Wednesday, September 30, 2020

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums For September


Excellent month for new albums. Reflected by playlist list of fifteen of them.

It Starts With a Birthstone - Songs For September


Songs Heard on the Radio # 380 Burl Ives


Nice start to the day.

50 Days of Glam # 2 Sweet


Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 55 Chic : Chic's Greatest Hits


A different kind of Funk. 'Chic honed a perfect, exquisitely crafted dance-soul music, presented with a veneer of faux-European sophistication.'

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 59 Gang of Four


'More music that made you stand back from the radio and whisper, 'What the bloody hell was that?'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,450 Na Noise


Auckland duo take us back decades to the dawn of Psychedelia with a reminder of extraordinary it must have been to hear White Rabbit and Somebody To Love for the last time. Plenty of Kaukonen's eerie Raga edge on show here. Altogether wonderful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Traffic - Saville Theatre London - 1967


Songs About People # 1,181 Seijun Suzuki


Cult Japanese director, formative influence on Tarantino and Jarmusch, gets a rap.

Surfer Blood - Carefree Theatre


I've liked the records of West Palm Beach, Florida's Surfer Blood previously and written about them on here before. They're an unassuming, unpretentious bunch. Straightforward breezy, guitar driven Indie Pop. Hooks and melodies to the fore.

They tick the boxes they've previously ticked with consummate ease. In some ways they seem like a Weezer for the modern world, with the irritating quirks ironed out. The Blood play everything with a straight bat and smiles on their collective faces.

On the band's Spotify page they are described, (surely with their approval), as 'the cleanest and nicest band in existence'. Hardly Punk Rock. A band marketing themselves quite consciously as washing powder. A cleancut bunch of boys and girl, who you could invite back to meet your mom with supreme confidence.

But in Surfer Blood's case you can't help but give them a pass. Because they do what they do very well. This is life on Sunny Street and frankly you can't help but think that is more than welcome right now. Serious points are being made if you listen more closely to the lyrics but the band sugar coat their message skillfully. They're journeymen middle managers of Indie now, ten years since graduation.

Carefree Theatre is a relentlessly consistent listen with almost every song getting a straight seven. There are a few moments when they surpass themselves. I'd pick out one on fifth track In the Tempest's Eye as a prime example. Two and a half  minutes in they burst, suddenly and unexpectedly into the surf, (yes), harmonies that Pixies deployed to such spectacular effect on Bossanova. In many respects they are Pixies nice country cousins, (surfer, Surfer Rosa surely). They never bear their teeth. They're utterly housetrained. They're good to be around. I give this eight,

Albums of the Year 1966

 The year between 1965 and 1967 to state the blindingly obvious. A year significant enough music wise for Jon Savage to write a blindingly good book about it. Here's the Top Ten, as voted by punters of the Best Ever Albums site:

  1. The Beatles - Revolver
  2. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
  3. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
  4. The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
  5. Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence
  6. The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out
  7. Simon & Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
  8. The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
  9. The Kinks - Face to Face 
  10. John Coltrane - Ascension
And here are mine. The proviso being that I own them all on vinyl. :

                                                             1. The Beatles - Revolver

2. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

3. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde

4. Buffalo Springfield - Buffalo Springfield

5. Simon & Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

6. The Byrds - Fifth Dimension

7. The Troggs - From Nowhere

8. The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

9. ? & the Mysterians - 96 Tears

10. The Seeds - The Seeds

50 Days of Glam # 3 David Bowie


Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 54 The Specials - The Specials


'Most of us feel like nobodies. The Specials understood that and convinced a generation that they were good. We still live in a world that this record helped to shape.'

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 58 The Jam


'Weller looked at the crowd, didn't like what he saw, and wrote a song about them.'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,449 Tapeworms


Tapeworms. Yum! But hang on. Because this young Lille, France band of the same name have a neat Indie vibe going for them on their aptly named debut album Funtastic.

If the Stereolab influence is immediately evident right from the off, (it seems that this band has a similar influence these days as the Velvet Underground used to do), they use it well, and there's a giddy, fairground ride thrill to proceedings throughout.

While Tapeworms lose points for their name and lack of originality, they gain plenty for artistic impression as the record progresses. Funtastic fizzes like memories of long distant childhood parties.

While not up there with my favourite French Indie offering of this year, En Attendant Ana's resplendent Juillet, (from the early days of 2020), this one also has plenty going for it. Just take my advice, if you want to listen to it, go to Spotify rather than to YouTube as I was obliged to do in order to assemble this post. Far too many unedifying genuine tapeworm clips to wade though to get to the music. What were they thinking of!

