Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Monday, 17 June 2019

Monday's Long Song

This is ten minutes of bliss from 2017, a Steve Cobby remix of a track from Tempelhof and Gigi Masin's Tsuki album. The song sets out at a leisurely pace with xylophone, synth strings and pattering drum pads and isn't in any kind of hurry to get anywhere.The vocal floats over the top, the words just so slightly indistinct that you can't quite make them out. If only the sun would come out and we didn't have to go to work, this would be the perfect way to start the week.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Shopping List

All those guitars this week have been good but they've left me wanting something more soothing for the weekend. Test Pressing is a website promoting all things Balearic, mainly the music and its attendant culture. It's here. If you dig around in the Mixes tab you'll find scores of downloadable mixes from the likes of Phil Mison, Leo Mas, Apiento, Gilles Peterson and Toby Tobias- more blissed out, chilled tunes than you can shake a flip flop at.

One that I've been enjoying has gone up very recently, an hour long mix called The Shopping List, tracks out in June 2019 that come with the Test Pressing recommendation. It's slowed down, electronic and dubby, experimental and ambient, available to listen to or download and very good indeed. There doesn't seem to be a way to embed it but you can find it here.


Saturday, 15 June 2019

Industrial Estate

Longley Lane runs from Northenden to Wythenshawe. Before you get to Sharston tip (sorry, Household Waste Recycling Centre) there is a sprawling industrial estate with some magnificent 1930s buildings, all still in use today. The one above is a gigantic concrete hanger, containing I don't knows what. I couldn't get the whole thing into one shot on my phone's camera but you can see the curve of the roof on the front well enough and the enormous windows down the side. If you like industrial architecture- and I'm sure some of you do- then this place is paradise. Those of a certain disposition will see or hear the words industrial estate and instantly hear this running in their head...

There, that's cleared your ears out hasn't it, The Fall back in 1979.

'Yeah, yeah, industrial estate
And the crap in the air will fuck up your face
Yeah, yeah, industrial estate
Boss can bloody take most of your wage'

On the main road is this building, currently occupied by Siltint Industries Ltd, brickwork all painted white, which I love beyond reason. 

Friday, 14 June 2019


The little girl in this photograph, our daughter Eliza, turns sixteen today (coincidentally also the day she takes her last GCSE exam). The toddler in The Clash t-shirt seems a long time ago now. In recent time honoured fashion she has booked a day ticket for the Leeds festival, a rite of passage for today's teenagers. Happy birthday Eliza- enjoy the physics exam and your last day at school.

For many years Eliza and her friend have gone to dance classes, joined the team and performed locally and at shows. I've often gone to pick them up in the car from the classes. On one occasion when they were both much younger I had Misty Waters by The Kinks playing on the car CD player. They latched onto it and started singing along. It then became a thing, playing Misty Waters and all of us belting it out on the drive back from dance. We were still doing it a few weeks ago.

Recorded by The Kinks in 1968 Misty Waters was an outtake- an outtake!- that failed to make it onto either Four Well Respected Gentlemen or The Village Green Preservation Society and only turned up much later on The Great Lost Kinks Album.

Misty Waters 

Amps cranked up and at double the speed, Billy Childish and The Buff Medways covered the song for their 2000 album Steady The Buffs, about the time I started to get into Wild Billy Childish and his enormous back catalogue.

Misty Water

Thursday, 13 June 2019

This Searing Light

I have recently read Jon Savage's book about Joy Division- This Searing Light, The Sun And Everything Else: Joy Division: The Oral History. When I first heard about it I wasn't sure an oral history, constructed from interviews old and new, was what I wanted from a Joy Division book by Jon Savage, one of the best writers of his generation. What I wanted was Jon's writing, his thoughts and words, his insights. But within pages of starting the book I was realised I was wrong- the selection of quotes from interviews, the perspectives of the participants and eye witnesses, is exactly the way the story of Joy Division should be told. Some of the excerpts and quotes are familiar, from the Joy Division documentary from 2007, from interviews and articles I've read elsewhere. Some are taken from reviews and contemporary music press accounts. Some are new. The genius of Jon's assemblage of the quotes is in the constant forward momentum of the story, told from within the band and from outside it, and the way he manages to make time shift. Clearly we all know the ending and some of the passages are from interviews with Sumner, Hook and Morris talking now about then, but despite them having the benefit of hindsight the book has a real immediacy, as if events are unfolding in front of your eyes. The shifting focus from one person to another, with interviews conducted at different points between 1978 and 2018, is really well done. The final few chapters, hurtling into 1980 and Ian's increasing issues with his epilepsy and the side effects of the medication, the ongoing situation with Ian, Deborah Curtis and Annik Honore and the sense within the group that they should stop and give Ian a rest- while at the same time they're making Transmission, Atmosphere, Dead Souls, Closer and Love Will Tear Us Apart- is brilliantly portrayed, heartrendingly so as the whirlpool sucks Ian further into it, and the loss of control by all involved. If you have any interest in the Joy Division story or the music they made, I can't recommend it enough.

