Monday 20 June 2022

Strung Out In Heaven

I've always loved the sound of an acoustic guitar combining with an electric. And the sound of boy/girl voices singing at the same time. I caught up with my friend James |a number of times through the last two years to jam on guitars and I discussed the perfect sound I'd like to create if I was in a band. We ended up forming one!

James pointed me in the direction of Strung Out In Heaven by the Brian Jonestown Massacre ... and what a recommendation that has proved to be!

Released back in 1998, Strung Out In Heaven was the 7th full album by the already prolific band. There were a couple of major differences to this record than those that had gone before. Firstly, it was released on TVT Records, a much larger independent label than those the band had been on before. Secondly, and most importantly, it was the first Jonestown record where guitarist Matt Hollywood led a little more on the sound and contributed more to the songwriting, taking lead vocals on a number of songs.

The album has such a beautiful natural feeling to it. Dreamy, stoned, heartfelt and the sound of a band totally in their own world, happy and at ease.

Opening song Going to Hell has Newcombe on lead vocals, keys underpin everything as the band crash gloriously together into a real groove, the lead guitar is played so warmly and lovingly. The feeling and energy bursting out of the speakers is infectious.

Well they say you've been good

And some say you've been bad

I like to laugh when you're happy baby

You make me cry when you're sad

Jennifer is a real favourite of mine. Lazy laid back guitar chords and Newcombe and Miranda Lee Richards vocals combine in 

Right over my bed while I was sleeping

You said the clouds were always weeping rain

I'd love to show you but I don't know what to do again

The laid back sunshine stoned groove of Spun is all kinds of mellow goodness.Listen to the cello coming in at 2 minutes 56 seconds when Hollywood sings

Cause I feel like I've been spinning round and round

Yeah I feel like I've been spinning round and round

It's really beautiful, then the beats, guitars and Hammond organ kick back in as Hollywood blissfully sings

You're my sunshine

You're my sunshine

Got My Eye On You is another favourite. The rhythm guitar is solid, allowing the band to just groove. The vocals are deliciously loose; going all falsetto at times, while at others there just adlibbed shouting over the top - bombs away baby!

Maybe Tomorrow starts and drifts beautifully like The Stones. Matt Hollywood's lead vocals strain in all the right dreamy ways.

Baby you can take your time

And maybe tomorrow if the sun don'tshone

I'm gonna walk around until I find

Somebody to treat me, to treat me kind

Strung Out In Heaven is an album I've returned to regularly over the last couple of years. If you haven't heard it, then I highly recommend checking it out or tracking a copy down.  

Brian Jonestown Massacre - full live show from 1998

Brian Jonestown Peel Session from 1998

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Keep On Dreaming

Keep On Dreaming is the second single from my sometime/part-time band Starboard Hazes.

The song had the working title Lemonhead right up until when it was recorded. It's one of the few songs where I had the music before the lyrics. I thought the chords were very Lemonheads-y, so that became the title.

A lot of musicians who are much better than me will say that eventually you just have to let go of a song. Stop tinkering with it, stop taking things out or adding things in..

I get that. I'd have liked to spend more time on this. To make it a little more Lemonheads-y, maybe with some warm acoustic guitar for the rhythm. But we recorded 4 instrumentals in around 6-hours, going back another day to record vocals. We didn't have much time! 

So although it didn't turn out quite the way I had it in my head, it does capture the energy and zest from the recordings. I was absolutely buzzing, so we raced through it! Me on rhythm guitar, James on lead and Calum Muir on drums.

I think we recorded in 3 takes. Then James overdubbed bass. I went back one evening in February to record vocals with Annmarie Lochrie. Done!

What next?

Well we have another 2 songs we recorded at the start of the year that we'll put out over the summer. We'll start with Bandcamp and then put all 4 out as an EP on other digital channels. I'm at the age where I can't keep up with them all, but I used Spotify!

