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Tuesday 31 January 2023

Polar Bears

Ride and The Charlatans began a double header tour of North America yesterday, the two bands swapping headlining duties each night. Pet Shop Boys and New Order did a similar thing last year, as did Suede and Manic Street Preachers. I can see the attraction for the bands- split the costs, shift more tickets, play slightly shorter sets without the pressure to be top of the bill every night. For the fans too, it's a winner- in the combinations mentioned here there can't be many people who'd pay to see one of the bands without even the slightest interest in seeing the other. If Ride and The Charlatans want to repeat it over here, I'm definitely in. They played together back in the early 90s, a tour of seaside towns billed as the Daytripper tour (I say tour, it may have Brighton and Blackpool only). 

Back in 1990 both bands released their debut albums, The Charlatans Some Friendly in October and Ride's Nowhere a week later. Both albums had songs titled Polar Bear too. I think I remember reading somewhere that the bands became aware each other were writing songs titled Polar Bear and both went ahead, finding some kinship in it. 

The Charlatans' Polar Bear was a live favourite, the group having built up a fanatical following following the release of debut single Indian Rope. It chugs in on funky guitar and organ, a distorted woodwind topline snaking around for two minutes before Tim steps up to the mic, voice quite low in the swirly mix, singing about  a girl who's 'freezing to death with no clothes on/ She doesn't know what day it is', the song bubbling up for the line, 'I've never had one of those'. The verse, 'Life's a bag of revels/ I'm looking for the orange one', was a fan favourite, inspiring a fanzine and oft quoted in reviews in the music press. Later on Tim gets more oblique, 'Have you seen my polar bear?/ It's the white thing over there'. Polar Bear split opinions in the group, some thinking they didn't do the song justice and overproduced it, others wanting it to be a single. In the end, with Martin Blunt threatening to quit if it was the next single, they put out The Only One I Know instead which would seem retrospectively to be the correct decision. 

Polar Bear

Ride's Polar Bear was the last song on side one of their debut, a Mark Gardener written song, and also has lines about an unnamed girl. 'She knew she was able to fly', Mark sings, 'Because when she came down/ She had dust on her hands from the sky/ She said I touched a cloud'. The guitars are a squall of noise, the drums and guitars grinding their way forward through the intro. The second verse contains one of my favourite Ride lines, the sort of line only a nineteen year old can get away with, one of those profound middle of the night thoughts that seem daft in daylight, stoned silliness- 'Why should it feel like a crime?/ If I want to be with you all the time?/ Why is it measured in hours?/ You should make your own time'. We should all make our own time eh? I might do it today.  

Polar Bear

Monday 30 January 2023

Monday's Long Song: Tom Verlaine

Tom Verlaine died at the weekend aged seventy three. We are into an age of loss, where the people we grew up listening to and who have been part of our musical lives for the last three or four decades, are passing on. Tom Verlaine made many fine albums as a solo artist and Television's second album, Adventure (released in 1978), has lots to commend it, the songs are frequently magnificent but when all's said and done, Tom Verlaine's legend comes down to Marquee Moon. 

I can understand that for some artists/ writers/ film makers, the creation of a song/ album/ book/ film that shifts the entire pop culture, that defines the zeitgeist, that is an absolute solid gold ten out of ten piece of art, and that inspires countless others to follow in your footsteps, can be a millstone. It becomes a thing you cannot live up to and are forever judged against. But, looking back, a couple of days after Tom has died...  Tom Verlaine wrote Marquee Moon. And Tom Verlaine (and Fred Smith, Billy Ficca and Richard Lloyd) made Marquee Moon.

Marquee Moon was recorded in 1976 and came out in 1977. I didn't hear it then- I was only six and six year olds don't tend to have much interest in twin guitar art rock, garage punk from New York. I first heard it in the late 80s. I was a huge fan of Talking Heads who came from the CBGBs scene that Television invented and at some point an NME article or interview or book would have nudged me in Marquee Moon's direction. I bought it on cassette, it was cheap, one of those £4.49 Nice Price albums in Our Price or HMV. It blew me away. The first side alone is worth the entry fee, the clanging chords and rush of See No Evil, the street poetry of Venus and the line, 'I fell right into the arms of Venus de Milo', the rush and layered guitar lines of Friction and then the ten minute trip of the title track. 

Marquee Moon

Marquee Moon opens with those jagged guitar slashes countered with the little trebly riff and the warm bubbling bassline. Then Tom starts singing, 'I remember how the darkness doubled/ I recall how lightning struck itself'. The song unfolds, the guitars themselves lyrical, guitar lines that rise and fall and sing. Meanwhile Tom continues with his acid story- 'I spoke to man down at the tracks/ He said look here junior don't you be too happy/ And for heaven's sake don't you be too sad' and then later there are Cadillacs pulling out of graveyards, the kiss of death and the embrace of life, and other mysterious, poetic lines coupled with New York cool- 'I ain't waiting, uh uh'. Tom's guitar flies off for several minutes half way through, somewhere between rock 'n' roll and avant jazz (and nowhere near what punk sounded like during the rest of 1977) and the lines rise and rise, ever higher, drums crashing behind them, reaching a clanging crescendo before collapsing into some piano notes... and then the breakdown. Billy Ficca's drums come back in and the guitar slashes return and Tom is wailing again, 'I remember how the darkness doubled... I was listening to the rain'. When it finally fades out at ten minutes you're left thinking they'll pick it up again and it will carry on, the guitars and drums looping forever. 

This alternate version was added to a CD re- issue in 2003. By this point I'd replaced my cassette copy with a vinyl one and then bought the CD too. It's very similar to the one that they chose for the album, some slightly different parts to the solos and slightly longer. The way Tom and Richard play together on Marquee Moon, their guitars wrapping around each other, Tom's Fender doing this while Richard's does that, woven together, countering each other and playing off and with each other, is a magical, a form of alchemy. 'I remember how the darkness doubled/ I recall how lightning struck itself'. R.I.P Tom Verlaine. 

Marquee Moon (Alternate Version)

Sunday 29 January 2023

Forty Minutes Of Dot Allison

A Dot Allison mix for Sunday, entirely songs from the post- One Dove years (a One Dove mix is something for another Sunday I think, maybe quite soon). It was only when I started thinking about this mix properly that I realised how many songs she's sung on with other people since One Dove, not to mention her various solo albums (Afterglow in 1999, 2002's We Are Science done with Two Lone Swordsman Keith Tenniswood, 2007's folky singer songwriter Exaltation Of Larks and 2021's Heart Shaped Scars all exist in one format or another round here). In the end, once I decided to include the Lee Perry remix and her two songs with Wigan guitarist Mark Peters from last year, it turned into a fuzzy, hazy Balearic, leftfield kind of selection- I tried some of the songs from We Are Science but they just didn't fit with the mood.  

