SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #67 : DAVID BYRNE

David Byrne was born in Dumbarton, Scotland on 14 May 1952. Two years after his birth, his parents moved to Hamilton in Ontario, Canada, and then to Arbutus, Maryland, in the United States, when he was 8 or 9 years old.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s good enough to give him a slot in this series.

His solo career has been a bit patchy compared to his years at the top with Talking Heads, but there’s a few decent moments on most of his records. This is from his 1994 LP which was called David Byrne.

mp3 : David Byrne – Angels

Along with Mrs Villain, I saw him play the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow when he toured this particular LP. To our great surprise and delight he included songs from his old band which made for a pretty special night.

JC

JUST LIKE BUSES….

Second successive day for a one-hour mix. Apologies if they’re not your sort of thing. I promise there won’t be another for a while.

I used to have a tradition of featuring one or more songs by Irish musicians every 17th of March. I thought I’d go one better today.

mp3 : Various – Songs For St Patrick’s Day 2017

Tracklist

The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
Shining Light – Ash
Fire On Babylon – Sinead O’Connor
Fashion Crisis Hits New York – The Frank and Walters
Blues for Ceausescu – Fatima Mansions
You Made Me Realise – My Bloody Valentine
Happy Day – Blink
More Endless Art – A House
She’s So Modern – Boomtown Rats
Something Wild – Rare
Alernative Ulster (Peel Session) – Stiff Little Fingers
In The Days Before Rock ‘n’ Roll – Van Morrison
Understand – Brian
Julie Ocean – The Undertones

JC

BONUS POSTING : JOHN WAYNE IS BIG LEGGY

Right…..this bonus posting came about after a throwaway comment by Swiss Adam yesterday. He was writing about Return To Brixton, a remix version of the song by The Clash that was released in 1990 on the back of the bass line being used to propel Dub Be Good To Me by Beats International to #1 in the singles chart.

SA said:-

CBS, sensing a hit, decided to get a top dj to remix Guns Of Brixton, for the club scene. Jeremy Healy was the dj and a 12″ single with three new versions was put out. It stormed into the charts reaching number 57. I don’t remember the clubs and bars of 1990 being awash with this version either. Well done CBS, good work.

To be honest I quite like the remixes, they present the song a bit differently, give it something else. They’re not as good as the original no, and yes, they’re probably for completists and the curious only.

Jeremy Healy was in Haysi Fantayzee previous to his dj career. I’ve been watching the Top Of The Pops re-runs from 1983 this year and the January editions had Haysi Fantayzee on several times doing Shiny Shiny,a sort of pirate, nursery rhyme, tribal, glam, anti-nuclear thumper. Having recorded it, I re-watched it a few times too. Two words – Kate Garner.

The thing is I don’t recall the song Shiny Shiny, but I do remember another Haysi Fantayzee single and one which was a massive hit:-

mp3 : Haysi Fantayzee – John Wayne Is Big Leggy

The song reached #11 in the charts in August 1982, The band performed it twice on Top of the Pops and on Saturday morning children’s television. The song, with its “Shotgun, gimme gimme low down;  fun boy, okay, showdown” intro was taken to be a nonsensical novelty song about cowboys.

Only it wasn’t; and there’s a case to be made that John Wayne Is Big Leggy is one of most subversive Top 40 hits of all time. I didn’t believe that when it was put to me by someone many years later in what was a drunken discussion. But its true….

It was an allegory for the treatment which the white settlers used on the Native American Indians. However, I wrote it like John Wayne having anal sex with a squaw.

Jeremy Healy of Haysi Fantayzee.

Yup….as wiki says, it’s combination of political satire and sexual humour wrapped in nursery rhyme style lyrics. John Wayne is having sexual intercourse with a Native American female but when his bandolier restricts their intimacy, she suggests he removes it. He refuses and suggests he sodomises her instead:

So she says to him – Take off that thing, It’s getting right between us.
Now listen honey I can’t do that, not even for you my sweetness.
Now Big John, if that’s a fact, then how’d you propose we do our act?
If that’s the way it’s gonna be, get the hell out of my tepee.
Now speckled hen just stop your squawkin’, Big Bad Rooster’s doin’ the talking.
I know a trick we ought to try, turn right over – you’ll know why.

The inspiration for this surreal imagining Healy reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.

