Saturday, January 31, 2009
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This relates to the post put up just over 48 hours ago in response to requests from readers. There were three James tracks off a long deleted 12" single, three Depeche Mode songs and a cover of a Depeche Mode song by The Wannadies.
Given that this was the first time I'd ever posted any Depeche Mode songs, I reckon I can work out who has the problem with it. So there's another band that I suggest we all start boycotting.
mp3 : James - What For
mp3 : James - Island Swing
mp3 : James - Not There
I ended up spending the best part of £25 picking up a bundle of 7" & 12" singles and a couple of old LPs, none of which were more expensive than £2.99. It was a very worthwhile use of 30-odd minutes, enlivened by the fact that the teenage girl behind the till was playing London Calling on the shop stereo.
One of the 7" singles I picked up was this:-
mp3 : Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls - Dream Sequence I
mp3 : Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls - Dream Sequence II
Pauline Murray was one of the first girls to come out of the punk movement. She was just 18 years of age when she came to prominence as lead singer with Penetration, whose debut single from November 1977 is a true landmark effort:-
mp3 : Penetration - Don't Dictate
Sorry, I couldn't resist including that - a rare example of a single from punk era that has just not lost any of its appeal 30+ years on.
Penetration split up in 1980 after just two albums and five singles. Pauline was just 22 years of age at the time, and her next project was with the aforementioned The Invisible Girls who were in fact the backing band for the Salford poet John Cooper Clarke. The new combo released a self-titled album in 1980, a piece of work that was critically acclaimed but didn't sell all theat well.
It was a record that really should have come out on Factory Records rather than a subsidiary of RSO Records (which, if memory serves me correctly was home to the likes of The Bee Gees!) as it had a production from Martin Hannett (who also played on the record) and a sleeve by Peter Saville, both of whom of course are central characters in the rise and fall of the best label to ever come out of Manchester.
I used to have a copy of the album, but cant find anywhere in the cupboard. I'm assuming I loaned it to someone and forgot to ask for it back. What I do remember is that it was a record slightly ahead of its time, relying on the then largely unfamiliar sound of synthesisers with Pauline's vocals often being well back in the mix as if they were an instrument. It really is one of the great lost albums of the era (literally in my case.....).
Friday, January 30, 2009
It was also the first track on the LP Kill Uncle which hit the shops in March 1991.
I remember being utterly underwhelmed by this single at the time, but it is one that has grown on me quite a bit. The opening few bars, including the little burst of piano at around 0:17 remind me somewhat of Madness....
mp3 : Morrissey - Our Frank
I suppose on reflection that my initial reaction to the single was somewhat determined by my feeling let down by the two b-sides:-
mp3 : Morrissey - Journalists Who Lie
mp3 : Morrissey - Tony The Pony
Great titles. Shame about the tunes.
The sleeve shot was taken by Pennie Smith whose work has graced many album covers, including that of London Calling.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I was a bit late to Magazine, but not by much. However, the one time I could have caught them live in Glasgow back in their heyday I decided to give it a miss. It was more or less down to a lack of cash to pay for a ticket.
The frightening thing is that I've just realised that Howard Devoto is now in his late 50s, as indeed are most members of the band. While I've no doubt that sound-wise it will all be fine, is it going to be an unedifying spectacle that will turn me against the band?
I really hope not, for the 1980 LP The Correct Use of Soap is one of the best things I have in my collection. In places, its as good a punk record as you'll ever hear, while in other places its as good a dance record as you'll ever shake your booty to. It also contains, in the shape of You Never Knew Me, a gut-wrenchingly brilliant bit of poetry inspired by a broken-heart that would surely have been a hit single if picked up by some sort of pretty-boy chart fodder. Not that any cover would ever have improved on Howard's way, backed of course by the most gorgeous backing vocal from Laura Teresa.
The opening track is a work of genius. The opening 10 seconds make you want to pogo, before the guitar solo of the late great John McGeogh makes you want to play air guitar...and pogo at the same time which really isnt all that easy a thing to do (but was a whole lot easier when I was 17 years of age than it is now I'm 45....). Look what fat's done to my body.....
mp3 : Magazine - Because You're Frightened
I know I say this now and again, but I really mean it when I say that no serious or even semi-serious music collection is complete without this LP. Buy it here.
mp3 : Magazine - You Never Knew Me
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It was released back in July 1993 on a revived Postcard Records. This was a Glasgow supergroup to top all that had ever had that tag applied to them before or since. It featured the vocal talents of Paul Quinn, while James Kirk (ex-Orange Juice) and Robert Hodgens (ex- The Bluebells) were on guitar, Blair Cowan (ex-Lloyd Cole & the Commotions) was on keyboards, Campbell Owens (ex-Aztec Camera) played bass, as well as Tony Soave on drums and Alan Horne (founder of Postcard) on, well I don't quite know....but I'm sure he was as brilliant as ever:-
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group - Stupid Thing
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group - A Passing Thought
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group - Superstar
Different versions of the first two tracks would later be re-recorded and appear on the 1994 LP Will I Ever Be Inside Of You? The third track is a cover of single that was a huge hit for The Carpenters back in 1971.
Steve also asked if I wouldn't mind posting this:-
mp3 : Orange Juice - Poor Old Soul (French Language version)
Glad to oblige.
Oh and there will be another positive response to a readers' request the day after tomorrow.**
** except it was removed by a dmca notice....
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
That's Elvis's own words on this, his biggest ever selling single, as penned in the booklet that accompanied the 1989 compilation Girls, Girls, Girls.
What I find most enjoyable about the success of the single is that lots of folk who first became familiar with EC on account on the single, and who having tuned over the 7" and finding a lovely solo cover version of a jazz song that was more than 40 years old, rushed out and bought Armed Forces and discovering it was just a bit different from the hit on the radio. I really do remember there being loads of second-hand copies in various record shops across Glasgow.....
mp3 : Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Oliver's Army
mp3 : Elvis Costello & The Attractions - My Funny Valentine
It spent 3 weeks at #2 in the UK singles chart, unable to displace Tragedy by The Bee Gees and then being leapt over by I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.
I didn't think I was alone with my views on Edwyn's gig the other night, and So I'm delighted that some folk have left behind comments to confirm they also thought it was something pretty special.
I also got an email from Scott McLuckie who has previously left some anonymous comments on past postings, as well as directly me sending e-mails with words of encouragement. Scott was so enthralled by the gig that he's penned his first ever review, and he has very kindly allowed me to share it with TVV readers:-
There are many mysteries in this world of ours and one of the biggest for me is why Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame are not household names. Throughout the land every household knows who Phil Collins is but not Edwyn or Roddy. Where's the bloody justice in that ?
If Scotland ever has it's own music hall of fame both Edwyn and Roddy should, on tonight's evidence, be at the front of the queue.
Edwyn appeared to a rapturous reception and got down to business straight away starting with Falling and Laughing. As soon as Roddy started playing you knew this was going to be a very special night indeed. There are few gigs where it was hard to find fault with anything. This was one of those gigs. There was a good mixture of old and new songs, all of which blended seamlessly together. Vocally Edwyn was on great form, in particular Blueboy which was a personal highpoint for myself.
What can you say about Roddy Frame? Is he Britain's finest guitarist? Few would argue on the performance he delivered tonight. He manages to make it look so simple barely even looking at the guitar - that boy must have been born with a guitar in his hand.
It's hard on a night like tonight to single out specific tracks but personal highlights for myself were You'll Never Know (My Love), Searching for The Truth, Don't Shilly Shally and the aforementioned Blueboy.
It's a minor miracle that Edwyn is even on that stage never mind performing so well and obviously loving every minute if it. It was a very special moment when, with the whole crowd willing him on, he got up on his feet to perform A Girl Like You. At various points in the show there were chants of 'EDWYN EDWYN' reverberating round the venue clearly showing the amount of L.O.V.E. the crowd has for him. It's hard to believe that those early OJ singles are over 25 years old and tonight they sounded fresher and more relevant than ever. The only minor gripe for myself was them not playing Felicity but hey tonight was the sound of happiness..
Honorary mention to the Bluebells for a short but most enjoyable set and also to the ABC which once again has has shown itself to be one of,if not the best venue in Glasgow.
Now I did promise that I'd upload what I managed to video....and its about 95% of the performance of A Girl Like You. Hope you all enjoy it. Sorry that the quality of the picture resolution and its size has to be reduced to get onto this blog, but if you send me an e-mail with your name and address, I can burn a copy to disc and mail it you....as long as you make a small donation to this charity (UK) or this charity (USA) supported by good mate ctelblog from Acid Ted.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
But this was a truly incredible gig.
It was less emotional than the 2008 gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow that I previously reviewed here and here (with a video clip here). But somehow, it was so much better.
Last night, Scotland's favourite bard and the godfather of all that is post-punk in Caledonia demonstrated that his remarkable recovery from the illnesses that so nearly took away his life continues apace. This was a 75 minute set complete with two encores. Edwyn made his way to and from the stage only with the help of a walking stick and not leaning on the arm of his wonderful wife Grace or one or other of his band. Edwyn stood up and sang at the mike for one song. Edwyn's voice was stronger and better than it was some 9 months ago.
And Edwyn got a reception from a packed ABC that clearly meant a great deal to him....
In some ways it was a bit of a risk opening with the show with three classic Orange Juice songs given that many in the audience would probably have come along more in the hope of hearing these than any of the solo stuff. What it did mean was the gig got off to the best possible start, but not once did it ever fade away to anything less than perfection (although someone afterwards did suggest there was one bum note on a guitar solo.....).
There were far too many highlights to mention, and we were also privileged to hear a brand new composition, one written in its entirety since his stroke entitled I'm Losing Sleep. And if its a title that makes you think its just another acoustic ballad, well you can think again as its something akin to Keep On Burning, his tribute to Northern Soul.
Just like last time out, some special praise has to be given to Edwyn's band, all of whom added so much to the night with their professionalism and their joy at sharing a stage with such a pop god. But inevitably, Roddy Frame has to be singled out for his virtuoso work on guitar. I can't really say anymore than that as words alone cant do justice to his performance.
I was at the gig with Ed from 17 Seconds and we met up inside with Drew from Across The Kitchen Table as well as two other non-blogging friends of mine. We were unanimous with our view that we had seen something truly special - Ed will be giving his take on things over at his place in the next day or so.
And thanks to Ed, here's the full setlist:-
Falling And Laughing
Poor Old Soul
Make Me Feel Again
You'll Never Know My Love
Hope And Despair
Rip It Up
The Wheels Of Love
One Track Mind
I'm Losing Sleep
A Girl Like You
Searching For The Truth
Don't Shilly Shally
As I said too many highlights to mention. But here's a couple of them:-
mp3 : Edwyn Collins - Hope And Despair
mp3 : Edwyn Collins - Don't Shilly Shally
I had the camera with me, and although I was a stupid boy in not having the battery fully charged, I did capture 95% of one song.....I'll hopefully post the clip over the next few days.