Forty Minutes of Dot Allison

  • Switched On
  • Love Died In Our Arms (Lee Scratch Perry Remix)
  • Dirge (Adrian Sherwood Remix)
  • Dirge
  • Aftersun
  • Sundowning (Richard Norris Remix)
  • Mo' Pop
  • Message Personnel (Arab Strap Remix)
Switched On and Sundowning are both from Mark Peters excellent 2022 album Red Sunset Dreams with Dot on vocals. Switched On is a version of Switch On The Sky, the first single from the album, and Richard Norris remixed Sundowning twice for a follow up single, one ambient and one with drums. 

Love Died In Our Arms was from a solo EP, Entangled, out a year ago. Lee Scratch Perry's remix was the final thing he worked on before his death. Dot had assumed Lee had died before being able to remix her song until she was contacted by Lee's widow and told otherwise. 

Dirge was on  the 1999 Death In Vegas album The Contino Sessions, the  opening song and a single too. Apologies if the Adrian Sherwood remix version in this mix is a bit quiet- from memory I downloaded it from the Death In Vegas MySpace page (!) circa 2007 and it's a low bitrate compared to everything else here. You may have to turn the volume up. 

Aftersun was recorded with Massive Attack in 2005 and included in the film Danny The Dog but not the CD soundtrack. It was available from Dot's website. 

Mo' Pop was on Dot's debut solo album Afterglow and a single too. It is late 90s soul- pop perfection, with a superb Henry Olsen bassline. Message Personnel was on Afterglow too and also a single, which came with this very nice Arab Strap remix. 

Saturday 28 January 2023

Saturday Live

Back in 1994 the Beastie Boys were not merely a three headed, six legged rap group- on the back of two groundbreaking albums (Paul's Boutique and Check Your head, 1989 and 1992 respectively), they  they were a cross cultural, genre hopping phenomenon, three men who knew exactly what time it was and exactly where it was at. Their 1994 album Ill Communication drew not just from rap and hip hop culture (though of course it did do that in spades) but also from soul, funk and punk, fusing samples with live instruments, with increasingly ingenious three way rhymes and a live band that included Money Mark and Eric Bob and guests like Q- Tip and Biz Markie. Ill Communication and the Boys' magazine Grand Royale presented a hermetic world of Beastie Boy influences and likes, that was both hilarious nonsense and totally serious. Grand Royale, running for only six issues in the 90s, had articles on Lee Scratch Perry, ramen (obscure stuff in apre- Wagamamas UK), martial arts, Moog synths, skateboarding and guest articles such as Thurston Moore on atonal jazz. It came with free gifts including iron on transfers and build your own card bass jeeps. The multitudes of rhymes and lyrics on Ill Communication are head- spinningly brilliant; the opening song Sure Shot alone has references to Dr John and Mr Zu Zu, Lee Dorsey, the Pelham 1 2 3 , Kojak, John Woo, Rod Carew, Lee Perry and Vaughn Bode and an apology for the way they behaved in their earlier incarnation- 'the disrespect to women has got to be through', MCA raps towards the end. Musically, Sure Shot is built around a flute sample from a jazz flute album. In 1994, the Beastie Boys, were the best band in the world. 

In the same year they arrived in the UK for some gigs and played a secret show in the basement of Slam City Skates, Neal's Yard, Covent Garden. Slam City was one of those places we'd make sure we visited on trips to London, on the looking for X- Large t- shirts, trainers and records (rather than actual skateboards although I had friends who were skaters back then). Slam City had skateboard clothing and gear upstairs, records in the basement (memory suggests this was a branch of Rough Trade). The footage here is the Beastie Boys, in full live set up mode with drums, percussion, keys, guitars and amps, crammed into the basement of Slam City Skates, playing a blistering thirty minutes secret gig.

Starting out with some of their typically stoned 70s instrumental funk, the cameraman losing the visuals for a while (and the sound quality isn't brilliant but it was an audience handheld camcorder in 1994, so maybe we shouldn't be too picky), Eric Bobo on congas while MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D kick up a storm. It's very close knit, straight out of the rehearsal room stuff, loose and groovy. At fifteen minutes Ad- Rock swaps guitars and moves to the mic, his back to the audience and they blast into Sabotage. Mike D moves from drums to the mic next for Egg Raid On Mofo and Tough Guy and then the three Beasties begin trading rhymes, squeezed in next to each other and finishing with the amped up, slow jam hip hop of Root Down, dropping science and playing the funky shit. 

Root Down

Friday 27 January 2023

Polychrome Occult Persuasion

Two updates from the world of David Holmes for Friday. In the middle of the week Unloved, David's cinematic/ girl group/ weird 60s for the 21st century trio he formed with Jade Vincent and Keefus Ciancia, are following their twenty three song Pink Album (which only came out last year) with a nine song album called Polychrome. Ahead of the album Unloved have released I Did It, hip swinging psyche- pop  built around a wobbly bassline and whipcrack snare and ice cold vocals.

Polychrome is out on 24th February, vinyl and download. Order here

David returned to NTS this week too for the first God's Waiting Room radio show of this year (going live on the 23rd January 2023 for the 23 fans out there), two hours of sounds kicking off with some beautiful pedal steel guitar from Andrew Tuttle and then winding its way onwards in laid back, cosmische fashion, taking in Rico Toto, Prince Jammy, the dub splendour of Occult Persuasion by Bill Laswell, The Residents, Vangelis, Pleasure Pool among the many treasures played. You can listen at NTS or at Mixcloud

Thursday 26 January 2023

Back In The Underworld

Back to Underworld after last week's run of posts. I can't get enough at the moment, their music soundtracking my daily commute. In 1992 this pair of Underworld/ Darren Emerson remixes were released, long progressive house thumpers, some trademark Underworld sounds and styles pulsing through the grooves. 

108 Grand were Ben Chapman and Dee Vaz. Darren remixed Te Quiro twice, this one being the longer of the pair coming in at a shade under ten minutes, powerful, driving proto- trance that builds and builds, a proper dancing track with a funked up bassline and full on piano/ synth repeating topline.

Te Quiero (Darren Emerson Underworld Remix)

Eagle's Prey were John Kennedy, Lee Grainge and Paul Coleman. Darren's remix of Tonto's Drum is in a similar vein, chunky drums, a sampled squeak at the top end, moody synth bass and a male voice intoning, give it to them... give it to them', the sort of combination of sounds that in a dark room filled with dry ice caused shivers down spines. Karl Hyde's clipped guitar chords and the female vocal add to the tension. The track (as above) builds and builds, breaking down partly at four minutes forty with the drums then crashing back in. The piano house breakdown at six fifty gives a pause for breath, an arms in the air moment and then Darren starts to bring it back, everything more intense and on it goes, nine minutes, ten minutes, eleven... 

Tonto's Drum (Darren Emerson Remix)

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Make Me Tea

Spencer sent me a song to follow last week's Cindy D'Lequez Sage/ Brian Eno song, The Moon's Lament. Our series last year was all gnarly techno/ acid house but for this run of weekly posts Spencer's decided it's going to be lyrics. This week's song is Make Me Tea by Woo.

Make Me Tea

Edit: link now updated and correct.

