SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #87 : ENDGAMES

Formed in Glasgow in 1980, they released two singles on Mercury Records in 1982 that were well received in some quarters (Martin Fry was a fan) but riduculed for a lack of originality in others.

The next year saw them draft in Brian McGee who had been the original drummer with the now increasingly successful Simple Minds and in due course were signed by Virgin Records to a multi-album deal in 1983. In the end, they were let go after four flop 45s and a poor-selling LP despite the fact the band had toured extensively both under their own steam and as support to a number of high-profile synth-pop acts. Endgames broke up in 1985.

This is the second of their singles for Mercury Records. It’s very much of its time and hasn’t date well at all. It’s easy to see why Martin Fry liked them bit also why so many didn’t rate them:-

mp3 : Endgames – First, Last, For Everything

JC

CHARGED PARTICLES (11)

THE GUEST SERIES FROM JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

This series has covered a lot of different acts and a lot of different styles of music. What it hasn’t included is a lot of women. That’s not right, so here are some charged particles featuring favorite females:

Vision: Autoclave

Connection: Elastica

Intuition: Feist

Levitation: Beach House

Petition: Tennis

Precaution: Pylon

Situation: Margaret Glaspy

 

JTFL

JC adds……this is the last of what was the initial batch of Charged Particles pieces submitted by Jonny a few months back.  Fingers crossed he finds time for some more.

OCD EPs : #5 : MORRISSEY

JC writes….

Another very unexpected e-mail.  Some of you will recall Dave Glickman came up with a great idea in May 2016 for the OCD EPs which he again explains in his intro to today’s piece.

Over the next few months he supplied the blog with such EPs for Father Sculptor, The Smiths, Gene and Joe Strummer, the last of which was some eleven months ago.  He’s come back and decided to feature Morrissey, without doubt the most featured artiste within this small corner of the internet but somone I have been avoiding in recent months as my own silent protest at some of the stupid and offensive things he’s been uttering around politics and race.  But, I’ve always said that guest postings will be taken for what they are, regardless of my own thoughts on the singer/band, and besides, what comes is, again, of a very high quality.  Here’s David to say more…..

OCD #5 : THE RARELY PLAYED SYMPHONIES

Well, after a rather extended hiatus, I am back with another installment in this series. Admittedly, the public clamoring over the past year for more has been less than deafening. However, I have only two more collections in my library that warrant this treatment and, after all, the series is about obsession and compulsion, isn’t it?
For newer Vinyl Villain readers and long-timers for whom the earlier posts had no lasting memorable impact, here’s a bit of repeat from what came before:

“And then one day, you just have to have it all…

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I come across a band where I eventually decide that I have to get my hands on everything they ever recorded. It usually starts innocently enough – one album purchased on iTunes or a couple of songs downloaded from my favorite indie music blog. Perhaps I’ll find a b-side collection on a fan site and pick out a few favorites or come across a video of a particularly stellar radio or television broadcast. And then suddenly, the obsession kicks in. What else in their catalog is still purchasable? Where can I find the best quality rips of those broadcasts? And, by god, why didn’t I download all those b-sides when I had the chance?
With all this in mind… the OCD EPs are intended to be short collections of the best or most interesting obscure, off the beaten track songs that only the most ardent and obsessed fans might be familiar with and have in their libraries.”

Today’s selection is in honor of the boys and girl from WYCRA and in memory of their dearly departed blog. After all, it was their policy of deducting Saturday Song Challenge points for any and all mentions of The Smiths or Morrissey that finally motivated me to pick up my pen again and get on with it.

 

Side One

1. Striptease With A Difference (outtake)

At an earlier point, there was quite a bit of unreleased material from the Viva Hate and Bona Drag sessions. However, over the years, most of it has been released as b-sides or bonus tracks on album reissues. This would be the exception. Striptease is a rather witty lyric about Moz hoping to lose a game of strip poker over music that, to be honest, is nothing to write home about. Surely though, it can’t be worse than Get Off The Stage, can it?

2. Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself (alternate electric studio outtake)

One of my favorites in the entire solo catalogue, there really isn’t a bad version of this song. While the acoustic album version is in keeping with the overall mood of Vauxhall & I, the band also did a few amped-up takes. There are several electric versions floating around the internet, but this fairly recent leak is my favorite.

