HOMAGE TO CATALONIA

mp3 : Scot & Sager – Barcelona

Fortunately, my own recent visit to the Catalan capital didn’t result in any similarly bad experiences to those suffered by the late Jock Scot, as recalled in the opening track on the 2006 CD, The Caledonian Blues, on which Gareth Sager made and played the music (minimally) while the grizzled old poet and punk veteran rants and raves to terrific effect.

In fact, my experiences in Barcelona in September 2019 couldn’t have been any happier.

Arriving on a Thursday morning, on a flight direct from Glasgow that was very much on time, myself and Rachel (aka Mrs Villain) rocked up at the hotel of choice to be informed that, as returning guests, we were being given an upgrade to a larger room which came with its own private terrace that proved to be a bit of a suntrap. The day was spent doing a bit of wandering around and re-aquainting ourselves with the city, and at night we returned to a tiny restaurant we had visited last year, delighted to find there was space to squeeze us in and that the food was every bit as exceptional and well-priced as before.

Friday saw the arrivals, from California, of Jonny the Friendly Lawyer (JTFL) and Goldie the Friendly Therapist, who were traveling to Spain for a 10-day city/beach holiday as part of an extended birthday celebration for the latter. I’d met Jonny before, both pre and post-gig when his band The Ponderosa Aces had played in Manchester in 2017, but this was a new experience for Mrs V while neither of us knew what to expect from Goldie. We spent the whole evening and all of the Saturday with our American friends – when we weren’t on the move or sightseeing, we were sitting drinking/eating in some very fine establishments, during which we talked endlessly about so many different things, but particularly love, life, work, music and achievements (but not in any boastful way!). The stay was topped-off with all four of us going to the Barcelona v Valencia football match on the Saturday evening, after which there were farewell drinks and promises made to hook up again soon, either in Scotland or California.

It was yet another example of how an incredible and strong bond has emerged as a result of this blogging nonsense. Jonny was the one who, years ago, came up with the JTFL as his moniker when he decided he wanted to leave comments on the blog. Friendly doesn’t come close to describing the man, for he is turns charming, articulate, generous, intelligent and witty among many other things. Above all else, he is completely down-to-earth and as easy-going as anyone I’ve ever met, about as far removed from any stereotype you would apply to someone of his chosen profession, especially one whose main professional activities centre around the cesspit of Los Angeles and whose upbringing was in New York.

It was an absolute joy to find that Goldie is as every bit as friendly as her partner/husband of some 30 years and the four of us couldn’t have gotten along any better over the entire time. It was inevitable that myself and JTFL would end up yakking for ages about our love for music and the things we know we have in common, but it was incredible to find that Rachel and Goldie share many common interests to the extent that they could have been sisters separated at birth.

Goldie, like her husband, is an incredible conversationalist, no matter the subject matter, but it was particularly enjoyable to listen to stories and incidents from throughout their lives, of how they came to be together and of how they encouraged one another to be a success in their chosen fields. They talked with real pride of their two kids – Sam and Jane – both of whom have been encouraged to make the most of the artistic/creative talents they have inherited through the genes. In return, our American friends wanted to hear about our family members and friends and to flesh out some of the stories mentioned over the years on TVV, particularly concerning the blogging fraternity whom I know or have met, which meant that a great deal was said about the Glasgow gathering of a few years back and the Simply Thrilled nights.

I think I’ve persuaded JTFL to share some more of his life stories via some future guest postings – you just can’t say that you were seated next to Shirley Manson at dinner and not tell the TVV readership how that came about.

mp3 : Garbage – Push It

Here’s to the next time. Quite probably over to a part of the world that has so beguiled David Gedge:-

mp3 : The Wedding Present – California
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Santa Monica
mp3 : The Wedding Present – Spider-Man on Hollywood

JC

AN OLD POST IN WHICH I TOOK THE PISS

KLASSIC KUTS : As seen over the old blog on 4 April 2010

It’s a small wonder that so many of the really special bands to emerge out of the shadows in the first decade of the 21st Century have names that begin with the letter ‘K’ .