Make Me Tea sounds very English, and puts me in mind of that pastoral, 1967, Syd/ Barrett/ Robert Wyatt kind of English music, where folk, nursery rhymes and psychedelia meet. At first it seems quite whimsical but as the song plays and the instruments lock together, and the male and female voices drift by, it becomes absorbing, entrancing and emotive, entering a dreamlike state.  'Take me to the place you love/ And I will love you too/ Sing to me your favourite song/ And I will sing along with you', they sing, and sound like they means every word. 

Woo are Mark and Clive Ives, multi- instrumentalist brothers who have been making albums from South London and Surrey since 1982, albums fusing acoustic guitars and clarinets with synthesisers and keyboards. In 1990 they put out their third album Into The Heart Of Love, a twenty three song opus available (then) only on cassette- slow paced, acoustic sounding with synths providing texture, atmospheric and sounding like it has come from a sealed room or a time capsule dug up from someone's garden. Spencer used the word beguiling. I can't find a better one. 

Into The Heart Of Love is now available digitally at Bandcamp so there's no need to go searching for a cassette player in the garage or second hand online. It probably sounds best played on cassette mind, the tape hiss and running the tape forward at the end of side one all part of the experience. 

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Strawberry Afro

Strawberry Studios, Waterloo Road, Stockport, opened in 1968 and closed in the early 1990s, owned and fitted out with top of the range spec by 100cc's Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman. In between a multitude of bands made significant records there- for the purposes of this post we'll go with Joy Division and Martin Hannett recording Unknown Pleasures and Love Will Tear Us Apart, early New Order before they decided to go on without Hannett producing, The Smiths and Hand In Glove plus the 'Manchester' version of This Charming Man, some early Stone Roses recordings, The High's Somewhere Soon album, Indian Rope and some of Some Friendly by The Charlatans, Durutti Column's 1984 Without Mercy, my friend Darren's band Rig, and the legendary 1980 sessions where A Certain Ratio and Grace Jones almost recorded a version of Talking Heads' House In Motion. Parts of ACR's 1990 album acr:mcr was recorded and mixed at Strawberry. I could go on. It's no longer a recording studio but the sign has been put back up, a momento of an ordinary red brick building in unfashionable Stockport that changed the way things were done. 

A Certain Ratio are gearing up for a new album out at the end of March this year called 1982. In November last year they released a second single ahead of it, the Tony Allen sampling Afro Dizzy with a dazzling vocal from new singer Ellen Beth Abdi. Afro Dizzy doesn't sound like a group who have become remotely dulled by being in existence since 1979. If anything they sound more alive, more energised and better than ever

Monday 23 January 2023

Monday's Long Songs

This popped up out of nowhere at the weekend, an early 90s rock/ dance/ power ballad sung by Maria McKee and written/ recorded in collaboration with and produced by Youth. Someone somewhere said it's like the rock version of Sunshine On A Rainy Day which is quite apposite- Youth co- wrote and produced that record too, except Zoe took Sunshine On A Rainy Day to the top ten while Sweetest Child got stuck at number forty five.  

Sweetest Child (Extended Mix)

The bass and drums chug along in an early 90s way and Maria sings her heart out, a big sounding, soaring love song. The much missed Throb from Primal Scream plays guitar and lets rip with a huge solo. Saul Davies from James contributes violin and Nick Burton, formerly of Westworld and future Two Lone Swordsman, plays drums. The extended mix is nearly eight minutes long, a nicely drawn out affair with the last few minutes a Throb guitarfest. 

As a compare and contrast/ enjoy them both together bonus, here's 90s flower child Zoe and her 1991 single, a genuine pop- dance classic.

Sunshine On A Rainy Day Extended 12" Mix

Sunday 22 January 2023

Half An Hour Of David Crosby

David Crosby died on Thursday aged eighty one. Given the sometimes chaotic nature of his life it could be seen as a miracle he made it to eighty one. That he did so still railing against the world, former bandmates, Donald Trump, slights and injustices, seems all the more admirable- he never gave into old age or mellowed, he carried on being the same wilful and difficult man he was when The Byrds fired him back in 1967 for being wilful and difficult. His talent as a songwriter, singer, player and arranger of harmonies meant that he was usually worth listening to although I'll happily admit there are sections of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young back catalogue I've avoided and will probably continue to. But when he was good, he was so very good. 

I started listening to The Byrds as a late teenager, aged eighteen in 1988. The Byrds were in the air (lol) back then, their Rickenbacker jangle, fringes, beads and sunglasses and acid/ folk rock chiming with the guitar bands of the day, the Creation bands and The Stone Roses. I started with a cassette, a compilation with all their songs in a random order and then picked up Fifth Dimension and Younger Than Yesterday on vinyl second hand. Crosby's songs were rarely the most obvious, rarely the ones with the shimmering twelve string chords and the perfect 60s verse/ chorus structure. His songs were sometimes in odd tunings or had strange time signatures, dreamlike songs, trippy and hallucinatory. 

In photos he often looked like The Byrd out of step, the round face contrasting with the other four's chiselled cheekbones and perfect hair, the only wearing a cape when the others were all in Levi's jackets or three button suit jackets.  His parents had tried to get some discipline into him as a young teenager when he was developing a strong anti- authoritarian streak and this seems to have followed him his whole life, a man who followed his own course, often to the detriment of his health and friendships. His 1971 solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, was made with an all star backing cast (Neil Young, Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, some of Jefferson Airplane, Santana, the Grateful Dead) and by rights should be a  disaster but is one of those albums that exists on its own terms and in its own world a nine- song, beautifully weird, psychedelic folk masterpiece. 

David Crosby, one of a kind. R.I.P.

Half An Hour Of David Crosby

  • Everybody's Been Burned
  • I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better
  • Long Time Gone
  • Music Is Love
  • Wild Mountain Thyme
  • Ohio
  • Orleans
  • Guinnevere
  • Wooden Ships
  • Tamalpais High (At About 3)
Everybody's Been Burned is from The Byrds 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday, a slow burning, mysterious, jazz influenced written a couple of years before he joined the band. The opening lines were borrowed by Tim Burgess for The Charlatan's 1990 single The Only One I Know, The Byrds very much in the ether at the time. I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better is from1965, the B-side to their second single All I Really Want To Do (a Dylan cover) and was written by Gene Clark. It's the best 60s Rickenbacker, guitar jangle pop song bar none. Wild Mountain Thyme was on 1966's Fifth Dimension, one of the folk standards they played. 

Long Time Gone, Wooden Ships and Guinnevere are all from the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album in 1969, all Crosby songs. Guinnevere was about three women in Crosby's life, one unnamed, one Joni Mitchell and the third his girlfriend Christine Hinton who was killed in a car crash in 1969. Crosby identified her body, after which according to Nash, Crosby was never the same. Wooden Ships imagines the survivors of a nuclear apocalypse meeting and asking 'who won?'

Music Is Love, Orleans and Tamalpais High (At About 3) are all from If I Could Only Remember My Name. Orleans is a reworking of a traditional French song from the 15th century sung in round. Tamalpais is a mountain in California, mentioned by Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder in their works. 

