Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Death # 6 P J Harvey

Death on a slightly larger scale here. From Harvey's genius 2011 record Let England Shake.

June 30th 1979 Anita Ward

Anita Ward is probably known for one thing and it's Ring my Bell. There could be worse fates as it's a pretty good record. It went to Number One this week in 1979 in the States. It also went to Number 1 in the UK.

B Sides # 13 Yazoo

It does you know. Fortunately, it's summer right now. B-side to Don't Go back in...1982 (off the top of my head).

Song of the Day # 527 Girlpool

Look away now if the idea of adults behaving like they're children doesn't float your boat. Great Frere Jacques feature at the end of this first song. Girlpool's schtick is seeing the world from the perspective of a child to a musical backdrop of minimal indie arrangements. Highly alluring for followers of Kimya Dawson and Jonathan Richman, like the sound of nails scraping down a blackboard for those allergic to such stuff. I belong in the former category so here are two songs from their recently released album.

Monday, June 29, 2015

29th June 1957 Robert Forster

Happy Birthday to one of the men behind this blog's name. Appropriately, I must have written more about them than anyone else on here. Here's a song of his from their final studio album. Its end section sounds like no other Go Betweens song that I know.

B Sides # 12 Dean Martin

B-side to 1965's Houston. Uncannily similar at points to Walking In A Winter Wonderland.For someone who hated Rock and Roll, Martin is often very Rock and Roll.

Song of the Day # 526 Lynsey De Paul

Glastonbury is over and I'm back to work so here's something totally unrelated to either. Some of these early seventies pop hits may sound like trash but I actually think they're just good records.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Patti Smith and the Dalai Lama at Glastonbury

Things I've Found on My Local's Jukebox # 73 The Rolling Stones

Because it's a very funny record. In lots of ways. Sadly The Stones got a lot less funny as they headed towards the seventies. And then, suddenly, they weren't funny at all excluding a rare few tracks. Shame!

Talking Heads

A late addition to my dream list of bands at Glastonbury posted yesterday. Perhaps they'd have to be shunted off to one of the other stages It's funny that when people talk about band reunions that Talking Heads are rarely mentioned. Once In A Lifetime. Pretty much the best pop song I can think of in the last thirty five years to describe the way that we in the west go about life and everything else. Oh, and it has a good tune!

Songs Heard on The Radio # 62 Nina Simone

Never heard this before. Nina's response to The Beatles' song of the same name.

Instrumentals # 35 Manfred Mann

And while we're here. Seems to be irrefutably The Who's weekend on the blog. Well they are headlining the last night of Glastonbury tonight. This works for me but you really don't want to listen to their version of Satisfaction because I've just done it for you and it should be left where it is.

Mose Allison

Apparently one of the sources of inspiration for My Generation. The Who also covered it themselves live towards the end of the sixties and it's on Live in Leeds. Here they do it at The Isle of Wight Festival. Personally, I'd plump for Mose's version but it's worth a watch. Take your pick! 


Death # 5 The Shangri-Las

The Shangri-Las did plenty of death of course. This one's about a mother's love and is real tearjerker so grab your hankie!

B Sides # 11 The Monkees

And now for something completely different. B-side to Last Train To Clarksville. Take a giant step outside your mind!

Song of the Day # 525 - Suede

So, to the second night of Glastonbury 2015. I didn't do Kanye West. These things are now on the BBC  i-Player and you can catch up with it retrospectively rather than live which is always the best way. I suspect it won't be my trip. Instead I watched an hour of Suede doing their thing as the headliners on the John Peel Stage with beer, the original Far From the Madding Crowd on the box with the sound turned down and the traffic of Newcastle night life parading past my window on the pavements below.

I thought they were blindingly good last night. Brett Anderson in particular as he's always been their main attraction particularly with Bernard Butler, his main foil no longer beside him, although they had a second guitarist who seemed like a bit of a look alike and hid for most of the set behind a fringe making me wonder for a while whether it actually might be him. Probably not. There was no doubt at all that it was Anderson though and he gave the performance his all, stretching his sinews to breaking point, waggling his bottom as if it was still twenty and exhorting the crowd from the top of the speaker stands to deny the passing years had actually passed and we were all still in 1993 living the decadent, bohemian dream in some run down, crummy, London dive. 

