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.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Where's The Playground Susie

Trust me #3
Where's The Playground Susie? by Glen Campbell

The third in a feature. No words from me, just the song and the lyrics.

Trust me .... and check out Where's The Playground Susie?

The end has come and found us here
With our toys scattered all around us here
The puzzle that we never found an answer for
Still asks us darlin' what all the games were for
And here we stand, in a box of sand

Where's the playground Susie?
You're the one who's supposed to know her way around
If I don't stay around
If I don't stay around

The carousel has stopped us here
It twirled a time or two and then it dropped us here
And still you're not content with something about me
But what merry-go-round can you ride without me?
To take your hand
How would you stand?

Where's the playground Susie?
You're the one who's supposed to know her way around
If I don't stay around
If I don't stay around

Where's the playground Susie?
You're the one who's supposed to know her way around
If I don't stay around
If I don't stay around

Written by Jimmy Webb

Wednesday 3 July 2019

I Am I Said

The third in the Trust Me series, no musings or description from me. Just the song and the lyrics.
Trust me and check out I Am, I Said by Neil Diamond.

Kudos to my sister Carla J Easton who played this song on her LP Radio show recently - a belter! Check out the new online station HERE

L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is 'lay back'
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin' about making my way back

Well I'm New York City born and raised
But nowadays
I'm lost between two shores
L.A.'s fine but it ain't home
New York's home
But it ain't mine no more

I am ... I said
To no-one there
And no-one heard at all
Not even the chair

I am ... I cried
I am ... said I
And I am lost and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still

Did you ever read about a frog
Who dreamed of bein' a king
And then became one
Well except for the names
And a few other changes
If you talk about me
The story is the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I've tried
But it won't let me go
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared
For the sound of being alone

I am ... I said
To no-one there
And no-one heard at all
Not even the chair
I am ... I cried
I am ... said I
And I am lost and I can't
Even say why
I am ... I said
I am ... I cried
I am

Previous - Trust Me
1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
2. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells