Monday, April 30, 2007

Go-Betweens Intermission

It's press release time, and the following three jpegs - click to enlarge - tell you all you need to know about the forthcoming double CD retrospective of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan's solo years, 1990-1997.

All, that is, apart from the tracklisting:

Robert Forster
the best of the solo recordings 1990-1997

Falling Star
Baby Stones
I've Been Looking For Somebody
I'll Jump
Beyond Their Law
I Can Do
The Circle
Cryin' Love
The River People
Frisco Depot
Danger In The Past
Falling Star (Original Version)

Grant McLennan
the best of the solo recordings 1990-1997

Haven't I Been A Fool
Easy Come Easy Go
Black Mule
The Dark Side Of Town
Lighting Fires
Surround Me
No Peace In The Palace
Hot Water
I'll Call You Wild
Horsebreaker Star
Malibu 69
One Plus One
In Your Bright Ray

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Go-Betweens Say

For fans of The Go-Betweens – and why else would you be reading this? – this site has stacks of interviews with the band spanning the period 1982-97 (a rather arbitary period, I agree, but there’s plenty of information and I for one am very glad it’s been collected).

It’s part of a larger site, which explores Australian punk and postpunk, as well as later, sadly unsung acts The Lighthouse Keepers and The Widdershins.

For those high-fliers among you – and believe me, I know this blog’s demographic – with demanding city jobs and no ‘me-time’, I have selflessly pulled some highlights from the Go-Betweens interviews.

They used to say dumb things, you know, and also some very wise words:

"God, we’re not a fashion band, just look at us!" exclaims Go-Betweens’ bass player Grant McLennan pointing at himself, drummer Lindy Morrison and guitarist Robert Forster who’s wearing a mohair-trimmed jumper while outside a scorching heat beats down from the mid autumn sun.

"I don't think they [The Smiths] ever made a whole good album, but they made their fans think they could never happen again…they are not any better than the Go-Betweens or Belle and Sebastian." (GM)

“We wanted to use Joe Boyd (Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, REM) for Before Hollywood in 1982 when we were on Rough Trade, but at that stage he wasn’t making rock records. We wanted to work with John Cale for Spring Hill Fair but he was too expensive.” (GM)

"I don’t have any influences. I exist completely on my own. And it’s ever-increasing. I think it’s the same with Grant – we just exist: completely within our own genre. We’re completely self perpetuating." (RF)

“As an album [Before Hollywood] that really got close to a definitive sound for a certain period. It’s great because there’s very few records that do that.
I’m not comparing the album, but Marquee Moon by Television does that; a statement of a band, of intent, an unmistakable mood. Like Highway 61, early Creedence records, The Doors’ first album, Revolver. They’re albums which come close to defining (something).” (GM)

Describe to me the typical Go-Betweens fan?
Lindy: "German, male, between 20 and 26, earnest."
Grant: "Female, heavily into Sylvia Plath, could have played hockey with the Australian Olympic squad but gave it up. And called Mirabelle."
John: "A young man who’s just been jilted for the first time."

"I know that our dear friend Roddy Frame called his last LP Love, but I maintain that the Go-Betweens write about love better than anybody else in the world." (GM)

"The sun isn’t a problem in Australia any more," adds Robert, enlivened, “because they’ve developed these creams ranging from one to 15. So with 15 it’s virtually paint and if keeps out the sun. Now if someone like the Egyptians had had this cream, the pyramids might not have been built. Perhaps if they’d had this stuff they’d have looked like Swedish people!" (RF)

"It’s the sort of thing where you trek up half of Tibet, searching for the man with all the answers. You sit down and ask him the meaning of life, and he says ‘It doesn’t matter how far you we come, you’ve always got further to go.’ I would say, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ I’d probably slap him around a little bit, go to a nearby bar, have a drink." (RF)

“Looking back and seeing that none of it is charted, a lot of people would say that's unsuccessful. But 'Marquee Moon' sold nothing, and I know much I still enjoy listening to Television. It doesn't really matter. To me the things I like, and that a lot of my friends like, are the things that maybe have fallen under the floorboards a bit. Our music was never connected with any kind of movement. There's a guilelessness to our music which I'm happy with." (GM)

Grant:"We all love Wired for Sound by Cliff Richard. It’s just such a happy song.”

