Monday, 22 July 2019

A Catholic Education

The run of Teenage Fanclub shows at the end of 2019 where they played their Creation Records albums over 3-nights will live long in my memory. The bands rich back catalogue from 1991-2000 was rolled out in all its glory. Songs were dusted off, from Sidewinder to Near You, with the likes of Tears Are Cool, Discolite and Winter in between. Not to mention some impeccable b-sides, including a sublime and very moving Broken, and rarities from the era.

The shows brought immense joy but they were also tinged by sadness with the news that Gerry Love was leaving the band. It could have been worse, the band could have broken up. Thankfully everything was amicable and everything has gone well since.

Teenage Fanclub have brought long term friend Euros Childs in on keyboards and Dave has gone to bass, they have released a new single and blazed a trail across the world from January through to July.

This is a brand new era for the Fanclub and ahead of the bands Scottish summer shows at Kelvingrove Bandstand, scene of a triumphant show in 2014, and Leith Theatre, I thought I'd take a look back all the way to A Catholic Education their debut LP, released 29-years ago in 1990, recorded 30-years ago in July 1989.

The studio time for A Catholic Education was funded when Raymond McGinley's neighbour passed away and left him a couple of kitchen appliances, including a fridge. They were duly sold to fund recordings of songs Raymond had been writing with his friend Norman Blake following the demise of their band The Boy Hairdressers.

Along with drummer Francis MacDonald, also formerly of The Boy Hairdressers, the trio recruited bassist Gerry Love in May of 1989 and by July Teenage Fanclub began recording after only a few rehearsals.

Blake and McGinley didn't want to hang around with their new band and the  melodic, grungy, and heartfelt songs on A Catholic Education have a rawness, energy, innocence and purity to them that has helped the album age well.

Not many bands capture their developing sound on vinyl, most wait until they are fully formed and polished. Digging into A Catholic Education for the first time in a while, it is evident that the Fanclub were capturing something pretty special.

On songs like the spellbinding Everything Flows there is a sense that everything is coming together, on the title track and Too Involved it sounds like everything could also easily fall apart.

early Teenage Fanclub

The sense of humour and fun that the band clearly display in interviews and onstage to this day is also all over the album, beginning with the instrumental opener Heavy Metal. It's not, it's simply a  jam but it somehow feels like a perfect opener.

And then we have the majestic Everything Flows, the song that this blog takes its name from. The guitars are glorious, sounding as if the band might have been listening to some Neil Young, the lyrics  have a perspective and maturity beyond Norman Blake's (then) 24 years of age.

We get older every day
But you don't change
Or I don't notice you changing

Released as the bands debut single, Everything Flows is a song that generates goosebumps and tingles for fans across the world and remains a staple, often as set closer, in the bands live sets to this day. It drives on, you don't want it to end.  The song is like a fine wine, getting better and more meaningful with age.

Live from Reading - Everything Flows

Catholic Education has the rawness and sense that it could fall apart that I wrote about above, the band crash through riffs, the drumming is ferocious and Blake simply sings You wanna turn your back on everything, You wanna turn your back on everyone, Well I try before the song descends into a fun jam and it's over in under two and a half minutes.

I love the warm guitars in Too Involved, I love the lazy intro to Don't Need A Drum and Raymond riffing along before taking on a solo.

Crticial Mass is an unpolished gem featuring early use of harmonies on the chorus. The guitars are gloriously raw.

When I switched off my feelings is when I lost control
Couldn't say what I was needing
Something I didn't know 

Heavy Metal II is another jam before the band absolutely tear through a reprise of Catholic Education. 

There is a song I had forgotten from the album, Eternal Light. There is a ring of The Byrds in the opening guitars and the song has a loving shambolic flow to it.

Every Picture I Paint is a favourite of mine. I've always loved the guitars, Norman's voice, the way the song hangs together, the band tear through it and the chorus forced home,

It takes a hundred thousand colours just to paint you
And every picture that I paint doesn't capture you

The album ends with Everybody's Fool, another loose romp. The band find a melody and groove with ease and the recording sounds raw, live and spontaneous.

As much as I enjoy A Catholic Education, it barely sets the scene for what was to come from Bandwagonesque onwards and in a way that is what makes it special. For me, A Catholic Education, is a glimpse of a band (a gang) forming, in progress, sounding raw, stoned and/or pissed, live, spontaneous and full of fun.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Where's The Playground Susie

Trust me #3
Where's The Playground Susie? by Glen Campbell

The third in a feature. No words from me, just the song and the lyrics.

