Does there have to be a reason?

Well, yes, it’s the 1st of October, so two songs with the title, erm ‘October.’

First up, A-ha. Their Scoundrel Days was one of the first albums I ever owned, given to me as tenth birthday present, on cassette. Rather like The Bangles’ Different Light, it’s an album that reminds me of being ten and getting into music and buying it. Both are albums I eventually bought on vinyl.

Next: U2. It’s so easy to slag U2 off, but they made some great records. I’ve always had a soft spot for October the album, even though it seems to be way down on the list of most people’s favourite U2 albums. This, the title track is a beautiful piece of music – and it should come as no surprise on hearing this that they went on to work with Brian Eno many times.

Meanwhile, my review of the Alt-J album can be found over at God Is In The TV

Just what it says on the tin


Come this time of year, and particuarly given the Scottish weather, i guess a kind of melancholy seeps in.

And there’s all kinds of music that’s suitable for that, but the album I’ve been playing most over the last few days is U2’s October. In many ways it’s one of the forgotten gems of their catalogue -which now tsretches back thirty years. It’s not the debut, the commercial breakthrough album, the drastic change of direction album, the hello we are now the biggest band in the world album, the greatest album in their catalogue…or so on. When the first U2 best of appeared in 1998, there was only one track that appeared – ‘October’ played at the end of the best of U2 1980-1990 if you left ‘All I Want Is You’ to play.

U2 appeared at around the same time as Simple Minds and Echo and the Bunnymen. All three who produced great records (and some rubbish), often got bracketed together as bands who’d come out of the post-punk era, and both U2 and the Minds were never seen as being as experimental (or perhaps as cool) as the Bunnymen. And the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch’s famous lips would no doubt turn into a snarl at someone still bracketing his band together with those two all these decdes later.

U2 actually made it onto Top Of the Pops with ‘Fire’ in 1981, which reached the dizzying heights of no.35 in the UK, although it reached no.4 in Ireland. Is this a classic TOTP moment? Well…perhaps in retrospect…

The band were in the midst of a spiritual crisis; all bar bassist Adam Clayton were members of a religious sect called Shalom and nearly called it a day, before deciding to leave Shalom instead. Certainly themes of Christianity and spirituality run through much of U2’s work but no more than on this album, and very much through the two singles ‘Fire’ and ‘Gloria,’ the latter must rank as one of the few singles to have brought latin into the charts (no.55 in the UK, no.10 in Ireland)

But it’s some of the other tracks that show just how U2 could and would experiment. The Uilleann pipes were played by Vincent Kilduff on ‘Tomorrow’, a song that deals with Bono’s mother’s death in 1974, which had as profound effect on him musically, spiritually and lyrically as John Lennon dealing with the sense of abandonment by his mother Julia or Madonna’s loss to her mother of cancer.

‘There’s a black car at the side of the road, don’t go to the door don’t go to the door,’ sings Bono. If you don’t believe that U2 have the ability to move you then listen to this track at least. ‘Who heals the wounds? Who heals the scars? Open the door, open the door.’

And the title track, less than two and a half minutes long, just The Edge on piano and Bono singing. Somewhere between a lullaby, a lament and a nursery rhyme: ‘October, and the streets are stripped bare of all they wear -what do I care? October and kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall -but you go on…and on…’

I can’t speak for whether this album has the same resonance for someone living in the southern hemisphere -I’m inlined to think that spring there has the same resonance of rebirth that we have in the northern hemisphere. But the terrible beauty of the autum at the other end of the Celtic fringe, of this album, resonates in the weather nearly thirty years later.

U2 -‘Tomorrow.’ mp3

U2 -‘October.’ mp3

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day…


Stiff Little Fingers -‘Suspect Device.’

U2 -‘With Or Without You.’

Thin Lizzy -‘Whisky In the Jar.’

Clannad -‘Theme From Harry’s Game.’ (Yes, I’m serious. grow up, fashion nazi)

Sultans of Ping FC -‘Where’s Me Jumper?’

Undertones -‘Jimmy Jimmy.’

It’s not just about Belfast or Dublin, y’know! Mind you, it was depressing how many pictures of leprechauns turned up when I googled St. Patrick’s Day…

A Christmas heart-breaker


I don’t know what the consensus is these days on Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift To You – is he now as vilified as Gary Glitter? I don’t believe so, though I offer no defence for his actions. Whatever the man may have been like, there was some great music and that famous ‘Wall Of Sound.’

One of the best known songs from A Christmas Gift To You is ‘Christmas (Baby Plase Come Home),’ as performed by darlene Love.This has been covered on numerous occasions, some of them almost as old as the original, which is now 46 years old.
Darlene Love is still performing live. Another song recorded in 1992 ‘All Alone On Christmas’ turned up on the soundtrack to both Home Alone 2 and Love, Actually. She is due to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame next year. About time.

So here are her original, and some notable covers:

Darlene Love -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

U2 -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

Arab Strap -‘Xmas (Baby please Come Home).’ mp3

Death Cab For Cutie -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

Slow Club -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

Songs For Christmas VIII

The Manic Street Preachers

so, for a change, here’s one new song this year. The Manic Street Preachers have made this available to those on their mailing list…and so why not share it?

Manic Street Preachers -‘Christmas Ghost.’ mp3

I don’t know much about the origin of the tune Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), but I have three versions of it, by U2 (who are the first band I heard do it), Death Cab For Cutie, and Scotland’s own Arab Strap:

U2 -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

Death Cab For Cutie -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

Arab Strap -‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).’ mp3

Enjoy. There will, naturally, be more tomorrow… : ))


Hooray! It’s a holi, holi-day (well, it feels like one)

Much excitement at 17 Seconds towers: 17 Seconds really did make it into the blog roll at The Guardian on Saturday, as did regular comments leavers Song, By Toad and the Vinyl Villain.

So, some songs to celebrate:

U2-‘A Celebration.’ mp3

Happy Mondays -‘Hallelujah (Club Mix).’ mp3

Kelis -‘Good Stuff.’ mp3

James Brown -‘Sex Machine.’ mp3

And of course, the song that gave this blog its name:

The Cure -‘Seventeen Seconds.’ mp3

As always, if you like the song, support the artists involved.