What's your favourite Robert Forster song?
“There are so many! I'll just say at the moment — 'Rock & Roll Friend'. But then I could go back to 'People Say', the second single, which is a fantastic piece of pop music, or 'Karen' — a great individual slice of liberation of R&B. Then I could go through every album...I enjoy all his songs." (GM)

What your favourite Grant McLennan song?
"I really like 'Love Goes On'. There's nine chords in a row, which he doesn't repeat. It's so him. A lot of his best songs are on '16 Lovers Lane'. And 'Cattle & Cane' is a really good song. It was like 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' or something — a quantum leap, a break-through song." (RF)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dee Walker

Dee Walker, a 22-year-old building society employee from Kent, was chosen in 1984 to be the Dance Network’s new signing. Label boss Paul Bultitude said: “We can call her Dee. The mod scene needs a Cilla or a Sandy.”

Paul Bevoir was charged with writing her debut single, “a groovy dance song along the lines of The Locomotion.” Jump Back is all of that and more – an infectious, foot-stomping shaker that stormed straight into the Ready Steady Go studios on a scooter. Released in the June of 84, its driving Motown beat, jubilant horn-driven riff and sun-soaked joie de vivre make Jump Back one of the perfect summer singles.

It didn’t chart of course. People were too busy buying Frankie Goes To Hollywood records, the clowns. A mini-album, Dial L For Love, was released a year later, featuring three songs by Bevoir and three by Ed Ball. A couple more songs came out on the Hot Hits compilation (see post below) and that was it.

Dee got married in 1986, moved to Nottingham and lost touch with her music contacts in London. All nine songs – and a fine legacy it is, too – can be found on the Tangerine CD compilation, Jump Back, which you can still pick up if you look hard enough. I’m sure I had some promo photos of Dee, but I’m buggered if I can find them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


The Candees' story is shrouded in mystery; what we do know is that given Radio 1 playlisting and blanket Saturday morning TV coverage in 1985, The Candees would still be number one. As it is, they never even released their debut single.

The creative force of 80s ace face Paul Bevoir was behind them – he wrote their songs, and he may have even put them together. A man with an instinctive knack for a great pop tune and irresistible choruses, Bevoir made The Candees sound like The Monkees staffed by teenage girls. They really were that good.

They released two songs on the Hot Hits Volume 1 compilation on the Dance Network label in 1985, The Heart Parade and Little Miss Rainbow; the sleeve notes told us an album, The Candee Store, would be out in the new year.

Eleven years later that album, essentially a batch of demos recorded with EMI’s money but never released or developed as EMI decided they didn’t want to sign the band, came out on the Accident label as “Candyfloss”. The guy who put it out still sells copies of the album regularly on his ebay site, where you can easily pick up a copy for under a tenner.

Comprising of nine Paul Bevoir originals and a cover of The Dodgers’ powerpop nugget, Don’t Let Me Be Wrong, Candyfloss is a true lost classic bursting with bubblegum love songs, wracked with melodrama, obsession and yearning, an overly romantic, obviously lovesick opus that cutely presses all the right buttons. Teenage dreams, so hard to beat, eh?

To the world at large, Candyfloss is probably most interesting because it features the young Michele Collins before she went on to television glory. Collins was, along with Bevoir, one of Mari Wilson’s Wisations (she was Candide) but her musical career has never thrust her into the limelight.

Who can remember her theme tune to Sunburn, which scraped the top 40 in 1999? No one, surely, will be too familiar with her version of the Temptations’ Get Ready, which stalled at – wait for it – number 258 (her mum, manager and a DJ at G-A-Y bought a copy).

By the way, don’t be deceived by the young foxtresses on the cover of Candyfloss, as they’re cute chicks from 60s magazines. The only Candees photos are black and white and on the Hot Hits sleeve. Which I’ve photographed so you can have a look at The Candees as they really were in 1985. If you can't make out the signatures (woo! this'll be my pension fund, this record) that's Collins second from right.

If anyone is desperate to hear the two songs on the Hot Hits album, I can post them at some point. In the meantime, go and listen to them on myspace and buy yourselves an album.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New weekly music magazine

A new weekly music magazine has hit the newsstands. Popworld Pulp, a spin-off of the long-running Channel 4 TV programme, launched today; it will be lucky to still be publishing at the end of the year.

Its weekly rivals, NME (73,008 sales per week) and Kerrang! (85,377 sales per week), have nothing to fear (apart from, in the former’s case, its own plummeting sales figures). In the latest ABCs from February, Kerrang! showed a 12.1% increase, proving once again that it always enjoys a sales spike during periods when the style of rock music it covers – currently, emo; most recently before that, nu-metal – experiences commercial success.

