Sunday, August 31, 2014

31st August 1945 - Van Morrison

 
Van is one short of 70 today.

Animals # 17 Walrus

 
Having spent yesterday in Liverpool, The Beatles get this one!
 
 

Song of the Day # 225 Allah-Las

 
As posted previously, I went to Liverpool yesterday and it turned into a Beatles day. It's a little difficult to get away from them there and as I'm partial I indulged but I'll write about that later. Instead, for Song of the Day here's an American Rock and Roll group who remind me of the Paisley Underground Californian movement of the early eighties. They in turn were an echo of the sixties psychedelic movement. So this is derivative to say the least. But it's derivative of things I love and I like it too. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Song of the Day # 224 The Bangles

 
It says it's Friday. It's actually Saturday. I'm posting this at half past six before going to catch the coach to Liverpool with work. Haven't been there for thirty years since I went for a university interview. I ended up in Norwich instead. The angles were just out of the Paisley Underground but not yet the hit-making phenomenon they became. A very odd video where they clearly had the budget to afford Leonard Nimmoy but no idea what to do with him. Nice song anyway and apparently sung by the drummer. Ringo never got songs like this.

Animals # 16 Lion

 
Could go in the 'Famous Person in Song' spurious series but we'll put it in this one.
 
 

29th August 1958 Liz Fraser

 
Born this day.

Song of the Day # 223 Orange Juice

'The difference between you and me. Is that the world owes you a living.'
 
Orange Juice's second album is an interesting case in point. It didn't sell and it was generally felt that their early Postcard sparkle had gone flat the band having signed to Polydor. The record however did yield them their only proper career hit Rip It Up, which flirted around the Top 10 for a few weeks and gave them a Smash Hits cover. I don't particularly like that song but do like the other singles the band released from the album both of which fell short of the Top 40. I Can't Help Myself, a Motown knock off and this, which seems to me almost a Bacharach and David pastiche. And a very good pop song. Would have sat well at Number 15.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Animals # 15 Wolf

 
Radiohead are 'great'. I wouldn't deny it. However, sometimes for me they have to be taken in short doses, such is their glum intensity. This, and much of the album it hails from is wonderful.
 
 
 
 

28th August 1949 - Martin Lamble

 
Original Fairport Convention drummer bor. He died in a van accident less than twenty years later which almost broke up the band but eventually led to the painful gestation of Liege & Lief.

Song of the Day #222 White Reaper

 
Another young band discovering the joys of pure noise. This will probably never change. This lot are from Louisiana.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Go Betweens - The Friends of Rachel Worth


27th August 1956 Glen Matlock

 
Born this day. Here's his best known co-write.

AR Kane - 69

While I get round to my review of AR Kane's 69. Here is The Guardian's.

AR Kane: How to Invent Shoegaze Without Really Trying

A week after joking at a party that he was in a band, Rudy Tambala found himself at the start of a journey that produced some of the 80s' most extraordinary music
      AR Kane

'People expected us to play reggae. They got a wall of feedback' … Rudy Tambala
The way Rudy Tambala tells it, his band AR Kane should never really have existed. Surely it was a dream? Two young dreads from east London, friends since they were eight, who both – independently – stumbled across the Cocteau Twins on Channel 4 music show The Tube in the mid-80s … and found their lives were suddenly changed.

"They had no drummer," laughs Tambala, now a "digital music strategist". "They used tapes and technology and Liz Fraser looked completely otherworldly with those big eyes. And the noise coming out of Robin's guitar! That was the 'Fuck! We could do that! We could express ourselves like that!' moment."

The music Tambala and his partner Alex Ayuli made in a burst of intense creativity between 1986 and 1994 – some of it now collected on a new compilation, The Complete Singles Collection – still sounds utterly free-floating, like they pulled it out of the ether. It would also change British pop in various ways, encouraging other groups to experiment with feedback and twist indie rock into new shapes, and forming a crucial if largely accidental part in UK house music's commercial breakthrough.



They'd grown up going to "really, really weird clubs", from new romantic hangouts to early electronica parties. Alex was part of a dub soundsystem, while Rudy came from the jazz funk scene, "a mix of gay and straight, black and white and Asian". The music they made as AR Kane – blending dub, feedback, psychedelic dream-pop, house and free jazz – can still be heard in artists such as Radiohead, Four Tet, Animal Collective and Burial.