3. It’s Hard To Walk Tall When You’re Small (Maladjusted b-side session version)

There is a track of the same name officially released as a b-side to the Irish Blood, English Heart single and later collected on Swords. However, this is something rather different. Apparently, seven years earlier Moz tried similar, though not exactly the same, lyrics over a ballad written by Spencer Cobrin. Quite an interesting find!

For reference: It’s Hard To Walk Tall When You’re Small (official version)

Side Two

4. I’m Playing Easy To Get (BBC Radio Session)

From Passions Just Like Mine: “This song must have been written at some point in 2004. Its only confirmed studio recording is Morrissey’s appearance on Janice Long’s radio programme on BBC2, on 17 December 2004….A proper studio version was allegedly recorded at the end of 2004 alongside material meant to be used for b-sides on the “I Like You” single (which ended up being shelved).”

I absolutely adore this song and its twisted take on playing hard to get. In my view, the track actually has a-side potential, though obviously Moz does not agree as he hasn’t even released this radio session version. Now, if only I could get my time machine to work, I’d be heading back to Los Angeles on November 12, 2004 for its one and only live outing.

5. Sweetie-Pie (Michael Farrell version)

As I understand the story, Morrissey and the band worked on this ballad for quite a while during the Ringleader sessions but were never able to put down something they were satisfied with. Instead, the decision was made to cover it over with noise and additional vocals by Kristeen Young (just another term for “noise”) and release it as a b-side. While some people consider the officially released version to be some sort of avant-garde masterpiece, I am not one of them.

In any case, Michael Farrell took the tapes home, kept working on the song and then played his version on a radio program in 2009. This new version, which I find superior to the official one in virtually every way, was subsequently leaked on the internet.

6. The Bullfighter Dies (promo video version)

In an ill-fated promotional attempt, Harvest produced a number of spoken word videos to accompany the release of World Peace Is None Of Your Business. No doubt, these must have played some role in the subsequent falling out between Moz and the record label which led to the severing of their relationship and the eventual deletion of the album from the catalog.

While the sound from most of these videos is hardly worth your attention, the spoken word version of The Bullfighter Dies is the exception. Backed by muted trumpet and piano, Moz brings out a deeper, more serious emotional tone to the lyrics.

DAVE

BONUS POSTING : INVITATION TO A SPECIAL NIGHT (AND FOR A GREAT CAUSE)

One of the most enjoyable events in many a year happened just a few months back at The Admiral Bar in Glasgow when Strangeways (a collective made up of Robert, Hugh and Carlo) held their first ever There Is A Night That Never Goes Out. I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute a short set at the beginning of the night before the professionals took over. I wrote about it all afterwards.

As you’ll see from the above poster, the second such night is taking place in a little over two weeks time, once again at The Admiral. It sold out last time round and fingers are crossed that this will do the same as all monies rasied will go towards Starter Packs Glasgow, a charity that provides household items to those who most need them.

http://starterpacks.org.uk.websitebuilder.prositehosting.co.uk/

The night will also have a fabulous guest DJ involved in the shape of Gavin Dunbar (Camera Obscura) but there’s also a likelihood that I will get to slip in 45 mins worth of tunes early on. I’m working on a possible set just now and hope to send it off to the team over the weekend in the hope they like it.

If you’re in the Glasgow area on the 26th, then please feel free to drop by and say hello. It really is a great night. And the Strangeways team are among the nicest folk you could ever hope to meet….and the crowd they attract to their nights are just as lovely.

Here’s one from last time out:-

mp3 : The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink

JC

INDIETRACKS 2017 : A PERSONAL APPRECIATION FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

A GUEST POSTING FROM ALDO

Indietracks is an indiepop festival which takes place annually on a heritage railway in rural Derbyshire. This was our sixth successive jaunt down to the event.

I first attended in 2012, looking for a different kind of festival fix after years of attending Scotland’s annual behemoth T in the Park, and I came away from the weekend totally hooked, much in the way I’d felt going to those first couple of T’s. The whole setup appealed so much, not least being shuttled on a vintage train the mile journey from the entrance to the main festival site.

Although the music is always first and foremost the main appeal, there is no doubt that it’s the folk that attend who add just as much to the event as anything else. Firm friendships have been forged over the years, and there’s always plenty time spent greeting many a familiar face. In fact this year I ended up sharing accommodation with one such mate from Belfast when his wife, and my usual sparring partner and roommate, were both unable to attend this year.