NME is suffering for far more reasons than because it’s lacking an indie figurehead like The Strokes or The White Stripes or Oasis. However, when rock fans want to read about rock, they turn to the specialists like Kerrang!, or Metal Hammer and Classic Rock, who both also recently experienced sales increases.

Popworld Pulp, despite its publishing claim that it’s offering “a broad range of music genre including R&B, rock and pop”, is aiming for the indie rock market. They believe they are “addressing a gap in the market as it is a younger audience than NME, but with a wider genre than rock magazine Kerrang!”

NME’s editorial policy is to write for and sell to 15-year-olds in the provinces; Popworld Pulp’s policy, they claim rather bizarrely, is to aim at 16-24 year-olds. The bigwigs involved in the launch of this magazine clearly haven’t been following trends in music magazine publishing over the past decade.

Popworld Pulp is associated with a mainstream pop show that despite having a cult following among older viewers is predominantly the fare of a young teen and pre-teen audience. They will not get the 16-24 year-olds; nor will they get NME’s 15-year-olds.

Popworld Pop will also not eat into the readerships of any of the rock magazines currently undergoing sales boosts. The reason rock magazines are doing well now is because they cater for a rock audience and a rock audience only. No rock fan will ever want to be associated with a kids’ pop show or buy a magazine that offers “a broad range of music genre including R&B, rock and pop.”

From an initial reading, Popworld Pulp is spiked heavily towards the indie/rock/guitar side of things. The writing reveals the plan is to target the very young – the cover story on the Klaxons tells us at one point that, “There's still enthusiasm, despite the general lack of glowsticks…It's nice to prove that it's possible to have excitement without them” (it is nice, isn’t it?) – and features on Fall Out Boy and Kings of Leon confirm their music stance.

We’ve been here before, of course, with ill-thought out "indie" magazines. In 1995, at the height of Britpop, Emap, realising that there were some picturesque kids playing guitars who kept their teeth nice and clean, relaunched an ailing rock title, Raw, as a Britpop read. This son-of-Select died fairly quickly.

Popworld Pulp’s plan to attract some of the 750,000 viewers of Popworld will only succeed on a very slight basis. Of the precious few of that number who are young enough not to already buy Kerrang! or NME, fewer still will be prepared to pay £1.50 a week for a magazine containing no insight, no depth and no attempt at anything other than lightweight entertainment journalism, and hardly anyone will be gullible enough to repeat the practice once they realize they can get much of the content from the internet.

The publisher, Brooklands, is a small outfit with a track record in producing spin-off magazines of Channel 4 programmes such as A Place In The Sun and Supernanny. It has no chance if it really thinks it’s pitching itself against the UK’s two dominant publishing houses, IPC (NME) and Emap (Kerrang!).

Sadly, there’s no need to get excited about the arrival of a new weekly music magazine. Things could be different, of course. When Mike Soutar joined IPC as group editorial director after editing Smash Hits, FHM and Maxim (US), he commented to an acquaintance that Melody Maker’s relaunch was a wasted opportunity. It should, he reckoned – and there is some wisdom in this – have been repositioned as the biggest fanzine in the country.

Writing about the small bands, the underground acts, the vibrant scene, filling a magazine with them, would have offered a startling – and inviting – counterpoint in 2000 to NME’s increasingly commercial tone. It would, also, have enabled the weekly press to re-establish itself with authority as a respected voice of underground music before the internet’s penetration became almost unassailable.

The successful launch in 2004 of two weekly men’s magazines – let’s face facts, most readers of the music press are male – showed that even with the internet’s reach, it is possible to sell its main commodity (naked women) in a weekly print format. If that can be done, then another of the web’s major commodities, music, can surely be formatted in a successful weekly magazine.

All music monthlies are suffering falling sales as its readership, once dependent on them for the free CDs that gave them a taste of new music without having to listen to the late-night radio of their youth, have learnt to navigate the web to find those new tasters for free. The prohibitive cover prices – artificially high due to “free” CDs, which are now worthless to many readers – is driving custom away.

Why, then, with the seemingly unstoppable launch of weekly magazines has neither of the two big publishing houses, IPC and Emap, reviewed its situation and changed tack from the tiresome overload of celebrity picture mags and launched a weekly music magazine?

