Tuesday 26 January 2021

Never Ending Mixtape part 56


The Stroppies, from Melbourne, Australia

Obscure bonus tracks from McCartney II, classic northern soul from The Velvets, pure pop by Becky G, old Teenage Fanclub, cool raw guitar sounds from The Stroppies, sheer beauty from SAULT, instrumentals by The Byrds + Sly and the Family Stone, loads from The Beatles (I'm reading Craig Brown's book The Beatles In Time at present) plus Sufjan Stevens, MALKA, The Avalanches and more ....

Welcome to the list of my latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify.

Over 1,800 songs and 24-hours of music. Scroll down to near the end to find these songs, or play from the start or click on shuffle.

181 of you now like/follow the playlist so thanks and I hope you find something new that you fall for, or you rediscover an old favourite. CLICK HERE to listen or search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape in Spotify.

The latest additions are ...

The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders - Sufjan Stevens

Holes In Everything - The Stroppies

Under Your Sweater - The Stroppies

Roller Cloud - The Stroppies

Shower - Becky G

Don't Need A Drum - Teenage Fanclub

Scary Times - SAULT

Free - SAULT

Foot On Necks - SAULT

I Got To Find Me Somebody - The Velvets

Frozen Jap - Paul McCartney

Mr H Atom - Paul McCartney

You And Me (instrumental) - The Byrds

John Riley (instrumental) - The Byrds

Badge - Cream

Get Back - Doris Troy

Little Yellow Pills - Jackie Lomax

Good Luck AKA New Love - Felice Taylor

Fell For You - MALKA

A New World - MALKA

Don't Need Anyone - MALKA

Two Hearts in 3/4 Time - The Avalanches

A Different Feeling - The Avalanches

Has My Fire Really Gone Out (live) - Paul Weller

The Sunshine Underground - The Chemical Brothers

Watching The Wheels - John Lennon

Eighties Fan - Camera Obscura

Do You Want Me Now - The Beths

Naive - The xx

Shoot You Down - The Stone Roses

Hold Me Up - Velvet Crush

Taurus - Dennis Coffrey

So Sorry - Love Affair

Baby You're A Rich Man - The Beatles

Blue - McAlmont & Butler

Cynical Girl - Marshall Crenshaw

When You Find Out - The Nerves

Sun Of A Gun - Swedish Polarbears

She Don't Care About Time - The Byrds

Ticket To Ride - The Beatles

If I Needed Someone - The Beatles

Heart Of Gold - Neil Young

For No-one - The Beatles

Got To Get You Into My Life - The Beatles

I'll Follow The Sun - The Beatles

You Caught Me Smilin' - Sly and the Family Stone

Runnin' Away - Sly and the Family Stone

Never Do Your Woman Wrong (instrumental) - Sly and the Family Stone

Falling - Ben Kweller

Saturday 23 January 2021

10 from the Stone Roses

Following on from previous 10 from ... blogs that have included Primal Scream, The Charlatans, The Lemonheads and Belle & Sebastian (see the end of this blog for links), I strangely found it harder to narrow down a list of 10 of my favourite Stone Roses songs, despite the fact that they have a much smaller back catalogue to choose from. Very early on it was clear that I would be leaving out 3 or 4 real favourites.

For me, The Stone Roses were the most perfect band in the world for around 3-years. From the release of Elephant Stone in 1988, through 1989 when the band released their eponymous debut album and the Fools Gold single, to Spike Island and Glasgow Green in 1990, they couldn't put a foot wrong.

The hair, the clothes, the personalities, the politics, the belief, the artwork, the singles, the b-sides, the album, the ambition with music and shows, landmark gigs that were like cup finals ... the Empress Ballroom, Alexandra Palace, Spike Island and Glasgow Green.

Stone Roses, Charing Cross, Glasgow

Sadly it was 1991 before I got into them when I was 15, so I then spent 4-years waiting for them to release new music! But in that time I bought everything on 12-inch, 7-inch, CD and cassette, including bootlegs. I hunted down old Melody Makers and NME's in Virginia Galleries in Glasgow and basically devoured every piece of music and information I could find about the band. Old interviews turned me on to Love, northern soul, The Misunderstood

I remember the video of the legendary Blackpool Empress Ballroom show coming out in 1991. I bought it at Tower Records and went home to watch it several times. They were magical, I wanted my hair like Ian Brown, I dreamed of playing guitar like John Squire, I marvelled at Reni playing drums so effortlessly and how Mani was so super cool.

Stone Roses, Glasgow Rooftops

The music weeklies tried to track the Roses down to find out what was happening with the follow up, but after a long court case against Silvertone, the band all moving to various parts of the country, relationships breaking up and forming, becoming fathers and different kinds of drugs, not to mention lack of management, a healthy bank balance and no set deadline, the Roses were in no rush or state to make a new album.

Which, on reflection, is a real shame. The way they moved from their debut LP to grooves like Fools Gold, One Love and Something's Burning leaves fans wondering what kind of blissed out tunes they could have created during that time.

There was finally activity in 1994 with the release of Love Spreads as a single and then the Second Coming LP. I took days off work to buy them and remember going home and literally watching my record player as I placed the LP on, wondering what would come out of the speakers.

