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I place a huge value on the ability of a singer/band to cut the mustard in a live context. It’s often the thought of going to see a forthcoming live performance that makes me go out and buy a new CD so that I’m familiar with the stuff. And almost just as often, if I catch a band live who I think have that something different or special, or indeed just seem to be working hard at their craft, I’ll buy a CD. What I’ve often found is that the CD doesn’t match the intensity of the live performance and it will soon be given a place on the shelf to gather dust….but that’s the risk of buying on one listen….

One of the best live acts I’ve seen in recent times is Maximo Park.

I first came across them courtesy of MTV2, and in particular on the shows hosted by Zane Lowe. I loved the early singles and indeed all of their debut LP, A Certain Trigger. And I made a point of buying a ticket for the next show in Glasgow which was due to take place at the QM Union, a student-venue. Such was the demand for tickets that the gig was switched to Barrowlands, which must have a bit daunting for the band. If they were nervous or had any trepidation, it didn’t show for it was a blinding gig.

And if I wanted proof that it wasn’t a one-off, then it came a few months later when they were part of an NME tour. As the biggest band of the four in terms of chart success, it was obvious they should be the headlining act – problem was that #2 on the bill were Arctic Monkeys, the most-talked about and anticipated act to come out of the UK since the days of Oasis. Most ticket-holders were there for the support, not the headliners. It would have been easy for Maximo Park to take the money and go through the motions – but they really upped the ante and showed that while Arctic Monkeys were exceptionally good on stage, they still had a lot to learn in terms of putting on a show.

Since then, I’ve fallen out of and back in love with Maximo Park. A third gig was a let-down as I felt the band, and in particular lead singer Paul Smith was now on the wrong-side of showing-off rather than entertaining. Nevertheless, the second LP, Our Earthly Pleasures, was purchased and I soon discovered it was an just as good a collection of songs as the debut. I was then really lucky to catch the band at a tiny venue in Toronto last summer (2007) and it was just like seeing them first time around again. It was a truly stunning, adrenalin-driven and energetic performance to a half-hearted audience largely unfamiliar with the band’s songs.

Outwith their own self-financed single, Maximo Park have released a total of eight 45rpm efforts, four from each of the two albums. All of them have been toe-tappingly catchy. In many ways, the first one I ever heard, Apply Some Pressure, could at times be the favourite. But in the end, in much the same way as Bedsitter by Soft Cell is my favourite of that particular beat combo, it all comes down to an equally strong second hit single that proves that they’re not a flash in the pan:-

mp3 : Maximo Park – Graffiti
mp3 : Maximo Park – Trial And Error
mp3 : Maximo Park – Stray Talk
mp3 : Maximo Park – Hammer Horror

You’re getting all these tracks because sometimes I fall for the marketing ploys and buy CD1, CD2 and the 7” vinyl….

It was a #15 hit in May 2005.



A guest contribution from Tim Badger

An Imaginary Compilation (Of Sorts) for the wife

This was supposed to be the B side to S-WC’s recent Imaginary Compilation on Carter USM. The journey home from Rochdale by the way was uneventful – nothing happened, there was no traffic jams, no arguments, no awful drinks stops at criminally unhygienic service stations. Nothing. It is kind of hard to write about how strangely normal it was.

The iPod on the way home gave us some fine tunes. The 11th track was ‘Kilamangiro by Babyshambles. This was an excellent choice, I am a massive Libertines/Doherty/Babyshambles fan – although to be honest I can take or leave his solo album. It was a close run thing as well as the 10th track was Elvis Costello.

mp3 : Babyshambles – Kilamangiro

So the next day when I got home I started to compile the Babyshambles album, I got to the end of the first side and then left it for a couple of days for the S-WC to add the tunes he wanted to it. He had until the weekend to decide whether he want ‘French Dog Blues’ or ‘Unbilotitled’ at the end. He will choose the latter and we both knew it but I humoured him.

