Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Omens Of Awareness

We are going on holiday today, six days away for half term. Some friends won a holiday which they then realised they couldn't go on, and very kindly gave it to us. We have four nights near Paris followed by two on the Dutch coast, not far from Amsterdam (although given we'll have the kids with us the coffee shops and Sex Museum will not be on the itinerary that most people have suggested to us). Lucky us though- we'd never usually go abroad at this time of the year. It is also Mrs Swiss' birthday today, so she'll start her birthday in Manchester and finish it near Paris, via Dover, Calais and a cross channel ferry. See you all next Sunday.

Current Bagging Area favourite Timothy J Fairplay has just put out another track under his Junior Fairplay alter ego. It has old school rhythm and synths.

Like the Fairplay track I posted last Monday Omens Of Awareness comes with a story...

'About 10ft tall with hairy green skin, yellow triangular eyes and red veins across the forehead. In place of a mouth there was what appeared to be a metallic chain or fence'. Security guard Fortunato Zanfretta was later questioned by medical experts during deep hypnosis. The 26 year old Italians astonishing ordeal began in the village of Torriglia near Genoa. He was patrolling after midnight when his car stopped mysteriously . He saw four lights and jumped from the car, gun in hand. 'Then I was hit from behind and whirled round and shone my flashlight and saw an enormous green creature'. he said later. 'That was the last thing he remembered until nearly two hours later when he was awakened by a blinding light and tremendous roar of a UFO blasting off. Leading medical hypnotist and physician Dr Mauro Moretti said afterwards 'I believe 90% of what he said was the truth. You cannot invent things under hypnosis'. It was only three days after the hypnosis session that Fortunato had his second meeting with the the unearthly visitors. He was driving to the same village when a strange force seized his car and took him to the place he had met the spaceman before. In his second hypnosis session he said he was again taken aboard a UFO and examined by 10 great creatures with triangular eyes. Fortunato said that although they spoke no Italian or any other human language, they communicated with him by 'light signals and sounds' transmitted through a helmet placed over his head. The helmet was so tight it gave him a headache.'

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Haus Music

There's definitely something in the air at the moment, something 1990. I just found this track from CamelPhat, from last month, and it sounds like an explosion in an acid house factory- so spot on it's almost pastiche. Very good and liable to make you want to move a little. 'Haus-haus haus haus music all night long. I'll haus you. Say what?' Free download too.


Jenny Lee Lindberg, Warpaint's cool as fuck bassist, has a solo album coming out (under the name jennylee, all lower case). This song is the attention grabber to get you interested. Dominated by one of her trademark slinky basslines it's got guitars that point towards The Cure, skittering drums and an overall feel of the early 80s- what the record companies called New Wave. More labels for you- dark underbelly of LA, post-punk, early goth. I've got to say, I like it.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Factory Time

Minny Pops were one of Factory's oddest signings, a Dutch post-punk, electronic, arthouse band led by Wally van Middendorp. After opening for Joy Division in Eindhoven in 1980 Rob Gretton recommended them to Factory and they put out several releases on both Factory and sister label Factory Benelux. Inevitably they were produced by Martin Hannett, often at Stockport's legendary Strawberry Studios (although not this single, recorded in The Netherlands). Heaven only knows what a group of serious Dutchmen made of Stockport in the 1980s. This is dour but danceable.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Private Plane

Husker Du have reunited- well, sort of. The three members have launched a new website that sells t-shirts and have been in agreement to do so. So there are whispers. I don't know if this would be a good thing or not. Drew always takes the line that he doesn't go to reformations and the purist in me admires that. On the other hand, I've seen several favourite bands play after reforming and don't regret it. It's probably irrelevant anyway- going from they have spoken about selling merchandise and set up a website to Husker Du playing Manchester is several pretty big jumps. Judging by what other US bands do, they'd play three nights in London and then fly out again.

Flip Your Wig was my first Husker Du album, their last for SST before leaving for Warners. It is wall to wall intense US punk spliced with 60s psychedelia (apart from The Baby Song which I always skip). Both Grant Hart and Bob Mould were at the very top of their game and the production is full on as well. It may not be their best album (Zen Arcade probably, or New Day Rising) but it was my first and you never forget the first.

