Wednesday, March 29, 2006

reach for the lasers

I am probably not the best person to ask about the Acid House summer of 1988. I was much too busy mourning the death of The Smiths, worshipping any band with semi-acoustic guitars and training my quiff. I was loved up but not in the acid sense of the word. I guess it's like the cliche about the '60's, if you CAN remember it, you weren't really there. Lancaster University wasn't exactly the hub of the new Dance culture but Manchester is just down the road and once the guitar bands like The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and co started playing at the Sugarhouse the fringes got floppier and trousers got wider and everyone found a hitherto untapped dance element in their youth culture.

Inner City- Good Life

So why 'Good Life'? Well this tune (Chhhooooooonnnn) crossed over for me, a regular dancefloor filler that united all the people (except Goths) and sounds great when you play it loud. Analogue and Digital, it's machine music with soul. Nice one.

Buy Good Life- The Best of Inner City here

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

palace of earthly delights

This one's a request from Ox...

Palace Brothers - Ohio River Boat Song

It never fails to make the hairs stand on end as it gets louder and faster towards the end - especially when the backing vocals shift from doubling the melody to parched harmonies on the last verse. I get chills just thinking about it!
And her dance is like the gleam,
Of the sunlight on the stream.
And the screeching bluejays seem,
To form her name when screaming.
But my heart is full of woe,
And the tears begin to flow,
As I sing the whole day through.
There did exist a recording of a drunken Domino attempting this 'round a campfire - sadly, it has been lost...

I've already talked at length about the early years of the band - how we switched from being grumpy "pro-sounds-Slint/Fugazi-wannabes" to recording everything at home with our mates. This was the track that made us switch.

We'd recorded in 'proper' studios before (because that was just WHAT YOU DID at the time) but this single and the "There Is No-One What Will Take Care Of You" album that followed made us realise that it was ok to record songs in a rough and ready way, at home, on borrowed equipment, with your mates. And if anything, you'd end up with something with more warmth and personality than you'd get elsewhere.

Now, I'm not calling for a decree outlawing recording studios or a 4-track portastudio in every home. Neither am I calling every 'lo-fi' artist a "true, untarnished genius" (lord knows, I've heard enough early Beat Happening to suggest otherwise...). But the early Palace stuff really opened our minds to a new way of working.

I remember seeing them upstairs at the Narrowboat in Nottingham in 1993/1994. They opened the set with THE. WORST. version of "The Cellar Song" you could ever hope to hear - it was all over the shop, sound was terrible, the violin player was miles away from the tune. Second song kind of passed by in a blur, the third song was a truly majestic version of "Ohio..." and the rest of the gig was amazing. If anyone has any idea about the tracklisting for that gig, I'd love to know what the calypso (kind of) was they played for that second encore...

Palace Brothers - Don't I Look Good Today

This track is from a compilation of Louisville bands, "Louisville Sluggers III", released around the same time by Self-Destruct records, which I'd guess is no longer available.

Buy - There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You
Buy - Lost Blues and Other Songs
Visit - The Royal Stable

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

second century

Time for another self-regarding post as we've gone over our second tonne. Most of these tracks are long gone but follow the links to read our dazzling prose and buy some music!

