Saturday, 31 December 2016
Right then, New Year's Eve, an over-rated excuse for an enforced piss up if ever there was one. But staying in watching Jools, waiting for the clock to run down, is no good either.
Like many of you (us, the whinging, metropolitan, liberal elite out to deny the democratic voice of the British people) I won't be too unhappy to see the back of 2016, a downer of a year in many ways. 2017 promises more of the same (in the shape of Trump if nothing else). All we can do is continue to rage against the dying of the light with good music, people we like and trust and a hope that things may get better. To celebrate seeing the back of the year here's some tunes....
Durutti Column first, the combined talents of Vini Reilly and Martin Hannett, and a song to see the winter out- it's getting a bit brighter every day and has been since December 21st. That's something to cheer about.
Sketch For Winter
Some more guitars, this time the squealing, distorted and overloaded kind courtesy of James Williamson and Mr James Osterberg's Stooges. The start of this song is phenomenal, like the engineer pressed the record button a fraction too late but the band went for it anyway.
Search And Destroy (Mono)
Now some proper four-on-the-floor house music from Chicago in 1987. It contains a spoken word section that has some of the best kiss off threats to the other girl ever recorded (see below)
You Used To Hold Me (Kenny Jammin' Jason and Fast Eddie Smith Mix)
It's all about midnight, count it down. There, done.
Peaking Lights with some chilled out midnight dub sounds to ease 2017 in.
And to finish, because all nights should finish with this...
Come Together (Weatherall Mix)
Spoken word section from You Used To Hold Me...
Now honey let me tell you something about my man.
You know he's a good looking sweet lil' thing.
That man knows how to satisfy a woman
You know what I'm talking about?
Girlfriend let me tell you,
He bought me this fur coat
A brand new car and this 24 carat gold diamond ring
Ain't it pretty?
Girfriend you know how it is,
When you got a good man,
You start doin' things like wearing those high heel shoes
And the lace pocket with the garter belt,
And putting on that sweet smellin' seductive perfume.
But you know what?
I'm gonna have to put some lame brain in check honey
Cause she got her locks on my man.
But baby I ain't givin up on this here good thing not for nobody.
Cause what that dorky chick got wouldn't satisfy a cheese stick let alone my baby
She better take her big long haired butt and move on 'cause he's mine all mine
It happens at the end of every year- I get the Piccadilly Records end of year list booklet and end up buying something that I missed which turns out to be a really good listen. This year it's an album that came out back in February, a collaboration between Detroit techno legend Juan Atkins and Berlin techno legend Moritz von Oswald. Transport is eight tracks of modern techno, pitched halfway between the two cities and updating the classic 90s sound for now. It was preceded by this single which had an alternate version of the album's long, repetitive centrepiece.
I'm off to Old Trafford today to see United. I'll see you all later here for the New Year's Eve shenanigans and a bumper post to send 2016 on its way.
Riod (Alternative Version)
Friday, 30 December 2016
Johnny Marr and Billy Duffy were mates from Wythenshawe, south Manchester before either of them got famous. Billy, a few years older, sold Johnny his first amp and gave him a pink shirt stuffed in the back of the amp that Johnny had been pestering him about. Marr formed The Smiths (Duffy having introduced him a couple of years earlier to Morrissey at a Patti Smith gig at the Apollo). Duffy became guitar-slinger in The Cult. The picture above shows the pair reunited in 1990 backstage at a Depeche Mode gig at a baseball stadium in L.A. Electronic were about to play support, despite not having worked out how all the songs went. The pair recorded a cover version of Ennio Morricone's famous spaghetti western theme in 1992 for an NME cassette celebrating the music paper's 40th birthday, the two duelling it out over a drum machine.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
Thursday, 29 December 2016
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
Somehow, inexplicably, I left Timothy J Fairplay off my end of year list last week. Partly because I just forgot and partly because I thought at least one of these releases came out the year before. Confused. These are two songs that have been two big favourites round here this year and should definitely have been in my list. The Cat Prowls Again is a synthy disco number that came out on 7" in the summer on the increasingly essential Hoga Nord label.
A three track ep came out digitally in December 2015 but physically in January 2016. My Etherealrealness has ticky drums and spooky, descending synthlines. The hi-hats and lasers add some 70s sci-fi fizz.
Just when you could do with a post Christmas lull we have a large family party this afternoon and an invite to a second bash this evening, a housewarming described as a Moving Gin party. Wish us luck.
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
Sunday, 25 December 2016
Saturday, 24 December 2016
Christmas Eve- where did that come from? Crept up slowly and suddenly it's the main event. A few years ago Johnny Marr gave this away from his website for free- Free Christmas. It doesn't seem to be there anymore so I'll share it here, a largely instrumental present for yuletide with a nice baritone guitar line running through it. See you in a few days. Have a wonderful Christmas- wherever you are, whoever you're with and whatever you're doing.
Friday, 23 December 2016
I've posted this song almost every Christmas since the blog began and its definitely worth another go. Low's Just Like Christmas with sleigh bells on and everything. It's pretty much perfect, especially because of the pay off in the lyric...
'But you were wrong
It wasn't like Christmas at all'
Just Like Christmas
Just before Christmas, bringing glad tidings to all, a new Weatherall remix. This time it's Justin Robertson's Deadstock 33s project getting the reworking, ahead of an album of remixes of tracks from his 2015 Everything Is Turbulence lp. This has a vintage drum machine rhythm, is pretty industrial and has Sofia (Mrs Robertson) on vocals.
A little while back JC at The Vinyl Villain posted my Andrew Weatherall Imaginary Compilation Album, a twenty track rummage through Weatherall's back catalogue. Inspired by my post (!) Andy Hickford has put together an hour long mix in tribute to the early years, remixes of Saint Etienne through to My Bloody Valentine with Primal Scream, One Dove, New Order, Happy Mondays and The Grid in between.
Thursday, 22 December 2016
Joe Strummer died on 22nd December 2002 and I've got into the habit of marking it here. God only knows what he'd have made of the events of 2016 but his famous quote that gives this post its title is as relevant as ever.
I finish work today for the Christmas holiday and I cannot remember ever feeling so tired. I'll be raising a glass to Joe's memory tonight. This song from Global A Go Go typifies Joe's multicultural look at the world and his joy in other cultures.
His bandmate and friend Paul Simonon turned 61 on the 15th of December so happy belated birthday to him too.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Ok, I give in. Here's a Christmas post. What was your office party like?
I haven't posted any Billy Childish for ages and his take on Christmas in the late 70s is wonderfully jaundiced. Green vinyl, 7". Of course.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
We went for a walk on Sunday, up the canal and round the water-park, across Chorlton Ees, stopping for a pint on Chorlton Green and then back through the floodplain towards Ashton village. These places might not mean anything to you but they are green land around the Bridgewater Canal and River Mersey in south Manchester, rural feeling but with motorway, Metrolink and roads audible, and fairly full of strollers, dog walkers, cyclists and so on. On the walk, back towards Stretford cemetery there had been an enormous amount of fly tipping going on. And while I can't condone this kind of large scale littering it provides some interesting subject matter for photographs. Other people on the walk took pictures of their kids in Christmas jumpers. When we compared the photos on our phones at the end of the walk my view of the afternoon was a little bit gloomier. This shot in the tunnel under Washway Road that looks like it's from A Clockwork Orange.
Back in 2012 Four Tet and Jamie Xx remixed each other. This is an unsettling, disjointed and uneasy piece of work although the synths bring a certain kind of warmth..
Lion (Jamie Xx Remix)
Monday, 19 December 2016
Monday morning techno- the last Monday before Christmas techno too. Very festive.
Carl Craig's 1995 album Landcruising is a Detroit masterpiece, a sleek glide around the city at night with machine beats and glacial synths. In 2005 Carl revisited it and tinkered, updating it and then re-releasing it as The Album Formerly Known As... As you can imagine some of the techno purists were aghast. Carl said that 'some parts were dated so I wanted to make it again removing the dated parts and enlarging the good parts.' Technology and software goes through changes and when out djing he found some tracks jarred when played next to more modern sounds. Largely it comes down to taste but ten years on from the remake both versions sound great to these ears.
