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Monday 31 August 2020

Monday's Long Song

There's always something mildly disappointing, not to say a little depressing, about the end of August bank holiday. The weather is often well past the height of summer, the new school year hangs over it like a flat grey cloud, autumn is just around the corner, only a day away, and this year more than most it seems like a hollow celebration.

But anyway, cheer up.... this e.p. came out back in June, Where Things Are Hollow 2 by Pye Corner Audio, a follow up to a 2017 e.p. (inspired by and dedicated to the memory of Mr Weatherall) with three new Pye Corner Audio tracks and a remix courtesy of John Talabot, a record full of analogue electronics and pulses and dreamy ambient sounds. The John Talabot remix of Resist is fairly full on, verging into techno territory, hypnotic and beguiling with a bassline that bounces around like a wasp in a jamjar. Buy it at Bandcamp.

Sunday 30 August 2020

Emergency Broadcast System

Sean Johnston has been keeping the A Love From Outer Space flag flying in the face of the shutdown of venues and clubs since the middle of March and keeping the slow motion disco going after the passing of his ALFOS partner Andrew Weatherall. During lockdown he began a series of Emergency Broadcasts, beaming three hour mixes live from his house into the ether. The ninth Emergency Broadcast occurred on 21st August, five hours of cosmic delights, chugging beats and groovers from the Belgian New Beat/ Balearic diaspora, unfolding calmly and in no hurry to get anywhere quickly.

The tracklist is longer than the phonebook. You can find it here. The spirit of ALFOS lives on.

Saturday 29 August 2020

Lotta Continua

More Durutti Column, a band who have been soundtracking my life for the last few weeks. This song comes from LC, Vini's follow up to the debut Durutti Column album, The Return Of The Durutti Column. LC was recorded at home onto a TEAC four track and one of the sounds of the album is tape hiss- not that it spoils it, it's just there. LC opens with the stunning Sketch For Dawn 1 and near the end comes The Missing Boy, Vini's tribute to Ian Curtis. In July 1981 Durutti Column played at a festival in Kaivopuisto Park, Helsinki, along with ACR and Kevin Hewick. Fifteen thousand Finns had the pleasure of watching Vini and Bruce Mitchell. This clip of them playing The Missing Boy is mesmerising, Bruce watching Vini playing while keeping the rhythm. At one point Bruce has an expression on his face which suggests he can't quite believe what they are creating (the part from roughly four minutes forty onward is especially good).

Never Known is a highlight of LC, a few minutes of Vini's delicate guitar playing and a reverb- laced drum machine. There's also Jacqueline, a song written for and named after the wife of Bruce Mitchell.


LC stands for Lotta Continua, the struggle continues.

In 1991 Durutti Column played at Cities In The Park, a festival in Heaton Park, north Manchester, in memory of the recently deceased Martin Hannett. Sunday's line up featured a slew of Factory acts- ACR, Revenge, Cath Carroll, The Wendys, Electronic, Happy Mondays- plus De La Soul and 808 State. The weather was good and everyone had a good time. Durutti Column played in the middle of the afternoon, their subtle minimal melodies drifting out over the park. Cities In The Park was filmed and later released on video- my VHS copy is long gone but I bought it when it came out and rushed home to play it, hoping to spot myself and my friends in it somewhere, even if only fleetingly. No such luck. A friend on social media is in it, bobbing about in the crowd, in fact he appears in the crowd during the Durutti Column clip, dancing away at two minutes forty five behind the man standing still with a frown on his face. The Youtube clip won't embed but Durutti Column playing Fado is here. The song starts with some of Vini's trademark guitar finger picking, fed through an echo space unit, and his singing. It builds over several minutes, Bruce coming in at two minutes and then joined by some haunting (sampled) backing vocals, and by the time Vini is strumming the main riff over and over the song is completely entrancing. By the time Fado came out on an album, 1994's Sex And Death, Factory had collapsed. Tony Wilson tried to relaunch the bankrupt record company as Factory Too (ironically a subsidiary of London Records, a final kick in the teeth). Factory Too was a vehicle for Durutti Column albums as much as anything else (anything else being albums by Space Monkeys and Hopper) and continued until 1998.

Friday 28 August 2020


Out today from Woodleigh Research Facility, the latest monthly emission from Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh. As there have been every month since January, when Andrew was still very much with us, there are three songs here available from the usual digital outfitters.

Where Nobody Else is superb science fiction ambient techno, Nina's disembodied voice over the top, like a strange tannoy announcement, 'it's time to go', over and over.

Lottie's Theme starts with a child's voice and then drums, metallic sounds and industrial noise, seven minutes of insistent rhythms and sounds before the child, presumably Lottie, returns at the end.

Downhill was on a WRF mix a few years ago and it's exciting that it's finally getting a proper release. WRF pound out more of their spooked, throbbing sounds as a vehicle for the voice and poetry of Joe Duggan. Over a marching beat and repeating bass wobble Joe describes the walk from his house to the pub 'from where I live, it's downhill all the way'. More rhythm, more space and more echo and Joe's Derry tones, 'Has anyone seen Joe? Where'd he go?'

Thursday 27 August 2020


This came out back at the end of June and I've only really got around to it now but it's paying off now the nights are getting darker noticeably earlier and this year's dystopia enters autumn. Minimal and motorik dance rock in a monochrome sleeve from The Vacant Lots, a two man New York based band who take that cold, chilly Suicide sound and add dead- eyed vocals and fuzz guitars to it. This album, their third, was recorded using Alan Vega's Arp synth and with it's title nods to both William Burroughs and Joy Division. Eight songs in half an hour- then go back to the start and play it again.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Corner Of My Sky

Kelly Lee Owens new album is imminent (Inner Song, out on Friday). This song, a deep, drifting and droning piece of electronic music with a vocal from John Cale came out recently ahead of it. The buzzing bassline and synth strings coupled with Cale's rich voice, particularly when he sings 'the rain, the rain, thank God the rain', make for an intense and emotional ride. Both Kelly and John have spoken of the need to reconnect with their Welsh roots and in the lyrics Cale tells the story of the land, through song, poetry and the spoken word.

Kelly's debut album came out in 2017, one of my favourites of that year. Last year she collaborated with Jon Hopkins on Luminous Spaces, a seven minute piece of brilliance. Covid delayed the release of Inner Song but its timing now at the end of summer seems perfect.

Tuesday 25 August 2020


When you disappear to a place like Anglesey for a couple of days it's easy to believe the issues that have swallowed us up this year are not so very important. There aren't many people around- the surfers at Rhosneigr were taking advantage of the wind and the waves and the fish and chip shop had a one way system, people were wearing face masks as they came out of or went into shops, but if you just ambled about the island, visited the fairly quiet beaches and bays and stopped off to look in on some of Anglesey's Neolithic sites, the stresses of recent months vanished a little. The 2020 fear of being caught without hand sanitiser never entirely goes away though. We were trapped in the rain in a bus stop eating fish and chips because we're still not taking Isaac into indoor cafes or restaurants and when we stopped off in Conwy on the way home it was disturbingly busy (at least to us with someone who we are effectively still shielding, it was). Everything's got so complicated and difficult this year. Sitting in a caravan in a field is a good way to simplify things even if it's only for a short while.

This song from 1991 is never far away from me- World Unite by World Unite. It came out on Creation Records when Alan McGee discovered acid house/ rave was the new rock 'n' roll and put out a load of dance records (later brought together on the era defining Keeping The Faith compilation). World Unite is seven an a half minutes of good vibes, trippy dub house, a bubbling synth part and bassline, a breakbeat, some organ, and a spoken/ sung verse immediately followed by a sampled global/ world music female voice.

