A Month Curated by A Ten Year Old #18

Higher Than The Sun (Dub Symphony in Two Parts) – Primal Scream (1990, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Screamadelica’)

I mean of course there is going to be Primal Scream, my daughter grew up listening to Primal Scream.  I’m pretty sure that I played her the Farley version of ‘Come Together’ when she was about two months old and I definitely played her ‘Loaded’ one Christmas before we went to a party, I remember us dancing round the lounge to it.  She was probably four then and even then all she wanted to do was be free to do what she wanted to do.

Actually, that party was kind of fun, it was an old school dayglo rave designed to cater for young children.  You turned up were handed some glow sticks, some healthy drinks and a ticket to Santa and then lead into a massive room where child friendly dance music played and children ran around waving their glow sticks at each other, whilst dads tried to out dad rave dance each other and shout about how good Utah Saints were back in the day.   Which they obviously were.

Something Good – Utah Saints (1992, London Records, Taken from ‘Utah Saints’)

Later we posed for photos in our two sizes too big Christmas jumpers with stupid Christmas hats perched lopsidedly on top of our heads.  Raves for children shouldn’t work and should be terrible idea but for some inexplicable reason they work brilliantly.

I’d like to think that whatever version of ‘Higher Than The Sun’ I posted on here wouldn’t need much of an introduction.  But just in case let me stretch out a bit – I think ‘Higher Than The Sun’ sums up Primal Scream and the whole ‘Screamdelica’ thing better than any other Primal Scream song – sure ‘Come Together’ and ‘Loaded’ are better songs, but as musical experiences go, ‘Higher Than The Sun’ takes you places that music shouldn’t ever be able to take you.  Its bloody fantastic, all those squelchy synths, a beat that it is impossible to actually dance to, but nigh on perfect to gently sway in a field at midnight to and even though this song is more than thirty years old, it still feels like a visitor from the future has handed you something that the kids from the year 3000 listen to.

Let’s press that shuffle button again and see what we get.

Le Responsable – Jacques Dutronc (1969, Disque Vogue, Taken from ‘Jacques Dutronc 1970’)

I’m probably, erm, responsible for this being on nearly very playlist that my daughter has made (it is not on the one solely made up with songs that have the word ‘cat’ in the title – a series that perhaps might feature later in the year – perhaps not).  ‘Le Responsible’ is a great blast of late sixties sophisti-pop, a swirl of garage-y guitars, some wonky sounding organ and un voix incroyable.  It’s a song that I have played to death since it featured on a documentary about the Welsh football team and their performances at Euro 2016. 

When ‘Le Responsable’ was originally released back in 1969 it came backed with this Gallic slab of debonair greatness. 

L’Aventurier – Jacques Dutronc (1969, Disque Vogue, B Side)

Join us next week for the final two instalments of this series, we kick Monday off with Sabres of Paradise and if you can find a better way to start a Monday morning, I’d like to hear it.

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

Nearly Perfect Albums – #51

Vanishing Point – Primal Scream

Kowalski – Primal Scream (1997 Creation Records)

It is clear to anyone that knows me that Primal Scream have not and will not ever make a record as flawlessly perfect as ‘Screamadelica’.   That record for those who haven’t grasped the point is one of the eight perfect records.  The question for me is, what is the next best Primal Scream album and the answer to that changes at least once a week, but for now, the second best Primal Scream album is ‘Vanishing Point’. 

According to Sir Bobby of Gillespie, Primal Scream’s fifth studio album ‘Vanishing Point is an ‘Anarcho- syndicalist speedfreak road movie of a record’.  I’m not sure what half of those words mean, but I do know one thing. ‘Vanishing Point’ is one heck of an album.

It is a record that revels in the musical freedom it seems to have.  It is full of fuzzy guitars, deep, rattling dub basslines, sparse blasts of electronica and as it reaches its smoky climax a growing sense of unsettling psychedelic paranoia that even beautiful moments of calm can’t quite contain.  It is an album that saw the band once again reinvent themselves, and with the exception of ‘Screamadelica’, ‘Vanishing Point’ represents some of the most artistically ambitious music that the band have ever made.

