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Monday, 2 March 2015

Uptown Top Ranking

The Beat were a blast on Saturday night. You'd have to be a proper sourpuss not to find some enjoyment in ska played live and fronted by someone as irrepressible and happy as Ranking Roger (with son Ranking Junior on co-vocals). They played all songs you'd want The Beat to play, a few new ones, a full on dub version of Mirror In The Bathroom to follow the usual one and a cover of Rock The Casbah. As we'd walked up the ramp to the Waterside Roger was outside having a smoke. He met me in the eye and said Hello. Fifteen minutes later he was bouncing around on stage to the delight of the middle aged of Sale. A good night for babysitters.

In 1982 Roger recorded some vocals for a different, unreleased version of Rock The Casbah. Mick Jones intended it to go on his idea of what became Combat Rock but was over-ruled. It's been available on bootlegs ever since.

Rock The Casbah (Ranking Roger version)

The encored with Save It For Later, a minor classic of the early 80s and proof that it wasn't all ska, ska, ska.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Water Pressure

I have an internet friend in New York called Henry Terepka who is in a band called Zula. They are releasing an ep this month (March. It's March already). Water Pressure is inspired by the internet sending all its stuff through undersea cables, mangling their analogue instruments with the digital world. Compressed vocals and skittering beats. Underwater, digital, psychedelia. Interesting and rather good.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Rankin' Night Out

Tonight The Beat are playing at Sale Waterside, a ten minute walk from our front door. It seems silly not to go doesn't it? There are two versions of The Beat on the road at the moment, one led by Andy Wakeling and the other by Ranking Roger. We are going to see the Ranking Roger version. I'm not sure if the two bands are competing after a fall out or if it's a ska franchise thing. Either way the babysitter's booked and we get to do the middle aged skank.

In this clip The (English) Beat play Rankin' Full Stop at the gigantic US festival in San Bernadino in 1983, also the occasion where Mick Jones last trod the boards with The Clash.

What Are We Doing Here?

That was fortuitous- two days ago I posted C.A.R.'s new single Glock'd and yesterday The Asphodells remix appeared on Soundcloud. Ten minutes long with a slo-mo electro-glam stomp, a massive wobbly two note bassline, some 80s atmospherics and a cool vocal on top. There's a really great guitar riff at around six minutes fifty where the whole thing shifts a bit. I like this a lot- it beats wondering whether that dress is black and blue or gold and white.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love

I've been listening to the girl groups recently- thanks to Drew mainly- and The Ronettes especially, so I thought there could be no better way to bring the working week to close than with some Wall of Sound magic from 1963. Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love was (I think) the first song Phil Spector recorded with the girls, though not the first released. That was Be My Baby. It's got everything  a Ronettes song should have. Boom tish boom Spector production, layers and layers of echo and instruments and a horn section that spins heads. Meanwhile Ronnie and co sing about how their parents won't let them go steady. Perfection.

Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love

Thursday, 26 February 2015


This is a gorgeous, hazy little tune from ex-Battant singer Chloe Raunet, now making music as C.A.R. (Creating Acronyms Randomly I read somewhere). Out soon with an Asphodells remix to boot.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Straight Out Of Romford

I've come to the opinion recently that Underworld's dubnobasswithmyheadman was the best album of the 1990s. Rick Smith's keyboards and studio skills married with Karl Hyde's guitar background were complemented perfectly when they met Darren Emerson, who brought the beats from clubland. Suddenly everything clicked and their long techno-with-vocals songs found two audiences- dancers in clubs and listeners at home. Karl's lyrics, overheard on trains and snatched from passing strangers, cut up and re-arranged to fit the grooves, were partly inspired by Lou Reed's New York album , conversational and intimate. Apparently a record company man heard their stuff and told them that for 'this type of  music' they either needed to get a proper drummer or get rid of the vocals. Ha.

dubnobasswithmyheadman is a journey- a cliche but true- without a weak track or even moment. Setting off with a track that sounds like a bullet train rushing through a city and a storm Dark And Long and then Mmm... Skyscraper, I Love You made turning the disc over to side two difficult. Dirty Epic, Spoonman, Surfboy, all undulating, with blissful production, headrushes, intricate drums, filthy bass and phased guitar chords. The midnight train from Romford. Cowgirl is perfect dry ice filled, back room techno. River Of Bass glides by and then the album surfaces with the beautiful, weightless M.E. Lift off and back to earth. It is an album which seemed to arrive absolutely fully formed, in no way retro, picking up acid house's freedom and promise and pushing it on, progressive and forward thinking, modern. It still sounds like that today.

This is an hour long collage of dubnobass... cuttings from the studio floor. A very smart companion piece.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Range Life

Back to Pavement today and their 1994 beauty Range Life- country stylings, half arsed vocal, Malkmus taking potshots at Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots and some killer lines based on life on the road- 'you gotta pay your dues before you pay the rent'.

I think it's quite funny too that the video bleeps out the word 'fuck'.

I love this fantastic comment at Youtube, someone missing the point ever so slightly...

'I had never heard this song before but it honestly the vocals sound out of key and along with some of the chords.  The vocals sound like a dying cat when he try's to hit the high notes.  It is what it is and maybe they have better songs but the musicianship on this is terrible.'