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Saturday 31 October 2020

Weatherall Halloween Mix


A Halloween special. Back in 2011 Andrew Weatherall recorded a mix for Halloween, an hour of rockabilly, garage rock, psyche and horror themed rock 'n' roll with the likes of Gin Gillette and Ronnie Cook and The Gaylads. I was reminded of it earlier in a conversation on social media and thought you might like it. Light your lanterns, put your pumpkins in the window and press play. You can download it below or play it at Mixcloud here.

Andrew Weatherall Mulletover Halloween Mix 2011

Sketch For Vini 2

A month ago I put together an hour long mix of Durutti Column songs, fifteen of what Vini Reilly refers to as his 'silly tunes' (on the other hand when stopped at customs at some point in the past and asked by the border official what sort of music he plays he replied 'nu- classical modern jazz' so he can dress it up as well as dress it down). The songs on the first mix were all from the 1980s, from his first flourish with Martin Hannett and his work with drummer and Mancunian legend Bruce Mitchell up to the point where the sound was expanded with keyboards and viola. It's here if you missed it. 

The second part has taken me a while to put together and starts where the 80s finished. As that decade ended Tony Wilson, Vini's biggest champion, manager and friend, bought him a car bootful of equipment- samplers and sequencers- and told him to get stuck in. This led to some electronic sounding albums and songs, the 1989 album titled Vini Reilly and especially Obey The Time from the following year. Into the 90s Vini expanded the sound again, survived the collapse of Factory, released albums on Wilson's short- lived Factory Too and then several other labels into the 21st century. His 2010 album Paean To Wilson was recorded as a tribute to Tony and an attempt to pull together a lot of what Wilson loved about them onto one album. In 2011 Vini suffered a stroke which left him very ill and with severe financial problems for some time. Recovery from a stroke is a long road and although Vini now seems much better his guitar playing is still recovering. This second mix, Sketch For Vini 2 isn't supposed to be a definitive summary of Durutti Column from 1990 to 2010, just some songs from that period placed together. It starts with Wilson's looped voice (the opening track on Paean To Wilson) and then dives into the samplers and sequencers of the early 90s (including the remix done by Together, a remix that wasn't finished but Wilson put it out anyway in the aftermath of Jon Donaghy's tragically early death in 1990) and then onto the the mid 90s and beyond. Vini's guitar playing was often more direct and heavier in this period, less of the nuanced, semi- ambient, Roland Space Echo sound of the 80s. He worked with vocalists including Poppy Roberts and Caoilfhionn Rose and always seemed to be looking to do something new and take his music somewhere else, even when the attention of the press and the audience of the Factory years had largely gone elsewhere. There's loads to enjoy in his post- Factory years, you just have to start digging. Sketch For Vini 2 is on Mixcloud here

In his own words...

'In the end, I don't know if it's good music or bad music or indifferent music. I have no idea. I don't really care too much, it's done with and over with. People would say, why do you release it anyway, if you don't really rate it? The answer is, whatever music it is, bad, good, indifferent, stupid, boring, whatever, – it's truthful. At the time, it's the truth, and it's honest. There's no attempt to portray an image or a career or anything. It's what it is. And truth can be painful. It's about losses close to me, and about my own depression, but it's cathartic. But you have to be truthful. If you're not true in what you do, if you're creative, then you should forget it. All I've ever tried to do is be truthful.'


  1. Or Are You Just A Technician?
  2. Contra- Indications
  3. The Together Mix
  4. People’s Pleasure Park
  5. Fado
  6. So Many Crumbs And Monkeys!
  7. Hotel Of The Lake, 1990
  8. Megamix
  9. Brother
  10. It’s Wonderful
  11. Longsight Romance
  12. Meschugana
  13. Anthony

Friday 30 October 2020

Easier Said Than Done You Said

In February 1983 Echo And The Bnnnymen released their third album, Porcupine, a record once again graced with a beautifully shot sleeve, the four band members walking on a glacier in Iceland (something they later said was incredibly dangerous, one false step and death by falling down an icy ravine awaited them). There are Echo And The Bunnymen fans who swear by Porcupine, the pinnacle of the post- punk Bunnyworld but for me it is a flawed and sometimes quite difficult album- despite this it also has at least two of their greatest moments. 

Everyone involved in making it says it wasn't a happy experience. The four members were either arguing or not speaking to each other. Ian still had superstardom in his sights and at rehearsal sessions said as much even though they were clearly struggling to come up with new material. Les was unhappy with the music industry. Pete was producing The Wild Swans. Will was making an instrumental solo album. They used a Peel Session to debut and record some new songs including what would become The Back Of Love and Higher Hell, both with different earlier names. In an attempt to get their juices flowing and get them talking to each other Bill Drummond booked them a mini- tour of Scotland. They released The Back Of Love as a single in May 1982, their first top twenty hit, and then after a summer of gigs including the WOMAD festival they went back to the studio to continue recording the album. Pete de Freitas said this was still a horrible time, the opposite of the sessions for Heaven Up Here where everything flowed and they were confident and on the rise. He said that on Porcupine the songs 'had to be dragged out' of them. Then, when it was finished WEA rejected it. Will was mightily pissed off about this but eventually they agreed to go back and do it again. Drummond brought in Shankar to add strings to the songs, such a revelation on The Cutter (another hit). The sleeve, four young men in dark serious early 80s clothing, framed small in the icy landscape hints at the difficulties inside.

Porcupine opens with the two singles, frontloading the album with two of their absolute peaks. The Cutter is tense and dramatic, full of hooks and the kind of sweeping, effortless majesty they had at their best, Ian sounding like the post- punk vocalist, the stuttering he puts into 'm- m- m- m- mustard' becoming a calling card. Shankar's strings give it an Indian feeling and some real menace. Ian drops in some sheer McCulloch brass- 'conquering myself until/ I see another hurdle approaching/ say we can, say we will/ Not just another drop in the ocean'- and the question 'Am I the happy loss?/ will I still recoil?', proper Bunnymen stuff. There's a pause and then we're into the thundering, reckless adventure of The Back Of Love, a song that could define a career and a decade for any band. The drums and bass, produced by Ian Broudie but played with such power by Pete and Les, are phenomenal, continent sized rhythms. Over this Shankar's strings and Will's guitars add the melodies, layers of sound and texture, while Ian sings his heart out. He has described the lyrics on Porcupine as his most personal and that it's an oppressive album for that reason but on The Back Of Love he sounds set free, his voice swooping and diving. 

