Friday, October 31, 2008
mp3 : Edwyn Collins - Ghost Of A Chance
mp3 : R.E.M. - Ghost Riders
mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Little Ghost Song
mp3 : Foil - The Ghost of Vernon Howell
Edwyn's offering is from his 1989 LP Hope & Despair.
The R.E.M. and Bad Seeds songs were originally b-sides -found on the flip side of Orange Crush and He Wants You respectively.
Foil were a Scottish band who hung around for a few years from late 1996 onwards, releasing a handful of excellent singles and a couple of LPs that were reasonably entertaining. Their contribution to your big box of treats can be found on the LP Never Got Hip, which came out in June 2000 not long before the band called it a day. I think the level of their disillusionment can be gauged from the title of said LP......
Thursday, October 30, 2008
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mp3 : James - Out To Get You
All of these sit alongside a bundle of 12" singles that I've owned for nearly 30 years now (now that's how I know I'm really getting old.....!!), including this from 1981 which made #7 in the UK charts:-
mp3 : Altered Images - I Could Be Happy (12 inch version)
Now I know its totally disposable radio-friendly pop, and yes I do accept that the vocal delivery of Clare Grogan can be an acquired taste, but how can you resist its charms?
The two tracks to be found on the b-side of the 12" are a slightly different kettle of fish.
One of them - Insects - could easily pass for the sort of thing being recorded at that time by Siouxsie & The Banshees, while the bonus track - Disco Pop Stars - is a great and speeded-up re-working of the band's debut single from earlier that same year.
mp3 : Altered Images - Insects
mp3 : Altered Images - Disco Pop Stars
And once again, I've been scoring through the vaults of youtube and managed to get footage of Altered Images performing some of these songs. Just click here.
PS : For anyone that doesn't know, Clare Grogan has just written her first book. Tallulah and The Teenstars is aimed very much at the 8-11 year old kids, and its a tale of a girl's dream of becoming a popstar. Some have suggested it might be autobiographical.....
Here's a link to a recent TV appearance here in Scotland in which she promotes the book:-
Mrs Villain has cruelly suggested that the once cute and gorgeous Claire has metamorphosised into the young sister of controversial TV nutrionist Gillain McKeith.....
Personally, I see no resemblance.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Eyes rolled back, resting on the downpour...
00.21. Just a late night/early morning post-it note, with poor quality camera-phone pictures attached. Submit as evidence please. Now over 24 hrs without sleep and getting those spaced out feelings. Eyes closing and opening. Drifting. What was it? From city centre lodgings to small weegie airport to big big smoke airport to US of A seatac airport to generous car-lift from caroline and her man to lodgings to microbrewery to Chop Suey, and back... All present and correct. And Juan G bought the beers. Opening band (Colonies) so-so, in a shoegazy starting out sort of way. Look forward to their debut. Second band on were... well...
05.00. Well... aye, youse.... wake up. Second band on were the right blend of energetic, funny, passionate, modest. Ah said hello. They said hello back and admired my heroic efforts to see them play when I mentioned I'd just left Glasgow that morning. How many miles? Dedicated a song to this 'weary traveller' which was awfy nice of Scott, but not 'Be less rude' as it goes. Crowd swells, a mosh pit even. As with previous events, current set-list pretty much all the storming new material from latest offering. Closing with 'Keep yourself warm' is always a good idea. 'Poke' was beautiful, hard... 'The twist' sounded fucking awesome. 'Fast blood' made me want to...
05.14. Punch the air, smile and be a Braveheart. Need. To. Give. Up... sleep... Last band on, this lot, were just bizarre. Pish, in fact. A major disappointment. A more jokey, out of time and tune Ben Folds Five in a car crash with Make Model and their redundant pricks. So we just left. Three or four songs was a fair hearing and it just wisnae on. But then how can you hope to follow a 'support act' who make you look like right proper baw bags? We were not alone, the crowd staggered away with us, it seemed.
And so, aye, goodnight, good morning... sounds of Selkirk dancing in your head. All sing, take cover. Tremble. And, aye, I feel like I just died twice but for fuck sakes it was worth it and more. Hello Vancouver, BC.
Thanks Comrade. I'm sure there's loads here who are delighted you got there safely. And personally, I can think of no better way to begin your adventure....
mp3 : Frightened Rabbit - The Greys (live at Urban Outfitters, SxSW Festival) *
in 1986, the LP King Of America was released. It was the tenth LP in the career of Elvis Costello, and for the first time in seven years he hadn't relied on the talents of The Attractions. Instead, it was a record released by The Costello Show featuring the Attractions and Confederates. Another change was that the songs were credited to Declan McManus, the singer's real as opposed to stage name.
The Confederates were not a band as such, but instead a collection of top session musicians, most of whom had played and recorded with Elvis Presley. Some folk reckon its this fact that led to the songs not being credited to the be-spectacled Elvis....
