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SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 118)

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From wiki:-

Urusei Yatsura (うる星やつら) is a comedic manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi and serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday from 1978 to 1987. Its 374 individual chapters were published in 34 tankōbon volumes. It is the story of Ataru Moroboshi, and the alien Lum, who believes she is Ataru’s wife after he accidentally proposes to her. The series makes heavy use of Japanese mythology, culture and puns. The series was adapted into an anime TV series produced by Kitty Films and broadcast on Fuji Television affiliates from 1981 to 1986 with 195 episodes. Eleven OVAs and six theatrical movies followed, and the series was released on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc in Japan.

(oops wrong extract!!!)

Urusei Yatsura were a Glaswegian alternative rock, indie rock band.

Founding members Fergus Lawrie and Graham Kemp met in the summer of 1993, whilst attending the University of Glasgow. They recruited Elaine Graham as bassist, and the line-up was completed with the subsequent addition of Elaine’s brother, Ian Graham, on drums. They took their band name from the manga Urusei Yatsura, written by Rumiko Takahashi, and contributed their first recording, Guitars Are Boring, to a compilation album released by the Kazoo Club. This was based in Glasgow, and run at one point by the future Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos. This record in turn brought them to the attention of the BBC Radio DJ John Peel, who brought them in to do a session.

Over the years they released three albums: We Are Urusei Yatsura (1996), Slain By Urusei Yatsura (1998) and Everybody Loves Urusei Yatsura (2000). Albums in America and Japan were released under the name of Yatsura for legal reasons. The band had one Top 40 hit single, 1997′s “Hello Tiger”, which reached #40 in the UK Singles Chart. Other singles released by the band include “Strategic Hamlets” and “Slain By Elf”.

Urusei Yatsura split in June 2001, leaving Kemp to work on solo material and the other band members to form Projekt A-ko. In 2011, Lawrie formed the three piece band Angel of Everyone Murder with Sarah Glass and Lea Cummings on bass, and released a self-titled double album on Kovorox Sound. The release featured six drone compositions of 15-20 minutes each, made with self modified guitars he called HALO guitars. In 2012, Angel of Everyone Murder 2 was released.

I’ve a number of their releases in the collection. I thought however, it would be just as well sharing the one that so nearly got them fame. Released on 2 x CD singles, it’s a belter of a 45 with equally enjoyable b-sides (and there’s no doubt Alex Kapranos and the rest of Franz Ferdinand were paying attention) while the two other songs from the Peel Session occasionally hint at a slightly more expirimental side of the band:-

mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Vanilla Starlet
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Vent Axia
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Hello Tiger (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Dice, Nae Dice (Peel Session)
mp3 : Urusei Yatsura – Everybody Hang Out (Peel Session)

Enjoy

A LETTER TO ALL TVV READERS

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Dear Friend

I am respectfully asking that you take a few moments to have a read over this very distinguished list of songs:-

Cattle and Cane
Man O’Sand to Girl O’Sea
Bachelor Kisses
Part Company
Spring Rain
Head Full of Steam
Right Here
Cut It Out
I Just Get Caught Out
Bye Bye Pride
Streets of Your Town
Was There Anything I Could Do?
Love Goes On!

The songs have a few things in common:-

- every one of them was a single released by The Go-Betweens in the UK between 1983 and 1989
- every one of them was a flop with the best performing stalling at #80
- every one of them is a fantastic and timeless piece of music that shows no sign of dating
- every one of them is 80s indie-pop at its best

Sometimes I just don’t get it.

Yours

JC
————–

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Spring Rain
mp3 : The Go-Betweens – The Life At Hand
mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Little Joe

This was the first single (and rather wonderful b-sides) lifted from the 1986 LP Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, arguably the band’s most consistent album in terms of quality. Nearly 30 years on and I am still bemused as to why neither Spring Rain nor Head Full Of Steam, the other single lifted from the album, didn’t get the band an appearance on Top of The Pops.

Oh and while I’m here, I’m asking for your indulgence to post another non-single from the album on the basis that there are times when I hear it and think is my favourite ever Go-Betweens song:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – The Wrong Road

The addition of cello, violins and viola take this way out of indie-pop territory and into something quite epic.

Enjoy

THREE CRACKING BITS OF MUSIC ON THIS ’45′

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This, the second single lifted from what turned out to be the final ever LP released on Creation Records, is a mighty fine piece of music.

