Tuesday, 30 June 2015
We've not had any action from The Cramps here for a while so let's delve into Lux and Ivy's world today. Stay Sick in 1990 is some kind of high watermark in Crampdom. After that there are fewer great Cramp moments. Look Mom No Head! from 1991 had this song on it, which never fails to raise the spirits.
Bend Over, I'll Drive
Monday, 29 June 2015
The weekend and the presentation went very well. We caught up with lots of families we've met before and got introduced to new ones, dealing with diagnoses and disabled children and life limiting illness. It's good but I'm feeling knackered and drained already and that's not a good way to start the week.
Chris Rotter, round here recently as a member of The Patti Yang Group and Two Lone Swordsmen's guitar wrangler,tipped me off to this song he's involved with by Le Volume Courbe. Led by French-born, London-based singer Charlotte Marionneau, Le Volume Courbe play sweet psychedelic pop and have previously recorded with Kevin Shields, Hope Sandoval and members of Primal Scream. This song, The House, is a beauty, all sun dappled and full of gorgeous melodies.
Saturday, 27 June 2015
We are in Coventry this weekend, at a Conference/family weekend held by the charity that works to help families affected by the set of genetic diseases that our eldest I.T. is affected by. I am doing a short presentation in today's meeting about I.T.'s transition from children's services to adult services. Speaking to several hundred people. Gulp. If I still smoked, I'd be smoking right before that.
Coventry brings four things to mind for me, not necessarily in this order- a) the modernist concrete Cathedral and city centre due to bombing raids during World War Two b) Coventry City's chocolate brown away kit from the late 1970s c) Lady Godiva's naked protest and d) The Specials and The Special AKA. Jerry Dammers soldiered on after the departure of the Fun Boy Three to make the In The Studio album. Popular wisdom usually holds that the first two Specials albums, with Terry, Lynval and Neville, are the cream of the crop. But What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend is absolutely as good as anything the first line up produced and the video is a blast too. I have posted this before but it's good enough to do twice.
Friday, 26 June 2015
Life has been somewhat busy recently, the last few days especially. This post is a bit lazy. But better to post lazily than not at all. This is Timothy J. Fairplay's remix of Le Carousel's Destroy Us from earlier this year.
Destroy Us (Timothy J Fairplay Remix)
Thursday, 25 June 2015
Orange Juice have such an embarrassment of riches in their back catalogue, all skewiff and untutored and out of kilter. It's their rough edges that make them so loveable I think. From their early days, this is the magnificent, frenetic Felicity (written by James Kirk). This version was from a flexi disc given away free with the first 1000 copies of Falling And Laughing, recorded live in Edinburgh in 1979.
Felicity (Flexi Version)
From the later days, the brilliant What Presence?!, shown here live on the Whistle Test in '84 with a squealing guitar solo (along with Out For The Count).
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Last week I posted The Patti Yang Group's I'm Ready, a smashing slice of summery house from Chris Mackin, Matty Skylab and Jagz Kooner. Quite a few of you seemed to approve. Chris has since provided this dub version, the romantically titled I'm Ready For Love Bog Dub
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
On Saturday night I watched Frank, the fictionalised and dramatised version of the life of Frank Sidebottom, starring Maggie Gyllenhall and Michael Fassbender. In the film, based on Jon Ronson's account of playing keys for Frank Sidebottom, Frank takes his band to a shack in Ireland and to their outer limits recording an album. The whole band later on collapses in Austin, Texas before playing at SXSW. Frank vanishes, turning up at a music hall where the remainder of the group are playing alt-country. Michael Fassbender, now giant headless (as Frank) is given a microphone and joins in singing this beautiful song, right at the film's climax. The song is played by the actors and sung by Fassbender. Based partly also on the lives of Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart, Frank is American throughout, rather than from Timperley, and has a rich baritone rather than Chris Sievey's squeeky voice. It doesn't really matter, artistic license and all that. It's a really good film and a totally affecting moment and song. This is not a novelty. You'll love it. Promise.
I Love You All
When Chris Sievey (the real Frank Sidebottom) died he was penniless. A crowdfunded account opened to pay for his funeral and then a couple of years ago a statue was erected in Timperley village, outside what is now a Costa coffee shop. If you're ever in the area you should pay it a visit. In the photo above Frank's statue (right) is pictured with your Bagging Area blogger (left, obvs). Annoyingly, Frank has better hair and fewer bags under his eyes.
