Friday, June 29, 2007

Kid Canaveral

Herein lies a tale…

“You said she’s fit, but her music taste’s shite,
And when I tell you it doesn’t matter
You tell me she likes The McFly
And you like Erase Errata

When I tell you it didn’t matter
You remind me you like John Martyn
And she likes Neil Sedaka”
(“Smash Hits” Kid Canaveral)

We have all, I am sure, been there before. If not in real life, then you will perhaps recognise the situation of different music tastes getting in the way of a good relationship:
“You're in love, and it feels like shame
Because she's gone and made a fool of you in public again…
She's made you some kind of laughing stock
Because you dance to disco, and you don't like rock.”
(“Can You Forgive Her?” Pet Shop Boys)

Kid Canaveral’s debut single, Smash Hits, is the kind of joyous buzzsaw racket that’s so simple and so very effective you wonder why people don’t make it more often (clue: doing the simple pop thing right is one of the hardest tricks to pull off).

They sound like they’re armed with the knowledge that music peaked in 1976 with the first Ramones album (although the Shop Assistants were pretty good) and consequently Smash Hits is the kind of dumb punk pop that so very few get right. Fewer still get it as right as this. Go and listen to them here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sparring partners

There have in recent weeks been moments – but only moments – when my breast has swelled with such love for my fellow bloggers that I have pledged at various times to upload sundry pop songs of yore for their listening pleasure.

Nancy has stood up to be counted as a Korova Milk Bar fan; in the spirit of comradeship and support-group help, I promised to post their debut ep. I am a man of my word.
Calling Me Again/Desire

For reasons that I forget now (but it had something to do with summer songs) both Ally and myself agreed that it would be a very good idea to post some Grab Grab The Haddock. Ally has, apparently, the decorators in (shut up, the joke’s already been made); seeing as there are no obstacles to accessing my records, it has fallen to me to post them.
I’m Used Now

Last Fond Goodbye

It is worth, I think, sharing the line-up and duties listed on the back of their debut ep:
Alice Fox – vociferation and percussion
Steve Galloway – geetar, melodic guitar and piano
Lester Noel – guitar, piano, congas and bassdrum
Jane Fox – bass, bowed bits, celeste and minstrelsy

There isn’t, I sometimes (I wouldn’t want you to think I fret continuously over this) think, enough of the celeste in popular music.

Lastly, Chris has expressed an interest in The Caretaker Race’s Somewhere On Sea. This was, I think, their best moment. You will notice the Spanish-y guitar break which ties this song to 1987 (see also: Forever Steven by The Corn Dollies and La Isla Bonita by Madonna).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Lodger

I’m grateful to a mate for tipping me off about this band a year ago. Let Her Go was exactly that astonishing thing he claimed – a collision of The Wolfhounds’ fury and The June Brides’ horn-driven melodic power in a sleeve similar to Cattle and Cane.

The Lodger’s debut album, Grown-Ups, has just come out. Its references are more of the above with a certain nostalgia for simpler, less sullied times that was a trademark of The Smiths or The Housemartins; and most recently was heard to infectious effect on Spearmint’s mighty A Week Away album.

Perhaps at fourteen tracks Grown-Ups overstretches itself a little, but when it does work it really is very strong indeed. The album’s not a classic, but there’s all the evidence here that they will write one at some stage. For proof, listen to Let Her Go over at the Slumberland site.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Edwyn Collins (slight return)

I know everyone's heartened by the return of St Edwyn. Here's a recent photo of him with Bob from Shrag (it was good to see them reviewed in the Guardian last week, was it not?).

If you're interested in more pictures of Shrag and their associates in varying states of liquid refreshment, you should head here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Edwyn Collins

Edwyn Collins
Announces the release of new album.
*press release*

Edwyn Collins releases a new album, Home Again, through Heavenly Recordings on September 17th 2007. A single, You’ll Never Know, will precede the 12 track self-produced album on September 10th.