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Go Betweens - Spring Hill Fair


The review of Spring Hill Fair in The NME, written by Biba Kopf from 1984. A good example of what good writing you could find in the music papers back in those days. Taking its subject matter seriously as it deserved.

Songs About People # 1,180 Brion Gysin

 Short guitar workout for Billy Burroughs mate.

50 Days of Glam # 4 Roxy Music


Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 53 The Police - Regatta De Blanc


This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 57 Public Image Ltd


' - one of the most astounding records - Public Image is one of the most astounding debuts - in rock's rich tapestry.'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,448 CATHEDRALE


Toulouse Punksters CATHEDRALE come up with the goods on their third album, Houses Are Built The Same, from earlier on this year. Their songs are built on a tried and tested formula. Sparky urgent melodic rhythms squaring the equation between Buzzcocks and Plastic Bertrande by singing in French and English. Tres Bon!

When I review bands that put out records that are so reminiscent of other, earlier  things I judge the success of their efforts as to whether they have the necessary fizz and energy to make their efforts worthwhile. Although Houses Are Built The Same is clearly utterly rooted in the more melodic Punk and New Wave of '76 to '79, most obviously the British equivalent, it has all the requisite fizz and energy you could ever want, and no little charm of its own.

Born Toulouse. Nothing Toulouse!  Cathedrale of sound! A record to start of your day or end it too. No reinvention of the wheel but excellent use of them. A positive Tigger of an album. 'Its tops are made out of rubber. It's bottoms are made out of springs.'  Magnifique!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Songs About People # 1,179 Juliette Greco

Appropriately Jazzy Rap for recently departed true great. A last link it feels with the days of Cocteau, Camus, Sartre, Miles Davis, Serge and Brel has gone.


Roxy Music


Jim & Van


Doors supported Them at The Whisky a Go Go in LA in 1966. Jim and Van shared the stage together, no doubt singing Gloria.

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 471 Landscape

Sometimes a change is required. I might have come to this point. Moving my local from Rosie's to The Newcastle Arms to The Telegraph behind Newcastle Station. It's quieter, I can watch the football and the jukebox sounds better. All boxes ticked.


Album Reviews # 80 The Troggs - From Nowhere


A few weeks ago, for reasons I won't bore you with, I went to my favourite record shop in town looking for a second hand copy of the Human League's Travelogue. They didn't have it, but as so often happens on these occasions in record shops , I left very happy with something else instead.

From Nowhere, the first album from The Troggs from 1966. Now I've long loved the Troggs. At least since my first year at university when I met a very sexy girl called Angie who was from Andover, (the band's home town), and she regaled me of tales of Reg Presley.

Even more so since reading James Taylor Marked For Death the great essay which Lester Bangs wrote about the band declaring them the absolute ultimate Garage band, even better than the legions of American bands of the same time and same stripe. He was quite right. Iggy also mentioned them, and Reg Presley specifically as a key formative influence.

Since before my lifelong musical standard bearers R.E.M. got together with the band to make Athens, Andover in 1992. Before the same band covered Love Is All Around, doing a pretty good job of it. Before Wet Wet Wet did the same thing on the soundtrack of Four Weddings and a Funeral and made a bloody awful job of it but still stayed at Number One on the UK for almost four months in 1994, providing a late nest egg of royalties for the band. Presley apparently spent most of his share on researching crop circles. Why, is some question to ask, as everyone knows they're created by drunken farm hands as an after pub jape.Well, each to their own.

I've coveted this album in its vinyl form for a while. Just for the cover really as it's an illustration of why people buy records and CDs are an utterly inferior alternative. Troggs is the short form of troglodyte of course. For the mythical cave dwellers. So here the band are, in matching cream suits inside a truly wonderful looking cheddar cave in Hampshire. Unstoppable.

And so is the record. The Troggs were destined never to be an albums band or gain much respect for what they did, but this is just terrific. Start to finish. Reg writes a few, there are a clutch of covers and of course there's Wild Thing. Written by Chip Taylor, originally recorded by New York band The Wild Ones. The Troggs brought it back and rightfully made it huge.

Over the coming years they had plenty of other sizable and notable hit singles but it's no surprise that  was this song that came to define them in many respects.It was Number One in the US and New Zealand, Number 2 in the UK. Top Ten virtually everywhere else.