World Unite

World Unite produced nothing else as far as I can see, just one 12" single with this version on one side and the Unitemix on the other. The names credited with writing the song are Stacey/ Potter, it was recorded at Vons Studio in Islington and engineered by Simon Daniels. Someone recently suggested to me that World Unite were probably a bedroom producer and a drug dealer mate of McGee's who found themselves together for a few hours with a sampler and some ideas. The press release that came with my white label copy says 'World Unite are Martin Stacey and Graeme Potter, both of whom hail from Essex- although Martin now lives in Wapping and Graeme in Bath. This is their first record together. Martin (male vocal) encourages us to 'Listen to the voice of the world unite/ Believe in love, believe in life/ Live and let live/ Live and let love', over heavy rhythmic drums and ethnic female chanting, from Madagascar. Real hot!'

In a way I don't need to know who Stacey and Potter were/ are. The idea of making one perfect but largely unknown single, releasing it and then disappearing, is very appealing to me, especially one bringing joy to a small number of fans nearly three decades later.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Well I Was Walking Down The High Road

It would have been Joe Strummer's 68th birthday yesterday had he lived. The world has been a poorer place for his absence. He would have had plenty to say about the events and issues of recent years- The Clash were a band who looked outwards and embraced the world in all it's colours and varieties, his songbook is full of songs sympathetic to the plight of immigrants from Something About England to At The  Border, Guy and he would have had no time I believe for rabble rousing populists intent on breaking bonds between people and creating distrust and division. In 1999 during a magazine interview he said 'In fact, punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human being. Fuck being an asshole...'. 

On Global A Go Go, his second album with The Mescaleros, he sounds like a man reborn, there's a joy to the songs, the band are attuned to Joe's worldview and way of working and he writes some of the best songs of his solo career. On Bhindi Bhagee he takes a chance encounter in the street and the wide selection of takeaway food available on Willesden High Road and turns it into an affecting, giddy, life affirming song, this multinational, global food range causing him to throw his arms open and welcome an Australian tourist to 'the humble neighbourhoods'. The stranger in the street asks him what his music is like...

'So anyway, I told him I was in a band
He said, "Oh yeah, oh yeah, what's your music like?"
I said, "It's um, um, well, it's kinda like
You know, it's got a bit of, um, you know"
Ragga, bhangra, two step tanga
Mini-cab radio, music on the go
Um, surfbeat, backbeat, frontbeat, backseat
There's a bunch of players and they're really letting go
We got, Brit pop, hip-hop, rockabilly, lindy hop
Gaelic heavy metal fans, fighting in the road
Ah, Sunday boozers, for chewing gum users
They got a crazy DJ and she's really letting go'
His outlook and politics in a song. Happy birthday Joe. 
Bhindi Bhagee

We're off to Anglesey for a couple of days, a chance to unplug and recharge in Ynys Mon. See you next week. 

Friday 21 August 2020


Doves returned in June after a lengthy absence and gave us a new song, Carousel, the latest instalment of their rainswept northern melancholia. Driven by some intricate drums and decorated with some lovelorn guitar sounds Carousel sounds like a band fired up again after a rest. There's a lot more going on here than first meets the ear and it rewards repeated plays.

Tickets for the gig at the Apollo sold out before I got one. I dithered. Part of me is still not convinced indoor gigs next March will be either going ahead or a good idea. I've been into work this week for the first time since March, the building largely empty except for some builders and various staff trying to make the school 'Covid secure' for the return of 1300 young people in two weeks time. Having spent the last five months shielding and living a pretty reclusive life it's really weird suddenly being indoors with other people, who have varying degrees of ideas about what constitutes social distance and also how every surface, everything I touch, I look at differently. Going from shielding to being in a classroom with thirty teenagers is going to be a sudden and massive jump and as far as I can see, whatever the government would like us to believe about eating out and helping out, the pandemic is still very much with us.

I heard this on the radio recently, those little guitar lines, thump of the bass drum, the vocals. It sounded exactly right and very apt for 2020. When Doves get it right, they really get it right.

