Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Peel Session Week #2: The Hepburns - 17th April 1989



Another session that I taped without knowing anything about the band, but The Hepburns had a good name (not to be confused with the later all-girl pop-rock monstrosity Hepburn) so I took a punt.

Excellent it was too, but their records seemed devlishly hard to find - in fact I don’t think any of these session tracks were ever officially released apart from "Where You Belong" which turned up on a fanzine flexi.

The band hold a special place in my heart because on my first day at University in Leeds I discovered Jumbo Records and was astounded to find one their records ("Electrified 12") which I snapped up and took back to my room. I listened to it non-stop and even now I can smell Jasmine joss sticks when I hear those songs. Aaah! Isn't it amazing the things a simple piece of music can do?

The band seemed to have been rejuvenated at the turn of the century and have released quite a lot of stuff since then - check it all out here

The Hepburns - Peel Session 17th April 1989

01 Believe Me
02 Tonight The World Of Entertainment
03 Where You Belong
04 You Must Have Had It All

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peel Session Week #1: Benny Profane - 6th June 1988



Benny Profane were a band that I saw play many times in the late eighties/early nineties and they never failed to impress. I remember one particularly strange gig seeing them support Echo & The Bunnymen (the debut gig of the Mac-less Echoes Of The Bunnymen line-up) in Bootle, surrounded by a who's who of the Liverpool music scene. I thought Benny Profane stole the show that night as they played a storming set with the air of a band who knew they had nothing to lose

This Peel Session came just after I first saw the video for their single "Rob A Bank" on the late night ITV indie music program (the name of which escapes me but was consistently excellent). The single was scheduled to come out on Ediesta Records but disappeared, along with so many other releases when the Red Rhino distribution network collapsed.

The band then released two albums in quick succession (both featured new versions of two tracks each from this session) and boom..split up.

I love all four songs on this session but Dave Jackson's lyrics on track 4 slay me every time..a true unsung indie hero


When he grabbed the microphone
He knocked his front teeth right out
And that was the last time
He sang without dentures


Benny Profane - Peel Session 6th April 1988

01 Beam Me Up
02 Everything
03 Rob A Bank
04 Quickdraw McGraw Meets Dead-Eye Dick

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Guns 'n Fucking Roses

No mp3 today as I'm taking the eldest to Leeds Festival to see his heroes Guns 'N Roses, which of course I won't enjoy in the slightest..hem hem..

So instead I'll pay homage with a link to one of my favourite cheesy rock videos of ALL TIME.

In all seriousness I love this video so much, all 9 minutes of it and you have to really watch it all a few times to appreciate each and every nuance. Every viewing brings something new to the experience. Beneath the video are my revision notes that will help you pass your GCSE in Hair Metal Video..



00:01 So here we have Axl going to bed (alone) because he's got a headache. Stubs out his fag & chugs a couple of nurofen. Shh! Axl tired!

00:20 Axl begins to dream that he is doing a special gig with an orchestra. Of course this would never happen because he's not a pussy.

00:40 Or is he REALLY alone in a tiny empty wooden church with just a baby grand piano for company? Lay off the cheese before bed Axl!

01:00 Oh no! The tiny wooden church has disintegrated!

01:20 Ooh dear it IS a bad dream. Even jesus is crying..Axl tosses anxiously

01:40 Now it's a proper big church and is that Axl's bride or a slutty kissogram walking down the aisle?

02:20 Axl is dreaming about marrying a woman a good foot taller than him

02:40 Now they're all smoking tabs in the backroom of The Rainbow. That would be totally illegal today of course!

02:50 Axl has a little snog

03:05 Meanwhile back in the big church..oh shit! Slash has only gone and lost the ring!

03:10 Fear not - Duff McKagan has a spare one on his be-gloved left pinky. Phew!

03:25 Axl performs a wedding faux-pas by over-shadowing the bride's ring with his own enormous and flamboyant eagle claw ring. Oops!

03:30 "You may kiss the bride" Axl has a MASSIVE snog. I found it more than a little innapproriate as you can clearly see him aggressively tongueing her. Please..there are children watching!

