SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter Nine)

A GUEST POSTING by FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH

Hi Jim

Loving the above occasional series. I am a bit obsessed by a song’s lyrics. Some of my favourite songwriters can turnout an amazing phrase or concept but for me the skill of a song as a short story is where every word earns its place and not a phrase is wasted for the sake of scanning,

The examples you have shared so far all stand on their own two feet on the printed page.

Loads to choose from but gone for this , part character study and part story. Put out of your mind National Express and the arched eyebrow . I hesitate as wondered if a short story song could have a chorus and then realised that was giving this way too much thought.

The thing I love about this is that take out any line and the whole is diminished. The subtle changes in the chorus all add to the picture and only in a couple of places is the phrasing slightly forced. The only place where the words alone don’t quite have the full impact is that they miss the sadness of the way Neil Hannon sings the final “No , you couldn’t be”. Kind of a upper class sister song to Labelled with Love

David (Friend of Rachel Worth)

Lady of a Certain Age

Back in the day you had been part of the smart set
You’d holidayed with kings, dined out with starlets
From London to New York, Cap Ferrat to Capri
In perfume by Chanel and clothes by Givenchy
You sipped camparis with David and Peter
At Noel’s parties by Lake Geneva
Scaling the dizzy heights of high society
Armed only with a cheque-book and a family tree

You chased the sun around the Cote d’Azur
Until the light of youth became obscured
And left you on your own and in the shade
An English lady of a certain age
And if a nice young man would buy you a drink
You’d say with a conspiratorial wink
“You wouldn’t think that I was seventy”
And he’d say, “no, you couldn’t be!”

You had to marry someone very very rich
So that you might be kept in the style to which
You had all of your life been accustomed to
But that the socialists had taxed away from you
You gave him children, a girl and a boy
To keep your sanity a nanny was employed
And when the time came they were sent away
Well that was simply what you did in those days

You chased the sun around the Cote d’Azur
Until the light of youth became obscured
And left you on your own and in the shade
An English lady of a certain age
And if a nice young man would buy you a drink
You’d say with a conspiratorial wink
“You wouldn’t think that I was sixty three”
And he’d say, “no, you couldn’t be!”

Your son’s in stocks and bonds and lives back in Surrey
Flies down once in a while and leaves in a hurry
Your daughter never finished her finishing school
Married a strange young man of whom you don’t approve
Your husband’s hollow heart gave out one Christmas Day
He left the villa to his mistress in Marseilles
And so you come here to escape your little flat
Hoping someone will fill your glass and let you chat about how

You chased the sun around the Cote d’Azur
Until the light of youth became obscured
And left you all alone and in the shade
An English lady of a certain age
And if a nice young man would buy you a drink
You’d say with a conspiratorial wink
“You wouldn’t think that I was fifty three”
And he’d say, “no, you couldn’t be!”

mp3 : The Divine Comedy – Lady of a Certain Age

FoRW

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #155 : THE TRIFFIDS

A GUEST POSTING by THE SWEDE

I don’t remember exactly how many times I saw The Triffids live, around fifteen I’d guess, but I do know that the first time was in a sparsely populated, subterranean, Romford night-club in 1984. Also in attendance that night was early champion John Peel. By 1989 I’d seen them headline prestigious London venues such as The ICA, The Town & Country Club and both The Shaw and Dominion Theatres. The world, it seemed, was their oyster, but despite critical praise and a devoted fanbase, the mass sales, required by major label Island, never materialised and the band drifted back to their native Australia, then drifted apart.

In May 1994 David McComb returned to the UK to play a handful of shows in support of his only solo album, ‘Love of Will’. I caught McComb, accompanied by his band The Red Ponies (featuring a pre-Bad Seeds Warren Ellis on psychedelic fiddle), in a cramped and sweaty Borderline, where they played a blistering set, comprising tracks from the solo album, classic Triffids material and well chosen covers from the likes of The Velvet Underground, Ray Charles, The Beatles and Prince.

It’s almost too heartbreaking to dwell on David McComb’s subsequent fate for too long. After undergoing a heart transplant at the age of 33, his final three years were spent plagued by ill health and personal demons. He recorded more music, but much of this remains officially unreleased. David died on February 2nd 1999, two weeks short of his 37th birthday. Gone, but never forgotten. (JC adds – this ICA has been timed to coincide with David’s birthday – he would have turned 56 tomorrow)

The Triffids left a towering body of work and selecting just ten pieces from it for this compilation has been a painful task. I’ve attempted to showcase the band’s versatility, from the snappy pop of ‘Beautiful Waste’ and ‘Trick of the Light’ through to ‘Lonely Stretch’ and ‘Stolen Property’, altogether darker offerings that often became even more intense in concert. I’ve also tried to make it a damned good listen. I hope you enjoy it.

