Saturday, 18 September 2021

Pleasure, Joy And Happiness

What originally started as an intentionally tongue-in-cheek post about 90s soul pop Charles & Eddie led me down an unexpected rabbit hole...
Charles & Eddie, aka Charles Pettigrew & Eddie Chacon, were an American soul music duo who had a UK #1 for 2 weeks in October 1992 with Would I Lie To You? The parent album Duophonic reached #19 but none of their subsequent singles troubled the Top 20. After a follow up album in 1995, Charles & Eddie amicably went their separate ways.

I'd describe Charles & Eddie as a guilty pleasure, only I don't feel any guilt whatsoever. Whilst other 1992 favourites included the Broken and Fixed EPs by Nine Inch Nails, the two Radiccio 12" singles by Orbital and Fear Loves This Place by Julian Cope, I had a lot of love for Would I Lie to You? Part of the affection came from my enduring impression that Eddie was throwing his poor mate Charles under the bus. Bear with me...
The basic gist of the song is that Charles is trying to convince his lover that he is faithful, in the face of rumours to the contrary. It's not revealed who has been spreading this malicious gossip, but I think it's obvious that the perpetrator is hiding in plain sight.

Charles continually pleads "Don't you know it's true girl,  there's no one else but you! Would I lie to you, baby?" to which Eddie responds "Oh, yeah!"

Clearly, Eddie thought the subject of Charles' impassioned argument was with the wrong guy and was trying his darndest to split them up. Who needs enemies with friends like these?!

Great song, though.

What started as a one (admittedly not very funny) joke and (I thought) fairly quick and simple post took a turn when I looked up Charles & Eddie to write the opening intro/background. I knew that Charles had passed away but I wasn't aware that he'd joined Tom Tom Club in 1998 and remained a member until his death in 2001. To be honest, the one studio album he appeared on, 2000's The Good The Bad And The Funky, is a far cry from their 1980s peak. 
Eddie's subsequent musical career, however, is far more interesting...
After a break of almost 15 years, Eddie's next musical venture was again as a duo, this time with wife Sissy Sainte-Marie as The Polyamorous Affair. They released three albums between 2008 and 2010 and, from what I've heard so far, it's compelling 'disturbdance' music (to pinch a phrase from Propaganda's Wishful Thinking). The videos, including 2009's White Hot Magic and the 'Uncut Director's Cut' of 2010's Softer And Softer, are also equally dark and funny. I'm not quite so sure about their cover of Lou Reed's Satellite Of Love, although it's a darn sight better than U2's excruciating version.
After another near-decade break from music, Eddie re-emerged last July with debut solo album, Pleasure, Joy And Happiness. The promo describes it as "a thoughtfully considered album of quiet, confident R&B: it doesn't jump out at you, but rather gets in you". Having listened to it for the first time whilst writing this post, that's a pretty spot on description. Described elsewhere as "celestial soul music", it's heartfelt, late hours music with understated vocals that mark out that this is a man who has lost, lived and grown in the 30 years since Duophonic. John Carroll Kirby is a sympathetic producer, letting the music underpin and not overwhelm Chacon's vocals. It's also a refreshingly brisk album: 8 songs in under 30 minutes, with no filler to pad out a 'normal' vinyl or CD album length.
There are a couple of interviews with Eddie from September 2020 that provide further background and insight into the album and the songs that inspired it, with Aquarium Drunkard and Andrew Male in The Guardian. You can buy Pleasure, Joy And Happiness on Eddie's Bandcamp page;  you will need to trawl other channels to get hold of a physical copy.

This is why I love music so much. A random shuffle to an old song can take you to somewhere new and surprising.

Friday, 17 September 2021

(Millions Of People) No One Like You

I was sad to read of the passing of inventor and computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair yesterday. Sinclair's singular greatest achievement was the ZX series of computers in the 1980s, though he will also be remembered for his heroic failure, unsuccessfully launching an electric vehicle, the C5, back in 1984.