There Goes The Fear

Thursday 20 August 2020

Love Sent From Bordeaux

I found this video clip a few days ago, Durutti Column playing in Manchester Cathedral in 1985. The song is Bordeaux Sequence, a beautiful Vini Reilly song, one of his best and the performance as you'll see is stunning. The footage, filmed onto video tape, is astonishing too, the close ups of parts of the cathedral, it's stained glass and statues, and the expanded mid- 80s Durutti Column, a stick thin Vini in white shirt playing guitar, viola player John Metcalfe (whose contribution is immense), vocals by Vini's then partner Pol and the ever wonderful Bruce Mitchell on drums. Words can't really do justice to the clip- one of my friends on social media said that 'parts of (the video) had me holding my breath' and I know exactly what he means. He also said that the film clip looks like it could have been made decades ago or yesterday which is also true.

The song started life on 1983's Another Setting album, recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport, with Vini singing in his fragile, whispery voice and sparse drums from Bruce. By 1985 it had been fleshed out as seen above, with viola, keys and Pol singing instead of Vini. When he came to re- record the song it was with Stephen Street in the producer's chair and the album was 1987's The Guitar And Other Machines (the other machines of the title were samplers, sequencers and drum machines), renamed as Bordeaux Sequence. In 1988 Durutti Column played at the WOMAD festival in St Austell, Cornwall. Former ACR and Swing Out Sister's Andy Connell played keyboards but they performed without Pol. Vini sings the song instead. It's another breathtaking live take on the song (originally released on a four song single in 1989).

Bordeaux Sequence (Live at WOMAD 1988)

'In France you are sleeping
I wish I could see you
It's always this way
Love sent from Bordeaux'

The picture is Stretford not Bordeaux or St Austell, less romantic but closer to home.

Wednesday 19 August 2020


Rival Consoles (known as Ryan Lee West in real life) has a new album out, Articulations, a follow up to 2018's Persona. The same manipulation of sound and layers of synths, intricate rhythms and ebb and flow of the music, melodies and emotion pushing through. It's all really good stuff and shows that electronic music can be as warm and deep as anything created by people with guitars. The album can be bought both physically and unphysically at Bandcamp.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Dissident Again

Glok's Dissident album was one of my favourites of last year. It has just been joined by a companion album, eleven remixes of songs from the original. One of them, the Leaf edit, came out last year but the rest are all new and of a very high standard. It occurred to me when the vinyl arrived that this will be one of the last times a new track is released bearing the words Andrew Weatherall Remix in brackets after it. Andrew's remix of Cloud Cover is a slowed down, chilly, electronic groove, ghostly synths and deep bass and a rattling snare drum, the sound of high rises and underpasses.

There's plenty else to get into across the double vinyl/ eleven digital songs. Andy Bell's own fifteen minute remix of Pulsing is a joy, quarter of an hour of ambient/ shoegaze crossover. The Minotaur Shock Remix of Weaver and C.A.R. remix of the same song take the same source material and end up in very different places with it. Timothy Clerkin's new version of Projected Sounds is a stunner, an intense acid crawl with trippy backing vocals and buzzsaw synths.

Richard Sen's eight minute remix of the title track opens the album, a dark, heavy groove with guitars and spaced out sounds bouncing around, the wah wah riff dropping in and out, skyscraping solo notes and a juddering bass riff, a remix designed for soundsystems in the woods long after dark.

Monday 17 August 2020

Monday's Long Song

In the wake of my Kylie ICA for The Vinyl Villain reader Tom W suggested that I should have included the Brothers In Rhythm remix of Where Is The Feeling?, a 1994 single that flopped (it was at the time her least successful charting single, in the days when these things mattered). Reader Khayem then got int touch to send me this...

