Blur v Oasis 'war' of 1995 had swung one way then the other. The Essex band were declared the initial winners thanks to Country House beating Roll With It to the #1 spot but before long the Gallagher Bros had captured the hearts and wallets of a nation once they heard Wonderwall.
Come 1997 a new and different sounding Blur emerged. The fun-loving Britpop band had gone to be replaced by an altogether more serious sounding lot. There was an edge to the lyrics, but much more impressively, there was also an edge to the music. Above all else, where Oasis had seemingly stood still and simply wanted to regurgitate the songs that were the cash-cows, Blur challenged their fans to keep on loving them.
The Comeback single was released on 20 January 1997.
mp3 : Blur - Beetlebum
Was it a dig at Liam & Noel with their never-ending fixation on The Beatles? That's what it sounded like first time round. It was one of those tracks that sounded OK on the radio but not one that would instantly stick in your brain. But it was popular enough to reach #1, only the second time this had happened to Blur after the afore-mentioned Country House (strangely enough it would be the last #1 single they ever had).
But it wasn't until around three weeks later that I really appreciated Beetlebum for being a truly great song. I bought the new album, called Blur, and gave it a listen. The lead single was the opening track and as I was impatient, I hit the skip button to listen to everything else afterwards. After about eight songs I realised I owned a CD that was a bit special so I stopped there and there and went back to the beginning. And listened properly to Beetlebum. It sounded so much better played loud on the stereo than it did on the radio...the talents of Graham Coxon, Dave Rowntree and Alex James really shone through...and Damon Albarn provided a great reminder of how good a singer he was. Forget the fact that Oasis were now in a different league to Blur in terms of popularity and record sales.....this was the sound of the most important British band of their era coming good yet again.
Here's yer b-side of the single. Warning...there's a reason they din't end up on the LP.....
mp3 : Blur - All Your Life
mp3 : Blur - A Spell (For Money)
mp3 : Blur - Woodpigeon Song
mp3 : Blur - Dancehall
mp3 : Blur - Beetlebum (Mario Caldato Jr Mix)
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
What follows is a shortened version of piece I put together back in June 2008 when I revealed the identity of the #4 song on the all-time favourite singles (this version cuts out the history of the band)....
It was back in 1983 that I plucked up the courage to move out of the family home into a student flat in time for my third year out of four at university. And aside from a couple of times when I've returned to mum and dad's place to sleep on a spare couch, numerous flatmates (and two wives) have been the ones that have had to put up with my mood swings for more than a quarter-of-a-century. They’ve also had to put up with my taste in music, although thankfully, just about everyone (bar wife numero uno) who ever lived under the same roof as me liked what I was playing.
This particular song is the one that I most associate with my first flat.
‘Well you didn’t wake up this morning cos you didn’t go to bed’ - as an opening line seemed to capture what every weekend was designed for.
‘This is the day your life will surely change’ - as a chorus seemed to capture what the hope of every Friday and Saturday night was going to be about as I set out in the hope of finding a true soulmate
This particular song is the perfect companion piece to How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths, yet another great hymn of the 80s dealing with angst, loneliness and a desire to belong. And while the genius guitar work of Johnny Marr was at the heart of what made his band’s song so special, so the accordion work of someone simply called Wicks turns This Is The Day into an instant classic.
Matt Johnson is probably the most under-rated and unappreciated singer/songwriter of my generation. He started off using The The as just another name for his solo efforts augmented by hugely talented guest musicians, including Jools Holland (who contribute a memorable piano solo on the LP version of Uncertain Smile) and Zeke Manyika who gave the drums one hell of a pounding on most of the LP Soul Mining, in a style that was completely different from his work with Orange Juice.
I was sure this was a minor hit back in 1983 – I certainly recall seeing the promo on the telly as well as Matt making at least one appearance on a Channel 4 chatshow performing the song. And yet it barely scraped the Top 75. Maybe that’s why the song was given a radical makeover in 1994 as the main track of the Dis-Infected EP which did hit the Top 20 and saw the band appear on Top Of The Pops.
