Mutual appreciation society: The Horrors and the Manic Street Preachers


As you’re probably aware if you have much interest in guitar music and/or the UK indie scene, both the Manic Street Preachers and The Horrors have recently released new albums. The Horrors’ sophomore release Primary Colours has already made the UK Top 30 albums and will no doubt do very well at the end of the year in the end of year polls. Deservedly so. The Manic Street Preachers have just released their ninth album, Journal For Plague Lovers, which is based on lyrics written by the band’s guitarist Richey Edwards, who disappeared in 1995.

So there seems to be a bit of mutual admiration going on -which is fair enough, after all, they’re both great bands after all. The Manics have covered The Horrors’ song ‘Vision Blurred’ (a non-album track, in case you were racking your brains!) and The Horrors have remixed the Manics’ album track ‘Doors Clsoing Slowly.’ Neither of these tracks have been commercially released, at least so far as I can tell, but were originally made available by the NME website.

So give these a listen, and see what you think. And when I’ve had chance to get my hands on the Manics album, I’ll post a review here.

Manic Street Preachers -‘Doors Closing Slowly (The Horrors remix).’ mp3

Manic Street Preachers -‘Vision Blurred (The Horrors cover).’ mp3

Manic Street Preachers website/Manic Street Preachers myspace

The Horrors website/The Horrors myspace

As always, please leave feedback if you like what you hear!

The return of The Twilight Sad


And…they’re (almost) back! Currently touring the UK, The Twilight Sad have been working on their sophomore album at Glasgow’s Chem 19 studio (which is also where Escape Act are working on theirs). The record is entitled Forget The Night Ahead.

Their debut, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters was released two years ago. In that time it picked up a lot of blog love, and a growing reputation deservedly spread, not just in Scotland but across the world. When I received an from FatCat records today to say was I interested in receiving an mp3 of the first fruits of the sessions…how could I say no? When I heard it I was even more pleased, to these ears, it’s just as good as ‘And She Would Darken The Memory’ or ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy.’

So here it is…presenting for your enjoyment, the first fruits from the recording sessions for their next album…

The Twilight Sad -‘Reflection Of the Television.’ mp3

The Twilight Sad website/The Twilight Sad myspace

I hope you’ll like it, I’m sure you will, but please leave feedback!

Oh, and if you haven’t heard them before, via insound here is one of their earlier songs:

Twilight Sad -‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy.’ mp3

Album Review: Sleepy Sun


Sleepy Sun -‘Embrace.’ (ATP Recordings)

‘Only Connect…’ E.M. Forster, Howard’s End, 1910.

Sigh. Despite my best intentions and several listens, I have to confess that I have failed to connect with this album. It’s not a bad album, or an unpleasant album, I just can’t do more than admire it casually, and agree to disagree. Rather like someone you meet, you don’t hate each other or feel any malice, you just feel that there’s no common ground.

It’s a slightly folky take on stoner rock – it goes without saying almost that these guys and gal hail from California. It’s quite good in itself, as if the Desert sessions of Josh Homme had been invaded by the spirits of Led Zeppelin and Fairport Convention circa 1968-1973. There are elements of american psychedelia here – relcoating to San Francisco has clearly rubbed off on them in some ways.

Their catchprase, apparently, is ‘Let’s Get Weird.’ But it’s not in the telling way that it would like to be, but in more of an aspirational way that they don’t seem to quite reach. It’s fine, I just can’t fall in love with it, but I respect it. Sorta.

Nice meeting you, I guess. ‘Scuse me…


Sleepy Sun Website/Sleepy Sun Myspace

Sleepy Sun -‘White Dove.’

Embrace is out now on ATP Recordings.

The Eurythmics – in their defence


It’s very easy to slag the Eurythmics, and they got a hard time over lunch yesterday from certain quarters. ‘There Must be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)’ had Ken fae Aberfeldy groaning when it came on in the cafe where we were gathered. Mrs. 17 Seconds can’t stand the cover Annie Lennox put out a few months ago of Ash’s ‘Shining Light’ (it is quite bland, it must be said). I said I really hated ‘Right By your Side’ with its’ cod-calypso feel.