Most of my school friends had the ZX81 or the subsequent ZX Spectrum. I went down a different path, starting off with a Dragon 32 then upgrading to a Commodore 64, both shared with my older brother. As with most tech, we were a couple of years behind everyone else, so I think we wouldn't have got one until 1983/84. My parents took a lot of persuading and we presented a convincing argument that it would be hugely beneficial for our school work and educational enrichment. If I'm honest, particularly when it came to the C64 upgrade, I was only interested in the games, especially the Frankie Goes To Hollywood one with the stunning cover art by Bob Wakelin.
This wasn't the only crossover between music and computer games, of course and predating the FGTH computer game was Pete Shelley's 1983 album, XL-1, which came with computer code for the ZX Spectrum. For those of us who missed it first time around, you can enjoy the full experience (with the all-too familiar squawky code track added at the end) over at YouTube. Others were quick to follow up the opportunity, from The Stranglers to Shakin' Stevens... and yes, the latter's The Shaky Game looks as ropey as his music...
Back to the music and a great excuse for a Pete Shelley XL-1 selection, as a tribute to Sir Clive. Rest easy, you did good. 
1) (Millions Of People) No One Like You (Album Version)
2) XL 1
3) Many A Time (Dub)
4) You Know Better Than I Know
5) Telephone Operator / If You Ask Me / No One Like You (Dub)

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Peepshow, Creepshow

Thirty-three years ago today, I saw Siouxsie & The Banshees live in concert for the first and only time at the Colston Hall in Bristol. I referenced this briefly back in March 2021, in a related post over at The Vinyl Villain about seeing Pete Shelley's Zip supporting Erasure at the same venue. This was part of a frequent 'gig swap' with friends, where I would go along to see a band I didn't have a lot of interest in at the time (Erasure), so that I could get to see a band I really wanted to see (Siouxsie & The Banshees). I went to both gigs with my college friend Paul, who was mainly into hip hop and rap (and James Brown), and was also a fan of Erasure. I'm pretty sure he had little or no idea who Siouxsie & The Banshees were, but was game for a laugh...although they were likely to be in short supply where we were going. 
16th September 1988 was a Friday night. I'd dropped out of college and been in full-time work for a few months, so it's a fair guess that we may have skipped the support act to down a few pints at local pub The Bunch Of Goths before going into the venue. Either way, I have no recollection of the support band that night and a search on the web hasn't helped much. Suicide was the opening act at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre on 12th December 1988. if Suicide was also there that night in Bristol, I either missed it or completely forgot something possibly quite special. As referenced in my previous post on The Vinyl Villain, I've clearly been affected by False Memory Syndrome (or alcohol amnesia), as most of the night is a blur three decades on.

Once more, some kind soul has uploaded the night's setlist to the, er, Setlist website, so I have been able to recreate what Siouxsie & The Banshees played that night. Unsurprisingly, given that it was released a couple of weeks previously and gave the tour it's name, their ninth studio album Peepshow was highlighted. However, I was surprised to find that the entire album was played over the course of the night, accounting for half of the setlist. I hadn't bought Peepshow prior to the concert - and in fact I didn't buy it until the expanded CD reissue in 2014 - so I was as unfamiliar as Paul was with most of the songs. They did play lots of favourites of mine, including Cities In Dust, which was the first Siouxsie & The Banshees single I bought, way back in 1985 on 12" vinyl.
I recall being completely mesmerised by Siouxsie Sioux. I also thought that Steve Severin and Budgie were pretty cool and, of their newly expanded 5-piece line up, I'd also heard of Martin McCarrick because of his involement with This Mortal Coil. To my retrospective shame, I had no idea who Jon Klein was, other than the Banshees seemed to favour guitarists called John. Worse still, given that Jon Klein was born in Bristol, also my birthspace. Where's the loyalty and support for local artists?! I've since been educated...
Juju was the first Siouxsie & The Banshees album I bought (in fact, one of the first albums I bought, full stop), originally on cassette and one which I played and played to death. So, it was a thrill to hear Night Shift half way through. The other two selections from that album - Arabian Knights and Spellbound - were held back for the inevitable finale.
Reviews of the tour appeared to be lukewarm. I clearly don't remember a lot about the night, other than I personally thought they were great. I think Paul was less impressed and that was probably the last gig swap that we did. Listening to the recreated setlist, although the Peepshow songs aren't always on a par with the others, I'm struck by the wonderful sequencing of 'hits', early album tracks, a few unexpected B-sides, some enduring favourites and three encores. The setlist neatly divides into two sides of a C90 cassette, if you're so inclined - links below for your listening pleasure. Jeepers Creepers!
Part One (45:11)
1) The Last Beat Of My Heart (Album Version) (1988)
2) Turn To Stone (1988)
3) The Killing Jar (Lepidopteristic Mix - Full Length) (1988)
4) I Promise (1984)
5) Ornaments Of Gold (1988)
6) Christine (1980)
7) This Wheel's On Fire (Full Length Version) (Cover of Bob Dylan & The Band) (1987)*
8) Something Blue (1987)
9) Scarecrow (1988)
10) Rawhead And Bloody Bones (1988)
* This version appeared on 2002's The Best Of Siouxsie & The Banshees and is approx. 30 seconds longer than the original album version, with an extended outro.
Part Two (45:56)
1) Carousel (1988)
2) Night Shift (1981)
3) Red Light (Album Version (1980)
4) Peek-A-Boo (Album Version) (1988)
5) Rhapsody (1988)
6) Cities In Dust (Album Version) (1985)
7) Skin (1980)
8) Burn-Up (1988)
9) Dear Prudence (Single Version) (1983)
10) Arabian Knights (Album Version) (1981)
11) Spellbound (Album Version) (1981) 


Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Paddy McAloon's Shorts

Please forgive the clumsy punning title, but it does sum up the theme of today's Prefab Sprout selection. 14 songs, spanning their debut single in 1982 through to 2001's seventh album, which was largely made up of material Paddy McAloon had previously given to Jimmy Nail and Cher. These are also the shortest Prefab Sprout songs in my collection (hence the post title), only a couple nudging over the 3 minute mark. Most of these aren't obvious choices when thinking of a Prefab Sprout compilation, but all are tiny reminders of Paddy McAloon's genius as a songwriter and (very) occasional interpreter of other people's songs.
Side One (17:04)
1) Mercy (1990)
2) Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) (1982)
3) Real Life (Just Around The Corner) (NME Version) (1985)
4) Swans (1997)
5) The Wedding March (1990)
6) Oh, The Swiss! (1985)
7) He'll Have To Go (Cover of Jim Reeves) (1985)

Side Two (16:59)
1) Walk On (1983)
2) Dragons (Originally recorded by Jimmy Nail) (1997)
3) Jesse James Symphony (1990)
4) When You Get To Know Me Better (2001)
5) Spinning Belinda (1984)
6) Where The Heart Is (1997)
7) Blueberry Pies (1985)
A1, A5, B3 from Jordan: The Comeback
A2 from Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) 7"
A3 from Drastic Plastic (NME promo 7")
A4 from Andromeda Heights
A6 from Appetite 12"
A7 from When Love Breaks Down 12"
B1 from The Devil Has All The Best Tunes 7"
B2 from Electric Guitars EP
B4 from The Gunman And Other Stories
B5 from Couldn't Bear To Be Special 12"
B6 from A Prisoner Of The Past EP. Theme to the popular ITV series, which ran from 1997-2006
B7 from Steve McQueen

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

(More) Bad Attitude

Side 2 of a mixtape, originally recorded 13th February 2002, featuring Big Audio Dynamite. Although the cassette sleeve is sub-titled "1985-1989", the truth is that I dipped out after V. Thirteen and missed third album Tighten Up Vol. '88 and it's accompanying singles altogether. The same was true of follow up album Megatop Phoenix, though I did buy the 12" of Contact, which I loved, and the Australian 12" of James Brown whilst in - you guessed it - Australia. I'm not sure why I seem to have temporarily fallen out of love with Big Audio Dynamite as, in retrospect, the 1988-89 songs are great. It was probably down to a limited budget for buying new music, considering I spent two years working and saving to travel, so any spare money was going on gigs, substances, clothes, running a car and my then-new obsession with Pixies. 

Betraying my limited B.A.D. vinyl - I only had the first album and an assortment of singles, with No. 10, Upping St. on a badly dubbed cassette, so unusable for my own mixtape - the original featured Medicine Show twice, album version on Side 1, 12" version on Side 2. For this update, I've swapped out the latter with Albert Einstein Meets The Human Beatbox, which originally appeared on the Medicine Show limited double pack 12" single and uses the E=MC² backing track. This also freed up space to include the 12" mix of Contact, which was inexplicably missing from the original track listing. Never mind the sequencing, feel the quality.
1) A Party (Dub) (Remix By Paul 'Groucho' Smykle) (Full Length) (1985)
2) James Brown (Remix Edit By Mick Jones & Bill Price) (1989)
3) C'mon Every Beatbox (Beatbox's At Dawn) (Remix By Sam Sever) (1986)
4) Hollywood Boulevard (Dub Mix By Sam Sever) (1986)
5) Contact (12" Mix By Judge Jules & Roy The Roach) (1989)
6) Albert Einstein Meets The Human Beatbox (ft. Sipho & Clement) (1986)
7) Sony (Album Version By Mick Jones) (1985)
8) BAD (12" Version By Mick Jones) (1985)
Find Side One here

Monday, 13 September 2021

Kingsize Soundclash

It's Monday morning, up early after a weekend painting the outside of the house whilst the September weather is still good and frankly, I'm tired and uninspired, with nothing prepared in advance that I can drop in today.