After that anything would sound flat and the rest of album struggles to live up to the two singles. Too many of the songs are unmemorable and they sound overwrought and overcooked, the life sucked out of them by the process of writing and recording them. That's not to say Porcupine doesn't contain any other Bunnymen moments. Listening to it last week I enjoyed it far more than I had previously. After the dead stop of The Back Of Love Ian opens My White Devil in truly memorable style singing about a 16th century dramatist, 'John Webster was/ one of the best there was/ he was the author of/ two major tragedies/ The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi'. The band rattle in, off kilter percussion and sea shanty vibes. When Porcupine was re- released in 2003 the CD version came with alternate versions of many of the songs from Porcupine including My White Devil, presumably the ones WEA rejected as uncommercial. This take sounds better than the official Porcupine one to me, lighter and less oppressive, more like a step on from the group who made Heaven Up Here. Maybe Will was right. 

My White Devil (Alternate Version)

The Duchess Of Malfi is a revenge tragedy. The Duchess marries beneath her class secretly but for love. Her brothers take revenge but destroy themselves. The White Devil, also set in Italy, satirises the corruption of the Italian court and makes comparisons with the moral and political state of England of the day and the difference between the way people characterise themselves as good or pure ('white') and their reality. 

The rest of Porcupine lacks the same killer drama of the singles. Some of the songs try to reach it- Heads Will Roll, Higher Hell- but it feels like a group at odds with itself and songs that have been sapped. Album closer In Bluer Skies has it through, opening with waves and woodblocks and then Ian, 'I'm counting on your heavy heart/ Could it keep me from falling apart?', another question on a record full of them. Will's ringing guitar part is lovely and an accordion or pump organ joins in and the song, as All I Want on Heaven Up Here did, points a way forward from all of this. The waves return and everything sounds better, a band finding a way to hang it all together. 

In Bluer Skies

Three months later they'd release Never Stop, a 12" post- punk, dance record firing oblique bullets at Margaret Thatcher and her government, the magick and the light rediscovered, the Bunnygod reborn. Lay down thy raincoat and groove.  

Thursday 29 October 2020

Running Through The Fields Of Flowers And Smoke

In 2018 Calexico released their latest album in 2018, an overlong record that opened with two really good songs. Since 1997 they have made nine studio albums plus various singles, E.P.s and compilations. They started out sounding very much like their name, the mariachi horns and rhythms of the Tex- Mex border with an Ameri- indie sensibility. Their second album, The Black Light, was a brilliant realisation of this sound and their third, Hot Rail in 2000, was a song rich highlight (coming round the time they put out the magnificent The Crystal Frontier as a single). After that I dipped in and out with them (more out than in, in truth) and their 2006 album Garden Ruin and Algiers from 2012 both sounded to me like they'd lost their sound and become a bit dulled. 

I wouldn't have bothered with 2018's album The Thread That Keeps Us if I hadn't heard the first two singles (and the opening two songs of the album) on a music blog. Calexico, a core duo of Joey Burns and John Calvertino, brought in some extra musicians from around the globe to fill their sound out, to add some earthiness to their music and to expand the sound. They recorded it in northern California and both Burns and Calvertino said that the wild coastline brought something to the sound and to the songs. It was also a response to Trump. This song, Voices In The Fields, was a tribute to those who have had their lives uprooted by war and oppression and the need to hear songs written by other voices- ordinary voices of workers and migrants as well as the influences Burns was listening to when making the record (Joe Strummer, Mavis Staples, Bob Dylan). They were also into Tinariwen and the north African grooves can be heard in this. Specifically, Burns write the song after hearing about the postcards Syrian refugees were writing, one of the ways they were attempting to deal with the emotions that being a refugee brought. 

The album's title, The Thread That Keeps Us, was a reference to living in an age of extremes, where media and politics drive people apart, and how we should try to find the common threads that bring us together. Burns mentioned these little threads that connect people wherever their come from and whatever their circumstances- '... music, a cup of coffee... a walk in nature'. These connections are even more true now than they were two years ago as we face a Covid winter. To add to the backdrop to Voices From The Fields four migrants died in the Channel this week when their boat sank after setting off from France including a child of five and a child of eight. The UK Home Secretary Pritti Patel made a typically cold response about the dangers involved in crossing the Channel. Calexico's anger at Trump's policies and presidency was evident on The Thread That Keeps Us and its opening song End Of The World With You. News coming from across the Atlantic suggests that maybe, just maybe, next Tuesday the U.S. (and the rest of us) will be delivered from the racist, white power- enabling, narcissist currently living in the White House. 

Back in the early years of this century Two Lone Swordsmen remixed Calexico, a song from their Hot Rail album. Weatherall was a fan of the band and on this remix manages to prefigure Covid while welding together Calexico's dry, dusty Tex- Mex sound with TLS's electro/ techno machine funk. 

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Marble Skies


This previously unreleased Andrew Weatherall remix dates from 2018 when London band Django Django put out their third album, Marble Skies. I have no idea why it has been lying in the vaults for so long but now eight months after Mr Weatherall left us it's seeing the light of day which is a good thing. A nine minute piano led thumper, with some huge sounding tom toms and lots of extraneous of noise surrounding the melodies. The kick drum pounds away and a snippet of vocal , a whoop or a syllable, is looped and repeated. It's all a bit of a long, euphoric blur. Andrew's remix of Marble Skies is only out digitally as far as I can see- you can buy it for 99p here.  

Tuesday 27 October 2020

a12.ab3 .215061


Soundcloud user18081971, Aphex Twin by another name, has posted another long lost track pulled from an old cassette. The track, catchily titled a12.ab3 .215061 is a superb piece of driving, fizzing acid recorded at some point around 1990. This piece of music, three decades old and not sounding at all like it, is four and a half minutes of buzzing 303 bassline, rattling snares and a topline that'll frazzle your head a little. There's a lovely breakdown part at two and a half minutes with a little tick tock melody playing, then everything else drops out for a while and then comes back in for the last minute with some loopy shit going on at the four minute mark. Proper lost in the strobe and dry ice of the backroom of a club stuff, wondering where all your friends have gone but deciding it doesn't matter, just stay near the speakers, it'll all be fine. The only problem with a12.ab3 .215061 is it's too short and ends abruptly, apparently because the tape ran out. It's on user18081971's Soundcloud page as a free download. 

Not entirely unrelated but written a century before is this by Erik Satie, Gymnopedie No. 1, one of Satie's modernist, minimalist piano pieces. As this was playing on the computer on Monday morning my daughter passed by and said, 'this sounds sad'. And it does but it's very nice too. 

