The Never Ending Playlist – Week #5

21. Hate to Say I Told You So – The Hives (2002, Poptones Records, Taken from ‘Your New Favourite Band’)

This was of course originally released in 2000 and only about sixteen people bought it.  It would have perhaps faded into rock history as one of the great lost 45s if it had not been for Alan McGee.  In late 2001 he saw the video for ‘Hate to Say I Told You So’ on German TV and decided to make them one of the first signings to his new Poptones Records Label (which he set up after the demise of Creation, and since the demise of Poptones, he has set the label It’s Creation, Baby).  The track was then re-released and six weeks later the band were on ‘Later…with Jools Holland’ and ‘Hate to Say I Told You So’ was everywhere and became their breakthrough hit as it flew into the Top 25.

Here’s the garage rock inspired B Side

Die, All Right – The Hives (2000, Burning Heart Records)

McGee, perhaps seeing dollar signs bundled up all the bands previous singles and stuck them on all a new compilation album ‘Your New Favourite Band’ which quickly rocketed into the UK Top Ten.  The joke, obviously being that The Hives were not, a ‘New’ (having released two albums previous to the compilation) or necessarily our ‘Favourite’ Band but they were very much of that age.  The Hives had an image, (the black and white suits) and quirky stage names – such as singer ‘Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, guitarist Nicholaus Arson and best of all bassist The Johan and Only and quickly gathered lazy and unfair comparisons with The Vines and The Strokes.

“Hate to Say I Told You So” was obviously amazing and their finest moment and even today some twenty years later it still sounds brilliant.  That churning guitar riff which perfectly accompanies Almqvists sandpaper rough vocals as he bellows out “Do I what I Please/Gonna Spread the disease” – which in todays society seems a little impolite.

As wonderful as ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ is, it wasn’t the bands biggest hit – that came courtesy of ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ the lead single from the bands follow up album ‘Tyrannosaurus Hives’ – which roared (see what I did there?) itself into the Top 15 and then much like the album that followed it, promptly vanished.

Walk Idiot Walk – The Hives (2004, Polydor Records)

The Sunday Shuffle #11

Abundant Living – Iceage (2015, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Plowing Into The Field of Love’)

Todays track comes courtesy of the iPod Classic, and it is taken from the excellent third album, ‘Plowing In the Field of Love’ by the brilliant Danish group Iceage.  This album was quite a leap for Iceage, their first two albums were raw, punky roars that were heavily influenced by bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi – this one in stark contrast has way more in common with say Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds or The Fall.  But it’s a good thing, because despite embracing pop music (to a degree at least) Iceage never sounded so chaotically fantastic.

‘Abundant Living’ is perhaps the standout moment from the album.  For starters it’s the only song that clocks in at under three minutes (where as on the first two albums, every song was less than three minutes).  It starts with this gloriously gleeful mandolin which sort of leads the band down into Gaelic punk cul de sac as the song turns into a jaunty ode to drinking in dive bars as the light fades outside.

Here’s another track from ‘Plowing Into the Field of Love’)

Stay – Iceage (2015, Matador Records)

Nearly Perfect Albums #9

Dogrel – Fontaines DC

In 2019, guitar music was dying.  In 2018 it had only just survived a ten round battle with the newly invigorated hip hop scene when it decided to try and keep pace in a sprint round the block with the new raft of Autotuned robotic pop princes and princesses the big hit factory around the block kept churning out one after another.   Another battle ensued, but this time the result was more definite, guitar music got its asses kicked.

And so in 2019, we find a slew of guitar bands, sitting in the gutter, with their heads in their hands, their jeans all torn, their noses bloody, their faces dirty and tear stained and their guitars smashed in the corners, and not because they were showing off on stage, this is because they didn’t need them anymore, you don’t play guitar whilst working in McDonalds.  The future looked bleak and guitar music was just about to crown Rag n Bone Man as its new leader when from over the hill, five men with a Fugazi obsession slowly wandered into view.  The reinforcements, it seemed had arrived……

‘Dogrel’ by Fontaines D.C arrived at exactly the right moment.  It swaggered into sight, their singer (one Grian Chatten) spouting lyrics about how he is ‘gonna be big’ with such a determined sneer not seen since Liam Gallagher first shadow boxed onto a stage and told everyone he was the Walrus.  In seconds the boys with their guitars nodded and believed him.

