I Am The Mouth

Slowly but surely I’m plugging my way through all of the Glastonbury footage I recorded last weekend.

I have to say I’ve been a little disappointed with the BBC coverage, which seems to focus on the headliners, with a passing glimpse of anything else. That’s all very well, but anyone who’s been to Glasto knows there’s always things tucked away lower down on the bill or on an obscure stage that deserves some attention. By which I mean, of course, where was the Quo’s Friday night headline set on the Acoustic Stage?

Anyway, a little surprise which popped up was a set by The Killers on the John Peel Stage. Who knew The Killers were still a thing?

You know the John Peel Stage. Devoted to the new, up and coming bands. Like, erm, the Killers.

I’ll be fair: Killers’ main man Brandon Flowers had a self-deprecating take on it: “They say you play the John Peel Stage twice in your career,” he announced. “Once on the way up, once on the way down. It’s good to be back,” .

So anyway, watch The Killers and you know they’re going to finish with “Mr Brightside” and you know they’re going to play that frigging awful song about having soul but not being a soldier, which really doesn’t work as an analogy and which I’ve always struggled to understand the popularity of.

It struck me that “Mr Brightside” is the tune which always gets churned out at Indie nights, usually at close to chucking out time, which prompted me to write this post, pointing out there’s better songs than those mentioned in their back catalogue. Not many, but some.

Now, I must admit I have a bit of a soft spot for “Somebody Told Me”, which I think is a much over-looked absolute belter of a record.

But there’s another single of there’s which wasn’t included in the highlights of their set showed on the BBC (I don’t think; I watched much of it on fast forward).

I mean this:

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The Killers – Bones

Although I must admit, part of the reason I like that tune is the Tim Burton directed video, which surprisingly doesn’t feature Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter:

Oh and since I mentioned it, here’s “Somebody Told Me”.

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The Killers – Somebody Told Me

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

Having revived two of the regular threads over the weekend, I may as well go for the hat-trick.

I could tell you that I’ve not written one of these for a while because I’ve been considering which artist to focus on next, but I don’t for a second think you’d believe that, knowing how lazy I can be when it comes to writing regular posts.

But there is a grain of truth in my excuse, for when you’re trying to pick a record from the extensive body of work that Primal Scream have in their rear view mirror, it’s not a straight forward task.

And that’s because, seemingly with every album, their “sound” seems to change. I mean, they’ve released albums full of floppy-fringed jingly-jangly indie pop songs (1987’s “Sonic Flower Groove”), an album of ground-breaking indie-dance cross-over music (1991’s “Screamadelica” – and yes, I appreciate that my description of that one really doesn’t do it any justice), “Exile on Main Street” template (1994’s “Give Out But Don’t Give Up”), followed by three albums (1997’s “Vanishing Point”, 2000’s “XTRMNTR” and 2002’s “Evil Heat”) where they most definitely stepped back from the sort of eclectic mix we were used to hearing from them, each more electronic, more experimental than anything that had released before (which hadn’t been worked on by Messrs. Weatherall and Farley, that is).

So, perhaps when choosing something which doesn’t normally get played “out”, we first need to rule out those that do.

So – no “Movin’ On Up”, no “Loaded”, no “Rocks”, no “Country Girl” then; those in my experience are the tunes most played out. And since “Loaded” is a no-no, so too then, awesome track though it is, must be “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have”, the song from which “Loaded” was born.

Although, back at college, when I DJ’d the fortnightly Indie Night, there were two girls, Sian and Joan, who would always ask me to play that; I, of course, would happily oblige, but always played it early as nobody else would know what it was. They didn’t care, as it meant they had the whole dancefloor to themselves. (NB – standard DJ trick that. Get girls up and dancing and, provided you pick the right record next, others will follow). So, it was a kind of reciprocal, if unspoken, deal. And if I played it right, then maybe, just maybe, one or two of the other five people who used to turn up would join in.

But nowadays? Well, I’d love to plump for “Imperial” from “Sonic Flower Groove”, although you could only really get away with that if you were DJ’ing at a niche C-86-esque indie night.

Or “Ivy Ivy Ivy” from the “Primal Scream” album, a great little rocker that seemingly very few remember.

But instead, I’m going to pick one from those three albums I mentioned earlier. I refer the to as “Primal Sceam: The Kraut-Rock” years, which isn’t really all that accurate, although these ears detect the influence of bands like Can on many of the tunes from this particular purple patch.

There’s one song which I really want to post, but it’s going to make an appearance shortly in my already-tedious political posts (so, no prizes for guessing which song that’s going to be), so instead, the closing track from “XTRMNTR”, which only now, as I’m writing this, do I find out wasn’t a single in the UK:

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Primal Scream – Shoot Speed/Kill Light

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

Shortly after I came up with the idea for what is now a hypothetical Indie night (just to recap: this was to play the songs by Indie acts which got forgotten in favour of more established dance floor fillers; indie music for the discerning palate, if you will) I  met up with my older brother.

We had a few drinks and discussed, first and foremost, music; we’re a long way down the road from when we were kids and we’d rather expose ourselves on the school bus than admit to liking the same music as our sibling.

In fact, for the past twenty five to thirty years or so, we’ve both given each other tips and nudges (and the occasional mp3 or burnt CD, which we later went on to purchase from a reputable dealer) about who we were listening to and who we thought the other would like.

Anyway, in this conversation, we started talking about bands who most people (and I don’t mean you, discerning reader, of course) hadn’t heard of, but who had obviously influenced an artist who was very much “of the moment”.

So I decided to extend the remit of the “I Am The Mouth” night (which has never happened) to include songs which had clearly made an impact on current acts.

And here are the two we were talking about. First, C86 stalwarts, The Shop Assistants:

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The Shop Assistants – Safety Net

and then, The Long Blondes:

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The Long Blondes – Once and Never Again

Hmmm. Now I listen to it again, that chord progression over the chorus reminds me of something else…

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The Smiths – I Want the One I Can’t Have

…which of course was borrowed for this Top Ten’er that I deftly avoided posting recently:

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The Housemartins – Happy Hour

More soon, don’t you know.

I Am The Mouth

I was watching “Broadchurch” the other week, and there was a scene, a flashback to a party, that caused my ears to prick up when I heard the song that was being played.

It was “Laid” by James, which, given the lyrics of that song, and the fact that the plot of the TV show is the investigation into a serious sexual assault, struck me as being a tad on the inappropriate side.

It occurred to me that “Laid” has become very much the go-to record for DJ’s wishing to play a song by James, but it hasn’t always been thus.

Prior to the success of “Laid”, you could bet your bottom dollar that “Sit Down” would be the preferred choice. Some of you may not be old enough to remember (who am I kidding?), but when “Sit Down” got played out, back when it made its way to No. 2 in the UK charts back in 1991, people – and by people, I mean students – would literally sit down on the dance floor. Which isn’t quite the reaction a DJ is hoping for, if I’m honest.

This used to happen every time I played “Sit Down” when I was DJ’ing at Uni; at first I wondered if it was some kind of protest against me playing it. Nope. Turns out that they thought they were being cool.

Well, I couldn’t be having that, not on my watch. So I brought this annoying trend to an abrupt halt, by playing it, and then putting up a message on the screens around the room, proclaiming “If anyone sits on the dance floor to this, you have my permission to kick them.”

The other way to avoid such misguided attempts to look cool, of course, was to simply play a different record by James; the “Gold Mother” album, whilst marking the band’s first steps away from their more folky original sound, was massive at the time, and offered a couple of alternative tunes which guaranteed the dancefloor would be filled by people of a vertical persuasion: the wonderful “Come Home” (the Flood mix, of course) and today’s choice:

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James – How Was It For You?

Which, now I think about it, isn’t any more of an appropriate song for them to have used on that scene in “Broadchurch” either.

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

All the links on yesterday’s long-overdue Chain to all things Blur made me realise they were yet to feature in this section.

Well, that makes today’s choice of record a no-brainer, since there is one early Blur single which is so overlooked that the band didn’t even bother to include it on their “Best of…” album.

Let me get something straight: “The Best of Blur” was not a “Best of..”, it was a Greatest Hits album, the title chosen because of it’s alliteration.

And how do I know it’s a Greatest Hits album? Because every track on it was a hit single, that’s how.

