Friday, 30 September 2016
Since the invention of the camera phone (how quaint that sounds) everyone is now a photographer and that's obviously good news which results in some great pictures and the sharing of them. But being a photographer, a professional one, is a special skill that comes down to a bit more than just pointing your iPhone at something funny/beautiful/brilliant and clicking the shutter. Paul Husband is a Mancunian photographer I'm in touch with via social media and very good he is too. On Saturday night he went to a big gig at Victoria Warehouse headlined by Primal Scream with support from Black Grape, Badly Drawn Boy and a whole host of smaller, local bands. I was at my brother's wedding on Saturday night but Paul went and asked me if I wanted to share some of his photos. I'm more than happy to oblige- this one above of Kermit caught my eye. And so did these...
Reviews of the performance have been good, Black Grape reportedly upstaging Bobby Gillespie's group. Here, have a song from their debut album with characteristically great Shaun Ryder lyrics.
In The Name Of The Father
Thursday, 29 September 2016
A couple of weeks ago I posted 808 State and Bjork's Ooops off 1991's Ex:el album. Ctel then posted a recent remix of In Yer Face from the same album so I went back and listened to the whole thing for the first time in ages. 1991 has been all over the internet in the last few days, mainly because September 1991 saw the release of Screamadelica, Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque, Nirvana's Nevermind and A Tribe Called Qwest's Low End Theory amongst others. Not a bad month all things considered. In November My Bloody Valentine put out Loveless. Ex:el came out in May so pre-empted the autumn rush but what a good album it is. Both Bjork songs are superb, In Yer Face is techno heaven, then there's the Bernard Sumner sung Spanish Heart, Cubik, Olympic and the spooky Nefertiti. It also uses the Willy Wonka Gene Wilder sample- 'we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams'. Tucked away inside Ex:el is this, Lift, a wonderful, uplifting, updating of Kraftwerk with rave drums.
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
In the comment box on my Sabres Of Paradise live post on Monday reader and occasional commenter Niv mentioned going to the Herbal Tea Party night's in Manchester, saying that they were the first time he heard David Holmes' remix of Smokebelch and Capricorn's 20Hz, 'Seminal moments in my life!' said Niv and who are we to disagree.
20Hz came out in 1993, the work of Dutch artist Hans Weekhout. It is a massive tribal techno record, melodic too, perfect for strobe lit, dry ice filled dancefloors. Hands in the air.
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Yesterday's Sabres live set led to a reader called KevM asking if any of Weatherall's Blood Sugar sets were online. I think I've got some as mp3s on another hard drive but haven't been able to check but instead I had a look on the net and found this...
If you go here there are several more, all from between 1998 and 2000. Deep and dark, subterranean minimal dub techno. Lots of hiss, echo and flutter. Slow and low. Rhythm and Sound. Head nodding, feet shuffling.
Blood Sugar was also an alias for Weatherall and producer Dave Harrow. They put out a double pack on red and white vinyl called Levels which I have downstairs but don't have a rip of currently. In 1995 a 12" came out where Blood Sugar remixed Soma's Percy X. Breakbeat driven techno.
-3 (Emissions 1)
-3 (Emissions 2)
Monday, 26 September 2016
In 1994 Andrew Weatherall put together a live band version of Sabres Of Paradise who played several sets around the country, Weatherall standing at the back twiddling knobs and smoking while Gary Burns, Jagz Kooner and Phil Mossman dealt with the live bass, keys, guitars and percussion. Until now no recordings of these live sets have existed on the interwebs. Herbal Tea Party have found and uploaded a recording of Sabres Of Paradise playing live in 1994 at one of their nights in Manchester. The motherlode. The first half hour is Andrew Weatherall playing a down tempo, laid back set. Then Sabres join in and work their way through Bubble And Slide II, Tow Truck, Theme and a pounding, bent out of shape Smokebelch. Those of you who are Weatherall/Sabres fans will understand the excitement this recording causes.
Sunday, 25 September 2016
The Aubrey Mixes: The Ultraworld Excursions was a remix album of The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, released in December 1991 and deleted on the same day, offering alternate mixes of seven of the tracks. All work just as well as the original ones, this one in particular being an expansive Sunday morning treat.