Private Plane

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Luca said in a comment on yesterday's post that to him house music is Brutalist architecture, a connection I totally get. Some music- Underworld's for example and a lot of techno- isn't abstract expressionism in the Jackson Pollock vein, it's linear, straight lines, horizontal lines, parallel lines, railway lines, street lights on motorways shooting off in the distance in the dark, it goes from here to there. Those unchanging beats, sequenced basslines (they're called lines for a reason), pulsing synths with minimal changes off the always heading forward route- forward momentum rather than the splashes of colour and drizzles of Pollock. Underworld's Dark And Long (this version is off the e.p. and is nine minutes plus long) is just what I mean.

Dark And Long

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Box Energy

                                                               Untitled 1951, Jackson Pollock

Box Energy by DJ Pierre is one of the foundation stone records of acid house- an 808 drumbeat and Roland TB 303 bassline synthesiser set to mindfuck squiggle mode. Strange to think this sound was invented back in 1987, so long ago now. How much sense this track makes on a Tuesday morning in October I don't know. I like to think that acid house, Chicago style, has something in common with Jackson Pollock's abstract expressionism of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Colours and shapes. Movement. Action. Energy. Certainly those lines of colour were the sort of thing I'd see when I closed my eyes when dancing to this kind of record back in the day. But that could have been the strobes.

Box Energy

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Cat Prowls Again

Timothy J. Fairplay can do no wrong in my eyes- he consistently and frequently records and releases instrumental gems, science fiction dancefloor gems dredged up from analogue synths and drum machines. I could do with it all being compiled onto one double cd for convenience's sake. This one went up on his Soundcloud page back in July with the hashtags #rare gloom and #stasi disco, both of which make perfect sense as types of music. This track was also accompanied by the following piece of text...

British exchange student Jennifer Bannister takes a summer job at an archaeological dig just outside Rome. In charge of the dig is the eccentric Bella Raubkatze who is the world expert in the ancient female only feline worshipping cult who's temple the archaeologists are exhuming. When Jennifer arrives at the dig the camp is in chaos, two of the girls working there have gone missing in the night, and things are made even worse for her as all the other girls are increasingly unfriendly towards her. Is there something sinister about Bella's interest in the this ancient religion? Why does she get angry about Jennifer's affection for Tommy the only guy working on the dig? And why does the camp become totally deserted at the same time every night? Is Jennifer about to make a terrible discovery?

I've been waiting for the next installment ever since.

Timothy put out a seven track mini-album called False Visions for Cassette Store Day (two days ago, Saturday), limited to one hundred copies only. I don't have one unfortunately. This is a seven minute preview of the songs from it. More goodies from his magic fingers and golden ears.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Avery Live

This Daniel Avery dj set live in Japan is pretty special- the first eight minutes alone are gripping and intense, some drones and noise, minute adjustments and fiddles of the controls...  and then the beat comes in. Tension and release. Watching a man fiddle with a pair of cds and a mixer might not seem too exciting but there's something quite compelling about it- if the visuals don't sustain your interest, the music is well worth sticking around for.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

They Joined Together And Decided Not To Fight

More music from Merseyside. The Farm were Liverpool's own indie-dance band, on the go since the mid-80s, into football, trainers and cagoules and responsible for a pisstaking fanzine called The End. The single Stepping Stone and appearance in A Short Film About Chilling put them into the music papers and the clubs and in 1990 Groovy Train sent them into the charts. A head of steam built up towards the release of the album Spartacus in 1991- one of the most disappointing albums I've ever heard. Luckily they found something from somewhere to write All Together Now. The lyrics were based on the Christmas truce of 1914, written by singer Peter Hooton years earlier. Hooton wrote a song that could have been corny but he'd managed to sidestep it to write something that was poignant and inspiring- a call for peace and unity, brotherhood and not following orders. The video's touching as well, filmed in the local pub with older regulars mouthing the words.

For Hooton growing up in Liverpool in the 80s, the city Thatcher wanted to destroy, politics was a passion. Groovy Train was about a girl he bumped into in the late 80s, a former politico and activist, who had got into clubbing and E and wasn't into politics anymore, she'd got on the groovy train.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Art On 45

Thank Fac it's Friday. Delving deeper into the recesses of Factory's back catalogue we stumble across names like The Royal Family And The Poor. Formed in Liverpool in 1978 by Mike Keane and at one point containing future Happy Mondays manager Nathan McGough, the band were largely an on-off project for multi-instrumentalist Keane, who had constructed his own instruments- dismantling a radio receiver, wiring it up to a synth and connecting both to an old stereogram. In their early days Keane played synth and Arthur McDonald read Situationist lyrics over the top. Their 1982 debut single for Factory is pretty uncompromising and pretty uncommercial.

