Monday 29 November 2021

Bandwagonesque at 30

My battered and worn 30-year copy of Bandwagonesque

30-years ago I was a 15-year old developing a healthy obsession for music. Raiding my parents record collection, buying the NME and Melody Maker every week, listening to Peel occasionally, the Evening Session a lot and making trips to Missing Records in Glasgow or Impulse Records in Hamilton. 

But arguably my biggest musical education stemmed from conversations and mixtapes at school. I distinctly remember a tape my friend Grant Mitchell made me containing Everything Flows and Don’t Need A Drum by Teenage Fanclub.

Living in the Lanarkshire backwater of Carluke, I was intrigued that this band from Bellshill, a 20-minute car/train ride away, were generating such a buzz. Then all of a sudden there were new singles; the blitz of Star Sign and the impeccable The Concept. Teenage Fanclub were a band happening NOW! I was falling for The Beatles and there is never a bad time to fall for The Beatles, but I was 30-years too late. I'd fallen heavily for the Stone Roses, but I was playing catch up on all their singles and I was 2-years too late, 2-years too young to get into them at their peak.

Bandwagonesque might have been the first album I really looked forward to buying upon release as a teenager, certainly the first from a band so close to home.

This wasn't Manchester, London or Seattle. This was 4 guys from Bellshill, just up the road from me in Carluke. They were playing London, going to America, in the NME, the Melody Maker, recording a Peel Session, they were on MTV and December was even background music for a hot air balloon feature on Blue Peter!

Teenage Fanclub felt like the perfect band, at just the perfect time and Bandwagonesque was the perfect album. They felt real, within touching distance.

Why was it the right album? For all the reasons it still is.

The humour, or at times just blatant cheek. The star kissing harmonies, the glorious guitar sounds, the brilliant use of swearing in Alcoholiday, the kind of cool but also kind of sh*tty sleeve. 3 different songwriters and singers, a crazy drummer. The innocent lyrics in songs like Sidewinder  ‘saw you there with long blonde hair, eyes of blue, oh baby, I love you’ that fitted in so perfectly for young teenage boys (like me) who fell in love with a different girl every day.

Yeah Teenage Fanclub were special, Bandwagonesque was special. They both still are.

The intro lyrics to opening song The Concept still make me smile and tell you so much about the bands humour;

She wears denim wherever she goes

Says she’s gonna get some records by the Status Quo

Oh yeah, oh yeah

I could be jumping around my bedroom singing yeah, yeah, yeah to The Beatles or oh yeah, oh yeah to Teenage Fanclub. The closing extended outro of The Concept gets better with age. The guitars, the harmonies, I'd be happy if it went on forever.

The riff of Satan always makes me reminisce about the band breaking into it live, the chiming guitar of December and Gerry Love singing she don’t even care, but I would die for her love struck a chord as a teenager, now it’s like a symphony, just perfect. 

What You Do To Me is 2-minutes of guitar pop perfection. So simple, so sublime, so pure, so perfect for fitting on to either side of a C90 mixtape you were making for your friend, or to now bring a burst of sunshine to a playlist. McGinley’s guitar on I Don’t Know mesmerises, Star Sign shimmers beautifully and bursts into life in a way that still makes me want to pogo and I don't think I'll ever lose that feeling.

Flip to side 2, Metal Baby still makes me smile, Pet Rock and the aforementioned Sidewinder echo of young innocent love and infatuation, while Alcoholiday is another song that ages like a fine wine, the guitars sound more glorious, Blake singing ‘there are things I want to do, but I don’t know if they will be with you’ tugs on heartstrings. And the last 80 odd seconds of guitar - swoon! 

Guiding Star is so blissfully dreamy and Is This Music? allows you to get lost in the hypnotic riffs and answer - yeah, yeah it is music. And it’s by Teenage Fanclub, my favourite band in 1991 and my favourite band in 2021. Still creating brilliant albums with guitars, harmonies and full of songs to soundtrack my life.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Get Back Part 2


So where we?

Oh yeah, George has left The Beatles, leaving John, Paul, Ringo and Yoko to kind of break down in the studio, letting out their own frustrations in experimental noise. 

On Sunday, The Beatles all head out to see George to try and persuade him to come back. It doesn't go well. They then hear through the grapevine that Harrison is in Liverpool, so that leaves them with a few days of hanging around.

At one stage, early in Part 2, Paul McCartney has tears glistening in his eyes as the remaining Beatles sit around contemplating that this might be the end. It's a very emotional and moving scene. We are also able to listen to Paul and John talking off camera, thanks to a microphone hidden in the Twickenham Studio canteen.


George returns! The band move out of the cavernous Twickenham Studios (which really didn't help in any way at all) and into a kind of DIY Apple studio in Saville Row. It's just a small rehearsal room and Glyn Johns, seemingly single handedly, constructs a control room and studio.

