Album Review – Jesus and Mary Chain

Jesus and Mary Chain

Jesus and Mary Chain -’Live At Barrowlands.’ (Demon)

There they came. A band who took no prisoners, led by two brothers whose fractious relationship would see them put Alan McGee’s Creation records on the map and implode spectacularly a decade and a half later, having created some utterly spellbounding music, and releasing a debut album that would overshadow much of their subsequent output.

If you think that I’m talking about Oasis and the Gallagher brothers…well I could have been, but to many people, the Mary Chain did far more to shake up rock’n'roll than Oasis ever did. That debut album, Psychocandy, now celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. In doing so they paved the way for much of c-86 and shoegazing, and influenced an entire generation of people determined to push forward what guitar music could do. This, then, is a live document of the reformation shows which took place last year at Glasgow’s legendary Barrowlands venue.

While some artists create such a strong piece of work with their debut album that everything subsequent makes them look like Orson Welles, producing great work but unable to truly equal it (have you ever met anyone who seriously thinks that Lloyd Cole has equaled Rattlesnakes?), the Mary Chain did produce some great songs subsequently, and the album kicks off with a selection of these. So we get their two top ten hits ‘April Skies’ and ‘Reverence’. The latter is particularly strong, and indeed long, here. Rarely has nihilism sounded so utterly cool. We also get that astonishing debut single ‘Upside Down’, the banned from Radio 1 because it was ‘obviously’ about heroin ‘Some Candy Talking’ and the song ‘Psychocandy’ which wasn’t actually on the album. Alas, I wasn’t at the gig, but this truly brings me (and anyone else listening) as close as we will come.

Debate rages about whether bands should reform at all, and whether there’s any point in doing shows or tours which focus on one classic album. Whilst the thought of watching a dead horse being flogged may be depressing, I wonder how many of those who sneer really would rather starve than pay the bills and put food on the table. The fact is it may not be for money – classic albums are worth celebrating -and if they do it with as much style as the Mary Chain do it here, it underlines just how damn good the original record is. (And – here’s a thought – supposing you were too young to be there the first time round?)

So yes, the second part of the album is Psychocandy played in its entirety. From the opening ‘Just Like Honey’ to the closing ‘It’s So Hard’ what is delivered is a fantastic set that shows an album that truly is seminal, and which live sounds like it made the Barrowlands sweat rock’n'roll even more than it usually does onto its sticky floors. The brothers Reid – and their hired helps – were truly on fire on this night, and only added to an already impressive legacy. This is not an album to replace the original studio album, nor do I imagine it was conceived as such. It’s a welcome addition to their catalogue, and a reminder of why they were so utterly necessary.

****1/2

Live At Barrowlands is released on Demon on July 31.

Album Review – The Jam

The Jam ... About The Young Idea (UMC-Polydor).

The Jam -’About The Young Idea – The Very Best of The Jam.’ (UMC/Polydor)

What? Another compilation of The Jam? This one, however, is to tie in with an exhibition taking place at Somerset House in London, entitled About The Young Idea. This compilation serves as a reminder that between 1977 and their split at the peak of their fame, just five years later.

The title of this latest compilation comes from the band’s debut single ‘In The City.’ Nearly forty years on, it still sounds like a remarkably fresh call to arms from the eighteen year old Paul Weller, and like any great debut single, sounds like a manifesto. It’s widely recognised that the Sex Pistols’ fourth single, ‘Holiday In The Sun’ borrows from it.

What this compilation – like a number of the many Jam compilations over the last thirty years – does do is cherry pick from that time, and the reality is that the first two Jam studio albums, In The City and This Is The Modern World are patchy affairs. But in 1978 ‘News Of the World’ showed that bassist Bruce Foxton was also a writer (and indeed singer), and that the band would produce a number of singles that would not appear on the albums. By the end of the year All Mod Cons showed just how much they’d matured, and how sharp Weller’s writing had become. ‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street’ and the still-astonishing (and not a little horrifying) ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’ were the singles and just a glimpse of how bloody good they were. They would never again be recording slightly pointless cover versions of the ‘Batman’ theme for fleshing out albums; The Jam’s b-sides were frequently just as good as the a-sides (see ‘Tales From The Riverbank’ ‘Dreams Of Children’ and ‘The Butterfly Collector’ for evidence of this).

And until 1982 the quality did not abate. In 1979 they released ‘Strange Town’ (the first video they would work on with Steve Barron), and a contender for one of their finest songs. The anger was still there, but ever more focused, as on ‘Eton Rifles’, which decades later would infuriate Weller when British Prime Minister praised it. They’d come through punk, but Weller’s love of soul was beginning to show through.