Proceedings get underway on the Friday evening, easing everyone into the weekend, and as usual there were three bands set to grace the main stage.  We were, however, somewhat relieved when, supping pints in our usual pre-festival boozer, one of the gang arrived with news that, as a result of the forecast for inclement weather, the bands were now to perform on the indoor second stage.

First up were Scots, Kid Canaveral, making their second appearance at the festival, they had drafted in a couple of stand-in members for this show due to the logistics of having to then travel to the Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland for Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fling that same weekend. They got things off to a great start, playing a set largely drawing on their most recent release Faulty Inner Dialogue, and being a particularly big fan of the band I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were followed by Chorusgirl, who I’ve seen a few times before, most recently at the Fortuna Pop! farewell weekender in London in March. Again they delivered a hugely enjoyable set.

So on to Martha, they are a perfect example of the type of band which the festival seems to foster, moving up the billing with each festival, and akin to the Spook School the previous year, burgeoning into a group which were more than justified Friday headliners. Much like watching a child or a sibling flourish, the love for them among the crowd was palpable when they emerged to take the stage. Running through pretty much all the favourites from their first two albums, they also included a cover of Semisonic’s Closing Time thrown in for good measure, and left us all in good spirits.

mp3 : Martha – Precarious (Supermarket Song)

Although some sore heads were being nursed after the previous evening’s visit to the disco tent, we all made it down in time for Saturday’s 1pm start, and the first band up in the indoor stage were Pillow Queens, a four piece all female outfit from Dublin playing a mix of alt-pop punk. Next on the agenda were Crumbs from Leeds who were gaining quite a few mentions pre-festival and certainly lived up to my expectations with a hugely energetic and engaging set. There was a brief venture outdoors into the sunshine for 10 minutes of Spain’s Cola Jet Set, before ensuring I was back in the train shed for TeenCanteen. Like Kid Canaveral, this was their second appearance at the festival, and there were a number of remarks with regard to just how much they had improved as a live force. This is definitely true, and they gave us a great set of pure pop.

mp3 : Crumbs – Weasels Can Wait

We then hotfooted it over to the main stage for the much touted Peaness, and it’s fair to say that there’s much to admire beyond their slightly smirk inducing name, proving that they’ve got all the credentials to be the next darlings of the Indietracks crowd. They were followed on the main stage by Glasgow/London band Shopping, who feature one half of recent Scottish Album of the Year Award winners Sacred Paws. Although I’m a fan of their album Why Choose? and have witnessed them live on more than one occasion, for some reason they never really got me going here.

However, I very much got back into my groove with the next act, Indietracks heroine, Emma Kupa formerly of Standard Fare, and appearing in no less than four bands over the course of the weekend! On this occasion she was teaming up with ex-Hefner main man Darren Hayman in the imaginatively titled Hayman Kupa Band. I’ve not always been taken by Hayman’s solo output but the set they delivered here was immensely enjoyable.

mp3 : The Hayman Kupa Band – Someone To Care For Me

The fact half the festival appeared to require food at the same time meant that unfortunately I only heard Frankie Cosmos’ set from the burrito stall queue. However, once sated it was back indoors for a beer and a short blast of the ever excellent Joanna Gruesome, before heading to join the queue for the tiny church stage to see The Hearing, a female solo singer from Finland who produces ethereal sounds to a dreamy electronic accompaniment. It was a pretty decent performance, although I wasn’t raving about it quite as highly as some were. After this it was a refresh of our pints before making our way over to the main stage for a superb headline performance from The Wedding Present, it was a near flawless festival set, finishing with My Favourite Dress and Kennedy to leave the crowd in raptures. The only decision then was to be that evening’s choice of entertainment – karaoke or indie disco. The karaoke won, and was an unexpectedly brilliant end to the day.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Kennedy (live – John Peel’s 50th birthday bash)

Following a late after party at the hotel, I was the only one of our group who emerged in time to catch Maybe Don’t who were first up on the Sunday. They were pretty decent, though my enjoyment was tempered by the fact that their loud energetic sounds were at odds with my slightly hungover state. Luby Sparks, the Japanese five piece who followed, were a little kinder to these ears with their jangling, C86 tinged, melodies. Next we shuttled between short glimpses of Suggested Friends (one of those other Emma Kupa bands) and Cowtown, a noisy mob from Leeds, before an absolutely lovely set in the sunshine by The Orchids, another of the great bands to come out of Glasgow over the years.

mp3 : Luby Sparks – Water

Staying in Scotland, the next band on the main stage were Indietracks ‘legends’ the Just Joans – somehow in the parallel universe that is Indietracks the Joans (whose appearance supplies the image which illustrates this post) are one of the best known bands in the world. We of course were down the front for a great mix of new songs and old classics, unfortunately one of the sing a long numbers expected at the end was cut from the set as a result of them running slightly over time, and perhaps just as well as a huge downpour began as they played their final notes.

