Saturday 31 December 2011

Friends Of The Family

Friends Of The Family were a great little band who lasted two singles in 1987. Their debut Rotten To The Core remains my favourite, but as that's been uploaded by others before here are two songs from their second single, the Three Fat Men On A Bicycle ep:

 Lucibelle Green


Their schoolfriend Clare Wadd interviewed them for the final issue of her Kvatch fanzine. I promised someone (Matthew from Shelflife, I think) on a messageboard a few years ago that I'd upload that interview once I'd dug out the fanzine. The interview covers flexidiscs, 12" singles and major labels.

All indiepop fanzines in 1987 covered these topics. If you were really unlucky you'd also get a vegan cake recipe when what you actually wanted was another insight from David Gedge about the convenience of the Newport Pagnell service station on the M1 from Leeds to London. 

Friday 30 December 2011

A Black Tambourine advert

There were some compelling reasons to buy Black Tambourine's last record. The excellent Emily's fanzine listed five of them.
I think this was 1992.

Friday 23 December 2011

Bobby Gillespie is full of shit

Bobby Gillespie, traditionalist, revivalist and leader of one of Britain's premier Rolling Stones tribute bands, is this week moaning about rock music being "too conformist and normal". To make matters worse, he's using his showbiz pal Paul Weller as a reference. This is like Paul McCartney hiring Ronald McDonald as the spokesman for his latest vegetarian crusade.

That's right, the same Bobby Gillespie who's made a career out of plagiarism, relying on another band member to write Primal Scream's decent songs (Jim Beattie) or producers to make his songs sound less conformist and normal (Andrew Weatherall) or just covering a Stones song and passing it off as his own work by giving it a new title (Rocks).

"It seems to me that if you were a serious young person and you had something to say that you'd be looking at other disciplines." Sorry, Bobby, but you're little more than a grumpy old man who's out of touch. Claiming that bands who've come after The Strokes and The White Stripes have given up trying to be experimental is a strange stance.

Of course bands who are influenced by The Strokes and The White Stripes are going to be retro and looking at rock's past with reverence rather than disdain. The Strokes were a case study in style over substance from day one: their debut single The Modern Age ripped off David Watts by The Kinks. Which band was it that covered David Watts? That's right, your mate Paul Weller's band The Jam. But to consider the past 10 years of music only through the prism of The Strokes and The White Stripes bands is a straw man attack.

There are loads of fantastic rock bands out there. My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything is enjoying status as year zero for a lot of groups right now. Listen to Heaven's Gate or Exlovers, for example. Yeah, I know Isn't Anything is 23 years old. When you were a young man making records in the 80s, your key reference points were from 23 years before then.

OK, I'm sure you'll cite getting Kevin Shields in Primal Scream as a sign that you're way ahead of these young scamps who are influenced by MBV. Thing is, Bobby, that Shields' creativity was spent way before he joined your band. The baton had been handed over. You must know that most bands have a very limited time when they're at their best and making music simply because they have to.

You should listen to Weekend. I expect Shields would admire - envy, even - them. They take pop songs and give them a viking burial in gales of effects and distortion. No one else is making music like that. No one else can.

To disregard these exciting young bands and dismiss all music based on your very narrow listening is simply holding up the white flag and saying 'I surrender to pop music's unceasing novelty. Give me what I know, for it makes me comfortable and confirms my prejudices'.

Sure, the most exciting and creative music is mostly made by youngsters. I wouldn't say Primal Scream were ever that exciting or creative as they were always too in thrall to the past to shape the future; likewise, no one could accuse your mate Paul Weller of being much more than a revivalist. Even as a teenager in the late 70s, Weller was reheating the mid-60s mod sound. If he were really a modernist and his next record reflected a love of the latest underground dance sounds, his fans would be responsible for funeral pyres of Fred Perry t-shirts burning across England's suburbs.

You and Weller both rely on being normal and conformist to sustain careers and fan bases. If Primal Scream were American, they'd be seen as a third-rate Aerosmith and a second-class Black Crowes. For a long time it was really only the British weekly music press, a medium dependent on controversy and internecine scraps to fuel its weekly word count, that enjoyed your ill-informed diatribes. Now reduced to just the NME, the weekly music press doesn't need your pantomime villain theatrics. Which is just as well, as the few who might be most interested in reading about the next Primal Scream album will be subscribers of the cosy monthly heritage music magazines.

2011 has been interesting musically in many respects, not just for the cascade of thrilling guitar bands. Take the number of amazing records made by older folk, for instance. My favourite album of the year was No Time For Dreaming by Charles Bradley, a 61-year-old soul singer's debut record. At his London gig in the summer he stood on stage and thanked everyone from his heart for being there. It was no platitude, either: midway through the set, he walked through the audience and hugged everyone he could.

