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THE CINERAMA SINGLES (4)

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The solution to the problems with record labels? Set up your own…….

And thus Scopitone Records was established in 2000 for the specific purpose of releasing records by Cinerama (actually, it was initially all CD based releases as that was the way the music industry had gone at the turn of the century).

First up was TONECD 001, released in February 2000:-

mp3 : Cinerama – Manhattan

Another epic and rich ballad from the prespective of a man caught between two loves. It was backed by two other songs:-

mp3 : Cinerama – London
mp3 : Cinerama – Film

His old band had of course been famed for tackling cover versions in ways that the songs sounded nothing like the original. And in 99% of the cases, he and TWP had pulled it off in style. Here’s the proof that he hadn’t lost that particular skill. London, for those of you who don’t know, is a fantastic take on a Smiths b-side. It is slowed down to a crawling pace where the original had been among the most frantic and energetic tunes that Johnny Marr had penned.

Film is another quality b-side in keeping with what we had been provided in the earlier singles on Cooking Vinyl.

Having said that, I prefer the version that had been recorded the previous year for a Peel Session:-

mp3 : Cinerama – Film (Peel Session)

Enjoy.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #73 : CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

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A guest posting from George Forsyth

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ANY song that begins with a gruff male voice saying “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast ‘n’ bulbous, got me?” will really grab your attention. And it would be churlish in the extreme not include that song on this compilation.

It’s taken from Captain Beefheart’s best known album, and the first album of his I heard. Utter shit, unlistenable, load of bollocks. These are some phrases that might occur to you, and certainly occurred to me at the time, if it’s the first Beefheart album you listen to. That album is Troutmask Replica. A few years later I heard Clear Spot and The Spotlight Kid, and these are much more accessible, two very fine rock albums, some great blues songs, even soul tracks, and a great introduction to one aspect of Captain Beefheart’s music.

I would then recommend Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), and make sure you get the 1978 release. And then you’re hooked, and you’ll pick up the rest, some of which are a bit patchy, and one is, well, bland, and that’s not something usually associated with Beefheart’s music.

One other thing that holds a great appeal are the song titles, no-one I don’t think comes close to writing such brilliant titles.

Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish.
My Human Gets Me Blues.
She’s Too Much for My Mirror.
I Wanna Find a Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have to Go.
My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains.
When I See Mommy I Feel Like a Mummy.
Ice Cream For Crow.

By the way, none of them are included here.

So here’s ten tracks by Captain Beefheart, not representative of his output, just some tracks that I definitely like and that just possibly some of you might like. There’s blues, rock, pop, soul, jazz, prog, and weird. And not just all in one song, although one of them gets quite close.

1. Bat Chain Puller

Track 6 from Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller). If you don’t like this, stop here. Of course, that means your taste in music has gone badly, BADLY, awry, because this song is outstanding, a great vocal, a relentless, pumping, rhythm, some great musical flourishes and variations, but god-alone knows what the hell this song is about.

2. Blabber’n’smoke

From The Spotlight Kid.

3. Moonlight on Vermont

From Troutmask Replica.

4. Gimme Dat Harp Boy

From the 1968 album Strictly Personal. More blues with a Beefheart twist. As with quite a few of his records, there’s a tale of betrayal and dispute with this release, but it’s not as bad as some reviews have made out.

5. Woe is uh me bop

From Lick My Decals Off, Baby. I bought this in Swordfish Records, Birmingham, a shop owned by a Beefheart fanatic.

6. Plastic Factory

From the Safe as Milk album. More evidence that Beefheart was just a bluesman at heart? There used to be record shop in Birmingham called Plastic Factory; I’m certain this song is not about it.

7. Pachuco Cadaver

From Troutmask Replica.

8. Full Moon, Hot Sun

From Unconditionally Guaranteed. This was the album that Beefheart disowned, and that caused his band to walk out on him, because they felt it wasn’t challenging enough. Also they were, allegedly, getting paid in food stamps, which probably didn’t help. But it’s not a bad record, it’s straightforward(ish) pop/rock/blues

9.  Making Love to A Vampire With a Monkey on my Knee

From Doc At The Radar Station. Come on, how could I not include a song with that title!

