MIX TAPE: VOLUME 1 – SIDE 1 – TRACK 7

Side 1, Track 7:

Total Run Time: 29:00

Talk Talk: Life’s What You Make It: 4 Minutes 29 Seconds: 1985

Life's_what_you_make_it

Having given a great deal of thought to what to choose next I gave up and chose this, because I like it, and although I never had the 7″ I do have a vinyl copy of the album, ‘The Colour of Spring’. Oddly enough I think I just thought of the next track, well that’s a surprise.

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What’s in the bag? (85)

Cocteau-Twins-Bluebell-KnollOn the day this album was released I was in Leamington Spa, which in 1988 had three record stores, and I managed to pick up a copy for the going rate of £4.99. We had an Our Price, Woolworths and an independent. I forget what the independent was called, Sound something or other, it was in Gloucester Street, off Bath Street and was a bit ‘High Fidelity”, in that you felt as though you were being judged on every purchase. I didn’t buy ‘Blue Bell Knoll’ from there, I bought it from Woolworths, after looking in the other two and not finding it there. I do miss Woolworths on the high street (it’s all online now) as, not only did they discount records quite often, but they also had a fabulous Pick ‘N Mix for sweets.

‘Blue Bell Knoll’ received mixed reviews upon its release, all of which I ignored, because I didn’t care, for me, The Twins could do no wrong. I pretty much loved everything they had released up to this point and wasn’t even slightly disappointed when I first played the album. I’ve seen some retrospective reviews online as well which don’t place it that highly, claiming that Carolyn’s Fingers is the only real high point, but they miss the point. What we had before this album was ‘Garlands’, ‘Head over Heels’, ‘Treasure’, ‘Victorialand’ & ‘The Moon and the Melodies’ all of which I loved for different reasons. We also had the 12” EP’s ‘Lullabies’, ‘Peppermint Pig’, ‘Sunburst and Snowblind’, ‘Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops’, ‘The Spangle Maker’, ‘Aikea-Guinea’, ‘Tiny Dynamine’, ‘Echoes in a Shallow Bay’ and finally ‘Love’s Easy Tears’. I had all of them on vinyl. Taken all together this was a fabulous back catalogue all released in a 6 year period. However, at this point in time there was no ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’, which seems to be widely acknowledged as the pinnacle of their output, nor did any of the later releases exist. While ‘Victorialand’ and ‘The Moon and the Melodies’ are lovely pieces of work, they are in my opinion, both eclipsed by the return to the full band format of ‘Blue Bell Knoll’.

I have previously had trouble explaining in words just what it is about the music of The Cocteau Twins that I like. The word ‘Ethereal’ is appropriate, but overused and doesn’t encapsulate everything. Here are some words, beginning with Ethereal, shimmering, sparkly, mysterious, enigmatic, mystical, glistening, mystifying, cryptic, dark, bright, obscure, esoteric, transcendental, unfathomable and shimmering again. These are the sort of words that have been used in reviews over the years, but few, if any, that I remember reading mention joyous. There are moments of pure beauty that occur and cause the heart to soar, and I’m not overstating it, there really are. Well, that’s what I hear, I’m sure others think it an unbearable noise.

No. Title Length
1. “Blue Bell Knoll” 3:24
2. “Athol-Brose” 2:59
3. “Carolyn’s Fingers” 3:08
4. “For Phoebe Still a Baby” 3:16
5. “The Itchy Glowbo Blow” 3:21
6. “Cico Buff” 3:49
7. “Suckling the Mender” 3:35
8. “Spooning Good Singing Gum” 3:52
9. “A Kissed Out Red Floatboat” 4:10
10. “Ella Megalast Burls Forever” 3:39
Total length:
35:17

Far from being an ‘also ran’ that some reviewers suggest, Blue Bell Knoll is triumph, which has been an inspiration for the likes of Sigur Ros, My Bloody Valentine, Stina Nordenstam, Tori Amos and more. Robert Smith of the Cure is a fan, and that’s a pretty good recommendation in itself. Here he is saying so himself (admittedly not mentioning this particular album):

Just in case you don’t know much about The Cocteau Twins, here’s some history culled from Wikipedia:

Guthrie and Heggie, both from Grangemouth, Scotland, formed the band in 1979. At a local disco called Nash they met Fraser, also from Grangemouth, who would eventually provide vocals.[3] The band’s influences at the time included The Birthday Party, Sex Pistols, Kate Bush, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.[citation needed] The band was named after the song “The Cocteau Twins” by fellow Scotsmen ‘Johnny and the Self-Abusers’ (who later renamed themselves Simple Minds; the song “The Cocteau Twins” was also re-penned as “No Cure”). Their debut recording, Garlands (released by 4AD Records in 1982), was an instant success, as was the subsequent Lullabies EP.[citation needed]Around that time, NME‍ ’​s Don Watson compared the style of the band to goth bands like Gene Loves Jezebel and Xmal Deutschland.,[4] while SPIN magazine’s Sue Cummings compared it retrospectively to Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus.[5]
Heggie left the group after the tour that followed the 1983 release of the band’s second EP, Peppermint Pig.[3] He subsequently joined Lowlife. The band’s sound on its first three recordings relied on the combination of Heggie’s rhythmic basslines, Guthrie’s minimalist guitar melodies, and Fraser’s voice; the Cocteau Twins’ next full-length LP, Head over Heels, relied solely on the latter two.[3] This led to the growth of the band’s characteristic sound: Fraser’s voice, by turns ethereal and operatic, combined with Guthrie’s effects-heavy guitars.[3] Guthrie has often said that he is far more interested in the way the guitar is recorded, than in the actual notes being played, though he later admitted the effects and layering were due to his own technical limitations.[6]
“The Cocteau Twins are still the best by far at the 4AD ethereal dreamscape, thanks largely to the extraordinary voice of Liz Fraser. Somehow she’s found a voice that falls completely outside ‘Rock’ or ‘Pop’.”
– Simon Reynolds, New Statesman, 1987[7]
In 1983, the band participated in 4AD’s This Mortal Coil project (this spawned a cover version of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” performed by Guthrie and Fraser), and during their work for that, they got to know multi-instrumentalist Simon Raymonde (formerly a member of Drowning Craze), who joined the group later that year.[3] In 2012, Dawn French selected “Song to the Siren” on Desert Island Discs as, in her words, “The song that made me fall in love again”.

There is a much more comprehensive history of the band here if you are at all interested:-

http://www.cocteautwins.com/html/history/

Back when the Cocteau Twins were still a band there really weren’t that many TV performances to watch. I had some videoed and I bought a few bootleg VHS tapes, the quality of which was truly terrible, but until ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ you just didn’t see much of them. This is why I bought a ticket to see them live in Birmingham, unfortunately, for a number of reasons that weren’t my fault, circumstances colluded against me resulting in me missing the concert, which still annoys me now, and it was over 20 years ago. I never did get to see them.

Let’s talk lyrics for a moment, just to confirm that they don’t really matter here. Elizabeth Fraser uses her voice more as an instrument, a provider of melody, than as a vehicle to convey words. I have listened to the opening track of this album hundreds of times and I have never bothered even attempting to understand a single word of what is sung, it is of no real consequence, however, as I was writing this I thought I would see if anybody else had, and they have. Now it is best read as you listen to it, wherein you will possibly agree with me, that they aren’t quite right, but close. Try it:

Blue Bell Knoll
Each is not my love, moan I for what
I make up hundreds so I know how to make love
There, you can have my youth, I know I have loved
Started to see him, till when I married him
To yearn admits you’re outside to me
Grow up
I have seen these all my life, perhaps a lot more
And I have been so naive
All move and try he knew not
And your spangle, how it hurts and I have feelings
To yearn admits you’re outside to me
Grow up
To yearn admits you’re outside to me
Grow up
SONGWRITERS
FRASER, ELIZABETH/GUTHRIE, ROBIN/RAYMONDE, SIMON

Not far off I think, but the ‘Outside to me’ bit is highly questionable. Now I will never think of it again unless somebody mentions it. Although, I did stumble across an interview with Elizabeth Fraser who explains that some of the lyrics are, in fact, complete gibberish.

Here are a couple of promo videos from Blue Bell Knoll and a live concert which isn’t great footage but it’s a really nice quality soundboard recording.

9.2/10

MIX TAPE: VOLUME 1 – SIDE 1 – TRACK 6

Side 1, Track 6:

Total Run Time: 24:00

UB40: Food For Thought: 4 Minutes 10 Seconds: 1980

ub-40-food-for-thought-sleeve-80s

I was pondering where to go next with song choice and decided to go somewhere that would, perhaps, be unexpected. I like early UB40, from back when they had something to say, before they became a covers band. I’ve said here before that ‘Signing Off’ is a really good album, certainly their best in my opinion, so this is off that. Now what next?

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MIX TAPE: VOLUME 1 – SIDE 1 – TRACK 5

Side 1, Track 5:

Total Run Time: 20:00

Squeeze: Up The Junction: 3 Minutes 09 Seconds: 1979

squeezeup_the_junction_cover

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I would think that ‘Cool for Cats’ is probably their best known song from this era but I just think the writing is better on ‘Up The Junction’ and really very British, which I like. I think I may have had ‘Cool for Cats’ on 7″ vinyl at one point. Looking at their back catalogue now, perhaps they should have been much bigger than they were as the writing is just brilliant at times.

Video:

Side 1:

1. Echo & The Bunnymen – The Cutter

I used to have a bit of a downer on Echo and the Bunnymen (for those that don’t know, Echo was the drum machine), mostly due to a feud they had with The Teardrop Explodes, although I only ever read The Teardrops side of the story, well, the Julian Cope side of the story actually. I’d always liked this track, and ‘The Killing Moon’, but never explored their catalogue much further until a few years ago. I missed out. I should have not been such a bloody fool and let the music do the talking.