This week sees a couple of great Manchester combos alongside the 2nd best act to come out of East Kilbride (a town some 8 miles south-east of Glasgow), although I have resisted the temptation to also give you a little bit of Diana Ross....(maybe Davy H can do that soon as part of the cheese selection he serves up every Friday over at his wonderful place).
mp3 : Magazine - Upside Down
mp3 : The Jesus & Mary Chain - Upside Down
mp3 : James - Upside Down
The song from Howard Devoto & Co is a great lost single. Indeed, it wasn't until I got my hands on the box-set Maybe It's Right To Be Nervous Now (a fantastic 40th Birthday present - thanks Jackie & Richard) that I even knew of its existence. It was released in late 1980, around the time of the LP The Correct Use Of Soap, It's something that, on reflection, might not have fitted perfectly on that LP (its more akin to the lighter sound that would appear on the 1981 release Magic, Murder and The Weather) , but it was obviously just too good a pop single to have left lying around doing nothing.
Moving forward four years, we have the debut single of the Reid Bros and co. Confession time. It took me a while to appreciate JAMC. I was too busy being a bit fey and twee back in 1984 to be anything but scared of this lot. Compared to what I was listening to and enjoying in life at that time, this was just a bloody racket....and when you were reading week-in, week-out about how all their gigs were over in about 20 minutes amidst a hail of bottles and all sorts of violence, well it just wasn't attractive to any sort of boy with a CND badge on his second-hand raincoat....but by the time I heard Just Like Honey a year and a bit later, I realised that there was more to the JAMC than first impressions.
Now I know I've featured a lot of James tracks at TVV over the years (and there's more to come with something a wee bit special for the 700th post in a few days time...). I wasn't actually sure whether to post this song. It's from last year's LP Hey Ma which actually turned out to be a far better comeback release than I could have wished for. This song will, I'm quite sure, have its fans, but I'm not one of them. It's just too much like bloody Coldplay....
Friday, January 23, 2009
However, the LP he released in 1992, Your Arsenal, is the one that many rock critics now say is his strongest ever collection of songs, so you'd imagine that his procession through that particular calendar year was triumphal.
Well, you can think again.
The first two singles taken from Your Arsenal hit the shops before the album was released. In the pre-internet days, it was much more difficult to pick up any tracks before the vinyl or CD was available for purchase. And the critics had a bit of field day with both singles. For instance, Andrew Collins of the NME, a man who I have long regarded as having better taste than most, said this:-
"This is by far and away the ex-Smith's worst single - it's the sound of five men bashing around in the darkness in search of a tune. Moz is history, and we'd all do well to learn it."
Words that were penned this in April 1992 when reviewing this:-
mp3 : Morrissey - We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful
As it happens, I disagree somewhat with Mr Collins this time, for Morrissey had released a few singles in the previous four years which were considerably worse than this (and indeed, he would record some more stinkers in the following years). But I wont argue against his description of it being the sound of five men bashing around in search of a tune.....
Thankfully, We Hate It.... was in fact one of the weaker songs on Your Arsenal which finally came out some 3 months later at the end of July 1992. It remains a strange choice for a lead-single, and I'm guessing that the main reason it was selected ahead of more obvious candidates is down to its title.
Is Morrissey singing about his relationship with the music press, or is it in fact his attack on Madchester, and in particular his view that his one-time beloved James had, to many, sold out and gone stadium rock? Either way, it doesn't disguise that this was something that had a better title than tune....
The other thing that I remember being concerned about was the fact that the single didn't have any new stuff to offer on the b-sides, instead giving us just some tracks recorded live in London in October 1991. Now I know that's a trick pulled by just about every recording artist who has ever signed a contract, but at the time, it made me fear that 1992 Morrissey was going to be a huge disappointment.
mp3 : Morrissey - Suedehead (live)
mp3 : Morrissey - I've Changed My Plea To Guilty (live)
mp3 : Morrissey - Alsation Cousin (live)
* these are taken from the CD single; Pregnant For The Last Time (live) was substituted for Alsation Cousin on the 12" single (by 1992, I had more or less switched entirely to CD). Oh and the rather limp guitar playing on Suedehead makes you realise just how great a job Vini Reilly had done on the original.....
The single did reach #17 in the UK charts, and was his first single in five releases to reach the Top 20.
Oh and of all the covers ever used on Morrissey singles and albums, this is probably my favourite cos it's a dead ringer for my mate Rod.....
It was taken backstage by Linder Sterling just before a gig in Santa Monica, California on the Kill Uncle tour.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
They were largely an out and out pop band with a sound that was influenced by so many others but yet somehow seemed distinctive. Sonic Youth in terms of the guitars….a hint of Pavement in respect of weird lyrics…glam-rock as evidenced by the Glitter Band style chants….the buzz and feedback of the Jesus & Mary Chain…..and still they could sound as melodic and delightful as Teenage Fanclub. Click here for the full posting.
I mentioned how the band had been quite productive between 1994 and 1998, but then problems linked to their record label going bust had led to a near two-year hiatus just as they were really getting a head of steam. Well, just the other day and much to my surprise, I came across a mint copy of their comeback record from late 1999 in a second-hand shop.