I'm not saying you should do that, Bobby, but if you had some of that humility, if you appreciated having fans instead of thinking of them as idiots you can master with some secondhand tunes and bullying rherotic, you'd be more likeable. And if you listened to some of the rock underground's latest sounds, you might find some much needed inspiration.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Sundray Tucker: If It Was Me

Regular readers of this blog (hi Brogues! hello Sir Elton!) will remember mention of Sunday's Ain't Got No Problems last week. Sunday might be more familiar to you as Cindy Scott for her northern anthems, the a and b pairing I Love You Baby/In Your Spare Time.

Released under her real name Sundray Tucker in 1981, If It Was Me is a straight up soul stepper you can file under modern classic.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Standard Fare: Out Of Sight, Out Of Town

Standard Fare are a rock band who play pop songs. Their big bold songs have killer grooves balanced by intense vulnerability. They glean with the shimmer of The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow and carouse with the jubilant punch of Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. Their second album Out Of Sight, Out Of Town is brilliant, dramatic and clever from start to finish.

Brilliant? The second song 05 11 07 reminded me immediately of Steve Earle’s I Ain’t Ever Satisfied; much later, a paean to an estranged relative, Half Sister, wonders “do you like Steve Earle?” This is a record made by music fans still in love with the magic of pop. You know at the beginning of the girl group floorshaker Dead Future that Emma Cooper and Danny How will engage in a call-and-response. Rather than make Standard Fare predictable, they sweep you up in their joyous celebration of pop music.

Dramatic? Take your pick. Any one of these songs is so powerful, whether in gigantic tunes or romantic desolation, it could raise the roof of the Royal Albert Hall. Just in Older Women you’ve got sapphism, inter-generational sex and bitter jealousy.

Clever? Again, so many choices, but just listen to Crystal Palatial. The opening line “I met her on a penny day” is a reference to the cheap entry shilling days at the Crystal Palace exhibition in 1851 which were quite the pick up joint. The break in the narrative for the authorial voice to advise “smoking’s bad” tells you more about the singer’s feelings and the relationship’s future than a whole verse could.

Emma Cooper’s bass has the same bounce that Andy Rourke used from his background in a Manchester soul band to lift The Smiths above the indie treadmill. Likewise, Danny How could expect Johnny Marr to give him one of his old guitars out of respect. I don’t much care for most bands who sound like The Smiths – I certainly don’t much care for The Smiths after 1984 – but in Standard Fare you’ve got a band that take the best of some great acts (Bruce Springsteen, Thin Lizzy, The Smiths, Steve Earle, for instance) and make it all their own.

I don’t know how many favourite bands I have; what I do know, though, is that when I listen to Out Of Sight, Out Of Time, Standard Fare are my favourite band.
Standard Fare - 051107 by In House Press

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The Voices

The highlight of the excellent new Eccentric Soul installment, The Nickel & Penny Labels, is both sides of the Voices' 1967 single, Fall In Love Again/Forever Is A Long, Long Time.

The Voices, all heavily pregnant with their first children during the recording, reconvened two years ago for an interview with the great Chicago Soul radio programme Sitting In The Park.

The Voices provided back up on one of my favourite Chicago soul singles, Ain't Got No Problems by Sunday. And here they are singing along to that, getting goosebumps, sounding great and looking fine. Now if you'll excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Monday 12 December 2011

The Jhamels: A Road To Nowhere

The Jhamels did superior sunny California soul with one eye on late night smoky nightclubs. I know about 5 singles - all miniature mod club gems - but A Road To Nowhere from 1967 is the classic. Thousands of great soul songs from this era disappeared, but I've no idea why this hasn't been reissued. Pop perfection in two minutes. You couldn't really ask for more.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

PMRC Indie: the sounds and swears of 2011

Each December I make an overview of the latest sounds for friends who don't have the time to keep their fingers on the pulse of what punk-ass kids with battered guitars and venereal diseases are shouting about in the squalor of their own making. Equally, it's for friends who do listen to a lot of new music but are happy to have their suspicions confirmed that actually they've either grown out of this crap or that they've heard it all before.

2011 has been a great year for music. Anyone who disagrees surely hasn't been looking hard enough, or we can just agree to differ. This is a celebration, not an argument.

These 25 songs are a representation of the richness and creative splendour of 2011. It's a guide, issued to friends in the hope that they might find new musical loves, not an awards ceremony.

PMRC? What the fuck?
Some recipients have kids. They might want to play Pink Motherfucker, for example, after the watershed.
C'mon, loser, just put up a download link.
Look, this is for friends who might buy stuff or could possibly just enjoy the compilation. I'm not giving away people's music. It's like a compilation tape.
What no Amor De Dias? It's an amazing album.
It is, but everyone's already got that album.
So you live in a world where if your friends have bought only one record, it's the Amor De Dias album?
"Bought" might be putting it a bit strongly, but yes.
Do you like actually know Amor De Dias?
We're on nodding terms at showbiz parties. No more, no less.
I am not your friend and to be honest I'm happy with it staying that way, but can I have a copy?
Seriously? Drop me an email.