Where Is The Feeling? (BIR Soundtrack Mix)

Brothers In Rhythm were a London based DJ/ production team who worked on much of the 1994 album including Confide In Me. On Where Is The Feeling? they abandoned all restraint and went for a thirteen minute epic. Opening with hi- hat and atmospherics and acoustic guitar the song builds slowly, strings added to the mix, some synths and eventually Kylie's whispered voice after four minutes. The bassline throbs away and Kylie sings 'any time you want me to/ I can make you happy', over and over, the strings sweeping in and out. Things reach a peak at seven minutes with a dramatic breakdown, Kylie's voice and thunder, and then the breakbeat re- enters and the second half gets under way. It's a long trip and worth every minute, all the way through to the end, the fade out of the music and there's just Kylie saying 'Just tell me everything's gonna be alright'.

Sunday 16 August 2020

A New World

Today I offer you some music from the outskirts, from the fringes of the internet, musicians toiling away in bedrooms, backrooms and home studios. First up from Leicester- a city that hasn't been allowed out of lockdown yet- come The Smoke Test. Ambient, retro- futuristic, instrumentals music. Colours comes over like a 1970s Open University theme tune, starting at midnight on BBC 2 and running into the small hours....

The New World opens with long chords and sci- fi ambience but is soon joined by an electric guitar.

Clouds3 is a journey into inner space.

In Devon, land of coastal cliffs, overcrowded beaches and the English Riviera, Ray Parkes is creating guitar led instrumentals, in a similar field to Mark Peters and his 2017 Innerland album or some of Vini Reilly's guitar playing. Medina is melodic and inventive, growly in places, some tension underneath the surface.

Saints plays a pair of guitars off against each other, some Spanish sounding finger picking and washes of chords from a keyboard.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Sketch For Summer

Sketch For Summer is the opening song on 1980's The Return Of the Durutti Column album, a three minute introduction to the work of Vini Reilly, a song combining simplicity and beautiful, languid guitar playing.

Sketch For Summer

In 1980 Durutti Column suddenly became a solo project when the rest of the band dissolved overnight, about to record an album. They had appeared from the remnants of a local punk band called Fast Breeder and contributed two songs to Factory's first release, A Factory Sample. When Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus arranged for their debut album to be produced by Martin Hannett, three members walked out leaving guitarist Vini on his own. Not believing that a one man group would be allowed to record nevermind  release an album Vini had to be coaxed by Hannett into getting out of bed but over a few days Vini played guitar and Hannett played echo unit, delay and drum machine. Vini told Hannett that he didn't want the 'distorted, horrible guitar sound' and Martin went on to get sounds out of Vini that no one else was doing. Hannett then pulled three days worth of guitar playing into shape and a nine track lp was created that Vini didn't beleive would appear even when Wilson gave him a white label copy of it.

This being Factory in 1980 and Wilson being Vini's manager the entire early Durutti Column is covered in Situationist jokes and references. The group's name was a reference to an anarchist unit that fought in the Spanish Civil War. The album's title, The Return Of The Durutti Column, was taken from a 1967 Situationist poster. The initial run of the album came in a sleeve covered in sandpaper, another Situationist joke, borrowed from Guy Debord, an album that would over time destroy the rest of your record collection. All of this is very Factory, very knowing and part of the legend but listening to Sketch For Summer is the whole deal in itself, a song that fades in with Hannett's birdsong, created on one of his delay boxes, and then a drum machine smothered in echo and tape hiss before Vini's guitar playing arrives. Melodies played through some chorus and echo FX pedals, and little runs of notes, lyrical without words, the repeated refrain around two minutes thirty and then the run out with the drum machine and the birds is just perfect.

Friday 14 August 2020

Thunder Thunder Lightning Ahead

This song seems perfectly placed to illustrate the flipside of this week's heatwave and the truly spectacular lightning displays we've had, the rumbles of thunder and the sudden cracks directly overhead. Opening their 1994 album, dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld's Dark And Long is a masterpiece of dub- techno, slowly building tension, ghostly backing vocals and Karl Hyde's stream of consciousness/ overheard on the last train lyrics. The single came with various versions over the different formats. This one, remixed by JBO label boss Steve Hall, ins't too different from the album mix.

