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Thursday, 28 February 2019
I keep being reminded of this 1990 song from Manchester group The High. Box Set Go, chiming guitars, a sense of urgency and sweetly sung vocals, was their debut single recorded in Stockport's Strawberry Studio with Martin Hannett at the desk. According to legend Hannett set drummer Chris Goodwin off playing, was puzzled about an issue with the overhead ambient mics, and then went to the pub for two hours (unknown to Chris who kept playing). Suitably refreshed Hannett returned to solve the problem- he kept the two mics part by wedging a cigarette end between them. Someone had used the wrong brand of cig butt- Embassy No. 1. Problem solved, drum sound fixed. Box Set Go is one of the minor gems of the period, not quite a lost classic but far off it, gently psychedelic guitar pop.
Box Set Go
Box Set Go opens the group's debut album, the still wonderful Somewhere Soon, a record with three top drawer singles (Box Set Go, Up And Down and Take Your Time) plus some great album tracks (Rather Be Marsanne, PWA, Dreams Of Dinesh, A Minor Turn and the title track) and percussion from Pandit Dinesh that gives it something other guitar-based records at the time didn't have.
The High signed to a major label after just one gig at The Ritz. Guitarist Andy Couzens had been pushed out of The Stone Roses by manager Gareth Evans before the release of Sally Cinnamon, his guitar playing inspired by the twin influences of Steve Jones and Roger McGuinn. He put the band together with drummer Chris (both had played with Buzzcocks FOC), bassist Simon Davies and singer John Matthews (from One Summer). The songs came together quickly. In the great indie guitar group boom of the early 90s the pressure to have hits was intense and despite endless touring and singles of the week in the music press, the big hits never really came. More's the pity in a way because there were lesser groups who sold more records but this album remains a wonderful, less well known snapshot of the time and still stands up today. This footage of the group at Strawberry is good, the Hannett version of Up And Down ringing out and Hannett engrossed in an instruction booklet about DAT.
Things went awry afterwards. The single More..., a should-have-been-a-smash follow up to Somewhere Soon, was derailed by allegations of chart rigging. John Matthews was hospitalised after an incident with an industrial quantity of psychedelics. An ill advised second album with a heavier American rock sound was released but the momentum had gone and they parted company. And despite the stories of failure or missing out, the songs remain and in the end that's what matters the most.
Wednesday, 27 February 2019
A Man Called Adam have a new album out in March with two new songs posted online as a taste of what's to come. Ou Pas has a breezy, slightly off kilter rhythm, what sounds like a looped guitar part, a squelchy bassline and some jazzy flute- the sounds that made their 1991 album The Apple and 1998's Duende but fed through some 2018 filters and with Sally singing French phrases. Album opener Mountains And Waterfalls is longer, a groover, congas and piano chords harking back to their Acid Jazz days, and then adding disco strings and breakdowns as it unfolds. Both sound half aimed at the feet and half at the head, music to stop doing whatever it was you were doing and listen. The journey they started back in the late 80s with Earthly Powers and Barefoot In The Head continues.
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Sad news yesterday came with the announcement of the death of Mark Hollis aged 64. As the lead songwriter and singer of Talk Talk he made some of the most interesting and experimental pop of the 1980s and he wrote and recorded songs which I hold in high regard. I know some of you feel the same. He had largely retired from music after 1998's solo album, deciding that being a touring musician and a parent weren't compatible, but his music has never gone away, continuing to hold sway beneath the surface. I have loved this song for many years and I will continue to play it and love it for many more to come and while it may be the obvious choice some songs are the obvious choice because they are great songs. Life's What You Make It is wonderful and sage, lead piano from Mark over a brilliant drumbeat and Mark's soaring vocals, a song that you can slot onto any mixtape or into any DJ set.
Life's What You Make It
As an extra Tomorrow Started is from 1984's It's My Life, a sidestep away from New Romantic pop and into something else and something new, with producer Tim Friese-Greene at the controls, poetry and avant-pop.
'Before you play two notes, learn how to play one note And don't play one note unless you've got a reason to play it'
Monday, 25 February 2019
Not sure any words are needed to go with this piece of music from Spectrum in 1994, one of Sonic Boom's post-Spacemen 3 masterpieces (from the album Highs, Lows And Heavenly Blows). If you like loops, space echo guitars, phasing and a general, gentle sense of being set adrift, this is for you.
