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THE JAMES SINGLES (8)

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Brushing off the disappointment at the failure of Sit Down, the band were certain that the single to be released in November 1989 would provide the breakthrough.

A whole album of material had been recorded for Rough Trade and with ‘Madchester’ having gripped the nation, they were being tipped by many as the ‘next big thing’  some six years after forming.  The biggest tour to date was planned and then came the news that Come Home had not only made the Radio 1 daytime playlist but was going to be record of the week on one of the shows.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, this is James we are talking about – a band for whom everything had seemingly gone wrong ever since their formation.  Rough Trade messed up spectacularly, failing to get enough copies into the hands of radio pluggers to take advantage of the Radio 1 situation, and more crucially, not getting enough copies out into the shops.  The single, on which so many hopes were pinned crawled in at #85.  The problems were exacerbated by the fact that the chart compilers at Music Week made an error in not even listing the single in the rundown……

It really was a crying shame for a track which was so brave and bold and which sounded perfect for the baggy generation while still providing so  much in the way of originality for long-time fans.  The b-sides were also, yet again, marvellous:-

mp3 : James – Come Home (extended)
mp3 : James – Promised Land
mp3 : James – Slow Right Down (demo)
mp3 : James – Come Home (7″ version)

Understandably angry and upset the band demanded and got a meeting with Geoff Travis. While there was some gratitude for the help he had provided in the mess the band had been in after the shambles with Sire, there was little option but to ask to be released from the contract and to buy the recorded album from the label in the hope of it being better promoted. It really was the last throw of the dice…..

THE MOZ SINGLES (Part 3)

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Back in March 1994, Morrissey released what many believe (myself included) to be his best ever solo LP in the shape of Vauxhall And I.

Chock-full of great tunes and witty lyrics, not to mention some of his best ever ballads (and I include his work with The Smiths in that observation), it was preceded a month before its release by The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get – which gave him his first Top 10 single in the UK for 5 years, as well as his only ever entry in the Billboard Hot 100.

And deservedly so, for not only is it one of his best singles, it was accompanied by a couple of more than half-decent b-sides:-

mp3 : Morrissey – The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get
mp3 : Morrissey – Used To Be A Sweet Boy
mp3 : Morrissey – I’d Love To

When the LP hit the shops a month or so later, it was a bit disappointing to initially discover that Used To Be A Sweet Boy was also included among its tracks, meaning only 9 of the songs were entirely new. However, if the quantity was somewhat lacking, fans were more than amply compensated with the quality on offer.

Strangely enough, only one more single was taken from Vauxhall and I and arguably, it was one of its weaker tracks….but that’s for next week.

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 86)

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A bio from all music:-

Paul Haig might be best known as the frontman of Scottish post-punk band Josef K, whose lone official record played a major role in the development of the C-86 scene that followed a few years after the group’s disintegration. Haig continued with a number of involvements in the following decades, releasing a number of records on his own in addition to issuing several collaborative efforts. The early-’80s breakup of Josef K also saw him abandon some of the anti-commercial ideals that he previously stood for, as he also aligned himself with a number of musically varied names in the process.

Haig was most prolific in the years immediately following Josef K, releasing a number of singles and full-lengths under his own name as well as Rhythm of Life. Released in 1983, the synth-based The Rhythm of Life (recorded in New York) featured the handiwork of Pere Ubu’s Anton Fier, Parliament/Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell, and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey. Compared to the Human League and the British Electronic Foundation, the record hardly resembled his earlier, frantically guitar-driven work, basing itself in slick pop and alienating many of his fans as a result.

