Saturday, 24 August 2019

Never Ending Mixtape part 39

Summer is pretty much over, it feels like Autumn is in the air and it kind of has been for a while. But what a summer of music in Glasgow; Bandstand shows with Burt Bacharach, The Human League and Teenage Fanclub and the return of Camera Obscura with a wonderful show at St Luke's.

So it is no surprise that Bachrach and Camera Obscura each have 4 songs added to the playlist. You'll also find some real soulful disco gems, punk pop perfection from Dinosuar Jr, the incredible 8 Ball by Underworld, pure pop by Moloko, psychedelic groove by Death In Vegas, outrageous soul by Spanky Wilson, the sheer brilliance of Layla - what about that outro?! and loads more including a couple of tunes by new L.A. band The Regrettes who bring their teen punk pop to Glasgow in November.

A full list of additions can be found below. There are now well over 1,000 songs on Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape, you'll need to scroll down to the bottom to find the latest tunes. Dig in and enjoy.

Walk On By - Burt Bacharach
This Guy's In Love With You - Burt Bacharach
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head - Burt Bacharach
What The World Needs Now Is Love - Burt Bacharach
Can't Fake The Feeling - Geraldine Hunt
Feel The Need In Me - The Detroit Emeralds
I Specialize In Love (12-inch) - Sharon Brown
This Guy's In Love With You - Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
Losing Your Mind - The Lemonheads
Slip and Do It - Betty Wright
Down Here On The Ground - Lou Rawls
Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Diana Ross
Freak Scene - Dinosaur Jr
8 Ball - Underworld
Sing It Back - Moloko
Dirge - Death In Vegas
Layla - Derek and the Dominoes
You - Spanky Wilson
Norman 3 - Teenage Fanclub
Since You've Been Gone - The Allergies
I Got You Babe - Etta James
Ce soir je m'en vais - Slove
Feelings Gone - Callum Easter
Tender - Blur
Sweet Thing - Van Morrison
California Friends - The Regrettes
I Dare You - The Regrettes
Collar of Fur - Fionn Regan
Promised Land - Joe Smooth
The Sweetest Thing - Camera Obscura
My Maudlin Career - Camera Obscura
If Looks Could Kill - Camera Obscura
Razzle Dazzle Rose - Camera Obscura

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Here Comes The Sun

Cover version of the month #47

Nina Simone and Richie Havens covers The Beatles

Incredible picture by Elliott Landy of Richie Havens at Woodstock

George Harrison's Here Comes The Sun is just perfect. Sublime, heartfelt, simple, melodic and pure pop.

One day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton's house. The relief of not having to go and see all those dopey accountants was wonderful and I walked round the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote Here Comes The Sun.

George Harrison, from I Me Mine

The riff is infectious, everything about the song is warm and welcoming. The ice is melting, smiles are returning to faces and everything is alright. Starr's drums are brilliant, really capturing an upbeat feel that fits in with everything else going on.

It is simple, pure and pop. Perfect and Harrison arguably steals Abbey Road with its inclusion alongside the stunning Something.

It is such a gorgeous song that you'll not be surprised to hear that it has been covered by multiple artists but I'll focus on two of them.

Nina Simone's version begins like a nursery rhyme. there is a tender gentleness applied to the melody and vocal. It picks up, adds power, effortless power, you get the impression she could do so much more, but her respect and command in her version is just stunning to hear.

Richie Havens, like everything he does, makes it super cool. Even cooler by the fact that he performed it at Woodstock. Can you imagine being at Woodstock in the sunshine and hearing this? Havens plays with it, driving the rhythm guitar and his rich, soulful voice just sounds like heaven.

Both Simone appreciate the perfection of the original but add their own little magic to the song. I love them both, but in this case, the original is my favourite.

Previous covers of the month

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Teenage Fanclub at Leith Theatre

Teenage Fanclub lit up the beautiful Leith Theatre last night with a stunning set. The band seemed super relaxed, even though Steven Black was standing in on bass for Dave who was expecting the imminent arrival of a baby. It was time to Start Again ... again.

Teenage Fanclub have barely let up with live shows since the 2016 release of Here. I make last night the 13th time I have caught them live in 3-years; Islington Academy in London, the ABC and Barrowland double header, a BBC Quay Sessions show, a couple of CCA warm up shows, a trip to Hebden Bridge, the Barrowland triple header for the Creation Years, the Bandstand show and then last night in the superb Leith Theatre, a really stunning venue. It is the busiest I can remember the band being and I look forward to seeing what they do next.

The sound and mix was absolutely spot on last night, the outro on Everything Is Falling Apart was sublime, the guitars on Metal Baby made me play a little air guitar (!), Euros improvising on keys and Steve Black playing with total confidence on bass, gelling brilliantly with Francis on drums.

