Following on from the greatest hits whose success must have exceeded their wildest expectations, James released the bright and shiny Millionaires. Full of chart friendly choruses hopes must have been high.
However you got the sense that the singles and lp didnt do as well as everyone expected. Certainly some of the songs have come across much better live especially the lead off single I know What I'm here for.
I remember hearing some of the new songs live and thinking the lp will be a killer (having said that I'd thought the same about the patchy Whiplash)
The second single really should have been a massive hit. Probably their straightest love song it stalled at 14 and I think it would have done a lot better if it had been the first single
This picks up form last week's Misery Monday but we move on form bitterness to full on anger of the woman used. From Sinead O' Connor's debut lp this can only be autobiographical
I remember it Dublin in a rainstorm
The song moves from sadness, regret to anger and eventually as a sense of personal strength. It has a roller coaster of confused emotion and an intensity that can only come from that first important love
There is the soft start of that voice backed by the strings
and I wander where you when to and when did the light die
As the defiance builds so does the music
You should have the light on Then I wouldn't have tried You would have never known
For me this is always the one that shows emotion rubbed raw and not a teardrop on mtv
Elmore Leonard is one of those authors who keep appearing in any American Authors / books you should read lists that pop up every now and then so thought it was time I gave him a go. I don't read alot of crime and for some reason he is often tucked away in Waterstone's crime section which is probably why he kept escaping my basket.
Not knowing where to start I thought I'd go with the only one I'd heard of and that was only because the film version was part of John Travolta's first redemption period.
Get Shorty focuses on loan shark Chili Palmer and his adventures in film land. In a plot that zips along with complex twisits and turns, we find Chili on the search for a drycleaner who owes money, which brings him into contact with Harry Zimm a film maker specialising in b movie shockers. Harry wants to leave the horror films behind and he thinks he has the script to do it. The problem lies in that he owes a couple of wise guys a lot of money that was meant to be an investment in his films not his gambling. With Harry, Chili sees a way in to the film business and so he is pitching to executives and spoilt brat movie stars, whilst trying to keep ahead of his past in the form of Miami gangster Ray Bones.
Got it so far.... and I've not even touched on airport locker containing 300k of drug money, the ex stuntman body guard and the ageing actress looking for a serious role. The joy of the 260 pages is not only the modern day noir dialogue but also how Leonard weaves together all of these disparate elements each of which could have been the book's main plot line in their own right.
With such a convoluted plot there would have been a danger that the minor characters would have stumbled into cliche, but each is so well drawn , you miss them when they are not on the page.
Get Shorty is a great read and if you like your books hard boiled then you can get it here
Having finished I thought I'd finally give the film a go. It works well despite some cop out plot changes however it has one piece of massive miscasting.
In the book the actor who Harry wants to be in the film comes across as a man in demand and of the moment Tom Cruise type ..at a push a younger Robert De Niro. In the film he is played by ......Danny Devito !!!!!! ...who i shouldn't have been surprised to learn was also a producer. Maybe the film had fallen into the very trap that the book is there to satirise
Deacon Blue had seen themselves move from being hyped as the great white hope, to stadium tours and big hit singles , through to becoming a marmite band and experience diminishing returns on their last 2 lps.
It wasnt much of a surpirse that when the roll of the dice of getting Steve Osborne in to produce the awfully titled Whatever you Say Say Nothing didnt halt the decline that the band called it a day.
Seemingly out of the blue there suddenly came an announcement of a new tour and lp. My hopes weren't that high as Ricky Ross's solo stuff up to that point had been a bit patchy. I bought a ticket though because I guessed it would in essence be a bit of greatest hits bash.
I definitley got more hopeful when the lp came out. I guess written and released with different expectations, Homesick is a great set of songs. Gone was , and as much as I love these lps, the trickery of Whatever You Say , the preachiness of Fellow Hoodlums and the bombast of When the World.
If anything the lp was a soulmate to Raintown.
I've posted the lead off track Rae which is the kind of mid paced song with a great hooky chorus that they do so well.
The concert was a reminder of how good they are live with the new songs merging seemlessly into the set with older favourites and the odd unusual cover. The last time I'd seen them it had all felt a tad staged whereas this time there was a real sense of enjoyment and spontineity in what the band played and Ricky Ross's between song banter
For a while now there have been rumours of a Paul Buchanan solo lp , however with his track record in The Blue Nile I wasn't holding my breath. However after visiting hissyfit and choking on my cornflakes ............