Its shining beacon is perhaps the menacing sounding Krautrock flavoured ‘Kowalski’ with its samples about “Blue Meanies and Speed” lifted straight from the 1971 Vanishing Point (of which Gillespie claims that this album should be made the official soundtrack to – and – by the way – he’s right).  The same sort of menacing swagger (although this one is courtesy of super sub Mani and his mood throttling bassline) can be heard on ‘If They Move, Kill ‘Em’ (a track which would get a workover two years later when Kevin Shields got his hands on it).

If They Move, Kill ‘Em – Primal Scream (1997, Creation Records)

Even the more traditional guitar driven songs such as their cover of ‘Motorhead’ sound different, more pumped, more driven by speed (either the mechanical or the medicinal kind), and ultimately more menacing. 

Motorhead – Primal Scream (1997, Creation Records)

But then there are the less narcotic influence moments on the album.  The beautiful moments of calm that I mention a couple of paragraphs ago.  Tracks like ‘Get Duffy’ pick up where ‘Screamadelica’ left off.  ‘Get Duffy’ is impossibly cool and on an album where fuzzy guitars hump furiously with dub basslines, this feels like post coital cigarette.

Get Duffy – Primal Scream (1997, Creation Records)

There is an argument of course that ‘Vanishing Point’ is Primal Scream’s most significant record in that it laid the ground for what followed.  That being the also nearly perfect ‘XTRMNTR’ and the violently noisy ‘Evil Heat’ (which is folks, as I’ve gone there, not anywhere near being nearly perfect).  It’s also the first album that the band produced all by themselves and that they deliberately recorded a non zeitgeisty record when that would have been so much easier – the public after all wanted ‘Rocks Part II’ but instead got the huge sprawling blissed out dub majesty of ‘Burning Wheel’. 

Burning Wheel – Primal Scream (1997, Creation Records)

A week of tracks from a pile of CDs that were at the front of the Cupboard – #1

Like a lot of people in the UK, my wife and daughter were ill over the Christmas period.  For long periods of time the two of them retreated to their beds in a fugue of coughing, spluttering, sneezing and sniffing.  Every hour or so I would make them drinks, offer them sandwiches and sit with them for a short while and then head back to the lounge where I would idly wander around on my own wandering what on earth, I should do with myself.

Stuck on a Loop – The ILL (2018, Box Records, Taken from ‘We are ILL’)

The answer to that question was obvious I binge watched violent Japanese serials that are on Netflix (Seriously if you haven’t watched ‘Alice in Borderland’ yet do so as soon as you can), and ate all the cake, biscuits and sweets that Santa delivered.  When I’d done that I decided to try and come up with some new ideas for the blog.

Biscuits – Kacey Musgraves (2015 Mercury Records, Taken from ‘Pageant Material)

Most of the ideas I come up with this horse and pony show masquerading as a blog come to me when I am doing something else entirely unconnected.  For instance, the idea for ‘Kids, Eh’ came to me when I was out for a run and something from ‘Kid A’ came on the iPod.  When I actually sit down and suck a thoughtful tooth and try to physically come up with ideas, it usually ends with a blank bit of paper or the words ‘Cover Versions’ written about halfway down an otherwise blank piece of paper.

Androgynous – Nation of Language (2022, Play It Again Sam Records, Single)

This time is sadly no different.  I do write a few things down, ideas that are so terrible or so blatantly unoriginal that I won’t trouble you with the details of them (although one of them has the sprouting of a good idea).  I sigh to myself and think its ok, I’ll just carry on with the series I have running.  But the little devil on my shoulder tells me, they are so last year.  My head finally turns to the cupboard where I keep the vinyl, surely in there I can find some inspiration or at the very least a bunch of decent tracks that I can cobble some sort of series out of it. Best Indie Ballads….Anyone…..?

Once Again – Cud (1993, A&M Records, Taken from ‘Asquarius’) – which to be honest even if I was doing, ‘Best Indie Ballads’, which I’ not, that wouldn’t feature in it.