Consisting of 2 x 7" singles (on white vinyl no less), I am delighted to bring you the Yon Kyoku EP:-
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura - Kaytronika
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura - Still Exploding
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura - Nobody Knows We're Stars
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura - Mother of the MBK
To all the acts that I mentioned in the pre-amble, I think I'll now add Jimi Hendrix, as the first few seconds of Kaytronika remind an awful lot of his Foxy Lady....
It's a great wee EP - Still Exploding is akin to the sort of songs that the band had been turning out a couple of years earlier, but tracks 3 and 4 are a bit different and indeed unexpected. Nobody Knows We're Stars is the sort of track I'd expect from Luke Haines, who of course I featured just yesterday, while Mother of the MBK has a hint of what would emerge a few years later in the sounds of The Twilight Sad......
And here's a wee postscript to this.....
After the PC crash of a while back, I've gotten into the habit of writing up loads of posts well in advance of publication, just in case the same thing happens again....
Well, about a week after penning all of the above, I got an e-mail from Fergus Lawrie of Urusei Yatsura, thanking me for the posting last September. That alone was an exciting enough moment for me, but the news Fergus was passing on was the icing on the cake, namely that the record being worked on by Projekt A-Ko, the band he formed after the break-up of Urusei Yatsura, is now complete and due for release in the next few months......
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
For those of you who don't know, Luke Haines first came to fame as a member of The Autuers, before later making records under his own name, as well as a member of Baader Meinhof and Black Box Recorder. The fact that first chart success coincided with the rise of a few other UK bands at a time when American bands and grunge was the dominant force. This led to Mr Haines, along with the likes of Brett Anderson of Suede, to be christened as the founding-fathers of Britpop....
But this bio, which covers 1992 -1997, makes it quite clear that Luke Haines had very no time or most of his peers. Indeed, an anecdote that pre-dates The Autuers has the author admitting and illustrating that he has always had an arrogant and cocky attitude, an astounding sense of self-importance and a massive ego. But he argues that he had the talent which justified all of this and therefore has every right to be so dismissive of those in the music industry whom he felt had little or no ability.
There's a very long roll-call of folk who really do get it with both barrels within the 243 pages, some of them being heroes of mine that I have long loved and admired (e.g. Matt Johnson of The The). Sometimes I was wincing as I read a particularly barbed paragraph, but mostly I was nodding in agreement, or indeed laughing out loud.
By the end of the book, I had no doubt in my mind that Luke Haines is someone who cares passionately about music, but has no time not for the music industry or those who service it. Some of his best passages are about journalists, and he takes great pleasure in some of the things said about him over the years. For instance, one scathing reviewer in Melody Maker thought they were insulting him by describing him as the new Nick Lowe, little realising that for Luke Haines, that was just about as big a compliment he could be given.
One of the other things the book reminded me of was how few Britpop singles went to #1 and how the very highest echelons of the pop charts were as rank rotten during this so-called golden era as they are now - Mr Blobby, 2 Unlimited, Take That, Mariah Carey, East 17 and Robson & Jerome are among the acts that hit the top spot. And what Luke Haines has written has got me thinking just how much of Britpop will be truly remembered in 20 or 30 years time outwith Blur, Pulp, Suede and Oasis (and of course, the first two of these bands had been around for a few years before the actual movement).
I don't agree with every word that is in the book as I reckon a number of the acts that Luke rails against had some talent. In the introduction, our esteemed author makes it quite clear that he wishes things had turned out differently, and while there's a lot of bitterness, the vitriol and poison is laced with too much humour, much of it self-deprecating, for the book to leave any lingering bad taste. Indeed in his intro, the author makes it clear the he didn't set out on a exercise in score settling - although he also acknowledges that the casual reader may have every reason to beg differ - and that what he has written is very much what he thought at the time, not necessarily what he thinks now. Nor does he bear any ill towards the people and characters in the book.....although I think that might just be stretching things a bit far.
I'm guessing that most folk who pop into TVV consider themselves fairly serious music fans. Well, I reckon every serious music fan would enjoy devouring Bad Vibes on first reading, and then a few weeks later will be more than happy to read it again....it's a real early highlight of 2009.
Oh and it also made me want to go back and listen to some of the great music he's made over the years:-
mp3 : The Auteurs - How Could I Be Wrong (1993)
mp3 : The Auteurs - Lenny Valentino (1994)
mp3 : The Auteurs - Unsolved Child Murder (live on French Radio) (1996)
mp3 : Black Box Recorder - The Facts Of Life (2000)
mp3 : Black Box Recorder - Andrew Ridgeley (2003)
mp3 : Luke Haines - Leeds United (2007)
Buy the book from here. And if you don't any Luke Haines music, well you really should do something about it.
Happy Listening......and reading.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Unsurprisingly, the bits of vinyl were never easy to get a hold of, but the fact that all 10,000 copies would shift in the same week guaranteed the band would have 12 hit singles in a row, albeit they were in the charts for 1 week only as sales plummeted from 10,000 to zero in the space of 7 days.
For those unable to get the singles, or indeed those who no longer owned a turntable, a CD entitled Hit Parade Vol.1 was issued in June 1992 containing the a and b-sides of the first six singles, while Hit Parade Vol.2 was issued in December 1992 containing the a and b-sides of the last six singles. Hit Parade Vol.2 also had a bonus disc of the BBC sessions of all twelve singles that had been recorded at various times during the year. Oh, and a VHS compilation of the promos was released - each video was shot by a separate director, with the budget per promo being a mere £1,000 (or it might have been £3,000....it was certainly a minuscule amount at a time when videos had ridiculous sums allocated to them by record labels).
