Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Walk Away Renee

 

Trust Me #28 - Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke 

Cover version of the month #69 The Four Tops cover The Left Banke

Just imagine being a teenager in 1965 and forming a band with your friends. Countless kids around the world, were doing it, inspired by the likes of The Beatles and The Stones. Picking up guitars and seeing what wonderful noises they could create.

16-year old Michael Brown (real name Lookofsky) didn't quite pick up a guitar, he played keyboards and he also wrote songs. As son of violinist and arranger Harry Lookofsky, it was clear from the off that he had a remarkable talent for music, helped by unlimited access to his Dad's studio. 

Brown formed a band with George Cameron (drums), bass player and singer Tom Finn, Steve Martin Caro on lead vocals an Jeff Winfield on guitar. They called themselves The Left Banke. They never really had a settled line-up, partly because even in his teens - Brown wanted to follow Brian Wilson's lead and stay at home to write while his band went on the road - they weren't up for it! By the time they put their differences behind them, momentum and label confidence had been lost. And so The Left Banke have a small but perfectly formed discography.


Sometime I'll get around to writing some blogs on the greatest debut singles of all time, after all, this blog is named after one! But perhaps nothing could beat Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke, especially when you consider that the band were teenagers at the time.

Released in July 1966, Walk Away Renee is one of a number of songs Brown wrote about Renee Fladen-Kamm, then the girlfriend of his friend and band mate, Tom Finn. Amazingly, Fladen-Kamm was at the recording of the single, Brown had to wait for her to leave in order to play his parts.

Renee Fladen-Kamm 

In just 2-minutes and 46 seconds, The Left Banke produce heart aching pop music of the highest quality. Everything tugs on heart strings. At the age of just 18, Steve Martin Caro has no God given right to sound so beautifully heart broken, while the strings, harpsichord and flute are utterly perfect, giving a sense of maturity to this band of teenagers.

The poetic lyrics speak of empty sidewalks, where perhaps lovers once walked, of tears, of pain, rain, names in a heart drawn on the wall, of being haunted and of a realisation that the writer can't follow Renee, it's not to be.

Astounding, outstanding, magical. 

Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke


Yet it was many years before I knew of The Left Banke. I always thought this was a song by The Four Tops, indeed it was probably one of the first songs I heard from my Mum's small but tasteful vinyl collection when I got my first record player, she had a decent collection of soul music for an introduction.

Their version was released in 1968 and you don't get a much higher stamp of approval than a cover by one of Motown Records finest groups, particularly as it remains very true to the original. For me, there is more hurt and heartache in Levi Stubbs vocals in comparison to the original, the beat is classic Motown.

This might be the only time in my cover version of the month feature (so far) where I think the original and the cover version are both equally amazing.

Four Tops - Walk Away Renee 

You can listen to all the songs I've featured in my Trust Me series in a playlist by searching for Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify or by CLICKING HERE You can also read about the previous songs I've written about by clicking on the links below.

Also check below for a full list of songs to feature in my cover version of the month blogs. You can also search for Everything Flows Cool Cover Versions for my Spotify playlist or CLICK HERE.

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
12. Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Centre
13. When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields
14. The Man Don't Give A F**k by Super Furry Animals
15. All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun by Jeff Buckley and Liz Fraser
16. Are You Lookin' by The Tymes
17. A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth
18. Feelings Gone by Callum Easter
19. Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
20. Did I Say by Teenage Fanclub
21. Don't Look Back by Teenage Fanclub
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by The Love Affair
27. As Long As I've Got You by The Charmels

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt



Saturday, 24 July 2021

As Long As I've Got You

Trust me #27

Music doesn't really get much better than this incredible song by The Charmels. In particular, when the chorus comes in, the first time after only 34 seconds, lifting everything; things just take off, the lead vocals soar, the backing vocals sooth, the music is simply sublime.

I feel free as a bird

Flyin' around in the blue

As long as, baby

As long as I've got you

Written by David Porter and Isaac Hayes, The Charmels recorded a mere 4 singles for Volt, a subsiduary of the legendary Stax Records label. There isn't really a great deal of information about them online at all,so I'll concentrate on the song.

The intro is so beautiful and dreamy that it has been sampled numerous times, including by the Wu Tang Clan and Snoop. 

The opening verse is short, delivering the incredible line; youth will never leave me, I'll never grow old and then we're into the first chorus.

