Thursday 30 August 2012

18-years since Definitely Maybe by Oasis

Definitely Maybe by Oasis was released on Creation Records 18-years ago today. Half a lifetime ago for me, half a world away.

1994 was a glorious summer, Oasis came along at exactly the right moment for me. I was 18-years old and looking for a band to fall in love with. Oasis stole my heart.

The live reviews in the NME, the songs given away on cassettes on NME and Select Magazine,  the interviews, taping sessions off the was a blast. The 94-96 era of Oasis just completely smashed everything else into oblivion. Noel Gallagher had a plan, tons of great songs, a great front man and the right record label to just go for it.

I caught Oasis in April 1994 just before the release of their debut single 'Supersonic'. They supported The Boo Radleys at the Tramway for Glasgow Sound City. The gig was recorded for Radio 1 and you can hear me and my mates shouting the very uncool chant 'Oasis...barmy army'. Hey, we were 18!

Then it was a stunning gig at the old Cathouse. Oasis came on late after the full Best of Sly & the Family Stone album was played. That was followed by one of my all-time fave gigs in a tent at T in the Park with Liam and Noel playing football on stage. I didn't want it to end. Then in December Liam stormed out the Barrowlands after his voice went a few songs in and Noel finished the gig, telling us to keep our ticket stubs and they would be back. They did come back and they were incredible. Oasis in 1994 were my dream band.

So the album, 18-years on, how does it stand up?

To start with, the cover is a classic. Designed by Brian Cannon from Microdot (Definitely Maybe is in his handwriting) it just looks great.

'Rock'n'Roll Star' is a total statement of intent. It explodes into life, searing and soaring guitars and a young Liam Gallagher (he was 21 for most of 94) singing his heart and lungs out.

I need some time in the sunsheeeee-iinnnne

That Lydon-esque delivery had kids all over the UK hooked from first listen. Noel's lyrics of dreaming of a better life are throughout the album and the b-sides from the time. 

I live my life for the stars that shine, people say it's just a waste of time

Anyone who says that Oasis lyrics don't mean anything hasn't bellowed this out as a youngster. 

The Gallagher's had the cheek and confidence to even deliver

Look at you all you're all in my hands tonight
I'm a Rock'n'Roll star

Believe me, in 1994 I was in the palm of the Gallaghers hand. The power they displayed live was incredible.

'Shaker Maker' was a real live favourite, from memory they opened with it quite a bit in 1994. The 'shake along with me' section was brilliant live, Liam sneering the vocal down the mic.

'Live Forever' is just majestic. Listening to it just now on headphones, it still sends a shiver down my spine. Noel Gallagher laid a marker down with this song and you could question if anyone ever came close to it.

The song flows beautifully, the chords, the simple drums, Liam's voice is perfect and then Noel's guitar solo just lifts things even more.

The double chorus is just sensational, incredibly uplifting.

Maybe I just wanna fly
Wanna live I don't wanna die
Maybe I just wanna breathe
Maybe I just don't believe

Maybe you're the same as me
We see things they'll never see
You and I are gonna live forever

I believed every word as an 18-year old in 1994. Listening back to it now, I still do.

'Up In The Sky' was another live favourite. I remember bouncing like a loony to this at the Cathouse. The bit where it all breaks down other than Noel's guitar and Liam singing 'I can feel you, can you feel me' was a total hands in the air moment before it all kicked in again. That sense of euphoria was all through the album, a pure rush.

'Columbia' always reminds me of Knebworth when it opened the show. I still kick myself for not buying a white label 12-inch of it in Missing Records for £20. That was a lot of money for me back then, it fetches £200 now.

When the groove kicks in it just doesn't stop. The beat is the 'danciest' on the album. Liam is at his sneering best, his voice is truly remarkable on this album, one of the great rock vocal performances.

I can't tell you the way I feel, cause the way I feel is oh so new to me

I mentioned a sense of euphoria for 'Up In The Sky' but 'Columbia' multiplies that by 100.

'Supersonic', the debut single. The power is there, almost punk like, the production from Owen Morris is exceptional. Noel said he wanted it to be louder than anything else being released so it stood out if it was played by a DJ or on a jukebox. Morris delivered...and then some. 

OK some of the lyrics are complete nonsense, but there are also gems of Gallagher philosophy in there that really spoke to me as an 18-year old.

You need to be yourself, you can't be no-one else
You need to find a way for what you wanna say, but before tomorrow

Tony McCarroll was booted out Oasis for his limited ability on the drums but I think that was to Oasis advantage back then. Simple beats, toes tapping, people bouncing. Let Liam and Noel take over.

'Bring It On Down' was Alan McGee's choice for the debut single and you can understand why. It is punk rock, 100mph. Liam in full on Lydon mode.

You're the outcast, you're the underclass

This song is over 4-minutes long. Played live, Oasis probably took a good 30-seconds off it!

'Cigarettes & Alcohol'. A total anthem! Noel used to hammer out the starting riff to this at gigs in 1994 to get people excited and then go and play something else, a total tease.

The riff is T-Rex x 100. Hammered out. But for me, this song is all about Liam Gallagher. His vocals are exceptional for a 21-year old. 

Is it worth the aggrevation to find yourself a job 
when there's nothing worth working for?

You could wait for a lifetime
To spend your days in the sunshine
You might as well do the white line
Cause when it comes on top
You gotta make it happen

Liam's delivery of sunshine was just top; ssssuunnnnsheeeeeyyyiiiinneeee. Brilliant, the energy in this song just leaps off the vinyl.

'Digsy's Dinner' is a laugh. I would much rather 'Fade Away' was on the album. Again it does contain a great line for an 18-year old;

These could be the best days of our lives
But I don't think we've been living very wise

'Slide Away' might just be my favourite Oasis song. It is sheer beauty, it tugs on heartstrings, it makes you punch the air, sing from the top of your lungs, hug your mate, hug is stunning

The middle eight lifts things and then the chorus just takes off for the sun.

Slide in baby and together we'll fly
I try praying but I don't know what you're saying to me

Now that you're mine
We'll find a way of chasing the sun
Let me be the one who shines with you
And we can slide away

Noel's guitar is melodic and soaring, Liam's vocal delivery is the most soulful on the album. This is Oasis at their very best.

At the time Noel described 'Definitely Maybe' as 10 singles and a nice corny track at the end. That sums it up very nicely. A mate of mine has just posted on Facebook that in 1994 we all wanted to live forever and now we are all 'Married With Children'!

So there you have it, except that on the vinyl edition you had the bonus of 'Sad Song', surely one of Noel's best ever songs, certainly one of my faves.

Sung by Noel, this is incredible, highlighting how good a songwriter he was and capable of becoming with future anthems like 'Wonderwall'.

18-years on, it is like it was yesterday. This album is one of the real soundtracks to my life, it came along at the perfect time and will always remind me of those times.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Vigo Thieves - Forever

Vigo Thieves have just released their new song and video, 'Forever'.

This is a real statement of intent and a positive display of creativity and ambition from a DIY band with no financial backing. I like to think of it as modern day punk, being the romantic that I am.

Vigo Thieves 'Heartbeats' and 'She's On Fire' videos released earlier this year have amassed a total of over 100,000 views on YouTube and a fan-made video from their T in the Park performance at the BBC Introducing Tent has reached over 11,000 views at the time of writing.

This is a band that recognise the importance of Social Media and quality content.

'Forever' stars Jody Latham from Shameless and gorgeous Mary Jane O'Harra in an epic 3 minute 27 second film of young love, dreams and tragedy shot by Shootback Productions.

The song starts with stabbing synths before a soulful vocal kicks in and leads the listener on a journey that matches the film perfectly. 

Let's live forever, together we can stay young
Let yourself surrender, together we can stay young
Just let yourself surrender

The first chorus is a total hands in the air moment before the beat and chiming guitar kick in.

We are blinded by lights
Forever falling through neon skies
I see a child as I look in your eyes
It keeps me believing in a place that we can go where we'll grow old

The chorus then lifts off, supersonic jet stream, leaving others trailing in the slipstream.

Check it out. The band have live dates coming up in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow with more to be announced.

Vigo Thieves are a band for the people. #believe

Friday 24 August 2012

With Me Tonight - Keel Her

So the other night Lynn was watching something she has sky plussed that I wasn't very interested in. Four bottles of San Miguel had been chilling nicely in the fridge, I opened one whilst making dinner and stuck some music on and then proceeded to listen to music and drink beer for the rest of the night.

I was mucking about on various websites and decidede to listen to Tim Burgess' new song 'White' on his Soundcloud page. Below that was a song marked A1 With Me Tonight EQM 16bit

It wasn't clear if this was a song by Tim or not, it had me hooked immediately and I soon discovered it was an artist called Keel Her who had released the song on 7-inch via Tim's own label, O-Genesis Recordings.

The song is just gorgeous, pure and simple. A shuffling back beat has some lovely melodic guitar sprinkled over the top before the beautiful voice of Rose Keeler-Schäffeler comes in.

Why, why, why, why won't you talk to me?
Why, why, why why won't you speak to me
Why, why, why, why won't you sleep with me tonight?

And now I really miss you
And now I wanna kiss you
I wanna kiss you tonight

I fell in love with this song immediately. The playing, singing, lyrics, the simplicity and the great feeling from the production. It all flows so well together.

Keel Her appears to be pretty prolific if her bandcamp page is anything to go by. I'll be ordering the 7-inch after payday next week and I look forward to delving into her back catalogue. Hopefully she will come up to Glasgow in the future.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Introducing - The Velveteen Saints

A band called The Velveteen Saints sent me an email earlier this week asking if I would check out their video for a song 'Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead' and invited me to come along to their next Glasgow gig at the Berkley Suite on 7th September.

I liked what they had to say, relatively short and sweet but it all made sense - they didn't want to play 4 or 5 band bills and 11pm 'headline' slots so they booked Blackfriars in the Merchant City and had a party, entry was via a £1 pin badge. 

This is the resulting video 'cobbled' together from fan footage.

The grainy footage and sound resembles early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, as does the frenetic energy and pace of the song.

A shout of '1-2-3-4' kicks off a punk rock riff and a fast paced verse leads to a catchy bridge over mass handclaps.

hear the radio, play the songs I don't know

This leads to an even catchier chorus that stuck in my head on first listen, the first of many.

Strummer is gone and he's not coming back
He's hanging with the King and the man in black
All of you people, you don't know jack
Get it in your head
Rock'n'Roll is dead

It's under 3-minutes long and it is pop-punk-rock brilliance. Simple, energetic and effective. Catchy, spunky and punky.

I definitely intend to try and get to the Berkley Suite on 7th September.

The band only formed in April yet they already have a collection of songs on Soundcloud, the best of which (in my opinion) is 'Wake Me Up' which has a great feel to it, more glorious hooks and again it reminds me of BRMC.

Check 'em out.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Linden - Bleached Highlights

Linden is Joe McAlinden, formerly of Superstar, guest on Teenage Fanclub records and very formerly of The Boy Hairdressers.

Linden's debut album 'Bleached Highlights' has just been released on Edwyn Collins new label AED Records

The album is already receiving some excellent reviews;

  • Album of the Week - Scotland On Sunday
  • “A beautiful record” 4/5 - Q Magazine
  • Album of the Week - Alexis Petridis The Guardian
  • “Beautifully assured” - The Scotsman
  • “This album is stunning” - Daily Record
  • Album of the Week - Vic Galloway BBC Radio Scotland
  • Album of the Week - Tom Morton BBC Radio Scotland
  • “Perfect pop moment” 4/5 - Sunday Express
  • “Glorious… A prime contender for Scottish Album of The Year” - The Sun

If I was to add something from this blog to the section above it would be;
  • "Immediate guitar pop with hooks and harmonies. Simple at times, always beautiful." everythingflowsglasgow
 The first four tracks on this album are sublime, as good as anything you will hear all year, or any year. McAlinden has an effortlessly pure voice and he splices it perfectly with chiming and warm fuzzy guitars.

Opener 'Brown Bird Singing' has been released as a limited 7-inch via AED. Upon listening, it is easy to understand why it was chosen as the lead single, although there are a load of potential follow ups.

It is the sound of sunshine, beautifully produced by Edwyn Collins and Sebastian Lewsley. Check out the DIY video below.

The opening four tracks on the album grabbed me; immediate guitar pop with hooks and harmonies. Simple at times, always beautiful.

'I Just Wanna Be Here (When I'm Somewhere Else)' and the title track 'Bleached Highlights' flow beautifully, leaving me wonder if they were written around the same time. 

'Thank You' has a chorus that just lifts the whole song;

I'm never gonna let you down girl, take my hand and welcome me back home
Hey, I'm always gonna be around girl, understand that you're my way back home

The CD (resplendent Jim Lambie print) comes with a lyric book and looking over the lyrics as I listen it is clearly evident that 'Bleached Highlights' is an out and out love album. 

That is hammered home by 'If I Had Wings' which (on only a few listens) is a song that stands out, brilliant guitar work and McAlinden sounding particularly angelic and soulful. At only 2 minutes and 20 seconds long, you'll be playing it several times in a row.

I finally found you
My senses around you
I finally found you

People in love experience all kinds of emotions and 'Written' and 'Hear My Name' highlight insecurities, maintaining the flow of the album but just slowing it down ever so slightly.

'Something Wonderful' is acoustic based until the chorus with McAlinden sounding almost breathless as he is singing his hear out.

Somethings wonderful just got better
And I think of you every day

The album closes with 'Hide Away' with a melody that reminds me of something else but I just can't place it. However that is one of Linden's (and indeed McAlinden's) clear strengths - immediately accessible and understandable guitar pop with melodies and hooks. It is simple and pure, this is not an album that will take you a dozen listens to get into, you either like it and get it or it isn't for you.

I like it and I've got it!

Glasgow 2014 - Opening and closing ceremonies

London 2012 was wrapped up a week ago tonight, the closing ceremony was somewhat under-whelming in comparison to Danny Boyle’s epic opening, yet both ceremonies clearly highlighted how important music is to British culture.

It got me thinking about the songs and artists that could soundtrack the Commonwealth Games and Glasgow 2014; what songs would kick-start the bash, prove how friendly, welcoming and organised us Scots can be and then close the Commonwealth Games with a party like only Glasgow knows how to hold.

We certainly have plenty of musical talent to choose from and some of the names listed below would be more than capable of producing a specially written soundtrack for the ceremony – think Craig Armstrong, Mogwai, Bobby Gillespie, Mylo or Calvin Harris.

Putting my own musical preferences to one side and thinking of music and artists that would truly represent Scotland, my own 1 hour-playlist for Scotland would be;
  • Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham – A nice traditional start 
  • Eddie Reader – performing a Rabbie Burns poem
  • Paulo Nutini – taking on Dougie Maclean’s classic ‘Caledonia’ 
  • Fairground Attraction - Perfect - cause the Commonwealth Games will be perfectly organised ;-)
  • Lulu – Shout – raised in the East End of Glasgow, this would be quite fitting and really get things going

  • Bluebells – Young At Heart - cause we are all so young at heart
  • Calvin Harris – Some rousing electronic pop courtesy of the boy from Dumfries 
  • Primal Scream – Movin’ On Up  - not sure if the punk in Bobby G would be up for this, but worth an ask.
  • The Proclaimers – 500 Miles - has to be included
  • Red Hot Chilli Pipers – An epic rendition of ‘Flower of Scotland’ accompanied by a film featuring people of all ages singing from all around the country in stunning scenery 
  • Runrig – Closing the ceremony with a rousing Loch Lomond
 That is a pretty safe choice and there are some shoe-ins there that you have to think you could place your mortgage on. Texas, Deacon Blue, Travis, Wet Wet Wet and Simple Minds are the other big names that will likely feature on the committee's 'want' list. Lets not forget Annie Lennox...

Perhaps an alternative opening/closing ceremony could take place in George Square/Glasgow Green?

Aztec Camera – Roddy Frame with the triumphant ‘Somewhere In My Heart’…’love will see you through’
BMX Bandits – leading the crowd in a sing-a-long of E102’s ‘I’m so happy that love has come around’ chorus
Primal Scream – ‘Movin’ On Up’, ‘Come Together’ and really getting the party started with ‘Loaded’
Superstar – ‘Superstar’ – for the Superstars that will come out of the Games
Beta Band – a reformed Beta Band with the classic ‘Dry The Rain’ - as we really don't want it to rain like it has this summer!
Franz Ferdinand - 'Take Me Out' - an indie anthem
Belle and Sebastian - 'The Boy with the Arab Strap'
Teenage Fanclub - 'Ain't That Enough'

Closing the night in style would be the Optimo DJ's.

To bring the mood down we could bring on;

Arab Strap - reforming for a specially written drunken ramble about the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow akin to this joke 
Glasvegas - 'Flowers and Fitba Tops' 

 Never mind an opening ceremony, lets get a festival of the best of Scottish music on the go!

In short, Glasgow (and indeed Scotland) will not be short of options when it comes to music in 2014 and we should make the most of the opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic artists that the city and country has produced.

Monday 6 August 2012

Ace City Racers - Waiting

The opening guitar riff might give it away, if it doesn't perhaps the fact that 'Waiting' by Ace City Racers song was produced by the legendary Stephen Street should - these guys love Blur! The single is coming out on Fred Perry's Subculture label as a free download on 13th August and it looks from the video like the band have been paid in Fred Perry gear. The Smith's Johnny Marr is a friend of Stephen Street's and is a fellow fan of the band, describing 'Waiting' as "like Roxy migrated to London to hang with The Soft Boys and Blur, No bad thing in my book"! 'Waiting' is a tight guitar pop song that bursts into life and I have kind of fallen for the opening lyric;
'I am free from the instruction manual, I've learned to operate on my own'.
The band have an ear for pop, they also let loose towards the end with some experimental sounds and they pack a lot into 2 minutes and 41 seconds This is out as a free download on 13th August. So if you like the video, head back to get it on your ipod. Stephen Street isn't going to lend his name to any old tosh and Ace City Racers have done well to bag him and the backing of Fred Perry, not to mention Johnny Marr!

Friday 3 August 2012

Under the Westway - Blur

So Blur's summer single 'Under the Westway' is a gorgeous, melancholic affair.

It takes almost a minute before Albarn begins to sing following a gentle introduction. He sings from the heart, raw at times and beautifully so.

The live version on the video below just captures the song perfectly. It is Blur at their best, harmonies, lovely keyboard chords, Coxon coaxing some warm fuzzed electric guitar sounds, some gentle bells and the rythm section keeping it simple and effective. Less is more.

2012 is proving to be a year of musical reflection with many from Albarn's era looking back to years gone by, reforming or touring favourite albums.

While Blur are also reflecting on their glorious past with a lavish 21 CD/DVD boxset, Albarn and co continue to look forward, providing a teasing glimpse of what the four friends could conjur up if they could be locked in a studio for a week or two.

Albarn is an exceptional artist that should be lauded and embraced. The word genius is used far too casually these days, it can certainly apply to Albarn and the music of Blur. The poetic lyrics to 'Under the Westway' were inspired by building work taking place near Albarn's studio.
 There were blue skies in my city today Ev'rything was sinking Said snow would come on Sunday The old school was due and the traffic grew Up on the Westway Where I stood watching comets on their lonesome trails Shining up above me the jet fuel it fell Down to earth where the money always comes first And the sirens sing Bring us the day they switch off the machines Cos men in yellow jackets, putting adverts inside my dreams An automated song and the whole world gone Fallen under the spell of the Distance between us when we communicate Still picking up shortwave Somewhere they're out in space It depends how you're wired when the night's on fire Under the Westway Now it's magic arrows hitting the bull Doing 180 still standing at last call When the flags coming down And the last post sounds Just like a love song For the way I feel about you Paradise not lost, it's in you On a permanent basis I apologise But I am going to sing Hallelujah Sing it loud and sing it to you Am I lost out at sea 'Til a tide wash me up off the Westway