Thursday, 31 March 2022

More new to NA ... but quite old actually

I heard this on 6 Music earlier in the week, on Gideon Coe's show. "Ooh, I like that," thought I, "I wonder who it's by?"

Turns out it's Red Sleeping Beauty by McCarthy, who Wikipedia describes as "a British indie pop band, formed in Barking, Greater London ... [that] mixed a melodic style, dominated by ... 12-string guitar playing, with ... overtly political lyrics, often satirical in tone, which reflected the band's far-left leanings."

Oh, and they formed in 1984, and released this single in 1986, so new to me but not new at all. Whatever. I might be very late to the picnic, but I quite like this.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

That's a lie. You're a liar.

As a few fines start to get dished out, it's important to remember that a leader's behaviour, attitudes and principles set the tone for their organisation. That's true whether the organisation is a political party, a government or a nation. Whatever the outcome, don't forget this, and don't forget Johnson's chronic mendacity.

Johnson is a chronic liar

I had the album the following comes from, 1989's Son of Sam I Am by Too Much Joy, on vinyl, bought on a whim in Parrot Records because it was reduced to clear. Think I might have taped The Man of Cheese a copy, I wonder if he remembers it? Anyway, this track, for all its musical shortomings, fits our glorious leader well.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Super-short gig reviews

Went to see this old man live at the weekend, for what I think was the seventh or possibly eighth time. It was very good. He played quite a few songs from one of his old bands, and a couple by the other. The place was absolutely rammed, as full as I can remember. Oh, and there ought to be a collective noun for a gathering of middle-aged mods. Anyway, he's brilliant, see him live anywhere you can. Here endeth the review.

Paul Weller Setlist Nick Rayns LCR, UEA, Norwich, England 2022

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Sunday shorts: Koka Kola

They packed a lot of lyrics into these 109 seconds... and they're not about the sugary beverage that comes in red cans...

Friday, 25 March 2022

Blue Friday: The Book of Love

I wrote a post last month about This Is Going To Hurt, the TV adaptation of Adam Kay's bestselling book. I wrote at the time that everything looked set fair for the Beeb's version and, having since watched the whole series, I'm happy to report that my forecast was accurate. There were changes from the book, but these were probably necessary; fortunately, the TV version found a different way to be heartbreaking. And that's important because, whilst the series might have received criticism from some for being too bleak, and with too little humour to offset the darkness, I think it's important that the key message of Kay's book is preserved: the NHS is full of brilliant, talented, dedicated people, working hard to look after us all, often in trying and underfunded circumstances, often working ridiculous hours under enormous pressure. All of this was true before COVID; I dread to think what a pressure cooker an acute hospital must be at the moment. And this takes its toll; in real life, the unrelenting pressure became too much for Kay, and he reluctantly walked away. In the TV adaptation ... well, no spoilers. But an astonishing statistic comes out towards the end that I can't attribute to a published source but have no reason to doubt: one doctor takes their own life in this country every three weeks. Every. Three. Weeks. This is the effect of what the dramatised version of Kay describes as working "in a broken system, under shoddy conditions." I could turn this post into a political piece about how this government are after the NHS, through years of chronic underfunding and privatisation by stealth, contracting bits out to their mates ... but you know that already. Just be ready for them, that's all I need to say on that. The NHS should be sacrosanct but, under this administration, isn't.

Anyway, my first post about this TV series enthused about the excellent soundtrack, and that has been very good throughout. The last episode featured this beauty, from The Magnetic Fields. You might not think it a blue track, but it is to me.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Unnecessary covers

This won't become a series, though it could easily. But it's prompted by hearing No Doubt's cover of It's My Life on the radio one day last week. I mean ... just, why? I've got nothing against Gwen and co but unless you're going to radically reimagine the song somehow, why bother trying to cover such a peerless, timeless classic? It's like playing chess against Garry Kasparov - you're not going to win.

You can go and search for the cover if you like, but I prefer to give Talk Talk's source material another airing:

How about you? What cover version makes you holler at the radio, "Just play the original!"? Or is it just me that does that?

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: Elvis Costello

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's back to episode 2 of series 2, broadcast 4th November 1983, and a performance from Elvis Costello that ran significantly past the end of the show. Here he is with Shipbuilding, Everyday I Write The Book, Clubland, Clowntime Is Over. After the show had finished, he carried on and played TKO too, but that's missing from this video I'm afraid.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Monday long song: I Will Possess Your Heart

We've all been there, haven't we? In love with someone who doesn't feel the same, no matter how hard you try to win them over? Well, Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie knows. Are a four and a half minute intro, during which an ear-worm bassline and ever-growing percussion build a sense of expectation and unease, Gibbard launches into what, on the face of it, could be an ode to unrequited love and yearning, but strays uncomfortably close to stalker territory, with lines about seeing his reflection in the glass outside your apartment. Unsettling, memorable stuff; I will possess your heart, indeed.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Sunday shorts: Oxford Town

Early 60s Dylan song is short shocker! So what? Well, Oxford Town was composed in response to an open invitation from Broadside magazine for songs about one of the top news events of 1962: the enrollment of a black student, James Meredith, at the previously segregated University of Mississippi. Here's Marion Trikosko's photograph of James being escorted into the university by U.S. Marshal James McShane (left) and John Doar of the Justice Department (right).

