Tuesday 23 April 2019

Our Lips Are Sealed

Cover version of the month #45 (well, kind of)

This is a cover version that's kind of not a cover version as Our Lips Are Sealed was written by Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's and Terry Hall of The Specials who later went on to form Fun Boy Three.

The Go-Go's and The Specials toured together in 1980 and the two got together (in more ways than one) to write the song.

I've been aware of the Fun Boy Three version for a long time and, like many cover versions I feature, I thought it was the original. It was only last week I discovered that The Go-Go's had recorded it first back in 1981, before Hall, with Fun Boy Three, would record and release it in 1983.

For me the Fun Boy Three version is absolute perfection. I think I first heard it on a post-punk mix tape on a bus to Manchester to see United. I used to go down regularly and there was a group of guys a decade or so older than me who had great taste in, and knowledge about, punk and new wave music. I heard loads of great stuff through their mixtapes.

Like many songs I love, Our Lips Are Sealed flows superbly, it really doesn't let up. Male and female vocals combine beautifully, Hall singing with drummer June Miles-Kingston, there are huge synths, a funky guitar riff in the background throughout and continuous beats that help bring everything together and drive the song.

It sounds perfectly 80's yet also perfectly timeless.... if that makes sense!

The Go-Go's version is more upbeat, more pop, yet still fresh, the energy of the vocals leaps out, Belinda Carlisle sounds angelic at times during the hush my darling, don't you cry section before sounding raw, soulful and full of purpose in the can you hear them, they talk about us, telling lies, well that's surprise section.

In addition to Carlisle's stunning lead, there are glorious backing vocals, handclaps, shimmering guitar riffs, driving bass and a simple pop beat, all combining deliciously.

For the first time in this regular feature I don't think I can choose a favourite version. I loved the song from the first time I heard it and now I love it even more from knowing its history and through The Go-Go's version.

Check the fun, sunshine pop promo from The Go-Go's below and see if you can decide. It totally makes me wish I could have seen them live back in 1981!

Read on for a full list of cover versions of the month to date complete with links.

Previous covers of the month

Monday 22 April 2019

Music for Megastructures

A score for a city that does no exist yet is how L-Space describe Music for Megastructures, their second album, released only 7-months after their beautiful debut Kipple Arcadia.

Music for Megastructures has the ambition and inventiveness that was displayed throughout the debut, but it feels even more widescreen, the fact that it is instrumental allows the band more scope to play. This is electronic psychedelia with no boundaries and L-Space allow their imagination to run wild.

L-Space - Dickson, Gordon, Lily, Stephen

The 20-track album has 4 themes; travel, work, health and life and is full of clever, humorous and beautiful song titles like Lots Of Colourful Lights At All Times Of Day And Night, A Sleepy Robot Watches Over A Barely Used Car Park, Browsing The Latest Pharmaceuticals At The Hospital Drive-Thru and Gambling In Virtual Reality With Real Life Consequences.

I love to see a band push on after their debut and L-Space have wasted no time at all in doing just that and they have already posted online that they are hard at work on album number 3.

Lily Higham, Gordon Johnstone, Dickson Telfer and Stephen Farrell are an intriguing band of outsiders who are (relatively) quietly and quickly building up a stunning catalogue of songs.

They have some shows coming up and expect more to be announced.

As this is hot on the heels of their debut, Music for Megastructures is a digital release. You'll find it on all the usual streaming and download sites. Check it out along with the rest of their current catalogue via their own Bandcamp page below.

28/04 - Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
28/06 - Cumberland Arms, Newcastle
07/07 - Kelburn Garden Party
27/07 - The Tunnels, Aberdeen

Saturday 20 April 2019

Velocity Girl

Edie Sedgwick, inspiration for Velocity Girl

33-years after its original release in as the b-side to Crystal Crescent, Primal Scream's Velocity Girl is as pure and as perfect as ever. In the same year it was released the song would open the NME's seminal C86 cassette compilation, going on to inspire bands to pick up guitars and let them jangle and chime.

Early Primals

Somewhere in Manchester, a young John Squire picked up a copy and it is notable how the Stone Roses sound changed from the punk debut So Young b/w Tell Me in 1985 and the songs collected on the Garage Flower compilation to 1987's Sally Cinnamon.

It is easy to hear why the song inspires. Velocity Girl is 82-seconds of a sugar pop rush, a guitar is strummed and a beat kicks in with Bobby Gillespe singing about a girl he is seemingly infatuated by but also aware of how much she could hurt him.

The vocals are over in under a minute following a plea of leave me alone, allowing time for the chiming guitars to take centre stage to drive the song to conclusion.

Velocity Girl is short, but it packs a perfect knockout punch.

