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Sunday, 5 February 2023

Forty Minutes Of One Dove

After last week's Dot Allison mix I thought I should go back to the source and do a One Dove mix. One Dove's album Morning Dove White was finally released in October 1993 after a year of hold ups and wranglings about whose mixes and which versions should be on the final record, Stephen Hague's radio friendly sheen or Andrew Weatherall's lengthy dubby productions. We all know what history tells us about those kind of arguments. I bought it and played it a lot, an album that can transport me back to the flat I lived in then with a friend and the times we spent listening to it, the smell and hum of the gas fire, the ashtray filling up with cigarette butts. It sound-tracked our post- club arrivals back home, the winter of 1993- 94, a couple of break ups, us making our way into adult jobs, all that kind of stuff. I've listened to it ever since, an album that continues to give alternately shivers and a warm glow. Weatherall's production, on the back of Screamadelica, is expansive, restless, superbly chilled out but warped too and oddly timeless. The moody/ elegiac songs of Dot Allison, Jim McKinven and Ian Carmichael were clearly good to start with but once Weatherall and Hugo Nicolson got into the studio and began working on them they went somewhere else, sprinkled with the magic dust of the early 90s. Stephen Hague's mixes are possibly a little too shiny in places (and kept mainly for the CD version) but the vinyl is an album to rank alongside the best of the 90s. I once said here, many years ago, that it was brilliant but felt slightly flawed, like there was something missing. I'm not sure what that was or what I meant now. The album's cast included Weatherall's Sabres Of Paradise mates Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner, Jah Wobble's bass on There Goes The Cure, Phil Mossman (Sabres guitarist and future member of LCD Soundsystem) and Primal Scream's Andrew Innes. It's never been re- issued on vinyl. Copies on Discogs are currently starting at £80. Mine is most definitely not for sale. 

Putting together a One Dove mix without just sequencing a bunch of songs from Morning Dove White pointed me towards the remixes and B-sides. I couldn't find room on this mix for either Weatherall's majestic dubbed out odyssey, Breakdown (Squire Black Dove Rides Out) or their spaced out cover of Jolene- a second forty minute mix should happen at some point- and there are several Sabres remixes of Transient Truth not included below, the mighty Old Toys and Old Toys Dub are both stunners. The ten minute Guitar Paradise version of White Love looks like a glaring omission too. And if Fallen feels little like it was just tacked onto the end, then that's because it was. I just couldn't not include it in one version or another.

Forty Minutes Of One Dove

  • Why Don't You Take Me
  • Skanga
  • Transient Truth (Squelch Mix)
  • Transient Truth (Death Of A Disco Dancer)
  • Why Don't You Take Me (Underworld Remix)
  • Fallen (Nancy And Lee Mix) 7" Edit
Why Don't You Take Me is from Morning Dove White and was a single in December 1993, the now London Records owned Boy's Own label putting it out as the third single from the album and hoping for a hit. The Glaswegian dub reggae of Skanga was a B-side (along with Jolene, not included here). 

Transient Truth was also from Morning Dove White and released as an official 12" (with the Old Toys mixes) and a white label promo, both in 1992. The white label contained four Sabres Of Paradise remixes of the song, the two included here plus the Paradise Mix and the Sabres Fuzz Dub. I've no idea if the Death Of A Disco Dancer remix is a reference to The Smiths song of the same name. 

Underworld's remixes of Why Don't You Take Me are both up there with their best from the period, released on double blue vinyl along with a Secret Knowledge remix. Underworld's Up  2 Down remix is a long thumper. The one I've included here is dubbed out Underworld style and is magnificent. 

Fallen is where the One Dove story starts, Dot's breathless vocal and the ambient/ dub/ acid house music initially built around a Supertramp sample which led to legal action and the offending harmonica  being removed. Weatherall's remix for the 12" came with the title Nancy And Lee Mix, which sent many of us scurrying back to our parent's record collections looking for Sinatra and Hazlewood albums and singles. The version here is an edited one from a  February1992 7" single and I include just because it's such a great song it can even survive having four minutes chopped off it. 