People kept saying we were writing nonsense lyrics but we didn’t explain anything because, if they knew, it wouldn’t get played

Kate Garner of Haysi Fantayzee

Respect where respect is due for getting it past the censors at the BBC…..

Oh and I think Andrew Weatherall might have noted the title of the b-side:-

mp3 : Haysi Fantayzee – Sabres of Paradise

As I said earlier in the week, you do learn something new every day.

JC

WHAT IF IT DIDN’T MATTER THAT NO-ONE WAS TUNING IN?

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I’ve come to enjoy cobbling together the one-hour mixes these past few months. Up until now, they’ve tended to have some sense of purpose to them, whether for essential listening for lengthy plane journeys, offering a take on the outcome of the US presidential elections, Xmas, my young brother’s birthday or just a way of saying hello to someone.

In some ways this latest offering did have a purpose in that I thought I’d simply play a tune and without any advance planning try and come up with a song that either complemented it or offered something of a contrast. I imagined myself as a DJ on an local internet station, broadcasting around 3am when nobody is tuning in and offering no opportunity for listeners to interact. And here’s what emerged over 60 minutes:-

mp3 : Various – Working the Graveyard Shift

TRACKLIST

A Brighter Beat – Malcolm Middleton
I Wonder Why – The Heart Throbs
What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? – R.E.M.
Jo-Jo’s Jacket – Stephen Malkmus
Erase/Rewind – The Cardigans
Shimmer Shimmer – She’S HiT
Red Right Hand – Arctic Monkeys
Evil (Silver Alert Remix) – Grinderman feat Matt Berninger
She’s Lost Control (extended version) – Grace Jones
New England – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
Don’t Fence Me In – David Byrne
One Horse Town – The Thrills
Christ for President – Wilco
Hairstyle – Goldblade
Nirvana – Juliana Hatfield
Everything’s Ruined – Faith No More
Theme from ‘Batman’ – The Jam

I think you’ll see that around the 45 minute mark, I got temporarily distracted by reading something on social media about the latest alternative facts offered by the Donald. I hope you get as much out of listening as I did putting it together.

JC

BONUS POSTING : NEW BAD THINGS

Yesterday’s posting on Government Administrator by Eggs attracted this comment from Wirey:-

Amazing. Was in John Peels Festive 50 in 93. Great tune. Seek out ‘I Suck’ by New Bad Things from the same Festive 50, if you haven’t done so already.

And so I consulted one of my reference books – the one that deals with Peel’s Festive Fifties – and found something really interesting:-

1993. The first ever festive fifty to be broadcast in one show, on Christmas Day evening.

One of the undoubted highlights of the chart came with the appearance of New Bad Things with ‘I Suck; at number 16. Although the record would gain an official release (with different, and nowhere near as good, lyrics) in the following year, the original release proved impossible to track down in the UK even on import and, as Peel mentioned in the broadcast, it became commonly accepted that he possessed the only copy in the country , which suggests that those who voted for it here had either taped it from the radio or simply had it lodged blissfully in their memories, which would be understandable, or that the votes all came from abroad. There were, after all, 610 copies of the disc somewhere in the world. Anyway, it was a gratifyingly high placing for a unique record and one of those occasions where an entry genuinely reflected what the Peel Show was really about. The applause after the singer reveals he doesn’t have a job , incidentally, was sampled from Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokan album.

Next stop was wiki and here’s what it says:-

New Bad Things (later No Bad Things) were a Portland, Oregon indie rock band active during the 1990s. They recorded for Candy Ass Records, Rainforest Records, Lissy’s Records, Pop Secret, Punk in my Vitamins Records, Kill Rock Stars, and Freewheel Records.

The band formed in 1992 for a one-off opening set at a Sebadoh concert in Portland, and initially comprised Matthew “Hattie” Hein, Luke Hollywood, “Prince” Mattie Gaunt, Jasin Fell and Dave French. Their first single was “I Suck” (backed with “Concrete” and “Knott St.”), which was picked up by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, and reached number sixteen in the 1993 Festive 50. They recorded their debut album, Freewheel! in 1992, released on the local indie label Candy Ass Records. The album was described as having a “sloppy charm”, and drew comparisons with the likes of Beat Happening. Second album Society followed in 1994, released on the United Kingdom label Lissy’s. Ennui Go was released in 1997, by which time the band’s sound was more pop-oriented, and in the same year Hein left to pursue a solo career. An album of previously-unreleased and rare tracks, C-sides, was released in 1999, containing tracks ranging chronologically from their earliest recordings to their latest. Later band members included: Christine Denkewalter, Lars Holmstrom, Eric von Borstel and Andrew Leavitt. The band toured Europe twice and recorded John Peel sessions for Radio One in the UK each time. The band name changed to No Bad Things in 2001.