10. Circumstances

From Clear Spot. Another towering vocal, and a great blues track

In the last place I taught at, I must have wittered on about Beefheart to one class quite a bit, without ever playing them a tune (something I stopped doing many years ago, and didn’t start again until my last year in the job, and it was usually Welsh prog band Gong, or King Crimson).

Anyway, one young man had a word with me at the end of what was probably a thoroughly exciting calculus lesson, and said he’d bought a Beefheart album, and that him and his dad had played it in the car. “Not Troutmask Replica, not Troutmask Replica, not Troutmask Replica” I was thinking.

“Which one, Sam?” I asked, hoping for Clear Spot or The Spotlight Kid. You, dear reader, already know the answer. A lovely young man, he did not swear or use any even mildly risqué words when describing what him and his dad thought of it.

A final word about Troutmask Replica. To listen, sit yourself down in your music room, shut the door, and play in its entirety. It’s an arresting listen. I did so in preparation for this ICA and on several occasions I had to put down my Rebus book and just listen.

I then put on Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), turned up the volume more, by which point the doorbell in the room started flashing. (The music room is in the converted attic, and to save my partner walking up the two flights of stairs we bought one of those remote/wireless bells).

“A cup of tea” I thought.

No, just a polite reminder that it was “a bit loud, George”.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #72 : THE MEKONS

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A GUEST POSTING FROM GEORGE FORSYTH

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JC writes…….

There’s a healthy dose of ICAs in the pipeline, courtesy of guest contributors.  I’m really pleased that George has come on board – he was responsible for what was a very entertaining, informative and educational blog called Jim McLean’s Rabbit.  He’s a Scotsman who not too long ago upped sticks for a new life in Portugal as a peanut farmer.  Those of you who frequent Charity Chic’s place will know that George is very fond of leaving the occasional friendly and dry-witted comment there.  This is the first of  two back-to-back ICAs from him.  Neither of his chosen acts are all that familiar to me, but that’s what makes this series such a joy.

 

There are twenty-one albums by The Mekons up here in the music room. Which is almost their entire output, bar one compilation album from a few years back (Heaven & Hell: The Very Best of the Mekons ) and the album Pussy, King of the Pirates they made with Kathy Acker in 1996, which I think I bought second hand from Polar Bear records in Birmingham many years ago, but I must have traded it in again.

So here’s ten tracks, and only one from their first incarnation, when they were punk (‘The Quality of Mercy is Not Strnen’), then post-punk (‘The Mekons aka Devils Rats and Piggies a Special Message from Godzilla’ and ‘The Mekons Story’), and the track here is the first from a double 7 inch EP, not from any of those three albums.

There was a radical change in direction in 1984, as Charity Chic mentioned a couple of weeks back, when The Mekons started making records with more than a hint of country, then ca. 1989 the music became more “indie/alternative” for a few years and latterly more folk-tinged. All of which may have you running for the hills, but that would be a catastrophic mistake, because The Mekons are a great band (apart from those early years).

This is not some sort of My Most Favourite Mekons tracks, it’s not meant to be representative of their output, it’s simply ten tracks that I particularly like. If I was to do this ICA next week I’d come up with ten different tracks. Because The Mekons are a great band (apart from those early years). I may have mentioned that already.

(Simply click on the Track Number to get the mp3s)

Track 1. Memphis Egypt 

This is track 1 from the 1989 album The Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Not a bad track on the album. Has been, on occasion, One Of The Ten Best Albums Of All Time. The first album of their “indie/alternative” era.

Track 2. Alone and Forsaken

From the “country-punk” album Edge Of The World.

You really need to listen to the lyric on this one.

Track 3. Funeral

From the 1991 album The Curse Of The Mekons

Track 4. Dear Sausage

From 1993 album I ♥ Mekons

Track 5. Tourettes

From the 1998 album Me.

There are some rather rude words in this so in the name-of-the-sweet-lord do not play this when your granny’s in the room. But it’s a song that could very well make you laugh. Or not, if you’re a bit prudish.