Especially so, when you consider that other than perhaps The Kinks and Kraftwerk, it is a letter that hasn’t contributed much in terms of musical heritage over the past 40 years (and no, I don’t include Kiss as being one of the great bands of all time).

But look around you now.

Keane. Kaiser Chiefs. The Killers. Kasabian. Kings Of Leon.

A real nap hand of the ideal line-up at any summer festival. The only problem would be deciding who should top the bill…..

And just look at the great connection there is with football.

Keane – named after a truly sensational player
Kaiser Chiefs – named after a famous team
Kasabian – chosen to be the band to launch the new England away strip

And I suppose stretching a little bit, I can offer:-

The Killers – named after a cult English footballer?
Kings of Leon – named after a succesful Mexican side?

Some of you might sneer, but I don’t think we will appreciate just how incredibly rich the musical scene is today until at least 10 or 15 years down the line. After all, it’s not all that long ago since the 80s were re-assessed after many years of being singled out as possibly the most insipid and vacuous decade, and now many of us, particularly readers of JC’s very fine blog, look back and realise that it was an era of great music. And I reckon history will be kind to the noughties, thanks in large part to the special K’s.

It was back in 2004 that Keane took the pop world by storm. The songs on the compelling and amazing debut Hopes and Fears showed that you don’t need loud guitars or quirky synths to record memorable tunes. Not only were they an overnight commercial success, but the critical acclaim through two BRIT Awards and being given the #1 slot in the Best Albums of 2004 by the hugely influential Q Magazine showed just how welcome this new sound was amidst too many dull and samey indie guitar bands.

mp3 : Keane – Somewhere Only We Know

Twelve months later, it was the turn of the a fabulous five-piece from Leeds to take the nation by storm with their infectious hooks, chant-along choruses and hugely energetic live shows. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that the first two singles released by Kaiser Chiefs didn’t set the charts alight, but thanks to sheer hard graft that involved constant touring, they soon got the fan base they richly deserved. Not only did debut LP Employment sell over 1.5 million copies, but the early singles got the reward denied them early on when re-released versions went Top 10.

mp3 : Kaiser Chiefs – Oh My God

The Killers are a band that really defy definition. The indie kids love them. The rock fans adore them. The teenyboppers think the singer is sexy. And yet, it took quite a while before I believed there was more to them than just a 21st century tribute band to latter-day New Order. The early singles took the charts by storm – Somebody Told Me and Mr Brightside were never off the radio and are probably the songs most folk associate with the band. But it was the band’s third single that really showed the depth of talent that they possess – the ability to write and record grown-up anthemic love songs that would become the blueprint of Sam’s Town and Day & Age, their subsequent albums in 2006 and 2008 both of which should be in every serious muso’s collection:-

mp3 : The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done

And just like the band mentioned above, Kasabian are another act who have gotten truly great with each successive release. The songs from the self-titled debut LP in 2004 were nothing truly special – they felt like a just another middling indie-band with a hint of dance-floor beats that had listened to loads of Stone Roses records when they were younger. But the release of Empire, both the single and the album, in 2006 was one of the true highlights of the noughties. Overcoming the loss of one of their key members due to ‘artistic and creative differences’, the band released a true epic that will surely always find a spot high up in the critics polls of the greatest albums of all time. The single went Top 10 on downloads alone…and the album went to #1 in the UK as well as Top Ten in Japan.

mp3 : Kasabian – Empire

Now I know I said earlier that it would be difficult to decide who would headline any Special K festival, but I reckon the common consensus would be the Followill boys from Nashville, Tennessee.

All of their earlier releases – Youth and Young Manhood (2003), Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004) and Because Of The Times (2007) are tremendous LPs that perfectly blend indie, blues and rock in a way that no other band has ever managed to do. And there was no better live act doing the rounds in that five year period. But this was merely the prelude to the masterpiece that was Only By The Night, released in September 2008.

Lead single Sex On Fire is probably the most recognisable rock track released since Smells Like Teen Spirit back in the early 90s. Look at the facts. It is the second-most downloaded digital single ever in the UK. In an era when 100,000 copies of a single is regraded as a good result, Sex On Fire had recorded 747,713 sales exactly 12 months after its release. It spent 42 successive weeks in the UK Top 75, only dropping out when a glut of Michael Jackson singles stormed the charts in the wake of his death. But two weeks later, Sex On Fire returned to the Top 75.

As of 28 March 2010, it has now spent 79 weeks on the Top 75, making it the 3rd longest runner of all time and the longest for a #1 single, and 81 weeks in the Top 100. Some 18 months after it was first released, it is still at #68 on the charts and it has now sold over 930,000 copies. Truly mind-blowing.

The thing is…..just about every other track on the LP is equally as good. So it is no surprise that the record-buying public the world over have taken Only By The Night to their hearts, with around 6.5 million sales.

mp3 : Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody

It really would be a magical day if the various promoters could pool their resources and get all five of these bands on the one bill – but there’s no way just a single day would meet the demand for tickets.

And of course, the venue would have to be the legendary Knebworth………

The Ghost Of Troubled Joe, Sunday 4 April 2010

JC adds……you know this blog is in trouble when I’m reduced to reviving such nonsense that originally involved me using a pseudonym.  But it is Friday the 13th….and I am currently on holiday!

THE CLASS OF 79

An hour-long themed mixtape….and if I had a magic time-machine, it’s what I’d have played if I could have DJ’d at Mrs Villain’s 21st Birthday party, which would have been 40 years ago today……and a full decade before we first met!

mp3 : Various – The Class of ’79 (volume 1)

Tracklist

The Clash – I Fought The Law
Squeeze – Up The Junction
Blondie – Heart of Glass
The Specials – Gangsters
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
Joy Division – Transmission
The Jam – Strange Town
Wire – On Returning
The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket
David Bowie – Boys Keep Swinging
Gary Numan – Cars
OMD – Electricity
Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
The B52’s – Rock Lobster
Gang Of Four – Damaged Goods
Earth, Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland
XTC – Making Plans For Nigel
The Undertones – Get Over You

I’ve a feeling that further volumes will follow in due course, given that I’ve failed to include so many great songs from that particular year.

JC

I’M BEGGING OF YOU PLEASE……

Earlier this year, as part of my present to my mum to celebrate her turning 80 years of age, I took her to London to see ‘9 to 5 – The Musical’, a show based on the film of the same name and for which Dolly Parton had written a number of new songs. My mum thoroughly enjoyed the show, and it would be disingenuous if I tried to claim that I didn’t also have a good time.

It got me thinking as to when I first became aware of Dolly Parton and that would have been back in 1976 when Jolene, arguably probably her best-known song, reached the Top 10 in the UK singles charts. Quite incredibly, that’s the only time she has ever cracked the singles charts in the UK as a solo artist – her only other big hit was Islands In The Stream, a duet with Kenny Rogers (and a cover of a Bee Gees number) that reached #7.

I was sure that 9 to 5 must have been a huge hit, but it turns out that it stalled at #47 back in 1981 and hasn’t ever been given a further physical release since, albeit it has enjoyed more than 840,000 downloads since these things started being counted and has been streamed more than 8 million times, an indication of just how popular it has become over the past almost 40 years.

But today’s posting isn’t really about Ms Parton, and instead is an excuse to offer up a few cover versions of her only ever solo hit single.

Strawberry Switchblade, in 1985, released it as the follow-up to their hit single Since Yesterday:-

mp3 : Strawberry Switchblade – Jolene

Sadly, it, and the parent album released around the same time, didn’t do much in terms of sales and the duo went their separate ways shortly after.

Another very fine Scottish singer, Dot Allison, persuaded her band to have a go at it and it found its way onto the b-side of their final single before they broke up:-

mp3 : One Dove – Jolene

Is there something about this songs that it has a crazy ability to bring about the end of a band once they’ve had a stab at it?

