MAY DAZE

It’s a new month.  You know the drill by now…….

mp3: Various – This One Is Different

Slow Hands – Interpol
Brand New Cadillac – The Clash
Hand In Glove – Christian Kjellvander & Lise Westzynthus
Time For The Rest Of Your Life – Strangelove
Too Drunk To Fuck – Nouvelle Vague
Love Me Like You Do – The Magic Numbers
Keep On Keepin’ On (Die On Your Feet Mix) – The Redskins
Orgasm Addict – Buzzcocks
Caught Out There – Kelis
Doers – Bodega
The Black Hit Of Space – Sarah Nixey
Stereotypes – Blur
A Song From Under The Floorboards – The Wedding Present
There There My Dear – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Date With The Night – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Age Of Consent – New Order
R U A Feminist? – Breakfast Muff

Five seconds beyond sixty minutes. Quite a few cover versions (5) this time around.  I’m still very willing to take guest contributions for June and beyond if anyone can be motivated.

JC

 

BASTARD VIRUS

The title of today’s post should provide the clue that I’ve tested positive for COVID.

It’s something I can’t quite get my head around – not the fact I’ve got it, which is hardly a surprise given that I’ve recently gone to well-attended and busier than normal football matches and made a much-delayed return to the Barrowlands (it was for The Twilight Sad), but more to do with the unlikely timing of a positive test at a time when I was feeling fine and showing very few symptoms.

I was testing more regularly as last Friday night I was pulling together a social evening, namely a leaving-do of sorts.

A full 106 weeks after it had been cancelled, there was to be a get-together of folk to celebrate my retiral from work.  The numbers for the original night were expected to have been around 150, including ex-colleagues from the different places/departments I had worked over that 35-year spell, along with some close friends who just like a good night out.  This time round, I decided to restrict it to just the 25 or so folk who I had last worked with – it felt a bit disingenuous to invite folk I hadn’t seen in a long while to an event that was now two years out of date.

It was a great wee evening, albeit just under half the numbers could make it, thanks to a combination of an increase in COVID cases and the fact it was taking place as many folk were heading away on holiday for the Easter period with the schools having closed down.  Oh, and to show how much my former colleagues really know me, there were three items handed over following a very generous collection:-

1. A bottle of expensive rum

2. A voucher to spend at my golf club on some new equipment or clothing

3. A gift card for Ticketmaster, meaning that I’ll get to a number of gigs of my choosing.

The following morning, in advance of heading up to the football for another stint in the match day announcer’s box, and armed with a killer playlist to entertain everyone, I took a test, and it came up positive, despite the fact I was feeling fine other than having an annoying head cold and the very occasional cough.  No loss of taste, no loss of smell.  Nothing that would have kept me from travelling, except the two red lines showing up.

I’m typing this on Monday morning, 48 hours on, and feeling fine.  Only thing is that Rachel is showing all the symptoms and feels a lot worse than me, despite which she is still testing negative.

Why am I sharing all this?  For one, it means I’m going to miss out on a much-anticipated gig on Wednesday night when Luke Haines and Peter Buck come to Glasgow as I won’t be out of the required isolation period.

Secondly, it has put a question mark over my plans for this coming Friday, which had already been the subject of change thanks to the propensity of the rail industry in the UK to fuck up travel plans at peak holiday periods.

The Haines/Buck show in Glasgow was a late addition to my schedule, as the intention had been to go and see them at Hebden Bridge Trades Club in Yorkshire.  These tickets were bought a long time ago, for a show originally scheduled for April 2020, and later moved to September 2021 and again to April 2022.  Each rescheduling involved booking new train tickets and accommodation – indeed, for Sep 2021, rather than seek refunds, myself and Rachel used the arrangements to enjoy an overnight trip to Hebden Bridge.

Everything was set for this Friday in that the accommodation was sorted and the train journey down on the day of the gig was booked.  No cheap train tickets were coming up online for the return journey the following morning….indeed, no train tickets were on offer at all for the following morning.  It transpired that the West Coast Main Line will, in effect, be closed over the Easter holiday weekend for engineering works at various locations, primarily at its terminus point at London Euston.  All of which meant the Hebden plans had to be shelved.

I’ve managed a bit of a rescue in that I picked up a return ticket for the Friday evening, which means I’m going to be heading to Manchester on a morning train, arriving lunchtime and getting the joy of spending a few hours in the company of Adam, before catching a train back up to Glasgow at around 5pm.

Assuming, of course, that I get a negative test in advance.  Fingers and toes are crossed.

What it does mean is that there are two tickets for Haines/Buck at Hebden Bridge going spare for this coming Friday if anyone out there is able to make use of them…..just drop me an email to the usual address.

There’s a few lines from a song buzzing around my head just now:-

mp3: Basement Jaxx – Red Alert

And I’m gutted to be missing out on hearing songs from an album, bought around the time I retired from working back in 2020, and whose promotional tour has had as much bad luck as my efforts to have a well-attended leaving-do:-

mp3 : Luke Haines and Peter Buck – Beat Poetry For The Survivalist

Sigh.

JC

FAC 2 : A FACTORY SAMPLE by Various Artists

Here’s the opening para from the booklet in the box set.

The first Factory record was a double 7″ EP, originally planned as an orthodox compilation album to be released in collaboration with Roger Eagle and Pete Fulwell of Liverpool punk club Eric’s. Eagle and Fulwell proposed a regional sampler showcasing two groups from Liverpool, and two from Manchester: The Durutti Column, and Joy Division. However, after the more experienced Liverpudlians baulked at the complexity and cost of a double 7″ package Wilson decided to go it alone.

Peter Saville has gone on record as saying that his design for the Factory Sample was based on the FAC 1 poster., and that he was trying to convey the mood rather the music, to the extent that he didn’t listen to any of the tracks before he did the cover.   The music was recorded in October 1978 and the vinyl was released into the shops in December 1978.  There were 5,000 copies pressed, and the two records, along with five stickers, were all hand-wrapped into a silver sleeve which was then sealed in plastic, The two records played at 33 1/3 rpm and not the standard 45 rpm.

I’m holding the facsimile from the box set in my hand. The packaging is sturdy and the attention to design detail throughout is impressive, even to my untrained eye.  There’s a dedication within the sleeve – “For Don Tonay without whom….”

Don Tonay was the owner of the Russell Club in Hulme where the Factory nights had been held. He would be portrayed by Peter Kay in the film 24 Hour Party People, but by all accounts, the real Don Tonay was nothing like the blunt northern club owner stereotype he came across as in the film – but then again, it was a film in which the legend was used throughout for entertainment purposes.

As mentioned above, Joy Division and The Durutti Column were always going to be part of the FAC 2 release.

John Dowie was a Birmingham-born musical comedian who had first come to prominence (of sorts) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1972. He had already released an EP, Another Close Shave, on Virgin Records in 1977, but when it failed to sell in any decent numbers, the label dropped him.  He was a friend of Tony Wilson and, added to the fact that his material was inexpensive to produce in the studio, he was an easy addition to help make the release affordable.

Cabaret Voltaire had formed in Sheffield in 1973, but it took until November 1978 before their debut single was released on Rough Trade, with their contribution to FAC 2 was their second appearance in quick succession.  They were known to Tony Wilson from playing at the Factory Club.  Cabaret Voltaire had been trying to get the New Hormones label, run by Richard Boon, interested in their music, but being unable to afford anything, Boon had passed the tape to Wilson, after which the invites to play at the club and then contribute to A Factory Sample were made.

mp3: Joy Division – Digital
mp3: Joy Division – Glass
mp3: The Durutti Column – No Communication
mp3: The Durutti Column – Thin Ice (detail)
mp3: John Dowie – Acne
mp3: John Dowie – Idiot
mp3: John Dowie – Hitler’s Liver
mp3: Cabaret Voltaire – Baader-Meinhof
mp3: Cabaret Voltaire – Sex In Secret

One thing you can say about the music is that it didn’t conform to any type, style, genre or whatever, and I reckon you’d have been hard-pressed to find someone back in December 1979, outside the Factory family, to say they cared for all the tracks. Even then, Peter Saville has said on a number of occasions that the only song he actually likes is Digital.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an original copy of A Factory Sample, which is in very good nick and still has all five stickers as part of the package, then you could expect it to fetch upwards of £600 if you wanted to flog it.  The cheapest copy on Discogs just now is £300, but the seller admits that there is storage wear to the sleeve and the stickers are long gone.

JC

NO FOOLIN’

As mentioned before, I’m going to try and make a fresh one at the start of each month during 2022.

mp3: Various – Stick or Twist

Super Fi – Urusei Yatsura
The Facts of Life – Black Box Recorder
Rebellion (Lies) – Arcade Fire
He’s On The Phone – Saint Etienne
Skipping – Associates
Colin Zeal – Blur
Always The Quiet One – The Wedding Present
VtR – The Twilight Sad
Confide In Me – Kylie Minogue
Scooby Snacks – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
Kinky Afro – Happy Mondays
Summertime – The Sundays
King of Carrot Flowers (Part 1) – Neutral Milk Hotel
All Falls Down – Kanye West (feat. Syleena Johnson)
Allow Yourself – Broken Chanter
C.R.E.E.P. – The Fall

Two seconds beyond sixty minutes.  The title refers to a line in the lyric from one of the songs. Play it all through in one go…..or fast-forward if you prefer.  The choice is yours.

JC

PS : Completed and readied for posting before I saw that Kanye West had been a tad on the offensive….again!

PPS : In case you didn’t know, one of our fellow bloggers has got himself into a spot of trouble with a recent posting delivering a nasty backlash. Click here for more info.

UNDER THE BRIDGE

With age comes beauty. This beauty was well worth the wait.

To state that the influence of Sarah Records continues to resonate would be somewhat of an understatement. Only the foolhardy, or terminally biased, would argue otherwise.

Throughout a particularly respectable life span in pop’s spotlight, Sarah Records (1987 – 1995) was loved and derided – probably in equal measure – as it ploughed its own path; ignoring the naysayers. It’s legacy, much like Postcard Records before it, sees copies of rare releases change hands for hundreds of pounds to fans keen to indulge themselves in the authentic sound of the twee revolution.

In celebration of the attitude and music released by Sarah Records, Skep Wax release the fourteen track LP, Under The Bridge. I like to think that the LP title suggests that a lot of water has passed ‘Under The Bridge’ since these, once label mates, came back together to create this remarkable tribute. You could be forgiven for thinking that the bands involved have been inactive throughout the intervening years, however many have continued to release under their original names, some have morphed into new bands and others continue to play live.

Lovingly cuddled by Luxembourg Signal’s dream pop grandeur to The Wake’s dream pop raggedness, these 14 tracks tell an updated, unfolding story of a disparate music scene from bygone days; its naivety, its defiance and its enduring influence that cast a net far beyond the indifferent, suffocating term of ridicule, ‘twee’.

Under The Bridge waves a warm welcoming hello to fans past and to fans present, for they are legion. It offers an engaging smile to the curious and to those unfamiliar. It sticks a forceful two fingers in the face of historical detractors, cemented in their self-imposed limitations.