03:40 Now his bit is done Slash decides he's had enough and stomps off down the aisle in a moody sulk

04:00 But suddenly 3 absolute miracles happen! Slash loses his hat, Slash gains a guitar and the big church shrinks to the size of a tiny shed in the middle of the desert!

04:05 Oh hang on miracle #4 Slash has also lost his shirt!

04:10 Miracle #5 Slash is now smoking a cigarette that not only appeared from nowhere but how did he light it in that wind without burning his hair?

04:25 Massively emotional guitar solo. But where is your amp Slash? No amps in the desert Slash!

05:00 The solo is still going on and no one has dared tell Slash he's not plugged in yet

05:05 Meanwhile back at the real church, Axl and his slutty bride get pelted with confetti. They like it!

05:30 Slash is STILL going

05:40 Is that Axl we see in the darkness leaving a gun shop? What have you got planned Axl you naughty boy!

06:00 Here we are now at the reception and Mr & Mrs Axl have changed. She now looks like she's going to a funeral. Axl looks like..actually fuck knows what Axl thinks he looks like. A flouncy bluecoat at Butlins maybe?

06:10 They cut the cake and Axl makes her lick the knife. Lick it! Health and Safty fail.

06:20 The lads have a toast to Axl and his new wife. Slash looks a bit miffed. He's still not forgotten about the futile solo in the desert incident.

06:45 Everyone's having a lovely time (excpet Slash) but..bloody typical - it's started raining! Like in that song November Rain geddit? Who gets married in November? It always rains in November. Quick hide under the tables.

07:00 My 100% favourite bit of the whole video - for absolutely NO REASON Izzy Stradlin jumps into the wedding cake.

07:10 What now Axl's wife is DEAD? Nooooo!

07:15 Slash checks that he's definitely plugged in this time and decides to show Axl whose boss by playing the next solo stood on top of Axl's grand piano.

07:20 Hmm - suspiciously less people at Mrs Axl's funeral than were at her wedding. Axl is probably meant to look like he's crying but he just looks like he's got a sweaty face.

07:22 Close-up of the coffin and she is half-obscured by a mirror - suggesting something particularly unpleasant must have happened to the left side of her head. What did you do to her Axl you monster!

07:50 Slash is still stood on that piano

08:10 Sombre burial sequence

08:22 Oh bloody bollocks! It's only started raining AGAIN. People have umbrellas this time.

08:30 I love this bit - Axl is stroking his piano to an orgasmic frenzy. Two-handed technique..nice

08:35 Someone has clearly just said "sod this..pub anyone?"

08:40 Axl wakes from his dream (this time he really is sweaty) as his wife throws the bouquet. The petals turn from white to red and it lands on her coffin

09:00 The cold november rain washes the red dye from the petals and Axl cries. They weren't even real red flowers!

09:05 The end. What can it all mean?

=============

To get slightly back on topic after this little diversion, next week will be officially Peel Session week, where I'll bring you seven of my favourite (unreleased) John Peel Sessions. Watch this space

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Best Gig I Ever Done See #6 - Bettie Serveert




Bettie Serveert
Derby Wherehouse November 1992


It's been quite a while since I added to the Best Gigs I Ever Done See list, suggesting that I've probably not seen that many good gigs. On the contrary, I just have a terrible memory. In fact one of the reasons I do this blog is because I suspect one day I won't even remember my own name.

My ailing memory embarasses me already because I can't remember the specific details of this particular gig. I had it in my head that
Bettie Serveert supported Buffalo Tom on this occasion, but some rudimentary googling shows that gig must have been the following year, so the best I can come up with is that they must have been supporting Belly?

That would make sense as they had just released their album "Palomine" on the short-lived 4AD off-shoot label Guernica and Belly were 4AD darlings of the UK music press at the time.

This was one of those special gigs where everyone in the audience was stunned by how good the previously unknown support band was. When they ambled on stage they couldn't have looked more Dutch - terrible hair, terrible clothes, terribly unfashionable guitars (it was almost unthinkable in 1992 that an indie band should have a Gibson Les Paul not a Fender Jaguar) and the singer wasn't even that good-looking. Yet they played their hearts out and you could see people in the crowd turning to each other exchanging nods of appreciation as they gradually won everyone over.

