Saturday, 31 January 2015
Last post in the join-the-dots sequence of this week and it's a hop,a skip and jump from DJ Shadow on Monday to Kate Moss today. Kate collided with pop culture in 1990, the Third Summer Of Love issue of The Face magazine (Spike Island, rave, De La Soul etc) and a football and music fashion shoot in April 1990 (E For England, World In Motion etc). I had the Brazil jersey from the range she's modelling above and wore it to Spike Island. Since then she's floated around the music world, dipping in and out. Yesterday's post included Jack White's Raconteurs. Jack has at least two connections to Croydon's supermodel- in his primary band, The White Stripes, Kate starred in the video for I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, an ace, raw cover of the Dusty Springfield song. Your enjoyment of this video will depend on whether the prospect of Kate Moss pole-dancing in her underwear interests you at all.
Ahem. Moving on.
Another of Jack's projects, The Dead Weather, saw him playing drums behind Alison Mosshart, whose day job was singing in The Kills. I've posted Baby Says before but that's no reason not to do it again. Stunning song.
Alison's musical partner in The Kills is Jamie Hince, Kate Moss's husband. She sang vocals on Primal Scream's 2002 cover version of Some Velvet Morning (originally sung by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra). This song, and the Disco Heater Dub version which followed it, were produced by, and you knew this was coming surely, Andrew Weatherall. I'm not sure it's any of those involved's finest hour but there you go. I've more or less managed a Dry January- no, not alcohol, that would be stupid- a Dry January of no Weatherall and no Clash/BAD etc. Abstinence until today.
Friday, 30 January 2015
DJ Shadow >>> UNKLE >>> Richard Ashcroft >>> The Verve >>> The Good, The Bad And The Queen >>> Dangermouse >>> Gnarls Barkley.
I really liked Gnarls Barkley's number one worldwide smash Crazy. Dangermouse and Cee Lo Green made some memorable Top Of The Pops appearances (the one where they dressed as air crew springs to mind). Back in 2006 the mash up was all the rage. This one, I don't know who did it, splices Gnarls Barkley with The Raconteurs (Steady As She Goes).
Crazy As She Goes
We saw a band at a fiftieth birthday party last weekend- the band were much younger than us, mid-to-late 20s. Their go-to cover versions were largely early/mid 2000s- The Strokes, The Raconteurs, Arctic Monkeys, White Stripes, Black Keys. It said something culturally- these kids, their references, are post-20th century. Rave on.
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.
Thursday, 22 January 2015
My previously unplanned Joy Division-New Order week continues. I can't imagine Republic is anyone's favourite New Order album, despite its magisterial Regret single. It was made against the backdrop of Factory collapsing (as sung about in Ruined In A Day). When Republic came out it was not on Factory but, irony of ironies, on London Records. Side one of Republic was decent enough- Regret is the last truly great song they recorded, World (The Price of Love) is a good dance tune, Ruined In A Day's alright. Spooky, co-written with producer Stephen Hague, stood out. It was also the final single released off the lp, and had a variety of remixes. I'm not sure New Order have been best served by remixes (a few outstanding ones excepted). The handful of remixes of Spooky passed muster though especially the ones by Fluke. They tweaked Spooky into a really classy, shiny, sleek piece of techno-pop.
In 1993, not long after this was released and when we had just started courting I put this on a mixtape for the future Mrs Swiss. It had a hand drawn and written cassette inlay card and everything.
The picture above shows one of the more bizarre promotional appearances the band made. A Top Of The Pops slot to sell Regret was done live via satellite link up from the Baywatch beach. New Order mimed the song while surrounded by buffed Californians playing volleyball and frisbee. The smasher of the Berlin Wall David Hasselhoff looked on.
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
While we're doing Joy Division and New Order let's have Frente!'s much loved cover version of NO's Bizarre Love Triangle (from 1994). It's good sometimes to hear familiar songs done differently- this is very sweetly sung with an acoustic guitar picking away. You could call it twee if you wanted to. I think I would.
Bizarre Love Triangle
The hole in the ground in the photograph was The Hacienda, Whitworth Street. What other city in the world would have allowed one of the most important parts of its cultural history to be demolished? The view at the time was 'we are not sentimentalists, tear it down'. Now there's a pretty nasty apartment block on the site called- yes, you guessed it- Hacienda Apartments.
