Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Where Do I Begin?


San Pedro Collective, the new musical vehicle combining the talents of Rikki Turner, Suddi Raval and Simon Wolstencroft among a floating cast of members, have a new single out. Where Do I Begin? features the vocals of Sarah Bouchier and mines the warm, progressive house sound of the early 1990s to striking effect. It feels good and is a floor filler but the vocals hint at darker times, Sarah singing 'it's a crisis' over the swirling hypnotic groove. There's an eye watering breakdown too for that arms in the air moment.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Proud To Be A Fool


I spend quite a bit of time at the moment having conversations about music with people online. In one such exchange yesterday this track came up, a blast of optimism from 2009 by Phoreski,  a chunky, chugging Italo, grin inducing, floor filler with drum pads, throbbing synth bass, guitars, keyboards and bells and the button marked 'euphoria' turned all the way round. It's Friday and tracks like this make it feel like Friday.

Proud To Be A Fool

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Uptown Approach


Some more Andrew Weatherall for your delectation. First is a reader request...

Uptown (Long After The Disco Is Over)

In 2008 Primal Scream released an album called Beautiful Future, an album I bought but have hardly played. I seem to remember Bobby Gillespie saying this was an album which had 'sugar coated melodies' or something similar. It came after Riot City Blues which was where I drifted away from the Scream- Country Girl was a pastiche of  pastiche and the rest of the album bar a couple of songs didn't sink in. Having said that Beautiful Future's follow up, More Light, five years later was the best Scream album since Evil Heat for me. Looking at the tracklisting for Beautiful Future now I can't recall much about any of it, there are several collaborations (Josh Homme, Linda Thompson, Lovefoxx), but the bonus/ freebie cover of Urban Guerrilla and the instrumental Time Of The Assassin were both ok. Where Beautiful Future achieves its status is as the source material for one of Andrew Weatherall's greatest remixes and in 2008 a sign that after a few quieter years he was back in the game. Uptown on the album is a Bobby Gillespie Saturday Night Fever tribute song. In Weatherall's hands it becomes 21st century gold, a alchemist's calling card. Opening with dub FX, echoes bouncing around and then Bobby cooing 'you feel so good you never wanted to leave', Uptown becomes a disco odyssey, clipped guitar, a sweet melodica line, four on the floor drums and a bassline from the centre of the club. Weatherall builds it over the ensuing nine minutes, layering sound, the riffs and melodies circling, noises ricocheting left and right, Bobby occasionally whispering 'uptown' and those melancholic, sweeping strings. At the heart of this disco is the eternal sadness of the hedonist, the realisation that the lights have to come on, the night will be over, the morning will come- the knowledge that chasing the magical moments on the floor cannot last forever but that while they last, they are bliss. Short lived bliss. It's all in there.

Before his tragic passing just over a week ago Andrew and Nina Walsh had already lined up the second of the monthly Woodleigh Research Facility digital only e.p.s following January's Into the Cosmic Hole. The second one is called Facility 4: Approach and brings us three more tunes from the end times soundsystem- Fume Homage, The Approach and Servant. The e.p. comes out tomorrow at all the usual digital places. The ghostly noises, the cavernous echo, the steam powered drum machine rhythms, the deep sea bass, the long synth sounds and little arpeggios, the sense of slight dislocation, all lingering on in his absence.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Witches


This song by Low took me by surprise the weekend before last. I was sorting through a pile a freebie CDs that had built up near the pile of records that has built up. I've got several albums by Low but not the one this song is on (an album called C'mon released in 2011). Having listened to and skipped a few songs on the CD I let Witches play. The opening guitar chords, clanging and distorted were enough on their own, but then the ensuing menace coming through the speakers, Alan and Mimi's vocals, and the natural echo provided by the Sacred Heart studio in Duluth, Minnesota (a former church). There's what sounds like a banjo in there too.

Witches

I don't know what Witches is about, facing your fears maybe. Like the music the lyrics are foreboding and full of shadows.

'One night I got up and told my father there were witches in my room
He gave me a baseball bat and said here's what you do...

All you guys out there trying to act like Al Green...'

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Son Sur Son


This came out only a few weeks ago, the first Andrew Weatherall release of 2020 but what will now be one of the last with his name on it- two remixes of The Venetians. The band was the studio only project of Rik Swinn who arrived in Sydney in late 1982, having recorded the tracks with Vic Coppersmith- Heaven. They became a touring band and their sound is very left of centre early 80s, groovy post- punk synth pop. The 12" came out a few weeks ago and includes two Andrew Weatherall remixes, the first a swirly, percussive vocal remix and the second an instrumental, spacey affair, much further away from home. This is the first of the pair, A.W. Edition Uno.



While we're here last week in the rush of articles, obituaries, mixes and appreciations of the great man his friend and musical partner in Woodleigh Research facility Nina Wash posted up some links to some playlists on Youtube. These playlists were Weatherall's work but weren't widely known about because as Nina says 'he wasn't very good at the internet'. Collectively they are called The Black Notebooks and are a treasure trove of songs, from The Blue Aeroplanes to Townes van Zandt, Durutti Column, Willie Nelson, The Triffids, Pink Military, Moon Duo and Alan Vega and all points in between. You can find them all, volumes 1 to 9 at Ban Ton Ton.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Coping


