Tuesday 23 June 2020

Didn't Know What I Was In For

Trust Me #12 

Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Center

I'm a little late to the party, but this week I've really fallen for the songs and talent of Phoebe Bridgers.

Bridgers has just released Punisher, her follow up to her 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps. In between times Bridgers formed the band boygenius with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, releasing a self-titled 6-song EP on Matador Records. Bridgers also wrote and recorded an album with Conor Oberst under the name Better Oblivion Community Center

I've been blown away by Bridgers, I've not listened to anything other than the releases mentioned above all week. I'll be blogging on her latest album very soon. Probably everything else as well!

In the meantime, I've really fallen for Didn't Know What I Was In For, the opening track on the Better Oblivion Community Center album. I can't recall falling for a song quite so hard in some time.

A warm acoustic strum ushers us in and pretty soon Bridgers voice is weaving its spell. The lyrics tell a tale quite beautifully, the melody feels familiar, it flows so sweetly.

Oberst joins Bridgers on the third verse beginning I didn't know what I was in for, when I signed up for that run followed by the stunning line there's no way I'm curing cancer, but I'll sweat it out.

The songwriting is clever and compelling, the vocals and melody demand you listen (in a nice way), the playing and production are so warm, really capturing something magical.

Trust me - check this song out and everything else Phoebe Bridgers has released. Links to the previous 11 songs featured in the Trust Me series are at the bottom of this blog.

My telephone, it doesn't have a camera
If it did I'd take a picture of myself
If it did I'd take a picture of the water
And the man on the off-ramp
Holding up the sign that's asking me for help

I got a job and I'll work here for the summer
I fold the towels and set them by the pool
Everyone looks happy with each other
'Til they step away and say the thing they really meant
They always sound so cruel

I didn't know what I was in for
When I signed up for that run
There's no way I'm curing cancer
But I'll sweat it out
I feel so proud now for all the good I've done

I know the girl who owns a boutique in the city
Selling clothes to the fashionably late
Says she cried at the news but doesn't really
'Cause it's too much fun, it's too much time
And too much plastic money to be made

I didn't know what I was in for
When they took my belt and strings
They told me I'd gone crazy
My arms are strapped in a straight jacket
So I couldn't save those TV refugees

When they're on their backs
In a bloody bath
Full of sarin gas
On a screen

I didn't know what I was in for
When I laid out in the sun
We get burned for being honest
I've never really done anything, for anyone

To fall asleep I need white noise to distract me
Otherwise I have to listen to me think
Otherwise I pace around, hold my breath, let it out
Sit on the couch and think about
How living's just a promise that I made

Written by Conor Oberst / Phoebe Bridgers
Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd

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
8. The Music Box by Ruth Copeland
9. The Ship Song by Nick Cave
10. Sometimes by James
11. I Walk The Earth by King Biscuit Time

Monday 15 June 2020

DJ Andy Smith

Welcome to a short blog to highlight the DJ Andy Smith and his impeccable taste in music. I recently discovered his mini northern soul mix on YouTube where Andy dives into his record collection, pulls something out and mixes it with ease. Check it out below, visually and sonically brilliant!

I have a number of Andy's compilations. His 1998 mix album The Document set a very high bar and led to follow up mixes that have become exceptionally highly sought after on vinyl.

One of my favourite compilations in my collection is Andy Smith's Northern Soul double vinyl from 2005. I discovered so many fantastic songs that I hadn't heard before, including the exceptional My Little Girl (instrumental) by Bob and Earl Band. Well worth checking down on discogs.

In the meantime, back to my recent discovery of Andy Smith showing taste and skills on YouTube, mixing northern soul 45's in 6-minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday 14 June 2020

Nothing Compares 2 U

Cover version of the month #55
Sinead O'Connor covers Prince

Sinead O'Connor's version of Nothing Compares 2 U must rank highly in the best cover versions of all-time chart.

As can happen in this regular feature on the blog, I discover new things about the song, or footage I haven't seen before. The footage of Prince rehearsing in the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse, Minnesota, in the summer of 1984 is electrifying to watch. A times Prince looks totally wired, he pulls out all his James Brown moves, he's up on the drum riser, he looks super cool, lean, muscular, fit and completely 100 percent in the zone, pushing himself and his band, lost in the music.

Phew! It is stunning to watch and the song and footage may well leave you breathless.  This is the original version of the song that Prince would also record with his band The Family. He just couldn't stop writing or playing!

