Friday 28 June 2019

10 from Kylie

I'm really looking forward to Kylie at Glastonbury this Sunday with her hit packed set due to be broadcast live on BBC1. Oh to be there as Kylie takes a sun soaked crowd on a glorious pop journey through her greatest hits. Her new Step Back In Time collection is out today.

Kylie is a pop princess who I grew up with, from Neighbours, through the Stock, Aitken and Waterman years, indie Kylie, duets with Nick Cave, the second coming in the 00's, several heartbreaks, cancer and becoming a national treasure.

Kylie at T in the Park in 1995 was a dream. I was determined to get to the front of the stage and ducked and dived through the crowd, looking round to find I was leading a conga with one guy saying 'we're following you wee man, keep going'. I still regret not buying a Kylie Kat t-shirt in the style of the Kit Kat logo.

The second time I caught Kylie I was in the second row of the SECC Armadillo. What a night that was! My friend Phil and I spent the afternoon in McChuills and jumped a cab. We sang and danced our hearts out. This was post Spinning Around and Kylie was on the way back up after some years in the wilderness. Gold hot pants that Kylie bought in a charity shop became a national talking point!

The third and final time I caught Kylie was in the SECC and again I was right down the front losing it to her pure pop perfection. What a show she put on!

Of course I fancied Kylie, I still do.I love her songs, I love her attitude, her performances and her personality. I think she will be incredible at Glastonbury.

Here are my top 10 favourite Kylie songs

1. Better The Devil You Know

Pure euphoric pop. Hi NRG with Kylie smouldering in a thin black dress. I love Kylie's hair in this one - stunning. I used to play this song when I DJ'd and by the end I would turn the chorus down to hear the crowd singing. Even if it was the first time people had heard it they would be singing along. The power of pop. Pure pop perfection.

2. Spinning Around
This was a kind of comeback single. Kylie hadn't featured in the UK top 10 since 1994's Confide In Me before the release of this incredible pop gem in the summer of 2000. It was everywhere; Kylie was back, Kylie was everywhere and the world seemed like a brighter and happier place.

3. All The Lovers
Dance, it's all I wanna do, so won't you dance?

What a line to open a song and then you have the chorus;

All the lovers that have gone before, they don't compare to you

How would you feel if Kylie sang that to you?!

It's 2010 and this is a different Kylie; more mature, assured, giving advice rather than doubting herself. The song takes off with a glorious synth solo, the video has Kylie crowdsurfing on top of underwear clad models in downtown LA, sounding breathless, sexy, in control.

4. I Believe In You
A co-write with Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters (apparently there is a long lost album of co-writes) this is stunning pop that flows superbly, lifting for the chorus. The synths bubble into action and as the beat kicks in. Pop perfection.

I don't believe I'd love somebody just to pass the time

I, I, I believe in you

5. Love At First Sight
Released in 2002, Kylie was riding high on a run of sensational pop singles that started with Spinning Around and took in Kids with Robbie Williams, Can't Get You Out Of My Head and In Your Eyes.

Kylie bopps about in the video, looking sensational. The song grabs you instantly and takes off into Donna Summer at times. It's Kylie pop brilliance.

6. Can't Get You Out Of My Head
WHAT. A. TUNE! Written by pop genius Cathy Dennis, Can't Get You Out Of My Head is an earworm that you can't get rid of. It is a pretty simple song, but it's hook heavy and the hooks are rammed home.

2000 TO 2002 was peak Kylie for me, a pop princess was crowned during this iconic performance at the Brits when the song was mashed with New Order's Blue Monday. CLASS!

7. Some Kind Of Bliss
A co-write with the Manic St Preachers, this single only reached number 27, incredibly low for Kylie, but I love it. It's indie Kylie, it's refreshing that guitars are to the fore and synths are banished, with key strings underpinning the chorus. And Kylie sound very fresh, natural and it is clear that she is enjoying singing it. Another fave Kylie hairstyle of mine.

8. What Do I Have To Do?
Catchy, cheeky, hi energy pop, this comes during the first of Kylie's two current career peaks (in my opinion). Released in 1991, it was the 3rd single in a glorious run of Better The Devil You Know, Step Back In Time, What Do I Have To Do? and Shocked. The Stock, Aitken and Waterman glory years!

Kylie looks fantastic, smouldering on a throne like chair in a blonde wig, tearing up the dancefloor in as a brunette pixie and looking fresh in a pool. The chorus takes a minute to kick in but when it does it is absolutely HUGE and it is repeated for good measure.

