When I posted country-folky-bluesy-acousticy-person Idha‘s debut single a few days ago, I had a request in the comments from Mark (hi!) for her 1997 second album Troublemaker. So here it is.
There was a bit of a change in emphasis for this one, going “slick” rather than “homespun”. Where Melody Inn came across as a homage to California filtered through the perspective of a Swede living in the UK, Troublemaker drops the filter and, to me, is less interesting as a result.
Creation were obviously splashing the cash a bit (though not on a company-endangering My Bloody Valentine scale, obviously) and it sounds a bit over-produced compared to her debut, but it has its moments, particularly the brass-assisted single “Going Down South”.
Link: Idha – Troublemaker (password: salad)
Always Been With You
Going Down South
Sweet September Rain
Me And Johnny
Fields Of Avalon
Just Moved In
I don’t need to tell you much about the lead track, considering it’s one of their best-known singles, but in brief: non-album single released for christmas 1981; a cover of Labi Siffre‘s equally charming 1971 original; made #4 in the UK and snuck into the US top 40 on the coat-tails of “Our House”.
On this issue it’s supported by three excellent B-sides: “Bed And Breakfast Man”, the single-that-never-was from the One Step Beyond album; “Never Ask Twice” from the “Shut Up” 12″ single, here re-titled “Airplane”; and “Don’t Quote Me On That” from the “Nightboat To Cairo”-led Work Rest and Play EP, wherein Chas Smash responds to the idiot journos who accused the group of being supporters of the National Front, while the band get into the ska-funk groove thang behind him. I think the last two songs might have been making their CD debut.
Dipping into my shoebox of backup discs again, I pick out one dedicated to acts beginning with S, V and Y. They just happened to combine to make the right sort of total to fill a DVD-R.
The S folder contains a subfolder called “1980s”. It contains tracks from the 1980s. Given my haphazard filing system, this is not as obvious as it should be. Here are some tracks retrieved from that subfolder and its subsubfolders, all 12″ mixes.
Later reworked by Beats International as “Dub Be Good To Me” and Professor Green as “Just Be Good To Green”, but the original doesn’t get much of an airing anymore.
I know, Bronski Beat doesn’t start with S. It’s in a folder of various works by Jimmy Somerville. I think by now you should be starting to understand why I can never find the backup I actually want.
More Marc Almond, this time in an early Soft Cell classic. Strange to think this was never a hit, when it’s probably better remembered than bona fide smashes like “What” and “Torch”.
The much-vaunted, little-purchased Stock Aitken Waterman collaboration. The only way this could be more eighties would be to have Selina Scott introducing it.
Because Sigue Sigue Sputnik just aren’t uncool enough.
I remember two things about the day of my Gran’s funeral. Well, apart from the funeral itself, obviously. One was that it was properly, tarmac-softeningly hot, and the other is that I went out for a walk in the morning and heard this track – which had just entered the charts – blaring out of a car, and it lifted the mood for a bit. I don’t think it would have lifted my gran’s mood had she been alive, or come to think of it the mood of any of the other (presumably) family members hanging around the house at the time, but I enjoyed it.
“Sandstorm” by Darude was the European trance sound writ large. It was a ludicrously exciting record at the time (summer 2000), and as such its fate was to be ripped off by countless lesser imitators. Though speaking of rip-offs, I do remember being rather shocked at the discovery that the cassette single had only one track – and it was the radio edit. Not even the full-length version! What a swizz. Sometimes I wonder about the ethics of sharing tracks on here, but this time… it’s payback!
There was a weird moment in 1994 when country music was suddenly the in thing with London hipsters and everyone was gushing about how they’d always loved Gram Parsons, and during those six hours, Creation Records signed up a young Swedish singer by the name of Idha Ovelius, whose husband was Andy Bell, then of Creation signings Ride (and later of Oasis). Was it basically down to nepotism? One doesn’t like to say it, but, well… yeah. Still, it resulted in a couple of pleasant if ultimately inconsequential albums (Melody Inn, 1994, and Troublemaker, 1997) and a handful of actually quite decent singles.
Here’s the debut single, complete with its three non-album B-sides. The first three songs are originals (so “She” is not a tribute to either Sacha Distel or Elvis Costello), while “Coming Down” is a cover of a song by pyschedelic rockers United States Of America. Sometime Small Face, Face and Bloke, Ian McLagan provides keyboards on the first two tracks, and of course Andy Bell plays guitar.
Idha now works for a Stockholm architect’s practice (as a structural engineer, says Wikipedia) so thanks to her, a lot of flashy modern buildings in Southern Sweden won’t be falling down any time soon.
…but the links have now gone. However, should you wish to download the compilation (and why wouldn’t you), I’ve uploaded it as a zip file here:
It’s password-protected, and the password this time isn’t salad (because I forgot it was supposed to be), it’s topmuffins.
Some tracks that didn’t quite make the cut can be found on this very blog in a post titled Martha Superior.
Incidentally, if you look at the post on The New Vinyl Villain, you will see a cover I made for the compilation. For some reason I’ve always thought architectural drawings were a good match for Martha and the Muffins’ music. It’s not a visual style they’ve ever used themselves, so I’m not sure how I came to make that association, but anyway, I did a search for architect’s drawings associated with Toronto, and hit upon the image you see there, which is a pre-construction artist’s impression of the Sharp Centre for Design at OCAD University. It seemed to fit rather well with a band whose best-known song mentions buildings in the distance as a surrealistic sight, and as a bonus the black-and-white tiles on the top part of the building reminded me of the video for “Black Stations / White Stations”. Nice! What I didn’t find out until later is that OCAD University is where founding Muffin (and indeed founding Martha) Martha Ladly is now a Professor of Design and she actually works in that very building! So a nice coincidence as well as a cool image. Don’t you just love it when these things come together?
Sunny for two days in a row… incredible.
Here’s a delightfully twee seaside-themed EP from 1992 by Confetti, which is Mark Randall of Fat Tulips and someone called Virginia Aeroplane, which I’d like to think is her real name, but probably isn’t. The EP had the overall title Sea AnemonE.P. and they followed it with PresentlE.P. (covering three songs by The Wedding Present) and eventually put out their collected works as a CD titled RetrospectivelE.P. Though it seems most people didn’t get the pun on that last one, given that every online reference I can find, leaves out the “l” and just calls it Retrospective EP. They should have used a serif font so it didn’t look like a vertical dividing line instead. On such tiny details do throwaway gags live or die.
When I first heard Confetti, I thought their minimal style was rather unusual and striking. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Young Marble Giants…
Well, it looks like summer’s back for a bit, so let’s break out this one from 1992. A load of other acts have done dance versions of this song since, but this was the one they’re all copying. Indeed, Opus III vocalist Kirsty Hawkshaw has done at least two separate remakes herself, each with several trillion remixes, but back in 1992 Opus III were actually surprisingly restrained, offering just three mixes and a B-side for this one…
Opus III “It’s A Fine Day” (PWL CD single, 1992)
Link: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day (edit)
Link: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day (full length)
Link: Opus III – Evolution Rush
Link: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day (acappella)
The song is of course a cover version, the original being this fully acappella rendering credited simply to Jane on its original release (though at various times also to Jane and Barton or Barton and Jane, in recognition of songwriter and general mastermind of the project Ed Barton), issued on Cherry Red in 1983:
Earlier this year, my old computer died. Not the hard drive but the… other bits. I don’t understand computers. Anyway, happily my back-ups were not too far out of date so I didn’t lose much. And I did eventually work out how to get stuff off the old hard drive as well, though that’s a bit of a headache because… well, as I said, I don’t understand computers.
Anyway! This sent me back to my backups to try to figure out what I did and didn’t have backed up. I have about half a terabyte’s worth of USB sticks (most of them identical, which doesn’t help) and a shoebox full of CD-Rs and DVD-Rs and DVD+Rs (whatever the difference is… but they seem to work the same, anyhow). And this resulted in me rediscovering a load of stuff I’d completely forgotten I had, stuff probably downloaded from blogs that are now long gone. So this post is just some random stuff from one of my absurdly large number of discs, this one a TDK CD-R labelled, with my customary eye for detail, “BACKUPS”, and mainly containing out-of-date copies of the portable versions of several popular open source software products, but also some music. Of course if anyone actually wants an ancient copy of Audacity Portable 1.2.6 revision 3, I’ll happily upload that as well…
So what we have here is…
808 State – Bond
Featuring misanthropic miseryguts M Doughty from hip-hop-jazz-rockers Soul Coughing (and I really must post some of their stuff some day), this was one of the singles from ver State’s 1996 LP Don Solaris. I see the lead single, the loping 5/4-time “Lopez” featuring James Dean Bradfield, appear fairly often on the blogs I frequent, but this one not so much. (The other single, “Azura” with Louise Rhodes, is also pretty good and I hope it will turn up somewhere in my backups as well. I’ll post it if it does! Unfortunately the only physical CD I have of it is a one-track radio promo.) Basic album version here, plus a harder, rockier alternative mix and a bonus B-side.
Flor-De-Lis – Todas as Ruas de Amor
Chirpy Portuguese folk-pop that came somewhere in the middle of the table at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009. Well, I liked it anyway. This version is from their album Signo Solar, which came out a couple of years later, though I seem to recall preferring the earlier versions.
Mauerblümchen Brie – Happyness Is Not For Me
Guitar-based indiepop. Seems to be the only thing this band ever released. Apparently off a 1998 compilation called What You Hear Today, You’ll Be Singing Tomorrow, which would be a great title for a blog, if anyone’s looking for one. I guess I didn’t think much of the rest of the tracks as this is the only one I backed up (unless the rest is somewhere else… which is actually quite likely).
Time for some whimsical semi-acoustic Aussie indiepop from Frente!. No surprise that someone who loves The Cardigans as much as I do, would also have a soft spot for this lot – especially their early EPs. This seven-tracker from 1993 was a kind of introduction to Frente! for the international audience and draws on songs already released in Australia, some of them, including the title track, being remade for this release.
The Melbourne band never really made much impact here in the UK (their second album “Shape” seemed to be in every bargain bin for about a decade) but they had a decent run in their homeland and also dented the US charts with their version of New Order‘s “Bizarre Love Triangle”, which is included here. Also here is their version of “Not Given Lightly”, originally recorded solo by Chris Knox of New Zealand oddmeisters Tall Dwarfs.
Frente!: Labour of Love EP
Link: Frente! – Labour of Love
Link: Frente! – Testimony
Link: Frente! – Not Given Lightly
Link: Frente! – Risk
Link: Frente! – Paper, Bullets, Walls
Link: Frente! – Bizarre Love Triangle
Link: Frente! – Oh Brilliance