A RE-POST TO BUY MORE TIME (10)

ON REFLECTION…A RATHER UNUSUAL RELEASE
(Originally posted on 23 February 2013)

1982.

Bauhaus had been kicking around for a few years without ever troubling the chart-compilers. The record label then hit on the wheeze of releasing, as their eighth single, a cover version of one of the most famous songs written and recorded by David Bowie. This was at a time when Bowie was being accused on selling out, what with hitting the charts with duets with firstly Queen and then Bing Crosby (!!) and rumours flying around the music industry that his next LP was going to be a real crossover pop/dance effort.

So in a sense, this very faithful interpretation of Ziggy Stardust was a reminder to us kids that Bowie had made some great music a decade or so earlier and why he was regarded as such a huge influence to many:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust

All the label on the 12″ single says is ‘released by arrangement with BBC Records’. It was years later, thanks to a CD compilation of all their BBC sessions, that it could be revealed it dated from a July 1982 session recorded for the David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show on Radio 1.

The track got to #15 in the UK charts and proved to be the band’s only Top 20 hit.

I came across it while cleaning out the record cupboard the other week having long forgotten that I owned a copy. Gave the b-sides a spin for the first time in decades – found them to be a a right strange bag:-

mp3 : Bauhaus – Party of the First Part
mp3 : Bauhaus – Third Uncle
mp3 : Bauhaus – Waiting For The Man

The first of these was turns out to be from a John Peel Session in March 1982. This must have bemused long-time fans of the band. It’s a sort of lounge-jazz piece of music with sampled dialogue from what sounds like some sort of horror movie. Turns out that the band are really having a laugh at their own alleged demonic/goth roots as the sample is from The Devil and Daniel Mouse – a 1978 cartoon with this plot line:-

Finding their audience drying up in favour of rock music, two young mouse folk singers find themselves with a bleak future. Desperate for a better career and life, the female vows that she would do anything to become a rock star. Instantly, the Devil arises to take advantage of that and offers to make her a star in exchange for her soul. She agrees and she quickly becomes the star she’s dreamed of while her boyfriend, Daniel Mouse, is left behind. On the night of her greatest triumph, the devil comes to collect on her soul. In desperation, she turns to Daniel who must attempt the impossible task of trying to find an escape loophole for his girl’s release.

I’m guessing being a family cartoon young Daniel finds a way…..but I’m still quite tickled at the band showing such a cracking sense of humour.

Over on the flip-side the track Third Uncle is also taken from the same Jensen session as Ziggy. It’s a cover of a Brian Eno composition, originally released in 1974. I’ve never heard the original, but I’m happy to make a blind bet that the Bauhaus version is wildly different. Oh and I’m happy that having just played it for the first time in nearly 30 years, it has been added to the i-pod list cos I like it….

The final track was much anticipated. Recorded live at Fagins in Manchester and featuring Nico from The Velvet Underground on co-vocals, this very disappointingly sounds like two drunk patrons being backed by a wedding band. Total letdown.

JC

BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 5(Part 3)

If the score from last week’s result appears underneath, then I was thankfully able to update this draft using my phone while in a hotel room in Leeds.

The Housemartins 16 Pulp 20

That’s two off your semi-finalists sorted out.  Here’s jimdoes with this week’s tie.  It’s the pick of the bunch…..

ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN v THE CLASH

Never Stop (Discotheque) v Clampdown

Written in biro on a desk at school. That was the first time I heard of Echo and The Bunnymen. All the cool kids at school were in to them – and I most certainly wasn’t one of the cool kids – I was only just looking beyond Top of the Pops to discover new music on my own. Maybe that’s why they’ve never been a favourite of mine – I like them but they were always too cool for me. I know the songs and I’ve seen them at festivals a few times but I never loved them. Having said all that – out of all the bands left in the ICA World Cup, they are the band that I listen to more than any other – only because Seven Seas is one of my favourite songs ever so I play it all the time.

(JC adds….just to provide some more words so that it is similar in length to the second contribution….here’s what Echorich said when I posted the 12″ version of Never Stop as the stand alone post “LAY DOWN THY RAINCOAT AND GROOOOOOVE…” back in October 2013…

A Pete De Frietas Tour De Force! The percussion, multilayered over a driving motorik beat, mixed with the strings was the first warning shot of what would come to full fruition by Ocean Rain.

Back to jimdoes……

I was too young for The Clash. And not having an older sibling to point me in the right direction, they kind of passed me by. In my house the 70s meant Joan Baez, The Manhattan Transfer and Terry Wogan’s Floral Dance. Punk certainly never happened for me. But I do remember seeing my first punks – on my way to my cousins in Romford around the time of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee – they seemed impossibly exotic and otherworldly to my young eyes. The first I knew of Mick Jones was E=MC2 – which I loved. By the time I went to art college I was a proper indie kid – The Wedding Present, The Smiths, Pixies, The Cure, and The Primitives were my band t-shirts of choice (in fact I’ve never owned a Clash t-shirt). This is where I met Julyan and Tristan – we’d go to the pub – they’d put The Clash on the jukebox; we’d carry on drinking at home – they’d play their battered Clash records; we’d go to parties – Julyan would always have a Clash tape on him (for emergencies) – it would be his favourite Clash songs but he’d re-record it almost weekly. I quickly knew all the words and acquired my own copies of the albums. None of us ever saw The Clash (They aren’t even the band I’d go back in time to see – that’s Prince and The Revolution on the Purple Rain tour) but we went to countless BAD shows and saw Joe Strummer a few times. I still listen to London Calling about once a month, so they are very much a part of me.

jimdoes

PS : That leaves the final quarter final as Lloyd Cole & The Commotions v The Jam.  You’ll need to wait seven days for the songs though…….

THE LONG-OVERDUE AND WELCOME RETURN OF THE TWILIGHT SAD

It’s been two and a half years since the last time I saw The Twilight Sad when they played a triumphant pre-Christmas show at The Barrowlands in Glasgow. They spent most of 2016 travelling the world a the support act to The Cure while last year they took some time out to recuperate during which lead singer James Graham ventured into a side project called Out Lines, working with Kathryn Joseph (winner of the Scottish Album of the Year in 2016) and Marcus Mackay.

Tomorrow night they are playing at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, a venue that has long been on mine and Aldo‘s bucket list and so we are off down south to take it in where we will hopefully be joined by Comrade Colin.

I’ve been excited about this one for months, counting down the weeks impatiently. And yet, I was nearly in a position of not being able to go as the death of a close friend last week threatened to put things on hold – if the funeral had been tomorrow, then there would have been a very tough decision to make. As it is, Aldo will head down as planned later this morning and I’ll delay my departure for a few hours and join him this evening.

The gig promises to be special. They have a new drummer following the unexpected but amicable departure of Mark Devine which was announced a few months back. They also are likely to include a Frightened Rabbit number in the set as a tribute to the late Scott Hutchison – I’ll do well to stay in control of myself if that happens.

Here’s a reminder of why this band are, and have been for a while, my favourites:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisble Boy (from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, 2007)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Room (from Forget the Night Ahead, 2009)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car (frm The Wrong Car EP, 2010)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Sick (from No One Can Ever Know, 2012)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – It Was Never The Same (from Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, 2014)

JC

THERE COULD ONLY BE ONE TRACK TODAY

I don’t care if it’s a re-post of a re-post of a guest post from back in 2008. This will always be one of my favourite bits of writing and it just has to appear today.  A piece of music which still sounds superb 32 years on.

DANCE MUSIC FOR INDIE KIDS (PT 3)
ORIGINALLY POSTED BY ctel (aka ACID TED)
ON 10 NOVEMBER 2008

Today Mrs CTel discusses sport and dance for indie kids, through the medium of Colourbox.

Colourbox was one of the legendary 4AD label’s earliest and most under-recognized acts. It was among the first artists outside hip-hop to rely heavily on sampling techniques; ultimately, their arty blue-eyed soul reached its commercial and creative peak through their work with AR Kane on M/A/R/R/S‘ seminal “Pump Up the Volume” project, a reflection of the group’s long-standing interest in the burgeoning underground dance music scene of the 1980s. Colourbox was primarily the work of London-based brothers Martyn and Steven Young. In 1986 they released “The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme” (relating to the World Cup in Mexico in 86).

Mrs CTel says:

This is to do with Football. Music and sport in an official or unofficial capacity shouldn’t mix. It’s not cool – even New Order only just scraped a place on the line dividing kitsch from credibility. But this track’s massive saving grace it that except for the title (whisper it if you must) it doesn’t have ANY reference to the F word. Blissfully free of lyrics, it delivers a wonderful performance quite out sync with England’s woeful international efforts, except perhaps in its own lack of chart success. But hey, that IS cool in music terms. It starts off hard and keeps up a great momentum all the way through. Trust me on this one.

mp3 : Colourbox – The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme 7″ Mix

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #171 : THE FALL (5)

ALL HERE IS ACE: The Fall’s First Decade (1977-1986)

A guest posting by JONDER

I started this ICA before Mark E. Smith‘s death, but found it hard to reduce The Fall‘s first and greatest decade to ten songs. It was a period of boundless creativity, as the group moved from strength to strength with an astonishing series of singles and albums.

Sean O’Neal observed in the AVClub.com, “Most Fall fans don’t have something as pedestrian as favorite albums or songs, but rather favorite eras and lineups.” For me, nothing surpasses the bass-driven, double drummer sound of these years, topped with trebly guitars and Mark’s distinctive delivery. The lyrics bristle with dark wit and undisguised contempt for the scene, the press, record labels, musicians, the city of London, and even the audience.

SIDE A

1. Crap Rap/Like To Blow – Smith introduces the group as Northern outsiders. The Fall’s 1979 debut album, Live At The Witch Trials, features Yvonne Pawlett‘s cheap keyboard and the metallic sheen of Martin Bramah‘s guitar, both soon to disappear from the lineup.

2. Before The Moon Falls – by the end of ’79, only Smith and Marc Riley remained from the first LP. The tenure of bassist Steve Hanley and guitarist Craig Scanlon begins on Dragnet. The production recoils from the bright clarity of Witch Trials. Smith paraphrases William Blake: “I must create a new regime or live by another man’s.” An ex-Fall member is quoted on the album’s back cover: “I bet you’re laughing your head off at this, aren’t you Smith?”

3. C & C’s Mithering – An epic travelogue and a tirade against the music industry, from 1980’s Grotesque. An odyssey that spans two continents and three months, set to two chords and three beats.

4. The Container Drivers – The Fall could be funny. This is from the third of The Fall’s 24 Peel Sessions. It is a portrait of truckers on speed, with observations culled from Mark’s job on the docks. One moment that always makes me smile is around 1:45, when Paul Hanley fires off an overlong drum roll.

5. Winter – 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour is often named as The Fall’s finest album. This song is the first half of a ghost story: you flipped the LP over when it ended to hear the conclusion of the tale. Storytelling was a significant part of Smith’s writing in the 1980’s (cf. Wings, Spectre Vs. Rector, The NWRA and New Face In Hell). There were fewer narrative songs in the decades to follow.

SIDE B

6. Room To LiveThe Room To Live album was something of a disappointment. How could it not be, just six months after the spellbinding Hex? Some of the songs seem morose, but the title track is a high-spirited Country & Northern romp.

7. I Feel Voxish – Marc Riley cowrote this song, but was fired before it was recorded. Smith plays with assonance in the phrases “pillbox crisp” and “feel voxish”. Perverted By Language (1983) was The Fall’s last album for Rough Trade, and the first to feature Brix Smith.

8. Slang King“This is Mr. and Mrs. Smith to whom you are speaking.” Mark was a slang king, a perverter of language, and an inventor of words like “corporatulent”. Here he explores alliteration and onomatopoeia: whip wire, swoop swoop. 1984’s Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall was the group’s first LP for Beggar’s Banquet.

9. L.A. – The lyrics to this tune are few, outnumbered by Mark’s wordless falsetto and percussive vocalizations. L.A. is a showcase for Brix as a guitarist, and a tribute to her birthplace. Near the end she quotes from the movie Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls: “This is my happening, and it freaks me out!” LCD Soundsystem recently used the same line. (This Nation’s Saving Grace, 1985)

10. US 80’s-90’s – A critique of modern American Puritanism from 1986’s Bend Sinister. Smoking bans and the “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign of the Reagan era signified a sociopolitical shift since The Fall’s first US visit. This song and L.A. foreshadow the synthesizer friendly Fall Sound of the 90’s. There’s also a reference back to the first track of this ICA, as Smith calls himself “the big shot original rapper” but adds that “it’s time for me to get off this crapper.”

Mark E. Smith was a vocalist, songwriter and bandleader unlike any other. The Fall seemed to expect more from their listeners, and to give up their secrets less readily. I was a suburban American teen when I first heard The Fall. I couldn’t completely grasp what they were doing. Still I was enchanted, and soon obsessed. The music was uniquely compelling, and for me it remains so.

JONDER

JC adds…..huge thanks to Jonder for being so patient….this ICA landed in the Inbox months ago.  That’s the last of the backlog cleared, so if anyone else wants to a go, then feel free to drop me a line…I promise you shouldn’t have long to wait to see your work appear in print!

CHARGED PARTICLES (V2) : Part 2

Nada Surf – If I Had A Hi-Fi

I absolutely love NYC band Nada Surf. They’re consistently excellent. Their songs are just the right mix of melody, melancholy and musicianship. They’re a great live act, too. I’ve been thinking about a Nada Surf ICA for ages but I love so many of their songs I’m having trouble shortening the shortlist. This set is easy, though, because it consists only of songs from their covers album, If I Had A Hi-Fi (which is a palindrome, btw). Other bands whose songs were covered include Depeche Mode, Spoon and The Go-Betweens. I’ll get to that ICA one of these days.

Electrocution – originally by Cleveland musician Bill Fox
Question – originally by The Moody Blues
Evolution – originally by Spanish Band Mercromina

JTFL

BOB

The decision by Cherry Red Records to compile and release C86, C87 and C88 triple-disc boxsets as 30th anniversary celebrations has brought much joy and happiness to Villain Towers. I’ve finally picked up on many bands that I vaguely recall reading about in one or other of the UK’s weekly music papers but in whom I didn’t invest any of my meagre earnings on their vinyl – but then again I didn’t actually buy much music in the final few years of that particular decade.

I’m sort of making up for things now and doing my best to pick up second-hand 45s and LPs but only if the price is right. Only a decade ago, I could make multiple purchases for not much more than the packaging and posting but many sellers are now taking advantage of the increased interest in vinyl and have inflated prices to the point where I refuse to bite. I did, however, go out of my way to get my hands on an EP from 1987 thanks to really enjoying this track on one of the afore-mentioned Cherry Red releases:-

mp3 : BOB – What A Performance

As with so many of the bands who gained a following back in those days, the London-based BOB owed much to the late John Peel. The three founding members – Richard Blackborow (vocals, keyboard and guitar), Simon Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and Jem Morris (bass) had recorded and issued a three-track flexi disc in 1986 which they managed to get into the hands of the influential DJ. He played it a few times on his night-time show and in due course offered them a session. The band had now expanded, by 1987, into a four-piece with Gary Connors coming in to replace a previously utilised drum machine.

A five track EP on the newly formed Sombrero Records was the first release from this expanded line-up. It’s an exceptionally catchy number, certainly of its time and place, which remains more than capable of bringing a smile to the face of the most casual of listeners. The EP contained three other very enjoyable numbers as well as an extended and slightly over-ambitious mix of the lead track:-

mp3 : BOB – Deary Me
mp3 : BOB – Piggery
mp3 : BOB – Memory of A Free Lunch
mp3 : BOB – Worra Performance

This turned out to be the only contribution from the new drummer as he was replaced by Dean Legget who had been part of the newly disbanded Jamie Wednesday (whose other members would go on to become Carter USM). This line-up was together for a couple of years and while their subsequent releases continued to be championed by Peel, who also offered a further two sessions, they never became anything more than cult heroes. A new drummer, Stephen Hersom, replaced Legget in late 1990 and was involved in the LP Leave The Straight Life Behind, which was released on their own House of Teeth label. Sadly, the collapse of the Rough Trade distribution arm created huge problems for BOB who were particularly vulnerable given the smallness of their label and substantial losses were incurred. It was no real surprise that the band called it a day soon after.

As with so many from the era, there has been a 21st century comeback with the album being re-released in an expanded form in 2014 complete with the Peel Sessions and other tracks. The following year the band got back together again for some live shows, including an indie festival in Manchester.

JC