Put My Faith In You is classic TFC, surely it will be the next single. Guitars chimed and Norman, Euros and Francis harmonised beautifully. Catholic Education fizzed, the guitars on Alcoholiday sounded heavenly and the band blitzed gloriously through I'm In Love.

Raymond was in fine form, Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From felt like a warm blanket being wrapped around the crowd and Verisimilitude received a great response and the closing section of My Uptight Life was absolutely beautiful with the crowd gently singing with Raymond;

all my life,
 I felt so uptight, 
now I'm all alright

Norman Blake has a smile that can light up any room and as he launched into The Concept by telling the crowd that he'd be on the last train to Bellshill with a carryout everyone in the venue was smiling with him. The closing instrumental with 3-part harmonies gets me every time.

Broken is so tender, melancholic and beautiful, it is always such a pleasure to hear this gem played live and as Blake and the band slowed down and faded out the crowd continued to sing. Not quite as beautifully as the Barrowland crowd last year (obviously) but enough to bring tears to the eyes of many.

There was a romp through a cover of Neil Young's Don't Cry, No Tears before a cracking rendition of traditional set closer Everything Flows with the guitars sounding superb.

It is always interesting to visit a new venue and I hope to return to Leith Theatre again in the future.

You get older every year
But you don't change
Or I don't notice you changing

Monday, 12 August 2019

The SAY Award longlist to shortlist

The Scottish Album Of The Year Award has been such a welcome addition to the Scottish music scene, celebrating, valuing and highlighting the incredible talent and love our nation has for music.

Over 300 eligible nominations were received for the 2019 SAY Award and 100 judges each had 5 votes to produce the longlist of 20 albums listed below. Read on for full info about the cut to the shortlist.

Prior to the longlist being announced I tweeted 5 albums that I would have voted for if I was a judge. 4 of them have made the longlist! Sadly L Space's Kipple Arcadia didn't.

So I'm personally rooting for the following;

Carla J Easton - Impossible Stuff;  This is a huge step forwards from my sister’s work with TeenCanteen and Ette (as much as I love both those albums), a real coming of age as a songwriter and performer. Packed with hooks, melodies, honest, clever and playful lyrics. This is the album Carla has always wanted to make. Don't just take my word -The Skinny review

Andrew Wasylyk - The Paralian; I had Andrew's last album down as a potential winner in 2018 and it didn't even make the longlist! His show at the Mackintosh Church in Glasgow last summer supporting The Pastels was sublime. A real talent with an incredible ear for music. Don't just take my word - The Skinny review

Free Love - Luxury Hits; progressing all the time on their own path, playing life affirming live shows, it was through the SAY Award that I first discovered Free Love when they were known as Happy Meals. Brilliant experimental pop. Don't just take my word - The Skinny review

Edwyn Collins - Badbea; full of energy, ideas and soul. I love Edwyn Collins, he is a national treasure, an incredible songwriter and performer. I look forward to his show at the QMU later this month. Don't just take my word on it - The Guardian review

Unlike the more celebrated Mercury Music Prize, there is no listing fee or cost to participate and the general public can 'Have their SAY' and cast a vote to influence which albums will proceed to the shortlist.

The SAY Award public vote is open from midnight on Monday 12th August until midnight on 14th August. The longlisted album with the most votes will automatically gain a place on the shortlist, as well as a guaranteed minimum prize of £1,000, It also means that this album will be in with a chance to be hailed as Scottish Album Of The Year 2019 with the winning artist receiving a £20,000 prize.

To vote - head to from Monday 12th August. Anyone who votes is automatically entered into a ballot to win a pair of tickets to the exclusive invite-only SAY Award ceremony, which this year takes place at the Assembly Rooms in the heart of Edinburgh on Friday 6th September.

The winner of the public vote will join nine other shortlisted titles chosen by the SAY Award judging panel who will be selecting from;

The SAY Award Longlist for 2019 is:

1. Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Here Lies The Body
2. Aidan O’Rourke – 365: Vol. 1
3. Andrew Wasylyk – The Paralian
4. Auntie Flo – Radio Highlife
5. Brìghde Chaimbeul – The Reeling
6. C Duncan – Health
7. Carla J. Easton – Impossible Stuff
8. CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead
9. Edwyn Collins – Badbea
10. Fatherson – Sum Of All Your Parts
11. Fergus McCreadie Trio – Turas
12. Free Love – Luxury Hits
13. Graham Costello’s Strata– Obelisk
14. Karine Polwart with Steven Polwart and Inge Thomson– Laws of Motion
15. Kathryn Joseph – From When I Wake The Want Is
16. Kinnaris Quintet – Free One
17. Mastersystem – Dance Music
18. Niteworks – Air Fàir an Là
19. Sean Shibe – softLOUD
20. The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All The Time 
The 72-hour public vote opens on 12 August, closing on 14 August before the Shortlist is announced on 15 August as part of a special BBC Radio Scotlandshow from 21:00.