101) Servotron - I Sing! The Body Cybernetic
102) Servotron - Erotomatica
103) Langhorne Slim - And If It's True
104) Langhorne Slim - Mary
105) Langhorne Slim - Loretta Lee Jones
106) William Bell - Will You Love Me Tomorrow
107) Cheap Trick - Hello There
108) Cheap Trick - He's a Whore
109) Bill Nelson - Do you dream in colour
110) Bill Nelson - Living in my Limousine
111) Silver Jews - Black And Brown Blues
112) Silver Jews - Pet Politics
113) Silver Jews - Random Rules
114) Silver Jews - Animal Shapes
115) Taraf de Haïdouks - The Return Of The Magic Horses
116) Taraf de Haïdouks - Absinth I Drink You, Absinth I Eat You
117) The Glass Family - House Of Glass
118) Next Exit - Break Away
119) The Association - Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies
120) The Pale Fountains - You'll Start A War
121) The Pale Fountains - From Across The Kitchen Table
122) Rabbinical School Dropouts - Cosmic Tree
123) Rabbinical School Dropouts - Semitic Slam
124) Guided By Voices - Surgical Focus
125) Guided By Voices - Teenage FBI
126) Guided By Voices - Things I Will Keep
127) Guided By Voices - The Best Of Jill Hives
128) Billy Joel - Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
129) Johnny Domino - This One's For The Kid
130) The Bad Plus - Rhinoceros Is My Profession
131) The Bad Plus - Flim (Aphex Twin cover - live in Tokyo)
132) Squeeze - Pulling mussels (from the shell)
133) Squeeze - Is that love?
134) The Fiery Furnaces - Asthma Attack
135) The Fiery Furnaces - Two Fat Feet
136) The Fiery Furnaces - Chris Michaels
137) Frank Zappa - Peaches En Regalia
138) The Chameleons - Don't Fall
139) The Chameleons - Second Skin
140) Smokey Hogg - Born On The 13th
141) John Lee Hooker - Black Cat Blues
142) Percy Mayfield - Please Believe Me
143) The Holywood Flames - Tabarin
144) Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken - June In December
145) Frankie Machine - Shilton's Fingertips
146) Johnny Domino - I Saw Three Ships
147) Lindisfarne - Meet Me On The Corner
148) De La Soul - Simply
149) De La Soul - Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa
150) The Coral - She Sings The Mourning
151) The Coral - So Long Ago
152) They Might Be Giants - Vancouver
153) They Might Be Giants - New Orleans
154) They Might Be Giants - Minneapolis
155) They Might Be Giants - Renew My Subscription
156) The Byrds - Triad
157) The Byrds - Lady friend
158) The Pharcyde - 4 Better Or 4 Worse
159) The Pharcyde - Pack The Pipe
160) The Pharcyde - Return Of The B-Boy
161) Mary Margaret O'Hara - Body's In Trouble
162) Mary Margaret O'Hara - When You Know Why You're Happy
163) Spearmint - Sweeping the Nation
164) Dexys Midnight Runners - There, There My Dear
165) Plans And Apologies - Brainz
166) Nick Heyward - Blue Hat For A Blue Day
167) Miles Davis - In A Silent Way (Rehearsal)
168) Miles Davis - In A Silent Way
169) Common Feat.Bilal - Aquarius
170) Common Feat.Erykah Badu - Jimi Was A Rock Star
171) The Dukes Of Stratosphear - Vanishing Girl
172) The Hollies - King Midas in Reverse
173) The Move - I can hear the grass grow
174) Tomorrow - My White Bicycle
175) Soundgarden - Sub Pop Rock City
176) Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings - Green Pastures (live)
177) Lisa Germano - Small Heads
178) The High Llamas - Theatreland
179) Marvin Gaye - Why Did I Choose You
180) Marvin Gaye - The Shadow Of Your Smile
181) The Muppets - Tenderly
182) The Muppets - Cottleston Pie
183) The Muppets - Simon Smith & His Amazing Dancing Bear
184) Randy Newman - Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear
185) The Muppets - Hugga Wugga
186) Arlo Guthrie - Coming Into Los Angeles
187) Thomas Dolby - Windpower
188) Thomas Dolby - One of our Submarines
189) The B-52's - There's A Moon In The Sky (called the moon)
190) The B-52's - Running Around (instr)
191) The B-52's - Cake
192) The B-52's - Topaz
193) The B-52's - Rock Lobster (DB Records version)
194) The B-52's - 52 Girls (DB Records version)
195) Felt - Crystal Ball
196) Felt - Fortune
197) The Police - On Any Other Day
198) The Police - Peanuts
199) Klark Kent - Don't Care
200) Orange Juice - Falling and Laughing
201) Orange Juice - Craziest Feeling
202) Orange Juice - What Presence?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

the strangest manifestation

Orange Juice have received a fair bit of press recently. Edwyn seems to be recovering from his life threatening illness and their was the interest created by Franz Ferdinand's debt to their Scottish forefathers and the subsequent Postcard retrospective 'The Glasgow School'. I'm here to stick up for Orange Juice in their Polydor era, less hip than the 'Sound of Young Scotland' years but equally nourshing.

Orange Juice- Falling and Laughing

What drew me to Edwyn Collins' songwriting and still keeps me coming back for more is the combination of romanticism, humour and wordplay....the same things I get when I read PG Wodehouse. This version of 'Falling and Laughing' is more polished than the Postcard version and the line 'only my dreams satisfy the real needs of my heart' is one of those great lovelorn teenager lines that POP music is all about.

