INSPIRED BY JONNY’S RECENT GUEST POSTING

Jonny the Friendly Lawyer recently offered up Somewhere Around Midnight by Airborne Toxic Event as a song which makes for a great short story. He cited his own experience around the messy end of a relationship but still seeing his ex around NYC as he went about trying to rebuild his life, and how the lyrics from the song captured exactly what it felt like – the actual physical discomfort caused by heartbreak.

It got me thinking that Linger by The Cranberries covers similar ground in that it deals with a messy relationship and heartbreak.

I swore, I swore I would be true
And honey so did you
So why were you holding her hand?
Is that the way we stand?
Were you lying all the time?
Was it just a game to you?

The difference of course is that Somewhere Around Midnight is set at a time after the relationship has ended, with the protagonist unable yet to some to terms with it.  Linger is set at the horrific moment in time when the protagonist has just discovered that the relationship is doomed, and has just been hit hard with the realisation that they had been taken for a fool for a considerable amount of time.   One particular reviewer, Amanda Petrusich of The New Yorker, really nailed it by describing Linger as “a hazy, sentimental song about realising that you’re on the bummer end of a lopsided relationship”. 

I reckon most of us will likely have been there at some point in time, although in my case it was almost 40 years ago!

mp3: The Cranberries – Linger

I think it is one of the saddest songs ever written, with absolutely no sign of defiance on show, but this is more than made up for with one of the two tracks that can be found on the b-side of the 12″ single:-

mp3: The Cranberries – How (Radical Mix)

Never before, never again
You will ignore, I will pretend

Linger was a flop when first released in February 1993, but it went Top 20 a full twelve months later when it was re-released a full year later.  Similar belated success came the way of debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which finally reached #1 in the UK some 86 weeks after it was first released. The original version of How is one of the really outstanding tracks on said debut, but the b-side of both the 7″ and 12″ version of Linger could only be found on those pieces of vinyl until the album was given the re-released extended treatment in 2002:-

mp3: The Cranberries – Reason

It’s an excellent two minutes of pop music, and the fact it could be relegated to the status of a b-side demonstrates how many good songs the band had at the outset.

JC

THROWING OUT A REQUEST FOR A GUEST POSTING

The irregular indie-discos hosted by John Hunt of Butcher Boy always finish with an absolute gem of a song.  On quite a few occasions, it has been this:-

mp3: Le Tigre – Decaptacon

I don’t know much at all about Le Tigre, but I did pick up a copy, on CD, of the eponymous debut album, released in 1999, just so that I had Decaptacon ready to hand at any point in time.

Wiki opens up with:-

Le Tigre was an American electronic rock band formed by Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill), Johanna Fateman and Sadie Benning in 1998 in New York City. Benning left in 2000 and was replaced by JD Samson for the rest of the group’s existence. Le Tigre are known for their left-wing sociopolitical lyrics that often dealt with issues of feminism and the LGBT community. They mixed punk’s directness and politics with playful samples, eclectic pop, and lo-fi electronics.

I certainly enjoy much of the rest of the debut album, and this led me to picking up the two later two albums, but I really don’t have enough knowledge of the backstory to offer up any sort of commentary for a detailed post. But, I’m sure there must be someone among the TVV community who knows much more about Le Tigre, and if so, I’m hoping there would the possibility of a guest posting of some sort.

Fingers and toes are crossed.

JC

YOU’VE GOT TO PICK SOME PEOPLE UP

Four days after Lloyd Cole, we had a trip across to St Luke’s in the east end of the city to see The Wedding Present.

It was actually touch-and-go whether we would go out that night.  Both myself and Rachel have lingering effects of the recent bouts of COVID that came visiting recently – I’m not saying we have long-COVID or the likes, but the post-viral thing is proving to be a bit of a nuisance and we both find ourselves easily tired, especially as the day goes on.  Lloyd Cole had been fine as it was a sit-down gig, but the Weddoes felt like an altogether different proposition.

Having established that this was a ‘doors at 7pm, support band at 7.30 and main band at 8.30/8.45’ type of event, we took the decision to skip the support act and to refrain from any booze all evening, on the basis that it was the best way to make sure we got through the evening.

St Luke’s is one of my favourite places in Glasgow. It’s a converted church, just a few hundred yards from Barrowlands, which had been empty and derelict for decades. A stunning restoration saw it re-open as a venue, with a fabulous bar and restaurant alongside, in 2015.  The venue alone was very much behind making the effort to get along…oh and the fact too that the gig was part of the delayed 30th Anniversary tour of Seamonsters, with the promise that all the songs from the album would receive an airing.

Bang on 8.30pm, four musicians took to the stage, with a Philip Schofield look-a-like in centre stage…..no matter that it’s been at least a year since he decided to let the natural ageing process take care of his hair, I still can’t get used to seeing David Gedge as a silver-top.  Not a word was said as the first notes of Dalliance were struck up….and as soon as its final note was played, and before the audience got a chance to cheer, it was straight into Dare.  Without any let up, it was Suck, followed by Blonde, at which point it became clear that we were being treated to Seamonsters in its exact running order.   As it turned out, David didn’t utter a single word until Octopussy had finished, at which point he said good evening and how delighted he was to be back in Glasgow, adding that, as we were all aware, the full album had been played and the second half of the show would contain loads of old songs with some new stuff mixed in.  At that point in time, I really couldn’t have cared less about what was to follow as hearing Seamonsters, in its full sonic glory, had been a treat.  This line-up wasn’t really shaping up as indie-Weddoes in terms of jangly guitars, so I was intrigued as to what would be aired.

