Thursday, September 25, 2008

Songs They Don't Play On The Radio...Anymore #5

I was thinking to myself earlier...if this record were released in 2008, which TV programmes would "Matthew" be watching? Do post your suggestions in the comments box won't you.

Karel Fialka "Hey Matthew" (1987)

Me, I've been watching "The Family" on Channel 4. It's surprisingly good, isn't it?

You can read my interview with Laetitia from Stereolab over here. That's all for now except to say that there's a rather cruel, but nonetheless amusing, review of Seasick Steve's new album in this week's NME. Why have I started reading the NME again - out of nostalgia? Loyalty? I don't know.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

From The Best Pop Album of 2008 (So Far)...

Ladyhawke "Dusk Till Dawn"

Suffice to say: I bought this six days ago. My iTunes tells me I've listened to it at least 15 times right through so far. I'm going to stick it on again.

Great songs on "Ladyhawke": "Magic", "Manipulating Woman", "My Delirium", "Better Than Sunday", "Another Runaway", "Love Don't Live Here", "Back Of The Van", "Paris Is Burning", "Dusk Till Dawn", "Oh My", "Crazy World", "Morning Dreams".

Great songs which are NOT on "Ladyhawke": "Love Is A Battlefield", "Out Of Touch", "Kids In America", "Little Lies", "Rush Hour", "Obssession", "Easy Lover".

More soon...

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's Goin' On...

If the title of this post makes you think of Eastenders more than it does Marvin Gaye, then we are of a kind. But just to say that as of next week I hopefully have a new place to live (in Maynooth, home of monks and students) and I'll be back online properly from there on in.

In other "news", Girls Aloud's new single, "The Promise" is very good. Surprise surprise, eh?

Songs They Don't Play On The Radio...Anymore #4

Susan Fassbender "Twilight Café" (1981)

Good piece of new wavey pop. There is another clip of this from TOTP2 on YouTube, but I fear that might have wanker wanker wanker WANKER Steve Wright talking over it, so I thought I'd spare you that. Anyway, I like these YouTube clips where someone just sticks up a bit of film of them playing an old single...

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I've seen this mentioned about the place a couple of times this year, in a mail out from Word Magazine's website and in yesterday's G2. It is brilliant so I thought I'd whack it up here.

Adriano Celentano "Prisencolinensinainciusol"

This basically invents hip-hop, disco, funk and music video in one fell swoop. In Italy in 1972! Amazing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Eurythmics "In The Garden" (1981)

Songwriters: Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart (+ 1 with Roger Pomphrey)
Producer: Conrad Plank
Guest musicians: Marcus Stockhausen, Robert Gorl (of D.A.F.), Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit (of Can), Clem Burke (of Blondie)
Recorded: February - June 1981
Released: October 1981

1. English Summer
2. Belinda
3. Take Me To Your Heart
4. She's Invisible Now
5. Your Time Will Come
6. Caveman Head
7. Never Gonna Cry Again
8. All The Young (People Of Today)
9. Sing Sing
10. Revenge

Alright, I'm not going to kid on that this is an earth-shatteringly brilliant record. But is it worth your time? I think so. Having lost guitarist Pete Coombes, ex-Tourists Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart form Eurythmics and off themselves to Connie Plank's studio in Cologne to record an album that teeters perfectly on the verge between avant-garde experimentalism and New Pop. Maybe they thought they had nothing to lose, but The Tourists did have two Top 10 hits and a Top 30 album behind them. I'd say they were taking a bit of a risk. The outcome of their German sessions was the 1981 Eurythmics debut 'In The Garden' which didn't get much record company support and failed to chart. The single 'Never Gonna Cry Again' just about charted (outside the happenin' 40) and it would take a further two years for the duo to taste proper pop star success again. So, the question is: were the Eurythmics ever any use? I think so. I first became interested in this album having seen the following clip on "Sounds Of The 80s" (back in the mid 90s, I hope you're keeping up)....