All of a sudden, John Lennon seems like a different person. Acting up for the camera, bantering with McCartney, changing into fresh clothes, finding energy and enthusiasm for the project.

George is back, but he is off camera for large chunks of part 2. Was that part of the deal for him coming back? He's sitting in the corner behind John and Yoko and due to the reduced size of the room, the cameras can't get to him easily.

For a while it's just all Paul and John, laughing with each other, bouncing off each other, in the zone. It's so beautiful to watch.

And then Billy Preston comes in and the band are all over him. Smiling, laughing, talking of the Hamburg days. Preston sits in with them, looking super stylish and cool, but also like the cat who got the cream ... or The Beatles!

Preston jams with ease and the mood is lifted again. The decision to banish any thoughts of travelling to record a finale to the film/documentary also helps with the relaxed atmosphere. And McCartney changes the performance date decisively, pushing it back to allow more time to play. McCartney also takes charge and the others let him - saying that they need purpose for and outcomes from every day.

And then George is smiling! The scowls from episode 1 seem like a distant memory / nightmare. All of a sudden George is suggesting they release Get Back as a single - next week. For the first time, the band are a real band - singing from the same sheet (with help from Mal Evans writing down the lyrics) in the rehearsal room and also in the control room. Everyone is on the same page - even Michael Lindsay-Hogg who had previously been trying to badger the band into travelling and scenes ... he is just enjoying the mood, the music and the opportunity to watch the band at work - just like us.

The beauty of the documentary really shines in part 2. The Beatles at work and play - together. Lennon wisecracking, McCartney in the zone, Starr loving it and George is even allowed to make suggestions without being shot down!

I particularly love the footage of the band playing George's For You Blue with Lennon improvising on the slide guitar that has just been brought in. We get to see the take that was used on the original Let It Be album, with Harrison highlighting that he wants something raw, recorded in a maximum of 4 takes.

There is also incredible footage of The Beatles 1968 trip to India, beautifully edited to fit in with a conversation that Paul is leading about watching his homemade footage the previous night. 

And then conversations change from the band playing on Primrose Hill to playing on the roof of the building they are in. We see the smile on Paul's face as this suggestion is relayed to him and then we see him boosting himself and others on to the roof for a look. This is a brilliant scene, a real pleasure to witness the suggestion and the first look at the rooftop.

I'll go back to watch part 2 of Get Back many times over the months and years ahead. From feeling a little heartbroken watching the tension, frustration, lack of direction and George walking out in part 1 ... to laughs, smiles and the sight of The Beatles playing and having fun - beautiful.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Get Back Part 1

I was introduced to The Beatles Let It Be album as a teenager. i distinctly remember buying the cassette from Impulse Records in Hamilton and playing it on the way back to Carluke in the car with my Mum. 

It's not the best Beatles record, it's not my favourite, but I love it. The rawness, the guitar sounds, Lennon singing everybody had a wet dream, a mention for Matt Busby, McCartney pouring his heart out ... and then I'd learn of the rooftop gig. One of my favourite Beatles moments.

And I learned of how the album came about, of how the film that documented recording was essentially a documentary of The Beatles breaking up on screen.

And then came the trailer for Peter Jackson's new version of the documentary that promised the band playing together, joking and looking like a band.

Who is right? The legions of fans who had watched bootleg footage over the years? Or Jackson?

Only one way to find out.

Part 1

At one point in Part 1 of the Get Back documentary George Harrison says that The Beatles have 'been in the doldrums for at least 18-months' and it shows. It's January 1969 and they are sitting around in a cavernous studio with dates circled in the calendar for a rehearsal and a show.

Over cups of tea and toast, a glum faced Ringo, scowling Harrison and spaced out Lennon with Yoko by his side (often knitting) and a couple of George's Hare Krishna mates sitting cross legged in the background, The Beatles look a little lost. Paul McCartney, in contrast, looks like he has had a double espresso, raring to go.

Trusty sidekick Mal Evans is there, a very cool looking Glyn Johns who looks like he should be in a band himself and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, almost permanently smoking fat cigars, are trying to cajole them into action.

The trouble is, they have very little new material ready to go. There are immediately bug bears - Lindsay-Hogg constantly goes on about filming the performance in far away places that none of them have the desire to go to, while straight away Harrison is moaning about the sound and lack of equipment. Eventually George's own recording machine 'careful with that, that was £10,000' is wheeled in out the back of an Apple branded truck.

Lennon has Don't Let Me Down, McCartney has Two Of Us and that is about it. They play endlessly with Don't Let Me Down, McCartney adding backing vocals and ad libbing endlessly to try and generate some energy.

His friend Lennon produces some outrageous rock n roll vocals, even while sitting down, but the energy isn't there. Lennon and Ono were heavily rumoured to be in a heroin haze around this time.