Kissing Clouds - Sweet Bulbs
Black Eyes - The Twerps
Boys with Girlfriends - Bad Banana
Pepper Snake - The Cactus Channel
Ghetto Street - (thee ultimate) BABY J
Baby Your Lovin' - Electric Empire
Things I Like To Do - Lord Echo
No Sir, I'm Not A Christian - Terry Malts
I Will Kiss Anyone - Love Cuts
No Offense - SLUTEVER
Cult Hero Jonathan Lewin - Small Reactions
Senator - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Carol Stream - Four Eyes
Pink Motherfucker - Vein Cranes
Pushing Onlys - Woods
Tear It In Two - Real Numbers
Date It - Golden Grrrls
Privilege - CUFFS
Beg Me - DeRobert & The Half-Truths
Duh x12 - The Hairs
The Best Is Yet To Come - Mr President
Should Be Gone - The Feelies
Indiana Girls - The Happy Thoughts
Why Is It So Hard? - Charles Bradley
Fingers Of Dawn - The Bats

Sunday 4 December 2011

Weekend: Red

Weekend - Hazel by Slumberland Records
The most astonishing record of 2010 was All-American by Weekend: released in demo form, it summoned a violent upheaval that destroyed all other guitar bands in its wake. It was the sort of sonic destruction that happens rarely and leaves you open-mouthed and gasping for air: remember when you first heard My Bloody Valentine switch to You Made Me Realise? Weekend bolted out of the blocks full-throttle with a game-changer.

A year on from the Sports album, Weekend have been struck by lightning again. Somewhere in Red's volcanic maelstrom there are pop songs being kicked in the face. I can sense the ghost of AR Kane; there may be other reference points, but with Weekend there's the distinct idea that they're on their own.

Weekend's music is so impressive that other bands are bound to try to bottle their alchemy, but Weekend are surely the only band who can find the light in their own dark trail.

Yes, this ep came out ages ago. I held on for the delayed release of the splattered vinyl:

Saturday 3 December 2011

The Jam and Cockney Rejects

Probably more accurately 'Paul Weller and Cockney Rejects', England I Miss You was recorded in 1980, but its planned single release was apparently stopped by Weller. I have no more information than that.

My local second hand record shop got a stash of these in 1992. It's worth a listen.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Edwyn Collins - Down The Line

"Just understand I've lost some ground...this abstract sense of being is over now, it's in the past." Edwyn picks his way through personal hope by way of George Jones country and torch singer tragedy. Tread softly: this song will break your heart. EDWYN COLLINS - Down The Line by Analogue Enhanced Digital

Down The Line will be released on 12 December through itunes. The label say there'll be something for us vinyl lovers. I hope that means they'll stick out Down The Line on 7". I have even greater hope that digital sales will see it secure the Christmas number one spot.

There's a press release:

EDWYN COLLINS – Down The Line. Release date 12/12/11

This iTunes exclusive album is by way of a calling card. Throughout 2012 AED will be dusting off the Edwyn archives and releasing all his solo albums, in pristine order and tied up with a metaphorical bow. Mindful of how hard to track down much of this material has been, now that we have control of it all, we intend to do it justice at last.

But to whet the appetite, here is Down the Line, twelve songs recorded between 1989 and 2001, most of them flop singles, as was his wont, but all standing up well, we would attest. They are accompanied by a set of photographs taken by Ben Redgrove at the Queen Elizabeth Hall last year. Oh yes, and a new song, Down The Line, recorded last month, for Edwyn’s next album, due summer 2012, tentatively titled, Understated.

Hope and Despair
Ghost of a Chance
Everything and More
If You Could Love Me
A Girl Like You
The Campaign For Real Rock
The Magic Piper (of Love)
No-one Waved Goodbye
Johnny Teardrop
Back to the Backroom
Down the Line

Tuesday 22 November 2011

When The Go-Betweens were young

"Yeah," Forster agrees, "the music they [the Postcard label lot] were listening to in Scotland we just hadn't considered. Like...Donna Summer, Stax and bits of disco."

"It also came out of seeing the Gang of Four," McLennan added, "and the similarity in our rhythms. That's the thing we really came back with - the interest in rhythm."

This interview is taken from Inner City Sound, a collection of Australian fanzine articles from the late 70s and early 80s. No, it's not the full interview. Put the book on your xmas list. In the meantime, from the same book, enjoy a photo of Robert, Lindy and Grant blessed by youth's blossom. Robert, you will agree, has already perfected the doomed artist look after studying his Bob Dylan photos.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Golden Grrrls: New Pop

Glasgow's Golden Grrrls currently sound like the country's most exciting prospect: after the urgent buzzsaw riot of debut single Date It, the baton is passed to the snarling storm of New Pop.

