Sunday, 8 December 2019

2019 albums of the year

Digging into back catalogues and rediscovering a lot of music from my teenage years is what predominantly took up most of my 2019 in music. If you scan through my 70+ blogs from 2019 there is only a handful of album reviews.

I don't know why this is. I read reviews, friends have raved about albums by Nick Cave, Lana del Rey and Big Thief, but I haven't had the urge to buy a copy or even stream them.

On reflection, it has been quite refreshing not chasing down newly released music. I've got loads of bands I love, loads of records to play (and CD's!) and a lot of the journalists, DJ's or artists I admire turn me on to music, largely from years gone by - Pete Paphides, Andrew Divine, Greg Wilson, Duglas T Stewart and Gerry Love for example.

Discovering an outstanding piece of music will always thrill me - whether it is newly released or whether it was released 50-years ago. 

I've dug deeply into Motown and the incredible (and seemingly endless) collection of out-takes and rarities this incredible record label has to offer. Song #3 by Marvin Gaye is astonishing and this is one artist in particular who has a real treasure trove of archive material online. Song#3 is one song I would love to own on vinyl! Here is my blog on that particular Marvin gem.

This blog is titled 2019 albums of the year though.  So here is a piece on each of my top 5 favourite albums of 2019.

As I always like to point out in my end of year albums blog, there are countless albums that have been released this year that I haven't bought or checked out and will only discover down the line.

Feel free to comment with your own top 5 or tweet @murrayeaston

1. Kiwanuka - Michael Kiwanuka

This is an artist that a few friends have been telling me to check out for a while. I have kicked myself for waiting until his third album to do so. I read a review that described Kiwanuka as kind of like a modern day What's Going On? meets Screamadelica. I immediately checked it out. 

What an album! Beautifully written, performed and produced. There is ambition, there is soul, emotion and it all sounds so unbelievably natural! I'm still finding so much in this astonishing collection of songs from the driving opener You Ain't The Problem to the gloriously emotional closer Light. The writing, performance, playing, arrangements and production (by Danger Mouse) are top class.

I had to lose to understand
Strung out from all this

I look forward to catching Kiwanuka live at the Barrowland in March 2020. It is a complete sell-out and I am sure he will be back in Glasgow at some point in 2020.

2. Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains

I was only introduced to this album in late November with the following recommendation - Genius and tragic. Like one big long suicide note. An upbeat suicide note.

Purple Mountains is David Berman, formerly of the Silver Jews and the album was released in July, shortly before Berman's death, ruled as suicide, in August, just days before a scheduled tour to promote the album.

Purple Mountains is a ragged, heartfelt, soul baring, direct album - straight from the heart, straight from the thoughts of the writer. It was largely recorded live, with two members of the band Woods helping to form a band to accompany Berman, they also produced. Many of the vocals were first take.

From what I've read, Berman finished Silver Jews and pretty much switched off from music and society in 2009 to read books and be alone. In an interview to promote the album Berman says I saw no-one and did nothing, also highlighting how depressed he was and that there were over 100 nights he didn't think he would make it to dawn.

Berman's mother died in 2014 and within a week he had picked up a guitar and wrote I Loved Being My Mother's Son. Berman also split from his wife of twenty years, the cause highlighted in She's Making Friends, I'm Turning Stranger - Berman was essentially a depressed hermit.

It's reflective and soul searching stuff, essentially a suicide note on vinyl. Somehow Berman can sing all my happiness is gone and make it sound quite uplifting. The dead know what they're doing when they leave this world behind is another lyric from the beautiful Night's That Won't Happen.

If I had discovered this album a little earlier it might be my album of the year. There is so much depth to it, so much reality, so much gut wrenching soul and reflection.

The closing Maybe I'm The Only One For Me has the lyric if no-ones fond of f**king me, maybe no-ones f**king fond of me. Berman finding humour and a clever line despite his feelings.

A quite astonishing album.

3. Pii 3 - Stephen Solo

Picture by Brian Sweeney

Recorded largely on an iPhone, Stephen Solo's Pii 3 can't help leave you wondering what this guy could do with a studio budget. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes bonkers, always interesting. Pii 3 is full of melodies and creativity from a unique artist. Suddenly Heaven and Reasons To Run are real favourites.

This is the 3rd in a trilogy. Clear an evening in your diary, dig out your headphones and work your way through the 3 Pii albums. There might be a tear in your eye by the time you reach the The Digital Dead which closes the trilogy. An exceptional artist.

Solo's songs 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.

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

4. Varshons 2 - The Lemonheads

Evan Dando's taste for beautiful, clever and sometimes funny songwriting shines through on this second collection of covers he has released with whoever he has playing with him in The Lemonheads at the time. This gets better with every listen.

The record is like a lovely warm blanket, Dando's voice is one I appreciate more with every year. Things by Paul Westerberg is a little stunner, his duet with Marciana Jones on The Jayhawks Settled Down Like Rain is sublime and his transformation of Round Here is unbelievable. Check a live clip with Marciana HERE

Jesse's getting ready, I'm gassing up the Chevy
I'm gonna pick her up at 6, I hope she's gonna wear
The jeans with the tear that her Mama never fixed

I've listened back to Evan and The Lemonheads a lot this year and hope he releases some new music in the near future.