2. The Psychedelic Firs – Sister Europe

My first introduction to the Psychedelic furs was with the release of ‘Forever Now’ back in 1982, which caused quite the stir amongst the circles I used to be a part of. I went backwards through ‘Talk Talk Talk’ and the eponymous debut album. There are a number of tracks that I could have chosen from these three albums, which is the best of their output in my opinion though I stopped listening to anything new by them in about 1987, such as ‘Dumb Waiters’, ‘Into You Like A Train’, ‘Pretty in Pink’ of course and almost anything from their debut. I decided not to choose anything from ‘Forever Now’, but instead plumped for ‘Sister Europe’ from ‘Talk Talk Talk’, then I changed my mind to ‘Imitation of Christ’ and then back to ‘’Sister Europe’!

3. Julian Cope – The Greatness & Perfection

Taken from what is probably my favourite Cope album, ‘World Shut Your Mouth’, which doesn’t contain the song of the same name. This was the first release by Cope after the break up of The Teardrop Explodes and it could easily have been a Teardrops song.

4. XTC – Senses Working Overtime

Back in the days when I used to buy 7″ vinyl, I had this, along with a couple of their other singles. I also had the album ‘English Settlement’, which I think was a double. I’ve never been a massive XTC fan as I found that I couldn’t get along with a lot of their tracks, but when they were on it, they were really on it and this was a great single.

What’s in the Bag? (84)

tumblr_l31v3qPFk01qblvhbo1_500BoC’s second studio album, Geogaddi, was released in 2002. I had it on MP3 for years and turned to it when I needed to concentrate on something, not because it is background music, but because I had come to know it so well. As I have fallen back into the habit of buying vinyl I decided to pick it up when I saw it in the record store as a triple gatefold (I don’t know what the triple of a gatefold is, Tri-fold?). The album itself is a series of tracks interspersed with vignettes, such as ‘Dandelion’, which contains a long sample of Leslie Nielsen narrating a documentary on the Galapagos Islands titled ‘Dive to the Edge of Creation’:

When lava pours out near the sea surface, tremendous volcanic explosions sometimes occur
In time, submarine sea-mounts or islands are formed
When lava flows underwater, it behaves differently
A new contraption to capture a ‘dandelion’ in one piece has been put together by the crew
The preparation for a dive is always a tense time
When lava pours out near the sea surface, tremendous volcanic explosions sometimes occur

The Galapagos Islands are known as the place where Charles Darwin constructed his initial theories of evolution and began the writing for the Origin of Species. The dandelion that is referred to in the sample is not a flower, a fish, or a lava formation, but is instead a cluster of organisms that is so complex that much of its biology is still unknown. These “ocean dandelions” are a multitude of different organisms that come together and work for a singular purpose. All this in 1 minute and 15 seconds of the album.

BoC are a duo from Scotland, brothers in fact, Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin. They started young, experimenting with recording techniques from around the age of 10, layering cut up samples in a tape machine of found sounds over their own music. As they hit their teenage years they were in several bands until, in 1986 Marcus was invited to join Mike’s band, which became Boards of Canada. They were named after the TV documentaries by the National Film Board of Canada that, apparently, they saw as children.

‘Geogaddi’ as an album title does, according to BoC, have a meaning but they have not disclosed what it is, preferring instead to allow the listener to decide for themselves, me, I have no real idea, other than Geo is taken from the Greek word for “ground” or “earth” (ge), and is common to many words dealing with the Earth, such as geology. Gaddi is the name of a nomadic Hindu tribe from Himachal Pradesh, in northwestern India, also the surname of two father-and-son Italian painters of the early Renaissance, Taddeo Gaddi (c.1300-1366), and Agnolo Gaddi (c. 1350-1396). The work of both artists is largely concerned with angels, saints, and the Madonna. Gad is a Biblical name, belonging to one of the Tribes of Israel, a son of Jacob, and a prophet of David. Gad was also the name of an ancient pagan god worshipped during the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE. Gad itself refers to luck in Hebrew; its root is in the ancient Hebrew term for to divide or to share (as in fate being “meted out”). So maybe, just maybe, the title refers to the relationship between the Earth and Religion, but it’s probably just something they made up!

Mike Sandison: “Usually, our titles are self-explanatory, but this record’s title is a composite that has more than one meaning. We have a meaning we understand from it, but it’s up to listeners to choose their own meaning. I suppose the nature thing has an indirect effect on us while we’re writing, because we’re out here in the country most of the time. We’re both heavily interested in science, too, which crosses over into nature and probably comes through in the music.

There have been many theories about the album, mainly around themes of Satanism, which aren’t helped by the running time being 66 minutes and 6 seconds, although they have already admitted that they did this deliberately on the suggestion of Steve Beckett as they thought it would be funny.

When we were discussing the length of the silence [Warp Records owner] Steve Beckett actually suggested to take it to a total 66 minutes 6 seconds, because then everyone would think it’s the devil who made the album. And we just laughed.

If anything, the music does seem to me to be about the links between mathematics, the natural world, science and religion. For example, the short opening track, ‘Ready let’s go’ contains a recording of a radio signal from Jupiter called an “S-Burst”, which has been slowed right down. These S-Burts sound like a handful to pebbles thrown on a tin roof (or popcorn being cooked). The bursts each last for a only a few thousandths of a second and occur at rates as high as several dozen per second. Then we have ‘Music is Math’, BoC have expressed on numerous occasions their interest in the links between music and mathematics and this particular track is, apparently, a musical palindrome. ‘Gyroscope’ contains samples the Conet Project which compiled various recordings of “number stations” and shortwave radio transmissions. And so on and so forth. You can look into the tracks on this album as deeply as you like and you will find things about the tracks that you may not have originally realised where there, but you can also listen to the whole thing as a rather pleasant musical experience and not worry about any of the themes that are woven through it.

