The Never Ending Playlist – #41

Eat Junk Become Junk – Six by Seven (2000, Mantra Records)

In 2015, fans of Six by Seven started a campaign to get ‘Eat Junk, Become Junk’ to Number One at Christmas.  It failed to make the Top 100.  The Christmas Number One that year by the way a NHS choir doing (in their words) ‘a mash up’ of Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon and Garfunkel and ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay.  It was for charity and whilst its hard to criticise the intent, and god bless the NHS because its brilliant, my god that sounds awful, and almost worth shutting the NHS down so that something so terrible cannot happen again.

As campaigns go, the one by the fans of Six by Seven it was pretty rubbish.  ‘Eat Junk, Become Junk’ did, if it matters get to Number One in the ‘Rock Download’ chart for Christmas 2015, which I would imagine the band would see as a success.  Although in reality, at number 3 in that download chart was ‘Every Rose Has A Thorn’ by Poison, which sold 12 downloads.  I might have imagined that.

‘Eat Junk Become Junk’ is a tremendous song, one that I would personally love to have seen in the Top 40.  It’s full of screeching guitars, pounding drums and sneering lyrics that take aim at commercialism and people being sheep as well as being rocks greatest and most angriest piece of nutritional advice.

Musically Six by Seven kind of crafted a noise that didn’t have a specific home.  Whilst they were very capable of making a record that was firmly embedded in the Britpop genre, they were on the whole way too angry for it.

Candlelight – Six by Seven (1998, Mantra Records)

They sort of sat in that gap between Britpop and post rock, the sort of bands who happily cited Sonic Youth as an influence.  They make the sort of songs that might get played on the radio once a week on a specialist show.

Another Love Song – Six by Seven (1998, Mantra Records)

Lost Indie Classics – #6

Every Beat of the Heart – The Railway Children (1990, Virgin Records)

When the 1970 film version of Edith Nisbett’s classic novel ‘The Railway Children’ was originally released, it received a X certificate in Belgium.  This was due to the film apparently encouraging children to trespass on railways, and a scene in which the pants of a 17 year old Jenny Agutter can (very) briefly be seen (the infamous red knickers scene).  Additionally, the Belgian film censor also remarked that the scene at the end when Jenny Agutter screams “Daddy, My Daddy” as a tall stranger emerges through the steam and smoke was ‘Far too emotional for children to handle”.   If you ask me for some reason, the Belgian Film Censor didn’t for some reason like Jenny Agutter.  Their reaction to her performance in 1971’s ‘Walkabout’ is not recorded. *

I remember finding ‘Every Beat of the Heart’ in a Maidstone record shop bargain bin where the twelve inches were 50p each.  Behind it was the debut single from Northside, which I also bought.

Shall We Take A Trip – Northside (1990, Factory Records)

The twelve inch of ‘Every Beat of the Heart’ came with a poster.  I have no idea where that record is now.  I have a feeling that it might have been donated to a Gillingham Charity Shop in the great unwanted record cull of 2012.

Until about ten minutes ago I thought this was the first record that I ever owned that was on Factory Records, but it turns out that I was wrong.  The Railway Children were signed to Factory Records in the late eighties but then left and sold their souls to Virgin Records.  The move from Factory to Virgin was actually quite a good one because it saw the band get a much bigger profile and saw ‘Every Beat of the Heart’ the first release from their second album ‘A Native Place’ go Top 30 in the UK and at the time of its release it was absolutely all over the radio, which is where I probably heard it first of all.

It’s pop perfection this, from that simple jangly guitar at the start, past the hook around 120 seconds in which chimes away wonderfully, right up to singer Gary Newby’s voice which is just outstanding.  It’s a joyous four minutes of very early nineties indie pop.  The sort of records that you could play at your nan’s whilst you ate strawberries from the garden, as you idly waited for Family Fortunes to start on Saturday evening.

Here’s two of the B Sides

Everybody – The Railway Children (1990, Virgin Records)

Give It Away – The Railway Children (1990. Virgin Records)

* None of this paragraph is true.  It is in fact a very niche joke that has been adapted from an episode of the Mary Whitehouse Experience.

