A quick one, because I wasn’t going to post anything on Christmas Day, but over the last few days I’ve been sharing things that aren’t really christmas records as such, but which make some reference to christmas anyway… and at 11pm on Christmas Eve I thought of another song that fitted the theme, and the reference in this one is specifically to “christmas morning”, so I rushed off to find my shoebox of music backups and dug out this delightful 1989 Terry Hall tune for you all. Happy Christmas!
Back here tomorrow for a Boxing Day bonus long player!
Pizzicato Five and Flipper’s Guitar are the two bands usually credited with pioneering the 1990s shibuya-kei movement: an eclectic retromodernist approach to music that strongly influenced Japanese pop for a few years. I’ve shared some Pizzicato Five before, both here and in the form of an Imaginary Compilation Album for The New Vinyl Villain, so here’s the other side of the coin.
Where P5 looked to disco, Motown, and French pop for their inspiration, Flipper’s Guitar took their main influences from jangly guitar bands in the UK indiepop scene: Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, Haircut 100 (after whom they titled a song), The Pastels and of course Orange Juice, from whom they nicked the title of this album, “Three Cheers For Our Side”. Their name was also an oblique Orange Juice reference, being suggested by the jumping dolphins on the cover of their first LP You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever.
Flipper’s Guitar weren’t around for very long: this debut album appeared in August 1989, and they’d split by the end of 1991. The debut wasn’t particularly successful at the time, and by the time the follow-up arrived, the original quintet had been reduced to its creative core duo of Keigo Oyamada and Kenji Ozawa, otherwise known as “The Double Knockout Corporation” (geddit?). The photogenic boy duo proved a much more marketable proposition, particularly with them now performing exclusively in Japanese and exuding an edgy irreverence in media appearances, and their second album Camera Talk, and third, Doctor Head’s World Tower (which picked up on the UK’s newly-trendy baggy and shoegaze scenes) went on to gather both critical acclaim and commercial success. And then they split, abruptly and acrimoniously, leaving a slate of already-advertised tour dates unfulfilled. And they’ve never reformed since. Oyamada went electronic and achieved cult popularity in the West – particularly as a remixer for other acts – under the name Cornelius; Ozawa also had a solo career of less international standing.
But back to the album in question, made when they were still a five-piece (you’ll notice original keyboard player Yukiko Inoue contributing female vocals here and there). You can play spot-the-influence or just enjoy a Japanese take on British indiepop. If you like this, the other original albums are worth checking out too (though I warn you, they are mostly in Japanese), along with the live album On Pleasure Bent, which improves on many of the studio versions.
Link: Flipper’s Guitar – Three Cheers For Our Side (password: salad)
- Boys Fire The Tricot
- Coffee-Milk Carzy
- My Red Shoes Story
- Exotic Lollipop (And Other Red Roses)
- Happy Like A Honeybee
- Samba Parade
- Sending To Your Heart
- Goodbye, Our Pastels Badges
- The Chime Will Ring
- Red Flag On The Gondola
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…
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″