Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Saturday 31 August 2019

Song For Denise

It's the last day of August, the end of summer pretty much. Back To School signs decorate the supermarkets, night is already drawing in noticeably sooner, the political situation is dire. The football's fairly grim from where I'm sitting too. Autumn is coming. But I refuse to go gently into September without a final summer musical blow out. This track, Song For Denise by Piano Fantasia, was an Italo- house single released across various European countries in 1985. It then got a speedy re-release on 12" in 1989 when house music demanded pianos, a certain bpm count and good feelings. According to an interview with him in N-R-G magazine from March 1990 Andrew Weatherall was the man in the UK who picked up on Song For Denise and spun it, pushing it into the clubs. Thirty four years later it sounds magnificent, the essence of summer days spent without a care in the world, suntans, shorts and cigarettes, sunshine and love. Yeah, the crashing drums are a bit mid- 80s but the keyboard stabs, the fat synth bass, those piano runs and chords and slightly melancholic synth strings are bliss.

Song For Denise Maxi Version

Friday 30 August 2019

As Flies To Wanton Boys

“As flies to wanton boys, we are for the gods. They will kill us for the sport. Soon, the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal. Only accidents, crimes, wars will still kill us but unfortunately crimes and wars will multiply. I love football.”

I'm not going to comment on the genius of Cantona, his quoting King Lear or his dress at a formal UEFA awards ceremony. It's all there to be enjoyed by each of us. It is worth in the clip below watching the faces of the footballers in the audience, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among them, and wondering what they are making of King Eric, the only footballer that matters. 

If You Catch Me At The Border I Got Visas In My Name

A month ago I watched the excellent documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., a film about the life, music and politics of M.I.A. The film is made up of home video footage, TV appearances, time spent with Justine Frischmann and on the road with Elastica, interviews and various shaky, hand held video camera and phone clips. It's a fascinating document, energetic and gripping. Much of the film centres around a visit to Sri Lanka which Maya extends longer than intended and the impact this has on her convictions and politics and the effect this then has on her music, her view of herself as an immigrant and a Londoner. As her music becomes more popular and widespread she walks into various controversies. She is accused by the US media of being a terrorist sympathiser (her father was a founding Tamil Tiger). She is set up by the New York Times and responds by tweeting the journalist's mobile phone number. She is invited by Madonna to appear with her at half time during the Superbowl and gives the whole of Middle America the middle finger. Her ambition and attitude are evident from the star and she comes across very well too, likeable and genuinely questioning her own attitudes and beliefs. She has swagger and self- belief and has made some of the best pop songs of the 21st century.

I've posted this before but it never gets tired, a thrilling pop- rap blast riding in on that Mick Jones Straight To Hell guitar sample, Diplo's production and M.I.A.'s lyrics about people's perceptions of immigrants (hence the gun shots and cash registers of the chorus).

Paper Planes

The best use of a Clash sample? Maybe so. Norman Cook and Beats International made very good use of Paul Simonon's bassline for Dub Be Good To Me in 1990, with Lindy Layton's sweet vocal and The SOS Band's song.

Dub Be Good To Me (LP version)

In 1994 Deee Lite sampled the wheezy organ from Armagideon Times for Apple Juice Kissing, a song about kissing on the back row of the movies and therefore a much less political song than Paper Planes, Straight To Hell or The Clash's cover of Willie Williams' reggae tune but all part of life's rich tapestry. And a very smart use of a Clash sample too.