Looking at all of the tracks I've left off this I think part two may have to come sooner rather than later. 


Saturday, 4 February 2023

Saturday Live

The Clash live at Le Palace in Paris, 27th February 1980, a one off gig specially arranged for French TV, a programme produced by  the legendary Antoine de Caunes- from The Clash to Eurotrash. The opening sequence and titles for the French TV programme Chorus are worth watching in themselves, rapid fire animation, scratching and cut and paste snatches of punk and reggae songs, all so 1980 it's like the last forty three years haven't happened. Then blamm! Joe and the boys power into Koka Kola, Joe in fine voice and Mick's guitar squealing over the heavyweight rumble of bass and drums, with Mickey Gallagher's keyboards, stage right behind Paul.Without a pause they steam into I Fought The Law and they sound great, thrillingly alive and on it. London Calling was at this point a new release, it came out just two months previously and the songs were new and fresh. 

Joe's pidgeon French patter between songs, a brief bit of respite from playing at one thousand miles an hour, is fun- 'maintenant, woaghaghwoa' he says, introducing Spanish Bombs, and then, 'very good, tres bien mes amis, fuckin' tres bien... maintenant Wrong 'Em Boyo mate'. The French crowd are understandably enthusiastic, crammed right up against the lip of the stage, no barriers or photographer's pit in 1980. 

It goes without saying that a band is only as good as it's drummer. Topper here is, as Sandy Pearlman said, a human drum machine. The front three, the Best, Law and Charlton of punk, step back and forth from the mics, instinctively doing vox and backing vox, switching places, Mick going centre stage for Stay Free, Paul leather trousers and splayed legs, Fender Precision bass worn low. They knew exactly when to gather together and when to step apart.

Janie Jones takes everyone back to 1977 and is followed by Topper's drum intro to a white hot Complete Control, then Garageland and Tommy Gun. The set here, half an hour long for French TV, is a truncated version of the full gig. It's been released on DVD in Australia and New Zealand but not here (as far as I know). There were four songs played that night that precede the ones played above- Jimmy Jazz, London Calling, Protex Blue and Train In Vain, but they don't seem to be Youtube at the moment. It doesn't really matter, the nine we have here are the real thing (and in many ways better than the official Clash live recordings available over the years. The Shea Stadium CD was OK but was post- Topper and Westway To The World was a live compilation recorded at various gigs between 1977 and 1983 with some great performances and recordings but not one single night with the band). Watch this for half an hour today and marvel- this band once existed in real time, playing these gigs in real life to paying customers for a couple of quid (or the 20 francs it cost get into the Le Palace that night).

Friday, 3 February 2023

The People Say

I was on strike on Wednesday. No one, especially teachers (or nurses or ambulance crews or any public sector workers), takes the decision to withdraw their labour lightly but sometimes you have to take a stand and say 'no more'. I attended a demo and march in Manchester city centre, a very well attended event and as we marched round town in the rain passersby, people working in offices and even those stuck on trams (who couldn't move because of the march), were waving, clapping and shouting encouragement. 

Steve Mason's new single, The People Say, is a joyous and uplifting song- an indie/ folk/ gospel hybrid with a lovely electronic squiggle underpinning it- in praise of those who push to make the world better, in his own words 'a rallying call'. 'I heard the people say/ Where's the beautiful fight today?' Steve sings, while the video plays drone footage of a union march, so it fits nicely with my week. 

The album The People Say is taken from, titled Brothers And Sisters, is out in March. I always know what Steve Mason albums are going to be like. I've bought all four solo albums and saw him live when he toured to promote the previous one, 2019's About The Light. Somehow I missed the first song from the forthcoming one, which came out two months ago. No More features guest vocals from Javed Bashir and is about imperialism, colonialism and the cultures of the countries the UK invaded and colonised over the course of the last few hundred years. 