Harrison plays All Things Must Pass, but in almost the same breath he says he's not sure he wants any of his songs used. Lennon has the bones of Gimme Some Truth that the band jam through.

George speaks in awe of his friend Eric Clapton, the band play I'm So Tired looking bleary eyed / bored / stoned and Lennon nods off. 

At one point during this stage McCartney was beginning to annoy me, as well as Lennon and Harrison, as he attempted to find something in Don't Let Me Down. Eventually Glyn Johns steps in to offer his own solution and things thankfully move on. 

Paul talks about something being too complicated, needing to be simplified, then complicated, but it's complicated enough ... I'm surprised George didn't down tools and walk off at this point!

'I'm trying to help you, but I always feel as if I am annoying you.' Paul

McCartney is the one that downs his bass, frustrated by the pressure of leading the band after the death of Brian Epstein. 

You could cut the air with a knife, the tension is palpable. This is when George says his famous line about playing whatever Paul wants him to play, or he'll not play at all. This is only day 3.

On day 4, in the face of adversity McCartney starts jamming Get Back. Harrison, despite yawning at the start, realises he is on to something. The footage is remarkable, Paul finding the melody, improvising lyrics, George joining in on guitar. And then Paul finds the hook get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged. Ringo sings it with him. Lennon has yet to turn up!

Lennon rocks up wearing the same clothes as the day before, Lindsey-Hogg goes back to talking about going away, and the good vibe is lost.

At one point McCartney gets frustrated from the lack of enthusiasm, Harrison says that a lot will come out of it if we get the enthusiasm. McCartney says he wants to do a show but doesn't feel a lot of support. It leads to The Beatles default leader saying this will be the last. We either go home, or we do it.

Maybe we have a divorce, says George. Well I said that at the last meeting, says Paul. Who'll get the children, jokes John.

You think things can't go any lower ... then McCartney introduces the band to Maxwell's Silver Hammer! Mal Evans even bangs a hammer! Lennon's eyes have no spark at all. 

On to 8th January Harrison introduces I Me Mine, allegedly about McCartney. If Paul, realises, he hides it well, probably just delighted that George has something to offer. Paul then has a conversation with John to say they are facing a crisis. Lennon offers him the reassurance that he comes up with the goods when he has his back to the wall.

There is a great moment when John and Paul share a microphone, standing up to sing Two Of Us. But then they are back to Maxwell's Silver Hammer!

Then, as The Beatles are all off in different corners of the room, with Lennon discussing a potential amphitheatre show,  McCartney is seated at a piano, playing Let It Be, working on the song lyrics and structure. Starr looks on wistfully and comments to someone that he could watch Paul play piano all day long.

Tension is everywhere though and the people involved in filming and recording notice it. Lindsey-Hogg says to John - Paul and you are not getting on as well as you did. The distraction of not knowing where the actual performance will be filmed takes up a lot of time and discussion. Ranging from hiring boats to Africa, to dance halls, to the Tower of London. George is mightily pissed off at this point.

Day 6, Paul shows up with a fresh faced Linda McCartney looking beautiful and cool. As if to show off to Linda, Paul immediately goes to the piano to play Another Day. Mal Evans leans against the piano and Paul begins to play The Long And Winding Road, Mal writing down lyrics and giving his opinion

Mal's face is lovely, just smiling at his friend displaying his immense creative talent. Linda looks on adoringly. What an absolute joy to see this footage - McCartney totally in the zone, he then plays Golden Slumbers as Linda takes pictures. George arrives and Paul then plays Carry That Weight, his idea for a song for Ringo.

George plays For You Blue, Lennon and Yoko arrive with John still wearing what he describes as his continuity clothes, with moss growing under my arms

Harrison plays a Dylan song, maybe a sign of where he was at, or where he wanted to be. John and Paul re in a jokey mood, George clearly isn't in on the joke.

The footage is remarkable, the four play Let It Be, all of them recognising the beauty in the song. Yoko and Linda chat, laughing and smiling together. For a brief moment, everything seems harmonious.

Day 7 - George does not look happy! Paul and John seem to be interacting well, McCartney is leading on conversation and direction. He is always facing John though, Harrison sits quietly smoking on his amp and is shot down when he attempts to join the conversation. 

McCartney talks about some chords being fashionable or unfashionable, and vamping! Harrison's scowl intensifies as Paul bounces Get Back off John for help with the lyrics. The old partnership is still there. Harrison, is sidelined. It's noticeable he remains seated even when Lennon and McCartney are standing to play Two Of Us.

It's ironic the song the band are playing is titled Two Of Us as Harrison gets up for lunch to announce.

I think I'm leaving the band now. Now. get a placemenmt, write into the NME.

Post lunch, the remaining Beatles appear to have a nervous breakdown on film with Yoko howling as the Paul, John and Ringo create heavy metal noise and feedback. 

What will happen in part 2?