Here's the 1986 original of Bizarre Love Triangle. Epic in every way.
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
This shot shows Joy Division sitting on a low wall near the cenotaph, in St Peter's Square, Manchester. A cenotaph which the city council have recently moved several hundred metres away. Quite disorientating when you first encounter it unexpectedly, on foot.
Jah Division made/make dub versions of Joy Division songs- that's a very niche interest. Even more bizarre is the claim that they are (allegedly) Russian Rastafarians. Hmmm. Their dubs are tense, wired, spacey versions of songs which were pretty tense and wired in the first place. Well worth giving a spin.
Oooh, have another one as a bonus.
Monday, 19 January 2015
In chapter three of his autobiography (Chapter And Verse) Bernard Sumner describes the destruction of the street he grew up on in Lower Broughton and the displacement and resettlement of family, friends and neighbours to tower blocks and flats.
'Everything had gone, even the school had been pulled down. It was as if someone was actively trying to erase my memories. All the parts you could feel, touch, even smell, they were all gone and would never come back.... I don't think it's a coincidence that this is when I got even more into music, because what happened around that time has really influenced the music I've made. I think that you can hear the death of a community and the death of my adolescence in my contribution to the music of Joy Division'.
With Joy Division the focus is often on Ian Curtis' lyrics (and what they say about his state of mind) but clearly for Bernard the chord progressions and guitar lines had an actual content too, the guitar playing was about something.
This recording of Transmission at Les Bains Douche, from December 1979, is astonishingly good- full of power and energy, Bernard's guitar distorted and furious, Hooky's bass pushing and pulling. Stephen Morris' drumming has to be heard to be believed.
Transmission (Live at Les Bains Douche)
Sunday, 18 January 2015
I found a long forgotten folder on my hard drive, called Adam Music From Laptop- some songs transferred over from a work laptop back in about 2007. Tucked away in it was this song by The Matinee Orchestra. I think I downloaded it from their MySpace page (MySpace!). It's got a bit of Penguin Cafe Orchestra about it, a bit Henri Mancini maybe, a little Belle And Sebastian. Acoustic guitar, skewed trumpets, a sweetly sung vocal. Ice cold lemonade on a sunny day. Sunday morning music.
Run For Cover (It's Going To Rain)
Saturday, 17 January 2015
Harriet Andersson starred in yesterday's cover star Ingmar Bergman's 1953 film Summer With Monika. I saw this still and others from the film and thought, phew, blimey etc.
This has just come out on 12" vinyl, Richard Sen's Songs Of Pressure. Driven by a massive bassline with sound system dub effects all over it. There's an even more dubbed out Asphodells remix on the other side that I posted last year. Richard Sen started out as a graffiti artist, recorded as Padded Cell and Bronx Dogs, djs and remixes, and collects pine cones which he classifies and displays according to size, shape and colour. I may have made that last bit up.
Friday, 16 January 2015
Towards the end of last year I posted a song called Hunters In The Snow by Paresse which went down very well with some of you- a slow moving, atmospheric house track with a throbbing bass, that conjured up images of hunters and snow. Many, many months before I also posted Paresse's The Night before You Came, which was futuristic, quite Bladerunner. I found Paresse's Soundcloud page the other week which doesn't give away much information (Paresse is Ivan Berggren from Stockholm, Sweden) but does have a good number of songs, a couple of remixes and some lengthy radio show mixes. The most recent upload is this one, Phantoms Are Waltzing. It's John Carpenter-esque, but as if Escape From New York had happened in Scandinavia. There are some lovely distorted synth sounds on this.
I'm also taken with this one, Trans Am, still pretty slow with a hint of disco...
Thursday, 15 January 2015
They don't make 'em like Lee Hazlewood anymore do they? That kind of man's man, with his moustache, baritone voice and Western trappings, but with an outsider's edge. A lot of country with a bit of easy listening and some psychedelia, a bit underground but with a pop touch. Sincere but done with a wink. This is a smashing little tune (and a way of life).
Me And The Wine And The City Lights
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
I may have posted this song before, or at least one of its versions (there are a few), but it was a few years back and it bears repeating. Arena II is a song by mid 80s samples, electronics plus instruments band Colourbox. They made a lot of reggae influenced stuff and some BAD style sample-driven instrumentals but this song is a piano ballad. It has factory settings drum machine, some clicky percussion, great big piano chords and a superb vocal. It is a bit proto-house music. It is about love lost. The bottom line- it is a piano ballad.