This rearranged the schedule slightly as Monkey Swallows the Universe were moved indoors, which sadly didn’t do them justice as they were somewhat of an afterthought as the near whole capacity gathered in the train shed.

Once the sun came out again and the bulk of the crowd headed for the Wave Pictures on the main stage, those of us who elected to stay indoors were treated to a great set by Skinny Girl Diet, two sisters from London who describe themselves as gothic grunge, and make glorious racket.

mp3 : Skinny Girl Diet – Yeti

They were followed on the indoor stage by another band who Indietrackers have fully taken to their hearts, The Tuts. First coming to our attention when they opened the festival four years ago, those of us watching then might have felt they were a novelty, just there to get the party started, however, they’ve blossomed into the kind of group which the festival is all about. Politically charged but with no shortage of fun to go with it. The three of them gracing the stage in wedding dresses, and a wonderful set ended with them getting ‘married’ to the crowd and each other. In amongst the fun there were some emotional moments, when discussing experiences of mental health issues, and in that vein they were joined on stage by various other groups for a mass singalong of Linkin Park’s ‘In The End’ in tribute to Chester Bennington.

mp3 : The Tuts – Let Go Of The Past

The final act of the weekend on the main stage was Cate Le Bon, who I’d really enjoyed when I caught her in Glasgow last year, but to be honest after the Tuts set I just wanted a beer and a blether with some mates who were about to depart. I did catch the last few numbers by Cate, and by all accounts she was on top form.

All that was left was one last disco boogie, and despite being encouraged to carry on until the wee hours at the legendary campsite disco, which I’ve never yet been to, I decided to be sensible for once and head for bed. One year I’ll make the campsite shindig, one year…

ALDO

JC adds…..I’m really pleased that Aldo took the time to put together such a comprehensive and honest rundown of what sounds like an amazing weekend.  I took it upon myself to choose the songs today, all based on the words he supplied.  Other than The Wedding Present, they are all new to my ears and I’ve a feeling most of you will enjoy them too.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #130 : GEMMA RAY

JC writes…….

Thanks to a faulty charger that turns out not to be the easiest to track down a replacement, I have been laptop free for around ten days now and most of the the posts have been mined from those that I have in reserve for emergencies.  I’ve tried to stay on top of e-mails from my PC at work and the great news is that a few very high quality guest postings have been submitted during the period and I’m going to post them over the coming days.  It begins with an absolute cracker of an ICA from The Robster, turning the spotlight on someone never featured here before, and in doing so he took inspiration from another of the regulars.  Over to The Robster……

Shimmering: A Gemma Ray ICA

I’ve no doubt everyone pays regular visits to Walter‘s most excellent site A Few Good Times In My Life. If you don’t, GET YOURSELF ROUND THERE NOW! Those of us who do will have been engrossed in his recent recounting of the Maifeld Derby festival in Mannheim. In one instalment, Walter told us of his discovery of the rather wonderful Gemma Ray who he’d never come across before. As a long-time fan, I got to thinking that perhaps I should put together an ICA for the benefit of Walter and anyone else who has not been fortunate enough to encounter one of England’s best kept secrets.

So here’s a little collection of some of Gemma’s best moments. I’ve made sure each of her seven albums are represented, but truth be told this could easily have become a double album, and even then some great tunes would have had to be jettisoned. It weighs in at a mere 36 minutes, but I’ve always been a firm believer in quality over quantity and I think I’ve achieved that here in abundance. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the pop-noir of Gemma Ray.

SIDE ONE

1. The Wheel (from ‘Milk For Your Motors’ 2014)

By the time ‘Milk For Your Motors’ hit the shelves in 2014, Gemma had already built herself an impressive back catalogue. To date, she’d barely put a foot wrong. This, her sixth album, was her most expansive and featured an array of collaborators. On this track, Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb lends his deep dark voice to the proceedings.

