Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hallowe'en Special

Fright Night Mix Tape

Sonovac - Profondo Rosso
Scientist - Plague Of Zombies
Bronnt Industries Kapital - Song Of The Easton Strangler
Jadell - The Geometry Of Fear
Immense - Death To The Gremlins
Boards Of Canada - The Devil Is In The Details
The Scientist - Exorcist
Don Loves You - Don't Cross The Streams!!!

The White Noise Revisited is off on holiday for a while. Please check back next week when normal service will be resumed. For now, grab this special Hallowe'en Mix Tape and take care out there...


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Picture The Scene...

Adam & The Ants - Beat My Guest

...it’s 1981. I’m 8 years old. It’s Saturday morning and I’ve just returned from shopping with my Mum, where I went to Woolworths and purchased the 7” of Adam & The Ants’ ‘Stand and Deliver’ with my pocket money. On getting home, I race upstairs and play the A-side 5 times in a row until I know all the words off by heart, ready for the playground on Monday morning. For some reason, by now I’m only wearing my pants. I stick on the B-side. The guitars sound like a siren. The rumbling tribal drums of Terry Lee Miall and Merrick thunder in. The riff breaks out and I go berserk and start leaping about. I look for something to wield as a guitar. I locate a cricket bat. I leap around some more, riffing on the cricket bat. I am Marco Pirroni. I have no idea that the song is about S&M. I don’t even know what S&M is. I hear mention of a cricket bat and think, “That’s weird!?” I yodel along with the chorus. The song ends, Adam says something funny and I put the needle back to the start of the record...

Adam Ant's official website
Buy Adam & The Ants from at Amazon


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Confessions Of A Teenage Hip Hop Addict

When was the last time you spent a whole week’s wages on records? I used to do it all the time. OK, so I’m talking about back when I was a paperboy, and my wages weren’t all that, but still - £7.00 was a lot of money to a 12/13-year-old to blow all at once, especially on just one record. You see, the music I was into was hip hop/ electro, the obsession started in 1984 and, with the exception of Morgan Khan’s life-saving Streetsounds ‘Electro’ compilations, if you wanted to pick up the latest tracks, you had to buy the import releases from the States.

There were two ways of doing this. The first was that you could send off for mail order catalogues from shops like Bluebird Records, who would post you photocopied update lists on a monthly basis (remember this is all pre-internet) which you would send back with your choices marked and a cheque. And considering when you ticked the box you wanted that record immediately, the wait, sometimes anything up to two weeks, was absolute agony. Every day after placing an order, an early morning ring on the doorbell would send me flying down the stairs, ever hopeful that it would be the postie clutching a brown card 12” sized package with my name on it. I even used to come home from school at lunchtime to see if it had come in the second post.

Buying music this way also came with risks. Often the choices you were making weren’t considered choices, based on the fact that you had heard the track and knew it was a blinder. There wasn’t even a decent magazine for reference around at the time – Hip Hop Connection didn’t start until 1989, though Blues and Soul did cover the genre. DJ-wise, you were reliant on the mighty John Peel* who was always guaranteed to play at least two or three songs on a good night. I can remember trying to pick up pirate radio stations, and hearing all the talk of booster aerials and Robbie Vincent on LBC. Dave Pearce and Westwood (of course) were also representing, but living where I lived, it wasn’t possible to pick up their shows. Most of the time you were guessing and relying on your instincts to pick a good ‘un, as there were always new artists coming onto the scene, and part of the game was trying to get hold of something that none of your mates had ever heard before. There was great kudos to be had from discovering something brand new, but you always faced the possibility that you'd purchased a dud. After the agonising wait, came the crushing disappointment when the needle dropped and you heard a wack beat or some lame scratches and weak rhymes, or even worse – you’d been mailed a Fat Boys record by mistake.

One way to avoid this disappointment was to head to the capital and get into the record shops where you could sample the wares before you parted with your cash. I was lucky as my Dad often attended the British Film Institute offices in Soho, not far from Greek Street, in which was located the mighty Groove Records (RIP), a church of sorts for people like me. I was often the only teenage white kid in the whole shop (unless accompanied by a friend), and would have found the whole experience hugely intimidating if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was on a mission and solely concerned with accessing the music. I’d head straight for the ‘Just In’ section or whatever it was called, where all the freshest slabs of vinyl were racked. Rows of records in (mostly) plain white card sleeves, so all the information was on the labels and you’d end up studying them for ages looking for clues. A cool label logo (I still get a rush when I see the purple spray paint label logo of Pop Art), a known producer or writing credit, the immortal words ‘Cuts by…’, guaranteeing there would be scratching, and all the exotic label locations mentioning places you’d never been but wished you had – Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia… Once the guys behind the counter realised you weren’t after “that one by Whistle with the Inspector Gadget tune in it”, they were pretty helpful and would often give you inside tips on the hottest tracks in that week, and let you listen to stuff if they weren’t too busy. I’ll never forget the buzz of being in that shop, hearing the tunes blasting out of the massive speakers, knowing I would be heading home with some fresh new vinyl in a bag and feeling that little bit closer to the music that I loved.

