A Month all about Names – #20 – Alice

Alice in Vain – Sleeper (1995, Indolent Records, Taken from ‘Smart’)

When I was eight I spent 24 hours in a huge house on the edge of Primrose Hill in London.  This house was owned by a lady called Alice.  She was the mother of my Aunt and we were there because Alice had just married for the third time to a seven foot Canadian called Edwin.  Edwin was a retired Mountie and had met Alice at Heathrow Airport when they got talking whilst waiting for friends to land on a flight from Vancouver.  The story goes that both of them were so engrossed in each other company in the arrivals area that neither spotted the people that they were waiting for to arrive.  Six months later they were about to be married. 

The first time I met Edwin was rubbing my shin because a blonde haired freak of a child called Richard (a sort of second or third cousin I think) had just kicked me there.  Edwin shook me firmly by the hand, almost breaking it in the process and said “Damn ain’t your hair curly”. Which it was.   Nearly every sentence that Edwin said started with “Damn”.  He got married wearing his old Mountie Uniform and had duck to get in every room he entered. 

The first time I met Alice I was five and she made me stand in her lounge and sing along to ‘Do Rae Mi’, whilst she plinked away on the piano. I didn’t know the words and I remember crying and running to my nan as Alice barked at me “No its Far, a long long way to gooooo”, as my brother laughed at me (he having pretended to have a sore throat to get him out of the singing). 

Do Rae Mi – Julie Andrews (1965, RCA Records, Taken from ‘The Sound of Music Soundtrack’)

My Nan didn’t like Alice and proudly declared at the dinner time about three hours after the wedding and around halfway through her second large glass of ‘fizzy wine’ that she’d give the marriage about a year.  Before adding slyly that even that would be longer than her second one.   At this point my grandad decided to go outside to smoke cigars with Edwin and my uncle.

According to Alice’s daughter (my aunt), her second wedding lasted about three months.  She married an Italian guy in the seventies who failed to tell her that he was linked to a violent criminal organisation.  Around six weeks after the marriage, the police arrested him for extortion, larceny and a bit of brutality and she literally never saw him again.  Luckily for Alice, the Italian guy signed over half his house to her and as he no longer needed it and when the divorce came through, she got to keep the entire rambling pad on the edge of Primrose Hill.

There are a few songs in the music library with Alice in the title. Let’s start with some genius post punk from Canada (Damn, it’s what Edwin would have wanted)

Alice – Ought (2018, Merge Records, Taken from ‘Room Inside the World’) – If you are not familiar with Ought I strongly recommended their entire back catalogue to you all.  Next up, something from late eighties Jesus and Mary Chain, which is never a bad place to be.

Here Comes Alice – Jesus and Mary Chain (1989, Warner Records, Taken from ‘Automatic’)

Next, some gloomy old Goth from the Sisters of Mercy and a track I inherited on 12” when my brother abandoned Goth after being dumped by the Sussex version of Patricia Morrison.  I think I may have played it once.

Alice – Sisters of Mercy (1982, Merciful Release Records, Single)

Finally for today and this entire series, we end with Liz Fraser’s ethereal whispering.

Alice – Cocteau Twins (1996, Capitol Records, Taken from ‘Stealing Beauty OST’)

Tomorrow – Something completely different.

A Month all about Names – #19 – Jason

Jason – Perfume Genius (2020, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Set My Heart on Fire Immediately’)

The first time I ever got drunk, properly roaringly, rolling drunk I was sat on some swings with my best mate Jason.  We were both fifteen.  We decided to go and get drunk because Jason had just been told by his parents that he was adopted.  They told him as he walked up the steps to board a plane to the Canary Islands.  When he got back he turned up at my house at four in the evening and the plan was hatched.

We made a call to Bill, one of the Indian Brothers that ran ‘things’ in the local area and asked him to get us a few litres of sweet cider.  Bill didn’t need much persuading and told to pop up to the shop in thirty minutes.  Which we did of course.  Bill didn’t get sweet cider, he handed over (for the princely sum of five quid) three bottles of Merrydown Cider – a strong cider favoured by tramps, lushes, and people who think that a Wetherspoons Sunday Roast is a good meal.

We stashed the cider in a box in my dads garage and decided to go to the local park and get hammered around eight pm.  For the next three hours we watched a film (Which if I recall things correctly was my brothers bootleg copy of ‘A Clockwork Orange’) and talked bollocks about girls at school, football and music (I was trying to convince Jason to listen to something other than Queen, Erasure and Talk Talk). 