Who knows what could have happened had the band stayed together beyond 1982? Many people have never forgiven Weller for splitting the band up. Whilst it has ceased to be worthy of comment when a single debuts at no.1 in the British charts for a couple of decades, the Jam did it several times when this was almost unheard-of. And they deserved to, with ‘Going Underground,’ ‘A Town Called Malice’ and ‘Beat Surrender.’ Hell, the Jam also scored high-selling (and charting) import singles with ‘Just Who Is The 5 o’Clock Hero?’ and ‘That’s Entertainment.’

The chances are that many reading this will have bought a Jam compilation (and perhaps studio albums, I certainly hope so). Whether or not people will feel that they can or cannot live without owning the radio advert for the ‘In The City’ single which opens this album is one of only two unreleased tracks here, let this not discriminate from what is still a fine body of work.

****1/2

About The Young Idea – The Very Best of The Jam is out now on UMC/Polydor.

The return of Chvrches

About five years ago, I reviewed (Favourably) the debut EP from a band called Blue Sky Archives. It’s impressive to see just how far singer Lauren Mayberry has come. (And of course Iain Cook was in Aereogramme, the cruelly underrated Scots band of the 200s). Following on from a host of excellent singles and a great debut The Bones Of What You Believe, the band are due to release their justifiably anticipated album Every Open Eye on September 25.

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

1.Never Ending Circles
2.Leave A Trace
3.Keep You On My Side
4.Make Them Gold
5.Clearest Blue
6.High Enough To Carry You Over
7.Empty Threat
8.Down Side Of Me
9.Playing Dead
10.Bury It
11.Afterglow

The lyric video for ‘Leave A Trace’ can be seen below:

Presenting…Kone

Kone

Kone are a three piece band who describe themselves as making ‘art music for guitars.’ They are (drum roll, please): Alice (Voice and Guitar), Graeme (Drums, Samples, and Voice) and Jonny (Voice and Bass). They have been gigging in London and Oxford so far (and hopefully will start gigging further afield). They produce an original take on the post-punk sound, and they have very colourful videos, which are just as much part of the Kone experience (that’s my opinion, not regurgitated from a press release, just in case you were wondering). They’ve been working with producer by Henry Dartnall of the Young Knives on their first two singles.

In June they released their debut single ‘No Colour World,’ the video for which can be seen below.

Their new forthcoming single is entitled ‘Bauhaus Table.’ That’s Bauhaus as in the German design of the Weimar Republic, (rather than the Northampton goth band of the original post-punk era). With a fantastic video by Hockson Productions, it does indeed feature a Bauhaus chair. Actually, it features lots of them.

A song for today #17

Mark Morriss

The Bluetones’ Mark Morriss is shortly (July 31) to release his second solo album The Taste Of Mark Morriss. It’s a covers album, and one of the tracks to be doing the rounds is his own unique take on the Sisters Of Mercy’s ‘Lucretia My Reflection,’ which was a hit in 1988 and appeared on the goth legends’ second album Floodland.

This is the video:

The original can (and indeed MUST be streamed by clicking on the link below)

This is the album tracklisting – and for fun if you click on the link you can hear the original (clever, eh?):

1. This Pullover (originally by Jess Conrad)
2. Rock & Roll Woman (originally by Buffalo Springfield)
3. Souvenir (originally by OMD)
4. Self Control (originally by Laura Branigan)
5. Duchess (originally by Scott Walker)
6. You Are My Friend (originally by Rain Parade)
7. Lucretia (My Reflection) (originally by Sisters of Mercy)
8. Angel (originally by Madonna)
9. Almost Gold (originally by Jesus & Mary Chain)
10.Don’t Let Go (originally by Weezer)
11.Love Comes Quickly (originally by The Pet Shops Boys)
12.Good Advices (originally by REM)

Awesome film-noir pop video

aiewms+graffiti

An Intimate Evening With Michael Shaw is the work of San Francicso Irishman Michael Shaw.

He has released an excellent film-noir style video for his song ‘Now You Know’ from his new album, This Is It. The stunning video can accurately been described as era-ambiguous (it looks like the 1940s, but are those sixties clothes? And why is she taking a selfie with an antique camera? All will be revealed…or will it?). It’s a great track and an even better video. Do take the time to watch it.

"Now You Know" An Intimate Evening With Michael Shaw from Ian Colon on Vimeo.

More can be read here on the song and the website for An Intimate Evening With Michael Shaw can be found by clicking on this link.

Interview – Slow Riot

Slow Riot

As their debut single ‘City Of Culture’ comes out, Irish three-piece Slow Riot come out in defence of their hometown of Limerick and how they’d love One Direction to cover one of their songs. They may have their tongues firmly in their cheek…

17 Seconds: Please introduce yourselves

Niall: Hi I’m Niall Clancy and I play bass and sing, Aaron Duff is on guitars and Paul Cosgrave on drums

17 Seconds: How did the band come together? Had any of you played in bands before?

Paul: All three of us were in different bands growing up but Slow Riot in its current format started in December 2013.

