Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Beatles In Scotland


I recently enjoyed reading Ken McNab's fascinating book - The Beatles In Scotland.

McNab digs into Lennon's childhood holidays in Durness and love of the Highlands, his Scottish relatives and his trip up north (and car crash) with Yoko and children that resulted in them spending a week in hospital. There is a chapter on the Scottish Beatle - Stuart Sutcliffe, fantastic memories from photographers like Harry Benson, fans, Scottish musicians that played and toured with them and plenty on the Mull of Kintyre and on McCartney's drug bust when he was caught growing cannabis with great quotes from his Scottish lawyers.

I would thoroughly recommend the book to fellow Scottish fans of The Beatles. For the purposes of this blog though, I'll share a few stories. A full list of dates The Beatles (and Silver Beetles) played in Scotland is listed at the end.

Tales of their little known 1960 tour when they were still The Silver Beetles supporting Johnny Gentle, a fellow Liverpudlian, are truly remarkable. Did Scotland experience the first signs of Beatlemania?

Arguably yes, although the boys didn't win the hearts of everyone. The 5 Silver Beetles in 1960 were Lennon (19), McCartney (17 and just weeks from school exams), Stuart Sutcliffe (19 and born in Edinburgh), Harrison (17) and Tommy Moore (36) the latest in a long line of ad-hoc drummers.

Their first ever Scottish set included One After 909 (later to appear on Let It Be) and covers of songs by Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Lennon reportedly got in a clinch with a local girl called Wilma and pissed off her boyfriend!

The Beatles were skint and Johnny Gentle had to phone the promoter to advance the boys more cash. It sounds like Gentle looked after them and spotted their potential and recognised their charm. The lads ended up having local girls stitching their shirts at one point. They slept in their van after their show in Nairn.

On the 1960 tour Sir Paul has said 'It was important in helping us get our relationships right with each other.'

Come January 1963 The Beatles were straight from a residency in the red light district of Hamburg to playing the delights of Elgin, Dingwall and the Bridge of Allan. It must have been a comedown! Although in Hamburg they played for up to 6-hours at a time, on this tour it was short 40-minute sets and by this point Ringo was on drums and Love Me Do had been released. Still, 200 was their biggest crowd when they played Aberdeen.

But come their June and October shows, Beatlemania was in force.

Legendary Scottish music journalist and broadcaster, the late Stewart Cruickshanks, was just 12 when he saw them at the ABC in Edinburgh in 1964. The Twist and Shout EP was the first record he ever bought.

Stewart told Ken; 'The pervading atmosphere was one of bedlam. The kids, and especially the girls, were there to let off steam. And they did. It was viscerally exciting because you knew you were part of a special moment, and you felt at the same time that you shouldn't be part of it.'

Stewart continued; 'When they came on stage, I had never heard so much noise in my life. I don't think I was too bothered, though, because it was just enough to see them. You had the records if you wanted to listen to the Beatles.'

I'll leave other stories and quotes to the book. It is a must for any fellow Scottish fans of The Beatles, a really fascinating insight into their development and what happened in Scotland; from 1960 all the way through to the Mull of Kintyre and beyond.

The Beatles, STV's Roundup interview with the Fab 4 from 1964


20/05/60 - Town Hall, Alloa
21/05/60 - Northern Meeting Ballroom, Inverness
23/05/60 - Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh
25/05/60 - St Thomas's Hall, Keith
26/05/60 - Town Hall, Forres
27/05/60 - Regal Ballroom, Nairn
28/05/60 - Rescue Hall, Peterhead

03/01/63 - Longmore Hall, Keith (cancelled)
03/01/63 - Two Red Shoes, Elgin
04/01/63 - Town Hall, Dingwall
05/01/63 - Museum Hall, Bridge of Allan
06/01/63 - Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen

07/06/63 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow w/ Roy Orbison

05/10/63 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow
06/10/63 - Calton Cinema, Kirkcaldy
07/10/63 - Caird Hall, Dundee

29/04/64 - ABC Cinema, Edinburgh
30/04/64 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow

19/10/64 - ABC Cinema, Edinburgh
20/10/64 - Caird Hall, Dundee
21/10/64 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow

03/12/65 - Odeon Cinema, Glasgow (2 shows)



Friday, 13 October 2017

A year of Spotify



Around a year ago I joined Spotify!!!!

F**K!

I always said I wouldn't......I held off for so long.......but I joined. Read on as I try to justify it to myself, try to do the sums for the company and for artists and scroll right down to the first playlist I created- almost 7 hours long and featuring 100 songs by Scottish artists!

I can actually remember the day I joined.  I spent a pleasant day off with no kids, anything on my to do list or anything really to do at all. That doesn't happen too often! I spent about 4 hours listening to loads of Scottish music. Some of my faves, songs I haven't heard in ages and bands/songs I have always wanted to check out.

And then on Saturday when the kids went to bed I checked out an album Carole King made with her short-lived band The City. I had read about it in The Times that day and then, just like that, it was at my fingertips.

Fear not artists and record shops. I will always buy records or merch. It is vitally important to support musicians by buying their work...if you enjoy it. They need money to to buy equipment, to rehearse, learn and gel, to get around and ultimately to record. And quite simply, I do love browsing in a record shop! I don't think I have ever been into Monorail without coming away with something!