Developed by the Scottish Music Industry Association, 2019’s campaign is delivered in partnership with Creative Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, YouTube Music, Harviestoun Brewery, Ticketmaster New Music, PPL, Sweetdram, The Queen’s Hall and charity partner Help Musicians Scotland.
Previous winners of The SAY Award include Young Fathers Cocoa Sugar’ (2018), Sacred Paws ‘Strike A Match’ (2017), Anna Meredith Varmints’ (2016), Kathryn Joseph ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’ (2015), Young Fathers ‘Tape Two’ (2014), RM Hubbert Thirteen Lost & Found’ (2013) and the inaugural winner Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat Everything’s Getting Older’ (2012).

Follow The SAY Award’s 2019 journey on Twitter @SAYawardInstagram@sayaward and Facebook @SAYaward

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Live Forever

On 8th August 1994, 25-years ago today, Oasis released the majestic Live Forever. This remains one of my favourite Oasis songs, it flows, it soars, it brings a tear to my eyes, it makes me wanna hug my loved ones and punch the sky.

The NME was impressed; "Basically, what thus far looked like obnoxious Manc arrogance suddenly looks like sheer effortlessness."

Oasis took flight with Live Forever. There was no talk of BMW's, yellow sumbarine's, Mr. Ben or Mr. Soft like there had been on the first two singles. The song flowed naturally rather than being built around riffs, Noel's romanticism comes out, his daydreams that had previously been more prominent on b-sides were now front and centre, Live Forever was the sound of a guy wanting to fly now believing that he could. The sound of someone finding a soulmate.

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

Noel was quick to point out that it wasn't effortless, talking of how he sat for days working out the guitar solo. However the rest of the song does sound like it just poured out of him.

Noel on the set of the promo shoot

Live Forever dovetails frustration and reality with dreams and shooting for the stars, Gallagher just wants to fly, but balances that with being soaked to the bone in the morning rain. He recognises that he might not achieve everything he wants, but with typical northern attitude now is not the time to cry, it's the time to find out why.

And oh how his brother Liam sings it for him. It's one of his best vocal performances, like the song was written for him. All of a sudden Oasis were being viewed in a different light. Early reviews talked of Happy Mondays and The Pistols, with Live Forever it was The Beatles that were being mentioned, the song was (and is) that good.

Since the release of Shaker Maker I'd caught the band play in a tent at T in the Park and it blew my mind. I was witnessing something incredibly special. The band were totally on it, someone threw a ball onstage and the Gallagher brothers played keepie uppie and volleyed the ball into the crowd, asking for it back and doing the same.

Things were about to go stratospheric ... supersonic. I was in for the rollercoaster ride, as an 18-year old in 1994 Oasis were the perfect band for me, I believed I could live forever.

Read on for the lyrics, original video, 1993 demo and Glastonbury, Top of the Pops and Royal Albert Hall performances. The latter was broadcast live on the Evening Session and I love the change to maybe you're the same as me, you take two sugars in your tea :-)

The original promo

The demo recorded in 1993

MTV 1994

Glastonbury 1994

Top of the Pops

Creation Undrugged, Royal Albert Hall, 1994

Maybe I don't really wanna know
How your garden grows 
Cause I just wanna fly
Lately, did you ever feel the pain
In the morning rain
As it soaks you to the bone

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

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Camera Obscura at Saint Luke’s

Camera Obscura were heart achingly, heart breakingly beautiful in Glasgow last night. Traceyanne Campbell’s voice was yearnful, soulful and full of melancholic wonder and it was a real treat to see the band performing again.

I can only imagine how difficult the last 4-years have been for Camera Obscura following the tragic death of Carey Lander in 2015 following a battle against osteosarcoma. The love for the band was clearly evident last night, Traceyanne commented how she could feel it. People had travelled from across the globe, Sweden, America and Japan to be there on the second night of the bands comeback. Many had also been there the night before.

All of the proceeds from the night plus a bucket collection went to the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow and I hope everyone donated the suggested £10 to help a wonderful cause. Traceyanne's speech at one point in the night highlighted how much the hospice meant to the band, family and friends of Carey.

The evening began early with my sister Carla J Easton supporting with a stripped back set as a 3-piece and songs from her album Impossible Stuff were well received along with new song Coming Up Daisies, the sound was superb and although I am biased, my sister's voice was amazing. It was great to see the room almost full and to hear such a positive response to her songs.

Last night was all about Camera Obscura though and they played beautifully. At times it seemed so simple, the beat, the groove and Campbell’s melodies. Heart strings were tugged.

Motown beats with warm guitars, keys/strings, chiming guitars and trumpet with Campbell’s clever, funny and beautiful voice and lyrics sounded heavenly in the truly stunning Saint Luke’s, just round from the famous Barrowland Ballroom.