Kid Frost - Terminator (Vocal Mix)

If you read all of that, here is your reward in the form of a few of my Groove Records highlights, kicking off with Kid Frost’s ‘Terminator’. In this instance, I had already heard it, as the track featured on ‘Electro 9’, released in 1985. It was an immediate favourite for me, and getting hold of the original 12” on a rare trip to London represented a massive triumph. I can remember checking out the label before I purchased it and seeing that it was produced by Dave Storrs, who had produced early Ice-T tracks and ‘Itchiban Scratch’ by Ice’s DJ Chris ‘The Glove’ Taylor, a track I had loved since hearing it on ‘Electro 7’. The version of ‘Terminator’ on ‘Electro 9’ was abbreviated, and here I was about to purchase the full 6-minute version, freshly sealed in shrink wrap, and with the tiny green import sticker on the back that was the record’s badge of authenticity. It’s a killer track, with Kid Frost’s menacing delivery, vocodered in parts, and an atmospheric backdrop, which sounds a bit like a John Carpenter horror soundtrack, with storm effects, rolling drums and a measured bassline.

Z-3 MC's - Triple Threat (Radio Mix)

I didn’t buy this one, my mate Lee did, but I was there with him at the time, which would have been late 1985, or possibly early ‘86. I can remember him picking it out purely because of the cover. For once, the record didn’t have a plain white sleeve, it had a black and white picture sleeve featuring pictures of the Z-3 MC’s, three skinny black kids from Baltimore, crouching by a giant ghetto blaster and just generally hanging out. It also had the immortal word ‘Beat Box Convention’ which hinted that the record might well feature human beat box, something that me and all my mates were totally obsessed with. Purchased for the cover alone the record could still have been a let down, but on getting back to Lee’s house and playing it for the first time, we weren’t disappointed. Heavy, heavy beats, urgent rapping, razor sharp cuts from DJ Cheese, a King Tut keyboard riff and some awesome beat box combined to make this a sensational purchase. I can remember he let me tape it on the spot, which was rare as normally everything had to be traded for something, a track for a track or whatever, often on the understanding that you couldn’t then let someone else tape it off you. It wasn’t unusual for fights to break out when somebody found out their record had been dealt without their consent.

Public Enemy - Public Enemy # 1

It was at Groove Records in 1987 that I managed to pick up a promo of Public Enemy’s debut 12” ‘Public Enemy # 1’ (the 12” label had the gun target logo printed onto it), which was so hot off the press I don’t even think the UK radio DJ’s had been able to get their hands on it. I just happened to be in the shop when they received a shipment, the box was opened, and the record was immediately whacked on the turntable. It opened with Terminator X’s distinctive scratch on the crazy moog riff from Fred Wesley and the JB's 'Blow Your Head', then Flavor Flav whined his intro, the tuffest of beats dropped and I heard Chuck D deliver a rhyme for the first time. Everyone who was in the shop went straight to the counter, clamouring to get their hands on a copy. I was among them, but was sure I would be passed over and I didn't want to end up crying in public, especially not in Groove Records. Luckily there was one for me too – I like to think it was because they recognised me, but it’s more likely that my £7 was as good as anyone else’s. I can’t find any mention of this white label release anywhere, but I know it existed as I used to have it.

Search ebay for old school hip hop/electro vinyl
Lots of links to great old school hip hop websites here
Full listing for all Streetsounds Hip Hop/Electro albums at Vinyl Vulture
Hip Hop timeline at b-boys.com
Public Enemy official website
Kid Frost at Wikipedia

*As a footnote to this piece, I must make mention of the fact that yesterday marked two years since John Peel died. He was inspirational in my life on many levels, but particularly as the only Radio One DJ who played and enjoyed hip hop music during the formative years. I would smuggle my Mum and Dad’s radio/cassette player into my bedroom and sit up waiting for the two or three import hip hop tracks he would play every night. Often I would end up falling asleep and miss out on a track or two, and have to face the humiliation the following day at school when asked, “Did you get the tracks off Peely last night?”. I’ve still got a few of the old tapes, all painstakingly re-edited on a tape-to-tape to get rid of John’s chit chat – I can’t tell you how much I regret that now. I’d love to still have his random musings and sardonic quips, though I guess he’d be happier that I kept the music in preference to his ramblings. I still miss him, and even though I know there are plenty of great DJ’s on the radio playing brilliant music, for me, and most people who grew up listening to John, it will never be the same.

John Peel tribute site at Radio 1
Brilliant website with an archive of past Peel shows to download here


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

From This Machinery Hums Come

fIREHOSE - Another Theory Shot To Shit

After singer and guitarist d.Boon had broken his neck spilling out the back of a van in Tucson, Arizona, his best friend and bandmate in seminal eighties West Coast punk/funk group the Minutemen, Mike Watt, had pretty much given up on music - until twenty-two year old singer/guitarist Ed Crawford found his number in the phonebook and the band fIREHOSE was born. Watt chose the name after watching D.A. Pennebaker’s film for Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, “I thought that it was funny when he held up the card that said ‘firehose’”

Teaming up with Minutemen drummer George Hurley, fIREHOSE released their first album in the spring of 1986, the incredible ‘Ragin’ Full On’; a soup of sharp, funked up, punked out pop songs full of witty, intelligent lyrics. It’s a joyful sound, as if they were celebrating d.Boon’s life rather than wallowing in his tragic death. Watt’s bass farts and belches over Crawford’s spiky guitar and Hurley’s propellant drums drive the whole thing to near exhaustible energy levels. I wasn’t sure which track to choose; whether it should be the powerhouse pop of ‘Brave Captain or ‘Choose Any Memory’, the spastic jerk of ‘Under the Influence of the Meat Puppets’ or ‘Relatin’ Dudes to Jazz’ or the acoustic flamenco-flavoured ‘The Candle and the Flame’.