Backside Of The Moon (Under Water Deep Space)
Saturday, 24 September 2016
My brother (the next one down from me in age, there are five of us pus two sisters) is getting married today in Manchester Cathedral, the building behind Joy Division in the picture. He lives in the centre of town so it is his local church. Good luck to the pair of you Z and C, may you be very happy together.
Back in 1987 LL Cool J released the single I Need Love. For hip hop loving B Boys like my brother I think this was the moment they parted company with Cool James. Have the intervening twenty nine years been kind to the song?
If you want a much earthier, slinkier and more streetsmart rap love song you could do worse than Method Man and Mary J Blige's 1995 hit I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By, a reworking of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's from 1968. Headnodding beats and Method Man's delivery ('I got mad love to give') matched by Mary J Blige's chorus. Does this still sound good in 2016?
Yes it does.
Friday, 23 September 2016
My diary tells me it is now officially autumn. This Coldcut track remixed by the Irresistible Force and produced by Mixmaster Morris is a wonderful sprawling piece of ambient house (some use the phrase chill out but I can't bring myself to do it). At first it doesn't sound that autumnal but as it unwinds and the vocal comes in, the sense of seasons changing and the sun diminishing becomes overpowering.
Autumn Leaves (Irresistible Force Full Length Mix)
Thursday, 22 September 2016
Back to back Clash.
JC's continuing series of Imaginary Compilation Albums threw up his ten track Clash compilation a good while ago. I did a spin off, alternative version which drew solely from non-single releases and nothing that JC had included in his ICA as a companion piece (which I should have submitted there rather than posted here). Some time later following my B.A.D. ICA at The Vinyl Villain I speculated about a Mick Jones sings The Clash ICA. Driving home recently listening to the extras discs from Sound System I was thinking that The Clash could have several other ICA's- a Clash In Dub ICA, The Clash cover versions ICA, a Sandinista! ICA (controversial maybe, many people feeling like Joe did that the thirty six songs should be left exactly as they are, warts and all). There may be others which just goes to demonstrate the band's quality, range and depth. The whole set could then be compiled in a massive Clash ICA box with trinkets and booklets.
The Sound System Extras pack is three discs, discs one and two covering non album releases and some unreleased bits (see yesterday). The third disc has various demos and finishes with six songs live from The Lyceum in London, December 1979. There are two gloriously spiky runs through City Of The Dead and Jail Guitar Doors, Cheapskates (not the greatest Clash song perhaps), English Civil War and then two absolute smashes. The first, Stay Free, is Mick's love letter to best mate Robin Banks and their time growing up in South London- the breakdown and Paul's bassline re-entry is every bit as good as it should be. The second is their breakneck cover of The Bobby Fuller Four song. Topper's drumming is breathtaking, the guitars squeal and spit, and then there are three way Joe/Mick/Paul vocals on I Fought The Law. On fire.
Stay Free (Live at The Lyceum)
I Fought The Law (Live at The Lyceum)
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
The Clash recorded and released a huge number of songs during their time together. In the space of just two years they put out London Calling (a double) and Sandinista! (a triple), Bankrobber as a single plus B-sides for the album based singles and found time to write and record Ellen Foley's solo album. There really doesn't seem to have been much left gathering dust unreleased and what there was has been bootlegged and compiled since they split. The Clash On Broadway boxed set included Mick's lovely cover of Every Little Bit Hurts and the more recent Sound System included two Combat Rock outtakes- the Beautiful People Are Ugly Too and Idle In Kangaroo Court, neither of which sound like it was a difficult decision to leave them off in the first place. Both boxed sets included the unedited version of Straight To Hell (pretty essential all told). Sound System had a magnificent extended version of Ghetto Defendant with much more Allen Ginsberg than made the final cut on Combat Rock and an extended version of Sean Flynn. The real treasure of the unreleased Clash songs is Midnight To Stevens, a tribute to the maverick dj and producer who created the atmosphere for the recording of London Calling and inspired that album. The song has a great Joe lyric, searching for and finding Guy in a pub coupled with a ringing Mick guitar line. It's heartfelt and true.