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Introducing Spyres

Glasgow is buzzing again, with the fact that gigs are back playing a huge role in getting the city up and running again and putting smiles on peoples faces.

One of the young bands breaking through at present is Spyres, who recently supported The Jesus and Mary Chain at the Barrowland and who now have headline dates of their own at The Mash House in Edinburgh on 1st December, followed by a hometown gig at Stereo in Glasgow on Thursday 2nd December.

With 3 singles (Otherside, Fake ID and I Don't Care) released to date (all with hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify) and a string of shows, including festivals and the aforementioned support with JAMC, Spyres look set to hit 2022 running. 

Led by Kiera McGuire and Emily Downie, 2 singers/guitarists and songwriters in their teens, with Jude Curran (bass) and Alex White (drums), Spyres have an exciting young energy about them, mixing fiesty and fiery guitars and choruses, with melodic riffs and choruses. Power sometimes, passion always and the talent to bring it all down or play on a riff.

Kiera, Emily & Jude

Listen to the euphoric chorus of Otherside that spills effortlessly into a catchy and playful guitar solo, before flying into a flowing fast paced section, then soars with the chorus again. Then the tale of a great night out in Fake ID, crystal clear vocals for the verses, then harmonies for the chorus, the pace changing to suit. 

While I Don't Care might be my favourite of the singles to date. The chorus is delicious and sugary melodic, leading to a powerful, passionate and punky chorus that I found myself singing the melody to after one listen.

I don't care, if you don't care

When you call me in the morning, while you're acting up for your friends

I don't care, if you don't care

Cause I've heard it all before, when you said you wanted more

Will you miss me when I'm not around

After falling for their singles and live show, I was keen to find out a little more about them.

I mentioned Hole meets Fleetwood Mac in my JAMC review which shows my age, so thanks to Emily from the band for answering my questions and providing me with modern day influences.

Spyres are pretty special, don't wait for that hit single that will come their way. Get into them now.

EF - How did the band for? Where are you all from? How did you get to know each other?

ED - I got to know Keira through playing open mic gigs regularly in and around Glasgow about 4-years ago. We had really similar influences and played a lot of the same music as soloists, so naturally we thought it might be interesting to start playing together.

We were an acoustic duo for around 2-years and as much as we loved doing the acoustic stuff, at the time, we both felt like it would be even better to take that next step and make a bigger and heavier noise. We always wanted to go electric and even when it was just the two of us, we would mess around with the electric guitars, but we were still quite young and didn't really know a lot of people our age to come in  play bass and drums. We're really lucky that the first people we asked to try it out with ended up actually working really well with us. 

Jude and Kiera knew each other through social media so she asked if he was up for giving it a go on bass and Jude knew Alex through playing football and chatting about their interest in music, so Jude asked Alex if he would be up for joining the band as well.

How did you start creating music together? Does anyone take the lead on writing? Or do you jam ideas?

Me and Keira will usually get together with the acoustic guitars and play around with some ideas until we've come up with a melody and the basics of the song. We'll then take it to the boys and just jam it out from there. We'll all add in our own ideas to make the song as good as it can be, so it's really collaborative.

When it was just the two of us, we were playing loads of covers and then it got to a point where we knew we wanted to start making our own music, so we just took inspiration from other artists and wrote our own songs, some of which are still in the set today.

What kind of music are you listening to at present? Have any bands influenced you?

We all love listening to a variety of music and have been influenced by many artists including Wolf Alice, Courtney Barnett and Alvvays. Seeing other girls within the industry not be afraid to make noise really inspires us. There is also a lot of great music coming out of Scotland right now too. And to be part of that scene and seeing our friends do well really helps us as we are all supportive of each other. The music is just getting better all the time.

How did you get on playing The Barrowland with The Jesus and Mary Chain?

It was a total dream come true! We waited nearly 2-years for the gig to go ahead, so we were really excited to finally be playing. The Barrowland is such an iconic Scottish venue, so to be on that stage at such a young age was unreal. Me and Kiera actually played the Barrowland around 5-years ago through the Clutha Trust at an open mic night when we were soloists, so to be back years later together was a full circle moment for us. We also did not expect that amount of people to turn up early and see us play, definitely a gig we will never forget.

Spyres at Barrowland
Review HERE

How much are you looking forward to playing Stereo in December?

Playing live is such a great feeling and our favourite part of being in the band, so to be playing our own headline show will be fun. This will be our final headliner of the year, so we'll be going out with a band and in our home city. What more could you ask for?

You've released 3 cracking singles. Can we expect another soon? Did you get to record during lockdown?

Definitely! We'll have a new single out before the end of the year, so we can't wait for everyone to hear it and will definitely be recording very soon in hopes of getting an EP released next year. We got to record a few times while being in lockdown as well. I Don't Care was written and recorded during this period as the restrictions were lifted for a short while last year. We were gutted we couldn't go out immediately and play it live. We had to wait nearly a year for a live audience to hear it, but since then it has went down a storm. 