5. Lux Prima - Karen O and Danger Mouse

That man Danger Mouse again, turning in some beautiful music and bringing out a side of Karen O that I would love to hear more of. The 9-minute opener (and title track) sets the tone. There is no rush, a beautiful long intro, strings, and Karen O's vocals are stunning over sparse funky beats. But when the lush orchestration comes in - oooft.

Then you have Reveries with minimal instrumentation and Karen O singing in a gorgeous hushed voice that really draws you in.

As I slip down underneath
Please don't tempt me with your ecstasy
So when I go, I go quietly
Out of your arms
Through space I fell

Karen O says: "After making music for the past twenty years and embarking on making this record with Danger Mouse I knew a couple of things: one was that the spirit of collaboration between us was going to be a pure one, and two was that the more I live the less is clear to me. When you create from a blurry place you can go places further than you've been. I think we both were excited to go far out." 

Friday, 6 December 2019

The Music Box by Ruth Copeland

Trust me #8
The Music Box by Ruth Copeland

In the summer of 2004 I bought a compilation album called Songs for Mario's Cafe by Saint Etienne. Well before then, I had learned that Bob Stanley from the band had exceptional taste in music that was matched by his knowledge and thirst for more.

Every single song on this compilation was like finding treasure. I hadn't heard any of them before! I'll be blogging on some of my favourite compilation albums in 2020.

One of the songs that stood out from this particular compilation was a song called The Music Box by an artist called Ruth Copeland. I was blown away by the music, production, voice and raw emotion that leapt out of this song.

Starting with a children's choir singing a la la la la la la la melody, that you can instantly sing-a-long to, The Music Box makes use of the choir throughout, with Copeland singing in a crystal clear voice over a funky Motown style beat.

Copeland is on a plane to meet a lost love who has written to say he is marrying and has a child. In her pocket she carries the letter and a music box that her lost love had given her. Reading between the lines, the music box kept the flame alive. Now, Copeland feels she has to return the music box which plays their song.

The second verse is heartbreaking, Copeland meets he lost love, hands him the music box and walks away, hearing him open the box and play their song.

I could only hand to him the music box and turn away
And as I walked away from all our love I heard him play

The la la la la la la la melody is what the music box plays, leading to an incredible section of the choir singing the melody and Copeland breaking down, literally sobbing along over a beat that is crying out to be sampled, if it hasn't been already.

Trust me, this is a gem. Check it out below and dig into her limited back catalogue that includes a sensational 8-minute cover of Gimme Shelter.

Previous Trust Me blogs

1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras
7. In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

10 from Primal Scream

Following on from 10 favourites by The Vaselines, The Lemonheads and The Pastels, ahead of two sold out shows at the Barrowland Ballroom on 17th and 18th December, it is the turn of Primal Scream to receive some love and attention.

Primal Scream came bounding into my life with the Movin' On Up video and single. They looked super cool and sounded incredible. I bought Screamadelica off the back of it, expecting more high energy rock n roll. Instead my mind was blown by the ambition, talent and soundscapes spread across this exceptional double album.

I have followed the band ever since then, catching them numerous times at Glasgow Barrowland, in a tent at Glasgow Green, at festivals, traveling to Manchester to see them play Screamadelica for the 20th anniversary and I have followed them on their sonic journey through music.

Screamadelica, Give Out But Don't Give Up, Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR is an exceptional run of albums from 1991 to 2000.

Pre 1991 the Scream were still determining who they were, their two patchy albums, Sonic Flower Groove and their second eponymous album released in 1991, were splashed with highlights like Love You and I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have, but in general it seemed like the band couldn't decide if they wanted to be The Byrds or The Stooges. The band were best known for the b-side Velocity Girl, 90-seconds of pure jangle guitar pop magic.

Sonic Flower Groove era Scream

Meeting Andrew Weatherall and being introduced to ecstasy changed them - for the better. Although it took time to change everything, even when Primal Scream released Loaded as a single Gillespie had greasy hair and dressed in leathers, his performance on Top of the Pops for that single is ridiculous to watch. Check it HERE

With a sharp mod style haircut Bobby Gillespie was suddenly the coolest person on the planet fronting the coolest band on the planet. Looking good enough to match his never undeniable excellent taste in, knowledge of and thirst for music.

Boundaries were being broken down in music all over the world and the Scream suddenly saw all kinds of new possibilities opening to them with Andrew Innes, Gillespie's partner in crime, starting to play a key role. Andrew Weatherall took them to another dimension.

The controls were not just set for the heart of the sun, Primal Scream were going higher than the sun.

The band arguably went too high, burned too brightly and they had to come down. Kind of. Give Out But Don't Give Up (and the recent Original Memphis Recordings) show a completely different side to the band - rock n roll, funky jams and gorgeous ballads - that they had touched upon with the incredible damage.