Now I'm no great expert on every recording made by Elvis Costello, but I usually argue that this is the best LP he ever made. It's a truly stunning bit of work that contains lyrics that go in many different directions - there's the bitter and twisted, the poetically lovely, the hilarious put-downs and the occasional bit of self-deprecation - all underscored by some of the best and most varied music he would ever commit to one LP. As evidenced by the words to Brilliant Mistake, the LP's opener:-
He thought he was the King of America
Where they pour Coca Cola just like vintage wine
Now I try hard not to become hysterical
But I'm not sure if I am laughing or crying
I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this hurtin' feeling disappear
Like it was common sense
It was a fine idea at the time
Now it's a brilliant mistake
She said that she was working for the ABC News
It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use
Her perfume was unspeakable
It lingered in the air
Like her artificial laughter
Her mementos of affairs
"Oh" I said "I see you know him"
"Isn't that very fortunate for you"
And she showed me his calling card
He came third or fourth and there were more than one or two
He was a fine idea at the time
Now he's a brilliant mistake
He thought he was the King of America
But it was just a boulevard of broken dreams
A trick they do with mirrors and with chemicals
The words of love in whispers
And the axe of love in screams
I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this lovin' feeling disappear
Like it was common sense
I was a fine idea at the time
Now I'm a brilliant mistake
This would stand alone as a near perfect bit of poetry - and like so many of the best poems, it has a number of interpretations.
EC himself in an interview in 1986 said:-
"Brilliant Mistake is a sad song, but it's also sort of funny. It's about America and it's about lost ambition, not lack of inspiration. It's about a disappointed or frustrated belief. It's a song that people are going to read wrong. One line in it is, 'There's a trick they do with mirrors and with chemicals.' It means celluloid and mirrors, movie cameras. It occurred to me the other day that people will think it's a reference to cocaine. "
However, a more commonly held view was that Elvis was in the midst of a very painful and messy divorce, and that the heart of the song was a criticism of himself and his behaviour.
mp3 : The Costello Show - Brilliant Mistake
Now I make no apologies for adding a second song to this post - another from the LP and the track that I believe is the best he's ever recorded:-
mp3 : The Costello Show - Little Palaces
This is basically a solo song - the acoustic guitar and mandolin are played by Elvis, with just a hint of string bass to back it up, played by Jerry Scheff. The closing few minutes of this song often bring a tear to my eye - the raw and powerful images invoked by the lyric and the traditional almost folk-like music.
I remember also when this LP was released that many long-time fans thought this would be the end of The Attractions. But instead, within six months, another LP - Blood & Chocolate - was released, and this was a bona fide band record.
And sometimes I think that just might be the best EC album......
Oh and after poking around youtube for a while, I found a great live clip of an old performance of Little Palaces. Its been posted at The Video Villain.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
He had been fairly successful with a number of groups and as a solo artist, mostly with stuff that was a variant on R&B, jazz-rock and cod-reggae.He was the sort of radio-friendly singer that punk and then new wave had been sent along to destroy, and quite frankly, I'd probably have been happy to see him retire to his Caribbean hideaway and not bother us anymore.
One day I heard his new single on Radio 1. I was really surprised as it sounded, at first listen, like a glorious bit of electro-pop was completely different from anything he'd ever released before. It also stood out because in those days very few singers or bands with synthesisers got much in the way of radio attention - a situation that would of course change as the decade progressed.
Intrigued, I decided to buy the single, and after numerous plays, I stuck to my initial view that indeed it was a great bit of work. But as a record in my then collection, it really stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Not that I gave a toss, cos I loved it, and looking back now I realise that it was an important record in that it gave me an early appreciation of synth-driven pop music that I would buy so much of in the years ahead.
Oh, and being a really sort of sensitive soul, I also found the lyrics - looking at a marriage or relationship that was on its last legs - very moving. Still do.
As it turns out, I didn't care all that much for much more of Robert Palmer's output in the years after this up to his death from a heart attack in 2003, at the age of 54, so this single, which was a hit in the USA but a miss in the UK, remains the only song of his in the collection:-
mp3 : Robert Palmer - Johnny & Mary
You know I'm a sucker for covers, and while this is nothing truly exciting or different, its a fairly faithful interpretation from the year 2000:-
mp3 : Placebo - Johnny & Mary
Monday, October 27, 2008
24 hours later than I had planned.......
Got a nice e-mail from someone who asked for a couple of tracks from Martin Stephenson & The Daintees.
mp3 : Martin Stephenson - Coleen
mp3 : Martin Stephenson & The Daintees - The Old Church Is Still Standing
The first of these was originally on the 1986 LP Boat To Bolivia. In the sleeve notes, Martin let us know its a song that conveys a brother's sadness for the termination of his sister's lesbian love affair. He also advises us that the line about the old man who carries his house on his back was a well known tramp who lurked around Park Lane bus station in Sunderland. The version I've dug out is a 1998 re-recording and is one of many new interpretations of the old songs on an LP simply called Martin Stephenson.
The latter track is on the 1988 LP Gladsome, Humour & Blue, and it seems an awfully appropriate song for a Sunday.
Martin Stephenson should be in everyone's record collection. Click here if you need to get yourself up to date via amazon.
Oh and if anyone living in or around Glasgow wants a great night out just before Xmas, then Martin and the boys are playing two nights on 18th and 19th December in very intimate surroundings. Both night are part of The wonderful Sounds In the Suburbs events promoted by Alan Hendry, who really deserves some sort of medal for his efforts.
Having said that, Alan's given me a huge dilemma. The second of the Daintees gigs clashes with a Malcolm Middleton night elsewhere in Glasgow.......
Any advice dear readers?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Today's posting was supposed to be a nice cheery thing about Martin Stephenson in response to a nice e-mail sent to me with requests for a couple of songs. The piece has been written, but I'm afraid it has to go on ice for the time being so that I can add my tuppence worth to something that I find very sinister, worrying, frightening and downright disgusting.
I'll provide the appropriate links a bit further down, but let me try and sum things up.
