Thursday, 14 June 2018

Everything Flows TV - Episode 2 - Teenage Fanclub

Welcome to Episode 2 of Everything Flows TV.

This episode is dedicated to my favourite band and features footage from the early 1990's through to present day.

Enjoy some wonderful performances which capture the talent, personality and joy that Teenage Fanclub brings to people across the world.

'Bandwagonesque, the best album of 1991, they come from Scotland, performing What You Do To Me, Teenage Fanclub' 

Teenage Fanclub, riding high after Spin Magazine voted Bandwagonesque the best album of 1991, beating the likes of Screamadelica, Loveless and Nevermind, romp through the melodic pop of What You Do To Me and then tear into Pet Rock with Norman pulling his hood up and rocking out on guitar with Raymond. I love Pet Rock in particular, there is a special energy in their performance!

Channel 4's The White Room, presented by Mark Radcliffe, was essential viewing in the 1990's. A kind of Britpop twist on Later With Jools with 100% less likelihood of Radcliffe joining in to jam with a band on 'the old Joanna'. 

This clip kind of encapsulates everything I love about Teenage Fanclub. Melodies, harmonies, incredible songwriting, a choice cover version, the band clearly having fun on stage and just generally displaying how brilliant they are with no fuss at all.

Live from the Reading Festival in 1992, Teenage Fanclub are flying. We have a relatively quick The Concept before a glorious 6-minute + version of Everything Flows with Brendan O'Hare in sensational form on drums and the band looking like they are having the time of their lives.

Live on Oddball TV in 1997, the band romp through the power pop perfection that is Take The Long Way Round

Live on the Conan O'Brien Show in 1993 with Escher

Live on Later With Jools performing Radio and their cover of Older Guys.

Snub TV - a short interview and Everything Flows

Live  Alcoholiday - always one to cherish when they play it live.

Live at T in the Park in 1996 with Neil Jung

Teenage Fanclub live at BBC Scotland HQ - I was fortunate to be in the audience just a few feet from the band.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A Northern Soul

I recently revisited The Verve's A Northern Soul LP. What an album! The menacing A New Decade, the ferocious proclamation This Is Music, the fragile and beautiful History, personal favourite Drive You Home, the blissed out psych groove of Life's An Ocean and the staggeringly brilliant Stormy Clouds/Reprise to close. All absolutely amazing!

With A Northern Soul The Verve reached a rarely scaled peak when they became, in my eyes, a perfect band - the cool frontman, incredible guitarist and a tight groove based rhythm section reaching for the stars and the sun. They got there.

Prior to their second album The Verve had been releasing blissed out psychedelic groove based singles and EP's, also their debut LP A Storm In Heaven. The title really kind of matched the sound they were searching for.

But they really hit the groove with A Northern Soul. 9 of the 12 tracks are longer than 5-minutes in length, 4 stretch beyond the 6-minute mark. Allowing the band the space and time to reach magical places.

Their was ferocity in the shape of A New Decade and This Is Music. Both were declarations, the latter let rip with Ashcroft proclaiming I've been on the shelf for too long and then going on to ask how is the world gonna take me?

I remember watching the video on the sadly defunct chart show and it blew me away. This band were on it. In more ways than one.

The energy portrayed in their videos and captured on vinyl was amplified live when Ashcroft seemed to be like a man possessed. A Barrowland show in between A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns just as Bittersweet Symphony came out will live long in my memory.

Ashcroft highlights his progress as a songwriter with the beautifully flowing On Your Own before the epic ballad History, with the first use of strings that would go on to feature so prominently on the Urban Hymns album. It is a stunning song, Ashcroft is on fire, singing his heart out for a lost love. It's soulful and to the point.

I've gotta tell you my tale
Of how I've loved and how I've failed

Because it's you and me we're history
There ain't nothing left to say

The Verve's ability to jam and create special moments comes across throughout the album; Ashcroft pours his heart out; talking about his family, his vision of how he will die, love, life, death and the universe.

But they really hit their peak towards the end when the last 3-tracks; Life's An Ocean, Stormy Clouds and (Reprise) really evidencing the exceptional talent of all the musicians and Ashcroft as a singer, writer, improviser and performer. Stormy clouds, new horizons .... The Verve were prepared to ride storms to get to where they wanted to go, just listen to and marvel at the stunning (Reprise).