I went for this one because it paints so many pictures for me, reminds me of places I’ve never been and things I’ve never seen. I’ve been listening to this album for nearly twenty years and this song comes to me when I least expect it. Walking through a dappled park in Pennsylvania one autumn afternoon in the early nineties or laying on my bed at my parents’ house with a crippling hangover. You know that line from the Velvet Underground’s ‘Black Angel’s Death Song’- “The cosy brown snow of the East”? That always had a similar effect. It recalls images and dredges up memories of places and events that I experienced long before it was even written; the gentle harmonics that chime through the middle section take me back to my, now long dead, Grandmother’s house in Swinton, Manchester one snowy, seventies Christmas.

‘Another Theory Shot to Shit’ begins like an electromofied version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Talkin’ World War III Blues’ then drops down into a reflective guitar figure and “From the hand of the Government man, came these signs, came these good things” before taking off again. I think it’s concerned with subsidies, grants, factory/mill closures, things that, for someone of my generation, resonate with a depressing veracity. The lyrics read as poetry, simple, clean lines -

“from this machinery hums come
oiled and whirling
fast, strong
tightness, meshing
meshing forever
(pert near)
steel gear inside gear
and smoothness
engaging, releasing
lapping and plunging”

I always thought that it was “Meshing forever Birdmere”; I thought Birdmere was a place or a person, so evocative. Then all the machinery slows, the last workers trudge home clutching their last pay packets, heading towards a future as uncertain as it is inevitable, to do what? Vote? Here the narrator laughs with a pained sarcasm, "Vote", he sighs at the end. What good does it do? How does one re-engage after being jettisoned into an afterlife of silence and penury?

Vote? Thanks but no thanks.

Buy fIREHOSE albums from Amazon
Mike Watt's website
Full fIREHOSE discography
fIREHOSE at allmusic

Domino Jones.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

October Songs

Seasonal musings from yet another new scribbler here at The White Noise Revisited. And Lighthouse makes four, arriving on the scene from underneath the sofa, like the missing piece of a very hard jigsaw puzzle…

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What a banal topic for a post. Autumn is such an easy thing to write about. Why is this happening?” I know that’s what you’re thinking, but have you actually been outside recently? It’s amazing. Currently, there’s nothing but a thick and stubborn mist with thin brown things where trees used to be sticking out of it. Meanwhile, all the animals are getting ready to fake their own deaths. Also, for one month, you can play conkers, the only sport which really makes sense in the grand scheme of things. And in a couple of weeks, everyone is going to put a hat on, get together and hurl fireworks about and burn things and when the smoke clears, everything will be gone, and all that will be left is unremitting blackness of Winter.

So go outside now and get some nature. Here are some suitable songs to listen to, while you’re about it.

James - Seconds Away

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. It’s almost forgotten now that James once went into a studio with Brian Eno and forged a brave and unusual album called ‘Wah-Wah’, which is brilliant. This isn’t on it, but it came from the same sessions, and turned up as a b side. There’s very little to it, aside from the trademark bass undertow, some clattering percussion and distant bellowing. I think it’s probably about getting lost in a field because it’s a bit foggy, even though you’ve walked through it hundreds of times.

Mogwai - Tracy

I went to university in a field. You could hear the motorway but not actually see it and if you got up early enough, there were deer. It was about a mile outside Watford. If you wanted to buy music you had to get the bus to Virgin Megastore, which wasn’t so bad, in the Harlequin shopping centre, which was. On a Monday in October I went there and bought Mogwai ‘Young Team’. By the time I returned to my small room, the daylight was ending, and I played the record. By the time ‘Tracy’ emerged out of the fog of noise with muffled voices and liquid bass, the sun was setting in a particularly stunning fashion. Those glockenspiels are the sound of hearts breaking in small rooms in fields.

R.E.M. - Perfect Circle

I know what you’re thinking, and you’ll probably be right to think it. But let’s not dwell on that – ‘Murmur’ is the Autumn, and 'Perfect Circle' is a song so autumnal, it’s wearing a coat. It’s all here in the serene surreal spaces it creates, the impenetrable muttering and the unidentifiable whooshing, sometimes miles away, sometimes right in your ear. I’ve never been able to make out a single word of this song, and I don’t think I ever want to.

Low - Over The Ocean

A friend of mine once copied ‘The Curtain Hits The Cast’ for me, an act of kindness which could so easily have been pernicious cruelty. It was alright for him – he lived in Manchester. I lived in the East Midlands. An encroaching winter in Lincolnshire will test the mettle of the bravest young men. The vast grey skies will tip you over agricultural based whimsy into black hearted despair at the drop of your hat. Great featureless plains stretch out far enough into the future, which contains more of the same – soil and cold and a hangover. My advice would be, should you find yourself there, is not to listen to this song anywhere in the vicinity of Swineshead Bridge. But don’t let that but you off – it’s a beautiful song.

Search ebay for 'Wah Wah' by James
Buy 'Mogwai Young Team' by Mogwai from Amazon
Buy 'Murmur'by R.E.M. from Amazon
Buy 'Curtain Hits The Cast' by Low from Amazon


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Close Friends Call Me Terry

When I was searching the internet for some additional information to accompany this piece on 1980s Bronx rapper T La Rock, I was shocked to learn that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury back in 1994. Nobody knows exactly what happened to him, but he was found by his brother Special K (from rap pioneers Treacherous Three), incoherent and slurring his words. At first K thought he was drunk, but then he saw the blood. T very nearly died. Doctors had to pump the blood away from his brain to stop the swelling. He lost all motor skills and was given a 20-30% chance of survival. His family believe he was struck with a blunt object while trying to break up a fight. “Knowing him, he would keep someone from getting hurt,” his mother said. “That’s him. All my boys are like that.” Luckily T survived, and after a bit more searching, it seems he’s doing OK. The last recording he made that I can make out was a rap for the edit king Omar Santana’s project Wizard of Oh, which featured on a 1998 compilation. I’d love to know what he’s doing now, but the trail appears to have gone dead.