The song comes in at only 2-minutes 37-seconds, so there is no time to waste, straight into the second verse, just listen to the backing vocals singing (die, die, die, die) after the line if loneliness was a flower, it would wither and die. Incredible!

And then in the middle-eight the lyrics reminisce about being so hurt that she didn't want love, then comes the beautiful stark contrast of being so in love that the singer feels as free as a bird flying around in the sky, so blue.

The Charmels - As Long As I've Got You (YouTube)

You can listen to all the songs I've featured in my Trust Me series in a playlist by searching for Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify or by CLICKING HERE

You can also read about the previous songs I've written about by clicking on the links below, underneath the lyrics.

No fire is too hot, no snow is too cold

Youth will never leave me, I'll never grow old

I feel free as a bird

Flyin' around in the blue

As long as, baby

As long as I've got you (As long as I've got you)


If happiness was water, I'd never run dry

If loneliness was a flower, it would wither and die (die, die, die, die)

The whole world is our private is our private playground

To do what we wanna do

As long as, baby

As long as I've got you 


Something to think about, I remember when

So tired of being hurt, that I didn't want a boyfriend


I feel free as a bird, flying around in the blue

As long as, as long as I've got you

As long as I've got you

As long as I've got you


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
12. Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Centre
13. When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields
14. The Man Don't Give A F**k by Super Furry Animals
15. All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun by Jeff Buckley and Liz Fraser
16. Are You Lookin' by The Tymes
17. A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth
18. Feelings Gone by Callum Easter
19. Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
20. Did I Say by Teenage Fanclub
21. Don't Look Back by Teenage Fanclub
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by The Love Affair


Friday, 9 July 2021

Introducing - Sarya AKA swoo

 

photo by asuka chen


Every so often I visit the BBC Scotland channel on the iPlayer and head to the music section. I stumbled across a feature length episode of Tune and proceeded to watch it all. One song and performance in particular caught my attention.

Sarya AKA swoo is a musical poet from Taiwan, now based in Edinburgh (although back in Taiwan with her family for now). Sarya performed her song I'll Break My Heart (So You Don't Have To) in her bedroom. The song has a beautiful homemade lofi loving quality to it - melodic keys, fuzzy synth bass, sparse beats, leaving loads of room for Sarya to sing.

It's better to feel sadness and pain
It's better than nothing

I break my heart so you don't have to
The attention I'm directing at you
Is a manifestation of my boredom and a little love

I couldn't know what I was looking for before it was gone
I couldn't know who I was looking for before you were gone

With her hood pulled up, headphones on, light blue streaks in her hair and a big smile, Sarya won my heart in 4-minutes. She gets lost in the music, making movements to the keyboard riff, dancing ... just beautiful to watch and listen to.

Check the song on Bandcamp and the episode of TUNE on the iPlayer

So I got in touch to find out a little more and was delighted when Sarya emailed back some answers to my questions. I look forward to catching Sarya playing live - hopefully in the not too distant future.
photo by asuka chen

What is your earliest musical memory?

Earliest musical memory: I'm not gonna lie, I think that my first musical memory must have been at like 2/3 years old, singing along with Blue's Clues. Most specifically, MAIL TIME!

I think even to this day, a lot of the music I heard on this show still slaps if I'm being perfectly honest.

When did you start creating your own music? Was there a specific moment when you thought - I can do this?

I started writing and creating music with shitty ukelele chords in 2016, with a song called "Doesn't Matter", which I showed my friends and they loved it! Mostly because it was thoroughly "me" with my highly emotionally blunt lyrics, It eventually encouraged me to host an open mic night that forced me to practice singing every day. I eventually learned guitar in 2018 and then some electronic music stuffs the year after. I didn't really start to take myself seriously as a musical person until I wrote some songs that I thought were worth recording, some of which were songs like "idk" and "insomnia song". 

When I was performing around Taipei and Edinburgh, I started feeling more like a real musician. I thought, "Hey! People seem to like this! Maybe I can do this after all!" And I figured that since so few people who looked like me were doing music in the Edinburgh music scene, it really inspired me to be my own role model. Then when I started to get more comfortable making electronic music, I finally felt like maybe I can do this music thing..I've always been writing poetry and songs, and I never for a second didn't think it was worth doing, but it wasn't really until two years ago, when I moved back to Edinburgh the second time in 2019, did I really think that it was worth showing people.