Art On 45

Thursday, 15 October 2015

No! Say It Loud, No!

Today, Pete Wylie. Yesterday The Vinyl Villain published a post on the third member of The Crucial Three- Pete Wylie and his Mighty Wah! a blogpost so comprehensive and with comments so good I rewrote my planned post for today. So instead of what I had partly written I'm revisiting a version of a Mighty Wah! song I have posted before, a brilliantly executed re-edit of The Mighty Wah's The Story Of The Blues (Part 2) from the Edit Service people. A long electronic drum intro, the female backing vox and then Pete Wylie's spoken part, including that quote from Jack Kerouac- 'I remember something Sal Paradise said 'the city intellectuals of the world were divorced from the folkbody of the land and were just rootless fools'' and Wylie's message, 'you've got to hope for the best and that's the best you can hope for' and ultimately say 'No!'. If you love the original, you'll love this too. Promise.

By the way, I apologise for the appearance of the letter U and the number 2 in close proximity in the picture accompanying this post.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Or Is It Treason?

The idea that any band could contain three egos like Ian McCulloch's, Julian Cope's and Pete Wylie's is absurd and according to legend The Crucial Three never even got as far as rehearsing, but it's nice to try to imagine what they might have sounded like. This video for The Teardrop Explode's Treason, a single off 1980s Kilimanjaro, is a hoot. The B-side was Read It In Books, a joint McCulloch-Cope effort recorded by both bands.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Where The Hell Have You Been?

'We've been waiting with our best suits on, hair slicked back and all that jazz'.

Echo And The Bunnymen benefitted massively from Bill Drummond's management, his leftfield plans and sense of theatre. In between the first and second albums (Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here) they released a four track live e.p., Shine So Hard, a document of a gig at the Pavillion in Buxton deep in the Pennines, in January 1981. The palm house, the army surplus clothing, the bright white lights, Pete's shaven head and the other three's fringes and quiff- it's never all about the music with a band, the visuals are such an important part and the Bunnymen and Drummond knew this. Echo And The Bunnymen, especially early on, had a really democratic sound, the drums, bass, guitar and vocals all seem to carry equal weight and have the same space, no one instrument dominating. All That Jazz is an early highlight, a stomping bassline, shards of guitar, military drums and Mac's urgent singing.

Monday, 12 October 2015

What Time Is Love?

It's a long road from Liverpool's punk scene and Big In Japan (a band described memorably recently on BBC4 as 'less than the sum of their parts') to global success with The KLF's stadium house but it is the road Bill Drummond travelled between 1976 and 1991. He's done much of interest since too but today's post is about The KLF and their massive What Time Is Love?, remixed here by Austria's Jurgen Koppers. Mu Mu.

What Time is Love (Power Mix)

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Sunday Jam

If Friday night was about Weatherall's Disco Deviant dancefloor mix then Sunday morning is the time for the most recent edition of Music's Not For Everyone, covering all the bases and all the basses from rockabilly to psychedelia to electronica and beyond. Listen to it here.

Someone reminded me yesterday of Jam J, a 12" single from 1994 where an already experimental studio jam session with James and producer Brian Eno was then further reworked by Sabres of Paradise into a thirty three minute outer space/inner space dub with echo and all kinds of tinkering. The record was in four parts, labelled A1. Arena Dub A2. Amphetamine Pulsate B1. Sabresonic Tremolo Dub B2. Spaghetti Steamhammer. This is all four parts, both sides in one handy mp3.

Jam J (James vs Sabres of Paradise)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Over Rising

Another album twenty five years old right about now is The Charlatan's debut Some Friendly, an album I'll admit underwhelmed me a little at the time. After the 1-2-3 of their opening singles (Indian Rope, The Only One I Know and Then) it seemed a little light on further killer tunes and a bit samey. It's grown on me over the years, and it might still come up a little short but it's got bags of period charm, postcards from the past- a bit like listening to songs from 1965 in 1990. And it's got Sproston Green, the gig closing, album closing monster. I don't think the smart money was on them lasting. They've not only outlasted most of their contemporaries, they've made one of this year's best albums too in Modern Nature. The sobering thought about Some Friendly is from the line up that made this record, two of them- Rob Collins and Jon Brookes- are no longer with us.

