Saturday, 31 October 2009

Singular sounds - B - Big Country

As a reminder in desperate need of a theme singular sounds are bands/singers that I only have one track saved on my mp3 player

The Skids had passed me by, I was never a fan of guitars as bagpipes sound and checked shirts with the top button done up doesn't look quite right - however I am a fan of any single that starts with a"ha!"
In fairness I like a few of their other tracks so it is a bit of a mystery as to why this is the only one I have.

Stuart Adamson died in 2001

Friday, 30 October 2009

Never better than the first time - del amitri

Once upon a time Del Amitri used to have short hair and wear jumpers. They sounded more like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera than Neil Young. They released a couple of singles and a self titled debut lp before frustrated at the lack of recognition and being dropped by their record label they undertook a never ending US tour often sleeping on fans floors after the gigs and came back with sideburns and guitar solos and finally a hit in "Nothing Ever Happens"

Lead singer Justin Currie describes the bands philosophy of the time as "No chords, No choruses, no distortion, no synthesizers and no long hair, melody was god"

He goes on to say "There are more tunes between the twin guitars and the basslines in one backing track from this era than in every top line melody I've written since".

The guitars sparkle and the closest comparison I can come up with is Trashcan Sinatra's first lp

On the re-release Justin Currie ends his sleeve noted by saying "Too many fucking words though", but for me the more the better!

I bought this when it came out in 1985 and loved it ever since. My copy came with a poster of the cover art which now sits proudly framed on our landing.

I've posted 3 tracks and if you've not heard this incarnation of Del Amitri then give them a go. If you are a fan of the mid atlantic later stuff then you're probably in for a surprise

"I wanted to love her but she was never in"

"Shaving is something that you grew out of and it would take a heatwave to get you to take your jacket off"

"And you may be bleeding and leading me to the blood flow, but sleep tight tonight lions this keepers never letting go

I just wish they had stuck with the melody is god approach!

You can buy Del Amitri by Del Amitri here (includes 4 b sides as extra tracks)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

strange covers - Frazier chorus

I think this is probably the oddest cover version i have. Frazier Chorus released a couple of lps of whispered kitchen sink dramas set to a electronic background and are probably best known for almost hit "Dream Kitchen". They always reminded me a bit of a male fronted St Etienne.

Here they are covering "Anarchy in the UK"! This track should come with a high sugar warning.

This was on one the 12" of one of their singles "Cloud 8"

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Bigger than the beatles - Bellx1

The next group that should be bigger than the Beatles is Irish band Bell X1 a 3 piece formed from the ashes of Juniper when band member Damien Rice left. They've released 4 lps (and also a live lp). They are very successful in their home land well as getting some exposure in the USA having toured 4 times, appeared numerous times on the David Letterman show and having songs featured on various TV shows. Again another great band that have passed the UK music media by. Their first lp "Neither am I" was only released in Ireland in 2000 and was produced by Nick Seymour the bassist of Crowded House.

2003's "Music In Mouth" was the first one of their lps I bought (based entirely on a good review in Q magazine). I've posted the 2 best tracks from the lp. The first is "Alphabet Soup" , not quite "Deliverence" but there is a bit of dueling banjo/electric guitar going on. The second track was one of the singles from the lp the achingly sad "Eve, the Apple of my Eye"
"But you were paying the ferryman even after Chris said no"
"In the garden the snake was a charmin' and Eve said lets give it a try"
On a separate note the lp has one of the best cover artwork going. On the Cd booklet each of the song titles are featured designed into everyday objects such as cinema tickets, takeaway menus etc.

!993 saw the release of "Flock" which reading some of the amazon reviews and band forums seems to be the fans favourite. It is more consistent than "Music in Mouth" and it is here that you can start to see why in some articles they are described as Ireland's Talking Heads. I've posted 2 tracks "Flame" which was the first single and shot to number 65 in the UK charts and the more atmospheric "Bad skin day". I think these 2 represent the 2 sides to the band

2009 saw the release of "Blue Lights on the Runway" which is so far my lp of the year. The songwriting seems to move to the next level and it benefits from a much sharper production. It is one of those lps that starts with a run of extremely strong songs, it isnt until track 7 that the quality dips a bit. I've posted 3 tracks here. "The Great Defector" which is where the Talking Heads comparison is closest. "Better Band" which starts sounding like Simple Minds "New Gold Dream" and ends with a guitar assault and "Light Catches Your Face", which again shows their mellow side and deals with that conflicted feelings of visiting parents. The lp also has one song where the chorus is "You're just picking your knickers form your arse / like you're playing a one stringed harp" which makes the school boy in me laugh everytime i hear it
"You're trying to talk to me, all grateful and smiles
I'm glued to the TV giving one word replies
It's small and shameful, It's a poor show"

You can buy Bell x1 lps here - If I were to pick one then "Blue Lights on the Runway" is the one
Don't take my word for it visit their website here where you can stream all their lp tracks and make your own mind up

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cult of the b side part 3 - Edwyn Collins

Someone else with consistently high b sides is Edwyn Collins. The one I've posted was the b side of "Coffee Table Song" an early pre "Girl Like You" single. I remember reading at the time that it was a dig at David Bowie who was stuck in his post Let's Dance mid 80's rut. A reference maybe to the single Blue Jean. I'm not sure if this was journalistic licence but does contain the great line

"He is deperate to make it as a rock n roll singer

But he cant even cut it as a middle aged swinger"

Re listening to the track now I'm not half as sure that Bowie is the subject but hey ... any other ideas?