Julian Cope played the second of two nights at Gorilla on Saturday night, a wide ranging one man show with songs from his back catalogue (from The Teardrop Explodes through to the new Self Civil War) and plenty of story telling and comedy in between. Cope is announced on to the stage by his roadie and appears in Luftwaffe cap, shades, sleeveless hooded top, shorts and biker boots, promising us that he won't talk too much and then proceeds to do exactly that- not that anyone is complaining. Cope is an accomplished raconteur as much as anything else. He kicks off with a long story about buying the title Grand Prince of Pomerania off the internet and then goes into Soul Desert following that with a new one, Your Facebook My Laptop. We get Read It In Books, interrupted by Julian filling us in on the genesis of that song, what he calls 'the writing group' he was a member of (The Crucial Three of legend), the birthplace of both the Bunnymen and The Teardrops, it's riff borrowed from a Fall song (Mark E Smith and Martin Bramah are both nodded to) and Ian McCulloch's role in it, with some gentle piss taking of Mac. It's not nasty or personal- he takes the piss out of himself and out of us too.  All the songs bar one are played on acoustic guitar and fleshed out by FX pedals including an epic Autogeddon Blues, a brilliant They Were All On Hard Drugs (which has a lengthy preamble, as you can probably imagine, which finishes with him describing finding four different types of magic mushroom within a few hundred yards of Stonehenge), Cromwell In Ireland, Drink Me Under The Table, The Greatness And Perfection of Love, a sparkling run through World Shut Your Mouth, and Treason. When all his songs are presented like this, one man with his guitar, they seem more and more part of the same story- there's real no separation between the Teardrops pop hits and his current cottage industry album. He jokes about the Teardrops, that he approached the others about putting them back together but the rest of the band were just too out of it. He jokes about the stream of near hits he had as a solo artist, all of them peaking at number 42. He tells us about painting a Messerschmidt- a model not a real one- and having some deep grey paint left over at the exact moment a brand new Fender guitar is delivered. He then plays the next song with the guitar he painted. He mentions his poor promotion of his new albums and then repeatedly remembers to promote Self Civil War. He reminds us of the criticism that his songs are ba- ba- ba songs, then plays the ba- ba- ba songs, proving what a great songwriter he is. There's a long discussion about folk music and his issues with it and then we, the folk, are encouraged to join in with the 'Oi' backing vocals.  For The Great Dominions he moves onto the synth with his roadie accompanying him and then goes back to the guitar for a marvellous Pristeen and finally a crowd pleasing Sunspots. He hams up the leaving of the stage, revelling in the applause while undercutting it too, and then returns to play Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed. There's not really anyone else quite like him- so esoteric, so open, so poppy but so versed in the underground. Long may he run.

Autogeddon Blues

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Special One


A list of records that I love out of all proportion to their importance or impact would include Special One by Ultra Vivid Scene, a single from the New York band's second album (released in 1990 so nothing to do with the self- proclaimed special one Jose Mourinho). Ultra Vivid Scene were largely the work of one man, Kurt Ralske, who made two albums for 4AD, both packed with alternative guitar songs, Velvets inspired melodies and Mary Chain style drums and bass. Special One is a brilliant little song, instantly bringing Vox teardrop guitars, valve amps and wraparound sunglasses to mind and has Kim Deal on backing vox singing the 'how do you think it feels?' line.

Special One

The Special One single was a four track e.p. Of the three B-sides this is the best, a slow crawl through the streets at dawn.

Lightning (72 BPM/4 A.M.)

Nothing really happened for Ultra Vivid Scene. Apparently they played some gigs in London to support the second album, Joy 1967- 1990, that were terrible, 4AD's staff begging the room full of journalists not to review them. The first self titled album still gets played round here from time to time as does Joy 1967- 1990. There was a third in 1992 called Rev which I've never heard.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Just What Is It That You Want To Do?


Loaded was the starting point for Andrew Weatherall and in the mainstream it is what he'll be remembered for I guess. He'd been in the studio before as a remixer- his first named credit was on the Happy Monday's Hallelujah Club Remix but Loaded is where the story begins. He'd given Primal Scream a positive review of a gig in Exeter at a time when no- one was interested in them. He also raved about their self titled second album, a rock 'n' roll, Stooges inspired guitar record that had managed to alienate the fans of their first album without really finding any new ones. In the summer of 1989 I saw Primal Scream touring to promote Ivy Ivy Ivy at a venue in Liverpool called Planet X in front of about thirty people. The Scream gave it their all, Bobby occasionally complaining about the low ceiling. We were right at the front next to Throb and they finished with I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have, Bobby on his knees screaming into the mic. A few months later Weatherall turned I'm Losing More... into Loaded.

Loaded

The first version of Loaded was in Weatherall's own words 'too polite' and Andrew Innes encouraged him to go back and 'fucking destroy it'. Primal Scream had nothing to lose. At this point Gillespie, Innes and Throb were still unconvinced about acid house despite Alan McGee's enthusiasm but had met Weatherall at a rave and were happy for him to remix the song. Weatherall set about taking the song to pieces and remaking it.

I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have

Taking the horns from the end section of the original song and Henry Olsen's rolling bassline Weatherall stitched Peter Fonda's famous dialogue from The Wild Angels, a 1966 biker film, to the start of the song.



 The question, 'Just what is it that you want to do?' is asked by Frank Maxwell. Fonda replies with his rallying call- 'we want to be free, we want to be free, to do what we want to do... and we want to get loaded and we want to have a good time'. The part about riding 'our machines without being hassled by the man' was cut. I've often thought there should be a version with that part included. Fonda's declaration had been used before, not least by Psychic TV (Weatherall was a big PTV fan). It sums up the spirit of the times perfectly.

The drumbeat with its massive crash cymbal came from Edie Brickell And The New Bohemians, a bootleg version of their hit What I Am, which in turn had been borrowed from a Soul II Soul record (and that was sampled from elsewhere).

What I Am (Bootleg)

The 'I don't want to lose your love' vocal part, the bit where on a dancefloor or at a gig everyone is singing in unison regardless of their ability to hit the notes, comes from a 1976 song by The Emotions.



The only bit of Bobby Gillespie that made it onto the record is the vocal part at 3.09 where he sings 'we're gonna get deep down, deep down, woo hey!' in response to Frank Maxwell's repeated question. Gillespie's vocal is from a cover of a Robert Johnson song, Terraplane Blues, presumably something the Scream had recorded but never released. There's an 'ah yeah' bit at about five minutes which sounds like Bobby, some ace slide guitar and acoustic guitar, some lovely Italo house piano and Innes' crunchy guitar parts that make the breakdown before we are launched back in.

