STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE

Some of you might know that I’m a keen golfer…some of you who did not know that will probably make a mental note not to come back to the blog ever again!

I should explain that in Scotland, unlike many other countries, golf is a sport whcih isn’t the exclusive preserve of the rich, wealthy or upper-classes. Indeed there’s long been a tradition stretching back hundreds of years of everyday folk, particularly in towns and villages around the coasts, taking up golf as a way of making a living, either as a player or caddy.

I’ve played the game most of my life, encouraged to do so by my dad who played for the sheer enjoyment of it over courses built and operated by councils in Glasgow and neighbouring towns. It was only in his 40s that he finally joined a club and even then it was one which was predominantly made-up of members who worked in the coal or steel industries. There’s many wrong perceptions out there about the wonderful game although I’m the first to admit that it’s still far too elite a pastime in many places.

Today marks the beginning of the first of the four major tournaments for professionals with the Masters tournament from Augusta, Georgia. It’s also the time of year when I try to get back into playing as I tend not to bother over the winter months, and my regular partner is a mate called Douglas Mackie who also is something of a fan of some of the music which features within this little corner of the internet. I was pleasantly surprised when Douglas told me that he’s downloaded all the various mixtapes over the years so that he can listen to them while driving his car every day. I thought it would be a nice gesture to mark the start of the new golf season by compiling a new mix with the sort of sounds I know he most enjoys :-

Various – Mackie’s Masterful Musical Moments

Tracklist

Boys Keep Swinging – David Bowie
Going Missing – Maximo Park
What Presence?! – Orange Juice
I Could Be In Heaven – The Flatmates
Therese – The Bodines
You’re Just Crying For Yourself – Butcher Boy
Waking Up – Elastica
Love Plus One – Haircut 100
For Tomorrow – Blur
My Friend In The Comfortable Chair – Cats On Fire
Johnny Delusional – FFS
Who Do You Think You Are? – Saint Etienne
Bye Bye Pride – The Go-Betweens
Radiation Vibe – Fountains of Wayne
Dance Me In – Sons & Daughters
Orange Crush – R.E.M.
Hymn From A Village – James
Rachel – The Wedding Present

It lasts just a few seconds under the hour…..should work well on his daily commute.

JC

30, 20, 10 (Part 12)

It’s all gone a bit dancey the past couple of months, which hasn’t proved to be detrimental to the continuity of the series looking back at the songs which were #1 in the indie charts this time of year in 88,98 and 08.

Have any major labels exploited the loopholes around distribution and cheated their way to the top at the expense of the genuinely small operations?

1 April 1988 : mp3 : Erasure – Ship of Fools

It’s on Mute Records so I’ve no issue with it being a genuine qualifier.  Acts such as Erasure and Depeche Mode brough big money into the label which allowed Daniel Miller to release all sorts of low-selling singles and albums by all sorts of acts, including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds whose rise to fame was still a few years off.

Can’t say I remember much about this 45, so have turned to wiki:-

The song was issued as the lead single from Erasure’s third album The Innocents  but not as a single in the United States.

“Ship of Fools” marked Erasure’s first release without record producer Flood. Known for creating slick, pop-oriented production style, Stephen Hague took over producing duties for The Innocents album. “Ship of Fools” and its B-side, “When I Needed You”, were both written by Vince Clarke and Andy Bell.

Upon its release, “Ship of Fools” hit number six in the UK singles chart, becoming the group’s third consecutive Top 10 single (and fourth overall).

1 April 1998 : Run D.M.C vs Jason Nevins – It’s Like That

The original dates back to 1983 and was a minor hit in the USA but not in many other places.  Fast forward 14 years and it gets the remix treatment by house DJ Jason Nevins.  Again, nothing much happened and it wasn’t until its release in the UK in February 1998, in response to the import getting a great response in clubs, that it took off in great style.  Not only did it spend six weeks at the top of the indie chart, it did the same on the ‘proper’ chart and went on to be the third best-selling single of the year.

It was on Smile Communications which itself was a sub-label of Profile Records which itself was owned by Sony.  It was only through such a connection that it proved possible to get enough copies of the single into the shops to meet demand – it wasn’t just the UK who went nuts for it as it went Top 3 in most European countries and in Australia and New Zealand with estimated sales of 5m worldwide in 97/98.

