It's a bank holiday here today and the sun is shining. This song, all fourteen minutes of it, came out two decades ago back in 2001, a song that builds itself around one of the defining features of the U.S. and its culture- the highway. Over the course of the eleven verses and four choruses (all slightly different from each other) Gillian Welch weaves a spell with acoustic guitar and some soft occasional backing vocals, where the highway of the title is a way back to someone lost, a lover I assume. In the song the highway becomes a winding ribbon, a band of gold, a silver vision, a dream highway, the route home. Along the way she draws in some of the giants of American culture- Johnny Cash, the Grand Ole Opry, Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, John Henry and the Jack of Diamonds, Sunday morning at the diner and Hollywood. Lazarus too. An epic poem set to music, gently melancholic and open to all kinds of interpretations. I don't know what it all means but it's a fine way to spend quarter of an hour on a bank holiday Monday.
Sunday, 30 May 2021
A new Bagging Area mix for Sunday, an optimistic sounding one now that the days are getting longer and the summer seems to be just round the corner. A lot of these songs have been posted here recently individually but they sounded good together. I'm not sure there's a huge amount of cause for optimism with the continuing, ceaseless flow of bad news, bad government and virus rates increasing but maybe it's best to turn the news channel off for a while and unplug. It's at Mixcloud, it won't embed but you can find it here.
As the voice says in the opening Coyote song, 'when all this is over.... I plan to go north...'
- Coyote: Café Con Leche
- Private Agenda: Malanai Ascending (Seahawks Remix)
- Chris Coco: Rainy Season
- Reinhard Vanbergen and Charlotte Carulaerts: Julien
- Primal Scream: Inner Flight
- Justin Deighton and Leo Zero: I Feel Edit
- Cantoma: The Mountain (Lexx Remix)
- HiFi Sean Ft. Yoko Ono: In Love With Life
- A Certain Ratio: Berlin (album version)
- Coyote: Feedback Valley
- Future Beat Alliance: Birth (Claude Young Remix)
Saturday, 29 May 2021
On the side of what used to British Home Stores in Stockport there is a full length set of murals, five concrete panels with tiled pictures illustrating the history of the town, commissioned in 1978. The murals/ mosaics were the work of two designers, Joyce Pallott and Henry Collins. BHS shut down many years ago, the building currently empty and at an unloved end of the Merseyway shopping centre. The panel pictured above, photographed last weekend when the sun came out briefly, shows Stockport's coat of arms (on the right) and then three figures- from right to left, a Cheshire farmer, Samuel Bamford (radical reformer of the 19th century from Middleton, north Manchester) and Richard Cobden (main picture. Cobden was a Manchester resident, manufacturer and radical MP who stood as candidate for Stockport, a free trade advocate, and anti- Corn Laws, anti- Opium Wars and anti- slavery campaigner). I hope that as Stockport redevelops itself they are not lost- a 2016 campaign to have them listed failed.
One of my favourite albums from 2019 was Calming Signals by Nashville artist Rich Ruth, a marriage of noise and ambient music,-drones, synths and guitars, equal parts crystalline jazz freak out and meditative listening experience. This song, Coming Down, was the opener.
Rich is back with a new album called Where's There Life, six tracks written during the early months of the pandemic. This is the prelude to the album, an instrumental ambient experiment called Goldenrods.
Friday, 28 May 2021
Yesterday's post must have appeased the weather gods- I post some Tropicalia and out comes the sun. More new music for your delectation today, from Belgium this time, courtesy of multi- instrumentalist Reinhard Vanbergen and vocalist Charlotte C. Reinhard and Charlotte are also two thirds of Ghent's Balearic dance act Rheinzand. This album- Souvenir Des Bon Gouts- is a less dancefloor oriented, more chilled out affair, inspired by a restaurant in Ghent called Chambre Séparée and the chef/ owner Kobe Desramaults. If I'm ever in Ghent, I'll check it out and report back. This song, Julien, opens the album and is a very pleasant way to spend five and a half minutes- soft drums, some violin and atmospherics, a spacious feeling and Charlotte's voice.