There is a gap in the market here. Popworld Pulp certainly isn’t filling that gap. It’s far too flimsy, thin and inconsequential to come to anything other than a quick death. A weekly music magazine that runs on the pulse of the very excitement music itself provides, rather than adhering to the dry, rigid results of market research - now that would be a magazine worth reading.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rose Melberg

Rose Melberg's fine Cast Away The Clouds album is being released on vinyl by WIAIWYA. Said label's proprietor, Mr John Jervis, has begged requested that in honour of this auspicious event I post Take Some Time, which I am happy to do so. The song's up for a week, because them's the rules.
John sent over the press release for inclusion, but seeing as it was a pdf and the only useable document I could transfer it to was word, all of the well-crafted formatting has been sacrificed.
I have appealed to John to help amend this mishap, but seeing as his flat is currently base camp to a good number of Butterflies of Love during their current tour, he probably has other things on his mind. Like getting incredibly drunk, learning the Code Of The Road (what goes on tour, stays on tour) and watching Cavegirl DVDs (we all have our pecadilloes; I changed the press release so that it reads "centres upon" rather than "centres around" because the latter error bugs the shit out of me. I'm a well-adjusted, all-round decent guy, though, I'd like you to know).
That press release, then:

rose melberg
cast away the clouds

limited vinyl edition includes the bonus track, “The Time Has Come” (cover of Anne Briggs)

“...simply enchanting... the ex-Softies singer has crafted an intimate and sweet record that tenderly plucks heartstrings and will leave you with a warmed, if somewhat melancholy, heart.” -All-Music Guide

“...the female equivalent of Nick Drake.” -New York Post

“April showers bring May flowers, but they're all weeds compared to the sonic fragrance of Miss Rose Melberg.”

Rose Melberg has always been a productive overachiever -giving us a seemingly endless avalanche of mellifluous albums to treasure -but the past 5 years have been uncharacteristically quiet. After moving to a small Canadian lakeside town, she started a family, developed into a mature singer/songwriter akin to Nick Drake, Tracey Thorn, Elliott Smith and Isobel Campbell / Belle & Sebastian, and created her solo masterpiece, "Cast Away the Clouds", the spellbinding continuation of an impressive career.
From the opening notes of “Take Some Time” the harmonies transport you to Rose’s cottage, and the experience she has gained over the past few years is apparent in her confident delivery. “Irene” trots along with a waltzy piano set against her delicate voice. The lyrics have also evolved as she sings of a relationship ending in the winter in “Spin” remarking, “cooler days have put a chill into your heart”. Rose channels Hazelwood/Sinatra on “Constant and True” and The Everly Brothers on the album closer, “Each New Day”.
Straight out of a Sacramento high school, Rose Melberg entered the indiepop 7-inch scene in 1992 with her first of many successful bands, Tiger Trap. Crunchy guitars and punk attitudes couldn't hide Rose's velvet voice and painfully honest lyrics, and the all-girl foursome quickly became stars of a burgeoning indiepop/punk movement centered upon Olympia, WA and record labels like K and Kill Rock Stars. Too good to last, Tiger Trap split after their second US tour, leaving just one classic album and an EP on K Records. Wondrously prolific, Rose quickly teamed with uberfan Jen Sbragia to form the The Softies, possibly her best-known project. With just two guitars and two angelic voices, The Softies debuted with a 7" and mini-LP on the wonderful Slumberland Records, toured the US 5 times (once with Elliott Smith) and released 3 amazing albums and singles, also on K Records from 1994-2001. At the same time, Rose somehow managed to front Go Sailor who collected their sold-out and sought-after pop singles on Look Out Records in 1997, and had two songs featured in the campy film, "But I'm A Cheerleader". Never stopping, Rose also played drums on two albums with Gaze and recorded various duets and solo tracks while on tour. Those stray tracks were compiled on "Portola" released by Double Agent Records in 1998. All-Music Guide gave it 4 stars and declared "Even in light of the uniform brilliance of Rose Melberg's past work with Tiger Trap and The Softies, her solo debut is still revelatory --never before has her voice been so disarmingly honest and vulnerable... 'Portola' is a small miracle."

Having long since graduated from Indiepop University, Rose re-emerges mature and confident with the most deeply personal album of her career, "Cast Away the Clouds".

“There are echoes of Elliott Smith in the major-to-minor turns of the songs and the intimate mix, but without his self-loathing. While Ms. Melberg's songs are full of breakups and goodbyes, she is never bereft.” -The New York Times

publicity contact:
Jacqui Aitken @ Boca PR
07956 964994 020 7622 3431