As I was listening to this song (while trying to type this post) Mrs Swiss came in and said 'what 80s nonsense is this? It is 80s isn't it?' '1985' I replied. I was about to type the words 'I don't think this song sounds thirty years old', but maybe I'd be wrong.
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
If you click here there's a nice re-edit of This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads, done by Patrice Baumel. It won't embed but at the moment it's a free download. It's not that different from the original but it's all stretched out bit, those keys and picked guitars playing off against each other for a few extra minutes at the start and finish. David Byrne's usual lyrical obsessions with paranoia, anxiety, dislocation, wiredness and weirdness were replaced on this song for some actual warmth. Good for jigging about too.
Actually, there's a potentially very good 80s re-edit mixtape in this- the New Order one I posted last week, that stunning re-edit of The Jesus And Mary Chain's Nine Million Rainy Days, the looped reworking of Wah!'s The Story of the Blues and Siouxsie's Peek-a-Boo for starters. Someone should stick them all together in one seamless mix.
Monday, 12 January 2015
There are some teasers and rumours on the internet that The High are about to reform for a tour. The High were a late 80s Manchester band, including ex-Stone Rose Andy Couzens on guitar, who had a couple of minor indie hits and NME Singles of the Week (Box Set Go, Up And Down, classics of their time both), a decent album (Somewhere Soon), and a belting post album single (More...), which got them busted for chart rigging. I saw them live twice, both times they were good. Singer John Matthews became ill they made an ill-advised grunge influenced second album that no-one bought. The end. Until now- apparently there's going to be an announcement today. Like Drew, I often think that re-unions and comebacks are a bad idea. But then I often end up overcoming my cynicism, go along and have a good time.
Up And Down
Sunday, 11 January 2015
You'd have to be really cynical and jaded not to find something to fill your heart, even just a little bit, in this ray of musical sunshine from The Charlatans. So Oh and its parent album Modern Nature are out later on this month. A band reborn.
Saturday, 10 January 2015
There's a risk when a music blog starts commenting on events like the ones we've seen in Paris this week that it just becomes trite or banal or blindingly obvious, so I'll keep it brief and try not to pontificate. It does seem to me though that people who kill cartoonists are so utterly morally bankrupt that they've already lost the battle. What major world religion is so weak, so unsure of itself, so insecure, that it cannot withstand a cartoon?
Julian Cope has got no time for murderous fundamentalists.
All Those Blowing-Themselves-Up Motherfuckers (Will Realise When The Minute They Die That They Were Suckers)
Friday, 9 January 2015
Charlie Feathers is one of the rockabilly greats. This song from the late 50s sounds like it was recorded in a garden shed but the singing rings out loud and clear. Like The Loft and Travis years after him, it's not really a song about the rain but about a girl who done gone and left.
Rain Keeps On Falling
Timothy J Fairplay rises another notch up in the Bagging Area posting rankings with a track from a forthcoming e.p. (Love And Columbium). With electronic/dance music so much of it is about the quality of the sounds, and this one has really good sounds and is really absorbing. Plus, another video to give you sleepless nights.
In his Junior Fairplay guise Tim put 50 handstamped vinyl copies of a four track 12" called How Do You Like Me Now? on Juno last week. Four tracks of electronic heaven. I don't know how many are left but it's a maximum of forty-nine. There are snippets of all four below.
Edit- the 12" records; they've all gone.
Thursday, 8 January 2015
Back in November I posted a demo by The New Southern Electrikk, a memorable cover version of The Gun Club's Mother Of Earth. Quite a lot of you liked it. The band have put a new single out on the internet this week, Brown Eyes, a song of loss written by keys player Rikki Turner (who used to be the Paris Angel's frontman but this group is some distance from indie-dance). Brown Eyes has a 60s soul feel, some girl group dynamics, with its rolling bass, dripping guitar part, and a truly spine tingling vocal from singer Monica Ward. And atmosphere. Plenty of atmosphere.
Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Here's another treat from Greg Wilson's Soundcloud page (brought to you via reader and Boltonite Paul Bob Horrocks). Marina Van-Rooy was a Liverpudlian singer who had not one but two early 90s house classics- Let You Go and Sly One. Greg Wilson has tweaked Sly One a little but not radically. Free dl if you can handle a whopping big WAV file.