XTRMNTR had caught out a lot of folk. It was a full-on, in your face aggressive and angry record which didn’t make for easy listening. It had received a huge thumbs-up from the critics who almost universally lauded Primal Scream for having the balls to do something so brash and unexpected while the band had a large enough loyal following to take the LP into the Top 3. But unsurprisingly, the singles lifted from the LP never really got much in the way of radio play and all three of them stalled outside the Top 20.

Things weren’t helped in the case of Kill All Hippies as the band released it in the exact same format as the version which opened the album which means it doesn’t really take off for over a minute which really was commercial suicide when it comes to radio play which, back in 2000, was still very important as the digital internet age in terms of music consumption was really still around the corner.

mp3 : Primal Scream – Kill All Hippies

The second track is a Massive Attack remix of one of the gentler and easier listening tracks on the album. The original version of Exterminator is great but this remix is just stunning…especially when listened to through an expensive set of headphones. There’s just so much going on.

mp3 : Primal Scream – Exterminator (Massive Attack remix)

The single as a whole was dedicated to Curtis Mayfield who had died just a few weeks earlier. The third song was especially written by Primal Scream as a tribute to him and it is funky as fuck:-

mp3 : Primal Scream – The Revenge Of The Hammond Connection

If you’re not dancing around the room having played that last track there is something seriously wrong with you.

PETE DE FREITAS : AN APPRECIATION

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I received a really nice e-mail the other day from Scott who asked if it would be possible to re-post something from the old blog.

It was a piece from 14 June 2009 and it’s title can be found in the first line……

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I cannot believe it was all of 20 years ago…..but it is.

14th June 1989 when the life of Peter Louis Vincent de Freitas ended as the result of a motorcycle accident.

He was 27 years of age. And he was the first dead pop star I ever shed a tear for.

Born in 1961 in Trinidad, Pete de Freitas was a bit of a posh boy, educated at a famous Roman Catholic public school near Bath, England, and while he was far from dim, he was never keen on pursing an academic career. So by the age of 19, he was living in London, sharing digs with another lad from his old school, and both of them dreaming of forming a band.

Pete’s flatmate had a big brother who was involved in the music industry, part of an ever-growing new scene on Liverpool. That big brother and his close mate started staying overnight at Pete’s place whenever any of the bands they were involved with played in London. Pete would sometimes go along to the gigs, which is what he did one August night in 1979.

Pete’s flatmate’s brother was David Balfe, and his mate was Bill Drummond. The band they took Pete to see at the YMCA on Tottenham Court Road was Echo & The Bunnymen – a three-piece act backed by a drum machine. The drum machine was in fact ‘Echo’, the humans were ‘The Bunnymen’ – Ian McCulloch (vocals), Les Pattinson (bass) and Will Sargeant (guitar)

The band were getting a lot of attention, but it was widely felt that they would sound a lot better with a real drummer. Within 12 months of seeing them for the first time, Pete had that gig, just in time for the recording of the band’s second single, but their first for a major label.

From 1980 – 1986, Echo & The Bunnymen were one of the most entertaining bands on the entire planet. All four band members contributed to the songwriting, which showed in the magnificently tight unit that was the guitarist, bassist and drummer, while up front they had a hugely charismatic singer who was not slow in offering his opinions on any subject under the sun. They attracted a huge following, many of whom dressed in identical clothes and wore their hair in the same way as their idols. They enjoyed Top 30 success with seven of their singles, but it was their LPs which found them at their best, all four of them going Top 10.

Live, they were truly electrifying, with shows that stretched out for well over two hours featuring not just the hits, but great and unusual versions of album tracks as well as a handful of covers from many of their own influences.

Many people associated with the band, not least their larger than life manager and the frontman had predicted massive things for the 1984 LP Ocean Rain. And while it sold in impressive numbers, it didn’t conquer the world….

The band began to drift apart in some ways. First of all, McCulloch recorded a solo single. The others started producing and appearing on records by other bands. And in 1986, Pete de Freitas left the band.

Along with two members of the Bunnymen road crew, he took himself off to the USA to form The Sex Gods. The idea was to take the money he had made from his time as a Bunnyman, head off to places like New York, New Orleans and Jamaica, filming themselves as they went along living a truly hedonistic life. It was a bender to end all benders.

There were drunken rows, drug busts, near fatal car crashes amidst the chaos. Later on Pete de Freitas would admit he was going insane. He was eventually brought back to the UK by Bill Drummond.

He was temporarily replaced as the drummer, but the rest of the band soon realised how much they needed him, and he was allowed to re-join.

Echo & The Bunnymen released an album in 1987 called The Game – this time with very little hyperbole, and although it went to #4 in the UK charts, critical reaction was lukewarm. This time it was singer Ian McCulloch who decided that enough was enough, and he quit in 1988, intent on the solo career.

The other three decided to keep going, on the basis that having failed to really crack America with Mac at the helm, they could maybe succeed with someone different, unlikely as it might seem. The new recruit was Noel Burke, ex-frontman of St Vitus Dance….and someone who sort of looked and sounded like Mac….

The new line up were in rehearsals in Liverpool in June 1989, and Pete de Freitas was on his way there when he crashed his motorcycle on a back road near Rugely in Staffordshire. As I mentioned earlier, he was just 27 years old.

Years later, Les Pattinson in an interview with a music magazine said that he still thought of Pete every day. At his funeral, the three remaining original Bunnymen cried their eyes out….albeit McCulloch could not bring himself to speak to Pattinson and Sergeant for what he considered a betrayal in replacing him as singer.

I remember reading about Pete’s death in a newspaper the next day. My eyes welled up and my throat tightened. The man who I thought was the coolest man on planet pop was no more.

Quite a few years earlier, not far from my school, I had seen a motorcycle accident when the unfortunate rider was hit by a bus whose driver couldn’t have seen him. It was an incident that I hadn’t thought about much since, but it was the vision that flashed before my eyes as I read the paper, and it was something that gave me some sleepless nights over the next few weeks. Even as I type this, I can see that accident from over 30 years ago….all triggered off by the premature and sad death of a pop star.

You’ll see from the photo above that Pete was good-looking man. He was someone who just about everyone I ever went out with during my years at University would admit to fancying. When you heard about the way he lived his life, you just wanted to be him.

He was only two years older than me. And while I have had a great and memorable almost 46 years on this planet, there’s still a part of me that wishes that I had lived his life for just one day…as long as that day wasn’t June 14th 1989.

R.I.P. Pete de Freitas. I still think of you every time one of your songs comes on my i-pod….

mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – All My Colours
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Nocturnal Me
mp3 : The Wild Swans – Revolutionary Spirit
mp3 : The Colourfield – Take
mp3 : Echo & The Bunnymen – Do It Clean (live – 1983)

Footnote

There were a lot of really nice comments left behind after the piece appeared, many of them thanking me for such a heartfelt tribute.

A few months later I received the most wonderful e-mail from Pete’s daughter. Lucie-Marie de Freitas was a very young girl when her father died, of an age before she could develop any memories of him.

Her e-mail explained that the treasure trove of songs, articles and videos have helped her learn so much about her father and the incredible impact he had in his short time on earth. She thought it was remarkable and moving that so many people still remembered him after all those years and she thanked me for the tribute I had made.

Talk about leaving me speechless.

 

G’DAY FROM OUR ANZAC CORRESPONDENT : DOOZIES FROM DOWN UNDER (4)

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Craig sent this over at the beginning of the month with the intention of it appearing on Tuesday 4 November.  The only problem was that I was too busy at the time to deal with blog related things (including e-mails) and so his clevr idea of inking it directly to a hugely important date in the Australian sporting/social calendar doesn’t quite work….but it’s all down to me. Anyways…..

The first Tuesday in November means it’s Melbourne Cup time here in Australia. A cause for great celebration for many reasons, “the (horse) race that stops a nation” is an event that is looked forward to by millions all round Australia, and the rest of the world too (not least the international pickpocketing communityapparently!)

Many people in Australia have it marked in their calendar as ‘Melbourne Cup weekend’, as the Tuesday is a public holiday, so no point going to work/school on the Monday is there? or for some, the Friday prior to, and/or the Wednesday as well.

Run over 3,200 metres, in Melbourne, in Springtime (the weather is often either really hot, or raining, or a bit of both), the race is notoriously hard to pick a winner, so i’m giving you three ‘firsts’ as my picks this year – ‘

mp3 : The Marching Girls – First In Line
mp3 : The Stemms – At First Sight
mp3 : Sounds Like Sunset – First Time

The Marching Girls are from NZ while the others are both Australian.