Sauntry Sly Chic – Campag Velocet (1999, Play It Again Sam Records, Taken from ‘Bon Chic, Bon Genre’)

At eight pm we told my dad we were going to the park and left the house before he could question why.  We lifted the garage door just enough so that I could roll underneath it and stealthily pass the cider back to Jason who quickly stowed it in his backpack and off we went.

By about ten past nine we were both roaringly drunk, having downed a bottle of Merrydown each in about ten minutes, as we got more drunk, the more confident we decided we were.  At twenty past nine we followed a group of people who looked like they were off to a party.  A party which we didn’t get into because we were a couple of drunk fifteen year olds and the people we followed were about thirty five. 

Eventually we ended up outside the chip shop (a chip shop that I should have on reflection have mentioned under ‘Elvis’ because the owner, an Indian chap named Sanjay, once declared that the ghost of Elvis had walked into his chip shop and ordered a burger and fries from him – it made the national press – although of course he may just have been listening to this on the radio).

There is a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis – Kirsty MacColl (1981, Polydor Records, Taken from ‘Desperate Character’)

Or just smoking the drugs that Bill probably didn’t sell him, anyway, we ended up outside the chippy, both us of puking in handily placed bins.

I don’t have any other songs in my library that have ‘Jason’ in the title but a quick look on the Internet provides us with this bouncy Britrock blast from the past.

Jason – Terrorvision (1993, Total Vegas Recordings, Taken from ‘Formaldehyde’)

The wonderful Perfume Genius has a few other tracks that feature names in the title, here is one from his nearly perfume album ‘No Shape’.

Alan – Perfume Genius (2017, Matador Records, Taken from ‘No Shape’)

Tomorrow, this series draws to a close, with Alice, who ain’t got a boyfriend.

League Two Music #15 – Newport County

As we speak Gillingham are continuing their meteoric rise up League Two (one defeat in seven) towards safety.  There is an air of quietly confident optimism surrounding the team.  An air which before was tainted by hatred and bitterness from all sides.  One of the teams that have shimmered into sight as the Gills rise up the table is Newport County, a team who rose, then collapsed and then rose again and here to talk about them and Newport in general is exiled Devonian and honorary Welshman, The Robster.  This folks, is excellent and the music selection is second to none.   Thanks Rob.

Languishing in the bottom half of League Two is lowly Newport County. For some reason, The Exiles just cannot put a string of favourable results together this season and as a result, they’ve put themselves in danger of relegation, a situation they haven’t found themselves in for a few years.

It’s the latest chapter in the colourful history of Newport County, the second most popular sports team in the city (the first being the Gwent Dragons rugby team). Formed in 1912, the club started out in the old Southern League but became mainstays of the Football League Third Division South between 1920 and 1939 when they were finally promoted to the second tier. WWII interrupted their maiden Division 2 season, and on recommencing post-war, they were promptly relegated.

A further relegation followed in 1963 to Division Four where they remained until promotion in 1980. Their team that year included a young John Aldridge (who would later become a league title winner with Liverpool) and legendary lower-league striker Tommy Tynan (who later would become a legend at Plymouth Argyle – SWC). Both would be with the club during their most successful period. County won the Welsh Cup in 1981 which qualified them for the following season’s European Cup-Winners Cup. They made it to the quarter-finals where they met Carl Zeiss Jena F.C. of East Germany, drawing 2-2 in Jena before narrowly losing the home leg 1-0.

Sadly, it all came crashing down before the decade was over. County were relegated in 1986, and a second-successive relegation followed in 1987. They were now a non-league team and they never recovered. Financial mismanagement at the hands of their American owner Jerry Sherman led to the club being unable to fulfil their fixtures, being expelled from the Football Conference and ultimately folding in 1989.

From the ashes, a group of supporters reformed the club later that year. Being appointed to the Hellenic League, they were forced to play their home games in Gloucestershire over the border in England as Newport Council, who owned the team’s previous ground Somerton Park, refused to allow them back owing to the old club’s unpaid debts. Promotion to the Southern League followed, a return to their homeland at the newly built Newport Stadium in 1994, and a High Court ruling in their favour which prevented them from having to play in the newly reformed Welsh National League, meant Newport County were on their way back up. Their ascent was completed when they were promoted back to the Football League’s fourth tier in 2013.  Since then they forced an FA Cup replay against the mighty Tottenham in 2018, beat Leicester City in 2019, also in the FA Cup, and came close to promotion to League One (as well as also narrowly avoiding relegation again in 2017). Mike Flynn, manager and local hero, masterminded those giant-killing exploits, but lost his job at the helm after County’s dismal start to the 2022-23 season. Now managed by Graham Coughlin, they haven’t improved that much…

Newport’s music scene has also fluctuated, but it has its fair share of VIPs.  One of our best known sons is the legendary Jon Langford of Mekons and Three Johns fame. Now based in Chicago, his latest project has been an annual release of triple 7” singles with various collaborators.