The song was pressed up onto acetate and then some promos for DJs and as summer turned into autumn people began to notice the impact it had on dance floors. The rhythms evoke Sympathy For The Devil, the shuffling groove, and crowds in clubs began to chant the 'woo woo' part spontaneously. Loads of people have described their reactions to being told this monster rave anthem was the work of Primal Scream, the disbelief, the shaking of heads and then the wide eyed joy of becoming a believer. Members of Primal Scream have recounted being phoned by Weatherall and others in the small hours excitedly describing the effect Loaded was having on a floor right there and then. It was finally given its full released in February 1990, Creation finding themselves with a hit on their hands. Loaded reached number sixteen in the UK and propelled the band into the Top of The Pops studios where Gillespie wriggled with his maracas, black leather and long hair, feet seemingly glued to the spot. Ride's Mark Gardener was drafted in to mime on the keyboards, Throb is resplendent in teddy boy red and Innes pulls all the moves, Les Paul, hippy shirt and long curls. For a song that has such deep roots, that sent thousands of indie kids hurtling to the dance floor and still raises the roof when played at parties, it's an odd TV performance that doesn't quite nail it. And of course, the man who made it is nowhere to be seen.




Friday, 21 February 2020

Gold Road's Sure A Long Road


It's amazing how the internet throws things up- this clip is The Stone Roses performing Fools Gold on Dutch TV in 1989. We've all seen the the famous Top Of the Pops performance, some of us many, many times, but until the other night I'd never seen this clip before. I didn't know it existed. Ian, John, Reni and Mani at the height of their cool, all four giving it the insouciant, hair growing out, swagger that was a massive part of their appeal. The crowd, considering this a mimed performance, are going for it too. Dutch kids clearly knew the score.




Thursday, 20 February 2020

Lord Sabre


I could probably go on posting Andrew Weatherall related music all week and into next but I'll make this the last one for the time being, a third celebration of his life and music following his passing earlier this week. The further I go into the remixes he did in the early 90s the more of them I recall that I didn't write about yesterday- West India Company, Word Of Mouth, Deep Joy, That Petrol Emotion all spring to mind. The mid 90s Two Lone Swordsmen period is so full of music and remixes that it would take years to go through it all and then there are the ones done under other names from that time- Rude Solo, Lino Squares, Basic Units, the wondrous deep house recorded with David Harrow as Deanne Day, his partnership with Harrow as Blood Sugar, the beautifully chilled piano dub of the Planet 4 Folk Quartet track (also with David Harrow). There's also all the minimal techno, dub and electronic weirdness released on the various Emissions labels in the 90s from people such as Blue, Conemelt, Turbulent Force, Alex Handley, Technova (David Harrow again) and Bionic.

Released on Emissions Audio Output in 1996 Hardly Breathe is fifteen minutes of sumptuous deep house, bass to shake your speakers and a breathy vocal from 'Deanne'.

Hardly Breathe

In the same year Weatherall went back to the BBC and recorded his second Essential Mix. The first was a groundbreaking charge through Weatherall's record box three years earlier, opening with Killing Joke and Sabres and taking in Brother Love Dubs, Smokebelch, Plastikman, LFO, Black Dog and Innersphere along the way, two hours of techno that was taped and shared and re-taped. In 1996 his second Essential Mix was possibly even better, a journey into the heart of the Two Lone Swordsmen sound- minimal, bass led, crisp machine drums, on the button, Andrew re-working the material including four of his own records as he plays it. Two hours of the art of the DJ.




Jumping forward to 2009 and a mix he did for Fact Magazine which I listened to endlessly at that time and plundered for posts at Bagging Area in its early days. Fact Mix 85 skips from genre to genre in an effortless manner, playing post- punk, rockabilly, Stockholm Monsters, Durutti Column, Mogwai and Pete Wylie. The tracklist is here. Earlier on in 2009 he did a 6 Music show where he'd played Wayne Walker's All I Can Do Is Cry (also on Fact Mix 85), a song that I heard for the first time there and that then became the subject of the first ever piece of blogging I did (a guest slot at The Vinyl Villain).

Fact Mix 85

This one is more recent, the man playing at Terraforma near Milan in Italy, a Music's Not For Everyone style set and is the best fifty two minutes of audio/visual fun you'll have today. Songs from Fujiya Miyagi, The Dream Syndicate, Moon Duo, AMOR, played a field full of dancing Italians half his age.



In 2003 Primal Scream released a greatest hits called Dirty Hits, a version of their history that opened with Loaded, Weatherall's mangling of the Scream's I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have, with steals from Peter Fonda, Edie Brickell and The Emotions. Loaded, in a piece of timing that is remarkable, came out thirty years ago yesterday. Anyway, the sleeve notes to Dirty Hits were written by Andrew Weatherall and conclude thus...

'Feeling humble, having served... now carry me home.'



Now you'll have to excuse me because I've got something in my eye again.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Audrey Witherspoon


I mentioned the remixes Andrew Weatherall made his name with yesterday. In the early 90s remix culture became the big thing, record companies throwing thousands of pounds at club DJs to stick dance beats underneath a song. Weatherall's remixes never took the easy road, were never formulaic. In most cases the remixes were better than the source material and he was still producing superb remixes until recently.

Primal Scream have put out several Best Of/ Greatest Hits, one only last year. The one they haven't released and would be the contender for the best Best Of would be the one that compiled Weatherall's work for the group. The AW/PS compilation wold start with Loaded, a remix so groundbreaking and gigantic it created an entire scene and gave the Scream a career. Andrew's remix of Come Together is monumental. I once said here that there are days when I think it is the single greatest record ever made and I don't see any reason to argue with myself.



'Today on this programme you will hear gospel and rhythm and blues and jazz. All these are just labels, we know that music is music'

The rest of Screamadelica that Andrew produced would be on this Primal Scream Best Of too- Inner Flight, Shine Like Stars, Don't Fight It Feel It (and the amazing Scat Mix where Denise Johnson's voice is chopped up and scattered over the track) and the Jah Wobble bass of Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts). Then this, ten glorious minutes of slow groove, horn driven spaced out house, from the Dixie Narco e.p.

Screamadelica

His knob- twiddling on the other two songs on the Dixie Narco e.p. brought two other classics in the shape of Stone My Soul and their cover of Dennis Wilson's Carry Me Home, one of the very best things Bobby Gillespie and co ever did. Primal Scream's follow up was their Rolling Stones record. Weatherall produced remixes of Jailbird. Trainspotting from Vanishing Point. The far out Two Lone Swordsmen remix of Stuka. The pair of productions he did on Evil Heat- the gliding shimmer of Autobahn 66 and the mutant funk of A Scanner Darkly. Two TLS remixes of Kill All Hippies. Bloods. The ten minute remix of Uptown, a signpost in 2009 that Weatherall was back at the remix peak. The remix and dub version of 2013. The stretched out remix of Goodbye Johnny. That's the Primal Scream Best Of.