Fittingly, for a group so defined by the graphic presentation of the art and the beauty of Peter Saville's work, it is a superbly put together book too, from the shiny reflective cover with the book title in the font used for Closer and grainy band photo, to the selection of gig shots and posters. There are a pair of quotes placed at the end of two of the chapters that are genuinely breathtaking, that make you stop, turn back a few pages and read again, so that the quote comes at you once more- one is from Tony Wilson, that gives the book its title (you should buy it, read it and enjoy that moment yourself). The other is from Annik Honore where she says 'They made [the music] very naturally... and that's why it was so good, because they were not self-conscious about it. I think it was coming from deep within them... it was spontaneous, it was not calculated, you know, not artificial; they had the light, the spirit.' For a group that lasted only a couple of years and wrote and recorded no more than eighty songs, that had an enormous impact on those around them and in their audience at the time- Annik's quote goes some way toward explaining their particular brilliance.

In 1978, before Factory existed, Joy Division got some studio time from RCA (who had an office in Manchester at the time). The session didn't go very well and they almost walked out. It was suggested that they record a cover of version of N.F. Porter's northern soul classic Keep On Keeping On. Hooky says they could never do covers, they never turned out well, they couldn't work out the parts, but in this case they kept the guitar riff which became Interzone. It would be one of the ten songs that became Unknown Pleasures, recorded in Stockport's Strawberry Studios with Martin Hannett in 1979. Hooky and Bernard hated Unknown Pleasures. Hannett took away their aggressive, punky live sound and made it something else, something with space and atmosphere and a doomy sense of things going wrong. Everyone else loved it. The rest, as they always say, is history.

Keep On Keeping On


Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Colours In The Air

While looking for something else I found a CD I'd forgotten I owned- Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977- 1991. It's a compilation of songs recorded and produced by Hannett, from Boredom by Buzzcocks onward. Zero is a really good compilation, even with U2's presence, showing the range and depth of Hannett's talents and the importance of the man to the sound of some key bands. The final song on the CD is World Of Twist's 1991 cover of She's A Rainbow and it struck me that this week's posts were developing a cover versions theme and that I should go with the flow.

World Of Twist are much missed in some corners not least round here- they got pulled along in the early 90s Manchester slipstream but didn't really fit in with the sound or the look. Their cover of She's A Rainbow was originally a B-side to their debut single The Storm and then re-appeared in 1992 in various guises and with remixes as the record label attempted to get a hit and some sales. The version here was one of the last songs Hannett worked on before his death in April 1991 aged just 41. In a way She's A Rainbow was one of World Of Twist's less interesting songs, a pretty straight cover version and it doesn't really show Hannett's peculiar production genius especially either. But it's fun and fits in with the group's aesthetic.

She's A Rainbow

Hannett lost five years in the 80 to heroin addiction and the groundbreaking productions he did in the late 70s and early 80s especially with the Factory bands- Joy Division, New Order, Durutti Column, Section 25, ACR- was well behind him and unlikely to be equalled (although he really pulled it out of the bag with Bummed).

The original of She's A Rainbow was on The Rolling Stones 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request, a lightweight, pretty tune, sing-song psychedelia with la la la backing vocals, Nicky Hopkins on piano and some Brian Jones Mellotron. A most un-Stonesy single and song, coming at a mid-point between Paint It Black and Jumping Jack Flash.

She's A Rainbow

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Strange You Never Knew

Out in town on Saturday night we ended up in a pub at the northern end of the city centre with a decent selection of music playing. Mazzy Star's 1994 single played, the sort of song that can silence a pub- it didn't silence us, we discussed the various attractions of the song and its singer.

Fade Into You

Lovely isn't it? Acoustic guitar, a slide guitar part, a lazy drumbeat and Hope Sandoval's wondrous, hazy vocal. A song that is is much more than the sum of its parts, its all about the playing, the performance and the dust and heat that it evokes. Deserts and lust and suchlike.

In 2013 J Mascis recorded a cover version which is pretty wonderful in its own right, twin acoustic guitars and J's cracking, weathered voice.

Fade Into You