Spotify - it initially felt like cheating. Even though it is legal.

A year down the line, any thoughts of cheating have long been banished. Spotify is now part of my life on a daily basis, it is the new norm. It is convenient, user friendly and it allows me to explore all kinds of stuff quickly and with ease. I don't think I have used iTunes since I joined Spotify for the pricely sum of £9.99 per month. Jeez, when I think of what I used to spend on a Monday lunchtime in HMV in the mid-90's!

I'm not alone, more and more people are joining the Spotify revolution - Forbes reported that they had hit 50 million paid subscribers back in March 2017. That was less than 6-months after reporting they had hit 40-million. Pretty strong growth!

The amount of money actually paid out to artists is negligible. Something like 0.004p per play/stream. In comparison, 1 play on Radio 1 will earn the songwriter around £50.

So for the likes of Calvin Harris whose This Is What You Came For is approaching an unbelievable 800,000,000 (yeah 800 million) plays - he should be earning around £3.2 million from Spotify just for that one song.

For another Scottish artist Duglas T Stewart has seen his seminal BMX Bandits song Serious Drugs achieve over 55,000 plays. Sounds like a lot, but it only earns the artist (the songwriter) around £220.

Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub should have earned around £8,800 for the 2.2 million plays of one of his most loved songs - Sparky's Dream.

But do the sums. Lets say they now have 60 million subscribers paying £9.99 per month. So, unless my calculator is mistaken, that is a whopping £599,400,000 per month that Spotify rakes in. I know they have a lot of songs - but how much goes out to artists on a monthly basis?!

All quite interesting. Songs (to an extent) have a shelf life on radio, unless you are talking Christmas hits. Online and on Spotify, they are timeless.

One of the reasons that I used to put off joining Spotify was the fact that I want artists to be rewarded for their efforts. So Spotify do....whether they pay enough or not is another matter entirely.

It doesn't look like Spotify is going anywhere anytime soon and artists are having to adapt to the fact that actual physical sales will never return to way they once were and why download when you can stream?

I regularly blog about my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify, but here is my first playlist. It has 100 songs and clocks in at almost 7-hours!

Named after a classic Fanclub album the 100 songs fly through Scottish musical history; from The Poets and Lulu in the 60's, early Simple Minds with the glorious Chelsea Girl, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Skids, 80's heavyweights like Deacon Blue, Wet Wet Wet and Texas, loads of indie legends like Orange Juice, Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines, The Pastels, BMX Bandits and Jesus and Mary Chain, gone but not forgotten acts like AC Acoustics (great to listen to them again), Dogs Die In Hot Cars, the likes of Churches, Catholic Action and loads of DIY bands like Stanley Odd, Colonel Mustard and the Djion 5.

Not to mention Mogwai, Remember Remember, Arab Strap, The Blue Nile.....

Too many to mention, but check the playlist here. Volume 2 might follow soon. Arguably I should have titled the playlist after the first song!





Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 15













My Never Ending Mixtape - my Spotify playlist that I add to regularly and blog about once or twice a month - has now broken 300 songs. As the number of tunes increases I actually find that I am enjoying and playing the playlist a lot more - playing it on shuffle while walking around Glasgow, or in the car or on a train.

The latest edition sees songs from 2 recently released albums by Glaswegian artists Gerry Cinnamon and Sister John sit with possibly my 2 favourite Neil Young songs, a psychedelic gem from Marmalade, a belter from Dinosaur Jr, the first (I think) songs from The Stones on the mixtape, we have a beautiful gem from The Pastels, 80's Bowie, a pop belter from Blondie, a new single from St Vincent, 2 chiming guitar pop perfection tunes from the Stone Roses, 2 of my favourite songs from James with over 20-years between them, one from the Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs opus, The Cure, The Beatles, Jenny Lewis, Ben Kweller and it finishes with a Bee Gees classic.....well check the full list of latest additions below.

You can find the full playlist by searching for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click HERE Play from the start, scroll down to the current additions or simply press shuffle.


Keysies - Gerry Cinnamon
Thinner Air - Sister John
Don't Cry, No Tears - Neil Young
Like A Hurricane - Neil Young
Going Down - Dinosaur Jr
I See The Rain - Marmalade
Rain - The Beatles
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Sympathy For The Devil - The Rolling Stones
Out Of Time - The Rolling Stones
Melancholy Man - The Wake
Boys Don't Cry - The Cure
Inbetween Days - The Cure
Mersey Paradise - Stone Roses
Sally Cinnamon - Stone Roses
Sometimes - James
When My Boy Walks Down The Street - Magnetic Fields
Getting Away With It - James
Vivid Youth - The Pastels
Hang On In There Girl (instrumental) - Jesse
Davis Band
Atomic - Blondie
You're All In Need To Get By - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Modern Love - David Bowie
Bruises - Chairlift
Just One Of The Guys - Jenny Lewis
Sundress - Ben Kweller
More Than A Woman - Bee Gees











Friday, 6 October 2017

Teenage Fanclub Peel Sessions


You may have gathered that I'm a Teenage Fanclub fan. I'm particularly proud to be a member of the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub. An online community that becomes reality when the Fanclub play live. I've met some great people from the Teenage Fanclub forum and Teenage Fanclub Fanclub Facebook page over the years and had great fun.