If you'd like something more abstract, just ten minutes of wobbly drones then this one from 1993 may be your cup of tea.
Ecstasy In Slow Motion
Sunday, 24 February 2019
Another Velvet Underground on Sunday post today. In 1988 Toronto's Cowboy Junkies rescued Sweet Jane from the countless butcherings it had received at the hands of the man who wrote it. Their album The Trinity Sessions was recorded in a church and somewhere in that building the people involved and the church's natural echo and reverb summoned up something magical. Margo Timmins' voice, her brother Michael's guitar and the rest of the band, all gathered around a single mic, recast Sweet Jane in the mould of the 1969 Live version rather than the Loaded one, retrieving the earlier lyrics and the 'Heavenly wine and roses/seem to whisper to me when you smile...' section (some lyric sites have this line as 'heavenly widened roses' but I've always heard the former and that's what I'm sticking with). Lou Reed later said that Cowboy Junkies had made his favourite version. Mine too.
Saturday, 23 February 2019
Manchester was bathed in unseasonable sunshine yesterday, the tower in Piccadilly's grey concrete for once backdropped by blue skies, blue skies for as far as the eye could see. Manchester three piece The Empty Page released a single yesterday. The group describe themselves as feral and frantic and both words are apt on this release. When The Cloud Explodes is a frenetic, punk response to Manchester's usual weather, pissing dark grey rain and the way it forces people to create art, stuck indoors while sheltering from the weather. From the fuzzed up guitars to singer Kel's twin vocals to the pummelling drums there's plenty here to love. Buy it at Bandcamp.
Friday, 22 February 2019
Today's song is Youth and Thrash in 1990 taking Bananarama onto the dancefloor and under the spell of Sympathy For The Devil (everyone was into Sympathy For The Devil and those woo-woo backing vocals in 1990). The bassline's a killer too. Yes, you could probably mix it straight into Loaded. There's only one thing for it- it's Friday, get down.
Only Your Love (Youth And Thrash On The Mix)
Thanks to Mark for the tip with this one.
Thursday, 21 February 2019
2019 is going to be a year of 30th celebrations marking three decades since various albums and singles were released that shaped popular music and culture. By 1989 things were starting to happen for Happy Mondays. Bummed, their masterpiece, came out in November 1988 and sold slowly but steadily. From it's Central Station Design cover to the nude on the inner sleeve, from Martin Hannett's echo and delay drenched production to Shaun William Ryder's stream-of-consciousness lyrics, Bummed looked and sounded like no other record (although plenty of other records would soon be released that were inspired by Bummed).
The penultimate song is Do It Better and at only two minutes twenty-nine seconds it's the shortest song on the album. Musically it is miles from late 80s indie, Mark Day playing chords that other guitarists wouldn't even consider and Paul Davis' tinny keyboard swirling around over some drums that sound like they were recorded in a different room through an open door. Over this unholy stew Shaun chants 'On one, in one, did one, do one, have one, in one, have one, come on' before letting loose with...
'Swapped the dog for a cold cold ride
It was deformed on the in but deformed on the outside
Stuck a piece of crack in a butcher's hand
Demanded he give me my cat back
Don't purchase me coz I won't work
I gave away my oil and the seeds in my boots
There was a boom in the room as the papers marched in
He built himself together then sat down'
There's a second equally surreal verse before he goes back to the 'on one' chant but this time extending it - 'have one, have two, have three... good good good good, good good good good, good good good good, double double good, double double good'. Before being called Do It Better, the song's working title was E.
Do It Better
Do It Better was a live favourite, a monstrous, circling stomp. Thirty years ago today the group went into Maida Vale studios to record a session for John Peel, putting down versions of Do It Better, Mad Cyril and Tart Tart (broadcast a week later, 28th February 1989). For some reason, despite buying every Mondays single during this period I never bought the Peel Session and don't have an mp3 of it either. It's thirty seconds longer with Shaun's tambourine shaking away and the keyboards leading the groove. Double good.
