Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Tuesday 28 February 2023


Mark Peters continues following last year's Red Sunset Dreams album with an EP out at the end of March. This song, Alpenglow, is out already to get you hooked, a trippy, lush guitar scape from the north west of England, Wigan on psychedelics fed through a krautrock FX pedal. It's lovely, melodic, driving instrumental music.

The EP will come with another new one, Magic Hour, written two decades ago using gear borrowed from Nick McCabe but only seeing daylight now. Richard Norris' beautifully Balearic remix of Sundowning (out last year, Dot Allison on vox) and a Dawn Chorus And The Infallible Sea remix of Silver River with BJ Cole on board. You can order it from Bandcamp

Monday 27 February 2023

Monday's Long Song

A couple of Mondays ago I posted Reload's remix of Slowdive from 1993, ambient techno re- versioning shoegaze. This led to some discussion of other ambient techno remixes of shoegaze, two sub- genres that seems completely in tune with each. The common feeling was that one of the highlights of the sub- genre's sub- genre was Future Sound Of London's remix of Curve, also in 1993.

Rising (FSOL Headspace Mix)

This is a nine minute deep space exploration, ambient by way of grungy indie goth rock/ shoegaze. The Future Sound Of London pair, Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain, take their time and eventually bring the drums in to give the ambient backdrop some propulsion. This remix was part of a three CD single set, this one titled Blackerthreetrackertwo. Layers of sound, an ethereal female vocal, lots of early 90s techno sounds but without techno's harder edge. FSOL's remix was built on outtakes from the Cuckoo sessions.

I often feel that FSOL should have featured here more than they should, something I need to rectify. Curve have never been on these pages before, something that is a little odd. I bought their debut EP on release and liked a lot of what they did but never went that deep with them. 

In 1991 Curve released their debut EP, a 12" single called Blindfold. Curve were Dean Garcia (who appeared here on Saturday as part of Sinead O'Connor's touring band) and Toni Halliday. They mixed up a lot of late 80s and early 90s culture into a pummeling shoegaze/ Mary Chain/ alternative/ post- goth dance rock that struck a chord with fans and music press alike. The lead song on the EP was this one, Toni's vocals gliding over the top of a Reverence like rhythm and some crunchy guitars. Rapper JC- 001 contributes co- vocals. 

Ten Little Girls

The EP's title track Blindfold was slower and less frenetic but no less dense, a morass of swirling guitars/ FX, drums and Toni's vox.


Sunday 26 February 2023

Half An Hour Of Lee Scratch Perry

I had the idea of a Lee Scratch Perry mix a long time ago but then baulked- where to start??? In the end I just went with my gut. Part of me then thought, having selected Soul Fire as the starting point, 'how on earth do you follow that?', but when I relaxed into it and just let it flow, it seemed much easier. There's an embarrassment of riches with Lee and I was tempted to include some post- classic roots/ dub 70s material- his song with the Beastie Boys, a Terence Trent D'arby remix or his stuff with The Orb- but decided eventually that was a mix for another Sunday. After finishing this mix I looked back through my folders and files and found hundreds of tracks and songs that could appear on it but by that point I decided to leave it alone. As it is, this is Lee Scratch Perry, The Upsetter, straight out of the Black Ark, for your Sunday morning. 

Half An Hour Of Lee Scratch Perry

  • Soul Fire
  • I Am The Upsetter
  • Roast Fish And Corn Bread
  • People Funny Boy
  • Disco Devil
  • Cloak And Dagger
  • Throw Some Water In
  • Scratch Walking
  • River Stone
Soul Fire, Throw Some Water In and Roast Fish And Corn Bread are all from Lee's 1978 album Roast Fish Collie Bread And Corn Bread, his first solo album to feature his vocals, recorded at his Black Ark studio, Kingston, Jamaica. Soul Fire is absurdly good, so far from home, so rich in sound and so righteous, as Perry sings, Soul fire! And we ain't got now water...'. Lee's unorthodox approach to production and instrumentation is typified nowhere more than the use of a cow mooing in Roast Fish And Corn Bread. Still startling. 

I Am The Upsetter was a single in 1968, recorded with legendary producer Joe Gibbs.

People Funny Boy was a 1969 single, an attack on Gibbs with whom Perry split the previous year. The crying baby, heard as Perry walked past a church was to catch the vibration of the people. People Funny Boy's fast chuggy beat and distinctly Jamaican sound was a game changer on the island, sending the sound systems and producers down an entirely new path. 

Disco Devil is a dubbed out version of the song he produced for Max Romeo in 1976, Chase the Devil, with the famous 'put on me iron shirt' line. 

Cloak And Dagger was recorded with Tommy McCook and The Upsetters in 1973, recorded on his TEAC four track at Black Ark. 

Scratch Walking was recorded with The Upsetters, dating from the Return Of The Super Ape album in 1978 and the last album he recorded with The Upsetters before he shut down Black Ark, is wonky instrumental reggae from another world. 

River Stone is the B-side dub of River, a Perry produced track by the group Zap Pow. In the mid- 90s Pressure Sounds released an album called Voodooism, thirteen Perry productions with their dubs on two sides of vinyl. Blew my mind then and still does now. 

Saturday 25 February 2023

Saturday Live

In 1990 Sinead O'Connor was a superstar- she might not have intended this to happen but Nothing Compares 2 U made it happen. A couple of years later she became public enemy number one in the USA when she tore up a photo of the Pope on live TV. Her childhood and family life had given her plenty of reasons to be a bit out of shape already and global fame added a few more. Her autobiography, Rememberings, is highly recommended- traumatic and tough going in places but well written, funny and tender too. It was written before the awful death of her son Shane last year which adds an extra layer poignancy to parts of it too. I hope she's ok and doing as well as you can do under those circumstances. 

In late October 1990 Sinead played two concerts, one in Brussels and one the night after in Rotterdam. They were filmed and in 1991 a video was released, a merging of the two gigs. Sinead, a tiny figure with a huge presence, shaven head, round framed sunglasses and dressed in black plays a set built around 1990s' I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got and 1987's The Lion And The Cobra with a band featuring ex- Ant Person Marco Pirroni on guitar and Dean Garcia on bass who would go on to find some success with Toni Halliday as Curve. The full gig is below but I thought I'd pull out this performance from mid- set of I Am Stretched On Your Grave for the TL/DR of you- the Public Enemy drum loop, reel to reel tape machine, bubbles of bass and Sinead's voice singing the 17th century words- is a starkly beautiful and perfectly 1990 way to spend five and a half minutes. 

The full hour's worth of gig is here, opening with Feel So Different and then the crunchy guitar pop of The Emperor's New Clothes and then I Want Your (Hands On Me) and Three Babies, the stunning Thatcherism/ racist policing take down of Black Boys On Mopeds, just Sinead and an acoustic guitar, Irish Ways Irish Laws, I Am Stretched On Your Grave, The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance, Nothing Compares 2 U, Jump In The River, Jerusalem and finally for the encore, Troy, the boneshaking, furious story of young love and betrayal from The Lion And The Cobra (a song she didn't perform after 1990 until 2008). 