Thursday, 27 May 2021
A bit of change of pace and sound to what I've been posting recently- here's some modern Tropicalia from Rodrigo Amarante, a song from an album called Drama due in July. Brazilian born, Los Angeles based and a member of Los Hermanos (Brazilian band, operating sporadically) and Little Joy (an 00s supergroup with Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes) Amarante has been making and performing music for years. His upbringing close to the Equator left him 'suffocated by the eternal summer'- which may be the case but in a country currently starved of sunshine and warmth this song, Maré, sounds like summer bottled. Acoustic guitars, Brazilian rhythms, some jaunty whistling, vintage radio waves and synths, toy piano and those almost mournful horns. Love that yellow coat he's wearing in the video too.
Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Chris and Cosey have constantly reworked and remixed their back catalogue, fashioning new versions for live performance and then releasing some of them when they see fit. In 2014 a remix package to support their US tour saw an updated version of their 1983 calling card October (Love Song) along with four other songs, remixed in/ by their Carter Tutti guise. After a murky beginning that gorgeous melody starts to appear and then Cosey's semi- spoken, natural vocal and the pulsing electronic track, intact but with a 21st century sheen and heft.
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Dub for Tuesday from Yabby You and The Prophets, the flipside to his debut single Conquering Lion. The album, also called Conquering Lion, was released in 1975, widely seen as one of the classics of roots era, with a cast of players including Tommy McCook, Aston Barrett, Earl Chinna Smith and Augustus Pablo. Incredibly Yabby and the band recorded it onto two track- one track for bass and drums and one for organ, with additional instruments dubbed on at Tubby's after. The original album has been re- released this year in expanded form with the original ten cuts and a further twelve dubs and versions. Essential roots reggae, full of the political, righteous and devotional fervour of mid- 70s Jamaica. You can buy the whole thing in a variety of formats here.
Monday, 24 May 2021
Sunday, 23 May 2021
A Certain Ratio's 21st century renaissance continues. Their ACR: EPA 12" came out recently, four songs recorded at the end of the sessions that led to last year's album and the last songs to feature the vocals of Denise Johnson. They've just announced two further EPs, ACR: EPR which promises a further five new songs (grey vinyl and digital, out in August) and ACR: EPC (blue vinyl, out in July). EPC has a version of Music Control, the collaboration with Stretford's Chris Massey and their Sir Horatio alter ego, a tribute to Andrew Weatherall titled The Guv' nor (ACR were one of Weatherall's foremost and guiding influences), the long version of YOYOGRIP and this face off between ACR and The Emperor Machine.
If that doesn't get you up and out of your chair, I don't know what will. Deliberately pushing the Shack Up button with a bassline from their earliest days, ACR and The Emperor Machine (Andrew Meecham) are in full flow with brightly coloured dance funk, laser beams and mirror balls, and that ever present northern noir.
Saturday, 22 May 2021
Private Agenda are a two man team split between London and Berlin (Sean Phillips and Martin Aggrowe) who have an extensive back catalogue behind them, their own work, along with numerous remixes and collaborations. Their first full album came out in 2019, an album called Île de Rêve, a dream island which inspired the nine tracks- downtempo, Balearic, ambient music. The album and the rest of their back catalogue is here. Recently a remix package called Submersion came my way- water, islands, the sea, coasts all loom large in Private Agenda's musical headspace. The six remixes are a mini- album in themselves- half an hour of washes of synth, drum pads, half heard vocals, brightly coloured passages and parts where the sound drifts by, repeating piano parts and warm drones- with remixes and reworkings by Coral Sea, JQ, Delac, Delmer Darion, Ocean Moon and this one from Seahawks.
Seahawks are masters of this kind of thing, the point where Balearic and ambient gently bump into each other, with their own recordings dating back to 2010 and the authors of several albums which I've played to death- Paradise Freaks, Escape Hatch and Starways are all recommended. Seahawks remix of Malanai Ascending is a chilled but persistent, slightly psychedelic swim in warm seas, the bass pulsing while waves of sound swoosh by, birdsong, a piano- kaleidoscopic like bright sunlight glinting off the surface of the sea. Buy it digitally or on cassette here.
