Acoustic Afternoons

Ever since I posted that Glen Campbell cover of the Foo Fighters track, then the acoustic Foo Fighters track, followed by The Sundays track on…erm…Sunday, I’ve found myself generating towards acoustic records, and in particular acoustic versions of songs that I have in my record collection.

Since the wet weather more associated with the British summer time seems to have returned, thereby outing my usual splurge of summer tunes on ice for a while at least, I thought I’d share a few of them with you, every now and then, when I can be bothered. Another of my sporadic themed posts that pop up every now and then, if you like.

Of course, if I’m going to talk about artists doing acoustic versions of their own songs, it’s impossible not to mention the behemoth of the genre: MTV Unplugged.

So there, I’ve mentioned them, but to be honest I want to avoid those records as much as possible, as I figure most of you will know those recordings already. Instead, I’d prefer to have a look some lesser known ones.

Having said that, there are a couple from the MTV Unplugged series that I will feature – no, not the Nirvana one, what would be the point? – but ones which are perhaps less well known, particularly on this side of the pond, or have had a particular effect on me.

And so here’s one of those.

In 1993, 10,000 Maniacs recorded and released their Unplugged album and it, like many of their earlier albums, did little over here, with the possible exception of their cover of the Springsteen-penned “Because The Night”.

But, in the words of the host of a now defunct gameshow: we don’t want to give you that one.

Instead this, the original version of which appeared on 1992’s Our Time in Eden album, and is good, but this live, acoustic version knocks that one into a cocked hat, whatever that means.

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10,000 Maniacs – Stockton Gala Days(MTV Unplugged)

I adore lead singer Natalie Merchant’s voice, but sadly this album turned out to be her last recording with the band. She quit shortly afterwards, embarking on a solo career. The band, after a brief hiatus, continued without her. But neither of their subsequent careers are a patch on what they created as a whole.

Which is a bit of a shame, in my book.

More soon.

Which Reminds Me…

After digging out that Foo Fighters acoustic album I featured in the last post, I found myself thinking of this, a tune that featured in The Chain quite some time ago, so the link’s probably dead by now.

So, I make no apologies for re-posting this, the opening track from one of my favourite albums. See, it’s a gorgeous song from a gorgeous album, which is just about perfect for rounding off the weekend. Certainly better than watching Ed Sheeran, anyway.

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The Sunday – Skin & Bones

More soon.

Promise Not to Stop When I Say When

OK, so Foo Fighters’ brand of kick-ass rock’n’roll may not be suitable for our Country Sunday morning slot, but what about now it’s Sunday afternoon?

Maybe not.

But back in 2006, they released a live acoustic album called “Skin and Bones”, 15 tracks split between new songs and acoustic renditions of old favourites.

Here’s the song they always close their set with:

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Foo Fighters – Everlong (Live and Acoustic)

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

As expected, Foo Fighters rawk and rolled with great gusto on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury last night. I’d love to post something by them this morning, but they don’t exactly fit the Country vibe we have going on here of a Sunday morning.

Lucky for us, then, that a few years ago Glenn Campbell recorded a cover of the song they opened with last night:

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Glen Campbell – Times Like These

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Just as it’s impossible to see everything you want to when you’re actually at Glastonbury, so it’s almost impossible to watch everything that the BBC screens from the biggest and best festival in the world. I have an awful lot stacked up on my recorded/to watch list.

I’m writing this before the Foo Fighters headline the Saturday night (I’ve seen them a couple of times before – once supporting Oasis in Cardiff, which has always struck me as being the wrong way round, and once headlining at Hyde Park, with Motorhead, and Queens of the Stone Age supporting them – and I expect them to be fricking awesome), but my highlights so far have been The Pretenders, Royal Blood, Lorde, Katy Perry and, of course Radiohead.

The Oxford group delivered a breath-taking set, getting the balance of their more avant-garde bleepy moments and The Hits just about right.