This is what Trev posted ....PAUL BUCHANAN ANNOUNCES MID AIR
mainstay of Glaswegian soulful pop perfectionists The Blue Nile, will release
his debut solo album ‘Mid Air’ on May 21st 2012 on Newsroom Records via
Essential. ‘Mid Air’ will feature 14 songs written, performed and produced by
Paul Buchanan and was recorded at home, at a friend's house on the East Coast of
Scotland, and at Gorbals Sound in Glasgow, a new state of the art studio in
Glasgow. Tracklisting is below 1. Mid Air 2. Half The World 3. Cars In
The Garden 4. Newsroom 5. I Remember You 6. Buy A Motor Car 7.
Wedding Party 8. Two Children 9. Summer’s On Its Way 10. My True
Country 11. A Movie Magazine 12. Tuesday 13. Fin De Siècle 14. After
Dark The album will be made available in a number of different formats. A standard 14
track version of the CD & 180 gram vinyl (w/ download) will be available in
your local stores. There will be a digital version, with the option of 320kbps
MP3, FLAC or Apple Lossless. Lastly there is a deluxe 2CD boxset, limited to
2000 numbered copies, which will only be made available from Paul's website http://paulbuchanan.com/. This version
features a 20 page 7" booklet with photos taken by Paul and lyrics. More
importantly there is a 2nd CD with 10 tracks that are not available anywhere
else. The tracklisting to the 2nd CD is below. 1. Have You Ever Been
Lonely? 2. My True Country (Piano) 3. After Dark (Instrumental) 4. Two
Children (Piano) 5. Lost 6. Tuesday (Instrumental) 7. Half The World
(Demo) 8. A Movie Magazine (Instrumental) 9. Mid Air (Demo) 10. God Is
With Kate Bush releasing 2 lps in a year and now this what is the world coming to?
There is a little bit of me that thinks maybe I should fight against the nostalgia tour and start to see more bands live but then I find out that one of my favourite lps is being played form start to finish by one of the best live bands I've seen play .. well there is no debate
I'm so excited that Martin Stephenson and the Daintees are playing Boat to Bolivia that I'm counting the days and boring anyone i know about how good it will be and that they should come along.
If you are in the London area then the gig is at the Union Chapel in Islington on Friday 13th of April. You can get tickets here
If you can't get along (I think they are doing other dates) then this is what you could be missing
I've written before about Cancel the Astronauts who a re currently leading the "band I most want to hear their debut lp" award for 2012. Although they are also leading in the band I'd least like to see at the olympics!
They have a new single out, Intervention and it rushes along with a joyful infectious synth backing duelling with jangly guitars and sing along words. As with the last single the other tracks are just as strong.
you can listen to all 3 here as well as buying the ep.
My favourite is actually the 3rd song The Hardest Thing which slows things down a bit, but I'm a sucker for love gone wrong songs. Give them a listen and see if you agree
I've written before about XTC's wonderful but largely ignored Apple Venus volume 1. Released after they had been tied up for years in record company contract disputes, it is the lushest of affairs , taking the sound of Skylarking to its natural conclusion.
However, right in the middle is the bitterest of pills. Again fuelled by a marriage break up, this is how Andy Partridge describes it
I tried and tried NOT to write a divorce song, I really did, you have to believe me. The last thing I wanted was to come over as a grieved cattle bum crying into his beer in the bar of heartbreak motel. Or even worse, as Phil Collins. I mean, divorce is so. . . middle-aged and crap. “Trouble was, the internal stale steam kept building, the pus kept expanding inside my head. I needed a safety valve, maybe if I just put all the hurt in one song. Not even that XTC should record this song mind you. Just let me release this cak out of my head, then I can move on. “Boy did this thing come together quickly, and do you know what?, I felt better, clearer about things the second I finished the demo. In fact, I felt so different, I became very reluctant about going back to the state of mind I was in when I wrote it. This would only make a difficulty if the band ever recorded it, and of course we wouldn't choose to pick it for the album. It sounding so petulant and snide. Nobody would want to record‘Dictionary’. So, no problem. This dog doesn't need to return to his vomit. I feel different from that now. “Oh dear! Everyone in the band loves it, our new record companies love it, the producer loves it and the few friends who've heard it, love it. I was to be hoist by my own petard. Protesting meekly would do no good. If everyone else likes it so much, I must be in the wrong. Perhaps it was my embarrassment at penning such a childish tantrum of a song. Very reluctantly I agreed to record it, hoping secretly that it would fall at the last hurdle. But no, it came out fine, and I was left feeling annoyed for writing such a self exposing shanty.
The lyrics have real bite and there are some classic lines - "the four eyes fool you led round everywhere".
H-A-T-E Is that how you spell love in your dictionary K-I-C-K Pronounced as kind F-U-C-K Is that how you spell friend in your dictionary Black on black A guidebook for the blind
Well now that I can see my eyes won't weep Now that I can hear your song sounds cheap Now that I can talk all your corn I'll reap I'm not so sure that Joey wed a Virgin Mary There are no words for me inside your dictionary
S-L-A-P Is that how you spell kiss in your dictionary C-O-L-D Pronounced as care S-H-I-T Is that how you spelt me in your dictionary Four-eyed fool You led 'round everywhere
Now that I can see it's the queen's new clothes Now that I can hear all your poison prose Now that I can talk with my tongue unfroze I'm not so sure of Santa or the buck tooth fairy There are no words for me inside your dictionary
Now your laughter has a hollow ring But the hollow ring has no finger in So let's close the book and let the day begin And our marriage be undone
The mood if lifted slightly with an ending full of Beach Boy harmonies and a sense of closure
Finally if you get the chance pop over to the Chalkhills site here, it is one of the vest fansites going and it is where I lifted the Andy Partridge quote
Lazy Sunday and top of the shuffle pile this week is a bit of the more gown up side of Madness. Part of a run of more melancholic singles that started with Michael Caine that I always liked more than the whacky early stuff.
I like the fact that at this point they are confident enough to leave the chorus until 2 mins in
As I'd expected, I've ended up getting my Boo's mixed up ... easily done. This post should have happened before the last Boo Hewerdine life of live. It started off as one of the strangest and ended up one of the best times I'd seen him live.
I saw an advert for him playng live in Claygate in Q magazine which is about 20 mins away from where I live, so I rang up the number quoted to get tickets , expecting the usual ticket master type thing.
However, some awfully polite lady picked up the phone in what was clearly her living room ( the tv in the background was on the same channel as mine giving a kind of twilight zone echo) after some confusion and apologies on my part, she confirmed that Boo Hewerdine was playing at the Claygate Folk Club. The lady seemed slightly puzzled and taken aback that she had had quite a few phone calls (obviously unaware of the ad in Q) saying that most club nights attract quite a small crowd.
On the night in question and after driving around in circles for 30 mins Judi and I finally pulled up outside what looked like a small scout hut / village hall. we wandered in and sat down in neat rows on the types of chairs that took us straight back to school.
A host appeared on the small stage and one by one a few guests popped up normally in thick jumpers and with beards (it was a living folk club cliche) and each played a traditional folk song or two.
Eventually an equally bemused Boo appeared. I've left it to his sleeve notes on the resulting live lp to explain
"on September21st 2001 I arrived at the Ram folk club Claygate. I was early and found myself alone in what appeared to be a scout hut. This was my first solo gig in years and my heart sank. Here came one of those what the hell an I doing moments. i had no idea if anyone would come or like what I did. By the end of the evening I was a very happy man. i had played pretty well, the room (hut) was full, the bookers couldn't have been kinder and the punters seemed to get it. This was a turning point for me. Re energised I have since written and made a new album (Anon) and cant wait to tour again."
The concert was fantastic , at times it felt like it was in our own front room and that Boo was playing to just us two.On others he generated that corny community feel as we all laughed along to the stories and sang/clapped along to the songs.
It was until last summer still my wife's favourite gig (Take That stole the crown alas)
I've posted the version he played that night of his best know song, originally written for Eddi Reader
I needed a bit of a break from state of the nation American family saga novels , so took a chance with Ben Aaronnvitch's Rivers of London which a couple of friends had recommended.
The cover blurb wasn't promising mentioning a cross between a crime novel and a fantasy grown up Harry Potter type thing. As my shelves arent exactly bulging with the crime or fantasy genres it was with a bit of a shock that after about 20 pages I found myself hooked.