Trust me .... and check out Where's The Playground Susie?

The end has come and found us here
With our toys scattered all around us here
The puzzle that we never found an answer for
Still asks us darlin' what all the games were for
And here we stand, in a box of sand

Where's the playground Susie?
You're the one who's supposed to know her way around
If I don't stay around
If I don't stay around

The carousel has stopped us here
It twirled a time or two and then it dropped us here
And still you're not content with something about me
But what merry-go-round can you ride without me?
To take your hand
How would you stand?

Where's the playground Susie?
You're the one who's supposed to know her way around
If I don't stay around
If I don't stay around

Where's the playground Susie?
You're the one who's supposed to know her way around
If I don't stay around
If I don't stay around

Written by Jimmy Webb

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

I Am I Said

The third in the Trust Me series, no musings or description from me. Just the song and the lyrics.
Trust me and check out I Am, I Said by Neil Diamond.

Kudos to my sister Carla J Easton who played this song on her LP Radio show recently - a belter! Check out the new online station HERE

L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is 'lay back'
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin' about making my way back

Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays
I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine but it ain't home
New York's home
But it ain't mine no more

I am ... I said
To no-one there
And no-one heard at all
Not even the chair

I am ... I cried
I am ... said I
And I am lost and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still

Did you ever read about a frog
Who dreamed of bein' a king
And then became one
Well except for the names
And a few other changes
If you talk about me
The story is the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I've tried
But it won't let me go
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared
For the sound of being alone

I am ... I said
To no-one there
And no-one heard at all
Not even the chair
I am ... I cried
I am ... said I
And I am lost and I can't
Even say why
I am ... I said
I am ... I cried
I am

Previous - Trust Me
1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
2. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells

Friday, 28 June 2019

10 from Kylie

I'm really looking forward to Kylie at Glastonbury this Sunday with her hit packed set due to be broadcast live on BBC1. Oh to be there as Kylie takes a sun soaked crowd on a glorious pop journey through her greatest hits. Her new Step Back In Time collection is out today.

Kylie is a pop princess who I grew up with, from Neighbours, through the Stock, Aitken and Waterman years, indie Kylie, duets with Nick Cave, the second coming in the 00's, several heartbreaks, cancer and becoming a national treasure.

Kylie at T in the Park in 1995 was a dream. I was determined to get to the front of the stage and ducked and dived through the crowd, looking round to find I was leading a conga with one guy saying 'we're following you wee man, keep going'. I still regret not buying a Kylie Kat t-shirt in the style of the Kit Kat logo.

The second time I caught Kylie I was in the second row of the SECC Armadillo. What a night that was! My friend Phil and I spent the afternoon in McChuills and jumped a cab. We sang and danced our hearts out. This was post Spinning Around and Kylie was on the way back up after some years in the wilderness. Gold hot pants that Kylie bought in a charity shop became a national talking point!

The third and final time I caught Kylie was in the SECC and again I was right down the front losing it to her pure pop perfection. What a show she put on!

Of course I fancied Kylie, I still do.I love her songs, I love her attitude, her performances and her personality. I think she will be incredible at Glastonbury.

Here are my top 10 favourite Kylie songs

1. Better The Devil You Know

Pure euphoric pop. Hi NRG with Kylie smouldering in a thin black dress. I love Kylie's hair in this one - stunning. I used to play this song when I DJ'd and by the end I would turn the chorus down to hear the crowd singing. Even if it was the first time people had heard it they would be singing along. The power of pop. Pure pop perfection.

2. Spinning Around
This was a kind of comeback single. Kylie hadn't featured in the UK top 10 since 1994's Confide In Me before the release of this incredible pop gem in the summer of 2000. It was everywhere; Kylie was back, Kylie was everywhere and the world seemed like a brighter and happier place.

3. All The Lovers
Dance, it's all I wanna do, so won't you dance?

What a line to open a song and then you have the chorus;

All the lovers that have gone before, they don't compare to you

How would you feel if Kylie sang that to you?!

It's 2010 and this is a different Kylie; more mature, assured, giving advice rather than doubting herself. The song takes off with a glorious synth solo, the video has Kylie crowdsurfing on top of underwear clad models in downtown LA, sounding breathless, sexy, in control.

4. I Believe In You
A co-write with Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters (apparently there is a long lost album of co-writes) this is stunning pop that flows superbly, lifting for the chorus. The synths bubble into action and as the beat kicks in. Pop perfection.