Our newest single, coming out soon, was also recorded when things were just getting back to normal, so we're really looking forward to it finally being released.

What are your plans for 2022?

We already have some festivals lined up for next year and new music on the way, so we're really excited to get back out there in the new year with new material. We will be recording more next year too and releasing our first EP with some music videos to go along with. We can't wait to see what 2022 has in store.

As we approach the end of the year, have any bands, songs or albums stood out for you in 2021?

There has been a lot of great music released this year, despite the knock the music industry has had. We especially love Wolf Alice's new album Blue Weekend, Silk Sonic's An Evening With Silk Sonic and the two first singles by Wet Leg.

Kiera and Emily

Spyres - I Don't Care

Spyres - Otherside (live session)

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Shaky Ground

Tom Morgan & Nic Dalton

Cover version of the month #72

Trust me #29

Sneeze are an Australian band that formed away back in 1991. Consisting of Nic Dalton (owner of Half A Cow Records and one-time Lemonhead) and Tom Morgan (Smudge) plus an array of friends when the mood takes them.

Shaky Ground is a song I discovered a long, long time ago when Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, at the height of his pin-up days promoting It's A Shame About Ray, played an acoustic set that went out on the Evening Session with Mark Goodier in 1993. At one point Dando had to stop the show to ask people to stop screaming.

That night he came on stage and introduced himself with the line; 'Hello jolly children of the universe, my name's Evan Dando and I was born in the spring of the summer of love.' I think I might have swooned myself!

NME cover, September 1993

I taped the show and it was a real favourite bootleg of mine for a long time. Just Dando with an acoustic guitar, playing stunning storytelling songs, originals and covers, in his warm and loving way.

The set was actually released as a bootleg called Suck On This.

Back to the original. 

Dando's 1991 trip to Australia really did change things for him, meeting kindred spirits in Morgan (who he would co-write with, as well as covering a number of his songs) and Dalton, (who joined The Lemonheads on bass) as well as their friends and bandmates, including Alison Galloway who Dando wrote Alison's Starting To Happen about.

From what I can gather, Dando recorded Shaky Ground before it's authors could. The song crops up as a b-side on a number of UK/US releases in 1992. Dando also mentions the song in the Lemonheads film Two Weeks In Australia when he is giving the camera a talk through about all the etchings on his guitar.

Dando in a Smudge t-shirt

Sneeze finally got a debut album out on Nic Dalton's Half A Cow records in 1994. 41 songs in 47-minutes has songs as short as 18-seconds, while Shaky Ground is one of the longest at 1 minute 55 seconds.

It is a really beautiful song.

A girl (Alannah Russack I believe) and boy (Tom Morgan) trade lines in the verses and join together in the choruses. Like most of Morgan's songs, it tells a story. Around the time I discovered the song there was a girl who would walk her dog near my house and if I saw her I'd go out to accidentally bump into her, so I particularly love the line;

When I wanna see you, I take Jersey for a walk

What's with all this secrecy, when all we ever do is talk?

I love this song so much. The feeling from the playing, the vocals - male and female on their own and then together for the chorus. The sheer love that comes across in the song , in the performance, never fails to warms my heart.

Dando's version finds him taking on both the male and female lyrics & character, his voice softening when taking on the female lines. 

Hey Jim, how ya doing, do you need someone else?

Well actually Jemima, I'd prefer to be by myself

Sometimes it helps to have someone else along

But if my girlfriend sees us, she'll come to the conclusion it's wrong

Does this mean we're on shaky ground?

I'm happy when you're around

So let's not put our friendship at bay

I love you in a different way

Paradise and catastrophe, they go side by side

You should tell your baby, we've got nothing to hide

When I wanna see you, I take Jersey for a walk

What's with all this secrecy, when all we ever do is talk?

Does this mean we're on shaky ground?

I'm happy when you're around

So let's not put our friendship at bay

I love you in a different way

Written by Nic Dalton & Tom Morgan

Check the Sneeze video HERE

And Evan's (The Lemonheads) version HERE

I've added the song to my cover versions playlist and my Trust Me playlist.

Search for Everything Flows cool cover versions and Everything Flows Trust Me on Spotify.

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt

Monday 15 November 2021

The Jesus and Mary Chain play Darklands at Barrowland

I always have an extra spring in my step in the days leading up to a gig at the famous Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom. It's such a good feeling to have something exciting to look forward to. I guess I was particularly looking forward to The Jesus and Mary Chain playing, as (a) they don't play that often, and (b) they were playing Darklands, their 1987 album, my favourite from their back catalogue.

My friend Joe and I arrived for 7.40pm, in plenty of time to check in with our vaccine passports and head up to the hallowed ballroom to grab a couple of beers. I'd been checking out support band Spyres since the summer. A young band led by Kiera McGuire and Emily Downie, both still in their teens. Spyres have released 3 singles to date, packed with power, riffs, hooks and melodies. Think Hole meets Fleetwood Mac, with maybe a dash of Biffy and Foo Fighters thrown in for good measure.