Monday, 26 October 2009

miracle mile monday part 10

Slow Fade, Miracle Mile's 3rd lp, overall has a less cluttered, quieter and more reflective feel to what had gone before. Half the tracks were co produced by Trevor Jones and original member Steve Davies and half by Trevor and new member Marcus Cliffe. It is testament to the singular vision of the band that you cant see the join. The track I've posted has one of those tunes that is instantly familiar and seems effortless. At 90 secs, a dictionary definition of short and sweet
You can buy Slow Fade here

Sunday, 25 October 2009

lazy sunday - house of love

Lazy sunday and top of the shuffle pile is a great wake up call. This is what singles should sound like. What do I like about it .. well just about everything. For a while they were contenders......

Saturday, 24 October 2009

God like Genius - Gary Clark

Gary Clark , probably best known for being the lead singer of Danny Wilson (originally called Spencer Tracy until his estate objected - what is it with families of dead hollywood stars, the same thing happened to the Prefab Sprout lp Steve McQueen) , is one of those songwriters who has that uncanny knack for a catchy tune. It is such a shame that Danny Wilson only lasted 2 lps. They are both full of pop songs that credit the listener with a bit of intelligence. Again it is back to that songwriting as a craft thing. When "Meet Danny Wilson" came out i loved everything about it from the songs to the cover to the Sinatra hats worn in the photo. Mary's Prayer is the one everyone knows but it doesn't tell half the story. A bit like early prefab sprout songs they often wander down unexpected turnings to keep you on your toes. It all sounded at the time so polished and rich as if from another age. The second lp "Bebop Moptop" was in some ways even better, the only gripe being that the production is a bit fuzzy with some of the vocals sounding like they were sung under a blanket

From the first lp I've posted "Aberdeen" a song about losing a loved one to that city. despite the subject matter it is a rush of an uplifting song

Aberdeen - Danny Wilson

"Though the northern lights have claimed her as their own
Tell her that I hope she's well and beg her to come home"

From the second lp I've posted "The Ballad of Me and Shirley Maclaine" . I remember Nicky Campbell playing this on his late night radio show to a very bemused Shirley Maclaine as she went on about reincarnation.

Ballad of Me and Shirley Maclaine

You can buy both Danny Wilson's lps here both are £6:99 and worth getting

I wasn't too worried that Danny Wilson had split up when Gary Clark's first solo lp came out. The first I assumed of many (to date it is his only solo lp). Called "10 Short Songs About Love" in a ronseal moment it does what it says on the tin. I fact it was a tad too short with a couple of the tracks almost doodles. However this is one of those lost classics that got buried under all things grunge. The track I've posted here is the first single .... needless to say it did not gallop up the charts

We Sail on Stormy Waters - Gary Clark

I was born with the blood of a whaler
Your daddy loved the ocean to

You can buy "Ten Short Songs about Love" here If you liked Danny Wilson but missed this give it a go.

I always held out hopes for a Danny Wilson reunion (2 of them were brothers after all) , as a 2nd solo lp failed to appear I quietly hoped that Gary was holed up working on a new Danny Wilson record. He had started to appear as co writer on other records working with Lloyd Cole , Boo Hewerdine etc. Then out of the blue a new band appeared with what is possibly the worst band name ever "King L". The lp "A Great Day for Gravity" was released in 1995 and was harder than Gary's previous work with his and Neil MacColl's guitars to the front. I saw them live and they were amazingly loud. The quality of the songs again means that it is no noisefest. I have posted 2 tracks as I guess this will be the one lp even Danny Wilson fans may not have.
The first is "Dumbest Story" which is fairly representative of the rest of the lp and the second track is "Two Cars Collide" which is one of the slower ones, with a great lyric
You can buy the King L lp here
Again i waited in vain for a second King L lp.
Instead a new band was formed "transister" which sounded a little like Garbage. I lost interest here.
Gary Clark has now moved to LA where he concentrates on writing and producing and has just scored a US number 1 with a track written for Demi Lovato (showing my age I've not a clue who she is and to be honest I'm not that interested in finding out) so a Danny Wilson reunion or a 2nd solo still doesn't look on the cards!
Gary Clark's myspace site is here although this focuses more on his songwriting for others.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Singular Sounds A - alan rankine

A while back I mentioned that I'd done a track count by artist on windows media and Lloyd Cole came out on top. However there are also singers/bands that i only have one track by. So in search of inspiration and a new "series", i thought I'd start posting them.
Alan Rankine was one half of the Associates responsible for 2 or 3 of the best pop songs ever. Billy Mackenzie tends to get all the credit and focus. However it was Rankine who was responsible for trying to recreate the sounds in Billy Mackenzie's head onto the record.
The only solo track i have of his is "the sandman" which was released in 1986. Apparently he has released 4 solo lps before concentrating on being a producer. I'm not quite sure why i haven't bought more of his stuff as I really like this single. It gets a bit repetitive towards the end but the guitars and keyboards work well together. I vaguely remember having another track on tape "the Last bullet" but apart from that I've no idea how the sandman rated with anything else he has released.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Life of Live - Hurrah!

