Sunday 26 August 2018

Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes

All of these were sent in one standard letter envelope in early 1990. It's worth remembering that back then bands and labels put a lot of money into printing and postage to get fans to buy records and merch, and find out about tour dates.

Yes, bands did sell more than 300 copies of a 7" single then, but the promotional overheads before email and social media were pretty high. And just breaking even was still a pretty good result.

This package came with Desperadoes dollars. They were not redeemable against any of the merch.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Felt: the second five albums

Forever Breathes The Lonely Word
The archetypal second period Felt sound - Dylan’s wild mercury sound, poetry and pop - is this album. The Dylan influence had been suggested by the previous single Ballad of the Band, especially on the sleeve which was a clear reference to Dylan’s album Desire.

This is many people’s favourite Felt album. They’re wrong. I have a different opinion. It’s still brilliant, though.

Poem of the River
The opening song Declaration sees Lawrence, never a stranger to the maudlin, announce: "I will have as my epitaph the second line of Black Ship In The Harbour". That second line? "I was a pauper/I was second class/I was a moment/That quickly passed.”

That’s the start of Felt’s best album of their second phase. They made a number of records that deserved to make them successful. Poem of the River should have made them massive.

The Pictorial Jackson Review

Side one is 8 pop songs that mostly check in at around the 2-minute mark. It’s very easy to imagine any of them being near the top of the charts as singles. Lawrence never wrote such a sustained body of joyous, faultless pop songs.

Side two is a couple of cocktail jazz numbers written by Martin Duffy. Oh dear.
(8/10 - 10 for side one, 0 for side two)

Train Above The City
Felt was Lawrence’s idea, but it would have amounted to nothing without guitar virtuoso Maurice Deebank. When Deebank left, Lawrence recruited organ supremo Martin Duffy. Lawrence was in awe of both musicians during their respective tenures. Too much so in the case of Duffy who he let write a jazz album.

Lawrence wrote the song titles, which are glorious. I give you Press Softly On The Brakes Holly as an example.
(0 for the music, 8 for the song titles)

Me and a Monkey on the Moon
Maurice Deebank correctly said: “Even the albums that were made after I left have my fingerprints all over them.” On the final Felt chapter, Lawrence recruits John Mohan, formerly of The Servants, the only guitarist capable of recreating the Deebank sound.

Mobile Shack's moog and chugging rhythm points to where Lawrence would get to with Back in Denim, and where early 90s indie went, many of them on magazine front pages, the telly and the charts. Lawrence was never in the right place at the right time to achieve his dream of fame, but many of these records remain timeless.

Not enough for you? I wrote about the first 5 Felt albums.

Cherry Red reissue the second set of Felt's albums on 21 September 2018.

Monday 6 August 2018

The Plastic Shoelaces - Reading the Maker

“You don’t care about my band, I can’t say I blame you, We’re just sitting here doing the same things, Same way since we were teenagers…We don’t care if anybody ever hears it.”

True, Scott Miller *is* doing pretty much the same thing as ever. This is the guy whose band Bright Ideas made an album called ...And Don't The Kids Just Like It (which I haven’t heard but can imagine what buttons it presses) and a single called Raincoats (which I own and adore).

Miller’s speciality is scratchy punk and off-kilter jangle, no expense spent and every effort expended. He once had an ace band called The English Singles, which tells you where he’s coming from. So, yeah, the Television Personalities and the Raincoats, and if I’m not mistaken the Marine Girls’ self-titled ditty is the inspiration for Being A Man.

Reading the Maker is simple and effective. Miller and friends might have one foot (okay, both feet) stuck in the past, but they can carry on doing the same thing forever. So long as pop music this good is being made and sold cheaply I get the feeling that everything’s going to be okay.