Monday, 23 May 2022

Everybody Needs A Bosom For A Pillow

Side 1 of a mixtape, compiled 14th February 1998. I have no memory of this particular day so I can only hope that I'd woken early (as I do) to record this mixtape, rather than it being one of the least romantic Valentine's Days ever. I hasten to add that, either way, my girlfriend at the time was not the currently long-suffering Mrs. K.

This was definitely an attempt at an 'upbeat' selection, starting off with a Manchester two-hander from 808 State and Intastella, the latter remixed by A Certain Ratio's Martin Moscrop. Things then take a veer left(field) with possibly one of the maddest singles The Times/Ed Ball ever released, and that's including I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape
Next up is Mucho Macho's remix of Cornershop's Brimful Of Asha, from the 'flop' first release of the single in 1997. I had to check the dates but, a mere two weeks after this mixtape was recorded, Brimful Of Asha was re-released with a Norman Cook remix and went straight to #1 in the UK, where it remained for a further 12 weeks, 11 of those remaining above the #60 peak of the original release. Spooky.
Planetary Sit-In is Julian Cope in string-drenched pop-with-a-message mode, his last ever UK singles chart hit, #34 in October 1996. 
Stay was 18 Wheeler's biggest UK hit, charting at #59 in March 1997. Wikipedia damningly cites their biggest claim to fame as being the band that Oasis were supporting (at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in 1993) when Creation head honcho Alan McGee discovered the latter. Being on the same label clearly did 18 Wheeler no favours.

Fellow Scots The Apples fared similarly poorly with the record-buying public, managing just one UK #75 single, which isn't this one. This version appeared on the CD single, mis-labelled as the Stereo Guitar People Mix by Pete Lorimer. Ironically, this remix by James Reynolds is actually heavier on the guitar so you can understand the mix up. Reynolds arguably enjoyed much greater success, not least being the 4th Baronet of Woolton, having succeeded to the title in 2015.

Freak Power (aka Norman Cook & Ashley Slater) took two goes to have a hit with Turn On Tune In Cop Out, #29 in 1993 then #3 in 1995. Ashley Slater went on to appear in 2014 with his partner Scarlett Quinn as Kitten And the Hip in an excruciating X-Factor audition, which YouTube has preserved for posterity). Having survived this ordeal, the pair continue in a reformed Freak Power.
Not much to say about Groove Is In The Heart, other than Deee-Lite were a breath of fresh air in 1990 and this song still has the desired effect, three decades on.
Last but not least, the mysterious collective, The KK Kings. I heard this song originally on the soundtrack to the wonderful 1993 film Bhaji On The Beach. I think this was their only official single, though they'd previously released a promo, Justified & Ancient, which together with their prodigious use of samples, led to comparisons with The KLF. It's so much better than that and a shame that we didn't get to hear more from them.
As a final note, the mixtape title comes from a key line in Cornershop's Brimful Of Asha, which itself is the hook of the Mucho Macho remix. Despite all this, I still managed to write Everyone Needs A Bosom For A Pillow on the cassette sleeve. Again, either a case of not enough sleep or the worst Valentine's Days ever. Amazingly, I was in the same relationship the following year, but I have no record of whether Valentine's Day 1999 fared any better. It couldn't have been any worse, could it?
1) Lift (7" Version): 808 State (1991)
2) This Is Bendy (Remix By Martin Moscrop): Intastella (1991)
3) Finnegans Break (Edit By Ian Shaw & The Big Noize Supremists): The Times ft. Tippa Irie (1993)
4) Brimful Of Asha (Mucho Macho Bolan Boogie Mix): Cornershop (1997)
5) Planetary Sit-In (Album Version): Julian Cope (1996)
6) Stay (Radio Edit): 18 Wheeler (1997)
7) Beautiful People (Silver Sky Mix By James Reynolds): The Apples (1991)
8) Turn On Tune In Cop Out (Radio Mix By Norman Cook & Simon Thornton): Freak Power (1993)
9) Groove Is In The Heart (Peanut Butter Mix): Deee-Lite (1990)
10) Holidays (In The United KK Kingdom) (Extended) (Remix By Mikha K): The KK Kings (1994)