From the upbeat French Navy that was sung with care by the crowd to the spine tinglingly stunning Razzle Dazzle Rose finale. This was a 90-minute set sprinkled with songs from throughout the bands career that delighted, moved and inspired the crowd.

Next up for Camera Obscura is a trip on Belle and Sebastian's Boaty Weekender. I hope more shows are announced on their return.

Monday, 5 August 2019

The Human League at Kelvingrove Bandstand

The Kelvingrove Bandstand in the leafy West End of Glasgow is a truly stunning setting a gig. I have witnessed some incredible shows since it reopened in 2014 and on Saturday night The Human League may have played the most euphoric to date.

A few hours prior to showtime Glasgow witnessed an exceptional rainstorm that thankfully cleared the skies and the Bandstand was dry, even slightly sunny and absolutely rammed by half eight. The DJ, Glasgow’s Tam Coyle, played some synth classics to get the crowd in the mood. By the time The Human League walked on to a sparse stage with only white keyboards and mic stands the venue was ready to party. 

And party the Bandstand did. Phil Oakey was on fire as a frontman, bounding from one side of the stage to the other and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley looked and sounded fantastic. 

How can I sum up such a euphoric show?!

Well I'll try by saying that the highest compliment I can pay The Human League is that their electronic pop music sounds timeless. Some of it even sounds futuristic, maybe even from another planet. 

Yet many of the songs from the setlist were from the early to mid-80's. Such was the bands (dare I say it) pioneering use of synthesisers, many songs sounded like they wouldn't be out of place if they were released tomorrow via DFA Records on a white label.

The beats, riffs, grooves, melodies and hooks were sublime. This was, pardon the pun, daring pop music of the highest quality.

A drummer, two keyboard/synth players and a behind the curtains programmer backed the trio of singers superbly and everyone was on it from the start.

Bandstand crowds can sometimes take a while to warm up and venture to the standing area in front of the stage, but a well-oiled Saturday night crowd were there from the off and the whole place was standing, dancing and singing.

Mirror Man was an early highlight for me, swiftly followed by Heart Like A Wheel, a song I hadn't heard before yet I quickly fell for it. Pure pop.

Some songs had a darker edge to them, All I Ever Wanted, for example.  Oakey was magnificent, bounding to the edge of the stage centre, left and right to acknowledge his adoring fans. Or, in the case of penultimate song Being Boiled, he stood menacingly by the drums, regardless of what he did his presence and personality could not be ignored. 

The pop hits were sensational' Love Action, Tell Me When, Fascination and of course Don't You Want Me that started with all of the singers off stage for one of a few costume changes. They could have stayed off as the crowd sang this glorious pop hit through to the second verse before the singers came on and started everything again. It was utterly euphoric, an incredible moment to see the Bandstand going crazy.

The night ended with more pop perfection, the sublime Together In Electric Dreams. And together we were as we punched the air and sang the chorus back at the band. Oakey, Catherall and Sulley all acknowledged the Glasgow crowd - we would be nothing without you were Oakey's words as he departed the stage.

What a show! Energy, electronica, excitement and euphoria! This was only the second time I had seen The Human League live after catching them many years ago at the Wickerman Festival. I won't leave it as long next time!

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Introducing Emi James

Over the last 18-month or so I have really enjoyed listening to, and following the progress of the band L-space. I admire their creativity, work-rate and having met them a couple of times - I like them as people too! Always a bonus!

Gordon Johnstone is the guitarist and co-leader of the band along with singer Lily Higham. The duo are adventurous with their sound, art and ambition and seem to constantly be creating.

So much so that Gordon has his own side project under the guise of Emi James and he has just released the Social Capital EP.

The EP contains 4 beautiful pieces of music Gordon has composed that are playful, inventive, lush and dreamy. Check it out below - turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.

I thought I would catch up with him and he lets slip about another cool project he has on the go with Lily. Expect to hear more about that in the future!

Thanks to Gordon for his time, he is a fantastic talent to check out and I look forward to hearing much more from him in the future.

Music seems to be pouring out of L Space. How did your Emi James stuff evolve? What else is on the go?
We like to be prolific! Emi James started because I started writing some neoclassical music, sort of like the end of Float Through Wires on Kipple Arcadia, that didn't really suit the direction the band was going in. I was quite chuffed with it and didn't want it to go to waste, so I thought I'd put it out myself.

The Social Capital EP came out in July and I'm planning another release quite soon; a symphony tentatively called Unmitigated Disaster Strikes Suburbia.

Lily and I are also starting a new electropop project called Post Coal Prom Queen. We have quite a bit of music written and we're planning a trip to film some music videos soon. Basically, we write a ton of music and LNFG (who L-Space are signed to) can't release it all, and the other members of L-Space don't always want to release as much as we do, so we're finding new outlets.

We have some mad ideas for PCPQ - I'm really excited for it to be out there! L-space are working on our next album, due in April 2020, and we're collaborating with a Japanese label for some really cool plans as well, which will hopefully come to fruition soon.

