Sunday, July 31, 2022

It Was a Birthstone - Albums for July


It Starts With a Birthstone - Songs for July


Important Gigs in My Life # 5 My Bloody Valentine - Norwich Arts Centre - February 13th 1990


Really to get an idea of what this was like you just have to listen to the album My Bloody Valentine were still touring at the time, their breakthrough, Isn't Anything which had come out well over a year previouslyBut play it very, very loud and imagine yourself locked in a mass of bodies of teens and early twenties that feels as if it is genuinely becoming a sea. Or else just go the whole hog and listen to it underwater.

Because, whenever I think of that gig, I think of being not an individual in a crowd but molecular in structure, more jellyfish than man, part of a swaying liquid mass. With this enveloping blaze of colour and noise pulsing off the stage where the band was playing, like some lighthouse flooding the rocks of a stormy sea.

The music and vibe given off by My Bloody Valentine at that point in time had an incredible essence. They were doing something genuinely new but strangely indefinable, from the moment they released the You Made Me Realise EP on Creation in 1988. They actually seemed on the cusp of an extraordinary breakthrough.

The band obviously thought as much themselves. They took an extraordinarily length of time to complete the follow up to  Isn't Anything, Loveless, almost bankrupting their record label in the process. They also were an astonishing live proposition, having a tendency at the time and thereafter of holding a chord in You Made Me Realise for minutes on end onstage til the audiences ears were on the point of bleeding. In general for playing their gigs at health threatening volumes. For making some kind of record breaking attempt every time they went onstage. Just play the album like I said. It's all there.

Mundane gig details. The ticket cost £3.50. I went during the last year of my time at university, with Andy who has been the gig going friend of my life. I remember nothing specific about the evening except that the band barely spoke to the audience if at all and there was an inexpressible suppressed sexual aura  about the whole evening. I've never associated a gig with such sheer claustrophobic energy. I've seen My Bloody Valentine since but didn't really need to . 1988-1992 was their moment.

Neglected Records In My Collection # 4 My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything


This is actually a neglected record. Even though, even though.. It was clearly a groundbreaking one. That was apparent even at the time that I bought it when it came out. Along with the twelve inch of You Made Me Realise, which probably has the greater claim to being the truly revolutionary moment.

You wouldn't have seen it coming. My Bloody Valentine started life as an inoffensive, cute, jangly feedback C-86 band band like many others. The 14 Iced Bears, The Soup Dragons, The Razorcuts. Each and every one of them brought into being by the inspiration of The Jesus & Mary Chain. They were interviewed in those early days by my eventual brother in law for his fanzine Shy Like You. A copy will likely cost you north of £25 these days.

My Bloody Valentine, (or Kevin Shields more likely), decided they/ he wanted more, and came up with that astonishing Stooges meets Byrds meets your vacuum cleaner sound that Indie fans with ears immediately knew was the next great step forward.

This led to Isn't Anything, and from there to one of the most memorable gigs I've ever attended. At the Arts Centre in Norwich. The day before Valentine's Day in 1990 with the great gig going friend of my lifetime, Andy Nation. I'll post my thought about that here next.

Really, the record that Isn't Anything is twinned with is Psychocandy. more than any other. It's the next Creation milestone from there. I had the chance to see Jesus & Mary Chain on the tour supporting that record but I threw up my chance. But I was there for My Bloody Valentine.

This record would probably fetch a few quid if I took it to my local record shop. I won't be doing that. When you talk about MBV, it's the follow up, Loveless, the one that had the impossible long gestation period, the one that almost bankrupted Creation Records, that's generally considered the masterpiece. That one generally makes me queasy whenever I play it but I'll bow to the general consensus.

I saw My Bloody Valentine three times more, all on the same weekend a couple of decades later, when they curated the All Tomorrow's Parties, Nitemare Before Christmas Festival in Margate in December 2009. They headlined all three nights. They were impossibly loud. We mostly wore headplugs if we had a shred of sense, but still. It was incredibly loud no matter what you did. On the last evening I had to hurry out of the venue as quickly and as gracefully as I could because it felt like my ribcage was cracking. That will almost certainly be the last time I'll ever see them. Though apparently they have another album on the way and I could certainly have my arm twisted.

Pies & Prejudice - In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie # 13 Lindisfarne


Up to the 'real' North.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 71 The Left Banke - Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 566 The Libertines - Up The Bracket


Song(s) of the Day # 3,105 Josh Rouse


Going Places, an easy going and amiable new album from American singer songwriter Josh Rouse. Vampire Weekend and laye Go Betweens come to mind without ever threatening the peak heights of either band. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 518 The Kinks


The only flaw of the the wonderful request feature of the jukeboxes in my locaal. If you order a song that's also the title of the album it's on you can just get the song. Hmm. I want Muswell Hillbillies.Ths will do in the meantime.