1 Trick of the Light (Calenture 1987)
2 Red Pony (Treeless Plain 1983)
3 Bright Lights Big City (BBC Session 1985)
4 Jesus Calling (Raining Pleasure 1984)
5 Lonely Stretch (Born Sandy Devotional 1986)

6 Stolen Property (Born Sandy Devotional 1986)
7 Beautiful Waste (7″single, 1984)
8 Falling Over You (The Black Swan 1989)
9 Hell of a Summer (Treeless Plain 1983)
10 Monkey On My Back (BBC Session 1985)

THE SWEDE

LOVE SONG

Happy Valentine’s Day.

It is damn near impossible to get across the effect that the above sleeve had on me as a 15-year old. Let’s just say that it went a long way to confirming that I was a heterosexual with longings for peroxide blondes.

Picture This is that very rare thing – a post-punk/new wave love song. And oh how I wished I could be part of Debbie’s finest hour….in fact I’d willingly have settled for 30 seconds.

mp3 : Blondie – Picture This

This is the 45 that was used as the precursor for the album Parallel Lines. Its b-side was a rather mournful sounding number that would also find its way on to the album

mp3 : Blondie – Fade Away and Radiate

As I’ve said in other posts, slow songs and ballads were not my forte back in the late 70s and I wasn’t all that keen on the b-side as it was nothing like new wave, more dull plod-rock. I’ve, however, grown to like it over the years and now appreciate it as an example of Blondie working hard not to be pigeon-holed into one particular genre. But it wouldn’t make an ICA…..

Oh and one more thing….. who said it is near impossible to look stunning in yellow?

JC

HALF TIME SCORES

SBTRKT 2 v The Fall (3) 20
Kitchens of Distinction 9 v Talking Heads 15
Sonic Youth 5 v Edwyn Collins 19
The Velvet Underground 15 v Talk Talk 9

(as at 11 pm on Monday 12 Feb)

Fewer goals scored in the first half this week….has the competition lost its shine already??

Worth mentioning also that nobody has yet, in any of the previous ties, been able to turn round a half-time defecit.  The whistle went a little bit early this week as I couldn’t have the post interfering with a Valentine’s Day special, so maybe history can be made.  But somehow I don’t see SBTRKT creating it. Or indeed any of the others….nobody has yet turned round a five-goal defecit (although the Fannies came mighty close last week)

One other thing….I’m dispensing with the banging pop tunes normally played at half-time  – something that should go down well with Swiss Adam among others.  Instead, you’ll be treated to something from the ICA of a singer or band knocked out in the last round by one of the eight sides competing so you can realise what your previous voting patterns have deprived the tournament of:-

mp3 : Associates – Party Fears Two

Remember….if you haven’t voted yet this week, you have until 10pm this coming Friday.

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG (on a Monday): #112 : GENEVA

From wiki:-

Geneva were formed in 1992 by vocalist Andrew Montgomery and guitarist Steven Dora. They recruited second guitarist Stuart Evans, bass player Keith Graham and finally drummer Craig Brown. Craig was later replaced by Douglas Caskie.

One of their demos found their way to Nude Records who signed the band in 1996. and released their debut single “No One Speaks” the same year. The band garnered enough press to headline NME’s annual Bratbus tour of up and coming bands in early 1997. The band released second single “Into the Blue” to coincide with the tour.

Geneva released their debut album, Further, early in June 1997. The album mixed power pop with darker brooding songs. It reached No. 20 in the UK Albums Chart, and included further singles “Tranquilizer” and “Best Regrets”.

The second album, Weather Underground, was released in March 2000, after more than a year of wrangling with the band’s record label. It was preceded by the single “Dollars in the Heavens” (which only made the UK Top 60) and followed by the single “If You Have To Go”. The band split later that year.

The band were often lumped in with labelmates Suede and other contemporaries such as Gene and Strangelove. I previously featured the excellent debut single and so this time round I’ve gone for one of the others:-

mp3 : Geneva – Tranquilizer

One listen and you’ll see why the comparisons mentioned above were made.

JC

THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 18)

I’m being lazy this week and re-hashing an old post from January 2016 which I entitled

‘When John Denver went to Ibiza.’

