Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Triffids at T(N)VV

Two days short of what would've been David McComb's 56th birthday, our mutual friend JC has done me the great honour of posting my Triffids Imaginary Compilation Album over at The (New) Vinyl Villain (here). As always when attempting to choose just ten tracks from a favourite artist, the final selection proved excruciatingly difficult to whittle down. In the end I tried for a representative mixture of the band's lighter and darker moments, sequenced into what I hope is a really balanced listen. Among the many other great Triffids songs that came under consideration as I fiddled and faffed with the final running order, was epic live favourite 'Field of Glass', which eventually only failed to make the cut by the smallest of margins. So imagine, if you will, that this is the hidden bonus track on the CD version of the compilation.

The Triffids - Field of Glass

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Builders and the Butchers

Mrs S & I are back at home, warming our extremities in front of the wood-burner at Swede Towers, after a few days spent in the freezing metropolis. Our proposed visit to Oxford was unfortunately reduced to the briefest of stopovers this time around, but we liked what we saw and hope to return for a longer stay one of these days. Before we hit the road, I grabbed a fistfull of CDs to soundtrack our jaunt, the first of which, pulled from the glove compartment at random as we sped out of Norfolk, was the 2007 debut album by Portland's The Builders and the Butchers. 'Bottom of the Lake' is a cautionary tale of what might transpire if you fail to settle your debts.

'...I had one outstanding loan I couldn't pay,
oh, but I will pay
'cos my life they stole away...' 

The Builders and the Butchers - Bottom of the Lake

Friday, 9 February 2018

Version City #68 - Micah P. Hinson sings The Carter Family

I'm somewhat surprised to find that I haven't featured anything from 'Micah P. Hinson Presents The Holy Strangers' on these pages before today, as the LP was one of my favourites of 2017. Mrs S & I have followed Micah's career ever since his 2004 debut 'The Gospel of Progress', where he was backed by much missed English folk-psych merchants par excellence, The Earlies. 'The Holy Strangers' is, whisper it, a concept album - or as Hinson himself would have it '....a “modern folk opera.” Telling the story of a war time family, going from birth to love, to marriage and children, to war and betrayal, murder to suicide – spanning all of the strange and glorious places life can lead.' The album stretches over two pieces of vinyl and not a minute of the hour long running time is wasted. It's an absorbing piece of work from a truly unique artist and comes highly recommended from all the gang at Swede Towers.

Micah P. Hinson - Lover's Lane 

The Carter Family - Lover's Lane

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Hippy Posed Engrossment

                                                         Steve Treatment pictured with Marc Bolan in 1976

A Marc Bolan & T.Rex obsessive who became fascinated by the DIY ethic of punk rock, Steve Treatment's early musical interests ran in parallel to my own. Steve's friends in the mid-seventies included post-punk noisemakers The Swell Maps, who played on his debut '5 Sided A Side' EP in 1978, albeit hidden behind the outrageous pseudonyms of Matilda Tank, Amphibious Landing Craft, Edrun Kübelwagen and RJ Half-Track. Two further Steve Treatment singles followed in 1979, each in a glorious home-made, photocopied sleeve crammed with photo montages, typewritten info and handwritten in-jokes. I bought all three of those singles at the time and I treasure them still. If I'd have had even one ounce of musical ability in 1978/9, I'm certain that I would've made a similarly glam infused, naive punk racket as Steve.

Steve Treatment died of pneumonia in 2015, at the tragically young age of 57.

Steve Treatment - The Hippy Posed Engrossment

Steve Treatment - Heaven Knows

Monday, 5 February 2018

She Had a Dark and a Roving Eye

Mrs S & I are out of town for the next few days, so the halls and corridors of Swede Towers have fallen silent. In fact, all being well, as you read these words we'll be in Oxford checking out the dreaming spires, plus the odd pub, gallery and coffee shop, before heading down into London's East End later in the week to visit my elderly Aunts. I'm a fairly regular visitor to Cambridge, that other great seat of learning, but have only ever been to Oxford once before and that was 45 years ago, so I don't recall an awful lot about the place. I'll report back with our impressions next week.

Here's the great Shirley Collins with 'The Oxford Girl', an ancient murder ballad that has appeared in many guises over the centuries. Shirley apparently heard this particular arrangement as 'The Wexport Girl', performed by Suffolk singer Phoebe Smith on a Topic Records LP. Shirley's reading of the song is taken from the 1970 record 'Love, Death and the Lady', made with her sister Dolly, a phenomenal album that remained on constant rotation in my car for well over a month late last year.

Shirley Collins - The Oxford Girl

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Drinking Lemonade Through a Plastic Straw

From Leeds in 1978, this is The Jerks with one of only three singles released during their four year existence. If you own a compilation album of second division punk bands, you may well find that it includes The Jerks' debut 45 and best known song, 'Get Your Woofing Dog Off Me', which originally appeared on Underground Records in 1977. The following year, now relocated to the Lightning label, the band unleashed single number two, the (to me at least) altogether more interesting 'Cool'.

I should declare a personal interest at this point, in that I was briefly in and around the Leeds scene during this period, becoming friendly with local bands The Squares, The Straits (no, not them) and The Jerks themselves. I spent many happy hours rolling around Yorkshire in the back of various bright orange Salford Van Hire vehicles, choking on the exhaust fumes, while trying not to become buried under guitars, amps and drums everytime we swung round a bend. Good times.

The Jerks - Cool

Monday, 29 January 2018


Radio 1 A-listed, supported by MTV and with a debut single, 'To Myself', so beloved by John Peel, that he voted it into his top ten records of 1997, Cuff seemed on the verge of great things for a while. The band unleashed single number two, 'Yellowmaddacoolivision', later in the year then in 1998 followed with the five track 'Breathe' EP, after which they were snapped up by Atlantic Records and flew to New York to record their debut LP. And here, to quote The Sundays, is where the story ends. Somewhere between the conclusion of the recording sessions and the proposed 1999 release date, Atlantic Records and Cuff fell out with each other. The LP was never released and the band split in 2000. How awful must that feel?

In my opinion Cuff's finest 4 minutes were hidden away as the third track on the 'Yellowmaddacoolivision' CD single. The euphoric chorus of 'I've Just Had a Dream' grabbed my attention when I first heard it twenty years ago and still sounds thrilling today.

Cuff - I've Just Had a Dream

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