Sunday, 30 September 2018
London Lee posted this earlier in the week at Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop and you may not have heard it yet- and if you haven't you should. This is the new one from Lana del Rey, a ten minute, fairly freeform meditation called Venice Bitch which opens with Lana cooing breathily about being 'fresh out of fucks, forever'. From there the acoustic guitar riff circles around, Lana's vocal becomes more upfront, and a 60s style pop song briefly appears. The song drifts on for a while, half awake, half in focus, atmospherics and melodies intertwined before changing gear with a gnarly guitar part and synth solo. A beautiful trip.
Lana said in an interview that she wanted it as a single and her manager asked her why couldn't she just make a 'normal three minute pop song'? She replied 'I was like, 'well, the end of summer, some people just wanna drive around for 10 minutes, get lost in some electric guitar' ''.
A commenter at Youtube posted 'this song evokes a longing in me I can't quite understand... a yearning for a place I've never been, a man I've never met and a life I've yet to live' which seems to nail something of its appeal.
The album is going to be called Norman Fucking Rockwell.
Saturday, 29 September 2018
Saturday nights are made for dancing. Tonight I am attending Peter Hook And The Light's gig at Manchester's Albert Hall where he's playing not just Technique in its entirety but Republic too. Technique I am massively looking forward too, an album that has stuck with me through thick and thin since January 1989, a record I know every note of. Republic remains to be seen (not the strongest set of songs, and front loaded too- the best song off it, Regret, will be up first). If we get there early enough he's playing an opening set of Joy Division songs.
Today's song a new one from Mr Weatherall, a remix of Norwegian Marius Circus' cover of fellow countryman Lindstrom's I Feel Space. Weatherall finds the acid in it, pumps it up and makes the most of some lovely long siren/horn noises. One to start your Saturday off with a bit of a shimmy to.
Friday, 28 September 2018
Rude Audio,a South London collective, have an e.p. out shortly. The five tracks on Rude Redux have been providing the soundtrack to my autumn commute on and off for the last few weeks. The trio take the open minded, anything goes, Balearic spirit of the late 80s/early 90s as their starting point and layer North African and Middle Eastern melodies over the top of their chuggy, dancefloor rhythms, dubby basslines bouncing about. In places woozy and light, in others more direct and 4/4. The opening track is this one, a shuffler with timbales borrowed from Sabres of Paradise, a nagging keyboard riff and a title that points the way...
You can buy it at Bandcamp (and get the rest of the e.p. when it comes out next week).
To The Half Moon combines chanting and Kraftwerk and glides off from there in an ambient house direction.
Two more tracks, Rumble On Arab St and Pipeline Screaming, flesh the sound out further before we get to the Rich Lane remix at the end. Rich has been mining gold recently with his remixes. Here he finds some additional space, adds a pulsing heartbeat rhythm and lets the synths do their thing...
Thursday, 27 September 2018
Break 4 Love was one of 1988's set texts for dance music, a hit here and in the US for Raze. It's one of those songs which has been mixed, remixed, re-released and presented in multiple formats at different times. This version was from 1994, an uncredited remix by Pob, that takes a big electronic bass riff, loops it up and lets it go. Later on the original vocal comes back in for a while ad then that bassline returns.
Break 4 Love (Skunk Dub)
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
Steve Mason has a new song out and an album to follow in January. It's recognisably Steve Mason, all the familiar elements are in place (acoustic guitars, multi-tracked vocals, building chord progression, catchy as fuck chorus), but this time with a sense of optimism (and trumpets). The songs for the new album About The Light were recorded with his full live band and produced by Stephen Street, worked out and rehearsed live before being recorded. If Stars Around My Heart is anything to go by at least we'll be guaranteed a good start to the new year.
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Back in 1983 Echo And The Bunnymen were stung by some of the reviews of their third album Porcupine. In response they started writing again and used a Peel Session to try out some new songs, broadcasting Nocturnal Me, Ocean Rain, My Kingdom and Watch Out Below. Not a bad night's work I think.