I don't believe I'd love somebody just to pass the time

I, I, I believe in you

5. Love At First Sight
Released in 2002, Kylie was riding high on a run of sensational pop singles that started with Spinning Around and took in Kids with Robbie Williams, Can't Get You Out Of My Head and In Your Eyes.

Kylie bopps about in the video, looking sensational. The song grabs you instantly and takes off into Donna Summer at times. It's Kylie pop brilliance.

6. Can't Get You Out Of My Head
WHAT. A. TUNE! Written by pop genius Cathy Dennis, Can't Get You Out Of My Head is an earworm that you can't get rid of. It is a pretty simple song, but it's hook heavy and the hooks are rammed home.

2000 TO 2002 was peak Kylie for me, a pop princess was crowned during this iconic performance at the Brits when the song was mashed with New Order's Blue Monday. CLASS!

7. Some Kind Of Bliss
A co-write with the Manic St Preachers, this single only reached number 27, incredibly low for Kylie, but I love it. It's indie Kylie, it's refreshing that guitars are to the fore and synths are banished, with key strings underpinning the chorus. And Kylie sound very fresh, natural and it is clear that she is enjoying singing it. Another fave Kylie hairstyle of mine.

8. What Do I Have To Do?
Catchy, cheeky, hi energy pop, this comes during the first of Kylie's two current career peaks (in my opinion). Released in 1991, it was the 3rd single in a glorious run of Better The Devil You Know, Step Back In Time, What Do I Have To Do? and Shocked. The Stock, Aitken and Waterman glory years!

Kylie looks fantastic, smouldering on a throne like chair in a blonde wig, tearing up the dancefloor in as a brunette pixie and looking fresh in a pool. The chorus takes a minute to kick in but when it does it is absolutely HUGE and it is repeated for good measure.

What do I have to do to get the message through
How can I prove I really love you

9. Put Yourself In My Place
It would be easy to place Step Back In Time or Shocked in my top 10, but I'm going for Put Yourself In My Place from 1994. It's a different side to Kylie and I love the way her voice soars when the chorus comes in with the line you know the circle will come around

Kylie had left the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable that had brought her so much success and signed with indie label DeConstruction. Kylie was now working with the likes of M-People and Brothers in Rythm to widen her artistic credentials.

The video is pretty incredible! Inspired by Barbarella, Minogue floats around in a spaceship shedding her clothes. As an 18-year old this blew my mind!

10. I Should Be So Lucky
It is pure unadulterated pop, simple, catchy and you find yourself singing on first listen ... on every listen. Minogue dancing through her living room and into the bath captivated the world, but the video needed the song with it. What a song; imagination, dreams coming true, lucky in love ....

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Never Ending Mixtape part 37

Welcome to a bonus Never Ending Mixtape for June.

There are songs I have just discovered by the likesThe Rain Parade, Whyte Horses, Jacques Dutronc, Nick Lowe, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Diamond and Paul Westerberg.

Old favourites by the Roses, Lemonheads, the Bunnymen, Charlatans and the Chemical Brothers. And some choice 60's cuts by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (who were incredible in Glasgow at the start of the month), the Rolling Stones the Flying Burrito Brothers and a stunning song by Kle that features on a Brian Wilson tribute album called Caroline Now that I would thoroughly recommend checking out.

You'll need to scroll down to the end of the playlist for the latest additions. Read on to for the full list.

Talking In My Sleep - The Rain Parade
Oh Happy Day (live) - Spiritualized
The Best Of It - Whyte Horses
The Snowfalls - Whyte Horses
She Owns The World - Whyte Horses
Baby Let Me Down - Tommy James and the Shondells
Comes Home Baby - The Charlatans
Live Forever - Oasis
Le responsable - Jacques Dutronc
Oogum Boogum - Alex Chilton
Nowhere To Run - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas
(Love Is Like A) Heatwave - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas
Cruel To Be Kind - Nick Lowe
If I Needed You - Townes Van Zandt
Dyslexic Heart - Paul Westerberg
You Say You Don't Love Me - Buzzcocks
No-one There - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
It Changes - Amber Arcades
Rushing - Moby
Nothing Ever Lasts Forever - Echo and the Bunnymen
The Cutter - Echo and the Bunnymen
Ten Storey Love Song - Stone Roses
If I Could Talk I'd Tell You - The Lemonheads
Rudderless - The Lemonheads
It's About Time - The Lemonheads
You Can Take It With You - The Lemonheads
Up The Junction - Squeeze
Title Fight - The Charlatans
Pool Hall Richard - The Faces
You Are My Friend - The Rain Parade
Child of the Moon - The Rolling Stones
Hurricane - The Prisoners
Find and Seek - The Prisoners
You Keep Me Hangin' On - The Supremes
Across The Universe - The Beatles
Feel Flows - The Charlatans
Dripping Sun - Kikagaku Moyo
She Said Yeah - The Rolling Stones
I'm Free - The Rolling Stones
Gotta Get Away - The Rolling Stones
Rainbow Eyes - Kle
Life Is Sweet - The Chemical Brothers
Cody Cody - The Flying Burrito Brothers
Christine's Tune - The Flying Burrito Brothers
That's Alright By Me - Gene Clark
I Want You - Bob Dylan
Not Dark Yet - Bob Dylan
Tears - The Chameleons
Life From A Window - The Jam
I Am ... I Said - Neil Diamond