Monday, 22 June 2015
Moonbuilding 2703 AD, the new album by The Orb, comes out today. It's a bit of a return to the form and sound of 'classic' Orb, all bubbling synths, melodies, acres of texture, ambient house and dubby basslines. Nothing happens very quickly and once things do get going, they go on for some time. This is absolutely not a criticism- the songs stretch out and wait very nicely indeed without ever getting dull, the humour and inventiveness of old keeping things rolling along. The standard version has four songs, all available to stream on the player below. The extra disc vinyl edition has three more songs which seem to take it all further. Decisions, decisions...
Sunday, 21 June 2015
A short film for Father's Day with our patron Andrew Weatherall talking about record collecting, rockabilly and dub, echo, delay, space and transcendence.
And here's a Lee 'Scratch' Perry production from the heart of the 1970s, The Black Notes.
Saturday, 20 June 2015
Genius might be overplaying it but it isn't too far off. Before M-People, before T Coy, Mike Pickering formed Quando Quango with Gonnie Rietveld and her drumming brother Reinier Rietveld. ACR's drummer Donald Johnson helped out too. They made dance music before such a thing really existed, combining the energy of New York's early 80s music scene with northern European tastes. Gonnie described it as 'Fela Kuti meets Kraftwerk somewhere between Manchester and Rotterdam' This song has manipulated voices, slow and fast, intoning the groups's name, spiraling piano parts, a Latin vibe and synths. It should have had them bouncing all over the Hacienda's dancefloor, except this was 1985- The Smiths held sway. And although this song is now thirty years old it still sounds really fresh. I like it so much I think we'll have two period piece pictures to go with it.
Friday, 19 June 2015
The New York Dolls reformed and released a new album back in 2006 which contained this song, Dance Like A Monkey, a more succinct argument against creationism and the religious right than Richard Dawkins has managed, easier to dance to and much funnier. The music is amped up Rolling Stones style funky rock. Singer David Johansen takes aim and fires...
'You're designed so intelligent
Ain't no way that was an accident
Come on shake your monkey hips
My pretty little creationist
Ain't gonna anthropomorphise ya
Or perversely polymorphisise ya
Little girl you look so sweet
You gotta dance like a monkey
Dance like a monkey'
Dance Like A Monkey
Thursday, 18 June 2015
Mono Life is responsible for one of my favourite songs of this year so far, his remix of Pearl's Cab Ride's Sunrise (posted a month or two back). His album Phrenology is very good too. This song, Remediate, is a joy, full of throbs and pulses and Kraftwerkian keyboards. You can buy Phrenology at Bandcamp, on old fashioned compact disc or as a download.
If you like that, you'll like this one even more, which is like a massive electronic smile full of buzzes and bleeps.
I'm also partial to this one, The Perfect Kiss, with vocals by Berri- this beatless version has a feel of that lengthy Ashley Beedle remix of The Aloof's One Night Stand but without all the self-loathing. I can't recommend Mono Life's stuff highly enough at the moment.
Room for one more? This track, also posted by Acid Ted last week, was Mono Life's first recording, a delicious piece of summery piano house. Free to download.
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Brian at Linear Tracking Lives is counting down his top hundred songs of the 1990s and included a song by Bob Mould's post-Husker Du power trio Sugar, off their final lp FUEL (File Under Easy Listening). Round these parts Copper Blue is the Sugar album to go to, brilliant from start to finish, but Brian did send me back to FUEL and this song which I always loved. Your Favourite Thing has one of those masterly, fluid Bob Mould guitar riffs that he can knock out in his sleep but other guitarists can only dream of.
Your Favourite Thing
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Some more new uptempo guitar action today, this time from Liverpool- Sugarmen are a leather jacket and sunglasses fourpiece. This song has Arctic Monkeys and Libertines influences (fifteen years old now those particular influences so long enough ago for young kids to have experienced them second hand, from older siblings). I can also hear Orange Juice and 80s indie in it (influences from their dads maybe). This was produced by Mick Jones, with whom they shared a stage in Venice recently where Mick was exhibiting his Rock and Roll Public Library. There's enough here to make me want to hear some more, even if they do look disgustingly young.