Watch Out Below (Peel Session)
Watch Out Below shimmers and glowers, acoustic guitars to the fore. Over time it would gain new words and a new title- The Yo Yo Man. This version with the refrain Watch Out Below fits in with the maritime theme Ocean Rain was developing and the line Mac wails from the title track of 'The Greatest Album Ever Made', 'screaming from beneath the waves'.
Porcupine, for what it's worth, is a funny album and the criticism of it is partly justified. Out of the first four 'classic' lps they made, it comes fourth for me. Despite opening with two of their very best songs (and singles) The Back Of Love and The Cutter it fades after that, too similar in tone, too dour, not enough drama and variation. It's not a bad album but the one before it (Heaven Up Here) and the one after it (Ocean Rain) are better.
Monday, 24 September 2018
One of the free cable channels showed a New Order documentary on Saturday night followed by a gig from 2006 at Glasgow Barrowlands. The gig was pretty good, the band playing a fairly frenetic, guitar-led set (Hooky was still on the bass and Gillian yet to rejoin). Hooky's bass runs through Regret were standing out and Bernard was on good form. In the middle they played These Days, a song Bernard said afterwards they'd only played live a few times.
It's become a bit of a cliche to say that groups in the 1970s and 80s had B-sides that were as good as A-sides. There are bands I can think of from the recent past who have released multiple albums and headlined festivals who have never got anywhere near some of those B-sides. These Days is one of those B-sides, the flipside to Love Will Tear Us Apart, 3 minutes and 24 seconds of post-punk urgency and anxiety. From the choppy opening and Stephen's busy drumming to Ian's existential dread, everything processed and syncopated by Hannett. New Order's move to the dancefloor is glimpsed in These Days and in Ian's lyrics so is the end of Joy Division.
Sunday, 23 September 2018
Sean Johnston was playing this last night at the Convenanza festival in Carcasonne and it is a beauty, a full on trippy modern house record, with the double threat of the powerful New York vocals of Amy Douglas and two superbly Balearic remixes, woozy, mechanical funk, from Crooked Man (Crooked Man is Richard Barratt, DJ and producer from Sheffield, city of bleep. The original mix was done in New York by Tim Wagner, co-writer). The sort of record that sounds like the dark corners of nightclubs, smells of dry ice and feels like a shot of something strong coursing through your veins.
Saturday, 22 September 2018
Craig Bratley comes through with a four track e.p, just out, which has a contender for song title of the year... Take Me To Bedford Or Lose Me Forever. I like to think this was over heard in the street or a bar, someone hissing it into a phone or across a table. Thankfully the track lives up to its name, a slow motion, vaguely Eastern sounding chug, soundtracking a car ride through the streets of your town before dawn...
Elsewhere the lead track is a throbbing uptempo banger 99.9 which comes with an Andrew Weatherall remix- moody, science fiction, dub-tinged acid.
The other one is the self explanatory Italo Love. If we're having an Italo house revival, and I'm in favour of that, this song should be somewhere near the centre of it.
Friday, 21 September 2018
It's probably going to save time and some arguments at the end of the year if we can agree now that Roisin Murphy has made a very convincing stab at the best single of 2018 with All My Dreams released back in the early summer (and the follow up Plaything which was nearly its equal). The third part of her four pronged 2018 dancefloor assault is out today, another two track 12" single produced with Maurice Fulton. Jacuzzi Rollercoaster starts out with 80s synths and a wonky electronic bassline followed by a 4/4 disco beat. Funky, swish and seductive, the sound of a song coming out through the doors of a club that you can't get into (wrong shoes most likely) but sounding like the best place to be.
The B-side, Can't Hang On, is a squelchy, sultry, Moloko-like number with a very nice extended ending, and guest vocals from Ali Love.
Thursday, 20 September 2018
In 2011 Turkish DJ and musician Baris K put out a series of records under the title Istanbul '70, a collection of songs from Turkey in the late 60s and early 70s, Turkish psyche, disco, funk and folk. In the wake of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones Turkish artists in the mid 60s began to fuse traditional Turkish music with rock, creating Anatolian Rock. The opening song on Volume 1 is a favourite of mine, a groovy, slightly psychedelic masterpeice. Carried by a smart acoustic guitar riff and a lead acid rock part with some intermittent drone from an organ over which Erkin Koray sings (and does his own reverb laden backing vox). It speeds up towards the end, percussion going into overdrive and the guitar solo flies the freak flag. Pretty trippy.