Friday, 21 May 2021
I just noticed that Google/ Blogger have deleted a whole week of posts from early March this year claiming that they have violated their community standards. The posts include-
- Underworld 'Concord'
- Spooky 'Schmoo' (Underworld Remix)
- Daniel Avery remixed by Jas Shaw and Teodor Wolgers
- Curses remixed by Inga Mauer and Daniel Avery remixed by Inga Mauer
- Andrew Weatherall and Michael Smith's Unreal City
- Dan Wainwright and Rude Audio's Early Morning
- The Charlatans Then
- The Utopia Strong 'Strange Altar'
When Alan McGee told Primal Scream to turn their run of singles in 1990- 1991 into an album the end result was Screamadelica. The singles that led to it were era- defining and a total change of course for a band who were first 60s indie janglers and then Stooges style rockers. Taken together the singles- Loaded (I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have remixed/ demolished by Andrew Weatherall), Come Together (an epochal Weatherall mix and a summer sun kissing, Elvis referencing Terry Farley version), Higher Than The Sun (various Weatherall mixes and an eight minute Orb mix) and Don't Fight It, Feel It (Weatherall and Hugo Nicolson again at the helm, no guitars, no Bobby, Denise Johnson singing)- are a compilation released together. Add Movin' On Up, a Jimmy Miller Rolling Stones/ gospel fantasy made real, and you still have a series of singles. Slip Inside This House almost sounds like another single, a tripped out acid house cover of The 13th Floor Elevators with Throb singing. It's the rest of songs that turn Screamadelica from an all- the- hits 1991 compilation to an album, sequenced to work from start to finish, a trip/ journey unfolding over four sides of vinyl. I'm Coming Down and Damaged are a pair of ballads, one a Pharaoh Saunders influenced hit of comedown and the other a country blues, a pair of album tracks that give the album a different pace and vibe. The glue that holds it all together are the other two Weatherall / Nicolson songs, Inner Flight and Shine Like Stars. I'll come back to Shine Like Stars, the perfect closer for Screamadelica another time- instead here is Inner Flight.
Hugo Nicolson provided the studio nous and production skills for Weatherall to translate the spirit of the times and his encyclopaedic record collection into recordings. Inner Flight is a trippy, Pet Sounds on ecstasy instrumental, floating in and floating on, a circling melody line and some stellar, wordless ooh ooh ahhh backing vocals drifting in (sampled partly from C.B. Cook along with some drums from Dr. John's Gris Gris). If you listen to the last forty seconds of this 1974 song from Brian Eno you'll spot where Andrew pilfered the sound effect from for Inner Flight's intro as well.
Thursday, 20 May 2021
Hinds, a four piece, all female guitar band from Madrid released a cover of Spanish Bombs last year- a frenetic, breakneck, shouty, exhilarating race through one of The Clash's finest moments. This is a lo- fi, energetic and wonderfully chaotic recording of the song that definitely captures the spirit of the band. I'm sure Joe would have loved it.
Wednesday, 19 May 2021
I'm fifty one years old today. Last year's birthday, the big five- oh, took place in lockdown and despite everything it was a good day- lockdown brought some freedoms with it in a way, do what you can under the circumstances. This year's birthday means we can actually go to a pub although our booking for tonight is for sitting outside, it still feels a bit soon to be going indoors.
Songs about being fifty- one are understandably thin on the ground. There aren't too many songs celebrating moving another year into your fifties. On Heartland in 1986 The The sang about the UK being the 51st state of the USA but that's not especially cheery for a birthday song. Instead here's Jimi Hendrix and his Experience in 1967 with a song about 51st anniversaries, the B-side to Purple Haze. Hendrix's guitar sings and swings, fuzzy and warm, switching between rhythm and lead or playing both at the same time, Noel and Mitch thudding away behind him. Jimi sings about the flipsides of marriage, a tale about not wanting to settle down, not wanting to be tied down- very much a young man's point of view. Jimi never lived to see his 51st birthday- he died four months after I was born, 18th September 1970.
Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Monday, 17 May 2021
How about an unofficial dub version of Loaded to start the week? Peter Fonda starting us off with his speech sampled from The Wild Angels, 'We want to be free... we wanna get loaded, we wanna have a good time', but then he gets slowed dooooown to a halt. A melodica floats in and the skank takes over. There are some 'na na nas' towards the end. No idea who is responsible for this but I'm glad they did it.
Edit: Jake (and Discogs) agree that the artist behind this is Nuffwish.
Sunday, 16 May 2021
David Holmes was back in his regular monthly slot in God's Waiting Room at NTS Radio at the start of May, another two hours of perfectly chosen music from across the board- ambient, psychedelia, Velvets indebted rock from Belfast, cinematic weirdness, dub techno from Ability II in 1990, folk, experimental exotica, The Mekons in 1978, the whole gamut of leftfield music but always with a tune and a way in. You can find it at Mixcloud, two hours well spent.
This would fit right in with the rest of David's selections, a new song from The Liminanas with Laurent Garnier on board- thumping drums and electronic rhythms, a twangy riff, beatnik gang vibes and Lionel speaking in French (naturellement) over the top.
Saturday, 15 May 2021
Back in 2018 Circle Sky, the sleek electronic/ sci fi techno vehicle for Richard Norris and Martin Dubka to explore their futuristic dreams, released a single called Ghost In The Machine. It was and is a favourite of mine, tinkling piano at the top end, synth stabs, subtle, pulsing drums, a spectral voice and lots of beautiful repetition- repetition of melodies, of rhythms and vocals.
Circle Sky also released If I Let Go in the same year and in 2019 Love Hertz, both with some sumptuous remixes from the likes of Ulrich Schnauss, Crooked Man and Michael Mayer.
Now, as part of Richard Norris' seemingly endless productivity drive in 2020- 2021 and his Inner Mind subscription service we have a new Circle Sky release, Holding On. Similar building blocks, all those elements present- repetition, sweetly sung vocal loops, pitter- pattering drums, bright synth melodies and retro- futurist, happy/ sad, euphoric/ melancholic sheen. The album, titled Dream Colour (a title which sums Circle Sky up perfectly), is out in the summer.
Friday, 14 May 2021
Some uplifting feelgood musical biscuits for Friday courtesy of some veteran DJs and producers. First, an edit of a 70s folk rock song, refitted for 2021 by Justin Deighton and Leo Zero, out on 7" and digitally at their own 7s Clash label (with a tie in bar at Two Tribes Campfire in King's Cross, London). I Feel is a funky/ Balearic number, acoustic guitars, a chugger of a bassline and lots of chanting- I'm getting hippy parties in the Med in the mid 1970s, unspoilt beaches, kaftans, hash, sunsets, sandals, love beads. Find it here. The B-side is a Pete Herbert dub of the edit, a more laid back version but still with that chuggy rhythm.
Balearic overlord Phil Mison records under the name Cantoma. This Pete Herbert remix of Cantoma's Verbana from 2018 fits perfectly with the I Feel Edit above, more music for dancing, acoustic guitars, bubbly bassline, handclaps and a soaring synth part.
This one, another Cantoma/ Pete Herbert pairing, shows the Balearic revival (if it ever really went away) was well underway back in 2014. Very laid back magic.
Thursday, 13 May 2021
Releasing single songs or tracks semi- regularly onto the internet has become the new way of putting music out for many artists, especially those who occupy the long tail of the music industry- not a single as we'd recognise it from the glory days of the 7" of the 70s and 80s or the CD single even of the 90s but a drip- drip- drip of new music in easily digestible chunks. Bandcamp seems to offer artists a much better deal than the big streaming services and they have a one Friday a month offer that gives even better cut for the artist. Two of my recent favourites both unleashed new tracks into the ether last Friday, a pair of superb pieces of 21st century electronic music, built on the dance music of the past but with a half closed eye squinting at the future.