Ohio was a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young single written by Neil Young following the Kent State University shootings in May 1970 where four students were killed by the US National Guard at an anti- Vietnam War protest. Crosby's backing vocals stand out as he cries out 'Four!' and 'How many more?' as the song fades out. According to Young, Crosby was in tears after recording them. 'Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming/ We're finally on our own', is as good an opening line as any protest song has. 

Saturday 21 January 2023

Saturday Live

Last November Nick Cave and Warren Ellis played two nights at Hanging Rock, Victoria, Australia along with Larry Mullins on drums, Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood and a three glittering robed singers- Wendi Rose, Janet Remus and T Jae Cole. The sets were filmed and have recently been aired as a forty five minute documentary, the songs interspersed with interviews with members of the audience. The setlist draws on Nick's two most recent albums, Ghosteen and Carnage, both made with Warren Ellis who has become his songwriting partner of choice, a man seemingly never happier than when rocking back and forth on a chair and banging away at a synth on his knees, plus some old favourites. I bought Carnage last January and it hit me hard, the apocalyptic drama and personal anxiety of some of the songs, Hand Of God and White Elephant especially, sometimes leaving me breathless. It feels like an album that was spontaneous and emotional, made a step down the road from Ghosteen- an album that was infused with the loss of Nick's son Arthur, who died in 2015. Warren Ellis' role as co- songwriter and musical foil plays a huge part in the sound, feel and the tone of the albums, a less linear and traditional sound than The Bad Seeds. 

At Hanging Rock the gig opens with White Elephant, Nick centre stage in three-piece suit, rolling with the music the band kick up behind him and the sensational backing vocals. White Elephant switches from George Floyd to a Botticelli Venus with a penis to an ice sculpture 'raining gas and salt upon your heads'. Live at Hanging Rock it is even more explosive than on record, the clanging percussion and clamorous synths forming a huge backdrop to Nick's intense delivery. 'The time is coming/ the time is nigh', the four singers proclaim, 'for the kingdom/ in the sky'. 

White Elephant

Later on, seventeen minutes in to the film above, they play Hand Of God Carnage's opening song. The synth strings sweep left to right, up and down, the tympani thump and Nick goes to the river to be cleansed, the river where the current rushes by- and when the three backing singers and Warren come in with the enormous, fever pitch chant of 'Hand of God/ Hand of God/ Hand of God/ Hand of God', it's genuinely thrilling. 

They play Breathless (from 2004), murder ballad Henry Lee, The Weeping Song from way back in 1990 (when Blixa, Mick Harvey and Kid Congo Powers were The Bad Seeds) and long time fan favourite Into My Arms from 1997's The Boatman's Call, a love song written while in rehab. It's not all deadly serious by any means; at one point mid- song Nick moves to the piano to hammer some chords out while everyone else continues with the song, and breaks up laughing at his playing. The film finishes with Ghosteen Speaks, a song that is infused with Arthur's loss and presence- 'I am beside you/ Look for me'- as the sun sets over Hanging Rock, a song born of horror and grief and filled with love and life. If there isn't a message in there somewhere for us (and for me) then... well, I don't know what.

Friday 20 January 2023

Arctic Sunrise And More

I could go on posting Underworld tracks and remixes but thought I better change course, variety being the spice of life and all that. I may return to Underworld next week maybe- I can feel a series coming on. Today I offer some new tracks for Friday, the third Friday already in January, a month that is still less than three weeks old but feels like it's been around for much longer.  

This came out ten days ago (although Bandcamp has the release date as 3rd February) and is one of 2023's best new tracks to date- Arctic Sunrise by Joe Morris. Given the blast of cold, cold arctic air we've had coming our way this week and the considerable amount of snow dropped and then frozen over between Tuesday night and Thursday, it's very appropriately titled too. Joe is a Leeds based DJ and producer whose 2021 album Exotic Language was a treasure trove with everything from Chicago house to to ambient, dub and Balearic. On Arctic Sunrise Joe's pulled everything that hit the spot on that album into one eight and a half minute place. It drifts in slowly, shimmering synths and washes of cold, dawn light. After a minute chunky drums kick in, throbbing synths, rattling hi- hats, an acid bassline and some lovely synth pow pows. It all freezes over briefly at five minutes and then a jumpy sequencer line runs in and it all builds back up again into some quite intense acid house action. I love it and think you will too. 

Two years ago Joe did a mix for Brighton's Higher Love label, run by Balearic Ultras, an hour long mix taking in tracks by several people who have been featured at Bagging Area before- Dan Wainwright, Duncan Grey, Original Disco Thing- and plenty who haven't. Ideal fayre for Friday- listen here

In a similar vein is this, brand new from Blavatsky and Tolley and Rude Audio, the latter outfit remixing the former pair (whose remix of BTCOP's Just A Disco I posted last year and is still rewarding getting lots of air time round here). The contrast between the deep voice intoning 'just a fuckin' disco', Weatherall in interview transformed, and the finger picked acoustic guitar part that pops up in the second half is beautiful. 

Dance Floor Killer is, like Arctic Sunrise, aptly named and Rude Audio's remix adds to the fun, firing bleeps and lasers from left to right while the chuggy dub techno thumps on. It's on Soundcloud and at Bandcamp

Thursday 19 January 2023

Black Sky

I've fallen deep into an Underworld wormhole this week. Apologies to anyone coming here for variety but I'm sticking with Underworld today but in remix rather than original form. In 1992 they remixed Shakespear's Sister not once but twice. The remixes appeared on two different CD singles (Hello and Goodbye Cruel World) and on vinyl (two 12" promos, both  currently expensive second hand). 

Black Sky (Dub Extravaganza Pt. 1) is relatively short by Underworld remix standards, clocking in at under six minutes and keeps some of the song (although clearly aimed at clubs), Marcella Detroit's vocal largely intact, with disco synth strings stabs to the fore. The rhythm's chunky and gets chunkier, and the last couple of minutes go pretty wonky. 

Black Sky (Dub Extravanga Pt. 1)

Dub Extravanga Pt. 2 is where the real action is, Darren Emerson's thumping drums kicking in and building for several minutes, gradually bringing in other elements- rising synths, a heavy clang, a squeak, whooshing noises, eventually a fragment of vocal- before hitting a juddering breakdown at five and a half minutes, and then rebuilding as we head over the ten minute mark. Darren and Rick Smith were all over this kind of thing back in the early/ mid 90s, their remixes purpose built for nights in clubs were six minute intros and ten minute long dark, tranced out, progressive house/ techno was exactly what the doctor ordered as the smoke belched and the strobe flickered. 

Black Sky (Dub Extravanga Pt. 2)

Wednesday 18 January 2023


Back to Monday's postees Underworld. Mmm... Skyscraper I Love You is a standout track on dubnobasswithmyheadman, the second track in riding in on thumping tom toms, the sounds pulling you in as if descending from the clouds and then Karl takes the vocal reins with his found fragments of conversation, 'thirty thousand feet above the earth/ It's a beautiful thing'. The track goes on, rolling and tumbling, thirteen minutes of progressive dance music with stream of consciousness poetry, Elvis, porn dogs sniffing the wind, Jesus, Chris on crutches, whipped cream and God on the phone. Epic is a word often used with Underworld and it is entirely appropriate- but there's a darkness coupled with a beautiful melodicism in their epic sound constructions, all welded to the dancefloor by Darren Emerson's rhythms. 