Then James and I are getting together in the summer to work out 3 or 4 more. After that we'll find out who is available to go into the studio with us to record them. And we also hope to play a gig!

In the meantime, you can stream or download (for free) the single via our Bandcamp.

Me and James working out the songs

Monday 13 June 2022

The Only Way Is Up

 Cover version of the month #77
Yazz and the Plastic Population cover Otis Clay

The Only Way Is Up by Yazz is a cover version!

It's a song I've always loved, euphoric pop music at its very best. 

Written by George Jackson and Johnny Henderson, the song was originally recorded and released by Otis Clay in 1980

Yazz and the Plastic Population released the single in July 1988, the Second Summer of Love (which many will argue lasted for 2 glorious summers), absolutely perfect timing for a generation of people turning on to ecstasy and house music.

The Only Way Is Up hit number one for 5-weeks, going on to become the second biggest selling single of the year. While not quite a one-hit wonder (follow up single Stand Up For Your Love Rights reached no.2 and her album reached no.3), Yazz has recorded and performed very sporadically since those heady days.

Clay's original version of the song has a 45-second intro, jazzy guitar, punchy strings and backing vocals that build for Clay to come in with the opening line. Yet during that intro the positive nature displayed through the song (even when discussing how low things are) is teased by Clay declaring. We're gonna make it, we're gonna make it baby

It's the classic love will conquer all; homelessness/eviction/hunger ... no matter what, if Clay and his love stay together then they can make it - they are low but the only way is up.

Clay and his band hit a groove and I've found myself listening back to the song regularly since I discovered it. I've definitely fallen for it, but the Yazz version will always have a special place in my heart.

Actually, it would be interesting to hear Yazz's vocals over Clay's instrumental track.

 But back to those heady days of 1988 and Yazz's version of The Only Way Is Up.

Horns, an urgent beat, squelchy synth and Yazz's vocal come in on the intro to the first verse. It's interesting to read the lyrics to the verses in black and white. They capture the time in a different way - highlighting the real struggle people were facing in the 80's - broken down, lowest turn, sure ain't no fun and not knowing where the next meal is coming from.

The build in the bridge is just teasing us ahead of the euphoric chorus, Yazz and her backing singers urging us to hold on, hold on ... before declaring ...

The only way is up, baby

For you and me now

The only way is up, baby

For you and me now

Yazz's vocals rise through the next verses before the bridge and the thrilling chorus kick in. After an instrumental, we're back to the bridge before the chorus is hammered home time and time again. It's pure pop perfection

As it was the 80's, there is, but of course, an extended 12-inch version, adding a full 2-minutes on to the song. This allows for an extra instrumental with strings, a breakdown, some 80's effects, which disappointingly (at least for me) doesn't build back into the chorus.

Check the Otis Clay version HERE and the Yazz versions HERE 

EDIT and one of the first people to read the blog has alerted me to this mellow acoustic version by Stornoway. Check that HERE

All previous cover version of the month blogs are listed below. To listen, search for Everything Flows Cool Cover Versions playlist, featuring all of the songs below, on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt
39. ABBA-esque
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
64. Lola

Sunday 12 June 2022

Dear Scott


This album is just what I needed. Listening to it washes me with a sense of calmness and very welcome escapism from these extremely troubled times that we're living in.

I've not really been listening to a great deal of music that's been released in 2022. I've been preferring to look back the way. Perhaps, subconsciously, in relation to life in general and not just music. Dreaming of simpler times.  

Some things never change though. Some things never should. 

Michael Head has a rich musical history; with The Pale Fountains, Shack, as Michael Head and The Strands and now as Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band. Head's last album, Adios Senor Pussycat was my album of the year in 2017. Many cite him as England's finest songwriter.

You kind of know what you're roughly going to be getting - but it surpasses expectations. Chiming and jangling guitars reminiscent of The Byrds, horn and string flourishes influenced by Forever Changes, an album by a band beloved by many a scouser. The melodic and dreamy voice, storytelling lyrics.

