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OVERDOSING ON COVER VERSIONS (7)

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The rather wonderful picture for today’s piece was taken by Mike from Manic Pop Thrills during a performance back in 2014 by BMX Bandits at a now-closed tiny pub in Glasgow called the Bowler’s Bar. It was part of an event, curated by Adam Ross of Randolph’s Leap, which itself was part of an extended music/arts festival associated with Glasgow hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Click here for gig review.

I’ve waxed lyrically before about the regal status in Scottish indie-pop that has rightly been bestowed upon Duglas T Stewart. Thought I’d throw up a few of the covers versions his band have recorded over the years, along with some of the originals (you’ll hopefully understand why I balked at the last of them).

mp3 : Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – After I Made Love To You
mp3 : BMX Bandits – After I Made Love To You

mp3 : Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – That Summer Feeling
mp3 : BMX Bandits – That Summer Feeling

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us
mp3 : BMX Bandits – Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us

mp3 : BMX Bandits – Hopelessly Devoted To You

Enjoy

BONUS POSTING : FEEL GOOD HIT OF THE SUMMER

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A few months back, Teenage Fanclub surprisingly announced that the Liquid Room in Edinburgh was to be the sole venue on the short UK tour to support the impending release of Here, the band’s tenth studio LP but just their second in the last eleven years. This is a band who can instantly sell out some of the largest venues in Scotland and who, whenever appearing on an outdoor stage at a festival, will attract numbers in the mamy thousands no matter who is on at the same time elsewhere in the field. And yet, this 600-capacity basement venue is where we find ourselves packed into on a sticky September evening.

Now let me make it quite clear from the outset; this particular has long been a favourite location of mine. It is just the right side of intimate and offers options to stand downstairs or up above on a balcony. It’s more or less a square shape and the sight lines to the stage, other than at the very back, aren’t affected by unsightly pillars. It also, especially since a major refurbishment some six years ago after a devastating fire, has an excellent sound system.

But it is a venue that is always, without fail, incredibly stifling thanks to its basement location in an old stone church that seems to just absorb the heat. And when it sells out, there is next to nothing left in the way of breathing room. This is all fine and dandy when it is a young band attracting a young and predominantly thin audience where there will always seem to be a little bit of leeway. But the average age, and the ever-increasing average waist/dress size of a more mature audience such as would be typical at a TFC gig was always going to generate ridiculous amounts of bodyheat.

I got there in time to catch the support.  I don’t like using this place to knock or criticise new and emerging bands as they collectively always have more talent than 10,000 maniacal bloggers called Jim could ever conjure up. So I’ll simply say that the four-piece band from Glasgow who opened proceedings weren’t my cup of tea but there were others were quite taken by them. The 45-minutes were endured but with the consolation that I had got there early enough to bag a great spot from which to watch the main attraction.

TFC bounded on at the stupidly early time of 8.30pm as there was a curfew of 10pm – I’m told this might have to do with the venue often doubling up a dance club in the late evenings/early mornings rather than the crazy licensing laws in the capital on the 49 weeks of the year that the Festival and Fringe aren’t hanging around.

TFC bounded on (yes, they really did with all sorts of energy, enthusiasm and smiles) and went straight into Start Again to huge acclaim at the end of which Norman thanked everyone for coming along and said that the show was going to feature songs from every album except one (which in the end turned out to be The King). In keeping with the democratic nature of the live shows, they then went into Don’t Look Back followed by About You, thus allowing Gerry and Raymond to take lead vocals and in doing so ensured the show hit a high spot from the outset.

And over the next 90 minutes, it rarely deviated from that level with no alarms and no surprises.

There’s just no way to find fault with a set that relied most heavily on Grand Prix and Songs From Northern Britain, their two biggest selling and most enduring works in which they really nailed the trick of killer choruses via warm harmonies and great melodies. The four new songs were aired at really appropriate times being wrapped around an achingly beautiful Ain’t That Enough mid-set; they closed with Sparky’s Dream and The Concept , and yup, it was the full 8 minute version of the latter that could have gone on for twice as long and still not bored anyone.

And then they came back for a three-song encore : I Need Direction, Can’t Feel My Soul and Everything Flows.

No wonder all 600 of us exited back up the narrow staircase and out into what was now a drizzly yet still hot evening wearing the widest of grins and using one-word descriptions like amazing, stunning, incredible, awesome, wonderful, astonishing, extraordinary, stupendous, phenomenal and outstanding.

