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Sunday 30 November 2014

Johnny Favourite

Drew's post on Friday of David Holmes' My Mate Paul put me in mind of his epic debut single (Holmes' not Drew's), Johnny Favourite, a fifteen minute progressive house stomp (done with Sabresmen Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns).

Johnny Favourite is named after a missing singer in the 1987 film Angel Heart. In the film Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel, a private detective hired by Louis Cypher (geddit), to find the singer. In the Deep South he runs into all kinds of trouble- Robert de Niro peeling hard-boiled eggs, southern horror, the beautiful Lisa Bonet and some very messy voodoo...

I haven't seen Angel Heart for years. I remember it as having atmosphere and tension. I'd like to see if it still stands up. Holmes' track does.

Saturday 29 November 2014


Something new on the net from Frank Ocean- everyone's saying it's his first work for two years but they seem to be forgetting Hero with Diplo, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones from earlier this year. The song (fragment might be more accurate) is pretty low key and under two minutes long. It opens with distorted, phased backing, sounding like someone's playing it on a laptop next door. Frank's staccato vocals add to the disorientation. Then there's some Stevie Wonder electric piano and singing, smoothing things out. Intriguing.

Friday 28 November 2014

The Return Of Friday Night Is Rockabilly Night 161

A charming MTV feature from the 80s on the then rockabilly revival with interviews from The Stray Cats, The Blasters and The Rockats and a not-at-all-basic guise to rockabilly. For added 80s-ness it's been uploaded from VHS, complete with tracking lines and squiggles. And MTV was a music channel back then- imagine that!

It has been a very long week, more like a fortnight really, and quite intense. Get a round in someone- I'll get the next one.

Talking In Tones

This limited edition single from The Charlatans came out at the end of September. It doesn't scream single at you but it's very good, a lovely tune that sticks in the memory, touched with melancholy. It's good to see a band as long in the tooth as they are, who could just give in to the heritage circuit, still doing something new and quite different from the sound of their glory days. The band have a new album out in January, their first since the death of drummer Jon Brookes.

What's that you say? The video's a bit shit?

Thursday 27 November 2014

Today On This Programme You Will Hear...

Greg Wilson is a dj legend and famously the Hacienda's first dance music dj. He is also said to be the first British man to mix live on TV (on The Tube). He took a long sabbatical in 1983 but has been back since 2003 playing disco, electro funk, house, dance music generally, around the world.

This Greg Wilson edit of 808 State's Pacific State contains that Jesse Jackson sample that Weatherall used for his Come Together remix. Some wag said that Pacific State is just Stranger On The Shore for the E generation but it's easy to be sniffily reductionist about things. This record is a club classic and still has the ability to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.

Greg Wilson's Soundcloud page, with edits, mash ups and dj mixes, is here. You could pick your way through it for days and still not play it all. His blog Being A DJ is here.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Covered Wagon Medicine Show

Medicine Show was/is one of Big Audio Dynamite's best songs- one of the best singles of the 1980s if you ask me- and a show of post-Clash songwriting  and production strength from Mick. Six minutes of choppy guitar riffs, drum machines, spaghetti Western samples triggered from Don Letts' keyboards and proper funny lyrics. It sounds like good fun and was innovative too. The United States got a different version, or at least a remix. I don't know why- it doesn't sound especially American or FM radio, the guitar riff is chopped up a bit and song has less of a flow than the original. Of interest to the completists among you (and thanks to Dubrobots).

Medicine Show (U.S. Remix)

Tuesday 25 November 2014


                                                   Salvador Dali by Man Ray, 1934

This is good, discovered and shared via two internet friends a few days ago. A lovely bass-led dubby deep house track (with a great acid bleep and whooshes), from Leftside Wobble. Nice vocal too. Listening to it makes me feel young again, despite physical evidence to the contrary.