Erkin Koray is one of the pioneers of Anatolian Rock and is still recording. Cemalim came out in 1974 on an album titled Elektronik Turkuler (which translates as Electronic Ballads), Koray's first full length lp after making a series of 45s. The Istanbul '70 series covers loads more Turkish artists from the period, handpicked by the expert ears of Baris K.
Sometimes with songs sung in a foreign language it's actually a pleasure to not know or understand what the lyrics are about, to put your own version into the words based on the singer's voice. Curiosity got the better of me with Ceralim. Google led me to a post on Reddit where someone asked for a translation of the song. The song is from the eyes of a woman named Serife from Ürgüp. She married a wealthy man called Cemal who after a couple of years was killed in a treacherous attack. She was left alone with a young son.
A translation site offers this version (there are others with some lyrical differences but a similar gist).
'May you be merry, Ürgüp, your smoke doesn't fume
Cem's mansion doesn't hire my grizzly horse
Your son is too young, doesn't replace you
My Cemal, my Cemal, my weak Cemal
You've remained in red blood my Cemal
They saw me getting out of Ürgüp
They knew from my grizzly horse's leaping
They decided to kill me
My Cemal, my Cemal, my weak Cemal
You've remained in red blood my Cemal'
Wednesday, 19 September 2018
It was announced a couple of days ago that Rachid Taha had died aged 59. Rachid was an Algerian singer and activist, based in France, who blended punk and electronic music with North African forms rai and chaabi. Moving to Lyon aged 10 he started forming bands in his teens, djed at local Algerian clubs, and sang in both Arabic and English. In the early 80s he found The Clash and said that for a generation of French musicians 'they gave us the world'. He bumped into the band outside the Theatre Mogador in Paris during their residency there in 1981, passing them his band's demo tape, fusing rai with funk and punk. Months later he heard Rock The Casbah and liked to imagine his demo tape had at least partly inspired the song.
Like many people I first heard of Rachid when he covered Rock The Casbah on his 2004 album Tekitoi, sung it in Arabic and re-titled Rock el Casbah, a magnificent cover of the song. A year later at a Stop The War gig in London Mick Jones joined Rachid on stage (and did the same at the Barbican in 2007). Life goals eh?
Rock el Casbah
The video for the original release, a song largely written and recorded by Topper Headon, is a hoot, starring the group in their full on military fatigues gear, a grumpy Mick Jones, a heavy handed Arab-Israeli section and an armadillo. It's also a lesson in songs gaining a life or meaning not intended by the creators- Joe sat aghast watching his TV in 1991 as US troops used it to celebrate bombing Iraq.
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Something cosmic to kick Tuesday off, the return leg of the Daniel Avery-Jon Hopkins remix swap. Here Avery spins Hopkins into different spaces. The part at about 40 seconds where the reverb drenched synth comes in is heartstopping.
Avery put this out recently too, a beatless, ambient piece, fifty minutes, free download.
Monday, 17 September 2018
I've seen some really good gigs this year- Mogwai at the Albert Hall, MIchael Head at Gorilla and David Byrne at the Apollo all live long in the memory- but as a double bill Wooden Shjips supported by The Lucid Dream at Gorilla on Saturday night will be hard to beat. Gorilla is a small venue in a railway arch, holding about 500 people, an ideal place to see bands close up, with no barriers between audience and players. The Lucid Dream, four young men from Carlisle, are a band whose time has surely come. Drilled, inventive and loud they have made good on the promise a lot of bands in the early 90s made, to fuse psychedelic rock with dance music. Lined up across the stage they kick off with an electronic drumbeat from the pile of kit, pedals, drum machine, samplers and suchlike standing next to Mark Emmerson's microphone. The drummer joins in with the 'real' kit and then bass and guitars pile in as one, psyche-rock and acid house conjoined in a hugely impressive way. At times they sound a bit like the early Verve but then soar outwards from that point into psyche rather than mid-paced everyman ballads. The drum machine spits out crunching kick drum sounds, acid squiggles and siren noises, with Mike Denton's driving basslines riding over the top. The closing song builds to an extended wall-of-noise section, imagine I Am The Resurrection but if Squire had been into noise rather than melody, which having pummelled us for several minutes, they pull back from and back into the song in an instant. The Lucid Dream are probably too hard-edged, too experimental for a mainstream audience but should surely gain more fans and more exposure if they keep doing gigs like this.
