Saturday, 22 November 2014
Here's a remix us Weatherall heads may not have seen coming- an eight minute reworking (with Balearic bells on) of Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. Noel's vocal contribution is restricted to one line through a megaphone four minutes in after a long build up- the rest is in pure Weatherall remix territory with a massive bassline (looped from the original track presumably), some lovely hi-hats and arpeggio action, and those bells clanging out. I'd imagine Noel might approve of this, having mispent some of his youth in the Hacienda. Noel often comes across as a witty interviewee, good fun over a few pints. But I think he mislaid all his decent tunes somewhere in the mid 90s and hasn't managed to relocate them since. If you want to see the bewilderment of some of the more conservative end of Noel's fanbase, look at the comments on the Youtube post. For the rest of us, a bit of a treat.
Friday, 21 November 2014
The Jesus And Mary Chain came on stage last night and announced they would play the encore first, then go off for a few minutes and return to play Psychocandy. They then launched into April Skies, Head On and Some Candy Talking, all crystal clear and fine, William's guitar twice as loud as everything else put together, the occasional missed note or out of tune string not mattering a jot. Two more songs later they ramped up the noise with an massive version of Reverence. Two minutes and a bit after that they were off- having played Upside Down, loud and drenched in squealing feedback.
A brief public information film from the early 60s projected onto the stage wall advertised the pleasures of moving to East Kilbride and they reappeared with Just Like Honey. Then we got the rest of Psychocandy. The projections (biker gangs, Super 8 home video footage), strobes and dry ice splashed all over the stage, added some visual drama. There isn't much to look at with The Mary Chain- five middle aged men dressed in black not moving much, apart from Jim occasionally lifting the mic stand up. At some reunion gigs you get a communion between band and audience, a mass singalong, arms around shoulders, joy at hearing songs you thought you'd never hear live again, beery good times, nostalgia. The Screamadelica shows were a joyous celebration. Not here. Psychocandy is an album about alienation and while the audience weren't alienated, we stood and watched, apart from some sporadic moshing down the front. This was noise, feedback, earsplittingly loud, with Jim's vocals and the melodies sneaking through the distortion, like in You Trip Me Up. The Living End and The Hardest Walk, garage riffs with a wall of ringing noise. As the band left the stage, William's guitar bleeding loudly against his amp, Game Over, in 80s video game graphics, flashed up and down the back wall. Still alive, still kicking. Game Over.
Paris, Upside Down, a few nights ago.
This Madonna song caused a bit of a stir in the school yards of the mid-80s when it was released- use of the word 'virgin' (snigger snigger). Teenage Fanclub covered it in 1991, quite fantastically, smothered in acres of beautiful distortion with sleepy vocals. When JC posted it a good while back at The Vinyl Villain it gained a takedown notice from the DMCA. When he re-posted it much later, he would not even name the song for fear of attracting the attention of the internet police. Sneaky, unnamed and hush hush. You ain't seen me right.
Like A Secret
Thursday, 20 November 2014
Tonight, six months after paying for the tickets, I'm going to see the Jesus And Mary Chain play live, Psychocandy and related songs, at Manchester Academy. It's twenty-nine years since Jim and William Reid released the album, one of the key albums of underground British 'rock' (rock seems like the wrong word somehow- this isn't rock, it's shattering glass or something similar). I've been looking forward to this and while it can't replicate mid-80s JAMC and I'm not sure I'm that much in favour of bands playing albums in their entirety (just play what you want, or play all the hits)- I love 'em.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
The daddy of all the 'Like A ...' songs is Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, one of those songs that tops lists and thoroughly deserves to,a man moving ahead of the art form, faster than all the others. A six minute long 7" single, with a whip crack start, amphetamine energy, wired organ and some of the best lyrics ever- crazy poetic verses and sneering, questioning choruses. Dylan's version is the original and definitive. 1960s mods The Creation had a go, a little polite with the backing but a decent stab I suppose.
Like A Rolling Stone
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
I was not knocked out completely by Ride, Creation's floppy haired and long sleeved t-shirt shoegazers. The guitars usually sounded good- although they never got anywhere near My Bloody Valentine's fx swirl but they got compared to them by the NME often enough. I bought their first ep, the one with the red roses on the cover and then dipped in and out, often via other people. It was the vocals that put me off, too self-consicously fey and flimsy, and their lyrics seemed like an afterthought as well. But this song, happily for this run of posts, is a good one. Clanging guitars, manic drumming, youthful excitement captured.
Monday, 17 November 2014
From the late 90s through to the mid 2000s I listened to a lot of Neil Young. I'd got Harvest and After The Goldrush around 1987/88 and then went through most of his albums a few years later. I still love some of them but don't play him that often anymore. Trans, from 1982, is one of his more bizarre records (from a man who it is fair to say, had a bad 80s). Trans was mainly recorded using synthesizers and keyboards and most of the album uses a vocoder on the vocals too. Young was exploring electronic music at the time, especially Kraftwerk. The thing is, many of the songs sound like guitar songs but played on synths- rather than songs written specifically on and for synths. Young later said he was putting into place a therapy programme with his son Ben (born with cerebral palsy and unable to speak). The vocoder was an attempt to find a new way to communicate with him. Apparently Crazy Horse had recorded some of the album using their usual guitar, bass and drums and turned up for a session to find Neil had stripped all their parts off and replaced them with the new electronic sounds. Crazy Horse scratched their long haired heads. Critics and fans couldn't get their heads around it and neither could Geffen who later sued him for making work that was 'deliberately uncommercial and unrepresentative work'. This isn't my favourite Neil Young song, it isn't even in my top 50 Neil Young songs, but it' probably the best off Trans.
Like An Inca
Yes, Like A Hurricane is a million times better and should be here instead- I saw him and Crazy Horse do it at Sheffield Arena and the amps may still be feeding back for all I know- but I thought it was a tad too predictable to post.
Sunday, 16 November 2014
On Friday Drew posted the sublime, Balearic remix of Saint Etienne's Speedwell, which got me thinking of other first rate Saint Etienne remixes. I started with the Andrew Weatherall dubiness of Only Love Can Break Your Heart, pretty much as good as anything either party have been involved in. And then thought of this one, which used to get played to death in the flat I shared near Altrincham circa 1993. David Holmes takes Like A Motorway and presses all the acid-techno buttons. Like the best techno it is an intense, exhilarating, machine-led ride, dancefloor hedonism tinged with happy-sad. Sarah Cracknell surfaces once, at around eight minutes, to sing 'he's gone' but then the track shoots off again, spiralling upwards. Dancing music.
Like A Motorway (David Holmes Remix)