Another new series, which will be of an occasional nature.
Some pieces of vinyl sitting now in various locations in the Towers are one-offs in that the single or album happens to be all I have by a particular singer or band. Such as this, from 2000:-
I didn’t actually buy this in 2000 – indeed, that was a period when any new music was almost exclusively on CD. It was picked while I was browsing among the small selection of vinyl in a bric-a-brac shop on the south side of Glasgow just a few months ago. It’s a song that I recall hearing back in the day, and I’m sure I saw the promo video on television at some point, although the fact that wiki states said promo consists of porn actresses playing with sex toys means I’m surely much mistaken!
Anyways, the song turned out to be everything I remembered, a funky piece of electronica, although listening more closely to the lyrics than I must have done in 2000 reveals it very much on the risqué side.
Add N To (X) first started making music in 1996 and had made two albums, as well as going through some line-up changes prior to signing to Mute Records in 1999. The trio who made this single were Barry Smith, Ann Shenton and Steven Claydon, with Shenton the only one left from the original line-up. After three albums for Mute, they called it a day in 2003.
The b-side has a cracking title:-
I thought that it was a tribute to a footballer from the 1970s who had played for many clubs but is best recalled for his contribution to Sunderland’s FA Cup winning run of 1973….but it turns out his name is spelled Vic Halom.
Turns out it is named after the owner of the construction company which produced prefabricated timber-based, flat-roofed classrooms for schools in the 1950s. Known as the Derwent System, the method enabled authorities, at a time of shortages, to quickly and cheaply provide space for pupils. The method was also deployed to construct office buildings.
Not surprisingly, the use of such materials and the style in which they were built led to severe problems within not more than a decade, and very few examples of the buildings remain in situ.
PS : A Public Service Announcement
5.30pm on Monday evening. Just back from accompanying Rachel to an afternoon showing of Moonage Daydream, the recently released documentary on the life of David Bowie.
I’m no great fan, so my instant reaction that the two-and-a-quarter hours felt like four is perhaps understandable. Rachel, on the other hand, is a lifelong fan (having see the Ziggy Stardust tour as a 14-year old back in the day). She was scathing of the film, thinking it was all over the place and that it ignored far too many periods of his career; but the biggest failure was the lack of acknowledgement for the roles certain people played in his life – she singled out Angie Bowie and Iggy Pop.
Neither of us understand why so many critics are fawning over it.
I believe that today is actually the last day of the festival over there in Munich. First one in three years post-COVID breakout.
Saves me coming up with some sort of smart or smarmy name for the TVV monthly mix which has a few lesser known and new(ish) tracks to make your way through.
Happy Ending – Hi Fi Sean and David McAlmont
The Truck Driver and His Mate – Pet Shop Boys
Youth Knows No Pain – Lykke Li
Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey) – De La Soul
Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High? – Arctic Monkeys
Vanishing Point – New Order
Pure Shores – All Saints
Loose Fit – Happy Mondays
I Am God – Spare Snare
Atomic – Blondie
18 Cigarettes – Ducks Ltd.
Waiting For The Winter – The Popguns
First Hand Arrogance – Brontes
Go Go Go – The Wedding Present
Theme From Sparta F.C. #2 – The Fall
It all lasts about eight seconds under an hour.
As usual, we will begin with a recap from last week.
The responses seemed to come in slower than usual, and by Wednesday it looked as if the total votes would be well down than on previous weeks. I was thinking that some folk might have looked at what had already come in and decided that as at least three of the outcomes were foregone conclusions, there was no point in bothering.
Or maybe it’s a bit like many a live gig. There’s excitement at the start of things and great anticipation for how it will all end, but there’s the stuff in the middle that doesn’t have your full attention.
Match 13 : Electronic 15 Ash 22
Match 14 : The Dream Syndicate 7 Cinerama 26
Match 15 : Cocteau Twins 34 Chris Isaak 3
Match 16: Echo and The Bunnymen 33 Fad Gadget 4
I’ve a feeling the next round for those that got through might bring closer results…….
The next four Sundays will see the return of those who came through from Groups E-H, with again the group winners up against a combo that finished 8th and so on…….
The Go-Betweens (1st in Group E) v It’s Immaterial (8th in Group F)
Human League (4th in Group G) v The Twilight Sad (5th in Group H)
Sterelolab (2nd in Group F) v Neil Young (7th in Group G)
Bananarama (3rd in Group H) v Beastie Boys (6th in Group E)
As ever, thanks for taking part. Voting closes at midnight (UK time) next Friday, which is the 7th of October.
From all music:–
Scottish singer, songwriter, and producer Steve Mason rose to widespread critical acclaim in the late ’90s as a member of indie darlings the Beta Band. With their creative songscrap approach and maverick attitude, the Beta Band earned a somewhat notorious reputation among fans and the U.K. press during the post-Brit-pop era, thanks to releases like 1998’s The Three EP‘s and 2001’s Hot Shots II. During the Beta Band’s heyday and following their 2004 breakup, Mason also recorded as King Biscuit Time and later set out on a proper solo career with albums like 2013’s Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time and 2019’s About the Light.
Mason initially formed the Beta Band as a duo in the mid-’90s with fellow Fife native Gordon Anderson (Lone Pigeon), although Anderson’s involvement proved to be short-lived. Following his departure, the group coalesced around Robin Jones on drums, John Maclean on keyboards, sampler, and turntables, and Richard Greentree on bass, with Mason serving as the group’s unofficial leader from that point onward. The Beta Band earned heaps of critical praise with an opening salvo of three EPs, all released on Regal and leading up to the release of their acclaimed debut album, 1999’s The Beta Band. The follow-up, Hot Shots II, earned greater praise, although shortly after their third release, 2004’s Heroes to Zeros, the band announced their breakup.
Mason had already debuted a solo project, King Biscuit Time, late in 1998, and during the 18 months that followed the Beta Band’s breakup, he released a pair of King Biscuit singles — including “C I AM 15,” which reached number 67 on the British charts — and a full album, 2006’s Black Gold. One year later, he launched an electronica project called Black Affair, and a techno-influenced LP titled Pleasure Pressure Point appeared on V2 in 2008. He subsequently returned to a Beta Band format for his first album under his own name, a late 2009 single titled “All Come Down.” The expected full-length album, Boys Outside, with production help from Richard X, appeared in 2010 on Double Six, distributed by Domino. Provided with polished production, Steve Mason’s poignant songwriting and powerful vocals were brought to the fore. The album was then given a dub reworking by Mason and Dennis Bovell. Ghosts Outside displayed the singer/songwriter’s effortless ability to span genres successfully, while remixing the likes of Django Django showed Mason’s hunger for creativity was not slowing down.
In early 2013, his third album under his own name arrived. Among its sprawling 20 tracks, Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time explored depression, politics, and human nature, bringing together many genres to create a mesmerizing experience. His next record focused purely on himself, wringing out personal emotions and experiences for 2016’s Meet the Humans, bringing aboard Craig Potter (Elbow) to produce the album. With a number of solo tours under his belt, Mason wished to re-create the same live energy on record; the resulting album, 2019’s About the Light, featured a live band throughout the recording process to capture the feeling of his shows.
mp3: Steve Mason – Alive!
One of the many excellent tracks to be found on Meet The Humans, which made the final shortlist of ten for the Scottish Album of The Year for 2016.
I couldn’t help but steal today’s title from Reg the Rocket Man.
TVV turns sixteen years old today. I’d love to be in a position to have all the archives available for browsing back through, but Google/Blogger unceremoniously removed all traces of the original blog back in July 2013 before I could back things up.
A lot has changed in terms of music blogs since 2006. Indeed, a lot has changed in terms of music and how we all go about ‘consuming’ it these days. TVV began for a number of interlinked reasons, some of which were to do with my own mental wellbeing having just suffered a career setback at work (which turned out in due course to be a blessing), but deep down it was all about me wanting to delve into my old vinyl and rip some songs into an mp3 format so that they could perhaps be heard again for the first time in decades.
It was also about wanting to find some sort of audience with whom to share my lifelong obsession with music, and in particular that period from the late 70s into the mid 80s when so much of what I had been immersed in, was still, many decades later, incredibly important and vital to me. I had no idea really what to do with this new blog, but after a hesitant start, I got into a routine, helped along by many people from all parts of the world who supported and encouraged those early efforts with advice and words of thanks through the comments section, but if you had told me back then that TVV would still be on the go in 2022, I’d have found it hard to believe.
