Thursday, November 15, 2007

Music Matters

Morphing Into A Music Blog (9):

The usual drill: sprinkle in a few hat tips to where politics and popular music try and intersect; mention a couple of obscure bands - the more dated the better - to make me seem more interesting by association; link to incredibly popular music blogs so that they might notice me for ten seconds; and a mention of the Scotland football team and their date with glorious failure this coming Saturday:

  • "Jesus wept -- I'm 54.": So said Andy Partridge. Last Sunday saw Mr P's unhappy birthday and another excellent song installment from the XTC Myspace page. This week the 1978 single, 'This Is Pop', comes under scrutinisation.
    And I totally get where Andy P. is coming from with regards to the similarities between 50s Skiffle and Punk: what were the TV Personalities, if not a punk version of Lonnie Donegan Xs 2?
  • Not Enough Protest Songs: Brilliant post over at The Gaping Silence blog, where Phil dissects the lyrics of the Dexy's classic, 'There There, My Dear'. I must have listened to that song hundreds of times over the years, but it was only now that I've read Phil's post that I finally get what Kevin Rowland was singing in the second verse. Yep the lyrics are two-parts bonkers to one-part brilliance but I'll always have a soft spot for the couplet:
    Robin, you’re always so happy, how the hell?
    You’re like a dumb, dumb patriot.

    That rabbit punch will never get old.
  • Nothing But Protest Songs: One of the best protest 'singers' out there at the moment bar none is The Coup's Boots Riley. The latest issue of the CPGB/Weekly Worker's student freesheet, 'Communist Student', has an interesting article by John Jo Sidwell on the music, politics and history of The Coup. (The article is on page 2 of the PDF linked.)
    Also, check out the story about the original artwork for the cover of The Coup's 2001 album, 'Party Music', and wonder what might have been.
  • The Truth Can Often Be Painful: A sensitive and thoughtful post over at Vinyl Villain about Edwyn Collins and his recent rehabilitation from the life threatening cerebral hemorrhage that struck him down in 2005. With regards to the Artworks Scotland programme on Collins that is mentioned in the post, I downloaded it a few months back via UK Nova, but I've yet to watch it. I'm not sure if I could handle the uneasiness of watching someone so literate and witty picking the pieces of his life up after such a tragedy.
  • Busted Noses and Bruised Dreams: Is it just me or does the young raffish Pete Wylie look like Steve Bruce in this old Top of the Pops clip? Cheers to Danny over at the Socialist Unity Blog comments box - getting mighty crowded there these days - for the hat tip about the YouTube clip.
    Pete Wylie really is/was a legend of sorts . . . or at least that's what it says on his website. And spare a thought for Steve Bruce. He's never going to get the Old Trafford gig (Mark Hughes and Roy Keane are ahead of him in the 'old boy to succeed Fergie stakes'), and he's currently caught in a tug-of-war between a midget jazz mag merchant and a union busting and price gouging scumbag. He should have stayed at Selhurst Park under the watchful gaze of tangerine man.
  • Recommended Music Blog of The Moment Too much unused disk space cluttering up your hard drive? Then head over to Rho-Xs and catch your jaw before it hits the floor. Take the excellent Not Rock On, and turn it up to 11: Rho-Xs is that good.
    Latest post on the blog covers 1984 albums by the Eurythmics, Art of Noise and Felt. Granted, those albums don't really float my boat. (Felt, for fucks sake. Indie kids across the bedrooms of suburbia are wetting themselves as I write.), but the blog covers everything from early eighties Belgian post-punk to New York electro to Jamaican dub to "hiphop flamenkillo" from Barcelona. It sounds like an explosion in a John Peel factory.
  • 'The album currently claiming squatting rights on iTunes': It was via Rho-Xs - by way of the 5P music blog - that I recently discovered the brilliant early eighties album, 'A Thin Red Line', by Edinburgh Post-Punksters TV21. To be honest - to paraphrase Renee Zellweger's character in 'Jerry Maguire' - they got me at (pre-maturely) naming their album after what should have been the title of the Crump/Rubel eighties classic.
    I don't get it - how was it that they didn't even dent the lower reaches of the charts or the left-side of my musical consciousness? We're not talking about one of those infamous lost bands from music's murky past who recorded one single in some backwater back in '78, only to break up with bitter recriminations after the single got played on John Peel twice. According to the blurb on the Rho-Xs blog:
    "TV 21 had been always in good company during their brief time together as a band. Teardrop Explodes' Troy Tate produced their first two independent singles. The 1981 album, "A Thin Red Line," was produced by Ian Broudie of the Original Mirrors and later Lightning Seeds. Mike Scott of the Waterboys and Pete Wylie from Wah! make appearances on their lp .They toured with the Undertones and were the opening act for the Rolling Stones for the Scottish dates of their 1982 European tour."