Midnight To Stevens
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Denise Johnson, so much more than a backing singer for Primal Scream, the voice of ACR since circa 1990, has a couple of songs on Soundcloud. This one, 2001, has a very cool, after hours Massive Attack feel and is really, really good.
Back in 1994 Denise released a wonderful single, Rays Of The Rising Sun, a lengthy ambient house number. This version remixed by The Joy is a joy.
Monday, 19 September 2016
Back at the start of the year Iggy Pop released what may turn out to be his last album. Eight months later it still sounds like a good record and contains several songs that are as good as anything he's done for ages. It also sounds like a record he wanted to make rather than a contract filler or something to occupy some time. The lead song was Gardenia, opening with a great tremelo guitar part from Josh Homme and then Iggy's baritone voice comes in singing about Gardenia, a stripper he used to love/admire. The sound of the song harks back to Berlin period Iggy, mechanical and with groove. The line about 'America's greatest living poet' comes from a time when Iggy and Allen Ginsberg spent an evening in Gardenia's company, Iggy waiting decades to use this memory in a song.
Sunday, 18 September 2016
We went to see Peter Hook And The Light on Friday night at the Apollo. Some friends had double booked themselves and gave us the tickets gratis. I've taken a purist line about New Order recently, holding the view that New Order without Hooky isn't really New Order. I'm not sure where that leaves me re: Hooky playing without any other members of New Order but he's got as much right to play those songs as anyone- his bass is as much the sound of Joy Division and 80s New Order as any other instrument, maybe more so. It's a massive shame that Hooky and Sumner have got so far apart. I can't help but feel that if Rob Gretton had lived he'd have banged their heads together and sorted them out. But it is what it is and the promise of both the Substance albums played in full and some good reviews was enough to go.
The first half was New Order working forwards through Substance chronologically, the dance influence building from Everything's Gone Green and Temptation through to Bizarre Love Triangle and True Faith. One of the highlights of the gig is seeing Hooky and co performing New Order songs that the original band haven't done live for years- Thieves Like Us and Confusion are superb and The Perfect Kiss is enormous with its extended bass ending. Subculture and State Of The Nation both get welcome airings. First half set closer 1963 is almost better than the recorded version. There's a rawness to this band that stands in contrast to the other group and it's good to see and hear.
After a short break they return for the Joy Division set. Hooky tells us that the first time he played the Apollo was in 1978 supporting Buzzcocks and that the venue seemed a lot bigger then. He seems genuinely moved at the sight of a full house. There's a lot of warmth for him here and a lot of older gig goers willing him on, plus a few youngsters who clearly want to hear Joy Divison songs done live. The Joy Division songs are rough and ready, David Potts' guitar turned up loud and distorted, two basses (Hooky's son on one of them) and Hooky now fully confident on vocals. The vocals on some of New Order's songs are well out of Hooky's range and former Monaco bandmate Potts fills in but Hooky's gravelly voice is ideally suited to the JD material and he sings them like he means it. Inevitably after building a head of dance steam in the first half the tone changes as they work their way through early JD material, songs like No Love Lost, Komakino, Warsaw and Leaders Of Men, with a detour into a frenetic run through These Days. Things really get going again with Transmission and then the intensity of Dead Souls. Everyone knows what the last two songs will be- an emotionally charged Atmosphere (dedicated to the recently departed Alan Wise) and then Love Will Tear Us Apart (dedicated to Ian Curtis, naturally). When the accounts are finally taken, the dust has settled and it's all totted up Love Will Tear Us Apart will surely be this city's anthem and it becomes a full on, audience joining in version. New Order have performed this song for decades now, reclaiming it from the dead back in the 80s. The Light with Hooky singing do it just as well as the current version of NO do. Hooky sings it better too. When the final chords ring out, guitars are dropped to the stage floor and a shirtless Hooky takes the applause before walking off to the dressing room, the crowd carry on the chorus for a minute or two, dragging the band back on stage for another bow. No encore. No need.
Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine Version)
Saturday, 17 September 2016
I found this on Twitter the other night, a list of books by Ian McEwan from the front of an Ian McEwan novel that reads like a poem in its own right. Accidental poetry.
Not really connected at all but the pick of Steve Cobby's 2015 Everliving album for me was Teleseme, a gorgeous, building, string laden tune that sent the listener ever upwards. Last July a remix by Hallo Halo was released which oriented it towards the dancefloor with a hypnotic, springy bassline. Hallo Halo are the legendary Jon da Silva and Jonas Nilsson. Eight minutes of fun.
Friday, 16 September 2016
Since my car was condemned to the scrapyard I've been driving a different car to work. Ok, alright, I've been driving my mother in law's car to work. It has a CD player so I've switched from my in-car mp3 player and the world of shuffle to grabbing some cds from the pile next to the stereo waiting to be filed and working my way through albums instead. One of them is Jamie Xx's remixed version of Gil Scott Heron's I'm New Here, released back in 2011 as We're New Here. Jamie kept the vocals and reworked the music entirely, sampling some of Gil's older vocals too. The closing song, I'll Take Care Of U, an old Brook Benton song, is one of the best and the one that most successfully takes Gil's vocals somewhere else (London pirate radio).
I'll Take Care Of You
Thursday, 15 September 2016
Andrew Weatherall's entered another period of activity with this remix of Craig Bratley's Play The Game coming out later this month. This is a cosmic trip, ten minutes long, with laid back beats, crashing guitar chords and a breathy vocal from Danielle Moore. Gimme more.
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
This font is called Rugby and was used in the mid-to-late 60s for records that had a certain tough psychedelic vibe- The Stooges and Shocking Blue for example- but also turned up on the soundtrack of For A Few Dollars More. In the late 80s Spacemen 3 used it, harking back to those days of lysergic adventure and sonic exploration. Both of those things can be found in spades on their 1993 release Dreamweapon, a three track compilation of live recordings. Side one/track one is a forty five minute drone out recorded live in Hammermsmith in August 1988, titled An Evening Of Contemporary Sitar Music. It goes on a bit never quite reaching a climax but definitely redefining the possibilities of the drone. I'm guessing you will either love it or it will do your head in. Maybe both. The other two tracks were equally self explanatory- Ecstacy In Slow Motion and Spacemen Jam, both from 1987.
Dreamweapon (An Evening Of Contemporary Sitar Music)
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
This is a song for late Saturday night or the early hours at some point of the weekend, somewhere hot and sweaty, rather than a Tuesday morning on the way to work. Rich Lane has done a totally unofficial Cotton Dubs remix of Kelis' Acapella, vocal pitched down and setting the controls to the heart of the chug.
And it seems I have never posted Kelis before- which surprises me because Milkshake is a absolute floorshaker.
Monday, 12 September 2016
The spirit and sound of 80s indie, proper indie mind, seems to be alive and well in this new song from Toy- the guitars are brittle, the vocals remind me of Lawrence from Felt and Pete Astor, all very Creation. Rather good and very catchy too. Even the press shot for the album has been done to look like a cassette inlay. It's got me wondering what happened to my suede jacket.
Sunday, 11 September 2016
Brazil, Olympics, Paralympics, A Certain Ratio, Samba 123, Fila Brazillia remix, Rob's Records, Steve Cobby.
If you type the word Samba into a Google image search this is one of the few nipple and buttock free pictures. Try it. See? Thought I better keep it respectable- this is a family blog after all.
Saturday, 10 September 2016
Earlier this year The Liminanas put out a new album, Malamore, preceded by a Peter Hook bass-led single Garden Of Love. This has now been remixed by Andrew Weatherall into a murky, bleep based excursion with a synth breakdown at four minutes followed by some drama before the bleeps and heavy breathing returns.
Friday, 9 September 2016
More sad news in a year of sad news- Prince Buster, a true legend of Jamaican music from his first release in 1961, has died at the age of 78. Buster's real name was Cecil Campbell and as Madness noted he was born on Orange Street in Kingston. He fell in with Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd's sound system and having learned the ropes moved on to set up his own system, Voice Of The People. This song became one of those Levi's adverts hits which shouldn't detract from either its brilliance or the libidinous lyrics.