Monday 24 November 2014

My Life Ain't No Holiday

I'm posting this for no reason other than I chanced upon it on Youtube over the weekend and it follows on from yesterday's post. Technique is my favourite New Order album. Maybe because it was released in 1989 and that year was just right time, right place for me. Power, Corruption And Lies has innovation and Lowlife has brilliance but there's something about Technique that is spot on- every note is in exactly the right place, it has the perfect mix of late 80s Ibiza, Mancunian dance and rock, Bernard's most personal lyrics and that superb acid cherub cover. This song is as good as any of the other eight and this TV performance on Big World Cafe shows how good they could be, back when they pretended to like each other (cheers PBH for that line). The show also promises Belgian New Beat and Mariella Frostrup.

Sunday 23 November 2014


At 7.37 am sixteen years ago today our first child, Isaac, was born. He had breathing difficulties from the start and spent the first two weeks of his life in hospital, two hospitals actually, in the special care baby unit and then maternity. He ended up spending a lot more time in hospital over the following years. At eight months he was diagnosed with a serious genetic disease, Hurler's disease, following a series of problems- deafness, hernias and then hydrocephalus. Before the age of two he had several operations and two bone marrow transplants, one of which nearly did for him. He has lived with many serious health issues and some severe special needs. In 2008, due a very weakened immune system, he contracted meningitis and survived. A very long operation to straighten his back was delayed by the meningitis and then some months later done successfully. Three years ago he had a cochlear implant which has changed his life, opening up a new world of sound to him. Funnily, a lot of this stuff I'm describing here seems like a long time ago- chronologically and in other ways too.

This list of medical issues and procedures only partly defines him and us. There's no denying it is and has been very difficult at times and that more troubles probably lie ahead. But almost everyone who meets him and gets pinned down for a chat leaves feeling happier. He knows far more people than I do. He makes friends wherever he goes. He has endless reserves and goes on where many others would just take to their beds and stay there.

So, turning sixteen today is a big deal in lots of ways.

Run Wild

Run Wild was a late addition to New Order's 2001 comeback album Get Ready. The tune is lovely, acoustic guitars and melodica and a sweet tune. Unusually the lyrics were written by Stephen (not Bernard), written for his and Gillian's seriously ill daughter. It's always struck a chord with me.

Saturday 22 November 2014

In The Heat Of The Remix

Here's a remix us Weatherall heads may not have seen coming- an eight minute reworking (with Balearic bells on) of Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. Noel's vocal contribution is restricted to one line through a megaphone four minutes in after a long build up- the rest is in pure Weatherall remix territory with a massive bassline (looped from the original track presumably), some lovely hi-hats and arpeggio action, and those bells clanging out. I'd imagine Noel might approve of this, having mispent some of his youth in the Hacienda. Noel often comes across as a witty interviewee, good fun over a few pints. But I think he mislaid all his decent tunes somewhere in the mid 90s and hasn't managed to relocate them since. If you want to see the bewilderment of some of the more conservative end of Noel's fanbase, look at the comments on the Youtube post. For the rest of us, a bit of a treat.

Friday 21 November 2014

Some Feedback

The Jesus And Mary Chain came on stage last night and announced they would play the encore first, then go off for a few minutes and return to play Psychocandy. They then launched into April Skies, Head On and Some Candy Talking, all crystal clear and fine, William's guitar twice as loud as everything else put together, the occasional missed note or out of tune string not mattering a jot. Two more songs later they ramped up the noise with an massive version of Reverence. Two minutes and a bit after that they were off- having played Upside Down, loud and drenched in squealing feedback.

A brief public information film from the early 60s projected onto the stage wall advertised the pleasures of moving to East Kilbride and they reappeared with Just Like Honey. Then we got the rest of Psychocandy. The projections (biker gangs, Super 8 home video footage), strobes and dry ice splashed all over the stage, added some visual drama. There isn't much to look at with The Mary Chain- five middle aged men dressed in black not moving much, apart from Jim occasionally lifting the mic stand up. At some reunion gigs you get a communion between band and audience, a mass singalong, arms around shoulders, joy at hearing songs you thought you'd never hear live again, beery good times, nostalgia. The Screamadelica shows were a joyous celebration. Not here. Psychocandy is an album about alienation and while the audience weren't alienated, we stood and watched, apart from some sporadic moshing down the front. This was noise, feedback, earsplittingly loud, with Jim's vocals and the melodies sneaking through the distortion, like in You Trip Me Up. The Living End and The Hardest Walk, garage riffs with a wall of ringing noise. As the band left the stage, William's guitar bleeding loudly against his amp, Game Over, in 80s video game graphics, flashed up and down the back wall. Still alive, still kicking. Game Over.