We would find out as the show progressed that bassist Melanie Howard was suffering from a touch of laryngitis and that she couldn’t do her usual vocal parts, meaning that David had to carry things on his own.  There’s no doubt this led to a late change of plans in terms of the set list, with just one of the really new songs being aired, the as yet unreleased, X Marks The Spot, which is scheduled to be the next single in the 24 Songs project of 2022 in which a newly pressed 45 is released each calendar month. Otherwise, it was classic after classic after classic after classic.  I can’t give you the full rundown of the songs aired or the order they were played, but I do know Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, A Million Miles, and My Favourite Dress all took us all back to the early days, while there were also airings for a couple of my favourites from more recent albums:-

mp3: The Wedding Present – Deer Caught In Headlights
mp3: The Wedding Present – It’s For You

The former has been a staple of the live shows since its release on the Valentina album in 2012, but the latter is something that I can only ever recall hearing once before, and that was many years ago. My wee heart skipped a beat when David announced it….

California and Blue Eyes represented the 1992 singles efforts, and both sounded better now than they did 30 years on, testament to the tightness and skills of the band, and indeed from whatever pact David Gedge has made with a supernatural being to ensure his voice improves with age….or maybe he’s just got better at picking the songs which still suit his range.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the ridiculously good way the show ended – Kennedy, Crawl, and Bewitched, with the final song just about taking the roof off the place at that point when it goes from where you think it is just about to fade out to all-out sonic attack.

mp3: The Wedding Present – Bewitched (live)

Sadly, not from the St Luke’s show, but a version recorded at the Reading Festival in 1996 for a show broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and later included as part of the stupendous 6xCD The Complete Peel Sessions 1986-2004.

The gig concluded bang on 90 minutes, as ever without an encore, but enabling us to catch whatever mode of public transport would get us home, and indeed plenty of time for a visit to the merchandise stall for some vinyl and something a bit more unusual:-

The fact that we now have matching travel mugs, surely, is all the evidence you need to prove that myself and Rachel have left our working-class roots well and truly behind us.

JC

I WOULDN’T SAY IT IF I DIDN’T MEAN IT

The next couple of days will see some short reflections on what proved to be a couple of outstanding gigs in Glasgow last week.

First up was a much-delayed appearance from Lloyd Cole on Monday 25 April at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (GRCH)  It was originally scheduled for just over two years previously at the City Halls, a different location not all that often used for rock/pop events, but was an early victim of the widespread cancellations of events as a result of the COVID outbreak.  Indeed, Lloyd reflected on this while on stage, reminiscing that he’d come over from his home in Massachusetts at the beginning of March 2010 for what was meant to be a 31-date tour across Europe, only to have it halted just seven shows in.  There had been two subsequent attempts to reschedule, both of which were impacted from the fact that COVID showed no signs of diminishing, and indeed when the time and opportunity finally presented itself in 2022, the tour has had to be much-truncated and in some cases, such as Glasgow, the venue had to be shifted.

The one slight disappointment from a selfish point of view was that myself and Rachel’s tickets for the 2020 show had been bought within minutes of them going on sale, and we had snapped up two seats in the third row, slap bang in the centre.  Our tickets for the new venue were still very good, but slightly further back and slightly to one side of the auditorium, although to be fair, in a venue as grand and acoustically excellent as the GRCH, it was only a small gripe and didn’t detract from a hugely enjoyable evening.

The tour has been given the title ‘From Rattlesnakes to Guesswork’, with the sales pitch indicating there would be songs from all across his career, but with an emphasis on the debut album with the Commotions and his most recent solo release from 2019.  Lloyd took to the stage, at 8.45pm, going straight into Past Imperfect, the opening track from the much underappreciated album he released in 2000 with a new, and what proved to be short-lived backing band, The Negatives.  It’s long been one of my favourites and so, as far as I was concerned, it had got off to the perfect start.

mp3: Lloyd Cole – Past Imperfect

To just about everyone’s surprise, he aired Rattlesnakes very early on in the set, to the extent that a few stragglers, arriving for what I’m assuming they thought would be a 9pm start on the back of an appearance by a support act, were greeted from the stage with the words, “Good evening, welcome to the show…just to mention that I’m sorry, but you’ve missed Rattlesnakes’, an indication that Lloyd was in relaxed mood and enjoying the way the audience, which wasn’t quite a sell-out, was responding so enthusiastically.

Ten songs into the set, and he told us he was taking a short break of 20 minutes, after which he would return with someone who ‘would show up my guitar playing as being that of a well-meaning amateur’ for the second half of the show.

He was as good as his word, and to just about everyone’s expectation, his return saw him flanked by Neil Clark, long-time collaborator from the days of the Commotions and who also played on Guesswork, and they started things with this:-

mp3: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?

The next 80 minutes or so seemed to go by in a flash.  Lloyd and Neil were on blistering form, delivering a wonderful set in front of a home audience with, as they said on a couple of occasions, a few of their own friends, former colleagues and family sitting in the auditorium.  All told, they played a further twenty songs, taking the show right through to ten past eleven, which is almost unheard of at gigs in Glasgow, with most venues having curfews around 10.30/10.45…but then again GRCH isn’t in a residential area and so the council are a bit more relaxed when it comes to noise and disturbance. As I commented on Facebook in the immediate aftermath, it made for a good night for taxi drivers, as most of the last trains had left the stations and buses don’t go to all parts of the city and surrounding areas.

Lloyd Cole celebrated his 61st birthday a few months back. He doesn’t look anything like it, and his voice is as good as it’s ever been, capable of sustaining him night after night for sets that are about two hours in length.  OK, he doesn’t expend any energy rushing around the stage, never moving more than a few feet from his microphone, and the biggest effort comes when changing between his three acoustic guitars.  Neil Clark, now that he’s bald and wears glasses, looks more like a middle manager in some sort of office setting, but his guitar work remains a class above most of his peers and there is real dynamism and chemistry between him and his singer-songwriter buddy.  Together, they made it look effortless, when in fact the professionalism on show can really only be achieved thanks to many hours of preparation and rehearsal.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve now seen Lloyd Cole play on a stage somewhere, having taken in gigs in many towns in Scotland, as well as a show in Dublin in 2000. He’s never disappointed and to finish his main-set off with three great songs from the Commotions era – Hey Rusty, Perfect Skin and Lost Weekend – only to come back with a short encore which was rounded off by Forest Fire, meant that nobody was left feeling short-changed and firmly of the view that the two-year delay was worth waiting for.