Track 6. Teeth

From the 1980 7-inch EP.

When deciding what tracks to include I played The Mekons Story in its entirety and the 1980 album Devils Rats… and I thought, well, they were quite interesting but they won’t be getting played again anytime soon. Just like the Quality if Mercy album (the one with a photo of the Gang of Four on it, by mistake), which was the very first Mekons album I heard, in 1984, leant to me by a friend. And I thought “what’s this shit!”. It remains an album I’m not overly keen on. But “Teeth” is well worth a listen.

Track 7. Spinning Round in Flames

From the 1994 album Retreat From Memphis.

I have this on vinyl, there are two discs, one plays at 33 and1/3 and the other at 45. So not having listened to the 45rpm disc too often I put it on. Which involves, on my turntable, changing unscrewing one motor/belt-drive thingy and replacing it with the one for 45s, and re-attaching the belt. Which is a bit of a pain in the bum, it takes me longer to do this than the length of your average 1970s pop song.

So I played this portion of Retreat From Memphis, and it wasn’t that good. After all that faffing around. Just as well I’ve got nothing better to with my time. So I thought I’ll put on The Widowmaker EP (Butthole Surfers). Christ, that’s not too good either! To rectify my increasingly bad mood I put on Fox On The Run, which to this day remains one of the five finest “pop” songs ever made.

Anyway, track 7 here, Spinning Round in Flames is on side 2 of the 33 and 1/3 disc. Retreat From Memphis is not one of The Mekons albums you must own, but it certainly has some good songs. On the 33 and 1/3 disc. You know, they could have made the second disc a one-sided 33 amd 1/3. It would have made life a lot easier.

Track 8. Last Dance

The penultimate track from Fear And Whiskey, the first album The Mekons made after their hiatus, and I think one of the first alt-country albums. Some people refer to it as country punk. And an album you really should possess.

Track 9. Myth

From the Journey To The End Of The Night album.

Track 10. Revenge

From the live album New York, originally a cassette-only release, but now you can get it easily enough on cd.

So there you are. No “Ghost Of American Astronaut”, no “Empire Of The Senseless”, no “Where were you”.

One time I saw The Mekons live, in the Little Civic in Wolverhampton, in the late 1990s, there were 37 people in the audience. I thought the band (all 7 or 8 of them, from memory) might be a little disheartened, some of them live in the USA I think, so they all get together, put on some shows in the UK, and THIRTY-SEVEN people turn out. It’s enough to give you a strapadichtomy. Because, and I might have hinted at this already, The Mekons are a great band. Apart from those early years.

And here’s one of the best pop songs ever made:

George

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #71 – SIMPLE MINDS

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Resurrecting the piece for the 45 45s re-run just two days ago provided the inspiration. Suffice to say that this ICA is restricted to the selections from the following albums:-

Life In A Day – released March 1979
Real To Real Cacophony – released November 1979
Empires and Dance – released September 1980
Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call – September 1981
New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84) – September 1982

I won’t include Love Song in the listing as it was featured just 48 hours ago. So without further delay…..but I will warn you that there’s a few singles featured today. They weren’t really for keeping their best material preserved for b-sides or just album tracks.

SIDE A

1. Theme For Great Cities (from Sister Feelings Call)

A curve-ball to start with, opening the ICA with an instrumental. I still recall hearing this for the first time and thinking it was as far removed as possible from the music anyone would ever associate with Glasgow. It’s an astonishing rich, textured, brilliantly structured piece of music which set me on the path to a better understanding and appreciation of electronic music.

2. Changeling (from Real to Real Cacophony)

Fans of PiL, Gang of Four, Wire and Magazine will surely appreciate this album version of a flop single from late 79. Jagged and edgy, it’s a fine fusion of the new wave guitars and the synth stuff that was beginning to take a grip of many an imagination and would lead to some of the best UK pop of the following decade.