If you haven't listened to this album then strap yourself in. If you have, then I hope you enjoy revisiting it like I did recently. The Spotify link (to the remastered album with demos and b-sides from the era) and a couple of stunning live videos are below.

Imagine the future
Woke up with a scream
I was buying some feelings
From a vending machine

Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Pastels at the Mackintosh Church

Last night I got to catch The Pastels playing under a full moon ..... indoors!

The show was part of a series set in the stunning Mackintosh Church at Queens Cross in Glasgow where there is currently giant inflatable moon, measuring 7-metres in diameter, suspended above where people go to worship. The moon, featuring 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface and it is the work of the artist Luke Jerram. It is pretty spectacular!

Emm ... better go downstairs to see the stage

Synergy Concerts have booked a string of shows while the moon is on and they have really caught the attention of the Glasgow gig going public.

Last night featured 3 artists and I made sure I was in the venue for shortly after opening, firstly to have a look at the moon before it got too busy, secondly to ensure I caught the set of opening act Andrew Wasylyk.

I discovered Andrew after browsing albums that have been nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year Award. His Themes For Buildings And Spaces album is a widescreen, dreamy, cinematic wonder and I hope it advances to the longlist. I think it could win.

Andrew came on stage with 7 friends and announced he was going to play the full 9-song album - result! The subsequent performance made me appreciate the album even further. The way the band gelled, the way the bass grooved, the way the horns enhanced the beautiful melodies being played on piano and glockenspiel .... it was a brilliant performance. Kind of David Axelrod at times.

I would encourage you all to check the album out. Andrew's ability to create beautiful soundscapes is very special.

Modern Studies were the second act on an excellent triple bill. With 2 backing singers they set out to create an expansive noise. While they managed that, it was only the second half of their set that I really got into. They have recently released their second album Welcome Strangers via Fire Records.

On to The Pastels. As they were setting up I got talking to the girl (lady) in front of me. It was an interesting conversation as she told me how she chose to attend Glasgow University because of her love of The Pastels and how she used to go into John Smith's Bookshop on Byres Road because Stephen worked there! As she was a couple of years older than me, The Pastels debut Up For A Bit with The Pastels arrived at the perfect time for her.

She wasn't the only one to come to church to worship The Pastels. The audience ranged from teenagers to (I imagine) people in their 60's. Their influence has been felt across the world and they are still mentioned in wonder by young guitar bands breaking through like The Orielles and the band offer so much support to these acts.

So much care goes into the creation of a Pastels song. They have impeccable taste and high standards. Songs from Slow Summits, their most recent album, made up most of the set The 6 piece line-up played superbly, the sound for all acts was impeccable, the natural acoustics of the church worked wonders.

It was an interesting experience to sit down and watch The Pastels. I found myself checking and appreciating the simplicity of some of the chord changes and how the band jammed and grooved on two/three chord riffs at times. The two members who alternated between keys/synths/flute and brass created wonderful melodies over the grooves.

Kicking Leaves was introduced as 'a West End song', Summer Rain is quintessential Pastels - both songs offer so much in terms of visualisation and feeling. 

Night Time Made Us was possibly my favourite song of the night. Everything came together and the way the band jammed at the end was all kinds of dreamy gorgeousness.

Check My Heart was a summer pop delight, Katrina's beats and rolls throughout the set were faultless and again, sitting down to watch The Pastels allowed me time to appreciate all members skills even more. 

Baby Honey caused two people to waltz down the aisle to dance at the front, the energy from the song is remarkable, the one chord riff/drone with lead guitar over the top creates a great groove.

It has been 5-years since the Slow Summits album and I hope The Pastels introduce us to some new music in the near future. And part of me wonders if the band would be tempted (like so many are these days) to play shows taking in classic albums/periods. I'm positive that would be extremely well received.

But that said - every period with The Pastels is classic. 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Dancing With Myself

Cover version of the month #36
The Donna's cover Billy Idol

Woops! I missed my cover of the month in May. So I'll write 2 covers based blogs in June ... I hope!

I recently read the magnificent Meet Me In The Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman - based on the New York City music scene from 2001-2011. It is a magnificent read, jam packed full of snapshot interviews and recollections with everyone who was (and is) anyone connected to the scene.

