Thursday, 30 June 2022

Can't Stop The Feeling

Before You Close Your Eyes, track 2 side 2 of Tindersticks' 1999 album Simple Pleasure, popped up on my random shuffle playlist. This prompted me to me to trawl YouTube for a live performance of the song. Not many, and fewer in good quality, but I found a reasonably decent version from the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens, Greece on 19th September 2010.
I haven't really followed Tindersticks since their run of excellent 1990s albums, a couple of early 2000s EPs and a few tracks from a Claire Denis Film Scores sampler CD with Sight & Sound magazine from 2011 but that's about it.

A bit of shock to realise that, whilst the line-up is substantially different from those early albums, Tindersticks celebrated 30 years in 2021 with a career-spanning retrospective, Past Imperfect. The core of the band throughout has remained Stuart A. Staples, Neil Fraser and David Boulter and, since 2008, Dan McKinna and Earl Harvin.

Past Imperfect included a new song, Both Sides Of The Blade, recorded for Claire Denis' film Avec Amour Et Acharnament (With Love And Determination) starring recent Dubhed headliner Juliette Binoche. In January this year, an official video of the song was released, directed by Stuart A. Staples, which is sublime.
The compilation also includes a new version of Willow, with vocals by Stuart A. Staples, a beautiful, delicate song that would not sound out of place on a film soundtrack.
This then led me back to the original version, which unsurprisingly was recorded in 2019 for another Claire Denis film, High Life, but surprisingly features vocals by the lead actor, Robert Pattinson.

Tindersticks' most recent album, Distractions, was released in 2021. The album opens with the 11-minute epic Man Alone (Can't Stop The Fadin'). Again, there's a video by Stuart A. Staples, this time from the back of a London cab in the wee hours. Both the song and visuals are quite a ride.
Whenever I see the name of Tindersticks' guitar player Neil Fraser, my mind can't help but think of his namesake aka Mad Professor. I've often thought that I'd like to hear a Mad Professor dub rinse of Tindersticks songs, ever since Adrian Sherwood delivered a remix of I Know That Loving, also from 1999's Simple Pleasure. 
 
I'm still waiting for that day but, in May 2021, Charles Webster provided a dub and vocal remix of Man Alone (Can't Stop The Fadin'), which are both pretty wonderful. No vinyl release that I'm aware of but you can purchase both tracks digitally via Bandcamp.
  
Time now for me to dive back into the last twenty years of Tindersticks and see what I've been missing...

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Mellifluous

Bicep has just released a new single Meli (II) on the back of their set at the West Holts stage st Glastonbury at the weekend. As the press release notes, the set delivered "on their promise that the live versions of ‘Isles’ would be 'much, much harder'".
 
I haven't seen Bicep's Friday night closing set in full yet (so much to catch up with on BBC iPlayer) but, on the strength of their performance of Meli (II), it's a triumph.
 
Meli (I) appeared last April as the last of three bonus songs on the deluxe edition of debut album Isles. I remembered that Bagging Area had featured it at the time and was drawn back to Swiss Adam's original post. Adam described Meli (I) as "all textures and atmosphere [...] and could easily be twice as long without losing anything" whilst fellow blogger Echorich commented that the song "seems like a musical probe sent out to search for new sounds, leaving a trail of where they've been in afterburner smoke and vapor". 

I think Bicep exceed all expectations with Meli (II). The song is stretched out to double the length of its predecessor and still feels like it could go on and on; you get an extra minute on the Glastonbury version but I could easily lose myself for quarter of an hour in the pulsing, surging, sweeping sounds. 

Taking Echorich's comment to a ridiculous extreme - and apologies in advance for the clumsy analogy with a rather crap film - but it's like the bit in Star Trek: The Motion Picture where Kirk and co. finally twig that the energy cloud they've encountered is in fact Voyager 6, a 20th century space probe coming home after 300 years having become sentient along the way.
 
Meli (II) has been on a shorter journey and, let's be honest, in the real world, but it really feels like the song has evolved way beyond it's origins. Magnificent.
 
You can buy Meli (II) and Meli (I), as well as a treasure trove of previous releases, on Bicep's Bandcamp page right now.