My effort come up with an ICA for New Order in June 2015 placed Run as the final track on Side A when I said:-

Run is one of the most outstanding songs on the album and rather bravely the band went for an edited single release in due course in which about 45 seconds are chopped off and by editing down the dreamy instrumental finish to the song and replacing it with more of the re-recorded vocal with Barney’s voice given more prominence than the original mix. It’s a decent enough mix and does a job of giving us enough changes to think of it as a new song altogether but it’s not a patch on the original.

The remix was in fact worked on alongside Scott Litt who at tht point in time was known for having worked on couple of LPs by R.E.M. The fact that he would also work on the multi-million sellers Out Of Time and Automatic For The People albums in the 90s and become one of the most talked about producers of that era was all in the future…..

Run 2 is really quite a different version. To expand on what I said in the ICA piece, the long instrumental section at the end of the original is replaced by a repeat of the chorus while there’s also greater prominence given to Bernard’s vocal and guitar and Hooky’s bass lines in an effort to make it more appealing to radio stations. Despite this, Factory Records didn’t press up all that many copies and it wasn’t the easiest thing to find in the shops.

The record, which was released only on 12″ vinyl which played at 33 1/3 rpm, stalled at #49 in the UK charts which was the poorest showing by a New Order single in a long while. But this where the fun really started…..

After the release, John Denver (or more accurately John Denver’s lawyers) sued the group, claiming that Run 2, in particular the instrumental part, sounded too similar to his hit Leaving On A Jet Plane. The case was settled out of court, and as a result the single in it’s remixed form was, for a very long time, out of print save the original few thousand copies made available in 1989.

As a result, Run 2 was a bit of music much sought after by fans, especially outside the UK (it was never made available at all overseas). There was much anticipation when Run 2 was listed on the track lists of compilation LPs released in 1994 and 2005, but in fact it was always the original version from Technique that was included.

But finally in 2008, a deluxe edition of Technique was released that included the extended mixes of Run 2 and the track MTO that had been on the b-side of the 12″. But even now, the regular mix of Run 2 and minus mix of MTO a are otherwise unavailable.

Unless someone rips them from vinyl:-

mp3 : New Order – Run 2
mp3 : New Order – Run 2 (extended mix)
mp3 : New Order – MTO
mp3 : New Order – MTO (minus mix)

Oh and nowadays, the credits for all newly released versions of Run are attributed to Sumner, Hook, Morris, Gilbert and Denver.

PS: Here’s the album version.

mp3 : New Order – Run

JC

BONUS SERIES : THE ICA WORLD CUP : ROUND 2 (Part 1)

Seems fair, given the brilliance of some of the comments this week, to compile an imaginary match report:-

This Round begins with the band that was once my “All Time Favorite” winning and then ends with the band that usurped that position. (echorich)

A few of these matches never made it to the pitch. Most cruised to easy wins. A couple were tight, and I freely admit there was cheating with one of the matches. I voted for a hero instead of heroes. Felt sorry for him, frankly. Getting thumped.(Brian)

I’m disappointed with the way some of these results are going. Cup football really is a shocker sometimes. (swiss adam)

Blimey. Some nailbiting ties here, but equally, quite a few Stockport County v Chesterfield-type games too. Some of my ties were decided by some dodgy refereeing decisions and the influence of a shady Welsh-based betting syndicate, but here’s the full-time scores. Cue Sports Report theme and the voice of Charlotte Green…(Robster)

MGMT 3 v The Clash 37

The Clash (you could put virtually any song up against White Man In Hammersmith Palais, the answer would still be The Clash) (rigid digit)

Martin Stephenson 26 v Andrew Weatherall 10

Lord Sabre’s notorious quality pressing(s) not enough to overcome an early lead from one of the most talented teams out there. (Luca)
“It isn’t the hours you put in, but what you put in the hours!”. Easy, one of The Daintees’ finest recordings against a tune I’m probably a bit too old for …(sexy loser)

Johnny Marr 16 v Rod Stewart 23

Rod Stewart. Poor effort by Girls Aloud – perhaps if they’d stuck with their usual classic pop rather than relying on a throwaway guitar line from some guitarist or other. I mean – Ronnie Wood, Ian McLagan and Mick Waller, how do you compete with a back line of that quality. (Jacques)
Having one of the most gifted role players on your team can win you a lot of games, but this time the weight of tradition was simply too much.(Luca)
Surprised that Johnny Marr didn’t take the competition more seriously, although perhaps he’s got hopes of going all the way with his other outfit (jimdoes)
feels odd to be voting against Johnny… or FOR Rod (Rol)

Asian Dub Foundation 21 v Stars 14

ADF who have the skills to pay the bills.(wycranything)