Sunday, 23 June 2019

What would the world have been like without The Beatles?

The Guardian feature on what would the world have been like without The Beatles ahead of the new Yesterday film got me thinking ... what would it have been like?!

Would as many kids have picked up guitars and form garage bands in America and beat bands across the UK?

Would kids have grown their hair into that famed moptop that provoked so much debate and imitation? Think of how the band inspired tailors, designers and artists and of course, The Beatles gave us Beatlemania - a way for millions of teenagers to scream and let go of pent up frustration, urges and to express their feelings.

What would the world have been like without these things?

The platform The Beatles had was worldwide; allowing them to discuss the music they listened to, what books they read and what films they watched.

Everyone wanted a piece of the fab four, sometimes literally as hair was snipped, suits were torn and minds were blown. And money was made! See my previous blog on Seltaeb.

The Beatles kicked down the door for the underground, in part because it was the underground that inspired them. Drugs, art, fashion, music, different sounds and ways of thinking - The Beatles were keen to explore, reflecting and amplifying underground scenes from London all the way to San Francisco and in turn inspiring more kids to think that they could do something. The Beatles even went as far as opening the crazy Apple Corps Ltd to give grants to dreamers.

The Beatles got the world singing, talking about love and peace, thinking about art and experimentation in mind, body and music.

As the 60's progressed and The Beatles developed from Love Me Do to All You Need Is Love you had Harrison endorsing Indian meditation, McCartney discussing drugs in mainstream media and living it up on the London arts scene and Lennon going from Lucy In The Sky to Cold Turkey via Give Peace A Chance, oh and he happened to mention that Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink.

The Beatles developed from wide eyed amphetamine fuelled cellars in Liverpool and Hamburg to glazed eyed psychedelic experimenters, aided by George Martin and unlimited studio time. All in the glare of the world who fell in love with them.

Indeed, without The Beatles, the world wouldn't have one of the greatest love stories of all, a story continuing to this day through McCartney and Starr and the ever lasting legacy of Lennon and Harrison. The story of friendship, adventure, luck, hard work, fame and music, not all pretty.

So many have fallen under their spell, discovering the band through parents, elder siblings or via the media's never ending love affair with them. You could start at The End and work your way back, or through Love Me Do up until The End, or somewhere in between,

My own introduction came via a cassette of my Dad's - 20 Greatest Hits. I discovered pure pop, feedback, chiming guitars, riffs, a touch of psychedelia, nursery rhymes, harmonies and rock n roll. Four guys took on the world and won. I was transfixed and bought loads of books, records and old bootleg cassettes from their time in Germany.

What would the world have been like without The Beatles? Imagine not having the thrill of stomping to their take on Twist and Shout, of singing the na, na, na, na chorus to Hey Jude, of marvelling at the production on Sgt Pepper, the flow of side 2 of Abbey Road, the mind blowing Tomorrow Never Knows, b-sides like Rain and shaking your head and singing yeah, yeah, yeah ...

The world would have been darker, less fun and in 8-years The Beatles produced a stunning catalogue of music that showed the world you could change and develop. The Fab Four did it in front of the eyes of the world

Thankfully we had The Beatles, we have them, we'll always have them.

Read on for loads of top 5 lists of my favourite Beatles songs, moments, albums, solo songs and covers ...