Not quite, in that this next take on it dates from a BBC Radio 1 session in 1983 and the band kept going for almost another 20 years:-

mp3 : The Sisters of Mercy – Jolene (Kid Jensen Session)

And finally, the version which resulted in the song making an appearance in the UK charts in 2004:-

mp3 : The White Stripes – Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)

The live single was issued to accompany a live DVD, recorded at the beginning of 2004, but held back and released in time for that year’s Xmas market.

The White Stripes had previously, in 2000, recorded a studio version of the song, making it available as the b-side to Hello Operator, an early single that was never given a release in the UK.

mp3 : The White Stripes – Jolene

There are numerous other cover versions out there but these are all I can offer up from my own vaults.

JC

ELEVEN BLASTS FOR APOLLO 11

A GUEST POSTING by STRANGEWAYS

A flag flying free in a vacuum…

Fifty years ago this weekend, Apollo 11, having rocketed off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre on July 16th 1969, was approaching destination: Moon.

No real value in me adding to the screeds already written by those with more of a right to do so. Instead, and, aware that there are a million other great songs that could have been chosen, it’s straight into Eleven Blasts for Apollo 11…

Light side

Twenty seconds and counting. T minus 15 seconds, guidance is internal.

1. The Wedding Present: Venus

The opening track from 1996’s Saturnalia LP – whose associated artwork itself pastiches NASA’s logo – kicks us off (albeit toward the wrong celestial body). The Weddoes have a load of space-connected songs to choose from, and this robust zinger is as good as any on getting things off to a flying start.

Twelve, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence starts…..6, 5, 4…

2. The Mekons: Ghosts Of American Astronauts

‘A flag flying free in a vacuum…’ Fragile, otherworldly and quietly cynical, this was an absolute stick-on to make the crew. Indeed, if only one song was permitted on board, this would be the one taking a small step for a giant leap. As an aside: does the intro sound a bit like the opening to ‘Talulah Gosh’?

…3, 2, 1, zero, all engine* running.

3. Ballboy: Essential Wear For Future Trips To Space

From the I Hate Scotland EP, this corking tale of space travel, polar bears and wardrobe tips is greatly elevated by thrilling, somersaulting keyboards. Planning to jet off soon? Essential wear includes: silver gloves, a visor and reflector (for your face).

* Such was the tension that the ordinarily cool-as-a-cucumber NASA Public Affairs Officer Jack King is heard to say all engine running rather than all engines running.

LIFT-OFF! We have a lift-off, 32 minutes past the hour. Lift-off on Apollo 11.

4. Slowdive: Star Roving

The well-loved Slowdive’s re-emergence – after 22 years – could have gone so wrong. But the eponymous 2017 LP, home planet of this triumphant lead-off single, urged fans out from behind the sofa even before its affirmative intro had been spent.

Star Roving popped up on the Fifa 18 soundtrack too. They shot. They scored. One-nil to the resurgent five-a-siders from Reading.

Tower cleared.

5. The Primitives: Spacehead

Despite the temptation to choose Buzz Buzz Buzz (Aldrin), Spacehead, from the superb Lovely (1988) debut LP, was cleared for take-off.

Neil Armstrong reporting their roll and pitch program which puts Apollo 11 on a proper heading.

6. Ash: Girl From Mars

Great single, and a track from the 1977 LP. According to Wikipedia, Girl From Mars has been used as hold-music on NASA’s telephone lines, which sure makes a change from Greensleeves

Dark side

Plus 30 seconds.

7. Moonshake: Gravity

This flickers and strobes and phases, and sounds not unlike Moonshake‘s 1991 influencers and contemporaries My Bloody Valentine.

The First EP, from which Gravity is taken, was even released on Creation too. The two bands were label-mates, then, at ‘round about the time when MBV were putting out the likes of the Tremelo and Glider EPs, and the Loveless album. I admit to knowing nothing more from Moonshake, but I’ve always loved this track.