In the early 90s his remixes broke genres, chucking in the kitchen sink, its plumbing, the work surface and all the white goods too. His dub remix of Saint Etienne was a moment of clarity for me, the doorway to another world, the two halves glued together by the sample 'the DJ, eases a spliff from his lyrical lips and smilingly orders ''cease!'' '

Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves)

Andrew's remixes from this period are full of little moments to raise a smile, samples from obscure places, huge basslines, sudden changes in pace or tempo, piano breakdowns and thumping rhythms. Almost every single one is worth seeking out and almost every single one has been posted here at some point. In no particular order- S'Express' Find 'Em, Fool 'Em, Forget 'Em, The Drum by The Impossibles, a mad pair of remixes of Flowered Up's Weekender, the magnificent The World According To... for Sly And Lovechild, his work for One Dove (that produced some career high remixes in the shape of Squire Black Dove Rides Out and the Guitar Paradise version of White Love and his production work on the most beautiful and most lost of the lost albums of the 1990s Morning Dove White), his remix of My Bloody Valentine's Soon, on its own a justification of remix culture and two reworkings of The Orb's Perpetual Dawn that take his and The Orb's dub roots into pounding new places. Roots music.

Perpetual Dawn Ultrabass I

Perpetual Dawn Ultrabass II

Add to all these his remixes of Jah Wobble, three versions of Visions Of You, spread over twenty five minutes of vinyl and two remixes of Bomba that have to be heard to be believed. Decades after first hearing this one I found the source of the madcap intro (Miles Davis) when it had been there in the title all along.

Bomba (Miles Away)

His remixes of The Grid's Floatation are also sublime. As a fan of The Stone Roses the moment when he drops John Squire's guitar part from Waterfall into the ending of the track brought things together for me perfectly.

Floatation (Sonic Swing Mix)

There are so many more. The speaker shattering thump of Fini Tribe's 101. His long tribal workout of Papua New Guinea. The sweet smell of didgeridoo on Galliano's meandering Skunk Funk. The wide eyed mixes of A Man Called Adam's CPI. Indie, ambient, house, dub, everything from the fringes of music's past, ready to sample and plunder to make something new, with a sense of possibility and openness. This would all be mere nostalgia were it not for Weatherall's continual left turns and about turns in the following years. His remixes from the last decade, again almost all posted here at some point, are of a similar high standard but he rarely if ever repeats himself. There are similarities in tone and palette but always with an eye looking forward and perpetual motion. The remix of MBV's Soon and his remix of Fuck Buttons Sweet Love For Planet Earth seem somehow linked to me, the manipulation of noise and the intense melodies found within over crunching dance floor rhythms. I've not even begun to touch on his remixes with Sabres of Paradise, the treasure that lies within Sabres own records (Sabresonic, Haunted Dancehall, Theme, Wilmot, oh man, Wilmot- we were at Cream once waiting for ages for Weatherall to arrive and eventually word came through that he was delayed, wasn't going to make it. Resident DJ and owner Darren Hughes played on and dropped Wilmot, unheard by us at that point, the whole back room skanking to those wandering horns).



Then there was Two Lone Swordsmen whose remixes were harder, purer somehow, more focused, less obvious. It took time sometimes for them to reveal themselves. The TLS albums from The Fifth Mission onward, the stoned hip hop grooves of A Virus With Shoes, the double album of juddering bass and London machine funk of Tiny Reminders, Swimming Not Skimming. My favourite of the TLS albums from this period has become Stay Down. Released on Warp from its cover art, a painting of a pair of deep sea divers, to its memorable song titles (try Hope We Never Surface, Light The Last Flare, Spine Bubbles, Mr Paris' Monsters and As Worldly Pleasures Wave Goodbye for starters- that last one has just made me gulp) it is a self contained mini- masterpiece. Stay Down is an abstract album of short tracks, weird, rhythmic, minimal ambient music, sounding like it has been submerged and then recovered from the deep, humanised analogue IDM. Never standing still, always moving forward.

Light The Last Flare

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Andrew Weatherall


This is a post I didn't expect to be writing. Andrew Weatherall died in hospital yesterday of a pulmonary embolism aged fifty six. This unwanted piece of news turned up in a Whatsapp group and then my social media timelines, people who were fans or had connections with him, were deluged with reactions, tributes and memories and his music. It goes without saying that this blog has reflected my love for the man's work. This is the 499th time that I've tagged 'Andrew Weatherall' on a post and his music and influence has been the subject of my writing since Bagging Area's first week of existence back in January 2010. My personal history with Lord Sabre goes back twenty years before that, to 1990 and his first remixes. Loaded, Hallelujah, Come Home and Only Love Can Break Your Heart. Raise by Bocca Juniors. It all started there and then mushroomed in spectacular style, from Screamadelica in 1991 to his most recent works in the Woodleigh Research Facility and solo records. It's not an exaggeration to say that a huge swathe of records and CDs I've bought since 1990, shelf upon shelf of artefacts (plus books, T-shirts, prints and posters) are because of his involvement as producer, musician or remixer or because in some way he recommended them, through interviews in the music press, articles written for magazines and websites, out DJing, warming up for bands, club nights recorded onto cassette, internet DJ mixes and his regular radio shows for 6 Music and most recently NTS.

I had a number of encounters with him in real life, DJing at club nights and events. In the 1990s Weatherall was a regular at Cream, the Liverpool superclub. He played in the backroom, a dark box of a place where we- me, Lou, Nick, Meanie, Mandy, Ian, Vinnie, Julia, Ross, Amanda and others- gathered on a monthly basis to dance to his sets, mad techno, dub and electro that often ended with the room bouncing in unison in an acid house pogo. The train ride over from Manchester to Liverpool would be filled with anticipation and the return journey the day after with the warm glow of a night well spent. There was a night at the Hacienda circa 1993 I attended which has gone down in legend but of which I remember little except that it was the stuff that reputations rest on. At some point he played Sankey's Soap, then an outpost in a post- industrial wasteland north of Manchester city centre. Somehow (via Julia I think who had an acquaintance with Ian Weatherall, Andrew's brother) we were on the guestlist. We arrived at the front of the queue, our names checked against the list on the clipboard and then the door-woman called across the courtyard to the inner door 'these are Andy's guests, they can go straight in'. I floated across the courtyard.

In 1998, very close to the birth of our first child Isaac, we went to a performance at the Cornerhouse on Oxford Road. Weatherall was playing records to accompany a screening of the 1922 silent movie classic Nosferatu, music, sounds and noises to go with the freakiest film of early cinema. Isaac, in utero, at some point found it all a bit much- a limb protruded and made a wave from inside Lou's stomach, like a shark's fin in time to the ghostly soundtrack. This event doesn't exist anywhere on the internet (or least I've never found any record of it). In modern parlance, 'pics or it didn't happen'. But it did happen, I was there. I went out a bought a pair of Levi's cinchback jeans not long afterwards as a result of Mr Weatherall wearing a pair that night. When he put together the Nine O'Clock Drop compilation album in 2000, punk funk ahead of the curve, one of the gnomic remarks on the inner sleeve was to 'keep your secrets, they're all we've got'. The Nosferatu Cornerhouse event fits into that ethos.

In the early 00s at a venue on Oldham Street called Planet K we saw him play a minimal electro/ techno set, sparsely attended but musically perfect (also attended by Johnny Marr if memory serves). There was a night at The Music Box on Oxford Road with Keith Tenniswood, part of a Two Lone Swordsmen tour done with turntables and laptops. Later on in 2008 or 2009 TLS had become a rock 'n' roll band, playing the songs from the excellent Wrong Meeting albums, garage and rockabilly inspired music with Weatherall on vocals and Chris Rotter on guitar. Chris and James Fyffe on Facebook have both hinted at times when that band played a festival, went down like a sack of shit with a crowd clearly wanting something else, and then overdid it recreationally. Fail we may, sail we must.

More recently, since 2010, in partnership with with Sean Johnston Weatherall put on a roaming club night called A Love From Outer Space, an oasis of slow in a world ever speeding up, slow motion, cosmische chug, transporting and transcendent music. I attended one just under a year ago at The Refuge and had a ball. There was an ALFOS night at The White Hotel in Salford a couple of weeks ago which I missed for a variety of reasons. Never mind, I thought, they'll be back soon, I'll go next time.

In 2018 Harvey and I travelled over to Liverpool to see Weatherall DJ at a pub called The Merchant in Liverpool, an afternoon drinking beer and listening to a Music's Not For Everyone set of rock 'n' roll, blues and garage rock. I approached him and stumbled through a fairly excruciating exchange (for me)- I was nervous. I met him a couple of times at Cream but only in the end- of- set, handshake, 'nice one, great set, thanks mate' kind of way. In Liverpool two years ago I introduced myself and bumbled my way through some kind of conversation and got a photo of me and him. I always meant to re- introduce myself at a gig, say hi and apologise for my tongue- tied nature in Liverpool, mention the blog (which I neglected to do in 2018- duh). He was familiar with Bagging Area apparently- a friend of his from the old days had been in touch with me once or twice by email to thank me for my work sharing AW's work and said that he, Weatherall, knew of the blog- that on its own blew my mind.


I'm just scratching the surface here and I suspect I'll have more to say this week and beyond. What a loss. A true maverick, a pioneer, a genuine talent, a lovely bloke and an inspiration. My life has been considerably richer because of his. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends for whom all of this is much more personally felt. The world was a better place with Andrew Weatherall in it.

Smokebelch II (Beatless Mix)

Monday, 17 February 2020

Monday's Long Song


Today's long song comes from France and Turkey, a weirded out, industrial dub funk workout with spoken/whispered vocals pushed to the fore over some very seductive mechanical and electronic comings and goings. The original track, Durma, is by a Franco- Turkish duo called Kit Sebastian who say that their music is 'the meeting point of Anatolian psychedelia and Brazilian tropicalia... 60s European pop and American jazz.' The remix by Baris K takes Durma somewhere else entirely.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Beautiful Dub


I've posted this song before but occasionally it re- appears in my brain out of nowhere or pops up on an old compilation CD and takes me away for a few minutes. Peaking Lights, a husband- wife duo from Wisconsin, put out an album in 2012 called Lucifer, a swirly psychedelic pop record that brightened the corners. They followed it with Lucifer In Dub, self- explanatory really, dubbed out re-workings of their own songs. The stand out was their dub of Beautiful Son, a song written for their then newborn baby Mikko. This is just under seven minutes of lush, warm, psychedelic dub, the aural equivalent of sunshine on a rainy day, to quote a completely different song .

Beautiful Dub

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Down That Road


One of my favourite singles of 2019 was Apiento's Things You Do For Love. In the record shop last weekend, the ever wonderful Piccadilly Records, I found a 12" by Apiento that slipped out at the tail end of last year, unnoticed. Made from similar building blocks as Things... Down That Road is slinky, soulful Balearica, with an acid bassline, some very precise machine drums and an understated but unmissable vocal from Harriet Brown.




Friday, 14 February 2020

You Can Never Get Enough


I'm sure this song has been the subject of Friday posts on music blogs a thousand times before but it helps me nail three things with one mp3 today- a Friday, and not just any old Friday but the Friday I finish work for a week and a song that has love in the title and is about love too, so perfect for Valentine's Day.

Friday I'm In Love

From 1992, which at the time seemed like late- period Cure given they had over a decade behind them at that point, bouncing in the jangliest guitars and a catchy- as- flu lyric this is Robert Smith at his poppiest, a naive and deliberately up record.

To give some Yang to The Cure's Yin, this is a song by My Bloody Valentine in 1988, a song that's less poppy and direct, more trippy, more sensual and slightly bewildering too.

Cigarette In Your Bed

Acoustic guitar as an uneven rhythm, detuned electric guitars coming in like storm clouds passing through and Belinda's half asleep voice making vague threats against a lover/ ex.