 

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

See You Next Tuesday

Without warning, Julian Cope released a new single on Friday. It's a song that he's been regularly playing on his solo acoustic tours since at least 2014, including this rather fine version performed on one of his last gigs before the UK lockdown in 2020:

The single is a full band recording and precursor to a new album, England Expectorates, and the lyrics have been updated to reflect on the clowns currently living at 10 Downing Street.

Here comes a Greedhead battering with your gun
That cunt’s asleep, don’t know his time has come
Find a bridge and push him off
Raise your Kalashnikov
He is insane, I’m so pissed off
 
Cunts can fuck off (x 4)
 
Here comes a priest in the pay of a Nazi pope
Do like Black Sabbath, ring that fucker at the end of a rope
Before I leave this town, I will burn your churches down
They are insane, I’m so pissed off
 
Cunts can fuck off (x 4) 
 
An opportunity to get some more young men killed 
Defending freedom, overspending, are we all blue pilled? 
In far Afghanistan, Joe Biden left his planes 
Tax the poor we’ll need some more for Ukraine 
 
Cunts can fuck off (x 4) 
 
We're stuck indoors but Boris won’t go without 
He made the rules but Boris won’t go without 
History won’t forget him and Carrie Antoinette 
He’s a conniving privileged get 
 
Cunts can fuck off (x 4) 
 
I’m sick and tired of the Woke celebrity
The metropolitan luvvies of the BBC 
You must think this and this
Methinks you take the piss
We know her paycheck's smaller than his. 
 
Cunts can fuck off (x 4)  
 
OK, get ready for the festival ending, slow down!
 
I’m making lists of all the people I love
And all the cunts who should fuck off
You’re taking chances if you’re living near me
'cause I’m a cunt who’s so pissed off
‘till then, I’m biding my time
Feeding my rhyme
Healing my mind...  

The CD single sold out within a couple of hours of being posted on the Head Heritage website (yep, I was nowhere near it at the weekend) but it's available as a WAV download for one English pound (or equivalent currency across the world)

Of course, the Arch Drude isn't the first JC to record a song with a similar sentiment and use of the C-word. This popped up as a hidden track at the end of Jarvis Cocker's debut solo album in 2006:

 
Well, did you hear? There's a natural order
Those most deserving will end up with the most
That the cream cannot help but always rise up to the top
Well I say, "Shit floats"
 
If you thought things had changed
Friend, you'd better think again
Bluntly put, in the fewest of words
Cunts are still running the world
Cunts are still running the world
Oh yeah
 
Now the working classes are obsolete
They are surplus to society's needs
So let 'em all kill each other
And get it made overseas
That's the word, don't you know
From the guys that's running the show
Let's be perfectly clear, boys and girls
Oh cunts are still running the world
Cunts are still running the world
Oh yeah
Oh yeah
 
Feed your children on crayfish and lobster tails
Find a school near the top of the league
In theory I respect your right to exist
I will kill you if you move in next to me
And it stinks, yeah it sucks, it's anthropologically unjust
But the takings are up by a third, so
Cunts are still running the world, yeah
Cunts are still running the world
Oh yeah
 Cunts are still running the world
Cunts are still running the world
 
The free market is perfectly natural
Do you think that I'm some kind of dummy?
It's the ideal way to order the world
"Fuck the morals, does it make any money?"
 
If you don't like it, then leave
Or use your right to protest on the street
Yeah, use your right but don't imagine that it's heard
Not while cunts are still running the world
Cunts are still running the world, yeah
Cunts are still running the world, yeah
Cunts are still running the world, oh
Cunts are still running the world
Cunts are still running the world
Cunts are still running the world
 
 

Monday, 27 June 2022

Alien Feelings

After her stellar performance at Glastonbury, time to spotlight my favourite dancefloor diva. Diana Ross? Sod that, it's Róisín Murphy.
 
Bless the BBC and their Glastonbury coverage. Having the iPlayer app means that I've been able to dip in and out of the festival over the weekend and I can continue to do over the next week. It's absolutely not the same as being at a festival but some artists really pull out all the stops to provide the audience in the field and at home. 
 
Róisín kicked off her set like it was one of those Top Of The Pops "live across the Atlantic" performances that they featured in the early 2000s, backstage, travelling band walking behind her as she launched into a version of Moloko's Fun For Me. Even when Róisín arrived on stage, her eyes and performance were locked on the people at home, detracting attention from the band taking up position behind their kit. And then, as it remembering the thousands of people right there with her, Róisín skipped to the front of the stage to complete the song.