This one is absurdly good, the bass thumping from the start. Even if you think you don't like techno, you should let this one work its magic and hypnotise you.
Mind Of A Machine (2006 version)
Sunday, 18 December 2016
I followed a link on Twitter the other night to Fact Magazine's 20 Best House And Techno Records of 2016 and started digging. I haven't got through them all yet but am having fun delving. The fact that I knew hadn't heard of pretty much any of them and knew almost nothing about any of them was-
a) a bit over-facing
b) a bit daunting and
c) proof that I'm well out of touch. But
d) shows that end of year lists have a useful purpose.
This one is really good. Released back in May on Where To Now? Records it starts with a echo-laden woman's voice and then a crisp beat. Icy waves of synth come in and some buzzes and beeps, layers of recorded noise with the rhythm becoming more complex. The narration continues intermittently but I'm never being quite able to make out what she's talking about. The moans five minutes in start to clear things up. BBC Radiophonic Workshop gone laptop techno. Lovely stuff.
Machine Woman (Anastasia Vtorova) was born in Leningrad, raised in Nottingham and now lives in Berlin (this song is very Berlin).
Saturday, 17 December 2016
I saw a thing on social media recently which said 'nobody cares about your end of year review'. Possibly true. But it's a blogging tradition and so here it is.
2016 has been a wretched year in so many ways but there's been a real glut of good music from start to finish, from Bowie's astonishing and difficult to listen to Blackstar (and death) in January through to the very recent album from A Tribe Called Quest (also marked by the death of one of its makers, Phife Dawg).
Albums Of The Year
All of these have spent time on the Bagging Area turntable and/or car stereo...
David Bowie 'Blackstar'// Andrew Weatherall 'Convenanza'// Dinosaur Jr 'Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not'// Unloved 'Guilt Of Love'//Aphex Twin 'Cheetah'// A Tribe Called Quest 'We Got It From Here...'//Beyonce 'Lemonade'//Tim Burgess and Peter Gordon 'Same Language, Different Worlds'//Toy 'Clear Shot'//Underworld 'Barbara Barbara We Face A Shining Future'//Echolocation 'Empire Blood And Bones'//Sordid Sound System 'Lux Exterior'//Cavern Of Anti- Matter 'Void Beats'// Steve Mason 'Meet The Humans'//Frank Ocean 'Blonde'// Baltic Fleet 'The Dear One'//Pete Astor 'Spilt Milk'//Cobby and Porky 'Cities Below Future Seas// and the much played round here swansong from Iggy Pop 'Post Pop Depression'
As well as all of these the three that have given me the most repeated joy are...
Woodleigh Research Facility 'The Phoenix Suburbs (And Other Stories)
Beyond the Wizards Sleeve 'The Soft Bounce'
Factory Floor '25 25'
But the most jawdropping album has been a compilation which included new recordings along with old, mixed together perfectly, making something new that was a meditation on life, love, loss and death, and that is David Holmes' Late Night Tales. So that's my album of the year.
As a sampler for those that haven't heard it it opened with Barry Woolnough's tribute to his wife who died of cancer, a 7" single on Moine Dubh...
This is Song Sung's spooked out cover of 10cc's I'm Not In Love (not a song I previously particularly liked but this is just wonderful)
And this was a one take vocal performance by BP Fallon to his friend Henry McCullough (a pair of Weatherall remixes are due next year).
E.P. Of The Year
Hardway Bros (Sean Johnston) released a four track e.p. in the early summer and I can't think of three songs that have sounded any better on one piece of vinyl than Pleasure Cry, My PNO and especially Argonaut. The sound of my summer. Still doing it in December too.
Songs Of The Year
Drew's songs of the year from last Saturday crosses over with mine in many ways- our 2016 Venn diagram has a big overlapping section. Here are 24 songs from 2016. No rankings, think of this list as a suggestion of the order in which these songs could be played...