There was a real rush on their album at Way Ahead Records the next day and although there isn't a bad track on there this is still my favourite song of theirs.

Bettie Serveert - Brain Tag

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Cygnet Ring





I absolutely loved this song by The Cygnet Ring when it came out and fully expected it to be a huge hit. The label were flogging copies cheap in the major chain record stores and it was getting plenty of radio play, but the chart smash I predicted never materialised. I was actively mocked by at least one friend for thinking this was a great pop song but I still stand by it today. The single version at least..



Going back to my earlier post about my penchant for 12" remixes, there was a textbook example of an extended remix gone bad for this single.

The Cygnet Ring - Love Crime [12'' Extended Mix]

It seems like they ripped the heart out of the song and replaced it with a hip and trendy baggy beat. It's not that bad (you'd have to be going some to ruin a tune like this) but it just seemed a bit half-arsed. According to the credits this was the early work of Guy Fixsen who worked with almost every shoe-gazing band of note and went on to be part of the excellent Laika so can be forgiven for this remix folly.

NB - yes I know I've labelled this post as 80's 12" Mixes and this came out in the early 90's but it's all the same to me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Duglas T. Stewart



I was only ever a casual fan of BMX Bandits, but when a friend played me singer, Duglas Stewart's solo album "Frankenstein" in 1997 it struck a chord that endeared it to me forever.

Although it's largely made up of cover versions, the concept of the album is based around the break-up with the mother of his child and the conflicts, self-doubt and general feelings of worthlessness that single fathers can feel. Like I say, it struck a chord.

Opening with a cover of Benmont Tench's "Unbreakable Heart" (one of the saddest songs ever - and one I might blog at a later date. Maybe when I get round to Country & Western Week), the emotional tone is set from the out.

But it's Duglas' own song "Stupid" that really forms the centrepiece of the album. I guess it has a similar kind of feel to Sinatra's "I Would Be In Love Anyway" as mentioned in my Watertown blog entry. That feeling that no matter how wrong things have gone, there is still a part of you that would do it all again - just to have the good times. How can you regret any relationship that bears a child without letting down that child?

Duglas Stewart - Stupid

The wikipedia page for Duglas currently says that he lives in Glasgow with his daughter, so I hope that means it all worked out for him.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eggs



Another nostalgic moment - this time the early summer of 1994. I was on a fortnight-long UNIX course in Darley Dale and travelling every day on the Derby to Matlock train through the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. I'd just picked up a cassette copy of the new album by a band called Eggs so that I could listen to something new on the old tape Walkman and it soundtracked my journey brilliantly.

By coincidence, Darley Dale is also the village where both my Parents grew up and my Grandparents still lived there. My Grandad was pretty poorly and in the Whitworth Hospital at the time which was right opposite the offices where I was doing the course, so I had a routine going. Train-Eggs-Course-Hospital at lunchtime-Course-Train-Eggs. There's not been enough trombone players in the indie genre..Eggs, Bridewell Taxis..any more?

I'm sure I must have listened to more than just this one album but I don't remember anything else. My Grandad died later that summer, and I was glad to have spent a bit of time with him when I did, cos he was a great bloke (aren't most Grandads?). I hope to be one too some day.

So this is also for my son Evan who was born 3 months ago.

Eggs - Evanston, Il

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kevin Coyne



Ask me who the greatest singer was to ever come out of Derby and without a doubt my answer would be Kevin Coyne. An amazing blues singer but his talent went far and beyond that. Much loved by John Peel, he still seemed to languish in relative obscurity right up until his death a few years back. Even then there didn't seem to be quite the posthumous wave of interest that seems to wash over most artists when they pass away. I still find it hard to believe that we were born in the same city and grew up walking the same streets.

My favourite Coyne song by far was later covered by Bonnie Prince Billy on an obscure Spanish label (not a bad version but not a patch on the original) and is one of the most beautifully optimistic lyrics ever. It never fails to cheer me up.