Hope you enjoy these… we’re off to the beach for a few days

Cheers

Craig

THE JAMES SINGLES (20)

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With apologies for the past two weeks of repeat postings.

There are occasions when pressures of work and other commitments mean I can’t devote all that much time to the blog. I always try to have at least a week’s worth of postings ready in advance to cover eventualities but I had just about emptied the well quite recently and as I can load up about 5 old posts in the time it takes me to compose a single new post I bought myself a bit of breathing space.

So here I am back with the series on singles from James.

It had been three years since James had last unleashed any new material on the public.

The band had come very close to breaking up at the tail end of 1995 thanks to a combination of tensions among members exacerbated by a very unexpected and very large tax bill covering a period when they had first tasted success.

There were was a degree of profile as Tim Booth had worked with composer Angelo Badalementi, and with contributions from Bernard Butler, an LP entitled Booth and The Bad Angel had surfaced in 1996 including a hit single in I Believe.

The following year the band, but without Tim, began to re-visit some material previously recorded with Brian Eno as well as start work on new songs in a studio in Wales.  It wasn’t an easy or seemingly an enjoyable experience, certainly in the initial stages, but very slowly the semblance of a new LP began to be knitted together with Tim sending vocal contributions from New York.

When Tim returned back to the UK the band and record label decided it would be an idea to finish things off by bringing in uber-producer Stephen Hague to deliver a commercial radio-friendly finish.  The first material anyone got to here was this single in February 1997:-

mp3 : James – She’s A Star

It became a Top 10 hit in the UK, helped by the fact that the band were willing to go out on the telly/chat-show circuit to give it maximum possible publicity.  It also came with a stylish and expensive video.

There was one really annoying thing though for band completists, namely that the single came in 3 x CD versions, although there was no vinyl issue.  The first CD featured live versions of two very old James songs as recorded the Alton Towers gig back in 1992, the second CD offered three new songs and CD 3 had two remixes of She’s A Star, plus – and I’m certain this was done by the record label out of spite to piss off fans who had moaned about remixes – the Weatherall mix of Come Home which was its third(!!!) appearance as James b-side.

mp3 : James – Stutter (live)
mp3 : James – Johnny Yen (live)
mp3 : James – Chunney Chops
mp3 : James – Fishknives
mp3 : James – Van Gogh’s Dog
mp3 : James – She’s A Star (Dave Angel’s PAT Mix)
mp3 : James – She’s A Star (Andrea’s Biosphere Dub)

The big problem for me is that She’s A Star is a really disappointing 45 particularly compared to the pre-fame and fortune  material.  While I hadn’t liked the stadium-rock material of the Sound era I could understand in some ways what the band were setting out to do and they had made a great comeback with Laid.  But for the first time ever, I found myself using the word boring to describe a James single.  And I haven’t changed my mind all these years later,

Turning to the other tracks.

The two live songs are fine but both are drawn out to almost 7 minutes in length and while I’m sure this it must have been a real treat for fans  who went to Alton Towers  they don’t match the intensity of the live versions released many year previously on One Man Clapping. (It was also the second time Stutter had been released as a live b-side having done so on Come Home a number of years earlier)

The new songs contain some of the worst bits of music the band have ever released and in days of yore would surely have been consigned to the bin.

The first minute and a half or of Chunney Chops is really instrumental bland synth-pop that just gets on my nerves.  It is the sort of music that Genesis began to make when Phil Collins talked them out of being a prog band and into the pop charts in the mid 80s.  Yup… that bad.  And and while the remaining three and a half minutes do feature what sounds like a half decent Tim vocal it is mixed low behind an awful bit of annoying music.

The third track – Van Gogh’s Dog actually opens with a great deal of promise.  A slow number with a bit of noodly synth music in the background…something a bit different appears to be coming our way.  And then, just a minute or so into the song it becomes almost a lazy pastiche of With Or Without You by U2…made worse by Tim doing a bit of falsetto singing that would get him booed off most stages if he was a support act.

Which makes it such a shock that the middle track of the new songs – Fishknives – is so bloody brilliant.  Yup it is more electronic than James fans were used to but it has a soundtrack quality to it that brings to mind some of the work of David Holmes.

The remixes?   Well it’s 12 minutes of music that is supposed to resemble She’s A Star.  The Dave Angel mix for the most part doesn’t as so that’s a blessing.  But it is , like the Jam J stuff, an acquired taste.

The other mix, which was produced by Norewagian electronics wizard Geir Jenssen, turns out to be the release’s true saving grace.  All the bombast of the single is replace by wonderful keyboard noises backing a most gorgeous and understated sounding vocal from Tim…..it’s only when you listen closely that you realise it is the same vocal as the single but here it seems to find its rightful place.

Totally unexpected and so out of place on what really is a sub-standard release.

THE MOZ SINGLES (Parts 36 & 37)

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(Back in the original airings of this series in 2008/09 I was simply intending to feature what was, up until that point in time, just the 37 UK singles.  But then I decided I’d also feature two single released only in the USA)

It really is quite strange that  both Tomorrow and Now My Heart Is Full are among the best tracks Morrissey has  recorded in his solo career and way superior to many of the singles that have been inflicted upon us in the UK.

Tomorrow is the closing track on the 1992 LP Your Arsenal, and once you get past the plodding guitars of the opening 20 seconds you will find the great man delivering one of his most pleading lovelorn lyrics over a tune that does give a reminder of by The Smiths.  I’m assuming that having already lifted three singles from the ten tracks on the LP it was just a step too far for the record label to bring this out, but I reckon it would have been a single that would have gotten radio play and appealed to non-Morrissey fans.

mp3 : Morrissey – Tomorrow

One of the b-sides was Pashernate Love which had already been released in the UK as one of the b-sides to You’re The One For Me Fatty, but Let The Right One Slip In was a new song, a more than decent track that features a really understated vocal delivery and that was probably worthy of a place on Your Arsenal – although with its rather abrupt fade-out it was perhaps thought not to be quite the finished article. And until the re-release of Viva Hate in 1997 as part of the centenary celebrations of EMI Records, it was a track only available on the import single:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Let The Right One Slip In

Now if it was a mistake not to release Tomorrow as a single, it was a despicable crime worthy of hanging for the failure to put Now My Heart Is Full out as a 45.

The opening song on the 1994 LP Vauxhall And I.

It’s my long-held view that this is one of the finest tunes and lyrics that Morrissey has ever produced in his solo career that now stretches back some 20 years…

There’s gonna be some trouble
A whole house will need re-building
And everyone I love in the house
Will recline on an analyst’s couch quite soon
Your Father cracks a joke
And in the usual way
Empties the room

Tell all of my friends
I don’t have too many
Just some rain-coated lovers’ puny brothers

Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt
Rush to danger
Wind up nowhere
Patric Doonan – raised to wait
I’m tired again, I’ve tried again
And now my heart is full
Now my heart is full
And I just can’t explain
So I won’t even try to

Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt
Every jammy Stressford poet
Loafing oafs in all-night chemists
Loafing oafs in all-night chemists
Underact – express depression
Ah, but Bunnie I loved you
I was tired again I’ve tried again,
And now my heart is full
Now my heart is full
And I just can’t explain
So I won’t even try to

Could you pass by ?
Could you pass by ?
Will you pass by ?
Could you pass by ?
Could you pass by ?
Oh … Now my heart is full
Now my heart is full
And I just can’t explain
So … slow …

It’s those three lines about friends…and not having that many that bring a lump to my throat just about every time I play this song. I know many people think a lot of Morrissey’s lyrics are autobiographical – and that may well be true. But in my mind, this song belongs to the same protagonist who just a decade earlier was crying out that he was human and needed to be loved in How Soon Is Now?

Remember how that protagonist had the club where he liked to go, where he stood on his own, and he left on his own and he went home and he cried and he wanted to die? Well…I reckon one day he just plucked up the courage to go to the club and actually meet the someone who really loves him. The problem is, that 10 years later, that the love is dying……slowly and painfully. And our protagonist is left with just a bunch of memories and reference points…..

Or maybe I’m just talking bollocks???

mp3 : Morrissey – Now My Heart Is Full

The UK record label thought Hold On To Your Friends would be a better single – they were clearly correct given that it reached a magnificent #47 in the charts and remains, even to this day, the lowest place any of his singles have ever reached.

The US label included Moonriver as a b-side (as it was with Hold On To Your Friends) but it also added a great live song taken from a concert in Paris in 1992:-

mp3 : Morrissey – Jack The Ripper (live)

You’ll hopefully recall that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the live versions of Jack The Ripper have always been much better than the studio version issued on the Certain People I Know single. Well, now you have the proof.

 

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