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IF I MAY BE INDULGED FOR A MOMENT OR TWO

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I haven’t been in and around blogworld much this past few days, and to those of you whose places I like visiting and leaving comments, then I promise to do so when I get my mind back focussed on things again, hopefully in the next couple of days.

Huge thanks to everyone who left such kind and lovely words after my posting a few days back when I had learned that a good friend had been given just 48 hours to live. As with so much ever since he was initially diagnosed he proved them wrong and that 48 hours extended by enough that I was able to get to see him one last time, to share some final happy thoughts and reflect on how lucky I am to know so many amazing people. He finally succumbed last night, but I’m adhering to his final wish and nor to be maudlin, sad or upset about it.

I noticed too that the music world lost another bright star the other day with the passing of Maurice White. I’ve admitted on these pages to having a soft spot for disco, and Maurice’s band were among the greatest exponents of the genre. Indeed, a few weeks back myself and Jacques the Kipper were at a football ground bemoaning the dreadful choice of music being played by the stadium announcer until this came on and made us both smile:-

Sheer brilliance.

PS : There was a comment from Webbie the other day after The Skids posting that linked to a September 2015 internet radio show from Gary Crowley in which he interviewed Richard Jobson.  It’s a tremendous show, packed with great punk/new wave tunes and a hilarious chat with Jobson that is chock-full of wonderful anecdotes as well as having some lovely words about the late Stewart Adamson

https://www.mixcloud.com/sohoradio/gary-crowleys-punk-and-new-wave-show-15092015/?utm_source=widget&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=base_links&utm_term=resource_link

If you can’t be bothered with the music, then FF to the interview which begins at 61 minutes in….

THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (5)

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Disc 5 is Clash City Rockers.

The time in and around the release of Complete Control had seen the band out on the road for a fair bit, and is often the case in such situations, there was a bit of a fall-out with Mick and Paul not on speaking terms for a bit.  Part of this came from the fact that Mick and Joe had been given the opportunity to go to Jamaica to absorb some of the culture on offer in the hope it would have a positive effect on the songs that were going to be needed for the second album – Paul being the biggest reggae fan in the band was understandably annoyed at having to stay in the cold and damp UK while his mates went in search of inspiration (forlornly as it turned out as later captured on the album track Safe European Home).

While the two songwriters were in Jamaica, manager Bernie Rhodes pulled a trick that caused yet another rift in Camp Clash.  The band had gone into the studio to record a new single – an anthemic number that partly mythologised all that The Clash considered they stood for while incorporating, in part, a section of a tune from a 17th century children’s nursery rhyme about church bells in London.

The thing is, Rhodes thought the final recording was a bit flat sounding and so he convinced producer Mickey Foote to increase its speed marginally thus making it slightly higher in pitch.  All this was done while Joe and Mick were away and the single had been pressed before they heard the results.  They were appalled and angered and Foote was sacked on the spot.

mp3 : The Clash – Clash City Rockers (single version)

All subsequent releases of the song on compilation albums etc have featured the original version of the song (at the proper speed)

mp3 : The Clash – Clash City Rockers (original recording)

The b-side was an update of one of Joe’s old pub rock songs but the vocal gifted to Mick:-

mp3 : The Clash – Jail Guitar Doors

It’s long been a popular song among fans and indeed was deemed worthy of inclusion on the track-list of the band’s debut LP when it was finally released in the USA in a form almost unrecognisable from its UK counterpart.

Jail Guitar Doors is also the name of a charity, set up by Billy Bragg, whose aim is to aid rehabilitation by providing musical equipment for the use of inmates serving time in prisons and funding individual projects such as recording sessions in UK prisons and for former inmates.  A similar scheme was later established in the USA.

The single reached #35 in the charts and again they declined an opportunity to promote it via an appearance on Top of The Pops.

CLASH CITY ROCKERS : Released 17 February 1978 : #35

The opening chopped guitar riff, executed with such abrupt power and precision, immediately arrests you and informs you you’re in the presence of true greatness.  Punk was primarily a male youth culture, and the song audaciously kicks over the previous statues of lad iconicism – Bowie (and the pre-nonce) Gary Glitter.  It was saying that it wasn’t wearing make-up and pretending to be camp that made us shocking; it was because we were obnoxious, spotty, angry, bored young cunts.