Wednesday, 20 February 2019
I sometimes think I enjoy Four Tet's remixes (like yesterday's one of Bicep) much more than his own work but listening to 2003's Rounds again recently I was struck by what a good album it is and how well it has aged. It does not sound sixteen years old- much of it could have been made yesterday. Rounds was built almost entirely out of a sample library built up over years but sounds organic as well as electronic and processed. The tracks on Rounds are non-linear (the clue's in the title I guess), often built on little circling parts and loops that build and repeat, stopping and starting, shifting slightly, dropping out of phase and then in again. Intricate and focused music based partly on hip hop, jazz and folk but sounding nothing like any of those styles. I could post any of the ten songs that make up Rounds- here's the opener (if you don't know it go and listen to the closing song Slow Jam too).
Tuesday, 19 February 2019
This time last year two records were released, one of which I missed out from my end of 2018 list which shocks and appals me as it is a stunning piece of work. It is this one, Four Tet's remix of Bicep's Opal, an eight minute beauty built around a stuttering riff, bells and happy-sad synths. There wasn't much that came out last year that topped this.
I also re-found this, a track from Daniel Avery's Projector e.p., also out in March last year following his Song For Alpha album. There's a new album out in April, Song For Alpha 2, that pulls together all the remixes and e.p. tracks plus nine new ones (from the hundred or so he recorded that he then created the original album from). The one which grabbed me again recently is Shadow Mountain, a slow moving late night thing with waves, reverb and a snare but which turns towards the strobe part way through and becomes seriously intense.
One of the remixes included in Song For Alpha 2 is Jon Hopkins' rework of Glitter. This is a monster, centred on a massive rattling, brooding kick drum and tension that builds in waves around it. At about three minutes Hopkins starts to drip some repeating melodies in that dance around like moths circling a naked flame. Everything drops away five minutes twenty, the kick resurfaces, and then after a few seconds explodes in a burst of light and colour. Magic.
Monday, 18 February 2019
Ambient house from October 1992 at it's most drawn out and extended, a masterpiece from The Orb. Released as a standalone single (following the even longer and more extended Blue Room single). This mix, The Chocolate Hills Of Bohol Mix, was on CD2, from the days when multiple mixes and versions spread across a 7" single, one or two 12" releases plus possibly a white label, a cassingle and a couple of CD singles was considered an acceptable way to persuade your fans to part with their money. Assassin remains pretty absorbing even though nothing very much happens- this mix becomes a bit more intense and insistent around the ten minute mark.
Assassin (Chocolate Hills Of Bohol Mix)
Assassin marked the end of a phase of Orb activity. They left Big Life the following year and signed to Island, releasing Pomme Fritz in 1994. Thrash (Kris Weston) left shortly afterwards as well, after some disagreements with Alex Paterson about work rate, control and direction. Clearly things rankled with Kris for some time. In 2016 he wrote a lengthy blogpost 'setting the record straight' which you can read here if you're so inclined.
Sunday, 17 February 2019
A couple of years ago I got into the habit of posting songs by The Velvet Underground on a Sunday and having put last year's 'lost' but recreated 1969 album on the turntable yesterday morning it seems like a wise thing to reprise. Also this picture of Sterling Morrison has been sitting on my hard drive waiting for an opportunity to be used. I can't think of anything that would make this picture any better.
One Of These Days sounds like Buddy Holly after a night on amphetamines and booze, frazzled and fragile but still sharp enough to play. It first saw the light of day in 1985 on the VU compilation, a record that probably influenced most indie guitar bands in the subsequent few years more than any other. This 2014 mix tweaked the twangy guitars a little and added the extra 20 seconds at the end, a freakadelic collision of guitars.
One Of These Days (2014 Mix)
I've realised in the past decade that despite my love for John Cale during the early years of the Velvets, my favourite Velvets songs and period are the Doug Yule years. The much maligned Doug Yule who in 1972 Lou Reed wished dead. His contributions to the songs they recorded between 1968 and 1970, on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, are as much part of the sound of the group as anybody else- and Lou Reed never sounded as good again.
Saturday, 16 February 2019
Saturday- and the start of a week off work for me. To celebrate here's Andrew Weatherall playing live at Bodyhammer, The Pickle Factory in Bethnal Green back in November. Weatherall played a three hour set, all vinyl according to the blurb on Soundcloud. House music to lose yourself to in the small hours.