Five favourite Beatles songs
1. Don't Let Me Down 2. Got To Get You Into My Life 3. Tomorrow Never Knows 4. Ticket To Ride
5. I Saw Her Standing There

5 from John (in addition to any above) - I Feel Fine, Rain, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey, Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day In The Life

5 from Paul - You Never Give Me Your Money, I'll Follow The Sun, I've Just Seen A Face, I've Got A Feeling, I'm Down

5 from George - Something, Things We Said Today, It's All Too Much, Here Comes The Sun, If I Needed Someone

Five faves The Beatles covered - You Really Got A Hold On Me, Twist and Shout, Bad Boy, Money (That's What I Want), Please Mr. Postman

.... just rattle your jewellery

Five favourite Beatles albums
1. Revolver 2. Abbey Road 3. The Beatles (White Album) 4. Let It Be 5. Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Five favourite Beatles moments
1. Shea Stadium 
The Beatles on fire, laughing at the absurdity of it all. I once bought a jacket from Topman because it vaguely resembled a Shea Stadium jacket. Lennon playing keys with his elbow is super cool.

2. When John met Paul
6th July 1957. An iconic photograph of Lennon playing with his band The Quarrymen at a garden fete in Liverpool. A young Paul McCartney was there and was introduced to John via Ivan Vaughan who sometimes played tea chest bass with The Quarrymen. McCartney had the confidence to teach John how to properly tune his guitar and show off playing and singing Eddie Cochrane's Twenty Flight Rock and Gene Vincent's Be Bop A Lula.

3. JFK press conference
The Beatles land on American soil and charm the hysterical American press with their natural humour - Elvis impressions, sheer cheek, super confident, poking fun at themselves and Beatlemania. And the scenes outside are just insane. More info HERE

4. All You Need Is Love worldwide broadcast
The height of the summer of love - 25th June 1967. The Beatles perform All You Need Is Love to a worldwide television audience of 400 million. For a brief moment in time maybe 400 million people believed that was true, simpler and more hopeful times.

5. The rooftop show
On a cold 30th January 1969 The Beatles played together for the last time along with Billy Preston on keyboards. They look and sound fantastic. McCartney in black suit, as confident and as cheery as ever; Lennon in fur coat, those classic round granny glasses,  black trousers and converse; Starr looking cold in his red mac but still managing a stoned grin; Harrison rocking a black fur coat with a red shirt and green trousers. Oh to have been on that roof as they played Get Back, Don't Let Me Down, One After 909, Dig A Pony and I've Got A Feeling - various takes of each.

Five favourite Beatles solo songs
1. Watching The Wheels - John Lennon 2. What Is Life - George Harrison 3. Wah Wah - George Harrison 4. Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney 5. Instant Karma - John Lennon

Friday, 14 June 2019

Sunshine Of Your Love

Cover version of the month #46

Spanky Wilson covers Cream

Those drums, they really kick, the horns jab hard, again and again, the vocals are so clear, raw, clear and if you don't get tingles down your spine when they rise ....

I'll be with you when the stars start falling

And listen to the way the bass becomes more important through the song as it progresses. Spanky Wilson's cover of Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love is seriously soulful, funky and jazzy. She lets rip and her vocals are jaw droppingly, spine tinglingly good. She is totally 100 percent on it!

Sunshine Of Your Love was originally written and recorded by Cream in 1967, the summer of love. It's slower, heavier and although it is still extremely powerful, for me Spanky Wilson's version blows it out of the water, I could listen to her version 10 times in a row.

I was fortunate to catch her live at The Arches back in the day when she was promoting an album she had recorded with Quantic Soul Orchestra - what a voice. Spanky Wilson's song You is outrageous, I discovered it on a Living In The Streets compilation - wah wah jazz, funky soul and other dirty grooves, I would highly recommend buying a copy.

I think I first came across the song in a Jimi Hendrix documentary when it cuts to him playing Hey Joe on the BBC programme A Happening For Lulu, halfway through he announces he is going to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to the Cream, regardless of what kind of group they may be in, I dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

Hendrix and his band then lock into the groove and play an instrumental over the closing credits, with Hendrix at one stage shouting 'they're trying to throw us off the air'  or words to that effect. Try as I might, I can't locate this on YouTube. It is thrilling television, the best I can find is a mini documentary on it, unfortunately not letting the clip run from start to finish.

Again for me this version is much more thrilling than he original. Hendrix is playing for fun and lets his passion and imagination run wild.

It's not that the original is bad (see further down), it's just that, for me anyway, Wilson and Hendrix take the song to higher places. 

Read on for links to all previous cover versions of the month.

Previous covers of the month