Friday 24 February 2023

Sound Museum

Last week's offering from Spencer, as part of our collaboration where he sends me a song and I write about it, was The Seven Rays by David Stout, some early 80s proto- electronica. It joined Eden Ahbez's Full Moon, Woo's Make Me Tea and Cindy D'Lequez Sage's The Lovely Bones in the series, a sequence of songs largely linked by voices and words. This week's offering is in the same vein and goes back to 1957 and some spoken word/ modern jazz, the jazz provided by The Fred Katz Group and the whimsical words by Ken Nordine. 

Ken, with his instantly recognisable voice from TV voiceovers and film adverts and trailers, takes us on a meander down an corridor, opening doors to show us sound paintings, the musicians interpreting Ken's descriptions. Children's voices, choirs, noises, found sounds and bursts of noise jump out as Ken maintains a radio announcer/ beat poet/ absurdist cool. Sound Museum may not be a track you turn to daily for your shot of pop music but it's a dreamlike, leftfield and innovative slice of 1957 that will improve a mixtape/ playlist/ compilation CD.

Sound Musuem

The album, Word Jazz, was a hit and followed by a series of follow ups, Ken's narration over cool late 50s jazz hitting the spot with the record buying public as Eisenhower's America turned into Kennedy's. Ken was in demand as a voice artist. In 1978 Ken voiced an advert for Levis, an animation where a stranger arrives in town and brings with him colour, slacks, jeans, flared legs, blue jeans, bells, polyester- 'dull has gone out of style'. 

From the same year, Ken voicing an equally odd advert with miners bringing out new colours, new fabrics, new styles. Ten years later Levi's would be going retro, Marvin Gaye and Nick Kamen in the launderette launching multiple tie ins. Ken's ads are little further out.

Thursday 23 February 2023

Anenome Dreams

Brian Jonestown Massacre played a gig in Manchester last week, part of a UK tour that seems to have gone down very well. It's the umpteenth time I've missed Anton Newcombe, either with BJM or L'épée in recent years. I don't have a huge amount of the BJM back catalogue but what I do have is very good. This song in particular, and I think this is a fairly widely held opinion, is an absolute beauty...


Shimmering, tripped out, wiggy, late 60s style psyche rock of the highest order, an acoustic guitar, a  tambourine for rhythm, a lead guitar playing a weaving, winding acid topline and lyrics, sung in a wonderful drawl about a departure, a kiss off- 'You should be picking me up/ Instead you're dragging me down... Glad that you're not around/ Glad that you're not around'. Anenome was on Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request, a Rolling Stones baiting album recorded in 1995 and released in 1996. 

Anton formed L'épée with Lionel and Marie Limiñana and singer/ actor Emnanuelle Seigner (who sticks in my memory from the 1988 film Frantic which she starred in with Harrison Ford). An album, Diabolique, came out in 2019, ten songs reimagining The Velvet Underground if they'd been from Paris rather than New York. 


Wednesday 22 February 2023


Many years ago I was at a wedding reception talking to a man who I knew locally by sight and who was a friend of a friend. We chatted for a while and then began talking, as middle aged men sometimes do, about music. It turned out we were both big fans of krautrock. He said he was going to a gig in the upcoming weeks, a gig by a reformed Italian prog band who  made lots of soundtracks in the 70s and 80s. 'Oh, that'll be Goblin' I said. And we both fell about laughing, neither of us expecting to be at a wedding reception discussing Goblin and obscure film soundtracks.

Goblin performed the scores for several definitive horror/ slasher/ psychological thriller films in the 70s and 80s, and in various incarnations have been playing and recording up to the present day. They formed in the early 70s, initially calling themselves Oliver and then Cherry Five before settling on Goblin. Over the decades they've had a revolving door membership with musicians and players coming and going. As a result they've formed and reformed and at various times renamed themselves The Goblins, Back To The Goblin, New Goblin, Goblin Rebirth and Goblin Keys. In 1975 they collaborated with Dario Argento to create the soundtrack for the film Profondo Rosso and then again in 1977 for Suspiria. 


Suspiria was released as an album and the title track as a single. The twinkling keys and wind up toy melodies are a little deceptive- the ominous drums and whispering voices add a little eeriness and then the track gathers pace in the second half, heading into full prog territory, before breaking apart with some looping synth whooshes and then the creepiness returns. 

Suspiria tells the story of an American ballet student who gets a place at a big time dance academy. There are a series of brutal murders and it transpires that the school is a front for a supernatural conspiracy. There are maggots, dog attacks, bats, a coven of witches, peacocks, invisibility and human sacrifice. 

In 1985 Goblin contributed three tracks to the soundtrack of the film Phenomena, an Italian supernatural horror/ slasher movie directed by Dario Argento (released in the UK as Creepers). Phenomena is centred around an American girl who attends a Swiss boarding school. She discovers she has psychic powers and can communicate with insects and then uses these powers to track down a serial killer who is murdering young women around the area. Goblin have three tracks on the OST along with songs by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Bill Wyman, Andi Sex Gang (formerly Sex Gang Children), Motorhead and Iron Maiden. Jennifer's Friend is a more 80s sounding track than Suspiria, more synth based and bigger sounding, similar twinkling toplines but with a deep 80s bassline. 

Jennifer's Friend

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Shake It Up

The Tici Taci label celebrates ten years of releases this year, an oasis of electronic excellence and chuggy dancefloor wonders. Tici Taci have a run of releases lined up to take us through 2023 with Mystic Thug, The Long Champs, more from Mr BC, more still from Duncan Gray and four retrospective compilations covering sixty- four back catalogue tracks. One of the most recent releases is from Jack Butters, whose Shake It Up throbs and pulses for three minutes before, without warning, turning into a loping skank- and then back again. 

On the remix tip the Hardway Bros Meets Monkton Uptown version is a dubbed out delight, the bassline dredging the bottom end and the spaced out synth sounds lighting up the top, everything cool and tickety boo for eight minutes. 

The second remix, by Mr BC, is a snake- hipped, lithe dancefloor groove with an increasingly hypnotising acid synthline aimed right between the eyes, which builds in intensity through to the sampled voice at the end which concludes, 'you must be out of your tiny mind'. 

Monday 20 February 2023

Monday's Long Song

Back in 2009, a year that is much longer ago now that seems possible until thought about clearly and while counting- fourteen years!- Joe Gideon And The Shark released an album called Harum Scarum. As was de rigeur in the 00s Joe Gideon And The Shark were a two person, no bass player, band. Joe Gideon did guitar, piano and singing while The Shark played drums. Harum Scarum was a good album, only nine songs long but containing some great moments, not least the beat poetry/ spoken word my life story of Civilisation, posted here previously on more than one occasion. 

This song- Anything You Love That Much, You Will See Again- is seven minutes and thirty nine seconds of love, written (it seems to me) for a friend who is in the midst of loss and the whirl of grief, a reflection on bereavement, a prayer for a friend and hymn to survival. 

Anything You Love That Much, You Will See Again

Sunday 19 February 2023

Forty Five Minutes Of GLOK

Two disclaimers before getting into the body of this blog.

1. I had been trying to put together an Andy Bell mix for some time and couldn't get it right until I separated the Andy Bell material from the GLOK stuff. I'm still not sure that I've got it right but it's better than the earlier attempts.