I've only twice been to a concert just to see the support band and this was the first time. Hurrah were part of the big 4 at Kitchenware records along with the Daintees , Prefab Sprout and the Kane Gang. They made a series of excellent jangle singles before moving to major label and releasing a 2 lps which as usual for bands I like sunk without a trace. I've posted one of the early singles "Hip Hip" and a track from their debut lp "Sweet Sanity" which shows the more rocky direction they followed.

Hurrah came on and did 30 mins of manic guitar pop, they raced through their set , with songs feeling like they were going twice as fast as on the records, guitars played with a whirling of arms , no chat just one song bang after another. Being the support band most people were at the bar and so they was lots of space to dance drunkenly which i cringe a bit to remember I did as well as singing along (i soon developed the usual male stance of standing with pint in hand nodding along to songs). With a brief thanks they were gone. Out of the shadows the place was then over run with people in black clothes and big hair. The main band were Pop Will Eat Itself (how Hurrah must have thanked their record label for that). The place became one big mosh pit - i lasted 2 songs decided the band was awful and left feeling like I'd spent the last 10 mins a tumble dryer

"Are you scared to get happy"

You can buy "Tell God I'm Here" the first lp here

However I don't think they captured the energy of their early singles. Kitchenware pulled the singles and b sides (which are as good as the asides) and early versions of tracks from the first lp into a compilation "Sound of Philidelphia". i can only find this as a download lp now and you can get this here

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Bigger than the Beatles - the silencers

Towards the end of the 80's most of the bands i liked were Scottish or Irish. When i left college i got the offer of a 6 month job looking after the youth trainees (the old YTS) that worked for Burtons. The fact i liked so many Scottish bands was probably the main reason for taking the job (not the most logical reason but a lot more interesting than the usual money and prospects) I got to live in Glasgow and i figured for every band I liked there must be loads more I'd not heard of and i was right. One of the bands i loved at the time were the Silencers especially the riotous sing along "Real McCoy". I remember having an argument in the pub one late night with someone who described them as a poor man's Simple Minds. As someone who felt Jim Kerr lost it when he stated wearing smocks and releasing Doves in every video this was an outrage. However listening back i can see there is an element of truth in this.

They were formed in 1985 from the death of the band Fingerprintz (probably one of the worst band names ever). The aim was to make in the words of their website "guitar based atmosphere pop with one foot in the 60s and one in the 80s" (dont be put off by that!). The emphasis was definitely on melody

" A letter to St Paul" was the first lp and i first got into this via the title track which Anne Nightingale played on her request show. I really liked the tune and the girl's spoken vocal made it stand out. I bought the lp cheap in Boots (remember when they sold music?) it was a bit of a gamble at a time when I had not much money so it was a bit of relief when the rest of the lp was packed with catchy guitar pop typified in 3 singles "I Can't Cry" , "I see Red" and "Painted Moon" (which listening again does seem to lift the bassline from the Waterfront)

Apparently the lp was recorded then scrapped and re-recorded and included the guitarist having a brain haemorrhage. Overall it does have a half finished feel, just lacking a bit of depth in it's production

Letter to St. Paul - The Silencers

The second lp a "Blues for Buddha" released in 1998, keeps the melodic strength of the first lp but adds a more folky , lusher sound and is a bit more epic (the cover made me think of Bunnymen) . Again all the singles were very strong and the band started to pick up quite a bit of radio play. The strongest song for me is "Real McCoy". it is an amazingly catchy song and the whole "Glasgow a Go Go / tenement stone / Cranes like midnight dinosaurs" - and the fact that it is such a feel good song, it still makes me smile when I hear it and so well why wouldn't you want to move to Glasgow?

The Real McCoy - The Silencers

The 3rd lp "Dance to the Holy Man" saw a bit of a change of direction, well more changes of direction as it is a bit of a hotch potch of styles - pop /rock/ funk/ blues/country. Recording saw the rhythm section leave (following a fight in a band 5 aside football match!!?) and new band members join. When this came out I played it to death and it does contain some of their strongest songs but re listening to it, it maybe suffers a bit from its diversity, if not it's ambition. The track I've posted was the lead off single and a song re-recorded from the singer's previous band. As befits their luck it is released just as the gulf war breaks out and is promptly featured on the "do not playlist" for radio 1 (no songs to reference guns)

Bulletproof Heart - The Silencers

By this stage the band are massive in France for some reason but still fail to trouble the top 40 over here.

The next 2 lps were 1991's "Seconds of Pleasure" and 1993's "So Be It". For these 2 they played down the experimentation and had a much more settled sound. Overall I think So Be It is the one that as a whole has stood the test of time the best. It also almost gave them a hit when their version of Wild Mountain Thyme was used by the Scottish Tourist Board (ironically one of the worst things they've done)

From Seconds of Pleasure I've posted "Unconscious" - about the death of the singer's father and I think their best lyric

From "So Be It" I've posted another of their slower songs and one of their best

Sing to me when the rain is falling and the blues is getting in

Sail to me when the world is calling and the water form my eyes bleeds salt into the sea

They did release 3 more lps but I lost interest as to me they were too patchy but for the first 5 lps they should have been massive and not just in Scotland and France.