Here's what each single consisted of, and its chart position:-
Jan : Blue Eyes/Cattle And Cane (Go-Betweens cover) #26
Feb : Go-Go Dancer/Don't Cry No Tears (Neil Young cover) #20
Mar : Three/Think That It Might (Altered Images cover) #14
Apr : Silver Shorts/Falling (Theme from TV series Twin Peaks) #14
May : Come Play With Me/Pleasant Valley Sunday (The Monkees cover) #10
June : California/Let's Make Some Plans (Close Lobsters cover) #16
July : Flying Saucer/Rocket (Mud cover) #22
Aug : Boing!/Theme From Shaft (Isaac Hayes cover) #19
Sep : Loveslave/Chant of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family (David Bowie cover) #17
Oct : Sticky/Go Wild In The Country (Bow Wow Wow cover) #17
Nov : The Queen Of Outer Space/U.F.O. (Theme from TV Series U.F.O.) #23
Dec : No Christmas/Step Into Christmas (Elton John cover) #25
Not all the singles, or indeed the covers, were classics. But there was always something interesting enough to make you look forward to the first Monday of the month. And isn't it strange that despite each single selling the exact same amounts that the chart positions were so varied?
Oh and in case you're wondering, I have only two of the vinyl offerings, but I did get everything on CD....as well as the VHS.
mp3 : The Wedding Present - Come Play With Me
mp3 : The Wedding Present - Sticky
mp3 : The Wedding Present - Cattle And Cane
mp3 : The Wedding Present - Theme From Shaft
Monday, January 19, 2009
The unbeliveably good news is that the good guys have won and the videos are back where they should be. The full story can be viewed here, but the salient points are:-
Reprise Records (owned by WB) licence for Lush’s music actually back expired in 2004. Lush singer Miki Berenyi was appalled by the label's actions, saying “I’m somewhat amazed that Warners can simply say that they own the rights to a video and the entire world craps itself without even asking them for any kind of proof. What’s more, given that they have no plans whatsoever to release any Lush videos - they would have to at least tell us they were going to, even if they did own the rights - it’s not even as if having the Lush content out there is sabotaging any future income for them."
Miki went directly to the label to get a satisfactory explanation. The outcome was that Warners removed their copyright claim to Lush videos, after they accepted they (Warners) didn’t own them and didn’t have a leg to stand on. In fact Warners had only licensed the videos from 4AD.....
mp3 : Billy Bragg - Just One Victory
mp3 : McAlmont & Butler - Yes
Sunday, January 18, 2009
But it was in February 1979 that I reckon the band released their best ever single.....the flop-follow up to the debut.
Teenage Kicks was not an out-an-out chart success, reaching the relatively low position of #31 in the UK charts. Get Over You however, was a bit of a disaster as far as the band was concerned, hitting only #57.
In sleeve notes to a compilation CD released back in 1999, the band's Michael Bradley said:-
"We were very disappointed by the chart position. We thought it was all over and our career was finished."
They weren't the only ones bitterly disappointed. I remember hearing this on Radio 1 one morning and making sure that on the way home from school later in the day that I bought the single. I also remember putting it on the turntable and being really disappointed in the first few seconds as I thought either my needle was damaged or my speaker was broken (it was still an old fashioned Dansette record player in those days). Thankfully, it was just the opening riff that blasts away in the background before giving way to a short wolf-whistle clearly delivered by someone who had ambitions to get on a building site.....and then the opening riff comes in at full tilt. It's Status Quo on speed......
mp3 : The Undertones - Get Over You
At this point in my life, I had yet to have my heartbroken by a member of the opposite sex.....but I instinctively knew, on hearing this record, that when that particular day came, as inevitably it had to, this was a song I would play, again and again and again until the pain went away.
There were two songs on the b-side, and they also dealt with girls:-
mp3 : The Undertones - Really Really
mp3 : The Undertones - She Can Only Say No
The latter of these is only around 40 seconds long, and the biggest tribute I can possibly pay it is that its the greatest song that Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks never wrote.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I have never been left so singularly unimpressed by a support act in many a year. Their one-dimensional tunes left no lasting memory other than all of them seemed to involve the band simultaneously stop playing at one or more points during every tune, while their efforts at creating some sort of stage presence through choreographed humour was completely antiseptic. Avoid at all costs is my humble opinion.
I wouldn’t say I was exactly dragged along to see Franz Ferdinand, but Mrs V is a far bigger fan than myself and the tickets were a sort of thank you to her for a whole loads of things.
My only previous live experience of Franz Ferdinand was back in 2004 when they supported Morrissey at his comeback gig in Manchester. On that particular night, I was hugely impressed by the show they put on to what was a fairly apathetic audience for the most part, although there were a few hundred of us doing our best down at the front of the stage to create an atmosphere in a hall that held something like 12,000 folk. I’ll also willingly admit to liking almost all the songs on their self-titled debut LP….but I also happen to believe their second album, You Could Have It So Much Better, was, for the most part, a stinker (not a view, I hasten to add, shared by Mrs V).
The Picture House gig was billed as a showcase event for the songs from the new LP, Tonight : Franz Ferdinand released in a couple of weeks time. So, expecting a set consisting of all sorts of stuff that I didn’t know, I was very surprised that the second and third songs played were the hit singles Do You Want To and The Dark of The Matinee. This certainly provoked a very lively response from the audience, and there's no question that the band struck the right balance of mixing the new and the old throughout the set.