Said, now smile everybody, don't you see it's gone
I'm surrounded by good spirits day and night time long
And when I walk, I walk like I've just been born
All because the lord let the sun shine down on me


Kevin Coyne - Sun Shines Down on Me

Another favourite, this one is much more obscure being self-released in 1984, lost amidst the mid-eighties musical landscape where singing cryptic songs about cycling were never going to hit the spot.

Kevin Coyne - Cycling

Much more Coyne to download on this dedicated blog offering bootlegs and more obscurities.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Warfare



Yesterday I promised something a bit less tame so here it is.

Warfare  were a punk metal band from Newcastle that I must have first heard on Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show in the early 1980's (did I previously explain my pre-teen flirtation with all things ROCK?).

Frankie Goes To Hollywood were Top Of The Pops and dominated playground conversations with the cool kids, so I instantly took delight in hearing Warfare destroy a Frankie song in such an uncompromising manner. In fact I think I can trace my love affair with cover versions in general back to this one record. I played this very loudly out of my bedroom window for as long as my parents would tolerate. I suggest you do the same.

Warfare - Two Tribes (Metal Noise Mix)

Note that this isn't a remix - the (Metal Noise Mix) tag is probably just a joke aimed at the various different remixes of Two Tribes that Frankie were endlessly churning out at the time.

The b-sides (both originals) were also great hunking slabs of Motorhead-esque metal, as was the first album, but I was surprised to see when I looked them up recently that a Best Of CD  came out a few years back Metal Anarchy which didn't include this cover version for some inexplicable reason, despite it being their most widely-known single. Oh and they had a singing drummer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Joe Henry



Sometimes people appear in your life from nowhere, work little miracles and then disappear just as quickly as they arrived. 1999 was one of those years and there are a handful of records which never fail to take me back there. One of the strangest years of my life, where everything felt hopelessly out of focus but progressed towards a sort of crash-zoom right at the end and suddenly everything made sense again.

Erm..where was I? What I'm trying to say is that today's piece of music came from one particular little miracle worker that one particular year.

I'd never even heard of Joe Henry when I received a copy of "Fuse" as a gift (it's still the only album of his I know but looking at his CV the follow-up "Scar" seems to be worth a punt. Featuring Marc Ribot and Ornette Coleman you say? How did I miss that!) and he's still as relatively unknown in the UK now as he was back then. So it was one of those records that you go into not really caring too much about whether it's going to be any good or not. It was a present, I've never heard of him, here goes nothing..a nice surprise when it turned out to be great.

Hints of alt.country (before alt.country even existed as a bandwagon to circle?) and rhythms that were just...sexy. No two ways about it. Not in your face sexy, but laid back and relaxed sexy. Plus another deep-voice for me to swoon over. I don't really know what he's singing about half the time either but who cares. Sexy AND mysterious. (I read a description of Joe Henry as Tom Waits without the comedy voice, and I can sort of see what they mean..just)

I was never too sure about the cover though - a slightly camp-looking bloke with a monkey on his shoulder. Flashbacks to Skegness pier in the 1970's maybe?

Joe Henry - Like She Was A Hammer
Joe Henry - Angels

I fully realise that my love of this album may be due to the circumstances in which it appeared in my life - and some may think it is a bit tame, but fear not I will redress the balance tomorrow. Promise.

BUY IT

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Al Green



So today is my 2nd wedding anniversary and therefore I'm in a romantic mood and feeling very lucky with the way life has panned out.

For a while back there I had myself convinced that I would die alone and that it wasn't going to be anywhere near as cool as Morrissey had promised me when I was 16.

So hooray for me. This post is dedicated to the missus. She has many fantastic and lovely attributes but by far the most important one is that she seems capable of putting up with me. Long may she continue..

We both love a bit of Al Green and our eyes sometimes get a little damp when Let's Stay Together comes on, but that's a bit too obvious to post here. Instead we have three of, what I consider to be, his finest love songs.