It defines youth, rebellion and the whole foolishness and awkwardness of youth and early adulthood.Sex, lust, teenage fumblings. The things that still couldn't be spoken about openly at this point but which Troggs delineate here every bit as well as The Stones or The Who but with a cheekier, nudge nudge, wink wink raunch and sauciness that became the band's calling card. It's Punk before Punk. It has an ocarina solo. It'a truly a thing of beauty.

Strangely, given how good it is, the rest of the record is by no means put into the shade by it. The Troggs were not one trick ponies. Of course they weren't great players by any means but you don't have to be to do this stuff well. But From Nowhere has a sweaty charm that still holds up.

Most importantly it's a record that demands to be heard in vinyl form.I tried listening to it on my computer on headphones and it simply doesn't have the same effect. It's recorded in Mono of course which is one factor but it's not just that. It's certainly a case here of format defining impact. Best of all, on the back sleeve you have profile pictures of the band where they're listed as Ronnie, Chris, Pete and Reg Trogg, eight years before The Ramones. And in the great spirit of teenage mags they're asked their favourite drink, parents names, hobbies and everything else you could possibly want to know about them. Wonderful!

From Nowhere is not the only thing you need by The Troggs but it's the best place to start. From there get yourself a Greatest Hits. Essential. You'll be surprised. Then you might like to delve into some of their seventies stuff when they stopped having hits. I was also directed to a 1969 solo album by guitarist Chris Britton called As I Am by a discerning record shop guy who knows his stuff. Whatever you do, don't diss The Troggs. They're worthy of respect. Lester knows. Iggy knows. Peter Buck knows. You should know too!

50 Days of Glam # 5 Mott The Hoople


Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 52 The Slits - Cut


From the boys to the girls. 

'We consciously thought about getting girl rhythms into music and concluded that female rhythms were probably not as steady, structured, or as contained as male rhythms. We wanted to keep the rhythms skippy and light,' Viv Albertine. 

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 56 The Undertones


'Teenage dreams so hard to beat. Every time she walks down the street...'

Two minutes twenty six seconds. But it feels longer because not a moment is wasted.

Song of the Day # 2,447 Low Key Crush


Fresh off the Melbourne Pop Production Line. Made me think of the first time I heard Courtney. Or Teeenage Fanclub. It's as good as that. Quite effortless. Immediately marks Low Key Crush out as ones to watch.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Songs About People # 1,178 Ry Cooder


Strange, given that Bill Callahan's Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest was my record of the year last year, I haven't listened to his new one Gold Record right through yet. I just didn't like the pre-release songs I heard for the most part. Still this one, for Ry, is good. Utterly ridiculous. But fun. Will give the rest a listen later today. 

The Byrds


50 Days of Glam # 6 Lou Reed


Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 51 Misty in Roots - Live at the Counter Eurovision 79


This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 55 Buzzcocks


'Love, love, love. 'It's easy reckoned John Lennon, but the kids knew different.'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,446 Mint Field


Yesterday marked the release of the new Idles album, largely expected to catapult them to the major leagues. I only made it through a track and a half before switching to this, a far more ethereal option. Sentimento Mundial the second album from Mexicans Mint Field.

It's spectral, atmospheric slightly inconsistent and somewhat atonal. Not a record that I fell in love with but certainly interesting and vastly preferable in my book to being pummeled by Ultra Mono. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Juliette Greco 1927 - 2020


Songs About People # 1,177 Ray Manzarek

Instrumental atmospherics from Indonesians Airportradio for key Doors man. 

50 Days of Glam # 7 Elton John


Elton certainly flirted with Glam in his rowdier moments. Never more so than here.

Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 50 Gang of Four - Entertainment


'There is no pop album that looks at doubt and where it stems from more surgically than Entertainment.'

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 54 Siouxsie & the Banshees


'A completely new sound and and announcement of endless possibilities.'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,445 Tobin Sprout

Tobin Sprout has been a sometime contributor to Guided By Voices extensive catalogue. He is also , according to his Spotify  profile a Lo-Fi pioneer. His latest album Empty Horses is certainly worth a listen. And probably also worth coming back to.

It's an understated but confident record. Sprout clearly knows what he's doing. Nothing particularly sticks on first listen but it has a nagging sense of assurance that imposes itself on the listener. All sounded better second time round.

Old school is how I'd describe it. I thought of Neil Young on occasion. Let's face it, Young was old school' right from the off. Anyhow, a tender and likable record that probably keeps its finest moments for the last two tracks, All in my Sleep and No Shame.