They went further, 1997's Vanishing Point is exceptional. The band, buoyed by the addition of Mani from the Stone Roses joining on bass, produce a melting pot of sounds that is truly their own. It is notable that the album was largely self produced.

This radio station was named Kowalski

Primal Scream went even further with XTRMNTR in 2000 - bringing in all kinds of guests to create truly incredible and pulsating music - Kevin Shields, the Chemical Brothers and David Holmes were among those joining the party. I would love to the 20th anniversary of this album to be marked with some live dates where the album is played from start to finish.

Has there been an album as energetic and as angry released since? Is there a band out there with the talent, anger and background that the Scream had at this time? Will there ever be again?

Primal Scream also utilised b-sides, recording cover versions, jams and releasing som stunning remixes. Although only one has made it into my list below, favourite b-sides include How Does It Feel To Belong?, Hammond Connection, Screamadelica (from the Dixie Narco EP) and the Burning Wheel (Chemical Brothers remix).

The post 2000 albums did take a dip in quality for me, but the exceptional tunes kept coming; Autobahn 66, Country Girl, Sometimes I Feel So Lonely and 2013 being just four.

The last few years have seen Primal Scream become a little more reflective in old age - revisiting the Memphis Sessions (who could blame them after Andrew Innes' extraordinary discovery of the tapes!) and with the singles compilation and tour.

Primal Scream in Memphis

Gillespie has always known how important Primal Scream were, or were going to be. And he is a music fanatic, he knows how to play the game, how to talk his band up on the level they should be.

And this current singles tour, a greatest hits tour if you will; maximum rock n roll, punk rock energy, euphoric house music, bluesy soul ballads - all combined will only cement what a truly incredible band Primal Scream are. They should be cherished ... they are.

Somehow I have tried to select 10 favourites. I could easily have selected 20.

Autobahn 66
Mani's bass for the Stone Roses is fantastic, but I think he really makes his mark with the Scream. I love the rumbling bass, the beats and the beautiful instrumental melody before Gillespie comes in.

Dreaming, I'm still dreaming
Dreaming my life 'til the day that I die
Dreaming my life 'til the day that I die

Autobahn 66 has a pulsating energy and delicate dreamy beauty to it. It's a real favourite of mine.

Everybody Needs Somebody (Original Memphis Recordings version)
There is a lyric in this song that got me the first time I heard back in 1994 and it still gets me every time. It's when Gillespie sings;

a little bit of soul
is worth more than gold
everybody needs somebody

The BBC documentary on the Original Memphis Recordings is fantastic. I love how Bobby rhymes off all these incredible people working on the album, names he has got to know through record sleeves and I love how he talks so passionately and proudly about his band mates and how they stepped up their game to play at the standard required for this album, in the setting they had in Memphis and with the musicians, engineers and producer involved.

This is such a gorgeous song, Denise Johnson's backing vocals are heavenly and I love the way the song breaks down to rise gloriously. A stunner.

Shoot Speed/Kill Light
I mentioned Mani's bass above, on this sonic electro punk blast it is at the heart of the song, allowing guitars to blitz all around it. On record this sounds like the vinyl might not cope with it, live it is one of the many songs Primal Scream have in their arsenal to shake things up, to move to another level, to threaten to tear the roof off the place. White Noise, White Heat. Incredible.

Benicassim Festival - live

Come Together (Farley mix)
I have blogged extensively on my love of this song, most recently HERE. My favourite version is from the 2011 Screamadelica shows where the Scream mix 3 versions together - you'll find that on the link above. Utterly euphoric pop, acid house, soul, gospel music.

I'm free, you're free
I want you to touch me
So come on touch me
It's all too much

Movin' On Up
This was the first Primal Scream record I bought after seeing the video on the chart show. Bobby Gillespie pulling all his Jagger moves, looking great, sounding great and with a big gospel choir singing my light shines on. This still sounds so fresh all these years down the line. Brilliant on record, utterly sensational live.


I remember this coming out as a single and being incredibly excited by it. The Scream Team looked completely wasted on the cover, you stuck on the record and it was up tempo Stones-y rock n roll. High energy, high fun, high times for the Scream Team as they shot into the top 10 for the first time. Deservedly so.

The lyrics for the verses flow out of Gillespie like Dylan fronting the Stones before Mick and Keith come in for the chorus.

Velocity Girl
Released as b-side to Crystal Crescent back in 1986, this 90-second guitar pop gem was lumped in with C86. It stood out a mile and was allegedly the inspiration for the Stone Roses moving away from the sound of their Garage Flower era songs towards the likes of Made of Stone. This is clever, pure pop. I blogged on Velocity Girl back in April - HERE

New video from 2019 for Velocity Girl

Higher Than The Sun
A Dub Symphony In Two Parts
In my opinion this is Primal Scream's best song. Lyrically, musically and with the production, they just get it absolutely spot on. This is psychedelic bliss; Gillespie sings;

I'm beautiful I wasn't born to follow
I live just for today I don't care 'bout tomorrow
What i got in my head you can't buy, steal or borrow
I believe in life and let live
I believe you get what you give

The music is trippy and beautiful, really taking the listener on a journey. Looking back and listening to Primal Scream's eponymous album in 1989, there is nothing to suggest what would come. You'll get more of an idea from reading old Bobby Gillespie interviews.

Higher Than The Sun features on both sides of Screamadelica, the original version on side 1 is sublime, the Dub Symphony In Two Parts on the flip is outrageously good, it really does head higher than the sun - stunning!

Primal Scream - Higher Than The Sun

All 3 sections edited together

Swastika Eyes (live)
Good on record, so good they included 2 mixes on the XTRMNTR album, but live this song becomes an absolute monster. Provocative, punk, electro, high energy, techno... anyone on before or after Primal Scream at a festival was obliterated by this song with Mani in sensational form on bass. The imagery and energy that leap from this song is sensational.

This gem of a ballad comes after the euphoria of Come Together and Loaded on the Screamadelica album, easing you back to earth after sky scraping highs. This may well be my favourite Gillespie vocal and the groove that the band get locked into is simply heavenly - they are on it.

If I had to choose in order, Damaged would probably be my second favourite Scream song behind Come Together. The love lyrics are beautiful, the guitar solo is inspired, and Gillespie's confessions of happiness, security and love sound like the microphone has been inserted directly into his heart.

Sweet summer days when I was feeling so fine
Just you and me girl, was a beautiful time
Oh yeah, said I felt so happy

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Don't Let Me Down

Cover version of the month #49
Dillard and Clark cover The Beatles

I've written about Don't Let Me Down by The Beatles a number of times through the blog, most recently in my Confidently Top 10 blog. It is my favourite Beatles song - so pure, so heartfelt, Lennon so in love that he has to say it in four words rather than three.

So I'm not going to talk about the original version that makes me picture the fab 4 on the Apple rooftop, Lennon's hair blowing in the wind and the friends gelling and laughing as they play their final show. Just watch and listen - magical.

Instead, I'm going to discuss the Dillard and Clark version that I recently discovered. I'm digging into the back catalogue of Gene Clark following the BBC documentary The Byrd Who Flew Alone.

Through the Morning, Through the Night was the second album released by Dillard and Clark, coming out in August 1969, only 10-months after their debut LP. 

I've yet to find out how Dillard and Clark discovered the song before it was released on The Beatles Let It Be album in May 1970, but somehow they did.

Their version keeps the bluesy feel of The Beatles but turns it into country bluesgrass blues. Clark's voice is unaccompanied for the first few seconds before bass, drums, acoustic and lead guitar kick in. The vocal is beautiful and when the harmonies come in, especially if you are listening on headphones, it is pretty spine tingling.

My favourite section of the song is the middle eight;

I'm in love for the first time
And I know it's gonna last
It's a love that lasts a lifetime
It's a love that has no past

Clark changes a couple of words and the way his voice lingers on no past is just stunning. Dillard and Clark with over one minute of Clark repeatedly singing don't let me down backed by beautiful harmonies/backing vocals. The song fades ... I wish they had kept it going, it is sublime. 

Previous covers of the month

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The Great Western - Maryhill Community Central Hall

Yesterday was the very first Great Western multi-venue festival in the West End of Glasgow. Music fans had the chance of buying a ticket for a specific venue or a multi-venue ticket.

With The Pastels curating an excellent bill in Maryhill Community Central Hall including Lightships, Sacred Paws and Molly Nilssen - I quickly settled on the idea of staying in the one place. My friend Lorna started out at 3pm and hopped around to see Malcolm Middleton in the stunning Mackintosh Church, also checking out a psych band she couldn't remember the name of in the Hug and Pint and some spoken word in The Doublet before my friend Joe and I joined her at 6.30pm ahead of Lightships. Lorna even gamely hopped off to check !!! at the QMU and made it back for The Pastels.

Maryhill Community Central Hall is a superb venue and I hope the promoters 432 presents consider using it more throughout the year - seats on 3 sides and plenty of space to stand. The smaller room 2 was also excellent.

In Gerry's pre-show interview with The Scotsman he said - for me it's just a case of crossing the line and running about the pitch for a few minutes and going back off and being ready for the next season. That's the way I see it.

On the evidence of last night, Gerry is a midfield maestro like Paul Scholes - capable of turning up and turning it on. With a little training he will be on Champions League form next season.

Two Lines opened the show, Gerry's guitar collided beautifully with Dave McGowan's and we were off. Lightships line-up was Gerry, Dave, Noel O'Donnell (drums), Tom Crossley (flute) and Bob Kildea (bass). It seemed to go on for a glorious ten minutes.

We had two new songs which bodes well for the next season. The first one was, dare I say it, very Fanclub with a lyrics about choosing to walk from the airport. The whole set was beautiful, but I think the band grew stronger as they went on, Gerry would nod when he was ready to end a song, but the outro instrumentals were stretched out a couple of times as the band locked in a groove around circular riffs. Sunlight To The Dawn was a sublime end to the first Lightships show in many years.