First up is L.O.V.E (Love) - a cover of which was the A-side of the first Orange Juice single that I bought, and I didn't hear the original until quite a few years later.
Apparently Al Green was a big fan of the Orange Juice version!

Al Green - L-O-V-E (Love)

Next we have Simply Beautiful - quite possibly one of the most heartfelt vocal deliveries ever. The way he holds it back, like his heart is a balloon full of love and he's letting the air out as slowly as possible..just so he can savour every moment. Stunning.

Al Green - Simply Beautiful

And finally - because I'm incapable of an honest declaration of love without shoe-horning football into the equation, this is a love song to the other great love of my life. Here's to a better season this time around..

Al Green - I'm A Ram

xxxx

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ze Popes



Another gem I discovered whilst transferring the batch of 1979 John Peel Show tapes (as mentioned previously).

This time it's a Dutch band called Ze Popes and it got quite a few plays. My immediate reaction was that this could have been a Flight Of The Conchords song.

A totally daft and very literal celebration of the singer's sexy pjyamas, it's one of those songs that really seems to benefit from the fact the lyrics aren't being written in the authors first language. There really isn't much more to say...

Sexy pyjamas
They come out at night
They tickle my tummy
They're making me feel alright


Ze Popes - Sexy Pyjamas

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Perfect Disaster



The Perfect Disaster are one of those bands that seemed better known for their position in the great rock family tree than for their recorded output.

Singer Phil Parfitt went on to work with Jason Pierce from Spiritualized whilst bassist Josephine Wiggs joined The Breeders. So generally you would find their singles (usually cheap) at Record Fairs in the "Spacemen 3 and Related" or the "Pixies and Related" sections.

They were a strange band who seemed to operate in two song modes - out-and-out garage rockers and brooding ballads. As a listener I never really got on with the former but I've always been sucker for a deep voice singing a slow song and so I had a good compilation tape of the ones I liked and didn't bother with the fast ones. It was a REALLY good tape.

The three songs provided here represent this quiet side of the band perfectly and are all ripped from vinyl so excuse the crackles.

The Perfect Disaster - TV (Girl On Fire)
The Perfect Disaster - Elusive Dream
The Perfect Disaster - F Song

Oddly a cover version of TV (Girl On Fire) appeared as a bonus track on the reissue of Spacemen 3's "Playing With Fire" as just plain "Girl On Fire" and seems to be mainly Josephine Wiggs playing the cello riff over and over. Very strange.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ket Kolomper



Let's take another trip back in time to Leeds 1990 when the eternal support act seemed to be an odd bunch that went by the name of Ket Kolomper. For a while it seemed like whoever you saw play at The Duchess Of York - they would be first on the bill.

I suspect that most people will remember them purely for the fact that the "bass" player had an instrument that he'd made himself from a cricket bat, a single bass string and a hand-gripped pulley system.

It sounds like a piece of design genius and in a way it almost was. Worn like a guitar, he would pluck the string with a plectrum in his right hand and with the pulley in his left hand he would change the tension in the string to form different notes. I'm surprised it never caught on but it may have had something to do with the fact that, for the most part, it sounded bloody awful.

As far as I know (and let's face it they have a name just MADE for Google) this was their only official appearance on vinyl and luckily for me was the song I liked best from their set. A jolly sing-a-long recounting a drink-drive experience gone wrong.

Ket Kolomper - Morning Occifer

We saw them play a few years later and were disappointed to see that the cricket bat bass was long gone and the singer was quite dismissive of the old gimmick when we asked him about it. Maybe if he'd kept it they could have been huge..(but probably not)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Edward Barton



Edward Barton scares me. Pictures of him scare me, his voice scares me and his songs scare me.

Even his Wikipedia Biography scares me a little bit.

Yet scary as I find him, there is something oddly compelling about his songs. This is one of his more instructional numbers, as he teaches you how to be a successful musician. Simon Cowell (who scares me only marginally less) should be taking notes.

Edward Barton - Listen To Edward

If you like that then check out the videos if you're feeling brave (including his bizarre appearance on Wogan as a member of Tears For Fears..)

He apparently has released a new CD recently called And A Panda but I'm not sure if I dare listen to it. Someone tell me if it's any good.

