Saturday, 28 February 2015
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.
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
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
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
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
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.'
Monday, 23 February 2015
Sunday, 22 February 2015
Public Service Broadcasting are back with an album themed around the space race and a single called Yuri Gagarin. This should be right up my alley but the single did nothing for me at all- it was cheesy funk and seemed very inappropriate. Thankfully Richard Norris has done a remix which is cinematic and orchestral with an acoustic guitar from Ibiza thrown in for good measure. Much better. Free download too.
Saturday, 21 February 2015
I've no doubt I will keep coming back to One Dove as long as I have the strength to lift the arm onto the vinyl or press play. Morning Dove White is one of the 90s high points, one of Weatherall's too. This was their poppiest moment, soft, sublime and enveloping- even Stephen Hague can't ruin it. It doesn't have as many of the gorgeous dub textures that are all over the album but it should have been a big hit. I don't remember seeing the video before, Dot and the boys miming in a pub/club. The bit where they get projected onto the pool table is a tad dated but no matter.
Friday, 20 February 2015
Mark who runs Cooking Up A Quiet Storm is celebrating the blog's first birthday. He asked all the contributors to suggest one record that they'd take to a party in the basement of a dingy pub, sticky carpets worn out from dancing. The result is two mixes. My choice is on Part Two which you can play below. It's a proper party mix, ready to rock the pub, starting with Grace Jones and then taking in Soulson, The Last Poets, Afrika Bambaataa, New Order, Discodeine, Hercules and Love Affair, The Only Ones, The Cramps, Lemon Interrupt, James Brown, Nat King Cole and The Trashcan Sinatras. Just what you need for Friday night. Clear a space, move the furniture back towards the walls, crank it up, off you go.
Cooking Up A Quiet Storm Anniversary Pt 2 - Compiled by The Quiet Storm Family by Cooking Up A Quiet Storm on Mixcloud
I've shifted position on The Second Coming several times since it came out at the end of 1994. At first I loved it, despite the negative press- actually probably because of the negative press. It was so good to hear Roses songs after such a long absence. Now I feel it's not such a great record, not even a good one maybe. Looking back the band were in trouble creatively from after the release of Fools Gold. One Love, a song I do really like, was a rehash (although Something's Burning showed a road they could have gone down). The lengthy, torturous, on-off sessions for The Second Coming, the court case, the money from signing to Geffen, the distance growing between Ian and John, the increasingly unpredictable Reni, the tension between Ian and Reni and John and Reni- all these things have been documented in the last few years and all show a band ebbing away.
Breaking Into Heaven is startling and breath taking, full of deliberately cliched and genuinely funny lyrical imagery and more guitars than you can shake a stick at. A four minute introduction with field recordings, tom toms and all sorts, then the verse and chorus, full of it and on fire, and a heartspinning bridge section shifting on one heavenly chord. It has groove, it has sleekness, it is tender and tough. It's a keeper. Driving South is a Jimmy Page fest and (like Primal Screams' Rocks or Jailbird) just has to be enjoyed rather than thought about. Ten Storey Love Song, the only song that could conceivably have fitted on the debut, is a rush of chiming guitars and swooning. Three songs in and all is good.
After that things go tits up- Daybreak is a studio jam that gained vocals, they could do that sort of thing all day and probably did. Straight To The Man a B-side at best, different and a bit funky but not up to the standard they had set. Good Times is a riff, a filler. Tears is too self-consciously epic. Lyrically the lightness of touch from the debut and its singles has gone. I used to like How Do You Sleep? but usually skip it now. Your Star Will Shine is affecting, neatly played and sung, and Tightrope sounds pretty good, an actual band performance. Begging You stands out sonically and has energy to spare. But really it takes the last song to pull the album out of its nosedive. Love Spreads redeems it at the finish, a genuinely great Stone Roses rock song, with power and dynamics and a proper Roses theme (a female Jesus). They still had it on Love Spreads.
Throughout there's nothing wrong with the playing, the guitars are often superb, the drums and bass spot on, the singing is fine and in places the singing actually makes it more than just a British rock album, Ian Brown's voice roots it somewhere else. But it doesn't feel like an album- it feels like a bunch of songs finally scraped together, in a rush ironically, with a few massive high points but too much middling filler. It's overdone in too many places and it is too heavy (in many senses of the word but mainly it seems too heavy in that it is weighted down, lead footed). I think, twenty years later, it is a 6 out of 10. Primal Scream's Give Out But Don't Give Up (see yesterday) is a 7. There's a big difference. GOBDGU works better as an lp, fits together better somehow and is more coherent but it doesn't have those two or three songs of genuine brilliance that the Second Coming has.
