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FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (26)

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The Shoebox of Delights – #11 – Chosen by Dirk (Sexy Loser)
JJ72 – JJ72

JJ72_band_1285674705I’ll start with a story.

Earlier today I went to the beach with my daughter, as we sat on the seafront eating an ice cream (her chocolate, me strawberry), we saw a man being hassled by seagulls, they wanted his chips and so did he. In keeping with a recent theme, he through a cup of coffee at it. He missed and hit a passing vicar who was cycling past on a bike. That made my day. It has nothing to do with the music below, it was just funny. I wish I’d filmed it. Anyway….

Does anyone actually remember JJ72? I have to admit I had forgotten that they even existed. When I pulled this CD out of the box, I thought about them for the first time in about seven years and that may just be the reason why people forgot about them.

So you probably already know that JJ72 were a teen guitar trio from Dublin who said at the time of their arrival that they wanted to make music that makes people feel like they’ve never felt before’. That is quite a statement, Phil Collins already makes music that me feel like I’ve never felt before, but I would imagine that is an altogether different feeling to the one they meant. This was their debut album and whilst it was an ambitious and in parts brilliant debut album – it never achieved the soaring heights I think people expected it to.

JJ72 have a bit of Joy Division fixation I think it is fair say that, and this record tries to do what Joy Division did so effectively. The record is at times very emotional, then it is tender and then powerful. It does of course, contain tunes, lots of them. Firstly and probably most specifically is the angst ridden railing at the sky of their most well known single Snow in which singer Mark Greaney doesn’t just sing at the lack of the white snow but he growls, screeches like a banshee and positively has a hissy fit at it, ‘Why won’t it snow?’ he hollers, yes why won’t it? Apart from it being August, I can think no other reason for it not snowing when I played this earlier today. I wanted it to snow just so see what happened to his voice after that. I hate to think what would have happened if it was just sleet. Bastard weather, never does what you want it to.

mp3 : JJ72 – Snow

Perhaps the best Joy Division impression can be seen in the brooding sprawl of guitars and electronica that is Long Way South but there are other influences there, there is the rawness and dare I say it melancholy of Bends era Radiohead and then soft bit followed loud bit subtly of Nirvana. The Radiohead comparison I think is underlined the most with the swooning brilliance of this:-

mp3 : JJ72 – Surrender

Elsewhere the record is teeming with ideas, second single Oxygen has the downright cheek to use an orchestra and sweeping strings and made it sound fantastic. This despite the strings bit in indie records being the most deeply unfashionable and rubbish thing to do since the Manic Street Preachers did it on every single record they released from 1995 – 2001.  JJ72 also includes a track (Algeria) that makes use of handclaps and one that even manages to feature a xylophone (Not Like You), neither are that memorable in terms of their musical greatness.

mp3 : JJ72 – Oxygen

One thing that is memorable is of course, the voice of the singer Mark Greaney. Its somewhere between Fergal Sharkey and Jeff Buckley, or like Brian from Placebo on a 40 a day habit, only far less irritating and I think something of an acquired taste (think defrocked choirboy). At times, I cannot fathom out what he is going on about. Though when it comes together with the music behind it, I am lost as to why JJ72 just slipped out of the back door without anyone noticing. They and this should have been huge so what happened?

At the time JJ72 had plenty of airplay, that if dolled out to a band today would result in them being hugely popular. They had the press excited, they had crowds cheering them at nearly every festival worth its salt and for about two months tracks like Oxygen and October Swimmer made them a captivating and intriguing band, full of passion and ambition.

mp3 : JJ72 – October Swimmer
mp3 : JJ72 – Long Way South

But, today, well if you have never heard JJ72 then I’ll be honest, they ain’t going to change your life and it is difficult to see why everyone found this band so captivating. I’ve listened to this album twice today, and, now, it seems so naïve and a bit self indulgent. I’m aware that sounds patronising and I’ll also say that all three of them individually have more musical talent in their toenails than I do in my entire body, but it does. It just does. It’s still good, it still deserves your attention, but you will have forgotten about it come Christmas.

