Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Smash Hits Xmas Flexi 1982

Childhood memories of Christmas aren't complete without this ridiculous flexidisc that came free with Smash Hits magazine in December 1982. That's not really 29 years ago is it?

Neil Tennant is credited with the idea, Mark Ellen narrates, and the whole thing is produced by backroom radio legend Trevor Dann.

It's basically a string of brief christmas messages from popstars of the day, strung together to make it sound like they're all at the Smash Hits party (apart from The Police - who are "on a desert island" for some reason).

Oh and a few adverts for Black Levi's (the sponsors) which we found hilarious at the time and even now I can't see a pair black jeans without saying "black leeevi's" in my head.

Artists featured are ABBA, ABC, Adam Ant, Bananrama, Boy George, Bucks Fizz, Captain Sensible, Duran Duran, Fun Boy Three, Haircut 100, Imagination, Madness, Mari Wilson, Musical Youth, Paul Weller, Police, Steve Strange, Toyah and Midge Ure.

1982 Smash Hits Xmas Flexi

Not deliberate but I seem to have posted yet another flexidisc...hmm. Can i keep this up?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Blammo - Drastic Plastic Flexi

I suddenly thought about this today as 1) it's another classic Yorkshire flexidisc from the late 1980's and 2) it's pretty much next to The Bridewell Taxis flexi in my 7" singles box

I feel sure I must have seen Sheffield's Blammo play at some point in order to have triggered the flexi purchase, but I can't for the life of me remember where or when. Mind fog..

The track "Drastic Plastic" was a political song against the Tory politician Colin Moynihan, who briefly tried to introduce an ID Card system for football fans, in a desperate bid to try and stamp out football hooliganism. Luckily for us it failed and this idiot was never heard of again. Oh actually I tell a lie...Lord Moynihan is a Director of the London Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympic Games. Jesus.

The second track is an homage to the legendary footballer & indiepop fan Pat Nevin. He made his name at Chelsea back in the 80's when Chelsea were neither rich, fashionable or successful. He likes The Fall...what more needs to be said?

NB. Both tracks are pop perfection.

Track 1. Drastic Plastic
Track 2. Perfect Pat
Year. 1989
Label. Rinkytink Records RTF001

Blammo - Drastic Plastic flexi

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Bridewell Taxis - Lies Flexi

This is another one for my chum Ricky at the Electronic Vibes blog Electronic Vibes

He recently posted the first single by Leeds band The Bridewell Taxis and it reminded me of the flexi I bought at one of their gigs circa 1989.

Upon my arrival in Leeds, the local indie music scene was dominated by two factions – The Edsel Auctioneer (who were going down the Dinosaur Jr / Buffalo Tom proto-grunge path and I have discussed already on this blog) and The Bridewell Taxis (who were basically just what the press quickly termed “baggy”)

The band themselves looked like thugs from the Elland Road terraces, and although the baggy genre will always be historically linked with ecstasy usage, I can tell you that in these early days the audience was mainly booze-fuelled. I saw more drunken idiot audience fighting (actually mostly intimidation and menace) at Happy Mondays & Bridewell Taxis gigs than anywhere else in my life.

I admit I always enjoyed the contradiction of The Bridewell Taxis tough-man image with the, frankly quite soppy, lyrics and jangly sound. In fact who EVER looked tough whilst playing a trombone? It was, as we used to say at the time, well weird man.

If you care to click the above link to their wikipedia page and read the band's history, you'll understand what I mean.

Track 1. Lies
Track 2. Just Good Friends
Year. 1988

The Bridewell Taxis – Lies flexi

As a bonus - there were 3 old flyers tucked in the flexi sleeve, so I thought I'd scan them too. Baggy memories...ah

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kitchens Of Distinction - Peel Session 23rd August 1992

Oh go on - while I'm at it. If anyone thinks I am working through these DAT-sourced Peel Sessions in alphabetical order then you might be right (for today at least)

I first heard Kitchens Of Distinction in 1989 when Peel played their debut single "Prize". I immediately went out and bought it and then got progressively less interested in them, but listening to their back catalog a few weeks ago I was reminded that actually, they were a great band. Maybe that loss of interest was more down to me going away to Poly and finding myself drowning in a sea of excellent music and gigs almost every night. I never saw Kitchens Of Distinction though - did they tour much? Who knows.

Also a mystery is why it took three years for them to get their first Peel Session. We may never know, but here it is..

Peel Session August 23rd 1992

Producer - Mike Engles
Engineer - Dave Mccarthy
Studio - Maida Vale 3


1. Four Men
2. Mad As Snow
3. When In Heaven
4. Blue Pedal


Patrick Fitzgerald (Bass, Vocals)
Julian Swales (Guitar, Harmonica)
Dan Goodwin (Drums)

Download Peel Session

Kit - Peel Session 28 November 1989

To celebrate John Peel Day I thought I'd post another obscure Peel Session (again direct from the source DAT not off-air recording).