Jeez how many times did I mention Fanclub in that first paragraph!

Someone recently posted a link to the Fanclub Peel session, a record I own on 12-inch but I haven't dug it out in a long, long time. I stuck my headphones on and was transported back to my youth. 

John Peel was a legendary DJ who gave airtime and live sessions to many an up and coming artist over decades at Radio 1. His endorsement carried huge weight and could catapult bands to record deals or add tens of thousands to sales figures.

In a pre-internet era there was so much more excitement about the release of a record, or catching it on radio or on TV to hear what it was like.  If it wasn't on the playlist then it might only be played once on Peel. So you could blink and miss it. Sometimes you took a punt on something just because you read a good review in the NME or Melody Maker - you couldn't search on bandcamp, soundcloud, YouTube or whatever. You had to hunt and you had to build an element of trust in labels, DJ's and journalists. 

The late great John Peel

Peel could certainly play some weird shit. But he also played some good shit, some interesting shit and some great shit. Most people trusted his taste and passion - they knew he would come up with the goods.

So back to the Fanclub Peel session. It was recorded on 28/08/90 and aired on 30/09/90, later released on a 12-inch by the marvellous Strange Fruit Records, a label formed by Peel and his friend Clive Selwood to release the incredible catalogue of sessions in the BBC archives.

TFC circa 1990

The warm guitars that usher in God Knows It's True are like a cuddle from your best friend and the  rhythms are spliced and spiced with delicious fuzzy riffs throughout. Much of the joy that this song offers comes from the fact that it sounds like the band are really into it, really feeling it. The Peel Session version is superior (in my opinion) to the original version - just listen to Brendan's ferocious drumming after the second chorus - is it a guitar solo or a drum solo? Its both combined and the Fannies make a gorgeous racket.

The Fanclub were prolific back in 1990; releasing several singles (including debut Everything Flows), debut LP A Catholic Education and they also released the God Knows It's True EP - essentially (for me) a double-a-side with So Far Gone for the 7-inch, padded out with a couple of crazier tunes more suited to The King LP.

So Far Gone is classic Gerry Love, the song bursts into life with Brendan O'Hare's drumming as furious as the duelling guitars.

Could you be the one, the one to turn me into something new?

And the chorus

So far gone, so far gone
I'd love to turn you on

It's a little over 3-minutes of flowing punky guitar pop brilliance. The energy on the Peel session is captured perfectly on vinyl for prosperity. Oh how I would have loved to have seen TFC back in August 1990. This is what they sounded like live - fun, ferocious and brilliant.

One of the beautiful things about the Peel Sessions EP is that it catches the band at an incredible moment - when they have just released their debut album and are brimming with confidence and songs - all written for Bandwagonesque, or for b-sides and EP's.

Alcoholiday is one of my all-time favourite Fanclub songs. The Peel session version again captures the glorious noise Blake, McGinley, Love and O'Hare could create. Driving guitars, furious drumming and innocent lyrics.

There are things I want to do
But I don't know if they will be with you

The Peel session version ends with the closing mantra fading out. I wonder how long they actually went on for in the session. Does an extended version exist anywhere?

All I know, is all I know
What I've done I'll leave behind me
I don't want my soul to find me

The EP closes with Long Hair, another of my all-time favourite Fanclub songs, tucked away on the b-side of The Concept. I just love the whole feel and flow to this Gerry Love number. The band fly through it, sounding super tight; rhythm, lead, bass and drums. It is a joy to listen to this EP again - I hope you enjoy it too.

I believe in everything I see
Why believe in everything you hear?




Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 14

 My Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify is now approaching 300 songs. I add to the playlist every month and then round up the latest additions in a blog.

As someone who vowed never to use Spotify or a streaming service, I have to admit I'm a convert! I still love and buy vinyl, but the ease of access that Spotify offers is unarguably incredible.

So after reading Johnny Marr's autobiography and wanting to dig into The The, all I had to do was search on Spotify and I discovered 2 absolutely sublime 12-inch remixes of Uncertain Smile and Perfect. They are sensational.

Elsewhere on the latest additions to the Never Ending Mixtape we have some real heavyweights like T-Rex, Bowie and Lou Reed, cult heroes Big Star and Gram Parson's Flying Burrito Brothers and this must be the only mixtape to have 2 Groove Armada tunes sandwiched between one by Todd Rundgren and an R.E.M demo!

You can search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify and play from the start, delve in anywhere, play on Shuffle or scroll to the end for the latest addition. Or simply CLICK HERE


Association - Teenage Fanclub
Uncertain Smile (12-inch remix) - The The
Perfect (12-inch remix) - The The
Our Lips Are Sealed - Fun Boy Three
Together In Electric Dreams - The Human League
Cosmic Dancer - T-Rex
Life's A Gas - T-Rex
Sound and Vision - David Bowie
Queen Bitch - David Bowie
Space Oddity - David Bowie
I'm So Free - Lou Reed
I Love You - Lou Reed
In The Street - Big Star
Thirteen - Big Star
September Gurls - Big Star
Hot Burrito #2 - The Flying Burrito Brothers
My Back Pages - The Byrds
Chestnut Mare - The Byrds
I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better - The Byrds
Another Girl, Another Planet - The Only Ones
Couldn't I Just Tell You - Todd Rundgren
At The River - Groove Armada
If Everybody Looked The Same - Groove Armada
Mike's Pop Song (demo) - R.E.M
Nightswimming - R.E.M





Saturday, 30 September 2017

Erratic Cinematic by Gerry Cinnamon


One of the most exciting things to happen in the DIY Scottish music scene - in fact the Scottish music scene as a whole - over the last few years has been the development of Glasgow's Gerry Cinnamon.