3. Someone Somewhere In Summertime (from New Gold Dream)

This was the album that really broke the band. Its ten tracks contain three hit singles (two of which had charted before the LP hit the shops) and thus turned the band into a hot ticket almost overnight. This was the third of the 45s and the opening track of the album. Unlike the previous two tracks on the ICA, this one is very much of its time – it sounds like 1982 and has nothing to link it back to the band’s punk/new wave roots. It’s dreamy build up to the anthemic chorus was the first sign that the small and medium-sized halls would no longer be where you’d find the band ply its trade in future years.

4. Chelsea Girl (single version – originally from Life In A Day)

The band had, from the earliest of days, displayed a real ability to churn out a catchy pop tune, as evidenced by what was their second ever single. Every bit as anthemic as the later hits, it was let down by a bit of a stale and unimaginative production. But then again, everyone at the time was wondering how best to capture these new fangled sounds.

5. This Fear Of Gods (from Empires and Dance)

It was the band’s misfortune to be on Arista Records for this album as the label was unable to promote properly an album that was described on its release by Paul Morley as ‘authentic new torch music….an LP of terror-songs, vigilance and vanity‘. It was as dark and deep and wonderful as anything Joy Division were producing, but with a disco-beat….

SIDE B

1. I Travel (from Empires and Dance)

Also as wonderful as anything Joy Division were producing, but with Simple Minds around you had to take off your overcoat and get yourself on to that dance floor. It’s a song that has been re-produced and remixed on countless occasions, sometimes to great effect and often to its detriment. This is the original single version that really should have been a huge hit.

2. The American (from Sister Feelings Call)

As much as I love this song, I can’t help but wonder how it might have sounded if someone other than prog legend Steve Hillage had been in the producer’s chair. Someone with more new wave tendencies would have had altered the guitar and bass sounds to something more akin to John McGeough and Barry Adamson‘s work with Magazine and it would have come belting out of the speakers with a sense of menace rather than being perhaps a bit too polished.

3. Big Sleep (from New Gold Dream)

As mentioned earlier, this was the album that really broke the band. They had always been a cracking live act, but the commercial success seemed to bring out the best in them – I saw them three times in 1982 and Big Sleep was the track that got the hairs on the neck standing up, thanks to the combination of wonderfully understated guitar playing from Charlie Burchill, bass slapping with style from Derek Forbes and the catchy, repetitive keyboard contribution from Mick McNeill…..and to be fair to the much derided singing style of Jim Kerr, his delivery in this instance is first-rate.

4. Sweat In Bullet (12″ version – originally from Sons and Fascination)

Time to get yourself back on that dance floor again. Like every other act from the 80s, the singles were subjected to different mixes and extended versions for use on 12″ vinyl. This was one of the most effective but still failed to provide the breakthrough and crossover hit.

5. Premonition (Peel Session – original version on Real to Real Cacophony)

Designed to make you want to turn this imaginary piece of vinyl back over to Side A. Recorded in December 1979 and broadcast twice in January 1980. It was unimaginable back then that within five years they would be arena rock gods…..

mp3 : Simple Minds – Theme For Great Cities
mp3 : Simple Minds – Changeling
mp3 : Simple Minds – Someone Somewhere In Summertime
mp3 : Simple Minds – Chelsea Girl
mp3 : Simple Minds – This Fear Of Gods

mp3 : Simple Minds – I Travel
mp3 : Simple Minds – The American
mp3 : Simple Minds – Big Sleep
mp3 : Simple Minds – Sweat In Bullet
mp3 : Simple Minds – Premonition

Enjoy.

THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (17)

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Disc 12 is Rock The Casbah.

Combat Rock had not turned out to be a return to the punk origins as many had thought might be the case based on its lead off single.  It was also clear that the record company were now, for whatever reason, calling more of the shots as Rock The Casbah was issued just seven weeks after Know Your Rights when there had previously been considerable gaps between the singles.

The move was as much a response to the reception given to the album, particularly in America.  There is no doubt that Rock the Casbah was always going to be a single, as evidenced by the promo video being made.  I’m not sure how many of you have noticed however, that the drummer in the video is none other than Terry Chimes and not Topper Headon….the irony of course being that we would later learn Rock The Casbah was mostly written by the now departed drummer who had left the band on the eve of the tour to promote the album, with exhaustion being cited.

