Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Funky Nation - The Detroit Instrumentals


Recorded during the summer of 1971, Funky Nation: The Detroit Instrumentals is the result of some downtime that Marvin Gaye had after refusing to tour in support of his classic What's Going On album.

Released to coincide with the 50th version of What's Going On, it would appear that these studio jams, led by Gaye, were largely forgotten about. A few have cropped up on expanded editions through the years, but this is the first time they have been released as one.

Gaye is joined by Hamiton Bohannon on drums, the trio of Ray Parker Jr. (only 17 at the time), Wah Wah Watson and Leroy Emmanuel on Guitars, as well as Michael Henderson on bass. Gaye played keyboards and percussion.

There isn't a great deal of information other than that the sessions were led by Gaye. You barely hear him, other than the first track Checking Out (Double Clutch) when he introduces the band and then on the beautifully loose Struttin' The Blues where Gaye is just grooving along making sounds with the jam.

Was he just enjoying cutting loose and hanging with musicians?

At times things are pretty rocking, Daybreak starts with a riff that wouldn't be out of place on a 1966 Kinks single. At other times, there is some funky soul instrumentals like Help The People, while the title track is stoned soul that appears to be going nowhere until 1 minute 15 when everything just comes together with ease. Chained is an instant favourite, listen to the bass groove, the drums and that little guitar riff.

This is an album well worth checking out, it's just super loose and cool, the band are, well they are just as  Marvin says these cats sure are funky.

If you're a fan of Gaye's then it is worth checking through his online catalogue as there is an incredible amount of bonus material backing up his albums. 

A couple to highlight from the 50th anniversary of What's Going On are the demo of Symphony with Gaye repeatedly singing what's going on and the stunning instrumental I Love The Ground You Walk On.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

My Little Red Book

Cover version of the month #66

Love cover Manfred Mann

The genius partnership of composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David combined to write My Little Red Book for Manfred Mann and the song featured in the 1965 film What's New Pussycat?  

Los Angeles psychedelic pop group Love then covered the song in 1966 for their eponymous debut album (it was also their debut single) and it was through Love that I was introduced to the song many years later.

Love's 3rd album, 1967's Forever Changes was an album that I felt I had to own after reading so many of my favourite groups mention it during interviews. So, from memory, I bought that first and then worked back through their catalogue, helped by the fact that FOPP were selling Love albums on CD for a fiver!

A lot of bands I fell for talked of the way Love looked as well as the way they sounded

Then, somewhat remarkably, Arthur Lee and a modern day incarnation of Love (the band Baby Lemonade) were announced as playing King Tuts Wah Wah Hut! Arthur was fresh out of prison and thanks to having an incredibly loyal fanbase in the UK (Liverpool and Glasgow in particular) he was on tour. Would he show up? How would he sound after years/decades of substance abuse?

It's safe to say that there was a buzz in King Tuts that night. It wasn't sold out, I recall people sitting on the floor before the band came on stage. Arthur looked strong and tall, he sounded magnificent, within seconds everyone knew they were witnessing something special. You could have heard a pin drop during You Set The Scene, my favourite Love song, I still think of Arthur singing as the band dropped down to a low groove I see your picture, it's in the same old frame ... his voice was wonderful.

Arthur announced that customs had lost their equipment so they were playing with instruments borrowed from Belle and Sebastian. I was transfixed and caught them a number of times over the years at the Liquid Room, Usher Hall, Academy and I'm sure I saw them 3 times at Tuts. Certainly twice.

Arthur Lee and Love at King Tuts
This is from a 'secret' Forever Changes show they played

Watching Arthur and his band live made me appreciate his catalogue of songs all the more. I always find that when I see a band in person. One song that stood out was My Little Red Book. A shake of Arthur's tambourine set off a throbbing bass, drums and guitar and then the voice!

The energy that leaps out of the song is spine tingling. The way Arthur adds in an extra talk in all I did was talk, talk about you gets me every time. The band are locked in a groove, the relentless guitar and bass riffs and beats behind Arthur's strong voice creates an urgency that still captivates 55-years after release. 

Arthur tell the tale of getting out his little red book the minute he is ditched by his girlfriend, determined not to sit crying and nursing a broken heart, he goes out dancing with as many girls as he can, but he just can't get over his loss.

