It’s a steal

Ace halfway-spoken-word thing from 1997 by writer and… can we call him a performance poet? He performs poetry, after all… Kirk Lake, backed by Jacques, the side-project of Anthony Reynolds and Matthew Scott of Jack. Well, on the first two tracks he’s backed by Jacques. On “£10,000 Dog” support comes from sample-delica (if that’s a word) artist Ed DMX, and he’s got his own band backing him up on “Dementia Pugilistica”. Quirky and witty.

Link: Kirk Lake / Jacques – Five Finger Discount (password: salad)

1. Five Finger Discount
2. All The Clocks Have Stopped
3. £10,000 Dog
4. Dementia Pugilistica


I suppose they just hit the wall

tada tataHere’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)

  1. Sticky Dumb Gum
  2. The Brigade
  3. Ebony
  4. Sticky Dumb Gum (cello version)
  5. Hit The Wall

Weekend Long Player: The Madness

The Madness album that isn’t really a Madness album…

After making a big deal of their 1986 breakup, four out of the seven original members of Madness (Graham McPherson, Cathal Smyth, Lee Thompson and Chris Foreman) promptly got back together, made a tiny change to their name, and released this self-titled 1988 album. It pretty much carries on from where “Mad Not Mad” left off, which may not be considered a good thing, considering that MNM is generally disliked for its over-reliance on synths and drum machines. Those remain very much in evidence here, and the trend away from the “nuttiness” that made them famous is also marked. Lead vocals are split almost equally between McPherson and Smyth.

Link: The Madness – The Madness (password: salad)

1. Nail Down The Days
2. What’s That
3. I Pronounce You
4. Oh
5. In Wonder
6. Song In Red
7. Nightmare Nightmare
8. Thunder And Lightning
9. Beat The Bride
10. Gabriel’s Horn
11. Eleventh Hour
12. Be Good Boy
13. Flashings
14. 4BF

Phobiahh is taking ovahh

phobiahFlowered 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)

  1. Phobia (Extended Play)
  2. Flapping
  3. Phobia (Paranoid Mix)
  4. Phobia (7″ mix)

No, it really WAS a cracking debut single

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)


Three sides #1

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…

Link: Madness – Shut Up  (album version)

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:

Link: Kate Bush – There Goes A Tenner

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…

Link: Renegade Soundwave – Probably A Robbery (7″ mix)





Weekend Long Player: “Boing!” by Airhead

I’d say there’s a fair amount of love for early 90s indiepopsters Airhead in the blogosphere, but I never see anyone post their album, so here it is.

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)

  1. Scrap Happy
  2. I Might Fall
  3. Right Now
  4. Funny How (single version)
  5. Easy
  6. Counting Sheep
  7. I Don’t Mind
  8. Congratulations
  9. Wish You Were Here
  10. Isn’t It Rich
  11. Everybody Needs
  12. Funny How (original version)

A song for Movember

…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

Old waves of new wave

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.

Link: Blancmange – Waves (single version)
Link: Blancmange – Business Steps
Link: Blancmange – Waves (album version)

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…

Link: Blancmange – Making Aeroplanes (Without Victoria)

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.


The Name Game – 3

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.

Link: “Ooh La La” by Faces
Link: “Faces” by Stone The Crows
Link: “Stone The Crows” by A House
Link: “A House” by Doves