It was interesting to me that a band who I thought I knew inside out, and who I found slightly boring, had this interesting history. That they'd collaborated with one of Can - who I knew to be progressive German modernist types - was intriguing. I'm into records that don't necessarily have a catchy chorus as such, but which have an intriguing mood or atmosphere about them. There's something nice and dark about 'Never Gonna Cry Again'. It's completely repetetive, it's got sort of out-of-tune brass instruments on it. That's Holger Czukay wandering into view halfway through the 'Never Gonna Cry Again' performance, like some lost, senile old age pensioner. It's just all a bit wrong, but in a good way. I went and bought 'In The Garden' off the back of it and thought it was quite good actually. Here I was enjoying a record by bloody Brit Awards perennial Annie Lennox! Not a woman who I had a lot of time for during my youth I must say.

Opener 'English Summer' is pleasant enough. Half way through the music drops away and sampled sounds of the city in summertime are heard (echoes of Lovin' Spoonful there) and then the song fades right back up again. I know it's only a little detail but it makes a difference, makes it eerie. 'Belinda' is an uptempo should-have-been-a-hit sort of song. 'Revenge' the album's closer is similar, they've got great drum tracks and slightly funky basslines, but funky in the krautrock sense. Poor old Jaki Liebezeit has his name misspelt throughout the '87 CD issue's inlay, but never mind. Another good one is 'Sing Sing', which for some reason is sung in French. Perhaps it's just part of the cosmopolitan spirit of the times; this is from a period when Simple Minds were releasing similarly krautrocky records called things like "70 Cities As Love Brings The Fall" and "Constantinople Line". Sometimes it's better to leave things untranslated, but no matter - this is a mysterious sort of album anyway. 'Take Me To Your Heart', 'She's Invisible Now' and 'All The Young (People Of The World)' are all slight enough songs, but it's all about mood here. This is an album to buy if you're into Stereolab's later poppier albums, I think. It's full of ancient synths, Farfisa and - sorry to use the cliche again - motorik rhythm. But it's still a pop album. Most odd. Is this Can copping out? Or is the sight of Holger Czukay on national TV something to celebrate? I don't know, but I like the clash of personalities going on here.

I'll post the mp3s... soon alright? No promises here!

No Show For The Fireman On "Later...Live"

According to yesterday's Planet Sound, The Fireman (i.e. the outlet for the ambient techno dabblings of Paul McCartney and Youth) have pulled out of their scheduled appearance on "Later...Live" next week, owing to Macca rehearsing for a tour. This is a pity, because they deserve wider exposure. They released two albums in the 1990s, "Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest" (I love that title) and "Rushes". They're very hard to find, so it's best to stick with YouTube for now.

Hopefully they'll get around to re-issuing those albums. In the meantime, if you get a chance have a read of "The Unknown Paul McCartney" by Ian Peel, which delves deep into Paul's long love-affair with avant-garde music. Next time someone tries to tell you that John Lennon was the maverick spirit in The Beatles, take a copy of this book and WHACK THEM OVER THE HEAD WITH IT.

That YouTube vid is rubbish isn't it. But I don't have a Fireman mp3 to share with you unfortunately.

Youth is best known perhaps as a member of Killing Joke, and producer of The Orb, Crowded House and The Verve. He also produced (and co-wrote bits of) Bananarama's "Pop Life" album from 1991 though. I love people who bring what are apparently polar opposites in pop music together. Here's 'ver Rams' TOTP performance of "Preacher Man", a very good single I think even if it wasn't a big hit.

It's okay rock fans, you can come out from behind the sofa now.

A third album from The Fireman is imminent.

Good Call!

Girls Aloud's "Call The Shots" has won the 2008 Popjustice £20 Prize. Quite right too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Electronic "Electronic" (1991)

1. Idiot Country
2. Reality
3. Tighten Up
4. The Patience Of A Saint
5. Getting Away With It
6. Gangster
7. Soviet
8. Get The Message
9. Try All You Want
10. Some Distant Memory
11. Feel Every Beat

It’s a pity Electronic didn’t seem to realise what a brilliant pop group they were. Their second and third albums were huge disappointments. 1996’s “Raise The Pressure” contained one or two good songs and lots of dated ravey davey bollocks, and “Twisted Tenderness”’s forays into fat ugly rock left this writer a bit cold. “Electronic” though, is genuinely one of the best pop albums of the 1990s. Not that I want to oversell it.

