Thursday, 25 May 2017

BMX Bandits Forever


BMX Bandits - Forever. Yeah BMX Bandits Forever, too right. 16 new tracks of heart-breaking, heart-aching, warm, reflective pop with contributions from and collaborations with many friends of the Bandits.

Duglas T Stewart, leader and conducted of the Bandits, has been releasing/leaking material from this beautiful album since as far back as 2014. I blogged about opening song My Girl Midge in September of that year, marvelling at the warm home production and stunning vocal delivery from Duglas.

Stewart's vocals are stunning on this album, capturing a moment, a feeling, a thought, a dream.... From speaking to Duglas I know that he favours a maximum of a few takes per song. That comes across in the right way on the album, from vocals, to playing and production.

Forever takes us on a journey; break up, memories, That Lonely Feeling, realisation and dreams in Rust .... and Duglas' heart isn't just on his sleeve, he is pouring it out.

If you come tonight then I won't die
The rust will turn to blood and I will be alive
And if they want to know the reason why
It's my love, my love

Saveoursmiles is a song I heard live back in January and it has that immediacy and simplicity that Stewart has an exceptional talent in finding. Only it's not that simple - just listen to the depth of those lyrics. There is a story and we have reached the point in the story where there is hope that our hero will win his true love back. There is a brilliant organ underpinning the song and the message is clear - lets help each other find our smiles

Tonight I need some you
And I think you need me too

The album takes an unexpected turn with the brilliant Love Me 'Til My Heart Stops, unexpected in that we hear from the other side. The melody and vocals by Chloe Philip are exquisite, as is the guitar playing and driving beat. I played this one a few times in a row. The chorus is delightful and flows superbly.

Forget the pain
Forget the nots
Love me until my heart stops
It's easier to take the blame
Love me until my heart stops

Somewhere is dangerously dark, stark, but absolutely beautiful. Fragile, hopeful (just), the sound of someone clinging on to love, hoping it will all work out somewhere. From the musical West Side Story, this is the sound of a broken heart on record with just a tiny shred of hope that it could be mended. There will not be a dry in the house if this is performed live.

Things take an upbeat turn with three songs recorded in collaboration with Dr Cosmos Tape Lab; Way Of The Wolf is gorgeous and then It's In Her Eyes is just brilliant - guaranteed to bring a smile to your face with it's warm feel, melody and story....from both sides. The way Duglas sings sounds so happy and the melody flows superbly.

It's in her eyes and the way that she smiles
It's in her words and her funny style
When we kiss and start to play
It feels love is meant to be this way....

It's Time begins with an electronic drum machine and a gorgeous glockenspiel melody. Stewart has been through the ringer and now it's time for the two to start again, to love again, to smile again, to live again, time to make a new start. This is pure Beach Boys and pure brilliance.

Next up is another brilliant collaboration, so brilliant that I hope Duglas goes back out to Berlin to record with Anton Newcombe from Brian Jonestown Massacre again. The feel and flow of Razorblades and Honey is sublime. One of the best things Duglas has done in my humble opinion. It's raw, it's rough and it's ready. I love it. The guitar solo is ace, the rhythm section is tight and flowing throughout.

Right now you think you're something
But soon you're gonna be nothing

And then we have The Beach Boys Forever. One of the best songs you are ever likely to hear, especially when you hear it being sung by someone so head over heels in love. It is little wonder that Duglas chose not only to record this song, but also to name the album after it.

I feel so happy loving you


No Matter What You Say starts all quiet before becoming a stomping declaration of love with more stunning vocals from Chloe Philip. One of the beautiful things about this album is hearing from different perspectives - most love albums are only from one.

How Not To Care is a gentle and reflective song with Stewart pouring his heart out again and the chorus is heartfelt and cleverly written.

She doesn't want my love any more
But I don't know how not to care


Life Without You feels strange at the end of the album and weird coming after the likes of Forever. It is short and to the point - Life feels rubbish without you

Then we end with a short reprise of Mais Do Que Valsa (Just A Memory) that is all kinds of dreamy gorgeousness.

Signed copies of BMX Bandits Forever are available at Monorail in Glasgow, or you can order vinyl or CD from the good folks at Elefant Records.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Evan Dando at St Lukes Glasgow

Evan Dando returned to Glasgow last night to his usual warm welcome and the opportunity to play the beautiful converted St Luke's church in the East End of the city, just around from the Barrowland Ballroom. Dando joked that he had played almost everywhere in Glasgow and a reference to the Cathouse brought cheers and laughter.

Indeed he has - from the Glasgow Uni Debating Chambers, to the Garage, the Renfrew Ferry, ABC and Nice n Sleazys, I've been lucky enough to catch Dando playing solo or with his latest incarnation of The Lemonheads on a number of occasions over the years.

Dando captivated the audience from the off by bounding on stage at 8.30pm sharp, throwing his jacket to the floor and picking up an acoustic guitar to launch into Being Around.

The creaky church pews and floors may have had a few choirs on them in their time and Dando had one tonight, with the crowd singing along beautifully to the likes of All My Life, My Drug Buddy Frank Mills, and attempting Juliana Hatfield's backing vocals in Bit Part.

Dando has a rich treasure chest of songs to dig into and he loves to play cover version too. His own material was largely taken from It's A Shame About Ray, Come On Feel The Lemonheads and Car Button Cloth, a stunning trilogy of guitar pop. Ride With Me from Lovey was the oldest Lemonheads song he played.



Dando flew from one song to the next, barely pausing to take in the warm applause. His solo album Baby I'm Bored is a bit of a cult classic and it recently received a lavish reissue for Record Store Day - hence the short tour. Hard Drive is just sublime with Dando rhyming off things he is thinking or doing.

Requests were hollered from the crowd with Evan choosing Big Gay Heart and he played and sang beautifully, his voice is still rich and soulful. And the line from Alison's Starting To Happen she's the puzzle piece behind the couch that makes the sky complete is one of my favourite lines of all time.

As always, Dando chose some sublime cover versions; Different Drum by Mike Nesmith, Settled Down Like Rain by The Jayhawks and a spellbinding Round Here by Florida George Line - a song I hadn't heard before, Skulls by The Misfits, They Don't Know About Us by Kirsty MacColl and a couple I am trying to find the name of.

Dando brought on a girl (sorry didn't catch her name) to sing harmonies and play electric guitar for a lovingly shambolic section of the encore. There was no setlist at all throughout the gig and a stand with sheet music and lyrics was used for Dando's benefit. Round Here was particularly gorgeous here.

Into Your Arms brought the show to the end with the crowd singing a long. Dandy captivated the crowd with his performance - even the shambolic sections were gorgeous - he is a brilliant performer, songwriter, guitarist and singer. I hope he returns soon.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Respect




R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me

Aretha Franklin's barnstorming stomp through Otis Redding's Respect must surely be a candidate for the best cover version ever.

The original, released in 1965, has pounding drums and a pleading vocal by Otis who doesn't really care what his girl gets up to, a long as he gets that respect when he gets home.

The horns soar, Redding's voice is rich, soulful and stretched brilliantly to make you firmly believe that respect is what he wants and needs. The section at the end where he just vibes on the song shouting got to, got to have it and goes on to practically sound like he is frothing at the mouth with the give it to me, give it to me, give it to me baby, everything I need.....

And it's all over in just 2 minutes and 9 seconds. Sensational. If you don't own it, or if you haven't checked it out, then please do search for Otis Blue, the incredible album that this features on.


And then over to Aretha in 1967. Dear doctor, listen to her voice. The temp is higher, so is Aretha's voice and she twist the lyrics ever so slightly so there is no doubt that she is in charge. The song became an anthem for Civil Rights and Women's Rights and Redding was so impressed with Aretha's version that he introduced it as the famed Monterey Pop Festival as 'the song a girl took from me, a friend of mine, this girl, she just took this song.' Check it out below - what a performance!


Franklin certainly did. Backed by sisters Erma and Carolyn, she flies and soars through the song, barely pausing for breath. Listen to the way she sings Oooooh your kisses are sweeter than honey and then all I want you to DO for me

Franklin demands attention, demands respect, she is on fire, ripping through the song. The  R E S P E C T section is sublime, leading to the brilliant sock it to me, sock it to me backing vocals.

What a song, what a singer, what a cover version. One of the very, very best.


Previous covers of the month




Sunday, 14 May 2017

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 - O2 Academy


Last night Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 turned the O2 Academy in Glasgow into a wonderful sea of smiles, dancing, singing and yellow.

A 13-piece (plus guests!) band won hearts and mind with good time songs like Cross The Road, Dance Off, Ginger Girl, How Many Many's? These Are Not The Drugs You Are Looking For, International Sex Hero and Gay Icon.

Pic by Tracey McGuiness

Led by the bundle of energy that is the Colonel (John McAlinden) his band of merry men and girls created an atmosphere that was part rave, part Alice in Wonderland and 100% joyful and uplifting.

There was still time for politics - something that the band bring into their songs and videos; be that Freedom For The Children, Junkie Breakfast or a song that slammed the Tory Government and rhymed Tory with Jackanory. The Colonel and his Lieutenant David Blair (the Djancer) left no-one in any doubt that they should use their forthcoming vote to remove the Tories. The crowd went wild applauded.

The Dijon 5 are a wonderful band, 2 energetic female vocalists back up the Colonel, there are drums, keys/synths, guitars, bass, percussion and a fantastic horn section that can just lift the songs. Somehow, it all comes together in a quite glorious manner.