Peter Grant is a probationary constable in the Met until one evening he is on scene for a brutal murder, and surprised to be approached by a potential witness who claims to be a ghost.
He is soon transferred to a specialised unit run by Inspector Nightingale who also happens to be the last wizard in England. Peter has to swear a new oath of loyalty and become Nightingale's apprentice, called on by the Met's murder team when things get a bit too weird.
They are soon more murders piling up as the plot pulls on Thames folklore and the legends built up around Mr Punch.
What keeps the book going so well is how the police procedural and traditional crime solving are balanced by the casting of spells and emergence of magical characters. The magic element is underplayed to feel like it fits right in , especially as Aaronovitch includes a real sense of history and place around London, peppering the story with the cities real myths and legends. I learnt a lot of great stuff about some of the streets I walk every week. There is also a sense of cultural positioning, for example he tackles the Harry Potter thing full on , when the temptation must have been to pretend it didn't exist.
All of this told with a slightly cynical sarcastic edge and punctuated with occasional spurts of violence that reminds you suddenly you are reading an adult thriller
Like all series starts there are 3 elements , a whole lot of back story , the main plot and then seeds planted for the future, ie it could have been a bit of a mess. However Ben Aaronovitch gets the mix just right , the loose ends are tied up with enough left dangling to get me rushing out to read book two , The Moon Over Soho
You can buy both books here and the author has his own website about the books here
In one of those weird synchronicity moments there have been a few random posts on the Big Dish on blogs I read recently, maybe prompted by the fact that they recently played a one off reunion concert.
After disappearing for an eon after the break up of the band , Steven Lindsay eventually returned with the little heard lp Exit Music. Built around the break up with his wife the lp contains a number of simple piano based sad songs. It is one of those lps best avoided if you and your loved one are having issues, it is music to wallow in.
Listening to his voice, I cant help but think of the lps he could have made in a sabbatical that was up there with the Blue Nile
Lazy sunday and top of the shuffle pile is a track from the Pale Fountains. What i like is like all their stuff it feels timeless , could have been released in the 60s , the time of Britpop or whenever and not felt out of place. In fact the only time their sound was a tad out of place was in the early 80s when it was released
Despite attempts with the Departure Lounge I was soon back in the comforting surroundings of a small venue somewhere listening to Boo Hewerdine. The concerts about this time were mainly completely acoustic and solo which reflected where his music was going. The "Nick Drake "phase of lps and eps aren't my favourite, individually the songs are all still great, but just together over the whole lp maybe a tad too mellow and for me missing a bit of the light and shade of his best. However, live they really shone, with an audience captured by a voice and a guitar, with the spell only broken by his between song stories. Anyone who has seen his blog will have an idea of how funny he can be.
Anon mainly features voice and guitar but on this track the piano takes the lead and maybe that point of difference is why it has stayed my favourite from the lp
Every year it seems
that a luxurious box set gets released full of long lost gems and put together
with a real sense of love and devotion. Recent examples have been the Orange
Juice's Coals Too Newcastle and Lloyd Cole's cleaning out the Ashtrays and
Stephen Duffy's Memory and Desire. They show that with a bit of imagination you
can charge a premium price and get good sales form a dedicated fan base. The
thing that the good ones have in common is that the artist themselves seem to
have played a leading role not only in terms of track listing but also the
overall feel and design.
This year the one
that has got me all excited is Arkeology by World Party. It has been 12 years
since Karl wallinger's last lp of new stuff. The 5 discs features new tracks ,
cover versions, demos, b sides and general odds and ends. all with a 142 page
"any day diary" of articles, notes . photos and memorabilia pulled together by
The track listing is
Tracklist: World Party,
DISC 1 1. “Waiting Such A
Long Time” 2. “Nothing Lasts Forever” 3. “Everybody’s Falling In
Love” 4. “Where Are You Going When You Go” 5. “Photograph” 6.
“Everybody Dance Now” 7. “Closer Still” 8. “I Want To Be Free” 9. “I’m
Only Dozing” 10. “No More Crying” 11. Interview/”Sweet Soul Dream”
DISC 2 1. “Lucille” 2.
