Rearranging The Flowers – A Pointless Whodunnit with musical interludes and 7 chapters – #3

(Will the sneeze prove fatal for our hero?)

I must have looked pretty odd when the vicar (accompanied by Mrs Figgis) eventually opened the roof door about ten minutes after I sneezed.  I stood there gripping my trowel.  I was prepared to, well, trowel someone to death if I had to. 

Clubbed to Death – Rob Dougan (1994, Mo’Wax Records, Taken from ‘Annie On One’)

Mrs Figgis held the door open as the vicar walked across the roof towards me.  I lowered the trowel and tried my best to look at the very least, sort of sane.

“Whatever’s the matter man?” said the vicar, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost” and he put his arm around me and lead me to the small wooden stairs that lead from the tower to the rood.  As we reached the doorway I felt the first drops of rain fall onto my head.  I looked back, my bucket sat all by itself over by the air vent and I broke free from the vicar and told him that I’d forgotten my bucket. 

The rain splashed on the reinforced roof of the tower as I trudged back over to get my bucket.  I took in a few deep gulps of air and then turned back around and grinned at the vicar,

“Vertigo” I said to him, “Sorry, makes me a bit, erm, forgetful”. I don’t know why I said that.  I figured that it was more believable than telling him I was shaken up by two of the flower arrangers conspiring to murder an as yet unknown person.

Vertigo – The Libertines (2002, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ‘Up The Bracket’)

We walk back down the stairs, I collect my bag from the office and head on out of the church.  As I walk through the aisles I see Mrs Checkley and Kevin standing by the door and putting a big tub of brightly coloured flowers in a tub.  They both stare at me as I walked down the church towards the exit.  I eye them suspiciously and quicken my step.  Kevin suddenly steps out in front of me and for some reason my legs sort of wobble and then just stop working. 

Paralyzed – Ride (1990, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Nowhere’)

I should fancy my chances in a straight up fist fight with Kevin.  For a start, I’m a lot younger than him.  I’m also in much better shape and I’m armed with a trowel.  He has what looks like a bunch of aspidistras in his hand.  I shouldn’t be worried about him.  Then again, on other hand, I haven’t poisoned someone, filled their pockets with rocks and then dumped them in a reservoir.

“Make you a cup of tea?” Kevin asks me in his chirpy Cockney drawl, “As a thank you for fixing the roof”, he looks towards Mrs Checkley who has a look on her face that could curdle any milk she touched.

God Help Me – Jesus and Mary Chain (1994, Blanco Y Negro, Taken from ‘Stoned and Dethroned’)

I shake my head and decline his offer, making an excuse that my wife is expecting me home so I can fix the dishwasher.  What I want to say is that I don’t want to be their next victim.  I’m sure I read somewhere that the sap from aspidistras is poisonous to humans.  I step to one side to pass the bulky figure of Kevin and as I do, a door opens from behind me and the vicars voice calls out.

“Kevin have you or Jean seen Angela Finch?  Apparently she has not been since she left Bridge Club last night.  Her neighbour has been round to her house and she is not there and her bed hasn’t been slept in”.

Have You Seen Her Lately? – Pulp (1994, Island Records, Taken from ‘His N Hers’)

And with that Mrs Checkley dropped a vase on to the cold stone floor.

A week of tracks from a pile of CDs that were at the front of the Cupboard – #5

Before the Internet and social media in general, keeping in contact with your favourite bands was decidedly tricky. When I started to properly listen to music, there was generally speaking an address on the back of your record or CD in which you could write to the band.  This generally meant having your name added to a database and every now and again you would get something through the post.  Essentially it was a mailing list masquerading as a fan club but some bands used to send you brilliant things. 

The Frank and Walters for instance used to send out flexi discs every so often that you would have to weigh down on your record player with a 2p coin in order to make them play properly.

Happy Busman – The Frank and Walters (1992, Go! Discs, Taken from ‘Trains, Boats and Planes”)

Other bands used their mailing list fan clubs to surprise people.   Spiritualized once sent a 7 inch record to 500 people on their mailing list.  It was a specially recorded version of ‘I Want You’ with a shortened version of ‘Feel So Sad’ on the B Side – I know this because my mate John got one through the post and I didn’t.  Each one was individually stamped and it was a thing of absolute beauty.  I did one get a much coveted green lolly from the Ludicrous Lollipops though.