Steve Cobby and Rich Arthurs 'Bushfarmer'
Cobby and Mallinder 'Tumblefish'
Primal Scream '100% Or Nothing Dub (Bobby Selassie And Primal Jah)
David Bowie 'I Can't Give Everything Away'
Pete Astor 'Really Something'
Paprika Kinski 'Kids Of Your Crime'
Iggy Pop 'Gardenia'
The Hurt 'Berlin'
Unloved 'When A Woman Is Around'
The Liminanas ft Peter Hook 'Garden Of Love' (Lundi Mouille Mix)
Warpaint 'New Song'
Woodleigh Research Facility 'Taqiya'
Massive Attack 'Ritual Spirit'
Andrew Weatherall 'The Confidence Man'
The Xx 'On Hold'
Beyonce 'Hold Up'
Beyond the Wizards Sleeve 'Diagram Girl' (BTWS Re-Animation)
Craig Bratley ft Danielle Moore 'Play The Game' (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
Circle Sky 'Reveal'
Daniel Avery 'A Mechanical Sky'
Death In Vegas 'You Disco I Freak'
Andrew Weatherall 'Ghosts Again' (Scott Fraser Ghosts In The Piano Mix)
Hardway Bros 'Argonaut'
Friday, 16 December 2016
A new Jesus And Mary Chain single came out last week, the first in eighteen years it is claimed. This ignores All Things Must Pass which came out in 2010 and was on a Best Of... (which in the internet age almost counts as a single). It also ignored the fact that the new single, Amputation, is a re-recording with a new name of a Jim Reid solo single from 2006. Here it is...
Dead End Kids
I liked Dead End Kids, bought it on cd single and thought it was a decent song. A typical Jim Reid three chord riff and a typically Jim Reid lyric- 'It's wine today, it's piss tomorrow', 'fucked up girls like fucked up boys', 'I'm a rock 'n' roll amputation'. The new version has some squally feedback at the start and reverb covered vox, a dirty guitar part on the chorus. But this release should have been a genuinely new song instead of a shrug and a sense of disappointment (which is what I felt). It's not an All For One level disappointment. A milder disappointment. Ah well, hey ho. Still, tickets for the tour in March are on sale and they were very good when they toured Psychocandy two years ago.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
The Vinyl Villain has been hosting a long running series where different contributors suggest a ten track Imaginary Compilation Album for an artist or band, running the gamut from The Smiths to Massive Attack, from Durutti Column to Captain Beefheart. Now totalling over one hundred posts I finally pulled my finger out and wrote an Andrew Weatherall ICA. I cheated- it's a double disc compilation. You can read it here.
This One Dove song didn't make the cut but probably should have.
White Love (Guitar Paradise Mix)
A third song to go alongside West Bam and West India Company- I'll stop after this, it's getting a bit tenuous. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band were from Los Angeles and made psychedelic rock. Shifting Sands came out in 1967, a B-side. There are some lovely distorted guitars on this and a folky vocal. And it was just as forward thinking at the time as Tuesday and Wednesday's 'West' records were I guess.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
This is the tune I was looking for before getting distracted by West India Company, a 1990 offering from German DJ West Bam (Maximillian Lenz). Offering doesn't really do this speaker shaking 12" justice. It's a slap in the face and a shiver down the spine with a juddering riff (sampled from Gang Of Four apparently and then borrowed from this by Weatherall for his legendary My Bloody Valentine remix) and a Tutonic breakbeat. Wakey wakey!
In 2013 West Bam released a new album which had this song on it, She Wants, with vocals by Bernhard Sumner (sic) and a slightly disturbing, NSFW video. If last year's new New Order album had been more like this, I'd have liked it more.
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Here's another 'I was looking for that but then I found this' post. I was looking for an mp3 of West Bam's Alarm Clock and couldn't find it so did a search for 'West' and this came up- West India Company's O Je Suis Seul (remixed in 1989 by Andrew Weatherall and on the flipside by Weatherall with Alex Paterson). I wasn't intending to do another Weatherall related post so soon after the previous one but it's a go-with-the-flow time of year right now.