But then Mark and I said that this was the great lost Eurythmics single – ‘Beethoven.’ It made no.25 in about October 1987, with a video that mesmerised and terrified me as a ten year old boy. ‘There Must Be An Angel’ might seema little ‘beige’ but Beethoven is something else entirely…Taken from their 1987 album Savage, the one few remember, and which is better than many of the others…

And I swear, this is up there just below ‘Blue Monday’ ‘I Feel Love and ‘Good Times.’ According to legend, MTV America (in the days when they played music videos instead of Pimping my Crib or whatever it’s called) refused to show this video until they’d seen a birth certificate…

Eurythmics -‘Sweet Dreams.’

Finally, this was the very first video The Eurythmics made, for a song in 1981 called ‘Never gonna Cry Again.’ This is from an album called In The Garden. For those who think that the Eurythmics wouldn’t know hip and cool if it punched them in the face (you really have some anger issues, don’t you), not only was it produced by noted Krautrock producer Conny Plank, but it also featured Jaki Liebezeit of Can on drums and Holger Czukay, also of Can, on French horn. Yes, that’s Can, the violently cool Krautrock band. Watch the video when you’ve picked your jaws up from the floor, fashion nazis. I’m sure i remember reading an interview with dave Stewart when he said that the song was inspired by the bizarre event of a bomb going off in a club in Ireland and the two of them waking up to see that one of their singles was being held up on the front covers of the newspapers because it had been playing when the bomb went off. If anyone can substantiate this story, I’d love to know…

Album Review – The Prodigy


The Prodigy -‘Invaders Must Die.’ (Cooking Vinyl)

I’ve had a slightly difficult relationship with The Prodigy. Much of this is to do with my King Canute/Ostrich phase during the first half of the nineties where I was convinced that dance music was inferior to rock and indie. My loss. Gradually over time I fell for them, seduced by nights post school when ‘No Good’ kicked in and by the singles of ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Breathe’ (the latter which had a rock bassline! Like Joy Division!!) so that by the time of the release of third album The Fat Of The Land I had fallen hook line and sinker for them. Then over the next few years I was left disappointed by both the ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ single and the eventual follow up to Fat, Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned.

But just before Christmas, a free mp3 of ‘Invaders Must Die’ started circulating and I procked my ears up once more. It’s presented in a longer form here, but the Prodigy are back on form and how. They’ve regained their energy, updated their technology (I imagine) and lost none of their spirit and inventiveness that showed how they bridged the true spirit of both rave and punk.

Given that it’s now eighteen years since they debuted with the ‘What Evil Lurks’ they now seem to be back at the forefront of a reinvigorated dance scene. Students I teach have been, er, raving about them, and the sense is that they really are on top form here. From the moment the title track kicks in, this is an album for dancing to, for feeling uplifted and being reminded that like contemporaries the Chemical Brothers, they may have their roots in early nineties dance but they belong just as much in the present rather than simply being a throwback to the early nineties rave scene. Both ‘Warror’s Dance’ and ‘Omen’ have been big hits already, but like the aforementioned Chemicals, the Produgy were always good at putting toegether a proper album. The title track and ‘Thunder’ are two other standout tracks on what is an excellent album.

Good to have them back!


The Prodigy -‘Omen.’ mp3

(please note: Dear any DMCA creeps or Web Police/sherriff; the above mp3 is linked to from a legally recognised free site).

The Prodigy website/The Prodigy myspace

Prodigy – ‘Omen.’

Prodigy -‘Warrior’s Dance.’

Riffling through my 7″s #2


I don’t know about you, but i’m sick to death of celebrity culture. Sick of hearing about Jordan and Pete, Posh and Becks…I culd go on, but i can feel my blood pressure rising already…

Back in 1996, the Spice Girls came along. They were fun, if completely packaged. Then again, even the Fall employ (or employed) a stylist, and the Beatles didn’t choose to wear those Pierre Cardin suits themselves, so it was hardly new in the music business. Hell, the Spice girls even made the cover of the NME.

Not everyone was a fan. Including four girls from Reading, who obviously did have a clue about a) punk rock and b) what it means to be female. The Period Pains released one single ‘Spice Girls (Who Do you Think You Are?)’ which was played by John Peel and Steve Lamacq, reaching no.87 in the charts and no.4 in Peel’s Festive Fifty of that year. A five track EP entitled the BBC Sessions appeared in 1999, and that was yer lot. Singer Chloe Alper now plays with Pure Reason Revolution.