As with a lot of bands I like availability is patchy

A Letter to St Paul seems only the available for silly prices but all the singles are on a compilation "Blood and Rain" which can be bought here

On a sad note I learnt while writing this that the original guitarist Cha Burns died in 2007 of Lung Cancer at the age of 50.

Also to complete the circle and prove my friend right they are touring supporting Simple Minds

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

a year in books

At the moment I've just started the last book in a trilogy that where each book has 900 pages of the smallest type. It feels like I've been reading these 3 books for a life time. As a result I try to keep a shorter novel on the go at the same time. Normally the words "Booker nominated" would have me running for the hills, however this was recommended to me by someone in my local Waterstone's so I thought I'd give it a go
Underground Man - Mick Jackson
Mick Jackson’s debut novel, Underground Man, is based upon the last days of the Duke of Portland who built a series of underground tunnels beneath his estate. Told via a series of journal entries and eyewitness accounts, this is a sympathetic and moving portrayal that starts with aristocratic eccentricity that descends into madness and tragedy. The last few pages reveal the devastating secret that has haunted the Duke through his life. There is some beautiful prose here which brings to life the Duke’s inner world and makes the ending even more heart wrenching. A real hidden gem

Monday, 19 October 2009

Miracle mile Monday - part 9

This is the last track from the Miracle Mile's second lp "Candids". Similar to Walking John Wayne in terms of tempo. Starts with a simple acousitc guitar backing, and ends with one of the warmest sax solos you'll hear.

"We've all got our weaker side
From men at work to mother's pride"

you can buy Candids here

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Lazy Sunday - The Railway Children

Blimey the weeks fly by - Lazy Sunday again and top of the shuffle pile this time is something by the Railway Children. This is an acoustic version of an album track and appeared on a greatest hits package called "Gentle Sound" which was a collection of acoustic versions of singles and lp tracks. I like it because I always liked his voice and it goes well with the acoustic guitar.

You can buy "Gentle Sound" here

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Say Something - The Rant part 3

This isnt really a rant apart maybe for the end sing along, but i went back to listen to this after reading about "Workers Playtime" the lp this song comes from on Pretending Life is Like a Song

I've always liked Billy Bragg's relationship songs much more than the political ones. Even though i agreed with the content and the sentiment I couldnt get passed the feeling that it was all a bit preachy and at that preaching and pop dont really sit well together. Having said that this was written about the night Neil Kinnock lost the election to John Major. If I remember rightly Labour were ahead in all the polls there was a feeling that change was on the way .... and it was against john Major. But somehow depsite red wedge they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, which meant 4 more years of conservatives in power and a result new labour and Tony Blair.

the song starts in aftermath of that defeat and ends with a rallying cry - every lyric is instantly quotable - may favourite is the "mixing pop and politics line". I've seen Billy Bragg live a few times and the lyrics always change - however these originals are the best

It may have been camelot for jack and jacqueline
But on the che guevara highway filling up with gasoline
Fidel castros brother spies a rich lady whos crying
Over luxurys disappointment
So he walks over and hes trying
To sympathise with her but he thinks that he should warn her
That the third world is just around the corner

In the soviet union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That dr robert oppenheimers optimism fell
At the first hurdle

In the cheese pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of someone stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer

Mixing pop and politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
Im looking for the great leap forwards

Jumble sales are organised and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time theres still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While youre waiting for the great leap forwards

One leap forward, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?

Here comes the future and you cant run from it
If youve got a blacklist I want to be on it

Its a mighty long way down rock n roll
From top of the pops to drawing the dole

If no one seems to understand
Start your own revolution and cut out the middleman

In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room

So join the struggle while you may
The revolution is just a t-shirt away
Waiting for the great leap forwards

Wating for the Great Leap Forward - Billy Bragg

You can buy "Workers Playtime" here (this is the reissue 2cd version) and remember revolution is but a t-shirt away!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Say Something - The Rant part 2

The last release from Karl Wallinger's World Party was the usual collection of catchy pop songs in s late Beatles stylee, until the last track.
The treatment of the planet is a theme that Karl Wallinger keeps returning to, normally in the guise of catchy pop songs eg "Is it Like Today". however by the time we get to the final track on this to date his final lp it is as if his patience has finally snapped and we get a glorious rant. Similar to the Justin Currie one yesterday - it is along track (rants shouldn't be short) and it is wordy - the bile in the lyrics sneaked in on the back of a pleasant tune. It's a bit more hippy idealistic than Justin Currie's nihilistic view, but it is rant just the same

Where do you begin to explain the mess,
The mess you made of it?
I was only out for half an hour,
I said "please look after it".
You had to think that you know best
And forget all the golden rules,
You ignored the difficult truth
And opened the door to fools.

Now I see the strong ones make,
I see the weak ones break,
I see you running out of time.

You got a finger in every pie,
Well what did I expect?
You made an art-form out of talking shit,
And partying 'til you're wrecked.
In the small hours it's so easy to feel
You've got some big ideas,
But in the morning you should put them away
Cos' you know they'll end in tears.

I see the strong ones fake,
While the weak can't stay awake,
You know you're always on my mind.