Sunday, 22 May 2022

No Colours Or Shapes, No Sound In My Head

A return to my very infrequent selections based on past gigs I've attended. Today it's the turn of Goldfrapp.
Mrs. K loves Duran Duran* so when the original line-up, including errant guitar player Andy Taylor, reformed in 2004, then it was a no-brainer that we'd get tickets to see them live in concert. I'm not particularly a fan of Duran Duran or arena concerts, but the fact that the "special guests" were Goldfrapp was greatly appealing.
Being in Block G, Row H, I'll admit that the view of Alison Goldfrapp, Will Gregory and band was a tad distant and the nuances of the costumes and set pieces were a little lost on us. Aurally, the band were in great form and Alison inevitably in stunning voice. It was a relatively short support slot of just seven songs, heavily focused on second album, Black Cherry, with a couple of Felt Mountain tracks to open and their cover of Yes Sir I Can Boogie by Baccara thrown in for good measure. It's fair to say that for Mrs. K, like the PJ Harvey gig later the same year, Goldfrapp fell into the category of 'didn't like' but Duran Duran were great that night, so that's all that really mattered.
For today's selection, I'll dusted off some little-played remixes, the promo-only extended mix of Yes Sir and a nice new Italian bootleg re-edit of Lovely Head that I stumbled across recently.
1) Utopia (Sunroof Mix By Daniel Miller & Gareth Jones) (2000)
2) Lovely Head (Mix 2022 By Gianluca Avagliano) (2022)
3) Tiptoe (Album Version) (2003)
4) Twist (Single Mix) (2003)
5) Train (Ewan Pearson 6/8 Vocal) (2003)
6) Yes Sir (Extended Mix) (Cover of 'Yes Sir I Can Boogie' by Baccara) (2003)
7) Strict Machine (Paris Loaded) (Remix By Dave Bascombe & Tom Elmhirst) (2004) 
2000: Utopia EP: 1
2003: Black Cherry: 3 
2003: Train EP: 5
2003: Twist EP: 4
2003: Yes Sir EP: 6
2004: Strict Machine EP: 7 (aka Guitar Mix)
2022: Lovely Head EP: 1
* Unlike my unconditional, arguably obsessive, love for certain acts, Mrs. K is a bit more discerning with Duran Duran. It's the original line-up only: little or no interest in their albums once Andy Taylor had slung his hook (both times).

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Ever Dim, He Bollocks, He Liles

After yesterday's 40-minute excess of State Of Independence, there was really only one place left to go today. I give you Andrew Liles, self-styled multi-instrumentalist, sound artist and purveyor of "massive extensions of classic tracks. Elongations to test your endurance and revolt the purists."
Liles has previously focused his attention on the likes of Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Donna Summer, The Sisters Of Mercy, Van Halen and Iron Maiden
On Wednesday, it was the turn of Sex Pistols, ahead of the 45th anniversary of the release of God Save The Queen on 27th May 1977. It's not quite the excessive extreme of the 10-hour edit of Neu's Hallogallo, posted by Swiss Adam on Bagging Area on Monday as possibly the ultimate Monday Long Song. Neither is it the 73-minute stitch-fest of every Thin Lizzy guitar solo 1971-1983 by His Name Is Alive
However, 45 minutes of God Save The Queen is potentially enough to drive even the most fervent monarchist to recalcitrant behaviour. I love it.

45 Minutes Of 'God Save The Queen' For 45 Years (Andrew Liles Re-Edit): Sex Pistols (2022)

Friday, 20 May 2022

Bring Me To Meet Your Sound And I Will Bring You To My Heart

Vangelis aka Ευάγγελος Οδυσσέας Παπαθανασίου, 29 March 1943 to 17 May 2022.
Sad news about the passing of another musical genius. I haven't trawled the blogosphere, but the main musical focus in the news reports - understandably - has been his ground-breaking film soundtracks for the likes of Blade Runner and Chariots Of Fire.

However, his 'pop' (or at least as close to 'pop' as Vangelis got) excursions with Jon Anderson are equally worth a mention, especially the majestic State Of Independence, which I first heard as an 11-year old in 1982 when Donna Summer's cover version was a UK Top 20 hit.

Fingers crossed that you also like the song, for here's a 40 minute Dubhed selection of choice versions, opening with Jon Anderson's "this one goes up to 11" live performance with Todmobile, full-on orchestral and in incredibly good voice. Along the way you get Moodswings' dance rework (twice) featuring Martin Luther King and Chrissie Hynde, the Donna Summer 'original' (& best), a bootleg remix of Jon & Vangelis and closing with the 1981 album version, complete with cheeky calypso outro.

