Saturday, 27 April 2013

BMX Bandits - Janice Long Session 23/6/1986

BMX Bandits at their campshackle best, years before they signed to Creation and took to copping Big Star riffs with songs about Kylie crush sagas.

When this session was recorded, the group were riding high in Indieville with debut single E102/Sad?, which dominated the radio waves, albeit only when Janice Long was on air. Apparently on the night this session was first broadcast, the phone lines were beseiged by eager A&R persons from major labels.

For reasons unclear the euphoria didn't become epidemic, and critics and fans were left somewhat subdued by follow up single, a slapdash rendition of What A Wonderful World. Nearly two years passed before the next single,and saprodic releases, including a live album, appeared out of the blue, until the group's resurgence in the mid-nineties.

Four of the songs from this session eventually found a commercial release on the long out of print On The Radio cd, which also gathered together several later sessions for Mark Radcliffe. Girl In The Pink T Shirt was curiously not included.

Strawberry Sundae
Groovy Good Luck Friend
The Day Before Tomorrow
Girl In The Pink T Shirt

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Buffalo Springfield - Market Hall, Dallas, TX 20/4/1968

Following the closure of the Tamworth branch of HMV earlier this month, I now live in a town that is officially a record shop-free zone. At one point in the mid-nineties there were no less than six (if you include Woolworth's) record shops trading in the town.

The cramped haven of Rebel Records (50s/60s/70s specialists) was a legal high in itself for an eighties teen slowly discovering the bygone thrills of sixties garage/psych. In the days before ebay and Amazon, the fact that you could waltz into a shop to find all those early Pebbles, Highs In The Mid-Sixties etc etc compilations on your doorstep was almost a miracle. Several indie shops came and went over the years, but Inner Sleeve were the longest serving in the town by far, rivalling Our Price for nigh on a decade. Inner Sleeve had the distinction of catering (quite literally) for peckish customers by selling freshly baked potatoes in an array of relish from a box room annexed at the side of the premises. However, the arrival of Music Junction in the newly-built extension of the Ankerside shopping centre in the early nieties soon spelled the end for Inner Sleeve. The Record Exchange tapped into the burgeoning grunge/punk revival scene briefly, run by a guy who looked like an Ozric Tentacles reject with his faithful black labrador always at his side. Upstairs there was a massive second hand section at decent prices with the kind of stock that would sell for at least twice the price on ebay.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not lamenting the closure of HMV. The Tamworth branch was a very claustrophobic shopping experience, the interior felt like you'd stepped into the Myspace home page - a sort of digital world made flesh as it were. Once you'd managed to circumnavigate your way through that weeks latest computer games, the perputual half price dvd box sets and cheapo paperbacks, the cds they did have in stock were mostly rehashed siftings of scrapings from the last barrel reissues.  Latterly, on one of the infrequent occasions I called in to HMV to buy a stack of blank cds, the store had taken to employing supermarket psychology by stocking a range of mainsteam confectionary to tantalise the customer in the long queue and no doubt eek out a few more pennies from the weak of will to pay the increasing inflated rates high street shops have to contend with today to keep them afloat.

Neither am I eulogising the passing of the record shop's heyday, outlets often run by otherwise uemployable glorified pawnbrokers with all the customer service skills of a caveman who hadn't tucked into a Brontosaurus burger for several days. What I'm lamenting is the loss of that instinctive, natural desire to own a record that was new and fresh and previously unknown to you, which you'd heard played on the radio for the first time and wanted to listen to over and over again; something that you could keep forever and go back to at some stage when things had moved on to something else. I'll never forget as a ten year old seeing the Buzzcocks on Top Of The Pops "performing" Ever Fallen In Love (inbetween Hot Gossip and Violinski). I had neither heard of band or song prior to their TOTP appearance, but I wanted the single there and then! I vaguely recall begging my mother to hand over my pocket money a day early so I could rush to the shops and buy the single - I coudn't wait until Saturday!

Today, it seems, record labels are on the verge of desperation, barraging the consumer with a multitude of versions on the same format, exclusive tracks on one format, more exclusive tracks on another format, cds given away free with vinyl editions, bonus 7" singles with the hidden tracks on the cd...It's not a dissimilair ploy from the days when record companies hyped their product into the charts by offering exclusive merchandise to shop owners for free, in return for taking on extra copies. Only today the ploy is focused on the consumer.