And football's all about training shoes
Yeah, it's added up to this.
And religion's all about bums on seats.
And if you're livin' in the West
Mum's apple pie is full of 'E's,
And Dad ain't at his best;
His new car was designed by God
But Jesus, he looks a mess.

I see the strong ones take,
I see the weak, the weak ones ache,
You know it's always on my mind.

While we're busying ourselves with mines,
The chemists are working late.
They gotta breed an indestructible gene
To wipe us all away.
They're just following their inquisitiveness,
Well that's what they like to say.
But it sounds like they're just following orders
Like the Nazis used to say.

I see the gas clouds shake,
I see the rivers ache,
You know it's always on my mind.

What kind of music are you playing there, son?
What is that old machine?
Doesn't matter I can't hear the words,
Cos' I don't care what they mean.
Yeah I believe you,
You're a real street fighter,
Gonna change the system from within.
Hey watch this guy, he's a bare faced liar
Yeah, that's, that's him in the limousine.

I hear your bullshit take,
I hear your drum-machine break,
You know it's always on my mind.

If Jesus came now
He'd say "Lord get me outta here,
Cos' I, I just can't handle this".
The Lord would say
"Hey Jesus what d'ya mean?
It was always going to be this way".
"All Mighty Father, you are full of shit,
Cos' the folks down here, don't wanna be saved.
Why have they forsaken themselves?
And used hypocritical armour-plating".

I see the strong ones take,
I see the weak ones break,
You know it's always on my mind.

If you were passing in a space vehicle,
And you came close to Planet Earth,
You wouldn't stop by for tea
Cos' of the screaming that you heard;
And the lying, and the cheating, and the gnashing of teeth,
And the straight-ahead mental deformation.
You'd head on to Venus
With its welcoming sulphuric acid precipitation.

Who'd want to stop where the strong ones reign,
But they won't ease the weak ones pain?
You know out of sight would be really out of mind.

Well I'm sittin' here watching little kids starve,
And worlds get thrown away.
I'm thinking there's just gonna be more
Before any goodness has its way.
I'm sick of feeling sick of you,
You're too smart to be like this.
But you've got no legends that will guide your soul,
Now you're really taking the piss.

I see the weak ones strong someday,
Not in any silly Communist way,
More like in the movement of Elvis' hip-sway,
When civilisation comes and stays,
When all the corporations have gone away,
When laughing gas is handed out on the Big Love Day,
When egos are driven underground cos' they get no approbation,
When boys and girls are laughing in every nation,
When the Truth is pursued for relaxation,
When living with the world is our aspiration,
When there's no mileage in hate, and no gas-stations,
And the creatures are protected from mammals to crustaceans,
And the soul has found it's LIBERATION.
You know this is always on my mind.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Say Something - The Rant part 1

There is nothing like a good old rant and for the next couple of days I'm going to post a couple of rants to music

A couple of years ago Justin Currie released a solo lp called "What is Love For". It was the usual down beat, semi acoustic love gone wrong songs, until the last track "No Surrender". Although the backing track was pleasant enough the lyrics and voice were one long bile filled rant from a very dark desolate place. Its view on the world making the Daily Mail seem like a feel good motivational read..... I love it

Big Macs for the fat, lo-cal wraps for the call centre battery hens,
Japanese snacks for the choice-spoilt citizens, caviar kickbacks for the citadel denizens.

Airport shoeshines servicing the suits among the little silver stereos and hand-rolled cheroots,
First class passengers file on last after the scum are packed in with their tax-free loot.

Checkout calamity, you're cheated out of loyalty points, ten more years at this joint you'd be home & dry,
Beggars beat round the cash machines but you just slip between them with the usual lie.

Terrible tales of kidnapped kids keep you focused on the family and filling up the fridge,
Neighbourhood watchers shop dole dodgers, stick their semis on the market & start racking up the bids.

Should you stand and fight, should you die for what you think is right
So your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you're asking me I say no, surrender.

Constant growth the cancerous cure, a swarming race of profiteers ensure
Cheap cars for the rich, cheap lives for the poor, cheap weeks in the sun, free drinks at the door.

Puerile propaganda plugs up the TV, keep folk following the money so they'll never be free
Keep them swallowing the swill, the celebrities, the paedophiles, the immigrants invading from the
camp over the hill.

War talk, the big debate, footsoldiers in the capitol liberating new kinds of hate
Cum-shots of human dots caught in the spotlight's glare; he dies who dares.

Fatuous fast-trackers sneering at the shelf-stackers, little Middle-Englanders can't stand the backpackers,
Fortress Freedom, come on in, take your chances-you might win.

Should you stand and fight, should you die for what you think is right
So your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you're asking me I say no, surrender.

Sunset beaches security patrolled, keep out the undesirables who won't accept the code
Equal opportunity to live in total poverty, execute the ignorant incarcerate the slow

Car caressing managers choking up the avenues, brain dead patriots standing in salute
Paperwork raining again and again so that billionaires can claim there's an enemy to shoot

Pill pushers, doorsteppers, personal goal shoppers, lifestyle trendsetters, meditating mindbenders,
Hare-brained share sellers pumping out stocks til you're choking on a chain-letter avalanche of dross.