This is a single like no other in the history of The Clash, at least during their time together as a band.  It didn’t do all that brilliantly in the UK, stalling at #30 and perhaps providing evidence that long time fans were finding it hard to come to terms with the new sound.  But elsewhere, where The Clash hadn’t really enjoyed huge success before, the single brought fame and fortune – Top 5 in both Australia and New Zealand, Top 20 across much of Europe and most crucially, Top 10 in the USA in both mainstream and dance charts.

It’s a song driven along in the main by the disco beat and piano playing, but there’s some decent contributions from Mick on guitar while Joe’s lyrics are among the catchiest he ever penned.  It’s a terrific and enduring pop song that, if written and recorded in that style by any other band of the era, would equally have proven to be a hit.  It’s the one song by The Clash that just about everyone aged 45-60 nowadays can easily recall.

It was released in the UK on 7″ and 12″ vinyl. The former contained a decent sounding and poppy b-side albeit it does on for maybe a minute too long)  which we would later learn was written by Paul Simonon about issues he was having in a long-term relationship but unlike Guns Of Brixton the vocal was taken on by Joe.  The latter had an instrumental remix of the a-side on offer:-

mp3 : The Clash – Rock The Casbah
mp3 : The Clash – Long Time Jerk
mp3 : The Clash – Mustapha Dance

ROCK THE CASBAH  : Released 11 June 1982 : #30 in the UK singles chart (#15 on 1991 re-release)

I was aware of The Clash when punk happened because that was what started us going, although I don’t think Joy Division were punk like that.  I think we were something else that came after that didn’t have a name.

‘Rock The Casbah’ is my favourite track. I heard it in New York when we first started going there in the early 80s after the demise of Joy Division. We were struggling a bit because Ian’s death meant we couldn’t go in that direction anymore, we’d peaked in that sound.

Clubs in NY were ‘new wave’ and the music was infinitely better than in England. For a start they were often in big warehouses.  There was the Peppermint Lounge, Danceteria, Hurrah’s, AM-PM…tons of them. They weren’t playing commercial dance music, but club tracks by English groups…and the two absolute classics were ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell and ‘Rock The Casbah.’

It broke form. I believe it was written by the drummer. It really cut it in a club and showed me you can make club music that’s not cheesy – like nightclub music was in England at the time.  Here was a proper group, making proper music, but they were using traditional rock’n’roll instruments to make music that dominated a New York club scene.  That was a massive inspiration for me.

The song has great rhythmic content and a great hookline. It’s The Clash at their best.  OK, it’s not slashing guitars and a 190bpm tempo – but it’s a fucking great, really, really good song.

Bernard Sumner, Joy Division & New Order

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (14)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 6 MAY 2008

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If he gets round to reading this, I can hear Jacques the Kipper scream at his PC screen (sorry, make that Mac screen – he’s posh), WWWWHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAATT? Given what I’ve chosen at #14, I don’t think his will be an isolated scream.

Your humble scribe and his long-term musical buddy have very diverse opinions on Simple Minds. Our solution is just to agree to disagree. Maybe it’s something to do with where I was born and bred.

Nowadays, there are all sorts of great venues dotted around the city centre of Glasgow and beyond for bands to pitch up and play. But 30 years ago, it was either the Apollo or a mere handful of pubs – all of whom had a strict door policy. The local evening paper would carry adverts every week for 5 or 6 venues (The Dial Inn and The Burns Howff are two that I seem to recall), but every week it would be the same 5 or 6 acts that appeared – and all of them had long hair and wore either cheese-cloth shirts and flares or tight-fitting t-shirts and leather strides. In short, it was a scene dominated by really awful pub-rock and acts who wanted to be the new Led Zeppelin.

In the pre-Postcard era, it was Simple Minds who stood out from that crowd, for they didn’t rely on loud guitars, screaming vocals and pounding drums – they had a keyboard player!! Someone at school said that they weren’t a new band at all, but instead just the latest line-up of a Glasgow punk act called Johnny And The Self Abusers (astonishing as it may seem, this turned out to be true!!)