Vangelis' music will endure.
1) State Of Independence (Live @ Eldborg Concert Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland, 15 November 2013): Todmobile & Jon Anderson (2013)
2) Spiritual High (The Moodfood Megamix): Moodswings ft. Martin Luther King (1991)
3) State Of Independence (DSD Balearic Mix By Sparky Deep Sound Design): Jon & Vangelis (2013)
4) State Of Independence (Long Version By Quincy Jones): Donna Summer (1982)
5) Spiritual High (State Of Independence) (Radio Edit): Moodswings ft. Chrissie Hynde & Martin Luther King (1992) 
6) State Of Independence (Album Version): Jon & Vangelis (1981) 

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Return Of Thee Wild Party

Neu Tech by D.S.D. aka Damien Doherty has just been released as the closing track on the latest volume (six) of Thee Wild Party EP series via the always reliable Paper Recordings. It's a pulsing, insistent monster of a track that manages to evoke the last five decades of synth-based disco, whilst embodying the sound of right now. At a tad over eight minutes, I could easily listen to Neu Tech if it was twice as long, lost in the deep groove.

It's available on Bandcamp as an individual track, but I'd strongly recommend buying the entire EP, featuring Benny Pitcher, La Guardia De La Luz and a fantastic gospel-sampling opener from Lanowa.
Sean Johnston (A Love From Outer Space / Hardway Bros) describes Thee Wild Party Volume 6 as "all great!" and he's not wrong.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

All The Stars Were Aligned

KEXP is a non-commercial radio station transmitting from Seattle, Washington. It became a regular virtual music stop for me during the pandemic and I've listened to hours upon hours of their Live On KEXP sessions.

The show follows a fairly consistent format: 4 or 5 songs, 20-30 minutes, usually performed in the small KEXP studio with lengthy Q&A mid-section with the resident DJ, sitting nearby. Occasionally, they'll use another location, even head outdoors to the local park, as evidenced by this beautiful performance from Ben Watt & Bernard Butler in 2015.

Too many favourites to mention here, so here's a small, half-hour selection of seven cracking songs for your listening pleasure.

1) Camels (Live @ KEXP, Seattle, 23 June 2019): Bill Callahan
2) Tokay (Live @ KEXP, Seattle, 10 February 2015): Dengue Fever
3) Maybe (Live @ KEXP, Seattle, 12 June 2019): SOAK
4) Is He Strange (Live @ Avast! Recording Co. for KEXP, Seattle, 18 December 2018): John Grant
5) Kicks (Live @ KEXP, Seattle, 18 November 2014): FKA Twigs
6) Corsicana Lemonade (Live @ KEXP, Seattle, 01 February 2014): White Denim
7) Magic Of Meghan (Live @ KEXP, Seattle, 10 March 2020): Dry Cleaning

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

I Called You On The Phone But You Started Talkin' 'Bout The Weather

Listening again to Lee 'Scratch' Perry's "final creative act", a remix of Love Died In Our Arms by Dot Allison, I was reminded - as I am, hearing any of his work - of his enduring musical genius. 

I'm inevitably drawn back to 1969 album, The Upsetter, a showcase for Perry's production skills and mostly featuring his studio band The Upsetters, along with a couple of guest spots from Busty Brown (aka Clive Smith) and The Muskyteers (better known as The Silvertones). A 2003 CD reissue was bolstered by 8 bonus tracks, including more of The Upsetters plus Carl Dawkins and David Isaacs, also known to his folks as Bruce Bennett.

The original and expanded album is a mix of instrumentals, cover versions and vocal tracks and is guaranteed to put a smile on my face and spring in my step. I love reggae and dub all year round, but it seems especially apt as spring arrives with the promise of summer to come. 
Looking outside, I don't think the weather got the memo, so today's selection of cuts from The Upsetter's 2003 edition - 10 songs in under 30 minutes - should bring some sunshine into your life, whatever the conditions outside.

1) Thunderball: The Upsetters
2) Endlessly (Cover of Brook Benton): The Muskyteers
3) Hard To Handle (Cover of Otis Redding): Carl Dawkins
4) Tidal Wave (Cover of 'He'll Have To Go' by Jim Reeves): The Upsetters *
5) Untitled Instrumental: The Upsetters
6) Soulful I: The Upsetters **
7) Night Doctor: The Upsetters
8) Slow Motion Version 2: The Upsetters
9) Since You Are Gone: David Isaacs
10) Kiddy-O (Cover of 'Kiddio' by Teddy Randazzo): The Muskyteers
* The vocal version of He'll Have To Go, featuring David Isaacs, features on the 2003 expanded reissue.
** Soulful I is an instrumental version of track 9, Since You Are Gone.
The Upsetter (1969): 1, 4, 6, 7, 10
The Upsetter (2003 reissue): 2, 3, 5, 8 ,9