Big – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

Its not just the determination that stands out in this record, it’s the authenticity and the striking images that it paints in your mind. Take ‘Sha Sha Sha’ for instance – which despite being an almost too obvious ‘Town Called Malice’ rip off tells a wonderful story of that dark hour that takes place when the pub kicks you out – there is as Grian barks “always tears…”

Sha Sha Sha – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

Yes you get the indie anthems in the waiting, like the rousing call to arms of ‘Chequeless Reckless’ or the attention grabbing earworm-y wonder of ‘Hurricane Laughter’, tracks that most indie bands would wet the bed for just to have the chance to record.  But its those lyrically vivid songs that stand out on ‘Dogrel’ like the sentimental ‘Boys In The Better Land’ which takes aim at the Irish Tourist Board and the way that their city is portrayed.

Boys In The Better Land – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

However, we have to wait until the last track for this to really hammer itself home, in the brilliant album closer ‘Dublin City Sky’ a romantic old drinking tune, that is evocative and rich in its love for not just the city of Dublin, but its character past and present.  It’s a song that deliberately sounds like it belongs inside a busy Temple Bar Pub (or any other area of Dublin with a pub to be honest).  It’s a fantastic way to end a fantastically nearly perfect record.

Dublin City Sky – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

New Band Friday #3

Terrified – Penelope Isles (2021, Bella Union Records)

I’ll just remind you that this series is about celebrating bands/acts that are new to me. They could have released 27 albums for all I care, and I don’t care if you heard them first. Good.

Right…Penelope Isles are basically the brainchild of brother and sister Jack and Lily Wolter who moved to Brighton from the rock and roll mecca that is The Isle of Man. They make a kind of hazily, hypnotic kind of fuzzy guitar noise and are really rather excellent. ‘Terrified’ is the opening track of their just released second album ‘Which Way To Happy’ – which by the way might just be the album that we all forgot to include on our end of year run downs. The songs are tremendous, one minute you get walls of sounds crashing through your speakers and then it will all fade away into sweet pop melodies. Kind of like drinking gin laced with milk, it shouldn’t work but it really does.

Miss Moon – Penelope Isles (2021, Bella Union Records)

The Ramshackle Brilliance of the Chart Show Indie Chart #3

This week 17th August 1991 and at number seven

Sploosh! – Ozric Tentacles (1991, Dovetail Records)

In August 1991 my mate Chris and I went on a day trip to Broadstairs in Kent. There is nothing particularly exciting about Broadstairs in Kent, Charles Dickens wrote Bleak House there and I think the comedian Lou Sanders may come from there. None of these two things were the reason we went there. We went there because Chris had found out from somewhere that the Ozric Tentacles were playing a secret gig there in some run down theatre. The only song that I had ever heard by the Ozric Tentacles was ‘Sploosh!’ and I only went because it beat hanging around the Medway Towns for another afternoon.

Our plan was simple. Go down on the train around lunch time spend the afternoon on the beach pissing about, find the gig and catch the first train home in the morning. Literally nothing could go wrong.

Only, the rumour about the gig was bollocks. We found the theatre and it told us proudly that live at the theatre that night was something called “A Tribute to Cilla…”, which was almost certainly not the Ozric Tentacles. Yet we were still utterly convinced that this gig was going to happen. Particularly when Chris decided that the long haired bloke hanging around in the gardens behind the theatre was ‘one of the band’. Turns out he was just a drunk who hung around in the park behind the theatre.

We got suspicious when around eight pm old grannies started to turn up at the gig and not one of them was wearing anything tie dyed or looked like they had dropped some acid. By half eight we’d wasted about six hours moping around Broadstairs, spent all our money on rubbish chips and some ale that Chris managed to get some half drunk off licence owner to sell him and so we caught the train home.

At Faversham an old lady got off the train and as she stood up, a packet of marshmallow biscuit things fell out her bag and landed on the seat next to me and she never noticed as I slide my coat over them. Its not often that an illicitly gained packet of biscuits is the highlight of your day.

The rest of the chart show indie chart that week was in places pretty good, here are the edited highlights

At Ten – Indian Rope – The Charlatans (1991, Dead Dead Good Records)

A non mover at eight – Flying – The Telescopes (1991, Creation Records)

At four, spelt incorrectly but played nearly in full was ‘Run’ by Spiritualized but as I’ve already posted that song, let’s post the B Side. Incidentally the snippets about the band genuinely say that their hobbies are “Drinking, Whinging and Sleeping”. (the other song played was ‘Mind’ by The Farm, but its The Farm, and I’d rather punch myself repeatedly in the face than listen to that again).