Gerry is someone I have known of for a while through his previous band The Cinnamons. He always had a little bit of something about him - a twinkle in his eye, charisma, a presence and the ability to make things happen.

I've largely followed Gerry's remarkable journey online; homemade acoustic protest songs that went viral, open mic nights, Cinnamon-mania at venues from Kilmarnock to Dunfermline and everywhere in between and north and south and epic shows at T in the Park and the new TRNSMT festival. His TRNSMT show was so captivating that I watched it online 3-nights running.

Gerry Cinnamon mania at TRNSMT in summer 2017

Gerry writes and sings from the heart, he found his voice years ago and now tens of thousands of others have discovered and fallen for it.

Cinnamon tells stories, he speaks the truth, he talks of dreams, regrets, childhood memories, he questions the path his friends have taken and the world at large. And he does this in a warm, engaging, melodic and soulful manner.

It is safe to say that his album has been eagerly awaited. That its only 9-songs long was a slight surprise, but after only a couple of listens you realise that this is part of its strength. Singles Kampfire Vampire and Fickle McSelfish (both with well over 100,000 plays on Spotify) are available to whoever wants them - was there a need to put them on the album?


Sometimes sees Gerry looping guitar riffs over a drum machine beat and singing his heart out about his life and feelings.

Sometime, just sometimes
Well maybe more than some of the time
I'm on a false ego trip

Insecurity is rife, I'm not the ideal person to be lecturing on life
But if you wanna know, some things I've learned about myself

And then he goes on to tell you about the way the story goes and the way the water flows; from drinking in the park, to the cocaine scene, to popping pills.... the lyrics mentions about the water flowing, well the song flows - superbly.


Lullaby starts with some commentary recorded off the TV/radio about everyone being out of work and the state of the world. Gerry then riffs and loops his trusted acoustic over another drum machine beat. It's a beauty with Cinnamon singing for someone to sing him to sleep, sing him a love song and a lullaby of days gone by.

Cinnamon's sense of self awareness is evident throughout the album, as is his sense of (self depreciating) humour.

What Have You Done is brilliantly written with a touch of harmonica giving it extra feeling as Cinnamon asks questions and demands answers. Belter is introduced with a touch of Cinnamon-mania in the background. It's heartfelt, moving and funny all at the same time.

I think I love he, she gets underneath my skin
But I've stung a few times so i don't let no-one in
No' even belter
She is a belter

Sirens usher in Fortune Favours The Bold before a beautiful guitar riff kicks in and Cinnamon is in fine voice and the song is rich in melody.



The title track has a nod to Scarface from the off and adds on to the Wizard of Oz later on. There is another nice picked guitar riff and Gerry singing his heart out, seemingly lost in the music.

Keysies is my favourite song on the album, its a stunner. Only 90 seconds long it is pure Gerry Cinnamon at his very best. His vocal is rich and soulful as he reminisces about childhood memories running with the wind, the rain, what he was wearing, late home from school, playing soldiers in the park until dark.... It's just Gerry and his acoustic, no loops or extra tracks...and it is beautiful.

Diamonds in the Mud is another autobiographical story with confessions, observations (very funny at times) and philosophical gems. It is Cinnamons love letter to his home town, his favourite places and the Glaswegian people and banter.

The album closes with War TV and its like a modern day Scottish folk song, a Dylan-esque protest song - telling it like it is.

They're all quick to make war
But they won't send their sons
Shout the odds like a gangster
But they won't hold a gun

I'm no' that religious
But if God's got a plan
Then I don't think it's bombing in a far away land

Erratic Cinematic captures a moment for Cinnamon. The question what next? is already on many peoples lips. Gerry's Barrowland Ballroom in December sold out in a few hours, he certainly has more songs up his sleeves and the album highlights just what a talent he is with a pen and his voice.

With no radio play, no booking agent, no record label.....there is no problem for Gerry Cinnamon who is doing his thing in his way and people are loving it. It is a match made in heaven.

The album is available on Spotify, iTunes and on CD via Love Music next to Queen Street. Vinyl should be available in the near future.



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Chemical Brothers collaborations


I was driving around the other day with my Never Ending Mixtape on shuffle and all of a sudden Wide Open by The Chemical Brothers with Beck came blasting out of my car speakers.

I marvelled at the song and, not for the first time in relation to a Chemical Brothers collaboration, questioned 'what if?'

What if Beck and The Chemical Brothers had got together for an album?

It is something I have thought about many times in relation to Chemical collaborations, particularly in relation to the mesmerising, pulsating, modern psychedelic masterpiece The Golden Path, their work with The Flaming Lips from their Singles 93-03 compilation in 2003.

