Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Dogrel by Fontaines D.C

My friend Robbie has been raving about Dogrel by Fontaines D.C for months. So I invited him to write a blog. Fontaines D.C play Glasgow SWG3 on Thursday 21st November.

Album Review – Dogrel by Fontaines D.C. by Robbie Robinson

From the opening pounding beats of Big the album Dogrel lifts you in a tumultuous surge of dirty water, throwing you in all directions, raw guitar strings pulling you further along, guttural vocals before leaving you, somewhat unexpectedly, gently washed up with the smooth melodic sounds of Dublin City Sky. Simply put this is the best album I have heard in 2019… and for some time before that.

The album rushes along at a furious pace, it is not until we reach Roy’s Tune that it breaks rank with what has come before, a fast paced full bodied wall of sound. From the opening bars of Big you can almost taste and smell Dublin, chaotic, loud, dirty, wet, mercurial. However, it doesn’t let up as we crash into Sha Sha Sha and then lurch into the story telling of Too Real, unapologetically demanding an answer ‘Is it too real for ya?’

Described as ‘post-punk’ or punk this Dublin band appear to have produced a classic first album. The gruff narration, rapid fire drum beats, coarse guitar melt together to create the perfect combination. But what perhaps makes it work is the story telling lyrical delivery. The album demands you listen, sit up and be in awe.

Television Screens offers another slight shift in direction, although the beat is still demanding and the lyrics rich the delivery is somewhat smoother, gentler, asking us to stop and think, pause for thought. It lulls us into a soft sense of security before Hurricane Laughter smashes into you, the narration is back taking us round and round, down and down, the harsh oration to the back drop of relentless chords and riffs.

Where as what has comes before is angry and raw, Roy’s Tune tells a similar story but from a different point of view, the daily grind of the city slowly slowly slowly getting the better of you while you fight to hold on for hope and dream of something better, not becoming another cog to be used by the machine, running fast just to stand still, passed by as it dawns on you as what you wanted to be is not going to pass.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Easy Life at Saint Luke's Glasgow

On Wednesday night I headed to the beautiful Saint Luke's in Glasgow's East End to see a band called Easy Life at the recommendation of one of my best friends and his 17-year old daughter.

Ella had introduced Phil to the band and they have followed them as they move up the venues in Glasgow; starting at Broadcast, on to King Tut's and then to a sold out Saint Luke's.

Based on the evidence of Wednesday night the next stop will be the Barrowland Ballroom.

I was thoroughly impressed, the band were tight but loose, they connected brilliantly with the crowd who knew every word and it is a long time since I have seen a crowd jump about with wild glee. It took me back to being 17 and discovering bands and being swept off my feet while jumping and singing.

Phil and I watched from the balcony as the young crowd went crazy and it was brilliant to see Ella and Phil sharing their passion for the band on the way home. They are going down to see them in Liverpool on Sunday.

I asked Ella to write a guest blog;


Bouncing, buzz and Buckfast, Easy Life's third gig in Glasgow was legendary. Having previously seen the five piece three time, I didn't think they could get any better. I was proved wrong.

The crowd was buzzing and so were the boys. The music energetic yet chilled. The band played a mix of upbeat and more relaxed songs, with the introduction of new song nice guys a pop/dance fusion.

This band are one to watch out for. It's safe to say they won't be having any 'nightmares' about coming back to Glasgow any time soon...

Monday, 7 October 2019

10 from The Lemonheads

The second in the new series where I look at 10 of my favourite songs from some of my favourite bands and artists.

Following on from 10 from The Vaselines we move on to The Lemonheads.

I am a HUGE Lemonheads fan and given the treasure trove of album, b-sides, bonus tracks, demos and cover versions that the band have released since forming back in 1986, it has been hard to leave out loads of songs I love to create a list of only 10. I might go back and do a blog on my 10 favourite cover versions by The Lemonheads.

I fell for the band in 1992 when they released their breakthrough It's A Shame About Ray album. Dando was super cool, super handsome and super talented. He seemed to make friends all over the world and write songs (or get them to write songs for him), play in bands, or party with them.

Evan lived the high life, in one NME/Melody Maker interview back in the day he literally couldn't talk due to partying so hard. Juliana Hatfield and Courtney Love were among his lovers, Ben Lee wrote a tribute song I Wish I Was Him, Dando won hearts and broke hearts.