Ed, who is responsible for the blog 17 Seconds recently had something very nasty happen to him in that one of his postings was taken down by Google without any advance warning. It seems that Columbia Records objected to something he had posted quite a few months back....
Ed's 'crime' was that he published an in-depth interview with the then relatively unknown Glasvegas and posted some mp3s of demos they had recorded. All of this was done with the full support and indeed encouragement of the band.
But now that the band have signed a substantial deal with a major record label - the aforementioned Columbia Records - it seems that the goalposts have shifted. Citing something called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the label have insisted that Google remove immediately Ed's piece on Glasvegas - which the search engine giant immediately did.
Now.....the thing is this was a piece that the mp3s had long since been removed, so no-one out there could actually get a hold of the demos even if they wanted. But what has now in fact been removed is Ed's interview with the band - something that I'm sure he spent days preparing for and hours putting together as a blog piece. In other words, something creative from his brain and fingertips.....
I am at a total loss as to why this is allowed to happen - there's been a fair bit of debate and conjecture over at Ed's place as well as within a posting that Matthew put up the following day at Song, By Toad (to say Matthew was raging at all of this is probably the understatement of the century....). But it seems Google feel they had no option but to comply with the DMCA notice served on them by Columbia - and yet their own code of conduct should have allowed Ed to explain himself and/or willingly take action to remove whatever it was the was offensive.
I've followed things over the past 24 hours and now to my horror, it turns out that another very worthy and long running blog - Teenage Kicks - has also had action taken against it under the DMCA nonsense. So much so, that Steve, the talent behind Teenage Kicks (which by its anem you should have worked out is a blog aligned to the work of John Peel) is likely to pack everything in.
The thing is, I dont blame him. Most bloggers share views, opinions and songs that they adore in the hope of bringing that music to the attention of a wider public. Most bloggers are first and foremost music fans who spend a great deal of cash keeping things going. As I've mentioned before, I spend £20-25 every four weeks on a file hosting service as well as the incalculable amount of cash on buying vinyl and CDs - most of which are of artistes and bands brought to my attention by other bloggers.
And of course if you dig a little deeper, you'll find its also happening elsewhere -for instance, Coxon from To Die By Your Side has also discovered that posts have gone missing. And there's loads of others going by some of the comments left behind in various places.
Ed's story is here
Matthew's rant is here
Steve's reaction is here
Coxon's tale is here
All of these are essential reading my friends.
In all cases there's been no reason given for taking this action against the bloggers other than Google or whichever host was reacting to a demand from a record label.
So....does that mean that record labels can now employ someone to surf the Internet using all sorts of search engines for the artistes/bands under their charge and send out orders demanding the removal of blog pieces that are critical?? Well, given they are prepared to remove fawning articles such as that of Ed's in respect of Glasvegas, it is a fairly likely scenario.
Some folk - and Ed in particular - have been quite restrained in their response to what has happened. I reckon that when, (not if, but when given how this has sprung up suddenly to so many others) this happens to me, I'll likely just shut this venture down.
But I will not go away.
My own idea, and this is one that came to me in a bit of an alcoholic stupor this afternoon after a football match, is that I will instead do everything by e-mail to subscribers (i.e. - instead of posting a piece here every day, I'll send it out with an e-mail with an mp3 attached to whoever wants it - free of charge).
In other words, I'll go underground, but I'll still carry on.
I'm ready to batten down the hatches........but I really hope it doesn't come to that.
mp3 : Jarvis - Running The World
Thank you for listening.
I really do hope you've all spent time reading those other posts.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I bought this on its release in 1996 on the back of hearing it while browsing in a record shop. The singing reminded me somewhat of Morrissey. The music was rather gorgeous - lovely acoustic guitars and pianos with more than a hint of an orchestral arrangement. And it builds up rather wonderfully to the heartbreaking lyrics in the chorus:-
mp3 : Strangelove - Sway
But when I asked for a copy of the CD single, I again had that dilemma of which one to purchase. CD1 had four songs, but so did CD2. CD1 had songs unavailable elsewhere, while CD2 had songs recorded live for a session on BBC Bristol.
The clincher however was the simple fact that CD2 had a cover version - a song that had already also been covered by the aforementioned Morrissey:-
mp3 : Strangelove - Moon River (live acoustic version)
Its nice enough, if nothing really special.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
But what I do have is a 1990 tribute record, issued by the NME in aid of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre.
The full tracklisting is:-
1. Bruce Springsteen - Viva Las Vegas
2. Sydney Youngblood - (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear
3. Tanita Tikaram - Loving You
4. Robert Plant - Let's Have A Party
5. The Pogues - Got A Lot O'Livin To Do
6. Holly Johnson - Love Me Tender
7. Paul McCartney - It's Now Or Never
8. Dion DiMucci - Mean Woman Blues
9. The Jesus And Mary Chain - Guitar Man
10. Cath Carroll & Steve Albini - Kid Creole
11. Aaron Neville - Young And Beautiful
12. Vivan Stanshall & The Big Boys - (There's) No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car
13. The Primitives - (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care
14. Hall & Oates - Can't Help Falling In Love
15. The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra - Crawfish
16. Ian McCulloch - Return To Sender
17. Fuzzbox - Trouble
18. The Hollow Men - Thanks To The Rolling Sea
19. The Blow Monkeys - Follow That Dream
20. Lemmy & The Upsetters With Mick Green - Blue Suede Shoes
21. Nanci Griffith & The Blue Moon Orchestra - Wooden Heart
22. The Jeff Healey Band - Down In The Alley
23. The Cramps - Jailhouse Rock
24. Les Negresses Vertes - Marguerita
25. Pop Will Eat Itself - Rock-A-Hula-Baby
26. Elvis Presley - King Of The Whole Wide World
It's a record I've hardly played - maybe twice at the very most. You only need to look at some of the artists involved to see that they are a long way removed from what I would normally listen to. But I suppose the idea was to make the record have a bit of something for everyone so that sales would maximise.
