Here’s a twee pop band I’d have liked to hear more from. I don’t know much about Tada Tátà except they’re from Sweden and I think they’re sisters. But I’m not even sure about that. Anyway, they released a self-titled EP and a single, “Susie”, in 2009-10 and then just stopped. This, however, is their original demo. A couple of rinkydink guitars, some glockenspiel (or now I think about it, maybe a child’s toy piano?) and the odd intrusion of a drum machine rhythm.
All these songs reappeared on the EP in new versions, though the version of “Sticky Dumb Gum” on the EP was very similar to the “cello version” here and may even be the same recording, just differently EQ’d.
Link: Tada Tátà – Demo (password: salad)
- Sticky Dumb Gum
- The Brigade
- Sticky Dumb Gum (cello version)
- Hit The Wall
Flowered Up were nearly killed by hype. Indeed, I’m not sure it was even “nearly”. They arrived in the midst of the baggy boom with a sound not entirely unlike Happy Mondays, and got on the covers of the music press before they even had a record out. To which the whole world responded, “you’ve got to be kidding”.
So maybe they were derivative, and maybe their annointing as the Next Big Thing was partly due to the fact that they were conveniently London-based rather than somewhere oop North. But they still made some great records: “Weekender” of course, but also a string of singles leading up to that classic, including this…
Link: Flowered Up – Phobia (password: salad)
- Phobia (Extended Play)
- Phobia (Paranoid Mix)
- Phobia (7″ mix)
Jez at A History of Dubious Taste maintains there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure, but here’s one to severely test that hypothesis.
After Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark splintered at the end of the 80s, Andy McCluskey kept the name and carried on with new collaborators. And for a while he did rather well, with 1990’s Sugar Tax selling squillions and yielding top ten hits in “Sailing On The Seven Seas” and “Pandora’s Box”. But diminishing returns led to him retiring the name after 1996’s guitar-led Universal, and seeking new ventures. Together with 90s OMD member Stuart Kershaw, he wrote a bunch of songs and assembled a girl group to be the vehicle for them. And thus Atomic Kitten was born.
I won’t make any claims for Atomic Kitten’s subsequent releases (later McCluskey/Kershaw songs proved disappointing, and I stopped paying attention altogether after they left the project) but the first single was a properly corking glam disco stomper. Honestly.
Link: Atomic Kitten – Right Now (password: salad)
1. Right Now
2. Something Spooky: Theme To BBC “Belfry Witches”
3. Right Now (demo)
According to Boston funk-metal outfit Extreme, there are III Sides To Every Story. But who cares what they think? However, it does give me an idea for another gimmick series: posting three songs on the same relatively specific subject. Today: Three songs about robberies gone wrong, though the last two words may be redundant since I can’t actually think of any songs about robberies that didn’t go wrong.
Actually, at one stage I was thinking of doing a series called “Criminal Records” about crime and criminals, but I figured it would have to just be about petty theft, otherwise I’d be having to write something lighthearted about murder and stuff, and that seemed a bit dodgy for some reason.
So here are three songs written from the point of view of robbers who’ve been nicked. First is Madness, still in their full-on nutty phase from 1981…
Then from 1982, one of the “lost” Kate Bush singles. It’s from The Dreaming, an album which baffled people at the time and seemed to signal the terminal decline of a promising career, though it’s since risen in stature to be generally viewed as one of her most creative and just plain best albums – right up there with Hounds Of Love. Some people dislike Kate’s accent on this one, though it’s nowhere near as jarring as the broad Australian accent she affects on the album’s title track:
And finally, the biggest commercial success for acclaimed dubmeisters Renegade Soundwave. Much like the Kate Bush song, this is rather an outlier in their catalogue, but a lot of fun…
Airhead consisted of Michael Wallis (songwriting, vocals, guitar), Steven Marshall (keyboards), Ben Kesteven (bass) and Sam Kesteven (drums). They launched onto the scene with a couple of baggy-influenced singles, “Congratulations” and “Scrap Happy” under the name Jefferson Airhead, but had to shorten the moniker after it prompted a stiffly worded letter from Jefferson Airplane‘s legal bods, complaining that the group were mocking their trademark (which in all fairness, they clearly were).
The album includes both those singles plus additional 45s “Funny How”, “Counting Sheep” and “Right Now”. This is actually the second issue of the album, which adds an extra song, “Easy”, and a second version of “Funny How”. In retrospect I’d say it hasn’t stood up that well, but it’s a nice time capsule from before this kind of indiepop came to feel a bit generic.
Link: Airhead – Boing! (password: salad)
- Scrap Happy
- I Might Fall
- Right Now
- Funny How (single version)
- Counting Sheep
- I Don’t Mind
- Wish You Were Here
- Isn’t It Rich
- Everybody Needs
- Funny How (original version)
…if Movember’s still going. Yeah, probably is. Anyway, for all those men, women and children growing moustaches to raise money for moustache awareness or whatever it is, here’s a song about moustaches. More specifically, about moustaches that look so silly, you can’t take the wearer seriously. That may not sound like an important issue to you, but let’s not forget that’s how Hitler got started. The band are a relatively short-lived Japanese group from the early 2000s, mixing up electronics with bossa nova, dub and just a lot of silliness… oh, and their name is pronounced “Kip Thorne” like the physicist.
Link: Qypthone – Mustache
Here’s a little something by Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe, alias Blancmange, and for once it’s not “Living On The Ceiling”, which is a good record but seriously overplayed. Instead, here’s the follow-up single “Waves”, a sort-of ballad which was fairly heavily reworked for the single release, with sometime Real Thing and Billy Ocean collaborator Lynton Naiff providing a lush string arrangement. Also here is the original stringless album version, and the B-side “Business Steps” which is a rather throwaway instrumental commisioned by a dance company.
And here’s a bonus track. This was the new song recorded for their 2012 “Very Best Of” collection. Not sure if they’re trying to be The Streets (it doesn’t work if they are), but it’s quite a fun song…
EDIT: A week after I posted this, DJ Paul T put up a high-quality rip of the “Waves” 12″ on his Burning The Ground blog. For the best version of these tracks (and a rare 12″ bonus track!), I recommend you visit that. And actually, just go visit that blog anyway, it’s ace.
It’s the usual thing, but this time with four in a row… from jangly 70s blues-pop to piano-led 70s blues-rock to 80s indie rock (with very dated Mel & Kim reference) to 2000s (but only just) gloomy indie rock.
One of the great British pop bands today… even their singles collection is titled Pop! and if anybody’s earned the right to use that as an album title, Erasure surely have. Strange to think that it took them a while to break through (their first album Wonderland selling miserably as critics labelled them a pale imitation of Vince Clarke’s previous duo Yazoo) but for a few years in the late 80s and early 90s they were one of the top chart acts in the land. It would be downright churlish not to enjoy the likes of “A Little Respect”, “Sometimes”, “Love To Hate You”, “Blue Savannah”, “Stop!”, “Chains Of Love” and their million or so other hits.
My favourite, though, is this one from the 1989 album Wild!. “Drama!” is dramatic indeed, starting quietly before launching into the chants of “guilty!” (augmented by Jim and William Reid, taking a short break from recording the third Jesus And Mary Chain album, Automatic, in the same building). Erasure were at the peak of their powers here, also offering one of Vince Clarke’s most likeable instrumentals (“Sweet, Sweet Baby”) and a better-than-throwaway B-side (“Paradise”).
Link: Erasure – Drama! (password: salad)
1. Drama! (7″)
2. Sweet, Sweet Baby (7″)
3. Drama! (Act 2)
4. Sweet, Sweet Baby (Moo-Moo Mix)
6. Drama! (Krucial Mix)
7. Sweet, Sweet Baby (The Medi Mix)
8. Paradise (Lost & Found Mix)
1&2 7″ single / 3-5 12″ single / 6-8 Remix 12″
A couple of years ago, Graham Fellows released an album called Jilted Jam which contains various archival recordings relating to his punk poet persona Jilted John – demos, live tracks, a couple of rejected songs, and various radio clips from 1978, from which it is apparent that when the eponymous “Jilted John” single came out, nobody was quite sure whether it was a wind-up or not. Maybe it really was a 16-year-old with minimal musical skills? Well, now we know the truth: like Fellows’ subsequent work as John Shuttleworth, Jilted John was the product of a skilled musician deliberately putting on the persona of an unskilled one for comic effect.
The ramshackle “Jilted John” single was followed by an album on which Fellows more fully showed off his talent: it didn’t exactly go all-out for technical excellence, but it was full of catchy songs, funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking. With a more-or-less straight-through storyline following John from childhood through adolescence to something like the brink of adulthood, it also deserves a place in any listing of the greatest ever concept albums. Yes, really. It’s ace.
The album hits a high spot early on with “I Know I’ll Never”, which feels like the prototype for Supergrass’ “Alright”, and may even beat it for evoking the sheer giddy joy of impetuous youth. We follow John as he hits puberty and on through his first tentative romances with Julie (“Jilted John”, here in a very different keyboard-led arrangement) and Sharon (“Going Steady” and “The Birthday Kiss”). “Going Steady”, the B-side of “Jilted John”, wasn’t originally on the album, but the CD reissue added it as the opening song. For this upload, I’ve moved it to its proper place in the storyline.
The six songs on side two essentially tell one story as John meets Karen, loses her, then goes to London to find her again. Will he find true love? Or will he be kidnapped and held as a sex slave by a mysterious woman from Newport Pagnell? Or both? Or neither? Listen to find out…
1. Baz’s Party
2. I Know I’ll Never
3. I Was A Pre-Pubescent
4. Fancy Mice
5. Jilted John
6. Going Steady
7. The Birthday Kiss
8. The Paperboy Song
9. True Love
10. In The Bus Shelter
11. Karen’s Letter
13. Goodbye, Karen