Spyres won a busy room over with their energetic set. They really rocked out at times, while one of the new songs they played showcased how they are developing as young writers and performers. McGuire and Downie on guitars and vocals traded verses, harmonised beautifully and their duelling guitars created a glorious racket, while the rhythm section Jude Curran (bass) and Alex White (drums) underpinned everything. Their forthcoming single sounds like it will build on the solid platform provided by Otherside, Fake ID and the glorious I Don't Care.

Look out for a forthcoming feature on the band who headline Stereo on Thursday 2nd December.

On to The Mary Chain who arrived onstage at 9.15pm to a huge ovation. Jim Reid immediately unwrapped his mic from the stand, told us they would 'play Darklands, go off for a cup of tea, cause we drink tea these days believe it or not, then come back on and play b-sides, a-sides and other stuff.'

Jim's brother William set up in front of his amps and didn't stray too far from there for the whole performance. Totally lost in the sounds he created. Backed by acoustic, bass and drums, the five piece performed Darklands beautifully, plenty of space, the rhythm was there, but William's raw and loving guitar riffs were always leading the way.

Darklands was beautiful, Happy When It Rains was utterly euphoric, the band hitting their stride immediately. Jim was at the front of the stage, silhouetted by the lights which were magnificent throughout the show. All red at times, beaming like lasers at others, then full on psychedelic in the later set.

The extended version of April Skies was joyous, a real groove. Cherry Came Too was a chiming guitar delight, On The Wall was menacing and edgy in all the right ways, while About You was beautiful.

There's something warm about the rain

Darklands is such a beautiful album and it was a joy to hear and see it being performed with such love, on stage and off.

Energy levels were heightened for the second set, with the acoustic ditched for a second electric. A warm and scuzzy Come On sounded sublime, I Love Rock n Roll was blitzed and I was thrilled to hear Can't Stop The Rock which is as pop as the Mary Chain go.

We had the contrast of the sonic assault of Kill Surf City and the blissful Drop, while I was personally delighted to hear and see the band romp through Something I Can't Have, one of my favourites. The sng flows effortlessly, the Mary Chain sounding super cool.

Jim was on the lip of the stage, lights ablaze, sometimes turning and walking towards his brother William as if to check in on him. William could be facing the crowd, turned towards his brother, or more often than not he was facing his amps to see what noises he could conjure from them. His hair was beautifully messy, like he'd stuck his finger in and been electrocuted. In fact, I think he electrocuted the crowd!

Ending with the white noise (light and heat) of Never Understand, I walked away from the Barrowland with my ears ringing, my face smiling, my heart glowing from the beautiful noise generated by The Jesus and Mary Chain who were in stunning form.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Anything Goes & Everything Flows DJ mix 6

This months 1-hour (62-minute) DJ mix, inspired by the kind of tunes that would be played in McChuills or The Variety Bar back in the early 00's (where the motto was anything goes and everything flows) is a real mix of electronica, soul and northern soul, hip hop and pop. 

Having been in McChuills quite a few times over the last couple of months. I can gladly report that the focus on music is still very much anything goes and everything flows. It's an incredible place.

I'm pretty pleased with this months mix. It's quite eclectic and hopefully contains a couple of jaw dropping tracks. The kind that, if you hadn't heard them before, would cause people to come up to the DJ and ask 'What/Who is that?!' 

Kicking off with a beautiful sunshine soul funk jam by Darondo, reworked by Dave Allison - all wooooohs, strings, grooves and harmonies ... utterly sublime. If I heard this in a bar I would be asking the DJ or bar staff the song title.

Basement Jaxx still sound fresh and fun. Especially when mixed and mashed with The Clash! Daft Punk's Da Funk will stop you in your tracks with its power and intensity, Todd Terje is super playful, Peggy Lee's take on Otis Redding's classic is euphoric, Barbara Ralph is super cool, Andy Smith highlights what he can do in 7-minutes (never mind 60).

De La Soul are utterly magical with Saturdays, Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance still excites, Modjo and Phoenix provide euphoric vocal electro pop, Blue Boy play with a classic and then we have pure pop fun with House Arrest by Crush.

Enjoy this mix. Search for Everything Flows DJ mix 6 on Spotify or CLICK HERE


Didn't I (Dave Allison rework) - Darondo

Magnificent Romeo - Basement Jaxx

Da Funk - Daft Punk

Inspector Norse - Todd Terje

Dock Of The Bay - Peggy Lee

Can I Get A Witness - Barbara Randolph

Freestyle Mash Up - DJ Andy Smith

Saturdays - De La Soul

Buffalo Stance (12-inch mix) - Neneh Cherrry

Lady - Here Me Tonight - Modjo

Too Young - Phoenix

Remember Me - Blue Boy

House Arrest - Crush

Saturday 6 November 2021

Never Ending Mixtape part 66

 I'm still catching up with all the songs I have recently added to my Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify.