The 1983 single was yet another 7” single that was lost for many years, but now I have a copy back in the collection. The version I owned was a limited edition double-pack, and it’s that which I picked up (at some expense) on e-bay a couple of months back. And here are all the songs in their full glory...
mp3 : The The – This Is The Day (single version)
mp3 : The The – Mental Healing Process
mp3 : The The – Leap Into The Wind
mp3 : The The – Absolute Liberation
I bet the b-side and the other two tracks weren’t what you would have expected given the pop brilliance of the single……each of them were culled from an unreleased LP called The Pornography of Despair.
And as I get older....and as my dancing days become more or less are consigned to the past....I do wonder if This Is The Day will take its place at the top of the songs I have loved most in life.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Edinburgh in late July. At the Usher Hall. I'm going along with Aldo. Looking forward to it. Immensely.
mp3 : Morrissey - Interesting Drug
mp3 : Morrissey - Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference
mp3 : Morrissey - Sweet & Tender Hooligan (live)
A single from April 1989. A #9 hit as well. Little did we know it would a further 5 years before he scaled those giddy heights again.
Musicians on this record included Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce and Craig Gannon as well as Kirsty MacColl, Neil Taylor and Stephen Street.
I know. A really lazy posting. But I'm getting on a bit now.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Mary Schmich's "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" was published in the Chicago Tribune as a column on June 1, 1997. In her introduction to the column, she described it as the commencement speech she would give if she were asked to give one.
The column soon became the subject of an urban legend, in which it was alleged to be an MIT commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut in that same year. Despite a follow-up article by Schmich on August 3, 1997, in which she referred to the "lawless swamp of cyberspace" that had made her and Kurt Vonnegut "one", by 1999 the falsely attributed story was widespread.
Schmich's column, in time, was well-received by Vonnegut. He told the New York Times, "What she wrote was funny, wise and charming, so I would have been proud had the words been mine."
The essay was used in its entirety by Australian film director Baz Luhrmann (pictured above) on his 1998 album Something for Everybody, as "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)". The song sampled Luhrmann's remixed version of the song "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" by Rozalla. Subsequently released as a single, the song opened with the words "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of '99".
Luhrmann explains that Anton Monsted, Josh Abrahams and he were working on the remix when Monsted received an email with the supposed Vonnegut speech. They decided to use it but were doubtful of getting through to Vonnegut for permission before their deadline, which was only one or two days away. While searching the internet for contact information they came upon the "Sunscreen Controversy" and discovered that Schmich was the actual author. They emailed her and, with her permission, recorded the song the next day.
The song features a spoken-word track set over a mellow backing track. The "Wear Sunscreen" speech is narrated by Australian voice actor Lee Perry. The backing is the choral version of "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)", a 1991 song by Rozalla, used in the film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. The chorus, also from "Everybody's Free", is sung by Quindon Tarver.
The song was largely obscure until Aaron Scofield, a producer in Phoenix, Arizona, edited the original 12" version into a segment of a syndicated radio show called 'Modern Mix'. This show played many stations in the United States. In Portland, Oregon - where 'Modern Mix' played on KNRK -- listeners began requesting the track. KNRK Program Director Mark Hamilton edited the song for time and began playing it regularly. He distributed the song to other PDs that he networked with and the song exploded in the US.
The song was a worldwide hit, reaching number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and number one in the United Kingdom and Ireland. I for one, am often moved by the words and the music.
And as I turn 49 years of age this very day and as my body more and more begins to remind me that I am not the indestructable force I once thought I was, it seems an appropriate time to share the song with you.
mp3 : Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (edit)
mp3 : Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (Mix)
mp3 : Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (geographic's factor 15+ mix)
Listen and weep. Or rave.
Oh and as I've had to revisit the post to put the mp3 links in....I thought it useful to left folk hear Rozalla:-
Friday, June 15, 2012
The oldest song on Meat Is Murder had been in The Smiths live set since December 1983. Indeed it was part of the set that was aired at their first ever gig in Scotland in March 1984. And while it wouldn't appear on record until February 1985, it was a song very familiar to most fans thanks to this performance on The Tube on Friday 16 March 1984 (exactly two weeks after said first ever gig in Scotland):-
Simon Goddard describes it perfectly:-
'The last of three numbers (following 'Hand In Glove' and 'Still Ill'), Andy Rourke was on top form, his vigorous fretwork visibly propelling the song's rhythm. Sliding across the stage with his jumper tied around his waist, Marr's fluid jangling gathered to a manic plectrum-grinding crescendo culminating in both he and Morrissey dancing around one another in air-punching, arm-flailing harmony. This divine, ritualistic fandango of wordsmith and composer twisting together in pure poetic motion was already a familiar site in concert.....