Wooden Shjips have made one of this year's best albums and spend 90 minutes demonstrating how to make psychedelic krautrock for 2018, undeniably retro but fresh and human and involving. Drummer Omar uses a minimal kit, just a bass drum and snare with 3 cymbals, but on every song hits and holds a hypnotic groove that pushes and makes the front few rows move. Keyboard player Nash Whalen has the thousand yard stare of a man who dropped some acid an hour ago and is just beginning to feel the effects, adding layers of drone and texture and allowing main man Ripley Johnson to do his thing. Ripley's thing is playing ripples of golden guitar over everything else, perfectly placed in the mix, shades of Hendrix here and shades of Michael Rother there. His vocals float in from stage right, half sung and half whispered. Opener Eclipse hooks us in straight away, like waking from a dream. Ride On is slow and shuffly, Staring At The Sun glowers with the spirit of 1969. Wooden Shjips are the epitome of slow burn, of going at their own pace, of the importance of tone as much as tunes. They grow in intensity and pace as the evening goes on, sucking us in, locked into the groove, dripping sun-dappled melodies into the room over the beautiful drones, finishing with a blistering, extended version of Death's Not Your Friend.
Sunday, 16 September 2018
Two Andrew Weatherall mixes in three days? That's just the way I roll. Weatherall back at the controls in that funny shack thing NTS Radio operate out of for his monthly Music's Not For Everyone show, two hours of musical goodness including- and here is a word I did not expect to type at Bagging Area- Kasabian (admittedly it's a rather brilliant Richard fearless mix from a 10" single release in 2009 but Kasabian nonetheless). In fact, the whole show is played and mixed live using only 10" records. The full tracklist is here. There's another new Woodleigh Research Facility track right at the end too.
If anyone's going to the Art Car Boot Fair in London today, let us know how you get on. Andrew and Nina Walsh are selling the various bits and pieces below out of the back of a van. I am 200 miles north and as Mick Hucknall once put it, money's too tight to mention.
127 To Facility 4" Vinyl album with linocut hand stamped label and 200 gram textured paper insert.
Every sleeve will feature a different photograph and will be individually signed and numbered in an
edition of 100. £ 50
Woodleigh Research Facility "Facility 4" T-shirt. Organic cotton in S,M,L,XL and ladies M and L.
Limited edition of 40. £ 30
Woodleigh Research Facility "Facility 4" tote bag. Organic cotton.
Limited edition of 50 £10
Andrew Weatherall print. Two colour giclee print based on a photograph by Nina Walsh.
A2 308 gsm Hahnnemuhle paper with certificate of authenticity.
Limited edition of 50. £75
Saturday, 15 September 2018
In 1989 Big Hard Excellent Fish, a duo of Josie Jones and Jake Walters, were asked to write a piece of music for the punk ballet dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. Josie asked her then boyfriend Pete Wylie to help out and they recorded Imperfect List, with Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau Twins producing. It was released in 1989 and then again a year later with remixes by Andrew Weatherall (subtitled Rimming Elvis The Andrew Weatherall Way). I've posted the Weatherall remixes before (or at least a couple of them, there are four on the 12" single). This is the original version.
In Imperfect List Josie lists 64 things that her and Wylie hated starting with Adolf Hitler and taking in various other named or famous people from Terry and June to Bonnie Langford to 'fucking bastard Thatcher' to Stock, Aitken and Waterman, some unnamed people (macho dickhead, accusing ungrateful mate, weird British judges, tasteless A&R wanker and the dentist), some daily irritants (lost keys, neighbours- or is that Neighbours?), some entirely appropriate late 80s targets (the Tories, Hillsborough, Heysel, the poll tax, apartheid, acid rain, Clause 28, Nelson Mandela's imprisonment) and some universal hates (cancer, miscarriage, loneliness, hunger, murder, gut wrenching disappointment, the Sun newspaper) and plenty more besides.