It is now Saturday November 14th – the morning after Paris had woken up to the night before. Saturdays are usually a bit hectic in the Badger household. This morning is a but subdued as the shock settles in – normally I would go and do a run (Hi ‘Park Run Exeter’ if you are reading) and the wife does her thing. My wife is really into cycling – she runs an online cycle shop, maintains a cycle website and organises rides for keen enthusiasts. Today as it happens is the day of the Annual Dartmoor Bike Challenge. A bunch of them up on Dartmoor cycling between the western point to the easterly point, or something. It’s a long way.

mp3 : Mansun – Wide Open Space

I decide to meet S-WC in our favourite watering hole for a lunch time pint which would turn into three, after that my plan would be to fall asleep whilst watching repeats of The Big Bang Theory.

I’ll let you into a secret, S-WC and I are thinking of relaunching our blog, and we spend some time discussing this over a pint in the pub. We’ve had an idea called ‘One Song A Day’ – we are thinking of posting one song a day for a year (starting January 1st). There would be very few words on the blog, just a song chosen at random. Its work in progress I suppose and by progress I mean I’ve written down the words ‘One Song A Day’.

We are halfway into our second pint of Otter and are putting the finishing touches to the Babyshambles compilation at the end of side two – and I Told You!!!!!

mp3 : Babyshambles – Unbilotitled

We look at the compilation and then look at the television as news reports continue to show the disruption and chaos over in France and what we’ve done seems a little mundane and a little average and however hard we try it seems impossible to write about music right now.

Then my phone rings. It is George. George is a lady who helps my wife with the cycling stuff. She is crying. Shit. In fact double shit.

Man I hate hospitals. On reflection, that’s a silly thing to say. No one likes hospitals; they are full of sick people and illness. I’ve narrowly avoided three trolleys, two blokes walking round dragging a drip to their arms and a child carrying a huge ‘Get Well Soon’ balloon as I rushed from the car park to the ward (thanks S-WC for the high speed dash across town…).

mp3 : The Prodigy – Take Me to the Hospital

I see George and she rushes up to me and immediately starts crying and hugging me at the same time. On the phone earlier, George told me the story of what had happened. I’ll quote her directly here.

“It was the pony, I mean she saw the pony. She didn’t see the Landrover who was also avoiding the stupid fucking pony. It hit her full on and sent her and her bike flying over the hedge. Then the fucker drove off”. I kind of fell in love with George a bit at that point, she is 50 something church going spinster who I have never heard swear before. It dulled the shock. Guys, we got the blokes number plate, its alright. I’ll have him killed by the end of the month (for the benefit of the tapes and the Government – I won’t really).

mp3 : Swearin’ – Parts of Speech

Now, this being Dartmoor, the hedge was part wild thorny bush and part stone cob wall. She landed the other side of it, on her right leg and the bike came crashing down on top of her.

I braced myself as the doctor came over. He shakes my hand, never a good sign I find. He says some words which kind of go over my head. I hear ‘Unconscious’, I hear ‘Blood’ and I hear the word ‘Pelvis’. The rest sound like white noise. Ultimately she had a broken right leg and a fractured pelvis. Folks, I don’t know if any of you cycle, and I also don’t if any of you are stupid enough not to use one, but her cycle helmet almost certainly saved her from more serious injuries. I walked in the room.

The first thing that struck me was the blood.

mp3 : The Dears – Blood

I’m not squeamish at all but when it’s your nearest and dearest it’s horrific. I probably don’t need to tell you that. She is awake and obviously in a lot of pain. She has a bruise the size of Brighton on her right hand side and she can’t really move at the moment. But she is smiling. I realise that she is going to be ok when she asks me if “I’d taken the wood to the recycling centre”. No is the answer, but folks, I said yes.

mp3 : Passion Pit – I’ll Be Alright

The doctors, nurses, specialists, X Ray teams, the whole lot of them were fantastic, every single one of them is a credit to the our wonderful NHS, and whilst I shouldn’t get political on your asses, that is why, in England at least, you should all support the Junior Doctor Strikes. It’s also why we should lobby the government to remove that cretin Hunt from his position. Sorry. I’ve put the soap box away now.