The Second Coming didn't flow as effortlessly as the debut, but it still hangs together as a good album. Rough round the edges at times with the beautiful Tightrope, breaking into electronica with Begging You, there is the well publicised rock/Led Zep riffing at times, epic soundtracks like Breaking Into Heaven, loose jams and beautiful songwriting like Tears. You can read my blog on The Second Coming HERE

Try as I might, I couldn't get a ticket for their Barrowland shows that winter. Reni left, Squire broke his collarbone and their 1995 Glastonbury headline show, which would surely have been a triumph, was stolen by Pulp, Squire left and the Roses died a very public death at the Reading Festival in 1996 as Brown and Mani played on.

So I never saw the Roses first time round or through the Second Coming. I did catch Brown and Squire several times, I bought Mani a pint or two one lunchtime, I even caught Reni play Tuts with his short lived band The Rub, I saw Brown and Squire both do sets largely of Roses songs and I caught Mani loads of times with the Scream.

And then ... the Roses were reforming. I caught them in Amsterdam and cried, I had my mind blown on the Sunday at Heaton Park, I was left underwhelmed when they revisited Glasgow Green and then reminded of why I loved them at the last ever T in the Park.

The new material was exceptionally disappointing and they dragged it out for another 2 years. They got the paydays they deserved and brought joy to fans across the world. And then that was that.

If I consider the Roses to have been the perfect band for a few years, if I have loved them since the age of 15 (30-years!!!) how do I choose my 10 favourite songs?

Well some favourites have had to be left out including the mellow grooves of Going Down and Shoot You Down, the chiming flowing Mersey Paradise and the epic Tears.

But push come to shove, at the time of writing, here are my 10 favourite songs by the Stone Roses.

Sally Cinnamon (12-inch version)

The Roses formed in 1983, releasing their debut single So Young/Tell Me in 1985, but it was the release of Sally Cinnamon in May of 1987 when The Roses sounded (at least on record) like they had found their sound.

Gone were the brash sounds of the debut and in were melodies and chiming Byrds-esque guitars, then with a roll of Reni's drums, we're off and Ian Brown is singing of being chased by rain clouds that would join his tears and allay his fears, girls tasting of cherryade and a girl sent from heaven.

The little lift into the first chorus of sent to me from heaven, Sally Cinnamon you are my world is immediately transferred into the next verse

Pop, pop, pop, blow, blow, bubble gum

You taste of cherryade

Squire lets rip on guitar after the second chorus, the Roses are in full bloom; 

Then I put the letter back, in the place where it was found

In the pocket, of a jacket, on a train in town

The single version comes in just under 3-minutes, the 12-inch allows time for a little jam outro with Reni sounding superb on the drums. Timeless and thrilling guitar pop.

Made of Stone

Sometimes I fantasise 

When the streets are cold and lonely

When asked by the NME what Made of Stone was about, John Squire replied that it was about scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final dressed as Spiderman on a Harley.

The chorus hints at the desolation and frustration caused by the Tory government across Britain in the 80's. The streets are cold and lonely, cars are burning and Brown asks; 

don't these times fill your eyes?

Squire's guitar intro sounds melodic, melancholy and sad, but Brown's verse seems to lift the guitar into the euphoric chorus. And oh what a chorus, all of Heaton Park seemed to be lifted a foot in the air when this kicked in back in 2012. To hear 75,000 people singing sometimes I fantasise, when the streets are cold and lonely was an experience I will never, ever forget.

After the second chorus Squire gives us a beautiful soaring solo leading to a third and final chorus, before a chiming guitar outro leads us to the conclusion.

Anyone who wonders why the Roses mean so much to people after all these years should listen to this song.

She Bangs The Drums

Guitar pop perfection. Mani's bass groove, Reni on hi-hat action and then Squire kicking in with heavenly sounding guitar and Brown singing about hitting the groove.

Kiss me where the sun don't shine

The past was yours but the future's mine

You're all out of time

The second verse ends with Brown and the band lifting the song effortlessly into the chorus

Through the early morning sun

I can't see her, here she comes

She bangs the drums

And then we're into another outstanding uplifting skyscraping chorus and there are no words to describe the way Brown is feeling, sometimes there just are no words, sometimes you just know.

The Roses then lead us on a glorious 40-second instrumental, taking us higher, dropping it down, rising again before guitars, bass and drums crash together twice to lead us into another chorus that feels like even more of a rush than the first one. 

It's not enough, the chorus comes again before Squire's guitar chimes through to close. She Bangs The Drums is a sheer rush of guitar pop perfection in my book.

Ten Storey Love Song

This should have been the comeback single for me. I cried when I saw the Roses in Amsterdam in 2012 and they played this. Ten Storey Love Song sends tingles down my spine every time I hear it, the way the band lock into the intro groove before Ian comes in with one of his best vocal performances backed by Squire's chiming guitar.

When your heart is black and broken and you need a helping hand

When you're so much in love you don't know how much you can stand

I'm not sure what the hell the chorus means, I don't care, it is a Ten Storey skyscraper of a love song. Squire's lyrics, Brown's voice, he has enough love for two when his partner is down. Beautiful and uplifting, the production is sublime and Squire dazzles on guitar.

Standing Here

I should be safe forever in your arms is a lyric that melts my heart every time I hear this song.

Starting with Squire conjuring glorious sounds from his guitar, the band then fall in behind him, Mani and Reni lock into a groove with Reni shuffling effortlessly about the drums. Squire just sounds like he is improvising over the top of them, a beautiful jam. Listen carefully for Reni's stunning backing vocals at times.