"And My Bloody Valentine," Tambala says. "They were a jangly indie band until we put out Baby Milk Snatcher [in 1988]. Suddenly they slowed it all down and layered it with feedback. And they did it better than us, which was interesting."

A few days after seeing the Cocteaus on TV, Tambala met a woman at a party who knew Ayuli and asked how they knew each other. Jokingly, Rudy said they were in a band together. He explained how they'd played around with Citizen Kane and The Mark of Cain and arrived at AR Kane, thinking it was "really, really funny". So when the woman asked, "What's the band like?" Tambala riffed away, saying: "It's a bit Velvet Underground, a bit Cocteau Twins, a bit Miles Davis, a bit Joni Mitchell."
"I was stoned, probably," Tambala laughs. A week later, a producer who worked with the One Little Indian label called and told them to send in a demo because the label was interested in signing them. Except, of course, the band barely existed.

"We had no tracks," Tambala says. "No songs. Only a bit of equipment and a lot of ideas."
The pair immediately began to record using two cassette players, bouncing tracks between them. It couldn't have been any more lo-fi, but soon they had enough for a demo. One Little Indian's founder, Derek Birkett – a former member of the confrontational anarchist punk band Flux of Pink Indians – loved the tape and wanted to see them play live. In a fevered panic, the pair hired Tambala's sister Maggie to sing backing vocals, they put a mate on drums, another on bass ("he could only play one note") and invited Birkett and his "hardcore skinhead, punk, anarcho-type" gang to their Docklands rehearsal space.



"They were scary people," Rudy says. "We were kind of young and pretty and we made this absolutely disgusting noise. Straight after we played, Derek went: 'You're shit. Let's make a record.' We'd been a band for about two weeks."

When the time came to sign their one-off single deal AR Kane went to Birkett's house in south London where he had punks living in teepees in the garden. Birkett took them up to his bedroom ("a fucking shithole") and told them: "I've got two bands and one of you is going to be really successful." He then pulled out a picture of what appeared to be a six-year-old girl holding a frog. "And that was the first time I saw Björk," Tambala says.

A string of tumultuous, riotous gigs followed as AR Kane promoted their When You're Sad EP to crowds who simply didn't know what was going on. "They'd see these dreads get up on stage and expected us to play reggae," Tambala says. "When they got a wall of feedback, they figured there was a technical problem, and they would leave, but that was the set."

Eager to record more songs, the band sent a tape of a new track called Lollita to the Cocteau Twins' label, 4AD, which offered them a deal. "But they were all weird, too," Tambala says. "Vaughan Oliver [4AD's inhouse designer] went round and shaved everyone's heads every week, even the women. They were all wearing black with shaved heads and at first we thought: 'Wow, these guys are really esoteric and out there!' But we ended up thinking, 'What the fuck is going on?' They looked Zen, but they weren't."

While at 4AD, AR Kane would help create one of the great records of the early acid house era – and the first sample-based UK No 1. Pump Up the Volume was one half of a double A-side single released in 1987, which pitched AR Kane's squalling guitars over an array of samples and a thumping house beat. Everyone expected the single to do well, perhaps shift 100,000 copies. When it sold by the million it nearly finished 4AD, which simply couldn't deal with a record that big.
"It blew the label apart," Tambala says. "It destroyed a lot of illusions."

Creatively, AR Kane's high-water mark came with their 1988 debut LP, 69, a brilliantly sprawling and ambitious collection that was immersive and playful – and completely off the wall.
"69 is a gem," smiles Tambala. "We wanted to go as far out as we could, and in doing so we discovered the point where it stops being music."

Two more albums followed, but, as Tambala says, "the energy had gone" and the pair went their separate ways in 1994. "Ultimately, whether you're lovers or musicians or artists or a political party, if you haven't got that kind of connection where you completely get each other on a telepathic level, then you're in trouble," Tambala says. "For a while there Alex and me had that. We were really good. Just listen to those tracks, we piled so many ideas into every fucking song!"

Animals # 14 Sperm Whale

 
I get the feeling today may be AR Kane day, listening as I am to their extraordinary late Eighties album 69 as I rise and go to work. Here's a song that may or not be about a sperm whale.
 
 

Song of the Day # 221 Dr Savannah's Original Savannah Band

 
What Kid Creole did in the Seventies. Mellow. Thanks to an old school friend Paul for putting me on to this.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

26th August 1982 Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry

 
Leeds band's first single released this day. Very much a common sound for this point in time.