1 April 2008 : mp3 : This Is Seb Clarke – Rock n Roll Alamo pt 7

I had no idea who this was. Here’s wiki:-

This Is Seb Clarke or (TISC) are a 12-piece soul-punk ensemble from Stoke-On-Trent, North Staffordshire. Their line-up plays Hammond organ, piano, bass, drums, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and has a brass section. The group are named after their frontman and principal songwriter, Sebastian Clarke.

Playing soulful ballads with an acoustic guitar and blues harp. A tour of acoustic tents at numerous festivals culminated in a performance at T in the Park in 2004. Later that year, the line-up expanded to incorporate a bass player and drummer, but this trio rapidly grew into the twelve-piece.

This Is Seb Clarke’s debut album, Rover was released in 2005. “Spring Morning Sunshine” reached #12 in the UK Indie Chart in 2006. The follow-up single, “I Just Can’t Carry On”, from their second album, Vox, entered the indie chart at #7. Their third single “Rock ‘n’ Roll Alamo – pt 7” reached #1 on the same chart.

I’m guessing they broke up not too long afterwards as there’s next to nothing on t’internet beyond this. On the basis of this 45, they don’t impress me much.

JC

 

AN INTRODUCTION TO AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM

A GUEST POSTING by TIM BADGER

Quite a while ago, my blogging buddy SWC and I went to the cricket, and as usual we decided to do one of our ‘Mucking Around ICAs’ each, when the 11th song came on the iPod. My 11th song was The Cure (SWC’s was Blur by the way and he has so far refused to write it). So I contacted JC and said I would write him an ICA on The Cure. Then I went to Australia so it got parked.

Last week I decided to write it. However I started this story as an introduction and realised that it was quite a long story in its own right, so I decided to send this in on its own and the ICA could follow.

A very very long time ago, I had a jumper. It was old, battered, baggy and black. It was an almost exact replica of a jumper that Bob Smith from The Cure wore. I loved that jumper. Girls loved that jumper. I am not ashamed to say that I called that jumper ‘Bob’, after the aforementioned lipstick smudged singer from The Cure.

One night I went to a pub in Leeds called Churchills, it was a big pub frequented by the alternative crowd, largely because around ten pm the upstairs part of the bar would be transformed into a nightclub and an indie disco would take place and occasionally a band would turn up and play. I would wear Bob over the top of a band TShirt alongside a pair of black drainpipes and a pair of Doc Martens and try and look cool in the corner. I would then wait for the DJ to play The Cure or the Pixies or New Order or if I was feeling daring Ministry and then I would launch myself on to the dancefloor, Bob’s sleeves causally pulled down over my hands in order to give myself a bit more mystique.

I used to have a great time at Churchills, it was one of the few places left in the city that served snakebite and black, a legendary if not slightly lethal drink adored by the alternative and big haired crowd. Basically cider, lager and blackcurrant – which gave it a purpleish hue, Goths loved it obviously. Now that night in question I drunk a little bit too much snakebite and black (let’s be honest two pints was enough for anyone – if the ridiculously strong cider didn’t get you the sickly sweet Ribena substitute would). I knew I was drunk because I danced to a New Model Army track and no one danced to New Model Army and still expected to be considered cool at the end of the night. About two am I left Churchills, I’d like to say I left on the arm of a beautiful girl called Angela (who as it happens was a dead ringer for the singer from The Cranes but this being 1990 she didn’t know that yet), but I know I left alone but manage to share a cab home with a bloke called Gavin – I know this because he vomited on the pavement outside my house and the stain was there for about a month afterwards.

I woke up in the morning and felt like death. My head pounded, I was all shaky and clammy, about midday I started to feel a bit more human and I realised that I was cold, so I turned to my go to warmth (I was a student, heating was too expensive) – Bob – I mean it would have stunk of cigarettes (back in the days when you could smoke in a pub) but it kept me warm. So I went to the chair in my bedroom where clothes would have been slung last night.

Bob wasn’t there.