As a bonus - and because I've not mentioned anything Ted Chippington-related for a long while, here is Ted's only marginally unnerving cover version of Barton's "Z-Bend"

Ted Chippington - Z-Bend

Monday, August 16, 2010

Crystal Leigh



It's hard to imagine that 12 years ago when we started our DIY record label AAS that we had a specific instruction on the web page that under NO circumstances were bands to send us mp3's via email. Not because we were technophobes but because we were on 56k dial-up modems and it could take up to an hour to download a single music file (which would be doubly annoying when it turned out to be a dreadful Italian soft rock ballad).

So it came to pass that we shared a PO Box with one of our up-and-coming bands Stumble (who evolved into the soon to be global Rock Gods LostAlone) and encouraged any like-minded fiercely-independent bands to send us their demos for consideration.

It didn't take long before the CD's started flooding in, but weirdly at least 90% of them seemed to be from bands/acts that clearly had absolutely no idea who we were or what kind of label we were trying to run.

Mat had a theory that we had made it into some sort of International Record Label Yellow Pages and being called AAS meant we were second in the list (after Aardvark Records presumably) when it came to bands looking for places to send their demos.

Every few weeks the drummer from Therapy? would drop off a big bag of CD's at my house and I would embark on Demo Night. Evetually Demo Night became a prominent fixture in the social calendar, as the opportunity to read excruciating biogs, look at horrific promotional photos, all soundtracked by some quite embarassing music was too good to miss.

Amazingly we did pick up two bands and release their albums via this process* but for me the most memorable highlight remains the glorious Crystal Leigh.

I would normally dispose of each batch of demos by passing them onto Mark & Mat to "enjoy" but Crystal Leigh was special. I kept the CDR and it still warms my heart to this day.

As you can see from the picture, Crystal is a cuddly blonde of a certain age, and the music is pure Europop. The tone of the lyrics suggested that Crystal was very much on-the market (possibly a recent divorcee?) and no stranger to internet dating. This is the killer track and the words are work of a genius as Crystal basically implores her man to send her a mucky email.

Crystal Leigh - E-Me

The other noteable thing about Crystal's demo was that her contact details were through her Manager "Susan Silver". I always assumed that Susan Silver was fictional character and/or Crystal's alter-ego, but if you look up "Susan Silver Management" on Google it tells you that she DOES exist and spent the 1990's managing Soundgarden. She doesn't mention poor Crystal at all - pah!


don't call or ring my mobile phone
just kiss me with your commas
click on me for fantasy
just e-me
dot the i's and cross the t's
fill my life with ecstasy
i'm your format love.com
just e-me


*less amazingly the combined sales of both these albums was very nearly in double figures..but check them out anyway as they are both brilliant.
The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken
L. Christian Lundholm

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lloyd Cole



One of the great era-defining pop marketing innovations of the 1980's for me is the 12" Mix

Now in the digital age - it's amazing how many of these extended mixes have been forgotten and remain hidden away on a slab of dusty vinyl somewhere. Artistically they usually held very little merit - as the artists themselves were rarely involved and most considered them a vulgar bastardisation of their original art. Which means that when albums get reissued in their deluxe 21st Century editions, the lost 12" mixes sometimes don't get a look in.

But artistic preciousness aside, as a listener I absolutely loved them, and surely that was the point?

This chap has an amazing blog which concentrates almost exclusively on high quality vinyl rips of 80's 12" mixes and is a veritable treasure trove

http://burningthegrounddjpault.wordpress.com

However - be warned there is a LOT of Sheena Easton and Olivia Newton John involved over there so steel yourself.

But I digress - I know that Lloyd Cole is planning a companion volume to the Clearing Out The Ashtrays boxset
http://shop.lloydcole.com/products/cleaning-out-the-ashtrays

that concentrates on the Commotions period, but I bet he doesn't include the 12" mixes of the Easy Pieces singles.

It'd be a real shame as Brand New Friend and Lost Weekend both have great extended versions. Up until a few months back I didn't even know there was an extended version of the "flop" third single Cut Me Down, as I only owned the Double 7" edition, but I picked this up on 12" at a record fair for a couple of quid and lo - there it is!