Monday, 15 June 2015
This one from San Diego's Crocodiles is a sleazy, born to boogie, piece of action, sounding like the best and dumbest bits of your favourite fuzzed up, three chord, rock 'n' roll bands distilled down into three minutes and thirty nine seconds. The video is good fun as well. New album, Boys, recorded in Mexico City and out right now.
Sunday, 14 June 2015
Another eclectic two hours in the company of Andrew Weatherall and his Music's Not For Everyone show courtesy of NTS radio, ideal for Sunday listening. Contains The Fall, Crocodiles and Lee 'Scratch' Perry and two songs from Weatherall's new band with Nina Walsh, The Woodleigh Research Facility. Today daughter ET turns twelve- I've been trying to convince her that she should spend the afternoon of her birthday doing a walking tour of Stockport's concrete modernist buildings, organised by the Manchester Modernist Society, but she doesn't seem up for it. Kids eh!
Saturday, 13 June 2015
This is a public service announcement... my top ten Joe Strummer post Clash songs. After some consideration I've tried to get a spread from the end of The Clash through to Joe's last Mescaleros record. Joe's back catalogue is pretty badly served, with a lot of his solo songs, especially those from a variety of film soundtracks, out of print. A career spanning boxed set or double disc is required. Hellcat put out a three disc compilation of his final three Mescaleros albums plus some B-sides but it was download only. I don't think Earthquake Weather is currently available either. Someone should sort it all out and put it all together in one place. Some of the rankings here a pretty arbitrary here, I could easily move them around if I did it again.
Island Hopping (from Earthquake Weather)
A gentle-ish acoustic guitar song with a story of the council chopping down the trees on Mango Street, together with some Latin instruments and percussion. the 12" version Mango Street is worth seeking out too.
X Ray Style (off Art, Rock And The X Ray Style)
I think this may be my favourite Joe solo album, proof he was back and his fire hadn't gone out. X Ray Style has some lovely ruminations on life, people and the universe and some very Joe references to things like rockabilly trains and be-bop guns.
The Unknown Immortal (off the soundtrack to Walker)
Joe spent much of the late 80s in and around films, with Alex Cox, various Pogues, Jim Jarmusch and others. The Unknown Immortal is Joe reflecting on the nature of fame and greatness, and losing it. From the epicentre of his wilderness years.
Tennessee Rain (from the soundtrack to Walker)
Another song hidden away on a film soundtrack Tennessee Rain is a lilting, rootsy thing. 'I wish I was drunk in Havana, I wish I was at the Mardi Gras'.
At The Border, Guy (off Global A Go Go)
An extended dub influenced song with Joe stitching together lines from an old notebook while The Mescaleros organ, guitar and bass cook away slowly. One of my favourites from his solo career that seems to pull a lot of what he did best into one song and let it go.
Sleepwalk (Earthquake Weather)
Joe again full of self doubt, ruefulness and searching for something, vocals buried low in a muddy mix, acoustic guitars plucked and the Latin vibe going on. Joe almost croons on this one, asking 'What good would it do?' repeatedly, with no answer.
Yalla Yalla (Art, Rock and The X Ray Style)
Magnificent Richard Norris co-write and production, with acid house and reggae influences lifting it up and Joe's vocal brimming with confidence again. I saw this one done live at least twice, a great set closer and a real return to form at the end of the 90s.
Johnny Appleseed (From Global A Go Go)
I've written about this one before, an almost definitive Joe Strummer solo single with the revving guitars, great playing from the band and Martin Luther King and a Buick '49. Nice video too.
Burning Lights (from the I Hired A Contract Killer soundtrack)
The greatest of the great lost Joe Strummer solo songs, just a man with a Telecaster and some poetry about losing it. 'You are the last of the buffalo' he sings, to and about himself possibly.
Trash City (off the soundtrack to Permanent Record)
Cracking three chord riff, clattering drums and pots and pans backing from Latino Rockabilly War and some typically Joe lyrics- 'in Trash City on Party Avenue, I got a girl from Kalamazoo' is the starting point and it takes in 'fifty seven records that you think you oughta own' and 'a hotdog in the nightmare zone'. Sounds like the best Joe Strummer song The Clash song never recorded.
Bubbling under the top ten were Minstrel Boy, Coma Girl, Sandpaper Blues, and especially From Willesden To Cricklewood which is gorgeous.
