Saturday, 19 December 2009

The fuckest uppest

Easing myself into the festive season: part two in a series of posts featuring Kalashnikov rifles and the word motherfucker. Without doubt my favourite album title ever is "Dial M for Motherfucker" by those most highly regarded and unlistenable scenesters Pussy Galore.

I think I probably heard "Dick Johnson" and took it from there. There are four good things about this album: the title, the sleeve, the track I've posted, and the condition of the vinyl - which is excellent because I never play it. To be fair Jon Spencer did come good with his eponymous Blues Explosion, at least on the album "Orange". Despite my experience with "Dial M" I'm still interested in hearing their take on "Exile on Main St". This track sounds a bit Stonesy I think.

Pussy Galore: Hang On

Friday, 18 December 2009

It's Friday...let's overthrow capitalism!*

I first encountered Ian Svenonius's brand of revolution flavoured pop when I rescued a 7 inch single from a dying record shop. It was "I Want Some" by Make Up - one of his earlier and perhaps most impressively coiffured incarnations. Anyway, the a-side I didn't like so much but the b-side was the fantastic "Pow! To the People". Despite owning their singles compilation I still find myself bidding on the individual discs at transatlantic times in the morning, I just love the sleeves.

Make Up: Pow! To the People

The track below is from his follow up band and, to my knowledge, the funkiest tune ever written in praise of leftist insurgency (but very happy to be proved wrong on that point). AK47 - when you absolutely, positively got to kill ever motherfucker in the room, accept no substitute.
Weird War: AK-47

(*With acknowledgements to Across the Kitchen Table's Friday posts)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Peace and good vibes to all

I think that once upon a time this song was touted as a contender for the Christmas number one spot. I can't remember which evil svengali figure we were attempting to thwart that particular year. But it didn't happen. It seemed ridiculous at the time and probably even more so now. Part of me understands that but what I really think is that this is a beautiful song. And people who'd never heard of Laibach would have loved it (but hated any album of theirs that they might have bought).

Laibach: Across the Universe

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Christmas post for you

Some tunes that I consider to be Christmassy. I've left this a bit late really - I've nothing against the earlification of Christmas - any time after November 1 is fine by me.

Edwyn Collins: Welwyn Garden City

A b-side to "The Magic Piper", Edwyn Collins' ill fated follow up to "A Girl Like You". Apparently it got nowhere in the charts due to a bar code mix up (or was that the lp?). Anyway, the faint sleigh bell noises in the background mean I'm having it. Welwyn Garden City? I've never been. I've a feeling it wouldn't live up to this track. The sleigh bells and the propulsiveness remind me of "Troika" by Prokofiev - one of the very few classical recordings I own. It's not that I'm scared of classical music - I just hardly know where to start. Music lessons at school were just a doss weren't they? They should have played classical music to us. I'd probably have hated it, but no more so than maths or geography. While we're considering changes to the national curriculum: law and political history should be compulsory subjects between the ages of 11 and 16. That'd sort the country out.

Driving back to London on my own late on a winter's night this next track came on just as I hit a stretch of the M40 where the lighting reappears after miles of cats eyes. The car was very warm and this just washed over me. It's by a guy from My Morning Jacket who, on the strength of this, I was motivated to check out. Totally different but still very good, haven't got round to picking up any of their albums yet. I will though.

Jim James: Sooner

Friday, 11 December 2009

Where are they now?

I love this album cover (everyone looks great when they're made of anti-matter). "More Hot Rocks" a fairly non-essential Stones best of. I'm a big fan of the Stones. I find some of their earlier recordings a bit scrawny but, and I know this is hardly groundbreaking stuff, I love the run of albums from "Beggars Banquet" through to "Exile on Main Street". I've never listened to anything after "Main Street", I don't have to, I just know. It's like someone waved an evil wand and their powers deserted them.