The simple riff played on a keyboard leads to more dramatic guitar, bass and drum flourishes and a golden vocal from Prince, aching with soulful reflection

Since you been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing, I said nothing can take away these blues
Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you

It's been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song

Prince has been burned bad, so heartbroken he goes to the doctor but rejects his advice to have fun, he's so caught up in his lost love. Listen to Prince's voice breaking and aching when he sings the verse all the flowers that you planted Mama

The soul, the drama, the musicianship .... are just incredible. What a song.

However, the original version was unreleased until 2018! And back in 1984 it was released on an album by a Prince side project, his funk band The Family, such was the volume of music pouring out of him. It was tucked away on an album and received little acclaim or recognition. I should state that in 1984 Prince released his Purple  Rain album on the back of his 1999 album. He wasn't short of acclaim!

Six years later, Sinead O'Connor took the song across the world with a stripped back emotive and soulful version. The accompanying video, largely consisting of a headshot, the shorn haired O'Connor belts it our with soul, anger and emotion, shedding a real tear, captivated millions.

Strings usher O'Connor's version in, immediately creating a different feel. The strings, like O'Connor's voice, pull you in to to her heart. She sounds absolutely devastated and lets it all out, her voice reflective and almost soothing at times, but within seconds it can soar.

The Network Forty wrote that "when Sinead sang Nothing Compares 2 U, seas calmed, angels wept and Top 40 radio stood still to listen to this powerful expression of unrequited love."

Mark Richardson from Pitchfork said "you have to look pretty hard to find a better expression in pop music of the void that exists when a relationship ends."

O'Connor delivers something truly spellbinding with her version of Nothing Compares 2 U. I would have been 14 in 1990 and I vividly remember the whole family watching O'Connor deliver the song on Top of the Pops. Her version is gut wrenching, heart breaking, tears are in your eyes and hers, you are with her, every step of the way, you feel her hurt, her anger, every ounce of her emotion.

Previous covers of the month
13. Hurt

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Never Ending Mixtape part 49

My Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify is approaching 100 hours, 4 solid days of listening!

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or follow the link below.

There is a mix of soul, classic songwriting, indie gems, electronica ... a little bit of everything. Dig in and thanks for checking it out. New additions include;

Just out - I'm really enjoying the Suddenly album by Caribou and a few songs are added to the mixtape. Also check my sister's new single Get Lost. Summer synth pop perfection, a newbie by The Flaming Lips and also something really dreamy by Roddy Woomble.

Recent discovery - Guess I'm Dumb by Glen Campbell is sensational / I Don't Need Love, I've Got My Band by The Radio Dept. is excellent

Rediscovery - Hearing Glasgow's Andrew Divine close a live online DJ set with Small Faces Tin Soldier sent me back to explore their catalogue

Read on for a full list of new additions.

The Black Sun - Jo Mango
Take the Long Way Home - Randolph's Leap
Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
Everyday - Buddy Holly
Elephant Man - Bo Didley
I'll Keep Holding On - The Marvelettes
The Hardest Walk - The Jesus and Mary Chain
Tin Soldier - Small Faces
Green Circles - Small Faces
The Autumn Stone - Small Faces
Afterglow (Of Your Love) - Small Faces
Every Fallen In Love - Buzcocks
Pleasant Valley Sunday - Carole King
All I Have To Do Is Dream - The Everley Brothers
I Don't Need Love, I've Got My Band - The Radio Dept.
Valentina - Public Service Broadcasting
Two Front Teeth - Carla J Easton
I Can't Explain - The Who
We Should Never Have Children - Absentee
Lorelei - Cocteau Twins
She Bangs The Drums - Stone Roses
Guess I'm Dumb - Glen Campbell
Flowers Of Neptune 6 - The Flaming Lips
Out of Reach - Bananagun
La femme d'argent - Air
One Minute Out of the World - Roddy Woomble
Skreevar - Erland Cooper
Never Come Back - Caribou
Home - Caribou
Bees - Caribou
Thoughts of You - Dennis Wilson

Monday 8 June 2020

Anorak Patch

It's been a while since I blogged on a brand new band. Lockdown has caused me to look back to favourite bands and albums, rather than search for new music. A recent discovery reminded me how exciting it can be to fall for an emerging, new, young band.

