Wednesday 31 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland night 3

One of my favourite Teenage Fanclub songs (definitely top 5) is an old b-side called Broken, released as a b-side to Ain't That Enough back in 1997. It never used to be in my top 5 until the band played it many years ago when they did a b-sides and rarities night at Oran Mor in Glasgow. I fell for it big time and since then it is a song I have returned to many, many times.

It was the penultimate song of their 3-nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and it was truly, truly beautiful. I have experienced some incredible moments in the Barras and this was up there. Starting with Norman on acoustic, the band gradually joined him, playing the same fragile riff over and over before Norman started singing your heart has been broken again, it's broken, it's broken.

The song is deceptively simple on paper. There are no more lyrics, they are just repeated like the riff. But the combination of the playing, melody, lyrics, feel and performance of the song is magical. Even more so tonight. Norman and the band gradually fade out and as they faded you could hear the whole of the Barrowland Ballroom singing just as gently, as hushed and as considerate as Norman;

My heart has been broken again
It's broken, it's broken

It was a spine tingling Barrowland moment, kind of difficult to describe, just trust me on this one! My favourite band, playing one of my favourite songs in my favourite venue. Quite a few people seemed to get some dust in their eyes, possibly even some of the band.

And so I'm back home beginning to wonder what I will do tomorrow night. I've seen Teenage Fanclub 4-nights out of 6!

Tonight was the turn of Howdy! and some b-sides and rarities. The second set will cause me to go up in my loft tomorrow to dig out all my old CD singles. I had forgotten about some including a Gerry Love song called Getting Real which is outstanding! I thought it was a cover tonight! In fact it is so good, check it out! It was even better live.

Highlights from Howdy! were Gerry's impeccable Near You, Raymond was outstanding tonight with The Sun Shines From You being my favourite of his, while I'll plump for Norman's If I Never See You Again as my own highlight from his songs from this album.

Norman was beaming all night, a smile was never far from his face. Brendan appeared regularly to assist the band and as always generated smiles and laughter. Paul Quinn was fantastic on drums whilst Francis contributes so much, his backing vocals/harmonies were superb tonight, and of course the ever reliable and supremely talented musician Dave McGowan played all manner of instruments.

The second set of the night was probably my favourite though. The band seemed relaxed and in great spirits as they opened with Norman's sublime Did I Say. Raymond's My Life was another I didn't remember, while Long Hair is one of my favourite Fanclub songs - power punk pop. It sounded sensational with Dave joining Norman and Raymond on electric guitars.

Norman's Some People Try To F**k With You was outstanding and Gerry and Norman singing together on He'd Be A Diamond always caused a nice shiver down my spine.

The aforementioned Broken was magical and a romp through The Flying Burrito Brothers Older Guys closed the night and what may be Gerry Love's final Glasgow show with Teenage Fanclub.

Despite the odd shout from the crowd for a speech, I don't think anyone was really expecting the band or Gerry to make a big deal of it. They've said their piece. Lets just enjoy the amazing music, the memories and also look to the future.

My take - I doubt very much that was the last time I will see Gerry with the band in Glasgow again. I certainly hope not! But the band are off on tour and hopefully Gerry might release some new music.

Now, could I get a ticket for a Manchester or London show....

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland Ballroom night 2

Pic by Tony Docherty 

There is no doubt, in what I must do
Nothing is greater, than to be with you

Phew, I'm just in from the Barrowland Ballroom following a peerless performance by Teenage Fanclub who flew though their Grand Prix and Songs from Northern Britain albums.

Paul Quinn replaced Brendan O'Hare on drums (as per the recordings) and it was a classic 4-piece line-up that took to the stage and burst through Raymond's About You to a huge cheer.

O'Hare was never far from the action, walking on to the stage draped in a red cloak at the start of Gerry's much loved Sparky's Dream, appearing with a little percussion instrument to kick off the song. At other times he checked up on the band with a clipboard, or stood beside Dave to play percussion. His humour and energy is infectious and at one point he joked that everyone should look at him cause that's what its all about :-)

Grand Prix has such a superb run of songs, we had Norman's beautiful Mellow Doubt, followed by the stunning Gerry Love penned Don't Look Back. We were being spoilt.