S-WC

JC adds…..

Being honest, I couldn’t have told you the first thing about JJ72 before this post but then I listened to the tracks S-WC attached to the e-mail and realised I knew a couple of them.  So many bands of that particular era seemed to pull off trick but then again its an age thing.

What I mean by that is that there will be plenty of late 20 and early 30 somethings who will have thought of JJ72 as the future of rock’n’roll – which I can completely understand – in the same way that I can sing-along to every word of every Jam, New Order and Smiths b-side or album track then there will be devotees of JJ72 who can do likewise with their songs.

Oh and just to say that S-WC is away on holiday for a bit so this wee series will be on hold for a couple of weeks.

 

THE JAM SINGLES (6)

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There are days when I think this may well be the greatest record of all time….and yet I didn’t include it in my 45 45s at 45 rundown back in 2008.  But I’ll probably come back to that later in the series.

By now I was determined to buy the singles and albums on the day they came out and so it proved with this record that hit the shops on 6 October 1978:-

mp3 : The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight

A belter of a tune with an incredible lyric which to a 15-year old who hadn’t yet set foot in London was genuinely terrifying.  Not only did I never want to bump into the muggers but please don’t ever let me cross the path of the atheist nutter who sprays ‘Jesus Saves’ onto walls.

Incidentally, when I first visited London, which would have been in 1983 by which time I was at University, I couldn’t wait to take my first trip on the Underground.  This turned out be at King’s Cross as that was the nearest tube station to the ‘bus park’ where the overnight service from Glasgow dropped us off just as rush hour was beginning to take hold.   I was catching a service on the Piccadilly line as this took me onto where my digs were for the next few days (at the home of a professional footballer no less who was also a huge fan of The Jam and had been to see the band with me a few times in the past – some of my close friends will know this person’s identity!!).

I was intrigued at how deep down I had to go to get to the platform and all the way down I was singing this song to myself….and amazed to discover as the escalator dropped me off deep in the bowels of the city that I could indeed make out the distant echo of faraway voices boarding faraway trains.

Thankfully, I never met the atheist nutter, not knowingly at least.

Two new studio songs were on the b-side:-

mp3 : The Jam – So Sad About Us
mp3 : The Jam – The Night

The former was recorded on 13 September 1978 by the band as a tribute to Keith Moon who had died at the age of 32 just six days previously.  It is a cover of a song by The Who which had originally featured on the LP A Quick One back in 1966.  A photo of the late drummer was also put on the back of the Tube Station picture sleeve.  The latter is a Bruce Foxton song which just demonstrates that while the song-writing of Paul Weller was really maturing and developing the bass player was still composing tunes that wouldn’t have been out-of-place with material from the previous twelve months.

Tube Station reached #15 in the charts and would go onto be re-released as a 7″ single by Polydor Records on two more occasions – in 1980 and 1983. The first re-release didn’t reach the Top 75 but the 1983 issue did climb to #30.

Now to the additional recordings….

I’m of the view that the album version which subsequently saw light of day on All Mod Cons a month later is different enough to warrant an airing.  Where the single fades out the album version ends abruptly and the sound of a train departing the platform is aired and then there is a musical refrain of a guitar solo.  This version is even more scary as it made me think that the victim of the mugging was now dead….

mp3 : The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (album version)

The next version was offered up as one of the tracks on the bonus 7″ offered up with the initial 100,000 copies of Going Underground from a gig at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 3 November 1979. You can tell that this was very much a crowd favourite by the reaction when it is introduced and then from the singing along going on in the background.  It also featured what would become very familiar over the years in the live setting with a sort of mini-drum solo from Rick Buckler just before ‘the last thing that I saw…….’:-

mp3 : The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (live, 1979)

