Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Big Rock Candy Mountain


There was a time (1986-1987) when indie guitar records wanted to sound something like this one (or a version of it). Sounding like The Smiths was tricky- Johnny Marr could do things the majority of guitarists couldn't and Morrissey's way with words was pretty unique too. But three chords, a fuzz pedal, bass and drums and some 60s style songwriting was achievable. The Motorcycle Boy were from Edinburgh and made up of Alex from The Shop Assistants and three former members of Meat Whiplash (Paul, Michael and Eddy) plus David Scott on guitar. This song was their debut, out on Rough Trade, and very good it is too. Sadly they then followed a trajectory familiar to a lot of independent groups from those years- NME front cover, indie chart hit, sign to a major, game over.

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Friday, 21 July 2017

Arabian Filter


Something hot and sultry for your Friday morning in the shape of a Mojo Filter edit of Siouxsie And The Banshees' Arabian Knights. The original version was a single from the album Juju, released in 1981. This is a dance floor reworking, with groove and space and Siouxsie's vocals a little distanced. It should function equally well in your kitchen when you open the gin/wine tonight. Free download too.




Thursday, 20 July 2017

Something's Got A Hold On Me


This song was released thirty years ago today. Let's not get hung up on its age or the passing of time but celebrate a band in their absolute pomp releasing records that changed the world you lived in. New Order come in after the titles and thirty seconds of Gary Davies...



And because the video was pretty significant too...




The Names Have Been Changed To Protect The Innocent


In 1987 and 1988 the art of making records from samples of other people's records went overground. Following M/A/R/R/S's chart topper Pump Up The Volume in 1987 Tim Simenon's one man band Bomb The Bass went to number 2 in the UK (using some of the same samples). Beat Dis borrowed from a multitude of sources, some 80s hip hop- Public Enemy, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, EPMD, Schoolly D- and also from other sources- James Brown, Bar-Kays, Indeep, Prince, Hashim, Aretha Franklin, Jayne Mansfield and various TV programmes, notably Thunderbirds and Dragnet. It was inventive, exciting and new, making something fresh and new from familiar (and unfamiliar) sounds. A year later S'Express pulled off a similar trick. Unbelievably I haven't posted anything by Bomb The Bass in the seven and a half years before this post.

Beat Dis (Extended Dis)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Various Artists


Twenty five years old recently Warp's Artificial Intelligence compilation was a deliberate attempt to make a dance music compilation that wasn't for dancing to but for listening to at home. It also led to the creation of IDM, a term I still find a bit mystifying and pointless. This is machine music, techno and ambient combining, with groove and melody. The list of artists is second to none, a double vinyl example of Warp's finger being firmly on the robotic pulse in 1992- Autechre, Speedy J, B12, Richie Hawtin (as UP!), Black Dog (as I.A.O.) and Aphex Twin stand out.

The opening track came from the magic hands and brain of Richard D. James- calling himself The Dice Man with a track called Polygon Window (he'd soon go on to release as Polygon Window just to check people were keeping up ). Even among the high quality of the various artists work on A.I. and his own back catalogue at this point Polygon Window stands out, fizzing and buzzing with ideas and invention. What's more, you could dance to this if the mood took you.

Polygon Window


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Josephine


I first heard this last week at Echorich's place and have been coming back to it daily since then- a new song from Mick Head, formerly of Shack, The Pale Fountains and The Strands. Michael's new group is The Red Elastic Band and they've got an album ready to release in the autumn, his first for a decade. Mick knows his way around a tune and this one is a lilting, folk-influenced thing, with harmonies and hooks to spare. The video is made up to archive footage of Liverpool in the early-to-mid 1960s and is a treat too.




Monday, 17 July 2017

Journey To Cassiopeia



This is an interesting and dramatic way to start the week. Hannah Peel has an album out soon based around an exploration of space travel and 'one person's journey to outer space, recounting the story of an unknown, elderly, pioneering, electronic musical stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced home in the mining town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to see Cassiopeia for herself'

Musically it combines analogue synths, found sounds, the sound of brass players breathing and spitting, Hannah's voice and a colliery band. If the track below, Sunrise Through the Dusty Nebula, is anything to go by it promises to be very good indeed. This is moving and inventive music, a colliery band with one foot deep underground and one in deep space.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Both Ends Fixed


This long instrumental piece from Pan American should be just right for your Sunday morning. It is for mine. It is contemplative and has a tendency to make time disappear. Tea and toast and tunes.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Touched By The Hand Of...