Looking back over the set-list, it turned out there were ten songs from the Commotions era and two songs from the collaboration with the Negatives, with the other eighteen being spread, but not evenly, across various solo albums, with four taken from Standards (2013) and five from Guesswork (2019). These were among the highlights:-

mp3: Lloyd Cole – Period Piece
mp3: Lloyd Cole – The Afterlife

He’s still got it…..and hopefully he’ll be back on our shores again before too long.

JC

MAY DAZE

It’s a new month.  You know the drill by now…….

mp3: Various – This One Is Different

Slow Hands – Interpol
Brand New Cadillac – The Clash
Hand In Glove – Christian Kjellvander & Lise Westzynthus
Time For The Rest Of Your Life – Strangelove
Too Drunk To Fuck – Nouvelle Vague
Love Me Like You Do – The Magic Numbers
Keep On Keepin’ On (Die On Your Feet Mix) – The Redskins
Orgasm Addict – Buzzcocks
Caught Out There – Kelis
Doers – Bodega
The Black Hit Of Space – Sarah Nixey
Stereotypes – Blur
A Song From Under The Floorboards – The Wedding Present
There There My Dear – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Date With The Night – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Age Of Consent – New Order
R U A Feminist? – Breakfast Muff

Five seconds beyond sixty minutes. Quite a few cover versions (5) this time around.  I’m still very willing to take guest contributions for June and beyond if anyone can be motivated.

JC

 

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 45)

Renegade : The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith was published in 2008.  It is very revealing that MES chose to begin the book with the events of 7 May 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona.

In a nutshell, three-fifths of The Fall walked out on the band just four dates into a tour of the USA.  Ben Pritchard, Steve Trafford and Spencer Birtwistle decided they could take no more.  The opening pages of Renegade reprint an interview given by Pritchard on his return to England, but it is interspersed and interrupted by MES telling his side of the story.

It all meant, while committed to a tour of the USA, The Fall were down to a duo of MES and his wife, Elena Poulou.   He turned to Narnack, the record company to which the band was signed in America, and arrangements were made to sort out a new line-up, consisting of Orpheo McCord (drums), Rob Barbato (bass) and Tim Presley (guitar).   Two days after Phoenix, this latest version of The Fall took to the stage in San Diego and went on to complete the remaining thirteen shows on the tour with no mishaps.  Not only that, but the line-up, augmented by a second bassist in the shape of Dave Spurr, would gig constantly in the UK and Europe throughout 2006 and likewise in the first half of 2007, as well as going into the studio where a new album would be recorded.

Reformation Post TLC was released on Slogan Records on 12 February 2007.  MES said at the time that TLC was his shorthand way of referring to the musicians who had left him seemingly high and dry in Arizona. It was shorthand for ‘traitors, liars and cunts’.

The album got somewhat mixed reviews, but all told, it was something of a miracle that it got made at all.  The firings, sackings and walk-outs over the years had increasingly become the calling card of The Fall, and there’s every chance that if the Arizona walk-out had been in the UK, then MES might have struggled to pull a band together so quickly.  As it was, the incident only made him determined to immediately prove his critics wrong (again!!), but it also did knock some sense into him given that, after the trio of Americans took their leave in mid-2007 on the back of a well-received set at the Primavera Festival in Barcelona, The Fall would end up enjoying the most stable period, members-wise, in all of its history.

The Reformation-era line-up ended up being responsible for just one single, released on 12″ and CD in early April 2007:-

mp3: The Fall – Reformation! (Uncut)
mp3: The Fall – Over Over (Rough Mix)
mp3: The Fall – My Door Is Never (Rough Mix)

And for a change, instead of an mp3 of the edited version of Reformation which made up the fourth track on the single, here’s the video:-

All three songs can be found on the parent album, and as you can see from the titles, the versions of Over Over and My Door Is Never which were put out on the single, were not the finished mixes. All in all, it’s really no more than a bit of promo back-up to support the album a couple of months after it had originally hit the shops, as well as during the UK tour that was underway at the time.

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #305: SLUTS OF TRUST

Sluts of Trust were formed in 2002 by John McFarlane (guitar/vocals) and Anthony O’Donnell (drums).

An early gig at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow saw members of Aereogramme in the audience, who recommended them to their label, Chemikal Underground.

They would go on to record two singles and one album for the label, We Are All Sluts of Trust which was released in April 2004. But the studio was never really their forte, as indeed acknowledged on the Chem website:-

“…a thunderously enjoyable duo whose live shows were a collision of AC/DC, White Stripes, Queen and Sparks – they were that good. Recording their debut album in the old Chem19 with Paul Savage over a series of mostly live takes, ‘We Are All Sluts Of Trust’ is a terrifically sleazy proposition: songs like ‘Greatest Gift’, ‘Piece O’ You’ and ‘Lets…’ are, if we’re going to be brutally honest, relentlessly sexual and none the worse for it.”

I don’t ever recall seeing Sluts of Trust given that they appear to be a duo who left an impression, good or bad.

They undertook an American tour as support to burlesque dance group Suicide Girls – something I remember reading about and which put my oh-so politically correct self right off them.

In early 2005, Anthony O’Donnell took his leave of the band and was replaced by Roo Harris. The new line-up played extensively that year, including as special guests of Bloc Party during a lengthy European tour.

There hasn’t been much activity from the band since then, and there’s certainly been no new music for what is now 18 years. I don’t have a copy of the album, but two of the band’s songs were included on Dramatis Personae, a compilation CD/DVD issued by Chem to celebrate its first eleven years of activities:-

mp3: Sluts of Trust – Piece O’ You

JC

KEEPING A PROMISE

A few weeks back, in offering up the opportunity to enjoy Hey Boy Hey Girl, I made reference to the fact it has been ripped from the Surrender 20th Anniversary vinyl box set.

Like all carefully curated box sets, this one things to really make the purchase worthwhile:-

– the original album, on 2 x vinyl records, transparent coloured (if that’s such a thing!)
– a 12″ mini-album, with four previously unreleased Secret Psychedelic Mixes of five songs
– a further 12″ single, containing three b-sides from the era together with two remixes by Sasha and Soulwax
– a DVD with three promos of singles lifted from Surrender along with the footage of their Glastonbury 2000 performance, which is still reckoned to have drawn the biggest ever crowd to the Pyramid Stage.
– a 28-page full size booklet with photos, essays and observations from musicians and others involved in the making of the album
– four 12″ x 12″ art prints

I was very tempted to offer up the 21-minute Secret Psychedelic Mix of Out of Control, but I feared I might have lost a few of you, possibly for all time. It is an amazing piece of music, but listening to it all the way through will leave you exhausted, especially if you dance along all the way through. Instead, here’s something a bit more gentle and soothing:-

mp3 : The Chemical Brothers – Dream On (Secret Psychedelic Mix)

The original version is the closing song on Surrender and features a vocal from Jonathan Donohue of Mercury Rev. The booklet in the box set reveals, surprisingly as far as I’m concerned, that it was the first track recorded and completed for the album.

JC

FAC 3 : GIG POSTER

Designed by Peter Saville to promote a gig on Friday 20 October 1978.

FAC3 was actually intended at one point to be a single by The Tiller Boys, but the plans were shelved.  However, as part of the Use Hearing Protection box set, a ‘white label’ 12″ record was included, containing what would have been the three tracks:-

mp3: The Tiller Boys – Big Noise From The Jungle
mp3: The Tiller Boys – Slaves and Pyramids
mp3: The Tiller Boys – What Me Worry?

Their inclusion in the box set, however, is not the first time the tracks have been available on vinyl, as they were issued on the New Hormones label, as a 7″ single, in February 1980.

But who were The Tiller Boys? The basic info is that they were an experimental trio with Krautrock/Eno tendencies, consisting of Francis Cookson, Eric Random and Pete Shelley. The three tracks above certainly bear that description out.

It is also reckoned that they played no more than five or six gigs all told, of which Pete Shelley participated in two or three…..the memories of those involved are a tad foggy. It certainly does seem, however, that any folk who went along expecting something akin to the post-punk pop of Buzzcocks were left bewildered and with something of a pounding headache after each short set.

The three tracks issues by New Hormones were the only music ever commercially released by The Tiller Boys.

JC

YOU HAD A KIND FACE

Imaginary Compilation Album #17 was posted in June 2015.

It featured my take on Butcher Boy, a band whose roots are in Irvine, a new town built in the 60s in Ayrshire some 30 miles south-west of Glasgow, and whose residents were primarily families from my home city who had moved as a result of their tenement houses being demolished and/or the main bread winner (usually the man in those days) moving to where work could be found.  Two other such new towns were built a bit nearer Glasgow at the same time – Cumbernauld and East Kilbride – with the latter becoming very well-known in music circles thanks to the emergence of Aztec Camera and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Butcher Boy came together in the middle part of the 2000s, when lead singer, guitarist and songwriter John Hunt gathered some like-minded souls to initially record an EP and album for London-based How Does It Feel To Be Loved.  I mentioned in the ICA piece that I picked up the debut album, Profit In Your Poetry, at the end of 2007 on my return from a spell living and working in Toronto having read all sorts of good things about the band and that their influences very much seemed to tick all my boxes with The Smiths, Tindersticks, Felt, Belle & Sebastian, R.E.M. and Go-Betweens all mentioned.

Having then given the album a rave review on the old blog, a member of the band got in touch to invite me along to a live show and to let me know a second album, React or Die (2009) was on the way. Cutting a long story short, all this led to me becoming something of a devotee of Butcher Boy but also being in the very lucky position of being able to become good friends with various band members and others who helped out behind the scenes, to the extent that I ended up putting on a gig in 2011 to help with the promotion of their third album, Helping Hands, which was issued that year by Damaged Goods Records.

It was inevitable that Butcher Boy would feature early on once the ICA concept for this blog had been established.  The ten tracks I picked out were all taken from the three studio albums, and it was compiled at a time when there was no clear indication of the band writing and recording any further material. All the musicians had busy and important careers beyond Butcher Boy, and trying to get all eight of them together, including a cellist, violinist and violist in addition to the usual guitars, drums, bass and keyboards, was proving to be an ever increasingly complex challenge.

As it turned out, the EP Bad Things Happen When It’s Quiet, again on Damaged Goods, was issued to coincide with Record Store Day 2017, with all three songs, in this fan’s opinion, taking them to new heights thanks to a guest co-vocalist and a choir involved in the sessions.

The outcome of chats with some band members between that release and across the period of the next couple of years had me convinced that Butcher Boy were unlikely to get back together again, but I consoled myself with the fact that they had left behind an exceptional body of work. And then, to my delight and surprise, I was told that the writer Pete Paphides had been in touch with a serious suggestion.

Pete had fallen heavily for the music of Butcher Boy and, having got his label Needle Mythology up and running, said that he would like to release a Butcher Boy compilation on vinyl, especially given that all three studio albums were only issued on CD.  Suitably stirred, the band got back together in 2020 to return, in stages, to the studio and record three new songs, two of which were originals and the other a cover of a track written by Keith Martin, a doyen of the Irvine post-punk music scene, and a friend of many in Butcher Boy.  Keith had very sadly passed away in 2018, at the age of 51.   He was the subject of this wonderful tribute by Craig McAllister, over at Plain or Pan.

The whole COVID thing, as well as the BREXIT nonsense causing issues with pressing plants in Europe, has led to delays in the issuing of the planned compilation, but it finally hit the shops last week. It is a thing of real beauty, both in terms of the 180gm vinyl and the achingly gorgeous sleeve notes, penned by award-winning author John Niven, another who was central to that Irvine scene.

You Had A Kind Face consists of twelve songs, with a bonus 7″ single containing the three tracks recorded in 2020.  The CD version has all fifteen tracks included.