We chose to catch up with a lot of people we knew after Lightships rather than head to the second room. There was a brilliant community atmosphere - apt for the venue. 

Sacred Paws were an absolute delight. It's been a good number of years since I last saw them. I think that was quite an early show. The core two-piece of Rachel Aggs (guitar and vocals) and Eilidh Rodgers (drums and vocals) were backed up with an additional guitar and bass at times, but I couldn't take my eyes of Rachel and Eilidh. Their energy and enthusiasm had large sections of a packed crowd dancing away and I caught my friend Alan dancing his heart out up the back section of the seats - so did Rachel and she acknowledged him.

Before we knew it Sacred Paws had drawn us down from standing at the back of the side section of seats to the front for a little boogie. Rachel jumped down from the stage to join in with a crowd to our left. Sacred Paws were on absolute fire and it was one of those beautiful moments when the band knew it and the crowd knew it. I will definitely be going to see them next time they play Glasgow.

I've got a couple of Molly Nilsson's albums and I was looking forward to seeing her in Room 2. She was singing to a backing track, but that didn't stop her from being captivating - her red hair was striking and her silhouette was multiplied by the lights on to the back wall. I did only stay for a couple of songs as Lorna made it back from !!! and my sister managed to finish work a little early to get up in time for The Pastels, so we went to get a drink and a space.

I highlighted my love and appreciation for The Pastels in a recent blog. There was a lot of love in the Community Halls last night. The band were predominantly a 6-piece for the night, joined towards the end of the set by a 7th member to play (tubular) bells. Slow Summits was released 6-years ago and it made up most of the set last night. The 6 or 7-piece band sounded sublime, Stephen and Katrina seemed to take it in turns with lead vocals, at other times they were both involved.

Baby Honey was as outstanding as ever with Stephen coaxing excellent sounds from his guitar and the band ended with a surprise (at least for me) outing for their cover of Different Drum to huge delight all around me.

Stephen highlighted that The Great Western should become an annual event. If so, I hope The Pastels get to curate Maryhill Community Halls every year. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

In The Year 2525

Trust Me #7 

In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans

In The Year 2525 is a futuristic psychedelic garage pop song released by the American band/duo Zager and Evans. Written by Rick Evans back in 1964, the song was originally released on a small regional label in 1968, before being rereleased and hitting number 1 in the summer of 1969, both in American and the UK.

I first heard it when it was played in the Scottish independent film Small Faces and I fell for it instantly. The production is incredible, the delivery is immediate and powerful.

Talk about taking the listener on a journey; thoughts are pre-programmed into pills, machines take over resulting in parts of the body losing their purpose, kids conceived in test tubes ... talk about being ahead of its time!

Everything you think, do or say
Is in the pill you took today

The song flies through time in 1,010 year intervals, 2525, 3535, 4545 .... leading to 9595 and the singer contemplating if man will still be alive.

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

This is an incredible song. It is pop in the fact that it is instantly memorable, it is exceptionally clever, the power and delivery is sensational, the production is perfect and the fact that it is so out there, so futuristic and it got to number 1 - it's pretty mind blowing.

Trust Me
1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Never Ending Mixtape part 42

My Never Ending MIxtape breaks the 1,200 song mark.

Starting with the sublime Losing You by Solange, through northern soul, pure pop by The Frank and Walters who I once bunked off school for to go and see them play at Tower Records in Glasgow, new discoveries of old songs, a classic from BMX Bandits, quite a few from the Velvet Underground and some great pop tunes from around 10-years ago. How good is Young Folks? And Kids is still ridiculously euphoric - what a riff and melody!

The latest additions are listed below. Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click below.

Losing You - Solange
Gone With The Wind Is My Love
Gone With The Wind (instrumental)
After All - The Frank and Walters
Divine Hammer - The Breeders
Pa'lante - Hurray for the Riff Raff
Life Is Sweet (live) - Maria McKee
The Lost Girl In The Midnight Sun - The Lilac Time
Don't Be Scared I Love You - Bill Ryder-Jones
Right Across The Street - BMX Bandits
Satellite Of Love - Lou Reed
What Goes On - The Velvet Underground
I'm Set Free - The Velvet Underground
I Found A Reason - The Velvet Underground
O! Seet Nuthin' - The Velvet Underground
Ride Into The Sun - The Velvet Underground
Ingrown - Smudge
Things - Paul Westerberg
Going Down - Stone Roses
Computer World - Kraftwerk
You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory - Johnny Thunders
Kids - MGMT
Need You Now - Cut Copy
How Deep Is Your Love - The Rapture
Every Beat Of The Heart - The Railway Children
Young Folks - Peter, Bjorn and John

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Gerry Cinnamon to play Hampden in 2020

The story, the fairytale, the dream, keeps developing, the bonny burns brighter - more people fall under the spell, far away lands, wild scenes and so we arrive at the latest chapter....