As well as the music I love the way they looked (in the sixties) and again in this I'm far from alone - their style still defines the dress code of swathes of indie kids and would be hipsters in general. And I suppose they played a part in shaking down the still Victorian attitudes of their day. But that is the limit of my admiration. I love all the myths and by far the best book I've ever read dealing with them is "Up and Down with the Rolling Stones" by genuine insider Tony Sanchez (immortalised on the cover of "Beggars Banquet" through the grafitto - "Spanish Tony Where Are You?").

In some ways the book fuels the myths with its description of their seventies tour behaviour but it hilariously dispels any idea that either Mick Jagger or Keith Richards were in any way bad boys. Due I suppose to the fact that he got to know Keith better his reputation as anything but a tight fisted and rather cowardly heroin addict takes a bit of a kicking. This seems to have upset a few reviewers of the book on Amazon, Americans taking it especially badly. Only Brian Jones comes across as actually living (and dying) up to the myth, and it's clear from this book (and others) that he was a bit of a cunt. Albeit, from a distance, a very cool and at times amusing one.

I despise the current celebrity culture and the tabloids and magazines such as Heat and Hello that thrive on it, but I suppose the truth is that that's because I have no interest in any of the people they're writing about. "Up and Down with the Rolling Stones" is a massive violation of Keith Richards' privacy, and one that leaves him looking like a small man in many instances. What justification is there for it? Perhaps Andrew Loog Oldham should take some of the blame - he built the Stones a monstrous reputation - was it therefore fair of Tony Sanchez to attempt to show the reality behind it?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Clap your hands say yeah

A few weeks ago I was searching through the stalls at my favourite junk market. It's all packed into a fairly large building that I imagine was once a factory or mill of some kind. I always try to give myself at least three hours or so - the amount of stuff in there is slightly mindblowing - it's like this is where they've stashed the twentieth century: Pickelhauben, sheet music, lawnmowers, so many books it makes my head spin. I've picked up a few things other than books or albums there but I confess it's the very cheap second hand vinyl that is the main draw for me.

On this occasion I had at last chased down "Tusk" and picked up "Skullfuck" by the Walkingseeds into the bargain (another of Julian Cope's hot tips, will I never learn?). As I stood in the exceptionally long queue waiting to pay a tune drifted down from an invisible tannoy. It was naggingly familiar and yet so good that had I heard it before I would have made a point of acquiring it. Anyway, it contained a pretty bold phrase so I knew it'd be no trouble to track as soon as I got to the internet. And so it proved. This is the track:

Tommy James and the Shondells: Crimson and Clover

When I looked it up the familiarity was explained - it's the same riff as "Sweet Jane". I'm hopeless at things like that, I could never hear the "Sympathy for the Devil" bassline in "Loaded" for instance. As well as this fascinating nugget I also found out Tommy and the Shondells were responsible for "Mony Mony". I was of course aware of this song through the Billy Idol version and I've even got the Celia and the Mutations version somewhere. I'd always assumed the original was an old Motown number.

Anyway I found this and was so struck by it I decided that it was going to be the first embedded thingy to grace the blog. I like Billy Idol as much as the next man, but the raucous funkiness of the original leaves him sounding very plastic in comparison. And check out Tommy's jacket - you've got to admire the man for carrying that off so well with the beads. And I love his jerky little dance - he's helped out slightly I think by some editing - like everybody looks like a good dancer under strobe lights. He comes over very Ian Svenonius, which is to say very cool indeed.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

From the vaults

I don't know why but this was one of the first songs I thought to transfer to MP3 when I got my magic turntable. Ultra Vivid Scene's American-ness made them slight oddities in the very English scene that they became associated with (probably on account of the fuzziness of the guitars on their biggest tune "The Mercy Seat"). I think they were a bit over rated really, "The Mercy Seat" is an okay song and everybody loves "The Kindest Cut". But this b - side is probably my favourite, on it Kurt Ralske's irritatingly wan vocals come into their own lending the song a suitable effete air.

Ultra Vivid Scene Codeine