They despatch New Pop in about 100 seconds in a blaze of fuzz and harmonies as if they were compelled to deliver it. There's nothing particularly new about their pop, of course, but every young band tries to reinvent the wheel: a handful manage it because of energy, passion, sheer class and alchemy. Golden Grrrls manage it and are way ahead of the pack. And before you ask, no, they sound nothing like the Shop Assistants. Leave those tired tributes to the American underground.

They played London twice this month and I only just found out. What a fucking loser.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Lord Echo: Things I Like To Do

Lord Echo blazed a trail about this time last year with his Melodies album - somewhere in the world right now, a nightclub's walls will be bouncing to the sound of his inspired version of Sister Sledge's Thinking Of You - and the New Zealand master is back with a new single, Things I Like To Do.

It's got all the same ingredients as before - King Tubby dub, NYC disco, Latin horns, funked-out fuzz - and therefore is absolutely essential.
Lord Echo - Things I Like To Do by bastardjazz

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Thee Makeout Party!

This post was going to be about the Jacuzzi Boys and how their album Glazin' was the first record of theirs I'd bought in four years. I got to thinking about how the Jacuzzi Boys had changed from superior garage rock to punchy bubblegum pop, and how I'd pretty much ignored them in the meantime.

Why? Well, the amount of good music being released is always outweighed by the amount of time and money I have. Some things slip by the wayside. I think I get most of the great stuff and some of the good stuff. Glazin' is a good bubblegum album.

Then I got to thinking how Glazin' has got absolutely nothing on Play Pretend by Thee Makeout Party!, a bubblegum punk masterpiece that sounds like the Ramones' End of the Century if it had been produced by Kasenatz and Katz instead of Phil Spector.

Thee Makeout Party! are pretty low on most people's radars. Compared to them, Jacuzzi Boys are in the rock'n'roll hall of fame. The low profile could be explained by a few factors. There's the slow release schedule (about four records in 10 years). The Billy Childish-influenced band name is a red herring. Image-wise, they might look like paid-up members of the Carnaby Street Historical Reenactment Society, but they're finding their way via UK post-punk and AM radio rock and bubblegum pop. Their one album, 2007's Play Pretend, has songs on it called Raspberries and Wreckless Epic. You get the idea.

You know as well as I do that some great bands get overlooked. This isn't me griping about how Thee Makeout Party! are unjustly ignored. Bands like that are never going to be big. They could be bigger, for sure, but most importantly they could make another record.

Which reminds me: what the fuck are Skipper up to? It's been too long. Skipper are fantastic.

Saturday 12 November 2011

No Sir, I'm Not A Christian

Wrecking-ball guitars, sledgehammer bass, a groove carved in stone, wit, sass and deranged feedback all in a minute-and-a-half. That's No Sir, I'm Not A Christian by Terry Malts. It reminds me of The Dragsters (does anyone remember The Dragsters?) and the Mary Chain and any number of firebrand punk kids who grew up on The Ramones and Spector.
No Sir, I'm Not A Christian by corey_lee
I slept on this record because I didn't like Malts's previous single. To be honest, I don't much care for the other tracks on this ep. No one's going to lose any sleep over that, I'm sure. I'm happy to pay a fiver for just that one 90-second punkpop peach.

There are singles I love so much I've never got round to playing the b-side. Another Girl, Another Planet is one of my favourite singles ever. I've played it hundreds of times. I've never flipped it over. I have got no idea what's on the other side of I've Got Wings by Ninotchka. My copy of Cold Game by Myron & E with the Soul Investigators is really scratchy because I got it about the same time I needed a new stylus. I was too busy playing the record to go to the shops to get a new stylus. I've still never played the b-side.

Sometimes, just one song on one side of vinyl can be all-consuming. No Sir, I'm Not A Christian is more than enough.

Monday 7 November 2011

The Flying Nun story

Flying Nun mainstay Shayne Carter (DoubleHappys, Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer) guest-edited New Zealand's Sunday Star Times magazine, published October 30, 2011. He did a brilliant job. The features are fascinating, stimulating, funny, charming and provocative. It's one of the best music journalism endeavours I can think of.

There's Martin Phillipps at home, there's Shayne Carter trying to trap Dunedin's alchemy (alochol, students, magic mushrooms growing in the harbour, winters that drag on for months: "you're braver when it doesn't really matter, less self-conscious when you think nobody's listening"), record shop owner Roy Colbert hilariously describing schoolboy patrons David Kilgour ("he always had a tennis ball in his back pocket...but maybe it was a puffed-up sock") and Alastair Galbraith giving the Queen the finger from the roof of his school.

At the very least, one of the UK or US music monthlies should reprint it. Ideally, Flying Nun should publish it as an anniversary pamphlet. Star on Sunday subscribers can access the complete magazine. There's a copy on ebay as I type. Before you secure a copy or Flying Nun license the articles, here are a few titbits:
The Clean

Look Blue Go Purple

Roger Shepherd

Saturday 5 November 2011

DoubleHappys dolls

During these Flying Nun 30th birthday celebrations my DoubleHappys figures have made me the envy of my friends. Not for the first time, I want you to know. These cut-out-and-keep beauties originally came with the DoubleHappys' 1985 ep Cut It Out (yes, I do see what they did there).