I'm no expert on Satie. I need to explore further. Aphex Twin's 2001 album Druqks contained some Satie style piano pieces, interludes among some manic, rapid fire drum 'n' bass/ breakbeat music. Druqks was released after Richard D James left an mp3 player on an airplane and was concerned the unreleased music on it would be leaked and bootlegged. Alternatively, James had a load of music sitting on his hard drive and wanted out of his contract with Warp. Either way it made for a disjointed album, one which requires some dedication on the part of the listener (or as we'd do now, the ability to rip it yourself and pull out the ones you like into a playlist or a mix CD of your own- probably what he intended all along. I'm sure Satie would approve too). 

Monday 26 October 2020

Monday's Long Song

This artwork is on a footbridge over the Metrolink not far from here. It seems to be a spray can sketch of female anatomy as drawn by someone who has only been told what that might look like. It has a certain primitive quality that lifts it above your average genital based graffiti. In my opinion. 

Richard Fearless of Death In Vegas is still pursuing his ambient techno vison of the future, this time with Circuit Diagram, the collaboration renamed as Death Circuit. The eight and a half minutes of Strom Dub are sleek, sexy synth sounds, science fiction as it used to be. The B-side, Teeparty am Waldbrand (translation- teaparty at the forest fire), has a relentless kick drum and throbbing bass, disembodied voices and single minded intent. No surprise this music is coming out of Germany, Hamburg to be exact. Buy it at Bandcamp

Sunday 25 October 2020

A List And Your Love

The clocks went back last night, ending British Summer Time for another year. As the jokes on Twitter have been having it, if you're a Brexiteer you can set yours back to 1973 or some imaginary time before you were born when England won the world war and immigration hadn't been invented. If you're a supporter or member of the current government you can reset your clock back to the nineteenth century when letting children go hungry was all part of good old Victorian values. Funny how for a group of people so often vilified as overpaid, useless and insensitive, the most effective campaigner for the impoverished in Britain in 2020 is a footballer. Hats off to Marcus Rashford.

It's funny as well how many Tory MPs are now tripping over themselves to attack him and to accuse him of 'virtue signalling'. There's a list here of all the Conservative MPs, three hundred and twenty- two of them, who voted against extending free school meals vouchers into the October half term and Christmas holidays. Next to their name, constituency and party is a column detailing the amount they have claimed on expenses from the public purse for dining and entertaining since June 2019. Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen and a man who was a big proponent of the so- called Northern Powerhouse, for instance claimed over £60, 000. Vicky Ford, the Minister for Children and MP for Chelmsford, claimed over £50, 000. Three of them claimed over £80, 000. Matt Hancock, role model for over- promoted car showroom middle managers everywhere, claimed over £60, 000. I'm sure that for these MPs, raised on Thatcherite ideology about dependency culture and the managed decline of northern cities and propelled into government by the Brexit culture wars, voting against poor children getting a £3.00 a day lunch voucher while supping subsidised drinks in the House of Commons bar and eating out at London's top restaurants is a moral circle they can square but for many of us it is the worst kind of hypocrisy. 

This list compiled by Pete Wylie and Josie Jones as Big Hard Excellent Fish back in 1990 and remixed by Andrew Weatherall summons up the right kind of disgust and shows how little progress we've actually made in the three decades in between then and now.

The Imperfect List (Version 1)

Anyway, onto happier things... today is my wife Lou's birthday. This is the kind of thing she likes to dance to given the chance. There hasn't been much dancing recently. We did get drunk a few weeks ago and play some records a little too loud in the dining room while our daughter cringed upstairs. In 1987 Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle released Your Love, a thumping, hands- in- the- air, genuinely inspiring and uplifting piece of early house music, a record that shows that the world can be a better place even if it's only for a few minutes.

Your Love

In 2014 London goth rock 'n' rollers The Horrors covered it for a session at Radio 1 showing what good taste they had and how a great song can translate from one form to another. 

Your Love 

Happy birthday Lou. Let's make it a good one despite Tier 3 and all the rest of it. 

Saturday 24 October 2020

Angels On My Shoulder

Keeping the Bunnymen theme going this is a cover of their greatest B- side, the kind of song most bands would kill to have written- Ian, Will, Les and Pete channelling the Velvets, covered here by French beatnik husband and wife duo The Liminanas. Renaud and Nika's version of Angels And Devils was released in 2017 originally and then again on their 2018 B-sides and rarities compilation I've Got Trouble In Mind Volume 2. The organ, sitar/ guitar, Mo Tucker drums and male/ female vocals are absolutely spot on and while they haven't really reinterpreted the song- it's a very faithful cover version- it's the spirit of Bill Drummond's bunny god reborn and exactly what you didn't know you wanted. 

Angels And Devils

Friday 23 October 2020

Bounds, Of Course We Know No Bounds

Since writing about Echo And The Bunnymen's 1980 debut album Crocodiles last Friday I've been bingeing on the Bunnymen, working my way through the four albums they released between 1980 and 1985 while driving to and from work and listening to last year's Peel Sessions compilation at home. In between Crocodiles in 1980 and Heaven Up Here in 1981 the band released a four song e.p. recorded live at The Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, Shine So Hard, a gig where they played some of the songs that would appear on Heaven Up Here and where the army fatigues, camouflage and military netting would be used for the final time. A film of the gig and of the band hanging about in Buxton was restored last year and is a fine way to spend half an hour. Watch it here

Heaven Up Here is a major step forward from Crocodiles. From the beautiful sleeve photograph on, Brian Griffin shooting the group on Porthcawl beach, South Wales, this is a major piece of work, a vision conjured up by the four of them and manager Bill Drummond and producer Hugh Jones. The rhythm section are on another level, their playing completely locked in and electrifying. The songs themselves are full of dynamics, drama and deep, delicious gloom, awash with vivid colours and imagery, Will Sergeant's overdubbed and layered guitars still showing some of the spikiness of the debut but painting a more widescreen picture too. The opening one- two- three punch of Show Of Strength, With A Hip and Over The Wall are as great a first trio as on any album by anyone. With A Hip is the one for me at the moment, an urgent, deep blue song starting with echoes, noise and feedback and then suddenly jumpstarted by bass and drums. Mac comes in with a tense whisper, half- singing, 'Halt nobody's allowed/ Strictly verboten/ Out out out out' and then the career defining line, 'bounds, of course we know no bounds', a statement of intent and scouse cocksureness. The song speeds forward, Mac twisting himself in knots and Will, Les and Pete build towards the chorus where Mac delivers the still astonishing lines, 'With a hip hip hop/ And a flip flap flop/ Gonna steal some bananas/ From the grocer's shop/ With your head in the clouds/ And your trousers undone/Gonna shit on the carpet/ Just like everyone'. Then he re-writes Elvis. 

