Thursday, 29 January 2015
Simon Tong joined The Verve as guitarist when Nick McCabe left and then stayed on when he came back (awkward! as the youngsters say). When in 2006 Damon Albarn put together a supposedly nameless band around himself, Paul Simonon (coaxed out of painting to pick up his bass again) and Afrobeat drumming legend Tony Allen, Tong came on board too. The Good, The Bad And The Queen was a very English sounding album (despite Tony Allen on drums)- Dickensian almost, songs summoning up London murk, dark, damp streets and noise coming out from behind half closed doors. This song, the album closer also called The Good, The Bad And The Queen, opens with pub style piano and closes with all of the players racing each other to get to six minutes plus ending. The album was produced by Dangermouse but doesn't really sound like it.
The Good, The Bad And The Queen
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
I've decided to play join-the-dots this week. Monday was DJ Shadow. Yesterday was DJ Shadow as part of UNKLE with vocals from Richard Ashcroft. Today is Richard Ashcroft as singer of The Verve. Plus those strings at the end of UNKLE's Lonely Soul would segue very well into today's song.
History is from A Northern Soul, The Verve's second album. Their early singles were great records- huge, fluid, sunscraping psychedelia, with 'Mad' Richard claiming he would fly and believing it. By the time of A Northern Soul they'd cut down the sprawl to more a concise, more classicist, song oriented thing. I blame Oasis. History is a stand out song- a sweeping, desperately, achingly sad string section, an acoustic guitar and Richard bemoaning his lot, world weary, bummed out, alone and full of self pity. It's a song for wallowing in (but not for too long, it's not healthy).
Richard channeled metaphysical poet William Blake for the first verse. Blake's London goes...
I wander thro' each charter'd street, / Near where the charter'd Thames does flow. / And mark in every face I meet / Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
Richard has it as...
I wander lonely streets / Behind where the old Thames does flow / And in every face I meet / Reminds me of what I have run from.
He layers it on- living is for other men, three is company, how he loved and how he failed, you and me we're history, nothing left to say, living with me is like keeping a fool. This longer album version finishes with 'I've got a skin full of dope' part, which- let's be honest- may be the crux of the problem. She may have left 'cos you were always stoned Richard.
The third album, Urban Hymns (Bittersweet Symphony excepted) is one-paced, radio rock, far less interesting and obviously far more successful.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
DJ Shadow and James Lavelle spent ages putting together Psyence Fiction, a guest vocalist heavy post-hip hop album in 1998, packaged beautifully by Mo Wax. It was long, it was a kind of 90s psychedelia, it was a bit overwrought and it was a bit over-worked. Some of the tracks pulled it off though. This one with The Verve's Richard Ashcroft managed it- those portentous strings at the end sound both over-the-top and rather good.
Monday, 26 January 2015
Nothing says 1996 musically to me quite as much as DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. Someone said to me a little while ago that what this album needed was an MC, someone rapping all over those perfect urban innerspace soundtracks. I could not agree. This song is particularly good, a headphones classic.
Midnight In A Perfect World
Sunday, 25 January 2015
I've always been a little suspicious of Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, they seemed too perfect by half- three siblings, all young and good looking multi-instrumentalists doing doo-wop, r 'n' b, swing blues and country, a bit too Later with Jools. I found this yesterday. The fact it is produced by Mick Jones may have caught my eye. No Action starts conventionally enough with piano and voice but the chorus chucks in some Chic bass and disco strings which swell about while the singer (Daisy or Kitty) complains about a lack of bedroom action and jealousy.
Saturday, 24 January 2015
This is good. Black Rivers are the new band of Andy and Jez from Doves. Have Doves split up? Jimi Goodwin had a solo album out last year which I haven't got round to listening to yet. Or are they 'on hiatus'? Dunno. Anyway, Black Rivers are releasing an album soon and as a taster for it there's a remix by Richard Norris, full of electronic soundscapes, pulsebeat rhythm, a bit of phased cowbell, a disco bassline, an 'into the forest' vocal refrain, some ascending 80s keyboards at the end- it all goes by in a warm haze for seven and a half minutes.
Friday, 23 January 2015
New Order split up, sort of, for the first time in the late 80s, splintering into several bands who all sounded a bit like New Order. After ten years together they needed some space from each other. Depending on who you believe a) Bernard had had enough of Hooky's habits and wanted to make music without having to have his bass on everything b) Hooky thought Bernard was a big-headed, lead singer who was trying to take over the band to make dance records. And so began the intermittent sniping at each other which, despite a massively successful reformation in the mid-90s and again in the early 2000s, has led to New Order touring and making records without Peter Hook. And whatever he's done and however he behaves, it doesn't really seem like New Order without Hooky on bass.
Bernard and Johnny Marr recorded a handful of great singles- Getting Away With It and Get The Message- and their first album was a good 'un from start to finish. Having abandoned The Smiths Bernard had to coax the best guitarist of his generation into playing the guitar at all on the debut. The rough and funky guitar break on Feel Every Beat, last song on the album, make 'em wait, is signature Marr. The song also has Barney rapping and getting away it. Just about.
Feel Every Beat (12" mix)
Hooky formed Revenge/took Revenge. He claimed Johnny Marr had promised to work with him first and then left him in the lurch. Now, now children, play nicely. Revenge's debut single was also good, full of sparkling guitars and NO-esque keys and singing. I don't have it on the hard drive at the moment and can't be arsed ripping it so it's video only. The album had a few moments too but nothing as fresh as 7 Reasons. 7 Reasons had an opening line as arch as anything Barney could come up with... 'It's good to be young and gifted again, to see if it all happens twice'.
He went on to find more chart success with Monaco (with David Potts). I was less fussed about Monaco and don't own anything by them- they sounded like a photocopy of New Order. A photocopy of a photocopy of New Order. But I don't begrudge Hooky that. I saw Revenge playing at Cities In The Park, in Heaton Park, in 1991. They played in the middle of the afternoon and sounded like a dance Sisters Of Mercy. Electronic played later, with both Pet Shop Boys turning up. They were much, much better.
Stephen and Gillian shrugged, tutted and then got on with making music as The Other Two. Their debut was also a little slice of joy. Sounds a little dated now I think. Kylie should have covered this. It is in lots of ways a long way from Transmission.
Factory lost New Order and gained three sub-bands, none of whom (Electronic excepted occasionally) could match New Order's record sales. Then Factory went bust, waiting and hoping for the band to put an lp out in time to save the label but it didn't happen. Electronic, Revenge and the Other Two had all put out their records on Factory. By the time they kissed and made up, Factory was gone.