Neil Jung was simply stunning. There was soul, power and real feeling to Norman's guitar and voice. He then excelled in delivering a gorgeous version of Tears which tugged on the heart strings.

The way Norman and Gerry's songwriting developed on Grand Prix was exceptional. Love's energetic Discolite was sublime and Going Places caused hearts to melt, it was exquisite.

It wasn't only Brendan that supplied the humour as Norman regularly had to battle to tune his guitar (just like the old days) or check which fret he should place his capo on.

McGinley's songwriting was also developing, Verisimilitude received a fantastic response from the crowd, while with Say No was one of his own highlights from the night.

Hardcore Ballad was superb. The band riffing and ripping it up to leave Norman alone with his acoustic to sing from the bottom of his heart. It was a stunning end to the set, really beautiful and heartfelt.

And love is easy to define
What mine is yours, and yours is mine
Through the pain, through the pain

Last summer I blogged about Songs from Northern Britain HERE and stated that I had come to the conclusion that it was the best Teenage Fanclub album. I stand by that. My favourite album will probably always be Bandwagonesque cause I discovered that LP and the band when I was 15, a really special time. But song for song and the way all 3 songwriters have developed, SFNB is peerless.

The performance at the Barrowland was exceptional. The way Blake and Love combined their vocals was utterly joyful, the way Raymond shredded his guitar on Can't Feel My Soul was exhilarating, the sky scraping choruses of Ain't That Enough, I Don't Want Control Of You, Take The Long Way Round and Speed of Light made me feel like a teenager, completely lost in the music and the wonder of the sound that 4 friends can create with guitars, bass, drums and a little imagination, and the escapism sought in Planets, Winter and Mount Everest sounded ever more appealing. And then you have the gorgeous Your Love Is The Place I Come From with the usual cheers for Norman on xylophone.

I described the first night at the Barrowland as majestic, well tonight was peerless. Special mention to Dave McGowan and Francis MacDonald (Brendan gets his above) - two incredibly talented musicians who were phenomenal in helping the band sound superb.

Monday 29 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland Ballroom night 1

Teenage Fanclub were magnificent tonight, they were majestic, funny, soulful and true to themselves. They laughed at each other, themselves and together. They had fun and it visibly showed.

The first night of the Creation Records years run of shows at the world famous Barrowland Ballroom was a triumph. The famous Barrowland roar that rose from the floor as the band walked on stage was repeated before they could even begin. The partisan crowd were here to greet band and classic albums Bandwagonesque and Thirteen like long lost friends ... and they did.

She wears denim where ever she goes
Says she's gonna get some records by the Status Quo
Oh yeah
Oh yeah

Norman Blake's words from 1991 were bellowed back at him by the crowd, guitars chimed and Joe McAlinden joined in on violin. The sound was perfect, especially standing in front of Raymond McGinley as he bended notes and shredded his guitar. The band extended The Concept before using feedback to usher in the ferocious riff of Satan. We were off.

December was utterly beautiful as Brendan O'Hare on drums pointed out. The humour Brendan displayed between (and during) songs was often hilarious.

What You Do To Me was guitar pop perfection, the guitars on I Don't Know were glorious and Star Sign was utter joy. O'Hare was magnificent on drums, the rolls during the spaces were sublime, he was on fire. And very nearly passed out, dousing his head with water several times!

It will be really interesting to see the band progress through their catalogue over the 3-nights. The purity of songs like What You Do To Me, the humour in The Concept and Metal Baby are songs that could only have been written by men in their early 20's.

Likewise the simplicity of songs like Pet Rock and Sidewinder make them perfect pop - Love and O'Hare sing of smiles sending them wild, or loving the way their girl walks or talks, when she is ticking he is her tock. It is sublime and a treat to hear and see these songs performed live.

The band changed instruments and personnel throughout the night; Francis MacDonald, Dave McGowan, Joe McAlinden and briefly Paul Quinn were all on stage at one point or another, creating brilliant sounds.

The closing trio of songs were stunning. Alcoholiday probably got the best reception of the night, a Norman Blake masterpiece. Then there was a huge ovation for Gerry just before Guiding Star and he looked emotional and received just as big an ovation afterwards.

