SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 5)

The last night of the fair
By the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed, his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine

The last night of the fair
She is famous, she is funny
An engagement ring doesn’t mean a thing
To a mind consumed by brass(money)

And though I walk home alone
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

The last night of the fair
From a seat on a whirling waltzer
Her skirt ascends for a watching eye
It’s a hideous trait on her mother’s side

The last night of the fair
From a seat on a whirling waltzer
Her skirt ascends for a watching eye
It’s a hideous trait on her mother’s side

And though I walk home alone
Though I walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout
I may walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

Then someone falls in love and and someone’s beaten up
Someone falls in love
The pulses being beat are mine

And someone falls in love
And someone’s beaten up, someone’s beaten up
And the senses being dulled are mine

And tonight I will walk home alone
I will walk home alone
But still my faith in love is still devout
Though I woke home alone
I may walk home alone
My faith in love is still devout

This the last night of the fair
And by the big wheel generator
A boy is stabbed and his money is grabbed
And the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine

She is famous, she is funny
An engagement ring doesn’t mean a thing
To a mind consumed by brass(money)

Though I walk home alone
Yes I might walk home alone
Sill, my faith in love is still devout
I might walk home alone tonight
My faith in love is still devout

So scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
This means you really love me
Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
This means you really love me

And then… I might walk home alone
I might walk home alone
But my faith in love is still devout
My faith in love is still devout
My faith in love is still devout

This is the last night of the fair
And the grease in the hair of the speedway operator
Is it all a tremulous heart requires?
A girl is denied
She said: “How quickly would I die if I jumped from the top of the parachutes?”

This is the last night of the fair
And the grease in the hair of a speedway operator
Is all a tremulous heart requires
A girl who is denied says
“How quickly would I if I jumped from the top of the parachutes?”

Please….scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
And this means you really love me
Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
And this means you really love me

And yes, I walk home alone
I might walk home alone
But still, my faith in love is still devout

mp3 : The Smiths – Rusholme Ruffians (early version)

Indeed.

JC

IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (8)

There’s enough been praise heaped on Teenage Fanclub over the years within this little corner of the internet that I don’t feel I can add anything fresh or new.

The debut single was on Paperhouse Records back in 1990. There were just 1500 copies pressed on 7” vinyl although it, and its b-sides, would become more readily available the following year when it was issued as a CD single. It didn’t make the mainstream charts nor hit #1 in the indie charts in a year dominated by a handful of bands – Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and The Charlatans held down the top spot for a combined 32 weeks – but it did set down an incredible marker for a career that is still going strong all these years later.

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Primary Education
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Speeder

Worth mentioning that you can expect to pay £90-£100 for a mint copy of the vinyl if you so desire. For that price you could also pick up a 5 x vinyl LP box set of 50 Song Memoir by Magnetic Fields. You can determine what is the better value.

Is it the best ever TFC single? That all depends on what day of the week and time of day it is. It can be….but so too can Sparky’s Dream, God Knows It’s True, Ain’t That Enough, Star Sign and I Don’t Want Control Of You.

JC

HAD IT. LOST IT. (Part 9)

A GUEST POSTING by DAVE GLICKMAN

When this new series was first introduced, T(n)VV readers shared a plethora of excellent suggestions. Yet, the first band that came to mind for me was nowhere to be found. Such a definitive example that I began to wonder why others didn’t share my view. I began to run through possible hypotheses:

1. Was the band too obscure?

Hard to believe. Their first five albums were all in the top 30 in the UK and they have been featured at least once on this very site, admittedly with lukewarm praise, at best, from our resident blogger.

2. Did no one remember the period when they “had it”?

I suppose this is possible for some, but I know for sure that, recreational drug use notwithstanding, there are plenty of us 50+ old sods for whom 1980 was smack in the middle of our formative musical listening years.

3. Did readers think that this band never “lost it”?

No, can’t be…

mp3 : The Psychedelic Furs – Heaven

4. Was it actually possible that no one thought they ever “had it”?

Well, I guess that is the case I need to make.

A bit of background cobbled together from the wiki:

The Psychedelic Furs are an English rock band founded in London in February 1977. The band initially consisted of Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass guitar), Duncan Kilburn (saxophone), Paul Wilson (drums) and Roger Morris (guitars). By 1979, this line-up had expanded to a sextet with Vince Ely replacing Wilson on drums and John Ashton being added on guitar.

The Psychedelic Furs’ debut, a self-titled album from 1980, was produced by Steve Lillywhite. The LP quickly established the band on radio in Europe and was a No. 18 hit in the UK Albums Chart. The album also found success in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Australia. The US version of the album was re-sequenced, but failed to have a strong commercial impact. The Furs did find success in the US with their next release, 1981’s Talk Talk Talk, which saw the band making its debut on the US Billboard 200 chart. In the UK, the album spun off two charting singles, “Dumb Waiters” and the original version of “Pretty in Pink”.

