RIP – The Long Blondes

Gutted to discover that the Long Blondes, who topped that ultimate barometer of taste, the inaugural 17 Seconds Festive Fifty in 2006 have split.

Not because of the usual ‘musical differences’ or because someone wanted to pursue a solo career. Sadly, guitarist Dorian Cox suffered a stroke in June and is unsure when he will be well enough to play again. Read more about it all NME and at their myspace site.

17 seconds extends sympathy to Dorian and all concerned and hopes he will recover soon.

Was going to post ‘Weekend Without Make Up’ the song that topped the list but decided to go with the opening number from this year’s Couples. It’s a great album and I’ve not really mentioned it much here.
Long Blondes -‘Century.’ mp3

Album Review: Various Artists – Kung Fu Super Sounds

Various Artists – Kung Fu Super Sounds – Unreleased Shaw Brothers Soundtracks (De Wolfe Music Library)

Given the John Baker anthologies released earlier this year, and the upcoming Delia Derbyshire compilation, this has been a great year for the soundtracks obsessive. The de Wolfe Music Library has vaults stretching back one hundred years and as this is released, it is no doubt certain that there will be untold treasures released, many of which may never have seen the light of day before.

The Shaw Brothers, Run Run and Run Me, were responsible for a generation of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies between 1957 and their studio’s implosion in 1985. I have to put my hand up here and say I know next to nothing about Kung Fu or Kung Fu movies. But the soundtracks here -and there’s 43 of them on one disc, make for fascinating listens. they tend to zip by, but there are some gorgeous little gems here.

It’s also worth pointing out that the influence of the Shaw Brothers’s Kung Fu movies on both western cinema and music cannot be underestimated. Quentin Tarentino acknowledged that it had inspired his Kill Bill films and with its’ references to Shaolin, the Flag Of iron and the 36th Chamber, the Wu-Tang Clamn were obviously taking notes as well.

For fans of the genre this release will come like manna. The sleevenotes are impecable, like you would hope for from any release of this calibre. And for someone who knows next to nothing of the genre’s music or films, it’s a welcome insight into both an area of world cinema and music.


‘Counterspy -Dirty Ho Theme.’ mp3

‘Spin Out – Heaven and Hell.’ mp3

‘The Mystified Man -Flag Of Iron.’ mp3

For a full tracklisting see here

Kung Fu Super Sounds will be released on November 3, 2008

Album Review: Fucked Up

Fucked Up -‘The Chemistry Of Modern Life.’ (Matador).

And, damn it, Matador just keep on doing it! This is the second album from the Toronto band with the moniker unlikely to trouble daytime radio (at least in the UK, wheer we can be frightfull uptight and repressed about that sort of thing) and it just adds to the lebgthy list of great albums that the label have released this year. To say nothing of adding to a frighteningly long list of music released over the last half decade by the band themselves.

FU don’t have a myspace, which seems pretty damn radical and anti-establishment in 2008. Hell, to describe Fucked Up is to flail around for descriptions only to find that they’re far from water tight. They are a hardcore punk band, who have released tracks that are eighteen minutes long and used multitracking. Opener ‘Son The Father’ starts off with flutes, for goodness sake. If you think Hardcore means anti-melodic, short bursts of noise, and worthy but inaudible lyrics, then FU have come to change your perception on all of that. They’re punks at heart, but they bring punk, and hardcore punk at that, a reinvigorated feeling. This is an album that does not stop for breath, but contains as much invention as you could hope for from a Flaming Lips album.

Having made it onto the cover of NME and gained a fair amount of coverage, there will be no doubt those who scream sellout. (usually whilst funded by a trust fund). Each repeated play reveals something new. From it’s opener onwards, onto first single ‘No Epiphany’ and the closing title track, this album is sure to feature in many of the year’s best of lists. And it has earned its’ place.


Fucked Up -‘No Epiphany.’ mp3

Fucked Up -‘Twice Born.’ mp3

The Chemistry Of Modern Life is out now on Matador.

Levi Stubbs Remembered (1936-2008)

(L-R) Renaldo ‘Obie’ Benson, Lawrence Payton, Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir and Levi Stubbs

17 Seconds would like to extend its’ condolences to Levi Stubbs’ family. The singer of the Four Tops, who had been ill for several years, has died aged 72.