'Where were you?' Josie asks at the end, leaving the question hanging and unanswered.
Friday, 14 September 2018
Ahead of the Convenanza festival at Carcasonne in South-West France Andrew Weatherall has put together a mix for the faithful- some of the names may be familiar, some may not. What you get here is ten eclectic tracks from the depths of Audrey's record bag. Makes getting out of bed to turn on the computer worth the effort.
The message from the nerve centre reads thus-
'A Message From M.N.F.E. Ministries
(incorporating The Temple Of Gnostic Sonics)
(incorporating The Temple Of Gnostic Sonics)
Greetings sisters and brothers.
As Nietzsche once wrote "Acid house is a Dyonisian response to both the pain and joy of living".
With this in mind I have compiled some music to assist with your rituals. So if you'd kindly don your ceremonial robes and headgear we'll let evocation commence.....'
As Nietzsche once wrote "Acid house is a Dyonisian response to both the pain and joy of living".
With this in mind I have compiled some music to assist with your rituals. So if you'd kindly don your ceremonial robes and headgear we'll let evocation commence.....'
Evocation / Peter Ulrich
Main Theme / Pink Floyd
Level 4 / Al Lover Meets Cairo Liberation Front
Second Half / Drums Off Chaos
Dia De Muertos / Sordid Sound System
Mbira Girls / Immaculate Rivombo
Night Of The Leyak / Komodo Kolektif
Rite 1 / Mugstar
In In / Resina
Raga Requiem / Emanative
Thursday, 13 September 2018
A new chuggy, synth, disco track from Rich Lane's Cotton Bud label came out last Friday. A Sucker For Symmetry comes in both vocal and dub versions, with slinky grooves, early 80s style vox and some New Order-esque guitar lines here and there. Get it at Bandcamp. There's a video too here with plenty of symmetry, opening with a shot of Salford Quays and then heading out into the world from there with pictures from Rich's travels on his scooter.
Wednesday, 12 September 2018
One Dove's debut (and only) album, the majestic Morning Dove White, was delayed in being released for a year due to wranglings between the band (who favoured Andrew Weatherall's dubby, post-Screamadelica mixes of their songs) and the record label London Records (who wanted Stephen Hague's poppier mixes that might get played on daytime radio). A compromise of sorts was eventually reached. But at least Morning Dove White came out and is still adored by most of those people that heard it back then. Their second album never made it. The band's Soundcloud page has some songs that were earmarked for it. This one, Kill Time, has all the familiar elements- Dot's breathy vocals and that dubby, delay drenched space.
There are a few others on the Soundcloud page- their trippy cover of Simon Dupree's Kites, Waltzbaby, the spectral and sparse Sister and this beautiful underwatery song called Drowning.
These songs are how they were when the band split, not necessarily final versions. Listening to them, it's difficult to see why they were rejected by London Records other than MDW hadn't sold and they thought this was more of the same. There are other bits and pieces floating around the internet- it's probably too much to expect someone to put everything together in one place and release it properly but we can hope. Stranger, less obvious things have been released. Fansite onedove.net has a few mp3s of tracks recorded for radio shows. It hasn't been updated since 2012 but all bar one of the mp3s are still working.
This appeared on Youtube earlier this year with a user made Blue Velvet video. What Can You Do To Me Now sounds more trip hop, a little indebted to Massive Attack, but fairly sumptuous all the same. However band member Ian Carmichael has said this one was not intended for the second album but was written after that and presented to the record company just before Dot left the band. It was, he says, the last song they all worked on together although he doesn't recognise the mix posted.
Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Balearic veterans Leo Mas and Fabrice put out an ep called White Isla back in 2015, a homage to Ibiza, the island and the scene. Five songs on the digital release, four on the vinyl, all are top notch tunes. This one is a killer piece of dancefloor music, a pumping bassline and energy to spare. A distorted and disjointed horn riff drops in and out. It should get you moving (just what you need on a Tuesday in September).
Sunrise 87 (Balearic Militant Mix)
Monday, 10 September 2018
Spirea X came my way again a few days ago, a welcome blast from the early 90s. Formed by Jim Beattie, a founding member Primal Scream, they promised to make records that would be better and bigger than the Scream's but it didn't really work out for them, despite having the benefit of being signed to 4AD. Their sole album- Fireblade Skies- has stood up fairly well. Spindly, psychedelic Rickenbackers, a mid-60s Stones on speed vibe but with 1991 shuffly drums. The single Chlorine Dream is one that should be on all those compilations of the lesser known groups from this time (along with Box Set Go by The High). Jim Beattie later formed Adventures In Stereo (who made similarly 60s influenced music but this time using samples and taking The Beach Boys as their starting point, not a million miles from Stereolab).
The album version is extended to over 6 minutes.
The 60s groups were massive at the time, groups like Love and Buffalo Springfield. Their influence is all over Fireblade Skies. Album closer Spirea Rising is a fairly glorious instrumental, with swathes of Slowdive-style backing vocals and buckets of Glaswegian guitar noise.
Sunday, 9 September 2018
Daniel Avery and Jon Hopkins have made two of this year's most enthralling electronic albums (Song For Alpha and Singularity respectively) and are about to start a tour of the USA together. As an extra they've swapped remixes, taking a track from each other's albums and reworking it. The first one out in public is Hopkins new version of Avery's Glitter, a thumping percussive workout with little subliminal melodies, building in intensity for a good seven minutes.
Saturday, 8 September 2018
In a week's time I'm going to Gorilla to see Wooden Shjips, creators of the most blissfully cool guitar album of 2018 so far, supported by Carlisle's The Lucid Dream (who have made 2 of the year's most impressive singles, SX1000 and Alone In Fear, acid house and techno influences to the fore). Their album Actualisation is out in October and ahead of it comes a third single- Zenith (part 2). This one puts them firmly back in the northern psyche-rock territory with a growly bassline and vocals smothered in echo, tense and urgent and electric. I'm hoping, almost expecting, that the pairing of Wooden Shjips and The Lucid Dream will be gig of the year.
Another Zenith first appeared in 2000 AD in summer 1987, a 19 year old British superhero in the Watchmen anti-superhero mode, and a story involving the Second World War, Maximan versus the Nazis, a 1960s team with a Jim Morrison lookalike (below), and Zenith himself, a cocky late 80s flying generation gap with a quiff.
Friday, 7 September 2018
I wrote a piece about Iggy Pop for JC at The Vinyl Villain, putting together an imaginary compilation album from Iggy's wildly inconsistent solo career. You can read it here if you're a fan. I put in 10 Iggy songs, starting with the Bowie and Berlin pairing of The Idiot and Lust For Life and pogoing through his back catalogue ending up at 2016's Post Pop Depression, plus a bonus song to represent his many guest vocal spots. I'm still getting loads out of his collaboration with Underworld, the Teatime Dub Encounters ep released this summer, and I think it will come to be seen as a late-Iggy triumph and part of me regrets not including a song from it on the ICA. I left off anything from his 1975 album Kill City, written and recorded with ex-Stooge James Williamson and eventually released in 1977. Kill City was recorded while Iggy was resident in hospital going through treatment for heroin addiction. He was allowed out at weekends to record his vocals. These are not the ideal circumstances to make great records. The title track is a decent mid-70s rocker but I still think I was right to leave it off the final line up of my compilation.
Two other songs that didn't make the cut and were mentioned by people in the comments thread are this pair- the first, a really well sung love song from Iggy's 1990 album Brick By Brick, a duet with Kate Pierson. Iggy said Candy was the only good pop song he'd ever written and as if to prove him right it was the only single of his to reach the US top 40.
