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SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #1 : A.C. ACOUSTICS

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AC Acoustics formed in Glasgow in the early 90s. Wiki mentions that they were heavily inspired by The Jesus and Mary Chain – blending white noise with early Pavement-style experimentation and, on occasion, augmenting their two guitar, bass and drums instrumentation with saxophones and violins.

They released a total of eight singles and four albums between 1992 and 2002, with the most critically acclaimed – Understanding Music – released originally in 2000 enjoying a re-release a full decade later.

Despite never obtaining much commercial success, they were well liked by many of their better known peers in the industry and toured as the opening act for the likes of PJ Harvey, Spacemen 3, Embrace, Stereophonics and Placebo.

I’ve only one of their tracks. It appeared on 22-track compilation CD entitled Park Lane Archives released in 2009 that brought together songs (mostly in demo version but some otherwise never previously released) that had been recorded in a Glasgow studio, located as you might have guessed, in Park Lane which is not all that far from Villain Towers.

mp3 : a.c.acoustics – Bluff Drive By

This was one of the previously unreleased tracks.  It reminds me very much of Pavement. It also comes to a very abrupt and unexpected ending.

Enjoy

 

BILLY MACKENZIE RARITIES…COURTESY OF SID LAW (5)

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Billy tay bridge with Wild and Lonely

After being dropped by Warners in 1988, Billy quickly put some demos together with Blair Booth and Philip Erb (who he had recorded “Cinemas Of the World” with) and secured a deal with Virgin subsidiary Circa. The result was 1990’s “Wild And Lonely” a record much maligned by many Associates and MacKenzie fans. There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is that while the rest of the UK had romped through the 2nd Summer of Love in 1988 and two years later Acid House, House, Hip-Hop and sample-tastic dance music was filling the charts, “Wild And Lonely” had been produced by Julian Mendelsohn and it sounded slick and well – a bit like 1986. “Wild” and “Lonely” were two of Billy’s Whippets by the way…

My favourite track from this era is a B-side track from the single “Fire To Ice” called “The Glamour Chase” – an Abba-like paean to lost hope, shattered dreams and dented pride. The song refers to the ditched Warners album, Billy’s stalled career and the cost of the quest for fame (“Quality knows what is insincere/ All is not what it seems to appear/ Searching for what in this emptiness/ Why all this sudden need to impress/ Why must we always think we know best/ Knowing you’re wanting a part of me/ Only protects that same part of me”).

mp3 : Associates – The Glamour Chase

Billy insisted the track was included on the UK version of the “Wild And Lonely” CD and it was the only track on the album which Julian Mendelsohn didn’t produce. Billy produced it.

Sid Law

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS

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johnny_cash_-_johnny_cash_greatest_hitsFrom April 2007:-

There’s loads been written about The Man In Black, including a waft of biographies, some better than others. There’s even been an Oscar-winning movie about part of his life. So I don’t really need to go into too much detail.

Johnny Cash lived from 1932 until 2003. His recording career had many ups and downs over the best part of half-a-century, and it’s estimated he sold in excess of 50 million albums. He was something of a pioneer – being one of the first artists to break down barriers between country music and pop music, dressing like a goth (sans white-face make-up tho’) decades before the genre was invented and patenting the fast-living, carefree drink and drugs lifestyle that other such as Keith Richards have since blazed. He was as well known and as popular by the time of his death as he was at the peak of his career some 30 years previously.

He made films and had his own networked TV show. He recorded songs with hundreds of other artists and was part of a touring ‘supergroup’.

In short, he did everything you could imagine in the life and times of a successful and charismatic musician.

I grew up with the sounds of Johnny Cash in the 60s and early 70s, sometimes in my own house, but most often when I visited and stayed over with an aunt and uncle who seemed to have all his records. In saying that, there was no way in my sultry teenage era, nor during my time at university when I thought I was cool and trendy, could I admit to having a love of any sort of country music far less having an idol in Johnny Cash. But as more and more hip bands began to include acoustic songs on their albums, it began to be easier to suggest country/blues influences without getting laughed at.

And then in the 1990s, thanks in the main to Rick Rubin and Def Jam Recordings, (but also to U2 who had performed a duet with him) Johnny Cash became fashionable again. His series of American Recording LPs, which featured a mix of Cash originals and cover versions, brought him to a whole new audience, with appearances at Glastonbury on MTV much in evidence.

I recently picked up my first ever Johnny Cash vinyl record of my own via an e-bay bargain……the 1967 CBS issue of Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits Volume 1. And from that, here’s a couple of tracks……..

mp3 : Johnny Cash – Orange Blossom Special
mp3 : Johnny Cash – Don’t Take Your Guns To Town

And from the tail-end of his career, here’s a couple of duets

mp3 : Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer – Redemption Song
mp3 : Johnny Cash & Nick Cave – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

And a couple of songs that namecheck the great man:-

mp3 : Sons & Daughters – Johnny Cash (live)
mp3 : Alabama 3 – Hello, I’m Johnny Cash

Finally, if you want to hear how good a job was done by the main players in the movie Walk The Line, have a listen to these two tracks:-

mp3 : Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson
mp3 : Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon – Jackson

Enjoy

VERY MUCH A LOVED SONG

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From December 2007:-

Yet another of the vinyl treasures that I found during my extended stay in Toronto.

A mint-condition copy of the 12″ of This Is Not A Love Song by P.I.L. For a bargain $10.

But I refuse to believe that the song dates back to 1983. That’s nearly 25 years ago for fuck sake. (WITH THIS UPDATE IT IS NOW 32 YEARS FUXXXACHE!!!).  I’m not ready to accept that I’m getting that old that quickly. Time for the botox and liposuction.

I’ve long owned a copy of this record, but (a) I wore it out through constant playing, and (b) the whiter-than white sleeve was grubby and torn. I’m delighted to have at long last replaced it.

There are four songs on this magnificent piece of plastic – including an original and remix version of the single.

The remix is quite different from the original. Wobble’s bass lines and Lydon’s vocals are identical but the keyboards are far more prominent while the guitar is further back in the mix.

It’s probably a bit more poppy than the actual single, and while it’s pretty impressive in its own right, it just doesn’t have the same impact as what remains one of my all time favourite records.

A few years later, P.I.L. released a greatest hits compilation, which included yet a further remix of TINALS – and one that was completely different. A re-recorded vocal and a horn section that I just wan’t prepared for at the time. For years it was a version that I hated, but I have grown more fond of it in recent times. You can make your own minds up:-

mp3 : P.I.L. – This Is Not A Love Song (original 12″ version)
mp3 : P.I.L. – This Is Not A Love Song (re-mixed version)
mp3 : P.I.L. – This Is Not A Love Song (re-recorded version)

Enjoy.

LET’S PUT ON OUR CLASSICS AND HAVE A LITTLE DANCE, SHALL WE?

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From February 2009.

In which your humble scribe tries to show that there’s more to him than jangly-guitars, indie-pop and great haircuts from days of old.

Back in the late 1990s, I was in a job that involved the occasional bit of overseas travel. To those of you who don’t ever have to do that for a living it might sound like a great way of life, but believe me, aside from the excitement of arriving somewhere for the first time and enjoying, if you’re lucky, a bit of sightseeing, the joys of being far away from home for a few days isn’t any fun.

It was in 1997 that I went on what proved to be my furthest ever jaunt, to Kuala Lumper in Malaysia to accompany my boss who was giving the keynote speech to a conference of civic leaders – I was there partly as the bag-carrier and organiser, but I was also around to make any last-minute changes to the speech and presentation. I have three abiding memories of the trip.

Firstly, it was very very hot and humid with the most amazing bursts of thunder and lightning I ever imagine I will see.

Secondly, as someone who is not a fan of any sort of exotic food, my participation in a 16-course banquet held in honour of the boss was torture of the worst kind – I was pretty ill for 48 hours afterwards but still had to be seen in and around the conference venue and elsewhere at all times. I made sure I knew where the nearest toilet was.

Thirdly, I heard Moaner by Underworld for the first ever time.

I was having real problems sleeping during the trip, and in the middle of one night I found myself tuned into MTV Asia. It was a station dominated by all sorts of American rock’n’roll stadium acts, particularly Guns’n’Roses who seemed to be on every other song. Then out of the blue came a video that seemed to be a soundtrack to the latest Batman movie – a throbbing, thumping, grinding, intense and manic bit of music that got louder and louder and hugely intense….and just when it seemed to be hitting some sort of ecstatic peak it disappeared without warning, leaving no trace at all of its presence. I was hooked and promised myself that if I ever got back in one piece, I’d immediately track down the song so I’d have one happy abiding memory from it.

This proved to be far more difficult than I imagined as the only way to get hold of it was to buy a single on expensive import or shell out for the soundtrack LP to Batman & Robin. In the end I did the latter. And while it is a soundtrack that I have never played in its entirety (too many things on it that were a total turn-off), the Underworld track became a huge favourite.

Coming in at more than 10 minutes in length, it was of course much longer than the version that I had heard back in Malaysia, but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. However, if the truth be told, for a long while I could really only listen to the opening six and a bit minutes up to the part that I so remembered from that first time….the ecstatic point where the vocal screams ‘down to the waterfront.’ I used to put the track on every C90 compilation of that era but I always hit the stop button right at that moment….but as time has marched on and the full song has found its way on to the i-pod I’ve learned to love every single note.

And despite the title of this posting, I can also say that I’ve never had the opportunity to properly dance to the track (i.e, in a club). Yes, i’ve jumped around an empty flat with nobody watching, and I’ve also lain on a beach throwing my arms above my head while singing along, much to the distress of other holidaymakers who are concerned why a lunatic has been allowed onto an otherwise tranquil Caribbean island.

And given I’m now nearer 50 than 40, I guess I never will get that dance. One of life’s few regrets y’know….

mp3 : Underworld – Moaner (album version)

Looking up info on the song it turnd out that it was released as a single in Germany and the USA with four different versions – ‘short’, ‘album’, ‘relentless legs’ and ‘long’ – with the version on the soundtrack being ‘album.’ Just over a year later later, it was included on the LP Beaucoup Fish as the closing track – the version being ‘long’ (confusingly, the ‘long’ version is in fact shorter than either the ‘album’ or ‘relentless legs versions.’).

This post is dedicated to my dear friends Ctelblog from Acid Ted and Drew from Across The Kitchen Table. If only I had got to know them a few years ago….they would have known where to take me to make my Underworld ambition come true.

Enjoy

STEALING CAKE TO EAT THE MOON

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Another week of delving into the archives of the lost blog and reposting some things I think read okay. This was back in July 2009:-

History hasn’t really been all that kind to Spandau Ballet, and that really all stems from 1983 onwards when the single and LP True gave them enormous crossover appeal, success, fame and fortune. And I’m not going to sir here typing away any real defence of the band, for it was a very clear and distinct career move to shift away from the sort of music that had dominated the first two LPs into the bland, radio-friendly wine-bar shite that was incredibly popular in UK plc when Thatcher was at her most frightening.

But I’ll take issue with anyone who simply dismisses the early work just because it was a Spandau Ballet song.

Their debut single is one of the great synth-pop singles in an era where acts like Soft Cell, Human League, OMD and Depeche Mode were churning them out.

mp3 : Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short

This was a huge hit, reaching #5 in the UK singles chart, and I don’t mind admitting that I did lots of dancing to this, as well as their great follow-up The Freeze, in Glasgow discos in the early 80s. In fact, their debut LP Journeys To Glory, released in October 1981, along with Non Stop Erotic Cabaret and Dare by the afore-mantioned Soft Cell and The Human League, are about the only synth-dominated LPs from that era that I’m still happy to listen to all the way through almost 30 years later.

Not long after the LP appeared, we had the single that many of us will say was the high point of the band’s output, the Top 3 smash Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) . The band followed this up with Paint Me Down, another classy bit of pop-funk, but rather worryingly, the other tracks on the parent LP, Diamond, released in May 1982, were quite disappointing.

Looking back, it’s worth remembering that the two albums were released only 8 months apart, so there’s a case to be made that some of the material on Diamond was a bit rushed in an effort to stay in the public eye, and maybe if the band had been given another six or nine months, the LP would have been a lot stronger.

Paint Me Down only reached #30, which must have been a shock to the band and everyone associated with them given all previous four singles had been big hits, but that was nothing compared to the follow-up She Loved Like Diamond which only just made the Top 50. Something needed fixing…..

And so the record label sent for uber-producer Trevor Horn and he sprinkled his magic dust over the underwhelming album track Instinction and produced a brashy and bold bit of pop that soon had the boys back in the Top 10, on Top Of The Pops and in the pages of Smash Hits:-

mp3 : Spandau Ballet – Instinction (single version)

I finally picked up a copy of this bit of vinyl on e-bay the other day (along with a few other classics of the era), and I’m delighted to share it with y’all. Normally, I would also put the b-side up as well, but it really is a dreadful bit of pap called Gently, a self-produced number that really does put the band firmly on the road to the sort of stuff that was shoved on in the background so as not to interfere with the important chit-chat and gossip at the dinner parties…you know the sort of thing…..’Tristan just picked up his half-a-million bonus from the bank the other day after he persuaded the plebs to buy shares in the the Telecoms/Electricity/Gas companies they already owned. Tee-hee. Crack open another case of bolly…..”

Oh and I havent a fucking clue what Gary Kemp meant with the words Stealing Cake To Eat The Moon.

Enjoy

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 5 of 48)

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After featuring On Tape last week, there could really only be one song selected this week:-

mp3 : This Poison! – Poised Over The Pause Button

I had no idea that this lot, who I presume were named after the Magazine song, were Scottish. They hailed from Perth and between 1986 and 1988 released two singles for Reception Records (the record label founded and run by The Wedding Present) and recorded one John Peel session.

The band members were Scott Taylor (vocals and guitar), Derek Moir (guitar and backing vocals), Alistair Donald (bass) and Steve Gray (drums).

In 2005, what looks like just about everything they ever recorded was compiled on a CD entitled Magazine (which convinces me the band were named after said song from Magic, Murder and The Weather) released on Egg Records.

The single which features on CD86 is quite tasty, if vert much of its time, and ceratinly demonstrates TWP influences.  The b-side is less exciting but far from the worst song you’ll ever here via this blog:-

mp3 : This Poison! – I’m Not Asking

Enjoy!

 

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