The Four Tops were one of Motown’s biggest acts, up there with the likes of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. While many acts changed their lineup over the years, the four original members Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton formed the Four Aims in 1954 and sung together until 1997, when Lawrence Payton died. Renaldo Benson died in 2005.

Primarily associated with the 1960s, they continued touring and making records for many years afterwards, and winning new fans. The 1980s saw a remixed version of ‘Reach Out, I’ll Be There’ become a massive hit in the UK in 1988, waking this scribe up to Motown. They also had a hit in the film Buster ‘Loco in Acapulco’ selling to many who had not been born when the group was first formed. The 1980s also saw him provide the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop Of Horrors. Billy Bragg’s first top 40 single ‘Levi Stubb’s tears‘ in 1986 namechecked the singer, as well as mentioning Holland/Dozier/Holland, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.

Just look over your shoulder…

Pay tribute to Levi Stubbs here

Levi Stubbs’ obituary at the LA Times.

Levi Stubbs at the Guardian

The Four Tops -‘Reach Out, I’ll Be There.’ mp3

And because I nearly cried listening to this earlier today, (well, I had a lump in my throat)…

Billy Bragg -‘Levi Stubbs Tears.’ mp3

Hooray hooray, another (much-needed) holiday

Hallelujah, now on holiday and no teaching to be done for eleven days.

Don’t get me wrong, I (mostly) love my job, but it’s considerably more tiring than working in a record shop. Long term I hope it will be more rewarding too.

As for how it compares with running a record label, well, thanks to anyone who has bought Aberfeldy’s ‘Claire’ single off iTunes – thanks because it’s good ol’ 17 Seconds records’ very first release, and if you have, please go and leave us feedback. In the UK, it seems to be the second most popular Aberfeldy track on there after ‘Summer’s Gone.’

Anyway, some sublime pop from My Bloody Valentine now…

My Bloody Valentine -‘We Have All The Time In the World.’ mp3

My Bloody Valentine -‘Paint A Rainbow.’ mp3

Do keep an eye on the blog, as it will get more updates more frequently over the next wee while, as I try to work my way through a rather large pile of review CDs!

Re-Introducing How To Swim

OK folks, now not that I’m offended or anythingm, but seeing as i went to the trouble of posting the link to How To Swim it would have been nice if someone had commented on it. You’re surely not just here for free mp3s are you?!?!

Anyway, the band have very graciously allowed me to post mp3s of their latest single so here you. The a-side is an ode to Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P.Orridge and his “Pandrogeny” body-changing experiments, taken from the perspective of his late partner. It is released on Personal Hygiene Records in the UK, and will shortly be available for download. So I hope you like it.

How To Swim -‘Genesis P and Me.’ mp3

How To Swim -‘From Here To Dundee/Eternity.’ mp3

And if you like it, let me know!

Pop over and make friends at their myspace

Introducing…How To Swim

How To Swim are a fine, fine act hailing from Glasgow. With numbers into double figures (Deep breath, here goes: Ink Wilson – guitar, vocals; Martin Docherty – bass; Chris Brown – hitting things (sic); Sean Callaghan – guitar; Anissia Kerr – keys; Hannah Rankine – saxophone, flute; Anna Webster – vocals, keys, glockenspiel; Ross McCrae – trombone; Annie McFarlane – violin; Rich Merchant – trumpet).

Their many influences include Jim O’Rourke and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, and they sound pure gorgeous, as they say in Glasgow.

Go over and check them out for yourselves here and their website can be found here. Go and make friends.

What are you waiting for?!?!

Gig review: The Fall

The Fall/Milophobia, The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, October 14

A mere 21 years after I first saw them on ITV’s long-forgotten The Roxy performing Hit The North (Part 1), I finally got to see The Fall. Would they match my expectations? Would Mark E. Smith be on good form? Would they play Sparta FC?

I would have to wait. Support came from Milophobia, who are due to release their debut EP at the end of this year. Their six song strong set was excellent from start to finish. I heard echoes of The Fall, perhaps a little more of prime US alternative rock, and saw a front man with start written all over him. Watch this space.