Down from Dover – Jon Langford  (from ‘Songs of False Hopes & High Values’)

Benji Webbe is one of Newport’s biggest characters. My eldest daughter can testify to that as she got to know him through the gym she worked at. He is the frontman of globally-famous ragga-metal band Skindred, but SWC has specifically requested something by his former band Dub War, which to be fair, is a very good call.

Murder – Dub War (from ‘The Dub, The War & The Ugly’, 1993)

Some bands from the Newport area also became rather huge. The Darling Buds, from the neighbouring old Roman city of Caerleon, found themselves a part of the so-called ‘blonde scene’ alongside the Primitives and Transvision Vamp.

Burst – The Darling Buds (from ‘Pop Said…’, 1988)

While just up the valley, four make-up wearing upstarts crossed the Sex Pistols with Guns ‘n’ Roses and caused a storm. Well, several storms, actually.

Motorcycle Emptiness – Manic Street Preachers (from ‘Generation Terrorists’, 1992)

Of course, the 90s was a huge time for British music, Welsh music particularly, and even more so in Newport in which the Cool Cymru scene centred around the great TJs (now sadly no more). 60 Foot Dolls cut their teeth there.

Stay – 60 Foot Dolls (from ‘The Big 3’, 1996)

The scene also thrust the likes of Feeder, Novocaine and Flyscreen in our general direction. In fact, it’s here we can link back to our football team:

Carl Zeiss Jena – Flyscreen (from the ‘Size Five Leather’ EP, 1996)

But it’s not all loud rock & roll. Rap music’s greatest pioneers also hail from Newport, and are still going strong and have a unique link to Newport County AFC themselves:

(This link will take you to a video of Goldie Lookin’ Chain and Newport County launching the team’s new third kit inspired by the GLC themselves)

Hurtling back to the present… Bug Club don’t hail from the city of Newport itself, but are from the wider Newport county region, or the town of Caldicot and the neighbouring village of Magor to be precise. Everyone I spoke to about bands to include in this piece mentioned Bug Club. You may well have encountered them if you’re a 6 Music listener – I know Marc Riley is a fan. If not, well think what might happen if the Velvet Underground held a party and invited the likes of Steven Malkmus, J Mascis and Kim Deal. A lot of fun would be had, nearly as much fun as listening to Bug Club’s debut album ‘Green Dream In F#’ which came out a few months ago. To my shame, I never latched on in time to include in my 22 In ’22 rundown. Had I been a bit more on the ball, ‘Green Dream In F#’ would definitely have been on that list. They’ve released a couple EPs and singles prior to the album, but here’s the brilliant opening track from the LP.

Only In Love – Bug Club (from ‘Green Dream In F#’, 2022)

It’s amazing really how many rock heroes have links with The’Port. Donna Matthews of Elastica is from Newport. The guy who plays keyboards live with Saint Etienne is from Newport. And a bloke who was once in Bush is from Newport. Impressive, eh? And let’s not forget the cover of the Stone Roses single Love Spreads depicts a cherub on Newport’s Town Bridge (true).

I also ought to mention a certain fella called Joe Strummer. Heard of him? Back in the early 70s, this unruly ragamuffin worked as a gravedigger at St Woolos. He formed a band here and played his first ever gig at a long-gone place on Stow Hill. Apparently he became quite famous when he moved back to London. One of his mates at the time went on to have a son who is not only called Joe but has a band of his own called Idles. You may have heard of them too…

As is customary in this series, we finish with a band you (probably) won’t have heard of before but might do soon. The Nightmares make what they term “noir pop” and sound like they are influenced by their parents’ collections of 80s records. They’ve so far released a 6-track EP and a couple of singles, but their debut album is due this year.

The Falling Dream – The Nightmares (single, 2020)

(This link takes you to a news story all about Joe Strummer and it’s a cracking read)

. https://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/joe-strummer-newport-clash-idles-24769677

Told you it was excellent – Next Week Tranmere Rovers

Nearly Perfect Albums – #52

Painted Shut – Hop Along

Waitress – Hop Along (2015, Saddle Creek Records)

Frances Quinlan, the singer of the currently on hiatus, Hop Along, has an incredible voice.  I have probably said that on here before, but it is the sort of voice that you simply cannot ignore.   At times Quinlan’s voice is raspy sort of growl that rattles your speakers with its fury and then on other occasions it soars with a sort of high school innocence.  It’ never dull and nothing less than unique.  It is unquestionably the main reason why Hop Along remain so utterly engaging whenever I listen to them.   