Greg Gilbert of The Delays recently died after a very brave fight against cancer. Some people don't like using the word 'fight' when talking about cancer. But as someone who has worked for cancer support and terminal care charity, it is a word I have heard a lot. Greg tweeted about his illness, health and treatment regularly. He was a very talented young man, light shone from him and on him and very sadly he leaves a young family behind. I have fond memories of catching his band The Delays at King Tuts many moons ago. Rest In Peace.

Elsewhere Primal Scream feature heavily following the release of their 12-inch singles boxset and Demodelica album. Paul Heaton is in with The Housemartins and Beautiful South after I kicked myself for not going to his gig and seeing loads of great tweets about it.

There is a great Simon & Garfunkel documentary on the iPlayer, so that prompted me to add a couple of songs, then we have some cool soul from Curtis Mayfield, The Meters and modern day soul from Gabriels. A new song from Phoebe Bridgers, Young Fathers at their best and a couple of vintage songs by The Pastels.

+ loads more.  Dig in and enjoy.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Magician's Success - Vanishing Twin

Professional - Gabriels

Ground Level - Stereo MC's

Long Time Coming - The Delays

Wanderlust - The Delays

Come Together (Farley mix) - Primal Scream

Don't Fight It - Scat mix - Primal Scream

Screamadelica - Primal Scream

The Warhol Me - Tim Burgess

Frying Pan - Ezra Furman

Yours. To Be - Tim Burgess

French Disco - Stereolab

If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next - Manic St Preachers

You Stole The Sun From My Heart - Manic St Preachers

A Minor Incidence - Badly Drawn Boy

I Heard - Young Fathers

Holdin' On To Black Metal - My Morning Jacket

Circles - East Village

Build - The Housemartins

Caravan of Love - The Housemartins

You Keep It All In - The Beautiful South

A Little Time - The Beautiful South

That Funny Feeling - Phoebe Bridgers

The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon and Garfunkel

Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel

Come Together (Jam Studio Monitor mix) - Primal Scream

My Friend - Cindy

No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song) - Curtis Mayfield

Stay Away - The Meters

Friend City (Boxed in remix) - Rozi Plain

Lost Futures -  Marissa Anderson

Distant Snowy Peaks - Gruff Rhys

Thru' Your Heart - The Pastels

Not Unloved - The Pastels

Beatles & Stones - The House of Love

Lazarus (12-inch version) - The Boo Radleys

Wednesday 3 November 2021

The story of Saint PHNX

Long term readers of my blog will know that I used to help manage a band from Wishaw called Vigo Thieves. I had so many good times with the band; as a manager, friend and fan.

Stevie Jukes, the singer, songwriter, frontman and driving force behind the band pushed and pulled the band as far as he could take them. Then he regrouped to write more songs.

The new songs had a new sound and feel to them and so Stevie formed Saint PHNX with his brother Alan.

Stevie and Alan aimed high from the very start, contacting all the major management companies in the world, cheekily following up on their email to The Killers management team and getting a reply.

That reply was the start of a rollercoaster ride of highs, loops and lows. Saint PHNX got close to a record deal, they got closer, they had offers, then all of a sudden they were miles away ... then they were up, playing to 25,000 people in America, record label showcases, before hitting as low as they could go, ready to give up...

I've not even told half of their story.

But a new podcast/vlog from Glasgow called GlasGo caught up with the band to get their story. I watched part 1 last night and I was enthralled. What a journey! I laughed at the two brothers bouncing off each other, marvelled at their cheek, hard work and ambition and gasped at how low they got. I wasn't aware of how bad things got.

If you're a music fan, if you're in a band, then you should watch this. Ambition, dreams, parties, huge shows, cheap flights, no money for food, sharing beds, things going horribly wrong and then a lifeline...

This is just part 1! Roll on part 2! CLICK HERE if you don't see the video embedded below.

Monday 1 November 2021

Tim Burgess at FRETS Strathaven Hotel

Pre-lockdown, I really enjoyed heading through to Strathaven Hotel for an intimate performance by Norman Blake and Euros Childs. Jeez, almost 2-years ago! 

The gig was one of the first to be put on by Douglas MacIntyre of FRETS Creative, also of the band Port Sulphur and Creeping Bent record label. A man with many strings to his bow.

You can read or hear about all of them in an interview and podcast that Douglas has previously helped me out with.

Douglas MacIntyre interview

Douglas MacIntyre podcast

Strathaven is a lovely little town and the hotel is stunning. I can highly recommend their pints of Moretti - beautifully chilled and refreshing! I couldn't wait to get back over for another show. Rightly or wrongly, I hadn't quite felt confident enough to go to The Bluebells back at the start of September, but now the plaster is well and truly ripped off and I am thoroughly enjoying being back at gigs. 

