KLF Communications 1993. 3AM1
I’m endlessly amused by KLF pranks, well the ones that worked anyway. This was an especially good one – performing their stadium house anthem on that most family orientated of music shows, Christmas TOTP with thrash metal band Extreme Noise Terror. Music is way too dominated by the marketing men, so it’s really refreshing to see something as stupid as this kick down the doors into the mainstream. At the end of the performance, Bill Drummond fired a machine gun into the audience, and it was announced that the KLF had left the music business. They duly split and deleted their lucrative back catalogue, and apart from a handful of fairly low key projects have been true to their word.
As a record I quite like it. Yes, it is a joke but it works better than you might think, not that it inspired me to buy any more ENT stuff.
Philips 1955. PB428
Not listed on Discogs
My Dad asked me to make a CD from a very damaged 78rpm acetate he made as a child in the 1940s. It was quite a labour of love getting anything audible from it but I got there in the end. It meant of course that I had to reconfigure my vinyl rig to play 78s, which takes much longer to do properly than you might think. Anyway, now it’s done, and it’ll take a similar amount of time to get it back to its usual state, I thought I’d explore a big box of 78s a neighbour gave me years ago.
My neighbour didn’t have great taste in music but I came across a few interesting bits and pieces. Rosemary Clooney was George Clooney’s aunt, but what’s interesting to me about this disc is that it contains the original version (I think) of a song Robert Wyatt covered on the B side of his goosebump inducing single, Shipbuilding. It’s a great song, as you’d expect, and predictably, Wyatt performs it much better than gorgeous George’s aunt did, but it’s an interesting listen if you’re a Robert Wyatt obsessive like me.
Get the Wyatt version on the Greatest Misses compilation.
It’s been quite a revelation to me how good 78s sound played on a decent turntable properly set up for the job. OK there’s some surface noise, but it’s mostly not intrusive, and with most of them, there’s not much wrong with the way they sound.
This is a long way from being the best record I’ve posted on this blog, although by my reckoning, it isn’t the worst either. At least it gets away from the endless indiepop. In reality I’m quite the musical magpie; I listen to all manner of genres, but reading this blog you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m stuck in a late 80s Creation time warp. Thing is, that was the time I was buying a lot of vinyl – as I moved onto other genres, I also moved to CDs.
Mercury 1989. Mercury 876 231-1
Electribe 101 were a short-lived project championed by Peel, as was so much on this blog, but which folded due to an unjust lack of commercial success and stupid arguments with their label.
They were, in theory a house music band, composed of 4 electronics geeks from Birmingham and a rather wonderful but improbably named German singer; Billie Ray Martin. The result was a slick but soulful sound which sounded rather incongruous when Peel played it, but he was spot on about how good they were.
Billie Ray Martin, as befits someone with such a great voice has had a long and interesting career since, but I’m not at all certain what happened top the rest of the band. By an odd co-incidence this track was written by Larry Heard, aka Mr Fingers.
Drag City 2009. DC422
This is a single of covers of occasional Oldham collaborator Susanna Wallumrod’s songs, and while it feels like something of an afterthought, these are captivating songs, delivered as usual with Oldham’s intensity.
The A side is rather sombre, but is a beautifully sung and recorded piece which you’ll love if you’re into BPB. The B side is live and sounds distinctly rough, but if anything the song works better than the A side and is worth the effort with the murky sound.
Pink Records 1985. PINKY5
While it’s true that the June Brides were as successful as they were partly because they were one of the first jangly indie bands, they also made some fine records, of which this is one. They were very much associated with Creation in their early days, although never recorded for the label – too obvious apparently. Main man Phil Wilson went on to record solo material for the label though. They supported the Smiths because Morrissey loved them and they were, for a while, darlings of the music press.
This was their only album and it’s very short, much like their career, but never mind the width, feel the quality. As I say endlessly on this blog, it’s the songwriting which really shines, and for some reason I’m a total sucker for indiepop songs with trumpet parts, which this has lots of.
The band have jumped on the indiepop revival bandwagon and have reformed. I have no idea whether their new stuff is any good (it’s well reviewed), but you can get it here.
Rising High 1994. RSNLP23
By 1994 I was getting a bit bored of indiepop and had moved on to experimental electronica. There’s not been much of that here because by then I’d almost stopped buying vinyl after a traumatic washing machine flood damaged quite a bit of my stash (now resurrected thanks to a fancy record cleaning machine). For some reason though, this did get bought on vinyl.
It’s an overlooked ambient classic, following on from the KLF’s liberation of the genre from the highbrow (Eno) and the crusties (Tangerine Dream). It makes more than a passing nod to those pioneers, but it is also very much of its time – in a good way. I’ve always been quite label-centric, and this partly caught my eye because of that; Rising High produced some of the most interesting electronic releases back then.
This doesn’t seem at all experimental listening to it almost 20 years after its release. It’s accessible and melodic, albeit with some very long tracks. It worked well as I read the paper with the rain hammering down outside.
Factory 1990. FAC298
Everything Starts With An A has had an absolute frenzy lately of posting Factory stuff, so here’s a modest contribution to the project from me.
Northside were very much part of the Madchester baggy thing which was all good fun when I was a student, although quite a departure from Factory’s more usual arty output. They seem to have been mostly forgotten about, but this single still stands up well I think.
London 1965. HL-R 9968
I picked this up quite recently in a charity shop. Burt Bacharach (mostly working with lyricist Hal David) was one of the truly great writers of pop songs, mostly recorded by other people. His own easy listening style is not one I like but this is such a beautiful song that I couldn’t resist it.
Rough Trade 1989. RTD137
I’m not sure why I have a German copy of this – the UK issue was of course on Creation. It was the follow up to the rather wonderful Tender Pervert, and while it continued his great songwriting and his especially sharp lyrics, it marked the start of his irritating journey into third rate electronica. It’s best to try to screen that out and concentrate on what Momus does best – if you do, the album will reward your efforts.
The album includes a favourite of mine, Right Hand Heart which I’ve already posted a demo version of. The demo is such a favourite that I’ve done a shiny new rip of it because my new cartridge picks up a lot less surface noise. Get it here.
NME 1985. GIV1
Back in the 80s, British music papers sometimes gave away 7″ singles. They often included exclusive tracks by interesting artists and at a time when music was expensive to buy and I was broke, I was pleased to have them. The downside was that they always played at 33, had way too much music crammed onto them and so sounded terrible. However, for dull technical reasons, my vinyl rig is particularly good at extracting what little sound quality there is on these discs, so I’ve been ripping some of them over the last few days.
This one is of particular interest because it includes an exclusive Smiths track from a show they did in Oxford. Most of that gig has appeared in various places in decent sound quality, but this track only ever appeared on this single. The whole gig is crying out to be issued as an official live album, but there’s no sign of that happening, so right now, this is as good as you’ll get. There’s also a nice Cocteau Twins track – a re-recording of Ivo, a Bronski Beat track which I rather like, and finally U2 which is not my thing at all.
The sound quality isn’t great and it crackles a bit, but it’s listenable and worth it for the rarity of the material on it.