Where I grew up in Lichfield, the best place for buying records was Bradshaw's - a tv rental shop (I'm really dating myself now) that stocked the Top 75 singles aswell as back catalogue (i.e. unsold) punk singles. They even had a listening booth - a sort of pegboard hood with one speaker that you pressed your ear against to preview your potential purchase. It was here that I bought my first ever Fall record - Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul 7" from the 40p box. I still have the copy to this day. When Bradshaw's closed their record department at the end of 1982, the next port of call was WH Smith's, who always had a healthy stock of albums outside the mainstream. I vividly recall buying Felt's Splendour Of Fear and The Strange Idols Pattern lps from the Lichfield branch in 1984.

With the seventh annual Record Bore Day upon us, it seems those involved are merely fetishing a format to force the hands of a minority of obsessives. As I type,  pink vinyl 7" reissue of Floyd's See Emily Play is already up on greedbay with the starting bid of £32. Likewise The Fall's Sir William Wray. Sundazed have chipped in several revisional singles, including a Chocolate Watch Band 7" containing "rare" songs that have been previously reissued countless times.  It's as if the retailers are pre-determining the collectivity of an item and charging silly prices accordingly before the artefact has had chance to mature and garner collectivity kudos.  In the eighties I bought many of the early 7" singles on the Creation label - not because I thought they would be a wise investment to help pay my heating bills when I reached pensionable age, but because the bands and their music excited me. There was an inexplicable aura about Creation in the early days, with records packaged in distinctive tinted zerox wraparound sleeves and housed in polythene bags. But it never occurred to me that these records would be coveted (and expensive) items a quarter of a century later. These were groups who sold very few records, were of minority interest to those who were averse to all things goth and the gated snares of Trevor Horn productions; in commercial terms these bands were nobodies destined for fleeting attempts at stardom before growing up and getting proper jobs. Rather than owning a record because it was exciting and new, we seem to have arrived at a culture of owning a record for ownership's sake.

Ozit Morpheus, a UK label who've sporadically released Captain Beefheart recordings of dubious authenticity, have got in on the act by issuing a live album  baring the eye-poppingly, jaw-droppingly title Frank Freeman's Dance Hall. Four songs had already appeared on the Grow Fins box set in the late nineties, but to the Beefheart diehard it appeared Ozit were offering the complete concert. On closer inspection it turns out the album is padded out with several tracks from a completely different concert also previously released on Grow Fins.

One wonders if the artists are actually getting paid for having their works rehashed and if the wares on offer are an authentic vinyl experience for the customer. Kevin Shields, in a 2012 interview, mentioned that their US label had licenced Loveless to an independent reissue specialist Plain Records for a limited vinyl pressing to help pay off debts My Bloody Valentine still owed the company. Despite boasting what's fast becoming the obligatory 180 gram HQ virgin vinyl reissue, the album was simply remastered from a cd copy of the album on a home pc - a process that's becoming all too commonplace on this niche market. The other week I was reading customer reviews of Big Star's Sister Lovers album on Amazon. One satisfied customer stated that although he'd purchased previous cd reissues, the album now sounded much better owing to the "warmth of vinyl". This particular edition was released by - you guessed it - Plain records.

As RSD grows more popular, it will no doubt attract interest from those whose first priorities lie not with the music. Bong-befuddled hoodies who've pawned their last Quentin Tarantino dvd will be first in the queue at their nearest store hoping to make a quick buck to be able to afford to attend the next having it large re-enactment at the oldies rave night down at the social club. Just as Glastonbury grew from an annual outing for the great unwashed who never came back down from the sixties to essential family television viewing by the millenium, and with the simultaneous rise of the internet, quick-thinking touts purchased tickets by the bulkload to sell for twice the original price on greedbay.

Fans of The Beta Band will be delighted that their quintessential first three eps have been made available for RSD. Although I own all the originals, I see it as a positive, tentative step towards an eventual overhaul of their back catalogue in time for the tenth anniversary (in 2014) since they called it a day.

The one item I'm hoping to track down is Codeine's What About The Lonely - one of the more authentic of this year's offerings. By that I mean the album contains previously unreleased material of a complete concert that has been on general cd release, but has been given a small quantity vinyl run for hardcore fans. As long as the price is right...

And that's all I've got to say on the matter.

All this excessive preamble has little to do with the post. As far as I'm aware, Buffalo Springfield haven't received  the RSD treatment, but 45 years ago this evening they took to the stage in front of a large crowd as the opening act for The Beach Boys. Lasting little over half an hour, the set is largely dominated by an extended excursion through Bluedbird. Hear Neil Young quip at the start: "One more hit and we won't have to nail our equipment to the stage."