Animals # 13 Leopard

 
Not quite sure who Gardenia and the Mighty Slug are.
 
 

Song of the Day # 220 Dr Alimantado

 
Another thing I found on the jukebox during my session at my local yesterday. A doctor born for a purpose. Much beloved of early punks, Lydon and The Clash amongst them.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Things I Found on My Local's Jukebox # 29 Black Uhuru

'The youth of Eglington. Won't put down their Remington.'
 
Remarkable! Nobody noticed it when I played it. I liked it! Sly & Robbie and Black Uhuru's front three. All you need.
 
 

25th August 1950 - Elvis Costello

 
Elvis. Sixty today. He's entitled to the crown.

Animals # 12 Dog

 
Reputedly the last piece of music Drake ever recorded. The inspiration behind it was Winston Churchill's analogy of said dog as depression appearing out of nowhere. Still one of the most mysterious and misunderstood conditions.
 
 

Song of the Day # 219 The History of Apple Pie

 
Here I am endorsing a band called The History of Apple Pie of all things. Still, look at their hair! They also seem to be having an incredibly good time and prove able to write a very decent pop song in the My Bloody Valentine school of melody.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Album Reviews 1-30


This blog started as an album review blog and when I began I rushed through them full pelt for the first few months, with long, heavily researched and sometimes quite emotional reviews. After a few months this focus shifted. I was finding the reviews too lengthy to write and bit by bit they stopped appearing at all. I'd like to start writing them again more regularly, though I suspect they'll generally be a bit shorter and sweeter from now on. Here's the first thirty.

  1. R.E.M.- Murmur
  2. Associates - Sulk
  3. Velvet Underground - Loaded
  4. The Triffids - Born Sandy Devotional
  5. De La Soul - 3 Feet High & Rising
  6. Aztec Camera - High Land, Hard Rain
  7. The Strokes - Is This It?
  8. Siouxsie & the Banshees - The Scream
  9. Fairport Convention - Lief & Liege
  10. Dexys Midnight Runners - Searching For The Young Soul Rebels
  11. The Smiths- Meat Is Murder
  12. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
  13. Echo & the Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here
  14. Pixies - Surfer Rosa
  15. The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
  16. Misty In Roots - Live At The Counter Eurovision
  17. Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
  18. Simple Minds - New Gold Dream '81. '82, '83, '84
  19. Love - Forever Changes
  20. Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance (not completed)
  21. The Byrds - Younger Than Yesterday
  22. The Pale Saints - Comforts of Madness
  23. Low - I Could Live In Hope
  24. Nico - Chelsea Girls
  25. Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids
  26. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
  27. Spirit - The 7 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
  28.  Propaganda - A Secret Wish
  29. The Zombies - Oddessey & Oracle
  30. King Creosote - From Scotland With Love
I'll get round to finishing Pere Ubu eventually. I think The Triffids, Bunnymen, Modern Lovers, Dexys and Velvet Underground are the best. Pixies I was slightly unfair to as it brought back bad memories. It's a great record.

9 English bands
12 American bands
4 Scottish bands
1 German band
1 Australian band
1 solo American artist
1 solo Irish artist
1 solo German artist

6 from the 60s
7 from the 70s
13 from the 80s
2 from the 90s
1 from the 00s
1 from the 10s

I guess it's clear which decade I grew up in.

Album Review # 30 King Creosote - From Scotland With Love

 
I bought this album a couple of hours ago and I love it already, even though I haven't yet heard it all the way through and only knew one of the tracks well before its purchase, Bluebell, Cockleshell 1,2,3, which I chose as song of the day a few days back. The record just feels right. It has that sure tread of an album that knows it's good and will last. It reminds me of Dexys, of Van Morrison, of British Folk Music rooted in real experience, but there are also more modern, unexpected touches. None of it seems out of place. It has an understanding of music, tradition and time long gone, a due respect for that and a sense that all that buried experience is a rich and resonant as what we ourselves are going through. In some ways more because it's so important that it's remembered. Because that's what we are.
 
 
It's the work of Gordon Anderson chiefly, the driving force behind King Creosote. He's an incredibly prolific artist who has put out up to 45 records under that name over the last 20 years or so. This is his latest and is the soundtrack to a documentary archive film of the same name which came out this year, tied in with the Commonwealth Games, held in Scotland and of course the push for independence, the referendum will take place in a few weeks.
 