Here’s the thing, and why I opened up with a reference to ICA#17;  ten songs from the three studio albums have been chosen for the compilation, and it turns out seven of those ten had been picked out by myself back in 2015 for that old ICA.  Even more remarkable is that the first three songs I had picked out to open the ICA turned out to be the same three, and in the exact same order, as selected to open You Had A Kind Face.  When I pointed this out in a text message to John Hunt, he sent a reply, complete with a bunch of appropriate emojis, that maybe he should have given me a call early in the process, given that he, the band members, and Pete Paphides, had all deliberated for weeks on end as to what should be included and indeed what the best running order would be.

Given all this, it can’t be any surprise that I am really loving the new compilation, to the extent that not much else is being played on the Villain Towers turntable just now.  The original songs have been given the remastering treatment, at Abbey Road studios no less, to wonderful effect, while the new songs on the bonus 7″ are a real joy, especially as I had long ago given up on hearing anything fresh after the 2017 EP.

Butcher Boy have always made music that is a cut above the ordinary, and You Had A Kind Face is a fitting and deserved release which will hopefully bring more of the attention and fulsome praise that should have been getting heaped on them from the outset.

mp3: Butcher Boy – Sunday Bells

This is one of the three album tracks that you’ll find on the new compilation that I didn’t manage to squeeze onto the ICA back in 2015.  Looking back, I have no idea how that state of affairs came about, but then again, I don’t know which of the other songs it could have replaced.

It was originally included on React or Die, which is probably the band’s true masterpiece and which no serious record collection should be without. What am I saying?   No serious record collection should be without any of the three studio albums, nor the new compilation.

JC

SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 57)

A GUEST POSTING by JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

April 26 is my 30th anniversary with Goldie the Friendly Therapist. So, it’s been half a lifetime since I’ve had to deal with romantic travails. But there’s one song that rockets me back to 1985, when I found out my girlfriend was cheating on me. We had an awful split and seeing her around the city afterwards was miserable. ‘Sometime Around Midnight’ is the only song I know by Airborne Toxic Event, but it captures exactly what it felt like. Hopefully you’re unfamiliar with the feelings described–the actual physical discomfort caused by heartbreak–but I suspect we’ve all been there.

And it starts
Sometime around midnight
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
For a minute or two

As you stand
Under the bar lights
And the band plays some song about forgetting yourself for a while
And the piano’s this melancholy soundtrack to her smile
And that white dress she’s wearing, you haven’t seen her
For a while

But you know
That she’s watching
She’s laughing, she’s turning
She’s holding her tonic like a cross
The room suddenly spinning, she walks up and asks how you are
So you can smell her perfume
You can see her lying naked in your arms

And so there’s a change
In your emotions
And all of these memories come rushing like feral waves to your mind
Of the curl of your bodies, like two perfect circles entwined
And you feel hopeless, and homeless, and lost in the haze of the wine

Then she leaves
With someone you don’t know
But she makes sure you saw her, she looks right at you and bolts
As she walks out the door
Your blood boiling, your stomach in ropes
And then your friends say “What is it? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Then you walk
Under the streetlights
And you’re too drunk to notice that everyone is staring at you
You just don’t care what you look like
The world is falling around you

You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her

You know that she’ll break you in two

mp3: The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight

That was all a long time ago.   This is Goldie and my song now:-

mp3 : Cat Power – Sea of Love

JTFL

 

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Fifty-six: METAL POSTCARD (MITTAGEISEN)

I’m going to all academic on you today by lifting loads of words from Masterclass dot com .  I’m not a subscriber, but this article was available to read online, seemingly free of charge.  I’ll likely get into trouble for it.

“Post-punk music is an offshoot of punk rock that embraces greater ambition in terms of harmony, melody, rhythm, and lyrical content while retaining punk energy and urgency. Prominent post-punk bands such as Gang of Four, Wire, Joy Division, The Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, Sonic Youth, and Fugazi helped set the stage for the alternative rock explosion of the 1990s.

The post-punk movement closely overlaps with new wave music. While the new wave genre is more closely linked to popular bands like Talking Heads, New Order, Depeche Mode, and Duran Duran, it shared many musicians with the post-punk scene. For instance, Joy Division is often referred to as post-punk, but following the death of singer Ian Curtis, the remaining musicians carried on as New Order, which is widely considered a new wave group. Due to the close relationship between genres, post-punk is sometimes referred to as “no wave” music.

The post-punk scene arose from punk rock. Many post-punk musicians grew up as fans of bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, New York Dolls, and Minor Threat. In some cases, they were actual members of these bands, such as Public Image Ltd frontman John Lydon, who is perhaps better known as Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols.

* Post-punk spread: Post-punk music spread throughout the English-speaking world between the late ’70s and the mid ’90s. Major geographic hubs included New York, Washington, Boston, and Chicago, and the English cities of London, Manchester, and Leeds.

* Slight shift from punk: Some post-punks made only a slight departure from the raucous sounds of punk rock. Art rock-influenced groups like The Slits, Pere Ubu, and The Raincoats often sounded on the brink of collapse. Similar groups like The Birthday Party and The Stooges also brought a heaviness, courtesy of respective singers Nick Cave and Iggy Pop.

* Modernization: Other post-punk groups modernized for the 1980s, incorporating new technology, atmospheric layering, and pop hooks. Such groups included synth-pop acts like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and New Order.

* Adding rhythm: Yet another branch of post-punk made rhythm a core part of their identity. Bands influenced by dub and reggae included The Police and the Talking Heads, as well as electronic music pioneers in the Krautrock scene, such as Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Neu!

* A sophisticated sound: The post-punk era continued well into the 1990s and beyond, as groups like Fugazi, Girls Against Boys, Superchunk, Sonic Youth, The Fall, and many more combined punk’s DIY spirit with increased musical sophistication and a subtle knack for pop hooks.

Post-punk is an expansive genre, and different branches contain idiomatic characteristics.

1. Direct punk influence: Many post-punk groups retain the vast majority of the punk ethos and raw power. Groups like Killing Joke, Mission of Burma, and The Birthday Party can sound as intense as standard punk bands.