Orange Juice- Craziest Feeling

Craziest Feeling is from the 'Texas Fever' mini album. Here Edwyn does his 'soul' voiceover. Orange Juice helped to launch a thousand spindly white boy guitar bands who usually missed the point that the 'Juice were trying to synthesise the soul and funk that they loved through their untutored Glaswegian technique. It reminds me of the teenage Steve Marriott trying to be Otis or Solomon Burke, the fact they don't quite get there makes it all the more appealing.

Orange Juice- What Presence?!

If I had to pick a favourite OJ song it would have to be 'What Presence?', those clanging guitars and that easy flow of rhymes sung in that odd fruity it! Love 'em!

Buy Orange Juice- The Glasgow School here

This is his career as Edwyn sees it

Cheer Edwyn on here

Thursday, March 16, 2006

if you don't like my arrogance you can suck my socks

Continuing the vinyl excavation for this post – really this should have come straight after The Muppets as The Police were the first band I ever loved.

I remember asking for a copy of The Shadows’ Greatest Hits for my 6th birthday. My Dad refused to buy it for me so I asked for and got “Regatta De Blanc” by The Police. I remember me, an 8-year-old Ox and our slightly older cousin, known to us as Cool D’Rall, pogo-ing around my dad’s Amstrad “Hi-Fi”.

The Police – On Any Other Day

Luckily the spoken bit at the start of the track went over my head. I don’t think that early exposure to foul language has had any f**king effect on me, but it’s scary to note how many times my brother and I have (subconsciously?) tried to re-write that chorus – angular, syncopated power-chords and all. Your thoughts please, Ox!

I also wonder if the guitar solo on “Peanuts” (from their first album, “Outlandos D’Amour”) in some way led me to Sonic Youth, Trumans Water, assorted guitar manglers and free jazz – I dunno, but that solo is still pretty mental.

The Police – Peanuts

The A&R man for A&M Records said that he was initially drawn to the group because of the “incredible tension between Sting and Stewart (Copeland) – they clearly loathed each other”. This was a band where the drummer wrote a message to the singer across three tom-toms to vent his frustration (“f**k”, “you”, “c**t”, if I remember rightly). Whatever, in 1978 Copeland released a couple of singles under the name Klark Kent, playing all of the instruments himself on this great track which, y’know, sounds a bit like The Police.

Klark Kent – Don’t Care
(taken from "1234 - Punk and New Wave 1976-1979")

As the picture above demonstrates – from the Sundance Film Festival in January, where Copeland’s documentary about The Police was screened – relations are slightly better between band members these days. At least they’ve got Sting to laugh at.

Visit - Stewart Copeland for more about The Police documentary
Visit - The Police on Wikipedia
Buy - Regatta De Blanc
Buy - Outlandos D'Amour
Buy - 1234 - Punk and New Wave 1976-1979 [Box set]

Sunday, March 12, 2006

space blues

The story of Felt is your typical tale of missed opportunity and glorious failure. The central character is Lawrence Hayward, Felt's wayward lead singer and pop obsessive. The world of indie is littered with stories about his eccentricity, his mania for cleanliness, sacking a bass player for having curly hair and seemingly deliberate hamstringing of his own career. You can read about this in David Cavanagh's excellent book 'My magpie eyes are hungry for the prize'. All good gossip I'm sure but what stands out for me is the unique music of Felt.

Felt- Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball always moves me. The standard Indie Velvets/NYC influences are obvious but there is a very English melancholy here. Lawrence sounds old before his time, resigned to his fate while Maurice Deebank's guitar scribbles across the song in constant flowing lines, it's a distinctly un-rock way of playing guitar. As far as I'm concerned this is their finest moment.

Felt- Fortune

Fortune again shows the doomed beauty that is typical of their music for Cherry Red. When they moved to Creation things got a little more gutsy especially when Martin Duffy brought his virtuoso Hammond playing to the band and Maurice Deebank had left under a cloud. Felt deserve your attention.

Buy 'My Magpie eyes are hungry for the prize' here

The best compilation of the Cherry Red period Felt that I have focused on here is 'Absolute Classic Masterpieces'

These songs are for everybody out there but especially for our friend Tim who has just returned from his overseas adventures, these are for you mate, just don't expect any Cure!

Friday, March 10, 2006

just don't mention the flintstones...

We're almost at our first blog birthday (presents to the usual address) and it seems criminal that we've only mentioned The B-52's once (here). Following the vinyl excavation that led to the SCARILY popular Muppets post, I've delved into my B-52's back catalogue to give you some nuggets a bit further off the beaten track.