Mile Joyce however would remember the performance for less constructive reasons, noticeably fluffing a drum fill near the song's finish. 'Even my mum, who was in her sixties at the time, recognised that I'd cocked up' laughs Joyce, 'so I knew if she sussed I had then everybody else watching must have.'
mp3 : The Smiths vs Public Enemy - Barbarism Begins With Noise
Next up......a machine gun dance.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Today, a major piece of history will happen in Scotland.
The fate of Rangers Football Club, established away back in 1872, and one of the most successful sporting institutions on Planet Earth has been in the balance since mid-February when they were out into administration with an estimated debt of £55 million of which a company called Ticketus is owed £26.7million while Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HRMC) is owed £21.1 million. On top of this there has been a separate long-running case with HMRC which could see as at least another £35 million demanded in unpaid tax and interest arising from Rangers past use of Employee Benefits Trusts.
No matter how you look it, its one enormous and complicated mess.
Today those who are owed money are due to vote on a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) under which they will receive a small % return on the debt owed to them.
The result of that vote will be one which determines the future. The thing is, we already know the result as two days ago, HMRC revealed that they will vote against the CVA. What this means is Rangers FC will be put into liquidation and their assets sold off to go towards paying off the debts.
In other words.....they've gone forever. And that history goes with it.
It is a near certainty that at some point jn the future a new company will emerge and take over things at their Ibrox home in the south-west of Glasgow. But that process isn't going to be simple and besides, the club and its successor face sanctions from the governing bodies for bringing football into disrepute over this whole tawdry affair. It will be a long while before things get back to anything approaching normal.
Most football fans in this country, Rangers fans excepted, are delighted with the turn of events as the club have been shown to have basically cheated their way to much of their success over the past 15 years with a crazy unsustainable spending regime which has quite frankly done untold damage to all the other clubs who had to spend beyond their means to try and remain as competitive as possible. And to have do so by tax-dodging on a grand scale is despicable.
I suppose in the grand scheme of things in the world it's not that big a deal...it's only a football club from a relatively small city in a small country. But growing up in Scotland in the late 60s and 70s, I never imagined a world in which Rangers FC wouldn't exist. But then again, nor did I think I'd see the Berlin Wall come down and the Apartheid regime come to an end in my lifetime.
Some unjust things you can but hope for and dream about......
mp3 : Moby - Natural Blues (single version)
mp3 : Moby - The Whispering Wind
mp3 : Moby - Sick In The System
mp3 : Moby - Natural Blues (Perfecto Remix)
mp3 : Moby - Natural Blues (Mike D Edit)
mp3 : Moby - Natural Blues (Peace Division Edit)
A #11 hit back in March 2000, these are the six tracks you'll find on the 2 x CD singles.
The first of the remixes features the talents of Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne while the second is that of a Beastie Boy.........
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I reckon you're telling fibs if you say you can't......
mp3 : Jacob Yates and The Pearly Gate Lock Pickers - Mark
It's lifted from an album that I found myself listening to for the first time while I was away on holiday.
It's called Luck and it was released around this time last year on Re:Peater Records. And I thoroughly recommend it....especially if the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds stuff you prefer is from the 84-94 era and sorry to the band and label that the recommendation is 12 months too late.
There was an excellent review in The Skinny at the time of release:-
Out of the ashes of Uncle John & Whitelock rises a dark, 'doom-wop' debut
Hallelujah! The ghost of Uncle John & Whitelock, Glasgow's seriously demented purveyors of their self-styled horror r n' b, is reborn and delivered here in the still possessed shape of Jabob Yates (nee Lovatt), former howler of that parish.
Lovatt and co may brand their primitive psycho-billy musings as 'doom-wop' these days, but this twitch-hipped, finger-poppin' but downright dark debut sounds more of a continuum, all back-alley hellfire preaching, growling fuzz guitar and wonky stumblebum piano with a parade of cartoon monsters tripping by the junkyard where the bad-boys hang out.
Praise be and Amen for such a glorious resurrection.