Paris, Upside Down, a few nights ago.

Like A Vir...shhh

This Madonna song caused a bit of a stir in the school yards of the mid-80s when it was released- use of the word 'virgin' (snigger snigger). Teenage Fanclub covered it in 1991, quite fantastically, smothered in acres of beautiful distortion with sleepy vocals. When JC posted it a good while back at The Vinyl Villain it gained a takedown notice from the DMCA. When he re-posted it much later, he would not even name the song for fear of attracting the attention of the internet police. Sneaky, unnamed and hush hush. You ain't seen me right.

Like A Secret

Thursday 20 November 2014

Just Like Honey

Tonight, six months after paying for the tickets, I'm going to see the Jesus And Mary Chain play live, Psychocandy and related songs, at Manchester Academy. It's twenty-nine years since Jim and William Reid released the album, one of the key albums of underground British 'rock' (rock seems like the wrong word somehow- this isn't rock, it's shattering glass or something similar). I've been looking forward to this and while it can't replicate mid-80s JAMC and I'm not sure I'm that much in favour of bands playing albums in their entirety (just play what you want, or play all the hits)- I love 'em.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Like A Rolling Stone

The daddy of all the 'Like A ...' songs is Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, one of those songs that tops lists and thoroughly deserves to,a man moving ahead of the art form, faster than all the others. A six minute long 7" single, with a whip crack start, amphetamine energy, wired organ and some of the best lyrics ever- crazy poetic verses and sneering, questioning choruses. Dylan's version is the original and definitive. 1960s mods The Creation had a go, a little polite with the backing but a decent stab I suppose.

Like A Rolling Stone

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Like A Daydream

I was not knocked out completely by Ride, Creation's floppy haired and long sleeved t-shirt shoegazers. The guitars usually sounded good- although they never got anywhere near My Bloody Valentine's fx swirl but they got compared to them by the NME often enough. I bought their first ep, the one with the red roses on the cover and then dipped in and out, often via other people. It was the vocals that put me off, too self-consicously fey and flimsy, and their lyrics seemed like an afterthought as well. But this song, happily for this run of posts, is a good one. Clanging guitars, manic drumming, youthful excitement captured.

Monday 17 November 2014

Like An Inca

From the late 90s through to the mid 2000s I listened to a lot of Neil Young. I'd got Harvest and After The Goldrush around 1987/88 and then went through most of his albums a few years later. I still love some of them but don't play him that often anymore. Trans, from 1982, is one of his more bizarre records (from a man who it is fair to say, had a bad 80s). Trans was mainly recorded using synthesizers and keyboards and most of the album uses a vocoder on the vocals too. Young was exploring electronic music at the time, especially Kraftwerk. The thing is, many of the songs sound like guitar songs but played on synths- rather than songs written specifically on and for synths. Young later said he was putting into place a therapy programme with his son Ben (born with cerebral palsy and unable to speak). The vocoder was an attempt to find a new way to communicate with him. Apparently Crazy Horse had recorded some of the album using their usual guitar, bass and drums and turned up for a session to find Neil had stripped all their parts off and replaced them with the new electronic sounds. Crazy Horse scratched their long haired heads. Critics and fans couldn't get their heads around it and neither could Geffen who later sued him for making work that was 'deliberately uncommercial and unrepresentative work'. This isn't my favourite Neil Young song, it isn't even in my top 50 Neil Young songs, but it' probably the best off Trans.