Friday, 15 February 2019
Out yesterday, the latest from Circle Sky (Richard Norris and Martin Dubka). The two singles they released last year- If I Let Go and Ghost In The Machine- were among my favourites of 2018. This new one looks set to join them and an album is due this year too. Love Hertz is hypnotic, waves of gentle, pitch bending synths, a pulsebeat and synthetic, mildly euphoric vocals from Iris.
Thursday, 14 February 2019
February 14th, Valentine's Day. St Valentine, a 3rd century saint, has been associated with the traditions of courtly love since the Middle Ages. As a priest in the Roman Empire who ministered to Christians during the period of their persecution he was caught and killed, martyred on 14th February 269 AD. According to a version of his death when he was arrested the Prefect of Rome ordered that he be either beaten to death with clubs or beheaded. But if you think he had it bad, consider this- I'm in charge of a Year 7 Valentine's disco tonight.
Love is the number one topic as the subject for songs and writers. As Joe Strummer said 'subject covered, case closed, don't you think?' A cursory search of my hard drive throws up hundreds with love in the title. Here's two for Valentine's Day, both ace in different ways.
Veteran disco remix King Tom Moulton took Diana Ross' 1976 hit Love Hangover and extended it for seventeen sumptuous minutes, all strings and breathy vocals until a shift in tempo at around six minutes. A song in a version that just has to be surrendered to.
Love Hangover (Unreleased Tom Moulton Mix)
In June 1977 Iggy Pop was recording Lust For Life with Bowie in West Berlin. To change things around a bit the players all swapped roles, guitarist Ricky Gardiner sitting in on the drums, drummer Hunt Sales took brother Tony's bass and and Tony took the guitar. Carlos Alomar joined in with Bowie on organ. Iggy improvised a vocal, a song to the girl. It's got a weird groove and is a wonderful way to close the album.
Fall In Love With Me
Wednesday, 13 February 2019
I pulled this out at the weekend- a collaboration between Daniel Avery and Justin Robertson, in his Deadstock 33s guise, together on a 12" single that came out on Optimo back in 2012. The four track e.p. was kicked off by Magnetic, a kraut-disco jam with a Hooky-esque bassline that still hits the spot in 2019. Music to eat up the miles on the autobahn.
Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Later on on Saturday night I started channel surfing and found the second half of a film about James Brown which included this clip of James and his band in 1969, live on the TV, doing I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing...
It's powerful stuff, the band drilled to within an inch of their lives, everyone dependent on James' direction, a soul band transformed into a rhythmic machine, everything concentrated on The One. Brown's influence at this point among the black community was such that following nights of rioting he went to the ghetto and told the young men to stop- and they did. His music had empowered the audience- Say It Loud, I'm Black And Proud- and in the late 60s he went further than anyone else, from soul to funk, stronger, deeper and blacker.
I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing is about aspiration and empowerment, educating yourself, self reliance, willpower. James couldn't understand why if he'd dragged himself up and out of poverty by sheer hard work and determination, everybody else couldn't do the same. Not everybody else had his talent, a point he might have missed. The Nixon Presidency was telling the nation that this was the way out of the ghetto, aspiration not welfare. It's a message Reagan and Thatcher would love and implement in policy a decade later (and still very much alive today). Brown would endorse Nixon in 1972 and later Reagan too. So I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing works both ways, a 1969 bolt of self-determination with a side order of Reaganite and Thatcherite 'get on your bike' message.
In 1986 a double album compilation of James Brown songs from the 1969 to 1972 period came out titled In The Jungle Groove. The songs on it were the ones that hip hop had sent centre stage again, the drums especially, and Clyde Stubblefield's drums even moreso. It's an absolutely essential compilation, nine hits of super funk, including The Funky Drummer, Give It Up Or Turn It Loose, Hot Pants, Soul Power, Talkin' Loud And Sayin' Nothing. The period the album covers includes the moment in 1970 when the band mutinied in a dispute over pay. James called their bluff, losing Fred Wesley, Maceo and Melvin Parker but at the last minute keeping Bobby Byrd and gaining Bootsy and Phelps Collins. This band went into the studio not long after their first live performance together and recorded Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine. In just two takes.
In The Jungle Groove is well worth tracking down. I think it was reissued in the early 2000s. This song opens it and, you probably don't need me to tell you, is unbelievably funky.