I have no idea what he's one about, some existential drama, a metaphysical conundrum, the neighbours on Lark Lane causing a scene, vignettes from being on tour, who knows, but it doesn't really matter, it sounds important, it sounds necessary. 

With A Hip

The heart of Heaven Up Here is some unholy marriage of post- punk and psychedelia, the songs effortlessly finding the spirit of the Bunnygod that Drummond claimed was on the cover of the first album. After the opening three the album dives further into the dark, black hole- the gothic rock of It Was A Pleasure and the histrionics of A Promise. Flip the record over and side two blasts straight into the drunken cavorting of the title track, a song of beer, whiskey and tequila. Ian surfaces from the chaos to croon ' we're all groovy, groovy people', doing that dance he did where he pulled at his clothes, and then he sings the line that McCulloch said defined the group at the time- 'it may be hell down there but it's heaven up here'. 

After the album's bleakest moment, The Disease, things turn to face the dawn and like the sleeve's stunning bleed of seascape colours, the songs start to get more optimistic, less full of dread. No Dark Things is followed by the escape of Turqoise Days, the Bunnymen setting sail as the music burns slowly, Mac now calmer as he asks for company- 'you got a problem come on over'- and then the fade in of the closing song, a rattling guitar part and reverb on the drums. 'All I love/ Is all I want'. In a world and at a time when there wasn't exactly a shortage of great drummers Pete de Freitas stakes a claim for being top if the pile on Heaven Up Here. The thumping drums on All I Want, the fills and rolls into the chorus, perfectly lead the way for Will's guitar lines and choppy riffs, and the song points the way to the horizon, somewhere beyond where the four young men are looking on the sleeve. 

This live version, recorded at the Manley Hotel in Sydney, Australia in November 1981, shows how good they were.

All I Want (Live 1981)

I vividly recall listening to Heaven Up here while living in Liverpool as a student, in a freezing cold bedroom during the winter of 1989. As well as all the contemporary songs of that winter, Fool's Gold, Hallelujah and all the rest, I was immersing myself in the Bunnymen's second album, at that point only eight years old but seeming like it was from another world. I had it on while writing an essay, wearing woollen gloves due to the cold and had to stop writing to give it the attention it deserved. It isn't background music. I still get the same shot of  inspiration and intensity from it now. It is, I think, their best album and it's one which still hits me hard today. I can leave it aside for months and when I put it on it surprises and excites me, one of those records which has soundtracked my adult life. 

As an extra, Brian Griffin's unused shots for the sleeve are superb, this one in particular. 

Thursday 22 October 2020


Tonight at one minute past midnight Greater Manchester goes into Tier 3, the highest rank of the government's new Coronavirus restriction system- if this government can really be said to anything as planned or thought out as a system. The government have had months to prepare for an autumn wave. Literally everyone said it was coming. They've had months to set up a functioning testing service, to create a Track and Trace system, to come up with a coherent plan for dealing with the rapidly rising numbers of new cases and the influx of hospital admissions. Instead, they paid people to go to the pub for food in August while turning the blame for non- compliance with the rules onto the people. 

What they have signally failed to acknowledge is that this government lost all it's moral authority to govern, every last ounce of it, when they failed to sack Dominic Cummings in May. At that exact moment and that charade in the garden of 10 Downing Street where their senior advisor- an unelected member of the government remember- refused to admit any wrong doing, Johnson's government could no longer tell anyone what to do. They had broken the rules themselves and didn't care. They were laughing at us. They were contemptuous of us. 

Since then some people have kept to whatever rules are in force wherever they live, some people have largely followed the rules using their own judgement and common sense about where they can bend them and some people have taken the view that if the government don't play by the rules then why should they? Some of us have barely crept out of lockdown at all- we are still effectively shielding an extremely vulnerable person. Watching other people flout the rules hasn't been easy. The feeling that existed back in April, that we were all in this together, which existed genuinely for a while, has been blown apart. As numbers have crept up again since September Johnson has dithered and delayed. They locked down too late in March, they opened up too early in the summer. They introduced local restrictions that were difficult to understand and changed seemingly on a whim. They left Leicester in a local lockdown that never seemed to end. They announced that one place would go into further restrictions almost instantly while another would be able to wait until after the weekend. Now, with Merseyside, Lancashire and Greater Manchester all in Tier 3, gyms in Merseyside must close while in Lancashire they can stay open. Pubs serving 'substantial meals' can stay open but pubs that don't must close- does Covid 19 not infect people while using a knife and fork? They bullied the civic leaders of Liverpool into accepting Tier 3 and then found that the elected mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, the leaders of the council and a cross party group of MPs wouldn't roll over. Funnily enough the pair of Conservative MPs refusing to accept new restrictions without a fight (including the Chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady) weren't attacked with the same venom Burnham has been. The politicians fighting the government's attempts to impose Tier 3 on Greater Manchester weren't even necessarily arguing that the restrictions weren't called for, they just wanted the evidence that the ones being proposed would be effective (which wasn't forthcoming because this government is shit at details and just relies on the selective use of data to try to prove points). What Andy Burnham and the rest also wanted was financial support for the thousands of locals who would be affected by the loss of their jobs and the withdrawal of income. Johnson's middle man, Robert Jenrick (himself guilty of breaking lockdown restrictions in April), found himself up against a Zoom wall of anger and disgust, from Tories as well as Labour, and when it came to finding another £5 million, told his boss Johnson that the deal was off. Andy Burnham stood in front of GMex- the site of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819- and quite rightly told the cameras that this government promised to level up the north and here they were further levelling down. 

It seems pointless to close some businesses while leaving many others open. It seems pointless to close some pubs while leaving many still serving. Schools, colleges and universities are one of the main breeding grounds of the infection currently but since various opponents have called for a short 'circuit break', Johnson's government refuse to consider this- not for scientific reasons but because it's politically unacceptable for them to do what the opposition have asked for. A circuit break policy is now taking effect in Wales and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Scotland follow suit, but once again Johnson dithers until it's too late. Their own scientific advisors recommended it several weeks ago. Johnson rejected it but still claims to be 'following the science'. Tiers, as someone pointed out recently, are not enough. 

Here are The Lilac Time, mid 60s psychedelic style, in 1990...

It'll End In Tears 

Here's Paul Weller remixed by Leo Zero, Blackpool Northern Soul style, in 2010... 

Tears Are Not Enough (Leo Zero Remix)

A couple of days ago on social media I said this about Andy Burnham...

It's fair to say that this man becoming a genuine hero in Manchester and the north west wasn't predictable. His reasons for becoming mayor didn't always seem clear, his run for the Labour leadership in 2015 was a disaster and I don't think everyone here has always trusted him, but he's shown true leadership and grit the last few days, standing up to the useless bunch of chancers and incompetents in the government and standing up for us. More power to him.