Or perhaps it was best articulated by a complete stranger who came up to me as I waited on the friends who were generously giving me a run home and so letting me avoid the misery of engineering works on the railway line back to Glasgow – ‘that was fuckin’ magic big man – no wonder we’re all smiling like we’re on ecstasy!’

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – I Need Direction
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Ain’t That Enough

Enjoy

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #86 : TEENAGE FANCLUB

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A GUEST POSTING FROM TIM BADGER

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Just two guys Mucking Around 2016 – Part 2 : An ICA written Live

Yet again we find ourselves sat outside SWC’s house waiting for track ten to finish. Track Ten is ‘Bulletproof’ by La Roux, one of the tracks off of SWC’s safelist, although I have no idea why, it’s a perfectly good record. The music on the way home had been pretty good, some Cornershop, followed by Drugstore, Idlewild, Julian Cope and FKA Twigs. SWC has been slightly grumpy since he had Elbow chosen for him by his own iPod. Its not that he minds Elbow, its just that he finds them slightly uninspiring. Track 11 starts, its Teenage Fanclub.

Immediately SWC looks at me and says “I’ll give you ten quid, if you swap.” I give it some serious consideration, but then I say “No, thanks” and smile. He swears at me and then suddenly out of nowhere he says “I suppose it’s for the best, because you get tell the tale of when you sang this song to that girl you fancied.” This song, track 11, is ‘Tears Are Cool’ from the ‘Thirteen’ album and I once did indeed sing it to a girl I fancied. I’d forgotten I’d told him that. “You told me on the trip to Crewe, it came on the iPod. We almost swerved into the path of that Fiesta because we were laughing so much” he says picking up on my blank look. “I may not include this song” I say and with that we get out of the car.

I spend the next day listening to Teenage Fanclub, and have nearly decided on my ICA, when I bump into SWC at the local Spar Shop. We have a chat and he tells me that he had written the Elbow ICA, but had done it live, letting the iPod pick all the tracks for him – apart from the first one, which was already decided as it was the 11th track. He then says “You should do the Teenage Fanclub one the same way”. I reluctantly agree – largely because I’d left the window open in the car and it has started to absolutely roar it down. When I get back in I realise that of course, this means that I have to start my ICA with ‘Tears Are Cool’ and that means telling this story, or it means SWC telling it for me. Sigh…

Side One

Tears Are Cool – Taken from Thirteen

So, there’s this girl, we’ll call her Aerosmith Girl, actually let’s call her Sally, and she was lovely. I had a massive thing for her in the early to mid nineties. She drunk in my local pub – where I lived at the time. I ignored the fact that she loved Aerosmith because she was so lovely.

Anyway, one night in the pub, I saw her crying, sitting there on her own, crying. I went over and spoke to her, turns out her cat had died (to be honest, she should have just stayed in – the attention seeker) anyway, after about five minutes, I said “its ok Tears Are Cool” – taking it from the song that Teenage Fanclub had released on their most recent album.

On Saturday night it was Open Mic night, when a few people turned up with acoustic guitars, played for fifteen minutes and then sodded off to claim two free pints. That night, for the time ever, I got up to play – I mumbled my way through an acoustic version of a Levellers song and then something in my head went “This ones for Sally” and I looked straight at her and did a little fist pump. I know. Sorry.

Then I sang ‘Tears Are Cool’. When I finished she wasn’t even sitting where she was when I started it. Twenty minutes later I saw her outside eating chips with a bloke called Gavin. Chips. Gavin. I’d sang my heart out in there and she fucked off and bought some chips. I never sang in that pub again. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever sung live again.

Anyway – lets go on with the ICA, the next nine songs picked by the ipod will make up the ICA – I have 68 Teenage Fanclub songs, so here goes….

God Knows Its TruePeel Session 12”

What a place to start! The Peel Session version of this is exquisite, full on proper guitar onslaught. There is an argument that this is their finest moment, certainly the Peel Session version is I think heavier than the 12” version. It wonderful

Radio – From Thirteen

Another single, we are doing well here. Thirteen was not the breakthrough that the response to ‘Bandwagonesque’ had suggested but its every bit its equal and in ‘Radio’ was a song as clean cut and ready for the erm, radio, as they ever record. Its simply wonderful.

