Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peru - leaving the 'acre EP

Being a train spotter and being an indie anorak goes together like bacon and eggs (or a vegetarian alternative if you are so inclined), i used to be one of the former and am still one of the latter thus i can tell you that there is a class 47 on the cover of this EP by indie stalwarts Peru and that is just the start of the old skool thrills you will get with this record. Recorded a few years ago it seems the songs on here have a stylishly old fashioned indie feel. Straight forward guitar indie pop no weird cross-fertilisations.

Best song is "Needing, wanting, waiting" with its up-key chorus though also liked the ancient feel of "Kim's balloon" which feels so old skool it sits at the same desk as Plato. Terrific all the way, no Duff tracks whatsoever (diesel locomotive enthusiasts may get that joke).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Menswe@r - nuisance

Ah the "Swear" as the popular music press called them (presumably two syllables was too much for your average journo). This, their debut, called a bit of a media stir when it was released in 1995. Bold and brash indie rock by some good looking young lads, thus appealing to all sectors of the market. Sure win?

Coming at the start of the Brit Pop explosion the music is quite Mod-ish and late 60s, and to be honest is pretty good. Its maybe a bit generic and too similar to other bands of the same scene but songs like "I'll manage somehow" and "125 west 3rd street" have an appealing pop swagger. "Being brave" was their biggest hit and is a ballady song with added strings. Hold your lighter in the air and sway, and sing along to the "ba ba ba baaa"s.

Friday, August 26, 2011

TOTP (05/08/1976)

Jimmy Saville is our host and he is wearing a kilt! If you can get past that you can get past anything. Elton and Kiki are still at number one but will they be live in the studio?

Slik - the kid’s a punk

Slik start the show with their poseur retro rock. Its all quiffs, US college jackets and rock’n’roll riffs. Its not terrible but maybe not that good either.

David Dundas - jeans on

Ruby Flipper are here to perform with David Dundas, don’t forget he had Hot Gossip last time. Does he feel lonely on stage or something and thus feels the need to have fit young people gyrate their fit young bodies nearby? We understand David we really do.

Billy Jo Spears - what i’ve got in mind

Country music often broke into the British charts regularly even as late as the 1970s as may be forgotten nowadays. Billy Jo Spears is of course a legend though this isn’t her best song. A performance somewhere else, probably in Nashville.

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - here comes the Sun

In front of a castle Steve Harley and band perform this George Harrison cover, its been given a bit of a proto-punk feel along with bongos. Its all wonderfully weird.

Did Saville explain why he is in a kilt?

Ruby Flipper are working hard tonight, they are back to perform KC & the Sunshine Band’s “shake your booty”. Very disco in futuristic silvery outfits. Like if they had song & dance routines in Blakes 7.

Dorothy Moore - misty blue

A repeat of her performance in front of a giant dressing room mirror.

Billy Ocean - love on delivery

Its fine just a bit formulaic and forgettable. Seems we have a lot of songs on tonight which have been on before.

Twiggy - here i go again

Yes the model, years before the M&S adverts of course. Twiggy is best known as being a model for good reason, as her singing isn’t that good to be honest. Mind you if she was around now she would probably win the likes of X Factor easily.

Elton John & Kiki Dee - don’t go breaking my heart

No they didn’t make it to the Top Of The Pops studio, maybe next week eh?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Comics : Star Wars #54

Years ago (a lot of years ago) i used to get the Star Wars comic every week. We're talking back in the late 70s and early 80s here. Like much else from my childhood the comics have long gone as i didn't have the foresight to know that people would pay good money for such things on a global visual network yet to be created one day. However one comic did survive as it was left at my Grandmothers' house and years later i made sure i would keep this one...

Star Wars #54 then was released on Valentine's Day 1979 and includes a Star Wars comic strip and two other stories (The Micronauts and The Warlock which i wasn't that interested in back then and not so much now either). The Star Wars comic started off a weekly comic telling of the first Star Wars movie but once they blew up the Death Star and Darth Vader went spinning off into space they had to continue the comic with an early example of the Extended Universe at least until Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980.

The story here concerns Luke, Leia and Tagge who appears to be some kind of galactic mafia boss who hates Vader. Luke and Leia are trying to discover why and how Tagge can fly TIE fighters into the atmosphere of the gas giant Yavin while at the same time evading Tagge's TIE fighter patrols. Of course the story here was set between the two films and no one but George Lucas knew that Luke and Leia were siblings, so we get a little bit of mild incest.

The cliffhanger has their ship under attack by TIE fighters and the intriguing teaser that next week is called "R2 D2 Casualty Of War", as to what happened in Star Wars #55 i can't remember, but obviously R2 was fine as he made the next film OK. It would be great if these Marvel Star Wars stories were released in some kind of collected volume. I'm hoping someone will tell me they are...

