Christmas Posts 2013 part 2


It’s funny how you can end up being selective with stuff over time. And it’s probably just as well that we go for quality over quantity when it comes to remembering music from certain years. It’s much easier to remember 1994 as being the year of Suede’s Dog Man Star, and the arrival of drum’n’bass, trip-hop and brit-pop rather than that bloody ‘Love Is All Around’ by Wet Wet Wet. 1977 is now remembered (including by people like me who were only a matter of months old) for punk and disco, rather than Wings having the year’s biggest hit with ‘Mull Of Kintyre.’

And what of 1988? The second summer of love. Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Nirvana making their debut with ‘Love Buzz.’ So what was the biggest selling single of the year? Umm, ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ by Cliff Richard.

A few years back Idlewild did their own take on this -again, not commercially released, and did it much better.*

Idlewild ‘Mistletoe and Wine.’ mp3

*If you want to hear a decent Cliff Richard song from the last forty years, may I suggest ‘Devil Woman.’ My own father is a minister and he hated ‘The Millennium Prayer’ with a passion.

Album Review: Roddy Woomble


Roddy Woomble: ‘Listen To Keep’ (Reveal Records)

Sigh. I first heard Roddy Woomble’s music back in 1997. Ironically, I picked up the 7″ of ‘Queen Of The Troubled Teens’ expecting it to sound like a folky band because of the girl on the front cover wearing an outsized woolly jumper. I wasn’t expecting the record that I put on, memorably described by NME as ‘sounding like flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs.’ Anyway, I fell for Idlewild, saw them several times, rejoiced when they got big and felt aggrieved when they parted company with their record company around 2007.

And I was intrigued by his growth into folk, loved his debut solo album My Secret Is My Silence, and basically went and checked out the Incredible String Band because he said they were his favourite Scottish band. When he collaborated with Kris Drever and John McCusker for Before The Ruin.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? Look: I have really tried to like this album, and having been a fan for so many years, I feel almost like I am betraying him by saying this – but the reality is I don’t rate this album at all. It starts off ok, and then just descends into blandness.

The opening track ‘Making Myths’ is ok, but the thought that struck me as I neared my second playing was ‘this is like a poor version of Deacon Blue.’ God knows, the man has made some brilliant records over the years – and Mrs. 17 Seconds has long held up Idlewild at the Usher Hall in 2005 as one of the best gigs she ever went to. I’ll probably try and give this a few more listens, more out of loyalty than because I enjoy it. But even just typing this review makes me feel sad.

Listen To Keep is out now on Reveal Records.

Christmas Posts 2012 #2


I can honestly claim to have supported Idlewild from their first release, the 7″ ‘Queen Of The Troubled Teens.’ I picked it up out of curiosity in the record shop in Canterbury, Richard’s Records, where I spent much of my time (not to mention money) as a student when I was there. It was a sound so raucous that the NME famously declared it ‘the sound of a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs.’ Fast forward five years, the band were on their third album, signed to EMI (or a subsidiary thereof), having massive hits, making videos with Wim Wenders. And me? Well, I was working in a bookshop in Edinburgh, with none other than lead singer Roddy Woomble’s sister, as featured (uncredited) on the cover of that debut single.

This cover of Cliff Richard’s ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ is noisy by comparison to their later efforts and no doubt offensive to some. To me, it sounds bloody awesome!

Idlewild -‘Mistletoe and Wine.’ mp3

Christmas Posts 2011 #9


1988. A year of Acid House causing moral panic amongst the nation’s self-appointed moral guardians. UK Hip-Hop like Derek B, Cookie Crew and The Wee Papa Girl Rappers making it out of the clubs and into Smash Hits and Top Of The Pops. A massive 70th Birthday Concert at Wembley Stadium to honour Nelson Mandela, then still facing life imprisonment in South Africa for his entirely reasonable opposition to the Apartheid regime*.

However, Christmas seems to send people into conservative (note small ‘c’) mode and the biggest selling record of the year was Cliff Richard’s ‘Mistletoe and Wine.’ His first number one single since he had teamed up with the Young Ones on a re-working (for Charidee, obviously) of his old hit ‘Livin’ Doll’.

I have no idea to what extent Idlewild are followers of Cliff Richard, but they recorded this rather ace version of ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ for a radio session a couple of years ago.

Idlewild -‘Mistletoe and Wine.’ mp3

*BTW what the fuck was Eric Clapton doing there?