Pies & Prejudice - In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie # 12 The Membranes


A rather strange section of the book. Blackpool, then The Lake District.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 70 Fred Neil - Fred Neil


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 567 The Doors - Morrison Hotel


Song of the Day # 3,104 Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra


                                             Forthcoming single from talented local musical man.

Song of the Day # 3,103 Partner


                                             Didn't posr testerday so you get two again today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Pies & Prejudice - In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie # 10 The Parachute Men


Stu sings the praises of Leeds.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 67 Bobby Darin - If I Were a Carpenter


'Darrin had one of Rock'n'Roll's most unfathomable careers.'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 570 TV on the Radio - Dear Science


Song(s) of the Day # 3,101 Color Green


Another Californian, group, more of a duo in this case, inspired by all things Psychedelic and Sixties. Noah Kohll, also of Young Guv and Dark Tea, recent favourites of mine, and Corey Madden of Grave Flowers Bongo Band.

Their debut and eponymous album is lush, laidback and off out on the open world. The easiest of listens. Driven most of all by the sound of the most beautiful guitars. I approve, highly. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Neglected Records In My Collection # 3 The Smithereens - Especially For You


The Smithereens were in many ways a throwback band who had a brief moment in the sun in 1986 with their debut album Especially For You, then returned to the shadows for the rest of their long and durable career which ended effectively when singer and songwriter Pat DiNizio died in 2017. All four original band members stayed together for pretty much the course of these decades. Many arms were raised  aloft and fist clenched in concert by audiences in the meantime I imagine.  

They hailed from Carteret, New Jersey and boy does it sound like it and boy do they look like it. Monochrome meat and potatoes. They look like a New Jersey band should look like. Bruised, indistinct, dressed generally in black, not oil paintings perhaps, but you suspect dependable, nice guys. They peddle nostalgia, every song harks back to The Sixties and generally deals with romance and how things often don't pan out as you hope they will. Nevertheless, this is pretty much a perfect record of its kind. Blue collar heartbreak, damned good songs, great lyrics and choruses.

Listening through to it now I realise I never appreciated what a damned good album it was in its entirity when I bought it when it came out when I was twenty and falling in love properly for the first time. There's not a dud on the whole record and only a couple of tracks dip below the very, very good mark.

At the time I sought out its obvious highpoints, Strangers When We Meet and particularly Begind The Wall of Sleep and Blood & Roses which hinted at genuine heartbreak. I barely noticed the track in between the two, In a Lonely Place which had Di Nizio duetting sweetly with a Suzanne Vega type, Vega, at the time the undisputed queen of Greenwich Village, who turns out to be, erm Suzanne Vega.

This is the only Smithereens album you need. I confess I haven't heard the rest. Di Nizio admits it himself though; 'This was like a Greatest Hits record from a band no-one had ever heard, because we'd had those songs for five years.' The record was produced by Don Dixon who'd made his name by handling the same duties with Mitch Easter on early R.E.M. records.  Especially For You was one of Kurt Cobain's favorite records. He was generally right about these things. I'm glad to have rediscovered it today. It's a better record than I remembered it to be.

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 517 Olden Yolk


Nice to have some Olden Yolk on the jukebox when I fancy some.

Pies & Prejudice - In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie # 8 Inspiral Carpets


Oldham's finest.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 65 The Butterfield Blues Band - East West


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 572 Belle & Sebastian - Tigermilk


Song(s) of the Day # 3,099 Nina Nastasia


Music that documents pain is some of the most interesting and emotionally resonant of all. Take Riderless Horse, the first music from Nina Nastasia since 2011, and her first solo album.

In her own words, the long gap is the result of 'unhappiness, overwhelming chaos, mental illness, and my tragiclly dysfunctional relationship...' The backgtound story is here

Perfect material for a raw, overwrought record and Riderless Horse more than lives up to the billing. Steve Albini produced the record and the making of it clearly worked as a process of healing. 'We all had meals together, cried, laughed and told stories together. It was perfect. It made me realise how much I love writing, playing and recording music.'

There are plenty of precedents for this. I was reminded of Karen Dalton, the grandmummy of all this. Iris Dement, Judee Sill, Janis, any female vocalist with an edge to her voice and an axe to grind. Nastasia has the songs and the emotional heft to earn comparison with all these. It's a deceptive record. It charts the pain. But there's tenderness too. It tells the tale of why couples stay together when they shouldn't. Until it's too late.

