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GAZING INTO MY CRYSTAL BALL….

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I’ve never shied away from talking up the talent that is Adam Stafford.

The world should by now have taken full notice of the truly magnificent music he has been offering up over the past decade, initially as part of the band Y’All Is Fantasy Island and more recently as a solo performer; but sadly, and despite being feted by just about everyone who is anyone in the Scottish music industry, he is still very much a cult figure.

Things could have changed a bit this time last year when Imaginary Walls Collapse made the 20-strong longlist for the 2014 Scottish Album of The Year (SAY) Award but sadly, and criminally, it fell agonisingly short of the ten that made it onto the shortlist.

But perhaps that is just as well, for I think it will be impossible for any singer or band to pick up the SAY Award more than once (not until it has been going for at least 10-15 years) and I’m willing to say with extreme confidence that Adam Stafford is a great bet to win outright next year.

I make this bold statement not on the back of having secretly invented a time machine that fast forwarded to the 2016 Awards Ceremony but purely on the basis of hearing the first bit of music that will feature on Adam’s next LP – tentatively called Taser Revelations – which is due for release this coming autumn.

Said bit of music is coming out as download single tomorrow (Friday 1 May) via Song, By Toad Records. It is called Atheist Money and it takes everything that was so special and extraordinary with the last LP up to a whole new level.

There’s no way of course that I’m providing a link to an mp3 of the song – instead you can click here to listen on soundcloud and then click here to take yourself over to the Song, By Toad shop where I hope you will give the single your full support.

But as I’ve said before on T(n)VV, hearing the music of Adam Stafford is one thing – seeing him perform on stage is something else altogether and I’m delighted to pass on the news that he is embarking on a small tour of Scotland and England to coincide with the singles release, the dates are:

May 1st – Newport-on-Tay – New Port Sound, Rio Community Centre,
May 2nd – Aberdeen – Cellar 35
May 5th – Stirling – Tollbooth
May 6th – Glasgow – Glad Cafe
May 7th – Leeds – The Fox & Newt
May 8th – London – Disorder at The Old Blue Last
May 10th – Edinburgh – Summerhall, Dissection Room

Go along and be astounded. And remember, buy Atheist Money now so that you can boast to everyone that you were among the first to pick up on it.

In the meantime please enjoy this, a single from 2012 (shared with Rick Redbeard) that was later re-recorded for Imaginary Walls Collapse

mp3 : Adam Stafford – Vanishing Tanks

Enjoy

WHEN ED AND TOM MET BARNEY AND BOBBY

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So I’m guessing that Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands were messing around in the studio of a day, twiddling and fiddling with their knobs in an effort to create some classic new sounds. They’ve gone through their extensive list of contacts for folk to sing lead vocals, but are still on the hunt for that something different. So they get in touch with Bobby Gillespie having worked with him on some recent Primal Scream stuff.

But to their horror, Bobby turns them down. And even worse, he suggests they haul in Bernard Sumner as Bobby has been working with him on some fresh material that New Order are recording….

That’s really a bit unfair. Barney might not possess the greatest vocal talent in the world, but he’s nowhere near as bad as many like to make out.

Whatever the circumstances, and how it came about, I reckon this is a brilliant piece of indie-dance-pop:-

mp3 : The Chemical Brothers – Out Of Control

It’s a song credited to Rowlands/Simons/Sumner, so Barney must have contributed a fair bit to the collaboration. Oh and Bobby does provide some back-up vocals….

This was the third and final single lifted from the truly outstanding LP Surrender, It was released in October 1999 but only reached a rather disappointing #21. But then again, I’m guessing that most folk already had it on the LP as it had already been in the shops for five months. But that meant missing out on a new song and a dapper remix:-

mp3 : The Chemical Brothers – Power Move
mp3 : The Chemical Brothers – Out Of Control (Sasha remix)

Happy Listening. And Dancing.

THE LIFE OF BRIAN

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Adapted from a post over at the old blog.

It was Friend of Rachel Worth through a posting at the now defunct Cathedrals of Sound the other week who led me to dig out a long-forgotten mini-LP from 1992.

It’s best that the story of this artist and his records be told in his own words taken from what was a myspace site:-

“Dublin musician Ken Sweeney recorded two albums, three singles and an EP under the band name Brian between 1989 and 1999.

It all started when a good friend came across a demo of Ken’s song A Million Miles and persuaded him it should be recorded as a single. Taking the example of The Smiths, the blandest name imaginable, Ken joined forces with pal Niall Austin to release the single under the band name Brian.

Moving to London in 1989 just before the record came out, Ken was amazed to hear his non-existent band’s single had been voted number 4 single of the year in Hotpress Magazine’s Critics End Of Year Polls 1989. A second single followed You Don’t Want A Boyfriend (1991) which again did well in Hotpress Polls and led to a deal with London Irish label Setanta Records.