I’ve uploaded the 1994 re-master, which adds in the 1989 single “Getting Away With It”. I will upload all of the tracks on the album because it is so good that I cann’t decide what to leave off. (My connection is a bit slow today so they may appear during the week.) One of the reasons I like this album so much is that it came as such a surprise that Barney out of New Order would make a record with Johnny Marr out of The Smiths. Not only that, but a dancey pop record. “Johnny Marr? Miserable Morrissey’s mate? Making a record you can dance to??” Now we know that Marr had been itching to make records like this all along. Being constrained by Morrissey’s luddite attitude to pop music (“If a synthesizer ever appears on a Smiths record, then I won’t…”) meant that Marr embraced dance culture with some gusto. Around the time of this album’s release Sumner and Marr ranted and raved to journalists about their favourite italo house records and their mutual love of Kraftwerk and The Stooges. But crucially, I think, this record has a pop nous about it which makes it really special. I can’t think of a more fresh, modern, melodic album from 1991 than this one. The Pet Shop Boys collaboration, “Getting Away With It” is obviously brilliant enough, with its wry, self-deprecating lyric and mix of Spanishy guitars, strings and Chic-y bass. But they didn’t even bother to stick that on the album when it was originally released. There was “The Patience Of A Saint” though, which sort of made up for that single’s omission.

Lead off single “Get The Message” is the guitariest thing here, drenched in feedback. Listen out too for the yawning backdrop and some really Sumner-esque lyrics. It was a busy year for Johnny Marr. He also co-wrote and produced Kirsty MacColl’s “Walking In Madison” and a couple of tracks on Billy Bragg’s “Don’t Try This At Home” album (including the single “Sexuality”). Three of the year’s best singles of 1991, right there. It might sound like goalpost-moving but the album’s flaws only add to the fun of it all. Barney’s crap-rapping on the opening and closing tracks spring to mind. But if you’re like me, you’ll want to forgive that. It was only years later that I realised those tracks were inspired by the violence at the Hacienda which was raging at the time. “Gangster” is also great, it dates back to the mid 80s when Sumner started to write for a solo record, and is apparently about a friend of his who had ended up in prison. It’s to Sumner’s credit I think, that his lyrics seem so childish (or do I mean “child-like”?), for example this track’s obvious rhyming: “I’d like to read, I’d like to write/ But where I live I learn to fight”. It might not be Bob Dylan, but it’s touching in its own way. It’s rare that the record has a lull, although towards the end it seems to drift off just slightly. Even taking that into account, Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr are at the top of their game here and this record is as good as anything they have ever done, whether together or apart. It sounds to me for all the world like a sequel to New Order’s “Technique” album. The entire album exudes panache, self-awareness, and humour.

You can find some really good reviews of this album here, here and here which make the point better than I can. “Electronic” is perhaps the best pop album of its time. It’s a pity after that after one more really good single “Disappointed”, the duo disappeared for four years, only to return with the patchy at best “Raise The Pressure”. Apparently Sumner suffered from writer’s block – he even appeared on The Late Show on BBC2, where he was invited to experiment with Prozac and report back to the show about how it affected his creativity. Since then, there’s been New Order’s occasionally good reunion (and now, another apparent break-up), while Marr has been busying himself as usual as a member of Modest Mouse (isn’t “Dashboard” an utterly brilliant record?) and now The Cribs.

P.S. I preferred the single mix of “Feel Every Beat” over the album version. You can see the video for that here. Scroll down this page to see the TOTP performance of the “Disappointed” single from 1992.

P.P.S. By the way I AM trying to upload more tracks from this but I'm having to use internet cafes and it's taking forever. But they'll be up in a few days.

"That's a silly question..."

In response to this, here are a couple of articles from Smash Hits magazine, both from 1988.

(From the letters page)...

Dear Black Type,

I'm from "down under" in Melbourne. That's where Neighbours is filmed and since I know a bit about it, I would like to give the bloke who wrote to you, Norman Omar (21 Sept - 4 Oct), a few answers to his questions. Yes, it's true that Madge does marry Harold! Eileen is ditched at the altar (the person who plays Eileen died, so they wrote her out as if she'd just gone on holiday). Daphne is killed in a car accident and Des has to look after Jamie! Jim marries a doctor but doesn't move out of the house for months. Lucy does nearly die, but then she gets better and goes to boarding school! Charlene does marry Scott but because Kylie Minogue leaves, they have to write her out too. I hope that clears everything up for you, Norman.
Kayleen Wise, Victoria, Australia.

