Thursday, 22 December 2011

Clandestine Classic XXI - Between John & Yoko

Magic SeedThe 21st post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

It's Christmastime, there's no need to be afraid. Because whilst I did consider featuring a festive clandestine classic, I figured my last post covered that, so let's crack on with a conventional choice. Actually, being conventional seems slightly at odds with also being clandestine, but let's not get ourselves sidetracked with semantics.

I don't know much about Easy, other than that they hailed from Sweden. In the early 90s I picked a Mute compilation album (International, it was called) out of the bargain bin and today's classic, Between John & Yoko by Easy, was on it. Far and away the best track on the compilation, I played it to death and immediately set about tracking down the album from which Between John & Yoko was taken. That album, pictured left, was called Magic Seed, a title that might suggest psychedelia (particularly when accompanied by that fractal cover). However, the album is actually a far rockier affair than you might expect, featuring (and I'm quoting Documentary Evidence here) "hypnotic vocals, grinding bass, oceans of melodic guitars and solid drumming". Poor drummer - just solid...

But anyway. Magic Seed was released in 1990, and is a uniformly good album. Not spectacular, but definitely good. Between John & Yoko is the stand-out track though, by some margin. Listening to it again for this post, I find that yes, I can tick off the hypnotic vocals, grinding bass, melodic guitar and even the solid drumming. But there's more going on too. Wilfully obtuse lyrics - 21 years later, I'm still not entirely sure what they're about. Danceability (okay, yes, admittedly only danceable for the sort of indie-kid who bounces about at club nights with names like Popscene). And too many influences to count: I think I spot some early REM sounds in there; I imagine I can hear some Marr-esque rhythm-guitar-as-lead touches; the singer has listenend to some Robert Smith too, I fancy; and so it goes on.

I think Magic Seed was Easy's only album, which is a bit of a shame. Luckily, you can still find it on Amazon, so I suggest you go and buy it now. Like last month's Furniture track, I didn't expect to find too much for the file sharers amongst you, and again I wasn't wrong. But YouTube at least lets you listen to this clandestine classic, and sample a flavour of an incredible album. I particularly love the video's very literal visual interpretation. Hmm. Between John & Yoko - how could we dramatise that? Enjoy.

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