The last week and a half have been pretty hard work, the wife needs constant looking after and help to get around, she didn’t want to sit in hospital – she wanted to come home. It was I think the Wednesday when I was sitting in the bedroom as she slept trying to write something about Babyshambles that I stumbled across this idea. I obviously need to make it ten songs, so the next three are for the wife. She does read this blog and I imagine that I should probably just tell her to her face, but she is everything to me, I adore her and am just so happy that she is ok.

The first two are songs that I know she loves by bands that she loves, the last one is from me to her. Thanks for reading this – if you have got this far – I apologise if I have gushed, or been soppy.

mp3 : The Horrors – Sea within A Sea
mp3 : Perfume Genius – Queen
mp3 : Caribou – Can’t Do Without You

Oh and this one is from S-WC……

mp3 : Hop Along – Waitress

Thanks for reading


JC adds…….

I’ve been in touch with Tim and I’m pleased to pass on the news that Mrs B is doing well and getting over what must have been an horrific experience.  Some of the songs within his own selection are personal faves of Mrs B and she seemingly does read this blog on occasion.

So here’ s to your continued speedy recovery….with some music to hopefully make you smile.

mp3 : Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Battered Old Bird

PS : I’m off on a 12-day holiday from tomorrow morning with Mrs Villain (Barbados since you ask…) but have cobbled together a few what I hope are reasonably entertaining postings in advance to keep things ticking over till I get back (including the ICA originally scheduled for today but shunted back to the middle of next week).  However, I’ll be unable to respond to any e-mails probably won’t drop in to respond to any comments you might leave in the interim.



I’ve given this a fair bit of thought, but in the end come to the conclusion that Side A of my Prefab Sprout Imaginary Compilation album has to be identical to Side A of the band’s sophomore album released in June 1985.  In the UK and most other places the album was called Steve McQueen but in the USA it went by the name of Two Wheels Good thanks to a dispute with the estate of the late American Actor.

If pushed, I’d probably say that Side A of that album is my favourite half-record of all time. That may sound like a strange thing to say – and it’s not that the songs on the b-side don’t do anything for me – but I just feel that we were provided with six timeless works of art, sequenced in the perfect running order, and which are among the best bits of music that the band, and/or Paddy McAloon in his solo guise, ever released.

What this does of course is turn this particular Imaginary LP into a 12-track effort as its B-side has to offer a proper balance.  But what to go for? After all there are other songs on the flip side of Steve McQueen that are more than worthy; likewise just about everything on debut album Swoon 1983 and there’s quite a few tremendous songs on each of the four albums released between 1988 and 1997 – I haven’t bought any of the releases since then so can’t offer any observations about them, although just about everyone else I know who are fans of the band have raved about 2013 LP Crimson/Red, But for what it’s worth:


Faron Young, Bonny, Appetite, When Love Beaks Down, Goodbye Lucille #1, Hallelujah

The early 80s was a great time to be a follower of new music in the north-east of England. Indeed with bands such as Hurrah, The Kane Gang, Prefab Sprout and Martin Stephenson & The Daintees all on the Newcastle-based Kitchenware Records, there was a scene that wasn’t that far removed from Glasgow and Postcard Records of just a few years previous.

It was Prefab Sprout who turned out to the most commercially successful of the acts, thanks in the main to the songwriting and tunesmith talents of Paddy McAloon, but also to the marketing men who pushed hard until the elusive breakthrough hit emerged.

The band came to prominence in 1982 with a couple of singles that were hits on the indie-chart, as well as a 1984 LP Swoon (short for ‘Songs Written Out Of Necessity’) that was well received by the critics.

By now, although the records were still coming out on the Kitchenware label, Prefab Sprout had the might of CBS Records behind them, and the band was pushed into the studio with a big-name producer for an album that was intended to be released in 1985.