Over Rising

Friday, 9 October 2015

Friday Night Live

Those of you of a certain persuasion will enjoy this two hour Andrew Weatherall set from Disco Deviant in Brighton last weekend. Having been forced out of his studio by greedy developers Weatherall  had a sort through his records, sold some (sold some?!) and unearthed some forgotten gems from the early to mid 90s- expect high quality machine funk, robot voices and cowbell.

Wild Party

A Certain Ratio were one of the key Factory Records acts but always seemed to live in the shadows of Joy Division and New Order. Their early releases were austere scratchy affairs, songs like Do The Du were masterpieces of taut bass, clipped guitar, chanted vocals, short back and sides haircuts with army shorts. By 1985 they'd lost singer Simon Topping and made records like Wild Party, funk with slap bass, busy percussion, bassist Jez Kerr on vox and a definite northern sensibility. You can dance to it but you'd keep your coat while doing so to keep out the cold.

Wild Party

They left Factory and signed to a major (A&M) but the commercial breakthrough never really came. It didn't stop them making some great records. Twenty five years ago last month they released ACR:MCR, a record infused with the sound of house music and new technology, one of the best British albums of the period.

Thursday, 8 October 2015


This is the Andrew Weatherall remix of the ever-so-slightly underwhelming New Order single Restless, out on Friday, green vinyl and download. Weatherall keeps Bernard's vocal and adds some echo to it, takes off the semi-acoustic guitars, sticks a thumping big kick drum underneath and adds one of those squiggly arpeggios in he's so fond of. There's a guitar line to the fore at two and a half minutes that brings a certain bass guitarist to mind. Breakdown with synths. Slashing great guitar chords halfway through and the thumping beat returns. It certainly kicks you about a bit when listened to loud.

I've been living, on and off, with Music Complete for a fortnight now and here's my tuppence of thoughts for what they're worth. The press have been largely very positive ('their best album since Technique/in twentyfive years'- a somewhat mixed acolade given they only released three albums in that time and one, Waiting For The Siren's Call, was an utter stinker and another was made as Factory collapsed around them). Many of the fans have been gushing all over various internet sites- and I'm sorry but I really cannot take seriously anyone who says that there are songs on Music Complete that in New Order's top five ever. The album has some positives though- many of the songs do sound alive, energised, a band who wanted to make an album again and were set on making it sound good. And it does sound good- the production is good, the programming is top notch, the synths are there, the guitar playing hits the spot. On some of the songs there's a real sense that this is New Order and they sound better than we might have expected. There are songs here that sound massive, that make the miles disappear and the years slip away.

On the other hand, too many of the songs are a bit formulaic (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, break, verse, chorus, fade). Most of them go on too long, almost all them hit the five minute mark and some go over six for no real reason. The Iggy Pop song doesn't work, at least not in the context of the album. Interesting experiment but that's about it. If I wanted to hear Brandon Flowers singing (which I don't) I'd buy a Killers album (which I won't). The biggest issue for me is that they aren't moving forward, they're chasing their own sound- one song deliberately echoes Fine Time- or other people's- I Feel Love mainly. What this album ends up sounding like is a well done, glossed up version of all the New Order side projects combined, Electronic, Bad Lieutenant and The Other Two with side helpings of Pet Shop Boys and The Chemical Brothers. In fact what it sounds like mainly is a Bernard Sumner solo album with Stephen and Gillian taking part. And I can't help but feel that Bernard's got what he's wanted since sometime in the mid-to-late 80s, which is an album without any creative tension and a bass player who does what he's told and plays the root notes. God knows, they don't have anything to prove in terms of making groundbreaking art- they did more than almost any other band since 1981 to move the artform forward and redefine it. So while I can enjoy Music Complete in parts, I can't help but feel there's something missing.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Permanent Record