Indeed. And again, sorry to all concerned that it took me so long to 'discover' it....but in my defence, I'm not that fond of the track Lemonade which was the one made available on a split single with She's Hit that I picked up last year.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
It really is a touch of genius to take a fairly obscure track by an even more obscure British band and match it perfectly to what remains one of the greatest TV series of all time.
mp3 : Alabama 3 - Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix)
The Sopranos was a series that often used music to great effect, often over the closing credits. But there is one particular sequence that will always stay in my memory:-
As Tony Soprano suffers another breakdown in the shower, the scene fades to his Uncle giving the order for him to be taken out in a hit. Cue further use of the same bit of music later on in the same episode:-
mp3 : Tindersticks - Tiny Tears (Mark Radcliffe Show, October 1993)
Monday, June 11, 2012
Returning for another look at this newest of wee series on TVV, highlighting the run of singles released by The Fall on Beggars Banquet between 1984 and 1989.
I said before and I don't mind repeating myself.....the Beggars Banquet singles are for the most part absolute classics. The Fall you can easily dance to.
And they're all available (and have been since 1990) on one compilation CD called 458489 A Sides. Oh and the B Sides were also brought together on one CD as well.
Today it's the turn of BEG 134, originally released as a Double A side single on 21 June 1985 which reached #90 in the UK charts
mp3 : The Fall - Couldn't Get Ahead
mp3 : The Fall - Rollin' Dany
The first of the tracks was written by Mr & Mrs Smith while the latter is a cover of a song originally recorded as Rollin' Danny in 1958 by Gene Vincent.
Saturday, June 09, 2012
Cocteau Twins were a Scottish alternative rock band active from 1979 to 1997, known for innovative instrumentation and atmospheric, non-lyrical vocals. The original members were Elizabeth Fraser (vocals), Robin Guthrie (guitar, drum machine) and Will Heggie (bass guitar), who was replaced by Simon Raymonde (also bass guitar) early in the band's career.
They released nine studio albums, seven compilations, and nineteen EPs/ singles.
I've a few in the collection but would never class myself as a diehard fan....more an admirer. But I do often fondly recall the first time I saw them live back in the early 80s at a Glasgow venue called Night Moves. They were the support act for The Fall.....a very bizarre combination indeed.
Here's a single released on Valentine's Day in 1994 which reached #33 in the UK, the second best chart position in their long career.
mp3 : Cocteau Twins - Bluebeard
mp3 : Cocteau Twins - Three Swept
mp3 : Cocteau Twins - Ice-pulse
mp3 : Cocteau Twins - Bluebeard (acoustic version)
Next up....Copy Haho
Friday, June 08, 2012
As last week;s posting highlighted, the band appeared in TOTP on Valentine's Day 1985. But just two days earlier there had been a superb special report on The Smiths as part of that week's edition of Whistle Test on BBC2.
The Smiths were filmed putting the finishing touches to the Meat Is Murder LP while mixing was taking place at a studio in London. Excerpts from several tracks along with short interviews formed the report.
The film was shown the day after the LP was released. Sad git that I am, by then I knew every song inside-out (title song excepted). I did my Moz dance in front of the telly as the VHS recorder captured it for posterity. Thankfully my flatmates joined in.
mp3 : The Smiths - Nowhere Fast (Peel Session)
Next up....Johnny does dancing.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Seventeen singles between 1987 and 1994. Just the one top Ten hit.
The irony was the band had been dropped by RCA Records in January 1993 after the personnel who had brought them to the major label had lost their jobs.
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself - Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies (Sherwood 7" Mix)
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself - Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies (Sherwood 12" Mix)
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself - Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies (Sherwood Dub Mix)
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself - Part Man Part Machine
(all four tracks give you almost 32 minutes of sounds)
It led to a brave live vocal performance on Top of the Pops......
It's a shame cos it doesn't capture just how good a live band they were in their day. One who made all of their audience go bonkers......
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
REVIEW OF JIM BOB/GORDON McINTYRE/8 BIT NINJAS - OLD HAIRDRESSER'S, GLASGOW : SUNDAY 27 MAY
Oh I know......it's been ages since a gig review.
But the fact is/was....I didn't get along to any for most of May as I spent the first half looking after guests from Canada and then spent the second half trying to recover from the physical/mental tiredness of the first half of the month as well as catching up with loads of things at work. Oh and gearing up for a short holiday of my own with Mrs Villain.