The band started to get some local media attention and songs were being played on the local commercial radio station. Then they were signed by a major record label and you could buy their single and LPs in all the local shops. Many of us rushed out and bought these records, and many of us found ourselves bemused.

The first three albums by the band saw a mixture of a few easily accessible pop tunes, but they were buried among a lot of stuff that seemed to verge on the dreaded and awful prog-rock. Nowadays, its easy to look back and see the influences were in fact more European-orientated acts like Kraftwerk and Can, but here in Glasgow very little was known about such bands. The band had a few early stand out tracks – in particular the singles Life In A Day and Chelsea Girl, as well as one particularly infectious track in I Travel that made you want to get on the dance floor and shake your hips. Were discos the real future for Simple Minds??

In 1981, the band moved to Virgin Records who had something of a decent track record making a success of slightly off-kilter new wave bands such as Magazine, XTC, PiL and The Skids. The first release was an LP called Sons and Fascination, the initial copies of which came with a bonus LP called Sister Feelings’ Call (the latter would eventually be released as a stand-alone record).

It was still very much a mix of the pop and the prog, but the pop was pretty sensational. And the prog was somehow different (we would later come to recognise much of it as trance….). The pop meanwhile was aimed very much at the dance floor, but not with a disco beat. It was very similar to records that were coming out of Sheffield by a band called The Human League, and looking back we can see it was the start of a new era and new style of synth-pop that brought us bands such as New Order and Depeche Mode.

The first time I heard the single that I’ve picked at #14 was at a Glasgow city centre disco where ‘alternative’ nights of sorts were held on Sunday evenings. Something came on with a long and attention-grabbing pulsating intro. Then came a vocal that sounded awfully familiar….that can’t be Jim Kerr…surely not….

It was only after it had finished, when I went over to the DJ’s booth to ask, did I find out that it was the forthcoming record by Simple Minds. The DJ had been given an advance copy to try out at the ‘alt’ evening. I’m sure it was played on at least two more occasions that night and filled the (admittedly small) floor each time.

Love Song turned out to be the biggest success for the band up to that point. Before long, the band were aiming for pop success at the expense of everything else, and by the mid 80s they had succeeded, thanks to a world-wide hit with Don’t You Forget About Me. They were now, without any shadow of a doubt, stadium rockers of the corporate kind – hugely popular with the masses. They had even started writing songs such as Waterfront which became the unofficial sing-a-long anthem for Glasgow for a short while. All this might have made the boys rich and popular, but it also made them mundane, mediocre and meaningless.

It was now embarrassing to actually admit you were once a fan. And in some folks eyes, that is still the case.

But I’ll always stand by the majesty of the turn of the decadeand early 80s Simple Minds……

mp3 : Simple Minds – Love Song (extended)
mp3 : Simple Minds – This Earth That You Walk Upon

Bonus song from the punk era:-

mp3 : Johnny And The Self Abusers – Saints and Sinners*

* also the name of a legendary Glasgow venue. It would later change ownership and name and become King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.

THE £20 CHALLENGE (Week Two)

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JC writes…..

There’s a key reference in this week’s tale which will require a bit of explaining to some of the blog’s overseas readers.  I’ve decided to put that addition in (as well as provide a link to the charity shop from which the CD was purchased), but otherwise what follows comes from the talented fingertips of Badger….

The first text message said:-

‘I’m off to buy your first CD I’ll pop it round your place later’.

I have to admit, I have been worried what exactly SWC would present me with. Since I had ‘the only good idea in my life’ last week, he has been asking me if I like a variety of bands ranging from Nickelback to long lost Oxford Radiohead clones Subcircus. The joy with this challenge is that I could literally get anything. He might try and get something embarrassing but knowing SWC he couldn’t stoop to buying something like Meatloaf or Shania Twain. Hopefully.

The second text message arrives when I am in an important meeting, luckily we are about to stop for what they call a ‘comfort break’. In other words, after an hour in a room everyone needs a piss, a cigarette or just five minutes sanity time. Seriously you know its time for a break when, an annoying man with NHS glasses and lisp says ‘Let’s refill the Reservoir of Knowledge’ – and that happened twenty minutes ago.