Whine And Grine
Thursday, 8 September 2016
Seeing as the sun has decided to make an early September appearance and that this is a song that was also released in 1991 like yesterday's 808 State/Bjork record and just to show that sometimes the simple things really are the best here's a sunny little tune that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Cola Boy were a duo of Andrew Ridgley (not the Wham! one) and Janey Lee Grace (who had sung backing vocals for Wham!). St Etinenne's Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs wrote 7 Ways To Love and recorded it with Sarah Cracknell singing and because it was 1991 stuck it out as a white label (partly because they feared it destroy St Etienne's carefully built up credibility). It sold out and was a big hit in the clubs. Sarah Cracknell was contractually not allowed to sing on non-St Etienne so it was re-recorded with Janey singing it. meanwhile the Cracknell version was bootlegged left, right and centre. Despite the lost sales it sailed into the top ten. It sounds like the summer of 1991- carefree vocals, cheesy keys, wobbly bass and a fantastic rhythm. Two versions, 'cos I love you.
7 Ways To Love (Original Mix)
7 Ways To Love
Wednesday, 7 September 2016
Back in 1991, a quarter of a century ago as I'm getting tired of typing/saying, Bjork made the transition from singer of oddball Icelandic indie band to dance music based solo artist look as simple as could be and this song was all part of it. 808 State's Ex:el album was pretty groundbreaking at a time when dance acts were exploring and expanding the possibilities of the album format. Ooops is an utter delight, weird and otherworldly but still clearly rooted in 808 State's Mancunian house. From the ascending chords in the intro to her vocal, which seems to come in and tickle your ears. 'Ooops alright, I'll come over and pour myself over you, jars of fun, exciting stories, I'll make you forget' she sings. Yup. Graham Massey's woodwind joins in, the drums rattle away, that piano riff comes back and Bjork carries on, gurgling sweet nothings. Strange and accessible, ambient-techno, both moody and upbeat. I think we took it for granted at the time how good this sort of thing was.
The video's worth a look too.
Tuesday, 6 September 2016
The Vinyl Villain's run through of Buzzcocks singles reached Orgasm Addict yesterday. Which made me think of their first album, 1978's Another Music From A Different Kitchen (a title based on a Linder piece of art called Housewives Choosing Their Own Juices In A Different Kichen). The album closed with Pete Shelley's frenetic Moving Away From The Pulsebeat, a Buzzcocks masterclass in Mancunian street urchin punk, with thumping drums, trebly guitar and impassioned vocals. A massive breath of fresh air.
Moving Away From The Pulsebeat
Monday, 5 September 2016
I've enjoyed watching The Get Down, Netflix's series based around the birth of hip hop in The Bronx in 1977. Whenever one of the characters (Dizzee) appeared so did this song, with those crazy Jaki Leibezeit rhythms and Damo Suzuki's vocal refrain. It's off Ege Bamyasi, released in 1972, the album that enabled them to move into a bigger and better studio. At only three minutes thirty three seconds long it doesn't outstay its welcome and leaves me wanting more.
Sunday, 4 September 2016
My car spluttered out of life on Friday morning. I got in it to drive to work, turned the key and it turned the engine over, growled and then died. I thought it was just a battery problem. The men at the garage down the road disagreed, telling me that the timing belt had sheered off causing all manner of problems and damage to the engine. Fixable but expensive, more than the car was worth. The scrapyard would give me fifty quid for it though. Fucking fuck.
On the same day the latest instalment of Andrew Weatherall's monthly radio show for NTS came online. Predictable? Me? Two hours of the usually unexpected treats including two remixes of his own Convenanza songs (by Duncan Gray and Sons Of Slough), for a remix album due out next month. That's your Sunday morning sorted.