Locations around his home in Ealing, West London like The Western Avenue motorway and Hoover Factory inspired more songs from Ken with these demos released by Setanta Records in 1992 under the title Understand. By which time Niall Austin had left London and exited the band.

UK reviews and press coverage followed. But Ken lost confidence when follow up EP The Planes, his favourite Brian record, died a death. Very miserable in London, he eventually left in 1995 and returned to Ireland where he rediscovered his muse.

Renewing his association with Setanta Records, after about 50 years of studio, producer and publishing disagreements he released his second album Bring Trouble in 1999 with BBC Radio One Single Of The Week, Turn Your Lights On, which became a hit on Irish radio and was nominated Irish Single Of The Year in 1999’s Irish Music Awards alongside acts like U2.

But it wasn’t to be, as generally people preferred Ken’s music to be sad and he decided against further recordings.

Said Ken “When I used to shop for records down at The Tape & Record Exchange in Notting Hill Gate London, it always struck me there are too many bloody albums out there. Don’t add to it unless you’ve got something you really believe in. I’ve been lucky to have a few songs like that go through my hands but not for a long time and I suppose even with some of my favourite artists, you realise they’ve reached a stage where they’re past making their best work. In my case that happened pretty quick.”

I didn’t realise that Understand was a collection of demos for they are quite lovely tunes that evoke memories of some of the slow stuff by The Smiths, mixed with the love-struck lyrics often associated with Paddy McAloon. Oh and a few years later when I heard Ballboy, it reminded me a lot of Brian.

And as much as I’m tempted to shove the whole LP up here for your pleasure, I’ll make do with the two opening singles and the title track:-

mp3 : Brian – Understand
mp3 : Brian – A Million Miles
mp3 : Brian – You Don’t Want A Boyfriend

It was Jacques the Kipper who first brought Brian to my attention all those years ago…..but are there any other fans out there?

TELL ME WHEN THE FUN BEGINS

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Oh, how we can giggle now at the picture sleeves, but did Edwyn Collins ever think his rig-out of jacket, collar and tie, red shorts, white socks and brogues were remotely hip? Or even fey???

Postcard Records had come and gone, but the wish of its founder Alan Horne that all the bands should find fame and fortune with major labels seemed set to come true.

Orange Juice had signed to Polydor Records, but we were all delighted to see that the debut single still had the word POSTCARD printed above the Polydor symbol and indeed the famous drumming kitten was also very prominent on both the sleeve and label. Edwyn, James, Stephen and David hadn’t sold out after all……

But what’s this…a song written by Green/Mitchell/Hodges? Have they recorded a cover or is it some sort of writing team attached to their new home??

mp3 : Orange Juice – L.O.V.E…love

OK, I quickly learned that it was a cover of a song by Al Green, but being the uber-indie post-punk 18 year-old, I didn’t know that at the time (in fact I wasn’t really aware who Al Green was given he’d barely had a hit in the UK).

I wasn’t sure what to make of this record at the time. In fact I was a bit disappointed with it in many ways as it seemed awfully polished. It even had horns on it when all I wanted was guitars. Thankfully, as I aged, so did my tastes improve and while I still won’t place it in all time Top 20 of OJ songs, I do tap my feet, nod my head from side to side and croon along whenever it plays.

Tell you something though, the b-side was an instant smash:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Intuition Told Me (Pt 2)

What wasn’t there to love about a song that contained the lines?

Please, please
Tell me when the fun begins
Please, please
As soon as you stop your whining Jim

And I whined a lot in those days. Still do in fact. And I’m happy to confess that Intuition Told Me (Pt 2) is still a song that I rank among the Top 2 the band ever recorded……and the best one that Edwyn ever wrote for them.

Polydor had high hopes for Orange Juice. I’m guess they were staggered by the fact that it stuck at #65 in the charts on its release in October 1981.

Oh, the sleeves above? The camp one is the 7″ and the other is the 12″. What do you mean you need a better explanation than that??

Here’s the instrumental that was available on the 12″:-

mp3: Orange Juice – Moscow

This was a re-recorded and more polished version of the song that was originally put on the b-side of Falling and Laughing.  It was, at the time, a much sought-after piece of music and one of the reasons I bought the 12″ in the first place!!

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 14 of 48)

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There’s a few of the CD86 bands still on the go today but most of them are doing so on the back of having broken up but subsequently reforming for love or money.

Today’s lot are an exception.