This one came from Liverpool band Kit, who only released a handful of records at the back-end of the 80's. They made a sort of indie-skiffle sound and the singer perfected her wobbly-larynx vocal style long before that pant-wetter from Bright Eyes did it.

There doesn't seem to be much out there on the web but here's a couple more links:



Peel Session November 28th 1989

Producer - Dale Griffin
Engineer - Mike Robinson
Studio - Maida Vale 5


1. How To Break This
2. Up On A Wire
3. Cheatin' My Heart
4. What If I Fell


Lin Sangster (Guitar, Vocals)
Michelle Brown (Bass)
Tony Smith (Drums)
Kenny Manson (Guitar)
Phil Luckin (Trumpet)

Download Peel Session

Friday, September 02, 2011

Ian McCulloch Peel Session 4-Dec-1989

Another DAT-sourced Peel Session in pristine quality – this time from Ian McCulloch circa his first solo album “Candleland”.

Given that the Bunnymen hadn’t done a Peel Session for a good 6 years prior to this, I was never sure if this was because Peel had just gone off them or if they were simply above it all once they made it big in the States? Nonetheless I have good memories of this session going out and Peel sounded as enthusiastic as ever. That said, there seems to have been a 3 month gap between recording and transmission, so it may not have been a priority for the show to broadcast it.

Anyway – we have three tracks from Candleland and a 4th track “Damnation” that would end up on the 2nd solo album “Mysterio”.

I really liked the Candleland album but bear in mind that this was around the time that the Bunnymen were still ploughing ahead without McCulloch (and yes I did see them play in Bootle at their “comeback” gig – it wasn’t pretty) so it didn’t take much to win that particular battle..

The Peel Session versions were much less polished and lacked the 80’s production sheen of the album so they actually sound better in retrospect.

EDIT - reupped with the squeal in the middle of Damnation sorted out! Sorry about that


01 - Faith And Healing
02 - Flickering Wall
03 - Damnation
04 - Candleland

Line Up:

Ian McCulloch: Guitar & Vocals
Steve Humphreys: Drums
Edgar Summertime: Bass
John McEvoy: Guitar
Mike Mooney: Guitar & Keyboards

Ian McCulloch - 1989 Peel Session

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cranes Peel Session 1990

A quick response to a request via the Peel Group. Here we have the 2nd Peel Session from Cranes. I always thought of them as a sort of demonic Cocteau Twins.

Bought their mini album after hearing their 1st Peel Session back at University in 1989, but never really followed them much further than that. Saw them live at the Duchess Of York and the singer spent the whole gig looking like she was about to burst into tears. Maybe she was?

1. Give
2. Da Da 133 (I Dreamed)
3. Inescapable

The quality on this is perfect as it was sourced from a pre-broadcast DAT (so no FM compression). Thanks to the original provider of the tracks - you know who you are.

Cranes - Peel Session 1990

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Avians Alight

I keep getting so close to posting, I have lots of new stuff to rant about (not least the new Pete Astor album and my continuing experiments down at the obscure end of Mojo's classic album list) but this afternoon I stumbled on an album by Avians Alight which has tipped me into mode.

A few years back we travelled to London to see Damien Jurado play at the Luminaire and he had a great cello player in his band called Jenna. Truth be told, both the wife and I were a little taken by her and disappointed when she disappeared from the Jurado line-up at subsequent gigs.

I remember seeing that she was working on her own stuff under the name Trouble Town but then heard nothing more. By chance today I saw a tweet about Avians Alight and it turned out to be the same project renamed.

This is my first attempt at a Bandcamp embed rather than a direct download, but hopefully it will work and someone might buy the album. This track is just beyond gorgeous..

Check the whole album here.

Avians Alight

The only downside is that apart from the Bandcamp page, there seems to be virtually nothing else online, no gigs, no reviews, no interviews, no pictures, no nothing. Why??? This world is all wrong.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Edwyn Collins - I Hear A New World REMIXED 2 x 12" Promo

Another Edwyn Collins-based request I’m afraid – this time an unusual promo from 1997 – being a double white label 12” pack featuring a set of remixes

A1 Superficial Cat (Red Snapper Mix)
B1 Seventies Night (Deadly Avenger Supershine Mix)
B2 Superficial Cat (Red Snapper Vocal Mix)

C1 Downer (James Lavelle Mix)
C2 The Magic Piper Of Love (The Wiseguys Sniper Mix)
D1 Adidas World (Adileted By Sebstian Lewsley)
D2 Downer (James Lavelle Vocal Mix)

For the most part these are all otherwise unreleased except for:

D1 is on the 2nd CD of the Adidas World single - credited as “Episode 10 (No, No, No, Adidas World)”
B1 later appeared on the Ave Marina compilation CD on Marina Records

So I’ve been asked to post up the whole thing, given that the remixes aren’t even available as paid downloads anywhere either I figured why not?