Apple Juice Kissing

Thursday 29 August 2019

These Are Dark Days That We're Living In

I suppose at the least one thing was made very clear yesterday, 28th August 2019, and that is that there can be no doubts now about where we all stand. The hard right wing of the Tory Party that have taken over government of the UK, an unelected government and Prime Minister, have no fear of getting rid of democracy to impose their will on us. The decision to prorogue parliament, no matter what they say about the Queen's speech, normal process and preparing legislation for domestic policies, has been taken to enforce a No Deal Brexit. The trio who visited the Queen yesterday to tell her to sign the paperwork to approve suspending parliament, to prevent it from challenging the government and it's No Deal fanaticism, have shown what Johnson and his government are. This is an undemocratic, right wing coup. If this was happening in another country, another Western liberal democracy, the media would be reporting it as such, and portraying it as a step on the road to dictatorship. Yet still we see vox pop interviews on the TV news with ordinary people saying that Brexit must be delivered whatever the cost. The cost is democracy.

The government and its advisers care for nothing else except delivering Brexit at the end of October. The constitution, democracy, the United Kingdom (Scotland will surely depart in the next five years), peace in Northern Ireland, everything else, is collateral damage. This also illustrates the weakness of the British political system and fragility of an unwritten constitution. Tradition and convention have been bent out of shape and there is no actual system of checks and balances to protect us from a power grab by the executive. We have a constitutional monarch who cannot interfere with politics. At least in a republic the head of state has legal powers to prevent executives from running out of control. From the palace's point of view, I guess it has at least distracted everyone from that nasty business with Prince Andrew, the underage girls and the dead paedophile.

This is and always has been about the Tory party. In the 90s pro and anti- EU Tories split the Major government. They've been arguing about it ever since. One Tory Prime minister offered a referendum because the Tory party were frightened of the far right UKIP. Another attempted to appeal to both wings to get the UK out of the EU after the referendum. A third is now going to suspend parliament to drive No Deal through (partly in response to the battering the Tory party got from Farage at the elections in May). A few hundred thousand Tries chose the latest Prime Minister despite his history of lies and incompetence. We are all now paying the price of the Tory party and it's problem with Europe.

The opposition are hopelessly split. Individual MPs speak sense but cannot collectively agree on a strategy. There is no precedent for a legal challenge and the media have been undermining the courts since the 2016 vote (Enemies Of The People anyone?). The Labour Party has spent three years fudging the issue. A vote of no confidence looks unlikely to succeed- the maths doesn't add up; a government that doesn't care about parliament would probably attempt to ride it out anyway; a date for a general election would be determined by the Prime Minister and my guess is he'd go for some time after 31st October.

Following the moment in May 1970 that the US army acted against it's own people, shooting four students dead at an anti- Vietnam demonstration in Ohio, Neil Young sang 'tin soldiers and Nixon's coming/We're finally on our own'. I think that is where we're at, finally on our own. We have to take to the streets. Last night's protests can only be the beginning.

At the start of this 1993 Sly and Lovechild remix the voice of the Reverend Jasper Williams speaks out over some piano- 'these are dark days that we're living in, bad situations, a world of tensions and frustrations, joys and sorrows, violences and upheavals, you don't know hardly which way to turn... but you've got to have a determination that I'm going on anyhow'.

The World According To... Weatherall (Soul Of Europe Mix)

Wednesday 28 August 2019


Back from a couple of days in London late last night, from baking sunshine and temperatures well over 30 degrees. This Weatherall remix of Meatraffle is red hot too.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Well It's Not For A Price

I assumed 2016's Post Pop Depression was Iggy's last album- it had a finality about it, it seemed to say over and out. But no, Iggy's back. Like 1999's Avenue B and the pair of French inspired albums he did, this current single dials the rock back and shows a more contemplative, introspective sound.

James Bond is from Free, out in September, with contributions from jazz trumpeter Leron Thomas, singer Faith Vern and lyrics from Sarah Lipstate, Iggy letting others lead the way and him just happy to swim along with them. Last year's Teatime Dub Encounters e.p. with Underworld and now this show Jim/Iggy is still engaged, still inspired and still cutting it.