The 12" of Mmm... Skyscraper I Love You came with two different versions. Jam Scraper has fewer vocals, and is more acid house, with a bleepy intro, long synth chords, and some of Karl's guitar lines further forward. One of those Underworld tracks where everything happens slowly but at pace. It was originally intended to be the one on dubnobasswithmyheadman and it's clear to see why they reverted to the original version, it's more song oriented, more of an album track, but Jam Scraper is a fine version, a flight in of its own right and a track to lose yourself in. 

Mmm... Skyscraper I Love You (Jam Scraper)

The enigmatic song title it turns out was staring us in the face for years. A while back a friend pointed it out to me. In 1981 Pennie Smith published a book of photographs she took while on tour with The Clash, The Clash: Before And After. It is the stuff rock 'n' roll dreams are made of. And on the wall in the photo of Mick Jones below, bequiffed and smoking while tuning his Les Paul, is some graffiti... 

Tuesday 17 January 2023

Feasting With Panthers

Last year I ran a short series of weekly posts where regular reader Spencer sent me a song and I wrote about it. It went really well, all the songs/ tracks were right up my street but none had been posted here before. They were in the main long, intense, gnarly, electronic dance music- Model 500's ground-breaking Detroit techno, a DFA remix of Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion, I-f's 90s electro classic Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass, La Funk Mob's supercharged Gallic breakbeat, Factory Floor's 21st century acid house. 

Spencer sent me this a couple of weeks ago, a song in a very different vein to the ones he sent me in the autumn and one completely new to me. This is The Moon's Lament by Cindy D'lequez Sage. I can't find an mp3 of the song so it's Youtube only I'm afraid. 

Lots of reverb, a guitar strummed faintly and the husky, somewhat opiated sounding voice of Cindy, expressing some dissatisfaction and setting out what she wants- 'feasting with panthers is alright for some/ But me I'm a planet and I still need some fun'. A wolf howls. A guitar solo rips its way in, valve amp pushed to the max. 'All my friends are mirrors and all my mirrors my friends/ In the olive grove so fair, failed eyes I whisper/ I don't want your food, I don't want your cups/ I just want some love'. Spooked and more than  a little haunting, there's a touch of Nico about the voice and the delivery, of The Bad Seeds about the tone and the music, and of Spacemen 3's bluesier moments. 

The song plays over the closing scene/ credits of a 2009 Peter Jackson film, The Lovely Bones (Spencer's seen it, I haven't yet), a murder/ supernatural thriller/ horror starring Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci. Both Ronan and Tucci were praised for their performances and I don't think I've ever seen a bad film with Saoirse Ronan in it.  

The film appears to have divided critics somewhat. Rotten Tomatoes says, "It's stuffed full of Peter Jackson's typically dazzling imagery, but The Lovely Bones suffers from abrupt shifts between horrific violence and cloying sentimentality". It was scored by Brian Eno. The soundtrack includes songs from Eno's own back catalogue, mainly the 70s including The Great Pretender, Baby's On Fire and The Big Ship, along with songs by Paul McCartney, Cocteau Twins, Van Morrison and Tim Buckley. 

There is very little on the internet about Cindy which is in itself odd- virtually no information, background or biography. She doesn't seem to have recorded anything else and the song isn't on the CD release or the soundtrack to download. Wikipedia says this about the film's closing credits- 'For the film's ending, Eno uncovered a demo he had done in 1973 and reunited with the vocalist to create a proper version for the film, commenting: "That song from 1973 was finally finished in 2008!" I'm assuming this is a reference to The Moon's Lament. Some Youtube commenters reckon that the song is Brian Eno with his voice pitch shifted. A couple think it's Van Morrison. Some chip in to say Cindy is real, is the songwriter and the singer. One commenter says that Cindy is real and is her mum. Another that Cindy died 'last year' (comment left a year ago, in 2022). I'm not sure Youtube comments are necessarily evidence that would stand up in court so the identity of Cindy remains unclear. It's all a bit of a mystery. If anyone knows, please write in to the usual address. 

Monday 16 January 2023

Monday's Long Song

I'm a big fan of Underworld. Their 1993 third album dubnobasswithmyheadman... was on the stereo constantly during that year and rarely been less than interesting or great ever since. They changed following the departure of Darren Emerson in 2001 and occasionally dipped off my radar but 2016's Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future album and then especially the year long Drift project, a track a week for a year during 2018- 2019, brought me back on board. The Drift Series 1 Sampler Edition album is as good an Underworld album as any they've released since their 90s heyday of dubnobass, Second Toughest In The Infants and Beaucoup Fish. Their remixes are a story in themselves, thundering, ten minute techno/ dance reworks of Bjork, One Dove, Shakespeare's Sister, Saint Etienne, Orbital, William Orbit, Spooky, Dreadzone and Massive Attack. 

In 2000 they had a track on the soundtrack to the Leonardo di Caprio film The Beach, a film based on Alex Garland's novel about trouble in paradise. Alongside an All Saints/ William Orbit classic, a new one from the then recently reformed New Order (the song, Brutal, is nothing much to get excited about if truth be told), a Leftfield track that led to an expensive lawsuit over an OMD sample and an original score by Angelo Badalamenti (who sadly died last year). Underworld's 8 Ball is a minor classic, one of the last Underworld songs to be written and recorded with Darren Emerson still part of the group. It's a step away from the banging techno of Born Slippy NUXX that brought them international fame on the soundtrack of Trainspotting. 

8 Ball has some chilled out guitar, a niggling Geiger counter rhythm, a warm bassline and Karl Hyde singing about people he's seen on the street- a man using a whiskey flask as a walkie talkie, a man with a flaming 8 ball tattoo. Karl's guitar solo at just under five minutes is a moment of gorgeousness. The rhythm comes back in, there's some piano, and then a man throws his arms around him and they laugh, happy while waiting for a train into the city.

8 Ball

This live version was made available through the Underworld website at the start of the year, from a gig at Tokyo Garden Theatre. 

8 Ball (Live in Tokyo)

Sunday 15 January 2023

Half An Hour Of The Limiñanas

The Limiñanas are Lionel and Marie Limiñana, a duo from Cabestany in the south of France, who play psyche/ garage/ pop dressed in black jeans and boots, with fuzz guitar, Mo Tucker style drums and tambourine and slightly stoned, Gauloise vocals. Over the course of nine albums and umpteen singles/ EPs they've steered their own course pulling in like minded souls along the way. Their music always feels like summer to me, the hot and sticky days of July and August, the air smelling of beer and cigarette smoke, sunglasses, tinny car stereos and the clink of beer bottles- so there's no better time to listen to thirty minutes of their music than in mid- January. C'est la vie. 