Make no mistake. Under The Bridge is an exemplary exercise in genre defiance.

Imagine, if you will, placing this gorgeous vinyl on your turntable only to be immersed in: hazy psychedelic pictures painted by Miles Davis; authentic 60s pop in the vein of Francoise Hardy; the sound of Television and Magazine in a post-match punk / new wave fisticuffs showdown – non-innocent bystanders include the Fire Engines; bristling fuzz-jangle that makes you yearn for The Shop Assistants and Strawberry Story; a suave, 80s pop-nod that wouldn’t sound out of place nestled within The Pet Shop Boys’ cosmopolitan playbook; the brutal noise and blissful echoes of Swervedriver, Slowdive and 14 Iced Bears; the caustic and oft-times riff-induced, Stiff Little Fingers; reverb-drenched vocal harmonies that lift you skywards ever hopeful and reminiscent of Lush; a wigged-out, space-drone that pulses with nostalgia – akin to Loop and Spacemen 3; an acoustic, Smiths-like, instrumental trip that drips like vegan honey – sophisticated in its charm and twisted Girl Group sounds that ooze the incandescent joy of a twenty-first century Shangri-Las.

We think we can dispense with the dismissive and lazy “Twee? C86? It all sounds the same” nonsense. Can’t we? Many of the bands, once disgruntled with the Twee / C86 definition, have come to embrace the term, reclaim it in much the same way as many fans did in the midst of time with their Tweecore call to arms of Twee As Fuck. Whatever the Twee / C86 movement or scene was, it was never one sound. If anyone was to listen to a collection of songs from this scene and claim they all sounded the same we’ll counter-claim that they hadn’t actually listened. With so many bands involved, and so many personalities and egos in those bands, it could never be one sound. Not ever.

We had heard only a few tracks from the album when Ian Key at Louder Than War noted in his review of the LP

“Under The Bridge is a pop gem. Some are punk rock, some are indiepop, others are dreamy swirls of fuzz. Some are gentle, some are full of rage, but all of them are defiantly sensitive, literate and full of DIY spirit.”

Having now heard the LP in its entirety, we’d be fools to disagree.

Sarah Records and Skep Wax artists and bands would, we imagine, acknowledge at least some of the above influences on their own musical journeys and will, we hope, agree that in turn they have influenced such movements as: Riot Grrrl, Shoegaze, Grunge, Britpop and Indiepop. Certainly, bands from all of the above scenes have, at one time, cited Sarah bands as influences.

The scene, whatever you want to call that scene, had and continues to have its feet firmly planted in a punk DIY spirit. Under the Bridge is a welcome addition to that hallowed, defiant tradition.

It’s a wonderful collection of pop music for those discerning enough to listen.

It’s available on 12” vinyl (including 16-page booklet) and CD, or it can be downloaded directly, all fromSkep Wax at:

https://ndrthebridge.bandcamp.com/releases

The 12” vinyl and CD can also be purchased from your local record shop.

The Three Masketeers

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #309: AMELIA FLETCHER

JC writes……

This is another first for the blog. It’s one I’m particularly excited about for all sorts of reasons that I won’t dwell on just now for fear of giving too much away.

The blog, for the next three days, is being taken over by The Three Masketeers, a trio of allegedly mysterious indie-pop aficionados whose obvious love and affection for the music and the musicians who make said music, will surely help to brighten up your days and perhaps introduce you to some songs you may otherwise not be familiar with.

There will be three separate but interlinked pieces, beginning with an ICA, followed by an exclusive interview, and rounded off on Thursday by a review of a soon-to-be-released album.

So, I’m off on a holiday (of sorts) till Friday, but in the meantime, you can find yourselves in the very capable hands of Don Diego de la Vega, Eustache Duager and Kathy Kane.

AMELIA FLETCHER GOES FORTH: A GUEST ICA by THE THREE MASKETEERS

A number of contributors to this blog have previously claimed that narrowing things down when pulling together an ICA is a near-impossible task. Having spent hours agonising over how to distil the output of Amelia Fletcher into a single, albeit wholly imaginary piece of 12” vinyl, we can confirm this to be the case.

This one contains 12 songs. As you’ll see from the specially created album sleeve, it encompasses a career which started in 1986 and continues still to provide great joy and delight in 2022. It’s not a chronological ICA, but it does start with one of the earliest songs on which Amelia took centre stage, and ends with something from a very unexpected but wonderful album released at the tail end of last year.

SIDE A

1. Talulah Gosh – Talulah Gosh (1987)

The blame for all what follows could, allegedly, be pinned on the fact that The Pastels provided their fans with wonderful badges back in the day. Amelia Fletcher and Elizabeth Price happened to strike up a conversation with one another at a gig in a small venue in Oxford in 1985 thanks to them wearing such badges.

They soon formed Talulah Gosh, a five-piece band and in 1986 signed to the Edinburgh-based 53rd & 3rd Records, finding themselves at the forefront of a scene that was soon labelled as ‘twee’ by the UK music press. The fact that Amelia called herself ‘Marigold’, while Elizabeth went by the name of ‘Pebbles’ and that early songs included Pastels Badge and Beatnik Boy, perhaps gives an idea of the sense of fun and mischief involved.

Elizabeth took leave of the band before the year came to an end, and was replaced by Eithne Farry as co-vocalist and on tambourine, with her first contributions being on this, the band’s third single release in May 1987. It is, quite simply, the greatest mission statement in all of indie-pop history. (Eustache Dauger)

2. Heavenly – She Says (1991)

It was awfully difficult to choose just one Heavenly song for this ICA, and in the end a bit of a personal curveball won the day.

She Says is from 1991, but isn’t on the original Heavenly Vs. Satan LP of that year. In fact, this 7” single came out not on Sarah Records of Bristol at all, but on K of Olympia (capital, no less, of Washington state).

A curveball? Simply because I’ve only recently truly fallen for She Says’ jittering, twitchy charm. It’s a less immediate prospect than other Heavenly singles – debut I Fell In Love Last Night (1990), its follow-up Our Love Is Heavenly (1991) or the likes of the more robust P.U.N.K. Girl and Atta Girl, both from 1993. But She Says’ spine of recurring doo-doo-doos, angel-class harmonies from Amelia and Cathy Rogers, plus a construction that’s almost located in the quiet/loud arena won the day.

Fancy a look at an amusing video of the band gadding around, in the indiepop style? (Kathy Kane)

3. Sportique – How Many Times….? (2002)

To paraphrase Anthony Strutt, “Sportique isn’t really a group. It is an underground indie supergroup…”

Amelia contributed to Sportique from the second LP onwards. Founded by ex-members of The Television Personalities and the Razorcuts, How Many Times…? sounds kitsch, anachronistic and just a wee bit shouty. I love it! With its throbbing bass, stabbing guitar and swirling, psychedelic keyboard charging towards that pleading vocal refrain… “how many times will I ask the same question…”  A gem.  (Don Diego De La Vega)

4. Marine Research – Bad Dreams (Peel Session, 1999)

Taken from Marine Research’s solitary Peel session (broadcast 18 May 1999), Bad Dreams is notable in employing a call-and-response device featuring Amelia and David Gedge – whose own Wedding Present and Cinerama ventures pop up often on this blog.

By lending a vocal Gedge was of course returning a favour, Amelia having guested on the Weddoes’ debut album George Best way back in 1987 (as well as supplying backing vocals and shrills to the band’s 1988 Beatles cover Getting Better).

Bad Dreams pits Gedge’s dialled-down delivery against Amelia’s zappier replies. The effect, and the lyrical content – fixated on the somewhat lost under-achieving male and the smart, successful female – magics up a picture of an indie odd couple: a contrasting pair of soulmates kind of doomed to be life partners despite it all.

Amelia has often advanced less-travelled takes on relationships, sometimes skewering male excess and manipulation, as well as traditional gender roles and assumptions. Continuing that theme – one demonstrated by previous band Heavenly in songs including Hearts And Crosses, Itchy Chin and Sperm Meets Egg, So What? – Bad Dreams casts the female as the empowered, positive breadwinner.

The file offered here is taken directly from the Peel broadcast. It’s topped and tailed with the DJ’s comments, including an endearingly unnecessary grammatical correction. (Kathy Kane)

5. Catenary Wires – Face On The Rail Line (2021)

Although Catenary Wires formed in 2014. It was 2016 before I became acquainted. Stripped down at this early stage to a duo, with long time musical, and life partner, Rob Pursey, Intravenous wafted like a wonderful breath of the freshest air. It is gorgeous.

I’m sure that some of you will appreciate that when someone asks you to name your favourite song by a particular band your answer may not be a straightforward as the questioner hoped. I zigged. I zagged. I hummed. I hawed and eventually decided upon Face On The Rail Line, recorded with a full band, and reminds me, in some ways, of Take Me Home, Country Roads which then diverges and soars leaving me to hit repeat. Hit repeat! Hit repeat!!  (Don Diego De La Vega)

6. The Pooh Sticks – Who Loves You (1991)

Following a big, confident, swaggering intro, Who Loves You (its title devoid of question-mark) swiftly switches to matters indiepop via a shift in pace and Amelia Fletcher’s brightly-delivered opening lines. Head Pooh Stick Hue Williams takes on the bulk of the rest of the song, prior to a closing – this time duetting- reprise of the intro. This bouncing 1991 single is from the Pooh Sticks’ excellent Great White Wonder LP on the Cheree label and is loads of fun.

A bit of personal indulgence if that’s OK: this song, and the LP it’s from, is forever connected with what will be coyly referred to as the Amelia Fletcher Converse Vandalism Incident – an infraction that, allegedly, took place in Edinburgh in July of 1991. (Kathy Kane)

SIDE B

1. Heavenly – I Fell In Love Last Night (1990)

Talulah Gosh called it a day in 1988. Three-fifths of its members when that day was called went on to form Heavenly, whose membership was augmented by Rob Pursey, an original member of Talulah Gosh but who had left very early on. Yup, the same Rob Pursey mentioned by my dear friend Don Diego at Track 5 on Side A of this ICA.

Heavenly signed to Sarah Records, and over the course of seven years would release four albums and seven singles (eight, if you count a split 7” released with bis in 1996).

I Fell In Love Last Night was the debut. A melodic and upbeat number about the break-up of a relationship, with more than a passing nod to the harmonies of 60s girl groups. It has featured previously on this blog, in a guest post written by the imperious Comrade Colin. He put it far better than I’m capable of doing:-

“Heavenly…..were the perfect Sarah band, and not just because of their history as Talulah Gosh or the fact they clearly hearted The Pastels. They just seem to capture the essence of what Sarah was all about; the guitars, the lyrics, the look and the love for, well, love. And, yes, in the beginning, the Heavenly view of love was a wide-eyed and hopeful vision of love, for sure, but what’s wrong with that, exactly? Oh, also worth mentioning is the fact that the ‘A’ side is relatively epic for a Sarah single – over 5 minutes long – but it holds together brilliantly and has a great run-out in the closing few minutes, building and building into a crashing finale. Lovely stuff.” (Eustache Dauger)

2. Catenary Wires – Mirrorball (2021)

It somehow feels natural that a song about falling out of love should be followed immediately with something from the other side of the coin.