2. Between putting this GLOK mix together and  writing this post I spent several hours in local pubs with predictable effects and then came home and wrote this. 

Andy Bell's music outside Ride has been a revelation to me in recent years. His connections with Andrew Weatherall and the tracks they recorded together, his initially anonymous, house and kraut influenced tracks as GLOK and then his solo albums have been some of my most played music. GLOK's cosmische, pulsing, never-ending waves of synths and guitars music have hit the spot in all sorts of ways. This is a selection not a Best Of, some GLOK tracks that hopefully work together as one piece. 

 Forty Five Minutes Of GLOK

  • Pulsing (Ambient Version)
  • Kolokol
  • That Time Of Night (Edit)
  • Somaside
  • Pulsing (Citadel Version)
  • Cloud Cover (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
  • Memorial Device
  • Indica (Pye Corner Audio Remix- GLOK Edit)
Pulsing and Kolokol are both from the intended to be anonymous debut GLOK album, released in July 2019. Pulsing later saw the light of day as an EP called The Citadel. Andrew Weatherall's urban ambient remix, harking back to Two Lone Swordsmen in some ways, came out on there an the subsequent album of remixes, Dissident Remixed. 

Somaside was sent out to everyone who bought the follow up album, 2021's Pattern recognition, which suffered from endless delays due to pressing problems and vinyl backlogs. Pattern Recognition is a superb album. The only reason that more of its tracks don't appear on this mix is that so may of them are so long that they'd use up so much time of my self- allocated thirty to forty minutes. 

Memorial Device is from Pattern Recognition and also the name of an imaginary Airdrie post punk group/ 21st century novel by David Keenan. 

Indica was on Andy's solo album The View From Half Way Down, the Bagging Area album of the year in 2020. Pye Corner Audio remixed the entire album superbly. The GLOK remix is Andy remixing a remix of himself. 

Saturday 18 February 2023

Saturday Live

The New Order re- issue machine is in full flow, the third of a series of album boxed sets having just been released, this one tackling 1985's masterpiece Lowlife. I haven't bought any of them, the cost of living crisis, my recent reduction in income and what looks a little like poor value for money coming together to put me off. The three boxes- so far 1981's Movement, 1983's Power, Corruption And Lies and now Lowlife- cost over £100 each and come with what does indeed look like a beautiful hardback book, a remastered album, some extra tracks/ demos and some DVDs of live performances (of which more later). The 12" singles associated with the time period of each album are being re- issued separately, at £20 each. The extras/ demos confirm my belief that New Order don't have a great deal of unreleased material sitting in the vaults. It seems that what they wrote they worked up in full and released and many of the extras such as the full seventeen minute version of Elegia saw the light of day previously in the 2002 Retro boxed set. Other non- Factory songs like Skullcrusher and Let's Go (from soundtracks) have been fairly widely available too. Some people I know have bought the album boxed sets, and fair enough, but not for me at the price they're offered at right now. 

Grumble over. In 1985 New Order were doing something no one else was, their marriage of unreliable synths and drum machines with live guitars and drums, marrying dance and rock, was/ is unique. The Cure went on to borrow their bass lines and shiny c1987 sound, but largely they really were out on their own, making pop music/ art for a record label who allowed them the freedom to do what they liked, when they liked, with a groundbreaking visual designer. Bernard's vocals, untutored and unbothered, with Hooky's frequently soaring, gorgeous basslines and the rhythmic punch Stephen brought, the choppy, distorted guitars, Gillian's one fingered keyboard playing, the frog chorus and synth drums- all of this made them outstanding in a field of one. Their live performances were notoriously shonky, drunken and short affairs, with equipment breaking down and Mancunian truculence as standard. These for me are the draws of the boxed sets, mid 80s gigs in full on an archaic and outdated format, Ye Olde Digital Versatile Disc. 

In December 1985 New Order played Rotterdam, an eventful couple of days away I would imagine with Rotterdam's reputation for edginess and New Order's for partying. There was a gig in Belgium and they'd been in Japan earlier that year (a gig released on video as Pumped Full of Drugs, catalogue number FAC 177- medical ones funnily enough, they all had flu) and played the Hacienda too, promoting Lowlife in all it's shiny, state of the art glory. Lowlife, catalogue number FAC 100, is perfect mid- 80s New Order, from the opening crash of the snare and country and western / Vietnam lyrics of Love Vigilantes to the gargantuan dance- pop of The Perfect Kiss (in edited form), Sunrise and Elegia's glorious synthscapes, Sub- cultures towering dance music with masturbation lyrics and the thumping ending of Face Up, with its corny lyrics, yelps and everything. Even the two songs that are most clearly the 'album tracks', Sooner Than You Think and This Time Of Night, are miles ahead of their contemporaries. If New Order had contemporaries in 1985. The footage of the Rotterdam gig is superb, and some of it is on Youtube thankfully, though not the whole gig as one document- hopefully sooner or later someone will upload this. As it is here are a few highlights of Bernard, Peter, Stephen and Gillian in 1985.

As It Is When It Was at The Hacienda, filmed for the Whistle Test, Hooky's Love Will Tear Us Apart teasing bassline at the fore and Barney crooning, 'well I always thought we'd get along like a house on fire' and Velvet Underground chicken scratch guitars. The shot from the balcony at three minutes, the crowd tightly packed and swaying like the Stretford End behind Ron Atkinson's mid 80s team.

Sunrise, also from the Hacienda, with a birthday shout out for Gary, nineteen today.

Over at the Rotterdam Arena now, The Perfect Kiss introduced by Hooky, nine minutes of widescreen, dance- pop brilliance, under bright white lights with Morris and Gilbert prodding synths while Barney and Peter bring the guitars. Bernard's guitar solo as Hooky bashes the synth drums and then the drop out at around five minutes is a blast. Cue the frogs. 

Opinion I'd like to present as fact- Bernard was a better vocalist when he wasn't able to sing and play at the same time.

To Japan now and the Koseinenkin Hall, and Sub- culture. There are times when I think Sub- culture may be their best song, their finest moment. 'In the end you will submit/ It's got to hurt you a little bit'.

Love Vigilantes in Tokyo, Barney's melodica making its wheezy appearance. Not a euphemism. 

Back to Rotterdam now. The setlist for Rotterdam is stunning- As It Was When It Was/ Everything's Gone Green/ Sub- culture/ Ceremony/ Let's Go/ This Time Of Night/ The Village/ The Perfect Kiss/ Age Of Consent/ Sunrise. Amazingly they played an encore too, not something they were much up for at the time and not something they tended to do without leaving the machines playing Blue Monday. At Rotterdam Arena the encore was Temptation and Face Up. 

Face Up is absurdly good and so typically New Order, everything great about them piled into six minutes of exhilaration. Here Barney fumbles the words occasionally, the sound is distorted, the bass pulverising, the synths overloaded, the drums crashing and crunchy, a white knuckle ride a week before Christmas 1985. 'Oh how I cannot bear the thought of you/ We were young and we were pure/ And life was just an open door' Bernard sings, lines I assume that must be about Ian and Joy Division, as the song tears towards its conclusion leaving Hooky, shirtless, not wanting to leave the stage. 

Friday 17 February 2023

Find 'Em

Andrew Weatherall died three years ago today and his presence continues to be felt in the culture he was part of though his absence does too. In April there are a series of events taking place to celebrate what would have been his 60th birthday including one at The Golden Lion in Todmorden which I am involved in, about which more later. It would be remiss of this blog to let today pass without a mention and it's best to do it by celebrating his life and work. Three links today to remember him by, from three different phases of his life and work. I was going to say career but I think Andrew would have spat out his tea at the suggestion that what he did was as planned as a career.

In 1991 when Andrew was becoming the remixer he did a remix for S'Express, the biggest flop single Mark Moore's hyperdelic house/ disco outfit had. Andrew and Hugo Nicolson's remix is however an absolute beauty, seven minutes forty nine of day- glo acid house, smiley face synths blaring over a crunchy breakbeat, Sonique's 'yeah yeah yeah' vocal, various grunts and oohs and ahhhs buried deep within and some jubilant house piano chords. It's a remix which is a bit overlooked among his early ones but is right up there among his best- an admittedly a crowded field. 

Find 'Em Fool 'Em Forget 'Em (The Eighth Hour Mix)

If you always suspected there might be a link between Andrew Weatherall and Wham! but couldn't quite put your finger on it, the bass player on this remix was Dion Estus, a Motown trained bassist and session musician, who looked after the bottom end for Wham!'s touring band and then George Michael's too.

In 2001 when Two Lone Swordsmen were at their most electro/ techno purist, they released a double pack of vinyl titled Locked Swords. The four sides contained a series of locked grooves, tones and samples, all used on their Turntables And Machines tour, designed to be used by DJs and bedroom DJs. It's one of the few TLS pieces of vinyl I don't own and I missed out on one that came up on Ebay recently. The tracks are numbered Black 1- 15 and White 1- 13. All are in the folder below as mp3s, for you to add to your collection and/ or muck about with if you have the software and inclination. I saw Andrew and Keith Tenniswood on the tour at Manchester's Music Box, a fairly sparsely attended affair. They set up their Technics 1200s and laptops down the side of the room and began spitting out a few hours of bass heavy, breakbeat driven electro/ techno, much in the vein of the Tiny Reminders album which came out a year before. 

Locked Swords

In the mid- to-late 00s Andrew became a regular radio presence, first at BBC's 6 Mix and then at NTS. His shows were a delight, never failing to introduce listeners to new music, sending them scurrying to websites and record shops to hunt down what he'd just played. Often he'd drop his own music in, much then unreleased  (some still unreleased today- hopefully this can be rectified in the coming months and years). His chat was very good too, amusing, sardonic and self- mocking. Equally there were times when he'd shut up and just play the music, with thirty minute mixes a regular feature at the 6 Mix shows and the occasional NTS show being two hours of music non- stop. 

This one here is from August 2019, the last time he darkened the BBC's doorway, standing in for an absent Iggy Pop (I can imagine a young Andrew being amazed at that turn of events). The tracklist below shows all manner of delights, his beautifully dubbed out remix of Meatraffle, a still unreleased Woodleigh Research Facility track conjured up by him and Nina Walsh and some favourites from his youth in the shape of Be- Bop Deluxe and The Dream Syndicate. 

  • Meatraffle: Meatraffle On The Moon (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
  • Krokakai: Bodhran Beat
  • Dust to Dust: Cantillate
  • Psycho & Plastic: Black Hole Acid Test
  • La Decadanse: Bardo State
  • The Woodleigh Research Facility: Vous Du
  • Llewellyn: Remote Scope
  • Enkidu: Shinkansen
  • Sansibar: Home
  • Photonz: Emerald City (Almaty Remix)
  • Felix Leifur: Brot 6
  • Ghost Culture: Meltwater
  • Fabio Monesi: Strings Of Love
  • De Sluwe Vos: Trans Magnetic Stimulation (Dexter Remix)
  • Alfie: Coasting
  • Be-Bop Deluxe: Electrical Language
  • The Dream Syndicate: Treading Water Underneath The Stars
  • Curses:Insomnia
  • The Beat Escape: Seeing Is Forgetting
  • Frobisher Neck: Isi
  • Andrew Weatherall: Selling The Shadow
  • Hamish Kilgour: Opening / Welcome To Finkelstein

Thursday 16 February 2023

The Seven Rays

My ongoing series with Spencer took a week off last week but is back today, following three posts of odd, pastoral, low key psychedelia from Woo, the bone chilling blues Brian Eno and/ or Cindy d'Lequez Sage and the proto hippy, cosmic exotica of Eden Ahbez. This week's offering was unknown to me before Spencer sent it and has been played a lot since then, a six minute lo- fi psyche voyage from David Stout. A hissy drum machine, some very simplistic analogue synths and David's echo- laden voice. David self- released two experimental synth/ electronic albums on cassette in 1980- 1981 and The Seven Rays seems to date from that time too. The drum machine and synths squelch and patter hypnotically as David's voice chants, whispers and sing/ speaks about matters of great import. It's all weirdly wonderful and reminds me a little of songs such as Fad Gadget's Back To Nature, one with a similar primitive, homemade feel. The Seven Rays is from a 2018 compilation album called Switched- On Eugene, a double album pulling together songs from a hippie enclave in 80s Oregon, a scene I'm somewhat ignorant of and on the basis of this song, one I should know more about. 

The Seven Rays

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Trugoy The Dove

More sad news for 2023. I hadn't even got around to writing about the death of Burt Bacharach when it was announced that Trugoy The Dove had died aged just 54. Trugoy The Dove, also known as Plug 2 and Dave Jolicouer, was one of the trio of Long Island friends who formed De La Soul and who in 1989 released one of the most important records of that year, their debut album 3 Feet High And Rising. It's difficult to overstate the impact De la Soul had on 1989, an album and a bunch of songs that crossed over between all kinds of scenes and audiences. De La Soul's songs could be heard wherever music was being played,  songs like Eye Know and The Magic Number fitting in perfectly alongside Soul II Soul, The Stone Roses, Black Box, Inner City, 808 State and Happy Mondays. The day- glo graphics, long sleeved t- shirts, CND symbols, irreverent attitude to sampling and Daisy Age, positive lyrics made them stand out in a year when Public Enemy and NWA also made era- defining hip hop records but with a very different sound and tone. In 1989, it felt like wherever you went where good music was being played, De La Soul were part of it, their songs stitched into the feel good times of that year. 

'Three is the magic number', the hook from one of their best known 1989 songs, was sampled from a 1973 Bob Dorough song aimed at helping American kids in the 70s and 80s learn maths. They laid it over the drums from Double Dee and Steinski's Lesson 3, first written and demoed onto cassette in 1986. They had multiple legal wranglings over sample clearance and then with the record label Tommy Boy and had finally sorted out many of their legal issues last month, with The Magic Number finally appearing on streaming services

The Magic Number

De La Soul would go on to make several more albums, the follow up De La Is Dead saw them try to move on from the Daisy Age styles and 1996's Stakes Is High saw them still in good voice and top form. Later on they recorded with Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's Gorillaz, making Feel Good Inc, one of the stand out Gorillaz songs and co- written by Trugoy/ Dave. 

RIP Dave Jolicoeur. 