2. Appreciation for art rock: A large number of post-punks came of age via the psychedelic and avant-garde flirtations of 1970s acts like The Velvet Underground, Throbbing Gristle, David Bowie, and Brian Eno. Pere Ubu, Devo, Bauhaus, and The Raincoats carried on the experimental spirit of these musicians.

3. Embrace of synthesizers: Some post-punk hinges entirely around guitars. Other post-punk acts readily incorporated synthesizer technology, including Depeche Mode and goth rockers The Cure.

4. Jangly guitars: Post-punks who resisted synthesizers were likely to embrace trebly guitars that produced a Byrds-style “jangle.” Such groups included R.E.M., Orange Juice, and The dB’s.

5. Pop hooks: In many cases, punk rockers resisted commercial success at every turn. Many post-punks were far more open to such success and even actively chased it. The pop hooks of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Buzzcocks, R.E.M., Pixies, and Talking Heads differed from the traditional punk era.

6. “Angular” sounds: Post-punk groups like Wire, Gang of Four, and Fugazi were described as “angular.” This appears to refer to their treble-focused guitar amps with minimal reverb, and their choice of guitar riffs and chord progressions that steered clear of the folk music that defined much of early rock ‘n’ roll. This aural sensation would carry on to more contemporary post-punk bands, like Interpol and The Knife.

7. Strong support from music journalists: Unlike other 1980s genres, such as dance pop and hair metal, post-punk received steady praise from music critics. Outlets supported post-punk records like Wire’s 154, PiL’s Metal Box, Gang of Four’s Entertainment!, and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. Groups like the new wave Talking Heads, the gothic rock combo The Cure, and iconoclasts Fugazi were also commended.

It’s clearly written from an American perspective, and I’m guessing by someone quite young who is looking back at things without having lived through the era.  There are some interesting points made along the way, but some of the examples highlighted to support the conclusions seem baffling.

For instance, Siouxsie and the Banshees get a mention late on under the section on pop hooks, which I can understand if you focus solely on the later-era, but it fails to acknowledge and recognise that one of their earliest songs, as included on The Scream (1978) is, in this music fan’s opinion, the definitive post-punk song of them all:-

mp3: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)

I always forget that this was re-recorded with German lyrics and released as a double-A sided single, along with Love In A Void, in September 1979, probably because I don’t own a copy of that particular 7″.  But as you know, not owning things doesn’t stop activities at TVV:-

mp3: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Mittageisen (Metal Postcard)

Let’s complete things with the faster-paced Peel Session version, first broadcast on 5 December 1977:-

mp3: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Metal Postcard (Peel Session)

 

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 44)

Thankfully, the release of the Rude (All The Time) EP was quickly followed up by a new single.

26 September 2005.  It’s a double-A sided single, with a cover version on one side and an original on the other:-

mp3: The Fall – I Can Hear The Grass Grow
mp3: The Fall – Clasp Hands

It was issued on yet another different and new label – Slogan Records – an imprint of Sanctuary Records, which at the time was a hugely successful operation in the UK and under whom, via various other imprints, The Fall had enjoyed the fruits of some excellent box sets/compilations, not least The Complete Peel Sessions in 2004.

It proved to be a lead-off single for the 24th studio album, Fall Heads Roll, which would be released exactly a week later.

I Can Hear The Grass Grow dated from 1967, by the psychedelia pop band, The Move, fronted by Roy Wood. It had been a #5 hit back in the day.

Clasp Hands was attributed to Mark E Smith and Steve Trafford, the latest in what was proving to be a long line of bassists in The Fall. He joined what had been an otherwise steady line-up alongside Elena Poulou and Ben Pritchard, while the drums on the album were played by a returning Spencer Birtwhistle, back in the fold for a second stint to take over from Dave Milner.

There were just 1,000 copies of the 7″ pressed up, and you can look to pay upwards of £30 these days is you fancy picking up a second-hand copy.

Incidentally, the reason I keep mentioning all the different and returning personnel, as well as the umpteen labels on which The Fall ended up being part of, is to illustrate just how chaotic it all was, with musicians not really knowing what was happening with each passing recording session while MES kept complete control in the manner he liked.  I’ll return to that very subject again next week……

 

JC

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #304: SLOW WEATHER

Second week running that a band which is part of the Last Night From Glasgow roster makes its debut on the blog via this ridiculously long-running series.

Slow Weather consists of Chris McCrory and Annie Booth.

Chris McCrory is something of a mainstay of the Glasgow music scene, as a producer and composer but probably best as the frontman of Catholic Action,  a band whose sound has been described as being deeply indebted to classic rockers like Status Quo, The Cars and T. Rex, with two albums  to date, In Memory Of….(2017) and Celebrated By Strangers (2020) being issued by the Liverpool-based Modern Sky UK label.

Annie Booth, is described on Bandcamp as a modern folk singer, performer and songwriter, with a flair for the nostalgic and the melancholy.  She has been a member of Mt. Doubt (another act on LNFG) since 2015, while forging a solo career through two albums, An Unforgiving Light (2015) and the just-released Lazybod, along with the Spectral EP (2019).

Spectral was the first time that Chris McCrory had produced music by Annie Booth and the two of them enjoyed things so much that they started writing songs together, all of which led to them deciding to form Slow Weather whose debut, and thus far, sole EP, Clean Living, was released in November 2020.

The sound is a long way from Catholic Action’s rock roots and while perhaps it is closer to what you would find on Annie Booth’s solo material, there’s certainly enough going on across its five tracks to make it worth listening to a few times over.   This was the lead-off digital single:-

mp3: Slow Weather – Great White Male

If you like what you’re hearing today, you can listen to more at Souncloud via this link, and then you could think about putting in an order via LNFG…..but your own close-by independent record shop should be able to help out

JC

SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 56)

I make no apologies for bringing back Aidan Moffat for a second successive chapter, but this is more of a horror story than anything else.