 
It starts with an elegy, Something to Believe In, which could easily be the last song. In fact it's returned to melodically in the final track so serves both roles. It sets the tone for a record that's immersed in time. 'Dreaming without sleeping. Morning, are you leaving? But our story has only begun. Now promise to be real.' Incredibly simple. But all the better for it.
 
The record is unmistakeably Scottish and proud of it. The accents are clear, unmediated and proud. It avoids clichés but is not afraid of the sentiment. In fact it's infused with it. It feels like a soundtrack that doesn't require its film.
 
 
I'm going to get to know it. It feels like a friend already. All the best records are friends. The accompaniment changes according to the song and its requirements. At various points you get the traditional guitar, bass, drums and keyboard but also viola, clarinet, violin, mandolin, cello and lots and lots of backing vocals by the time of Pauper's Dough a whole crowd. It's really quite varied in terms of mood. It's all incredibly assured. Anderson can pick up the mood to a Celtic jig, which almost veers off into Eastern European territory on Largs but it all sounds very modern to me and all of a piece too because the focus of it all is of shared communal Scottish experience.
 
I never quite got The Proclaimers, who were doing similar things in the Eighties. They overdid it rather for me whereas this is really quite understated in comparison but equally proud. The front cover of the record shows a sepia tinted picture of a Scottish beach from, I imagine, the late Fifties. The back sleeve shows an elderly flat capped man walking slowly down an urban street towards a bar in the twenties or thirties with a small kid wheeling a bike past him. The inner sleeve has a picture of another flat capped factory man struggling with all his might with a lathe in the docks. Then there are the lyrics.
 
 
It's incredibly resonant and incredibly beautiful. New highlights are pushing themselves forward as I play it into the evening and the shadows darken. For One Night Only stands out as a Neu driven
call to come out on the town on a Friday night. It's not quite like anything else here.
 
 
But Bluebell, Cockleshell 1,2,3 and One Floor Down are more traditional and equally wonderful. And the album is headed towards Pauper's Dough the album's heart which is just breathtaking. Defiant and resolute.
 
'Injustice on its knees underground
The clawed-out tonnage is to our detriment

 In these clarty surrounds
The combined earnings of our tenements
Won’t stretch to many rounds
And yet we’re striving to be counted

We’ll fight for what is right
And we’ll strike for what is rightfully ours
And I want better for my boy
To bury my father in dry, consecrated ground

You’ve got to rise above the gutter you are inside

Rise …

Rise above the gutter you are inside

You’ve got to rise above the gutter you are inside

Rise (above the gutter you are inside) '
 
 
Then A Prairie Tale, essentially Something to Believe In reworked, beautifully and it's gone. I think it's a masterpiece. It kind of makes me wish for Scottish independence because if that comes to fruition it surely couldn't have a better, more evocative and timely soundtrack. A record that looks back yet forward. My favourite new album of the year thus far! I couldn't recommend it more highly

24th August 1966 - The Youngbloods

 
Recorded this day in 1966. Parodied in Nirvana's Territorial Pissings. In some ways a very naïve statement but it shouldn't be forgotten that people actually believed at this point of time that the sentiments were achievable. In any case, a beautiful, lilting song.

Animals # 11 Ostrich

 
Lou Reed's pre-Velvet's adventure in recording. A novelty record, designed to capitalised on the early 60s dance craze. Really a bit of an unholy noise but a great calling card to presage what was to come.
 
 

Song of the Day # 218 Midlake

 
You can do a lot worse than listen to Midlake on a Sunday morning. From their wonderful Trials of Van Occupanther album of a few years back. Not sure about that album cover mind!

23rd August 1946 Jimy Sohns

 
Yikes! A day late.Garage Punk singer born. Punched Sid Vicious down a flight of stairs in the Seventies. We salute him.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Animals # 10 Seagull

 
Beautiful Bird! Important song at the start of a very good album. I was in Turin, looking longingly in record shops at this record sleeve in 1990. I have the album now. Still have something more to say about it because it's a pretty good LP. In the meantime, here's the song.
 