What if some bright spark had suggested - that really is incredible, lets get together for a week or so and see what we can come up with? I suppose at that time that both the Chems and the Lips were riding high and touring constantly on the back of their success, so that option never materialised. What if?

A full list of Chemical Brothers collaborations is listed below. Here are my own top 5;

1. The Golden Path
Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips takes on lead vocals with bandmate Steve Drozd on backing vocals. The song flows superbly and takes the listener on a trip, much like the dreary office worker living in a grey world and dreaming in technicolour glory. Coyne and Drozd apparently sent the Chems a demo thinking they would get another chance to improve on it, but the Chems called them back ecstatic - and that was that.

2. Life Is Sweet
Tim Burgess was into the Chemical Brothers from the off, partying at the Heavenly Social and getting them to remix and produce some Charlatans tunes; PatrolNine Acre Court and the Time For Livin' cover being those I remember off the top of my head.

Life Is Sweet is a match made in heaven. The beats and groove suit Burgess, his vocals, melody and style are perfect for The Chemicals. The beats, synths and bass combine in a funky flowing way

I'm driving in the sun
It's a hell of a way down south
Bring me back my love


3. Out Of Control
Bernard Sumner is someone who responds very well to opportunities to work with others. He is a bit of a studio boffin and I love his work with Electronic and more recently a collaboration with Hot Chip on the brilliant Didn't Know What Love Was - check the video to that HERE.

As for Out Of Control, it surges, soars, floats - the guitar break is pure New Order with fizzing laser synth sounds - and then it surges some more. Sumner is in great form and he's joined by Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie on backing vocals.

Maybe I'm just scared of losin' you
Or maybe it's the things you make me do


4. Where Do I Begin?
Beth Orton was crowned the 'comedown Queen' back in the day. She collaborated with the Chems on a number of occasions and I was torn between this and the glorious The State We're In, but this just wins for me.

It really is a comedown tune. A lovely riff is picked out with all kinds of psychedelic effects in the background. Orion's voice is whispery and gorgeous.

Sunday morning I'm waking up
Can't even focus on a coffee cup
Don't even know whose bed I'm in
Where do I stop, where do I begin

And then the beats come in and it all kicks off in a typically frantic and glorious Chemical Brothers fashion. The video below is an edited version. You can check the full 7-minute album version HERE.




5. Wide Open
The song that prompted this blog. It's sublime, it really is outstanding. The beat that comes in with the synth bass is instantly cool, Beck's vocal is one of his best.

I'm wide open
But don't I please you anymore?
You're slipping away from me
You're drifting away from me

If you haven't heard it then stick your headphones on and drift away in a song that flows superbly. There are little twists and turns along the way; the one day just gonna see me section is stunning, the bass really kick in at one point and the song just keeps flowing and building.


Chemical collaborations

Life Is Sweet - Tim Burgess (Charlatans)
Alive Alone - Beth Orton
Setting Sun - Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
Where Do I Begin? - Beth Orton
Out Of Control - Bernard Sumner (New Order)
Let Forever Be - Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
Asleep from Day - Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star)
Dream On - Jonathan Donahue (Mercury Rev)
The State We're In - Beth Orton
The Test - Richard Ashcroft (The Verve)
Galvanize - Q-Tip
The Boxer - Tim Burgess (Charlatans)
Believe - Kele Okereke (Bloc Party)
Hold Tight London - Anna-Lynne Williams
Left Right - Anwar Superstar
Close Your Eyes - The Magic Numbers
No Path to Follow - Willy Mason
All Rights Reversed - Klaxons and Lightspeed Champion
Do It Again - Ali Love
The Salmon Dance - Fatlip
Battle Scars - Willy Mason
The Pills Won't Help You - Tim Smith (Midlake)
Wide Open - Beck
Born in the Echoes - Cate Le Bon
Neon Lights - Annie Clark
EML Ritual - Ali Love
Go - Q-Tip
The Golden Path - The Flaming Lips

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sleepless by Spinning Coin


I've mentioned Spinning Coin in a number of blogs over the last couple of years..Their short (most are under 3-minutes) melodic and heartfelt guitar tunes with fragile and soulful harmonies have won my heart.

Permo, their debut album, is set for release on 10th November on The Pastels Geographic label and I am really looking forward to it. The band recorded at Edwyn Collins Helmsdale studio in the far North of Scotland and closer to home at Green Door Studio in Glasgow. You can pre-order the rather gorgeous looking vinyl HERE
To keep the momentum going Spinning Coin have released a video for the song Sleepless, with footage taken on their European tour in June.

Chiming guitars and soulful harmonies flow and combine effortlessly. The five-piece; Cal Donnelly, Chrish White, Jack Melin, Sean Armstrong and Rachel Taylor, just gel. Like all good bands do. They make it sound fun and easy. Enjoy the video below and check the string of live dates planned - dates with Girl Ray, The Pastels and Dinosaur Jr and their album launch at Mono on 17th November.





Friday, 22 September 2017

Olive Grove Records catch up


There are many great things about being a music lover. Discovering great music is one thing, sharing is another, meeting inspiring people through a shared love, one more.

Lloyd Meredith of Olive Grove Records is someone who discovers, shares and inspires. His enthusiasm is infectious, his energy is enviable.

I met Lloyd when I started blogging and his Peenko blog was one I always read and enjoyed. We met through gigs, blogs and a shared love of music and I'll back up what most people will say - Lloyd is hands down one of the most lovely, loyal and hard working people you will ever meet.

We have both blogged, put on shows and ultimately co-founded DIY record labels. We each also have 2 kids each - so our paths are quite similar in many ways!

Ahead of Olive Grove's Daylight Sessions (FREE ENTRY) at the lovely St Luke's in Glasgow, (FREE ENTRY and CHILD FRIENDLY!) I thought I'd ping Lloyd an email for a little catch up.



1. How long has Olive Grove Records been going for now (I've lost track)?

The label is now in its seventh year, but to be honest it feels like I've been doing this a lot longer - in a good way I should add.


2. Tough question - where do you find the time and energy?

I'm not going to lie, it can be pretty exhausting running the label these days. When the label first started my daughter had just been born a couple of months prior, so initially it was pretty tough. Now I have two kids, it's utterly knackering, so most of the time I'm running on empty, but then I can't imagine not having the label so I guess that's what keeps me going. That and a very understanding wife.




3. What have been the biggest lessons you have learned?

Not to take things personally, although that's easier said than done. If one of my bands gets a poor review or their album doesn't get featured by a site or magazine that you'd expected, it can be pretty hard to take. I am very protective of my artists, if I work with them then it's because I think the world of them, so when someone else doesn't share that enthusiasm it can be hard to take. Learning to realise that not everyone will love everything I release was a pretty tough lesson in life, but nowadays I tried to be more thick skinned and not take things personally.

The other lesson would probably be around not getting too hung up on other label envy. I often find myself seeding other labels getting features or radio plays that I'd love to get, but rather than being bitter I have come to recognise that the Scottish music scene has some of the most supportive folk I know. We are all working to support the bands we love, so it's better to look at these things in a positive manner. Plus I can also help motivate you more to do more to support your own artists.


State Broadcasters - Break My Fall

4. Not wanting to encourage favouritism - but what have been your top 5 Olive Grove moments from through the years?

Top 5?! Jeezo, this almost feels like you're asking who my favourite child is...
Top of the list has to be the Olive Grove showcase that we did at Oran More as part of Celtic Connections. Having all of my artists on the one bill at a sold out show really can't be beaten. Finishing the night drunkenly dancing on stage with Woodenbox will live with me until my dying day.

I'm not sure if this counts as a moment, but I'm going to shoe horn it in here anyway. I love the fact that I've brought so many different musicians together. Be it Pete from the State Broadcasters recording Randolph's Leap, then eventually joining the band, or Alex and Cat from Skinny Dipper playing on the last Woodenbox album, Foreign Organ. I'd always wanted the label to feel like a musical family, which I guess it kind of does now.

Third on the list, meeting Jon from Smallfish Recordings. He's been a total god send and massively helped with the label. He does a lot of my mixing and mastering, I genuinely don't know what I'd do without him. He's done stuff for Randolph's Leap, Woodenbox, Jo Mango, Call To Mind, the State Broadcasters, The Son(s), the Royal Male and he's just been working on Jared Celosse's stuff too. If you're ever looking for someone to help mix or master your tracks, then I would thoroughly recommend you drop him a line. Not only is he great at what he does, but he's an awesome human being to boot.


Fourth, again it's not a moment, but it's something which is massively important to me, which is artwork. I've always wanted by artwork to reflect the beauty of the music that I release, which I think I've done. Kris Ferguson who has done stuff for me, including Randolph's Leap, Woodenbox and Jo Mango, feels like Olive Grove's answer to Vaughan Oliver. 

Lastly, I guess it would be just meeting so many amazing people, who were brave/crazy enough to trust me with their music. I've made a lot of great people who are now some of my greatest friends.

5. And you're planning for the future - tell us about your new signings.

I am indeed, it's been a while since I added anyone new to the Olive Grove family, but in the next few months I'll be releasing music with two relatively unknown acts, Jared Celosse and Pocket Knife.

Both artists are only just starting to find their own feet, Jared is a 21 year old singer songwriter, who has been aptly described as a modern day Nick Drake. Pocket Knife are a Scottish and French duo, who write incredibly catchy lo-fi pop songs. 

Both Jared and Pocket Knife are playing at the Olive Grove showcase gig at St Luke's on Sunday 1st October, alongside Grover veterans Randolph's Leap and the State Broadcasters. So if you fancy coming down and checking them out for free, then that's your best bet.


Jared Celosse

6. How do you think the Scottish music scene, I guess with particular reference to the DIY scene, has changed during your time with Olive Grove? Is it meeting modern day challenges?

Man that's a tough question, so much has changed since the since the label started. I think the most noticeable thing for me is the reduction in the number of Scottish music blogs. Plus there doesn't seem to be as many DIY labels kicking about. Then again I don't really have my finger on the pulse anymore, so there's probably loads going on that I just don't know about.

I think the best challenge these days is actually selling CDs and records, folk just don't seem as interested in buying CDs anymore. Plus records are so damn expensive to manufacture, that it can be really tough to break even, nevermind making a profit.

Without blowing too much smoke up your backside, I'm a massive fan of what's going on with Last Night From Glasgow, it's such a simple, yet utterly brilliant business model for running a record label. The passion that they have for what they do is really infectious!

7. And lastly, what can we expect from your show at St Lukes?


Four great acts and a big hug from a sweaty bearded man.


Free show and free hugs

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Twist and Shout

Cover version of the month #29
The Beatles cover The Isley Brothers


The Beatles version of Twist and Shout closes their debut album Please Please Me in an absolutely show stopping way. Nothing could follow it.

Any fellow fans of The Beatles (that haven't already) should track down a copy of Ian MacDonald's epic Revolution In The Head that digs into the recording of each Beatles song in chronological order.

MacDonald's research and findings are staggering - to read through The Beatles catalogue and learn about their experimentation, mistakes and learnings is absolutely fascinating. And I particularly enjoyed reading about the recording of The Beatles debut Please Please Me that was recorded from start to finish on 11th February 1963.

By the time they reached Twist and Shout, Lennon knew he only had one shot at producing the raw, rasping, soulful vocal that he had brought to the song through his time playing in clubs from Liverpool to Hamburg.

The energy The Beatles pour into the song is outrageous. Lennon pushes his voice to the limits from the off, listen to him going for it and stretching it to breaking point.

Come on, come on, come on, come on baby now
Come on and work it all out
Well work it all oooouuuuttt

The Beatles push it even further, the song breaks down at 1 minute 9 seconds and then the band egg each other on to scream, the beat rises with their voices and they go back into the song.

By the time they get to 2 minutes and 7 seconds they are pushing themselves to the brink, foot stomping their way through 3 repeated lines that must have sounded like the most exciting and sexy music ever back in 1963 - it still stands up today.

Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)
Well shake it, shake it, shake it baby now (shake it up baby)

The band then scream to conclusion - song done, album done, all in one day - exhausted, elated.

The band attempted a second take but Lennon's voice was shot, he had nothing left to give and it was abandoned. Take 1 is the version on Please Please Me, the only version.

I love the version from The Royal Variety Performance in November 1963 where Lennon introduces the song by asking will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands and the rest of you if you just rattle your jewellery. Rumours are that he wanted to say rattle your f**king jewellery.


Check this outrageous version from Melbourne in 1964, no-one was telling singers to look after their voices in those days!


Yet again when it comes to cover version of the month I learn that what I deemed to be the original is not in fact the original. I thought the original version was by The Isley Brothers, it was certainly the version The Beatles covered - injecting pace and rock n roll into The Isley Brothers song through years of playing in clubs.

The song was written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns (later credited as Bert Russell) and recorded by a band called The Top Notes with a certain young Phil Spector (pre Wall of Sound) producing. It flopped and it does sound pretty lame and terrible if you take the time to check it out HERE.

The Isley Brothers took it and made it into a hit. And what a hit - it really is a brilliant rock n roll/soul song to dance and shout to. Aptly named! Check it HERE.

And I couldn't write a blog without including the 'version' that introduced me to the song. Matthew Broderick miming to The Beatles on a carnival float in the 80's classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off.


Previous covers of the month





Friday, 15 September 2017

Returned From Sea



Amanda, Heather, Sophie and Jonathan

At the age of 41 I still have dreams about being in a band. This band tends to be a 4-piece - 2 guitars, bass and drums and be a kind of indie guitar pop band like The Lemonheads or Teenage Fanclub, with the odd 11-minute psychedelic wig out or detour into electronica.

But last night I watched Sister John play the first of 2 sold out shows at The Hug and Pint to celebrate the release of their stunning debut album Returned From Sea and wished I could be in a band like theirs.

A band that can play slow, with tender care, pull off 4 part harmonies with ease; a band that can jam, choose super cool covers by having super cool taste, swap instruments, sound like angels and write truly beautiful songs.

So yeah, I'm a fan and The Hug and Pint show was superb.


Returned From Sea 
Stunning artwork by Brian Sweeney

Returned From Sea is warm, lush, sublime, beautiful and wonderful. As I type I'm listening to Rider On The Hill when the band just play on with gorgeous oooh oooh oooh oooh's sounding heavenly.

Opener Thinner Air will pull you in in a heartbeat, you're immediately in Sister John's world. It feels kind of familiar but new, you'll definitely like it. Single Sweetest Moment flows sweetly and freely, sounding impossibly easy and pure.

Singer and songwriter Amanda McKeown has an incredible voice that she uses wisely - whispering, soaring, using all her power at times, taking it right back at others.

How good are they? The first time I heard Backstreet Swimmers I wondered who they were covering. I felt the same with Try To Be Good. Was it an old Neil Young or Gram Parson song?

No, both were written by Amanda and with help from her exceptionally talented band - Jonathan Lilley on guitars, keys, bass, harmonica, percussion and backing vocals; Heather Phillips on violin and backing vocals and Sophie Pragnell on viola, drums, percussion and backing vocals - they are both gems.

I see you everyday and I think of the sun
If there's a simple thing I can do it now
And when I write it down
I can try to be good

Returned From Sea is an album with real depth. Dive in, stay in, the water is warm and soothing.