'Lily is absolutely gifted with melodies, 
I've learned so much from her'
Gordon Johnstone

Where do you get the time?!
In terms of time, I don't dwell over music. I think music and songs should capture a particular moment and feeling. I'm not one of those people who'll agonise over a handful of songs for years on end. Usually I'll write something in an evening, revisit it the next day, then declare it finished. That helps to keep things moving. The Emi James songs were all written in one sitting.

What inspires you to write?
For the most part, it's sounds. When I find a new sound I like I'll usually start writing straight away with that in mind. Sometimes it doesn't make the final cut, sometimes it's the central focus of the song; I'm never sure how it's going to end up until I realise there's nothing I want to change.

I've also started writing with specific concepts in mind: going for particular feelings or places. That's much harder! I also love knowing that I'm leaving a small artifact on the Earth that will outlive me; that inspires a lot of what I do.

Do you ever get writers block?
Constantly. I can sit at my piano for days on end it's like I have never seen the damn thing before, like it has been dropped there from another dimension and I have no idea how to work it, and then one day it just clicks like a TV suddenly going from static to broadcast.

During the static periods I tend to be quite prolific. Writers block is a horrible feeling - there's always that notion that I've written my last song and I've run out of ideas. Maybe it's the stress and anxiety from that panic that spurs my brain into behaving itself again.

What music are you enjoying at present?
I'm really loving a lot of Japanese electronic music like, Wednesday Campanella and Macaroom. The intonation of the vocals, besides not being in English, is fascinating and makes the music sound so different to Western bands.

I'm also really put off by shite lyrics, so not understanding what's going on is a bonus! I'm also enjoying rediscovering M83 - Before The Dawn Heals Us is a phenomenal album. Philip Glass's Glassworks has been on a lot too, as have Aurora - who is incredible and 65daysofstatic. I also listen to a lot of hip hop:MF DOOM and Run The Jewels are constant fixtures in my house. E1-P's production has always been a huge inspiration to me. The recent Super Inuit EP is also glorious.

What are your future plans under the guise of Emi James?
That's tough to know. I have a symphony planned out that I'll probably release in a few months. Beyond that, I really have no idea. It'll probably be  sporadic as things ramp up with L-space and PCPQ, but having an outlet for my neoclassical tendencies is wonderful. You can expect some sonic aspects of Emi James creeping into both other bands as well. I also have a very loose plan to try and perform some of the tracks live, but that will involve a lot of people.

And lastly, what are your future plans with L-space?
We are nearing the completion of our next album - coming out in April 2020 on vinyl via Last Night From Glasgow. It's a far more immediate in-your-face album than Kipple Arcadia, but it's still undeniably us. I'm incredibly proud of it.

We're also working with a Japanese label on a joint release with one of their artists which we're hugely excited about. We'll be playing shows all over the place as much as we can, especially outwith the central belt and planning the launch shows for April. It's all coming together, slowly but surely. And not even that slowly.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Teenage Fanclub at Kelvingrove Bandstand July 2019

pic @thesarahniblock (Insta)

It did, at least to me, feel like the start of a new chapter for Teenage Fanclub last night. It was the bands first hometown show since Gerry Love left the band following the run of Creation Records show at the end of 2018.

After a length world tour the Fanclub were more than road ready to blast out tunes ranging from their debut single to their most recent with the new line-up. And we had a new tune as well, Put My Faith In You sounds like classic Fannies.

Fans of the band found themselves checking every weather forecast going as heavy rain and thunder storms were predicted. There was some torrential rain falling from the Glasgow skies as the doors of the venue opened and I really felt for support act Nile Marr (son of Johnny) and hope he comes back to Glasgow soon. Sadly he didn't play to the crowd he could have as many, including myself, bunkered down in bars near to the Bandstand hoping the rain would pass.

It was fantastic to meet fellow TFC fans in The Doublet in nearby Park Road. The old Fanclub Forum is barely used these days as social media has taken over, but the Fanclub Fanclub Facebook Page is alive and well. The Doublet was packed with fans who had travelled from near and far for the show, including someone from Japan. It takes a special band to generate such devotion.

Fanclub Fanclub pre-show meet up in The Doublet

The rain eased and stopped just before 8pm, so it was time to finish drinks and head through beautiful Kelvingrove Park to the Bandstand. 

There were some hardy souls in ponchos soaked to the skin who highlighted how brilliant Nile Marr was, although he battled against the elements at times. The pre-show DJ, Glasgow's Tam Coyle, blasted out the sunshine pop of The Byrds and the sun even offered a glimpse through the clouds and the trees and in typical no fuss manner Norman was first to walk on stage.

The band played brilliantly, playing with smiles, super tight - but lovingly loose with it. God Knows It's True was a very pleasant surprise second song in and it caused one die hard to get up and pogo and dance down the front and tempting as it was to join him, I bided my time. It sounded glorious as the guitars fizzed and the band played with huge smiles on their faces.