I don't really take any pleasure in being this critical- this is a band I adored. Tellingly when they reformed for those gigs recently the only songs from The Second Coming that made it to Heaton Park were Ten Storey Love Song and Love Spreads. We'd all loved to have heard Breaking Into Heaven. They played Tightrope at the secret Warrington gig but dropped it afterwards. Everything else was jettisoned- was it down to reunion sensitivities, a band member not wanting to force a song in that they liked but no-one else did, or down to the realisation that many of the difficult second album's songs were not quite good enough?
Thursday, 19 February 2015
I was listening to Primal Scream's Give Out But Don't Give Up recently. I saw it in a charity shop for 50p on cd and bought it. It's handy to have vinyl lps in a digital format sometimes, if nothing else for listening to in the car. It took me quite a while to get around to buying it when it came out in 1994. As a follow up to Screamadelica it seemed so retrogressive and while I'd bought and loved the Rocks single it just didn't yell 'buy me' at me in 1994. At the time the press labelled the band Dance Traitors and listening to it now it is difficult to disagree except that in hindsight Screamadelica is the odd one out really. Given the extensive touring the band were doing, the drug intake and the opportunities they were presented with it's probably no surprise they indulged themselves with every rock cliche imaginable. From the William Egglestone Old Glory cover onwards this is early 70s US rock, in velvet trousers, snakeskin shoes and silk scarves. The two openers Jailbird and Rocks are both fine Stonesy rockers, good dirty fun with big Throb riffs. The ballads are all ok too but there are too many of them and crucially none of them are as good as Screamadelica's Damaged. To these ears the only two songs that really move things forward are the ones done with George Clinton- Funky Jam and the title track. Funky Jam is exactly what it says it is but has got some clout. Give Out But Don't Give Up is marvelous- sultry, woozy, head spinning funk with lovely vocals from Denise Johnson, dirty guitars and Clinton's atomic touch.
Give Out But Don't Give Up
Having said this, criticisms and all, I enjoyed listening to it. It sounded better now than it did back then, twenty one years ago. The question that then struck me was, bearing in mind the somewhat parallel late 80s and early 90s careers of Primal Scream and The Stone Roses, is it better than The Second Coming?
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
When Mick Jones parted company with the first line up of Big Audio Dynamite (Don Letts, Greg Roberts, Leo Williams) he shed quite a few of his fans. But BAD II had some good moments that went unnoticed except by the hardcore. In 1990 the band released Kool Aid, an album with a supremely ill advised cover. Even at the time, this didn't look good.
It certainly put me off buying it- I remember seeing it in HMV on Market Street and deciding to spend my money elsewhere, which at the time was not difficult. I caught up with both albums many years later. In 1991 many of the Kool Aid songs turned up in slightly different form on The Globe. Rush and The Globe were both good singles but the real sweet spot was Can't Wait/Live. On Kool Aid Can't Wait is half cooked. By the time of The Globe version it's gained a much bolder string sample, the house influence is even clearer, Mick's vocal is further forward and sonically it's just much better all round.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Apologies for the lazy nature of this post especially re: the videos, but I don't have either song on the hard drive and it's half time during the United- PNE game.
Pavement. Box Elder. Ragged and slack with the Malkmus drawl.
The Wedding Present. Box Elder cover version. Tighter and more trebly with the Gedge growl.
Take your pick.
Monday, 16 February 2015
Pete Wiggs (of St Etienne) put together the soundtrack to a film celebrating a lost London (from the 1950s through to the 1980s). If it was a London that ever really existed at all. It was screened at the Barbican last year and Pete's soundtrack came out in December. The Youtube clip below shows a London of coffee shops, Routemasters, the Festival of Britain, jazzy instrumentals, raincoats and twin sets. A long-vanished world from before when most of our pop culture existed, well over half a century ago.
This is the trailer for the film. Whimsical and nostalgic. Whimsey and nostlagia, coupled with hyper-modernity and instantness (instantanaiety?), seem to be the flavour of our current times. Anyway, regardless, I like this.
Sunday, 15 February 2015
During the First World War the navy painted their ships in these beautiful, modernist, black and white geometric patterns, to camouflage them and confuse the enemy about distance.
There's been a lot of love shown recently in our part of the blogosphere for The Wedding Present, and quite rightly too. They provided so many of the songs we used to career round the students union and indie disco dancefloors too. I saw The Wedding Present play live several times during 1988-1989 and they were always good. Brassneck is a belter with buzzsaw guitars, tub thumping drums and Gedge's northern growl.
Saturday, 14 February 2015
I've just got around to watching a programme I taped on the BBC about New York in 1951, the epicentre of the new world and of a revolution in art, rejecting the conformity of the post-war, consumer world. Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollack, James Dean and the Actors' Studio were all very familiar to me but good to watch. Thelonious Monk wrote Straight No Chaser in the same year. I'm no expert when it comes to jazz. The bass and drums sounded pretty good all these later, but almost a cliche of what bebop sounds like. The piano playing was something else entirely. This version for TV is from 1965.
Good morning lovebirds.