I really don't think you could know that I'm in heaven when you smile

As a teenager Standing Here appealed to me more than any other song for a while. Lines like that described how I would feel every day if a girl I fancied smiled at me. 

The breakdown into I don't think you think like I do (another amazing lyric) then leads to arguably the most beautiful 2-minutes in the Roses cannon.

Squire's guitar is just so considerate and melodic, Brown's whispered vocals are spine tingling, Reni is just soooooooo good.

I could park a juggernaut in your mouth

And I can feel a hurricane when you shout

I should be safe forever in your arms

Tightrope (album + Crimson Tonight EP live version)

The Roses spent a long time on The Second Coming, yet one of my favourite songs sounded like it had been bashed out round a campfire on acoustics. 

John Squire's lyrics make it clear that he was hopelessly head over heels in love when he wrote them. Reni's backing vocals are sublime, Brown on lead delivers one of my favourite performances. You can hear someone talking in the background at one point, it all adds to a charm that is remarkably different to any other Roses song.

Lyrically, this is like a big love poem.

In the half light of morning, in our world between the sheets

I swear I saw her angel wing, my vision was complete

And I know I'll never want another lover, my sweet

Can there be more in this world than the joy of just watching you sleep?

I don't know just what to feel

Won't someone tell me my love is real?

Are we etched in stone or just scratched in the sand

Waiting for the waves to come and reclaim the land

The live version on the Crimson Tonight EP captures Roses mania and Brown in fine voice as the Roses flow through the song backed by the crowd.

The rawness of the album version against the tenderness of the song, the way Squire is pouring his heart out in the lyrics, sung by Brown, it's a gem.

This Is The One

This Is The One is simply majestic. Squire's guitar sounds thrilling at the start as it chimes and crashes before leaving Mani's bass to rumble beautifully, before the chimes come back again, this time crystal clear, another crash and then Ian Brown comes in with possibly his best vocal performance.

Talking of plans, desire, promises ... this is the one.

Everything bursts to life when Reni comes in on drums;

I'd like to leave the country, for a month of Sundays

Burn the town where I was born

The trick of quiet / loud / quiet / loud has been worked by many bands over the years. On This Is The One, the Roses go for it, chorus after chorus as Squire's guitar sets a course for the sun.

It may go right, it may go wrong

This is the one, this is the one, she's waited for

Tears filled my eyes every time I saw the Roses live when they played this song. It is packed with emotion, delivered with care, finesse and also with power.

Check this live professionally filmed footage from Coachella

Waterfall (12-inch mix)

This is the Roses at their best for me, vivid imagery from the lyrics, a real kind of house groove to Mani's bass, Reni just totally on it with his backing harmonies and beats, Squire's gorgeous chiming guitar and then the instrumental section which highlights what a brilliant band they were, everything gels. 

The 12-inch version has the band jamming for over 2-minutes at the end, the Roses enter into a glorious flow, bring it back to bass and beats and then Squire kicks in with some wah-wah guitar before gradually coaxing riffs mixed with more wah. At 4 mins 55 the band then kick into a final flourish; Reni, Mani & Squire on fire.

Now you're at the wheel

Tell me how, how does it feel?

Fools Gold

Fools Gold is the sound of Stone Roses at their peak, almost 10-minutes of funk groove via bass, beats, wah-wah guitar, samples and the coolest person in the world at the time on whispered vocals about friends searching for gold and ready to steal it off each other.

Nothing that the Roses had produced, not even the album closer I Am The Resurrection, hinted where they were going to go next.

The Roses went off on one, sampling the beat from Bobby Byrd's - Hot Pants (bonus beats) with the bass line from Young MC's Know How, which itself was loosely based around guitar from Isaace Hayes Theme From Shaft.

The bass line is inspired by Young M.C's Know How 
which was a tune we were really vibing off at the time 

Fools Gold was recorded over the summer of 1989 and released in November of that year. If the Roses album had been the soundtrack to pre and post club parties, Fools Gold became the sound of the party - the real indie dance crossover - if there really is such a thing, the Roses would pour scorn on such statements, they simply made the best music they could.

The beat and bass groove are in from the start, it's fresh, it's funky, it sounds like nothing 4 white boys from Manchester should be creating. But then things were changing dramatically in 1989, particularly in Manchester, a city embracing ecstasy and all kinds of music from Detroit to Ibiza - people wanted to dance and expand their horizons - international, continental.

Brown doesn't take long to come in the gold roads sure a long road, winds on through the hill for fifteen days

Things move up a notch for the I'm standing alone ... section and all the time the beat and bass keep grooving while Squire coaxes majestic sounds from his guitar.

By the time Brown whispers his last Foo-oo-oo-ools Gold we still have over 4-minutes left of this incredible tune and we are treated to the magical delight of Reni, Mani and Squire vibing and riffing off each other. They sound in their element, in the zone, in their own world.

On the Sunday at Heaton Park my mind was blown by the psychedelic funk the Roses produced during Fools Gold. The Shane Meadow filmed footage remains utterly joyful to watch, the smiles on stage, Ian walking along the crowd, Squire going crazy, Reni being Reni, the band just gelling. WATCH HERE

I Am The Resurrection

The epic closer to the Roses eponymous debut highlighted what a magnificent band they were. 

Starting with Reni's pounding drum beat, Mani joins on bass and then Ian comes in on vocals. It's not long before Squire is adding gorgeous riffs and flourishes over it all. 