“The Good Old Human Race” 3. “Put the Message in the Box”
(Live) 4. “Trouble Down Here” 5. “Basically” 6. “Silly
Song” 7. “Man We Was Lonely” 8. “She’s The One” (Live) 9.
“Ship of Fools” 10. “Mystery Girl” 11. “This is Your World
Speaking” 12. “All The Love That’s Wasted” 13. “Lost in Infinity” 14.
DISC 3 1. “Words” 2.
“Dear Prudence” 3. “Call Me Up” (Live Radio) 4. “Like A Rolling
Stone” 5. “Sooner Or Later” 6. “Love Street” 7. “Time On My
Hands” 8. “Who Are You” 9. “Sweetheart Like You” 10. “Another
World” 11. “You’re Beautiful, But Get Out of My Life” 12. “Living Like The
Animals” 13. “Stand” (Live) 14. “Thank You World” (Original
DISC 4 1. “Break Me
Again” 2. “Baby” (Demo) 3. “Ship Of Fools” 4. “Put The Message
In The Box” 5. “When Did You Leave Heaven” 6. “Nature Girl” 7. “It’s A
Pity You Don’t Let Go” 8. “My Pretty One” 9. “De Ho De Hay” 10. “We Are
The Ones” 11. “World Groove”/”Mind Guerilla” 12. “Happiness Is A Warm
Gun” 13. “Kuwait City” 14. “Do What I Want” 15. “All We Need Is
Everything” 16. “Outro”
DISC 5 1. “Mystery Girl”
(Early Version) 2. “What Is Love All About” (Outtake) 3.
“I Hope it All Works Out For You” 4. “And God Said” (Long
version) 5. “It Ain’t Gonna Work” 6. “Another One” 7. “I Am
Me” 8. “It’s Gonna Be Alright” 9. “In Another World” 10. “Thank You
World” 11. “Cry Baby Cry” 12. “Temple Of Love” 13. “Fixing A
Hole” 14. “Way Down Now” (Live) 15. “Change The
The set is released in
the US on april 10th but no news of a UK release yet , although the suggestion
is late May- you can pre order the US version here but i guess this is at a bit
of a price premium
Tom Perrotta writes novels set in suburban America, not a lot happens in them , but what you do get is great everyday people studies with characters who all have shades of grey. The 2 most famous ones were turned into quirky films , Election and his best book Little Children (the film version made Kate Winslet appear believable as a slightly frumpy housewife)
In his latest novel Perrotta tackles the thorny subject of religion's increasing influence on Amercian society, choosing to do so through the stories of high school teacher Ruth and football (the proper football) coach Tim, who are on opposite sides of the religious divide.
Ruth, the biology teacher , makes a casual off hand remark in sex education about some people enjoying oral sex and finds herself the focal point of a new christian church's, lead by the Pastor Dennis, protests. As a result she is forced to teach the abstinence syllabus while privately horrified with the ignorance she feels it promotes.
Tim on the other hand is a born again christian , an musician, with a failed marriage and a drug dependency to recover from , he feels he has literally been saved and found new purpose in the church of Pastor Dennis
Things come to a head when Tim holds an impromptu prayer session at the end of one of his team's matches , a team for who Ruth's daughter plays.
The scene is therefore set for a theological battle held in the arena of middle and working class America. However, things don't pan out that way as relationships become intertwined and both parties begin to question their motives.
The expected fireworks therefore never actually appear although there are consequences for both Ruth's and Tim's actions.
It would have been easy to create cartoon characters in terms of Pastor Dennis and his followers but Perrotta is careful to keep things balanced. He is great and making Tim and Ruth three dimensional although he fails to shed any light on what drives the Pastor beyond a blind belief
Is there a winner , well that would be too big a spoiler , but the ending is ambiguous enough for you to form your own view
In some ways the book follows a similar them of Little Children although this time it is religion rather than sex that provides the initial catalyst and although not as good as Little Children there is enough to want to know what happens next
Despite seeming to have a bar that blocked out a view form a lot of the venue , I headed back to the Jazz Cafe in Camden to see a concert that is one of the best I've ever seen. The Gobetweens had split up a while and I realised I'd missed my chance to see them live.