Monday 26 August 2019

Bank Holiday Monday Long Song

Released in August 1979, forty years old this month,  Bela Lugosi's Dead was the debut release by Bauhaus, a single recorded live (or undead) in the studio during a six hour session. The song is a weird opening statement, a nine minute dub goth track that starts out with skeletal drumming, creaking sounds as if doors are opening and then the scratchy dub guitar. Peter Murphy's vocals don't come in for several minutes, the song unwinding slowly but with intent- 'white on white translucent black capes/ Back on the rack/ Bela Lugosi's dead/ The bats have left the bell tower... Bela Lugosi's dead/undead undead undead'

Enjoy your August bank holiday in the sunshine.

Bela Lugosi's Dead

Sunday 25 August 2019

Some Music To Assist With Your Rituals

Not one but two Andrew Weatherall mixes for Sunday, three hours of solid gold listening on a bank holiday weekend. The sun's out too, in celebration.

On Friday night Weatherall sat in for Iggy Pop at BBC6, two hours of records starting with his own remix of Meatraffle's Meatraffle On The Moon (a spacious dub affair in the WRF/Fort Beulah territory he's bene exploring recently) and then taking in The Dream Syndicate, Curses, Ghost Culture, some new voodoo from Woodleigh Research Facility (about thirty minutes in) and much more besides. A Mix of Three Halves- the tracklist can be found here.

Weatherall 6 Music 230819

The second mix is an offering ahead of the Convenanza festival held in Carcasonne in late September, trailed with the line 'Acid house is a Dionysian response to both the pain and joy of living. With this in mind I have compiled some music to assist with your rituals'. This is an excellent hour long trip, with a few turns along the way, peaking with some Rude Audio at around fifty minutes.

Saturday 24 August 2019


Four Tet has been slipping new tracks out semi- regularly recently and has an new e.p. out now (Anna Painting, three new songs to accompany an exhibition of the paintings of his friend Anna Liber Lewis). Back in mid- July this one came out and I almost missed it.

If that doesn't put a smile on your face for the cost of one measly quid I don't know what will*. Following April's Teenage Birdsong, Dreamer is lighter than air and hypnotic, the little riffs and melodies dancing around in circles while the drums skip about.

* The photo of the French electricity substation I give you for nothing. While reversing to photograph it I drove over a bollard which collapsed and then popped up in front of the car which caused me to laugh for some time.

Friday 23 August 2019

Island Earth Is Happening Place

In the early 90s Sandals, a four piece from South London, signed to Acid Jazz and put out a series of 12" singles and an album called Rite To Silence. They came up in conversation in a social media post a few days ago and I thought it was time to put some of their music back up here (the last time they featured was back in 2012).

Sandals came together from the club scene and various record stalls and clothes shops, eventually rehearsing in the storage room of a book/record/clothing shop they ran in London's Trocadero. They mashed together a heady stew of beatnik spoken word poetry, soul, funk and jazz, lots of percussion and bongos, some heavy grooves and early 90s clubland sounds.

Debut single Nothing, from 1992, was produced by Leftfield and predates the trip hop sound by a year or two. Samples of voices, boom- boom- bap drums and whispered/stoned street poetry.

Nothing (Extended Version)

In the same year they put out a second 12" single, produced this time by Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner of Sabres Of Paradise, with a more progressive house sound. It was remixed by DSS (David Holmes and Ashley Beedle). It opens with Country Joe's Woodstock crowd participation exercise, 'Give me an F! Give me a U! Give me a C! Give me a K! What's that spell? What;s that spell?' The techno drums come in and Derek Delves begins singing/chanting about the mess we're in, war, the environment, general madness and bad times. It couldn't be more relevant today, the best part of three decades later, if it tried. This being a 1992 progressive house remix it goes on for twelve minutes, never really letting up. Exhilarating stuff.

We Wanna Live (DSS Remix)

Also from 1992 was this one, A Profound Gas, which I played loads at the time and still sounds great today. Flutes, guitars, pan pipes, chunky drums, production from Leftfield and more beatnik poetry with some memorable lines and imagery.