This was one of the songs that made me leave home and go to London, then underscored my early years in the city. It was always on at all hours in the Shepherd’s Bush squat and Queensbridge Road pads, and it was our national anthem. I became an insomniac because of this song. There was never a centre-half at Hibs who got up as high for corner kicks as I did when this bastard blasted out.

Every time you put it on you were making a statement: this is our time and we will not be denied. A lot of water, beer, amphetamine and music has flowed under the bridge since then. But under the right conditions – for example, blasting out from a Stoke Newington stereo on a hot London summer’s day – I feel a shiver down my spine and nearly 30 years seems to have been shed. I love it so much.

Irvine Welsh, novelist (Trainspotting, The Acid House, Filth)

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (26)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THURSDAY 18 APRIL 2008

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Quite a few folk told me that I really would like Sons and Daughters long before I ever got round to hearing them. I did know that Adele Bethel was in the band, but having seen her previously perform live on stage with Arab Strap, I wasn’t convinced she was capable of fronting her own act. So despite there being a real buzz about the band in Glasgow, I remained quite blasé about things, and I never got round to finding the time to check them out.

One day, while pottering around the house (quite possibly yet again putting the CD and vinyl collections into the proper alphabetical order) I heard a great noise coming from my TV which was tuned into MTV2. I wandered into the living room and started paying attention to a video for a song that had caught my ear partly because of a great guitar riff and partly because it was being sung in a broad Scottish accent. Then there was a chorus of sorts in which a vaguely familiar looking female came in on joint vocals, and then the video descended into chaos with a bar-room brawl. Fantastic stuff, but who the hell were these fabulous people??

Up came the caption, and at that point dear readers, I hung my head in shame. For it was of course this:-

mp3 : Sons and Daughters – Johnny Cash

So out I traipsed to Avalanche Records to purchase the LP Love The Cup. I felt as if everyone I the shop was laughing at me for being the last person in Glasgow to buy the album which had been on prominent display for ages. I took it home and played it. And then I immediately played it again. And again. And again.

Not long afterwards, the Villains were on one of their regular pilgrimages in search of the sun. We found ourselves one day on the French island of Martinique on a day-trip from our main base on St Lucia. Mrs V was trying on some clothes in a boutique, and there was a French-language radio station on in the background. Without warning, Johnny Cash came on – and it wasn’t the Man In Black.

I grooved….well, I was on holiday and unlikely ever to set foot in the shop again and didn’t care how ridiculous I looked. I may have been the last Glaswegian to pick up on the song, but I bet I was the first to hear it on a radio station in the middle of the french-speaking part of the West Indies.

The b-side of this single, as you’ll see from the sleeve is called Hunt. A version of this song was put on the follow-up LP, The Repulsion Box:-

mp3 : Sons and Daughters – Hunt

Now if this version is different from that on the b-side of Johnny Cash, I apologise. I have found a copy on e-bay and ordered it, but it never arrived in time to make this particular post…if it is different, I’ll try to add it in later on…

I thank you.

(2016 update).  It was different.  Here is the b-side

mp3 : Sons and Daughters – Hunt (single version)

Enjoy.

FIRST-RATE PROTEST POP

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were part of the UK music scene for 30 years prior to them calling it a day in November 2012.  In that time they released a whole bundle of singles and albums that raised awareness for all sorts of just causes and campaigns as well as getting across their viewpoint about a burning issue of the day, as was highlighted in the recent posting looking that 1992 single behave!

Some folk got awfully annoyed by Chumbawamba on the basis that they took life far too seriously, but any band that is prepared to tackle issues as diverse as domestic violence, religion, racism, fascism, war, homophobia and the decline of working class rights within short and catchy pop songs is all right by me.

It was really bizarre to seem them gain their 15 minutes of real fame in 1997 when the very catchy and anthemic Tubthumping went to #2 in the UK singles chart and I’m sure the band were bemused to see how it was adopted by the lager-swilling lad culture who regarded the concept of getting pissed and falling over only to pick yourself up and start all over again as something to boast and sing about at the top of your voice. Anyways, the song so was so ubiquitous at the time that just I quickly got sick of it and even almost 20 years on don’t enjoy listening to it.

Having wound up their own Agit-Pop label on the back of being frustrated at the failure of behave! to get into the charts they signed to One Little Indian with the first release in September 1993 being a joint single with Credit To The Nation, an act which was in fact a teenage UK hip-hop singer called Matty Hanson aka DJ Fusion with two backing dancers who had come to the fore earlier in the year thanks to the chart success of Call It What You Want, a single which sampled Smells Like Teen Spirit….a piece of music which got many of those in the press who worshipped Nirvana all hot and bothered under the collar.