In 1982, the band was reduced to a four-piece with the departures of Morris and Kilburn…

…and subsequently went completely to shit.

Ah, but for two glorious years at the beginning of the 1980’s, at least among my circle of friends at University, the Furs were discussed in the same breath as Joy Division, Gang of Four, and The Cure as seminal bands in the post-punk movement.

mp3 : The Psychedelic Furs – India

You could certainly have waited years for a crooner from Manchester to tell you about the drawbacks of societal conventions like marriage or you could have listened to this:

Marry me and be my wife
You can have me all your life
Our love will never end
Parties for our stupid friends….

We will be a part of structure
You will have a face of structure
We will make ourselves a scene
We will live our stupid dream

I am you and you are me
Tie me down I will be free
Our love will have no end

mp3 : The Psychedelic Furs – Fall

And while the commonsense view is that the early Furs sound was driven by Richard Butler’s gravely, atonal vocals, I am of the opinion that Duncan Kilburn was often the key. That’s right, the saxophone player! Now I know that many of you are not big fans of the sax in rock music, but this is not your father’s saxophone. For lack of a better term, I contend that the Furs represented the pinnacle (if not the only) example of Post-Punk Sax.

mp3 : The Psychedelic Furs – Dumb Waiters

It was just a fleeting moment for sure, but for me, The Psychedelic Furs absolutely “had it” before, in pursuit of greater fame and fortune, they threw it all away. Have I convinced you?

DAVE

MARGINALLY MORE THAN ONE-HIT WONDERS

Lifting the band bio from the allmusic site:-

Led by vocalist/guitarist Dave Fenton, the Vapors were a short-lived new wave guitar group that is best known for the spiky pop single “Turning Japanese.” Fenton formed the first version of the Vapors in 1978, yet he was the only member to survive that lineup; in 1979, former Ellery Bops members Ed Bazalgette (lead guitar) and Howard Smith (drums) joined the band, and bassist Steve Smith came aboard shortly afterward. One of the band’s first concerts was seen by the Jam’s Bruce Foxton, who asked them to perform on his group’s Setting Sons tour. Before long, the Vapors were managed by Foxton and John Weller, the manager of the Jam, as well as the father of the group’s leader, Paul Weller.

The Vapors signed to United Artists, releasing their first single, “Prisoners,” at the end of 1979; it failed to chart. “Turning Japanese,” the band’s second single, became a major hit, reaching number three on the U.K. charts in March of 1980. New Clear Days, the band’s debut album, was released two months later, which didn’t sell as well as the single. In 1981, the Vapors released the more ambitious Magnets, yet it received lukewarm reviews and poor sales; the group disbanded shortly after its release.

A couple of further facts on Turning Japanese. It hit the heights of #3 at a time when Going Underground was #1, meaning producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven had two of the top three in the charts in the week of 29 March 1980 (the song sandwiched in-between was the saccharine Together We Are Beautiful by Fern Kenney). Also, and this was something I didn’t know, the single reached the the top 40 in the US, something The Jam never ever managed to achieve. Not bad for a song that is clearly about wanking oneself into a crazed frenzy….

mp3 : The Vapors – Turning Japanese

I quite liked the follow-up single News At Ten, a more ambitious effort that was musically and subject matter in debt to The Jam with the song’s protagonist having left school for a dead end job and finding life at home with the folks to be somewhat stifling. It stalled at #44 in the charts.

mp3 : The Vapors – News At Ten

I thought I’d round off today’s burst of nostalgia with two further offerings – the debut single:-

mp3 : The Vapors – Prisoners

….and their sixth and final single in 1981 that also stalled at #44 in the charts

mp3 : The Vapors – Jimmie Jones

A little postscript lifted from wiki:-

After 34 years of inactivity, on 30 April 2016, Dave Fenton, Ed Bazelgette and Steve Smith took to the stage at the Half Moon in Putney. With a guest drummer standing in for Howard Smith they played Turning Japanese and then left the stage. Rumours of a reunion were rife and on 10 June a short four-date tour in October and November was announced on the band’s new Facebook page. With Howard Smith unable to tour, Michael Bowes stepped in on drums.

Following the success of the shows in Dublin, London, Liverpool and Wolverhampton further dates were announced for 2017, including an appearance at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. During the 2016 dates, the band alluded to a forthcoming album, potentially to be released in 2017.