The second text message reads thus:-

“She says, It’s not you, it’s me / I need a little time, a little space / A place to find myself again, you know / Oh yeah, I know a goodbye when I hear it/ She smiles but her heart’s already out there/ Walking down the street”.

Obviously it’s a lyric. One that I don’t really recognise, so I scribble it down and phone the wife.

“Why are you quoting Jimmy Nail lyrics at me?” she asks.

“Stupid Boy Project” is my answer;

She sighs and then says “Ain’t No Doubt’ probably his finest moment, Not that there is a great deal of competition, I remember it knocked ‘Abba-esque’ by Erasure off Number One, my boyfriend at the time was a massive Erasure fan, that is why I wasn’t surprised when he left me for the guy who worked at Bovey Bikes”.

This is a true story, before me, my wife was with a chap called Jason, who left her for the bloke she worked with in a bike shop in the small Devon town of Bovey Tracey. They emigrated to Australia about ten years later.

I quickly send SWC a text:-

‘Have you bought me a Jimmy Nail CD? I told you to buy something I might like. I don’t like Jimmy Nail’.

His reply was swift:-

‘What about Auf Wiedersehn Pet?.

I don’t have time to tell him to fuck off as lisp man is calling us back in to discuss ‘Thinking outside the box”.

So it was with some fear that I opened the door to him later that evening, it wasn’t all bad, he’d got caught in a hail storm as he cycled the two miles to my house from his. After I had stopped laughing at his drenched state, I offer him a cup of tea. He then hands me a bag marked ‘Chudleigh Mare & Foal Sanctuary’.

“Thanks” I said and put the bag on the table and return to the kitchen to make the tea. SWC has this bad habit, he kind of makes himself at home at my place – I mean I don’t mind, he is always welcome, but this means he puts the stereo on or helps himself to the biscuits – today he does both – he has three chocolate digestives in his hand when I return carrying the tea, and he has put the stereo on – it’s the CD from the bag.

You will be relieved to know it’s not Jimmy Nail. As fantastic as his 1992 album ‘Growing Up in Public’ no doubt is. I am delighted when track one starts as I don’t hear the croaky vocals of the Geordie Elvis. Of course it’s not, SWC wouldn’t buy Jimmy Nail, he is far too self-conscious for that. “Did you fall for my deliberate bluff?” he said. “Yes I bloody did” I said, removing the chocolate digestives from out of his reach. I also give him the smallest cup of tea, which wipes the smirk off his face.

So what did he buy? Well he did rather well.

He bought me a copy of ‘Star’ by Belly. An album I have never properly owned but always meant to. I think I had a taped copy whilst at University. For those in the dark, Belly were formed by Tanya Donnelly ex of the Throwing Muses and (briefly) The Breeders in 1991 and were a band I saw in Leeds in 1993 on a joint headline tour with Radiohead (which was also, I think, the first time I saw Radiohead, although I seem to remember seeing Suede with them as a support?). Of note in February 2016, they announced that they were reforming with new material.

Their first album ‘Star’ is a stunning record. It has aged very well, full of happy/sad sugar-coated indie pop that has this excellent wooziness running through it. In tracks like ‘Gepetto’, ‘Feed the Tree’ and my personal favourite ‘Slow Dog’ they had three tracks which filled the indie dance floors of my early(ish) 20s.

mp3 : Belly – Gepetto
mp3 : Belly – Feed The Tree
mp3 : Belly – Slow Dog

SWC left about forty minutes later – he handed me the envelope (slightly wet) and the money inside – there is £17.50 in there – which means he paid £1.50 for the CD. Absolute Bargain, I would have paid full price for it to be honest.

Badger

JC addendum

I had a  piece on Belly in the TVV pipeline, but rather than have it come up again soon, I’ll hold it back for a while yet.  In the meantime, here’s a cover version by the band which appeared as a b-side to the single release of Feed The Tree.  One for all aficionados of Walt Disney:

mp3 : Belly – Trust In Me

Enjoy

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