Both songs have the sound Steve has made his own since he turned up in The Beta Band in the 90s, the crunchy drums, acoustic guitars, multi- tracked vocals and ascending chord sequences. Not one to shy away from the big themes and the big issues Brothers And Sisters is described by Steve as a big 'fuck you' to Brexit and a 'giant fuck you to anyone who is terrified of immigration'. 

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Full Moon

My second run of collaborative posts with reader Spencer continues today, the third part for 2023 following last week's lo- fi 1990 psychedelia courtesy of Woo and the previous week's song by either Brian Eno or Cindy D'Lequez Sage, the song that plays over the closing titles of The Lovely Bones. This week's takes the gentleness trippiness of Woo's song and the slightly spooked atmospherics of Cindy/ Brian's are delves even further into the cosmos although it predates both by decades. 

Full Moon is new to me, and already a firm favourite. Recorded in 1960 the song opens with some gently played piano and some glockenspiel, somewhere in the region of what in record shops today is put in the Exotica/ Library/ Weird Stuff section. It could be from a shelved Disney film created by some proto- hippy cartoonists and musicians when everyone else has gone home. The chords and notes shift slightly, a minor key melody with some very faint brushed drums and bongos. ' To live in an old shack by the sea/ And breathe the sweet slat air', the voice begins, close to the microphone and laced with a little echo, 'going on to describe the joys of getting away from it all- from life in Eisenhower's hyper- consumerist and conformist America at the dawn of the 60s, that decade's long, strange trip yet to unfold. 

The voice belongs to Eden Ahbez and he goes on, 'to know the thrill of loneliness and lose all sense of time and be free'. Nothing happens much but Full Moon is moving places slowly, Eden describing a life outdoors away from society 'in the evening when the sky is on fire/ heaven and earth become my cathedral/ all men are brothers'. He goes on, wanting to 'dream the dream that the dreamers dream' and then casually and in a calm and understated way says 'I am the wind, the sea, the evening star... I am everyone, anyone, no- one', (in a way that reminds me of San Pedro's punk heroes Minutemen, weirdly, given they play at twice the speed of Eden's song and two decades later). The word Spencer used to describe Full Moon was enchanting and I can't find one better. 

Full Moon

Eden Ahbez's album, The Music Of An Enchanted Isle came out in 1960, a much sought after record now. Eden was born George Alexander Aberle, a songwriter in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. He was very much a proto- hippy, living a very bohemian lifestyle in California, wearing sandals and robes and growing his hair and beard long way before the counter culture kids did it. For a while he camped behind the letter L in the Hollywood sign. He often slept outdoors with his family, and lived on fruit, nuts and vegetables. When stopped by the police once he told them, 'I may look crazy but I'm not. And the funny thing is that other people don't look crazy but they are'. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Water


John Medd is the author of the Are We There Yet?, a blog I have been visiting for years, a treasure trove of music, photography, art, reports on travels and adventures and slices of life. John has set himself the target of using the first post of each month in 2023 to set himself a photography challenge. On 1st January he went for numbers and posted three photos all depicting the number one (here). He sent me a message to ask if I'd like to join in and I said I would. February's theme is water. The water above is the reservoir at Rivington Pike, part of the West Pennine Moors near Bolton and Chorley (although it could easily in that picture be part of a Scandi- noir or gothic horror. Don't go into the woods. Or near the reservoir). 

Despite being inland we're blessed with water round here although it's fairly industrial in nature. I thought for John's water themed first of the month post I'd give you a short tour of the waterways we have near us. The Manchester ship canal runs from not far north of here to meet the Mersey and then onto Liverpool, the gateway to the world during the Industrial Revolution. Again to the north of us, a short walk away, is one of Manchester's three rivers, the Mersey. We can walk along the Mersey in either direction. Heading east the river runs to its source in Stockport, disappearing under the Mersey shopping centre. The point shown here is under the M60 near Northenden. 