I found myself browsing Spotify as I was listening and I checked The Donna's a band who get a brief mention in the book. I checked their song Dancing With Myself and it immediately felt familiar but I couldn't place it. I thought I must have heard it at the time.... but it was so perfect, why had I not bought it?

Well it turns out it sounded familiar because it is a cover of Billy Idol song, one he released 3-times, first as Generation X, then as Gen X, before finally scoring a hit with a remixed version when he launched as a solo artist.

The Donna's stay true to the original on their version which was released via the film Mean Girls. It's a cracking song, flowing superbly and full of hooks that implant themselves in your head on first listen.

Idol produced some brilliant pop punk songs and this is one of them - more pop than punk. It's fun, cool and just a great song. Check all the versions mentioned below.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

T T T Technicolour Melodies

Sometime earlier this year I vowed to write shorter snapshot blogs on albums I enjoy. This hasn't happened! I still set out to write feature length blogs and end up with half written blogs sitting in my drafts box for months on end - many stay there!

And this one has been unfinished for a couple of months - I originally intended to finish and publish it back in April. With Super 8 planning the follow up in the summer, I thought I'd better get this one out there!

Read on for a review and interview.

T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies by Super 8 is an album I stumbled across earlier this year. The modern art/psychedelic cover art was captivating in its own way, but delving into the album brought great reward. It's homemade, warm, melodic and lovely and all the work of one person - who goes under the guise of Trip.

The home recorded album is full of warmth, from the opening Tomorrow's Just Another Day through to closer My Sweet Baby Jane. There are all kinds of instruments, loads of melodies, unexpected breaks and a lot of love.

Opener Tomorrow's Just Another Day has one of the unexpected breaks mentioned above and also a stunning little add on at the end, just when you think the song is about to finish it takes a glorious turn.

I need you in my life
Yeah I need you in my life
You in my life to make it alright

Catsuit is a favourite of mine. It reminds me of The Lemonheads/Evan Dando in the way it is written and flows so naturally.

Renting a lighthouse for you
Taking a right hook for you
Sticking my neck out for you
Saving my last smoke for you

Even at only 2 minutes 23 seconds, there is still time for Trip to add on a little refrain, he has an uncanny knack for being able to find an extra little melody and hook.

Last Final Cigarette and To Morocco are two more brilliant examples of how naturally talented Trip is. Acoustic guitars, melodies, stories, thoughts and dreams pour out of him.

The title track has a bit of the Beta Band to it. Homemade groove based psychedelic pop. Then we have the simply gorgeous Just A Serenade. This is a gem. Trip's voice is raw and pure as he pours his heart out.

S.K.Y (Stop Killing Yourself) was a title that immediately grabbed my attention and a dreamy intro leads to a gorgeous song and I love the line pick yourself up off the ceiling

You can stream and buy the album below from the Super 8 bandcamp page. Read on for an interview with Trip - the man behind Super 8.

1. Who are Super 8? Ha! Ha! Who indeed? Just Me, Myself and I!

2. What have you released to date? Just the one album … so far! I’m currently busy working on the next one.

3. How did you find the label you have released your latest album on? I didn’t - they found me as it turned out! They heard my cover of Serious Drugs and got in touch. When they heard my own original songs, they wanted to get involved.*

4. Do you have any plans for the album or touring? No real master plan as such. I guess I’d just like as many folk as possible to hear this music I make. Of course, I realise that touring helps to promote music but I recorded this entire album at home on my own. It would be pretty hard to try & recreate it in a ‘one-man-band’ style I’d imagine. That said, I’m not completely ruling the idea out, I’m just saying it would be difficult! I’d need to keep an eye out for one of those bass drums you strap to your back for starters plus I’d need some cymbals, a cello and a trumpet that I could somehow operate with my feet whilst simultaneously strumming guitar blowing on a harmonica. That should do it!  

5. What influenced the album? Well, I’d been playing stripped-back acoustic versions of my songs at open mic nights through in Edinburgh but, whilst playing them acoustically, I was hearing them in a more ‘symphonic’ way inside my head & needed to find a way of recording these definitive versions. After a few botched attempts in so-called professional studios, I finally realised that the way to do these songs justice was to go into self-imposed exile, batten down the hatches & just record everything myself at home … using a battered old portastudio. After much blood, sweat and tears, the finished result you hear on “T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies!” is the closest I’ve been able to get to how this particular batch of songs plays inside my head.