T La Rock & Jazzy Jay - It's Yours (Radio Mix)

Clarence ‘Terry’ Keaton aka T La Rock recorded his first rhymes in 1984 on the track ‘It’s Yours’, which was eventually accepted as one of the first examples of the ‘bass’ music which would go on to take over the East Coast through Luke Skyywalker and acts like 2 Live Crew. ‘It’s Yours’ was co-written with his brother and produced by Rick Rubin. It was a joint release between Partytime Records and Def Jam. In reality, Def Jam was just the name for Rubin and Russell Simmonds’ production company and didn’t actually exist as a label, but ‘It's Yours’ was the first 12” to have the Def Jam logo on its sleeve. ‘It’s Yours’, (credited as being by T La Rock & Jazzy Jay, though T claims his DJ/producer Louie Lou did the cuts and Rubin takes credit for the beats) is a prime example of the sparse hip hop of the time, where a thumping 808 drum track and harsh cuts provide the only accompaniment for T’s awesome rhymes. As Simmonds said, “T started the trend and a new direction in hip-hop. He used 40-letter words. He created a special poetry.” T had a vast vocabulary and would freestyle all the time, meaning even his recorded raps have an almost live feel to them.

T La Rock - Breaking Bells (Club)

Fast-forward a couple of years to 1986 and you will find T La Rock droppin’ science on one of the stand out tracks from the most fertile period in hip hop’s history. ‘Breaking Bells’ was released as a double A-side single on Fresh Records, with ‘Bass Machine’ on the flip. It may only have been two years since ‘It’s Yours’, but it feels like 20 when you check the sound created by the insane production of Kurtis Mantronik. Mantronik’s skills were so far ahead of the rest, I still don’t think we’ve caught up today. ‘Breaking Bells’ contains a sample of Roy Ayers’s ‘Brother Green’, at a time when sampling was rare on a hip hop record. If you factor in the mad glitchy edits of Omar Santana, then you have a blueprint for much of the groundbreaking electronic music that exists today. T’s raps are incredible as always and the track blew my impressionable teenage mind wide open when I first heard it in ’86.

Buy T La Rock’s classic album ‘Lyrical King (From the Boogie Down Bronx)’ from Boomkat here, where you can also pick up a 12" copy of the repress of 'It's Yours' here
T La Rock discography
Search ebay for T La Rock
Great interview with T La Rock in which he discusses his early career and crate digging for exclusive breaks here
Article from the New York Times regarding T’s brain injury and subsequent rehabilitation here
Jonathan Ross (yes, that one!) interviews T La Rock here


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The First TWNR Competition

Milieu - Tiffany Lane

I’m a big fan of records in interesting packaging that are released in ridiculously limited quantities. The mere thought that I could be one of only a handful of people in the universe to own a certain object appeals on many different levels. On one hand, it satisfies the collector in me, but on a baser level, they are just nice things to have and to hold. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way.

The insanely prolific Brian Grainger (he makes Wisp look like a proper slacker), recording under the Milieu alias he has adopted for the past couple of years, has released a wonderful album on the Expanding Electronic Diversity label. ‘Our Blue Rainbow’ is a CDR release, limited to 200 hand-assembled copies only, packaged by David Tagg. It’s hard to explain what it looks like, but follow the link here and all will be revealed. So, yes, the packaging is lovely, but it’s also important that the music be worthy of such an exquisite outer shell, and I’m happy to report that it definitely is. 10 tracks (12 if you count those hidden) of lush, warm, analogue electronica, not a million miles away from Casino vs Japan at his emotive best, or Boards of Canada before they picked up the guitars and lit the campfire. Milieu produces sweet melodies at the same rate the rest of us pass wind and ‘Our Blue Rainbow’ is a rare foray into beat territory, as the majority of his previous output has been ambient. I’ve posted ‘Tiffany Lane’, with its delicate, overlapping melodies and uptempo drum track.

So, seeing as it’s ridiculously limited and by the time this piece goes up there probably won’t be any available in the whole wide world, how do you fancy winning yourself a copy? All you have to do is your answer the question below and I’ll randomly select the winner. The question is:

Can you name two more of Brian Grainger’s solo recording aliases?*

Remember to include your name and full postal address with your entry when you e-mail it to: joe@thewhitenoiserevisited.co.uk. I’ll post the name of the winner on Friday, so please get your answers in before then – good luck!

*(excluding Milieu and his own name of course)

I got my copy from Norman Records. If you don’t fancy your chances of winning the competition and want to get a copy, there’s a slim chance they might still have some left. Follow the link here and keep your fingers crossed. Alternatively, you can always try ordering it from Expanding Electronic Diversity.