It’s Monday – Let’s Swear #11

Yonkers – Tyler the Creator (2011, XL Records)

Before he was an outright star in his own right, Tyler the Creator was one of the driving forces behind the mysterious hip hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All – or OF as their mothers knew them (other members included Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt).  Their releases were at times, brilliantly left field, and at times uncompromisingly brutal. At one point, and I mean this seriously, their name alone brought them to the attention of the American Security Services, and they frequently saw their blend of horrorcore hip hop banned from venue to venue, causing their stock and notoriety to rise even more.

But all that controversy gets pushed to one side the moment Tyler the Creator went and sat in a hotel room and recorded the video for his all conquering single ‘Yonkers’. In that video, Tyler sits alone and raps frantically at the camera.  He then captures, kills, chews, swallows and vomits back up a cockroach.  His eyes turn black, he has a severe nosebleed and then hangs himself.  It’s a tough watch, but when it was released 100,000 people a day tuned in and it made Tyler the Creator one of the biggest rap stars on the planet. 

‘Yonkers’ the song is almost as unsettling as the video, it has this strange distorted clockwork noise running through it constantly, the sort of noise that you see in films depicting insanity.  Its bass heavy and lyrically its sinister, disturbing and at times downright threatening, particularly if you are Bruno Mars.  

‘Yonkers’ was taken from Tylers debut studio album, ‘Goblin’ and two other tracks were taken from it. He was 19 when it was released and its content (Along with content from an earlier mixtape, helpfully called ‘Bastard’) saw him banned from the UK for three years (a ban which was later overturned).

Sandwitches – Tyler the Creator (2011, XL Records)

She – Tyler the Creator (2011, XL Records) – which is even ruder than ‘Yonkers’ with its frequent dropping of the C-Bomb.

Unsurprisingly none of them trouble the charts, largely because no radio station in their right mind would touch them due to the content.

The Sunday Shuffle #25

Rematerialised – Death in Vegas (1997, Concrete Records)

The view from the top of the hill behind my house is amazing.  You can see the sea in one direction, the rolling expanse of Dartmoor in another and the entire valley that I live in from another.  I like to stand in a gateway to a farmers field and take it all in before taking a deep breath and heading off for a run.  As I stood in the gateway and watched the mist lifting over Lyme Bay, I pressed play on the iPod and the first song that greeted me was ‘Rematerialised’ by Death in Vegas.

‘Rematerialised’ features on the rather fine debut album ‘Dead Elvis’ by Death in Vegas.  It is a sweeping eight minute dub fest that rolls a phat old beat over some gently cascading strings and what sounds like a bassoon solo about half way through.  It’s a lovely song to start the day off, seriously chilled out. 

It’s the sort of sound that band took and multiplied by about twenty for their follow up album ‘The Contino Sessions’ (which was even better than ‘Dead Elvis).  That album saw the band move away slightly from big beats and dancehall influences and move into something that they probably would have described as more customer friendly.  They experimented with guest vocalists (Iggy Pop, Bobby Gillespie, Jim Reid), indie sounding guitars, softer beats, and a host of effects – the result was universal acclaim and a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize.  It really is a brilliant record and as I appear to have completely forgotten to include it on the ‘Nearly Perfect Album List’ we can have two of its many highlights right now.  The top one features the sublime vocals of Dot Allison from One Dove doing nothing more that sing “La, la la” over and over again but she makes it sound utterly wonderful.  The second one, is, and I say it without a second thought, easily Iggy Pop’s best contribution to music since around 1981.

Dirge – Death in Vegas (1999, Concrete Records)

Aisha –  Death in Vegas featuring Iggy Pop (1999, Concrete Records)

Nearly Perfect Albums – #23

Stone Roses – Stone Roses

It was my mate Jimmy who finally turned me on to the Stone Roses, we were walking back from the football, having seen relegation threatened Gillingham narrowly lose to three lucky goals from promotion chasing Stockport County.  A car stopped and asked us the way to the Ice Bowl and “She Bangs the Drums” blared out from inside it. I suppose that turned my head, because it’s a great song, but it was Jimmy who one hour later thrust his vinyl copy of the album into my paws with the warning that “he would remove my spleen with a fork if I scratched or damaged it in anyway”.

