A COMPANION PIECE TO YESTERDAY’S POSTING

February 2019 was something of a poignant month. Comrade Colin wrote brilliantly and eloquently about the death, at the age of 64, of Mark Hollis. I’d like to now say a few words about Peter Tork and Beatrice Colin, both of whom also left us last month.

Peter Tork was one-quarter of The Monkees, a band without whom I’d unlikely have developed such an affection for great, guitar-based pop music. The TV show seemed to be on BBC1 during the children’s hour all the time in the 70s, a show which I would get to watch just after getting home from school and before my mum would get in from her long shift in the factory to make us something to eat. The Monkees were, to my young mind, a magical and fun group of people to be around. It made for great TV with what seemed to be a perfect blend of slapstick comedy and drama, soundtracked by songs which, by the third or fourth time you’d heard them, were embedded in your brain, but in a very good way. Of course I had no idea that so much of it was manufactured and that the songs were the work of others who weren’t ever going to appear on-screen but to be honest, that didn’t matter and I wouldn’t have cared in any event. I just wanted my four heroes to come good and play us out with a great song…which they always did.

I’d be a liar if I said Peter was my favourite Monkee….that honour was bestowed on Micky Dolenz as he made me laugh more than the others and the songs he sang on seemed to be the best. But I loved watching all four of them, and the news of Peter’s death made me recall happy memories of very olden days while providing a sad reminder that I’m now constantly losing people who in some shape or form shaped me, directly or indirectly, into who and what I am today.

mp3 : The Monkees – (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone

Beatrice Colin didn’t have anything like the impact on the music scene as Peter Tork – indeed very few people will actually associate her with the genre. Readers of old, however, will know that she was one half of the very short-live band April Showers who emerged out of Glasgow in 1984 – the other half was David Bernstein. (co-author of a very fine book which was reviewed back in 2014)

There was just the one single, but it was absolutely glorious and one of my favourites from the era:-

mp3 : April Showers – Abandon Ship

Beatrice was ages with me and I happened to be in her company a couple of times, but only as part of a larger social group in a city centre pub. She was the girlfriend of James Grant who, by complete coincidence, was featured on the blog just last Saturday.

She seemed a lovely, down-to-earth person and not the slightest bit big-headed or boastful about the fact she had made a pop record (which to me, at the time) was the be-all and end-all.

But pop music was not be her forte and while she remained on its fringes as a backing vocalist in studios and on stage – including stints with Love and Money – (and as I’ve since learned with a band of her own called Pale Fire, she began to carve out a career in journalism and writing, initially penning reviews and features for newspapers and magazines. Such was her talent for writing that, by her mid-30s, she was a published novelist and playwright. In later years, she would expand her horizons even further with a move into academia as a lecturer in Creative Writing. Her tragically young death at the age of 55, came after a long battle against ovarian cancer and has left a significant hole in the cultural life of my home city.

Thoughts are with her husband, children and close friends who will be missing her so much.

JC

A hastily added PS….

The above words were pulled together a few days in advance of the very sad news of the passing of Keith Flint.

There will be many tributes across the internet today on top of those which appeared throughout yesterday.  I’ll simply take a few words from a Facebook posting by a London-based friend of mine, the comedian Steve McLean:-

You know what I really loved about The Prodigy?

Almost everybody liked them. 

Back when people had very firm music camps that they stayed in, everyone would be enticed out with The Prodigy.  You were as likely to hear them played at The Underworld as you were at The Ministry.  Even before their heavier guitar sampling tunes too, everyone loved Charly and Out of Space – The Prodigy let you dance with all your mates regardless of your snobbery.

Later in their career they headlined both Download and Creamfields. Has there ever been another band that could do that?

RIP Keith Flint.

53 AND COUNTING…..

It’s become something of a tradition to use the 19 February posting to wish my wee brother, SC, a happy birthday.  This year, I’ll give him a New Romantics EP to remind him of the time when, as a teenager, he went about dressed a wee bit silly.  Only wish I had a photo from that era to share with you…..

mp3 : Duran Duran – Planet Earth
mp3 : Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This
mp3 : Visage – Fade To Grey
mp3 : Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short

Incidentally, there was a song intended for this post but which I’ve pulled so that it can feature on its own tomorrow.

JC

PS : The lady holding SC is our mum, who herself turned 80 just a couple of weeks back.  And who can hold her drink and party harder than either of us!

