Tuesday, 4 October 2022

It's A Shame About Ray at 30

It's A Shame About Ray, one of my all-time favourite albums, is 30 years old!

And it's 30-minutes of joyous guitar pop! Always has been, always will be. Sometimes it's guitar pop with a punky edge, sometimes with real melancholy, others with a country tinge to it. Sun-kissed, but naturally warm anyway, this is a real gem of an album that has aged beautifully.

The combination of acoustic and electric guitars is one that still wows me all the years down the line. Evan's vocals tug on heart strings. The storytelling is exceptional and Juliana Hatfield (bass and backing vocals) and David Ryan (drums) gel with him superbly.  Nic Dalton played bass on Mrs Robinson (added on as a bonus on the initial reissue only months after the album had been released) and would go on to replace Hatfield. 

The friendship/romance with Juliana and the link to the Australian music scene where Dalton was central thanks to his Half A Cow label, band Sneeze and friend Tom Morgan of Smudge, brought out the very best in Dando. 

It was arguably the most stable and supportive period of his life and career. Everything came together, before it very publicly fell apart.

Pin-ups - Juliana Hatfield & Evan Dando

Now reissued with loads of bonus tracks (on vinyl for the first time; it's time to revisit It's A Shame About Ray and all the added extras in feature length blog taking in Evan and The Lemonheads celebratory show at Glasgow's QMU and then a look at the album track by track.


The QMU was sold out and absolutely rammed. Fortunately we (me, my sister Carla and friend Paul) got a great position standing upstairs with an excellent view. 

Evan ambled on stage to a huge roar and started with Being Around before going straight into The Outdoor Type, two of my favourite Lemonheads songs. Dando was in fine form throughout, joking with the crowd and enjoying an early heckle of play a fast yin. The crowd were in fine voice from the start, singing along tenderly. Hard Drive from his Baby I'm Bored album was gorgeous, leaving me all fuzzy inside, as did All My Life. And Evan's version of Into Your Arms could thaw the coldest heart.

Before long he was joined on stage by the latest incarnation of The Lemonheads for a romp through the classic album. 

The band barely paused between songs, sometimes they just went straight into the next. Evan's guitar screeched, soared, stunned and went straight into my heart. His latest rhythm section kept things tight and allowed him to play.

After the ... Ray album the band were off, on, Evan was off and on and behind drums and we were treated to 45-50 minutes of fun via Evan's back catalogue and some of his favourite songs. There was a setlist taped to the stage but I'm not sure how often it was referred to!

Hospital, Break Me, Tenderfoot, a euphoric romp through If I Could Talk I'd Tell You (joined by friend and co-writer Eugene Kelly on stage), Big Gay Heart oozed with humour and soul, Different DrumStove ... brilliant stuff.

Taking requests during his acoustic session, Evan played a beautiful Favourite T and hearts melted. Then Evan clambered behind the drums and sang along to his own beats; Al Stewart's Time Passages and the Jackson 5's I Want You Back. Great fun.

Closing with another request, the incredible Ride With Me, Evan unplugged his acoustic and stepped to the front of the stage for the final section, before jumping down to high five some of the crowd.

What a show. What a guy. What a band.

My friend Bobby Motherwell on Facebook was also at the show and posted this when he got home;

Magnificently shambolic, mistake strewn poignancy, emotionally stark, raw and funny. But those songs ... those songs.

Bobby captures the show perfectly. 

Photo by Nic McAllister

Now for the album; track by track. 

Opening with the 1 minute 45 second blast of Rockin' Stroll, you're immediately into the world of Dando's Lemonheads. A little riff and then a flowing, tumbling rhythm with Dando telling the tale of life through the eyes of a kid in a buggy people's knees and trunks of trees, smile at me.

Yet Dando could be singing about life through his own eyes as he sings;

I'm still aware of little but I'm gonna try

I'm gonna try

Rockin' Stroll oozes warmth, the riffs and the way the band hurtle through it is just joyful.

Rockin' Stroll video

Another flowing rhythm riff ushers in Confetti, words spilling out of Dando in a ridiculously hooky manner. The whole song is like a big chorus, there is a little guitar break at 56 seconds and then a guitar solo for 30-seconds at 1-minute 46. And I love the little scrape along the fretboard at 2 minutes 22.