...Cicciolina, Cicciolina.

In May 1990 Pop Will Eat Itself released a single just ahead of the Italia 90 World Cup. PWEI intended it as an alternative World Cup theme and let's face it, given how corrupt FIFA is/was, no one would really have batted an eyelid at a dance single by a West Midlands grebo band fronted by an Italian porn star turned politician. Plus, as a song, it's massively good fun. House pianos. Dub bassline. Horns. Fans chanting. Commentary.

Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina (Extra Time Mix)

Rich Lane has recently done a Cotton Dub re-edit of it, updating it for 2017 in fine style. No download unfortunately but again, massively good fun.






Friday, 14 July 2017

Some Bread And Cheese And Fine White Wine


Same city as yesterday's post but two decades later, Sharevari is widely credited with being the first Detroit techno record. Named after the Charevari parties and made by A Number Of Names (a three piece plus any number of friends) Sharevari was played on a local radio show and gathered momentum from thereon. In 1981. Yep, 1981. This footage came my way yesterday on Twitter, the crowd dancing to Sharevari at The Scene in Detroit in 1982.



Relentless, robotic rhythm, chanted vocals and a throbbing non-stop synthline. I don't know if Sharevari is the first techno record- there are always people who'll claim there was another from a year earlier- but it is without doubt a very forward thinking and pioneering record.

Sharevari

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Various Artists




There's a good chance that if you grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, at some point, having heard a Motown song via your parent's record collection, the telly, a youth club disco or through a film, you bought one of these Motown compilations. You've probably got some of them and their companions in your house. Our parents generation bought the singles. We bought these bumper albums, stacked with up to twenty songs, as many as the grooves could take and still be audible. The cd boom of the 1990s saw the Chartbusters series released on shiny digital disc, often knocked down to a quid or two in HMV. Pound for pound some of the best purchases you could make.

We all like to find the songs hidden away in the corners- the B-sides, the remixes, the album tracks, the ones that only we know about. With Motown it's all about the hits. And a bumper Motown Various Artist compilations post means a bumper song selection today; The Supremes, The Four Tops and The Temptations.

Automatically Sunshine

I Can't Help Myself 

Cloud Nine

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Hall Of Mirrors


Oh look! More new Andrew Weatherall remixes. Two of them, this time reworking London band The Early Years, makers of experimental, drone, motorik music using guitars and synths. I've posted them before. Weatherall turns in a pair of remixes, each one long and expansive, with melodies and noises and machine rhythms. The first one is lighter, hypnotic and more playful, the second darker and foreboding but with a nice piano break to let some daylight in.

Elsewhere on the ep Andy Bell of Ride and XAM get stuck in. It's out now, four track vinyl at your usual vinyl emporium or download at Sonic Cathedral. All four remixes are on the player below.




Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Eventually


Every six months or so I feel the need for some Jimi Hendrix. People are making a lot out of various records from 1967 being fifty years old this year and some of them sound fifty years old in a way, but Jimi's stuff doesn't. In 1967 The Jimi Hendrix experience released two albums, the debut Are You Experienced and then a follow up Axis: Bold As Love. Axis is a step on from the burning hot debut, an exploration of sound and the studio, of Jimi's development as a writer and of psychedelia. Many of the songs on Axis have a confidence to unfold more slowly, to unwind a little. Castles Made Of Sand has long been a favourite of mine- a backwards guitar part, a lazy guitar riff, a laid back groove and Jimi's vocals about impermanence and all things being temporary.

'And so castles made of sand
Fall to the sea
Eventually'

Castles Made Of Sand

Monday, 10 July 2017

No Tune


Andrew Weatherall uses The 'No' Tune by Cowboys International, a stylish guitar-led instrumental from 1979, to open his Music's Not For Everyone radio shows. That guitar line can get stuck in your head for some time. It's been going round mine since the end of last week.

Cowboys International were a post punk band, synths and guitars, who released one influential album (The Original Sin, 1979) and some singles and split up in 1980. Cowboys International are notable not just for the album but for the members who passed through the ranks. Founder member Ken Lockie started the band with Keith Levene. Former Clash man Terry Chimes/Tory Crimes played the drums. They were joined at different times by former members of Ultravox, Adam And The Ants, The Banned and Boney M. Yes, that Boney M.

The 'No' Tune

Sunday, 9 July 2017

586


This is a New Order rarity which a friend posted on social media recently which I had forgotten about- I don't have a decent quality rip so there's just the video...



In 1982 Tony Wilson asked New Order for twenty minutes of 'pap' to be played at the opening night of the Hacienda (May 21st 1982). Bernard and Stephen went away and got stuck into the drum machine and synths and came up with this which became known as Prime 5 8 6 (or Video 5 8 6). It is twenty minutes of pulsing rhythm and synthesizers, significant mainly because parts of it later became the version of 5 8 6 on Power, Corruption And Lies, Ultraviolence (off the same album) and Blue Monday (you don't need me to tell you anything about Blue Monday). The band gave it to Touch Magazine who put it out in two parts on cassette in 1982 and then on cd in 1997.

In the picture, a stunning shot of Gillian Gilbert on stage in Brussels, April 1982.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

July's Not For Everyone


No sooner have I listened to the monthly Music's Not For Everyone, re-listened to it, sought out various songs and then spent some money than Weatherall's back with another edition and the whole cycle begins again.



Contains the following- King Tubby, Jon Hopkins, John Foxx, The Flaming Stars, new Woodleigh Research Facility, Maximum Joy, Odeon and Benni. And much more besides.

Friday, 7 July 2017

I Think You're Moving Too Fast


A bit of a change of pace and style for Friday but this is one of the best songs of 1990s and if you disagree you're residing somewhere in the land of wrong. TLC's 1994 song Waterfalls was released as a single in the UK on the day I got married (August 5th 1995) and was a smash around the world. Lyrically it is a cautionary tale of AIDs/HIV, promiscuity, contraception and the drugs trade. Sonically it is like being covered in treacle, golden harmonies from honeyed voices, a crisp kick drum and some bass.

Waterfalls

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Various Artists


I'll try to delve a little further than early 90s dance music compilations at some point but it is the various artists groove I am currently in for this series. Cafe del Mar, a series of albums named after the famous bar in San Antonio, Ibiza, gave birth to that most derided of genres, chill out. The compilation album series runs all the way up to Volume Twenty (released in 2014) but chill had eaten itself long before then.

The first album is a genuinely great compilation, on double vinyl, a round up of songs to listen to as the sun sinks into the Med and as the drugs begin to kick in, compiled by the legendary Jose Padilla himself. The tracklist for Volumen Uno has several tunes I'd take anywhere, among them Penguin Cafe Orchestra's Music For A Found Harmonium, William Orbit's The Story Of Light, Underworld's long builder Second Hand, A Man Called Adam's wonderfully up Estelle and the skyscraping Beatless Mix of Smokebelch II by Sabres Of Paradise. Plus these two, first up a dubby version of Song Of Life...

Fanfare Of Life

And this one, the closer by Tabula Rasa. Not so much a song, more a feeling.

Sunset At The Cafe Del Mar

I have never watched the sunset at the Cafe del Mar. One day it'll happen...


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Mirror's Edge


Moon Duo have released a pair of albums this year that are still very close to my record player- Occult Architecture Volume's 1 and 2. The idea is that they represent light and shade. Put together they make up a pretty stunning double. In among the motorik rhythms, two chord fuzz and woozy psyche there is this gorgeous instrumental where over a shuffly drumbeat and a shaker Ripley Johnson plays some dripping, fluid, molten guitar, some wah wah here and there, like a controlled Hendrix on E. Both records are worth your time and money.

Mirror's Edge

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Lichen


It is a truth universally acknowledged, as Jane Austen never said, that Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 isn't a patch on Volume 1. It's difficult admittedly to gauge what Jane Austen might have made of Aphex Twin- he is entirely outside her cultural frames of reference and doesn't wear breeches. However it is also a truth that every Aphex Twin album contains at least one moment of genius (and I don't chuck the word genius around very often). The moment of beauty genius on Selected Ambient Works 2 is this...