One particular highlight was their rendition of “No Surprises”, not least for the spontaneous cheer that goes up after the line “Bring down the Government, they don’t speak for us”:

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Radiohead – No Surprises (Live at Glastonbury 2017)

To mark the 20th anniversary of the original release of the OK Computer album that first featured on, the band have recently released a remastered and expanded version of the album; here’s the same song lifted from that:

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Radiohead – No Surprises (OKNOTOK Remastered Version)

And finally, around the time of the original release of OK Computer, the band developed a reputation for producing visually stunning videos. I’ll leave you with the promo for “No Surprises”. Don’t have nightmares, now will you?

More soon.

A Mix-Tape Maker’s Best Friend #2

So, after last week’s post on compilation albums, Swiss Adam from Bagging Area got in touch to say he had no issues with me writing a few more, since he gets tired of doing series posts very quickly.

I know exactly what he means: every now and then I’ll think of a song I want to write about, think of another song, and then I’m off!…only for it to peter out a couple of weeks later when I can’t think of a third.

In evidence, I give you my “You Couldn’t Get Away With This Nowadays” series. Seemed a great idea at the time. First Post in Series: December 4th 2016. Last Post in Series: January 8th 2017. Total series posts: 3.

Anyway, Swiss’s magnanimous gesture means I can squeeze a few posts out of this, so here’s another one which I bought – yes, bought, not peeled off the front of a magazine like last week’s featured cassette.

Released in 1986, “Purveyors of Taste” was a Creation compilation, seven tracks by bands from the label’s roster, and each one quite magnificent.

Tracks from this album featured regularly on the tapes I used to prepare for the sixth-form common room, which I used to record on my Dad’s stereo, situated in the dining room of the family home. Often, the vinyl I had used would remain there for a few days, and I used to ensure that I left this one at the front of the pile I had brought, because I knew it really annoyed my Mum. Can’t think why:

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The Bodines – Therese

One of two songs to feature here as well as on the seminal NME “C86”compilation, this is an absolute stone cold classic, a phrase which I will undoubtedly be repeating before this post is done.

Felt – I Didn’t Mean To Hurt You

The first record I ever heard or owned by Felt. In fact, until I bought this album, I don’t think I’d even heard of Lawrence (from Felt); now I own records not just by Felt, but by Lawrence in later guises Denim and Go-Kart Mozart. Knowing Lawrence, there’s doubtless numerous other projects he has been involved in that I’m not aware of. He also looms large in Song Man, a novel by Will Hodgkinson, about, as the cover blurb puts it: “One Man’s Mission to Write the Perfect Pop Song”. Chapter One is called, simply: “Lawrence”, and if you’re going to start trying to write the Perfect Pop Song, then I can think of worse places to start than with Lawrence. (I’m looking at you, Cowell.) You can get the book here if you fancy it (although I’d much rather you bought it from a company that doesn’t avoid paying it’s taxes).

For a good chunk of their history, Felt also featured a keyboard player, called Martin Duffy, who many of you will recognise as being a stalwart of this next lot:

Primal Scream – Velocity Girl

What is left to say about this, the opening track on “C86”, that hasn’t already been said? This is the reason I bought this album (this and The Bodines track); my brother owned “C86” on vinyl, and I wanted to own those two songs all for myself too. Quite simply, it’s perhaps the most perfect 1:22 ever committed to vinyl. A…wait for it…stone cold classic.

The Jasmine Minks – Cold Heart

Although in 1984, the NME named them as one of the eighteen most hopeful bands in Britain (is hopeful the same as promising….?), The Jasmine Minks are one of those bands that, although they released some great stuff, never quite made it. There’s some lovely stuff in their back catalogue, “Cold Heart” being a particular high-point.

Biff Bang Pow! – Love’s Going Out of Fashion

Named after a song by one of Creation boss Alan McGee’s favourite bands, The Creation, and featuring McGee himself on vocals and guitar (and, at one point, Andrew Innes, albeit on a part-time basis, and also of Primal Scream fame), Biff Bang Pow! are another band who, for reasons I’ve never fully understood, especially when you consider McGee’s involvement, never quite made it.

The Weather Prophets – Like Frankie Lymon

As with Felt, my first encounter of a band who I came to love very much. I was completely oblivious that the band had risen from the ashes of The Loft, who of course had made waves in the world of indie records a few years earlier with “Up The Hill and Down The Slope”. Lead singer Pete Astor is still doing the rounds, and I can heartily recommend his 2016 album “Spilt Milk”.