Starsign – From 12” single

Another single! I’m not making this up folks, my iPod has a habit of doing this. Some of you will remember wives week on WYCRA when the first three songs where by three of my favourite bands – anyway, ‘Starsign’ is again, wonderful, even if it does sound more like Swervedriver than the band would ever admit.

Everything Flows – From ‘A Catholic Education’

Wow. What an A Side – if you ignore the nonsense around “Tears Are Cool” then tracks two to five are as about as much fun as you can have without taking your clothes and finding a pot of fromage frais in the fridge. At the same time. Side Two will be a let down folks. Face it.

Side Two

Don’t Look Back – From ‘Grand Prix’

‘Grand Prix’ is my favourite Teenage Fanclub album – and sorry I refuse to call them ‘The Fannies’ – just because. The musical template is pretty similar to the rest of their stuff, but its this album that is lyrically wonderful – especially the ones that Gerard Love wrote for some reason. ‘Don’t Look Back’ is one of those tracks and as it happens its one of my favourite tracks. I love the line ‘I’d steal a car/to drive you home’ its wonderfully soppy.

Start Again – From ‘Songs from Northern Britain’

This was one of the standout tracks from ‘Songs From Northern Britain’. This was a song I remember owning of 12” – long since vanished from the Badger household I’m afraid. It had a tremendous B Side if I remember (perhaps with Jad Fair?) but the single is excellent but I think we all know that. It’s a musical road trip full of jangley guitars and Beach Boys style harmonies. I always found the line ‘I don’t know if you can hear me’ as sung in this somewhat ironic and the public inevitably ignored it.

Hang On – From ‘Thirteen’

A strange thing happened in 1993, Teenage Fanclub were on the cusp of superstardom, they were loved by the press and their fanbase was growing. So for some reason they decided to embrace grunge but were in all honesty to brilliant to do it. They couldn’t do it. ‘Hang On’ starts a bit like something by an American Grunge band – its sounds a bit like Pavement as it happens – before it slides into white noise and strings. Its ace but feels uncomfortable getting there.

About You – From ‘Grand Prix’

Has there ever been a band so democratic in its songwritng duties as Teenage Fanclub? This one was written by Raymond McGinley and it’s a catchy as a cold. Its another one of my favourite tracks. ‘About You’ is sung by all three of the bands songwriters and seriously you’ll be singing it for weeks after playing it. The fact that this was overlooked as a single for (the not quite as good) ‘Mellow Doubt’ staggered me then and still staggers me now.

Sparkys Dream – From ‘Grand Prix’

Ok I’ll keep this one short – this is one of the best pop rock songs ever written. Its another Gerard Love one and that bluesy slide guitar intro is divine and nearly every band I can think would kill for it. One I definitely would have included anyway. Decent end to a decent album that.

Tim Badger

SUNSHINE AND SADNESS

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Last week saw much of the UK bask in warm, glorious sunshine and record temperatures. Here in Glasgow it wasn’t quite like that although it seemed pleasant enough and the dry spell was very welcome after what had been a largely damp, dreich and often cold May and June.

The thing is, I didn’t notice it all that much as the good weather coincided with a great deal of sadness in as much as I was at two funerals in the space of 48 hours. The first of them was for a talented young man in his early 20s who was killed in a road accident and the second was for a wonderful lady who wasn’t that far off her 100th birthday but whose latter years were ruined by the onset of various illnesses including dementia.

All the while, the world was coming to terms with the latest of what are increasingly scary terrorist attacks in Tunisia just as we are getting our heads around the horror of the attack on a black church by an extremist in South Carolina in the USA.

I don’t know how the rest of you cope with trauma and adversity but you won’t be surprised to learn that I try to do so through music. And this past few days instead of relying on the shuffle feature of the iPod as I normally do when I’m on my way to work I’ve found myself searching out songs that make me smile and which can form a perfect soundtrack to a normal summer. Here’s four that have stood out:-

mp3 : The Sundays – Summertime

Harriet Wheeler and the boys have made more important and indeed essential indietracks but this single from 1997 is a real standout for me partly as it is a perfect love song but mainly because it is so full of warmth and vitality that it is impossible not to smile and sigh as you listen.

mp3 : The Magic Numbers – Forever Lost

A hit single from the summer of 2005. It doesn’t seem as if was as long as ten years ago. A bittersweet break-up song clothed in a ridiculously upbeat and zestful tune. The Magic Numbers never bettered this, their debut single.