There were many who predicted a disaster. McAloon was a fairly shy laid-back individual who was seemingly being put under immense pressure to deliver something that justified the large contract signed with the major label. There was also the fact that despite Prefab Sprout being a band known for melodic, acoustic-based songs, the producer was the electronic pioneer and chart-act Thomas Dolby, and no-one could imagine any chemistry between the two.

Against all the odds, a masterpiece emerged.

The first hint we all got was the release of a single – When Love Breaks Down – which kept all the majesty and magnificence of a McAloon tune but had some beautiful bits added courtesy of keyboards that were clearly the work of Dolby. Despite this, the radio stations didn’t really pick up on it, and the single failed to trouble the charts.

The album came out soon after. It had the strange title of Steve McQueen.

I thought at the time it was bloody marvelous. And I still do and I will argue long into the night and right through the next day after the sun has come up that Side 1 is perfect; the CBS record bosses obviously thought so too, choosing to release four of the six songs as singles.

With the exception of the opening track, which is a tribute to a long-forgotten country & western singer and chugs along like an express train being driven by Casey Jones, it is not an album to get up and dance to. Instead, it is one to wake up with on a Saturday or Sunday morning if you’ve had a memorable time the night before and take great joy in life itself.

mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Faron Young
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Bonny
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Appetite
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Goodbye Lucille #1
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Hallelujah


Don’t Sing (from Swoon, 1984)

I have no idea why this very jaunty opening track on the debut album has the title of Don’t Sing as those two words don’t appear anywhere in the lyrics.  Instead it seems to follow some sort of bizarre and crazy Spaghetti Western script with outlaws and whisky priests getting into all sorts of trouble….but whatever is taking place on no account have they to put any blame on Mexico.  Wonderfully catchy and surreal with a fabulous harmonica solo thrown in for good measure

Cars and Girls (from From Langley Park to Memphis, 1988)

The second half of the 80s were strange times for Prefab Sprout.  There was near universal praise for Steve McQueen in 1985 but the intended follow-up for the next year was shelved, only appearing in 1989….by which time they had unexpectedly enjoyed a Top 10 hit thanks to a very catchy but ultimately annoying chorus about hot dogs, jumping frogs and Albuquerque – anyone who bought parent LP From Langley Park to Memphis in the hope of finding a few more like The King of Rock’n’Roll in there would have been in for a shock.   The nearest would have been the earlier lead-off single which had reached #44  – I love Cars and Girls as much for the fact that having been subjected to intense record label pressure to come up with a catchy hit, McAloon delivered a blasting critique of the label’s biggest selling star without the bosses seemingly catching on……

Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) (single, 1983)

This had first come to prominence as a self-financed release on Candle Records in 1983. In an era of a number of very clever wordsmiths fronting gentle-sounding guitar bands, McAloon clinched the crown as the cleverest of them all thanks to a catchy sing-along number that seems to make no sense whatsoever until someone whispers in your ear that the first letter of each of the words in the title spell Limoges, the city in France where the writer’s girlfriend had moved to live, breaking his heart in the process. All over a tune that was as Postcard-era Aztec Camera as any fan could have wished.  The Peel Session is included here for novelty value as much as anything (and because it lets me use more brackets – and I like brackets!!)

We Let The Stars Go Free (from Jordan : The Comeback, 1990)

Prefab Sprout hadn’t toured in five years but took the decision to go out on the road in support of their 1990 opus which had more than enough songs to have been a double album.  It was a brave move that backfired somewhat as the songs on Jordan : The Comeback being rich in arrangement across a range of genres and relying heavily on the tricks of the studio didn’t fare all that well in the live setting, even at a venue as sympathetic as Glasgow Barrowlands. The experience put me off the album somewhat and I didn’t listen to for a long time after, but there’s no denying that this, which was also released as a single, is as dreamy and ethereal as pop music gets (apart from perhaps Desire As from Steve McQueen which almost made it on at this point)

Life Of Surprises (from Protest Songs, 1989)

This was the album originally recorded and intended for release in 1986.  It’s still not clear whether the band themselves abandoned the project – some of the songs have more of a demo than fully produced feel about them – or whether the label just felt it had no commercial viability and was likely to lose many fans along the way.  The fact that it took another two years for the next album to appear – which as mentioned had a ridiculously catchy and unrepresentative pop single on it – makes me lean towards the latter.  As it turns out, Protest Songs does have a number of well-merited moments, not least this song which would eventually be issued as a single in 1993 to promote the label issuing an inevitable ‘best of’ LP when it became clear that a new full studio album was a long way off.

