The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

U is for Up All Night released by The Young Knives as a single in February 2008

The Young Knives are a band both myself and Mrs Villain (aka Rachel) went to see a fair bit back in the day. They got their initial break through Shifty Disco, an Oxford-based indie label, before a number of tours supporting some of the newly emerging and chart-reaching indie-guitar bands saw them land a deal with London-based Transgressive Records in 2005. A very busy three years followed, with the release of two albums and eight singles, five of which did make the Top 50, although none got any higher than #35.

Consisting of the brothers Henry Dartnall (vocals, guitar) and Thomas Bonsu-Dartnall, whose stage name was The House of Lords (vocals, bass guitar, keyboards) along with Oliver Askew (drums, backing vocals), they made pop music fun again in that eccentrically English sort of way that has a long line running through it going back to the Kinks and taking in the likes of Squeeze, XTC and Blur among others. They were always an entertaining live act and never really worried too much about whether any music writers thought they were hip, and indeed they seemed to thrive on their perceived nerdiness and geekiness.. From recollection, they were loathed by the NME.

I certainly wrote about them a few times over at the old blog, but this seems to be the first time since I shifted to wordpress.  The debut album was produced by the late Andy Gill (Gang of Four) while its follow-up, recorded in Glasgow, at a studio built by Mogwai, had Tony Doogan, best known for his work with Belle and Sebastian, was in the producer’s chair.

Up All Night was the second single taken from the second album, Superabundance.  It was released on 2 x 7″ vinyl and CD. The b-sides on the vinyl were otherwise unavailable originals while the CD had a cover version of a #1 hit from the 80s, recorded for a session that was broadcast on XFM radio

mp3: The Young Knives – Up All Night
mp3: The Young Knives – Le Petomaine
mp3: The Young Knives – Swimming With The Fishes
mp3: The Young Knives – Stand and Deliver

It reached #45 and was the last time the band enjoyed any singles chart success.

Having been dropped by Transgressive in 2009, they set up their own label, Gadzook for the third album, Ornaments From The Silver Arcade (2011). I bought it at the time but didn’t take to it on the first couple of listens, thinking it wasn’t what I was expecting or wanting to hear, and put it away on a shelf.

Ten years on, and I decided to give it another listen during a train journey up to the football a few weeks ago, and came to the conclusion that it was actually something of a lost classic, different in some ways from the previous two albums, but still laced with the catchy hooks and clever lyrics I’d enjoyed previously. It got me thinking again about XTC and how some of their best material was written and recorded when all but their most loyal fans had deserted them. I’ve since bought the fourth and fifth albums released by The Young Knives – Sick Octave (2013) and Barbarians (2020) and will get myself sorted out for an ICA sometime soon.