He had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Pleasingly, they pretty much all seemed really young, far too young to be veterans of the mean streets of Camden in the early nineties. He had whole waves of beautiful people singing 'let's chase the dragon,' back at him, mostly people who wouldn't dream of actually doing so in real life. Such is the beauty of pop music. It gives ourselves the opportunity to dream ourselves into the sea of possibility without having to actually ever get wet and end up choking up a lung full of salt water.

To go back to where it started, Suede seemed like a very good thing in 1993. The British competition was very, very poor at the time which shouldn't be forgotten, but they were a flash of drama and cheap bedsit glamour. In the gutter but looking at the stars with the right set of poses and pouts and with a great set of songs at their service, (seek out the first album as conclusive evidence of this in addition to the songs posted here) . The British music press almost wished them into existence and they can't help but be seen in retrospect, (they actually were at the time), as the John the Baptists for the whole Brit Pop circus which followed shortly behind, snapping on their heels and eventually overtaking them over the next couple of years.

Suede pilfered shamelessly from an almost exclusively English heritage and a very slim set of influences. You got the impression that Anderson had very few records in his collection and even less books. Most obviously the early Bowie albums, Ziggy, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs, The Smiths and precious little else while I'd also throw in  Performance as their defining film, I think Anderson ended up in residence in or near Powis Square where all that decadence took place, living out his own dark romantic dream.

I'd also add to all this the Oliver! soundtrack as the source for their quite peculiar, twisted mockney-isms which always seemed much more of the product of a youth spent in suburbia dreaming of the metropolis than something that someone who had actually been brought up in London itself would ever come out with. Significantly, none of the major bands of that era who were based in London from that period were actually from there in contrast to The Clash and The Pistols or The Kinks,The Who and The Small Faces from previous generational movements. It led to a quite strange vision of existence in the capital that drew on music hall and old pub singalongs as much as rock and roll but it still seemed very exciting at the time.

In the cold light of day I'm perhaps throwing cold water on my enthusiasm for Suede last night. But they were great. As was this record, their first single and its twelve inch b-sides which came out in 1992. I can still remember marveling over its record sleeve with my sister over the Christmas of that year.

So Suede are still standing, and Brett Anderson still living the dream though I imagine he keeps rather better care of himself nowadays. Thanks to them for taking me back and rattling the rafters yesterday night. Now for some breakfast. Kanye can wait!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My Glastonbury

Midway through the Saturday afternoon on Glastonbury 2015 and I can't help feeling that something is missing. So here's my fantasy set of artists for a Saturday evening. One hour each, from the period each artist was at its height. Quite strict running order, the later artists perhaps get an encore so perhaps things would over run slightly.Ten minutes for the roadies to clear the stage and get the next set of artists on. 5pm til 2.30 am!

1. The Cramps (1981) - 5pm- 6.00

Poison Ivy, Lux Interior. Kid Congo, if he was in the band at that point. They'd do Human Fly, The Way I Walk, Domino and whatever else they fancied. Lux would do the set topless and spend most of the set with the microphone inserted down his leather trousers and get led offstage in a less than dignified James Brown tribute. Some of the crowd would be slightly bewildered by what they'd seen but there'd be plenty of orderlies around to lead them off to the hospitality tent to be revived.

2. R.E.M. (1985) 6.10-7.10

Trust me. They were just great round about this point in time. Michael Stipe with his hair bleached blond and 'dog' written on his forehead in black crayon. Peter Buck, a more restrained Townshend. Halfway between The Who and The Byrds. They'd play a selection from Fables and Reckoning. Throw in Radio Free Europe, Pilgrimage, Gardening At Night and a cover or two. There'd make some conversions in an initially sceptical crowd.

3. The Patti Smith Group (1976)- 7.20 -8.20

Proper Hippie / Punks. Choice cuts from Horses and Radio Ethiopia with some beat poetry thrown in, a bit of shamanism and plenty of rebel rousing about realising your purpose on the planet.

4. Prince & The Revolution (1985) - 8.30-9-30

A mid-evening set, quite capable of stealing the whole show. Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Kiss, Dirty Mind, Let's Go Crazy, Raspberry Beret and whatever else they wanted to play. Plenty of ludicrous guitar trickery. The crowd at the end of the set not sure to believe what they'd just seen.

5. Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970) - 9.40-10.40

Given a year to bounce back from their Woodstock disappointment but now having to up their game to follow Prince's band. They'd do plenty from Cosmo's Factory to complement their big hits from the earlier couple of years. The band would play a blinder, a tightly oiled unit, would leave the stage with their personal friendships cemented for life and a small unnecessary personal tragedy would be averted. 