The verses flow through to an absolutely euphoric chorus that has Brown straining for all he is worth to deliver it. A short instrumental leads back to the chorus again.

I am the resurrection and I am the light

I couldn't ever bring myself to hate you as I'd like

Resurrection then breaks down to close at 3-minutes 35 seconds, before Mani fires a little bass riff that then leads to a further glorious 5-minutes of Squire, Mani and Reni taking the listener on a real journey into the heart of the Roses.

They could play! The Roses are let loose to display their majestic powers, there is another brief pause at 5-minutes 15, before the band jam on for a further 3-minutes, Squire takes things to another level as his guitar soars from 5-minutes 57, before bringing it down to beautiful chimes at 6 minutes 17. 

The band build up again, Reni pounds on his drums like a Motown classic, Squire is firing off all kinds of sounds on his guitar and Mani is holding things together.

Utterly magical. Check the version from Blackpool Empress Ballroom HERE where the band stretch it to beyond 12-minutes. 

Monday 18 January 2021

We Can Work It Out

Cover version of the month #62 
Stevie Wonder covers The Beatles

Released in December 1965, We Can Work It Out was The Beatles first ever AA-Side single, paired with the glorious Day Tripper. 

Largely written by Paul McCartney, We Can Work It Out is one of many examples where the melody seemingly pours out of McCartney and doesn't let up, flowing effortlessly, until broken up a little by the middle eight which he co-wrote with John Lennon.

John Lennon, Playboy interview, 1980; Paul did the first half, I did the middle eight. But you've got Paul writing, We can wrok it out, we can work it out - real optimistic, y'know, and me, impatient: Life is very short, and there's no time / for fussing and fighting my friend

As well as being the first AA-side single, We Can Work It Out was the first single that The Beatles recorded a promo film for. A performance shot in black & white, shows Lennon pulling faces as McCartney and co run through the song. Starr looks thoroughly uninterested while Harrison is going through the motions, perhaps because they knew they would end up shooting 3 other promo films that day for previous releases. 

We Can Work It Out bookended 1965 for The Beatles, a year which I think is absolutely pivotal in their evolution as a band. 1964 ended with the release of Beatles For Sale, while August 65 saw The Beatles release Help! . Both albums still included cover versions.

Rubber Soul, remarkably released only 4-months after Help!, also in December 1965 on the same day as We Can Work It Out, saw The Beatles offer original compositions only. To emphasise how the band was changing, December 1965 also marked The Beatles last ever UK tour.

What a remarkable 12-months; from Beatles For Sale to Rubber Soul! The fact that The Beatles only began writing most of the songs for Rubber Soul when they returned from an American tour in August 1965 is staggering.

Stevie Wonder covered We Can Work It Out on his 1970 album Signed, Sealed, Delivered, with his version also being released as a single in 1971.

Wonder ramps it up a little; if McCartney's melody flows effortlessly, then Wonder's voice soars in that way too. Still only 20, Wonder flies through the song, sounding like he is having fun, his delivery leaves the listener in absolutely no doubt that the couple will work it out.

Wonder adds more than a minute to The Beatles version, so where McCartney comes bursting in immediately, Wonder has time for a playful intro. The beat has a little more urgency to it, when Wonder sings the middle eight you really believe him. 

The harmonica solo is playful, Wonder is playing with the song, he breaks it down before launching into everything all over again. It's a stunning song, I love The Beatles version but playing them back to back, I love Stevie's version more.

Here is Stevie performing the song in front of Paul McCartney! CLICK HERE or watch below (depending on how you are viewing this blog).

Search for Everything Flows cool cover versions on Spotify for a playlist of the covers I have blogged about and read on for a full list and links to previous cover of the month blogs. 

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt

Friday 15 January 2021

Interview - Douglas MacIntyre - FRETS

In my 5th January blog on things I'm looking forward to in the Scottish Music Scene in 2021, I mentioned the FRETS Creative nights in Strathaven, run by Douglas MacIntyre.

In another world, next month I'd be heading along to Strathaven Hotel to catch 3 musical heroes; Tim Burgess, Norman Blake & Duglas T Stewart playing an intimate seated show. The gig has now been rescheduled to October. Surely we'll be in a position where gigs can go ahead then?

Or will we? Now more than ever we live in an ever changing world, dealing with a pandemic that is mutating and new variants seem to spread more easily. 

What a state the country is in. What a state the world is in. In the UK we have the worst possible people in charge at the worst possible time. Johnson and his Tory cronies are ridiculously out of touch, oblivious to reality, lacking empathy, blundering from week to week.

Marcus Rashford is showing them up on a daily/weekly basis. I admire his non-political stance, he simply focuses on a problem and works to solutions. How I wish politics could be banished to have intelligent and empathetic people, blessed with common sense in charge of sorting the country out.

I hope that Scotland's size works in our favour, that we can get the virus back under control and role out the vaccine. We should be maximising our testing capacity as well. 

Excuse the sidestep into politics. Lets get back to music, lets get back to positivity, to creativity, to bringing people together for a good time.

Lets say thanks to Douglas MacIntyre who runs FRETS Creative and FRETS Concerts. Without people like Douglas, someone bursting with ideas and the skills to bring them to life, life would be a lot duller.

After all, attracting artists of the calibre mentioned above (plus more mentioned below) to Strathaven (lovely as it is) can't be that easy. It's not even that easy to get to!

But that is part of Strathaven's charm. It's a beautiful old village with cobbled streets, a stunning park, cool cafes and independent shops (when restrictions allow), set in the beautiful Lanarkshire countryside. Only 15/20 minutes from Hamilton, 35 minutes from Glasgow, but feeling much further, perhaps due to the lack of a train station, probably just because it is so wonderfully detached, whereas much of Glasgow and Lanarkshire merge into each other.

I decided to ping Douglas a few questions to learn more about FRETS, the challenges he is facing in the current climate and his plans for the future. I'd like to thank him for his answers and wish him and the FRETS team all the very best for the future. I sincerely hope to be making regular trips to Strathaven in the not too distant future. Maybe see you there?

Read on for the interview;

1.      What inspired you to start FRETS?

 I decided to start FRETS as an umbrella organisation to provide an arts outlet for South Lanarkshire. I started doing the FRETS Concerts on 4th October 2019 with Lloyd Cole being the first acoustic show. Lloyd was embarking on a world tour, accompanied with Neil Clark from the Commotions on guitar, it tickled me that Lloyd’s world tour started in Strathaven!

I also set up premises in Strathaven, FRETS Creative, along with local photographer Les Hoggan. FRETS Creative is a space for arts organisations to utilise, and a local organisation, Creative Strathaven, have set up a retail and arts workshop in the space, which has being going great. We also have a creative writing outlet, FRETS Words, which is run by my wife Katy Lironi, who was also singer with Fizzbombs / The Secret Goldfish.  

2.  How important is Strathaven as a base and location?

I was brought up in the Strathaven area, I lived in a nearby village (Glassford) until I was 20 before I moved to Glasgow in 1983. I returned to live in the Strathaven area with my family in 2002, sometimes it takes leaving somewhere to appreciate it. Strathaven does have an interesting music history, with Harry Lauder living in the village, through to Orange Juice recording the first Postcard single, Falling and Laughing, in Strathaven at Emblem Sound studio. I recorded my first single in Emblem Sound when I was 18, my group was called Article 58, our single was produced by Postcard’s Alan Horne and Malcolm Ross and released on Josef K manager Allan Campbell’s label, Rational Records.

3.      How supportive has the community been to your ideas?

 The community in Strathaven has been extremely supportive of all the strands of FRETS, which is something we are hoping to build on. We intend setting up some workshops to engage younger people in Strathaven in the arts, that is one of our primary aims for the future.

The Strathaven Hotel is a stunning venue. Were they surprised at how well your shows performed in terms of ticket sales?

The Strathaven Hotel is a fantastic venue with a great atmosphere, it is perfect for our seated acoustic concerts. When I met the owner for the first time to explain the FRETS Concerts concept, I’m not sure he totally bought into my vision!! However, after the first concert with Lloyd Cole selling out so quickly, he totally got was I was trying to do with FRETS Concerts and has been incredibly accommodating and supportive.

5.      What was the most challenging thing you experienced while trying to get up and running?

In the run up to the first concert with Lloyd Cole, it was really a learning experience for me. In recent years I’ve been in groups like The Nectarine No9, Sexual Objects, The Secret Goldfish, and my own project, Port Sulphur, so I’ve had an understanding how concerts work from an artist’s perspective. However being a promoter is a completely different discipline, and whilst I felt comfortable coming up with the vision and aesthetic of FRETS Concerts, I quickly realised I needed experienced people around me to make the shows work. Wesley Cameron came on board as production manager with David Henderson dealing with sound, both of whom are really amazing to work with.

6.      What has been your highlight so far?

We’ve only been able to do shows with Lloyd Cole, James Grant, Norman Blake and Euros Childs so far, all have been sold out. It has been fantastic working with each of them, the concerts have been great. The initial ethos and idea of FRETS Concerts was based on the early 1970s BBC2 In Concert television shows, especially Neil Young. I guess Norman and Euros was a bit special, Katy and I got married to Norman’s version of Only With You whilst our eldest son Dugald was born at home while Gorky’s albums played on a loop.

How frustrating has life been for you as a promoter over the last year? You had some incredible shows lined up?

It has been incredibly frustrating as a promoter over the past year, starting when we had to postpone The Bluebells in March 2020 days before the concert. FRETS Concerts only promotes monthly at the moment, so I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for bigger promoters.

And how difficult is it to plan future shows?

It has been incredibly difficult to plan future shows, it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle involving artists, managers, agents, and venue availability. I take the view it is important to remain positive and optimistic, live music will return at some point and I think we’ll all appreciate it all the more when it does. 

9.      When do you think live shows will be back and what artists have you pencilled in?

We have some great shows lined up at FRETS; Tim Burgess, Norman Blake & David Scott, Duglas T.Stewart, The Bluebells, The Skinner Songbook, JJ Gilmour, Roddy Woomble, King Creosote, Robyn Hitchcock, Robert Forster, Grant-Lee Phillips, with others in the pipeline. The best way to find out about future acoustic FRETS concerts at the Strathaven Hotel is to go to www.fretscreative.com and scroll down until you come to the BLOG subscription - just leave your email address there and you’ll hear first about future FRETS concerts. We also have the following social media pages



 Lastly, if you could book any artist for a FRETS show, who would you book and why?

It would have to be Neil Young performing two acoustic sets of my favourite albums, first Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere followed by On The Beach, both in their entirety. Other than that impossible dream, further pipe dreams would include acoustic concerts by Bill Callahan, Bobbie Gentry, Jonathan Richman, Al Green, John Cale, Edwyn Collins & Roddy Frame,… that kinda thing !!

Friday 8 January 2021

Did I Say


Trust Me # 20

Norman Blake's Did I Say,  was released on Teenage Fanclub's Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty Six Seconds greatest hits/best of compilation from 2003. A limited edition 7-inch was also released.

Did I Say is a song that Norman was rightly proud of from the off. I remember catching Norman playing a show with David Scott in Blackfrairs in the Merchant City of Glasgow. The audience literally sat around Norman's feet as he played a beautiful acoustic set of Fanclub favourites and choice covers. I always remember that particular performance of Did I Say, the response was just incredible; smiles, jaws dropping ... to hear such a beautiful song by its author in such an intimate setting was a real joy. We knew Norman was good, but this was special! 

Norman, in my opinion, has written a number of absolute masterpieces over the years. I consider Did I Say to be one of his very best.

Opening with Norman singing over a piano, the band crash in beautifully after the line no you don't have to travel alone, the beat is almost Motown-esque, there is a guitar chiming. Listen on headphones and you'll get a really rich experience. 

Strings come in, you can hear the sound of someone moving up their fretboard at 1 minute 18, the beat kicks harder at 1-minute 30 as Blake sings of the sun beating down.

The instrumental section, beginning with a delightful roll of the drums; has strings soaring, there is a glockenspiel in there, a beautiful riff being picked on guitar and it is the sound of a band in full flow, playing and gelling perfectly. The melody flows so naturally throughout Did I Say, it's such a gorgeous song.

Throughout, Norman sings like an angel. There are times I've caught him playing solo when I've looked around to see who he is harmonising with. And there is no-one there, his voice is just that good, that beautiful. 

In previous Teenage Fanclub blogs I have mentioned the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub, a community that originated on the forum section of the bands website before modernising on a Facebook Group. I've met fellow fans from across the world via the group, arranging meet ups before Glasgow shows and also when I have travelled further afield. 

I thought I would ask them for their thoughts and memories on Did I Say. There are 3 videos at the end of the blog; the studio version, Norman solo in Oslo and a performance from the Creation Years tour.

Thanks to everyone for contributing. 

Photo by Mathew Parri Thomas

Hugh Haggerty

I remember upon first hearing it and thinking it was subtly romantic and beautiful and then trying to play it and finding the rhythm changes at different times totally confusing me. 

So while Norman sings this beautiful love song, with a sweet melancholy element, my version is a spluttering tune with confusion and twisty fingers!

Ronan Barrett

Hey, did I say, that I smiled when I first hear your name is a wonderful romantic line that wouldn't be out of place in one of Jimmy Webb's finest.

Des Foley

I love that line too, especially when it goes to fell in love, and I still feel the same way now - blub central!!!! Such a fantastic song.

Ruthie Blaney

Live - the almost whispered first few lines with Norman and Gerry harmonising used to give me goosebumps.

Paul Quinn 

I wished he'd written it when I was in the band. It's an absolutely amazing song. Incredible songwriting by a master of his art. 

Mark Gallagher

It's on my running playlist. Running through the hills in a groove with no people in sight with that song playing is rather transcendental.

Des Foley

I love the way that it is a hugely emotional song, yet without the lyric being that specific; it's also completely cliche free. We don't know exactly what he's singing about, but we kinda do, and so we can feel the emotion in the song and can relate to it. It's a love song but a very non-obvious love song. Sheer brilliance.

Adrian Gent

It was the first dance at our wedding and I sent a pleading messagenger to the TFC page a few weeks before their gig at the Trades Club in 2015 asking if they would play it as it was 3 days before our 10th Wedding Anniversary. Play it they indeed did - and maybe it was just a coincidence - but the fact they did made a brilliant night perfect and I admit we were both in tears when they started playing it.

Kostas Vasiliadis

Never been to Scotland but I've swum in that lake so many times that it feels like my own memory.

Matt Woollatt

As well as being absolutely spellbinding I just love the time signature changes from mostly 5/4 to 3/4 and 4/4. It's amazing!

Leigh McDiarmid

One of their best by far, only heard them play it live once but it gave me shivers ... a perfect, short, melodic masterpiece. Possibly my favourite, never tire of listening to it ... the song that has everything.

Neil Pernham

We had it played at our wedding as we walked back down the aisle. Such an amazing song.

Finlay Macdonald

I played the piano on this song. The band invited me down to Liverpool Parr Street studio to add keyboards to 3 new songs for the compilation album. It's a really cool studio and in those major label days you could spend a week in a plush residential studio (Coldplay were recording their second album in the other room) to work on only three songs. So work generally stopped around 8.30pm and merged into party mode. Gerry plated fine cuts every night on the deck through the ginormous reference monitors. Digital Love by Daft Punk was enjoyed. A lot!

Ian Cretney

There is something about the combo of lyrics and melody that creates a real emotional resonance. It's not not necessarily a specific lyric that does it for me, and it's not like it's an uber sad song or anything but it gives me a lump in my throat for reasons unknown.

Danielle Doherty

Hey, did I say ... I was staying with anold bouyfriend and his two friends came over one evening. One friend was arriving from another country and another was arriving after work - Tomtom.