I had a vague recollection of taking Bob off when dancing to The Stone Roses. I’d popped it in the corner where I was sitting, just by where the lovely Angela normally sat with her mate Gemma. Oh God, Bob.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Man up Badger it’s only a jumper”, and you are right, but that jumper was unique, sort of. Well ok, it wasn’t, it cost me a £2 from a charity shop, but I loved it, apart from my copy of ‘Substance’ on double vinyl, it was probably my favourite thing in the entire world – it was certainly the warmest thing I owned.

I sort of hoped the lovely Angela had taken it home with her and next week (After she’d finished cuddling it for a week) she would come up to me and smile her sweet smile and hand me the jumper and take me by the hand and we would walk into the moonlight, bangles jangling – but in reality I knew that I had left it on the long seat thing in the corner.

So ladies and gentlemen, I got the bus back to town. I sat there sulkily (still hungover) with my Walkmen attached to my ears. I think for some inexplicable reason I had ‘Babble’ by annoying Derry punk popsters That Petrol Emotion on the stereo, this didn’t improve my mood.

I got to Churchills around 2pm. It was open, thankfully, but the upstairs bit wasn’t. So I meekly asked the nice lady behind the bar if she could check if my jumper was up there, in the corner by the long seat, she reluctantly agreed. So I sat there at the bar for what seemed like a decade, cradling a lemonade, the sugar helped quite a lot to be honest, and then she returned.

She was holding Bob and I could have hugged her.

She handed Bob to me and then she said “Me Grandads got one just like that” and crushed what was left of my cool. I mumbled a ‘Thanks’ and walked out of the pub. I got roughly twenty foot around the corner before I stopped and popped Bob over my head.

Five minutes later, as I approached the bus stop, I saw a familiar face, the lovely Angela, sat forlornly at the bus stop, looking bored.

“Hi” I said. Slyly pulling the sleeves of Bob over my hands.

She definitely smiled……

The Upstairs Room – The Cure

Gigantic – The Pixies

Everything’s Gone Green – New Order

Big Decision – That Petrol Emotion

TIM BADGER

A DIFFERENT KIND OF ICA….

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT

(Our Swedish Correspondent)

Under The Covers – Other People Singing Other People’s Songs v2.0

As a cousin to the ICA’s this is not an ICA per say, it’s rather an ICA (Imaginary Covers Album) as a follow up to the 1988 release containing some stellar tracks by great 80’s artists like The Associates, Pretenders, EbtG, Aztec Camera and Echo & the Bunnymen. OK, not all tracks were great, but it’s still a great covers album.

When two of the albums that made it to the top 5 of my 2017 list both included a cover of an 80’s song I got this idea of making an imaginary version 2 of this album. When Talking Heads then showed up in JC’s ICA world cup with a song I happen to love a cover version of, it kind of decided itself.

I applied a few rules, somewhat related to JC’s ICA rules – so 10 tracks, the cover version should be decently new (which in the end became it had to be a 21st century release) and the original should be by an artist active in or related to the 80’s. A performing artist can only be represented once, but multiple songs by the same original artist are allowed.

Side A.

1. Bat For Lashes – Strangelove. Bat For Lashes is a very interesting artist in her own right with 4 great albums so far. This cover was recorded for inclusion in a 2011 Gucci commercial.

2. Dum Dum Girls – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. Final track on the 2011 He Gets Me High EP by Dee Dee Penny under her Dum Dum Girls moniker. Not revolutionary different to the original. Dee Dee has released a bunch of great albums in this indie style, at times she reminds me a lot of Chrissie Hynde/The Pretenders. Her latest release was under a new moniker – Kristin Kontrol, using more electronics. Also a great album.

3. Kaleida – 99 Luftballons. London duo Kaleida released their debut album last year, and one of the tracks that got the ball rolling for this album. I can’t stand the original by Nena, never could and never will – but this version is cracking – and in impeccable German. Kaleida’s album made it high on my 2017 top list, electronic beauty you should give a listen.

4. Glenn Gregory – Party Fears Two. Included on the volume 3 of Music of Quality and Distinction by B.E.F (released 2013) and nowadays a regular inclusion on Heaven 17‘s live sets. A beautiful homage to the late Billy MacKenzie.