Enjoy - if you've managed to read my protracted waffle, you've earned it!

Rock 'n Roll Woman
A Childs Claim To Fame
 Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Uno Mundo
For What It's Worth

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Clean - Live Dead Clean (EP 1986)

When I'm innocently going about my daily business in town or in the supermarket, I'm often accosted by characters belligerently wanting to know why I've yet to post anything by The Clean on my blog. Hopefully, this post should appease you all.

Recorded at three different venues across 1981-82, this 12" ep appeared posthumously in 1986. With The Chills beginning to receive wider acclaim in the western world, it would seem interested was being generated in Flying Nun bands past and present. The Clean were seen as the forefathers of whatever the NZ scene was being pigeonholed as, so it seemed appropriate for a reappraisal via this collection of previously unreleased songs.

In 1988 the three members by chance found themselves in London with their current individual projects and decided to play an impromptu gig at the Fulham Greyhound. Selections from this performance were released on the In-A-Live ep later that year, inspiring the trio into an off/on reformation that continues to this day. The group finally released their debut album in 1990.

Only two tracks from this ep would later resurface on Merge Records 2cd album Anthology. The other songs remain languishing on the original release, copies of which will set you back £40-60.

Two Fat Sisters
At The Bottom
Happy Birthday John
Attack Of The Teddy Bears
Filling A Hole

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Yeah Yeah Noh - New Merlin's Cave, London 1/12/1985

Yeah Yeah Noh return to live action this year with two London shows in May and June. The first is part of the Oddbox Weekender on Sunday 5th May at the Victoria, Dalston. The second is to be held at 229 in Great Portland Street, Central London, on Saturday 22nd June to celebrate the release of Scared To Get Happy - a 5cd Nuggets-style box set charting forgotten heroes of cult indiedom 1980-89 - in the same month.

Following the success of their homecoming Leicester show last December, the group have been squandering monies accrued on fast cars, wild women, drug-fuelled recording sessions and regular seances to summon up the spirit of former Legs & Co governess Flick Colby. The group are seeking choreographical guidance to perfect the Wamble - a new dance craze in the vein of the shimmy undertaken on a yacht in stormy seas which they'll be encouraging fans in attendance at upcoming shows to perform.

If you can't wait until then, or are unable to make the shows, but are hungry for more YYN live action, here's a set from winter 1985 to tide you over.

Here we find the beat combo mid-tour promoting their debut (and so far only) album Cutting The Heavenly Lawn Of Greatness...Last Rites For The God Of Love having not long returned from a gig in Sneek (where?), Netherlands, their only gig on foreign soil to date (and for that matter, fact fans, only their second gig outside England - they played Bangor University the previous October). Derek Hammond is on fine inbetween song banter form to a small audience who don't really show their appreciation until the dying feedback of Blood Soup.

Barely a month on from this gig the group announced they were calling it a day, most of the members going on to live a life of austerity in a Himalayan commune for the next 25 years, until the allures of the rock 'n roll lifestyle tempted them back into the limelight.

She Said She Said
Stealing In The Name Of The Lord
Another Side To Mrs Quill
Married Miss New Jersey
Crimplene Seed Lifestyle
Starling Pillowcase
Prick Up Your Ears
Temple Of Convenience
Blood Soup

For the latest groovy happenings in the world of Yeah Yeah Noh, please go to their page on Faecesbook

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Pastels - BBC Sessions 1984/Demos 1985

Next month The Pastels release Slow Summits in what's being touted as their first new album in 16 years. Quite why long distance collaborations with Japanese artistes and film soundtracks are discounted as albums I know not.

To be honest, I have only payed a passing interest in The Pastels since the original line up went their separate ways soon after the release of their overlooked second album Sittin' Pretty. Subsequent releases in the first half of the nineties sounded like more of the same, only lacking the spark of the eighties incarnation propelled by the inimitable pulse of Bernice's beat. No doubt influenced by the Slint-inspired bands emerging from the Glasgow scene, 1998's Illuminations was a surprising development from their oft-dismissed shambling beginnings, but their foray into post-rock was dissatifying to my ears.