6. The Clash (1979) 10.50-11.50

It would start raining and they'd come on and play London Calling just like in the video. Plenty more of what you'd expect from the preceding albums and Strummer would connect with the audience to prevent any lull in proceedings as the sun comes out again.

7. Sly & The Family Stone (1969) 12.00-1.00

Prince and Sly would swap tips backstage. The band would slay the crowd with positivity and invention and hit after hit. Quite clearly one of the best bands ever to walk the boards.

8. The Who (1969) 1.10- 2.30

A small concession to Glastonbury in 2015. The band as they originally were and were meant to be. Keith Moon flailing, Daltrey in full costume and Townshend windmilling. The Velvet Underground & Nico, Dexys, Public Enemy, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, The Fela Kuti Band, an early incarnation of Nirvana and The Smiths on the other stages to divert those not pulled in by the main draw. All in all, a night not to be forgotten. 

Oh well, back to reality! Perhaps Kanye West will erase all this from my memory banks.

Sly Stone

Death # 4 Twinkle

While we're with female singers from the sixties who may have been in Morrissey's singles collection Here's some class early sixties teen-drama. The swirling background organ in particular make the record. The script is the same as The Leader of The Gang. You know the story. Did this ever happen to anybody? Death as the immediate, tragic consequences of dumping someone. If you believed the charts from those days you'd imagine it was one of the major killers of melodramatic teenagers. And let's face it, most of us are melodramatic at that phase in our lives. Twinkle's records still sound great. Sadly she, alias Lynn Annette Ripley, passed away recently.This features Jimmy Page, though he doesn't seem to have an enormous amount to do, and was banned by BBC radio. Different times.

B Sides # 10 Lulu

B-side to 1967's To Sir With Love. 

Instrumentals # 34 The Who

And talking of The Who, here's a barnstorming instrumental from the My Generation album named in honour of group bassist John Entwhistle.

Song of the Day # 524 Robb Storme & The Whispers

Spent yesterday away from my local watching the first evening of Glastonbury 2015. Nowadays, the whole thing is an enormous communal, oh yes and corporate, (there's no getting away from it), global spectacle. Much of it passed me by. The headliners mean nothing to me. Hey I'm an almost fifty year old man. I imagine no-one would be able to explain the appeal of Florence & The Machine. After trying and failing to find any entry point for twenty minutes in the emotional bluster of their performance I turned the volume off and listened to Born Sandy Devotional and Fables of the Reconstruction instead which places me well and truly in a particular time and space. Both records came out in 1985. Only thirty years away from the here and now!

I don't imagine tonight's headliner Kanye West will impact on me any more favourably, but hey I'll give it a go. Then there's The Who tomorrow night. Naturally, I've got a lot more time for them. I put Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere and Pinball Wizard on last night as the sun went down and they sounded great. But there are two of them left now and it does matter. Still they're on my mind at the moment as they're featuring on the television a fair bit in expectation of their set and there's an enormous feature on them in this month's Mojo which arrived yesterday. So here's where they stole the bass line for Substitute.Discovered that from Mojo of course.It sounds like it could fill up a Northern Soul dancefloor.The rest of the song's not shabby either.

Friday, June 26, 2015

NME Before Hollywood Review

Thanks to The Original Article page on Facebook for printing this. Please support it. It's a great page. The review does the fine album justice.

Instrumentals # 33 Primal Scream

It's coming to the end of the first night of Glastonbury. It's been a particularly violent day in terms of world news. What on earth is going on? Hoping to find a bit of joy and positivity this seems a good way to end the evening as any though I don't think the band are playing this year. Essentially an instrumental, although Bobby does pop up just before the end. As the man himself would say. 'Woo!!!'

The Stooges, The Who & The Cavern

Dave Alexander and Ron Asheton later of The Stooges see The Who in 1965.

'Dave tells me, "Hey I'm going to England, you wanna go?' So I sold my motorcycle. I had a Honda 305 that I got instead of geting a car, when I got my driver's license. So we sold the bike and flew to England.

We went to see The Who at The Cavern. It was wall to fucking wall of people. We muscled through to about ten feet from the stage, and Townshend started smashing his twelve-string Rickenbacker.
It was my first experience of total pandemonium. It was like a dog pile of people, just trying to grab pieces of Townshend's guitar, and people were scrambling to dive up onstage and he'd swing his guitar at their heads. The audience weren't cheering;  it was more like animal noises, howling. The whole room turned really primitive - like a pack of starving animals that hadn't eaten in a week and somebody throws out a piece of meat. I was afraid. For me it wasn't fun, but it was mesmirizing. It was like, "The plane's burning, the ship's sinking, so let's crush each other." Never had I seen people driven so nuts - that music could drive people to such dangerous extremes. That's when I realized. This is definitely what I wanna do.'