But just as everyone in the audience seemed to be getting geared up for a tremendous climax, the boys left the stage after about 45 minutes and what I reckon could only have been 10 songs (of which perhaps half were new). There was no huge clamour for them to come back, but I don’t think this was any real reflection on what we had all seen – it was more to do with the fact that we all anticipated there would be more.
After perhaps 2 minutes of gentle applause, they came back and launched into a blistering version of old favourite Jacqueline and then gave us maybe another 25 minutes worth of stuff, which again mixed new songs with the old, although it has to be said that there were far more old songs from the debut LP played than there were from the follow-up.
So much for the facts, but what did I make of it all?
Well, I reckon that the quite a few of the new songs have the potential to be absolutely massive given the tunes have a hook and the choruses demand a bit of a chant-a-long. They are most definitely, on last night’s listening, much more enjoyable than the set that were committed to vinyl on You Could Have It…
I reckon this gig showed that bassist Bob Hardy is the real star in Franz Ferdinand. Yes, most eyes will inevitably focus on front man Alex Kapranos, while guitarist/keyboardist Nick McCarthy will grab the limelight when he races to the front of the stage and plays a mini-solo. Drummer Paul Thompson at the end does a bit of an audience-participation thing, but all the while Bob gets on with his job to great effect, driving the tunes on with great aplomb and style albeit with what appears to be minimum effort.
It’s his playing, particularly on the new tunes that is my abiding memory of the evening, which does seem to back up the band’s claim that the new LP is going to be a record you can dance to….but I still reckon there’s a few catchy hit singles likely to emerge over the spring and summer, which will mean high-profile appearances on the Festival circuit.
Which I guess is bad news for those of you who despise Franz Ferdinand, but great news for the tens of thousands of you who know what you like and like what you know…
I can also confirm Mrs V loved every single second of the gig and reckons, even at this early juncture, that it will be one of the musical highlights of 2009 – her only regret was that she didn’t get a wee bit nearer down the front for a bit of a pogo and dance….although I can let you in on the secret that she did kind of lose it during Do You Want To and the opening section of Take Me Out…
mp3 : Franz Ferdinand - Jacqueline
mp3 : Franz Ferdinand - Words So Leisured
Oh and a quick word on the venue – a much needed addition to the Edinburgh circuit in a great location in the heart of the city centre. Just a pity it takes so long to exit the place afterwards due to narrow staircases….
Friday, January 16, 2009
It will always have a special place in my own memory, given it was the song that opened his 45th birthday gig in Manchester back in 2004, during which both myself and Mrs Villain hung onto one another for dear life as we willingly got dragged into a mosh pit down the front. We then showed a huge amount of common sense by retreating some 20 yards from the stage where we watched the rest of the show in a bit more comfort and a great deal more safety.
And yet.....when you compare it to many of the early Morrissey singles, it's a tune that's really quite ordinary, albeit it's a song that has a catchy enough chorus:-
mp3 : Morrissey - First Of the Gang To Die
It was the second single taken from You Are The Quarry, and while it didn't match the Top 3 position of Irish Blood, English Heart, its performance in reaching #6 in the UK charts meant at the time it was his third-highest single chart position, and more incredibly, First Of The Gang To Die became the best-performing follow-up single he had released in his solo career.
It's a song that clearly means a lot to Morrissey as he's performed it live more than any other - 286 times and counting. Click here for verification.
But as I mentioned earlier, while it is one I have fond memories of, I don't rate it as one of my all time favourite Morrissey tunes, although I do love his Buddy Holly impression near the end when he sings 'he stole all hearts away-a-hay-a-hay-a-hay....'
The single was released on vinyl and CD, and there were three tracks which, in old money, would be called b-sides:-
mp3 : Morrissey - My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye
mp3 : Morrissey - Teenage Dad On His Estate
mp3 : Morrissey - Mexico
The first of these is yet another excellent Morrissey b-side, and a song that is arguably superior to some of those which appeared on You Are The Quarry. However, I feel that while Mexico has a nice enough melody, it is somewhat let down by an unusually dull lyric, and while Teenage Dad... has an engaging and sarcastic lyric, it is very badly let down by a pedestrian and plodding tune.
But I'm sure there will folk out there prepared to tell me that I'm well wide of the mark with such observations.
Incidentally, the photo used on the sleeve would appear to have been taken the same day as the photo that features on You Are The Quarry as the suit, shirt and tie combo appear to be identical.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Nowadays, it just makes me think of the sad and premature death of Grant McLennan.
I recall a schoolboy coming home
Through fields of cane
To a house of tin and timber
And in the sky, a rain of falling cinders
From time to time, the waste
I recall a boy in bigger pants
Just waiting for a chance
His father's watch, he left it in the showers
From time to time, the waste
I recall a bigger brighter world
A world of books
And silent times in thought
And then the railroad, the railroad takes him home
Through fields of cattle
Through fields of cane
From time to time, the waste
And the waste
Further, Longer, Higher, Older.
Written in the summer of 1982 by a homesick Australian using a borrowed guitar in a bedsit in the Paddington area of London. Released as a single in February 1983, it can also be found as a track on the LP Before Hollywood.
mp3 : The Go-Betweens - Cattle and Cane
mp3 : The Go-Betweens - Heaven Says
Isn't it all just quite beautiful?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
It features the original Sugababes line-up of Siobhan Donaghy, Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan, who were all just 15 or 16 years of age when the success of this single changed their lives forever.