The setting is a seemingly appalling, 80s-theme night in which the music is dominated, for the most part, by chart fodder. The wishes of those with, shall we snootily say a more refined taste, are very much along the lines of hanging the DJ. And yet, amidst the noise, chaos, drunkenness and bedlam, something quite magical happens.

A lovely wee video was made for this one. You’re a heartless bastard if this doesn’t put a smile on your face.

Oh, and coming up next, something which shows that even back in the day, the indie-kids loved their disco dancing. (Eustache Dauger)

3. Amelia Fletcher – Wrap My Arms Around Him (1991)

Wrap My Arms Around Him appears on the 1991 single/ep Can You Keep A Secret? The first time I played the EP I genuinely felt a parting of the ways. This wasn’t Talulah Gosh. This wasn’t Heavenly. What was it exactly? Initially, the opening track Can You Keep A Secret? was just too close to PWL for my liking, with those upfront keyboard ‘stabs’. Then came Wrap My Arms Around Him… still a sense of unease. However, on each track I did enjoy the vocals.

To quell my unease, I convinced myself that Wrap My Arms Around Him sounded rather like the much-vaunted new kid on the block St. Etienne, particularly Kiss And Make Up (Sarah Cracknell version), which is perhaps unsurprising as it’s a ‘re-imagining’ of Let’s Kiss And Make Up, a song by Amelia’s Sarah Records label mates, The Field Mice.

It took no time at all for me to love this uplifting ep.  While there has been a bit of an internal bun-fight in choosing a favourite, regular plays put my choice of Wrap My Arms Around him in little doubt.

Of the EP Amelia has said “…I wanted to be a disco diva, in the Yazz or Lisa Stansfield mould.” (Don Diego De La Vega)

4. Marine Research – Hopefulness To Hopelessness (1999)

Marine Research was a short-lived vehicle for Amelia, lasting depending on who you believe, between eighteen months and two years (1997 – 1999). It’s my own personal view that the band members were more driven during this period as they played live (even making trips to the USA), recorded radio sessions – some of which were filmed – and played live radio sessions, within what is a short timescale. The opening lyrical salvo suggests Amelia wasn’t quite done with her diva inclinations…

“I still want to have a chart hit
Go to pop parties
I still want to go to Paris in the spring
I still want to get my hair cut
Just like Jean Seberg”

Hopefulness To Hopelessness. A song about hope and defiance driven by a pulsing bass. (Don Diego De La Vega)

5. Tender Trap – Do You Want A Boyfriend? (2010)

So sweet that even the top-brand toothpastes struggle, prepare for rhymed references to Walking In The Rain and the Jesus And Mary Chain as Amelia and co. – ‘co.’ being fellow Trappers Katrina Dixon, Elizabeth Morris, John Stanley and, of course, Rob Pursey (whose presence decorates all of this ICA) ponder the track’s title query.

The song’s as out-and-out joyous as the likes of Talulah Gosh’s Bringing Up Baby or Over And Over by Heavenly, and that’s a tone assisted by a fun video of the band playfully interpreting the single’s theme. That said, a perhaps-darker response to its query is hinted at via the lines:-

“I bought new clothes and played guitars
I even changed my hair
But I don’t really see what I’m doing for me”  (Kathy Kane)

6. Swansea Sound – Corporate Indie Band (2021)

A new band full of familiar old faces and one of those rare positive things to emerge from the lockdown situations associated with the efforts to suppress the COVID outbreak.

Rob Pursey has just written a new song that he feels is just too fast and frantic for Catenary Wires. He decides to fire it off to head Pooh Stick Hue Williams.

Hue declares that he loves it. He re-records the vocal, from a cupboard in his house in Wales, returning it to Rob who is with Amelia in their home in Kent. Before long, work gets underway on a second song, using a similar process where the musicians don’t actually meet up in person.

The decision is taken to release the two songs as a mail-order limited edition cassette single. They get played on BBC Radio 6 Music and the cassette sells out quickly, and, almost by accident rather than design, Swansea Sound comes into being as a fully-fledged and active band.

With the addition of Ian Button on drums, and some guest vocals from The Crystal Furs, an indie-trio from Portland, Oregon, an album’s worth of material emerges, and is issued at the end of 2021 by Skep Wax Records, earning a recommendation as an ideal Christmas gift by this blog’s esteemed and urbane host, JC. (Eustache Dauger)

JC adds……

I know I said I was going to shut up for a few days, but just like the Four Tops, Gene, and Edwyn Collins….I Can’t Help Myself.

A huge thanks to The Three Masketeers for a delightful edition to the ICA canon. As mentioned at the outset, they will remain in charge of TVV for the next couple of days, and there’s more treats on the way in the shape of an interview with someone involved with Sarah Records back in the day, followed by an album review.

Hopefully, you’ll all tune in for those.

LOVE IS….

A GUEST POSTING by JEZ

JC writes:-

This time last week, I offered up a sixty-minute mixtape comprising seventeen songs with the word ‘love’ in the title.  In doing so, I said that I was going to make a fresh one at the start of each month during 2022, but would willingly make space for a guest posting if anyone out there wanted to have a go.

To my absolute delight, the mighty Jez from A History of Dubious Taste was very quick off the mark.   Here he is…..

 

Hello. My name is Jez and I am addicted to making playlists.

It has been three days since I put together my last playlist.

I’ve done mixes – compilation tapes, CD-mixes, playlists – for years now, always managing to find spaces where they could be heard: when I was younger, there were compilation tapes in the 6th Form common room, or in the motorway ‘restaurant’ I worked in during the holidays at 6th Form and at college (and for a year after I graduated). I would craft a new tape every other evening to take in the following day with which to wow my friends and work colleagues. Like snowflakes (the old usage of the term), no two were ever the same.

Becoming a DJ at college was almost inevitable and my plans for world domination moved on at pace: I started off by taking over the fortnightly Indie Night, before also becoming the regular DJ at the retro-80s night (which, incredibly, started in 1990), occasionally hosting the retro-60s & 70s night, playing between and after the bands on live music night, and eventually even the coveted Saturday night “Chartbuster” gig. (The fact that I was the Social Secretary and decided who got paid to DJ which nights was *coughs* entirely coincidental.)

After I graduated, I worked in a video shop for a few years, which only had a cassette player to play music through, so the compilation tapes kept coming. But as technology progressed I willingly followed, creating CD-mixes and then iPod playlists to soundtrack many a Friday night in with my flatmates, when we were too skint to go out, but between us could afford the ingredients to make several pints of White Russians until one of us inevitably fell asleep in the bathroom. This was the birth of the Friday Night Music Club which I’ve recently resurrected over at my place, A History of Dubious Taste (a link for which you can find over in the sidebar should you care to investigate further).

And of course, there was the far-more-frequent-than-I-care-to-admit compilation tape or CD-mix lovingly prepared for a young lady I was trying to impress. If you’ve ever read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, (and if you’re reading this, then I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t) then you’ll know, if you didn’t already, that there are rules one has to observe when making such a thing.

For example (and I’m paraphrasing here):

• Thou shalt not include the same artiste more than once in the same mix; and
• Thou shalt bury a particular song which you want the recipient to hear somewhere towards the end of the mix (but not within the last three songs, and definitely not the final track) – mid-way through the second “side” of a C-90 compilation tape should be about right.

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s my love of putting together playlists which brings me here today. For last week, whilst laid up with a touch of the Covids and trying to decide what could feature in this week’s mix at my place (which is now last week’s mix, do try to keep up), the latest missive from our host dropped. It included a playlist, which, as one would expect from such an eminent source, was rather fine, featuring a load of songs with the word love in the title.

And there, at the end of the post, JC had written these words: if anyone out there wants to have a go, I’ll willingly make space for a guest posting.

Now, one of the things I love about doing a mix is trying to make a theme of it, but drunken flatmates would inevitably roll their eyes when I started to grill them as to what the theme might be each week, so I try to shy away from them these days (themes, that is: I got rid of all the flatmates years ago).

But here was an invitation to create just such a thing, so I knocked this mix together and sent it to JC.

As with most of my mixes, it’s predominantly Indie Disco but with a fair smattering of pop tunes chucked in for good measure:

(Love is…also not caring that neither of you appear to have genitals…unless it’s just cold there….)

 

mp3: Various – “Love Is…”

• Squeeze – Labelled With Love
• Sandie Shaw – Long Live Love
• Erasure – Victim Of Love
• Sub Sub feat. Melanie Williams – Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)
• Little Boots – Love Kills (Buffetlibre vs Sidechains remix)
• Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX – I Love It
• The White Stripes – Fell in Love with a Girl
• Frank Wilson – Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)
• Kim Wilde – Chequered Love
• Echo & The Bunnymen – The Back Of Love
• Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Love Burns
• The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
• The Bluetones – Autophilia Or ‘How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Car’
• The Wedding Present – Give My Love to Kevin (acoustic)
• Half Man Half Biscuit – I Love You Because (You Look Like Jim Reeves)
• The Beautiful South – Love Is…

My usual Friday Night Music Club disclaimer applies: any skips and jumps in the mix are down to the mixing software I use; any mistimed mixes are down to me; all record choices are mine.

*****
It turns out that I had rather misunderstood the request, and JC wasn’t asking for playlists on the same theme as he had created.

Doh!

Still it’s done now, so you may as well give it a whirl.

At the very least, if you’re not familiar with my place it gives you an idea of the sort of stuff I usually post (along with sentences which are far too long and have waaaay too many brackets and semi-colons in them): stuff you’ll know; stuff you might not; stuff you’ve forgotten and are pleased to be reminded of; some you wish had stayed forgotten – all posted under the Where There’s No Such Thing as a Guilty Pleasure banner, which gives me carte blanche to post anything I fancy.

See?

Feel free to drop by sometime.

Oh, and: more soon

Cheers,

Jez

JC adds.………

A few things worth mentioning.

Jez has incorporated at least four songs I had on my shortlist when pulling together the previous mixtape, and it’s great to hear them surrounded by others I wouldn’t have thought of.

Jez has also plucked out some songs I know nothing or very little about – Little Boots and Icona Pop/Charli XCX are certainly making their debuts on TVV – and I can’t ever recall hearing that Kim Wilde number before.

Jez has also included The Smiths.  This will be the first time since December 2017, when ICA 150 was put together, that a Smiths number which isn’t an instrumental has been featured on these pages. I’m still not quite ready to make time to knowingly listen to The Smiths, and by that I mean pulling out a single or album and placing it on the turntable, but I won’t go out of my way to fast-forward a mixtape or hurriedly switch to another radio station if a song comes on.  It was really lovely to hear ‘Last Night….’ once again.  Maybe it’s the beginning of me being softened up…I certainly had to resist the strong urge, after coming home the other Sunday from an open mic event, to not play Rusholme Ruffians, having enjoyed listening to an old punk from Ayrshire offer his take on His Latest Flame.  Who knows?   If I do end up digging out some Smiths songs to listen to, I’ll be sure to write about it.