Scott Asheton, Please Kill Me

Songs About People # 100 Evelyn Waugh

Made it! One of my babies hits three figures. And to mark the occasion, a song the person it is dedicated to would not surely have been able to stand perhaps more than would have been the case in any other song in this series. I know absolutely nothing about Applicants. This came out on an album called Escape From Kraken Castle which was released five years ago. They also had a song on the same record called Robert Mugabe but having listened to that, you're getting this instead.

The Beatles

Pee Wee Herman's Sly & the Family Stone

And to follow up the Sly b-side post.

Patrck Macnee

Patrick Macnee (1922-2015)

Perhaps not the most stately tribute but it is a fine record.Oh yes it is!

B Sides # 9 Sly & The Family Stone

Sly & The Family Stone had songs to burn. To such an extent that I'm not really sure whether they had b-sides or their singles releases were always intended as double a-sides. Still, this was on the flipside of 1969's Stand. 

'When I heard Sly I was spooked. I was supposed to be some big jazz musician, but I couldn't play funk like that. The rhythms, the interplay between the backbeat and the bass, the micro tensions, the syncopations - it was like nothing I'd heard. It took me three or four years to get on top of what Sly was playing.'

Herbie Hancock

Song of the Day # 523 The Cambodian Space Project

Sometimes you hear a new record, (well this particular track goes back a couple of years), and think, this sounds like a punk record to me. Echoes of Plastic Bertrand and X Ray Spex. Particularly if in addition to that it's sung in Khmer. This lot are playing this lunchtime at Glastonbury.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Songs Heard on the Radio # 61 The Human League

From a period at the end of the seventies when the British music scene was awash with inventive, clever and catchy singles many of which got nowhere near the charts themselves. Like this!

Instrumentals # 32 Brotherhood of Breath

Formed around Chris McGregor and a group of South African expats in London in the early seventies. Definite South African feel to this.

The Last Day's Of Bleecker Bob's

A short film about one of the legendary record shops which closed in 2012, just before the uptown in interest in vinyl which might have saved it. Be warned it's a rather sad watch. A salutary tale of what could happen if you choose to work your whole life in a record shop.

B Sides # 8 George Harrison

A seven minute b-side to 1970's Number One single My Sweet Lord.

Songs About People # 99 Henry VIII

As English as you can get. The Smiths, Madness and The Libertines came from this. Harry Champion recorded it in 1911. Herman's Hermits took the same song into the charts fifty years later but you're not getting that!

Song of the Day # 522 Manic Street Preachers

This came out at a point in time when Brit Pop was on its last legs. The Manic Street Preachers were coming back from their own personal tragedy and I was on the ropes myself following a particularly bad personal break up. Hearing this takes me back to that particular moment in time. I survived of course as you always do. So did they, going on to sell more records than they ever had before.The 'libraries gave us power. Then work came and make us free,' opening gambit resonates as a pair of lines, angry, somewhat resigned, but also defiant as a comment about the lives that people had made for themselves as a result of and also despite the machinations of British political decisions. It reached Number 2 in the UK but should have been Number 1.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Songs Heard on the Radio # 60 Ezra Furman

Still dipping my feet in the water with Ezra Furman, about whom there seems to be such an unholy buzz at the minute. Still, this sounds alright.

Vinyl Purchases # 21 Manfred Mann

Wednesday 24th June. £5.00. RPM Records, Newcastle

I didn't wake up this morning thinking I'd end the day with a Manfred Mann record. Well you don't, do you? The whole of my mouth numb from a dentist's filling I wandered down the hill to RPM at midday, one of four record shops in Newcastle and possibly the best. This was playing on one of the great antique players at the back of the shop. Sounded great, I exchanged a few words with the owner and now I have it.

Manfred Mann to me generally epitomise the slightly drippy, side of the beat band sixties scene but I can see I've slightly misjudged them. They're a tight band, quite thoughtful at points here and I imagine would have played a good set in a dark, sweaty night club. 