'Falling down
I like to watch you
Crawl around

Arms untied
Scratching your eyes out
With a smile

Strange stare
Strangled by the blade left
In your heart

I glide by
Slip a cigarette
In your bed'


The whole gathers speed at the end with some 'de- de- de- de- de- de- de- der' cooing over thumping drums, feedback and bent strings. This still sounds like little else and goes further out there than most of their contemporaries travelled.

Cigarette In Your Bed was one of the B-sides of the You Made Me Realise e.p. from 1988 and on the budget price Creation Records sampler Doing It For The Kids (also 1988), a compilation I still treasure. You Made Me Realise is a record that contains the astonishing guitars and dynamics of the title track, with its malevolent instrumental section, and has at least two other MBV classics- Slow, a song with stunning guitars and drums and Kevin Shields singing about oral sex and Drive It All over Me, a woozy, hammering Belinda Butcher/ Colm O'Ciosoig co- write.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Seventeen Again


I had something else lined up for today but then I wrote yesterday's post about Sharon Van Etten's Seventeen and this seemed like the obvious thing to follow it with.

Opening side two of Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols the song Seventeen is a high octane sneer fest from the combined talents of Lydon, Jones, Cook and Matlock. Jones's guitars cough into life, then the riffing starts and Rotten lets fly-

'You're only twenty nine
Got a lot to learn
But when your Mummy dies
She will not return

We like noise, it's our choice
It's what we want to do
We don't care about long hair
I don't wear flares

See my face, not a trace
No reality
Oh I don't work I just speed
That's all I need'

Three short verses and what feels like one of the more throwaway songs on Never Mind The Bollocks... but then Cook doubles up on the drums, the guitars pile up some more and Lydon really lets go

'I'm a lazy sod'

For all the fuss about the word 'bollocks' and the subsequent court case and the Bill Grundy show swearing ('you dirty fucker' and 'what a fucking rotter') it's funny to hear Lydon making such a repeated show of the word 'sod' and to use it with such force.

Seventeen

According to Glen Matlock Seventeen was a song that existed before Lydon joined the band which had a lyric written by Steve Jones that Lydon then adapted. Jones' song was called Lonely Boy. Lydon, smart cookie that he is, retitled it Seventeen because 'that's the age when everything hurts the most. You're not quite an adult, you don't want to be viewed as a young whippersnapper, and you're not fully prepared for adulthood either.' Lydon goes on-

'The rest of the lyrics were representing everybody around me, since these are not lonely-boy problems; this is what everybody faces, but nobody faces up to. A good book is when an author tells you the truth and you can tell because they are embarrassing themselves doing it. But facing up to that truth is so important to the readers because it helps them break out of their shells'.

Which is pretty much what Sharon Van Etten was writing about too.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Seventeen


I was watching episode seven of the second series of Sex Education (it's on Netflix, brief synopsis- Otis is in 6th form, Mum is a sex therapist, his friends come to him for sex advice despite Otis' own lack of experience in that department. In series one he is often bailed out by his friends Eric and Maeve). The penultimate episode of series two centres around the fall out from a party at Otis' house and particularly the group of girls who form a bond in detention. At the end of the episode the six girls board a bus and a song began playing over the fade to the credits which sounded ace- I didn't think I knew it but at the same time it sounded familiar. The problem with Netflix is that the next episode starts automatically in about twelve seconds which leads to rapid scrabbling for the remote to stop it, if it's too late to go straight into the next one (which it was). This meant turning the song off. A little Googling the day after and it turns out it was this...



I saw Sharon Van Etten's name all over the end of year lists, both magazines and blogs, and never went any further but this song is going to push me to do that. Seventeen has a proper emotional heft, capable of giving you a bit of bump and stopping you in your tracks (you meaning me I guess), there's something about the rising chords and Sharon's voice that goes hits the bullseye. The 80s production is what must have sounded familiar to me. I never thought that a song that seems to reference mid- 80s Springsteen would appeal to me so much. In the song Sharon addresses her seventeen year old self and her freedom/ naivety, wanting to warn her about what lies ahead and the poor decisions she'll make but still knowing that she has to go through it all. She also gets pissed off with her younger self who she thinks wouldn't fully like her as she is now, would think she's lost it or sold out or something similar. One of the lines goes 'I used to be free/ I used to be seventeen' and judging by the comments on Youtube it seems that the line and the sentiment affects those much older than that and those around that age equally. I'm eleven years older than Sharon, turn fifty in a few months, and this song definitely nails a feeling, a sense of the loss of youth and the pain of looking back. That's the literal definition of nostalgia isn't it? Nostalgia usually evokes a sentimental looking back, feelings of wistfulness, the rosy glow of the past. But it's literal translation involves looking back with feelings of sadness, of something lost and gone. I don't want to be a person who's nostalgic for being seventeen- there are other 'better' ages to be nostalgic about, it's an age where you're still not fully sure of yourself in a lot of ways, I certainly wasn't, and an age where you know so little despite being so sure you know so much- but this song really does push all those buttons.

The fresh faced kid in the photograph is me, aged seventeen, on holiday in southern Scotland in the summer of 1987. Fucking nostalgia eh?

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Reboot


Following on from yesterday's ambient Steve Hillage post comes a recent track from the continuing adventures of Dr Alex Paterson, this time collaborating with Paul Conboy as Chocolate Hills. Released last year but missed by me until recently Chocolate Hills put out an album called A Pail Of Air, a gentle, dreamy, laid back and very early 90s affair. Bubbling synths, warm bass, ambient noise and found sound, and occasional voices dropped in discussing science, technology or strange happenings, often those plummy very English voices that pepper the early Orb records. As pleasant a way to spend some time as sitting on a gently sloping hillside in the sun in the summer with nothing much to do except enjoy the surroundings.

