Does there have to be a reason?

It was only when I grew up (well, sort of) and realised that actually: most people had pretty rubbish teenage years.

Mine were well-soundtracked, though. I saw Perks Of Being A Wallflower a while back and wished this film had been made twenty years previously (much as I wish ‘Misshapes’ by Pulp had come out five years previously).

Tonight’s song is ‘Asleep’ by The Smiths, one of their most beautiful and possibly the song they have ever recorded. The video uses footage from the aforementioned film.


“Sing me to sleep
Sing me to sleep
I’m tired and I
I want to go to bed

Sing me to sleep
Sing me to sleep
And then leave me alone
Don’t try to wake me in the morning
‘Cause I will be gone
Don’t feel bad for me
I want you to know
Deep in the cell of my heart
I will feel so glad to go

Sing me to sleep
Sing me to sleep
I don’t want to wake up
On my own anymore

Sing to me
Sing to me
I don’t want to wake up
On my own anymore

Don’t feel bad for me
I want you to know
Deep in the cell of my heart
I really want to go

There is another world
There is a better world
Well, there must be
Well, there must be
Well, there must be
Well, there must be

Bye bye
Bye bye

Thirty years?? Strange, but true


Really quite surprised to realise that it is now thirty years since the Smiths released their first two singles ‘hand In Glove’ and ‘This Charming Man.’

They may only have had a recording career of four years but they were astoundingly prolific in that time. It probably doesn’t matter now, but I think ‘…Man’ is the stronger of the two singles for a debut. It did bring them into the charts, though, and though this wasn’t an official video (they didn’t do those for all their singles), the filmed clip for The Tube is pretty classic.

…and I’d still like to learn how to play that riff on the guitar.

Heresy or Heroism?


‘Irk the purists! Irk the purists!’ sang Half Man Half Biscuit on their track of the same name, on the Trouble Over Bridgwater LP.

Most bands have their obsessive devotees. Even now, I’m sure if you ahve too much time on your hands you could probably find someone who will insist that Menswe@r were genbiuses who were misunderstood by the media. Then you get the pretty well excellent bands, like The Smiths and Radiohead, whose devotees can still take things a bit far.

Like this mash-up, for example. This track has divided the internet, mixing the vocal from The Smiths’ 1983 hit ‘This Charming Man’ with tyhe backing from Lana Del Rey’s hit from the end of last year ‘Video Games.’ It’s been put together by Gavin Burrell from Manchester, who goes under the name The Reborn Identity (and more of his mashups can be streamed and downloaded here at his Soundcloud page

Not only that, but there’s also been a mash-up video made. I think both mashup track and video are excellent, even as a Smiths fan (and to a lesser extent, a fan of some of Del Rey’s songs).

The Smiths vs Lana Del Rey – This Charming Video Game (mashup) from Reborn Identity on Vimeo.

What do you think? Heresy? Genius? Is it just another mash-up? Another Stroke Of Genius? Or is there a reason why it’s called ‘Bastard Pop’ in Germany?

Just for the record, this was one of the earliest mash-ups many people heard in 2001. Richard X going under the name ‘Girls On Top’ (oo-er missus, etc..)

…which for the record became a bona-fide hit the following year, and was one of the best tracks of 2002.

Thank you for these, John


Seven years since John Peel died (as I pointed out yesterday).

A handful of tracks from acts that he championed. If you like them, do go and investigate further.

His favourite band…my favourite place to live:

The Fall -‘Edinburgh Man.’ mp3

There was stuff before Punk, y’know…

Led Zeppelin -‘Whole Lotta Love.’ mp3

He knew that there was stuff further than just England…

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Upside Down.’ mp3

Stuff from further afield than Europe and America:

Bhundu Boys -‘My Foolish Heart.’ mp3

Bob Marley & The Wailers -‘Waiting In Vain.’ mp3

Some stuff shoulda had a much wider profile:

Matching Mole -‘O Caroline.’ mp3

Some utter classics:

The Smiths -‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.’ mp3

…later covered in radical style:

Schneider TM -‘The Light 3000.’ mp3

He certainly knew that it wasn’t just about guitars:

Aphex Twin-‘Girl/Boy Song.’ mp3

…and I don’t think anymore needs to be said about this, other than…ENJOY:

The Undertones -‘Teenage Kicks.’ mp3

What was it about Peel? This was my contribution to Fresh Air’s special:

To me, John Peel was the radio DJ that all others were measured by. His sense of humour and passion for music – ‘I just want to hear something I haven’t heard before’ was infectious. Right up to the day he died, here was a man who cared about music.

The list of bands he championed from early beginnings who went on to have a massive impact – even if only for a while – is very long but would include artists as diverse as Led Zeppelin, Kelis, Captain Beefheart, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Nirvana, The Cure, White Stripes, Happy Mondays, Queen, PJ Harvey, David Bowie…He took flack from the far right for playing reggae. He played the Sex Pistols when no-one else would touch them. He championed styles from Prog-rock to Dubstep to ‘world’; happy hardcore to folk to death metal. As a teenager I would listen under the bedclothes trying to stay awake until the end of the show (in 1992, if you missed a radio show, that was it, there was nowhere to go to listen again, unless someone happened to have taped it).

I’ve only done a handful of shows on the radio but when people say to me that they can hear the Peel influence, I’m flattered. It is not over-exaggerating to say that without John Peel the musical landscape of the last forty years in the UK (and indeed further afield) would have been vastly different were it not for him, and all the poorer for it.
I missed the night he read my name out on there, but fortunately by this stage the internet had come along).

If I’d ever been in a band that had got beyond the gigging and demo stage, given the choice between a Peel session and Top Of The Pops I would have chosen the Peel session.

Would I have been begging him to play 17 Seconds Records’ acts on his show? D’uh!

33 1/3 Part 12


The Smiths -‘The Queen Is Dead’ (Rough Trade, 1986)

Looking back at the other posts I have done in this series, the thought occurs: however bloody awful my life may have felt at this point (and a boarding school is not a place where people are expected to share feelings, it’s not British don’tchewknow), I was discovering music that was new to me at a fast rate around around the early years of the nineties.

This album was leant to me by another student in my year at school, who was also showing extremely precocious growth towards learning about indie music. He claimed to have spent £36 on a vinyl copy of The Cramps’ Bad Music For Bad People, backwhenthirtysixpoundswasalotofmoneytospendonarecordicantellyou. Actually, Nick – dubbed the little Irish Pixie by the RE teacher for some reason (he actually came from near Newcastle, I think), loaned me quite a few Smiths albums. This was the one that stuck out, and I greedily tapped as much of their stuff as I could. Given that Rough Trade was just about to collapse, leaving the albums only available on import for several years, this was actually a wise move on my part. Morrissey’s solo albums never seemed to go out of print, but his seminal work with his old band could be hard to get hold of original copies, unless you wanted those bloody Best I and II compilations.

This album made a huge impression right from the opening chorus of ‘Take me Back to Dear Old Blighty’ before it storms into the title track. In fact, I think I told Nick it was the greatest album ever made, after Never Mind The Bollocks. Depressed as I was getting, there was a huge amount of humour in the record, ‘Vicar In A Tutu’ ‘Frankly Mr. Shankley’ ‘Some girls are bigger than others…’

Then again, there were the darker moments: ‘I Never Had No-one Ever’ ‘I Know It’s Over’ which matched my mood. Like so many before me, and indeed after me, Morrissey seemed to know how I felt (and I really thought he was the only one who did). It wasn’t just lyrically, of course, the album’s just phenomenal musically too: JOhnny Marr is amazing, and Mike Joyce is clearly having the time of his life on the title track and ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again.’

The standout track, though, was and is ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.’ This sad ode oddly evoked for me a story I’d read sometime in an RE textbook, about a conversation in a car between an Irish preist and a young jamaican lad in Liverpool. the latter was about to lose his Mum, and I sorta connected the story with that. It was nothing to do with it, of course. Several years later the track was on the car stereo on a school trip that four of us were on, ostensibly to do with our A-Levels (actually we did go to the Lectures we were meant to in Sheffield, we were also in the oub at lunchtime when we were underage, and I certainly looked it!). Another Nick was driving – and we nearly did collide with a ten track – listen to the song, if you don’t get the reference.

It also formed a bond with my brother, Miles, in a perhaps unlikely way. Miles is a massive cricket fan and his cricketing hero was one Mike Atherton. Mike Atherton was a big Smiths fan, and cited this as his favourite album, which inspired our kid to get into the album.

And finally, when I went travelling in the middle-East after I left school, amongst the many friends I met there was a South African girl named Lara. We bonded over a love of The Smiths and The Cure, and vowed that when she came to England, we’d go and see them both together. We made it to The Cure in late 1997, at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. As for Moz, we finally saw him together at the MEN Arena in 2004, when it was Morrissey’s 45th birthday. The last song? ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.’

The Smiths -‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.’ mp3

Some more Smiths related stuff…

Isn’t YouTube fab? This is a clip of Sandie Smith singing The Smiths song ‘Jeane.’

The Smiths and Sandie Shaw on a programme called ‘Charlie’s Bus’ (don’t remember it, but I would have been around eight at the time. Probably watching Saturday Morning Superstore or something).

Also this link is
Sandie Shaw & The Smiths doing Hand In Glove on Top Of the Pops in 1984. [embedding disabled by request, you’ll just have to go to the link]

Pretty cool, the Smiths working with Sandie Shaw. No-one could top that, could they? Until this

And of course, Bryan Ferry’s 1987 single, The Right Stuff which a) featured Johnny Marr on guitar and b) was based on The Smiths’ ‘Money Changes Everything.’

Album Review: The Smiths

The Smiths -‘The Sound Of The Smiths’ (Warners)

Another year, another Smiths compilation? Well, of course, that does depend on which edition of this album you get. The selling point of this album, and surely the attraction to many of us is Disc 2, with many rarities (though still no ‘Work Is A Four Letter Word’).

Rather than dwelling on yet another Smiths compilation, let us focus on the music instead. For a band that were together for five years, with a recording career of four, The Smiths had a highly productive work-rate where the bar was set almost impossibly high for anyone to follow. Morrissey and Marr surely rate up there with Lennon and McCartney or Jagger and Richards as a songwriting team. They recorded so many classic songs that it’s hard just to focus on one or two…but if you’re a certain age and you haven’t heard these songs, what the hell have you been doing? ‘How Soon Is Now?’ remains my favourite. With its’ middle-eight:

‘There’s a club if you’d like to go,
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go and you dance on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home, and you cry,
And You Want To Die.’

‘Songs That Saved Your Life (referencing a track ‘Rubber Ring’, which is not included here) was the name of a book about the Smiths’ music, and the reality is that their music did just that. As a miserable teenager, wondering if I’d ever get a girlfriend, this song spoke volumes to me. Years later, it soundtracked the mid-twenties slump as my relationships soured badly, and it still soundtracked break-up misery. ‘Meat Is Murder’ was definitely a factor in me becoming vegetarian, and apparently one of the most influential things on many people becoming vegetarian over the last twenty-five years. I was marginally displeased when one school friend wrote ‘Sixteen, clumsy and shy’ inside my Christmas card one year, though it was probably very accurate. The night I freaked out listening to ‘Suffer Little Chidlren’ and that image of Myra Hindley (shudder) filled my head. The girl I fancied who I got into The Smiths, if even just a little bit (we’re still very good friends).

…and these are just my own stories. How many other people spent their teenage years clutching their Smiths records, living through them? Even repeated readings of Adrian Mole hadn’t prepared us for how sodding awful teenage life would be. Marr made it seem like you could be a guitar hero without being a prat, Morrissey that beiong a rock god was not all about being full of testosterone. The fact is, it’s not just about adolescence remembered, these songs are classic from any era. And yes there was misery (sometimes too much, ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’ is the sort of thing that gave The Smiths’ detractors everything they needed on one seven inch single). But there was humour, dry observation, wit, and that music. When I heard The Queen Is Dead aged fourteen, it was pretty much a road to damascus moment. It wasn’t always easy getting hold of The Smiths’ music in the early nineties, with the collapse of Rough Trade; the studio albums were only avilable on expensive import from the US. Quite how four studio albums as strong as theirs were allowed to go unavailable is a mystery.

The music remains timeless. The second disc reminds us of tracks that perhaps fell a little down the list of how good they were – but I’ve loved listening to ‘Jeane’ ‘Please Please Please Let me Get What I Want’ and ‘Oscillate Wildly’ again.

So, we’ve heard these songs before. But why not once again?


Listening posts:




A veritable Peel-related Pot Pourri!

Tonight’s selection is a variety of Peel-related music:

First up, this was not a Festive Fifty entry, but it was a request earlier in the week, so cheers to Tom at Indie mp3 for this:

Shop Assistants -Ace Of Spades (Peel Session).’ mp3

Another band that seem impossible to track down, so cheers for these…

Mighty Mighty -‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.44)

Public Enemy -‘You’re Gonna Get Yours (Terminator X Getaway version).’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.38)

The Fall -‘Lucifer Over Lancashire.’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.37) (apparently the ‘Theology mix’ is a joke. I knew that.)

Some lost Smiths classics, including one of my favourite tracks of theirs ever, Sheila Take a Bow:

Smiths -‘Sweet And Tender Hooligan.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.23)

Smiths -‘Sheila Take a Bow.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.34)

Jesus and Mary Chain did pretty well in the Festive Fifty between 1984 and 1988, though they cropped up again in the nineties, too:

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Kill Surf City.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.39)

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Nine Million Rainy Days.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.41)

Madder Rose did well in ’93 and managed a brace of entries in 1994 too:

Madder Rose -‘Car Song.’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.19)

Madder Rose -‘Panic On.’ mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.35)

Thanks to everyone who has helped me locate tracks. You rock.

You know what I’m going to ask now, don’t you?

*weary groans*

That’s right! I’m on the scrounge for stuff I still cannot find…

From 1994:

That Dog -‘One summer Night.’

Orbital -‘Are We Here.’

Salt Tank -‘Charged Up.’

R.O.C. -‘Girl with A Crooked Eye.’

400th post -STILL keeping it Peel

(John Peel in 2004. If it’s good enough for him…)

Well, seemingly just a couple of months after I did my 300th post, here is the 400th. There will be many more to come in the following few days, my interiew with Foxface, my review of Sons and Daughters/Black Kids/Broken Records’ gig…but to celebrate, some more music that made John Peel’s Festive Fifty:

First up, given that this blog has done its’ best to champion scots indie, one of Edinburgh’s top acts:

Ballboy -‘I gave up my eyes to a man who couldn’t see.’ mp3

This was actually only a b-side originally, to ‘True Faith’ but was later remixed and a hit in its own right in early 1995.

New Order -‘1963.’ mp3

I haven’t featured the Smiths so far on these Festive Fifty posts, not because I don’t love them – I do very much, but couldn’t decide what. Anyway, in the end it’s this one, very appropriate for the 400th post:

Smiths -‘I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.40)

This band weren’t on the c86 compilation, nor were they scottish, but it’s easy to understand how people might think they were both of these things. How this only reached no 50 is a mystery, but hey…

Talulah Gosh -‘Talulah Gosh.’ mp3
(1987 Festive Fifty no.50)

Pete Astor, who also recorded as The Wisdom Of Harry, and the Loft, is one of the greats of underground English indie:

Weather Prophets -‘Almost Prayed.’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.13)

These two tracks were ones I had never heard of before I did research into the Festive Fifty…but I’m glad I did:

Membranes -‘Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder.’ mp3 (1984 Festive Fifty no.6)

Frank Chickens -‘Blue Canary.’ mp3 (1984 Festive Forty no.42)

…and another goodie from 1984. A bad year politically in so many ways, but a great year for music:

Propaganda -‘Dr. Mabuse.’ mp3 (1984 Festive Fifty no.31)

Welsh act melys topped the Festive Fifty in 2001 with ‘Chinese Whispers’ but they had some other entries including this excellent track the same year:

Melys -‘I Don’t Believe In You.’ mp3 (2001 Festive Fifty no.35)

And another welsh act to finish:

Helen Love -‘Girl About Town.’ mp3 (1996 Festive Fifty no.10)

Thanks to all my readers for support and comments, here’s to the next…?