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SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #59 : COME ON GANG!

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Come On Gang! were an Edinburgh trio who formed in 2007 and broke up in 2011 almost immediately after the recording of their debut LP.  They were a trio consisting of Sarah Tanat Jones (vocals and drums), Mikey Morrison (guitar) and Trev Courtney (bass). Jones, who was originally from Brighton, and Courtney, from the Scottish Border town of Galashiels, had met at Edinburgh College of Art and recruited Morrison via a locally placed advert. They quickly gained a reputation for being a more than decent sounding indie-pop band with the media particularly keen (as usual) to shine a light on an act who had a charismatic and articulate female lead.

An early single on a small indie label was picked up by Radio Scotland and this additional exposure saw them invited to perform sessions for television which at the same time helped increase their profile. They were a hard-working group, supporting many bands in venues all over Scotland and appearing low down on the bill of many festivals but also being recognised as having huge potential as can be seen from being part of a Scottish showcase at the 2009 South by Southwest festival in Texas.

There were however, only three singles ever released (one of which was a split single with Kid Canaveral with whom they gigged on many an occasion) followed by Strike A Match, the debut LP (produced by Paul Savage of The Delgados) in February 2011 which was launched at a gig in Edinburgh, an event the band had already indicated would be their last.

mp3 : Come On Gang! – Fortune Favours The Brave

Enjoy

MY POLITICAL PROTEST SONG FOR TODAY

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I’ll do my best to avoid watching any coverage of today’s inauguration ceremony and instead immerse myself in music. Here’s one of my favourite songs of recent years. Such a positive message even if few in power really want to listen:-

mp3 : British Sea Power – Waving Flags

You are astronomical fans of alcohol
So welcome in
Are rising in the East and setting in the West
All waving flags

We’re all waving flags now
Waving flags
But don’t be scared
And you, you will be here for a while
And it’s all a joke
Oh, it’s all a joke
Oh

Are here of legal drinking age, on minimum wage
Well, welcome in
From across the Vistula, you’ve come so very far
All waving flags

We’re all waving flags now
Waving flags
But don’t be scared
‘Cause you, you will be here for a while
And it’s all a joke
Oh, it’s all a joke
Oh

Beer is not dark
Beer is not light
It just tastes good
Especially tonight

So welcome in, we are barbarians
Oh welcome in, across the Carpathians
Oh welcome in, we are from Slavia
Oh welcome in, across the stadion
Oh we cant fail, not with Czech ecstasy
No we won’t fail, not with Czech ecstasy
So welcome in

It was released in January 2008 as the first single from the LP Do You Like Rock Music? There were 2 x 7″ singles and a CD version – all had different b-sides while one of the pieces of vinyl had a lovely and melancholy instrumental version of the single:-

mp3 : British Sea Power – Waving Flags (Wandering Horn Instrumental)

Always brings a lump to my throat.

RAVE ON THIS CRAZY FEELING

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Northside were a Manchester band, and given what Factory Records was becoming famous for at the beginning of the 90s, it was a natural home for them. But they were another to suffer from the curse of the label’s inability to get product out when it most mattered – this was something that affected even the likes of New Order and Happy Mondays.

There were three singles and one LP released before the label went bust and the band broke up.

This was one of the singles which I’m sure brings back fine memories for those of you who loved popping your Ecstasy tablets…..

mp3 : Northside – Shall We Take A Trip?
mp3 : Northside – Moody Places

Just looked it up and turns out it was their debut for Factory (FAC 268) and the single was banned by the BBC thanks to the drugs references.

Here also is the 12″ version of their final single – a cracking bit of indie/baggy pop that should have been a massive hit, helped, as indeed were all their releases, by the usual marvellous job from producer Ian Broudie:-

mp3 : Northside – Take 5 (12″ version)

Enjoy.

IN WHICH I SLAGGED OFF KATE BUSH

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AS POSTED OVER ON THE OLD BLOG IN AUGUST 2010.