And I stand by all of that, cometh the hour, cometh the man etc. It has been a truly absurd year, a nightmare in many ways, full of personal and public disasters and political horrors. It's genuinely encouraging to see the odd green shoot while also keeping that anger burning.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

José Padilla


José Padilla has died of cancer aged sixty four. He arrived in Ibiza in 1975 and graduated through the club scene as a DJ, playing Es Paradis and Amnesia before eventually playing sets at the Café del Mar, a bar in San Antonio that looks out over the Mediterranean and where each evening the sun dissolves into the sea. Jose would pioneer an entire new genre of music that would end up being called Chill Out. Padilla played an eclectic mix of music to accompany the sunset and afterwards and as the late 80s became the 90s his DJ sets became the thing of legend. He recorded an Essential Mix for the BBC in 1995, here, that gives an idea of his style. In 1994 he launched a series of compilation albums, out on double vinyl, that brought together the songs he played as the sun went down. Volume One and Two (or Uno and Dos to give them their proper names) are proper slices of mid 90s culture, records to play after a night out, comedown tunes to go with tea, cigarettes and chatter, the buzz of the club wearing off into something warm and glowing, songs for a Sunday morning- William Orbit, Penguin Café Orchestra, Sabres Of Paradise, Leftfield, Underworld, A Man Called Adam, Tabula Rasa...

Sunset At The Café del Mar

I've never been to the Café del Mar, never watched the ball of fire sink into the sea as José spun laidback, downtempo tunes with snaking melodies and blissed out vocals. But José's outlook has had a huge impact on my tastes and record collection, the whole idea of bringing different types of music together as long as they fit the mood, a mish- mash of old and new, dance music and oddities, ambient and Balearic, a world where A Man Called Adam's Estelle, The Art Of Noise, the theme from Hill Street Blues and Music For A Lost Harmonium all live alongside each other. I've spent hours attempting to emulate José's style in the early hours or when making tape compilations or even, now I think of it, with some of the series of Isolation Mixes I did in the spring and summer. 

Theme From Hill Street Blues

It's fair to say that what José pioneered on the shores of the Mediterranean spread worldwide in the 1990s and afterwards, ripples and waves landing on shores a long way from San Antonio. 

José Padilla, RIP.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Gonna Get High 'Til The Day I Die


Primal Scream's Don't Fight It, Feel It was one of the songs on Screamdelica that felt truly revolutionary for a group who started as Byrds/ Buffalo Springfield imitators, evolved into a c86 indie band and then reincarnated themselves as leather trousered Stooges rockers. On Don't Fight It, Feel It Andrew Weatherall and Hugo Nicolson made an acid house song and left all traces of the guitar band off it entirely- no guitars, no Throb, not even any of Bobby's singing. Instead Denise Johnson's voice boomed out of the speakers. Weatherall took it all even further on the Scat Mix. Lesser known and heard is the Graham Massey Remix, also from 1991, a juddering Mancunian remix which takes the song into new territory once again, Denise front and centre. 

Don't Fight It, Feel It (Graham Massey Remix)

808 State and Massey were on fire around this time. Their 1990 album 90 is one of the best releases from any of the Manchester groups around that time and sounds surprisingly fresh listened to in 2020. Album opener Magical Dream is a real Bagging Area favourite. In June 1990 me, my then girlfriend and my friend Al had my cassette of 90 on all the way from Liverpool to Glastonbury in Al's car. When we pulled into the field to unload our camping kit, it was Magical Dream spooling on the car's stereo. As we got out of the car and opened the boot a mud- encrusted hippy appeared out of a nearby hedge and asked us if we needed any drugs. 

Magical Dream

Monday 19 October 2020

Monday's Long Song


In April I wrote about a Leeds based band called Bushpilot who have had their recordings from the mid- 1990s re- issued by God Unknown Records. The post is here. Bushpilot made a splendid racket, channelling all kinds of leftfield influences. Former singer Ross recently got in touch to ask if I'd like a copy of their album 23, a beautifully packaged vinyl release (I said yes obvs). In the email he said the album includes a nineteen minute opus, a recording edited down from an original twenty seven minute take. Ross said it was 'like a collaged post punk Can, and was in reality mostly recorded on come downs from being at legendary Morley techno night the Orbit' and I can't add anything to that which is any better. I recommend you hit play and cancel anything else you were planning on doing for the next twenty minutes. 

Then go and buy 23 at Bandcamp

Sunday 18 October 2020

Sunday Dervish Time


There's been a re- issue campaign going on all year of African Head Charge's albums, a box set called Drumming Is A Language 1990- 2011 and an album of outtakes, mixes and dubs titled Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi, ten songs/ dubs circa 1990 sequenced as a psychedelic dub trip. Adrian Sherwood and Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah created a unique sound as African Head Charge, percussion and African drums, Sherwood's bass heavy, dubbed out sounds and vocals sampled from religious cultures around the globe. Churchical Chant really needs to be heard as a whole- you can buy it at Bandcamp- but here's a taster, ideal sounds for a Sunday in October. Settle down, ignore the news for a while and soak it up.

Dervish Dub 

Saturday 17 October 2020

Anchor Dragging Behind

There are lots of reasons to love San Pedro's Minutemen. The band was formed as a result of a lifelong friendship between guitarist D. Boon and bassist Mike Watt. They tried to make their music democratic- the bass and guitar and George Hurley's drums would not encroach on each other's areas, guitars would be trebly to give the bass the space to be the bass. All their songs were about something, even if it was just as Mike Watt had it, 'shit from an old notebook'. All three contributed lyrics and almost everything they wrote was a personal or political response to the world their encountered. They had a philosophy, 'we jam econo', that described their dedication to low cost recording and gigging. They rejected looking and acting like clichéd rockstars, loading and setting up their own gear at gigs and taking it down and loading it away afterward. They wrote songs that were short and packed their albums with them, one burst after another. They were part of an early 80s attempt to build an alternative network across the US, venues, fanzines, record labels, promoters, doing it for themselves and their fans and operating outside the mainstream because they didn't want to be inside it. 

In 1983 they released an album called What Makes A Man Start Fires?, an eighteen song record powered by Mike Watt's bass playing. On The Anchor, at two minutes thirty practically a Minutemen odyssey, D. Boon sings about a dream and about Mike Watt's bass, the 'anchor dragging behind'.

The Anchor

If you haven't seen the 2005 documentary about the band, We Jam Econo, you should put aside ninety minutes this weekend and treat yourself. At a time when there's a distinct lack of people to admire, we could all learn something from Boon, Watt and Hurley. 