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - Cut Me Down (12" extended remix)

It's a text book example. Instruments dropped out on the extended intro, then the main part of the song, followed by a dubby interlude (just put some delay on the drums - that'll do..) and then a longer outro.

Despite the fact it didn't fare too well in the charts, I adore this song and Cole still plays it live in his "Folk Singer" Set (if you've not seen him play live in the past few years then I can't recommend the following CD more. It's excellent)

http://shop.lloydcole.com/products/the-whelan

I had to laugh when I saw him in Buxton last year as he explained that the beauty of doing acoustic versions of the old songs is that he can leave out the crap middle 8 if he sees fit and no one says anything. Hence you could say the version he plays these days is the artistically enhanced shortened mix..

Lloyd Cole - Cut Me Down (Acoustic - Live At The Whelan)

Hopefully I'll post up a few more of my favourite 80's 12" mixes in the future.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Zeke Manyika



Unfashionable as it may be to admit it, but I prefer the Polydor-era Orange Juice work to the Postcard-era.

Most likely because I discovered them through Top Of The Pops and Smash Hits in '83/84, and not via John Peel and some badly photocopied fanzine article in their earlier days. By that point they were already trying to live the fizzy-pop over-produced 80's dream and had abandoned the ramshackle lo-fi approach. The turning point, it seemed to me, was the employment of a fantastically funky and talented drummer by the name of Zeke Manyika who seemed to give Edwyn's pop songs a bouncing soulful sheen. (NB I fully intend to dedicate an entire future post to the Flesh Of My Flesh single in all it's majesty)

By the time of the last Orange Juice album, the group had simmered down to just the two of them and it's still my favourite of their records.

The urban myth goes that Edwyn was unceremoniously dropped by Polydor after that album and then mortified to find that they kept Zeke on contract enabling him to go on and release a solo album and a couple more of his singles for the label.

The album Call & Response is very much in the same style as the tracks he contributed to the Rip It Up album, infusing African rhythms and melodies with 80's pop stylings, and the second single Heaven Help Us (Try) is probably the stand-out track. Contrary to the aforesaid myth I guess that Edwyn must have been happy enough with the situation because he illustrated the single sleeve with some excellent pencil sketches.

Posting it here also highlights one of my other aural fetishes - the 80's 12" Mix (but more of that later...)

Zeke Manyika - Heaven Help Us (Try) [ManyanaMegaMix]

Zeke also got dropped by Polydor after this record but returned a few years later with (the superior) Mastercrime album on Mute (and an NME front cover) before disappearing again. One for the "where are they now?" file i suspect.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eddie Holman

Following on from a previous post about Bobby Womack's "Just A Little Bit Salty", this one can go in the pile labelled Daft Soul Songs

I'd not heard this song in 20 years (which in itself is a bit frightening) but it was discovered in my then-girlfriend's parent's record collection. I don't even know why we ended up playing the album as I'm pretty sure neither of us knew who Eddie Holman was (apparently he had a minor hit with a song called "Hey There Lonely Girl") so maybe it was the, frankly ludicrous, front cover showing Eddie in his mac and fedora leaning on a lampost like the king of suave. We were probably just bored.



Eddie's voice was certainly an acquired taste and by far the most impressive track was "Immune To Love"
The first thing that got us was the quality of the lyrics. More Gedge than Gaye or Green

Withdrew the money from our joint bank account
Took the car!
Didn't care if I ate or starved
If that's what love's about...

And then by far the best bit - the howling flatness of the note he (nearly) hits as he concludes:

...Count me ouuuuuut!

Priceless.

Eddie is still singing and available for functions apparently & is also an ordained Baptist Minister
http://www.corporateartists.com/eddie_holman.html

Eddie Holman - Immune To Love


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hot Tea

Another song etched in my brain forever, this one will be familiar to anyone who received a compilation tape from me at any point in the early 1990's

My housemate Jim used to do me some legendary compilations back then and he had originally found this song in a pile of his grandad's old tapes. Not knowing who it was by, he had actually listed it as "Hot Tea" by "Some Old Grunters" and that was as much as I knew about it.