The end result is redemption we trust. Natasia deserves the last word. 'Terrible things happen. So, what to do. Connect with people, move the fuck out of that apartment, remember the humour, tell the truth and make a record. I made a record.' Damned good one at that.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Songs Heard on the Radio # 419 Lucinda Williams


Nice bit of Lucinda for a Sunday morning.

Neglected Records In My Collection # 2 Marty Robbins - All Times Greatest Hits


A record I'd only just bought before my record player conked out and so I had to wait 9 months for it to get fixed so I could actually play and appreciate it this Sunday morning. 

It starts with probably Marty's best known moment. El Paso the cornier than corn Wetern ballad of treachery and betrayal immortalised once again in the opening of the last episode of Breaking Bad. There's a lot more to Marty than this but it's a good a song to represent him as any.

The rest of his Double Best of album can be easily divided into two categories. Johnny, (Cash) and Elvis, particularly late, Vegas period Elvis on sides 3 and 4.. He doesn't have the heft of either but there's plenty to enjoy. Pretty much every thing comes with a large spoon of corn and Marty has a fine voice and sings of an oldwest that never existed as well as anyone.

Pies & Prejudice - In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie # 7 The Verve

To Stu's hometown, Wigan, for a stopover.


The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 64 The Kinks - Face to Face


'Ray Davies satirical gaze - here turned on itself - found its first full expression in album format.' 

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 573 The Smiths - Louder Than Bombs

Song(s) of the Day # 3,098 TRAAMS


Chichester's finest, TRAAMS, return with their third album, Personal Best,  their first for seven years. Hardly new territory, this is music rooted mostly in the misty Post Punk and vaguely Gothy Eighties. I was reminded early of Killing Joke, Sisters of Mercy and Loop.

This is ominous, vaguely industrial music. Not exactly overflowing with humour, more intent on dark atmosphere. This isn't really the kind of sound I'm hunting down in my fifties, but as someone who spent plenty of time listening to Cure, Simple Minds and Joy Division albums in my teens while reading European novels, I was more than happy to spend forty five minutes with it.

Featuring plenty of guest vocal appearances. Joe Casey of Promartyr appears at one point. This is essentially a rather gloomy record. But it's highly accomplished and by the time penultimate track, the magnificent Hallie came into view, I was persuaded that this would be getting further play from me.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 516 Broadcast


Always nice to have a bit more Broadcast on the Telegraph jukebox, to choose from.

Dave Davies


Ty Segall - Hello, Hi


I was in something of a quandry, listening to the latest Ty Segall album, Hello Hi, this morning. The question I was actually asking myself was 'Do I actually like this?'

I've been asking myself this about Segall for a while. Also about his near California contemporaries Oh Sees, who I underwent a long immersion on social media recently with a group I belong to.

Oh I'm not saying that Segall and Oh Sees don't put out good product. They put out very good product. They're consummate musicians and know their rock history better than you ever will, all of it's twists and turns. I'm sure they own all of the original albums, annuals and badges.

They're immersed in the musical past, well and truly. In Segall's case that means mostly Marc Bolan, who seems his formative and key influence, (his voice uncannily has the same elfin quiver), but also Hawkwind, Sabbath, Gong and various other Hippie and Metal standbys of the early Seventies.

If you like that stuff you'll probably like this. It's almost consumately replicated. I really like this kind of approach generally. I'm perfectly happy to unwind in the company of an Allah La's or Cool Ghou's album, as they reproduce the sound of Californa's original Golden Dawn one more time or some San Francisco indie band, making like they're in the South of England in 1986 and the C-86 compilation is coming out with the NME next week.

My abiding issue with both Segall and Oh Sees, is that what they do comes across to be as a rather cold and calculated exercise much as I like the actual music. I felt the same when I saw them both live within a short period a few years back. They don't entirely rock my boat as other practitioners of similar skills can.

So, that's where I stand with Hello, Hi. I'll give it further spins over the coming months. By the end of play one I was pretty much won over so I'm sure I'll be further committed to further spins. I'll probably alternate it with listens to Tyrannosaurus and T. Then see what I feel as I begin my own personal rundown of personal favourites in mid-September.

Pies & Prejudice - In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie # 6 The Smiths


So much to answer for...

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 63 The Byrds - 5th Dimension


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 574 Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets


Song of the Day # 3,097 Disq


Song(s) of the Day # 3,096 The Sadies

 Forgot to post this yesterday so we have two songs of the day today.

Canadians, The Sadies are apparently well worn stalwarts, going back almost 30 years now. . Colder Streams, just out, is their eleventh album. It sounds like it in some ways, and that's not intended in a perjorative sense. Quite the opposite.They know what they're doing.