NOT HAD ONE OF THESE FOR A WHILE….

mp3 : Various – The Fourteen of February

aka Songs of Love from me to you

Track Listing

There’s A Girl In The Corner – Robert Smith
I/m Not Here – The Twilight Sad
Thieves Like Us – New Order
Party In The Dark – Mogwai
Alex Discord – Port Sulphur
Trees and Flowers – Strawberry Switchblade
F.U.U. – Dream Wife (feat. Fever Dream)
Lazy Day (version) – The Boo Radleys
Eject (over zealous mix) – Senser
The Rubettes – The Auteurs
Sparky’s Dream – Teenage Fanclub
Jack In Titanic – Bodega
Emotional Haircut – LCD Soundsystem
Fresher Than the Sweetness in Water – Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

Oh and there’s also a hidden track at the very end to take it all way up to 59:59.

Sets things up for something of a crazy weekend….young brother is flying over from Florida for a four-day stay (and isn’t he in for a massive shock to his system with the near 30 degree Centigrade drop in temperature), as we have a family bash to celebrate mum’s 80th birthday.  I’ve also got the Rovers on Saturday where I’ll be playing the pre-match tunes and talking gibberish in between catching up with a mate who is coming up from England to watch it.

Happy Listening

JC

ROUNDING UP 2018 : FROM OUR SWEDISH CORRESPONDENT

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOTT

Hi Jim,

Happy New Year and all the best for 2019!

I thought, why not round off 2018 with another Swedish EP for TVV?… It was another great year for new music to surface – also in Sweden. For accessibility I’ll stay, piu o meno, with tracks sung in English although it was a great year for music in Swedish. And I decided not to include Robyn as I assume most of you have had issues avoiding her return – the 2 singles released so far are in my opinion the two best tracks anyway so I won’t bore you with any of those here.

11 pm side

1. Henric De La Cour – Kowalski Was Here.

Former front figure of Swedish indie rockers Yvonne has gone all (goth)synth and on Gimme Daggers, his third solo album, the pieces fell into place. I believe he has some of the early New Order records at home. Did I see arms in the air?

2. ionnalee – Not Human.

Brought up in my home town she started out as indie rocker Jonna Lee, transmorphed into electronic audiovisual artist iamamiwhoami and in 2018 she moved into electronic (dance) artist ionnalee, releasing the magnificent album Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten. Excellent live as well. She’s potentially the secret child of Kate Bush and Bernard Sumner.

3. Junior Brielle – Love.

A mix of Swedish and some English but I’m pretty sure this can take you all to the dance floor anyway!. Two brothers from the grim north, placing The Strokes‘ drummer in the lime light for 3 minutes. All that you ever want for your indie disco night: New Order synths, a steady beat, nice breaks, witty lyrics (the chorus goes You can always lie to yourself, but never lie to me) and some falsetto singing. Their first singles I disregarded as petty copies of now disbanded Swedish icons Kent, but second half of 2018 saw the release of a string of tracks taking that sound above and beyond their influence and into my heart.

4. Red Mecca – What Is Coming.

File under darkwave. Red Mecca is, or rather was, the duo of Jan Strandquist (formerly keyboards in 80’s post punk/new wave band Brända Barn (Burnt Children)) and young vocalist Frida Madeleine. Unfortunately Frida decided to leave after the excellent 2018 album I See Darkness In You for personal reasons. The mix of Jan’s long history in Swedish alternative music scene and Frida’s enchanting voice was a wonderful cocktail. The band continues with new vocalist Susanne and have released their first single after Frida’s departure. I have still to be truly convinced, we’ll see if they show up here in a year or not.

4 am side

1. Lykke Li – So Sad So Sexy.

She’s back four years after the monumental hit remix of No Rest For The Wicked featuring A$AP Rocky with a break-up album. So she’s become a mother and split up since last album, but she hasn’t lost her talent – just using it to get all her sorrow out of her system. Not angry, she understands how the world turns, but she needs to get history out of her mind.

2. Nina Kinert – Chapped Lips.

The album Romantic, 8 years after her PC war-game inspired last album, saw Nina Kinert churn out exactly what she said – a very romantic, ballad laden synth-pop album. And in my eyes the crown jewel is this wonderful duet with Future Island‘s Sam Herring. Some lyrical similarities with a Smiths track when you think about it.

3. Grant – Waterline.

Grant, after Cary Grant, is 25 year old Caroline who puts all of her bullied, torn and tormented youth into her debut album In Bloom. At times just a bit too much, but in Waterline she gets it all in the right places. The song about am in the end not committed suicide is very personal. I saw her performing this solo on a piano placed on a ramp just over the surface in the middle of a swimming pool in August – it was pure magic.

Bonus track:

Little Jinder – London Calling (live radio session).

Probably this will put some of you off, a lot…. I have to say London Calling is one of my all time fave tracks in its original version, so I was mildly said sceptical when I found this on YT. But as I do very much enjoy the teeny but intelligent pop Little Jinder does (only understandable for Swedish speaking) I gave it a listen, and she has actually been able to do something completely different of the song, turning it to her own. Give it a chance, live by the river.

In the same session she did a version of her own track Goldwing with a short but kind of nice homage to Joy Division. Also on YT.

Little Jinder – Goldwing

A fantastic 2019 to all of you, your faithful Swedish correspondent.

Martin

FROM THE ARCHIVES – 5 JANUARY 2008

HATS OFF TO THE BUSKERS

I don’t know if the ongoing slump in record/CD sales is being mirrored similarly in the circulation figures of music papers and magazines.

Nowadays I’ll only buy something if there’s the promise of a decent-length article on someone I particularly admire. Failing that, I’ll grab a hold of a magazine or two to take away on holiday just in case there turns out to be a hellishly long flight delay and the battery on the i-pod decides to give up the good fight.

Every now and again I will hand over a few pounds if the CD that’s attached to the cover is of any interest. I rarely give a second glance to a CD that is a round-up of tracks from recent LP releases, but I’ll admit to being a sucker when a special effort is made to produce a tribute CD. I did the other month with an edition of Uncut which comes with Like A Hurricane – A Tribute to Neil Young.

I mention this as a rather rambling intro to what today’s songs are all about.

A few years ago, mid- 2003 to be precise, I actually bought two copies of a particular edition of Uncut, simply because they had two separate CDs entitled White Riot – A Tribute to The Clash, featuring a total of 32 singers and bands doing cover versions of the songs of Strummer/Jones (and Simonen and Headon).

Like most tribute albums, some of the offerings turned out to be half-decent, and one or two I would even go as far as to say are truly inspired. Others are just insipid, while others are plain weird.

Most annoying of all however, is the fact that a couple of them are what I would class as lazy – covers which note for note and beat for beat are far too similar to the original.

Some of the songs were taken from other tribute LPs or were a gathering together of b-sides or album tracks, while some turned out to be exclusive recordings previously unavailable before (or indeed since). And while I would never dream of claiming that any of them were superior to the original recordings, there’s some of them been given space on the above mentioned i-pod.

Things like these:-

mp3 : Edwyn Collins – 1977
mp3 : The National – Clampdown
mp3 : Josh Rouse – Straight To Hell
mp3 : Pete Wylie – Stay Free

Incidentally, the last of the above was recorded live at a tiny pub in Haddington, East Lothian at a gig that I’m sure a mate of mine was at. If you’re reading this Mr Greer, be sure to tell us all if that was indeed the case.

JC

FROM THE ARCHIVES – 4 JANUARY 2017

OVERDOSING ON COVER VERSIONS (8)

Is it really any wonder that all us adolescents fell for Siouxsie Sioux when she had been photographed ‘dressed’ like she is above

The finest moment in any of her records comes, and I use the word advisedly, at the 4:55 mark on the 12″ version of this marvellous single from 1982:-

mp3 : Siouxsie & The Banshees – Slowdive (12″ version)

A mate of mine once took that one second gasp and recorded it back to back something like 30 times in a row just so that he could imagine the punk/goth goddess was having an orgasm.

Twenty three years later, a very intriguing version of it, originally recorded for a radio session, was snuck out on a b-side:-

mp3 : LCD Soundsystem – Slowdive

As far as I know, the band Slowdive never made a cover of the song albeit they did record a song by that name as their first ever single back in 1990:-

mp3 : Slowdive – Slowdive

JC

FROM THE ARCHIVES – 27 DECEMBER 2016

OVERDOSING ON COVER VERSIONS (2)

All the greats eventually get the full-blooded cover version treatment with singers and bands queing up to pay tribute to those who greatly influenced them. The late Leonard Cohen has had his songs covered more than most, including various compilation LPs over the years which have been commercially released or given away free with music magazines. There’s even been specially curated gigs at which some of the great and good have appeared on stage to pay tribute.

So many tracks to choose from, but I’ve gone for one which, in its original recording, is not much more than a gravelled voice and some backing oohs and aahs over a toy synthesiser with its cheap drum pattern:-

mp3 : Leonard Cohen – Tower of Song

The opposite tack was taken by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds who, in a drink and drug fuelled frenzy one day in a studio, eventually cut what became an infamous 33 minute version of the track in which all sorts of musical genres are eventually thrown in. It’s not for the faint hearted:-

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tower of Song (full length)

An edited version was made available for inclusion of the tribute/compilation album I’m Your Fan, released in 1991:-

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Tower of Song (album version)

Here’s two more versions worth giving a listen:-

mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Tower of Song
mp3 : Martha Wainwright – Tower of Song

And finally, the daddy of them all in which Lenny C is given the shoegaze treatment:-

mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain – Tower of Song

Outstanding.

JC