Based in Colchester, teenage band Anorak Patch (top marks for a super cool indie name) are currently receiving airplay on 6 Music from Steve Lamaq and Tom Robinson. With a 13-year old drummer who used to play guitar but switched to drums so he didn't have to stand up, this is a young band displaying bundles of infectious angular teen punk energy. They currently have 3-songs on YouTube so I thought I would check them out.

Art punk pop humour is all over Beans, their debut recent single. This is a band who must have been raiding their parents Britpop albums and found albums by Elastica and early Blur. The guitar in particular is very reminiscent of Graham Coxon. This is the sound of a band having fun!

When I was young, I used to run
Down the street, cause I was searching for sweets

Anorak Patch are brothers Oscar (guitar) and Luca Ryland (drums) and Effie Lawrence (keyboards) and Eleanor Helliwell (bass).

6 Week Party mixes more thrashy punky guitar with clearer vocals, a gorgeous extended dreamy breakdown before a Blur style closing section where the guitar stops and starts. The vocals by Effie Lawrence are immediately captivating, the production is excellent and this is the most 'mature' song out of the 3 available.

6-weeks, 42-days, is too long, is far too long
Woke up and my hair was gone

Speech To Text is noisy brashy and infectious with drummer Luca taking on lead vocals. Again, I can't help but think of the frantic energy of some early Blur songs. The video, with guitarist Oscar in an old charity shop blazer and bassist Eleanor standing tall and looking chilled, also reminded me of Blur. The guitar playing is excellent and a cool melancholic keyboard riff underpins the thrashy guitar and drums.

Anorak Patch have so many exciting elements coming together; their youth, energy, that sense of experiment with their ability, instruments and sound -  they are still finding themselves. I look forward to hearing what they come up with next. I can imagine them playing in one of Glasgow's basement venues; Sleazys, Broadcast or The Hug and Pint ... who know when that might be! They certainly have youth on their side!

Wednesday 3 June 2020

10 from The Charlatans

The Charlatans are one of my all-time favourite bands. I've been following them since the age of 15 back in 1991 when songs like White Shirt, Then and The Only One I Know would regularly get included on school common room mixtapes.

The band were prolific; releasing debut LP Some Friendly in 1990 and Between 10th and 11th in 1992. During this period there were also non-album singles like debut Indian Rope while in 1991 they released both Over Rising and Me. In Time.

Since then the band have matched quality with quantity, releasing 13 albums and 22 top 40 singles, many with fantastic b-sides like Title Fight, Your Skies Are Mine and Happen To Die.

Lets not forget some of the brilliant remixes from the likes of The Chemical Brothers/Dust Brothers, Brian Jonestown Massacre and the superbly named Luvdup and Van Basten take on Feel Flows.

The BJM remix of So Oh is like a lysergic lullaby, absolutely gorgeous. Check it out below.

I have easily seen the band more than 30-times. The Barrowland is like a home from home for them. Their shows through the 1990's in the legendary ballroom were like Cup Finals, Tim Burgess was the midfield playmaker, patrolling the stage in complete command, looking super cool and conducting his band and the crowd. I still remember people crowd surfing to tunes the warm up DJ played before one particular show, such was the atmosphere and sense of occasion.

At a scorching hot T in the Park in 1995 they whipped up a dust storm from the dry ground as they blasted the Main Stage. I caught them a number of times at the festival through to 2004/5 and the Up At The Lake album when Tim then joined The Chemical Brothers at the Slam Tent the next day, still wearing the same clothes after partying hard.

I was down at Knebworth to see Oasis in 1996 and The Charlatans played an absolute stormer of a support slot, emotions and adrenaline were running high as the band played only weeks after losing Rob Collins in a tragic car crash. I was so proud of the band that day.

Tim arriving at Knebworth
The raw emotionally charged performance was exceptional

Their appearance on The White Room from this time is my favourite Charlatans TV performance. Look at Jon Brookes on the drums during Crashin' In and Tim looking on in complete admiration at Jon and the rest of his band as they really go for it. Outstanding!

I fell big time for the band, queueing to get records signed at Tower Records in 1994, tracking down vinyl, buying all their released and going to see them whenever they played in Glasgow. 4 albums from 1990-1995! So many great singles and b-sides.

Burgess was (and is) my favourite front man. His infectious cheeky smile, glint in his eye, up for a good time vibe, his t-shirts, his jackets, super cool hair and on stage groove made me and others gaze up at stages across the world wanting to be him for a night. His belief and energy lift his band and audience.

Backed by Mark Collin on guitar (who I think is personally very under-rated as a guitarist), Martin Blunt on funky bass, the sensational Jon Brookes on drums and the wizards Rob Collins and then Tony Rogers on hammond and keys, The Charlatans could lock into grooves and take their fans on a trip.

They have rarely paused for breath. And if the band have, Burgess has busied himself with solo albums, books, running a record label and his #TimsTwitterListeningParty that is bringing music fans together during these unprecedented times when we can't go to gigs.

Looking back over their discography, the run of albums and singles from 1994-97 in particular was sensational, they all kind of blurred and merged together. 3 albums and 10 singles! Up To Our Hips, The Charlatans and Tellin' Stories; rammed with singles and other gems.

I was 18-21 during this period and it was never long between a Charlatans release or a gig. I always had something to look forward to with the band, they were with me, I was with them.

And that is true to this day with the band and through Tim ... there is always something going on with them ... a book, a street takeover, listening parties, solo albums, shows ....

In the summer of 1997 I played Tellin' Stories constantly. I'd have it on my personal CD player for the train to work and then walk through Glasgow city centre fantasising that I was Tim walking about like he did in the video for North Country Boy, a song I played non-stop. I'd arrive in work and urge people to buy the album. How good is the new Charlatans album? became a catchphrase.

Us And Us Only (1999) is one of my favourite Charlatans albums, I really love the playing, the feel and the space on this particular album. Sunshine vibes and Tim's falsetto on Wonderland (2001) mixed things up again, Right On from that album is a real favourite of mine.

Up At The Lake (2004) was pretty loose, Try Again Today is a beauty of a song while my wife quoted Loving You Is Easy in our wedding vows. I have fond memories of watching the band at T in the Park around this time and my brother turning to me and my sister as the band launched into As I Watch You In Disbelief and shouting I f**king love this song! So I always think of him when I hear it.

The Simpatico album in 2006 is my least visited album from the band, although it does contain the outstanding Blackened Blue Eyes.

You Cross My Path in 2008 was (for me) a resounding return to form. A sober and straight Burgess seemed re-energised as the band initially released the album as a free download via XFM before bringing it out in physical format a few months afterwards. The stomping Oh! Vanity through to the glorious BIRD fading into This Is The End is the sound of The Charlatans on fire.

The swift follow up of Who We Touch (2010) highlighted that the band were in a rich vein of form, armed with lots of ideas and materials. Revisiting the album for this blog caused me to remember what an excellent song Trust In Desire is.

Modern Nature (2015) was released following the death of Jon Brookes after he bravely fought a brain tumour. It was a triumph of an album with strong singles and excellent album tracks like Emilie which is a real gem. Again the band were rich with material and the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition are excellent, for me We Sleep On Borrowed Time and Walk With Me should have been on the album

Different Days (2017) came out with the band bursting with ideas. They had a very different day to promote it, taking over Manchester's Oldham Street for a day and continuing to do things differently by holding their own small festival in Northwich. Plastic Machinery is classic Charlatans, the title track is beautiful, as is Hey Sunrise and the closing Spinning Out. There is a calmness to them, mellow reflection.

What a journey! What a band! What an exceptional back catalogue! How on earth do I only choose 10 favourites when I have so many?

Well I've mentioned quite a few in this blog already and I'd also like to add in Happen To Die (long version), Get On It, Tellin' Stories, Weirdo, Can't Even Be Bothered, Feel Flows ... in fact there is too many ...

Here are 10 of my favourite Charlatans songs.

Come Home Baby
I was so happy when The Charlatans backed up the excellent So Oh single with this. What a tune! The way the song lifts to lead into the chorus always brings a smile to my face. This became a bit of a tune for me and my eldest daughter Zoe who was 3 when it was released and her sister was just a baby. I have so many happy memories of playing this song in our house and car and me and Zoe singing along.

I can't wait, don't hesitate
Let's be together

Crashin' In
I've already mentioned this song and please watch the White Room performance video from earlier in the blog. The energy leaps out immediately from Mark Collins guitar, there is an urgency to Tim's voice and the rest of the band drive things along. The band are on fire. I love the change in pace after 90-seconds with Tim just shouting oh yeah, and the band just get lost in a jam. They do it again later in the song and I love the looseness and the energetic vibe to the song.