MV : "Aerobicide" by Julie Ruin

Monday, August 22, 2011

TOTP (29/07/76)

David Hamilton is here to introduce the latest from the centre of the pop universe. Was the Olympics going on right then in 1976? It would explain his lame athletics jokes anyway.

Thin Lizzy - jailbreak

Thin Lizzy is back in town (see what i did there?) Hard rock is always the best way to start the show. Not that familiar with this one of their tunes, something about jailbreak in the town, the boys getting arrested last time obviously and now are out again. Lenient criminal justice system obviously.

Dr Hook - a little bit more

Dr Hook is after your body apparently. Is Dr Hook a medical doctor? I would want to see his medical certificates in any case before he laid a hand on me. A re-run of the mildly homoerotic video set in the forest. I must say i do love this tune. I prefer not to think of it being sung by a big man in a bigger beard in the forest though.

Chanter Sisters - side show

One of these girls has one of the most formidable perm i've ever seen. Song is a dreadful mess full of screeching by two women who appear drunk. I love it. As does David.

Ruby Flipper perform a funked up version of Beethoven, obviously in cabaret outfits dancing on chairs. Well of course. We get some SFX too, the producer is spoiling us.

Jimmy James & the Vagabonds - now is the time

Jimmy James returns with his dance floor filler. Its quite a good song though also rather mainstream, this could easily be the theme music of a 70s sitcom. Jimmy puts on a good show, less weird grinning than less time. More SFX as Jimmy's head appears superimposed on the background. The producer has a new box of tricks it seems.

Status Quo - mystery song

These chords seem familiar.

Liverpool Express - you are my life

At #11 in the chart, and David is right this is quite a lovely song thats if you love atmospheric soft rock. Hey why not, it is maybe a bit over blown with the effects and dramatics but its a good song, much better than some of the others we've had so far anyway.

Elton John & Kiki Dee - don't go breaking my heart

Second week at #1 but still no live performance, so lets see the MV recorded in a recording studio again where Elton kisses Kiki's dungarees.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lazy Lorelei / Onward Chariots

Dufflecoat Records deserve only our never ending praise for their split single series. In case you are not familiar with them 2 bands from different parts of the world are bought together for 2 songs each, this edition in the series brings together the Philippines' Lazy Lorelei and the US' Onward Chariots.

Lazy Lorelei are kind of laid-back and present somewhat wistful and twee guitar pop. "Pop song" is quite good though probably could do with a little more bite. The wonderfully titled "Y" is a slower more atmospheric song with some nice reverb effects and a bit of a bluesy feel.

Onward Chariots have a rather different sound (which is one reason these split singles work so well), they sound like they like The Smiths. "I found me" drives on with some nice jangly guitar and psychedelic keyboards. "Seven miles" is a sweet little pop song and maybe the best on this EP with its retro rock and roll guitar riffs. So there you go, another winning excursion into the globalised world of modern C86!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MV : "Journal of ardency" by Class Actress

Class Actress seems to think musical development peaked around 1982 and there is nothing wrong with that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Comics : The Empire Of A Thousand Planets

This is book 2 in the Valerian and Laureline series, they being a couple of chilled dudes from the future who work for the Spatio-Temporal Service of Earth. They travel through space and time having various adventures. I enjoyed the first book in the series and this one is pretty good too. Written in the early 1970s it has a kind of hippie sci-fi feel (think Dark Star) rather than the techno-fascist sci-fi horror that came later (think... well most other things).

Compared to the first book there is maybe a little less out-and-out adventure and action but a more involved storyline. The first book also took place on a ruined future (for us, past for them) Earth while this takes place in a remote corner of the galaxy. Its quite implausible, our heroes have amazing abilities and no doubt a lot of luck but also very enjoyable.

Great play is made by the publishers on the similarities between Valerian & Laureline and the later Star Wars epic of George Lucas. Did Lucas get some "inspiration" from this? Who knows it could all be a co-incidence but there do seem to be quite a lot of co-incidences...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Secret Shine - loveblind

On a record label with no shortage of amazing records this was one of Sarah Records' all-time best single releases, Secret Shine's amazing shoegazing single that accompanied the Temporal album. This single created quite a stir back in the day, i even heard it on Radio 1 on a show not featuring John Peel! Whew!

You can see why this grabbed the attention, "Loveblind" is a wonderful blissful feedback drenched pop song. Ethereal female harmonies, pounding beat, waves of pop feedback noise, its hard to think of a better example of classic shoegaze.