17 Seconds: Who are your influences as a band?

Paul: I grew up listening to Nirvana but when I heard Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol something clicked and I have loved that band ever since. There is such a wealth of talent between Ireland and the UK musically-wise that we are spoiled with influences.

Aaron: Biggest influence on me when I was growing up and learning guitar was the local music scene in Limerick. I was amazed as a 14, 15 year old that kids my age could even be in bands. I’d sneak into pubs and venues to try catch some of the older bands in the scene too. Somewhere along that timeline I was hooked and needed to be in a band. Unfortunately that DIY music scene went away.

Special mention goes to my parents’ record collection too!

17 Seconds: Tell us about the single ‘City of Culture’…

Niall: ‘City of Culture’ is the most immediate track that we’ve written to date. I started with the initial bass riff and we built on it from there. The song is specifically about our experience with the Limerick music scene.

17 Seconds: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened at one of your gigs?

Paul: People clapped… No I’m joking, obviously!

Niall: Nothing that strange – to be honest, we haven’t played too many shows to date. We’re hoping to change that soon and play some dates to coincide with the release of our debut EP.

Aaron: I got in a fight with a heckler once in an old band I was in but I’ve been behaving myself recently.

17 Seconds: What’s the best thing about living in Limerick? And the worst?

Paul: Limerick is a great city that has been painted by the Irish media in very poor light. It’s been tagged as ‘Stab city’ but we feel this isn’t a true representation of the city. It has been hit hard by the recession with a lot of big factories closing down but the people of Limerick are a proud bunch and have started regenerating the city with big plans.

Aaron: The people. 100%

17 Seconds: What future releases have you got planned?

Niall: ‘City of Culture’ is our first release on London label Straight Lines are Fine, which is out on July 10th. This will be followed by our next single ‘Demons’ and our EP Catherdral in September. We are looking forward to getting the tracks out and start playing some shows in the UK and Ireland. We’ve also been working on some new tracks so I don’t think it will be too long before we are back in the studio.

17 Seconds: Who would you most like to cover one of your songs?

Niall: The Darkness.

Paul: Probably One Direction as I’d like to see what those crazy guys would come up with.

Aaron: I’d love for The Simpsons to give it a go. They always knock it out of the park.

17 Seconds: Who would you most like to work with or collaborate with?

Aaron: Such a tough question because there’s too many. Brian Eno, actually!

17 Seconds: What are Slow Riot’s plans for the next twelve months?

Paul: We want to release the E.P in September and get out playing shows. We are currently writing new material that we plan to record early next year as part of a new EP or full length album.

‘City Of Culture’ is out now on Straight Lines Are Fine.

Two cover versions for today

Two Eighties-related cover versions today, involving two of 17 Seconds’ three favourite acts of all time.

Kate-Bush

First up, following on from the North-East of England producing great cover versions of Kate Bush songs, Slug unveils a take on ‘The Big Sky,’ originally found on the legendary The Hounds Of Love LP and a single in 1986. [Those other North-East cover versions are, of cource, China Drum doing ‘Wuthering Heights’ and The Futureheads doing ‘The Hounds Of Love.’

David-Bowie-00s-david-bowie-37030347-900-900

In a not dissimilar vein, Desert Sound Colony take on David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ and produce something that’s both dancefloor and chilled at the same time. ‘Fashion‘ originally appeared on Bowie’s Scary Monsters album, yet this version owes far more to the Berlin trilogy and Bowie’s great lost single ‘Loving The Alien.’

A song for today #16

la-priest-i-sam-eastgate-009

Listening to Mary Ann Hobbes on 6Music yesterday morning, I heard the fantastic ‘Learning To Love’ by LA Priest.

This is the moniker of Sam Eastgate, once of Late Of The Pier. This squelchy soul number from the man who has reportedly been building synths in a Welsh mountain retreat and studying electromagnetic phenomena in Greenland (according to The Guardian) is utterly fantastic and a serious contender for anthem of the summer. It’s taken from his debut album Inji which is out now on Domino. And one of the marks of the quality of the track is that you want to play it again and again, almost before you have finished playing it.

On you go…

The return of The Libertines

2015TheLibertines_Press_4_020715.article_x4

It’s been eleven years – but the Libertines are back! All four members as we knew them and about to unleash their third album Anthems For Doomed Youth.

The album’s out on September 4 and the tracklisting is as follows:

1. Barbarians
2. Gunga Din
3. Fame and Fortune
4. Anthem for Doomed Youth
5. Heart of the Matter
6. Belly of the Beast
7. Iceman
8. You’re My Waterloo
9. Fury of Chonburi
10. The Milkman’s Horse
11. Glasgow Coma Scale Blues
12. Dead for Love

The Bonus tracks are
1. Love on the Dole
2. Bucket Shop
3. Lust of the Libertines
4. 7 Deadly Sins

The first track to hear (not available to download yet as far as I can see) is the awesome ‘Gunga Din.’