Tuesday 27 July 2010

Clandestine Classic VI - Freeze The Atlantic

The sixth 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.

Today, a single from Derby's favourite sons, Cable. And not only that, a single that was used in an advert! Despite my previous posts rants on this subject (this and this, for starters), the ad status isn't enough to stop this from being a clandestine classic. But I digress. What can I tell you about Cable? Not too much, actually. All I know about them, aside from this record, has been gleaned straight from their Wikipedia entry and the rather excellent fan site, Sub-lingual, both of which you can read for yourselves with no help from me, if you're interested.

But what about the record? Well, Freeze The Atlantic was released in 1997, having been snagged from the album When Animals Attack by the marketing men at Sprite. Yes, this loping, fuzzy-guitar-driven indie groove was used to flog cans of anaemic citrus toss. And, as far as I know, the band let this happen for free, in the hope that the attendant publicity and chart sales would be worth it in terms of long-term success. Really. To their enduring credit, the band were aware enough to acknowledge that this might not work out for them - the B-side of the eventual single release was called The [We Did The Music For The Sprite Ad] Blues. Oh, and they held fire on releasing the single until after the advert had stopped doing the rounds on TV. Not much after, but after nonetheless - this seems pretty classy to me. But there I go, digressing again...

Has the song aged well? You decide. The "soundalike" references always cited for Cable are Sonic Youth and Fugazi but when I hear this I always imagine some kind of Pixies/Beta Band hybrid, and that can only be a good thing, right? As for the rest of their output, I cannot say - this is, and is likely to remain, the only Cable record I will ever own. And you can own it too - you can still pick up a copy of When Animals Attack, whilst the more unscrupulous amongst you may be interesting in this. And if neither of those floats your boat, there's always YouTube...

Friday 16 July 2010

Latitude problem

The Latitude Festival started last night. I've been for the last few years and utterly loved it but, for personal reasons that I won't elaborate on here, I won't be going this year. Sniff. Shame because I can't think of a better festival, or at least not one that is better suited to me. Oh well. So instead of listening to Florence and the Machine, Belle and Sebastian, The Coral, Paul Heaton, The National, Corinne Bailey Rae, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kristin Hersh or any of the other bands I would have been looking forward to... instead of listening to Bret Easton Ellis, Wendy Cope, Peter Hook being interviewed by Keith Allen, the debate on identity featuring Billy Bragg and Mark Thomas... instead of laughing with Emo Philips and Mark Watson... instead of all these things I would have liked to have seen, and all the other interesting stuff you inevitably stumble upon at Latitude, I will be pulling down a ceiling and learning, the sharp way, how to plaster.

Life changes, doesn't it?

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Separated at birth?

Steve 'Lips' Kudlow - Anvil frontman and heavy metal also-ranCarles Puyol - Spanish defender and World Cup heroI had the good fortune to see Anvil! The Story of Anvil on the uniformly excellent BBC Four recently. It's often described as a real-life Spinal Tap, and I get the comparison but it's much more than that: it's a conflict between hope and experience that leaves you rooting for two friends who have never given up on their dream, even when that dream has never been so far away. Good stuff, and an engaging way to spend 90 minutes of your time. Steve "Lips" Kudlow (left), the Anvil frontman, embodies tragedy and comedy in equal measure.

Then, at the weekend, I watched the World Cup final, and the footballing gods were appeased by a victory for Spanish skill over Dutch defiance (and by defiance I mean harsh, sometimes brutal, tackling). Hooray for me, because I had Spain in the sweepstake at work and so now am quids-in. But during the game I noticed Spanish defensive stalwart Carles Puyol (right), and couldn't help but wonder: have he and and Lips ever been seen together? Or even in different places at the same time? Does the Catalan Cavalier secretly front an obscure and largely unsuccessful Canadian metal band?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

News in briefs

One of the best things about going to get a takeaway is that, whilst waiting for my duck in black bean sauce to be cooked, I have a few minutes free to catch up on the world of the tabloid press. Yes, I'll pass the time by reading a dog-eared copy of, invariably, The Sun. Now my newspaper of choice these days is usually The Guardian or, occasionally, the FT Weekend, but every now and then it's good to remind yourself just what gets reported in this section of the media, and how.

You'll be relieved to learn that red-blooded males can get an editorial-style comment on the news of the day from Page 3 - the traditional "Sam, 19, from Essex" has been replaced by a little sidebar entitled "News In Briefs" in which a viewpoint is attributed, presumably by a ghost-writing Murdoch hack, to the super-soaraway-stunna. I'm sure the humour does not go over the head of the average Sun reader at all... and even if it does, who cares, they are, in context, genuinely quite funny. Here are some examples from three takeaway trips earlier in the year.

19th February: poor Amy is worried about spiralling public debt.
20th April: Sam notes Biblical proportions of the Icelandic ash cloud.
26th May: Hollie reassures us all about budget cuts.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Clandestine Classic V - Cuban Slide

The fifth 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.

Today, a b-side from everyone's favourite 70s Anglo-US hybrid, The Pretenders. Formed in 1978 and and fronted by Chrissie Hynde, The Pretenders have weathered a lot of storms but are still going strong - they were excellent at Latitude last year and their last album, Break Up The Concrete, garnered excellent reviews (including this one, oddly, from genre-fiction master Stephen King) - their best effort for 20 years, some were saying. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, my older brother was a big Blondie fan, for musical and (I suspect) hormonal reasons. Then, as now, I much preferred brunettes, and so it was Hynde who drew my attention.

What's the first record you bought? I mean, actually properly bought, by which I mean you went to the record shop (without your parents), rifled through the racks, selected a record and paid for it with your own money. In other words, you have to discount records that were given to you, or that were bought for you. My subconscious mind is probably forgetting something by Abba for the purposes of making me feel cooler than I actually am, but I think the first record I actually properly bought for myself was Talk Of The Town by The Pretenders, a song I still love today, with its meandering guitar line and the variety of expression in Chrissie's voice. It's one of The Pretenders' best known songs - hardly clandestine. But its b-side is a hidden gem. Cuban Slide is, as I think Hynde once described it, the Pretenders' Bo Diddley number, with an elementary riff that nevertheless burrows its way into your musical soul. And its refrain, with the line "I want to dance, but my feet won't let me" would come to resonate with me more and more as life moved on, through teenage parties, nights clubbing, wedding reception discos, 40th birthday bashes...

For your shopping pleasure, you can pick up Cuban Slide on the remastered and repackaged Best Of album (which, from the looks of it, comes bundled with the new album too - what a bargain!) Naughty downloading boys and girls may prefer this file. And whilst I couldn't find the studio version on there, YouTube does at least offer up a live rendition of Cuban Slide... and here it is.