The band released three albums, before going on their hiatus (in reality Quinlan has released a solo album with at least one other member of the band, so the future doesn’t look promising for the rest of them), and ‘Painted Shut’ is the middle one of them and it’s outstanding (easily one of the best ten releases of the last decade).

Of course, Hop Along aren’t just about the voice (although it is so difficult to ignore) of Frances Quinlan, they are also about songs that weave storytelling into them so that the songs paint a picture.  They are also a band who know how to dish out a guitar riff.  These riffs often melt away as Frances’ vocals yowl away over the top of them, but some of them like the one on ‘Waitress’ spiral out of control marvellously as Quinlan’s yowls away behind it.

Lyrically ‘Painted Shut’ is at times a scathing sort of record, there is no skirting over dodgy issues, everything is out in the open, there are songs about hating a partner’s new girlfriend, mental health, love and death amongst other things.  It’s never bleak though, and it’s entirely relatable.

Musically, ‘Painted Shut’ straddles two genres mainly.  At times this is a folk record that has been made by a punk band who have listened to too many Stooges records.  

Horseshoe Crabs – Hop Along (2015, Saddle Creek Records)

Then again at times it is a punk record that has been made by a band who have listened to too many Cat Stevens records.  ‘Happy to See Me’ for example, is on the surface, a straight up optimistic love song with lyrics like “People of the world, nobody loves you half as much as I am trying to”.  Around three minutes voice you can even hear Quinlan’s voice crack under the emotion of it all.  The guitar then suddenly cranks up to eleven and take the song in an entirely different direction.  It’s an amazing track.

Happy to See Me – Hop Along (2015, Saddle Creek Records)

There are tracks with kind of hint at a more pop orientated future, but even these has a dark edge.  The brilliant ‘Powerful Man’ which is probably the most ‘pop’ moment on the album tackles abusive situations and has a deep (and unsettling) sense of regret running through it.  At one point Quinlan screeches “I just thought he looked like a powerful man” and then a guitar soars and drums crash all over it.

Powerful Man – Hop Along (2015, Saddle Creek Records)

 ‘Painted Shut’ end with the excellent ‘Sister Cities’ which after a more refrained start eventually descends as all nearly perfect albums do into a crescendo of raging guitars, and angry yelping

Sister Cities – Hop Along (2015, Saddle Creek Records)

A Month all about Names – #18 – Johnny

Johnny Borrell Afterlife – Future of the Left (2013, Prescriptions Records, Taken from ‘How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident’)

For years I delivered newspapers to a street of relatively big houses about half an hour’s walk from my dads house.   Every day I would lug my bag up the hill and traipse down driveways to deliver these papers.  Nearly all of the houses were fans of the right wing press, I delivered more Daily Mails and Telegraphs along that road than any other street.  Most of the people on that road were Tory voting scum suckers who never gave you a tip at Christmas and moaned at you if dismantled their Sunday Times so that you could get in through their ridiculously tiny letterboxes.  Some would then moan if you left the paper on the doorstep – because you got bollocked for dismantling the paper last week.  So you were left in this limbo as to how they actually would like their paper delivered.

I hated every house in that street.  Apart from number 50. 

Number 50 belonged to the family who read the Guardian during the week and the Observer on a Sunday and on a Wednesday, they took the NME as well.  They also gave me a fiver every Christmas as well.  They also had a box to put the papers in, because they realised that they didn’t fit in the letterboxes.  I always wanted to shake the owners of number 50 by the hand.

About a year after I stopped delivering newspapers I started college and gradually I built up a group of friends who I would see every day on the train, one of these was Johnny.  Johnny is sort of mate everyone has, the sort of mate who doesn’t care if he is the only person dancing at a nightclub, he loves this song and he’’ll damn well dance to it if he wants to.  The sort of mate who will come and get you from a night out if you need a lift and have lost your train ticket or missed your train because you were in the woods with some girl and lost track of time.  The sort of mate who will send you a bottle of grog through the post in your first week at university, just in case you needed it.

The second time I meet Johnny we walked back from the train station together, and we got talking about where we lived and all that – and Johnny told me he lived on that street with all the big houses.  I sighed inwardly.  I told him I used to deliver papers up that road, to which replied, “Did you deliver to number 50?”.  Because that was where his parents lived.

‘Johnny Borrell Afterlife’ is taken from the fourth studio by Cardiff’s Future of the Left.  You will all probably be aware that two of Future of the Left used to be in the vastly influential indie punk band McLusky before their demise.  The twist in this tale is that Future of the Left are now seemingly on an indefinite hiatus and McLusky appear to be back.   Either way anything involving Andy Falkous is usually a good thing so I probably doesn’t matter.

