Author Archive: Alex G

Black comedy

No, not Colin Vearncombe.

Before becoming Kid Creole, the man listed on his birth certificate as Thomas August Darnell Browder, sometimes known as Tommy Browder but more usually as August Darnell, was an in-house producer at new York’s uber-cool art-pop indie label Ze Records. (And before that, he was in his brother Stony’s Grammy-winning, genre-busting disco group Doctor Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, but that’s for another post sometime.)

For an overview of Darnell’s pre-Coconuts work, I very much recommend the compilation Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1976-83. It’s a somewhat scattershot collection, but full of gems, including this, a proper stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks reworking of Leiber and Stoller‘s 1969 composition for Peggy Lee, “Is That All There Is?”. The original was bleak enough, but this version is seriously out there.

Leiber and Stoller didn’t take kindly to this treatment of their song, and got it withdrawn, which led to the few existing copies becoming insanely valuable. Fortunately, by the time Cristina’s catalogue was reissued in 2002, Leiber and Stoller’s feelings toward the reinterpretation had softened somewhat, and they finally gave their blessing for it to be made legally available once more.

The download also includes the original B-side, a Darnell original which would have suited Bow Wow Wow.

Link: Cristina – Is That All There Is? (1980 single) (password: salad)

1. Is That All There Is?
2. Jungle Love

Advertisements

Celebrations and Jüblations

Just a note for anyone who may be interested… the new A.R.Kane material that’s been in the pipeline for a while, is finally on the way! Except that it’s not A.R.Kane anymore, it’s now called Jübl, consisting of Rudy and Maggie Tambala and Andy Taylor. If you count downloads as “singles”, then the single “drops” on 20 June. If not, well, there will be some songs available to download anyway.

Bandcamp page here.

Two songs called “Slowdive”

I think it’s fair to say Siouxsie and the Banshees is one of those bands who enjoyed a long and pretty successful career without ever quite going mainstream. Everybody’s heard of them, but not to the point where your average punter actually knows any songs. They did have some pretty big hits but I can’t remember the last time I heard them played on the radio.

Which is beside the point, because this single – the first from their acclaimed fourth LP A Kiss In The Dreamhouse – wasn’t even a hit really, only hobbling to a disappointing #41. And it’s aimed more at the dancefloor than the radio anyway. It’s pretty funky in a weirdly British psychedelic way, though.

Link: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Slowdive (12″ version)

I wouldn’t say the B-sides are hidden gems, but for those who want them, here they are. Both quite doomy and gloomy; “Obsession II” is the instrumental of album track “Obsession”.

Link: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Cannibal Roses
Link: Siouxsie and the Banshees – Obsession II

Slowdive would of course later be the name of a shoegaze band, due to it being one of singer/guitarist Rachel Goswell‘s favourite songs. And so in 1990, they released “Slowdive” as their debut single… but wait! This isn’t the same song at all! No, having been inspired by Siouxsie and the Banshees, they stole the title and wrote their own song instead. Well there’s gratitude for you. But it’s a good song full of shimmering loveliness, so I guess I’ll let them off…

Here’s Slowdive’s “Slowdive” along with its B-sides:

Link: Slowdive – Slowdive
Link: Slowdive – Avalyn I
Link: Slowdive – Avalyn II

“We’ll Meet Again” goes Stateside

Spoiler if you haven’t seen the end of Dr Strangelove: everybody dies. Well, presumably they do, since the film ends with the outbreak of nuclear war. Soundtracked, naturally, with Vera Lynn singing “We’ll Meet Again”.

I haven’t found a definitive answer as to which recording the film used, but it seems to be the same arrangement done by Roland Shaw for Lynn’s 1953 remake version. An A/B comparison quickly reveals it’s not the same performance though (for one thing, on the film version the backing vocals are noticeably out of time), so my best guess is that it’s an alternative take from the 1953 session. Speculation: could Kubrick’s people have been supplied with an out-take by mistake? In any case, it’s certainly neither the original 1939 version (on which Lynn was accompanied by a Novachord, a pioneering if temperamental and ultimately not very successful analogue synthesiser), nor the better-known orchestral recording from 1943. Nor even the dashed-off remake from Lynn’s 1962 Hits of the Blitz LP. I can tell you this, I really didn’t expect to be delving quite so deeply into Vera Lynn scholarship. Which, incidentally, doesn’t appear to exist, as you’d think somebody in the last 50-odd years would have attempted to identify the Dr Strangelove take already… but apparently not.

