As with all new music back in 1979, the first place you would get to hear it would be across the airwaves of BBC Radio One, 247 on the Medium Wave.

I’ve no idea what DJ was spinning the discs when this came but he did introduce it as the new single by Buzzcocks.  I thought he had made a huge error.  Yes, it did musically sound like them, but unless Pete Shelley had been replaced as vocalist by one of The Stranglers, then this was most certainly another group.

A couple of weeks later and I saw them perform the new single on Top of the Pops and the mystery solved itself when the camera panned over to the mimed performance and it was Steve Diggle who was doing the singing as Pete moped around in the background trying unsuccessfully to be a team player.

Maybe it was the criticism of the vocal delivery on ‘Happy’ that had hit home or maybe it was just that the lead guitarist had come up with the best available song for the next 45.  Harmony In My Head was as post-punk/new wave as it came but the record buying public didn’t fall for it as it spent just three weeks in the Top 40 and got no higher than #32 – it was a far cry from the heady days of Ever Fallen In Love less than a year previously.

mp3 : Buzzcocks – Harmony In My Head
mp3 : Buzzcocks – Something’s Gone Wrong Again

Three singles in 1979 had suffered declining sales.  The third LP was going to be critical…..as indeed was the UK tour that had just been announced.


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No….come back. There’s no need to be scared.  Or bemused.

I personally don’t have any Calvin Harris songs in my ownership, but the laptop does have a fair few of them stored on the hard drive as it is used to update Mrs V’s i-pod and she’s a massive fan of the Dumfries-born superstar DJ.

I won’t waste your time with any bio details or the likes as he’s probably the best known (and richest) Scot in the contemporary music scene right now.  I will say he is incredibly good at what he does.

mp3 : Calvin Harris feat. Tinie Tempah – Drinking From The Bottle





I’ve always been amazed and humbled that this blog, and its predecessor, has managed to attract so many regular followers from all parts of the planet. One of the first to latch on to what I was trying to do was Jeff from Chicago with whom I exchanged a few e-mails about music and sport.

We got talking on one occasion about football and Jeff informed me that as he watched a lot of matches from the UK via satellite, he had gotten each of his kids to adopt a side to try to get them interested in things. It had worked to some degree but he wanted to do something different for his youngest daughter and so he asked for some info on my team, Raith Rovers, as he thought it would be neat (and I’m sure that was the word he used) for her to have them as her team of choice.

One thing led to another, and before long Jeff was actually making his way to Scotland to watch Raith Rovers play in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup in April 2010 where he met up with a number of my fellow friends including two contributors to the blog, Mr John Greer and Jacques the Kipper.

We’ve all continued to stay in touch with Jeff over the years – he often sends texts and messages on Saturday afternoons looking for live updates from the Rovers games. He’s nowadays a long way from Chicago, having taken a job that saw him and his family move to North Carolina, and so when he leaves comments nowadays on the blog it is usually just as plain old Jeff.

He did something really nice last week. Like many of the rest of us of a certain age, it can take time to master the techniques of social media but once he worked out how to do a certain shortcut for posting on Facebook he gave a big plug to this blog, adding that there are great ‘mixtapes’ to download. Almost immediately one of his friends (hi Elizabeth!!) said ‘totally made my Saturday night. Great site. Thanks for sharing.’

Now that the Blue Jays have been eliminated from the baseball, I finally have a bit more free time on my hands and one of the first things I wanted to do was this, a sort of companion piece to the earlier ‘One Hour Indie Disco’ of which he is a fan:-

mp3 : Various – This One’s For Jeff

Track Listing

Why Can’t I Be You? – The Cure
Hit The Ground – The Darling Buds
World Shut Your Mouth – Julian Cope
What Went Wrong This Time? – The Siddeleys
Song For A Future Generation – The B52’s
Union City Blue – Blondie
Winter In The Hamptons – Josh Rouse
Tears In Your Cup – Cats On Fire
French Disko – Stereolab
Intergalactic – Beastie Boys
Start! – The Jam
Cruiser’s Creek – The Fall
Ask – The Smiths
Come Saturday – The Pains Of The Pure At Heart
Gouge Away – The Pixies
The Sun A Small Star – The Servants
Oblivious – Aztec Camera
Fell In Love With A Girl – The White Stripes
Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft – The Wedding Present
Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones

Forty seconds over the allocated time. But I just couldn’t fade out the final song.




Second posting about this artiste in quick succession.  But this time it doesn’t feature his inital backing band and it only highlights how even two ICAs wouldn’t really do justice.