With as many costume (or accessory) changes as there were songs, it's an hour and half of pent up joy, finally released to an appreciate audience. Even on a Sunday night, sitting shattered on a sofa (try saying that ten times in quick succession), I felt my energy levels and sense of well-being rising.
 
In an amateur attempt to recapture that sense of euphoria and forestall the reality of a Monday back at work, today's selection features Róisín Murphy in uptempo mode, from (I think) her first solo outing before Moloko split covering Pulp to remixes from the superb lockdown panacea, 2020's Róisín Machine. What an absolute legend.

Oh, and early love and best wishes for Róisín's birthday next Tuesday, 5th July.
 
1) Sorted? (Cover of 'Sorted For E's & Whizz' by Pulp) (2002)
2) Murphy's Law (Cosmodelica Remix) (Full Length) (2020)
3) Sow Into You (Bugz In The Attic Remix) (2005)
4) Movie Star (Sam & Di Angelis 'For Jodie Harsh' Remix) (2008)
5) Unputdownable (Prosumer Remix) (2015)
6) Slave To Love (Single Version) (Cover of Bryan Ferry) (2008)
7) If We're In Love (Matthew Herbert's Lovers Remix) (2005)
8) Evil Eyes (Hercules & Love Affair Remix) (2015)
9) Primitive (Album Version) (2007)
10) Incapable (The Reflex Re√ision) (2021)
11) Overpowered (Kris Menace Remix) (2007)
12) In Sintesi (Psychemagik Remix) (2014)

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Up On The Downs, Across The Bridge And Into The Festival

After my confession yesterday on A History Of Dubious Taste that I've never been to the Glastonbury festival, today's selection focuses on a festival that I did go to lots and lots during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. Officially named the Bristol Community Festival, no-one I knew ever called it that. To us, it was the Ashton Court Festival…even in 2001 when it had to temporarily relocate to suburban Hengrove due to the foot and mouth crisis.

The Ashton Court Festival was a highlight of the summer traditionally taking place in mid-July, sandwiched between the St. Pauls Carnival on the first weekend of July and the Balloon Fiesta (also in the grounds of Ashton Court) in August.

The festival was as much about the journey as the being there and as much about the coming together of friends and random reunions with people you hadn't seen for ages as it was about the music. Wherever we lived or were starting out from, the initial rendezvous was occasionally The Bunch Of Grapes in the city centre, but more commonly one of the pubs skirting the edge of Durdham Downs. 
 
After a couple of pints whilst waiting for everyone to turn up, it was then on foot across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and into the grounds of Ashton Court. One thing that never changed was underestimating how bloody far it was from the entrance gate to the festival itself, usually necessitating one or more of the party to make a swift detour into the trees for a piss en route. It was quite a feeling though, as the journey there would gradually build to a critical mass of people all making their way to the same destination.
 
In the early days, the festival was free and unbound; festival volunteers would come around with a collection bucket at some point and that was your "entrance fee". Eventually, rising costs and security requirements saw the introduction of fences and admission fees, but it was still bloody good value, even if you only went on one day as we invariably did. It was pretty much Saturday only for us, for the simple reason that we could drink, dance and generally get off our heads (chemically assisted or not) all day long with the promise of a lie-in, full English at the local greasy spoon and hair of the dog at the pub the following afternoon and no worries until Monday came around.

The festival increasingly started bringing in 'big name' headline bands towards the end, from the brilliant (Stereo MC's) to the truly awful (Simple Minds) before coming to a sad end in 2007. It always remained a great showcase for local bands, arguably playing to their biggest audiences, even if the vast majority were either occupied with reunions, making out with complete strangers or expanding or contracting their consciousness in a variety of ways. And then there was the inevitable sighting of Thong Man, the pot bellied, heavily tanned and bearded man, all-but naked but for sunglasses, biker boots and a black leather codpiece. I long suspected it was Roy Wood of Wizzard fame trawling the festival incognito but I never had definitive proof. 

I usually left the festival with happy memories, friendships rekindled, a mother of a hangover and sunburn, but it was always a no-brainer that we'd be back there again the following year. 

