Sunday, 13 April 2014
I've never quite been able to figure out quite why Big Star are held in such high esteem by certain middle aged men. The first album baffled me when I first got it, twenty years ago. It just sounded like southern boogie to me and I expected so much more. On the other hand there are some great tunes on the second album (Radio City) and Third/Sister Lovers has got its moments.
September Gurls is an absolutely beautiful little guitar song, ragged and yearning, a real head turner (and yes, it did provide Teenage Fanclub with the template for Bandwagonesque, but that's fine). George posted September Gurls a few weeks ago, so I'll provide you instead with this cover version by The Bangles, from back in the mid-80s. They smoothed it out, glossed it up a bit, Rickenbackers chiming away.
Susanna Hoffs didn't actually sing September Gurls, fellow Bangle Michael Steele did. Susanna isn't a September gurl, she's a January gurl, birthday-wise. I just looked it up. It has stunned me somewhat to realise that Susanna Hoffs is 55.
As of today we're off on holiday for a week, back late on Easter Monday, so most likely I won't post anything until the Tuesday. Hopefully you can manage without my meandering waffle for a week. However, if you do happen to pop in here while I'm away you will get to look at this picture of Susanna Hoffs, so it's not all bad is it?
Saturday, 12 April 2014
I pulled this out the other day, a superb blast of punk energy from antipodean upstarts The Saints. Not that any of them looked much like punks. Which probably makes them more punk. This song, recorded and first released in 1976, was hugely influential on the early London punk scene (along with the first Ramones lp), as 7" copies made their way from the southern to northern hemisphere like spiky driftwood. Coming from Brisbane in the mid 1970s they probably did feel pretty stranded- no offence to the people of Brisbane but it is a long way away from where the action was. (I'm) Stranded is an utterly life affirming recording and one of those cases of, although they had other songs, this one song by them is all that matters.
Friday, 11 April 2014
1957 was a golden year for rockabilly. Brenda Lee cut several rockabilly influenced singles including this one which earned her the nickname Little Miss Dynamite. While her voice has a gravelly Wanda Jackson quality, they added some doo-wop style backing vocals, presumably to soften it for radio listeners and record buyers. The slightly unsettling thing about this song is that Brenda was about thirteen or fourteen years old when she recorded it.
This is an absolutely essential record from the imagination and fingertips of Richard D James, a record that sounds like its title (a title that is a nice pair of words to speak- analogue= rhythmic with hard sounds, bubblebath= rhythmic with soft sounds). This is music that envelops and warms and is full of possibility, which ignores the structure of the popular music that came before it- no verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle eight etc. It still has form, just a different kind of form. It also takes from rave. Really wonderful.
Thursday, 10 April 2014
I've never been to Stockholm. I've been to Helsinki, which was lovely. Someday I'm going to do a Scandinavian tour. I'll need to be significantly better off financially than I am now.
Stockholm was the title of the New Fast Automatic Daffodils' single from their second album (Mind Body Exit). This doesn't sound at all like the work of a Madchester band and in parts reminds me as much of Julian Cope's early 90s work as anything. Good song- this is the five minute version rather than the three minute radio edit (which probably didn't get very much radio airplay).
Wednesday, 9 April 2014
Third post in a row in what seems to be turning into an accidental 'what the punks did next' theme week. Greg Dread (Big Audio Dynamite, Dreadzone) has recently unearthed and shared a track he put together back in the mid 80s, Big Audio Dynamite's live show intro music. It's a five minute track with snippets and samples from BAD's back catalogue all layered over a drum machine set to 'loud and fast'. The band would ususally appear at around the two minute mark but this goes on for another three. It won't embed but you can find it and download it here. Via the marvels of social media Greg said I could share it. Thanks Greg.
As a bonus this is BAD performing The Battle Of All Saints Road live on the telly in 1988. Mick suave in leather biker jacket and grey trousers, Don giving the one fingered/keyboard-playing salute...
What a good band they were.
Dreadzone are currently rocking a dancefloor somewhere in the UK, celebrating their twentieth anniversary.
Tuesday, 8 April 2014
This 1991 single was a big hit in the US for Siouxsie and the Banshees- Stephen Hague production, Talvin Singh on tabla and backing vocals, a Schooly D sample- but I think it may have slipped through the net here. Siouxsie was possibly a bit old hat in '91 but this song shows somebody's finger was on the pulse. It's begging for an expansive remix too. Listened to in 2014 it sounds like perfect, glittery pop music. And there's nowt wrong with that.
Kiss Them For Me
Monday, 7 April 2014
Ian McCulloch had a solo album out last year which I didn't spend too much time with (for unknown reasons, time probably) but have rediscovered recently. Pro Patria Mori was a good single lp but was also available as a double. The second disc was recorded live at the Union Chapel, a mixture of Bunnymen songs from Rescue through to Nothing Lasts Forever, and songs from Pro Patria Mori, reworked acoustically and orchestrally. The fringe and the chin may not be what they were but the voice is in rich form and there's some lovely chugging Velvets rhythm guitar along with the strings. Angels And Devils, in the grand tradition of 80s indie rock, was tossed away on a B-side.
Angels And Devils (Live at the Union Chapel)