Manchester's other two great rivers are the Irwell and the Medlock. This is the Medlock as it runs through the southern edge of the city centre, the dirty old town of legend caught on camera. 


This is the Irwell running past Peel Park in Salford, behind the university, a point where the river is wide and slow. Historically it marks the boundary between Manchester and Salford. It runs west where it feeds into the ship canal. The picture here was taken last September, when everything was a bit greener than it is now.


Half a mile to our east we have the Bridgewater Canal, an extension of the first canal in the world (which can be found at Worsley) built by the Duke of Bridgewater to transport his coal to Castlefield to sell. The Industrial Revolution was born there, Manchester's entire reason for being kick started by coal (and then cotton). Today the canal seems pretty clean and is used by narrow boats. When I walk down the towpath I often wonder about the pleasures and drawbacks of living on a narrow boat (storing thousands of records and books being the chief drawback). This photo is also from last summer. 


Today's water theme gives me a chance to extend my recent immersion into the world of Underworld in the 90s. In 1993 they remixed William Orbit's Water From A Vine Leaf, an epic track even before Darren Emerson got his hands on it. Part 1 is twelve minutes long, massive chunky drums and a synth horn sample, the bassline coming to the fore at points and then the piano riff leading the way. In the second half the piano becomes a tinkling topline, Beth Orton's vocal appears and it's all very much perfect 90s progressive house. 


Part 2 starts out slow, Beth's voice chopped up and a stuttering synth part dropping in and out. Gradually it slips into a groove, the elements building up in layers, Karl Hyde's guitar on top, but it's a very chilled and dubbed out affair

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Polar Bears

Ride and The Charlatans began a double header tour of North America yesterday, the two bands swapping headlining duties each night. Pet Shop Boys and New Order did a similar thing last year, as did Suede and Manic Street Preachers. I can see the attraction for the bands- split the costs, shift more tickets, play slightly shorter sets without the pressure to be top of the bill every night. For the fans too, it's a winner- in the combinations mentioned here there can't be many people who'd pay to see one of the bands without even the slightest interest in seeing the other. If Ride and The Charlatans want to repeat it over here, I'm definitely in. They played together back in the early 90s, a tour of seaside towns billed as the Daytripper tour (I say tour, it may have Brighton and Blackpool only). 

Back in 1990 both bands released their debut albums, The Charlatans Some Friendly in October and Ride's Nowhere a week later. Both albums had songs titled Polar Bear too. I think I remember reading somewhere that the bands became aware each other were writing songs titled Polar Bear and both went ahead, finding some kinship in it. 

The Charlatans' Polar Bear was a live favourite, the group having built up a fanatical following following the release of debut single Indian Rope. It chugs in on funky guitar and organ, a distorted woodwind topline snaking around for two minutes before Tim steps up to the mic, voice quite low in the swirly mix, singing about  a girl who's 'freezing to death with no clothes on/ She doesn't know what day it is', the song bubbling up for the line, 'I've never had one of those'. The verse, 'Life's a bag of revels/ I'm looking for the orange one', was a fan favourite, inspiring a fanzine and oft quoted in reviews in the music press. Later on Tim gets more oblique, 'Have you seen my polar bear?/ It's the white thing over there'. Polar Bear split opinions in the group, some thinking they didn't do the song justice and overproduced it, others wanting it to be a single. In the end, with Martin Blunt threatening to quit if it was the next single, they put out The Only One I Know instead which would seem retrospectively to be the correct decision. 