Monday, 16 May 2022

Concocting A Rhythm That You Could Get Lost In... (Again)

Side 2 of a mixtape, compiled 5th September 1993, rounding up some musical suspects from 1991 to 1992. A couple of Justin Robertson's finest early 90s remixes here, for Sly & Lovechild and Finitribe. New Atlantic's sole UK Top 20 hit, I Know, is included in it's definitive Love Decade remix, with a pitched up Candi Staton vocal sample giving the song its title. Leftfield and William Orbit were both hitting their stride as remixers du jour and deliver prime examples of why they were in such demand at the time. Youth contributes a pair of remixes, beefing up Frazier Chorus to great effect and obliterating The Psychedelic Furs' original vocals and instruments to the extent that, if this were a white label, you wouldn't have a clue it was them. The original mixtape featured the instrumental version of Espiritu's Francisca from the 12" single, which I haven't yet ripped, so I've swapped out for the equally good dub mix from the CD, pushing the C90 running time waaay into the red.
1) Spirit Of Destiny (Justin Robertson Mix): Sly & Lovechild (1992)
2) I Know (Love Decade Remix 12"): New Atlantic (1991)
3) Ace Love Deuce (Justin Robertson Mix) (Single Edit): Finitribe (1991)
4) Francisca (Dub Mix): Espiritu (1992)
5) Back To Front (The Rub It Vocal Mix By Leftfield): Adamski ft. Ricky Lyte (1992)
6) Walking On Air (Remix By Youth): Frazier Chorus (1991)
7) Treaty (Djulpan / Seven Sisters Mix By William Orbit): Yothu Yindi (1992)
8) Don't Be A Girl (Dancehall On Fire) (Remix By Youth): The Psychedelic Furs (1991)

Side One here

Sunday, 15 May 2022

You're The Best Thing

I've never been one for keeping diaries or journals but three decades ago, I kept a record of my travels and trials in Australia. There's no specific entry dated 15th May 1991. However, due to the 9-hour time difference with the UK, an account from 14th May (which I specifically timed at 8.30pm), would have been written at the equivalent of 5.30am on 15th May at home, so that's good enough for me.

At this point, I'd rocked up at Coffs Harbour, a small coastal city a little over half way between Sydney and Brisbane. After wandering along the shoreline and on the beach, reading, drawing and taking in the sights, I was catching up with some writing when an old guy with a zimmer frame and a dog on a lead sat next to me. This was Jack Witts and a memorable few hours ensued.

We got talking and, small world that it is, I found that he had been born in Swindon and emigrated to Australia four decades ago. After chatting for a while, I accepted a lift to his local pub-cum-betting shop for a few lagers and more stories. Jack had lived an interesting life: stationed and fought in North Africa during World War II, adventures working on the railroads in Australia and misadventures on the road, travelling the vast continent. All fascinating to hear and the hours flew by... the extent that I thought nothing of accepting when Jack offered a lift back to his place for some moonshine. As an older, more risk-adverse adult, I still wonder why I thought getting in a car with an old guy that I'd only met a few hours previously, heading to goodness knows where in the middle of nowhere, with the promise of some homemade hooch and a place to crash for the night was a good idea. But I did it.

Jack lived at the Koala Caravan Park, just off of the Pacific Highway, and it was almost exactly as I'd imagined: a ramshackle caravan with a sheet metal 'extension' and a flower bed border; one light in working order; ornaments  fighting for space with the TV; an antique oven unit and a bucket to piss in.

After a few more drinks and many more expletive-riddled stories, I decided it was time to leave. I was about 6km from Coffs Harbour and the hostel I was staying in, so it was going to be a push to get back there before midnight. My last sight of Jack was his head poking out of the caravan door, muttering to himself.

Of course, as soon as I hit the highway, it began to rain...and rain...and rain and Jack's offer of a place to crash didn't seem like such a bad idea after all. In another serendipitous moment, a passing car pulled over and the driver asked where I was going. "Hop in the back" he said and, in record time, I was back at the hostel to a warm shower and dry clothes. I only had dry bread and tea to try to soak up the hooch. I had the mother of all hangovers the following day, to the extent that I failed to book a seat on the next Greyhound and spent an extra couple of days in Coffs Harbour. A hell of a day, though.