Salvation comes in the form of a cover-mounted CD with DJ magazine - frighteningly, 20 years ago - a Kingsize Records special featuring a Chicken Lips / Switchkraft soundclash. What you get is roughly half an hour apiece of the respective DJ duos mixing up their own tracks and remixes.

Chicken Lips are Andrew Meecham & Dean Meredith, previously together in Bizarre Inc in the 1990s, and responsible for a plethora of spin-offs and aliases, Meecham arguably equally well known for his work as The Emperor Machine. Chicken Lips appeared to have gone their separate ways during the last decade but re-emerged in 2020 with a new song, Goldenlips.

Switchkraft were (according to t'internet) Derry-based producers David Karran, Paul Beales & John Chrysafidis and only really appear to have been active in the couple of years following this mix CD. Another track Dopeamine was released in 2014, and that was it.

I didn't buy DJ magazine regularly and whilst I don't have the issue in question anymore, it's a fair bet that I picked it up solely for the Chicken Lips mix, as I had liked their remixes for Stereo MC's, Playgroup (Trevor Jackson) and Bentley Rhythm Ace at the time.
Chicken Lips Soundclash (30:32)
1) Illegal Entry (Chicken Lips Heavy Heavy Dub): Shrinkwrap (2001)
2) He Not In: Chicken Lips (2000)
3) Do It Proper: Chicken Lips (2000)
4) Jerk Chicken: Chicken Lips (2000)
5) Nurega (Chicken Lips Mix): Organic Audio (2001)
Switchkraft Soundclash (29:31)
1) Whitenoise: Switchkraft (2001)
2) Confidence: Switchkraft (2001)
3) Music Lover: Switchkraft (2001)
4) Sinc-O-Matic: Switchkraft (exclusive to this CD) (2001)

Sunday, 12 September 2021

A Shower Of Sparks

I love Sparks with a passion, so here's a little selection for your Sunday listening pleasure, dedicated to my friend Claire.
Side One (16:00)
1) Good Morning (from Exotic Creatures Of The Deep) (2008)
2) I Predict (Album Version) (from Angst In My Pants) (1982)
3) This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us (Live @ The Simon Mayo Show, BBC Radio One) (from When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing) EP) (1994)
4) Here In Heaven (from Kimono My House) (1974)
5) Suburban Homeboy (from Lil' Beethoven) (2002)
Side Two (17:32)
1) Over The Summer (from Introducing Sparks) (1977)
2) Everybody's Stupid (from Big Beat) (1976)
3) When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way' (Sparks Radio Edit) (from When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way' EP) (1994)
4) Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me) (Live @ Front Row, BBC2 TV) (2017)
5) Please Don't Fuck Up My World (from A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip) (2020)
And this is the Radio 4 documentary, presented by Stuart Maconie, which inspired today's post title:

Saturday, 11 September 2021

I Guess God Made A Plan I Don’t Understand

I hadn't really been paying attention to what Anders Trentemøller had been up to for the past few years, until a post back in April over at the ever-excellent Bagging Area piqued my curiosity and a further post in June had me hooked. Trentemøller has released three singles so far in 2021 and has just announced a new album, Memoria, to come in February 2022. Echoing Swiss Adam's comments, Trentemøller's music evokes and updates the ethereal, transformative - let's be honest, goth-tinged - elements that I loved so much about indie/alternative music in the 1980s and 1990s. At various times, the spirit of Cocteau Twins, Joy Division, The Cure, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Dead Can Dance et al sends shivers down the spine. Ulrich Schnauss ploughed a similar furrow in the early 2000s, but Trentemøller takes the concept in a compelling direction. Memoria is available for pre-order and you can buy the three singles (and previous releases) via Bandcamp.
Trentemøller's latest single, In The Gloaming, was released on 9th September. Previous singles Golden Sun / Shaded Moon and No One Quite Like You, featuring Tricky / Vespertine came out in June and July respectively, and don't feature on the upcoming album.
Today's post title is a lyric from No One Quite Like You.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Soul With A Hole Vol. 1