Friday night was my 6th in 2-months. Not bad going for someone in their mid-40's with 2 kids. I'd be quite happy to continue the 3 per month ratio!

Tim Burgess, Mark Collins, David Scott, Stuart Kidd & Duglas T Stewart

I was particularly looking forward to Tim Burgess, Norman Blake and Duglas T Stewart playing together. 3 singer-songwriters and band leaders that I have followed and admired for 30-years.

Sadly, as a stark reminder that the pandemic isn't over, Norman had to pull out of the show after testing positive. Duglas kindly updated us to say that Norman is doing well and on the mend.

The FRETS shows do start early and unfortunately we missed the first BMX Bandits song - Duglas with his friends David Scott and Stuart Kidd. But we were in luck, there were a few seats in the 2nd row, so we settled in for the rest of a lovely soulful set.

Duglas was his warm, charming and passionate self. Dedicating the song Jean by Rod McKuan to his late Mum, telling us of how his Dad used to sing it across the kitchen table to the love of his life. 

Duglas spoke about how much this song means to him in a podcast we recorded way back in 2016 that you can check here Other highlights included A Missing Front Tooth from the recently released My Chain album was a melodic delight, Foggy from the Bee Stings album was beautiful and a pleasant surprise.

After a short interval, David Scott was back on with Stuart Kidd to perform as The Pearlfishers. I have to confess to not being incredibly knowledgeable about their back catalogue. Highlights were a couple of songs from their 2007 album Up With The Larks. Guitars and voices entwined, beautiful harmonies and melodies.

Just after 9pm Tim Burgess walked from a side door and up on to the stage. Wearing a long overcoat, plain white t-shirt, faded jeans and classic Reeboks, Tim picked up his guitar and took a seat to a huge ovation.

Highlighting that this was his first ever solo acoustic show, Tim did seem as nervous as he said he was, however he still had the confidence to begin with a brand new song called Here Comes The Weekend. Beautifully melodic, telling the tale of a romance across the seas involving calls and messages, it sounded super cool. 

Watching Tim playing acoustic up close was a real treat. His songs were stripped right back, highlighting how strong his vocal melodies and song structures are. The Charlatans Trouble Understanding got an early outing alongside solo material from 2020 releases. A handful of songs from I Love The New Sky and the beautiful Yours To Be from the Ascent of the Ascended EP. The latter has become a real favourite of mine and I really appreciated seeing and hearing Tim playing it in this way.

I thought I liked you, but I love you

That's how things can go

I may seem distant, but I heard you

Playing on the radio

Tim then shouted for his friend and band mate Mark Collins to come on stage to a large cheer. Mark looking super cool in desert boots, jeans, mod jacket and haircut. 

After playing Different Days and Emilie, Stuart Kidd came back on stage for the 3rd time to add harmonies and percussion on a trio of Charlatans classics. Hearing The Only One I Know stripped back to the bones was remarkable, the way Mark and Stuart played/jammed it was brilliant. The crowd sang along heartily. Then .... we had Then. Another song I didn't anticipate hearing in acoustic form. And it worked.

Photo by Ross Sinclair

North Country Boy
was a delight, the melody changed to suit. Tim didn't play Doors of Then or White when I saw him recently at King Tuts, so it was fantastic to hear them.

The laid back friendly nature of FRETS and the evening was highlighted and underlined when Duglas and Davie came back on to the stage to play BMX Bandits seminal Serious Drugs. Duglas and Tim traded verses and I think everyone's heart felt warmer afterwards. 

Tim then sent his love to Norman and said that the best way to do it would be to play a song called Norman .... Norman 3. After a false start, the makeshift band played it superbly, another real heartwarmer with everyone in the room singing the Yeah, I'm in love with you refrain.

Just to turn the feel good atmosphere up a further notch, Tim invited a young boy in the front row up to play keyboards and we were treated to a 1-minute performance of the theme from Halloween. (I think!) It was a lovely moment, as was Tim singing to Douglas' daughter. From our position across the aisle we could see just what it meant to her.

There was more to come. Impossible brought a half dozen people waltzing down the aisle, singing a-long and punching the air, causing smiles in the crowd and onstage. Here Comes A Soul Saver and Just When You're Thinking Things Over caused a few more people to get up and dance at the end. 

Afterwards it was so good to speak to friends I haven't seen for a while. Everyone was basking in the warmth generated by the show.

It's so good to see Tim so busy and buzzing with his solo album and with The Charlatans recent A Head Full Of Ideas boxset/best of. He has the best of both worlds - small, laid back and intimate shows in King Tuts and the Strathaven Hotel and then back in Glasgow in December at the Academy.

Check the FRETS website for future gigs and sign up to their newsletter.