The Lemonheads circa 1992 
David Ryan (drums), Juliana Hatfield (bass), Evan Dando (guitar)

After a burst of 3 albums It's A Shame About Ray (1992) , Come On Feel The Lemonheads (1993) and Car Button Cloth (1996) and constant touring, Dando burnt out and escaped from the very public eye he was living in, disbanding The Lemonheads until 2006, occasionally venturing out to tour acoustically, releasing his stunning Baby I'm Bored solo album in 2003.

The Lemonheads released an eponymous LP in 2006 followed by two albums of cover versions. Dando has talked on stage about having side projects with Willie Mason and others. I just hope Evan keeps releasing music and keeps touring. He has a huge back catalogue to delve into to keep his audiences happy and entertained.

Live, Evan Dano solo or with The Lemonheads is an absolute joy. I smile widely throughout and have enjoyed seeing Evan or the band in venues ranging from Sleazys, to the old Renfrew Ferry when it was across the river, the QMU Debating Chamber, the Garage, Oran Mor and Saint Lukes. And The Lemonheads playing Benicassim in 2005 was a drunken joy.

So with 10 LP's, numerous EP's, b-side and more to choose from. Here are 10 of my favourites by The Lemonheads.

The Outdoor Type
Dando became friends with Tom Morgan from Smudge while touring Australia. They would go on to co-write together and Dando would also cover many of Morgan's songs; The Outdoor Type being one of them. Whilst reluctant to include cover versions in any of the top 10 features I do, I had to include one of my real favourites.

This song suits Dando perfectly as it tells a story, it has humour, it is clever, melodic and pure. Dando's voice is perfect for the confessional lyrics;

I lied about being the outdoor type
I never owned a sleeping bag let alone a mountain bike

A gem from the 1990 Lovey album. The beauty of Dando and his Lemonheads is that many songs can be played acoustic or electric. Stove is one of these gems. Acoustic, it is a lullaby to an old stove that someone helped Dando move. With a full band, The Lemonheads romp through it at pace, the melody may be blurred by the speed, but the longing and love for the stove remains all too clear.

Shaky Ground
I first heard this on a Steve Lamaq Evening Session live broadcast where Dando, at the height of his pin-up days promoting It's A Shame About Ray, played an acoustic set. I think it was at Sheffield Leadmill/University. At one point he had to stop the show to ask people to stop screaming.

He introduced himself that night thus; 'Hi my names Evan Dando and I was born in the spring of the summer of love'. I think I swooned myself!

Around this time I kind of saw a girl who would walk by my house with her dog and I would make an excuse to go out and bump into her. So I particularly love the line;

When I wanna see you I take Jersey for a walk
What's with all this secrecy when all we ever do is talk

Being Around
A Dando and Morgan co-write. This gem was originally the b-side of Mrs Robinson, the cover version that broke The Lemonheads, before being rerecorded and released on Come On Feel ...

The song is equally deceptively simple and brilliantly clever; asking questions with answers full of humour. Dando is all kinds of dreamy gorgeous in the promo video! #mancrush

Alison's Starting To Happen
This delightful pop punk romp contains one of my all-time favourite lyrics;

She's the puzzle piece behind the couch who made the sky complete

This is 2-minutes of perfection, a pop punk romp about Alison Galloway from Tom Morgan's band Smudge. Dando and Galloway were on ecstasy and he came up with the line Alison's Starting To Happen. Here are Evan and The Lemonheads playing it at Glastonbury 1994.

If I Could Talk (I'd Tell You)
A co-write with Eugene Kelly from around the time Dando effectively lost his voice due to his crack addiction. This is chiming guitar pop heaven for me.

I love the feeling to this song, it's really reflective, almost tinged with sadness.

Hope in my past
Hope in my past

I love when Evan sings walked back home to my place and Juliana then sings tired of getting high. And the closing ship without a rudder section is one I always try and sing without needing to stop for breath. Just a super cool song. Check this great version from Tokyo in 1994 with Dando looking all kinds of grunge cool with his hair hanging all over his face.

It's About Time
There is a bit halfway through this song where Dando sings it's not about you, it's not about sunshine and then Juliana Hatfield chimes in with the most gorgeous SUNSHINE that warms my heart every time I hear it.

Mallo Cup
Early Lemonheads with the beautiful opening line Here I am outside your house at 3 AM, trying to think you outta bed

Mallo Cup beautifully captures why I love The Lemonheads so much. Underpinned acoustic, chiming guitar but with Dando's foot never far from the distortion pedal which he pushes for the chorus and it's all over in 2 minutes 11 seconds.

I forget to forget
I ain't remembered yet

Bit Part
I found it very difficult to choose my final song. My Drug Buddy and Hannah and Gabi are absolutely beautiful songs, and how heartaching and heartwarming is Into Your Arms (a cover version). But this is 10 of my favourites, not 10 of the best. And I LOVE Bit Part, another co-write with Tom Morgan and another with beautiful vocal by Juliana Hatfield to compliment Evan.

I'm a sucker for the Dando and Morgan co-writes. They are so simple yet so clever. This one is only 1 minute and 51 seconds long. Acoustic and electric guitars collide, the lyrics are brilliant, the solo is fizzing and it builds to a brilliant climax with Dando hollering the final verse/chorus - it's all one in this song. Check them flying through it at Glastonbury in 1994.

I want a bit part in your life
A walk on would be fine
I just want a bit part in your life
(A bit part in your life)

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon

Trust me #5
Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon

I had started my Trust Me series by just posting lyrics and the song and saying - trust me, this is good.

But I do feel compelled to write something about Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon before you go on to read the lyrics and listen to the song.

So much of Lennon's work is timeless. His take on love, life, death, politics and the universe is one that struck a chord with millions. And it still does.

Songs like Imagine, All You Need Is Love and Give Peace A Chance might be more celebrated, but in the case of Gimme Some Truth, this song in particular rings true in Britain right now. What a state we are in with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and the threat of Brexit hanging over us. I have yet to hear any positive arguments put up for Brexit. Instead all evidence based articles and common sense point towards food and medical shortages, unrest and job losses. A bumbling fool is leading the country - oh how we laughed at the USA when Trump got in!

So yeah, Gimme Some Truth is post primal scream therapy Lennon telling it exactly like it is with some scouse wit thrown in. The circular electric guitar riff sounds vital, at the heart of everything and the solo is rip roaring.

And Lennon is at his most biting, there is no intro, he is straight into it. Sick of it, fed up, drawing the line that he won't be 'mother hubbard soft soap-d'! All he wants is some truth.

Lennon's vocals are exceptional. He is rasping, spitting the lyrics out, matching their distaste at everything that is pissing him off. Gimme Some Truth is exceptional, pre-punk punk in its disdain and delivery.

I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight-short-sighted narrow minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic-pyschotic pig headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

No short haired-yellow bellied son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope

I'm sick to death of seeing things
From tight lipped-condescending-mommies little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

I've had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic-ego-centric-paranoid-prima-donnas
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

Written by John Lennon

Gimme Some Truth (Remastered 2010) lyrics © Sony/ATV Songs LLC, Lennon Music, Lenono Music, Northern Songs, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, LENONO MUSIC C/O DOWNTOWN DMP SONGS

Trust Me
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

Friday, 27 September 2019

I Think We're Alone Now

Cover version of the month #48

Tiffany covers Tommy James and the Shondells

In the Autumn of 1987 I bought two pop albums on cassette tape; Out Of The Blue by Debbie Gibson and the eponymous album by Tiffany. I was 11-years old and I was falling for perfect pop like Gibson's title track Out Of The Blue, the glorious Only In My Dreams and vivacious Shake Your Love and the incredible I Think We're Alone Now by Tiffany. And as an 11-year old with my hormones beginning to explode, I was also falling for the singers!

I can vividly recall nipping across the road with my new tapes to show them off to my neighbour Barry Coughlan and his friend Stevie McColme, both 4 or 5 years older than me. They were heavily into Black Sabbath, Ozzy and Dio and laughed at my love of pop. Although I think they admired my taste in women!

My love for pop has never left me. Gibson's Only In My Dreams still has a youthful zest and freshness about it. Carly Rae Jepsen should cover it!

However this blog is about I Think We're Alone Now, a song I had known was a cover for a long time, however I only discovered the original by Tommy James and the Shondells recently and I have been thoroughly enjoying exploring their back catalogue of impeccable garage pop.

Tiffany's version of I Think We're Alone Now was released in 1987 when she was only 16, shortly before her 17th birthday. Her flame red hair made her stand out and in the promo video she played shopping malls to ecstatic crowds, partied with friends on a beach and sang while hanging out a car window. To an 11-year old this was pretty cool. It still is to a 43-year old!

Looking back on this song Tiffany's voice is exceptionally rich for someone so young and is there a playfulness I wasn't aware of when I was more innocent when she sings the opening lines;

Children behave, that's what they say when we're together
And watch how you play
They don't understand and so we're

And then it is straight into the euphoric romantic bridge and glorious emotional chorus that really captures a feeling, a moment in time. The chorus is absolutely perfect and brings back teenage memories and the excitement of being alone with someone. That line the beating of our hearts is the only sound .... perfect.

Running just as fast as we can, holding on to one another's hands
Trying to get away into the night and then you put your arms around me 
And we tumble to the ground and then you say

I think we're alone now
There doesn't seem to be anyone around
I think we're alone now
The beating of our hearts is the only sound

There is only one more short verse and then it is bridge and chorus all the way. Tiffany's version is pure 80's.

As for the original ... it blows my mind. I love how this song works sung by both male and female. Both can want and need the same thing, both feel the same way.

The original is garage guitar pop perfection. Their is a rawness, a soul, an urgency to the song. There is something magical about it, in keeping with the song title, it feels like you are alone with it, cause you can relate to it. The beat is like garage Motown, complete with tambourine shakes, the breakdown for the chorus works beautifully and the way the song flows towards closing is sublime. It's over in 2 minutes and 19 seconds!

Previous covers of the month

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

If You Could Read My Mind

Trust Me #4
If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot

The 4th in a series. Where I simply ask you to to trust me and check out the song and lyrics.

This is a masterclass in songwriting - enjoy.

If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost you can see

If I could read your mind love
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a paperback novel
The kind that drugstores sell
When you reach the part where the heartaches come
The hero would be me
Heroes often fail
And you won't read that book again
Because the endings just to hard to take

I walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script
Enter number two, a movie queen
To play the scene of bringing all the good things out in me
But for now love let's be real

I never thought I could act this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone
And I just can't get it back

If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie 
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
The story always ends
And if you read between the lines
You'll know that I'm just trying to understand
The feeling that you left

I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where we went wrong
But the feeling's gone
And I just can't get it back

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Never Ending Mixtape Part 40

Welcome to the latest addition to the Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape. We begin with a stomper by Shirley and the Shirelles, before a few from the time they were simply known as The Shirelles. The group formed away back in 1957 and described as having a naive schoolgirl sound. The Beatles were among their fans and covered Baby It's You which is added to the playlist.

We then delve into pop perfection courtesy of Pet Shop Boys who have announced a Greatest Hits tour for next summer, including a Glasgow date. We then have punk pop from Buzzcocks and The Undertones, a rare one from Belle and Sebastian, Boards of Canada, one of my favourites from Teenage Fanclub and a cover version of it by Mark Morriss, Reed, Bowie, The Lemonheads and the late Daniel Johnstone feature alongside gems from Edwyn Collins, New Order, Marlena Shaw and The Exciters. And I've just discovered Australian group The Stroppies - there seems to be so much good music coming from down under at present.

As always - delve in and enjoy. The full list of new additions is below.

Look What You've Done To My Heart - Shirley and the Shirelles
What's The Matter Baby? - The Shirelles
Baby It's You - The Shirelles
Soldier Boy - The Shirelles
What Have I Done To Deserve This? - Pet Shop Boys
What Do I Get? - Buzzcocks
Love Is Lies - Buzzcocks
Here Comes The Summer - The Undertones
Jimmy Jimmy - The Undertones
Big John Shaft - Belle and Sebastian
Happy Cycling - Boards of Canada
Alcoholiday - Teenage Fanclub
Abracadabra - Judee Sill
Crayon Angels - Judee Sill
A Girl Like You - Edwyn Collins
Roll on Babe - Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance
Thieves Like Us - New Order
Alcoholiday - Mark Morriss
I Love You, Suzanne - Lou Reed
Conversation Piece - David Bowie
Wait a Minute - The Excitements
Let's Wade In The Water - Marlena Shaw
Confetti - The Lemonheads
Some Things Last A Long Time - Daniel Johnston
I Had Lost My Mind - Daniel Johnston
You Never Give Me Your Money - The Beatles
Regret - New Order
All The Lines - The Stroppies