The full track listing for the album is as follows:

1. One Is A Lonely Number
2. Home Again
3. You’ll Never Know
4. 7th Son
5. Leviathan
6. In Your Heart
7. Superstar Talking Blues
8. Liberteenage Rag
9. A Heavy Sigh
10. Written In Stone
11. One Track Mind
12. Then I Cried

Home Again, Edwyn’s 6th solo long player, was recorded at West Heath, his own North West London studio in late 2004 / early 2005 before he suffered a serious illness. Work to complete the album was resumed earlier this year following a long period of rehabilitation.

Edwyn formed his first band, The Nu-Sonics in Glasgow in 1976 and was later to form Orange Juice and the hugely influential Postcard Records on which they released a string of acclaimed singles including Falling And Laughing & Simply Thrilled Honey in the late 1970s. They went on to record 4 ambitious albums which fused the rhythm and drive of Chic & Stax with an edge and attitude born out of their post-punk roots; such a sound was, at the time, completely unique and their influence on
subsequent waves of British guitar bands cannot be underestimated.

Orange Juice disbanded in 1985 and Edwyn has subsequently enjoyed a successful solo career (his 1994 single A Girl Like You was a worldwide hit) and has produced a number of albums, including The Cribs 2004 long player The New Fellas. He has released 5 solo albums since his debut, Hope And Despair in 1989.

The Young Republic

There’s been plenty of speculation and conjecture over the years about who might be the new Belle and Sebastian. It’s been a matter of some interest to me for two particular reasons:
1/ Nobody – not even Stuart Murdoch himself – writes them like they used to. Belle and Sebastian have not seemed important – and never as vital – since This Is Just A Modern Rock Song stuck a knife in Britpop’s inflated back nine (NINE!) years ago.
2/ Indiepop/twee/C86/gurlie dickweed indie/call it what you will has never been so popular. This is largely because of Belle and Sebastian. The movement has, I think, achieved critical mass, thus is in a state of self-perpetuation, but it still needs a figurehead. And, no, The Pastels or the Television Personalities do not count. Nor do The Shins or The Magnetic Fields, thanks for asking.

For fairly obvious reasons, Camera Obscura took the early votes in the New B+S Campaign. They were the band for people who thought B+S weren’t indie enough after they’d committed the crime of selling plenty of records; or – fair enough – the much bigger crime of releasing The Boy With The Arab Strap.

The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir – crazy name, crazy guys – are neither a Police tribute band nor a church-based combo. They claim to be a “a chambery folky punky band” but their 2003 debut I Bet You Say That to All The Boys reveals a batch of songs heavily in debt to Tigermilk. No bad place to be, but I’m hoping for something a little more original when they get round to releasing new material (probably this year).

The Hidden Cameras, if the world was to be believed, were a “gay Canadian Belle and Sebastian”. It’s an angle, I suppose, and played up to indiepop’s detractors who thought Belle and Sebastian were “a gay Scottish indie band”, but the main problem was that the Hidden Cameras forgot to make any great records after Smell Of Our Own four years ago.

Butcher Boy have been much lauded in the indiepop world, but I can’t see it myself. On the basis of them live recently, two songs were both, um, “overly influenced” by A House Is Not A Motel; less acceptably, and very odd indeed, a whole two other songs sounded like tributes to Sultans Of Swing.

Of the other current contenders, Antarctica Takes It sound like they’re doing the business. I emailed them a few weeks ago and they said they had an album coming out on How Does It Feel in “a couple of weeks”, but there’s no mention of it on the HDIF site…still, keep your eyes on ‘em.

Better than them, though, and better than just about every band of any stripe at the moment, is The Young Republic. Their second UK single, Girl From The Northern States, outstrips the competition with crisp, jangling guitars and a rolling, soulful piano that announces quite clearly that – at last! – someone really is writing them like they used to.