West India Company were an interesting mix of people, including Vince Clarke (from Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure, above left), Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe (from Blancmange, above centre and right respectively) and the legendary Indian singer Asha Bhosle, and they set about making synth pop with Indian rhythms and instruments in the mid 80s. By '89 they were heading housewards. Weatherall and Paterson lived in neighbouring flats in Battersea and presumably they crossed paths somewhere. The Bhagwan Boogie Mix is a chuggy ambient house tune, peppered with Indian percussion and has an appearance of that 'Yep, I know that feeling' sample which Weatherall would re-use on Screamadelica. The Orient Express Mix is a bit more abstract and disembodied, more Orb-like in fact.
O Je Suis Seul (Baghwan Boogie Mix)
O Je Suis Seul (Orient Express Mix)
Monday, 12 December 2016
I was flicking through my records on Saturday looking for something else when I found what I wasn't looking for but pulled it out and played it anyway- Hootenanny, the second album by The Replacements. Hootenanny is a halfway house, a stepping stone from the breakneck punk of their early years to the slightly more considered sound of Let It Be and Tim. Hootenanny is still ragged, a bit of a mess in places with some songs that sound tossed off for a laugh but it also has the first of what would become Paul Westerberg's signature aching, yearning guitar songs. Within Your Reach is just Westerberg too with a drum machine, flanged guitar and a trademark romantic lyric.
Within Your Reach
Sunday, 11 December 2016
Watching Martin Scorcese's Bob Dylan documentary on Friday night was a bolt from the blue. I'd seen it before but not for a long time and it's ages since I've properly listened to any Dylan. There doesn't seem much doubt to me that he completely changed the form of popular music in the early 60s and carried on doing so through to late 60s, more so (single-handedly) than anyone else- the words mainly (but not only) and what a song could be about, the fusing of street poetry and beat poetry to firstly folk music and then to rock music (for want of a better term). He set the standards and in 1965 and 1966 he looked sharp as fuck too (which is not the only thing but is important). This song was recorded live in April 1963 at New York Town Hall but not released until the strangely compiled Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume II in 1971. I've loved it since I first heard it sometime in the late 80s.
Tomorrow Is A Long Time
It sure is.
Saturday, 10 December 2016
Today involves all manner of Christmas stuff. But first, to ease the pain, some dub. The Legendary Skatalites In Dub is exactly that- the horns of ska with the dub basslines and rhythms of King Tubby. This one is a perfect example and why you should get a copy of this album if you don't have one already.
Friday, 9 December 2016
Back at the start of the year Andrew Weatherall- him again- released two albums, one under his own name (Convenanza) and one with Nina Walsh as the Woodleigh Research Facility. The WRF album, The Phoenix Suburb And Other Stories, is eight tracks of dubby instrumentals and is continuing to reveal is pleasures nearly a year on. About a year ago the good people at Rotters Golf Club sent out an mp3 to everyone who'd subscribed to the Moine Dubh singles club by way of apology for a delay in pressing the first 7". This was it.
Thursday, 8 December 2016
There's a lot of Teenage Fanclub on the internet right now and in real life (they're touring). They've become very... comfy. Heartwarming. Fair play to 'em. The songs off Bandwagonesque still do it for me, there's a bit more crunch and distortion about them. The album sounds like a group on the rise, in a fruitful period where the songs just poured out of them.
I'm a Taurean by the way. Reliable, practical, sensual and independent it says on the web, with an eye for beauty and good with money (ha! My wife would disagree about that last one). Also lazy, stubborn and materialistic. Like, whatever.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones, the duo that were/are Balearic heroes A Man Called Adam, have been recording more recently as Discrete Machines using iPads and mini-controllers and an improvisational approach. A mini-album came out in 2015 and opened with this wonderful seven minute tribute to the ladies of electronica (Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and Pauline Oliveros) set to an Afrobeat. There's something about this which is totally entrancing. The rest of the album is equally good, inventive and fresh, minimal and loungey, a bit of krautrock, some poetry- definitely from over there, outside the mainstream. It includes a song called Stockhausen's Cardigan which is reason enough to give it a go. You can buy it here.