The B-52s - There's A Moon In The Sky (called the moon)

For some reason this never appears on "best-of"s, but it's one of my favourite tracks from their self-titled debut. Great title, bonkers lyrics, fantastic vocals and, as always, the brilliant scrathy guitar playing of Ricky Wilson. See also...

The B-52s - Running Around (instrumental version)

... which crops up on the b-side of the first Island pressing of the "Rock Lobster" 7-inch. It's an instrumental version of a track that would later appear on "Wild Planet", but this (unfinished?) backing track sounds better to my ears than the later version. Lord knows what guitar tuning Ricky was using (I think he only used 5 strings??) but it's SUCH a great sound - all gnarly and rusted and chunky!

The B-52s - Cake

This is from the "Mesopotamia" album, which I think gets a bad press. The album was produced by David Byrne, who brought in a lot of additional players from the Talking Heads live band of the time to fill the sound out. It's a more serious album on the whole and it features two extended groove-fests, opener "Loveland" and "Cake", which is great, depsite featuring one of THE most half-arsed talkie-bits ever recorded.

If you're looking for a B-52's introduction, you could do a lot worse than Rhino's "Nude On The Moon" double CD, which features all of the "Cosmic Thing" album, bar this track, which is my favourite.

The B-52s - Topaz

Yes, the lyrics might be a bit new-age-y, but oh lord can those ladies sing. Beautiful harmonies - and if I remember rightly, that's Nile Rodgers on guitar.

... because we love you!

The B-52s - Rock Lobster (DB Records version)
The B-52s - 52 Girls (DB Records version

These are the 8-track versions that were released as a 7-inch in 1978 by DB Records before the band got signed. Neither version will drastically change the way you feel about the widely released tracks but if you're a fan, I'm sure you'll be interested to hear these early takes if you've never been able to track down a copy yourself. Enjoy!

Visit -
Read - The B-52s Wikipedia entry
Buy - B-52's albums.
Buy - Nude on the Moon: the B-52's Anthology [Us Import]

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dogger, Fisher, German Bight

Along with many other Brits I have a thing for the Shipping Forecast. I love that feeling of driving late at night with that strange mantra of shipping areas and weather warnings and feeling heartily glad that I'm not one of the poor sods in peril on the sea. Thomas Dolby must have knowingly tuned into this feeling when he put an excerpt of the Shipping Forecast read by John 'Boggy' Marsh at the end of Windpower.

Thomas Dolby- Windpower

Dolby was sold to 80's audiences as a 'Mad Professor' figure probably because he played synths, was kind of clever and ...oh...he wore glasses! I first became aware of him on a BBC 1 talent show fronted by David Essex, obviously. His first album 'The Golden Age of Wireless' is full of clever songs, he was a brilliant synth programmer but it never sounds cold or technical like many albums of its fact it sounds very elemental. Is it just me or does 'One of our Submarines' nick the Six Million Dollar Man theme tune?

Thomas Dolby- One of our Submarines

Thomas Dolby went on to produce Prefab Sprout producing strange and lovely atmospheres for Paddy MacAloon's songs. His second album 'The Flat Earth' has its moments but as is often the case, the first one is the one to get.

Buy 'The Golden Age of Wireless' by Thomas Dolby


from the comments to the original post

stevedomino - "my fiancee's response to marc-o's latest post:

"thomas dolby?? that's not a name i thought i'd hear again..."

not too sure about that, 'windpower' was a track i really liked at the time (which album has "hyperactive"?? did magnus pike appear in the video?)

marc-o. have you bought any albums since "max headroom" was cancelled?!

coming next: howard jones' 'the 12" album'!!!"

Friday, March 03, 2006

don't touch my bags, if you please, mr. customs man

A quick post to wish our near-silent blogging partner Jim all the best on his travels, as he leaves us for 3 weeks to visit far-off places. We wish him well and a safe and speedy return. He's not going to Los Angeles, but I was planning on posting this track at some point.

Arlo Guthrie - Coming Into Los Angeles

Remember when people did tapes? I first heard this track on a mix-tape our friend Sally-Ann did WAY back in the day. She made us some great mixes that I still listen to now - howdy, if you're out there, Sally-Ann.

I always loved the acoustic guitar playing on this track - if you really concentrate on it, it's kind of hypnotic. The whole recording is super laid-back and smooth - love it!

And Jim - make sure you pack your OWN cases, dood.

Buy - the best of Arlo Guthrie
Visit - Arlo Guthrie