Real Life (Just Around The Corner) (from NME EP Drastic Plastic, 1985)

Part of a four-track EP given away with the NME in September 1985. This was the only studio recording on the EP as the others were live tracks from The Style Council, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions and The Robert Cray Band.  For a very long time, I was under the impression that the NME EP had been the place where the song had first aired but the rise of Discogs, with its encyclopaedic approach to the various releases reveals that it was in fact on one of the 12″ versions of one of the three separate releases handed to When Love Breaks Down.  The fact that I have two versions of the single but not the one containing Real Life will hopefully be an acceptable explanation for my mistake.

Anyways, Real Life (with its introductory nod to The Battle Hymn of The Republic)  might not be all that much of a stand-out song in the Prefab Sprout canon, but it was one with which I had a habit for a long time of finishing off compilation tapes for all sorts of friends on the basis that I was signing off with what I thought was an impossibly difficult to find track.  I just feel that now I’m dreaming up an imaginary compilation album there can only be one candidate to close off Side B…..but it is one that I think is more than good enough to have you want to immediately go back and listen to Side A which, after all, has the pick of the tracks from that very golden era in the band’s history.

mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Don’t Sing
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Cars and Girls
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) (Peel Session)
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – We Let The Stars Go Free
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Life Of Surprises
mp3 : Prefab Sprout – Real Life (Just Around The Corner)





A guest contribution from xxxjim


Hey JC

This is a change from an imaginary compilation, but I’m pretty sure I could do one for almost every singer/band mentioned – now there’s a challenge!

Anyway, a comment made a while ago got me thinking. It was on a Wedding Present / Cinerama related posting and it was along the lines of David Gedge being someone that the commenter, paulb3015 would most like as a friend.

I know it’s never a good idea to meet your heroes but I still think it would be great to spend an evening in the company of these musicians. I guess they all seem quite approachable to me and the sort of people that have a lot of stories and would be fun to be around.

So I give you the eight musicians I’d love to spend an evening with, be it for a beer or two or a meal all round a table, shooting the breeze. Eight seems about the right number – enough that you’d get to talk to everyone but not too many that no one can hear what anyone else is saying. And it would have to be the right mix of musicians – not too many egos.

They are not necessarily my all time favourite musicians or my favourite bands – in some cases they are – I just think they are all interesting people. One thing a lot of them have in common is that they like to tell a story when you see them live – I know that it can be the same story every night but as long as it seems like it’s off the cuff, I’m happy with that.

I haven’t worked out a seating plan but obviously there’s be two seats reserved for Mr and Mrs Vinyl Villain.

Kristin Hersh

Her music has been a constant in my life since I was about 18 – I’ve kind of grown up with her. I’m not an obsessive fan but I do try and see her whenever she performs. One of only two famous people to reply to me on Twitter (not that I use it very often), which makes her an all round nice person. (The other one was David Gedge)

mp3: Kristin Hersh – Sundrops (from ‘Hips and Makers’ LP)

Colin Meloy

Because he seems like a good bloke – a lot of The Decemberists’ songs are stories and he spins a good yarn on stage so I’m sure there would be plenty to talk about.

mp3 : The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song (from ‘The Hazards of Love’ LP)

David Gedge

I don’t need to explain this one – I’m pretty sure that every reader of TVV would want to have a beer with David Gedge.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Give My Love To Kevin (acoustic) (from ‘George Best (plus)’ LP)