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Unique 3 were from Bradford. This 1989 single was a massive club record, north and south. It also shows just how strange and abstract late 80s dance music could be and how far it could confuse people. Aspects of it, the buzzing bass and the drums, are made to be blasted through speakers to get people dancing. But there's nothing conventional about it, the structure and those bleeps that run all the way through are from some other place entirely.
The Theme (Original Chill Mix)
Monday, 5 December 2016
In the early 80s Factory signed lots of bands who sounded very Factory. Many of them struggled to escape from the long shadow cast by Joy Division and New Order. Occasionally someone would produce something that stepped forward from those shadows. Section 25's Looking From A Hilltop, from 1984, is one of those records. The single release had this version on the B-side, produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson from ACR, it is years ahead of itself. A pulsing bassline, percussion and drum machine way up front, with layers of synths, guitars and noises and hard to hear vocals. It is one of Factory's most startling moments and despite being eight minutes long it never feels like it. Various underground djs and left of the dial radio stations in the States picked up on it pushing it further onwards. From Blackpool too. Kiss me quick.
Looking From A Hilltop (Megamix)
Sunday, 4 December 2016
One of the things music blogs are for is going deeper and further, plucking out the out of print, the lost and forgotten, the obscure b-sides and alternate takes. Today I've got two Big Audio Dynamite B-sides for no reason other than I was scrolling through a folder and the first one caught my eye. Mainly because looking at the track name I couldn't place it at all.
The spirit of forward momentum and trying new ideas, new sounds and new technologies that led Mick Jones through The Clash and then into Big Audio Dynamite is in full effect on In Full Effect. It was on the Contact 12", the single that promoted 1989's Megatop Phoenix, an album that married B.A.D.'s guitars, choruses and samples with acid house. In Full Effect is a seven minute instrumental credited to Mick and Greg and shows they could do a pretty convincing version of what was then the new thing.
In Full Effect
Three years earlier V Thirteen had a similarly dance floor bound B-side, this time soaking up electro and giving it a B.A.D. spin.
Hollywood Boulevard (Dub Mix)
Saturday, 3 December 2016
San Diego's Crocodiles are always worth a listen. They put out their sixth album back in October which somehow I missed and have just been discovering recently. The fuzzed up, sleazy psych sound of their previous records has been replaced by something sunnier on Dreamless, especially so on the single Telepathic Lover which sounds a lot like late 80s New Order to the Bagging Area ears. Across the album as a whole here's some spreading of wings (winged crocodiles would be fearsome) and they sound like a band energised and loosened up by experimenting, synths and piano are all over this as well as the usual guitars, even though the lyrics remain pretty weighed down by life and experience.
Friday, 2 December 2016
Some records grow in reputation over the years, even the ones that are raved about on release. DJ Shadow's Entroducing... is one of them. I listened to it loads in the months and years after its release but haven't played it end to end for years. It is a monument to one man's obsession (record collecting, obscure samples, building an album by using pretty much nothing but an Akai MPC60, a Technics SL-1200 turntbale and a tape recorder) and has probably become a bit of a millstone around its creators neck. I listened to it again recently, after Ctel posted a remix of Midnight In A Perfect World, and said he wasn't such a big fan of it. On this occasion I have to disagree (and Ctel is often right in these things). I can't find any reason to suggest that it is anything other than a stunningly inventive piece of work. Midnight... is based around a sampled drum beat and a David Axelrod piano sample and doesn't sound twenty years old at all. When the album finishes it almost forces you to turn it over and start again.
Midnight In A Perfect World
Thursday, 1 December 2016
Le's start December with something new. New to me anyway. A friend passed this to me earlier this week, a Canadian duo called Bob Moses. Tom and Jimmy met at school and started making music, trying Californian punk and grunge before heading into a deeper electronic groove. This song has an Xx feel, the pitter-patter of drums, minimal waves of synth, a pulsing bassline and some easy-does-it vocals. The breakdown and re-entry at just after six minutes goes into club territory and I like it very much. From an e.p. called Far From The Tree.