A Profound Gas (Vocal Mix)

The group disbanded in 1996 having had a second album rejected by London Records. It was eventually released in 2009 in Japan. A copy came my way recently and when I've fully had a chance to listen to it, more Sandals will be coming this way.

Thursday 22 August 2019

Hollow Earth

Long Meg and Her Daughters is a stone circle near Penrith, a megalith constructed somewhere between five and three thousand years ago, pictured here on Sunday afternoon when we visited in the Cumbrian drizzle. Long Meg herself is twelve feet high, lying outside the circle and decorated with some Neolithic carvings. Her daughters number fifty nine stones, some upright and some toppled. Legend has it that if you count the stones twice and get the same number bad luck will befall you. So we didn't count them. 

Ghost Box Records have been releasing albums since 2004, drawing on parts of British culture familiar to people born between the 1950s and 1970s- eerie public information films (where children often died in terrible and unexpected ways such as drowning in slurry pits on farms or playing in fields near pylons), library music, weird synth soundtracks from Open University programmes broadcast in the middle of the night, British sci-fi programmes and strange folk stories. As such some of their output is right up my street. Earlier this year one of Ghost Box's key artists, Pye Corner Audio, released an album called Hollow Earth, an album that forms a soundtrack to a descent into the earth, through caves and chambers. The synths sound like they date from Cold War East Germany (or early 60s Derbyshire). The individual tracks all work well but Hollow Earth is best taken as an album with the record forming a narrative, hints of rave and disco and house evident. It takes you down into the depths and then up again, finally drawing breath. 

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Black Acid

After Monday's Balearica and Tuesday's chugg we dive further down the electronic rabbit hole today with some premium grade acid. This track- Black Acid by Future Beat Alliance- came out last year but I only found it last weekend. Needless to say it has been getting played a lot since then. Driving from Penrith to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon, close to the line of Hadrian's Wall, it sounded immense.

The drums clatter away while the squiggly acid part lodges itself into the front part of the brain. Whooshing sounds come and go. The synths provide some emotive background wash. The whole thing circles around itself, breaking down occasionally to just the bassline before the drums and the acid return. Eventually, after tickling the nervous system and giving the synapses six minutes of joy it all dissolves into static and white noise. A 2018 take on Detroit acid by an English producer via Berlin.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Much Much Worse Where Clock Goes

This pair of chuggy, leftfield dancefloor monsters could have been posted on any given Monday in the Long Song slot, both being towards the ten minute mark. Both are from Duncan Gray with some sonic tweaking from Rich Lane in the mastering process. Both are getting frequent plays round here.

Much Much Worse is a stomper with  a massive hoover bass sound, a little clipped and funky guitar part and a flipped out synth topline that dances about all over the place, growing increasingly intense.

Where Clock Goes (long version) is a slow burning, dark disco number with wobbly bass, tsk tsk tsk hi-hats, and synth riffs that builds more and more and more, the whole thing then shifting several times during it's nine minutes thirty seconds running time. This could be twice as long and it wouldn't get boring.

A pound each at Bandcamp.

Monday 19 August 2019

Monday's Long Song

I don't know if we are in the midst of a Balearic revival or if it's just that I'm just finding a lot of it at the moment. This new track from Fjordfunk is a Balearic beauty, a slow motion eight minute epic with ripples of warm synth sounds, descending keyboard parts, a funky bassline and a guitar solo that stays just the right side of going over the top.

There is also a Hardway Bros remix that strips things back and heads into slightly darker territory although the twinkling synth and strings definitely keep things centred around the Mediterranean. Fjordfunk is producer Jann Marius Dahle from Norway.

Sunday 18 August 2019

August's Not For Everyone

It's been nearly a month since Andrew Weatherall graced these pages and helpfully so that I can plug that gap he's just recorded another of his monthly radio shows for NTS, Music's Not For Everyone. I know I say this every month but the sheer quality and variety of the tracks selected for these seems to get better and better as each month passes. August's edition is no exception, it is stuffed full of magic- electronic magic, dubby magic, psychedelic magic, hypnotic chuggy magic. There's a tracklist here. There's no talk in this one, just two hours of sequenced, back- to- back tunes with the Weatherall remix of the recently posted here Meatraffle song one of many highlights. Dig in.