All of which is a bit of a side issue.  I really hope you enjoy Jez’s contribution – there’s a few cracking pop songs in there that are most unusual for TVV, but that’s exactly why I really value guest contributions. It would be a bit monotonous if it was just my own musical preferences on display every day.

So… who’s next for a mixtape?  I’m sure there’s a bit of Jez in all of us……..

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #308: THE SOUND OF VIOLENCE

A GUEST POSTING by OUR SWEDISH CORRESPONDENT

Jim,

The other day when driving my daughters to school it so happened that my phone, connected to the audio system of the car, even if in shuffle mode played 3 songs in a row that all contained the word “violent” or “violence” in the title, and this struck me as a topic for an ICA – even if not necessarily presenting anything new to the TVV crowd. The current situation along the Ukraine border had an uncanny touch to the sudden appearance of so much violence from my media library…

Rules were simple, I had to have the music myself, and it was the song not the artist that should contain a form of the word violence. So no Violent Femmes included.

Side A:

Violently Happy – Björk.

Violence as a reinforcement for feelings. No further introduction needed.

Violence – Grimes feta. i_o.

A bit ambiguous lyrics, somewhere in-between good and bad I guess. Makes me want to dance, from her latest album, Miss Anthropocene.

Violent Delights – CHVRCHES.

IMHO the best new thing out of Scotland this last decade, with a patent sounding track about being left with just haunting dreams.

A Violent Noise – The xx.

IMHO maybe the best new thing out of England this last decade, with a patent sounding track about being left with just haunting longing. Am I repeating myself?

Shining Violence – Chromatics.

Like an extension of the two preceding tracks, words are unnecessary.

Side B:

Lost In Violence – Siglo XX.

The Belgian cold wave act heavily influenced by Joy Division. Dark and moody, the influences are not exactly subtle.

Violent Playground – ionnalee.

2020 saw ionnalee release a compilation (Kronologi) of re-recorded tracks from her 10-year career as iamamiwhoami and ionnalee. This was one of the oldest tracks on the album (and a bit of a joker in the deck) dealing with men’s violence.

Quiet Violence – Hante.

French darkwave artist Hélène de Thoury delivers a haunting vision of hiding quietly in the dark, waiting for something bad to happen.

Violence Of Truth – The The.

Matt is upset. Matt makes great music when he is upset.

Violent Playground – Jonna Lee.

You guessed it, this is the original version by Jonna Lee which is her given name, and the only track on the aforementioned Kronologi album originating before the two electronic monikers of hers. Her two albums as Jonna Lee, 10 Pieces, 10 Bruise & This Is Jonna Lee, are much more traditional guitar based indie records. This track was however only released on a compilation album by her then label, Razzia Records.

Love & Peace

Martin

 

MOST FOLK DO THIS SORT OF THING IN MID-FEBRUARY

A smidgen under sixty minutes of music in one large file.

As I said last time around, I’m going to try and make a fresh one at the start of each month during 2022.

mp3: Various – It’s A Love Thing

Love Gets Dangerous (Peel Session) – Billy Bragg
Do You Love Me? (single version) – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Love Plus One – Haircut 100
The Greatness and Perfection of Love  – Julian Cope
Tattooed Love Boys – Pretenders
The Man Who Took On Love (and Won) – The Low Miffs & Malcolm Ross
Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) – Spiller
Bizzare Love Triangle (7″ version) – New Order
Love And A Molotov Cocktail – The Flys
The Magic Piper (Of Love) – Edwyn Collins
California Love – 2Pac feat. Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman
Love Detective – Arab Strap
White Love – One Dove
South of Love – Friends Again
Baby I Love You – Ramones
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – St. Etienne
You Say You Don’t Love Me – Buzzcocks

As always, if anyone out there wants to have a go, I’ll willingly make space for a guest posting.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #306: DAVY HENDERSON

For the most basic of background info, here’s the opening para of the wiki entry:-

David Alexander “Davy” Henderson (born c.1962) is a Scottish singer and guitarist whose career began in the 1970s. He is best known for his work with The Fire Engines, Win, The Nectarine No. 9, and more recently The Sexual Objects and Port Sulphur.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve lived almost all my life in Glasgow that I tend to look upon the musicians from the west coast of Scotland as always being the pioneers of all that’s been great about the local/national indie scene that I sort of overlook the impact of Davy Henderson over the past 40 years.  All the bands mentioned in that wiki entry have featured on this blog over the years, and you can use the index or search facility to go and read more if you’re so inclined.  In the meantime, here’s an ICA which tries to do justice to his career.  It’s not necessarily the very best or most innovative of his music, but I think it works well as an introduction to those of you perhaps unfamiliar with much of his music.

SIDE A

1. Candyskin – The Fire Engines (1981)

It was back in December 2015 when I used the phrase ‘a magical and wondrous moment in pop music history’ to describe the nineteenth second of this song. It’s when the strings so unexpectedly kick in.

Candyskin was the second single to be released by The Fire Engines. It came out on the Edinburgh-based Pop Aural Records, which was a subsidiary of Fast Product, the label to which the likes of Postcard and Factory owe a big debt.

2. Don’t Worry Babe You’re Not The Only One Awake – The Nectarine No.9 (1994)

Originally released on the 1992 debut album A Sea with Three Stars (or C*** going by the artwork on the sleeve), this version is taken from the CD Guitar Thieves, which brings together two sessions recorded for the BBC along with some incidental pieces of music in between each of the songs.

3. The Lane – Port Sulphur (2018)

Port Sulphur is the name given to a collective pulled together by Douglas MacIntyre of Creeping Bent Records. All told, almost thirty musicians have this far contributed to the work of the collective, including some who are no longer with us such as Alan Vega and Jock Scot. The music has been recorded periodically and thus far released through a ten-song vinyl-only album, Paranoic Critical in 2018, followed by Compendium, a CD and digital release in 2020 which offered up all the songs from the previous album along with an additional ten pieces of music.

The Lane is a song co-written by Douglas and Davy, along with the legendary Vic Godard, and there’s a shared vocal for your enjoyment.

4. Saint Jack – The Nectarine No.9 (1995)

The title track and opening song from the second studio album, originally released on CD by Postcard Records in 1995 and given a vinyl reissue by Forever Heavenly twenty years later. It’s a strange and ambitious recording, with songs interspersed with poetry and samples of dialogue taken from TV shows and films. The extensive notes provided with the 2015 re-release explain that much of the album was influenced, or more accurately inspired, by Davy’s love of the characters in Saint Jack, a 1979 film starring Ben Gazzara, which itself was an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Paul Theroux.

The author Irvine Welsh has said that Davy Henderson is a genius, and Saint Jack is him at his very best. It is certainly an album quite different from most, one which I thoroughly enjoy listening to from start to end, even those bits which I initially found to grind on my nerves but would later realise had a role to play in getting from the beginning to the end.

5. Super Popoid Groove – Win (1987)

The late 80s saw Davy Henderson almost become a bona-fide pop star. Alan Horne had signed Win, the band formed in the aftermath of the break-up of The Fire Engines, to his new label Swamplands, an indie bankrolled by London Records. Pop music with an indie-twist (of sorts) and a dance-beat (of sorts). Like so much music from the era, it’s dated a bit. The strange thing about Win, and in particular the debut album, it is a time when I didn’t really keep up much with what was happening in music, but living, working and partying in Edinburgh meant you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing this or the other near hit singles as the city really believed it was going to become home to the next big breakthrough act. I still have a real love for it all.

SIDE B

1. Exploding Clockwork – Port Sulphur (2020)

The concept of Port Sulphur was explained earlier. This wonderful piece of pop music is co-written by Davy and James Kirk….yup, the singer/guitarist who was part of Orange Juice way back at the beginning and who has drifted in and out of music over the succeeding years, preferring to concentrate on his career as a chiropodist.

Aside from Davy and James, the other musicians on this one could easily form a Scottish indie/pop supergroup from the past three decades – Andy Alston (keyboards), Katy Lironi (vocals), Douglas MacIntyre (guitars/vocals) and Campbell Owens (bass).

2. Here Come The Rubber Cops – The Sexual Objects (2008)

Whether it was a sense of dissatisfaction after the Win experience, but Davy Henderson has seemed quite content these past 30 years to make music under his own terms without any concerns for commercial success. The Sexual Objects have been around just as long as any of his other bands ever managed to stay together, but there’s not been too much in the way of singles or albums. One of their best songs dates back to 2008, courtesy of a 7″ inch single, limited to just 300 copies, on a label based out of Hamburg in Germany. I’ve long wanted to own a copy, but apart from being near impossible to find, the asking price is a tad on the steep side.

3. Constellations of A Vanity – The Nectarine No.9 (2001)

The Nectarine No.9 switched labels on a regular basis, and by the early 21st Century had been taken on by Beggars Banquet, for whom they would record three albums, none of which were remotely commercial. I suppose, similarly to The Fall, some record label execs liked the idea of having mavericks on the roster, perhaps hoping that the constant championing by folk like John Peel might somehow lead to some sort of progression beyond cult status. It’s hard to imagine any sort of similar act getting a deal these days, although I suppose the modern way, for the most part, is to go down the self-releasing route.

In among many strange songs on Received Transgressed & Transmitted, the first album for Beggars, there hides a most tremendous, upbeat and damn catchy song, one which extends to the best part of six minutes.

4. Big Gold Dream – The Fire Engines (1981)

The follow-up to Candyskin. There was enough of a buzz about this at the time of its release that it led to The Fire Engines making an appearance on Riverside, a BBC 2 youth programme that was broadcast in the early 80s. It’s out there on YouTube if you fancy.

5. Marshmallow – The Sexual Objects (2017)

I’ll recap the story of the release of the album Marshmallow.

Completed in 2014 and made ready for release in January 2015. Davy Henderson, frustrated at the conventions of record releases, decided to play a high risk strategy with the master copy by putting it up for auction, the idea of the auction was that whoever was the highest bidder would win the rights to the recordings, and it would become their decision to release as many or as few copies of the album as they chose.

In an interview at the time, Henderson said he was thinking of the record as being like a painting with just the one owner, but that owner then having the freedom to do anything they liked, even if the decision was to keep it to themselves with no further public consumption. The auction was won by folk who decided to allow 300 copies to be issued on vinyl….alas, I don’t have a copy, but I did pick up a digital copy when it was temporarily made available via Bandcamp.

It’s a great album, as upbeat and straightforward a recording as he’s ever issued, but yet there’s still a curveball across its nine tracks thanks to a sixteen-minutes instrumental guitar epic which takes up around one-third of the playing time.

So there you have it. Ten works spanning a period of almost 40 years from the fertile imagination of one of Scotland’s lesser-known but hugely valued musical treasures.