Dark And Long Hall's Mix

This one is a five minute ambient version, very pleasant, all bubbles, bleeps and whispers, and long drawn out synth sounds.

Dark And Long Most 'Ospitable

I always thought the genius of Karl Hyde's words was his ability to stitch together some very different ideas and lines. The opening lines 'thunder thunder, lightning ahead/ now I kiss you dark and long', repeated, set the song off in one direction and then he suddenly drops in this

"Me I'm just a waitress" she said
"I went and bought a new head" she said
"I look at you, I believe in you" she said
Screaming into the eye of the lens'
Later on we get a snatch of cockney, 'what a laugh, you was done up there mate', before the menace of 'thunder thunder lightning ahead...' comes back. A much under appreciated lyricist, especially in the setting of 90s dub- techno, made for dancing. 

Thursday 13 August 2020

Silver Cloud

The heatwave continues and nothing you do to cool down works for very long. Music from West Germany in the 1970s might help. Silver Cloud was La Dusseldorf's debut single, released in 1976, a slow paced, melodic eight minutes of joy from Klaus Dinger's post- Neu! project. The crashing guitar chords, musical box synths and lightness of touch are all magical. That's it- too hot to type anything else.

Silver Cloud

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Love Comes In Waves

Something else new today, the latest in a seemingly endless flow of new music. Lovely, rippling, hazy psychedelic guitar music, ideal for the dog days of summer, arriving in the form of a solo album from Andy Bell (Ride and Glok Andy Bell not the Erasure Andy Bell). Love Comes In Waves is the sort of song that used to be delivered on a weekly basis in the late 80s and early 90s. Dreamy, driving, shimmering, indie- rock, all fringes, guitar pedals, love beads and suede jackets.

In contrast I wrote a post about Kylie (Minogue not Kardashian but I hope that goes without saying) for The Vinyl Villain, an addition to his long running ICA series. Ten songs plus four bonus tracks. It was posted yesterday. You can read it here.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Yo Yo Gi

I don't know how many times I've mentioned A Certain Ratio here recently but they seem to be popping up with a welcome regularity- the Sir Horatio v Chris Massey Music Control single from earlier this year, the recent ACR remix of Number both stand out (not to mention the still unbelievably sad death of Denise Johnson). The band are gearing up for the release of a new album in September, an ten track record called Loco, and last week put this out ahead of it...

It comes out of the speakers like an updated 2020 version of one of the highlights of 1990's ACR: MCR, Spirit Dance specifically, bassline, acid squiggles, a ton of cowbell and some serious rhythms.

If you didn't get the Sir Horatio single here's a reminder, funky as you like and a video collage to push the buttons of your memory.

Monday 10 August 2020

Monday's Long Song

Tony Wilson, later on Anthony H. Wilson, died on this day in 2007. His gravestone in Southern Cemetery, Chorlton- cum- Hardy, as pictured above, reads-

Cultural Catalyst

1950- 2007

It was designed by Peter Saville and Ben Kelly (of course) and stands out among the ones around it, all in black, in the same way Wilson did when he was alive. In the film 24 Hour Party People Wilson, played by Steve Coogan, says he suffers from 'an excess of civic pride' and there's no doubt Tony was utterly committed to improving Manchester and Salford, to changing things- a record label founded on revolutionary lines with equally revolutionary design principles, a nightclub, a long line of bands and artists who made art first and commerce second. All these things changed the city partly because he saw no reason to 'fuck off down to London', but to do it here, and partly because (eventually) the nightclub brought people to the city (as revellers, as students, as workers), who stayed and helped the city grow. The nightclub inspired the building of bars and flats and the regeneration of warehouses, new places for people, that have a look, a design aesthetic, a knowing modernism. And so on. Not all these things are solely due to Tony Wilson but they are at least partly due to him.