A couple of 1984 singles were recorded with Cabaret Voltaire and Bernard Sumner before Haig teamed up more significantly with ex-Associate and live associate Alan Rankine. A full album was shelved due to label issues, but the recordings that followed were released as 1985’s The Warp of Pure Fun. Stylistically similar to The Rhythm of Life, Rankine remained aboard and added his mastery of electronics and production. Meanwhile, the big band and torch standards curiosity Swing in ’82 was released, which sat in the vault for three years before seeing the light of day. European Sun was issued in 1988, compiling singles and extras spanning six years. The self-funded Chain was recorded during 1988 with Rankine, with Virgin affiliate Circa picking up the recordings, but not releasing them until mid-1989.

Circa put up the money for a follow-up, enlisting the services of Lil’ Louis, Mantronix, and the Chimes. A single from the sessions went nowhere in clubs and on the charts, so the album (Right on Line) was shelved. Crepuscle eventually bought the rights to the record, releasing it in 1993 as Coincidence vs. Fate. Haig began a label of his own called Rhythm of Life, issuing a second installment of Cinematique. He also released a number of posthumous Billy Mackenzie recordings, most notably the collaborative Memory Palace, released in 1999. In 2003 LTM reissued and remastered Coincidence vs. Fate and The Warp of Pure Fun with new liner notes and bonus tracks.

Since when…..(adapted from wiki)

In 2007, Paul Haig’s first single for 14 years, “Reason” (a BBC Radio 2 single of the week), was released and made available via download and on 7-inch vinyl. This was followed soon after by his first new, non-Cinematique release since 1993’s Coincidence Vs Fate, Electronik Audience.

2007 also saw his first live appearance  in many years when he joined Subterraneans onstage at the Billy Mackenzie tribute concert in London.

Yet another new album, Go Out Tonight was released in April 2008. Go Out Tonight saw Haig return to his guitar-roots and tracks such as “Trouble Maker” are very reminiscent of early solo recordings such as “Chance”.

Haig also embarked on his first tour since 1989 when he promoted both old and new tracks in Scotland and selected dates in Nottingham and London in April 2008.

December 2009 saw the release of the critically acclaimed album, Relive, a new studio collection that featured the song Trip Out The Rider, later remixed for a 7″ single release by Lemon Jelly founder Fred Deakin. The track ‘Ambition’ also appeared on the 2011 compilation, After Twilight, issued on LTM Records.

And bringing this totally up to speed…..In October 2013 yet another critically acclaimed album Kube was released showing that after more than 30 years in the music business, Paul Haig still has an uncanny ability to surprise, delight and entertain in equal measures.

There’s so many singles in the cupboard that it was a very tough choice.  In the end, I went for a 7″ in which the A-side was produced jointly by B-Music/Dojo (Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson) while the flip side was a cover of a Suicide song that had Alan Rankine at the helm. It also gives a great indication of how varied Paul’s music can be:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – The Only Truth
mp3 : Paul Haig – Ghost Rider

Enjoy!!!!!

MAYBE

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maybeOh come on……after the past two postings you knew this was inevitable (at least Jimdoes did!!).

Sadly, I’ve only one song with that as the precise title:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Maybe

It’s the rather ordinary and throwaway b-side to a decent single from 2007:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Reason

If you look up the dictionary definition of ‘maybe’, the word often offered as an alternative is ‘perhaps’.  And there’s one song in the collection with that as its title:-

mp3 : Associates – Perhaps

The title track of the 1985 LP that was the first Associates record released after Alan Rankine had quit.

I genuinely had no idea that when I decided to follow-up McAlmont & Butler with posts entitled ‘No’ and ‘Maybe’ that I’d end up with something that featured both Paul Haig & Billy Mackenzie.  I had absolutely no recollection of that particular Pail Haig b-side until I looked it up.

It makes sense I suppose the to finish it all of with the rather stunning opening track from their on-going collaboration throughout the 90s that received a posthumous release in 1999 as Memory Palace two years after Billy’s tragic suicide:-

mp3 : Haig/Mackenzie – Thunderstorm

PS : You won’t believe whose turn it is to feature in the Scottish Singles feature tomorrow…..who do you think might just come after Pastels in the alphabetical list??????