Friday 16 October 2020

Me I'm All Smiles


There have been a few Echo And The Bunnymen posts in the corner of the internet I frequent in recent days and it's also forty years since the release of their debut album Crocodiles, both of which seemed like good enough reasons to add some more Bunnymen to the ether. There's a recent Bill Drummond interview where he recalled the early days of the group, when they could barely make the change from a D chord to an A chord in time together but when they did, it was magic. The addition of Pete de Freitas on drums, replacing the Echo drum machine, was the final piece of the jigsaw, a truly great drummer who brought genuine musicianship and also originality to the playing. Once de Freitas was in place they found their sound. Using the Velvet Underground as a model, they knew that you only really need two chords if you've got the right guitar tone, a singer who can make silly stuff sound important and a rhythm section who marry power with groove. If the group look good- clothes, hair, cheekbones etc- you've got everything you need. In July 1980 a year after their debut single, The Pictures On My Wall, and two months after their second 7" Rescue (a song full of hooks pulled to the fore and arranged by Ian Broudie), they released their debut album, ten songs long and mystifyingly, brilliantly missing two early Bunnymen classics, Do It Clean and Read It In Books. 

Crocodiles doesn't contain the best songs the band would write, they'd outdo themselves a year later on Heaven Up Here, but it is full of Bunnymen drama and neuroticism, Mac singing of rusty chalk- dust walkers, of being rescued, of stars shining so hard, of the mythical Villiers Terrace and all that jazz, his voice already confident and memorable, while Will, Les and Pete bash away, post punk urgency, spiky guitar parts, some 60s garage rock, some nods to the Doors and a rich, solid bottom end. Will Sergeant, Drummond says, was the heart and soul of the band, a man who thought 'changing chord was selling out' the one who would draw a line and say no- if someone tried to add keyboards or trumpet he'd cut it dead by saying 'it sounds a bit like The Police'. 

Crocodiles finishes with Happy Death Men, clanging, strident 1980 post punk, Sergeant spraying dense guitar parts all over the studio, as the song reaches it freak out finale. 

Happy Death Men

In 1985 while touring Scandinavia the Bunnymen were still moving fast, four albums in and umpteen singles and B-sides. In Gothenburg hey still found room in the setlist for the debut album's title track, extending it out so Mac could drop in lines from his favourite songs. 

Crocodiles (Live April 1985)

Thursday 15 October 2020

It's Not Like It In The Movies

There's something of autumn about Michael Head's last album, Adios Senor Pussycat, recorded by the man himself and his Red Elastic Band- that scouse mysticism and the playing (acoustic guitars, trumpet, piano, slightly psychedelic folk). It's three years now since it came out and it's one of the few more trad guitar albums from recent years that I can still go back to and find fresh. The opening song is called Picasso and like many great album openers starts with found sounds, street noises, seagulls and muffled voices, before the band kick in with a folky rhythm, a saw and little flourishes of guitar. Mick's voice and lyrics have that quality of hard won wisdom, 'It's not like it in the movies/ there may be police involved', life experience coupled with poetic turns of phrase. 


I lived in Liverpool for three years as a student, 1988- 1991, and although this song was three decades away then and Mick had a whole stretch of legendary albums and bad luck to go through in the time between, when I hear Picasso it always makes me think of Sefton Park in the autumn, leaves a riot of rust and red, waiting for the bus on Smithdown Road, record and clothes shopping down Bold Street. Weird how a song can do that, play time travel tricks on the mind. 

Wednesday 14 October 2020


This track, seven minutes of metronomic Norwegian house music, comes in all standard- chunky, mid- paced house rhythm and a little dancing synth topline, some disco effects, a wobbly bass sound- but pretty quickly it's got you in its grip and it won't let go. The breakdown gives you a breather but then Laars takes you straight back in, Giorgio Morodor in Scandinavia on a train sweeping down the coast. 


Tuesday 13 October 2020

Good Souls

Back in 2000 Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood purified the Two Lone Swordsmen sound on their triple vinyl album Tiny Reminders. It was a brutalist version of version of techno and electro, machine tooled funk drilled into short, sharp tracks with functional titles- Neuflex, Section, Akwalek, The Bunker, Brootle. It is futuristic, bass heavy, music, clattering drum machines and FX and utterly absorbing. There are also moments of strangely comforting static noise and moments of ambient beauty (It's Not The Worst I've Looked... Just The Most I've Ever Cared). Tiny Reminders demands a much longer, more considered appraisal than this, this is merely to provide some background to today's track of choice. 

Around this period the Swordsmen often remixed other artists. Many of these remixes were white label only, limited releases, much sought after by a small band of followers. It's fair to say that this was not Weatherall at his most assessible. In the list of artists there were retooled are some familiar names (Primal Scream, Dot Allison (with Slam), Stereo MCs and Saint Etienne were all remixed by Andrew previously), some names who seemed to be a more natural fit (Calexico and Lali Puna) but also some surprising ones, not least Starsailor and Texas. Starsailor were post- Britpop band from Wigan, built around the voice of Chorley resident, singer James Walsh. Their mid paced acoustic guitar melancholia filled a need in the early years of the 21st century, a period when guitar bands seemed lost. 

Two Lone Swordsmen took their song 2001 Good Souls and transformed it, sending it miles away from the sound of the band and their influences (Oasis, Jeff Buckley). Weatherall and Tenniswood find a bouncing, reverberating noise and spring, echoes of noises and scratchy sounds and then bring a drumbeat in, a locked dusty groove around which everything else moves. Some foreground synth sounds pan from left to right and back. Water pumps and hissing pistons come in and out. How much of these samples and sounds came from Starsailor's mastertapes and how much from the TLS library is open to question. There's a recurring sound, a hook of kinds that at three minutes leads into the vocal, an isolated, delayed syllable of James Walsh that seems to give a single word... 'Jah'. Then the drumbeat comes back in and the springs, echoes and metallic cracks return and things build into a kind of groove, the dustiness of the bunker they remixed it in, smoke clearly hanging in the air, audible in every snippet of sound. The drums stop and some of the echoes and sounds stagger on, eventually disappearing one by one until five minutes fifty one. It's a long way from home, a long way from the M61, in the early 2000s. 

Good Souls (TLS Remix)

Monday 12 October 2020

Monday Mix

A few weeks ago I got a message from Tak Tent Radio, an internet radio station broadcasting out of Edinburgh, asking if I'd like to do an hour long mix for them. I was flattered, obviously, and said yes. Ali said musically Tak Tent is a total 'free for all so play whatever you like'. If you have a dig around on their website you'll see that it is with everything from Italo and electro to gospel and Scots folk, ragas and psyche- pop and Aiden Moffatt to Richard Youngs playing Hawkwind and Flux Of Pink Indians. In the end I put together an hour of music that follows in some kind of line from the Isolation mixes I was doing in the spring and summer, ambient and tracks with found sounds, drones and noise, some Durutti Column, some Two Lone Swordsmen and some clattering, spooked out Eno/ Byrne style stuff. The samples in Maurice And Charles's I, Carpenter and the voice of Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken gave me a title and a reference to the ongoing horror show/ political reality TV show that is going on in the USA. It went out yesterday morning  and you can find my Find The President mix to stream at Mixcloud here

I almost titled it after Snake's line in this clip... 


  • A Man Called Adam: Easter Song Gospel Oak FX/ Speaking In Tongues 
  • Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini: Interrupted By The Cloud of Light
  • Glok: Pulsing (Citadel Ambient Version)
  • Jan van den Broeke: Memories
  • Jan van den Broeke: Who Is Still Dreaming?
  • Steven Legget: Still
  • Richard Norris: Water
  • Rick Cuevas: The Birds
  • Durutti Column: Bordeaux Sequence
  • Calexico: Untitled (Two Lone Swordsmen Virus Style Mix)
  • Brian Eno and David Byrne: The Jezebel Spirit
  • Maurice & Charles: I, Carpenter
  • Two Lone Swordsmen: Smokebelch (For Ali)
  • Daniel Avery: TBW17

Sunday 11 October 2020



From a 2017 e.p. by Swedish outfit Fontan, released in advance of their appearance at Andrew Weatherall's annual Convenanza festival in south west France, this remix by fellow Swede Mythologen is a throbbing, propulsive, six minute slice of upbeat, psyche- kraut. Starts with noise, a stuttering helicopter coming in to land coming in to land and then an urgent motorik beat. Organ plays around over the top, synthesizers adding texture and melody. Single minded fun. 

Bardo (Mythologen Remix)

Saturday 10 October 2020



In March London via Belfast duo Bicep released a new track. Inspired by their globetrotting DJ and gigging exploits it was called Atlas. After the brilliance of their 2017 album and songs like Glue and Aura at first I found Atlas a little underwhelming, a tad too familiar. Since then I've stuck it onto various mix CDs and playlists and it sounds like one of this year's gems...

A rolling beat, distant female backing vox, those euphoric/ heart tugging synthlines, it was made to be played through huge sound systems to fields of young people going nuts at sunset. Instead it has soundtracked the madness of 2020 and the world we're now in, somewhere between the last lockdown, the loosening of the summer (in some parts of the country at least, not so much round here) and whatever is coming next week- another lockdown of some description.

Last week Bicep announced the release of their second album, Isles, early next year and put out another track to complement Atlas. Apricots  has a sharp kick drum, some cavernous space around the percussion and vocal samples borrowed from some traditional Malawian singers and the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir. I'm sure this kind of trance/ rave is aimed at people younger than me but it's definitely pushing my half century old buttons at the moment.

Friday 9 October 2020


One of the albums that came out at the start of the year and was a little lost in the madness of Covid chaos in February and March was Julian Cope's Self Civil War, his 35th album apparently. Cope is so prolific that it's difficult to keep up sometimes. I bought his John Balance Enters the Underworld album, out in 2019, a five track album of instrumentals, and despite its excellence ait didn't seem to stick with me. Self Civil War is a different story,, a return to the freewheeling, psychedelic pop, time travelling Julian Cope, and an album with uptempo ballads about Einstein and Odin, songs with acoustic guitars, piano and horns, ooh ooh oohs and ba ba bas, punning titles such as You Will Be Mist and more self- explanatory ones like My Facebook, Your Laptop and Requiem For A Dead Horse. When he was touring in February, introducing songs with patter that was longer the song he was about to play and just as entertaining, Julian said everyone is engaged in a self civil war- and he speaks from experience. 

The Great Raven

You can buy Self Civil War from Head Heritage. And you probably should. 

Thursday 8 October 2020



Roisin Murphy's releases over the last couple of years have been so consistently good and so irrepressibly fresh that I was a little concerned that the album might not live up to the high standards she has set. Machine, out last week, proves that there was no need to worry. In 2018 she put out four 12" singles made with producer Maurice Fulton one of which- All My Dreams- was the single of that year as far as I was concerned. For Machine she's hooked up with Sheffield DJ and producer Richard Barrett (otherwise known as Parrot and/ or Crooked Man) and the ten songs that make up the album are all unnervingly brilliant, supercharged house/ disco/ deep house hybrids aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Opener Simulation starts with strings and a kickdrum and Roisin holding forth, 'I will make my own happy ending' and from there on in Roisin and the music are fused together, one entity- Roisin Machine. The following song, Kingdom Of Ends, is a seemingly neverending build up, synths and drums going crazy but never giving in to doing the obvious thing- to climax with a massive drop- but continuing, twisting round and around. At the start of this song, over bouncing bass and buzzing synths she says 'this is easier than I expected', which is laugh- out- loud funny under the circumstances. 

The songs on Machine segue into each other, sequenced like a DJ set, with a perfect ebb and flow. Something More and Incapable have both been released as singles and both are better than any other deep house bangers you'll hear this year. Murphy's Law and Narcissus are disco masterclasses. Album closer Jealousy starts with a holler and a roller-coaster bassline, strings sweeping in and Roisin bringing human emotions to the song, a synthesis of classic house and full throttle disco, over and over, the last song of the night. Stunning stuff that you have to give into. 

Wednesday 7 October 2020



One of my favourite songs of 2019 was Steve Cobby's acoustic guitar and mellotron beaut As Good As Gold, the opening song on his album Sweet Jesus (the one with the highly freaky, airbrushed cover art). It was inspired by the folk rock playing of Led Zep 3 as much as the Balearic sounds he's known for. Here, remind yourself or introduce yourself...