I won't say who, but somebody had blagged a listen of the 2 new tracks recorded for the A Shortcut To album. After food, over beers and wine much was enthusiastically discussed (and smoked!) around the table - bad Tomtom! Great memory.

Last year was Tom's 10th anniversary and hearing these songs remind me of trekking along to the HMV in London to see them with Tom around that time.

Wendy Taylor

Beautiful song through and through. I love how it sounds so confident yet at the same time asks were/are you waiting for me

Kevin Robertson

It is a pure love song. Back in time with you, moving forward with you, wherever you want to go I'm with you. It's classic and beautiful songwriting from Norman as always.

Anne-Marie Feeney

I'm an old cynic but it's really just the perfect "love song" - forgive the cliched term. That line sun, beating down, on your back is just so evocative. It just takes you to that place - sun, love, freedom. You can actually FEEL the sun on your back listening to it. In these times, who doesn't want someone to be there for you?

You can listen to a playlist of all the songs from the Trust Me series via THIS PLAYLIST

Hey, did I say, I don't mind if you want to go home

Take me there, no you don't, have to travel alone

Through the night, cross the sea, going back in time

Here, for you now, were you waiting for me?

Hey, did I say, that I smiled when I first heard your name

Fell in love, and I still, feel the same way now, far

Through the night, watch the light, fall away from you

Here, for you now, were you waiting for me?

Hey, did I say, I don't mind, if you want to go back

To the lake, where you learned how to swim with the sun

Beating down, on your back, in the morning I'll come

For you girl, are you waiting for me?

Sun, beating down, on your back, in the morning I'll come

For you girl, are you waiting for me?

Norman playing solo at Cafe Mono, Oslo, 2012. Just listen to how pure and effortless his voice is.

A spine tingling version from the Barrowland Creation Years shows, highlighting the harmonies with Gerry that are mentioned above by Ruthie.

The studio version

Search for Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify for a playlist of all songs, or CLICK HERE

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Scottish music scene in 2021

 I usually write a blog on what I'm looking forward to from the Scottish music scene in the year ahead. It's kind of difficult this year as we entered 2021 buoyed by news of vaccines being rolled out and approved, balanced against a new strain of the virus and steadily rising numbers. I'm all for the new strict lockdown to get some kind of control back.

Music helps, it always does. #timstwitterlisteningparty for The Pastels & Tenniscoats Two Sunsets album on 2nd January, swiftly followed by Love's classic Forever Changes was just what I needed to relax and escape from reality for a while.

And music fills me with optimism. 

Can you imagine the atmosphere at the first gigs? It might be slightly weird at first, but just wait until the first big song is played and people go crazy, dancing, jumping, punching the air, singing a long, hugging friends and getting lost in music.

Imagine the first club nights, surely all the DJ's will just be absolutely going for it and playing the songs they know will get the best response on the dancefloor. It will be wild. My clubbing days are largely over but I have fantasised about going to the Sub Club, or downstairs in The Admiral or a night at Mono. I certainly intend to go to McChuills one night.

Despite the incredible challenges that everyone has faced for almost a year, Glasgow and Scotland has found a way to keep spirits alive, to give music fans hope, to keep the community spirit alive, to even give us things to stick in the calendar to look forward to, some with blind optimism, other shows where there is a real possibility that they could be the first post lockdown/restrictions shows ... imagine the atmosphere ...

oh to experience the Barrowland roar again

Artists have released, created and played online shows, labels have displayed resilience, belief and creativity to put music out when bands can't play/tour to promote, stores like Monorail have adapted to a hybrid of online and store openings when allowed, promoters are booking and music fans are showing real support by buying records, cd's, donating to crowdfunders and by buying tickets.

Will everything that we know still be there when the city of Glasgow begins to open again? The Barrowland, The Hydro, King Tuts, Broadcast, Sub Club, Sleazys, The Hug & Pint, the CCA, Mono, Stereo, The Old Hairdressers and The Admiral?

Venues where I have spent some of the happiest nights of my life, venues that support so many Scottish acts, venues that bring artists from all over the world to Glasgow, a city that wins the hearts of bands, artists and fans that visit and experience the Barrowland roar and a Glasgow crowd going for it.

So far, at least to my knowledge, all those venues are OK. Some have held crowdfunders to give them the safety net they need to stay open, others (like the Barrowland for example) are probably safe because they know that should the need arise, they would receive exceptional support from a crowdfunder to guarantee they stay open.

With my fundraising experience and love of music, I'd just like to say that if the Barrowland ever wanted to discuss a crowdfunder, or to start a trust to guarantee the long term future of the venue, then I would be delighted to offer my support.

I'm looking forward to revisiting venues across Glasgow, to sharing beers and experiences with friends, to discovering new music, to singing-a-long to my favourite songs and bands, to dancing without a care in the world .... to so much.

I can't wait to hear from friends who play in bands, who work in venues, or who book and put on shows when they are back to doing what they do best. Mostly, I hope that resilience displayed across the Scottish Music Scene is rewarded with brilliant music and nights out.

There must be so many bands and artists just chomping at the bit to get out and play. Will Gerry Cinnamon finally get to play and slay Hampden, will The Snuts get to play their 3 nights at Barrowland and there must be some bands that have hardly played live at all that can't wait to get out and build a fanbase.

There is so much I am looking forward to, but here are 10 things I'm particularly looking forward to in 2021. Fingers crossed they all happen.