Here she comes again, with vodka in her veins
Been playing with a spike, she couldn't get it right

Spelndour in silver dress, velocity possessed
The world was hers against fell apart again

I don't need anyone to hurt me, no not anyone at all
Cause my so called friends have left me
And I don't care at all

Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone

Remastered ahead of its inclusion on Primal Scream's forthcoming singles compilation Maximum Rock N Roll, the single is out now digitally before a limited 7-inch is released on 24th May, it's first repress since 1986.

The video featuring a modern Bobby Gillespe spliced with footage of Edie Sedgwick (Andy Warhol) from the film Ciao! Manhattan.

I had an Edie Sedgwick type character in mind when I wrote Velocity Girl. I read Jean Stein's biography about her and I wanted to meet a girl like that. Hanging out with Warhol, The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and shooting speed while looking absolutely fabulous. Super hip and beautiful. She was the muse. I love her.

Bobby Gillespe

Monday 15 April 2019

Song #3 by Marvin Gaye

Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye is one of a few select albums that I own on both vinyl and CD format. It is one of many classics made by a truly incredible artist. Gaye was in a particularly rich vein of form in the early 70's, beginning with the epic What's Goin' On released in 1971, leading into the sexually charged Let's Get It On, then the frank I Want You, before the incredible Here, My Dear an album recorded, in part, to pay for a divorce settlement with Anna Gordy, sister of Motown head honcho Berry.

Yesterday I was playing some music through my phone (on speakers) on Spotify in the kitchen and decided I wanted to revisit the album. I found that the online version was essentially a super deluxe edition with many unreleased songs, instrumentals, demos and alternate versions

The first bonus song is simply titled Song #3 - Instrumental. It is simply sublime, I must have listened to it over a dozen times since I first heard it. Credited as a co-write to Gaye and the conductor David Van De Pitte it has flowing strings, funk wah wah guitar, piano, cool grooves, a simple beat and horns that become more prominent as the song progresses. It's Gaye with the Funk Brothers and more.

The strings become more playful at times, including a beautiful 10-seconds at  2 minutes and 18 seconds in, it really is stunning. The pace and the horns pick up at 3 minutes 30 seconds and the closing 2-minutes is just breathtaking in terms of quality and beauty.

It sounds like it may have been recorded live, certainly going by the brilliant reaction from a few musicians at the end with one heard to say 'that is a bitch, that is a bitch'.

I'm still making my way through all the bonus tracks, but this one moved me so much that I felt I had to share it. Check it out below and you'll get the deluxe edition with all the bonus tracks on Spotify/YouTube etc. More info about the album HERE.

Thursday 11 April 2019


25-years ago today, 4-days after catching the band for the first time at the Tramway where they supported label mates The Boo Radleys as part of Radio 1's Sound City, I walked up to HMV in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, during my lunch hour to buy Supersonic, the debut single by Oasis.

I was falling for the band big time and was eager to explore the 4-tracks on the CD single, I also bought the 7-inch the following week and continued to collect both through the bands career.

Pre internet, iTunes and streaming etc, you could only hear songs live, on the radio or if you bought them. It is a time I often reminisce about, there was a sense of anticipation and eagerness around a release and I spent much more time with releases and albums than I admit to doing these days. You had to, you had invested in them, you took a chance or believed in a band. You followed and supported them like a football team. Thankfully I've supported a lot of bands that I fell for in my teens through to the present day and they have largely rewarded me.

The music weeklies had described Oasis as a cross between Happy Mondays and Sex Pistols and Supersonic lived up to that comparison. Starting with a primitive beat, guitars then squall and feedback into a riff and we're off, with a young 21-year old Liam Gallagher giving advice to himself, to others and making a statement about how he is feeling.

I need to be myself
I can't be no-one else
I'm feeling supersonic
Give me gin and tonic
You can have it all but how much do you want it?

From the start Oasis were themselves, in interviews, on stage and in person. They could have it all and oh how they wanted it. They went for it big time, early on Noel stated that he wanted to release singles as regularly as The Jam, they were backed with excellent b-sides, and the band toured relentlessly, not only in the UK, but across Europe and the States.

Supersonic is full of urgency, in the guitars, vocals, delivery, production and in some of the lyrics. Some of them are gibberish, while others seem to be Noel Gallagher sizing up where he is in life, a theme that recurs through a lot of the early Oasis material.

You need to find a way for what you want to say
But before tomorrow

Alan MacGee had wanted the punky Bring It On Down to be the debut single, but Supersonic, apparently written by Noel while the rest of the band were having a Chinese takeaway, was perfect.

I caught Oasis for the second time at the old Cathouse (before it moved into the centre of town) in June and as a group of us hung outside in the sunshine waiting for the venue to open we could hear Oasis soundchecking and kids sung along to Noel's guitar riffs in Supersonic.