I went from A to Z
I took out every pretty girl in town
They danced with me and when I held them

All I did was talk about you
Hear your name and I'd start to cry
There's just no getting over you 

Love's My Little Red Book is two-and-a-half minutes of garage pop perfection. I love when Arthur hums in the short instrumental. You believe him every time he sings there's just no getting over you, oh no. The whole song aches with passion, regret and soul.

Manfred Mann's version is tame in comparison. It's the same song, but the urgency isn't there, it's more theatrical. It's just not quite right. Bacharach himself has been quoted as saying "It's just a very nervous sounding record. They were uncomfortable with that song." (Record Collector)

I count myself extremely fortunate that I got to see the maestro Burt Bacharach at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in the summer of 2019. He was grateful that Love recorded the song and breathed new life into it and he was impressed by the cheer of the crowd when he mentioned Love.

So although Love's version is a cover, in this case, they most definitely make My Little Red Book their own. 

You can check Bacharach's own version along with that of Love's and Manfred Mann's below. They have also been added to my Spotify playlist.

Burt Bacharach plays his hits

Love - stereo version from their eponymous debut album

Love - TV American Bandstand version

Manfred Mann version

Click (or search for) Everything Flows cool cover versions on Spotify for a playlist of the covers I have blogged about and read on for a full list and links to previous cover of the month blogs. 

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

I Ran Away by Dinosaur Jr

Pic by Cara Totman

Later this month Dinosaur Jr will release Sweep Into Space, their 12th studio album, on 30th April. Co-produced by J Mascis and Kurt Vile, my appetite for the LP has been hugely enhanced by I Ran Away which is the sound of vintage Dinosaur Jr.

J Mascis' voice is beautifully strained and soulful, his guitar playing still makes me want to pick up an electric guitar, his rhyming style is at peak flowing levels. 

All in all, I Ran Away is everything I could possibly hope to hear from Dinosaur Jr in 2021 and more. Are they still this good, this fresh, this exciting - YES!

Sweep Into Space will be the bands 5th album since Mascis, Barlow and Murph re-united back in 2005, playing shows that then led to 2007's Beyond LP.

Mascis and Barlow continue to release solo/Sebadoh albums, but there is no denying that they create something special when they come together with Murph on drums.

The meet me where I know 3rd verse is written in exactly the same style and structure as the first two verses, but it's delivered differently, like a middle eight, it's so clever, so brilliant. And J's fills after each line in the chorus are sublime, the rhythm section is just constant, allowing the magic to happen. J's guitar solo is 25-seconds of escapism and pure joy.

35-years since their debut album, Dinosaur Jr continue to amaze and excite. Roll on the album and I hope we see the band return to Glasgow next year.

You can order Sweep Into Space from the good people at Monorail by CLICKING HERE

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Belfast by Orbital

Trust Me # 23

After 3-months of featuring Teenage Fanclub songs by Norman Blake, Gerry Love and Raymond McGinley, the monthly Trust Me feature in my blog veers off into wildly different territory courtesy of Orbital and their song Belfast, one of the most sublime, blissful, dreamy and euphoric tunes I have had the pleasure of hearing and experiencing. 

I say experience, as watching Orbital perform Belfast in the Barrowland to a sea of saucer eyed fans with hands in the air, or in a sweaty tent at T in the Park, or listening to it in a pub/club or post club party was always an experience. 

Belfast is a song that cuts through the air like a knife, it makes you stop in your tracks. If you've heard it before then a broad smile will begin to plaster itself across your face. If you're hearing it for the first time then you may well ask 'what the f**k is that?'

I think the first time I heard it was in O'Henry's Bar (now the Yes Bar) in Drury Street in Glasgow, across from the famous Horseshoe Bar. Some friends and I used to book the downstairs basement, set up decks and play an eclectic mix of music. It was usually me, my friend's Reddy, Phil and Chris. 

Chris played a great mix which took in everything from Candy Flip covering Strawberry Fields Forever to crazy techno. But the end of his set was one he stuck with for at least a couple of years - Orbital and Underworld. Chris ended the night by playing Orbital's Chime into Rez by Underworld, into Belfast - heaven on earth! 

Orbital's III EP, released in January 1991
Tracklisting - Satan, LC1, Belfast

Still sounding fresh, vital and futuristic 30-years since it was released, Belfast begins like a cinema soundtrack, as if you know something important is going to happen ... something is!