Gerry Cinnamon has announced a HUGE home town show at Hampden Park in Glasgow for Saturday 18th July 2020. Tickets are on sale this Friday, 15th November.

You can pre-order Gerry's forthcoming second album The Bonny to get exclusive pre-sale access from Wednesday 13th November - ORDER HERE

This announcement continues the crazy meteoric rise of Cinnamon. My money was on Gerry headlining a night at TRNSMT 2020 - but his popularity has grown to the extent that he needs his own festival stadium sized show!

And if you follow Gerry online (see video above) it isn't hard to discover why he is playing Hampden. Cinnamon is winning over arenas with his songs and personality. And his fans are playing their part, creating unparallelled atmospheres at his shows.

Sometimes it is hard to catch your breath and remember that Gerry is still unsigned - he releases everything himself. And in a media obsessed world (Gerry avoids it)- social media allows him to connect with the people who matter - the fans. And social media has allowed good old fashioned word-of-mouth to spread; from Glasgow, across Scotland, to England, Ireland, Wales, Europe, Australia, New Zealand ...

This is a trailblazing journey that Cinnamon is taking us on into uncharted, previously unimagined territory - an unsigned artist playing a stadium show?!

I would bet my mortgage on Hampden selling out in a day or less. And then ... a second night?!

I hope Gerry has been keeping a diary the last few years, in a way he has - just check his posts and tweets.

Hampden Park will be an absolute celebration and people will travel from all over to be there.

Good luck in the hunt for tickets.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

10 from The Pastels

Katrina Mitchell and Stephen Pastel - the core of The Pastels
Picture by Blair Young

The Pastels have curated the line-up for the Maryhill Community Central Hall section of The Great Western, a new multi-venue one day festival organised by promoters 432 presents. Tickets are on sale now. Gerry Love's Lightships and Sacred Paws are among the bands joining The Pastels. FULL INFO

So I thought I would blog on 10 of my favourite songs from the band, following on from similar blogs on The Vaselines and The Lemonheads.

I fell for The Pastels as a teenager and in many ways I am still falling as I learn more about the band, appreciating them even more with each and every passing year. They are the kind of band I wanted to be in as a teenager and they are the kind of band I wish I was in at the age of 43.

The Pastels just do their own thing, in their own way, at their own pace and they do it exceptionally well. The Pastels are cool without wanting to be cool, they have inspired and supported so many bands from Glasgow and beyond.

Thank You For Being You was the first Pastels record I bought. I also had a red Pastels t-shirt from that era and the 1993 Truckload Of Trouble LP that is full of all kinds of gems ranging from singles to a glorious cover of Different Drum and a a brilliant instrumental Kitted Out.

Not surprisingly, there are a few songs from this era of The Pastels that feature in this blog.

I first caught The Pastels live at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in 1994. I love the band on record but I probably love them even more live. There is something about the way Stephen plays his guitar (a beauty) and the way the band gel. I love how the line-up and sound has expanded. I love Katrina's drumming that sounds and looks so effortless and carefree at times and her voice is all kinds of melodic gorgeousness. And I love that live and on record, The Pastels music still has a loving, soulful, homegrown, could fall apart at any moment, type of immediacy and quality to it.

The Pastels are an incredibly important band to (and in) Glasgow. Stephen Pastel formed and released music on the legendary 53rd and 3rd Records and now runs the Geographic label. They have put on bands (and most probably put up bands), championed bands from Teenage Fanclub and The Vaselines through to bands like Spinning Coin and The Orielles from further afield. And they have shared their impeccable taste and knowledge via the support bands they cherry pick to play with them, their social media postings and through Stephen's work at Monorail Records.

Here are 10 of my favourites by The Pastels.

Classic line-up
Three minutes and 20 seconds of glorious guitars and gushing lyrics about sunshine, Glasgow and love. Stick this song on the next time you are walking about Glasgow (or any city) in the sunshine and your life will instantly improve.

See the sunshine split those buildings
And I'll feel my heart uplifting
Cause the city casts a magic spell
And my life seems so special

Glasgow is a brilliant city, it has so much to offer and Pastel's love for it comes pouring out in melodies and a love letter in a song.

When the tenement world reveals it's charm
You better grab it fast with both your arms

Crawl Babies
From the seminal Up For A Bit With The Pastels album this is brilliant. Everything seems to just come together, the guitars, the melodies, Stephen's vocals.

Says she's open like a book
She's got everything I need
Even wants to take the time
To teach me how to read

I wanna build her up, up as tall as a church
Just to to watch her, just to watch her falling down

Vivid Youth w/ Tenniscoats
How gloriously mellow and gorgeous is this? Just so beautiful, sublime and in the moment. Katrina's voice is so gentle and pure. I love the way the melody picks up so naturally for the all ashes are grey in the day section.

Check My Heart
Pure guitar pop perfection. This could warm the coldest of days. Katrina takes lead vocals that are melodic, catchy and sing-song-y. Check My Heart is upbeat and completely infectious. I was overjoyed when The Pastels returned from a long absence with this as the lead single. Sublime!