I don’t quite reach the vinyl because there at the front of the cupboard are two piles of CDs.  CDs that I have put in the cupboard for some reason.  Some of them have been picked up in charity shops and I simply haven’t got round to burning them, others are CDs that I have owned for ages and have grabbed them to listen to in the car and haven’t put them back where they should be (in one of three big boxes in the corner of the lounge)

So for this week only as a stopgap until I can come up with some better ideas, I present a series of posts that revolve around the 20 or so CDs that are stacked neatly in front of the vinyl and we are going to start with this simply because its on the top of the pile : – 

Kill All Hippies – Primal Scream (2000, Creation Records, Taken from ‘XTRMNTR’) – ‘Kill All Hippies’ is taken from Primal Screams brilliant vowel hating album ‘XTRMNTR’ and is very much a CD I would have grabbed to listen to in the car.  I actually own two copies of this album, both on CD, I picked up a second copy because I thought I’d lost my first copy, only to find it about a week after buying the second copy (which I found in a branch of Oxfam in Exeter).

MBV Arkestra (If They Move Kill ‘Em) – Primal Scream (2000, Creation Records, Taken from ‘XTRMNTR’)

Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #9 (1999)

On New Years Eve in the small seaside town of Teignmouth, people used to dress up in fancy dress.   For some reason hoards of people descended on the town and took advantage of the towns many pubs.  Around 9pm a grand parade would take place and prizes would be given out to the best costumes.  It was always a fun evening my friends and I would usually wander around the towns charity shops before hand buying up the most garish and awful clothes and then hit the town.  In 1999 I’m fairly sure I wore a blonde wig, a multi coloured shirt and some bright red cord trousers, just because I could. 

At around midnight people would emerge from the pubs and wander onto the beach and see in the New Year with cheers, snogging and back slapping.  After that most people would mooch off home or back into one of the late night pubs.  In the centre of Teignmouth is a small pedestrianised area called The Triangle (it being oblong shaped, it made sense to call it that) and smack in the middle of that is a large fountain, which lit up and made the water look various different colours (it is now switched off and grass grows out of it) and there in that fountain is where at 1230am on January 1st 1999 I saw Batman and a giant chicken having a marvellously drunken (and wet) scrap.  Moments like that can easily make you think that it was going to be a great year.

The record that topped my end of year chart around 360 days later wasn’t a single but was comfortably the greatest single piece of music I heard all year and if I recall correctly might well have been the first track that I played in the year 2000. 

Streets of Kenny – Shack (1999, London Records, Taken from ‘HMS Fable’) – which I’m sure you’ll agree still sounds all kinds of wonderful.

In second place was a track that if were lucky enough to have ever been given a lift by me anyway in the second part of 1999, you would have heard about eight times as it featured on nearly every mixtape that I made for the car.

Dirge – Death in Vegas (1999, Concrete Records, Taken from ‘The Contino Sessions’)

In the summer of 1999, I went on holiday to Malta and during a day trip to its crumbling capital Valletta I stumbled across a small market and there tucked away in the corner was a guy selling clearly bootlegged versions of the latest releases.  Which was where I picked up my copy of Moby’s all conquering ‘Play’ album for the princely sum of two Euros.  At Number five in the 1999 chart was this slow paced dance classic from that album.

Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? – Moby (1999, Mute Records, Taken from ‘Play’)

Elsewhere in my Top Ten, the usual blend of big beats, guitars and hip hop.   Primal Scream were at six (and should have been higher probably) with a remix and The Charlatans scraped into tenth position with their seven minute epic ‘Forever’.

Swastika Eyes (Chemical Brothers Mix) – Primal Scream (1999, Creation Records, Taken from ‘XTMNTR’)

Forever – The Charlatans (1999, Island Records, Taken from ‘Us and Us Only’)

The One Word Countdown – #3

What is it that you want to do…..

Loaded – Primal Scream (1990, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Screamadelica’)

Points 240

It starts, as we all know, with a trumpet riff, a lazy, reverb groove loosely tracked by a guitar.  Then you get that snatch of dialogue from ‘The Wild Angels’ “What is it you want to do…?” and frankly all hell breaks loose. A crash of an electric guitar, a lazy bongo drum beat, more samples (from The Emotions and an obscure Edie Brickell track) and suddenly the UK had its first genuinely brilliant, genuinely genre bending indie dance classic.