If it was a “Best of…” album then it would contain a smattering of album tracks. It would have “Tracy Jacks” on it for a start.

But no, today’s track was bumped in preference to the extremely shonky “Music is My Radar”, one of those “Exclusive New Tracks!” which have absolutely no right appearing on a “Best of…” compilation at all, especially not when it’s at the expense of one of the brighter highlights among many highlights of a band.

I’m thinking, of course, of their fourth single, the one that bridges the gap between debut album “Leisure” and follow-up “Modern Life is Rubbish” whilst appearing on neither; of a single which criminally only peaked at number 32 in the UK charts in 1992.

I’m thinking, of course, of “Popscene”:

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Blur – Popscene

I don’t need to say anymore, do I?

Thought not.

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

Blimey, where does the time go? Has it really been three weeks since I wrote one of these?

Well, this is a pretty straight-forward one.

Moloko were a duo from Sheffield comprising of Mark Brydon (a musician and producer who had previously worked with the likes of Chakk, Sly and Robbie, Human League, Psychic TV, Boy George, Art of Noise, Cabaret Voltaire, Krush and, erm, The Funky Worm) and Róisín Murphy (who hadn’t). The two met at a party in 1994 when Murphy approached Brydon with the chat-up line: “Do you like my tight sweater?” All of my sweaters are tight, I suspect not for the reason that Murphy’s was though.

The only record I’ve ever heard played out by Moloko is “Sing it Back”. That’s a great record, such a great record that today’s choice never gets a look in, which is a shame, because it has exactly the sort of groove, propelled along by a brass riff (I’m sure someone will now point out to me it’s not brass, it’s woodwind, but I’m pretty sure it’s a saxophone) which lends itself to some rather exotic shape pulling on the dancefloor. At least it does in my living room when nobody else is looking and I’ve had a few. Which is often.

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Moloko – Pure Pleasure Seeker

More soon.

I Am the Mouth

The issues with posting mp3 links which caused me a problem with this week’s “This is Pop” thread seem to have reappeared, so this weeks’ edition of “The Chain” is going to be delayed, I’m afraid. It sorted itself out last time, so “The Chain” will appear soon enough. In the meantime, to fill the void, I’ve already written all of this week’s posts, so I’ll start posting them a little early.

There’s much to love about The Charlatans, so it’s slightly odd that more often than not the tune by them that gets played out is their first Top 10 single “The Only One I Know” from way back in 1990, or their biggest hits, both from 1996, “One to Another” and “North Country Boy”.

It’s the song which they always close their live set with which gets the thumbs up from me; originally released as a single in 1991, this is the US version which popped on the B-Side of “Weirdo” a year later:

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The Charlatans – Sproston Green (US Version)

Majestic.

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

When was the last time you heard a record by The Housemartins being played out that wasn’t “Happy Hour”?

Apart from when “Caravan of Love” gets its annual outing in department stores on the run up to Christmas (so, anytime from early September onwards), I mean.

Take nothing away from “Happy Hour”, it’s a bloody great tune. At the end of the video, there are three of the four members of the band dancing solo (drummer Hugh Whitaker doesn’t strut his stuff; in 1993, he was jailed for for assaulting his former business associate with an axe and setting fire to his house on three occasions, so he probably had other things on his mind at the time); when we were at college, me and my mate Keith would emulate guitarist Stan Cullimore’s moves (not be confused with former Ulrika botherer, dogger and professional footballer Stan Collymore) performing what we used to refer to as ‘The Wacky Stan Dance’.

It’s odd that’s pretty much the only record by The Housemartins that gets an airing; they were a consistent singles band, but only ever released nine, so it’s not as if there’s too many to choose from.

Rarely, for example, do you ever hear this one, an absolute rip-roaring belter, which was written on the same day as “Happy Hour”:

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The Housemartins – Me and The Farmer

Oh go on then, here’s the “Happy Hour” video, just so you can check out that dance:

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

Two for the price of one again today at the Alternative Alternative Disco, where often overlooked or just plain forgotten records by Indie acts past and present are dusted down and given an airing.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always had a bit of a thing for female fronted Indie bands; if I thought about it, I’d probably say this can be generally be traced back to my childhood love of Blondie and then The Pretenders.