Feel So Sad (7 inch version) – Spiritualized (1991, Dedicated Records)

The Manic Street Preachers used to send fan club members free tickets to their shows – they did this for every tour up until the release of ‘The Holy Bible’ although I was a member of their fan club from about a week after the original release of ‘You Love Us’ I never ever got a free ticket.  

In 1994, to promote the release of their single ‘How Does It Feel to Feel?’, Ride played a gig at a tiny venue in London (the Highbury Garage, capacity 600) and made the gig only available to fan club members.  Tickets were £5 each and every person who bought one got to appear in the video to the new single.  You can see me (or my hair at least) flying through the air at around the 85 second mark should you be interested.

How Does It Feel to Feel? – Ride (1994, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Carnival of Light’)

That gig was the first time that I ever went to a gig on my own.  I wasn’t supposed to be going on my own, but my mate John couldn’t come as his dad had grounded him after finding three bags of high quality skunk in his underwear drawer. 

The second gig that I attended on my own was also a secret gig that wasn’t a fan club but one that had been announced quietly in a small advert in the Melody Maker.  In October 1994 Dinosaur Jr announced a gig at again the Garage in London and tickets would only be available on the door.  So I stuck a notice up in the students union to see if anyone wanted to come along and at 5pm on the day of the gig I waited in the Union for twenty minutes for all the grunge kids to turn up and no one did.  So I went on me own and they were great.

All of which brings us to the final CD from the pile at the front of the cupboard because the CD directly underneath the Dodgy Greatest Hits album is ‘Bug’ by Dinosaur Jr.

No Bones – Dinosaur Jr (1988, Blast First Records)

Budge – Dinosaur Jr (1988, Blast First Records)

(oh and with the exception of yesterdays post, which was a slightly recycled post from a piece that I wrote for but never sent to the Vinyl Villain about two years ago, all of the tracks that have appeared this week are taken from one of the ten new series that will grace this blog this year.  Yep TEN. And that doesn’t include next week, in which I attempt to somehow blend the art of the short story with a music blog)

100 Songs with One Word Titles (65 – 61)

Did you guess which song from yesterday placed the highest.   It was ‘Tender’ by Blur but only just as ‘Lately’ by Sea Power reach number 9 on two separate lists (and was, despite a few lower placings, largely ignored by everyone else!).  Todays poser is which of the five tracks listed appeared in the most individual lists?  We start today with some hip hop straight outta erm, Long Beach.

65. Regulate – Warren G feat Nate Dogg (1994, Def Jam Recordings, Taken from ‘Regulate…G Funk Era’)

‘Regulate’ starts with Warren G driving alone through the eastside of Long Beach (I’ve no idea if this is rough or not) he is in his words “looking for women”.  But then he sees some dudes playing dice and tries to join in, but these dudes are bad dudes because they pull guns on him and rob him, and poor old Warren thinks he’s going to die.  Luckily for him, Nate’s in town, he’s looking for Warren.  Nate is so damn fine that a car full of women crashes just by being near him.  Nate finds Warren, shoots at the robbers.  Warren and Nate then drive back, pick up the women and go back to the Eastside Motel for a cheese and wine party.  All that in four minutes and eleven seconds.  Marvellous.

64. Hello – The Beloved (1990, East West Records, Taken from ‘Happiness’)

Put aside the fact that ‘Hello’ is a totally brilliant slab of early nineties indie house pop for one moment.  It has to be said that any song that features Liverpudlian working class soap hero Billy Corkhill in the same breath as combative Crystal Palace midfielder, Vince Hilaire and also namechecks creepy chocolate maker Willy Wonka, game show king Leslie Crowther and comedian turned god botherer Tommy Cannon deserves a place in any chart, let alone this one.

63. Sennen – Ride (1992, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Today Forever EP’)

I once got caught in a downpour that can only be described as biblical.  The sky went very black, thunder clapped all over the place, and for about two minutes hailstones the size of well massive hailstones fell from the sky and turned the road into a slippery field of small ice rocks.  I was at the time about 100 metres from my office and after hail stones I decided to peg it.  I was listening to music at the time and ‘Sennen’ came on and suddenly the rain and how wet I was getting didn’t matter, its that good a song.

62. Wildfires – Sault (2020, Forever Living Originals Records, Taken from ‘Untitled’)

 “Thief in the night, tell the truth. White lives, spreading lies. You should be ashamed. The bloodshed on your hands. Another man. Take off your badge. We all know it was murder Murder, murder, murder.”

Pretty much says it all.  Stark, haunting, political and brilliant.

61. Rubbish – Carter USM (1990, Big Cat Records, Taken from ‘Rubbish’ 12 inch)

In January 1992 I saw Carter play a secret gig at the Venue in New Cross, it was on the back of the re-release of ‘Rubbish’.  At the time it was in the Top 20 and it was utter carnage.  It remains one of the best gigs I have ever been too, but of course, this being here begs the question

What do you think of countdown so far…? 

The Sunday Shuffle – #25

Seagull – Ride (1990, Creation Records)

I dropped my iPod Nano today.

 It hit the wooden floor in my lounge with a clunk, bounced slightly, flipped and then clunked on the wooden floor again.  I was about to go for a run.  I only moved to grab my keys and the stupid thing slipped out of my hand.

I picked it up, these things are hardy little chaps I told myself it will be fine.  The screen is black, but it was switched off before I dropped it.  Was it always that black? I ask myself with a shiver.  I press the little button on the top expecting to see the little apple symbol appear and then it slowly burst back into life. 

But there is nothing. 

I do a reset or try to.  Nothing.

I rub the screen, thinking that it will make a difference, I try the on switch again, I turn the volume up and then down again.  Still nothing.  

I decide to leave it for a bit, its probably just dazed.  I go for my run and when I get back, I do all the above again and then I plug it into a laptop which tells me with an angry sounding beep that “The Device is Not Recognised”. 

Shit.

The iPod Nano is buggered. 

It’s one of my most precious possessions, we’ve travelled the world together me and that Nano.  We’ve run around the back streets of various towns, villages, cities, fields and tracks together.  We’ve clambered up rocks on Dartmoor together, we’ve walked around the chaotic old town of Tbilisi, we’ve watched street magicians in New Orleans, travelled in a lift to the top of the Calgary tower, we’ve watched the mist roll in across Lyme Bay as I sat on a well positioned bench and nibbled a Chelsea Bun. 

And I dropped you. 

Today’s track is therefore chosen by my phone and it was followed by this

The Dark of the Matinee – Franz Ferdinand (2004, Domino Records)

But frankly I’m not in the mood today.

Thanks Chris

Totally Wired – The Fall (1980, Rough Trade Records)

A year ago today, Chris, a friend of mine who I grew up with died suddenly. He was a friend that shared my passion for music, a decent record shop, Lincoln biscuits and cheap wine from Kwik Save. Today’s post is dedicated to him

Every song on this page today was a song that appeared at some point on one of the many mixtapes he made for me, which I played until the tape wore out.

Dreams Burn Down – Ride (1990, Creation Records) – This appeared on a tape, called “Grungy MuffShag Vol. 2 and in brackets after the song title he’d written (Bloody great song) and for a while until I physically held a copy of ‘Nowhere’ in my hands, I thought the actual title of this song was ‘Dreams Burn Down (Bloody great song)’.

X, Y and Zee – Pop Will Eat Itself (1990, RCA Records) – Which was crammed in the middle of Side 2 of a cassette called “Giving a Dog a Rubber Bone (Fnar!)’

Touch Me I’m Sick – Mudhoney (1988, Sub Pop Records) – Track 1, Side 1, Grungy MuffShag Vol. 1.

I’ll be raising a bottle of dog in Chris’ honour tonight.

A Linked Series – #1

Shorley Wall – Ooberman (1998, Tugboat Records)

Another day, another series that sort of tugs the coat tails of a bigger and better blog. The hat today is doffed to Jez, a guy who runs a blog called ‘A History of Dubious Taste’ It’s a blog I visit most days and one that I should add to the list of blogs that adorn the bottom of this page.  Anyway, a few years back, he did a thing called The Chain in which people had to guess the next song in a linked bunch of songs.  Kudos points were awarded for getting the right answer or close to the right answer. 

So today, I’m starting something similar.  I’ve randomly shuffled the iPod and picked the first song that comes on as the starter.  That track was Oobermans’ joyously twee indie sensation ‘Shorley Wall’.  A song so twee that it’s carrying a cuddly horse shaped bag and wearing spangly hairclips.   It’s essentially a song about escaping the pressures of life by sitting on a beach listening to the sea through a big seashell, whilst the seagulls fly around your head.  That is until you find out what you want or need.  Sounds naff but it’s beautifully done.

I loved this song when it first came out in 1998, I remember hearing it at work on Jo Whiley’s morning show on Radio 1 and then dashing to the record shops in Exeter at lunchtime to buy it.  It has this cutesy keyboard riff running through and ends with a spoken word poem read by keyboardist Sophia Churnley.  On the original E.P as the spoken word bits nears the end you can hear Sophia’s voice break as she struggles to hold back the tears. 

By the time ‘Shorley Wal’ got its inevitable rerelease the emotion put into the spoken word poem had fallen rather flat and it all sounded rather forced. 

So the question is where do I go musically from here?  There has to be a link in some way to the song, the band or the perhaps something else.  For instance (and the link won’t be these records at all), ‘Shorley Wall’ features the sounds of seagulls at the start of it so an obvious link would be: –

Seagull – Ride (1990, Creation Records)

But it also contains a poem – so we could have

Poems – Terry Hall/nearly God (1996, Island Records)

If you like you can pop your suggestions in the comment box. I may even dish out points for correct suggestions.

Give it Another Spin #1

Tarantula – Ride

Mary Anne – Ride (1996, Creation Records)

Before I start, this is a series that is inspired by reading about the Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula.  I was so impressed with the fact that there is a spider that can measure up to around 30cm in length and can weight 170grams that I wanted to write about it and somehow crowbar something musical into that. 

That, folks, is why I am sitting in the lounge at nearly midnight on a Tuesday listening to the fourth studio album by Ride.  An album I genuinely haven’t listened to in around 17 years and even then I think I might have switched it off after track six, because back then in 2005 I thought this record was garbage.  It was a record that should have come with a stamp on it saying “Nowhere near good enough”. 

So inspired am I by the brilliance of giant tarantulas that I have now convinced myself that I should reacquaint myself with the fourth (and at the time, final) studio album by Ride and that is how this series came to light.  It made more sense in my head if I am honest.  It’s also the only record I can think of with the word ‘Tarantula’ in the title.

By the time ‘Tarantula’ came out in 1996, Ride had already split up.  Gardener and Bell, the two main songwriters in the band were barely speaking and certainly getting them into a studio was proving difficult.  The album eventually got itself recorded, and it was released somewhat under a cloud, very little press, very little publicity, obviously no tours or promotional stuff.  It was largely panned by the media.  The Melody Maker called it, rather wonderfully “The Eight Legged Snooze Machine”.  Creation sensing problems, deleted it a week after it was released and literally no one cared, least of all Ride.  

But how bad was it? 

Well, if the truth be told, pretty bad.  I’ve just listened to it all the way through, trust me on this.  Oasis lite indie pop at best and I don’t mean good Oasis either, I mean ‘Standing on the Shoulder of Giants’ era Oasis.  Not good.  Lyrically it’s woeful, because Mark Gardener had pretty much lost all interest in writing songs for Ride by then and Andy Bell just wasn’t the songwriter he clearly thought he was.  Bell wrote nine of the tracks on here, and that really shows.  I’ve just thrown a bunch of magnetic letters at a fridge and I think I could turn that into a more meaningful verse than anything on ‘Tarantula’.

Sunshine/Nowhere To Run – Ride (1996, Creation Records)

I was wrong, musically, it doesn’t sound like bad Oasis.  It’s worse, it sounds like Heavy Stereo.  To put how far removed from the sound Ride (nearly) perfected in the early nineties, if you imagine a map of the UK, ‘Nowhere’ would be where Devon is (best obviously), ‘Tarantula’ is that rundown estate full of crack dealers just outside Croydon.   That’s how close it is.

Walk On Water – Ride (1996, Creation Records)

Its not completely terrible though. ‘Black Nite Crash’ the lead single is, to be honest, one of Ride’s finest singles.  All crashing guitars, angry, sarky lyrics and thumping drums.  Drums that haven’t been heard on a Ride record since ‘Dreams Burn Down’ at the very least.  So that’s good.

Black Nite Crash – Ride (1996, Creation Records)