Bill Ryder-Jones is on production duties and he does a fantastic job alongside Head and his Red Elastic Band. The songs have plenty of room to breathe, the rhythm section grooves nicely, the guitars have loads of sixties style effects, dreamily psychedelic. The little break on Grace and Eddie is utterly sublime.

I'm not going to do a full on track by track review, I'm still basking in this album, appreciating it more with every listen. Here are a few additional highlights from the first few listens though;

Singles Kismet and Broken Beauty open the album with a real sense of purpose. The aforementioned guitars chime. Head's voice sounds alluringly rich and experienced as he sings it's getting cold, can't wait to put my arm around your shoulders

Kismet fizzes beautifully, the way Head just throws his head back and sings oh, oh, oh , oh as horns rage around him is brilliant.

Broken Beauty is a real gem. Guitar pop soul, the strings and horns rise for the stunning chorus.

People try to put you down

They don't win

Freedom sounds instantly familiar, is there a little Donovan in the riff? Head's voice is extra soft and gentle, warm and soothing. 

Fluke features Head having a little laugh as he sings, the shift in pace at 2-minutes 10 seconds is stunning, things slow back down, Head observing life. Beautiful.

The closing 67 seconds of Gino & Rico is heart warming and spine tingling, 

Pretty Child has the energy of Ryder-Jones former band The Coral. The lead guitar is enthralling, the warm acoustic underpins everything, there is yet another glorious break as the song veers off on a delightfully dreamy tangent. 

Closing song Shirls Ghost is simply heavenly. A beautiful lush instrumental, the strings could melt or break your heart depending on your mood. 

Dear Scott (named after a postcard F. Scott Fitzgerald addressed to himself upon checking into The Garden of Allah Hotel in Hollywood during a challenging period. This captured the imagination of Head. His songs clearly captured the imagination of his band and producer. 

I didn't make Head's recent Saint Luke's show. I hope he returns to Glasgow sometime soon.

Kismet video

Broken Beauty video

Thursday 9 June 2022

Anything Goes & Everything Flows DJ Mix 14

Patti Jo - Make Me Believe In You

Welcome to my 14th 60-minute DJ mix under the title of Anything Goes & Everything Flows. 

This series has quickly become my most viewed blogs with most of the 13 to date being viewed 1,500 + times, with quite a few well over 2,000. So thanks if you read the blog and enjoy the mixes/playlists.

My idea was to create a monthly 60-minute playlist/mix to try and create the vibe I would get from entering The Variety / McChuills in Glasgow on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. DJ's would work their magic to get the crowd in the mood for moving on to a club, or in my case, often opting to just stay in the bar.

In these magical bars that I frequently visited through my 20's, the DJ's would spin incredibly cool tunes, many that I had never heard before, causing me to go up and ask the DJ what they were playing. McChuills and The Variety were places where the music policy was very much anything goes and everything flows.
Tom Moulton, two of his mixes feature in this playlist

I've tried to create mixes that are 60-minutes in length with real thought behind the song selection and order. Search for Everything Flows DJ Mix 14 on Spotify or CLICK HERE

This month has a soul and funk flavour. There are dirty grooves, but also some really euphoric moments, notably Thelma Houston tearing through I've Got The Music In Me and Tom Moulton getting that little extra through his mix of one of my all-time favourite songs - Don't Leave Me This Way. Moulton also really works on the groove on Al Green's classic Let's Stay Together, while Otis Clay's The Only Way Is Up will receive it's own blog in the near future!

Dig in and enjoy. This is probably my favourite 60-minute mix so far. 