Here’s another live version, taken from a fanclub gig that closed out what had been an unusually quiet 1981 (by the band’s previous high standards) at the Golders Green Hippodrome in London that was specially arranged and recorded by BBC Radio 1 for its In Concert series that was usually broadcast on Saturday evenings.

mp3 : The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (live, 1981)

One other wee bonus courtesy of the Direction Creation Reaction box set and it’s a demo of The Who cover as recorded back in February 1977 during the initial sessions for the In The City material

mp3 : The Jam – So Sad About Us (demo version)

Enjoy

DOWNTEMPO TRIP-HOP

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First of all…..when you haven’t heard such a great song in gawd knows home many years as it hasn’t come up on random shuffle on the i-pod and you think to yourself….wow!

mp3 : Portishead – Glory Box (single edit)

Secondly…..there is no way that 20 years have flown by since this was in the UK charts. Nooo Waaay.

Sour Times in August 1994 had brought Portishead to the attention of the record-buying public but parent album Dummy had been a bit of a slow-burner albeit it was high in all the critics end-of-year appraisals. The decision to edit down the closing track of the album for release as a 45 at the start of the following year was a stroke of genius and Dummy was soon selling in much bigger quantities and in the Top 20. I really thought Glory Box had been a Top 5 hit but looking back with the use of t’internet reveals it stuck at #13, the same spot as Sour Times some five months previous.

The three other tracks on the CD single are a variation on a theme and well worth a listen:-

mp3 : Portishead – Toy Box
mp3 : Portishead – Scorn
mp3 : Portishead – Sheared Box

Oh and for completeness, here’s the full 5 minute plus version that closes out the LP:-

mp3 : Portishead – Glory Box

The main sample in the song is an Isaac Hayes track called Ike’s Rap II. Later the same year, the sample again hit the UK charts, this time at #12:-

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mp3 : Tricky – Hell Is Round The Corner (original mix)
mp3 : Tricky – Hell Is Round The Corner (the Hell’n’Water mix)

Sublime.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #33: DETROIT COBRAS

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Much excitement in Villain Towers today.  Dirk from Sexy Loser has been in touch.  He’s one of the longest-serving contributors to the blog going waaaaaaay back to the former place. I still can’t get over the idea that someone from Germany is such a devotee of all things John Peel and has a such a wealth of knowledge of and love for indie music of a vintage and subsequent era.  And his command of English always put me to shame. Here’s what he had to say…

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Normally, dear friends, coverbands rather are an atrocity, they exist to – more or less – “entertain” you at family parties. The Detroit Cobras from, obviously, Detroit, though take the cover business seriously and they are doing this perfectly fine since 1994. The music that the band play is a mix of soul, Motown, R&B and R&R, that is literally stripped from Mary Ramirez’ and her music partner in crime, singer Rachel Nagy’s record collections.

The Detroit Cobras — with one song, Hot Dog, being the exception — play other people’s music, but more specifically they cover other artists’ B-sides and deep cuts, and they do so with such a raw and ferocious energy that the songs rarely sound anything like the original versions, but all of them end up sounding like Cobra songs.

The band is known for multiple lineup changes, Greg Cartwright of Reigning Sound (aka Greg Oblivian of The Oblivians) has been a constant creative force along with Nagy and Ramirez, who have been around since the group’s genesis. The male members’ fluctuation sometimes reminds me of the Italian government, so it doesn’t make all too much sense to go into detail here. Then again: who cares at all, the men in this combo are just accessory parts whereas especially singer Rachel Nagy – the Cobras’ secret weapon/human tornado, a mesmerizing mash up of Dusty Springfield, Neko Case, Chrissie Hynde and Ronnie Spector – but also guitarist Mary Ramirez are the bad girls by the exit doors at the school dance, all leather and heels, sneaking smokes and passing the flask. They have no time for dewy-eyed love songs or girl group decorum; they’ll take care of business themselves with a bat of the eye or an elbow to the kidney!