Saturday 17 August 2019

If We Make The Same Mistake

Echo And the Bunnymen's 1981 album Heaven Up Here- a record that kept me company during a cold winter in rented accommodation many years ago- is possibly the group's masterpiece, the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, writing new songs that were a step up from their first flush, adding a weird tom-tom groove to their post- punk rock while constructing a visual world and a look, a style. In the years between 1980's Crocodiles and 1984's Ocean Rain the Bunnymen were unstoppable. Then it all stalled and fell apart- Bill Drummond excused himself from the manager's chair which played a part as did Pete de Frietas' erratic behaviour in 1984-5 and a growing gap between Mac on one side and Will and Les on another. But before that they were something else.

Heaven Up Here opens with three of the best album tracks any album can offer- the post- punk grandeur of Show Of Strength, the urgency of With A Hip and then the dark, bleak, brilliant Over The Wall. In some ways it's easy to want to stop the record there and go back to the beginning and  overlook the rest of the album but the closing few songs shouldn't be passed over, almost matching the opening trio for drama and intensity. Final song All I Want is a gem, led by Pete's percussion and drums, Will's spindly guitar lines being fired off and one of Les' brilliant basslines. On top of this Ian gives a grandiose vocal performance, on an album bejewelled with them. The closing seconds after the final climax has the band continuing the song, recorded very quietly and then fading out, as if they were in a room still playing and someone just closed the door while they carried on, unable to bring it to an end.  All I Want lets some light in to Heaven Up Here's icy gloom, like dawn breaking, especially when listened to with the song preceding it, the sail away dramatics of Turquoise Days. 

All I Want

Friday 16 August 2019

A Dance With Jupiter

More kaleidoscopic, electronic Balearic action today, brand new and from the most unBalearic environs of Leeds. Exotic Language is the first full length album from DJ and producer Joe Morris (who put out an e.p. last year called Jacaranda Skies that I really enjoyed), nine tracks taking in chilled out soundscapes, waves lapping on beaches, quality dub, spaced out excursions, Italo house and bass-led Chicago dancers. There's so much in here to enjoy, from the slower paced, relaxed stuff to the faster floorfillers- it's even managing to combat the particularly wet weather we're getting currently. A month's rain in a day forecast for today. The weekend looks fairly grim too. Summer seems to have stalled. Float away with Joe.

Thursday 15 August 2019

Rainbow Sun Electricity

I went back to this 2014 album recently and it fits into my current listening palette really well- Paradise Freaks by Seahawks. Opener Rainbow Sun, with guest vocalist Maria Minerva, is a beauty, fading in on wash of sounds and a synth part. When Maria's voice comes in over a bouncing synth bassline it's like the clouds parting and the sun breaking through.

Rainbow Sun

The rest of the album is lovely too, songs with titles about the sea, drifting, the moon, harbours and waterfalls, all filtered through an electronic haze, with live instruments from some of Hot Chip and production from Tom Furse of The Horrors plus guest vocals from Tim Burgess and Indra of Peaking Lights. Paradise Freaks works as an album too, a fifty minute drift, some tracks structured as proper songs and some textured, open ended soundscapes to wash over you.

Wednesday 14 August 2019


Boom! Two booms today- I can't remember exactly why either of these songs came into my head recently or if one sparked the other but I thought it seemed like a decent idea for a post.