There's been a tendency since he died to lionise him. While he was alive, especially in the 80s and early 90s, he was sometimes a divisive figure. That twat off the telly. Smug. Too clever for his own good. By all accounts he was capable of falling out with people, his friends, easily and without warning. Tony I'm sure would be amused by the ascension to sainthood he has achieved after death and I think he'd love it as well. 'When you have to choose between the truth and the legend, print the legend', he is supposed to have said. This quote comes from 24 Hour Party People as well. The legend becomes the truth. So it goes.

In 2015 this stunning record was released, Mike Garry's poem about Tony, a figure he knew from growing up, from seeing him on the TV and from his works, set to music by Joe Duddell, based on New Order's Your Silent Face, and then remixed by Andrew Weatherall. It remains one of the best records of the last decade, a nine minute tribute, moving and uplifting and elegiac.

St. Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H. Wilson (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Sunday 9 August 2020


This is the perfect summer tune, the sound of beach and sea and sunsets, and even if those things are all a long way off at the moment it might in some small way plug the gap while it plays. It came out at the end of July, Apiento's remix of Cantoma with Luna Asteri on vox.

Actually, as well as being very holiday evocative it's almost overwhelmingly melancholic too. Cantoma's own tagline is 'music for far away places'. Truth.

Saturday 8 August 2020

Though I Will Disappear

Something about the heat we've had in the twenty four hours put me in mind of this song by The Clash yesterday evening, one of my favourite Clash songs. The Street Parade is buried deep into Sandinista! at the end of side 5, song 30 out of 36, but it is a joy and a moment of light breaking through the clouds (Joe's existential dread and the melancholy of the instrumentation notwithstanding). Placing it where they did, it comes at the listener like buried treasure, after the smokers backwards soundscape of Mensforth Hill, the murky rockabilly of Junkie Slip and the roots- rock- reggae of Kingston Advice, a reward for getting this far.

Fading in on a Caribbean rhythm and some echo, Topper effortlessly finding the beat, Joe's vocal comes in as if from his bed, a man drained, 'when I was waiting for your phone call/ the one that never came/ like a man about to burst/ I was dying of thirst'. Horn stabs add to the tropical feeling and then a beautiful, circling, haunting Mick Jones guitar riff, offbeat and out of time. Joe builds on his theme of being lost and of wanting 'to disappear/ into the street parade'. Youth culture/ pop culture and punk often takes the Prisoner approach, of demanding to be a free man not a number, of being an individual and not one of the crowd, but Joe wants to slip into the parade and be lost among the mass of people, hiding himself. Maybe this is why they enjoyed New York so much during 1980, they had an anonymity there that suited them and that freed them. The horns and marimba build while Topper's martial, marching beat powers the song on, Mick's guitar riff echoing round and round. Joe continues 'I was in this place/ by the first church of the city/ I saw tears on the face/ the face of a visionary', before coming back to his main theme of disappearing and fading into the street parade. There's a lot going on here, not least one of their very best melodies, and it's all done inside three and a half minutes.

The Street Parade

Friday 7 August 2020

Love Is Just A State Of Mind

Happiness by The Beloved is yet another album that has turned thirty years old this year and is about to be re- issued on double vinyl. Happiness and its singles sound like a big part of 1990 when I hear them now, a record perfectly in tune with the times. Reduced to a duo, Jon Marsh and Steve Waddington wanted to leave the indie guitar scene behind, fired up by the new music they were hearing. Marsh had been to Shoom and Spectrum in 1988 and has spoken of the experiences as being life- changing. With a few new pieces of equipment they set about making an album fusing dance music and pop and the songs they created succeeded massively. Up, Up And Away is 1990 positivity and optimism bottled- 'up, up and away/ hello new day... just look around you/ well it ain't no lie/ H A P P Y'. Your Love Takes Me Higher is the same but for hedonism and love. Don't You Worry, Wake Up Soon, Time After Time... these are the songs of and for people with wide eyes and big smiles and living in the moment. Album closer Found was 1990's most New Order sounding song.