What do I have to do to get the message through
How can I prove I really love you

9. Put Yourself In My Place
It would be easy to place Step Back In Time or Shocked in my top 10, but I'm going for Put Yourself In My Place from 1994. It's a different side to Kylie and I love the way her voice soars when the chorus comes in with the line you know the circle will come around

Kylie had left the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stable that had brought her so much success and signed with indie label DeConstruction. Kylie was now working with the likes of M-People and Brothers in Rythm to widen her artistic credentials.

The video is pretty incredible! Inspired by Barbarella, Minogue floats around in a spaceship shedding her clothes. As an 18-year old this blew my mind!

10. I Should Be So Lucky
It is pure unadulterated pop, simple, catchy and you find yourself singing on first listen ... on every listen. Minogue dancing through her living room and into the bath captivated the world, but the video needed the song with it. What a song; imagination, dreams coming true, lucky in love ....

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Never Ending Mixtape part 37

Welcome to a bonus Never Ending Mixtape for June.

There are songs I have just discovered by the likesThe Rain Parade, Whyte Horses, Jacques Dutronc, Nick Lowe, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Diamond and Paul Westerberg.

Old favourites by the Roses, Lemonheads, the Bunnymen, Charlatans and the Chemical Brothers. And some choice 60's cuts by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (who were incredible in Glasgow at the start of the month), the Rolling Stones the Flying Burrito Brothers and a stunning song by Kle that features on a Brian Wilson tribute album called Caroline Now that I would thoroughly recommend checking out.

You'll need to scroll down to the end of the playlist for the latest additions. Read on to for the full list.

Talking In My Sleep - The Rain Parade
Oh Happy Day (live) - Spiritualized
The Best Of It - Whyte Horses
The Snowfalls - Whyte Horses
She Owns The World - Whyte Horses
Baby Let Me Down - Tommy James and the Shondells
Comes Home Baby - The Charlatans
Live Forever - Oasis
Le responsable - Jacques Dutronc
Oogum Boogum - Alex Chilton
Nowhere To Run - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas
(Love Is Like A) Heatwave - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas
Cruel To Be Kind - Nick Lowe
If I Needed You - Townes Van Zandt
Dyslexic Heart - Paul Westerberg
You Say You Don't Love Me - Buzzcocks
No-one There - Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
It Changes - Amber Arcades
Rushing - Moby
Nothing Ever Lasts Forever - Echo and the Bunnymen
The Cutter - Echo and the Bunnymen
Ten Storey Love Song - Stone Roses
If I Could Talk I'd Tell You - The Lemonheads
Rudderless - The Lemonheads
It's About Time - The Lemonheads
You Can Take It With You - The Lemonheads
Up The Junction - Squeeze
Title Fight - The Charlatans
Pool Hall Richard - The Faces
You Are My Friend - The Rain Parade
Child of the Moon - The Rolling Stones
Hurricane - The Prisoners
Find and Seek - The Prisoners
You Keep Me Hangin' On - The Supremes
Across The Universe - The Beatles
Feel Flows - The Charlatans
Dripping Sun - Kikagaku Moyo
She Said Yeah - The Rolling Stones
I'm Free - The Rolling Stones
Gotta Get Away - The Rolling Stones
Rainbow Eyes - Kle
Life Is Sweet - The Chemical Brothers
Cody Cody - The Flying Burrito Brothers
Christine's Tune - The Flying Burrito Brothers
That's Alright By Me - Gene Clark
I Want You - Bob Dylan
Not Dark Yet - Bob Dylan
Tears - The Chameleons
Life From A Window - The Jam
I Am ... I Said - Neil Diamond

Sunday 23 June 2019

What would the world have been like without The Beatles?

The Guardian feature on what would the world have been like without The Beatles ahead of the new Yesterday film got me thinking ... what would it have been like?!

Would as many kids have picked up guitars and form garage bands in America and beat bands across the UK?

Would kids have grown their hair into that famed moptop that provoked so much debate and imitation? Think of how the band inspired tailors, designers and artists and of course, The Beatles gave us Beatlemania - a way for millions of teenagers to scream and let go of pent up frustration, urges and to express their feelings.

What would the world have been like without these things?

The platform The Beatles had was worldwide; allowing them to discuss the music they listened to, what books they read and what films they watched.

Everyone wanted a piece of the fab four, sometimes literally as hair was snipped, suits were torn and minds were blown. And money was made! See my previous blog on Seltaeb.

The Beatles kicked down the door for the underground, in part because it was the underground that inspired them. Drugs, art, fashion, music, different sounds and ways of thinking - The Beatles were keen to explore, reflecting and amplifying underground scenes from London all the way to San Francisco and in turn inspiring more kids to think that they could do something. The Beatles even went as far as opening the crazy Apple Corps Ltd to give grants to dreamers.

The Beatles got the world singing, talking about love and peace, thinking about art and experimentation in mind, body and music.

As the 60's progressed and The Beatles developed from Love Me Do to All You Need Is Love you had Harrison endorsing Indian meditation, McCartney discussing drugs in mainstream media and living it up on the London arts scene and Lennon going from Lucy In The Sky to Cold Turkey via Give Peace A Chance, oh and he happened to mention that Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink.

The Beatles developed from wide eyed amphetamine fuelled cellars in Liverpool and Hamburg to glazed eyed psychedelic experimenters, aided by George Martin and unlimited studio time. All in the glare of the world who fell in love with them.

Indeed, without The Beatles, the world wouldn't have one of the greatest love stories of all, a story continuing to this day through McCartney and Starr and the ever lasting legacy of Lennon and Harrison. The story of friendship, adventure, luck, hard work, fame and music, not all pretty.

So many have fallen under their spell, discovering the band through parents, elder siblings or via the media's never ending love affair with them. You could start at The End and work your way back, or through Love Me Do up until The End, or somewhere in between,

My own introduction came via a cassette of my Dad's - 20 Greatest Hits. I discovered pure pop, feedback, chiming guitars, riffs, a touch of psychedelia, nursery rhymes, harmonies and rock n roll. Four guys took on the world and won. I was transfixed and bought loads of books, records and old bootleg cassettes from their time in Germany.

What would the world have been like without The Beatles? Imagine not having the thrill of stomping to their take on Twist and Shout, of singing the na, na, na, na chorus to Hey Jude, of marvelling at the production on Sgt Pepper, the flow of side 2 of Abbey Road, the mind blowing Tomorrow Never Knows, b-sides like Rain and shaking your head and singing yeah, yeah, yeah ...

The world would have been darker, less fun and in 8-years The Beatles produced a stunning catalogue of music that showed the world you could change and develop. The Fab Four did it in front of the eyes of the world

Thankfully we had The Beatles, we have them, we'll always have them.

Read on for loads of top 5 lists of my favourite Beatles songs, moments, albums, solo songs and covers ...

Five favourite Beatles songs
1. Don't Let Me Down 2. Got To Get You Into My Life 3. Tomorrow Never Knows 4. Ticket To Ride
5. I Saw Her Standing There

5 from John (in addition to any above) - I Feel Fine, Rain, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey, Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day In The Life

5 from Paul - You Never Give Me Your Money, I'll Follow The Sun, I've Just Seen A Face, I've Got A Feeling, I'm Down

5 from George - Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, It's All Too Much, Here Comes The Sun, If I Needed Someone

Five faves The Beatles covered - You Really Got A Hold On Me, Twist and Shout, Bad Boy, Money (That's What I Want), Please Mr. Postman

.... just rattle your jewellery

Five favourite Beatles albums
1. Revolver 2. Abbey Road 3. The Beatles (White Album) 4. Let It Be 5. Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Five favourite Beatles moments
1. Shea Stadium 
The Beatles on fire, laughing at the absurdity of it all. I once bought a jacket from Topman because it vaguely resembled a Shea Stadium jacket. Lennon playing keys with his elbow is super cool.

2. When John met Paul
6th July 1957. An iconic photograph of Lennon playing with his band The Quarrymen at a garden fete in Liverpool. A young Paul McCartney was there and was introduced to John via Ivan Vaughan who sometimes played tea chest bass with The Quarrymen. McCartney had the confidence to teach John how to properly tune his guitar and show off playing and singing Eddie Cochrane's Twenty Flight Rock and Gene Vincent's Be Bop A Lula.

3. JFK press conference
The Beatles land on American soil and charm the hysterical American press with their natural humour - Elvis impressions, sheer cheek, super confident, poking fun at themselves and Beatlemania. And the scenes outside are just insane. More info HERE

4. All You Need Is Love worldwide broadcast
The height of the summer of love - 25th June 1967. The Beatles perform All You Need Is Love to a worldwide television audience of 400 million. For a brief moment in time maybe 400 million people believed that was true, simpler and more hopeful times.