Yes, you're completely right that on the third "track" on the second side of Wilfred Grumble And The Incredibly Freaky Flashback Experience's seminal 1966 release "Hey Man! There's An Aubergine In My Brain", you certainly can hear the band's drummer Stig having a conversation about Nietzsche with a colander (but only if you stick your head fully into your left "woofer"). It undoubtedly is a long mighty long way down rock 'n' roll!!!!(?*£%!?$)

(From the Personal File featurette, an interview with Mags from A-ha...)

Full name: Magne Furuholmen
Date of birth: 1/11/62 in Oslo, Norway.
Do you have any brothers and sisters?
Yup, I've got one sister and two brothers. My sister's name is Line, but my brothers' names are far too long, so just put T and T (they're called Thorstein and Trygve actually - Ed), They're 15 and 17 years old and are both still at school, and Line, who's 20, is at college studying market research.
Do you have any pets?
No, but my family have a lot of pets - dogs, cats, sheep...they live on a farm you see. I think it would be rather unfair if I kept a pet because I travel around the world so much. I suppose the closest thing I've got to a pet is my cow-skin leather jacket, ha ha. (?)
Where do you live now?
London - I thought that was, uh, a pretty well-known fact. Whereabouts? Heh heh heh, no chance mate. It's quite a nice flat, but I don't have a lot of furniture because i like to have very little to distract my mind when I'm resting. (??) I don't think I have one picture on my wall, but I do have a lot of pictures standing around me, I do a bit of painting in my spare time, so I keep my pictures around me - like children. (???)
How tall are you?
1.86 metres - that's just over six feet. I was a very slow developer until I was about 16, then I grew about eight inches in one year, so I slept a lot that year. Why? Well you do when you grow, don't you?
Do you have any famous ancestors?
One of my ancestors was a Norwegian king back in the Iron Age. He was a Viking, yes, but he was a big cissy. He used to dress up in women's clothes and hang out with the wandering minstrels.
What do you do last thing at night?
I meditate, mainly because I tend to get very tense and stressful during the day when we're touring, which we are now (in Germany). You just clear your head of all thoughts and relax. It's based on, em, some kind of Eastern rubbish I suppose. I also like to have a sauna sometimes too. Do I like it very hot? Yes, I usually pour vodka on the glowing stones and get really drunk heheheehee! I wouldn't recommend it though because sometimes it blows up...
Has anyone ever given you a blow-up iguana?
A what? Oh! No, but sometimes when we're on stage, people throw these eight-foot blow up whales during "Looking For The Whales". I've kept one at home.
Who would you most like to go Scandinavian back-packing with? Would it be a) Terence Trent D'Arby; b) Paul Weller; c) Tommy Cunningham or d) Tiffany?
Paul Weller's had a big influence on me, so he would be interesting I suppose. Terence Trent D'Arby is a nice guy, but I'm not sure he enjoys back-packing. No, it's not true that he threw a profiterole at me during the BPI Awards. He threw some stuff around and some of it did hit our table, but I don't think he was aiming at us. Tommy Cunningham? I've never heard of him. Ginger-haired chap? Oh well, good luck to him. Tiffany? What about her? No, I don't really fancy the idea. I think Paul Weller would be the best, even though he might annoy me with his high-brow conversations. Back-packing is a seriuos business - you can't take it lightly, you know.
What would you like to come back as in a later life?
What? Uuuuuh....(wheezes furiously). I don't really perceive the world that way, but I think what you're asking me is whether I'm happy the way I am or would I like to be someone else. And that's a silly question.
Is there anything more disgusting than having to clean scrambled eggs out of a saucepan? I dunno - I don't cook my scrambled eggs in a saucepan. I've got a microwave, man.
Do you ever lie in bed and think to yourself "It's just like punk never happened!"?
Yes! Punk was really important and it strenghthened the whole music industry, so we need something like that again.
Have you ever found any silver fish in your mattress?
No! It would scare me to death that one. Oh! We've got to go to the soundcheck. Last question!
What's your favourite word that rhymes with Mags?
I don't know any words that rhyme with Mags. Do you have any? Fags? That's not really my favourite. Bags, tags, rags...I don't have any favourites. Any I particularly dislike? Nope. (Click! Brrrrrr....)