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Love Song

Today is Valentine's Day, a day for lovers, so I thought I'd post a love song called Love Song. This photo of a wall at Liverpool Tate from a year ago popped up too, Peter Bake's pop art covering a wall of the cafe and it seemed apt. 

In 1981 Simple Minds released two albums together as a pair (and not as a double album, just to make that distinction clear), Sons And Fascination and Sister Feelings Call. Between them they contain some of the best songs of the group's back catalogue and of 1981. Both were produced by Steve Hillage, which is often a mark of quality. Not that I realised this until about ten years ago when I finally saw the light about early Simple Minds and bought this pair of records at a second hand shop. Side Two of Sons And Fascination kicks off with Love Song, a song that rides in on a squiggly, urgent synth riff and then driving, pulsing drums and bass. A writhing topline, distorted guitar I think, slides all over the song and then Jim Kerr starts singing about coats of many colours, reptile men, painted faces and broken fingers, how America is a boyfriend and later on, of 'glory days that come and go'. The chorus is simply, 'Love song/ love song/ love song/ love song'. 

Love Song

Monday 13 February 2023

Monday's Long Song

The early 90s shoegaze/ ambient techno crossover seems obvious in retrospect, three decades later the commonalities and sympathetic sounds and approaches should have led to a multitude of collaborations and remixes (in both directions). As it is the scene, such as it was, peaked in 1993 with Reload's stunning remix of Slowdive, a ten minute space odyssey where the Berkshire five piece band (Rachel Gosling, Neil Halstead, Christian Savill, Nick Chaplin and Simon Scott, all fringes, love beads, leather jackets and brown suede) were sent into slow motion orbit by Somerset's Reload (Mark Pritchard and Tom Middleton who turned up making similar sounds as Global Communication). If this were doubled or tripled in length it could still be too short. 

In Mind (Reload Remix- The 147 Take)

Slowdive's 1993 album Souvlaki was panned by the music press on release, the shoegaze backlash in such a feeding frenzy that Melody Maker's Dave Simpson said he'd rather 'drown choking in a bath full of porridge than ever listen to it again'. Nicky Wire compared them to Hitler. The music press and opinions could be quite toxic back then couldn't they? They were screwed over by their US label too, who pulled funding on a tour while it was only halfway through leaving the group to pay for the rest of it themselves. Today Souvlaki sounds like an early 90s lost gem, full of shimmering waves of FX pedals, warm baths of guitars and hazy vocals. This is the longest song on the album, a six minute marriage of late 60s psychedelia and 90s noise that sounds as good as anything anyone else in that field created, including music press darlings My Bloody Valentine. 

Souvlaki Space Station

Sunday 12 February 2023

Forty More Minutes Of One Dove

Last Sunday's One Dove mix was popular with a slice of this blog's readership and included calls for a follow up mix so due to popular demand here is a further forty minutes of One Dove, a dubbed out and spaced out selection. 

One Dove Two

  • Breakdown (William Orbit Stereo Odyssey)
  • Breakdown (Squire Black Dove Rides Out)
  • Jolene 
  • Fallen (Darkest Hour)
  • White Love (Higherwatha)

Breakdown came out as a single ahead of the album Morning Dove White in October 1993, the Stephen Hague mix being chosen by the record company to push it towards radio play but the real treasure was to be found in the remixes and versions, two of which I've included here. The first is one of two by William Orbit (the other being the Cellophane Boat Mix, named after an infamous boat party in Rimini). 

Squire Black Dove Rides Out is Sabres Of Paradise at their dubbiest, an epic remix that showed how far ahead Weatherall was in 1992. I wrote about it here  a couple of years ago, on a sample spotting tip (and finding Shades Of Rhythm and Tranquillity Bass within it). In 1993 I had Breakdown on cassette single, these remixes, the Stephen Hague single version and the Cellophane Boat mix on one tape which often soundtracked the long bus journey to my first teaching practice placement in Failsworth, North Manchester. I still have the cassingle, one of the few tapes that survived various culls over the years. The song in all its versions is burned into my subconscious, from 1993 to 2023, from being a trainee teacher to one now only two and a half years from being able to take his pension. 

Jolene was a superbly dubbed out and off kilter cover of Dolly Parton's 1973 single, which eventually saw the light of day in December 1993 on the 12" and CD single of Why Don't You Take Me.

Fallen (Darkest Hour) is the original, pre- Weatherall release when the band were Dove (the soap manufacturer didn't see the funny side of their name- I've no idea if Dove the soap manufacturers knew it was a drug reference or just didn't like their copyright being infringed. Either way Dove became One Dove). Fallen came out on Soma in 1991 with two other versions, Dawn and Dusk. Legend has it Dot managed to get Weatherall to listen to it, he proclaimed it record of the year and then offered to produce their album. 

White Love is also a key One Dove song, not least the ten minute Guitar Paradise version by Weatherall and Sabres. The version here came out in the US only and then in very limited numbers as a promo 12", a remix by Jon Williams for Hardkiss, a hypnotic remix complete with chanting monks and oil drum thump of the drums and a loop of Dot's vocals. There is another Hardkiss remix, the ten minute Scott Hardkiss Psychic Masturbation version of White Love but as I'm trying to keep these Sunday mixes at around thirty to forty minutes that is a remix for another day. 

Saturday 11 February 2023

Saturday Live

My love for Echo And The Bunnymen in their eighties pomp is well documented at these pages. They are also very well served by live performances. This one from 1983 recorded for German TV show Rockpalast almost exactly forty years ago is an hour and a half of prime Bunnymen, the four Bunnymen taking the stage to dry ice and a madrigal intro tape and straight into Going Up's post- punk dread. As they play a stretched out intro to With A Hip its clear we're in the presence of men who want to do it differently. They play in a line, Pete's drum kit set up stage left rather than at the back, Will, Mac and Les in a line left to right. Ian's black top is held together by safety pins, his pale shoulders lit by a single spot. The set is drawn from the first three albums, Porcupine recently released at the time, the group taking it round Europe, a pretty much perfect pre- Ocean Rain set- Show Of Strength, Zimbo, The Cutter, Rescue, My White Devil, Crocodiles, All That Jazz, The Back Of Love.... all payed with a peculiarly Bunnymen sound that is both skeletal and sparse but filled out and widescreen too. Pete de Freitas' drumming is powerful, the tom tom thump that gave them a groove. Les' bass playing, entirely self taught is propulsive and melodic and Will switches between scratchy Velvets guitar and fluid, flipped out psychedelia.

The final section, from the frenetic nervousness of Heaven Up Here to Over The Wall's dark, funky gloom and onto the sturm and drang of Do It Clean is an early 80s joy. The band re- appear, Ian dedicating Villiers Terrace to a scouser in the audience and chucking in bits of Al Green and Gene Vincent into the extended section before bidding the crowd 'auf weidersehen'. They come back for more of course, the deep and dark seascape of No Dark Things, then back off and on (again) for a final flourish through A Promise, Ian pushing his voice to the edge, 'almost near/ almost far/ down came the rain'.  

Friday 10 February 2023

Transition Theory

In June 2015 Andrew Weatherall did a mix for Resident Advisor, RA.470 (with music from amongst others Flash Atkins, Duncan Gray and Vox Low). One of the questions they asked him in the mini- interview to go with the mix was as follows-

'Can you tell us the idea behind the mix?'

'The idea', Weatherall replied with typical wit, 'was to sequence some records together without the joins being too apparent.'

On the new 10:40 album Transition Theory (out next Tuesday on Valentine's Day) Jesse Fahnestock has pursued this idea into full album territory. A DJ mix is all about great tracks, the transitions between them and the flow of the overall whole. Jesse's started there, moved into making individual tracks and then turned it into a concept album. He's worried that he's releasing his best work at a time when people don't listen to whole albums any more but those who are interested will listen to Transition Theory as it is intended- an eleven track, uninterrupted whole- and those that don't, will miss out.  

Transition Theory opens with the slow motion, electronic haze of Tumbling Down, the distant and distorted voice of jazz pianist Keith Jarrett just faintly audible. As an introduction, it's seductive and glides in gently, percussion and a descending guitar line backgrounded by layers of ambient noise and FX. Over the next four songs, the transition theory makes itself clear as one song segues into another, the later features of one track becoming the first elements of the next. Ninety- Now picks up where Tumbling Down's drums left off but now joined by a backwards guitar chord and then some chuggy synths, building insistently. Ninety- Now's dancing melody fades into The Engineer, a sturdy groove picking up. It's all about momentum now. As The Engineer winds down, Picking Flowers sets off with the same synth arpeggio but then quickly starts to go elsewhere, transitioning into a blissed out two minute build up and then breaking down into something slinky and very European sounding. Picking Flowers then becomes Jimmy Ripp, the stuttering rhythm bent into a new form with a wave of juddering synths. 

From the opening notes that played twenty eight minutes earlier 10:40 has slipped and slid through five tracks, each one an extension of the previous one, new ideas bouncing around each time but all linked. At this point the album pauses. If it were a record or a tape we'd turn it over and put side two on, drop the needle or press play. Sunday's Cool bounces in, a chunky mid- set tune with a voice hidden somewhere under the beats. Regime Shift Dub busts Sunday's Cool's drums up, the tempo halved and dub's sense of space and atmosphere slugging it out with the former track's melodies. 'I can't stop it now', a voice says, 'I can't stop it now', the sense of flow and direction seemingly effortless and easy. We're working our way to the conclusion now, the distorted dubbed out synths morphing into Smoke The Demon. Side two is becoming a serious trip, glitched and fractured, trippy and hypnotic, psychedelic electronic music finding some space in between the loosest, most wigged out parts of indie- dance, the trippy edges of house music and with techno's intensity, the area Weatherall, Hardkiss, Underworld and others made their own three decades ago. At The Turning Of The Tide flows in on the oscillating synths of the previous track and features the voices of Emilia Harmony and Matt Gunn, reverbed and disembodied, drifting in and out of the twinkling synths and chuggy rhythms, the gothic spirit of basement clubs, hairspray and black leather now a presence. Thundering bass and drums see the song out and into the ringing bells of The Mountain, a track that breaks apart beautifully into an ambient dubby spacescape. Final track Mantis glides in as The Mountain finishes, the programmed drums now stepping things up, bass and guitar atmospherics (courtesy of Matt Gunn) the bedrock for a topline of sci fi bleeps. Onwards it goes with drums and washes of sound, bleeps and phasers pushing forwards for nearly eight minutes. 

You can buy Transition Theory here, the eleven tracks available singly, as an album and also with a twelfth track, the hour long album as one continuous mix. There was some indication Jesse's 10:40 was heading in this direction with his mix for Higher Love last year, an hour of music with a similar flow, feel and transitions found in there among Cowboy Junkies, Rich Lane, The Charlatans, Matt Gunn, Kusht, Yarni, Cosmikuro, MAKS, Hugh Masekela, Primal Scream and several 10:40s tracks. I've posted it before- you can find it at Mixcloud or below. You can use it to kill the time between now and Tuesday.

Higher Love 10: 40 Mix

Thursday 9 February 2023

Winter Is Cold

The Top Of The Pops repeats on BBC 4 are into 1994, a very mixed bag indeed. The shiny kitsch of the 80s episodes has long gone, an attempt to renew itself as a vital piece of youth culture- it doesn't really seem to be working. Many of these episodes seem new to me, a sign probably that most Friday nights in 1993 and 1994 we were already out, hitting the town. This performance made me stop and listen the other night Sinead O'Connor singing You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart...

It's dramatic and intense, the drums and strings providing a powerful backdrop for Sinead's voice and the fiddle towards the end adding to the power. Sinead' vocal is a match for anything else she's sung. 

You Made Me The Thief Of Your Heart

The song was written for the soundtrack of the film In The Name Of The Father, the story of the Guildford Four, four men falsely accused and convicted of the Guildford pub bombings in 1974. The song has an all star cast- Jah Wobble played bass, Bomb The Bass's Tim Simenon produced it and Gavin Friday, Maurice Seezer and Bono wrote it (there aren't many appearances by Bono at these pages and on this occasion we'll let it pass without comment). 

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Happy Ending

Hifi Sean and David McAlmont's album Happy Ending finally got its full release last Friday, after months of hold ups at the vinyl pressing plants, three singles as teasers, a limited vinyl release last year (I was lucky enough to get a copy a few months ago) and recently a free to download lyric booklet. However you have received it, in whatever format, it has been well worth the wait, one of the 2023's best albums already. 

Hifi Sean, former Soup Dragon now DJ, producer and remixer, had an album out in 2018, an album with multiple guest vocalists ranging from Yoko Ono to Bootsy Collins and Alan Vega. David McAlmont guested on Like Josephine Baker and this was clearly the starting point of a beautiful working relationship. Sean's music conjures up a 21st century psychedelic soul soundtrack, with sweeping Bollywood strings on six of the songs, recorded in Bangalore, clubby drums, driving basslines, gorgeous soaring melodies and David's startling voice. The opening song and title track Happy Ending is seven minutes of glorious music, starting with found sound and voices before the drums kick in and a Motown bassline starts pushing and then the strings gliding up and down... and then McAlmont joins in, an angelic but world weary voice, singing of 'good outcomes and happy endings/ where do you want to start?'

Happy Ending is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Over the next four sides of vinyl/ twelve songs they repeat the trick time and time again, a perfect collection of songs that really need to be heard and appreciated as an album, tackling the big topics from racism and Black Lives Matter as those protests unfolded following the death of George Floyd in 2020 to the gay nightlife hedonism of Hurricanes, to Sean writing during the midst of a breakdown, trying to rebuild his life. Beautiful is the kind of life affirming adult pop music we all need to hear on those days when getting up and out just doesn't seem worth the effort. Viva Hifi Sean, David McAlmont and happy endings. 

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Make Them Disappear

Dickie Continental is the new project from Red Snapper's Rich Thair, eleven new tracks based on the idea that first thought is often best and that simple ideas beat complicated ones. This song, Make Them Disappear, is sketchy and scratchy, blurry atmospherics, sounds conjured up from the dusk in the Welsh countryside and a slow motion drumbeat, an undergrowth of synths and organ and vocals from Jo Sims, a soulful croon of, 'I'll take all your troubles/ make them disappear'. The album Un... is out on Acid Jazz in April. 

Monday 6 February 2023

Monday's Long Song

XAM Duo are from Yorkshire, part of the Leeds DIY scene that has also produced Hookworms and Yard Act. They sound nothing like either of those bands. XAM Duo are a duo, Matthew Benn and Christopher Duffin, who use modular synths, Moogs, Korgs and Rolands, drum machines, Fender Rhodes piano and some saxophone to make dreamy blissed out drones, long pieces of meandering, melodic electronic music. Their self- titled debut album came out in 2016, six tracks long with three of them well over ten minutes- Pine Barrens is a sprightly, engaging, bleepy thirteen minutes and album closer René clocks in at eighteen and a half minutes of fizzing buzzy synths. At twenty three minutes long I Extend My Arms Pt I & II towers over them both, sax and synths building slowly and eventually rippling toplines bouncing around, managed chaos. At thirteen minutes the drum machine kicks in and for the final six or seven minutes we're well into krauty/ cosmische territory. 

Over at Bandcamp where you can buy the album and last year's follow up XAM Duo II a follower has left the following comment- 'If you want to get lost in electronic wonder whilst on a long train journey to go and fuck your ex- this is the one'. 

I Extend My Arms Pt I & II

Sunday 5 February 2023

Forty Minutes Of One Dove

After last week's Dot Allison mix I thought I should go back to the source and do a One Dove mix. One Dove's album Morning Dove White was finally released in October 1993 after a year of hold ups and wranglings about whose mixes and which versions should be on the final record, Stephen Hague's radio friendly sheen or Andrew Weatherall's lengthy dubby productions. We all know what history tells us about those kind of arguments. I bought it and played it a lot, an album that can transport me back to the flat I lived in then with a friend and the times we spent listening to it, the smell and hum of the gas fire, the ashtray filling up with cigarette butts. It sound-tracked our post- club arrivals back home, the winter of 1993- 94, a couple of break ups, us making our way into adult jobs, all that kind of stuff. I've listened to it ever since, an album that continues to give alternately shivers and a warm glow. Weatherall's production, on the back of Screamadelica, is expansive, restless, superbly chilled out but warped too and oddly timeless. The moody/ elegiac songs of Dot Allison, Jim McKinven and Ian Carmichael were clearly good to start with but once Weatherall and Hugo Nicolson got into the studio and began working on them they went somewhere else, sprinkled with the magic dust of the early 90s. Stephen Hague's mixes are possibly a little too shiny in places (and kept mainly for the CD version) but the vinyl is an album to rank alongside the best of the 90s. I once said here, many years ago, that it was brilliant but felt slightly flawed, like there was something missing. I'm not sure what that was or what I meant now. The album's cast included Weatherall's Sabres Of Paradise mates Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner, Jah Wobble's bass on There Goes The Cure, Phil Mossman (Sabres guitarist and future member of LCD Soundsystem) and Primal Scream's Andrew Innes. It's never been re- issued on vinyl. Copies on Discogs are currently starting at £80. Mine is most definitely not for sale. 

Putting together a One Dove mix without just sequencing a bunch of songs from Morning Dove White pointed me towards the remixes and B-sides. I couldn't find room on this mix for either Weatherall's majestic dubbed out odyssey, Breakdown (Squire Black Dove Rides Out) or their spaced out cover of Jolene- a second forty minute mix should happen at some point- and there are several Sabres remixes of Transient Truth not included below, the mighty Old Toys and Old Toys Dub are both stunners. The ten minute Guitar Paradise version of White Love looks like a glaring omission too. And if Fallen feels little like it was just tacked onto the end, then that's because it was. I just couldn't not include it in one version or another.

Forty Minutes Of One Dove

  • Why Don't You Take Me
  • Skanga
  • Transient Truth (Squelch Mix)
  • Transient Truth (Death Of A Disco Dancer)
  • Why Don't You Take Me (Underworld Remix)
  • Fallen (Nancy And Lee Mix) 7" Edit
Why Don't You Take Me is from Morning Dove White and was a single in December 1993, the now London Records owned Boy's Own label putting it out as the third single from the album and hoping for a hit. The Glaswegian dub reggae of Skanga was a B-side (along with Jolene, not included here). 

Transient Truth was also from Morning Dove White and released as an official 12" (with the Old Toys mixes) and a white label promo, both in 1992. The white label contained four Sabres Of Paradise remixes of the song, the two included here plus the Paradise Mix and the Sabres Fuzz Dub. I've no idea if the Death Of A Disco Dancer remix is a reference to The Smiths song of the same name. 

Underworld's remixes of Why Don't You Take Me are both up there with their best from the period, released on double blue vinyl along with a Secret Knowledge remix. Underworld's Up  2 Down remix is a long thumper. The one I've included here is dubbed out Underworld style and is magnificent. 

Fallen is where the One Dove story starts, Dot's breathless vocal and the ambient/ dub/ acid house music initially built around a Supertramp sample which led to legal action and the offending harmonica  being removed. Weatherall's remix for the 12" came with the title Nancy And Lee Mix, which sent many of us scurrying back to our parent's record collections looking for Sinatra and Hazlewood albums and singles. The version here is an edited one from a  February1992 7" single and I include just because it's such a great song it can even survive having four minutes chopped off it. 

Looking at all of the tracks I've left off this I think part two may have to come sooner rather than later. 

Saturday 4 February 2023

Saturday Live

The Clash live at Le Palace in Paris, 27th February 1980, a one off gig specially arranged for French TV, a programme produced by  the legendary Antoine de Caunes- from The Clash to Eurotrash. The opening sequence and titles for the French TV programme Chorus are worth watching in themselves, rapid fire animation, scratching and cut and paste snatches of punk and reggae songs, all so 1980 it's like the last forty three years haven't happened. Then blamm! Joe and the boys power into Koka Kola, Joe in fine voice and Mick's guitar squealing over the heavyweight rumble of bass and drums, with Mickey Gallagher's keyboards, stage right behind Paul.Without a pause they steam into I Fought The Law and they sound great, thrillingly alive and on it. London Calling was at this point a new release, it came out just two months previously and the songs were new and fresh. 

Joe's pidgeon French patter between songs, a brief bit of respite from playing at one thousand miles an hour, is fun- 'maintenant, woaghaghwoa' he says, introducing Spanish Bombs, and then, 'very good, tres bien mes amis, fuckin' tres bien... maintenant Wrong 'Em Boyo mate'. The French crowd are understandably enthusiastic, crammed right up against the lip of the stage, no barriers or photographer's pit in 1980. 

It goes without saying that a band is only as good as it's drummer. Topper here is, as Sandy Pearlman said, a human drum machine. The front three, the Best, Law and Charlton of punk, step back and forth from the mics, instinctively doing vox and backing vox, switching places, Mick going centre stage for Stay Free, Paul leather trousers and splayed legs, Fender Precision bass worn low. They knew exactly when to gather together and when to step apart.