Untitled 20 (Lichen)

As an album Selected Ambient Works 2 seems to take delight in being even more obtuse than usual. The songs, twenty four of them on the cd edition and one more on the vinyl, are all called Untitled except for track thirteen, Blue Calx. Each track had a corresponding image. Track 20's corresponding image is Lichen. The gently ascending synth chords, slightly wobbling at the edge of distortion, the ever so slighty downbeat turn at just after two minutes, the return of the ascending chords with some crackle, to the fade out are all fucking magical.

Monday, 3 July 2017

BAD Birthday


Mick Jones turned 62 years old last week so this is a belated happy birthday from me. The photo was taken for a music press interview (either NME or Melody Maker) c.1989, after Mick had recovered from a life threatening bout of pneumonia. Those Stussy bucket hats were highly sought after around this time (and still are today).

Mick was on a roll around this time, despite slipping out of fashion, with Megatop Phoenix coming out in 1990, a hit single with Roddy Frame and The Clash hitting number 1 on the back of the Levi's advert. BAD II's Rush was on the B-side, a good Mick song and one of the best the second line up recorded. It was a decision which go down very well with Joe and Paul apparently.




This song was the B-side to the E=mc2 single from a few years earlier..

This Is Big Audio Dynamite

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Into The Woods



This is a treat, an hour long mix Nancy Noise has done for an upcoming festival put on by Boy's Own. Nancy will be playing along with Terry Farley, Omar S and a bunch of other Balearic names. This is a summery, up, good vibes mix with some latin, some Frenchness, some afro and plenty of bounce. As a bonus you can download it for free too.



Tracklist...

1.  Jeff Kite - Timelapse
2.  Dele Sosimi - E go Betta (O'Flynn Edit)
3.  Alkalino - Vivo
4.  Riccio - Marcela
5.  Ric Piccolo - Sube
6.  L’Oiseau Dore - Moar
7.  Katunga - Palo Bonito (Nick the Record re-edit) 
8.  Barrabas - Woman 
9.  The Apostles - Banko Woman 
10.  Puzzle People - French Fried Boogie
11.  Loco Moto 
12.  Negrocan  - Cada Vez 
13.  Leonidas & Hobbes - Web of Intrigue 
14.  Nit - Imparfaite 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Nothing Is Quick In The Desert


Yesterday mistakes were made here at Bagging Area. The Various Artists post on the Junior Boys Own Collection should have appeared today but due to an administrative error was published yesterday alongside the Orbital post. An inquiry has been carried out which has gone all the way to the very top of this organisation. Rest assured, action has been taken and heads have rolled.

As a result of the erroneous publishing of two posts simultaneously (and being out last night) this is a brief post. Public Enemy are celebrating thirty years in the rap game and have made their new album Nothing Is Quick In The Desert available as a free download. Off you go.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Various Artists


These Various Artists compilations have so far all come from a similar time frame and this one is right in there, the Junior Boys Own Collection from 1994, a round up of singles released on JBO between 1991 and 1994. Heller and Farley appear twice in their Fire Island guise (Fire Island, off Long Island , New York is and was legendary for its gay scene and clubs) and also as Roach Motel. Underworld contribute three songs under two names (Lemon Interrupt and Underworld) and pre-Chemicals Ed and Tom showcase the monstrous Song To the Siren and X-Press 2 are represented by two pieces of essential early 90s house.

This compilation is pretty ubiquitous in 1994, a good round up of a label with its finger near the pulse. All these tracks could be heard in Manchester's clubs- not always the same club but somewhere between the Hacienda, Home, the gay village and various other darkened rooms these tunes would never be far away. There But For The Grace Of God is Fire Island's disco house, a 1979 disco-funk classic from machine updated by Farley and Heller, camp as fluffy bras, crop tops and silver trousers.

There But For The Grace Of God

Rez is one of the greatest records of that period. Or any period. Beyond sheer brilliance, it is in some ways a full stop. The ever circling squiggles, the hi-hats and snare, the rush of the chords, all seem to say 'where else can you go after this?'