NO

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NO

A quick count tells me I’ve got 118 tracks in my i-tunes collection that begin with the word ‘No’.  Of these, 115 have at least one more word afterwards, which leaves three as the complete opposite to yesterday’s McAlmont & Butler tune.

mp3 : Associates – No
mp3 : The Rezillos – No
mp3 : The Wedding Present – No

They’re all LP tracks, taken from Sulk (1982), Can’t Stand The Rezillos (1978) and Bizarro (1989) – and all three of them are cracking songs in completely different ways.

Gedgey & Co spoiled what would have been a cracking bit of trivia by placing the track as the third song on the LP…..No is the second song on both of the other LPs.

Enjoy.

YES

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I’m hoping none of you saw the title of today’s posting and thought I was writing about the prog-rockers that so many loved or loathed in the 70s.

Nope.  This is about one of the most incredible sounding singles of the 1990s or indeed any other decade.  It’s a song that I didn’t realise was as brilliant sounding as it was until I heard it played at high volume, over a sensational sound system, at one of the Little League nights in Glasgow.  It is joyous, glorious, anthemic and wonderful to dance to:-

mp3 : McAlmont & Butler – Yes (full version)

It’s the duo’s debut single, released in May 1995 and which went all the way to #8 in the singles chart. To paraphrase S-WC from a few weeks back, I’m shocked that there 7 songs were better than this  in that particular week’s rundown….

Both David McAlmont and Bernard Butler had departed from their previous bands in very bitter circumstances. Butler has since explained how this particular song came about:-

“It was the first piece of music I wrote after I left Suede. I wrote it as an instrumental. Everything was in place, but it didn’t have the voice… Everything I’d done in the past six months had been really dark. I’d come out of a very sad situation and lost a lot of friends, so it was a very liberating song. I met David at the Jazz Café in Camden and said, ‘I’ve got this song, do you want to try it out?’ He came back to me two days later and sang the first verse. He had no second verse, so I just said ‘Sing the first one again’… I wanted it to be like a great piece of ’60s vinyl.”

Sadly, and despite the title of this blog, this is a song I don’t have on vinyl but I do have the 2 x CD singles. The one with the blue sleeve has the full length version of Yes along with these two:-

mp3 : McAlmont & Butler – What’s The Excuse This Time?
mp3 : McAlmont & Butler – Disappointment

The other single had slightly shorter version of Yes (about 53 seconds worth of music was cut out, and I’m guessing this was the version made available to radio stations) and it too had two other songs:-

mp3 : McAlmont & Butler – Yes (edit)
mp3 : McAlmont & Butler – Don’t Call It Soul
mp3 : McAlmont & Butler – How About You?

Put it all together and it is a fairly stunning way to introduce yourself to the record buying public and to stick two fingers up at your former bands….

Enjoy.

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT…THREE SLICES OF PERFECTION

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Last week, JC posted an excellent piece about Manchester which praised the efforts of some of the less well known bands in that particular scene. So I thought as it was still current I would mention one more, they also have a song which I think is a classic.

The Paris Angels were a seven piece band that hailed from Ashton Under Lyme, which I’m told is near Manchester, and they formed in 1989. They quickly got lumped into the Manchester scene and you can understand why. They mixed indie guitars with a ravey electronic sound and sounded heavily influenced by the acid house scene that was massive in Manchester at the time.

The band revolved around Paul ‘wags’ Wagstaff whose Ian Curtis style vocal can be heard on many of their records. Wags went on to feature in Black Grape and the reformed Happy Mondays when the Paris Angels eventually gave up making records (largely because was Virgin was sold to EMI) In 1990 they released the first of todays picks, ‘Perfume (All on You)’ – this combined a sound that many of the also ran Manchester bands like Northside and Rain had been looking for (and ultimately failed to produce). A sound that perhaps combined the bits of Joy Division and New Order that we all loved with that more traditional baggy sound that the Happy Mondays were doing so well.