There are a few Johnny songs in the old music library, here are three of them. 

Goodbye Johnny – Primal Scream (2013, Ignition Records, Taken from ‘More Light’) – ‘Goodbye Johnny’ isn’t actually a Primal Scream song at all but a version of a song written by Jeffery Lee Pierce from Gun Club.  It features on Primal Scream’s tenth album ‘More Light’ which I will say is the last decent album that they band recorded, but I am stretching the definition of ‘decent’ a little bit.

Johnny Bagga Donuts  – Palma Violets (2013, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ‘180’) – Palma Violets were back in 2012, hailed as the great hopes of indie rock and their debut album ‘180’ caused quite a splash.  Sadly every record they released after ‘180’ has been a bit duff. 

Finally from Violet to Violent and a live song from a Violent Femmes compilation album that I found in a charity shop just in Truro.

Johnny (Live) – Violent Femmes (1993, Slash Records, Taken from ‘Add It Up’)

On Monday – Jason – whose listening to Breeders on CD

A Month all about Names – #17 – Bobby

Bobby Brown – The Soft Pack (2012, Mexican Summer Records, Taken from ‘Strapped’)

When San Diego’s the Soft Pack started out in life they were called The Muslims.  Under that name the band built up quite a decent reputation on the live circuit, and gained quite a fanbase by being very active on fledging social media platforms such as MySpace – where they would regularly make their songs available to download for free.

The use of social media was almost their downfall.  A name like the Muslims, created some bad feeling and the band were plagued by what they called ‘ignorant and racist comments’ and as such were forced to change their name.  This also mean withdrawing an EP from sale ‘The Muslim EP’ and shelving some touring.   I get the ignorant and racist comments, I can fully see that happening – but let’s be honest here, calling yourself The Muslims, was pretty dumb.

Especially when the lead track from your debut EP was called ‘Parasites’ (although it is an excellent slab of spiky west coast indie rock)

Parasites – The Soft Pack (2009, Kemado Records, This version taken from ‘The Soft Pack’)

However, it seemed the Soft Pack kind of had some previous in the stupid name category.   Back in 2001, members of the Soft Pack and members of a band that are now called Crocodiles (who are also excellent and regularly get posted on these pages) were in a noise punk band called The Plot of Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, who courted controversy, by deliberately using memorabilia that was similar (but clearly different – and the band were quick and happy to clarify it) to that used by some members of the Third Reich.  Their lives shows were also confrontational and saw them banned from Baltimore for causing (in their words) “A Piss Waterfall” and in Salt Lake City for inciting a ‘near riot’.   The band were big fans of the Dead Kennedys, which might explain some of it.

When in 2006, the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower disbanded, some members went on to form Crocodiles, and others formed the Muslims. 

The Muslims stopped recorded in 2009 and after a very short break, a new band featuring the same members emerged, that band was called the Soft Pack, which is a slang word for a fake penis, although the band say they are named after a type of cigarette packet.

Their debut album was a tremendous blast of indie rock, full of short sharp songs, frantic guitars and huge earworm-y choruses, that were reminiscent of the early days of Weezer or dare I say it, The Strokes.

Flammable – The Soft Pack (2009, Kemado Records, Taken from ‘The Soft Pack’)

In 2012, the band released their second album, called ‘Strapped’, which has so far turned out to be their last record.  Their singer Matt Larkin released a lo fi solo album in 2016 and no new music has emerged since the end of 2012.

There are a few Bobby songs in the music library, here are just three.

Bobby’s Song – The Aliens (2008, Pet Rock Records, Taken from ‘Luna’) –which is a loopy, slightly trippy ten minute acid rock romp from former members of the Beta Band and therefore something you should all absolutely love

Bobby – Alex G (2015, Domino Records, Taken from ‘Rocket’) – ‘Bobby’ was the first single taken from the seventh album by Pennsylvania based prolific singer/songwriter Alex G.

And finally for today, a track from an album that the NME called ‘The Best Album In the Entire World’ – which in all honesty, it probably isn’t.

Bobby – Wolf Alice (2021, Dirty Hit Records, Taken from ‘Blue Weekend’)

Tomorrow – Johnny, whose gonna show you how its done.

A Month all about Names – #16 – Julie

Julie – The Levellers (1993, China Records, Taken from ‘Levellers’)

There is a very old Alexi Sayle joke about Stoke Newington.  It goes something like this (although he will tell it better than I ever will, because he is funny and I am not), Alexi is on tour and he finds himself playing a small comedy club in Stoke Newington (which is in London for those of you who live in Boondocks).  He arrives a few hours before the gig and decides to take a walk around the area and take in some of its sights, this he says takes three minutes.  He finds a small tourist kiosk but it is shut but it does has a small glossily printed brochure entitled” What’s On in Stoke Newington” in a box on the windowsill.  Alexi pockets a brochure and decides to go and grab a drink and read the brochure – he then talks about needing a shit anyway.  He gets to the pub orders a Guinness and open the brochure at page one and tell us that all it says on every page of “What’s On In Stoke Newington” is the words “Fuck All”.