James Meredith OleMiss.jpg

You can read more about James here, and also about the riots that his university enrolment sadly triggered.

As for the song competition, among other submissions the magazine received was Phil Ochs' Ballad of Oxford, Mississippi. But that's too long for a Sunday short, so here's Bob's effort, the lyrics to which were printed by Broadside in December 1962.

Friday, 18 March 2022

Blue Friday: Your House

There's a reason why Jagged Little Pill sold a pajillion copies - it's bloody good. I resisted it at the time, of course, being the parochial indie snob that I was1. Who was this young Canadian woman with a history of mainstream pop, suddenly going angsty, I thought? Popping up everywhere with her list of things that weren't actually ironic? As you can tell, I was unimpressed.

However...

I picked Pill up for 50p in a charity shop recently and it really does justify those pajillion sales (okay, 33 million and counting) - it's uniformly excellent, and has even aged well, if you can put the slew of lesser soundalikes it begat out of your head.

But anyway, Blue Friday. This is the hidden track from the end of original CD versions of the album, an a capella rendition which, like much of the album, deals with the pain of being betrayed in a relationship.

1 Was? Was?!

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Stop the world...

Here's another Ukraine benefit record. I know precisely zero about The Incurables, other than this which just popped up in my Bandcamp feed. And it's alright, actually, if you like 80s-vintage Buck Rickenbacker guitar lines and 70s-vintage Feargal Sharkey vocals, if he came from somewhere other than Derry. It's thirty seconds too long, but other than that, it has a jaunty, power pop sound that is totally at odds with the devastation wreaked by Mad Vlad's war. What more reason do you need? Here's the track; proceeds go to help provide humanitarian and medical aid in Ukraine.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: R.E.M.

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's from episode 3 of series 4, broadcast 25th October 1985, and a second live performance on The Tube for R.E.M. ... Michael's in his dyed-blonde phase, and Peter and Bill have matching outfits (remember unbuttoned shirt sleeves like that?). Fables of the Reconstruction had only been out for four months, so it's no surprise to see Can't Get There From Here get an airing. I will go to Philomath one day...

Monday, 14 March 2022

Monday long song: Of All Places

I've been listening to The Holiday Crowd again lately. You should too; you could do a lot worse, you know.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

Sunday shorts: The Letter

Apparently Alex Chilton was only 16 when they recorded this. Imagine that. His voice sounds older.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Remember that ICA?

90% of readers here probably read JC, aka The (New) Vinyl Villain too. So you all know about his Imaginary Compilation Album series, whereby he and guest contributors get to make fantasy playlists for their favourite artists, as - you've guessed it - imaginary compilation albums.

Way back when (okay, it was February 2017), I contributed one such ICA for a band that had not yet featured in the series: Radiohead. It's here, if you want to read what I rambled at the time. Anyway... given my suddenly renewed interest in creating mixes as streamable casts (or should that be castable streams?), I thought I'd have a go at turning that ICA into a nice seamless mix. So here it is, until such time as it gets DMCA'ed, I guess, complete with sleeve art. And stick around after the last song - the original ICA was only ten tracks, but maybe there's a hidden track on the end of this...

Rather have it as a download? Here you go.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Blue Friday: Pale Blue Eyes

Velvets cover by Athens' finest, recorded at the end of a long and, if sleevenotes are to be believed, alcohol-assisted session. Peter's woozy, bluesy solo testifies to that. Whatever, it's sad and lovely, is it not?

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

To cast or not to cast

It's getting on for nearly four years since I last did a mix like this (the below is from June 2018, and I was very excited about it at the time because it has some clunky cross-fading). Should I do some more? Or is it, like the blog as whole, just me shouting into the ambivalent ears of the world?

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: Furniture

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's something very special from episode 22 of series 4, broadcast 7th March 1986, Forget the intro from Paula, in which she looks like Princess Di's dirty sister, and concentrate instead on this beautiful performance of I Miss You and Brilliant Mind by Furniture, yet to release their excellent debut album The Wrong People. This is really a cut above your standard Friday teatime fare, then as now... despite two duff piano chords in the first song. Collect them both!

Monday, 7 March 2022

Monday long song: Radiation

This, by I Am Kloot, is from one of my favourite albums of the 21st Century, 2010's Sky At Night. I keep thinking about writing a post on the top X albums of the new millenium, but the longer I leave it the harder (and less relevant) that idea becomes. So in the meantime, here's a long song for your Monday, in the hope that Mad Vlad does not irradiate us any time soon.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Sunday shorts: Very Ape

In Utero might just be a better album than Nevermind. Don't @ me, as I believe the youth might say. But do comment your views below, if you like.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

A Gedge raffle to support Ukraine

A week ago last Thursday, I posted a track by Wedding Present spin-off The Ukrainians. Well, here's another thing in a similar light - David Gedge is running a raffle to win some terrific Ukrainians-themed prizes ... well, I'll let him explain, shall I?