Priceless! I'll post more example of this sort of thing as I find them.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Songs They Don't Play On The Radio...Anymore #3

Rhianna "Oh Baby" (2002)

It's not a brilliant record, but I liked it enough at the time to buy her album "Get On" when it came into the charity shop that I worked in (i.e. Concern in Dundrum village - don't look for it, it's not there anymore). Nice, sub-aquatic bassline and wah-wah guitars here.

Lovely weather we're having by the way. Now that it's stopped pissing it down I'm hoping to upload a completely brilliant album tomorrow, so stay tuned for that. (I've been housebound, you see.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Songs They Don't Play On The Radio...Anymore #2

Sophie Ellis-Bextor "Mixed Up World" (2003)

You may be wondering why I've resorted to posting lazy YouTube embeds this week. It's because I've moved out of my rented accommodation back to my parents for a couple of weeks (hopefully no more than that), and now don't have internet access at home. I expect to find a new place soon.

In other news, changes are afoot at State magazine. I like the magazine a lot. It seemed a good rival to Hot Press to me, so I'm a little bit disappointed that they now intend to give it away for free. Not that I've anything against free stuff you understand, it's just the feeling that people don't want to pay for good music magazines anymore. Free ones like Connected and Analogue (who I'm currently writing for) vary in quality quite wildly in my experience.

In other, other news...Annie's album "Don't Stop" has leaked but I haven't heard it yet. I don't want to spoil it for myself when it GETS RELEASED PROPERLY. If it gets released properly that is.

And now they're playing an even more moany and whingey, dull live version of Pink Floyd's "Mother" by moany whingey dullard Roger Waters in the internet cafe I find myself in. Time to make a hasty exit. Toodle-pip!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Songs They Don't Play On The Radio...Anymore #1

First in an occasional series...

Deepest Blue "Deepest Blue" (2003)

P.S. I have just been into Enable on Camden Street and have bought S Club 7's album "Sunshine", S Club Juniors' album "Together" and Now 62. All of which came to €7.30. A snip!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Disappointed", encore.

There was a brilliant interview with Pet Shop Boys in the September (i.e. Autumn) edition of Pop magazine (a "superglossy", apparently)! I'll type it up in a day or so but in the meantime, look at this. It is brill.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Back Catalogue...

A fun clip, this. From Top of the Pops, June 1992. The Orb's album "U.F.Orb" was about to reach number one, and their single "Blue Room" (co-produced by Youth) had crept into the charts at number 8 - despite being 39 minutes and 56 seconds in length. The radio edit is a much more sensible 4'11 though, and this is the version we have here. Bob Bloody Geldof was co-hosting the show this week, and once this performance had come to an end had this to say "Hmmmn, that was incredibly mind expanding. And now from mind expansion to hair expansion: it's Elton John with his new wig and 'The One'..." These things are worth knowing aren't they. Another thing to say about this clip is that "Dr" Alex Patterson ("doctor" of what, exactly?) later revealed to Vox magazine that TOTP's director at the time (Stanley Appel, I think) had tried to persuade the duo to - in Patterson's words - "do a sort of a 'yo' wave to the camera" at some point during the performance. A nice example of piss-taking here all the same. The Orb's performance of "Toxygene" five years later is almost as good.

Most of The Orb's albums have just been re-issued in deluxe double disc editions (as if they weren't long enough to begin with). I'm hoping they reissue "Live 93" which is a forgotten gem. But just for the record "Pomme Fritz" isn't as bad as some of the reviewers have been saying it is. To put it another way...

EXCELLENT: "The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld", "U.F.Orb", "Live 93"
ALRIGHT: "Pomme Fritz", "Orblivion", "Okie Dokie It's The Orb On Kompakt", "...The Dream"
IFFY: "Orbvs Terrarvm", "Cydonia", "Bicycles and Tricycles"

"Once More..." was sort of alright-ish too, now that I think of it...