I certainly don’t believe that this is a ‘Satanic’ album, it may be touched upon but in context with the the other themes and not as an overall theme in itself. Furthermore, so what if it is? As I don’t believe in all that it makes no difference to me.

Oh, and of course, there is a lot of backwards bits and pieces on the album which is something the Devil loves, he’s a bit of a DJ in that regards.

If you haven’t heard it, do try it, if you haven’t heard it in a while, put it on again, it is a wonderful piece of work.

No. Title Length
1. “Ready Lets Go” 0:59
2. “Music Is Math” 5:21
3. “Beware the Friendly Stranger” 0:37
4. “Gyroscope” 3:34
5. “Dandelion” 1:15
6. “Sunshine Recorder” 6:12
7. “In the Annexe” 1:22
8. “Julie and Candy” 5:30
9. “The Smallest Weird Number” 1:17
10. “1969” 4:20
11. “Energy Warning” 0:35
12. “The Beach at Redpoint” 4:18
13. “Opening the Mouth” 1:11
14. “Alpha and Omega” 7:02
15. “I Saw Drones” 0:27
16. “The Devil Is in the Details” 3:53
17. “A Is to B as B Is to C” 1:40
18. “Over the Horizon Radar” 1:08
19. “Dawn Chorus” 3:55
20. “Diving Station” 1:26
21. “You Could Feel the Sky” 5:14
22. “Corsair” 2:52
23. “Magic Window” 1:46
Total length:
66:06

Here’s a series of videos that make up the entire album, which somebody else put together, which saves me doing it.

9.1/10

What’s in the bag? (83)

A couple of weeks ago I was rooting through the crates of used vinyl in my local record store and I found ELO – Out of the Blue, an album that, as a child, I had really wanted but couldn’t afford. As a double it was out of my price range (I would have been 11 at the time) but I did later manage to buy a copy of Discovery in 1979 from WH Smith in Didcot, which I had to take back because it jumped, and then take back again because the replacement jumped in exactly the same place. I eventually changed it for something else entirely, though I can’t remember what.

Out of the Blue was harvested for singles and it is these I remember most, Turn To Stone, Mr Blue Sky, Wild West Hero, Sweet Talkin’ Woman and It’s Over, though they could probabaly have manage at least two more hits from album tracks they didn’t release as singles.

Here is Mr. Blue Sky, a video which I saw so many times was a kid, well, it felt that way, it was certainly on Top of The Pops several times:

Electric_Light_Orchestra_-_Out_Of_The_BlueI didn’t know that side three was a Symphonic Suite titled ‘Concerto for a Rainy Day’, which consists of “Standin’ in the Rain”, “Big Wheels”, “Summer and Lightning” and finally “Mr. Blue Sky”. I only found out when I looked it up on Wikipedia.

ELO are perhaps not the trendiest band ever, and there was a time when people would list them as a Guilty Pleasure, but I don’t really believe in Guilty Pleasures when it comes to music, people can like whatever the hell they want and have no need to feel any guilt over it. Especially when it comes to ELO, as they have written some wonderful pop/rock songs and, for me at least, they are evocative of a period in my life when I was discovering music and really didn’t care what anybody thought of my choices.

You can certainly hear how Jeff Lynne was influenced by the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees and the Beatles, in fact, he was mad about the Beatles and sometimes it feels that he’s spent a lot of his career trying to re-create Sgt. Peppers, perhaps Out Of the Blue is exactly that for ELO. The production is full and lush, filled with strings and is meticulously done, which seems to be a bit of a trademark for Lynne.

Listening to the album again, after almost 40 years since it’s first release is quite wonderful as it doesn’t seem to have aged at all badly. The tunes are catchy, memorable and really well crafted. If you were only ever going to buy one ELO record I’d certainly recommend it. Although ‘A New World Record’ runs it close.

Here is a full concert filmed in 2001, it has all the hits!

8.75/10

MIX TAPE: VOLUME 1 – SIDE 1 – TRACK 4

Side 1, Track 4:

Total Run Time: 17:00

XTC: Senses Working Overtime: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds: 1982

download (1)

Audio:

Back in the days when I used to buy 7″ vinyl, I had this, along with a couple of their other singles. I also had the album ‘English Settlement’, which I think was a double. I’ve never been a massive XTC fan as I found that I couldn’t get along with a lot of their tracks, but when they were on it, they were really on it and this was a great single.

Video:

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MIX TAPE: VOLUME 1 – SIDE 1 – TRACK 3

Side 1, Track 3:

Total Run Time: 12:00

Julian Cope: Greatness & Perfection: 3 Minutes 15 Seconds: 1984

Julian_Cope_-_The_Greatness_and_Perfection_of_Love

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Taken from what is probably my favourite Cope album, ‘World Shut Your Mouth’, which doesn’t contain the song of the same name. This was the first release by Cope after the break up of The Teardrop Explodes and it could easily have been a Teardrops song.