He kinda shoulda sorta woulda loved her if he could've

The story's getting closer to the end

He kinda shoulda sorta woulda loved her if he could've

He'd rather be alone than pretend

Promo around the 30th anniversary highlights that Evan wrote the song about his parents divorce. Hiding dark and deep thoughts within bubblegum guitar pop. Dando looks super fresh and cool in the video. 

Confetti video

I remember an old school friend called Craig Richardson showing me the chords to It's A Shame About Ray. They were so simple that even I could play them. Although the little riff before the start remains beyond me! A co-write with Tom Morgan, Ray flows along in dreamy, sunshine-y kind of way. I used to drive about the back road of Carluke down to the Clyde Valley, or to Lanark with this on the car stereo. 

If I make it through today

I'll know tomorrow not to leave my feelings out on display

I love the feeling to Rudderless, it's really reflective, almost tinged with sadness. Even the chords Evan plays at the start sound a little sad, but beautifully so.

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.

Rudderless, Tokyo 1994

My Drug Buddy is, at least for me, one of the most beautiful songs in Evan Dando's locker. Telling the story of his friend/lover coming over to go a walk to  score drugs, My Drug Buddy is sung with real feeling, it sounds beautifully melancholy. The way Evan and Juliana harmonise on I'm too much with myself, I wanna be someone else is so dreamy it hurts.

She's in the phone booth

And I'm looking in 

There comes a smile on her face

There's still some of the same stuff they had yesterday

There's still some of the same stuff they had yesterday

Yeah

The organ adds to the lazy feel of the song, this is peak Dando and Hatfield together. 

My Drug Buddy video

The Turnpike Down is a short song, kind of country punk, repeated twice. I love the line between a want and a need to

The Turnpike Down, Evan Dando in Sydney

I'm a sucker for the Dando and Morgan co-writes. They are so simple yet so clever. Bit Part is only 1 minute and 51 seconds long. Acoustic and electric guitars collide, the lyrics are brilliant, the solo is fizzing, Juliana compliments Evan perfectly and it builds to a brilliant climax with Dando hollering the final verse/chorus - it's all one in this song.

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)
I want a bit part in your life
Rehearsing all the time

Bit Part live at Glastonbury 1994

There is a line in Alison's Starting To Happen that is one of my all-time favourite lyrics. 

She's the puzzle piece behind the couch

Made the sky complete

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

All these years (decades!) later, this song still sounds like the band are having so much fun. The Lemonheads were really in the zone on this album.

Alison's Starting To Happen (live video)

Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter joins the band on slide guitar for the sublime Hannah & Gabi. It's a beautiful song, the guitar playing is so inventive and melodic. I would often think of this song when I was on the train to Glasgow as a teenager, watching a girl who got on from Lanark. I'd try to catch her eye in the reflections of the windows. This and Norman 3 by Teenage Fanclub were my songs for her. I had a major teenage crush. We eventually talked, but no more than that. Really up there with the most gorgeous Lemonheads songs. 

Hannah & Gabi (video)

Nic Dalton wrote Kitchen and it really emphasises how effortlessly he fitted in with Evan and the ethos of The Lemonheads around this time. Further cementing Evan's bond with Australia. The bassline practically bounds out of the speakers, the vocal melody is deliciously fast and again Dando & Hatfield harmonise with ease. I love the closing 42-seconds - the sound of a band having fun jamming along.

Ceiling Fan In My Spoon is 1 minutes 47 seconds of psychedelic melodic babble, it has a harder and punkier edge to it than anything else on the album. 


Evan's cover of Frank Mills is just perfect. It fits so well with Dando's move towards telling more stories through his own songs and also with the way he continued to highlight his taste in music through acoustic covers. And with the whole sunshine-y, stoned vibe to the album.

He was last seen with his friend, a drummer
He resembles George Harrison of The Beatles
But he wears his hair, tied in a small bow at the back

Of course, It's A Shame About Ray has been re-released several times, including once not long after the original release date to include The Lemonheads cover version of Mrs Robinson. A pop punk bubbledum performance that introduced the band to many. Would the album still have broken without that addition? Who knows, who cares, it's a f**king brilliant album and I'm sure it would have found its way.

In terms of 30th anniversary bonus tracks, we have songs from Evan's trip to Australia; covers of Divan by Smudge and Shaky Ground by Sneeze. The latter featured in my Trust Me series of blogs. 

Check my 10 songs by Smudge here.

We also have a KCRW radio session of My Drug Buddy, an acoustic cover of ABBA's Knowing Me, Knowing You and demo versions of songs on the album. It's interesting to hear Ceiling Fan In My Spoon in that form.