The inside gatefold sleeve

See You Again is almost like a lullaby, so tender, so beautiful, so simple - but yet so clever. The slide guitar is spine tinglingly slow and beautiful.

One of my live favourites from The Hug and Pint was Sister John's Dream, it was quite Velvets-y. Swallowed The Moon was also a live highlight with Amanda introducing the song by asking everyone to think of someone that has pulled them through at some point. Amanda pours her heart and soul on to vinyl; you can hear it and feel it.

This is such a strong album; 12-songs that are all really beautiful. Amanda McKeown is a special talent - as are her band.

Listen to the violin and viola sound like they are weeping on Friends and then listen to Amanda's heartbreaking fragile voice and then feel a tingle down your spine - wow! Very special.

We're the same
We chose the sun
But saw the rain

Gone is another stunner. He Came Down is just beautiful. It's hard to capture just how special this album is. So listen yourself.

Search on Spotify to stream immediately but do yourself a favour and order the gatefold vinyl from the Last Night From Glasgow website.

Sister John will be playing more shows; those announced are; 04/11 Braemar Gallery, Braemar and 19/11 Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh








Wednesday, 13 September 2017

There Are No Saints


I first listened to Siobhan Wilson's There Are No Saints the week after its July release. It was a gorgeous sunny day, I was out at my Mum's in Carluke and I downloaded the album so I could listen to it on the drive home.

The windows were down and the sun was beaming down, shades were on. In truth, I'd normally choose something far more upbeat than this beauty of an album to drive to. But the music captivated me. It stayed on and I even took a detour home so I could listen to it all.

A month or two on and I am listening to the album on headphones, marvelling at Siobhan Wilson's voice, the arrangements and most of all the feel of the album. It is gorgeous.

Wilson is classically trained and on songs like Disaster and Grace when she plays piano, backed by strings, she sounds like a dream - really beautiful, what a voice.

The production, by Chris McCrory of Catholic Action, is just perfect. Wilson and McCrory allow the songs space to breath. Whether backed by fuzzy electric guitar, piano or strings, Siobhan Wilson sounds heavenly. Just listen to Whatever Helps.

You're stuck in the break of a wave
You're haunted by a line from a song



Siobhan divides her time between Scotland and Paris and if anything her voice sounds even more sexy and dreamy when she sings in French. J'attendrai is exquisite, sounding like it could be from a French Disney film - gorgeous melodies. Paris Est Blanche is just magical.


Make You Mine is jaw dropping, heart stopping, spine tingling gorgeousness. Wow! Even managing an AC/DC reference!

Closer It Must Have Been The Moon is another stunner. This has an Eva Cassidy kind of feel to it. Just gorgeous.

Check this brilliant feature on Drowned In Sound where Siobhan gives a track by track guide to the album. They describe There Are No Saints perfectly as elegant and beautiful, dark and stormy.

I really hope to catch Siobhan playing live in the near future. Check her website for live dates. Scottish dates confirmed at present are 24/09 Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh and 28/09 Tolbooth, Stirling. You can stream, download or buy a CD or vinyl by visiting Song By Toad Records.

Siobhan covering Aztec Camera for The Quay Sessions












Monday, 11 September 2017

Never Ending Mixtape 13


Lou Barlow

Welcome to a second edition of the Never Ending Mixtape for September. I've been travelling by train quite a bit lately and this allows quality time to listen to music. So through August and the start of September I added more songs than normal to the Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify.

There is a real indie-guitar vibe to a lot of the songs listed below. Lou Barlow is represented by Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, The White Stripes have 2 songs - the beautiful We're Going To Be Friends and the raw soulful and brilliantly titled Forever For Her (Is Over For Me), Yo La Tengo have 2, there is a cult fave by Camper Van Beethoven, Creation Records are represented, we have 3 from The Lemonheads, a beauty by The Go-Betweens, a rush of guitar pop brilliance by Sugar, some electro by Miaoux Miaoux and Happy Meals and some great new tunes I discovered by Girl Ray and The Courtneys (video at the end of the blog). Oh and Edwyn Collins is in there and Gerry Love's side project Lightships - and much, much more!

I hope you enjoy these songs. Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click on the link HERE. Scroll down to discover these songs, or dive in anywhere.


Skull  - Sebadoh
Insinuation - Folk Implosion
We're Going To Be Friends - The White Stripes
Forever For Her (Is Over For Me) - The White Stripes
I Heard You Looking - Yo La Tengo
Autumn Sweater - Yo La Tengo
Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
Low - Cracker
Take The Skinheads Bowling - Camper Van Beethoven
Almost Prayed - The Weather Prophets
Cut Me Deep - The Jasmine Minks
Stove - The Lemonheads
Into Your Arms - The Lemonheads
Mallo Cup - The Lemonheads
Crazy Town - Velocity Girl
Spring Rain - The Go-Betweens
If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar
Cannonball - The Breeders
Pacer - The Amps
Don't Shilly Shally - Edwyn Collins
Stop The Clocks - Miaoux Miaoux
Altered Images - Happy Meals
Trouble - Girl Ray
Somebody - Dream Wife
Silver and Gold - Lightships
90210 - The Courtneys