 

Song of the Day # 217 Kate Bush

 
A middle aged woman watching clothes go round in a washing machine on an overcast afternoon like any other. The clothes in the machine a metaphor for knotted impenetrable complexity of human family relationships. About the waves of time and memory. It's a much overused term but I'm going to do it myself. The woman's a genius. The 'get that dirty shirty clean' section only seals it. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

21st August 1961 Patsy Cline

 
Her best known song and one of her finest songs recorded this day.

Animals # 8 Caribou

 
A song about the drudgery of work. I approve! Particularly after the day I've had. Plus it's off Come on Pilgrim, Pixies first EP which can't go wrong.
 
 

Velvet Underground - Countess From Hong Kong

 
I have never heard this VU song which I assume is from the late, Doug Yule, phase. Named after a Chaplin directed film, (his last) from 1967 starring Sophia Loren. Pretty damn good for a throwaway song and beautiful mouth organ. There you go!
 

The June Brides & David Eggers

As a follow up to today's Song of the Day, I chanced upon an article by American novelist David Eggers for The Guardian from a few years back, (almost ten, such is the passing of time). It brought back some of the sad romance of being a teenager, (in his case in the suburbs of Chicago), while listening to British Indie Music in the 1980s. For better or worse, my youth too, though mine was spent in suburban London so I felt at least closer to the event than Eggers. A beautifully written elegy for those times and what happened afterwards and he nails very well the important ritual of record buying in the Eighties and the sadness involved in looking back, in this case actually getting to meet and chat with a true hero of his youth in the process. As a postscript, The June Brides are back together and will release a new album next month, so all in all, fairly timely.

A Marriage of Convenience

The June Brides may have caused few ripples in the 1980s indie scene but they meant the world to a teenage Dave Eggers. So what heinous conspiracy forced them off the musical map? 
The June Brides
'My theory is that we're hopelessly conflicted and confused about what we want from the musicians we love' ... the June Brides in 1985
 
Because life is, or seems at times, ridiculously long, it allows for many improbable things to happen. One such thing happened to me this past autumn, when I met and drank with the man who wrote the songs that filled my adolescent mind. As a teenager, I used to ride my bike 20 miles to buy this man's records, and now he works as a civil servant in London, and this past summer, we sat across from each other, at an outdoor picnic table in the city, drinking dark beer and talking about the songs he did write, and those he never did. He and his wife even invited me to visit their suburban home, to stay overnight if I needed to. Does all of this sound as strange as it does to me? He was also wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. Strange enough? Let me back up.

I can't remember how I heard of the June Brides. I was 14, and at the time paid very close attention to the music press, especially anything coming out of the UK - I was, in the mid-1980s, easily the most devout Anglophile in the Waspy suburbs of Chicago. Somewhere I had read a description of the music the June Brides made, and I knew that I needed this music. But no record store near me carried the June Brides or had ever heard of them, so I got on my bike.



When my friends and I wanted something like the June Brides, or, say, the Icicle Works' Love Is a Wonderful Colour picture disc, we had to ride our bicycles 22 miles, to Evanston, the closest college town, where stood Vintage Vinyl, then and now one of the great record stores of the world. The place wasn't big, but they had a great import section, and they kept their records in thick plastic sleeves, which appealed to us, because we were geek-serious about all this. So serious that we brought backpacks lined in sturdy cardboard, so we could ride the purchases safely back home, without dents or bendings to the records' corners. So serious that we kept our records wrapped doubly in plastic sleeves, and we cleaned the grooves, with the softest chamois, after each play.

Vintage Vinyl, then, is where I bought my first June Brides record, There Are Eight Million Stories. My friends and I all thought the June Brides would take over the world. We rode back to Vintage Vinyl three more times to collect their next three EPs - In the Rain, Sunday to Saturday and This Town, and unlike the other bands we knelt before, this band didn't ever disappoint us. They just made gorgeous and very personal, very literate and messy rock music, they left the rough edges rough, and the unassuming nature of the recordings made the songs so human and fragile they sounded as if they had been recorded, drunkenly, in a living room lined with books. And the horns! The viola! No one has ever used either any better, and no band meant more to me for a long while, and so forever I waited for a full-length album, and a tour, but none were forthcoming and, pretty soon, that was that.
Still, honest to God, for 15 years, every single time I went to a record store, I looked in the Js, flipping through for a new album or a compilation or some never-released lost tracks, anything. It was silly and masochistic. None of the above existed until recently, when I learned there had just been released a definitive all-inclusive CD called Every Conversation: The Story of the June Brides and Phil Wilson, and would soon be a compendium of cover versions of June Brides songs. If you ever had interest in the band, and I recommend them to anyone with ears, now is the time to step up.
This past summer, through an uninteresting chain of events, I found myself in contact with Phil Wilson, the singer-songwriter behind the June Brides, and we made plans to meet the next time I was in London. And then, impossibly, that day actually came. He was there, and he was dressed in a dark, immaculate suit, and he was accompanied by his wife, Pam, also a civil servant.