Like I said, an old joke, but when Alexi does it in his broad scouse manner it is brilliant.  In 1994 I found myself in Stoke Newington for the day, it was the one day in the year where there was something more than fuck all going on.  It was the day of the Stoke Newington Free Festival and a bunch of bands were playing (Shelter the homeless charity had persuaded a bunch of bands to turn up) and I was going to review for a small record shop sponsored fanzine that I was writing for at the time. 

The line up was quite eclectic, a mixture of small indie bands, new or emerging singers, some dub and reggae acts and a band labelled as ‘Secret Guests’.  The writing for the words “Secret Guests” was exactly the same font and style as the writing on the most recent Levellers album ‘Levellers’.  So it wasn’t that much of a secret and as such the Stoke Newington Free Festival was over run with Crusties and their dogs on strings.   At the time The Levellers were huge and could very easily sell out Brixton Academy and charge fifteen quid for a ticket so them playing a free festival was quite cool

The Levellers came on around three pm about midway on the line up (perennial festival favourites Chumbawamba were headlining by the way with Banco Da Gaia and Zion Train also on the bill) – oh go on then –

Last Train to Lhasa – Banco Da Gaia (1995, Mammoth Records, Taken from ‘Last Train to Lhasa’)

The Levellers were great but for some reason only known to them, at the end of their set they decided to totally kill the vibe.  There we all were expecting a rousing version of ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ or a venom filled version of ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’ but no.  The entire band with the exception of singer Mark Chadwick left the stage and Mark stood there with just his guitar and played the song ‘Julie’ which I think they had just released as a single.  Its not your typical Levellers track, it’s slow and it’s a sort of lopsided love song and it ends with a substantial bagpipe solo and as Mark finished wailing about Julie’s troubles, a man with a set of bagpipes wanders on to do the solo bit, Mark leaves the stage and that it is appears was that.  

It was very underwhelming and it reminded me instantly for some reason of Alexi’s joke.

There are three other ‘Julie’ tracks in music library and we start with another track from rocks greatest Stephen (do keep up we had this debate when we discussed Jack).

Juliefuckingette – Stephen Malkmus (2020, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Traditional Techniques’)

Next up a track I only own because it featured on a free CD that I found in a charity shop in St Neots about a year ago, although it is pretty good as it happens.

Julie – Francois and the Atlas Mountains (2021, Domino Records, Taken from ‘Banane Bleue’)

Finally some good old fashioned indie rock.

Julie’s Place – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (2017, Sub Pop Records, Taken from ‘The French Press’)

Tomorrow – Bobby who is in a busted flat in Baton Rouge waiting for a train

This Charming Twang – A No Badger Required Live Review

Colour TV/Enabling Behaviour – The Junction, Plymouth Feb 17th 2023

Ah, this all feels like the start of something very special” chirrups Colour TV’s singer Sam Durneen from the stage about halfway through what they are calling their ‘Homecoming Show’ at The Junction in Plymouth. The Junction is a frankly tiny venue that in about six months Colour TV will be way too popular to be anywhere near.  If I was the town planner for Liskeard I would be building a purpose built venue to house future Colour TV Homecoming Shows because, you might need one.

Another band that seem to be destined to be playing bigger and better venues is Falmouth’s Enabling Behaviour (who add yet more evidence to the growing belief that there really is something occurring down in Cornwall, musically speaking at least).   The band are an exciting prospect, they play a type of post punk heavily steeped in a swirl of feedback and a sideways nod to shoegaze and on at least one occasion when guitarist Will takes the mike, Yard Act (although that is quite a lazy comparison, its late and I’m too tired to think of anything different – it’s doesn’t matter because it’s great regardless)  Their singer, (who I think is called Liz, but apologies if I have that wrong) effortlessly switches from guitars duties to bopping around on the stage mike in hand.  She sounds like Sonya Madam from Echobelly (ask your parents, kids) but on stage she looks exactly like what Karen O would have looked like if she recreated Joan of Arc’s fitness class in Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure and that my friends is a very good thing indeed. 