There are times when its the music that makes a song so utterly fantastic. Then there are other times when its the lyrics that make a song so utterly memorable. And just sometimes, both music and lyrics are as stunning as the other…

in 1986, the LP King Of America was released. It was the tenth LP in the career of Elvis Costello, and for the first time in seven years he hadn’t relied on the talents of The Attractions. Instead, it was a record released by The Costello Show featuring the Attractions and Confederates. Another change was that the songs were credited to Declan McManus, the singer’s real as opposed to stage name.

The Confederates were not a band as such, but instead a collection of top session musicians, most of whom had played and recorded with Elvis Presley. Some folk reckon its this fact that led to the songs not being credited to the be-spectacled Elvis….

Now I’m no great expert on every recording made by Elvis Costello, but I usually argue that this is the best LP he ever made. It’s a truly stunning bit of work that contains lyrics that go in many different directions – there’s the bitter and twisted, the poetically lovely, the hilarious put-downs and the occasional bit of self-deprecation – all underscored by some of the best and most varied music he would ever commit to one LP. As evidenced by the words to Brilliant Mistake, the LP’s opener:-

He thought he was the King of America
Where they pour Coca Cola just like vintage wine
Now I try hard not to become hysterical
But I’m not sure if I am laughing or crying

I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this hurtin’ feeling disappear
Like it was common sense
It was a fine idea at the time
Now it’s a brilliant mistake

She said that she was working for the ABC News
It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use
Her perfume was unspeakable
It lingered in the air
Like her artificial laughter
Her mementos of affairs

“Oh” I said “I see you know him”
“Isn’t that very fortunate for you”
And she showed me his calling card
He came third or fourth and there were more than one or two

He was a fine idea at the time
Now he’s a brilliant mistake

He thought he was the King of America
But it was just a boulevard of broken dreams
A trick they do with mirrors and with chemicals
The words of love in whispers
And the axe of love in screams

I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
And watch this lovin’ feeling disappear
Like it was common sense

I was a fine idea at the time
Now I’m a brilliant mistake

This would stand alone as a near perfect bit of poetry – and like so many of the best poems, it has a number of interpretations.

EC himself in an interview in 1986 said:-

“Brilliant Mistake is a sad song, but it’s also sort of funny. It’s about America and it’s about lost ambition, not lack of inspiration. It’s about a disappointed or frustrated belief. It’s a song that people are going to read wrong. One line in it is, ‘There’s a trick they do with mirrors and with chemicals.’ It means celluloid and mirrors, movie cameras. It occurred to me the other day that people will think it’s a reference to cocaine. “

However, a more commonly held view was that Elvis was in the midst of a very painful and messy divorce, and that the heart of the song was a criticism of himself and his behaviour.

mp3 : The Costello Show – Brilliant Mistake

Now I make no apologies for adding a second song to this post – another from the LP and the track that I believe is the best he’s ever recorded:-

mp3 : The Costello Show – Little Palaces

This is basically a solo song – the acoustic guitar and mandolin are played by Elvis, with just a hint of string bass to back it up, played by Jerry Scheff. The closing few minutes of this song often bring a tear to my eye – the raw and powerful images invoked by the lyric and the traditional almost folk-like music.

I remember also when this LP was released that many long-time fans thought this would be the end of The Attractions. But instead, within six months, another LP – Blood & Chocolate – was released, and this was a bona fide band record.

And sometimes I think that just might be the best EC album……

Happy Listening.




It was earlier this year that jimdoes, in pulling together an excellent ICA on Sonic Youth, took a deserved sideways swipe at me for never previously having featured the band.

It’s now been 35 years since Sonic Youth began to make music and 5 years since they broke up. They’re yet another act who have never appear to have been all that bothered about breaking into the mainstream or even enjoying moderate chart success, even when during the 90s they were on the roster of Geffen Records, part of the giant MCA media operations.

One of the reasons they weren’t here before the ICA is that I can’t really class myself as a fan of Sonic Youth; I’m more of an admirer owning a couple of albums and a copy of the DVD compilation of the videos they have made over the years to go with the various singles from the 90s.

One of the albums I do have is Dirty released in 1992. Or as someone once said to me, the record the band made when asked to try to come up with something as spectacular as had been delivered by Nirvana.

Dirty was produced by Butch Vig, who was of course at the helm of Nevermind.

Dirty, unlike any other Sonic Youth LP spawned four singles, two of which made the Top 30 in the UK charts.

This was the lead-off single and opening track on the LP (together with its b-sides):-

mp3 : Sonic Youth – 100%
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Creme Brulee
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Genetic
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Hendrix Necro

Released in July 1992, it peaked at #28 in the UK, and provided the band with their biggest ever success in their homeland with a #4 placing on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. While this was impressive enough for a band that had always been cult more than anything else, it was probably a disappointment to the label bosses who must have realised that Sonic Youth just wouldn’t ever make the crossover to mass popularity and millions of sales the world over.