Pic by Linda Carter

There were no boundaries between the band and their fans - evident from the off when we arrived in time to see opening band Esperanza get the party started with their infectious upbeat ska. The Colonel and his band were in the crowd watching and greeting family, friends and fans. Everyone was made to feel welcome and this created a brilliant friendly atmosphere.

Dead Man Fall were second support and they blew me away and I kicked myself for not seeing them before. I'll definitely be going to see them again when they next play in Glasgow. Their singer played a couple of drums with a maraca and a tambourine to add a real Doves-y feel to come songs and a horn section created some beautiful vibes. Closer Bang Your Drum was sublime.

View from the stage as Dead Man Fall win some new fans
Pic courtesy of Dead Man Fall's twitter

And then it was on to the main event - bounding on stage to Crosstown Traffic, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 were in the mood to party......and they did!

Last night was a wild celebration of the band and their yellow movement with loads of dancing onstage and in the crowd. As the gig peaked more and more guests joined the band on stage to create a real old school rave atmosphere. Band and audience were as one. The band are all about fun but they are seriously talented and created a real melting pot of sounds that created huge grins as wide as the Clyde across the venue.

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 tap into your endorphins, mix them around for a bit and then make them explode. The Colonel led the crowd 'across the road' on a segway, got us to dance through a mixture of moves like - drive your car, disco disco disco, first pump, speed bump..... and the Dancer got down into the crowd to lead a dance off and then crowd surfed on an inflatable unicorn!

Pic by Dan Reardon

Their Peace, Love and Mustard anthem was euphoric, as was an incredible These Are Not The Drugs You Are Looking For.  The band are playing loads of festivals across the summer - go and see them if you can, or ensure you grab a ticket for their next Glasgow show.

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 are unique, brilliant, uplifting, fun, brilliant musicians and very friendly and genuine people.



Monday, 8 May 2017

Love Power by The Sandpebbles


I recently bought a magnificent compilation album 1967 : The Year Pop Divided, out on Ace Records Author and music buff Jon Savage chose the tracks and he chose them well.

There are some magnificent songs, but you know that way when one stands out and you play it over and over? Well I got that with the stunning Love Power by The Sandpebbles.


Love Power hit number 14 on the Billboard singles chart and was the sole hit for the band. What a hit it was though!

Ringing bells and a throbbing bass are quickly followed by a powerful and soulful vocal that draws us in quickly. The extra beat that comes in with the horns and the rising vocal for the chorus just lifted me up out of my seat as I was driving along the first time I heard it.

The driving beat goes one step further when the chorus is repeated and then there is a glorious breakdown and things go even higher. The lyrics convey someone head over heels in love, being in that beautiful bubble where it feels like nothing else matters and everything is going your way. What a tune, you believe every word.

When we walk down the street
Oh, we don't care who we see or who we meet
Don't have to run (run), don't have to hide (hide)
Cause we have something burning inside

Cause we got love (love) power (power)
And it's the greatest power of them all
Oh we've got love (love) power (power)
And together we can't fall

Sometimes we're up (up) sometimes we're down (down)
But our feet are always on the ground
We always laugh (laugh), don't have to cry (cry)
And this is the reason why

Cause we got love (love) power (power)
And it's the greatest power of them all
Oh we've got love (love) power (power)
And together we can't fall

instrumental

verse 2 repeated
chorus repeated




.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Colonel Mustard podcast



Earlier on this week I had the pleasure of spending some time in the company of the 2 front men from Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 - a band who have snowballed in the last few years, winning friends and fans wherever and whenever they play, selling out the Barrowland Ballroom and the ABC - unsigned and self managed.

John McMustard (McAlinden) and David Blair have had a ball and their good vibes and fun times have transferred to their audience. People dance, people smile, people have a great time and leave wanting to tell others to go and see them next time they play.

The band have just released the single Cross The Road b/w Freedom for the Children digitally (8th May) and on ltd yellow 7-inch vinyl via their website and Love Music in Glasgow.

They then play the Academy on Saturday 13th May with support from friends Dead Man Fall and Esperanza. It's been an amazing journey for them - get along to see them if you can, it will be amazing.

Check out this special podcast with tunes from Colonel Mustard themselves, 2 of their favourite bands from in and around Glasgow and an all-time fave in the shape of Primal Scream.

It's a fascinating discussion taking in all night acoustic jam sessions in disused mental hospitals, nursery rhymes, hymns, Screamadelica, Primal Scream's rider, festivals, South Korea, going from pubs to the Academy, running a 13 piece band, the yellow movement, Eddy Grant I Don't Wanna Dance and Adam Ant's Prince Charming, the 6th Dijon, writing with a 4-year old, the second album, dreams of playing the Hydro and much, much more....

Cross The Road - Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5
Bang The Drum - Dead Man Fall
Movin' On Up - Primal Scream
Freedom for the Children - Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5
Galactic Radio - The Mickey 9's

Monday, 1 May 2017

Never Ending Mixtape part 8



I've had a great month of discovering all kinds of music/artists that I previously hadn't heard, as well as rediscovering some old faves. So this is the largest monthly addition to the Never Ending Playlist yet!

The Never Ending Mixtape began in October 2016 when I finally discovered Spotify after years of saying I would never use it. Watch The Sunrise by Big Star kicked things off, joined by the Velvets, Spiritualized, Tricky, Massive Attack, Belly, Mazzy Star, The Orb, The Smiths.....all kinds of things.

Each month I make some additions to the Never Ending Mixtape and the blog allows me to either reminisce about old favourites, seeing acts live or where and when I bought/heard the song, or to talk about recent discoveries.

You can check the Never Ending Mixtape below and then read on to find out the latest additions.

Look Up In The Sky (Negro Nature) - Francis The Great
I heard this on the Lauren Laverne show last year - what a tune!


I Feel Like I've Been Living (On The Dark Side Of The Moon) - Gene Page
I was looking for another song by Gene Page (All Our Dreams Are Coming True - the song my wife walked down the aisle to, it's not on Spotify) when I discovered this. It was the title that attracted me.


Love's Theme (instrumental)/Under The Influence of Love (vocal) - Love Unlimited
Sensationally uplifting and gorgeous string led instrumental changes into something completely different but just as good. Enjoy this one.


Found A Cure (Tom Moulton mix) - Ashford and Simpson
I discovered this while browsing for Greg Wilson mixes or re-edits on Spotify. Brilliant!


Summer Came My Way - Greg Wilson edit
I first heard this a few years ago when Greg Wilson played Melting Pot at The Admiral. Just sublime and uplifting.


Cocaine Blues (Greg Wilson mix) - Escort
Insanely good, the mix and production are spot on.


Jumpin' Jack Flash - Ananda Shankar
First heard on an old David Holmes mix, this guy sure knows how to dig out a gem


You're So Vain - Carly Simon
So who is/was this song about? Warren Beatty? Mick Jagger? I read an article recently where Carly Simon confirmed that Jagger sings backing vocals. Listen on headphones and it is all too clear. He was certainly vain! A gem of a song.


Tired Of Being Alone - Al Green
There have already been a few times on the Never Ending Playlist where I have simply said that it doesn't get much better than this. This is another one of those times.


Roadrunner - The Modern Lovers
I have this LP on delicious red vinyl. Brilliant guitar pop punk song.


Free Again - Alex Chilton
One of the rarest Teenage Fanclub records I own is a 7-inch import of rip roaring version of Free Again. It instantly became a favourite song of mine.



Stop And Smell The Roses - Television Personalities
One of the best names for a band ever, this song came on randomly when I had spotify on recently.


Anything Could Happen - The Clean
Another Spotify discovery at random. Love the raw vocals over acoustic and electric guitars and a simple beat. Rock n roll.


Streets Of Your Town - The Go Betweens
I caught The Go Betweens at the Renfrew Ferry a number of years ago. They were astonishingly good. I didn't know much of their music, my friend Ian bought me a ticket and I fell for their melodic guitar pop and charm instantly. This is a good example of why.


Black and White - The dB's
Another random Spotify discovery that I really enjoyed. There is such an urgency about this from the vocals all the way to the handclaps. I love the line we are finished, as of a lifetime ago


I Am The Cosmos - Chris Bell
Norman Blake, Bobby Gillespie and Tim Burgess have all highlighted this song in interviews over the years. Listen to find out why.


The Concept - Teenage Fanclub
Is this the first Fannies song on the playlist?! Well it is back to where it all started with the Fanclub for me, discovering them in 1991 through Bandwagonesque and this sublime chiming guitar pop and harmony driven beauty.


Echoes - Gene Clarke
Another guy that Norman, Bobby and co hold up in awe. I can never walk into Monorail Records in Glasgow and come away empty handed. One time i bought this after reading a review in Uncut or Mojo and i was not disappointed. How clever, amazing and wonderful this song is!


Clouds - The Jayhawks
Wichita - The Jayhawks
I caught a program on BBC Scotland from Cottiers Theatre in my mid-late teens and i was transfixed by The Jayhawks. What a band! Hollywood Town Hall is an incredible album. I fell for that perfect mix of acoustic rhythm and electric lead. Here are the 2-songs that were broadcast.



Wish You Were Here - Ryan Adams
I thought I was going to be listening to a Pink Floyd cover when I stumbled across this on YouTube. Listen for the superb use of swearing!