Steve has since then released two new albums, one in March this year, the Russian titled СТИВИ (Stevie) and then in May a follow up called Nostlagia Intensa. I thought I'd written about both but checking my back pages it appears I haven't written about either (although I did post his former group's first new material in twenty years, the new ep by Fila Brazillia, MMXX). Recording in his garden shed out in the East Riding Steve has moved to a more live instrument led sound on this year's pair. The familiar Cobby influences and sound are present- downtempo, jazzy, funk with washes of ambient sound, hip hop drums and seductive melodies. The song titles are as intriguing as ever- The Common Weal, The Hindu Kush, Dandelion Clocks, I'll Tickle Your Catastrophe, Swimming In Amber- and Steve's ever questing, always creative nature makes for sets of songs that are never dull and always full of wonderful moments. He's been keeping his guitars very close to hand in 2020, both albums filled with funky riffs, fluid runs and sparkling toplines. Having freed himself from the write/ record/ release cycle Steve has become a cottage industry, putting down tracks and working on them until there's enough for an album and then enjoying the freedom to release at will on the internet, especially via an artist friendly site like Bandcamp. Here is СТИВИ  and here is Nostalgia Intensa

Tuesday 6 October 2020



There has been a rush of albums released recently (and earlier this year), so many that it's been difficult to keep up- A Certain Ratio, Roisin Murphy, GLOK, Richard Norris, Rickard Javerling, Daniel Avery and Denise Johnson have all been competing for my listening time and I haven't got anywhere near new ones from Bob Mould, Doves and Thurston Moore. Earlier this year Steve Cobby released not one but two new albums and I'm still getting to know them. Andy Bell (Ride and GLOK not Erasure) has an album out at the end of this week. There's the nine track Unloved remix e.p. and umpteen singles and e.ps by a variety of artists. While this year has been grim in so many ways the amount of outstanding new music has been a flood. So, some album reviews to follow this week as I pick my way through the some of the above.

A Certain Ratio's new album, Loco, is a ten song record that is a near perfect summation of all their good qualities. It nods its hat repeatedly to their forty year history and past glories while also sounding fresh and like a band reborn. They kept their hands in with irregular gigging for much of the 21st century but the deal they signed with Mute has freed them from the day jobs and given them the freedom, the time and the space (and presumably the financial security) to write and record. The result is Loco, their first new album since 2008. I posted Yo Yo Gi in August, an 808 and cowbell led house workout, a dance song that takes 1990's Spirit Dance as its starting point and breaks out from there. On side one closer Always In Love Jez's vocals recall the A&M years of Your Blue Eyes and The Big E. Tony Quigley's sax riffs vividly point to the mid 80s funk years of Force. The guitar/ bass/ drums core of Martin Moscrop, Jez Kerr and Donald Johnson keep harking back to the group's past and Denise Johnson voice's adorns four songs, her appearance always a lead vocal more than a backing vocalist, and her tragic passing in between completing the record and its release is sad beyond words. The album's closing song Taxi Guy is a song developed live during the on and off tour they undertook in 2018 and 2019, whistles and drums and funk rhythms, Brazilian percussion and chants, a re-tooled Si Fermir O Grido. 

But there's plenty on Loco to suggest ACR aren't stuck in their history- the driving bass and dense electro/ rock of Friends Around Us make for a strong opener, especially after the laid back first half of the song. There is overdriven guitar and funky bass on Supafreak with Factory Floor's Gabe Gurnsey on guest vocal and space age indie disco on Berlin, slightly kraut, slightly Factory but also very 2020. On Get A Grip there's another guest spot, a slinky guest vocal from Sink Ya Teeth's Maria Uzor over dense funk and wigged out synths. ACR were always a group for whom dance rhythms and the groove were primary obsessions, pioneers of what came to be known as punk- funk and still moving forward a decade later when the Hacienda was the centre of the story. This album adds plenty to their story with the gloom and ghostly funk of their early years now updated in vibrant 2020 style. 

Monday 5 October 2020

Monday's Long Song


The internet is a wonderful thing- the ability to share across borders and time zones and to connect with people you'd never have otherwise come into contact with never fails to surprise me. 

An internet friend originally from London and now based in Japan got in touch to send me some music from Russia and which now I've played through many times since, no small feat given the track is twenty minutes long. Vladimir Karpov makes music as X.Y.R., described on his Bandcamp page as 'Soviet synthesiser designs'. Echoes Of Time is a long ambient piece with found sounds, rippling analogue synths, subdued drum pulses and birdsong. The A- side, Black Monk In the Dunes, is the same length and pulls off the same magic. You can find both here

Sunday 4 October 2020



Sinead O'Connor is back, a single released on Friday that is as powerful, moving and heartfelt as anything she's done in the past. Never one to shy away from real life issues and always prepared to wear her heart on her sleeve Trouble Of The World is a cover of a traditional song made famous by Mahalia Jackson (who was on the stage at the March On Washington in August 1963 and was the person who drove Martin Luther King to go off his script when he made his I Have A dream speech- 'tell it Martin, tell them your dream' she is said to have told him). The cover was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and all the proceeds will go towards BLM. It was produced by David Holmes in Belfast, a place steeped in it's own history of civil rights and protest. The video was directed by Don Letts. Buy it at Bandcamp

I posted this song earlier this year, back in April which seems a long time ago now, but it's worth posting again and going back to. The Emperor's New Clothes is a song about more personal issues- fame, boyfriends, pregnancy, advice being offered, people's views of her and how she should look, being a single mother- but as Sinead knows the personal is also the political. 

Saturday 3 October 2020

Take It Way Down Low

'1987/ All I wanna Do Is Fly...' sings Jason Spaceman on Come Down Easy, a blues lament/ ode to altered states and the aftermath (based on the gospel/ blues standard In My Time Of Dying, a song purloined by Dylan and Zeppelin before them). This version, the demo, is on the Forged Prescription album that pulls together alternate versions and takes of the songs that made up Spacemen 3's The Perfect Prescription. Over a circular acoustic guitar sequence, the blues played in Rugby, Jason splicing gospel into a late 80s psychedelia, there's some lovely wobbly sounds, and a spindly guitar line occasionally audible. In the third verse Jason goes full on and psyched out with the line 'Meet me children meet me/ Meet me at the top of the sky' and then after promises to shake it and feeling alright he wants to 'take it way down low'. The full trip. 

Come Down Easy (Forged Prescriptions Demo Version) 

Friday 2 October 2020


1991's My Bloody Valentine album Loveless was famously the product of a marathon recording process, endless studios and Kevin Shields' perfectionism. The song Loomer, only two minutes thirty eight seconds long, is as disorientating and otherworldly as anything recorded that year and as flatly distorted and odd as anything on the album. From the opening burst of noise it's the sort of song that makes you think your stereo is broken. Fuzz, Kevin's tremelo bar technique, the glide guitar, bending the strings in and out of tune, what sounds like waves of reverb, layers of recorded sound and Belinda Butcher's vocals coming through the speakers as if through thick fog in the dark. The lyrics are a mystery too, 'tip toe down to holy places/ where you are going now/ don't turn around/ little girls/ in their party dresses/ didn't like anything there/ pretty boys with their sunshine faces/ carrying their heads down'.