Sly One is a seductive, low key number with a chuggy 128 bpm rhythm, a woodblock sound reminiscent of Voodoo Ray and a slinky vocal having a pop at some boy, a sly one. Marina was also in the group Angelpie and I might be mistaken but I think a Lotus Eater was involved somewhere along the line. Marina is pictured wearing a catsuit/chain mail bikini combo down Liverpool docks. I don't remember this look ever catching on but maybe I was looking the wrong way.
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Paul Weller put out a 7" only single for Record Shop Day last year and then got pissed off with the whole thing when scalpers stuck copies up on ebay immediately and said he wouldn't do it again. The song itself was an unholy mash of piano, Small Faces, a dash of Lionel Bart, a touch of Bowie and a borrowed line or two from T-Rex. And rather good.
Brand New Toy
Monday, 5 January 2015
Back to work today, the worst Monday of the year, a proper blue Monday. I'd much rather stay at home and play records. This should lift the spirits- an unofficial eight minute re-edit of New Order's Vanishing Point (off 1989's Technique) by Rich Lane. No vocals but not a second too long either.
Sunday, 4 January 2015
I've read the name of a new group a couple of times in recent days- Real Lies. From North London, the three-piece make 'dreamy electronic dance music that deals in the dirt of real life... a little bit baggy, a little bit Balearic, harking back to New Order's Technique'.
Yeah, right, I thought. So I went to the computer and look, actually it does!
I like this one too, North Circular (songs about roads = a good thing). There's a bit of a Mike Skinner thing in the vocals with some early 90s sounds.
They do all look very young.
I found a remix which has more than a few shades of Underworld in it.
World Peace (Pariah Remix)
Saturday, 3 January 2015
Galang was the first M.I.A. song I heard- I heard it on TV, M.I.A. performing it at a festival. The TV appearance was really good- dramatic and fiery and full of it. The recorded version (off her first album Arular) is pretty good too. You can, if it catches you in the wrong mood, think 'this is just chanting while a drum machine on a laptop and a computer game play at the same time'. But that would be missing the point. This is the sound of new (back then), coming right at you.
Galang came out in 2005 which makes this ten years old. Ten years. Where does the time go? etc. M.I.A. followed it up a couple of years later with Paper Planes which is as good as anything anyone has done in the last decade.
Friday, 2 January 2015
I learnt a new word recently- Apricity (feeling the warmth of the sun in winter). Nice isn't it? The definition and the word itself, a nice word to say.
Moments In Love by Art Of Noise, from 1983, is a musical equivalent of apricity. It has become a standard on those chill out compilations, usually found now cluttering up bargain bins and charity shops, played to death on smooth radio stations, and has been used in countless adverts and films but don't hold that against it.
Moments In Love (Extended Version)
Thursday, 1 January 2015
Good morning- how's your head?
I started this blog five years ago today, January 1st 2010. At that point I didn't know if I had enough to last five weeks or five months, never mind five years. So it is some kind of achievement to still be here five years later, still typing, posting daily. I think it is a bit repetitive sometimes- a round and round blur of Andrew Weatherall, The Clash, certain other serial offenders, and more rockabilly than you can shake a stick at. There are other quicker, easier, more instant ways to do this kind of thing now than via a blog- Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and no doubt other platforms I don't even know about. Blogging seems a bit old fashioned. But it's the writing, the selection of images, the connections to the music, the importance of music, that keeps me doing it. Well, that and the connections I've made. And actually, they're the main thing- the contact, comments, conversations and friends I've made through doing this. Many thanks to all of you who take the time to drop in and make this a two-way, interactive thing. Really, thank you.
Every time I think I've run out of stuff, that I've got nothing else to say, something pops up and suggests itself, so I've got no intention of stopping now, despite being tempted a couple of times. Let's see how much further I can wring this cloth dry. My first ever post was Fowler's End by The Black Balloons, an obscure Andrew Weatherall track. If I remember correctly, I couldn't even get the link to the file to embed. 2015 is kicking off with the opening song off Ziggy Stardust And the Spiders From Mars- one of his best, from the drum intro to the astounding vocal.
Off we go.
Happy new year.