Period Pains -‘Spice Girls (Who do you think you are?’ mp3

Period Pains -‘Just 17.’ mp3

Period Pains -‘Heroes.’ mp3 (No, not the Bowie song)


Period Pains -‘Spice Girls (Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC Session version).’ mp3

Period Pains on Wikipedia

Riffling through my 7″s # 1


Imagined conversation…

The scene: A charity shop, somewhere in the British Isles. Staffed by helpful people, who are mostly, though not exclusively, over 65 and female. Two ladies are drinking tea. An unsuspecting male customer walks in. He is looking shifty, despite his attempts to look cool.

Male customer: (trying to get out of there as quickly as possible, he’s suddenly had a flashback to a Harry Enfield sketch) I’ve brought in some CDs I thought you might like…

Lady #1: Let’s see them, young man (Her smile is fixed, though her eyes have taken on a slightly demonic look)

Male customer: Well, I’m in a bit of a hurry…If I could just leave these here…

He turns round only to find that Lady #2 is standing right behind him.

Lady #2: I think you’ll find my friend told you to open your bag, young man. SOOPENTHEBLOODYBAG!

He does so. The two ladies look at each other in glee. The young man is so shocked, he falls flat on his back as they begin to cackle and sneer at him.

Lady #1: Bloody hell, it’s worse than when Maurice bought in all those ELO and Julio Iglesias LPs!

Lady #2: Isn’t it just! [She reaches into the bag, picks each one out with glee and starts throwing each one at the young man, who is cowering in fear now, as she reads out the names] Mr. Blooby! Bombalurina! Whigfield! Black Lace!

Lady #1: You little prat, didn’t you thinkwe were going to accept this crap, did you? We have taste too!

Lady #2: Stop a second, what the hell’s this? [She reaches into the bag] I knew there had to be some gold in here, it’s the Timelords

Lady #1 and #2: YESSS…

Male customer: Aw what? What the hell’s that doing there? I wasn’t giving that away…

He reaches for it, only to find his arm is being brought down to the ground sharpish.

Lady #1: Shan’t. Now get out of here and take your crap with you…

(fade to black)

It is a truth universally acknowleded, to paraphrase Jane Austen, that the only decent novelty record ever made was ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’ by The Timelords. This reached no.1 in the summer of 1988, for a week, only to be displaced by Bros’ ‘I Owe you Nothing.’ It was credited to Ford Timelord, Lord Rock and Time Boy. It sampled The Doctor Who theme, ‘Blockbuster’ by the Sweet, and built heavily upon ‘Rock’n’Roll Part 2, by erm, Gary Glitter. In those days his name wasn’t synonymous with the lowest of the low.

The Timelords, as anyone over thirty will know, was in reality Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummon of the KLF. Two men who would have several hits over the next few years, shaking up the music business in the process. They then retired from the music business, but not from bizarre stunts. Amongst these were awarding £40,000 to Rachel Whiteread for worse artist of the year, for the same piece that she’d just won the Turner prize for (a mere £20,000 prize). Whiteread also grumbled that she’d been blackmailed into accepting the £40,000 as they had said they would destroy the money otherwise.* They also burned what was left of their KLF earnings in 1994, which wound quite a few people up. I suspect in a week when Britain’s MPs have been getting hammered for claiming for all sorts of things from the taxpayer when the country’s in a deep recession this might not go down terribly well.

Still, they were arguably the most Situationist band in music, after Malcolm McLaren got his hands on the Sex Pistols.

Read about the Timelords on wikipedia and the KLF here

The Timelords -‘Doctorin’ The Tardis (Radio edit).’ mp3

The Timelords -‘Doctorin’ the Tardis (Minimal).’ mp3

As a few bonuses…I don’t own these rare as hen’s teeth tracks, but thanks to those men who do:

The KLF vs Extreme Noise Terror -‘3AM Eternal.’ mp3 (thanks to Steve for posting this)

The KLF -‘Kylie Said To Jason.’ mp3

The KLF presents the JAMMS -‘The Queen and I.’ mp3 (Thanks to JC for posting these)

* If anyone would like to blackmail me into accepting £40,000 that’s fine.

Presenting Julian Plenti


This is Julian Plenti. Looks familiar?

Well, he should do, it’s Paul Banks from Interpol. He has been playing solo sets under the name Julian Plenti for a while now, and willl release his first solo album in August, entitled Julian Plenti Is…Skyscraper. This will be released on Matador, naturally.

What the title means is anyone’s guess. A reference to ‘Mmm skycraper I love you’ by Underworld? Quite probably not. But on first listen it seems that after the -let’s be honest – disappointing third Interpol album Our Love To Admire, Mr. Banks has got his inspiration working again. Let’s hope as well as the whole album being this good that the band produce another album as good as Antics or even Turn On The Bright Lights.

Julian Plenti – ‘Fun That We have.’ mp3

Julian Plenti website

Album Review: Coldplay


Coldplay -‘LeftRightLeftRightLeft’ (free download)

Coldplay’s free download live album starts with the sound of the band bragging about their drug-fuelled orgies moments before they stagger onstage, the dwarve drug runners, the nymphos and the goat they sacrified to Satan, which from the sound of it they’re still covered in. It finished with them doing a thirty-second thrash metal version of ‘Yellow’ and the band collapsing into the drum-kit, as it ends in a shower of white noise and terrifying feedback not heard since Suicide’s ’23 Minutes Over Brussels.’

Of course it doesn’t, stupid. What were you expecting?

It’s probably fair to say that Coldplay are perhaps the band that really truly did become the next U2. From basic beginnings (and like U2, not sociologically humble ones), they toured like crazy, both in the UK, and more importantly, the US. Wheras it took U2 most of the eighties and five albums to get to the status of U2 that they’ve occupied, well, pretty much ever since, it took Coldplay three albums tops. Like U2, they got Brian Eno in to produce their fourth album. Like U2, it’s pretty much a given that each new release will go straight to no.1 in the UK, the US and well, anywhere really. They’re mega successful. No wonder some people hate them.

And sometimes I find people expect me to be one of them. That being a successful band means that you must therefore be despised by bloggers isn’t something that I think is fair. Obviously if you’re successful and rubbish, that’s not great, but it’s been like that long since before the arrival of the music business as we know it. The fact is, I bought Coldplay’s ‘Blue Room EP’ on 12″ single at the tail end of 1999, saw the band accelerate, and accelerate and not really stop since then. I’ve seen them live several times – the first two occasions at summer festivals in the summer of 2000 when they were on the bill in the middle of the afternoon. Subsequently they’ve been headlining enormo-gigs, not just in the UK but the US too, reaching the populace in a way that it might have been predicted that Blur, Oasis and Radiohead might do, but Coldplay actually did. Four massive selling-albums, a marriage to an A-list actress for the singer…but still some great tunes.

So Coldplay aren’t sonic innovators, and U2 and Radiohead have attempted to drag leftfield ideas into the mainstream, and I still wonder what another album with Brian Eno at the help will produce. But there is some difference between Parachutes and Viva La Vida, and it’s not just the matter of eight years. The sound has got bigger, and from X&Y there were always little subtleties.

As a live album, it’s fun and not a rehash of greatest hits (only three of the tracks on here were singles), and predictably heaviest on the last two albums. ‘Fix You’ and ‘Viva La Vida’ are massed singalongs, though ‘Clocks’ seems a little hesitant. The sound is good, and it seems like a genuinely live recording, though to what extent it’s been touched up it’s not necessarily possible for me to identify.

It’s not a classic live album, like Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous, but there are many worse ones out there I could name (The Cure’s Show, David Bowie’s David Live, probably one or two of The Fall’s many…), it’s probably comparable with…U2’s Under A Blood Red Sky. Which is where we came in, more or less. And it’s a free giveaway, so they can hardly be accused of being ‘rockist’ which they undoubtedly would if it were 1979 and not 2009…


Download for free at Coldplay’s official website

A Paul Haig rarity


I have JC over at the Vinyl Villain to thank for kindling an interest in me of Paul Haig’s work beyond Josef K. Paul Haig and his manager were also enormously supportive of the bloggers who focused on his work on April 6 of this year.

A week or so ago, I picked this up in Avalanche in Edinburgh, pretty reasonably, to get it home and disocver that a) it’s very good, and b) mint copies are going for quite scary money. The single isn’t listed in the great indie Discography Josef K/Paul Haig section, but I rather like it.

Credited to ‘Rhythm Of Life’, the sleeve lists just Stephen Harrison on voice, guitar and lyrics, and Paul Haig as ‘other instruments and voice.’ The Discogs site notes that ‘Recorded as a one off single for Rational Records (Rate 6) although in effect this was the first Rhythm Of Life release. Label descibed on the product as Rhythm Of Life Records – Rate/6 Rhythm 001.’

Anybody know anything more about this record? Released in March 1981, so must have been one of the first post-Josef K released Paul Haig was involved in…

Rhythm Of Life – ‘Soon.’ mp3

Rhythm Of Life -‘Summertime.’ mp3

Paul Haig’s official website/Paul Haig myspace