Happy Mondays released Wrote For Luck in October 1988, a record around which an entire scene could be/was built, a riot of guitars and dance beats with Shaun Ryder's surrealist swirl of words reaching a peak. The first 12" release of Wrote For Luck with the famous Central Station sleeve had a B-side called Boom, a three minute extra that didn't make the cut for Bummed. Boom opens with heavily reverbed drums and then that queasy musical stew the Mondays created in 1988, keyboards and guitars and bass all fighting over the same ground, the instruments all over each other searching for space. Shaun delivers more wisdom from the microphone, tales of cabbies and drugs and living in a box with cardboard socks. I don't know if Martin Hannett produced Boom. He produced Bummed and this song sounds like it comes from the same place (a studio in Driffield, East Yorkshire with mixing done at Strawberry in Stockport).


In 1991 The Grid released a 12" called Boom, progressive house, pianos, synth stabs and bleeps, thunderous bass and chunky drums heading for deep space. The single came with several mixes. The one here is the 707 mix, presumably named after the drum machine which powers it. Not much to say about this slice of Richard Norris and Dave Ball music other than it is very good indeed.

Boom (707 Mix)

As a postscript- and this only occurred to me while writing this post- in the same year the two came together, Happy Mondays remixed by The Grid, two tracks from their Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches album. It was a 12" I didn't get at the time- you couldn't buy everything could you? I don't own either of the remixes on CD or mp3 either so it's Youtube only. One of The Grid remixes was of Bob's Yer Uncle, Shaun's dirty talking sex song (a song incidentally that Tony Wilson selected to be played at his funeral which must have caused a few sniggers). The other remix was of Loose Fit, a low slung, smokey vibe of a song with a snakey guitar line and Shaun muttering and growling about a loose fit being his way of life. The Gulf War features too- 'gonna buy an air force base, gonna wipe out your race'. The Grid's Loose Fix remix isn't hugely different for the first few minutes, reworking the drumbeat and stretching everything out, gradually departing at the half way mark and going off into the distance slowly and hazily.

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Take My Advice Now Hear You This

Steve Cobby, Dennis Bovell and Jimmy Brown have recorded together as BBC and since the start of the month have been offering Quality Weed for your enjoyment. This is serious stuff, heavy duty Jamaican rhythms and sonorous, chanted vocals from Mr Bovell, deep and dubby with instrumental and remixed versions. The remix version, which picks up the pace a bit, is currently my favourite. Quality Weed will be available in a physical format in September but in the meantime you can buy Quality Weed from BBC's page at Bandcamp.

Monday 12 August 2019

River Splashes Against The Rocks

There's yet another thirty year anniversary taking place today. Three decades ago today The Stone Roses played Blackpool's Empress Ballroom, a summer jaunt to the coast by a group then riding the absolute crest of the wave. The gig was the first of the group's one off specials, an attempt to stage gigs that were out of the ordinary, to give fans something special. The Empress Ballroom, part of the Winter Gardens, is a beautiful room with Victorian coving, a sprung floor, balconies and glass chandeliers. The band spent the day of the gig larking abut on the seafront for the NME's photographer before playing a perfect show. A Dave Haslam DJ set warmed the crowd up (not they needed it, everyone was more than ready and in the mood). Ian took to the stage with a flashing yo-yo and a cry of 'Manchester, Manchester, international, international..' and then it was take off- most of the debut album plus Where Angels Play and Mersey Paradise.

Mersey Paradise

Thirty years on from its appearance as the B-side to She Bangs The Drum and the penultimate song played at Blackpool, Mersey Paradise became the song of our summer holiday this year. My daughter, a slowly growing interest in Manchester's musical history, suddenly declared that the song was her new favourite. It's one of mine too, full on psychedelic pop- Squire's fast, circling, chiming guitar riff and Reni's brilliant drumming (and backing vocals) power the song onward through it's two minutes forty-four seconds. Ian surfs on top, the words tumbling on top of each other, occasionally bubbling up for the listener to singalong- 'she doesn't care for my despair', 'river cools where I belong'.

It turns out that I've been singing the wrong words for nigh on three decades- 'river splashes against the rocks/ A slow escape and hope the tracks won't/ lead me down to docklands/ it's all places where we fall to pieces' has been my version since 1989. According to all the lyric sites it's actually-

'River splashes against the rocks
And I scale the slope, I hope the tracks won't
Lead me down to dark black pits
Or places where we fall to bits'

Can't see me changing that habit now but you live and learn. Thankfully I'm much better with the second verse.