Edwyn Collins - I Hear A New World REMIXED 2 x 12" Promo

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 4

The fourth and final batch of my Sounds Of The Seventies experiment are:

1971 Beaver & Krause – Gandharva
1970 Emitt Rhodes – Emitt Rhodes
1971 Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse
1970 Honeybus – Story
1970 Little Milton – If Walls Could Talk

To categorise these albums, again I know nothing about any of them. Only Emitt Rhodes have I even vaguely heard of.

And so the final verdict?

Beaver & Krause’s Gandharva is a crazy album, stylistically all over the place and interesting with it. Definitely one to listen to a few more times to get the benefit.

Emitt Rhodes is great pop music. Unbelievable really that he recorded this at home on his own in 1970. Equally unbelievable that he isn’t more widely known, compared to a lot of other people operating in similar areas at the time. You can hear its influence on people like Ben Folds and definitely Zumpano

Eugene McDaniels is another slab of craziness. Not at all what I expected, it is in fact heavily funky and immediately apparent that I’ve heard at least one of these songs before sampled in hip-hop tracks (Beastie Boys “Get It Together” for one..). The lyrics are brilliant too.

Honeybus are even poppier than Emitt Rhodes. To the point where they just sound too much like The Beatles (or more specifically McCartney) for me to believe that this is really a classic album and not just a bright and pleasant but ultimately formulaic pop album.

The Little Milton album is also a stormer, like a deeper, more rough and ready Otis Redding, this has already been added to my list of great soul albums. Some of the brass arrangements are sublime.

All in all a much more satisfying batch than the previous lot with all the albums giving me pleasure, and Honeybus’ crime was simply being too “nice”. Here is a selection of tunes from within

Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes
Little Milton – Kansas City
Emitt Rhodes – Live Til You Die

And so I move onto the 1960’s. My initial investigations lead me to believe that there will be a LOT of rare and obscure psychedelia in there, and most of it will be post 1965...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Damien Jurado Live At Landlocked - AKA Record Store Day Sucks

Last week saw this year's Record Store Day - not just here in the UK, but in the US too.

A fine idea in principle and one that I've done my best to support over the past few years.

You see, time was when the 15 year old me would go into town on the bus and spend all afternoon walking from record shop to record shop, browsing the racks. In Derby alone we had a route that went RE Cords – Siren Records– (later)BPM Records – Collectors Records – Virgin (in Debenhams) – Our Price – HMV – Spot-On Sounds – Way Ahead Records. I may even have forgotten one or two (I’ve deliberately not included the market stalls like Felix Records as they mainly sold oldies and second hand stuff).

Now we have no independent record shops left here – and even HMV has moved it’s tiny selection of CD’s upstairs (with no lift so I’m screwed if I have the pushchair).

Even the mighty Selectadisc in nearby Nottingham is a fading memory.

So whilst Record Store Day is seemingly designed to boost trade in the few remaining stores , it seems like they’re fighting a losing battle.

This year in particular it feels like they might as well give up. I know too many people who queued at the shops to get the “exclusive and limited product” – only to find that it had already sold out. Then went home to find pages and pages of auctions for the very goods they couldn’t get in the real world – being hawked online via ebay, at two and three times the price.

So you wonder what is the point?

The net effect has been to increase online sales and drive up prices. Neither of which really benefits the shops that it purports to be supporting. Too many people making a quick buck by snapping up the goods and immediately selling them again online at enormous mark-up.

I’m not daft enough to think that this is somehow an outrageous surprise. It’s called the free market. If someone lives near enough to a city that still has a shop, and can be bothered to queue up then why shouldn’t they take the opportunity? Actually the answer is “because they should be better human beings” but as Nick Cave said “people just ain’t no good”.

I love record shops and I dearly wish that there was still at least one in my town, or even nearby – but the world moves on. I think we’ve reached the point where Record Store Day has surpassed its usefulness. Like in the TV medical drama when the idealistic doctor is still frantically applying the defibrillator paddles long after the patient is dead. It needs someone to put their arm round its metaphorical shoulder and say “come on..that’s enough”

The most annoying part of all this is that it does seem to spur the record companies into releasing some interesting and unique products. At which point you have to say “why don’t you do that anyway you useless fuckers?”.

The final straw for me personally was that the one record I wanted above all was the Damien Jurado Live At Landlocked vinyl LP – but this was only available in the US Record Store Day version of events – so I couldn’t get to a shop that stocked it without catching a plane. Of course a handful of ebay resellers will ship to the UK – for a small fortune. Plus I’ve been stung by our friendly customs tax too many times to know that you can add at least another £15 to the price of a vinyl LP, so I’m looking at the best part of £70-£80 to own a copy. The benefit of that transaction to Record Stores would be precisely zero pounds and no p.

Meanwhile in the modern world, someone rips it to mp3 and I just have to make do with hearing it in digital format and my record shelf remains unadorned.

I’ll probably get a world of shit for this post, but I felt at the very least it needed addressing.

Damien Jurado - Live At Landlocked LP

As for the Jurado record - it's as brilliant as I'd hoped for. He's amazing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 3

The third batch of my Sounds Of The Seventies experiment are:

1972 Jorge Ben – Ben
1971 Spring – Spring
1972 D.R. Hooker – The Truth
1972 Bobby Charles – Bobby Charles
1971 Mickey Newbury - Frisco Mabel Joy

To categorise these albums is slightly easier than the first two batches as I know nothing about any of them in equal measure.

So the verdict?

Jorge Ben caused me concern as it was mostly pretty dire samba-pop with very ropey production. The Mojo review had said that one of the album tracks contained the original melody to Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” and I was baffled because I couldn’t hear it anywhere. It was at this point that I realised that I’d downloaded the wrong album! Once I’d rectified the error, I can safely say that the 1972 album “Ben” (as opposed to the earlier “Jorge Ben” album which I had just erroneously listened to) is much better but still veering towards the novelty side of latino pop. Maybe it was the Buena Vista Social Club of its time? I can imagine in the early 70’s it might have been the height of sophistication to listen to something like this, but in 2011 it’s most definitely nothing special.

Spring were an obscure Prog band from Leicester and this is their only album (so no mistakes to be made on the download front). As far as Prog goes it’s pretty restrained for the most part and is actually my favourite album of this bunch of five. Lots of mellotron, acoustic guitars and some quite folky passages. Actual tunes too.

D.R. Hooker (not to be mistaken with Dr Hook of “Sexy Eyes” fame) is another prog rock obscurity and generally as overblown as Spring is reserved. While I didn’t hate it, I couldn’t find anything to get me hooked. I usually find with Prog bands that they have one short bit in one song that grabs me and then I pick up the rest from there. There must be something special about this record though as it was only ever a private pressing, yet made it into the Mojo book. Not mainstream enough for a Wikipedia page though.

Bobby Charles as a younger man wrote “See You Later (Alligator)” and then later in life recorded this solo album with members of The Band. Like The Band I find this country-rock type stuff quite dreary and I skipped most tracks after a minute or so. Pah!

Mickey Newbury seems to be well regarded in Country Music circles but I hated this album even more than Bobby Charles.

All in all the most disappointing batch so far with the Spring album standing out as the only one which I can see justifies its inclusion in the Mojo book.

This track is one of the aforementioned restrained Spring tracks. A piano ballad with some touching lyrics (and a hint of a speech impediment “once I was a dweamer...”)

Spring – Song To Absent Friends (The Island)

It’s also worth checking out the Jorge Ben track which turned into “Do You Think I’m Sexy” – if only for the incredibly poor mouth-trumpet solo that sounds like someone’s Dad humming along with the tune (at about 1min 30s in)

Jorge Ben - Taj Mahal

Friday, April 22, 2011

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 2

The second batch of my Sounds Of The Seventies experiment are:

1973 Dan Penn – Nobody’s Fool
1974 Lamont Dozier – Black Bach
1974 Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
1975 Jade Warrior – Waves
1975 Keith Jarrett - The Koln Concert

To categorise these albums:

Dan Penn I know from some of the songs he's written ("Dark End Of The Street" in particular) but never heard any of his solo stuff

Lamont Dozier - much the same thing. The album title was enough to convince me!

The Richard & Linda Thompson album is one I've been toying with buying for years and Last.FM regulalry sticks it in my "recommended listening" stream, so it's not strictly true that I've not heard it. I've just not heard ALL of it.

Jade Warrior I'd never heard of despite a penchant for a bit of Prog and having a Father-In-Law with an immense library of obscure Prog records. He probably has this but I've just never had the pleasure

Keith Jarrett is one jazzer I've never checked out, being more of a brass man than piano when it comes to jazz.

And the verdict?

Dan Penn was much as I expected, good songs, good arrangements and a good voice, but it doesn't grab me. There must be loads of albums in a similar style out there on a par with this?