Now given that the record did come out in aid of charity, how about if you download and keep any of these tracks, you give a little something back by donating here. Every little counts.
mp3 : The Jesus And Mary Chain - Guitar Man
mp3 : The Cramps - Jailhouse Rock
mp3 : Bruce Springsteen - Viva Las Vegas
mp3 : Cath Carroll & Steve Albini - King Creole
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Now I've said before that I'm fond of the occasional Spandau Ballet song - and as with anyone else who says that, I normally escape censure if I say its Chant No.1.
And while that is probably my favourite track by the group, I've also been known to sing the praises of Musclebound, To Cut A Long Story Short, The Freeze and today's offering:-
mp3 : Spandau Ballet - Paint Me Down
Probably the best bit of bass slapping by anyone who ever appeared in Eastenders.
This would probably have featured before now if I could find the 12" single that I know I once owned. Whether I loaned it to someone and forgot about it, or in fact someone nicked it from the collection at some party pr other (it has been known to happen in Glasgow you know...), I have no idea. But the mp3 is taken from the 1982 LP Diamond.
So, if anyone does happen to have a copy of the 12", I'd be more than happy to accept an unsolicited gift via cybermail.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I got to the letters F and E the other night, and this allowed me to listen to a couple of things I haven’t heard for at least 20 years if not longer, and what I hear came as a surprise, both pleasant and unpleasant.
Let’s deal with the audio nasty and get it out of the way.
I was sure that the band Easterhouse, a Manchester band named after a notorious housing estate here in Glasgow, had to be regarded as one of the great lost indie bands of the 80s. They were championed by the music press, particularly the NME and Melody Maker, partly because of the way they sounded, but also because they were a band who wore their left-wing leanings on their sleeves.
So I guess I was expecting this to sound a little bit like a cross between The Smiths, The Redskins and Billy Bragg:-
mp3 : Easterhouse – Come Out Fighting
Instead, it’s something that is a very poor punter’s version of sub-standard Springsteen. There is no way this could ever be thought of as indie, nor is it powerful enough to capture the attention of those who love their stadium rock. It is quite frankly piss poor.
I only know one other song by Easterhouse – Whistling In the Dark - which I'm well familiar with as it was on a compilation tape I used to listen to regularly when I was commuting for years back and forth between Glasgow and Edinburgh. But it sounds absolutely nothing like Come Out Fighting.
I’m guessing that I bought this single on the assumption all Easterhouse songs sounded the same, and I reckon I maybe played it two or three times, decided I didn’t like it and promptly forgot all about it. I just wish I had thrown it away as I would have avoided the sheer awfulness of it all the other night.
But for every yang, there has to be a ying…..and it came from a band whose haircuts have had them ridiculed in many forms of popular culture over the past 20 years, particular in one scene in Pulp Fiction.
The thing about A Flock of Seagulls was that they first became famous over in the USA before being noticed in the UK. They were a band who owed a lot of their fame to being on heavy rotation in the period just after the launch of MTV when most major labels and bands didn’t do pop promos.
They came back home to the UK with a big reputation, one that they tried to cement by making all sorts of TV appearances and a major tour. One big problem was that the haircuts and clothes were more memorable than the performances...
There was a lot of hype over the singles I Ran and Wishing which did quite well in the charts. They were OK on the likes of Top Of The Pops when they were miming, but when they appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test and had to perform live, they sounded awful. Around the same time, I caught them play a show at Strathclyde Student Union, and it was quite shocking. The singer was flat and the band weren’t in tune. And the audience were totally bored. It was all rather sad...
From the night of that gig, I've never made an effort to listen to any stuff by AFOS, until the other night, when I gave a spin to the one 12” single I have:-
mp3 : A Flock Of Seagulls – Telecommunication
Now I’m not claiming it is one of the best records ever made, but it was far better than I remembered. As an electro-pop single, its as reasonable as the sort of stuff from early-era Depeche Mode and Heaven 17. Problem was, for AFOS, the damage had been done as they could never live up to the hype...
Or maybe it was just the fact the haircut is easier to recall than then the music..
Monday, October 20, 2008
A £55m scheme to help stop the misuse of blue disabled parking badges in England has been announced.
One in every 200 badges is stolen each year, and some London boroughs are dealing with hundreds of cases of stolen, forged or misused badges. The government says it is looking to give councils new powers to confiscate stolen or forged badges.
It is also extending the badge scheme to people with temporary mobility problems or mental health problems. Others set to benefit are disabled armed forces personnel, who will be automatically entitled to a badge, and young children with disabilities.
A £10m national data-sharing system will be established by councils to make sure stolen or forged badges from outside their areas can be detected. The Department for Transport is also looking at new ways to make the badges harder to forge, including barcodes that can be read through windscreens.
The badges, introduced 37 years ago, are held by about 2.3 million people in England and allow almost unhindered parking across Europe. Use of one by an able-bodied person carries a fine of up to £1,000. Despite the deterrent, councils say the problem of stolen and forged passes is now "rife" and they need tougher powers to question drivers and seize illegitimate permits.