'As I stare an oil wheel comes
Sailing by and I feel like
Growing fins and falling in
With the bricks, the bikes, the rusty tin cans
I'll swim along without a care
I'm eating sand when I need air
You can bet your life I'll meet a pike
Who'll wolf me down for tea tonight'

There's a lack of guile and a real pre-fame sense to the words to Mersey Paradise, lyrics that they couldn't have written later on. The Mersey runs through south Manchester, forming a southern border to Chorlton, where Ian and John lived at the time most of the first album's songs were written and it's easy to imagine the song being written following a walk in Chorlton Waterpark. The words hint at something darker too, a drowning, love, heartbreak and despair on the banks of the river. A song they put on the B-side of a summer single too along with the much longer, majestic, Hendrix pop of Standing Here. Who'd have guessed that within in a year it would be all over? Or that a B-side from a 12" single in 1989 would still be turning kids on to the band in 2019?

Sunday 11 August 2019

Sergeant On Radio Spacejunk

I found this on Mixcloud (via Facebook I think) and it's a bit of treat, two hours in the company of Will Sergeant and his record collection. There's plenty of songs that you can imagine a younger Will using as the starting point for Bunnymen songs- some psychedelia, some indie, some jazz, plus some chatter in between the songs. It's just right for Sunday morning with a cup of tea/coffee and some toast.

Saturday 10 August 2019

They Say That Country Life Is Hard To Beat

It would be a strange trip to Brittany without taking in some prehistoric sites. These three menhir stand in the very quiet village of Plomelin not far from Quimper. I like a bit of a challenge with standing stones and dolmen, a field to trek through or a bit of a search but no such luck with these stones- they stand in a very well cared for spot at the centre of Plomelin with a space to park the car, a distillery across the road and a stream running through them with a small bridge.

Writing about prehistoric stones leads to going on to write about Julian Cope. Looking back at his rebirth in 1990 he was way ahead of the curve with all sorts of things- opposition to the Poll Tax was a very current concern shared by hundreds of thousands and then there's his environmentalism, distrust of government, interest in women's rights, opposition to mass car ownership and car culture, hatred of organised religion (on the sleeve notes to Peggy Suicide he writes at length about the replacement of Communism by radical Islam in the eyes of the military, governments, media etc).  Copey was in there with all of these and more. His book on prehistoric sites The Modern Antiquarian then placed him as a serious chronicler and authority with actual historians calling his book 'the best popular guide to Neolithic and Bronze Age sites for half a century'.

In 1994 Cope released a CD single, four versions of his song/album track Paranormal In The West Country. To get it you had to buy his Queen Elizabeth album. This would come with a sticker which you had to return on a used envelope. On receipt of that Cope would send you the Paranormal CD. The best of three new versions was this one recorded with The Leone Quartet.

Paranormal In The West Country (With The Leone Quartet)

Julian has a new album for sale at his Head Heritage site, a five track mainly instrumental tribute to John Balance of Coil called John Balance Enters Valhalla, 'five mesmerising rhythm- laden tracks... hefty grooves that shimmer and shake' according to the man himself. It's difficult to keep up with Cope and his output but this one is worth your time and money. Buy here.

Friday 9 August 2019

There's Gonna Be Meatraffle On The Moon Tonight

Reasons to love this song and band.