Saturday, 3 September 2016
Echo And The Bunnymen sounded like a band with something to prove at The Ritz on Thursday night. The set focused mainly on their early years and Ocean Rain, not once failing to do those songs justice. The opening section of songs like Going Up and All That Jazz is loud and punchy with just the right amount of punky aggression, Will Sergeant riffing at the forefront. A few songs in there is a one-two-three of Angels And Devils, Do It Clean and My Kingdom which if that had all I'd seen, I would have gone home happy. In their pomp the Bunnymen created a marriage of post punk and psychedelic rock and that's what we get tonight, Will peeling off solos and riffs, one of the key post punk guitarists. During some of the instrumental breaks Ian McCulloch stands back gesturing towards his bandmate, fully appreciative of his playing. Mac's voice has survived the years, a little deeper at times and there are some of the higher notes he steps back from, leaving the crowd to fill in, but he is still largely the singer he was thirty years ago, wrapping his tonsils around his Scouse poetry. There's nothing run of the mill about this band tonight, They play like they mean it. The songs are done properly, a little raggedness adding to them and keeping them alive. They're still doing that old Bunnymen trick of breaking into medleys- Do It Clean goes into Sex Machine, later on we get Roadhouse Blues, Walk On The Wild Side and Jean Genie- and then snapping straight back into the original tune. Villiers Terrace is immense, a scabrous tale of trippiness in post punk Liverpool (did I ever tell you I once spent an afternoon trying to find Villiers Terrace? It doesn't exist). The poppier songs are joyous- Lips Like Sugar sounds as good as anything they ever did, Seven Seas shimmers and sways and Bring On The Dancing Horses is a big echo laden treat. Nothing Lasts Forever provides the terrace singalong moment. The Cutter is alive and kicking. Bedbugs And Ballyhoo is all beefed up, hair slicked back and all that jazz. The knack the Bunnymen mastered in the mid 80s was writing songs that were full of romance and drama, reaching a peak on The Killing Moon, introduced to us by Ian as 'the greatest song ever written'. They then go on to do a good job of proving it. The last song of the encore is Ocean Rain, a masterpiece of quiet/loud dynamics, a transporting moment, Mac singing as if he depends on it, needs it. It's 2016, a long time since their heyday. It's true that this isn't the original line up, they can't match what they did with Bill Drummond at the helm, playing strange gigs in Buxton, the Crystal Days, St George's Hall and so on- they were different times. But this is as vital and revitalised a Bunnymen as there has been for some time. If they're playing anywhere near you in the near future, I'd go and see them if I were you.
Silver (Tidal Wave)
Friday, 2 September 2016
This song has been posted fairly recently over at the mammoth 200 songs rundown at When You Can't Remember Anything At All. I'd been meaning to write about it for some time and a little repetition in our part of the blogworld is inevitable I think. Jamie Xx released a single back in 2014 that attempted to summarise and pay homage to the entire history of UK underground dance music. It is inevitably nostalgic but it is also totally contemporary and bang up to date. Using UK garage's beats, some heavy bass and his own trademark steel drum sound Jamie builds a track in love with the music that inspired it. Throughout he uses vocal samples (taken from a short film called Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore) to illustrate it and drive it, starting with 'You like junglist music?', moving on to 'we kept it UK, that's what we're trying to do, we're keeping it going the same way, we're all under one roof raving, laughing and joking, y'know what I mean' and eventually finishing with the voice getting distorted as someone reels off clothing labels 'Fila, Head, Kappa, Ellesse, Lonsdale, Sergio Tachini, Burberry, Diadora...', neatly summarising the longstanding link between British dance music and British street wear. It is a pretty stunning and evocative piece of work, and it wasn't even on the 2015 album In Colour that it clearly predicts.
All Under One Roof Raving
Thursday, 1 September 2016
Well, that's that then. It's September, summer is over, the school year starts again for me today. Back to it. On the plus side my brother got me a ticket to see Echo And The Bunnymen at The Ritz tonight (yes, it's a school night but there you go, life is short, carpe diem etc).
Mac the Mouth said that Ocean Rain was the greatest album ever made. I don't think that's true but there are times when I think it's the greatest Bunnymen album. This different version of the title track, which I have posted before I'm sure, lacks the strings of the final version but is just as good in its own way.
Ocean Rain (Alternative Version)