My bonus track was Iggy's guest vocal on Death In Vegas' Aisha in 1999. Since then Iggy has spread his voice over various songs by other people, including Aggrophobe, a song by Manchester group PINS from last year (the video was filmed in Gullivers, a bar on Oldham Street in town and is probably NSFW, unless you happen to work in a bar or stripclub).
Thursday, 6 September 2018
I was never a massive fan of The Waterboys- I appreciate what Mike Scott was doing, the Big Music and Celtic influences, and I've danced to The Whole Of The Moon just like the rest of you have- but when Fisherman's Blues came out I was never able to play it all the way through and fully enjoy it. Having said that I love A Bang On The Ear. I'm a sucker for those rat-a-tat-tat narrative songs, where the rhythm and the rhyme rattle along, telling stories, especially in this one where Mike looks back at the girls in his past he's loved.
A Bang On The Ear
To pick a verse almost at random-
'Deborah broke my heart
And I the willing fool
I fell for her one summer
On the road to Liverpool
I thought it was forever
But it was over within the year (oh dear)
But I send her my love
And a bang on the ear'
I like the way he throws in the homely and prosaic (chicken soup say). I like the reflective quality of the words, the lightness of touch and the wordplay. It's also in the way the song fades in and out, like it could have started earlier and carried on longer.
I suppose the daddy of these songs is Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue, a tour de force in painting pictures with words, rhyming couplets describing a life lived (whether it's Dylan's actual life, an imagined life or a composite of people's I don't know). Tangled Up In Blue switches between tenses, the present and the past, while Dylan narrates a number of scenes that got him to where was then-
'She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam I guess
But I used a little too much force'
'I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the axe just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Workin' for a while on a fishin' boat
Right outside of Delacroix'
and later still...
'I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air'
What both these songs have is an authority and the voice of experience. What we get is the rush of words, a pile up of images and autobiography that becomes universal but with different names and places. And you can picture them being written- once the first line is there and the rhythm gets going, it all coming out in a flood, fingers banging away at typewriter keys.
Tangled Up In Blue
Then there is 88 Lines About 44 Women by The Nails, an obscure 1984 single from a US post-punk band. Over a pleasingly basic Casio backing track Marc Campbell delivers deadpan narration, describing each one of 44 women in 2 lines, (some he admitted were real and some imaginary). In a 2018 light you could argue that reducing women to a single characteristic, often based around sex, in a list for comic effect is a little sexist but this is so well done with so many good lines that I think it stands.
An excerpt from the middle-
'Pauline thought that love was simple
Turned it on and turned it off
Jean-Marie was complicated
Like some French film-maker's plot
Gina was the perfect lady
Always had her stockings straight
Jackie was a rich punk rocker
Silver spoon and paper plate'
88 Lines About 44 Women
John Peel loved it. In a nice twist, 30 years after writing the song, Campbell got in touch with one of the women in the song through Facebook (Tanya Turkish, she of the leather biker boots) and they became a couple.
Wednesday, 5 September 2018
The Velvet Underground have been re-issued and anthologised and expanded all the place in recent years, boxed sets galore. I picked up a nice double album on vinyl recently called The Velvet Underground/1969, an attempt to put together the lp that didn't come out in that year. Yeah, essentially it's VU and Another VU in one edition but with some different mixes (the 2014 versions of some tracks) and other mixes of others. Disappointingly it doesn't contain the more recent mix of I Can't Stand It (with the 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 countdown by Lou after the guitar solo, which is exciting beyond words) but you can't have everything.
Although most of the tracks (3 out of the 4 sides of vinyl) are the Doug Yule version of the group the 4th side has some recordings before John Cale packed up his viola and left. The final song on the album is this early version of Beginning To See The Light, recorded with Cale, which would later be recorded again with Yule for the self-titled album which did come out in 1969. Makes sense?
I love Lou's lyrics on this song, aping gospel, sneering with NYC cool and in places brilliantly nonsensical. This version has different words, clearly a work in progress. The title of this post became 'I wore my teeth in my hands, so I could mess the hair of the night' in the final mix. Both work for me.