The night before we flew off to Madeira saw me catch my only gig of the month of May. It was a new venue for me and I was accompanied by Aldo, Jacques the Kipper and Comrade Colin on what was a hot and sultry night in the city centre. Your humble scribe was wearing shorts!!
We arrived only in time to catch the last few songs by 8 Bit Ninjas, a singer/songwriter from Birmingham who differentiated from the norm thanks to his use of old 80s-era video game soundtracks as part of his sound. I'm sorry to say that while I admired his ingenuity I wasn't too enamoured by the music. Maybe it would have been different if I'd got there in time to catch the whole set.
Regular readers will know I'm a fan of Ballboy, the Edinburgh band who've captured the hearts and minds of many music fans for well over a decade now. Shamefully, I've never caught them live, so it was a huge thrill that the main support on the night came from their singer and main songwriter Gordon McIntyre. His 40-minute set was magnificent throughout, and consisted of of versions of some of the best and most-loved Ballboy tunes, a handful of as yet unreleased material and hugely entertaining in-between song chat this side of Billy Bragg.
It's been years since I've seen Jim Bob on stage as I didn't go to the Carter USM reformation gigs a wee while back. His appearance was part of a nationwide tour to plug his new book Driving Jarvis Ham, the jacket of which informs you that he is 'an author, musician, father and occasional (once) musical theatre star.' The night began with a reading from the new book, contained loads of songs from his Carter and solo careers, had more reading from the book and then more songs, some of which were chosen by members of the audience who were holding lucky raffle tickets.
It was a performance that took a while to get going. The bit from the book was great as were most of the songs. But it seemed that Jim Bob was a bit nervous about it all, concerned that some were here only for the music and couldn't wait for the book stuff to be over and done with. His anecdotes between songs seemed clumsy, certainly in comparison to the much more relaxed performance of Gordon McIntyre, and early on it threatened to turn out a bit messy. However, no sooner had the second reading from the book finished than the main man moved into top gear and the final hour was a triumph with the quality of the solo material matching the songs from the Carter era.
I went home clutching a copy of his new book looking forward to devouring it under the sunny skies by the poolside of my luxury hotel and a quiet promise that I wouldn't again go four weeks without a live gig in 2012.
mp3 : Carter USM - Sheriff Fatman
(which was the song with which Jim Bob bade us farewell.....)
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
This popped up the other day on random shuffle. Can't believe that it was February 1992 that it reached #67 in the UK charts....and at the same time it was a Top 10 hit in their native land.
mp3 : Sultans of Ping FC - Where's Me Jumper?
mp3 : Sultans of Ping FC - I Said I Am I Said
mp3 : Sultans of Ping FC - Turnip Fish
Total silliness. And impossible not to dance to when you're drunk. But 20 years ago? Jings crivvens, help ma boab.
Monday, June 04, 2012
Pele were an English indie rock band, formed on Merseyside in 1990, by the guitarist and frontman Ian Prowse and keyboard player Andrew Roberts. They were joined by Dally on drums, Jimmy McAllister on bass guitar and finally Nico on violin. Despite their six singles and two LPs only reaching the lower end of the UK Singles Chart, the band built up a loyal live following, thanks to the energetic shows they put on, even when supporting major acts such as Del Amitri and The Pogues on major UK and European tours.
This was their debut single back in October 1991:-
mp3 : Pele - Raid The Palace
mp3 : Pele - Still In The Air
mp3 : Pele - Devil On My Back
Saturday, June 02, 2012
I used to have a copy of this 7" single but alas haven't seen it in the collection for ages. Must have loaned it out and forgot all about it. I'm terrible for doing that with vinyl and books:-
mp3 : The Close Lobsters - Going To Heaven To See If It Rains
mp3 : The Close Lobsters - Boys and Girls
Released in October 1986, this was the debut single. Still sounds great after all these years. Both sides of the single. Please don't argue.
Next up.....Cocteau Twins
Friday, June 01, 2012
The single dropped down the charts the following week.... The song however, was back on TOTP in 2003:-
While a version of the tune made it on to the same show in 1991:-
mp3 : Snake River Conspiracy - How Soon Is Now?
Next up....Nowhere Fast