Monday, 18 June 2018
Somehow this beautiful, surprisingly noisy piece of northern rock is eighteen years old. I played it yesterday and was struck by how it manages to be both melancholic and uplifting. I have it on 10" but curiously it didn't find its way into the recent 10 x 10 thing on Twitter. The waves of sound it rides in on and the slow paced bang of the drums are built for cities in the summer, especially this one, even before the tears-in-your-beer howl of the chorus.
The Cedar Room
Sunday, 17 June 2018
Up in Edinburgh John Vick and Davie Miller have taken their time putting together an album as Finiflex, working in a subterranean studio in Leith, putting in early morning shifts from 6am until 9am when the paying customers arrived to use the studio. The album, Suilven, came out on Friday and while I'll have to wait until payday to get a copy it is sounding very much like a end of year list-maker already. Suilven has the fingerprints that made Finitribe such an unexpected groovy treat in the 80s and early 90s but updated for 2018. Familiar multitracked vocals, bleeps and bloops, chuggy rhythms and a sense of openness and possibility. I've posted the 2 singles that preceded the album Ta Ta Oh Ha and Bonus Freaks before, back in October last year and March this year, both of which I've played repeatedly. The title track Suilven is a joy and a tribute to a mountain in Sutherland, Scotland. You can buy Suilven here (the album not the mountain).
Saturday, 16 June 2018
Sad news to wake up to this morning- as well as what looks like a catastrophic fire the beautiful Glasgow School of Art building- is that Nick Knox, the longest serving drummer of The Cramps, died yesterday aged 60. Nick started his tenure with Lux and Ivy in 1977 and played on at least 4 classic Cramps albums before leaving in 1991- Songs The Lord Taught Us, Psychedelic Jungle, A Date With Elvis and Stay Sick! plus songs and singles on the essential compilations Off The Bone and Bad Music For Bad People. That's your full Cramps set right there. RIP Nick Knox.
I was asked to dj at a friend's 45th birthday party in Sheffield a few years ago, a party with guaranteed dancers and folk who would enjoy a good shindig. Which was very much true. Except with this song, which cleared the floor. Sometimes you've got to scare them away to bring them back again.
Bikini Girls With Machine Guns
Johnny Marr posted this photograph on his Twitter account yesterday with the caption Kylie Fucking Minogue. It got me thinking that I would definitely pay good money for an Imaginary Collaboration Album, Marr and Minogue covering songs from their respective back catalogues. Johnny and his current band with Kylie singing How Soon Is Now and Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me, Kylie cooing her way through Getting Away With It, The Beat(en) Generation and Still Feel The Rain by Stex and in return Johnny blazing his way through Can't Get You Out Of My Head, finding a new slinky guitar version of All The Lovers and a jangle version of I Should Be So Lucky. Come on, make it happen.
Johnny Mar's new solo album came out yesterday to uniformly good reviews. I'm not getting it until tomorrow (Father's Day innit). This single came out a month ago and sounds like a song he meant to record with his most famous band but never got around to until now.
And some Kylie. In 1994 everyone loved Kylie.
Friday, 15 June 2018
I pulled out Two Lone Swordsmen's 1996 double album Swimming Not Skimming at the weekend, a record I haven't played for a long time. SNS was a mixture of new tracks from Weatherall and Tenniswood and some remixes. The vinyl always confused me- the tracklist and disc labelling was unclear and I wasn't sure what the different tracks were called until I became acquainted with the cd version and then later the internet could confirm which track was which. Additionally the cd had 10 tracks to the vinyl version's 7. Both formats have the same couple of remixes of stand-up bass tour de force Rico's Helly, almost worth the price of admission on their own. I was half tempted to post the whole thing but it is still available to buy digitally so decided against it. Here's a couple of tasters, one from the vinyl/cd and one from the cd alone.
This is the one that grabbed me most at the weekend. Blu Jack And Florence is extremely high quality machine funk, riding in on a mechanical rhythm. The bass hits at fifteen seconds and then the keyboards play around over the top. Wait for the synth strings come in at around 3.30. Hair-raising. The drums double up and it powers forward unrelenting.
Blu Jack And Florence
In The Nursery Visit Glenn Street was only on the cd (along with the lovely ambient opener Azzolini And the Branch Brothers Meet Being), a remix by In The Nursery (who had previously done a lovely, slightly spooky remix of Haunted Dancehall). Klive and Nigel Humberstone pull out the bassline and some ambient bubbling and add sweeping strings, a cinematic and celestial track to counter Blu Jack And Florence's more earthbound, booty shaking appeal.
In The Nursery Visit Glenn Street
Thursday, 14 June 2018
There are two significant events today, June 14th 2018, one personal and one international. The first one, close to home, is the 15th birthday of number two child/number one daughter Eliza. Once, as the picture shows, she was young and cute and happily wore a Clash t-shirt. Now she is 15, growing up into a young woman and probably wouldn't wear a Clash t-shirt.
Every summer in recent years we've driven to France with a stack of music. I get accused of hogging the car stereo. Not true obviously. Finding songs we can all agree on is a bit of an artform. Last summer we got there on this one- I've got to say, I think this is a tune. So you can have this one as your birthday song Eliza. Happy birthday.
One of Eliza's presents is Dolly Parton's 9 To 5 on 7" (which she should have opened by the time this is posted). So here's your birthday bonus song...
We survived our first 'proper' teenage house party at the weekend, a mixed group of 15 of them in our garden, with music, dancing, shrieking and 'controlled' drinking (you can control what they drink in your house- more difficult to control what some of them have drunk before they arrive). Apart from some minor damage to our already patchy lawn there was no harm done and much fun had. The party playlist was dominated by 80s pop, some disgraceful 80s soft-rock and some more contemporary stuff. Back in 1985, when I turned 15 this was the UK's number one single...
19 is groundbreaking in its own way and genuinely memorable, and kept at the number one slot by regular releases of remixed versions. Vietnam was big in the mid-80s. A decade on from the end of the war people were getting to grips with it, what had happened and what it meant. I read somewhere recently that the average age of the combat soldier in Vietnam wasn't actually 19 but 22. But that doesn't really change the message of the song or the fact that if you were poor, uneducated or black you were far more likely to end up in Vietnam than if you were wealthier, educated and white. Does it Mr. Trump? Coincidentally I played it to my Year 11 class recently as part of their depth study on The Vietnam War. They weren't very impressed if truth be told, the sounds were too dated and quaint, the stuttering vocal too cliched and the female backing vox too cheesy. But they took the message and the visuals in.
The other event today is the start of the World Cup, Russia 2018. This is my 11th World Cup. I have some vague memories of Argentina '78 aged 8, memories of the final at least, which I was allowed to stay up and watch some of. Spain '82 is the first one I really remember- in the picture above Bryan Robson celebrates after scoring against France in England's opening game. Mexico '86 was a blast, taking place during my O Levels, the magnificence of Diego Maradona in his prime, England out in controversial manner and an epic France v Brazil game. Italia 90 was ace, mixed up as it was with New Order's World In Motion, No Alla Violenza, Toto Schillaci, Roger Milla and an England run to the semi-finals.
Twenty-eight years on, this is still the only world cup record that really matters.
'Love's got the world in motion and we can't believe it's true'.
World In Motion (No Alla Violenza Mix)
Wednesday, 13 June 2018
This new method record labels have adopted of suddenly releasing singles and albums has its benefits but it makes planning monthly record spending very difficult. You think you're sorted and have budgeted for what you want and then without warning Phantasy send you an email saying they've just put out a Gabe Gurnsey 12", following up last month's superb Ultra Clear Sound. The new track, Eyes Over, is another summer monster, sweaty night club vibes, warm synth sounds and what the press release calls 'proto-Hacienda grooves'. The vocal is an insistent little earworm too. This is the radio edit....
And the flipside of the 12" single has an extended dub mix, separating the different elements out with some very mid-to-late 80s Chicago sounds going on, drawn out over seven increasingly intense bass-led minutes, the temperature rising as it unfolds.
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
I had techno on repeat at the weekend and this one from 1995 was buzzing around my head after pressing play at some point on Saturday morning. Drexciya were a duo from Detroit, a focused and purist electro-techno pairing who shunned the media and dwelt in the shadows. They created an origin myth for their name- Drexciya was an underwater nation made populated and inhabited by the unborn children of pregant African slaves who jumped or were thrown off slave ships crossing the Atlantic.
The sleeve to the Aquatic Invasion 12" has this on it...
On February First Nineteen Hundred And Ninety Five the Drexciyan Tactical Seaforces received orders from UR Strikeforce Command, for one final mission. The dreaded Drexciya stingray and barracuda battalions were dispatched from the Bermuda Triangle. Their search and destroy mission to be carried out during the Winter Equinox of 1995 against the programmer strongholds. During their return journey home to the invisible city one final mighty blow will be dealt to the programmers. Aquatic knowledge for those who know.
The Unknown Writer
They weren't messing around. Wavejumper is the a-side on the 12", a blast of the future, a slice of purist funky electro, a piece of uncompromising dark techno. It still sounds streets ahead.