JC

 

A SMATTERING OF COVER VERSIONS

I’ve found an old posting from the deleted blog, and feel that in these environmentally aware times that it is worth of recycling.  Originally from November 2009:-

It’s been a wee while since I threw some interesting cover versions your way. So much so, I feel it needs to be a quartet today – all of them covers of classics:-

mp3 : British Sea Power – A Forest

This is such a difficult song to cover. I’ve always felt that with this 1980 single, The Cure created one of the all-time classic goth anthems. Almost 30 years on, the original hasn’t dated one bit – it still fills the floor of indie discos the world over. Just the other week, I saw trendy young things dressed head-to-toe in black at a Halloween event scream with delight when this was played. Alongside them on the dance floor there were blokes old enough to be their dads just as excited….and closing their eyes and imagining themselves to be three stones lighter, with full heads of hair and so on.

To be fair to British Sea Power, they make a good first of it, and they manage to make it sound like one of their own songs. But….given how much prominent the bass line is in the original, it seems strange to discover it is so relatively low in this mix. Anyone got strong views either way?

mp3 : Carter USM – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight

Once again, a very difficult track to do justice to. But if you didn’t know the original, I reckon you’d think this was yet another a Carter USM classic lyric and tune. Jim-Bob and Fruitbat have done a very fine job….the vocal delivery isn’t a million miles away from that of Paul Weller…and they keep the classic chant-along “whoa-oh-oh-oh” refrain after the song title is sung. I love it…..

mp3 : The Divine Comedy – Party Fears Two

Now, I am very sure about this. The Divine Comedy have taken one of the best-loved songs ever released by a Scottish group and ruined it. Neil Hannon is not a bad singer by any means, but his half-arsed effort at this shows just how distinctive and unique a vocal talent we had in the late and lamented Billy Mackenzie. And don’t get me started on how a great pop tune in the hands of Alan Rankine has been turned into something that makes me want to throw rotten fruit in the direction of those with the musical instruments in their hands. Bloody awful. But feel free to disagree.

mp3 : Aidan Moffat & The Best-Ofs – I Got You Babe

Despite me being just 2 years old when Sonny & Cher took this to #1 in both the USA and UK in the late summer of 1965, it is a song of which I know every single word and note,  simply because it was a staple favourite of radio stations for at least a decade afterwards. These were the years when DJs relied heavily on requests from listeners, and inevitably it would be a couple’s anniversary and this was the song they fell in love to and/or it was the first song at their reception. Oh, and it was always one asked for by wives on the Armed Forces request show on Sunday mornings for their husbands serving their country, usually in Germany or Belize.

Aidan Moffat‘s version, which was made available on 7″ vinyl if you bought the deluxe version of his 2009 LP How To Get To Heaven From Scotland has turned into one of my favourite bits of music released over this past year. Aidan delivers it with enough sincerity to make us believe that he’s a big fan of the original, and yet thanks to that brilliantly distinctive Falkirk twang in his voice he could just as equally be accused of taking the piss, such is the lack of polish in its production. Personally, I think he really is delivering a heartfelt tribute….and the singing and playing are complementary to much of what was on his own material on the LP. But if you don’t get Aidan Moffat or think Arab Strap are hugely overrated, then I suspect this cover is not for you.

JC

THE BEST OF SWEDISH MUSIC IN 2021

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT

(Our Swedish Correspondent)

Hi JC,

It’s the time of the year when I try to summarize the Swedish musical year just passed, this time I confess I dreaded my self-given task… Another year working from home in isolation, I have continued to play through my vinyl collection, which has been kind of an introvert exercise. Not quite sure if it was only me not paying much attention to the outside world, or if the output continued to be hampered by COVID restrictions, artists in the same kind of isolation as myself.
So when I finally got myself around to see what new, Swedish, music I had purchased (or at least enjoyed) from 2021 I thought I’d be at best able to come up with a split 7″ for the annual update – and admittedly it might not have been the richest year in terms of releases, but it did bring some of the best releases so far by a couple of favorites around my corner of Stockholm. Potentially due to the isolation, the artists or my own, this year probably has a softer, more pop oriented direction. Or I’m only getting old and soft, I can’t tell…
Breaking the golden rule of only one track per artist, I put together an album’s worth of the best Swedish music from 2021, according only to yours truly.
A1. Thåström – Papperstunna Väggar  (Paper Thin Walls) feat. Titiyo. Thåström,
As some might remember from my Swedish Girls ICA, once punk Royale over here, now I would say he is our Leonard Cohen – a storyteller in a dark and moody way. One of our best artists, with untouchable integrity, that made one of his best albums ever (in my eyes). He exchanged more or less all of his old band to new musicians to get new inspiration, the album having less guitars and more keyboards – still unmistakably Thåström the poet. This song has several hints of recognition to the Swedish (disbanded) band Kent, they sung about paper thin walls in a similar way, hearing what is going on next door, and they have also recorded a duet with Titiyo (who by the way is sister to Neneh Cherry).
A2. Makthaverskan – Lova (Promise). Makthaverskan (approx. Lady Of Power)
Surprised us all not only by releasing new material, but to abandon their normal album naming tradition – after releasing the albums I, II, and III they last year released “För Allting” (For Everything) and also moved slightly away from their punk-ier sound for something more melodic and pop-ish. As usual though they name some of the songs with Swedish titles, but they always sing in English. A band in the tradition of Thåströms first band, punkers Ebba Grön.
Badlands is composer, musician and soundscaper Catharina Jaunsviksna, and last year saw her release her second album, Djinn. A dark, moody, electronic record based in her sorrow of her mother’s tragic passing in 2017. Lyrics centered around loss, departure and letting go.
Debut album from Stockholm based multi-instrumentalist Augustine. High pitch voice, combining 60’s falsetto soul with retro synthpop, his album is a real soother for a year in COVID-restricted isolation. An album I’ve played frequently in the background during endless meetings since it’s release.
Some years ago they put up the show Who By Fire for two nights in Stockholm paying tribute to Leonard Cohen, so I tie together this side’s first and last track neatly. Spring 2021 saw the release of the music from the show, recorded live. I confess not being a huge fan of Mr Cohen, but I’ve seen him live once, and it was great – and I attended the first of the shows FAK did, this is my personal favourite of their versions. The exchange of Leonard’s dark, almost spoken delivery to the crystal clear voices of Klara and Johanna is striking.
Time to get out of that chair and flip…
ionnalee continued to be pretty active, first performing a live broadcast from a tiny island outside her childhood’s village, with remote, live and direct, contributions by collaborators as Zola Jesus and a few others. This was also released as an album, and then she released 2 singles, the first Machinee b/w Anywhere I Roam – another really good ionnalee release. Then she released a song in Swedish about her upbringing, later translated in English and released as a single with both tracks. This however didn’t float my boat as much as this one.
Their album closer about the wrong guy, lies and empty spaces in a just slightly slower pace than their normal full throttle.
B3. Thåström – Mamma (Mother).
Another track from Thåström’s album, telling the story of how his mother as young left her countryside small town and moved to Stockholm, and how he had wanted to see her back then. Very touching, if you know Swedish…
Ending the album with an epic, beautiful, track which has become one of my absolute favorites from last year. On the vinyl release these two where segued into one long, epic, track whilst the CD have them as 2 separate tracks. To me they are inseparable and I include here the close to 10 minutes vinyl version.
All the best, again from the dining table (aka office desk).

Martin

JC adds..…As I’ve said before, I always look forward to Martin’s end of year round-up as there’s inevitably something in there that grabs may attention, and this year is no different.

IT’S BEEN A LONG WHILE SINCE ONE OF THESE

Sixty minutes of music in one large file.

I’m going to try and make a fresh one at the start of each month during 2022.  As always, if anyone out there wants to have a go, I’ll willingly step aside to make room for a guest posting.

mp3: Various – I’ve Come To Learn How To Dance

Fire – BooHooHoo
She’s Attracted To – The Young Knives
Scratchyard Lanyard – Dry Cleaning
5 O’clock World – Julian Cope
Honey, Baby – Grrrl Gang
Living Well Is The Best Revenge – R.E.M.
Here Comes Comus – Arab Strap
Chaise Longue – Wet Leg
Thou Shalt Always Kill – Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
In Bloom – Nirvana
Up The Bracket – The Libertines
Stay Free – The Clash
Basement Band Song – The Organ
Ritchie Sacramento (The O.T.Mix) – Mogwai
Attack of the Ghost Riders – The Raveonettes

Quick mention of the excellent Grrl Gang.  I’ve been meaning to write-up something substantial, but not yet got round to it.

My love of Say Say Me and Otokobe Beaver, both of whom are signed to Damnably Records, led to me to look at their labelmates.

Grrl Gang are from Indonesia.  The one girl/two boy trio of Angeeta Sentana (vocals & guitar), Edo Alventa (guitar) and Akbar Rumandung (bass) have been together since 2016.   The track on this particular compilation was issued as a 7″ single around twelve months ago, while there’s also a nine-track LP, Here To Stay!, dating from February 2020 which is packed with what I can only describe as essential pop-tunes of an indie-bent. You’ll not be surprised to learn that the trio are fans of the Bellshill scene and Sarah Records.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #302: ANGEL

An unplanned ICA.  One with a difference.  And in all honesty, one that doesn’t hang perfectly but it might spark off some ideas among all of you out there.

I was loading up Angel Interceptor for yesterday’s posting when I noticed that the hard drive contained many examples of songs called Angel.  There’s even more with the word Angel in the title, and if I was to extend it to that, I’d likely come up with a more than half-decent ICA.  But I’m being strict for today, even to the extent of not allowing the plural to qualify and thus ruling out Ballboy, David Byrne, Flight of The Conchords and The XX.

SIDE A

1. Angel – Massive Attack

The very obvious opener. It’s probably the best known of the ten songs on offer today, It’s also, in my opinion, by far and away the best.  It also works as the opener as it is the first track on the 1998 album, Mezzanine.

2. Angel – The Style Council

It’s time for some Smooth Radio tunes here on TVV.  From the 1987 album, The Cost Of Loving, it’s a cover of a song originally released four years previously by American soul singer, Anita Baker.

3. Angel – Long Fin Killie

Long Fin Killie were a Scottish group from the mid-90s, described on wiki as experimental rock/post-rock.  There were three albums and five EPs between 1994 and 1998 on the London-based Too Pure label, best known for the early work of PJ Harvey,  The band got some prominence in 1995 when Mark E Smith did some guest vocals, with the song Heads of Dead Surfers being voted in at #10 in the Peel Festive Fifty.

Angel is taken from the Hands and Hips EP, released in 1996.

4. Angel – Andre Salvador and The Von Kings

This is a band from Nashville whose debut album was recorded in Brooklyn and given a physical release on the Last Night From Glasgow label in August 2020.  The promotional blurb offers the following:-

“Built around the songs of Tim Cheplick, the album takes inspiration from the likes of Elliot Smith, Camper Van Beethoven and Big Star and delivers something fresh, new and yet altogether comfortable and reassuring.”

