A Mix-Tape Maker’s Best Friend

Been a while since I wrote one of these, but the news this week that there will no longer be a print version of the NME has spurred me into life.

I can’t really shed a tear for the NME moving to an online presence only; I haven’t read it for fifteen years or so, certainly haven’t bought it since Emo was a thing, and have never managed to pick up a free copy outside a tube station in London.

I did, however, purchase it semi-religiously from the late 1980s until the very late 1990s. Just like everyone has a Dr Who that is “theirs”, who resonates with their youth, so it is with the NME. I wish I could say that I bought it when Danny Baker et al were the scribes in residence, but my time involved the likes of Andrew Collins, Stuart Maconie, Stephen Dalton, Tom Hibbert, David Quantick, Barbara Ellen, Mary Anne Hobbs and Steve Lamacq. Looking at that list explains why I listen to BBC 6Music so much these days.

The NME was renowned for attaching the occasional cassette to the front cover; regrettably I was too late to grab a copy of the seminal C86 tape at the time, however I did go and purchase today’s selection, which was released in 1988 in conjunction with, and to raise funds for, Childline, a free 24-hour counselling service for children.

The Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father was released to mark the 21st anniversary of the original release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, and as I’m typing this, it seems just unbelievable that another thirty years have passed since then.

The idea was this: get current bands to record cover versions of every track on the album. And so it was that the tribute album was born.

As with many albums of this sort, it’s patchy to say the least. But here’s the tracks I like the most from it. And that one by Wet Wet Wet, which I include purely because it was released as a double ‘A’ side with Billy Bragg’s cover on the other side, which led to Simon Bates having to say on Top of the Pops, after the Wetx3s had mimed their smiley asses off, the following words: “That’s number one, and the other side is number one as well. Here’s Billy Bragg.”

Billy Bragg at #1 in the UK Charts. The stuff that dreams are made of.


Wet Wet Wet – With A Little Help From My Friends

The Wedding Present with Amelia Fletcher – Getting Better

Billy Bragg with Cara Tivey – She’s Leaving Home

Frank Sidebottom – Being For Benefit Of Mr. Kite

Sonic Youth – Within You Without You

Michelle Shocked – Lovely Rita

The Triffids – Good Morning Good Morning

The Fall – A Day In The Life

A few years later, I was travelling somewhere (I forget where) with a friend who was a massive Beatles fan. He had asked me to put together a mix-tape for the journey, which for reasons that escape me now, I gave to him in advance of our trip to listen to. I included The Fall track, which he took exception to.

“Who the hell is that murdering A Day In The Life?”, he asked before I had clicked the seatbelt into place.

I looked at him, baffled, bemused.

“It’s The Fall. Obviously. It’s obviously The Fall. And they’ve not murdered it. They’ve Fall’ed it.”

I wonder if, after Mark E Smith’s death in January, he is claiming to have listened to The Fall since the late 80s. I know he occasionally reads this, so I’ll report back.

More soon.


How To Do a Cover Version

Oh go on then. Since I mentioned it, here’s the covers of all the songs which featured in the last post, lifted from that wonderful tribute album, “If I Were A Carpenter”.


Redd Kross – Yesterday Once More

I played this next one as the first record at a friend’s wedding a couple of years ago. Nobody thought I was even half as clever as I did.

Grant Lee Buffalo – We’ve Only Just Begun

Sonic Youth – Superstar

American Music Club – Goodbye to Love

They’re all great, of course, but as great or better than the originals? Hmm. Not sure. Damned close.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

…and we’re back in the room.

I thought we might all need a little something to shake us out of our post-Christmas, post-New Year, post-Hogmanay fug, so we’re going L-O-U-D this week.

First up, a band who to my mind have never quite fulfilled their early promise. This though is a belter, given an extra boost with a truly awesome Erol Alkan remix:


61. Interpol – Mammoth (Erol Alkan Rework)

That includes the kind of slightly-longer-than-you-were-expecting breakdown guaranteed to cause dancers to stop and stare quizzically in the direction of the decks whilst the DJ frantically tries to work out if the PA system has conked out or not.

Next: don’t fret, this isn’t a theme starting:


62. Tame Impala – Elephant

A much over-looked band and album next, over-looked that is until the next track featured in a recent advert for Virgin Holidays:


63. El Goodo – Feel So Fine

Touch of the Super Furries about that sleeve, and that’s not where the similarities end. Also hailing from South Wales, the album was mixed by Cian Ciaran, and in fact Super Furries had them opening for them on several UK dates back in 2005. If you’re looking for something to fill the void whilst you wait in hope for some new Super Furries material, you could do a lot worse than invest in a copy of their “Coyote” album.

Now, as a bridge to cranking the volume up some more, a band renowned for their loud-quiet-loud sound, so much so that the documentary made about them bore the same name.


64. Pixies – Bone Machine

Not one of their louder efforts, to be fair, but it’s my old mate Llyr’s favourite track by them, and every time I hear it I think of him, so I don’t need any other excuse to post this one.

Because if you want loud, well here you go:


65. Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene

Back in the late 1980s, when I was at college, BBC2 used to have a half-hour alternative music show called SNUB TV, which aired around seven in the evening, so round about the time I would have been getting out of bed. Such was the case when this came on:

Blimey, that takes me back. Such was the impact of that single that I insisted on us playing it in the band I was in during my time at college. But more of that some other time.

Keeping things loud and kool:


66. Sonic Youth – Kool Thing

Kim Gordon: if not the coolest, then definitely in the top 5, coolest women in rock ever. Factoid.

And for the final two, just loud and utterly wonderful:


67. My Bloody Valentine – You Made Me Realise

At least one of my regular readers will not be clicking that link, so much does they hate that one. Totally unfounded. If the Interpol remix had a wonderful breakdown, then this has the opposite, a climactic repetitive thrashing of guitars which goes on and on and on as a bridge until the tune, such as it is kicks in again. I haven’t made that sound anywhere near as hypnotically ear-bleedingly wonderful as that is.

And to finish things off, a cautionary tale of talking to drunken bar flies:


68. Senseless Things – Homophobic Asshole

More soon.