God squads crawling through every country tracking down fools who are bullshit hungry
Blinded by divinity followers fall into the man-traps set along the Wailing Wall.

Athletes compete in grand charades while tanks flatten streets and a nation laughs,
Visa holders gape at the changing guards while creeps bribe bums to take their photographs.

Film fans flock to the latest schlock, blockbusters block out even the vaguest thought
Bankrupt schools grind out fool after fool then feed them to a system where idiots rule.

Polling booths, phone votes, bogus questionnaires, you get a say as if anybody cares
Joe Public doesn't want to play so liquidate his life as he looks the other way.

Don't get sick, don't get wise or they'll gut you with a jistice where everything is lies
March down Main Street, complain if you want but it's twenty years straight for the losers at the front.

If you're asking me I say no, surrender

No Surrender - Justin currie

You can buy the lp here - it is a great lp with the focus on great songwriting and a lusher sound rather than the Neil Young tendencies that Del Amitri would lapse into

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Why I Love Country Music - part 5

Josh Rouse is a singer songwriter who grew up in Nashville but also grew up listening to British guitar bands of the 80s. A country singer who lists the Smiths , Cure and New Order as influences!. What this gives is a great hybrid of guitar pop songs but with country flavour. His first lp "Dressed up Like Nebraska" has a more traditional country/ americana sound however the follow up "Home" has some great pop songs on.

It is with the 3rd lp released in 2002 "Under Cold Blue Stars" that the 2 elements come together so well. Loosely built around the concept of following a married couple from the USA in the 50s, the songs tend to build up a picture rather than tell a linear narrative.

He followed this up with 1972 which had a much more summery 70s west coast feel, but whose best song is the quiet understated title track

Since then he has recorded "Nashville" ironically recorded while living in Spain, "Subtitulo" and "Country Mouse City House". The last 2 while okay don't reach the heights of the run from "Home" to "Nashville"

You can buy Josh Rouse lps here

Since leaving his record label his focus seems to be on his website and the Bedroom Classics Closet Archives, where for a fixed sum you get access to various archives and unreleased tracks.

You also can hear a "single of the month".

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Life of Live - Human League

The next concert I went to was to see The Mighty Lemondrops either a long lost poor man's bunnymen/ joy division or simply ahead of their time for an early 80s guitar band revival. I've nothing by them , didn't think they were that good and only went because a girl I fancied at the time wanted to go so I'll skip on to the next one. Incidentally the whole night was a bit of a disaster as the girl in question passed out near the front of the stage and we ended up in casualty (maybe this has coloured my view of the band, i think it certainly coloured her view of me)

The next concert was the Human League at the Uni. This was before the days of endless 80s reunion tours and the never ending "Here and Now". All i can remember is lots of white light and dry ice, Phil Oakey wearing some outlandish black outfit and a set list that was basically the greatest hits. They really didn't disappoint and i do remember them doing a great version of this

Monday, 12 October 2009

Miracle Mile Monday part 8

"Candids" was the Miracle Mile's second cd, released in 1998 and you can hear the progress in the production which sounds a lot sharper but warmer at the same time
The track I've posted is "Lucky's Okay". I love the lyrics to this and there is a great bit of brass at the end
Hope is cheap but wine is better, whisky leaves no stain
But holy water reverand's daughter helped to ease my pain
She blessed my boots, buried me standing , taught me how to pray
Lead me to temptation just to watch me crawl away
You can buy Candids direct from the band website here

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Lazy Sunday - The Hit Parade

Lazy Sunday and top of the shuffle pile is a bit of twee from the Hit Parade. This was released on the lamented Sarah Records home of hushed slightly out of tune vocals, strummed guitars and angst.
I like this for the fact it somehow gets "the tennis courts in Ealing" and "bowling green in Acton" into the same song
If i stood and whispered your name would you hear"
This is fairly representative of the band whose songs all seem to be about a girl who the singer used to go out with and wants back!
All the Hit Parade's cds only seem to be found via ebay for ridiculous prices which is a real shame as all mine are on records that have been played to death and there are a couple I'm missing.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

say something - part 1

I was having a chat with a friend of mine the other day about the importance of lyrics. For me they are pretty key and it always used to really annoy me if there wasnt a lyric sheet with any lp I bought. This is probably why i havent been able to get my head around that much dance music apart from the obvious stuff. My friend on the other hand said that he didn't really listen to the lyrics and they just weren't that important to him. I think it is fascinating that you can approach the same piece of music from such completely different directions.

I can remember clearly the song that got me interested in lyrics, which was "I don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats. I guess it is pretty common knowledge that the song was about a pre columbine (1979) high school shooting in San Diego and the reason the girl ,Brenda Spencer,gave for shooting a couple of her teachers and wounding 9 children

"I just don't like Mondays. I did this because it's a way to cheer up the day. Nobody likes Mondays."

I was 11/12 when the single came out and I liked it as I liked ELO at the time for a bit of a sing along. I was invited to go on a family holiday with one of my school friends that summer. This was a big thing as a) It was my first holiday without my parents and b) being in the south of france it was my first holiday abroad.