It’s an album that I’ve grown increasingly fond of, having been a bit unsure when I first played it. Click here for the bandcamp page where you can have a listen.

5. Angel – The The

Side A closes off with a b-side, from the 12″ release of The Beat(en) Generation back in 1989.  It’s a three-minute-long, piano based track with a spoken vocal in which it sounds as if a sermon of some sort is being delivered.

SIDE B

1. Angel – Happy Mondays

You can find this one on the 1992 album Yes Please, the one recorded at great expense in Barbados with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club in the producers’ chair trying their very best to make sense of it all.   I say Barbados….that’s certainly true for the music.  Shawn Ryder was so addled throughout that he couldn’t contribute anything, and as such his vocals were added weeks later in a studio in Surrey.

2. Angel – Belly

The second track on Star, the debut album released by Belly in 1993.

Fun fact.  This was the second song called Angel written and recorded by Tanya Donnelly.  The previous effort had been in 1989 on Hunkpapa, with her previous band Throwing Muses.  It was a rare occasion when a Throwing Muses song wasn’t composed by Kristin Hersh.

3. Angel – Everything But The Girl

I was in two minds about placing this here on the ICA or as the closing track given that it fulfilled that purpose on the album Love Not Money.  I’ve instead gone for the edited version, released as a 7″ single, but which barely dented the Top 100 when it was issued in that format in June 1985, but that was the fate which befell just about all of EBTG‘s early singles.

4. Angel – Kevin McDermott Orchestra

A Scottish musician who still does well around these parts on the rare occasions he releases new songs and/or plays live gigs.  He was part of The Suede Crocodiles whose sole single, Stop The Rain, is an absolute classic from 1983 as recalled in this post on the blog in March 2019.

The solo career never quite clicked with me, although I do own a copy of Mother Nature’s Kitchen, an album written and recorded in Glasgow in 1989, and released by the wonderfully named Kevin McDermott Orchestra, on which Robbie McIntosh of the Pretenders and Blair Cowan of Lloyd Cole & The Commotions were among the contributing musicians.

5. Angel – Rosa Mota

Formed in London in the early 90s, Rosa Mota would release two albums and a handful of singles on 13th Hour Recordings, a subsidiary of Mute Records.  As I’ve mentioned before, they came to my attention when Clare Grogan contributed a guest vocal to one of the songs on the second of these albums, Bionic, produced by Steve Albini and released in 1996.  Angel, a string-laden instrumental that also features clarinet, flute and basouki, just felt like the best way to finish off the ICA.

JC

 

ARE YOU ALL SET FOR THE WELCOME NEWS?

About three weeks ago I was out running and as usual the iPod was my companion for that run. I was about halfway round my 5-mile loop, just before I get to this hill that I call James’ Hill. It’s called that because my mate James lives at the bottom of the hill. Anyway, it’s one of those hills that you can barely walk up, let alone run up, and every time I do this particular run I try and get a little bit closer to the top before I stop, wipe the sweat from my forehead, swear and walk the last bit (which is most of it).

So there I am puffing away, my run turning more into a stagger and then a walk and finally a complete stop, I’m about 100m or so from the top, closer than I expected to be honest. I stand there, catching my breath, my back is pointing up the hill and I look down and across the valley that I have just run through, it’s literally a breathtaking view.

About ten seconds later a song comes on the iPod. It was this in fact.

mp3: Working Mens Club – Valleys

Now…three years I would have sprinted all the way home and written a pithy little piece on my music blog about the amazing ability that iPods have to come up with the right song at the right time – but this time I just smiled and jogged home and thought about how brilliant the song was (and it is amazing by the way).

But…that itch was back.

The next day I was making some onion soup in the kitchen and the radio was idly playing away in the background and this came on

mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Norman 3

I stood there stirring gently, so not to spoil the onions too much, and that little lightbulb came on in my head. That’s two great songs by bands with ‘Club’ in their names that I have heard recently, there’s a series in this I’m sure I think, and there is – well until I get to this lot at least.

mp3: New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream

I reached for a pen and write the words “Club Music” down on the back of a school letter and then return to my onion soup.

That itch wasn’t going away.

The next day a mate messages me with a band recommendation, a band called Rome, who, if you are interested, sound a lot like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I’d post something by them but I don’t own anything by them (yet). I message him back, “Best Band with A City in their Name..?”

A few messages later – we haven’t decided but I have discovered how great this lot are

mp3: Vancouver Sleep Clinic – Collapse

The back of the school letter now has a list of two ideas and within twenty minutes it becomes a list of four with “Numberwang” and “Overrated” scrawled underneath the first two and then I stop and I draw a line through them all and feel a bit daft.

Enter Mrs SWC, she has I think been watching me from the lounge, with hawk like interest. I tell her I am thinking about blogging again, but it feels wrong without Tim helping me. It’s a bit like Jam Roly Poly without the custard, I tell her, largely because I am pretending to look at a recipe of Jam Roly Poly.

She looks at me and hands me her iPad it is showing a BBC item about Phil Collins and how he has reshot the photography on all his ‘classic’ solo albums – you know the ones – where just his face is visible against a plain backdrop.

“No Badger Required” she says….

No Badger Required goes live from 21st November, please check it out. There will be music, stories, and the occasional recipe (perhaps).

http://nobadgerrequired.wordpress.com/

Thanks for Reading

SWC

JUST MAYBE…

It’s not been easy supporting the Scotland team these past 20-odd years.  Growing up, I was accustomed to a limited amount of success in that we qualified for the finals of the World Cup in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1996, 1990 and 1998.  OK, once we got there, we never really acquitted ourselves and were always among the first teams to be knocked out at the initial group stages, but just being involved made for exciting summers.

We’ve not come close to getting to any Finals since 1998. Indeed, there have been a number of humiliations and far too many low points along the way ever since.

There was, when the qualifying draw was made for the 2022 World Cup, more hope than normal on account of us having improved under manager Steve Clarke and from being put in a group where we had a chance of at least finishing runners-up in.  But then, the football matches got under way and the hope evaporated.  The first fove games, played in March and September 2021 were very uninspiring.  We drew at home against Austria and away in Israel, our main rivals in the group, and while the defeat away to Denmark wasn’t unexpected, the manner of it – a 4-0 thrashing – was a horrible watch.  Yes, we had eked out home wins against the Faroe Islands and Moldova, the two minnows in our group, but we now had to more than likely win all remaining five matches to have any hope of realising the dream.

On 7 September 2021, we pulled off a surprise 1-0 win in Vienna, thanks to a goal from a penalty awarded after a debatable VAR review, seriously putting a dent in the hopes of the Austrians.

On 9 October 2021, we scored a goal in the fourth minute of added-on time at the end of the match to somehow snatch a 3-2 win at home to Israel.

On 12 October 2021, it almost came horribly unstuck, but a goal in the 86th minute saw us eke out a necessary three points in the Faroes.

The Danes were continuing to do us favours by winning their matches against Austria and Israel, and all of a sudden a path to qualification was open.

On 12 November 2021, we travelled to Moldova where a fine performance resulted in a 2-0 win, meaning we had secured second place in the group and a shot at glory.

Last night we played our final qualifying match against Denmark, a side that had breezed through its previous nine games, winning them all and indeed only conceding one goal along the way.  Anything other than a win would have meant our next step would be an away match, in March 2022, against one of the other runners-up with a better record than us, most likely against a side that was far higher than us in the world rankings.

Last night, Scotland beat Denmark by two goals to nil.  It’s undeniably our best and most important win in a generation.  Twelve teams will be involved in the next stage of the qualifying process, and last night’s win means we are guaranteed a home match, and unless we are terribly unlucky with the draw, we should be playing against a side who we can beat.  Do that, and we get down to the final six, with one more match to be won if we are to get to the finals.  The draw is next week……

There was a lot of post-match adrenalin, and I decided that it would best be served by pulling together, for the first time in a couple of years, a new one-take 60-minute mixtape.  I hope it meets with your approval.

mp3: Various Artists – Just Maybe…

TRACKLIST

Look At The Sky – Sons of the Descent
Ex Stasi Spy – Luke Haines
One Piece At A Time – Michelle Shocked
Fiery Jack – The Fall
Blues For Ceausescu – Fatima Mansions
Get Up – Sleater-Kinney
Firestarter – The Prodigy
Born Free – M.I.A.
Radio Free Europe – R.E.M.
I Sold My Soul On E-Bay – Swansea Sound
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Blue Boy – Orange Juice
Take The Skinheads Bowling – Camper Van Beethoven
Definitive Gaze – Magazine
Hey Heartbreaker – Dream Wife
Go Wild In The Country (12″ version) – Bow Wow Wow

Some you’ll know, while others may well be new to you. It’s well worth a listen, even if I say so myself.  And Taylor Swift straight into Orange Juice works perfectly.

Tune in tomorrow for some unexpected but welcome news.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #295 : SWEDISH GIRLS : A COLLECTION OF NAMES

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT

(our Swedish Correspondent)

Hi Jim,

The recent name-centered ICA’s gave me the idea of a Swedish Girls ICA – not in the sense the expression Swedish Girls was made world famous in the 50’s and 60’s but songs in Swedish named after girls.

I’ve kept to only songs in Swedish, my apologies for 10 songs with little meaning to the rest of the TVV community, but still. If for no other reason, it amused me putting this collection together, and it was an afternoon’s work rather than 3 months of constant changes.

Swedish Girls, a collection of names.

(Contrary to what you might think, Helene is far from the most common female name in Sweden, it’s Alice and has been so for many years.)

A1 Ebba Grön – Mona Tumbas slim club

Ebba Grön was one of the first Swedish punk bands, and the one that grew biggest. Mona Tumba was the wife of hockey pro, and later golf pro, Sven Tumba and she started her own fitness studio complete with a range of products and video courses. Our version of Jane Fonda. According to Ebba Grön we don’t need her slim club…

A2 Kent – Bianca

Kent, probably the biggest (indie) rock band we had within our borders. They also had quite a following in our Nordic neighbours, especially Norway, but by and large they were a Swedish concern. Lyrics often cryptic and hard to decipher, sometimes labelled emo – I would go for dark.

A3 Reeperbahn – Sång till Helene

Reeperbahn was one of the most important “new wave” bands that surfaced in the wave of music post punk-era. This is an early single, released 1979.

A4 Olle Ljungström – Alice

Olle Ljungström was the singer in Reeperbahn, after the band disbanded he had sorts of a solo career and in the 90’s he released a handful of brilliant records, but then disappeared in drugs, illness and isolation. He had almost recovered, was clean, when he died 2016 with a come-back album almost finished. It was posthumously finalized and released in 2017, so almost 40 years after the previous track here now is Alice, also sung by Olle.

A5 Thåström – Linnea

Joachim Thåström was the singer of Ebba Grön and has since then been in Imperiet (basically an evolution of Ebba Grön) and noise outfit Peace & Love & Pitbulls. Solo I would say he’s our Nick Cave, moving between rock and almost crooning, reading his lyrics more than singing. Always dark, moody. One of the greatest Swedish artists in modern time.