Mary Murphy, from Camden Council in north London, said fraud was a big problem and there were cases where badges had been photocopied or sold.
"People are willing to buy them because obviously there's a saving if you use a blue badge and you don't have to pay for parking," she said.
There have been reports of badges being sold on the black market for up to £1,500.
Transport Minister Paul Clark said: "It is time to get tough and stop blue badge abuse and vehicle crime. Alongside this we need to make sure everyone who needs a badge receives one."
Under the new scheme, the assessment for eligibility for a badge is to be standardised and carried out by dedicated medical assessors.
Until now, GPs have authorised the issuing of badges but some say they would be happy for that responsibility to be taken out of their hands.
Mr Clark told BBC Radio's Five Live it was important to make sure disabled parking spaces were available for people who genuinely needed them.
Celine Llewellyn Jones has had her blue badge stolen twice, forcing her to use expensive taxis and rely on others to do her shopping until she received a replacement.
"My car is an extension of my legs and without being able to park, it's virtually useless," she told BBC Radio's Five Live.
Here at TVV we give a huge cheer to the government, and demand that anyone caught falsely using a blue badge be put in the stocks where we can pelt them with rotten eggs.
We also give almighty praise to Birkenhead pop-combo Half Man Half Biscuit without whom the government would never have acted:-
mp3 : Half Man Half Biscuit - Blue Badge Abuser
As featured on the excellent 2008 release CSI Ambleside which you can buy here.
PS : There is no irony meant here whatsoever.....OK maybe the stocks bit.....but I'd change the legislation so the maximum fine is £5000 and jail a possibility for repeat offenders.
But the thing is, I have two tickets to go see Roddy Frame at the Oran Mor, Glasgow on Monday 10th November, and no-one to go with.
Mrs Villain is now required to be in London on business, and my old mate Jacques the Kipper is required to do a bit of babysitting that night as Mrs JtK is also away working.
So.....if you do fancy blagging the ticket (and there really is no need to actually even meet me as I'll post it to you), then send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
If more than one of you sends in an e-mail by Friday 31 October, then I'll draw the name out of a baseball cap.
mp3 : Roddy Frame - Tell The Truth
Thinking back, this was the start of the serious love affair with music.
It was the year when I was finally able to go and see bands at the Glasgow Apollo. It was the year that I worked for some 8 weeks over the summer break between 4th and 5th year at school to have some money to begin to build up a record collection. It was the year of what I thought was the first serious girlfriend…..but it didn’t last, mainly due to our tastes in music being very different. She was a disco-dolly – and while I wasn’t totally adverse to the white ice and bright lights, I was more excited by boys in bands making lots of noise with their screeching guitars and indecipherable but vaguely threatening lyrics. Oh and I also had a soft spot for Sting and his pals...
Although I subsequently lost a lot of my music from that era when the 7” singles collection sort of disappeared into a black hole (readers of old will know what I’m talking about – new folk should click here), I’ve still a bunch of LPs and 12” singles from the era, and I’ve also a fair few CDs that have been purchased, initially as replacements for the vinyl that at one point I never thought would be played again.
So its been quite tough choosing four songs to represent 1979, especially as I’m intending to use these nostalgic flashbacks to feature songs that haven’t previously been posted here. I hope these will keep you happy:-
mp3 : The Police – Message In A Bottle
mp3 : Joe Jackson – Its Different For Girls
mp3 : Earth Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland
mp3 : The Skids - The Saints Are Coming
I would like to have included something by The Undertones, but given this recent outburst by Fergal Sharkey, there’s a lifetime ban been imposed. Apologies to John O’Neill and the rest of the band.
Oh and while I was at the above gig, it sadly isn't my ticket stub. I never had the foresight to keep such things....
Sunday, October 19, 2008
mp3 : Iggy Pop – The Passenger
mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday (via sharebee)
mp3 : Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax (Sex Mix) (via sharebee)
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen - The Cutter
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Today's offering is one such track - a piece of music that many other bands at the time would have loved to have been able to offer up as a single rather than something that's almost a throwaway:-
mp3 : The Go-Betweens - Wait Until June
This first appeared in July 1988 as the b-side to the dreamy yet sinister Streets Of Your Town, which was about as close to a UK hit as the band ever got.
Until the 2004 CD re-release of the 16 Lovers Lane, which came with a bonus disc of b-sides and live recordings from that particular era, the only way you could ever get to hear Wait Until June was if you owned the 7" or 12" single. OK, so technically, the song isn't all that difficult to get a hold of nowadays, but there's got to be something different about hearing it via the needle settling into the groove.
It's the 12" single I have in the cupboard, and here's the other two tracks:-
mp3 : The Go-Betweens - Streets Of Your Town
mp3 : The Go-Betweens - Casanova's Last Words
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Sometimes I was mug enough to buy the different formats, but quite often I would take my pick of one or the other. As i did back in 1996 when I bought something by Manic Street Preachers for the first time.
It wasn't that I had any dislike for the Manics in their early years, but they were very much a band that I could take or leave in equal measures. I was never moved enough by any of their first three albums or near twenty singles to spend my hard earned cash on them - but equally I would never argue in the pub that they weren't all they were cracked up to be. Like most music fans, I was intrigued by the appearance of band member Richey James, and assumed the incident would be the end of the group.