Katrina sings of grabbing life and love we're on a mountain top and I wanna leap out and get it

And Stephen comes in with the gorgeous I wanted a lifetime, not just to fall in your arms.

Million Tears
I only discovered Million Tears when I came across a YouTube playlist of every single Creation Records release a few years back. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard it before!

This is a pure two minute and 40 second rush of guitar pop brilliance. There is still time for a 30-second intro

Oh if I can't have you I don't want nobody else
And if I can't have you I won't take nobody else

I'd tear myself apart 
And cry a million tears
Break down the walls of pain 
And fall into the heartache scene

By 1 minute 20 we have reached a little breakdown and instrumental and then we're straight back into the verse and chorus. In truth this song is just one big chorus for me. It is perfect.

Truck Train Tractor
I love the humour and also the urgency in this song. It drives along (pardon the pun) and it always makes me smile.

Comin' Through
More incredible guitar pop! When you listen to songs like Comin' Through it is no wonder The Pastels made such an impression, such an impact and created such love from music fans all over the world.

I particularly love the closing 40-seconds or so. The Pastels are absolutely on it, everything collides beautifully as extra layers are added.

Nothing To Be Done
Pastel and Aggi (Annabel) duet and melt hearts. The song flows, crashes and tumbles beautifully as Stephen and Aggi take it in turns to trade verses before their vocals gel towards the end.

Take my hand and take my heart
I shiver when you're near

Baby Honey
Baby Honey thrills, it grooves, it drones, it ignites, it excites, it is utterly captivating. Baby Honey is young Glaswegians discovering The Velvet Underground and the thrill of finding out what sounds can be coaxed from an electric guitar.

If I wish upon a star
Take you just the way you are

There is magic in her fingertips
There is magic in the lips I kiss
There is magic in her beautiful eyes
Justify the tears I cry

Thank You For Being You
And we end 10 from The Pastels with the first song of theirs that I fell for. I hope you can hear why! This is guitar pop perfection, Pastel is so in love he needs four words rather than three.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Never Ending Mixtape Part 41

Welcome to the latest additions to the Never Ending Mixtape, now approaching 1,200 songs.

Once we get through the incredible sound of the Happy Mondays tearing and grooving it up, we go on a  real American indie guitar vibe with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, I love the sound and feel on these songs having recently discovered their 1998 album Strung Out In Heaven.

Evan Dando features alongside friends Willy Mason and Smudge who have two versions of the incredible Divan. The latest release from The Beatles archives has some gems, check out the instrumental of Because and .... The Long One.

John Lennon is in with a song that never sounded more apt, my favourite from The Charlatans, One To Another, is finally added, we have some Idlewild and after their announcement of touring Darklands, including a date at the Barrowland Ballroom, we have a few from JAMC.

Dig in and enjoy. The full list of the latest additions is below.

W.F.L. (Think About The Future Mix) - Happy Mondays
Rave On - Happy Mondays
Jennifer - Brian Jonestown Massacre
Maybe Tomorrow - Brian Jonestown Massacre
Got My Eye On You - Brain Jonestown Massacre
Spun - Brian Jonestown Massacre
If It's The End - Willy Mason
Oxygen - Willy Mason
Divan - Smudge
Divan - Smudge (different version)
The Same Thing You Thought Hard About - Evan Dando
Because (Take 1 instrumental) - The Beatles
The Long One - The Beatles
Bit Part - The Lemonheads
Al Kindsa Girls - The Real Kids
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End - The Beatles
Gimme Some Truth - John Lennon
One To Another - The Charlatans
Tougher Than The Rest - Angel Olsen
Everybody Needs Somebody - Primal Scream
When I Argue I See Shapes - Idlewild
El Capitan - Idlewild
You Wear It Seconhand - Idlewild
Either Way - The Twang
Darklands - Jesus and Mary Chain
Happy When It Rains - Jesus and Mary Chain
Some Candy Talking - Jesus and Mary Chain
Kitted Out - The Pastels
Ya We Are Cruel But We Have Our Agenda - Smudge
Dive For Your Memory - The Go-Betweens
I Know But I Don't Know - Blondie
Sunlight To The Dawn - Lightships
Flowers Never Bend In The Rainfall - Simon and Garfunkel
The More I See You - Chris Montez

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Confidently top 10

My sister and her friend Kat recently co-presented a regular show (fLUNT) on LP Radio which I thoroughly enjoyed. The two enjoy great banter when discussing songs, proudly stating after some that it would confidently be in their top 10 list of fave songs ever.

It got me thinking, could I confidently state my top 10 fave songs ever?

I think I can ... it might change. But these 10-songs will always be there or thereabouts.

1. Come Together (Farley mix) - Primal Scream
This is blissful psychedelic pop touched with a little acid house and gospel. Absolute perfection.

The ambition, progress, collaboration and invention surrounding Primal Scream at this time still generates interest and debate all these years down the line. This is an example of why.

The Weatherall version on the Screamadelica LP is blissful, the Farley mix is my favourite. During the anniversary shows the Scream combined about 3 versions together to create utter euphoria. Check the Farley mix and then the extended live version below.