They don't really sound 'of this time' at all. Quite the opposite. Onstead, they're like a guitar band from the late Sixties or early Seventies. Searching for meaning. Think The Dead, The Band, Quicksilver, Crazy Horse, Traffic, Moody Blues, Airplane.

There's a sense of mission here that it's easy to latch onto.This is a record that doesn't grab you by the throat. You've heard many like it before. You're in safe hands. An enjoyable way to start the day. A reminder of simpler times. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Neglected Records In My Collection # 1 The Bonzo Dog Band - The Doughnut in Grannie's Greenhouse

 For the last nine months or so I have been suffering on here. In silence mind. My proudest possession, is probably my record collection, which dates back to the early Eighties and fills several shelves and boxes in my Newcastle flat. It's as good a desciption of my life as a memoir would be.

Next would be my fabulous vintage record player, a cabinet Dynatron probably dating back to the Seventies. I bought it for a not inconsiderable cost of £500 about five years back, a fee that I never once regretted, given the fabulous sound and enhancement it gave to favourite records as well as records that I didn't realise were quite so good before as they sounded great when played on it.

Then in late summer of 2021 I did a terrible thing. I lost my temper, for good reason I hasten to add, with a friend who wasn't behaving as a friend should,, and drunk as a skunk late at night my elbow came back and the slid of the cabinet slammed shut, blowing the speakers. I've been without ever since and frankly, something considerable has been missing from my life.

It was a difficult problem to fix and I was reliant of the good will of Marek the owner of RPM Records, in Newcastle who I'd bought it from to eventually come up with a solution that was reasonable to both of us in terms of the bill.

Yesterday Marek came good. On the hottest day of the year, he turned up at my flat with a new board for my player and attached it. My record player is back. Not entirely, the sound only comes from one attached speaker as of yet. But that one speaker is good enough to convince me that I am reunited with a partner that I really never wanted to split from in the first place. And it feels as good as ever.

So, another occasional series. I never need much excuse. Given that I'm working from home much of the time these days, this will allow me to become properly aquainted with some of the more neglected records in my collection. Much as I love them, I can't listen to Murmur, Kind of Blue, Forever Changes and What's Going On all the time. I'll use this as an excuse to delve into the more obscure areas of my record shelves and boxes.

So to The Doughnut in Grannie's Greenhouse the second album by British arch-satirists The Bonzo Dog Band released in November 1968.. Not a record I listen to very much. In fact today is probably the first time I ever have in its entirity. It's a very amiable and easy album to listen to. If not a particularly funny one anymore though I'm sure it was at the time. Humour is not a thing that dates well generally.

Musically it still sounds very inventive though because the The Bonzo Dog Band were highly ambitious and covered a lot of ground over the course of their career.

The touchstones are The Beatles and Monty Python throughout. The Bonzos of course famously appeared famously in Magical Mystery Tour and were close companions with the members of Python through the late Sixties and early Seventies.There is a resultant confidence and authority throughout. They're official jesters of an imperial court after all,

Nothing is particularly laugh out loud but it's all perfectly amiable and I think a smile or the wry description was never far from my lips as it played.

Most of the songs here are written, individually or together by the band's writing powerhouses Viv Stanshall and Neil Innes. They function in the same way as Lennon and McCartney did for The Beatles. Stanshall is the more anarchic, black sheep veering into occasional darkness and semi-gloom. Lennon essentially. Innes, more easy going, melodic. Laid back. So McCartney.They compliment each other.

The record itself remains a good one though the world that it tells of seems a million miles from the one we're in now. It stands up. Will listen again certainly.

Pies & Prejudice - In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie # 3 Icicle Works


Stu stops off in Liverpool. Certainle The North. A place he lived in and is very fond of. A fascinating discussion here about the particular, contradictory nature of the Liverpudlian ensues.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 60 The Association - And Then ... Along Comes...


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 577 Mac DeMarco - 2


Song(s) of the Day # 3,094 Neil Brogan


Belfast based Neil Brogan, formerly of Sea Pinks is back with a solo album the well titled Things Keep Getting In The Way.

It's the sound you'd expect of him. Rooted in the Eighties. Very Indie melodic jangle. Pop songs the likes of me would like to see in the proper charts but very rarely ever actually land up there.

Think Go Betweens or Chills. Sixteen going on seventeen. Songs that run betwen a minute and a half and three. C-86 or Sarah Records version of Ramones. Brogan produces them, one after another. As good an album as any to sit and the shade and listen to and hope or kid yourself that this is just a freak weather spell that will pass.