Leonard Cohen

I thought maybe Prince would be entertaining but I imagine everyone would just sit there dumbstruck thinking ‘Bloody hell – it’s Prince’ and no-one saying a word. Either that or he’d play ping pong with everyone and thrash them. But I thought it would be good to have an absolute megastar at the table, and someone much older – and someone who has been a hero of mine since my art student days. He’d bring a touch of wisdom to proceedings and his fantastic gravelly voice. And you never know he might feed us tea and oranges that come all the way from China.

mp3 : Leonard Cohen – Slow (from ‘Popular Problems’ LP)

Viv Albertine

A year ago she wouldn’t have been a dinner guest but her memoir ‘Clothes, Music, Boys’ is great – the best music book I’ve read this year – better than Kim Gordon and better than Eddie Argos (seriously). And she seems like a nice person – and normal. And because I love this song which is one of my favourite songs of the year (even though it came out a while ago, it’s new to me).

mp3 : Viv Albertine – Confessions of a MILF  (from ‘The Vermillion Borders’ LP)

Gruff Rhys

Because he took a puppet around America to try and find a Welsh-speaking tribe of native Americans. And he made a powerpoint presentation about it. And an album. And he weaves it all into a great story. And obviously because he is a Super Furry Animal.

mp3 : Gruff Rhys – Iolo (from ‘American Interior’ LP)

Holly Johnson

The first pop star that I really idolized – about 10 years ago I saw him in a shop and I was too star struck to go and say hello. His memoir is also worth a read.

mp3 : Frankie Goes to Hollywod – Relax (7” single)

Nicky Wire

The second Welshman – he’d make sure that it wasn’t all back slappery and coziness. Plus, if all else fails we can talk about sport – and he can give my daughter tips on applying eyeliner.

mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – Europa Geht Durch Mich (from ‘Futurology’ LP)

Anyway, I hope you like it – and it’s the sort of thing that fits in well on TVV.





I was someone who didn’t pay much attention to Massive Attack in terms of their singles. In an era when CD albums were in the region of £12-£15 and singles were usually £4, it didn’t make much sense unless you were something of an uber-fan to buy the singles.

I picked up a copy of the album Mezzanine not longer after its release in April 1998, partly on the back of having really enjoyed the previous album Protection, but partly as I adored what I thought had been its lead-off single Teardrop featuring a stunning vocal from Elizabeth Fraser.   The fact that there had been an earlier advance single as far back as August 1997 had totally passed me by and indeed until I saw a copy in a second-hand store a few months back I had always thought the record label had missed out on the chance of releasing what I felt was one of many stand out tracks from the album:-

mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson

In fact, the single had reached #11 in the charts which really shows how little attention I had been paying.  The CD single came with two more than decent remixes along with a different track which was like finding treasure at the end of the rainbow:-

mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson (The Underdog remix)
mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson (Otherside)
mp3 : Massive Attack – Superpredators (The Mad Professor Remix)

My favourite Siousxie & The Banshees song is Metal Postcard…..and that’s the very song which is heavily sampled to make Superpredators.




R-6925464-1429642603-4814.jpegOn 30 October 1982 it was officially confirmed that The Jam would be splitting up at the end of the year.  Prior to that there would be one last single and dates on the winter tour of the UK would be fulfilled.  The news was greeted with some dismay but no real shock as the songs were now a long way removed from how they had started out and it was clear that Paul Weller wanted to go in a totally different direction from Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler.

On Thursday 26 November the band began the farewell tour at the Glasgow Apollo.  Having camped out for tickets some months previously, long before the band break-up had been announced, I had a very hot and in demand piece of paper but there was no way I was giving it up no matter how much I was offered.

The following day, the band’s last single was released in standard 7″ a double-pack of 7″ singles and in a 12″ format.  It went straight to #1 where it stayed for two weeks:-

mp3 : The Jam – Beat Surrender
mp3 : The Jam – Shopping
mp3 : The Jam – Move On Up
mp3 : The Jam – Stoned Out Of My Mind
mp3 : The Jam – War

It was a gloriously upbeat end to the band’s career. Not their best single by a long way but still a decent ending. They had scored eighteen successive Top 40 hit 45s with two of these being via the very unlikely and unusual import-only route. The standard 7″ came with Shopping on the b-side while the double pack and 12″ offered the three soul covers that had been made famous originally by Curtis Mayfield, The Chi-Lites and Edwin Starr.