Then out of the blue came an advert for a concert with Robert Forster and Grant Mclennan playing together. I'd liked the solo lps (Grants' more than Robert's) but I missed the sugar and splice of the 2 of them together. There was just the 2 of them on stage both with acoustic guitars although Robert would occasionally wander over to the piano
I remember two things , one was Robert Forster was dressed in a mustard suit and the second the introduction Robert gave to Cattle and Cain , "this is a guitar and this is a guitar riff..." (I guess you had to be there but it was a goosebumps moment honest.
Below are a couple of clips that give a bit of a flavour , it comes from a live dvd they put out That Striped Sunlight Sound which also had a kind of story of the band told by Robert and Grant through songs section
First up is the lush Bye Bye Pride and that is followed by their best song Cattle and Cain. Whether it knowing what is to come or not but Grant seems to have suddenly aged in these clips
I've had a couple of requests recently to repost the non lp tracks from the Blue Nile. Apologies that this makes it the laziest post going but this is what I wrote back in April last year
A couple of days ago I wrote about Nileism the biography of the Blue Nile. I had
hoped of details of lost lps just waiting to be released. Alas no although there
is a rumour mentioned of a burning of the tapes of abandoned
However, the author does talk about some out-takes from the first 2 lps. In
a weird bit of synchronicity I stumbled on a blog that had posted these very
tracks. How they had got them I've no idea but a massive thank you to Big Plans For
The first is an outtake from Walk Across the Rooftops and whilst
immediately recognisable as Blue Nile the use of the prominent piano does show
how it didn't fit with the rest of the lp
The next 3 are outtakes from around the time of recording Hats.
Broadway in the Snow especially I think would have fitted in just fine,
Christmas maybe and Young Club perhaps a bit too close to Headlights in feel and
sounds more of a bridge between the first and second lps so would have
I tend to go with the sweet melodies of Grant more than the saltiness of Robert although it is the mixture of the two that made teh Gobetweens so good (when you listen to either of their solo lps I couldnt help but put the best 6 tracks from each and imagine a gobetweens classic.)
Having said that two of my favourites comes from the end of their high water mark 16 lovers lane ( those Ls again) Apparently at the time the band was going through its own Fleetwood Mac moment and these are two end of love belters with Robert Forster's voice at its world weary best
I've no idea why I went to see the Departure Lounge. I remember I didn't have the debut cd, although I bought it at the gig. Maybe it was a realisation I was in danger of just alternating between James and Boo Hewerdine and wanted one last spurt of going to to see new music. The gig was at the very odd Jazz Cafe.
Tim Keegan had formed the band with friends from Brighton and the specialised in a soft slightly woozy type of music under pinned with catchy melodies and slightly fuzzy guitars mixed with strings and woodwind
They went on the record 2 more lps before disbanding and Tim Keegan now records solo and plays on and off with Robyn Hitchcock.
Live the guitars were turned up a bit, although still subtle enough not to over power the songs or Keegan's fragile voice.
I've posted the lead off track from the debut lp the aptly titled Music for Pleasure
The band's website is here where you can listen to some tracks from the 2nd and 3rd lp
Catherine O Flynn's first novel , What Was Lost a quirky tale set in a shopping centre came out of nowhere , well a small indie publisher, to win the Costa First novel award.
Her follow up , News Where You Are, has a similar feel, although this time it is set in the world of local television news. I actually read this at the start of the new year but for some reason kept putting off writing a post about it
The story is built around Frank a presenter on Midlands tv who wrestles journalistic integrity with a lack of ambition and having to report on singing pigs and other stories that can only appear in local news. In the background he struggles to understand the realtionship he had with his architect father , as his father's old buildings are demolished one by one, and his mother who he visits every week in an old peoples home and who seems to have lost her love of life This prompts questions about the legacies we leave behind and leads Frank to dig deeper into a story of a lonely death. Meanwhile Frank starts to find links to the hit and run death of his friend and predecessor, Phil , a kind of king pin of local news who went on to find fame on national tv. Gradually these two strands are bought together as a slight mystery starts to evolve.
I say a slight mystery, as a bit like the Jackson Brodie books of Kate Atkinson (of which this book reminds me a lot), the mystery is always secondary to the mundane emotional ups and down as the characters stumble through life.
The News where you are on the surface is a gentle read about a contented man who doesn't realise he has a lot to resolve, and the people he loves who will help him get there. There are moments of subtle humour but also poignancy and sadness, that left me still thinking about the book weeks after I read it