In this time of cheap air travel it is amazing to think that we drove down, and all the way sang along to out of the blue, grease and a taped chart show including I Don't like mondays. It was Sean's Dad who explained what the song was about (in hindsight this may have been a ploy to try and stop us singing along to it) and it was as if a whole new world had opened up - Mr Blue Sky felt kind of silly after this. This then started the need in me that has remained ever since to have to know what a song is about.

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home
And daddy doesn’t understand it
He always said she was good as gold
And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be show-ow-ow-ow-own?

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down

The Telex machine is kept so clean
And it types to a waiting world
And mother feels so shocked
Father’s world is rocked
And their thoughts turn to their own little girl
Sweet 16 ain’t that peachy keen
Now that ain’t so neat to admit defeat
They can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reasons do you need?
Oh Oh Oh Oh

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot
The whole day down, down, down, shoot it all down

And all the playing's stopped in the playground now
She wants to play with the toys a while
And school's out early and soon we'll be learning
And the lesson today is how to die
And then the bullhorn crackles
And the captain tackles
(With the problems of the how's and why's)
And he can see no reasons
'Cos there are no reasons
What reason do you need to die, die?
Oh Oh Oh

Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like
I don’t like (Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don’t like
I don’t like (Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
Tell me why
I don't like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down

Friday, 9 October 2009

God Like Genius

I recently sorted my songs on media player by artist to see who I had the most songs by (Sad I know) The winner with 187 songs ahead of James in second place and the Gobetweens in 3rd is Lloyd Cole.

I think Lloyd Cole is my ideal singer - guitars jangle and the lyrics are certainly pretentious.
It is quite scary to think that the first commotions lp was released 25 years ago and that they split up in 1989
In Lloyd's case it is not variety that counts, you can spot a lloyd cole song pretty much straight away, it is just the consistently high quality songwriting across all his lps.
This shown by his 2 latest releases
1) Antidepressant - the last lp he has released(2006) of new recordings is one of his strongest set of songs
2) Cleaning out the ashtrays - a 4 disc retrospective from his solo career of b sides, demos, unreleased tracks and alternative versions. Normally with these things it is a bit of a car boot sale in terms of quality, however there is hardly a duff track across all 4 discs. It is beautifully packaged and has some great sleeve notes as Lloyd Cole explains the songs and what was going on at the time. This is useful as his solo career is a tad complicated with lps not being released by record companies and then eventually released out of order of being recorded.
He seems to spend his time now doing 1 man solo tours (venues situated near great golf courses) and releasing the odd live lp. His website talks of a mystery new double cd.
It is well worth going to his website here. There is a great section called "Ask Lloyd" where you can ask him pretty much anything and he seems to always answer with blunt honesty
Having said that, he often downplays the meanings of his lyrics, saying that they often don't mean that much. I'm not sure this rings quite true. i read an interview with Gary Clark of Danny Wilson who wrote a couple of songs with Lloyd Cole. He said he found it odd as Lloyd insisted on writing all the lyrics and that they would only work together on the music. If ideas for lyrics came up , the subject would be changed or they would move on to a new song.
I've posted 3 tracks that hopefully are a little bit different
Chelsea Hotel - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - a cover version of Leonard Cohen song recorded for "I'm your Fan" a compilation lp of artists covering Cohen's work
What's Wrong with this picture - LLoyd Cole and the Negatives - In 1997 he formed a band with some new york musicians and recorded 1 lp under lloyd cole and the negatives (a second lp using some negative songs came out later called "etc")
Butterfly remix - Lloyd Cole - Adam Peters remix of the opening track of "Dont Get Weird on me Baby". Featured on "Cleaning out the Ashtrays"
Woman in a Bar - Lloyd Cole - from latest solo lp "anti depressant" - songs about being middle aged!
You can buy "Cleaning out the Ashtrays" here. It is expensive but if you are a fan well worth owning.
If the 4 discs of ashtrays is too much Lloyd, then his latest cd Anti depressant can be bought here
If it is a fuller band sound you like then the Negatives lp can be bought here

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Strange covers - Sennen

Following on the theme of cover versions, this track was sent to my inbox. It's a cover of one of my favourite new order songs - Bizarre Love Triangle. I don't normally post new music but following the last cover version well it was too good an opportunity. I really like the version that Sennen have done. Like all good cover versions they have kept the essence of the song but made it very different this time through guitars that sparkle. I don't know much about the band except that they already have released 2 lps with a 3rd due next year. If anything this track reminds me a bit of the House of Love which is no bad thing (could be explained by the fact that their second lp was produced by Pat Collier)

You can find their website here and their myspace site here . The myspace site is worth a visit as there are another couple of tracks on their which are also good.
On a sep note I keep tracks posted for a couple of months so I've just removed the august files - contact me if anyone wants to request a repost

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Strange covers - deacon blue

Following on from yesterday's post, I suddenly remembered Deacon Blue did a cover of Trampolene - a much quieter, more subdued version than the original! It originally came form a b side. I'm not sure which track but I've a feeling that ironically it was when they were at their most bombastic

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Life of Live - Julian Cope

The biggest venues to see live bands in leeds were either the poly or the university and either of these 2 were on most bands tour list. The first main band I saw at the poly was Julian Cope. He was promoting the St Julian lp just having had a hit with "World Shut Your Mouth" which was played most weeks at the poly disco.