I was never completely convinced by Kate Bush when she first emerged in January 1978. The early singles sold in their millions but as a mid-teens boy with a love for post-punk bands with all their loud guitars and even louder shouty lyrics, the talents of the singer-songwriter at the piano with her squeaky voice just didn’t register.

Oh and she was ancient as well at 18 and a bit years of age……..

But as I got older and realised that there was a wee bit more to music than spotty oiks in sweaty venues, I fell for the charms of Ms Bush and started to listen to her much more closely. Oh and some brilliant promotional photos on giant billboards also had something about grabbing my hormonally-charged attention…..

I’ve a few Kate Bush LPs sitting in the vinyl cupboard, but its been years since I played them. The only tracks that ever come up on the i-pod shuffle are those that formed part of a Greatest Hits CD that was released in 1986 that I picked up cheap a few years later. I didn’t pay any attention to the comeback record in 2005 although a few folk have said I’m missing out on something quite decent.

The thing is, while browsing in a second hand vinyl emporium a wee while back, I came across a copy of a 1979 EP, and given it was going for £2, I thought it worth giving a listen again all these years later.

It has four live tracks, all recorded at a London gig in May 1979. This turned out to be the only time that Kate Bush ever toured in her entire career*, although over the years there would be sporadic live appearances, either solo or as alongside a whole range of other performers, suggesting that it wasn’t a fear of playing live that she suffered from.

The four songs all originally featured on The Kick Inside or Lionheart, her first two LPs:-

mp3 : Kate Bush – Them Heavy People (live)
mp3 : Kate Bush – Don’t Push Your Foot On The Heartbrake (live)
mp3 : Kate Bush – James And The Cold Gun (live)
mp3 : Kate Bush – L’Amour Looks Something Like You (live)

So as its spinning round the USB Turntable and doing whatever thing it is gadgetry wise to turn the tracks into instant mp3s, I’m thinking to myself…….this is shite.

It just feels as if it is music played by top-notch session players incapable of hitting a bum note but who are just as incapable of adding any meaning or feeling to a song. It’s got wanky solos all the way through as well and the sort of music that punk/new wave/post-punk was determined to banish forever (not that they ever had a chance of succeeding).

I’ve recently read reviews of that six-week tour that Kate Bush undertook in 1979 and by just about every account, it seems to have been an event that was ahead of its time with its use of theatre and dance and multi-median innovations including the use of a head-mic. But tucked away in the middle of such reviews you cotton-on to the fact that the musicians were drilled to the Nth degree with no room at all for improvisation. It sounds as if it was more akin to going along to a musical than a gig…….and I reckon that’s what comes across on the tracks on the EP. They lack any real depth or soul……but I bet they were astonishing if witnessed in the flesh.

Oh well. I’ve said it.

Bring on the brickbats.

* written and published years before the London residency of 2015 which so many got really excited about.

GIVEN AWAY FREE WITH A NEWSPAPER IN 2003

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Got to give The Observer a fair bit of credit for this as when it appeared in late 2003, The Strokes were one of the hottest acts in the UK.

It was there to promote the release of the band’s second LP Room On Fire and the five tracks were:-

mp3 : The Strokes – When It Started
mp3 : The Strokes – New York City Cops (live in Iceland 2002)
mp3 : The Strokes – Last Nite (original demo)
mp3 : The Strokes – Meet Me In The Bathroom (Home Recording)
mp3 : The Strokes – 12:51

The first track was a b-side to Last Nite while the last track was taken from the album the sampler was promoting.

I think the paper cost £1.50 at the time so picking it up for the three otherwise unavailable tracks was worth it.

Enjoy.

GOTHS ANONYMOUS

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scabaret-1

Over the festive period, I managed to find a handful of postings from the blog that was murdered by google;  most of them aren’t really capable of being re-used as I’ve since covered the subject matters in different ways. But this guest contribution from Jacques the Kipper in July 2010 is different……

I was a teenage Goth. I’ve told you this before, I know. But it’s time to get it out of my system once and for all.