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Mix Tape: Volume 1 – Side 1 – Track 2

Side 1, Track 2:

Total Run Time: 9:31

The Psychedelic Furs: Sister Europe: 5 Minutes 38 Seconds: 1981

sister

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My first introduction to the Psychedelic furs was with the release of ‘Forever Now’ back in 1982, which caused quite the stir amongst the circles I used to be a part of. I went backwards through ‘Talk Talk Talk’ and the eponymous debut album. There are a number of tracks that I could have chosen from these three albums, which is the best of their output in my opinion though I stopped listening to anything new by them in about 1987, such as ‘Dumb Waiters’, ‘Into You Like A Train’, ‘Pretty in Pink’ of course and almost anything from their debut. I decided not to choose anything from ‘Forever Now’, but instead plumped for ‘Sister Europe’ from ‘Talk Talk Talk’, then I changed my mind to  ‘Imitation of Christ’ and then back to ‘’Sister Europe’!

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What’s In The Bag? (82)

65daysofstatic – The Fall Of Math

65dos_Fall_of_Math_sleeve_12cm

Although it was released eleven years ago I only discovered this album, and band, a couple of years ago. I bought a vinyl copy of ‘The Fall Of Math’ just because I’d heard one track on a Spotify playlist, which I’d liked. To be honest, when I first put needle to vinyl I thought I was going to regret the purchase as the opening seconds are really quite a difficult listen, but it soon calms down a bit and becomes more what I was hoping for.

In recent years I have become quite enamoured with music that is somewhat cinematic, which I think hails way back to ludicrously complicated prog-rock instrumental breaks, and, quite possibly, early Mike Oldfield. There was a time when I had a strong preference for a traditional song structure, something with verses and a recognisable chorus, but this evolved over time and I would listen to things like Yes, Gentle Giant or Genesis and really quite enjoy all the noodling about and strange time signatures, up to a point, it was sometimes just a bit too much.

While it might want to disassociate itself from Prog-Rock, a lot of this Post-Rock does share elements with it, although it would seem 65daysofstatic are in a separate genre, namely Math-Rock, but genres can get a bit silly when they are too defined, I think they should be rather loose. Ultimately, it’s all Rock. So the difference between Prog and Post, as far as I can hear, is structure and complexity. Prog often has a very complicated structure and much noodling, whereas Post is often less complicated in structure with less noodling about. Post is, in a way, minimalist by comparison, even though it can sound complicated, it is often the same chords, building up, and being layered upon by other instruments. It also doesn’t seem to have a problem with drawing in certain techniques from other genres and sub-genres.

Now to get back to the band and album, The Fall of Math was their debut album, released on September 20, 2004 through Monotreme. It contains what is arguably still their most famous track, “Retreat! Retreat!” which was one of two singles released from the album, the other being “Hole”, which was a 7 track EP coming in at 30 minutes in length.

The band, from Sheffield, formed in 2001 as a three-piece, consisting of Joe Shrewsbury, Paul Wolinski, and Iain Armstrong. The line-up of the band has changed over the years, and they have been a five piece at points, but also had members of other bands join them for live shows to expand their ranks.

This debut album is, in many ways, a bit of a mish mash of influences, but coherently so. Take some Kraftwerk, Boards of Canada, Explosions in the Sky, Aphex Twin and Mogwai, amongst other possible ingredients, and bake until you have The Fall Of Math. There are electronics, computer noises, chunky live drums, towering crescendos, delicate silence and sparkly interludes. If you can get past the opening fingernails down blackboard noise of the first 15 or so seconds, then you will find many delights beyond.

There were a couple of official videos released for the singles and these are below followed by a full ‘In Concert’ performance, though not specifically of tracks only from this album. “PlayStation Experience attendees were treated to this exclusive No Man’s Sky concert, featuring visuals from the upcoming PS4 space odyssey and music from indie band 65daysofstatic. Featuring a special retrospective introduction from developer Hello Games.

Here is the entire album provided by Spotify:

9/10

The Mix Tape: Volume 1 – Side 1 – Track 1

I do love a mix tape, or a playlist as young people call it nowadays, so I thought I’d do an evolving one, adding tracks to it now and again until it is finished. I’ll use spotify and also try and have a video for each song to accompany it. To begin with, volume one, will be from my twenty’s, let’s call it ‘The Lost Years’. It will be a 120 cassette, so an hour each side, and we begin with:-

Side 1, Track 1:

Total Run Time: 3:53

Echo & The Bunnymen: The Cutter: 3 minutes 53 seconds: 1983

Echo--The-Bunnymen-The-Cutter-15190

Audio:

I used to have a bit of a downer on Echo and the Bunnymen (for those that don’t know, Echo was the drum machine), mostly due to a feud they had with The Teardrop Explodes, although I only ever read The Teardrops side of the story, well, the Julian Cope side of the story actually. I’d always liked this track, and ‘The Killing Moon’, but never explored their catalogue much further until a few years ago. I missed out. I should have not been such a bloody fool and let the music do the talking.