5. Bryan Ferry – Johnny & Mary. Originally by Robert Palmer on his 1980 Clues album, on what must have been the transition from blues rocker Palmer to (synth)pop Palmer. The album is a schizophrenic mix of traditional blues rock numbers and synth-based pop songs, even including a cover of I Dream of Wires. Transferred by Mr Definition of Cool to a true Ferry style song on his 2014 Avonmore album. Great version if you ask me, but then I always have had a weak spot for Ferry’s lounge cool style.

Side B.

1. Fuzz Against Junk – Born Under Punches. So I kick off side B with a rule breaker, this was actually released 1999 – and thus does not comply to my rules. But then those are only my rules, and mine to break…Since early 90’s I was a lot into house and dance music, one of the cooler labels was London based Nuphonic and most of all brother duo Faze Action (debut album Plans & Designs is still marvelous!). Nuphonic released 4 albums in a series showcasing their acts and on volume 1 I was knocked over by the track Country Clonk by Fuzz Against Junk. They only released a total of 4 12″ singles, the second being a very danceable version of the Talking Heads song.

2. HANA – Here Comes The Rain Again (live). I found LA based HANA by chance as she opened up for Purity Ring when I saw them on their 2015 US tour. She did this great update to one of my fave Eurythmics songs (a song also covered by Billy MacKenzie by the way). I later saw her in Stockholm opening up for Grimes, she did this again – but unfortunately didn’t include it on her debut EP. An album is due at some point this year, I hope it will appear then – for now we have to do with a live recording from her 2016 tour.

3. She & Him – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. From the 500 Days of Summer movie soundtrack by charming She & Him – the combination of M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel just couldn’t go wrong, could it. A movie I truly enjoyed, funny, sweet and loads of great music.

4. Lydia Ainsworth – Wicked Game. From this Canadian singer’s 2nd album, and one of 2017 absolutely best albums, Darling Of The Afterglow. This cover of the Chris Isaak original is truly amazing, every time I play the record I have to put the needle (yes, I’m a vinylist) back and play it again at least 2 – 3 times. Gives me the chill, the original is great and Lydia managed to add something more to the song.

5.  Johnny Cash – Hurt. So I end side B in the same way I started it – with a rule breaker. The original isn’t from the 80’s, the band just made their (his) debut in ’89, so the 80’s connection can be questioned. You might also argue that the 80’s wasn’t really the most successful or even active decade for the man in black, but I claim he was always relevant in some sense – and this cover from his 2002 American Recordings IV happens to be one of the most heartbreaking recordings ever made. The video to it is simple but so strong, a fantastic companion to the recording. I can’t imagine a stronger closer to this record, as the needle reaches the runout groove and Johnny closes the lid to his piano nothing remains, it’s all said and done.

MARTIN

PLEASE HELP ME OUT EVERYONE

It’s my young brother’s 52nd Birthday today. But I forgot, in the midst of a period in which last week was bookended by two funerals, to send over a greetings card to Florida. I know he drops in here every single day to have a look at whatever rubbish I’ve posted and to be impressed by the guest postings, and so I’d be very grateful if you would consider passing on your best wishes to SC in the comments section.  It’ll make me feel less guilty.

mp3 : Various – SC’s 52nd Birthday Card

Tracklist

Echo & The Bunnymen – Bring on the Dancing Horses
The Bluebells – Young At Heart
Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Lost Weekend (extended version)
Madness – One Step Beyond
Yazoo – Don’t Go
Deacon Blue – Real Gone Kid
Japan – I Second That Emotion (extended version)
Simple Minds – Changeling
Orange Juice – I Can’t Help Myself (12″)
Mari Wilson – Just What I Always Wanted
Fun Boy Three – Our Lips Are Sealed
R.E.M – It’s The End Of The World……
The Teardrop Explodes – Passionate Friend
Love and Money – Strange Kind of Love
U2 – Desire
Beats International – Dub Be Good To Me

(the final song was faded out to keep things down to 60 minutes)

I do thank you.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #151 : FACTORY RECORDS

As mentioned in the day before yesterday’s posting on The Railway Children, I’d forgotten the fact that they were, for a short time, on Factory Records. In finishing off the post and referring to a possible ICA from any fans of the band out there, it hit me that a label-based ICA could be a good idea, and indeed would be open to a number of volumes from guests.