The Sun Rising was their breakthrough single in '89, an ambient house classic with the goosebump bassline kicking in from the off, backwards guitar, an instantly recognisable madrigal sample, and Jon's whispered vocal, a song describing the end of the night, the walk home at dawn, spent but euphoric.

The Sun Rising

The songs on Happiness encapsulate the period as much as many others do, and are probably heard best on a car cassette player or your late teens/ early 20s bedroom stereo, an album reflecting what was going on in clubs and the wider culture. A year later The Beloved released Blissed Out, an album of remixes of songs from Happiness plus a new single It's Alright Now, different versions and tracklists across different formats of lp, cassette and CD. I've posted this clip before, The Beloved promoting It's Alright Now on BBC 2's Dance Energy programme. It's Alright Now is a perfectly judged piece of dance- pop. Why it wasn't a bigger hit is a mystery to me.

Thursday 6 August 2020

Om Nama Shivaya And My Future

Some brand new chuggy electronic psychedelic goodies today, heavy grooves and trippy sounds as standard, courtesy of Dan Wainwright, Rude Audio and Stash Magnetic. Dan's new e.p. Om Nama Shivaya is out on Oddball Records. If you order it at QRates you can help crowdfund the vinyl release. Rude Audio's remix of the title track is a dubby, slow motion, psyched out beast, acidic squiggles, chanting and sitars. Very nice indeed.

Dan has remixed My Future by Stash Magnetic, an experimental Darkwave/ electro/ art rock duo based in London. Dan's dub remix is one of four on the new release, out on Field Of Dreams and also including an excellent remix by Richard Sen. The remix is a very slowed down take, lurching along with voices whooshing around in the mix, a crashing drumbeat, cavernous space and a spine tingling piano/vocal breakdown. The digital e.p. is at Bandcamp.

Wednesday 5 August 2020

My Planet Sweet On A Silver Salver

In a list of things happening that when you're young only happened to old people, celebrating your silver wedding anniversary would feature near the top end. One day you're in your mid- twenties, gadding about, the next you're in your fifties and it's twenty five years to the day since you got married. I'm never too sure you should read a huge amount into Ian McCulloch's lyrics, they seem to be full of imagery that could be there just to sound good or to dress something up in poetic language, but Silver seems to be a song full of romance, joy and facing the world square on so it seems relevant in some ways today...

'The sky is blue/ My hands untied
A world that's true/ Through our clean eyes
Just look at you/ With burning lips
You're living proof/ At my fingertips

Walked on a tidal wave
Laughed in the face of a brand new day
Food for survival thought
Mapped out the place where I planned to stay'

Silver (Tidal Wave)

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Something More

Back from our isolated mini- break in south west Scotland yesterday, three days in remote places- Cairn Holy (a pair of Neolithic chambered burial chambers), Caerlaverock Castle, a walk in a forest near Gatehouse Of Fleet, some quiet beaches at Southerness, Rockliffe and Kippford, fish and chips at Kirkcudbright (this was the most interaction we had with people, ordering food while wearing face masks, gloves and standing behind a line taped out on the floor, which when you think about it makes you realise what a bizarre world we are living in this year)- and a caravan site.

Roisin Murphy is having a peak couple of years. Following her run of 12" singles two years ago she's now been leading into an album coming out in September. In 2019 she put out Incapable, an monstrously deep and funky piece of machine house and the dazzling disco of Narcissus. Now she has sent this out into the world, written by New York songwriter and  force of nature Amy Douglas and once again recorded with Sheffield's Richard Parrot Barratt aka Crooked Man. Something More is eight minutes of slowed down, slow burning, spacious groove with a sense of what we have lost in 2020 and the fact that we all currently feel the need for something more.