The group has released five and a half (Seven Easy Pieces consists of just – some of you will already have guessed it – seven tunes, so does that make it a real album? I don’t know …) full-length albums to date, and on all of them they whip out ass-shaking anthems to good times, wild times, and the high and lows of L-U-V; you best believe it and you best not mess with it: ‘cos the Cobras are THE go-to party band for those in the know. Sure, it’s red-blooded and raw, but it’s also as beautiful as it is brassy. In other words, bad girls make good!

You should hope and pray that they play your party. I certainly hope that one fine day they’ll play mine … and if they do, I’ll invite all of you, promised!

Here’s their album – discography:

– ‘Mink Rat Or Rabbit’ (Sympathy For The Records Industry Records, 1998)
– ‘Life, Love Or Leaving’ (Sympathy For The Records Industry Records, 2001)
– ‘Seven Easy Pieces’ (Rough Trade 2003)
– ‘Baby’ (Rough Trade 2004)
– ‘Tied And True’ (Rough Trade 2007)
– ‘The Original Recordings’ (Munster Records 2008)

It was a really hard task to choose just 10 songs out of the above, because all of those albums are killers without fillers, apart from Tied And True. It’s not a bad album, but if I had to decide between the two, I would spend my money on the compilation of their early work, The Original Recordings.

Either way, without further ado, here’s what I regard to be the mighty Detroit Cobras’ 10 best songs …. yes, it’s 11, I admit, but they all are so short, so I thought I could get away with it … let’s just call the last one a bonus- or a hidden track, you won’t complain, alright, JC? Nevertheless it is a monster of a tune, quite contrary to their ‘standard’ work, so watch out for it …. and enjoy:

01 – ‘Hey Sailor’ (from ‘Life, Love Or Leaving’, a Mickey Lee Lane – cover)
02 – ‘Village Of Love’ (Peel Session – version, rec. 2003, their second 7″ from 1996, a Nathaniel Mayer – cover)
03 – ‘Out Of This World’ (from ‘Mink Rat Or Rabbit’, a Gino Washington – cover)
04 – ‘Right Around The Corner’ (from Life, Love Or Leaving, a Rose Marie McCoy & Charles Singleton – cover)
05 – ‘I Wanna Holler (But The Town’s Too Small)’ (from ‘Baby’, a Frank Guida / Patricia Matthews / Joseph Royster – cover)

06 – ‘My Baby Loves The Secret Agent’ (from ‘Seven Easy Pieces’, a Fred Sledge Smith – cover)
07 – ‘Cha Cha Twist’ (from ‘Mink Rat Or Rabbit’, a Hank Ballard / Les McCann – cover)
08 – ‘Down In Louisiana’ (from ‘The Original Recordings’, their third 7″ from 1996, cover of a traditional song)
09 – ‘Shout Bama Lama’ (from Life, Love Or Leaving’, an Otis Redding – cover)
10 – ‘Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat)’ (from ‘Baby’, the only song the Cobras ever wrote themselves)

Hidden bonus track:

11 – ‘Last Nite’ (from ‘Various Artists: Stop Me If You Think You Heard This Before’ (2003), a Strokes – cover)

Dirk aka Sexy Loser

mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Hey Sailor
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Village of Love
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Out of This World
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Right Around The Corner
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – I Wanna Holler (But This Town’s Too Small)
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – My Baby Loves The Secret Agent
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Cha Cha Twist
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Down In Louisiana
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Shout Bama Lama
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat)
mp3 : The Detroit Cobras – Last Nite

Enjoy!!!

 

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?

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The first time I heard this song:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)

 

 

 

I was instantly reminded of this tune:-

mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Faron Young

The former was a top 20 hit in 1986 for a Liverpool band who had been kicking around without any commercial success since 1980 although they were firm favourites of John Peel for whom they had recorded four sessions by the time they hit the charts….all before a debut album which came out in late 1986.