1. They are called Meatraffle- on the name alone they are half way there.
2. The song below, Meatraffle On The Moon, is a slice of brilliance- a slow beat, some sci fi synths and distinctive vocals. Post-punk and electronic but totally 2019.
3. Meatraffle have an album out at the end of August called Bastard Music.
4. Bastard Music deals with 'good old fashioned socialist propaganda'. Usually I try to find the words myself and don't just copy and paste from a band's press release but this is perfect- 'we wanted to sound like The Residents composing an anthem for International Workers Day, an international day of action where the proles down tools and piss off to the seaside simultaneously all around the world, and thus the global Capitalist fiscal system crashes. Meatraffle on the Moon is an imaginary tale of exploitation of non-unionised space workers in intolerable mental and physical conditions working in our little solar system with the only antidote to their heartache and a complete buckle of legs…a moonbase karaoke bar!'
5. There's an Andrew Weatherall remix of Meatraffle On The Moon forthcoming.

Order it at Bandcamp or the usual record shops. 

Thursday 8 August 2019

I've Never Met Anyone Quite Like You Before

On visiting the above building, phare de la Coubre (a lighthouse on the Atlantic coast of France near Royan) I walked along a path looking at the floor and was stuck by these adjoining pieces of gravel.

They reminded me of Peter Saville's sleeve for New Order's 1981 masterpiece Temptation.

You may say, as a friend has suggested on social media, that my interest in New Order 'may have spilled into less than healthy territory' but in response I say 'yeah but it does look a bit like the Temptation sleeve'.

Temptation was the moment New Order escaped the shadow of Joy Division- previous single Everything's Gone Green was a quantum leap into dance music with some dub production techniques (learnt from Hannett, now abandoned as they produced themselves) but it still had Joy Division's DNA running through it. Temptation was brighter, the synths right at the fore, Hooky's bassline and Bernard's choppy disco guitar leading the charge along with the 'ooh ooh ooh ooh' vocal intro. It is also the first New Order song that is distinctly New Order lyrically, a step away from the portentous, Ian Curtis indebted lyrics of the band's songs up to that point. It's fair to say that Temptation's lyrics Curtis couldn't have written anything like Temptation- it's got a lightness, an optimism and a simplicity he wouldn't have come up with. 

Hooky talks about the famous 'eyes drop' in his autobiography, a moment guaranteed to stop hearts and turn gigs. In some ways it could be their greatest song and their greatest single- I know some people think it is. It certainly pointed to the road ahead and the way out of the abyss. They've recorded and released it in various versions. The original 12" from 1981 is still the go to version for me, miles better than the 1987 re-recording for Substance (which has its merits but feels smoothed out).

They re-did it in 1998, flushed by getting back together. The '98 version came out on the extra disc on the Retro box set. It's a decent updating of the song, modernised without losing the ramshackle charm of the original, with Bernard's guitar's well up in the mix and his voice clearly more used to singing than he was in the early 80s. By this point the song had found a new life in the scene in Trainspotting where Renton withdrawals and Kelly McDonald sings to him in a cold turkey dream at the end of his bed. 'Oh you've got green eyes, oh you've blue eyes, oh you've got grey eyes' 

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Lost Heads

We're back. A day's drive from southern Brittany yesterday with a three hour pause while the ferry captain took over saw us get through the door at just before midnight. The coastline and beaches with their clusters of pine trees and beautiful, golden-to-deep-blue dusks seem a long way away now. The Atlantic coast near Royan is wonderful, packed full of coves and beaches and forests, lots of places to stop and wile away the hours. South Brittany, particularly round the estuary of the river Odet and the town of Benodet is also a lovely place with miles of rocky coastline, some sandy beaches, the undulating Breton countryside and cheap wine and food.

While we were gone Britain seems to have been overtaken by a right wing coup, led by an English, No Deal fanatic and his cronies. Keeping in touch at a distance was pretty depressing and after a few days I tried to ignore political events in the UK as far as possible. Meanwhile a dam not too far from here threatened to collapse and destroy the town of Whaley Bridge. Local roads here were flooded, the Mersey was at an all time high, routes to the airport were closed.

Here's a new hit of summer psych- disco from Moon Duo, Ripley's guitar falling in sun dappled waves and droplets over the beat with some very laid back twin vocals. The album is out at the end of September but the songs released so far seem perfect for August.