Duncan Gray has released umpteen tracks through his label Tici Taci, often the kind of chuggy, wonky monsters that made Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston's A Love From Outer Space travelling disco such a good night out. His latest offering is a bouncier, housier affair- May Your Toes Kiss The Sand Again is a sentiment we can all empathise with and the track is a joy, a Larry Heard inspired piece of uptempo Chicago house via Slough (or uptempo Slough house via Chicago, either way).
This is an older one, Deep Blue, a fuzz bass- led slice of dark acid disco from 2013.
Pye Corner Audio has been dropping, as I believe the young people say, a series of one off tracks since lockdown last year, mesmerising wobbly acid and sci fi house with button pushing names like Quarry Rave, Rotational Squelch, Memory Of Rave, Somewhere There's A Sunrise and Jupiter Orbit. The latest is Interplanetary Acid, five minutes of retro- futurism, synths and sequencers, that I can't get enough of. Get it here at a name your own price deal.
More Pye Corner Audio acid from earlier this year came in the shape of Thermionic Acid- darker, deeper and altogether squelchier, part of a four track release called Midnight Acid. There's a theme developing here isn't there?
Wednesday, 12 May 2021
New Order's recent releases (and by recent I mean those since 2015's Music Complete) haven't always convinced me. It sounds like New Order but with all the edges sanded off and smoothed out, the tension and pioneering spirit of their greatest art lost after so long in the saddle. I suppose it's to be expected- no one can keep their edge for that long, unreliable technology and stubborn independence gets traded in for gear that works and financial security. At some point in the process (I'm dating this to the recording of Republic in 1993 and Rob Gretton's absence onwards) there was a power struggle that was won by Bernard. He took control of the creative process and song writing, the recording and production. Peter Hook's departure is well documented and there's no need to dig over that again but his bass was one of, if not the, key sounds of New Order- the bass guitar as lead instrument, the riffs and runs played through that chorus pedal and those amps. At some point Bernard decided he wanted a bass player who followed the guitarist and who just played the root notes.
Thankfully Hooky pops up here and there from time to time, bassist for hire, his Viking bass sound immediately identifiable on two superb singles by The Liminanas (Garden Of Love and The Gift). Last year he slung the bass around on a single with Damon Albarn's Gorillaz, part of their monthly 2020 digital release campaign. Aries, Hooky's growl at the start and then the bass runs throughout, beamed in seemingly straight from New Order's Cheetham Hill rehearsal studio in 1986, seem to contain the spirit of New Order as much, if not more, than anything on Music Complete.
Ten years previously Damon, Jamie Hewlett and the four unreal members of Gorillaz released Plastic Beach, a guest star heavy concept album featuring turns from Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Gruff Rhys and another hero of the Manchester's punk scene, the late Mark E Smith.
'Where's north from here?'
Tuesday, 11 May 2021
At the end of last week JC at The Vinyl Villain posted three songs by Cocteau Twins, the epically beautiful Pearly Dewdrops Drop and the two songs from the 12" single, The Spangle Maker and Pepper- Tree. By coincidence I'd recently pulled the band's 1990 album Heaven Or Las Vegas off the shelf, intending to give it a listen. The opening song, Cherry- coloured Funk, is a spellbinding and breath taking three minutes, a liquid, melting guitar riff played over the simplest of drum machine beats, a swirl of FX lying just behind. Liz Fraser's voice glides in on top, an otherworldly blur of words and then without warning a sudden soaring moment to a falsetto part that is . The guitar riff comes back again, round and round in its gently trippy, off kilter groove and Liz sings on- I've no idea what she's singing about and it really doesn't matter, the words are just part of the sound (I'm sure they meant something to Liz when she wrote them). The band was going through some churn at the time and there's a slight unease about the album, hints at the darkness of their personal lives- you can hear it Cherry- coloured Funk- but there's also an energy about the songs and the rush bands get when they're on a creative roll and on fire.
