Sunday, 23 July 2017
If indie guitar bands in 1987 wanted to sound like the band in yesterday's post (The Motorcycle Boy) by 1991 things had moved on. A post- Madchester world had ambitions for a bigger, looser, different sound. In 1991 Shack recorded their second album Waterpistol. Mick Head was inspired by The Stone Roses, The Charlatans and Flowered Up and he was chasing that 60s psychedelic sound, acoustic and electric guitars, crossed with that early 90s groove. In an ideal world Mick's song writing would set him apart. Unfortunately things went wrong- producer Chris Allison had difficulties getting Mick to finish songs and in late '91 the recording studio burned down taking the master tapes with it. Shack's record company went bust soon after. Chris Allison left the DAT tapes in a hire car while on holiday in the US. Bassist John Power joined The La's. Mick got into heroin.
Waterpistol eventually surfaced in 1995 after Allison tracked down the hire car company and the lost DAT tapes, and a German label Marina put it out. By this point Britpop was at its height and Mick's songs should have found an audience but despite rave reviews Mick and Shack remained mired in substance problems. In 1999 a reformed Shack released HMS Fable and began to reap a bit of what they had sewn but Waterpistol remains a lost gem. It's been re-released a couple of times since, by different labels, with different sleeves and different numbers of tracks (mine has twelve songs, the Marina release with the smoking schoolboy on the cover). If you haven't got it, it's well worth tracking down- never has cosmic Scouser psychedelia been so well realised as on this album's songs.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
There was a time (1986-1987) when indie guitar records wanted to sound something like this one (or a version of it). Sounding like The Smiths was tricky- Johnny Marr could do things the majority of guitarists couldn't and Morrissey's way with words was pretty unique too. But three chords, a fuzz pedal, bass and drums and some 60s style songwriting was achievable. The Motorcycle Boy were from Edinburgh and made up of Alex from The Shop Assistants and three former members of Meat Whiplash (Paul, Michael and Eddy) plus David Scott on guitar. This song was their debut, out on Rough Trade, and very good it is too. Sadly they then followed a trajectory familiar to a lot of independent groups from those years- NME front cover, indie chart hit, sign to a major, game over.
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Friday, 21 July 2017
Something hot and sultry for your Friday morning in the shape of a Mojo Filter edit of Siouxsie And The Banshees' Arabian Knights. The original version was a single from the album Juju, released in 1981. This is a dance floor reworking, with groove and space and Siouxsie's vocals a little distanced. It should function equally well in your kitchen when you open the gin/wine tonight. Free download too.
Thursday, 20 July 2017
This song was released thirty years ago today. Let's not get hung up on its age or the passing of time but celebrate a band in their absolute pomp releasing records that changed the world you lived in. New Order come in after the titles and thirty seconds of Gary Davies...
And because the video was pretty significant too...
In 1987 and 1988 the art of making records from samples of other people's records went overground. Following M/A/R/R/S's chart topper Pump Up The Volume in 1987 Tim Simenon's one man band Bomb The Bass went to number 2 in the UK (using some of the same samples). Beat Dis borrowed from a multitude of sources, some 80s hip hop- Public Enemy, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, EPMD, Schoolly D- and also from other sources- James Brown, Bar-Kays, Indeep, Prince, Hashim, Aretha Franklin, Jayne Mansfield and various TV programmes, notably Thunderbirds and Dragnet. It was inventive, exciting and new, making something fresh and new from familiar (and unfamiliar) sounds. A year later S'Express pulled off a similar trick. Unbelievably I haven't posted anything by Bomb The Bass in the seven and a half years before this post.
Beat Dis (Extended Dis)
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
Twenty five years old recently Warp's Artificial Intelligence compilation was a deliberate attempt to make a dance music compilation that wasn't for dancing to but for listening to at home. It also led to the creation of IDM, a term I still find a bit mystifying and pointless. This is machine music, techno and ambient combining, with groove and melody. The list of artists is second to none, a double vinyl example of Warp's finger being firmly on the robotic pulse in 1992- Autechre, Speedy J, B12, Richie Hawtin (as UP!), Black Dog (as I.A.O.) and Aphex Twin stand out.
The opening track came from the magic hands and brain of Richard D. James- calling himself The Dice Man with a track called Polygon Window (he'd soon go on to release as Polygon Window just to check people were keeping up ). Even among the high quality of the various artists work on A.I. and his own back catalogue at this point Polygon Window stands out, fizzing and buzzing with ideas and invention. What's more, you could dance to this if the mood took you.
Tuesday, 18 July 2017
I first heard this last week at Echorich's place and have been coming back to it daily since then- a new song from Mick Head, formerly of Shack, The Pale Fountains and The Strands. Michael's new group is The Red Elastic Band and they've got an album ready to release in the autumn, his first for a decade. Mick knows his way around a tune and this one is a lilting, folk-influenced thing, with harmonies and hooks to spare. The video is made up to archive footage of Liverpool in the early-to-mid 1960s and is a treat too.
Monday, 17 July 2017
This is an interesting and dramatic way to start the week. Hannah Peel has an album out soon based around an exploration of space travel and 'one person's journey to outer space, recounting the story of an unknown, elderly, pioneering, electronic musical stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced home in the mining town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to see Cassiopeia for herself'
Musically it combines analogue synths, found sounds, the sound of brass players breathing and spitting, Hannah's voice and a colliery band. If the track below, Sunrise Through the Dusty Nebula, is anything to go by it promises to be very good indeed. This is moving and inventive music, a colliery band with one foot deep underground and one in deep space.