John Cooper Clarke had been ill and missed Friday evening’s gig in Aberdeen, so there was a risk that we wouldn’t get him…and alas, we didn’t. Maybe another time. In the unlikely event that you’re reading this John, get well soon.

Sandwiched down the front of the gig for an hour, would it be worth it? It was certainly a diverse crowd. Anyone expecting it to be just middle-aged blokes in their anoraks…wrong. Men and women, punks, folks drinking wine who looked like they’d come from Morningside, Edinburgh’s posh district, some kids who looked like they were barely out of primary school…The Fall have a diverse crowd following them.

In a word, yes. From the minute the band walked on until they walked off, they captivated, utterly. Mark E. Smith walked on, and I think in a good mood. The devotion he inspires has not faded one iota.

The set was made up of a mixture of old and new, including ‘Wings’ from 1983 but also more recent numbers from this year’s Imperial Wax Solvent, like Latch Key Kid’ and ‘Wolf Kidult Man’. And after a while, so blown away was I by the performance of the band and yer man, Mark, that I stopped trying to worry about remembering the song titles and just lost myself in the music.

Partly because Mr. Smith was so close to me that I could see the whites of his eyes. I was that close to the stage. Not trying to hug him, like some other folks, but close enough to touch him. Not that I would dare. He may be smaller than me, but I wouldn’t touch him. He’d be my dream artist to sign, to interview. If it wasn;t for the fact that I’d be so in awe I’d probably balls it up.

With a back catalogue stretching back thirty years, almost that in studio albums and certainly double that in compilations and live albums, there’s no shortage of quality tunes to play, and it never dips. The recent albums have been excellent, and if I wasn’t really into …Missing Winner, there’s a reminder of a reminder of how good as ‘Reformation’ and ‘Sparta FC’ show that they are just as good as stuff from the Step Forward, Rough Trade and Kamera eras. They go off after ‘Sparta’ and come on and do ‘Carrier Bag Man’ from 1988’s The Frenz Experiment. It’s at this point I really understand why there are so many Fall live albums; they are that good live that it’s justified.

I’m reeling as I drive home. When my wife tells me that there’s bugs in the flat, I just get on and sort them. It’s fair to say that The Fall have knocked me for six. I have been to well over a hundred gigs in the last seven years since coming to Scotland, and this is the best of them all.

The Fall -‘Wings.’ mp3

The Fall -‘Sparta F.C.’ mp3

Oh wow!!!

Finally, it has happened.

17 Seconds’ first single release is available to download from today. Certainly in the UK and should be available from download stores around the world as we speak. It’s on iTunes and should be on many other stores too.

For £1.58 (yes, less than a cup of coffee) you can buy the single and rate it.

Please let us know if you do so, do leave positive feedback, remember this is socialism in action. And if you’re not sure if you’ll like the song, though I cannot see why you wouldn’t, check it out either at our myspace or at Aberfeldy’s myspace

Have a nice day. Come on, Claire…

One that got away

I’ve got to be honest, I know very little about Harvey Danger, but the American band did produce one of the great lost singles of the last ten years.

OK, by ‘lost’ I mean that it wasn’t a huge hit, it reached no.57 in the UK chart. It got played a lot on XFM in London that summer, where I was working during university holidays, going to gigs and spending far too much money in Rough Trade.

I feel a bit bad, I’ve not really followed the band since (they’re still going, as their website tells you), but this is a real gem of a song. Trying to sum it up earlier, this thought occured to me:

‘The Wonderstuff forged a distinctive sound that was a mix of folk and punk, yet owed nothing (to these ears at any rate) to the likes of The Men They Couldn’t Hang or the Pogues. Whatever it was, Harvey Danger took a similar blueprint and mixed it with Pavement, then produced a fantastic song.’

I’m sure a lot of people won’t hear the Wonderstuff connection. Then again, I always thought the New Radicals’ ‘You Get What You Give’ sounded like The Waterboys, so what do I know…

Harvey Danger -‘Flagpole Sitta.’ mp3

Harvey Danger website/Harvey Danger myspace