Photo by Ceridwen Angharad

You create very loving and playful vocal and keyboard melodies. Where do they come from? Do you hear them in your head, or create them through playing?

Sometimes I will randomly sing on the street and then a sentence that randomly pops from my brain sounds really lyric worthy, so I write it down. Then, I kinda sing it randomly in different ways until it sounds like it fits what the meaning is. Songs kind of pour out of me, and I don't need much time to complete a song. I once wrote a song in 30 seconds, and sung the chorus in my voice memos, and I came back to it 3 months later and the entire song just flowed out. 

It sounds cliche, but a lot of the time it really is a matter of translating those words and feelings into music correctly. It's like I have the picture and the puzzle pieces, and then I have to just assemble them. I started as a spoken word poet and I figured that I was writing songs all along. Some songs start with a melody or a few chords, and then some sentences perfectly fit into it. I kind of work from there to make most of my melodies. The vocals are my favourite thing to make because there is so much you can do with backing vocals and harmonies. I like to think of them as a whole other instrument entirely, which really opens up how a song can sound. 

What music do you listen to? Would you say you have any key influences?

My main music taste seems to float around DIY sad indie folk (Death Cab For Cutie, Daniel Johnston, Joanna Newsom), Icelandic experimental postrock (múm, Sin Fang, ), country music (Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette), and experimental electronica (Tami T, Holly Herndon) or queer scandi-pop (AURORA, Beatrice Eli, Ji Nilsson). There's absolutely a lot of emotional influence from early 2000s indie pop/folk, as well as Scandivian soundscapes of ethereal caveness + sincere and simple country songwriting. All those musicians are my idols and I think I sculpt my shape around all those elements. I guess my ideal sound is like Björk but sing-crying about mums in a large reverb-laden cave while melodica billows in the background. 

What's been your favourite thing that you have done as an artist to date?

It's difficult, because all songs are like our lil babes that we have helped nature into full grown ideas, but at the moment my favourite project has been a song that hasn't been released yet called "WHY DO I CRY" (which will be released in June/July). (I can talk about this but I imagine maybe you want something I've released?) 

All my songs have a specific mood and emotional purpose, so it's difficult to actually say which is a "favourite". Since fans have their favs, I always seem to want to give my less popular songs more attention. "incredible" and "waking up is always a disappointment" are two of my more experimental poetic songs that last no longer than 2 minutes. They are both pieces of musical poetry which remind me where I came from and to never forget how music can be played with to create a specific emotion. It reminds me that songs always be a complete verse chorus verse structure, and that I've done it before! Those are both songs that when I listen to them again, I just remember so exactly how I felt when I wrote them, every single time. 

How has the last 16-months been for you as an artist? 

The last 16-months have been a whirlwind! I essentially had to spend half of my visa in lockdown, and I had to move back to Taiwan immediately afterwards as a result. It has been excruciating to see so much devastation in the creative communities and other industries, impacting the livelihood of so many wonderful people. Not being able to perform was definitely on the list of missed things. However, to see the silver lining, it proceeded to make all musicians homebound and very keen to collaborate and work together long distance and otherwise, and I was able to get a lot of angsty music and skill building out of the way. I've written many many songs that I plan to properly release this coming year and the next, because I plan to use the time I have not locked at home to go out and hug people! 

It broke my heart that I had to leave Scotland so suddenly, but I will be back this autumn. At the very least, Taipei is free from lockdown and quarantine, so everything is pretty much normal. I've had a few gigs in Taipei already, and I've been out and about every week trying to make up for lost time. It was so weird to perform though, I think it's definitely impacted how comfortable I feel performing in front of a live audience. It'll probably take some time to regain that eagerness to perform. 

What was your last release?

On May 31st, I released a song called 'PROFESSIONAL WOMAN' which is a house music ballroom inspired song dedicated to trans women and female identifying people everywhere. It's meant to highlight the work it takes to have your gender recognised, especially when it's done so flawlessly and professionally ;) . In light of the GRA not getting passed and just general transphobia across the country and the world, I wanted a fun song that all my lady friends and they/thems to pose and strut to. It's mixed and mastered by a dear friend of mine, maniatrix, who also did a "WHITE GIRL REMIX" of the song that will also be released with it as a bonus track. 

Any concrete future plans? Or are you taking things as they come?