Jazzie's Groove - Soul II Soul

Make Me Believe In You - Patti Jo

Let's Stay Together (Tom Moulton mix) - Al Green

Love Having You Around - Stevie Wonder

The Only Way Is Up - Otis Clay

Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Inner Life

Moira Jane's Cafe - Definition Of Sound

It's A Shame (My Sister) - Monie Love 

I've Got The Music In Me - Thelma Houston

Got To Get You Into My Life - The Beatles

Don't Leave Me This Way (Tom Moulton mix) - Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

Tuesday 7 June 2022

Never Ending Mixtape part 73

Welcome to part 73 of my Never Ending Mixtape. Now approaching 2,700 songs! 

Thanks so much if you check it out and special thanks to my 294 followers! 

These days, I have to admit that I mostly listen to music via Spotify. I've been talking of buying a new record player for almost 3-years! But then the ability to listen to music via my Bluetooth speaker in my kitchen, living room, garden, bedroom or summer house really suits my lifestyle.

With 2 kids and a busy life, the opportunity to get the living room to myself, rifle through my record collection and stick on a record or 3 is one that I haven't had the time for properly in ... too many years to mention!

To think, pre kids I had a music room! Of course I wouldn't swap them for the world!

I add songs to my Never Ending Mixtape at random and catch up with a monthly blog.

This month begins with a classic from Deacon Blue, a few from The Streets who I hadn't listened to in ages - Mike Skinner sounded so urgent, different and energetic when he broke and these songs still have all these qualities and more after all this time.

We have dirty raw rock n roll, soul, electro, indie and plenty to get stuck into. Check Soul At Sunrise by Juggy Murray, a stunning soul instrumental.

If you visit the playlist you can then type in Dignity to start playing the latest additions. Or you can press shuffle, or dive in wherever you want. 

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

As always, I hope you find something you've never heard before that you fall in love with, or that you rediscover an old favourite.

Dignity - Deacon Blue

You Don't Have To Cry - Crosby, Stills & Nash

I Need A Connection - Jane Weaver

Ice Cream - New Young Pony Club

I Told Her on Alderaan - Neon Neon

Ready 2 Wear - Felix Da Housecat

It's Too Late - The Streets

Weak Become Heroes - The Streets

Blinded by the Lights - The Streets

Dry Your Eyes - The Streets

What Kind Of Fool - The Tams

Love & Hate - Michael Kiwanuka

Black Man In A White World - Michael Kiwanuka

Summer Girl - HAIM

The Steps - HAIM

Torn and Frayed - The Rolling Stones

Stop Breaking Down - The Rolling Stones

Shine A Light - The Rolling Stones

You Are Wrong - The Altered Hours

Change Will Come - mauv, Pixx

Second Time - The Goa Express

Fireworks - TeenCanteen

Friends - TeenCanteen

You Can Hide Your Love Forever - Comet Gain

Forever - The Charlatans

Go Where You Wanna Go - The Mamas & the Papas

It Won't Be Wrong - The Byrds

Questions - Buffalo Springfield

California Stars - Billy Bragg & Wilco

Everything Counts - Depeche Mode

Dreaming of Me - Depeche Mode

Situation - Yazoo

Only You - Yazoo

Doves (Vince Clarke remix) - Future Islands

I've Got The Music In Me - Thelma Houston

Dirty Blvd - Lou Reed

Coney Island Baby - Lou Reed

Sad Song - Lou Reed

Blood Orange - Poster Paints

Into Your Arms -  Poster Paints

Let Love Live (A Little Bit Longer) - The Velvettes

What Have You Done For Me Lately? - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Hangin' Out - Betty Davis

Everlasting Love - David Ruffin

Take Me For A Little While - Evie Sands

Come On Train - Don Thomas

Sweet Harmony - The Beloved

Getting Away With It (instrumental) - Electronic

Shoot You Down (Soul Hooligan remix) - The Stone Roses

Perfect Motion - Sunscreem

Valium Jazz - Sub Sub

Shock And Awe - Teenage Fanclub

Soul At Sunrise - Juggy Murray

He Ain't No Angel - The Ad Libs

Judge Not (Ray Mang Disco Mix) - The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Groove It Out - Lonelady

Trying To Live My Life Without You - Otis Clay

Friday 3 June 2022

How High

Trust Me #37

Tim Burgess - "The question I get asked the most about The Charlatans isn't 'How does it feel to headline a festival?', or 'How does it feel to write a banger like The Only One I Know?', it's 'Where's the jacket from in the How High video?'" WATCH HERE

I'm not the only one to have wondered this over the years!