It was interesting to see how the band split up the setlist. Raymond and Norman had more time than we are used to and the band delighted long term fans with the inclusion of the aforementioned GKIT and blast through Catholic Education.

Raymond's Only With You is a favourite of mine and it was rather beautiful last night, coming after the warm guitars of About You which received its usual brilliant response from the crowd.

Alcoholiday brought the masses to the front where they remained for the rest of the show. What a song! We then had a new song by Norman called Put My Faith In You which was full of chiming guitars and Blake's heavenly voice.

Pic by Simon Mason

Raymond McGinley's Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From is like a fine wine, maturing beautifully with every passing year. It sounds even more perfect when enjoyed in the company of 2,000+ fellow fans.

Did I Say is a Norman Blake masterpiece, it flows so beautifully and it was played with added zip and zest last night. The band were in full flow now, Verisimilitude was sublime, I Don't Want Control Of You reached skywards, I'm In Love was a joyful romp, pure guitar pop perfection, McGinley's guitar was stunning.

The band were in great form; McGinley making it look easy as he coaxed all kinds of gorgeous sounds, Blake sounding like an angel, Dave having the time of his life on bass, Francis driving it forwards and Euros providing harmonies at times and looking at home.

Pic by Simon Mason

Raymond provided the most poignant moment of the night with a tender My Uptight Life, the band dropped towards the end as McGinley sung the refrain again and again with fans joining in, it was stunning.

Pic by Simon Mason

The Concept was the sign for even more people to pile down the front to celebrate the band, the song, friendships and the glorious chiming guitars.

The band weren't off for long and played a four song encore; McGinley's I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive veered off into the glorious outro mantra and the band sounded superb, What You Do To Me is 2-minutes of life affirming pop, there was a surprise inclusion of Don't Cry No Tears and Everything Flows to close the show caused people to hug, punch the air and sing the chorus as loudly as possible.

Teenage Fanclub are alive and very, very well. On the evidence of last night they have the bit between their teeth, are enjoying playing live and there are new songs on the horizon.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Burt Bacharach at Kelvingrove Bandstand

Towards the end of Burt Bacharach’s set last night the lights dimmed on his band to leave Burt playing piano alone, singing Alfie, his voice, aged, cracked, soulful ... beautiful. You could have heard a pin drop, it was very moving.

The 91- year old genius had captivated a sold out Bandstand from the off by walking on stage and shaking the hands of the 3 photographers at the front. He stood in front of his piano and charmed every single person in the audience with wisecracks about getting his good side, stories about his songwriting, hits, shoulda been hits, artists he worked with and on a number of occasions he discussed politics. It was clear that Burt was hurting from the fact Trump is president of his country.

In between intro’s and stories, Bacharach had a wonderful band to play with and conduct for over 2-hours. There were medleys, that if honest perhaps skipped through some of his biggest songs a little too quickly. There were spine tingling moments a plenty. Burt’s 3 vocalists sang beautifully together or when they each took turns on lead.

Highlights for me were a beautiful opening What The World Needs Now, then This Guy’s In Love With You, Walk On By, Baby It’s You, My Little Red Book - Burt was impressed by how many people cheered for Love, The Look Of Love, the aforementioned Solo section, Making Love and the closing Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. It was all magical.

And oh how Glasgow shined as once again the audience wowed a superstar and his band. Towards the end people were standing, dancing and singing at the front and it was so beautiful to see and hear that the band brought their phones out to capture some of the magic in the air.

Bacharach and his band received a mighty ovation. A show that will live

long in the memory.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Never Ending Mixtape Part 38

Welcome to the latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify which now has well over 1,000 songs.

28 new songs are added and we have an eclectic mix of sixties beat, pure pop, euphoric electro, demos, pure indie and Scottish DIY pop.

I discovered the Odetta and Jennifer Castle songs via my sisters LP Radio Show and both are real ges. We have old school Beatles, a delicious 12-inch slice of Heaven 17, Whitney Houston sandwiched between Spiritualized and the Chemical Brothers who have a massive 6 songs added following their sensational Glastonbury show.

Elsewhere we have The Monkees, demos from Gomez and The Lemonheads, classic Fanclub, pure guitar pop from The Bevis Frond, early singles from Gerry Cinnamon who is on fire at present, a gem from Miaoux Miaoux, a recent discovery from Velocette and two tracks from Stephen Solo off what is almost certain to be my album of the year.

Dig in to the playlist from the start, at the end for these songs, anywhere in between or simply hit shuffle. I hope you find something you enjoy whether that is something you haven't heard for a while or a brand new discovery.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape or see below. Scroll down for the latest additions.