Half An Hour Of The Limiñanas 

  • Garden Of Love
  • The Gift (Anton Mix)
  • The Ballad Of Linda L.
  • Variation Sur 3 Bancs
  • Devils Angels (Limiñanas Remix)
  • Dimanche (Laurent Garnier Remix)
  • Garden Of Love (Lundi Mouillé Mix)
  • Liverpool (album version)

Garden Of Love was a 2016 single, a lovely piece of 21st century garage pop, Marie's vocal to the fore along with Peter Hook's mournful, elegiac bass playing that makes me feel weirdly homesick, even when I'm at home. Garden Of Love was remixed by Andrew Weatherall twice and released on clear 12" vinyl. Both mixes are great, the one here, Lundi Mouille (Wet Monday) is the slower, more downtempo one.  

Hooky turned up on The Gift in 2018 too, a single and song from their 2018 album Shadow People, their fifth album, ten songs where they really hit their stride and refined their sound. Anton Newcombe was on hand for a lot of the album and provided the mix for this version of The Gift. They formed a  one- off group with Anton and actress/ singer Emmanuelle Seigner and released an excellent album in 2019 that I've remembered about while typing this. I should have included one of their songs on this but it's too late now. 

The Ballad Of Linda L. is from a soundtrack to a documentary from last year about the life of Linda Lovelace, written and recorded with David Menke.

Variation Sur 3 Bancs was a collaboration with Golden Bug. A vinyl/ digital EP came out in 2021 with remixes by Pilooski, Superpitcher and Destino, French electronic/ Balearic catnip. 

Devils Angels is by Unloved, from their second album Heartbreak (2019) There was a remix EP with remixes by various folk including Weatherall, Jane Weaver and here, obvs, The Limiñanas.

Dimanche is also from Shadow People with singer, songwriter and author Bertrand Belin on vocals. It was remixed by French DJ and Hacienda veteran Laurent Garnier. The Limiñanas and Laurent released an album together in 2021, De Pelicula, a psyche French road trip/ noir which is highly recommended (even though I neglected to put anything from it on this mix).

Liverpool is from the band's 2013 album Costa Blanca with vocals from Mu (Muriel Margail)

Saturday 14 January 2023

Saturday Live

I thought this might be a good idea for a Saturday series, so I'll kick it off today and see how far it runs before I/ we all get bored of it. A month ago I posted a song by Verve, the early pre- The, Verve, four skinny wastrels from Winstanley college, Wigan who formed to playa  friend's house party and quickly became psychedelic adventures, built around a pummelling rhythm section, a rake thin, long haired, wide eyed, charismatic frontman and the skyscraping, shoegaze x Hendrix guitar playing of Nick McCabe. I posted the song Gravity Grave, an eight minute northern epic and a link to Jesse Fahnestock's 10:40s edit of the early B- side One Way To Go. In the comments Jesse recommended that for the full early Verve experience we should watch the fifty minute film of their gig at Camden Town Hall in October 1992 (actually it was 23rd October 1992, for those of you who are twenty three fans). 

It's professionally filmed, presumably for a regional music programme, nine songs long, starting with Slide Away and ending with Gravity Grave. The first few minutes alone are worth the price of entry, McCabe's silvery, distorted guitar lines cutting through the darkness and blue light. Ashcroft sings in that wasted, psychonaut way he had when they started, swimming like a mermaid when the band are playing the instrumental breaks (they're not really breaks, they're integral to the songs). The group ebb and flow, a slow burning energy, totally controlled but loose as you like, and then there's an explosion of guitar at five minute forty that could skin a cat. 

All In The Mind, their first single, follows, a song about getting in a car with an older woman who tells him, 'You were born to fly my son/ I say 'hey I already know'/ Because it's all inside'. Around Richard's words McCabe blows up buildings and sucks planets into black holes. To jump to the end, Verve are joined by a white shirted flautist and some stage divers. The flautist is as cool dancing, her hair flying around, as she is adding some atonal flute to Gravity Grave's sonics. Richard bounces, arms outstretched. Nick plays guitar like the Silver Surfer might sound, arriving ahead of Galactus in a blur of noise, feedback and chaos. I'm not sure they ever quite captured this on record but bless 'em, they tried. 

Friday 13 January 2023


This came out last summer and I missed it or foolishly ignored it, only catching up with it last week after it appeared at some of the end of year round ups/ lists. This is Pacific 707, 808 State's Second Summer Of Love classic reimagined by Japanese artist Cruisic as slowed down, cosmic jazz/ space age walk on music. The bird chirpings are there, the sax blows and when the beat comes in at just before the minute mark it all comes together very nicely. The note bending and Balearic swell builds and builds before a breakdown, rebuild and then fade. It might not change your life but it's a good way to start Friday. 

If you're so inclined there's a swing jazz version too, both to be found at Bandcamp. There was a 7" single but it has long since sold out and the ones at Discogs are currently starting at £58.99. 

When 808 State released Pacific back in 1989 it was already on its way to becoming the Manchester anthem of the year, having been played on 808 State's radio shows and at the Hacienda for months before it was available in the shops for ordinary people to buy. The first official release was on ZTT, a single version titled Pacific 707. It became Pacific State on the EP Quadrastate and Pacific 202 on the album Ninety. This is the version from Ninety, their still superb sounding 1989 album. 202 kicks in quickly, the acid bassline squiggles and drums bouncing along as Graham Massey's topline sax floats on, meandering in and out. 

This cover version by Jeremy Deller and the Williams Fairey Brass Band came out in 1997. Deller saw acid house and brass bands as both being 'authentic forms of folk art'. It works well enough, the Stockport brass band giving Pacific 202 a nostalgic northern glow.  

Thursday 12 January 2023

Wholly Humble Heart

Yesterday's Boy's Own post had a reference to Martin Stephenson in it, an interview with him in the first issue of the Boy's Own fanzine. On checking my back pages I saw that in the thirteen years I've been writing this blog I've never posted anything by Martin Stephenson and The Daintees and there's no better time than today to put that right. 

Martin Stephenson was a regular fixture in the music press and gig guides in late 80s. His 1986 Boat To Bolivia and the follow up Gladsome, Humour & Blue both got good reviews and the band were on the road often- their mixture of punky folk, rootsy- indie, pop and rockabilly went down well in that period. The albums came out on Kitchenware, home to many north- east acts (Martin is from Durham) and the group continued through to 1992 when falling sales led to them being dropped and the group splitting. They reformed in 2000 and have toured periodically ever since. I saw them in autumn 1988, one of the first bands I saw when I pitched up at Liverpool university as a young eighteen year old. Martin was an entertainer, a raconteur, telling stories and jokes from the stage in between songs, his hat pushed back on his head. It was a really good gig. I had Gladsome, Humour & Blue, the single Wholly Humble Heart on 12" and someone had a taped Boat To Bolivia for me. I didn't stick with them for long- my head was soon turned by other more contemporary bands, nightclubs and the zeitgeist but I've always held a soft spot for the first two albums. 

Wholly Humble Heart is a lovely song, slightly dated by some very late 80s production. Martin wrote it as a protest against Clause 28, the homophobic legislation the Thatcher government were pushing through in  1988. The single had a video made for it and got some wider media coverage- they appeared on TV to promote it (as seen here on Channel 4's late night music show Wired) and the album reached the top forty. 