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Sparky’s Dream

No way is this 20 years old. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy.

I’ve said before that I can be a bit ambivalent about Teenage Fanclub but the thing is, when they’re good, they tend to be exceptionally good. It’s impossible to listen to this and not do a wee imaginary dance in your head as you stare at your fellow commuters.

mp3 : Cats On Fire – I Am The White-Mantled King

I don’t know all that much about pop music and Finland. But I do know that Cats On Fire have been doing tremendous things for well over a decade now and ought to be better known and more appreciated than they are. If they are new to you, then you could do worse than head over to somewhere like youtube and watch some of their wonderful promo videos. This is the opening track to the 2007 LP The Province Complains, a record that every fan of intelligently crafted indie pop should own.

Coming up tomorrow…..something else that cheered me up in the middle of last week.

Enjoy

CAMPFIRE SONGS

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This bit of music sounds as if the makers should come from deep in the heart of Texas, but in fact The Rockingbirds were a London-based outfit formed in 1990.

mp3 : The Rockingbirds – Gradually Learning

They were first signed to Heavenly Records but no mainstream success came from any of their four singles/EPs or their 1992 self-titled debut LP. Some of the band left after this initial burst of activity, but a new line-up inked a deal with Cooking Vinyl and an LP was recorded with Edwyn Collins at the producers desk. But still The Rockingbirds remained too square-dance to be hip and by 1995, they called it a day.

However, there was a very brief reformation in 2008 to play a show celebrating the 18th birthday of their first label and then some more gigs in 2009 to support the re-release of a remastered and extended version of the debut LP.

One of the band members was Andy Hackett who has long been a sidekick of the afore-mentioned Edwyn playing on his records and being part of the various tour bands.

Here’s the other tracks on the CD single:-

mp3 : The Rockingbirds – Where I Belong
mp3 : The Rockingbirds – Love Has Gone And Made A Mess Of Me
mp3 : The Rockingbirds – Gradually Learning (full version)

While here’s another of those early singles on Heavenly – a tribute to a very talented singer-songwriter from Boston who featured just yesterday on T(n)VV:-

mp3 : The Rockingbirds – Jonathan Jonathan
mp3 : The Rockingbirds – Time Drives The Truck
mp3 : The Rockingbirds – Older Guys

The last of these tracks is a cover version of a song by The Flying Burrito Brothers and was co-written by Gram Parsons.  It was also covered, in 1993, by Teenage Fanclub and featured as one of the b-sides to Norman 3:-

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Older Guys

Enjoy.

PS

Here’s an update on The Rockingbirds as provided by the man who is sitting on the horse on the sleeve of Gradually Learning:-

“Hi, Andy from The Rockingbirds here, just to add we’re still going strong and are currently finishing our 4th album provisionally titled ‘More Rockingbirds’ as we speak. We also released an album called ‘The Return of the Rockingbirds’ a couple of years ago, which like all of our albums is still available.”

I’m off to track down a copy….and hopefully the band will take to the road later on in the year to promote the upcoming 4th album.

MY FIRST TASTE OF TEENAGE FANNIES

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I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that Teenage Fanclub are a bit hit and miss with me but this particular 45 is one I’ve adored for nigh on 25 years now and I still think it is one of their all time greats:-

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – God Knows It’s True

I reckon this was the first time I ever heard the band and again it was thanks to it appearing on a compilation tape put together by Jacques the Kipper. It’s quite incredible to realise this single came out as far back as November 1990. It was the last thing they released on the Paperhouse label before the switch to Creation Records and the deserved commercial success from Bandwagonesque onwards.

I was delighted a few years ago to pick up a mint condition copy of the 12″ for just £3 and to discover that the other tracks consist of a cracking b-side that could easily have been released as a single and a couple of instrumentals which demonstrate the boys liked to listen to bit of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr just as much as the west coast Americana that they claimed were the biggest influences:-

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – So Far Gone
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Weedbreak
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Ghetto Blaster

Enjoy

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 108)

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I really don’t think that I need to provide any background to the 107th artist featured in this long running series.

This is the April 1991 CD release of a belter of a tune originally issued in a limted edition of 1500 x 7″ singles…….and if you’re lucky enough to own the vinyl then you could expect to get up to £100 if you put it on the market.

mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Primary Education
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Speeder
mp3 : Teenage Fanclub – Don’t Cry No Tears