Arab Strap really did come back with a huge bang in 2021.  As Days Get Dark, the first album in sixteen years, is superb. This is one of its stand-out tracks:-

mp3: Arab Strap – Fable of the Urban Fox

They came in from the country
They were hounded from their homes
They’d always dreamed about the city
With its towers and spires and domes
So the dog fox and his vixen
Vowed to flee their savage fields
To a land of hope and glory
And a future it could yield

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

But the city didn’t want the foxes, the city didn’t care
Their help and hope and heart and hearth they dreamed of weren’t there
So they scavenged and they foraged
Slept from shitty place to places
Among the hostile architecture
And all the hostile faces

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

And the daily papers found their plight and presence most concerning
Their headlines screamed enough’s enough, we’re overcome with vermin
These foxes skulk around our streets
The locals live in fear
These scruffy scrounging parasites
They don’t belong ’round here

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

One night they met a bulldog
He said, “What you doing here, then?”
They told him of the redcoats, of their fallen the hunted brethren
They said, “There is no going home now, the land we love is cruel”
The dog said, “Fuck off back to Foxland, these streets are fucking full”

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

One cold and hungry night, they find their dinner sitting pretty
The foxes can’t believe their luck, who keeps chickens in the city?
But the chicken lover sees them prowl his pricey habitat
So he bashes both their heads in with his trusty cricket bat

There’s no rest however far we roam
Somewhere on this earth, we will find home

A few months after the album was released, a new version of the song was recorded, with a marginally edited lyric that made it radio-friendly. It’s a minute or so shorter than the original and was released as a digital single, which I would hope you will buy from here.  It’s also where you’ll have the chance to view the promo video, which itself is an excellent short film.

mp3: Arab Strap – Fable of the Urban Fox (Check/Fault Mix)

In the accompanying press release for the new version, Aidan Moffat said:-

“When I wrote the lyrics for this in 2019, I was hoping its obvious allegorical message might not be relevant by the time it came out, but sadly it seems the lack of humanity in government and influence of rightwing media continues to prevail. We had a lot of good feedback for the album version, so it was suggested we release it as a single, but we felt it was a bit too long and attempted to trim it—but one thing led to another, and pretty soon it became a proper remix with new parts and drums, much like we did with ‘(Afternoon) Soaps’ back in the old days. So it’s the same song in a new outfit—a tighter fit for a new season, suitable for all occasions.”

Did anyone mention Priti Patel and Rwanda?

JC

BONUS HI-QUALITY VINYL RIPS

Having finished typing up the posting which appeared yesterday, I was immediately struck by the need to make it up for inflicting The Cowboy Song on you.

It took me all of a minute to reach into the big cupboard of vinyl, and in particular where the 7″ singles are stacked, somewhat precariously it has to be admitted, as I’ve long ago run out of the required storage space.

mp3: Orange Juice – Blue Boy
mp3: Orange Juice – Love Sick

It’s a stupendous piece of vinyl, with two of the very best Edwyn Collins compositions on offer. It has the catalogue number Postcard 80-2, and I’d love to say that my copy is a first pressing. If it was, it would have a blue label, and it would be housed in a sleeve in which the members of Orange Juice, and various friends, were supposed to hand-colour the drawing, but almost all of them ended up just being scribbled on akin to what you can see in the photo above.

As it is, my copy is the second pressing, which came with brown labels and was housed in the standard dark brown Postcard sleeve…but even then, my copy, which was picked up second-hand about twenty years ago, is housed in a plain white sleeve.  But given I paid no more than £2 for it as part of a job-lot of Scottish jingly-jangly and pop singles being sold by someone who reckoned they no longer had any need for their vinyl, then I can’t really complain.  As you’ll hear, apart from the very odd and faint pop, the vinyl on both sides of the single is in excellent condition.

I reckon that’s the first time I’ve popped the vinyl onto the turntable since acquiring the new equipment a couple of years ago.  It sounded tremendous, and I really did pick up things much more clearly than I normally do when putting it through the i-pod as an mp3.  Or maybe I just gave my ears a good clean earlier on?

JC

NOISE ANNOYS?

The question posed by the title of the posting relates to the b-side of the 45 I’m having a look today:-

mp3: Public Image Ltd – The Cowboy Song

It borders on unlistenable, but then again, I’m assuming that was the whole point of it.  Julian Cope, over at Head Heritage, provides as perfect a description as there is:-

“The Cowboy Song”is a throwaway single that sounds like it was ALREADY tossed into the bin: the screech of a needle being ripped and torn back and forth across the surface of a record cuts in as the single begins. Then you hear Lydon in the studio tell the producer it’s so loud, they can’t hear the backing track. Ha; like they fucking even needed to, as they are preparing to scream and toss tambourines in the studio over a towering bass drive and general overall mayhem. The ludicrous “Thick As A Brick”-styled newspaper parody this single originally came wrapped in details the ‘lyrics’ (16 lines of “clipy ty clop/clipy ty clop/clipy ty clop”) but they do not appear on the single. Or if they do, they are drowned out by a deafening racket of multi-tracked screaming, talking and general pandemonium. The only distinct sound is that of the bass guitar of John Wardle (aka Jah Wobble) although it’s oddly un-dub and pre-set to ultra-strum. The lyrics should’ve been “Make it stop/make it stop/Make it stop” so that everybody who bought this single in 1978 could sing along. There’s also further stylus-scratching effects just to drive the rest of us up the wall. When the noise finally subsists, only Lydon’s coughing and sputtering of amphetamine-loosened phlegm can be heard — right before the record picks up after being trapped in the locked-groove for a revolution and a half.

I don’t have the single, but I do have a vinyl copy of Public Image : First Issue, the debut album, on which it is included:-

mp3: Public Image Limited – Public Image

Issued in October 1978, meaning it’s not that long until it turns 44 years of age.  I think it’s fair to say that the tune, and in particular, that killer bass line, have aged spectacularly well. For those who like the technical side of things, (hi JTFL!!!!) it seems it was Wardle’s/Wobble first bass line that he presented to the rest of the group, Keith Levene‘s guitars were double-tracked on the back of a live take and Lydon’s vocals went through a Space-Echo (aka Roland RE-201), a bit of kit which produced delay and reverb effects.