Big Kill – Enabling Behaviour (2022, self-released, taken from ‘Vaguely Content EP’)

Talking of a very good thing, let’s get back to Colour TV who in the year since I last saw them are almost unrecognisable from the upstarts who wowed me in a converted barn in Totnes. Yes the songs are mostly still the same (although they have a new track called ‘Birds of A Feather’ that will soundtrack about a thousand teenage break ups once it gets a release), but they sound bigger, they sound beefier, they sound more essential and most of all they sound fabulous, all of them. 

Every song is greeted like an old friend (even the new ones), the crowd singing along to every word.  Singer Sam has stopped (well to a certain extent) trying to wrestle stepladders on stage (and if this band don’t call their debut album ‘Wrestling a Stepladder’ then I will very disappointed) and has mastered the art of getting an audience to eat out of the palms of his hand. 

They open with ‘Wherever You Need’ from last years excellent ‘How to Ask’ EP, Sam Durneen almost snarling at the audience like a cross between Brett Anderson and Bryan Ferry in his heyday (again, a very good thing folks). ‘Wherever…’ morphs quickly into No Badger Required favourite ‘Pavlova’ which soars and stamps all over your ears.  New single ‘Christopher’s Halo’ is cheered to the rafters, like a hero returning from some form of polar ice trek or something.

Wherever You Need – Colour TV (2022, Tip Top Recordings, Taken from ‘How To Ask EP’)

Christopher’s Halo – Colour TV (2023, Tip Top Recordings, Single)

The last time I reviewed Colour TV I said that their track ‘In Your Cathedral’ rocks like a bastard, which it does by the way.  Well, tonight, thanks mostly to guitarist Jack Yeo’s transformation from a kid who is decent at playing the guitar to a rockstar who slings his guitar about like his life absolutely depends upon it, it rocks like a whole room of frothing at the mouth bastards whose one purpose in life is to pulverise your ears.  It’s incredible and almost like the very soul of 1994 Bernard Butler has been transported into Jack.  If I was Johnny Greenwood I’d be sleeping with one eye open.

In Your Cathedral – Colour TV (2022, Tip Top Recordings, Taken from ‘Is That You EP’)

When the last song arrives, Sam tells the crowd that it is traditional for the crowd to join them on the stage – and as three quarters of the crowd (or everyone under the age of 25 at least) clambers on to the stage at the end for this impromptu love in its really hard to disagree with Sam when he tells us that this feels like the start of something special.  It does, it also feels like Colour TV are fast becoming the real deal.

Billy Pilgrim – Colour TV (2022, Tip Top Recordings, Taken from ‘Is That You EP’)

A Month all about Names – #15 – Annie/Anne

Annie – Elastica (1994, Deceptive Records, Taken from ‘Elastica’)

When I was 12 my school for its end of year production did a performance of the musical Annie.  A show that I was persuaded to take part in.  I was persuaded to take part by a girl called Claire who lived down the road from my Nan who was a couple of years older than me and who I had, it is fair to say, something of a crush on and I think she probably knew it and used to her advantage knowing that the choir (some of whom doubled up as random orphan children) were a couple of short. I was awful in it, the music teacher (the aforementioned Mrs Allington from a couple of weeks ago) recognised my complete lack of singing voice shunted me to the back of the stage where my voice would be drowned out by the music and other more tuneful voices.  Claire, by the way, played the part of evil Agatha Hannigan, the boozed up manager of the orphanage where Annie lived before she was adopted by billionaire Daddy Warbucks.  Claire, was excellent in this role, unsurprisingly.  This was my first and last ever performance in a musical.  Claire hooked up with a blonde haired kid called Gareth about six weeks into my second year at school.  Gareth also lived down the road from my Nan and my brother gave him a dead arm once during a game of it. 

I have always found the premise of the musical Annie, a bit concerning.  Even more so these days.  A billionaire whose nickname is ‘Daddy’ sends his secretary into an orphanage and randomly chooses an orphaned vulnerable child to live with him for a week.  There are no criminal background checks made, no one raises an eyebrow as to why a reclusive billionaire, might suddenly want a child (a massively ginger female chid at that) to talk to.  No one even checks that Daddy Warbucks is actually a billionaire like he says he is.   Dodgy.

There are quite a few Annie songs (none from the Musical or the utterly terrible remake starring Jamie Foxx – actually whilst I am here, the original Daddy Warbucks was played by Albert Finney, but he was the second choice for the role.  The original choice was Sean Connery.  Also film fans, Sean Connery was the original choice to play Gandalf but turned it down because he thought ‘Lords of the Rings’ was far fetched. 

Anyway I digress.  Here are four more songs from the music library with Annie in the title, starting with some post rock brilliance from Quickspace.