Synths begin to bubble, the chords become warmer, then we are introduced to the fantastic use of a sample of soprano Emily Van Evera performing O Euchari that heightens the senses and really starts to take the listener off on a beautiful dreamy journey.

Loads of synth sounds are introduced, beats become heavier, there are multiple layers and then a riff comes in to whisk you higher still.

The sounds, the layers, the production, the way everything is pieced so beautifully and so perfectly together is just sublime.

At 3 minutes 30 seconds everything cuts to beats, it's only for a mere 19 seconds, enough for you to catch your breath, before the synths start bubbling again and we're in for another 4-minute ride to the stars.

This is electronic psychedelia, created in a cupboard at the top of the stairs (see link below to Paul Hartnoll's story). Kind of punk, kind of crazy, all kinds of amazing, sheer bliss! 

Orbital - brothers Phil & Paul Hartnoll

Around 6-minutes things start to slow down gradually, this is when Belfast reaches peak bliss (at least for me), things slow, leaving you kind of hanging in a higher state of consciousness as the song edges towards conclusion at 8-minutes 10 seconds.

This epic slice of electronic heaven received the title Belfast after Orbital played the Art College in Belfast in May 1990. The duo had been booked by David Holmes and Alan Simms, leaving behind a demo tape which included the track subsequently named Belfast in recognition of the positive experience they'd had in the city.

Trust me - this is as good as it gets. Even if electronic music isn't normally your thing, try this out with your headphones on and your eyes closed. 

Check the original demo Belfast - the original jam

Read the story behind Belfast by Paul Hartnoll

And below you'll find the released version in all it's ecstatic, euphoric, electronic splendour + a live version from one of the many incredible sets that Orbital have played at Glastonbury over the years.

You can find a playlist of songs in my Trust Me series by searching for Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify, or CLICK HERE You'll also find links to all previous blogs in the series below.

Previous Trust Me blogs

1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras
7. In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
8. The Music Box by Ruth Copeland
9. The Ship Song by Nick Cave
10. Sometimes by James
11. I Walk The Earth by King Biscuit Time
12. Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Centre
13. When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields
14. The Man Don't Give A F**k by Super Furry Animals
15. All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun by Jeff Buckley and Liz Fraser
16. Are You Lookin' by The Tymes
17. A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth
18. Feelings Gone by Callum Easter
19. Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
20. Did I Say by Teenage Fanclub
21. Don't Look Back by Teenage Fanclub

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Teenage Fanclub Fanclub podcast - Man-Made


Barry McLuskie and Alan Clarke joined me again to record the second Teenage Fanclub Fanclub podcast. This time we focused on 2005's Man-Made album. 

"We hardly took any equipment, just some guitars and a pair of drumsticks." - Norman Blake

As we recorded the Long Way Round podcast in February, the three of us found we had been listening to (and greatly appreciating) Man-Made. Three songs made it on to our Long Way Round (imaginary) compilation.

There is a freshness to the album. The band have moved on from Creation/Sony, the 2003 career spanning compilation 4766 Seconds - A Shortcut to Teenage Fanclub helped to draw a line in the sand, Francis MacDonald returns on drums, the band have set up their own PeMa label and they have decamped to Chicago to record with John McEntire from Tortoise on production duties.

We hope you enjoy the discussion surrounding the album, each song, b-sides and shows from the era, our thoughts and the odd tangent we head off on!

The podcast is available on a number of platforms. This is the podcast website and this is the link to Spotify.

And here are the promo videos for the singles, plus a link to the excellent b-side Please Stay.

It's All In My Mind - video

Fallen Leaves - video

Please Stay - b-side to It's All In My Mind

Friday, 2 April 2021

Never Ending Mixtape part 59

Welcome to the latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify.

I recently read the excellent Barbed Wire Kisses by Zoe Howe on the Mary Chain and as a result a healthy dose of The Jesus and Mary Chain songs added to the playlist, as well as their Sister Vanilla project with their sister Linda.

