Friday 30 September 2016

Oasis 1994-1996

In April 1994, at the age of 18 years old (and 3-months) I saw Oasis for the first time. It was in the Tramway in Glasgow, supporting The Boo Radleys as part of Glasgow Sound City. It was the start of a love affair.

Like any love affair, there were highs, lows, wild nights, disappointments.... but from April 1994 through to Knebworth in August 1996, I went on the most incredible journey with a band that I have ever been on. It was a joyous romp with a band that just kept on giving, the only way was up - from the Tramway in Glasgow, in April 1994, to Knebworth in August 1996, it was like a dream.

Oasis were prolific, they just didn't let up, releasing 2 albums and 9 singles with b-sides that should have been on the albums. They played relentlessly, partied harder than anyone and generally lived it up. The press loved them - Liam's looks and attitude, Noel's talent, ambition and humour mixed with the rock n roll lifestyle, brotherly love and hate, meant that they were a media dream come true.

Everything culminated with two extraordinary nights at Knebworth in August 1996. Two huge nights, where Oasis blasted through their (already) formidable catalogue of songs.

A full list of singles, albums and key shows is listed at the end of this feature length blog. Lets have a look at the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 and my memories of them;


The band released an incredible 5 singles - Supersonic, Shaker Maker, Live Forever, Cigarettes and Alcohol and Whatever. The b-sides got better as the band went on - Fade Away, Listen Up, It's Good To Be Free, Half the World Away....

And there was the glorious debut album Definitely Maybe that shot for the stars and smashed straight through them on course for the sun and beyond.

I was fortunate to see them on 5 occasions in 1994 - at the Tramway in April, at the Cathouse in June, in a packed tent at T in the Park in July and then twice at the Barrowland Ballroom in December. They were electrifying, Liam was charged, looking incredible, sounding even better and Noel knew everything was building, teasing the crowd by saying things like 'do you think we're any good?'

They were backed by a super tight band, Bonehead on rhythm guitar, Guigsy on bass and Tony McCarroll on drums. There were no lookers but in Bonehead and Guigsy they had complete loyalty and belief. Bonehead was told to only play barre chords, Guigsy may as well have only had 2 strings on his bass and McCarroll was the most basic of drummers, but this helped with the ferocious intensity that the band delivered when they arrived on the scene in 1994, creating a Burnage Wall of Sound.

That Wall of Sound was helped by finding the right producer at the right time. Oasis had been doing the rounds of producers but couldn't capture their ferocious live sound on tape. Owen Morris was the man to rectify that.

At the Tramway in Glasgow I could see Liam mucking about in the background before they took to the stage for a short set that was broadcast live on Radio 1. Live Forever already sounded like an anthem, Cigarettes and Alcohol was the Pistols meets T-Rex and Supersonic was like the Pistols meets the Mondays. I was hooked and bought a t-shirt and poster from the merch stall.

Two months later I queued up at the old Cathouse in Glasgow to see them again. I could hear them soundchecking as I waited outside. Some of us sang along, not only to the lyrics, but Noel's guitar lines as well. It felt like something special was happening.

Then I witnessed one of my all-time favourite gigs; Oasis playing a tent at T in the Park. It was absolutely rammed, they played football on stage, they were totally on the cusp. They were winning hearts and fans everywhere. This was just a week prior to the release of third single Live Forever. They were unstoppable.

Things were going crazy, all over the world. Noel left the band, rejoined and the band blitzed it.Oasis played over 100 gigs in 1994. They were everywhere. They wanted to break all over and they had the songs and attitude to do it.

I remember turning on the Evening Session on Radio 1 to hear them playing Sad Song and I was just blown away at it's dreamy beauty.

Where we're living in this town
The sun is coming up and it's going down
But we're all just the same at the end of the day

I bought all the singles on 7-inch and CD. For some reason I bought Definitely Maybe at Woolworths in Lanark and I remember chatting up the girl on the counter who was impressed I was buying it. I made mix-tapes of Noel's demos that came out on NME and Melody Maker cassettes along with live shows taped off the Evening Session.

It was exciting. I had been too young for the Roses. Now I had my band. This was their time, it was my time, it was our time.

Oasis returned to Glasgow in December to play the Barrowland Ballroom. Things didn't quite go to plan as Liam stormed off stage a few songs in after losing his voice. Noel played acoustic before the band joined him at the end.

I remember walking down the stairs to the cloakroom at the end and everyone was talking about how brilliant Noel was. His acoustic version of Slide Away was mesmerising. There was no doubt that Oasis was his band.

Noel urged everyone to keep their ticket stubs and they would be back. He was true to his word and shortly after Christmas Oasis returned with Liam in fine voice and full flow to play again. My brother had got a new pair of Adidas trainers and one came off when we were bouncing down the front. It was thrown on stage and Noel picked it up and said 'It had to be Adidas didn't it?'

What a year! In 8-months the band had released 5 singles that were effectively EP's due to the quantity and quality of music on them, culminating with the non-album stunner Whatever. Definitely Maybe flew off the shelves; Liam and Noel were icons. A nation was mad for it.

Memories of that year - finding my band, making new friends, attending 5 outstanding shows, singing anthems from the bottom of my heart and generally having an amazing time.

This is a link to a previous blog on Definitely Maybe. 


Picture by Jill Furmanovsky

The Oasis juggernaut continued, picking up pace. 1995 began with a length tour of the USA before returning to the UK to play the Cliffs Pavillion in Southend, recorded for prosperity in the Live By The Sea film. A trip across the water to Paris effectively sealed drummer Tony McCarroll's departure from the band, although he stayed on to play the bands biggest show to date.

Sheffield Arena (see previous blog) was a strange choice for the first Oasis arena show. However it hit the mark, selling out and allowing them to make a huge statement in the same month (April 1995) that they gained their first (overdue) number one single with the euphoric Some Might Say.

April also saw the band play the first of two performances on the long gone and sadly missed White Room show. Music was everywhere on TV back in the mid-90's. Nowadays all we have is Later With Jools.

Noel singing Talk Tonight with his hero Paul Weller was a touching moment. The passing of the flame? Noel was certainly making good on his promise to release a single every few months like The Jam.

Check all Oasis' White Room performances on YouTube - sensational

Onwards, to Glastonbury, where Noel proceeded to make a duffel coat the must have fashion item that year. The band blitzed it, check this sensational version of Slide Away. Liam Gallagher's vocals were soulful, powerful and rock n roll. The band partied hard; Evan Dando and Robbie Williams tried to hang on, but no-one could keep up with the Gallagher brothers - on stage or off.

Summer continued with two shows in a tent at Irvine Beach in Scotland. I was in Magaluf on holiday at the time - sadly! Those that went speak of sweat dripping off the roof and the band threatening to blow the roof off.

Oasis in 1995 were an incredible live outfit, bolstered by the arrival of Alan White on drums, but battle hardened after over 100 shows in 1994 and straight into it again in 1995. Liam Gallagher's voice (see Slide Away above) at this stage was quite exceptional. Pure rock n roll, some said he was the missing link between Lennon and Lydon. Liam only turned 24 in September of 1995, he was the best rock singer in the world

Shows in Japan were reminiscent of Beatlemania and all roads led to Earls Court for two nights around the release of (What's The Story) Morning Glory? 

Prior to this though, we had the Britpop battle between Oasis and Blur surrounding the release of Roll With It and Parklike in August. It was nuts, 1995 was a great time to be a teenager. Music was everywhere. Blur won the battle but Oasis won the war. Nothing could stop them.

October 1995 was the month were Oasis truly went Supersonic. They delivered the follow up to Definitely Maybe in the shape of Morning Glory, played 2 sensational shows at Earls Court and also released Wonderwall.

Wonderwall went crazy. Yet somehow it never made it to number one! Kept off the top spot by Robson and Jerome - housewives favourites. It didn't matter, this was number one in so many peoples hearts.

I have a fond memory around this time of driving from Carluke to Lanark with my friend Dave to drop something off at one of his work mates houses. His mate didn't exactly stay in the best part of Lanark. It was rough to say the least. The sun was shining, it must have been an Indian Summer, windows and doors were open all down the street. And What's The Story Morning Glory? seemed to be coming out of all of them.

We pulled up at Dave's mates and She's Electric was blasting out of his house. It was incredible, driving through this estate and listening to Oasis coming at us from all angles.

Oasis were leaving everyone else in their dust. They had The Masterplan, Acquiesce, Round Are Way, Rockin' Chair and Talk Tonight as b-sides!

Memories of 1995 - Sheffield Arena doesn't seem like 21-years ago! Watching a band go stratospheric and strapping in for the ride with them was an incredible buzz. The songs, releases, clothes, haircuts, shows, TV appearances, radio and magazine interviews, the laughs, the craziness, nights out and in being soundtracked by Oasis....the band truly did come along at the right moment in my life.


Where could it go from there? The answer, was even higher, further and faster....for a time.

Wonderwall was still everywhere, helped by a cover version by Mike Flowers Pops. Remember that? There was brilliant pre-internet rumour that his version was in fact the original and Noel had covered it. It doesn't deserve to be posted, but here is a link just in case you fancy it.

Building on a phenomenal 1995, Oasis released the emotional epic Don't Look Back In Anger in February. This Noel sung heartstring puller won them even more fans. The melodic Wonderwall was rooted in Noel's love for The Beatles and Don't Look Back In Anger took it one step further by cheekily starting with the chords of Lennon's Imagine. The Brian Cannon and Microdot cover was also a nod to the story of The Beatles decking out Ringo's kit in flowers after he walked out on the band at one point.

Noel had reportedly given Liam the choice between singing Wonderwall or Don't Look Back In Anger and Noel's voice really suits the sky scraping chorus of the latter. He also ended up singing Wonderwall live on many occasions, sadly I have never heard a version of Don't Look Back In Anger with Liam on lead vocals.

So by early 1996 (from April 1994) Oasis had released 2 albums, 9 singles/EP's and played well over 200 shows; not to mention the countless media interviews, TV shows and acoustic sessions. The media loved them, the Gallagher brothers sold copies of the NME, Melody Maker, Select, Vox, Q, Record Collector, Loaded, FHM...... by the bucketload.

There was no let up; in early 1996 I travelled through to Edinburgh to see Oasis play Ingleston Exhibition Centre. There seemed to be a different mood about the night than previous shows I had attended. Talk of Hibs, West Ham and Aberdeen casuals meeting for a fight filtered the air. There seemed to be a sense that it was all going to kick off in the crowd. Thankfully it didn't and the Oasis rocket kept soaring.

There were shows in Germany and America but everything was now gearing towards 2 nights at Maine Road, home of the brothers beloved Manchester City.

Noel walked on stage with his arms aloft to huge applause before strapping on his Union Jack guitar and I can't have been the only person that went out and bought a Penfield jacket immediately after reading reviews and checking pictures in the NME.

Liam looked positively scruffy by comparison, wearing jogging bottoms and an umbro training top pulled over a shirt on the second night. Somehow we was still cool as f**k, especially hearing him scream 'Manchester, are you mad for it?' when it came out on DVD.

It was pure celebration, they had the best songs, they had the best songwriter, the best front man and now they wanted to be the biggest. What could they do next?

The answer was to do something that even a year previously would have seemed quite unthinkable - 2 huge shows at Balloch Country Park near Loch Lomond in Scotland and 2 monumental shows (125,000 capacity) at Knebworth in England - scene to previous historical concerts by the likes of Queen and Zeppelin.

But then an 'indie' band (Noel always dismissed this term - they were rock n roll) playing two stadium shows would have seemed unthinkable. Oasis has crossed over and now they were going to prove it.

You can read all about my Knebworth experience in this 20th anniversary blog

Knebworth remains one of the best musical experience of my time. The whole excitement surrounding getting tickets, travelling down, the size of the place, the blag to get into the front pit and witnessing an astonishing and historic performance close up.

How could they follow Knebworth?

Many could reasonably argue that they never did and maybe they should have split. Leave a perfect legacy.

Certainly they couldn't keep up the pace. Something had to give. Cracks appeared when Liam turned up for MTV Unplugged at the Royal Festival Hall drunk and incapable of singing, leaving Noel to turn in a remarkable unrehearsed performance while his brother heckled him from the box,

Liam then pulled out of the Oasis American tour with the very un rock n roll excuse that he had to find a house to live in with wife Patsy Kensit.

From 1994, and even before - really from their King Tut's show where Alan McGee saw them and signed them on the spot (read eye witness account by Boyfriend drummer HERE) things had been going crazy; it was all up, up, up; all high, high, high. The resulting crash was probably predictable and crash they did. No-one could keep up that pace forever, they needed time out.

So Liam was probably right to take time to go and find a house and to stop the bandwagon rolling. In my opinion it took until the Heathen Chemistry album in 2002 to get back to full form and back on track.

Regardless - Oasis in 1994-1996 were truly Supersonic. I'm so glad to have been there while they were getting high, to have been 18-20, to have been to the shows, to have bought the records, to have experienced something that Liam has described in the trailer to the Supersonic documentary as 'f**king Biblical man'.

It was.


Definitely Maybe
Rock n Roll Star, Shaker Maker, Live Forever, Up In The Sky, Columbia, Supersonic, Bring It On Down, Cigarettes and Alcohol, Digsy's Dinner, Slide Away, Married With Children

Sad Song (bonus track on the vinyl release)

(What's the story) Morning Glory?
Hello, Roll With It, Wonderwall, Don't Look Back In Anger, Hey Now, (untitled), Some Might Say, Cast No Shadow, She's Electric, Morning Glory, Untitled, Champagne Supernova

Bonehead's Bank Holiday (bonus track on the vinyl release)


b/w Take Me Away, I Believe (live), Columbia (White Label demo)

Shaker Maker
b/w D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, Alive (8-track demo), Bring It On Down (live)

Live Forever
b/w Up In The Sky (acoustic), Cloudburst, Supersonic (live)

Cigarettes and Alcohol
b/w I Am The Walrus (live), Listen Up, Fade Away

b/w (It's Good) To Be Free, Half The World Away, Slide Away

Some Might Say
b/w Talk Tonight, Acquiesce, Headshrinker

Roll With It
b/w It's Better People, Rockin' Chair, Live Forever (live from Glastonbury 95)

b/w Round Are Way, The Swamp Song, The Masterplan

Don't Look Back In Anger
b/w Step Out, Underneath The Sky, Cum On Feel The Noize

Key gigs

24/03 100 Club London - Oasis stamp their mark on London
07/04 Tramway, Glasgow - Going out live on Radio 1, the band also give a famous interview to the NME that is later released as the Wibbling Rivalry 7-inch single
26/06 Glastonbury - Oasis take to the mid-afternoon slot like superstars, with Liam and Noel in shades
31/07 T in the Park, Hamilton - One of my all time favourite gigs, Liam and Noel pack out the tent and play football on stage
09/08 Riverside, Newcastle - Noel is attacked on stage as Oasis 'mania' takes hold.
05/09 Hacienda, Manchester - The band return to Manchester
Sept - Japanese tour - Oasis mania really does take hold
Liam on tour in Japan 1994

29/09 The Whiskey A Go Go, Los Angelese - Liam destroys a gig after being up all night doing crystal meth. Noel promptly leaves the band.
15/10 Metro, Chicago - Many close to Oasis cite this as their favourite show or live recording of the band
07/12 Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow - Liam storms off stage after losing his voice leaving Noel to finish the show on his own and then with the band. Noel promises they will return.
27/12 Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow - The band are true to their word and if you kept your ticket stub you got back in to witness a sensational performance.

17/07 Cliffs Pavillion, Southend - recorded for the Live By The Sea video
20/04 Bataclan, Paris -
22/04 Sheffield Arena, Sheffield - Oasis first UK arena show, Noel plays Don’t Look Back In Anger
23/06 Glastonbury -
14 and 15/07 Irvine Beach - 2 shows in a tent on Irvine Beach
5 and 5/11 Earls Court, London - incredible shows with The Bootleg Beatles supporting

22 and 23/03 The Point Depot, Dublin - The Sun nearly cause a riot by trying to 'reunite' Noel and Liam with their Dad
27 and 28/03 Maine Road, Manchester - Liam takes to the stage in trackies and an umbro top!
03 and 04/08 Loch Lomond - the warm ups to Knebworth and a Scottish celebration
10 and 11/08 Knebworth - biblical!
23/08 Royal Festival Hall, London (Noel Unplugged)

Sunday 25 September 2016

Introducing Stephen Solo

Introducing - Stephen Solo

Picture by Brian Sweeney

Stephen Solo is Stephen Farrell, Stephen Farrell is Stephen Solo. Music, words and melodies simply pour out of Stephen; every day, all of the time. Personally, I think he is a genius.

Stephen used to scribble things down, record things on a dictaphone, capture things at band rehearsals, spend hundreds of pounds on studio time, be elated when things worked and frustrated when things didn't. Being prolific is great in many ways, but by the time his band had rehearsed and recorded the songs, Stephen had dozens more to play with.

In 2015 Stephen got an iPhone6+. This is not a blog about an iPhone6+, it is about Stephen Solo. However the iPhone6+ plays an important part; leading to the creation and recording of Pii (short for Phone it in) that was released on Last Night From Glasgow earlier this year.

Pii may well be my album of the year. It is eclectic, eccentric, psychedelic, gentle, dreamy, beautiful, funny..... I hear elements of The Beatles, Talking Heads, Damon Albarn, Boards of Canada, Hot Chip......and Limmy.....and most importantly....Stephen.

Crying Because is one the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. You can watch the video at the end of this blog. Soundtrack To Unfilmed is a widescreen cinematic dream. Behind Your Eyes mixes the crazy with the sublime. There is so much going on in Pii, there is so much to love and as you'll find out from the interview below - there is so much freedom.

I had a wide ranging conversation with Stephen regarding the album and you can read all about Pii in Stephen's own words below. It makes me love and appreciate this wonderful album even more.

Pii on limited edition USB with extras 

Pii on Spotify

Pii on iTunes

Pii by Stephen Solo


The phone stuff started with little experiments using iPhone and it's version of garage band. But it was too fiddly to use on a small screen, kind of a hassle. I've got over 400 phone demos on the dictaphone app and I'm always having to export them and the time it takes to go through ideas and make them real was just impossible.

I can always produce a fully formed and usually good idea by just doing's like there is no writing involved. That's happened with the band a few times too and there's that magic moment when everyone combines without thinking.

I've always known I had the capacity to produce things in a 'throwaway' fashion and that it's always a little more enjoyable than 'working' on a tune. But I started doing it more when I got the bigger iPhone6+ and just that little screen and finger space led me to doing little videos and cartoons in the same fashion - quickly, intuitively and no thinking....once more it was more enjoyable than writing a script to a song.

Picture by Gary Sloan

The first app that got me into the zone was 'amimoog' which is a version of the classic moog synth and in just playing with a sound I'm usually already composing...if i find a sound I just get into it and see what it wants to do rather than thinking about what I want. I found certain apps can be linked to garage band through a separate program called 'audiobus' ad this acts the same way as if you were to plug in any instrument in a real studio and put it through the computer. There's always a bridge program to link once I got that I had a look at what other apps could be linked together and essentially set up a virtual studio in my phone with a set up that I liked.

I got a few vocal effect apps including one that mimics the sound of specific microphones and a drum app called 'funk box' that emulates all the classic drum machines from the 80's. I find that if I get a beat I like and a synth or vocal sound set up, I'm into a song so fast that it writes itself.

Over a few nights I would wait until the wife and baby were in bed and just GO. I gave myself the rule of no writing, no stopping, no coming back to it. A tune had to be done in one session from start to finish or when I was tired or had to go to work and this instantly gave everything a special feel or sound.

Behind Your Eyes took me about 2-hours and was done sitting on the floor next to the plug point as the phone was charging. I did the vocal bent over with my head behind the couch so I wouldn't wake anyone up....I had the first verse beat and sound and set up the vocal effect and pressed record. The first words that came out of my mouth were the first take and that's what is on the album.

I then just got another sound and played some chords with a different feel and in the same way 'Behind your eyes, I'll be waiting' was the first thing to come out of my mouth. No idea where it came from but in retrospect it has a theme and means something to me now. Weird!

Behind Your Eyes - Stephen Solo

Freaks was in the same spot in the living room bent over as the phone as charging! Might even have been the next night. I was tickled pink.

Think Of The Stars was done in the office at work waiting on people arriving for a workshop. I did the chords first on the animoog and was thinking about The Beatles song Because. I then removed all the keyboards for the intro and gave it the shape...then people arrived at work and the song was stopped. I did the second half at home and just experimented not worrying about how it fitted. The end section is just me with acoustic and the closest thing lying around was a ninky none train from In The Night Garden, the kids show. It makes a cool sound when it drives around so I held it in one hand and the phone in the other and drove it around.

Tattoo Faced Man was done in the car during torrential rain after a school workshop in the East End. You can hear the rain hitting the car roof. The rain didn't stop for days and you can hear the same pelting rain at the end of When You're A Human as I did he vocal wandering around the house and standing at the open window.

Crying Because was done in one take and the entire song too me almost as long as it takes to listen to it... I went for a shower (it was first thing in the morning) and worked out backing vocals in the shower. So the whole thing was done in about an hour. This is a song about my little boy who used to cry all night. I was trying to imagine the baby monitor translating his cries.

Saturday 17 September 2016

The View are on fire

Every now and then I ask a friend to write a guest blog. I always enjoy reading about friends passion for music on social media and it often turns me on to artists I may never have checked out for myself.

This morning my friend Gordon Phipps, bass player in Vigo Thieves, sent a text to say he was at the Barrowland Ballroom for the second night running to see young veterans (10-years and 5 albums in but still in their late 20's or early 30's) The View and asked if I would like a guest blog review.

Gordon is one of the biggest music fans I know. Equally at home in the Sub Club or at Electric Frog, catching a new band at King Tuts, or one of many acts ranging from the likes of New Order and the Roses through to First Aid Kit and Sister Sledge. His passion shines through and I have shared many a great night out with him.

So lets see what Gordon has to say about The View at the legendary Barrowland.

The View at the Barrowland Ballroom, September 2016

Guest blog by Gordon Phipps

Ten years ago these boys went pretty much from the school bus to the tour bus. A decade on and it's a night to celebrate their terrific debut album Hats Off To The Buskers.

I arrived just in time to see a blistering set from The Law. The reformed Dundonians seemed to have a new zest for performing live after an extended break. The Chase and Milk and Honey were particular highlights for me and singer Stuart Purvey seemed to be having the time of his life on stage.

Next up was a tribute to The Lapelles who were set to make their Barrowland debut supporting The View tonight. Tragically their singer Gary Watson passed away a few weeks ago, leaving the band and the Glasgow music community shattered. So it was a fitting tribute that the band still got to play the hallowed stage. Introduced on by Kieran Webster, the band were joined by their friend Gianluca who filled in Gary's vocals. This must have been the toughest gig the boys have ever played, however ,like true professionals and friends they absolutely smashed it and it was a fitting tribute to their late band mate.

The View walked on stage to massive cheers from the crowd. Apparently the show sold out in 25-minutes, highlighting their popularity ten years and five albums down the line. They kicked off with Comin' Down, the opener from Hats Off To The Buskers and rattled their way through the album in order.

Kyle (still only 29) looked a picture of health, which in the past you couldn't always say. Every song was treated like an old friend and every word sang back to the stage. Highlights for me were Superstar Tradesman, The Don, Face For The Radio which nearly took the roof off and Wasted Little DJ's which practically shook the floor to pieces

After playing their debut the band went off for a well earned break. Kyle then returned to play a beautiful version of Tacky Tattoo of their Cheeky For A Reason album. Straight after this the full band returned for a sensational encore including Grace, Tragic Magic, How Long, the Rennie powered Sunday, Shock Horror and Double Yellow Lines.

It is a long time since I was down the front pogoing about in a soaking, sweaty mess, but I was there last night because watching The View live will do that to you. Whilst down there I bumped into Paul Grieve) former manager of The View and The Law and current manager of Model Aeroplanes). I doubt you will see many managers down the front at the Barras but it shows the passion and the love he has for this music, just like the rest of us.

Paul and Gordon

Friday 16 September 2016

Peter Hook and The Light at Glasgow Barrowland

Peter Hook in action, photo by Stuart Westwood

After almost 3-hours on stage legendary bassist Peter Hook removed his instrument and then peeled off a soaking t-shirt, gave it a careful and considerate wring, and then threw it into the adoring mass of fans chanting 'Hooooooky'.

Bare chested and with a few tattoos, he beat his chest and saluted the crowd. He looked like a warrior, in many ways he is one. He's taken on more than a few battles in his time and there were moments on stage at the Barrowland Ballroom last night where it was crystal clear that he was playing as if his very life depended on it.

Where does this 60-year old veteran get the energy and the stamina from? Well, towards the end of the lengthy show, the evidence presented itself. The audience responded to the sheer energy of Joy Division songs like Transmission and She's Lost Control and Hooky somehow took it up a level, using his bass like a weapon to unleash those bass lines that won hearts all over the world.

The answer is that there is no bigger fan of Joy Division and New Order than Peter Hook himself. His mission is to travel the world playing their back catalogue to fans of all ages. That catalogue brought him to Substance, New Orders incredible compilation album, originally released in 1987; compiling all of their 12-inch singles and b-sides to that point alongside new single True Faith.

Picture by Stuart Westwood

It took a few songs for things to ignite, but once the flame was lit, there was no going back. Ceremony was delivered at breakneck speed, sounding sensational. Hooky patrolled the stage and fired the bass riff down the throats of the audience.

Everything's Gone Green still sounds futuristic all these years down the line and Temptation is one of my favourite songs of all time. I abandoned my wife and friends to run into the centre of the crowd for some mad dancing and pogo-ing, lost in the music.

Blue Monday was a delight, a young couple in front of me danced like they were in the Hacienda in the Second Summer Of Love and looked like they were too. To my left there was a Dad with two teenage daughters who had been glued to their mobiles for the first few songs, now they were dancing with their Dad and like everyone else in the Barras.

Hooky is backed up by a cracking band including his son Jack on second (and sometimes duelling) bass, Andy Poole on keyboards, Paul Kehoe on drums and David Potts on guitar and vocals.

Potts guitar playing was exceptional throughout and his vocals suited some songs more than Hooky's deep voice (I'm sure Hooky would be first to admit that).

The Perfect Kiss was utterly outstanding, intro, verses, choruses, outro....and one extended instrumental allowed Hooky to catch a deserved breath while leaning against a speaker. Bizarre Love Triangle was as majestical and magical as always and True Faith proved to be the most popular New Order song of the night, generating a huge reaction with the crowd singing their hearts out with their hands in the air.

Picture by Stuart Westwood Photography

There was time for An Ode To Anthony H Wilson to be played before the band came back on to begin the Joy Division set. This was delivered with pace, menace and incredible force.

These Days was a highlight for me, while many of the older heads around me lost it to the likes of Warsaw, Leaders Of Men and Digital. My favourite song by Joy Division remains the beautiful Atmosphere, so dark, yet so uplifting, reaching for the stars for answers.

Hooky told us they had one more to play and then we could all f**k off home, launching into an epic Love Will Tear You Apart that threatened to take the roof off the Ballroom. The band brought it all back down at one point to allow the crowd to continue to sing the chorus over and over. Hooky looked emotional and had to compose himself before delivering the final verse and chorus.

This was a brilliant night, a celebration of the music of Joy Division and New Order. That is Hooky's mission and this was easily mission accomplished.

A final word on the great man himself. His passion for the music and energy and stamina to deliver such a lengthy set was fantastic to witness and hear. This isn't a show, it really is a celebration and celebrate we did.

Picture by Stuart Westwood

Sunday 11 September 2016

California Soul

Cover version of the month #16

California Soul by Marlena Shaw

I have to say that I always enjoy sitting down to write my monthly Cover Version of the Month blog. As well as sitting down to listen to music with my headphones on, I tend to discover loads of facts about, and additional versions of, the song that I choose.

This month is no different. California Soul is a song I have been in love with for decades. I have been fortunate enough to witness Marlena Shaw perform the song on two occasions, both at the Renfrew Ferry in Glasgow.

The first time was so long ago that the Ferry was on the other side (South) of the river. It had fallen into disrepair and was sloped to one side....probably slowly sinking! I have witnessed many incredible responses to songs at shows in Glasgow, but the rapturous reception to California Soul on that evening remains the best. It must have been a 10-minute ovation, the crowd just kept cheering.

So I always knew about Marlena's version. And I also knew about Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's version; one of many stunning duets that the pair sang together until Tammi's death from a brain tumour - the single was released shortly after her sad passing.

I thought that was the original as the song was written by Ashford and Simpson, the talented songwriting duo behind several Marvin and Tammi gems like Ain't No Mountain High Enough, You're All I Need To Get By and Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By.

In actual fact the song was originally released as a b-side!!!! Yes a b-side! By a Motown group called The Messengers; a b-side to a song called Window Shopping in 1967. I thought I had better check this song out if it relegated California Soul to the b-side! It's OK in a harmless early Beach Boys kind of way, but no California Soul!

The original is really the template used by The 5th Dimension who issued it has a single in 1968, then Marvin and Tammi in 1969 and by Marlena Shaw late that year on her Spice Of Life album. They just ramp it up a bit, the original is just a little too slow and lacks the urgency that the others bring to it.

The 5th Dimension bring in a Mama's and Papa's and Sly and the Family Stone kind of feel to it, I think it's only when Marvin and Tammi come in that the true potential is realised.

With Marvin and Tammi uplifting strings and a classic Motown beat kick in from the off, Marvin and Tammi's voices deliciously combine and entwine and then they each take their turn to take the song on. Interestingly their version was also a b-side; to The Onion Song.

As much as I love the Marvin and Tammi version (and virtually everything they recorded together) it is in the hands of Marlena Shaw that the song finds its definitive owner. The urgency is ramped up with the strings and the groove, Marlena's voice is effortless - soaring, injecting a bit of urgency when required. Listen in at 1 minute 16 when the strings take off for a ride and Marlena says in the background 'ooh it feels good'.

At other times she laughs into the mic, clearly enjoying the song, the feel and the soul. The closing 30-seconds are sensational as strings, brash, groove, beats and Marlena all come together to take the song to a glorious conclusion.

So this months cover version of the month is California Soul - it's a beauty and I have learned something about it. Hope you have too!

Previous covers of the month

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Teenage Fanclub at Islington Academy

Considering their lack of game/stage time over the last few years, it hasn't taken long for Teenage Fanclub to get ring ready again. Last night, in the beautiful setting of the intimate Islington Assembly Halls, they delivered a blistering set of old faves mixed in with some choice cuts from their new album Here, out on Friday and reviewed HERE.

Start Again got things flowing, Don't Look Back was dropped in early to a great reception, the band were gelling, smiling and having were the audience.

The setlist was fantastic; Norman, Gerry and Raymond taking it in turns to sing one of their songs like they were almost trying to top trump each other. About You was as glorious as ever, so simple, so pure. I Don't Want Control Of You brought a tear to my eyes as I thought of my daughters back home.

Every day I look at a different face
This feelings getting stronger with every embrace

The new songs held up well, slotting in with ease. Raymond's Hold On and Norman's Darkest Part Of The Night sounded fantastic.

Ain't That Enough generated a huge reception, arms were aloft and the chorus was being bellowed back at the band. It was fantastic to see the band away from home and to witness the response they were receiving from adoring fans. There were people with their kids, it was great to see.

Thin Air and I'm In Love sounded sublime and Raymond's Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From just gets better with each and every passing year. Some of the songs are like warm blankets, comforting and soothing.

Sparky's Dream had an urgency to it while The Concept was glorious. Dave McGowan was behind keys/hammond most of the night but when he came down to join Norman, Gerry and Raymond he helped to create a wonderful 3 pronged guitar sound.

Watching and listening to Norman and Gerry singing together, Raymond stretching and bending notes, listening to the extended harmonious outro, I felt a sense of pride in my favourite band, the boys from Bellshill coming down and smashing London, Everything I love and have loved about Teenage Fanclub was on display and the new songs only deepen the love. 25-years and counting.

ENCORE- I Need Direction, a fast flowing Can't Feel My Soul with Dave taking centre stage as Norman went to play keys and then of course, the incredible Everything Flows.

If you're going to Edinburgh or Manchester this week then you are in for a treat. If you don't have a ticket for the winter tour yet, then get one.

Special thanks to Terje, Ruthy, Denver and team - fellow Teenage Fanclub Fanclub members, for their company and stories. See you at the Barrowland Ballroom and the ABC!

Sunday 4 September 2016

Here by Teenage Fanclub

It's here, well almost, Here, the new album by Teenage Fanclub is out on Friday 9th September and it is gorgeous; as positive, reflective, life affirming and heart warming as you would hope. What's more, it's bursting with energy, harmonies and guitars. Here is all the things you may already love about Teenage Fanclub and more.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and I am delighted the band are back. In many ways, as a devoted fan of the band, it also feels like they are back and on a mission. A single, video, promo, lengthy tours....

Getting back to work , even after all these years, does feel a lot like coming home. 
Thinking about it now, we really should get together a bit more often.
Norman Blake

Here was recorded in 3 locations; initially at Vega in rural Provence, then Raymond's home in Glasgow before mixing at Cloud Hills in the industrial heart of Hamburg. Messrs Blake, Love and McGinley each have 4-songs across the album.

Lead single I'm In Love opens the album. I originally blogged about it HERE and over the last month or so I have grown even fonder about the song. In well under 3-minutes the Fannies reminded us all why we love them so much. Norman is fine form, reflecting and realising what is important with melodies flowing over urgent guitars. The promo film is stunning.

There is pain in this world
I can see it in your eyes
It's so hard, to stay alive
At the edge of the knife

But it feels good, when you're close to me
That's enough, that's enough
We will fade into history
I'm in love, with you love

Gerry Love's Thin Air bursts into life and gives you a warm shot to the heart. A smile spread across my face within seconds. Gerry Love is like a fine wine, getting better with each album. The chorus is pure Love; heartfelt romance, guitars and the sound of a trumpet somewhere in the background.

The subsequent McGinley guitar solo is a joy. Is Here his best album for guitar playing? The subsequent breakdown showcases how all the band can play. It is a joy to listen to.

Let the future open up its mystery
Feel the change in my heart and soul

Raymond's guitar playing is outstanding throughout Here. His playful lyrical ability is at its best on Hold On with all kinds of simple philosophy and advice.

Think of the ones you love
And what they want and what they need
Run away from the misery
Of those who flatter to mislead

Hold on to your life, to your dreams
Don't get lost in the schemes
Just hold on to your dreams
Hold on to your head, to your heart
Never stop, you can start
Just hold on to your heart

The Darkest Part Of The Night is a Blake beauty that you'll find yourself singing on first listen thanks to a flowing melody and chorus. There is a blistering McGinley guitar solo before we return to the chorus - twice for good measure. Norman's voice is beautifully soulful and true and he has the listener hanging on every word.

I long to see the sparkle in your eyes

You've been living in a bad dream baby I know
Lost to the light
You've been living in the darkest part of the night

I think in your twenties and thirties, you fear middle age; you fear becoming older. Maybe you can fight it and try to stay as an internal teenager. 
I like to think we play to our strengths, to our understanding of life. Folk music, blues, it's not necessarily made by young people. A lot of music I find myself drawn to is made by people over 40 years old. It might not be on the cover of the NME but it can still deliver a truth.
Gerry Love

Did Gerry Love warm your heart with Thin Air? Expect that warm feeling to be extended with the gorgeous I Have Nothing More To Say; a song that is perfectly formed. The riffs, the effects, the hushed vocals, another great McGinley solo over a gorgeous flowing groove. Love's work with Lightships extends to Teenage Fanclub - stunning.

I need dawn I need assurance
I have nothing more to say
In the morning I'll be brighter
If I leave my ways beside her

I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive is a dreamy McGinley piece that takes off 3-minutes in with McGinley repeatedly asking What are you gonna do, what are you gonna do about about it? as the beat comes in along with psychedelic backing vocals. Really look forward to hearing this live.

We all write individually, there's no formal discussion about what we're writing. 
I always like to think anything's possible when we make a new record but because of who we are and how we work, there's always going to be a strong continuity.
Raymond McGinley

The First Sight is more Gerry Love genius. It has a kind of French/Euro feel to it, the beat and the flow of the music, exploding into the chorus. McGinley delivers a searing and soaring solo before the band get into what sounds like a gloriously complex groove. Horns make their appearance again, lifting things even higher - will they have a horn section on the live dates? That would be amazing!

Today I'll rise to the clearest light of the sun
To simpler ways I'll return
I'll return

Will I ever get to see, will I ever get to see first sight of a heart that's true

At 5 minutes and 9 seconds long there is time for another McGinley solo at the end, just when you think the song might be coming to a conclusion he takes it to a glorious extended climax.

Norman's Live In The Moment has a real zip and zest to it, with the chorus containing a beautiful fast flowing vocal melody. It is fantastic to hear the band in truly outstanding form.

Live in the moment
You know that nothing this good could last forever
Embrace the here and now
For now we're here and now together
Feel good not knowing
About tomorrow and what's following may bring
We only think about today

Possibly the album seems like it's all about life. Gerry's not quite 50; both myself and Raymond are now. You do start to focus on mortality a bit more as you get older.
Norman Blake

Steady State is a slow paced dreamy Raymond song that begins with a riff that sounds really familiar and then beautiful lyrics.

Wake my love, we've dreamt enough
So wake my love the steady state of life is calling

It's A Sign is the sound of upbeat summer pop. There are doo wops and ba ba na's and the sound like they are having real fun with the backing vocals. It's a Gerry number and has many of his hallmarks stamped all over it.

Raymond McGinley's With You is quite simply beautiful. The first verse is reflection and pondering before a chorus full of the recognition of true love and need. The breakdown after the short second verse into a glorious instrumental complete with organ is sensational.

The world is wrong, the world is right
And you are right when you are wrong
Life is short, life is long
With you I'll see it

I find that as you get older, everything expands. When you start out, the nucleus of the band is so tightly bound, you're living in each other's pockets. Later on, you move away from each other and then everything around you - distance and time - just expands. Life gets in the way.
Gerry Love

Connected To Life brings the album to a reflective conclusion. You could initially mistake this for a Raymond song. It is actually Norman and in many ways the lyrics reflect the entire album - love and life.

Once in a while I can see you
Looking so young in your eyes
My darling I just want to see you
Connected to life

Raymond goes for for sounds rather than riffs during the instrumental section here, enhancing the dreamy and moody feel to the song. The closing section takes it even further.

I will not deceive you
I only want to please you
I hope I'll never see you disappear 
Into shadows into night
Disappear into shadows, into night

So there you have it; Teenage Fanclub in 2016. A truly brilliant album. I'll be blogging about the bands London show next week.

Friday 2 September 2016

Same Language Different Worlds

Tim Burgess is an energetic and creative soul; always on the move, always moving on, embracing the times, the sounds and opportunities; 12 albums with The Charlatans, numerous EP's and singles, working with The Chemical Brothers, Ladyhawke and others, 2 solo albums, Tim Peaks coffee and diner that tours festivals, O'Genesis Record label, 2 acclaimed books, a compilation album and now a 3rd album with a little help from Peter Gordon....Tim's fantastic use of social media keeps you up to date in the modern day and age, but looking back, he's always been creative, industrious and productive.

Tim talks of liking to be pushed outside of his comfort zone in his latest book Tim Book Two - Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco. The opportunity to record with Peter Gordon presented itself to Tim and it great to hear of Tim rising to the challenge. This subsequently led to the album Same Language, Different Worlds released today on Tim's O'Genesis Records.

Peter Gordon is equally prolific and open to working with others; ranging from jazz and opera through to influencing James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem.

Same Language, Different Worlds is an album recorded by two men in their late 40's and mid-60's. There is a worldly feel to the lyrics and the music is beautifully balanced between traditional and futuristic. The vast majority was created online with each artist sending each other ideas and building and bouncing off each others. It's how things happen in 2016 - you meet, but then spend large amounts of time communicating online.... demonstrated perfectly with this album.

There is something hugely refreshing about the whole album as it sounds so spontaneous and free flowing. Kind of amazing as Tim and Peter apparently only got together in a studio on one occasion. The album was largely created by Burgess sending acoustic demos to Gordon who returned them in a completely different form. The two met at a warehouse back in 2012, with Tim being a fan of Gordon's work with Arthur Russell and the Love Of Light Orchestra amongst others.

The album begins....with Begin. Probably the most structured song on the album. It is bright, breezy, beautiful and it makes me smile every time I listen to it. The guitar riff is like a mini Nile Rodgers and Tim sings....

There's a record I bought
That I've already got
It means so much to me
Cause I played it a lot
It reminds me so much
Of the place that we met

Say is kind of hypnotic. Dreamy is a word I am likely to use a number of times in this blog!

Love Is All Around Me is incredible! 6 minutes and 10 seconds of electronica, jazz and Tim pouring his heart out. It's modern day blues and soul for 2016. Synths bubble and pulse.

Talking through the night
Lonely through the day
Darkness turns away
I think of you

Miss you every day
Miss you still
Always have
Always will

The instrumental following the above lyrics is glorious; freeform electronica jazz stretching out over funky percussion. Beautiful stuff.

Being Underguarded is trippy psychedelia. Burgess is in fine poetic form throughout this album. Let loose to go with the flow.....and be unguarded.

Ocean Terminus is ushered in with powerful warm chords and Tim singing the title. The music is dreamy and the album title comes from lyrics used in this song.

At 12 minutes and 17 seconds long I have to admit to being immediately drawn to Temperature High to see what Tim and Peter have come up with. I wasn't disappointed. Gordon creates a high tempo (but not in your face) groove over shuffling percussion while Tim sounds like he is dreamily ad libbing (not sure if he did or not). He finds a hook around 3-minutes in with we're under the same sky. Gordon is then allowed and inspired to take the song on for a lengthy journey.

The psychedelic, futuristic, dreamy free flowing nature of the album continues with Like I Already Do a. The song is a duet with Tim's partner Nik Void. The dreamy vibe goes space age around 6-minutes and 30 seconds in and it surely can only be a better of time before Tim and Nik produce more music together.

I can tell by the look on your face
It's like you already knew
Like you already do 

What if you took the gift of love
And just continued to love
Like you already do

Tim and Peter in the studio - amazingly it only happened once!

Space jazz opens Tracks Of My Past in an uplifting manner allowing Tim to reminisce about his past. Just after 3 minutes 30 seconds piano and saxophone meet to create something quite glorious. The way the song breaks down to the outro is superb.

I grew up in nature
I liked the summer
We swam in the pool

So what could close an album as eclectic and free flowing as Same Language, Different Worlds? The answer is the blissful Oh Men. The intro has a kind of happy and warm glow to it, enhanced when Gordon's saxophone comes in

Oh men
Work with what they're given
Even in the darker days
Before men were men

We go on and an on
And I want to know
We'll go on and on
And I want to grow