Lamont Dozier really disappointed me on first listen. The second time around I warmed a bit more, but as with the Dan Penn album - it doesn't hold any surpises for me

The Richard & Linda Thompson is as good as I hoped song-wise. Linda's voice is beautiful and Richard's guitar playing really is something else at times, but I just can't get on with his voice. Now if Dan or Lamont were singing Richard's parts then we'd be in business.

Jade Warrior - not quite as prog as I anticipated, it's mostly quite ambient. Two long pieces that are actually various segments of music glued together. It's the sort of thing I like listening to when I want to read. Not so good when I'm driving or working (which is where I did listen to it). Falling asleep in both situations is frowned upon.

Keith Jarrett on the other hand has left me stunned. I'm only on day 2 and already I've discovered two albums that are as good as anything else I've ever heard. I still can't fathom how this was all improvised live, as it doesn't sound that way at all. Some of the passages are quite exquisite and as far away from "jazz" as is possible. I absolutely need to hear more of Jarrett's records, but now I'm scared that there is nothing better out there.

There are only 4 tracks on the album and 3 are quite lengthy so I'm posting the shortest, just to give you an idea and to save on bandwidth, but as with the Townes Van Zandt live album, the record has to be heard in its entirety to fully appreciate the performance. This track isn't even the best one..

Keith Jarrett - Part II c.mp3

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Classic Albums Of The 1970's Part 1

Getting so frustrated with every new band I hear sounding like a poor-copy of a band from 20 years ago who already sounded like a poor-copy of a band from 20 years ago even back then, I devised a strategy to flex my musical brain.

A few years back I picked up a copy of Mojo’s Classic Album Guide from one of those discount bookshops (£3 for a book the size of a breezeblock) and whenever I find myself flicking through it I come across albums I’ve either never heard of, or never got round to checking out. And then never get round to doing anything about it.

So picking a decade (the 1970’s to start with) I’ve plucked 20 albums that fit into these two categories and intend to listen to them over the coming weeks.

It seems to work out best in batches of five, so for batch one I’ve been listening to:

1973 Townes Van Zandt - Live At The Old Quarter, Houston TX
1977 Suicide – Suicide
1978 Nick Lowe – Jesus Of Cool
1979 The Roches – The Roches
1979 Linton Kwesi Johnson – Bass Culture

To categorise these albums:

Suicide and Townes Van Zandt are two artists I’d consciously avoided over the years due to the constant name-dropping I’d seen in the music press amongst bands I didn’t necessarily care for.

Nick Lowe I know a fair amount about via his Elvis Costello associations and various cover versions, but never really listened to his own stuff

Linton Kwesi Johnson I’d heard many times via John Peel but never really got on board with the poetry aspect of reggae. Dub Reggae I can listen to all day, but I struggle with poetry at the best of times.

The Roches I know absolutely nothing about.

And the verdict?

Suicide is exactly like I imagined it would be. It’s like they’re trying to sound edgy and tough over gay disco backing tracks. Maybe that’s the point? I actually quite like it.

The Roches I came to with no such pre-conceptions but it’s all a bit underwhelming. There is nothing here to dislike and I can see it growing on me after a few listens, but an instant classic it certainly isn’t. I only realised after listening that Robert Fripp produced it, but it doesn't really show. Mind you, I've found that most of Fripp's non-King Crimson work takes some time to wheedle its way into my affections.

The Nick Lowe album sounds horribly dated and represents that period where the lines between pub-rock and punk were being substantially blurred. A couple of the songs are just too embarassing to listen to, but for the most part there are good songs buried in the production.

Bass Culture probably needs more attention paying to it than I have given it. Maybe I've just been watching too much Rastamouse recently to take it seriously (and serious it certainly is). Musically it's great, but I guess that's not the issue. Another one I have to give some more time too.

And finally the Townes Van Zandt live album. 27 tracks of just one guy and his guitar recorded in a tiny Texas bar over 5 nights sounds like it could be hard-going but I have to admit to being totally blown-away by how good this record is.

To carry off that many songs in that setting without losing the audience is tough at the best of times, but the whole show is so utterly captivating that it's over before you even begin to realise the time. You get a real feel for the atmosphere from the heckling of the announcer at the start ("Upstairs!") and quite how the rowdies are kept in check by the intimacy of the performance (even Townes seems amazed by the pin-drop silence during the first song). Some good surreal jokes in there too ("What's white and crawls up your leg? Uncle Ben's Perverted Rice")

Taking just one song out of context doesn't really do the album justice, but here's a couple of good 'uns which you may know from cover versions by the Tindersticks and Lemonheads respectively.

Townes Van Zandt - Kathleen [Live]
Townes Van Zandt - Waiting 'Round To Die [Live]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

James Kirk

Yesterday was one of those brilliant days where things conspire to make you smile constantly.

