A little gem today from trumpet-enriched, chorus-shy poetic popsters Animals That Swim, a bit of a “critic’s band” much beloved of the music press back in the 90s, but who never really broke through. In fact, this was their biggest hit, and even this only reached #198. I don’t know how many copies you had to sell to reach number 198 back in 1995, but it can’t have been many. The irony is, technically a five-track EP should have been disqualified from the charts anyway…
This EP came out a little while after their debut LP Workshy, and features an un-sweary re-recording of one of the album’s best songs, “Pink Carnations”, alongside four new tracks. “Del Fresco” and “Kandy Kars” are two of Del Crabtree’s synth-and-trumpet instrumental interludes, and are basically filler, but the other songs “Harry Dean” and “New Boots” are absolute corkers.
Workshy was reissued recently, but with the single version of “Pink Carnations” replacing the original album version. I still prefer the album version, so I’m offering it as a bonus track here.
Link: Animals That Swim – Pink Carnations (single version)
Link: Animals That Swim – Kandy Kars
Link: Animals That Swim – New Boots
Link: Animals That Swim – Harry Dean
Link: Animals That Swim – Del Fresco
Link: Animals That Swim – Pink Carnations (album version) (bonus track)
Laurie Anderson has a bit of a reputation – one that she has not exactly discouraged – for making “difficult music”. And considering that her big hit, “O Superman”, was a menacing, eight-minute, mostly a cappella, allegory about US foreign policy, loosely based on an 1885 aria by Jules Massenet, and taken from an eight-hour stage show incorporating music, film and spoken-word musings on everything from the historical reasons for the location of Washington DC to the velocity of sperm… you can see how that reputation arose.
(As an aside, it’s weird to see how many people attribute “O Superman”‘s success to John Peel. OK, he was the first to play it, but when did John Peel ever make anything a hit? Other DJs picked it up and ran with it, that’s what made it a hit…)
However, on the whole, I reckon Anderson’s musical output is not really as difficult as some people, including Anderson herself, would have you believe. For instance, her debut album Big Science – the one including “O Superman” and commissioned off the back of its freak chart success – is distinctive… but it’s pretty accessible. If you like the direction Talking Heads were taking from Fear of Music onwards, then Big Science should hold no fear for you.
My pick-of-the-day is the album’s blackly humorous, Philip Glass-influenced opening song, “From The Air”. (Anderson and Glass go way back – they were friends and collaborators on the New York art scene before either of them became famous.) This particular track was never released as a single (there was a second single from Big Science, but it was an edited version of the title track), so I’ve assembled my own little single-type package for you instead, with a couple of tracks that could have been B-sides at the time. Brooding violin piece “Born, Never Asked” is one of Anderson’s better-known songs (some readers will know it from Spiritualized‘s cover version), and there’s a version on Big Science, but the recording here is from the music-and-poetry collaboration with William S Burroughs and John Giorno, You’re The Guy I Want to Share My Money With, which came out just before Big Science. The other track is from a 1977 collection New Music For Electronic and Recorded Media, an all-female compilation of experimental electronic compositions.
Er… hello. I had intended to post before this, but what with being quite depressed for lots of reasons, and then managing to forget not only my password for this blog, but also my username and the email account it’s attached to, it’s been a while. Heck, when I first thought of posting this, things weren’t even as bad as they are now. They were just really, really bad.
Still, as we wait for WW3 to kick off in earnest, here’s some laughably hollow optimism from 1987 and a photo of the perpetrator for us all to point at and say “what an idiot”. I think that if I’d realised Sterling Void habitually wore a shoebrush on his head, I might have cottoned on sooner to the fact that his pollyanna-ish pronouncements about the future of humanity were not to be trusted.
And here’s the more famous cover version, in its extended Trevor Horn remix form:
New Yorker Elinor Blake started her musical career in new wavers The Pussywillows in the late 80s and early 90s, but since moving to California in 1991 has mainly worked under the nom-de-disque of April March. I don’t know whether she’s still making music – her last album was in 2012 and her website went offline earlier this year – but she’s got an interesting catalogue behind her anyway, ranging from her early ye-ye revivalism (including an LP of anglophone Serge Gainsbourg adaptations) through excursions in garage rock and electronica to… well, this, a spot of seasonal chamber pop taken from a 1998 winter-themed mini-LP she made in collaboration with experimental rock band Los Cincos. Blake has perhaps been guilty of excessive kookiness at times, but I think this song is just charming…
I don’t know where this DJ mix comes from, but it seemed appropriate to post it for Halloween (listen and you’ll understand why). It features various New Order classics, mainly from the Technique period.