The thing with the poly venue is you always wore old shoes. This is because split beer used to mix with some weird dust to produce a red/ orange gunge (known as poly crap) that would cover your shoes by the end of the night.

The student paper at the time hailed Julian Cope quite rightly as some kind of genius , made him student president and were campaigning for him to be knighted or something.

The St Julian lp was a bit of bid to say hey I'm not that weird really and I should be in the charts.

What i remember of the concert was this was the time when he had a bizarre mike stand that was a cross between a climbing frame and some kind of gymnasts equipment. He spent the whole gig wrapped around it. (he may have done a bit of Bono like speaker climbing as well but I'm not 100 % sure). i also remember a manic version of Reynard the Fox , the end of which I was sure he had impaled himself on that mike stand.

I've posted 2 tracks. The first comes from his debut solo lp confusingly titled "world shut your mouth" to show how even when he was playing at being weird he still wrote great quirky pop songs and trampoline the second single from the St Julian lp.

Strasbourg - Julian Cope
Trampoline - Julian Cope

Monday, 5 October 2009

miracle mile monday part 7

The final posting from the Miracle Mile's debut lp "The Bicycle Thieves". The title track and what can almost be described as a pop song! The themes as consistent with the rest of the lp and as ever there is a chorus to die for.

Bicycle Thieves - Miracle Mile

I'm going right back to where I once started
I'm going right back to where I once belonged

It is quite difficult to get hold of this cd - Amazon have it listed as unavailable but do have it as a download here

The best place to try is the bands website where you can buy a copy for £10 here

Overall this is one of the strongest debut lps I own and if you like pop music that credits its listener with a bit of intelligence then start with this one and buy the set!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Lazy Sunday - Nick Heyward

Lazy Sunday and top of the shuffle pile this week is a solo release by the early 80s version of Take That. This is from Nick Heywards solo lp "Tangled" and it was when he relaunched himself in the wake of britpop and some nice words from Alan Mcgee (something about being one of England's best songwriters). It is a bit Oasis lite but i like the guitars and the 60s feel.

You can buy the lp here for a princely sum of £2.79

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Why I love Country Music part 3 Edwyn Collins

The next "country song" I love is from Edwyn Collin's "I'm not Following You" cd. Released in 1997 as a follow up to "Gorgeous George, you get the feeling that the success of "A Girl Like You" enabled Edwyn Collins to continue doing what he liked but with a bigger budget.

As a result all the elements of a country rock record are here but it sounds like it was recorded on a different planet in its own dimension

You can buy "I'm not Following you" HERE

On a separate note I'd really recommend "Falling and Laughing - the restoration of Edwyn Collins" by his partner Grace Maxwell. It charts the highs and lows and painstaking recovery of Edwyn from his cerebral hemorrhage.
Even if you aren't that interested in Edwyn's music , it truly is an inspiring read and makes you think about making the most of what you have and those around you that you love
You can buy this book HERE

Friday, 2 October 2009

Cult of the b side - Aztec Camera

3 from Roddy Frame who has produced some great b sides. The first is the b side to "All I need is Everything" and is a cover of the Van Halen song. Almost the perfect cover in that it has taken the song and produced something unrecognisable to the original. In this case by slowing the tempo down it shows what a great song lay the heart.

The next 2 are from the b side of "Reason for Living" from "North Star", when Roddy Frame started using his own name rather than Aztec Camera as a banner. As I've said before I wish he'd stuck with Aztec Camera!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Never as good as the first time part 2 - ABC

Unlike the Stone Roses, this one isn't that fair as Lexicon of Love is my favourite lp and as close to pop perfection as you can get. If i were going to be picky the early single "Tears are not Enough" doesn't quite fit, but hey it's a minor flaw. Released in 1982 and putting the glamour back into pop among all the new romantic bands that were taking themselves a bit too seriously. The singles Poison Arrow and Look of Love have become the staple of 80s compilations, but it is the lp as a whole that really shines. Produced by Trevor Horn, the strings dominate (Anne Dudley who did the orchestration went on to the Art of Noise and session work with too many to mention) and he starts the "everything and the kitchen sink" approach of production that reached its peak with Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Martin Fry's lyrics more than match the production with endless inventive wordplay (its a shame he'd come such a cropper on the next lp with "Can't complain mustn't grumble , help yourself to another piece of apple crumble"), as does his voice which is strong enough to cope with what trevor horn threw at it in terms of backing.
The whole concept is another fall out of love lp, a reaction to Martin Fry being left by this then girlfriend. Trevor Horn even arranged for the ex girlfriend to come in and record the "goodbye" bit in "look of Love". I bet the atmosphere in the recording studio that day was interesting.
All the singles were hits and the lp still features in those 100 greatest lp magazine articles.
I've posted 2 of the lesser known tracks. "Show me" is the lp opener and sums up what is to come. Sweeping strings lead into punchy brass before the tempo steps up with the bass, drums and everything else that was thrown in. "Date Stamp" has love broken down to a commercial transaction with this time chiming guitars turning into tills ringing before the bass kick starts the song
"Love has no guarantee,promise of eternity, no chance of certainty, even with a pedigree love has no guarantee"
ABC went on to do other great things but as a whole how do you top perfection?
You can buy Lexicon of Love here