Milieu website featuring a full discography and tons of links to download music
Milieu at My Space
Milieu also released an 80-minute self-titled ambient album on Friday 13th October, which is as he puts it, "the truest embodiment of who I am as a musician" - you can download it for free from Experimedia


We have a winner! Thanks to all of you who entered. The person randomly selected to receive a copy of the album was Jon Mooneyham from Oakland, USA. This lovely item will be winging its way to you over the weekend. I'll probably do another competition soon when I can think of something nice to give away.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

As The Storm Builds

Laura Groves - Coast

This is a bit special. I’d dearly love to be able to leave it at that. The same friend who introduced me to the music of Laura Groves attempted to write something about her before and tied himself in knots about the whole process of trying to convey genuine enthusiasm without resorting to bad clichés and tired metaphors. Now I find myself about to undertake the same task, and I can feel the exact same thing is happening to me. What is it about this 18-year-old from Shipley in West Yorkshire that has the power to render coherent men, who can usually only be silenced by forcible means, dithering wordless freaks? Of course, I’ve just used a whole load of words to demonstrate the fact that I don’t know what to say. Ain’t life grand? Anyway, Laura Groves has an astounding voice. It’ll scarper off down the road with your breath before you know what’s happening. She has caused me to shed a tear on a couple of occasions and I’ve never met her before. ‘Coast’ is a tale of yearning to head to the English seaside to avoid troubles at home. So far, so heard it all before. But Laura’s purpose on arrival is not to sit on a deckchair with an ice cream, ride a donkey or pump fruit machines full of sterling. Nope - she wants to watch lightning strike the masts of boats during a storm. I love that. Hers is a singular talent – a unique vision and voice, which should serve her well when she gets the exposure she so richly deserves. Despite all the inevitable lazy comparisons that will be flung her way, and the probability of her being lumped into this new wave of British folk movement that is the current vogue, I sincerely hope that she manages to stay true to the path she is embarking on now. If I am to play along with regional stereotypes, I’m sure she doesn’t suffer fools, so idiotic A&R men thinking she’s the new Sandi Thom or whatnot – back off, she ain’t. She’s Laura Groves and we want her to stay that way.

Laura Groves at My Space
Video of a live performance and further info on Laura at Cross the Pond


Friday, October 13, 2006

Hellfire Sermons

And then there were three. The White Noise Revisited family grows bigger and stronger with another addition to the scribbling team. After undergoing a rigorous and often humiliating selection procedure which culminated in a knife fight with monkeys in a Chinese laundry, Domino Jones emerged bloodied and victorious. So here he is, armed with a water pistol full of word juice and a vast brain made of pure music. Read on and weep…

Hellfire Sermons - H.O.N.E.Y.M.O.O.N.

“Saw her face in the window, it looks quite strange”

So begins ‘H.O.N.E.Y.M.O.O.N’ by The Hellfire Sermons and it’s one of the best first lines mother pop ever hurled my way. The way it’s sang as well; with the punctuation coming after ‘face’ giving it a double meaning “In the window it looks quite strange” as if it were the sand, calcium and sodium silicate of the glass that were twisting her features so. It reminds me of a Camus novel with their perpetual empty streets, where a face at a window is like a portent of unfolding destiny, something that is disquieting, disturbing even, like the incessant guitar line that tugs at your sleeve throughout the verse before skipping off into the chorus accentuating the 5/4 time signature, clattering across the cobbles like a fucked wheelbarrow as the harmonies rise to meet it.

A different take on Rodgers and Hart’s ‘My Funny Valentine’ and the ‘beauty/eye/beholder’ chestnut, ‘H.O.N.E.Y.M.O.O.N’ is about falling for a girl who for once, doesn’t look like she’s slipped through the staples of a fashion magazine.

“She’s handsome, handsome to me,
With her cauliflower ears
And her physical fears”

Physical fears? Is that a fear of the physical or a physically manifested fear? There are so many pictures in this song, I do tend to think visually anyway but this takes me somewhere every time and it’s so immutably Liverpool. It’s almost a blueprint for The Coral, released as it was back in 1989. I first heard it on John Peel’s show and immediately walked down to Probe Records to buy a copy. Whenever I’ve done anything on the radio, be it the old Xfm or The Evening Session I always played it, or talked about it or both.

Whenever I put it on somebody always says, right on the first chorus “What’s this?” Moreover, they don’t always understand when I tell them how much I love it. Where are the explosions? The soaring strings? The dizzying electronica or mind blowing production? Well, who needs that when you can have this? All I’ve ever wanted from pop music is here, swirling around at two minute and seventeen seconds inside a shimmering box of fractured urchin imagery.

Hellfire Sermons website
Buy Hellfire Sermons at the Bus Stop label shop
Hellfire Sermons My Space
Hellfire Sermons at download.com

Domino Jones.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Save The Last Dance For Me

Dean Parrish - I'm On My Way
Freelance Hellraiser - Grange Hill Grammar

The last song at the school disco was always a slow dancer. I had my first ever “proper” kiss during a slow one though, so it clearly has its merits. However, on the occasions I found myself between girlfriends, I hated the final turgid number. What a come down after a night of hedonistic dancing around with your mates after drinking too many fizzy drinks. It was a similar story years later at the Student Union, where the pop was replaced by something more potent, but Robbie Williams’s ‘Angels’ was always the last thing I heard at 2am on a Saturday night.

The Wigan Casino had a tradition of always playing the same three songs at the end of each all-nighter. The legendary “3 at 5” were ‘Long After Tonight Is Over’ by Jimmy Radcliffe, ‘Time Will Pass You By’ by Tobi Legend, and ‘I'm On My Way’ by Dean Parrish - a vast improvement on ‘Angels’ it has to be said. I never went to the Wigan Casino, but some years later, my own fortnightly indie club of choice always finished with ‘I Am The Resurrection’ by The Stone Roses – still a popular choice for many today, so much so it could be considered a cliché.

At club nights that I have been involved with, we have collectively failed to agree on a definitive final song. Many attempts to incorporate one have come and gone over the years. Songs that lasted more than one night have included The Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’, and what was my favourite for a while, ‘Helter Skelter’ by The Beatles. We’ve also used Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’ a few times - nothing pisses off a bouncer waiting to clear a place and go home like an 11-minute guitar solo…

I remember reading once, that local authorities in some smaller UK towns and cities insisted clubs should play old children’s TV theme tunes at the end of the night. Apparently, this would help to stem some of the post-club violence that is a feature of going out in these places. Personally I’d want a better soundtrack to my kicking than the Grange Hill theme tune – unless the Freelance Hellraiser had gotten a hold of it, maybe then I could manage a smile as the blows rained down.

As the clock ticks down you can choose to either go out with a bang with one last dance floor filler, or take the softer approach and offer a more sentimental push towards the taxi rank. The last song isn’t always the first memory to accompany the hangover the next morning anyway. My idea is not to look at my watch and to keep playing as though the night will never end, so whenever the plug is pulled, there’s always a killer tune on the go.

Dean Parrish website
Search ebay for Dean Parrish
Freelance Hellraiser website
Buy the Freelance Hellraiser's excellent new non-mash-up album here


Underworld - Rez

I've been waiting for a good excuse to post this for ages, and Dave's piece above has given me it. 'Rez' by Underworld is one of the greatest 'end of the night' tunes there is going. I've been to raves and club nights where I've danced so hard my legs felt like they were about to fall off, but then the DJ's dropped this and the whole place has gone completely crazy and I've found new reserves of energy to give it some more. The amazing thing about 'Rez' is the way it builds to a series of crescendos, riding the crest of those thundering tribal drums and evocative melodic bleeps. The first time I heard it I thought it was music used to communicate with aliens, it sounded like it came from another world. It's such an uplifting track and one of those that just as you think it can't possibly do anything else, it comes back and delivers once again. The only problem with playing this as the last track is that anyone left on the dance floor will be whipped up into such a state of frenzy that they'll never want to go home ever again. God bless 'Rez' and all those who've raved with her.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Joey Loves Mental Acid

Squarepusher - The Modern Bass Guitar

With a cover that resembles a still from a brochure showing off the equipment found in the music room of a posh school, a thoroughly welcoming handshake of a title (‘Hello Everything’) and an opening track that is as adorable as a lost Japanese tourist carrying a Hello Kitty rucksack, the latest Squarepusher album is full of surprises.

I often find I have to perspire to really like Tom Jenkinson’s albums, ever since ‘Feed Me Weird Things’ became jammed in my CD player over a decade ago. You see, despite having a beard, fingers capable of stroking my furry chin, and looking to all intents and purposes like someone who really digs jazz, I don’t. Joey Hates Jazz in fact. Joey does, however, love mental acid and jump-up jungle, so 7/10ths of the shit Squarepusher bangs out is right up my street. It’s just the other fraction I have always struggled to genuinely enjoy.

However, there’s something about ‘Hello Everything’ that makes me want to cast all my preconceptions to one side and love one of his albums from start to finish for what it is, rather than what I want it to be. Even when the computer-game kitsch of joyous opener ‘Hello Meow’, is suddenly interrupted by one of Tom’s trademark Seinfeld fretless bass jams, I find myself shrugging and smiling and actually enjoying it. ‘Theme from Sprite’ has a live jazz feel and here I am firing up the pipe, donning a roll-neck and tapping my toe, rather than gritting my teeth and hurling the album into oblivion.

We’re already over a sixth of the way through the album and Tom has yet to show his teeth. That comes soon enough with the mighty ‘Planetarium’, as proper old school junglist riddims and a gloriously menacing bass rumble work with strangely familiar melodies, which resonate like Boards of Canada at their whimsically nostalgic best. I think it could be this new found love of proper old-fashioned melodies and the crafting of more focused ‘songs’ which makes ‘Hello Everything’ such an enjoyably cohesive body of work. There’s none of the wilful experimentation which can often be alienating. You can even tolerate the hollow and meandering ambience of ‘Vacuum Garden’ when you know there’s tracks like ‘Welcome To Europe’ to enjoy, with a gloriously uplifting tune right at its heart, yet still the toughened beats and dirty bassline that show he hasn’t lost the edge.

The highlight for me is ‘The Modern Bass Guitar’, which rather than being the indulgent five plus minutes of inane bass slapping threatened by the title, is in fact a showcase for the wonders of the TB-303, which was originally marketed to guitarists for bass accompaniment while practicing alone. Letting loose a loopy drum track, Tom proceeds to violently tweak every possible squeak, squelch, bleep and blech imaginable from the versatile box of tricks. I can imagine his 303 exploding when the track’s done, which wouldn’t really matter as I can’t imagine Tom ever needing to use it again after this tour de force.

‘Hello Everything’, Squarepusher’s seventh studio album, is released by Warp Records on Monday 16th October. If you pre-order either the CD or the vinyl from Warpmart now, you also get a free 3” CD entitled ‘Vacuum Tracks’ absolutely free. For slightly more dosh, you can order an exclusive 12” as part of the package, featuring the three tracks which were sold as downloads prior to the album release. These tracks are still available to buy as downloads at bleep.com.

Squarepusher at Warp Records
Buy Squarepusher back catalogue at Warpmart
Squarepusher at Wikipedia
Squarepusher discography
Squarepusher My Space


Monday, October 09, 2006

Some Kind Of Wonderful

Soul Brothers Six - Some Kind Of Wonderful

“I was dating this girl… and I said ‘You know? You’re some kind of wonderful’… That’s how it came about.”