Meat Whiplash – Don’t Slip Up

It’s a shame that this has to be the song to end the album; it’s the only one I’m not overly fond of, and the only band I’ve never really made any effort to get hold of any of their other stuff, which may be great, but since here they seem to me to a band trying their darnedest to sound like Psychocandy-era Jesus & Mary Chain (and not coming anywhere close), I’ve always thought: Why bother when I can just listen to it done properly? At which point Psychocandy gets the dust blown off it one more time.

A couple of bonuses for you, since I’ve mentioned them:

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The Creation – Biff, Bang, Pow

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The Loft – Up The Hill and Down The Slope

And, finally, I’ll try to leave you on a cheery note: just in case you don’t know who poor Frankie ‘dead-on-his-grandmother’s-bathroom-floor-from-a-heroin-overdose-at-the-age- of-25’ Lymon was, here he is:

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Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – Why Do Fools Fall in Love

More soon.

Replenishing The Vinyl

As a skint teenager, trying to sneak out of the house with a bag of vinyl that I considered to be surplus to requirements tucked under my arm and which I intended to sell, I encountered my Dad, who gave me some advice.

I’ve passed on this advice before on these pages, but it was a long time ago, so I don’t think there’s any harm in my sharing it again.

“Don’t sell your records,” he said, “you’ll regret it.”

Of course, skint teenager who thought he knew best that I was, I took absolutely no notice whatsoever, went into town and sold them.

Aand then, about three weeks later, went back into town and bought most of them back again, having realised he was totally right.

You’d think I’d have learned a valuable lesson that day, right? Wrong.

Fast forward ten years or so. It is the summer of 1996, as Bryan Adams dyslexically almost said, I’m living in Cardiff, and I want to go to the pub and watch England playing in Euro ’96. (Fear not, my Scottish friends, I wasn’t going to watch that game, so I shan’t be mentioning it.)

No, I was going to watch England play Spain in the quarter finals (that’s the knock-out stage, after Scotland had already gone home). Problem was, I was broke.

So I looked around the house I shared with my then-girlfriend, trying to find something which was definitely mine that I could flog off for enough money to buy a couple of pints and a packet of fags. And of course, pretty much the only thing I owned was a load of vinyl. So I picked out a few that I thought might be worth a couple of quid, and decided to take one along which in my opinion might be a little bit more valuable.

By the time I got to Kelly’s Records, upstairs in Cardiff’s Indoor Market, and got the attention of one of the blokes who worked there, I had, of course, completely forgotten about the inclusion the more valuable one, and took £15.00 for the lot.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when, with money burning a hole in my pocket again, I had gone back to Kelly’s Records to spend what I hoped to be a happy and productive afternoon flicking through their racks, that I realised my mistake. And I only realised then because they had it on display, with a price tag of £65.00 on it.

The record in question was The Pretenders’ “The Singles”, a Greatest Hits compilation (of course). And the reason it was priced at £65.00 was that it had been signed by Chrissie Hynde.

I should stress that, just as I’ve never met The Bluebells who had signed my recently purchased copy of their “Sisters” album I featured last week, so have I also never met Chrissie Hynde. I’d picked this up on a shopping expedition down to That London a few years earlier with a mate from Sixth Form; Chrissie had clearly been in a day or so beforehand for a signing session, and they hadn’t managed to shift them all. I was happy to help.

As with many compilation albums I bought when I was a kid, I used it as a guide as to which (proper) album I would buy next. After one listen, this was a no-brainer, and my next purchase – which I recently found was no longer amongst my vinyl collection and so I got myself a replacement copy – was their 1984 release “Learning to Crawl”.

I mention all of this today, because The Pretenders were the opening act on The Other Stage at Glastonbury yesterday. This is becoming a tradition (it’s probably been the case for a long time, but I only noticed it recently), where a well established and much-loved act kicks proceedings off. Last year, it was James, the year before, The Charlatans.

And this year, that honour fell to The Pretenders; highlights were on BBC4 last night, and Chrissie seemed in pretty good form.

So, here’s one of my favourite tunes from that album, the opening track, and it’s an absolute barn-stormer:

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The Pretenders – Middle of the Road

More soon.