One Bravo is a abort control mode

8. British Sea Power: Observe The Skies

This twitching, jittering beauty from 2010’s Valhalla Dancehall LP sees the band emerge from the sea to the land… and beyond. Observe The Skies then chops merrily away behind typically elegant BSP words:

‘Let’s watch the nebulae implode,
As dark out of the light unfolds… ’

Altitude’s two miles

9. Heavenly: Space Manatee

With Sarah Records calling it a day in 1995, Heavenly‘s last-ever release was this 1996 7″ single on Wiiija, K or Elefant depending on your earth coordinates at that point.

It’s a fine sign-off: a nice slice of quiet/loud. Space Manatee was backed by a riotous cover of The Jam‘s Art School (alongside the ace Heavenly original You Tore Me Down).

Downrange one mile, altitude three, four miles now. Velocity 2,195 feet per second

10. Billy Bragg: The Space Race Is Over

Reducing our velocity somewhat is this great track from BB’s 1996 (again with 1996) LP William Bloke – one led by a pensive, poignant lyric. Is it about the thundering pace and ill-effects of technology? Is it about being careful what you wish for? The passing of time? Or is it just about the space race being over?

‘Now that the space race is over
It’s been and it’s gone, and I’ll never get to the moon
Now that the space race is over
And I can’t help but feel we’ve all grown up too soon…’

We’re through the region of maximum dynamic pressure now

11. Pixies: The Happening

Another band with a planet-ful of space sounds, this Bossanova cut won the day. But it could have been Planet of Sound, Space (I Believe In), Motorway to Roswell... But The Happening edged it thanks to its dreamy, unusual, relentless coda.

Of course, with its references to roads and the desert, and Area 51, The Happening is actually located here on Earth. That said, its haunting close could easily be the calm, stream-of-consciousness death-throes of a cast-adrift astronaut.

Eight miles downrange, 12 miles high, velocity 4,000 feet per second…

A big thanks to JC for agreeing to this. And I’ll leave him, as he is eminently qualified for the mission, to add a Kid Caneveral track as a bonus.

strangeways

JC adds….

genius idea for a posting, and tempting as it is to add a track as suggested, there’s just something perfect about an 11-song compilation for today. But I am going to add it to the ICA listing over on the right hand side…as #220.

Oh, and what about the specially-created artwork too……loving it!!

TWO REPEAT POSTS COMING UP

JC writes…

The world and its auntie went crazy for the headlining performance by The Cure at Glastonbury a couple of weeks back. I was going to write something on the back of it, linking in to the fact that the next Simply Thrilled event is on Friday 16 August immediately on the back on an outdoor show in Glasgow by the band at which the special guests will be Mogwai and The Twilight Sad. But no matter how hard I would try, it would never top the ICA written back in March 2018 by our late and much-missed friend Tim Badger, for which there was also, uniquely, a superb scene-setter the day before.

Today, myself and Aldo are off to Dublin and tomorrow we will make our way by train to Westport where I’ll again take part in some celebrations to remember the life and times of my late brother, Davie, who died in a car crash in Ireland exactly nine years ago today. I also intend to raise a toast to Tim’s memory.

It somehow seems fiiting and appropriate to use the next two days to repost Tim’s amazing words about Robert Smith & co.

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 8 MARCH 2018

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA

Hopefully, this mix doesn’t need too much of an explanation

Various – Born on the 4th of July

TRACKLIST

Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues
The Magnetic Fields – I Don’t Want To Get Over You
Hole – Mailbu
The Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll
2Pac feat. Dr Dre and Roger Troutman – California Love
The Ramones – Baby I Love You
The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing
Devo – Come Back Jonee
Tori Amos – Professional Widow
Bodega – Name Escape
Dead Kennedys – Holiday in Cambodia
10,000 Maniacs – Don’t Talk
Blondie – Sunday Girl
Lambchop – Grumpus
LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
Violent Femmes – Ugly

JC