Today's selection draws on a few of those Ashton Court Festival highlights, mainly from the 1990s and 2000s as, to be honest, I can barely remember those and the late 1980s are almost completely blank. With the exception of Lush and Smith & Mighty, I'm struggling to recall if I've seen any of these acts again outside of the festival. There's a very heavy sprinkling of local bands, several of which are still going strong today. I'd recommend checking out Kid Carpet if you've not had the pleasure before, including his brilliantly bonkers Noisy TV shows on YouTube
 
1) Rubber Dub: Babyhead (2003)
2) Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do (Album Version): Goldie Lookin' Chain (2004)
3) Hide U (Album Version): Kosheen (2001)
4) Skunk Song: Skunk Anansie (1995)
5) Bumble Bee: Citizen Fish (1997)
6) Nelson Street Space Invaders: Kid Carpet (2004)
7) The Anti-Racist Dub Broadcast: Mad Professor (1994)
8) Heroes (Album Version): Roni Size Reprazent ft. Onallee (1997)
9) Zion Youth (Dreadzone Mix): Dreadzone (1995)
10) Guiding Star: The Rhythmites (1988)
11) Ladykillers (Demo/Ruff Mix '95): Lush (1995)
12) Jacket Hangs (Album Version): The Blue Aeroplanes (1990)
13) Positive I.D. (Album Version): Renegade Soundwave (1994)
14) Flash Of Joy: Smith & Mighty ft. Tammy Payne (2002)
15) Roads (Monk & Canatella Remix): Portishead (2009)*
16) Something 4 The Weekend: Super Furry Animals (1996)

* Yes, a cheat I know as it's a 2009 remix, but Portishead did perform Roads back in 1998.
 

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Summertime Special

It's Saturday. it's summer, it's (hopefully) a special day, so it's time at long last for The Undertones.

Side 1 of a mixtape, compiled some time in 1989 and one of my most treasured DIY cassettes, having been with me on many travels to different parts of the globe.
 
Hopping back a few years prior to this, my reawakened love for The Undertones was purely and simply the fault of my school friend Stuart. No, not the Stuart that I've mentioned here before, but another Stuart at another school (I moved house and schools a bit as a kid). Both Stuarts have ginger hair and that is pretty much where the similarity started and ended. 
 
One school coach trip, circa 1986, Stuart and I were sat together and talking about music. In all likelihood, I had hogged the coach's tape deck as I was usually the only one with the presence of mind to bring along some homemade cassette compilations. In fact our music conversation may well have kicked off with Stuart telling me what crap taste I had, as I remember that this led to him extolling the virtues of Feargal Sharkey and co, having recently bought the compilation Cher O'Bowlies: The Pick Of The Undertones.
 
It felt like everyone loved The Undertones, growing up. They seemed to always be on kids TV (Cheggers Plays Pop especially) and Top Of The Pops, their singles were extremely catchy and although Feargal Sharkey looked a bit naff in his jumpers and bad haircut, The Undertones were uniformly brilliant. However, by 1986, the band were already a distant memory and although Feargal Sharkey looked even more naff in his snappy suits and even worse haircut, the record buying public seemed to love him even more.

So, it's fair to say that The Undertones weren't foremost on my mind at the time of that conversation. Stuart didn't have Cher O'Bowlies with him on that school trip and I never got to borrow it from him. 
 
Around 1987/1988, my older brother was living in a bedsit on Jamaica Street in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol, then - as now - brilliantly placed off the city centre and in the heart of a vibrant community of pubs, clubs and creativity. A regular haunt, as it was just across the road from the bedsit and especially invaluable for the Sunday stumble in for a hair of the dog, was The Bell. Apart from it's convenient location and focal point, The Bell also boasted a truly brilliant jukebox, chock full of vinyl 7" treasures, including The Undertones' You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It!). I would play this every visit.

My brother also had two albums by The Undertones: the self-titled debut from 1979 and their record label's definitive closing statement from 1983, the singles compilation All Wrapped Up, A-sides on one disc, B-sides on the other, and sporting a striking if somewhat unrepresentative cover photo, as seen above.

I loved these albums and ended up 'borrowing' them when my brother went on the mandatory pre-University InterRail trip with a girlfriend, moving his stuff temporarily back home. Don't worry, unlike some of my record collection, which mysteriously went AWOL with near-identical copies turning up wherever my brother happened to be living at the time, I did the decent thing by returning his records and getting my own copies later on. 

By the time I recorded this mixtape, these two records by The Undertones were all I had and, to be honest, all I thought I needed. I've revised my opinion since I bought the rest of The Undertones' albums, although I still have absolutely nothing by the 21st century Feargal-free incarnation of the band.

Summertime Special (yes, intentionally named after the crap early 80s BBC TV variety show) is a beast of a compilation: 18 songs in a little over three quarters of an hour, a mix of hits, B-sides and album tracks; the common thread is that they are all brilliant. 

Girls Don't Like It is the second song on their first album, following Family Entertainment, but it was always going to be the opener on my planned mixtape, followed by the swift 1-2 of Teenage Kicks and True Confessions from the debut EP. No spoilers in saying that all four songs from the EP made it onto the cassette, Emergency Cases later on Side 1, Smarter Than U on Side 2.
 
As the 1980s arrived, The Undertones took a different musical turn, with a poppier, more soulful sound. Wednesday Week and Julie Ocean are wonderful songs but I can see that the band's appeal was (to quote from Spinal Tap) becoming more selective at this point and, until the All Wrapped Up compilation, I had no particular recollection of their later singles. 
 
I wrote last year about The Undertones' final single Chain Of Love's harmonica line and it's striking similarity to Culture Club's Karma Chameleon, released a few months later in 1983. I rate all of the later singles, particularly The Love Parade. The version on All Wrapped Up appears to be exclusive to the compilation, an edit of the 12" removing the keyboard intro with an early fade at the end, but retaining the middle instrumental section that was unsatisfactorily cut from fourth album The Sin Of Pride.

I don't think I quite managed to get the whole of The Undertones' debut and All Wrapped Up onto two sides of a C90 cassette, but I came pretty close. Rest assured that any favourites missing from Side 1 will almost certainly be on Side 2 when it eventually makes an appearance here.

In the meantime, put on your Doc Martens, turn up your jeans, zip up your Parka despite the summer heat, crank up the volume, press play and just let it all go. You can rest tomorrow.
 
1) Girls Don't Like It (1979)
2) Teenage Kicks (1978)
3) True Confessions (Single Version) (1978)
4) Life's Too Easy (Single Version) (1982)
5) Let's Talk About Girls (1979)
6) Billy's Third (Album Version) (1979)
7) It's Going To Happen! (Album Version) (1981)
8) Chain Of Love (Album Version) (1983)
9) Fairly In The Money Now (1981)
10) Wednesday Week (1980)
11) Emergency Cases (1978)
12) I Gotta Getta (1979)
13) My Perfect Cousin (1980)
14) Top Twenty (Single Version) (1979)
15) Male Model (Album Version) (1979)
16) I Know A Girl (1979)
17) The Love Parade ('All Wrapped Up' 12" Edit) (1983)
18) You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It!) (1979)

1978: Teenage Kicks EP: 2, 3, 11
1979: Here Comes The Summer EP: 14
1979: The Undertones: 1, 6, 12, 15, 16
1979: You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It!) EP: 5, 18 
1980: Hypnotised: 10, 13
1981: It's Going To Happen! EP: 9
1981: Positive Touch: 7
1982: Beautiful Friend EP: 4
1983: The Sin Of Pride: 8
1983: All Wrapped Up: 17
 

Friday, 24 June 2022

You Can Touch It But It Will Not Fade

Side 1 of a mixtape, compiled 11th January 1998.

Following on from yesterday's post, this selection remains in the 1990s and features eight remixes that I was unlikely to ever hear down the local indie disco, but which in their own way, kick ass. What better way then to usher in the weekend?
 
In order to squeeze all the tracks onto a side of a C90 cassette, I originally cut Cornershop's Jullandar Shere in half with an early fade. For today's selection, I've kept the remix by Richard Norris (The Grid) and Choque Hosein (Black Star Liner) in all it's full, joyous glory. 
 
Conversely, I think the edit of Ain't No Longer (The Lost Riff) is possibly unique to a Select magazine cover-mounted CD. The full length version was intended for FPS-2, a remix companion to Dodgy's third album Free Peace Sweet, which was never released. FPS-2 was eventually snuck out on 1999's Ace A's + Killer B's compilation as a limited edition bonus disc and reappeared earlier this year on the gargantuan 8CD box set The A&M Years. Ain't No Longer (The Lost Riff) was also one of four tracks on a promo 12" of FPS-2 released in 1996, but I'm not heard it so I'm unsure if it's the edit or full length version.

Fans of Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon (which originated in 1994) will be disappointed to find that the titular Hollywood actor is not responsible for track 5's Audioweb remix. This Kevin Bacon is the former Comsat Angels bass player who teamed up with Floy Joy's touring keyboard player Jonathan Quarmby to form a successful production duo.

Without doing a disservice to Primal Scream, Fluke and Natacha Atlas, the final mention goes to Andy Bell, who delivers a remix (possibly his first?) of Ride that takes the original, Rolling Stones-indebted song to the moon and back. A precursor to his future music as GLOK, Andy Bell has also continued to record and release music with Ride and as a solo artist, including one of 2022's best albums so far, the majestic Flicker. I really must get an Andy Bell selection up here soon...
 
Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, have a rocktastic weekend, everyone. More tomorrow.

1) Jailbird (The Toxic Trio Stay Free Mix By Kris Needs & Bent Recknagel): Primal Scream (1994)
2) Familus Horribilus (Mega Wob 1) (Remix By Jah Wobble): Pop Will Eat Itself (1993)
3) Jullandar Shere (Jeh Jeh Mix By Richard Norris & Choque Hosein): Cornershop (1996)
4) Absurd (Headrillaz Vox): Fluke (1997)
5) Faker (I, Mental Mix By Manna aka Kevin Bacon & Jonathan Quarmby): Audioweb (1997)
6) Ain't No Longer (The Lost Riff) (Remix By Jerome De Pietro) (Edit): Dodgy (1997)
7) I Don't Know Where It Comes From (Apollo 11 Mix By Andy Bell): Ride ft. The Christchurch Cathedral School Choir (1994)
8) Yalla Chant (The Lesson Four Edit By Youth): Natacha Atlas (1995)
 
1993: Familus Horribilus / RSVP EP: 2 
1994: I Don't Know Where It Comes From EP: 7
1994: Jailbird EP: 1 
1995: Yalla Chant EP: 8
1996: Jullandar Shere EP: 3
1997: Absurd EP: 4
1997: Faker EP: 5
1997: Vrooom! Motorcycle Loveliness (Select magazine promo CD): 6

Thursday, 23 June 2022

It's The Why, It's The Where And The When We're United

The long overdue return of an Andrew Weatherall remix selection to this blog, with a half-dozen lengthy reworkings, firmly rooted in the 1990s.

First up, the original version of Smokebelch II, which spawned - and continues to inspire - numerous versions and remixes. Still sounding beautiful and epic, three decades on. 

Andrew Weatherall's relationship with Primal Scream was such that it was an expectation  that he would in some way, shape or form be involved with each new release, whether as producer and/or remixer. I remember the thrill of getting the promo 12" of Stuka, the two mixes a highlight of the Vanishing Point era.

United was originally recorded by Throbbing Gristle in 1978, although I don't think I heard it until the 1990s, via a UK re-release of the 1981 US compilation, Throbbing Gristle's Greatest Hits: Entertainment Through Pain. In 1994, I came across an untitled remix credited to PT001 on The Sabres Of Paradise compilation, Septic Cuts. In 1995, Psychic TV released Sirens, containing 4 Weatherall remixes of the song, re-titled Re-United. Today's post title is lifted from the original Throbbing Gristle song, although ironically that line is cut from the two-part vocal remix included in this selection.

Gone saw Andrew Weatherall repaying a favour to David Holmes, who had remixed Smokebelch II to stunning effect a couple of years previously. Although credited as featuring Sarah Cracknell from Saint Etienne, you'll be hard pressed to find any trace of her in this beat-heavy minimalist mix.

It took me a long time to get hold of the Two Lone Swordsmen remix of Come Together but it was worth the time and effort. A dizzying, discordant trip way south of Spiritualized's original for nearly sixteen minutes, it's easily one of the best things that Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood produced in their time together.
 
As if that wasn't epic enough, the remix of Jam J that The Sabres Of Paradise originally delivered to James ran to thirty three and and a half minutes. The mix was released split into two sides of a vinyl 12" or in it's full, unedited glory as a single CD. I got the latter. The labeling of the mix described four distinct phases and you get the third phase here, the majestic Sabresonic Tremelo Dub, with off-kilter, shuffling rhythms, washes of squalling guitar and melancholic synth lines that, together, really hit the spot.
 
I've not attempted any ham-fisted mixing, beat matching or re-editing here; you get six sequenced songs in a CD-R friendly track list to listen to. Andrew Weatherall would have undoubtedly have spun this selection off into a completely new shape, but I think they're all pretty wonderful in their own right too.
 
1) Smokebelch II (Entry) (Remix By Andrew Weatherall, Jagz Kooner & Gary Burns): The Sabres Of Paradise (1993)
2) Stuka (Two Lone Swordsmen Mix #1) (Remix By Andrew Weatherall & Keith Tenniswood): Primal Scream (1997)
3) Re-United (Mix 4 By Andrew Weatherall): Psychic TV (1994)
4) Gone (First Night Without Charge) (Remix By Two Lone Swordsmen): David Holmes ft. Sarah Cracknell (1995)
5) Come Together (The Two Lone Swordsmen Mix): Spiritualized (1998)
6) Jam J (Phase 3: Sabresonic Tremelo Dub): James vs. The Sabres Of Paradise (1994)
 

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

It Will Die Out

Today's post title is the English translation of Abé Sumaya, a song by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba from the 2015 album Ba Power. Bassekou Kouyate is a musician from Mali, his band named after his instrument of choice, the ngoni, the country's traditional string instrument. It's a familiar sound, particular with the rising global popularity of Malian music in the past 30-odd years, but I think Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's music was the first time I'd heard the instrument played with wah wah effects.  
 
I first encountered Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba via the 2006 compilation Global A Go-Go: Celebrating 20 Years Of World Music, a cover-mounted CD with Uncut magazine. Since then, I've sporadically heard their music on TV (Later...With Jools Holland in 2007) and online (the full KEXP session from 2015) but I've not yet got around to buying a full album. 

Abé Sumaya is one of four songs performed for the 2015 KEXP session, featuring Kouyate's wife Amy Sacko on vocals, a successful solo artist in her own right, though you wouldn't know this from her Discogs page.
 
The original studio version - and full Ba Power album - is available to buy on Bandcamp (other outlets are available). Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba will be returning to the UK for five performances in June 2023. 
 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Thank God For Sin To Show The Way

 
I rediscovered Forget About Jesus by Swell during my (very) slow attempt to transfer my shiny discs to digital files and gradually whittle down my physical collection of CDs. This began when we moved house over a decade ago and I swore that, come the next house move, we'd never have to shift that number of boxes again. We're contemplating a move in the next year or so and I've made very little headway in the intervening years.
 
This four-track CD from 1994 was in a box of singles, my sole purchase of Swell's music in nearly three decades. I remember hearing Forget About Jesus on the radio; I'm guessing it would have been the Mark Radcliffe evening show on Radio 1 as Swell recorded a session including this song the same year. What I do remember is that hearing the song was just like that scene in High Fidelity when John Cusack drops The Beta Band's Dry The Rain - I stopped what I was doing and just listened to it all the way through and hastily scribbled down the name of the song and the band at the end. 
 
I bought the single on CD from Replay Records in Bristol soon after. Forget About Jesus features twice: firstly, an "exhumed vocals" version, which in retrospect seems to be a slight edit of the album version; the final track, Forget About Dean, features drummer Sean Kirkpatrick's dad Dean reciting the lyrics over an altered, extended arrangement. 

The newly digitised single popped up on my playlist yesterday on my commute home from work. I was blown away by the song all over again and ended up playing it eight times, nearly-but-not-quite in a continuous loop. To my ears, it's acoustic and twangy guitars, shuffling drums, sweeping synths and vocals bordering on sing-speak in perfect unison.

There she stands
There she sits
Water, life, and grace ...in their hands
Who you gonna' listen to if it's only just a smile?
Thank god for sin to show the way
 
Where she lies,
Where she waits.
There's an act of grace... in their eyes
Who you going to listen to if it's only just a smile?
Thank god for sin to show the way
 
Stay a little lonely this time,
Stay a little longer this time
 
Despite all this, I failed to follow up by buying third album 41 or indeed anything else by Swell that came before or after. In researching today's post, I found that Swell's founding member and driving force, David Freel, sadly passed on 12th April this year. 
 