Rez

Impact


Of all the big hitters of the dance music world of the early 90s Orbital always seem to be the raviest, the least moody, the most up and optimistic. The first two Orbital albums, the green one and the brown one, are both essential snapshots of the duo and the scene. The second one (brown or 2) is a blast from start to finish, opening wiht the sampled voice talking about Moebius, time as a loop, the sampled then looped and played against another version of it. From there on in the synthesizers and drum machines take over and the Hartnoll brothers manage to make techno that is melodic and poppy, dance music that works at home, simple sounding tunes that are increasingly complex, all building towards the majesty that is Halcyon + On + On. Before that though there is the ten minutes of this track, three or four songs in one but all the same too- synths, sirens, clattering drums, breakdowns, build ups and half way through a voice... 'it's like a cry for survival'.

Impact (The Earth Is Burning)

Thursday, 29 June 2017

La Paresse


Here's something brand new from Swedish producer Paresse, whose stuff I've really enjoyed before (Hunters In The Snow, The Night Before You Came, Rosarita, Phantoms Are Waltzing- he's got a way with song titles). His new ep La Paresse is out now on Magic Feet, four new tracks the lead one being this one- Let Me Out Of This Studio (another winning song title). Hypno Hips, La Flaneur and Zen Fishing make up the rest of the ep, absorbing and sultry techno, electronic music with depth and heart. The Balearic influence is there, to keep it on board with this week's posts and as Echorich said on Tuesday's post Balearic is a feeling rather than a sound, but this also has a definite Scandi air to it. You can buy it at Bandcamp.






Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Blind Faith


I'm going to keep the Balearic vibes going in a vain attempt to make it seem like summer despite the fact that I'm at work and the weather has turned dull and a tad wet. This 1992 Sensuround single was partly the work of a post-Membranes, pre-Goldblade John Robb, with vocals from Tracy Carmen and remixed here by Dean Thatcher, who was responsible for several key remixes from the early 90s. Stick it alongside some early Saint Etienne, some A Man Called Adam and some Screamadelica era Primal Scream and it makes perfect sense.

Blind Faith (Aloof Mix)

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

There's A Lot Of Nice Places To See Out There


Stepping backwards in time from yesterday's Balearic Charlatans remix to a song from Liverpool in 1986 that found its way into DJ Alfredo's record box in Ibiza and the terrace at the Cafe del Mar with his guiding philosophy of 'if it sounds good, play it'. Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune) was a single from It's Immaterial, a Liverpool band with a Mancunian at the helm (John Campbell) and Henry Priestman of The Christians involved on keyboards. The song is perfect mid-80s synth-pop with acoustic guitars and a semi- spoken vocal, not a million miles from the Pet Shop Boys. Driving Away From Home was a UK hit (number 18) and popped up on adverts and compilations and TV shows but don't let that take anything away from it.

One of my favourite aspects of the song is the attempt to write a British road trip song, something that on the face of it is an American thing. 'Why don't we cross the city limit, and head on down the M62, it's only thirty nine miles and forty five minutes to Manchester' John says, and goes on to tell the driver 'all you've got to do is put your foot hard down to the floor, we can call on people I know in Newcastle or maybe in Glasgow'. See also Billy Bragg's A13 (Trunk Road To The Sea).

Driving Away From Home (Wicked Weather For Walking)

Monday, 26 June 2017

A Boy With A Stronger Emotion


The Charlatans have just put this up online, a remix of the title track from their new album by Chris and Cosey. A lovely, summery, 80s sounding,  Balearic version.



Opportunity Three was a different, remixed version of Opportunity (off debut album Some Friendly). It was mixed by Flood, originally released as the B-side to the 1991 Over Rising single and then saw the light of day again on Melting Pot, their first Best Of back in 1998. Opportunity Three is a delicious seven minute plus slice of 1990, equal parts 60s psychedelia and late 80s dance infused rock, led by some very loose drumming. The band (bass, guitar, Hammond) all swirl around, tripping out while Tim sings some sweet nonsense.

Opportunity Three

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Various Artists


Back in 1991 this Various Artists compilation was stuck on my turntable for what seemed like months. The acid jazz scene had been born and in the USA jazz flavoured hip hop was briefly the cutting edge, partly led by Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues film in 1990. This all fed into the emerging trip hop scene too I think. The Rebirth Of Cool was a fourteen track compilation opened by Gang Starr's Jazz Thing, with a swinging beat and pulsing bassline from DJ Premier and Guru's effortless rhymes recounting the history of jazz and its place importance now/then.