In 1988 Joe Strummer recorded five songs for the soundtrack to the film Permanent Record, a Keanu Reeves film about teenage suicide and its effect on those left behind (something which must have struck a chord with Joe whose own brother had killed himself years earlier). For the soundtrack Joe worked with Latino Rockabilly War, a group of musicians he put together while decamped in L.A. including guitarist Zander Schloss and ex-Red Hot Chillli Pepper drummer Jack Irons. These would be the players on the Earthquake Weather album a year later. The soundtrack had five Strummer songs including solo career highlight Trash City (which I just found out Keanu Reeves played some guitar on). The title track, Theme From Permanent Record, is an instrumental and you might think 'what is the point of a Joe Strummer instrumental?' Joe wasn't a virtuoso guitarist, his voice and lyrics are what most people would pay their money for. Zander Schloss is a guitarist who sometimes needs reeling in a bit too. But this instrumental is worth a few minutes of your time today and shows one of Joe's other talents- to get a bunch of people in a room, to get a feeling going, and to get them playing something heartfelt.

Theme From Permanent Record

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

I Could Never Hate You

Heavenly Records is twenty five years old this year, founded and run by the seemingly all round good guy Jeff Barratt, and they're running a series of celebrations. Saint Etienne's second single, released in September 1990, is one of the label and group's absolute high points, a cover of a Field Mice song and in the original version with vocals by Donna Savage (this being before Sarah Cracknell joined them). The single was followed by a second 12" with some remixes by Pete Heller, which are just perfect.

Kiss And Make Up (Midsummer Madness Mix)

Monday, 5 October 2015


Sometimes, something really good happens when you least expect it. The new Natasha Khan project pricked my ears up when I first read about it a few weeks back, then Drew recommended it and Walter posted it recently too. The first time I listened to it on a stream it blew me away. Sexwitch are Natasha Khan, Dan Carey and some of Toy. The band name alone gives you an idea of what you're going to get. Over six songs the album unfolds with some dark and thundering grooves, bass and drums well to the fore, jagged shards of guitar and Natasha's vocals, chanting and controlled but also letting go with shrieks and screams. 'I addicted him, he addicted me' she intones, which captures the feel as well as anything. Four of the songs are Middle Eastern or North African in origin, the lyrics translated into English, and these are the ones that really move, that make this record connect, where the thumping, voodoo magic happens. A sexy, psychedelic stew.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Dead Come Alive

Adrian Sherwood has rummaged through his vaults and put this out, a previously unreleased 1983 tune with the man himself operating a then brand new Linn Drum and a teenage Neneh Cherry rapping. Ahead of the game in 1983, still sounding fresh today.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing

I rediscovered this last week, a 1989 single by A.C. Marias. In my 1989 head it somehow sounded like really polished electronic pop but listened to today sounds murkier, less overtly poppy, with a darker, post-punk undertow. The glacial vocal floats over the top of some synths and a clattering rhythm, the lyric recalling a spy thriller or Cold War film. Rowland S Howard and Barry Adamson were involved in the album and I'm assuming played on this single. A.C. Marias was the name for Angela Conway's recordings, who was also a collaborator of Wire (whose Bruce Gilbert helped out with the A.C. Marias records). A welcome blast from the late 80s I'd completely forgotten about.

One Of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)

Friday, 2 October 2015

Belgian Friends

Factory Friday, Durutti Column. Vini Reilly has made something near thirty albums as Durutti Column (him, usually drummer Bruce Mitchell, occasionally a few others). Inside those albums are hundreds of songs, that have attracted a wide variety of labels- post punk, modern-classical, jazz, dream pop- but as Vini has said, and I paraphrase, 'I don't know why people get so hung up about forms, they're all just silly tunes innit?'

In amongst all those hundreds of 'silly tunes' there are some moments of brilliance so beautiful words cannot do them justice. For Belgian Friends wasn't even on a proper album, appearing on the compilation release A Factory Quartet (FACT 24) alongside songs by Kevin Hewick, The Royal Family And The Poor and Blurt. It later turned up on Domo Arigato too. Donald Johnson of ACR plays drums on For Belgian Friends, and his rhythms give it a dancier sensibility, while Vini's guitar and piano play intertwining melodies. Martin Hannett is at the controls.

For Belgian Friends

This fan-made video is good fun.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

In This House That I Call Home

God things are busy this week, hardly got time to organise a thought, nevermind some blogposts- here's a cracking tune from 1981 from Los Angeles punk band X, punky and punkish rather than screaming Californian hardcore. Ragged around the edges and arms aloft.

In This House That I Call Home