Then we had the incredible sound of 4 of TFC on electric guitar for the closing Is This Music? It was and it was tremendous.

After a short break where every guy in the Barrowland seemed to go to the loo, the band were back to play Thirteen. Norman joked by playing the start of The Concept again but then we were into the intro of Hang On with Gerry Love coming up with one of my favourite lines

Of all the stars I've ever seen
You're the sun

Thirteen is the sound of a band developing. You have Norman Blake falling head over heels in love with the girl he would later marry and the chorus of Norman 3 yeah I'm in love with you sounded sublime when the venue sung along with Norman. Commercial Alternative is also the sound of someone falling head first.

Radio was a romp and caused some to pogo. O'Hare was magical on drums on this bubblegum punk pop perfection. 120 Mins was a contender for the most beautiful song of the night with McGowan playing mandolin. They hey hey hey's during Fear of Flying were great fun on stage and off and it was a treat to hear McGinley's stunning Tears Are Cool, truly one of his best, it just flows superbly.

The short Ret Live Dead led into the jam Get Funky and I wish it had gone on longer, again the band looked like they were having real fun with three electric guitars gelling and it caused me to think what bands have fun jams on their albums these days? TFC have always played by their own rules.

Gerry Love's beautiful Gene Clark closed a very memorable night and it was fantastic to see so many friends I have met through a mutual love and appreciation of the band.

Roll on night 2!

Saturday 27 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub at the CCA

It is difficult to portray the feelings I felt last night when I heard and witnessed Teenage Fanclub play songs like Gene Clark, Sidewinder, Alcoholiday, Fear of Flying, Guiding Star, Tears, Going Places and Neil Jung live.

Many of the songs from the two sets the band performed hadn't been played live in circa 25-years, some had never been played at all. So to hear and witness them live in the intimate setting of the reopened CCA was pretty special.

The fact that the Fannies opened with the almost sacred Gene Clarke was incredible. This is a song that fans have been passionately shouting for at almost every Fanclub gig I have ever attended. People were still queueing to get in when they started. The opening instrumental sounded glorious and then Gerry Love took control and set the controls for the heart of the sun. What a start!

The guitars sounded gorgeous and the band sounded slick and oiled, but with that raw Fanclub soul, swiftly rolling into Metal Baby and Escher before Brendan O'Hare on drums took on lead vocals for a sublime Sidewinder, a bit of a highlight for me.

When you're walking I love your walk
When you're talking I love your talk

My favourite band flew from one into another of my favourite songs. The guitars collided to sound heavenly for Alcoholiday. And if the Creation shows have given me reason to revisit albums from my youth then Gerry Love's Fear of Flying has become a real favourite. It sounded even better live. Raymond's 120-minutes was blissfully simple and beautiful for it, listing things he doesn't know before the kiss off I just wanna see your face again, be my friend.

Guiding Star may well have been my song of the night, it tugged on heart strings I didn't know I had, I may well cry at the Barrowland Ballroom when it is played on Monday night. Commercial Alternative is the joyful sound of a young man in love sounding even better 25-years down the line and the closing instrumental of Is This Music? with Gerry, Raymond, Dave and Francis on electric guitars was utterly stunning.

Pic by Craig Harrower

One of the best things about last night was that there were two real Fanclub fans on stage in the shape of Dave and Brendan. Dave's smile was a wide as the Clyde all night as he got to play these rarely heard songs to an audience that lapped them up. Brendan was the same, full of excited nervous energy (in a good way) and displaying quick wit and good humour throughout.

There was a short break and just enough time to pop to the downstairs bar for a beer, arriving back to find the band blitzing into Speed of Light. Paul Quinn was on drums for the second set, one which for me, highlighted the development of the band. To see the band up close playing songs from Bandwagonesque and Thirteen, followed by a set from Grand Prix, Songs from Northern Britain and Howdy! really showcased their development as songwriters and artists.

Norman and Gerry's voices gelled with ease, their harmonies sounded sublime, Cul De Sac was a particular highlight. Raymond's guitar flourishes were subtle at times, at others they soared. Tears was beautiful, Take The Long Way Round was a blitz of glorious guitar pop, Dumb Dumb Dumb was spine tingling and it was a delight to hear I Don't Care live.