And then I went searching….and to my genuine surprise found the version of I Suck that was played by Peel was available via i-tunes

mp3 : New Bad Things – I Suck

It’s a superb five minutes of slacker pop.  Made me think musically of Violent Femmes and Pavement and lyrically could be linked to Half Man Half Biscuit (with a nod to Public Enemy about halfway through);  I don’t think they were entirely serious……

I also discovered that in 1997, their then label Lissy’s had issued a split single with one of Glasgow’s finest (albeit I don’t think it’s one of said Glasgow’s finest finest-ever few minutes)

mp3 : The Delgados – Sacré Charlamagne
mp3 : New Bad Things – Down
mp3 : New Bad Things – Caravan

Thanks for the head-up Wirey.  What’s most interesting is that the song which ended up in the Festive 50, and therefore arguably their best known bit of music, was actually the b-side of the debut single.

You learn something new every day!

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #113 : WIRE

A GUEST CONTRIBUTION FROM MIKE MELVILLE

Wire. A British rock institution rapidly approaching the 40th anniversary of their first gig as a 4 piece. And, after all that time, still making great albums.

Yet, funnily enough, they were a band who remained on the periphery of my experience for so long. Definitely someone I knew I should check out but hadn’t actually managed to properly do so until a few years ago. Fair to say, since I did, Wire have belatedly become something of an obsession.

For much of their lifespan, Wire have featured only four members – Colin Newman (guitar/vocals), Graeme Lewis (bass/vocals), Robert Grey (nee Gotobed) – drums) and Bruce Gilbert (guitar).

Yet, despite a remarkably stable line-up, intra-band tensions have always played a huge part in the Wire story. Wilson Neate’s book ‘Read & Burn: A Book About Wire’ is a superb telling of their history portraying it as a struggle for control between principally Newman and Gilbert.

Of course, the outline of Wire’s story is fairly well known. The late 70s produced three classic LPs in ‘Pink Flag’, ‘Chairs Missing’ and ‘154’ on which the band pretty much invented post punk. This purple patch however was curtailed by an acrimonious split with songs written for a fourth album.

Perhaps surprisingly after several years apart the band came together again in the mid 80s. Their 80s/90s output is less well regarded than the original trilogy but almost any band would consider the run of records from the ‘Snakedrill’ E.P. to ‘The First letter’’ to constitute a decent career.

Having lost drummer Gotobed during the band’s second incarnation, the internal dynamics of the remaining three members meant that they ceased activity for a second time in 1991.

Unexpectedly the band reconvened for live shows and to produce another LP ‘Send’ in the early Noughties. Since then, although Gilbert left the band for good after ‘Send’, the band have enjoyed the most active phase of their career releasing four albums and a mini-LP since 2008 with another album due at the end of March.

After a period of operating with three official members the band finally recruited guitarist Matthew Sims as a permanent member in time to record 2013’s ‘Change Becomes Us’.

Selecting a 10 track ICA from the band’s entire career would be next to impossible for two reasons. Firstly, any career long compilation is going to feel bitty and incomplete because there’s so much to choose from and the records cover such a lot of ground. Secondly, given how short some of the earlier material was, it would be a fairly short album! Perhaps JC will give special permission for a 16 or even 20 track 70s Wire ICA at some point.

(JC adds….Yup!!! Watch this space……)

So, for those reasons I’ve concentrated on 21st century Wire with the second aim of perhaps alerting some folk to the fact that Wire remain a potent creative force.

1 Doubles & Trebles (from ‘Change Becomes Us’)

Released in 2013, CBU is something of an oddity as the majority of the songs were actually written in the early 80s for the band’s planned fourth album. That record was never made because of the band’s first split although many of the songs were captured in rudimentary form on live albums ‘Document & Eyewitness’ and ‘Turns and Strokes’. What’s remarkable is that how recognisable many of the songs on CBU are from these scratchy live recordings.