Hit Or Miss - Odetta
Texas - Jennifer Castle
Things We Said Today - The Beatles
You Can't Do That - The Beatles
Let's Do It Again - The Staple Singers
Wings of Love - liv
Temptation (12-inch) - Heaven 17
Here It Comes - Spiritualized
How Will I Know - Whitney Houston
No Geography - Chemical Brothers
Swoon - Chemical Brothers
Star Guitar - Chemical Brothers
The Golden Path - The Chemical Brothers
Out of Control - The Chemical Brothers
The Private Psychedelic Reel - The Chemical Brothers
As We Go Along - The Monkees
Auntie's Municipal Court - The Monkees
Another Number - The Cribs
I Don't Want Control Of You - Teenage Fanclub
Someday (demo) - Gomez
Kampfire Vampire - Gerry Cinnamon
Fickle McSelfish - Gerry Cinnamon
Hannah and Gabi (demo) - The Lemonheads
Snow - Miaoux Miaoux
Lights Are Changing - The Bevis Frond
Get Yourself Together - Velocette
Suddenly Heaven - Stephen Solo
Reasons to Run - Stephen Solo

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Stephen Solo is a genius

I would normally title a review about a new album with the album title, but given that Pii 3 is the final in an outstanding trilogy of exceptional pop music, I felt the need to declare loudly and proudly that Stephen Solo, AKA Stephen Farrell, is a genius.

I have suspected this for some time, however after revisiting Pii and Pii 2 back to back over the weekend and Pii 3 numerous times, I am confident that I have enough evidence to shout this to the world. Check them out to see if you agree.

Both of the first two albums have aged well. You notice and appreciate the layers, melodies, imagination, voice and lyrics more in time. Solo is certainly eccentric, but that is just part of his charm, listen to the trilogy and you'll find a deep, soulful, intelligent songwriter, musician, artist, arranger and producer.

The trilogy has songs that discuss and confront love, birth, parenthood, aspiration, reality - often grim, the use of humour to get by, getting older, relationships, escapism ... the way Solo portrays his thoughts, dreams, fears and the dark reaches of his mind is unique.

Crying Because from Pii
One of the most beautiful, fragile, tender and imaginative songs I know 

The Pii trilogy started with Stephen getting an iPhone and downloading all kinds of apps to create music. Freed from having to fund studio time to record he let his imagination and creative nature run riot, producing fragile beauties, cinematic wonders, synth sensations and clever craziness.

Some songs will jump out on first listen, others will reveal their true worth with patience, but dig deep and you’ll find Albarn-seque melodies, Beatles-y harmonies and sonic adventurousness.

You'll find out more about how Stephen writes and records in a forthcoming podcast interview I have planned with him. 

Photo by Brian Sweeney

On to Pii 3.

I Ate A Motorcycle was the lead single for the album. If the title doesn't generate your interest then the flow and melodies soon will. The way this song changes and flows from 2-minutes in is simply magical, the way Solo plays with the melody and phrasing, introducing sprinkling synths is joyful.

I am more than human
I am more than a machine

Suddenly Heaven has a stunning melody over an 80’s groove with Solo showing off all of his vocal powers. This is sensational, the song lifts and soars with ease. This is real grown up pop music with Solo admitting to himself and anyone listening that he loves time alone away from work, stress, family, bills and reality. If I'm backing up the title of this blog, then this song is near the top of my evidence.

I feel more human, when I get to be on my own

Storm Chaser is kind of psychedelic Flaming Lips with Freddie Mercury on vocals with the beautiful line when the thunder comes she'll chase the storm.

The song titled Sweetest Melody jumped to my attention as this is a guy who knows a melody. It is gentle, soothing, becoming Beatles-y, dreamy and like it could be from a musical. 

Reasons to Run is my current favourite from Pii 3. Solo’s ability to take a song on a new direction at ease is evident a number of times throughout this song, almost going into a rap at one point. It is magical inventive pop music and listen to that voice analysing change in a relationship but declaring;

I will always, always run to you
For the same old reasons

Hold Music continues a theme throughout the trilogy of Solo finding humour and art in every day frustrations. Music is his escape from reality, but he portrays reality in a Limmy-esque way at times.

The Beatles and The Beach Boys crossed with Gorillaz is my attempt to describe Something Like Nothing Like Love. I marvel at the structure, lead vocals and harmonies. Everything is Solo.

Stars on Tape is a fragile gem that seems to be sprinkled with magical fairy dust. It has a dreamlike quality, it could be a lullaby. It is utterly stunning.

Block Out The Sun begins with a piano melody that sounds instantly classic. This should be picked up for a film or TV show. My heart melts when Solo soars amidst Beatles-y backing vocals. This is 5 minutes that to me highlights how good Stephen Solo is. The way everything breaks down and takes a twist halfway through is again like something from a musical.

The Dark Web could be a title for a book, TV show or film. Here is the theme tune. Dark, experimental, crazy, but with yet another soaring chorus. There is another glorious change in pace in this song with a Drive style bass introduced. 