2009 mix from Mayer Hawthorne, originally released on CD in the USA. I didn't come across this until 2013, when it was posted on Soundcloud, but it is a cracking (& crackly) mix. As Hawthorne succinctly puts it: "24 soul donuts. All 45s. All mixed from the original vinyl."
I was unfamiliar with most of these on first listen, but they're all stone cold classics and the mixing is spot on. A perfect hour to brighten up your Friday (& the weekend).
1) Music Revolution: Donald Jenkins & The Delighters (1975)
2) I Need You: Otis Leavill (1969)
3) You Don't Want My Love: Erroll Gaye & The Imaginations (1975)
4) Fool Me: Billy Harner (1966)
5) How Can I Pretend: The Continental 4 (1971)
6) My Love For You Is Growing Wild: The Tenth Dymentions (1972)
7) That's What I Get (For Loving You): JJ & G (1972)
8) A Lifetime: The Brothers Of Soul (1970)
9) It Must Be Love: Wes Wells & The Steelers (1970)
10) Don't Be Afraid (Do As I Say): Frankie Karl & The Dreams (1968)
11) Row-Row-Row My Boat: The Four Mints (1971)
12) Be My Lady: The Dynamic Tints (1970)
13) Keep On Walking: Final Decisions (1973)
14) It's Not Fair: Dee Dee Warwick (1968)
15) Don't Walk Away: Carl Carlton (1969)
16) Sho' Nuff: Sly, Slick & Wicked (1973)
17) If I Only Knew Then (What I Know Now):
Jimmy 'Soul' Clark (1968)
18) The Prophet: The Original Breed (1970)
19) I Don't Know No More: The Prime Ministers (1968)
20) All On A Sunny Day: Deon Jackson (1967)
21) As Long As I Know He's Mine: The Marvelettes (1963)
22) Don't Leave Me: The Admirations (1967)
23) What's Wrong With Me Baby: The Toys (1966)
24) Sippin A Cup Of Coffee: The Ordells (1967)
Soul With A Hole Vol. 1 on Discogs - at the time of posting, a copy of the original CD will set you back a cool £24.00 (incl. P&P) in the UK.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Summer SAULT

In a time when a 2 minute search online can unearth a wealth of history and background, SAULT are refreshingly low-key and mysterious. A collective believed to centre on producer InFlo aka Dean Josiah Cover, SAULT released their first album in 2019 and less than 2 years later, are up to their fifth. This includes two double albums released in 2020, one of which - UNTITLED (Rise) - was shortlisted for this year's Mercury Music Prize*
In Alexis Petridis's review of UNTITLED (Rise) for the Guardian last year, he wrote that the album "hardly yields highlights because the quality never wavers [...] You’d call it the album of the year if its predecessor wasn’t just as good". This can reasonably be applied to each of SAULT's albums. I didn't hear SAULT for the first time until recently, when the album 'NINE' was released and, after sampling a few songs, ended up buying their entire catalogue on Bandcamp. 
Each album is a compelling listen and trying to compile a selection for this blog is both seemingly impossible and deceptively simple. In the end, I copped out by creating an acrostic, tracks from each of the five albums spelling out the collective's name. Even so, I think it hangs together really well and will hopefully encourage you to search out more.

'NINE' is available as a free download for a limited time on SAULT's website, but I'd actually encourage you to head over to SAULT's Bandcamp page, where it's available as a Name Your Price digital album, and pay for it. All of the albums are also available on vinyl. In typical fashion, the official website has little info beyond a countdown of the number of days remaining for the 'NINE' download. Does this mean that for the third consecutive year a second album will be dropped imminently? I hope so**

In the meantime, there's plenty more InFlo-produced music to enjoy: he's been involved in albums by Michael Kiwanuka and Little Simz. I've just received a copy of the latter's new album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. I'm only one listen in at the time of posting and, to paraphrase Alexis Petridis, I’d call it the album of the year if the SAULT album wasn’t just as good.
1) Stop Dem (from UNTITLED (Black Is)) (2020)
2) Alcohol (from 'NINE') (2021)
3) Up All Night (from 5) (2019)
4) Little Boy (from UNTITLED (Rise)) (2020)
5) Tip Toe (from 7) (2019)
* Note (1): ...which SAULT sadly didn't win, although Arlo Parks is pretty great too. It was Dean Josiah Cover's second consecutive nomination; Michael Kiwanuka won the prize in 2020 for Kiwanuka, co-produced by InFlo. Arguably, he may be up for a third year running in 2022, with 'NINE' and/or Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.
** Note (2): of course, if I'd bothered to do the 2 minute Google search that I mentioned at the start of my post, I would have realised that the countdown clock on the SAULT website is because 'NINE' is only available to download for 99 days, as reported in the NME back in June. If you haven't done so already, I'd recommend getting on to it as you've got until 2nd October.