Having heard snippets of songs from the new album, it sounds like a welcome return to their pioneering Velvety Richmond take on indie pop of the eighties. Before you accuse me of being puritanical, I recall around 1987 a publication entitled The Pastels Are Dead circulating on the "zine scene". The perpetrators claimed the Glasgow four-piece had betrayed their indie roots upon releasing debut album Up For A Bit. The person(s) unknown even had badges made bearing the name of the fanzine which were given out freely to audience members at the group's gigs! It appears some small town sections of eighties neophobic youth couldn't come to terms with The Pastels discovery of "weightlifting" and "Rustler magazine".

Tipped for big things in 1984, possibly by Alan McGee, whose overzealous enthusiasm made good copy for the hype machine, this was the only session the "classic" line up recorded for Peel. Their most realised studio work up to this point, the session featured superior versions of the two songs that comprised their debut single for Creation. Trains Go Down The Tracks was an early stab at what became Breaking Lines; despite being potential album closer material, the song would end up on the flipside to Truck Train Tractor a couple of years later. Tomorrow The Sun Will Shine, a regular feature in their live set around this time, never made it onto record.

It would be almost 14 years before The Pastels next featured as session guests for Peel.

Peel 17/1/1984
Something Going On
Stay With Me Til Morning
Tomorrow The Sun Will Shine
Trains Go Down The Tracks

Legend has it that when the producers of the Kid Jensen Show received the master tapes for this session, they bulked at what confronted their ears. No doubt a bunch of bearded long hairs weened on bloated drum solos and precision engineering axe fretwankery in their foggy proggy student hay daze, they unreservedly deemed the performances as substandard and therefore unsuitable for broadcast.

By summers end, Jensen had quit the show (to be replaced by Janice Long) for an unsuccessful television career presenting The Roxy - ITV's equally unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the institution that was Top Of The Pops.

Three of the songs would later receive an official release on Suck On The Pastels - one of Creation's many so-so quick buck compilations that probably ensured the label's survival in the early days - in 1988. The little heard She Always Cries... only ever appeared on the aforementioned album. The inauspicious 25 Unfinished Plays would later morph into one of their finest songs, Truck Train Tractor.

Million Tears
25 Unfinished Plays
She Always Cries On Sundays
Baby Honey

Finally, for your delectation, we have four rough quality demos recorded at an unknown studio in 1985. Couldn't Care Less comes almost fully formed to its counterpart on their third and final Creation single later that year. I'm Alright With You receives a more laid back acoustic treatment with an alternate intro and slightly different lyrics. Blind Faith is another lost original that never made it to the pressing plant, while the set ends with a wistful take on Suicide's Cheree, complete with stylophone organ and what sounds like a struggling-to-stay-awake vocal.

I'm Alright With You
Couldn't Care Less
Blind Faith

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Television Personalities - BBC Sessions 1980-86

In a week that saw the passing of The Iron Lady, I seized the opportunity to post She's Only The Grocer's Daughter, arguably the greatest anti-Thatcher song by one of the country's grreatest songwriters, Daniel Treacy. I also partially recanted the tale of how my late father once danced with Maggie T on a night out at Finchley Town Hall.

It would have been around 1963-64, my father was working at the Finchley branch of Sainsbury's. He and some of his colleagues would often frequent the Town Hall of a weekend. Mrs. Thatcher, then just a humble councillor, had some involvement with the running of the venue, possibly extended to booking the bands. It was largely the domain of the more innocuous jazz outfit, but on this particular night there was a guitar combo making a "right bloody racket". The band in question was none other than a nascent Pretty Things!

Unaccustomed to such eardrum abuse, my father sort refuge in the gents toilet, intent on leaving for elsewhere. When he returned to his table he noticed his drink was missing. After looking around he spotted Thatcher.....with his drink! He went over to confront her and sheepishly she apologised profusely and offered to buy him another.

At the bar they got chatting - my dad making a sarcastic jibe at the unbearable noise emanating from the stage. Thatcher chastised him and insisted that this music was the new thing and would be all the rage in the future (or words to that effect). Sensing my dad wasn't convinced, she then insisted they walk over to the dancefloor. Like son like father, he was reticent to be seen dancing in public, but had no choice but to succumb to her iron persuasion - she'd grabbed him by the arm and frogmarched him to the dancefloor where they remained for two or three numbers.

The two sessions posted here are, surprisingly, the only ones the TVPs recorded for the BBC. (By coincidence, Tom Ravenscroft is airing the first session as I type). I always prefered the Peel versions of the four songs that would later grace their debut album, And Don't The Kids Just Love It. I particularly like the softer, at times almost whispered, vocals which give the songs a more melodic and melancholic feel. Dan sounds a bit hoarse in places, so there may have been practical reasons for this relaxed, gentle approach.