Another bit of 90s dance dedicated to my jogging pals, this time from D:Ream, which though other people flitted around the sidelines, was essentially the nom-de-disque of one Peter Cunnah. Despite poppy numbers like “Shoot Me With Your Love” and the number one smash “Things Can Only Get Better”, he was just about able to cling onto some shred of club credibility thanks to some harder-edged remixes, such as those provided here by Leftfield (yes, them again).
D:ream’s debut album D:Ream On, Vol. 1 (clever wording, cheers) had a ridiculous number of singles lifted from it, partly because at the end of its initial singles campaign, a last-ditch reissue of “Things Can Only Get Better” became a massive hit, leading to the album being reissued in a new cover, and the launch of what was effectively a whole new promotional cycle. “Unforgiven” was one of the singles from the original campaign, achieving a readily-neglected no.29 chart placing.
While Cunnah tended to use the “D:reamix” name for his own remixes, it wasn’t until the second album and its lead single “Shoot Me With Your Love” that he hit upon the idea of flipping it around and having a “Re:Deamix”… too late, Pete, too late…
D:Ream – Unforgiven (1993 CD single)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (7″ D:Reamix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (Sine 7″ Edit)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (12″ D:reamix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (Leftfield Hands Mix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (EMF 7″ Mix)
Link: D:Ream – Unforgiven (Leftfield Hard Mix)
Back in 2006, this song became the first, and to date only, song in Icelandic ever to make the UK top 40, off the back of its use in the trailers for Attenboroughfest Planet Earth. And what a majestic piece of music it is. Stick it on your gym playlist, and it will make your workout feel epic. Heck, do anything to this and it will feel epic. Appropriately enough, all the sweeping romanticism of the music is in service of a bit of lyrical whimsy about how much fun it is to splash about in puddles. Epic.
Anyhow, since it’s back (in slightly remixed form) on the trailers for Planet Earth II, time to dig it out again…
Sigur Rós – Hoppípolla (2006 UK CD single)
Hi, sorry I haven’t posted in ages. While out jogging, my companions asked what sort of music I like, and I completely forgot that a good answer to this question would be, “well, I’ve got a blog called We Will Have Salad where I post music I like, you should check it out”. So it’s probably high time I got back to sharing some more bangin’ choons.
And on that note, here’s a classic single lifted from Leftfield‘s 1995 album Leftism. And shockingly used to advertise some processed cheese product a few years back. The tune may be processed, but it ain’t cheesy, unlike this sentence.
Leftfield – Release The Pressure (1996 CD single)
More indiepop for you! This 1990 Peel Session by The Field Mice goes around online and I’m happy to do my bit to keep it circulating. This session was recorded around the time that the superb and diverse Skywriting mini-LP came out, but rather than showcasing that record, The Field Mice chose to do four new and exclusive songs instead. These songs never appeared on any official release; they’re not even on the double-CD reissue of Skywriting, even though there’s easily room for them.
Let’s go a bit jangly with PO!, an ever-evolving line-up which revolved around songsmith Ruth Miller. I first became aware of Miller through her work with early-90s Leicester supergroup Ruth’s Refrigerator – well, actually that band was my introduction to the whole sprawling Leicester art-pop scene, given that its members were instrumental (and vocal) in a whole mess of other groups including, but definitely not limited to, Deep Freeze Mice, The Chrysanthemums, (Jody And) The Creams, Immediate, The Thurston Lava Tube, The Junipers and of course PO!. Throw the likes of The Originals and Jesus Couldn’t Drum into the mix, and even Pete Frame would struggle to sort that lot out.
Anyhow, Miller took the majority of lead vocals in Ruth’s Refrigerator (she fronted the aforementioned Jody And The Creams as well), but PO!, where she performed her own material, was her main and best outlet. As she describes the band on her own blog, they had “soaring and jangly tunes, but the words are often more reflective, miserable or aggressive”. I’d call it proper, consistently high-quality old-school indiepop. I’m sure she’s been dogged by these comparisons her whole career but if you like Amelia Fletcher‘s work (and why wouldn’t you), then PO! should be right up your street too. Thrillingly, the old PO! material will (if things go to plan) get a long-overdue reissue in the near future. Meanwhile, here’s one of the later works…
PO! – “The Alphabet EP” (1997)