Like An Inca

Yes, Like A Hurricane is a million times better and should be here instead- I saw him and Crazy Horse do it at Sheffield Arena and the amps may still be feeding back for all I know- but I thought it was a tad too predictable to post.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Like A Remix

On Friday Drew posted the sublime, Balearic remix of Saint Etienne's Speedwell, which got me thinking of other first rate Saint Etienne remixes. I started with the Andrew Weatherall dubiness of Only Love Can Break Your Heart, pretty much as good as anything either party have been involved in. And then thought of this one, which used to get played to death in the flat I shared near Altrincham circa 1993. David Holmes takes Like A Motorway and presses all the acid-techno buttons. Like the best techno it is an intense, exhilarating, machine-led ride, dancefloor hedonism tinged with happy-sad. Sarah Cracknell surfaces once, at around eight minutes, to sing 'he's gone' but then the track shoots off again, spiralling upwards. Dancing music.

Like A Motorway (David Holmes Remix)

Saturday 15 November 2014

Blank Cherry

Neneh Cherry's album from this year is being re-released as a deluxe version and if you haven't got it, you should give it some thought. Produced by Four Tet, with tons of skittering drum machines, sparse arrangements and loud, fuzzy bass, all riding underneath Neneh's voice, it's not a boring or safe record.

This jazzy break led, street poetry collaboration with Afrika Baby Bam is just too good- 'My life is like an island'...

Friday 14 November 2014


Interlude was a Morrissey and Siouxsie Sioux two-for-the-price-of-one special, released in 1994, and a cover of a 1968 Timi Yuro song. They've both got distinctive voices that work well together and complement each other nicely, Siouxsie rich and deep, Morrissey wobbling and higher, but somehow, somewhere along the way, it doesn't quite catch fire. In his autobiography Morrissey gives Siouxsie a proper slagging off. But then, he gives almost everyone who appears in the book a proper slagging off so it's difficult to know how much to read into it. I've a vague recollection that Siouxsie was uncomplimentary about the whole experience in an interview as well. Morrissey's guitarist and producer of this single Boz Boorer said Siouxsie was 'a complete joy' to work with and according to a well known online encyclopedia the falling out happened after the recording when Morrissey and Siouxsie disagreed about the content of the video- a video which was never shot. One of Morrissey's most recent Best Of compilations has a version of this with only him singing it- a slight at Siouxsie if ever there was one. Despite all of this playground drama, bitchiness and a bit of an air of let down, I quite like the song, every once in a while.

Interlude (Extended Version)

Thursday 13 November 2014

Grapples With The Earth With Her Fingers

I was planning to post this anyway and happily reader Gentle Ben pointed it out in the comment box on Monday's Sugarcubes remix post. Jim and William Reid also remixed Birthday, three times in fact (labelled Christmas Eve Mix, Christmas day Mix and Christmas Present Mix). They kept Bjork's vocal and added buzzing guitars, dropping in and out in bursts, some 'hey-hey-hey-hey' backing vocals and a spoken word part. And some feedback. The Justin Robertson remix and these Jesus And Mary Chain ones show what good remixing should do- get the source material and take it somewhere else. All three versions are good.

On the original 1988 vinyl release these Mary Chain mixes were double grooved so depending on whether you hit one groove or the other you got one version or another. The third was on the B-side with a live song. The eight track ep, released in 1992, plays conventionally and has the Robertson mixes, Tony D remixes and The Sugarcubes demo version. Just so you know.

Birthday (Christmas Eve Mix)

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Here It Comes Again

One of my favourite singles from 2014 is this one from The Amazing Snakeheads. There's nothing here that's new strictly speaking, it doesn't break any new ground- it's got tattoos and quiffs and big boots. But the overdriven guitar, driving Joy Division-esque rhythm section and snarling vocals will make you feel like you're alive.

Here It Comes Again

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Eleven Eleven Eleven

Remembrance Day was Sunday but today is the actual anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War, eleven o'clock, the eleventh of November. I was at The Somme and Ypres at the start of October. The cemeteries are full of gravestones like this one- the body of a man who was not identified.