1. New music and shows from Teenage Fanclub

The new Teenage Fanclub album, Endless Arcade, will be released in April. I doubt their shows scheduled for that month will go ahead as planned, but I can't wait to see the band live again when it is safe.

Raymond's Everything Is Falling Apart and Norman's Home have been released as singles, the band sound relaxed and on form. 

2. Early TeenCanteen recordings

TeenCanteen will be releasing their first recordings This Is Where It Starts on LNFG's Hive imprint. 8 songs were recorded after only 5 practice sessions. Described by the band as our real debut album. 

There will be the original versions of How We Met (Cherry Pie) and Friends, plus 6 other songs including the stunning Under My Cover with Duglas T Stewart. Expect raw pop full of hooks and harmonies. 

3. The Playground Festival

Underworld, James, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, Chic, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Craig Charles & Neneh Cherry (I think I'll only be going 2 nights out of 3) but also Kraftwerk in 3D which is amazing, I caught them in 3D at T in the Park a number of years ago. This is a sensational festival line-up! The kids will hopefully be going to my Mum's this weekend! 

Set in Rouken Glen Park, this is an ambitious line-up for The Playground Festival and I sincerely hope the promoters are rewarded with a sell out and I reeeeeaaaaalllllly hope it goes ahead. What a party it will be!

4. Doune The Rabbit Hole

Speaking of kids and festivals, we really fancy Doune The Rabbit Hole in July. I'm pretty sure the kids would love Stanley Odd, Sacred Paws and Free Love. Would they stay up for the headliners though?! An important question if taking kids to a festival.

5. Poster Paints

A brand new band who haven't released anything and have barely been in the same room as each other! 

Through lockdown my sister has been working with her friend Simon Liddell on a new project - Poster Paints. Simon has been writing, recording and sending music to Carla to write lyrics and melodies for. They've invited contributions from other friends too. I love the songs I have heard and hope they can maybe release a couple of singles and play some shows in 2021. The album is coming together nicely.

6. The continuing development of Last Night From Glasgow

I recently caught up with Ian Smith who runs LNFG. Ian's energy and enthusiasm are infectious and what he has done with LNFG  since forming back in 2016 has been nothing short of staggering. The label will be releasing loads of quality vinyl through 2021 and are champing at the bit to put on live shows again, with many plans up their sleeves.

The addition of Past Night From Glasgow as a re-issues label is one that many of my generation will welcome; the debut release of The Bluebells Sister was stunning and the label are set to work magic on BMX Bandits and The Trashcan Sinatras in 2021. I look forward to them shining the light on other Scottish classics.

7. The SAY Award

I love the Scottish Album of the Year Award, it's such a welcome addition to the Scottish Music Scene. I think it's time to take it to the next level though. 2020 was tough, but the virtual ceremony went horribly wrong, it should have been better. They know that and no-one will be more disappointed than the team involved.

Where I think there is room for improvement, is how the SAY Award links to the wider musical world throughout the year, not just from launch of submissions to the award ceremony. 

Just skim through some of the end of year lists from The Guardian, Drowned In Sound, Piccadilly Records, blogs .... where are the Scottish artists? How many of the 2020 longlisted albums made any end of year lists in either 2019/2020?

Does that matter? Yes & no. Music is a matter of taste, but Scottish artists (many operating on a shoestring) can only make end of year lists and go wider than Scotland with help. Could the SAY Award and Creative Scotland do more for our artists through the year?

Difficult question and there is no easy answer. Just throwing it out there though as one of the best things about the SAY Award is that it encourages healthy debate. 

Of course Creative Scotland help a lot of our artists with grants, but there could be some low cost solutions to do more;

- More productive use of  SAY Award social media through the year

- Monthly e-newsletters to subscribers - this would help promote Scottish artists and also build momentum to the launch of submissions through to ceremony

- A monthly press release to media about the best Scottish albums, also looking at what is coming next

- Quarterly round ups about the best albums/reviews

Should be easy and cost effective to get going.

8. FRETS and more trips to Strathaven

Douglas MacIntyre was in the process of putting Strathaven on the Scottish musical map through his monthly FRETS Creative nights at the Strathaven Hotel. 

The intimate seated setting for acoustic/stripped back shows was attracting some fantastic artists like James Grant and Norman Blake, while a host of shows were lined up throughout 2020.

Tim Burgess, Roddy Woomble, The Bluebells, Robert Forster and King Creosote are just some of the artists lined up to travel to the lovely town of Strathaven once restrictions are lifted.

I hope to be running an interview with Douglas in the near future. 

9. Kelvingrove Bandstand shows

The beautiful setting of the Kelvingrove Bandstand has provided many memorable nights since it reopened back in the summer of 2014. I was really looking forward to seeing Edwyn Collins, Primal Scream and The Jesus and Mary Chain back in summer 2020. I really hope they will be able to play in summer 2021, will the fact that this is an outdoor venue help? Social distancing isn't an option at sold out shows, so that might effect things if the vaccine is still being rolled out. But what if numbers are exceptionally low? Could we then see Bandstand shows stretch beyond their normal run into September and even October?

10. Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5

One band our whole house has fallen for is Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5. Lovely people, a completely unique band and one of the best live musical experiences you will ever experience. Their 2020 show at the Old Fruitmarket brought joy to my life and a huge smile to my face.

I really hope that they get to play a big show and put on a huge crazy party once we get through this. We will all be there when they do to dance like nobody's watching.

Look out for an interview with the Colonel John McMustard in the near future.