Monday 30 July 2018

I Suppose the Tedium Must Drive You Mad

The Distractions came together in 1975, though it would be a further 4 years before the band committed any music to vinyl with the 'You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That' EP on Manchester indie label TJM Records. Side 1 track 1 of that release was the original version of 'It Doesn't Bother Me', a good song in search of a little extra oomph. Things get a bit hazy at this point as The Distractions simultaneously signed to Factory for a one-off single and also to Island Records for a more conventional and comprehensive deal. In the event Island was first out of the traps with a re-recorded, re-arranged stab at 'It Doesn't Bother Me' produced by Jon Astley. This time around the song ticked all the boxes - it's powerpop perfection. 

The Distractions - It Doesn't Bother Me (1978) 

The Distractions - It Doesn't Bother Me (1979)

Thursday 26 July 2018

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

In 1977, for 'Life After Life, Alternative TV's second single on Deptford Fun City Records, the band drafted in a young Jools Holland to provide stabbing soulful counterpoints to the song's reggae soundscape. Mark Perry & co were on an early career roll with the debut 7" 'How Much Longer' preceding it and 'Love Lies Limp', 'Action Time Vision' & 'Life' all following within the next 12 months - classic singles one and all.

Alternative TV - Life After Life 

Alternative TV - Life After Dub

Monday 23 July 2018

I Can't Complain We Went Down the Drain

There's a new multi-disc PIL retrospective doing the rounds, featuring hits, b-sides, rarities and out-takes from John Lydon's post-Pistols career. I'm pretty sure this won't be on it though. During the 'Flowers of Romance' sessions in 1980, Lydon and Keith Levene were actively involved in the production and recording of tracks by their friend, the journalist Vivien Goldman. The resulting 'Dirty Washing' 12" EP  was issued in America and parts of Europe in April 1981, with a UK 7" release containing two of the three tunes (the third being a dub version) coming later in the Summer. These songs are a must for lovers of that particular strain of scratchy groove based post-punk that runs from The Slits, Raincoats and early PIL through to LoneLady and beyond.

In addition to the PIL factor, 'Launderette' also boasts the violin of Vicky Aspinall from the aforementioned Raincoats, musical maverick Steve Beresford contributes toy piano and percussion comes courtesy of Robert Wyatt, while 'Private Armies' adds a production credit for one Adrian Sherwood. This second tune wasn't so much covered as replicated wholesale by Sherwood and used as the closing track on the debut LP by New Age Steppers, which was also released in that heady year of 1981.

Vivien Goldman - Launderette 

Vivien Goldman - Private Armies 

New Age Steppers - Private Armies

Monday 16 July 2018

Clear Spot

Clear Spot were a short-lived instrumental combo comprising drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig from My Bloody Valentine, guitarist Simon Johns of Stereolab and future Heliocentrics member Mike Burnham on keyboards. In 1998 the trio released their one and only 7" single on Stereolab's Duophonic label, the rather fab 'Moonman Bop'.

Clear Spot - Moonman Bop

Tuesday 10 July 2018

All That Jazz #7 - Sonny Red

Large swaths Blue Note's legendary back catalogue were re-issued as part of a deal with EMI in the mid-1980s. The label's roster seemed an endless parade of wonderfulness to me. Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith, the list went on and on and, working in a record shop, I was in the fortunate position of having access to many of the gems on offer.

A lesser known LP that I discovered sandwiched among the jazz giants in the reissue programme, was 'Out of the Blue' by saxophonist Sonny Red. Originally issued in 1960, it features Miles Davis alumni Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers among the backing musicians. Biographical details are scarce, but later in the 1960s Sonny played extensively as a sideman for trumpeter Donald Byrd and eventually drifted into obscurity after releasing a final, self-titled, LP in 1971.

Sonny Red passed away 37 years ago at the age of 48, leaving 'Out of the Blue' as his only Blue Note LP as a band leader. Here's the very cool 'Bluesville'.

Sonny Red - Bluesville

Thursday 5 July 2018

The Moon in June

A little over a week ago, our mutual blogging chum Alyson (of What's it All About?) posted the latest instalment of her fascinating series in which she celebrates every full moon throughout the course of the year - the one due last Thursday (June 28th) was apparently known to Native Americans as the Strawberry Moon. So far I've managed to miss all of the previous full moons in 2018 thanks to either inclement weather, work or simply by being asleep, but, on Thursday evening, as I wearily climbed the wooden hills to Bedfordshire, I glanced out the window and there it was, hanging in the inky blackness, very large and certainly somewhat unusual in colour. I grabbed my faithful point and press and fired off these couple of shots to capture the moment. Perhaps not so much strawberry, as tangerine!

I can't imagine that Alyson will use today's tune at anytime during the course of her series, particularly as the month in question has now passed. 'The Moon in June' originally appeared on the third Soft Machine LP in 1970 and featured a semi-improvised vocal by Robert Wyatt that alluded heavily to an adulterous romantic fling. This version, however, was recorded for John Peel's Top Gear radio programme and features a completely different, though equally rambling lyric from Wyatt, this time concerning The Soft Machine themselves, their contemporary pop-star pals and previous appearances at the BBC and on Peel's show.

' to all our mates like Kevin, Caravan, the old Pink Floyd allow me to recommend 'Top Gear' despite its extraordinary name yes, playing, playing now is lovely here in the BBC...' 

' still performs a normal function background noise for people eating and talking and drinking and smoking that's all right by us don't think that we're complaining after all it's only leisure time, isn't it?...' 

Soft Machine - The Moon in June (BBC Version)

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Richard Swift RIP

The terrible news broke just minutes ago that Richard Swift has succumbed to the previously reported life threatening condition from which he has been suffering. He was 41 years of age. The world has lost a uniquely gifted singer, songwriter and producer.

Richard Swift - Broken Finger Blues

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