This is a picture I took at Ljissenhoek cemetery, near Ypres. There are 10, 775 graves here. The cemetery was next to a field hospital, so unusually almost all the graves here have names, as the wounded were tagged or identified. It is also an incredibly diverse cemetery containing the graves of British, French, American and German soldiers, men from the Chinese Labour Corps, one of only two women buried in the military cemeteries (nurse Nellie Spindler) and the highest ranking casualty, a Canadian General, within it.

The numbers of the dead, wounded and missing can become too big to fully comprehend. It becomes much closer to home when you dig a little into the records and find the name of a man who has a local interest, your street or town or workplace. Many of these men were either volunteers or conscripts (willing or unwilling) who found themselves caught up in something much bigger than themselves and way outside what they knew. We found the grave of a nineteen year old, Joseph Smithies Entwistle of Darwen, a gunner in the Tank Corps. He died of wounds in 1917, aged just 19. His home address is a three minute walk from the school where I work. Students from the school are his near neighbours, a hundred years apart.

96 Tears

Monday 10 November 2014

She Lives In This House Over There

The Sugarcubes single Birthday was a record so unlike any other that it assured them some kind of instant hit status almost as soon as John Peel had taken it out of it's sleeve. The album that followed- Life's Too Good- was a massive indie hit. I saw them play live at some point, I think around '89-' 90 (by which point they were promoting their second album, which wasn't nearly as good). They were a good live band, Bjork doing her skippitty-boppity thing and co-vocalist Einar entertaining and annoying everyone.

Birthday got remixed by various people on an eight track e.p. Justin Robertson's remix is the best. He avoids the easy route of just sticking a kick drum underneath and looping a little bit of Bjork's vocal and concentrates on isolating the bass, adding some horns and a dub-dance feel (in keeping with his Lionrock project).

Birthday (Justin Robertson Remix)

Sunday 9 November 2014

Over The Wall

It's a funny feeling- to know you lived through and watched something genuinely historic happen (on TV admittedly) and for it then to be celebrated a quarter of a century later. I suppose there were/are millions of people born at any time between 1885 and one hundred years later who could say they lived through and watched genuinely historic events. The fall of the Berlin Wall was twenty five years ago today. Kind of. November 9th was the day that the East German authorities realised they couldn't hold the tide back and that the Soviets weren't going to send support. And the Wall came down.

There have been loads of interesting articles recently, about the events and processes that led up to it, about the myths of the fall of the Wall (Reagan, Bowie, Hasselhoff), some of those ace photomontages showing the same place then and now. 1989 is a key year for me- living away from home, 19 years old, new music and new influences, new clothes. I visited Berlin in July and just seeing those places was startling, seeing the few remaining sections of Wall.

If the end of the Berlin Wall shows anything I think it is that nothing is permanent, that change is always possible and often just around the corner, even with situations that look utterly deadlocked and set in stone. This too shall pass.

Over The Wall

Saturday 8 November 2014

Spots With Stripes

Two new tracks for your Saturday enjoyment. This new ep, Confluence Of Torrents, from Justin Robertson's Deadstock 33s is a deep and dark delight, full of acidic squiggles, throbbing bass and the smell of dry ice.

Acid Ted posted this the other day and I love it- a new one from Radioactive Man (former Swordsman Keith Tenniswood). Simple drum machine rhythm, a driving bassline, some bleeps and bloops, a mournful synth line and an air that sounds like it was recorded live.

Friday 7 November 2014

The Return Of Friday Night Is Rockabilly Night 160

This is voodoo priest Louis Romain, from Haiti, photographed in the 1930s. He is the cover star of The Gun Club's debut album the Fire Of Love and also turned up on the sleeve of Sabres Of Paradise's Wilmot single. The Fire Of Love's grooves are shot through with rockabilly, as well as punk, blues, and country.

It's Friday. Shall we have a drink?

Black Train

Mother Of Earth

I came across this earlier this week, a new band and from Manchester too. The New Southern Electrikk and a dark, sultry cover version of Mother Of Earth by The Gun Club. The band say it's only a demo but it sounds pretty done to me. Singer Monica Ward has got one of those voices and the band, former Paris Angels amongst them, cook up a reverb laden stew. Southern gothic via east Manchester. More please.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Major Tom's A Junkie

No astronaut picture today but the space theme continues in the song- and I thought a picture of Warpaint's foxy bassist Jenny Lee Lindbergh might make a good start to Thursday. Ashes To Ashes was David Bowie's 1980 smash, complete with those lines harking back to Space Oddity and Major Tom floating off in his tincan/opiate haze. Warpaint covered it for a compilation album and did a magnificent, dreamy job.

Ashes To Ashes

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Holiday On The Moon

Today's song is from the three members of Bauhaus who weren't Pete Murphy, the shiny mid 80s post-goth band Love And Rockets. Daniel J sings about wanting a holiday on the moon on this 1986 b-side but complains about not being able to get a suntan there. Like getting a suntan was ever top of the list of holiday priorities for a goth rockstar. While he does this, and sings about meeting the president too with some cracking call-and-response backing vocals, the band set up a slow, primitive groove with some squally feedback guitars going into the stratosphere at the end. Good stuff.

Holiday On The Moon

This post was edited to correct factual goth rock errors and to reflect my own idiocy.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Come Together

After that lovely Spiritualized song yesterday I sifted through their songs on the hard drive and on the shelves. I've got a lot more Spiritualized than I thought I had. Come Together was released as a shot at having a hit single from the Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space album. It got re-recorded at Abbey Road and lost some swear words (and lost a bit of it's power as a result) and there were two remixes- a long, paranoid and freaked out Two Lone Swordsmen remix and a long, less paranoid and still pretty freaked out Richard Fearless one.

Come Together (Richard Fearless Mix)

Good video.

Monday 3 November 2014

Space Project

This beautiful and melancholic song came from Jason Pierce's Spiritualized on a space themed compilation for Record Shop Day earlier this year. All the songs used sounds found by the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes. Actually, they're not really sounds at all but 'electromagnetic radiation fluctuations in the magnetosphere of the planets, moons and large asteroids the Voyager probes traveled near. Each celestial body is composed of different elements, has its own size and mass, and therefore sounds unique.'  

Sunday 2 November 2014

They're Coming Out Of The Walls

Right then, enough of the balearic stuff. This is a slinky, groovy little number and no mistake- from Anima Animus, The Creatures 1999 lp. And it gives me an excuse to post this rather excellent gif of Siouxsie doing her thing. The Creatures were a side vehicle for Siouxsie and drummer Budgie, with the emphasis on, obviously enough, voice and drums and percussion. The Creatures released four albums between 1981 and 2005 and they all have something going for them. The band ended when Siouxsie and Budgie's marriage ended.

Another Planet

Saturday 1 November 2014

Hoomba Hoomba Chant Chant

This picture appeared in the August 1990 issue of The Face in an article called A Raver's Guide To Europe. It shows Andrew Weatherall at Pacha, Ibiza, hard at work doing research for Screamadelica and Morning Dove White.

Looking at the late 80s/early 90s there's a point when Balearic (an eclectic mix of records you could dance to that all fitted in with a certain vibe) turned into piano house and then chill out, i.e. people making records with a specific sounds and feel deliberately to evoke those Balearic feelings, the tail wagging the dog maybe. Piano house and chill out both quickly became debased currencies. This record from 1990 by Voice Of Africa skirts around that fine line, with the Keep On Moving drum sample and the tinkling piano line. Very close to the line.

Hoomba Hoomba

The Voice Of Africa record is a million miles from Balearica of The Woodentops, Fini Tribe, The Residents and Nitzer Ebb (not that any of those bands knew they were making Balearica at the time). Nitzer Ebb's Join In The Chant is a much tougher animal.

Join In The Chant