You too can now have the ultimate in interior design:

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Archers Of Loaf: Icky Mettle

Icky Mettle, Archers Of Loaf’s first album from 1993, is being reissued in the UK. Yeah, it did get reissued earlier this year in the US by a different label. The music industry dances to its own tune.

Whatever year or country you’re looking at Icky Mettle from, though, it sounds great. It’s full of angry noise from the harDCore scene, it’s got that skewed post-punk thing going on that Pavement were doing, it’s got catchy college rock riffs and it thankfully had fuck all to do with grunge.

Icky Mettle is in parts classic, in places wonderfully stupid and always fizzing with energy. There’s waspish bitterness on the anthemic Web In Front ("you're not the one who let me down/but thanks for offering"); snappy wisdom on my favourite track Plumb Line ("you can blame on your hat the thoughts in your head"); and total psychotic delirium on Toast, in which nothing but noise happens for three-and-a-half minutes until the scream THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH MY TOAST.
Archers Of Loaf - Web In Front by FIRE RECORDS

They’re playing at Cargo on December 11. And there’s a press release for those of you who like even more facts:

‘Icky Mettle' (deluxe edition)' remastered and reissued
on Fire Records on December 5th 2011

Fire Records will reissue all four Archers of Loaf studio albums, starting with their acclaimed 1993 debut album 'Icky Mettle'. Re-mastered by Bob Weston and featuring new liner notes by Robert Christgau, Icky Mettle will come with bonus material (packaged as a second disc with CD, and double LP) including the entire Archers of Loaf vs. The Greatest of All Time EP as well as singles and b-sides from the Icky Mettle era. This special 'Deluxe Edition' will be available on 2xCD, 2xvinyl and digital download.

Their last studio album was released in 1998 and since then Eric Bachmann (vocals/guitar) has pursued work in Crooked Fingers. After lying low for 13 years Bachmann, Eric Johnson (guitar), Matt Jentling (bass) and Mark Price (drums) began rehearsing again in 2010 and went on to test the water with some live dates earlier this year. Picking up right where they left off Archers of Loaf's well received performances asserted that their noisy lo-fi indie had been sorely missed.

With the recent resurgence of lo-fi-Indie-watchimacallit bands, it has never been so relevant to unearth these early recordings from Archers of Loaf, who embraced similar do-it-yourself ethics to such astounding effect. The track "Web in Front" earned the band a spot on the 'Pitchfork 500', a list which compiles the website's favourite songs from 1977 to 2006 and whose recent review awarded 'Icky Mettle (Deluxe Edition)' with best new reissue and an unprecedented 9 out of 10.

Sunday 30 October 2011

The Impressions - It's About Time

I've bought The Impressions' post-Curtis Mayfield albums more out of a sense of obligation than excitement. Even the Times Have Changed set, penned by Mayfield, is lacklustre. Two words, though, on The Impressions' 1976 lp, It's About Time, immediately quickened my pulse: McKinley Jackson.

You probably own or love a few records McKinley Jackson has been on. He led The Politicians, the house band for Holland, Dozier and Holland's Hot Wax and Invictus labels, so if you've got a Chairmen of the Board or Freda Payne record, then you'll know how he can marshal a band.

Not only is this album arranged and produced by McKinley Jackson, it's got Funk Brother luminaries James Jamerson, Jack Ashford and Eddie Bongo Brown, plus possibly 70's funk's greatest rhythm guitarist Ray Parker Jr (listen to the Honey Cone's Want Ads or Leo Sayer's You Make Me Feel Like Dancing for proof of his trademark choppy sound).

With Detroit's finest in the studio, the band is as tight as ten toes in a sock. The underrated songwriting team of Mervin & Melvin Steals wrote 7 of the 8 songs. What could go wrong? Nothing. Curiously, It's About Time remains obscured in soul music history's shadows. I recently bought a still-sealed copy for $5.

If you see it, or McKinley Jackson and the Politicians' 1972 lp, untrouser your wallet immediately.
The Impressions You'll Never Find

Tuesday 25 October 2011

The Primitives Peel Session

This Peel session comes from a time before The Primitives found studio polish and the charts. I reckon all those American bands of the past 5 years who sound a bit like the Shop Assistants might just have a fondness for The Primitives' raw melodicism as well.

I think this was spring 87. It shares tape space with sessions from Tbe Bodines, The Wedding Present and The Smiths anyhow.

Why upload this now? Well, The Primitives are playing at the Fortuna Pop birthday bash next week at the Scala - a few tickets are still available -and as label boss Sean Price once gave me free singles by Twinkie and Mogul, I owe him big time.

Am I going to the gig? No. I'm a humourless old shit who thinks The Primitives' best days are behind them.