I Want You – Spiritualized (1991, Dedicated Records)

At three, sadly going down the chart was

Move Any Mountain – The Shamen (1991, One Little Indian Record)

And at Number One….which was largely ignored because back then Mudhoney apparently didn’t do videos, was…

Let It Slide – Mudhoney (1991, Sub Pop Records)

Bands with a city in their Name #5

Do The Whirlwind – Architecture In Helsinki (2004, Moshi Moshi Records, taken from ‘In Case We Die’)

Judging by the picture above, Architecture In Helsinki could quite easily be a band that is comprised of individuals rejected for the role of Mr Tumble or some other brightly coloured children’s TV character. But if you thought that you would be wrong.

They are in fact an indie pop band from Fitzroy in Australia and apparently they stumbled across their name by cutting random words out of a newspaper and jumbling them up. So you might also think that they could be failed Blue Peter presenters.

Musically their sound can best be described as bubblegum indie pop but with a twist, the twist being that they are eclectic and well known for suddenly introducing different instruments into songs. ‘Do the Whirlwind’ was the bands first single and to perhaps highlight the random instrument thing, it contains that most indie pop of instruments, a sitar. If you want or need a musical comparison look perhaps at The Go! Team or maybe Animal Collective. ‘Do The Whirlwind’ was a massive success in the UK reaching as high as Number 168 in the charts.

‘Do the Whirlwind’ to this day remains the only song of theirs that I own, which considering they had a career which spanned 15 years and six or seven albums, is pretty poor on my behalf because its an excellent track.

The bands third single was also pretty good.

It’s 5 – Architecture in Helsinki (2005, Tailem Bend Records)

In Praise of the Band TShirt #3

Happy Busman – The Frank and Walters (1992, Go DIscs! Records, Taken from ‘Trains, Boats and Planes’)

I’m on a beach in Bermuda. I have been there a week, Bermuda, not the beach, this is my second weekend here. I have spent the morning feeding giant turtles and eating tremendous nachos in a small bar surrounded by Spaniards who are still, a week on, drunk, and celebrating their World Cup win.

In the afternoon I take a walk along a beach, its deserted once you get about fifty metres from the beach bar, I see no one for about an hour. I just walk, idly kicking sand about and enjoying my solitude. I probably have the iPod for company but I genuinely can’t remember what was playing so lets pretend it was this, although it definitely wasn’t. I see a couple walking towards me, hand in hand, they are undoubtedly English holidaymakers, as the lady is carrying a Waitrose carrier bag.

Another stand out tell tale sign that they are English is that the bloke is wearing a Frank and Walters T Shirt. This is the first Frank and Walters T Shirt I have seen in about fifteen years. What’s even more astonishing is that it is identical to one I had about 20 years earlier. I got mine for Christmas in 1991 and wore it one evening when my uncle was in town. He and my dad got pissed on whiskey and my uncle asked me about ten times, who Frank and Walter were, finding it funnier every time he asked.

This TShirt was blue and orange and on the back it read “Jonathan and Eko’, in homage to the DJs who hosted the legendary ‘Feet First’ club night in Camden many years ago. Anyone who went to a gig anywhere in London would be given a Feet First flyer the second they left the gig. You knew a band had made it, if their name featured on the ‘Now Playing….’ bit of those flyers.

I went to ‘Feet First’ a couple of times, the first time I went Credit to the Nation played (about a week before ‘Call It What You Want’ was released).

Call It What You Want – Credit to the Nation (1993, One Little Indian Records)

The second time was a very secret Suede gig to promote the release of ‘Stay Together’. So secret in fact that the queue to get into Feet First that night stretched back along Camden High Road so far that you had to walk to Chalk Farm to join the end of it.

Stay Together – Suede (1994, Nude Records)

‘Happy Busman’ was the second EP released by the Frank and Walters, it troubled the lower regions of the Uk Top 50. There were three other tracks on it. Songwhip has two of them.

Humphrey – Frank and Walters (1992, Go! Discs Records)

The World Carries On – Frank and Walters (1992, Go! Discs Records)

Music Found in Charity Shops #3

Loving You Too Long – Otis Redding (1965, Volt Records, Taken from ‘Otis Blue’)

Purchased from Childrens Hospice Shop, Teignmouth for £1.99

‘Otis Blue’ is third studio album released by Otis Redding and is considered by many (me included) to be his finest release. When you consider that the album contains mostly cover versions of others peoples songs, that is quite an achievement.

It does however begin with two originals, one which I thought was a cover, but isn’t and one that I knew Redding wrote. ‘Ole Man Trouble’ is the classic Redding staple, with a vocal that is wailed rather than sung, but you can hear the emotion in every word and I suppose that was the point back in 1965.

‘Respect’ is that ‘Respect’ – I had no idea that Redding wrote it. His version is fantastic as well, its proper funky. Although, lets be honest, as great as Otis’ version is, its not a patch on Aretha. Because, that is one of the greatest songs ever recorded obviously.