Now the ‘Madchester’ scene (that is the only time I am typing that) produced some terrific records, ‘Fools Gold’, ‘Wrote For Luck’, ‘Commercial Rain’ to name three brilliant examples but none of them, come anywhere close to this record.

It sums up everything about that era.

Everything.

And if you need more evidence, other than just listening to the bloody record and realising it there and then, there is a video of this song kicking around on You Tube (other less evil streaming services are available). It’s basically the band in what looks like an empty classroom playing this song whilst their mates and a few hangers-on stand around, by the end everyone is dancing. There is a shot about half way through where the camera pans to the face of the female singer (Jane Gill?) and she is just grinning like a loved up Cheshire Cat. She knows that what she is doing as she dances (pretty badly if I’m honest, and that is rich coming from Kermit in a Blender Man) and shakes her maracas (not an euphemism, watch the video, you filthy minded buggers), I know exactly what she is thinking and that is ‘Yes’.

This record peaked at Number 55 in the UK chart. ‘Take 5’ by Northside got to Number 40. ‘The Only Rhyme that bites’ by MC Tunes and 808 State went Top 20 for goodness sake. There is no justice.

mp3 : The Paris Angels – Perfume (Loved Up)

Moving on, and on a similar vein to ‘grunge’, or American alt rock as its properly called.

Like the Manchester scene there were loads of great records from that era that perhaps now define the sound. Most notably Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Pearl Jam’s dreadful ‘Alive’ (in fact anything by Pearl Jam is dreadful, over rated pile of cock if you ask me), but the one record that should have got the worlds attention and didn’t (apart from Buffalo Tom) was ‘Hyper Enough’ by Superchunk.

Superchunk were formed in 1989 and came from the same town as Ben Folds Five if my memory serves me correctly. The lead singer and main guitarist was one Mac McCaughan and were originally named Chunk (the legend has it that the drummers’s – Chuck Garrison – name was spelt as Chunk Garrison in the phone book and it kind of stuck – brilliant if true).

They were made to change it by the well-known avant jazz band of the same name (yeah, I can’t stop playing avant jazz records by Chunk today) so they added the word ‘Super’. After the release of their first album Mac McCaughan left the band and new vocalist James Wilbur came in – ironically drummer Chuck Garrison left shortly after as well.

In 1995 they released ‘Hyper Enough’ and it perhaps that they released their best moment after the grunge fad had died down that they didn’t achieve the massive success that they deserved. It comes from the album ‘Here’s where the Strings Come In’ which I think is the bands most commercial release, considering their first single was called ‘Slack Motherfucker’ that isn’t hard.

mp3 : Superchunk – Hyper Enough

‘Hyper Enough’ is the sound of band enjoying themselves, it has the catchy riff running through it that gels the song together and it has a vocal yelp that half screams half pleads with you to scream along with it. The band’s website has loads of older Superchunk stuff available for free download if you like what you hear, I’d recommend you pay it a visit.

Finally we come to a band that I have mentioned before, a band that I love and have struggled to pick one song that should have been a springboard to superstardom. This is mainly because every single one of their records should have been a Top 5 hit at the very least and I will not listen to any arguments.  I will literally be here all day if I sit and write about this band, a band so under rated and criminally ignored that you can’t even download their songs on Amazon.

A band that were once described by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth as the Best Band Britain has ever produced (he obviously never heard Leatherface).

A band who once got threatened with legal action by Michael Portillo.

So I’m not going to say anything at all.

Apart from Ladies and Gents, this is ‘Steamroller’ by The Family Cat and it is very nearly seven minutes of absolute perfection. (the link is to the original scratchy vinyl version of Steamroller – I hope its ok, if not comment and I’ll post the CD version which is probably better next week).

mp3 ; The Family Cat – Steamroller

Thanks for reading

S-WC

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