6. How do you write? Does it vary from song to song?  I tend to start off with my old faithful acoustic guitar. It could be a chord progression or a riff then, off the back of that, I’ll hope that what I’m doing reveals some kind of vocal melody that I’ll jam over the top with. If it does I’ll press record then, on playback, try to find any seeds of an idea that I can begin to work up into a finished, realised song.    

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Never Ending Mixtape Part 24

My Never Ending Mixtape now has over 600 songs! Welcome to the 24th installment.

Welcome to the latest additions where we kick off with a euphoric house/trance remix of Moby, I discover songs from Pan Amsterdam, King Khan and the Shrines, a new one by Eleanor Friedberger and dig into Norman Blake's extra curricular activities from Teenage Fanclub with some beautiful tunes from Jonny and a great song with Jad Fair.

Elsewhere we have two psychedelic classics from The Beatles, Stuart David's post Belle and Sebastian outfit Looper with the glorious Mondo 77, there is plenty of soul including the euphoric Higher and Higher, a brilliant pop single from Shocking Blue and glorious 90's indie from Madder Rose. Oh and what about Prince with Nothing Compares To You!? Not to mention Wichita Lineman!

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify and dig in to some of my favourite songs and tunes and artists I discover as I go. Or CLICK HERE.

I hope you find something you haven't heard before that you love.

This Wild Darkness (CYA remix) - Moby
The Lotion Song - Pan Amsterdam
Nothing Compares To You - Prince
Mondo 77 - Looper
I Want To Be Around You - Jonny
Never Alone - Jonny
Add Your Name - Jad Fair and Norman Blake
Is It Like Today - World Party
Welfare Bread - King Khan and the Shrines
Make Me A Song - Eleanor Friedberger
Time Is Tight - Booker T and the M.G's
I Am The Walrus - The Beatles
Respect Yourself - The Staple Singers
Israelites - Desmond Dekker and the Aces
The Clapping Song - Shirley Ellis
My World Is Empty Without You - The Supremes
A Horse with No Name - America
Mellow Yellow - Donovan
Venus - Shocking Blue
Tumbling Dice - The Rolling Stones
Band On The Run - Paul McCartney
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson
Wichita Lineman - Gen Campbell
Ain't Got No Life - Nina Simone
Love's Theme - The Love Unlimited Orchestra
Stronger Than Her Love - The Flirtations
Swim - Madder Rose
What Holly Sees - Madder Rose
When Your Smile - Madder Rose
For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield
A Day In The Life - The Beatles

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Getting Away With It

Getting Away With It by Electronic is one of my all-time favourite songs. It is majestic pop courtesy courtesy of Bernard Sumner (New Order), Johnny Marr (The Smith) and Neil Tenant (Pet Shop Boys) coming together to create something quite perfect.

Sumner and Marr co-wrote the music, with Sumner and Tenant co-writing the lyrics and the opening line is a beauty, coming shortly after the catchy stabbing piano chords and dreamy strings.

I've been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose

Bernard Sumner delivers potentially his best vocal performance. And he doesn't hang about in getting to the hook and chorus, his voice beautifully entwining with Neil Tenant's.

I've been getting away with it all my life (getting away)
However I look it's clear to see that I love you more than you love me
However I look it's clear to see that I love you more than you love me

The second verse follows instantly, Sumner pouring his heart out in a lyric Marr's other songwriting partner would have been proud of, but Sumner's performance and delivery is a million miles away from that of Morrissey.

I hate that mirror it makes me feel so worthless
I'm an original sinner but when I'm with you I couldn't care less

The song is brilliantly written (musically and lyrically), structured, performed and produced. I love singing it, I love dancing to it and I love listening to it.

I thought I gave up falling in love a long, long time ago
I guess I like it but I can't tell you, you shouldn't really know

I've been talking to myself just to suggest that I'm selfish
I've been trying to suggest that more is less and I'm repressed

It was the Electronic's debut single - I struggle to think of a better one, although the trio admittedly had quite a background! Here they are performing the song on Top of the Pops.

Greg Wilson, my favourite DJ also loves and appreciate this song - so much that he edited and 11-minute 30 second version of it!