Reboot

Monday, 10 February 2020

Monday's Long Song


I found a copy of Steve Hillage's 1979 ambient album Rainbow Dome Music in the second hand record shop in Stretford recently, the forty one year old sleeve and vinyl in pretty much perfect condition and priced at just £8.00. The album is two long pieces of ambient music composed and played by Hillage and his partner Miquette Giraudy, using guitars, Fender Rhodes, ARP and Moog synths,a double sequencer and Tibetan bells. It was recorded specifically for the Mind- Body- Spirit festival at Olympia in London but its influence has lasted long after that. When Dr Alex Paterson of The Orb started off playing ambient house in the back rooms of London's acid house venues he'd have a copy of Rainbow Dome Music on one deck, some sound affects albums on the second (birdsong, voices) and the rhythm tracks on the third. The Orb and Steve Hillage would go on to work together after the man who made the music introduced himself to Paterson while he was DJing with a copy of Rainbow Dome Music. Hillage would go on to form his own 90s ambient house outfit, System 7. Rainbow Dome Music's influence on The Orb's own recordings is huge. I don't know if Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty had heard it but it seems reasonable to assume they had and to these ears there seems to be a fairly straight line between Rainbow Dome Music and The KLF's Chill Out. Less of a straight line maybe, more of a meandering, wandering, gently drifting line but definitely a line connecting the two.

Garden Of Paradise, side one, is almost twenty five minutes of ambient, pastoral, dreamscape- running water, ringing bells, organ notes, bleeps, synths and long keening sounds, delayed guitar notes, all stitched together carefully and seamlessly, lush and rich and pushed along by Giraudy's double sequencer.

Garden Of Paradise

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Not Even The Rain


A poetry inspired lyric from an album that is very much part of the background of The Charlatans back catalogue. Between 10th And 11th came out in March 1992, well after the first flush of their success with The Only One I Know and Some Friendly and when the Madchester wave had well and truly crashed and receded. Their second time in the sun would come in the wake of Oasis and Britpop with the 1995 self titled album and then Tellin' Stories. In between they seemed a little like a band lost, making two albums that underwhelmed slightly (at the time though they've grown in hindsight). The band had some combustible relationships, had seen the departure of one guitarist (Jon Baker) and the arrival of another (Rob Collins) and were fixed up with producer Flood. Between 10th And 11th had a really strong single, Weirdo, led by Rob Collins funky, wheezy organ, stop start dynamics and Tim Burgess delving a bit deeper with his lyrics. The whole group at this time gave the impression of wanting to be seen as more than just five figures shaking their fringes to The Only I Know and searching for a way forward- even the album's title suggests they were caught between back then and moving on.

The last song on the album is a hidden gem in their songbook and borrows a line and its title from poet E. E. Cummings, from one of his most famous poems, 'nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands'. Over crisp drums, a fine bassline and some swirly psyche from guitars and organ, the band whip up a slow burning groove. Flood's production is crisp and upfront, there's less of the murky stew the group had live, and Tim coos some stream of consciousness words through the reverb. Early 90s psychedelia from a band finding their way. Good stuff. 

'Why don't you say it again why don't you
Save me again I can't do anything
Not even the rain has such small hands'



(No One) Not Even The Rain

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Solitary Kolokol


One of my favourite albums of last year was GLOK's Dissident, Andy Bell's synth- led cosmische trip outside Ride, taking in ambient soundscapes, atmospheric waves of sound, throbbing bass and a touch of acid. One of the highlights of the album was Kolokol which has now been remixed by London- based French producer Franz Kirmann, who takes the Balearic bliss of the original and refashions it into something that could have been made by Orbital in their halcyon days first time around. You can buy it at Bandcamp for one British quid.



By way of return Andy Bell has taken one of Franz Kirmann's tracks from his album Madrapour (not heard it yet but will do and report back). The GLOK remix of Solitary is a ten minute exercise in post club comedown, little whirring, circling melodies and hissing noises, long washes of synth, building layers of sounds. Suddenly there's a breakdown at four minutes where it becomes a bit of a techno banger before then dissolving into something more abstract again- melancholic, expansive and outward looking. This will also set you back a mere single British pound. Eighteen minutes of music for less than the price of half a pint of beer.

Friday, 7 February 2020

The Wheel Keeps Turning


Since posting Massive Attack's 1991 single Unfinished Sympathy I've been listening to my fairly battered copy of Blue Lines and some of the 12" singles that surrounded it. There's no getting away from the brilliance of the album and especially it's final song, the whale sound, Buddhist, ecology trip hop/ ambient beauty of Hymn Of The Big Wheel. The heartbeat drum opens it, there's didgeridoo and then the sound envelopes the room before Horace Andy begins his wonderful, androgynous vocal. The lyric, a man talking to his child, about life and its cyclical nature, the weather, inequality, cities and factories, the sunset, the need to have one's soul mended. It's breathtaking stuff.

Nellee Hooper did a remix not too far removed from the album version but more breakbeat- led and with a heart stopping piano part. Co- written (and sung on uncredited) by Neneh Cherry, if you needed another reason to love it. They can play this at my funeral.

'The big wheel keeps on turning
On a simple line day by day
The earth spins on its axis
One man struggle while another relaxes'

Hymn Of The Big Wheel (Nellee Hooper Remix)


Thursday, 6 February 2020

Moonlight


Chris Carter- member of COUM and Throbbing Gristle, half of Chris And Cosey and Carter Tutti and a solo artist (and for good measure a man who designed and built his own electronic instruments, The Dirty Carter Experimental Sound Generating Instrument and The Gristleizer) is somebody who should be much more widely known than he is. His solo work from the 80s through to 2018's CCCL Vol. 1 is forward thinking, innovative, synth- led, electronic music, covering the whole gamut from industrial to electro- pop, from minimal new wave to EBM. His 1985 album Mondo Beat is a case in point, in parts accessible and in parts experimental. The opening track is Moonlight, a synth and drum machine classic- it starts out with noise and distortion but soon becomes more friendly, synth toplines and a chugging bassline, melodies winding and unwinding and propulsive, warm, mechanical rhythms. There are five more tracks on Mondo Beat, darker in places than Moonlight. Worth checking out. This being a Chris and Cosey enterprise the cover art features a close up of Cosey's rubber knickers.

Moonlight

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Dial Me In


Back in 2016 Factory Floor, then recently reduced to a duo, put out an album called 25 25, an eight track monster full of huge springy, squidgy basslines, modular synth noises, 303s and 808s, simple repeated vocal snatches- minimal but big. Precise, endlessly energetic, the sound of the night taking off and you just staying there in the exact centre of the floor and the sounds.