It turns out that the original was a prototype and Tim had to hand it back to the stylist. The jacket hadn't been launched and the stylist promised to send one. It never arrived.

Well, 25-years down the line, Tim has teamed up with Hikerdelic to create the jacket.

How High's 25th anniversary is on 9th June, so from 11am on that date until 11pm on June 12th, you can order one from the Hikerdelic website for £125. You get the added bonus of this super cool postcard

Anyway, I thought I'd revisit the classic single for my Trust Me series.

Starting at 100 mph and quickly increasing speed, How High captures the energy and the essence of The Charlatans in 3 explosive minutes.

Tim Burgess is in full flow, barely coming up for air, even when his band slow down, he keeps on going. There are a couple of short instrumentals where Tim has time to recharge before bursting back in.

Seeing The Charlatans live in 1997 was an incredible experience. I've often reflected on their regular Barrowland shows from this period as being like cup finals. And Burgess was the conductor, the midfield playmaker, absolutely on one. He still is. So are the band.

My favourite line is probably when Tim sings hang on to your hopes my darlin' don't let it slip away. I love the way the band slip in and out of this section before coming crashing back in again. 

Signing off with yeah, too high, gonna pledge my time 'til the day I die, the song is over in under 3-minutes, but instruments are allowed to fuzz and fade out. I like to imagine the band absolutely nailing it and looking round at each other in the studio as they allow this to happen.

A list of all previous songs I've blogged about in my Trust Me feature are listed below the lyrics to How High, along with links to each blog.

I've also collated them all into a playlist on Spotify that you can find by searching for Everything Flows - Trust Me , or you can CLICK HERE

How high?
Oh I can kiss the sun
Run a minute mile
While you hitch hike
Love shines a light
I'll be a winners cup
And I'm lookin' for the one who cut you up
You're not having me
You know the skies are mean
And I'm hopin' for a way to free you

Love I'm fixin' holes
The ones you break up
Come in from your drive
And the hand that rocks you
Cuts you up, like lyrics of your life

I can't buy
What I've done before
I wanna open up another door
I'm gonna let you pass
I'm on another path
I wanna be the king
While you zig zag
On a holy road
Like Caine from Kung Fu
How high, oh I can kiss the sun

Hang on to your hopes my darlin'
Don't let it slip away
And the hand who holds you
Keeps you warm
And helps you live today

Love shines a light
And it takes and it hurts
I know I'm right
I can bend 'til I burst
And love shines a light
And repays you with us
Yeah too right
I'm gonna pledge my time until the day I die

How high?
Oh I can kiss the sun
Run a minute mile
While you hitch hike
Love shines a light
I'll be a winners cup
And I'm lookin' for the one who cut you up
You're not having me
You know the skies are mean
And I'll be lookin' for a way to free you

Love I'm fixin' holes
The ones you break up
Come in from your drive
And the hand that rocks you
Cuts you up, like lyrics of your life

Love shines a light
And it takes and it hurts
I know I'm right
I can bend 'til I burst
And love shines a light
And repays you with us
Yeah too right
I'm gonna pledge my time until the day I die

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 Love Affair
27. Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
28. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
29. Shaky Ground by Sneeze
29. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
30. I Can Feel Your Love by Felice Taylor
31. The State We're In by The Chemical Brothers w/ Beth Orton
32. Sunshine After The Rain by Ellie Greenwich
33. Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem
34. Mondo 77 by Looper
35. Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
36. Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats