REM split: a reflection


Yes – I’m back. Not that I actually went away; but the blog was refusing to post pictures or links, which would have been kinda pointless.

Like many people, I’m kinda stunned by the news this evening that REM have called it a day. Now I’m going to be honest: I hadn’t been really blown away by an REM album in a while – possibly at least ten years. But Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills -and with drummer Bill Berry until 1996 were responsible for some excellent music. So many great tracks – singles and album cuts; and so many great albums. Most bands do well to produce a really coherent album in their career. REM made at least eight outstanding albums –Murmur, Life’s Rich Pageant, Document, Green, Out Of Time, Automatic For The People, Monster and New Adventures In Hifi. Even some of the weaker albums had awesome tracks ‘Driver 8’ ‘At My Most Beautiful’ ‘Discoverer’ ‘So. Central Rain…’

So…some videos for you:

Remember them this way

Getting ready for 2011 part 3: REM


REM will return with their 15th studio album (count ’em!) entitled Collapse Into Now on March 7.

It was produced by the band with Jacknife Lee, and features contributions from Patti Smith, Peaches and Lenny Kaye, amongst others.


The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Discoverer
2. All The Best
3. Ɯberlin
4. Oh My Heart
5. It Happened Today
6. Every Day Is Yours To Win
7. Mine Smell Like Honey
8. Walk It Back
9. Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter
10. That Someone Is You
11. Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I
12. Blue

Go here to download REM’s new song and album opener ‘Discoverer.’ (I’m not going to risk annoying Warners by posting the track directly, all they ask for is your email address, and you can always unsubscribe). The song remainds me of both ‘Finest Worksong’ and ‘What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?’

This is the lyric video (is that a posh way of saying Karaoke?):

William S. Burroughs – more rock’n’roll than most rock’n’rollers?


It’s funny, but my love of rock music over the last twenty years has also had an impact on films I watch and books I read. I knew I had to see and read A Clockwork Orange, so many bands referenced it. I fell in love with the Cure’s music at fourteen, and eventually read Albert Camus’ The Outsider (and maybe there was the hope that having read these books might make me seem a little artier -and maybe that might make me cooler. Some hope – but there was a time when NME was much more book and film orientated than it is now.) People like David Bowie not only convinced me that maybe I should persevere with Philip Glass’ music, but also referenced William Burroughs. Who of course collaborated with Kurt Cobain from Nirvana (who led to me discovering the Raincoats and the Vaselines -culture is not born in a vacuum).

I’m not an authority on William Burroughs -the only book of his I’ve read is The Naked Lunch (at university I read this back-to back with American Psycho and The Bell Jar; no wonder I thought I was going mad). A certain device in that book gave Steely Dan their name. Patti Smith name-checked him – just how cool was this guy?

So, fired up by a Primer of his recorded works in issue #300 of The Wire, I humbly present three Burroughs-related recordings from the 1990s.

First up, Kurt Cobain played noise guitar for this short story about a junky on Christmas Eve (listen carefully; the guitar references ‘Silent Night’ that most indie of Christmas Carols.’ It’s called the Priest They Called Him’ AKA ‘Quiet Waters.’

William S Burroughs and Kurt Cobain -‘Quiet Waters.’ mp3

He also collaborated with a band called Material, who I know next to nothing about, I’m afraid; this track comes from a free CD given away with Vox magazine fifteen (!) years ago:

Material with William S Burroughs -‘Words Of Advice.’ mp3

Finally, this song ‘Star Me Kitten’ was originally recorded for REM’s Automatic For The People album in 1992. This version with Burroughs appeared on the X-Files soundtrack in 1996 (the soundtrack to the TV series, not the soundtrack for the film in 1998):

REM feat William S Burroughs -‘Star Me Kitten.’ mp3

Burroughs’ last rock’n’ roll engagement, shortly before he died, was being in the video for U2’s single ‘The last Night On Earth’ which can be seen here with Sophie Dahl.

Should you want to hear more William S Burroughs’ work try here at the mighty UbuWeb.

Some Covers For Saturday Part II

Hi again

well, well and truly back in Scotland, it’s the weekend…so how about a few covers?

(And yes, that is Mrs 17 Seconds and I)

Pixies-‘Head On.’ mp3 (Jesus and Mary Chain)

X-‘Crystal Ship.’ mp3 (The Doors)

Sisters Of Mercy-‘Gimme Shelter.’ mp3 (Rolling Stones)

Residents-‘Satisfaction.’ mp3 (Rolling Stones)

Therapy?-‘Isolation.’ mp3 (Joy Division)

The The-‘I Saw The Light.’ mp3 (Hank Williams)

Marianne Faithfull-‘Working Class Hero.’ mp3 (John Lennon)

Ramones-‘Baby I Love You.’ mp3 (Ronettes)

REM-‘Toys In The Attic.’ mp3 (Aerosmith).

Veruca Salt -‘Somebody.’ mp3(Depeche Mode)

There is no theme here, just a selection of ten cover versions, only one of which (Sisters) I think I have posted here before. All being well, there should be another ten covers here on Sunday.

As always, these will be up for a week. If you like what you here, please go and investigate the bands and original artists themselves, perferably at your local indpendent 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