The closing The Digital Dead brought tears to my eyes on first listen, the way Solo revisits Behind Your Eyes is tender and gorgeous, singing about his son in the most beautiful way, before ending the Pii trilogy the way it began. The final melancholic melody will melt your heart.

And though sunlight kisses your hair
We are the digital, digital, digital, dead
Behind your eyes I'll be waiting
We are the digital, digital, digital dead

Stephen Solo is a genius. Assess the evidence.

The Pii trilogy is available digitally via all the usual platforms.

Monday, 22 July 2019

A Catholic Education

The run of Teenage Fanclub shows at the end of 2019 where they played their Creation Records albums over 3-nights will live long in my memory. The bands rich back catalogue from 1991-2000 was rolled out in all its glory. Songs were dusted off, from Sidewinder to Near You, with the likes of Tears Are Cool, Discolite and Winter in between. Not to mention some impeccable b-sides, including a sublime and very moving Broken, and rarities from the era.

The shows brought immense joy but they were also tinged by sadness with the news that Gerry Love was leaving the band. It could have been worse, the band could have broken up. Thankfully everything was amicable and everything has gone well since.

Teenage Fanclub have brought long term friend Euros Childs in on keyboards and Dave has gone to bass, they have released a new single and blazed a trail across the world from January through to July.

This is a brand new era for the Fanclub and ahead of the bands Scottish summer shows at Kelvingrove Bandstand, scene of a triumphant show in 2014, and Leith Theatre, I thought I'd take a look back all the way to A Catholic Education their debut LP, released 29-years ago in 1990, recorded 30-years ago in July 1989.

The studio time for A Catholic Education was funded when Raymond McGinley's neighbour passed away and left him a couple of kitchen appliances, including a fridge. They were duly sold to fund recordings of songs Raymond had been writing with his friend Norman Blake following the demise of their band The Boy Hairdressers.

Along with drummer Francis MacDonald, also formerly of The Boy Hairdressers, the trio recruited bassist Gerry Love in May of 1989 and by July Teenage Fanclub began recording after only a few rehearsals.

Blake and McGinley didn't want to hang around with their new band and the  melodic, grungy, and heartfelt songs on A Catholic Education have a rawness, energy, innocence and purity to them that has helped the album age well.

Not many bands capture their developing sound on vinyl, most wait until they are fully formed and polished. Digging into A Catholic Education for the first time in a while, it is evident that the Fanclub were capturing something pretty special.

On songs like the spellbinding Everything Flows there is a sense that everything is coming together, on the title track and Too Involved it sounds like everything could also easily fall apart.

early Teenage Fanclub

The sense of humour and fun that the band clearly display in interviews and onstage to this day is also all over the album, beginning with the instrumental opener Heavy Metal. It's not, it's simply a  jam but it somehow feels like a perfect opener.

And then we have the majestic Everything Flows, the song that this blog takes its name from. The guitars are glorious, sounding as if the band might have been listening to some Neil Young, the lyrics  have a perspective and maturity beyond Norman Blake's (then) 24 years of age.

We get older every day
But you don't change
Or I don't notice you changing

Released as the bands debut single, Everything Flows is a song that generates goosebumps and tingles for fans across the world and remains a staple, often as set closer, in the bands live sets to this day. It drives on, you don't want it to end.  The song is like a fine wine, getting better and more meaningful with age.

Live from Reading - Everything Flows

Catholic Education has the rawness and sense that it could fall apart that I wrote about above, the band crash through riffs, the drumming is ferocious and Blake simply sings You wanna turn your back on everything, You wanna turn your back on everyone, Well I try before the song descends into a fun jam and it's over in under two and a half minutes.

I love the warm guitars in Too Involved, I love the lazy intro to Don't Need A Drum and Raymond riffing along before taking on a solo.

Crticial Mass is an unpolished gem featuring early use of harmonies on the chorus. The guitars are gloriously raw.

When I switched off my feelings is when I lost control
Couldn't say what I was needing
Something I didn't know 

Heavy Metal II is another jam before the band absolutely tear through a reprise of Catholic Education. 

There is a song I had forgotten from the album, Eternal Light. There is a ring of The Byrds in the opening guitars and the song has a loving shambolic flow to it.

Every Picture I Paint is a favourite of mine. I've always loved the guitars, Norman's voice, the way the song hangs together, the band tear through it and the chorus forced home,

It takes a hundred thousand colours just to paint you
And every picture that I paint doesn't capture you

The album ends with Everybody's Fool, another loose romp. The band find a melody and groove with ease and the recording sounds raw, live and spontaneous.

As much as I enjoy A Catholic Education, it barely sets the scene for what was to come from Bandwagonesque onwards and in a way that is what makes it special. For me, A Catholic Education, is a glimpse of a band (a gang) forming, in progress, sounding raw, stoned and/or pissed, live, spontaneous and full of fun.