But if I wanted to look specifically at Indie bands, then there’s no doubt we’re talking about The Primitives.

Hailing from Coventry, The Primitives success flared briefly. I first stumbled across them – no surprises here – when listening to John Peel, although truth be told they had already crossed my radar, for I’d seen a photo of Morrissey wearing a t-shirt for their excellent “Stop Killing Me” single (I know have this as a painting, hanging on my living room wall). But it was courtesy of Peel that I first heard one of their records – “Thru The Flowers”, the first record I bought by them.

A few months later, their debut album, the appropriately titled “Lovely” was released, and my love of them was further strengthened when I bought a copy of their album from the local Our Price store, where the chap on the till commended me on my choice. I don’t think that ever happened again, or if it did, I don’t remember it. It’s never as good as the first time.

As well as containing the aforementioned singles and a whole host of other equally, erm, lovely jangly guitar pop jewels, there was the smash hit “Crash”, which peaked at #5 in the UK Chart. It was the first time a band I had championed prior to them having some chart success had a hit, and I felt vindicated.

Their fame was short-lived; they soon usurped (equally briefly) by Transvision Vamp as the peroxide blonde fronted band of choice. The follow-up album, “Pure” had less memorable songs and although a couple of them – today’s choice included – were minor hits, their moment in the sun had gone.

Today’s choices come from the 12″ single released in the wake of “Lovely” and as a precursor to “Pure”; the single itself could easily feature in my fledgling “Clap, Clicks & Whistles” thread (and probably will, in a few months, when hopefully you’ve all  forgotten about me posting it here), and the other song was the second track on the B-side of the 12″, and was the song I was thinking of when I got distracted and posted the Inspiral Carpets instead a couple of weeks ago. It’s an absolute belter, despite the decision to alleviate the lovely Tracey Tracey of lead vocals and allow lead guitarist PJ Court have a go instead.

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The Primitives – Way Behind Me

The Primitives – All The Way Down (Beat Version)

The Primitives reformed back in 2009, and have received some pretty warm reviews for their new material; I was lucky enough to catch them live (for the first time) when they supported The Wedding Present at Koko in Camden in 2010 as part of their tour to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the “Bizarro” album.

I’d heard a few live recordings by them back when they were in their pomp and found them to be a little disappointing, so I approached the gig with more than a little trepidation. I need not have worried, they were great, dashing out much of the “Lovely” album along with others from their not so large back catalogue.

To my eternal shame though, as one late 80s classic ended, just as Tracey announced “We’re going to do one of our new songs now”, I turned to my mate Gary and, in a voice in a lot louder than I had intended, asked “Pint?”

Oh come one, we’ve all thought that at sometime or another when a reformed band makes that mid-gig announcement, haven’t we?

(Sorry Tracey.)

More soon.

I Am The Mouth

I didn’t really expect to revisit the output of one Stewart Godard aka Adam Ant so soon after starting this thread, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

On Saturday night, when I was out enjoying some gorgeous nosh, a friend and occasional reader of these pages and I got chatting about the reruns on Top of the Pops I mentioned the other day.

He’s a little younger than I am, though not as much as he claims, and we were talking, amongst other things, about which editions we could actually remember seeing.

I do have a vague recollection of seeing Sparks, mainly because Ron Mael’s curious moustache and death stare, though I wold struggle to say which song I saw them perform.

But when one of the editions I did remember when got reshown, I found myself bellowing “Yes! Four stages Adam!”

Which sounds like some kind of recovery plan, but in reality refers to the time that Adam Ant performed today’s tune – which never gets played out, and I have no idea why, because it’s such an absolute gem – and practically was given free reign of the Top of the Pops studio.

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Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes

And here, if you’re interested, is that multi-stage performance on Top of the Pops:

Kudos to the Top of the Pops producers for recognising a genuine pop star and allowing him to do what he wants, even if it is a bit Benny Hill in places, and does feature Adam frankly not being arsed to lip-sync at one point, and also allowing him to display his proficiency on the polystyrene crumbling column as an instrument.

But still, “Goody Two Shoes” is one hell of a record: a blistering assault on the media’s obsession with digging up the dirt on the famous and successful. Oh, how so very little changes.

More soon.