I wasn’t intending to post any Vera Lynn today… or ever… but the fact that the original version used a synthesiser, in 1939, is actually rather interesting, so here is that version:

Link: Vera Lynn (with Arthur Young on the Novachord) – We’ll Meet Again

However, what I’m really here for is the fallout (pardon the pun) from Kubrick’s use of the song. “We’ll Meet Again” wasn’t entirely unknown in the States before then: Benny Goodman laid down a really rather fun swing version in 1942, with a young Peggy Lee on vocals; and Frank Sinatra cut a slow and boring version on his 1962 album Songs From Great Britain. But after Dr Strangelove‘s concluding mushroom cloud montage, the song suddenly became hip in the US counterculture as well. First to the punch were The Byrds, who used the song to close their 1965 debut album Mr Tambourine Man. That the song was considered quintessentially British is reflected in the performance, which is marred by some terrible mock-English accents…

Link: The Byrds – We’ll Meet Again

Also playing up the Englishness is this recording by The Turtles, an unsuccessful US single which British audiences got to hear when it was issued as the B-side to the UK pressing of “Happy Together”. This is my favourite version, an upbeat celebratory arrangement with a pub-style piano.

Link: The Turtles – We’ll Meet Again

There were other versions as well, and they didn’t always go for the Anglophile angle. For example, this attempt at a Beach Boys-style rendition by The Cryan’ Shames:

Link: The Cryan’ Shames – We’ll Meet Again

The song was well established as a peacetime, as well as wartime, standard by the time P. J. Proby gave it the lounge treatment in 1972 (stick with it, it starts slow but it goes full Vegas by the end):

Link: P. J. Proby – We’ll Meet Again

Proby’s version demonstrates a perennial problem for interpreters of this song: there’s not a lot to it. You basically have to do the entire song twice to stretch it out to a reasonable length. It doesn’t help that none of the later versions (even Lynn’s own) bother with the opening verse present on the 1939 Novachord original. Proby’s partial answer to the problem, a spoken-word section, is also used by Johnny Cash on American IV, his last album released during his lifetime. This was the same album which included his acclaimed version of Nine Inch Nails‘ “Hurt”. “We’ll Meet Again” is the closing song (of course), and it’s a rather sweet acoustic version.  Special mention has to go to Terry Harrington for his understated clarinet solo.

Link: Johnny Cash – We’ll Meet Again

I was going to leave it there, but it occurred to me that we haven’t heard a female performance since, well, the original. So to take us full circle (kinda), here’s the version from She & Him‘s 2014 covers album, Classics. It’s actually quite strange to hear the song done straight again…

Link: She & Him – We’ll Meet Again

And we’ll meet again… in a few days. It may even still be sunny.

 

Not as good as Orlando

Here’s the 1996 calling-card single by Sexus, the romo-connected synthpop duo of David Savage (voice) and Paul Southern (instruments). Southern Savage would have been a good name, actually.

Whatever happened to them? Oh, the usual story: bad deals, label meddling, not getting paid… they did re-emerge a while later as Psychodelicates and while they don’t seem to have been active for about a decade, their website still exists at http://www.psychodelicates.com.

Link: Sexus – The Official End Of It All (password: salad)

1. The Official End Of It All
2. Longing Without Belonging
3. King Of The Fairground Swing
4. The Official End Of It All (Hi-Lux Not Enough Clothes Mix)

Big Wubbles, No Trubbles

I’m not hugely familiar with 90s alt-dance group Wubble-U, and they haven’t struck enough of a chord with anyone to have much more than a stub on Wikipedia. They seem to be remembered pretty much solely for the bouncy, Stanley Unwin-featuring microhit “Petal”, but today I’m sharing the only other slab of Wubble-U in my collection, and it’s not very much like “Petal” at all, more like a high-velocity version of Fat Les. It seems it was supposed to be the follow-up to “Petal” but… wasn’t. And it wasn’t even on their album, so this one-track promo is all there ever was.

Link: A Bit Like You – Wubble-U

Call me a taxi! (Alright… you’re a taxi)

inlovewithmambotaxiHere’s a full album for you, from riot grrrl quartet Mambo Taxi. The thanks list for this album (which takes up most of the inlay card) is a wonderful catalogue of great bands of the early-to-mid 90s…. Stereolab, Th’ Faith healers, Velocity Girl, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Pram, Cornershop, Senseless Things, Prolapse, Heavenly, Huggy Bear, Transglobal Underground… and bands I’d forgotten even existed, like Killdozer and Palace Brothers. And ones I’m only guessing from context were bands: Saffron’s Daughter, Frantic Spiders, Gorgeous Space Virus, Ascoyne d’Ascoynes, Punjab Rovers… heck, who needs the music when just the acknowlegements are such a rush of nostalgia?

But here’s the music anyway.

Link: Mambo Taxi – In Love With… (password: salad)

1. Tom
2. Kiss Kiss Kiss
3. Belgian Blues
4. 2 Nice Boys
5. Happy Claire
6. (Push That) Pram (Under The Train)
7. Evangelical
8. Screaming In Public
9. Poems on the underground
10. Reasons To Live
11. Inscure
12. My Room
13. Velvet Youth

 

 

A.R.Kane revisited

As the original links are long gone from The New Vinyl Villain blog, here’s the Imaginary Compilation Album I assembled for dreampop innovators A.R.Kane. Note that the password here is NOT salad, but anitina.

Link: A.R. Kane – Is This Is? (An Imaginary Compilation Album) (password: anitina)

Tracklisting:
“Dream side”
1. Baby Milk Snatcher (EP version)
2. When You’re Sad (short version)
3. Sperm Whale Trip Over
4. The Butterfly Collector
5. Is This Dub?
“Pop side”
6. Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance) (original 12″ mix)
7. Miles Apart (Robin Guthrie mix)
8. In A Circle
9. A Love from Outer Space (John Luongo solar equinox mix)
10. Sea Like A Child (album version)

You can find the write-up here: https://thenewvinylvillain.com/2015/12/21/an-imaginary-compilation-album-53-a-r-kane/

Undercover Cardigans

One thing that bothers me about The Cardigans‘ discography is the way that the international version of “Life” messed up the album’s concept by cherry-picking songs from the proper Swedish version of the album, and their previous long-player “Emmerdale”. The two albums have quite distinct feels (actually, all six of their studio albums have quite distinct feels): “Emmerdale” is full of gentle-sounding but quite bleak songs with cellos and woodwind and that, while “Life” is a much more “up” album full of character-driven slice-of-life songs. But the international version of “Life” just throws together a mishmash of songs from both LPs, and though “Emmerdale” was later released internationally in its original configuration, “Life” never was. So now there are two albums out there with a bunch of tracks in common, which they shouldn’t have.

Anyway, this Canadian-only EP features the re-recorded version of “Rise & Shine” from the international “Life”, along with “In The Afternoon”, also on the international “Life” but from “Emmerdale” really, plus three slowed-down cover versions of songs by Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. Alright individually, though a bit much back-to-back, and anyway their best effort in this vein is Sabbath’s “Iron Man” from “Emmerdale”. “Mr Crowley” does offer the chance to hear the group’s menfolk doing a cappella harmonies though.

Bafflingly, on Allmusic, it says that this EP contains a unique re-recording of “Rise & Shine”, though nobody else seems to think it does. It certainly sounds like the “Life” recording to me.

Link: The Cardigans – Under The Covers EP (password: salad)

1. Rise & Shine
2. The Boys Are Back In Town
3. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
4. Mr. Crowley
5. In The Afternoon

 

It wasn’t fifty years ago today, as it turns out

My friend Eloise is 50 today. For a long time, I thought she was named after this song, until I checked the date and realised it came out in the autumn of 1968. So she wasn’t. And neither was her twin sister Jesamine. (No, she doesn’t really have a twin sister called Jesamine.)

Link: Barry Ryan – Eloise

And here are a couple of later versions…

Link: The Damned – Eloise
Link: The Associates – Eloise