Beginning To See The Light (Early Version)
Tuesday, 4 September 2018
Here's a well Balearic instrumental from an 80s pop group which has been enriching my life recently. In 1990 The Blow Monkeys released an album called Springtime For The World, fully informed by dance music culture. Album track and single La Passionara was a Spanish influenced instrumental (with odd bits of voice at the start and throughout but mainly just Iberian guitars, synths and lazy drums). It gained a vocal for the single but the 12" is the one you need, perfect for those warm evenings we're still getting.
La Passionara (12" version)
Given Dr Robert and The Blow Monkeys politics and political pop I've always assumed that the title refers to La Passionara (Dolores Ibarruri), the Basque heroine of the Spanish Republic of 1936-1939 and the Spanish Civil War. She was famous for her No Passaran! slogan, galvanising the defenders of Madrid during the battle for the city in November 1939 and her speeches throughout the war. The statue of her pictured above actually stands in Glasgow not Madrid.
This also means I can add it to my Spanish Civil War mixtape, something I wrote about back in 2012 which seemed like a good idea at the time. Some day I may fnd time to actually put it together in some format.
Which links nicely to this- non-league football team Clapham CFC have been deluged with thousands of orders from Spain for their new away kit for the 2018-19 season, a kit in the colours of the Republic (purple, yellow and red) with La Passionara's slogan on the back, honouring the volunteers of the International Brigades who went to Spain to fight fascism when the democratic, western powers refused to help the legitimate government against a military, fascist coup by Franco (whose allies Hitler and Mussolini had no such qualms about sending help). More here.
Monday, 3 September 2018
This is the sun setting over the River Mersey, not far from our house on Friday night just gone. My summer holiday is over as of today, back to work today after several weeks off. Luckily I alwasy have music to dull the pain(at least during the commute). This is a late slice of summer from Hollie Cook, a cover of Shanks and Bigfoot's 1999 UK garage chart topper Sweet Like Chocolate. Hollie and her band turn it into a deliciously laid back piece of lovers rock
Hollie Cook is 29. If you are in your twenties a song from 1999 is a song from your childhood. Time's big wheel keeps on turning.
In proper reggae style the B-side is a dub version, Dub Like Chocolate. It is a well dubbed out affair, reverb and echo ahoy and a rocking rhythm.
Sunday, 2 September 2018
Sunday always seems like a good day for dub. This was shared with me the other day via the wonders of social media and I then shared it again so some of you may have heard this already but for those of you that haven't it's a bit of a treat, Loaded done dub stylee.
Thus far we haven't been able to discover who did this but what I know is this- it dates from the first decade of the 21st century; is a bootleg; and is a delightful re-working of Primal Scream/Andrew Weatherall's Loaded. Enjoy.
In other Primal Scream news, next month will see the release of their 1993 album Give Out But Don't Give Up. Not the version that was released in 1994, the 'dance traitors' album, but the version they recorded in Memphis with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section of David Hood and Roger Hawkins and producer Tom Dowd. At the time the group (and Alan McGee) were worried that the tapes weren't contemporary enough, not rawk enough and were too polite, so they shelved them. The songs were buffed up and re-recorded and added to by George Drakoulis with more guitars and more sheen. The original tapes were more country, more blues, more gospel. I've not heard much apart from some brief clips on their Twitter account but it sounds intriguing enough. There are multiple versions and formats available to pre-order here. It's a shame that Throb, whose guitar will be all over these songs, isn't around to enjoy the release of the songs as originally recorded.
Saturday, 1 September 2018
September arrives after a long August bringing with it a change in tone and pace. The first of today's pair of September songs is Ian McCulloch's solo single from 1984. Ian wanted to indulge his crooning side away from the Bunnymen and this song, a cover of the 1938 Kurt Weill standard, is decent enough (but in the same year as Ocean Rain it naturally pales a little). The lyrics nail this day and month perfectly-
'Well, it's a long, long time
From May to December
But the days grow short
When you reach September'
September Song (Long Version)
Meanwhile a decade earlier Alex Chilton wrote this song for Big Star, less about September maybe and more about a gurl. There is something heart-wrenchingly beautiful about this song- the guitars, the chord change, the vocal. Autumnal perfection.