No other versions on offer today.  And that would be that except that I want to offer a little bonus.


At the very height of their popularity, the band made a one-off recording available for publication called Flexipop which had the gimmick of offering an otherwise unreleased recording by some of the best selling artists of the day.  The Jam offered something very unusual indeed along with a different recording of a track from Sound Affects:-

mp3 : The Jam – Pop Art Poem
mp3 : The Jam – Boy About Town (flexipop version)

And that seems as good a way as any to bring the series to a close.

Next up for the singles treatment……The Style Council.

(Well it had to be didn’t it????)




The next two weeks in this series will feature bands who reinvented themselves during their career and in doing so caught a lot of people, fans and critics alike, by surprise.

Pop Will Eat Itself had been kicking around for some five years prior to the release of their first material in 1986. They had, like many other new and emerging combos, gone through various line-ups in an effort to find the right formula, eventually settling on Clint Mansell (vocals/guitar), Adam Mole (keyboards), Graham Crabb (drums) and Richard Marsh (bass). Their first release was a self-produced EP called The Poppies Say Grrr…. which would be the one and only release on the magnificently named Desperate Records.

They then signed to Chapter 22 Records and went into the studio to record a second EP, Poppiecock, which was released in October 1986. The lead track was the song chosen for inclusion on the CD86 compilation which has formed the basis for this particular series:-

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – The Black Country Chainsaw Massacreee

The Black Country incidentally, for those who might not be aware, is the name given to the part of England the band came from….just in case anyone thought the band were being racist.

Oh and the above is the correct title of the song.  It is incorrectly listed on CD86 as The Black Country Chainsaw Massacre.  Those two extra ‘e’s at the end are important!!

All five tracks were short and sharp – none of them reached the two-minute mark – and were derivative of an indie-guitar post-punk pop sound. They were OK at what they did but they didn’t really stand out from the crowd. Their next release was a covers EP after which, in early 1987 there began a revolutionary evolution in their sound which coincided with Graham Crabb ditching the drums to become a co-vocalist and being replaced by a machine with an increasing reliance on sampling and the incorporation of hip-hop which was just beginning to increase in popularity here in the UK.

By 1988, the band’s sound had changed completely as evidenced by their first single of that year, Def Con One, which fused a range of genres while sampling a range of tunes by acts as diverse as 70s teenyboppers The Osmonds, punk gods The Stooges, novelty disco act Lipps Inc and not forgetting the theme tune from cult TV show The Twilight Zone. Follow up single Can U Dig It? followed a similar groove and took the band into the charts for the first time, beginning a run of twelve Top 40 hits over the next five years and a move to major label in the shape of RCA in 1989.

Their departure from RCA in 1993 was a strange affair in that singles lifted from their final album for that label went on to be hits which enabled the band to sign with Infectious Records (set up by a former RCA executive) for their final hurrah in 1994/5.

Their initial ten years in the music business had yielded a fair bit of success and they were always a crackingly energetic live act, hugely popular on the festival circuit thanks to their no-nonsense, high-octane and fast-paced performances. But based on the early material,including the track used on CD86, nobody could ever have imagine that’s how it would turn out. Here’s the other tracks from Poppiecock:-

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Monogamy
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Oh Grebo, I Think I Love You
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Titanic Clown
mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – B-B-B-Breakdown

Incidentally, every PWEI song was credited to Vestan Pance which was a pseudonym for the band as a whole although most of the tracks were written by either Graham Crabb or Clint Mansell.

The band reformed in 2005 and have continued to perform and record on an on-and-off basis ever since, albeit only Graham Crabb from the orignal line-up is part of the current set-up.


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