Monday, 10 May 2021
I did another mix for Scotland's Tak Tent Radio and it went out yesterday from their nerve centre. I put it together back in March when the days were shorter and I seemed to spend a lot of time walking round in the dark after work- seems a bit gloomy now that it's May and the evenings are lighter much later. At first I intended it to be a fully ambient/ drone mix, partly because I was listening to a lot of ambient music in my headphones while walking and partly because I'd just begun reading Harry Sword's book, Monolithic Undertow, a history and appreciation of the drone from Neolithic times to the present day (highly recommended if you haven't read it) but I got twenty five minutes into the mix and thought we needed some drums (and a voice or two too). Tak Tent Radio is here, loads of great stuff to listen to. Bagging Area Tak Tent Three is at Mixcloud. Tracklist below.
Tak Tent Three
- Luke Schneider: Anteludium
- Daniel Avery: Tremor
- A Winged Victory For The Sullen: The Dead Outnumber The Living
- Richard Norris: Hilma
- Craven Faults: Cupola Smelt Mill
- Pye Corner Audio: Quarry Rave
- Herrmann Kristoferson: Gone Gold
- Ruf Dug: Dominica (Kenneth Bager’s Sunset Ambient Mix)
- Andrew Weatherall and Michael Smith: Estuary Embers
- Art Of Noise: Moments In Love
- Cheval Sombre: It’s Not Time
- Vangelis/ Blade Runner: Pris Meets JF Sebastian
- Vangelis/ Blade Runner: Spinner Ascent
Sunday, 9 May 2021
Coyote are Timm Sure and Richard Hampson, a duo who met at the legendary Nottingham nightclub Venus in the late 80s and went on to DJ there, and then make their own music together. Their latest release is a five track EP led by a slow paced, easy going Balearic dream called Return To Life.
Saturday, 8 May 2021
It's a month since I last posted anything by Andrew Weatherall and that's too long a gap. Time for a remix, seven minutes of bliss and wide eyed abandon, the aural equivalent of sunrise after a night out that you don't want to end. Brisbane's Confidence Man, a male- female duo who make day glo, straight up, electro/ indie dance for nightclubs and festivals, released Out Of The Window in 2018, a poppy tribute to a night out that never ends and lyrics celebrating the joys of hedonism- 'It's about time the sun comes up/ We don't wanna believe it/ Seven hours later I'm still up/ I can't really see us sleeping'.
Weatherall presses play on the steam powered drum machine, isolates and repeats extracts of the vocal, pulls in a gorgeous Hawaiian guitar lick, adds a pulsing synth topline and sends everything into 'euphoric chugger' mode, circling round a couple of key vocal phrases, one being the 'Slow down, carry me home/ Lights out, arms open wide/ Exhale, step inside' part. When the beautiful, rising ecstatic/ melancholic chord sequence hits at five minutes thirty it's almost too much to take but then the multi- tracked vocals take over to carry us home, 'try to free my mind/ I only want a good time...'
Friday, 7 May 2021
This song has been posted at various blogs recently, many of them friends of this blog, but it seems tailor made for Bagging Area in many ways and it's a feelgood, upbeat dance song for Friday- and we could all do with a bit of feelgood and upbeat for Friday.
Hifi Sean (Sean Dickson) got hold of the master tapes of Fire Island's 1998 cover version of Shout To The Top. Finding the original vocal part, sung by legend Loleatta Holloway, Sean re-wrote the track from the bottom up, in the end providing three different mixes- house, soul/ disco and orchestral horses for courses. Bassline, four on the floor, lovely late 80s pianos, strings, gospel backing vox and then Loleatta. Hands in the air. Hugging strangers. Lights come up. End of the night. Crowd spills out into the night. Here.
Hifi Sean was in a former musical life the frontman of The Soup Dragons, the original indie dance crossover band. His journey from there to here shouldn't be too surprising given how enthusiastic he was about dance music back in 1989. The 1998 version of Shout To The Top isn't too shabby either, the work of Fire Island aka Terry Farley and Pete Heller (both men the subject of various posts here in the last eleven years, Boy's Own being one of the cornerstones of my record collection). Fire Island's cover has a more NYC, Salsoul flavour.