Friday, 12 June 2015
New and free to download from a group of sonic adventurers- Chris Mackin (Chris Rotter, guitarist for Andrew Weatherall or rather the man who says Andrew Weatherall is the singer in his band), Matty Skylab, Jagz Kooner (Sabres of Paradise, The Aloof) and sultry vocals by Patti Yang- is this very relaxed slice of Chicago house by way of the Balaeric Isles. Rooftop terrace. Sun on skin. Fag ends in empty beer bottles. Thumpy bass. Nice build up to the end. Classy.
Thursday, 11 June 2015
Listening to Jamie Xx's solo album has sent me back to various related odds and sods, mainly remixes of The Xx. This one by Greg Wilson particularly but also a couple of John Talabot ones. I resisted the temptation to type the legendary Greg Wilson which by now appears to have become his forename, deservedly so. This remix pushes Romy's vocal upfront, keeps the guitar line and adds a skippy house beat, perfect for that moment when the sun is just dipping down and you've got a glass of something cold. Reminds me of 1990s Everything But The Girl, a connection I hadn't made until now.
Night Time (Greg Wilson Remix)
Wednesday, 10 June 2015
There's a whole load of shouting and squally guitars and a blistering guitar solo in this recent collaboration between J Mascis and Kim Gordon (pictured above with Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein), done with or for Converse and free to download. It starts noisy and gets progressively noisier, sounding not unlike both their previous band's late 80s peaks. But who is the slow boy?
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Juddering Teutonic techno for Tuesday, the theme tune of German film and TV series Das Boot by Klaus Doldinger, reworked in 1991 by U96. In your face keyboard stabs, robotic voices and bleepy sonar noises. Wunderbar.
U96 were a group of dance music producers from Hamburg. The single was followed in 1992 by an album with more Second World War submarine themed tracks- Der Kommandant, Sonar Sequences, Ambient Underworld among them- but I don't think I've ever heard it, just this single. It was redone in 1993 and various times since.
Das Boot (Techno Version)
Monday, 8 June 2015
Don Letts was Mick Jones' right hand man in Big Audio Dynamite, never more so than on this B-side to Just Play Music! in 1988. This has a ragga vibe, a stuttering drum machine rhythm and Don's vocals about everyday hassles- ringing phones, toothache and headache, shaving cuts and much worse.
Much Worse (Extended Version)
I've been giving the idea of an imaginary Big Audio Dynamite compilation album post some thought but don't want to step on The Vinyl Villain's toes with his series. There's much more to B.A.D. than just the first album. They did have a knack for choosing the right songs for their singles though.
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Bradley Wiggins sets off in two hours time in an attempt to break the world record for the hour. In short, riding round and round a velodrome track as fast as possible for an hour. He thinks he might be able to break through the 55 km barrier. Good luck Wiggo.
I went out and did some circuits in Trafford Park on Thursday night in my own hour attempt and managed 25.6 km. Less than half of what Wiggins may manage. But then I haven't got a beard. Or an Olympians legs.
The lyrics of Round And Round apparently document New Order's somewhat difficult relationship with Tony Wilson at the time and the money pit that was Factory Records and the Hacienda..
There's something about dub and Sunday mornings for me. King Tubby's 1974 release King Tubby Presents The Roots Of Dub is as good a place as any, although the follow up (Dub From The Roots) and the Augustus Pablo album King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown run it close. The sleeve layout and the typography will be familiar to Beta Band fans. This one has the characteristic flying cymbal sound, some phased guitar, piano dropping in and out and one of those basslines that I love so much.
A First Class Dub
Saturday, 6 June 2015
This track by Tranquility Bass came past my way again recently, perfectly laid back from California in 1991, when house began to go down tempo. Insect noises. A veeeerrrry slow beat. The odd drone. That vocal sample. A superbly jazzy bassline. Taking it easy. Sadly, the man behind Tranquility Bass, Michael Kandel, died a few weeks ago aged only forty seven.
They Came In Peace
Friday, 5 June 2015
In 2013 a beautiful package came out from Faber, a novel by Michael Smith, loose leafed and unbound with annotations and scribblings in the margins by Andrew Weatherall, with a cd and a 10" single. The book, available as a paperback for a few quid now in the usual places, is the semi-autobiographical tale of a man returning to London after living in a beach hut in Kent, and finding London changing, being gentrified before his eyes. Smith's writing is shot through with loss for Soho and Shoreditch as they were and the partying of the 90s but also recognising that cities change, they move on. He sees bars selling Belgian beer and artisan food shops and both likes them and loathes them. It's loose and conversational in tone, much of it like being up at dawn with a hangover and flashes of memories from the night before.