5. The rooftop show
On a cold 30th January 1969 The Beatles played together for the last time along with Billy Preston on keyboards. They look and sound fantastic. McCartney in black suit, as confident and as cheery as ever; Lennon in fur coat, those classic round granny glasses,  black trousers and converse; Starr looking cold in his red mac but still managing a stoned grin; Harrison rocking a black fur coat with a red shirt and green trousers. Oh to have been on that roof as they played Get Back, Don't Let Me Down, One After 909, Dig A Pony and I've Got A Feeling - various takes of each.

Five favourite Beatles solo songs
1. Watching The Wheels - John Lennon 2. What Is Life - George Harrison 3. Wah Wah - George Harrison 4. Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney 5. Instant Karma - John Lennon

Friday 14 June 2019

Sunshine Of Your Love

Cover version of the month #46

Spanky Wilson covers Cream

Those drums, they really kick, the horns jab hard, again and again, the vocals are so clear, raw, clear and if you don't get tingles down your spine when they rise ....

I'll be with you when the stars start falling

And listen to the way the bass becomes more important through the song as it progresses. Spanky Wilson's cover of Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love is seriously soulful, funky and jazzy. She lets rip and her vocals are jaw droppingly, spine tinglingly good. She is totally 100 percent on it!

Sunshine Of Your Love was originally written and recorded by Cream in 1967, the summer of love. It's slower, heavier and although it is still extremely powerful, for me Spanky Wilson's version blows it out of the water, I could listen to her version 10 times in a row.

I was fortunate to catch her live at The Arches back in the day when she was promoting an album she had recorded with Quantic Soul Orchestra - what a voice. Spanky Wilson's song You is outrageous, I discovered it on a Living In The Streets compilation - wah wah jazz, funky soul and other dirty grooves, I would highly recommend buying a copy.

I think I first came across the song in a Jimi Hendrix documentary when it cuts to him playing Hey Joe on the BBC programme A Happening For Lulu, halfway through he announces he is going to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to the Cream, regardless of what kind of group they may be in, I dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

Hendrix and his band then lock into the groove and play an instrumental over the closing credits, with Hendrix at one stage shouting 'they're trying to throw us off the air'  or words to that effect. Try as I might, I can't locate this on YouTube. It is thrilling television, the best I can find is a mini documentary on it, unfortunately not letting the clip run from start to finish.

Again for me this version is much more thrilling than he original. Hendrix is playing for fun and lets his passion and imagination run wild.

It's not that the original is bad (see further down), it's just that, for me anyway, Wilson and Hendrix take the song to higher places. 

Read on for links to all previous cover versions of the month.

Previous covers of the month

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Shakermaker and Oasis at the Cathouse

Noel Gallagher had a clear vision for Oasis and once he had secured a deal with Creation Records he had a very simple plan to back that up - his band would release a single every few months, like his heroes The Jam had when he was younger. And the singles would have great b-sides.

Gallagher was as good, if not better than his word. Oasis would release 10 singles between the April 1994 release of Supersonic and the February 1996 release of Don't Look Back In Anger, a staggering run that took them from pubs to the verge of Maine Road, Loch Lomond and Knebworth.

Shaker Maker was the second single, arriving on 13th June, only 3-months after Supersonic. The band didn't just release regularly, they toured relentlessly, across the UK, Europe, America and beyond.

After catching them at the Tramway for Radio 1 Sound City and the Supersonic tour, I bagged a ticket to see them at the (original) Cathouse in Glasgow for this promo tour.

I arrived early and the sound of the band soundchecking blared out the venue and into the Glasgow sunshine. Along with others we sang along with many tunes known through Radio 1 live performances and tapes given away with the likes of the NME and Select Magazine. We sang the guitar riff to Supersonic - we were super keen!

The Real People supported and I remember the best of Sly and the Family Stone playing before Oasis came on. The place was bouncing although there was plenty of space, they did play two nights and I was there on the Sunday.

Oasis were exceptional. They opened with Shaker Maker and the guitars sounded massive as the band eased into the groove and Liam sang I'd like to buy the world a coke from the New Seekers song that Noel had pinched the melody from.  Noel teased the riff to Cigarettes and Alcohol a couple of times but then played something else, he would regularly ask the crowd 'reckon we're any good?' fully knowing the answer.

I pogo'd like mad down the front and was swept off my feet at times. I remember the chorus for Up In The Sky and the breakdown section sounding incredible. Noel and Liam walked off towards the end of I Am The Walrus leaving the rest of the band to play on. I remember buzzing off the show for the rest of the week, telling everyone I could about this incredible band.

Later on in June 1994 Oasis would play Glastonbury
Liam Gallagher looked and sounded incredible

Shakermaker came out the following day and I knew it off by heart already. I'd got someone to tape the Radio 1 broadcast show I had attended in April and I'm pretty sure I would have taped the video off the Chart Show on a Saturday morning. It had an energy, although it wasn't what I thought the next single would be, I was holding out for Fade Away that I had heard in demo form from a Select Magazine tape.

Shakermaker was a bit of a holding single, keeping the momentum going for the proper breakthrough that would come when Oasis released Live Forever. It worked a treat. The press were falling for the Gallagher brothers and an interview with John Harris for the NME, later to be released as the 7-inch single Wibbling Rivalry, sent them into overdrive. They looked great, swore, took drugs, played great shows, wrote great songs and wanted to be stars.

Shakermaker has it's strengths, but the b-sides were more interesting for me.

Noel's D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman is a beauty, balancing dreams with reality and potential regret, talking of having bills to pay and forgetting the simplicity of climbing trees and dreaming.

The town where we're living has made you a man
And all of your dreams are washed away in the sand

Alive is another Noel song where his doubts about being left behind come out, but he also seems to be egging himself on. It's a song I would have loved Oasis to have recorded properly, but the 8-track demo version captures a moment in time with Noel's frustrations and fears coming out in the lyrics, Liam's voice developing and the guitar sound beginning to come through.

The live version of Bring It On Down begins with Liam shouting Good evening Great Britain and is believed to come from a 1993 radio session, although I've never read of this being confirmed anywhere. The power of this song is evident and the band tear through it. Alan McGee wanted this to be Oasis' debut single and you can hear why, with the guitars, lyrics and delivery it's the Sex Pistols updated for 1994.

You're the outcast, you're the underclass
But you don't care, because you're living fast 

Scroll down for the Shakermaker video, the bands Top of the Pops debut playing the song, rare footage of the band performing on Naked City and Noel being interviewed, Glastonbury footage and also rare footage from earlier in 1994 when they played a Sony event at Gleneagles hotel.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Never Ending Mixtape Part 36

Pop genius Brian Wilson

And so my Never Ending Mixtape passes the 1,000 song mark. And, even if I do say so myself, it does so in style with some stupendous tunes.

There are tunes to dance to, get lost in, swoon and melt over, sing to, play air guitar to and fall in love with. Some of these tunes have lived with me for years or decades, others are tunes I have just discovered.

The Nearest Faraway Place is an instrumental by The Beach Boys that will let you drift off into a daydream, Another Boy Like Mine (demo) will hit you hard and you'll fall, Iko Iko is like a playground song full of simplistic joy and Tommy and the Shondells are my new favourite 60's band with Crimson and Clover shooting high into my favourite songs ever list. I must write that down sometime!

Elsewhere we have the Velvets, Glasgow's Sonny Marvello, Love, incredible songwriting and performance by Shuggie Otis, the sensational David Axelrod, a pysh garage gem by Os Mutantes, the sensational First Cut Is The Deepest by PP Arnold and much, much, much more.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click below. You'll need to scroll right down to get to the latest additions.

NEW TIP - if you go to filter at the top and type in Out on the Floor and click play, it should play the songs in the order below.

Read on for the full list of 30-songs that have been added.

Out on the Floor - Dobie Gray
Sidewinder - Teenage Fanclub
Alone Again Or - Love
Who Loves The Sun? - The Velvet Underground
Outdoor Miner - Wire
Fire Went Out - Sonny Marvello
My Little Red Book - Love
Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
The Nearest Faraway Place - The Beach Boys
Love and Mercy - Brian Wilson
All I Wanna Do - The Beach Boys
Another Boy Like Mine (demo) - Ellie Greenwich
Strawberry Letter 23 - Shuggie Otis
Holy Thursday - David Axelrod
A Minha Menina - Os Mutantes
The First Cut Is The Deepest - PP Arnold
Tighten Up Pt 1 - Archie Bell and the Drells
Sinnerman - Nina Simone
Iko Iko - The Dixie Cups
Friday On My Mind - The Easybeats
I Was Made To Love Her - Stevie Wonder
Runaway - Del Shannon
Crimson and Clover - Tommy James and the Shondells
This Will Be Our Year - The Zombies
You're Gonna Miss Me - The 13th Floor Elevators
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly - Ennio Morricone
The Ecstasy Of Gold - Ennio Morriconne
Out In The Streets - The Shangri-Las
Draggin' The Line - Tommy James and the Shondells