Going Places was just perfect and Neil Jung was another glorious collision of guitars and Norman Blake singing his heart out.

What a fantastic night, the band were in top form and it was lovely to speak with Brendan before the show and hear how excited he was about everything. And it is always a pleasure to meet and converse with fellow Fanclub fans. Roll on the Barrowlands.

Friday 26 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub in Livingston

Guest blog by Mark Hannah

Teenage Fanclub at the Howden Park Centre, Thursday 25th of October 2018

The anticipation surrounding Teenage Fanclub’s upcoming Creation Years tour has been pretty massive. Taking over venues for three nights in a row playing all the Creation albums cover to cover with some b-sides and rarities thrown in for good measure is a brilliant prospect. With over 70 songs being rehearsed with two former drummers though, seemingly quite a task. However, judging from the warm up show in Livingston on Thursday night, the band are in wonderful shape and seeing them all together at once is joyous, a feeling which will only swell come the first of three nights at the Glasgow Barrowlands on Sunday.

The Howden Park Centre was a perfect venue for this. Intimate 300 seated theatre in West Lothian. Thankfully, I was one of the very first people to phone the box office the morning they went on sale, just a week before, and bagged a ticket at the very middle of the front row. Nobody was really sure what to expect in terms of a set list, and seeing the evening was split into two with a short interval in between, it only added to the speculation. 

Seeing George Borowski pre-show tuning things up and adjusting things never fails to make me smile. They soon emerge and clatter their way into Thirteen’s “Hang On” and songs from side A of that record were plentiful. Poor Brendan on drums was jokingly ready to expire after an explosive, quick fire “Radio” with Dave and Frances present on stage adding keys and lap-steels to really enhance the on stage sound. 

The elephant in the room is of course Gerry’s departure from the band following these UK Creation dates, and his vocal harmonising with Norman is so glorious and uplifting that it brings his now limited time with the band back into sharp focus. Nevertheless, he takes centre stage with a green telecaster, “Painted by us ourselves” Norman kids, and eases his way into Bandwagonesque’s “December.” Act one is a healthy mixture of Bandwagonesque and Thirteen and I was really happy to see “I Don’t Know” thrown in there, too. Norman was interjecting about his favourite TV shows again, reminiscent of the Shepherd’s Bush gig last year. 

Brendan’s drumming is fast, sharp and showboating, here we see a man who was clearly a stand-up comic in another life with his on stage patter, regularly leaving Norman and Gerry laughing during songs. They conclude with a rousing “The Concept”, with a select few along from me in the front row trying to encourage the crowd to stand, which admittedly I would have loved, but with great power comes great responsibility, and having already gained a notorious reputation on the Fanclub circuit for an Edinburgh stage invasion two years back, I didn’t want to be “that young dick down the front”, so stayed firmly in my seat.

After a quick interval of toilet trips and restocking the cans of Guinness, back down the front for Act Two. This presented a bit of a broader mix of Grand Prix, Songs From Northern Britain and Howdy! 

Paul Quinn takes the place of Brendan on drums and the sound in this small theatre is genuinely fantastic, and the way the band all gel with so many on stage at once is brilliant to watch, even from a non-musicians perspective like mine. Particular highlights are “I Need Direction” which sounded unbelievable, and “Accidental Life.” This all proving to be a tantalising taste of what’s to come on the upcoming tour so I shall not divulge and dissect anything too greatly. 

Norman is the jack of all trades with some mighty fine whistling during “Mellow Doubt” and the evening closes with a triumphant “Don’t Look Back” asserting how brilliant a singer Gerry really is. All in all, this is exactly everything you want from a wee, intimate warm up show; plenty of banter, an adoring little crowd and a nice healthy spread of album tracks. All roads lead to the Barrowlands in just over 48 hours time as I type this sentence, hence why I’ll keep this one short and sweet, where all these brilliant records will get the cover to cover live plays that they so thoroughly deserve. It’ll be a brilliant and quite emotional few days for sure, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from my favourite band in the whole world.

See you in McChuills on Monday beforehand, Fanclub.
Mark Hannah.

Friday 19 October 2018

Carla J Easton - Impossible Stuff

If you are a regular or semi-regular reader of my blog then you'll already know of my sisters creative talents through the songs she has written and recorded with her bands Futuristic Retro Champions and TeenCanteen and her first solo album Homemade Lemonade that she released under the guise of Ette.

Carla is now stepping out as an official solo artist after a particularly productive couple of years that included the aforementioned Homemade Lemonade album, the Say It All With A Kiss LP and the Sirens EP with TeenCanteen, as well as videos, festivals and sessions

There have been collaborations with Belle and Sebastian - a co-write and lead vocal on Best Friend and with Kirsty Law on The Iron Railing, a writing retreat at the Banff Arts Centre in Canada and then a return trip to record the album with Howard Bilerman, who produced Arcade Fire's seminal Funeral LP, on production duties. Oh and she is making a documentary on Scottish girl groups, curated a night at the Edinburgh Arts Festival and I'm pretty sure I've missed something. Oh yeah, she has 6-songs recorded that might be on her next album plus a couple left over from Canada.

In short it has been fantastic to see my wee sister so creative and productive and receiving excellent support from all over the world. Her 2 visits to Canada in 2017 were, in her own words, 'life changing'. On a writing retreat at the Banff Arts Centre, she bloomed and was promptly invited back to record an album.

And so on to the album Impossible Stuff  . I originally started writing a blog on it last October when I first heard it, then deleted it, rewrote some, scrapped it, started it, left it ...... and finally decided just to go with what I have! So here is a short review, some of the videos released over the last year and links to other reviews and interviews. There has been a fantastic response to the album. I'm super proud of my wee sis. And there is a lot more to come from her!

Check the video for Dreamers On The Run (above), the opening track, with Carla representing Scotland at the Eurovision) opens the album. It's under 2-minutes long but there is a lot packed in. The song floats and flows, Fats Kaplin on violin is stunning and there is a strong Celtic melody and tone.

The title track is exceptionally melodic and playful with Carla utilising the talents of friends she made in Canada at the Banff Arts Centre. There are strings, crashing drums, a beautiful piano solo and then a build up to a glorious racket that starts at 2 minutes 12 seconds and brings in a choir and what sounds like every instrument Carla's friends could get their hands on. It sounds amazing! Check the video recorded with talented friends within 3-days of returning from Canada.

Impossible things just to hear your heart sing
Oh I'd do anything for you
Impossible stuff just to feel your love
Oh I'd do anything for you

Lights In The Dark was the first single to be released from the album back at the start of the year. Carla tells a story and her lyrics paint a picture, the 80's drum beat sounds cool and it's one of my favourite vocals from the album.

You can just take my heart
You can just pull me apart
I'm searching for the lights in the dark

Meet Me In Paris has a nice psychedelic tinge to it courtesy of some sitar action, the melody, feel and urgency in the song makes an immediate impact. Melodies pour out of my wee sister, almost literally on Never Had the Words, the vocal melody just tumbles out and doesn't stop, its a real favourite.

Next is second single Wanting What I Can't Have. I remember Carla sending me the demo that she recorded at our Mum's house and her being really proud of it, describing it as a little Primal Scream-esque. It's an epic, particularly good live.

The album spins from Carole King inspired numbers, to 80's drum machines and synths, to Spector-esque walls of sound, to stomping pop and Milk and Honey (video below) merges the last two.

Things slow down for Girl from Before, a late 50's/early 60's inspired ballad with soaring strings and at one point it seems like the vocal melodies are just going to keep building, before slowing back down. There is some stunning guitar playing towards the end.

Then Vagabond, the oldest song on the album and originally a b-side to the TeenCanteen 7-inch You're Still Mine, is rerecorded and it is just gorgeous. Here is a live version Carla recored with TeenCanteen.

The album ends with the Harrison produced by Spector Lullaby. All Things Must Pass is a favourite album of Carla's and I know she listened to it a lot en route to Canada. This is a spine tingler, the guitar solo is stunning.

Impossible Stuff delivers more on every listen, the quality shines through. Melodies are everywhere, the playing and production is exquisite, there is real heart on sleeve soul, playfulness and the sound of someone in the zone with a studio, producer, engineer and musicians who believe in her and can create the sounds from here head.

Impossible Stuff has been getting a lot of attention and people are saying some lovely things! In addition to airplay and sessions, here are some links to review and interviews, including a cracking track-by-track interview Carla did with The Skinny. You can buy the vinyl from Olive Grove Records and it should be in Monorail, Assai and Love Music.

The Skinny track by track

The List

Record of the Day - Milk and Honey 

Sunday Post 

Sounds Like Blog

The Fountain

Louder Than War

The Music Brewery

Friday 12 October 2018

The Original Memphis Recordings by Primal Scream

In a world and time where many recordings are produced, compressed and mixed to within an inch of their life, lets step back in time, to 1993, when Primal Scream decamped to Memphis to record the follow up to their seminal Screamadelica LP.

The band hired legendary producer Tom Dowd who had previously worked with all kinds of legends including Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Booker T and the M.G.'s. If the hiring of Dowd didn't give an idea of the sounds the Scream were striving for, they also hired in David Hood (bass) and Roger Hawkins (drums), the Muscle Shoals rhythm section who had played on so many classic soul cuts.

For whatever reason (mainly Sony didn't hear a hit), the Memphis recordings were shelved and the album was beefed up. Rocks got a new drum beat and added sheen, Jailbird was also polished up a little and the album came out in 1994 as Give Out But Don't Give Up.

It's only now, 25-years later, that the original 9 recordings with Tom Dowd, plus a string of extras, are being released, being discovered in a cupboard in Andrew Innes' house.

And oh what a treat it is to hear a band cutting loose, jamming, having fun, blasting out some good ole rock n roll and writing some outstanding ballads - building on the exceptional Damaged from Screamdelica. This is country tinged soul, Gillespie pours his heart out, the band are in sensational form, free from the electronics of Screamadelica, free to play, to express themselves and play they do.

Jailbird pulses and thrills, its looser than the version released as a single an on the album back in 1994, but its all there. Stabbing horns, euphoric backing vocals and Gillespie sounding like he is having the time of his life. Living the dream.

It's interesting to hear Rocks without the pounding drums that usher in the 1994 single version. This is the sound of Primal Scream as a super cool rock n roll bar band, guitars driving the song, horns lifting it higher and Gillespie urging us to get our rocks off. It's super cool raw rock n roll and Martin Duffy has a cracking piano solo in it.

The Faces-esque rock n soul of Call on Me continues the upbeat start to the album. Gillespie and Denise Johnson combine brilliantly. Tom Dowd's production captures a band on fire.

Primal Scream's ballads are often overlooked in their career, but there are so many gems. Going back to I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have (transformed into Loaded) through to Sometimes I Feel So Lonley.

Everybody Needs Somebody is a stunner, Gillespie urges we got together babe over a gospel backing vocals, Throb (Robert Young) coaxes soulful riffs on lead guitars and you can just imagine Gillespie looking on in awe as his band jam on behind him.

A little bit of soul 
Is worth more than gold

The 'feel' that is captured on the Memphis recordings is stunning. The soul and passion leaps out. Sad and Blue with the bluesy slow harmonica and star reaching vocals of Denise Johnson utterly beautiful. From memory I recall an interview from the time where Bobby Gillespie says something like 'no-one can play as slow as us, it's beautiful'. Listen to this and you get what he means.

Shine a light on me sister, let your love light shine

This version of Big Jet Plane is gorgeous. The band feel their way in and Gillespie's stoned soul has never sounded better with the added sugar of a gospel choir coming in to lift the chorus. The horns are delicious. Mournful and soulful.

Gillespie hands lead vocals to Denise Johnson for the incredible Free. And oh how she soars. There is an almost jazzy feel to this recording, the sax, the piano, the slow groove. It's almost 7-minutes long and it's so easy to get lost in it.