Jazz Thing

There are many fine moments among the rest of the songs and artists- X Clan's Raise The Flag, MC Mello, Dream Warriors, Stetsasonic's brilliant Talkin' All That Jazz, Galliano and Young Disciples from London's Acid Jazz label and Young MC. Between 1991 and 1998 4th And Broadway put out a further seven volumes and it lost its way a bit. I bailed out after Volume 2 but this one, the first, was a definite winner.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

I Felt Like A Vacuum Cleaner


The moment where the girl in the white dress appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, at Glastonbury back in 2013 is one of the greatest TV gig moments I've seen. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds had launched into a ten minute version of sex and murder fest Stagger Lee (sample line- 'just count the holes in his motherfucking head'). The band with beards, suit jackets and Chelsea boots, had locked into a killer groove. Nick, black trousers, mostly black floral shirt, blacker than black hair, had gone down to the barrier and was giving it the full foot-on-the-fence-while-growling-into-the-mic Nick Cave thing. At seven minutes forty six seconds she rises up from the throng, like a Victorian ghost, all in white, arm stretched out, full eye contact. Nick is singing about the devil and Stagger Lee is about to be taken down. Four holes in his motherfucking head. The bassline is thunderous, he is shrieking, the pair are still maintaining eye contact. The strange to-and-fro dance continues, sexual tension rising among thousands of people in broad daylight. Spontaneous gig theatre.



There are some Nick Cave songs which are as good as anything written and recorded in the 21st century (and 20th for that matter). This one from 2008 is a lyrical tour de force, laugh out loud funny and serious as fuck, Nick on his knees railing against his god, author and creator, howling for answers. There's a bizarre cast of characters, from the 'myxomatoid kids' in the first verse to a death in the second, causing him to shake his ' fists at the punishing rain'. This is one great line after another set against The Bad Seeds driving feedback and pummelling drums, occasionally breaking down into nothing but the noise of overloaded FX pedals and Nick looking for scissors.

'Everything is messed up around here
Everything is banal and jejeune
There's a planetary conspiracy
Against the likes of you and me
In this idiot constituency of the moon'

When he goes guruing down the street young people  want answers. Nick doesn't have them. he feels like a vacuum cleaner, a complete sucker.  There are slavering dogs and enormous encyclopaedic brains, third world poverty and a whole list of world issues to be answered for. Later on Doug turns up tapping at the window and offering a book of Holocaust poetry complete with pictures. There is a line about Nick down in his bolthole appalled at the publishing of 'another volume of unreconstructed rubbish'. Bukowski gets put down, the jerk. Prolix. Prolix. More scissors. Seriously, stunning stuff. Who else can do words this good?

We Call Upon The Author

Friday, 23 June 2017

Life Is Much More Simple When You're Young




I spent Wednesday evening watching the Pet Shop Boys playing in the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. The Empress Ballroom, known to fans of The Stone Roses as being the gig that sealed their ascent in the summer of 1989, is a beautiful late 19th century venue holding 3000 people, pretty intimate for an act who often play arenas. The show had everything you'd want and expect from a Pet Shop Boys performance- lights, projections, images, lasers, daft headgear, costume changes and more great tunes than you can shake a stick at. It opened with Neil and Chris appearing by rotating into view on two giant white circles. They stepped down, daft headgear intact, and got right on it in front of a crowd who were very much up for it. As a pair they've made songs that are informed by forty years of club culture and fifty years of pop culture and for a while were very near the centre of UK music. The projections for second song Opportunities have smiley faces swapping with dollar signs, a nice visual ironic nod to Thatcher's enterprise culture. From there on in it's recent songs like The Pop Kids and Love Is A Bourgeois Construct spliced with highlights from their back catalogue. A few songs in the giant white discs are dismantled, the screen falls down and a trio of musicians join Neil and Chris, two percussionist and a keyboardist/violinist, the extra drums beefing up the rack of synths and laptops local lad Chris Lowe is playing. Somewhere around halfway in, the temperature in the room rising and some of the crowd now shirtless, they drop in a beautifully chilled Love Comes Quickly, a pop song as good as any written in the 1980s.