We woke up to the news that my chum Steve Domino (and more specifically his good lady wife) had given birth to a baby girl. Had an hour or so of breakfast time hanging out with our own baby and then found great quality New Order bootleg from 1985 online and spent the rest of the morning listening to it.

I’d put a load of our old crap on Ebay too and that finished around lunchtime and breaking the three figure barrier by the time it all closed.

Back home later for tea time with the baby and then on to see Derby County beat the Dirty Leeds United scum (coming back from 1-0 down in a majestic performance with a stunning winning goal) with my eldest. He’s been totally off football recently as he’s turned 15 and discovered some of the more exciting things in life, but the win had us both on a high and we talked about music all the way home. He’s just getting into Nirvana and we had an awkward father-son moment when I mentioned the Incesticide album. He said “Dad – what’s a b-side?”

I was still smiling this morning, and just when I thought things couldn’t get much better I received a whole bunch of Peel Sessions in the email – sourced directly from the recordings on DAT (ie pre-broadcast quality). Some of these I’d never heard before and some were great sessions that I only had on old hissy tapes.

So to spread the joy I propose another Peel Sessions week like the one I had back in September last year. Probably starting in Easter week. Watch this space

And for no particular reason other than it makes me feel like a good summer is just around the corner, here's an obscure track from ex-Orange Juice legendary guitarist James Kirk. Inventor of the JANGLE!

James Kirk - Faraway Station

Friday, February 04, 2011


If you want to follow me talking mostly about football, sometimes about music, but always about nothing then I'm on Twitter @frankosonic

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Orange Juice - Coals To Newcastle

Before I start, I just want to be 100% clear about quite how much I love this boxset.

It feels like a long wait to finally have all this wonderful stuff compiled into such a beautiful package and I truly heart it to pieces. Rest assured that none of this post is intended to criticise the remarkable work done at Domino on this set.

In fact before we go any further can I just say... BUY IT HERE!

As an Orange Juice anthology it is almost entirely exhaustive, but my anorak has been twitching for while to try and document the gaps and anomalies for posterity if nothing else. So this is a review, not of its contents, but more a review of what ISN'T included, allowing any fellow trainspotters to easily identift what remains to be collected.

The main exclusions are the 7” single edits which is totally understandable, as they rarely offered anything other than a radio-friendly abbreviation of the full version (the main exception being Flesh Of My Flesh which appears in 7” and 12” versions as both are considerably different to each other, and indeed, the original album version) - but there are a few other little bits and pieces missing.

Disc One is arguably perfect and contains all the Postcard singles, the Ostrich Churchyard album, the instrumental and French versions of Poor Old Soul from the 90’s reissue of Blue Boy and the live tracks from the “Felicity Sessions”. The only omissions therefore are the two early Nu-Sonics bedroom demos that previously appeared on Orange Juice compilation CD’s of this era. A cover of The Ramones “I Don’t Care” was on The Glasgow School and a cover of The New York Dolls “Who Are The Mystery Girls” was an unlisted track on The Heather’s On Fire.

Oh and if we're talking about things that have previously been released on Orange Juice records but aren't technically by Orange Juice, then this first disc is also missing the 10" that came free with vinyl editions of "Ostrich Churchyard" in 1992 - known as 'The World's First 10" Irritation Disc'. It was an 18 minute chat between Edwyn and Alan Horne, talking about Orange Juice with all manner of giggling and annoying oscillation effects over the top.

I also seem to remember that Simon Goddard (author of the boxset liner notes) talked on his blog back in February about a cassette of early Orange Juice demos that came from James Kirk. The blog entry has now been deleted so I can't prove it, but there's no sign of those tunes either.

Disc Two is interesting. This version of "Untitled Melody" from You Can't Hide Your Love Forever runs at a different speed to the 1998 Polydor reissue (but is the only track that does). This was apparently a mistake on the previous remaster, and has been corrected now back to the original vinyl speed.

Of the singles included on this disk the missing tracks are:

The 7" edit of "Two Hearts Together" (the 7" version is a minute shorter. The instrumental break in the middle is half as long and the outro is totally different with Edwyn singing "together" repeatedly over the fade-out)

The 7" edit of "Hokoyo" (the 7" version is a good 2 minutes shorter than the version which appears on Rip It Up and the 10" single. It loses the 3rd verse and the extended instrumental outro is replaced by a briefer ending with a completely different selection of vocal ad-libs and whooping!)