Andrew Weatherall provided a soundtrack with Michael Smith reading sections of the book in his softened northern accent. Weatherall's music is mainly tone pieces, washes of sound and noise with some folky picked guitars. Try this one.
Weatherall's done a mix for Resident Advisor that you can download for free here, with tracks by Vermont, Prins Thomas, Flash Atkins, Simon Says, Duncan Gray, Club Bizarre, PPF, Vox Low and Boot and Tax. In the Q and A on the website, he is asked what the idea behind the mix was. Weatherall's response is 'to sequence some records together without the joins being too apparent'. Arf.
Thursday, 4 June 2015
My first few listens of the Jamie Xx solo album have been very enjoyable- it's got the tunes, it's well paced, full of thumping and/or interesting drums and percussion, and moments of bittersweet euphoria. The sleeve's lovely too. There's a garage/dubstep influence on the some of the songs which keep it from being too tasteful and give it a rougher edge. The Rest Is Noise already sounds like being the song you're going to hear out of open windows and on TV festival coverage. Another highlight is Loud Places, sung by bandmate Romy. This recent live performance from French TV has Romy singing and guitaring, a lively percussionist, a choir and Stella from Warpaint on drums.
In 1988 the world's most dysfunctional rock group released their definitive song, Freak Scene. The song practically invents slackers and grunge. J Mascis' guitar sound is brilliant- controlled but chaotic, spinning distorted notes off all over the place. His vocals are resigned, almost bored to tears with the whole thing but it's a love song of sorts too- 'when I need a friend it's still you'. Post-indie punk, pre-grunge, with a pop tune. And swearing too. I've got its parent album Bug but never really play anything off it except Freak Scene.
Dinosaur Jr were a nightmare to each other by all accounts; passive aggressive, J controlling Murph's every drum beat when recording, not communicating. Bassist Lou Barlow wrote the lyrics to the final song on Bug, the only one he sings. Over ear splitting noise, aimed solely at J Mascis, he screams 'why don't you like me?'
I don't know what's going on with my Boxnet bandwidth but either it's not reset at the end of May or June is already over the limit. I'll try to sort something out. In the meantime you can watch the video for Freak Scene, filmed in John Robb's back garden in bohemian West Didsbury. It looks like it cost less than the price of a pint of lager and a bag of chips.
Wednesday, 3 June 2015
It's Wednesday. It's June. Here's a brace of marvelous chuggy, post-acid house groovers that seem to come from the darkest corners of small back rooms filled with dry ice and sweat, a pair of dancefloor tracks from two artists well familiar to this blog. First up Edit Service 58, a re-working of something or other by Hardway Bros. Spaced sequencers, intense, a ride to the sun, free download.
Second is Dim The Lights, a filthy, bleepy, beat heavy affair from Richard Norris, pushing all the settings all the way up.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
The reformed Replacements (frontman and songwriter Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson) play two nights at the Roundhouse in London, tonight and tomorrow. Which is great if you're within spitting distance of Camden on a work night, but less so for the rest of us. Still, I hope it's great and everyone has a ball. The Replacements were such a great little band whose songs touch chords and tug heartstrings. A lot of their best songs- and therefore some of the best songs of the US in the 80s- were let down by bad or dated production. This is as true of Can't Hardly Wait as any, marred on the official Pleased To Meet Me version by horns and a too poppy production. This version, recorded during sessions for the previous album Tim but not included, is much better.
Can't Hardly Wait (Tim Version)
Monday, 1 June 2015
More dubbed out wonder for the first day of June. Man Next Door was the third single from The Slits and shows them moving deeper into dub territory and away from the punkier sound of Cut. Released in 1980 Man Next Door is a cover of a John Holt tune and produced by Adrian Sherwood. Tessa Pollitt was unwell so the bass was played by Ari Up and the whole session was done at short notice, Sherwood calling to say they had a couple of hours if they could come now. Drums were played by a man called Cecil and according to Viv Albertine they didn't know his surname and never saw him again. On the B-side Sherwood twisted the song into further abstract dub shapes which is what you're getting here.
Man Next Door (Version)