This anti-fascism single, released at a time when right-wing politicians were rearing their ugly heads all over Europe, reached the Top 75 despite a lack of support from radio stations:-

mp3 : Chumbawamba & Credit To The Nation – Enough Is Enough
mp3 : Chumbawamba & Credit To The Nation – Hear No Bullshit (On Fire Mix)
mp3 : Chumbawamba & Credit To The Nation – The Day The Nazi Died (1993 mix)

Different versions of the b-sides can be found elsewhere

mp3 : Credit To The Nation – Hear No Bullshit. See No Bullsit, Say No Bullshit
mp3 : Chumbawamba – The Day The Nazi Died

Enjoy.

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (9)

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that White Riot had been written as a call-to-arms for disaffected youth in the UK. Eight years on, and the disaffection was still there – indeed it was increasing all the while thanks to a government whose policies were not of the caring, sharing variety.  Paul Weller‘s increasing frustration with young people not willing to engage in the political process on the basis that ‘they’re all the same aren’t they?’ or ‘it’s only one vote for me and that ain’t gonna bring about change is it?’ led to him penning the lyrics to Walls Come Tumbling Down with such lines as

“Are you gonna realise the class war’s real and not mythologised?’

mp3 : The Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down

It was released as a single in May 1985 and its jaunty radio-friendly tune, combined with a high-profile promotional campaign with appearances on all sorts of TV shows, helped it crash into the charts at #13 after which a TOTP appearance helped climb to its highest position of #6.  The fact that it dropped down the charts afterwards rather quickly was perhaps an indication that mixing pop and politics wasn’t helping the band find any new audiences.  But that didn’t stop the main man continuing to get on his soap box and promise that many of the songs that had been penned for inclusion on the second LP would further attack the unfairness of life under the Thatcher government.

As it turned out, the song’s lyrics became a bit of prophesy for what would happen over the next few years in Eastern Europe with the collapse of one totalitarian dictatorship after another and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, Annie Nightingale, in her final show of the decade which celebrated some of the best and most popular songs of the 80s dedicated it to everyone in Germany whose lives had clearly changed forever more.

There were three quite different songs on the b-side of the 12″

mp3 : The Style Council – Spin’ Drifting
mp3 : The Style Council – The Whole Point II
mp3 : The Style Council – Blood Sports

The first is by far the weakest of the tracks with a bland tune set to sixth-form lovelorn poetry while the last is an acoustic and angry attack on those who supported hunting in the UK countryside and provided further evidence of Weller’s willingness to pen political material of a very personal nature.

The Whole Point II however, is something really powerful and disturbing. The tune was first used on the Cafe Blue LP with a lyric that attacked the political classes in the UK. This updated and very sad version is from the perspective of someone who is contemplating suicide by jumping into the sea…….

The lyrics have undoubtedly aged Walls Come Tumbling Down, but it is a cracking tune that demands to be danced to.

Enjoy.

 

MY FIRST CELTIC/FOLK RECORD

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That’s Celtic with a ‘K’ incidentally……

Glasgow has, for many years now, used the month of January to stage a three-week festival called Celtic Connections which nowadays really does offer something for everyone and goes well beyond the celebration of fiddle and accordian based folk/trad music that has long been associated with my home country.  To get an idea of what 2016 had to offer, pay a visit over to Charity Chic as he took in a number of gigs and has provided some excellent reviews.

I went along to a couple of shows but pressure of work and a clash of commitments prevented me taking in more.  As I sat at one of them with a mate who really is big into his folk/trad music, as well as being a huge fan of post-punk and in particular Joy Division, I got thinking about how in some ways the final two singles and album by The Skids back in 1981 were ahead of their time in that nobody who was aiming at the young market in Scotland made use of folk or roots music. Instead, it was regarded, in Glasgow at least (as that’s all I can authentically vouch for as it was where I was raised and had lived all my years till that point) as being music for old fogies.  Nowadays, you look round an audience at a Celtic Connections gig and it takes in all age ranges with ever-increasing numbers in the 16-30 bracket.

I can take it in small doses.  And in much the same way, I can take the excesses of the final stuff by The Skids in small doses and only every few years.  It’s amazing to realise that this music was recorded in August/September 1981, just two and a half years after Into The Valley, one of the great new-wave anthems of all time, had propelled the band to fame.  Of course, by 1981 The Skids were really just a two-man outfit consisting of Richard Jobson and Russell Webb augmented by guest and session musicians.  Jobson has warned everyone the next LP was going to be different and those of us who had got our hands on a copy of the Strength Through Joy extra album with The Absolute Game (see this previous posting for details) were, shall we say, a tad concerned.

Joy bombed, not even making the Top 100.  The two singles also sold abysmally and it was no real surprise that Jobson went off to lick his wounds with poetry readings and it would be three years before he returned to music with The Armoury Show, again with the help of Russell Webb.

This was the band’s last ever single:-

mp3 : The Skids – Iona
mp3 : The Skids – Blood And Soil

The a-side is a shortened version of a track which lasts more than seven minutes on the album. It’s the second best thing on the album (the best was featured in this post last year) and by far the most accessible track.  The b-side, which is one I’ve grown to appreciate over the years as it does sound authentically traditional,  is an alternative version of the track which opens the album (and which still makes me grimace a fair bit).

mp3 : The Skids – Blood And Soil (album version)

One other thing worth noting and including today is that Stuart Adamson contributed guitar to Iona while the Fairlite, which is responsible for the bagpipe sound, is played by Mr Tubular Bells himself, Mike Oldfield (and that’s the first and likely last name check he gets on this blog).

The album closes with an ambitious but ultimately flawed track on the basis that the kitchen sink and the rest were thrown at it and there’s just too much going on to take it all in:-

mp3 : The Skids – Fields

The reason that particular track also features today is that Alan Rankine plays guitar on it while his band mate Billy Mackenzie contributes a backing vocal. Sadly, the opportunity to turn into something akin to an Associates track isn’t taken.

Enjoy…even if only for the fact it’s not the normal sort of fare on offer round these parts.

I HEARD SOME NEWS TODAY OH BOY…..

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With apologies to Swiss Adam for adding a posting on the same day as his excellent ICA. I prefer, if possible, to give guest contributors the floor to themselves.

January was an appalling month.

February just got a lot worse.

A good mate of mine in his mid-50s was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer just under two years ago. He decided there and then to fight things on his terms, declining courses of chemo or radiotherapy on the grounds that all they would do is make him miserable while only giving a slim chance of extending his life. He also very publicly, via social media, recorded his battle happy and willing to provide his family and friends with all sorts of updates. Every month on a particular date he would commemorate the fact that another period of time had passed and he was still there smiling and laughing away.

Things took a turn for the worse just after Christmas, but my mate again demonstrating his courage and determination saw in the New Year at home before admitting himself to hospital on the first day of 2016. His January has been spent in and out of hospital as the cancer began to spread viciously to other parts of his body and he required help to eat and drink to prevent kidney failure. He still kept up the running commentary, saying he was determined to get out and about and see folk, with a special effort likely to be made to see his beloved Raith Rovers at least one more time.

This afternoon he posted what he said would be his final note on social media. Pneumonia had set in and he had been given the news by his docs that he had 48 hours. He signed off ‘Thank You Everyone for your love and friendship. Talk of the times, the love and the laughing.”

He’s the bravest, inspirational and most selfless man I have ever had the privilege to know.

He was a huge music fan. He wasn’t a blogger but he did present shows on community radio in which he played all sorts of music that reflected his incredibly wide taste. He liked a number of hip and trendy bands and he was one of those on whom punk/new wave had a huge influence. At the same time however, he never hid away from the fact that he also loved just about every pop record that had conquered the charts when he was a lad,back in the 70s and he took great delight in airing them on his radio shows.

And then there was Roy Wood and Wizzard who he was convinced was the greatest musician and band ever to walk this planet. He got to meet his hero too, in an unforgettable night that was plastered all over social media and put the widest of grins on the faces of everyone who knew him.

But it’s approaching a time when he no longer will be with us and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m missing him already. I’m sad that I never got the chance to say my final farewell in person as the pneumonia came on very quickly and unexpectedly and the plans to travel the 70-odd miles to the hospital this coming Friday are now worthless.

Matthew from Song By Toad also knew my mate and in his brilliantly succinct way has just captured exactly how so many of us are feeling when he replied back to my mate “Sorry. I know you want us to remember the good times, and soon we will, but for now it’s just sad as fuck.”

He was keen on this lot. I’ll think of him every time it pops up on shuffle

mp3 : The Coral – Pass It On

Things surely, can only get better.

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