I had come with a head full of indignation about how we treat our rock'n'roll songwriters, and I advanced my theory to Phil and Pam that sunny summer day. The theory posits that we're hopelessly conflicted and confused about what we want from the musicians we love. We embrace their first albums and we say: Finally! Finally someone has said it all! And then the second album comes out and we say: Not as good as the first! And I hated the duet with that one other person! By the third album, we're highly sceptical - I do not have time for this! I have discovered a new band! And this band has described, with a cartographer's accuracy, the topography of my soul! We do not, on the whole, have a good deal of patience for songwriters who continue to write songs, and we have even less patience, oddly enough, for those who continue to do so with some success.

There are many opinions about how old rock'n'roll practitioners should be. Around the time I met Phil Wilson, there was a lot of hand-wringing in the British press about Live8, and much name-calling of Bob Geldof and Bono; I'm sure I saw the word "geezer" used a few thousand times. And of course every time the Rolling Stones decide to do anything, there are the always-indignant stories about whether or not we should allow them to do this. The columnists muse: Can we stop them? How? Laws to be passed? Mead to be poisoned?

But my concern on that day with Phil was that a more modestly successful artist like himself should be encouraged and enabled to keep writing. Phil's last recording was in 1987, after all, and I imagined that he had hundreds of songs, all of them perfect, all unrecorded. What if, I wondered, the Phil Wilsons, the Lloyd Coles, Dave Wakelings, Jazz Butchers of the world could join together and, with some kind of record label and touring apparatus, solidify a common audience and inoculate themselves against the fickleness of the record companies?

I got a head of steam going about this, and Phil watched me with amusement. When I'd finished demonstrating my utter lack of understanding of the music business and of him, he smiled.
He had, he said, long ago written and recorded all the songs he planned to. I was dumbfounded. Really? Yes, he said. After the last record, he simply felt he was finished. Were there occasional feelings that he had a few songs left in him? Sure, he said, and named a few very personal and harrowing memories that he thought might make interesting fodder for a song or two. But those few unwritten songs didn't seem to be eating him up. Did I want another beer? he asked. He was buying.
There is a very misunderstood and, anyway, completely untrue line from The Great Gatsby that says there are no second acts in American life. No less accurate thing has ever been uttered, of course, for America has always been a place where personal resurrection is not just possible, but ubiquitous, almost obligatory. And now that England and America have all but fused themselves as one, culturally and militarily, it makes sense that part of your inheritance, along with ill-planned wars and KFC, will be our knack for reinvention.



The second life of Phil Wilson is as a member of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs department, working on tax policy. He is busy and is content, but is always happy to hear about those who bought the records way back when, and about the many musicians - Belle and Sebastian and Manic Street Preachers among them - who have been influenced by his songs. I told him my bicycle story, and he liked that, too. After two beers, it was time to go. He and Pam were catching a train home. "Lovely place," he said. "We have a garden."

· Every Conversation: The Story of the June Brides is out now. Dave Eggers is an author and the editor of McSweeney's.

Song of the Day # 215 The June Brides

 
Part of the mid-Eighties British indie scene which eventually became ghetto-ised as C86. This yearning English small town cry was very 80s. Somehow a more romantic age. Though of course we didn't know it at the time.
 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Woodentops

 
A beautiful, concise review of one of the most refreshing albums of the mid-Eighties.

20th August 1942 Isaac Shaft


Animals # 7 Crocodiles

'I can see you've got the blues. In your alligator shoes. Me I'm all smiles. I've got my crocodiles...'
 
Bunnymen love animals so I was spoilt for choice. Opted for this.
 
 

Song of the Day # 214 Twin Peaks

 
Things don't change. There's always some young band coming up who like the sound of thrashy, melodic guitars, want to drink beer, smoke joints and horse around in the swimming pool. When I was their age that band was The Replacements, ten years before it had been Big Star now it's Twin Peaks from Chicago. I say good luck to them! They get the song pretty much rght.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

19th August 1974 - The Three Degrees

 
A great band. And despite the Prince Charles connotations, a great song. Number One in the UK in 1974.