Dial Me In

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Andy Gill


Andy Gill died at the weekend aged 64. His guitar playing with Leeds based band Gang Of Four is worth a book in itself. His style, partly copped from Wilco Johnson but then fed through punk and funk, is a massive influence on loads of people who came after him and once heard cannot be forgotten. At one point, about fifteen years ago, I became obsessed with his playing on At Home He's A Tourist, a counterpoint to the impossibly funky bass- Gill's playing is an attack, choppy and grating and slashing, chords you can almost feel through the speakers. In his playing you can hear the violence of the punk scene, pub gigs in Leeds and the Marxist theory he encountered at Leeds University, the Frankfurt School and cultural studies. It all seems part of what made him sound like that. His refusal to play solos is also admirable.

At Home He's A Tourist

There are other songs by Gang Of Four that had a similar effect on me, that really got under my skin, in particular I Found That Essence Rare and To Hell With Poverty. I Found That Essence Rare, also off debut album Entertainment! is a song that takes in bikinis and the atom bomb tests, the tabloid press and politicians acting in their own interests over a coruscating guitar riff, Gill scrubbing his guitar as much as playing it, stripping the paint off it, feedback in place of a solo. To Hell With Poverty is ultra punk- funk with a line w have all been able to identify with at some point- 'to hell with poverty, let's get drunk on cheap wine'. In this clip Gang Of Four play it live on TV in 1981, an incendiary performance by true one- offs.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Monday's Long Song


One more ramble about politics and then I'll eave it for the time being. I'm sure most of you don't want to read another gloomy and pessimistic state of the nation blogpost but here it is anyway. I was pondering on Friday night as the clock counted down to 11pm that in the time since I've taken an interest in politics (sometime around 1983-4, the Falklands War and the miner's strike) that I can only remember celebrating a political/electoral win once, which was 1997 (obviously). We danced in the forecourt of the Conservative Club that night, drunk on beer and ousting the Tories after two decades of hard right rule. The Conservative Club was dark, they'd all long gone home but dancing in their empty car park was a victory, letting the light in. The sun shone the next day. But even the second win in 2001 didn't really seem like a victory more an expectation and a shrug. Every other election or vote has for me been a defeat. We seem to be reversing as a nation, the open, welcoming, liberal face the UK had in the 90s and 00s looks to have gone replaced by a nationalist, mean spirited, openly hostile one. It's not just politics. Work has been heavy recently too, more than just recently actually, heavy for some time- long hours, pressure, lots of top down stuff, low morale. Et fucking cetera. It all adds up doesn't it?

I've just read that back and very nearly deleted the whole thing- it's just more whinging and I'm not sure it helps. Blogging does lift the spirits and is by and large a positive medium. Writing snarky posts is easy, putting things down and slagging things off, and when done well it can be very funny but there's always Twitter for that. The spirit of music blogs has mainly been positive, enthusiastic and outward looking- listen to this, you might like it, I do, download it and then buy it somewhere. Try this one, for example, Water Woman by Kenneth Bager, a Danish DJ, musician and producer, the man behind the Music For Dreams label. In 2018 he released this ten minute beauty with vocals from Farafi, slow and ominous drums but then a parting of the clouds to let the sunshine in.



The B-side is a dubbed out version, opening with running water and FX, synths buzzing and then the thumping rhythm and a heady trip out.

No Water (Dub Mix)


Sunday, 2 February 2020

Music's Not For Everyone


Music's Not For Everyone, January 2020. Weatherall at the controls. Tracklist.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

National Shite Day


In this bold new world we are now living in, the bright sunlit uplands of Brexit Britain, it seems appropriate that we find a new national anthem, a song with a stirring tune that we can all sing together, a song with words that celebrate our newfound independence, a song where the people, all 52% of them, can all join in, put their arms around each other and raise their voices to the heavens... Nigel Farage, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees- Mogg, Anne Widdicombe, Ian Duncan Smith, Dominic Cummings, Michael Gove, Mark Francois, Dominic Raab and all the rest, this one is very much for you...

'Pulling the ice axe from my leg
I staggered on
Spindrift stinging my remaining eye
I finally managed to reach the station
Only to find the bus replacement service had broken down
After wondering to myself whether it should actually be called a train replacement service
I walked out onto the concourse and noticed the giant screen seemed to have been tampered with
Probably by a junior employee
Disgruntled commuters were being regaled with some dismal TVM
Involving a tug-of-love-custody-battle
Stockard Channing held sway

Down in the High Street somebody careered out of Boots without due care or attention
I suggest that they learn some pedestrian etiquette
I.e. sidle out of the store gingerly
Embrace the margin
Fat kids with sausage rolls
Poor sods conducting polls
There's a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets

I try to put everything into perspective
Set it against the scale of human suffering
And I thought of the Mugabe government
And the children of the Calcutta railways
This works for a while
But then I encounter Primark FM
Overhead a rainbow appears
In black and white


Shite Day
I guess this must be National Shite Day
This surely must be National Shite Day
Don't tell me, it's National Shite Day
Float... float on
Float... float on
Barry... Herpes
I got a letter from Stringy Bob
Still on suicide watch
Screws not happy
Spotted a Marsh Fritillary during association
Was roundly ignored
''What news you?''
I felt sorry for him
He'd only been locked up for public nuisance offences
One of which saw him beachcombing the Dee Estuary
Found a dead wading bird
Took it home, parcelled it up, and sent it off to the rubber-faced irritant Phil Cool
With a note inside which read: "Is this your Sanderling?"
                                

Another time saw him answering an advert in the music press
"Keyboard player required: Doors, Floyd, etc.
Must be committed, no time wasters"
You can guess the rest

I always imagined he would simply wander off some day into the hills
To be found months later
His carcass stripped by homeless dogs
His exposed skull a perch for the quartering crow
I folded away the letter and put it in my inside pocket
All of a sudden I felt brushed by the wings of something dark
May the Lord have mercy on Stringy Bob
Shite Day
I do believe it's National Shite Day
It all points to National Shite Day
Someone's declared it National Shite Day
Shite Day
My birthday! On National Shite Day
No bogroll, it's National Shite Day
Cue drumroll, it's National Shite Day'

National Shite Day

Still, blue passports eh?