Christmas posts part 2


It’s a time for guilty pleasures, Christmas, isn’t it?

Of course, if you want to listen to Cliff Richard, then, quite frankly, that’s your affair. However, just as there were po-faced Pink Floyd fans who took the hump at the Scissor Sisters’ cover of ‘Comfortably Numb’ six or seven years ago there will doubtless be people that take the hump about this cover which is today’s Christmas tune. It was the Christmas no.1 in 1988, and in the year of the acid house revolution…the year’s best selling single.

Their loss, frankly. It’s still christmassy here -for which read: edinburgh and the surrounding areas are covered by a blanket of snow and getting to and from work has been an interesting exercise, involving a lot of patience and goodwill from complete strangers…

Idlewild -‘Mistletoe and Wine.’ mp3

Gig review: Idlewild/Twilight Sad/Broken Records

Gig review: Idlewild/Twilight Sad/Broken Records

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, November 3, 2007

Great scottish acts I have seen on the bill together: Franz Ferdinand, Dogs Die In Hot Cars and Sons & Daughters at York Fibbers in October 2003. Fire Engines, Sons & Daughters and Aberfeldy at Edinburgh Liquid Rooms in December 2004. Aberfeldy, King Creosote and My Latest Novel at Edinburgh St. Bride’s Centre in April 2005…amongst many…and now this.

My first reaction, when Mrs. 17 Seconds and I arrive at Edinburgh’s Queen Hall, is ‘does no-one tell me anything? I knew that the Twilight Sad were supporting (hotly-tipped, mentioned on this blog, but as yet, unseen by me) but Broken Records, last seen supporting Emma Pollock at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire are here too? Just as well I rushed my long-suffering wife out of the house in time for the doors to open.

Seven piece Broken Records modestly describe themselves as ‘just a local, edinburgh band’ (just?! what do they think idlewild are, then?) but if they aren’t signed soon then something is wrong with this picture. Songs like ‘If the News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It’ and set closer ‘Slow Parade’ are songs that need to be heard. They take the passion of the Waterboys, and by mixing drones and good knows what else into it, make folk music for the 21st century. Despite seeming a little shy after their set when I approach them, this is serious music alchemy at work here. They are happy for me to post their songs on here and Mrs. 17 Seconds is already saying she wants to see them again. So do I. the singer’s voice is comparable to Jeff Buckley, not just in tone and quality, but in range, too. They deservedly win the audience over by the end of their all-too-brief set.

Glasgow’s Twilight Sad have set ears, minds and pulses racing with their debut album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters. This album should do well in the end of year polls, and not just in Scotland either. Live they make a glorious wave of noise to lose yourself in, and if titles like second song ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy’ might seem unwieldy on paper, they are a joy live and I am not disappointed. looking at my notes, I appear to have put down the comment ‘like mogwai, if singing were involved.’ * Joined by Alan and Rod from idlewild for the last couple of songs, the coverage that has been awarded them is deserved, and should continue to grow.

It’s now over ten years since I picked up Idlewild’s debut single ‘Queen Of the Troubled Teens.’ Now going for a fortune on 7″ (well, about £50/$100) the band have developed and grown over the years, even with a few line-up changes along the way. By the time they go into ‘You Held The World In Your Arms’ -as their second song-the crowd is going mental. Mrs. 17 Seconds has long held the gig that I took her to for her birthday in 2005 as one of her favourites (supported by Sons & Daughters and Foxface -another great scottish lineup. This is closely followed by ‘When I Argue I See Shapes’ and ‘No Emotion’ from their most recent album, Make Another World. This might not have been the commercial success that The Remote Part was, but this is no reflection on Idlewild themselves. And as Roddy notes, ‘It sold a lot of copies in Edinburgh.’ ‘Course it did, boys, we still see you as one of ours.

Although this is Idlewild’s greatest hits tour, it should be no surprise to anyone just how many hits they have had over the last ten years, which also took them onto TOTP (how long til that returns?). ‘Little discourage’ (still my favourite)’American English’ ‘Love Speeds Us From Loneliness’ ‘I am a message’ ‘Everyone Thinks That You’re So Fragile.’ all of them still magical. They bring on close friend of the band Gavin Fox for vocals on ‘El Capitan.’