Oasis were about to go Supersonic. From the release of their debut single in April through to December they would release 5 singles and Definitely Maybe. With b-sides like Fade Away, Listen Up, Half the World Away and a non-album single in Whatever, in 9-months Oasis had released more quality material than many bands would release in a career. They didn't let up through 1995 but we'll save that for another blog.

Speaking of b-sides;

Take Me Away is beautiful, sung and performed by Noel Gallagher, the song shows a different side to Oasis than the ram it down your throat a-side of Supersonic. It's gentle, tender, melancholic and has a lovely double chorus second time around, something that Noel would use to great effect through his Oasis days.

There is a huge sense of frustration balanced with the need for escapism and dreams in a lot of early Oasis songs and I Will Believe (live) is one that captures that perfectly. Gallagher's lyrics talk of being locked up in chains, lost at sea,  down on his knees, the man in the middle and not knowing his own mind. They are delivered superbly by his younger brother and there is a classic Noel guitar solo.

And then we come on to the Columbia (demo) which has a monster groove and feel to it. To this day I regret not buying the 12-inch white label promo when I saw it in Missing Records for £20 back when it came out. It would be worth a lot more now! The power of Columbia is enormous, highlighted when Oasis chose to open their huge Knebworth shows with it.

Oasis had arrived. See below for live footage of the band performing Supersonic on The Word (their TV debut) in April 1994, also live in 1995 from Earls Court where Liam is looking and sounding and incredible, lastly footage of the band performing Columbia at the Chicago Metro in November that year, a show that many in the Oasis camp still cite as one of there best ever performances.

Saturday 6 April 2019

Never Ending Mixtape Part 34

Welcome to the latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify. The mixtape approaches 1,000 songs with additions from favourite bands, brand new bands, recent releases, classics and new discoveries.

Last month I discovered Amazing Grace, the live album Aretha Franklin recorded at a church in LA over 2 nights back in 1972 backed by a gospel choir. It is astonishing. There are a few songs included in the recent additions and I look forward to checking out the documentary that will be released in cinemas next month. Check the trailer below and the songs on the playlist.

Elsewhere we have a couple of songs from BMX Bandits more recent catalogue, the raw and soulful Razorblades and Honey and the tug on your heart strings The Unforgiven, both are real favourites of mine with 2 of my favourite vocals from Duglas T Stewart. With Spring in the air (at the time of writing) we have the joyful Check My Heart by The Pastels and also Automatically Yours from their classic Up For A Bit With The Pastels album that I might write a future blog on.

There is new music from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever who play Saint Lukes in Glasgow this July, also from Lambchop and from a local band Pocket Knife who I really like. They play Mono on Saturday April 27th and it is FREE entry. More new local music from a band called The Plastic Youth who sound very promising.

There are all kinds of gems to check; pop punk perfection from Buzzcocks, some Hacienda favourites after I re-read Peter Hooks excellent How Not To Run A Club, old school Dinosaur Jr, a beauty from Graham Coxon,  stunning northern soul from Carolyn Crawford, an extended Bittersweet Symphony from The Verve, early Aztec Camera and as I hadn't listened to Beck in a while there are 5 songs stretching across his eclectic back catalogue.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click below. Dig in, enjoy. Read on for a full list of the latest additions.

Razorblades and Honey - BMX Bandits and Anton Newcombe
The Unforgiven - BMX Bandits
Automatically Yours - The Pastels
I Live For That Look - Dinosaur Jr
In the Capital - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery - Graham Coxon
Check My Heart - The Pastels
Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Have) - Buzzcocks
Keep Stepping (Never Look Back) - Carolyn Crawford
Climbing Higher Mountains (live) - Aretha Franklin
Never Grow Old (live) - Aretha Franklin
How I Got Over (live) - Aretha Franklin
My Sweet Lord (live intrumental version) - Aretha Franklin
Witchi Tai  To - Harpers Bizarre
Never My Love - The Association
Custard Cream - Pocket Knife
Crosswords or What This Says About You - Lambchop
Many Faces- James
Moving On - James
Bittersweet Symphony (extended version) The Verve
Express Yourself - N.W.A.
Your Love Is Taking Me Over - SK Project
Runaway - The Salsoul Orchestra
Theme For Great Cities - Simple Minds
Love Sensation (Shep Pettibone 12 inch mix) - Loletta Holloway
We Could Send Letters - Aztec Camera
Twisterella - Ride
Jack-Ass - Beck
Nobody's Fault But My Own - Beck
Get Real Paid - Beck
Guess I'm Doing Fine - Beck
Heart Is A Drum - Beck
Comfort - The Plastic Youth