Smooth chat up lines usually make for lame songs. However, the Soul Brothers Six’s ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ is exactly what it says on the label. This is the record that can claim to have sucked me into the deep and expensive world of Northern Soul music - a 7-inch record that captured my imagination, my heart, and my wallet. My U.S. original is now one of my most cherished possessions, and it has nothing to do with how much I paid for it. You can pick up re-issues of this track for a fiver, and I strongly recommend that you do if you get the chance. A classic piece of 1960s Atlantic soul, ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ never really made the big time for the Soul Brothers Six, peaking as it did at number 91 in the Billboard chart in 1967. However, a true sign of a classic if ever there was one, the track has been covered many, many times over. Huey Lewis & The News, Steve Marriott and Grand Funk Railroad are some of the more notable artists to have covered it, as well as more recently, Joss Stone, and most despicably, Toploader.

The Soul Brothers Six were a six-piece for a while, although they started with seven, and they were sadly not all brothers. The main man in the band was the lead singer, guitarist, composer and arranger, John Ellison. He is responsible for this song, which is not only a personal favourite of mine, but is still a guaranteed Northern Soul classic on the dance floors up and down the country. The opening bars set the rhythm and a lovely guitar caresses the vinyl before Ellison’s vocals come crashing over the top. I’d love a voice like that, but fear I would need to smoke two packs a day to get anywhere near that kind of contained roughness. The flip side of ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ is another Ellison tune, ‘I’ll Be Loving You’ and is in many people’s opinion, a better pick than the A-side. As with all great Northern Soul records, there are probably a hundred more facts and debates to be had, but sometimes it’s good to remember that these songs are just meant to be listened to and enjoyed.

Soul Brothers Six biography at All Music
Search ebay for Soul Brothers Six


Saturday, October 07, 2006

bravecaptain IS DEAD

bravecaptain - I Don't Know Any Better
bravecaptain - Every Word You Sound

‘Bye ‘bye Cap’n! Goddamnit! More sad news for lovers of great music as Martin Carr reveals he has decided to bring his wonderful bravecaptain project to an end - for the time being at least. Martin’s been recording under this moniker since the disbandment of the Boo Radley’s back in 1999. The decision is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but the website carries the following words –

“Whilst Martin hasn't ruled out recording as bravecaptain again in the future it's clear that there won't be any new solo material in the foreseeable future as Martin frees up time to work on other projects.”

So, it may only be a brief hiatus, or it could be that the fantastic ‘Distractions’ album, which he gave away as a free download from his website earlier on this year, will represent his final recordings as bc. If that is the case, then what a way to go! It’s still available from the bravecaptain website here, so if you haven’t already grabbed it, then do so pronto.

It’s impossible to sum up bravecaptain in mere words or via a couple of tracks, such was the breadth of musical styles he covered during the 6 or so years he was recording. At the heart of it all was the man’s rare ability to craft wonderful, heart-soaring pop songs, but if you add in his love of hip hop, an unmistakeable electronic influence and lots and lots of reckless experimentation, you’ll have some idea of what he was trying to achieve. It wasn’t the Boo Radleys v.2, it was unique, and he never played it safe when he could go out on a limb and try something new. That’s why he’ll be sorely missed, but is also why this writer has a sneaky feeling we haven’t seen the last of Martin Carr. With a talent like his, it’s impossible to stop the songs from flowing. He’ll be back, somewhere, somehow, and we should be ready to welcome him with open arms.

For now, take ‘I Don’t Know Any Better’ from ‘Distractions’ and remember how he created these effortlessly bittersweet love songs that you thought were written just for you. Then listen to 2004’s ‘Every Word You Sound’, and marvel at the ingenuity, from the opening mix of electronics and plucked folk guitars, to the plaintive vocals and then the final section of chiming pianos and the funny, almost medieval clarinet melody - barmy and thrilling.

Tomorrow night (Sunday 8th October) sees bravecaptain playing a farewell gig at the Luminaire in Kilburn - details here. There is a film being made of the gig, which will be released as a DVD in December. The makers of the film have asked anyone attending who fancies saying a few words about bravecaptain, to go to the Black Lion Guest House from about 6pm onwards, where you will be able to have your say! The first band is on at about 7.30pm – there’s four other bands playing short sets, before bravecaptain takes to the stage, with a tear in his eye I shouldn't wonder.

bravecaptain website
Buy bravecaptain from Norman Records
Say ta ta for now - bravecaptain IS DEAD at My Space
Great bravecaptain page at BBC Wales Music


Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Order vs Miami Vice

New Order - Confusion

It’s hard to reminisce about the 1980s without sounding like some tool from a Channel 4 list show, but I’ll make an exception for this. Miami Vice. Just hearing the theme tune causes an adrenalin rush and a thrilling shiver to dart up my spine. I loved that programme. Sonny Crockett was my hero, living on a boat with his rolled-up suit sleeves, white Testarossa, espadrilles, pet crocodile and filterless ciggies. When I first started experimenting with smoking, I used to puff Woodbines, which despite being an old man’s fag, enabled me to lick around the tip as Sonny did, before tapping it on the pack and lighting up. Sonny also taught me that it was essential to have some dark trauma in your past (his two tours during the Vietnam War) that made it impossible for you to form proper relationships with women but ensured that they’d always want you to. ‘Miami Vice’ was broadcast on a school night (why do schedulers get it so WRONG?) so we used to video it and me and my bro would end up watching it at weird times like first thing on a Sunday morning or when we just got back from school. Anyway, the bit I liked best about the theme music was when those tom-tom drums kicked in, before the synth and geeetar riffs really got going. It was lucky the programme was so damn good, as it’s peerless title sequence left it with a lot to live up to.

