A Month Curated by A Ten Year Old #14

Luminescence (Stay With Me) – Spiritualized (1991, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘The Complete Works Volume 1’)

Welcome to week four of our quick dash through a playlist created my daughter.  A playlist that has been at times a little bit crazy, a little bit eclectic but nearly always brilliant.  Last week my daughter insisted on pressing the shuffle button for us all week and she gave us music from Lush, The Orb, SBTRKT and some obscure Norwegian power pop amongst other things. This week it is back to being my responsibility – so it is likely that the music won’t be as eclectically brilliant.  However, we pick up where we left off last week.

The last time my daughter pressed the shuffle button it left us with the ambient drone rock wonder that is ‘Luminescence (Stay with Me)’ by Spiritualized.  A frankly incredible piece of music that was originally found (I think) on the B Side to the glow in the dark copy of the bands ‘Run’ single (it might have been on the non glow in the dark versions as well).

My daughter has lots of things that glow in the dark.  Her bedroom ceiling is awash with stars that are stuck to it that light up when it darks, making it look like she is outside on a clear night.  She also has a bunch of old glow in the dark unicorns, purchased a few years ago when she went through a phase of being obsessed with unicorns, every now again I’ll come across one of these unicorns acting as a bookmark or stuffed in a sock drawer for some unknown reason.  I miss those days where I could buy a cheap piece of tat and bring it home for my daughter and it would absolutely make her week.  These days her week is made by an extra hour in bed or being able to play the frustratingly irritating nonsense that is Roblox online at the same time as her mates.  Still, at least she listens to decent music, for now.

‘Luminescence’ is a tremendous thing, a looping drone effect swirls around the place as soft vocals gently whisper “Stay With Me” over the top of it. It comes from a time when Jason Pierce was still experimenting with different sounds and techniques, many of which ended up as B Sides or as some smart arse called them‘sound suites’ on the bands second album ‘Pure Phase’ that joined other songs together.  I used to tut when they did this because I much preferred them to make you know actual songs, but as I get older, I’m beginning to see the wonder of some of these. 

Like this for instance, which was also on the B Side to ‘Run’.

Effervescent (Chimes) – Spiritualized (1991, Dedicated Records, Taken from The Complete Works Volume 1’

Or this, which perhaps the greatest sound suite which Pierce ever recorded. 

Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies) – Spiritualized (1991, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Feel So Sad’ Single)

Her is my daughter with her view on ‘Luminescence’ “This is one of the tracks that I listen to when I do yoga in the lounge because it is relaxing.  I also listen to it when I am falling asleep.  I don’t like some of the other Spiritualized songs that daddy plays.”

Well we’d best change the track then….hadn’t we.

Obvs – Jamie XX (2015, Young Records, Taken from ‘In Colour’)

Oh I love the drums on this.  It’s a kettle drum, can’t remember who its by though.” 

Its by Jamie XX, but you all knew that already because I’ve typed it two lines up.  The drum on this is actually brilliant, not sure if it a kettle drum or just a sampled one.  It also has a brilliant break in it around half way through that changes the dynamic of the song entirely only to spin itself back on its head all over again a bit later.  Seriously good.

Tomorrow Massive Attack.

A Month Curated by A Ten Year Old #12

Sunrise at Marwar Junction – Eat Lights Become Lights (2012, Rocket Girl Records, Taken from ‘Heavy Electrics’)

Marwar Junction is a real place just in case you were wondering and no its me in that photograph.  Marwar Junction is in the state of Rajasthan and serves as an important transport hub between Ahemdabad and Delhi.  I’ve always been fascinated by Indian trains, well not the trains themselves (although my second blog ‘Barry’s Guide to Trains’ is well worth a read) but the sheer chaotic nature of them. 

It might be a rather Merchant Ivory view of them but when I think of Indian trains (which to be fair, isn’t that often) I am whirled away to massively long locomotives trundling through the Indian mountains, with hundreds of people camped out on top of the trains, and several thousand more crammed inside like they are taking part in some trendy art installation, where humans are pretending to be baked beans as the artist makes some pithy statement about the cost of living crisis.