Oregon, where David Freel settled with his family and continued to create music for the last decade and a half of his life, is home to pSychoSpecificMusic. On their Bandcamp page you can buy Freel's back catalogue of Swell albums, singles and rarities, together with his numerous other projects. 

Twenty eight years after its original release, I belatedly listened to 41 in full. The Bandcamp release from 2014 is retitled (41 is 20) and contains a bonus track, "lyrics". As with Forget About Dean, it features Dean Fitzpatrick sat on the train, reciting the album's lyrics. Start to finish, 41 is a rather wonderful record and the start of my journey of (re)discovery with Swell and David Freel. Sorry that I left it so long / too late. I’ll stay a little longer this time…

Monday, 20 June 2022

Oh Gosh, Oh Gosh, I'm Juliette Binoche!

Another in my occasional series of song selections named after an actor's films, Juliette Binoche follows in the footsteps of Faye Dunaway and Elizabeth Taylor.

At first, a tougher call than you might think. I mean, who on Earth would record songs called The English Patient, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being or Three Colors: Blue (or Red or White, for that matter)?

Thankfully, there were plenty of other selections to encompass her debut, 1983's Liberty Belle right up to this year's Fire, the latest film by Claire Denis and one that is unlikely to be screening at my nearest cinemas which are currently dominated by Tom effing Cruise.

Perfect timing, with Kate Bush securing her first UK #1 in ages with Running Up That Hill, that her debut single gets a look in here, still as stunning now as when I heard it as a 7 year old. This is followed by Vanessa Contenay-Quiñones, better known in the 1990s as Espiritu, with the only French language song in this selection. A bit of cheat here as Juliette Binoche starred in 2005's singular Caché, but I'm pretending that it was so good that I watched it twice...
 
Juliette is mentioned in the Earthling song 1st Transmission, which also provides today's post title. In a nice touch, the album version and remixes by Plunderphonics and Portishead name check a different location, taking in Ilford, Bombay, Stokes Croft in Bristol and, in the version featured here, stopping off at Woodstock.
 
Diamond Hoo Ha Men and The Magnetic North are both aliases/side projects for other artists. The former are better known as two thirds of Supergrass and this grungier version popped up on the Bad Blood single in 2008. The Magnetic North are a trio comprising Erland Cooper, Hannah Peel and Simon Tong, remixed here to atmospheric effect by White Label, another trio including Steve Aungle, who worked with the late Billy MacKenzie and has done much to keep his musical legacy alive.
 
Quite an eclectic selection again, which includes arguably Binoche's career nadir Damage - the Yo La Tengo song is much better - and several songs that I could easily imagine being used in a film soundtrack, assuming they haven't already. This one's a keeper.

1) Chocolat: Cornershop (1997)
2) Liberty Belle (Remix By Mario Caldato Jr): Super Furry Animals (2004)
3) Wuthering Heights (Album Version): Kate Bush (1978)
4) Cache Cache: Vanessa Contenay-Quiñones (2020)
5) 1st Transmission (Acoustlick) (Remix By Plunderphonics): Earthling (1994)
6) Bad Blood (DHHM Version): Diamond Hoo Ha Men (2008)
7) Let The Sunshine In (Recorded Live @ Maida Vale Studios For Lamacq Live On Radio 1, 4th October 2002) (Cover of The 5th Dimension): Badly Drawn Boy (2002)
8) High Life (White Label Remix By Steve Aungle, Anth Brown & Tom Doyle): The Magnetic North (2017)
9) Rendez-Vu (Album Version): Basement Jaxx (1999)
10) Fire: Black Pumas (2018)
11) Damage: Yo La Tengo (1997)
12) Paris: The Anchoress (2021)

1978: The Kick Inside: 3 
1994: 1st Transmission EP: 5
1997: I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One: 11
1997: When I Was Born For The 7th Time: 1
1999: Remedy: 9
2002: All Possibilities EP: 7
2004: Phantom Phorce: 2
2008: Bad Blood EP (by Supergrass): 6 
2017: Borrowed Voices (by White Label): 8
2018: Black Pumas: 10
2020: Voodoo Girl: 4
2021: The Art Of Losing: 12