Neil Tennant is a superb lyricist, a writer who frequently finds the sweet spot between the uniquely personal and brilliantly universal, and his distinctive voice has survived the years. In the second half of the set they show their strengths to full effect with a run of West End Girls, Home And Dry and It's A Sin, lasers beaming, hats and jackets changed, building up to the finale, now with giant coloured balls suspended above the stage- a reworked, upgraded version of Left To My Own Devices and then a singalong Go West, a song of community and brotherhood. The encore has a perfectly pitched and played Domino Dancing, the moment house music explicitly influenced their sound, followed by Always On My Mind. It's the hits. Pile 'em high, give 'em what they want. I could gripe that there's no Being Boring, no So Hard, no Rent but it'd be churlish. It's quite a show they put on, songs that last with choruses that stick (for decades), performed with knowing theatrics, with a nod and a wink but with feeling too. A class act. 







Thursday, 22 June 2017

Too Bad She Won't Live Forever...


'...but then again who does?'

Sean Young's Polaroids she took during the filming of Bladerunner are really something else.

And here's even more Bladerunner. You may have heard there's a new film imminent, Bladerunner 2049. Spain's disco/house producer Vicmoren has a free download of his theme to the new film on Soundcloud. Vangelis evidently referred to, this is ten minutes of minimal soundtrack electronica well spent.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Sweet Venus


High quality sleek techno from Death In Vegas' Richard Fearless, intense and repetitive. Starts off bleepy and with drones, then the rhythm hits. When they talk about machine music, this is the sort of thing they mean.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Cobra Bora


Back in 1989 808 State released Ninety, one of the first UK house albums. Ninety is chock full of summer of '89 acid house filtered through a group of four men all trying to get all their ideas onto every song- crashing drums, vocal samples, mad and delirious synth lines, songs with mulitple melody parts playing at the same time, sirens, everything. I had it on cassette and remember well driving to Glastonbury in June 1990 , arriving at the site with Ninety on the car stereo. We pulled up, opened the car doors to get out, Cobra Bora thumping away. A hippy crawled out of the hedge right in front us, said hello, asked us if we wanted to buy 'anything' and then shambled off.

Cobra Bora

Monday, 19 June 2017

Party People


Inside this giant mobile mirror ball is Graham Massey, once/currently of 808 State. In front of the mirror ball are a New Orleans style marching band called Mr Wilson's Secondliners accompanying him on brass and percussion as he spins house classics through the streets of Manchester, as part of yesterday's Manchester Day parade. Now in its eighth year the parade was played out this year in standard Mancunian weather- blazing sunshine, thirty-odd degrees heat. Even just standing still was a sweaty business. As the parade finished in Exchange Square, Massey and his band kept the party going a little longer with a wonderfully ramshackle version of Planet Rock.

Planet Rock

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Towca Androidow


Sometimes things just come together nicely, one thing from over there and another from over here. On Friday the Pulp Librarian posted this Polish promo poster for Bladerunner on Twitter. On Saturday while watching something completely unrelated on Youtube this long trancey remix of Vangelis' Bladerunner soundtrack turned up on the right hand side. A rather good expansive, trippy re-working of the film's soundtrack by Tranonica.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Various Artists


I was having a conversation online recently about the wonders of the Various Artists compilation album, which at certain times has been a real work of art. There are others I could go on about at some length but these are the three that immediately come to mind, all released within a few years of each other (and all tied together as well).

I've written before about Creation Records 1991 dance/house compilation Keeping The Faith but it is a perfect example, a well put together round up of similar minded artists and tracks defining a moment in time. From the opening minutes where Fluke take off on a Pan Am to Philly through to Hypnotone, a pair of Primal Scream remixes, Weatherall's definitive remix of My Bloody Valentine, Love Corporation, J.B.C., Sheer Taft, Danny Rampling's The Sound Of Shoom and World Unite here isn't a duff track and it is full of great moments. The Tears For Fears sample in J.B.C.'s cover of We Love You sums up how far Creation Records have shifted in 1991- 'dj's the man you love the most'. World Unite by World Unite is a majestic ambient house dub excursion- bubbling synths, up vocals with an eye on the dancefloor. The only thing I know about World Unite is that it was written by Potter and Stacey. And I love it still.