Death + Annie – Quickspace (1998, Kitty Kitty Records, Taken from ‘Precious Falling’) – ‘Death + Annie’ is the opening track of ‘Precious Falling’, which was an ‘album I played in the run up to my finals when I was University, it is a wonderful blend of Krautrock, post rock and sweeping cinematic soundscapes.  Next up, the Boo Radleys

Annie & Marnie – Boo Radleys (1998, Creation Records, Taken from ‘C’Mon Kids’) – ‘Annie & Marnie’ was originally one of the B Sides for the ‘What’s In the Box’ single.  A single that saw the band roundly stick up their middle fingers to the more commercial sound that their previous album ‘Wake Up Boo!’ had.  It was a good move because the album that followed ‘What’s In the Box’ – ‘C’mon Kids’ was all sorts of excellent (unlike ‘Wake Up Boo!’).  Next up, some lofi indie from Mac DeMarco.

Annie – Mac DeMarco (2012, Captured Tracks, Taken from ‘2’) – ‘2’ is the second album from Canadian singer Mac DeMarco and is according to him an album that he recorded entirely in only his underwear.  Finally, vintage transit pop from the greatest French band of all time (face facts Daft Punk).

Without Annie – Les Thugs (1986, Closer Records, Taken from ‘Radical Hystery’)

Tomorrow – Julie, who whoa whoa loves me truly.  Probably.

A Month all about Names – #14 – Diane/Diana

Diane Young – Vampire Weekend (2013, XL Recordings, Taken from ‘Modern Vampires of the City’)

Two things leap into my mind when I think of the name Diane.  The first is figure from my childhood – Miss Diane, who was in the long running Brummie soap Crossroads.  Crossroads for those of you who are under 30 or simply had better things to do in the early eighties, was set in a Motel and ran for twenty years.  It was famous for its ridiculous storylines, such as its kitchen assistant, the wonderfully named Amy Turtle, being arrested for being a Russian spy and its wobbly sets, which were made out of cardboard and often shook on screen when doors slammed. 

Miss Diane, was in the soap for twenty years and in that time she was married three times and it turns out that the only person who actually called her ‘Miss Diane’, like she was some sort of control freak Dominatrix, was village idiot masquerading as a handyman, Benny Hawkins.  Benny for those of you who want to be reminded of Crossroads (and it is accepted that there is absolutely no reason why you should, it was largely terrible for the last fifteen years of its life) always wore a blue bobble hat and spoke with a yokel accent.  So ingrained in my childhood was Benny and his hat, that I used to call the old man who lived at the top of my dad’s road, who always wore a blue bobble hat when he went out, ‘Benny’.  For years even when Crossroads had been axed and I was old enough to know that the man with the hat at the top of the road was called Ron, I still referred to him as ‘Benny’.  I think my brother once shouted “Ooh, Miss Diane” at him once as we cycled past him on our Raleigh Grifters.

The second Diane that leaps into my mind when I think of that name is of Diane from Trainspotting, who must surely be the best Diane to have ever graced our screens.  I remember going to a press only screening of Trainspotting when it first came out.  I came away with a record bag full of Trainspotting swag, which I was supposed to give away in the student paper by setting some sort of stupid question like “Who plays Renton in the film – a) Robert De Niro, b) Edd the Duck or c) Ewan Macgregor.

The record bag contained Tshirts, a copy of the soundtrack, a copy of the book by Irvine Welsh and a massive poster of Diane snarling at the camera (see above).  I kept the bag and the poster and gave the rest away as prizes. 

Just to make people feel ridiculously old, I’ve just checked and that advance press screening took place on February 20th 1996.  Twenty seven years ago today.

There is a cluster of other Diane and for the sake of completeness Diana songs in the music library.  Here are two of each, the Diane ones are the same song, in contrasting styles.

Diane – Husker Du (1983, SST Records, Taken from ‘Metal Circus EP’) – ‘Diane’ of course is a true story.  It was written by Grant Hart about the murder of a waitress called Diane by a chap called Joseph Ture Jr in 1980.  In 2004, Nick Talbot under his Gravenhurst persona, took the song stripped it back marvellously and almost made it his own.

Diane – Gravenhurst (2004, XL Records, Taken from ‘Black Holes In The Sand’)

The two Diana songs are firstly, taken from the debut album by Northumberland’s Everything Everything, who I thought were named after an Underworld lyric, but are apparently named after a Radiohead song.

Come Alive, Diana – Everything, Everything (2010, Geffen Records, Taken from ‘Man Alive’)

Finally for today, a track taken from the debut album by Sweden’s The Concretes, all about listening to songs by the worlds worst penalty taker, Diana Ross.

Diana Ross – The Concretes (2003, Licking Fingers Records, Taken from ‘The Concretes’)

Tomorrow – Annie, who may or may not be ok.