It's hard to make any plans given COVID and the inability to travel. I'm dying to come back to the UK, but at the moment it seems unwise until the vaccine is more available in Taiwan. My plans so far are to do a few gigs and festivals in Taiwan, and then go back in November to participate in the Great Western Festival. Everything is still quite up in the air! 



Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Anything Goes & Everything Flows DJ mix 2

Welcome to the second in my series of 60-minute mixes where I try and curate a selection of songs that I think would make for an excellent Thursday, Friday or Saturday night in the likes of McChuills or The Variety Bar, two of my favourite pubs in Glasgow. 

'Back in the day' I would be a semi-regular in these bars for pre-club drinks, or more often than not (I was never a big clubber), my friends an I would stay in these bars for the night and enjoy the DJ's playing an eclectic mix of tunes.

So, I hope it's the kind of mix, that if I DJ'd in one of those bars, would get people dancing or coming up to me to ask about the song and who it was by - or maybe both.

There are covers, songs that were sampled to huge impact, a lost gem by Shaun Ryder, a remix, a 12-minute groove by Gil Scott-Heron and pure gospel euphoria.

You can search for Everything Flows DJ mix 2 on Spotify or CLICK HERE.

Inspector Norse - The Gene Dudley Group

He's Gonna Step On You Again - John Kongos

Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So) - The Chi-lites

'B Movie (Intro, Poem, Song) - Gil Scott-Heron

I Got Cash - Brooklyn Funk Essentials

Close The Dam - Shaun Ryder

E.V.A. - Jean-Jacques Perrey, Fatboy Slim

Love Is The Drug (Todd Terje Disco Dub) - Roxy Music

I Get Lifted - KC & the Sunshine Band

Let The Drums Speak - Fatback Band

Cola Bottle Song - Edwin Birdsong

Talking Bout My Baby - Fatboy Slim

Got This Happy Feeling - Ghetto Brothers

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Happy Place



One of the great things about being a music fan is that you get to meet some incredible people; fellow music fans, songwriters, musicians, promoters, bloggers, journalists, presenters ... in the social media age we live in, if you have similar interests and tastes, then it is easy to connect with others who share your passions. 

Stevie and Alan Jukes are brothers that I got to know through their former band Vigo Thieves. I had some fantastic nights with them and co-managed the band with Stevie for a while. As I got to know them I learned how important their family was to them and how much of a hero their Dad Bert was. He'd come from very little and with hard work, exceptional people skills, the gift of the gab, an entrepreneurial flair and the odd slice of luck, Bert Jukes had done pretty well for himself.

All his qualities had rubbed off on his sons. I still fondly remember Stevie hand delivering the Vigo's Heart & Soul Part 1 EP to my house and my name being on the back sleeve among people he wanted to thank. He didn't need to do either of these things, it was just in his nature. Customer service, care, time for a chat, the personal touch.

And I still remember Stevie's intense ambition to breakout of Wishaw, out of Glasgow and out of Scotland. Buying glowsticks to turn the basement of Sleazys into something brighter and more memorable to fit the anthems he was writing, to bring a smile to peoples faces, to make something happen.

Stevie and Al broke from Vigo Thieves to form Saint PHNX and then they really did go for it, bagging proper management, a booking agent, some incredible support shows across Europe and America with the likes of Lewis Capadi and Yungblud, airplay during the superbowl and going on all kinds of crazy adventures.


Bert was along for the ride, happy to man the merch stall across the world in support of his boys. The Saint PHNX social media updates always made me smile. Their family values were on air for the whole world, for their fans ... it was a sense of honesty and openness that I guess you rarely see from some artists. 

Saint PHNX, the Jukes brothers ... they have always been and always will be up for a laugh, unafraid to rip the piss out of themselves ... but they are real. 2 brothers from Wishaw with big dreams, 2 young lads with an incredible desire to push themselves and their songs as far as they could possibly go. But always with family and friends at the heart of everything.

Earlier on this year I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of their Dad, their hero, Bert Jukes. His larger than life personality kind of made him seem pretty invincible. The news hit anyone that knew Stevie and Alan hard, particularly as there couldn't be the kind of send off that the family and Bert's many, many friends would have liked. I half joked to Stevie that they would maybe have needed to book the Hydro in normal times!