I've heard the flip-side "Way too high" splits opinion a bit, it is quite a different song though shares the feedback pop noise. Its even more trippy than Loveblind with its driving melody which rolls like a helter skelter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

April March - chrominance decoder

Francophone indie pop star April March presented this album back in 1999, a retro-futuristic lounge-pop collection of French pop songs with lush strings, 60s melodies and vocals and incredible pop moments created by Bertrand Burgalat who handled all the instruments.

Some of the songs also come with in English versions though sometimes it just all sounds better in French, it has a certain je ne sais quoi? Though as my French ability is limited to a grade D GCSE gained 23 years ago (when GCSEs meant something obviously) i don't really have much of a clue what she is singing about.

The English version of, say, "Mignonette" (the lovely "No parachute") i can understand obviously though the lyrics have been written to fit an existing tune so are a bit... odd. But it all doesn't matter and you know why? Because this is a soundtrack to an alternative future, where we drink space age cocktails sitting in oddly shaped chairs in an underground bar somewhere, on the Moon.

"Nothing new" makes a little more sense, a slow song with a slightly menacing synth and string led melody.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MV : "The body" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Antidote to riot and financial gloom.

Skittle Alley - on the flight of steps

If i was to sum up Skittle Alley in one phrase it would be modern day classic C86. Skittle Alley produce a joyous and sweet pop noise, catchy melodies and a laid back vocal that reminds me a bit of The Bats. The title track gets things off in style with a juicy fast melody.

Other tracks like "Just for you" bring classic Sarah bands like Gentle Despite and Another Sunny Day to mind with its heavy acoustic relaxing melody, though just as influences and similarities, Skittle Alley is not a pastiche but stands up on its own merits as a great producer of pop. One of the best EPs i've heard for a while, none of the 5 tracks are weak in any way whatsoever.

Friday, August 5, 2011

MV : "RedFox" by The Airfields

The Airfields are a great dream pop band from Canada, this is a track off their "laneways" EP which i got this week.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TOTP (22/07/1976)

DLT's face appears on his sunglasses as he introduces tonight's programme, just the start of what will be the most surreal 30 minutes of TV ever... or for some time anyway.

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - here comes the Sun
Heralded by some raindrop SFX here is a George Harrison cover by the art rockers, it starts off promising but then here come the bongos. Its just wrong OK?

David Dundas - jeans on
David is sat at his piano in front of what appears to be a wall of dog identity discs. Some girls in Hot Gossip t-shirts (thus can we assume the early Hot Gossip troupe in some kind of guerrilla dance attack on Ruby Flipper? Well i will.) dance in front of him until some audience members get pushed into the camera shot. As for the song its a typical piece of late 70s pop, passable if a bit bland.

Ruby Flipper have been tasked with interpreting the Isley Brothers' "harvest for the world" through the medium of dance. So obviously they dress in black & white jazz cabaret outfits. Still at least its not as jarring as when Harvester used the song for their TV adverts a few years ago.

Johnny Wakelin - in Zaire
If you ever wanted a performance that sums up the 70s then this would suffice. A percussion heavy, messy but not without merit song with a singer dressed like the Jack of Diamonds... who looks oddly like Sgt Slaughter... if the Sarge was dressed as a 70s pimp obviously.

5000 Volts - Dr Kiss Kiss
Another performance of the passable novelty song, at least they arn't hanging stethoscopes off their guitars this time but it still all has the air of a Norwegian Eurovision entry.

Johnny Cash - one piece at a time
Unfortunately Mr Cash isn't in the studio but he is on stage somewhere, the song is pretty awesome of course but i can't wait until Ruby Flipper do this.

1776 - oh Suzanna
They are apparently called 1776 but seem like the cast of a musical, and the song, which is sung by a man with the worst mustache ever, seems like a typical musical song i.e. a dirge.

Elton John & Kiki Dee - don't go breaking my heart
And time for our new number 1, apparently the first time Elton has been to #1 but its still not enough to bring him into the studio so we get the pop video instead. And that brings to an end the surreal world of Dave Lee Travis. TTFN!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fosca - on Earth to make the numbers up

Fosca were a synth-pop C86 band formed by Dickon Edwards ex of Orlando and the Sarah band Shelley. With that kind of heritage its no surprise Fosca produce luscious electronic indie pop with sharp and witty lyrics. This was their first album which was released on Shinkansen.

Great pop with perfect electro-pop melodies as clearly evident on a track like "Its all going to end in tears" though at times you feel they are trying to shoehorn every PSB/Erasure/electro pop hook possible into a 5 minute long song. Maybe the slower and more laid back and reflective "There is another country" works better? The album is a gorgeous piece of work in any case.

Monday, August 1, 2011

MV : "Put a little love in your heart" by Jackie De Shannon

Great 60s pop, Jackie De Shannon opened the door for a lot of female singer songwriters and also opened for the Beatles on their 1964 US tour.