The Durutti Column 20 v The Beta Band 15

It wasn’t a classic but Reilly at sweeper kept it tight while Mason on the other side lacked his usual verve (Jacques)
tough choice here, genuinely. But the boy Reilly edged those Betas out (bagging area)
looking at a 0-0 draw, beta band scores own goal disappointing yet again the rabid supporters who traveled to the away game (GJ)
The Beta Band’s tikitaka gave them ball possession for most of the match, but lack of focus was an issue against Vini Reilly’ s prowess (Luca)

Clyde McPhatter 20 v Gene Loves Jezebel 16

classic football here. Head up, crisp passes, executed brilliantly. Not a close match at all (GJ)
Gene Love Jezabel barely got out of the changing rooms due to over use of hair spray (jimdoes)

Grandaddy 10 v Husker Du 26

Two sides marred by tragedy this past year…the minute’s silence beforehand was impeccably observed (Malky Tucker)
A man down but Husker Du hold on till the final whistle (bagging area)

OMD 21 v Super Furry Animals 17

“There’s only a little difference between Champs and Chumps!”. A most boring game to watch, it must be said. OMD win in the end, but it was close …(sexy loser)
SFA benches their A squad and fields their B squad thinking that they will win the match easily. It doesn’t happen.(GJ)
Genuinely can’t believe SFA fielded a second-string outfit for this one. (Malky Tucker)

Teenage Fanclub 20 v Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2) 20

The Aussies opened up an early lead but were pegged back by Fannies on the stroke of half-time. The final few days were a war of attrition with nobody ever getting more than a goal ahead at any time.

I had an idea at least one match this week might go all the way…and so for any tie-break scenario I asked my work colleague Doog, who also happens to be the keyboard player with The Just Joans to cast some votes.  He did this on Thursday as he had the small matter of his wife Fiona giving birth on Friday!! (a boy…their second….both baby and mum are doing well!)

Doog’s shouts were Asian Dub Foundation, Beta Band, Clyde McPhatter and Daft Punk, none of which were needed. When it came to Nick v TFC, he said he couldn’t separate them.  He threw a £1 into the air which landed heads; in doing so he made this observation in a comment come true…

so painful won on toss of the coin (Bill)

Heads was The Mercy Seat by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

the Bellshill Beatles couldn’t get the ball off Cave in this one (aldo)
Cave gets it as it’s a live recording and the Bad Seeds have, for years, been the best live band on the circuit (Malky Tucker)
the live version clinches it against a very strong TF track (the great gog)
Those kiddie dilettantes tried, but it was not enough to steal a win when you’re clearly not (a) Big Star. (Luca)
if you match the quality of the two centre forwards, Mercy Seat is a world class performer at every stage of his career while GKIT only really turns it on against weaker opposition. (Robster)

Roddy Frame 7 v The Stranglers 31

Frame’s midfield artistry undone by Trotsky’s devastating wing play on the left.(aldo)
love Roddy, but against the Stranglers strongest song? (Rol)
Major upset for me here but Roddy just didnt take it seriously (Matt)
Not a popular result in the commentary box (Julian Badenoch)
the Boy Wonder needs his team mates around him (charity chic)
sorry Roddy. The Stranglers didn’t send me a Christmas card, and in 1983, when I saw the Stranglers live, I was listening more to High Land, Hard Rain than No More Heroes, but that song is pure class. (nic ross)
Neil warnocks team kick the opposition all over the park. (friend of rachel worth)

Fats Comet/Tackhead 6 v The Pixies 30

non-league vs World Champions. No contest. Game abandoned at half-time due to the home team’s refusal to leave the dressing room for the second half. The H-T score was allowed to stand. (Robster)
“A ‘head(er) on’ from Francis to Deal – and it’s there. Deal scores. And it’s 1-0 to the team from Boston. And there simply will not be enough time for a response.” (strangeways)
Pixies – by a Gigantic margin (charity chic)

Yellow Magic Orchestra 13 v The Stone Roses 25

The Mancunian juggernauts needed to go on extra-time to snatch this victory from the jaws of defeat, having been initially caught completely by surprise by a not very well known Oriental team. (Luca)
Yet another difficult tie but truculent Mancunians usually win (bagging area)
“Sweat more in preparation, bleed less in battle!”. An easy task for The Roses, ‘Cos I’m afraid I’m not clever enough to understand the YMO’s tactics. Never have been, in fact! (sexy loser)

The Lucksmiths 17 v Daft Punk 23

5imply 5uperb play from the French. Against 5ome teams you just have no hope. The Lucksmiths got 5wept. (Luca)
(Un)luck(y)smith United had a stinker of a draw (Julain Badenoch)
Lucksmiths the awful victims of their opponents ability to drive a horse and carriage through the Financial Fair Play regulations and field a superstar vocalist. (Malky Tucker)

A.R. Kane 7 v The Trashcan Sinatras 27

Oh, come on, AR Kane – what a weak performance! (sexy loser)
The self proclaimed dark horses through as the opposition sound like they are all on drugs and not performance enhancing ones (jimdoes)

Coldplay 11 v The Detroit Cobras 23

No such luck for U2’s B team on the end of a severe thrashing from Detroit Cobras.(jacques)
Any team would have beaten the shower of shite that is Coldplay (jimdoes)
5 minutes of Chris Martin whining or a tune that was made by people who sounded like they were enjoying themselves? Hmmm.(the great gog)

Leonard Cohen 7 v Echo and The Bunnymen 34

And so we reach the final tie of what has been a very entertaining first round. No messing with this one. Spare Us The Clutter was always going to clean up this one. Here’s hoping star striker McCulloch can Do It Clean in the forthcoming rounds. (jacques)
A great match that went to extra time and penalties, such a shame there had to be a loser (Julian Badenoch)
Slow cool just won’t do against pure energy in a game like this (Martin)
what a match this was, the determining factor in the end being the strength of the team selection.(Robster)

 

I know the last four Saturdays have been a bit frantic but the staging of 16 ties was all about making the remainder of the ICA World Cup much more manageable.

The crazy nature of the draw meant that a few of the big names have gone out early on, but there’s still plenty of your favourites, dark horses and underdogs in the hat to hopefully make it still worth your while to keep an interest.

Today marks the beginning of Round 2, with 64 teams still left to battle things out. There will be just four ties per week at this stage which allows a little bit more of an in-depth look at the match-ups.

Here’s matches 1-4.

SBTRKT v The Fall

SBTRKT came through a low-scoring affair against Kanye West in Round 1 in a match which didn’t offer too many moments for the highlight reel. The Fall, represented last time by 15 Ways, lifted from what was the first ICA of the four that have featured in thes series, came through quite comfortably against Queens of the Stone Age in a tie that was played against the sad backdrop of the death of Mark E Smith. The bookies, even before the songs were selected, have made the post-punk veterans, with their huge squad to choose from, strong favourites. Maybe they were a touch premature…..

The Light (from Wonder Where We Land, 2014) v Birthday Song (from The Marshall Suite, 1999)

Kitchens of Distinction v Talking Heads

A fascinating match-up between an English band whose vocalist was born in Switzerland and an American band whose vocalist was born in Scotland. Kitchens of Distinction came through comfortably against The Indelicates last time round, thanks to Japan to Jupiter, one of the tracks from their 2013 comeback album. They are likely going to have to hope that one of their songs from their golden period of 86-96 gets onto the pitch today to face a side who have seen off two dogged and determined opponents in Close Lobsters and Massive Attack. This could all depend on the coin and dice….

Sand On Fire (from Cowboys and Aliens, 1994) v Artists Only (from More Songs About Buildings and Food, 1978)

Sonic Youth v Edwyn Collins

A tie in which both managers have been effusive about the other side’s star qualities and abilities. Sonic Youth played a dangerous game in Round 1, fielding what to many was the less than stellar I Love You Golden Blue, but it was enough to fend off Billy Joel. The former Orange Juice vocalist came through a really tough opener, knocking out Associates whom many were tipping  for a good run. Both will likely require one of their best in this round to advance any further.

mp3 : The Empty Page (from Murray Street, 2002) v If You Could Love Me (from Gorgeous George, 1994)

The Velvet Underground v Talk Talk

A really strong showing, thanks to fielding Waiting For The Man, enabled the 60s veterans to easily see off the challenge of The National last time round and on paper, they should probably have enough to get through against one of the cult UK acts of the 80s, much of whose work as featured on the ICA is far removed from the pop hits that took them into the singles charts on a couple of occasions. You could call this an intiguing match-up….especially as the former are represented by a track that is more of a jam than a finished song….

mp3 : The Booker T (from Peel Slowly and See boxset, 1995) v The Rainbow (from Spirit of Eden, 1988)

Please have your votes in by Friday 16 February but voting from now on will close at 10pm (sitting up to midnight these past four Fridays has been tough going, especially when nothing has actually happened at the last minute!!).

As ever, you don’t have to get involved in all of the ties.

Tune in next Saturday for matches 5-8, one of which may well be the hardest choice of songs you’ll have faced….thus far!

JC