Also the 12" version of "I Can't Help Myself" is missing. I can see why they chose to include the 7" version here instead as it's a much more succinct edit than the album version. The missing 12" mix is almost identical to the album version albeit some 20 seconds longer due to an extra 4 bars in the middle section breakdown and a couple more seconds of saxophone on the fade-out. The Vinyl Villain posted this 12" mix as part of his boxset review here

Disc Three also has some missing 7" versions. These are:

The 7" edit of "Rip It Up" (the 7" version is an edit of the album version, clocking in a minute and a half shorter because it loses the start of the intro, the keyboard solo and the instrumental passage towards the end. The fade out with Paul Quinn's vocal ad-libs is also a bit shorter. Kris from Domino tells me that it's also a slightly different mix - almost mono)

The 7" edit of "A Sad Lament" from the "Rip It Up" double 7" pack (this version is the same as the one that appears on Texas Fever and the Rip It Up 12" except it fades out quickly after about 3 minutes, losing the long instrumental outro section)

The 7" edit of "Lord John White And The Bottleneck Train" from the "Flesh Of My Flesh" 7" Picture Disc (which is essentially just the 12" version faded after 3 minutes, losing about a minute and a half of insanity at the end! NB if you're sad enough to be collecting these missing versions, the regular Flesh 7" contained the same long version of "Lord John White" as the 12". Only the 7" Picture Disc has the abridged version).

Technically it is also missing the 'Intermediate Edit' of "Rip It Up" which appeared on 2002 Edwyn/Orange Juice compilation "A Casual Introduction 1981-2001". That edit is almost identical to the album version, shortened only by the removal of the keyboard solo.

Back on the subject of "Lord John White And The Bottleneck Train" this was (and still is) credited to all the OJ members except Edwyn, and it's not clear if Edwyn even played on the track. However if you reverse the music you will hear that the whole of "Flesh Of My Flesh" is being sung by Edwyn in the background. This makes for quite an interesting (and possibly unlistenable) remix if you tweak the EQ a bit and trim the start - like this:

Orange Juice - Flesh Of My Flesh [Lord John White And The Bottleneck Train Reversi Mix]

Special mention should also go to the instrumental version of "In A Nutshell" that came from the Rip It Up sessions. It wasn't included in the boxset but was sent as an exclusive mp3 to all those who pre-ordered from Domino. Edwyn is apparently quite fond of the way the Rip It Up line-up would play this old song.

Disc Four is almost perfect apart from the Summer '83 version of Bridge has strangely been truncated by a couple of seconds to remove the final "Thank you!" from Edwyn's address to the fake crowd. I was surprised that there weren't more out-takes from the Texas Fever sessions as alluded to in the 1998 Polydor reissue liner notes. The rough mixes included are only slightly less polished than the released versions, but Edwyn described a lot of funk work-outs being recorded that he found difficulty writing vocals for.

Disc Five is, at first glance, principally missing the 2nd dub version of "A Place In My Heart" which was released on the NME's "Department Of Enjoyment" cassette in 1984. The version they do include is listed as the "12" Dub Version" from the "What Presence?!" single but that label is technically incorrect as it appeared in the same form on both 7" and 12" formats and neither were labelled at the time as anything other than "Dub Version".

Again, you can understand why Domino chose to omit one as they are very similar mixes, so it's only upon closer listening I realised that what they have actually included in the Boxset is, in fact, the "Dub Mix 2" from the NME tape, leaving the "What Presence?!" dub version still unreleased on CD.

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is in the first verse where the vocal is almost acapella. The What Presence?! Dub Version 1 drops the drums and bass back in on the "just why" line whereas the NME version Dub Version 2 drops them back in two bars earlier on the line "gonna write you a letter".

In actual fact - to split hairs, the version on the boxset is not quite the same as the NME tape version as Zeke's drum clicks at the very start have been edited out! Am I being picky or what?

According to Kris the master tapes must have been mixed up as one was clearly labelled "dub mix for NME low EQ". To make up for the error he has kindly allowed me to offer the missing What Presence?! single dub version here

Orange Juice - A Place In My Heart [Dub Version 1]

The 3 live tracks from the cassette that came with the "What Presence?!" 7" (not fully credited in the liner notes - they were recorded for Radio Clyde at the Glasgow Pavilion on 26/3/84) have also had bits of Edwyn's chat removed. On the original tape at the start of "In A Nutshell" he says "it's time for a sensitive ballad now". The tracks are continuous too - not faded in between like the boxset, and at the end of "Simply Thrilled Honey" Edwyn says "unfortunately I've broken a string" then "OK this is a song, a very emotional song, about the day my hamster died its called Dying Day"

This editing down of Edwyn's patter continues with the 2 live tracks from the Lean Period flexi. These are credited as being from the soundtrack to "Dada With Juice" and the boxset does exactly that - gives us the audio tracks from the DVD, but the original flexi has the full soundboard versions which included Edwyn's intros which weren't on the video.