Janie Jones takes everyone back to 1977 and is followed by Topper's drum intro to a white hot Complete Control, then Garageland and Tommy Gun. The set here, half an hour long for French TV, is a truncated version of the full gig. It's been released on DVD in Australia and New Zealand but not here (as far as I know). There were four songs played that night that precede the ones played above- Jimmy Jazz, London Calling, Protex Blue and Train In Vain, but they don't seem to be Youtube at the moment. It doesn't really matter, the nine we have here are the real thing (and in many ways better than the official Clash live recordings available over the years. The Shea Stadium CD was OK but was post- Topper and Westway To The World was a live compilation recorded at various gigs between 1977 and 1983 with some great performances and recordings but not one single night with the band). Watch this for half an hour today and marvel- this band once existed in real time, playing these gigs in real life to paying customers for a couple of quid (or the 20 francs it cost get into the Le Palace that night).

Friday 3 February 2023

The People Say

I was on strike on Wednesday. No one, especially teachers (or nurses or ambulance crews or any public sector workers), takes the decision to withdraw their labour lightly but sometimes you have to take a stand and say 'no more'. I attended a demo and march in Manchester city centre, a very well attended event and as we marched round town in the rain passersby, people working in offices and even those stuck on trams (who couldn't move because of the march), were waving, clapping and shouting encouragement. 

Steve Mason's new single, The People Say, is a joyous and uplifting song- an indie/ folk/ gospel hybrid with a lovely electronic squiggle underpinning it- in praise of those who push to make the world better, in his own words 'a rallying call'. 'I heard the people say/ Where's the beautiful fight today?' Steve sings, while the video plays drone footage of a union march, so it fits nicely with my week. 

The album The People Say is taken from, titled Brothers And Sisters, is out in March. I always know what Steve Mason albums are going to be like. I've bought all four solo albums and saw him live when he toured to promote the previous one, 2019's About The Light. Somehow I missed the first song from the forthcoming one, which came out two months ago. No More features guest vocals from Javed Bashir and is about imperialism, colonialism and the cultures of the countries the UK invaded and colonised over the course of the last few hundred years. 

Both songs have the sound Steve has made his own since he turned up in The Beta Band in the 90s, the crunchy drums, acoustic guitars, multi- tracked vocals and ascending chord sequences. Not one to shy away from the big themes and the big issues Brothers And Sisters is described by Steve as a big 'fuck you' to Brexit and a 'giant fuck you to anyone who is terrified of immigration'. 

Thursday 2 February 2023

Full Moon

My second run of collaborative posts with reader Spencer continues today, the third part for 2023 following last week's lo- fi 1990 psychedelia courtesy of Woo and the previous week's song by either Brian Eno or Cindy D'Lequez Sage, the song that plays over the closing titles of The Lovely Bones. This week's takes the gentleness trippiness of Woo's song and the slightly spooked atmospherics of Cindy/ Brian's are delves even further into the cosmos although it predates both by decades. 

Full Moon is new to me, and already a firm favourite. Recorded in 1960 the song opens with some gently played piano and some glockenspiel, somewhere in the region of what in record shops today is put in the Exotica/ Library/ Weird Stuff section. It could be from a shelved Disney film created by some proto- hippy cartoonists and musicians when everyone else has gone home. The chords and notes shift slightly, a minor key melody with some very faint brushed drums and bongos. ' To live in an old shack by the sea/ And breathe the sweet slat air', the voice begins, close to the microphone and laced with a little echo, 'going on to describe the joys of getting away from it all- from life in Eisenhower's hyper- consumerist and conformist America at the dawn of the 60s, that decade's long, strange trip yet to unfold. 

The voice belongs to Eden Ahbez and he goes on, 'to know the thrill of loneliness and lose all sense of time and be free'. Nothing happens much but Full Moon is moving places slowly, Eden describing a life outdoors away from society 'in the evening when the sky is on fire/ heaven and earth become my cathedral/ all men are brothers'. He goes on, wanting to 'dream the dream that the dreamers dream' and then casually and in a calm and understated way says 'I am the wind, the sea, the evening star... I am everyone, anyone, no- one', (in a way that reminds me of San Pedro's punk heroes Minutemen, weirdly, given they play at twice the speed of Eden's song and two decades later). The word Spencer used to describe Full Moon was enchanting and I can't find one better. 

Full Moon

Eden Ahbez's album, The Music Of An Enchanted Isle came out in 1960, a much sought after record now. Eden was born George Alexander Aberle, a songwriter in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. He was very much a proto- hippy, living a very bohemian lifestyle in California, wearing sandals and robes and growing his hair and beard long way before the counter culture kids did it. For a while he camped behind the letter L in the Hollywood sign. He often slept outdoors with his family, and lived on fruit, nuts and vegetables. When stopped by the police once he told them, 'I may look crazy but I'm not. And the funny thing is that other people don't look crazy but they are'. 

Wednesday 1 February 2023


John Medd is the author of the Are We There Yet?, a blog I have been visiting for years, a treasure trove of music, photography, art, reports on travels and adventures and slices of life. John has set himself the target of using the first post of each month in 2023 to set himself a photography challenge. On 1st January he went for numbers and posted three photos all depicting the number one (here). He sent me a message to ask if I'd like to join in and I said I would. February's theme is water. The water above is the reservoir at Rivington Pike, part of the West Pennine Moors near Bolton and Chorley (although it could easily in that picture be part of a Scandi- noir or gothic horror. Don't go into the woods. Or near the reservoir). 

Despite being inland we're blessed with water round here although it's fairly industrial in nature. I thought for John's water themed first of the month post I'd give you a short tour of the waterways we have near us. The Manchester ship canal runs from not far north of here to meet the Mersey and then onto Liverpool, the gateway to the world during the Industrial Revolution. Again to the north of us, a short walk away, is one of Manchester's three rivers, the Mersey. We can walk along the Mersey in either direction. Heading east the river runs to its source in Stockport, disappearing under the Mersey shopping centre. The point shown here is under the M60 near Northenden. 

Manchester's other two great rivers are the Irwell and the Medlock. This is the Medlock as it runs through the southern edge of the city centre, the dirty old town of legend caught on camera. 

This is the Irwell running past Peel Park in Salford, behind the university, a point where the river is wide and slow. Historically it marks the boundary between Manchester and Salford. It runs west where it feeds into the ship canal. The picture here was taken last September, when everything was a bit greener than it is now.

Half a mile to our east we have the Bridgewater Canal, an extension of the first canal in the world (which can be found at Worsley) built by the Duke of Bridgewater to transport his coal to Castlefield to sell. The Industrial Revolution was born there, Manchester's entire reason for being kick started by coal (and then cotton). Today the canal seems pretty clean and is used by narrow boats. When I walk down the towpath I often wonder about the pleasures and drawbacks of living on a narrow boat (storing thousands of records and books being the chief drawback). This photo is also from last summer. 

Today's water theme gives me a chance to extend my recent immersion into the world of Underworld in the 90s. In 1993 they remixed William Orbit's Water From A Vine Leaf, an epic track even before Darren Emerson got his hands on it. Part 1 is twelve minutes long, massive chunky drums and a synth horn sample, the bassline coming to the fore at points and then the piano riff leading the way. In the second half the piano becomes a tinkling topline, Beth Orton's vocal appears and it's all very much perfect 90s progressive house. 

Part 2 starts out slow, Beth's voice chopped up and a stuttering synth part dropping in and out. Gradually it slips into a groove, the elements building up in layers, Karl Hyde's guitar on top, but it's a very chilled and dubbed out affair