It's A New Day
Monday, 11 February 2019
A seventeen minute trip through Paris in the company of Malcolm McLaren and Catherine Deneuve on vocals sent through the ambient dub machine by Youth. A rambling, sprawling but never aimless Youth production from 1994 given a typically unwieldy name (The Emotional Curvature At A Given Moment In Space And Time). Enjoy the ride.
Sunday, 10 February 2019
In 1990 The Beloved, converts to dance from indie, put out an album called Happiness that was wide-eyed and progressive, full of the spirit and technology of the time. It was followed by a sister album of remixes and versions and a new song which they hoped would take them into the charts but didn't (It's Alright Now), one of the period's lost records. Blissed Out had a different number of tracks depending on which format you shelled out for, eight on the vinyl, eleven on the cd and sixteen on cassette (hardly anyone I knew had a cd player in 1990 and not buying cds was almost an act of faith and resistance- how times change).
Jon Marsh Tweeted yesterday that the cassette version was now available to buy/stream at the usual online stores so those extra tracks previously found on the tape were now out there again officially. The pick of these are the two final ones- firstly, the Timeless Dub of Don't You Worry is a dub- house treat (remix credited to Adam and Eve, a remix pseudonym for Jon and his wife Helena). Seems wrong to post mp3s of these two songs when they were only re-released yesterday and you can buy the pair for less than £2 so videos only I'm afraid...
Secondly the track Acid Love (from 1988) a proper UK acid house tune with a hazy vocal, in thrall to the sounds coming out of Chicago and Detroit, Phuture and Pierre, and designed to send ripples up and down your spine.
And here is the album version of one of the peaks from Happinesss, a song about being in ove with being in love...
Your Love Takes Me Higher
The photo at the top of this post is from an interview with Jon and Steve in The Face, published in November 1990. If you want the full hit, the interview and pages of the magazine are at Test Pressing.
Saturday, 9 February 2019
The Go-Betweens have been in the ether recently- the documentary has been on the TV and the recent album by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever has some songs that sound very like them, especially in the vocals. Checking my back pages here I was stunned to find out I've only posted anything by them twice and nothing since 2012 which seems really remiss of me.
The Go-Betweens made a handful of really good albums, records filled with unique and intuitive songs. I got into their 16 Lovers Lane album not long after it came out in 1988 and dug backwards from there. The compilation 1979-1990 was a must too, the first disc a Best Of and the second a round up of B-sides, early singles, radio sessions and lost songs, a real treasure trove. The group's founding members Robert Forster and Grant McLennan were inspired by Brisbane's nascent punk scene, The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and The Modern Lovers, heads full of poetry, and 60s and 70s films and both had something to say, Forster first and then Grant when he started writing songs too. They developed really distinct but complementary voices and the band that formed around them- first as a three piece with drummer Lindy Morrison and then later with Robert Vickers and Amanda Brown- filled out the twin acoustic guitars and made music to match the words. In places the words and the vocals are as good as anything anyone else was doing in the 1980s- the first line of the first verse of Man O' Sand To Girl O' Sea where Robert Forster growls 'I feel so sure about our love I'll write a song about us breaking up' comes from somewhere most singers weren't inhabiting.
Cattle And Cane was the first single off their Before Hollywood album, released in 1983. Sparse acoustic guitar and bass open the song, with a strange changing time signature throughout, music that seems both post-punk and traditional. Grant sings about fields of cane and a house of tin and timber, evoking the open expanses of his Australian childhood, then being a teenager and losing his father's watch while at school, then as a young man. It's a song about home written thousand of miles away, in a run down flat belonging to Nick Cave during a miserable London winter, on Nick Cave's guitar, while he lay unconscious nearby. The backing vocals at the end are particularly gorgeous.
Cattle And Cane
Friday, 8 February 2019
Somehow I managed to schedule two posts for yesterday. At this point Ren would yell at Stimpy 'Stimpy, you eediot!!'.
Pulling something out from my hard drive for Friday, the end of a long week at work, leads me to Scandi-disco, one of my sounds of now. This was from Lindstrom back in 2017, a drum machine led piece that brings the synths in gradually and ends up with something that keeps on rising and ends dramatically. Brought up in Stavanger, Norway and raised on country and western Lindstrom moved to Oslo and practically started the whole Scandi-house scene off back in the early 2000s.