She Bangs the Drums – The Stone Roses (Silvertone Records, 1989)

Jimmy was a raver, he was heavily into his acid house, regularly went to large illegal parties in the middle of the woods or in abandoned warehouses held on isolated industrial estates, and I didn’t for a second think that ‘The Stone Roses’ would have been his thing at all.  Seconds before he handed me the album and delivered his frankly menacing warning, he told me that ‘The Stone Roses’ was the greatest rave record out there.  I was confused, but not for very long, in fact it took about fifty seconds of the epic rumbling bassline that opens ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ for me to realise that indie, rave, hooks and beats belong together. 

I Wanna Be Adored – The Stone Roses (1989, Silvertone Records)

Of course, when you sit back and look at this record with a clean pair of eyes, its easy to see its value and its influence on not only every half decent band that has followed but pretty much an entire generation.  A generation who needed brilliant insanely catchy songs about love, sex, ambition and one with the greatest guitar solos ever recorded – with the possible exception of THIS one.

But its not just the songs, it’s the way that Ian Brown’s vocals just work, it’s the way that John Squire’s guitar soars, and switch effortlessly and seamlessly with the grace of genius from the intricate sections to a full-blown assault, its way that Mani’s bass rumbles, twists, turns, atmospherically, it’s the way that Reni’s drums sound like they are being played inside out.  It’s the way that even thirty five years later, when I know the song back to front and sideways, ‘Made of Stone’ still make the hairs on my arm stand up and my spine go all shivery.  Like I said, seamlessly, effortlessly genius.

Made of Stone – The Stone Roses (1989, Silvertone Records)

About a week or so later, I gave the album back to Jimmy, I’d played it about six times a day, and made not one but two copies of it – in case I lost one or it got chewed up – we spent the rest of the afternoon lazing about in his dads lounge listening to it as loud as we could stand, which was quite loud as it happens, especially the last four minutes or so and with my spleen intact.

I Am The Resurrection – The Stone Roses (1989, Silvertone Records)

……ing bands #1

Men on the Menu – Flossing (2022, Brace Yourself Records)

Welcome to a new series.  A series in which every band or act featured will have a word that ends in ‘ing’ contained within their name.  It is really that simple.  I’ve made a playlist of 30 bands, and each time Alexa will pick one at random for us.  Some will be old, some, like this weeks offering will be a band so new that it is still wrapped in protective cellophane. This could also be New Band Friday #10, in case you were missing that series.  

Flossing are a brand new act that is pretty much the solo project of Heather Elle who was for a while the bassist from New York art rock post punkers Bodega.  I really like Bodega and therefore it stands to reason that any solo projects that spin off from it are bound to be ace. 

‘Men on the Menu’ is the first new material from band in 2022.  It follows the debut EP ‘Queen of the Mall’ which got a release at the end of last year.  ‘Men on the Menu’ is the damn near essential.  A song that viciously bares its teeth at misogyny, manipulation and men in general.  Its bloody excellent.  There is a list of things that annoy Elle, these include bands who are trying to be Sonic Youth, men with beer breath,  men who do yoga whilst listening to the Rolling Stones.   Believe me, if you are a man who does any of these things then you need to stop. 

Musically its all industrial beats, wonky bass and around halfway a terrific saxophone solo descends and the song veers angrily into a kind of dark psychedelia.   Although, it’s a rough kind of psychedelia where you are more likely to get your kneecaps smashed than find free love and strong drugs that make your TV screens go all swirly. 

‘Men on the Menu’ is the sort of song that sounds incredible when heard live in a dirty underground club at around 1am. 

Switch – Flossing (2021, Brace Yourself Records)

Major League Music – #4 – Detroit Tigers

Put Your Hands Up for Detroit – Fedde Le Grand (2006, Flamingo Records)

Whenever Detroit’s baseball team, The Tigers, win a home game, ‘Put Your Hands Up For Detroit’ is pumped out across the stadium in celebration.  A song by a Dutch DJ that heavily samples another song by a Texan born DJ and not one second of it was made anywhere near Detroit.  Although saying that it’s a proper banger and you can see why they would play it.

Sadly for fans of Detroit they were almost as bad as the Royals last season so the song didn’t get as many outings as it deserved.  It’s been nearly forty years since Detroit won the World Series and in all honesty it could be forty more until they do it again.  Last week the Tigers played the Royals three times and beat them twice.  Meaning that Kansas are already bottom of their five team division – but clearly it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Musically Its impossible to talk about Detroit without mentioning Motown.  The influential label founded by Berry Gordy Jr in the fifties and there are literally hundreds of records that I could choose from.  Between 1961 and 1971 over 100 records on the Motown Label went Top Ten in the UK and the US, including records by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes to name but a few but the first to get to number one was this.

Please Mr Postman – The Marvelettes (1961, Motown Records)

One last thing about Motown (although I genuinely might do an entire series on Motown Records later in the year) is that Berry Gordy Jr’s eighth and youngest child was responsible for this absolute monstrosity of a record, that sound you can hear at the end is Motown’s legacy hitching up its skirt and heading for the hills screaming.

Detroit isn’t just all about Motown Records, although that should be enough.  Its also home to Wayne Kramer and his jam kicking friends MC5, who pretty much invented garage rock and are of course most famous for this classic

Kick Out the Jams – MC5 (1969, Elektra Records)

More recently (and I accept that I am totally overlooking the Detroit Techno Boom) Detroit has spawned a host of excellent rockstars and rappers.  This chap for example

Godzilla – Eminem featuring Juice Wrld (2020, Interscope records) – which by the way boasts the world record for the fastest rapping ever.  In the third verse of this track, Eminem manages 300 words in 30 seconds.   Which is 295 more than I can rap in 30 seconds.

The Hotel Yorba can also be found in South West Detroit, I’m not sure if a hotel anymore but of course it was made famous by the current overlord of the Detroit music scene, Mr Jack White.

Hotel Yorba – The White Stripes (2001, XL Recordings)

And here is the previously unknown new (ish) band that I am selecting at random.  This week say hello to VVISIONSS – note the capitals folks, and according to the Internet they love cats, time travel and krautrock.   Which makes them sound pretty essential.  Although as usual, we will be judge of that. 

The River – VVISIONSS (2020, Self Released)

Next Week  –  Minnesota

The Never Ending Playlist #39

Rita Ora – Catholic Action (2016, Luv Luv Luv Records)

Catholic Action formed out of the ashes of a couple of Glasgow bands, one of whom was a band called Casual Sex, which to be honest would have limited their Internet audience considerably.   The legend goes that when Catholic Action released ‘Rita Ora’ to a slightly expectant crowd in 2016, they didn’t expect the actual Rita Ora to come out as a secret Catholic Action fan in front of her 6 million Twitter followers.  But that is what she did.   She tweeted ‘Best Song Ever’ and immediately sent several firewalls into a spin as teenagers in school computer rooms googled ‘Catholic Action’ at the same time.  Personally, I think they planned it.  I mean the free publicity it would have generated  alone is incredible.

Whilst we are the subject on songs written about famous females, when I was about 15 I wrote a short song, which I never recorded, but it definitely would have been the ‘Best Song Ever’ if I had.  It was all about Michaela Strachan from the Really Wild Show.  The chorus went

Oh Michaela, Michaela Strachan, you are so much better than Chris Pack-ham

I’m pretty sure that it would have got a daily mention on the Wide Awake Club had I recorded it.

Rita Ora is of course, not quite right, about the Catholic Action single that bears her name, it’s not the best song ever.  But it is very good in a Teenage Fanclub aping kind of way, and there is something quite satisfying about the chorus that just sings her name over random bursts of fuzzed up guitars.   I’m willing to bet that Rita hasn’t listened to a single note of any other Catholic Action records, she missing out if she hasn’t.  Here’s something from the bands second album which was released in 2020.

People Don’t Protest Enough – Catholic Action (2020, Modern Sky Records)

Give It Another Spin #4 – Ten – Pearl Jam

Even Flow – Pearl Jam (1991, Sony Records)

When I was 16 I got this album on CD from the nan of my girlfriend at the time.  It was a nice gesture bearing in mind I’d met the lady concerned only once and that was when I wandered into a kitchen with my top off to find her helping herself to some madeira cake.   It was awkward shall we say, I’m not she should have been eating that cake, given her diabetes.

Anyway, let’s fast forward twelve months or so.  In the spring of 1993, I swapped this album, which had been played precisely twice, for a 10” single by long lost crusty ragamuffins The Sea.  I swapped it with a girl I knew from college who had abandoned her love of squat rock bands like Back to the Planet and The Sea and like so many others embraced the grunge scene.  Even though The Sea were mostly terrible, I’ve never regretted it for a second.   I told the new owner that ‘Ten’ was awful derivative nonsense and it was about as punk rock as eating a bowl of cornflakes before 9am.

Yesterday I switched on the radio and ‘Even Flow’ filled my kitchen whilst I was making a cup of tea and before switching it off in disgust, I decided that it was time to give ‘Ten’ another spin.  I mean after all this is a record that some goon at Q Magazine once described as a “flawlessly crafted hard rock masterpiece, arguably the greatest rock debut of all time”.  Such gushing praise can’t be that wrong can it…

Erm…yes it can apparently.

Much was made at the time of the fact that Pearl Jam had a social conscious and how they tackled difficult topics such as homelessness (‘Even Flow’), and death (‘Alive’) but it just comes across as a bit fake – I appreciate it probably wasn’t meant to.  ‘Alive’ for instance is a cynical piece of work, the very sound that robbing teenagers of their hard-earned cash should make, an awful one with a wild haired banshee yelling in your face.  It has all the social consciousness of a human trafficker.  Oh and ‘Alive’ for those who don’t know is according to Eddie Vedder about a mother wanting to have sex with her own son because he looks like his dead father.  Apparently.

Alive – Pearl Jam (1991, Epic Records)

But, its not all bad.  ‘Once’ is a pretty decent song, when you get past the first forty seconds or so and if all of ‘Ten’ sounded as menacing and vengeful as that we wouldn’t be sitting here discussing the rest of it.  The same can be said of ‘Jeremy’, and given the subject matter, that is quite an achievement

Once – Pearl Jam (1991, Epic Records)

Jeremy – Pearl Jam (1991, Epic Records)

It’s Monday Let’s Swear #10

Mouthful of Shit – Chumbawamba (1992, One Little Indian Records)

When I was a student, every Wednesday evening for a couple of years I used to do a radio show.  It was a pretty small affair, only people who lived on campus or very close to the campus could tune in.  The audience figures were not great and at times I would have not been at all surprised if absolutely no one was listening.

Which is partly why I didn’t give two hoots as to what I played.  I ignored ‘playlists’ I didn’t switch to the news when I was supposed to, I didn’t play adverts and then log them in the book like I was supposed to, I hadn’t read the radio station rule book and I didn’t worry about upsetting people by playing songs with swearing in them.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the radio station one Wednesday with my housemate Johnny, both of us having had at least two bottles of very cheap wine (99p from Kwik Save) before going on air, to find two very angry looking people waiting for us.

They were the Station Manager – a position that before that very moment we had no idea even existed (if I read the station rule book…) and a lad called Ant, who was the student in charge of the radio station.  Apparently there has been some complaints about last weeks show said Ant.  I looked at him, amazed that anyone was listening let alone taking the time to complain.

The station manager is talking now.  He talks like he is on the radio, I imagine he has a poster of Gary Davies on his wall.  Anyway, he blares on about how last week we played a song by a band called Chumbawamba that was called ‘Mouthful of Shit’ and we had dedicated it to ‘The Government’.  Four people had taken offence at the repeated use of the word ‘shit’ in the song and a further person had complained about the ‘anti – government rhetoric that the station was promoting’.

I found myself smirking and thinking that I was some sort of revolutionary, bringing the establishment down one Chumbawamba song at a time.   I tried to look nonplussed and offered an excuse that our radio show positioned itself at the very front of cutting edge and that meant playing bands that didn’t like the government from time to time. 

Chumbawamba are not cutting edge said Mr Manager.  He then looks at me and reminds me that “all shows are recorded” and that “this was our one and only warning”.  I nodded my head and secretly reminded myself not to play the non radio version of that Method Man track that I had bought with me that night.

Release Yo’ Delf (Prodigy Mix) – Method Man (1995, Def Jam Recordings)