The old blog had, give or take, 2,500 posts before it was taken down. The new blog isn’t far short of 3,500 posts. Not all the posts have been original as a fair number have appeared more than once, and of course TVV does rely on a fair amount of guest postings. But let’s say 5,000 original posts, at a (conservative) average of 1,500 words, means I’ve written something in the region of seven and a half million words for the blog….I’m just hopeful that a few of them might have made some sense.
Many friends have come and gone, as can be reflected by the amount of former/extinct blogs that are listed among the indices. The past year or so has seen a few more of the long-time bloggers decide that, for one or more reasons, it was time to ease themselves away from their keyboards and go and out to do something less boring instead…….if any of you who are in that position ever have an urge to come back with some thoughts, views and opinions without the pressure of looking after your own place, then there will always be a warm welcome among these pages. I’ve never knowingly turned down any offer for a guest posting, (albeit some have lain unwittingly unattended to within the Inbox for a period of time), and I don’t intend to start now.
TVV has brought me so many happy moments these past sixteen years. It’s also been a place from where I’ve been able to catapult into other situations within the music industry/business, from which I have forged friendships with a decent number of incredibly talented and creative people along the way. I think I’m a better person than I was back in 2006, and much of that is down to being part of the collective and community that has developed and grown via this little and fairly insignificant corner of the internet.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of TVV in whatever shape or form. No targets are set, but if I’m still doing this in another sixteen years time, then I’ll be in my mid-70s (age wise) but hopefully still with the attitude, enthusiasm and chutzpah of a late-teen about to conquer the world on the back of some half decent exam results.
I’ll finish today’s posting, not with the obvious thing of some songs with ‘sixteen’ in the title, but instead with something related to the number. It’s my humble opinion that the original is the greatest song ever released, while the cover is more than decent.
New Order, of course, are also responsible for the greatest single of all time……….
….SO PREPARE FOR A THRILLING RETURN!
Heavenly are back.
That’s because all of the band’s four LPs are to be re-released on Skep Wax, the label run by two of the group’s founding members Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey.
It’s great news, and will make these difficult-to-locate records – Heavenly Vs. Satan; Le Jardin de Heavenly; The Decline and Fall of Heavenly; and Operation Heavenly – easily available on vinyl and download.
First up is Heavenly Vs. Satan. It kicks off a staggered, two-year release schedule and is available from 11 November.
The original wiry eight-song record has become a twelve-track beefcake more than capable of kicking sand in the faces of weedier albums. That’s because, in a blatant raspberry-blow to Sarah Records’ no-singles-on-albums policy, Heavenly’s first and second 7” releases have been pulled into this reissue. So look out for I Fell in Love Last Night/Over and Over and Our Love is Heavenly/Wrap My Arms Around Him.
And all this in the month that one of us, in a huff at no sign at all of a long-hoped-for box set, at last began creating their own bootleg collection. A venture mulled over for a hopeless number of years. Well it’s too far down the line to abandon Heavenly Have Plenty of Fun now. Blank CDs have been bought and everything. And a box has been located.
But these new releases will be purchased. Such is the logic-free world of even a curious-level collector of records. Plus, inside each sleeve will be found a 7” booklet. A glance at the one accompanying Heavenly Vs. Satan confirms a comforting cut ‘n’ paste design. It recalls the typical aesthetics that characterised the chopped-type, Pritt-Sticked fanzines of the day. These would be legitimately belched out by print shops and, possibly more often, college photocopiers or the after-hours workplace device.
So, new Heavenly treats are – officially – on the way. That’s the cake.
And here’s the cherry:
The band were to play a one-off gig in west London – at Bush Hall. It’s the first for 28 years, sold out within two days, and happens next year, on May 20. That’s clearly a red-letter date for pioneering Amelias, as Wikipedia tells us that on that day in 1932 another fun Amelia – Earhart – commenced a world-first for a female pilot: a solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. However, a new date has been added, May 19th. Tickets are on sale now…..
But back on terra firma, regular visitors will know that all things Amelia (Fletcher) have been celebrated a good few times on this blog. On offer most recently was this ICA. It collected tracks from the assorted projects both Amelia and Rob have been milling since way back in 1986: the days of the mighty Talulah Gosh. Next up would be Heavenly, of course. Then Marine Research, Tender Trap and Catenary Wires followed. And most recently it’s been Swansea Sound (to say nothing of numerous side projects). Not bad for someone who claims that “I was never cut out to be a proper pop star anyway.”