B1 Magnus Carlsson – Elin

Magnus Carlsson is the lead singer of Weeping Willows, band known for making middle aged men cry at their concerts with their 60’s-drenched pop with lyrics brim-full of lonely men and broken hearts. Solo Magnus leans more towards Northern Soul, and I had to include this since as at the time I had just met a woman named Elin – the chorus goes “Elin, you are, you are mine” – I played the song frequently. (She is now Mrs.)

B2 Tant Strul – Rosa

Tant Strul was the female version of Ebba Grön and singer Kajsa Grytt our version of Siouxsie, albeit blond. Apart from their debut album I wouldn’t say their music was punk, but they had the punk DIY attitude and at the time as an all female rock band they likely had to fight a mountain of stupidity from the recording business. Among the best we had at the time, and singer Kajsa is still active as a (very good) solo artist.

B3 Commando M Pigg – L Marlene

New Wave band from Stockholm, started out as Commando Musse Pigg (Commando Mickey Mouse) but the big American movie company didn’t appreciate the connection and they shortened their name to Commando M Pigg, and later just to Commando. Excellent band live, probably my best live experience.

B4 Webstrarna – För guds skull Helene

From their self-released rather quirky debut album. Webstrarna polished their sound moving on but became the band a bit inbetween – too pop for the indie kids and too strange (“left field”?) for the pop kids. They were big fans of Reeperbahn (see track A3).

B5 Anna Järvinen – Lilla Anna

Part Swedish, part Finish, but since she lives and works in Sweden I count her in. Dreamlike, fluffy like white clouds, her music is light, with room for less. Somewhat a lyricist I guess she can be harder to appreciate when you don’t understand the language, but I thought this pretty little piece would make a nice album closer. For the album this is lifted off she also made a cover of Cocteau TwinsFootzepoletic, but the week the album was released the band changed their mind and withdrew their approval of the song so the album got withdrawn – I was lucky to buy it early, so I have the original LP.

I salute those who cared to read this far, and if you even took the step to listen to some of the tracks I hope there were some Swedish Girls to your liking!

Tack och hej,

Martin

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #293: “CATH/KATH etc'”

Strangeways said yesterday afternoon, in respect of the Jims, Jimmys and James’ICA:-

“A very fine idea for an ICA – and a lovely post. I wonder which female name could make up a companion piece?”

SIDE 1:

CATH – The Bluebells

This ICA was hurriedly put together after seeing the comment from my good friend Strangeways, which I took as a challenge, although he’s such a nice bloke that he certainly didn’t throw it down as one.  Warning, it may well lead you up the garden path (woah-woah).

KATHLEEN – Tindersticks

As featured not too long ago on the blog. Tindersticks have made a few live versions available over the years, this is taken from the CD single Bathtime and was recorded at the London Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA) in November 1996.

KATE – Johnny Cash

Written by Marty Robbins, this version was released in March 1972 as the third single from Johnny Cash‘s album A Thing Called Love. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. (a thing I never knew existed until putting this ICA together). It was originally recorded by Rex Allen in 1961 with  the title “You Put Me Here (Sure as Your Name’s Kate)” issued as a single on San Antonio-based Hacienda Records. Which sort of provides a link to the next track….

I LIVE AT CATHY’S NOW – Graham Fellows

From 1985 and the album Love At The Hacienda. He used to be Jilted John, and later in life he became John Suttleworth.

KATY – The Boy Who Trapped The Sun

I’ve got this on the hard drive courtesy of Jacques The Kipper shoving a home-made compilation CD my way back in 2011. The Boy Who Trapped The Sun was the stage name of Colin MacLeod, who is from the rather remote Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. He was discovered, in just his early 20s, singing and playing in a bar in Aberdeen and offered a recording contract by Polydor/Geffen Records. He made one album, Fireplace (2010), but when the hoped for sales didn’t materialise, he was dropped soon after. It appears that Colin has sporadically released singles and albums under his own name over the past few years, with the latest Hold Fast, being released in June 2021. He clearly still has a lot of famous admirers, as none other than Sheryl Crow sings alongside him on two of its songs.

SIDE 2:

KATE MOSS – Arab Strap

“Don’t try and tell me Kate Moss ain’t pretty. Don’t try and make me believe. Don’t try to force me into letting you boss me. When I’m pretending to leave. I knew that you could ruin my good mood. That’s exactly what you’ve done. We sat there silent and you got violent. Going out with you used to be fun. You’re getting colder. No doubt you’ve told her I’ve just become a pest. Does she know maybe, you’re having a baby? I think it’s about time you did that test. You know I’ll miss you, when I can’t kiss you. You know I don’t want us to split. Now I must say, it’s going that way. You’re always bored and full of shit.”

Originally on the debut album, The Week Never Starts Here (released all of 25 years ago), this is taken from the band’s first ever live show at King Tut’s in October 1996.

CATHERINE 1956 – PAWS

The opening track from Cokefloat, the debut album by PAWS, released on Fat Cat Records in 2013. A remarkably upbeat tune given that it’s about the death of singer and frontman Phillip Taylor’s mother, but then again it really is a celebration of her life and the way she wanted him to pursue his dream of making it in the music industry.

COMPLAINTE POUR STE. CATHERINE – Kirsty MacColl

From wiki:-

“Complainte pour Ste. Catherine” is a song written by Canadians Philippe Tatartcheff and Anna McGarrigle. It was originally used as a B-side to another single,”Hommage à Henri Richard”, which was written by McGarrigle and Richard Baker, and released in April 1974. It was intended to coincide with the Montreal Canadiens entry into the 1974 NHL playoffs, but failed to succeed commercially after the Canadiens lost to the New York Rangers.

Kate & Anna McGarrigle then reused it for their eponymous debut album in December 1975.  Kirsty MacColl put it on as the extra b-side on the 12″ version of her single from 1990, Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me, Sunny Jim (which could, of course, have fitted in yesterday).

A few years later, in 2001, I would have the pleasure of seeing Kate & Anna McGarrigle on stage in Glasgow, when they brought their vocal talents to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, initially on the album No More Shall We Part, and then during the world tour which followed.

Which leads to another natural link…..

KATHY’S KISSES – The Birthday Party

Back in the days before Nick Cave got all sophisticated and became a darling of the chattering classes. From 1981. It’s everything you’d expect from something that was originally released as the bonus track of a 12″ single and until the CD re-release of the album Prayers on Fire in 1990 had been all but forgotten. Unlikely to be aired at a gig with a £100 ticket price in the near or indeed distant future.

CATH CARROL – Unrest

Unrest was an indie band from Washington DC. Some of their later material was issued by 4AD Records, including the 1993 album Perfect Teeth from which this tribute to the music writer turned performer is taken. Worth mentioning that the album cover was a photograph of Cath Carroll, as taken by the late Robert Mapplethorpe, so she was clearly happy with it all.

ICA 293.  Bashed out in an hour.  The things that can be achieved when there’s no longer a need to work for a living.

ICA 294 will return to its roots, being devoted to one singer or band.  And it’s going to be a guest posting.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #292 : “JIM’S, JIMMYS AND JAMES'”

A GUEST POSTING by jimdoes

Hey JC

Hope all is well with you – this one has been a long time coming, but I finally put a bit of time aside to finish it.

Here’s another sort of random ICA – Jim, I’m sure you will approve! And I hope I haven’t missed a Jim song that is one of your favourites – and I hope there’s a couple you’ve not heard before. We’re lucky – there’s loads of songs with Jims, Jimmys and James’s in their titles – i’m not sure if it would be possible to do an ICA with any other names. Perhaps someone else could try?

I’ve kept it to five tracks per side but added in a little interlude that isn’t really a song but is great nonetheless (and a bonus track because why not?) – so without further ado:

HOW WAS IT FOR YOU? – AN ICA OF JIMS, JIMMYS AND JAMES’

SIDE 1:

JIMMY JAMES – BEASTIE BOYS (From LP Check Your Head)

THIS NEXT ONE IS THE FIRST SONG ETC ETC….

Apparently a tribute to Jimi Hendrix – but who cares about that? Opening track on my favourite Beastie Boys album – and if I was ever to get round to doing an opening track ICA, this would be in contention. And it doesn’t even say Jimmy, James or anything like that – yet as a bonus the title features both names!

JIMMY THE EXPLODER – WHITE STRIPES (From LP The White Stripes)

Track one on their first album – I’m not cool enough to say it was the first White Stripes song I ever heard – like a lot of people, that would be Hotel Yorba. But when I discovered them I bought everything I could and was blown away by this track – it remains one of my favourite White Stripes songs. I always used to put it first on compilations I’d do, as it’s such a good opener – you can’t help whooping along. But saying that, it’s relegated to track two on this ICA!!

JIMMY JIMMY – THE UNDERTONES (From LP The Undertones)

I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve had Jimmy Jimmy shouted at me in bars/clubs etc – one of those songs I guess.

JIMMY JAZZ – THE CLASH (From LP London Calling)

There can’t be many readers of TVV that don’t know this song. If I was to have a favourite Jim song it would probably be this (or it is when I write this, tomorrow might be a different Jim song). I never heard this till I went to college aged 19 (I was late to The Clash) – my two best friends were huge Clash fans and they always called me Jimmy Jazz – which they still do to this day. Anyway, it has a certain wasted quality to it that I love.

HEAR ME JAMES – THE WOODENTOPS

So many Jimmy/James songs to choose from. This one is from my in between Smiths/Wedding Present stage – and was probably a taster to dancing a bit more in indie discos. Breathless. Sums up being young and giddy perfectly.

Interlude:

BIG JIM – IVOR CUTLER (From LP Jammy Smears)

HELP! I’m not sure that Ivor Cutler has ever been included on an ICA but here’s a tale of a drowning man. It’s weird and perfect in his choice of words – no matter how many times I’ve heard it, I can’t suppress a smile. John Peel was a big Ivor Cutler fan, recording 22 sessions for his show – only The Fall recorded more, apparently.

SIDE 2:

MY ONE AND ONLY JIMMY BOY – THE GIRLFRIENDS (Single)

I’d never have listened to this song if I’d not seen the title, but I love it – it makes you want to hug a Jimmy right? Or just dance with one at least! Released in 1964 this song is a bit of a lost gem – it reached no 49 on the US charts and was the only song The Girlfriends ever released.

JAMES AND THE COLD GUN – KATE BUSH (From LP The Kick Inside)

Who could resist Kate Bush singing and screaming their name? This isn’t about any James in particular but “James was the right name” apparently. The record company wanted this to be her debut single but Kate Bush wisely insisted on it being Wuthering Heights – this would’ve sounded equally striking and out of time for 1977 – but her career might’ve been different if she hadn’t got her own way. The live version from The Tour of Life is equally great – and the video is worth checking out on YouTube – what a performance – prowling around with rifles and handguns!