JC

CHARGED PARTICLES (16)

THE GUEST SERIES FROM JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

 

Charged Particle Covers

Isolation – Mercury Rev.  This would be the John Lennon tune, not the Joy Division one.  I’m not the biggest Mercury Rev fan, truth be told, but I like this cover more than the original.  I think it’s the brushed drums, the relaxed vibe, and the extra instrumentation (Lennon’s version was just him on piano with Ringo purporting to be a drummer and Klaus Voorman’s bass mixed so low you can’t hear it).  The acoustic guitar “solo” is kind of funny, too.

Satisfaction – Devo.  Bending the rules here to exclude the (I Can’t Get No) from the title to qualify this song.  In America during the late 70’s everyone dropped whatever they were doing promptly at 11 pm on Saturday to watch Saturday Night Live.  (You’re all familiar with SNL across the pond, right?)  When DEVO played this song in 1978 I was at some suburban party with a bunch of other teenagers.  We had absolutely no idea what to make of them.  YouTube the video — it’s still remarkable.

 

Depression – Dirty Projectors.  My son turned me on to Dirty Projectors when he was in high school.  At the time he was getting into vocal music and found the technique of “hocketing” really intriguing (example: ‘Remade Horizon’ from DP’s LP ‘Bitte Orca’).  Dirty Projectors were really capable at that type of singing, and were generally really interesting, creative and unique.  One of the interesting, creative and unique things they did was reinterpret the whole of Black Flag’s album Damaged, without having listened to it for a period of years.  Suffice to say, it doesn’t sound anything like Black Flag – or anyone else for that matter.

JTFL

 

THE XTC SINGLES (Part 30)

The single that never was.

I mentioned last week that the spelling of War Dance as Wardance on the b-side of The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead was an indication of how little regard there was for XTC at Virgin Records in the early 90s. What happened next was truly appalling and was the catalyst for the band grinding to a halt for a considerable period of time.

It was agreed that a third single should be lifted from Nonsuch and released in September 1992. It was to be Wrapped in Grey, one of the best-received tracks from the album. A slower than usual number with an emphasis on piano and strings, it was a very different sort of XTC, but there’s no doubt it was a song that everyone was proud of.

Artwork was produced, b-sides identified and in due course, some 7″ and CD singles were pressed only for them to be recalled and destroyed by the label, who had unilaterally decided it had no prospect of charting. The very few copies that got out into circulation are now worth a fortune – the CD single goes for £200 upwards and the even rarer vinyl for at least double that.

mp3 : XTC – Wrapped In Grey

The other songs slated for the single were Bungalow, a track from Nonsuch and another example of a song that none of us who had grown up with the post-punk material would ever have imagined being recorded by XTC; the demo version of Bungalow and a demo of a previously unreleased song called Rip Van Ruben.

The pulping of this 45 was the last straw for XTC and they asked to be released from their contract. Virgin Records refused to do so. No new material was recorded but the label happily issued some compilations to keep the money coming in. The impasse would last for a number of years.

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #95 : FFS

That the Franz Ferdinand/Sparks ‘supergroup’ was included on the shortlist for Scottish Album of The Year in 2016 is good enough for them to be quickly featured in this ongoing weekly series.

From the Domino Records website:-

The seed of FFS was sown around the time of Franz’s debut album when word got back to the Maels that the band were big Sparks fans. “We thought ‘Take Me Out’ was very cool, and wouldn’t it be nice to say hello when they came to Los Angeles?” recalls Russell Mael. “We met and decided then it would be great to do something together. We put forward a couple demos, one was ‘Piss Off’. But they got swept up by everything, and it didn’t happen at that time.”

Fast-forward to 2013 when both Sparks and Franz Ferdinand appeared at Coachella. On the day of Sparks’ warm-up show in San Francisco, Kapranos was in the city trying to locate a dentist when he heard a voice behind him: “’Alex, is that you?’ It was Ron and Russell. They invited us down to see them play that night. We said hello after, and everyone agreed that the 10-year gestation period for this idea was long enough——- we should try and make it happen now.”

FFS was recorded during an intense 15-day period in late 2014. “We approached it the way bands do with their first record,” says Kapranos. “We had the songs first, rehearsed them and then recorded it all together, in a room. So no hanging around or fannying about.”

Very much a ‘new’ project, FFS doesn’t truly sound like either band, but a striking and fascinating mutation. “The real motivation was to make something new, not ‘Franz featuring Russell Mael’, or ‘Sparks with Franz Ferdinand backing them,” says Alex Kapranos.

“You can’t chart what is Sparks and what is Franz Ferdinand,” suggests Ron Mael. “I think each band unconsciously relinquished a little of who they were in order to enter new territory.”

It turned out to be a very fine record, but even better were the live shows that followed, with the gig at Glasgow Barrowlands a couple of years back being one that I thoroughly enjoyed and will always recall with much fondness. Rarely have I seen a group of musicians get such a genuine thrill from being in front of an appreciative audience and responding fully in kind.

mp3 : FFS – Johnny Delusional

JC