Polar Bear

Ride's Polar Bear was the last song on side one of their debut, a Mark Gardener written song, and also has lines about an unnamed girl. 'She knew she was able to fly', Mark sings, 'Because when she came down/ She had dust on her hands from the sky/ She said I touched a cloud'. The guitars are a squall of noise, the drums and guitars grinding their way forward through the intro. The second verse contains one of my favourite Ride lines, the sort of line only a nineteen year old can get away with, one of those profound middle of the night thoughts that seem daft in daylight, stoned silliness- 'Why should it feel like a crime?/ If I want to be with you all the time?/ Why is it measured in hours?/ You should make your own time'. We should all make our own time eh? I might do it today.  

Polar Bear


Monday, 30 January 2023

Monday's Long Song: Tom Verlaine

 
Tom Verlaine died at the weekend aged seventy three. We are into an age of loss, where the people we grew up listening to and who have been part of our musical lives for the last three or four decades, are passing on. Tom Verlaine made many fine albums as a solo artist and Television's second album, Adventure (released in 1978), has lots to commend it, the songs are frequently magnificent but when all's said and done, Tom Verlaine's legend comes down to Marquee Moon. 

I can understand that for some artists/ writers/ film makers, the creation of a song/ album/ book/ film that shifts the entire pop culture, that defines the zeitgeist, that is an absolute solid gold ten out of ten piece of art, and that inspires countless others to follow in your footsteps, can be a millstone. It becomes a thing you cannot live up to and are forever judged against. But, looking back, a couple of days after Tom has died...  Tom Verlaine wrote Marquee Moon. And Tom Verlaine (and Fred Smith, Billy Ficca and Richard Lloyd) made Marquee Moon.

Marquee Moon was recorded in 1976 and came out in 1977. I didn't hear it then- I was only six and six year olds don't tend to have much interest in twin guitar art rock, garage punk from New York. I first heard it in the late 80s. I was a huge fan of Talking Heads who came from the CBGBs scene that Television invented and at some point an NME article or interview or book would have nudged me in Marquee Moon's direction. I bought it on cassette, it was cheap, one of those £4.49 Nice Price albums in Our Price or HMV. It blew me away. The first side alone is worth the entry fee, the clanging chords and rush of See No Evil, the street poetry of Venus and the line, 'I fell right into the arms of Venus de Milo', the rush and layered guitar lines of Friction and then the ten minute trip of the title track. 

Marquee Moon

Marquee Moon opens with those jagged guitar slashes countered with the little trebly riff and the warm bubbling bassline. Then Tom starts singing, 'I remember how the darkness doubled/ I recall how lightning struck itself'. The song unfolds, the guitars themselves lyrical, guitar lines that rise and fall and sing. Meanwhile Tom continues with his acid story- 'I spoke to man down at the tracks/ He said look here junior don't you be too happy/ And for heaven's sake don't you be too sad' and then later there are Cadillacs pulling out of graveyards, the kiss of death and the embrace of life, and other mysterious, poetic lines coupled with New York cool- 'I ain't waiting, uh uh'. Tom's guitar flies off for several minutes half way through, somewhere between rock 'n' roll and avant jazz (and nowhere near what punk sounded like during the rest of 1977) and the lines rise and rise, ever higher, drums crashing behind them, reaching a clanging crescendo before collapsing into some piano notes... and then the breakdown. Billy Ficca's drums come back in and the guitar slashes return and Tom is wailing again, 'I remember how the darkness doubled... I was listening to the rain'. When it finally fades out at ten minutes you're left thinking they'll pick it up again and it will carry on, the guitars and drums looping forever. 

This alternate version was added to a CD re- issue in 2003. By this point I'd replaced my cassette copy with a vinyl one and then bought the CD too. It's very similar to the one that they chose for the album, some slightly different parts to the solos and slightly longer. The way Tom and Richard play together on Marquee Moon, their guitars wrapping around each other, Tom's Fender doing this while Richard's does that, woven together, countering each other and playing off and with each other, is a magical, a form of alchemy. 'I remember how the darkness doubled/ I recall how lightning struck itself'. R.I.P Tom Verlaine. 

Marquee Moon (Alternate Version)