    See what I mean? Look at the names cited. Troy Tate also did the original production work on The Smiths debut album*. Mike Scott is proof needed that I'm not so secularist that I can't tap my toe to tunes from a mystic gobshite, and that man Wylie again. Only a bona fide legend turns up in the unlikeliest of places - and twice in the space of a post on this blog to boot.

    Bit of a happy ending of sorts out of the saddest of circumstances. The band reformed in 2005 to play a gig in appreciation of the legacy of the late John Peel, and decided to carry on from there.

    When in doubt reach for MySpace, where there is a canny page for the band. Check out the reworking/re-recording of 'Something's Wrong' that was on 'A Thin Red Line'. It's as good as the original. And the other new songs on the page that have been uploaded carry themselves off with aplomb. Think The Silencers meet late XTC. I might see you other there. I'll be the one gushing over the track, 'When I Scream'.
  • “Messieurs et Mesdames, Les Ecars…”: OK, sample track of the day. Stick with Edinburgh, stick with early eighties post-punk, and stick with the theme of 'why the hell weren't they more famous?'
    And that's despite being smothered with such prose praise as:
    [they] . . . epitomise the post-punk new seriousness that has radically re-activated pop music, destroying the dichotomy between intelligence and emotion and confronting a whole range of different fears and desires. New pop that treats the transient thrill seriously." [Could only be this bloke in the pages of the NME.]

    . . . the Scars were another Edinburgh band who never made it big. (In retrospect, Josef K seem like superstars by comparison.) Curious as to why they never made their mark. They had the scratchy post-punk guitars that weren't fooling anyone - they could play their instruments. They had the kudos of releasing a single on the Fast Product record label. For a Scottish band they were surprisingly good looking, which probably helped them get their pasty faces in the pages of Smash Hits, but to no avail.

    Arguing from a position of splendid blogging ignorance, maybe being signed to the record label that they were didn't exactly help. Don't be fooled by the 'Pre' record label. It was a subsidiary of Charisma; the home to the likes of Genesis, Peter Hammill and RD Laing. I'd hazard a guess that the Scars were the token punk/post-punk/no wave/new wave band for the label. Well, them and Delta 5, and the record label probably didn't know what the hell to do with them.

    And what was the deal with the Scars naming their only album after what was to be one of the worst films of Al Pacino's career? Sorry a misprint, I meant this sorry excuse of a film. They were just inviting indifference.

    Back to why I think should check out the Scars. Think of a post-punk ménage à trois between The Sound souped up, Josef K and early Wire playing songs that lasted longer one and half minutes, and you get some sense of their musical lovechild that may or may not have resembled the Scars' 'Author! Author!' album.

    The songs that everyone talks about from the album are 'Your Attention Please' and 'All About You', which are both fine songs but I have an especial soft spot for this track:
    'Lady In The Car With Glasses On And A Gun' mp3

    The title of the song suggests it should have been on last The Long Blondes album, but it is in fact the best Josef K song, Franz Ferdinand, Radio 4 and Josef K never wrote. By comparing the sound to Josef K, I'm not accusing the Scars of being copyists. Just trying to bring home to you how good this track is. You should *sample* it now.
  • Progress Report On The Ongoing Attempt To Upgrade The Blog Into A Music Blog 'Fraid it's not going as well as planned. The expanded sidebar, with the new music blog section, only helped to hit home to me how many good bona fide mp3 music blogs there are out there. My attempts at foisting my record collection on an unsuspecting desktop population is rightfully getting lost in the goldrush.
    Also, it doesn't really help that for all after the obscure stuff I've posted on these pages, the mp3 that keeps getting hit upon again and again is John Gordon Sinclair singing 'We Have Dream'.

    Aye, it's the best football song ever committed to vinyl but what happens to the blog come Saturday night? The Italians are going to get the result they need, and Scottish people living in Amersham and Leyton Buzzard will no longer be stumbling across my blog via a google search for that 1982 BA Robertson song.

    Who can honestly contemplate another scenario at Hampden? And what's worse, if he's playing Saturday, it's guaranteed that Italian defensive midfielder, Rino Gattuso, will score with a goal of such sweet majesty that it will make Messi's goal against Getafe look like a tap in.

    Gattuso will leave the pitch with Archie McPherson's knitted saltire wrapped around his shoulders and with tears in his eyes, will warmly embrace a watching Walter Smith whose been sitting in the stands, and in the post-match interview he'll insist that he still has plans to return to Glasgow and Rangers.

    And I'll be left with posting sad bastard tunes by the likes of Smog, the Red House Painters and Arab Strap for the next six months. I may as well jump under a bus right now and get it over and done with.
  • *His production work was scrapped, and John Porter ended up producing the best album of 1984.


    Will said...


    Darren said...

    Strange but true, but I was listening to Sound Affects five minutes before I clicked on your comment.

    That is one hell of a fine album.

    John said...

    Wow. Great post. Are you sick in bed or something?

    Never liked the Jam btw. Saw them once on the big CND rally in 82 or 83, whenever it was, so that doesn't really count. But it was enough.