The latter had been a 1985 single for the better-known Newcastle band but it had stalled at #74. It was also the opening track of the sublime LP Steve McQueen.

Here’s the b-sides of the 7″ singles:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – Trains, Boats, Planes
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Silhouettes

I also have a 12″ copy of Driving Away From Home in the collection. It annoys me as it just goes on a bit too long and the song loses something in the process:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune) (12 inch version)

The 12″ also had an additional song on the b-side:-

mp3 : It’s Immaterial – A Crooked Tune

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 32 of 48)

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I’m being lazy this week and doing a cut’n’ paste from wiki that was last updated in 2014:-

The Wolfhounds are an indie rock band formed in Romford in England in 1985 by Dave Callahan, Paul Clark, Andy Golding, Andy Bolton and Frank Stebbing. They reformed in 2005 and continue to write, record and play live to this day, releasing a new EP in April 2012, their first new recordings since 1990.

The Wolfhounds began as a slightly askew pop/rock band, and signed to the Pink label in 1986. First EP Cut The Cake was well enough received for the NME to include them on their C86 compilation album. After three singles and debut album Unseen Ripples From A Pebble on Pink, they briefly moved to Idea Records for the Me single, then rejoined Pink’s boss at his new label September Records. September soon evolved into Midnight Music which was the Wolfhounds’ home for all subsequent releases.

With original members Bolton and Clark replaced by David Oliver and Matt Deighton, the Wolfhounds’ sound developed into a denser, less poppy sound. After a compilation of earlier material, second album proper Bright and Guilty was released in 1989, featuring the singles Son of Nothing, Rent Act and Happy Shopper. The sound progressed further with the albums Blown Away (also 1989) and Attitude (1990), which found them in Sonic Youth territory, interspersing raging guitars with elegant compositional exercises. This proved to be the final Wolfhounds release – the band splitting in early 1990.

Golding and Stebbing formed Crawl, while Callahan hooked up with former Ultra Vivid Scene member Margaret Fiedler in Moonshake. Matt Deighton formed Mother Earth.

The Wolfhounds got back together in 2005 for a gig to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of their first single. The current line-up is Dave Callahan (guitar/vocals), Andy Golding (guitar/vocals), Peter Wilkins (Drums) and Richard Golding (bass).

In 2006, they were asked by Bob Stanley of St Etienne to play at the ICA in London, alongside Roddy Frame and Phil Wilson, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the seminal NME cassette C86. They have continued to play live since, re-energised when The Membranes asked them to be special guests at The Lexington in London, and in March 2012 played with Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab in support at a benefit to raise funds for proposed Frank Sidebottom memorial statue.

An EP called EP001 was released on Vollwert-Records Berlin in April 2012 containing three songs that pre-date the band’s first single but that were never recorded satisfactorily at the time. Of these songs, Skullface picked up a lot of radio play.

The band is currently writing and recording a number of entirely new songs for release, and have released three 7″ singles and a new album since January 2013. Also in 2014 an anniversary limited edition issue of Unseen Ripples from a Pebble (plus bonus tracks) is released by Optic Nerve Recordings

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The track on CD86 (which was of course compiled by the afore-mentioned Bob Stanley) is a cracking number that was their second 45 for the Pink Label.  Released in September 1986 it got to #6 in the Indie Chart.

mp3 : The Wolfhounds – The Anti-Midas Touch

There’s also a very good though downbeat b-side on offer:-

mp3 : The Wolfhounds – Restless Spell

Enjoy.

EVEN BETTER THAN THE REAL THING?

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A question for all T(n)VV readers.

Is this a superior recording to Straight To Hell?

mp3 : M.I.A – Paper Planes

After much thought, I’ve concluded that it is…and given that I have the real thing in my Imaginary Clash LP, you can see just how highly I think of today’s track.

Discuss.

 

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