She Don't Need You/Ocean Blue/Everything's Shining Bright/Dreamwalk Baby

Sunday 23 October 2011

About Lawrence of Belgravia

Lawrence of Belgravia is a beautifully shot film. It's more of a portrait of an English eccentric than a straight biography. Large sections of the narrative are provided by journalists interviewing Lawrence. Despite Lawrence's often outre responses, director Paul Kelly cleverly lets the camera linger on each journalist a fraction longer than you'd expect, suggesting that maybe it's the journalists who are the bizarre characters.

This thoughtful approach to Lawrence might not satisfy Felt fans, people who value lyrical poetry, classic pop and intense intropsection but forget the downtrodden defeatism of the opening to Black Ship In The Harbour ("I was a pauper/I was second class/I was a moment/That quickly passed") or the, um, declaration in Declaration that "I will have as my epitaph the second line of Black Ship In The Harbour".

Felt lasted from 1979-89; Lawrence of Belgravia is about Lawrence from 1978- 2011. Felt are about a third of the picture, then, and the film is, rightly, a tragicomedy about a lost genius who has never quite managed to separate myth from fact or his ego from reality.

Lawrence, as the film makes clear from the publication of a medical report, has mental health issues. We're not told how serious these are, which suggests that parts of the film are, actually, more bittersweet than funny.

Of course, Lawrence is a man who wrote a song about the Rwandan genocide and called it Drinkin' Um Bongo. He is enigmatic beyond explanation; while Lawrence of Belgravia might antagonise a few Felt fans (especially those who never got to grips with either Denim or Go-Kart Mozart) it will please many more, even those with no appreciation of who Lawrence is, as a sensitive and touching portrait of an eccentric artist.

Felt fans can have Riding On The Equator, from their last ever gig (Lawrence said in the film that Felt would never reform, not even for £100,000):

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Primal Scream's second Peel Session, 1986

Primal Scream's second Peel Session from 14 May 1986 (at least that’s what it says on my tape) featuring Tomorrow Ends Today, Leaves, and Bewitched and Bewildered, and starring Jim Beattie. Primal Scream at this point are all about Beattie. Without him they would’ve been nothing. And after he left they really did become nothing (statisticians: I’m talking quality terms, not record sales).

The best members of Primal Scream in the mid-80s:
1. Jim Beattie
2. Thomas McGurk, Martin St John, Paul Harte
5. Anyone else I’ve forgotten
6. Bobby Gillespie. Fuck me, he was an embarrassment. Still is.

Friday 14 October 2011

Lawrence of Belgravia

Can everyone please get over this idea that Felt had a masterplan to make 10 albums and 10 singles in 10 years? They didn't. What was that Lawrence told Melody Maker in December 1989?
I'm really looking forward to the film. Lawrence is a fascinating character and Felt are one of my favourite bands. But the widespread swallowing of the '10 myth' means it's always mentioned when people write about Felt or Lawrence.

There are far more interesting things about Felt than one fabrication which has caught the media's imagination. Like why did a band with such a distinct aesthetic publish guarantees of authenticity on their albums? Or why did contemporary Lloyd "read Norman Mailer or get a new tailor" Cole hit the charts but not Felt? Or why when about to play a London gig in 1987 in front of major labels and publishers, a potentially career-changing night, did Lawrence drop acid? He left the stage after 30 seconds because "everyone's looking at me".

I expect Lawrence of Belgravia will provide some answers and provoke more questions. And the BFI have, by simply getting the title right, given the film more respect than the Barbican did when it showed 20 minutes of footage three years ago:

Tuesday 11 October 2011

McCarthy - a Malcolm Eden interview

"I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of myself in a cracked mirror at the age of three, and although others have come and gone, I have remained true to this sparkling vision."

"I don't really regard the lyrics as political, however I do tend to write about 'the world' rather than myself. This is a practice I would like to see encouraged in young shamblers."
This interview is reproduced from Simply Thrilled Honey fanzine, originally published sometime around September 87.

If anyone knows where Malcolm Eden is, or if dear reader you are in fact Malcolm Eden, London's fashionable Scared To Dance club is very keen to secure your DJing services in exchange for cash money.

Friday 7 October 2011

David Kilgour plays The Clean

David Kilgour plays in The Clean, obviously, but this is him playing The Clean song Draw(in)g To A (W)hole solo in 1991, in Invercargill.

Draw(in)g To A (W)hole is on Vehicle, a record as influential to the indie undergound as James Brown's Funky Drummer has been to hip hop. Yes, Vehicle should be reissued, or at the very least English Heritage should put up a blue plaque outside Blackwing Studios where Vehicle was recorded.

"Bob Scott wrote that bassline."

Saturday 1 October 2011

The Hairs live last week

This is how it was: Buzzcocks spikiness, waspish Dunedin Sound jangle, short, sweet and dirty pop like Bee Thousand-era Guided By Voices, and the delirium of The Flaming Lips. Why can't more bands be this good?

The Hairs at Glasslands Gallery from Carlie Lazar on Vimeo.

Thursday 29 September 2011

It was a day in late September

It's always worth checking out singles on Roulette, as you've a chance of digging up some buried treasure on the cheap; Geraldine Hunt's You Brought Joy is just such a find. Co-written and co-produced by Leroy Hutson no less - the man who replaced Curtis Mayfield in The Impressions before creating a fine solo legacy - this 1973 single is a 70s soul gem. The "it was a day in late September" thing? It's the song's opening, which has always struck a chord. That's all.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Letter 5

A one-shot act on Flying Nun, The Letter 5's closest cousin would be The Chills' stately semi-psychedelia of Brave Words and the precise classicism of Sneaky Feelings. The baroque pop of Haunted House is the strongest track out of the seven on their 1991 ep. This is all I know.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Loud, Spotty and Weird

The Mary Chain were Smash Hits' cover stars, 16-29 July 1986.
"Obviously I find him incredibly irritating like today and obviously he does with me too. When I was younger, I used to pour boiling water over his back."

"When we make a record," fumes Jim, "it should go to number one."

"I couldn't even lift a TV," laughs William. "We've never been smash-up-hotel-room-types," agrees Jim. "If I go into a hotel room and the towels aren't properly arranged, I complain."

"When the group's gone, we'll have left behind these wonderful records and they will always be remembered. They might not get into the charts but so what?"

Monday 12 September 2011

The Visitors live in 1988

This live recording features old favourite Never Has Never Will (there's a kinship with McCarthy there, I reckon) and an unreleased song, Lovelorn and Dopey.

I got a fair few demo tapes back in the late 80s. The Visitors one I thought then was the best; Matinee were right to issue their recordings, Nuggets style, in 2000. If you haven't got that collection, Miss, grab your chance.

I asked former Visitors singer Tim Hopkins about this. After expressing relief that this was made after he'd left the band he exclaimed:
Blimes a desk recording! I have half an idea this was made at a show I wasn't at, maybe supporting the Bodines at Exeter Lemon Grove.

Friday 9 September 2011

The Bats: Other Side Of You live in 1991

The Bats on top form, live in Invercargill in 1991, a reminder, among other things, that they've shone brightly for decades and that Paul Kean is as essential to the indiepop bass sound as Chris Hillman:

You'll know that there's a new Bats album, Free All Monsters, out next month and there's a video for that song? It sounds more like At The National Grid than The Guilty Office. On balance, this could be a good thing; TGO has got the greater share of pop classics (if there's ever a post-Compiletely, The Orchard will be one of the key songs), but ATNG is stronger start to finish:

Thursday 8 September 2011

David Woods - On The Green Alone

Tiger & Woods' recent Through The Green album confirmed them as masters of (new genre alert!) disco-funk-boogie, although as the new songs weren't quite so hot as the old, it was a really a collection of their singles from the past two years with a few add-ons.

David Woods' new ep, On The Green Alone, matches the quality of his Tiger & Woods singles. If you think that two of the best singles of the early 90s are En Vogue's My Lovin'(You're Never Gonna Get It), which forms the basis of On The Green Alone's lead track, License To Drill, and Shanice's I Love Your Smile, and you like your disco sleazy in the NYC early 80s style, then you'll love this.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Electric Empire: Baby Your Lovin

In Australia last year, a friend was bemoaning the tide of domestic soul and funk. He hadn’t been listening to The Transatlantics, The Bamboos or Kylie Auldist; this year, the case for Australian soul has been made even stronger by the astonishing Cactus Channel debut and, now, Baby Your Lovin by Electric Empire which beautifully recalls that tightly relaxed Hi soul sound and whose distinctive bassline had me reaching for Turn Back The Hands Of Time by Tyrone Davis.

I expect my friend is right in saying that there is a lot of crappy soul in Australia; there’s a lot of crappy music of every genre everywhere. I do know, however, that there’s some brilliant soul coming out of Australia. I bet there’s some I haven’t heard yet. Any recommendations welcome.

Wednesday 31 August 2011

(Thee Ultimate) Baby J

Ghetto Street is a 90-second folk-punk blast with the DIY pop hit of First Base, the teen ambition of fellow Californians Moses Campbell and the ramshackle assurance of the Mountain Goats. Is it available to stream? Is it fuck. Go and buy it.

The other five songs on the Looking For A Sign 7" are stripped down to the bone and set straight from the heart. You want a Moldy Peaches without the goofiness? You got it.

Monday 29 August 2011

Big Troubles and Mitch Easter

Mitch Easter is synonymous with the classic college rock sound. You almost certainly own some records he's produced (the early REM albums, for instance). I bet the smart ones among you picked up Boy Genius's second album, Staggering, last year, which Easter produced.

He's the go-to man for any band wanting the power pop sound just right (Velvet Crush, DM3, The Hummingbirds). Big Troubles, this year's most exciting prospect after their Worry album rightly took home all of 2010's lo-fi pop plaudits, have assembled themselves with a fixed line-up and got Easter at the controls.

The Sad Girls/Phantom single makes a strong claim that Big Troubles' second album, Romantic Comedy, will be among the very best credits on Mitch Easter's CV. You can hear that Sad Girls sits comfortably in the Easter/classic college rock/power pop pantheon:

Wednesday 24 August 2011

The Pastels and Stereolab zine

The Pamfletti zine was published in September 93 in conjunction with The Pastels/Stereolab gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Here are some highlights:

Stephen Pastel celebrates Edinburgh and Glasgow. His thoughts appear to been informed by the Modern Lovers' Roadrunner:

Laetitia Sadier talks about setting up Duophonic Super 45s:

Bob Stanley goes on a crusade for Euro unity by considering the mastery of Michel Polnareff:

Aggi mourns Paul's Deli, a lesson in under-achievement:

Katrina's Top 10, in perverse order:

Tim Gane recommends records you should definitely buy if you see 'em in a car boot sale or second-hand shop for cheap:

Monday 22 August 2011

Small Reactions: Nerve Pop

It was 20 years ago that the dogged fury of Dinosaur Jr (Green Mind), the casually classic rock of Teenage Fanclub (Bandwagonesque) and the incessant hooks of Stereolab (those first two eps) sowed the seeds for Small Reactions. They've made those influences their own and called it Nerve Pop. It's amazing. There's even some Duane Eddy in there. I don't know why. Like everything Small Reactions do, though, it feels right.

Thursday 18 August 2011

The Twerps: Black Eyes

Melbourne's Twerps attack 60s garage pop through a punk prism similar to The Chills and The Clean in the early 80s and then cling to it for dear life. It's this urgent desperation that makes Black Eyes - and recent sonic adventures like Somebody Else by The Babies and Bright Eyes by The Muslims - essential listening.

This single's on Underwater Peoples; there's another one on Group Tightener, but that hasn't hit the UK import racks yet. Exciting times, I'm sure you'll agree.

TWERPS from Johann Rashid on Vimeo.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Fudge interview

Following the flurry of interest around Fudge and shouts for a retrospective, I'm happy to reproduce an interview they did with Waterbomb! fanzine (I think this was late 1991) where we learn that a Fudge album would have been called I Wish I Were A Fish.

Saturday 13 August 2011

The Orchids Peel Session

"The Orchids, operating at the more muscular end of the Sarah Records spectrum and sounding very good too," John Peel, 8 May 1990.

The sound quality isn't brilliant (I used a clock radio tape recorder combination, which isn't the highest of fidelities) and the first song is rudely interrupted by police radio screeching through the urban jungles of south London. And for some reason I didn't record Dirty Clothing, so this is three-quarters of that session.

Still, Frank Desalvo, And When I Wake Up, and Caveman all sound excellent. They really were the best band on Sarah. Let no one tell you any different, especially not that cloth-eared cockfarmer at indiemp3 (hi, Tom!).

EDIT: Dirty Clothing has been provided by the estimable Marianthi, so the session is now complete:

Thursday 11 August 2011

The Honey-B's: What Love Can Do

Timmion, home of the contemporary soul classic, have burnished their reputation by reissuing The Honey-B's What Love Can Do. Unless you've got a grand to spare and can find an original, Finland's soul heartland is the place to buy this gem.

Monday 8 August 2011

Saybe Mo, Naybe Mo

German producer Dexter has the right idea: Mayer Hawthorne's cover of The New Holidays' Maybe So, Maybe No is too straight and needs a bit of work. Sure, it's a crackling vinyl, 80s beats re-work, but it's an improvement on Mayer's take. And you've got to love the "sorry, wrong beat!" sample right at the start that kicks out Mayer and kicks off Dexter's remix:

Out now on a 3-track 7" through Melting Pot.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Pristine Christine demo

I got a Sea Urchins demo tape in the summer of 87. I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I'd written to them expressing my devotion to Cling Film and Summershine. They very kindly sent me a tape featuring a demo of Pristine Christine:

The tape had three other songs: Everglades (the version that appeared on the b-side to Pristine Christine), Walking With Happy (later titled You're So Much when released on the Stardust compilation) and a live song called Said (re-named Sullen Eyes when it joined Everglades on the b-side).

Archivists might want to know that Pristine Christine was released on 14 November 1987. This fact is unlikely to help you in a pop quiz.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

The Fudge Revival

No less an authority than Gold-Bears, architects of full-throttled punk-pop 2011-style, are calling for a Fudge retrospective. Their point is well made. Girl Wish is so good a song it was released twice, first on flexi then on proper vinyl:

The Super Fly single gives us the background on Fudge and their previous band, Engine No9, whose one single, Sleep, is a pop classic.

My five pounds says Big Troubles have a copy of Sleep in their collection.

I count 8 Fudge songs over three singles and two Engine No9 songs. Maybe there were some compilation tracks. Whatever, there's a great retrospective to be issued right there.