Don't want you to touch me, don't you touch me, don't you touch me
Everything is broken, I believe in you no more

Jesus (which would become I'll Be There For You) is another stunning ballad, Gillespie singing over an organ before heavenly gospel backing vocals and the band lift the song to another level - towards the stars. The instrumental from 3 minutes 40 seconds is sublime. The Primals don't rush things, again they let the soul ooze out over 6.5 minutes and every second is vital.

Primal Scream really hit the mark with Cry Myself Blind, an uplifting soulful ballad that find Gillespie so broken hearted that he could do just that. The band play beautifully, Denise Johnson sings like an angel, Gillespie turns in another brilliant performance - possibly his most emotional vocal?, and if Robert Young's guitar could talk then it would be multiplying Gillespie's broken heart ten fold.

Have you ever had a broken heart?
Have you ever lost your mind?
Have you ever woke up screaming'
Cause you're so lonely you could die?

There is a heap of incredible bonus tracks. Sadly not available on vinyl, the instrumental Country Guitar is a standout, bluesy country tinged soul. Early jams on the likes of Sad and Blue, Big Jet Plane and Bobby singing lead on Free are excellent. Funky Jam (to be revisited on Give Out But Don't Give Up) does exactly what it say on the tin and there are some rough covers.

The Original Memphis Recordings capture a moment in time, it is a brilliant addition to the Primal Scream catalogue. Gillespie (vocals), Innes and Young (guitars), Duffy (piano) and Johnson (vocals) are in stunning form, raising their game to match the playing of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section an the reputation of Tom Dowd in the producers chair.

In Gillespie's words (now) it was a perfect album, 3 rockers, 6 ballads, but the album was rejected by Sony as they didn't hear a hit. So the album was pretty much rerecorded and by the time it came out it had cost around £1 million to make. Patchy sessions had already taken place at the Roundhouse in London before the band flew to Memphis.

25-years later, it's out and it is beautiful. The 9-track album is available on vinyl, all of the bonus tracks are on a deluxe CD and are also available on streaming and download sites. It would be hard for Primal Scream to revisit this album live without Robert (Throb) Young as his exceptional guitar playing is all over the album, but it is something I hope they are considering.

Monday 8 October 2018


Cover version of the month #39 - Erasure cover ABBA

My kids recently discovered ABBA via the Mama Mia film, so our house has been full of pop perfection for the last month or so. Thankfully it isn't always the film that is on. There is only so much of Pierce Brosnan singing that I can cope with!

So it got me thinking about the monumental ABBA-esque EP by Erasure that came out in 1992 when I was 16. Erasure seemed to be everywhere with this - Top of the Pops, the Chart Show, in the papers, in magazines and all over the radio.

Andy Bell and Vince Clarke camping it up in drag in the Take A Chance On Me promo video is something that I'm sure most people from my generation will remember!

Erasure were huge in the late 80's and into the 90's, their 1992 compilation POP: The First 20 Hits emphasised their ear for pop with Sometimes, A Little Respect and Stop being favourites of mine. Vince Clarke is a pop genius, early Depeche Mode is really the only era of the legendary band that I enjoy and then his work with Alison Moyet as Yazoo produced some incredible synth pop soul gems, Only You must be one of the best debut singles released in the 80's.

After Yazoo, Clarke placed an advert in Melody Maker to recruit a singer and he discovered Bell. The duo have never looked back and hit upon formula of euphoric synth led pop that broke down barriers and led to critical acclaim and huge commercial success.

Covering ABBA was probably very natural to two people so infatuated with pop music. And Erasure set out to have fun whilst doing it.

Clarke provides the beats and synths and whilst its not quite karaoke, Bell is clearly enjoying himself and not taking it too seriously. As was the way in 1992, in Take A Chance On Me they duo introduce a female to sing a brief ragga rap.

Erasure covered Lay All Your Love On Me, S.O.S. , Take A Chance On Me and Voulez Vous on the EP. Remaining pretty true to the originals (especially in terms of vocal melodies) and bringing ABBA's pop perfection to a new generation. After a couple of number 2 singles, this EP gave them their first number 1.

And what can you say about the ABBA originals?! They are pristine and sublime slices of pop perfection. Lyrically, melodically, in delivery, structure and production. Timeless! They deserve an essay, but for now just take some time to revisit some masterpieces of pop.

Previous covers of the month