But this, the 'comeback' single in April 1996 was something that I found pretty astonishing on first listen, which must have been on the radio in the morning before going to work. I recall phoning up a colleague who I knew was a big Manics fan to tell him how impressed I was with it all, and I recall him raving down the phone that if someone like me 'had seen the light', then at long last the rest of the world was going to come to realise that the Welsh combo were indeed the best band that walked the planet.
Anyways, I did go out that same day to buy the single and I was faced with the dilemma of paying £3.99 for the one in the silver sleeve with four different songs on it, or the one with the gold sleeve that had an orchestral version of the single plus a track mixed by The Chemical Brothers.
I went for the latter - something I don't regret as I'm still quite fond of everything, and I still reckon the single is the best thing the band ever did:-
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers - A Design For Life
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers - A Design For Life (Stealth Sonic Orchestra Version)
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers - Faster (Vocal Mix)
Oh there is a fourth track on the CD - an instrumental version of the Stealth Sonic thingy, but its not all that different from the one with the vocal.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
It was actually as far back as 1988 that the band first got together, and by 1990 an EP and LP had been released on a small indie label. The music press immediately lumped them in with 'shoegazing' genre that was rather prevalent at the time, and they were soon signed to Rough Trade, the largest and best-known of the UK indie labels. Before they had even had time to record an LP, the record label collapsed, but such was the regard that the band was held in that they were immediately signed by Alan McGhee to Creation Records.
The first few releases for their new label saw the band really hit their peak, artistically and critically at least. Their 1993 LP, Giant Steps, was named record of the year by two of the UK's main music publications, but this didn't lead to any commercial success for any of the four singles taken from the LP, including this:-
mp3 : The Boo Radleys - Wish I Was Skinny
Even all those years ago, I had thought of this as one of my theme songs. As time has marched on, and my waist size hasn't diminished, it seems more pertinent than ever. Ho hum.
It would be another two years before The Boo Radleys connected with the record buying public, with this 1995 single:-
mp3 : The Boo Radleys - Wake Up Boo!
A song that so infectiously happy, poppy and perfect for radio that it had to be a hit - which indeed it was, reaching #9. It also led to the album from which it was taken selling by the barrowload and reaching #1.
Inevitably, the critics who had been fawning over the band all these barren years were now quick to level all sorts of accusations of selling out. Ho hum.
Within four more years it was all over, with the band seemingly making a conscious effort not to go down the hit single road ever again, no doubt to the frustration of the label bosses, but to the glee of the journos who could again go on about how we all failed to appreciate The Boo Radleys and we were all bad people for not buying their records.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I recall buying this cos it was only 25p in a bargain bucket and that it must have one of the last things I bought on vinyl as by that year it was mostly CDs that I was purchasing - but I've always been a sucker for a cover version, and these proved to all be pretty decent in an inoffensive indie-pop sort of way:-
mp3 : Popinjays - I'm A Believer
mp3 : Popinjays - 59th Street Bridge Song
mp3 : Popinjays - It's Getting Better
mp3 : Popinjays - Rain
I initially couldn't find out all that much about this lot. Wikipedia tells me they were active between 1988 and 1994. There were three albums and seven singles, all of which bar their debut single, were released on One Little Indian. The main protagonists were two female singers, Wendy Robinson and Polly Hancock.
But a little bit of digging unearthed an interesting and informative myspace site - so have a look if you want the full and unabridged story of the band. Oh and I also found the promo for another single - Monster Mouth - that I've shoved on over at The Video Villain.
Monday, October 13, 2008
But luckily enough, I arrived at the ABC by 8pm, with Mrs V in tow making her debut at a British Sea Power gig. Sadly, we only caught the last song by support act Film School so I cant say too much about them other than they were awfully loud in a not unpleasant way.
There was no real buzz in the venue beforehand. I reckon this had a lot to do with the gloom hanging over Glasgow and indeed Scotland from the disappointing result of an international match against Norway played earlier in the city that afternoon, in which a Scottish forward had the most incredible miss you're ever likely to see in your entire life. So much so, that's its too painful to supply a link to it, but it will be all over You Tube and you wont have to delve too deep.
The four band members took to the stage supplemented by a demure violinist and a mad bloke with hair who played keyboards and trumpet. Rather surprisingly, and bravely, the opening songs were Fear of Drowning and Carrion taken from debut LP The Decline of British Sea Power rather than anything from the Mercury Prize nominated Do You Like Rock Music?
Personally, I wasn't complaining, but it seemed to throw the audience a little bit. As I mentioned, the mood beforehand was a bit sombre, and the early start time didn't help - I reckon the venue was at best three-quarters full at 8.30. The effect was that while the band were on blistering form from the word go, full of verve and energy and sounding incredible, the audience were a bit on the lethargic side. But as the hall got more filled with latecomers and the band began to play tunes from their most recent and best-known LP, it all got a bit livelier.
It was a set that just couldn't be faulted - there wasn't a single moment where it flagged. After around 45 minutes, the band launched into an astounding version of Waving Flags - my own choice for single of the year - that really cranked up the atmosphere. But right away, they took things back down again with a gorgeous performance of the instrumental The Great Skua complete with a gorgeously- shot black and white wildlife film consisting mostly of migrating birds in flight. It was truly moving.