This incoming Heavenly activity follows the pair of lavish double-pack 7” singles of the group’s two Peel Sessions, recorded in 1991 and 94. Those emerged this year, courtesy of the Precious label, and added an official and recommended couple of releases to the discography.
(This incarnation of Heavenly was fortified with the addition of vocalist and keyboard player Cathy Rogers (far left) who, from the 1993 P.U.N.K. Girl single, joined Amelia Fletcher, Peter Momtchlioff, Rob Pursey, and Mathew Fletcher.)
Now, with the LPs stepping out once more, we have a super reason to give props to a band that was so often dismissed as twee and fey, cute and saccharin. But even a cursory listen to Heavenly Vs. Satan would reveal half an album’s worth of musings on disappointment and duplicity, cruelty and callousness: Boyfriend Stays the Same for starters, alongside Shallow, Wish Me Gone and It’s You.
Amelia makes the point well in the notes that form part of the release’s accompanying booklet:
“Listening back now, I had forgotten how many of my lyrics involve girls falling for boys who treat them badly. This was well before Riot Grrrl and the tone is gently descriptive rather than angry, but I remember feeling it was important to tell these stories.”
And Rob comments that:
“Heavenly were a ‘female-fronted’ band, which set up an additional tension with the audience, some of whom had expectations of what that ought to mean. We tried to undermine those expectations too. It annoyed some people, but they were probably the right people to annoy.”
To wrap up, here’s a (new) Vinyl Villain tribute: Heavenly Go Adventuring Again – an imaginary EP with a track taken from each of the group’s four albums….as imagined by The Three Masketeers
1. Stop Before You Say It (Heavenly Vs. Satan, Sarah Records, 1991)
The last track on the first album is largely a rush about a crush. Only at the end does it take a breather, and a gentle coda provides the perfect nightlighty closer. (Kathy Kane)
2. C is the Heavenly Option (Le Jardin de Heavenly, Sarah Records, 1992)
As indie pop classics go this has to be up with the very best of them.
As well as a link to the studio version of the song we decided to add a little more joy to your life with the wonderfully chaotic live, acoustic version filmed in 2019. I dare you not to smile as you Rob, Amelia and Calvin Johnson enjoy being in each other’s company as musicians, as friends. (Don Diego de la Vega, Eustache Duager and Kathy Kane)
3. Sacramento (The Decline and Fall of Heavenly, Sarah Records, 1994)
A surf-infused instrumental wig-out that further illustrates that Heavenly were adept writers and musicians. I’ve never been to Sacramento but if I did go, and it didn’t sound like this, I’d be sorely disappointed. I’ve often thought that as the lights went up at the end of an indie-disco this is the song that revellers should stagger out the door to and the run back in again for one last shimmy. (Don Diego de la Vega)
4. Ben Sherman (Operation Heavenly, Wiiija, 1996)
The unexpected use of the word ‘fuck’ early on in the lyric is an indication that this isn’t your typical Heavenly number. The highly infectious and toe-tapping tune disguises the fact that the female protagonist is far from happy. Indeed, she’s at her wit’s end, all thanks to having a shallow boyfriend making suggestions about a change of hairstyle so that she more resembles the Hollywood actress he fancies and fantasises about.
The good news is that, by the end of the song, the listener is left in no doubt the boyfriend is soon to be an ex, and our heroine will move on to a better and more fulfilling life…. complete with the sort of haircut she’s most happy with. (Eustache Duager)
If you’ve read this far, first of all: congratulations. Secondly, and more soberly, you’ll probably know that Heavenly chose not to carry on after the passing, in 1996, of the band’s drummer Mathew Fletcher. We think you’d all agree that widening access now to the songs of Mathew and his bandmates is a wholly appropriate tribute to, and celebration of, his memory.
On Heavenly Vs. Satan, the band comprised:
Amelia Fletcher (vocals and guitar)
Mathew Fletcher (drums)
Peter Momtchiloff (guitar)
Rob Pursey (bass)
And on the track Our Love is Heavenly, the group was ably assisted by the Catherines of Arrogance (ex-Talulahs Eithne Farry and Elizabeth Price).
Don Diego de la Vega, Eustache Duager and Kathy Kane