2. Hard Shoulder (from ‘The Leader’ 2008)

Gemma’s debut album, like most of her early work, is dominated by her beloved twangy guitar Li’l One-Arm. Hard Shoulder was her second single and the first track to be heard from ‘The Leader’, setting a bar rather high for such a young artist.

3. 100mph (In 2nd Gear) (from ‘Lights Out Zoltar!’ 2009)
4. Fist Of A Flower (from ‘Lights Out Zoltar!’ 2009)

‘Lights Out Zoltar!’ is one of my favourite Gemma Ray albums. It followed hot on the heels of her debut as, due to illness, she wrote it instead of touring. She was clearly on a roll and churned out some of her strongest material.

5. How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall? (from ‘Gemma Ray Sings Sparks With Sparks’ 7″ 2012)

Now this is a treat. In 2012, Gemma teamed up with Russell and Ron Mael. She’d arranged two of their songs, putting her own spin on them. They produced the single and backed her. Yes, it’s Gemma, but I don’t think it matters what you do to a Sparks song, it’s always going to sound like a Sparks song. Nevertheless, a fine job was made of it.

SIDE TWO

1. The Letter (from ‘Down Baby Down’ 2013)

As you can imagine, Gemma’s work has graced numerous movies and TV shows. She has scored a German movie (Vorstadtrocker) and worked with Wim Wenders on a project restoring his early material. ‘Down Baby Down’ saw her team up with Thomas Wydler (yes, one of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds) and was her attempt at a fantasy movie soundtrack – a soundtrack without a movie, if you will. Wait – An Imaginary Soundtrack… sounds like a blog series to me…

2. Alight! Alive! (from ‘Island Fire’ 2012)

One of my favourite tracks. Alight! Alive! opened Gemma’s fourth album ‘Island Fire’, probably her best work. The album was partly written in Australia while unable to fly home due to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull which caused flights worldwide to be grounded. Another stroke of luck as it turned out. Alight! Alive! has a lovely big bright sound, and any song that uses a Theremin is more than OK by me.

3. Big Spender (from ‘It’s A Shame About Gemma Ray’ 2010)

Gemma’s third album was a rather daring effort. Sixteen cover versions of one of the widest range of artists you could ask for. Alternative rock (Gallon Drunk, Obits, Sonic Youth) mixed it with jazz and blues (Billie Holiday, Etta James, Memphis Minnie), songs from musicals and all sorts of other delights. I almost included her take on Mudhoney‘s proto-grunge classic Touch Me I’m Sick, but in the end plumped for this gorgeous, glistening rendering of Shirley Bassey‘s timeless classic. Just Gemma and Li’l One-Arm alone.

4. Motorbike (from ‘Milk For Your Motors’ 2014)

By contrast, here she is in full motorik Krautrock mode. It may not surprise you to learn that Suicide’s Alan Vega is involved here, but it proves Gemma ain’t no one trick pony.

5. Shimmering (from ‘The Exodus Suite’ 2016)

Last year’s ‘The Exodus Suite’ brought with it the latest in a string of critical acclaim. Another ambitious record, it saw her stretch herself yet further. The whole thing was recorded live in one week and sees her adding more than a little touch of psychedelia to her sound. I’d love her to expand on this direction on her next record – whenever that will be.

http://afewgoodtimesinmylife.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/the-maifeld-derby-2017-diaries-day-1.html

THE ROBSTER

http://isthis-thelife.blogspot.co.uk/

WHAM-BAM THANK YOU MA’AM

One of my favourites from the Ziggy Stardust LP, I hadn’t realised it has been a flop single a few years later in 1976 when it was issued to accompany the release of the Changesonebowie compilation.

mp3 : David Bowie – Suffragette City

I still love getting up on the dance floor if this ever gets aired at an indie-type disco…which doesn’t happen often enough if you wany my tuppence worth on the subject matter. The Little Richard-style boogie-woogie piano bit is courtesy of the multi-talented Mick Ronson.

The b-side of the 1976 single was an edited version of Stay, a track originally been released on Station to Station the previous year. Again, until looking it up for this posting, I wasn’t aware that the shortened version of Stay had been a single in the USA. It’s some three minutes shorter than the album version.

mp3 : David Bowie – Stay (US single edit)

JC