Sister Vanilla

The BBC iPlayer is currently showing an incredible documentary on Shane MacGowan. The archive footage of a young teenage MacGowan discovering himself in London as punk is breaking is sensational, he was there at early gigs by The Pistols and The Clash, all of a sudden he discovers himself and an identity. The live footage from Pogues shows is spine tingling and breath taking, mild chaos on stage and on the floor, MacGowan the conductor. I've never really dug deep into The Pogues catalogue, but I've enjoyed checking them out. Sadly, some of the interview footage with MacGowan is pretty harrowing, always with a beer or wine close to hand, looking at least 20-years older than he is. 

Elsewhere we have a new track from UNKLE and I intend to blog on their latest album soon. Two gems from The Charlatans Between 10th & 11th feature, including the superbly titled Chewing Gum Weekend.

You'll also find some northern soul, glam pop, early Primals, some stunners from Damon Albarn's Gorillaz - just listen to Bobby Womack on Stylo!

There are now over 1,900 songs on my Never Ending Mixtape. Search Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE. Scroll down to get to these songs, or click shuffle and enjoy.

Here are the latest additions;

cellaphone - FKA Twigs

Solid Gold Easy Action - T-Rex

Life's A Gas - T-Rex

Mini, mini, mini - Jacques Dutronc

Psycho - The Sonics

Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got - Marvin Gaye

Coz I Love You - Slade

Do Yourself Some Good (Ronin Throwdown) - UNKLE

Chewing Gum Weekend - The Charlatans

(No-one ) Not Even The Rain - The Charlatans

Mama Soul - The Soul Survivors

On The Wall (Portastudio Demo) - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Art School - The Jam

I'll Be Your Mirror - The Velvet Underground & Nico

We Go Down Slowly Rising - Primal Scream

I.O.U (Campbell session) - The La's

Nine Million Rainy Days - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Cherry Came Too - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Far Gone And Out - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Don't Get Lost In Heaven - Gorillaz

Demon Days - Gorillaz

Dirty Harry - Gorillaz

Stylo - Gorillaz (featuring Mos Def & Bobby Womack)

Parthenon Drive - Echo and the Bunnymen

Why Can't There Be Love? - Dee Ewards

To Know You Is To Love You - Syreeta

Get It Up For Love - Ned Docheny

Girlfriend - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Something I Can't Have - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Drop - The Jesus and Mary Chain

Can't Stop The Rock - Sister Vanilla

K to be Last - Sister Vanilla

Jamcolas - Sister Vanilla

Totp - Sister Vanilla

Volcano Girls - Veruca Salt

A Rainy Night In Soho - The Pogues

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah - The Pogues

Love You 'til The End - The Pogues

The Broad Majestic Shannon - The Pogues

Saturday, 27 March 2021

79 album reviews

Albums have helped provide glimmers of light, hope and escapism to music fans across the world over the last year. Tim Burgess listening parties on Twitter certainly helped me to escape reality on a number of occasions. Music has that power. I got lost in albums I hadn't listened to in ages, gained even more appreciation for some as I learned of the stories behind the writing and recording and just generally loved listening to a full album and switching off from the news and the world.

With some time on my hands, I looked back through my blog to check on albums I have written about. I thought I would compile them (plus a few EP's) in one blog, largely for my own amusement, but also just in case it helps anyone who visits my blog to discover or rediscover albums that I enjoy.

There is a wide mix of music from my youth, through albums released during the lifetime of the blog; DIY artists from Scotland, real favourite artists and some of my all-time favourite blogs.

One of the other reasons I looked back on my blog was because I realised I hadn't been blogging on albums as much as I used to. I only wrote 5 blogs on albums through 2020, in comparison to 10 in 2019 and 11 in 2018. I have a number of unfinished album features in my drafts folder that I hope to get round to finishing.

Anyway, enough about that. Here is a list of blogs I have written on 76 albums and 3 EP's. 

Take a look and thanks for visiting.

Shadows by Teenage Fanclub, blog from December 2010

Screamadelica by Primal Scream (20-years on), blog from February 2011

Ocean Rain by Echo & The Bunnymen, blog from May 2011

Nevermind by Nirvana, blog from June 2011

Definitely Maybe by Oasis, blog from August 2012

BMX Bandits In Space by BMX Bandits, blog from October 2012

Big Inner by Matthew E White, blog from February 2013

Kingdom Of Wires by Kevin Harper, blog from June 2013

Drop Out by East Village, blog from January 2014

Morning Phase by Beck, blog from February 2014

Rave Tapes by Mogwai, blog from February 2014

Ever Evolving Lounge by Dr Cosmos Tape Lab, blog from July 2014

Psychocandy by The Jesus & Marychain, blog from November 2014

The Second Coming by The Stone Roses, blog from December 2014

Modern Nature by The Charlatans, blog from January 2015

Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance by Belle & Sebastian, blog from January 2015

Sparks To Fire by Flash Talk/Sonny Marvello, blog from January 2015 

Everything Ever Written by Idlewild, blog from February 2015

Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass, blog from February 2015

Matador by Gaz Coombes, blog from February 2015

Beyond The Silver Sea by Dr Cosmos Tape Lab, blog from April 2015

How Many Glasgow by Jad Fair, Tenniscoats & Norman Blake, blog from April 2015

Grand Prix by Teenage Fanclub, blog from May 2015

Destroy Rock n Roll by Mylo, blog from May 2015

Highest Point In Cliff Town by Hooton Tennis Club, blog from August 2015

The Beginning Stages of the Polyphonic Spree, blog from September 2015

Some Friendly by The Charlatans, blog from October 2015

(What's The Story) Morning Glory by Oasis, blog from October 2015

Music Complete by New Order, blog from October 2015

Hotchspotch by kIDD, blog from December 2015

In Search Of Harperfield by Emma Pollock, blog from February 2016

Faults by The Second Hand Marching Band & Benni Hemm Hemm, blog from February 2016

Bryter Layter by Nick Drake, blog from March 2016

Homemade Lemonade by Ette / Carla J Easton, blog from July 2016

Wildflower by The Avalanches, blog from July 2016

Barbara, Barbara, We Face A Shining Future, blog from July 2016

Here by Teenage Fanclub, blog from September 2016

Teenage Fanclub Have Lost It EP, blog from January 2017

Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson, blog from April 2017

Sirens EP by TeenCanteen, blog from April 2017

Friday Night The Eagles Fly by The Bar Dogs, blog from April 2017

Into the Light by Medicine Men, blog from May 2017

BMX Bandits Forever, blog from May 2017

Weather Diaries by Ride, blog from June 2017

Different Days by The Charlatans, blog from June 2017

Songs From Northern Britain by Teenage Fanclub, blog from July 2017

How The West Was Won by Peter Perrett, blog from August 2017

Erratic Cinematic by Gerry Cinnamon, blog from September 2017

There Are No Saints by Siobhan Wilson, blog from September 2017

Returned From Sea by Sister John, blog from September 2017

Peel Sessions by Teenage Fanclub, blog from October 2017

Permo by Spinning Coin, blog from November 2017

The Winter Garden Playtest by Radiophonic Tuckshop, blog from December 2017

Moon Safari by Air, blog from January 2018

Cardinal by Pinegrove, blog from January 2018

Silver Dollar Moment by The Orielles, blog from February 2018

A Northern Soul by The Verve, blog from June 2018

Lush by Snail Mail, blog from July 2018

The Immaculate Collection by Madonna, blog from August 2018

Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, blog from August 2018

Technique by New Order, blog from September 2018

And Nothing Hurt by Spiritualized, blog from September 2018

The Original Memphis Recordings by Primal Scream, blog from October 2018

Impossible Stuff by Carla J Easton, blog from October 2018

The Good Will Out by Embrace, blog from February 2019

Innocence and Despair by Langley Schools Music Project, blog from February 2019

Varshons 2 by The Lemonheads, blog from February 2019

Badbea by Edwyn Collins, blog from March 2019

Morning Dove White by One Dove, blog from March 2019

Music For Megastructures by L Space, blog from April 2019

A Catholic Education by Teenage Fanclub, blog from July 2019

Pii 3 by Stephen Solo, blog from July 2019

Dogrel by Fontaines DC, blog from October 2019

The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips, blog from April 2019

Comes A Time by Mark W Georgsson, blog from September 2020

McCartney by Paul McCartney, blog from October 2020

The Creatures We Were Before We Are Ghosts by The Son(s), blog from November 2020

McCartney II by Paul McCartney, blog from December 2020

The Loves Of Your Life by Hamilton Leithauser, blog from December 2020

Two Sunsets by The Pastels & Tenniscoats, blog from January 2021