Video:

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What’s In The Bag? (81)

8de3b37a-db79-4c1f-9fe5-7587468c2522I used to really like Peter Gabriel, and went to see him twice. the first time was in July 1983, at the home of Crystal palace football club, Selhurst Park. This would have been after the first four albums, when ‘Plays Live’ was released, it may well have even been a gig to promote the live album. I read a review of the gig in Sounds and I really can’t agree with a lot of it. I suppose the reviewer sees a lot of gigs and it has to all be from their perspective, but they aren’t me, and where the reviewer complains, I find no cause for it. I thoroughly enjoyed the gig, as a fan who was seeing Gabriel for the first time.

My school friend Dave and I travelled down from Didcot to London and after a bit of a trek found ourselves standing on the pitch looking at an empty stage, not too far back from the front. This may have been Dave’s first gig, I actually can’t remember, but there was a whole Genesis ‘Six Of The Best’ in Milton Keynes prior to this where he didn’t go that I could talk about, but that’s for another day.

We saw The Undertones last gig. When they came on a couple of hundred people rushed to the front, not particularly caring who got in their way and were treated to a lacklustre set, although they didn’t seem to care and most of them left when the Undertones went off. Feargal Sharkey made it quite clear that he thought Gabriel was a wanker, and was bottled for airing those views, of course, later in life he appeared on the Benefit Album “Peace Together” to raise money for young people in Northern Ireland, with Gabriel, who I assume was no longer considered a wanker, or maybe he was, who knows? Here it is:

I had this as a CD single and there was a really good Robin Guthrie mix with Elizabeth Fraser on lead vocals. I just found it on youtube, and while I know there will be rather a lot of videos in this post, I always have time for Elisabeth Fraser!

Next up at the gig were the Thompson Twins, who played a tight set, all the hits I guess, but I wasn’t that keen on them really, it was well done though. Just in case you don’t remember them, or even know who they are, this is a reminder/introduction:

The internet is my friend and has very kindly coughed up the set list from the Gabriel gig, I definitely wouldn’t have remembered it. What I do remember is somebody asking what the opening song was as it was being played and it just so happens that I knew, which I cna’t deny being a little smug about. I only knew because I bought the single ‘I have the touch’ and it was the B-Side.

I found some photographs that were taken at the gig (there’s quite a few available):

0447f22 Peter Gabriel 0450f04a Peter Gabriel 0450f10ac group 1035x1436-121613-peter-gabriel-09-1800-1387202769

Images by Barry Follett & Alan Perry

Set List
Across the River
I Have the Touch
Not One of Us
The Family and the Fishing Net
Shock the Monkey
Family Snapshot
Intruder
Humdrum
Games Without Frontiers
Lay Your Hands on Me
Solsbury Hill
I Don’t Remember
San Jacinto
On the Air
Biko
Kiss of Life

Here’s a poor quality video of Gabriel being interviewed about the Selhurst Park gig a few days before it happened which includes a shot of the ground:

So, I really should get to the point. Which I just did, because the album I bought was ‘So’, from 1986. I started this post with “I used to really like Peter Gabriel’, and I do like the first four albums, in particular the first, but this album I retrospectively decided was his downfall, for me at least. It was in the used section and at only £4.00 it was well worth picking up, because I don’t hate hate it all, and I will give it some play time, but it was just too pop, too commercial, too bloody popular and too overplayed. Sometimes, even things that I like can be ruined by listening to it too much and this is just one of those. Perhaps if I play the whole thing through again I might be able to put what is no doubt a wholly irrational opinion of this album to one side. I honestly don’t think there is a single song on ‘So’ that is as good as anything on the first album, but that, of course, is just my opinion, many, many other people would disagree. Obviously the tracks on ‘So’ aren’t bad as they are part of what made Gabriel quite the star from about ’86 to the early nineties. I hope a new liaten after nearly thirty years will give me a new perspective on it, I really do.

Peter_Gabriel_So_CD_cover

Here are some videos from the first four albums, finishing off with four from ‘So’:

7/10

What’s in the bag (80)

soul_ii_soul-club_classics_vol.1I have a memory of working nights in the computer department at a bank. The building was deserted apart from three of us who ordered a take-away curry, which wasn’t actually allowed, and eating it in the break room. At some point I played Soul II Soul – Club Classics Vol. One. In fairness, I may not have, it could be an amalgamation of two memories that I’ve glued together as it was some 25 years ago. I had it on cassette, which I bought many of, although pre-recorded cassettes were, as it turned out, rather a waste of money as they were prone to magnets, untangling and could degrade quite badly. I was a member of one of those clubs, the sort that send you 5 tapes a month and you have to send back the ones you don’t want or pay for them. I could never be bothered to send them back and ended up paying for rather a lot of things I didn’t actually want. On the other hand, I did listen to some things that I normally wouldn’t have and ended up liking them, however, those were exceptions to the norm.

This Soul II Soul cassette was from that club and I really liked it, and still do. At the time I listened to one, maybe two specific genres of music and this was far outside those, but there was something about it that I found to be not at odds with these genres (which were Indie and Rock in case you were wondering). Perhaps with Soul II Soul being a collective, or starting as a ‘Sound System’ there was an Indie sensibility about them. No matter though, I just liked the tracks.

I think I may have been more familiar with the second album, or tracks from it (‘Get a life’ in particular). Volume One arrived in the post and I gave it a listen, it was like discovering it myself, even though it had been released two years previously and had already been a hit.

On Saturday I picked up a used vinyl copy for £3.50. It’s in good condition and plays very well. I suspect this is less than I paid for the tape originally.

The album won a couple of Grammy awards in the 80’s, and was on a load of best album polls and suchlike, which it well deserved.

Below is a sort of best of, starting with tracks from Vol. One.

7.75/10

What’s In The Bag? (79)

Way back in time when I was still in comprehensive school I had a history teacher, Mr Davis, who, on one memorable occasion, pulled out a record player and for the whole lesson we all sat and listened to ‘Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones’. I don’t recall there being any discussion about it, or written work, when it was finished we just got up and left the lesson. This is why, when I saw the album in the used section of head Records I bought it.

It’s a compilation album by The Rolling Stones released without the band’s authorisation by its former label Decca Records in 1975. It’s a double album that reached No. 7 on the UK chart and was a strong seller over the years, which is understandable as it’s a good collection.

2933621359-2 Rolling-Stones-Rolled-Gold---Bla-206733

Nowadays the Stones are not what they used to be. There was a time when they were edgy, rebellious and even considered a threat to society, rather than the pensioners they are now who are just about the money. It was around 1981/2 when Mr, Davis played this to us and the Stones where  still producing music that was somewhat relevant (Tattoo You and Undercover were released around this time, and they are pretty good) so I was able to find a connection with it even though most of it was released before I was even three years old.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Released Length
1. “Come On” Chuck Berry Jun 1963 1:50
2. “I Wanna Be Your Man” Lennon–McCartney Nov 1963 1:43
3. “Not Fade Away” Norman Petty/Buddy Holly Feb 1964 1:49
4. “Carol” Berry Jun 1964 2:35
5. “It’s All Over Now” Bobby Womack/Shirley Womack Jun 1964 3:20
6. “Little Red Rooster” Willie Dixon Nov 1964 3:01
7. “Time Is on My Side” Norman Meade/Jimmy Norman Sep 1964 2:50
8. “The Last Time” Feb 1965 3:25
9. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” May 1965 3:45
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Released Length
1. “Get Off of My Cloud” Sep 1965 2:55
2. “19th Nervous Breakdown” Feb 1966 3:55
3. “As Tears Go By” Jagger/Richards/Andrew Loog Oldham Dec 1965 2:33
4. “Under My Thumb” Apr 1966 3:42
5. “Lady Jane” Jun 1966 3:06
6. “Out of Time” Apr 1966 5:59
7. “Paint It, Black” May 1966 3:15
Side three
No. Title Writer(s) Released Length
1. “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” Sep 1966 2:33
2. “Let’s Spend the Night Together” Jan 1967 3:15
3. “Ruby Tuesday” Jan 1967 3:12
4. “Yesterday’s Papers” Jan 1967 2:04
5. “We Love You” Aug 1967 4:39
6. “She’s a Rainbow” Dec 1967 4:35
7. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” May 1968 3:40
Side four
No. Title Writer(s) Released Length
1. “Honky Tonk Women” Jul 1969 3:00
2. “Sympathy for the Devil” Dec 1968 6:25
3. “Street Fighting Man” Aug 1968 3:16
4. “Midnight Rambler” Dec 1969 6:52
5. “Gimme Shelter” Dec 1969 4:30

Here is the entire album in video. Some of the footage is a bit ropey but the sound is pretty good throughout.

7.5/10

WHAT’S IN THE BAG? (78)

I was in the town centre at lunchtime and popped into a charity shop on the off chance they had some used vinyl in there, they did, and it was mostly Cliff Richard and suchlike, about 20 albums that weren’t at all interesting, except for one, which was in a clear protective sleeve. it appears to be an original 1977 release of ‘Animals’ by Pink Floyd. As I didn’t have it I thought I’d pick it up. I took it to the counter and they charged me £1.45. At that price it was worth the risk that it was scratched to hell and didn’t play. As it turns out, it plays perfectly, so a bargain!

In 1975 Pink Floyd bought a three-storey block of church halls at 35 Britannia Row in Islington, north London. Their deal with record company EMI, for unlimited studio time in return for a reduced percentage of sales, had expired, and they converted the building into a recording studio and storage facility. Its construction took up most of 1975, and in April 1976 the band started work on their tenth studio album, Animals, at the new facility.

Side one
No. Title Music Lead vocals Length
1. “Pigs on the Wing 1” Waters Waters 1:25
2. “Dogs” Waters, Gilmour Gilmour, Waters 17:03
Total length:
18:28
Side two
No. Title Music Lead vocals Length
1. “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” Waters Waters 11:25
2. “Sheep” Waters Waters 10:25
3. “Pigs on the Wing 2” Waters Waters 1:23
Total length:
23:13

The album is very loosely based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the lyrics describing various classes in society as different kinds of animals: the combative dogs, despotic ruthless pigs, and the “mindless and unquestioning herd” of sheep. The album is more a critique of Capitalism than Stalinism though.

The album cover, by Hipgnosis (andschool friend Storm Thorgerson), was created in the days before Photoshop made things somewhat easier and in order to create the image of a pig flying over Battersea power station they actually had to fly a pig over Battersea power station!

Pink_Floyd-Animals-Frontal

From Time Out:  This week, we meet director Aubrey Powell, 66. Aubrey co-founded Hipgnosis, the design company behind some of the most iconic album covers of the ’70s – including Pink Floyd’s famous ‘Animals’ album cover, shot at Battersea Power Station.

Tell us the story of that ‘Animals’ album cover.
‘Roger Waters [from Pink Floyd] called up one day and said “I’m thinking of doing something with Battersea Power Station” – he lived close and could see it from his window. At that time it was still in full working order, with steam coming out of the chimneys. The band had just had an inflatable pig built for a tour. Roger and I both looked up at the Station, and said, “let’s fly the pig between the chimneys”. Just like that.’

But the shoot didn’t quite go to plan, did it?
‘That day there was the most incredible, Turner-esque sky. But for some reason, the pig wasn’t inflating. I shot the Station anyway, because the sky was so amazing. Eventually they managed to inflate the pig and hoist it between the two chimneys. It was all set up and ready to go when the chain broke and the pig sailed up 20,000ft, ending up right in the centre of Heathrow air traffic. At which point Pink Floyd left the site.’

Good thinking. What happened then?
‘All flights from Heathrow were cancelled, and I was arrested. We put out an announcement on the radio telling people to look out for 40ft long pink, inflatable pig, and the RAF sent out a crew to look for it. At 9.30pm a man rang up. He was a Kentish farmer, with a broad accent. He said, “Are you the guy looking for a pig? It’s scaring my cows to death in my field”. It was front-page news: Pink Floyd couldn’t have got better publicity if they tried.’

And you got the shot eventually.
‘Battersea let us come back, but we had to take a sharpshooter in case it flew off again. The day when we finally shot it, the sky wasn’t as impressive as it had been, so I added the pig to the photo from the first day. It’s actually a completely faked photograph.’

Interview: Flo Wales Bonner

—–

If you would like to listen to the entire album, here it is;

8.5/10

WHAT’S IN THE BAG? (77)

P.I.L – – What the world needs now…

1035x1071-JOHN_LYDON_ALBUM_ART
I was in Seismic Records at the weekend and the nice chap behind the counter, the owner I guess, was playing the new P.I.L album, which I have to say is not very customer friendly, unless that customer is me as I knew it was coming out, but didn’t know if it was going to be on vinyl. I asked and there it was, so I bought it at the same time I bought ‘Sapphire’ by John Martyn, which, admittedly, are strange bedfellows.

I had listened to the last three tracks in the shop and liked them already so picking up a copy was an easy decision really. Now, I had been a tiny bit disappointed by Lydon being the frontman for the advertisement of Country Life butter, until I discovered that the purpose of that perceived conformity was to fund the production of a new P.I.L album. I am in no position to judge anyway, if I’d have been offered the same money, I’d have done it, in a pair of string Y-Fronts if needs be.

The toilet’s f–king broken again / I repaired that, I told ya / Get the plumber in again and again and again” bemoans the first lyric on album opener ‘Double Trouble’ (which I think may also be a single). So he’s still an ornery bastard then, which is good to know. I did read a couple of reviews last week before the album release and having now listened to the whole album a couple of times I disagree with them on several points, particularly the NME who say:
“‘What The World Needs Now…’ sounds much the same as PiL’s last album, 2012’s ‘This Is PiL’ – a mite scuzzier, perhaps, and with added bloopy synthesizer, but broadly conforming to the same formula.

I don’t really think so, I like ‘This is PIL’, but I like this new release considerably more. To me it is more consistently good, in both writing and production values. There are often tracks on albums that I want to hurry up and end because either I’m not that keen on them or the next one is better, a favourite, but with vinyl it’s not as simple as pressing the skip button so I tend to sit through them patiently, well, a little impatiently sometimes, but I do sit through them. This was not the case for ‘What the world needs now’, I happily sat through, and enjoyed in one way or another, every track. It’s probably fair to say that this new release is a progression from ‘This is PIL’, but it is not, as the NME infers, the churning out of the same as last time.

Track listing:

“Double Trouble” – 3:52
“Know Now” – 2:45
“Betty Page” – 3:21
“C’est la Vie” – 6:08
“Spice of Choice” – 5:43
“The One” – 3:42
“Big Blue Sky” – 8:14
“Whole Life Time” – 3:46
“I’m Not Satisfied” – 5:43
“Corporate” – 5:23
“Shoom” – 6:30
It looks like ‘Double Trouble’ is a single as there’s an official video, which is below:


There’s also a short ‘Making Of Double Trouble’ that I watched a couple of weeks ago, have a watch:

And finally, Glastonbury 2013, just because I love it!

As with much of the cover art recently this one has been done by John Lydon, and I read somewhere it is an anti-religious piece, which it might well be, but I have little or no idea about these things.

What I did very much like is album closer ‘Shoom’, which loudly proclaims that ‘“What the world needs now is another fuck off!” and in keeping with the last two words of the album, I am going to do as suggested, ‘Fuck off.’

8/10

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