They play a number of covers here, Since I Don't Have YouThe Way You Do The Things You Do, Stormy Monday,You Don't Know Me some great instrumentals and some originals, spread across the band, particularly L.S.D. (pounds, shillings and pence, not hallucinogenics), from guitarist Tom McGuiness, the best thing on here, along with You're For Me where they really let rip. L.S.D. was the track playing as I came in and it persuaded me to buy the record. Worth having a copy with McGuiness's extensive sleeve notes explaining the making of the record.

It's a neat record. Perhaps that's a dated description but it seems to fit here. It's also tasteful. There's some poppy stuff, but no Doo Wah Diddy, or Pink Flamingo to spoil the mood. I like it! I like it! Oh no, not one of theirs.

Mark E. Smith on Industrial Estate

'Songs like 'Industrial State' -that was the second or third song that I wrote the music for, but the lyrics came first it's a sort of poem: a hard poem. You can tell it was written at work. It's about working on the docks, on a container base. o of course I presented it to the group and they wanted to know what it's all about. They would prefer me to write about velvet shiny leather, the moon and all that kind of thing, like Television or The Velvets. As a compromise I wrote the chorus - 'Yeah, yeah industrial estate' - to make it a bit more American rocky. And I wrote this sub-Stooges music to go with it, Stooges without the third chord. At the time people thought it was terrible, because it wasn't the way it should be, it wasn't 'in tune'. But I never wanted The Fall to be like one of those groups I didn't care.

That's what grabbed me about The Stooges. You can't imagine how difficult it was to get hold of Stooge records in those days. I'd harass every record shop in town when I was nineteen to get The Stooges. I'd keep going in every week, take a day off work, post for i - anything. I used to get all this shit from Virgin Records: 'No we haven't got any Stooges LPs but why don't you try this,Tubular Bells, it's on special offer. But it was worth it when I got it. There was nothing like The Stooges in the 70s. They weren't hippy-drippy. I'm not a guitarist but I can play their songs - I like that. That's what's great about them. And the fact that they wrote the first album in a night is fantastic. They only knew about three chords and had to get it down. Not enough bands work like that nowadays. They're too precious. It's the Stone Roses syndrome: five years to record an album. Just get in there and fucking do it. That's your job'

From Renegade: The Lives & Tales of Mark E. Smith . Go and get it! Just got mine from an HMV shop for £3.99.

Song of the Day # 521 Donna Summer

This weekend, for my Mother's eightieth birthday celebrations I put this on the Spotify Playlist that acted as a backdrop to proceedings. Not for the song itself as a memory but for 1965, the year I was born in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia,  when the country declared UDI from the British Emipre. Not a good event in itself, but worth remembering. The song meanwhile is just great. A 1982 cover of the Jon & Vangelis song and a wonderful version worth posting just for itself.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Songs Heard on the Radio # 59 The Go Betweens

Just heard the tail end of this as I came in with my shopping. Kid Jensen session from 1983. This lot were among the best two or three bands in the world at that point. So it goes on here. Bachelor Kisses was the song I heard the tail end of but you get the whole session.

Things I've Found on My Local's Jukebox # 72 Public Enemy

Back in Newcastle after a week away and spent a couple of hours at Rosie's while it was quiet this afternoon putting on songs old and new. This was the best thing I heard. Only knew it before through the Tricky cover version but it's clear that the original wipes it out from this point on. At least to my mind.

B Sides # 7 The La's

'The rain is falling. The wind is talking. The road is calling. And we're on our way.'

A very good friend of mine, who sadly I fell out with about a year ago, used to bring his singles collection round to my flat here in Newcastle sometimes and we'd sit and listen to music together, playing three choices of his then three of mine while chugging beer. Brian was all late seventies and early eighties punk and new wave. He'd often say 'oh I'll play the b-side', then regret it halfway through. Living proof that the b-side is not always better.

Here's a case in point. I can't totally endorse everything I post on here. This for instance! It's a five out of ten at best. Sometimes songs are b-sides with good reason. This is full of the kind of quasi-mystical, spliff inspired, dole sponsored gobbledygook that got several British Northern guitar bands through entire careers in the mid to late nineties. The La's had more talent than most but not as much as some claimed for them as this song ably demonstrates. B-side to Timeless Melody. Timeless Melody rips it apart. I've posted it above too, to demonstrate this point. The opening of Over meanwhile is oddly reminiscent of something from Camberwick Wick, a children's programme for anyone brought up in the UK in the sixties and seventies.

I'll post this for Brian, wherever he is. You can come back round and play your dodgy b-sides whenever you like. I'll get the beers in.