Alas, this song is not completed as the venue is evacuated due to a fire alarm. all credit to Idlewild, though; as soon as the fire brigade have given the all-clear, they’re back on stage, and the magic means that the pace is not spoiled at all and the magic is recaptured (apart from the two ______s who then sat next to Mrs. 17 Seconds and talked throughout the rest of the gig. Guys, that’s what the pub’s for). ‘Roseability’ and ‘A Modern Way Of Letting Go’ remind us just how diverse the singles were in musical styles, not just the albums. They don’t go off for the encore, but stay on, playing ‘Quee Of the Troubled Teens’ (the only time I’ve ever heard them do it), bringing the Twilight Sad back for a gloriously ramshackle version of The ramones’ ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ and finish with ‘The Remote Part.’Even without Edwyn Morgan’s lines, this still gives you a shiver just thinking about it.

So another classic scots indie night out. A band still at the height of their creative powers, with two great acts following in their wake supporting. I was there, were you?

Idlewild -‘No Emotion.’ mp3 (from Make Another World, 2007) (via Yousendit)

Idlewild -‘El Capitan.’ mp3 (from Warnings/Promises, 2005) (Via Yousendit)

Idlewild -‘Satan Polaroid.’ mp3 (from Captain, mini-album, 1998) (Via Yousendit)

Idlewild’s official site is here

* yes, I am aware that there are human voices on Mogwai songs like ‘Dial:Revenge’ and ‘A Cheery Wave To Stranded Youngsters.’ You are very clever. Well done. They are largely instrumental, aren’t they, though? yes??

Some Covers For Monday II

Hell, now that maybe one or two more people are reading this blog, a few more covers I thought I’d repost:

Foo Fighters -‘Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty cover).’ mp3

Placebo -‘Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

Futureheads -‘Let’s Dance (David Bowie cover).’ mp3

The Raincoats -‘Lola (The Kinks cover).’ mp3

Sonic Youth -‘ Superstar (The Carpenters cover).’ mp3

Idlewild -‘I Found That Essence Rare (Gang Of Four cover).’ mp3

Ian Brown -‘Billie Jean (Michael Jackson cover).’ mp3

And one I haven’t posted before…

The Fall -‘A Day In The Life (The Beatles cover).’ mp3

Enjoy. And as always, if you like what you hear, support the artists through your local independent record shop.

A Great, Lost Single #8

Idlewild -‘Queen Of the Troubled Teens.’ (Human Condition Records, March 1997)

From little acorns…This was Idlewild‘s very first single. Raw as anything, the sheer joy of this single remains ten years later, as well as an amazement of how much they would develop over the years. The lineup for this single was Roddy Woomble on vocals (sounding very American here!), Rod Jones on guitar, Phil Scanlon on bass and Colin Newton on drums. Roddy’s sister Kirsty is the girl on the front cover, though she isn’t credited.

Of course, as the years would pass they would get magazine covers, Top of the Pops appearances, sign to an EMI subsidiary (since left!) and Roddy would make a folk album. And Wim Wenders would direct the video for their 2002 single ‘Live In A Hiding Place’.

This single has long since been unavailable and rumours of it changing hands for £50 are true (not me, I bought it not long after it came out!) It comes up on ebay occasionally, so good luck hunting. In the meantime though, here are the three ssongs from the single:

Idlewild -‘Queen Of The Troubled Teens.’ mp3

Idlewild -‘Faster.’ mp3(NB Not the Manic Street Preachers song!)

Idlewild -‘Self-Healer.’ mp3

Seven Covers For Sunday

Here, rather like it suggests on the tin, are seven covers for Sunday. I am now only six days away from my wedding to the wonderful soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds, so there may not be as many posts as I run around trying to sort out yet another thing.

One thing there will be is the very first 17 Seconds interview, with Swimmer One. Hopefully up here tomorrow…

Hell Is For Heroes-‘Boys Don’t Cry (Cure cover).’ mp3

Idlewild-‘Everything Flows (Teenage Fanclub cover).’ mp3

Placebo-‘Bigmouth Strikes Again (Smiths cover).’ mp3

Katzenjammers-‘Cars (Gary numan cover).’ mp3

Flying Saucer Attack-‘Outdoor Miner (Wire cover).’ mp3

Sonic Youth-‘Into The Groove(y)(Madonna cover).’ mp3

Nirvana-‘Molly’s Lips (Vaselines cover).’ mp3

OK, you know the drill…these mp3s will be up for one week only. If you like what you hear, support the artists involved, preferably through an independent record shop.