Back in 1984 Shout To The Top was the seventh single released by The Style Council. By this point Paul Weller had put significant distance between his then current band and his previous one. Shout To The Top is a classic Style Council single, the equal of most things The Jam released- those staccato strings, the thumping pace, Weller's vocal, the surge into the chorus. Shout To The Top, then and now, is hugely uplifting dance pop, a message of solidarity and determination and a refusal to beaten down in times of economic and political uncertainty- with a smile on its face.
Thursday, 6 May 2021
Wednesday, 5 May 2021
This is very good indeed, a ten minute advance on a full album coming out in June, from the combined talents of The Grid and Robert Fripp. Back in 1992 Dave Ball and Richard Norris worked with Fripp with some of these recordings saw the light of day on the albums 456 and Evolver. Recently Richard rediscovered the tapes from the sessions which included unreleased material, unfinished and unmixed tracks. Some new synths and drums, FX and some technical jiggery- pokery were then added to Fripp's '92 soundscapes and voila!, a new album called Leviathan. Fire Tower is a ten minute treat, programmed beats, long tones and drones, bags of texture and atmosphere- something to sink into on a rainy day.
Tuesday, 4 May 2021
This is shaping up to be one of the singles of spring 2021, a joint venture from Craig Bratley and Amy Douglas. No In Between kicks off with Italo/ Balearic analogue synths and a beat taken at a hot summer's day pace with typically strong vocals from Amy before some bleeps from Sheffield circa 1990 are beamed in sideways. There's a dub remix too, a slowed down, bass led head- nodder. You can find both at Bandcamp.
Monday, 3 May 2021
Two long songs today, a bank holiday special, both taken from a 12" single released in 1991 on beautiful sugary pink vinyl from Julian Cope who was at that point at the crest of a wave. Beautiful Love was the first single ahead of the Peggy Suicide album, a trumpet led tribute to Avalon. For the Beautiful Love L.U.V. remix an uncredited Hugo Nicolson loops up various drum parts, handclaps and wobbles, a bass excerpt and some vocal fragments and samples dropped in, a seven minute ride, progressive pop/ house (or something like that). Although it's clearly rooted in 1991's sounds and styles it still works today.
If you turned the 12" over- and why wouldn't you?- there was a nine minute guitar led psyche rock, repetition freakout called Dragonfly. Fading in and then driving onward in motorik krautrock fashion, Dragonfly is all heavy Stooges guitars, wah wah organ, a relentless fuzzed up groove cooked up by Cope and Donald Ross Skinner, and some ad libbed vocals and the occasional exclamation of the title.
Sunday, 2 May 2021
The Woodentops were a great band, a little out of step with the times perhaps which maybe explains why their music still sounds so good today. Their mixture of rockabilly, fast propulsive rhythms (at least partly due to a stand up drummer with hub caps as part of his kit), acoustic guitars being scrubbed at speed, the sweetly sung vocals of Rolo and a generally bright, sunny outlook set them apart from their peers in the indie world. There's some hints of darker influences in their music, Suicide definitely in there somewhere and Rolo served some time in Liverpool post- punk legends The Wild Swans but their songs were usually upbeat, beat music. Why Why Why was adopted by the Balearic DJs, Alfredo and Leo Mas, out in the Mediterranean and then in the club scene back home, an Adrian Sherwood version of the song and then a live version recorded in Los Angeles in 1986 and released a year later on the Live Hypno Beat Live album. This version was from a session recorded for Janice Long at the BBC in 1986.
Saturday, 1 May 2021
Dublin's poetry/ guitar guttersnipes Fontaines D.C. have been remixed by Belgium's remix/ mash up party kings Soulwax,. A Hero's Death is ideal May Day bank holiday weekend music- a drum machine, NY disco- not- disco vibes, an FX strewn, mechanical chugger. Singer Grian Chatten dispenses wisdom- 'life ain't always empty/ life ain't always empty.... don't get stuck in the past/ say your favourite things at mass/ tell your mother you love her/ and go out of your way for others....'