Wholly Humble Heart

Boat To Bolivia, the Daintees debut (produced by Gil Norton), came out in 1986. The title track was added to a Kitchenware re- release a year later. Martin's skills are evident throughout the albums, a talented songwriter and singer. Fame and fortune were not to be. Revisiting him recently I definitely feel like the next time he plays anywhere near here I should go. 

Boat To Bolivia

Wednesday 11 January 2023


Halfway up the towpath between Sale and Timperley (a nice stroll with the promise of a cup of tea and a sausage sandwich at the cafe at Timperley tram station before returning home) there is a post with a Boy's Own sticker on it (pictured). It's a bit mystifying. Boy's Own was very much a London thing and the sticker must be quite recent given it's not faded at all. It was pleasing to see it though, a little piece of 80s/ 90s culture stuck to a post by the Bridgewater Canal. 

Boy's Own was the collective formed by Andrew Weatherall, Terry Farley, Cymon Eckel and Steve Meyes, bored out in the west of London (Slough, Windsor) in the mid- to- late- 80s but with ideas, enthusiasm, records and an interest in clothes, music, clubs and culture. They started a fanzine, semi- inspired by Liverpool fanzine The End (which was produced by The Farm's Peter Hooton). A mate with a printer ran off 500 copies which they sold at the football (Farley was mainly the football fan, a regular at Chelsea), outside pubs and clubs and in a few shops. Their connections and sense of humour and style ensured the first edition sold out and would go on to produce more issues, covering whatever ticlled their interest. Issue one had an interview with Martin Stephenson (of The Daintees), Weatherall's account of a weekend in Manchester at the Festival Of The Tenth Summer, a review of a Trouble Funk gig and a column titled Uppers and Downers, a list of what's in and what's not. It ran for twelve editions through to spring 1992 when Weatherall called time on it and the others agreed with him.

Boy's Own went on to DJ, to put on club nights and events, set up a record label and briefly became a band/ group/ collective called Bocca Juniors- Weatherall and Farley with Pete Heller, Weatherall's regular right hand production man Hugo Nicolson and singer Anna Haigh. Their debut single released in summer 1990, was a tremendous slice of Balearic house called Raise. It was the first release on Boy's Own Productions record label, catalogue number BOIX1, the logical progression of some young men using Letraset, a typewriter and some photocopied pictures to make a fanzine to sell to a few like minded souls. It is a great record too, a summer of 1990 classic. 

Raise (63 Steps To Heaven) Redskin Rock Mix

The intro, some piano notes, the screech of tyres and a sample saying, 'boy! Am I gonna wake you up', gives way to a huge piano riff, the sort that can silence a field of people and turn an entire dancefloor into a seething mass of arms in the air. The crunching beats kick in and Anna starts singing, 'It's often said, that I want never gets...' as horns parp away behind her. The lyrics, written by Weatherall, quote Aleister Crowley- 'do what you will shall be the whole of the law/ raise your view of heaven keeping both feet on the floor'- and the chorus is about generally not putting up with second best- 'raise your hand if you think you understand/ raise your standards if you don't'. Early 90s positivity but with a very Weatherall edge. 

The piano riff has been the subject of some debate. Largely thought to be a sample from Jesus On The Payroll by Thrashing Doves, a while ago Sean Johnston suggested it was actually taken from this 1989 Italo 12" by The Night- S- Press (although it could be the Thrashing Doves piano riff sampled or re- played I guess- either way, I see no reason to doubt Sean). 

Bocca Juniors were named after the Argentine football club, the home of Diego Maradona. In the summer of Italia 90, No Alla Violenza and World In Motion this was all quite right. The Raise video is a blast too, a sea of faces having fun and the famous 'Drop acid not bombs' graffiti- a proper time capsule. 

Across the various formats there were a number of different mixes of Raise. The Piano Hoe Down is a stripped back, largely instrumental version, the riff, bassline and those 1990s drums with extended piano vamping and background voices, very nicely stretched out for maximum dancefloor fun. 

There was a second 12" with some Tackhead remixes, Adrian Sherwood's outfit with Keith Leblanc, Skip McDonald and Doug Wimbish. The Dubhead remix pulls an extended version of Protege''s rap to the fore. There are two other mixes- the Heavenly Rap and the Philly House Skank- as well as another Tackhead one but I don't have any of those on the hard drive at the moment. These three should be more than enough to be going on with. 

Tuesday 10 January 2023


Duncan Gray's never ending supply of high quality chug continues into 2023 with the release of Boatface on Tici Taci. Gorgeous, slip sliding, 100 BPM chug with some tension inside that sinuous groove.  

There are two tasty remixes. The Long Champs remix is an insistent, slinky, robotic thumper, likely to wear the carpet out in the corners at house parties. Dark repetitive fun. 

The Bedford Falls Players remix, the longest of the three at seven minutes twelve seconds, is a peach. What starts out as a long drawn out intro teases for ages, all the way through, the acid squiggle borrowed from certain New York three piece rap groups while vocal samples talking about flying objects coming from the stars pop up.

Edit: vocal sample is Buzz Aldrin, being interviewed about being on the moon. 

Monday 9 January 2023

Monday's Long Songs

This bootleg re- orbited into my musical world last week, a 2021 cut- and- shut of Malcolm McLaren's Madame Butterfly and The Grid's Floatation by pflext, the two songs working together perfectly, Malcolm's 1984 marriage of opera and 80s r'n'b and hip hop spliced with Richard Norris and Dave Ball's 1990 Balearic/ ambient house classic, remixed by a then fledgling remixer Andrew Weatherall. Richard did point out in 2021 that the bootlegger pflext missed a trick by not calling it Floats Like A Butterfly. Listen here, eight and a half minutes of bliss. Pflext is Paul Flex Taylor currently based in Sydney, Australia. 

Here's the original of Madame Butterfly from '84, McLaren, Stephen Hague, Debbie Cole and Betty Ann White taking on Puccini and winning. The album Fans was six tracks long and included pieces from Carmen and Turandot over hip hop drums but madame Butterfly was the only one where he really nailed it.

Madame Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo)

The McLaren/ Grid mash up led me to Paris in 1994, where Malcolm McLaren was still looking for the next big fusion, making an album celebrating the city in the form of atmospheric future jazz and synth pop with vocals from Catherine Deneuve. A second disc of remixes brought this seventeen minute ambient classic from Youth titled The Emotional Curvatone At A Given Moment In Time And Space Listen at Soundcloud or Youtube. It really is something special with Deneuve's softly spoken vocals, waves of rippling synths and endless flow. I posted it before in 2019, a year which is both fairly recent but also feels like many, many years ago. 