‘Doubles & Trebles’, with its air of paranoia and 70s spy craft, went by the name of ‘Ally In Exile’ for most of the intervening 30 years between its conception and its eventual recording. Its basic riff has also spawned at least one other close relative from the ‘Send’ era in ‘I Don’t Understand It’.

2 Comet (from ’Send’)

A brutal return, ‘Send’ was constructed by Newman and Gilbert largely through cut and paste sampling (‘12XU’ is apparently liberally sprinkled throughout the record!) with Lewis’s and Grey’s parts emailed in. Frantic, punk rock filtered through the Young Gods, ‘Comet’ is a black story about the astronomer who discovers a comet that will obliterate all life on Earth.

3 Smash (from ‘Red Barked Tree’)

Although ‘Red Barked Tree’ is the album that opened up possibilities for Wire, ‘Smash’ is another relentless crash and bang tune. For my money RBT, which along with ‘Send’, is probably the best 21st century Wire album.

4 Split Your Ends (from ‘Wire’)

Are there many band that self-title their FOURTEENTH album? A typically perverse Wire move for an album that refines rather than redefines their sound.

‘Split Your Ends’ is one of the poppier moments off the album yet it’s a tune that still builds up a fair head of steam. Its essence is unmistakeably Wire.

5 Red Barked Tree (from Red Barked Tree’)

Wire have always had a dirgy side to their music and ‘Red Barked Tree’ fits in even if it deals in more organic textures than the band would normally use. Newman has said that this song was a big influence in plotting a way forward for the band.

6 One of Us (from ‘Object 47’)

The first post Gilbert album opened with the chorus ‘One of us is going to rue the day we met each other’. A coincidence?

With its driving bassline, ‘One of Us’ is a propulsive opening which signifies that Wire could escape the darkness and claustrophobia of ‘Send’.

It has to be said despite being littered with great moments, ‘Object 47’ isn’t not the most convincing record overall. Yet it was a critical record proving to the remaining three members that they could take Wire forward without Gilbert.

7 Spent (from ‘Send’)

More claustrophobia from ‘Send’ with its principal riff locked into a savage loop. An unexpected encore at the 2013 Tut’s show.

8 Desert Diving (from ‘Read and Burn 03’)

In deciding what to do with the tracks that the band had worked on around Gilbert’s departure, a decision was taken to put those songs that he had had the most influence on out as a four track E.P. keeping the remaining tracks for ‘Object 47’.

In truth the album might have benefitted from a couple of the E.P. tracks although the two records do have distinguishing characteristics with the E.P. having a more languid sound. Indeed, lead track ’23 Years Too Late’ is nearly 10 minutes long!

9 Fishes Bones (from ‘Nocturnal Koreans’)

Although last year’s mini-LP ‘Nocturnal Koreans’ originated from the same sessions as ‘Wire’ it is nothing like a record of cast-offs. Rather it demonstrates that the band hasn’t lost its sense for quality control.

The band differentiated the two records by virtue of the fact that ‘Wire’ was designed to be played live whereas NK features far more studio effects.

‘Fishes Bones’ is a typically off kilter Wire tune.

10 Harpooned (from ‘Wire’)

If ‘Split Your Ends’ comes from the more accessible end of ‘Wire’ then LP closer ‘Harpooned’ is coming from the opposite direction. Musically as harsh a song as anything they’ve done post ‘Send’ ‘Harpooned’ is an addictive black hole sucking everything into it. It’s also utterly astonishing live.

Bonus track:

11 Drill (live) (from ‘The Black Session’)

The only song Wire have played at the three shows I’ve seen them play since 2011. This version is taken from a show recorded for French radio around the time they toured ‘Red Barked Tree’.

MIKE

www.manicpopthrills.wordpress.com

A SONG SORT OF APPLICABLE TO MY LINE OF WORK

Given the title of this song and the fact its about the banality of life in the American civil service, it seems sort of appropriate that Eggs hailed from Washington DC.

mp3 : Eggs – Government Administrator

The four-piece released two albums and five singles between 1992 and 1994. I only know of them from this song being included on a Rough Trade compilation CD a few years back. I’ve managed to track down it’s b-side:-

mp3 : Eggs – Sugar Babe

Two decent enough without being truly outstanding songs.  They’ve not to be confused at all with yesterday’s featured band.

JC