When ‘Loaded’ landed in February 1990 it was the band first hit record, and it blew the mind of a certain 14 year old boy who up until that point, only really listened to ‘Now That’s What I Called Music Vol. 8’.

It was everything about ‘Loaded’, the effortless cool nature of the music, the samples that were so perfect, the look of the band.  Everything.  I sat gobstruck as the band appeared on Top of the Pops, as Bobby Gillespie who according to my dad “Looked Half Dead” stood centre stage, clearly miming and pretty much french kissed the microphone as the trumpet riff (despite there being precisely no trumpet players on stage) and the looping shuffle of guitar swirled away behind it.  They didn’t even pretend to play or sing and yet it was so cool.  It was at that point that I knew that I wanted to make as glorious a racket as Primal Scream did, I wanted to have a good time and I definitely wanted to have a party.

‘Loaded’ set the precedent for nearly everything that followed, bands that were usually associated with a scuzzy grunge sound suddenly experimented with dance – The Soup Dragons, The Farm, The Shamen and even The Stone Roses who twisted ‘Fools Gold’ to the point that it also became a rave anthem.  That sound that indie dance sound, was the soundtrack of the next summers and let’s be honest it was brilliant (apart from The Farm) as bands competed to make the next great indie dance record.

Obviously, the Musical Jury agreed it with me.  Because out of all the songs on the list to choose from, none of them was selected by our Musical Jury members as often as ‘Loaded’ was.   If every person who voted for placed it one position higher it would have easily have won the entire thing, but they didn’t. Regardless, ‘Loaded’ is an astonishing piece of work and was a record that seriously changed my life.

There were a bunch of other Primal Scream songs that were considered, none of which I think would have done as well ‘Loaded’.

Rocks – Primal Scream (1994, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Give Out, But Don’t Give Up’)

Accelerator – Primal Scream (2000, Creation Records, Taken from ‘XRTMNTR’)

Kowalski – Primal Scream (1997, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Vanishing Point’)

Its Monday, Let’s Swear – #16

Pills – Primal Scream (2000, Creation Records)

Bobby calm down.  

It’s ok mate, it was only an iPod Nano, seriously I can buy another one in which I can reload all your best songs and jog past the marina in Torquay as you warble on about syphilitic aliens and whatnot and then when I get home, I can continue to tell the world how great you are.  Honestly, it’s ok.  Be Cool.

Slight diversion here, a few years ago me and the wife travelled down to Cornwall to watch Primal Scream at the Eden Project on the 20th anniversary ‘Screamadelica’ tour.  We stayed the night at a Bed and Breakfast in the wilds of the St Austell countryside.  We told the owner we would be back quite late as we were going to the Eden Project to see Primal Scream.  She was pretty oblivious to who they were.  The following morning as we ate our organic granola and drunk our freshly squeezed juice in the rose garden, the owner asked us how our “Primeval Scream” was. 

Oh how we laughed at her ignorance.

But you see, she was clever our hostess, because before asking us that question she had clearly been listening to ‘Pills’ the most furious track on Primal Scream’s most furious album, the vowel hating, government baiting wonder that it ‘XTRMNTR’.  Because folks ‘Pills’ is as close, musically, as you will ever get to hearing an actual Primeval Scream laid down on wax – or whatever it is you lay music down on these days.

Essentially ‘Pills’ is the briefest of glances inside the head of Bobby Gillespie, or perhaps in this case, it’s a glimpse inside his bathroom cabinet.  Based on the final third of ‘Pills’ that ain’t a pretty place, but then again, practically no one expected it to be.  What essentially starts as your average Primal Scream song (one of the weakest on the xcllnt ‘xtrmntr’) descends into a nightmarish clash of sounds, strings, beats, shouts, yelps, but mostly pretty impressive swearing.

Exterminator (Massive Attack Mix) – Primal Scream (2000 Creation Records)