Stevie, Bert & Alan

Shortly after Bert's death the brothers announced that they had signed a record deal with Atlantic Records. Thankfully, Bert knew this was happening. I know how happy the news would have made him, how proud he would be. I know how hard his boys have worked for it, for years, a decade! 

Stevie and Al have posted some very personal and emotional video messages on the Saint PHNX social media channels since Bert passed away. They have been grieving privately and in that very modern way, where they've just needed to talk, they have gone live online to do so.

And, that emotion has come out in a song. Happy Place, written about Bert - the house he built for his family in the countryside, about the hills in lower Lanarkshire, the advice he gave his sons ... about the way they are feeling now. 

If I could wish upon a star
I'd wish that I could heal the scars


The chorus is classic Stevie Jukes - personal, but something that anyone with dreams can sing and feel like it has been written for them. I guess we're all looking for a better day, we've felt trapped and maybe gone to our happy place over the last 16-months.  And we've all wanted to turn back time, for various reasons, many through grief. The words come pouring out in a simple melody that I've found myself singing without even knowing I'm singing it.

Over the hills and far away
Looking out for a better day
When it seems like there's no escape
Take me away to my happy place

Somewhere, their Dad is smiling down at them for coming out fighting, for creating something positive and bright out of very dark times. And as always, Bert is at the heart of everything. This time it's under cruel circumstances, but as he always did when he walked into a room, the world is a little brighter.

Happy Place is a big song, written when Saint PHNX hearts were broken, it could be the one that breaks them as a band - in a good way.

R.I.P. Bert Jukes





Thursday, 1 July 2021

Never Ending Mixtape part 62


Hello and welcome to the latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape.

There are now over 2,000 songs on my Spotify playlist that you can CHECK OUT HERE or you can search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify.

I hope the sun is shining wherever you are. I'm posting this on a truly glorious Scottish morning up in St Andrews.

There is a heavy 60's slant to the mixtape with The Left Banke, The Troggs, The Lovin' Spoonful, Nico, Joni Mitchell and more featuring. Outwith that incredible decade, we have classic Beck, CAN, Caribou, The Avalanches, Belle and Sebastian b-sides and loads more.

Enjoy and thanks if you are one of the 226 people who follow my playlist.

TOP TIP - if you go into the playlist and then search for Oh Yeh Soweto it will play the songs listed below in order.

Oh Yeh Soweto - Teaspoon Ndelu and The Waves

Got Me Tight - Teaspoon Ndelu and The Waves

Just A Dream - Talulah Gosh

Walk Away Renee - The Left Banke

I've Got Something On My Mind - The Left Banke

Wild Thing - The Troggs

Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind - The Lovin' Spoonful

With A Girl Like You - The Troggs

I Can't Control Myself - the Troggs

Lonely Boy - The Black Keys

Paradise Circus - Massive Attack

Bring on Back the Good Times - Love Affair

No Regrets - The Walker Brothers

Everlasting Love - Robert Knight

Winter Wooskie - Belle and Sebastian

Take Your Carriage Clock And Shove It - Belle and Sebastian

The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner -  Belle and Sebastian

Loser - Beck

Don't Forget Your Neighbourhood - Cola Boyy and The Avalanches

Radio - The Avalanches

Piece of My Heart - Big Brother and the Holding Company w/ Janis Joplin

Lost and Lookin' - Sam Cooke

These Days - Nico

These Days - Jackson Browne

The Partisan - Leonard Cohen

The Ballad of the Green Berets - John Philip Sousa

Groovin' - Aretha Franklin

Cactus Tree - Joni Mitchell

Caifornia Dreamin' - Jose Feliciano

Light My Fire - Jose Feliciano

Chest Fever - The Band

The Darkness That You Fear - The Chemical Brothers

Give Me Your Love - Girl Ray

Analogue Bubblebath - Aphex Twin

Happy (Is My Life) - Velvet Hammer

Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In) - julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity

Night People - Allen Toussaint

Fire and Brimstone - Link Wray

Dear Prudence - Ramsey Lewis

I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler - YACHT

Here Come The Warm Jets - Brian Eno

Deadly Valentine - Charlotte Gainsbourg

Automatic - DBFC

Anna - Will Butler

Bees - Caribou

Felony - The Allergies

Jackie - Scott Walker

Yeh, Yeh - Georgie Flame and The Blue Flames

She Brings The Rain - CAN

Shake Some Action - Flamin' Groovies