Support the people of Ukraine and win yourself Wedding Present rarities!

Between 1987 and 1989 The Wedding Present, in a completely unforeseen move, famously recorded three sessions for John Peel performing Ukrainian folk music. For the recordings, which were as accomplished as they were surprising, the band was augmented by Roman Remeynes and [The Legendary] Len Liggins.

You can now purchase a download of one of those tracks, the seven and a half minute long classic, Verkhovyno, here.

All profits from this download will be donated to charities benefitting the Ukrainian people.

Not only that, each download comes with a free raffle ticket with which you could possibly win one of the prizes listed below. The download costs £1 but, if you pay more, you will be allocated more raffle tickets. For example, if you spend £10, ten raffle tickets will be allotted to you.

The prize draw will take place at 7PM GMT on Friday 11 March 2022.

The prizes

  1. An original 1989 pressing of the Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela 10” mini-LP. This is a copy of the rare Reception Records version which was never officially released. Signed by David Gedge.
  2. An original 1989 RCA Records pressing of the Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela 10” mini-LP. Signed by David Gedge.
  3. A "for-promotional-use-only" 7” single of two tracks from the sessions. Only a handful of these were ever pressed. Signed by David Gedge.

Lyrics

Verkhovyno is one of the most popular folk songs in Ukraine. It describes the natural beauty of Verkhovyna, which is both a village and a region in the stunning Carpathian Mountains. The area has a rich cultural and historical tradition and has now become a popular tourist destination for Ukrainians. The song describes a remote and peaceful place, where the waters of the River Cheremosh flow freely and happily. It is a metaphor for the peace that Ukrainians crave to this day, following a turbulent history of invasion, oppression and cultural suppression.

Verkhovyno

Oh, highlands, our world
Oh, how charming it is here
The waters play and time flows
Freely, noisily and happily
Oh, there is no boundary on these highlands!
I can walk there for at least an hour
From peak to peak and from wood to wood
With light thoughts in your heart
A gun in your belt and an axe in your hand
It can make a young man's blood soar!
River Cheremosh, River Cheremosh
Your waters run quickly!
Young girl from Verkhovyna
How exquisite is your beauty!
And I like that girl
Who is as white as a goose
She will kiss me
I only have to stay

Credits

Released March 4, 2022
Traditional, arranged Gedge (Copyright Control)
Performed by The Wedding Present
Recorded: 15 March 1988 at BBC Maida Vale Studio 4 (London, England)
First broadcast: 5 April 1988
Producer: Dale Griffin
Recording engineer: Mike Robinson
Mastering engineer: Xavi Alarcón

As if you need any more incentive, the track is an absolute belter, gathering speed in just the way you want a Ukrainian folk tune to gather speed. So what are you waiting for? Go and buy your raffle ticket!

Friday, 4 March 2022

Blue Friday: Slow Torture of an Hourly Wage

I know, I'm turning into something of a Reds, Pinks and Purples evangelist, but this is good, so ...

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

New Mornings

Resuming the aforementioned review and partial cull of my excessive CD collection, I came across a freebie CD entitled New Mornings that was originally cover-mounted on September 2013's Uncut magazine. Like most such CDs, it's a real mixed bag and, as it turns out, doesn't have enough about it to save it from being donated to the charity shop. However, there are a couple of songs notable for artists apparently channelling other artists. For starters, here's Period Piece by Lloyd Cole; it may be an original composition from his 2013 album Standards, but for all the world it sounds like the greatest Bob Dylan song The Byrds never covered. Doesn't it?

And then there's Forgive You, Forgive Me, from Stephen Kellogg's album Blunderstone Rookery. This is the only song by Kellogg I have, or have even heard, but I'd hazard a guess he's a Tom Petty fan... now this isn't the album version, but it's close enough for you to see what I mean.

Anyway, these are the best tracks on the album by a margin, but they're not enough to save it from the "going" pile. Going, going, gone.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Tube Tuesday: The Housemartins' Big Match special

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's from episode 16 of series 4, broadcast 24th January 1986, and a filmed performance from The Housemartins, notable for its Big Match premise and an intro from none other than Saint and Greavsie. This is such a time capsule, and I don't just mean the Commer van they drive around in, or the football stadium and dressing room. "Housemartins AFC" get to spoof The Beatles' "Which top? The very top!" schtick, run through an a capella version of We Shall Not Be Moved, before a mimed performance of an early recording of We're Not Deep, notably different from the version that later appeared on deut album London 0 Hull 4 - all in all, solid bronze music television.