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HANGING OUT IN CAMDEN, DRINKING WITH MY GIRLFRIENDS

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Many folk have tried to re-write history and get sniffy about Britpop, that era from around 1994 – 1997 when just about every indie-guitar band snagged themselves a record deal, got written about in NME and/or Select magazine, appeared on TV to promote their latest single (usually on TFI Friday) and then found themselves dropped and in debt when the bubble burst in spectacular fashion.

Now there was a lot of really average, and in fact, sub-standard stuff, that became very popular in that era. I mean, does anyone really have a soft spot for the abomination that is Ocean Colour Scene? Or Cast?? (see that opening sentence above……pot calling kettle black!)

But there was a lot of great stuff such including from a band that was originally lumped in with the very early 90s genre of shoegazing. And no, dont ask me to explain what shoegazing was exactly – something to do with a bands inability to look at their audience when playing. By that definition, just about every band in its existence has gone through a shoegazing period. Unless they have a lead singer who is just a big show-off.

Fast forward to 1996, and Lush are now part of the latest genre dreamt up by the media (shame on you for this one Stuart Maconie). Although it was inappropriate for the band to be lumped-in with loads of acts with whom they had nothing in common, it did at least get them some daytime radio play, and in 1996, three singles in a row cracked the Top 30, including this:-

mp3 : Lush – Ladykillers

Its just a cracking pop song. Great riff, melody and lyric. You can’t really ask for anything more….

I bought CD2 of the single.  Here’s the three b-sides:-

mp3 : Lush – Heavenly
mp3 : Lush – Carmen
mp3 : Lush – Plums and Oranges

The first of these is really surprising.  One that I could have posted up and asked readers to guess who it was, I think most of you would have struggled (unless either you’re an uber-fan or own this partucular single).  The other two tracks are equally well worth a listen without being as wonderful as the a-side.

 

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (22)

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The Shoebox of Delights – The Robster Picked Number 18
‘Nowhere’ Original Soundtrack – Various Artists

220px-Nowhere

Soundtracks. I rarely buy them, in fact I own two. This one, which I didn’t buy, and Trainspotting which was a gift at Christmas. The problem with soundtracks is that you never get one that is 100% full of good tracks. You get the odd track, the odd unreleased gem, the odd hard to find song, but you wouldn’t buy the whole thing because it also contains Celine Dion, Phil Collins or Mumford and Sons.

Nowhere is no different. It contains some excellent music but it contains some utter utter shite as well. Believe me no compilation album with Marilyn Manson on it is worth buying.

Nowhere is a Gregg Araki film about the Doomed Generation or something – here is a snippet from the press stuff around the film

“A group of teenagers try to sort out their lives and emotions while bizarre experiences happen to each one, including alien abductions, bad acid trips, bisexual experiences, suicides, bizarre deaths, and a rape by a TV star. All of this happens before “the greatest party of the year”.

Now bearing in mind my favourite film of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark followed by Back To the Future II – this isn’t my type of film but it does have a pretty good soundtrack (Marilyn Manson, 311, Coco and the Bean and Catherine Wheel withstanding)

Going off topic slightly I was once on a training course and we did this stupid ‘icebreaking’ thing where you had to name your favourite food, favourite album, favourite film and fantasy dinner party guest to a bunch of strangers. Anyway, I was sat on a table with four chaps, one I can only describe as a ‘hipster twat’ and when it was his turn to talk about his favourite film (this was after I said mine and the chap next to me, said ‘I don’t know, probably Jaws’) said this “I guess, I’m kinda leftfield, my film would be something by Russian avant garde agent provocateur Alexandr Soukurov”. That is what he said. Hope he’s reading this and if so – your beard looked crap and from the look of it your tattooist has put the Sanskrit word for ‘Knobjockey’ on your left arm.

Anyway, the soundtrack, let’s talk about the good stuff, the best track on it by far is by Chuck D ‘Generation Wrekked’ angry, shouty hip hop at its best by the guy who does it better than anyone else on the planet. There are some other gems ‘How Can You Be Sure?’ by Radiohead – which I think features on the B side on ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ but dates back to when they weren’t even called Radiohead (thanks Badgerman, for that snippet of information, he really is a walking Radiohead encyclopaedia). You get an Elastica track ‘In the City’ which I think is only available on a BBC Radio Sessions, and at just over 90 seconds, it is exactly what you expect from Elastica snotty, ferocious and bratty. There is also ‘Dicknail’ by Hole, which is them at their rawest, angriest and ultimately best. It’s a downright nasty song but its also great.

mp3 : Chuck D – Generation Wrekked
mp3 : Radiohead – How Can You Be Sure
mp3 : Elastica – In The City
mp3 : Hole – Dicknail

There are a couple of tracks which are not rare, ‘Life Is Sweet’ by the Chemical Brothers is here (given the Daft Punk remix treatment) in all its eight minute glory and ‘Trash’ by Suede – or The London Suede as the album calls them. Both are excellent – the Suede track ends the album and rather lifts the gloom from the Americanised College rock that precedes it.

You also get a few tracks by decent bands who recorded them specifically for this album – there are two of these that stand out ‘Nowhere’ by Curve, which is possibly one of the best tracks that they have ever produced. They sound sinister, angry and Toni Halliday vocal is more menacing than ever on it. The other one is ‘I Have the Moon’ by the much missed and loved Lush – and this may be the albums highpoint, a tremendously dreamy gorgeous song that is relaxing and a genuine chill down the spine moment.

mp3 : Lush – I Have The Moon

You also get a rare James track (saying that I gave up on James after ‘Whiplash’ so it might not be that rare) called ‘Thursday Treatments’ which is an instrumental track. Its bland. Really bland. They are trying to sound like Aphex Twin but end up sounding like the music I expect to be played in Japanese lifts. Seriously this is why I gave up on James. Twenty years ago I would have bought this solely for the fact it had a James track on it and would have justified its uselessness by calling it ‘Experimental’. I don’t know why but this song has angered me so much but I have just punched a cuddly toy owl.

mp3 : James – Thursday Treatments

So that is ‘Nowhere’ I am half tempted to give the film a spin now but I have just read that it has Ryan Philippe in it, so know it will be waste of time, a man that is to acting what I am to flying helicopters – bizarrely it also has Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers in it, still no reason to watch it though.

That was Number 18, on the list, what’s next guys…?

S-WC

ALVIN LIVES (IN LEEDS)

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This is one of my own….but it was inspired by an idea and contribution from a reader.

Just the other week I featured the cover of Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) by The Wedding Present.  A comment from The Robster informed me that this was the band’s second take on that particular song as it had first been aired on an LP called Alvin Lives (In Leeds) : Anti Poll Tax Trax which, as the title suggests, was aimed at raising funds to help those campaigning against a particularly unpopular piece of government legislation.

Released in 1990, it consists of 12 indie acts doing cover versions.  As is often the case with a record like this, the output it is a bit hit and miss but what is quite astonishing is the sheer cheesiness of some of the choices:-

Tracklist 

Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
Five Thirty – My Sweet Lord
Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody
The Popguns – Bye Bye Baby
Crocodile Ride – I Feel Love
Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting
Corn Dollies – Le Freak
The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
The Close Lobsters – Float On
14 Iced Bears – Summer Nights
The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
The Perfect Disaster – Wanderin’ Star

It’s a bunch of huge hits from the 70s and  I kind of got the feeling that having been asked to be part of what was a worthy cause and then told they had to come up with a cover of a well-known record from the 70s, most of them then tried to think what could be the most ridiculous departure from the norm.

Special mention must be made of Cud.  They’ve taken one of the sacred cows of pomp rock and ripped the total pish out of it.  All the words and a semblance of the tune do appear to be in place but they bash the whole thing out in a little under three minutes:-

mp3 : Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody

Anyone can see (and hear), nothing really matters to them.

Elsewhere, the song taken on by Lush is more akin to a nursery rhyme but yet somehow in their hands it works as indie-pop with meaningless lyrics while Robyn Hitchock and his mates become human beatboxes on a crazy take of a novelty song:-:-

mp3 : Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
mp3 : Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting

As you’d expect, the Weddoes do their usual fine job (and it is marginally different than the version recorded with Steve Albini and made available on the 3 Songs EP) while  I was also quite taken by some parts of Le Freak in which The Corn Dollies occasionally do a fine tribute to Gang Of Four:-

mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Le Freak

There were a few disappointments, none more so than The Close Lobsters whose take on what I’ve thought was always an appalling song somehow made me long for the original although the biggest waste of vinyl has to go to Five Thirty for what is a pointless re-tread of the George Harrison hit.

When this LP was mentioned in the comments, my dear mate Dirk from Sexy Loser professed his love for this track:-

mp3 : The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

It’s one that didn’t jump out on first hearing but I’ve persisted and now fallen for its charms.

In summary, Alvin Lives (In Leeds) is, like so many other projects of this nature, a mixed-bag, but I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to learn about it after all these years.  Hope those of you who aren’t familiar with the versions featured today will appreciate them.

Thanks Robster.