Ren and Stimpy were a TV cartoon in the early 90s, a short tempered, emotionally unstable Chihuahua (Ren) and a good natured but dim cat (Stimpy). A cartoon for adults with innuendo, violence, darkness and trippy absurdity. It was rather good.
Thursday, 7 February 2019
More music with a non-US/European sensibility, today from South London chug collective Rude Audio and a track from their winning e.p. from last year. Rumble On Arab Street dubbed out by Valtow, the eastern melodies and snatches of phased vocals bleeding through the FX haze. Plenty of bass too.
The picture above (and the two below) come from a photo essay published in Life Magazine in July 1966, pictures taken in Watts, Los Angeles, a year after rioting. There was deep discontent in black neighbourhoods and a feeling that the civil rights movement had ground to a halt. Poverty, unemployment, discrimination and police harassment. 'Watts: Still Seething' ran the strapline on the cover. Still seething but very well dressed.
I was ploughing through a pile of cds behind the cd player in the kitchen, the spirit of Marie Kondo having entered this house while I was out at work. Most of them were either magazine freebies or mixes I'd burned myself, so inevitably some were keepers and some sent into the bin awaiting their place in landfill. I kept a Piccadilly Records 2017 sampler with an interesting looking tracklist and buried in the middle of it was this.
U'huh is by Sinkane (who made an e.p. back in 2015, four remixes of his songs by Peaking Lights, that was one of my favourite records of that year). Sinkane is Ahmed Gallab, a Sudanese- American, who combines Sudanese pop with whatever takes his fancy- dub, kraut, jazz, electronic music. U'huh is a joyful East African song with upbeat horns and a vocal saying that despite everything 'we're gonna be alright'. Watching the news currently I wish I shared his optimism.
This is from the Mean Dub e.p. which I highly recommend if you haven't got it, four of Sinkane's songs sent through the Peaking Lights dub blender.
Galley Boys (Peaking Lights Dub Mix)
Wednesday, 6 February 2019
A short, sharp blast of garage rock for Wednesday (also proto-punk, acid rock and psych rock too I believe), from 1966, the year of maximum garage rock. Count Five were from San Jose and this two minute fifty-six seconds is all you need.
Wonderful fuzz guitar riff, stomping drum, harmonica, lyric about being rejected by a girl, double speed Yardbirds inspired rave up section. Really, it's got it all.
In 1983 The Cramps had left IRS and were recorded playing live at New York's Peppermint Lounge. Lux and Ivy put the recordings out as a mini album called Smell Of Female. There aren't that many live albums I'd pull out and play very often but Smell Of Female is one of them, six tracks of gloriously unhinged psychobilly, culminating in their cover of Count Five's Psychotic reaction. Over at Julian Cope's Head Heritage website there is a review of Smell Of Female that has Lux and Ivy as Loki and the Goddess and their music as the shamanic and barbarian spirit of rock 'n' roll. You should read it. It's here.
Tuesday, 5 February 2019
Steve Mason on Saturday night in a room at the university student's union that holds about 900 people and used to be known as the Main Debating Hall but is now more prosaically called Academy 2. Why he's playing to crowds of less than a thousand is a bit of mystery but it makes for a better gig, a packed room and everyone close enough to be involved. Steve's run of solo albums from Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time in 2013 to Meet The Humans in 2016 to this year's About The Light show a man at the top of his songwriting. His band, including Little Barrie on guitar, are spot on too, sounding much more like a band than a solo artist with hired players.
Steve comes on wearing a plastic cape and boiler suit, a sort of Milletts version of Vegas Elvis, and sets about the songs, all fully realised and vibrant. Planet Sizes from Meet The Humans is an early highlight followed by a run of songs from the new album, all sounding like they've been around for ages. Half way through the set they play Oh My Lord and everything steps up another notch, the keyboards, Steve's vocals, Barrie's guitar, driving and full on.
Political ire isn't far away- America Is Your Boyfriend is accusatory and on fire and he jokes between songs about the anarchist songs of Monkey Minds that didn't make him a millionaire. The more personal ones really connect, especially two towards the end of the set- Alive and Come To Me, both of which seem to be celebrations of survival and still being here, of overcoming the black dog of depression- 'When you hold me close as the night unfolds and I convince myself that we will grow old'. A few years ago this corner of the internet was often graced by a reader from Leeds who went under the name of DVD (Dick van Dyke), a man whose comments were frequently better written than the posts they accompanied. I always associate Come To Me with him and the times he was going through back then. If you're still out there Dickie and reading this, this one's for you.
Come To Me
The encore rocks and has the crowd dancing to the Magic Bus guitars and hand claps of Walking Away From Love and the brilliant Spanish Brigade. Words In My Head, the band all with their hoods up, sends us out into the cold night on a high.
Support act Edgar Jones plays an acoustic set beforehand, mainly new material, but he finishes with this song from his band The Stairs back in 1992- Weed Bus, a song that describes travelling across Liverpool on the 147 and being so stoned he misses his stop. Edgar spends Steve's set watching just behind where we're standing, as does Mani, the rogue Stone Rose. The last time I saw Mani he was on stage at the Etihad playing to 60, 000 fans.
Monday, 4 February 2019
Eight minutes of blissed out synths and drum pads from Scottish DJ and producer Lord of The Isles with a track named after Rutger Hauer's famous line from Blade Runner. Tears In Rain was the closer on a 2011 release, an ep called We Were There (Freestyle Dancin').
Tears In Rain
If you want some freestyle dancing to brighten up your Monday this clip came my way over the weekend and it's ace, champion B-girls Wonda and Macca cutting some rug to Caterpillar by Royce da 5' 9".
Sunday, 3 February 2019
Andrew Weatherall's monthly session of musical exploration/bank balance busting beats is back to warm you up during this cold spell. Tracklist here. After a very long opener the second song is by Denis Wise (not the unpleasant one who played for Wimbledon and Chelsea in the 90s but the ambient/experimental tape pioneer). There's a new song from Weatherall, Cosmonautrix, a repetitive and echo-laden earworm about to appear on a Rocket Girl compilation, loads of spacey, experimental cosmisch and a generous helping of dub. Dig in.
Saturday, 2 February 2019
We've had fair old amount of snow this week. We woke on Wednesday to what for south Manchester is a good covering, a few centimetres, ungritted roads and an iffy journey to work. Work, up in east Lancashire, had its fair share too. Everything that was still on the ground then froze as the temperature barely got above zero all day. Yesterday we got more snow and driving home I stopped on the moors to photograph the Pennine hills that six months ago were on fire.
I've posted this before but it seems appropriate to post it again, a throbbing and wintry ride through the Scandinavian snow, by Stockholm's Paresse.
Hunters In The Snow
I'm going to see Steve Mason tonight, touring to promote his excellent new album About The Light. Back in the 90s his group The Beta Band made one of that decade's best songs, setting a standard that even they found it difficult to live up to. This song- slide acoustic guitars, Steve's doleful vocals, the shuffling rhythms and bass, the crescendo to the trumpets- is a beaut.
Dry The Rain
Friday, 1 February 2019
Following yesterday's remix of The Lilac Time here's some more Hypnotone. First that Primal Scream remix (first released as a white label and then as part of the Creation Keeping The Faith compilation, as essential a slice of 1991 as you're going to find). Come Together was/is a masterpiece in its Weatherall ten minute mix and the Terry Farley flipside. Hypnotone's version is more frantic, more bass-in-yer-face, more rave, a more tops off on the podium gurning at the lights kind of tune...
Come Together (TheHypnotoneBrainMachineMix)
The white label 12" has a lesser known remix of the other side, a more ambient dub mix by BBG (Big Boss Groove, best known for their Snappiness and Some Kind Of Heaven singles, both out in 1990).
Come Together (BBG Mix)
Hypnotone were Martin Mittler and Tony Martin. Their 1990 album was recorded at Spirit Studios in Manchester and released on Creation. The vocals on Dream Beam and Potion 90 were by Denise Johnson and led to her getting the gig with Primal Scream and singing on Screamadelica. Dream Beam then gained two remixes of its own, one from Balearic legend Danny Rampling and other, a sparser version by Ben Chapman (both posted here previously). Until fairly recently I didn't know that Dream Beam had a video but here it is in all its dayglo glory...
Hypnotone's album opens with Dream Beam and has the essence of 1990 running through its grooves. Italia is Italian house via Tariff Street M1, house pianos, bouncy bass and a rattling 808. Vocals on this one are by Pauline.
The last track on Hypnotone was Sub, a very nice, end of night, coming down kind of tune with some sublime synths.