For reference, on the flexi, "Rip It Up" is introduced with the words

..but on the other hand there has been a lot of oppression up in Scotland cos my social worker told me that. He did you know (in an English accent) he really did! And just to prove it here's a song called "Rip It Up"

and What Presence is introduced with the words

..despite "Rip It Up" being a hit, for some reason perhaps the most phenomenal new single so far "What Presence?!" failed abysmally. Now, we want to know..why is this? Don't we?

It seems that these small cuts were done for space reasons, in order to squeeze a further track onto the disc which was already almost full.

Finally another labelling anomaly appears with the "Lean Period" 12" mix being referred to as a dub version. The original 12" only lists it as the "Extended Version". I'm guessing that these alternate labels came from the original master tapes.

Disc Six, is by Domino's own admission (unavoidably) missing the 1983 Janice Long Session. The original BBC tapes couldn't be found, and from discussions with Ken Garner the author of "In Session Tonight" it appears that this was Janice's first Radio 1 show and was broadcast from Manchester that night, not London, which possibly explains the absent master tape. An appeal from Domino to fans who may have had an off-air tape drew a blank, and although a copy has since surfaced, it is nowhere near CD quality. A real shame as it includes great versions of Rip It Up, Flesh Of My Flesh and Love Sick. At least you can now listen and pretend you've tuned into 1980's Medium Wave radio.

Orange Juice - BBC Radio 1 Janice Long Session 1983-03

It's good to see that the previously referred to "Mike Read" session of 1981 has now been corrected to "Richard Skinner". Again through Ken Garner's help, it was established that Mike Read stopped doing the Evening Session at the end of 1980 (moving to the Breakfast slot) and so from January 1981 all Evening Sessions were presented by Richard Skinner. In all probability when the producer booked the band in for the session it would still have been Mike Read's show so it's easy to see where the confusion arose.

As for the DVD, tracking down all the original Orange Juice footage would have been a mammoth task (not to mention expensive). I suspect there would have been a fair bit more included if licensing costs, space and time allowed. For example it would have been fun to see the two manic 1983 Top Of The Pops appearances for "Rip It Up" on there in high quality

Still it's good to see that they did include the promo video on the DVD. After all these years I finally realised that this is where the free still prints that came with Flesh Of My Flesh singles were grabbed from.

Similarly Edwyn's shirt on the Whistle Test clips on the DVD (and on the front of Smash Hits in the boxset booklet) - forms the tartan basis of the same single's cover.

In addition to those TOTP appearances there is the Blue Boy promo video that was made for the 1993 re-release

An appearance on Something Else in 1981 doing "Falling & Laughing"

An appearance on Channel 4's "The Switch" in 1983 (doing 2 or 3 more songs I think)

An appearance on Kids TV show "Get Set" in 1983 doing "Flesh Of My Flesh"

Zeke and Edwyn backing Paul Quinn on the BBC's "Rock Around The Clock" in 1984 (they also backed him on "The Oxford Roadshow" in 1983 doing "I Gave You Love")

As well as these low quality clips available online, ITN Source and BBC Motion Gallery list a few other items that have yet to be unearthed:

An appearance in the 1981 Danny Baker documentary "20th Century Box" being interviewed in a London cafe.

An appearance on "The Oxford Road Show" in 1983 doing "Rip It Up"

An interview with Edwyn and Zeke on "The Saturday Picture Show" in May 1984

And finally the only other thing I can think of right now is the hilarious and bizarre Promo/Advert that Edwyn & Zeke filmed for the last album - wich was featured as an extra on Edwyn's "Phantasmagoria" video concert.

Moving on to the remaster of "Dada With Juice" - this is a little bit strange to say the least. Full marks for restoring the correct name of the disc to "Dada With The Juice" (as per the title sequence) but there seems to be some unexplainable fades between songs that weren't present on the VHS original. For example the guitar intro on "What Presence?!" is totally removed and fades in part way through the ensuing feedback. I don't understand why, unless it was done accidentally as part of the DVD chapter marking?

Also the end credits have been completely excised - not only does this mean we miss a good minute or so of the last song, but also that everyone who worked on the original release loses out on a credit as they aren't included in the booklet. It doesn't even mention the Producer & Director Mike Mansfield (whom we can presumably thank for the crazy 80's video effects!).

The truncated ending also means you miss out on the post-credits pay-off to the art gallery interludes as Edwyn (or "Edwin" as the absent credits would have it) chooses a picture that was stuck to the shop window and Zeke acquires a massive poodle.

(..and breathe..)

Congratulations if you've made it to the end of all this rambling. Sometimes I wear the anorak a little too well. As usual, all comments and corrections are more than welcome.

Many thanks to Kris at Domino for putting up with my incessant questions and allowing me to post the missing dub mix.

And finally did I mention - you can't live without this:

Orange Juice - Coals To Newcastle Boxset BUY IT HERE!

You won't regret it - I promise