Love Corporation was the acid house alter ego of Ed Ball (of The Times, Creation Records etc). This is a long, loved up Weatherall remix with bells and whistles and breathy vocals.
Give Me Some Love (Andrew Weatherall Remix 2)
Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
I'm joining a few recent musical dots again- on Saturday I posted Orbital's Chime. Orbital's epic and beautiful Halcyon had a backwards vocal part sampled from Opus III's It's A Fine Day (sung by Kirsty Hawksworth, a big hit in 1992). It's A Fine Day was originally written and recorded a cappella by Jane and Barton and released in 1983. Edward Barton wrote it while living in Hulme, Manchester and it was sung by Jane Lancaster (his girlfriend). A haunting little song.
It's A Fine Day
This is the wonderful rave-tastic Opus III version.
Monday, 9 February 2015
Just watching this Happy Mondays gif loop on and on makes me smile. Better follow it up with some Happy Mondays. On Monday.
Many people think Loaded was Andrew Weatherall's first remix but it wasn't- Hallelujah, done with Paul Oakenfold, was the first to bear his name. I love the opening- the belted out vocal and the monks singing followed by the massive bassline and then those piano chords.
Hallelujah (Club Mix)
Sunday, 8 February 2015
I'd been meaning to post this for a few days and hadn't got around to it, and then Ctel shared it via This Is My Jam which has prompted me to sort it out. A classic Andrew Weatherall remix from 1991 of Finitribe's 101, stomping, crunchy and good enough to eat. Bez in full flight on top of a hotel in Spain just seemed to fit.
101 (Sonic Shuffle)
Saturday, 7 February 2015
Saturday morning and you may need reminding how good this lengthy Orbital song is. If you don't know it, you're in for a treat. According to legend the Hartnoll brothers recorded the original version of this onto cassette for a total cost of £1.
Chime (Full Club Mix)
Friday, 6 February 2015
A month or two ago I posted Stella by Ultramarine, a beautiful acid-house moment from the Essex pair. There are a multitude of different versions of Stella. The one I shared with you previously was the album version from their Every Man And Woman Is A Star lp (every home should have one). This one is a Balearic beauty too- squiggly synths, lazy beat, acoustic guitar strums and that feeling of endless possibility that the best music from this period had.
Thursday, 5 February 2015
I've been feeling a bit uninspired this week and busy with work stuff. Then driving home last night this shuffled onto the car's stereo- This Is The Day by The The. Compared to a lot of Matt Johnson's stuff it's pretty subtle, those lovely observational lyrics, the wheezy rhythm and that gorgeous accordion. And compared to his grand geopolitical songs and denunciations of religion it shows that sometimes it's the little human touches that make a song connect. This is the day, her life will surely change.
This Is The Day
Wednesday, 4 February 2015
About two years ago I posted a snippet of an Andrew Weatherall remix of a Mugwump track called Until You're Worth It. The remix was a deep, bubbling, bass-led affair with the man himself adding a vocal line, intoning 'under the water, under the water'. It sounded like it could have been remixed in an undersea kingdom.
The original is a much lighter affair, funky but understated, with a falsetto vocal reminiscent of Prince. Both have finally been released this week and after forty eight hours of being unable to log in to Beatport due to password issues I now have it. I can't find an embeddable version of the Weatherall remix currently (I think it's a Beatport exclusive) and can't really give it away as a download so soon after release, so you've just got the original to listen to here.
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Monday, 2 February 2015
Before Timothy J Fairplay was making music as Timothy J Fairplay (and Junior Fairplay and one half of The Asphodells) he was a member of Battant. Led by the striking looks of frontwoman Chloe Raunet, they were about to release their second album when they were hit by the death of member Joel Dever (at the age of just twenty five). Radio Rod is post-punk inspired, driving bass, staccato guitars, jerky and attention grabbing.
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Sunday night- a time for important developments in the music world, current affairs and hair care regimes. Sit down, if you're not doing already- this is big.
Andrew Weatherall has shaved his beard off.
Wait- there's more. The beard is for sale on ebay. I'll repeat that. The beard is for sale on ebay.
At the time of writing it has four bids, the current high bid is £1.24. You can keep track of this here until the auction ends in eight days. And bid if you want to. I should point out none of the bids are mine. I mean, what would you do with it?
Andrew Weatherall's on-and-off radio show Music's Not For Everyone (currently on NTS Radio) returned last week. Eclectic is putting it mildly. This one has a fantastic new Asphodells remix of C.A.R. at around the forty-six minute mark. There is also quite a bit of post-punky stuff, Wild Billy Childish, reggae from Horseman, mad disco from Bombay, the cosmic Cavern Of Anti-Matter, some deranged surf, a synth-fest from The Advisory Circle, Howe Gelb and Matt Berry. Weird stuff abounds.
Ideal for your Sunday morning pottering about. If the player hasn't embedded (Mixcloud can be a bit crap like that) there's a link here.