It's A Shame About Ray is sun kissed, warm, melodic, romantic, funny and the sound of a songwriter not only finding himself, but friends.




Monday, 26 September 2022

Autumn Sweater


Trust me #43
Autumn Sweater by Yo La Tengo

It's time, if you haven't done so already, to dig out your Autumn sweaters. Your hoodies. Your cosy jackets. And, whether you know the song or not, why don't you listen to Yo La Tengo's beautiful Autumn Sweater from their 1997 album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One.

It's one of my favourite songs by the New Jersey band who have released 16 albums since forming back in 1984. 

Autumn Sweater has a lovely dreamy and psychedelic feel to it. An organ sound underpins everything, allowing for a variety of beats and percussion over the top. This was the beginning of the band starting to experiment with electronica, doing so in a way that just felt very natural. They didn't lose their essence, they just added to it.

Is it too late to call this off?

We could slip away

Wouldn't that be better?

Me with nothing to say

And you in your Autumn sweater

Ira Kaplan's vocals are sublime, captured perfectly by Roger Moutenot who produced the album. And check the Kevin Shields remix as a bonus!

Autumn Sweater

Autumn Sweater (Kevin Shields remix)

A list of all previous songs I've blogged about in my Trust Me feature are listed below, along with links to each blog.

I've also collated them all into a playlist on Spotify that you can find by searching for Everything Flows - Trust Me , or you can CLICK HERE

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
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by Love Affair
27. Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
28. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
29. Shaky Ground by Sneeze
29. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
30. I Can Feel Your Love by Felice Taylor
31. The State We're In by The Chemical Brothers w/ Beth Orton
32. Sunshine After The Rain by Ellie Greenwich
33. Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem
34. Mondo 77 by Looper
35. Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
36. Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
37. How High by The Charlatans
38. I Can't Let Go by Evie Sands
39. Pop Song 89 by R.E.M.
40. Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
41. There She Goes by The Las
42. We're Going To Be Friends by White Stripes


Tuesday, 20 September 2022

We're Going to be Friends

Trust Me #42

We're Going to be Friends by White Stripes

I watched a beautiful film called Wonder at the weekend with my wife and kids. It's full of emotion as a young boy called Auggie, born with a rare medical deformity called mandibulofacial dysostosis, begins school at the age of 10 and following 27 different surgeries to help him see, smell, speak and hear.

Auggie has been home schooled and is so worried about his appearance that he wears a space helmet. The film captures the daily challenges Auggie faces, how he battles bullying, makes friends, displays immense courage and bravery and ultimately wins hearts.

I'd highly, highly recommend it. 

There is point in the film where Auggie develops a friendship with a young boy called Jack. We see them playing light saber fights, computer games, walking in the sunshine and just hanging out and doing what friends do. This section is soundtracked perfectly by White Stripes We're Going to be Friends from their 2001 breakthough album, White Cells.

In the song Jack White sings about starting school and making a new friend. White sings softly and tenderly over a simple acoustic riff, his vocal melody is loving and soothing.

The song is a mere 140 seconds long and White briefly pauses as he tells his tale of friendship and learning. It's beautiful writing and it is beautifully performed. Trust me, this is a real heartwarmer.

Numbers, letters, learn to spell

Nouns and books and show and tell

Playtime we will throw the ball

Back to class, through the hall

Teacher marks our height against the wall

Teacher marks our height against the wall


We don't notice any time pass, we don't notice anything

We sit side by side in every class

Teacher thinks that I sound funny, but she likes the way you sing


Tonight I'll dream when I'm in bed

When silly thoughts go through my head

About the bugs and alphabet

And when I wake tomorrow I'll bet

That you and I will walk together again

Yes I can tell that we are gonna be friends

Yes I can tell that we are gonna be friends

Official video

Live on SNL

Live at Reading 2004

A list of all previous songs I've blogged about in my Trust Me feature are listed below, along with links to each blog.