Anyway, I should be posting Jan Hammer’s theme tune to ‘Miami Vice’ but that would be way too obvious. So instead, you get the 7-minute instrumental mix of New Order’s ‘Confusion’. Why? Well, check the toms. Jan Hammer obviously used the exact same pre-programmed drum sound that was used on ‘Confusion’. ‘Confusion’ was first released in 1983, ‘Miami Vice Theme’ followed in 1985. ‘Confusion’ isn’t really seen as being a New Order song, it’s a product of it’s producer, Arthur Baker. I wasn’t at all interested in New Order or Joy Division at this time (that came later) as I was a huge electro head, but the fact that Arthur Baker was all over this made it a vital track as he was the Don. When Baker first played it at the Funhouse Club, all the breakers thought it was by an electro group. I first heard it on a compilation tape put together by one of my best mate’s older brothers. I taped it, and then made another tape where I sat it next to the ‘Miami Vice Theme’. I think I even tried to splice the two tracks together, making the edits exactly where the duplicate drum sounds existed. I used to do this sort of thing a lot and it always sounded rubbish. ‘Confusion’ is still a classic, I love the bit towards the end when there’s a sudden rumble of Hooky’s bass, and you remember it’s New Order. ‘Miami Vice’, which is being repeated on ITV4 in the UK at the moment, has dated but still rocks my world.


Buy New Order from Amazon
New Order website
Miami Vice at Wikipedia
Miami Vice discussion forum
Sonny Crockett My Space


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Protest And Survive

The Black Angels - Black Grease

Much as you can admire the work of the likes of Michael Stipe, Thom Yorke and Chris Martin in raising awareness of key global issues like Fair Trade, I’m often left with the feeling that they’ve made it the preserve of the middle-class. The worthy do-goodery of the modern rock star has turned protest and the concept of the protest song into something that has more than a whiff of the naff about it. Even the current crop of folk singers, one of the original formats for the protest song, would rather sing about fairies, yellow spiders and life in the forest than rail against war, poverty and globalisation. And let’s face it, it’s not like there isn’t plenty going on in the world today that you could find to rant about in a song.

What we want is some anger, some fury, some rage against the machine from new bands just breaking out, rather than those established and comfortably wealthy and therefore with very little to lose apart from time spent scrubbing slogans off their hands. Welcome then, the Black Angels, a six-piece outfit from Austin, Texas who are marching forward into battle for your souls. Taking their name from the Velvet Underground song ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’, their debut album, ‘Passover’, released in the US in April of this year, finally gets a UK release on the 9th October 2006 on Light In The Attic Records.

Speaking about the album, lead guitarist Christian Bland said: “The entire album parallels what's going on now with what happened in the 1960s. 'The First Vietnamese War' is about learning from our mistakes so that we don't ever fall into the trap of a Second Vietnamese War, which the current war in Iraq is panning out to be. There should never be a Second Vietnamese War. Our message is one of telling people to wipe the sleep out of their eyes, and to WAKE UP. Open up your mind and let everything come through,” he urges, quoting Rocky Erickson, “because closed minds lead to open caskets.”

Stephanie Bailey’s martial drumming and the drone of Jennifer Raines’ organ drive ‘Passover’, and the primitive recording techniques give it an authentic 1960s feel, much beloved of UK act Clinic (singer Alex Maas’s delivery is not unlike that of Clinic frontman Ade Blackburn). This is ten tracks of heavy psychedelic stoner rock, packed with confessional lyrics (“You gave a gift to me, in my young age, you sent me overseas, and put the fear in me” from ‘The First Vietnamese War’), images of self-destruction (the garage grunge of ‘Black Grease’) and even an anti-materialist protest song (sprawling album closer ‘Call To Arms’). Audible influences range from fellow drone rockers Spacemen 3 and the 13th Floor Elevators to Black Sabbath. ‘Passover’ is a powerful and bold statement of intent, and one that really resonates when played at speaker-quaking volume. The album artwork is also amazing, as raised winding lines of black and white spell their name and the album title.

Pre-order 'Passover' from Amazon
The Black Angels official website
The Black Angels at Light In The Attic Records, featuring a full mp3 download of 'The First Vietnamese War' and tour dates
The Black Angels at My Space
Check You Tube for Black Angels videos and live performances


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Firing Blanks

Revolver - Venice

A track today from another band that found themselves miscast as players in the shoegazing scene. Revolver were a Winchester three-piece based around the talents of singer-songwriter Mat Flint, who released their first EP on Hut Recordings in 1991, before eventually disbanding after one studio album two years later. The trio focused on crafting songs rather than ethereal soundscapes, concocting catchy indie pop, which reached a peak on the third single, ‘Venice’. The first two EP’s had been hindered by Flint’s weedy vocals, which failed to deliver on the promise of the music, his abject whine completely lacking conviction. ‘Venice’ was a giant step forward for Revolver, a full minute of guitar histrionics and pummelling drums and bass elapse before a confident sounding Flint finally raises his game with an impassioned lead vocal worthy of the majestic instrumental.

The debut album, ‘Cold Water Flat’ was released the following year and there was nothing on it to match the heights they hit with ‘Venice’. It is an ambitious record, packed with guest musicians adding flute, congas, horns, strings and even a didgeridoo! It has it’s moments, but on the whole was an overly elaborate mistake, lacking a coherent band sound and sense of direction. Matt Flint went on to play bass for Death in Vegas and the band never recorded together again.

Revolver discography
Info on Revolver Peel Session here
Search ebay for Revolver