where I’m not sure what happened as I wasn’t there and the others can’t remember. Before long it was Saturday…………

mp3 : Arab Strap – The First Big Weekend

(More to come later today)

JC

BONUS POST : THE TIMES THEY ARE EXCITING

It’s been around 10 days since I last spent any time on this blog and it might well be about another 10 days before I can devote any real time to it again. But hey, there’s the very best of reasons why this is the case.

I initially met a golfing buddy who was over here from Canada before gearing myself up for an unforgettable weekend in which I took in three gigs in two days as well as……………………

HE’S A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY, I’M A LITTLE BIT INDIE ROCK’N’ROLL

Yup. I met Jonny the Friendly Lawyer aka Jonny Bottoms, the bassist with The Ponderosa Aces. I never imagined that anything could possibly top seeing Butcher Boy play a gig for the first time in four years but just 24 hours after that particularly momentous occasion I had the joy, honour and privilege of meeting one of the oldest friends of this blog. It was an amazing few hours that flew in far too quickly and is something I’ll return to in more detail in due course. Oh and I’ll also make time to review his band, as well as the gigs the previous day by the aforementioned Butcher Boy as well as Teen Canteen who also played a set in Glasgow as part of the celebrations of Record Store Day 2017.

The reason I’m holding off is the fact that in 72 hours time, I’ll be hooking up with more friends of this parish when Adam (Bagging Area), Brian (Linear Track Lives), Dirk (Sexy Loser) and Walter (A Few Good Times In My Life) begin to arrive in Glasgow where myself, Drew (Across The Kitchen Table) and Stevie (Charity Chic), supported by other friends of our respective blogs such as Aldo, Jacques the Kipper, Comrade Colin and Strangeways will be hooking up in Glasgow over a long weekend after Dirk decided a few months back that it would be a great idea.

I know a few others had been hopeful of making it along but logistics and other issues made it impossible on this occasion. But I’m 100% certain that Glasgow 2017 won’t be the last effort to get a group of like-minded souls together.  Spending a few hours with Jonny has not only more than whetted my appetite for this coming weekend but made me really determined to hook up with many others at some point in the future. There’s something very special about the people who frequent this little corner of the internet and its associated partners and on the basis of past experiences when the blogging mate finally gets to shake a hand a give a hug, then I know this coming weekend is going to be truly special, memorable and worth writing about.

I met Jonny in the company of a long-time mate, Ian, and it was interesting that he said to me afterwards that anyone looking at and listening to us in the Manchester pub would have never believed we had only just linked up in person for the first time given how natural and relaxed we were with one another. That’s actually been true of every blogging mate I’ve been lucky enough to meet over the years and I am hyper-excited at the idea of seeing Adam, Dirk, Walter and indeed Stevie for the first ever time (although in the case of the latter we know we’ve been in the same audience at gigs and so we might meet up and recognise one another) and a reunion with Brian who I met for a very short while back in 2012 when he came to Glasgow especially to see Big Country.

I’m almost 54 years of age and I feel like a kid in the last few days before Christmas, including an inability to sleep properly!!

mp3 : The Lemonheads – It’s About Time

JC

BONUS POST : A VERY QUICK THANK YOU

Folks, how was your weekend?

I certainly hope it was bit less stressful and worrying than it was for my young brother SC, a long-time friend of this blog who pops in every day and leaves the occasional comment – especially when I’ve said something nice about Simple Minds.

The photo above was taken by SC on Saturday afternoon as he and his family (including the dog) were hurriedly evacuating their home not far from Orlando, Florida as a brush fire closed in very suddenly. It was a fire that, at its height, covered 165 acres – and an acre is the size of your average football pitch – so it was a big and dangerous motherfucker.

SC’s home was in serious danger of being burned to the ground, thus the urgent evacuation. The flames got to within 15 feet of the property but thanks to the skills and talents of the Seminole County firefighters, and the deployment of helicopters to pour down huge amounts of water from a great height, the danger was narrowly averted

SC was out of his home for nearly 24 hours before being allowed to return. He tells me, unsurprisingly, that there is very severe smoke damage to the house while it took a pounding from the water that was being dropped from the chopper – his solar panels are goosed while ash from the flames has created holes in the roof. And that’s just for starters.  The clean-up will take months and a lot of dollars.

The cause of the fire will be investigated but it is possible it was caused by a discarded cigarette that set flame to a grassy wooded area that was bone dry from months of no rain. Words fail me that someone could be so careless.

But the purpose of this additional post is just to say a huge thanks to the brave men and women who tackled the blaze over the weekend – and indeed are still on-site as 48 hours on it is still only 90-95% under control – and indeed for the public service they put in each and every single day of the year.

JC

A LITTLE BIT OF ADMIN WORK

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I’ve just upgraded to a paid plan with the lot who host this little corner of the internet.

The main thing that you should notice is no more adverts when you visit the site and read the posts.

The domain name has now changed to thenewvinylvillain.com but you should still get here if you use the old address of thenewvinylvillain.wordpress.com

All part of what I hope will be an improved look and feel to the blog in the coming months.

JC

APOLOGIES!!!

Sorry for the lack of a posting today.  Been a bit busy at work and things on over a few evenings recently that I couldn’t quite keep on top of things.

I’ve been in Birmingham today on work stuff and will soon be boarding a train back to Glasgow, during which time I will do a bit of catching up including posts for the rest of the week and hopefully reading and enjoying all the stuff that other bloggers have been posting at their place.

Just one thing to add.  Was lucky enough to see The Pixies at Glasgow Barrowlands last Friday.  They were, as the saying goes, the dog’s bollocks.

Late addendum at 11pm

I got reasonably near the front at one point last week….

LET’S GO TO THE OTHER EXTREME TODAY

I’ve subjected you to a couple of songs these past two days that have extended out to ridiculous amounts of time.  I’ll make it up to y’all by delving into the i-tunes and finding some really short stuff with the qualification that they need to be full songs and not just extracts. Oh and they also need to be of quality:-

mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit – Vatican Broadside
mp3 : Violent Femmes – Old Mother Reagan

Both clock in at just 30 seconds.

mp3 : Wire – Brazil

You’ll need your full powers of concentration to get through its 40 seconds.

mp3 : Elastica – Annie
mp3 : Talulah Gosh – Break Your Face
mp3 : The Style Council – Mick’s Blessings
mp3 : Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Let Her Go Into The Darkness
mp3 : The Vaccines – Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra)

All at less than 80 seconds.

Enjoy.

SNATCHING A VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT

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This a true tale, the revealing of which was inspired by Badger‘s revelations of ‘humiliation’ while singing on stage.

It’s 1990. I’m out with Mrs Villain (Rachel) to see the new stage show that has been put together by the outrageously camp and very funny Julian Clary. The venue is Glasgow Pavilion and the show is being performed in front of a sell-out audience of 1,500, the majority of which it is safe to say are either female or gay. Mrs V adores Julian – she’s always had a thing about camp/glam blokes dating back to her love for Bowie and Bolan as a teenager. She warns me before we leave that, if possible, she is going to get on stage with her hero during the section when there will be the inevitable audience participation – she’s certainly dressed for the occasion wearing an incredibly tight t-shirt and skinny jeans combo and looking as great as I’ve ever seen her.

The show is very funny. Julian is as outrageous as you’d hope – full of OTT one-liners and tales that were too risqué for television. He then tells us that it is audience participation time and it’s going to be a live version of his TV game show, Sticky Moments, that had aired on Channel 4 back in 1989 and 1990.

I say game show….but as wiki states:-

the questions, answers, challenges and cheap prizes were deliberately off-centre, and rife with gay innuendo and double entendres, played for laughs rather than actual competition.

Julian tells us that the competition is to be a shoot-out between a straight and gay couple. He asks if perhaps there are any gay couples in the audience and if so to raise their hands. He then spends a few minutes wandering up and down the aisles within the stalls, wise cracking his way through as to why he was ruling willing participants out until he finally finds the two blokes he most fancies. They take to the stage to huge applause.

Julian then announces that he’s already decided who his straight couple are going to be….and immediately I know what’s coming next. Mrs V had already made all sorts of eye-contact with him as he strolled through the auditorium while I had made the cardinal error of trying to look wholly disinterested. He grabbed Mrs V by the hand and said something along the lines of her being so gorgeous that her other half will have no choice but to follow….

There are loud cheers and a few wolf whistles…which Julian is keen to explain are very much for me. He admires my t-shirt which is emblazoned with The Wonder Stuff on the front….he askes me what it means…I foolishly try to explain its the name of a band….he makes a biting retort about it being some sort of gay sex position. It’s clear my role tonight is to be the fool whom the audience laughs at….

To be honest I don’t mind at all. Mrs V is in heaven right now, a smile lighting up her face as she gets up close to an idol.  Julian explains that he will ask one half of each couple three questions, all to do with the likes and habits of their partners, and the couple who comes up with best matching answers goes home with the prize. Of course, I’m not to answer the questions – they are to be about me – and so while I’m blindfolded and made to put on headphones to listen to music, Mrs V and one half of the gay couple get talking and answering.

I can sense that the audience is rocking during this section and that the piss is being ripped royally out of me. I should also have said that Julian, when asking my name and being told Jim, said there was no way he could go with anything as common as that nor could he use Jimmy as that would just pander to stereotyping men from Glasgow. I was going by my proper name of James and he was revelling in delivering that word in as camp a fashion as he could.

“Right James. Here’s your first question. Rachel says that you’re very much a boxer shorts sort of man and so I#m not going to ask you what type of underwear you have on tonight….if any. But if you are, can you tell us the colour please?”

“Red and White stripes”

“Are you sure? Rachel is certain she saw you in black before you left the house….”

I pull up the waistband of my boxers to show that they are indeed red and white. We are now 1-0 down.

“Question Number 2 James. I think this one is quite easy. What was it that first attracted Rachel to you? Was it you larger than life personality, your larger than life pay packet or your larger than life penis”

I look at Rachel. She is trying hard not to laugh out loud. I’m trying hard to work out what answer she would have given. Surely she didn’t want to add to my humiliation……

“Julian, I would say it’s my larger than life pay check as after all my other half is a bit of a Material Girl”

“No James….It seems you have a big dick”

The audience at this point is ending itself collectively as I look at Rachel who is smirking. We are now 2-0 down.

“Final question James. Now I know you can’t win and that really is such a shame.  But you can go home with a consolation prize if you get this one right.  And you should do as it’s about music and we all know you love music what with your fabulous t-shirt. So the question….what did Rachel say you would sing if you were on a karaoke stage?”

Ya beauty! I’d only ever at this point in my life once done karaoke and it was for a laugh at a works night out. I had performed one song very badly and I distinctly remember telling Rachel about it.

“That’s easy Julian. My karaoke song is I Will Survive.”

More laughs from the audience and Rachel looks over to me in a bit of shock.  WTF?  Does this mean we are going home empty-handed and all this has been for nothing??

“James, are you sure you and Rachel aren’t on a blind date? You don’t seem to know one another very well.. She told us it would be something by Morrissey or The Smiths.”

I genuinely don’t know what to say. The idea of a Morrissey or Smiths song being an option at a karaoke night back in the early 90s just didn’t seem possible. They would have been the last answer I’d have given.

Julian turns to me and says: “James. I can tell that you don’t want to disappoint Rachel, so I’m going to give you one last chance to pick up a prize. Would you care to sing your karaoke number for us here on stage?”

I hesitate. The audience cheer and scream. Rachel looks at me imploringly. I have no choice……

As Russell Churnley, the long-time musical collaborator of Julian Clary hits the distinctive opening notes on the piano, I close my eyes and go for it. Big style.

I don’t know if I was any good or not…I don’t even know if I got the correct words out. But I gave it my all and the crowd loved it, clapping along in whatever sort of time I was keeping. One verse and one chorus and that was it. Thankfully.

Julian gave us the prize which was a plastic replica of Fanny the Wonder Dog (Julian’s pet whippet who had been part of his earliest stage and TV shows) and a bouquet of flowers. But Rachel also got a kiss and I got a hug. We went back to our seats and within seconds I realised I was shaking thanks to a ridiculous rush of adrenalin that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced again.

And that was that. Or so I thought.

Firstly, Julian sang a song in the second half of the show and dedicated it to me (see below)

Secondly….the next day, I boarded my usual 7.30am train from Glasgow to Edinburgh where I worked at the time. I sat down in the my usual seat up in the very front carriage. Another of the regular commuters looked across at me and smiled. She got out of her seat, walked towards me and leaned in close whispering ‘red and white boxers….I wouldn’t have imagined!’

With a wink and a wave she went back to her seat.

Fame, fame, fatal fame….

mp3 : Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
mp3 : Julian Clary – The Leader of The Pack
mp3 : Morrissey – Get Off The Stage

Enjoy

BONUS POST FOR THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND

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I’ve messed about a bit with some tunes and come up with this:-

mp3 : JC presents – The One Hour Indie Disco

Confession time. It actually lasts 63 mins and 39 seconds, but in my defence, the crowdfilling last tune commences before the hour is up, so everyone’s dancing as the empty and not so empty glasses are cleared from the tables.

I think it works well if you download it and give it the full listen. Equally, you could skip through the songs you don’t like:-

LET’S MAKE THIS PRECIOUS (Dexy’s Midnight Runners)
ASK JOHNNY DEE (Chesterfields)
ONCE IN A LIFETIME (Talking Heads)
WALKABOUT (Sugarcubes)
LENNY VALENTINO (Auteurs)
PING PONG (Stereolab)
TRIPLE TROUBLE (Beastie Boys)
SHADY LANE (Pavement)
HEY LUCIANI (Fall)
LAST OF THE FAMOUS INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS (Morrissey)
CRASH (Primitives)
THIS LOVE IS FUCKING RIGHT (Pains Of Being Pure At Heart)
FOXHEADS (Close Lobsters)
IT’S A GAS (Wedding Present)
TAKE THE SKINHEADS BOWLING (Camper Van Beethoven)
BLUE BOY (Orange Juice)
GIGANTIC (Pixies)
LE PASTIE DE LA BOURGEOISIE (Belle & Sebastian)
OBSCURITY KNOCKS (Trashcan Sinatras)
CEREMONY (New Order)

 

CHEMIKAL UNDERGROUND COMPETITION : IMPORTANT INFO

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There’s been a great level of interest in the competition to win £50 of merchandise from the on-line shop of Chemikal Underground and I’m thrilled, honoured, delighted and excited by the fact that company MD and ex-Delgado, Stewart Henderson, has agreed to make the draw next week.

BUT…..some of you may have submitted an entry but not, as yet, have been put into the hat.

I’ve learned from three different folk over the past 48 hours that e-mails which had been sent to the hotmail address at various times haven’t reached me. I’ve no idea how widespread the problem was – the original emails were never re-directed to spam and none of them had content that would have caused an issue. Indeed, one of them was from someone entering the competition who I happened to bump into the other day. I mentioned that I was surprised he hadn’t entered only be told he had!

(one of the other missing e-mails I now know about was from Italy offering something for use on the blog while the other was someone responding to an e-mail I had sent them….so there’s no obvious rhyme or reason as to why things weren’t getting through)

The thing is, everyone whose name I’ve already put in the hat will have received a reply e-mail from me by now.

If however, you have sent in an e-mail with the answer to the question asking for the names of the members of Aloha Hawaii but haven’t yet heard back from me, then please, please, please re-submit as and when you’re able and certainly no later than 29 February as that is the closing date.

Cheers folks

HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY WEE BROTHER

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The left hand photo was taken when Stephen Clark (born in Glasgow, Scotland on 19 February 1966) was around 21 years old – he’s in the middle flanked by two of his best mates – Gerry on the left and Paul on the right – all clad in identical U2 t-shirts.  One of the very few photos that none of them happen to be holding lager.

The right-hand photo was taken much more recently, and he’s with his son Liam who is resplendent in his Raith Rovers replica strip and Orlando City FC scarf.

I suppose like many other siblings, we weren’t hugely close as we grew up.  The three years age difference felt like a huge gap at times, and it wasn’t really till Stevie reached the age of 18/19 and I’d done my four years at university and was away working in Edinburgh that we really began to bond properly.  By this time, he’d become a dad at the age of 17, devoted to his son (also called Stephen) although he and the kid’s mum were far too young to ever stand a chance of staying together.

In the very early 90s,  he decided that there was little happening for him in his home country and so he upped sticks and moved to seek a better life in the USA, landing in Orlando where he ducked and dived for a bit, doing all sorts of work like cleaning out swimming pools, working in bars and driving distribution trucks, all the while financially looking after his son back in Glasgow.

In due course, he would meet a lovely Welsh lass who was also living and working in Orlando.  Adele had used her nursing qualifications to launch a career in healthcare in the States and they first got together soon after she had arranged for Stevie to be treated in hospital after the daft bugger had done himself an injury playing football.  Romance blossomed and in due course they would end up getting married in 2000.

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That’s the Reservoir Jocks on the day of the wedding in Florida. My late brother Davie is on the left and I’m on the right on one of just two occasions that I’ve donned a kilt. Stevie is in the middle flanked by his very bald mate Paul (who you can see with the full head of hair in the U2 photo above) and his son Stephen who by this point in time was 16 years old.

Adele and Stevie now have two incredible kids of their own….one of whom was born a matter of months after Stevie’s first grandchild was born here in Glasgow.

My wee brother has really made a great life for himself, becoming a fairly successful self-employed floor fitter and also obtaining American citizenship. He’s also not changed a bit in all the years….not withstanding the hair loss…..and he’s still the laid-back, easy-going bloke who’ll always put others well before himself at all times. A genuine all-round good guy.

We of course don’t see each other all that often nowadays but we speak plenty enough and all these years on, he’s my best mate and as well as my only surviving brother.   And I can’t quite get to grips with the fact that he turned 50 today.  These are for him, all from bands I know he’s loved over the years:-

mp3 : U2 – Two Hearts Beat As One
mp3 : Del Amitri – Kiss This Thing Goodbye
mp3 : Spear of Destiny – The Wheel
mp3 : Hipsway – The Honeythief
mp3 : Hothouse Flowers – Don’t Go
mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes

Have a great day young ‘un.  Hope to see you soon.