JAMES – BANGLES (From LP All Over The Place)

Aren’t the Bangles great? Poppy, dancey, Jamesy. Obviously I’m biased, but this is a great pop record – although if it was called Dave I’d still love it (but not quite as much).

JAMES – LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS (From LP Easy Pieces)

It’s strange how two songs with the same title can have such different atmosphere’s – from an uplifting James to a more downbeat James. I’ve only included this because it was the first song I was aware of with my name in its title. Not the best Lloyd Cole song, and certainly not the best song with James in its title. I never liked it as a youngster, and it’s a song I never listen to now, only digging it out to listen to for this ICA and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. You can’t help thinking any song with your name in the title is sort of about you, and it annoyed me (as a teenager) that the James of this song has so many negative traits. I’m glad that I’ve since discovered many other great songs with my name in the title! Anyway, compared to much of the upbeat nature of Easy Pieces, this song seems a bit miserable and maudlin – especially as it follows Lost Weekend on the tracklisting.

BROTHER JAMES – SONIC YOUTH (From EP Kill Yr Idols)

Guitar freak out where they sound like they are playing with drumsticks? CHECK. Kim Gordon screaming unintelligible lyrics? CHECK. Sonic Youth perfection.

Bonus track:

FIRE SO CLOSE – JAMES (Single)

And we even get the bonus of a band called James who have made one or two great records(!) It might be cheating to include them – hence it’s a hidden bonus track!

jimdoes

PURE UNCONTROLLED MAYHEM! HYSTERIA AND MISBEHAVIOUR! MOB RULE!

A DEBUT GUEST POSTING by FRASER P

There’s an archive clip in the unmissable new Sparks Brothers documentary that captures a moment of pure 1970s pop culture. During a live Sparks performance, sometime in 1974, the stage is being gradually invaded by the crowd, with security overwhelmed and unable to stem the tide. The band gamely strive to play on and at one point Russell Mael, with trademark energy, strides buoyantly across the stage belting out ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us’ only to be completely floored as he runs straight into an advancing phalanx of teenage girls.

YES! I thought, this is EXACTLY what gigs were like when I started going in the late 1970s! Pure uncontrolled mayhem! Hysteria and misbehaviour! Mob rule!

At some point many years later in my gig-going life I recall seeing kids literally queuing by the side of the stage during a performance, waiting to be ushered up and fed delicately onto the outstretched hands of the crowd, thence to ‘surf’ gently to the back, where they were deposited onto the floor like five year-olds on a boogie-board washing up in the shallows. Where, I asked myself, had it all gone wrong?

One of the first gigs I ever went to was The Clash at Edinburgh’s Odeon cinema in November 1978. From a balcony seat at my first gig, The Boomtown Rats a few months earlier, I had learned straight away that the place to be was down in the stalls, where a boiling mass of teenage ferment was seemingly connected by direct current to the frantic charge of ‘Looking After Number One’ and ‘Mary of the 4th Form’.

Accordingly for The Clash gig, my friends and I queued before the box office opened and secured stalls seats, quite far back, but wisely located on the aisle. When The Clash took the stage on the night we were well placed to bomb down the aisle into the explosion of human energy at the front just as the stage lights blazed and the band smashed into ‘Safe European Home’.

As I duly boiled in the teenage ferment I became aware that the row of seats into which I had insinuated myself was no longer fully attached to the floor and was moving back and forth with the surging crowd. Between me and the stage the fans were gleefully pogoing up and down on top of the remnants of the first half dozen rows of stalls, which must have succumbed within seconds to the rampaging punks.

Pretty soon my row of seats resigned itself to fate and capsized gracefully into the sea of legs in front of me. I was compressed in a bouncing, sweaty fug as The Clash continued their breakneck set. Had there been any rows left I would have been about three or four from the front, close enough to see the idiots who still seemed to think that gobbing was punk style in late 1978. Strummer was splattered by a steady stream of saliva that slithered down the body of his guitar, a translucent slime of pure stupidity.

During the encore The Clash attempted to play ‘White Riot’ but, Sparks-like, the stage quickly filled with fans, dodging the bouncers with side-steps worthy of a Welsh stand-off. Most of the song was smothered as people crowded around Strummer and Jones, making it impossible for them to play their guitars. Paul Simonon managed to escape onto the drum podium from where he and Topper Headon kept the bassline and rhythm going to guide the massed chorus of ‘White riot, I wanna riot, white riot, wanna riot of my own’, yelled tunelessly into the mikes by everyone on the stage. I saw someone grab a stand and inadvertently whack Strummer in the mouth with the mike. I wondered if that was the origin of his famously cracked incisor or if it had always been like that.

Bouncers vainly tried to throw people back into the crowd and intercept new interlopers. In the midst of it all Viv Albertine and Ari Up of support band The Slits skipped merrily from one side of the stage to the other, after the fashion of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

The recklessness of punk crowds was legendary in those days, matched only by the ferocity of bouncers. Some other friends who went through to Glasgow’s Apollo Theatre to see Siouxsie and the Banshees told me they saw one bouncer literally punch a fan in the face, knocking them right off the (rather high) stage. Had it not been for the packed crowd onto which they fell it might have ended more tragically, but then it wouldn’t have been the first time at a rock gig that the security turned out to be the biggest threat to people’s safety.

From subsequent gigs by The Jam and even Elvis Costello I realised that the seat-trashing thing was pretty much standard procedure. The theatres must have been creaming in so much profit that they could factor in the repairs to their break-even calculations, otherwise why the hell did they ever book bands?

And therein, my friends, lies the clue to the present age of sanitised, stage-managed, emasculated rock and roll. It’s a business – no shit Sherlock, it always was – but like every other sphere of business since the 1980s it’s been modernised, commodified and globalised until it’s just as much a part of everyday life as a Big Mac, an alco-pop, an iPhone and a pair of dropped-crotch jobby-catchers. ‘They got brand new suits – huh, you think it’s funny, turning rebellion into money,’ sang Joe Strummer that night in 1978. We thought it was a challenge, not a prophecy.

Which is not to say I’m pining for the days of uncontrolled violence at gigs. I know that if I was a parent now I’d be absolutely shitting myself at the thought of my kids going to events like that. My parents, coming from the generation before rock’n’roll, were blissfully ignorant of what I was up to, despite the media’s moral panic over punk rock.

The worst it got was when they picked me up after seeing The Rezillos at Clouds Ballroom in August 1978. Living out of town as we did, I could make a late bus home after a gig at the Odeon, but I knew shows at Clouds were a different matter. My parents agreed to pick me up when I told them disingenuously that it would likely finish ‘about 11 or 11.30’. When I finally emerged at 1.30am they were far from amused, not least from having sat for two hours watching the human debris floating around Tollcross at that time of night and the state of Edinburgh’s punk proletariat disgorging from the ballroom alongside me.

Thankfully the gig was well worth it. The memory of a wee boy, no more than 10, extricated from the molten crush at the front, riding piggy-back on lead singer Fay Fife while squirting the crowd with a water pistol will never be erased, least of all for that kid, I hope.

At a couple of points in The Sparks Brothers film, reference to the Mael’s early captivation by rock’n’roll is visualised by the same black and white footage of wrecked theatre chairs being aggressively thrown into a pile at some 1950s Jerry Lee Lewis gig. The Killer pounds his piano while lines of nightstick-wielding police officers try to protect the stage from the riotous assembly before them. It’s a stock image of rock’n’roll carnage, its threat to order, its dangerous ability to induce frenzy in the young. The intention is ironic in Sparks’ case, but still, you get my point. Those chairs.

From its emergence as a truly mass popular music genre, rock’n’roll was barely much more than 20 years old by the time I started going to gigs, and the punk revolution had reinvigorated its disruptive, rebellious character for my generation. Looking back now, more than 40 years after I trampled the Odeon’s seats underfoot, it almost seems as though that time was already rock’n’roll’s last fling as a spontaneous transformative force in cultural and social norms.

You might think I’m about to deliver some piercing cultural insight about rock’n’roll, globalised capitalism, social and cultural revolution, and the pivotal role of theatre seats in it all. Or maybe I’m just another old Gen-Xer, rolling out the nostalgia for the liberating moments of our adolescence. Wonderful in young life. It was a glorious experience. Kids today will never know, etc. And neither they will, but maybe they’ll know things we never can and music will change their lives in different ways to how our music changed us.

The truth is that between 1955 and 1985 our social world changed more than in almost any other 30 year period in peacetime history. Rock’n’roll was as much a symptom of that change as a cause, and we kid ourselves if we think it was the other way round. The mayhem of music’s performative rituals during those three decades was like the ground cracking and buckling in an earthquake. Social and intergenerational relations were being remade and it was a rough ride for a while.

But since the 1990s there has been little remaking to be done. Now the parents of teenagers are people who have grown up through those social changes themselves. They’re not the monolithic conservative and conformist generation born before the war, before rock’n’roll. They accept the end of deference, the notion of social mobility, the reality of sexual liberation. They don’t really care whether people are gay, or unmarried mothers, or wear their hair long, or smoke a bit of dope now and then. Those things don’t threaten anything in their lives anymore. They’re people like me, who went to Clash gigs when they were 15.

The revolution is over. It’s been televised, and you can watch it all again on those decade nostalgia programmes produced by Tom Hanks. There is no wild rock’n’roll mayhem anymore because there’s no need. There are still revolutions to be had, but they’re not of the kind that pitted kids against their parents. Rock’n’roll is just music now. So you can stop, flip down the cinema seat and sit quietly watching for the rest of your life, and if you live long enough the ground will start to shake again.

FRASER P

JC adds…….

First of all, a huge thanks to Fraser for a wonderfully written debut piece for the blog.   I really hope it’s the first of many, and again I realise just how lucky I am to have so many talented folk out there so willing to give freely of their time.

Secondly…..I’ll echo Fraser’s words on the Sparks documentary.  I had prepared a review of it, having gone along to see it on 30 July when it was followed by a Q&A with the Brothers Mael, hosted by Pete Paphides, but I pulled it when I saw that Fraser had opened up his piece with a reference to it.  If it is still playing in a cinema near you, then I’d recommend you get yourself along.

Thirdly…the incident at the Glasgow Apollo mentioned by Fraser was quite rare, for the simple fact that the stage there was at least 15 feet, which meant you couldn’t clamber up from the stalls and it would take a death-defying leap from the balcony to reach your idols….but it did, occasionally happen, most likely thanks to a combination of booze and speed making the bloke (and it was always a bloke) thinking he was Superman.

Fourthly….I couldn’t find a good or clear photo of any invasions at punk gigs, and the one use above is from the Specials playing in Brighton in 1979.  It’s maybe a bit more friendly and less confrontational than the punk invasions of the era, but it certainly captures the chaos.

Finally….Fraser didn’t offer up any music to go with his words, so I’ve picked out a few based on what he’s written:-

mp3: Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us
mp3: Boomtown Rats – Mary of The 4th Form
mp3: The Clash – White Riot

Again, huge thanks to you, Fraser. Keep ’em coming.