It would be another six years before the TVPs returned to Maida Vale, this time under the auspices of Andy Kershaw. Now stripped down to a trio, with Jowe Head and Jeffrey Bloom accompanying Dan on his musical escapades, the band layed down three raw and radically different versions of songs that would feature on the much delayed (and laboured) Privilege album in 1990. The session also features rare track I Still Believe In Magic, a song that they would re-record for a limited edition 7" single on the Caff label.

Baroness Thatcher passed away after a series of strokes on Monday. With cruel irony, Dan Treacy has been hospitalised for over a year now following a blood clot on the brain. Last I heard he'd lost the power of speech. Hopefully he will soon return to full health and continue adding to the considerable cannon of beautifully honest songs he's created over the last thirty-odd years.

La Grande Illusion
Look Back In Anger
Silly Girl
A Picture Of Dorian Gray

Paradise Is For The Blessed
My Conscience Tells Me No
I Still Believe In Magic
Salvador Dali's Garden Party

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies - I'm The Urban Spaceman (Dandelion Radio Session)

Those mysterious and elusive as pre-death Syd Barrett and Haley's Comet combined the Blue Giant Zeta Puppies are facing national exposure via Tom Robinson's 6 Music show, possible in the wee small hours later this evening, but certainly in the next week or two. Personally speaking, I feel it's high time Marc Riley had them in for a session.

When not orbiting the earth eradicating the detritus of 21st century pop culture, the group have been known to release the odd free download only ep or two. Stargazers can expect a vinyl release later in the year.

More interstellar transmissions can be imbibed @ their Facebook page.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Bogshed - Daddy Warbucks, Glasgow 29/6/1986

If you've read my Sparklehorse post, you may recall I was counting down the hours in a Preston hotel, eagerly awaiting the doors to open at The Continental to witness The Magic Band perform what turned out to be an astounding two sets.

As I was in the area, the following morning I decided to take advantage of a 55 minute train journey to make a long overdue pilgrimage to Hebden Bridge - home to flood-fearing folk, latterly establishing itself as the UK's lesbian capital, but in another lifetime of eons past, better known as the town that birthed Bogshed.

As you can see, I've even included a few snaps of my day (well, a couple of hours or so) there. And to think when I started this blog I fancied myself as a marginally more personable Hunter S. Thompson, who consumed nothing more nefarious than real ale, but intent on bringing dangerous and cutting edge sounds from the past back to life in the bland age of 21st century pop culture. Now it's become an anorak journal in homage to Jack Hargreave's About Britain. And even he was health-fearless enough to smoke a pipe everywhere he went.

It's been a while since we had a Bogshed live set here; once again all debts and gratitude go to Mr. Wazzer. As with the other Bogshed live sets, I think this has been made available only for the bit torrent-savvy.The original wav files that were sent to me were at a ruefully high pitch. Naturally, I exercised my pseudo-engineering skills and ajusted them individually to a correct-ish speed as befits my ears - and, hopefully, yours too.

The city of the venue was incorrectly listed as Edinburgh. After much extensive research (i.e. some chance googling)  the venue - also known as the Splash One club, where many a C86ster like Primal Scream and The Pastels cut their milk teeth - was in fact situated in Glasgow.

The year of the recording was given as 1985. However, the inclusion of Champion Love Shoes and Tried And Tested Public Speaker - songs that wouldn't be recorded until their third John Peel session in summer 1986, and released post-debut album - plus the absence of early unreleased songs like Wally Walla and The Amazing Roy North Penis Band which were still in the band's reportoire up until the end of that year, 1985 seemed unlikely. Without using stumbleupon, I stumbled upon a site that not only confirmed my suspicions that it was indeed 1986 that the gig took place, but also The Three Johns were the headlining act on the night.

Summer In My Lunchtime
Slave Girls
Oily Stack
Morning Sir
Adventure Of Dog
Champion Love Shoes
Fat Lad Exam Failure
Tried And Tested Public Speaker
Packed Lunch To School
Jobless Youngsters
Mechanical  Nun
Wild Thing
Hand Me Down Father/Sally

Note: I forgot to convert the files to mp3 and hadn't realised my mistake until after I'd uploaded them to Box. So it's plain old wma files - not that there's any really difference between the two there?