Animals # 6 - Elephants

 
That most wonderful of beasts. Elephants not Warpaint! Though Warpaint certainly have their moments.
 
 

Song of the Day # 213 - The Pogues

 
Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, is really a quite extraordinary record. I still don't think it gets its due. I think its up there with the best stuff that The Smiths and R.E.M. and everybody was putting out at the same time. I could pick six to eight songs from it. I always liked this one, apparently one of its minor tracks but to my eyes one of the best examples of Shane Macgowan's mastery of the tradition he was writing of. A beautiful melody and masterful lyric. Nothing less than poetry. I've commented before that I don't think in general that there are enough songs in general about work because that's what we're mostly involved with most of our lives. This song is wonderful in itemising the pitiless tyranny of this king of physical labour but also its nobility and enduring legacy. The embankments, bridges, canals and railways are all still very much here. 
 
'The canals and the bridges, the embankments and cuts,
They blasted and dug with their sweat and their guts
They never drank water but whiskey by pints
And the shanty towns rang with their songs and their fights.

Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong
The morning is here and there's work to be done.
Take your pick and your shovel and the bold dynamite
For to shift a few tons of this earthly delight
Yes to shift a few tons of this earthly delight.

They died in their hundreds with no sign to mark where
Save the brass in the pocket of the entrepreneur.
By landslide and rockblast they got buried so deep
That in death if not life they'll have peace while they sleep.

Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong
The morning is here and there's work to be done.
Take your pick and your shovel and the bold dynamite
For to shift a few tons of this earthly delight
Yes to shift a few tons of this earthly delight.

Their mark on this land is still seen and still laid
The way for a commerce where vast fortunes were made
The supply of an empire where the sun never set
Which is now deep in darkness, but the railway's there yet.

Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong
The morning is here and there's work to be done.
Take your pick and your shovel and the bold dynamite
For to shift a few tons of this earthly delight
Yes to shift a few tons of this earthly delight.'
 
 
 
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Songs About People # 4 Rasputin - Boney M

 
What do you mean you don't like it? Had to make my 50 up somehow! I actually do. And any excuse to print a photo of that man.
 
 

Songs About People 1-50

A chart that will no doubt slow with the passing of time, but still has some legs. See if you can guess the artists who recorded songs with these names in the song titles. I've realised during the totting up of this that I'm short of a # 4 which I'll make up shortly.

  1. Howard Marks
  2. Graham Greene
  3. Joseph McCarthy
  4. -
  5. Billie Holliday
  6. Michael Caine
  7. Hernan Cortes
  8. Bela Lugosi
  9. Wolfman Jack
  10. Andy Warhol
  11. Jack Kerouac
  12. Leila Khaled
  13. Tom Courtnay
  14. Johnny Thunders
  15. Vincent Van Gogh
  16. Robert Mitchum
  17. John Cassavetes
  18. Levis Stubbs
  19. Frans Hals
  20. Seymour Stein
  21. Shadrach, Meshach & Abednigo
  22. Frankie Lymon
  23. Jim Morrison
  24. Vasco De Gama
  25. Faron Young
  26. Jackie Wilson
  27. Max Ernst
  28. Mose Allison
  29. Madonna & Sean Penn
  30. Kevin Carter
  31. Moe Tucker
  32. Neal Cassady
  33. John Coltrane & Billie Holliday
  34. Bob Dylan
  35. Genghis Khan
  36. Gene Clark
  37. Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow
  38. Morrissey
  39. Damo Suzuki
  40. Alex Chilton
  41. Lewis & Clark
  42. Jacques Derrida
  43. Nelson Mandela
  44. Huey Newton
  45. Jesse James
  46. Roy Harper
  47. Adolf Hitler
  48. Gene Vincent
  49. The Shah of Iran
  50. John Cage

18th August 1992 Courtney Love & Kurt Cobain

 
They became parents this day today.

Jesus & Mary Chain


Animals # 5 - Sheep

 
From one of the great lost talents. And he was right. Truly a black sheep boy.
 
 
 
 

Song of the Day #212 SBTRKT

 
On the radio fairly constantly. I think it has some Vampire Weekend connection.