Sunday 8 January 2023

An Hour Of Björk

A month ago Khayem did a fairly definitive recreation of a Björk mixtape centred around her 1993 solo debut Debut. I'd been planning on doing a Björk Sunday mix here for some time and almost shelved the idea but a few days ago decided to go ahead. Debut and its surrounding singles and remixes are massively important songs and records for me, so resonant of a time in my life where it seems looking back like it was perpetual weekend. In Big Time Sensuality she sings, 'I don't know my future after this weekend/ And I don't want to', a line summing up how life felt. Almost everywhere we went Björk's songs were being played, stitched into the fabric of mid- 90s nightlife. When my then flatmate brought Debut home we played it constantly, the album seeping into our every day life. If I had to draw up a list of the albums which mean the most to me, Debut would be on it. It's hugely innovative too, Björk and producer Nellee Hooper inspired by the previous few years changes and freedoms, the sounds and rhythms, creating something self contained, optimistic, joyous and life affirming, a record in love with itself and with endless possibility. 

I've expanded the mix below beyond Debut but there's nothing post- 1997, it's all 20th century Björk. Her output from the 21st century can be obtuse and bewildering at times (and incredible at others), and it needs a mix of its own. My Sunday mixes have tended to be between thirty and forty five minutes long, the ideal length for a trip out (or one side of a tape, subconsciously maybe). Once I started this one it just kept getting longer and having reached the forty minute mark I couldn't leave off Underworld's marathon remix of Human Behaviour so what we have here is an hour of Björk Guðmundsdóttir, her unique vision and singing accompanied by a cast of like minded collaborators- the production of Nellee Hooper is an essential part of Debut and Graham Massey of 808 State played a pivotal role in her solo adventures beyond the Sugarcubes as the 80s became the 90s. Listening back to this last night I was struck by how good everything here still sounds, from the giddy skipping pop- acid house of Big Time Sensuality to the dislocating oddness of The Black Dog's version of The Anchor Song. She's brilliant and we're lucky to have her.  

An Hour Of  Björk

  • One Day (Sabres of Paradise Endorphin Mix)
  • Ooops
  • Big Time Sensuality (Fluke Minimix)
  • Violently Happy (Fluke Well Tempered Mix)
  • There's More To Life Than This (Recorded Live In The Milk Bar Toilets)
  • Hyperballad
  • Venus As A Boy (7" Dream Mix)
  • Army Of Me
  • The Anchor Song (The Black Dog Mix)
  • QMart
  • Human Behaviour (Underworld Remix 110BPM)
  • You've Been Flirting Again (Icelandic Version)

One Day was remixed not once but three times by Andrew Weatherall's Sabres Of Paradise. All three are superb, increasing in length, intensity and tempo. There was a 10" single with two of the remixes, the Endorphin Mix and the Springs Eternal Mix titled Björk Cut By Sabres, and then a six track compilation in 1994 called The Best Mixes From The Debut Album For People Who Don't Buy White Labels which rounded up all three Sabres remixes, the twelve minute Underworld monster and the two Black Dog remixes. I included The Black Dog's remix of The Anchor Song here too although it could easily have been the one of Come To Me. Such is the embarrassment of riches of Björk all six remixes could have/ should have been included here.

In 1991 808 State released ex:el, one of the period's  best dance albums although it tends to get a bit overlooked now. Björk's co- wrote and sang on two songs, the magnificent, slow burning sex- techno of Ooops and QMart. This sparked a long running song- writing partnership with 808's Graham Massey. Björk had loved 808 State's 1989 album 90 and phoned them up out of the blue looking for some help with drum programming. She flew to Manchester the next day. The 808 State boys showed Björk round the sights and clubs of Manchester and wrote and recorded at various studios in the area. 

Big Time Sensuality is off Debut, a song about being in love with going out and dancing, the sheer giddiness and delight evident in her vocal. The video, filmed in black and white on the back of a flatbed truck with Björk in a long silver dress is so of the time too. This song as much as any reminds me of 1993/4- it was played constantly in the flat I lived in, the remixes played in every club around town and me and Lou pretty much met on the dancefloor while it was being spun at Paradise Factory in Manchester. The Fluke Minimix is the version for me but there are some other remixes that hit the spot too, not least Justin Robertson's (not included here). Fluke also remixed Violently Happy (two versions) another single from Debut. 

Two more songs from Debut are on the mix- There's More To Life Than This is an astonishing song from an album full of them, full of manic Björk energy, and the jaw dropping moment she records the sound of the Milk Bar, running from the dance floor to the toilets, closing the door and then coming out again. I also love the way she sings 'ghetto blaster'. Venus As A Boy, the second single from Debut, is absurdly good, marrying post- club ambient sounds with tabla. The version here is the 7" Dream Mix, a mix by Mick Hucknall and Gota Yashiki. This marks the only appearance of the Simply Red singer at this blog. 

Hyperballad is from her second solo album Post, released in 1995, an exhilarating fusion of folk, acid house and synth pop. Hyperballad swoops in and out, as if the song is dropping from a height and shooting then back up again, head spinning production and vision. Post has several such moments- Possibly Maybe should possibly, maybe, also have been included on this mix.

Army Of Me came out in 1995, the lead single from Post. It's her most streamed song on Spotify which suggests its her most popular song. Björk and Graham Massey wrote Army Of Me in a terraced house in Gatley that belonged to a mate of Massey's and had a home studio set up. Gatley's not that far from here, I pass through often on my bike. The idea of Björk popping out from one of the houses to nip to the shop in the mid- 90s in a break from writing is bizarre and amusing. From such humble, suburban beginnings does great music appear- Army Of Me is a force of nature, the bassline alone more a landslide than a musical element and the pulverising industrial drums contain a sample from Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. The final song on this mix, You've Been Flirting Again (Icelandic Version) was on the Army Of Me CD single, the orchestral strings bringing things to a dramatic conclusion. 

Saturday 7 January 2023


Yo La Tengo released a new song last November ahead of an album and a tour this year. Fallout sees Ira, Georgia and James slip right back into the mid- 90s sound of Painful and I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, a slow burning fuzzy thrum over which Ira sings softly, asking for help and looking for escape. The chords change exactly where you want them to, the drums kick along and the fuzzed up bassline pushes onwards.

Fallout sounds like it could morph into a song from their back catalogue at any moment, 1997's Sugarcube most obviously to these ears. Classic Yo La Tengo and authentic New York indie rock. 


They've been in business since 1984 and are about to release their sixteenth album. The previous one was an album of instrumental ambient guitar music recorded around one microphone while following social distancing protocols in 2020. Yo La Tengo have reached a point where they can do what they like and if harking back to their mid 90s sound is where they are, more power to them. The new album, This Stupid World, is out on Matador in February.

Friday 6 January 2023

Naiad/ Dryad

Something else from last year that I missed and have only just caught up with, to go with yesterday's Eyes Of Others 10" single, is this four track release of deep ambient dub from London duo Good Block. There are two tracks on the 12", Naiad and Dryad, each one in two versions. 

Naiad bounces along on a rubbery bassline with harmonica samples and twinkling piano, digital dub par excellence heading into Balearic dub territory. 

Dryad opens up slowly, tribal sounds and percussion, sparser sounding, dub bass and nods to the sounds of African Head Charge. Two minutes in the skanking up the tempo slightly, with vocal samples riding on top, before the long slow groove through to the end. Ideal for a miserable Friday in January.

The 12" is sold out- it came out in July last year and was limited to three hundred copies- but the EP is available digitally at Bandcamp