Some Covers For Friday

Now that I have finally got the hang of how to get stuff from CD converted into mp3 (like everything; easy WHEN you know how!), I thought I would delve through my CD singles (I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of any more, even though I don’t play them very often) and post some covers. In the world of the mp3 blogs it seems that people often stick covers up on the weekend. Well, no time like the present.

Please note: all the singles I refer to here are the UK releases. If iTunes cannot help you, try ebay

This track was originally on the ‘Carnival’ single in 1995. Whilst some of their later releases could be rockier, does anyone else think The Cardigans sounded quite ‘twee’ circa the Life album? Check that name for starters. Though not many twee indiepop bands tended to cover Ozzy Osbourne. As far as I know.

Cardigans – ‘Mr. Crowley (Ozzy Osbourne cover).’ mp3

This track was originally recorded for the Leonard Cohen tribute album I’m Your Fan (ouch!), and also turned up on the CD single to ‘Drive’ in 1992.

REM -‘First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen cover).’ mp3

This track was on the ‘Kowalski’ single in 1997, a cover of the track from the Clash’s Combat Rock album.

Primal Scream -‘Know Your Rights (Clash cover).’ mp3

I cannot say I was ever a huge Robert Palmer fan, and the album this song originally was on, Clues, did little to alter that. This track, though, is a classic and was used for numerous years to advertise Vauxhall cars in the UK (Opel to any any European readers). Placebo’s cover appeared on one of the CD singles of ‘Taste In Men.’

Placebo -‘Johnny And Mary (Robert Palmer cover).’ mp3

John Lennon’s anti-war activities unnerved Richard Nixon. Rather like upsetting the Daily Mail (a UK newspaper that is just poison on paper and reminds you of the downsides of free speech) this is probably A GOOD THING. This cover, by Mercury Rev, appeared on the re-issue of ‘Goddess on A Hiway’ in 1999.

Mercury Rev-‘I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier (John Lennon cover).’ mp3

I was really tempted to post Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Hurt,’ because it is so good, but then it occured to me that the song has been posted a hell of a lot. So, why not post his cover of Glen Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman,’ which was recorded for American IV: The Man Comes Around, but is only on the vinyl version of the album and the ‘Hurt/Personal Jesus’ CD single.

Johnny Cash -‘Wichita Lineman (Glen Campbell cover).’ mp3

Gang Of Four’s Entertainment! has really come back into vogue with all those bands showing ‘post-punk’ influences. Apparently not a single, but this was covered by Idlewild on their ‘Live In A Hiding Place’ single.

Idlewild -‘I Found That Essence Rare (Gang Of Four cover).’ mp3

Michael Jackson, whatever the problems he has had (and I really can’t be bothered to go into it all here), has been responsible for some fantastic music. Ian Brown is a man who knows this, and told us via his ‘Dolphins Were Monkeys’ single.

Ian Brown -‘Dolphins Were Monkeys (Michael Jackson cover).’ mp3

One of my claims to fame is that in 1991, I was in the audience at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party when Philip Schofield took the mick out of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine for their name – and guitarist Fruitbat decked him. On Live Television. Considering what a ‘family-orientated’ show it was (Salt ‘n’ Pepa couldn’t perform
‘ Let’s Talk About Sex’ because it mentioned sex, and performed a far inferior tune instead), Carter were performing ‘After The Watershed,’ which dealt with the issue of child abuse. The single contained their cover of the Inspiral Carpets ‘This Is How It Feels’, and my brother and I have always felt it superior. My brother recently got the chance to meet Jim Bob, the other Carter guy, who is by all accounts, a thoroughly decent bloke.

Carter USM -‘This Is How It Feels (Inspiral Carpets cover).’ mp3

Teenage Fanclub. A legendary Scottish band who covered a Bevis Frond song and according to Nick Salmond of the Frond, earned him more money than anything else. BMX Bandits. A legendary Scottish band who covered a Teenage Fanclub song which featured a Kylie lookalike in the video. Singer Duglas T. Stewart once (*allegedly) tried to copy the K Foundation by burning all the profits from his career on the radio. Predictably, the 50p piece failed to catch alight.

BMX Bandits -‘Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us (Teenage Fanclub cover).’ mp3

OK, you should know the drill by now. These covers will be up here for one week only. If you like them, support the artists involved, and with covers, make sure you also investigate the original if you haven’t already.

Have a good one, Ed x