Nowadays, only Keisha remains in the band. Siobhan has had a low-key post-band career, unlike Mutya who enjoyed some solo success in 2006 and is currently part of Celebrity Big Brother on telly in the UK.
mp3 : Sugababes - Overload
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
You'll be pleased that although I'm now nearer 46 years old than 45, I have no plans to embark on a similar venture in the near future, although I suppose if I'm still doing all this in 2013 I might do some sort of rundown to mark me hitting the bullseye.
Comrade Colin brought a great wee single to my attention late on last year, and while its not one that would have made the rundown, its title really was on the ideal side of perfect:-
mp3 : The All New Adventures Of Us - 45 Forever
It's a fabby wee bit of indie-pop that is well worth checking out. TANAOU (as its easier to type) hail from Northampton, England and have been making records for some four years now, although it took until August 2008 for their debut album entitled Best Loved Goodnight Tales to hit the shops. 45 Forever is one of the tracks on the album, but it was also released as a limited edition single which came in an individually made hand-painted sleeve (something that Orange Juice did with one of their earliest releases only they used felt pens). #239 has a place within the big cupboard here at Villain Towers.
In a shameful indictment on the tastes of UK record buyers, the single, despite being limited to a run of 500 copies is still available, as can be seen on the band's myspace site - click here. It's well worth snapping up, as indeed is the LP.
Monday, January 12, 2009
But the thing is, I was there with Mrs Villain and my mate Micky, and at the time I asked the latter if, for something different, he fancied sharing his thoughts.
Micky's e-mail was dispatched within 48 hours, but for whatever reason, it got lost in cyberspace (we reckon it got stuck in a filter at one or other of our offices). But post-Xmas, he's been able to retreive it, and it's only right that, although the gig was a while ago, that his opinion be offered:-
I don't get out much.
That must have been why getting to the ABC2 early enough to see tonight's support act Sally Crewe & The Sudden Moves seemed like such a good idea at the time. There have been many great bass guitar/lead guitar/drummer three pieces in history, however, as small bands go, they were a great advert for Arcade Fire. Quite such a bland selection of MOR verging on R&B songs it's hard to imagine. My only regret was that it wasn't bright enough to read the book I'd brought with me.
So, moving swiftly on to the main event...
When you fall in love, you want to shout it from the rooftops. Tell everybody you know and everybody don't know too. It's been much the same for my relationships with my favourite bands. Once upon a time, The Wedding Present was most certainly one of those. Back in those days, "indie" was a by-word for "not part of popular culture" and trying to get someone to listen to that type of band was almost akin to trying to persuade them to adopt a new lifestyle. In my eyes, the Weddoes were the best indie band of the late eighties. There then came something of a fallow period. If not for the band itself (in its many guises), then certainly in my buying of their records. The two things were not unconnected, however.On hearing that they'd reformed last year, I went along to their George Best tour. It was pretty good, but left me pining for a Bizarro tour.
No Bizarro tour on Sunday, but I thought I'd give them another go just the same. The esteemed Mr Gedge was at the back of the club pre & post-gig happily chatting and signing merchandise for the punters. I resisted the temptation myself. Despite having been part of my life for over 20 years, it still didn't seem like a good enough premise on which to go and shake the man's hand.
Proceedings got underway at a hundred miles an hour, with the perennially brilliant Kennedy. By starting with one of my top 3 tracks of all time, I was more than a little worried that we were in for 80 minutes of anti-climax. Where could they go from there??? A load of new stuff was the answer. However, you have to bear in mind that for me,anything after 1990 is new stuff. I've not been quite as diligent with their releases as I might have been.
I'm a little older now so I doubt I'll ever experience the same fire for The Weddoes as I did in 1987. They are the only band I have ever air guitared to - and air guitaring to the Weddoes was an internationally recognised form of exercise. I think it was Paul Morley who once said that Joy Division made him believe he could spit in the face of God. Me too. But The Weddoes gave me the belief I had the stamina to go 15 rounds with the big man when he hit back. There were times during the evening when there were glimpses of that old power. Notably during Getting Nowhere Fast, Interstate 5 and Dare. I predictably loved My Favourite Dress too. This was the first Weddoes track I ever bought - about 30 seconds after I heard it for the first time in Tower Records, Piccadilly, circa August 1987.
The band weren't the only attraction. We couldn't help but be transfixed by the gayest mosher in town. He could jump up and down (out of time with the music, natch) with the rest of them, but the effeminate waving of his hands above his head took all the aggression out of his efforts. Then there were the ned moshers who looked totally out of place - surely just joining in for a bit of a rumpus I surmised - till I noticed that they knew more words than me. Grey haired mosher (with the most exclusive T-shirt), was having a good time too and there were fewer baldy moshers than might have been expected. (Can you say baldy mosher?). I couldn't help but think that that could have been me in a different life - a life where I hadn't moved on. In fact, I remember the moment I retired from that sort of behaviour - at a Weddoes gig in about 1989.
It was something of a sign of the times for the Weddoes, when they are reduced to playing in front of a couple of hundred at the ABC2. The days of a playing to a couple of thousand at the Town And Country Club, Kentish Town would appear to be long gone. On tonight's evidence they won't be returning either. Not that they weren't good, but back in 1987, NOBODY sounded like The Wedding Present. They're just not sounding different enough now to attract the same attention. An excellent night though, which at least re-affirmed my intentions to explore the back catalogue missing from my collection. (I'll be looking to the Vinyl Villain himself to furnish me over the next few weeks). But, try as I might, I just couldn't shake off the nagging feeling that I was watching a tribute band. That sounds like a damning indictment, but is more indicative of my yearning to see them just one more time as they were back in the glory days.
And especially for Micky, here's some of what he thought were highlights:-
mp3 : The Wedding Present - Getting Nowhere Fast (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Wedding Present - Interstate 5 (acoustic version)
mp3 : The Wedding Present - My Favourite Dress (live, Sound City, Leeds 1996)
And before I go, I'd like to re-direct your attention to this post from exactly one week ago. I hope you've been in touch with Acid Ted.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
'79 was the year The Clash released London Calling. For that alone I'll agree with you.
And in due course, I will turn my attention to that very fine album which was indeed released in December 1979. But this week's nostalgic nonsense looks at an EP that was released on Monday 7th May 1979.
The reason I can be so certain of the date is down to the wonderful art work that accompanied The Cost Of Living EP, The sleeve is a pastiche of what was probably the UK's biggest selling soap powder of the era, while the inner sleeve has the record housed in a playful take on a UK newspaper, right down to the pink paper. The Fununcial Times has a publication date Monday 7 May 1979, to coinside with the release date of the EP...
The lead track was a cover of a little known song by a then long forgotten 60s group (albeit The Bobby Fuller Four - thanks Davy!! - became better known as a result of this EP), and there's no doubt that with this version The Clash turned I Fought The Law into a song entirely of their own. It's far more polished than anything that appeared on their debut LP from a little less than 2 years earlier, with the drumming of Topper Headon in particular being a stand-out.
But the truth is that all of the tracks on the EP are exceptional in their own way. Groovy Times features a harmonica and some acoustic guitar work as well as a great Joe Strummer lyric that captures just how desperate things were in the UK at that particular time:-
The High Street shops are boarded up
And the terrace it is fenced in
See-through shields are walled across
The way that you came in
But there's no need to get excited
As the lorries bring the bacon in
'Cos the housewives are all singing
Groovy Times are here again
Little did we know then that it was in fact going to get an awful lot worse under the Tories, who incidentally were elected to power just four days before the EP was released.....
When you turn the record over, you find Gates Of The West, another great tune and lyric, this time from Mick Jones - it's his way of expressing how disappointed he had been with the band's initial forays into the USA, and in particular the failure, critically and commercially, of the first two LPs. The irony of course being that within a year of recording Gates Of The West, the band became the darlings of the American rock writers....
And finally, there's what I regard as the definitive version of Capital Radio...a song originally recorded back in 1977 as an attack on the biggest independent radio station in London who steadfastly refused at first to even acknowledge the existence of The Clash, far less play any of their records. The version on the EP starts with some lovely, almost folk-like guitar playing before cranking up to a full-on assault on the ears with an old fashioned punk riff as Joe yells....Yes It's Time For The Dr.....Goebbels.......Show.
And then at the end, there's a great Clash-commercial as we are all urged to get down to our nearest Clash showroom and buy the Cost Of Living EP....
As I said, bloody marvellous.
Now I've gone to the bother of ripping all four tracks from the original vinyl which has been played to death (its not my original copy as it was lost along with so many other things back in 1985 - nevertheless, its a good quality second-hand version that might does have the occasional scratch and jump.....but I dont want to hear anyone grumbling.)
This is the real deal.
mp3 : The Clash - I Fought The Law
mp3 : The Clash - Groovy Times
mp3 : The Clash - Gates Of The West
mp3 : The Clash - Capital Radio (Cost Of Living EP version)
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Its not something I normally tune into, but tonight, it featured a session by none other than Frightened Rabbit.
I'm delighted to let you all know that its something available to view on the BBC website. So click on the link below, and then on the photos underneath and you get all four songs that were aired. I'll warn you now however, that Scott has moderated his language so that they are fit for broadcast:-
Not sure how long the link will be live, so you might want to get in there soon.
PS : Thanks to a reader called jghutzel24, I've learned the footage is on youtube:-
HEADS ROLL OFF
I FEEL BETTER
OLD OLD FASHIONED
THE MODERN LEPER
Thought you might be interested in reading this, bearing in mind some of your recent posts. This was posted on a Yahoo group for Lush (purpleveinsscenicgreens).
Just a word of warning, I have had a number of Lush youtube videos removed. I've had a word with Miki who in turn had a word with 4AD/Beggars Banquet, and it turns out it appears to be Warner Bros who have claimed copyright.
4ad have informed me that Warners no longer have the copyright, it has reverted back to 4ad/beggars, but regardless Warner have had these videos removed. One included the Davina McCall interview with Lush, which contained about 10 seconds of"500", this was apparently a violation of copyright.
4AD/ beggars are trying to sort this out , but the ridiculous situation is thus. Despite the band/songwriters having no problem with the videos, or the record label (4ad/ Beggars Banquet) , Warners who no longer have the copyright have the power to remove these videos.
I do hope this doesnt means that Warners will go on relentlessly purging videos from youtube despite not even holding the copyright ...I cant appeal as I dont hold the copyright either, its ridiculous really. I mean not holding the copyright doest apply to Warners, but theyhavethe power ! I think youtube have a three strikes policy so my youtube account may get suspended, theres no discussion. no appeal, the account just goes.
Its a shame that some of this rare Lush footage will be lost forever from youtube but it appears theres little that can be done, otherthan "creative labeling" of the videos And they wonder why illegal downloaders have little or no sympathy with these corporate giants.
If anything, this is even more despicable than the recent carry on with Ed at 17 Seconds and Glasvegas.
mp3 : Lush - Hypocrite
LUSH - LADYKILLERS
LUSH - FOR LOVE
LUSH - NOTHING NATURAL