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.






The Breeders were kicking around as a band long before they ever got into a recording studio. It was the brainchild of Kim Deal and Kelley Deal. They happened to be twin sisters. But before they could really do anything with the band, Kim found fame as bass player with The Pixies.

In late 1989, seemingly tired of her band’s refusal to record songs she had written, Kim re-formed The Breeders as a side project. She did not however, include her sister in the band – instead recruiting a group of close friends and fellow musicians including Tanya Donnelly from Throwing Muses.

Their debut album Pod, recorded in Edinburgh, Scotland, was released in 1990. Not long after, The Pixies broke-up. Whether or not the two events were linked, no-one is really prepared to say, but you can draw your own conclusions.

Kim decided to concentrate fully on The Breeders, and her twin sister came on board for the next set of recordings, which resulted in the four songs on this very fine 1992 EP:-

mp3 : The Breeders – Do You Love Me Know?
mp3 : The Breeders – Don’t Call Home
mp3 : The Breeders – Safari
mp3 : The Breeders – So Sad About Us

That’s the order the songs appear on the CD – alphabetically as it turns out – but it was track 3 Safari for which the promo video was made. It’s a belter of a track that wouldn’t have been out of place on any Pixies record.

The fourth track is a cover version of a song by The Who (a song that had also coincidentally been covered some 14 years earlier by The Jam). It has been suggested by some that it is a sarcastic attack by Kim on the break-up of her other band.

This particular line-up of The Breeders proved to be short-lived. Tanya Donnelly went off to front her own band – Belly – while there was also a change of drummer.

Mark III of The Breeders would then find some fame and fortune in 1993, with the hit single Cannonball and the LP Last Splash. Incidentally a different, more refined version of Do You Love Me Now? from Safari was recorded for Last Splash.





The Buzzcocks juggernaut showed no signs of slowing down as yet another brand new song became the latest 45 in March 1979.

However, this one didn’t do as well as hoped or expected, spending a miserly four weeks in the Top 40 and peaking at #29.

Not everybody would be happy nowadays.

I do recall there being something of a critical backlash against the band around this time.  Magazine had just released their second studio LP, Secondhand Daylight and its ambition and breadth led some to suggest that Pete Shelley was a bit of a one-trick pony incapable of lacing the Doc Martins of his former band mate. The fact that the new Buzzcocks single had the vocalist straining to hit the high notes was also a source of some amusement and ‘Happy’ took a bit of a caning when compared to what had been written before.

mp3 : Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
mp3 : Buzzcocks – Why Can’t I Touch It?

The b-side is a strange one.  A band which specialised in the classic 2-3 minute pop song put down something that stretched out over six minutes.  This could have been a pleasant surprise except for the fact that the song is not all that good and leaves listeners pining for the more simple shouty catchy stuff of old,




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That’s the poster from the first ever gig that I promoted. It was for Butcher Boy (supported by Adam Stafford) and it was to enable the full band to play in support of the release of their third studio LP, Helping Hands.

Imperial was the sole single taken from the album and on the reverse of the 7″ vinyl was a previously unreleased track, one that I’ve never until now put anywhere near the blog as I was keen that folk bought the actual vinyl. Still, its now more than 5 years and so I don’t feel bad about sharing it:-

mp3 : Butcher Boy – Juicy Fruit





As much as I have loved the solo output from Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton, I have hugely missed Arab Strap.

This however, is the week they are playing a short tour of gigs in London, Manchester and Glasgow. My ticket is for tomorrow night for the Barrowlands, my favourite venue in the world. I’ll do my best to avoid looking at the setlists from the gigs in England so that I get the full element of surprise. But given how excited so many folk have been about this reunion then I’m sure it’ll be all over social media and near impossible to ignore.

In celebration of what will be a highlight of my year, I’m posting a single from back in 1998. It’s a different version of the song Soaps that appears on their peerless 1998 LP Philophobia. I’ve also pulled together the various b-sides from the 7″ and 12″ versions

mp3 : Arab Strap – (Afternoon) Soaps
mp3 : Arab Strap – Phone Me Tomorrow
mp3 : Arab Strap – Toy Fights
mp3 : Arab Strap – Forest Hills

I’ve also decided to post the video as it is unusual in a number of ways.

Firstly, it is the extremely rare sight of a clean-shaven Aidan. Secondly, Malcolm appears in the video for a short time – and from what I remember it’s the only time he ever does in any of the Arab Strap promos that were made.

I’ve a feeling the video inspired this great promo six years later:-



Just as I thought my weekend couldn’t get any better, I’m off tonight to an unusual gig in an unusual venue.

The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is the venue.  This weekend sees the The Citz Sessions, a short series of specially-curated gigs hosted in what is a magnificent and intimate Victorian auditorium.  Guest curators have brought together some of their favourite artists to present an intimate, stripped-back, acoustic performance in the iconic surroundings of the theatre.

Tonight is an all-female line up from the worlds of jazz, classical and pop – the latter being represented by the new in the shape of Teen Canteen and the established via Frances McKee (Vaselines) and Clare Grogan.  Can’t really ask for much more can i?

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