On 15th May 2002, I was in Mauritius, walking along another beautiful beach, having just exchanged vows with Mrs. K. It was another momentous occasion and I'm still pinching myself that, two decades later, we get to share time and adventures together and create our own stories. As a aside/nod to Jack Witts, my nearest concession to homemade hooch is making Sloe Gin in the early years of our marriage.

We weren't alone on that beach walk as, a few steps behind us, a Mauritian wedding band gleefully doled out unique takes on some popular songs. The choices were somewhat limited - no chance of The The's This Is The Day or Billy Idol's White Wedding, for example - and "our" song was, depending on whether you ask me or Mrs. K, was a classic by The Troggs, at a push R.E.M. and definitely not ever by Wet Wet Wet.

The trio also didn't have You're The Best Thing by The Style Council in their limited repertoire, but I really wish they had as it's one of the finest pop/love songs ever written and recorded.

You're The Best Thing was released as a double A-side single in the UK, titled Groovin', on 26th May 1984, the day after Paul Weller's 26th birthday.  I'm now twice that age and can still only dream of writing such a beautiful and resonant song. 

This isn't "our song", Mrs. K isn't even particularly a fan of The Style Council or Paul Weller's music in general, but You're The Best Thing perfectly sums up how I feel about Mrs. K today.

I could be discontent and chase the rainbows end
I might win much more but lose all that is mine
I could be a lot but I know I'm not
I'm content just with the riches that you bring
I might shoot to win and commit the sin
Of wanting more than I've already got
I could runaway but I'd rather stay
In the warmth of your smile lighting up my day, the one that makes me say
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me or my world
You're the best thing that ever happened, so don't go away
I might be a king and steal my people's things
But I don't go for that power crazy way
All that I could rule I don't check for fools
All that I need is to be left to live my way, listen what I say
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me or my world
You're the best thing that ever happened, so don't go away
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me or my world
You're the best thing that ever happened, so don't go away
I could chase around, nothing to be found
But why look for something that is never there
I may get it wrong sometimes but I come back in style
For I realise your love means more than anything
So not makes me say
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me or my world
You're the best thing that ever happened, so don't go away
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me or my world
You're the best thing that ever happened, 
now don't go, I say don't go, no no, don't go away

Saturday, 14 May 2022

His Final & Most Fabulous Creation

Side 1 of a mixtape compiled for me by my brother, circa 1995.

Back to the beats for this Saturday selection which, despite it's mid-90s creation, seems to have a lot of love for 1992, with two thirds of the selection from that year.

A bit of a red herring to start, with Jim Thirwell's Foetus guise in full orchestral pomp, before we dive straight into a remix of rave classic Stakker Humanoid by Brian Dougans and FSOL partner Garry Cobain, then sidestep into Hi-NRG disco with the ever-brilliant Divine. 

A couple of Buzz McCoy tracks to follow, first up with his main concern, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, then a partnership with Sascha from KMFDM as Excessive Force for a one-off single in 1991, this version popping up on the Conquer Your World album, which reached the UK the following year.

Orbital's Chime is a brilliant song in any version, but I particularly like this remix by the Hartnoll brothers, which appeared on their Mutations EP. Likewise, If? benefited from some top remixes of their songs, especially by Leftfield, as evidenced here.

808 State's variations on Pacific, like Orbital's Chime, never get boring or sound dated to these ears. This is the version that was used for their debut album on ZTT, 808:90.

Rounding things off is another remix by The Future Sound Of London, this time of one of their many, many aliases, Semi Real. A lovely Balearic vibe here. As the original cassette side ran a couple of minutes short, I've swapped the original radio edit for the extended Med Mix here.

Happy memories of driving around with my college friends in my clapped out motor, playing this very loud, usually to requests/protests for Ned's Atomic Dustbin or The Levellers. Solid times.
1) Theme From Pigdom Come: Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel (1985)
2) Stakker Humanoid (Outer Limits) (Remix By The Future Sound Of London): Humanoid (1992)
3) Native Love (Step By Step) (Short Version By Bobby Orlando & Mark Bauman): Divine (1982)
4) Sex On Wheelz (Motor City Remix By Buzz McCoy): My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult (1992)
5) Conquer Your House II (Album Version By Sascha Konietzko): Excessive Force (1991)
6) Chime Crime: Orbital (1992)
7) Everything And More (Leftfield Vocal Mix): If? (1992)
8) Pacific 202 (Album Version): 808 State (1989)
9) People Livin' Today (Med Mix By The Future Sound Of London): Semi Real (1992)