I didn’t mean to turn Goth. Sure, I had a penchant in the early 1980s for gloom-ridden songs, but I was also a devotee of Cherry Red, Postcard, ABC and much much more. I think the problem really began with Echo and The Bunnymen. Or more specifically Ian McCulloch. I’d worn my fringe like Roger McGuinn for a while and, to be honest, it was getting on my nerves. Well, to be honestly honest, I couldn’t bloody see. I needed a change and something based on McCulloch’s spikey barnet of the time seemed a better bet. The die was cast.

Being a bit thrawn, and wanting to avoid accusations of merely copying the (his own definition) “great” man, I began with basic spiking of my fringe, the rest remaining combed down. I soon got bored of that and the spikes spread back to my crown. In those days my hair was pretty thick so fairly quickly it grew into something that would test the bravest of any Disney prince seeking out his Sleeping Beauty within.

Meantime I had moved to the Big City. These were impressionable days and, even sporting a fairly standard spikey top, I was considered pretty weird on my accountancy course. To be fair, on that course, if you’d ever had (in fact, if you’d ever thought about) sex, then you were considered weird. The only vital statistics my fellow students cared about related to their balance sheets. And, just for the record, I don’t know why I was there as I’d never touched an accountancy book before – come to think of it, I don’t think I did during the “year” I was on the course. The only redeeming factor was it was many miles from Home Town and I got a grant for not attending any classes.

Instead I spent the time perfecting the art of backcombing, frequenting pubs, taking in gigs of all shapes and sizes, and meeting a whole range of people who didn’t want to be accountants.

Time passed, the Uni got wise and booted me out, and, but for the odd (sometimes very odd) self inflicted hacking, the hair got longer, the black tight jeans became the only jeans, the long black coat affixed itself permanently to my shoulders, eye liner became essential, lipstick a requirement for going out and, at a time of mass unemployment and conservatism among the masses, I became unemployed and unemployable – one of Maggie’s millions.

We were lucky though – we had a city centre tenement flat, previously frequented by a certain Paul Haig, that was cheap as chips and housing benefit to pay it. Other benefits from the “Buroo” weren’t great but enough, with a bit of blagging and being known about town, to survive on. Fully signed up to the Goth Convention, we even spent most of the day asleep. My flat mate, and this is true, put a wardrobe on the floor and slept in it. We even shared a room for a while – me on a mattress on the floor, he in his wardrobe. A real talking point when either or, worse, both of us brought a woman home.

Early evening we utilised the long thin zigzag corridor for epic games of indoor football. Stopping only when a prolonged flurry of close range tackling ended in our hair becoming interlocked. (In many ways, I think we were fore-runners of the bizarre hairstyles of today’s professional game.) Later evening we would head out, seeking out free access and (very) cheap drink.

Our kitchen floor became a legendary stopping place for a range of fellow punks and Goths we happened to bump into of an evening. I can think of Falkirk, Dunfermline, Grangemouth, Cumbernauld and East Kilbride to name but a few towns who sent pioneers to the Big City, with no means of return after midnight. We would happen to meet them in a bar, a club, or even in a couple of cases the street, and invite them back for the night. A student friend, who stayed with us for a short while, used to talk of getting up early for uni, and wandering into the kitchen, always wondering what mass of hair and flesh might await. More often than not he’d tiptoe through the variously studded bodies, belts, bracelets and buckles, make his coffee and be off without anyone stirring.

But, you ask, did I embrace the musical darkside? Well, yes and no. Student indie discos were seen by the hard-core as too mainstream. We enjoyed (some might say with the benefit of hindsight, endured) club nights where the combination of limited lighting, dry ice, alcoves and most folk dressed in black with long hair meant when you hit the floor for a bop to Einstürzende Neubauten, you couldn’t find your friends again.