Classic songs, all three of them on the ep, that like much of the very best music – and this is the very best music – has one eye on the past while moving forward. They play tonight at the Social, then
26 Jun 2007 20:00
Red Roaster, Brighton w/Thirty Pounds of Bone, Birdengine Brighton

27 Jun 2007 17:30
Resident Records Instore, Brighton

27 Jun 2007 22:00

28 Jun 2007 17:00

28 Jun 2007 20:00
The Enterprise, Camden w/AHAB London

30 Jun 2007 20:00
The Spitz London

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Youtube festival

Stockholm Monsters - Party Line
Played live, this – and I don’t use the word lightly – classic loses something of its statuesque, anthemic quality, but gains more in added spectrality. New Order would have loved to have written this song. Not saying they could have mind, but any NO album – most albums by anyone, in fact - would sound better with Party Line (Peter Hook produced nearly all SM records, by the way, under the name ‘Be Music’). There’s something in the Stockholm Monsters’ sound that prefigures Pulp as well.

Television -- Tom Verlaine teaching Richard Hell "Venus"

Tom Verlaine teaching Richard Hell "Venus" Part 2
Civilisation has probably advanced to a point where we are all wise enough, sophisticated enough and cultural enough to be in accord that Marquee Moon is one of the towering giants of human artistic endeavour.

Here we have truculence, frayed tempers, frustration and lassitude to the fore in this snapshot of master and apprentice. A bit like Michaelangelo having Tracey Emin in his studio.

You Made Me Realise - My Bloody Valentine
It still sounds monumental and intense. Nobody else has ever written them quite like this, before or since. Probably not enough footage of drummer Colm O’Ciosoig for my liking, but we all have our crosses to bear.

Harvey Williams – You Should All Be Murdered
In anticipation of Harvey taking to the London stage on August 10 ably supporting Rose Melberg, here’s the fellow at April’s popfest in NYC. Buy tickets for the gig here.

I Started A Joke – The Bee Gees
Robin at his most trembling, vulnerable, lovesick and remorseful, this surely stands as testament to the Gibbs’ songwriting magic and an example of why Idea is one of the greatest albums of the 1960s.

For those of you based in London, JBs in Hanway St have the Bee Gees Rhino box set for £25, at least £20 cheaper than anywhere else. It makes sense, it really does.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Only Ones reformation

“Live it’s just for the moment and the buzz you get. I’d forgotten how much of a buzz I got. In the intervening years I tended to look back thinking of all the hard work. I did a gig recently at the Camden Underworld and I just came on and played one song (the Heart Throbs backed him on Another Girl Another Planet) and I couldn’t sleep for two days afterwards. It was such a buzz. Much better than any drug I’ve taken. It’s just ridiculous that I’ve allowed drugs to stop me feeling that way. Which is why I ultimately stopped making music. I was so numbed by drugs I wasn’t feeling it.”

That was Peter Perrett in 1992. It took another three years until he released something, an ep under the band name The One, and four years until the triumphant return on album, Woke Up Sticky, as Peter Perrett and The One, which at the time I had down as the year’s best album (although in retrospect, Tigermilk has probably won out).

Then, of course, eleven years of nothing. A mobile phone advert recently gifted him £40,000 which he blew on smack in a few months (I was actually told £400,000, but surely that can’t be true, so I took a 0 off. You know how these things can get exaggerated).

On Saturday night, The Only Ones played a set of searing intensity inspired by The Who’s punch, Ray Davies’ lyrical bite, Keith “Keef!” Richards’ mangled guitar and Lou Reed’s druggy drawl.

Now, I yield to no one in my distaste for reformed bands parading faded tricks for a pension top-up on the oldies circuit, but there are a few reformations that channel the spirit of the original band and capture the very energy that fired them in the first place.

This gig was one of those times. Hampered by drugs, acrimony and CBS pressurising them to have a hit record, The Only Ones died a premature death. I was very happy to see them play a life-affirming set, to hear Another Girl Another Planet – the greatest single ever? Well, of course it is – live, to have men of a certain vintage turn round, fix me with wide, disbelieving grins and nod in affirmation as if to say, “It’s fucking brilliant. You know that, I know that and everybody here knows that.”

The reason why The Only Ones failed to achieve superstardom first time round is that even though they had punk’s energy and bile, they weren’t really punk. Or, as Johnny Thunders put it to Perrett: “If you fitted in more then you could make it easy.”

Perrett, looking back on The Only Ones’ initial incarnation at some distance of time, said: “I’ve never liked conforming to anything. We were just into music. The most important thing is what’s in people’s minds. It doesn’t really matter what the people behind me looked like at all, they were playing exciting music. Music’s all about emotions, not what people look like.”

While it is safe to say The Only Ones weren’t punk, they came close to fitting the bill largely because of Perrett’s image, drug-intake and nihilism (“I always flirt with death, I look ill but I don’t care about it.” Put that in your hash pipe and smoke it, Sid Vicious).

However, the rest of the band only got into punk venues in the late 70s because they were on the bill. I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised a couple of years ago when a mate came back from playing cricket in one of the minor North London leagues to reveal excitedly that John Perry, Only Ones guitarist, had been umpiring. Perrett’s two sons also play in that league, fact fans.

There was one new song played on Saturday night. It didn’t strike me immediately, but it’s too early and it was the wrong environment to judge it properly . Listen instead to Woke Up Sticky.

Some favourite Perrett facts:

● He wouldn’t sing during a Peel session until a roadie had been sent on a 20-mile trip to his house to pick up his shades.

●He had to be smuggled out of America, seven dates into a 20-date support tour with The Who, after deliberately running over a six-foot Chinese car park attendant who had been hassling him.

●A young Johnny Marr got kicked out of The Only Ones’ dressing room more than once.

●He could do algebra at the age of 5 because his dad, who left school at 12, “thought education was really important”.

●He wasn’t allowed into maths lessons during his last year at boarding school because he started a fire on his desk.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Exodus Live At The Rainbow

Press release ahoy:

Screenings of ‘Exodus Live at The Rainbow’ To Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of
Bob Marley’s Year in London Exile

The 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s year in London exile and the release of Exodus is celebrated this summer with special screenings of Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus Live At The Rainbow in six Odeon cinemas, from Manchester to Basingstoke, on June 26th. There will also be a special VIP screening at the Odeon in Covent Garden on June 19th, which will include an introduction and Q&A by Stephen Marley. The
details are:

June 19th
Exclusive VIP screening at the Odeon Covent Garden, 135 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8AH ( / Filmline: 0871 22 44 007). All those attending will have the chance to enter a competition to win exclusive Bob Marley Gibson guitars in aid of the Nordoff-Robbins Trust.

June 26th
Regional screenings at Odeons in: Manchester, Greenwich, Covent Garden, Basingstoke, Hatfield and Surrey Quays. The screenings will also show the Stephen Marley introduction and Q&A filmed at the screening on June 19th. For more info on these screenings please visit

A specially packaged 30th Anniversary DVD of Exodus Live at the Rainbow will be released through Island Records on Monday 18th June. Exodus Live At The Rainbow is taken from four nights Bob Marley & The Wailers played at The Rainbow in Finsbury Park in the first week of June 1977. Performing in front of Neville Garrick’s spectacular painted stage backdrop representing the Lion of Judah, they were performing – alongside many familiar songs – the material from Exodus, their fifth
studio album for Island Records, the product of several months spent in exile in London after the attempted assassination of Bob at his home in Jamaica on the evening of December 3rd 1976, two days before he was scheduled to appear at the Smile Jamaica concert, an event devised to help bring peace to a country then riven by political and gang warfare.

Monday 4th June saw the release of Exodus on four different audio formats, including standard CD, deluxe CD and classic vinyl as well as the groundbreaking new format of USB Memory Stick.

Exodus, a special edition, 144-page hardback book, which includes the full CD, is published on Thursday 7th June.

Originally released on Friday 3rd June, 1977, Exodus became the transforming album in Marley’s career, a recording of extraordinary creative maturity which resonated with audiences around the world. Exodus – which stayed on the UK chart for 56 consecutive weeks - established Marley as the Third World’s first superstar, a legacy that survives thirty years after the album’s release.
If anyone buys the memory stick version, do let me know, and also let me know where you live so that I might come round to your house and give you a slap. That's how hard I am.

Monday, June 04, 2007

MJ Hibbett versus The Chemistry Experiment

Many months ago – so many, in fact, that it was actually LAST YEAR – I sent The Chemistry Experiment some questions for them to answer. Let’s call it an INTERVIEW because that’s what it WAS.

Now, I appreciate that they are INTERNATIONAL RECORDING STARS, but I didn’t BARGAIN for them being quite so FECKLESS and drug-addled that this might be too much trouble.

I am happy to recognise that in retrospect some of the questions aren’t that GOOD, but there are two that I wanted answered. A gallant MJ Hibbett stepped forward to answer them in their STEAD so that we might be apprised of The Truth and that a lesson in Interview Technique and Manners could be taught.

Thanks, Mark.

If you all had names like The Edge and Sting rather than Steve and Paul would you sell more records?
YES - but only as long as they changed the name of the band to U2 or The Police instead...actually, that's not a bad idea, do you think anybody would mind if I changed my name to The Beatles?

Who would win in a fight, MJ "Mark" Hibbett or a dinosaur?
What a silly question - what TYPE of dinosaur eh? I could HAVE a Compsognathus but I'd probably not fancy myself against a Iguanodon, especially if it'd been drinking Stella. Nasty.

Perhaps in return for your kindness, Mark, I could offer you some advice on how to sell more records. In 1993 Boom! Shake The Room won the Smash Hits Readers’ Poll Best Single prize, pipping Go West by the Pet Shop Boys to the post. A beleaguered Neil Tennant observed rather accurately that if they’d called their effort “Boom! Go West!” they would’ve won.

To this end, might I suggest you prefix all of your songs with the word “Boom!” to maximize sales figures and chart-domination potential (“Boom! She Tastes Like Sugar” “Boom! Chips And Cheese Pint Of Wine” and so on). Don’t forget to buy me a pint of wine when you’re a millionaire recording star.

Finally, and most importantly, in the light of Mark’s good work here and his much greater work for many great ends, I have started a petition to have his efforts recognised in Mr Blair’s Resignation Honours List. Please look at the petition. I hope you sign it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Laughing Apple

“We were initially inspired when we first heard the Sex Pistols in 1977, & decided to buy instruments”
sleeve notes to The ha ha hee hee! ep

In 1978, Alan McGee, Andrew Innes and Bobby Gillespie formed a band. A terrible punk band, in fact; one of the many who showed that the "here is a chord: now hit it” approach to forming a band wasn’t quite so easy. McGee remembers Gillespie’s “vocals” as screaming while rolling around on the floor.

Four rehearsals later and that band imploded. Innes and McGee joined future Commotion Neil Clarke in H20, who eventually found synth-pop chart fame in 1983. McGee explained: "I was only in the band for three weeks, and four gigs. But Andrew Innes and Neil Clarke also were both in H2O - if I'm gonna take the blame, then they may as well get it too! They we realised it was gonna be crap so we left and formed Newspeak, and then we formed the Laughing Apple.”

The Laughing Apple’s debut, The ha ha hee hee ep, is, if not crap itself, then far from fully formed. Released on their own Autonomy label in 1981, it mines a seam of agitated Talking Heads-style punk with keyboard overload – only with song titles such as “Chips For Tea” and “I’m Okay” - similar to the way The Go-Betweens came unstuck on their Send Me A Lullaby debut, only much worse.

The second Autonomy release, is Partcipate!/Wouldn’t You?, two mod classics of urgent guitars and passionate frenzy that would be a foretaste of Biff Bang Pow!’s first steps and co-Creation conspirators The Jasmine Minks’ similarly intense drive.

A final release on their own Essential label in 1982, Celebration/Precious Feeling, showcases the only Laughing Apple songs credited to just McGee, rather than the band. Obviously influenced by the prevailing goth wind of the time and showing too much interest in the Joy Division back catalogue, this release doesn’t merit your listening time.

I’ve uploaded Participate! and Wouldn't You?, the finest Laughing Apple output, so you can hear two great songs, which seem to still be overlooked, stepping stones to Biff Bang Pow! and the early Creation Records' sound.

Bobby Gillespie designed both of the Autonomy sleeves – no information is given about the Essential release. Gillespie worked in a print factory for a short time after leaving school at 16 and made a contact enabling him to arrange their printing. This was to be very handy to Creation in their early days, too.

Curiously, "The first-ever Primal Scream gig was at the Bungalow Bar in Paisley", Gillespie claimed. "We supported the Laughing Apple. Only one song in the set was ours, and I remember it was just total noise. That wasn't a real gig, it was a joke. There wasn't any shape to it."

Quotes from a Record Collector article by John Reed, May 1994.

Friday, June 01, 2007

MJ Hibbett and the ukulele hip hop experience

“MJ Hibbett is who I am and I told my mum that I would never make a wack jam”

Leicester via London lungsmith MJ Hibbett has launched his own YouTube channel. If you’ve been to a gig in the past decade, you’ve probably stumbled across him live (unless you’ve really only ever been to Tina Turner at Wembley, in which case that was a support slot he didn’t bag) and witnessed the greatness that is his cover version of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s Boom! Shake The Room.

MJ has recorded a special ukulele version. He explains: “I'm planning to do a few UKELELE [editor’s note: punk rock spelling MJ’s own] songs. I started doing this in response to a call in Word Magazine for people to cover modern pop songs on old fashioned instruments as part of a competition to play at The Cornbury Festival - three weeks in and I'm STILL the only entrant - and enjoyed it so much I thought I might as well carry on!”

You will, I am quite certain, want to watch MJ “hyped up, psyched up” and “work the booty”, one “smooth individual, rhymes original” who’s – brace yourselves – “the driver and you’re all on a rap ride”.

For those of you new to the Hibbett experience, MJ thoughtfully provides directions and prompts for the full call-and-response interaction. (To fully recreate the live experience, may I suggest you get cunted on several pints from plastic glasses, stuff your pockets with flyers, hold a Fortuna Pop CD you’ve liberated from the merch desk and talk loudly for half an hour while The Chemistry Experiment ply their trade. This is achievable in your bedroom. You need never go to the Bull and Gate again.)

If that weren’t enough giddy excitement for one day, you can also watch the video to MJ’s new single The Gay Train. No expense was spent on this video, but of course that only adds to its myriad charms. If anyone can tell me from where the keyboard line might have, um, “found its inspiration” please say, as I can’t quite pin it down.

I note that MJ has a wikipedia entry, which itself notes that he is “often compared to Billy Bragg”. Following protocol, Boom! Shake The Room sounds a lot like Billy Bragg (except it doesn’t).

I suspect that this isn't quite enough MJ to sate the voracious appetites some of you have for all things MJ, so I will add the ephemera that one of his new songs, My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once, might be inspired by Sean Price of Fortuna Pop's situation, as his boss was in The Candy Darlings, who - and this, I agree, may be stretching things - a couple of you might remember from their 1990 single, That's Where Caroline Lives.

However, there is a school of thought that insists it is actually about Phil Wilson, who has quite a High Up position in the Civil Service, and meets fellow veterans of his era in the CORRIDORS OF POWER. The Civil Service - it's full of ex-indiepoppers, you know.