People on roofs aside, the oddest thing I have ever seen on a train occurred 25 years ago in the middle of the Welsh countryside at Caersws station.  The train trundled into the station where it stopped and a male who looked like every stereotypical picture of a rural farmer that you had ever seen (Tweed clothing, bushy sideburns, ruddy complexion, shepherds crook in his hand) got on the train.  Before the door closed, he let out a shrill whistle and slowly three sheep boarded the train followed by a collie dog.  

It would appear that the reports that the BBC were trying to make ‘One Man and His Dog’ more appealing to the masses were correct.  There in the carriage in front of about twenty bemused passengers, the sheep sat (or stood, they didn’t suddenly pull out a copy of the Times and start doing a crossword) guarded by the Collie dog who kind of just growled whenever one of the sheep dared to move.  Twenty minutes later when the train rolled into Welshpool, the farmer followed by the sheep and then the dog all left the train. 

It’s market day”, said the Guard as he gently mopped the floor where the sheep had stood.

Given that ‘Sunrise at Marwar Junction’ is about the sun coming up at Indian train station you would expect perhaps this song to be full of sitars, and Kula Shaker style mystical bobbins, but you would be wrong.  What you get is are ambient soundscapes that slowly build before a wonderful Krautrock-y groove falls into place. It sounds in parts a lot like the song ‘Sway’ by Spiritualized before the guitars properly kick in – but that perhaps might have been intentional.  Regardless ‘Sunrise at Marwar Junction’ is totally lovely.  My daughter says that this song is “very nice”.  She was also keen point out that under no circumstances must you actually “Eat Lights” because they are not a tasty as Jaffa Cakes.

Sway  – Spiritualized (1992, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’)

Here is another track from Eat Lights Become Lights, this one is more like ‘Private Psychedelic Reel’ era Chemical Brothers, so excellent obviously.

Modular Living – Eat Lights, Become Lights (2013, Rocket Girl Records, Taken from ‘Modular Living’)

The next song randomly selected from the playlist is something of a chill out staple and as it happens, still a pretty lovely piece of music.

At The River – Groove Armada (1999, Jive Records, Taken from ‘Vertigo’)

Rather predictably, this song does remind me of lazy days spent at a cosy riverside pub on the banks of the River Exe.  It reminds my daughter of a day we spent at a wonderful beach down in the deepest part of South Devon called Beesands, because the Groove Armada CD soundtracked the drive down there.  Incidentally, if you are ever in the area, you can walk along the coast path from Beesands to a place called Hallsands, where about a hundred years ago, after a significant storm, most of the village fell into the sea.  You can still see some of the old houses just about standing on the edge of the cliff and at low tide if you are lucky can see chimney pots sticking out of the water.  They say that at 6am on the anniversary of the day of the storm, the old church bells can be heard.

In My Bones – Groove Armada (1999, Jive Records, Taken from ‘Vertigo’)

Tomorrow Moby

A Month all about Names – #2 – Jane

Hey Jane – Spiritualized (2012, Double Six Records, Taken from ‘Sweet Heart, Sweet Light)

Fans of Spiritualized will know that they are no strangers to songs that clock in at well over seven or eight minutes.  They will know that Jason Pierce revels in constructing a song that has multiple layers and sections, that experiment with different instruments, sounds and moods.  Fans will also know that Pierce is hardly a fan of the radio edit and so if he wants a comeback single to be a nine minute epic, then it will be a nine minute epic and that’s that. 

So when, ‘Hey Jane’ the first taste of their seventh studio album, was released and its nine minute running time was announced, fans rubbed their hands with glee and strapped themselves in for ride, because judging by the bands other lengthy songs (‘Cop Shoot Cop’, ‘Medication’, Feels So Sad’) it was likely to be mind blowing.

Sure enough we were right, ‘Hey Jane’ is a marvellous affair.  It’s all crunchy guitars, swooping soundscapes and a killer chorus.  About halfway through the song does this sort of mid song flip that throws the song upside down and the fires up again near the end into a harmony tinged singalong. All nine minutes of it are incredible but then again its Spiritualized and I’m almost bound to say that given how much I love them.

The album that followed ‘Hey Jane’ was just as stunning, the songs that it contained were full of big sounding choruses and harked back to some of the more muscular songs that were found on ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Let It Come Down’.  Almost all the fragility of the band’s previous album had been swept away. 

Three more ‘Jane’ songs for you (well four actually)

First up New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem and their acoustic version of ‘Antonia Jane’.  A song which they stuck on their 2011 B Sides album. 

Antonia Jane – The Gaslight Anthem (2011, Sony Records, Taken from ‘B Sides’) – ‘Antonia Jane’ is a cover version of a Lightning Dust track (Lightning Dust are a Black Mountains off shoot band and make gentle alt country and piano inspired music and are worth checking out – here’s the original, which is far better.

 Antonia Jane – Lightning Dust (2009, Jagjaguwar Records, Taken from ‘Infinite Light’)

Next up are Jacksonville’s Black Kids, and their track ‘Hurricane Jane’ which was the fourth single to be released from their 2008 debut album ‘Party Traumatic’.  In 2008, Black Kids looked set for world domination but it took nine long years for a second album to emerge and by that time music had moved on.

Hurricane Jane – Black Kids (2008, Columbia Records, Taken from ‘Party Traumatic’)

Finally for today, Ms Polly Jean Harvey and the track ‘Me-Jane’ which is taken from Polly’s rip snorting second album ‘Rid of Me’.

Me – Jane – PJ Harvey (1993, Island Records, Taken from ‘Rid of Me’)

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)

Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #2 (1992)

1992’s end of year list was scrawled on a piece of paper that was tucked inside an old folder that I was using for my ‘Business Studies’ course.  The fact that there was more writing about music in that folder than there was about Business Studies probably tells you everything you need to know about what I thought about studying Business Studies. 

My 1992 Top Ten was very indie heavy something that wouldn’t change until around 1995, but it’s still even today a very good list.  Some of the entries are in different coloured pens as well, which probably means I was doing something like revealing a different song every day or some such nonsense, but sat at the top ten, in blue and underlined was this: –

Medication – Spiritualized (1992, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Pure Phase’)

‘Medication’ is an astonishing record, it starts all whispered and vulnerable sounding but descending into a complete avalanche of guitars, feedback, and crashing drums.  It is classic Spiritualized, and whilst it may not be their finest moment and ‘Pure Phase’ may not be their greatest album (it kind of bridges a gap between their two monoliths and gets overlooked because of it, well by me at least) back in 1992, it sounded incredible.

1992 was of course, the year that I somehow managed to get myself a proper girlfriend, one that would shape my world for at least the next 16 months on and off and much of the top ten (and tomorrows) is heavily influenced by her and my friendship grounds as well.  For instance at Number Two was this: –

Summer Babe – Pavement (1992, Big Cat Records, Taken from ‘Slanted and Enchanted’) – which is a record that I still utterly love and was a record that she introduced me to. It is a track, for a reason that I have long since forgotten, that I always play every time I sleep somewhere new, this is mostly done via headphones now, but when I moved into my halls at university, it was played very loudly.

Elsewhere in that Top Ten at numbers four, seven and eight respectively are tracks by other bands that I still love today more than thirty years after first hearing them

Sheela Na Gig – PJ Harvey (1992, Too Pure Records, Taken from ‘Dry’) – the first time I head PJ Harvey I was eating a bowl of Rice Krispies.  She was the featured artist on a Channel Four breakfast programme and her debut album ‘Dry’ was everywhere at the time.  By the end of that day I had ‘Sheela Na Gig’ on 12” and it remains in the vinyl cupboard today.

Creep – Radiohead (1992, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Pablo Honey’) – Near the start of 1992 I went to London to see Kingmaker, the train was late and by the time I got to the venue (which I think was the Town & Country Club) the support band was near the end of their set.  That support band was Radiohead and even though I saw three songs, they were still someway better than an entire Kingmaker set.

Reverence – Jesus and Mary Chain (1992, Blanco Y Negro Records, Taken from ‘Honey’s Dead’) – In December 1992, I saw the Jesus and Mary Chain at Brixton Academy and it was and still is one of the greatest gigs that I have ever been to.

100 Songs with One Word Titles (75 – 71)

Welcome back to week two of the One Word Title Countdown.  We will continue to group the songs in groups of five until we reach the Top 50.  Each morning this week I will have a little game for you all to play.  Of the five tracks that appear today, two of them were voted at number one by jury members in their respective returns.  Your quest should you choose to accept it is to work out which ones you think they are, suffice to say the rest of the jury didn’t necessarily agree with them.  Let’s start here.

75. Squares – The Beta Band (2005, Sony Records, Taken from ‘Hot Shots II’)

Back in 2005, The Beta Band stumbled across a great idea, they heavily liberated a large section of a relatively obscure track called ‘Daydream’ by Belgian easy listening combo Wallace Collection (in fact the sample they used was from the cover by the Gunter Kallman Choir, but let’s not split hairs) and used it to make a wonderfully off kilter pop record. Pleased with the outcome the band sat back and waited for success to roll in.  What the band didn’t know was that the electronica group I Monster had exactly the same idea, and their track ‘Daydream in Blue’ was much better.

74. Columbia – Oasis (1994, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Definitely Maybe’)

With the possible exception of ‘Live Forever’, ‘Columbia’ is the best song that Oasis ever recorded.  It was the song that made me believe in all the swaggering posturing that Oasis talked of.  It is superb from the first words uttered by Liam to the way that Noel’s guitar swirls around your speakers as Liam yells “Yeah, yeah yeah” in the background.  Right then, I believed that Oasis could do anything, and even now, knowing that ultimately, they were just a band, it still makes me smile with expectation.

73. Run – Spiritualized (1992, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’)

Spiritualized were of course, another band that I expected to do way better than they did.  Again, perhaps I picked the wrong song.  ‘Run’ is an amazing record, a sort of early mash up of a Velvet Underground song and one by JJ Cale.  It is a breathtaking slab of psychedelic garage rock, all about cutting loose – I suspect it’s a thinly veiled dig at the demise of Spacemen 3, but regardless, its sublime and as damn close to perfection as you can get.

72. Unbelievable – EMF (1990, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Schubert’s Dip)

MJM number 7 writes – “I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, because I know you will use it against me, but I saw EMF live the other week.  I last saw them in London in 1992.  They were incredible and somehow, don’t ask me how, ‘Unbelievable’ sounded, well, unbelievable, it was almost like I was 17 again, which judging by the size of my hangover the following morning, I am clearly not”.

71. Atlas – Bicep (2020, Ninja Tune Records Taken from ‘Isles’)

I think ‘Atlas’ by Bicep maybe the most recently released track in this rundown (therefore automatically making it the best one word title track released in this decade).  However if this turned out to be a long lost track made in 1995 by Orbital back in then it really wouldn’t have surprised me.  The breakbeats and the sampled Ofra Haza vocals are all eerily reminiscent of ‘Halycon’ era Orbital.  It’s still fantastic though.

The Ramshackle Brilliance of the Chart Show Indie Chart #3

This week 17th August 1991 and at number seven

Sploosh! – Ozric Tentacles (1991, Dovetail Records)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Want You – Spiritualized (1991, Dedicated Records)

At three, sadly going down the chart was

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

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

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

Nearly Perfect Albums #8

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space – Spiritualized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sunday Shuffle

Effervescent (Chimes) – Spiritualized (2004, Arista Records, Taken from ‘The Complete Works Vol 1’)

Morning everyone. Sundays on here will be the day of the shuffle. One track (maybe more) provided at random from one of four devices in this house that is capable of shuffling music. Todays device was the iPod Nano, largely because I took it running with me on the day I wrote this.

Spiritualized, are, as anyone who knows me, probably my favourite band of all time. So I am really pleased with the choice today. ‘Effervescent (Chimes)’ first appeared (I think) as the fourth track on ‘Run’ one of the early Spiritualized singles. The sleeve of the 12″ glowed in the dark, which although clearly a gimmick, was kind of cool.

Here is the A Side in case you needed it.

Run – Spiritualized (1991, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’)