Kiss me, won't you, won't you, kiss me

2. Going Back To My Roots - Richie Havens
I discovered this song on an incredible compilation called All Back To Mine by Sean Rowley. Every track was incredible and impeccable, but this stood out. That intro, those lyrics, the vocals ... a perfect groove.

Not talking 'bout the roots in the land, I'm talking 'bout the roots in the man

3. Temptation - New Order
Whether it is the original raw version in its extended glory or the polished rerecorded version from Substance, or an extended live version, Temptation pushes all the right buttons for me. The guitars, groove, lyrics, vocals ... it is perfect. Sumner shows why he is one of my favourite singers and guitarists, the circular guitar riff is one I could listen to for hours on end.

Oh you've got green eyes, of you've got blue eyes

4. You Set The Scene - Love
I had fallen for Love after the Fanclub, the Roses and the Scream all mentioned their Forever Changes album in interviews. Then amazingly Arthur Lee announced that he was playing King Tuts following a release from prison and a long period of inactivity through a drug habit. The show was astonishing, a captivated crowd were treated to a show they never thought they would see and you could have heard a pin drop during You Set The Scene. One of my all-time favourite live moments was during this show and this song when Arthur sung I see your picture, it's in the same old frame his voice soared in a way fans could only dream of after years of substance abuse.

The way this song flows, dips and rises is astonishing. Lyrically and musically brilliant, structurally ambitious and just all round stunning.

This is the time and life that I am living
And I'll face each day with a smile
For the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style

5. Don't Leave Me This Way - Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes
What .... A .... Song
What .... A .... Tune
I adore this song. I still find so much in it, the groove, the way it develops, the way it builds to the euphoric chorus, the way it picks up pace, the way that even as it fades out I want it to keep going. Does an even longer version exist?

This is a song I always played whenever I DJ'd in pubs or at parties. Even if you haven't heard it you're going to be hooked in and singing along by the second chorus. The vocals are exceptional, the band are incredible, the drums and percussion are just sublime.

Don't leave me this way
I can't survive, can't stay alive
Without your love, oh baby

6. Everything Flows - Teenage Fanclub
Probably no surprise that Everything Flows is in my top 10! I think this song gets better with age, like a fine wine, I get more meaning out of it, I get more feeling out of it.

A young Norman Blake sounds wise beyond his years as he sings;

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

And perhaps this opening line, more than anything else that is magical about the song, highlights why the song takes on more meaning year on year, gig on gig, listen on listen.

The whole song is magical. The guitars sound incredible and the chorus is beautifully self reflective and one that we can all relate to and the band just gel. It is perfect.

The band later revisited their debut single on the Teenage Fanclub Have Lost It EP that I blogged about HERE and where you can check out their stunning acoustic version.

You can check out the original release and a stunning Peel session version below.

I'll never know which way to flow
Set a course that I don't know

7. Don't Let Me Down - The Beatles
Lennon is so in love that he needs 4 words rather than 3. I love the rawness of this song, the feel and the soul. And I particularly love the middle-eight as Lennon drifts off sounding dreamy I'm in love for the first time, don't you know it's gonna last ...

And I love the footage of The Beatles playing on the roof of the Apple building looking super cool. Imagine if they had gone on tour at this time?

8. I Believe In Miracles - The Jackson Sisters
This still blows my mind every single time I listen to it. I love the power, the groove, the big long intro on the extended version and the skyscarping euphoric vocals, the way they rip through the verses to reach the chorus and the whole way this comes together to sound like it is a remix, but it is the real deal. It just sounds this good, this catchy, this dancey, this groovy.

Believe in dreams and think they are real
And one day soon
The miracle will come true

9. California Soul - Marlena Shaw
I was lucky to catch Marlena Shaw a number of years ago, when the Renfrew Ferry was still moored on the southside of the River Clyde. The reception for this song will live with me forever. It seemed to go on longer than the song itself, such was the reaction, the appreciation, the love for it in the audience.

This is another song I would play (back in the day) when I DJ'd and it would always generate the response I look for. People dancing, people coming up to say 'tune' or people coming up to ask who sings it.

Quite simply perfect. It's controlled yet it still has a sense of euphoria for me. I will always dance to this song.

Like a sound you hear
That lingers in your ear
You can't forget
From sunrise to sunset

10. One To Another - The Charlatans

We end with a monster tune from one of my all-time favourite bands. One To Another is a song I sing most days as I have a framed print at the top of our stairs containing the lyrics be my spider woman, I'll be your spider man.
The first single after the death of Rob Collins, One To Another has a sense of defiance to it, it rocks, it grooves, it explodes and it is utterly magnificent. I think the promo film captures all of that perfectly and I have also included a live version from The White Room - you get the added bonus of Crashin' In. This is my favourite Charlatans TV performance. Look at Tim Burgess gazing on with love and admiration as his band are on fire.

Justice for believers and love can keep the faith
I don't need you, I can't buy you, I can't hurt you