In going about the task, I decided that the rules would have to be no Joy Division/New Order/Electronic/Happy Mondays or singles that were well-known hits back in the day. I also decided that there shouldn’t be more than one song by a particular singer or band. So with all that in mind, here’s my stab at a Factory Records ICA:-

SIDE A

1. Section 25 – Looking From A Hilltop (Restructure) (FAC 108)

Section 25, consisting of brothers Larry and Vincent Cassidy, signed to Factory in 1981. They didn’t, initially, seem to have anything that made them really stand out from the crowd and seemed to fit in with the doom & gloom raincoat wearing brigade that were so attracted to the label (Incidentally, I include myself in that put-down).

In 1984 they underwent a seismic transformation for their third album From The Hip. They added Jenny Ross (who was in fact Mrs Larry Cassidy) on vocals and keyboards and, with the help of Bernard Sumner in the producer’s chair, moved to a more pop/electro sound. One of the LPs most enduring tracks was Life From A Hilltop which was, in due course given a bit of a remix and released as a single which subsequently turned into a much deserved underground club hit. Still sounds great all these years later.

2. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity (FAC 6)

The first single by OMD and less polished that the later re-recorded and better-known versions for DinDisc.

The story goes that following a successful debut gig at Eric’s in Liverpool, at which they supported Joy Division, the duo sent off a tape of their demo to Tony Wilson in the hope of having it released on Factory. The boss wasn’t that keen on it, but his wife, Lindsay Reade, thought Electricity sounded good and so he decided to release it on a one-off basis with it becoming just the third piece of vinyl to be issued by the label, with 5,000 copies pressed up. It received a fair bit of critical praise and although it didn’t chart, set the duo up for a multi-album deal and the initial steps along the road to fame and fortune. How different might have the Factory story turned out if OMD had been offered and signed a long-term deal with the label…..

3. Cath Carrol – England Made Me (album track from FACT 210)

Cath Carrol had long been part of the wider Manchester scene before ending up on Factory Records. Her career in music began in 1979 as one of the mainstays behind the fanzine City Fun, while at the same time she was part of the band Glass Animals. She was initially more successful as a writer, ending up on the staff of NME, although her mid-80s band Miaow did enjoy a bit of success on the indie-circuit.

There were a number of years and different locations utilised for the solo album England Made Me and the expense involved is often cited as one of the factors behind the financial demise of Factory Records. Whatever hopes everyone had were never realised and despite a reasonably warm critical response to the bossa nova/dance sound that dominated the LP, it bombed in the shops. I’m not arguing that any this track is among the label’s finest moments, but it does fits well on this particular ICA at this point.

4. Revenge – I’m Not Your Slave (FAC 279)

Revenge was the name that Peter Hook took for his band when he issued his solo material in the wake of the decision by Bernard Sumner to put New Order to the side. A much-derided project at the time, particularly in comparison to what Sumner was achieving with Electronic, much of the material hasn’t aged all that well, although I remain fond of this particular single.

5. Stockholm Monsters – National Pastime (FAC 107)

Finishing this side off with the b-side to a single. Stockholm Monsters weren’t, it seems to me, taken that seriously by anyone outside of Factory – the fact they had a stupid name for a band didn’t help matters; still, it could be worse, they could have called themselves Crispy Ambulance.

This was actually a late addition to the ICA…it’s a song I’ve known since its 1984 release as it was played a lot by one of my flatmates who declared it a bonafide classic.  He even managed to persuade the student union DJ to air it a few times on the ‘alternative disco’ Thursday nights.  I’ve never owned a copy of the single and it is an expensive one on the second hand market, but a couple of week back Swiss Adam featured it over in the Bagging Area and I nicked it from there when he wasn’t looking!  Feels right to let him say a few words…

Opening with clattering drums and a low slung bass, then a beautifully naive topline and a wonderful non-singer’s vocal. Produced by Peter Hook and lost by a record company who wouldn’t pay for pluggers and promotion because they believed the music would sell itself. If this was the only song they’d released, they’d still more than deserve a place in a version of mid-80s indie scene. A little slice of perfection.

Indeed.

SIDE B

1. Durutti Column – Requiem For A Father (album track from FACT 14)

This ICA just has to include Durutti Column, an act every bit as important to the Factory story as any other . It was, of course, for the most part a solo project for Vini Reilly whose approach to writing and recording has always been idiosyncratic and, consequently, a tad on the inconsistent side.

I’m not his biggest fan and don’t actually have that much in the collection, relying on the recommendations from other blogs as well as this guest ICA to broaden my horizons. I’ve gone back to the debut album, The Return of the Durutti Column, released in 1980 and which was a genuine band effort featuring Pete Crooks on bass and Toby Toman on drums. It is a track reminiscent in places of Young Marble Giants.

2. A Certain Ratio – Do The Du (Peel Session) (from FACT 16)

Another band that has been the subject of an ICA – and more than once thanks to Echorich and Swiss Adam, two of the finest and most knowledgable writers out there. Click here and here for reminders. A Certain Ratio were an act that I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to back in the day, something which I now regret as I’ve come to realise, with the benefit of hindsight, that I missed out on something very decent.

Do The Du was the opening song on Side A of The Graveyard and The Ballroom, their first release on Factory in February 1980. It was a cassette release with Side A – The Graveyard – being 7 recordings in a studio of that name and Side B – The Ballroom – being 7 recordings live at the Electric Ballroom.

3. The Wake – Of The Matter (FAC 113)

As I said when I featured The Wake on this blog back in December 2014, they were a Scottish act whom I saw a few times back in the day as support to New Order. The Wake were the first band that Bobby Gillespie was part of, and although he had long departed by the time this single was released in 1985, it is one that has a twee-like sound not unlike early Primal Scream.

4. The Adventure Babies – Camper Van (FACD 319)

A single from 1991. It is followed in the Factory discography by FACT 320 which is the number given to Pills’n’Thrills and Bellyaches by Happy Mondays, the album that really launched them into the stratosphere.

The Adventure Babies turned out to be the final band ever signed by Factory before the label suffered the bankruptcy. This was the lead track from their debut EP, released in 1991, and it is as far removed from a ‘Factory-type’ song as can be imagined. I really liked it at when it was released and bought it on 12″ vinyl, but time hasn’t been that kind to it.

5. Steve and Gillian – Loved It (FACD 251)

This side opened with an instrumental and so I thought it would make sense to end it with something similar.

FACD 251 was a one-track CD pressed to commemorate the opening of the new Factory Headquarters in 1990. Loved It was recorded at the home studio of Steve Morris and Gillian Gilbert and the samples are from the Channel 4 ‘New Order Play At Home’ documentary. The track was later re-released in October 1993 on the album The Other Two And You which came out on London Records.

So there you have it. A real mixed-bag of things, rather like the label itself.  Hopefully, there’s something for everyone. Oh, and if any of the above stated info is wrong, it is entirely in keeping with the label’s philosophy of printing the myth rather than the truth….

JC

PS : FAC 51 was The Hacienda.  This is ICA 151 which closes with FACD 251.  FAC 151 was interesting.

JUST 60 MINUTES OF YOUR TIME IS ALL I’M ASKING….

It’s been a while since I put one of these together….I know that some of you quite like them and it does save me coming up with anything imaginative to write today.

mp3 : Various Artists – One side of an old C120 (Precisely)

Track Listing

If I Can’t Change Your Mind – Sugar
Brimful of Asha (Fatboy Slim remix) – Cornershop
Seether – Veruca Salt
Speed-Date – Arab Strap
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem
Sub-Culture – New Order
Tainted Love – Gloria Jones
Wrote For Luck – Happy Mondays
Slave To The Rhythm – Grace Jones
To Lose My Life – White Lies
Totally Wired – The Fall
Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
Love Plus One – Haircut 100
Ever Fallen In Love…? – Buzzcocks
Blue Boy – Orange Juice
Kennedy – The Wedding Present
Roi (reprise) – The Breeders