Thursday, September 24, 2020



Holidays are a strange concept in this day and age. Here's a playlist.

Songs About People # 1,176 Boris Vian


One for French polymath and cool name to drop Boris Vian.

50 Days of Glam # 8 Gary Glitter

The conundrum with compiling a Glam rundown is what to do with Gary Glitter. He needs to be here. So many of his songs are so great and so essentially Glam. But given that his behaviour at this time and later on in life were so abhorrent, I don't really feel like posting his songs here. For the record I'd go for Rock and Roll and Leader of the Gang as his best. 

Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 49 Talking Heads - Fear of Music


Great name for an album. And a book. More CBGBs. So I chose the one that mentions CBGBs.

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 53 Blondie


'Both boys and girls were smitten as they glimpsed a world of distant and beautiful lust...'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,444 European Sun


It's comforting to see major lights of C-86 easing into middle age while remaining faithful to their teenage essence. Take Rob Pursey and Amelia Fletcher, formerly of Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research and Tender Trap. They're taking a break from their day job in Catenary Wires to don another disguise, this time as European Sun and have just released an eponymous debut album.

These are songs for their constituency. The album cover a knowing tribute to the Warhol sleeve for The Velvet Underground & Nico with an ice cream cone with proud flake standing in for the iconic banana. European Son becomes European Sun. Brighton stands in for New York. Lovely.

So these are songs for those who came of age in the late Eighties at Primal Scream, 14 Iced Bears and My Bloody Valentine gigs. It has plenty of Velvets drone, plenty of wistful bah bah bas for forty and fifty somethings with growing kids of their own who probably prefer Grime. It's an altogether charming record. Slightly wistful. Greatly consoling.

Their Bandcamp page says it all: 'Proud members of Europe regardless of the place of the UK, and humble advocates for humanity, equity and justice in life, European Sun also make music.' Yes they do, and they should be treasured. The meek will inherit the earth. We can only hope so.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Songs About People # 1,175 Brad Dourif


         Rather scary track for great American character actor who started out as Billy Bibbit.

50 Days of Glam # 9 Slade


Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 48 Michael Jackson


'Once upon a time Michael Jackson was a symbol of all that was good and great about humanity.'

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 52 Sylvester

'The emphasis here is a striking testament to what love means...'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,443 Brona McVittie


Irish singer and harpist Brona McVittie's second album The Man in the Mountains, sounded a momentous record to me from its opening notes and I fell deeper and deeper under its spell as matters proceeded. Pastoral Folk with a slight tinge of the horror of the early seventies, (think The Wicker Man soundtrack), it's a quite entrancing listen start to finish.

Comparisons have been made with Jane Weaver from some quarters and seem to make sense to me, though McVittie is more obviously rooted in Folk than Weaver is. But she takes a similar approach in drawing on early Seventies influences but updating them quite compellingly.

McVittie's rich, trembling voice is her obvious ace card, making the listener feel that they're wading through the stuff of Arthurian legend. But the arrangements are equally textured and evocative. The Man in the Mountains is clearly a deeply researched and thought through record but it doesn't feel forced or opportunistic, so well is everything realised.

One to kick of your shoes and immerse yourself in as you might do to a Sandy Denny or Vashti Bunyan record. This September has been a rich harvest for me this year in terms of utterly wonderful records. The Man in the Mountains is near to the top of the pile, ripe and golden and good enough to eat.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Will Sargent


Motown Tour - Newcastle City Hall 1965


           The Supremes, The Vandellas, The Temptations and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.

Songs About People # 1,174 Wilmer McLean

Wilmer McLean, whose house became an important focus during The American Civil War. You can read why here.

Covers # 134 - Nation of Language


More Nation of Language. Like their album perfectly unnecessary but this is certainly not an unpleasant version of Gouge Away.

50 Days of Glam # 10 Sparks


Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 47 Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures


'A sound that reflected the dark edges of the city, a rock that rejected all known forms of rocking, that transformed Peter Hook's bass into lead instrument, that moved with the clanks and clunks of mechanised industry, that smashed glass and suggested the swish of cars on night's rainy streets, that made you believe that it was the desolate, echoey noise of the thoughts inside Ian Curtis's head.'

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 51 The Clash


'The new groups are not concerned. With what there is to be learned. They've got Burton suits. Ha! You think it's funny. Turning rebellion into money.'