Ole Man Trouble – Otis Redding (1965, Volt Records)

Respect – Otis Redding (1965, Volt Records)

Respect – Aretha Franklin (1967, Atlantic Records)

You also get three songs, written by Sam Cooke, which were according to the Internet, recorded by Redding as a tribute to him,. Sam Cooke having been shot dead about about six weeks before Redding walked into the studio. The pick of these being the politically charged ‘Change Gonna Come’.

Change Gonna Come – Otis Redding (1965, Volt Records)

You get a few forgettable moments, we will for instance gloss over the version of ‘My Girl’ and the valiant effort Redding makes of ‘Satisfaction’ by the Rolling Stones, a song which was, I think about six months old at the time.

The finest moment on the album is obviously ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’. Which no matter how many times I listen to it, I still get blown away by sheer intensity of Reddings vocal, especially when you hear him virtually screaming “Baby” near the end.

The album ends with another belter, a marvellous rendition of William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water” which again ratchets up the intensity before fading away way too soon. Still a great track though.

You Don’t Miss Your Water – Otis Redding (1965, Volt Records, Taken from ‘Otis Blue’)

The Sunday Shuffle #10

In A State (DFA Mix)- UNKLE (2003, Mo’ Wax Records, Taken from ‘The DFA Remixes, Chapter 2’)

I find the supermarket quite a challenge. Not the shopping bit, but the people bit. You see whenever I turn up at the supermarket, it seems to be full of really stupid people. People who can’t walk and clap at the same time, or people who struggle, really struggle with the concept of a how a trolley works and think that just randomly stopping in the middle of the tinned vegetable area is sensible.

So these days when I go to the supermarket, I try and listen to something to drown out the inane chatter between Sandra and Alan about the price of ‘canned hotdogs’ or whether Bernice from the fish counter has fixed her microwave.

Today’s Sunday Shuffle was decided by whatever track was playing when the first item from my trolley was scanned through the checkout, as it happens it was four minutes into the rather glorious DFA Mix of UNKLE’s ‘In A State’.

The mix is kind of wonderful, where the DFA take a section of 10cc’s ‘I’m Not In Love’ and building it ever so gently into a breathlessly dramatic masterpiece.

Of course the DFA have form for this kind of thing (remixes of epic proportions).

Slide In (DFA Mix) – Goldfrapp (2005, Mute Records)

Dare (DFA Mix) – Gorillaz (2005, Parlophone Records)

Nearly Perfect Albums #8

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space – Spiritualized

I Think I’m Love – Spiritualized (1997, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space’)

Now, I rather deliberately left two important things out when I was explaining how this series was going to work.  What I have done is made a huge list of albums that I consider to be ‘nearly perfect’ and then selected one track from all of them put them into a ‘nearly perfect’ playlist and each week an album is selected by shuffling the playlist.  The second thing I deliberately left out was the eight albums that don’t qualify because they are too perfect to be considered ‘nearly perfect’.  One of those eight albums is by Spiritualized. 

So folks, here we have a record, which despite being ‘nearly perfect’ (and it is so close to being perfect – if ‘Cop Shoot Cop was perhaps 90 seconds shorter…) isn’t even the best record released by Spiritualized.  That readers, is how utterly insanely brilliant Spiritualized are.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Area Floating In Space’ is obviously a masterpiece, an epic combination of psychedelic rock, gospel, drone effects, jazz, ambience and horn blaring wave your arms in the air total brilliance.   It takes you an audio journey through the highs (prescriptive mainly) and lows (and there are several of those) of Jason Pierce’s life at the time.  It has moments on it that will take your breath away, like the sheer jaw dropping brilliance of ‘Cop Shoot Cop’ or the ways that ‘Cool Waves’ shimmers so majestically.  Or the way that ‘Electricity’ crackles into life before manifesting itself into a garage rock stomper and the way that it still makes the hairs on my arm stand up, every time I hear it.

Electricity – Spiritualized (1997, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’)

Let’s cut to the chase, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating Space’ is the probably the greatest break up album ever written, even though Jason Pierce will swear blindly that it isn’t a break up album.  Nearly all the songs were written after his painful split from Kate Radley (the legend goes that Pierce only found out about their relationship breakdown after Radley had secretly married her new lover, Richard Ashcroft), an act which saw Pierce moved from a recreational drug user to a fully blown addict and its that sinking feeling and heartache that is dealt with so vividly on the record.   If you need an example listen to ‘Broken Heart’, there is no song on earth that deals with the raw unbridled pain of heartbreak in such beautiful agony as ‘Broken Heart’ does.

Broken Heart – Spiritualized (1997, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’)