Mrs V was also loving every second of it despite the fact that she probably only knew four or five songs in the main set - she said that the performance, intensity and beauty of it all reminded her a lot of watching Arcade Fire on stage. Incidentally, she was also very impressed that Yan and Hamilton (aka Scott Wilkinson and Neil Wilkinson) were so adept at switching from rhythm guitar to bass whenever they also switched being lead vocalist.
After a raucous (and now I'm running out of adjectives) Apologies For Insect Life the band exited the stage to rapturous applause - but the best was yet to come.
If you've been to a British Sea Power gig before, you should know that the encores and end songs can get a bit frantic. For this reason, I was standing quite near the back of the venue for the whole gig - in fact for the first time ever at the ABC, I was at the section near the bar which is maybe 8 feet higher than the main floor - but I was right at the front in the centre leaning on a barrier. In a sense, it was like an executive box seat on the halfway line at a sports stadium....
Now the main reason for this was that I wanted Mrs V to enjoy the last bit of the show and not get caught up in any mayhem....and also that I'm probably getting too old to be right in among it.
So...after no more than two minutes off stage, the band returned and launched into crowd favourite and perfect singalong tune No Lucifer with its 'easy easy' refrain throughout, but yjat was just the taster for the final 8 minutes of chaos of The Spirit of St Louis. It was total Manic Pop Thrills.
Funnily enough, my good mate Mike over at the blog with that very name saw the band the night before in Dundee, and not only has he written an entertaining review, but he's been able to get some photos as well.
In essence, the band went loopy. We had a 12 foot high bear invade the stage and fight with everyone, we had stage diving and crowd surfing from guitarist Martin Noble and the mad bloke who played piano and trumpet. A wonderful finale to a gig that will long live in the memory, and its up there as one of the best of 2008 so far.
Given the boys have now been promoting Do You Like Rock Music? for the best part of 12 months now, it must be getting quite close to that time when they temporarily give up touring to begin work on the next LP and get back to studio work. Which is a great pity, for on the performance in Glasgow the other night, there are few bands right now who can match British Sea Power live.
Oh and I also picked up a great souvenir at the end of the gig - pride of place in my office will now be given to my new shiny bright red 'British Tea Power' mug, complete with an image of the bear waving a flag. Ruddy marvellous.
mp3 : British Sea Power - Fear of Drowning
mp3 : British Sea Power - It Ended On An Oily Stage
mp3 : British Sea Power - Atom
If you don't own any British Sea Power records, you've got to do something about it. Click here.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Now I've featured a few of these blogs and sites in an occasional series called Our Friends Electric. But the thing is, that there are a few folk out there who hid their talents behind a bushel with no blog or site to read on a regular basis. You just get to strike lucky with the gems they leave behind as comments on sites.
In recent weeks, I've been a bit busy at work as well as finding myself addicted to DVDs of all five series of The Wire to spend much time reading all the blogs that I love. So I've missed a lot of things including this description of being far away from home on a business trip:-
I really don't like being away on business these days. I much prefer my own bed, own loo, own fridge, own shed, own wife ....
That post-work early evening feeling of lying on a strange squidgy hotel bed looking at the ceiling contemplating dinner and an overpriced lager. Chubby balding reps sit in non-splendid isolation within the lilac flowered wallpaper backdrop of the hotel restaurant. They read at the table to lessen the loneliness.
They have a lovely family at home, yet, there they sit like 'Billy No Mates' nudging a non-homemade roast spud around the plate with a dry white and simmering, melancholic heartburn.
They really shouldn't have the Cheesecake; but sod it, it's on expenses, and that Eastern European waitress has a fine arse in those over-tight black trousers.
Channel-hopping with a warm 300 mils bottle of Heineken can't stop the sighs - as you glance at your mobile phone .. again. I really need to iron that white shirt for the morning. I wish that twat next door would turn his noise down. Half a tub of Pringles. HOW much?
I'd use the gym facilities, but I've forgotten my trainers and I'll look a complete canoute in Clash t-shirt, white shorts, white socks and black leather shoes.
I need another pillow. Shall I call down for one, or will some body odour ridden Doris pitch up with it in 3 hours hovering at the door for a tip? Fuck it, I'll put my trousers back on and get it meself from Reception.
'Newspaper? Early morning call, sir?'
"I suppose a cup o' tea and a blow job is out of the question luv" I hear myself replying in my head.
Early night, Panorama Deutsche on Channel 9,
'Love You, miss you, see you soon, put the bin out' phone calls at €4 per minute.
That was left behind in response to this post here. It was written by Dick Van Dyke (no, I don't think its his real name either....). And it captured perfectly how I used to feel so often when I was in a job that involved a lot of lonely nights in hotel rooms. Thankfully, I no longer need to do that.....I think I'd go mad if I did. Those of you who think foreign travel on business is glamourous ought to try it sometime....
Oh and I've decided that all I want for Xmas is for D.V.D. to start his own site.....Please Santa??
mp3 : Deus : Hotellounge (Be The Death Of Me) (via sharebee)
How many other folk does that passage strike a chord with???
While there was a record player behind one of its doors, the thing that fascinated me most was the huge big dial that turned in a circle and moved a red line from left to right or the other way around. There were loads of words printed on the window in front of the red line – and when I asked, I was told these were cities all over the world and the when the red line hit that word, I would be able to hear songs and talks from a radio station in that city.
Turns out that I wasn’t the only kid fascinated by such a thing :-
mp3 : Martin Stephenson & The Daintees – Sunday Halo
The vocalist announcing all the places on the dial with the ‘Berlin, Munich, Brussels, Bonn etc’ refrain is none other than Cathal Coughlan whose band, The Fatima Mansions, got an honourable mention in dispatches the other week.