Me?  I just love dancing to it.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #311: NEIL YOUNG (2)

A GUEST POSTING by WALTER

JC writes…..

As the opening line of the piece indicates, this should have appeared weeks ago.  It got lost somewhere along the line, but thankfully, after a quick exchange of emails between Glasgow and Stuttgart, it was all sorted out.  Here’s Walter, the sage of the consistently excellent and very diverse, A Few Good Times In My Life.

Hi Jim

Inspired by the post of Adam a few days ago and your post last week I decided to realize another ICA of Neil Young over the weekend. And I have to say that it was a difficult work. Not only to select ten songs from an over 40 years old career, it was also a hard work not to name the same songs you did. But finally it should be my ICA and I think it is legitimate to name some songs of your choice in my selection. On the other hand, I thought about to select songs from his pre-solo career with Buffalo Springfield or CSN&Y. But finally I decided to take the songs from the days of his early recordings in the late 60’s to his 1990 classic Ragged Glory. I think I don’t have to say much about Mr. Young so let’s start:

1. Powderfinger (from Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)

The first song on the electric side of Rust Never Sleeps shows how to combine a story about the death of a young Indian with his electric guitar. Neil recorded this song a few years previous as a solo version and handed it to Ronnie Van Zant, but he couldn’t record it because he died in an airplane crash in 1977. The lyrics at the end of the song will never be forgotten:

Just think of me as one you never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love; I know I’ll miss her

2. Cinnamon Girl (from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, 1969)

On his second album, he left the folk road and chose that heavy sound he got famous for. This song has one of those classic riffs many other artists would die for. But it was not only the sound that makes this song so special, it was also the arrangement of Neil Young’s and Danny Whitten‘s vocals that I could name nearly perfect.

3. Sugar Mountain (from Live at Carnegie Hall, 1970)

Originally released as flip-side of Cinnamon Girl and The Loner, it is one of those songs he recorded many times during his history. I like this version because it shows Neil while he was obviously in good health and in a good mood making conversations with the audience and starting the song solo a second time.

4. Winterlong (from Decade a sampler of his early years)

This song is a rarity and as far as I know never released on one of his albums before, and showing me that many of his unreleased songs from this decade were better that many of regular released songs by other artists. Black Francis once said about Winterlong

“I thought about it a lot. There’s some kind of commitment to trying to find the ultimate performance of it. I certainly love the arrangement of the song. There’s not really a chorus in the song, but it sounds like a really chorus-y song. It has very classic/traditional kind of chord shapes in it, like ’50s rock, but it has a much more nuanced arrangement than you would think, kind of like a Roy Orbison song or something like that.”

5. Tonight’s The Night (from Tonight’s The Night, 1973)

Written after the deaths of Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, he wrote a song while he struggled about their deaths from drug overdoses. The death of the companions certainly contributed to Young’s publication of the dark, depressed masterpieces in the following years.

6. Cortez The Killer (from Zuma, 1975)

This song is the highlight of this album and probably one of the best live songs of all times, and describes the brutality of Hernán Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of the Aztec Empire. Neil Young shows his very own sight of the history and how Cortez destroyed a high class culture because the Aztecs were peaceful and representing a sort of utopian non-violent society. And this is another great song about peace and love.

7. Too Far Gone (from Freedom, 1993)

Just another great song about a lost love, representing the other side of him. It is not easy to put great feelings in a few verses. And this one is simply superb.

8. Revolution Blues (from On The Beach, 1974)

A song with references to Charles Manson and his family who met Young in the days when he also lived in Topanga Canyon. You can discuss if it is necessary to write a song inspired by Manson or not, but probably one reason might be because it was a depressive day Neil had to go through. Anyway, assisted by The Band’s rhythm section and David Crosby on guitar he made one of his greatest songs ever.

9. Fuckin’ Up (from Ragged Glory)

With this album, he returned into the sound he explored in the days of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Zuma. It was an album I didn’t expected from him, and he shows (especially in this song) that he wasn’t to old to show some grunge and garage bands how to play guitar dominated music.

10. My My, Hey Hey / Out Of The Blue (from Rust Never Sleeps, 1979)

For me the better version than the electric one Into The Black and perfect to finish this ICA. A lot of things I like is in this song. And the lyrics are epic.

The king is gone but he’s not forgotten
Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?
It’s better to burn out ’cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.

Walter

 

THE MONDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part Fifty-five: SHOW OF STRENGTH/WITH A HIP

Part 55 of the series, and I’m offering up something a little different.

I distinctly remember the first time I played Heaven Up Here. The stereo I had at the time was quite basic, but it was all I could afford at the time.  Besides, I was still living at home and sharing a room with two brothers and so didn’t have full access to the space at all times, meaning the idea of spending money on a fancy hi-fi rig with separate turntable, speakers and amps would have been the height of lunacy.

Despite all this, I could tell that Show of Strength was something else.   The Bunnymen hitting a higher peak than ever before.   It had hit single written all over it.  But no sooner had I finished shaking my shoulders and doing the jerky dance to the album opener, my ears were exposed to With A Hip.

Good gawd almighty…..it was beyond belief.  As powerful and immediate an opening one-two punch as anything I had in my growing collection.  Move over The Jam.….there’s a new band in town really vying for my attention.

mp3: Echo & The Bunnymen – Show of Strength/With A Hip

I still think it beggars belief that all involved decided not to release any singles, other than A Promise, from the album.

Another thing to mention….I was very pleasantly surprised that there were so few minor pops and clicks on this piece of vinyl, given how often I played it back in the day and how many different abodes it has accompanied me to – two student flats, four rooms in shared accommodation in Edinburgh, living with the soon-to-be-in-laws in Midlothian, the first marital home in East Lothian, the temporary space in Edinburgh after said marriage broke up, the first flat that myself and Rachel moved into in Glasgow city centre, and finally right here in Villain Towers out on the south side of the city since the summer of 1995.

JC