Yes, of course, I went to see the Sisters of Mercy, and in their pomp they were fantastic live. They were king for me at the time, but let’s not forget the likes of Xmal Deutschland, Alien Sex Fiend, Flesh for Lulu, And Also the Trees, The Danse Society, Sex Gang Children, Skeletal Family and, of course, my wardrobe mate’s faves – Virgin Prunes.

The (Southern) (Death) Cult didn’t really count but I have to acknowledge that live they were the Guns ‘n’ Roses of their day, and always entertaining. We even got on their guest list due to support band Balaam and the Angel ending up on our floor one night. But all that didn’t stop me at the time also seeing among others The Smiths, Billy Bragg, Daintees, James and even the likes of Bronski Beat.

I’m not claiming for a second that all of those black acts listed above are, or indeed were at the time, any good. Just, that they were part of my Gothhood. In fact, given my financial position at the time, I bought few records. So perhaps thankfully there is little legacy in my collection.

But being a Goth was great and I don’t regret a minute. At its crowning glory my hair was over a foot long and, when backcombed, which it pretty much always was, no doubt a bizarre sight. I’m not sure what it would take in this modern age to get the same level of reaction that we used to suffer.

There were bad bits. I was banned from pubs I’d never been in, including one or two where I was due to meet people (lesson one: in a time before mobiles, meet outside). I was threatened several times and, notably, beaten up only three hours after arriving in Rural Fife Town – how to make an impression on your already doubting new girlfriend’s parents- “Er….have you got anything in the freezer I can put on my eye?” I was spat on. I was stoned by wee kids in the Other Big City – they’re probably playing for Celtic now – and many people crossed the road to avoid me. I never made it to the Batcave. I never met a real vampire, though I knew one or two who thought they were. And, when it rained……disaster!

But there were many more good bits.

The camaraderie among fellow Goths (I’m deliberately forgetting the cliqueishness and hair-envy here), especially when you met counterparts in other towns.

Getting your photo taken by tourists (what did they say when that slide came up back in Canada?) – I was even painted twice.

Being the last person anyone would sit next to on the bus or train. (Note, though the other side of this is that, invariably, that last person is either a complete psycho, hopelessly drunk, or both. Some day I’ll tell you about the Hells Angels, the bottle of Smirnoff and the shotgun.)

Being known as Eraserhead.

Being offered various roles in various bands despite a complete lack of singing and musical ability.

Being on first name terms with punk legend Wattie, albeit he called me Mac and I called him, er, Wattie.

Sitting next to a woman with a toddler on her knee on the bus from Dunfermline, the toddler grinning and calling me “Daddy”, me smiling back, the woman clearly fearing I might eat her child at any time.

The Punks Picnic – how funny to see Goths sunbathing.

Introducing a friend to his future wife at a Cult gig.

The banter on the football terraces terraces (remember them?) in a time before satellite tv (remember then?) – “Hey, pal, can you get Channel 4 on that?”.

Dancing in the dark.

There were many misconceptions about our tribe. Depending on who you asked, and being frank, most folk didn’t need to be asked, we were any or all of weird, thick, lay-about, junkies, gay or scary. Of course, in some cases that was true, but no more so than any other group of young folk dressing to impress. A lesson learned when I look at the youth of today in their various guises.

Of course, I couldn’t live the dream forever. I could no longer afford the Boots hairspray for one thing. I moved away from the Big City and gradually I found the self inflicted chopping was removing more and more hair. The final cut came at a barbers in the Oily City. The woman asked me twice before removing the final few inches. When she stood back from the mirror and I could once more see myself I was nearly in tears. Not because I could no longer kid myself I was still a Goth, but because, despite what I’d said, she’d taken off far too much and I now looked like a US Marine.

While I made many friends, we drifted apart and few remain from that time. There must though be one or two fellow ex-Goths that I bought a cider and blackcurrant for, who nowadays walk the same corridors of power and attend the same parents nights that I do. Sadly we’ll never recognise one another as the spray, crimpers and in some cases cheap dye have taken their toll and we’ve all lost our hair and cut back on the eye liner. Shame.

But you’re really here for the music. Clearly that’s a problem as I know you’d hate most of the above so I thought I’d just focus on some memories of the time. At least give them one listen and if you want more info then I’ve checked – they’re all on Wikipedia.

mp3 : Exploited – Dead Cities

This reached no 31 in the real charts. Members may have changed but Wattie and the boys still keep up the good fight against fascism and racism. You have to admire 30 years of anarchy and chaos. And for good measure, here’s the b-sides:-

mp3 : Exploited – Hitler’s In The Charts Again
mp3 : Exploited – Class War

Another band surprisingly still with us, though I confess to having no knowledge of their oeuvre post 1985, are this lot:-

mp3 : Alien Sex Fiend – Ignore The Machine

And finally, a real favourite of mine at the time, though I confess it’s only while writing this that I’ve dug out the old stuff. Jim Thirlwell as in your face as ever. A true innovator and inspiration for many of the noiseniks that crossed into the mainstream in the late 80s/early90s.

mp3 : You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath – Wash It All Off
mp3 : You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath – Today I Started Slogging Again

And, here’s the link to VV fact fans, Jim T was a latter day pseudonymous member of Orange Juice. Look him out on Rip It Up on TOTP and consider that poppy jangle alongside this. ****

And if you really want to know what I looked like at the time, check out US cult band, The Naked and the Dead on Wikipedia. I may not actually be in the picture but I sure could have been.

Jacques The Kipper, Sunday 25 July 2010

**** JtK is not joking. Frank Want was one of the many other names by which Jim Thirwell was known.

Frank Want was a member of the live line-up of Orange Juice in 83/84 when the band were essentially down to Edwyn Collins and Zeke Manyika for studio purposes.  He played sax on the TOTP appearance JtK refers to.

THE UNDERTONES SINGLES 77-83 (Part 8)

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Those of you who are observant will notice the word ‘Ardeck’ on the front of the sleeve for the eighth single from The Undertones.

The band took advantage of a successful 1980 sales-wise to put out the feelers for a new label as they were unhappy with Sire Records unwillingness to promote them to any great extent in the USA.  They ended up on EMI who agreed to a licensing deal with all material to be released on Ardeck Records, a label which has since only ever issued singles, albums, compilations and re-releases by The Undertones.

It’s Going To Happen! was a Damian O’Neill/Michael Bradley composition, in all likelihood chosen by some mogul at EMI on the basis that they had been the duo responsible for the band’s only Top Ten single. It was released in May 1981 and reached #18 in the charts, an excellent achievement given it was by far their weakest 45 to date, with many bemused by the inclusion of horns within the song.

Also worth noting that the band managed to skilfully avoid the fact that the song, while on the surface sounding as if it was just another innocent sounding pop song, possibly about a failing relationship, was in fact an attack on the intransigence of the UK government to find a solution to the political hunger strikes that were taking place at the Maze Prison in Belfast.  If the real intention behind the song had been revealed then a radio and TV ban was inevitable and it’s likely that the band, and their families, would have run into real issues around personal safety back home.

mp3 : The Undertones – It’s Going To Happen!

The b-side is one of the most peculiar sounding things the band ever recorded.  The info on the single would indicate that it’s a cover of a song by an unknown band called Tommy Tate & The Torpedoes,

but it was later revealed that this was a name adopted by Damian O’Neill and was intended as a wee bit of a joke, but in a semi-serious way, at his bandmates’ expense whom he felt were sailing in choppy waters, beginning to moan and whine about their lot when the fact was they were enjoying success and earning more than they had ever dare dreamed of.

mp3 : The Undertones – Fairly In The Money Now

Enjoy.

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