World Unite



In the mid-to-late 80s Creation excelled at budget compilations, often a way to keep the wolf from the door and keep the cash coming in. At a knock down price of £1.99 1988's Doing It For The Kids was an essential purchase- The Jasmine Minks, Felt, Primal Scream (early indie version), The Weather Prophets (their song Well Done Sonny is below), The House Of Love, The Jazz Butcher, Biff Bang Pow!, My Bloody Valentine, Momus, The Times, Nikki Sudden, Pacific, Heidi Berry, Emily, Razorcuts. It is almost the complete picture of post-Smiths indie. And completely untouched by what was already brewing that would lead to Keeping The Faith. A snapshot of a time.

Well Done Sonny



The last one is this one, Retro Techno/Detroit Definitive Emotions Electric, a 1991 double album of the futuristic sounds of Detroit, a pulling together of the work of Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, wall to wall techno classics that still sounds like its ahead of everyone else. From Model 500 at the start of Disc 1 Side 1 through to the massive drums, rhythms and bleeps of  The Groove That Won't Stop, this is better than most 'proper' albums. The closing track is a sublime version one of dance music's set texts, the unreleased mix of Strings Of Life by Rhythim Is Rhythim.

Strings Of Life (Unreleased Mix)

This could become a series I fear. Feel free to chip in with your own suggestions.

Friday, 16 June 2017

86 Palatine Road


A flat in this house on Palatine Road was once the home of one Alan Erasmus. In 1978 he co-founded Factory records along with Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton. Martin Hannett and Peter Saville soon joined. The label operated out of this flat throughout the 1980s, a short distance from where I grew up. The tales of Factory Records and its bands are the stuff of legend- no contracts, fifty-fifty split between label and bands, the artists own the music, the Hacienda must be built, Ian Curtis, So It Goes, Granada TV, Joy Division, New Order, the numbering system, A Certain Ratio, Durutti Column, Section 25, Stockholm Monsters, The Distractions, Crispy Ambulance, 52nd Street, Quando Quango, The Wake, James, The Railway Children, The Royal Family And The Poor, Miaow, Happy Mondays, the Factory egg timer, die-cut sleeves, tracing paper sleeves, no band photos on the sleeves,... In 1990 Factory moved out of 86 Palatine Road and into Factory 251 in town. 

Yesterday a blue plaque was awarded to 86 Palatine Road in recognition of Factory's cultural, civic and artistic importance. Shaun Ryder unveiled the plaque. Of course given that he demanded the destruction of the Hacienda to  prevent it becoming a museum piece Tony Wilson may not have approved of this recognition of a piece of Manchester's musical history. But if buildings are going to be awarded blue plaques for the part they played, then this is as deserving as any.


There are so many songs that illustrate Factory's brilliance in the 80s. On this song Otis, from Durutti Column's 1989 album (named after its creator Vini Reilly), Otis Redding's voice is sampled along with vocals credited to Vini's friend Pol. Reilly's guitar playing is fluid and lighter than air, echo on the arpeggios underpinning and enveloping the spectral Otis vocal- 'another sleepless night for me'. And then 'come back, come back'.

Otis

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Three Piece


Andrew Weatherall must have been going without sleep recently given his prolific remixing output. Here's three new ones for your Thursday.

This one is a weird, frantic, dubby thing with scratchy guitar and yelping, not a million miles from The Slits. It's not The Slits though, it's The Orielles, out on Heavenly. This is Part 2, so there must be a Part 1 somewhere too. I'll keep you posted.




This is the Mix 2 of of Balearic Queen Nancy Noise's Azizi's Dance, following Mix 1 which I posted last week- subtle and spacey with some snatches of conversation just out of earshot and rather nice.



Finally, Weatherall has turned in not one, not two, not even three, but four different remixes for Swiss pioneers Yello, all different versions of the track Frautonium from their new album. This one has bleeps and noises and glides about the place.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Fourteen



My daughter Eliza was born fourteen years ago today, arriving at four minutes to five on a Saturday morning back in 2003. She's been barely a moment of trouble ever since apart from a worrying diversion into Ed Sheeran's most recent album. Chatham troubadour Pete Molinari had a song for an Eliza on his 2010 A Train Bound For Glory album.

For Eliza

When I was fourteen, in 1984, the number one single in the UK this week was Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Cold War epic Two Tribes, riding in on Trevor Horn's thunderous production. Not quite as good as Relax but then not much else at that time was. The spoken intro warning of nuclear war still sends shivers down the spine. This version (below) was for the 30th anniversary of their Welcome To The Pleasure Dome album.