The video was one of the first to be made by acclaimed director and occasional actor Spike Jonze.

Two and a half minutes that did more to glamorise skateboarding than just about anything else and thus made walking around pedestrianised areas in city centres a dangerous occupation forever more.

But you gotta admit its a cracking tune.




While Matt Johnson had previously made Burning Blue Soul as a solo record , Soul Mining was the first album by The The, and was released to huge critical acclaim in October 1983.  Indeed, a few years ago at the official website of The The, you could re-read endorsements from all four of the UK’s weekly music papers (NME, Sounds, Record Mirror and Melody Maker), as well as broadsheet newspapers and glossy magazines; there was even a thumbs-up from Smash Hits. But surely the most bizarre positive rating was this:-

“Soul Mining is certainly something to be treasured. One of those integrity leaden packages which manages to be both experimental and accessible.”
* (source at the foot of the page).

There’s only seven tracks on the vinyl version of  the LP with only three songs appearing on Side B. The Ramones it certainly wasn’t.

Most songs were at least 5 minutes long, with one stretching out to almost 10 minutes. But Genesis or Pink Floyd it certainly wasn’t.

From the opening countdown of ten-to-zero (which sounds as if it was sampled from an Apollo space mission) right through to the incessant beat and chanting of the closing song, this is an LP that has a bit of everything thrown in. Bitter and twisted lyrics of despair and attacks on Thatcherism nestle alongside songs about love, lust and devotion. But it’s very much the music that carries this album along.

The The, at the outset, hadn’t been a band.  It was a vehicle for Matt Johnson who preferred to write and sing songs backed by synthesizers and drum machines. But for Soul Mining other talents were brought into the studio, not least Zeke Manyika of Orange Juice – a hugely underrated drummer – and Jools Holland who contributed an astonishing piano solo to transform an older The The song – Uncertain Smile.

The use of these talents, combined with Matt’s growing confidence in his abilities as a vocalist, produced a piece of work that, in the opinion of this humble scribe, has not dated one iota.

I sometimes think Matt Johnson was someone just a little bit ahead of his time. Some ten years later, Thom Yorke and Radiohead came along with a similar style and approach that made them media darlings. And while I am very fond of The Bends and OK Computer, I do honestly believe that Soul Mining and its follow-up Infected are every bit as good. But I’m obviously in a minority going by poll after poll.

The full track listing of Soul Mining:-

01 I’ve Been Waitin’ For Tomorrow (All Of My Life)
02 This Is The Day
03 The Sinking Feeling
04 Uncertain Smile
05 The Twilight Hour
06 Soul Mining
07 Giant

Initial copies came with a free 12″ single, and one of these tracks – Perfect – became an eighth track on the CD version of the album released in 1987 but seemingly much to Matt’s displeasure as it was removed for the 2002 re-issue so that the album was again, just the seven tracks.

Soul Mining ranks high among my favourite albums of all time.  That is all.

mp3 : The The – I’ve Been Waitin’ For Tomorrow (All Of My Life)
mp3 : The The – Giant

*Oh and the unlikely plug for the album back in 1983 was from Penthouse magazine.



This came to me originally via a JtK compilation cassette, a few months after which I spotted a copy of the 12″ vinyl in a second-hand rack and despite the fact that I was increasingly moving onto CDs and rarely buying vinyl (which after all was in its death-throes) I had to own it.

The sleeve, as you can see, has an image of a young and be-quiffed Morrissey and he even contributes a spoken intro and outro to the track although I’ve a very strong feeling that these were sampled without his agreement given that the noise in between these contributions is anything but a tribute to him. Indeed it is all rather juvenile and puerile but the thing is, if I listen to it every two years or so, I find it funny.  More than that and it would probably annoy me.

What I do smile about is the thought of all of the Morrissey ultras out there who don’t think he can ever do anything wrong hearing this played and immediately issuing their equivalent of a fatwa.

mp3 : Warlock Pinchers – Morrissey Rides A Cockhorse

The band was from Denver and t’internet throws up info that they were more or less a punk comedy band who didn’t take anything all that seriously but played music in a loud and raucous way that made their live shows pretty memorable for anyone in the crowd….sometimes for all the wrong reasons.  About a decade or so later, a few bands took their look, image and sound and added in a bit of attitude around the skateboard scene, and made a fair bit of money along the way.  Then again, such bands knew that while cursing and swearing on stage was acceptable, it was a strict no-no when it came to actual records.

This particular single was released in 1989 by the San Francisco based Tupelo Recording Company. Looking at Discogs, there’s eight LPs/singles/compilations listed for The Warlock Pinchers between 1987 and 1991 across four different labels which perhaps indicates that even the record company bosses had difficulty pitching their product to the marketplace.



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