Years later I managed to track it down as being from a BBC Radio 2 broadcast of a comedy duo from Norfolk called The Kipper Family, which I admit slightly disappointed me because I'd always imagined it was a genuine example of straight-faced English Folk Plainsong. Sadly it does appear to be purposefully comic.

Still - It's one of those songs that you can't forget once you've heard it (no matter how hard you try) and even now I still sing it (thankfully usually internally) whenever someone walks in the room with a cup of tea for me


The Kipper Family - Bring Us In Hot Tea





Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fast 'N Bulbous

In a nutshell Fast 'n Bulbous is a US-based jazz septet which performs and arranges the music of Captain Beefheart (as if you couldn't guess that from their name).

Up until now I'd been largely unimpressed by bands that dared to cover the work of Don Van Vliet, and why wouldn't I be? It's so unique that by definition it becomes almost impossible to copy. Imaginary Records released one of their late 80's tribute albums (also coincidentally called Fast 'n Bulbous) and even prestigious names such as Sonic Youth and XTC failed to hit the spot. More recently the Neon Meate Dream tribute achieved what the untrained ear said Beefheart was all along, and made it unlistenable.

Fast 'n Bulbous though, are a completely different kettle of squid. For a start they feature Magic Band guitarist Gary Lucas so they're already at an advantage, but the band itself is the brainchild of alto saxophonist Phillip Johnston whose arrangements pay such attention to detail that it's obvious he truly loves the music he's working with

You can read up on the rest of the band and their background here
http://www.phillipjohnston.com/fnbfrontpage.htm

They have now released two collections of Beefjazz covers and both are excellent. Whilst it's mostly note for note where it counts, the power of the instrumentation takes it way beyond what the original Magic Band achieved. In some ways I imagine that they hit the highs which Van Vliet was trying to get to right from the start. I'd like to think of him sat painting in his trailer by the Pacific Ocean gently nodding along.

Take a listen to Kandy Korn and tell me that the ending isn't immense.

Fast 'N Bulbous - Kandy Korn

Buy the albums
Pork Chop Blue Around The Rind (2005)

Waxed Oop (2009)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Freshmen

It's all been a bit quiet over here for the last few months as Frankosonic Towers has become buried under a mountain of nappies and tiny teeny clothes. Yup I decided 14 years was quite long enough to wait in between children and decidd it was time to unleash my golden seed once more.

This new arrival seemed to coincide with Google's bright idea of canning FTP support for their Blogger tool, so I was left a bit high and dry anyway - as I had no way of uploading new posts to my server.

My initial reaction was to sack Google off as a bad job. The reasoning behind the change was pretty clear (they want to have control over the content that people are creating using their toolset) and I saw friends and blogs disappearing at a rate of knots under Google-sponsored DCMA takedown orders. Yet having done some digging around and weighed up the options, I decided that I'd stick with Google in spite of all this. Maybe a childish act of defiance? The realisation that probably no one reads this anyway? The distinct lack of tunes posted here courtesy of Mr Big from Big Records? Or just the fact that Google's migration tools worked first time (unlike the WordPress install I tried..)? Well - probably a combination of all these things in truth.

So before the big guns take me out, I thought I better make a proper effort at posting regularly rather than once every other blue moon. If all goes according to plan there should be a post a day for at least a week..um..no going back now.



Starting with a very old song (to me) that I only came across last year, whilst working on a project to transfer a huge box of cassettes of old John Peel shows to digital format. I was given a batch from the spring of 1979 and this track was played every week for about a month.

Peel obviously had a soft spot for it, and you can see why as it's annoyingly catchy and I've had it stuck in my head since I first heard it. Quite why it didn't last the distance like a lot of singles he championed during those post-punk years I'm not sure. Or maybe everyone knows it and I'm just hopelessly out of touch? There is a hint of the Ian Dury to it - but I think they were actually from Ireland.

The Freshmen - You've Never Heard Anything Like This