I’m not sure if it was the sounds that came out of the cabinet or the fact that I was allowed to play with the dial as I would a toy that led to me having such a long love affair with music. But I think it speaks volumes that while I can barely recall that much detail about things in my life from 40 years ago, I can still picture the radiogramme.
The other great influence in my early musical life was my dad – in as much that with the exception of hearing Tony Blackburn on Radio 1 just before going to school ("and what do you think Arnold – ‘Woof Woof’"), the music played in my house would be the stuff my dad listened to (mum was too busy holding down a job AND running the house to sit down and listen to anything).
By the time I was 10 or 11 years old, I was beginning to form my own views on music – and I even started to ask for Record Tokens for birthdays and Xmas so that I could buy singles by the likes of Gary Glitter, The Sweet, David Essex and The Average White Band (yup, Pick Up The Pieces was one of the first things I remember buying).
My old man at this time would have been 37 or 38 years old – a fair bit younger than I am now. The sort of stuff he was listening to seemed very grown up – you certainly never got to see the likes of Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash or Supertramp on Top of The Pops. Mind you, he also loved Status Quo, and they seemed to be on every week.
But such was my continued exposure to these acts that I knew all the words to songs that my dad played a lot. And its a frightening fact that I still do so many years later. I suppose it’s all got something to do with your capacity and to learn and retain at such an age….
Moving on a few years in time, and I really had found my own feet in terms of music. I knew what I liked, and I also realised that my old man really hated what I liked – something I recalled in this posting during the 45s series. But what I also found was that I totally detested any sort of music that my dad liked…I suppose it’s all got something to do with your desire and instinct to rebel at such an age…..
The thing is, back in 1979, my old man was in his early 40s – still younger than I am today, and this got me thinking and posing a question to myself.
If I had kids who were in their late teens just now, would they be appalled by my taste in music and have a hatred for the likes of Orange Juice, The Smiths, Magazine, The Jam and New Order??
Of course, I can console myself with the fact that with history having a fair chance of repeating itself, my kids would eventually see the light. It might take them another 15-20 years, but one day, they would finally accept that Edwyn, Steven, Howard, Paul and Barney were class acts in the singing stakes – and that the boys and girls who backed them were pretty special as well. In the same way that in my mid-30s, I cottoned on to the fact that my old man had some great taste:-
mp3 : Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues (live)
mp3 : Neil Diamond - I Am I Said
But don’t worry folks, I still can’t abide Supertramp or the Quo.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Previously featured LPs in this series have been:-
The The - Soul Mining
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads
Paul Haig - Rhythm Of Life
Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen
Scritti Politti - Songs To Remember
New Order - Technique
Today, as the image indicates, its the turn of 1985 LP Virgins & Philistines by The Colourfield.
My own introduction to the band came via TV, and a video commissioned by The Tube for their debut single which was called The Colourfield. It was a totally different sound from that of Terry Hall's previous bands - lots of acoustic guitar with a very clear production - quintessential pop music with a hint of indie in many ways.
It came as such a shock to long-standing fans and music critics that one music reviewer was led to write:-
'This lot have absolutely nothing going for them. No sense of humour. No glamour. No good melodies. No danceable rhythms. No excitement. No controversy. No emotion. Nothing whatsoever. They are, in short, ruddy awful'
He was of course, quite wrong, and while the band didn't have anything like the impact or success of The Specials or Fun Boy Three, the first set of singles and the debut LP were quite exquisite and exceptional.
The Colourfield single itself reached #43 in January 1984. The follow-up single, Take, bombed at #70. But in January 1985, a bitter-sweet pop song, started to get a lot of airplay, and gradually it started to climb the charts. Thinking Of You eventually peaked at #12 in February 1985.
Virgins and Philistines hit the shops in April 1985, by which time the morose but beautiful Castles In the Air, a single that sounded as if had come straight from the mid 60s had failed. Unsurprisingly, given that just one of their 45s had sold in any numbers, the record-buying public shunned the LP. But its their loss.
This is a record that was ahead of its time. Just four years later, Paul Heaton formed The Beautiful South and released a bundle of hit singles and albums that aren't a million miles away from that of The Colourfield. And just after that, Ian Broudie formed The Lightning Seeds to great acclaim, and again much of the sound of his band could be traced back to The Colourfield.
Ten tracks long, and just under 40 minutes long - it didn't include the song The Colourfield, but the other three singles were there. It's a gloriously mellow, sometimes low-key, but filled with gorgeous pop music throughout - hints of Spanish guitar, synth-produced strings, woodwind instruments and keyboards all appear at different times on different songs. And there's even a protest song - the very catchy Cruel Circus which slates animal cruelty, and in particular those creatures who are born in and confined to research laboratories.
Thinking back, I think its fair to assume that the main reason no-one took it seriously was that Terry Hall had forged a reputation as some sort voice of disaffected youth - and he wasn't really allowed to carve a different and more lasting niche.
Virgins and Philistines is an album long deleted, and I don't think it was ever given a CD release in the UK (but correct me if I'm wrong). Its also something that I hadn't played in its entirety for the best part of 20 years until the other week, but its now all been ripped from vinyl to mp3s to take a prominent position on the i-pod:-
mp3 : The Colourfield - Thinking Of You
mp3 : The Colourfield - Cruel Circus
mp3 : The Colourfield - The Hammond Song