See me, I can feel it coming around

Complete Control
I remember Tim posting a demo of this song on the old Charlatans forum. I fell for it instantly and a full version appeared as a b-side to Oh! Vanity. Complete Control is kind of like Tim fronting his beloved New Order. There is a very strong melody as Tim talks of being tired of used, tired of being told what to do, by idiots like you

Could perfectly tie in with The Charlatans taking complete control through the self release of their You Cross My Path album. I love this song, sounds like it came together really easily.

The Blind Stagger
The Charlatans played the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow on 22nd October 1999, the night before my brothers 21st birthday. We spent the night in McChuills bar and then at the show before getting back to our local pub just in time for midnight to celebrate.

Coming on stage the band played the long intro of Forever, with Tim coming on after a few minutes to rapturous applause and they delivered one of my all-time favourite Charlatans shows. I really love the Us and Us Only album. Tim's love of Dylan comes through and we see a different side to the band.

The Blind Stagger is such a beautiful song. Guitars are to the fore, Burgess is in full flow. There is a brilliant instrumental, things break down before lifting euphorically

Oh let the light shine
Could you for once be strong
I bleed a little too

Sproston Green
The closing song from debut album Some Friendly and the traditional set closer, Sproston Green is a monster of a song. The band often stretch it out to 10-minutes when they play live, jamming a slow groove into the song, teasing the crowd, building up, creating tension before finally exploding into life.

This one knows, she comes and goes
And when she goes, she goes

This live version from 1995 at the London Astoria perfectly captures the heady atmosphere of Charlatans shows from this time (I describe them as cup finals earlier in the blog). Audiences were up for it, this was a night out to dance and sing.

Burgess is on one here, looking and sounding super cool and his band whip up a storm.

The Only One I Know
A monster of a tune that I have seen many a gig and dancefloor explode to. The bass, drums, wah wah guitar and stabbing hammond chords immediately create a funky and welcoming vibe and then Burgess comes in talking about the only one I see, has found an aching in me

The chorus is pretty remarkable for such a young band to write;

Everyone has been burned before
Everybody knows the pain

The breakdown instrumental at 2-minutes 46 seconds is glorious. This is 4-minutes of The Charlatans at their best, locked in a groove, reaching euphoric heights and taking the listener with them.

North Country Boy
This song totally reminds me of walking to work in the 90's in glorious sunshine. This is perfect pop,

What are you sad about?
Every day you make the sun come out

 North Country Boy lifts me and puts a smile on my face every single time I hear it. There is a groove, a swagger, sunshine and warmth seem to burst out of it.

I can't remember
I don't know how to tell you
But I love you just the same

Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over
I love the looseness to this song, it's got a Stones Exile On Main Street kind of vibe to it, a groove. Burgess is in full flow and the you look good when your heart is on fire lyric is one of my favourites.

Check the band ripping through it at an early sun soaked T in the Park that I fondly remember. The ground was so dry and people were dancing so much during the bands set that a dust storm was whipped up.

Oh Vanity!
 A stomping Motown/Northern Soul beat drives this song from start to finish. The chorus is a keyboard solo that you can't help sing-a-long with and it is an absolute belter of a song.

It came out while I was traveling around the world and I played it relentlessly whenever I was in internet cafes checking out the band on MySpace!

So I have many happy memories of traveling around South America and checking into The Charlatans forum that I visited regularly for news and chat with other Charlatans devotees.

I love this Later With Jools performance. Martin Blunt is grooving on the bass and Jon Brookes is flying at his drum kit. Also check this T in the Park performance to a packed tent.

Oh promise me, oh promise me
You'll save me one last dance for me

One To Another
My favourite Charlatans song. No question. The power of this song still astonishes me all these years down the line. The first single following the death of Rob Collins, this was a big statement.

In fact The Charlatans put out a short statement. It ended with something along the lines of We Are Rock. It meant something, The Charlatans mean something, this song means something.

The intro, with a loop from Tom Rowlands from Chemical Brothers, exploded into life with a heavy riff from piano, guitar, drums and bass leading to Tim coming in;

One to another
A sister and a brother
Changing the way that you feel

And one of my all-time favourite lyrics is be my spider woman, I'll be your spider man so much that a poster with those words is at the top of our stairs.

Justice for believers and love can keep the faith

There is a brief pause for breath before the band go at it harder than ever, the riff is ferocious and Burgess is in full flight - love is hard to leave and it's hard to never have and on and on they go.

This song never fails to lift and inspire me.