Record Sleeves # 36 Rage Against The Machine

'Thích Quảng Đức[1] (1897 – 11 June 1963, born Lâm Văn Túc), was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963.[2] Quang Duc was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government led by Ngô Đình Diệm. Photographs of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm government. John F. Kennedy said in reference to a photograph of Duc on fire, "No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one."[3] Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of the monk's death.'

From Wikipedia of course. As is this:

'America touts itself as the land of the free, but the number one freedom that you and I have is the freedom to enter into a subservient role in the workplace. Once you exercise this freedom you've lost all control over what you do, what is produced, and how it is produced. And in the end, the product doesn't belong to you. The only way you can avoid bosses and jobs is if you don't care about making a living. Which leads to the second freedom: the freedom to starve.'  
Tom Morello, Rage Against The Machine

Song of the Day # 520 Rage Against The Machine

Bullet In The Head. How I love you! The first Rage Against The Machine song I ever heard, round about the time of their first album, with a great studio clip of them doing it live for MTV which I watched on a sofa in Dortmund next to a dope fiend who was probably rolling a spliff at the time. Still their best song and the only one you'll ever need, although they did plenty of variants on it over the years. They only have one really don't they? But then again why would they need another?

The British weekly music paper, Melody Maker, now defunct, got a lot of mileage in the early nineties making fun of Rage Against The Machine most obviously for their name. It sums up all the irony of this stuff. Loud, angry music about conformity and mind control to allow like minded souls to leap around and lose themselves in an act of mind control and conformity before going back to their humdrum nine to fives to be controlled and to conform. Wonderful!

As I said Bullet In Your Head is their best. Better even than Killing In The Name Of, where for me the 'fuck you, I won't do what you tell me,' line tips the whole thing over the top into the arena of the teenage tantrum. Oh, and no you can't have the car.

Bullet In The Head meanwhile is lean and quite beautiful and it points outwards, not in. It has all the sleek energy, grace and murderous power of a lion in its prime, tracking, chasing and taking down a gazelle. Builds for five minutes and then detonates. What more could you want from a rock song! Tom Morello's guitar effects take it somewhere none of their competitors could ever go. And as for Zak De La Rocha. 'You've got a bullet in your fucking head!' No offence meant out there!

I bought the first album yesterday from a record stall owner in an indoor market in Canterbury who has a neat line in patter and who I always enjoy talking to and always gets me to buy the record. He knows what he's doing. Really I had to have the vinyl for the cover alone, that great, classic image of a Vietnamese monk setting himself aflame. I bought it the day after buying the Left Banke album. It makes a great companion piece. The lead singers may not have shared a desk if they'd have gone to school together. Oh and the vinyl of the Rage Against The Machine record is red. What more could you want! Have a nice day!


'This time the bullet cold rocked ya
A yellow ribbon instead of a swastika
Nothin' proper about ya propaganda
Fools follow rules when the set commands ya
Said it was blue
When ya blood was read
That's how ya got a bullet blasted through ya head

Blasted through ya head
Blasted through ya head

I give a shout out to the living dead
Who stood and watched as the feds cold centralized
So serene on the screen
You were mesmerised
Cellular phones soundin' a death tone
Corporations cold
Turn ya to stone before ya realise
They load the clip in omnicolour
Said they pack the 9, they fire it at prime time
Sleeping gas, every home was like Alcatraz
And mutha fuckas lost their minds

Just victims of the in-house drive-by
They say jump, you say how high
Just victims of the in-house drive-by
They say jump, you say how high

Run it!

Just victims of the in-house drive-by
They say jump, you say how high
Just victims of the in-house drive-by
They say jump, you say how high

Checka, checka, check it out
They load the clip in omnicolour
Said they pack the 9, they fire it at prime time
Sleeping gas, every home was like Alcatraz
And mutha fuckas lost their minds

No escape from the mass mind rape
Play it again jack and then rewind the tape
And then play it again and again and again
Until ya mind is locked in
Believin' all the lies that they're tellin' ya
Buyin' all the products that they're sellin' ya
They say jump and ya say how high
Ya brain-dead
Ya gotta fuckin' bullet in ya head

Just victims of the in-house drive-by
They say jump, you say how high
Just victims of the in-house drive-by
They say jump, you say how high

Uggh! Yeah! Yea!

Ya standin' in line
Believin' the lies
Ya bowin' down to the flag
Ya gotta bullet in ya head

Ya standin' in line
Believin' the lies
Ya bowin' down to the flag
Ya gotta bullet in ya head

A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head
A bullet in ya head!
A bullet in ya head!
A bullet in ya head!
A bullet in ya head!
A bullet in ya head!
A bullet in ya head!
A bullet in ya head!
Ya gotta bullet in ya fuckin' head!


Yeah! '

Monday, June 22, 2015

Renee Fladen-Kamm

The muse behind not one, but three of the songs on The Left Banke album written about in a post below. She became a vocal teacher and singer in the Bay Area:

'Violinist Harry Lookofsky owned a small storefront recording studio in New York City that he called World United Studios. In 1965, he gave a set of keys to his 16-year-old son, Mike Brown [real name: Mike Lookofsky], who helped out by cleaning up and occasionally sitting in as a session pianist. Mike began bringing in his teenage friends who tinkered with drums, guitars, amplifiers, the Steinway piano, and anything else they might find. Except for Mike, who had a background in classical piano, none of them were top musicians. But they could sing, especially one guy named Steve Martin.

By 1966 they started to call themselves the Left Banke. In addition to Mike and Steve, they included Rick Brand on lead guitar, Tom Finn on bass, and drummer George Cameron. Finn brought his girlfriend to the studio one day when the group had assembled for a practice session. She was a 5' 6" teenager with platinum blond hair. Mike Brown was infatuated with her the instant he saw her. Her name was Renee Fladen.

The group had begun recording songs, and Harry was particularly impressed with Steve Martin's voice. Mike wrote a song about Renee. Although there was never anything between the two, Mike was fascinated by her and pictured himself standing at the corner of Hampton and Falmouth Avenues in Brooklyn with Renee, beneath the "One Way" sign. In his fantasy, he was telling her to walk away.

As for Renee, she moved to Boston with her family shortly after the Left Banke recorded Walk Away Renee, and no one in the group ever saw her again.'

'And when I see the sign that points one way

The lot we used to pass by every day

Just walk away, Renée
You won't see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You're not to blame

From deep inside the tears
I'm forced to cry
From deep inside the pain
That I chose to hide

Just walk away, Renée
You won't see me follow you back home
Now as the rain burns down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries

Just walk away, Renée
You won't see me follow you back home
Now as the rain burns down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries

Your name and mine inside
A heart on a wall
Still finds a way to haunt me
Though they're so small

Just walk away, Renée
You won't see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You're not to blame.' 

B Sides # 6 The Rolling Stones

Dark with sexual and class menace. Such a motif at the time if you watch films like The Servant and If. Understandable, watching this, how frightening they must have been to parents. B-side to The Last Time.

Song of the Day # 519 The Tokens

As I commented in the Left Banke post below, I was part of the celebrations for my mum's eightieth birthday party this weekend. My small part in these celebrations, apart from just being here, was to provide a Spotify soundtrack with songs and memories for proceedings. As my parents spent the fifteen years following their marriage in Africa, (South Africa and Zimbabwe), a lot of the things I chose centred on our time there. This was pointed out as an obvious omission. Great song too. American Number One in 1961. Made particularly wonderful to my ears by the almost ludicrous, soaring female backing falsetto. And for those of my generation, no I wasn't tempted to post the eighties remake by Tight Fit which topped the British Singles Chart in 1982. It's crap! Find it yourself if you're so inclined.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Songs About People # 98 Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak, as one of the more appealing throwback artists of the eighties and nineties somehow deserves a record named after him. And here it is, a suitably plaintive and windswept tribute from a true old school singer of New Country.

Vinyl Purchases # 20 The Left Banke

Immersed as I am in this Twee book, I'll use the opportunity to re-post this review from last June of one of the ultimate Twee albums, The Left Banke's first album, a major source of Stuart Murdoch and Belle & Sebastian's founding inspiration.

'This is a vinyl purchaser's story. I'm down south for a family get together this week as my mother has had a celebration for her eightieth birthday. The party for this took place yesterday in Canterbury. A good time was had by all though I don't imagine that you're taking notes. All in all a fairly special experience in the best sense of the word the kind that triggers memory and emotional duct blood-flow in all kinds of ways you never quite expect. Today, a good part of the clan gathered again for lunch and a walk around Whitstable, fifteen minutes drive down the road on the coast where my brother's family who live in Miami have a holiday house.

After lunch, we wandered down the beach. A beautiful, sunlit day. Of course, being the person that I am, which this blog attests to, half my mind was wondering if we were likely to chance upon a record shop as we ambled across pebbles and took ice creams. On the way back we made our way past Whitstable's  impressive selection of second hand and gift shops. The place has gentrified in a good way over the past fifteen years as it's been soaked into the overflow of London and the south east's ever accumulating wealth and reach.

A stone's throw away from home I saw what I'd been looking for. A collector's shop with the right kind of  records on display in the window. Those who might read this, who care about this kind of thing, will know what I mean. Having eventually found the entrance to the place, in a side door, my oldest American nephew Ben, (who is fast-developing his own interest in such things), and I had a look through the well organised racks of records there.

There was plenty of good stuff. Reasonably priced. But nothing that really grabbed me. And then halfway down the second rack I came upon this album. I kind of stopped in my tracks because I'm well enough versed in stuff like this to know when I chance upon something pretty unusual. What appeared to be an original version of the first Left Banke record. The one named after their two best known songs, Pretty Ballerina and Walk Away Renee, both tracks placed not insignificantly on track one of Side 1 and Side 2 respectively as well as sharing the title of the record itself. The one that taught Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian a great deal of what he needed to know when first he decided to embark upon a career in music.

I took it to the record shop owner who was perched behind the counter, to make the basic inquiries. The album had a couple of small stickers on it. 'Original Issue! Plays Fine!'. and '£29.99'. My initial feeling was that if the first statement was correct then the price was by no means unreasonable. The brief conversation we had was enough for me. Like all proper record shop people he was first and foremost a music fan.

He shared my surprise at the fact that he even had the album. This kind of psychedelic wave cultish stuff barely made it to British shores in the late sixties, never mind landing up on a shelf for sale in decent condition almost fifty years later. He mentioned Love, the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Chocolate Watchband as particular favourites of his. All of this stuff strangely seals a deal. It was clear that a trip to the nearest cash-point was required and proper.

It's difficult to describe the strange sense of anxiety I felt when going to get the money needed, returning to exchange it for the record and how I've been in the couple of hours since before getting round to writing this. This might be something quite peculiar to record buyers although perhaps it's a fluttery sensation that might also be understood by those who amass antiques or classic cars, or mechanical engines, or first edition books .There's a slight twinge of guilt involved but also a realisation that you actually had little choice in the matter. That the object and you were supposed to be together.

Anyway, it's mine, and I should imagine and hope always will be. The album itself is not quite a masterpiece, no matter what anyone tells you, perhaps a minor one and certainly a grower. What makes it most noticeable, is the songwriting of main man Michael Brown, who died just recently, and the unquestionably baroque and crafted arrangement of the songs. Also of course its influence. Most notably Belle & Sebastian, Badly Drawn Boy and a whole generation of sensitive strummers with fringes, from the eighties onwards. It sounds strangely like one of the first indie records now. Time changes albums into something they never were when first released.

Peculiarly also, both the album's best known tracks were almost love letters from Brown to the remarkably named Renee Fladen-Kamm, who at that point was the girlfriend of bassist Tom Finn. She's described on the pages of Wikipedia as a free spirited blond.There's something of this unrequited loneliness, heartbreak and longing in the sound of the record and also a lack of true closeness in the playing of the musicians themselves, (they disbanded shortly after these recordings were made and were replaced by backing musicians) that actually seems to haunt the record itself. It's a 'nearly' record. But at the same time one of the great ones.

Elsewhere, it's the ghost of The Beatles influence that casts as great a shadow as Bach on things that provides the album's most obvious flaws. Things get better the further away it moves from them but occasionally the unmistakable combination of the arrangement of harmonies and the hoarse full-throated howl of Martin Caro on certain tracks gives you the uncanny sensation that Lennon has barged his way through to the mic and McCartney and Harrison have gathered behind him in support.Check out last track Lazy Day, if you don't believe me. 

Still, I'm by know means complaining. Have I said before that it's mine? My precious! It'll undoubtedly be a record I return to and bond with over time and Walk Away Renee, in particular is an exquisite, pocket masterpiece of compressed emotion. Much else here falls not far short of that. The delicacy and sensitivity of the songs, the compact, simplicity of the arrangements and the knowledge that I'm in possession of an original object  of such simple beauty all mean that today was a good day. And not of course just because I bought the record but equally because of the memories, company, scenery and emotions that accompanied my purchase of it. Listening to it over future months and years will no doubt send me spiraling back through time and space to that point. To the weekend of my mother's eightieth birthday party. And no, I don't think I'm being fanciful. This is the way these things actually work!'