I've also collated them all into a playlist on Spotify that you can find by searching for Everything Flows - Trust Me , or you can CLICK HERE

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
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by Love Affair
27. Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
28. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
29. Shaky Ground by Sneeze
29. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
30. I Can Feel Your Love by Felice Taylor
31. The State We're In by The Chemical Brothers w/ Beth Orton
32. Sunshine After The Rain by Ellie Greenwich
33. Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem
34. Mondo 77 by Looper
35. Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
36. Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
37. How High by The Charlatans
38. I Can't Let Go by Evie Sands
39. Pop Song 89 by R.E.M.
40. Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
41. There She Goes by The Las

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Anything Goes & Everything Flows DJ mix 16


Hello and welcome to my 16th 60-minute DJ mix where I apply the philosophy that Anything Goes & Everything Flows, attempting to create a mix that would go down well in the likes of The Variety & McChuills. 

Those 2 bars were scene for many a memorable night 'back in the day' and I'd often prefer to just stay in the bars all night listening to the DJ there rather than go to a club.

I do focus on soul and funk this month, trying to create a real groove (easy when you're playing Sly & The Funk Brothers) but also providing some euphoric moments courtesy of The M.V.P.'s (pretty sure I first heard this song in McChuills at a Friday Street preclub), a sensational cover by Peggy Lee and the irresistable soul pop of The Jackson 5.

I hope you enjoy this mix. Search for Everything Flows DJ Mix 16 on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Here is the tracklist;

What's Going On (Instrumental) - Marvin Gaye / The Funk Brothers

Positive (Instrumental) - Sly & The Family Stone

Sexy -  MFSB

Turnin' Mt Heartbeat Up - The M.V.P.'s

K-Jee - The Nite-Liters

Everyday People - Sly & The Family Stone

Give Me Your Love - Sisters Love

Space Funk (Dopebrother 7-inch remix) - Manzel

Everybody Have A Good Time - Archie Drell & The Drells

You + Me = Love (12 inch single version) - The Undisputed Truth

Dock Of The Bay - Peggy Lee

I Want You Back - The Jackson 5




Friday, 9 September 2022

With A Little Help From My Friends

 Cover version of the month #79
Joe Cocker covers The Beatles

I reckon that I first heard Joe Cocker's wonderful take on With A Little Help From My Friends through the American TV show The Wonder Years. The show ran from 1988 (when I was 12) through to 1993, but was set in the late 60's through to the early 70's.

It was an honest portrayal of family life, told, through reflection, by Kevin Arnold. We watched Kevin developed into a teenager and his challenges with life; his crush on/love for Winnie Cooper, his friendships, his relationship with his siblings, his parents, school and life in general. I loved it. It was funny, emotional and not afraid to hit hard - I still recall Kevin and his parents horror when his brother Wayne (who Kevin had a love/hate relationship with) was drafted for Vietnam. 

From memory The Wonder Years was on around dinner time on a Sunday afternoon. Essential viewing. Kevin & Winnie's will they/won't they had me as hooked as Ross & Rachel in Friends a number of years later.

I'm pretty sure my parents told me that the song was originally sung by The Beatles. My Dad was more of a Stones fan and I took over a couple of Stones records he had, but he also had The Beatles 20 Greatest Hits on cassette that he played in the car. 

However that album was all pre psychedelic era Beatles. I'm unsure when I first heard Sgt Peppers. Probably circa 1991/1992 when I was 15/16. 

Anyway, lets talk about Joe Cocker's rip roaring, gut busting, tonsil tickling, soul searching version of With A Little Help From My Friends. He really does take The Beatles version, sung by Ringo, and take it to another level.

Cocker's cover was released in November 1968, just over a year after The Beatles released the song in the summer of love on their seminal Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

There is a slow beginning, before electric guitar comes in like a bolt of lightning, drums crashing like thunder, hammond organ like the rain. And then at 50-seconds .... Cocker begins to sing over a low bass and organ, his voice sounds weary, experienced, grateful and soulful.

Backing singers come in for the chorus, ushered in by more pounding drums and glorious sounding power chords on electric guitar. 

We drop back for the second verse, the backing singers come in to respond to Cocker, asking him questions;

How do I feel by the end of the day?

(Are you sad 'cause you're on your own)

By the time we get to the third verse we have the backing singers taking the lead and Cocker responding to them. 

At 3  minutes 50 seconds Cocker lets out a blood curdling roar in response to the question do you need anybody? So the backing singers ask the question again and Cocker is just off on one, ad libbing in response until the song fades. It's as spine tingling as anything you are likely to hear. 5-minutes of raw soul from the bottom of the heart.

The Beatles version is only 2-minutes and 45 seconds. It's beautifully melancholic, sung by Ringo until his band mates join him towards the end of the first chorus. They then come in to answer Ringo's questions in verse 2 with questions of their own.

It's a lovely recording, the way Ringo sings I want somebody to love makes you really believe him. He sounds pretty down. Then his band mates ask him some questions to try and cheer him up, Ringo is certain that love at first sight happens all the time.  He is still positive ... with his friends.

Of course the line I get high with a little help from my friends added to the whole 60's summer of love drug vibe. Whether pot or LSD. 

With A Little Help From My Friends may be one of the last true Lennon & McCartney co-writes. Paul has said on many occasions that they sat down and specifically wrote it for Ringo. As a result, there might not be a demo with either of them singing it. Surely it would have surfaced by now if there was!

I'm a fan of both versions. I love the way Ringo delivers it with his band mates singing questions to him, like he really is getting by with help from his friends. And then who couldn't fall for Joe Cocker's rip roaring version?! It's incredible. Prepare yourself for the Woodstock performance!

All previous cover version of the month blogs are listed below. To listen, search for Everything Flows Cool Cover Versions playlist, featuring all of the songs below, on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Joe Cocker studio version

Joe Cocker Woodstock version

The Beatles Sgt Peppers version

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt
39. ABBA-esque
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
64. Lola

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Never Ending Mixtape part 76

Ringo Deathstarr

Holy moly

Since I last updated you all on my Never Ending Mixtape I've added over 100 songs!

So, I'm not going to type them all up here, that could take a while!

Instead, if you visit my Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify and scroll down to song number 2,748 - Too Much Pressure by The Selector, you can start listening to loads of new songs.

They do include;

Hang On Sloopy by The Kingsmen

I Love Rock n Roll by The Jesus and Mary Chain

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Sleater Kinney

No Time by Whiteout (their debut album has been reissued)

Kaleidoscope by Ringo Deathstarr (what an incredible band name!!!! cool sounds too! Pictured up top)

Baby I Need Your Loving by The Four Tops (music doesn't get much better than this)

4 songs from Chairmen of the Board's Skin I'm In album (thanks to DJ Andtrew Divine for turning me on to this)

2 Secret Psychedelic Mixes by The Chemical Brothers (super cool)

Acid Eyes by Paulo Nutini (really enjoying his album)

Faith & Freedom 90 by George Michael (pop perfection)

And loads of super cool soul and funk songs towards the end of the latest additions. Which end with Joy by Isaac Hayes.

Although by the time you read this more songs will have been added!

There are now 2,845 songs on my Never Ending Mixtape. We're heading closer to 3,000!

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE

As always, I hope you rediscover something you love, or that you discover something you've never heard before that you fall for instantly.

ENJOY.



Sunday, 4 September 2022

Michael Head & Gerry Love at Strathaven Hotel

The power of music is more important than ever in this crazy world we live in. I feel fortunate to have enjoyed two nights in a row listening to Michael Head & Gerry Love singing songs of escapism, love, life & dreams. 

Douglas MacIntyre's FRETS Concerts have blossomed over the last couple of years, bringing songwriters out to his charming hometown of Strathaven, deep in the Lanarkshire countryside. Strathaven is a lovely town, but it's also very hard to get to via public transport. So people have to make a little bit of extra effort to get there. I think that adds to the sense of occasion. Along with the fact that the venue is a gorgeous country hotel. And also it brings a little sense of escapism ... from the norm ... from reality. We all need that right now!

Michael Head was once memorably described by the NME as being 'a lost genius and among the most gifted songwriters of his generation.' If Head was lost for a while, he has been found again. Dear Scott, his most recent album, may well be my album of 2022. Every time he tours he seems to increase the size of his audience. Word of mouth is getting around. It will be interesting to see what venue he plays next in Glasgow after selling out Saint Lukes.

On Friday night I arrived just in time for the end of The Kingfishers first song. Douglas MacIntyre seems to be in almost as many bands as Stu Kidd, so it's almost inevitable that the two of them are now in one together. The duo chose to play a set of Buffalo Springfield covers and they played them beautifully; 3 Stephen Stills songs and 3 Neil Young songs. Mr Soul and Bluebird were real highlights and I was reminded what an incredible song For What It's Worth Is. MacIntyre & Kidd sang and played with ease. I really enjoyed their set.

Support on Saturday night was via Jim McCulloch who has played with many bands through the years, as well as releasing under his own name and under the Green Peppers. Jim played a short set that included a song from Isobel Campbell's excellent Ballad of the Broken Seas. Jim plays throughout the album, but contributed one of his own songs, the gorgeous instrumental It's Hard To Kill A Bad Thing. Jim added some vocals and it sounded beautiful. Opening song Chorus Of Lists was a fast flowing melodic gem and closing When I Mean What I Say received a very warm response.


It's been almost 3-years since I last saw Gerry Love when he played a Lightships show as part of The Great Western.  Oh how I've missed his voice and songs. This weekend, Gerry was only backed by Noel O'Donnell on guitar & harmonies, with the addition of a laptop that played a low keyboard drone to back the songs.

Ah the songs! 

Gerry Love inspires devotion and he received a huge welcome as he came on to the stage each night, between songs and he received a standing ovation from most of the crowd.

The setlist varied slightly across both nights. I bumped into Noel in the bar before the second show and he told me Gerry appreciated that a few people were coming both nights. 

From memory (I never take notes when reviewing!) Gerry played Star Sign and Ain't That Enough on the Friday night, but not on the Saturday. Hearts melted. Gerry & Noel harmonised beautifully. Hearing the songs stripped back made me appreciate them even more.

Sweetness In Her Spark was absolutely sublime. Love on tip top romantic form. Take The Long Way Round was played both nights and I have to admit I got a little emotional hearing it.

Pull the subway to the station
For that golden light sensation

Gerry played a new song that sounded as perfectly formed as his long loved classics. It flows superbly and his voice is sounding better than ever. I spoke briefly with Gerry afterwards and he is looking really fit and well. 

Sometimes the world it spins it round
And I can't see it through
Sometimes I need to close my eyes
When I look for you

Someone posted a video of this song on the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub Facebook Group and someone commented I'd listen to this boy till empires crumbled. He spoke for everyone.

On Saturday Gerry played a cool cover by a New York street artist. Do Your Thing by Moondog. It's well worth checking out. He also played the gorgeous Silver & Gold from his Lightships album.

Closing with Sparky's Dream on Saturday, Gerry Love reminded everyone in the audience of his treasure trove of songs that can simultaneously tug on heart strings and make you punch the air in delight.

Lets hope there is news about a Lightships or release under his own name very soon. 


On to Michael Head who has been winning hearts through his songs since the mid-80's with The Pale Fountains, then with Shack and now under his own name with his Red Elastic Band.


A sizeable group of scousers had followed their Pied Piper up to Scotland and I have to give them a very special mention as they generated a fantastic atmosphere.

Head was quick to acknowledge his appreciation of the crowd, venue and everyone at FRETS on both nights. He seemed to be delighted to be playing in such a lovely setting. On Friday Michael said he'd mostly be playing songs from his Dear Scott album and that they could be played as a 2-piece, 5-piece or 18-piece. And then he got started!

What an absolute treat to watch this guy up close and personal! Backed by his band mate Nate on 12-string or acoustic, Head played his acoustic super tenderly at times, before absolutely battering it at others. And he never re-tuned once!

Broken Beauty (written with his daughter) is a delightful song. Head's voice is so dreamy, so naturally melodic. Kismet (lead single from Dear Scott) has a chorus that rises and falls beautifully. 

I mentioned the sizeable scouse contingent that were up for Friday's show. They came into their own (along with the rest of the crowd) when Head played Meant To Be from Shack's Here's Tom With The Weather album, singing the horn section with real gusto. It was incredible, Michael and Nate looked at each other as they jammed the furious ending. The crowd sang on and so they started playing again. Check it out on Twitter HERE A real spine tingling and heart warming moment.

Head also played the sublime As Long As I've Got You and Byrds Turn To Stone from that album. Majestic examples of his songwriting skills.

Further evidence of his genius was delivered in the form of Comedy from Shack's H.M.S. Fable album. The way Head (and a large section of the crowd) sang the line when you cry it pulls me through was as soulful as I have ever seen or heard.

On the Saturday night Michael also got his sister up to sing the Shack song Daniella. What a voice! It was a beautiful moment.

Just to go back to Head's guitar playing. I was spellbound by the way he could be playing furious rhythm one moment and then gently plucking a few strings the next. The way he arranges his songs is stunning. That comes across on record, but to see him play in this stripped back form really highlighted how clever he is, not only with his lyrics, storytelling and melodies, but with the arrangements.

It was a genuine pleasure to be at these two shows. I hope that it's not too long before they are both playing in or around Glasgow again. And hopefully Gerry starts recording some new songs soon.