Love Your Libraries Day


Today is Love Your Libraries Day or National Libraries Day in the UK.

I feel pretty strongly about this for several reasons: I would maintain that reading is perhaps the most fun you can have by yourself, music helped open me up to reading even more, and I work for Library Services.

Amongst two events I’ve been responsible for helping organise today are events just outside Edinburgh: the appearance of Comedians Frankie Boyle and Miles Jupp at Dalkeith Library (which lead to this rather cool article in the local paper) and two 17 Seconds Records bands playing at Penicuik Library – The Last Battle and Matt Norris and the Moon.

So today is a music and book-related special here on 17 Seconds.

My favourite band, The Cure not only gave their name to this blog and the label (the title of their 1980 album is Seventeen Seconds, do keep up), but they also took inspiration from literature. Their debut 1978 single, ‘Killing An Arab’ is not a racist rant, but is instead inspired by Albert Camus’ existentialist classic The Outsider (L’etranger in the original French, for those of you who like your despair to be even cooler). Not surprisingly, they did have problems with the title and idiots who misinterpreted it – interestingly on their most recent live album the title has now been changed to ‘Killing Another.’ Sadly, possibly rather wise…

The Cure -‘Killing An Arab.’ mp3

The deliciously haunting children’s book ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ by Penelope Farmer gave the inspiration -and indeed most of the words for the Cure’s 1981 single ‘Charlotte Sometimes.’ A fine book and single – the hair on my arms is literally standing on end just thinking about it, the single was a minor hit, but a firm favourite amongst Cure fans, and also inspired two other Cure songs ‘Splintered In Her Head’ (b-side to ‘Charlotte’) and according to Wiki, ‘the Empty World’ from 1984’s The Top album.

The Cure -‘Charlotte Sometimes.’ mp3

It wasn’t just Camus who was essential reading of choice for the raincoat brigade. Both The Fall and Josef K took their names from Franz Kafka’s books: in the case of The Fall, this is one of his novels, and Josef K. is the main protagonist in The Trial.

The Fall -‘Spoilt Victorian Child.’ mp3

Josef K -‘Endless Soul.’ mp3

Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis was an avid reader and film-watcher, the opening track on the bands’ sophomore (and sadly, final) album Closer takes its’ name from J.G. Ballard’s book Atrocity Exhibition (though according to Wiki, he only read the book after writing most of the lyrics).

Joy Division -‘Atrocity Exhibition.’ mp3

This could, of course, go on and on as a list: William S. Burroughs got an entire post of his own on this blog several years ago: Soft Machine took their name from one of his novels while Steely Dan got their name from Steely Dan III from Yokohama -a strap-on dildo referenced in The Naked Lunch.

Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ takes its name from the Emily Bronte novel, whilst ‘Infant Kiss’ is (ultimately) influenced by The Turn Of The Screw and ‘Cloudbusting’ as inspired by Peter Reich’s autobiography Book of Dreams, about his relationship with his father, Wilhelm Reich.

So, let’s sign off here – with these two tracks:

Belle & Sebastian -‘Put the Book Back On the Shelf.’ mp3

Echo and the Bunnymen -‘Read It In Books.’ mp3

Paul Haig Day II


I’m proud to be taking part in Paul Haig Day II, wherein we pay tribute to one of the most talented singers and musicians ever to emerge out of Scotland.

Paul Haig was the lead singer in Josef K, the seminal Edinburgh band, who were at the forefront of Scotland’s post-punk scene, along with bands like the Scars, the Fire Engines, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and most famous of all, the Associates, featuring Paul’s best friend, the late Billy Mackenzie. When Josef K split in 1981, the band’s guitarist Malcolm Ross joined Orange Juice. It was that sort of scene.

Paul Haig has had a fine solo career subsequently, and the last decade saw Josef K start to get their dues as Franz Ferdiannd, probably the most important Scottish band of the decade, paid tribute to them (and indeed the Fire Engines). The sleeve notes to the fine Entomology compilation album pay tribute to Franz Ferdinand ‘without whom this release may never have seen the light of day.’

In March 2009, my friend JC, who writes The Vinyl Villain (who single-handedly has got me into Mr. Haig’s solo career) found himself the subject of a DMCA take-down post. Both Paul and his manager Euan got in touch with Jim to say they were bemused by this, as they had not asked for a takedown. In fact, Paul was totally up for bloggers to make tracks of his available for download. So April 6 2009 became the first Paul Haig day, and because of the success of this, JC has repeated this and made today Paul Haig Day II. no less than thirty five blogs are taking part.

In the time between, Paul has released another fine solo album , entitled Relive and I was dead chuffed to be the first person to interview him about the album (this was according to the man himself. It was chance rather than design, but pretty cool, nonetheless). He’s a very friendly person in the flesh and a pleasure to chat to.You can read the review of the album here, the interview here and my review for Go Out Tonight over at Is This Music?

So…some mp3s, then!

First up, the opening track on his most recent album:

Paul Haig -‘Trip Out the Rider.’ mp3

An remix of the track being made available through bloggers this week:

Paul Haig -‘Trip Out the Rider (remix).’ mp3

and a Josef K classic:

Josef K -‘Sorry For Laughing.’ mp3

Getting ready for Paul Haig day on the blogs


I have maintained many times before that for most people the internet is how people find out about bands and that just because people might download a track for free it doesn not mean they won’t support the artist.

Now there have been some people who have been idiotic about this but fortunately most people see sense. However, my friend JC who writes one of my favourite blogs, The Vinyl Villain, got targeted by an ISP even though Paul Haig and his manager were happy for JC to host the track.

So Monday April 6 is Paul Haig day across the blogs.


Basic premise: Blogs being targetted randomly by ISP’s to take down music where artists are happy about receiving the extra coverage. Paul Haig gave a free track ‘Reason’ to the vinyl villain to give away in support of the bloggers network and to test his theory abut random notices being served.

In thanks the bloggers have agreed to make April 6 Paul Haig Day. As many bloggers will make ‘Reason’ available on their blogs as possible.

Blogs are essential promo tools for all artists as music comes recommended.

Most artists express the view that as many people should be able to hear their music as possible by whatever means. The fan will then go to a concert or buy back catalogue get the vinyl or even the new cd. The Internet is just like radio was 20 years ago…kind of!

If you have a great track the best method of getting it heard is over the net – where word is spread by the real music fans – Hearing new music is based on recommendation not by mass advertising budgets….unless you are U2, blogs or free music on the net is got to be the future…

Evan Label Manager ROLinc

JC (who is a personal friend) writes:

“If you go stumbling around music blogs on the Internet on Monday 6th April, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll find someone saying good things about Paul Haig, arguably the greatest pop star to ever have come out of Edinburgh.

So far, some 25 bloggers have decided that next Monday should be designated ‘Paul Haig Day’ and will be featuring posts about the musician whose career goes back almost 30 years to the days when Postcard Records were The Sound of Young Scotland.

This sudden upsurge of interest in the former Josef K lead singer is no accident, and is the result of a number of music fans, not all of whom know much about Paul Haig, wanting to thank him for taking a stand and encouraging bloggers to keep on doing what they do.

Bloggers have come under increasing attack in recent times, thanks to many in the music industry using the draconian measures of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), an American piece of legislation signed by President Clinton in 1998 which insists that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must remove material that appears to constitute copyright infringment.

So, if a music industry lawyer discovers a blogger has posted an mp3 of a song without permission, they can contact the ISP, claim they represent the individual or organisation with the copyright and demand the offending material be removed. Fair enough you might say…

But, the law is such that anyone can use DMCA to demand a takedown without having to prove that they have ownership of the copyright, and the ISP have no option but to comply – it has even been proven that where musicians have expressly given support for their song to be highlighted on a blog, an anoymous DMCA request has seen the mp3 removed.

Such was the case last month when ‘The Vinyl Villain’ blog, one that has been running since September 2006 and almost exclusively looks back to music of the 80s and 90s, featured ‘Blue For You’, one of the early solo singles by Paul Haig. The blogger had been in touch with the singer who didn’t object at all to featuring the song and was given a few words by Paul Haig to add to the story behind its recording in Edinburgh back in 1982.

Within 48 hours of publication, the piece was removed by the ISP, although no-one associated with the copyright had made such a request.

In response, Paul Haig immediately decided to make his 2007 single ‘Reason’ available through ‘The Vinyl Villain’ blog on the basis that music fans who downloaded the song and decided that they liked it were more than likely to subsequently purchase a copy. So far, after just more than a week, no-one has asked the ISP to remove the mp3….

JC is the blogger who runs ‘The Vinyl Villain’, and he said:-

“I was shocked when the DMCA was served on ‘Blue For You’ and I did think about closing down ‘The Vinyl Villain’ altogether wondering if the hours spent working on it were worth it. But the quick response from Paul and his mangement and the offer of a further song made me realise that there are some musicians out there who value what I and many thousands of others do every day. Blogging isn’t about piracy or making music available for free – it’s more to do with writing about singers and bands we love in the hope that more people will become fans.

I get about 700 hits a day on the blog from all over the world, and quite a number of readers got in touch to say how much they appreciated the support given by Paul to The Vinyl Villain, and the idea of Paul Haig Day emerged from that. So, on 6th April, I’ll be putting up another posting about Paul Haig on the blog, and there’s at least another 25 or so fellow bloggers going to do the same.

The thing I find most pleasing about it is that up until all this dmca nonsense, some of the bloggers knew next to nothing about Paul Haig and don’t have any of his records in their collections, but they’re still going to put some words together and post an mp3 on their blog. It’ll be interesting to see if any of us are served dmca notices.”

Bloggers in Australia, Canada, Germany and America, as well as from across the UK have agreed to take part in Paul Haig Day.

Details can be found at


So let’s give as much support as we can. Because anyone who can hide behind the anonymity of a lawsuit is somebody that is motivated by malice, and the world doesn’t need people like that. As someone who runs a small record company I am flattered when people write about my artists. The DMCA takedown notices are misguided at best, downright sinister at worse. Anyone who seriously believes that mp3 blogs are damaging artists’ livelihoods needs their heads examining. Because they didn’t, they don’t and they won’t. FACT. What is far more damaging is a music industry overrun by lawyers and other shady folks who have no interest in the music or the artist but purely exploiting others to get rich. The internet is socialism in action, and long may it continue.

I think it’s time for a new copyright act to be put in place. Because chasing after bloggers is quite obscene and ridiculous. As mad as if radio pluggers were ordered not to support a band, press officers telling people not to write about them, and people threatened for listening to them.


and support JC, obviously…

Here’s a Josef K classic from 1981:

Josef K -‘Endless Soul.’ mp3

Scots indie! Part 2

The Vaselines

Just a quick post, but felt like posting some classic eighties scottish indie.

From Perhaps, which may be the most underrated scottish record of the eighties.

Associates -‘Breakfast 12″.’ mp3

The Fire Engines were a big influence on many scots bands, perhaps most notably Franz Ferdinand. I will post the split single that both bands did here at some point…

Fire Engines -‘Candyskin.’ mp3

OK so Psychocandy is the definitive scottish record of the eighties, but let’s not forget that there were some fantastic records afterwards too.

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘April Skies.’ mp3

I’ve posted this before, but it had to be part of this post. Just sheer class. Post-punk meets indie. Oh yes, oh yay…

Josef K -‘Sorry For Laughing.’ mp3

Their second single on the legendary Postcard label, and my favourite song of Edwyn Collins’ ultra-cool scottish heroes.

Orange Juice -‘Blue Boy.’ mp3

Later covered by Teenage Fanclub, the Pastels, still going in 2007, are fantastic. I met Stephen Pastel earlier this year, the most down to earth and shy musician I have ever met.

The Pastels -‘Nothing To Be Done.’ mp3

A huge influence on Nirvana, who covered this and two of their other songs, the Vaselines might well be Scotland’s answer to the Velvet Underground.
The Vaselines -‘Son Of A Gun.’ mp3

If you like these tracks, seek ’em out, goddamit!

Aaargh…when do the holidays start, again?.

Increasingly FED UP WITH UNDER 18s.

They laugh and find getting a bollocking funny

Josef K -‘Sorry For Laughing.’ mp3

They make out you’re trying to get them…funny, why does it feel like it’s the other way round?

Black Box Recorder -‘The School Song.’ mp3

Then, when you try and educate them about things that might affect them and show them a film about nuclear war they start greetin’*. Maybe I should have used this instead…

Scars -‘Your attention Please.’ mp3

Amazing, they all think they’re so hard, and yet…

I may not have become my parents –yet – but I’ve already become one of my teachers.

* Greetin’ is scots slang for crying

Sorry for laughing

There are all sorts of signs that you’re getting older, ‘senior moments’ as they are now dubbed. As well as forgetting things, the other sign is that you hear youself sounding like your parents, or even your own teachers. Like a few kids I blew up for laughing today. Hey. I’ve waited a long time to find a way of dealing with the pent-up bitterness that builds up as youthful idealism turns sour. ‘Here’s a man who was hung on the expectation of plenty,’ as the Porter observes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Anyway, Josef K have put out an album called Entomology, which ties up their back catalogue (2004 Scritti Politti, 2005 Orange Juice, 2006 Josef K…who’s next for 2007 from the original mighty post-punkers? Fire Engines or Scars, I would hope.). This is slightly different from the version that poped up on Rough Trade ‘s Indie-Pop 1 compilation a couple of years back, with a slightly ‘dub’ feel.

That’s courtesy of the Domino record company’s US site (yup, legal!), where I also picked up this rather fantastic remix of the Junior Boys‘ The Equalizer, remixed by Morgan Geist

As always, if you like what you hear, even if these are legal downloads sourced from a site, please support the artists involved, either by buying from Amazon or from iTunes or from your local independent shop.