The Hit Parade formed in 1984 and while there was a nine-year hiatus between 1994 and 2003, they never ever officially called it a day and are still going strong 31 years on and their story is genuinely fascinating. The band consists of Raymond Watts, Matthew Moffatt and Julian Henry. and part of the reason they have never been commercially successful is down to the fact that all three have enjoyed huge success in other careers – Watts as a musician in Germany with harder-edged goth/rock acts, Henry as one of the UK’s leading lights in PR/media/marketing while Moffatt runs his own film lighting company.

Their first six singles, all recorded on their own JSH label, were released between June 1984 and April 1987.  All of them are no highly collectible and all of them received rave reviews in the UK music papers thanks to them being three-minute jangly dancey indie-pop. The singles were compiled onto an LP in June 1988 entitled With Love From The Hit Parade.

In 1991 the band would release material on three labels – Vinyl Japan and Sarah Records in addition to their own imprint .  By 1994, Julian Henry was working alongside Harvey Williams (who was  mentioned in last week’s feature on Another Sunny Day) while the band were out-of-the-blue enjoying chart success in Japan with a song called Hello Hannah Hello, a track only ever available as an LP track in the UK.

Then came the hiatus – the period coinciding with Henry’s meteoric rise to fame in the PR industry – before in 2003 the re-establishment of JSH Records since when the band had released one single in each of 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2011 and LPs in 2006, 2012 and 2014.

I’m ashamed to say that I know next to nothing about The Hit Parade and the only things I have in the collection are via compilation albums.  So if any T(n)VV reader wants to contribute something more substantial and meaningful than this cut’n’paste effort of mine, then please be my guest.

Here’s the really decent song that appears on CD86:-

mp3 : The Hit Parade – You Didn’t Love Me Then

It was the band’s fourth single and was released in 1985 with this as the b-side:-

mp3 : The Hit Parade – Huevos Mexicanos

Enjoy

 

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #9 : ALTERED IMAGES

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They began as a post-punk band championed by John Peel and Siousxie Sioux but within a relatively short period of time their move into pure pop music saw them conquer the singles charts before all of a sudden they fell spectacularly out of fashion and breaking up before the lead singer had reached her 22nd birthday after which she moved into acting.

I loved Altered Images.  They were great fun.  And Clare Grogan was, and still is, gorgeous.

The band were mere teenagers when they formed in 1979.  Their first two  singles were released to almost complete indifference in early 1981 but seemingly out of nowhere Happy Birthday hit the #2 spot in the UK on its release in August 1981.  Over the next nine months, they were rarely out of the singles charts thanks to the success of I Could Be Happy and See Those Eyes with Clare’s ‘little-girl on helium’ vocals and persona making them stand out just that bit more than most.

The age-old issue of failing to deliver a decent follow-up LP to the debut in 1982 was a setback and led to two-fifths of the band leaving on less than amicable terms and a whole change in direction in both sound and look. Vveteran producer Mike Chapman was brought in to bring a more polished and mature sound while Clare turned overnight into an Audrey Hepburn lookalike.  It did bring initial success through the outstanding 45 Don’t Talk To Me About Love but it wasn’t sustainable and before 1983 was out the band were no more.

I am proud of the fact that I own every one of the band’s eleven singles in 7″ and 12″ form along with a couple of picture discs having picked them up as a ‘job lot’ on ebay almost ten years ago.  It is tempting to put together a series featuring every single one of those 45s but I fear my love for the band won’t be as well felt among the T(n)VV readership.  But here’s one song that I think will go down well.  It’s the b-side to a November 1981 hit single (the afore-mentioned I Could be Happy) and it illustrates just how much in debt they were to the Banshees and their ilk with the early material:-

mp3 : Altered Images – Insects

Enjoy

SEND ME A LULLABY

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The Cure have released 41 singles going back to Killing An Arab in 1978 right through to The Perfect Boy exactly 30 years later. But I would never have guessed that Lullaby was the one that performed the best in the UK singles chart when it crawled its way up to #5 in 1989.

I would have put a fair amount of money that The Lovecats was the holder of that title, but it only scratched its way to #7 in 1983, although I’m guessing that in terms of actual sales it in fact outsold Lullaby.

And even if you told me that the biggest success wasn’t The Lovecats, I’d have then placed whatever was left of my cash on Friday I’m In Love, but this only swooned its way to #6 in 1992.

So the best performing 45 turns out to be the one about the creepy and haunting tale of an eight-legged creature that frightened Robert Smith is in his nightmares as a youngster. Or, is in fact the song, as has been suggested in some places, really about drug addiction and dependency but written in such a way that it gets past the censors at the BBC for the all important airplay?

Either way, I think its one of the most inventive arrangements to feature on any record by The Cure, and once more I’ve dug out the 12″ single from the cupboard for you all to enjoy once more along with two rather decent b-sides:-

mp3 : The Cure – Lullaby (extended mix)
mp3 : The Cure – Babble
mp3 : The Cure – Out Of Mind

Enjoy

 

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